Pixel Scroll 7/15/18 Old Filer’s Scroll Of Practical Pixels

(1) AMERICA’S FAVORITE DOCTOR. Welby? Casey? Kildare? Guess Who….? Thursday on BBC America:

Have TARDIS, will time travel: The new special “Doctor Who: The Lost Episode” uses remastered footage and new animation to reconstruct an unfinished 1970s-era tale from the venerable British science fiction drama penned by “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams and starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. 8 p.m. BBC America

(2) DEAL ALL THE CARDS. The Doctor figures in “The Pigs in Space” sketch at The Muppets Take the O2 (Arena) show, too.

(3) TASTE TEST. Cat Rambo turns in another sweet critique to The Green Man Review: “The Prettiest Candy: Albanese World’s Best Mini Gummi Butterflies”.

Having recently discovered that my favorite gummi bears were possibly made with child labor, I went looking for a substitute recently and picked up a bag of Albanese Mini Gummi Butterflies.

Candy is often not pretty, particularly when chocolate is involved, but these candies, shaped like butterflies, look like little stained glass jewels. The flavors are blue raspberry, cherry, grape, green apple, orange, and strawberry, with the usual scheme of color vaguely indicating flavor….

(4) SHADOW CLARKE JURY DELIBERATIONS. Fell a little behind linking to these posts…..

…I went a bit overboard (OH GOD HELP I CAN’T STOP) but you get the point. There’s a completely functional and immensely fun version of this story that puts it solidly in the Hunger Games/Limetown bracket of ‘tough heroic female lead discovers something terrible and vows to defeat it.’ I love stories like those, especially when they’re folded into this kind of post-apocalyptic subset of fiction.

But what Curtis does here is untidier, harder to achieve, newer and ultimately more rewarding. Nerissa is living day to day after losing everything, so she isn’t party to what would be the central plot in a more traditional dystopia. The parts she discovers, especially the transhumanism elements of the final act, feel earned and contextualized precisely because she discovers them when she does….

 As I said when making my selection of books to review for the Shadow Clarke, I didn’t expect to see Ian McDonald’s Luna: Wolf Moon on the shortlist. Having read it, I don’t have any direct criticism of the Clarke jury for neglecting it but that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the novel. In fact, I enjoyed it very much and also its predecessor, Luna: New Moon, which I read immediately beforehand. That, of course, is one of the problems with considering a sequel or volume from a series for an award; it is going to be difficult to judge it without knowledge of the preceding story. Especially, when, as in this case, we are dealing with the middle volume in a trilogy which directly picks up strands from the first volume and also does recognisable work in setting up its successor. Therefore, despite the fact that Luna: Wolf Moon contains a strong narrative arc of its own and leaves the reader feeling as satisfied as if they have read a standalone novel, it is nonetheless not directly comparable because it is not entirely self-contained. Experience suggests that judges are generally inclined to favour the single-volume work (and on a practical level they are probably unwilling to read earlier series volumes on top of lengthy submission lists).

To kick off my Shadow Clarke experience, I’ve started with John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, a novel based on a singularly intriguing premise. In a far distant future, humanity exists in an interplanetary empire called the Interdependency, its far-flung outposts connected by the Flow: a series of natural space-time currents that facilitate fast travel between different parts of the universe. As the Flow exists without concern for human planetary preferences – and as the Flow route to Earth was lost centuries ago – the majority of people live underground, in planetary habitats or in space stations along these Flow routes, with trade and travel controlled by aristocratic Guild families. Only one habitable world exists: the planet of End, so-called because it’s the most distant realm in the Interdependency, accessible only by a single pair of Flow streams connecting it to Hub, where the Emperox rules. But the Flow, so long assumed stable, is collapsing, threatening the survival of the entire Interdependency – and, as a consequence, of the human race….

…When I originally added Water & Glass to my short list, I suspected that the plot’s concern with a group of (largely European-coded) survivors onboard a submarine, the Baleen, would herald “an already present anxiety about intimacy, trauma, and reproductive concerns.” Given its thematic concerns from the blurb, I guessed that as a Noah’s Ark tale, the plot would likely revolve around questions of “precariousness and interdependent survival, resettling, and the possibility or repopulation or extinction,” though within the frameworks of the novel itself they were unable to gather more than a few animals, rather than any idea of two of a wide variety. Since reproduction felt central to Water & Glass’ concerns, the blurb itself led me to worry about the likelihood of queerphobia or eugenics in play, and unfortunately this assumption is almost entirely borne out. While queerness is entirely and frustratingly absented from this narrative (its own form of queerphobia), a concern with eugenics and human evolution through human-animal gene splicing is one of the grand revelations of the piece….

Dreams Before the Start of Time is beautifully written. The prose is clear, sometimes sparse, quite subtle in the way it provides a smooth emotional surface whilst signalling a great depth of feeling within the many characters. It is also an excellent science fiction novel-of-ideas, with clear themes and careful working out of the societal implications of new technology. How wonderful! …

American War has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…


Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by OWIs — vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, and Brittle is one of the holdouts.

Left to my own devices, it’s rare for me to write criticism for books I haven’t finished. If I find a book boring or if it simply isn’t for me, there’s little motive to write a partial review to that effect, and so I don’t say anything; alternatively, if a work annoys me so much that I want to nitpick it in detail, I usually spite-read the entirety to be sure my facts are in order. In this instance, however, I feel justified in submitting criticism based on partial reads for two main reasons. Firstly, the Shadow Clarke jury is, by design and definition, reactive: we are here to pass judgement on award selections that have already been made by other people, and to do so in only 300-500 words per book. That being so, while we’ve certainly been given the scope and opportunity to write longer, more in-depth criticisms if we want, at base, we’ve been asked to provide a pass/fail grade on whether we feel a particular book merited its inclusion on the shortlist, with only a cursory explanation as to why.

Which leads to the second point: we are doing this on a fairly tight schedule which – for me, personally – overlaps with packing up my house and family in preparation for an international move. Work on the Shadow Clarke is unpaid, done as a labour of love for the genre; and while I’m happy to participate on those conditions, I am not a masochist….

Reading American War directly after Borne is an interesting experience, if not exactly a cheerful one. Where Vandermeer’s novel carefully files the comfort of specific geography off every element of it’s world, El Akkad builds his dystopian America in painful familiarity. North and South, Blue and Red. CNN and Fox. The political and ideological dividing lines that it’s impossible to avoid in the hourly news cycle are the frame work for El Akkad’s novel. Or at the very least, the foundation.

In a near-future London, Millie Dack places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medic console. The diagnosis is devastating.

In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, Millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?

Through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut story explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…Cargill is a screenwriter first and foremost and its impossible not to see the influence of his primary craft here. That’s not a criticism either, there’s no sense of this being a lightly expanded movie treatment designed to be dropped onto a producer’s desk as an unusually fancy leave behind. Rather, this is a book steeped in the iconography and tempo of modern American cinema and that’s both interesting and not always a good thing for book or reader….

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.

At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…The greatest problem for me with Gather the Daughters is that no one is allowed to behave or think or speak like an adult. (We have only to think of the depth of field achieved by Margaret Atwood in her characterisation of The Handmaid’s Tale to see how Melamed’s novel is deficient in this regard.) A narrative that depends on compliance will inevitably run out of steam, as this one does. History has proved to us time and again that holding down a dictatorship is difficult work – sooner rather than later the peasants begin to uncover the injustices and deceptions perpetrated against them, and start to revolt. You have to kill a lot of people to keep these systems going, and even so your days as a despot are numbered from the beginning. On the island, the only reason nothing has come unstuck for the Wanderers so far is because everyone else in the community insists on behaving like characters in a YA dystopia….

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

What is it I look for in science fiction? The answer will be different for everyone, of course, and some who followed last year’s Shadow Clarke project may have come away with the impression that I don’t really like science fiction at all, that I’ll always find something to gripe about because that’s the kind of critic I am.

The truth is that I want books to be brilliant, and that’s what I go in hoping, every time. Most of all I hope to be shocked and surprised by a new voice or a new idea or a new way with words, to be seduced by science fiction all over again. Although Jeff VanderMeer can scarcely be described as a new voice, the effect of reading Borne has been transfiguring, like water after drought. After a long dry spell in which I honestly thought I’d had it with the genre, encountering Borne has left me on a high, inspired to join in the conversation once again.

(5) EXERCISE YOUR FRANCHISE. One of File 770’s self-imposed duties is to chronicle the many genre awards. Few are as exotic as Chuck Wendig’s — “Awkward Author Contest 2018: Winner, And Now It’s Your Turn”. He has picked JD Buffington as the first winner, and called on his blog readers to vote on the other entries.

Here are the rest — there are 40 more submissions.

They are utterly weird and wonderful. You will find some familiar faces in here, perhaps.

Your job now is:

Pick your favorite.

Just one.


Go to the comments section below.

Type in the number of your favorite photo — the number that corresponds with the photo in Flickr. Aka, the photo’s title.

That’s it.

Type nothing else, or your vote may not be counted.

Do not choose two.

Choose one, type only the number.

We’ll keep voting open till Wednesday, July 25th.

Enjoy. Vote. See you on the other side.


  • A bad pun produced by a great mashup of comic and movie references in Brevity.

(7) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Business Insider lists “15 books famous scientists think you should read”.

We compiled a list of book recommendations from a handful of illustrious minds by combing the web for quotes, checking out personal blogs, and just asking them directly. The picks below come from popular scientists including author and television personality Bill Nye, surgeon-turned-writer Siddhartha Mukherjee, and globe-trotting primatologist Jane Goodall.

The books they’ve recommended range from high fantasy, like Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” to canonical, like Plato’s seminal work “The Republic.”

Here are 15 books that brilliant scientists consider must-reads…

(8) AIR CAB. No discussion of what fares will be: “Rolls Royce develops propulsion system for flying taxi”.

Rolls said the initial concept for EVTOL used gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, specially designed to have a low noise profile.

Its wings would be able to rotate 90 degrees, enabling the vehicle to take off or land vertically. It could also use existing heliports and airports.

“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” the firm said.

(9) PROJECT LAUNCHED. The BBC reports — “Lift-off for Scotland: Sutherland to host first UK spaceport”.

Lockheed has made no secret of its desire to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand.

A British version of the rocket would have an upper-stage developed and built at LM’s UK HQ in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

“This is a defining moment for UK Space,” a spokesperson for the company told BBC News. “Lockheed Martin has been working with Britain for over 80 years and we stand ready to support the development of UK launch capability should our extensive experience in developing space infrastructure be called upon.”

(10) INFLUENTIAL ANIME. In the Washington Post, Hau Chu looks at the 30th anniversary of Akira (first released in Japan on July 15, 1988) and sees it as “inspiring a generation of works to come”, including “Stranger Things,” a Kanye West music video, and Rian Johnson’s Looper: “Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later”.

For the film’s cyberpunk look, Otomo drew from his own pop culture obsessions, including “Blade Runner,” which influenced the towering skyscrapers of Neo Tokyo, and “Tron,” whose neon-illuminated motorcycles inspired the hordes of biker gangs.

Otomo had been a respected illustrator of manga, Japanese comics. But for “Akira,” instead of trying to match his anime peers in Japan, he was working from European comic artists such as Moebius — an influential artist for the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Otomo’s drawings for “Akira” were distinctive for their realism; he used lighting, color and an attention to detail to create a vivid, lived-in space.

(11) DRAGONS FOREVER. In August, the USPS will issue a set of stamps featuring dragons: “Postal Service to Feature Mythological Creatures on Stamps at APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show”.

The U.S. Postal Service will be joined by the American Philatelic Society (APS) to unveil four colorful stamp designs of 16 Forever stamps depicting dragons — the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia — at the APS national summer convention and stamp show Aug. 9-12 in Columbus, OH.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

…The new stamps will be issued as a pane of 16 stamps showcasing one of four designs: a green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle; a purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle; a black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and a wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio.

(12) TRAILER PARK. 7 Splinters in Time — now in theaters.

Directed by: Gabriel Judet-Weinshel Detective Darius Lefaux is called to identify a body that is identical to him. As he dives into the harrowing case, different versions of himself begin to emerge and haunting memories of lives not lived fill his mind. Darius soon realizes that not all versions of himself are good and that he must find his other self, before it finds him.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

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47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/15/18 Old Filer’s Scroll Of Practical Pixels

  1. Those dragon stamps code for me, left to right, as fire, air, water and earth. Just a coincidence….?

    Also, pre-pre-fifth!

  2. @Cassy B: I didn’t notice at first look, but your read of the dragon stamps seems plausible.

    edit: Fifth!

    more after I’ve crunched through all the Clarke-related reviews; I expect they will be both stimulating and aggravating.


    I’ve been reading these as they were posted, and I was pleased to see that someone — Gary K. Wolfe, of course, bless him for that — was finally willing to address the elephant in the room with Spaceman of Bohemia.

  4. 7) So, if I counted correctly, there were two female recommenders, and three recommended books with female authors. <irony> I guess women just can’t do science or write! </irony>


  5. Lenore Jones / jonesnori: if I counted correctly, there were two female recommenders, and three recommended books with female authors.

    The overall totals are a little better than that. The jury consists of 3 men, 2 women, and 1 genderqueer member.

    Here are their picks (these must come from the longlist and are generally books they have not already read; it’s my understanding that they can also rank and discuss books on the longlist which they have read, especially if one of the other jurists has it on their list):

    Nick Hubble
    Nicola Barker, H(a)ppy
    Omar El Akkad, American War
    N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky
    Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia
    Ian McDonald, Luna: Wolf Moon
    Michelle Tea, Black Wave

    Maureen Kincaid Speller
    James Bradley, Clade
    Angus Peter Campbell, Memory and Straw.
    Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia
    Adam Roberts, The Real-Town Murders
    Michelle Tea, Black Wave
    David Zindell, The Idiot Gods

    Foz Meadows
    Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles
    Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep
    Nick Harkaway, Gnomon
    Kameron Hurley, The Stars are Legion
    Laura Lam, Shattered Minds
    China Mieville, The Last Days of New Paris
    John Scalzi, The Collapsing Empire

    Samira Nadkarni
    Keith Yatsuhashi, Kokoro
    N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky
    Paul McAuley, Austral
    Abi Curtis, Water & Glass
    Adrian Tchaikovsky, Dogs of War
    Wendy K Wagner, An Oath of Dogs

    Alasdair Stuart
    Omar El Akkad, American War
    GX Todd, Defender
    Alex Wells, Hunger Makes The Wolf
    Jeff VanderMeer, Borne
    Mohsin Hamid, Exit West
    Abi Curtis, Water & Glass

    Gary K. Wolfe
    Nina Allen, The Rift
    James Bradley, Clade
    Nick Harkaway, Gnomon
    Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia
    Annalee Newitz, Autonomous
    Paul McAuley, Austral

  6. (2) Love it!

    (4) I’m liking Samira Nadkarni. She says good things good. (Ook.) On the whole I like this year’s Sharkes much better.

    (5) I can’t decide!

    @JJ: I think Lenore was referring to the Business Insider article, which was indeed dude-heavy.

  7. (4) Shadow Clarke
    I have mixed feelings about Meadows’ review of The Collapsing Empire – I don’t really disagree with what she writes, but I dislike the way she scratches off the fun veneer of the book and exposes all the flaws. I suppose the fault lies with the book – the book is a fun light read if you don’t think too deeply about what’s going on, but falls apart if you start analysing it.

    Also, every time I see the title Luna: Wolf Moon I think it’s a werewolf romance.

  8. 2) hahahaha
    In other news, the Twitch stream today gets up to the 6th Doctor, to whom I am not as hostile as I once was, but still really is not my cup of tea. (I’l definitely try to watch The Two Doctors, though)

    11) Oh, want! A good excuse to send out postcards…

  9. @Cassy B: Things get a bit weird with the last one though – Chinese dragons are (typically) associated with water – they do, after all, make their homes in the rivers and seas and are usually seen as controlling the weather, specifically rain and storms, as well as other water-related phenomena.

  10. @Oneiros, yes, but the last stamp has no water in it (well maybe a little speck of blue near the bottom), and the Chinese dragon is winding through (around? under) a hill….


    Mea culpa, I was keeping an eye on these and sending them to Mike last year, but it seems my RSS feed for them died and I didn’t notice the absence. Now got lots to catch up with!

  12. @Cassy B: if not for the pagoda I’d have been happy to assume it could be something like the Lambton Worm (a fairly well known and popular folktale where I’m from). Anyway I’m inclined to agree with your coding of the images, despite my nitpickiness about Asian dragons 🙂

  13. Plus, the Lambton Worm was said to have wrapped itself around a hill near Sunderland – the version I know has it wrapped around Penshaw Hill, and supposedly you can still see the marks it made.

  14. We usually separate dragons from lindworms. I’ve always assumed the Lambton worm was one of the latter type. An I do love the movie Lair of The White Worm about that story (the book not so much).

  15. @Johan P.

    (4) Shadow Clarke
    I have mixed feelings about Meadows’ review of The Collapsing Empire – I don’t really disagree with what she writes, but I dislike the way she scratches off the fun veneer of the book and exposes all the flaws. I suppose the fault lies with the book – the book is a fun light read if you don’t think too deeply about what’s going on, but falls apart if you start analysing it.

    I liked Foz Meadows’ review of The Collapsing Empire a whole lot, because she touched on many issues I had with the book. Because I have been stunned to see so many positive reactions to The Collapsing Empire and comparatively little criticism, even though the book simply isn’t very good. And what criticism there is usually comes from the sort of people who only hate The Collapsing Empire, because they hate Scalzi.

  16. Must admit, Collapsing Empire was the first Scalzi I’d ever read, and after all the good things I’ve heard about the guy, I was surprised and disappointed by it. Not that it was exactly bad, just… sort of mediocre. (What the heck, this is what I thought about it.) I don’t believe in “leave your brain at the door” entertainment, anyway. My brain deserves to be entertained as much as the rest of me.

  17. iirc the “dragon” in Beowulf displays features of the “classic” fire-breathing dragon and also of wyrms/worms. Chances are that the two creatures come from a similar source, or were two separate entities that met in a culture clash and were similar enough to get mixed up in each other and then got separated out or blended together depending on time, region, etc.

  18. I get fire, earth (spines and tail mimic the mountains; shape of the dragon draws the eye down), water, and air (sinuous shape reminds me of wind in the trees; dragon is moving up).

  19. I agree with Cora and Steve Wright about Collapsing Empire. It was a decent book but that’s about it. While I really dig Scalzi as a human being, his writing is just competent overall. And I thoroughly believe that entertainment should be well-written (see P.G. Wodehouse for a great example).

  20. JJ, Lurkertype is right – I was talking about the Business Insider list.

    Off to have an updated hearing test today, and get my hearing aids looked at. I’ve been noticeably deafer than usual for months, but comorbid depression was keeping me from doing anything about it. I finally called last month to make an appointment. I am hoping the problem is the hearing aids and not my underlying hearing, but that they can be repaired. If they have to be replaced, that is a lot of money. Cat surgery levels of money. If it’s my hearing (quite possible, at 60), I will almost certainly need new aids. Will report back.

  21. I have not read The Collapsing Empire, because I got fed up with Scalzi’s stuff.

    I liked Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, but thought The Last Colony was meh. I gave up on Zoe’s Tale, which was just The Last Colony again from a different viewpoint, and threw The Human Division against a wall early on with a stupid scene about Black Body Radiation.

    Walter John Williams can write think-free space opera that keeps me turning the pages, but Scalzi’s interchangeable smartass characters just get boring after a while.

  22. I’ve commented before that the Collapsing Empire was entertaining enough, but the pacing was very offputting. Structurally, it’s as if The Fellowship of the Ring ended with the Council of Elrond. A find read, but more of a story fragment than a whole tale. Given a few years, I suspect that there’s going to be an omnibus edition that reads like a single proper book and will be much better. Regardless I’m waiting for the rest of the series to be out before I pick it up again. There’s too much good stuff out there to bother reading a book in serialized thirds or quarters separated by years.

  23. Those dragon stamps are cool! I feel an addition to my stamp collection coming in the near future!

    Meredith Moment:

    Artful by Peter David is selling at Amazon US for $0.99. It’s about the Artful Dodger with vampires.

    Not genre, but a book I’m pointing out here nonetheless because it’s good. Another Country by James Baldwin is on sale at Amazon US for $2.99

  24. I thought it was interesting how Meadows’ review was very technical, a review by another fiction writer. She focused on how the story would have been improved had it been structured differently; she addressed plot inconsistencies and how they could have been fixed. I don’t think I’ve read a review like that before.

  25. Scalzi: Read Lock In before you conclude that he’s not that good.

    But no, he’s a writer of solid, reliable fiction, not someone who produces great writing.

    (1) I think those of us who clearly remember Doctors Casey, Kildare, and Welby may getting thinner upon the ground. Early sixties, mid-sixties, late sixties. And two of the three actors have died, while Richard Chamberlain is 84.

    Of course, Tom Baker is also 84, and he’s still my favorite Doctor.

  26. Finished at audiologist. Excellent news: very minor drop in hearing (5 DB), and hearing aids are fine. He cleaned in areas I can’t get to, and adjusted them a bit louder. So, we’ll see! I am much relieved.

  27. 4) That Foz Meadows Scalzi review was excellent. I have fun reading Scalzi’s work, but for me he’s a lot like Charlie Stross: his blog is significantly more interesting–and better written, frankly–than his fiction, which in both cases is fun but not much else.

    Her defence of putting down a book, though… not so excellent. While it’s one thing to put down a book as a private reader, it’s something else entirely to do so as a critic, especially when you’ve entered into specific obligations, paid or not paid. I’m fine with turning down a project because it’s unpaid, but once you’ve agreed to do the thing, you do the thing, whether it’s boring or hard or your life gets busy or whatever. I think it’s especially important when it’s a project that has the kind of aims the Shadow Clarke has. That being said, Christopher Priest’s comment on the article is pretty dickish (of course critics are self-proclaimed, there are only a handful of professionals who can afford to do this full time–none at all in my country, for instance–and j-school doesn’t exactly offer specific training on this work; literally all of us are critics because we put down a soapbox somewhere and started talking in the hopes people would find some value in what we had to say; it’s not like there’s a fucking guild).

    5) I get a 503: Service Unavailable server error on the first link.

  28. (4) Foz Meadows – In defense of putting down a book….

    I wonder which two books she is talking about. In any case, Dorothy Parker would approve! I didn’t read her review of The Collapsing Empire to see if it was one of the two.

    FWIW, it looks like I’m in good company with respect to The Collapsing Empire.

    [tagline was entirely fortuitous]

    This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. – Dorothy Parker

  29. @4: I found the discussions interesting (and supportive, especially on the plausibility of American War) and even illuminating — and they left me with no desire to read the works I haven’t read. Maybe the list is too abstruse, or maybe I’m just losing my edge.

    @Johan P: I have no trouble with Meadows’s review of Scalzi; Foz is not looking for a simple fun read. I found this Scalzi as aggravating as I find most of them; they feel tossed-off, superficial, even pandering, enough that they’re not even much fun (and I’m not a hugely deep reader, as noted above). I did like Lock In and its sequel.

    I have a question about the teaser (Pixeled or a separate item recently) for the latest Doctor. Is the invisibility/hyperspeed/… something new, or was it introduced for a previous Doctor? I’ve only seen bits of the last how-many years, but I don’t remember that skill ever appearing; ISTM that it would have been too helpful not to be used in various tight spots, and I’m wondering whether the writers are going to have difficulty working around what looks like a get-out-of-trouble-free card.

  30. @Chip, I’ve been watching Doctor Who since the reboot (well, actually, I started late and caught up), and I don’t recall any such skill in evidence. We’ll see!

  31. Chip Hitchcock on July 16, 2018 at 9:56 am said:

    ISTM that it would have been too helpful not to be used in various tight spots, and I’m wondering whether the writers are going to have difficulty working around what looks like a get-out-of-trouble-free card.

    It is probably the result of some alien power/technology of the week, will have dangers that come along with it, and will not appear again unless it is needed in the season finale.

  32. Shadow jury: Oh, something to read, after Ive Slept! Which I havent much, because easyjet cancelled my flight back, gave me the option to wait two days for the next one (which we couldnt take, because my wife flies tomorrow again) or “we areon our own, sorry”.So bus and train it was from Copenhagen to Berlin with two kids. Not recommended. And easyjets customer service is a joke, not even acknowledging basic EU flight rights. Lawyer incoming!
    Sorry for the vent…

  33. The Doctor has often had odd one-off plot related powers – the respiratory bypass system, the “transmigration of objects” thing in “Ambassadors of Death”…. In the second Christopher Eccleston story, “The End of the World”, the Doctor does something that looks like slowing down time, subjectively, around him, so that he can step past the blades of a rapidly spinning industrial fan. That’s the only super-speed thing I’ve seen the Doctor do (unless you count Bessie and her minimum inertia hyperdrive.)

  34. So, after a deal not quite good enough to call it a Meredith Moment, I’m mostly caught up on the Unbelievable Gwenpool trades. (I’d read volumes one and two, bought number four on sale, and just got a decent price on number three, which let me read both latter books back to back. Book five is still regular price, though. Feh.)

    I think my brain is drooling on itself just a little.

    Gwenpool is one of the genre-savvy characters Marvel cooks up from time to time. Deadpool’s the most famous right now, but She-Hulk spent some time doing that shtick some time back. Gwen ramps it up by being sort of the reverse of DC’s Superboy Prime, who (last time I checked canon) got isolated in a pocket universe during a Crisis, punched his way back into the main universe, and was last seen getting ejected into Reality where his only power was the ability to troll DC’s message forums. Gwen, by comparison, a normal Marvel Comics fan who gets zapped into the Marvel Universe with all her fannish knowledge intact… meaning she knows everybody’s secret identity, among other things. She promptly deduces that her best chance of survival is to get a very pink costume, a couple of swords, and a lot of guns. This way, she reasons, she can be a protagonist instead of a random off-panel casualty, and away we go.

    These two volumes really dig into that, starting with an encounter with Deadpool (and arguing about who’d be allowed to kill the other) and subsequently showing how dangerous she could become if she turned evil instead of merely oblivious to civilian and mook casualties. Volume four shows her gaining She-Hulk’s old ability to break through panels and rip through pages (which is a bit jarring in digital format), culminating in a truly meta showdown in “gutter space” to conclude the arc.

    It’s twisty and weird and I like it a lot.

  35. I agree that it’s more defensible to finish a book before reviewing it for a project like the Sharkes, but having plodded through Dreams Before the Start of Time I don’t think there’s anything in the remaining 79% that would counter any of Meadow’s criticisms. There’s certainly space in SF for family-driven slice of life fiction driven by technological change, but the lack of modern social awareness completely undermined the value of the speculation in that book. Big nope.

    In general terms, I think post-DNF reviews can be very helpful as long as a reviewer is upfront about their biases, so it’s not “I *know* this book is objectively the worst thing ever after 20 pages” and more “I dislike X/can’t read books with Y, so I put this down at point Z, be aware you may have the same experience”. I’d much rather have that data point from a thoughtful reviewer, even if they didn’t read the whole text, than to only have the disproportionately positive opinions of those who finished it.

  36. There are all kinds of reviewers and review venues and all kinds of expectations and obligations. The Clarke Shadow Jury is a particular and peculiar entity, not so much a review venue (even though the pieces take the rhetorical form of the review) as a collective public conversation about a defined set of award-eligible texts and, implicitly, about the privately-conducted processes and evaluations of the official jury.

    In that context, a review that says, “This book is decent entertainment but has the following serious flaws that keep it from being an award contender” seems quite appropriate–even if it does become a detailed technical-aesthetic critique that an ordinary review audience might find less interesting than an executive summary.

    In fact, I would argue that a report of “I couldn’t get past page N” is a useful data point in a Sharke-style situation–especially if the cause of the pause can be specified and even expanded upon. It’s not something I would want to do myself, but I do find that kind of reporting, as sometimes seen here, interesting–about audiences more than about books. (And in any case, any review is a report from and about an audience of one.)

  37. @Steve Wright: The Doctor has often had odd one-off plot related powers. Sounds like lazy-writer syndrome — a bit like lazy-eye syndrome, only here the syndrome is applying the patch rather than having it applied.

  38. (2) DEAL ALL THE CARDS. LOL, that was cute.

    (5) EXERCISE YOUR FRANCHISE. Picture #3 isn’t awkward; it’s delightfully surreal.

    (11) DRAGONS FOREVER. Luvs it! Talk about a Meredith Moment. 😉 I probably won’t be able to find hide nor hair of the beasts, but I’ll try to remember to hunt them down, come dragon season.

    Hmm. ::looks at stamp #4:: ::looks at arm:: Nope, the colors are all wrong on stamp #4. 😛

    – – – – –

    @Robert Reynolds: There’s apparently a comic book adaptation of Peter David’s Artful. The concept doesn’t really grab me (book) and the art doesn’t either (comic), but FYI to anyone who likes the concept and likes comics.

    @Lisa Goldstein: “The third dragon stamp looks like it came from The Wizard of Earthsea.”

    Oh, yes! Good call! 😀

  39. On putting down books for review:

    When I was reviewing for my Crotchety Old Fan blog (“get off my genre!”), I had occasion to have to put down a few ARCs and pre-release copies. I hardly exaggerate when I say that I was seriously concerned that to continue reading them would result in serious, and permanent, dain bramage.

  40. Is there any way to ping the Green Man Review folks? There is a broken link in their July 15th roundup to a page on their own site–to Cat R.’s most recent book reviews–and I can’t find anything on their site that suggests a way to contact them.

  41. Regarding the Doctor Who teaser — that looked to this long-time Doctor Who fan more like tiny time loops (“chronic hystereses”) occurring as the Doctor arrived on the scene, with the companions-to-be the only people who noticed them happening, rather than a special power of the Doctor.
    The last time we saw the Doctor she had just been blown out the doors of the TARDIS into the space-time vortex, so one might expect some oddities when she emerged from it.

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