Pixel Scroll 7/16/20 I Been In The Right Pixel—But It Must Have Been The Wrong Scroll

(1) THE COUNT OF MOUNT TSUNDOKU. “100 Most Popular Fantasy Books on Goodreads”. I’ve read 16 of 100 – I’m not a voracious fantasy fan. See how well you do. Here’s what ranks at the top of the heap:

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate our favorite fictional worlds and characters, we went on a quest for the 100 most popular fantasies of all time on Goodreads, as determined by your fellow members.

Of course, as fantasy readers know, the journey itself matters just as much as the destination. To create our list, we first sought out the most reviewed books on our site. Additionally, each title needed at least a 3.5-star rating to join our fellowship of titles. And, since fantasy is known for its epic sagas, in the case of multiple titles from the same series we chose the one with the most reviews.

Here are the top fantasy books on Goodreads, listed from 1 to 100.

(2)  VIRTUAL SPACE AND SFFCON. CosmoQuest, a citizen science research organization, is holding a virtual con Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19 focused on space and science fiction. CosmoQuest-a-Con’s main events are free to watch at https://www.twitch.tv/cosmoquestx, but you can also buy a $20 ticket for other space talks, author readings, concerts, and demos. The funds go to providing benefits to CosmoQuest’s part-time staff. The con’s home page is here.

(3) HARASSMENT REPORTED. Extreme horror author Tim Miller was called out as a harasser by M.M. Schill and others. Thread begins here. Miller’s social media is no longer available (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). His website remains online. (Note: It’s not the director of the same name.)

Schill also indicated this callout could be shared.

(4) AFROFUTURISM. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron will offer “Sheree Renée Thomas and Friends on Afrofuturism and the Magic of Storytelling and Music” on July 18. Register at the link.

Sheree has more knowledge on the topic of the history of Afrofuturism than anyone we ever met, not to mention an incredible ability to bring it to life through nothing less than magic and wonder. Also coming on the show will be Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, and Danian Darrell Jerry. This Saturday, the 18th of July.

We will explore the magic of storytelling and music, and the power of community and art to affect personal and prophetic change.

(5) NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE. James Davis Nicoll comes up with “Five Strategies for Hiding a ‘Lost’ Civilization” at Tor.com.

Suppose for the moment that one is a science fiction or fantasy author, and further suppose that one wanted to posit a past great civilization whose existence comes as a complete surprise to modern folk. Let us also suppose that one wanted overlooking this lost civilization to be plausible… How might one go about this?

I’d tend to reject the “a secretive cabal always knew but kept it secret” explanation. People gossip. People love to show off their insider knowledge. People sometimes accidentally cut and paste entire sections of texts they’d really rather the world not know about into their tweets. Even valuable trade secrets tend to leak out given enough time. So where to hide a lost civilization? Here are five possibilities, to be used together or in concert….

(6) SOME TRUTH IS OUT THERE. “I recently discovered that—unlike in my twenties—at 46 years old I am able to spend innumerable hours watching The X-Files unassisted by marijuana.” “I don’t want to believe” at Affidavit.

… Over the last three months, two things have happened to me. Firstly, I’ve come to recognize my younger self in the character of Agent Fox Mulder, and feel shame appropriate to such an identification. Secondly, I’ve entered that most dangerous of all psychological terrain: nostalgia.

(7) PRO TIP. Ligtspeed’s “Author Spotlight” is on Adam-Troy Castro:

You reference Chekhov’s Gun, but adhere more scrupulously to the original quote than commonly seen: What’s your favorite advice to writers? Is there advice you commonly flout?

My favorite advice to writers is to wring the emotional reaction from yourself, first. When writing humor, you need to barely stand how witty you’re being; when you’re writing tragedy, you need to weep; when writing horror, you need to be appalled that this monstrous stuff is coming out of you. Hell, if you’re writing a thriller, you need to fear for your characters. Honestly, if you don’t react yourself, if it’s just a technical exercise, no one else is going to care either.

(8) IMAGINARY PAPERS 3. Today the Center for Science and the Imagination published the third issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. This issue features writing from SF author Troy L. Wiggins and the science writer Kate Greene. Here is a direct link, and here is a link to subscribe for future issues.

(9) GÖRG OBIT. Galyn Görg, a dancer and actress who appeared on such shows as Twin Peaks and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and in films including Point Break and RoboCop 2, has died of cancer at the age of 55.

… Görg starred as police detective Leora Maxwell on the 1994-95 Fox sci-fi drama M.A.N.T.I.S., co-created by Sam Raimi, and played Nancy O’Reilly, the sister of One Eyed Jacks madam Blackie O’Reilly (Victoria Catlin), on three episodes of ABC’s Twin Peaks in 1990.


  • July 16, 1955 Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe serial first aired. This black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures, originally began life as a proposed syndicated television series. It was written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman, and was directed by Harry Keller,  Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon. The cast was Judd Holdren as Commando Cody, Aline Towne as Joan Gilbert, William Schallert as Ted Richards and Richard Crane as Dick Preston . There would be twelve twenty five episodes. You can see the first episode, ‘Enemies of the Universe” here.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 16, 1723 –  Sir Joshua Reynolds.  First President of the Royal Academy of Arts.  Famed as a portraitist.  Intellectual enough to keep company with Burke, Goldsmith, Johnson.  Painting mythological subjects calls for fantasy: here is Juno Receiving the Cestus from Venushere is Diana Disarming Cupidhere is Theory.  (Died 1792) [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1882 Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in  “The Deadly Years” episode. 0ther genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man,  The Twilight ZoneFrankenstein’s Daughter, The Munsters, House of the DamnedThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.) (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1916 – Paul Freehafer.  Joined the SF League in 1934, thus part of First Fandom (active at least as early as the first Worldcon, 1939) although 1F was not organized, if the word may be used, until much later.  So helpful to his local club the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) that its service award is the Evans-Freehafer (after E. Everett Evans and PF).  Fanzine, Polaris.  More here. (Died 1944) [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1920 – Stan Woolston.  Printer and fan.  Life member of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n (N3F), edited Tightbeam, served on Welcommittee, earned the Kaymar.  Lifelong friend of Len Moffatt (published SF Parade with him), Rick Sneary.  Big Heart (our highest service award, community-wide).  (Died 2001) [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel.  I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) and Babylon 5: A Call to Arms being my favorite works by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the aKindle store but not in the iBook store. H’h. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1943 – Bruce Boston, 77.  Two novels; a hundred shorter stories in AmazingAsimov’sRealms of FantasySF AgeStrange Horizons; poems dusting our skies like strange stars.  Seven Rhyslings; Pushcart Prize; first Grand Master of the SF Poetry Ass’n.  Has chaired the Nebula Award jury for novels, the Philip K. Dick Award jury.  [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1951 – Sue Thomas, 69.  Coined the term “technobiophilia” and wrote a book about it.  Two novels; anthology Wild Women.  Correspondent, reviewer, in FocusFoundationMatrix, Paperback InfernoVector.  [JH]
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 69. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She’s better stocked in the Kindle store than in the iBooks Store. (CE) 
  • Born July 16, 1956 Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 57. Ok, do her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It’s two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1967 Will Ferrell, 53. His last film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favorite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. (CE)
  • Born July 16, 1975 – Lucian Dragos Bogdan, 45.  Author, caricaturist (the ”s” in his name should have a tiny comma under it for the sound English spells ”sh”). Likes rock music and the Tao Tê Ching (or, if you’d rather, Daodejing).  A dozen novels, thirty short stories, in our field; also mystery & thriller, romance.  Website in EnglishFrenchRomanian. [JH]


(13) NOW A SHADOW OF ITS FORMER SELF. Silvia Moreno-Garcia sketches “A Brief History of Mexican Horror Comic Books” at Tor.com.

When people ask me if I like comic books I always have a split-second reaction. The answer is no. But it’s a nuanced no. I don’t like superhero comic books, but I grew up reading plenty of other stuff.

While in the United States “comic book” can be read as a synonym for “superhero,” such a correlation has not traditionally existed in Mexico. Mexican artists during their Golden Age were more interested in other kinds of content. This doesn’t mean there weren’t any superheroes—Fantomas, El Santo and Kalimán come to mind—but you were more likely to find other sorts of local comic books. And when people thought comic books, they probably thought historietas, monitos, una de vaqueros, all of which conjure something very far from Superman, Batman or the X-Men….

(14) TIME AFTER TIME. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Garry Trudeau about his new book Lewser! More Doonesbury In The Age Of Trump.  Trudeau discusses how he satirizes Trump, including how he draws the president’s hair, and how “for the most part, I’ve stayed away” from satirizing Trump’s children “and I’m not sure why.” “Garry Trudeau is spoofing the Trump presidency by treating it as ‘a hostile takeover’”.

… “There has been never the slightest danger of running out of inspiration — Trump serves up a banquet of lies, obfuscation and cruelty almost daily,” says Trudeau, whose new material runs every Sunday. “Steve Allen once said that comedy is tragedy plus time, but in Trump’s case, the passage of time is wholly optional.”

(15) THEY HAVE A LITTLE LIST. “So which comics companies got PPP loans?” ComicsBeat will satiate your curiosity on this score.

… Back when this pandemic thing first began, several economic relief packages were floated as part of the CARES Act, including small business loans known as PPP (Payment Protection Program) loans. The loans were to help with payroll to keep people employed – with the loans forgivable if 60% of the money went to payroll.

… It’s also not anything to be ashamed of – applying for aid during an economic shutdown is a smart move to keep people on the payroll and keep companies afloat, and it’s good that these comics companies were able to receive aid.

Now, we did hear that many actual small businesses, including comics shops, had a harder time getting loans, and there are lots of stories about billionaires getting payouts, from Kanye West to Soho House. And of course there was fraud, like using PPP money to pay for a new house in the case of the CEO of Wendy’s. Nice one!

(16) HEROES ASSEMBLE. In “Chris Evans Sends Captain America Shield to Young Boy Who Saved His Sister From Dog Attack”, Variety reports that Evans joined a bunch of other actors who play superheroes to cheer up Bridger Walker, a nine-year-old who got 90 stitches after protecting his four-year-old sister from a charging dog.

…“I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot over the last couple of the days, but let me be the next one to tell you: Pal, you’re a hero,” Evans said. “What you did was so brave, so selfless, your sister is so lucky to have you as a big brother. Your parents must be so proud of you.”

(17) IG NOBEL NOMINEE. Snakes! It has to be snakes – who can out-eat hot dog chugging humans. “Scientists Have Finally Calculated How Many Hot Dogs a Person Can Eat at Once”.

The world’s best hot dog eaters could outeat a grizzly bear or a coyote, but would fall far behind a wolf or a Burmese python, a new study finds.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, with streams of sweat pouring down his face, Joey Chestnut broke his own world record for hot dog eating, by downing 75 hot dogs (with buns) in 10 minutes at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. It was his 13th win at the annual contest. And Miki Sudo set a women’s record, 48.5 hot dogs, to grab her seventh straight Nathan’s win.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, the event was held virtually this year, and Dr. James Smoliga was glued to his screen, rooting for new records. For the past few months, Dr. Smoliga, a veterinarian and exercise scientist, had been working on a mathematical analysis of the maximum number of hot dogs that a human could theoretically consume in 10 minutes.

“The answer is 83,” said Dr. Smoliga, a professor at High Point University in North Carolina.

He has now published the full analysis, which calculated this number based on 39 years of historical data from the Nathan’s contest, as well as on mathematical models of human performance that consider the potential for extreme athletic feats.

“It’s a great paper,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician at the Mayo Clinic who studies human performance, adding that the analysis shows the classic fast rise in performance followed by more gradual improvements that happen when an event becomes professionalized. The best part, he said, is that Dr. Smoliga wrote it with a straight face.

(18) SPACE: 1999 REDUX. “Nuclear blast sends star hurtling across galaxy”. Looking for a gas station?

A star has been sent hurtling across the galaxy after undergoing a partial supernova, astronomers say.

A supernova is a powerful explosion that occurs when some stars reach the ends of their lives; in this case, the blast was not sufficient to destroy it.

Instead, it sent the star hurtling through space at 900,000 km/hr.

Astronomers think the object, known as a white dwarf, was originally circling another star, which would have been sent flying in the opposite direction.

When two stars orbit each other like this, they are described as a “binary”. Only one of the stars has been detected by astronomers, however.

The object, known as SDSS J1240+6710, was previously found to have an unusual atmospheric composition.

Discovered in 2015, it seemed to contain neither hydrogen nor helium (which are usually found), appearing to be composed instead of an unusual mix of oxygen, neon, magnesium and silicon.

(19) WRINKLES IN TIME. “Desert telescope takes aim at ageing our Universe” – BBC has the story.

Another telescope has entered the debate about the age and expansion rate of the Universe.

This topic has recently become the subject of an energetic to and fro among scientists using different astronomical facilities and techniques.

The new entrant is the Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile.

It’s been studying the “oldest light” on the sky and has concluded the Big Bang occurred 13.77 billion years ago, give or take 40 million years.

That’s almost exactly the same number we got from Europe’s flagship Planck space observatory mission, which mapped the ancient light in the early 2010s.

But therein lies the problem because other telescopes using different methods have come out with ages that are a few hundred million years younger.

What they’ve all been trying to do is measure what’s known as the Hubble Constant – the value used by astronomers to describe cosmic expansion.

(20) OLD GUARD, NEW LOOK. The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday interviews The Old Guard director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the first Black director of a superhero movie, about what it was like to direct the film and the choices she made in directing women that were different than what male directors would do. “Gina Prince-Bythewood is the first black woman to direct a major comic-book movie. It looks like the future.”

… When she began tackling the material, she adds, her identity as an African American woman informed nearly every decision she made. “The things that I influenced, that I noticed, that I corrected, that I amplified, absolutely come from a black female lens,” she says firmly. Although she was thrilled with Rucka’s original script, she asked him to flesh out Nile’s backstory, adding layers having to do with her family and experience in the military (where, not incidentally, her colleagues are women of color, much like the institution itself). Even the film’s many fight scenes bear the signature of someone who is coming from a different angle than the usual white male gaze. One in particular, between Andy and Nile on a cargo plane, was particularly sensitive for Prince-Bythewood.

(21) COGNITIVE DISSONANCE TIME. What’s gotten into Tor.com’s headline writers? “Let Henry Cavill Show You Parts You’ve Never Seen Before… As He Assembles This Gaming PC”. But Emmet Asher-Perrin says —

It’s not what you think, promise.

In fact, Cavill used this opportunity to play some very sexy music while he… assembled his gaming PC…. 

Does it seem strange to see such humor in a headline after reading one of the items above?

(22) DEBUT NOVELIST. From Goodreads: “Lindsay Ellis: How Science Fiction Makes Sense of the Present”.

Until this summer, Lindsay Ellis was mainly known as a super smart and witty film critic and YouTube essayist… This month, Ellis’ debut science fiction novel, Axiom’s End, arrives….

I was eight years old when Lois Lowry’s The Giver was released in 1993, and it became an instant turning point for me, not only for my relationship to books in general, but to science fiction in particular. Anti-authority narratives for children are extremely common—it’s pretty much the basis for all of Nickelodeon’s marketing—but narratives for young children tend to have cartoonishly evil authority figures who are obviously in the wrong. The Giver, in contrast, presents us with what appears to be a utopia, challenging the young reader with a simple, comforting authority structure that over the course of the narrative the protagonist Jonah learns not only has sapped his community’s members of their humanity, but does monstrous things in its bid to maintain control.

One of the main hallmarks of science fiction is the use of social constructs, technologies, and futures that do not yet exist—and may never exist—as a means of exploring our present. In the case of The Giver, it was the first book I read that used science fiction to create (to an eight year old, anyway) mind-blowing revelations about the nature of society and the individual’s relationship to it. The Giver is one of those books that serves as a perfect gateway for children who are just beginning to learn that change is inevitable, that well-meaning people can be wrong, and that solutions to problems are not always obvious. …

(23) LEFANU ON TV. “Carmilla–Official UK Trailer” on YouTube is a trailer for a “reimagined” version of J.S. LeFanu’s great horror novella which is now being streamed in the U.S.

Isolated from the outside world, fifteen-year-old Lara (Hannah Rae, “Broadchurch”, Fighting with My Family) lives in seclusion on a vast country estate with her father and strict governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine, “Patrick Melrose”, “Jericho”). Late one evening, a mysterious carriage crash brings a young girl (Devrim Lingnau) into their home to recuperate. Lara immediately becomes enchanted by this strange visitor who arouses her curiosity and awakens her burgeoning desires.

[Thanks to Stephen Granade, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/16/20 I Been In The Right Pixel—But It Must Have Been The Wrong Scroll

  1. (1) 37/100. As with the SF list, noted the strong bias for first-books-in-series (particularly obvious with Discworld, given that most people don’t recommend starting with The Color of Magic). Also interesting that Gaiman and Sanderson make up a good tenth of this list between them.

  2. 1) 31, if I include “The Mists of Avalon”, which I started but didn’t finish a long time ago. I also just got an ebook of Hobb’s “Assassin’s Apprentice” from the library; don’t have any sense of what it’ll be like.

    I read Sheckley’s “Dimension of Miracles” when I was very young and thought it was tremendously funny. I still have the 50 cent Dell paperback with Paul Lehr cover. Nothing else I read by him made anything like that impression, though admittedly I never got to some of his best known work.

  3. 51/100, helped along by being a big fan of both Gaiman and Sanderson. Two more on Mt. Tsundoku (Gardens of the Moon, which I downloaded when Tor was giving it away but have not read, and Wicked).

    Also, theoretically I was supposed to be able to download The Bear and the Nightingale as part of the Hugo packet, but when I followed the link to its page on NetGalley I was unable to do so. Since I am not voting in Best Series anyway (I find somewhat paradoxically that since lockdown started my reading time is less) I decided not to make an issue of it.

  4. @David Goldfarb: I think some of the NetGalley links were set to expire once voting closed – and may well not have been updated when the voting period was extended. Which might account for your problems.

  5. 1) 67/100, with 3 more on the TBR pile

    I’m honestly a little surprised that this is pretty comparable to the number of most popular SF books I’d read (64/100), since fantasy is somewhat more my jam these days — I’ve rated roughly twice as many fantasy books on Goodreads as SF books.

    Also, while my average rating for the most popular SF books I’ve read was quite high (4.23 out of 5, on average), my average rating for these was significantly lower (3.82 out of 5, on average) — which isn’t really all that low, but is a noticeable difference. Similarly, I have only 7 of the fantasy titles on the list marked as favorites, compared to a whopping 19 on the SF list … and that’s in spite of the fact that my overall favorites list includes 128 adult fantasy titles versus only 91 adult science fiction titles (there would have been an even bigger difference — more like 174 fantasy vs. 101 SF — but I didn’t count children’s books and YA because the listmakers were obviously trying not to do so, even if they allowed The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on in spite of that but not Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter, and Red Rising on the SF list but not The Hunger Games, which is an order of magnitude more popular — don’t ask me, I didn’t make the lists.)

    Anyway, I’m not sure what to make of this. I guess my taste in fantasy tends to run to more obscure titles than my taste in SF does?

  6. 1) I’m usually more of a f reader than sf, but I actually scored slightly worse on this list than on the sf list — 60 read, plus 5 dnfed.

  7. @1: 53 +/- 2.5, and 2 more on my much-reduced Mt. T. I’m working from memory rather than waking up the machine with the catalog on it; some of the list are unmemorable starts, some to my taste were memorably so bad that I never read another, some I may have read another in the series (and stopped) rather than the named 1st-in-series (cf @goobergunch), and I’m not sure which editions of Grimm are considered “complete” — I read one that has to have been >>60 years old considering the condition when I read it in childhood. (I don’t count Anderson, because I know I read only 2 of a 4-volume set that was available by 1964 and never sought out the rest — ISTM he concentrated too much on pretty.) Someone suggested a school effect in the ordering of the SF list (or was it just the presence of classics?); maybe that’s why Tolkien gets the first two slots and Beagle gets only #65. And while Sanderson (who I don’t think much of) and Gaiman may be overrepresented, I’m pleased to see that Novik has 3 entries.

    @11 (Locher): that clearly beats John Houseman, whose “career” (he was still doing other things) started at age 70 or 71 with The Paper Chase.

    @11 (Sheckley): I’m fascinated to see that someone liked BMtHoPC; I vaguely recall reading it and finding it depressingly feeble. The favorite in my mind is Mindswap — among other features it is more like a novel and less like a loose fixup — but I haven’t read a Sheckley novel in decades and don’t know how I’d react now. In addition to the e-editions (no, I don’t know why they’re only in 1 format), there are hardcopies of selected shorts and selected novels.

    @11 (Friesner): I’m fond of Elf Defense, but I couldn’t say exactly why — possibly the slow buildup to where the characters suddenly realize they’re playing (or being played) for mortal stakes is very convincing.

    @goobergunch: — I wonder whether the first-in-series is also an artifact of a broken selection mechanism: taking the most-reviewed books that were rated at least 3.5/5 (per the intro), rather than (e.g.) the highest-reviewed books that had at least N reviews. Their process could give too much weight to people picking up #1, saying “meh”, and not continuing.

    @all: has anybody read Miller’s The Song of Achilles? I was very impressed by Circe, but that was written several years later.

  8. 1) 51, plus maybe a few partial credits depending on how you want to count the fairy tale collections. And there are some of the other 49 that I do want to read someday, but also a goodly number I’m content to leave on the other side of the list.

  9. @Steve Wright: I tried to get the book when the packet first became available, and then I tried again a week or two later.

  10. 1) 32/100, less than I expected. Another two or three dozen are buried somewhere in one or another of the scattered tumuli of unread books about the house.

    Like David Goldfarb, I’ve found my reading overall has gone down since self-isolation began, even though I spend more time reading at home. Lockdown at the end of March coincided with the already-set date of my retirement from work. A lot of my reading actually took place during work hours prior to that. When I did door and building checks (about half to three-quarters of my work hours), I was able to listen to audiobooks with a monobud. (The other hours, when I was in the guard shack logging radio calls, I used for my fiction writing.) And I read ebooks or paper books during breaks or lunch. (My boss was aware of this, and okay with it. The bane of working graveyard-hours security is falling asleep on the job, and the audiobooks kept me awake.)

    I knew retiring would lose all that reading/listening time, so since then I’ve tried to remember to use the earpiece whenever I’m doing something at home that doesn’t take my full attention. (Loading/unloading the dishwasher, laundry, working in the re-established garden, etc.) I’ve gone from about 5-6 books per month in assorted formats to 4-5, but I’m losing ground on listening to the short fiction podcasts I followed before retiring.

    (My time management would probably improve a LOT if I stopped spending so much time on Twitter and other sites, especially the time following and fretting about events I have no control over. [insert long list] )

  11. @1: Oy, only four. And I did a dissertation on fantasy. Of course, it was Victorian-Edwardian fantasy, and I wrote it more than 40 years ago, but still.

    Another example of how far from mainstream SF/F tastes I’ve gotten.

  12. @1 I read more fantasy than SF so was shocked at my score of 39. I was half again higher on their SF list.

  13. @11 I’m sure I’ve probably read some of her short stories but I know her mostly through the “Chicks in Chainmail” series she edited. And in checking her Wikipedia I discovered there’s one of those books I missed so that’s exciting.

  14. (1) 44 with another on mount TBR – and a few that I think I maybe ought to read sometime.

    It’s an interesting mix – populist choices, classics and some more literary works. And, of course, a bias towards first-in-series (really, Deadhouse Gates is much better than Gardens of the Moon and I bet that’s true of some other series, too)

  15. 31/100, plus one or two I feel slightly bad about not yet having read. (And three or four that I wish I could unread and have the time back.)

    Apropos nothing, my brain insists on turning ‘obit’ into ‘orbit’. A never ending supply of cognitive dissonance.

  16. @David Goldfarb: well, then, that sounds like Something Went Wrong, somewhere – maybe drop a line to CoNZealand so they can try and fix it, even at this late date? (I never noticed a problem myself, but I wouldn’t have – I already had a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale, so I never bothered with the NetGalley link. All the NetGalley ones I did try downloaded OK, though.)

  17. Bruce Arthurs on July 16, 2020 at 9:27 pm said:

    Like David Goldfarb, I’ve found my reading overall has gone down since self-isolation began, even though I spend more time reading at home.

    I used to read on the train to-and-from work. So working from home reduced that but I replaced my daily commute with daily walks and started reading a lot of audio-books. So my reading habits changed rather than my amount of reading

  18. 1) 52/100, 20 more on my TBR pile.

    11) I’ve always loved Sheckleys stories and can’t understand why more haven’t been made into movies or TV-episodes. They are perfect for it.

  19. 21) The significant difference is the word “let” in the headline, I’d say. Consent, as always, is key.

    11) Sheckley’s mild cynicism and absurdity is just what I need for comfort reading right now. Thanks for reminding me. (I read a lot of Sheckley when I was a kid. Mostly the short stories, though I do remember Dimension of Miracles fondly.)

  20. (1) 39/100 for me.

    @David Goldfarb – my recollection is I couldn’t get stuff to download from Net Galley the first time, but it worked when I tried again the next day. In my case, I think I may have misread the instructions the first time. I wasn’t as worried about it as I would have been normally since prior to things entering Phase 2 of Covid recovery, I’d been able to get a temporary card for the Arlington Public Library and Montgomery County Library since DC has reciprocity and I was able to get a significant number of the books as ebooks or eaudiobooks.

  21. (1) 26/100 with one Dorothy Parker-class DNF.

    Seeing The 10000 Doors of January on the list attests to the influence of the Hugos, IMO.

    (7) I think “Lightspeed” is what was intended.

    A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by. – John Wayne

  22. @1 – 53 read, 2 not read but I’ve seen the movie, and about three or four where I squinted at the cover and couldn’t decipher it (but didn’t recognize the cover art, so… probably not?) WHY don’t these lists put the titles and authors under the book thumbnails?!? (Kobo does the same thing in its advertising emails and it drives me, and my old eyes, crazy.)

    @21, it’s about the consent. There’s a huge difference between voluntarily buying Playgirl Magazine or a porn video, as opposed to a random dick pic or masturbation video showing up unsolicited on your phone.

    @David Goldfarb, I didn’t download everything from NetGalley; only the books I’d didn’t already own. And I’d bought The Bear And The Nightingale already.

    I did spent a fair amount of time converting Riverland and Deeplight into epub formats, because I really don’t like .pdfs, and the auto-convert of Calibre made them into insanely huge files. All those .pngs could be resized and the duplicates banished, which made a very substantial difference….

    (If any Hugo voter wants either Riverland or Deeplight in epub format, they can email me at cassy (at) bookwyrme (dot) com and I’ll be happy to send it to you; just email me your Netgalley-pdf-request-page from the packet so I know you’re a Hugo voter. I will not send either book to unauthorized people (I hate pirates), but I feel that translating books to a readable format for Hugo voters doesn’t violate the spirit of the rules.)

  23. 11) Robert Sheckley plays a small, inadvertent part in the history of intelligent, entertaining science fiction aimed at a popular audience on British TV.

    Sydney Newman was “the great impresario of commercial television”. ITV’s drama anthology “Armchair Theatre” drew audiences of 16 million in the late 1950s and early 1960s. From various interviews, Newman seems to have been a self-confessed science fiction buff (and had produced a couple of children’s serials from 1960-62). In the early 1960s he hired Irene Shubik, another science fiction fan, as a script editor for “Armchair Theatre”. A few stories had featured some nuclear power to spice up a thriller or had focussed on astronauts in peril but otherwise no science fiction had intruded in the series.

    In the summer of 1961, Shubik approached Newman with the idea of a science fiction Armchair Theatre spin-off dramatising notable science fiction stories. She encouraged Newman to produce “Murder Club”, an adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s short story “The Seventh Victim” as an episode of “Armchair Theatre”. The adaptation was broadcast on 3 December 1961 and appears to have been well received by the audience and critics. The ITV series “Out of this World” ran in the summer of 1962, dramatising stories by many famous sf authors, and was a popular success. When Newman became the Head of Drama at the BBC, he wished to revive the tradition of a late Saturday afternoon children’s serial and thought that a science-fiction drama would be ideal, resulting in “Doctor Who” in 1963.

    Maybe any other science fiction story would have served as well as the starting point for Newman’s journey in TV SF, but Sheckley’s “The Seventh Victim” was chosen “as the most viable prototype for the forthcoming sf anthology series”.Sheckley’s story, a comedy, satire and thriller combined all the dramatic elements that the series would explore, satisfying Newman’s desire for “a popular adventure TV series”. So Sheckley is the beginning of a chain that ends with Dr Who.

  24. @Bruce Arthurs

    (My time management would probably improve a LOT if I stopped spending so much time on Twitter and other sites, especially the time following and fretting about events I have no control over. [insert long list] )

    I went cold-turkey on Usenet twice back in its original form (pass-along, almost solely for computer people, in the mid-1980’s), when I realized it was eating too much of my life. (I considered >1 hr/day too much as there were a lot of things I was involved in including starting to have a social life.) I’ve been looking at generalized communication and saying “No, thanks.” pretty much ever since then; Twitter in particular looks like a good way to create heat and noise without light — especially since I’ve learned that I have to vent my quick reactions privately, then speak in complete sentences after thinking. (Yes, it sometimes looks like I don’t do that here….)

    My book consumption has actually gone up; according to my log I’ve been averaging 220 books/year (counting only what I’ve properly finished — past years have had a few skims and outright quits), but in the first 4 months of shutdown (through a few days ago, for Boston) I read 95. I’m a bit further behind on magazines (I have the equivalent of ~4 monthly nonfiction glossies) because I’ve been walking for exercise instead of standing on a stair machine where reading is safe — unlike Mary Russell on the Sussex downs I haven’t developed an instinct for avoidance while walking with my nose in print (and the pavement around here may be more irregular than the ground under her feet). The difference may be from my being already retired (and never had a long commute or downtime suitable for audiobooks) and having several activities (chorus, dance, archery, thrown weapons) cut back severely or shut down entirely.

  25. 1.) 32/100 here. Somewhat surprised as I consider myself to be a bit of a fantasy reader…but then again, I have eclectic tastes and got tired of Euro-centric fantasy works more than a few years back. I’m deliberately choosing fantasies that aren’t based on lots of war, and if it’s just another crown and castle thing then welp, I’ll pass.

    That said, I will read Mary Gentle, and just finished rereading the Ash series. Might be time for another spin through Grunts–after I finish with Mary Trump’s book. On a non-political front, it’s an excellent text for understanding how to build an antagonist (of course I’m not just reading as a writer…).

  26. (11) For Will Ferrell, I’d recommend Stranger than Fiction. It’s the best work of his that I’ve seen.

  27. (11) Paul Freehafer. His year of birth is given as 1916 but the article in the link gives it as 1918.

  28. I read a lot more science fiction than fantasy, but still got 44. (Which is 28 less than I got on the SF list, so that fits.) Plus two TBR. But only one DNF this time.

    I note that the McCaffrey is something that many people would file under science fiction, rather than fantasy. But perhaps that’s a can of worms we don’t want to open at this time. 🙂

    Birthdays: Phoebe Cates has also been in Drop Dead Fred, which is at least genre-adjacent, and in something I haven’t seen called Date with an Angel, which looks to be a full-on genre work.

    Sheckley’s stuff is getting increasingly dated as time moves on, but there’s still plenty of it I think is outstanding for its time. I have the NESFA collection, The Masque of Mañana, which contains some excellent examples of his work.

    Esther Friesner has some excellent comic fiction. I first read her New York by Knight series, which I still have a strong fondness for, and I’ve liked most of what she’s done since. (It’s started to skew more YAish as time has gone on, but there’s nothing wrong with that.)

  29. Stuart Hall: Yes, there are two differing sources for his year of birth. The Fancyclopedia 3 entry says 1918. It also contains a link to Fandom Who’s Who, published in 1940, where Freehafer’s age is listed as 24 — translating to a 1916 birth year. However, the memorial issue of Freehafer’s fanzine Polaris, produced by Forry Ackerman and others who knew him, says he was 26 when he died in 1944 — translating to a 1918 birth year. Where did the Fandom Who’s Who get their info? There’s a lot of detail but the source is not specified. I couldn’t find out whether the people listed provided any of the info, or it was all compiled by the unnamed editor.

  30. (11) Robert Sheckley is my favorite person with whom I share a July 16th birthday. I’m amazed at how quickly he fell into the memory hole despite writing lots of brilliance. For a long time I thought I was in a Sheckley fan cult of one … then when I went to my very first Worldcon, the first interaction I had was with a man at the freebie table who handed me a Sheckley book. And I cried, sniffle sniffle. I read his weird surreal novel Options on the way back and it actually made me burst into laughter on a plane.

    (21) Acquired a new computer for my birthday and this is its first post! I posted in some Facebook group that it is far hotter to be basking in the subwoofery HDMI glory of a computer I set up my own damn self rather than watching some dude take forever to do it while taking narcissism breaks. Made lots of dudes angry (lol), and one mansplained that I didn’t actually understand what “hot” means.

  31. What is the most possible hot dogs that can be theoretically eaten?
    Scientists are on top of this.

    (I never sausage an interesting paper . . . )

  32. Like many others here, I’ve somehow had less time for reading under lockdown than I did before. (It’s dropped by about a third — I’ve read about 90 books so far this year, compared to about 130 by this time last year.) There are a few reasons, both good and bad (obsession with news is bad, more time spent with now work-from-home spouse is good, general stress is bad, more time spent videochatting with people I’d formerly lost touch with is good).

    But the reduced reading time makes me feel … antsy.

  33. I remain astonished by the reading prowess of some of y’all. Between work, family, home maintenance, and other stuff, I feel pretty good about getting in 50 books a year.

    The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing. – Isaac Asimov

  34. Happy belated birthday, Charon.

    11) Robert Sheckley plays a small, inadvertent part in the history of intelligent, entertaining science fiction aimed at a popular audience on British TV.

    Sheckley also has a connection to science fiction on (West) German TV, because in 1970, Wolfgang Menge adapted Sheckley’s short story “The Prize of Peril”, in which a TV show contestant is hunted by a team of professional killers, for West German TV as “Das Millionenspiel” (The Million Game).

    “Das Millionenspiel” was filmed as if we were watching an episode of the fictional TV game show, where a contestant is hunted by killers. It caused a scandal, because plenty of TV viewers mistook the movie for a real game show and wrote to the TV station to complain about this inhuman program. Even more people applied to be contestants, because the prize of one million deutschmark was just too tempting. And a handful of people even wrote to the TV station to apply for a post on the hunter/killer team.

    Having seen the film, I can see how people could have thought that it was real, because “Das Millionenspiel” looks eerily like a real 1970s variety or game show complete with a stiff female TV announcer, a motormouth host (played by Dieter Thomas Heck, who hosted the popular music program Hitparade, in a brilliant bit of casting), random ballet interludes and even fake commercials which look like real 1970s commercials. Though the commercials should have tipped people off, because West German public TV did not (and still doesn’) have commercials after 8 PM. Still, watching “Das Millionenspiel” is an eerie experience, like watching TV from an alternate universe.

    Another problem with “Das Millionenspiel” was that the production team licensed the rights to the story from the German publisher Goldmann, who had published it in an anthology. However, Goldmann didn’t have the rights and so Sheckley and his agent went after the TV station for rights infringement. As a result, “Das Millionenspiel” was almost impossible to find for many years, though they eventually came to an agreement and the movie is now available again.

  35. (1) 23 There were several I remember being in my TBR pile that I finally gave up on ever starting (blurbs no longer looked interesting) and brought to the used books store.

  36. I should mention that all the other NetGalley books (e.g., the Emma Newman series) I was able to get, no problem. But as I said above, I don’t plan to go to any further effort.

  37. (3) I’ve been following the details on the Tim Miller case ever since it broke. It stood out because I was familiar with the author, although I hadn’t looked at his recent social media. (Very fortunate, as it turns out.)

    There have been remarkably few gross jokes in response to this story. Authors and fans are taking this seriously. You do have the people who try to color all extreme horror authors (and stories) with the same brush. Which is BS of course.

    But at the same time, other writers in the extreme horror community have made sure everyone else knows they’re not like this author. Readers have stepped forward to defend the subgenre.

    It’s horrible when a writer turns out to be an abusive jerk. One bright spot with all of these recent cases is that they help me find other authors to follow (and read) who aren’t abusers, as well as reviewers and bloggers who are trying to make their genre a better place. This is true whether the genre is extreme horror or SF or fantasy.

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