Pixel Scroll 7/9/19 With Mullets Towards None

(1) THOUGHTS ON A PROPOSED HUGO CATEGORY. Neil Clarke explains why he opposes “Hugo Proposal for Best Translated Novel”

…The biggest problem I have with this proposal is the message it sends not only to domestic readers, but foreign authors, editors, and publishers: translated works are not as good as ours, so we’re making a special category for you so you can get awards too. I don’t believe that’s the intention of those who drafted this proposal. I think they approached it with the best of intentions, but simply got it wrong. For years now, I have been making the case that we should be treating translated and international works as equals: stories worthy of standing alongside those we have routinely seen published. This proposal sends the opposite message, and on those grounds intend to vote no.

Translated works are capable of winning the Hugo without any special treatment. As they point out in their own commentary, three translated works have won since 2015, despite the relatively low number of translations published among a wide sea of domestic releases….

(2) ‘TOPIARY. Juliette Wade’s Dive Into Worldbuilding encounters winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Nebula nominee “Sam J. Miller and Blackfish City”. Read the synopsis at the link, and/or watch the video:

…There are some utopian elements in the story as well as dystopian ones. A lot of energy problems can be solved. The city uses methane generators to produce light. They also don’t need militarized police. Sam remarked how any place can have both utopian and dystopian elements depending on who you are. To the people who live in the Capital, the Hunger Games world is a utopia.

I asked if this book was strictly speaking science fiction or whether it had fantastical elements. He explained that it is a science fiction story, but that he uses nanites to do things that might seem magical. The nanites allow some humans to bond with animals. That bond could seem fantastical but it has technological underpinnings.

There are people called orcamancers. Sam explained that the origins of the orcamancers are  with illegal pharmaceutical testing that happened in the period between the present and the time period of the novel. Rival drugs were tested on people at different times. This accidentally led to a form of bonding with animals that Sam compared to the daemons in The Golden Compass. He explained that cultural practices regulate why you would bond with particular animals….

(3) CICERO – NOT ILLINOIS. Ada Palmer dives into “Stoicism’s Appeal to the Rich and Powerful” at Ex Urbe

I was recently interviewed for a piece in the Times on why the philosophy of stoicism has become very popular in the Silicon Valley tech crowd. Only a sliver of my thoughts made it into the article, but the question from Nellie Bowles was very stimulating so I wanted to share more of my thoughts.

To begin with, like any ancient philosophy, stoicism has a physics and metaphysics–how it thinks the universe works–and separately an ethics–how it advises one to live, and judge good and bad action. The ethics is based on the physics and metaphysics, but can be divorced from it, and the ethics has long been far more popular than the metaphysics.  This is a big part of why stoic texts surviving from antiquity focus on the ethics; people transcribing manuscripts cared more about these than about the others.  And this is why thinkers from Cicero to Petrarch to today have celebrated stoicism’s moral and ethical advice while following utterly different cosmologies and metaphysicses.  (For serious engagement with stoic ontology & metaphysics you want Spinoza.)  The current fad for stoicism, like all past fads for stoicism (except Spinoza) focuses on the ethics.

(4) DRAGON TRAINER NOW LAUREATE. “How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell named new children’s laureate”The Guardian has the story.

Cressida Cowell has become the new UK Children’s Laureate.

The author of How To Train Your Dragon, and the Wizards of Once will take over from previous laureate, Lauren Childs..

She said: “Books and reading are magic, and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone. I’m honoured to be chosen to be the eleventh Waterstones Children’s Laureate. I will be a laureate who fights for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction and action. Practical magic, empathy and creative intelligence, is the plan.”

Cressida has also revealed a ‘giant to-do list’ to help make sure that books and reading are available to everyone. It says that every child has the right to:

  1. Read for the joy of it.
  2. Access NEW books in schools, libraries and bookshops.
  3. Have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller.
  4. Own their OWN book.
  5. See themselves reflected in a book.
  6. Be read aloud to.
  7. Have some choice in what they read.
  8. Be creative for at least 15 minutes a week.
  9. See an author event at least ONCE.
  10. Have a planet to read on.

(5) GEEKY GETAWAYS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] For your vacationing pleasure, SYFY Wire has lists and descriptions of 10 hotels “Geek Road Trip: 10 nerdy hotels that’ll turn vacation into a fandom pilgrimage” and 6 Airbnbs “Geek Road Trip: 6 extra-nerdy Airbnb to book for your next vacation” with fan welcoming accommodations. The latter include a Harry Potter themed apartment in Atlanta GA, an ’80s throwback gaming room in Lisbon, Portugal (& other themed rooms in the same building), a Marvel-ous studio apartment in Manila Philippines, a Star Wars suite in Melbourne Australia, a riverside Hobbit hole in Orondo, WA and Pixar paradise (with differently-themed rooms) in Anaheim CA.

(6) NAMELESS DREAD. The series doesn’t have a title yet, but it does have characters: “George RR Martin Says ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel Includes the Starks, Direwolves and White Walkers”.

HBO’s untitled Naomi Watts-led “Game of Thrones” prequel pilot may not have Targaryens and dragons — but it does have Starks, direwolves and, of course, White Walkers.

“The Starks will definitely be there,” George R.R. Martin, co-creator and executive producer on the project alongside showrunner Jane Goldman, told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published Tuesday.

“Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” the “A Song of Ice and Fire” author said, adding: “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”

The appearance of the Starks, descendants of the First Men, shouldn’t be a shock to fans who remember the prequel — which is reportedly currently filming in North Ireland — takes place roughly 5,000 years before the events of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

(7) THE REEL DEAL. Yahoo! Finance expects big bucks to change hands: “‘Lost’ tapes of first moonwalk to be sold; former NASA intern may make millions”.

A former intern at NASA may become a millionaire when he sells three metal reels that contain original videotape recordings of man’s first steps on the moon.  

The videotapes will be offered in a live auction on July 20th at Sotheby’s New York, but interested parties are able to place bids now at Sothebys.com. The sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The price could reach $2 million.

According to the auction site, Gary George was awarded a cooperative work internship at the NASA Johnson Space Center in June 1973. Three years later, he bought more than 1,100 reels at a government surplus auction for $218, Reuters reported.

(8) GAIMAN’S STUDY. Variety’s photo essay takes you “Inside Neil Gaiman’s Rural Writing Retreat”. (Hey, we have the same interior decorator!)

Although Gaiman has won multiple Hugo Awards, he only keeps one in his office; the others are in his house in Wisconsin. The one he earned in 2016 for “The Sandman: Overture” receives extra special placement not only because of his long history with the franchise (“It had a ‘you can go home again’ quality to it,” he says) but also because “there is something magical in knowing I was awarded it for a graphic novel. I remember I was there, not too long ago, fighting for whether comics could get awards and things like that. But people loved it; it got its audience; it got awards; people cared.”

(9) NATIVE TONGUE TRILOGY EVENT. On Thursday, July 18, there will be a panel discussion on feminist sci-fi with Rebecca Romney, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Bethany C. Morrow, and moderated by Eliza Cushman Rose focusing on “The Legacy of Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue Trilogy”. This event is hosted by The Feminist Press and will be held at Books are Magic, 225 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Ok I’ll admit I’ve not read the Gormenghast novels, nor have I seen the various video adaptations. Please tell me what I’ve been missing. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 Glen Cook, 75. With the exception of the new novel which I need to read, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also his far lighter Garrett P.I. Which unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it.
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 74. The genres of of mystery. horror, fantasy and science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 Ellen Klages, 65. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my boutique favorite publisher of fantasy. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel is really great.
  • Born July 9, 1970 Ekaterina Sedia, 49. Her Heart of Iron novel is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both iBooks and Kindle list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilful Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. I’m off to buy them now. 
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 41. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. 

(11) DISTURBING TREND? Yesterday, “Jar Jar Binks spent the day trending on Twitter, baffling Star Wars fans” says SYFY Wire.

Earlier this morning, Jar Jar Binks was inexplicably one of the trending topics on Twitter. No one seemed to understand why, although there have been some theories. The Tampa Bay Times looked into the matter, which traced it back to a meme that predicts your Star Wars fate. While the image had been making the rounds online, it was shared by Mark Hamill earlier this morning, giving it some serious traction. 

(12) VINTAGE 2018 FINNCON. Karl-Johan Norén’s report on his 2018 Nordic Fan Fund trip to Finncon 2018 is up on eFanzines in both epub (preferred) and PDF formats.

…Meanwhile, Hulda and Therese participated in the Klingon language workshop, where they learnt some helpful Klingon phrases and Hulda impressed by showing a basic knowledge of the IPA symbols. Later on, when Hulda accidentally tickled Therese, Therese gave off a very Klingon-like sound, leading Hulda to ask if Klingons are ticklish. That gave rise to a very spirited discussion, including if Klingons would admit that they could possibly be ticklish, and if empirical research was advised…

(13) BUSTED. The Daily Beast reports on Streamliner Lines’ inaugural run through western Nevada: “Redditors Say This Is a Nazi Bus. The Owner Says It’s a Misunderstanding.”

It bans “social justice warriors” and drives across Nevada with a logo that looks suspiciously like a Nazi flag. It’s Reno’s new bus line and the owner says the racist reputation is all just a misunderstanding.

On Friday, Streamliner Lines launched its maiden bus run from Reno to Las Vegas. Streamliner president John Wang told The Daily Beast it ran a little behind schedule (traffic), and sold few tickets (the Nazi reputation). Still, the trip was the first victory for Streamliner, which previously failed inspection on its only bus and has spent the past month embroiled in spats with Redditors over the company’s logo and its ban on some left-wing passengers.

(14) BLADE RUNNER. Titan Comics advertises Blade Runner 2019 as “the first comic to tell new stories set in the Blade Runner universe!”

(15) KORNBLUTH TRIBUTE. Andrew Porter passed along a scanned clipping of Cyril Kornbluth’s obituary in a 1958 New York Times.

(16) UMM, YUM? Gastro Obscura calls her ‘Annabel Lecter’ because “These Made-to-Order Cakes Look Like Beautiful Nightmares”.

English pastry chef Annabel de Vetten crafts what may be the world’s most fantastically morbid confections. Her Birmingham studio and cooking space, the Conjurer’s Kitchen, is filled with feasts of macabre eye candy rendered with ghoulish precision.

Here is a plate heaped with thumb-sized maggots and grubs. There a bloodied human heart lies in a pool of green, molar-strewn slime. A stainless-steel coroner’s table hosts the disemboweled upper-torso of a corpse. It’s flanked by a four-foot statue of a saint, his face melting away to bone. On the counter, the neck of a deer’s partially fleshless head sinks its roots into a bisected flowerpot; a sapling bursts from its skull like a unicorn horn.

(17) THE ART OF FILLING OUT THE HUGO BALLOT. Steve J. Wright moves on to review “Hugo Category: Best Art Book”.

…Taking a look at this year’s offerings – well, the Hugo voters’ packet contains partial content (the images, really) from three of the six, and the full text and images from a fourth, which last was something I really didn’t expect.  I bought one of the remaining two myself… but the last one, Julie Dillon’s Daydreamer’s Journey, is a self-published job funded by a Kickstarter project and put together using indie tools, and the ultimate result was, I figured I could just about afford the book, but then I looked at the cost of overseas shipping, and my wallet instinctively snapped shut.  Pity, really.  Julie Dillon is a familiar name from recent Pro Artist final lists, and a book of her artwork (with accompanying descriptions of her creative process for each piece) would be a very nice thing to have.  The Kickstarter makes it look very enticing indeed….

(18) THEY CAME FROM SPACE. NPR finds that “Moon Rocks Still Awe, And Scientists Hope To Get Their Hands On More”

Darby Dyar says that as a kid, whenever Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, she and her classmates would get ushered into the school library to watch it on TV.

She remembers seeing the space capsules bobbing in the ocean as the astronauts emerged. “They climbed out and then they very carefully took the lunar samples and put them in the little rubber boat,” Dyar says, recalling that the storage box looked like an ice chest.

Nearly a half-ton of moon rocks were collected by the six Apollo missions to the lunar surface. And as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first landing mission approaches, NASA has decided to open up a still-sealed, never-studied moon rock sample that has been carefully saved for decades, waiting for technology to advance.

(19) I PRAY FOR ONE FIRST LANDING. Even if it’s not one of Glyer’s Chinese ‘bots I’m sure you’ll cheer when “AI pilot ‘sees’ runway and lands automatically”.

An automatic pilot has landed a plane using image-recognition artificial intelligence to locate the runway.

At large airports, systems on the ground beam up the position of the runway to guide automatic systems.

But in late May a new AI tool landed a small plane carrying passengers, by “sight” alone at Austria’s Diamond Aircraft airfield.

One expert said it could potentially improve flight safety.

The new system, developed by researchers at the technical universities of Braunschweig and Munich, processes visual data of the runway and then adjusts the plane’s flight controls, without human assistance.

Because it can detect both infrared light as well as the normal visible spectrum, it can handle weather conditions such as fog that might make it difficult for the human pilot to make out the landing strip.

Another advantage of the technology is it does not rely on the radio signals provided by the existing Instrument Landing System (ILS). Smaller airports often cannot justify the cost of this equipment and it can suffer from interference.

(20) LE GUIN ON PBS.  THIRTEEN’s American Masters presents the U.S. broadcast premiere of the “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” documentary on August 2.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, American Masters – Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin tells the intimate coming-of-age story of the Portland, Oregon, housewife and mother of three who forever transformed American literature by bringing science fiction into the literary mainstream. Through her influential work, Le Guin opened doors for generations of younger writers like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon and David Mitchell — all of whom appear in the film — to explore fantastic elements in their writing.

The film explores the personal and professional life of the notoriously private author through revealing conversations with Le Guin as well as her family, friends and the generations of renowned writers she influenced. Visually rich, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin illustrates the dramatic real-world settings that shaped Le Guin’s invented places using lush original animations over her own readings of her work to provide a firsthand experience of her fantastic worlds.

(21) TOUGH TIME AT NASFiC. Artist Newton Ewell had a terrible experience at SpikeCon and wrote about it on Facebook. Friends of his told me he’s okay with sharing it on File 770. (I’m adding this at the last minute, in preference to waiting for tomorrow’s Scroll.)

Have you ever been invited to a convention, only to be treated like you don’t belong there? I have.

Thursday was really hard on me. I felt very unwelcome at Spikecon, and have realized that driving an hour one-way, being shoved off into an unlit corner and having to confront people who hate me just really isn’t my thing.

Frankly, I’m afraid to come back to the convention. Libertarian Loudmouth Guy came by the table yesterday evening to drone on at me like a broken record about the same crap (his skewed politics) as usual. Being buttonholed by wackos who see my skin color and use it as a pretext to spew hateful talk at me does not make a good convention experience. Racist DrawGirl’s grudge against me was on full display. I’m not there to compete with anyone, nor am I there to be hated on by weirdos with strange fetishy grudges. Right-Wing Space Guy still can’t grasp that I don’t want to talk to him either, because of the Trump fanaticism displayed toward me.

I have friends there, but I was isolated from them, making the whole experience into an ordeal for me. I wanted to bring my large pieces, but something said, “don’t”. I’m glad I listened to that inner voice, because if I’d brought them, they’d have been ruined by the rain. I was supposed to have an electrical outlet for my drawing light, but all the outlets were taken up by the USS Dildo-prise people.

I don’t have money to afford driving back out there, let alone commuting back-and-forth, food etc. Being placed into a hostile working environment is too much pain for too little reward.

I realized that being presented with a symbol of racial oppression and corporate greed (a plastic golden spike) really hurt. All I feel from that is the pain and death dealt out to the people who worked so hard to join the two railroads, and it makes me sad. I’m hurt that my art is on all the con badges, but once I get there I’m made into a problem, a bothersome individual who’s not worth having the space I contracted for….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, Robin A. Reid, Trisha Lynn, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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74 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/9/19 With Mullets Towards None

  1. 3) just because the ravenous monsters of the Silicon Valley have adopted (in part) a philosophy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s evil or otherwise unworthy. It’s not a great endorsement, but also not a deal breaker.

  2. @2: This argument suggests to me the counter that the proposed Hugo could encourage translation of more works into English; statistics I’ve seen suggest that not nearly enough fiction is so translated. However, that’s a pretty thin cause for a Hugo, and doesn’t offset any of the objections raised in a previous thread.

    @3: Palmer deals glancingly with the fundamental problem with stoicism-as-she-describes-it: the notion that the universe is not capable of alteration. That’s a very attractive approach for them as has.

    @5: sounds like a good list of places to avoid, from my PoV; what’s the point of traveling to immerse onesself in fantasy rather than seeing what’s local? I get that ~”destination traveling” has become a thing, but I grew up with jokes about travelers who didn’t interact with their temporary neighborhood. (“The Dardanelles — that’s where you trumped my ace!”)

    @10: Ellen Klages has also done excellent genre-related work, with 2 YA-ish novels about people connected to the development of the atomic bomb and its aftermath; IIUC, the youngest child of that line is the lead in the latest, about a girl trying to get into Little League in the middle 1950’s — not even genre-related (unless you treat the final scene as inconsequential alternate history), but a good and plausible read.

    @19: I read this as a former instrument-rated pilot and wondered how it will compare in cost with current systems, which I’ve heard use GPS (which doesn’t require any ground equipment)

    @21: Spikecon’s web site shows a ridiculous number of guests for a convention that size (does even SDCC have that many?); IMO the fact that a local con appears to have merged with two elective cons is no reason to have 18 guests. With such a load, I can see the GoH liaison being overwhelmed on-site — but this should have been foreseen and backup provided; stress is not an excuse for that reaction. Not providing promised electricity to someone who is both a guest and a provider of something of value (the badge art) is just appalling. I’m not surprised at the whiteness of a semilocal convention deep in Mormon country, given that the faith was explicitly racist until a recent “revelation”, and very few SF cons are proclaimed Safe Spaces — but I wonder whether Spikecon’s published harassment policy was ever actually invoked (in this case or any other), and if so what effect it had.

    @Andrew, re @15: I wonder whether that obit is the reason Kornbluth is one of a very small number of genre authors in Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia (1987 edition — numbers may be better now). The obit waffles on the exercise being connected to his death, not mentioning that K was hypertense following his military service but was unhappy with the treatment because the only drug available made him feel mentally slow; IIUC he’d stopped taking it.

    @Miles Carter: you are correct in theory. (I’m flashing vague memories of typing somebody’s paper on Nietzsche, in which the writer argued that the racism attributed to his philosophy is a result of his sister’s distortions after he was dead.) However, the philosophy as described sums up to “nothing can be done”; this reads like a variant of ethical naturalism’s “whatever is, is right” — which requires a careful consideration of what really is. (I ran across EN in a discussion of John Norman’s reported support for it;- he reportedly believes that women are happier when treated as objects. Do not treat the above as a repeatable summary.) Almost-stairstep thought: how can any advice amounting to “don’t struggle, what you lost wasn’t yours anyway” be plausible? If the universe has intent, could it intend that you struggle to recover; if it does not, then how can one claim in the face of obvious contradictions (consider: tossing an egg up to the ceiling, vs not tossing it) that action cannot alter the universe? I’m again reminded of a snarky view of Christian Science as a religion of the rich on account of it viewing health as a sign of God’s favor.

  3. I’ve always thought you should confiscate all belongings of all stoics. They should be as happy without any stuff, so we who aren’t stoics need them more.

  4. @Mike Glyer If you think that I’m taking any undue glee in being on the predictive side of such an on-the-nose “I told you so”… well, guilty as charged, your honor. I am but flesh. Mea culpa.

    If you think my metaphor was inapposite, I’m happy to take correction. I’ve been wrong before and I’m sure I will be wrong again.

    If, however, your issue isn’t with the content of what I’m saying, but rather the feeling of how what I’m saying about a lot of this stuff seems to be splashing onto you and what you believe, I respectfully submit that that’s not an issue with my argument, and more about about where you’re standing.

  5. It can’t be an issue with your argument, because this isn’t an argument, it’s a slur:

    what you’re saying is an awful lot like “well, black people are allowed to use the N-word in their music, so how come I can’t yell it at someone in the middle of Cracker Barrel”?

    It’s not even a perceptive slur. My witness to multi-ethnic participation in the Golden Spike anniversary by groups that also show awareness of the history of discrimination is to the point that they considered it appropriate for everyone to participate with them. No black person is ever going to ask me to participate in using that term.

  6. @Mike Glyer:

    I do have to agree I had an impulse to sympathize with the concom — I think the nuances of your comment indicate something more, but the reason was that a good friend of mine helped advise their bid. My feelings about the whole thing became more fraught a few months ago when I found out he gave a lecture at a Utah convention in February about the history of sff fandom which amounted to a Sad Puppies apologetic. (A Mad Genius Club columnist wrote a post about it.) Sort of pulled the rug out from under me.

    Ouch. That sort of revelation stings. And that information adds to my sense that the convention was doomed. :/

    The Chinese Railroad Worker Descendants Association talk plus the treatment of Newton Ewell leads me to a sense that they were ticking off boxes for people who’d be satisfied by some minimums. (I have some snarkier thoughts that I will refrain from sharing here.)

    Intersectionality isn’t about traffic control at the crossroads of marginalizations. It’s about how living with multiple marginalization (and privilege) is intertwined, intensifying, and inseparable, and that protecting identities singly leaves people unprotected when their marginalization is about the combination (i.e. Black women experiencing misogynoir and not being protected by separate policy regarding [white] women and Black [men].) You can’t tally up marginalizations and expect similar results for “equivalent” numbers.

  7. @Chip:

    “Religion of the rich” could describe a number of other Christian denominations, which have taught in so many words that wealth is a sign of divine favor.

    I think the consistent “action cannot alter the universe” argument is “there is no free will, whatever you do is the only thing you could have done because your choices are made by your mind, which is deterministic.” This is not a position I am advocating, but I think it’s logically consistent. However, it’s pointless to try to convince people of that position, because if it’s correct, the entire argument is foreordained.

    Also, as far as I can tell that position is useless, because it doesn’t offer answers to “what should I do?” If I’m deciding whether to donate to Amnesty International, or what to have for dinner, I cannot know what I will decide [will have decided] until the decision is made.

    Many years ago, I came across the joke/paradox formulation “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”

  8. 10) I especially liked The Green Glass Sea; White Sands, Red Menace isn’t quite as good, I don’t think, but I still liked it a lot. I’ll give the new one a whirl.

  9. @PJ Evans, that’s just down the street from where my husband works. (Well, one Chicago neighborhood over.)

  10. @Vicki:

    Many years ago, I came across the joke/paradox formulation “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”

    The matching formulation is “I freely choose to believe that all my actions are determined.”

  11. Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice
    But to carry on.

    (Since I saw Stephen Stills interview just last week.)

  12. 10) Gormenghast (at least the first two books) is worth the effort. Yes, “Dickens smoking opium” doesn’t seem too far off the mark. And Steerpike is one of the great villains.

    I also liked the BBC miniseries from 2000 or so. It certainly had an excellent cast — Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christopher Lee, Celia Imrie, Ian Richardson, Stephen Fry and Richard Griffiths, amongst many, many others.

  13. The opening paragraph to Titus Groan, just to give a sense of Peake’s style:


    blockquote>Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls. They sprawled over the sloping earth, each one halfway over its neighbour until, held back by the castle ramparts, the innermost of these hovels laid hold on the great walls, clamping themselves thereto like limpets to a rock. These dwellings, by ancient law, were granted this chill intimacy with the stronghold that loomed above them. Over their irregular roofs would fall throughout the seasons, the shadows of time-eaten buttresses, of broken and lofty turrets, and, most enormous of all, the shadow of the Tower of Flints. This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.



  14. @Vicki, yes, sorry, white as far as I could tell. My leaving that out shows how hard it is to root out one’s own biases.

  15. It’s not even a perceptive slur. My witness to multi-ethnic participation in the Golden Spike anniversary by groups that also show awareness of the history of discrimination is to the point that they considered it appropriate for everyone to participate with them. No black person is ever going to ask me to participate in using that term.

    Since when have Asian Americans ever gotten to have any say about whether our gatherings are closed to others?

    I did not speak clearly enough in my note earlier, Mike Glyer — there’s a distinct difference between the attitudes of sourcelanders and determined descendants and recent immigrants and politically active diasporans in this, and it’s far too easy for the non-marginalized bystander to prioritize the voices of those who seek conciliation or complicity and to pretend that POC are a monolith.

    Again, I infer no ill-intent, but there’s a persistent societal pattern of cherrypicking the comfortable framing and disclaiming the challenging ones that one might wish to avoid evoking.

    And in that, I think Mike VanH’s comparison has some teeth.

    The railroad work was brutal and people were worked to death, not in heroic choice as in the legend of John Henry, but as they were driven to it and denied rest in order to meet a deadline…and if attendees of the commemoration weren’t informed of that, then that was a white-pleasing whitewash. I don’t think he slurred you, if that’s what you meant to convey. I think he expressed the simplistic framing that was coming across in your initial description.

  16. KTO: Since when have Asian Americans ever gotten to have any say about whether our gatherings are closed to others?

    That doesn’t make sense to me. I live in Arcadia, CA and drive through three other cities to visit my mother in the nursing facility (Temple City, San Gabriel, and Alhambra), which all have huge Chinese-American and Chinese immigrant populations. Any of them are in a perfect position to hold a closed meeting whenever they want.

    Also, if you’re going to justify Mike Van Helder’s statement, you should analyze it, not just unilaterally declare that it “has some teeth.” His quote was:

    what you’re saying is an awful lot like “well, black people are allowed to use the N-word in their music, so how come I can’t yell it at someone in the middle of Cracker Barrel”?

    In addition to being condescending and insulting, I found VanHelder’s comparison to be irrelevant to my point about how some people who have Chinese origins in common, whether living there now, came from there, or whose ancestors came from there, thought it fitting to help celebrate the anniversary of the Golden Spike with people of other races and ethnicities.

    You also say —

    there’s a distinct difference between the attitudes of sourcelanders and determined descendants and recent immigrants and politically active diasporans in this, and it’s far too easy for the non-marginalized bystander to prioritize the voices of those who seek conciliation or complicity and to pretend that POC are a monolith.

    Yes, I’m pretty sure that happens. What also happens is people tend to want to simplify information and analytical concepts to a level with which they feel most comfortable. Or to skip even that step and resort to predetermined ideological answers.

    It also matters what a person’s agenda is. If a person is seeking to exercise power over a social situation, they may discourage others from seeking information and thinking for themselves.

    And despite all that, there I was, not announcing to myself “When I was in grade school, the building of the transcontinental railroad was treated as a patriotic accomplishment, and the work was dangerous, but sort of equal opportunity danger. I’ll just go with what I learned in the fourth grade.” Instead I asked myself, “I wonder if people of Chinese heritage outside fandom think the idea of celebrating the Golden Spike sucks as much as the people expressing an opinion in JOF on Facebook?” And I went and looked. I expected to find the same disapproval, frankly. But that’s not what I found, as in the examples I linked to. And why would I persist in believing something that is contradicted by the evidence?

  17. Mike Glyer:

    And why would I persist in believing something that is contradicted by the evidence?

    I understand how you got to that conclusion. I’m trying to explain the dynamics behind the why of the domination of that sort of apparent lack of disapproval, and I can see why, being in proximity to SGV, you don’t see the way Asian American narratives are throttled.

    I’m not claiming you didn’t see what you saw. I’m trying to explain why that was the preponderance that squashes the other voices. Not about your intent or experience, but offering more data and more nuance…and exposing a struggle within Asian American complexity that isn’t obvious to outsiders.

    The struggle to make it obvious that JAs had a lot of pain from the Great Incarceration was a big thing two decades ago — the question is not whether there’s complicit pressure within Asian American circles, and circles dominated by sourcelanders and recent immigrants (which is what SGV is) to follow the white narrative on Asian American history, but why, and how that affects the narrative you’ll see.

    My objection regarding SpikeCon is not that the concom started off in ignorance. It’s that they persisted despite multiple attempts to redress the issue, and further that bystanders are exacerbating the issue by providing an apparently “reasonable” view, and painting any sort of speaking up as a fanatical fringe excess.

    My own comparison wouldn’t have been Mike VanH’s. I would have referenced https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania and the myths of happy slaves. The people who originated those myths knew what they were doing, and for whose benefit. The people who spread those myths included those who believed sincerely that this must be true based on the evidence they could find, in an era when slave narratives were suppressed.

    I come back again to “cui bono?” on this. I understand the desire to have fandom be a space apart from politics, but that ends up inevitably serving the status quo. Science fiction, a genre about the future, bent to serve what exists now, is a thing that I have no love for. I love the genre not merely for lasers and rocket ships but for dreams of what might be.

  18. (10) Ellen Klages and her SFF-adjacent books

    The two atomic-bomb books (and thus all the ones with characters linked to them) are also linked via family connections to Passing Strange. It’s very subtle and background, but if you view the entire story-network as part of the same fictional universe, then they’re all technically SFF even if a particular book doesn’t have overt SFFnal elements. Someone needs to do a family tree diagram showing the links, just for fun.

  19. @Heather Rose Jones: in the same sense, King of the Hill and Law & Order are SFF, because both can be connected through guest character appearances to The X-Files.

  20. @Patrick Morris Miller

    @Heather Rose Jones: in the same sense, King of the Hill and Law & Order are SFF, because both can be connected through guest character appearances to The X-Files.

    I knew about the connection between Law and Order and X-Files, but how is King of the Hill related?
    Tommy Westphall Universe

  21. @bill: The Hills briefly appeared on an episode of The Simpsons, and a Simpsons episode had Mulder and Scully as guest characters.

  22. It isn’t quite the “same sense” because the connections in the Klages stories are all set up by the author, not crossover-fic. Also, not quite as tangential as “guest appearances” since many of the characters involved have genealogical connections.

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