Pixel Scroll 7/1/16 I Have No Mouse And I Must Fafhrd

(1) A BOOK OWNER’S LIFE. Locus Online’s Mark R. Kelly writes a personal blog, and his newest post is a memoir, “15 Ways of Buying a Book, Part 1”.

Way #1:

The first books of my own, that I bought with my own money and at my own selection, were purchased through a classroom Scholastic Books catalog, in the 6th grade, that is, in 1966-1967. My family lived in Reseda, California, and I attended Vanalden Elementary School, a few blocks from our home. The school was a set of bungalows, separate structures holding two classrooms each, raised off the ground with a crawl-space below and a short set of steps up to the classroom door. A few times a year, pamphlet catalogs were passed out to all the students, listing a selection of titles and prices. We would take the catalogs home, consult with our parents, then return order forms to class with appropriate payment. The books cost 35 or 50 cents each. They were typically special Scholastic editions, short little paperbacks the size of old Ace Doubles, or larger thinner paperbacks for nonfiction. Everyone’s orders would be consolidated into a single order for the classroom, mailed in, and three or four weeks later, a big box would arrive in class and the selections eagerly distributed. (You can imagine: the box would have three copies of this book; five of these; one of this…)

Always being rather obsessive about keeping lists, I have maintained detailed purchase (and reading) records since I was 15 years old (on sheets of paper, later copied to logbooks, later copied to databases), and at some point reconstructed such lists from before that age. So I know exactly which books I bought when.

The three I remember from this 6th grade classroom source, and still have, are Martin Gardner’s Science Puzzlers, Isaac Asimov’s Environments Out There, and Howard Pease’ Mystery at Thunderbolt House. The Gardner likely reflected my interest in puzzles from that Things to Make and Things to Do volume I’ve described in that earlier post; the Asimov, a thin book about the solar system, from my recently discovered interest in astronomy. (My first interest in astronomy was seeing a stack of textbooks, called A Dipper Full of Stars, in a cabinet in my 6th grade classroom, and asking to borrow one. I’ve alluded to this in previous posts.)

(2) FINDING WAYS TO DONATE. Here’s a signal boost for JJ’s answer in comments to Tasha Turner’s wish for “a nationwide and worldwide Internet place to go and see places in need.”

One of the commenters on Greta’s blog linked to this:

DonorsChoose.org. Support a classroom. Build a future. Teachers all over the U.S. need your help to bring their classroom dreams to life. Choose a project that inspires you and give any amount.

search by science fiction

You can also search for projects in the highest poverty areas, nearest to being completed, closest to the deadline date, a specific age/grade range, or projects in or near your current location or your hometown.

(3) UNKNOWN CHRISTMAS COMPANION. ScreenRant says who is a mystery: “Doctor Who 2016 Christmas Special Features ‘Different Guest Companion’”.

Though his newest companion, Bill (played by newcomer Pearl Mackie) has already been introduced, speaking to Doctor Who Magazine, Moffatt has confirmed that her debut will be at the start of Season 10 in 2017, and the Doctor will have a different guest companion for the Christmas Special:

“We’ll introduce [Bill] in the first episode of 2017, and she’ll run through that series. She’ll not be in Christmas [2016], because that would blow the series launch … So there’ll be somebody else – a different, guest companion – this Christmas, like how River Song played the companion role in last year’s Special.”

Of course, this now leads everyone to wonder who might join Capaldi in the TARDIS.

(4) EXEC COMMENTS ON TREK FAN FILM GUIDELINES. Axamonitor has a thorough article covering what a CBS representative has said about interpreting the new guidelines.

John Van Citters, CBS vice president of product development for CBS Consumer Products appeared on the hour-long program, Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, which was released June 28, to explain the studios’ intent behind the guidelines, why they’re guidelines instead of rules and to clarify some of the guidelines’ specific restrictions regarding run-times, audio dramas, props and costumes…..

An Arms Race

AXANAR MEETING Van Citters was one of two CBS officials who met with Axanar producer Alec Peters in August 2015, followed by a warning of possible legal action.

Van Citters observed that fan productions had spiraled into something “larger and larger,” that had become “something of an arms race about how many Hollywood names could be attached. … That’s not really in the spirit of fan fiction.”

The guidelines, by prohibiting that kind of competition for involving industry professionals, level the playing field for newer and smaller fan productions, he added.

Not the End of Fan Films

Van Citters disputed some characterizations of the guidelines as a means to end fan films. Instead, he said they mark the first time a major copyright holder has ever given any guidelines for unfettered use of a major piece of its intellectual property with just guidelines.

He noted that while the guidelines’ restrictions may seem counterintuitive, they are meant to protect fan films for the long term, and to “cure some abuses that have been out there, and to refocus this around the fan experience … and around creating more stories rather than this kind of arms race about talent and fundraising.”

(5) PACKING IRON. Richard Foss is quoted in KCET’s story about “The Culinary Historians of Southern California”.

With the Cook Bear as their mascot–the only other place he has appeared is in the Pan-Pacific Cookbook published in 1915–CHSC keeps to their mission statement, “Dedicated to pursuing food history and supporting culinary collections at the Los Angeles Public Library”, by taking the money raised from membership dues ($30 a year), fundraising dinners and regular cookbook sales (typically after the events) and giving it to the library. To date the group has donated over $100,000…..

Special Events Chair Richard Foss, who also lectures regularly on a variety of food history topics, sees interest in the subject growing. “The Culinary Historians of Southern California is a club for anyone with any level of interest in food and food history,” said Foss, a journalist, food historian, and author of two books, “Rum: A Global History” and “Food in The Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies”. “It’s as much about anthropology as it is about history and it’s really about food as a transmittor of cultural values.”


Richard Foss, a CHSC Board Member, demonstrates how to use an antique waffle iron during a talk on dining in California during the Victorian era at the Workman-Temple Homestead Museum in the City of Industry earlier this year. || Image provided by Richard Foss

Richard Foss, a CHSC Board Member, demonstrates how to use an antique waffle iron during a talk on dining in California during the Victorian era at the Workman-Temple Homestead Museum in the City of Industry earlier this year. || Image provided by Richard Foss

(6) HOWARD AWARDS. Black Gate has the winners of the 2016 Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards, announced in June at the REH Days celebration in Cross Plains, Texas.

(7) COSTUMERS AHOY! Costume-Con 36 (2018) in San Diego has picked its hotel and set a date. The con will take place May 11-14, 2018 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Mission Valley. The hotel is adjacent to the Hazard Center Mall (which offers several restaurant options) and it is across the street from the San Diego Trolley.

(8) TOLKIEN AT WAR. On the anniversary of the first day of the Somme, Joseph Loconte muses about “How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front”. Loconte’s book A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 was released a year ago.

IN the summer of 1916, a young Oxford academic embarked for France as a second lieutenant in the British Expeditionary Force. The Great War, as World War I was known, was only half-done, but already its industrial carnage had no parallel in European history.

“Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute,” recalled J. R. R. Tolkien. “Parting from my wife,” he wrote, doubting that he would survive the trenches, “was like a death.”

The 24-year-old Tolkien arrived in time to take part in the Battle of the Somme, a campaign intended to break the stalemate between the Allies and Central Powers. It did not.

The first day of the battle, July 1, produced a frenzy of bloodletting. Unaware that its artillery had failed to obliterate the German dugouts, the British Army rushed to slaughter.

Before nightfall, 19,240 British soldiers — Prime Minister David Lloyd George called them “the choicest and best of our young manhood” — lay dead. That day, 100 years ago, remains the most lethal in Britain’s military history.

Though the debt is largely overlooked, Tolkien’s supreme literary achievement, “The Lord of the Rings,” owes a great deal to his experience at the Somme. Reaching the front shortly after the offensive began, Tolkien served for four months as a battalion signals officer with the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers in the Picardy region of France.

(9) TRACKING MALZBERG’S COLUMN. Mike Resnick wanted to be sure I understood what really happened:

I’m told that File 770 ran a piece saying that Galaxy’s Edge, the magazine I edit, had pulled Malzberg’s column on Judy Merril due to protests. Nope. We pulled the entire May-June issue in which it appeared at the end of June 30, so we could post the July-August issue on our web page on July 1 (today). This has been our practice since the first issue, 4 years ago. Anyone who wants to read the May-June 2016 issue (#20) is welcome to buy it in epub, .mobi, or paper. Honest.

Thanks to a commenter here, I had already posted the correction by the time Mike reached out to me on Facebook. However, I’m happy to repeat the explanation and clear up the impression created by yesterday’s report.

(10) MALZBERG READERS. Today there were more reactions what Barry Malzberg said about Judith Merril in Galaxy’s Edge.


  • July 1, 1899 – Charles Laughton. When Ray Bradbury went to Disneyland for the first time it was with Captain Bligh and the Hunchback and Doctor Moreau. Bradbury also originally wrote the play “Merry Christmas 2116” as a vehicle for Laughton and Elsa Lanchester.

(12) SEARCHING FOR FANNISH MUSICAL LYRICS. Rob Chilson left a comment in the About area asking for help.

I wonder if you or your readers can help me.

40 years less 2 months ago, at MidAmeriCon, I sat in on a reading of a musical version of “The Enchanted Duplicator” — my intro to the classic. It was MCed by Filthy Pierre (Erwin Strauss) who if I recall correctly adapted it to the stage. The others sang the songs and I mumbled along low enough not to disturb them. I’ve now spent a couple of hours on the net looking for one song that started: “Roscoe gave fan an arm of iron to help him pub his zine” and had the chorus, “But for a quarter or a loc, somebody else cranks the damn machine. For a quarter or a loc, a quarter or a loc. A quarter or a three-line ell-oh-cee.” Or words to that effect.

Can anyone point me at the lyrics?

One thought — is there anything like this in “The Mimeo Man”, which dates to that era?

(13) AT LIS CAREY’S LIBRARY. Posted the other day, Lis Carey’s review of an audio version of the Hugo-nominated novella: “Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (author), Robin Miles (narrator)”.

….Except that Binti has won a scholarship to Oomza University, a very distinguished school–and on another planet. Her family is shocked at the very idea that Binti would actually accept it and go–but their dreams are not her dreams, and she does. And on her way there, the ship she’s on is attacked and boarded by the Meduze, an alien species that has a very real and serious grievance against Oomza University…..

(14) ANTICIPATION? A writer for the Huffington Post contends “A Dystopian Novelist Predicted Trump’s Campaign Slogan in the ‘90s”.

….Whatever the case, it seems sci-fi writer and unofficial Queen of the Galaxy Octavia Butler predicted the slogan a couple of decades ago. Nearly 20 years before Trump trademarked the term, she wrote about a character named Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, a harbinger for violence in her 1998 book Parable of the Talents.

You can see an excerpt outlining Jarret’s use of the phrase “make American great again” below:

(15) ILVERMORNY INK. It wasn’t only Elizabeth Warren having fun, says Entertainment Weekly — “J. K. Rowling’s Ilvermorny inspires excellent jokes from Massachusetts’ government officials”

Later, Governor Charlie Baker’s office even gave a good-natured statement to The Boston Globe about Ilvermorny, which has supposedly resided on Mount Greylock for hundreds of years without detection.

“The governor believes that small businesses are the backbone of the economy whether they are owned by witches or mortals, and because the institution has operated for nearly 400 years without incident, the administration plans to revisit the matter sometime in the next century or two,” Baker’s office told the paper in a statement. “The Department of Revenue’s spell-detecting technology procurement will be in its final stages at that time.”

The Boston Globe also talked to John Dudek, manager of Mount Greylock State Reservation’s Bascom Lodge, who said that the mountain’s weather does sometimes create a supernatural effect.

“It’s a little bit like The Shining here when you’re alone at night,” Dudek said. “There are days when we’re just locked in clouds and you can’t see anything.”

(16) WHAT IT MEANS TO GROW. Bishop O’Connell writes about “Growing as a Writer, and as a Person” at A Quiet Pint.

Yes, I’ve improved as a writer, but for me, being a better writer is inextricably tied to being a better person. Unfortunately, growth and improvement is never a singular, instantaneous event. It happens over a long period of time, sometimes so slow that, like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly warming water, it goes entirely unnoticed until you have some context. When it happens, it can be embarrassing (see above, and we’re still not talking about it) but mostly it’s wonderful to see, clearly and starkly, just how much progress has been made. In this post I talked about how much I learned about the tropes and stereotypes I’d blindly fallen into and how I work to rise above them. I say work not achieved, because I still have a long way to go. This fact was brought into harsh relief as I was editing The Returned.

(17) 48 HOURS. Here’s a bulletin of interest from The Onion that should keep parents everywhere concerned: “Investigators: First 48 Hours Most Critical In Locating Missing Children Who Entered Portal To Fantastical World”.

“As soon as we learn a child has disappeared down a pool of light underneath their staircase or through a strangely shaped attic door they had never before noticed, we must act fast to assemble search parties and cover as much enchanted territory as possible,” said investigator Joe Phillippe, who urged parents to contact authorities immediately if they believed their child had passed into a gleaming world of crystal palaces or been transported back in time to the age of King Arthur. “If they’re not found within that critical 48-hour window, children typically become disoriented in the thick fog and dense forest of a land where it’s always night, or they’re led astray by a well-dressed fox who promises to take them to a place where kids can play all varieties of games. At that point, they become almost impossible to locate.”

[Thanks to Rose Embolism, Cat Rambo, Steve Davidson, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

87 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/1/16 I Have No Mouse And I Must Fafhrd

  1. Fnifhth!

    Also a shout out to Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway in reference to the last Onion link. Y’all should check it out.

  2. And the sequel, Mouse 2: Fafhrder.

    Remembering the Scholastic book sales gave me a bunch of happy memories.

  3. 1) I haven’t thought of Scholastic Books in years! I loved those!

  4. I loved the Scholastic Book Fair sales. I have a recollection that when our books were delivered, there was also a display in the auditorium we could browse. But that was a very very long time ago and I don’t trust my memory. (We’re talking late ’60s.) I still have several books that I bought through Scholastic–specific titles I can recall off the top of my head include Ian Serraillier’s Escape from Warsaw, and Alexander Key’s The Forgotten Door. I think I also bought my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird through a Scholastic sale. My mother later told me that she was convinced I mistakenly thought it was an ornithology book. (I was bird-mad at the time.) I was a bit peeved that she thought I wasn’t interested in reading literary novels, particularly since she kept encouraging me to do so.

    Thanks for the signal boost on that, Mike. What a worthy effort that site is — given that schools and libraries are being gutted and de-funded everywhere, especially in small towns.

  6. 10) I thought yesterday’s Malzberg esay on Judith Merril was awful, but the one on Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr. is even worse, regardless of how one thinks about her final moments.

    But then maybe we should be grateful that Malzberg makes no comment about how either Merril or Sheldon/Tiptree looked in a bikini.

  7. 1) I remember the Scholastic Book Service. The big box would come and all classroom efforts would stop while they were distributed. That was where I got the Ballentine edition of The Lord of the Rings (I had bought a copy of the Ace edition of The Two Towers and I swear I remember the “what has gone before” section described an entirely different book, something about an Earth adventurer going to a barbaric magical planet and learning to use the Ten Rings of Power . . .
    Anyhow they also had the very first book I ever read about Polar exploration, Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage, a cut-down edition of Alfred Lansing’s Endurance.

  8. What an angry, bitter old man Malzberg is. What a horrible person he is to treat Sheldon and Merril that way — criticism utterly lacking in recognition of what they were dealing with in their lives, and of what a massive contribution they made to SFF writing.

    He should probably hope that when he’s gone, other authors will treat him less viciously and more truthfully than he has treated Sheldon and Merril.

    If they do, it will be more than he deserves. 🙁

  9. Heather, we got those: there were the books we’d pre-ordered, but then also lots of tables in the gym or auditorium, and we could buy them too.

  10. (17) Snerk. I like that a lot, considering I just read The Magicians. I can’t decide if it’s a love letter or a hate letter to Narnia.

    I also have “Every Heart a Doorway” waiting to be read. Coincidence? (Yes.)

    (I never wanted to escape into a magical land; I wanted magic powers in this one.)

  11. Well. That Malzberg column (the one about Tiptree) is a complete waste of pixels. Bah.

    In other news, I’m plowing my way through Ninefox Gambit. Will report more when I’m finished, but so far it’s really good.

  12. @Heather I still have my copy of Escape From Warsaw, my 6th grade teacher gave me the classroom copy because I was the only one to ever order any of the books. In a town with no bookstores I thought Scholastic was a great deal.

  13. I don’t think I have any of my Scholastic books left at this point, but I took home more than my share of them back in the day.

  14. Novelettes:

    “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander: I guess I can see why some people like it, but no. Too many of these stories are basically about video games, and not terribly interesting ones, either.

    “Obits” by Stephen King: Suitable as a gripping introduction to a longer story. OKish in current state.

    “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang: the only one of these stories that really deserves to beat No Award, as far as I’m concerned.

    I read “What Price Humanity” and I was sorry I did, so I’m not reading “Flashpoint: Titan” unless one of you tells me I really, *really* ought to.

  15. I loved the Scholastic Book Service. Mystery of the Witches Bridge. Mystery of the Haunted Mine. (For some reason the SBS liked to add Mystery of… to existing book titles.) Above all, Keys’ The Forgotten Door: “Even the deer come out to watch, unafraid.”

    JJ: after reading Malzberg’s column on Tiptree, I think your assessment was too kind.

  16. I’ve been using DonorsChoose to send textbooks and science materials to impoverished USAdian schools for about a decade now. It’s a very good organisation.

    OTOH, the fact that there is a need for such a thing in the wealthiest country in the history of the world should be seen as a national disgrace.

  17. So I want to tell a story about me and Alexander Keys’s The Forgotten Door. (I don’t think I’ve told it here before, though I know I’ve told it on my blog.) When people do those “ten most memorable books” memes, I have a hard time trying to evaluate what would make a book “memorable” above all the other books I’ve loved. But I usually answer the meme by talking about books where I remember vividly the context in which I encountered them.

    When I was in grade school, we would sometimes have special subjects for various reasons that meant redistributing students from their usual classrooms into different groupings in some classroom other than your usual. I don’t remember the specific reason for it, in this case, but there was some reason why I was off in a different classroom every day for an hour or so for a week. I also don’t remember why I was bored out of my skull in this context, but being bored out of my skull wasn’t uncommon in grade school.

    Poking around in my borrowed desk, I found a copy of The Forgotten Door and started surreptitiously reading it in my lap, out of sight of the teacher. It’s a wonder I didn’t get caught, given how quickly and thoroughly I got hooked on it. So for that whole week, when I was sitting at that desk not doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing, I was desperately trying to finish reading that book. And when I didn’t, I took the drastic step of WRITING DOWN THE AUTHOR AND TITLE.

    I think it was the first time I had ever decided I needed to seek out a particular book, rather than just reading through an entire library indiscriminately.

    It took me years to track down the book again. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just tell my mom, “Hey, can you help me track down this book?” Probably for the same reason I loved it so much: it spoke to my sense of being a lost visitor from another planet. I love my parents, and they were actually quite good parents for a shy geeky person like me (and most of my brothers). But I felt entirely too self-conscious about asking for help finding a book that so perfectly expressed I DON”T BELONG HERE. (I also kind of had a generalized anxiety about doing things or talking about things that would call attention to myself. Or lead to grown-ups asking me pointed questions.)

  18. Has anyone here been to Costume Con? I’ve participated in two Worldcon Masquerades and my team has won ribbons due to the creativity and skill of my co-masqueraders, not my piddling efforts. I’d love to go to learn and squee and admire, but don’t want to feel inadequate.

  19. (1) Scholastic Book arrival day was the BEST! I still have several.

    (4) It’s all so eminently reasonable that I’m sure the intarwebs will hate it.

    (9-10) Bitter angry misogynists gotta, I guess. Especially when their targets are long dead.

  20. I bought my first SFF book at a Scholastic Book Fair Table — Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey. Had to have been third or fourth grade, and I was all about animal stories, and the fire lizards seemed like animals. I’d already read my Dad’s copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and hadn’t realized there were more books like that out there… And might not have been sure I wanted more books like LotR at that point. But Menolly and McCaffrey were a turning point for me, when I realized it wasn’t just animal sgories I wanted, but stories of other ways of being — because at that point, I was a shy, nerdy girl in Georgia and I was utterly failing at being what I was expected to be, and completely miserable about it. (A move to a college town in Iowa would begin to help with that in a year or two’s time; the gender roles were less stifling.)

    I wish I hadn’t read the Malzberg essay on Tiptree.

  21. Bonnie McDaniel on July 1, 2016 at 7:52 pm said:

    In other news, I’m plowing my way through Ninefox Gambit. Will report more when I’m finished, but so far it’s really good.

    This is next on my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to it.

  22. Man, my Scholastic book purchases were not nearly as awesome, at least the way I remember it. I bought “My Robot Buddy” and the Bunnicula books. I know I bought a lot more than that – I loved ordering from the little catalog – but I can’t remember much of what I bought.

  23. Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit. The perfect book for a socially awkward, nerdy, anxiety-ridden, little kid.

    I loved Scholastic, but only to a point. Depending on the teacher, I might be confronted with questions about why I was ordering things outside my grade level. Didn’t always happen, though, and in retrospect, there were no questions and beaming approval for my choices, the years we had that big test that showed how far above “my grade level” I was reading.

    The best reads came from raiding my parent and aunt and uncle’s books. And the high school and then the adult sections of the library.

  24. Scholastic book sales. I know that I ordered many books of all sorts from scholastic when I was in elementary school, but the one that really stands out is The Girl With The Silver Eyes. I loved and reread it many times. I’ve thought about picking up a copy and reading it as an adult, but I’m not sure that I want to mess with that memory.

  25. My aim to read a ton of 2016 stuff in July is off to a flying start so far:

    The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher of House Wombat

    Retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” (which is to Frozen what Hamlet is to the Lion King). I’ve never actually read the original all the way through though I’m familiar with the plot from people getting annoyed at all the women + PoC characters who were replaced by talking snowmen when Disney worked its magic. So I can’t exactly say what was adapted and what is totally new but what I can say is that I loved this immensely, and was stealing pages in the car on the way to meetings (not driving!) and wherever else possible. The plot follows a real and relateable teenage heroine, with hang-ups and worries and adoration for a boy who has done nothing to deserve it (too many of us have been there), who then goes through a fairy tale adventure to rescue said boy – with all the discoveries and growth that implies – and also gets to hang out with the indisputable best raven in fiction. Recommend!

    The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho

    This novelette follows Siew Chin, who died young and found herself in the tenth court of hell, “living” out her afterlife as a resigned second wife in an undead society where families rely on burnt offerings from their living relatives to maintain their comfort and “life”styles, and allow them to indefinitely delay reincarnation (and the death of their identities) through bribing hell’s officials. Siew Chin’s grim but stable existence is thrown into upheaval by the appearance of Yonghua, her husband’s new “Terracotta Bride”, who seems initially to just be a new fancy for a gross old man but soon turns out to represent something rather more.

    There’s a lot going on in this story and I found the setting and ideas interesting, but it didn’t quite hang together for me by the end – there’s just too much that didn’t feel properly explored in the length available, and while the ending is a nice moment I didn’t really get how it related to the buildup. I’d be interested to read more from the same setting though.

    Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

    Between Tel Aviv and Jaffa, centuries in the future, sits Central Station – humanity’s gateway to the rest of the solar system, and home to a diverse population descended in large part from the migrant workers who came to build the station generations ago. We follow a rotating cast of this population – including humans, cyborgs, robots, ancient undead mechanical soldiers and information starved space vampires – as they live out their daily lives in the neighbourhood under the station. There’s sort of a loose wider plot holding things together outside the characters themselves but it’s not the emphasis of the book by any means.

    The worldbuilding in this is brilliant and very believable – the book reminded me a lot of “Beyond the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo, which though non-fiction follows interlocking lives of people in a Mumbai slum in a similar way. For every plot-relevant worldbuilding detail, there’s another three which aren’t necessary but give the setting an immense amount of depth. I was, however, left unsatisfied by Central Station and I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or not – on the one hand, this definitely isn’t the kind of book where you’d expect things to come to a neat resolution, as it would conflict with the sense of looking in on “real” peoples’ lives. On the other hand, I did feel that some of the characters and ideas were left too unexplored for the book to end where it did. Again, I’d definitely pick up anything else that comes out in this world.

    Next: I’m now reading Informocracy, though not far enough in to have an opinion. Also on the to-read 2k16 list for the next few weeks: Join, Geek Feminist Revolution, Penric and the Shaman, Sleeping Giants (though I think this was first self-pubbed before 2016?), Dark Run, the Jewel and her Lapidary, the Cold Between, Borderline, Mechanical Failure, plus finish the Too Like the Lightning audiobook (20 hours is such a long time to devote to one thing!). If I get through all those, the Kindle Sample ghetto also contains the Kraken Sea, False Hearts, Mongrels, a Man Lies Dreaming, Maresi, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits and All the Birds in the Sky. And if I get through THOSE I can start playing series catch-up with Temeraire, Max Gladstone and the Seven Realms series. Oh and I’ve got six months of Asimov’s back issues mostly unread too. Transcontinental flights have never been this entertaining!

  26. (LOL the flying start is not that flying, as Terracotta Bride was in fact originally published in 2011. #soopergenius)

  27. Turns out my first skidfy book was a Schlastic Book Service book called Revolt on Alpha C, by one ‘Robert Silverberg’. My copy ended up sent to the poor relations in Nova Scotia, where I found it and got it back. The main character was a guy named Harl Ellison.

  28. What Price Humanity was just dull. Well dull and mildly racist.
    Seven Kill Tiger was deeply unpleasant.

  29. I’m currently reading Between Light and Shadow – An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe 1951-1986, so I’m rather looking forward to the short fiction, whatever it’s like.

    (Executive summary: with a half-decent editor and a lot more work, this collection of somewhat rambling web essays could have been quite good. But instead it was “edited” by Guess Who, so it isn’t.)

  30. I still have some of my old Scholastic books from — what, forty-five years ago now, some of them? Dang.

    Aside from many fine SFnal books, Tom Eaton’s 1974 Otis G. Firefly’s Phantasmagoric Almanac contained a collection of absurdities and near-Dadaistic jokes that I still riff off of to this day.

  31. Doctor Science:

    I read “What Price Humanity” and I was sorry I did, so I’m not reading “Flashpoint: Titan” unless one of you tells me I really, *really* ought to.

    You don’t ought to. It’s serviceable, but plain – not bad, but not any good either.

    If you read it you’re probably not going to be sorry for anything else than the wasted time, but you’re not missing out on a good story by leavining it alone.

    As for me, I don’t understand the love for “Folding Bejing”. I read first half a week ago, and I feel very little pull to read the rest. Am I missing something? Is there a plot twist (fold?) somewhere towards the end?

  32. That Onion article is sloppy journalism. Everyone knows that when children enter portals to fantastical worlds, they always return before anyone notices that they are missing! (And of course–like most things in life–there is an XKCD for it.)

  33. Scholastic books were, indeed, very important. For one thing, I was allowed to buy them! Somehow, the money was there for a few books from time to time at a quarter or thirty-five cents a shot. Some things I remember, like Andre Norton’s Steel Magic (which I think they retitled), science and math puzzlers by Martin Gardner, a wonderful book on anatomy by illustrator Anthony Raveilli. Codes and Secret Writing.

    Best of all, deserving of its own line return, is that I got Bertrand R. Brinley’s superlative “Mad Scientist Club” collection, and not only was plunged into a world of mischievous, self-directed technicians who communicated with one another in elliptical references and in-jokes edging toward a special vocabulary. Good lord, this wasn’t just science fiction. This was science fiction about FANS. They twitted the authorities without rebelling. They were a platonic ideal of innocent, respectful subversion. Special bonus for that set of my friends who fired off model rockets (they cost money, so I was out of it): Brinley was a rocket jock as well, and I understand he wrote a valuable text on the topic.

  34. Well some children come back before their disappearance is noticed, some come back before they even went, some come back hundreds of years later, some come back and have to do battle with changelings left in their place, some that come back are changelings and you’re never sure which, some come back to the wrong world where everything is slightly askew, some come back to discover the whole thing was a metaphor for death and they’d have been better off staying where they were, some come back cured of the romantic wasting disease that had kept them bed-bound for most of their lives and some come back bringing a highly contagious romantic wasting disease that rages across the globe leaving most of it bed-bound, some come back having grown to adulthood seemingly overnight, some come back in entirely different bodies, not always human, some come back and have to spend a month in a hyerbaric chamber and some come back and say thank God we’re home, that magical place on the other side of the portal was as boring as fuck.

  35. On Rob Chilson’s filk quest: I did some more searching this morning. Based on his description, it’s most likely part of Jophan!: A Filk Musical Fable in Prologue and Three Acts.

    For awhile TAFF was selling copies but that was 8 to 9 years ago.

    According to the index at massfilc.org it was also included in Filthy Pierre’s Microfilk if anyone has a copy. Currently the only copy of Microfilk I’m seeing is running $245 which is either a misprint or just head shakingly wow.

    It looks like there was an an online PDF at one point but the linked site is gone. The site owner still has a LiveJournal site though and might be worth Rob reaching out to:



    Stumbling across a lot of fun filk resources online hunting for it in any case 🙂 For instance:


  36. @Heather Rose Jones: I had exactly that kind of experience with one of Zenna Henderson’s stories of the People; I’d have to check which one, but it was in an anthology on a shelf right next to the table spot assigned to me for a week-long special project of some kind. It was like all kinds of lights coming on at once.

  37. Darren Garrison:

    (And of course–like most things in life–there is an XKCD for it.)

    Or as AO3 user dirgewithoutmusic wrote in We Need to Talk About Susan Pevensie:

    I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

    There’s a whole series of texts about how the Pevensie children experienced life after Narnia. The one about Lucy touches on the same point as the xkcd mouseover:

    Science! They screamed, and Lucy wanted to throw the textbooks at them.

    Hypothesis! Observation! she wanted to scream back.

    I went through the wardrobe door and I found a world. I went through again to check the repeatability of my results and then I brought independent observers in to verify!

  38. I should have said yesterday (but lost the thread in some unexplainable fashion) that a good place to ask about filk would be the newsgroup rec.music.filk, which would not only be a handy place to ask, but just looking at alpha posters and going to their websites should be fruitful. Xenofilkia has an online page, for instance.

  39. All the talk about “Every Heart a Doorway” reminded me of Hagure Yuusha no Estetica a Japanese light novel series and anime that also deals with returnees from fantasy lands. Of course it is an action, fanservice story so it ends up being almost entirely different.

    Due to some dimensional quirk Earth seems to be the target for most of the summonings for heroes or whatever that happens in the multiverse. However unlike most of these stories the kids that make it back do so at full power. So you have a bunch of teenage dragon punching, Dark Lord slayers popping up at random around the world. To control this they made new schools that all returnees are required to attend to resocialize them.

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