Pixel Scroll 7/12/16 Boys! Raise Giant Pixels in your Cellar!

(1) RAMBO REPORT. “SFWA is Many Things, But Not a Gelatinous Cube” insists Cat Rambo, the organization’s President, in a 3,800 word update published halfway through her two-year term in office.

I was looking at Twitter the other day and reading through mentions of the Nebula Conference Weekend, including celebration of our new Grandmaster C.J. Cherryh, when I hit a tweet saying something along the lines of, “I hope SFWA doesn’t think this excuses the choice of picking (another author) in the past”. The way the sentence struck me got me thinking about the sort of perception that allows that particular construction.

No, SFWA, aka the organization known as The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America doesn’t think that. Because SFWA isn’t a person. It doesn’t think. Sometimes I like to imagine that SFWA. It lives in a basement somewhere and looks much like a pale green gelatinous cube, covered with lint and cat hair, and various unguessable things lurk in its murky depths, like discarded typewriter ribbons, empty Johnny Walker Black Label bottles, and that phone charging cable you lost a few weeks ago.

In actuality, SFWA — at least in the sense they’re thinking of — is an entity that changes from year to year, most notably through the leadership, but also through the overall composition of the 200+ volunteers and handful of staff that keep it running. The President makes a lot of choices for the organization; others are made for them. The President gets to pick the next Grandmaster, for example, although every living past President weighs in on the choice, as well as things like the Service to SFWA Award and the recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. ….

  • I have worked to facilitate the amazing and hard work that CFO Bud Sparhawk and comptroller Oz Drummond have been doing behind the scenes wherever I can, but I cannot take credit for any of that. Nonetheless, SFWA is moving towards a scrupulously-maintained financial state that can go beyond just sustaining itself, but can allow it to grow at a slow but steady pace. When I came on board we were highly dependent on a revenue source that is rapidly diminishing; I’m pleased to say that we are recovering from that and will not be similarly dependent in the future. I hope to replenish what was taken from the reserves within the next few years….
  • Via the efforts of volunteer wrangler Derek Künsken, volunteers are finding roles where they can use and expand existing skills, acquire new ones, and know that they are working to benefit SFWA. At the same time that we’re using more volunteers, we’re being much better about acknowledging their efforts. A few weekends ago I was at the volunteer breakfast at the Nebulas, passing out certificates of appreciation (created by Heather MacDougal) for the second year in a row, and we are making that event an integral part of our annual celebration from now on. When I came onboard, the volunteer situation was bad enough that we were losing members because of it — again, no malice, no intent to hurt people’s feelings or make them feel unvalued, only good desires and intentions that got overwhelmed due to a lack of communication and a team to back up the volunteer coordinator.
  • The SFWA Bulletin, that notoriously troubled and erratic entity, is back on schedule and rapidly proving itself capable of representing SFWA’s mission to the world at large. Editor Neil Clarke has been working to create covers and content that reflect the professional nature of the organization and which are useful to working writers. Among other things, we’ve got writers guidelines up for both it and the SFWA blog, and some members have covered their fees via a couple of blog posts or a Bulletin article. Jaym Gates, John Klima, and Tansy Rayner Roberts did the initial work of digging what seemed like a mortally-wounded Bulletin out from under a pile of criticism and ill-feeling, and deserve much praise for performing that rescue. Both Bulletin and the Blog have writers guidelines available online for what I believe is the first time….

SFWA exists for professional F&SF writers. We can talk about the mission to inform, defend, advocate for and all of that, but it boils down to this: if you are a professional genre writer, you should be able to join the organization and know that you are getting your money’s worth. Recently while researching, I counted ten ways SFWA can help a member promote their work; half of those were created in the past two years. ….

(2) WARNING. Kameron Hurley didn’t set out to write this in an especially tearjerking style. Just get your tissues ready anyway: “Drake the Dog has Passed Away”

As two people with chronic problems, my spouse and I know that you can’t always save everyone. But after dealing with the things we have in our lives, we sure as hell were going to try. Drake put up an incredible effort, and we shuffled our entire lives around his care, but Drake could never catch a break. Not once. Like so many things in life, it was wickedly unfair and cruel in the way that only life can be. You always think hey, if we can just be great caregivers, and come up with the money for the drugs and surgeries, we can save him. But the infection was stronger than us, and stronger than Drake, and it makes me incredibly angry and sad to type that, because it’s an admission that the world is bigger and scarier than we are, and sometimes when the train is moving, you can’t stop it.

(3) FIRST FANDOM NEWS. Steve Francis and Keith W. Stokes will present the Hall of Fame and Moskowitz Awards on August 18th as part of the Retro Hugo Awards

(4) POKEMON GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. The Washington Post passes on a request: “Holocaust Museum to visitors: Please stop catching Pokemon here”.

The Museum itself, along with many other landmarks, is a “PokeStop” within the game — a place where players can get free in-game items. In fact, there are actually three different PokeStops associated with various parts of the museum.

“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told The Post in an interview. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

The Holocaust Museum’s plight highlights how apps that layer a digital world on top of the real one, or so-called augmented reality games, can come with unforeseen consequences and raises questions about how much control the physical owner of a space can exert as those two worlds intersect.

(5) WILLIS DOES WALES. Connie Willis begins “Notes From Wales I: Buckland and Westmarch and Elves, Oh My!”

My family and I just got back from England, where we spent two weeks touring Cornwall and Wales. We saw Doc Martin’s village, Tintagel Castle, Dartmoor, Tintern Abbey, the shop of the Tailor of Gloucester, and lots of other fascinating things, which I hope to be writing posts about in coming weeks….

(6) BARROWMAN BRANCHING OUT. SciFiNow has big news for his fans: “John Barrowman Signs Multi-Show Deal at the CW”.

Malcolm Merlyn will pop up in all of The CW’s shows

It certainly seems as though The CW is doing its best to bring their various shows together. Now that Supergirlis officially part of the Network’s small-screen superhero universe, much of the buzz surrounding the upcoming new seasons has centred around crossovers – or the potential for them. To this end, the first seeds seem to have been sown, with John Barrowman (aka Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow) signing a multi-show deal at The CW.

Following in the footsteps of studio co-star Wentworth Miller (aka Leonard Snart/Captain Cold), the deal will in theory see him appear in CW stablemates The Flashand Legends Of Tomorrow, as well as new addition Supergirl. Quite how Barrowman will fit in remains to be seen, but we’re sure that whatever he has planned isn’t good. He has burned his bridges with pretty much every character he’s come across since debuting in Arrow’s first season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he bounces off his counterparts in other shows. We’re particularly intrigued to see an encounter with Supergirl‘s Maxwell Lord.


  • July 12, 1923 – James E. Gunn,
  • July 12, 1912 — Joseph Mugnaini

(8) SCI-FI INK. Get yer Temporary Literary Tattoos. In the sf/f department they’ve got slogans from Peter S. Beagle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and Franz Kafka.

(9) MONSTER HUNTER SEEKS COMPATIBLE DRAGON. Larry Correia is turning out the vote: “WRONGFANS UNITE! Only a week left to nominate for the Dragon Awards”. Remember, it’s not just Wrongfans who are allowed to vote – you can vote too!

This weekend I was at LibertyCon, and I ran into one of the organizers of the Dragon Awards. He said that he was kind of surprised that he hadn’t seen me talk about them online much. I told him that was because of Sad Puppies, I’m a controversial figure, there are just too many bitter harpies and poo flingers from fandom’s inbred pustulent under-choad who automatically flip out about anything I do, so I didn’t want to rock the boat for them.

But his response? Screw that. This award is for ALL FANS. And you have fans. So GO BUG THEM! We want so many people voting in this thing that no little clique or faction can sway it. The more fans involved, the better.

(10) IQ MARKET REPORT. Camestros Felapton was in another dogfight (well, Timothy wasn’t involved) with the Red Baron: “@voxday gets it wrong on IQ (again)”.

The other day Vox was disparaging about the value of scientific evidence. I’m not entirely sure if he is clear himself about what he means but when it comes to IQ he is happy to post anything that he feels supports his case.

This time, it is a pair of studies that point to a 4 point decline in IQ in France in a 9-10 year period. Vox quotes a second study that was an analysis of the first. This second study was an attempt to discern the cause of the decline by looking at the magnitude of the changes at a subtest level. This second paper concluded that the decline ‘likely has a primarily biological cause’. Vox declares it was due to immigration.

This is a very good example of studies that, while not necessarily wrong, aren’t really saying much at all. To see why you have to track back from Vox’s claim (immigrants somehow making whole countries less intelligent), to what the actual paper he quoted said, to the original paper that the second paper analysed and from there to what the actual original study was.

(11) BOKANOVSKY BLUES. Vox Day indignantly responded in “Wounded Gamma loses again”.

This behavior is so predictable that I not infrequently find myself able to correctly anticipate when a previously wounded Gamma is going to think he sees an opening and launch what I am coming to think of as a restorative rebuttal. However, I did not see this one coming; I did not think that Camestros Felapton was dumb enough to launch what is either his third or his fourth attempt to repair his delusion bubble since being so publicly humiliated about his lack of knowledge concerning rhetoric in Of Enthymemes and False Erudition. Apparently the sting of his repeated defeats at my hands has become more than he can bear, because he is really grasping at straws now.

Running out of brickbats to throw, Vox even resorted to sharing his score from an online vocabulary rating test.

Being a Phi (770) I couldn’t refuse the implicit challenge and rushed off to take the same quiz.

I got an identical score and wondered is that as high as it goes? I only had to guess once, so I either got a perfect score, or missed just one.

English Vocabulary Size

Vox Day shared notes. It seems we each missed one – the same one, in fact, both having got “avulse” wrong.

(12) MEANWHILE, BACK AT TIMOTHY THE TALKING CAT’S BLOG. Camestros followed up with “@voxday declares me beneath his consideration, again”.

“Considering that neither paper addresses the USA at all, it would be absolutely remarkable if either of them had.”

Sorry Vox but the first paper does discuss the USA – it is the second paper that doesn’t. Lynn & Dutton discuss the US saying “However, there remains the problem that phenotypic intelligence has continued to increase in recent years in the United States (Flynn, 2012, Table A11i, p.238), despite evidence for dysgenic fertility reviewed in Lynn (2011) and confirmed by Meisenberg (2014). This inconsistency remains one of a number of un- resolved problems.” and cite the gains in WISC-III and WISC-IV scores in table 1 (IQ gains in USA and Britain).

So, where the researchers find a decline it isn’t attributable to immigration because of the relatively small impact immigration could have and where immigration could have a larger impact the ‘declines’ are more ambiguous (or possibly rises).

Meanwhile, the brilliant counter-argument from Vox is him posting an estimate of his vocabulary size from a free internet quiz.

Heck yeah, who would fall for that?

(13) HORTON’S SHORT STORY RANKINGS. Rich Horton explains his ballot entries for the Hugo short story category – after pointing out only one of his real preferences made the final ballot.

So, only one story from this long list of stories I considered – less than I might have hoped. But easily explained – this is clearly the category Vox Day chose to make a mockery of. His nomination choices in the longer fiction categories (Novel, Novella, Novelette), were actually all readable stories, and some quite plausible Hugo nominees. That’s not at all the case in Short Story. And, indeed, the only good story on the list was only added after one of the original nominees withdrew.

(14) THE TRUTH WILL OUT. Adam Rakunas makes a big confession in “Writing Women Characters (Wait, Aren’t You A Dude?)” at SFFWorld.

Earlier this year at the Emerald City Comicon, I was on a panel with my fellow Angry Robot authors Peter Tieryas, Danielle Jensen, Patrick Tomlinson, and K.C. Alexander. As the panel wound down, K.C. turned to me and asked, “How do you write a realistic woman, being a male author?” I did the only sensible thing: I ducked under the table and curled up into a fetal ball.

Now, in my defense, it was the last panel of the last day of the con, and I’d been on my feet for most of that time. A question like this was one that required care and thoughtfulness, and I was in limited supply of both. If I gave any answer, I would not be doing K.C.’s question justice. Also: I am a gigantic wimp.

However, I’ve had a full night’s sleep and a bunch of tacos, so I feel comfortable and confident enough to say this: I fake it and hope I got it right.

It helps that I have a lot of kickass women in my life. I married a woman who grew up in four different countries, went overseas on her own to make her fortune, and now tells people who run companies how to act in a way that won’t make their shareholders panic (which, considering how fragile the economy is these days, is a really important job). Oh, and she also runs triathlons and skis black diamonds and scuba dives. I married an action hero, so it wasn’t too hard to write about one….

(15) EARTHSEA NEWS. From Suvudu, “Ursula K. Le Guin to Publish Two Story Collections and an Earthsea Omnibus with Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press”.

Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced today that it will publish two story collections and a special illustrated edition of the Earthsea novels with exclusive new material by legendary science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin.

Titles publishing in Fall 2016 include The Found and the Lost, a group of novellas collected for the first time; and The Unreal and the Real, a selection of short stories. A boxed set of both collections will also be available.

For the first time, the complete novels and short stories of Earthsea will be compiled in one volume titled The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. Stories will include the new, never-before-published in print Earthsea story “The Daughter of Odren,” along with the novels A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind, in addition to the stories “The Word of Unbinding” and “The Rule of Names.” This omnibus will also include a new introduction by Le Guin as well as the essay “Earthsea Revisioned.” With color and black-and-white illustrations by award-winning illustrator Charles Vess, The Books of Earthsea will publish in Fall 2018 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of A Wizard of Earthsea.

Bartimaeus sent this news with a note, “I’d like to add that ‘The Daughter of Odren’ isn’t a new story – it was e-published in 2014. Also, I’m particularly happy that they’re including all the shorts – this is the first time all 8 Earthsea shorts will be collected in one volume.” The eight stories are: “The Rule of Names” (1964), “The Word of Unbinding” (1964), the 5 shorts in Tales from Earthsea (1998 – 2001) and “The Daughter of Odren” (2014).

(16) ARITHMANCY FROM WIRED. Also courtesy of Bartimaeus: “Here’s How Fast Harry Potter’s Treasure Trap Would Kill You”.

Each item makes four copies of itself (so one item is now five). Each of these new items then also replicates making four more items. You might think this would be an awesome way to get rich, but the amount of items increases rapidly. I assume the goal is for the explosion of treasure to kill any potential robbers by drowning and crushing them.

You probably know what is going to happen next. I’m going to try to model this treasure replication trap. Yes, that’s what I will do.

The link comes with Bartimaeus’ comment – “But they seem to have forgotten that the coins burn you on touch, so you’d actually die sooner.”

[Thanks to Bartimaeus, Janice Gelb, Martin Morse Wooster, Robert Whitaker Sirignano, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]

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146 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/12/16 Boys! Raise Giant Pixels in your Cellar!

  1. BTW: My thesis was about statistical analysis and while I havent taken a vocabulary test, Im pretty sure that gives me a better grasp on the papers quoted than good ol vox.
    Francly there are many things wrong with the paper – the most obvious is the sample size, but also the conclusion is riddled with post-hoc-ergo-proper-.hocs – and Im quite surprised it got published.

  2. You know Dann, that cases of rape has declined does not mean they have disappeared. Or that people have stopped worrying about rape.

    Yes, worrying about rape is still a thing in our culture.

  3. @Cassy B

    The absolute number of rapes may or may not be going up or down; that’s largely irrelevant to the very, very powerful ingrained worry about rape.

    I can easily understand/appreciate the latter half of that argument.


  4. Dann, from your source:

    The measurement of rape and sexual assault presents many challenges. Victims may not be willing to reveal or share their experiences with an interviewer. The level and type of sexual violence reported by victims is sensitive to how items are worded, definitions used, data collection mode, and a variety of other factors related to the interview process.

    I so do not have spoons to fully read and analyze the methodology of the study atm, but I am going to repeat and emphasize that many women who have experienced sexual assault do not report for a plethora of reasons.

  5. Thirding the “if I woke up with amnesia, my first worry would be that I’d been roofied and raped.” Because it has happened to people I know.

  6. Fourthing (or maybe fifthing or more, depending on who else responds when).

    I know very few people who have been mugged, robbed or burglarized. My house isn’t big enough to hold all the people I know who have been raped. Statistics showing decreases in rape crimes are kind of irrelevant, given that reality.

    Checking to see if there were signs of sexual assault would be the first thing I did if I woke up not knowing who I was.

  7. One of the early questions gave four choices for the synonym of “deal”: sale, recoup, claim and plea. No fair: for a lawyer, two of those are correct answers.

    Yes, that one held me up for a while and led me to hope that the rest of the quiz was actually going to offer difficult choices; the others (including “avulse”) were fairly straightforward by comparison. I wonder if the scoring includes response time as well? [30325 here.]

  8. On Larry Correia touting his own book for the Dragon Award:

    Son of the Black Sword was, according to Larry Correia, first released through the Baen Ebookstore on March 23, 2015, well outside the eligibility period.

    Don’t confuse him with the facts, he knows what he knows.

    And on the IQ front, isn’t VD an immigrant?

  9. My 30325 said I “can even create new words that will expand the English dictionary.”

    “Why, so can I, or so can any fan;
    But will folks use them when you do make them up?”

    (It’s a good Pixel Scroll for Hotspur, apparently.)

    STOIC-CYNIC: “In fact, yes, why do you ask?”

    Teeter-ego really is quite fun to say, and very descriptive.

  10. Steve Simmons: I’m think that it might well be that these Awards are getting far less voters than the organisers thought they were going to get. And that may reflect that DragonCon’s known for a lot of diverse things of which those written things called nooks are, unlike the Hugo Awards, just a minor aspect.

    I’ve read genre blurbs for decades now. Only three Awards get regular coverage in the books or in publicity mailings — the Hugos, the Nebulas and the WFA Awards. That’s it save the horror genre which includes the usual suspects for them.

    Organisations that are not genre friendly generally just get left out. Do I expect the Dragon Awards to be any different? No.

  11. @ Cheryl S.

    I know very few people who have been mugged, robbed or burglarized.

    Wow. I’m jealous. I’ve been mugged/robbed once and burglarized…let’s see…at least six times. (I’m just counting home break-ins here. The practice studio was a whole different ball of wax.) I don’t know many fellow muggees, but I know a lot of burglary victims.

  12. Regardless of the absolute number of rapes and what direction it’s going, if you’re a woman waking up in a strange place with no memory of who you are or what’s happened to you, the probability that you’ve been raped is automatically a hell of a lot higher than it is for women overall. (Or for a man waking up in that situation, though it certainly could happen.)

  13. Checking to see if there were signs of sexual assault would be the first thing I did if I woke up not knowing who I was.

    Which might require inspecting one’s naked body. But I gather the book referred to does not approach that scene that way.

  14. I got 30325 on the vocab size thingy. I take it you have to go through a “manual” process – i.e. google/dictionary – to determine the ones you got wrong?. FWIW, I knew the “avulse” one, and figure that I failed to spot the change between synonyms and antonyms on at least one occasion.

    Given that the highest I’ve seen reported is 30500, that means I got at least one wrong, and VD’s (and our illustrious host’s) score of 30150 certainly means more than one wrong. Unless there is a variable score per word. Who knows, stoopid quiz 😉

  15. With regards to what the vocabulary size test is measuring, different vocabulary size tests tend to be incommensurate. I suspect that the one under consideration produces a relatively low figure, and may be counting root words.

    I also suspect that such tests don’t capture ones knowledge of the specialised vocabularies of particular fields, such as chemistry. (E.g. 30+ words related to sulfur, its allotropes, its cations and its anions, but not counting the radicals thionyl and sulfuryl, which I didn’t recall. Rather more if you add all the various alkylsulfonium, arylsulfonium and acylsulfonium cations, and alkylsulflonate, arylsulfonate and acylsulfonate anions. Even xenon has have a dozen words relating to its chemistry. But sodium only has sodium and natride.)

  16. stewart on July 13, 2016 at 4:47 pm said:
    out of curiosity, what do the ‘aryl’ and ‘acyl’ prefixes mean in chemistry? (I know enough to get ‘alkyl’. I’d rather not have to drag the CRC handbook down from the top shelf.)

  17. out of curiosity, what do the ‘aryl’ and ‘acyl’ prefixes mean in chemistry? (I know enough to get ‘alkyl’. I’d rather not have to drag the CRC handbook down from the top shelf.)

    As you know, an alkyl group is a hydrocarbon moiety with formula CnH2n+1. An aryl group is a hydrocarbon moiety including a benzene ring, as in e.g. phenylsulfonium. An acyl group is a oxohydrocarbon moiety formed by removing the acid hydrogen from a hydrocarbon acid, as in e.g. acetylsulfonium. You can add alkenyl, alkynyl and alkoxy to the mix – I wasn’t sure whether alkenylsulfonium and alkynylsulfonium would be attested forms, but Google does find some occurrences. (I needed a bit of help from Google to find the spelling of alkoxysulfonium.) There might be more generalised definitions than the ones I’ve given, e.g. including the corresponding perfluorosulfonium cations.

  18. Broken Record:

    involvement in the Dragon Awards does not necessarily mean leaving the Hugo Awards alone.

    In fact, the plan is pretty transparently destroy the Hugos and elevate an alternative that he “controls”.

    Of course, the big joke is that VD thinks he is involved with some kind of zero sum game (Xanatos Gambit and all), when he is in fact playing in an arena that hosts “No Sum” games, or, better yet, fans have long evolved past the point of the need to Pass Go to Collect $200.00. Success, victory, winning etc., are not measured in points, dollars; there are no “victory conditions”.

    VD’s “game” (talk about XGs) can only cause one person to “lose”, and that’s him.

  19. stewart on July 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm said:
    possibly more detail than I needed, but I follow you. (General chemistry was 40 years ago.)

  20. Cat Eldridge wrote:

    I’ve read genre blurbs for decades now. Only three Awards get regular coverage in the books or in publicity mailings — the Hugos, the Nebulas and the WFA Awards.

    We’re pretty much on the same page, as those are the only three genre awards I really notice.

    For some time I’ve wondered if Our ’umble ’ost puts up all these news posts about mostly-unknown awards as a way of reminding us how little most awards really mean. The Dragons will probably prove to be equally irrelevant.

  21. To be pedantic regarding “The Rook,” the protagonist does not wake up in a strange place with amnesia. Rather, she becomes self aware/conscious while standing in a park, in the rain, reading a letter that explains who she is*, and surrounded by dead bodies. I’m not sure how the average person would interpret that but her first guess might not be that she had been roofied.

    *the letter is from herself.

  22. nickp: To be pedantic regarding “The Rook,” the protagonist does not wake up in a strange place with amnesia. Rather, she becomes self aware/conscious while standing in a park, in the rain, reading a letter that explains who she is, and surrounded by dead bodies. I’m not sure how the average person would interpret that but her first guess might not be that she had been roofied.

    I’ve just read the Wikipedia synopsis and the first chapter of the book. The letter from the main character’s pre-amnesia self refers to her as if she was another person transplanted into her body. But as far as I can tell, that’s not what actually happened; there hasn’t been any transplanting, what happened is that she lost her memories.

    I find that a rather contrived conceit for a plot.

  23. jj: the pre-amnesia personality thinks of the post-amnesia personality as a new person (she knows in advance that the memory loss is going to happen, but doesn’t know how), and the post-amnesia personality is significantly different, perhaps due to loss of the memory of certain traumas. Whether you find that more or less plausible than the character who has multiple bodies or the one who exudes psychoactive gases, I couldn’t say.

    In any case, I found the book to be funny and entertaining and was happy to buy the recent sequel. But chacun à son goût and all that.

  24. I was familiar with avulsion as in medical terminology for injury mechanics (such as getting one’s ring caught on something that proceeds to remove their finger) because I have a little bit of background in disgusting gory forensics, but I had to Google it to learn it had a legal meaning involving land suddenly divided by flooding. I think I passed on that one because I conflated bleeding with flooding, but I did miss two words from the test (and the fact that I did is still vexing me 24 hours later).

  25. 1). “I hope SFWA doesn’t think this excuses the choice of picking (another author) in the past”

    So I even want to know which author they were talking about? I mean, I can guess, but…

    9). “Look Larry, you need to get your friends together before we give you the award. We’ll need at least three or four people online who’ll say they voted for you.”

  26. Critic with unjustified sense of entitlement: I hope SFWA doesn’t think this excuses the choice of picking (another author) in the past

    Rose Embolism: So I even want to know which author they were talking about? I mean, I can guess, but…

    I can guess, too. What I want to know is why the unnamed critic thinks that their own opinion of who SFWA as an organization selected for SFWA’s Grand Master Award is even relevant, much less why SFWA would have any need to make excuses to them about SFWA’s choice.

    I mean, you don’t see me demanding that the Libertarian Futurist Society give me an explanation for the anti-libertarian Seveneves winning the Prometheus Award, and you don’t see me demanding that they revoke that award — even though I think their decision was totally whacked, based on the description of the purpose of the award.

    But then, that’s because I don’t have an unjustified sense of entitlement to the right to demand that somebody else’s awards reflect my personal choices.

  27. @John A Arkansawyer –

    I’ve been mugged/robbed once and burglarized…let’s see…at least six times. (I’m just counting home break-ins here. The practice studio was a whole different ball of wax.) I don’t know many fellow muggees, but I know a lot of burglary victims.

    That sounds dreadful. I’m so sorry. I do wonder if there are regional differences in types of property crimes (burglary, I mean, not muggings). The last place I lived had very few burglaries and almost no armed robbery, but a really high level of car break ins.

  28. 30325 – I got avulse wrong. 30500 is the highest possible score.

    How do I know? Read the Source, Luke! (The list of words and expected answers is around line 224 of the page source.)

  29. @Tasha
    The only magical-induced amnesia male character I remember is Corwyn, and I’m not able to tell you how he self-examines without rereading the book. I tend to go with Greg Hullender’s opinion anyway 🙂

    Then, did you read the part ? She does “not stare at her boobs”. She looks at herself, from up to down, at least that’s how I’m reading it.. We can even argue that she only looked at her pubes because the second phrase of the book is her former self telling her “The scar on the inner left thigh is there because i fell of a tree [..] at the age of nine” and she wanted to check : in fact – it’s even written like that “She remembered something from the letter and ..”
    There’s two paragraphs of self-examination, including two words about breasts, and six (including a & and) about pubes. And it’s not sexy at all.
    As for the pushback I’m getting, to each its own, and most of it is based on – I think – a (sincere, that’s not the point) misunderstanding of how it’s narrated.
    I’m only worried that people are misjudging (meaning “not seeing a real flaw”) a book I loved, and that I did not help it seems.

  30. I like the Prometheus awards. I may not ascribe to all them LIbertarian ideals, but they regularly pick books that I enjoy reading. I particularly liked the Unincorporated Man by the Kollins brothers.

  31. I understand, now, that the scenario in the book is not a plausible post-roofie scenario. I was pushing back against Dann’s comment.

    And I confess if I had amnesia and was not overwhelmed with other concerns such as massive injuries or staying alive, I would be curious about whether or not I was conventionally attractive. But I would not be particularly fascinated by my own breasts, I think, even if I couldn’t remember seeing them before — not that I am saying the character in The Rook is. Haven’t read it.

  32. @Guillaume
    A book can make something seem sensible and normal. Especially if you aren’t of the race/gender/minority being written about. The book may be great. The scene your describing may not be as problematic as it sounds. But…

    My husband and I used to read many of the same books. He’d read first, rave about them, I’d read, and rant back about all the sexist/racists/ableist/abusive/rape culture crap with mediocre writing he’d just made me read. My typical white, straight, middle class, software engineer husband literally didn’t see the problematic stuff and while he’s better now most still goes over his head as he’s grooving his way through the book. I’m a sexual abuse survivor (since 3), always had health problems (3 months), always had friends from other races/ethnicities/religions/around the world/etc. (baby), so microaggressions (off-color comments/jokes/subtle treatment of “other”), rape, abuse, slavery as normal, PoC/disabled/women invisible or without agency, and the male gaze (or male glaze as I think of it) pull me out of the story. Now most of our shared reading is either books we pick out beforehand or books I recommend to him. If he recommends a book I go out and read 1-3 star reviews to see what cons and trigger warnings are mentioned before reading the books and then I make an informed decision.

    Most of what you notice/don’t notice in books/movies/games and the real world is based on your own experiences. It’s not a criticism it’s how brains work so we aren’t having breakdowns from overloads of information needing interpretation. Empathy can be learned by listening to people’s real life experiences but even then noticing problematic stuff in real life and media takes time and practice.

    How many scars do I need to document for my future amnesiac self for her to believe she’s me? If I were writing a male character would I put the scars in those same places? Would I put scars so high on his inner thigh he’d see or possibly have to move his penis to see them? If the answer is no I wouldn’t write this way for a male character than a writer should ask why they are writing this way for a female character. In context the way the story is written it seems natural to you but as a woman I have to ask: would the author have had a guy check over his body in the same way – would he have included a penis in the scene – would he have put scars in similar places so casual focus would be on the penis a couple of times? I’m betting the answer is no based on the number of amnesiac stories I’ve read/watched where a guy does a penis check is 0% according to my hit by a truck memory while in the ones with women I’ve read/watched do the boob glance/stare in over 90%.

    The scene doesn’t live by itself in one book. It’s part of a larger issue of these scenes in many books and other media and how women are seen and treated in our society.

  33. @ Cheryl S: I got mugged in Alva, Oklahoma, way back in 1975. The burglaries were all here in Arkansas, split evenly between Little Rock and Fayetteville/Springdale. I maybe should say five or seven burglaries, since five were of my actual living area at the time, while there was a break-in at my parents’ old house of which I had custody.

    I discovered this month when we went up to start cleaning it out–it’s hard when your mom isn’t dead but won’t be coming back–that either someone had come back for a second helping or someone else had spotted it, whereupon all the comics and records and stereo equipment left the first time were taken.

    So six, give or take one, over the last forty years. It could be worse. And looking back, I’m actually more ticked at how the sheriff treated me after I’d been mugged than I am at the muggers themselves. They were just guys, whereas he should be held to a higher standard.

  34. @Darren Garrison – Ohhh a bell curve, thank you. It’s amazing how what should be a recognizable shape becomes unrecognizable without other important info that normally comes along with it.

    @Hypnotosov I guess they take the most difficult word you got right and guesstimate a numer based on that. Or maybe they´ve given each word a score (ie. if you know avulse you probably know ~500 similar words, so it adds 500 to your score).

    Ohhh I see, thank you. I actually don’t know what avulse means, I guessed :X I am fairly good at guessing in multiple choice question tests, whatever that means lol But was there a section telling you which words you got right or wrong? Another thing I missed :X

    @Mike Glyer – Tasha Turner: If there was ever a circumstance tailored to be called the male gaze, that is it.

    Nicely summed up, brother.

  35. @Tasha
    I’m the first to recognize I’m full of blind spots, due to inherent (inherited ?) privileges. I’m sure I also have blind spots about my blind spots.
    But.. I’m talking about a specific book by a specific author, written at a specific time (that could be important). How can you be so sure that this author would not have written in 2012 “beginning man-boobs [..] Medium, hairy penis” ?
    You know nothing about him (me neither), you have not read his book, or even the relevant passages, why should this particular person be automatically guilty ? Can men not write about woman ? (Then, on the other hand, I refuse to play women in tabletop rpg, because I’m sure I can’t play them “correctly” (without expressing prejudice, cliche, and so on ) – I’d rather play an elf.. I think I would be wary about writing a woman protagonist too)
    There’s a passage about (another) protagonist’s breast in the next book which I just read :

    “I’m not room service,” said Felicity curtly, somewhat irritated by the way his gaze has paused on her breasts.

    It’s about male gaze, and also automatic dismissal of woman as servant. Is it better ?
    (BTW, I have no idea how Felicity’s breasts are – the only other mention I remember is that at one moment, she’s getting in armor, and :

    A breastplate, one that made no attempt to acknowledge her gender. She thoughtfully brushed her fingertips over the marks that scarred it. It was festooned with little chips and divot, and a splashy stain was etched in the surface.


  36. @Guillaume
    You are really invested in defending this authors particular scene. You’ve ignored the parts of my post which address the context as part of a bigger issue in all books about amnesia.

    The rest of the book may be fantastic. But I’m 90% certain the scene you’ve described would have me wanting to throw my kindle at the wall for all the reasons I elaborate above including as I said men don’t write male amnesiacs looking at their penis at all which makes this a male gaze issue IMHO as a real life woman.

    I see no reason to continue this discussion. Since my experience with short-term amnesia and reading a number of books on concussions and amnesia I find reading fictional accounts to be aggravating in their lack of reality and they sometimes trigger my PTSD as well as anger for straight white male authors. I doubt I’ll read the book as nothing else I’ve heard has me intrigued enough to chance a week or more of PTSD, nightmares, and anger.

    I hope you have a great weekend.

  37. @Guillaume @all
    I may be overreacting. This feels like so many conversations I find myself in or listen/see happening but it’s possible I’m wrong:

    1. Guy: description of section in book
    2. Me/other minorities: Ugh I hate that trope(s)
    3. Guy: no, no this isn’t really that trope it makes sense and doesn’t x, y, z
    4. Me/others: yeah really it is and here’s why
    5. Guy: have you actually read the book? If not your wrong
    6. Me/other minorities: we’ve read 100s of books like it – have you ever read a book gender or race swapped with that thing
    7. Guy: seriously if you read it you’d see your wrong

    I used to go off and read the books because maybe I was wrong.
    Percentage of times I was right: 99%+
    Percentage of times I was wrong: -1%

    Damage done to my mental and emotional state: High
    Satisfaction at being right: meh
    Time wasted: hundreds of hours

    Frustration with men not listening to minorities/women’s lived experience and things we notice because of our experience: High but it does help with my implicit association test scores at https://implicit.harvard.edu/ which is cool because it’s hard to change your biases @_@

  38. @Tasha
    The initial query was about this scene in this specific book, and the commenter was asking from opinions from people having read the book. Most (if not all) of the negative comments were from people having not read the book, nor the passage (which is easily readable on Amazon, without a lot of time investment).
    And I have problem with that, compounded because I love this book , and I’m a bit over sensitive about unfair (meaning based on misperception, misunderstanding, or no knowlege of facts) judgment ( because it happens to me a lot – which is mostly my fault for not being clear enough)
    Maybe in fine you’re right, and O’Malley is just another man writing cardboard women. I have blind spots. But condemning by default and without knowledge (wether it’s the book, or opinions expressed by the author elsewhere) is also a blind spot IMHO.
    As for amnesia : as I said, I’m not speaking about or defending any other amnesia scene, and since it’s a magic-induced amnesia, I tend to think it can be everything the author wants it to be – which is a total copout I agree.
    Have a nice weekend !

  39. Pingback: Top 10 Posts For July 2016 | File 770

  40. A top post for July & partly my fault woot. I wonder if I can make it a top post in August? @_@

    I downloaded and read a sample of the book. Unsurprisingly it was exactly the male gaze scene as originally described by @Guillaume.

    Googling male gaze will lead one to many good articles on the topic if one is interested in educating themselves.

    Kate Elliott writes about the omniscient breast which you may still be able to find online. The site it’s on is going permanently offline shortly I believe. The article can also be found in “Speculative Fiction 2012: a non fiction collection” and “The Very Best of Kate Elliott”. While it doesn’t directly address the mirror scene in The Rook it does talk about male gaze and what can happen when someone reads a book not written from the male gaze.

    Now my point-by-point response

    Guillaume: The initial query was about this scene in this specific book, and the commenter was asking from opinions from people having read the book. Most (if not all) of the negative comments were from people having not read the book, nor the passage (which is easily readable on Amazon, without a lot of time investment).?And I have problem with that, compounded because I love this book , and I’m a bit over sensitive about unfair (meaning based on misperception, misunderstanding, or no knowlege of facts) judgment ( because it happens to me a lot – which is mostly my fault for not being clear enough)

    Me A couple comments:
    1. No book is perfect. Recognizing a book has a problematic trope, stereotypes, or requires trigger warnings is literary criticism and part of discussing books. Here on File 770 these topics come up frequently – no book is safe none as no book is perfect – we all have our biases and authors find themselves falling back on tropes they hate because they are such a normal part of the genre they write in.

    2. You think it’s just a little bit of time but as I mentioned in my previous comment if I went and read every “short bit” some guy thinks is truly different I’d never get to read anything just for me and I’d end up aggravated as I would yet again find out I had perfectly understood based on their sample what was written and yes it is the friggin trope/stereotype/rape scene as I thought and now I’ve wasted time, been harmed mentally and emotionally, and chances are the guy is still not going to listen to me when I yet again explain why the scene fits. As is this case where I’ve now read it and it fits. Below are direct quotes and my comments.

    Page 1 – letter to future self:

    “The scar on my inner left thigh is there because I fell out of a tree and impaled my leg at the age of nine.”

    Next part in book a Quote which is literally the trope and male gaze:

    “She opened the robe and looked critically at her body.
    Lots of adjectives beginning with the letter S are appropriate here, she thought grimly. Short. Scrawny. Small breasts. Skinned knees… She felt along the inside of her left thigh. A small hard scar… Shaved legs. A conservative and recent bikini wax… Not possessed of an especially sexy body.”

    Me I can think of no reason why a woman knowing her life is in danger, lost memory, is checking for shaved legs or a bikini wax. If she’d been a model or actress maybe. But not for the character she is and not something anyone I’ve met or read about with amnesia does. Thinking about a sexy body at this point makes no logical or emotional sense to me.

    Checking out bruises yes. Freaking out about not knowing who you are yes. In my case, I’ve confirmed with my husband and mother, freaking out about the accident I can’t remember oh yeah.

    Total male thinking/gaze to think a woman would be thinking about breast, shaved legs, bikini wax, how sexy they look, in the midst of a major deadly crisis with memory loss.

    This doesn’t make The Rook worst book ever or even a bad book. I can’t comment as I only read the section relevant to the discussion and everyone has different taste.

    I have favorite books and authors who have problematic stuff in their books. Favorite comfort read regency author Georgette Heyer has anti-semitism and racism among other problems in her books. One of my favorite Urban Fantasy series, Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter, has my biggest trigger issue – rape in I believe every book in the series used in my least favorite way – to prove how bad/evil the villain is and to add reason for Jane/protagonist to really want to get the villain – absolute worst use of rape as the rapee has no agency and we don’t see anything from their perspective. I could go on but I hope you get the point I’m making. It’s ok to love books which have problems. But accept the problems.

    ?You: Maybe in fine you’re right, and O’Malley is just another man writing cardboard women. I have blind spots.
    Me:I never said anything about the woman being cardboard. I said she is seen through male eyes. Those are very, very different things.

    You: But condemning by default and without knowledge (wether it’s the book, or opinions expressed by the author elsewhere) is also a blind spot IMHO.
    Me: Noticing a trope is not condemning something. It’s pointing out a problematic theme. Ignoring 100s if not 1000s of book reading experience is insulting – a trope is a thing because so many authors/movies/TV shows use it – it’s easy to identify from a description. By the time I was 12 I was reading 150-200 books a year. I’m now 49. I read many genre. I’m a woman. I’ve read up on how other women view scenes like this.

    ?You: As for amnesia : as I said, I’m not speaking about or defending any other amnesia scene, and since it’s a magic-induced amnesia, I tend to think it can be everything the author wants it to be – which is a total copout I agree.?
    Me: Copout yeah big time. Nothing I read in the sample indicated this amnesia would make using the male gaze for the scene make more sense because magic system in the book. LOL no gold star, go directly to to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200, grab suggested reading material, think about why you can’t accept that most women don’t look at their breast, legs, bikini area unless getting ready for a date/sex. 😉 /end

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