Pixel Scroll 7/19/17 By The Pixel Of Grayscroll!

(1) WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. Adam-Troy Castro links to his post “This Community We Love is Infested With Toxic Spoiled Brats” with this comment: “The object of a fandom you don’t care about is not a deadly infection to be wiped out on general principle. Fandoms can cross-pollinate. Interests can cross-pollinate.The things you ‘don’t give a shit about’ are not invaders you need to exterminate. Most to the point, you can get through your day without being a dick.”

Ed Sheeran, who is a fan of Game of Thrones, who got cast because he openly begged the producers to give him a bit part and had a nice little scene written for him, a scene that added texture to the story and even you hated it took up only three minutes of your life, has had to shut down his twitter feed because Game of Thrones fans have invaded in force, showering him with abuse because they are irate that the focus of another fandom has invaded theirs. They accuse him of ruining the show and stress that they don’t give a shit about his music, which sucks anyway.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

This community we love is infested with toxic, spoiled brats.

(2) CLARKE ALLEGATIONS. Jason Sanford and Paul Cornell are among those tweeting a link to Vice’s article “We Asked People What Childhood Moment Shaped Them the Most” which contains a first-hand account of abuse by an unnamed science fiction writer in Sri Lanka who they (logically) identify as Clarke.

The teller of the story, Peter Troyer, today is a performer with Tinder Tales in Toronto. His section of the Vice article begins —

Peter Troyer

I grew up in Sri Lanka. My dad was doing some work for the Canadian government. There were a lot of expat kids in my area and we had free reign of the neighbourhood. Our parents mostly let us do what we wanted, but we were told to stay away—never go near—a large property that bordered my house. When we asked why the reasons were always vague.

There were some rumors that someone very famous or maybe powerful lived there. We all got the sense that he was …a danger in some way. One day I was home sick from school. My grandfather was visiting from Canada and he was assigned to watch me. I remember that I was in pajamas. We were in the backyard and my grandfather was painting peacocks. Out of our hedges this man appeared and approached us. I instantly knew it was the man from the property. …

(3) TWO OR MORE. Andrew Neil Gray and J.S. Herbison include several “dream teams” among the authors of “Five SFF Books Written Collaboratively”, discussed at Tor.com.

The Difference Engine by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson

What happens when two masters of the cyberpunk genre put their heads together? Surprisingly, not more cyberpunk. Instead, what emerged was this unusual novel that posited an alternate version of Victorian England. Here, experiments by Charles Babbage resulted in a successful early mechanical computer and a very different industrial revolution. Starring airships, spies, courtesans and even Ada Lovelace, the dense and complex story revolves around the search for a set of powerful computer punch cards.

Sound familiar? Not surprising: this collaboration helped bring the relatively obscure steampunk genre to wider popular notice and launched a thousand steam-powered airships and clockwork monsters.

(4) WHO KNEW? Apparently “ruining” Doctor Who is actually part of the show’s long and respected tradition. Steve J.  Wright explains in “Writ in Water, not Set in Stone: Doctor Who backstory”.

…Then William Hartnell became too infirm to continue with the series, and the big change happened, at the end of “The Tenth Planet”.  An exhausted First Doctor is found lying on the floor of the TARDIS, and when his companions flip him over onto his back (instead of sensibly leaving him in the recovery position), the TARDIS dematerialization SFX plays, and the Doctor’s face seems to brighten and glow… and the screen whites out, and instead of William Hartnell, there’s Patrick Troughton.

The regeneration is not really explained, at this point.  “It’s part of the TARDIS; without it, I couldn’t go on.”  The first Doctor’s ring with the blue stone no longer fits; is it some sort of prop that the Doctor no longer needs?  The Doctor initially appears confused and disoriented, but when he’s settled down, it’s apparent that this is not just a younger version, this is a whole different personality – more impish, more madcap, but also capable of great passion and commitment; the Second Doctor throws himself into situations with much more zeal and energy than the austere First.

He also becomes more obviously different.…

(5) CENTS AND SENSIBILITY. Don’t tell John C. Wright — “Author Jane Austen featured on new British 10-pound note”.

Two hundred years to the day after Jane Austen died, a new 10-pound note featuring an image of one of England’s most revered authors has been unveiled – right where she was buried.

At the unveiling Tuesday of the new “tenner” at Winchester Cathedral in southern England, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the new note celebrates the “universal appeal” of Austen’s work.

Austen, whose novels include “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma” and “Sense and Sensibility,” is considered one of the most perceptive chroniclers of English country life and mores in the Georgian era. Combining wit, romance and social commentary, her books have been adapted countless times for television and film.

The new note, which is due to go into circulation on Sept. 14, is printed on polymer, not paper.

(6) SHADOW CLARKE PROCEEDINGS. Mark-kitteh sent these links with a note, “The essay by Kincaid (the second one) asks some genuinely interesting questions about the purpose of awards and the meaning of ‘best’, although he does feel the need to end it with the now-traditional bashing of Becky Chambers.”

Of all the novels on my personal Shadow Clarke shortlist, Martin MacInnes’s Infinite Ground was the one I anticipated having most difficulty in writing about, partly because of its incredibly complex structure, but mostly because I wasn’t at all sure I actually had a critical language I could bring to bear on it in a way that might make sense to a reader. Back when I was compiling my personal shortlist of Shadow Clarke books, ploughing through the opening sections of each title on the submissions list, of all of the eighty-odd titles this was the one that felt ‘right’ to me. That is, this is the one that immediately held my attention, the one I would have sat down and read cover to cover right there and then if I had not had to send away for a copy.

I have been associated with science fiction awards ever since I was approached to administer the Hugo Awards for the 1987 Worldcon. In the years since then I have won and lost awards, I have administered them, judged them, handed them out, written about them, and even (in the case of the Clarke Award) helped to create them. Now, another first, I have taken part in a shadow jury. And the result of all that: I probably know less now about the purpose and function and value of awards than I ever did.

Well that’s not quite true. There are some awards, like the Tiptree which I helped to judge in 2009, that have a very specific remit: in the case of the Tiptree it is the exploration of issues of gender. I find it instructive that the Tiptree Award often identifies novels and stories that I, personally, consider to be among the best in the year; but choosing the best, as such, is not what the Tiptree Award is about.

For the vast majority of awards, however, that one word, “best”, explains all and explains nothing. “Best” is the prison cell that most awards have entered knowingly and from which they cannot escape.

In terms of a reading experience, the past six months has been unusual, to say the least. Between the publication of the Clarke submissions list in mid February, and the imminent announcement of the winner in late July, I have read and reviewed not only the titles on my personal shortlist and the official Clarke shortlist, but also as many of other Sharkes’ personal choices and interesting outliers as time has allowed. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed so much science fiction in a single stretch – a chastening experience in and of itself – and I have learned plenty along the way, not least how misguided some of my own initial choices turned out to be, how much we all – as readers, writers and critics – tend to fall back on untested assumptions. I have learned more than a little about the difficulties and compromises involved in serving on an award jury, how every argument provides a counter-argument, how every book selected will point to three that are lost, how it is impossible to arrive at a meaningful decision without reading or at least sampling every submission.

Most of all, I have been reminded of how multifarious and diverse is the art of criticism. When it comes to assessing works of literature, there is no universal standard for excellence, no unified ideological approach, no such thing as objectivity. We each come to the process heavily laden with baggage, some of which we cannot set aside because it is enshrined in who we are and where we come from, some of which we cling to out of habit. Part of our job as critics lies not so much in relinquishing our baggage but in acknowledging that it exists.

(7) THE EARLY NERD GETS THE WORM. Wil Wheaton is interviewed by Kevin Smith on a piece in IMDB called “How Wil Wheaton’s Star Trek Fandom Impacted The Next Generation”.  Wheaton, interviewed by Kevin Smith, talks about how he was a Star Trek nerd on the set of TNG and was ready to answer Trek questions on the set if cast members didn’t know what was going on.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, Adam-Troy Castro, ULTRAGOTHA, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

137 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/19/17 By The Pixel Of Grayscroll!

  1. John A. Arkensawyer re 4), a possible counterexample: Frederick Douglass wrote several autobiographies.

  2. Is Ed Sheeran popular with teenage girls? Because that’s usually a reliable correlation with disproportionate responses to otherwise inoffensive entertainers.

  3. @Nigel Not really, no. More the general disdain for the type of music that’s played at suburban middle class dinner parties… You know, like Coldplay and Dire Straits and…

  4. Patrick Troughton, I know of him. I have a couple of DVDs with him and his persistent scowl and bad wig. Well, that’s what I thought it was.

    I saw a few of the Dr Who shows when PBS ran a few of them to see if they could be used to induce a niche audience. But 40 years is a bit of time to recall some specifics for a show that I thought ran too slow. There were Zarbies. I wonder if the shows I saw still exist.

  5. (1) When it comes to toxic spoiled brats, I’d argue that the problem really is much worse outside of fandom. It’s much harder to mundania than it is to leave fandom, and right now at least the president of the USA is a toxic spoiled brat.

    (2) Given that first-hand account, I don’t think you can split the difference between Marion Zimmer Bradley and Arthur C Clarke when it comes to nastiness.

    (5) Austen is topical too!

  6. 2) I heard the rumors years ago, not connected to Clarke’s knighthood, which happened much later. But that was a time when it wasn’t just regressives who insisted homosexuality and child molestation were pretty much the same thing and without a credible source for the rumors, I’m not surprised the whole thing was discounted.

    4) WHO KNEW? – I watched maybe a half dozen Tom Baker episodes and decided that it, like Hitchhiker’s Guide and Monty Python, was just something I’d never understand and never thought much more about Doctor Who. However, thanks to this, I have some sense of why there is such a fervent fandom for the show.

    1) Oh, look, another instance where I want to send a bunch of chronologically adult persons to their rooms until they can behave in a civilized fashion. If superpowers ever get handed out, I’ll take the one that removes internet privileges.

    In 7843, that still hasn’t happened.

  7. @Robert Reynolds / @Arwel Perry: there was a Pixel some months ago about a lab that decided to see just how indestructible the UKP5 note actually was.

    I heard about Jordin last night. He was an interesting and genuinely nice person I’d known for over 40 years, although we rarely saw each other due to geography; all sympathies to Mary Kay.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about Jordin – I remember him from my days as a mostly-lurker at Making Light. May his family be comforted.

  9. 1) My husband and I both thought the singing was lovely. We therefore agreed it was probably another musician cameo (as they’ve had a few). Then we enjoyed the rest of the scene without finding the cameo distracting at all.

    4) Who knew, indeed! Fascinating read.

    6) Having my head down with Hugo reading, I’m glad I was unaware of the Becky Chambers bashing. Silly me thought it was excellent and ranked it #1. (Look forward to finally getting to her first book now.)

    Best is always subjective. Someone’s example of horrid writing is someone else’s idea of brave and experimental. Best in terms of awards means the one that the deciding body was aware of that was disagreed on the least.

  10. Three Scottish banks retain the right to print their own banknotes and so we won’t see the Jane Austin tenner that often.

    We’ll have to make do with the Royal Bank of Scotland’s £10 with scientist Mary Sommerville. Along with novelist and poet Nan Shepherd on their £5.

    Bank of Scotland have stuck with Walter Scott on both and the Clydesdale have gone with Robert Burns (someone had to) and bridge builder Sir William Arrol. So plenty to go around.

    ETA Bah forgot to check the time machine date!

  11. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano: the Zarbi came from “The Web Planet”, which kind of illustrates some of the features of early Doctor Who – in many ways, it was incredibly ambitious, attempting far more than it could manage, given a) existing technology and b) its budget. “The Web Planet” is set on an alien world with alien landscapes; it includes no human characters except the main cast, and it tries very hard to make the aliens really alien – the Menoptra (the good guys, basically, as opposed to the Zarbi) are sort of butterfly people, with a peculiar alien diction accompanied by carefully choreographed insectile gestures (choreographer Roslyn de Winter actually has a bit part in another series, “The Chase”.) One of the dramatic high points of the serial is an abortive invasion, a sort of Dieppe raid, with an army of Menoptra fighting and losing to a horde of Zarbi.

    It’d be a hugely ambitious project to try to pull off today, with modern budgets and SFX. For the BBC to try it in the mid-60s… well, of course it’s something of a failure. But, my goodness, you have to admire their nerve in trying!

    The odds are that anything you saw on PBS still exists – it’s the stuff that didn’t make it to a wider overseas distribution that tends to have been wiped. The Patrick Troughton years, unfortunately, were the worst hit by the archive purges, though bits and pieces still do turn up on occasion. (If you’ve got any interest in British TV of the 60s and 70s, the chances are good that you’ve seen Patrick Troughton on more than one occasion – he was a very versatile character actor, and he turns up in a lot of different stuff. I could make a case, actually, for Troughton to be the best actor to play the role of the Doctor in the show’s history – and yes, I know all about David Tennant’s well-deserved critical plaudits; I’d still rate Troughton – slightly – better.)

  12. To add to Lauras comment : its not only subjective I think its not even necessarily transitive. I am not entirely sure if I would rank my favorite books from last year differently today then I did right adter reading them.
    One problem is that sometimes the writing or the pacing is so good, that you overlook blatand flaws and sometimes you can admire a novel, without liking it. That makes ranking them coherently nearly impossible.

    Sitting on the scroll of the Ray
    …in the year 2525

  13. BTW I think it was Hampus who recommended “Nobody likes a goblin” by Ben Hatke. Well, its still the favorite of my youngrst, together with another Hatke “Julias house of lost creatures”. My eldest just finished Zita the spacegirl for the second time in three days, so yeah, thanks for the recommendation, Hampus!

  14. @Peer

    Yes, I’m sure that reading half of the Hugo Best Novel Finalists before they were announced as Finalists and half after made a difference in how I ranked them. Also, since I’m not a pro reviewer or award jurist and don’t have to really justify my choice to anyone but myself, my “best” is probably quite biased toward enjoyment. Although I do enjoy challenge so I feel this is balanced somewhat.

  15. (If you’ve got any interest in British TV of the 60s and 70s, the chances are good that you’ve seen Patrick Troughton on more than one occasion – he was a very versatile character actor, and he turns up in a lot of different stuff.

    In things that Troughton was in that Americans may have seen: He played the part of Melanthius in the 1977 Ray Harryhausen movie Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

  16. Completely off-topic… is there a protocol for contacting a Filer (whose info you don’t know) privately? I can search by handle and find likely candidates to contact, but that’s not certain and could seem stalkerish.

  17. I suppose the easiest would be to contact Mike and he will do the contacting. Easy for you, work for Mike though.

    The more public people here probably dont mind if you google them though (more public = are transparent that they do something public)

  18. I’d probably just use a recent thread to ask the person I wanted to contact whether they have a preferred method. That only works for people who are currently active, of course.

  19. @ Aaron
    troughton also played Clement Atlee in Edward and Mrs Simpson, not a big role but he was excellent.

    @ Steve Wright
    I agree about Troughton. I’ve seen a lot more of his son David, who’s one of the best Shakespearean actors going.
    And thanks for the shoutout to Keats in your post title!

  20. Patrick Troughton was Father Brennan the priest that got impaled on a piece of church architecture in The Omen. That may be his best known role for most americans unfamiliar with Dr Who.

    (2) The part that really gets me with Troyer’s story is the grandfather’s willingness to go along with the naked painting. Yes, I realize that Clarke was a very famous person and had a knighthood, but I can’t imagine any of my grandparents thinking that was a good idea. My paternal grandfather died when I was a little less than 2, but he was famous for having a temper (when he was in his 60s and everyone said he’d mellowed with age, he once ripped a deck of cards in half because he was annoyed with a bad bridge call) and I can’t imagine a scenario where a suggestion like that directed at myself or my brother wouldn’t have resulted in him ripping the person’s head off and drop-kicking it into the next county, no matter how famous the person was.

    (4) Pretty much every new Doctor has been seen as a portent of doom by some portion of the fandom. So in some ways, nothing new about the fuss over Jodie Whittaker, although of course, the fact that she’s a woman means the criticism will be exponentially more rabid. And I suspect it will be even worse if/when the new Doctor is portrayed by a non-white actor.

  21. 1) According to People:
    “Last I’ll say on this,” he began. “I came off Twitter [because] I was always intending to come off Twitter. [It] had nothing to do with what people said about my Game of Thrones cameo [or] because I am in Game of Thrones. Why the hell would I worry what people thought about that? It’s clearly f—ing awesome.”
    “Timing was just a coincidence, but believe what you want,” Sheeran continued.

  22. The interesting thing is that we’ve always had toxic, spoiled brats, but they haven’t been the sort of problem they are now until recently. Now, it’s possible they’re getting worse–but I tend to suspect that’s not what’s going on, because I’ve seen some awful ones in the past.

    What I think is going on is that technology is amplifying them. And if they weren’t so amplified, I think they might be much less of a problem.

    Twitter looks to me like the worst offender. Something about it’s fundamental design seems to work to amplify toxic spoiled brats even more than other social media do. I’m not sure its design can be modified to fix that. (Throwing human moderators at the problem is clearly hopeless–people don’t scale like that.) If it can be fixed, then great, but I’m not holding my breath.

    What we really need is some sort of compromise between Facebook’s only-hear-from-people-you-know (mostly) and Twitter’s hear-from-everyone-you-haven’t-blocked systems. The problem is that I’m not sure what that compromise would be….but I’m hoping it also involves federation, because I’m tired of giant monopolies controlling my access to friends/fellow fans. 🙂

    Be vewy quiet–I’m hunting pixels.

  23. @ kathodus

    Completely off-topic… is there a protocol for contacting a Filer (whose info you don’t know) privately?

    If you’re ok with making public the fact that you’re trying to contact them (mentioning their public handle), then the usual protocol I’ve seen is something like “Could someone who has personal contact with X let them know I’d like them to contact me [include your contact info here]?”

    That way it’s left up to the other person to decide whether or not to follow up on the contact, rather than putting the go-between in the position of making the call to give you the information.

    If you prefer not to make a public announcement about who it is you’re trying to contact, that gets trickier. In that situation, you could ask the site host (making this general because it can apply elsewhere) to pass along the contact request. But it’s possible that some site hosts might consider that to be a breach of protocol, since people may reasonably feel that they’ve provided their (non-public) contact information to a site host for an extremely narrow set of necessary purposes.

  24. I really don’t like Ed Sheeran (like I really don’t like Chalmers) but I wasn’t bothered by his cameo. The song is not the best the show has produced (I love the music, Rains of Castamere is awesome and I even loved The Hold Steady’s version of The Bear and the Maiden Fair) but Sheeran has a not unpleasant voice. But haters’ gonna hate.
    I didn’t read the round table on Chalmers closely, but I do remember that several people read the book compulsively, so it wasn’t as if they didn’t enjoy it; they just considered it lightweight. Most of the Sharkies are academics, I can understand them wanting more from a book. Paul Kinkaid hated it (as did I) and found it a slog (as did I); unlike me, he chose not to stop reading it and move on. I don’t think he deserves to be pilloried for expressing his tastes vocally.

    I mean I have hated Wonder Woman vocally and loudly to anybody who cared to listen and many who didn’t: that’s part of fandom, and it’s not the same as hurling actual stones at actual people.

    Separately, one of my credentials is probably in the end stages of her life, and is currently surviving on painkillers and treat sticks. She seems to have pancreatitis, which means that she may just not be producing enough digestive enzyme and will waste away (she’s a little bag of bones with a loud purr right now), or, well, worse things. I may not be able to make it to WorldCon if she needs me – and the fact that I am spending her weight in gold in vet bills ain’t helping with the cost of holidays in Finland.

  25. Heather Rose Jones: That’s a good explanation. I suggest somebody send their request to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I’ll make a decision.

  26. (Crap. I do know the difference between “its” and “it’s”–but my fingers don’t always listen to my brain. Sorry. Also, I just posted this same comment in the wrong thread, which is why I’m now making more coffee…)

  27. Peer:

    “BTW I think it was Hampus who recommended “Nobody likes a goblin” by Ben Hatke.”

    Sure was! And now I have to buy more stuff from Hatke.

    Anna Feruglio Dal Dan:

    “Separately, one of my credentials is probably in the end stages of her life, and is currently surviving on painkillers and treat sticks.”

    Oh no. 🙁 I hope you can make it but hugs to you and your credential anyhow.

  28. And still haven’t watched any episodes of Doctor Who. I think it was never shown on swedish TV.

  29. @Anna – I’m sorry to hear about your credential. A good friend just lost hers on Tuesday. Her credential was also a good friend, and was on hospice, as well (most likely kidney failure was the ultimate cause of his death).

  30. Looking towards next year – has anyone been watching the short films Oats Studio has put out on YouTube?

    I have “Zygote” on my rough list for BDP Short Form.

  31. @ Meredith: Re Chambers, I can tell you some of the things that made me put it #1 on my ballot; others are harder to articulate. First off, it hits two of my bulletproof kinks at once: (1) abused child escapes to a better life, and (2) what does it mean to be human? Secondly, I love strong characterization, and this book delivers it in spades. Third, I love the worldbuilding details and the wealth of aliens who (despite claims heard elsewhere) are not all just humans-in-disguise. Fourth, it has the “Below Decks” factor — it’s a Galactic Federation book that isn’t human-centric, and much as I love Star Trek, that’s a nice change. And that last is more obvious in this book than it was in the first one.

    Beyond that… I just like the writing. It’s neither clunky nor pretentious; it draws you thru the story without ever once standing up and calling attention to itself, either positively or negatively. And I like it that the ending feels “right”; instead of Sidra having a sudden epiphany about how much better it is to be a detached entity, she finds a solution that works for the person she is.

    Paul Kincaid is a twit.

    @ Cora: The hypothesis that Ed Sheeran picks up a lot of sneering contempt primarily because his music is very popular with young women appears to be sound. If you pay attention to which pop artists get bashed the most heavily, that’s the one factor that almost all of them seem to have in common.

  32. Meredith: I missed the start of the Sharke stuff – I hadn’t realised that they all chose their shortlists after reading only excerpts of most of the works.

    I thought that was quite bizarre, too. Wouldn’t you survey the works you’d read during the eligible period, pick the ones you thought were worthy, and submit those for your fellow Sharkes’ consideration?

    Instead, it sounds as though a lot of the Sharke longlist works were selected based on reputation, which is… to my mind, a flawed methodology.

    Also, Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit was really a lightweight book that didn’t really do anything groundbreaking.*

    * just practicing here; I’m hoping to get selected as one of the Sharkes next year

  33. Jim Parish: a possible counterexample: Frederick Douglass wrote several autobiographies.

    He also is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.

  34. @Standback: Gotcha. Thanks for explaining.

    @JJ: I thought that was quite bizarre, too. Wouldn’t you survey the works you’d read during the eligible period, pick the ones you thought were worthy, and submit those for your fellow Sharkes’ consideration?

    They did it that way because that’s more or less how the Clarke operates. The Clarke jury has to pick their shortlist from the list of novels submitted to the Clarke; they don’t get to include things they read and liked if they weren’t submitted. For this year, 86 novels were submitted.

    The Sharkes were also working under fairly severe time constraints: the Clarke submission list was not announced until February 17th, and the Clarke Award announcement deadline that they had to beat with all of their reviews, their own shortlist, and selecting a winner, is July 27th, and they also wanted to match the Clarke shortlist announcement and release their own shortlist on May 2, the day before the Clarke did. Since that presents the potential for reading 80ish novels in two and a half months, it was unavoidable** that they would have to perform triage in order to select the books they thought might be the most interesting. As is to be expected, they had some second thoughts post-reading.

    **Apparently not for some of you. I am consumed with envy mystified by the speed with which some of the folks around here inhale novels.

  35. PhilRM: Since that presents the potential for reading 80ish novels in two and a half months, it was unavoidable** that they would have to perform triage in order to select the books they thought might be the most interesting.

    I don’t see that as unavoidable at all. Given the time constraints, it would have made much more sense for each of them to select what they felt were the best of the eligible works they’d already read, thus giving themselves less total new reading to do.

    ETA: Each of them would still be getting a bunch of other works selected for them by their fellow Sharkes, thus emulating the way the judges are given works to read for the Clarke.

    Unless they aren’t normally choosing to read the sort of works which they feel would be suitable for recognition by the Clarke, in which case… they would be whining and complaining that other people aren’t giving awards to, and recognizing, books that they themselves hadn’t felt a need to read.

    You see my point. Their whole argument here looks incredibly suss to me.

  36. Anna, I’m sorry to hear about your credential. I lost one last year to kidney disease, and I have definitely been in the position of having to decide about travel based on a credential’s health. May their remaining time with you be happy.

  37. @JJ: I see your point, but I don’t agree with it. I think they adopted a perfectly reasonable approach to try to draw their selections from the entire list of submissions, rather than biasing them by whatever they may have happened to have read already. This is especially important for the Clarke, which from its inception has made a point of including novels from non-genre and (more recently) from small/independent publishers. YMMV.

    @Anna: I’m so sorry to hear about your credential.

  38. Aww. I’m stuck in 2017.

    @Robert Reynolds & Ahrelia, re: Peter Dickinson

    Oh, good, I’m glad. After the revelation that Blyton is only medium-known I’m not sure which British authors (or other Commonwealth regions – Margaret Mahy, for example) might have made it over there, since it doesn’t seem to be closely linked to level of popularity here.


    On Short Story Squee and Snark, we’re discussing Kelly Robson’s “We Who Live in the Heart,” an SF story whose society lives inside space whales. Should be an interesting one – come share your thoughts with us!

    Thanks for the link, Standback – it was a good story and I hope that there will be some more discussion there. 🙂

    I like Allen’s description of a spread of works; it suits my personal preferences for a Best Novel award ballot far more than Kincaid’s concept of a unified “best”. Science fiction and fantasy are very large and very varied, after all.

    I think the bit of her review of ACaCO that drew eye-rolling was the introductory paragraph where she says it isn’t science-fiction.


    There isn’t a ‘movement’, there isn’t a common set of aesthetics** to what is new and interesting in SF right now. There is an expansion instead – change on multiple fronts and multiple directions, particularly in the who & where of SF writing.

    What’s interesting is Kincaid talks around something like that a little bit when he’s talking about the Hugo’s:

    As the universe of Hugo voters has grown, so the results have become progressively less white, less male, less American, but they have similarly become less canonical, less accepted as the best.

    Which considering his desire for some kind of unified ‘best’ ‘science fiction’ theme, hm, I’m not sure whether I want to draw any conclusions there, but… It sort of makes a comparison from the comments the other day that (some of) the Sharke’s are close to being a mirror image to the Pups a bit more persuasive, to my mind.

    Can any single ‘best’ truly represent science fiction? I don’t think it can. Better to aim for Allen’s spread and have a more diverse concept of ‘best’.


    However, it seems like Kincaid takes it further than I would, as he then says “newness is always disturbing”, develops that into “challenging” and then basically concludes that popular genre books like Chambers therefore can’t be “best”, at which point I sigh.

    Yeah, I think when he talks about newness being disturbing/challenging he’s missed that newness can also be exciting or inspiring. Probably a few other things, too. Positive reactions to newness are, of course, more likely to belong to popular books. I’ve spent (we’ve all spent) a fair amount of time explaining to the Puppies that “popular” doesn’t automatically mean “award-worthy”; I think that the Sharke jury could do with the odd reminder that they’re not mutually exclusive, either.

    By the way, the wikipedia article about UK currency does cover a fair amount of feuding over money. 🙂


    Some people have a tendency to let celebrities or ‘leaders of the community’ they strongly admire get away with things that they would find suspicious/uncomfortable/abhorrent in someone they didn’t hero-worship. It seems to be a reliable lever for people who want to get away with doing unpleasant things. I’m just very happy that the father put a stop to the whole thing before anything worse happened.


    I agree. The internet has been brilliant for people who suffered from an inability to reach communities (disabled people; minorities in rural areas; geeks; people in oppressive countries). It has also enabled people with extremist politics or vicious personalities (or both) to link up, reinforce each other, and inflate each other’s less admirable actions and qualities. I’m not sure how to keep the benefits while minimising the downsides.


    I’m sorry about your credential.


    Thank you! I thought Sidra’s and Jane’s character arcs were well done, especially Sidra’s.

    I think I’m a little oversensitive to some of the pitfalls of an inexperienced writer and I felt that Chambers’ relative inexperience still shows in places (although less so than the first book) so she hasn’t quite got to the point where I’d nominate her or put her at the top of my ballot – yet. I’m quite looking forward to seeing where she goes from here, though.

    @JJ and PhilRM

    I don’t really object to using excerpts as a filter to narrow down which books to read more thoroughly – it’s as good a way as any, and I agree with Phil that there wouldn’t have been time to read all of them front to back. I don’t think using only books that had already been read would have been a good method, since that would disproportionately favour books that had ‘buzz’ which I think wouldn’t have suited the Sharke’s (or the Clarke’s) aims or sensibilities.

    But – I think it would have been a good idea to use the excerpts (and/or reviews, etc) as a filter and then read in full any that they thought were the most promising candidates for their personal shortlists. A couple of months is enough to read excerpts and also a handful of books, since presumably they would already have a couple of favourites.

  39. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: I’m so sorry to hear about your credential’s condition. 🙁

    @Various in re. “Shadow”: I jumped to Kincaid’s conclusion and almost had whiplash when I rolled my eyes – then my whole head – so fast at the statement that if ACACO wins, the Clarke award has no point. (So the shadowing would have less than no point – my feeling all along.) Doom, DOOM if she wins! Le sigh. Why did I click through.

    @Meredith & @Ahrelia: Oh, The Weathermonger – yes, I read that when I was a kid, so I’ve heard of/had access to Peter Dickinson (at least one book!). I remember it fondly. In fact ::checks:: I picked up an old used copy, based on that fond memory. I haven’t reread it yet, though. ::blush::

    @Meredith, redux: BTW I’d heard of Blyton, but while one or two titles sound familiar, I’m not sure I ever read any, or when I heard of her.

    @Rev. Bob: “(But then, I’m of the opinion that July 20 should be a national holiday in the U.S.)”

    Wild guess: Happy birthday???

    @Greg Hullender: “The thing that strains credulity is when a work seems so flawed that you can’t see how it got published in the first place and yet some people put it forward for an award.”

    Heh, well, except we know why they were nominated. 😛

    @Peer (quoting Peer): “I suppose the easiest would be to contact Mike and he will do the contacting.”

    That’s how I was stalked, I mean, how a Filer contacted me a while back. 😉

    ETA: Godstalked, of course. Only the best for Filers.

    – – – – –

    Darn, it’s 2017 here, too. Although due to the time difference between me and the blog, I’m a day off from what it says. I’ll take what time-traveling I can get!

  40. Never a ticky around when ya need one. A.k.a. for want of a ticky the comments were lost. Etc.

  41. Kendall: That’s how I was stalked, I mean, how a Filer contacted me a while back.

    Hey, enough of the unwarranted accusations of me being a stalker! Sheesh, just because I showed up at your door at midnight with a bouquet of black-market SJW credentials. 😉

  42. Book excerpt of the day 😐 from Amazon.com: 2/3 of it was a list of characters + descriptions of nations + some other stuff (glossary? I forget; my eyes glazed over, but something that belonged at book’s end IMHO). I presume it was an automated excerpt based on the Kindle version of the book (though it was formatted 100 times better, but no page breaks, so…Kindle excerpt?).

  43. My sympathies, Anna. I thought I was going to lose my eldest credential about a month and a half ago. She went rather suddenly from thin elderly cat to skin and bones. Fortunately for both Pepper and me, it turned out to be diabetes, which is at least treatable, and she’s visibly improving with the insulin shots. I’ve buried more than one furry friend over the years, and I know it’s hard to go through.

Comments are closed.