Pixel Scroll 7/6/17 Microcosmic Godstalk

(1) AT THE CORE. James Davis Nicoll returns with a new list: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Mysteries Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Here are the first four —

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

White Cat by Holly Black

The Mountains of Mourning by Lois Bujold

Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan

(2) YOUR GUIDE TO MOUNT TBR. Gabino Iglesias devotes his LitReactor column to explaining “10 Things Only Hardcore Bookworms Do”.

  1. Buy the same book more than once

We buy books because they are great and smell good and feel right and occupy empty space and they’re our friends. “I don’t have this edition.” “This cover is too amazing to pass up.” “This one is signed.” “This is the one I had when I was a kid.” “This is only a dollar!” “I’ll keep it around and give it away to someone later.” I’ve even used this one to rationalize the purchase of a third edition of Langston Hughes’ The Dream Keeper and Other Poems: “I mean, I have two editions already, but this one’s illustrated!” Yeah, hardcore bookworms will come up with amazing reasons why they “need” to buy a book they already have. On the other hand, we will also buy the same book twice by accident. It’s there and it’s affordable…and we’re not going to drive home and look through our piles for it: we’re going to buy it again.

  1. Judge people by their books/shelves

I know this one is tough to swallow. I also know some of you will debate that you’re better human beings than me and you are above and beyond judging others. Well, fuck it, I’m being brutally honest here and being judgmental has kept me alive this far, so I’m gonna keep doing it. If you invite me to your house and give me a tour of it and I don’t see a single book, I kinda want to get out of there because who the hell doesn’t own at least a couple of books? A house without books is like a body without a soul. If you do have some books, us bookworms will find a way to sniff them out and study them. Then, silently and with a smile on our faces, we will judge you. John Waters said “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them,” and I think most bookworms agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. Likewise, we will probably change the way we feel about you based on the quality of the books on your shelves. For me, the books you own/read and the way you treat animals are the two factors that lie at the top of the list. You read good shit and you’re good to animals, I’ll get down with you even if you’re a mercenary. Is this horrible? Yes. Is this unfair because “good books” is a subjective term? Yes. Does it matter to us? Nope. Will we change or stop doing it? Yeah…no.

(3) ACT CLEANUP NEEDED. Kisha Bertrand delivers a powerful rant about how trolls are coddled on a certain convention’s OFFICIAL Facebook group: “Shame on you, Dragon Con”.

Earlier today, a black girl posted this Io9 article in the group as she was excited about the movie adaptation and release of Black Panther along with the plethora of cosplay opportunities available to people of color. The post was meant to be positive and celebratory, but we all know what happens when black people get together in excitement of something that positively highlights us in any form of media. Yep. Angry and fragile white folx with their exclamations of, “But what about me? Why does it have to be about race?” and my all time favorite, “You only like it because it’s about black people.” Racist trolls begin crawling out of the woodwork spewing bile and nonsense to whoever will give them the time of day. I mean, god forbid PoC (“people of color” for those of you asleep in the back) are excited about a film involving superheroes who look like us and are at the forefront of the storyline.

Trolls are trolls and we all know they live to stir the pot and poke to get a rise out of people. Most of us know not to feed the trolls. In most cases we look the other way. I tend to bite my tongue because I don’t have the energy to challenge and educate bigots via social media. I’m fucking tired, y’all. I’m SOOO goddamn tired, BUT, there are those instances where trolling goes too far which is what happened today in the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group.

What started out as ignorant incompetence from some random redneck, turned into comments that were not only racist, but anti-semitic, transphobic, ableist and misogynist. It got to a point where it was no longer a matter of ignoring the troll. This guy was threatening people – a group of con goers who will be gathered in my city for Dragon Con in less than two months. People were pissed, myself included. I mean, the racist did refer to me as a monkey when I challenged him. A monkey… how clever.

Regardless of the troll, serious conversations were happening on this post. Some people were actually listening and being educated by PoC putting in the emotional labor to teach them. To be honest, some of these conversations were actually kind of awesome. The majority of white folx were celebrating the film and some of the more stubborn lot were legit backing off and LISTENING. Any PoC will tell you that getting white folx to stop making it about them and actually listen when we talk about our experiences is a pretty big deal. We’re unpacking some complicated stuff in these conversations.

Of course the troll wasn’t having it. He kept on pushing and taunting, reaching into the collection of shitty memes he was no doubt waiting to unleash at the right time – some of which were direct threats to Black and Jewish people specifically. This went on for several hours, all while members of the group were reporting this guy to not only the moderators of the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group, but also sending emails to the Dragon Con staff via dragoncon.org. Strength in numbers right? I was so proud of my extended nerd family of all backgrounds joining together to vanquish the evil troll. We were all just waiting on the moderators of the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group to swoop in, swing the ban hammer, and let us continue with our conversations and celebration of Black Panther and black cosplay. That was, in fact, the whole point of the post to begin with.

I guess banning the troll would have been too challenging for the moderators of the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group because what did they do? Rather than simply remove this terrible waste of human flesh from the group, they deleted the post in its entirety. They essentially swept the issue under the rug AND KEPT THE FUCKING RACIST PIECE OF SHIT TROLL IN THE GROUP.

What makes this terribly tragic (aside from the obvious) is this is NOT the first time such an instance has occurred in the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group. They deleted posts and conversations that came up after the 2016 convention when people wanted to discuss the costumes done in poor taste (e.g. blackface and the burning world trade center towers) and what we as a community could do to stop it. People wanted to discuss what they saw at Dragon Con in the OFFICIAL Dragon Con Facebook group because isn’t that what the fuck the group is for?!?! When members asked why they weren’t allowed to openly discuss these topics, one of the moderators (there are seven of them, five guys, two women, ALL WHITE) simply said, “You’re giving these people the attention they were looking for by discussing it. We just don’t have time to moderate and read through every post.” So your solution is to silence people in the community and ignore it? You don’t have time? Well golly gee, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a moderator of a group? MODERATE?!?! If you don’t have the time, maybe don’t volunteer to be a moderator of a group of over 12k members. I dunno. Just using a bit of logic here.

I guess we can expect any post about Black Panther and/or the celebration of black cosplay to eventually be deleted. Posts such as these will almost always bring out the racist assholes who want to stir the pot…because racism and transphobia and anti-semitism and ableism and misogyny sure are fucking funny, aren’t they? Rather than cut away the rot, you slap a band-aid over it and let it continue to fester because, “you don’t have the time”…

This was Dragon Con’s response:

(4) SPECULATIVE POET LAUREATE. The SPECPO blog announced that poet Tracy K. Smith, whose collection, Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, has been named the Poet Laureate of the United States.

Here’s an excerpt of the New York Times’ article:

Now the Library of Congress has named Ms. Smith its new poet laureate, the nation’s highest honor in that field. With the appointment, announced on Wednesday, Ms. Smith will take on a role held by some of the country’s most revered poets, among them Rita Dove, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, W. S. Merwin, Charles Simic and most recently, Juan Felipe Herrera.

Ms. Smith often plays with genre in her work and says it serves as “a distancing device.” Some of the verses in her 2007 collection, “Duende,” were inspired by westerns. Her 2011 collection, “Life on Mars,” which won the Pulitzer, is inflected with dystopian themes and tropes from science fiction. Many of the poems are meditations on cosmic affairs, like the incomprehensible vastness of space and humanity’s efforts to understand our place in the universe, but the collection is also anchored in the personal. The escapist, fantastical themes in the collection are blended with intimate reflections: mournful, elegiac verses about the death of her father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.

“I was thinking about loss, and thinking as someone who was about to become a parent,” said Ms. Smith, who lives in Princeton with her husband, Raphael Allison, and their three children. “The distancing device of science fiction was helpful, and it changed the metaphors.”


  • July 6, 1990 — George Jetson took Jane and the rest of his gang from the boob tube up onto the silver screen as Jetsons: The Movie.

(6) BOOTS ON THE FACE. In keeping with the great tradition of Vice Presidential speeches about the space program, Mike Pence has made an Orwellian-sounding promise:

Vice President Mike Pence vowed Thursday to make space exploration a priority for the U.S., including the conquering of another planet.

“Our nation will return to the Moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” Pence said during remarks at the Cape Canaveral headquarters in Florida.

(7) KICKOFF. Sports news blog SBNation.com is doing a serial science fiction story (July 5 through 15) about “What football will look like in the future”. The far future.

Danny Sichel sent the link with this endorsement: “Jon Bois is doing some incredible things with the medium, and I say this as someone who really doesn’t care about football.”

The whole thing was kind of dizzying to me – you’ve been warned.

(8) BRAVE NEW WORLD. Visiting the real site behind The Technicolor Time Machine: “The first European settlement in the New World”.

Twenty minutes later, I continued on my journey; it was another 80km to L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site. Stepping out of the car, my nostrils filled with the crisp, briny sea air carried in by a breeze that rippled across the grassy landscape.

It is here, on the northern tip of Newfoundland, that a significant moment in human migration and exploration took place.

In the year 1000, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus set sail, a Viking longboat, skippered by Leif Erikson, brought 90 men and women from Iceland to establish a new settlement – the first European settlement in the New World.

(9) SCENERY CHEWER. Adam Rowe reprises “The Secret History of J. Jonah Jameson, Comics’ Greatest Supporting Character” at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

J. Jonah immediately latched on to Spider-man for a weirdly specific reason: he feared the young hero’s violent actions would lead children to idolize him, and they’d get themselves hurt in the process. “He is a bad influence on our youngsters” is a direct quote from page five of Amazing Spider-Man #1, and a direct summation of Wertham’s views. The parallels get stronger from there: while Wertham compared superheroes to the “Nazi myth” of the Ubermensch, J Jonah contrasted Spider-man against his own son, all-American astronaut John Jameson. Wertham called for comic censorship, and J. Jonah called for Spider-Man to be “outlawed.”

(10) BACK TO THE PRESENT. Marvel has announced the following creative teams and Legacy titles:


Written by GREG PAK


Written by CULLEN BUNN

(11) NOT THE SON OF A CARPENTER. But the creator himself! Variety has the story — “John Carpenter Inks Overall Deal With Universal Cable, to Develop Two New Series”.

Horror master John Carpenter has signed an overall deal with Universal Cable Productions (UCP), Variety has learned.

Under the new deal, Carpenter will executive produce scripted programming with UCP for the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment portfolio, as well as for external networks and streaming services, along with his producing partner, Sandy King, under their Storm King Productions banner.

UCP and Carpenter are already in development on “Tales for a Halloween Night” for SYFY. Based on Carpenter’s award-winning graphic novel anthology of stories, the series brings together storytellers from the worlds of movies, novels, and comics for a collection of horror stories featuring graveyards, sunken ships, and all the things that go bump in the night. A search for a writer is underway. Additionally, UCP and Carpenter are developing “Nightside,” based on the literary series by New York Times bestselling author Simon R. Green, with “Scream” TV series co-creator Jill Blotevogel attached to write the script. In the series, Nightside is the secret heart of London where creatures of the night congregate

“John Carpenter is an incredible creator whose dark imagination has left an indelible mark in film and in our dreams,” said Dawn Olmstead, executive vice president of development at UCP. “We are thrilled to have a master of the horror genre join UCP.”

(12) HEAVY DUTY. LHC “double heavy” particle to shine light on strong force.

Scientists have detected a new particle at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.

The discovery will help researchers learn more about the so-called “strong force” which holds the centres of atoms together.

The existence of the new particle was theoretically predicted but this is the first time it has been identified.

The details of the Xi-cc++ particle were presented at a high-energy physics conference in Venice.

…Nearly all the matter that we see around us is made of neutrons and protons, which form the centres of atoms. These are made up of three smaller particles called quarks which can be either light or heavy.

New arrangement

There are, however, six different types of quarks which combine in different ways to form other kinds of particle. Those that have been detected so far contain at most, one heavy quark.

This is the first time that researchers have confirmed the existence of one with two heavy quarks. According to Prof Guy Wilkinson of Oxford University, there is an intriguing difference between the new particle and the ones that have been discovered before.

“In contrast to other particles of this type, in which the three quarks perform an elaborate dance around each other, a particle with two heavy quarks is expected to act like a planetary system, where the heavy quarks are like two stars orbiting one around the other, with the lighter quark orbiting around this binary system.”

The research team will now measure the properties of the Xi-cc++ to establish how this new arrangement of quarks behaves and how the strong force holds the system together. They also expect to find more double heavy quark particles.

(13) THE SOOTH IS OUT THERE. Looking for the remnants of a volcano bigger than the one that spawned Frankenstein: “The massive volcano that scientists can’t find”.

It was 10 October 1465 – the day of the hotly anticipated wedding of King Alfonso II of Naples. He was set to marry the sophisticated Ippolita Maria Sforza, a noblewoman from Milan, in a lavish ceremony. As she entered the city, the crowds gasped. Before them was a sight so strange and beautiful, it was like nothing they had ever seen before.

….In fact, what Alfonso’s wedding party witnessed may have been more extraordinary than anyone imagined. Many thousands of miles away in the tropics, a giant volcano was making geological history. This was an eruption so big, it produced an ash cloud which enveloped the Earth and led to the coolest decade for centuries.

The blast itself would have been heard up to 2,000km (1,242 miles) away and created a tsunami which caused devastation hundreds of kilometres away. In terms of scale, it surpassed even the 1815 eruption of Tambora, which unleashed energy equivalent to 2.2 million Little Boy atomic bombs and killed at least 70,000 people. Traces of the eruption have been found from Antarctica to Greenland.

The thing is, scientists can’t find the volcano that did it. What’s going on?

(14) FIBER COUNT. Dirty laundry: Are your clothes polluting the ocean?

“Not many people know that lots of our clothes are made of plastic,” says Imogen Napper, a PhD student at Plymouth University, “polyester, acrylic.”

Ms Napper and Prof Richard Thompson study marine microplastics – fragments and fibres found in the ocean surface, the deep sea and the marine food chain.

And in a recent lab study, they found that polyester and acrylic clothing shed thousands of plastic fibres each time it was washed- sending another source of plastic pollution down the drain and, eventually, into the ocean.

(15) MORTALITY TABLES. Robert Chan, in a Yahoo! piece “‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Peril-o-Meter: Who Dies Next?”, looks at 20 characters on Game of Thrones and ranks them by the likelihood they will be killed.

It’s not easy predicting who will be the next to go on Game of Thrones. Some deaths seem so certain as to be almost predestined (Ramsay Bolton); some were literally predestined (Cersei’s children, Hodor); and some feel like they’re there just to mess with us — Ned Stark’s death basically told us, “This ain’t your grandfather’s fantasy series.” We did pretty well with last year’s Peril-o-Meter, so here are our best predictions for this season on a scale of 1 to 5 — with 1 being “Very Likely to Survive” and 5 being “Call a Mortician.”

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Stephen Burridge, Andrew Porter, Jim Henley, and Danny Sichel for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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178 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/6/17 Microcosmic Godstalk

  1. @Meredith:

    I quite like your hodgepodge of books gravatar, especially because there are multiple dragon-related ones there. No shame over it not being properly organized, okay? 🙂

  2. Re: fandom history and furries.

    When I was first active in fandom (late 1970s, at a university, in a Star Trek group), I never knew furries existed (or slash fiction) — besides the local group, I attended cons in Seattle and Portland (some Trek themed, some more general).

    *cues falling dates from calendar to indicate decades rolling by*

    When I got back into fandom in 2003 (online LOTR/media fandom), I learned about furries and saw (through the Geek Hierarchy chart and some other spaces) just how stigmatized they were.

    By the time I stop advising the local campus sf group (turning it over to another faculty member who was younger and much more in tune with their interests), I was happy to have observed over the years that the membership included out furries, out gay, lesbian *and* trans* students, and a number of African-American students (not equating the groups–or implying they were all distinct–but noting that large swathes of fandom both historically and today was not open/inclusive to fans in those groups). I attributed the inclusiveness in part to age, but also in part to context: i.e. the mainstream campus culture (rural Texas) wasn’t exactly welcoming to the fan/geek/nerd community, so the desire to welcome/bond with everyone who was a fan was dominant. They were a pretty awesome group.

    A colleague in psychology (the one who took over the sf group) was doing research on sff fans, specifically furries (and at one point, one of the sf club’s officers who was a psychology major was his research assistant which meant she was being an aca-fan)!

    Stephen Reysen, International Anthropormorphic Research

  3. @ Bruce A & Kendall

    I’ve been buying ebook versions of paper books that I already own, but that’s mainly because I can’t really hold paper books anymore so if I ever want to read them again digital is it. Endlessly frustrating when something isn’t available in digital form in the UK, sigh. I would love to try out Laura Resnick’s novels, for example, and most of Tamora Pierce’s back catalogue has yet to be released. I also selectively buy paper versions of new favourites that I enjoyed in ebook form if they have especially nice covers. I justify it by saying that I could loan them to people. Theoretically. If they provided multiple signed witness statements that they take care of loaned books and always return them.

    @ Kendall

    BTW have you read Holmberg’s books and if so, would you recommend them? I’ve seen them around and the covers are very groovy.

    I own the first one but I haven’t got around to reading it yet, I’m afraid – lately I’ve been stuck in a cycle of semi-frantic Hugo reading/Hugo prep and Sanity Maintenance Rereads of old favourites, which hasn’t left a lot of energy for reading through unrelated bits of Mount 770. The covers are rather fabulous though, aren’t they?

    @ Kurt

    Whoa, who, unfair advantage! Penalty flag on the field!

    Guilty. 😀

    I decided it was a bit harsh to expect people to spot a copy of The Hobbit (which, after all, has many, many editions, so recognising a specific UK edition would have been pretty impressive) where the designers thought it would be a splendid idea to make the title nearly the same shade as the spine and two books which I might like a lot but are obscure enough I’d have been mildly surprised if anyone recognised them just from the spines. I half-regret it – it would have been neat to see if people could guess. 🙂

    That makes sense. Amazon actually has a CRY OF THE CEMARK page, which threw me off:

    Ah! And I see from the official covers that they’re selling it as a junior GoT, which, um. I would not have said that.

    Thanks for the rec!

    @ Dawn Incognito

    It does make for a reasonably good mini-representation of stuff-Meredith-likes, in a way that a proper alphabetical bookshelf might not. 🙂

  4. My reading of Genesis 38 is that the sin of Onan was his failure to obey a direct instruction from God. And I always figured, from context, that the way he did it was via coitus interruptus, not masturbation. YMMV.

    Father: “You keep doing that, and you’ll go blind.”
    Son: “Can I just do it until I need glasses?”

  5. @Kurt:

    A: “Man, I bet plenty of them crazy Californians are Democrats. Hurr Hurr.”
    B: “Hey, that kind of joke is inappropriate here.”
    C: “Hey, B! How dare you insult Democrats like that?”

    What, exactly, is B objecting to by “that kind” of joke? Because there are multiple possibilities (all potentially correct), and we’re focusing on different ones.

    I look at it and see a validation of the idea that you’d have to be crazy to be a Democrat, an allegation that Californians are crazy, and an identification of crazy with bad – and it’s unclear which aspect B is objecting to. It could be either, or it could be any combination or all three, but it’s not clear.

    And, as C, I said the equivalent of “it looks like you’re accepting the idea that Democrats are crazy” to B and got no clarification. That mealy-mouthed response, the refusal to clarify the point(s) of objection, looked an awful lot to me like “yes, I do accept that, but I’m not going to come out and say so, so I’ll just sidestep the issue and hope you don’t notice.”

    The response wasn’t “Don’t insult people by calling them Democrats,” it was:

    “Don’t make that kind of joke, it’s abusive.” And it was. It was abusive to Furries, it was abusive to bottoms. It’s not an innocuous observation about the potential political leaning of Californians, it’s a targeted insult.

    Which, again, does zero to clarify what he’s objecting to in “that kind” of joke. You see an offense in insulting Californians; I see that as well as a second offense: using the accusation of being a Democrat as an insult to Californians. And he never addressed that one.

    The fact that the insult doesn’t contain any actually-objectionable accusation is not an odd thing, because many insults are like that.

    False, both in the original case and the restatement.

    The ideas that being a Democrat or a bottom are bad really do exist in the world and really are used as ways to hurt people. As such, they need to be explicitly refuted when used in that way. Both should be universally seen as being as value-neutral as “likes fried chicken” or “has a big nose,” but they’re not. Calling furries bottoms isn’t only objectionable because it plays into the “furries and sex” stereotype – it’s also objectionable because it uses “bottoming is bad” to do so. Both components are objectionable, and both need to be addressed. Only one was. That’s why I pointed out the one that wasn’t.

    All Mike ever had to do was clarify what he meant by “that kind of joke.” I was looking for a response along the lines of, “No, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with being a bottom. What I object to is the use of snide comments about sexual preferences as a source of humor. I consider such comments abusive, regardless of what those preferences are or who the targeted group is.” Simple, direct, clarifies everything, addresses both offenses.

  6. Kendall: BTW have you read Holmberg’s books and if so, would you recommend them

    I’ve read the first two, and I think the concept is really neat but the execution is very YA-ish in the sense that it involves a young and very inexperienced protagonist who 1) rescues the experienced adults, on more than one occasion, and 2) frequently goes rushing in on their own without the slightest clue what they are doing, but still manages to successfully achieve their goal.

    The author is a devout Mormon, so the books are very “clean” in the sense that there’s no swearing or sexual anything — for people who are looking for that in their own or their childrens’ reading.

  7. What, exactly, is B objecting to by “that kind” of joke? Because there are multiple possibilities (all potentially correct), and we’re focusing on different ones.

    Or at least, you’re imagining that everyone’s focus is what you want to argue against, regardless of how often they disagree, and you’re just going to keep on imagining it.

    I typed out a fairly lengthy response to this, but I’m deleting it, because it’s just the same arguments you’ve already seen, come around again, just like you’re making the same arguments you’ve already made, up to and including accusing Mike of stuff he didn’t say, apparently because he didn’t deny it to you to your satisfaction. Which strikes me as a pretty shitty yardstick, but hey.

    You’re more concerned with policing the response for slights you don’t even know are there, than in saying what you wanted said — you want Mike to have said it, and you find it insulting that he didn’t perform as you demanded, to a level of explicit detail you apparently expected him to intuit.

    You’re also, in your latest post, misrepresenting what I think, in direct contradiction to what I’ve said I think, and trying to describe to me concepts that have been part of my arguments as if you think they’re some sort of new information to me. That’s not communication — you’re arguing with a strawman.

    Accordingly, this is a waste of time. It was probably a waste of time last night, too, but it’s just do-si-do-ing now.

    So I’ll just refer you back to my earlier posts.

    Only — you might want to give some thought to the fact that you’re not getting much support here. Sympathy, but not agreement with your accusations against Mike. So either you’re explaining your position in a really unconvincing way, or perhaps you actually did misread Mike.

    Either way, I think you’ve made yourself as clear as you’re going to, and I’ve made myself as clear as I’m going to, and we apparently disagree. So it goes.

    Have a good evening; see you in the next conversation.

  8. My primary reason for double-dipping on the book buying is because I pretty much only ever read fiction in e-book these days, but there are circumstances where I either really want a physical book (to get it signed) or want to support a book related event (e.g., attending a signing /release party). And then there are certain authors or series where I feel a sentimental compulsion to complete the set, having begun reading them in hard copy.

  9. > What, exactly, is B objecting to by “that kind” of joke?

    I don’t know, because I don’t see the joke or the grounds for offense in your altered version. Which is why it’s a bad analogy and offers no clarification. There’s no offensive stereotypes in play there, so nothing for anyone to object to in the first place.

    I’m trying to be open-minded, and consider that you might have a point, Bob, but I’m utterly failing to see it, whatever it might be. Bad analogies aren’t helping.

    (I still don’t see how you differentiate my example about the Jewish treasurer. Maybe we can go back to that one.)

  10. @Hampus Eckerman: I see what you mean – they leave the door too open for feedback/comment loops that can overwhelm threads.

    @P J Evans: That’s how I have CSS set up here; I filter a very few people (no one who seems to be currently active, actually), but I can mouse over to see their comments.

    @Kurt Busiek & @Meredith: Thanks! I said I don’t judge bookshelves. I’d like to amend that to say that I don’t judge, but I may nod approvingly. 😉 The Novice, The White Dragon, The Hobbit, Temeraire – all yay! Apologies to the books I’m not familiar with or haven’t read yet.

    @Heather Rose Jones: “And then there are certain authors or series where I feel a sentimental compulsion to complete the set, having begun reading them in hard copy.”

    I’ve continued in print when I really wanted to switch to ebook, because Format Consistency Obsession, but haven’t bought both formats in those cases. I’m trying to change, though (in both directions, e.g., if the print book is inexpensive enough or the ebook’s oddly expensive).

    @JJ: Thanks! I can probably handle that (the YAish aspect you describe); I’ll check out the samples.

  11. The real problem with Format Consistency Obsession is when the publishers change the paper book form. Like, the first two of a trilogy are MMPB and the last is trade. Gah! I can’t work with that. They won’t all fit on the same shelf!

    I’m learning to get the $7.99 MMPB in ebook now. Nonfiction is still mostly paper, especially if there’s maps. And a lot of nonfiction is practically the same price either way, so I might as well get the paper which I can eventually sell or give away.

    I’d like to thank the Best Series category for making it so I no longer have Format Consistency problems with the October Daye books, and my own sleep deprivation at Worldcon a few years back for fixing it on Peter Grant.

    Remember control-K? PLONK!

  12. Kendall –
    Yes, the video is for real. Notre Dame, Valparaiso, Purdue-Kokomo, Ohio Northern, and others have a Robotic Football League. I think it’s pretty nifty!

  13. Pingback: Amazing News From Fandom: 7/9/2017 - Amazing Stories

  14. @Xtifr: “(I still don’t see how you differentiate my example about the Jewish treasurer. Maybe we can go back to that one.)”

    The Jewish treasurer example derives offensiveness from one clear source: the “Jews and money” stereotype. Being the treasurer isn’t something that’s used as an insult on its own. See also “black people and (watermelon or fried chicken).” There’s no ambiguity when someone objects to that example, because of that clarity. Because the treasurer job only becomes offensive as part of the combo, there’s nothing to address about that component in isolation.

    The joke that started this differs from that in a key way: calling someone a bottom is used as an insult on its own. (It shouldn’t be, but it is.) That’s true whether the target is a furry or anyone else. It’s kink-shaming all on its own. The Jewish treasurer example falls apart if you change “Jewish” to any other group; the furry bottom does not fall apart if you change “furry” to a different group. The combo just adds extra levels of kink-shaming by combining “bottoming is bad” and “furries are kinky,” with a side of “kink is bad” slathered on top of both assertions.

    Thus, when one objects to the “furry bottom” joke, there are multiple offensive components – and it’s all too common in such cases that someone objects to one aspect but not the rest. Focusing on “it’s not cool to exploit the ‘kinky furry’ stereotype” leaves the “bottoming is kinky and therefore bad/shameful” component unchallenged, when that also needs to be refuted.

    I’ve mentioned before how John Scalzi handled the attempt to insult him by calling him gay. A flat statement that calling him gay is an offensive remark would have left “gay is bad” unchallenged. He did the right thing by not doing that, but instead explicitly confronting all of the layers.

    Another aspect is that, truth be told, the furry bottom joke is almost certain to be factually accurate. People from all walks of life can be furries or bottoms; surely the groups overlap to some degree. The only thing that turns that true statement into a joke is the assertion that there’s at least one component of shame in the fact. That’s why I still think the best response would have been along the lines of “I’m sure there are. What of it?” – thereby refusing to accept that there’s anything shameful about the statement and thus it’s not funny at all. Seven words, to refute the joke on all fronts!

    Is any of that clearer?

  15. @ Kendall “Format Consistency Obsession”
    @ lurkertype “The real problem with Format Consistency Obsession is when the publishers change the paper book form.”

    Oh my yes. The series that switch from mass market to trade (rarely vice versa these days). The ones where I got impatient partway through the series and started buying in hardback. The ones where they rebooted with new cover art at some point and my collection mixes the art themes.

    And then there’s my “Ok, I really do have something of an obsessive[*] streak for some things” decision to collect a complete set of Georgette Heyer novels and have pieced it together from two different recent re-issues from different publishers in different physical formats, eked out with old library hardcovers, and one title that seems to be only available via a photostat print-on-demand edition. (For those who are curious, I’m down to lacking only three titles from those listed in Heyer’s Wikipedia page — all contemporary-to-the-writing romances, rather than Regencies or mysteries.)

    [*] I acknowledge that I’m using “obsessive” in a humorous way in this particular context. I do have some mild obsessive behaviors, but book completeness/format consistency doesn’t actually induce physical discomfort in the same way.

  16. @lurkertype:

    The real problem with Format Consistency Obsession is when the publishers change the paper book form. Like, the first two of a trilogy are MMPB and the last is trade. Gah! I can’t work with that. They won’t all fit on the same shelf!

    I solved that by sheer luck: 25 years ago (when my now-spouse and I moved in together and merged collections), the best local choice for cheap paperbackish shelves was something the local unfinished-furniture shop had designed for videocassettes. (Please don’t ask Beta/VCR — I’ve never measured.) This \might/ cost one row of books per standard but gives enough head room that most trade pb fit (as do those obnoxious tall-format pb that some publishers are doing now). But even that has reached its limit for this space — I’m going to have to do something drastic if I ever move everything that’s now on my unread shelves over to the main shelves.

  17. Rev. Bob on July 9, 2017 at 8:41 am said:

    The joke that started this differs from that in a key way: calling someone a bottom is used as an insult on its own. (It shouldn’t be, but it is.)

    Is it? Wow, I’ve never heard that! (Despite living in/near San Francisco all my life and being a bit fluid in my preferences.)

    Ok, yeah, given that, then I can sort of see where you’re coming from. But I’m wavering, not convinced. Here’s the thing. Furries are stereotyped as being into pseudo-bestiality, so saying “furries are into [sex]” is playing on the stereotype. But bottoms are not particularly associated with furries. No one’s ever said, “he’s a bottom, he must be a furry.” Frankly, I think the original would have been every bit as offensive if it had suggested the person was a top or even just into heterosexual PVI.

    A: Why isn’t Mr. So-and-So here for the panel?
    B: He and his missus are Furries, so they’re probably off doin’ it doggie-style somewhere.

    Every bit as offensive. (At least to me.) Not because there’s anything wrong with “doggie-style”, but because of the implied pseudo-bestiality. Coming in from behind is, um, the stereotypical way one has sex with animals….

    Still, I suppose the original could have been intended as a dig at bottoms as well as a dig at furries. But I think it could also have been aimed purely at the furries. I can’t tell, and I’m not sure it’s possible to tell without knowing more about the originator.

    So…I guess I can sort of understand why you’re upset. But, bottom line (pardon the pun), even if insult was intended, it was subtle enough that I’m not surprised Mike missed it. I did, and I’m generally pretty sensitive about such things. And I’m still not entirely convinced it was there. I think it could have just been short-hand to imply the position.

  18. @Xtifr: “Here’s the thing. Furries are stereotyped as being into pseudo-bestiality, so saying “furries are into [sex]” is playing on the stereotype. But bottoms are not particularly associated with furries.”

    See, the way I’ve always encountered the stereotype, it’s “furries are into weird sex” – most specifically, the notion that they spend lots of time, effort, and/or money on fursuits so they can dress up in them for sex. But the “weird” part is key; in my experience, nobody invokes the stereotype to convey the idea that a furry is a well-adjusted person in a committed monogamous relationship who leaves the fursuit in the closet when they have conventional sex with their S.O. Instead, it’s all “lookit the kinky freak.”

    So to me, the offensive aspect to “furries as bottoms” wasn’t that bottoming is part of the stereotype (and I agree with you that it isn’t) – it was the use of bottoming as an example of weird sex, where any form of weird sex will do to play into the stereotype. I don’t think people would have reacted (as) strongly had that “bottoming is weird” assumption been absent, because it would have been more distant from the “kinky furry” stereotype. (And to clarify a bit, it’s not about whether the reader personally thinks kink is bad. It’s about knowing that the reader lives in a society where kink is considered bad. I don’t think consensual kink is bad at all, but I damn sure recognized the attempt to play that card.)

    Furthermore, I think the joke as written relies on the perception that bottoming is weird-therefore-bad as a source for the supposed humor: “hey, we all know furries do weird stuff in bed, so here’s a joke about furries doing weird bedroom stuff, hurr hurr, funny stuff, amirite?” I mean, alleging that there are plenty of furries with perfectly vanilla sex lives… where’s the punch line? What’s the part that’s supposed to be funny? How does it make the target look bad, which is the key ingredient to insult-based “humor”?

    So the basic framing requires that allegation of weirdness. At least, that’s the only way I can see it even theoretically working as humor, which is how Chad clearly intended it.

  19. I thought it was perfectly clear from the beginning that the ‘joke’ relied on both (or more – there’s more than one meaning for bottom) stereotypes. What was never perfectly clear is how the leap was made from ‘person objects to the whole joke’ to ‘person must have been fine with half the joke’. None of the follow-up alternative framings – including the Californian Democrats one – have ever explained that, although to be quite frank at this point I don’t expect it to happen.

  20. Not getting into the bottom controversy other than to make this one observation: it seems to me that some people involved in this argument are interpreting the word as meaning “penetrated male partner in anal sex” and others are interpreting it as meaning “submissive partner in a BDSM scenario.” I don’t know if this disconnect is contributing to the continuing contentiousness and irresolution or not, but just in case, I thought it worth pointing out.

    ETA: And Meredith beats me to the punch in pointing this out, as well as doing some interpretive work about the pertinence of the multiple interpretations. 🙂

  21. @CeeV:

    I think whichever meaning was intended, the point was obviously to use it as an insult. Basically, he could’ve said “plenty of furries are [X]” – where X was anything – and from the structure of the gag, it would’ve been clear that he was painting X as a bad, insulting thing to be. The insult might have seemed bizarre or confusing – for instance, gingers or chartered accountants or LEGO collectors – but the allegation of membership in that group would still be obviously intended as an insult. And in each of those cases, I would hope somebody would have said, “wait, what’s wrong with being [X]” rather than blithely accepting the “X bad” premise.

    Well, unless X actually was a bad thing, like “child molester” or “serial killer.” Then I’d understand not questioning the “X bad” assertion, because that value judgment is accepted and agreed with.

    Since that lack of objection to “X bad” is the response I actually saw, with the objection instead focused on the horror of daring to associate furries with X, that read very strongly to me as “we’re just accepting the premise that being a bottom is bad,” which I found very offensive. (“Wait, we’re not even questioning that? Why not?”)

  22. I don’t think anyone meant anything as an insult. Or to shame anyone. The discussion is on repeat now, nothing new is said. Please stop?

  23. @Heather: If they’re all different, like your Heyers, then it’s not so bad. No format consistency to break (I feel like we’re talking about calendrical heresy and formation instinct). It’s just a collection, like people who mix and match old teacups. I can even handle changing art styles, though I don’t like it. Only change art styles on a reprint edition, people.

    But when there’s a trilogy, it was bought as a trilogy, it was always going to be a trilogy, it only took 4 years or so to come out, and they put the last one in trade instead of MMPB? Unforgivable.

    @Chip: I can’t get trades to fit even in our old VHS (the taller kind) of shelves. So when format changes, the new ones have to be filed lying down, which is just WRONG.

    I have absolutely no OCD and live in cheerfully unsorted chaos and junk. My non-fiction is sorted kind of by subject, but all mixed heights. But gosh, if a series is coming out regularly and I’m buying it new, keep it the same size. Even those tall MMPBs go together better than the oversized paperbacks.

    I forget who mentioned their grandparents had bookshelves in their fireplace — that’s an idea I hadn’t thought of! We don’t use ours either; we don’t need it and the chimney’s so badly cracked it doesn’t draw right. Mostly I just look at the fireplace, mantel, hearth, and the surround and see so much wasted space. We’ve never had the money to have it removed and turned into a real wall, though. There would for damn sure be either more shelves there or we’d scootch the furniture up against the wall and get a few more feet of empty space mid-room.

    We had a chance at a brand new apartment with a fireplace at one point, and turned it down for one in the same complex without, which confused the rental office b/c they were touting it as a rare perk in mid-range apartment living. But we needed that space for the audio and video equipment!

  24. @lurkertype: “But when there’s a trilogy, it was bought as a trilogy, it was always going to be a trilogy, it only took 4 years or so to come out, and they put the last one in trade instead of MMPB? Unforgivable.”

    I’ve seen worse. Instead of book three just being a trade, it was a trade omnibus – so people who bought the first two could only get the third book by rebuying the first two as part of the omnibus.

  25. I don’t mind format so much, but I mind changes in cover art style a lot. My bitterness at the beautiful UK-edition Temeraire covers not being continued all the way to the end of the series knows no bounds. Grrrrr.

  26. 7) Popping in briefly to mention how much I’m digging 17776. Judging by the number of fellow “what is this Foo T-ball?” nerds on my TL who are doing likewise, I think (hope!) this could be an award contender, & I’m trying to figure out whether it’d belong best in graphic story or dramatic presentation?

    Anyway, it’s worth reading for the mixed media format — calendars, diagrams, video, chat logs, etc. — alone. So neat.

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