Pixel Scroll 8/20/22 When I Scroll Alone, I Prefer To Be By Myself

(1) CON CELEBRITY GUEST CHARGED. Yahoo! reports “Gary Busey Charged for Two Counts of Criminal Sexual Contact in New Jersey”. Last weekend the actor was a celebrity guest at the Monster-Mania Convention in Cherry Hill.  

Gary Busey is facing four charges, including two counts of criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree, by the police department of Cherry Hill, N.J. The actor was visiting the town during the weekend of Aug. 12 to Aug. 14 to attend the Monster-Mania Convention at the Doubletree Hotel.

During the time of the convention, Cherry Hill police responded to a report of a sex offense at the Doubletree Hotel. After investigating the incident, detectives charged the 78-year-old actor on four offenses: two counts of criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree, one count of attempting criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree and one disorderly conduct count of harassment. The Cherry Hill Police Department has declined to provide further details regarding the incident at this time.

The Monster Mania committee wrote on Facebook today:

Monster-Mania is assisting authorities in their investigation into an alleged incident involving attendees and a celebrity guest at its convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey last weekend. Immediately upon receiving a complaint from the attendees, the celebrity guest was removed from the convention and instructed not to return. Monster-Mania also encouraged the attendees to contact the police to file a report.

The safety and well-being of all our attendees is of the utmost importance to Monster-Mania, and the company will not tolerate any behavior that could compromise those values. Monster-Mania will continue to assist the authorities in any and every way possible.

(2) MILFORD, CLARION, AND OTHERS. S. L. Huang dives into sff history to find “The Ghost of Workshops Past: How Communism, Conservatism, and the Cold War Still Mold Our Paths Into SFF Writing” at Tor.com. Huang is especially interested in questions such as why “Milford would fail more often for writers of color or other minority students in the workshop.”

…Part 4. From Iowa to Bread Loaf to Milford to Clarion   

I traced this method of workshopping from Iowa to the early years of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and from Bread Loaf to Milford, which was the first writing conference dedicated to SFF. The Milford Writers’ Conference was founded by Damon Knight, Judith Merril, and James Blish in 1956, smack in the middle of Engle’s red-hot zeitgeist. There’s no indication the founders knew any of the politics attached to the expansion of those workshop methods—it’s likely they sourced the format from a colleague and figured this was the way workshopping was done.

Thanks to Engle, it was how workshopping was done. By the 1950s, almost nothing else would have existed to provide another model.

Milford was founded as a conference between peers, not as a program to teach newer writers. A decade later, in 1967, Robin Scott Wilson (who, in what appears to be an unrelated coincidence, used to work for the CIA), came and asked for assistance in starting a more beginner SFF workshop for the college campus on which he taught. He recruited much-needed help from Damon Knight and from Knight’s fellow author and by-then wife Kate Wilhelm.

None of the three had any prior knowledge about how to teach writing, other than by trying to adapt what they had been using at Milford. In Wilhelm’s Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, in which she details the very beginnings of Clarion, she confesses, “Neither Damon nor I had had teaching experience, and we were learning by trial and error what was effective and what was not.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Wilson, the only one of them who was an active professor at the time: “[A] condition of my employment was that I organize a writers’ workshop. I did not know how to do this. I did not know anybody who knew how to do this…”

… Oh, but Clarion’s methods work, an objector might point out, citing the rave reviews or the substantial number of people who credit a workshop on their ramp toward publication.

I don’t think that’s wrong. Clarion’s methods work…for the people they work for. I don’t want us not to have those methods. I want there to be more. More choice, more diversity, to nurture all types of voices and minds and pens.

My intent is not to criticize Wilson and Knight and Wilhelm for experimenting, but to emphasize the opposite—we should experiment more, in our own generation! Fifty years after Clarion’s founders built something new, it’s on us keep moving forward….

(3) WHAT WAS REVEALED DURING THE DOJ / PRH TRIAL. “A Trial Put Publishing’s Inner Workings on Display. What Did We Learn?” in the New York Times.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice and for Penguin Random House delivered their closing argument on Friday in a case that will determine whether the publisher, the country’s largest, can buy one of its rivals, Simon & Schuster.

The case, which will be decided in the fall by Judge Florence Y. Pan, focused on the effects of consolidation on publishing, an industry that has already been dramatically reshaped by mergers in recent years.

The government sued to stop the deal on antitrust grounds, saying it would diminish competition among the biggest houses and push down advances for some authors. Bertelsmann, the parent company of Penguin Random House, argued the deal would bring its supply chain and distribution muscle to a longer list of authors, to their benefit, and that the industry is large and varied, made up of many important players beyond the biggest firms. Judge Pan expressed skepticism over several of Penguin Random House’s main arguments.

Beyond the legal debate, the three-week trial offered an unusual glimpse into the world of publishing, offering observers a parade of high-profile publishing executives, agents and authors speaking frankly and on the record about how books are made.

Here is some of what we learned….

What books drive the industry’s profits?

By most measures, publishing is thriving. In any given year, hundreds of publishers in the United States release around 60,000 books. From 2012 to 2019, print book sales grew by more than 20 percent, from nine billion to 11 billion, Mr. Dohle testified. And book sales were strong during the pandemic, rising by another 20 percent from 2019 to 2021, he said.

But the trial highlighted a surprising fact: A minuscule percentage of books generate the vast majority of profits.

During their testimony, Penguin Random House executives said that just 35 percent of books the company publishes are profitable. Among the titles that make money, a very small sliver — just 4 percent — account for 60 percent of those profits.

“That’s how risky our business is,” Mr. Dohle said. “It’s the books that you don’t pay a lot for and become runaway best sellers.”

The trial offered examples of books that publishers paid a relatively small amount for, and that turned out to be a great hit. Sally Kim, the publisher of the Penguin Random House imprint Putnam, said they acquired “Where the Crawdads Sing” for “mid-six figures.” That book has gone on to sell around 15 million copies worldwide.

The issue is industrywide, and has been exacerbated by the rise of online retail, which tends to reinforce the visibility of best sellers. In 2021, fewer than one percent of the 3.2 million titles that BookScan tracked sold more than 5,000 copies.

(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1883 [By Cat Eldridge.] So today is the birthday of Austin Tappan Wright who was born in 1883. He died at the young age of forty-eight as a result of an automobile accident near Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 18, 1931. During his lifetime, he published just one work of fiction, the “1915?” short story in the Atlantic Monthly for April 1915. In 1981 in the Elsewhere anthology, Mark Arnold and Terri Windling published An Islandian Tale: The Story of Alwina.

Islandian kinds of love are noted by Ursula K. Le Guin in her Always Coming Home novel, though she only mentions three of the four kinds which are ania (desire for marriage and commitment), apia (sexual attraction) and alia (love of place and family land and lineage). The fourth is amia which is love of friends. 

Did you know that Islandia wasn’t published when he was alive? His widow edited his forty years long working obsession, err hobby, project that resulted in her twenty-eight hundred page long, well, what we would know as the Islandia novel if it had been published but it wasn’t, and following her own death in 1937, their daughter Sylvia further edited and cut that text drastically. The resulting draft, only a thousand pages long, shorn of Wright’s extensive appendices, was published in 1942, along with a pamphlet by Basil Davenport, An introduction to Islandia; its history, customs, laws, language, and geography, based on the original supplementary material

Is there a full, unedited version? Yes, there is. The complete and never-published version of Islandia can be found in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. A scan of the original typed manuscript and a detailed map of Islandia are available on the Harvard Library website.

It details an extensive Utopian fantasy about an imaginary country he called Islandia located near Antarctica (if I remember correctly) with a complex history, culture and geography, said to be in scope to Tolkien’s writings of Middle-earth. I personally do not think that is valid comparison, but it is certainly a most interesting read though nowhere near as interesting as what Tolkien created. 

Now that might have been the end of the fiction based on Wright’s extensive notes and such but along came three authorized sequels by Mark Saxton who most people know for being responsible editing the papers of Austin Wright Tappan into Islandia. With the permission of the daughter, he set his last three novels in that fictional Utopian realm. It is for these that he is now remembered. 

The first, The Islar was published in 1969 as a modern-day sequel to the original novel. The two others, The Two Kingdoms and Havoc in Islandia, one published a decade later and one three years after, both take place much earlier in the kingdom’s history. All three were written off of Wright’s extensive background notes. 

He planned on more, but the daughter died and the Estate revoked him writing more. He’s since died and no one else has showed interest in writing novels based off these writings. 

I also found by Richard N. Farmer, Islandia Revisited: A Sequel By Other Hands which he claims to be a sequel to Islandia. No, it’s not authorized, and I cannot figure why it’s still in existence.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 20, 1932 Anthony Ainley. He was the fourth actor to play the role of the Master, and the first actor to portray the Master as a recurring role since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973. He appeared in eleven stories with the Fourth through Seventh Doctors.  It is noted that he enjoyed the role so much that sources note he even stayed in character when not portraying The Master by using both the voice and laugh in social situations. (Died 2004.)
  • Born August 20, 1943 Sylvester McCoy, 79. The Seventh Doctor (my second favorite of the classic Who Doctors after Baker) and the last canon Doctor until the modern era of the official BBC Doctors when they revised canon. He also played Radagast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he’s The Old Man of Hoy in Sense8 and he voices Aezethril the Wizard in the “Endgame” episode of Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Born August 20, 1951 Greg Bear, 71. Blood Music which won a Nebula Award, and a Hugo Award at L.A. Con II (1984) in its original novelette form is a amazing read. His novels Moving Mars and Darwin’s Radio are also Nebula winners, and he has other short fiction award winners. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born August 20, 1961 Greg Egan, 61. Australian writer who does exist though he does his damnedest to avoid a digital footprint. His excellent Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and “Oceanic” garnered a Best Novella Hugo at Aussiecon Three. I assume he wasn’t there given his stance again attending Worldcons? And He’s won a lot of Ditmar Awards.
  • Born August 20, 1962 Sophie Aldred, 60. She’s Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s Companion. (By the way Doctor Who Magazine: Costume Design: Dressing the Doctor from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant read and has a nice look at her costuming.) She’s reprised the role in the Big Finish audio adventures, and she’s recently written Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End where Ace meets the Thirteenth Doctor. born 1962, aged sixty years.
  • Born August 20, 1963 Justina Vail Evans, 59. Olga Vukavitch in Seven Days, a series I thought was extremely well-crafted. She shows up in other genre undertakings such as Super ForceConanJourney to The Center of The EarthThe Adventures of SuperboyThe X-FilesCarnosaur 3: Primal Species, Conan and Highlander: The Series

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Dinosaur Comics finds the connection between Anne of Green Gables and Back to the Future.

(7) YOU BE THE JUDGE. The Onion’s satirical review of “the seven-volume Chronicles Of Buckeye” says “Underwhelming Fantasy Novel Starts With Map Of Ohio” – a map which includes John Scalzi’s hometown. The review seems to have nothing else to do with him. But do you believe in coincidences?

(8) HOLEY SHEET. CrimeReads’ Keth Roysdon talks about “ghost shows,” a now-forgotten horror-tinged vaudeville entertainment of the 1940s. “The Lost History of America’s Traveling ‘Ghost Shows’”.

…True ghost shows were an evening’s worth of entertainment. Usually starting not long before midnight, these shows were staged in a movie theater and combined a magic act (with an emphasis on horror-tinged magic like swords through comely assistants) and a live-action horror skit (Frankenstein’s monster lurching around the stage) and a blackout period (in which phosphorescent-painted “ghosts” were flown on wires over the heads of the audience) and, usually starting at midnight, a screening of a classic or not-so-classic old black-and-white horror film….

(9) BALLET NEWS. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Laura Chapelle reviews a new production of Léo Delibes’s Coppélia (which, remember, is about a doll that comes to life) by the Scottish Ballet (scottishballet.org.uk) in a version by Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright “also known as Jess and Morgs.”

Dr Coppelius, once a lonely doll maker, is recast here as a babyfaced tech guru in a turtleneck, founder and chief executive of a company called NuLife.  He gets a visit from journalist Swanhlda, who questions him about his ethical negligence.  Their conversations happen in voiceover while the dancers attempt, and don’t quite manage, to act them out credibly.  Soon enough, Swanhilda finds herself wandering the halls of NuLife, encountering the company’s many lab creatures and, at one point, turning into one.  (How?  Don’t ask.)…

….It’s lo-fi dramaturgy that trips up this Coppélia.  In the 19th-century libretto, Swannhilda had a fiance, Franz, who became obsessed with a doll.  Jess and Morgs have contrived an improbable storyline to keep him around:  the 21st-century Franz shows up with his journalist girlfriend to her work event, holding her hand throughout.  The two open and close the ballet, but their relationship has no context or substance.

(10) CROWLEY’S ADVICE ABOUT READING THIS BOOK. In the Boston Review, John Crowley reviews an sf novel from Denmark — The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century, by Olga Ravn, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken – “Science Fiction as Poetry”.

…Its premises are familiar Science Fiction ones: it centers a great spaceship, called The Six Thousand Ship, built to reach far planets around other suns, discover new beings, and return to Earth with treasure. The wondrous new planet of this book is called New Discovery. The planet’s Earth-like geography—of forests, warm valleys, regular nights and days—belies the fact that it is home to some very unearthly beings—the so-called “objects” that the crew collect to bring home to Earth. But The Employees contains nothing like a conventional narrative, and the reader must piece together most of this on their own. Instead, the focus of the book—and its unusual form—are made clear by Ravn’s subtitle: “A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century.”…

(11) MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPER. “TWO Asteroids May Have Killed Off the Dinosaurs, Scientists Say”. Mike Kennedy notes this story is behind a Popular Mechanics firewall except via the Apple News app.

A newly-discovered crater 250 miles off the coast of West Africa could have been formed by a large asteroid strike. 

The probable timing of this potential asteroid strike could make it a “sibling” of the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub asteroid hit. 

Researchers hope to investigate the crater to gain more precise clues into the timing of the likely impact. 

Scientists have long believed the Chicxulub asteroid smacked Earth near the Gulf of Mexico, causing about a 100-million-megaton blast devastating enough to erase the dinosaurs from Earth. That burst created a short-lived thermal pulse in excess of 10,000 degrees, which is certainly lethal enough to have destroyed nearby life. But the massive asteroid may have had some help from a second “sibling” asteroid, scientists say. 

More than five miles in diameter beneath the North Atlantic Ocean, the newly-discovered Nadir Crater lies about 250 miles off the coast of West Africa—and researchers believe that the asteroid that may have caused it about 66 million years ago could have been that dino-killing helper. There are two prevailing theories about this second asteroid, according to a new study, published August 17 in Science Advances: that the asteroid may have been a broken-off piece of the Chicxulub asteroid, or that it was a wholly separate asteroid from an impact cluster…. 

(12) DATLOW Q&A. Terrifying Tomes of Terror presents “Episode XIIII: Publishing Anthologies with Ellen Datlow (Special Guest Co-Host Laurel Hightower)”.

I am joined by former Guest, Laurel Hightower, as my Guest Co-Host talking to the indomitable Ellen Datlow, Award-Winning Editor of over 100 Anthologies! Ellen takes us through her career in one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve had.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

24 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/20/22 When I Scroll Alone, I Prefer To Be By Myself

  1. (5) Two major Gregs, a Master, a Doctor and his Companion! A great day for birthdays! I remember devouring Eon when it first came out, reading while waiting on line and in every other snatched moment.

  2. 1) “the company”? So, this Monster-Mania is some kind of commercial show, not an actual convention? Owned by something called Dave Hagan Enterprises, apparently.

  3. 4) I still remember the scene in Islandia where the concept of “unmeeting wishes” was discussed (most easily summed up as the “what do you want to do?”, “Oh, I don’t care, whatever you want to do” cycle that degrades into an all out argument.)

    When I run into such things now I remember the scene and break the cycle with “the important part is I want to do something with you — do you have an idea?”

    Much of the rest of the book has faded from my memory, but I love it just for that useful tip for interpersonal communication.

  4. (2) That was really interesting. The lack of pedagogical variety was interesting, particularly as nobody has any real idea of what works, you would think that would have spawned a wide variety of approaches.

  5. (2) Just put together a pedagogy reading list for myself about all the new models Kuang mentions. Even if the only thing that piece did were to make clear that the Milford model did not originate in SFF, I’d be vastly appreciative. As an escaped academic, I have lost count of the number of times SFF folks with pedantic streaks have tried to explain the Milford model as if it would be new to me and then refused to hear that (a) almost all non-genre writing workshops use the same method, and (b) the Iowa MFA people came up with it first. There’s so much other stuff SFF did do first or better than academia/academic fiction, it’s totally unnecessary to cling to the Milford method as a source of genre pride.

  6. Sylvester McCoy, 79. The Seventh Doctor (my second favorite of the classic Who Doctors after Baker)

    There were two Bakers who played the Doctor in the classic era. I assume you mean Tom, but Colin counts too.

  7. Jeff Jones asked:
    (1) Isn’t that also the Philcon hotel?
    Yes, it is. They’ve been very good to us over the years and they had a flag change to Doubletree this past year. Hopefully hotel Management will remember all the good personal contacts with Philcon Con-Comm and chalk this experience up to bad luck (and bad choices on the part of Dave Hagan Enterprises).

    Orange Mike points out:
    “the company”
    Yeah, a visit to their website reveals a string of similarly named events that look like ticketed gate shows presenting Horror-genre Media guests. That they happen in places familiar to Fandom is an unfortunate consequence of the Hospitality Business.

  8. (4) one of the many people who read Islandia because LeGuin recommended it. I gradually realized that it’s about sustainable development (among other things). Weirdly enough, I found my 1950s copy at Shakespeare & Co in Paris.

  9. 7) Map of Ohio: Isn’t Scalzi’s home town Bradford? I couldn’t find that name on the map.

  10. That sure ruins a nice little item. When I used to look at the Google Analytics map of the day’s hits the town I have in mind used to show up pretty regularly. As you note, he lives somewhere else now.

  11. 2) Huang’s article is excellent and she did a bang up job digging into the Millford farm system and its potential impacts on writers. I was a VP attendee and, while the method has been modified to be kinder/gentler than it was in the past, I can attest to the problems she points out. It was a fascinating article, and convinced me to purchase at least one of the titles she mentioned so I can learn more about different critique forms and how the workshops can adapt to work for more communities.

    I’m keeping the piece in mind for Best Related awards next year. It’s sparking important conversations among writers and editors.

  12. @JeffWarner – not to mention the fact that Fandom is, probably, sorta, their target market (though the corporate blotter probably identifies us all as “nerds, geeks and maxi-zoom dweebies”).

    Thanks for using the title!

  13. I have heard that the sequel to Chronicle of the Buckeye involves mysterious, odd creatures called “Hoosiers” that threaten the realm from the West.

  14. (2) History aside, the idea that there is one universally effective technique for teaching writing that works for everyone is as absurd as the idea that there is One Right Way to Write.

  15. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: 8/21/22 - Amazing Stories

  16. @Jeff Reynolds The book about radically different writing workshop pedagogy that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while now is Lynda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor. I bought if after reading a piece about her workshop in the New York Times Magazine, and recognizing that what she was up to was closer than standard workshop pedagogy ever got me to being the kind of teacher I had set out to be.

  17. 1) I have a crazy feeling we’re going to find out Busey’s got some kind of degenerative brain disease. He’s been nuttier than squirrel turds for a while and this inability to control impulse could be an indicatior.

    or maybe he’s just an asshole.

    12) Definitely going to check this out – anthologies fascinate me, I’ve been circulating a few short stories hoping to get a break, fingers crossed!

  18. Who’s zooming down the spaceways near Terra, blowing up everyKlingon it sees. Who’s reaching out to capture a Deltan? Everyone knows it’s V’ger.

  19. @Ben Harris: He took serious brain damage in a motorcycle wreck back in 1988.

  20. Ninja’d by P.M.M. That Busey hasn’t had a Conservatorship appointed to him is probably the most obvious example of White Male Privilege imaginable (although this latest incident may spur somebody into action).

  21. I’m a big fan of birthday boy Greg Egan! His stuff is so weird that all the New Weird writers should be jealous, but at the same time, so logical and rigorous (at least as far as I can tell) that most hard SF writers should be jealous. Admittedly, he does sometimes make my brain hurt–but in a good way. Mostly. There was one book–I don’t remember the name right now–that left me a little too befuddled, but for the most part, he does a good job at riding the line between confusing and entertaining.

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