Pixel Scroll 8/26/19 We Didn’t Start The File, It Was Always Scrolling Since The Fans Been Squeeing

(1) STAMPEDE ZONE. Fran Wilde, in one of the New York Times’ op-eds from the future, implores “Please, Stop Printing Unicorns”. Tagline: “Bioprinters are not toys, and parents shouldn’t give them to children.”

… Making bioprinting more accessible to the public — especially to children — will be likely to lead to even worse disasters than last Friday’s blockade of the Chicago I-899 skyways off-ramp by a herd of miniature unicorns. Sure, the unicorns (whose origins are unknown) were the size of ducklings, but their appearance caused several accidents and a moral quandary.

These bioprinted unicorns were living creatures with consciousness — as defined by the A.I. Treaty of 2047 — trying to find their way in the world…..

(2) NYRSF STARTS SEASON 29. The New York Review of Books’ readings open their 29th season on September 3 with Gregory Feeley and Michael Swanwick.

Gregory Feeley writes novels and stories, most in some respect science-fictional. His first novel, The Oxygen Barons, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, and his short fiction has twice been nominated for the Nebula Award. His most recent novels are the historical novel Arabian Wine, and Kentauros, a fantasia on an obscure Greek myth. He recently completed a long novel, Hamlet the Magician.

Michael Swanwick writes fantasy and science fiction of all sorts, at lengths ranging from novels to flash fiction. Over the years, he’s picked up a Nebula Award, five Hugos and the World Fantasy Award–and has the pleasant distinction of having lost more of these awards than any other writer. Tor recently published The Iron Dragon’s Mother, completing a trilogy begun with The Iron Dragon’s Daughter twenty-five years ago. That’s far longer than it took Professor Tolkien to complete his trilogy.

The event is Tuesday, September 3 at The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Avenue  (between Hoyt & Bond St.). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., event begins at 7:00 p.m.

(3) D&D FILES — THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Kotaku challenges the received wisdom: “Dungeons & Deceptions: The First D&D Players Push Back On The Legend Of Gary Gygax”.

Everybody calls Rob Kuntz last, he says. Those who want to know about the history of Dungeons & Dragons start with co-creator Gary Gygax’s kids, one of Gygax’s biographers, or D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. As they’re wrapping things up, they might get around to dialing up Kuntz, a 63-year-old game designer. And once they call him, he tells them the same thing: Everything they know about the creation of the tabletop role-playing game is, in his opinion, sorely mistaken or flat-out wrong.

“There’s a myth that’s been propagated in the industry,” Kuntz told Kotaku during an interview in February of this year. “If you keep digging into this, you’re going to come up with a story that will enrage people and expose the truth.”

(4) MIND OF THESEUS. In the August 14 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Library of Congress fellow Susan Schneider critiques the arguments of Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk that we should figure out how to download our brains into the clouds to prevent really smart AI machines from taking over our lives.

“Here is a new challenge, derived from a story by the Australian science fiction writer Greg Egan.  Imagine that an AI device called ‘a jewel’ is inserted into your brain at birth.  The jewel monitors your brain’s activity in order to learn how to mimic your thoughts and behaviours.  By th time you are an adult, it perfectly simulates your biological brain.

At some point, like other members of society, you grow confident that your brain is just redundant meatware.  So you become a ‘jewel head,’ having your brain surgically removed. The jewel is now in the driver’s seat.

Unlike in Mr Egan’s story, let us assume the jewel works perfectly, So which is you–your brain or your jewel?”

(5) CHAMBERS PRAISED. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The recent Worldcon in Dublin seems to be prompting some discussion of the literary merit of genre work. Writing in the Irish Times, John Connolly (“The future of sci-fi never looked so bright”) holds up the work of Hugo-winner Becky Chambers as an example of meritorious genre work, writing that:

In a world in which intolerance seems to be implacably on the rise, the fundamental decency at the heart of Chambers’s narratives, her depiction of a post-dystopian humanity attempting to construct a better version of itself while encountering new worlds and species, begins to seem quietly, gently radical.

(6) THE STORY OF A GENERATION. USA Today reports from D23 — “Disney unveils new ‘Rise of Skywalker’ footage, ‘Star Wars’ fans lose it over Rey’s double lightsaber”. The clips start with a walk down memory lane…  

Disney released a new poster depicting the battle, presenting it to all attendees.

Fans can now watch the pinnacle moment of the footage – a cloaked Rey pulls out what appeared to be a red, double lightsaber in battle, similar to the infamous weapon wielded by Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.”

The D23 crowd let out an immediate, overpowering cheer at the sight of the weapon’s return and proclaimed the sighting on Twitter.

It caused a disturbance in the Force which was felt well beyond the D23 walls.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 26, 1911 Otto Oscar Binder. He’s  best remembered as the co-creator with Al Plastino of Supergirl and for his many scripts for Captain Marvel Adventures and other stories involving the entire Marvel Family. He was extremely prolific in the comic book industry and is credited with writing over four thousand stories across a variety of publishers under his own name. He also wrote novels, one of which was The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker, one of the series created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby. (Died 1974.)
  • August 26, 1912 Ted Key. Of interest to us is his screenplay for The Cat from Outer Space about an apparent alien feline who has crash-landed here (starring Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan and Harry Morgan), which he followed up with a novelization. He also conceived and created Peabody’s Improbable History for producer Jay Ward’s The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. It would become the Sherman and Peabody Show. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 26, 1912 Gerald Kersh. He wrote but one genre novel, The Secret Masters, and two genre stories in his Henry the Ghost series. So why’s he here, you ask? Because Ellison declared “you will find yourself in the presence of a talent so immense and compelling, that you will understand how grateful and humble I felt merely to have been permitted to associate myself with his name as editor.” You can read his full letters here. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 26, 1938 Francine York. Her last genre performance was on Star Trek: Progeny. Never heard of It? Of course not, as it was yet another fan project. It’s amazing how many of these there are. Before that, she appeared in Mutiny in Outer SpaceSpace Probe Taurus and Astro Zombies: M3 – Cloned. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 26, 1949 Sheila E Gilbert, 70. Co-editor-in-chief and publisher of DAW Books with Elizabeth R (Betsy) Wollheim. For her work there, she has also shared the Chesley Awards for best art director with Wollheim twice, and received a solo 2016 Hugo award as best professional editor (long form). 
  • Born August 26, 1950 Annette Badland, 69. She is best known for her role as Margaret Blaine on Doctor Who where she was taken over by Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day, a Slitheen. This happened during “Aliens of London” and “World War Three” during the Era of the Ninth Doctor. Her story would conclude in “Boom Town”. 
  • Born August 26, 1970 Melissa McCarthy, 49. Yes, I know she was in the rebooted Ghostbusters. Fanboys across the net are still wetting their pants about that film. I’m more interested in Super Intelligence in which she is playing a character that has an AI who has decided to take over her life. It reminds me somewhat of Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” premise. It will be released on December 20 of this year.  (And we are not talking about her The Happytime Murders.)
  • Born August 26, 1980 Chris Pine, 39. James T. Kirk in the Star Trek reboot series. He also plays Steve Trevor in both Wonder Woman films and Dr. Alexander Murry in A Wrinkle in Time. He’s also Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods. Finally, he voices Peter Parker / Ultimate Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.


(9) LOOKS LIKE DEATH (EXTREMELY) WARMED OVER. Delish says“Cheetos Is Rumored To Be Bringing Back Its ‘Bag Of Bones’ Snacks For Halloween” in Flamin’ Hot and White Cheddar flavors.

If you haven’t had a chance to try this snack yet, they’re basically Cheetos puffs that are shaped into various parts of a skeleton like the head, ribcage, hands, and bones. This means that besides being as delicious as a classic Cheeto, you can also build spooky skeletons with your food if you can resist scarfing down the whole bag for a while.

.(10) LAUNCHING FROM THE ANTIPODES. Ars Technica invites readers “Behind the scenes at Earth’s most beautiful rocket launch site” – lots of photos.

Not a blade of grass longer than the rest, a red “Remove Before Flight” tag unchecked, or a single Kiwi (be it bird or engineer) out of place: Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex-1 looks like an industry brochure come to life (better in fact). Located at the southern tip of the picturesque Mahia Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, LC-1 is currently the only operational Rocket Lab launch site where the Electron vehicle—Rocket Lab’s low-cost small satellite launch vehicle—takes flight.

Rocket Lab just took advantage of the latest window at LC-1 on August 19. But back in December 2018, fellow rocket launch photographer Brady Kenniston had the exclusive opportunity to photograph Rocket Lab’s first NASA mission, ElaNa-19, from this private launch site. This launch was going to be Rocket Lab’s most important mission to date because, as the leader in the small satellite industry, they had an opportunity to show NASA (and the world) what they are made of. If successful, it could lead to future business from other small satellites in need of a ride to space—not to mention, the company would earn the endorsement of NASA Launch Services as an eligible vehicle to fly future NASA small-satellite science payloads.

(11) SO FAR, SO GOOD. Joe Sherry, Adri Joy, and Paul Weimer identify the high points of 2019 in “Blogtable: Best of the Year So Far” at Nerds of a Feather.

Joe: We’re a little more than seven months into what is shaping up to be an absolute stellar year for science fiction and fantasy fiction and I wanted to check in with the two of you to see what you’ve been reading and what has stood out in a year of excellence.

Adri: Indeed! well for starters I lost my heart in the time war…

Paul: I, too, lost my heart in the Time War. Among many other places, but having recently finished that, it is strongly on my mind. I am Team Blue, Adri, how about you?

(12) FEEDBACK. Heinlein is both an important influence on genre history and in the regard of author Chris Nuttall, who goes deep into Farah Mendlesohn’s book in “Review: The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein”. Nuttall ends a substantial discussion by saying —

Heinlein was not fond of critics, not entirely without reason. Even in his day, a good critic could be a wonder – and a bad one a nightmare. But I think he might have liked this book – and, as Heinlein remains popular, we should ask ourselves why. You may not agree with everything in this book, but it will make you think. Mendlesohn treats Heinlein as what he was, a man. Not an angel, or a demon, but a man. An influential man, but a man nonetheless.

(13) SMILE! Guess what this scene made Kevin Standlee think of —  

(Now imagine, what if somebody used X-ray film?)

(14) CHALLENGES IN PRODUCING HEINLEIN BOOK. Shahid Mahmud of Arc Manor Publishers sent out an update about Phoenix Pick’s Heinlein novel The Pursuit of the Pankera.

…As many of you are aware from my previous emails, this is the parallel text to The Number of the Beast. 

It is, effectively, a parallel book about parallel universes.

We had originally attempted to release the book before Christmas, but some production issues have delayed the release to Sprint/Summer of 2020.

These include sorting out some fairly intricate details discussed in the book. For example (for those of you dying to see what it is that we publishers actually do), here are a few internal excerpts between editors working on various aspects of the book:

“The planet-numbering system may be off in certain parts of the story. At the beginning of the story (and in real life) we live on planet Earth. In the course of the story, there is time travel, and that’s where it gets confusing… the story refers to both Earth-One and Earth-Zero. There is a detailed explanation of the numbering system (see pg. 312) wherein “Earth-Zero is so designated because Dr. Jacob Burroughs was born on that planet…”

However, in other parts of the book, Earth-One is referred to as the characters’ home planet.”


“After discussion with Patrick, I’ve settled on the following conventions: x-axis (hyphenated, lowercase, no italics) but axis x (no hyphen, lowercase, italic single letter). In the manuscript, of course, the italic letter would be underlined rather than set italic. The letters tau and teh remain in the Latin alphabet (rather than Greek or Cyrillic) and are lowercase but not set italic. When used with the word “axis” (tau-axis) they are hyphenated.”

These are the little details that keep us Publishers up at night 🙂

But alas, given a book of this magnitude and size (this is a BIG book, over 185,000 words) all this takes time.

Hence the delay.

Mahmud says the ebook will be priced at $9.99 at launch, but they will run a Kickstarter beginning September 4 to help pay for production, which will allow people to buy the ebook for just $7.00. And there will be other rewards available.

(15) THE NEXT BIG THING. Best Fanzine Hugo winner Lady Business tweeted a get-acquainted thread for new followers (starts here) which closes with this appeal –

OMG, what a great idea, nominating business meeting agenda items in Best Related Works! Chris Barkley will be so excited (Best Translated Novel Hugo Category Proposed)! Am I right or am I right?

(16) NOT A GOOD IDEA. Just because Trump doesn’t know this it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t: “Nuclear weapons and hurricanes don’t mix, NOAA advises”.

Using nuclear weapons to destroy hurricanes is not a good idea, a US scientific agency has said, following reports that President Donald Trump wanted to explore the option.

The Axios news website said Mr Trump had asked several national security officials about the possibility.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the results would be “devastating”.

Mr Trump has denied making the suggestion.

Hurricanes typically affect the US east coast, often causing serious damage.

It’s not the first time the idea has been considered.

Following reports of Mr Trump’s suggestion, the hashtag #ThatsHowTheApocalyseStarted has been trending on Twitter.

What effect would nuking a hurricane have?

Mr Trump asked why the US couldn’t drop a bomb into the eye of the storm to stop it from making landfall, news site Axios said.

The NOAA says that using nuclear weapons on a hurricane “might not even alter the storm” and the “radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas”.

(17) A VOLCANO SPEAKS. There was smoke on the water. Then this: “Vast ‘pumice raft’ found drifting through Pacific Ocean”. Opinions vary on whether it will reach Australia or break up, and on how likely it is to be helpful — “Giant Pumice Raft Floating Toward Australia Could Help Replenish Great Barrier Reef”:

A vast “raft” of volcanic rocks stretching over 150 sq km (93 sq miles) is drifting through the Pacific Ocean, scientists say.

The sea of pumice – the size of 20,000 football fields – was first reported by Australian sailors earlier this month.

Experts say the mass likely came from an underwater volcano near Tonga which erupted around 7 August according to satellite images.

Sailors have been warned to stay clear of the potential hazard.

Pumice is a lightweight, bubble-rich rock that can float in water. It is produced when magma is cooled rapidly.

(18) NOT COKE. “World of Warcraft Classic: Hit game goes back to basics” – BBC has the story.

The hit video game World of Warcraft (WoW) is going back to basics with the launch of WoW Classic this evening.

First released in 2004, the online multi-player game has evolved and changed dramatically over the years.

Many players had asked developer Blizzard Entertainment to revive the original version of the game, known as “classic” or “vanilla” WoW.

While not identical to the original, WoW Classic will replicate a majority of the features from the first game.

World of Warcraft is a fantasy game in which players roam the virtual world, fighting monsters and completing quests.

Blizzard said some players who had been given early access to the classic version – which is released at 23:00 BST on Monday – mistakenly thought some of the original features were errors.

(19) FASTER THAN A PET ROCK. A BBC video shows “Gloucestershire man walks tortoise to the pub every day”. Doesn’t move as slow as you might think…

A Gloucestershire man has started walking Nancy Drew the tortoise to the pub and around town.

Jason Smith says the African sulcata tortoise, which is actually male, needs to burn off energy, as in the wild he would ordinarily be looking for a mate at this time of year.

The creature has become famous around Tewkesbury, with people loving to stop and say hello.

(20) CRASH LANDING. “Natalie Portman rockets toward madness in mind-bending ‘Lucy in the Sky’ trailer” Yahoo! Entertainment cues it up.

Natalie Portman blasts off through the wildest reaches of the universe in the new trailer for Lucy in the Sky.

Legion creator Noah Hawley’s feature directorial debut stars the Oscar-winning actress as Lucy Cola, a loose adaptation of real-life astronaut Lisa Nowak, who, after returning to earth from a length mission to space, began an obsessive affair with a coworker….

[Thanks to Jim Freund, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Errolwi, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/26/19 We Didn’t Start The File, It Was Always Scrolling Since The Fans Been Squeeing

  1. (1) A mashup of bioprinted unicorns with Strossian unicorns would be truly terrifying.

  2. (18) I don’t get the appeal of vanilla WoW. I can understand wanting to recreate the excitement of discovering a MMO but not wanting to hit the undo button on all the subtle little graphics boosts and stat tweaks. (Although if they rereleased classic Star Wars Galaxies I’d be tempted.)

    Minor Meredith momentito: the first two books of my trilogy are on sale for 99 cents this week as I celebrate getting a new day job. Yay, I don’t have to declare royalties against my unemployment checks anymore, I can step up my hustle. I’ll just note that one of the dangerous encounters (in chapter six) involves a bioengineered unicorn that got surrendered to an animal shelter after it went through puberty and transformed into an angry stallion with a constant migraine. Parents, if you’re going to let your kids make unicorns, definitely perform some supervision.

  3. (10) LAUNCHING FROM THE ANTIPODES: Important safety tip, please don’t do like the author did and arrive in Auckland after being awake for 33 hours then drive yourself for seven hours. It’s one of the reasons for a poor accident rate on e.g. the road to Waitomo Caves.

  4. Repeating from the tail end of last scroll:

    So (following recs from a bunch of people here) I’m reading Gareth Powell’s Embers of War. I’ve reached the part where we learn that gur cbrg ynql vf npghnyyl n trabpvqny jne pevzvany ba gur eha. Nz V tbvat gb or rkcrpgrq gb yvxr be flzcnguvmr jvgu guvf punenpgre? Orpnhfr JBJ, gung jvyy or n uneq fryy.

  5. @Charon Dunn
    I don’t really get the long-term appeal of it either. For me, it’s about going back & seeing the original version of the WOW world (pre-Cataclysm), mixed with a bit of nostalgia. I plan on leveling a character up to 60, but probably won’t stick around after that.

  6. (15)

    <sigh>, really?

    This is as bad as Locus Magazine trying to get themselves nominated for Best Related Work.

    Could we just not do the whole “let me figure out just how many far-fetched ways I can try to get myself nominated for a Hugo” thing? Please??? 😐

  7. WoW Classic’s longevity will likely succeed or fail on whether they manage to resurrect the social scene, and if they do, whether that’s enough of a draw to make up for the increased time investment* necessary over the modern game. I know a lot of players who miss the sociability of the earlier game, but also, most of them aren’t students anymore, and most of them have started families or demanding careers (or both). Certainly the launch has been more of a success than expected, though.

    (There’s also the possibility of Classic-style-but-new content being introduced in the longterm, which is an interesting idea.)

    *Note I do not say difficulty. A fair number of Classic proponents have a habit of conflating time consuming with challenging. They are, quite obviously, not the same thing.

  8. I only played the absolute first version and stopped cold turkey when I found it was too addictive to me. I think I was level 59 then, had a few days left to 60.

  9. I must not scroll.
    Scrolling is the file-killer.
    Scrolling is the little-godstalk that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my scroll.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the scroll has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. Fifth!

  10. @ Rick – nice!

    I think I was lucky with WoW. It came out around the time I’d moved from PC to console gaming, so I never played it. If I did, I think I would have been badly hooked.

  11. JJ:

    “Could we just not do the whole “let me figure out just how many far-fetched ways I can try to get myself nominated for a Hugo” thing? Please??? “

    That comment is just begging for an award nomination.

  12. (7) There are a lot more Gerald Kersh sfnal stories than that.

    “Frozen Beauty” (cryogenics)
    “The Unsafe Deposit Box” (something or other about special explosives)
    “Whatever Happened to Corporal Cuckoo?” (the eternal unkillable soldier)
    “Voices in the Dust of Annan” (akin to Ozymandias)
    “The Brighton Monster” (a survivor of Hiroshima thrown out of time)
    “Men Without Bones” (who are the real original inhabitants of Earth?)
    “Terribly Wild Flowers”
    “Carnival on the Downs” (ghost story)

    are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Stories which are closer to the mystery/thriller genre but which have grotesque or absurd themes and so wouldn’t look out of place in either an Alfred Hitchcock antho or makeweight in a F&Sf issue include:

    “The Extraordinarily Horrible Dummy” (ventriloquist possessed by his dummy)
    The Queen of Pig Island (sui – or sooooey – generis)
    “The Secret of the Bottle” / The Oxoxoco Bottle (revelations about Ambrose Bierce)
    “A Lucky Day for the Boar” (can a prisoner be forcibly aged)

  13. RE: Challenging vs time consuming is something a lot of games don’t quite understand. For a lot of games, the “grind” is quite real

  14. In re “time-consuming vs challenging”…

    Things that are challenging and difficult are often time-consuming, because there’s a steep hill of learning to climb in order to succeed sufficiently frequently.

    If one has been trained to think that “time-consuming” is the only metric that is worth looking at when it comes to “challenging and difficult”, then it is (I suppose) easy to think that just because something consumes a lot of time, it must be challenging and difficult (and, one presumes, thus worthy of doing).

    Hilariously, there’s also a third twist, in that “time-consuming” is a challenge-and-difficulty that is entirely divorced from the underlying “is this challenging and difficult”, because time is a limited commodity (we all get at most one second per second, I would have thought) and so every second spent pursuing one thing is harder to spend on another thing.

    Somewhere in this not-yet-a-full-digression, there’s space for full-on Stephensonesque digression on the may-involve-money action economy of (some) web and mobile games, but this comment box was too small to contain it.

  15. @7: I never knew O. O. Binder shared responsibility for Supergirl — how often were creators cited in older comics? — but I’ve long known of writer “Eando Binder” (originally Earl and Otto, but Wikipedia says Otto wrote later works under that name by himself).

    @14: I suppose there will be a lot of Heinlein fans lining up for this, but Number of the Beast was such a mess of self-indulgence that I’d be surprised if a parallel work were worth reading.

    @Matthew Davis: I’ve read at least two of those (courtesy of Merril’s anthologies) and agree that they’re genre; ISFDB, which has a separate section for non-genre short fiction, lists over a hundred shorts.

  16. #4:
    Some comments on that were on Wondermark a month or so back.

    In the “What If?” section of xkcd, Short Answer Section II, Randall Monroe commented over a year ago “It turns out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—the agency which runs the National Hurricane Center—gets [this question] a lot, too. In fact, they’re asked about it so often that they’ve published a response.”

    Dark Legacy Comics had a five-comic sequence called Patchwork which involved an invention that undid patches getting button-spammed, and having to exploit the unfixed bugs of the original WoW to get the components needed to fix the machine.

  17. (14) It seems to me that the publisher has been trying a little too hard to convince potential buyers that the Heinlein work they intend to offer is an “alternative” or “parallel” version of The Number of the Beast, and not simply an earlier, abandoned version.

    The original files, notes, hand edits, etc. are at the online Heinlein archives for anyone to download and peruse, for $3: http://heinleinarchives.net/upload/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=393.

  18. @Meredith: That about sums it up for me. If I had the schedule flexibility I had back in college I’d be a lot more interested, but I really do not want to put the necessary time investment into endgame content at this point. I’ve got too many more interesting things to do and not enough hours in the day to do them.

    Also there’s no way to really recapture the sense of wonder that teenage me felt zoning into, say, Molten Core for the first time. It’s a bit less exciting when I’ve soloed the place a couple expansions later.

    It strikes me as the kind of thing that would be a lot more fun if one was levelling with friends.


  19. Offering a classic version of WoW is not going to lure me back. Players have been pleading for this since the first expansion came out, but I see no reason to start grinding for (herbs/XP/gold/etc) again.

  20. (15)

    I like Lady Business and greatly support Ira’s push for a Best Game category and even I have to wince, sorry.

  21. gottacook says It seems to me that the publisher has been trying a little too hard to convince potential buyers that the Heinlein work they intend to offer is an “alternative” or “parallel” version of The Number of the Beast, and not simply an earlier, abandoned version.

    I’m still not convinced that they’ve permission to actually release their version. When I see it for sale, I will believe it exists. I am very Interested in what they think they’ve found but I’ve bookmarked the Heinlein Archive depository noted above and may just pay three bucks for the raw files and see what’s there instead.

  22. Hampus Eckerman: That comment is just begging for an award nomination.

    An unfortunate legacy of the Puppies is that they left an operating blueprint for non-Puppies who are also willing to engage in shameless, self-serving self-promotion to get themselves Hugo Awards.

    I suppose it was only a matter of time in this day and age of the Internet, but it still makes me sad. 😐

  23. (4) I remember reading a Ken Liu story that addressed a similar question. People could make holograms of themselves or others called “simulacra.” The main character had made one of, I think, his deceased daughter. In the grand tradition of sci-fi AIs, it gradually started to act in ways that deviated from its original programming, raising the question of whether it was becoming sentient. But because it was made from the brain waves of a person, there’s the additional question of “If it is sentient, who is it?” If a hologram of Jane gains sentience, is it Jane? Is it a clone of Jane? Is it Jane’s identical twin?

  24. @Nina —

    If a hologram of Jane gains sentience, is it Jane? Is it a clone of Jane? Is it Jane’s identical twin?

    No, It Isn’t Jane!!!!!!!!

    (Sorry, personal pet peeve. 😉 )

    It’s not a clone or an identical twin, either, because of the tiny issue of no DNA. It’s just a copy of some brainwaves.

    (Incidentally, if anyone ever wants to read stories based on this trope done WELL, try the Bobiverse books. Lots of fun, especially book 1.)

  25. I would find a story in which copies of brainwaves were referred to as clones plausible. Seems a reasonable projection of language. e.g. you can clone the data on a computer drive to a new drive, which is likely a different design of hardware. Geeks might have more specific jargon 🙂

  26. (15) I still disagree with a need for a gaming category in the Hugos, especially if it’s combined video/analog and especially one for just video games. I love video games but there’s literally hundreds of awards out there already and a Video Game Hugo just gets added to that noise without really contributing anything meaningful. A waffly 60-page report on a non-viable award is also not something I think is worthy of a Hugo, either.

  27. KasaObake:

    I am personally for removing the Graphic Novel Hugo for the same reason. It is my belief that the prestige of the Hugo’s doesn’t only come from age, but also from the willingness to look for and seek out new and interesting works of SFF. I see no such interest in any way in the stagnant GN category with the same few things being nominated year after year.

  28. Otto Binder also wrote the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes, starting the creation of one of DC’s most popular and most varied super teams.

  29. If we gave out Hugos because of prestige, we really should quit giving them out ASAP. The Hugos is an award that the sf community gives out to things we love, and that should be enough.

    I think a better question would be if we as a community think we can do a good job long-term in giving out the award, if there are enough award-worthy things each year, and if we love the specific thing enough to want to give out an award there.

  30. Karl-Johan Norén: If we gave out Hugos because of prestige, we really should quit giving them out ASAP. The Hugos is an award that the sf community gives out to things we love, and that should be enough.

    We give them out for exactly the reason you stated, not for prestige. Yet the Hugo Award has earned prestige because Worldcon members have, over the decades, done such a good job of identifying quality works (along with occasional mediocre works and pieces of crap).

    I agree with Hampus that the Graphic Novel category has for the most part turned into an annual list of The Usual Suspects rather than identifying innovative works — probably more so than any other category — which I think is a shame.

  31. Karl-Johan Norén:

    “I think a better question would be if we as a community think we can do a good job long-term in giving out the award, if there are enough award-worthy things each year…

    Yes, that is a much better wording than mine. And I do not think we do a good job with regards to Graphic Novels. There are absolutely enough award-worthy things to nominate, but are they really the exact same series every year, just updating the volume number? It is as if nominating every new Jim Butcher novel.

    I do think there are categories where people really do a serious work. Write reviews, make spreadsheets over candidates, discuss books and forth, share excitement, try to find new things. Where there is curiosity and enthusiasm.

    And other categories where there people more think at the end of the year: “Did I read or watch anything at all?”. I.e, the difference between being active in trying to find the best or being passive and hoping something of the usal was good enough.

  32. If I got my will, and there is no chance in hell for that, I would add two more rules to the WSFS constitution:

    1) No new Hugo awards can be voted for by the Business Meeting unless they’ve had a trial run in the last five fears.
    2) The limit of permanent Hugo Award categories shall be limited to at most 20. For any new award proposal, an old category has to be removed first.

    I want people to really, really think before they add new categories. Because there is such thing as voting fatigue,there is a limit to how long the Hugo ceremony can be and there will always come new mediums with new technology.

    My own idea would be to separate Best Related Work in two categories:

    1) Best academic or documentary work.
    2) Best fan endeavour.

    But I’m not happy with just adding and adding and adding categories. I’d be happy with a limit that forced as to think not only about what would be possible to vote for, but instead of what people would cause real enthusiasm, happiness or service for the community as a whole.

  33. @ Hampus Eckerman:

    I would prefer your 1 as “no new Hugo Awards can be ratified by the Business Meeting without a trial run in the last 5 years”, as having the proposed final wording ready would be useful. There are also some precedents (this is what happened to Best Series, trial run and ratification both at WorldCon 75).

  34. @Hampus: separating BRW along those lines sounds like trouble; the administrator will be damned if they don’t reassign nominations according to various people’s evaluations, and damned if they do. (Note by contrast that current assignments depend largely on quantifiable aspects.) I’m also wondering how many fan-related nominations there would be; IIRC, Nicholas Whyte was pointing out that at least one fan category got barely enough nominations (out of the total number of nomination ballots received) to be on the ballot at all. We’re better off now than with the original rules, in which I recall a circulation limit almost guaranteeing that most Worldcon members (and some large fraction of Hugo voters) would have to beg or borrow copies to evaluate, but ISTM that increasing the number of fan categories is not a great idea.

    wrt Graphic Novel: My reaction (in the few years I was voting since GN was established) was that the nominations involved arbitrarily cut-off work (e.g., whatever would fit in physical volume) rather than anything like a bounded story; the works were apparently designed to be endlessly sequential. Sandman is one of the few counter-examples I’ve seen, but that ended decades ago; some of the first-volume examples I’ve seen recently were more contained, but suffered from being setups (cf the long first episode of ST:TNG) rather than substantial stories. wrt the usual-suspects problem, I wonder how vigorously a rule preventing a given strip from being nominated twice in a row would be shouted down?

  35. @Hampus Eckerman: on the one hand it’s thanks to the Hugos that I started reading Saga and Monstress, but on the other we do seem to see largely the same titles thanks to release scheduling for comics volumes.it needs an overhaul if not removing entirely.

    Games will be a similar story: big franchises will have an advantage because of their built in fanbases. How are indie games going to compete with, eg, new Pokemon or Fire Emblem or a remaster of a beloved classic like Link’s Awakening? Or the ports of Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9 , 10, 10-2 and 12 (I know that 9 at least has substantive changes that greatly affect the pacing, making it eligible again under her proposed rules.)

    Add to that DLC additions, often with new story content being produced towards the end of the DLC schedule for a game. Fire Emblem, for example, has new story content scheduled for April 2020, presumably making it eligible again the following year.

    Just as a note – that’s just stuff that’s coming out on a single console this year, the Nintendo Switch. It’s not even a complete list of big releases on this one console. I’m not following news on releases on Xbox or PS4 this year because I don’t have access to those consoles. (Another problem with a Video Game Hugo.)

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