Pixel Scroll 8/27/18 Pixelbot Murderscrolls

(1) ON THE GROUND AT WORLDCON 76. Raven Oak’s trip report about Worldcon 76 includes a fun photo of astronaut Kjell Lindgren posing with fans costumed (so I believe) as the GalaxyQuest alien crew members.

Kjell thanked me and said he was an astronaut because of science fiction authors like me. He read lots of sci-fi books as a kid, which made him dream of going into space. He signed the back of one of my coloring book pages, the one featuring Bay-zar from my sci-fi novella Class-M Exile.

Lots of good photos of hall costumes, too.

(2) RETRO HUGOS OF 1943. Chair Kevin Roche sent along a better photo of the Retro-Hugo award base he designed for Worldcon 76.

The block is solid cherry, in honor of the orchards once common in San Jose (cherries were still one of the top cash crops in the Valley of Heart’s Delight in the early 40s).  The backplane is a laser-etched image I created of our SJ Galactic Tower, which is itself an homage to the historic San Jose Electric Tower, erected in 1881 and making San Jose the first electrified downtown west of the Rockies (the historic tower, alas, collapsed in 1915. I have photos from 1910 showing buses driving under the tower where it stood over the intersection of Market and Santa Clara Streets.)

(3) CHILDHOOD’S BEGINNING. James Davis Nicoll gives his opinions about “SF Books That Did Not Belong in the Kids’ Section of the Library” at Tor.com. He’s talking about his childhood, however, not whatever the current situation may be.

How Norman Spinrad’s The Men in the Jungle, which features drugs, violence, and infanticide, made it into the children’s section, I don’t know. Is there anything by Spinrad that is child-friendly? That was indeed a traumatizing book to encounter when I was prepared for something more along the lines of Blast-off at Woomera. If I think about that Spinrad book now (even though I am older and somewhat hardened) I still feel queasy.

(4) CAMPAIGN TRAIL WOES. Congressional candidate Brianna Wu was quoted in the New York Times campaign coverage: “For Female Candidates, Harassment and Threats Come Every Day”.

A different kind of normalization happens at the other end of the spectrum, where the harassment is so vicious and constant that it overwhelms the ability to react.

As an independent video game developer in 2014, Brianna Wu was the subject of abuse during GamerGate, when women involved in gaming were targeted for harassment.

Now a Democrat running for Congress in Massachusetts, Ms. Wu, 41, said death and rape threats came so routinely that she had ceased to feel much in response. Even when people threw objects through her window. Even when they vandalized her husband’s car. Even when they emailed paparazzi-like photos of her in her own home.

“I often look at it and I’m like: ‘I know I should be feeling something right now. I know I should be feeling scared or angry or stressed.’ And it’s at a point where I can’t feel anything anymore,” Ms. Wu said. “It’s almost like fear is a muscle that is so overtaxed, it can just do nothing else in my body.”

Many said it was a point of principle not to be intimidated into silence. Others said their political ideals were simply more important.

“For good reason, there’s never any shortage of telling stories about women being harassed on the campaign trail,” Ms. Wu said. “But I cannot communicate to you strongly enough: Over all, this job is fun. This job is exhausting, but this job is amazing.”

(5) ANOTHER BORDER ISSUE. Some artists on their way to a Dungeons & Dragons concept push were stopped from entering the US because their Electronic System for Travel Authorization waiver was not accepted as they expected.

According to the government website about the ESTA program –

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions.

(6) VOTING WISDOM. Brandon Sanderson delivers a brief conreport and some classy advice in “Worldcon Wrap-up and Dragon Awards”.

The Hugo Awards ceremony was a delight. We didn’t win the Best Series award, but to be honest, at only three books into the Stormlight series it might have been a little preemptive to give it any awards. We’ll see how things go as the series progresses. Many congrats to Lois McMaster Bujold (the winner), who is a favorite around the Dragonsteel offices. She’s a fantastic writer, well worthy of the award.

Oathbringer still has one shot at an award, the Dragon Award, given out at Dragon Con. This is a newer award, one I’m not as familiar with, but man…the award itself is gorgeous. (Seriously, you guys should go have a look at the thing.)

…As always, however, I strongly urge you to be a thoughtful voter when it comes to awards. Don’t vote for Oathbringer just because I wrote it—only do so if you think this book, in specific, deserves the award. And there are some other excellent nominees, so if you enjoyed one of those more, then vote for it!

(7) IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD. P.N. Elrod hopes people can help, especially those who like Elrod’s Patreon and Facebook entertainment.

Crap. Having a blubbing panic meltdown. In a month my rent goes up by 63 bucks. At this point I don’t have even half the rent for September. I’m facing the ugly reality of eviction.

The complex offered to get me into a different apartment with slightly lower rent, but that means moving. (Bureaucracy Stuff.) I can’t afford that, either, and most of all, I do not have the strength or mobility to move again. I just don’t. I am sick. I am tired.

The ONLY thing I can think of at this point to prevent that is to increase subscriptions to my Patreon page. Right now, that income isn’t enough to cover my bills, so some go unpaid until and unless I sell books from my library.

(8) VOX FEATURES JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin guested on the latest episode of Vox’s podcast The Ezra Klein Show. You can access it at “N.K. Jemisin recommends stories from fellow groundbreaking sci-fi authors” — which lists two recommendations from her:

While Jemisin finds it hard to recommend books, she does offer up two recommendations from fellow award-winning female science fiction authors.

1) The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells
Jemisin is “a giant fan” of Martha Wells’s Murderbot series, an “adorable little set of almost old-school science fiction.” The titular Murderbot is a rogue cyborg who works tirelessly to protect humans from themselves, though it would rather be watching soap operas. The latest novella in the series, Exit Strategy, will be released on October 2.

2) Unexpected Stories by Octavia Butler
Groundbreaking science fiction author Octavia Butler died in 2006, but two of her stories were found posthumously and published as an e-book. One of the stories in the volume, “Childfinder,” was commissioned by writer Harlan Ellison to be included in a never-published anthology.

The podcast is available direct from Apple iTunes as well as many other sources.

(9) BALL OBIT. K.C. Ball died of a fatal heart attack on August 26 reports the SFWA Blog: “In Memoriam: K.C. Ball”.

…Ball attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2010 and Launch Pad in 2011.  She served as the publisher and editor of 10Flash Quarterly, an on-line flash fiction magazine.  She also won the Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writer Award….

Cat Rambo’s tribute is here.

And now she’s gone, fallen to another heart attack, and she never really got the chance to “break out” the way many writers do, which is through hard work, and soldiering on through rejection, and most of all playing the long game. If you want to read some of her kick-ass work, here’s the collection I edited, Snapshots from a Black Hole and Other Oddities.

I’m so sorry not to able to hear your voice any more, K.C. I hope your journey continues on, and that it’s as marvelous as you were.


  • Born August 27 – Frank Kelly Freas, who won many Best Professional Artist Hugos, and drew Mad Magazine covers once upon a time.

[compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 27, 1929 – Ira Levin. Author of many novels including The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby which of course became films.
  • Born August 27 – Paul Reubens, 66. Genre work includes GothamBatman:The Brave and the Bold, Tron: Uprising Star Wars Rebels and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Is Pee-wee’s Playhouse genre?
  • Born August 27 – Alex PenaVega 30. Spy Kids film franchise and apparently a Spy Kids tv series as well, also The Tomorrow People, Sin City: A Dame To Live For and The Clockwork Girl, an animated film where love conquers all differences.


(12) COLSON WHITEHEAD HONORED. “Writers with ties to Brooklyn named NYS author and poet” – the Brooklyn Eagle has the story.

Two renowned writers with Brooklyn ties have been appointed as the state’s official author and poet by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Colson Whitehead, Brooklyn resident for more than a dozen years, has been named New York’s 12th state author.

Alicia Ostriker, born in Brooklyn, has been named New York’s 11th state poet. Cuomo said the award recognizes their work “and the impact it has had on the people of New York and beyond.”

During their two-year terms the state laureates promote and encourage fiction writing and poetry throughout New York by giving public readings and talks.

(13) GATEKEEPING. I haven’t spent much time covering its peregrinations here, but in Camestros Felapton’s view, “’Comicsgate’ is the crappiest ‘gate’”.

The main focus of the campaign has actually been crowd-funding for comics by a rightwing creator, not all of whom use the term “Comicsgate” (Vox Day, for example, has been a bit more equivocal about the term because he thinks all these people should be joining his petty empire). So we have a ‘campaign’ that is just a collaboration of outrage marketing techniques following the standard Scrappy-Doo model: be as loud and as obnoxious as possible and then when people react, claim to be being persecuted.

(14) RAH IN CONTEXT. Charles Stross has a whole rant about what RAH was actually about, versus what his emulators seem to think he was about: “Dread of Heinleinism”.

…But here’s the thing: as often as not, when you pick up a Heinlein tribute novel by a male boomer author, you’re getting a classic example of the second artist effect.

Heinlein, when he wasn’t cranking out 50K word short tie-in novels for the Boy Scouts of America, was actually trying to write about topics for which he (as a straight white male Californian who grew up from 1907-1930) had no developed vocabulary because such things simply weren’t talked about in Polite Society. Unlike most of his peers, he at least tried to look outside the box he grew up in. (A naturist and member of the Free Love movement in the 1920s, he hung out with Thelemites back when they were beyond the pale, and was considered too politically subversive to be called up for active duty in the US Navy during WW2.) But when he tried to look too far outside his zone of enculturation, Heinlein often got things horribly wrong. Writing before second-wave feminism (never mind third- or fourth-), he ended up producing Podkayne of Mars. Trying to examine the systemic racism of mid-20th century US society without being plugged into the internal dialog of the civil rights movement resulted in the execrable Farnham’s Freehold. But at least he was trying to engage, unlike many of his contemporaries (the cohort of authors fostered by John W. Campbell, SF editor extraordinaire and all-around horrible bigot). And sometimes he nailed his targets: “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” as an attack on colonialism, for example (alas, it has mostly been claimed by the libertarian right), “Starship Troopers” with its slyly embedded messages that racial integration is the future and women are allowed to be starship captains (think how subversive this was in the mid-to-late 1950s when he was writing it).

(15) ROCKET MAN. In the wake of yesterday’s report that 10% of Hugo novel winners are named Robert, and someone else’s observation that being named Robinson helped, too, Soon Lee composed this filk:

So here’s to you Robert Robinson
Hugo loves you more than you will know,
Wo wo wo
Awards you heaps Robert Robinson
Rockets coming out your ears all day
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey

Then Cath could only exorcise the earworm by finishing the verse –

Hide your rockets in the hiding place where no cat ever goes
Put them on your bookcase with your cupcakes
It’s a little secret just the Robinsons’ affair
Most of all you’ve got to hide it from the pups

Sitting in the green room on a Sunday afternoon
Feasting from the finalists’ cheese plate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When Hugo’s got to choose
There’s no way that you can lose

Where have you gone, John Picacio
A Worldcon turns its lonely eyes to you
Wu wu wu
What’s that you say, Robert Robinson?
Diversity shall never go away

(16) SUBTRACTION. Robert/Rob/Bob may be a statistically lucky name for a Hugo nominee, however, the odds won’t soon be improving in the astronaut program. Ars Technica has the info that, “For the first time in 50 years, a NASA astronaut candidate has resigned” — one of a class of 12:

A little more than a year ago, NASA introduced its newest class of 12 astronaut candidates. These talented men and women were chosen from a deep pool of 18,300 applicants, and after two years of training they were to join the space agency’s corps for possible assignment on missions to the International Space Station, lunar orbit, or possibly the surface of the Moon.

However, one of those 12 astronauts, Robb Kulin, will not be among them. On Monday, NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean confirmed to Ars that Kulin had resigned his employment at NASA, effective August 31, “for personal reasons.”

(17) NAUGHTY GOOGLE. Fingerpointing: “Google is irresponsible claims Fortnite’s chief in bug row”. “Bug row” – there’s the Queen’s English for you.

The leader of the firm behind the hit game Fortnite has accused Google of being “irresponsible” in the way it revealed a flaw affecting the Android version of the title.

On Friday, Google made public that hackers could hijack the game’s installation software to load malware.

The installer is needed because Epic Games has bypassed Google’s app store to avoid giving it a cut of sales.

Epic’s chief executive said Google should have delayed sharing the news.

(18) BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE. Beyond the Sky trailer (2018). The movie is coming to theaters this September.

Chris Norton has been hearing about alien abductions his entire life but, in his gut, he knows they are not real. Setting out to disprove the alien abduction phenomenon once and for all, he attends a UFO convention to meet alleged abductees and reveal the truth behind their experiences. It is only when he meets Emily, who claims to have been abducted every seven years on her birthday, that Chris realizes there may be more to these claims than meets the eye. With Emily’s 28th birthday only days away, Chris helps her to uncover the truth as they come face to face with the reality that we are not alone.

CAST: Ryan Carnes, Jordan Hinson, Peter Stormare, Dee Wallace, Martin Sensmeier, Don Stark


(19) AN INTERPLANETARY ROMANCE. The restored 1910 Italian silent film Matrimonio interplanetario (“Marriage on the Moon”) is now online. Its antique delights include a very strange space launch facility that looks suspiciously like a samovar or maybe an espresso machine.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén , Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/27/18 Pixelbot Murderscrolls

  1. (1) One of the coolest parts of Worldcon was meeting Kjell Lindgren and hearing him say his name out loud, thus ending years of me wondering how to pronounce it.

  2. (17) I can well believe that Google had less than pure motives in releasing the news, but I can’t see how delay would have served the users well.

    Here in 5374, we are still struggling to make tech companies behave themselves reasonably.


    That is a fantastic con report. I really appreciated seeing all the photos of hall costumes. The Ziggy Stardust is exceptional. I got to see the sequined mermaid queen in person, and her costume was spectacular.

  4. (1) Good report, except that Thurs-Mon IS the traditional Worldcon timing.

    At least they got to drive through and then out of the smoke, unlike Spokane.

    (3) There was Philip Jose Farmer in my high school library, though at least that’s more appropriate than in younger years.

  5. 3) Days I’m so grateful my library contained inappropriate books for me to get my hands on I can hardly stand it. Was I in third grade when I read about Marie Curie pbyyrpgvat Cvreer’f rssrpgf nsgre uvf nppvqrag jvgu gur ubefr pneevntr naq svaqvat n cvrpr bs Cvreer’f oenva nzbat gurz? I believe I was. Thanks, St. Paul’s Lutheran Elementary!

    I thought this was an unusually thoughtful short essay on the Jacksonville killings: The Irony of the Jacksonville Mass Shooting

    Here in 581, we’re looking forward to some of this.

  6. (3) My parents applied to let me borrow books from the adult collection when I was about 8 or 9, and I hit the SF section (also the chemistry and astronomy sections) pretty darn hard. I read some SF with adult scenes in it (Martin Caidin’s oeuvre I only remember for one bit of sex) with a bit more than mild interest, but nothing like I would have a couple years later, but it was the SF with adult themes that’s stuck with me. What I remember the best was the famous collection of J.G. Ballard’s best stories [*]; that and Arthur C. Clarke’s stories are what I remember being most enthralled by around age 10. But no one ever gave me grief for checking out the books I checked out; I think they were mostly amused by a four-and-a-half-foot-tall fellow walking out with a three-foot-tall stack of books every other week.

    ETA: [*] Is it famous? It’s famous to me, so there.

  7. As for books I found in the children’s section, one was FRANKENSTEIN. And as for a DVD seen there, it was FRISKY DINGO.

  8. 8)
    I got worried about that title for a second! (I might even humbly suggest that it be chanted to Ezra Klein hosts Jemisin).

    14 Context is important. There is a term in tv tropes called Flanderization, and I do think that in the minds of many of his supposed defenders and those who dislike him, Heinlein has been flanderized to a large degree.

    3) I wonder, in this modern day of a fully defined (even if by marketing) YA genre, if this experience is happening less?

  9. One of the stories in the volume, “Childfinder,” was commissioned by writer Harlan Ellison to be included in a never-published anthology.


  10. Ahhhh, Libraries during the era when they seemed to think that ALL of science fiction was “kids stuff”.

    I never had to worry about those age restrictions – and BOY did I read a bunch of stuff I “wasn’t supposed to”.

    This is interesting in another way. I objected to the special YA award category for two reasons: 1. I felt it was honoring marketing categories. 2. I read both “adult” and “YA” SF while I was still “YA” (even Before “YA”), and still do, feel I’m much better off for it and believed that the award distinction might introduce another artificial barrier.
    But I’m now learning that many others did not have the freedom of choice I did when growing up and that my position on these matters is an outlier (I have accepted the fact that the vote went against me and am fine with that – even voted in the category this year) so there is that.
    But I still do encourage parents to let their kids read what their kids feel comfortable in reading – ignore the labels.

  11. I’ve found, in the children’s section of a store, Mary Shelly’s FRANKSTEIN. And in the DVD section was FRISKY DINGO. I don’t know of too many kids who would read the book, but they might be weirded out by the TV series.

  12. The library I used as a kid had the SF upstairs in the teens-and-adults section. (By the time I was in high school and could get to the library on my own – it was way too far out of the way when I was in junior high – I was already solidly hooked.)

  13. @10: another 10,000 day; I’d seen a claim somewhere (maybe in his autobio/artbook) that Freas created the definitive Alfred E. Newman, but Wikipedia says it predates him.

    @18: just what we need — another Strieber-style mess.

    @Paul Weimer (re @3): which side of the experience? It could be that “YA” is now real enough (not to mention plentiful enough) that younger readers don’t push toward the general shelves, or it could be that so much of YA is seen as feeding fantasies or otherwise talking down that those readers will still cross the line (where IMO they’ll find a lot of pretty juvenile work…). I note the many commenters who speak of crossing over young, but ISTM that the commenters on tor.com are somewhat self-selected for near-fanatical interest in the genre, and may not represent the reading populace. By those commenters’ standards I was backward — I didn’t start borrowing from the general shelves until at least after 5th grade — but that may have been due to a well-stocked juvenile floor at the nearest library.

  14. In my childhood library, the kids’ section was mainly separated from the adult section by the bank of sit down tables. Except for one 10 or 12 foot wall jutting out between the two spaces. On the kid’s side, this had kid-height shelves of picturebooks. On the other side, it had the teen books.

    And right beside those, perpendicular on the main library wall, the SFF section. (After the SFF section was an open space including the emergency exit door, then the mystery section, then, I think, westerns and romances in that order. The general fiction and nonfiction were on the standalone shelves.)

    So in a way the SFF certainly looked like it was being treated as an extension of the teen books, at least, and I think there was some awareness that of the adult books, SFF was the kind most likely to appeal to avid teen readers.

  15. My mother let me use her library card. Since I loved the Earthsea trilogy, of course I borrowed The Dispossessed. I don’t think I was quite ready for it.

    Here in 5053, I still think I should read it again sometime, but Mt e-Tsundoku calls irresistibly.

  16. James Davis Nicoll: Yes. I worked in a video store. The anime *was* separated from the family films, but since the Anime section included the gamut from Pokémon to a piece of tentacle porn, this didn’t necessarily help until we got the rating stickers and someone with some knowledge on staff. (The owner didn’t know anything about anime except that some people would ask about it, so ordered some random titles to see how they would fare. I knew something, but not enough to know a tentacle porn video by sight.)

  17. Suzle and I met K.C. Ball at an Orycon (Portland) and were the first to recommend Clarion West to her. We’re very sad to hear she’s gone so soon.

  18. (6) I was going to make a snarky comment about Sanderson and the Dragon Awards, but I will limit myself to saying I thought it.

    I may actually attend the award ceremonies this year. We’ll see.

  19. At my local library, we has childrens area directly to the right and adults straight ahead. Conics were both in childrens area and in the adult area, depending on type of comic. More adult comics (like Jacques Tardi) where marked with red stickers proclaiming they weren’t for children). Science Fiction had 2-3 shelves in the absolute back of the library and it was a weird selection, I can’t remember any of the more famous authors.

    Fantasy didn’t really have a category, it was mixed up at random in the childrens area, so you had to check every shelf for those.

  20. @Lenora Rose: I can’t define tentacle pornography, but I know it when I see it. At least, I think I’d know it. The difference between tentacles and other bodily appendages is less clear in 3179 than it was in the pre-Spill era of the mid-third millennium.

  21. Paul King on August 28, 2018 at 9:59 am said:
    My mother let me use her library card. Since I loved the Earthsea trilogy, of course I borrowed The Dispossessed. I don’t think I was quite ready for it.

    Here in 5053, I still think I should read it again sometime, but Mt e-Tsundoku calls irresistibly.

    You need to read it now.

  22. I’m not actually sure what, if any, restrictions my library may have had on kids, since my parents had a huge collection of grown-up SF, which I was allowed to browse freely. Therefore, my main interest in the library was in the kids and YA sections, which had the stuff my parents didn’t already have.

  23. When I was quite young, I had gone through most of the SF in the kid’s section of my library, I decided to try adult SF. One of the first things I read was one of Damon Knight’s Orbit anthologies which had Ellison’s Shattered Like a Glass Goblin. It was not like anything I had ever read before 🙂

  24. Paul Weimer: There is a term in tv tropes called Flanderization, and I do think that in the minds of many of his supposed defenders and those who dislike him, Heinlein has been flanderized to a large degree.

    Huh. I’d never heard of that trope–I looked it up (and I see what you mean), but I initally thought it referred to McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.” Kind of sorry that wasn’t accurate, actually, because it seems to me that what has happened to Heinlein is (also–well, maybe kind of in reverse) analogous to the various ways that that poem has been read since it was published back in 1915 . .

  25. I was reading my father’s Analogs before I was able to visit the library on my own. (We had a set of children’s storybooks that included some juvenile SF. I met the flat cats that way, and a number of other stories from the 40s and very early 50s.)

    It’s 2452. Where’s the shoggoth? Has it gone off in search of more pulps?

  26. (1) ON THE GROUND AT WORLDCON 76. Yes, “GalaxyQuest” alien crew members. 🙂 BTW Raven Oak’s cat’s name is Dinozzo. Gak.

    [ETA: Some great hall costume photos!]

    (2) RETRO HUGOS OF 1943. Great pic; thanks for posting it, and to Kevin Roche for supplying it! Now I’d like to find a better one of the regular Hugo base from this year.

    – – – – –

    First World SFF Reader Problems: Technical issues mean I may not be able to listen to audiobooks to/from work for a week! Sigh, and I just bought Bujold’s Diplomatic Immunity. Hopefully I’ll get it (car Bluetooth issue) fixed in a week. Time to find the old “blast a random radio station” gadget and the adapter somewhere at home to see if I can find a sufficiently empty span of radio to make it work. Fingers crossed; I really don’t want to lose a week of audiobook listening.

  27. Meredith Moments a.k.a. Sample-Reading Time!

    Tom King’s A Once Crowded Sky (stand-alone, methinks) is on sale for 99 cents. A world with superheroes who all sacrificed their powers to save it, turning mundane; their greatest hero, Ultimate, sacrificed himself. But one superhero, Ultimate’s sidekick, didn’t join them, retaining his powers. Written by a former CIA counterterrorism officer. From Touchstone (uses DRM). Anyone read this?

    Kay Kenyon’s At the Table of Wolves (Dark Talents #1) is also on sale for 99 cents. Take it away, publisher: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy meets Agent Carter meets X-Men in this classic British espionage story where a young woman must go undercover and use her superpowers to discover a secret Nazi plot and stop an invasion of England.” From Saga Press (DRM-free). IIRC I’ve read good things about this, and about Kenyon’s writing in general. I know, why haven’t I read anything of hers, like “The Entire and the Rose”?! ::blush::

  28. Whoops, I forgot a slightly-less-inexpensive Meredith Moment:

    Tyler Whitesides’s The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is $2.99 (BTW this & the others are U.S. sales; check your local listings, though) from Orbit (uses DRM). This fantasy novel is #1 in the “Kingdom of Grit” series. “Master con artist Ardor Benn and his crew of intrepid thieves are hired to pull off a series of wildly complex heists, from stealing a crown to saving the world, in this daring fantasy adventure. Liar. Thief. Legend.” Ardor Benn and the pic on the cover makes me think of Rachel Aaron’s Eli Monpress (though the similarities probably end there), so I’m intrigued. Anyone read this?

    Read on, Wayne.
    Read on, Garth.

  29. @Kendall:

    Funny you should mention A Once Crowded Sky – I have it loaded on my Kobo and was trying to decide what to read next, so off we go. Here’s hoping I won’t make much progress on it while I’m out tomorrow, though; my car’s battery is dead and I am hopeful that the fix (most likely replacement) will go quickly.

    BTW, I have a handy hack for any fellow iOS Filers with respect to the demise of autofilling data. Define your email address as a short text-replacement macro (in Settings, under the Keyboards category), and you can auto-expand it almost effortlessly in any app. Not quite as easy as autofill, but it helps.

  30. @Kendall:

    Initial thoughts on A Once Crowded Sky

    The premise is that a global catastrophe threatened a supers world, and to defeat it, all the heroes gave up their powers to energize their leader, who sacrificed himself to seal the breach and save the world.

    All the heroes except one, that is. The deceased leader’s sidekick is now the only remaining person with powers, and he’s reviled as a coward by most or all of the former heroes. (The catastrophe brought with it a compulsion that caused all the villains to kill themselves – a bit too tidy, I think, but necessary to the premise, so whatever.)

    So far – which is to say, about a fifth of the way through – I’m finding it a bit disjointed. Too many viewpoint characters, too little connectivity… kind of like the impression you might get if you went into a comic store right after the conclusion of a huge storyline, picked up several current issues, and started reading them. The illustrated comic pages are a neat touch, but redundant when the exact same scene is depicted in text a few chapters later. Giving the chapter sections comic book series/issue titles is kind of nifty as a gimmick, but it’s quickly growing old for me. Everything thus far has been either flashback or immediate repercussions to the mass depowering, and I’m getting a bit impatient waiting for the real story to begin. I’m nowhere close to abandoning the book, just muttering “get on with it already.”

  31. I’m finding it oddly reassuring that Tom King’s novel isn’t great. I’ve yet to read one of his comics that didn’t just knock me out. It’s good to know he’s human.

    Not that “humanity” is well-defined in 2264. It’s not even well-ordered. Except the portion that got well-done in 2243…but we always lie about that to strangers.

  32. (8) I, too, was misled by the title of this one.


    All My Login Credentials, Unremembered.

  33. @JAA: “I’m finding it oddly reassuring that Tom King’s novel isn’t great. I’ve yet to read one of his comics that didn’t just knock me out. It’s good to know he’s human.”

    Keep in mind that the novel’s about 330 pages long, so I’m maybe 70 pages in. There’s considerable room for the story to pick up and blow my socks off. I suspect that some of what I’m seeing thus far are techniques which work well in comics, where there’s a visual dimension which is missing here.

    For example, there’s a chapter where a now-depowered heroine is facing three bad guys in an alley. Except it’s also several years ago, and the three guys around her are dead family members. And it’s also eleven years ago, when three gods are endowing her with her abilities. And it’s also a couple of years after that, when she’s in her prime and mopping the floor with three opponents. And it’s six months ago, when the three men who are the other core members of her superteam are debating which one of them will get supercharged and sacrifice himself, each clamoring for the responsibility and all united that under no circumstances will it be her. And so on.

    Yes, it’s an interesting and effective way to show a career in an eyeblink. I can practically see the similar layouts spanning a few pages of a graphic novel. But this is chapter two of a novel, and as a reader I’m still trying to get my bearings. Bad timing!

    Much of what I’ve read so far has been tight-focus, and I could really use a couple of establishing shots.

  34. @Rev. Bob: Thanks for your thoughts-so-far! I wasn’t sure from my short sample whether there’d be more illustrated bits or not. It does sound gimmicky, but perhaps a gimmick I’ll like. 😉

    @John A Arkansawyer: Oh! Reading the 2012-written info about the book, and not having read any of Tom King’s comics, I had no idea he wrote comics. ::blush:: Thanks for the info!

  35. (15) ROCKET MAN.
    Thank you! Cath did a terrific job enlarging the stub.

    I’ve been in Wellington for work & have been reminded on how lovely a little city it is (as long as it’s not bucketing down with rain). I am also slightly disappointed that nobody has crafted a filk of “Pixelbot Murderscrolls” to the tune of “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch”. The world needs it!


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