Pixel Scroll 8/31/19 A Scroll Title Named Desire

(1) TIPTREE AWARD CONTROVERSY. While I can’t say I located the ultimate roots of the discussion, I found Carrie Cuinn’s thread, which starts here.

There are more comments in Natalie Luhrs’ thread, starting here.

Today Sweden’s John-Henri Holmberg countered challenges raised about continuing the James Tiptree Award under its existing name in his review of the history of the award and its namesake on Facebook. He asks in conclusion:

…What has changed in the last few months? As far as I know, nothing. The award given not even in her own name, but in the name of her pseudonym, celebrates work of imaginative fiction exploring the territory she made her own over her twenty-years long writing career. She explored it more deeply, searchingly, critically and imaginatively than anyone before her had ever come close to doing, and her work remains startlingly fresh, moving, and thoughtful. We owe it to her to celebrate her heritage, not to obliterate it. Her death, as that of her husband, was a tragedy, but not by any reasonable standard an erasure of her life or her literary heritage.

(2) CARRYING THE BANNER. Travis Corcoran’s Prometheus Award acceptance speech has been posted on the Libertarian Futurist Society blog:

Here is the acceptance speech by Travis Corcoran for 2019 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Causes of Separation.  (Corcoran could not attend the Dublin Worldcon but wrote this acceptance speech to be read there at the ceremony.)

…Chapman’s essay and Pournelle’s and Conquest’s laws are three observations of a single underlying phenomena: the collectivists always worm their way in and take over. We know THAT this happens, but WHY does it happen? How can we model it and understand it?

(3) WHAT, IT’S NOT CHEESE? Space.com reports “China’s Lunar Rover Has Found Something Weird on the Far Side of the Moon”.  

China’s Chang’e-4 lunar rover has discovered an unusually colored, ‘gel-like’ substance during its exploration activities on the far side of the moon.

The mission’s rover, Yutu-2, stumbled on that surprise during lunar day 8. The discovery prompted scientists on the mission to postpone other driving plans for the rover, and instead focus its instruments on trying to figure out what the strange material is.

…So far, mission scientists haven’t offered any indication as to the nature of the colored substance and have said only that it is “gel-like” and has an “unusual color.” One possible explanation, outside researchers suggested, is that the substance is melt glass created from meteorites striking the surface of the moon. 

(4) EL-MOHTAR REVIEW. NPR’s Amal El-Mohtar says “‘Palestine + 100’ Explores Contested Territory, Past And Future”

A few years ago I reviewed Iraq + 100, a project which invited its contributors to write stories set 100 years in Iraq’s future. It was conceived as an imaginative springboard for Iraqi writers to potentially launch themselves beyond the enduring trauma of waves of invasion and devastation — but because science fiction stories set in the future are always in some way about our present, the collection became a multi-voiced testament to the fact that you can’t project a future without first reckoning with the past.

Comma Press has followed that collection up with Palestine + 100, an anthology edited by Basma Ghalayini in which twelve Palestinian authors write stories set 100 years after the Nakba — Arabic for “catastrophe” — during which, as Ghalayini writes in her moving, thoughtful introduction, “Israel declared itself a new-born state on the rubble of Palestinian lives.” Thus where Iraq + 100 looked towards the year 2103, the stories in Palestine + 100 look towards 2048, and the bulk of the work isn’t about extrapolating a future so much as recognizing, fighting, and establishing narratives about the past. The choice of subtitle — “stories from a century after the Nakba” — exemplifies this, drawing attention to the fact that for Palestinians (and many Israelis), May 15, 1948 is not a date to celebrate, but to grieve.

In Palestine + 100, memory and imagination are contested territories. Samir El-Youssef’s “The Association,” translated by Raph Cormack, kicks off with the murder of a historian; the narrator observes that “Since the 2028 Agreement, the people of the country — all the different sects and religions, Muslim, Christian and Jewish — had decided that forgetting was the best way to live in peace.” In Saleem Haddad’s “Song of the Birds,” a young girl lives in a beautiful simulation haunted by the vicious, broken reality it obscures. In Ahmed Masoud’s “Application 39,” two young men imagine a Palestinian bid for the Olympics as a joke — and find themselves in the tormented midst of trying to make that a reality, with all the consequences it entails. In Tasnim Abutabikh’s “Vengeance” the plot is evenly divided between one man’s elaborate pursuit of revenge against a neighbor he thinks has wronged him — and that neighbor’s heartbroken revelation that the man had the past all wrong. In almost all these stories there is a doubled, troubled vision, that never resolves so much as it fractures further.

(5) MICHAELS OBIT. Melisa Michaels (1946-2019) died August 30 of complications amid efforts to treat her lung cancer. (Condolences to filer Xtifr, her nephew.)

Michaels was known for her series about Skyrider, a woman space combat pilot. She also wrote urban fantasies including “Sister to the Rain” and “Cold Iron.” Her novel Skirmish was nominated for a Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1986. SFWA presented her with a Service Award in 2008.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1914 Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in  Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984)
  • Born August 31, 1933 Robert Adams. He’s best remembered for the Horseclans series which became his overall best-known works though he wrote other works.  While he never completed the series, he wrote 18 novels in the Horseclans series before his death. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 31, 1949 Richard Gere, 70. Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur. And was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honours!  
  • Born August 31, 1958 Julie Brown, 61. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s actually been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in TV’s Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink. 
  • Born August 31, 1969 Jonathan LaPaglia, 50. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favourite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history.
  • Born August 31, 1971 Chris Tucker, 48. The way over the top Ruby Rhod in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, a film I really, really like. His only other genre credit is as a MC in the Hall in The Meteor Man.
  • Born August 31, 1982 G. Willow Wilson, 37. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel.  I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but will soon.
  • Born August 31, 1992 Holly Earl, 27. She’s been in a number of British genre shows such as playing Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Agnes in Humans, and yes, Doctor Who in the “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, an Eleventh Doctor story in she was Lily Arwell.


  • Bizarro lives up to its name with this idea about collaborative effort.

(8) ONE TO BEAM UP. Camestros Felapton’s incredible “tweetfilk” of Star Trek and Bowie, featuring science officer Ziggy!! Thread starts here.

(9) PLEASE DON’T JOKE ABOUT THIS. Variety: “‘Joker’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying”.

Critics are raving for Warner Bros. latest comic book installment.

Todd Phillip’s “Joker” opened Saturday at the Venice Film Festival to effervescent reviews, with many critics highlighting an Oscar-worthy appearance from star Joaquin PhoenixVariety‘s own Owen Gleiberman praised Phoenix’s performance, emphasizing his physical acting and emotional control:

“He appears to have lost weight for the role, so that his ribs and shoulder blades protrude, and the leanness burns his face down to its expressive essence: black eyebrows, sallow cheeks sunk in gloom, a mouth so rubbery it seems to be snarking at the very notion of expression, all set off by a greasy mop of hair,” he wrote. “Phoenix is playing a geek with an unhinged mind, yet he’s so controlled that he’s mesmerizing. He stays true to the desperate logic of Arthur’s unhappiness.”

(10) VERY LEAKY ESTABLISHMENT. NPR asks “Have You Seen Any Nazi Uranium? These Researchers Want To Know”. (The photo makes it look like a Borg spaceship.)

Timothy Koeth’s office is crammed with radioactive relics – old watches with glowing radium dials, pieces of melted glass from beneath the test of the world’s first nuclear weapon.

But there is one artifact that stands apart from the rest: a dense, charcoal-black cube, two-inches on a side. The cube is made of pure uranium metal. It was forged more than 70 years ago by the Nazis, and it tells the little-known story of Germany’s nuclear efforts during World War II.

“From a historical perspective this cube weighs a lot more than five pounds,” Koeth, a physicist at the University of Maryland, says as he holds it in his hand.

…At the time of Hitler’s rise, Germany was actually at the cutting edge of nuclear technology. “Nuclear fission was discovered in Berlin in late 1938,” says Alex Wellerstein is a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. “They were the first team of people who figured out how to split the atom, and figured out that when you split the atom, a lot of energy was going to be released.”

That basic idea of splitting atoms to release energy is what’s at the heart of all of today’s nuclear power plants and all the world’s nuclear weapons.

But back during World War II, it was all theoretical. To find out how it could work, the Germans devised strange looking experiment. Scientists strung together 664 cubes of uranium with aircraft cables and suspended them. The result looked “kind of like a very strange modernist chandelier of cubes,” Wellerstein says.

The chandelier was dipped into a cylindrical tank of heavy water, which contains special isotopes of hydrogen that make it more conducive to nuclear reactions.

The setup was known as the B-VIII reactor. The Germans were experimenting with it inside a cave in the southern town of Haigerloch. They were still trying to get it to work when the allied invasion began. As Allied forces approached, the German scientists disassembled the reactor and buried the cubes in a field.

The first wave of Allied troops to arrive included a task force known as Alsos, which was seeking to seize as much of the Nazi program as they could.

The Nazi scientists quickly disclosed the location of the buried cubes to the Allies, Wellerstein says. The Alsos team boxed up the cubes, to send them back to America, but what happened after that is not entirely clear.

(12) UK BIOBANK. “Geneticists To Cooperate, Not Compete”NPR has the story.

There’s an astonishing outpouring of new information linking genes and health, thanks to the efforts of humble Englishmen and women such as Chritopeher Fletcher. The 70-year-old man recently drove 90 miles from his home in Nottingham to a radiology clinic outside the city of Manchester.

He is one of half a million Brits who have donated time, blood and access to their medical records to a remarkable resource called UK Biobank. The biobank, in turn, has become a resource for more than a thousand scientists around the world who are interested in delving into the link between genes, behaviors and health.

Popularity of the resource is snowballing. Just this week, a major study using the data explored the genetics of same-sex sexual behavior. And as researchers discover the biobank’s value, there’s a strong incentive to add to the database to make it even richer.

…What makes UK Biobank valuable is not only the half-million volunteers, whose health will be followed for decades, but also its community-spirited scientific strategy. Chief scientist Dr. Cathie Sudlow says the organizers, in a break from their usual ways, aren’t out to answer their own scientific questions, but to serve their colleagues.

“I’ll freely admit that when I first started out in the biobank I couldn’t really believe that we were all going to work really hard to make data available for other people,” she says. “And that is because I came from this traditional, kind of slightly paranoid, somewhat territorial, academic background.”

The scramble for research funds creates competitive incentives in much of academic science today. This biobank is different.

(13) JUST A FEW MORE HOURS. Readers of Camestros’ Felapton’s blog have entertained each other today with some last-minute speculation about the winners: “Just for fun, some Dragon Award predictions”.

Best Science Fiction Novel: A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad Torgersen is a plausible winner. If it does then we can assume other works in the Brad Puppies list got lots of votes. I think Tiamat’s Wrath is a likely winner given the popularity of The Expanse TV series and the Dragon Con audience. However, Becky Chambers has a wide and devoted set of fans and I wouldn’t be astonished if Record of a Spaceborn Few won. If any of the others won, that would be interesting but I don’t know what it would mean.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

49 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/31/19 A Scroll Title Named Desire

  1. (6) I enjoyed “Seven Days” too. I recall thinking that it had a fortunate end date (May 2001), as its premise would have been broken badly by events a few months later.

  2. (2)
    Maybe they should consider that “collectivism” is how big things have gotten done, for all of history. It’s called “human society”, and they might could want to try it.

  3. P J Evans: True. On the other hand, Corcoran’s dogs probably hear him perfectly, if you know what I mean.

  4. 2) This screed makes me glad about the 90 second limit for acceptance speeches at the Hugos. And yes, I hear dogs barking. Though I do hope that Travis Corcoran has finally learned how ships work.

    9) I was not going to see this film anyway, but these reviews have reinforced my decision, since I intensely dislike all of the movies to which they compare Joker.

  5. 2) Yet another conspiracy theorist angry that people who do all the work to uphold communities haven’t seen the libertarian light.

  6. 6) Cat, I agree with you about G. Willow Wilson. I just adore Ms. Marvel (and where I am in my reading, I’m still in her run), and Air was a real favorite. I got to talk to her at WisCon this year, and she said she doesn’t get much love for Air. Then she had a signing, and signed lots of copies of it. She doesn’t generally come to sf cons, so she was surprised at her different audience.

  7. 2) I think I liked the Prometheus Awards better back when they were for Best Scottish Socialist SF.

  8. 2) is there some rule that libertarians have to be so dull? It’s like they never recovered from the endless John Galt speech.

    1). I’ve not come across any of the twitter over the Tiptree award so I figured it was just someone who was upset about the Campbell award being re-named. Then I just thought that it was someone looking for a reason to clutch some pearls. Those Twitter threads just reinforced that thought. Maybe just socially pretend that Tiptree and Sheldon are two different people.

  9. I just finished the Graphic Novel Die that is eligible for a Hugo. It wasn’t really my thing though. As usual with everything based almost entirely on magic with no given limits, it feels like everything can happen anytime. Everything becomes a Deus Ex Machina.

    Nice artwork, but the plot felt lacking.

  10. Cassandraw Khaw’s “Birthday Microfiction” has been exploding all over Twitter and it’s fantastic. You can see lots and lots and LOTS of people throwing their hat into the ring here.

    Lots of great ones, large and small. My favorite so far is Marissa Lingen’s “hardest experience in a magic college major” thread; they’re on-point and fantastic.

    Some excellent ones that could use some more prompts:
    * A continuing story, @fromankyra: https://twitter.com/fromankyra/status/1167839706031304704
    * Strange dubbed TV, Laura Blackwell: https://twitter.com/pronouncedLAHra/status/1167884482256355329
    * Imaginary TV shows, Evelyn Chirson: https://twitter.com/evelynchirson/status/1167914068058857473

    …and, I’m doing one too, if you want to hear how your themed birthday party is going to pan out.

    It’s a lot of fun 😀

  11. (12) I’m a biobank volunteer (donor? participant? I gave them some blood samples and fill in occasional questionnaires), and I’m pleased to hear it’s a success. I’d call that a decent answer to Corcoran’s rhetorical question at (2).

    Though I do wish it was easier to change my name and gender in their records.

  12. 2) A. tongue in cheek, at least a bit, but: That speech, if it had been delivered in its entirety, to a captive Hugo Awards audience, would have demonstrated the necessity, efficacy, effectiveness and power of collectivism.

    B. (Libertarian + captive audience = something wrong with that picture).

    C. I had to read through all of that and the punchline was “Lazarus Long was right in Time Enough for Love”?

  13. 4). I find this “Israel declared itself a new-born state on the rubble of Palestinian lives.” to be highly a problematic, distorted, inflammatory and biased statement that by itself alone renders that anthology nothing but propaganda that can serve no purpose other than to continue to exacerbate the problem.

    “the man had the past all wrong.”


  14. I’m not going to argue here about #4. I find it objectionable and said so, others disagree, I am sure, and should have their say as well, but arguing it is as futile as trying to come up with a peace plan acceptable to all sides.

    1) Tiptree. All I can say about that is: anyone who has had to care for a terminally ill family member, especially one who is in pain and/or has expressed the desire to be relieved of their suffering, will find themselves contemplating Alice’s decision as a genuine solution at some point during that whole (god awful) process.
    The amount of suffering that can be eliminated can make such an act one of deep compassion as opposed to anything else.
    Before rendering judgement, one should also look into how common such things are – far more common than most know (not necessarily mercy killing/euthanasia + suicide, rather, more often, physician-assisted end of life…though actually most common I think is ‘medical staff looking the other way after providing the means’).
    Personally, I am close to three such instances; the possibilities were discussed with those individuals while they were all mentally competent and their desires and wishes were honored by their care givers. I simply can’t imagine the mental state of someone who has to make such decisions without input.
    Dr. Sheldon’s case was a bit different than that more commonly faced: she wanted to go (something I believe is everyone’s right to make that decision) but could not face leaving her husband behind, owing to his illness. You can call that an act of selfishness if you’d like, but we don’t know enough detail (what did their “pact” say?) to judge.

  15. @Standback —

    Lots of great ones, large and small. My favorite so far is Marissa Lingen’s “hardest experience in a magic college major” thread; they’re on-point and fantastic.

    I had to go look her up on Amazon after reading that thread. Fortunately, I think I’ve got some of her stories in magazine back-issues that I haven’t read. 🙂

  16. “Israel declared itself a new-born state on the rubble of Palestinian lives.”

    A simple, but true statement in every way. Without acknowledging the past, there is no way forward.

  17. As usual with everything based almost entirely on magic with no given limits, it feels like everything can happen anytime. Everything becomes a Deus Ex Machina.

    How interesting, I made a note recently while reading a short story with a magic system like this that I prefer this style because of the “everything can happen anytime” vibe. A standard case of ymmv I suppose.

  18. I can live with wild magic, i.e no specific rules, in some kind of stories, but not when the writer just can say “then they spelled forward a fegglebrom and they all won”.

    For magic with no rules to work for me, there must be measures around it. It is risky and dangerous. Or it is used by others than the main characters (i.e Gandalf). Or it is as part of a fairy tale.

    I didn’t feel anything like that in the Die comic.

  19. @Steve Davidson–From the slim evidence and recollections of those talking to her at the time, I suspect the “pact” existed largely in her own mind. Which doesn’t mean she was lying or acted in bad faith; she may have, all too easily, with depression whispering its lies to her, believed it, because the depression also wouldn’t let her see any other way out.

    Get her effective treatment for her depression (much less possible then than now), and I suspect everything else changes.

    But the more I consider it, the more I think we shouldn’t be handing people an award with this name on it.

    Which makes me very sad, but I don’t see a way to make the name okay.

  20. @Hampus: Steve Davidson won’t engage a little further, but I will. Land purchases by Zionists had gone on for decades prior to 1948. Even Al-Jazeera’s interactive page on “50 years of land theft” by Israel admits that such purchases occurred. That’s by itself sufficient to elevate “highly problematic, distorted, inflammatory and biased” over “a true statement in every way.”

  21. Could somebody update the Melisa Michaels wikipedia article? I can’t figure out how to do it.

  22. Yay, title credit!

    Re Joker movie: It sounds like a interesting movie, but one that runs completely parallel to my own taste.

  23. gottacook:

    “Land purchases by Zionists had gone on for decades prior to 1948. Even Al-Jazeera’s interactive page on “50 years of land theft” by Israel admits that such purchases occurred.”

    Here you can see a map of the land ownership at the time. None of the areas have a jewish majority ownership. Note that the white areas were still settled by arabs.


    And here you can see the demographics. Jews had only a majority in one enclave around Jaffa, the rest had palestinian majority.


    The rest was stolen together with ethnic cleansing and the destruction of Palestinian villages

  24. Hampus, that’s a distortion. First, I never said “majority”; second, you write as though no land was abandoned by Arab owners who heeded the surrounding Arab states telling them to get out of the way of their invading armies. Are you suggesting that didn’t happen?

    Admittedly this is the wrong site for such arguments so I will stop here.

  25. I think it’s bad form to say “I know this isn’t the place for arguments but here’s my argument” but I know this isn’t the place for arguments so…

  26. Gottacook:

    There is no distortion whatsoever. No Palestinians would have abandoned their land if there wasn’t an army of foreigners there to massacre those who stayed and blow up their villages. And I showed the demographics as they looked at the time.

    The ethnic cleansing had started well before any neighbouring state had involved themselves in the conflict. To say something else is propaganda and distortion.

  27. The auditorium wasn’t set up so that you could see everybody unless you were on stage, but I would estimate about 10% stood up. As you might image, it was patchy, with groups sitting next to each other.

  28. I don’t think the Tiptree argument is any likelier to be fruitful than any online iteration of the Israel/Palestine argument. But I do feel personally moved to say something.

    It’s very hard for some people to give what they feel is a moral free pass on the grounds of mental illness; “you’re responsible for all of your actions” is a point of view that is appealing in its simplicity, and I don’t mean that in a condescending way, I mean it is appealing to me as well. But I also know that a lot of people have no understanding of the basic fact of mental illness, that by definition it involves thinking and feeling in ways that make no sense to other people, and that are not subject to change by force of will no matter how much the sufferer abstractly knows that something is wrong. Ideas that you would normally know to be untrue, and terrible decisions, seem absolutely convincingly real at the time; if the idea “but I’m sick and not thinking clearly” also occurs, it’s as a barely relevant footnote.

    In a state of suicidal depression, it may be possible to make the same kinds of ethical decisions that you would make if you were not in that state. Otherwise I would not be alive; a desire for my loved ones not to suffer that kind of loss (even if I also firmly believed that they would be better off, if only they could admit it) worked as a restraint, more than once. But I know that that’s not a measure of my character: it just means I wasn’t as badly afflicted as I could have been. And I rarely had any objectively bad external circumstances to dwell on, as Sheldon did. In the worst depths of it, if I had been in a situation like hers—and especially if I had had access to a gun, the ultimate facilitator of terrible ideas, which I must never ever own—I can easily believe I would have gone the same way. Would it have been, as I’ve seen someone say angrily regarding this, “because he was disabled” and therefore a calculated act of violence against people with such conditions? Yes and no: it would have been because I had firmly convinced myself that his condition and mine were inseparable and all part of a general hopelessness, which is why people so often do their loved ones in along with themselves even without any conflicts or obvious hardships—you feel they are miserably disabled just by virtue of being in your life. Would I be a murderer? Sure, and I would probably call myself that at the time too, in the belief that I deserved every possible terrible epithet already, whether I did the crime or not.

    When someone is very clever and insightful, like Sheldon, and fiercely determined to assert their individuality and their will, it becomes even harder to separate the illness from the person. And in a way there is no separation; it’s not that this mode is you and this other mode is someone else, it’s just a big mess. But do actions in that mode indicate “what kind of person” you are overall, in the same kind of moral sense that people normally mean by that? I would say no. And especially if the body of work that you’re known for, and that people are paying respects to with that name, is as loving and life-affirming (in a morbid and desperate sense that others may not see as such, but that’s what it is to me) as hers.

  29. 1)

    None of the events of the Sheldon’s murder/ suicide were unknown when the Tiptree award was created. The manner of the deaths has been controversial since the time they happened. I consider it all extraneous to the award itself.

    Full disclosure: I am not one in favor of naming awards after people and never will be, because no one is a saint and therefore discussions like this and the one surrounding the award now known as the Astounding are inevitable, because someone somewhere will find something objectionable. I have zero problems with changing the name of the Tiptree per se.

    I have serious problems with making a change because, almost 30 years after the award’s creation, people decide that facts in evidence at the time of death and thus well-known when the award was created give them pause.

    I have been a caregiver in a terminal life circumstance. So I can see that side of things. I’ve been disabled since birth and I have come to terms with the reality that, as I age, I lose more and more of my ability to control those aspects of my disability which can be managed.

    I can very much imagine being nearly blind, bedridden and totally dependent on others for virtually everything. More than imagine it, I DREAD it! That wasn’t a fiction created by Alice Sheldon’s mental/emotional state, though I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that her husband’s health was a major contributing factor to her mental and emotional condition at the time.

    I will not judge Alice Sheldon for her last (almost certainly desperate) acts and I will not call for changing the name of an award because her nom de plume is attached. Given the stated purpose of the award and her literary career and footprint, the name is perfect for the award.

    Further Deponent Saith Not.

  30. @Doctor Science
    I was sitting up front where the finalists are, so I couldn’t see very well, what was going on behind me, but I’d agree with David’s and Hampus’ estimate that it was 10 to 15%.

  31. Taking away our freedom to work together collectively is not libertarianism! 🙂

    I just finished Richard Kadrey’s The Grand Dark, and the first thing I have to say is: this is definitely not Sandman Slim! Not even close!

    This is a smart science-fantasy political thriller set in an imaginary Eastern-European-flavored city, in a world slightly in advance of our own in terms of bio-tech and robotics. But they still haven’t quite perfected delivery drones, which, for our protagonist, a bicycle messenger, is a good thing. Lower Proszawa is a city celebrating the end of a war, but the influx of mainly rich refugees from the destroyed neighboring city of Upper Proszawa means a lot of tensions are bubbling under the surface, and the secret police are struggling to keep a lid on seditionists and revolutionaries. Largo Moorden is a determinedly apolitical guy who just wants to enjoy the pleasantly drugged life he and his girlfriend have managed to achieve, but things aren’t going to be that simple.

    Overall, not what I had expected from Kadrey, but a mostly pleasant surprise. Some minor dings for making the girlfriend into a MacGuffin, but it has some interesting female secondary characters to make up for that, at least in part. The main direction of the plot was fairly predictable, but the book contained enough entertaining ideas and interesting twists that I didn’t mind a bit.

  32. @gottacook: you write as though no land was abandoned by Arab owners who heeded the surrounding Arab states telling them to get out of the way of their invading armies This is a common story — but Edward Said had for long time an award offered for anyone who could provide good evidence; he never had to pay off.

  33. @Doctor Science
    Some of the finalists/accepters definitely did stand up, though I don’t specifically recall any fiction finalists standing up. But then, there were no fiction finalists in my immediate vicinity..

    Naomi Novik was of course up on stage at this moment.

  34. My reaction to the Tiptree kerfuffle is that the award is what it is, and the organizers had a specific purpose in naming it after her, knowing the facts of the matter at the time, and they went with the name in full knowledge of them. Killing one’s spouse was not considered socially acceptable back then, so it’s not a matter of changing times, changing mores. And no one who has been awarded the Tiptree seems to have objected to the name, at least not so far.

    It kinda feels like some people have seen the World Fantasy Award change its shape and the Campbell change its name and are looking around for “What else can we change,” as if they’re neatening up a knickknack shelf, trying to get everything in apple-pie order.

    I think it’s probably better to do things in a messier case-by-case manner.

    If the Tiptree organizers are okay with the name, then they should be able to stick with it, and if that makes some people think less of the award or of them, that’s cool, it’s their award. That same stipulation would apply to the World Fantasy and the Campbell, too, except that in those cases the organizers and supporters of the award didn’t want those associations, so they took a new path.

    But while I can see why non-white winners of the World Fantasy wouldn’t want HPL’s cartoon bust leering at them from the mantelpiece, and I can also understand why winners of the Campbell might think that being attached to the name of a man who would have tried to keep them out of SF, it’s harder to imagine a Tiptree winner complaining that receiving the award feels like people are saying it’s okay for them to kill their husband if he gets really sick.

    That’s not generalized racism or sexism or fascism, it’s one rather specific act that didn’t affect whole classes of people. If anything, reaction to it suggests that we should treat mental illness better, not that her life and death was an argument for destigmatizing spousal murder.

    I think it might be a worthwhile idea to wait until (if ever) some Tiptree winner feels like receiving the award amounts to urging them to kill their invalid spouse, or convincingly argues that the award connotes approval of spousal murder.

    Because while honoring Campbell does feel in some ways like honoring racists writing and editorial choices and stuff he published, honoring Tiptree has never seemed to involve honoring the end of her life. It’s not something she supported through her fiction or through editorials or the choice of who to publish.

  35. I don’t think it’s true that mores haven’t changed concerning such killings. I have heard a LOT more in the last five years than I ever did before about how often disabled people are murdered by caregivers. See, e.g., https://disability-memorial.org/ “The Disability Day of Mourning website is a memorial to the people with disabilities who were victims of filicide. Active cataloging of cases started in mid-2014; this site contains cases from 1980 to the present.”

  36. @HelenS: I think in this context the question isn’t whether there is more publicity and consciousness-raising now, but whether people in 1987 who had heard of the Sheldons reacted differently or with less shock and horror than they would today. I haven’t heard any suggestion that they did. Some people believed strongly that there had been a mutual suicide pact, and therefore saw it as more of a tragedy than a crime, but I think people now who thought the same thing would respond the same.

  37. Kurt, it’s not so much the winner feeling like killing their spouse is okay. It’s that a winner could be a disabled person feeling like others are okay with killing them.

  38. Doctor Science: What rough proportion of the audience stood up as AO3 members when Naomi Novik asked?

    I would have guessed 5-10%. They tended to be in clumps. So in some places, there were a good number of people standing. Some of those standing were Hugo finalists. There are some photos here.


  39. I can vouch for the fact that every time Tiptree has been discussed here the way I’ve felt about it is “oh, okay, these are the people who would justify my murder – perhaps say it isn’t even a murder, just a tragedy all round, because murdering me is so understandable, anyone could relate – given the right circumstances.”

    No, I don’t think mores have changed very much. But in my opinion that’s because many people are still oh so very understanding of why a caregiver might choose to murder their disabled family member, not because people thought it was wrong then and wrong now and used the name anyway. They still don’t think it was all that wrong.

    I said in the other thread that if I were to receive one, it would not be an uncomplicated joy. Still true.

    (Psst, disabled/chronically ill people are a group. Just sayin’.)

  40. @Xtifr —

    I just finished Richard Kadrey’s The Grand Dark, and the first thing I have to say is: this is definitely not Sandman Slim! Not even close!

    Thanks for the review! On Mt. TBR!

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