Pixel Scroll 8/6/19 In The File, The Mighty File, The Pixel Scrolls Tonight

(1) LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE AFFECTS A DRAGON CON HOTEL. CNN reports one person has died of Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Further —

Eleven others who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, while another 61 probable cases have been identified, according to Nancy Nydam, director of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health.

“Probable cases” are people who have symptoms of the disease but have not yet had a laboratory test to confirm the disease — a serious form of noncontagious pneumonia.

“Based on epidemiological evidence we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the (Sheraton Atlanta) during the same time period,” said Nydam. Guests who complained of lung problems and were later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ had attended a convention at the Atlanta hotel in early July.

The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel has been closed since early July while it is being tested to determine whether it is the source of the outbreak. It is one of Dragon Con’s five main hotels, listed as sold out on the con website. Dragon Con begins August 29.

Though the bacterium causing Legionnaires’ has not yet been confirmed at the hotel, Sheraton Atlanta voluntarily shuttered its doors and hired outside experts to conduct testing, Nydam said.

“Sheraton Atlanta remains closed until at least August 11,” Ken Peduzzi, the hotel’s general manager, said in a statement Tuesday. Public health officials and environmental experts are working with the hotel to determine if it is the source of the outbreak, he said.

About one in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die, a recent government report found.

(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING BEGINS. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announces to members that voting for the Aurora Awards is now open, and will continue until September 14.

If you have not yet logged in, or you need to renew your membership, go to the member login page.

If you have not yet been a member of CSFFA, this year or in the past, you can go to the become a member page to join us. Membership costs $10 for the year and is renewed every year in January.

If you just want to see the public ballot, it is here.

The winners will be announced at Can-Con October 18 – 20, 2019 in Ottawa (http://can-con.org/).

(3) WHEATON SUES. The Hollywood Reporter tells why Wheaton filed: “Wil Wheaton Sues Geek & Sundry Over Web Series Profits”.

… Wheaton and his loan-out company Media Dynamics on Monday sued Legendary Geek & Sundry for breach of contract. The actor claims Legendary in 2015 hired him to create, write, executive produce and host a web series called Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana and he’d be paid $50,000 and 50 percent of the net profit from the series. 

Legendary had the exclusive right to distribute and promote the web show, but it was supposed to “consult meaningfully” with Wheaton before doing so, according to the complaint. The actor says Legendary defied that provision and negotiated license agreements with Sinclair Broadcasting, Hulu and Pluto TV without informing him. 

Wheaton expects Legendary has collected significant fees in connection with those deals, and therefore he’s due his share, but says the company won’t let him audit its books. 

Wheaton is seeking at least $100,000 in damages and is asking the court to order that a full accounting be conducted. 

(4) F&SF COVER. Publisher Gordon Van Gelder has unveiled The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sep/Oct 2019 cover, with art by David A. Hardy.

(5) TO INFINITY AND PITTSBURGH. NBC Sports Craig Calcaterra is among the admirers: “Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove shows off his Infinity Gauntlet glove”.

Yesterday Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove showed off his new glove for Players’ Weekend. And while it was a big hit and made me laugh, in hindsight it seems, I dunno . . . inevitable that someone would go with this model.

(6) MORE ON MACMILLAN LIBRARY EBOOK POLICY. In a CNN opinion piece, Vermont librarian Jessamyn West comments on the ongoing controversy regarding Macmillan’s library ebook purchase policy (first tested by Tor Books): “Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books”.

…Public libraries in the United States purchase a lot of e-books, and circulate e-books a lot. According to the Public Library Association, electronic material circulation in libraries has been expanding at a rate of 30% per year; and public libraries offered over 391 million e-books to their patrons in 2017. Those library users also buy books; over 60% of frequent library users have also bought a book written by an author they first discovered in a library, according to Pew. Libraries offer free display space for books in over 16,000 locations nationwide. Even Macmillan admits that “Library reads are currently 45% of our total digital book reads.” But instead of finding a way to work with libraries on an equitable win-win solution, Macmillan implemented a new and confusing model and blamed libraries for being successful at encouraging people to read their books.

Libraries don’t just pay full price for e-books — we pay more than full price. We don’t just buy one book — in most cases, we buy a lot of books, trying to keep hold lists down to reasonable numbers. We accept renewable purchasing agreements and limits on e-book lending, specifically because we understand that publishing is a business, and that there is value in authors and publishers getting paid for their work. At the same time, most of us are constrained by budgeting rules and high levels of reporting transparency about where your money goes. So, we want the terms to be fair, and we’d prefer a system that wasn’t convoluted….

(7) POST-CONZEALAND NZ TOUR OFFERED. Val and Ron Ontell bid fans “Welcome to our 2020 tour of the North and South islands of New Zealand”:  

Back-to-back non-US Worldcons has presented some unique challenges.  One has been to arrange two tours back-to-back, but we have done it.  With our Ireland tour about to begin, we are pleased to announce that we will be running a tour of both islands of New Zealand in connection with CoNZealand in 2020.  

The proposed itinerary is here [PDF file]


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 6, 1874 Charles Fort. Writer and researcher who specialized in anomalous phenomena. The term fortean is sometimes used to characterize such phenomena. No, not genre as such, but certainly an influence on many a writer. The Dover publication, The Complete Books of Charles Fort, that collects together The Book of The Damned Lo!, Wild Talents and New Lands has a foreword by Damon Knight. L. Sprague de Camp reviewed it in Astounding Science-Fiction in the August 1941 issue when it was originally published as The Books of Charles Fort. (Died 1932.)
  • Born August 6, 1877 John Ulrich Giesy. He was one of the early writers in the Sword and Planet genre, with his Jason Croft series  He collaborated with Junius B. Smith on many of his stories though not these which others would call them scientific romances. He wrote a large number of stories featuring the occult detective Abdul Omar aka Semi-Dual and those were written with Smith. I see iBooks has at least all of the former and one of the latter available. Kindle just the latter. (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 6, 1926 Janet Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with Isaac of the Norby Chronicles. Her Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out thirteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 6, 1934 Piers Anthony, 85. Ok I’ll admit that I’m not at all familiar with him as comic fantasy isn’t my usual go-to reading. I know he’s popular so I’m going to ask y’all which of his novels would be a great introduction to him. Go ahead and tell which novels I should read. 
  • Born August 6, 1956 Ian R. MacLeod, 63. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there’s a number of novels I’m intrigued by including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. Anything else y’all would recommend I read? 
  • Born August 6, 1962 Michelle Yeoh, 57. Ok, I have to give her full name of Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng. Wow. Her first meaningful genre roles was as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I actually remember her as Zi Yuan in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the first film of a since-cancelled franchise. And then there’s her dual roles in the the Trek universe where she’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Philippa Georgiou. The forthcoming Section 31 series will involve one of them but I’m not sure which one…
  • Born August 6, 1972 Paolo Bacigalupi, 47. I remember the book group I was part of having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways.

(9) DISNEY V. BULLETPROOF BACKPACKS. “Disney Seeks to Shut Down Avenger and Princess-Themed Bulletproof Backpacks “ says The Hollywood Reporter.

…The “Ballistic Shield” recently unveiled by TuffyPacks, a Houston-based manufacturer of bulletproof backpacks, has a brightly colored picture of the Avengers charging headlong into view, with Captain America and his famous shield front and center.

Amid an epidemic of gun violence in America highlighted by recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, Calif., the TuffyPacks shield is designed to keep children safe from handgun bullets.

TuffyPacks rolled out its latest models, which include a “Disney princess” theme featuring Jasmine from Aladdin, Cinderella, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel from Tangled, less than a month ago. In addition to Disney’s Avengers and Princesses, other themes include “Harry Potter,” “Major League Baseball” and “Camo.” They all retail for $129.

But the new bulletproof backpacks aren’t exactly endorsed by the Walt Disney Co. or Warner Bros. 

“None of these products were authorized by Disney, and we are demanding that those behind this stop using our characters or our other intellectual property to promote sales of their merchandise,” a spokesperson for Disney says in a statement

(10) PLAN B. In a follow-up to a recent Pixel, NPR reports “Amid Protests In Hawaii Against Giant Telescope, Astronomers Look To ‘Plan B'”.

A consortium of scientists hoping to build the world’s largest optical telescope on Hawaii’s tallest peak has applied to site it instead in the Canary Islands amid ongoing protests by native Hawaiians who oppose construction of the instrument on what they consider a sacred volcano.

For weeks, protesters have delayed the start of construction on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea volcano of the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, which astronomers say will have a dozen times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In a written statement on Monday, TMT Executive Director Ed Stone said that obtaining a permit to build in Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa, was meant as a “‘Plan B’ site … should it not be possible to build in Hawaii.” However, he emphasized that Mauna Kea “remains the preferred site.”

(11) SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS. David Wellington shares “Five Things I Learned Writing The Last Astronaut at Terrible Minds.

Everyone in space is ugly and ready for a fight.

Human bodies were never meant to exist in weightless conditions. All the fluid being pumped around your body right now needs gravity to get it to the right place. Think about hanging upside down from a jungle gym, the blood rushing to your head. How long do you think you could handle living like that? How many days in a row?

In microgravity, all of your internal organs climb up into your chest cavity, because the mass of the Earth isn’t holding them down anymore. This makes it a little hard to breathe. Farts collect inside your intestine until the pressure suddenly forces them out when you least want them to. Fluid builds up in places it shouldn’t, and there’s no good way to pump it back out of your tissues. The most dramatic—and obvious—way this effects you is that your face gets super puffy, distorting your features. And that’s when you learn just how much of living with other people is processing their facial expressions. Since everyone in space looks like they have the mumps, people start to get irritable. Innocent comments get misconstrued, and tempers flare. I spoke with one astronaut who joked that in the future one big career option is going to be “space lawyer”. Because of all the fistfights that are sure to break out during long missions to Mars. Of course, bouncing off other people all the time and getting in their way is inevitable given the close quarters. It might be better than the alternative, though…

(12) NOT WITH A BORROWED TONGUE. But maybe with this one: “Glasgow scientists develop artificial tongue to tackle fake whisky”.

An artificial “tongue” which can taste subtle differences between whiskies could help tackle the counterfeit alcohol trade, according to engineers.

They have built a tiny taster which exploits the properties of gold and aluminium to test differences between the spirits.

The technology can pick up on the subtler distinctions between the same whisky aged in different barrels.

It can tell the the difference between whiskies aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.

Engineers say the tongue “tasted” the differences with greater than 99% accuracy.

Alasdair Clark, of the University of Glasgow’s school of engineering, said: “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures.

(13) SKOAL! “Archaeologists find ‘Viking drinking hall’ during Orkney dig”reports the BBC. Chip Hitchcock sends the link with a note – “The Orkneys appear to have had many Earl/Jarl Sigurds; AFAICT, the one mentioned here is not the one who died in 1014 fighting for an Irish crown, as Debra Doyle filked in ‘Raven Banner’ back before she became known as a fiction writer.”

Archaeologists have found what could be a Viking drinking hall during a dig in Orkney.

The site, at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to date back to the 10th Century and may have been used by the chieftain Sigurd.

…Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga – a historical narrative of the archipelago – as the home of Earl Sigurd, a powerful 12th Century chieftain.

The name Skaill, which is a Norse word for “hall”, suggests the site could have been used for drinking and was high-status.

(14) PLAYING CATCH-UP. The Goodreads Blog does a rundown of “The 24 Most Popular Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels of 2019 (So Far)”. Some were published last year, but other items are things you missed while doing your Hugo reading.

A mercenary seeks a missing child, a dead man’s brain is reactivated, a woman travels to the Mayan underworld, a disease drives its victims mad with false memories. These are just a few of the plots that have captured readers’ attention in this year’s batch of science fiction and fantasy novels.

To identify the books resonating with readers, we looked at sci-fi and fantasy novels published so far this year in the U.S. Then we filtered that list by average rating (everything on this list has at least a 3.5-star rating), number of reader reviews, and additions to readers’ Want to Read shelves (which is how we measure buzz and anticipation).

(15) HABEAS CORPUS. BBC finds out “What happens to a body donated to science?”

A man who donated his mother’s body to what he thought was Alzheimer’s research learned later it was used to test explosives. So what does happen when your body is donated to medical science?

Last week new details of a lawsuit emerged against The Biological Resource Centre in Arizona following an FBI raid in 2014 in which gruesome remains of hundreds of discarded body parts were discovered.

The now closed centre is accused of illegally selling body parts against the donors wishes.

Newly unreleased court documents revealed that families of those whose bodies had been donated to the centre said they believed their relatives remains would be used for medical and scientific research.

Jim Stauffer is one of the multiple plaintiffs suing the centre. He told Phoenix station ABC 15 he believed his mother’s donated body would be used to study Alzheimer’s, a disease she had, but he later found out it was used by the military to examine the effects of explosives.

He says on the paperwork he was given by the centre he specifically ticked ‘no’ when asked if he consented to the body being used to test explosives.

So how does the body donation business operate in the US and what expectations do people have about these facilities?

(16) COURT MUSICIAN. “Simpsons composer Alf Clausen sues Fox following ‘firing'” – BBC has the story.

A man who wrote music for The Simpsons for 27 years is suing its makers for allegedly firing him due to his age.

Composer Alf Clausen, 78, said he was sacked from the show in 2017.

In his claim, Clausen states he was informed that the show was “taking the music in a different direction”.

“This reason was pretextual and false,” the claim reads. “Instead, plaintiff’s unlawful termination was due to perceived disability and age.” The BBC has approached Fox for a comment.

At the time of Clausen’s departure, the show’s bosses stated they “tremendously value[d] Alf Clausen’s contributions” to the show.

According to trade paper Variety, Clausen was replaced by Bleeding Fingers Music, a music production company co-founded by Russell Emanuel, Hans Zimmer and Steve Kofsky.

Clausen’s suit says his replacement “was substantially younger in age, who was not only paid less, but was not disabled”.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Destination Moon 1950–On The Set With George Pal 1949” on YouTube is an hour-long show, first broadcast as an episode of City at Night on Los Angeles station KTLA in 1949, from the set of Destination Moon that includes rare interviews with Robert A. Heinlein and Chesley Bonestell.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Eric Franklin, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Nina Shepardson, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/6/19 In The File, The Mighty File, The Pixel Scrolls Tonight

  1. Piers Anthony. His first novel, “Chthon” was nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo. Straight SF and a still a classic. But if you want to make a living as a professional novelist you have to give the people what they want and his magical fantasies are quite entertaining.

  2. (15) I’d be angry too, if I’d found out that my former family member was used in a way I’d refused to authorize.
    (FWIW, my father donated his body to the university in the “big city” nearest his home, by prior arrangement. But someone got his corneas in a transplant. This is why I sometimes describe him as a “working stiff”.)


    “Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng” would be the full name. The “Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri” is a conferred title like “The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor…”

  4. (8) I first came across Ian R. MacLeod in Gardner Dozois’ annual collections, and was impressed by his alt-Lennon story “Snodgrass” and particularly by the novella “The Summer Isles”; later I learned that MacLeod had first written the latter as a novel, and that Dozois suggested that MacLeod extract the novella from it, which went on to win two noteworthy awards. The novel version now seems to be available in an inexpensive Kindle edition.

  5. @8: that Fort at least used to be considered genre adjacent is shown by the character Charles Fort Jaunte in Bester’s The Stars My Destination — not to mention the number of stories that amount to instantiation of “I think we’re property”, a quote that Google hits attribute to him and definitely a stfnal idea.

    @8bis: wrt Piers Anthony, his 15 minutes were over a long time ago; his serious work from the 1960’s had aged badly (to the extent that it was ever worthwhile) by the 1970’s, the bits of later serious work (e.g. Phase) were even more mechanical, and the Xanth books started vaguely interesting (like non-Oz Baum without so much twee) and quickly got creepy. I suppose you could try the first of that series, A Spell for Chameleon, if you were able to ~read a lot more books in a year than I recall you saying you could.

    also also @8: Ian R. MacLeod recommendation: “The Chop Girl”. Haven’t read it since it came out 20 years ago, but remember its impact.

    @12: there was a related story, possibly linked in that one, talking about the possibility that a post-Brexit UK would have to negotiate different rules for whisky since it would be negotiating with the US — where some left-coasters have come up with a process that is supposed to produce fine whisky in 24 hours rather than the 3-year minimum the label now requires. I wonder whether the “tongue” can tell the difference; I suppose it might, since it’s identifying profiles rather than reporting quality.

  6. @OGH: but what about the herbaceous dragon award ballot? Are they one with the backson?

  7. Re: Michelle Yeoh. “Her first meaningful genre roles […]”

    Do you mean her first Western genre roles? Because I’m pretty sure the “Heroic Trio” movies (which I loved) were meaningful in at least several different senses. And they were most definitely fantasy. And were five years before Bond.

    “Meaningful” just seems like a really odd word to use there.

  8. 8) Several of Michelle Yeoh’s earlier Hong Kong films have genre elements — Butterfly Sword is wuxia fantasy, the first Heroic Trio film is essentially a superhero film, and the second Heroic Trio has more of a post-apocalyptic/Escape from New York vibe.

  9. (8) Not counting the aforementioned Charles Fort Jaunte, I first heard of Fort by way of Ron Goulart’s parody “A New Lo!” in one of the late-1950s Best of F&SF paperback collections.

  10. 8) again — As for Piers Anthony, I admit that I never read any of the Xanth books. I did enjoy the first couple Proton/Phaze books (SF world crosses over into fantasyland, or maybe it was the other way ’round), but that was a loooooong time ago.

    The one of his that always stuck with me (although again I haven’t read it in 30+ years) is Thousandstar, an SF novel about a race across a hostile world to loot an Ancient site in which the POV protagonist is (IIRC) a sentient blob sort of thing.

  11. If you really want to check out Piers Anthony, I’d recommend his Hugo-shortlisted novel Macroscope, and the first book in the “Incarnations of Immortality” urban fantasy series*, On a Pale Horse. But honestly – and I speak as someone who in his late childhood through early twenties identified as an Anthony fan – don’t bother.

    *Is there a term for fantasy set in a world not unlike ours culturally, but in which magic plays the role that technology does for us? Things like Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books, or Harry Turtledove’s The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump. “Urban Fantasy” doesn’t seem quite right. Anyway, this is the subgenre that “Incarnations of Immortality” actually falls into.

  12. 8) The only thing by Piers Anthony I ever read was Chthon, which I did not like. To be fair, I was fifteen or sixteen when I read it, but I was massively disappointed that what had sounded like a cool SF prison break novel based on the blurb turned out to be a story about n thl jub jnf va ybir jvgu n jbzna jub gheaf bhg gb or uvf zbgure be fbzrguvat. The prison scenes were good, the rest of the book was just a mess and full of what struck my 16-year-old self as really weird sex. Though it was certainly memorable, considering that I still remember disliking Chthon 30 years later. In fact, Chthon and a bad experience with a Michael Moorcock Jerry Cornelius collection at around the same time turned me off the New Wave for years. Okay, so Chthon is not really considered a New Wave novel, but I had picked up from somewhere that late 1960s/early 1970s SF was New Wave and since I disliked two late 1960s/early 1970s books in short succession and for similar reasons, I decided that the New Wave was not for me. I eventually revised that view.

    I never read Xanth. From what I heard, it’s no great loss.

  13. I really agree with David Goldfarb – and yes, I liked Piers Antony’s books in my teens to early twenties. I would add Omnivore (but not it’s sequels) to the list of possibly worth reading and I would add Steppe except for one creepy scene.

  14. I’ll add my name to the list of was-Anthony-fan-as-teen folks. Most of it doesn’t hold up very well–and that’s not counting the creepy/icky stuff. But I certainly have a few fond memories.

  15. David Goldfarb on August 6, 2019 at 9:55 pm said:

    Is there a term for fantasy set in a world not unlike ours culturally, but in which magic plays the role that technology does for us?

    I think TV Tropes calls it Magitek.

  16. Mike Glyer on August 6, 2019 at 8:42 pm said:

    Nope. Could it be that the spotted dragon award ballot is extinct?

    All that’s left is a faint breeze, a brief shadow over the sun and a slight whiff of sulfur…

  17. 15) Ok, so I actually work for a body donation company, NOT Biological Resource Center, and let me just say that those guys were shady as hell, possibly engaged in illegal practices and are now out of business. Also, a massive pain for anyone else in the industry, because now we’re being tarred with the same brush.

    All week long I’ve been fielding calls from families worried about their loved ones, explaining how the process works and assuring them were not blowing up their folks.

    For the record, any reputable Whole body donation organization is going to be upfront about the fact that you’re not going to be able to direct the research your loved one goes to, and they’re ALSO going to ask ahead of time if you’re willing to donate towards military or destructive research (if any is going on at the time) and if so, have you sign forms stating as much.

    If your intent is to donate for a specific type of research (alzheimers, cancer, etc.), Your best bet is to find a research organization or medical school conducting a study in the area your interested in and see if they’re accepting donors. Be aware you’ll likely have to pay for the arrangements.

    If you’re looking to defray funeral costs or just want to further scientific research in general, check out whole body donation. We’re able to cover all the costs for the families of donors BECAUSE we’re a for-profit company; we get our compensation from the research organizations we contract with that are in need of tissue.

  18. I used to read some Anthony when I was younger, as Goldfarb said, I’d try “Incarnations of Immortality”. And start with book six. Not read it in a long time, but it might be the one that still work.

    Otherwise, I think he has dated badly. And there’s a lot of trigger warnings for some of his stuff. But his Xanth books are among those that are available in almost every second hand book shop in the world, so I still try one once and again for whimsy.

  19. I have gratitude for Piers Anthony, because our son, who had fairly bad dyslexia as a kid, finally got into reading after listening to an audiobook version of A SPELL FOR CHAMELEON. He liked it enough to want more, but other audiobooks weren’t available at the time. So he took six months to work his way thru the second Xanth book, did the third book more quickly, and eventually got up to a fairly normal reading speed. (Though even as an adult in his 40’s now — well, shit, don’t I feel like a geezer all of a sudden? — he still listens to a LOT of audiobooks, now that they’re much more available.)

    I enjoyed some of Anthony’s books myself back in the early days. Liked the first couple of “Incarnations of Immortality” series. (Originally planned as a four book series, popular enough he added a fifth and sixth volume, but most people who’ve read them all say those two last volumes are skippable.) I remember being impressed by Macroscope, but don’t remember why at this late date.

  20. “Liked the first couple of “Incarnations of Immortality” series. (Originally planned as a four book series, popular enough he added a fifth and sixth volume, but most people who’ve read them all say those two last volumes are skippable.) “

    There are eight books (and agree that the last two of them are skipable).

  21. My recommendation on Piers Anthony is, don’t, but if you do, only the first three volumes of any given series, at most.

    And while A Spell for Chameleon is clever, honestly, if you have reached the age of critical judgment when you first read it, the creepy stuff is there from the very beginning. But it is fun, for readers young or naive enough not to get caught on those bits.

  22. Severe trigger warnings for Antonys Battle Circle books. Don’t read them unless your kind of fiction involves dystopia, abuse, and endings that makes everyone involved sick and horrified. Same goes for Bio of a Space Tyrant

    It was the stuff I liked when I was younger. I have not dared to reread them.

    One thing I used to like with Anthonys books, sometimes more than the books, was his personal descriptions about his life at the end of them. It made them personal in some way. He also has a newsletter I found interesting some 15-20 years ago when it was more unusual with authors trying to interact with readers on the web.

    He also seemed to care very much about new writers and had a page with help for them. I have no idea if that is still helpful (or if it ever was). He got me interested enough to buy his biography (Bio of an Ogre), but I have yet to read it. He gave me the impression of someone with strong opinions, hard to work with, but very much caring about others and wanting them to have a good chance.

    I guess most people know about it, but there is an interesting story about the 15-year old fan who run away from home, thinking he could live with Anthony (audio episode about it here, transcript here – scroll down to “Act One: Just South of the Unicorns”). I think the description of Anthony’s reaction to having an unknown boy at his doorstep gives you a feel of him as a person. And at the end, they even phone Anthony, some 25 years later.

  23. Here’s also Anthony’s own version of his encounter with the runaway fan. Some parts of it reinforces my opinion about Anthony being a difficult person to deal with.

    Oh, and when I tried to find it, I stumbled upon his supposed advice to a minister from 2012:

    “Gay marriage vs civil rights. I do seem them as different issues, though there may be parallels. I have always thought, as I think you do, that marriage is naturally between a man and a woman. But I remember the schools for whites and blacks, supposedly separate but equal, that turned out to be separate but vastly unequal. If gays are limited to a civil service theoretically equal to marriage, would it really be so? My concern is that it would not. So I think I have to come down on the side of marriage for gays, same as for heteros. I remarked once that I would not want my daughter to marry a gay, and now some readers take that to mean that I don’t approve of gay marriage. No, it’s that for a straight woman to marry a gay man is a likely exercise in heartbreak. Were my daughter gay, I’d support her marrying another gay woman.

    But I think for you it has to be more difficult. For one thing, you have serious religious constraints that I don’t; your denomination’s stance on gay marriage has to have force, regardless of your personal position. I don’t know that stance, but assume it is against gay marriage, as I think yours is. As long as you align, you have no problem, as I see it. But if you believe in it and your church doesn’t, you have a problem, and if it accepts it and you don’t, you have a problem. If your church asks you to perform a gay marriage, could you override your personal sentiment? But regardless, the harder question I would pose to you is is this really a matter of conscience for you, that gays should not have the same rights as heteros, or is it personal bias? I would ask what would Jesus say? I think of him saying impatiently to let the dead bury their dead, and thus to let the gays marry gays, imperfect as the parallel may be. So I think he would approve it, as a matter of humanity; God accepts all kinds, including sinners, including prostitutes, including gays. But what counts is not what this agnostic thinks, but what you, committed to Jesus in a way I will never be, think. If you should see Jesus as supporting gay marriage, or as opposing it, I think your course will come clear.”

  24. Years and years ago, I read a number of Anthony novels, including a couple of Xanth novels (which I got pretty tired of). When I read a short story collection, and read “In the Barn”…I suddenly discovered I didn’t want to read Anthony any more.

  25. Anthony seems to have a hard time understanding why his books are considered sexist. From another recent newsletter:

    “In Apull I reread the first Xanth novel, A Spell for Chameleon, and found it worthy. Now I am wondering: from time to time it and Xanth has been accused of sexism. Paramount even rejected it for a movie, after seemingly committing to that movie, because the new boss called it sexist. So the charge has consequences. I did not see sexism when I wrote it or when I reread it over forty years later. Xanth does parody sexism, as it does other things including the attitudes of men toward women, freaking out at the sight of panties. For example princess, later queen Irene had no truck with sexism and good legs. Maybe some readers just don’t recognize parody when they encounter it. So now I would like to pin down this charge. Is there anybody out there who read that novel and found it sexist? Please email me and tell me why. At one point I believe someone said that Chameleon herself was sexist because she varied with the cycles of the moon. But if that is true, all natural women are sexist, no? So please let me know, and I will discuss it in a future column.”

    If someone is up for it, his email is available using the page menu.

  26. As a teenager I loved Piers Anthony’s novels; humorous fantasy may or may not have been rare, but I, at least, rarely encountered it at the time. (And I, too, loved the little biographical slice-of-life he put at the end of his books.)

    Now… the Suck Fairy has utterly destroyed every Anthony novel I’ve picked up to re-read.

  27. Charles Fort wrote several short stories and a novel titled THE OUTCAST MANUFACTERERS. I have read it was written in the second person. There is a Fort website run by someone named Mr X, coming out of Canada. It has various downloads.

    Piers Anthony’s story “In the Barn” from DANGEROUS VISIONS is his best story.

  28. 8) I’m going to break with the consensus and recommend Prostho Plus as the best Piers Anthony to try if you really feel you must. Light, short, fun, and the sexism is only at “of its time” levels. You can do much worse.

  29. The AI in Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” is now the narrator of a full length forthcoming novel Catfishing on CatNet which she sent me as a PDF and naturally is what I’m reading now. (Naomi that it is, not the AI.) Is it good? Oh yes! If I remember correctly, it’s due out in November. Though it’s on Tor Teen, anyone will find it enjoyable.

  30. gottacook on August 6, 2019 at 7:48 pm said:
    (8) I first came across Ian R. MacLeod in Gardner Dozois’ annual collections, and was impressed by his alt-Lennon story “Snodgrass” and particularly by the novella “The Summer Isles”; later I learned that MacLeod had first written the latter as a novel, and that Dozois suggested that MacLeod extract the novella from it, which went on to win two noteworthy awards. The novel version now seems to be available in an inexpensive Kindle edition.

    I remember thinking that The Summer Isles novella was outstanding when I read it in that collection. I must read it again.

  31. Of Piers Anthony I remember liking Killobyte, light but fun, and I don’t recall anything TOO weird about the sex (though it WAS a long time ago that I read it, and I might have missed something).

  32. Title credit! Thanks, Mike.

    Chalk me up as another teen fan of Anthony who suspects his books have been heavily edited by the Suck Fairy in the intervening years. I remember the Incarnations of Immorality books started off strong and declined in quality pretty steadily as they went on.

  33. @Sophie Jane
    I remember those stories, but I’d forgotten the author. Yes, they’re good.

  34. For Incarnations of Immorality, I think it is enough to read book two and six. Those together are the ones I liked best.

  35. Just about everyone I have seen try to get into Anthony’s Xanth in the last decade or so AND as an adult, seems to have bounced hard. The few people who still seem to get into them are tweens or teens (and not even close to all of them) and the few people who enjoyed them as adults started decades ago.

    I refuse to look again at anything of his, because I did enjoy Xanth and Proton/Phase as a teen, and the excerpts I have seen in more recent reviews have all been heavily rewritten by the Suck Fairy. I want to preserve my vague sense of having liked them then. Also, if they really are that bad, I have too many good books I haven’t read at all yet, and books to savour on a reread, never mind this idea of rereading books to ruin them.

  36. If anyone wants to learn anything about how the various fairies have re-edited Anthony’s work (without the effort of rereading), this podcast about Spell for Chameleon http://www.idontevenownatelevision.com/2014/08/15/017-a-spell-for-chameleon-w-jesse-dangerously/ might be of interest.

    (looking at my records, I see that I read the first 17 of the Xanth novels and the first 7 of the Incarnations (my sense of completeness might drive me to read the last of those)).

  37. Just for completeness, you can count me as another teen/tween fan of the Xanth books. I got tired of them after the first few, though, and I don’t think I ever read any of Anthony’s serious books.

  38. @David Goldfarb / @Xtifr: a panel on urban fantasy at the 2012 WFC (where urban fantasy was the theme) had serious disagreements over WJWilliams’s Metropolitan (&seq) for the same reason. I’m not sure “Magitek” has legs — this is the first I’ve heard of it (but there’s a lot I haven’t heard of), but it seems a plausible label for the Poughkeepsie side of fantasy (although there are a number of examples much better than that implies).

    @Paul Weimer: “In the Barn” is Anthony’s story for Again, Dangerous Visions; AFAICT, he used the slot as a platform against eating meat. I disagree with the position and the analogy, but DV stories were not supposed to be easy reads.

    @Hampus Eckerman: sexism at a level beyond even the times was a criticism of Anthony I neglected to include in my original rip. I have no intention of engaging with him; I don’t have the energy or persuasiveness, or the patience to deal with “It was just satire!”

    @Sophie Jane: fair enough — PP is fun and (in distant memory) not stuck with the obvious flaws of a lot of his other work. It’s a one-off fix-up, so there’s no wanna-know-what-happened-next to conflict with any never-touching-that-again.

    @Joe H: the first two sets of Dragon nominees look tolerable; I won’t comment on short categories (I haven’t read most) or many other categories (taste).

  39. @Chip Hitchcock: Yeah, I don’t know if the TV Tropes term will catch on–they’re popular enough that it’s possible, but not popular enough that I’d place bets–but they were the only site I was certain would have a term for it.

  40. I read a ton of Anthony’s books when I was a kid.

    The general consensus that I’ve seen for his works is, “Stop after Book One in any series.” And that’s … mostly accurate (although many posters here seem to disagree when it comes to “Incarnations of Immortality”).

    As others have said: His writing is … problematic. Even A Spell for Chameleon is riddled with issues that I didn’t see when I was a twelve-year-old, but that current me cringes at when I try to re-read. And I think that Xanth is the best of his series in terms of avoiding problematic things.

    He creates interesting worlds that become increasingly problematic as the series continue.

  41. I’m sort of amazed that people are recommending the second Incarnations of Immortality (Bearing an Hourglass). By my reckoning the suck fairy didn’t need to bother touching that one. The protagonist was desperately clutching the idiot ball like he was terrified of it getting away from him. And that was my opinion when I still liked reading Piers Antony books – liked them enough that I bought the next one, which wasn’t nearly as bad (But still not as good as the first. Stop there)

    Gur Qrivy gevpxrq uvz vagb guvaxvat ur jnf cebwrpgrq vagb n cnenyyry havirefr – juvpu jnf fb evqvphybhfyl chycl fpv-sv gung V pna’g oryvrir ur gubhtug vg jnf erny. Rira jvgubhg vg orvat, lbh xabj, Gur Qrivy.

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