Pixel Scroll 8/18 The Ballot of the Sad Sharpei

I have to pack and get to their airport, so I will scroll and skate.

(1) Vox posted a story that celebrates the Chronicles of Prydain as “the best fantasy series ever.” (The site Vox, not the person Vox.)

Let me tell you about the best fantasy/adventure series ever written for young people.

Nope, it’s not about Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, I like Harry Potter just fine. I read all seven of those books aloud to my kids, which, believe me, takes some dedication. And I’ve read and loved dozens and dozens of other sci-fi and fantasy books for youngsters over the years, including the ones with the Hobbits and the ones with the dragons (no, the other one with the dragons).

But one fantasy series will always come first in my heart: The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. Published in the late ’60s, it was one of the first true high fantasy series written by an American, and the first to rival the British greats like Tolkien.

Loosely based on Welsh myths, the books tell a fairly conventional story: A young boy bored with his ordinary life sets off on a series of adventures, learns some lessons, confronts a great evil, becomes a man, and assumes a place of leadership. It’s all squarely in Joseph Campbell territory.

(2) John C. Wright contests statements about Puppy leaders in Yes! Magazine. (An article linked by Pixel Scroll the other day: here).

As for the sentence quoted in the hit piece, let me say a word or three:

I have no views on People of Color and have never written a single word on the topic. Baptism is not a racial characteristic but a spiritual one. Sainthood is not an inherited characteristic.

My views on woman are those of a dyed-in-the-wool romantic of the chivalrous Christian school, who adores both Saint Mary and Saint Mary Magdalen as saints. I also have a healthy fascination with the character of Nausicaa from Miyazaki’s VALLEY OF THE WIND (see below) and an unhealthy fascination for the character of the Catwoman. And this is being condemned, why, again exactly? Because I respect both saints and sinners of the fair sex, both princesses and cat-burglars? Why is having contempt for woman a sign of Political Correctness, again, exactly, please?

My views, to the best of my knowledge, and have no point of overlap with the dour cynicism of my publisher and friend Theodore Beale, so the sentence as it stands is meaningless. It is like saying, “The views of the Easter Bunny and Count Dracula on avoiding the drinking human blood during Lent go beyond the pale.” But there is no view the Bunny and the Count share on this point.

My views on homosexuals are the views of the Roman Catholic Church, which is to say, the views of Western Civilization since the time of Constantine onward. Those views are ones of love and respect, more respect indeed by far than felt by those who would encourage the sexual desecration of the human person. Why is pitiless contempt for those suffering sexual aberration a sign of Political Correctness, again, exactly, please?

(3) Who do the lurkers really support? “Almost No One Sided with #GamerGate: A Research Paper on the Internet’s Reaction to Last Year’s Mob”.

Lately I’ve been troubled by the fact that GamerGate’s supporters and I seem to have completely opposite perceptions about what most people think of their movement. I’ve had GamerGaters tell me that most people don’t equate GamerGate with online harassment and that most people (or at least, most gamers) are actually on GamerGate’s side. How is it that our perceptions of “what most people think” are so different? Could it be that we all live inside some social-media echo chamber that makes us oblivious to other points of view?

[Thanks to Rob for one of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

882 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/18 The Ballot of the Sad Sharpei

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Bruce. We are ourselves without cat at the moment, having lost our two a few years ago, one to renal failure and the other to cancer. Hearing about Montano brings up all the memories of their final days, but I didn’t actually break down until reading “Dirge Without Music” a few pages back. That’s a devastating poem.

    One of our neighbors has cat who’s often wandering about and yowling for attention and affection (because having only one household to worship him is clearly insufficient). I’ll look for him today and be sure to give him all the cuddles in Montano’s name.

  2. @ Soon Lee: I finished your first verse and gave you a second; someone else will have to do the third. 🙂

    I am the very model of a billionaire philanthropist,
    At night I lurk in shadows fighting crime and urban terrorists…

    Accomplished at both planning and inventing things mechanical
    As long as they are bat-themed and make evil-doers panic-al
    I’m good at finding clues and solving riddles inexplicable
    My foes are quite creative but still thoroughly despicable
    I have a teenaged ward who is occasionally hysterical
    You call me with a spotlight that illumines tropospherical

    Perhaps I was inspired by a showing of Die Fledermaus
    Or maybe it was Zorro carving letters on somebody’s house
    And though I am the bane of every practicing psychiatrist
    I am the very model of a billionaire philanthropist

    I know my super friends are all heroic and fantastical
    They let me on their teams though I am quite iconoclastical
    And still I find my trust in them is usually precarious
    I formulate contingencies should they turn out nefarious
    A martial artist polymath with peak human conditioning
    I am a vigilante, I don’t waste my time petitioning
    I act the bon vivant, but in my heart I am a misanthrope
    And if you break my back I’ll just get better with a piece of rope.

    I dish out POW ZAP WHAM and gainsay villainous fanfaronades
    I let my TV sidekick dish the dirt about my sex-capades
    And though by now I should have killed my homicidal nemesis
    I am the very model of a billionaire philanthropist

  3. @Doire
    Everyone else, why is JCW spelling them testacles? Is it some allusion I’m too educated to understand?

    It’s because JCW doesn’t know bollocks.

  4. Bruce, I am glad that you were with your cat at the end. I have never managed it. My previous cat died at the vet while I was at a funeral, and the one before that died (painlessly in her sleep, of a heart attack, while curled up on one of my sweaters) when I was in Galsgow for the 1995 WorldCon. To this day I feel guilty about having left her behind. My vet told me that kidney failure is not painful.

    One of my friends has just learned that her beloved cat has died – while she was in Spokane. And not all the entreaties to Bast by our numerous pagan friends managed to let her seen him again. 🙁

  5. Nicole — it was a toss-up between “Dirge” and this:

    Touch me!
    It’s so easy to leave me
    All alone with the memory
    Of my days in the sun…
    If you touch me, you’ll understand what happiness is
    Look, a new day
    Has begun…

  6. Anna: Oh, that’s hard. It’s one thing to know the guilt isn’t warranted. Feeling it, now, that’s another.

  7. You all misunderestimate JCW. His statement was an elaborate setup for Richard Brandt’s punchline.

  8. Page 17: reads Rev Bob’s and Soon Lee’s start. Gets very excited:
    “OMG! Criminal rhymes with mineral! You can totally use that and do something like:

    “In short, in beating criminals by using brain or using fist
    I am the very model of a billionaire philanthropist.”

    *Fails to notice: comments are from 6 hours ago.
    **Fails to remember: Fundamental nature of File770.

    Turns to page 18: sees Bloodstone75 CRUSHED it. And also crushed Greg.

    Jesus effing Christ, that’s good. Who… Who are you? The scanning is goddamn perfect. You’re Stephen Sondheim, aren’t you?

    Seriously, that’s pro-level writing. Can we buy your stuff somewhere?

  9. @Greg:

    I don’t remember if I posted this anywhere at the time, but it’s at least two months old now and hopefully a repeat won’t be unwelcome this weekend. I call it “At the Con,” and I trust I can be forgiven for blending the two versions of the original into one for the filk…

    So ya
    Thought ya
    Might like to
    Go to the con…

    To feel the thrill of adulation
    That “cool writer!” throng…

    Tell me, has something annoyed you, snowflake?
    Isn’t this how you were told it would be?
    If you wanna find out why you won’t win the prize
    You’ll just have to man up and open your eyes!

    Are those SJWs, singin’ lobby filk tonight?
    Put ’em up against the wall!
    That booth in the dealer’s room – are those Tor books I see?
    Put ’em up against the wall…
    Why, that one’s an atheist!
    And that one’s a GIRL!
    Who let all these lefties into your world?
    There’s some reading fanfic!
    And there – queer books with PLOTS!
    Why, it’s almost as if
    They don’t all worship Vox!

  10. @RevBob:

    Nice work! I have a File770-specific filk in mind if I can find the time, damnit.

    Any chance you might tackle “Comfortably Numb?” (it’s my personal favorite song from “The Wall.” Well, that and “Nobody Home.”

  11. @Greg:

    I’ll take a look, but no promises; I am dreadfully shy of spoons at the moment.

  12. Someone can take it from here.


    Are there any Puppies in there?
    Just bark if you can here me.
    Are there any slates to vote?

    Come on now
    I hear you’ve got no rockets, yeah
    Well, I can ease your pain
    And get you rockets once again

    I’l need some nominations first
    Just the basic pups
    Can you show them how to vote?

    There is no slate, you are deceiving
    A distant CHORF’s lies on the horizon
    You are only speaking in PC
    Your lips move but I can hear the lies you’re saying
    When I was a child I there was a dogma
    The Maoists purged all that was good
    Now I’ve got that feeling once again
    I can’t explain, you would not understand
    This is just how I am
    I have become Puppiedom’s fan

  13. @Bruce: Thank you. That’s just what I needed today. Hope you’re managing (as much as it’s possible to manage, which may not be much).

  14. @Bruce —

    Even by the high bar set by previous filk efforts, that’s amazing. Sorrow can be a spur to creativity.

    How about:

    There is no slate, you are projecting,
    for SJWs always lie

  15. Bruce Baugh:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Montano. It hurts so much when they go — but we would not give up our time with them, even if it would erase that pain.

  16. After 3 weeks I’m finally catching up; this was the second-to-last old ~20-page File770 thread I have not yet read.

    I’ve been traveling for a month, visiting friends and relatives before and after Sasquan (plans and arrangements that were made quite some time ago, which could not be changed without enormous expense). A month ago, right before I was due to leave, I went through what Bruce has just gone through.

    And I will echo what he said: The threads here, and the fun, and the intelligence, and the wit, have been a real boon in dealing with that loss and knowing what what would be missing when I finally returned home.

    I don’t even remember now how I found my way to File770 last April. All I remember is the amazing intelligence of the interactions here, the reassurance that the Hugos were going to be okay, the humor (often so dark as to be utterly macabre), the learning of new things from all of you every single day, and the way we’ve all become a community.

    I haven’t been to that many Worldcons, but every time I go to another one, I feel a little more at home than the last. This one was certainly a lot nicer because of my interaction with Filers.

    Something Mike Resnick said many years ago particularly strikes a chord with me: “a sentiment I’ve voiced many times, is that whoever said you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family was dead wrong. I’ve chosen my family, and I go to its reunion just about every Labor Day.”

    I’ve got a few responses to other unrelated things said in the comments on this post, but first I just wanted to say: Thank you all for being so damn amazing, and for making things just a little bit easier.

  17. cmm: Long before I lived in the South or had ever seen kudzu, I read a short story set in North Carolina where kudzu was either the “bad guy” or the creepy signifier of Bad Things a-Comin. The author made reference to how kudzu can grow up to a foot a day in high summer, and the story had something to do with a house being encroached upon by kudzu from all sides.

    Chris M.: I’m pretty sure this is a story by Karl Edward Wagner called “Where the Summer Ends.”

    There’s an interesting piece about that story here.

  18. JCW: We have actually read the foundational books of the SF genre that these Morlocks despise.

    Aaron: I’d be willing to lay heavy odds that the average File770 commenter has read far more “foundational” science fiction works than most of the Pups – including no small number of the Puppy leaders.

    Bruce Baugh: I would gladly join a bet that, say, the average poster here has read more of the foundational works of sf – and probably enjoyed more of them – than any of the Puppies leaders.

    This was something that really struck me when a Puppy who had dropped in talked about how “Totaled” wasn’t the sort of story they usually read, but that they had really liked it; in fact, it had made them cry. And they were baffled about the lukewarm response of a lot of the commenters here to that story.

    And then it kind of hit me: As SFF fans who do often read that sort of story, File770ers read it and think, “hmmm, yes… Flowers for Algernon, The Whisperer in Darkness, Donovan’s Brain, The Ship Who Sang… and of course, there are, for good or ill, the inevitable comparisons.

    But the Puppy who never usually reads that sort of story reads it and says “Wow! I’ve never read anything like that before! That’s really amazing!”.

    File770ers read JCW and think, “Ugh, really lame C.S. Lewis fanfic”. Puppies read it and think, “Wow, that’s really inventive!”

    For people who haven’t necessarily read widely and deeply in the SFF genre, a lot of the Puppy stories may well seem amazing. Thus, their disbelief when non-Puppies say, “No, honestly, it really just isn’t that good.”

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