Pixel Scroll 8/24/17 Is The Grisly Pixel Scrolling?

(1) THE GREAT UNREAD. James Davis Nicoll fesses up – now you can, too: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works It May Surprise You To Learn I Have Not Yet Read Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Who knew there were 20 sff books altogether than he hadn’t read, much less ones not by Castalia House authors? Here are a few examples:

  • Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta by Doris Lessing
  • The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
  • England Swings SF edited by Judith Merril

(2) MOVING DAY. Meanwhile, at another of his platforms, James Davis Nicoll has gone silent while he works on moving that website.

Why was my site down? Because it turns out the soft-on-Nazis fuckwits running DreamHost thought it would be a good idea to host the Daily Stormer. My site will be moving. Until it has been moved, I won’t be updating it; I will go back to posting reviews on DW.

(3) GENRE TENSIONS. Here’s what Teleread’s Paul St. John Mackintosh deemed to be the takeaway from an all-star panel at Helsinki: “Worldcon 75: Horror and the World Fantasy Award”.

[Stephen] Jones pointed to the origins of the WFA Awards and their parent convention, the World Fantasy Convention, during the horror boom of the mid-1970s. The first WFC, held in Providence, RI in 1975, had as its theme “The Lovecraft Circle,” and that Lovecraftian association has persisted ever since, despite the name on the billboard. Jones attributed the perceived bias towards horror at fantasy and other conventions to the view that “the horror guys the people who go to all the fun conventions.” [Ellen] Datlow, conversely, reported that “from the horror people’s point of view, in the past ten years, they always feel there’s a bias towards fantasy.” Her analysis of actual awards and nominations showed no bias either way, and she saw this as “all perception,” depending on which end of the imaginative literature spectrum it’s seen from. [John] Clute described the situation as “pretty deeply confusing altogether,” given that the WFC externally was intended as a fantasy convention, and the final result has become “terminologically inexact,” though Jones pointed out that “the community itself has changed and mutated, as has the genre.”

(4) VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. Simon Owens reveals “What’s behind the meteoric rise of science fiction podcasts?” – and these are just the drama podcasts, never mind all the nonfiction ones…

According to Valenti, a serialized fiction podcast is an inexpensive way for aspiring filmmakers to gain recognition in the industry. “The reason you’re seeing all these shows crop up is because it’s so much less expensive to experiment and prove yourself as a storyteller in this medium, more than any other,” he said. It used to be that Hollywood directors got their foot in the door with short, independent films, but even those kinds of projects require significant resources. “With podcasts, you don’t have to spend any money on locations,” he explained. “You don’t have to spend any money on cameras, hardware, or hiring a cinematographer. And even if you have the footage, and you had a decent camera, which you probably had to rent because they cost thousands of dollars a day, you’re getting someone to color grade everything after it’s over.” Podcasts rarely require anything more than decent mics, actors, and audio mixing technology. And speaking of actors, your average voiceover performer costs much less to hire than a SAG member.

(5) INKY AWARDS. The shortlists for the 2017 Inky Awards were announced August 15 – the Gold Inky for Australia titles, and the Silver Inky for international titles. The award recognises achievement in young adult literature, with nominees and winners selected by voters under the age of 20. Some of these titles are of genre interest. Voting is currently open for the winners. [H/T Earl Grey Editing Services.]

(6) MORE WORLDCON WRITEUPS. The conreports keep on coming.

Kelly Robson: “What it’s like to lose a Hugo Award”

The Campbell was the second-to-last award, and sure, I was disappointed not to win, but not horribly. On a scale of one to ten, it was about a three at the time and now is zero. I’m very happy for Ada. She deserves every success.

However, I did feel foolish for thinking I could win, which was painful but mostly dispersed by morning. Being a finalist is wonderful. Winning would have been amazing, but it does come with a certain amount of pressure. So maybe — just maybe — being a finalist is the best of both worlds. And that lovely pin in the first picture is mine forever.

Ian Sales: “Kiitos, Helsinki”

My second panel of the con was at noon on the Saturday, Mighty space fleets of war. When I’d registered at the con, I’d discovered I was moderating the panel, which I hadn’t known. I checked back over the emails I’d been sent by the con’s programming team. Oops. I was the moderator. The other two panellists were Jack Campbell and Chris Gerrib. As we took our seats on the stage, Mary Robinette Kowal was gathering her stuff from the previous panel. I jokingly asked if she wanted to join our panel. And then asked if she’d moderate it. She said she was happy to moderate if we wanted her to, but we decided to muddle through ourselves. The panel went quite well, I thought. We got a bit of disagreement going – well, me versus the other two, both of whom admitted to having been USN in the past. I got a wave of applause for a crack about Brexit, and we managed to stay on topic – realistic space combat – for the entire time. I’d prepared a bunch of notes, but by fifteen minutes in, I’d used up all my points. In future, I’ll take in paper and pencil so I can jot stuff down as other members of the panel speak.

Marzie: “The Long Overdue WorldCon Recap!”

This was the first WorldCon I’ve attended and while I had voted in previous Hugo Awards, and attended other Cons (for instance NYCC) I was kind of taken aback by how non-commercial WorldCon is. A case is point is that there are no publishers hawking books at WorldCon, which, on the one hand is great because you don’t get tempted to buy a bunch of stuff and spend a fortune shipping it home and on the other hand is bad because if you’ve travelled a long way with a carry-on only bag, you’re probably packing clothes, not books for your favorite author to sign. Some authors take it all in stride, bringing their own small promotional items they can sign (Fran Wilde, Carrie Vaughn) or will happily sign anything that you set in front of them (Max Gladstone kindly signed a WorldCon postcard for my friend and fellow blogger Alex, who couldn’t come to WorldCon because of Fiscal Realities of New Home vs. Sincere Desire. So other than some interesting panels (climate change in science fiction and fantasy, readings by Amal El-Mohtar and Annalee Newitz, while I can say that pigeonholing fantasy genres is not for me!) the author signings and beloved kaffeeklatsches, the latter limited to ten people, are the definitely the most exciting thing about WorldCon.

Ian Moore: “Helsinki Worldcon write-up Part 1: estrangement, We3, crowds”

Tomi Huttunen introduced the concept of Estrangement, which derives from Russian art theorist Viktor Shklovsky who discussed the topic (Ostrananie) in an article in 1917. Huttunen and others on the academic track offered varying definitions of the concept, noting that different people in the past had come at this in a different way. For all that he was someone primarily associated with the avant-garde, Shklovsky’s own definition appeared to imply that all art involved a process of estrangement because of the difference between an actual thing and its artistic representation. Brecht later attempted his own definition, which appeared to be more about uncanny valley or the German concept of the unheimlich, which I found interesting as for all his ground-breaking approach to theatre Brecht had not particularly involved himself in work that strayed into non-realistic territory.

“Helsinki Worldcon write-up Part 2: Saunas, Robert Silverberg & Tanith Lee #Worldcon75”

On Thursday I did not quite get up in time to make it from where I was staying to the convention centre in time for the presentation on Tove Jansson’s illustrations for The Hobbit (which apparently appear only in Scandinavian editions of the book for Tolkien-estate reasons). I did make it to a panel on Bland Protagonists. One of the panelists was Robert Silverberg, a star of Worldcon and a living link to the heroic age of Science Fiction. He is a great raconteur and such an entertaining panelist that I wonder whether people do not want to appear on panels with him for fear of being overshadowed.

“Helsinki Worldcon write-up Part 3: Moomins, Clipping #Worldcon75”

After the Tanith Lee discussion there were a lot of potentially interesting things happening but we felt that we had to go to a session on the Moomins (entitled Moomins!). As you know, these are character that appeared in books written and illustrated by Tove Jansson of Finland. They started life in books and then progressed to comics and subsequently to a succession of animated TV series. If you’ve never heard of them, the Moomins are vaguely hippopotamus shaped creatures that live in a house in Moominvalley and have a variety of strange friends and adopted family members. Moomin stories are pretty cute but also deal with subjects a bit darker and more existential than is normally expected in children’s books.

(7) ROBOCRIMEVICTIM. It is a lawless country out there: “Popular Robots are Dangerously Easy to Hack, Cybersecurity Firm Says”.

The Seattle-based cybersecurity firm found major security flaws in industrial models sold by Universal Robots, a division of U.S. technology company Teradyne Inc. It also cited issues with consumer robots Pepper and NAO, which are manufactured by Japan’s Softbank Group Corp., and the Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 made by China-based UBTech Robotics.

These vulnerabilities could allow the robots to be turned into surveillance devices, surreptitiously spying on their owners, or let them to be hijacked and used to physically harm people or damage property, the researchers wrote in a report released Tuesday.


Pluto Demoted Day

Many of us are fascinated by outer space and its many mysteries. Our own solar system went through a change in classification on 2006, when Pluto was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet. Pluto Demoted Day now takes place every year to mark that very occasion. While sad for fans of the former ninth planet of the solar system, Pluto Demoted Day is an important day for our scientific history and is important to remember.


  • August 24, 1966 Fantastic Voyage premiered theatrically on this day.


  • Born August 24, 1951 – Orson Scott Card

(11) COMIC SECTION. Finnish comic  Fingerpori has a joke about the George R.R. Martin signing at W75. Tehri says it translates something like this (with the third frame being a sight gag):

First panel: (The guy’s name is Heimo Vesa) “What’s going on?”

“George R.R. Martin’s signing queue.”

Middle panel: “Well, I must experience this”.

(As in once in a lifetime thing.)

And Mike Kennedy says today’s Dilbert Classic confirms that publishers exist in order to stomp on potential author’s dreams.

(12) SHE HAS A LITTLE LIST. Kayleigh Donaldson asks “Did This Book Buy Its Way Onto The New York Times Bestseller List?” at Pajiba.

Nowadays, you can make the bestseller list with about 5,000 sales. That’s not the heights of publishing’s heyday but it’s still harder to get than you’d think. Some publishers spend thousands of dollars on advertising and blogger outreach to get that number. Everyone’s looking for the next big thing and that costs a lot of cash. For the past 25 weeks, that big book in the YA world has been The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a searing politically charged drama about a young black girl who sees a police officer kill her friend, and the fallout it causes in her community. Through publisher buzz and exceedingly strong word of mouth, the novel has stormed to the forefront of the YA world and found thousands of fans, with a film on the way. Knocking that from the top of the NYT YA list would be a major deal, and this week it’s going to happen. But something’s not right.

Handbook For Mortals by Lani Sarem is the debut novel from the publishing arm of website GeekNation. The site announced this news only last week, through a press release that can be read on places like The Hollywood Reporter, not a site known for extensive YA coverage. Sarem has an IMDb page with some very minor acting roles, several of which are uncredited, but details on the book are scanter to find. Googling it leads to several other books with the same title, but most of the coverage for it is press release based. There’s little real excitement or details on it coming from the YA blogging world, which is a mighty community who are not quiet about the things they’re passionate about (believe me, first hand experience here).

YA writer and publisher Phil Stamper raised the alarm bells on this novel’s sudden success through a series of tweets, noting GeekNation’s own low traffic, the inability to even buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and its out-of-nowhere relevance…

(13) AMAZONIAN BOGOSITY. While reporters are dissecting the bestseller list, Camestros Felapton turns his attention to Amazon and the subject of “Spotting Fakery?”

One thing new to me from those articles was this site: http://fakespot.com/about It claims to be a site that will analyse reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp and then rate the reviews in terms of how “fake” they seem to be. The mechanism looks at reviewers and review content and looks for relations with other reviews, and also rates reviewers who only ever give positive reviews lower. Now, I don’t know if their methods are sound or reliable, so take the rest of this with a pinch of salt for the time being.

Time to plug some things into their machine but what! Steve J No-Relation Wright has very bravely volunteered to start reading Vox Day’s epic fantasy book because it was available for $0 ( https://stevejwright.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/a-throne-of-bones-by-vox-day-preamble-on-managing-expectations/ ) and so why not see what Fakespot has to say about “Throne of Bones” http://fakespot.com/product/a-throne-of-bones-arts-of-dark-and-light

(14) WORLD DOESN’T END, FILM AT ELEVEN. Kristine Kathryn Rusch got a column out of the eclipse – “Eclipse Expectations”.

The idea for the post? Much of what occurred around the eclipse in my small town happens in publishing all the time. Let me lay out my thinking.

First, what happened in Lincoln City this weekend:

Damn near nothing. Yeah, I was surprised. Yeah, we all were surprised.

Because for the past 18 months, all we heard about the eclipse was what a mini-disaster it would be for our small town. We expected 100,000 visitors minimum. Hotel rooms were booked more than a year in advance—all of them. Which, the planners told us, meant that we would have at least that many people camping roadside as well.

The airlines had to add extra flights into Portland (the nearest major airport). One million additional people were flooding into Oregon for the five days around the eclipse. Rental cars were booked months in advance. (One woman found an available car for Thursday only and the rental car company had slapped a one-day rate on the car of $850. Yeah, no.)

The state, local, and regional governments were planning for disaster. We were warned that electricity might go down, especially if the temperature in the valley (away from us, but near the big power grids) soared over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius). Our internet connection would probably go down, they said. (Great, we said. Our business is on the internet. Phooey!) Our cell phones would definitely go down.

The state called out the National Guard, expecting all the trouble you get when you cram too many people in a small space. The hospitals staffed up. We were told that traffic would be in gridlock for four days, so plan travel accordingly. Dean and I own three retail stores in the area, so we spent weeks discussing scheduling—who could walk to work, who couldn’t, who might stay overnight if need be. Right now, as I write this, Dean is working our new bookstore, because the bookstore employees live 6 miles away, and couldn’t walk if there was gridlock. The schedule was set in stone; no gridlock, but Dean was scheduled, not the usual employee, so Dean is guarding the fort (so to speak).

(15) MAKING BOOKINGS. Website Focus on Travel News has made note of the Dublin win: “Dublin to host the 77th Annual World Science Fiction Convention”.

The successful Dublin bid was led by James Bacon, with support and guidance from the bid committee, Fáilte Ireland, Dublin Convention Bureau (DCB) and The CCD. Dublin was confirmed as the 2019 location by site selection voters at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki where 1,227 votes were received, of which Dublin won 1,160 votes.

“It’s fantastic that we had such a large turnout, indicating strong support for the bid,” said James Bacon, Dublin 2019 chair. “Voting is a vital part of the process so twelve hundred votes is a great endorsement and I’m very pleased it’s a new record for an uncontested bid. Given New Orleans and Nice have declared for 2023 and Perth and Seattle for 2025, that we remained unopposed is indicative of the enthusiasm, strategic determination and commitment from all involved with the bid. It’s absolutely magnificent to be able to say we are bringing the Worldcon to Ireland and we cannot wait now for 2019.”

(16) HELP IS COMING. Drones at serious work: “Tanzania Gears Up To Become A Nation Of Medical Drones”

Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was “a lightbulb moment,” says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.

Rinaudo was visiting a scientist at Ifakara Health Institute who had created the database to track nationwide medical emergencies. Using cellphones, health workers would send a text message whenever a patient needed blood or other critical supplies. Trouble is, while the system collected real-time information about dying patients, the east African country’s rough terrain and poor supply chain often kept them from getting timely help. “We were essentially looking at a database of death,” Rinaudo says.

That Tanzania trip motivated his company to spend the next three years building what they envisioned as “the other half of that system — where you know a patient is having a medical emergency and can immediately send the product needed to save that person’s life,” Rinaudo says.

(17) ROBOPRIEST. St Aquin? Not yet: “Robot priest: the future of funerals?” BBC video at the link.

Developers in Japan are offering a robot “priest” to conduct Buddhist funeral rites complete with chanted sutras and drum tapping – all at a fraction of the cost of a human.

It is the latest use of Softbank’s humanoid robot Pepper.

(18) UNDERSEA DRIVING. Call these “tunnel pipe-dreams”: “The Channel tunnel that was never built”.

The Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France holds the record for the longest undersea tunnel in the world – 50km (31 miles) long. More than 20 years after its opening, it carries more than 10 million passengers a year – and more than 1.6 million lorries – via its rail-based shuttle service.

What many people don’t know, however, is that when owner Eurotunnel won the contract to build its undersea connection, the firm was obliged to come up with plans for a second Channel Tunnel… by the year 2000. Although those plans were published the same year, the tunnel still has not gone ahead.

The second ‘Chunnel’ isn’t the only underwater tunnel to remain a possibility. For centuries, there have been discussions about other potential tunnelling projects around the British Isles, too. These include a link between the island of Orkney and the Scottish mainland, a tunnel between the Republic of Ireland and Wales and one between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

[Thanks to JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, lauowolf, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Robot Archie for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/24/17 Is The Grisly Pixel Scrolling?

  1. (1) That’s a nice mix of books one should have read and books that feel like they just fell off the bottom of the “to read” pile for no really good reason.

    (18) This was perhaps the last place I expected to be able to mention that I’ve got a board game coming out in October that’s loosely based on the glorious aborted 1880 Channel Tunnel project… (Well, sort of. It’s really an expansion to an existing game, Snowdonia, and is definitely only recommended for folk who know how the original game works. So I’m not really expecting anyone here to care less. 🙂

  2. 1
    I’ve read three of the 20. (I have a copy of Always Coming Home.)
    I bounced off Lessing, and The Grace of Kings is…okay, but not great.

  3. I would need a lot more than twenty places to fess up to all the books I should have read already. *eyes the catching-up-on-classics portion of Mount 770 guiltily*

  4. (1): I’ve read 1 of James’ list (the Clarke, which I enjoyed), and own another one that is on my ereader (the Walton) waiting for my next plane trip…

  5. I’ve read far fewer of James’ list than I’d like. The LeGuin and the Griffith in particular but a fair chunk of the others are as yet unread as well.

    Among Others may be my favorite of the list, followed by Grace of Kings.

  6. (1). The list actually includes 2 books that I abandoned after reading quite a bit, something I don’t often do. I was over 100 pages into Oryx and Crake and something like 300 into The Grace of Kings. Both award-calibre books that somehow failed to grip. There are 4 other books on the list that I did finish.

  7. @1: 8 definitely, 4 more I’d have to read some of the book to be sure I’d read. I think this is the most random list he’s come up with; I won’t get into an argument over how long a book has to have been around to be considered core, but IMO some of the older ones (e.g., the Brown, that particular Zelazny) definitely don’t deserve the label.

    @14: I wonder where the people in the high desert slept the night before; maybe they all got out of her area before she woke up? (The column is unclear about whether all the hotel reservations were canceled, or just abandoned. I know people who rented RVs, but there aren’t that many RVs to rent.) It’s interesting that she looks on increased use of statistics as a good thing, considering that the obvious (ab)use of statistics is the notorious death spiral; have they discovered enough correlation between marketing and numbers sold to be able to make decisions?

  8. I’ve read five of James’s latest twenty, which I think is better than my usual score with his lists.

  9. 6) Kelly Robson stayed in the same neighbourhood we did and indeed photographed some of the same buildings (well, they were lovely). Though I feel compelled to point out that those are Art Noveau or Jugendstil (for some reasons, the Finns use the German rather than the more common French term) buildings and not Beaux Arts buildings.

    I also got a chuckle out of Ian Moore’s description of the tunnel at Pasila station as something out of a J.G. Ballard dystopia, since my reaction to the same tunnel was, “Standard railway tunnel – thankfully it’s clean and doesn’t stink of piss.”


    My total is:
    1 – read and enjoyed
    1 – read and was disappointed with an ending which did not stick the landing
    4 – tried really hard to read, and ended up DNFing

  11. Is it terribly wrong of me to be chuffed that I’ve actually read nine books that James Davis Nicholl hasn’t? <grin>

  12. (12) Wow, that story is one wild ride from start to finish. And as the final update on the link says, the NYT looked into the matter and revised the list, so there’s even a happy ending!

  13. 1) Read three, DNF 2, read a bunch of those authors but not those particular books.

    I’m still so baffled by Grace of Kings. I love Liu’s short fiction, but that was so dull!

  14. 1) I’ve read 1, possibly 2, which is about the same amount as I’ve read of previous lists.

    (18) It’s almost nice to see we’re not the only place road engineers comes up with wild schemes to spend tax money on long bridges and undersea tunnels.

    @Soon Lee: wouldn’t the follow-up to For a Few Pixels More be A Scrollful of Pixels? Or maybe The Scroll, The Pixel, and the DNF.

    Also, this continuing eclipse coverage reminds me that The Scroll is a Harsh Pixel.

  15. I think I’ve read four on James’s list but I only have dim recall of the Moomin book listed and so maybe I didn’t. I’ve read the Le Guin because I’ve always read the Le Guin on his list 🙂 The other two are the Atwood and JS&MN.

    As always I’m in awe of his capacity to collate interesting collections of books.

  16. 2- Ha! Dreamhost suffered a DDoS attack and bounced the Daily Stormer from their service. No Interwebs for you, Nazis!

  17. I’ve read 4 of the list.

    @Camestros: Great Flood was I think the first book to be written, but wasn’t translated until well after Tove Jansson’s death. My impression, having not read it either, is that the characters aren’t quite fully formed.

  18. 1) I’ve read six. I feel all superior now.

    The Plain People of Fandom: How many of the six did you actually enjoy, Steve?

    Me: Is that the time already? Must dash.

  19. Kurt Busiek:

    “I’ve read five of James’s latest twenty, which I think is better than my usual score with his lists.”

    I’m usually happy with having heard of five of the books. This time I’ve read three of the books. Not my favourite Moomin, but still good. As they all are.

  20. 1) I’ve read five of these, not counting Unquenchable Fire which I once started and didn’t get on with. (Although that was a very long time ago – I should go back to it and see if I’m better-equipped to appreciate it now.)

    All I have for Mindplayers and Those Who Hunt the Night are mental placeholders that say “unmemorable”, which is undoubtedly unfair.

    England Swings SF is a fascinating document that shows just how radical the New Wave was in Britain and also explains why the American version was the one that got traction.

    I absolutely loved Always Coming Home when I was in my twenties and used to re-read it regularly, but I lost my enthusiasm at some point and haven’t looked at it in a while. Maybe I got what I needed from it and moved on? I still use some of the proverbs from the Valley, though.

    Creatures of Light and Darkness is a bit of a hot mess. Vignettes of Zelazny’s hyped-up early poetic style cut with bathos and assembled into a not-quite-coherent form. More interesting (though not necessarily better) than his later work, though.

  21. My impression, having not read it either, is that the characters aren’t quite fully formed.

    How do you tell if Moomins are fully formed? They look all squishy anyway.

  22. “How do you tell if Moomins are fully formed? They look all squishy anyway.”

    Not correct. In an older step of their evolution, they were tall and thin. And before that small enough to hide behind stoves.

  23. I always wondered about Creatures of Light and Darkness. The Avon paperback looked like Lord of Light, which I liked a lot, and the story apparently had something to do with exotic ancient religion, like the other novel, but it always seems to be considered a lesser work and I never read it.

  24. @StephenfromOttawa

    I’d certainly consider it a lesser work but it’s not entirely without interest. In terms of style, it’s more like Eye of Cat than any other Zelazny I’ve read, if that’s a helpful comparison?

  25. @Ghostbird i’ve never read Eye of Cat; just looked it up and it sounds interesting, dedicated to Tony Hillerman’s Navajo detectives.

  26. (1) I’ve read five or six — I read a lot of Barbara Hambly back in the day, but can’t quite remember if I read Those Who Hunt the Night or not.

    I actually read Creatures of Light & Darkness long before I read Lord of Light — I had started reading Amber, which led to picking up other Zelazny books from the public library. For whatever reason, I was able to get through Creatures of Light & Darkness (although I don’t know that I actually got it, but initially kind of bounced off of Lord of Light, at least until I read one of the constituent stories in Gardner Dozois’ Modern Classics of Fantasy anthology, which gave me a way in.

  27. (1) I have read 6 of these, more than usual, so there may be some sort of reverse morphic resonance meaning that James reading an SF classic makes it less likely that I will have done so in the past, and versa vice.

    (6.6) Tove Jansson’s illustrations for The Hobbit were also published as the official Tolkien Calendar for 2016.

  28. 1) By far my best showing on any of his lists with seven, but weirdly, three of the books on it I read one after the other based on recommendations by people on what I was reading. I was reading Song of the Lioness when Brown Girl in the Ring was suggested, and then a friend mentioned that he thought that novel reminded him of Creatures of Light and Darkness.

  29. (1) I have read 5 of these which is my second lowest from his lists, I think. It does however have my highest number of started but never finished at 5 as well.

    I like Creatures of Light & Darkness but it is incredibly unfocused. It always seemed to me that he had all these great scenes and character names running around in his head but not a story for them to appear in so he just stuffed them all into Creatures of Light & Darkness and called it a day.

  30. @Ghostbird: Naw, unmemorable is fair for Mindplayers.

    1) I’ve actually read some of these! It never would have occurred to me to put Hild in the category of speculative fiction (though I loved it) any more than I’d put Patrick O’Brian’s novels there.

    7) Quelle surprise.

    16) Please state that nature of the medical emergency.

  31. (1) I think I’ve read more on that list than on any of James’s other lists. In particular I thought Oryx and Crake was a brilliant book, the best of the Maddaddam trilogy by far. And no matter what anyone else says, I liked Grace of Kings a lot. No, it wasn’t your typical Western-style epic fantasy, but it wasn’t supposed to be. I didn’t think book #2, The Wall of Storms, was as successful, unfortunately. But speaking of dull, I found Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell very long-winded — though I have it on Mt. TBR for a reread to see whether my opinion changes.

  32. @James: book I don’t read because then I’ve read all that author’s books. I do not understand this; are you assuming Griffith won’t write anything more? (She’s not prolific, but she’s only 56.) I’d be wary of saving for my old age, on the “That Hell-Bound Train” principle — I’m not sure I’ll always be able to follow her work.
    I am also not sure I ever finished the first Amber series. I’m not sure you’ve missed much; they were certainly a step up from Brooks, but I don’t think he stuck the landing.

    Ghostbird: thank you for articulating what I couldn’t about Creatures of Light and Darkness. OTOH, I thought better of Those Who Hunt the Night; if you didn’t think much of it I won’t recommend the half-dozen sequels, which I usually do.

    Enjoyment of others of the 8+ I’ve read? Many of them I read so long ago that I don’t remember a reaction either way — although I think most adult readers would find Baum unbearably twee today. (I ripped through all of the Baum sequels I could find, and the first of the Thompsons, before the end of 5th grade.)

    @Magewolf: more detail on the “hot mess” of Zelazny. When he was on his game he was very good, and when he could be entertaining when he was having fun (I liked Doorways in the sand and recently concluded the Suck Fairy had bounced off it, but thought A Night in the Lonesome October an elaborate game I got bored with), but he had quit a few misses.

  33. Oh, and someone was saying the latest Sandman Slim was good? I won’t try it — that level of splatterdark isn’t my taste — but I feel safe disrecommending Kadrey’s “funny” book The Wrong Dead Guy. Think of what separates most Tom Holt from Terry Pratchett, and subtract several times that from lesser Holt; result, cardboard characters, and lots of incidents thrown into a plot in hopes readers won’t notice the holes. Or think of a poor imitation of Carl Hiassen (whose work Pratchett liked) with flailing action and failed attempts at snappy dialog replacing the fact that Hiassen actually cares about south Florida. (“eight deadly words” are only the start of this book’s problems.) Damfino where the jacket quotes come from; maybe the book before this was better, or maybe too many writers I like are too willing to say nice formulae. With luck I’ll remember these words the next time I see Kadrey on the new-book shelf….

  34. @ Chip Hitchcock

    I was pretty good with the new Sandman Slim, but I do follow the series. I’m not a splatterdark person and I’ve generally been good with the series throughout–there is quite a bit of blood and violence but it doesn’t feel like “grotesque for grotesque’s sake.” As usual, if you buy in to the series at Book 1, try the rest. I can’t say that there are any good entry points after that.

    Can’t speak to The Wrong Dead Guy, though. When I glanced through the jackets on the “humorous” non-Slim books, they gave me the distinct feeling that the books were wastes of time. Can’t catch em all.

  35. @ Contarius. Yay, someone else who found Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell dull. I don’t plan to reread it though, I’m avoiding it and all subsequent books that compare themselves to JS&DN.

  36. I never finished Jonathan Strange and Dr Norrell either. Yawnsville.

    I love the fact that these lists contain so many books I’ve never heard of. I’ve got several of them bookmarked just in case Mt. TBR ever appears to be dwindling.

  37. I have somehow managed to read eight of the books on James’s list. Since my previous high number was four, I’m surprised. I didn’t enjoy many of them, though.

    Jonathan Strange was the one recommended by the most people, so it qualifies as the most disappointing.

  38. @Chip —

    Oh, and someone was saying the latest Sandman Slim was good? I won’t try it — that level of splatterdark isn’t my taste

    I’ve had a lot of fun with the Sandman Slim series. I was disappointed in #7, though, and I haven’t read #8 or #9 yet. I am planning to get to them eventually. And I don’t think of myself as a fan of violence porn in general. I haven’t tried any of Kadrey’s non-Slim books, IIRC.

    @bookworm and @Charon —

    We’ll stand together against the world. What do they know, anyway? 😉

  39. I have to admit that I only read Dr Strange and Mrs Norell.
    (Ok I wont edit that Freudian double slip!). Although I may have read the Hambly as well (I read a lot of Hambry and forgot a lot as well). Im too lazy to check if Ive readvthe Zelazny, which I might have read in German with a different title.

    @David Brain: Congrats on your Expansion coming out!

  40. Actually, with regard to 1), I’ve read seven of them now. I bought and read The Moomins and the Great Flood. Because I was in the mood for something short and imaginative and charming and kindly and well-written. For a change.

  41. (2) Nobody bothered to inform Dreamhost that the nazis had used their automated system before launching an attack on DH – and then people starting moving their sites without questioning Dreamhost first…

    The Daily Stormer was once a customer of ours – many years ago. We did ask them to take their business elsewhere, again many years ago, as a result of a Terms of Service violation.
    Unbeknownst to us, they signed up for domain service with us again yesterday for a domain name that was similar to dailystormer.com. The site owner took advantage of our automated signup form to register a domain name and once again become a DreamHost customer. This activity is specifically forbidden in our Terms of Service.

    The opening of multiple accounts or service plans in order to bypass any restrictions or overage charges set forth by DreamHost is grounds for termination of all services. That alone was reason enough for us to disable this account, and we did so today.

    Unfortunately, determined internet vigilantes weren’t willing to wait for us to take that action. They instead launched a DDoS attack against all of DreamHost this morning. We were ultimately able to declaw that attack, but the end result was that most of our customers experienced intermittent connectivity issues to their sites today. Services have been fully restored across DreamHost.

    I’m happy to be a Dreamhost customer, and will continue to be one. I just hope the next time people stop and INFORM Dreamhost before attacking them.

    That Ars article is really unfair, conflating comments about something else with the approval of nazis.

  42. (1) I’ve read six on the list. Lessing’s Canopus in Argos books are one of those things that I always think I ought to try but never seem to get around to….

  43. Actually, I did not see Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on the list. I liked the book quite a bit, but I struggled through the first third until I dropped the massive hardback tome and picked up an ebook version. It was easier to carry and I could read it on the subway or the commuter train. Also, I love long lyrical prose, and Clarke really could write in that style. In the end, I felt like I had done something worthwhile as I finished the novel.

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