Pixel Scroll 8/27/17 During Total Eclipse, Electric Sheep Don MirrorShades Before Looking Up

(1) WINTER IS COMING TO HOGWARTS. Buzzfeed wants to help: “Let’s Find Out Which ‘Game Of Thrones’-‘Harry Potter’ Hybrid House You Should Be In “. Click away!

(2)  DONATIONS SOUGHT. David Gerrold has started a GoFundMe to solve ” A Bubble In The Cash Flow”. He has raised $5,751 of his 7,500 goal at this writing.

Well, I wasn’t planning to do this, I really hate having to do this, but … circumstances have changed.

The mortgage, phone bill, and electric bill are all due and I have some serious car repairs looming, PLUS we’re still trying to repair two rooms in the house, as well as paying off some of last year’s delayed expenses. It’s a perfect storm of financial challenges.

What makes this necessary, two royalty checks are delayed, payment for a BIG story isn’t due until October, and negotiations on something else are dragging on longer than expected (and nothing is final until the check clears the bank anyway.) So I need to raise some serious cash right now. (Online sales have helped, just not enough.)

MOST IMPORTANT, books five and six in THE WAR AGAINST THE CHTORR are done, but they still need some editing, and I need to buy some serious writing time to work on them.

(3) LISTEN UP. Cat Rambo’s Flash Fiction Reading is available to the public:

A reading of “Mystery in Metal,” first published in Signs of Life: Contemporary Jewelry Art and Literature at the Facere Jewelry Art Gallery, 2013.


(4) CALLING ALL WAYWARD WRITERS. Planning on taking a writing workshop with Cat Rambo at a convention or via her online school? Here’s what to expect.

(5) PACEY NOT PREACHY. At Bastian’s Book Reviews, Robert Holbach recommends The Salarian Desert Game by J. A. McLachlan”.

The Salarian Desert Game is just as wonderful to read as the first novel. Pacey, tongue  in cheek, fun, and filled with adventure and peril. It is more hard-hitting than the first book, and it tackles some more challenging moral dilemmas. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a preachy novel. It’s a fun adventure novel which is designed to make readers think (from time to time). Kia is a great protagonist because she has a sense of humour, a sarcastic / rebellious streak, and because she isn’t a goody-two-shoes hero. She does the right thing more often than not, but not without grumbling. When there is no right and wrong, she is just as beset by difficulties with making decisions as the reader would be. Easy to identify with and plucky – a great character to spend literary time with.

(6) RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. Abigail Nussbaum, in “Recent Reading Roundup #44”, regrets giving an author a second chance.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro – I’m having trouble explaining to myself why I picked up The Buried Giant.  After all, the only other Ishiguro novel I’ve read, Never Let Me Go, left me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and genuinely puzzled at the love and admiration that so many other readers (including genre readers) had for it.  The only justification I have for giving Ishiguro another look is that it had been ten years since Never Let Me Go put me off, and in that time the ongoing praise for it made me doubt my own recollections.  Was it possible that I was being too harsh?  Did I miss the point of the novel’s tragedy, seeing nastiness in what was intended as a soulful meditation on the human condition?  Add to that the conversation that developed around The Buried Giant‘s genre, and the fact that its premise and setting sounded intriguing, and it seemed like a good opportunity to give Ishiguro a second try.  Turns out, I was right the first time.  Ishiguro is a nasty piece of work; The Buried Giant, like its predecessor, is a mean-spirited, taunting bit of misery-porn that seems to hold its readers in actual disdain, and pretends to profundity without having anything to say.  And what makes it all worse is that I have no one to blame but myself.

(7) LONG PLAYING. The records on the Voyager spacecraft — and how they almost got punted: “How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made”, from The New Yorker.

We inhabit a small planet orbiting a medium-sized star about two-thirds of the way out from the center of the Milky Way galaxy—around where Track 2 on an LP record might begin. In cosmic terms, we are tiny: were the galaxy the size of a typical LP, the sun and all its planets would fit inside an atom’s width. Yet there is something in us so expansive that, four decades ago, we made a time capsule full of music and photographs from Earth and flung it out into the universe. Indeed, we made two of them.

The time capsules, really a pair of phonograph records, were launched aboard the twin Voyager space probes in August and September of 1977. The craft spent thirteen years reconnoitering the sun’s outer planets, beaming back valuable data and images of incomparable beauty. In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the solar system, sailing through the doldrums where the stream of charged particles from our sun stalls against those of interstellar space. Today, the probes are so distant that their radio signals, travelling at the speed of light, take more than fifteen hours to reach Earth. They arrive with a strength of under a millionth of a billionth of a watt, so weak that the three dish antennas of the Deep Space Network’s interplanetary tracking system (in California, Spain, and Australia) had to be enlarged to stay in touch with them.

(8) THE IRON BOARD. In a kind of thought experiment, experts on British history and royalty weigh in on “Game of Thrones: Who is the true heir?” First to be considered, Cersei Lannister.

Richard Fitzwilliams says: In Britain, an heir is determined by descent and parliamentary statute. Succession is also determined by the sequence of royal family members.

Cersei declared herself queen without any legitimacy. Her claim rests on two things: being Robert Baratheon’s widow and the mother of two dead kings.

She resembles the villainous Margaret of Anjou, queen by marriage to the feeble King Henry VI. Margaret was also ruthless and highly influential.

Sarah Peverley says: Inheritance in the Seven Kingdoms is based on real medieval laws, often prone to contradictory interpretations.

Generally speaking, the law of primogeniture seems to govern the Iron Throne, which females can claim in the event of no male heir. Or they can act until a young king comes of age, as Cersei attempted to do. But her current claim rests solely on the power she wields.

Gordon McKelvie says: There have been plenty of unpopular queens with too much influence and power. Cersei seems to share their qualities.

I can’t think of any historical example where a king (with no children) dies and passes the crown to his mother. No one in medieval England made such a dramatic grab for power like Cersei did.

(9) HOOPER OBIT. Horror film director Tobe Hooper (1943-2017) died August 27 at the age of 74. He was most famous for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

His tale of a family of cannibals with oversized kitchen utensils, laced with dark humour, became cult viewing.

Hooper also directed Poltergeist, and the Salem’s Lot TV miniseries.


(11) WHEN GRRM COULDN’T GET HIRED AS A TV WRITER. Guess which show didn’t want to hire a science fiction writer, even one with previous TV experience?

Speaking at a workshop at UCSD’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination in May, the prolific writer got onto the subject of how there has long been a stigma against science fiction. To illustrate this, he told the following story about being rejected by Star Trek: The Next Generation:

I had an interview with Star Trek: The Next Generation for a possible job as a staff writer. I remember coming in to the office of this producer – who thankfully did not last long on the show and you can see why when I tell the story. He said “I don’t know who you are can you tell me your credentials.” And I said “I am just coming off Twilight Zone where I worked for a while, but before that I wrote novels and short stories. I am primarily a science fiction writer.” And he said “Oh really, well Star Trek is not a science-fiction show, it is a people show.” I was fooled by the photon torpedoes and starships. I was misled. Needless to say I did not get that job.

(12) WORLDCON 75 VIDEOS. The con now has 45 videos on YouTube although a little birdie chirped that no video of the Hugo Ceremony is among them.

(13) HEAVY SCHEDULE. Nalo Hopkinson’s conreport on Patreon can be viewed by the public: “Worldcon 75 (Helsinki) & the Edinburgh Book Festival”.

Worldcon 75 in Helsinki was amazing, just bloody amazing. It was one of the best attended Worldcons ever. The general aura of the con was jubilant. Helsinki is very easy on the eyes, but I didn’t take many pics. When you’re a Guest of Honour at a Worldcon, you don’t get much breathing room. It wasn’t only the many panels and events I was on, but I gave a couple of interviews practically every day of the con….

(14) FREE DAY. Captain Pigheart — Nick Tyler, who works for Angry Robot Books – begins his report: “A Whistle-Stop Tour of Worldcon75, Helsinki Day One”.

We selected BICYCLE as our vehicle of choice, swayed by the 10 Euro a week rental. The con venue was relatively easy to find, though Google Maps yelling incomprehensible Finnish placenames in my ear was quite stressful. It was closed. Since it was the day before the con, that made sense. We had found the most important place. Second most important: beer.   

(15) PANEL FAN. Canadian professor and aspiring SFF author David Lamb covered a lot of programs in his convention write-up.

14:00 Writing about Plants, Landscapes, and Nature with Anthony Eichenlaub, J.S. Meresmaa, Eric Scott Fischl. The initial part talked about settings in general. One speaker didn’t like the “setting is a character” meme; it’s something else because it has no character arc. Descriptions can be practical, but can be also set the tone. What are the daily and seasonal challenges in a setting? What senses other than visual are evoked?

Setting can help establish a character’s personality; one speaker mentioned using descriptions of lawns, and another mentioned how someone curses at brambles. Non-nature settings deal with similar issues: Lyndon Johnson would establish dominance by sitting in a higher chair with visitors sitting on a low couch.

If a region is unfamiliar, you need to do a lot of research. There’s an incredibly detailed survey of different soil types around the United States. One author was tripped up in that the bioluminescent species in one place was fireflies and in another was glowworms. Describing the diversity of a forest is very hard, as is some type of landscape you haven’t experienced. Another resource: Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants; it has no pictures but you can google the plant names. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart describes plants used to make alcohol.

(16) FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA. Stephanie Saulter sketches out a few memories in “What I Did On My Summer Holiday (or, How to travel to Helsinki and end up on the radio in Bristol)”.

No post-mortem as such, but I was asked if there was a particularly memorable con moment. There were actually two, starting with the panel I wasn’t scheduled to be on and the reading I hadn’t known I was going to do. The panel was Caribbean SF, and featured Worldcon Guest of Honour, fellow Jamaican Nalo Hopkinson; Barbadian writer, Worldcon Toastmistress and my good mate Karen Lord; and Brandon O’Brien from Trinidad & Tobago. As they made their way to the front of the room I was summoned from my front-row seat to join them on the platform….

(17) UNCANNY COMPLETES KICKSTARTER. The Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction / Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter fully funded, and met its stretch goals for a print edition, and for a Disabled People Destroy Fantasy issue.

The final update included DPDSF Personal Essays Editor Nicolette Barischoff’s personal essay.

What do you want to see more of in representations of disability?  

What do YOU want to see more of in representations of disability?

I actually had to think awhile about how to answer it. Of course there are the self-evident answers: I want characters who are well-rounded, who are real, who are interesting. Characters who live honestly within their limitations without ever being consumed by them. But let’s assume the writer who asks this question is already planning on doing these things as part of writing a halfway decent story. What, specifically, do I as a disabled reader want to read more of?

The answer I came up with was that I wanted characters whose disabled bodies felt lived-in. I wanted to see characters whose disabilities were nothing new to them, who had inhabited their bodies for their entire lives (or at least a good long time) and who knew how to navigate their possibly deeply inconvenient worlds without thinking very much about it.

The trouble for me is that disabled characters as written by able-bodied writers tend to spend a lot of time thinking about disability, and feeling things about it. Bran Stark, one of the more prominent disabled protagonists right now, spends an awful lot of his inner life lamenting his broken body, even five books later. Around book four, I would have loved to experience a little less lamenting and a little more of Bran adapting to the new limitations of his body. What’s Bran’s day-to-day like? Apart from a convenient supernaturally gentle giant, what clever medieval assistive technologies have the household clergy dreamed up to help their lord get around Winterfell? (The handsome man at my elbow would like to point out that George R.R. Martin did rather thoughtfully line the walls of Bran’s bedroom with weight-bearing bars.) What does he think about in the moments when he’s pissing, or bathing or eating or scratching an itch? There’s gotta be whole hours where even Bran Stark doesn’t think about his broken back at all.

(18) MICRO SOLAR. BBC reports “‘Cyborg’ bacteria deliver green fuel source from sunlight”.

Scientists have created bacteria covered in tiny semiconductors that generate a potential fuel source from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water.

The so-called “cyborg” bugs produce acetic acid, a chemical that can then be turned into fuel and plastic.

In lab experiments, the bacteria proved much more efficient at harvesting sunlight than plants.

The work was presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington.

Researchers have been attempting to artificially replicate photosynthesis for many years.

(19) BACKWARDS TO THE FUTURE. Brian Merchant interviews William Gibson about his new novel for Motherboard.

On that note, in Archangel, present-day post-apocalyptic America has been brought about at least in part by a US president-cum-wannabe-dictator, who consolidated power in the wake of a nuclear tragedy. Any present-day through-lines you’d like to comment on there?

If you look at American science fiction from the Cold War, that’s not a novel scenario. It’s more like a meme. Using it in Archangel felt like resurrecting an American retro-future, which is what it is. But I never expected to be living, right now, in that American retro-future!

(20) ODIOUS,. Meanwhile, back in 2015… Adam-Troy Castro’s verse “Ode To That Signed Book by Him Who Chose To Block Me” is just as relevant to Facebook users today.

O that novel on my shelf
by him who chose to block me,
Who signed it o’er to my self,
in belief that it would rock me,
who called me friend and colleague then,…
in the hopes I’d write some praise,
with fine excerptable blurb,
that might his royalties raise.
But alas! Alack! That book
of Heinleinian flavor,
with ray gun blasts, I ne’er took
an afternoon to savor.
My author pal got online
with Hugo-baiting rancor
o’er books both poor and sublime,
with allies like a canker….

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/27/17 During Total Eclipse, Electric Sheep Don MirrorShades Before Looking Up

  1. (12) WORLDCON 75 VIDEOS. The con now has 45 videos on YouTube although a little birdie chirped that no video of the Hugo Ceremony is among them.

    But it will come?

  2. (12) I sent the link to a friend. Her reaction?

    omg my head shows in one

    I have unusual friends.

  3. Speaking of GRRM… I noped right out of ASoIaF because it was too grimdark for me – has he written anything as good (or nearly) but less grimdarkish? I liked his writing a lot.

  4. (6) I do not think I could agree less with this opinion of Kazuo Ishiguro. (Which is fine! Literary discussion would be pretty boring if we all liked the same books.) That said, I did spend much of The Buried Giant wondering if anyone other than me would enjoy such a downbeat, unresolved take on the Matter Of Britain.


    I usually hate these “who has the legitimate claim to the Iron Throne” type stories. I was reading an online discussion awhile back about how Stannis is obviously the rightful heir to his brother, yada yada. From my own reading of history, a ruler’s legitimacy is based on their ability to convince the people (or at least the aristocracy) that they’re the rightful ruler. So it doesn’t really matter in the end who has a “better” claim–it’s going to be all about who can defeat the others or persuade enough people to back ’em, nothing else.

  6. Back when GRRM was still in charge, I assumed that figuring out the ultimate winner would basically be a case of identifying which character most closely resembled Henry VII. (And I had a pretty good idea of who that was going to be.) Now that the TV show is charging on ahead, leaving Martin behind, I’m not so sure.

    eta: and I confess I don’t follow the books or the show closely enough to be sure if my theory still made sense even back when the books were still ahead.

  7. David H:

    From my own reading of history, a ruler’s legitimacy is based on their ability to convince the people (or at least the aristocracy) that they’re the rightful ruler. So it doesn’t really matter in the end who has a “better” claim

    That’s true, but not the whole story. Yes, legitimacy is ultimately about convincing people you’re the rightful ruler. But convincing people about that is easier to do for a pretender who have a good story, a story that’s easy to believe in.

    The story of a pretender’s legitimacy don’t have to be true, and in the end succession isn’t determined by splitting hairs about who have the better claim. But an aristocracy who considers themselves noble and lawful will want to submit to the True King rather than some low-born random upstart who happens to have a big army. A pretender should have a good enough story to allow people to tell themselves they support him because of it, and splitting hairs about who have the better claim is certainly part of the succession process.

  8. @Xtifr that was my thinking, way back when I read the first book, and I realized that this was indeed going to be (or so I thought, “War of the Roses on another world”.). So that meant to me that Daenerys was going to win, possibly by marrying, say, as certain Stark.

    With the show outpacing the novels, now, yeah, I think that idea is going to need revisiting.

    Re: Tyler’s Worldcon report. It was amazing to have that little Indonesian place right in the same apartment block as our Air BnB. The food was delicious!

  9. (6)Ishiguro convinced me with Never Let Me Go that he looked down on sf, and had contempt for its readers. He did not seem to have given any serious thought tho any of the issues raised in his book, except to milk them for misetyvand pat himself on the back for being Serious.

    Nothing in the glowing descriptions of The Buried Giant made it sound any better.


    Oh, yeah, Good morning!

  10. Archangel is pretty good – the post-war Berlin setting seems like a natural one for Gibson and he revels in the black-market/underground/old-school espionage aspects, though the addition of the sci-fi plot elements from The Peripheral (sort of?) ended up reminding me of Howard Waldrop’s Them Bones. The art is nice and moody.

    I should say the transfer from prose/screenplay to comic script is on the high side of solid rather than slick, which is a decent accomplishment in and of itself. It’s obvious he respected the form enough to work at it.

  11. On disabilities: I’m 75 % deaf, half blind and dyslexic and have a genetic “disease”. . How does one go about feeling “lived in”? My main problem is people who think such things are “funny” or I should go on disability. I cope well. But not with certain individuals.

  12. @Meredith: Martin has tended to be darker from the first, although aSoIaF is (IMO) extreme for him. I know someone not obviously fond of grimdark who speaks well of Dying of the Light; Armageddon Rag may be worthwhile (though not really genre) or may be too USian for your taste.

    @Johan P: good points re @David H; I’d add that a supporter due to promises may take a better promise from someone else; a supporter who believes in legitimacy is (ISTM) less swayable, absent new evidence (cf the major turnaround described near the bottom of the story — I wonder whether that was really Martin’s plan or just some producer pulling an idea out of their ass).

  13. Chip Hitchcock, since the story of how the producers got the ok to make “Game of Thrones” is that they told Martin they knew who Jon’s parents were… and they were right… I think that element, at least, is legit.

    As for bloodline claims vs. I-have-the-power claims, lords whose principle claims to power rest on the legitimacy of bloodline claims are, it seems to me, more likely to support those out of simple enlightened self-interest. If bloodline doesn’t matter, then one’s own earldom is in doubt… Unless, of course, there’s a usurper’s army looking their way, in which case the enlightened self interest might work the other direction. But in purely abstract terms, people whose claim to power rests on genealogy are more likely to support genealogical claims.

  14. Bloodline claims and ‘who has the power’ claims don’t need to be seen as directly opposed to one another. There can be general agreement that power depends on a blood relation to the previous holder, and that other things being equal closer relations have a better claim, but no absolutely rigid rule (which people are agreed on, at least) laying down the succession for all time; in which case, there will sometimes be doubtful cases, where the wishes of the people/nobility settle the matter. This seems to have been largely the case at the period GoT is inspired by.

  15. We fetched a general from another country to become king and people didn’t care that much. Legitimacy wasn’t an issue, only power positioning and relations to other countries.

    So when we say “convincing people”, we mean come to an agreement with other nobles.

  16. 6) I feel like I’ve been reading an entirely different author all this time. I haven’t read The Buried Giant, but I have read other Ishiguro books (including Never Let Me Go, which I loved), and those seem mostly about the relationship between the choices we makes as people and the inability, despite those choices, to escape the context in which we make them. Remains of the Day was about a man whose insistence on strict adherence to a code that on its face is–or should be–profoundly just winds up making very immoral choices that he doesn’t realize are both immoral and against his personal code until it’s far too late because he’s unable to step outside his context and see it clearly. Ultimately these choices destroy any chance he has of happiness or even being remembered as a moral man, and cause much strife for people he’d prefer to protect.

    Never Let Me Go was similarly about how meaningful choice is in the face of events characters can’t fully understand and have little or no control over, but that define their entire context. When finally faced with the reality of what their lives have been about and for, the characters in NLMG choose to fulfill a flawed, immoral purpose because it becomes literally the last thing they have left. To the reader it seems like a terrible, cruel thing, to have them choose to remain victims, but I see it as being similar to how some former inmates are unable to function outside of the structure of the prison system after a certain number of years. It has become so much a part of them that leaving it behind looks less like freedom to them and more like self-annihilation. The characters wind up not making the “right” choice because they can’t escape their moment in history and what it’s done to them and their ability to even see the meaning in their choices.

    Ishiguro doesn’t have contempt for the reader, imo, but he also doesn’t care in the slightest for the reader’s comfort.

    19) So, so, so looking forward to his upcoming novel. If my usual venue doesn’t let me review it I will be *extremely* unhappy.

  17. 17. I would love to see a magazine called Sad and Mad Puppies Destroy Science Fiction, an anthology devoted to snide, satirical and ironic versions of the type of stories the pups like. And whoever writes the John Wright story should hand it to another author who uses a thesaurus and replaces every word of the story with an even more pretentious word. The Muslim aliens not only beat “the forces of good” but convert them to Islam. And some evil non-cis aliens have a Transgender Change Beam. And, of course, as much roman a clef material that won’t lead to a frivolous lawsuit. And as a former librarian, I hate skirting on the borders of censorship, but every story should not be written by people who are cis white males. Just would like to see Puppy heads explode

  18. @Meredith: GRRM’s Fevre Dream is an excellent and greatly underrated vampire novel. It’s hardly sweetness and light, but it isn’t the relentless grimdark of ASoIaF, either. It also has his best writing and quite possibly the most perfect ending of any novel I have read.

  19. Alan Ziebarth: I would love to see a magazine called Sad and Mad Puppies Destroy Science Fiction, an anthology devoted to snide, satirical and ironic versions of the type of stories the pups like… Just would like to see Puppy heads explode.

    Nah, that would be giving entirely too much thought and effort to the Puppies, which they do not warrant. And it wouldn’t make their heads explode; on the contrary, they would revel in the attention.

    The best counter to the Puppies is for writers of all races and genders and sexual orientations to continue writing from their hearts, and for readers to keep buying and reading what they love.

  20. I thought well of Armageddon Rag when I first read it in the 1980s and then when rereading it for the SFBC discovered the book I remembered had been replaced by one about a whiny baby boomer who badly needed repeated face-punching.

    I have a very clear memory of staying up until the wee hours to finish Fevre Dream, putting it down and looking out the window of my ground-floor apartment to see the silhouette of a hunched, be-horned thing looking in at me. It was a dog with its paws on the railing of the (pointless, since it was the ground floor) balcony.

  21. You can get a lot of fun once different houses start fighting over legitimacy to the throne: France has at least 4 different pretender lines–Legitimist, Orleanist, Bonapartist, and Jacobite. If France went Royal/Imperial again (ha!), who gets to be the Dany/Stannis/Joffrey there?

  22. @David: cf. Steinbeck’s The Short Reign of Pippin IV, which avoids all four of the lines you name.

  23. Like several others, I bounced off The Buried Giant. I’m usually a big fan of Arthur stories and parallels but I hated this version. I was irritated on two fronts. I’m a former medieval historian and, for me, the world building was inaccurate for the time period, and unsympathetic to the stories of Arthur, and the other Matter of Britain. The first wasn’t really a surprise and is obviously common to many books with a medieval setting. But when something feels like a monty python version of the past it’s hard to rate from an author with that reputation. Then, on top of that, there was the lack of sympathy with either the historical or fantastic genres and I just couldn’t stand to read on.

  24. @Lis Carey and Paul Weimer,

    The max thread subscriptions appears to be around 720. I followed JJ’s advice and switched to site subscription instead of thread subscription. It meant that I automatically receive by email all top posts and all comments (no more need to ticky) . But it’s easy enough to delete those from my inbox once I had read them. And I no longer have to worry about missing seeing posts. I also no longer have to worry about bumping into the thread subscription limit.

  25. W75 has posted still photos of the Hugo ceremony. I asked about the video and they said it would be available in the next few days.
    Which feels very like what they said last week.

  26. @Meredith – maybe try GRRM’s Tuf Voyaging. Sometimes-humorous short stories about an ecological seedship’s master. No dragons, but plenty of cats. It isn’t all moonbeams and rainbows, but I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a grimdark I’ve read, and I’ve read this several times.

  27. I didn’t like (or enjoy) the Tuf stories that I’ve read, but Dying of the Light isn’t too grimdark. It does leave the characters and plot kind of hanging, though.

  28. @Alan Ziebarth

    Just would like to see Puppy heads explode.

    What they crave most is attention. If they’re really done gaming the Hugo Awards, perhaps we’re at the point where we can simply start ignoring them.

  29. @Cassy B: an excellent point (on why nobles go by legitimacy); I had not been thinking of that. wrt Jon, do we ever find out why Westeros was misinformed?

  30. @Soon Lee —

    I followed JJ’s advice and switched to site subscription instead of thread subscription. It meant that I automatically receive by email all top posts and all comments (no more need to ticky) .

    For anyone who might be confused and not able to find this (I only found it about a week ago myself) — apparently you have to sign up for an actual wordpress account and website (you can get a free one) in order to have this option. And if you sign up, you get to upload a nifty avatar too. 😉

  31. I enjoyed the Buried Giant – the theme of what people try to ignore about their lives or forget about their history runs through his novels but I thought The Buried Giant was a new approach.

  32. @Chip: Misinformed about Jon Snow’s parentage? Because Arq Fgnex srnerq gung vs Wba jrer xabja nf n Gnetnelra onol, rira n onfgneq, uvf yvsr jbhyq or sbesrvg. (Cebonoyl jvgu tbbq ernfba.) Naq uvf fvfgre unq znqr uvz cebzvfr gb cebgrpg gur obl.

  33. 14)
    Unfortunately, I didn’t find the time to go to the toy museum at Suomenlinna, though I would have loved to (recovering toy collector here). Coincidentally, one of Nick Tylers pictures shows Mecki the Hedgehog toys, based on a German comic and children’s book character. I got the whole Mecki family as a present for my 5th birthday (and still have them) and the picture book Mecki in the Moon has the distinction of being the first SF book I ever read.

    Regarding the “Nazi doll”, it looks like a standard bisque doll from the 1920s dressed in a homemade Nazi uniform. Not uncommon, dolls were expensive and passed on from kid to kid and parents often customised them. And though the photo is too small to make out details, the doll looks like a Kämmer & Reinhard doll to me, which would be ironic, since the owners of the doll company were Jewish.

  34. @David Goldfarb: that’s … convoluted. Well, nobody said this story wasn’t going to be a tangle.

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