Pixel Scroll 8/7 The Men Who Murdered Aristotle

The future is almost here, in today’s Scroll.

(1) SFWA will be selling fame at Sasquan.

(2) It’s not the accuracy that counts, it’s mainly Jim C. Hines having the idea to cast his thoughts in the form of 10 Hugo Predictions that’s genius.

  1. At least three puppy nominees won Hugo awards.

Congratulations to the winners, including those who were on the puppy slates. While most of the puppy nominees failed to take home a rocket, I imagine there will be at least three. I’m predicting one will go to my own editor, Sheila Gilbert, who’s made the ballot on her own in previous years, and is (in my biased opinion) utterly deserving of the award. I’m not as sure who the second will be, but I’m guessing Kary English in the short story category. One of the movies on the puppy ballots will also win. Finally, I think there’s a good shot of either Resnick or Brozek taking home a short-form editor Hugo.

  1. At least one category went to No Award.

No Award didn’t sweep the ballot like some people hoped/feared. It did take the Novella category, though. I think it will probably take Best Related Work as well.

(3) Jason Sanford seems to be expecting a much stronger showing by No Award than Hines, judging by this eulogy for the Puppies.

The problem for the puppies is they miscalculated about the outrage arising from their actions. As record numbers of people turned out to vote in the Hugos, the pups realized they’d overreached. It’s one thing to organize block voting on a preliminary ballot which few people actually take part in. But not being humiliated by a vote of “No Award” when thousands of people are taking part — that’s a much harder accomplishment.

(4) Alex Shvartsman tells how Unidentified Funny Objects got started on the SFWA Blog.

When I thought of the concept of a non-themed humor anthology, I was certain someone must have produced one before. But my research showed that no such thing existed. There were plenty of humor anthologies available: Chicks in Chainmail and Deals with the Devil to name a few, but those were all themed projects. No one seemed to be creating anthologies that would offer a wide variety of humorous voices and styles. It was the sort of book I would want to read, and I was confident many others would like it too. Thus, Unidentified Funny Objects and its parent micro-press, UFO Publishing, were born.

(5) Brad R. Torgersen has a horseshoe theory. No, I’m not cleaning up my language. His theory is completely horseshoe.

At one end of the horseshoe you have the “pulpy” stuff: visceral, action-packed, perhaps even hard-boiled? Emphasis on “doing” versus thinking.

At the other end you have the “literary” stuff: cerebral, theme-intensive, and sometimes abstract. Emphasis on “thinking” versus doing.

There are audiences waiting for you — the author — at both ends of the horseshoe. But there is nothing to say that you can’t combine both. Too much action and not enough contemplation, and your story becomes the tale of the idiot: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Too much contemplation and not enough action, and your story becomes the prototypical MFA piece: your main character does very little, thinks about a great deal, and again your story signifies nothing.

In order to hit the “sweet spot” you need to aim for the zone at the top of the horseshoe.

(6) A lawyer defending his client in a lawsuit is demanding trial by combat:

Richard Luthmann, a Staten Island attorney, is demanding that one of the plaintiffs (or their “champion”) in the suit against him face him in a literal battle to the death unless the case is dismissed. He claims that the practice has not been outlawed in the U.S. or New York state and is suggesting it to point out the absurdity of the plaintiffs’ allegations.

He’s gotten the idea from Game of Thrones – although Mack Reynolds wrote a series of stories in the 1960s for Analog about a mercenary who participated in settling corporate disputes by combat.

Here’s the lawyer’s argument why trial by combat can be permitted:

A Staten Island lawyer with a penchant for bowties and closely-cut beards is apparently channeling his inner “Games of Thrones” by asking a judge to sanction a trial by combat to resolve a civil suit in which he’s accused of helping a client commit fraud.

“The allegations made by plaintiffs, aided and abetted by their counsel, border upon the criminal,” Richard A. Luthmann wrote in a brief recently filed in state Supreme Court, St. George. “As such, the undersigned (Luthmann) respectfully requests that the court permit the undersigned to dispatch plaintiffs and their counsel to the Divine Providence of the Maker for Him to exact His divine judgment once the undersigned has released the souls of the plaintiffs and their counsel from their corporeal bodies, personally and or by way of a champion.”

…Over the course of 10 pages, Luthmann discusses the history of trial by combat from Middle-Age England to the founding of the Thirteen Colonies. (Fun fact: One British bishop in 1276 paid a champion an annual retainer fee, with additional stipends and expenses for each fight. Luthmann doesn’t say how much.)

More to the point, an attempt to abolish the practice in the Thirteen Colonies was blocked by Parliament in 1774, nor was it subsequently banned by the Constitution in the United States or by the state of New York, Luthmann contends.

(7) This day in history, courtesy of Phil Nichols and the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies’ Facebook page.

Fifty-eight years ago today, Oliver Hardy died, bringing an end to the decades-long comedy partnership of Laurel and Hardy.

Ray Bradbury adored Laurel and Hardy. When he went to Ireland in the 1950s to write the screenplay for Moby Dick with John Huston, he discovered that they were making a personal appearance in Dublin, so he went to see them on stage.

Later, he wrote three short stories inspired by the duo. “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair” is probably the best of these, and can be found in Ray’s book The Toynbee Convector. “Another Fine Mess” is in his book Quicker Than The Eye. “The Laurel and Hardy Alpha Centauri Farewell Tour” is in One More For The Road.


Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy

(8) Major League Baseball is getting more eyeballs on its website by speculating “What would the Marvel Cinematic University’s baseball time look like?”

Ant-Man would play shortstop.

Hear us out. With a slick glove and an army of ants ensuring that any grounder would hop into his grasp for an easy out, Ant-Man would also offer surprising pop for the position. Plus, he would enrage pitchers with his ability to get on base thanks to his Pym Particles allowing his strike zone to shrink 12.7x its normal size, rendering him impossible to strike out.

From Ant-Man to Iron Man, these are Earth’s Mightiest Ballplayers.

(9) The Book Wars’ “Top Ten Tuesday” recommendations amount to around 50 titles, lots of YA and fantasy – and also, the reason I’m mentioning the post, one lists includes The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer.

(10) Mr. Sci FI, Marc Scott Zicree, visits the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center.

(11) It’s 2015, and Marty McFly’s hoverboard is here:

[Thanks to Morris Keesan, John King Tarpinian and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Richard Brandt .]


185 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/7 The Men Who Murdered Aristotle

  1. I like Zodiac, primarily because the protagonist is deliberately written as an asshole, but it’s lesser Stephenson IMO. I personally think Cryptonomnicon is his best work, and an accessible start point to boot.


    The new one is great. The latest ones have been great. Actually they’re all great!

  3. I’d echo Snowcrash and Cryptonomicon for Stevenson.

    I wasn’t convinced about Diamond Age, tried to read whatever multi-volume behemoth (Baroque Cycle?) that came after that and gave up after nothing happened for 400 pages (about a third of the first book in the trilogy).

    Dude needs an editor in the worst possible way.

  4. My weekend plans are about the same as always: complete another chapter of the current novel draft, catch up on all the household chores that I don’t have time for during the workweek, and contemplate all the household projects I’ve been successfully avoiding for quite some time.

    In contrast to all the other stuff, the novel is being quite exciting. (This is Mother of Souls, the sequel to The Mystic Marriage.) I think I’ve established my ability to write a chapter a week sufficiently steadily to be able to project a completion date. This is the first book where I’ve actually tried to do so, rather than operating on an “it’s done when it’s done” basis. I know that a chapter a week is a fairly pathetic pace, but there’s this pesky day job that pays the mortgage.

  5. @rrede @bethz Are there folk here yet to discover the good that is Donna Andrews’ Meg Lanslow novels? Up there with Phryne Fisher for fannish humour…

  6. It appears that Lou Antonelli has responded here and apologized.

    Edit: And I missed that there’s another thread up on this.

  7. Simon Bisson on August 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm said:

    @camerstros It is one of my 2016 nomination bar setting books.

    Likewise – currently (and who knows what other wonders await us) I think it stands a very good chance of being a nominee. However, given its size and density is unlike to win over many people who haven’t read it already when it comes to the final voting IMHO.

    I think my special love will always be for Anathem though.

    Thinking back on the best place to start with Stephenson, maybe Reamde? I don’t think it is his best but while it is still a doorstop it isn’t as dense as many of his novels and the plot is essentially a straight action thriller.

  8. Fugue on August 8, 2015 at 2:18 pm said:

    It appears that Lou Antonelli has responded here and apologized.

    That was a very genuine apology but now I just feel sad 🙁

  9. @Simon Bisson. I am going to try some of the Phryne Fisher mysteries again on this vacation, now that I like the TV show so much. I bounced off one before, though I like Greenwood’s other series about the baker.

  10. Soon Lee: I’m sorry for your loss. May his memory be a blessing.

    My main weekend plan involves going to see the Houston Shakespeare Festival at the Miller Outdoor Theater. Today they’re doing Macbeth, tomorrow The Merchant of Venice. I’ve seen the one but don’t mind seeing it again; I’ve never seen the other. (It’s probably the most major Shakespeare play that I don’t know.)

    UrsulaV: I don’t really do Twitter, but I’ve been seeing your macro photos on your LJ and enjoying them there.

  11. I have literally just now finished “The Fifth Season” and would like to time-vault into the future for whenever the next book comes out. Am I imagining things, or did N. K. Jemisin briefly visit this ‘verse in a short story as well?

  12. Paulcarp: That was good. 🙂

    I’ll feel better about Antonelli’s apology once there’s some hard confirmation that the police report has been withdrawn, and even better if he starts to figure out what kinds of escalation are wildly inappropriate in general. The words are a good step…if they turn out to mean something.

  13. @Torgeson: his advice for writing does’t make much sense to me. But ten again, the only advice for writing that I’ve felt was generally applicable as opposed to personal was this:
    1. Write.
    2. Read what you wrote.
    3. Repeat from step 1.
    I generally get the feeling that most Puppies avoid some step after Step 1.

    @Kurt: I loved the stories in Cosmic Laughter as a teen, ranging from the Black Sorcerer of the Black Tower- a Conan parody (before that was a thing), to Spirad’s “It’s a Bird it’s a Plane” with a plague of Superman imitators, to Haldeman’s “I of Newton.

    Also Cosmic Laughter reminded me that back in the 60s the Extruded Fantasy Product that people were complaining about wasn’t Tokien derived, but bad Howard imitators. See? We can have progress!

    @paulcarp: that was…BRILLIANT! I needed that after reading the latest bout of puppy insanity.

    This weekend? MY sister came up last night to pick up my niece from her summer internship. Mexican food, margaritas, making fun of the Soylent guy (we have consensus that it’s only a matter of time before he starts putting human protein in his drinks), and watching Sylvester the Talking Cat videos. This morning was introducing her to Steven Universe, which is an excuse for me to rewatch the whole series. Again.

    Now I’m catching up on File770, webcomics and later we are going to go watch Ant Man. Then it’s time for me to read my first draft urban fantasy novel, and decide if it’s salvageable. Step 2, repeat from 1.

  14. @Bruce Baugh:

    I might have to dive into the Cthulhu Britannica: London box set and the Curse of Nineveh campaign materials that came with it. I’m curious to see how well it meshes with Achtung Cthulhu. First, though, I’ll be watching the new Justice League: Gods and Monsters DCU Animated movie. That just looks nifty.

  15. Rev Bob: Color me curious. I’ve gotten hooked on both Achtung Cthulhu and World War Cthulhu, with deranged unviable thoughts of an epic campaign starting with The Sense Of The Sleight-of-Hand Man, then Masks of Nyarlathotep, various bridging material, and then some of both of them for World War II play.

  16. The weekend: On Friday, I officially aged one more year. I read Children of the Comet by Donald Moffitt (link is to my review.) The dogs and I went to the neighbor’s fenced yard for some playtime. (We have permission except when she has guest dogs.)

  17. @lis Ooh. I’ve not read any Moffitt since I reviewed Jovian quite a few years ago. Good to see he’s still writing.

  18. once there’s some hard confirmation that the police report has been withdrawn

    There was no police report. There was a letter. Antonelli’s said that he’s writing another one. Since the apology to Gerrold has already happened and been accepted, I don’t see a reason to assume Antonelli’s lying about the second letter.

    I’ll assume it’s being sent, myself, in the absence of confirmation that it wasn’t.

  19. Mike Glyer: I don’t understand the point of belittling Mad Genius Club’s articles about writing. Most of them have published a bunch of books. They’ve actually written, not just wished they were writers. Torgersen’s literary theory is not typical of the more practical craft-oriented articles that show up there — when they’re not busy defending Puppydom.

    I understand that you feel that way, and you are of course entitled to do so, but I disagree.

    The fact that they’ve published books is immaterial to me. Paulk’s post on how to evaluate stories is just another example of the same thing as Torgersen’s post, and posts I’ve seen by other MGC members, where they try to give simplistic, prescriptive rules about what constitutes good stories and good writing.

    As numerous other people here have explained quite eloquently, there are far more complexiities and nuances to good writing and stories than the MGC members seem capable of envisioning.

  20. @Soon Lee:

    I hope you and your family have all the love and support you need.


    Clap clap clap! I really enjoyed that.

  21. Beth Z: love Lymond and Johnson but had to give up on Niccolo. Wrote her a fan letter done ago and got a lovely reply!

  22. @rrede – The Simon Pegg movie is excellent. Ferguson was wonderful, both in acting and action scenes.

  23. @Simon Bisson – How are you liking Scorpion these days? I haven’t watched for a couple of months, it was starting to bother me that the writers had no idea how to write smart, nerdy people.

  24. Not only did Antonelli have that discussion on File 770, the guy he tried to get fired has become a regular commenter here too.

    Hi. I mostly missed this current blowup until now, as I have spent most of the day running an RPG game and playing the Firefly board game. But I am completely unsurprised that Antonelli put his foot in his mouth again.

  25. @Bruce:

    The Cthulhu Britannica: London supplements tie into the World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour framework, so if you already have that book, they should be useful material for you. The two hardbound journal supplements – Curse of Nineveh artifacts – look particularly nifty, and I’m looking forward to the final version of Assault on the Mountains of Madness.

    Then there’s Dark Regions Press’s World War Cthulhu anthology, which to my knowledge is unrelated to the gaming material but still looks fun. Nice illustrations, too.

  26. Rev Bob: Yeah, I’ve been reading the anthology and enjoying it, and am glad to know about the London books’ utility. Thanks. 🙂

  27. @rrede. I am of much the same opinion. The problem with the Niccolo books for me is the characters are not as literary.

    I attended a reading/signing and got my books signed, though!

    (And told her my husband ignored me for a good share of our honeymoon to finish reading Checkmate, which shocked her a little until I explained we had been living together beforehand.)

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