Pixel Scroll 9/6/18 Wild Pixels Couldn’t Scroll Me Away

(1) DONATION BY WORLDCON SCIENCE GOH MAKES HEADLINES. BBC reports Dublin 2019 guest of honor Jocelyn Bell Burnell will donate the money coming to her as winner of a major science prize: “Physics star Bell Burnell gives away £2.3m prize”

One of the UK’s leading female astronomers is to donate her £2.3m winnings from a major science prize she was awarded.

The sum will go to fund women, under-represented ethnic minority and refugee students to become physics researchers.

Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has been awarded a Breakthrough Prize for the discovery of radio pulsars.

This was also the subject of the physics Nobel in 1974, but her male collaborators received the award.

The Breakthrough award also recognises her scientific leadership.

‘An inspiration’

Prof Bell Burnell believes that under-represented groups – who will benefit from the donation – will bring new ideas to the field.

“I don’t want or need the money myself and it seemed to me that this was perhaps the best use I could put to it,” she told BBC News.

Prof Bell Burnell’s story has been both an inspiration and motivation for many female scientists. As a research student when pulsars were discovered, she was not included in the Nobel prize citation – despite having been the first to observe and analyse the astronomical objects (a type of neutron star that emits a beam of radiation).

She now says she wants to use her prize money to counter what she describes as the “unconscious bias” that she believes still occurs in physics research jobs.

The Guardian’s coverage of the donation includes a wonderful quote:

The discovery was so dramatic it was awarded the Nobel prize in 1974. But while Hewish was named as a winner, Bell Burnell was not. The decision drew vocal criticism from the British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, but Bell Burnell has not complained.

“I feel I’ve done very well out of not getting a Nobel prize,” she said. “If you get a Nobel prize you have this fantastic week and then nobody gives you anything else. If you don’t get a Nobel prize you get everything that moves. Almost every year there’s been some sort of party because I’ve got another award. That’s much more fun.”

(2) INCLUSION. There is a discussion taking place over the submissions call for Artemis Rising, and what is an effective inclusive phrasing.

The Artemis Rising page at Escape Artists explains its mission:

Artemis Rising is an annual month-long event across all four Escape Artists podcasts, highlighting women in genre fiction, a demographic that has been underrepresented until recent years. This showcase helps to address that historical imbalance and correct the impression, which continues to persist in some social circles, that women cannot write excellent genre fiction.

…Prior to 2018, we specifically included the term “non-binary” in our Artemis Rising submission calls. English is flawed in its ability to accurately represent the breadth of human genders, and as such the language we use is always evolving. We respect the feedback that we’ve received regarding our use of “non-binary” as a catch-all: that it erroneously tilts the perception of non-binary people in a feminine direction. Non-binary authors who identify as women are welcome and encouraged to participate. An author’s gender and its expression are theirs alone to determine.

Bogi Takács, in “Why “women + nonbinary” is not a good idea”, recommended a different collective phrasing:

I have noticed a trend where more and more venues change their phrasing to “women + nonbinary” only to then revert back to “women only” after a period of time. This can be very difficult for nonbinary authors they published in the meanwhile who are not women. (Including, occasionally, me.)

I used to say that “women + nonbinary” can be acceptable as a phrasing, even if not ideal. In the light of this recent trend, I changed my mind and no longer recommend such calls for submission. Nonbinary people can be and often are very rapidly erased from such phrasings…

I tend to recommend “marginalized genders / sexes.” This includes all trans and intersex people, while also including cis non-intersex women. It also includes nonbinary people in general….

There follows (at the linked post) a really interesting and informative FAQ that analyzes a lot of issues involved in the choice of wording. Takács cautions,

This is not the be-all-end-all of nonbinary inclusion in calls for submissions, just my thoughts as someone who is a writer and editor who gets asked all these questions frequently.

Escape Artists’ S.B. Divya , in “Letter to SF”, commented on the issues – here is an excerpt:

…So instead, this is me inviting you to have a conversation. All I ask is that you give me the benefit of your doubt. I know I’m relatively new to this industry so you have no reason to trust me, but please give a chance. I’ll try to keep the rest of this as brief and minimal as necessary to help you know where I’m coming from.

Please note: this is all from me, not representing anyone else at Escape Artists, Escape Pod, or the Artemis Rising project.

I was the one who pushed back on “marginalized genders” when we began discussing this year’s Artemis Rising submissions call back in spring.

I will remove myself from Artemis Rising because I can’t comfortably be part of that conversation anymore. In avoiding my negative emotional triggers, I ended up hurting others, and I don’t want to inflict any more pain on the world. I apologize to everyone affected by this.

I find the word marginalized deeply problematic on a personal level. I lived several years in a high school of 1500 students where I could count the number of Asians on one hand. It was not a good time in my life. Being marginalized is something that was done to me in the past. Inhabiting the margins – or not – is something I actively choose today….

There is also a Twitter thread.

Rachel K. Jones, a former Escape Artists editor who helped start the annual Artemis Rising cycle, also responded to the discussion. Her Twitter thread starts here.

(3) FAREWELL TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET. Richard Bruton has closed the Forbidden Planet blog, noted here because Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon wrote  a hundred posts for them over the years. Bruton explained:

Well, you might have heard, you might have not, but as from this week, the FPI Blog shall be no more. The online side of things at FPI is changing, and the blog simply isn’t part of the future sadly. But, it’s been a wonderful thing while it lasted, a decade plus of incredible comics coverage, serving the UK comics scene as only a few others have really done over the years.

Yep, from this weekend, the blog is being shuttered. Alas.

I started here in 2007 (with this post in fact), a couple of years after the blog itself had started. Initially, it was meant to be the place for a few reviews. It swiftly became a lot more than that. And now, after over 6,000 posts from me, it’s time to say goodnight.

(4) FOURTH MURDERBOT. There’s an excerpt available, however, I resisted reading it because I’ve already got the book pre-ordered and don’t want to spoil my own enjoyment. That won’t be an obstacle for some of you, and will be a treat for others who have not discovered Wells’ series before now –

(5) ON BOARD. The Washington Post’s Michael J. Gaynor previews WashingCon, a board-game convention taking place at the Georgetown University conference center that is expected to draw 1,000 people — “You can play more than 500 board games in D.C. this weekend”.

Since then, WashingCon has grown in attendance and variety of activities. The library is open for anyone to check out something that looks interesting, with volunteers on hand to teach rules to beginners. A gamer might sit down to play with friends, but it’s also typical to just ask random passersby if they’d like to join.

“It’s an easy icebreaker,” says Dave Chalker, a local board-game designer who’s attended all three WashingCons. “You get to meet people throughout the course of the game, and you might even stay together as a group to play a new game together. That side of it is just so casual and welcoming.”

The convention also hosts panel discussions on subjects like inclusivity and diversity in gaming, as well as how to make a living as a designer. (That one’s hosted by Chalker.) There are tournaments for popular games like Pandemic, Codenames and Settlers of Catan.

The Dave Chalker quoted here is the son of Jack and Eva Whitley Chalker.

(6) FOLLYCON. Peter Tyers’ report of this year’s Eastercon is posted at SF Concatenation – “Follycon 2018”.

Follycon 2018 was held at the Majestic Hotel in the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate. In some ways it was a convention of two halves: the convention catering, which left a lot to be desired (for reasons described later), and the convention itself, which was most enjoyable and very successful.

…The Opening Ceremony was straight after lunch and we were introduced to the committee and the Guests of Honour: Kim Stanley Robinson (author), Nnedi Okorafor (author), Kieron Gillen (graphic novelist and games enthusiast), and Christina Lake (author and fan), who were much in evidence over the weekend. Stan Robinson gave several talks and covered the life and times of John Muir (including his influence on California and the creation of Yosemite National Park), Galileo and the Scientific Method, generally recalled his previous visits to our shores, and answered many questions from the audience.  Nnedi Okorafor was interviewed by Tade Thompson and she was relaxed and forthcoming, covering her intended career as a professional tennis player, curtailed by illness, and how she turned to writing. She also gave a couple of readings and a kaffeeklatsch though her writer’s schedule meant that sometimes she had to retire to her room and meet a few deadlines (lookout for her name on output from the world of Marvel Comics, especially Black Panther stories)….

(7) SPIDER-GEDDON. I thought the artwork for the new Spider-Geddon comics series was impressive:

REVENGE OF THE SPIDER-VERSE! Marvel is excited to celebrate SPIDER-GEDDON from Christos Gage and Jorge Molina with a spectacular, brand-new connecting variant cover by superstar artist InHyuk Lee.

Unlike the variant covers that will accompany SPIDER-GEDDON’s debut, this stellar cover connects all six issues, including the prelude #0 issue, celebrating the multitude of Spideys that appear in the story – from old favorites to new favorites to the newest member of the Spider-Man family, Peter Parker from the world of Marvel’s Spider-Man!

Featuring new villains and old villains, shocking deaths and shocking returns, and all the Spider characters you can fit into one larger-than-life tale, this is a Marvel Spider-Event not to be missed! Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into this fresh new adventure October 10th, when SPIDER-GEDDON #1 hits comic shops!

(8) FRASER OBIT. Liz Fraser (1930-2018): British actress, died September 6, aged 88. Television appearances include The Avengers (one episode, 1966, playing an actress hired to impersonate Emma Peel), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1970). Featured in four Carry on movies.


  • September 6, 1956Fire Maidens from Outer Space premiered.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 6 — China Miéville, 46. — Bas-Lag series, myriad stand-alone novels including o I really like, Kraken and The City & The City, plus I’ll single out EmbassytownUn Lun Dun and The Last Days of New Paris which is the only work by him I never finished. He won a Hugo for The City & The City. He’s wrote scripts for Hellblazer, Justice League and Dial H.


  • Speed Bump — Would you like to know what bugs time travelers more than anything?

(12) BIG CATS. Nina Kahn at The Bustle brings us the latest in SJW credential science: “Cats Apparently Think Humans Are Bigger, Clumsy, Hairless Cats, So That’s Adorable”.

Needless to say, when I look at a cat, I see a clearly superior being. But what do cats think when they look at us? Well, according to some experts, cats might think humans are cats, too. Bigger, clumsier cats, sure — but cats nonetheless.

According to John Bradshaw, an expert on cat behavior and author of a bestselling book on cat science, there’s plenty of evidence that points to the fact that cats see humans as nothing more than fellow cats. In an interview with National Geographic, Bradshaw stated, “We’ve yet to discover anything about cat behavior that suggests they have a separate box they put us in when they’re socializing with us. They obviously know we’re bigger than them, but they don’t seem to have adapted their social behavior much.”

(13) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. BBC reports “Space laser ‘Aeolus’ starts chasing the wind”.

The British-built Aeolus satellite has begun firing its laser down on Earth to map the planet’s winds.

It is a big moment for the European Space Agency mission, the technology for which took 16 years to develop.

Launched two weeks ago from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, Aeolus is now undergoing three months of testing.

(14) WORD USE FREQUENCY. Fanzine fans have spent decades trying to identify the authors of various hoax and anonymous publications using techniques like this – and failing spectacularly (just going by my own track record of what I’ve gotten away with…)This Twitter thread, which starts here, gathered some entertaining responses.

(15) ABOUT THAT MOON FLAG NONSCENE NONSENSE. Homer Hickam, author of the memoir Rocket Boys, which was made into the film October Sky, has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post about the controversy over the Neil Armstrong biopic  First Man not having the scene where Armstrong unfurls a flag on the moon.  Hickam says the issue of the flag on the moon wasn’t a big deal in 1969 and he plans to see the movie because First Man is based on a book he thinks is an excellent biography of Neil Armstrong: “The new Neil Armstrong movie is about more than the lunar flag-planting”.

…Author James R. Hansen worked hard to reveal a man who comes across in the book as a kind of techno-Atticus Finch — someone who never says outright what he believes but demonstrates it through his actions.

I suspect this vision of Armstrong affected the filmmakers. No one ever saw Armstrong do a fist-pump; he just didn’t do that kind of thing. Raising the flag on the moon might be perceived as that kind of gesture and therefore jar the flow of a film trying to uncover the inner workings of a man who spent a lifetime keeping his emotions in check. Although I personally would have included the flag-raising — it was a moment of rare lightheartedness between Neil and Buzz — I understand from experience the decisions that writers and directors sometimes make to fit their vision of their characters, even ones based on real people….

(16) NOT ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST. Maybe you know someone who will love these Archie McPhee catalog items.

This year we’re excited to introduce TWO new flavors of candy canes. We’ve got Clamdy Canes that taste like sweet clams, and Mac & Cheese Candy Canes that taste like that little packet of cheese powder that comes with instant macaroni and cheese. Savory candy canes are an inevitable wave of the future; you might as well switch now and avoid the rush. Don’t forget to order Pickle Candy Canes now! They sell out every year.

(17) ZOMBIES IN YOUR STOCKING. Here’s the Anna and the Apocalypse Official Trailer. “This year’s feel-good Christmas hit!” exclaims one possibly-already-zombified critic. Based on Ryan McHenry’s 2011 short Zombie Musical.

Music. Christmas. Zombies. Watch the official trailer for Anna and the Apocalypse and see why critics are calling it “Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land”! In theaters this holiday season.


[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Bacon, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

52 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/6/18 Wild Pixels Couldn’t Scroll Me Away

  1. 1) Wow! Good for her winning the prize, and for donating it.

    2) Thank you, Rachael Jones, for mentioning what I thought was obvious but I guess isn’t?

    4) BRB.

    6) If you ever get a chance to hear Stan talk about John Muir, do it. I think he knows more about the man that Muir himself did.

    11) I LOL.

    12) I suspected as much. I’m the stupid one with the helpful thumbs.

    14) I liked Camestros’ — it’s funny b/c it’s true of him.

    16) Pleh.

  2. Fifth! And title credit!

    14) My calling card appears to be starting sentences with “So…” and overuse of em-dashes.

  3. @1: I saw the BBC story, but completely missed that she was a Worldcon GoH?

    @8: I’m surprised that The Avengers actually hired a 2nd actress, instead of doubling the role as in (e.g.) Logan; from what I’ve read, they were shooting on a very modest budget. I wonder whether an actress was cheaper(*) than the effects for whatever joint appearances were needed, or the director wanted to be certain everyone could identify the impostor.
    (*) shades of the Welles/Houseman production of Julius Caesar, in which a boy was used for Caesar’s corpse because they couldn’t afford a dummy.

    @16: is “inevitable” the new “inconceivable”?

  4. Spiderpeople
    Thousands and thousands of spiderpeople
    They infest
    They’re a nest
    Oh Jesus
    Thousands of spiderpeople

  5. (2) is very interesting, and it’s great to see such thoughtful discussion between multiple participants.

    It really is a tough problem. You’d think that saying “EVERYBODY’S WELCOME” should be simple enough, but when you’ve got plenty of society conditioned to assume there’s a “(but not you)” rider to that, then… it really, really isn’t.

    And all the more so when you’re soliciting submissions with a specific focus, and people need to figure out whether they “count” or not.

  6. you are aware that the role was in the TV Series The Avengers in 1966

    The ‘modest budget’ reference suggests so. I’d think the difference in available editing technology in the two eras would be at least as much of an issue as the budget, though.

  7. The Utmost Bound” by Vivian Shaw, Uncanny Magazine #20, January 2018

    While I didn’t find the story’s end as convincing as I hoped, I love this story for the fact that it made me one of Today’s Lucky 10,000, with a reference to some history of which I had not previously been aware. I would love to see someone take this bit of history and do something more momentous with it.

    It’s a brief story and well worth reading.

  8. “playing an actress hired to impersonate Emma Peel” refers to the plot of the episode. She was not a stand in for Diana Rigg, so editing technology is not relevant. Although, IIRC the character she played was intended to be a replacement for Emma Peel, however, Rigg signed up for more episodes so Frazer’s character was never required to become a regular.

  9. On (8) Liz Fraser was in the Avengers episode “The Girl from Auntie”. I vaguely remember it, but have the DVD, so rewatched it. In the story, Emma is drugged and kidnapped at the beginning of the episode. Steed had been out of town for a few days but we see him going to Emma’s apartment. Liz Fraser is there, claiming to be Emma, but of course it’s immediately obvious to Steed she isn’t. Eventually, after various things happen, she tells Steed that she saw a newspaper advertisement to impersonate Emma and she took it. She gives her character’s actual name, but I forgot it. For most of the show she (more or less) takes on Emma’s role and does fairly well at it. Near the end of the episode Emma is found in a very large bird cage (she was supposed to be sold at a “spy auction” for her knowledge), but escapes with help.

    At the very end of the episode, Emma and Steed are driving in one car, and the Liz Fraser character in another. There’s a fork in the road and Fraser goes off in a different direction after a waving nicely, and I believe that’s it for her character in the show. In a weird way that scene reminded me of the missing man formation. (Of course, Steed/Patrick Macnee preceded her).

  10. (12) This validates yet another theory I’ve propounded in the guise of a cartoon. Around 1980, I did one of two cats watching a human, and one says, “Well, sure. They’re just big, misshapen cats.”

    (14) For me, the dead giveaway would be my inimitable catch phrase, “Speaking for me, Kip Williams…”

    Also, status report: I get notified of new posts, but not of replies. This is why I have been vanishing from possible conversations. Also have to type in my info each time. It’s this way for everybody, right?

    By the scrolling of my pixels, something non-rhyming this way comes.

  11. Kip, go to https://wordpress.com and sign in with your File770 posting nym/e-mail and password. Next to “Followed Sites”, click “Manage”.

    (Or you can just go to the URL https://wordpress.com/following/manage )

    Find “File 770” in the list. To the right of it, click “Settings”. You can turn on “e-mail me all Posts” and “e-mail me all Comments” here.
    (On at least one occasion, they were on, but I found that toggling them off and then on again reset the functionality.)

    You may also find it helpful to go to
    and delete individual subscriptions to really old comment threads.

    Let me know if you have any problems with any of these steps and we’ll figure it out.

  12. Kip, autofill isn’t autofilling, so, yes, so far as I know everyone has to retype their name and email address with every post.

  13. Auto fill works fine here. On Firefox in Windows. Click on the field, list (of one item, in my case) drops down to pick the name/password.

  14. @Christian Brunschen: @James Moar is correct. (I referenced Logan because I figured most Filers would know of it, even if they’d avoided seeing it.) However, wrt editing tech: this was about the time of the OST episode in which Kirk was split into light and dark sides; there was at least one scene when they were together (although that may have been a rear shot of a body double — I don’t remember the staging). If I had to bet, I’d give odds that actor-moving-with-themself had been done well before this, but I’m no expert on film/TV history.

    @Stuart Hall: yes, I read the description; ISTM that the most plausible impersonator of a character is that character’s actor. Rigg was getting a flat fee per episode, so having her play Peel’s impersonator as well as Peel would have saved a fee, IFF the editing was possible (and economical — from what I’ve read, all TV fiction at this time was shot on film rather than video(*), which meant the effect would probably have cost more than it does now). OTOH, it might have run into extra costs for hourly workers (from having to reshoot any scenes with both characters in them).
    (*) modulo some sitcoms which may still have been performed live — I forget when the last of those went to pre-shot.

    @Stobor: sounds like the idea was to make the impersonation obvious (and maybe even try out a replacement), which explains the casting.

  15. JJ on September 7, 2018 at 6:01 am said:

    Kip, go to https://wordpress.com and sign in with your File770 posting nym/e-mail and password. Next to “Followed Sites”, click “Manage”.

    (Or you can just go to the URL https://wordpress.com/following/manage )

    Find “File 770” in the list. To the right of it, click “Settings”. You can turn on “e-mail me all Posts” and “e-mail me all Comments” here.
    (On at least one occasion, they were on, but I found that toggling them off and then on again reset the functionality.)

    For anyone who is routinely God Stalking each post, this will set you up so you don’t have to. It will put all posts and each reply in your in-box.

    Auto-filling not working for me, either, using Chrome.

  16. Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a great scientist and a quality human being (a repudiation of the annoyingly persistent belief that being a genius and being a dick go together naturally).

  17. Screenjunkies news discussed to interesting news items yesterday: The Oscars Popular Picture is postponed for now. And there will be a scene cut from the upcoming predator movie. Apperently the director hired a friend for a small roll. This friend served time for having tried to have a sexual relationship with an underage girl (cant excess the original article, so Im fuzzy on how far this behavior went). He did not disclose this to the actors. Munn complained to Fox, Fox decided to have the scene cut – a werk before the press showing.

    Im reading the third part of Murderbot now! Yeah, the Murderbot can!

  18. @ Darren: That’s not autofill. Autofill is when you have a checkbox near the name/email information that says “Remember me” or something similar, and if you check it, then your information stays in the name/email spaces. Which we used to have here, but it’s been malfunctioning for several weeks now.

  19. That description of the Avengers episode makes it seem like it was intended to be an “Emma light” episode much like Doctor Who’s Blink in order to give Diana Rigg a break . I’m sure there’s some Avengers guide out there with those details.

  20. @Joe H: That was my first thought, too. Thanks for posting the clip; very nice mirror gag at the end.

  21. (14) Use of a particular phrase by a President came up in an SF story in Analog about a decade ago – there was a series of stories about a psychologist/neurologist who developed a technique that at best helped violent criminals improve their self-control by overwriting part of their brains with an influence from a less violent person – but at worse, was a form of brainwashing. In one of the later stories, a President was pushing to use this technique to use his own brain pattern as a template for all citizens; to demonstrate the technique’s safety and harmlessness, a Cabinet officer was used as a subject – and in a post-technique press conference, the Cabinet officer kept using a turn of phrase that the President was known for, which was a bit of a give-away. Anyone remember what series I’m thinking of (I’m skimming the ISFDB for that time frame, but haven’t come across it yet)?

  22. “Once is Hip Burrows-enstance, twice is coinci-Star Dance, but three times is Enemy Stars action”

    P.S. Microsoft Edge remembers my name!

  23. @Joe H: I’d heard rude remarks about the theme song but never seen it performed. (That show was not exactly aimed at tween males….) TFTR. (There’s still the question of how much dual filming would have cost if the producers had wanted a duplicate rather than an obvious impostor. One of the few things I recall from the Avengers book I skimmed a long time ago was that Rigg was getting only UKP50/week originally, later raised to 100; from what I recall of Europe on Five Dollars a Day that wasn’t peanuts but was only a few times what each stagehand would have cost.)

    @Lee: are you even seeing a remember-me box any longer? I’m not, but I get the impression recent Firefoxes are … induhvidual.

  24. @Chip
    I haven’t seen the remember-me box since WP got amnesia.
    And, as it’s 5959 here, that’s a long, long time!

  25. While I was waiting for the next installation of Murderbot, I decided to go back and read some of Wells’s older works. I’m not the world’s biggest fantasy fan, but I enjoy the stuff, so I was more than willing to give hers a shot. And boy, was I happy I did! I picked up a copy of The Cloud Roads, and it’s definitely one of the flavors of fantasy I like best–the really bizarre, inventive, original flavor. 🙂

    Great world-building. Just inches away from being SF, this novel features a lot of bizarre alien creatures with interestingly bizarre alien biology. And the protagonist…well…reminds me of Murderbot in a lot of ways. A loner, poorly socialized, extremely dangerous–but still just a sweetie at heart. If you like Murderbot, I think there’s a pretty good chance you’ll like this one. And I’m certainly planning to try more of Wells’s works in the very near future.
    Things that would give me away, hmm? I think I may be one of the only people in the world to regularly use both “y’all” and “hella”. The former I deliberately adopted, even though it’s not part of my native dialect, because it seemed so useful. The latter is very much part of my native dialect, and the fact that such an unusual word had managed to worm its way into my speech without me even noticing is one of the things that first got me interested in language change.

  26. (2) Sounds like a lot of people are spending a lot of effort in looking for ways to say “no cis men” without being quite that blunt about it. As a cis man, I wish they’d just say that and be done with it.

    As for Jones’s point about outing oneself, I agree and will add that the #ownvoices push has the same issue. As some of you may recall, an author I work with deliberately avoids giving biographical details beyond “old enough to drink legally” – including age, race, gender, cis/trans status, etc. – although it’s fair to deduce from their language that “native speaker of American English” is a safe bet. Their stated goal in this obfuscation is to let their words stand on their own as much as possible, without the reader assuming any level of (in)authenticity based on what they know about the author.

    I happen to know that J.B. has been invited to participate in a couple of #ownvoices activities. Those invitations amount to speculations about their identity, and accepting one would translate to giving the very confirmations that J.B. is deliberately avoiding. Kinda sucks, as I see it. On the one hand, they’re a little-known author who could use some attention and promotion. On the other, they’re not willing to out themselves to get it.

  27. A giveaway for me, in informal online speech, would be the use of <pointybrackets> instead of emojis. <wry> I came out of ddial and bbs culture in the 1980s, before smileys were a thing, and I still prefer the emotional nuance. Even when I have to type three extra characters to make it work. <sigh>

  28. Cassy B, I remember those. I have been frustrated sometimes because my phone keyboard doesn’t have them, so I must still use them occasionally. The tablet keyboard does have them. Hmm. Maybe time to switch keyboards again.

    I’m one of the many who uses em-dashes a lot, so that’s not such a great tell. I also overuse exclamation points – I often have to go back and edit some out. I tend to use complete words, even on text, but sometimes leave out articles and subjects (“Heading to store. Need milk.”).

  29. @Rev. Bob: There’s got to be a slightly politer (if more prolix) way of saying “No cis men”. You’re right that it wouldn’t out people as much — although if they do say “No cis men”, everyone writing with masculine names/pronouns would effectively still be outed as, well, not a cis man. Which can be dangerous.

    @Xtifr: Nah, I use both y’all and hella. IIRC, we have similar taste in men, so that’s not going to distinguish us either! 🙂

  30. I can definitely see the point that non-binary people have about the conflation “women and non-binary” because of the inadvertent implication that non-binary identities are, in some essential way, feminine. I’ve been uncomfortable with it from a different direction, in that it shifts the definition of the binary from “men vs. women” to “men vs. not-men” which in many ways centers male identities even more strongly than a simply “men vs. women” binary does. In the same way, I’m uncomfortable with the way that “queer vs. non-queer” centers straightness (even though the labeling would appear to center queerness) because it lumps together a group of disparate identities that have in common opposition to an identity category of much simpler structure. (And similarly, the way in which “white vs POC” centers whiteness.)

    But at the same time, I can see the usefulness of calls and spotlights that seek out a set of disparate non-centered identities, because of the way that centered/default/empowered have this habit of aligning. While I recognize that certain approaches to this problem have inadvertently hurt or erased certain identities, I think that most people recognize an intent not simply of good will but of the goal of doing active good behind those projects. The best we can to is listen to each other and recognize that no solution will ever be ideal. And that the answer to that is neither to give up nor to settle for “better than nothing” but to take many different approaches that support people from a multiplicity of angles in the hopes that no one will be left out entirely.

  31. @Xtifr RE Martha Wells’ older works, The Fall of Ile-Rein books (The Element of Fire, The Death of the Necromancer, and The Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy proper are all fabulous.

  32. @rochrist: I started with The Cloud Roads because it was standalone. Now that I know I like her fantasy as much as her SF (which is not true for a lot of people), I’ll definitely give that a shot. Thanks.

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