Pixel Scroll 9/11/16 Infinite Pixels in Infinite Scrolls

(1) THAT FONT. The following video about comics lettering is via Mark Evanier’s News From ME, who recommended it while also offering one correction:

The gent who did it knows a lot about his subject but no one seems to have told him that nobody in the business ever refers to the shape around the words as a “bubble.” It’s a “balloon.” The word “bubble” refers to the bubble shapes that serve as a pointer on a scalloped-edge thought balloon (one that tells us what someone is thinking rather than what they say).


(2) 9-11 THEME. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler (Gideon Marcus) has just seen a new 1961 sf movie — [September 11, 1961] Newest Child of The Bomb (The Flight that Disappeared).

The Bomb.  Since its creation and use in 1945, it has overshadowed our world.  For the first time since we descended from the trees a million years ago, humanity had the means to destroy itself in one blow.  It can’t help but influence our culture, our politics, our nightmares.  It is no surprise that atomic holocaust has figured prominently in our visual and printed media.

Last weekend, at a pre-premiere in Los Angeles, my daughter and I watched The Flight that Disappeared, the latest film to draw inspiration from the universal fear that is nuclear annihilation.

(3) COMMUNITY STANDARDS. I learned from Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s reaction comment that a Jim Wright post had been taken down.

What the fuck, Facebook, deleting Jim “Stonekettle” Wright’s eloquent post against the death cult of compulsory 9/11 “patriotic” observance for “not meeting community standards.”

I was here in NYC when the towers came down. Their ashes fell on my neighborhood. Facebook can kiss my New York ass.

(4) FACEBOOK UNDERWHELMS. Jim Wright himself commented about Facebook’s action in “Renegade 911” at Stonekettle Station.

I made a Facebook post about 9-11.

It went viral.

It wasn’t even the first viral post I wrote this week, or the first to offend a certain segment of America.

And many people were offended.

Oh, yes, they were offended.

Those who beat their fleshy chests and wave the flag in righteous unending fury and bleat most bitterly about “Freedom” and “Liberty” and “Patriotism” were the most offended.

Because aren’t they always?

Aren’t they?

They attempted to hack my Facebook account.

When that didn’t work, they complained to Facebook in righteous anger, furiously waving their little flags.

Because that’s what you do when you love “Freedom” and “Liberty” and “Patriotism” — not the real freedom and liberty and patriotism but the jack-booted goose-stepping version where everybody is lined up and made to salute the flag with a gun to the back of their necks.  The kind of “Freedom” that’s administered by serious men of pure Aryan descent with death’s heads and lightning bolts on their collars.

Eventually these patriots  succeeded in convincing Facebook’s idiot mechanical brain to remove my post for “violation of community standards,” even though nothing I wrote violates Facebook’s community standards in any way

Wright’s new post quotes the text that was taken down, which reads in part:

They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.

8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.

We’re still here. They aren’t.

We win. USA! USA! USA!


You goddamned right. We. Win.


Every year on this day we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.

It’s funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.

(5) GOOD TASTE IN PODCASTS. Scott Edelman posted three more episodes of Eating the Fantastic while the Scroll was on its medical hiatus.

Episode 15: Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan

Cecilia and I discussed how her self-published Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords gave birth to the Circlet Press empire, the advice she received from Tor publisher Tom Doherty, her love for the Legion of Super-Heroes, the lesson you should learn from the fact mass market publishing finally caught up with what she’d been doing all along, and much more. Plus a few things you might not know about her, such as her teen presidency of the largest Menudo fan club in the English-speaking world!

Episode 16: Resa Nelson

Resa Nelson

Resa Nelson

Joining me was Resa Nelson, whose story “The Dragonslayer’s Sword” I published in the first issue of Science Fiction Age. My decision to purchase the story was validated when at the end of our first year, I tabulated thousands of subscriber surveys and discovered readers had voted that tale their second-favorite story—and their #1 fantasy.

We discussed how the short story of hers I’d published in Science Fiction Age grew into not just a single novel, but a series of novels, why she watches the Japanese movie The Mystery of Rampo before beginning any new writing project, what she learned from the hundreds of film interviews she did for Realms of Fantasy magazine, and more.

Episode 17: Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford

So when it came time to seek out a good setting in Quincy, Massachusetts to chat during Readercon with six-time World Fantasy Award-winning and three-time Shirley Jackson Award-winning writer Jeffrey Ford, whose new short story collection A Natural History of Hell was recently published by Small Beer Press, I looked for something off-site and more authentic.

And found it in McKay’s Breakfast and Lunch. When I read a review about “a popular townie joint” that served food which was “simple and straightforward (no creme brulee French toast or maple ganache cinnamon bread here),” I knew I’d discovered a spot with some character. So that’s where I took Jeff.

We talked about how being edited by Jennifer Brehl made him a better writer, what it was like to be taught by the legendary John Gardner, why he admitted “I don’t really know dick about science fiction or fantasy,” and much more.

Edelman says upcoming episodes already recorded include F. Brett Cox, David D. Levine, Adam-Try Castro, Alyssa Wong, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Robert Reed.

(6) LOOKING SHARP. Just spotted Heather Rose Jones’ tweet for the first time – it made me think there’d been an MGM musical version of the Hugo acceptance speeches.

(7) EGOSCANNING. Hey, I also got a call-out from John Z. Upjohn!

(8) EISNER SELECTION. All this discussion of Dragon Con’s new Dragon Awards led me to remind myself how San Diego Comic-Con’s Eisner Awards are picked. The nominees are juried.

Who votes for the Eisner wards, and how are vote cast?

Once the nominees have been chosen, voting will open on the online ballot site, www.eisnervote.com. This usually occurs in mid-April, with a voting deadline in early June. Voting is open to comic book/graphic novel/webcomic creators (writers, artists, cartoonists, pencillers, inkers, letterers, colorists); all nominees in any category; comic book/graphic novel publishers and editors; comics historians and educators; graphic novel librarians; owners and managers of comic book specialty retail stores.

(9) RAISING AWARENESS. On Facebook, Gail Martin has set up a group and enlisted a large number of authors to support an initiative:

What happens when more than 75 sci-fi and fantasy authors start a nd conversation about mental wellness, mental illness, depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD treatment and related issues?

We don’t know, but we’re going to find out.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Among the authors participating so far are: Robin Hobb Jody Lynn Nye Cat Rambo Seanan McGuire Laura Anne Gilman Chuck Gannon Kameron Hurley Catherine Asaro Gaie Sebold Karen Miller Rowena Cory Daniels David B. Coe Marc Tassin Marc Jonathan Oliver Jeanne Adams Nancy Northcott Aaron Rosenberg Jennifer St. Giles Mark L. Van Name Juliet E McKenna Jennifer Brozek Darynda Jones Christopher Golden Clay Griffith Susan Griffith Alyssa Day Gregory Wilson Josh Vogt Darin Kennedy Jon Sprunk James Maxey Karen Gallagher-Taylor Justin Gustainis Misty Massey John Hartness Gail Z. Martin Jean Marie Ward Jaym Gates Laura Taylor Weston Ochse Ronald Garner Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons, Mari Mancusi Leanna Renee Hieber Davey Beauchamp Author C.L. Wilson/Cheryl Wilson Rod Belcher Travis Heermann Author Cara Santa Maria Michael J. Allen Joshua B. Palmatier Mud Mymudes Tera Fulbright, Nicole Kurtz, Emily Leverett, Tamsin Silver Stuart Jaffe Danielle Ackley McPhail, Eric Asher, Rick Gualtieri, Chris Kennedy, Ken Schrader, Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Valerie Wllis, Alexandra Christian, Jake Bible, Matthew Saunders, Jay Requard Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon, Jeremy F. Lewis, Sascha Illyvich, Kelly Swails, Bishop O’Connell, Sherwood Smith, Peter Prellwitz, Tracy Chowdhury, Trish Wooldridge and more….

[Thanks to Scott Edelman, Tak Hallus and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cally.]

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131 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/11/16 Infinite Pixels in Infinite Scrolls

  1. While not SF I cant pass the opportunity of recommending “The zero” from Jess Walter. Since protagonist has memory lapses, it should appeal to people who, like me, like books thar screw with your head. Its not “genre”, but please check it out nevertheless….

  2. @rcade: Alex Irvine’s short story Peter Skilling from 2004 (a slightly more subtle title than its initial online version, Retroactive Anti-Terror).

  3. Wasn’t there a Tom Clancy book where a terrorist flew a plane into the Capital building during a State of the Union address or some such? Can’t remember if the Veep or a Cabinet member took over. (For that matter, I’ve been seeing promo advertisements for a show called “Designated Survivor” which appears to use the same plot; don’t know if it’s a plane or some other cause but from the 30-second snippets it looks like everyone dies in an explosion at the State of the Union address leaving just the aforementioned designated survivor to take over…) Don’t know if that’s a close enough tie-in to 9/11 for your purposes, but odds are the Pennsylvania plane was targeting either the White House or the Capitol building….

  4. BigelowT: What you say makes perfect sense, if everyone is prepared to go along with it. My worry is that some people, who do use ‘YA’ in a more restrictive sense (which more closely fits publishing practice), will be distressed if Castle Hangnail is nominated. (But if we want the award to include Castle Hangnail, why not just call it a young people’s fiction award, which would avoid all ambiguity?)

    I don’t think ‘YA’ can just mean ‘suitable for young adults’, because some unequivocal children’s books are suitable for young adults, and so are some unequivocal (old) adult books. (I wonder whether the rather broad use of ‘YA’ in fandom has as one of its sources the thought that if something is labelled as a children’s book, that implies it’s not suitable for older readers. Of course, classic children’s authors would disagree with this.) But there is a distinct tradition of children’s writing, which has to do with, I suppose, the implied primary audience; calling something a children’s book doesn’t mean either ‘only children can read this’ or ‘children can read only this’.

    Protagonist’s age is used a lot as a guide nowadays, but I think it has its weaknesses. I was just reading Howl’s Moving Castle, which seems to me clearly a children’s book in style and themes, and is in fact sold as such – but the heroine is seventeen, which would make it YA. (And there are some classic children’s books that are all about adults. What do we do with them?)

    (Oddly, many of your suggestions for ambiguous works strike me as quite unequivocal. Alice in Wonderland and Narnia I would say are clearly children’s, The Hunger Games clearly YA, and LOTR adult, though that shouldn’t stop children reading it. Harry Potter is certainly ambiguous – it clearly comes from the children’s tradition, but has a claim to be YA because it follows Harry into his teenage years – and Coraline is uncertain, though it’s sold as children’s where I am, which makes sense on the ‘protagonist’s age’ principle. But this just shows how ambiguous the whole thing is.)

  5. Clancy books: At the end of Debt of Honor (in which we get in a shooting war with India, Japan and, I believe, China) a Japanese pilot crashes a 747 into the Capitol, wiping out pretty much the entirety of the executive, legislative & judicial branches except for newly-sworn-in VP Jack Ryan.

    The next book, Executive Orders, has President Ryan trying almost single-handedly to rebuild the American government (in a much more libertarian/conservative mold, as I recall) while simultaneously dealing with an Iranian bioweapons attack.

    No, I am not making any of this up. I can only assume that had Clancy lived, Ryan would’ve eventually become Pope.

  6. odds are the Pennsylvania plane was targeting either the White House or the Capitol building….
    I’d guess the Capitol – easier for a nearly-untrained pilot to find: line up with the mall and point at the steps, or the portico. The White House is harder to spot and harder to aim at. (I keep pointing out that all their targets were easy to identify and easy to aim at, especially for someone who didn’t really have training. I spent a lot of time looking at aerial photos at work.)

  7. IIRC, Robinson sold Tor the Orphan Star trilogy in 2008 and then he had a remarkably horrid decade which basically derailed his writing. I see … one short story? After 2008.

  8. @Joe H.

    His depiction of the workings of government were surprisingly immature, especially since he basically made his name partially on political thrillers that worked at the executive level. He’d already been trending towards his Libertarian side hard, but this is when he started into the Ayn Rand territory where everyone who believed something other than he did became horribly evil cardboard cutouts with no other motivation.

    For example, the villains in his next book were extreme environmentalists. And then the Chinese…

  9. @Joe H

    “can only assume that had Clancy lived, Ryan would’ve eventually become Pope”

    The outline for Black Smoke Rising is locked in his editor’s safe, not to be disclosed until 50 years later.

  10. If only Clancy could have bought the Minnesota Vikings* (who were wiped out in The Sum of All Fears) as he attempted to do in 1998. Then we could have had Jack Ryan winning the Super Bowl with a team of conservative/libertarian players the other teams had rejected.

    * He also had attempts to buy the Patriots and the Rams, but came closest with the Vikings.

  11. @Dex: Oh, I think it started before that, although Executive Orders may have been the book where it came into full blossom. Admittedly, it’s been years since I picked one of them up, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a single liberal character (to say nothing of, e.g., someone who was gay or lesbian) who didn’t turn out to be either an active villain or “merely” monstrously misguided.

    Having said that, there’s a voice somewhere in the back of my head that wants me to at least reread Hunt for Red October and maybe Red Storm Rising someday. But that’s probably where I’d stop.

    (And as long as we’re talking about Clancy, I think there’s a case to be made that as the Jack Ryan books progressed, they actually turned into a sort of alternate history — subsequent books built on the events of previous books (the Denver Incident, and then the events of Debt of Honor & Executive Decision) in a way that caused the Clancyverse timeline to diverge quite drastically from ours.)

  12. (5) I just want to take this opportunity to say that Cecilia Tan is a damn near totemic figure to me. She’s someone who believed that erotica could be good SFF writing, that it could have proper plots and fully-rounded characters and interesting conceits and cool concepts and funny dialogue and still be sexy, and when nobody believed her she just went out and made her own publishing house that bypassed all the gatekeepers out there and found an audience. She is so inspirational that I think I would probably fangush everywhere if I ever met her, and I really want to thank her for giving me the courage to put my work out.

  13. (or maybe instead of “alternate history” say that Clancy was writing “imaginary world” books because even setting aside the historical divergences, they sure don’t seem to reflect the world we live in)

  14. I think Sum of All Fears was the book that jumped the shark, with Ryan working out everything, and becoming the voice of moral judgement on the President at the end. They’d been quite enjoyable thrillers until then. I suspect the suck fairy will have visited them though.

  15. @Joe H

    Ah, but Ryan already saved the Pope (John Paul II) in Red Rabbit, set in 81.

    I really disliked the lazy stereotyping of the UK in that book, among it’s other many issues. Tears of the Dragon was the one that really convinced me to give up on Clancy entirely though.

  16. What are the post-2001 works of SF/F that were most influenced by the attacks and subsequent societal changes, either explicitly or implicitly?

    The first thing that came to mind for me is the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

    Then I thought of stories that were directly about 911 or that referenced it. Like this one (that I had to do a lot of googling to find, in the process finding lots of articles relating to SF and 911. Do some surfing to see some of it.)

    Looking at this list reminded me of Pattern Recognition. I had forgotten about it till now, but I managed to buy an ARC of Pattern Recognition on ABEBooks before publication and two things about the book struck me early on–one was learning about the existence of the curta (and lusting for one ever since.) The other was that I consciously noticed it being the first book that I read that had 9/11 worked into the plot.

    While we are on the subject of 9/11, I never knew of this story before this WaPo article Imagine how that would have changed the shape of history if that had been carried out.

    (On a different disaster, interesting XKCD today.)

  17. Tad Williams’ War for the Flowers (published in 2003) had events similar enough to (fantasy-inflected) 09/11 that he felt compelled to include an author’s note where he pointed out that the events had been part of the book since at least a draft from 2000, and that he’d still made some edits after the fact.

    Never read Red Rabbit — I also gave up on Clancy with Bear & the Dragon (US sides with Russia in a shooting war with China).

  18. My favorite part of today xkcd is probably 2500 BCE “Stonehenge Completed,” though 9000 BCE “Last North American Pokemon Go Extinct” is good, too.

  19. The most cringe-inducing aspect of Debt of Honor, after 9/11, was the blurb on the cover that praised “An ending so plausible you’ll wonder why it hasn’t happened yet,” or words to that effect.

  20. Re: 9/11 and post-9/11 fiction:

    I was actually at the time working on a sourcebook for Feng Shui, the role-playing game about secret and powerful works of architecture that conveyed immense power on the people who owned them. The specific book was about a terrorist/resistance group that destroyed landmarks instead of capturing them. It was a little weird trying to finish that book.

  21. @James Davis Nicoll
    IIRC, [Spider] Robinson sold Tor the Orphan Star trilogy in 2008 and then he had a remarkably horrid decade which basically derailed his writing. I see … one short story? After 2008.

    Yes, what with losing his wife and daughter to illness in short order (and one other family member? I don’t recall . . . ), plus a heart attack, maybe writing and publishing isn’t so much what he wants to do anymore. I always thought that he had such an optimistic POV; it must be hard to find that particular place nowadays. I hope he gets back someday.

  22. Tom Clancy pretty much jumped the shark after, (IMO) Red Storm Rising. I think that was largely due to no longer having the influence of Larry Bond. For both RSR and The Hunt for Red October, he’d worked with Bond, a fellow who had spent 4 years at sea as an officer on a US naval destroyer, and 4 more years in naval intelligence, as well as working as a naval analyst for defense contractors and developing the Harpoon system of wargaming rules. In other words, he knew what he was doing. He went on to write some books in a similar vein to Clancy’s, except that they are quite a bit more nuanced.

  23. James Davis Nicoll: One book written well before 9/11 that will likely never be reprinted thanks to 9/11 is Frezza’s 1994 Fire in a Faraway Place . It ends with the heroes from a troubled backwater world convincing the lone superpower to stop destabilizing their world with ill-conceived interventions by hijacking a space ship, then flying it into the tallest building in the superpower’s economic capitol.

    Rob Thornton: Another odd pre-9/11 novel that will get hidden in an omnibus is Stephen King’s The Running Man (under the nym Richard Bachman). As you might remember, the book ends with the protagonist flying a passenger jet into a building owned by a TV network.

    Petréa Mitchell: I doubt that would keep it from being reprinted. Shortly after the attacks, people started pointing out that there are a lot of examples in sf that resemble them. For example: The Running Man (the novel), which ends with the protagonist hijacking a plane and crashing it into the skyscraper housing the HQ of the people running the game. Or the Doctor Who episode “Earthshock”, where the Cybermen hijack a spaceship and intend to crash it into a city to disrupt a peace conference.

    Somewhere around 1998 I read a Ridley Pearson suspense novel (I think it was Hard Fall), which involved someone going to flight school to learn how to take off and fly planes, because they were intending to fly it into a skyscraper.

    So when Condoleeza Rice said, “We had no idea that anyone had ever thought of doing this”, my response was sheer incredulity, and the conviction that we were being lied to. I absolutely do not believe that this was a scenario which had never been considered by the U.S. government, given that it had been done repeatedly in fiction.

  24. Currently next up on my to-read list: Chasing Embers, by James Bennett.

    And the first few pages are a guy, apparently Our Protagonist. being cynical and indifferent in a bar, where he is drinking, and another guy comes in, and apparently they are going to fight.

    It feels very dark, and as if the “fun,” such as there will be any, will be guys killing each other until they save the world, or don’t save it, or something.

    I’m feeling very, very negative about this book. Does anyone have any comments on it? Should I just bag it? Or put it aside till later? Or in another twenty pages, will the mood change?

    There are other things I could be reading….

  25. Protagonist’s age is used a lot as a guide nowadays, but I think it has its weaknesses. I was just reading Howl’s Moving Castle, which seems to me clearly a children’s book in style and themes, and is in fact sold as such – but the heroine is seventeen, which would make it YA.

    Huh. I read the first PB release of HMC when it came out. It was marketed like regular adult humorous fantasy, and it never occurred to me that it would be considered anything else. I don’t see anything particular childish in its styles or themes, though I think it’s reasonable to see it as YA.

    Perhaps the film is influencing how people are perceiving the book, even when they actually do read it?

  26. (1) FONT: I have another quibble with that video besides what Evanier pointed out. All the stuff about how the general standard style of uppercase lettering came about— the use of Ames guides, the typical ratio of line spacing to character height, etc.— is presented as if it was invented within the comic-book industry, worked out ad hoc by a bunch of comic-book letterers. I’m about 99% sure (minus 1% just because I can’t find a good link right now to prove it) that that was almost entirely borrowed from other commercial illustration fields, especially architectural and industrial design. The Ames guide is pretty much identical to one that was invented in the 1910s for lettering on architectural drawings. And the standardized shapes of capital letters in most 20th century comics similarly evolved prior to the existence of the comic-book industry— the letters are shaped the way they are not so much for aesthetic reasons, but because of how the tools work (for instance, you’re going to have problems if you try to draw an O in one smooth stroke with a pen nib, rather than drawing two half-circles), and those tools were already well understood.

    So basically, when the video shows you an example of Winsor McCay’s early 20th century lettering and how different it looks from later cartoonists, that doesn’t mean no one had figured out how to do it better yet; it just means McCay did not come from the kind of commercial art background where he would’ve had to do lots of small even lettering.

  27. Xtifr – Regarding Howl’s Moving Castle: Most people I know who work in kidlit identify it as youth literature. You are the first I’ve heard refer to it as adult fiction, so I was a bit surprised. Of course, many in the kidlit world would be familiar with DWJ’s other work and possibly interpret it through that lens. I’m also willing to bet that a fair number of them read it before the film existed.

    But, we all come to these things from different perspectives, which I find fascinating.

  28. Someone uptopic mentioned Tom Clancy’s occasional Ayn-Randiness (we’ll just take all the “Ayn Randiness” jokes as given, okay?), which reminded me of something I came across on Goodreads Giveaways pages.

    Zombie novels, especially the ones with a small group of he-man manly men (and the women who have sex with them) fighting the rampaging hordes from their heavily fortified redoubts, can be seen as having an implicit Randian subtext. The bunkers and fortresses are stand-ins for Galt’s Gulch, the he-man manly men are Galt and Roark figures, and the zombies are of course the parasites and “takers” Saint Ayn railed against. But as I said above, this is usually presented as implicit, rather than explicit.

    Until now. FOOL’S APOCALYPSE, by Anderson Atlas (well, there’s a dead giveaway), has the following giveaway description:

    Enter to win a signed copy of The Fools’ Apocalypse! This is a piece of fiction in the spirit of Ayn Rand’s, Atlas Shrugged.

    Fools’ Apocalypse is full of metaphor and philosophy cloaked in action, horror and mystery. This book shows readers, through story, the danger of socialist extremes and conspiracy. It’s also fun as all classic American journeys are.

    Manipulated to kill, sick with lies–the corpses moved against the Fools. It quickly became apparent that the undead were more than rotting bodies. They’re puppets for something dark and desperate and otherworldly. They were Zilla’s children.

    Zilla used extreme socialist ideology to motivate his holy army to destroy humanity. Pitting passion against reason was so effective. His soldiers had no idea what they were doing. How could they be so naive? They didn’t want the end to come, they didn’t want to have to fight their neighbors, themselves or the storm of guilt that pummeled them.

    Those that survive are spared the virus, but not death. In order to live they’ll fight, bleed, and steal. Slick with blood and ash, every step becomes harder than the last.

    Fear the undead that are not dead.

    Honestly, it’s hard to tell whether I should take the description all that seriously. Not just a Zombie Master, but a SOCIALIST Zombie Master? (Wait, wasn’t there a discussion on another thread about Puppies using “SJZ” as an acronym for “Social Justice Zombies”? Maybe they’ve read this book.) Gotta admit, I laughed out loud at “extreme socialist ideology” being the Magic Zombie Potion or whatever.

    For what it’s worth, the guy’s other books don’t seem particularly Randian, despite the pen-name.

    Once in a while, browsing the Goodreads Giveaways blurbs, I’ll come across one so over the top (as opposed to the usual dull or just poorly written) that I print it out and add it to a small collection of similar blurbs. Someday, I’ll take a shot at producing suitably histrionic dramatic readings. This is a definite contender.

  29. Regarding Tom Clancy, I’m still amazed that my Communist former teacher was a huge fan of The Hunt for Red October of all things to the point that he recommended it to his students. This man attacked his students for reading Stephen King and SFF, but Clancy was somehow okay. Just one more reason to resent that man.

    Andrew Fox does not seem that much interested in fiction about the September 11 attacks, but in islamophobic fiction. Which is not the same thing. Never mind that those “Europe as a caliphate” books are mindblowingly offensive, if you actually live in Europe, especially since it’s often obvious that the writers hate Europeans at least as much as they hate Muslims. I’m not surprised that no publisher wants to publish that sort of thing except Baen, which famously doesn not care about readers outside the US.

  30. @Lenore JonesBad depression and anxiety, expressing itself in being paralyzed about what book to read. Sounds stupid, right? But the description of Chasing Embers sounded promising, and now I started to read it, and I just felt such foreboding about it.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    But I think I need something good else, and I feel like I need someone to tell me that’s okay.

    Sometimes I’m just such a wreck of a person. 🙁

  31. @Lis Carey, it doesn’t sound stupid at all and I won’t be the only person to tell you to put that book down and pick up another one. Maybe you’ll get back to it and maybe you won’t, and the book won’t care either way (I used to feel like I was letting the book down if I decided not to finish it).

  32. I love UKL’s poem to her tuxie cat’s coloring! Even her tossed-off lesser works while resting are delightful.

    The pilot episode of “The Lone Gunmen” had bad guys taking control of a plane and flying it into the WTC. It was by remote control and our heroes’ mad hax0r skillz got it to swerve just in time. This was about 6 months before 9/11.

    I recently read a book called “Sedition” by Tom Abrahams where the Illuminati villains conspire to get a bomb vagb gur Pncvgby while the US is having an issue with the Presidential succession. There’s much plotting and conniving and occasional infodumps of Constitutional law, plus a lot of fairly interesting characters; the political parties of none are identified, which is a nice change. It is WAY more believable than the Clancy books @Joe H. mentioned.

    @Lis: life is too short to read boring depressing books.

  33. @Lis: “But I think I need something good else, and I feel like I need someone to tell me that’s okay.” is like the definition of okay, or even better. The world needs more people willing to say “wait a minute, I need to not provoke myself with that right now”. I approve of you. You are one of my People To Admire today.

    And I hope you find something that’s good to read that makes you feel good about reading it.

  34. @Lis Carey, I have no opinion on the book you started. But it’s ok if you’re not digging it and you totally have permission to stop. I used to feel like it was my failing if I wasn’t enjoying a book, and I was pretty invested in the sunk cost fallacy. But you’re allowed to not read a book for any reason whatsoever.

  35. @Bill: I really like the optimistic tone of Spider Robinson’s stuff, too. I could use more of that.

    I wonder if it was especially hard that in his last book before all those deaths, the character who was him had talked about the deaths of his wife and his father. And to write in a son and then lose his daughter, his only child, which is the worst thing I can imagine. That’d put me off writing for a while.

    @Bruce Arthurs: Speaking of optimism, is Anderson Atlas putting us on?

  36. Lis – I’m a big believer of needing to be in the right mood/state of mind for certain books. If you’re not feeling up to a book now, it’s not going anywhere. As long as you don’t have to read something by a specific date, it can wait. JJ’s suggestion of a comfort reread sounds like a lovely antidote to a text that instigates anxiety.

  37. @ Lis

    Perhaps think of reading choices as a type of “humoral theory”. What one consumes is not right or wrong it itself, but must be balanced against the current state so as to keep the self in harmony.

  38. JJ:

    Lis, have a read of this review of Chasing Embers, it will cheer you up.

    Oh, it did, it did! I enjoyed reading that a lot more than I would enjoy reading the book! I’m done with it!

    James, Cheryl, lurkertype, Bruce, Dawn, K8, Heather, thank you all!

  39. @Lis, I’m glad everyone jumped in to help. I love this place. And I agree with them.

    I can recommend the latest Harriet the Hamster Princess book by Our Wombat, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  40. @JJ

    Thanks for Carol’s review. Hers are always good but this one was fantastic.


    I’m glad you’ve gotten the support you need to DNF the book. I hope the next one is enjoyable.

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