(1) VALUE OF SPECIAL THEME ISSUES. Neil Clarke has written a blog post, “Specials”, to discuss what he learned from a discussion he launched yesterday on Twitter.
So yesterday I took to Twitter to get an answer to a question I had about the value of special theme issues as a tool in addressing representation. It was driven in part by an incomplete editorial sitting on my desktop for a couple of months now…..
Here’s where I made a few mistakes:
- Assuming that the primary goal for these projects was long-term (as in taking a long time) or that there ever was just one. In fact, it appears as though in many of these cases, a goal was to spotlight a specific community or provide a safe entry point, not necessarily to focus on altering the landscape for the field or attract a permanent change in the slush pile for the magazine. Yes, some of these already had existing policies in place to monitor and maintain that specific branch of diversity. They were a celebration rather than a corrective measure, but hasn’t been the norm across the years….
What I learned:
That there is a serious and demonstrable benefit to the theme projects, but not necessarily in direct service of the results I hoped for. I heard from a wide variety of people who had career-changing moments from their involvement in projects as ranging from anthologies, to Helix, to Escape Artists, and Lightspeed’s Destroy series. A common refrain was that it encouraged them to try, gave them a confidence boost when they needed it, made them feel like they belonged, and served as a stepping stone. That last one is a long-term thing. It might not be to the big scale of the long-term goal I was talking about, but it was certainly step in the right direction. There is something to be said to the qualitative safety element of these projects even if it doesn’t specifically raise to the level of changing the playing field on a bigger scale….
(2) VERBOSE VERISIMILITUDE. After these introductory paragraphs I found her stylistic demonstration to be deeply intriguing – Sarah A. Hoyt’s “The Quality of Description Should not be Strained” at Mad Genius Club. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The Quality of Description Should not be Strained, a Dialogue with Bill and Mike.
“Hey there buddy,” Mike said, as he came into the office, slamming the door behind him and making for the coffee maker like it was on fire and he had the only firehose on the planet. “Why so glum?”
Bill blinked from where he sat at his desk, looking across him at the red spires dotting the desert landscape outside the office window. “My writer’s group said I needed more description and sense of place,” he said. “But then when I put in description, they told me I had stopped the action and given them indigestible infodumps.”
(3) INTERNET ANTIQUITY. While rhapsodizing yesterday about the 10-year anniversary of bacon cat and the 18th anniversary of Whatever, John Scalzi said:
It’s an interesting time to be doing a blog, still, because I think it’s safe to declare the Age of Blogging well and truly over, inasmuch as personal blogging as been superseded in nearly every way by social media, including Twitter (my favorite), Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and so on and so forth. I’m not planning on mourning blogs in general — as a phenomenon they had their moment and it was a relatively good one — but it is interesting to watch the blog tide recede, with just a few die-hards left to do them old-school, like I do.
Reading that, I thought no wonder I’ve really been in the swing of blogging this past year. I’m one of the great late-adopters, and seem to have timed my entry into the field perfectly. Had I waited a few moments longer blogs would have been extinct…
(4) OF COURSE NOBODY’S HAPPY. Aaron has penned a long and thoughtful post about slates and this year’s Hugos in “Biased Opinion: 2016 Hugo Awards Post-Mortem” at Dreaming of Other Worlds. This includes a category-by-category breakdown of the results. Filers actually started discussing this yesterday. I want to point even more people at it by including the link in today’s Scroll.
But why have the Pups erupted in paroxysms of rage when their candidates generally did so well in the final Hugo voting? The first reason is that, despite their claims that they were merely nominating and supporting what they felt were the “best” works, it seems that what they really wanted was for their political allies and personal cronies to win. The Puppy picks that won in 2016 were Nnedi Okorafor, Hao Jingfang, Neil Gaiman, Andy Weir, Abigail Larson, Mike Glyer, none of whom are beholden to the Pups in any way. In fact, one of the things that seems to have enraged the Pups is that Gaiman was insufficiently grateful to them for their support, calling them out on their bad behavior over the last couple of years with his acceptance speech. If supporting quality works was the primary goal of the Pups, then Gaiman’s stance wouldn’t matter to them one way or the other – they would be extolling the victory of The Sandman: Overture as a triumph of what they regard as good work.
(5) NEW BUNDLE. Now’s the time to pick up the New StoryBundle: Extreme Sci-Fi:
For three weeks only, from September 14 through October 6, you can get five or ten DRM-free ebooks (your choice) ready for loading on any e-reading device you like. You decide what you want to pay. After that, this bundle will disappear forever.
The initial titles in the Extreme Sci-Fi Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
- The Me and Elsie Chronicles by M. L. Buchman
- Climbing Olympus by Kevin J. Anderson
- Orphan – Giant Robot Planetary Competition: Book 1 by J.R. Murdock
- Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring Do by J. Daniel Sawyer
- Star Fall by Dean Wesley Smith
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more:
- Away Games by Mike Resnick
- Extremes by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Hadrian’s Flight by J. Daniel Sawyer
- Risk Takers by Fiction River
- Fairchild by Blaze Ward
We’ve got a classics, best-sellers, and four brand new books written especially for this bundle celebrating the human spirit. Inside, you’ll find dark tales of murder and intrigue, high-comic farce, young adult adventure, awe and wonder, rapture and redemption.
(6) JACK VANCE. Paul Weimer analyzes one of Jack Vance’s richly inventive fictional worlds in “Robinson Crusoe of Tschai: Jack Vance’s Planet of Adventure Tetralogy”, posted at Tor.com.
Strange customs and societies, a hallmark of Vance’s fiction, populate (and almost overcrowd) the world. What is near-mandatory in one region of Tschai will get you killed in another. Anyone who despairs of planets in SF which feature all the same terrain and the same people have never visited Tschai. This variety and diversity is such that most people who encounter Reith and hear his story just think he’s from some corner of Tschai that they are unaware of, and probably crazy to boot.
(7) PASSENGER. NPR reports what it’s like to ride along in a self-driving Uber car.
Fourteen self-driving Ford Fusions idle in front of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.
On each vehicle, dozens of stationary and spinning cameras collect 1.4 million distance measurements per second, guiding the car on its journey.
Beginning Wednesday, the cars will be deployed on Pittsburgh’s streets in a striking experiment by Uber to introduce self-driving technology to its passengers.
“For me this is really important,” says Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s self-driving car team, “because I really believe that the most important things that computers are going to do in the next 10 years is drive cars.”
(8) LICENSE TO WRITE. Larry Correia says don’t be bullied: “Writers should be Cultural Appropriating all the Awesome Stuff”.
I’ve talked about Cultural Appropriation before, and why it is one of the most appallingly stupid ideas every foisted on the gullible in general, and even worse when used as a bludgeon against fiction authors.
First off, what is “Cultural Appropriation”? From the linked talk:
The author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record is white, defines cultural appropriation as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”
The part that got left out of that definition is that engaging in Cultural Appropriation is a grievous mortal sin that self-righteous busy bodies can then use to shame anyone they don’t like.
Look at that definition. Basically anything you use that comes from another culture is stealing. That is so patently absurd right out the gate that it is laughable. Anybody who has two working brain cells to rub together, who hasn’t been fully indoctrinated in the cult of social justice immediately realizes that sounds like utter bullshit.
If you know anything about the history of the world, you would know that it has been one long session of borrowing and stealing ideas from other people, going back to the dawn of civilization. Man, that cuneiform thing is pretty sweet. I’m going to steal writing. NOT OKAY! CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!
Everything was invented by somebody, and if it was awesome, it got used by somebody else. At some point in time thousands of years ago some sharp dude got sick of girding up his loins and invented pants. We’re all stealing from that guy. Damn you racists and your slacks.
In his customary swashbuckling style, he treats anyone’s concern about this issue as an absurd failure to comprehend how culture and the sharing of ideas works. That tone naturally makes people want to fire back on the same terms – whereas I wonder what everyone might say if he had expressed the same views in a persuasive structured argument.
One of Correia’s commenters implied that would look like Moshe Feder’s recent comment on Facebook.
MOSHE FEDER: I’ve always found “cultural appropriation” a weird concept. To me, it’s usually a progressive step toward a future in which humanity realizes that from a galactic point of view, we all share ONE culture — albeit a complex and varied one — the planetary culture developed by homo sapiens over tens of thousands of years. It was by this very so-called “appropriation” that fire, animal husbandry, agriculture, the wheel, and other crucial advances were spread to the benefit of all. Of course, there _are_ cases where CA is rude or inappropriate, as when you use it to mock or misrepresent other groups, and people of good will try to avoid those. But even those uses are protected by our free speech rights. (As are the protestations of those who resent such uses.) But all too often, complaints about cultural appropriation are another example of political correctness carried to the point of absurdity, the point at which it gives unscrupulous demagogues like Trump something they can look sensible for complaining about.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born September 14, 1914 — Clayton Moore, TV’s The Lone Ranger.
- Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig (age 80). He was 31 when he started Star Trek.
(10) SQUARE DEAL FOR NUMBER ONE FAN. Although the neighbors didn’t succeed in having Forry Ackerman’s last home designated a cultural landmark, the city may agree to name a Los Feliz neighborhood intersection in his honor. The Los Feliz Ledger has the story:
“Sci-Fi” Square: Beloved Local, Ackerman, Up for Honor.
The intersection of Franklin and Vermont avenues may soon be known as “Forrest J Ackerman Square,” thanks to an August motion by Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu (CD 4).
The square would honor Ackerman, a lifetime Angeleno best known for coining the term “sci-fi.”….
The notion of honoring Ackerman with a city square was first brought up at a March meeting of the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission, where a group called “Concerned Citizens of Los Feliz” tried and failed to gain historic status for a bungalow on Russell Avenue, which Ackerman called home for the final six years of his life.
Ackerman referred to the bungalow as his “Acker-Mini-Mansion,” in reference to the “Ackermansion,” his former home on Glendower Avenue in the Hollywood Hills.
(11) GEAR. Vox Day is thinking of doing some Dread Ilk merchandise. Here are the initial ideas.
I’m interested in knowing which designs are of most interest to the Ilk. So, here are a few random ideas; let me know which would be of the most interest to you, assuming that the designs are well-executed. Or if you have any other ideas, feel free to throw them out.
- Evil Legion of Evil (member’s edition)
- Evil Legion of Evil (Red Meat cartoon)
- Vile Faceless Minion
- Dread Ilk
- Rabid Puppies 2015
- Rabid Puppies 2016
- Vox Day Che
- Just Say N20 (Psykosonik lyrics on back)
- Spacebunny (cartoon logo)
- Supreme Dark Lord (Altar of Hate mask logo)
- SJWAL cover
- Cuckservative cover with 1790 law quote
- That Red Dot On Your Chest Means My Daddy Is Watching
- Castalia House logo “Restoring Science Fiction Since 2014”
- There Will Be War
- The Missionaries
(12) GAME SHOW. Steven H Silver is back with another stfnal Jeopardy! question:
A daily double in Awards. She bet $2400 and got it right on a total guess.
I’m sure all you Filers would have cashed that in.
(13) THE HONOR OF THE THING. John Scalzi confessed on Twitter:
Someone on Facebook is asking pals if she should name a new gecko after me or Douglas Adams and I've never felt more competitive in my life.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 14, 2016
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]