Pixel Scroll 9/16/17 We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun, ‘Til Her Daddy Scrolls The Pixel Away.

(1) PROOF AND REPROOF. David Brin, after congratulating N.K. Jemisin for her latest Hugo win, asks readers to predict what’s coming next in the sff genre, in “Perspectives from Science Fiction: Hugos and other marvels”.

Oh and also, let’s celebrate that science fiction has always – and yes always, ever since it was founded by our revered grandmother of SF, Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley) – been the genre of literature most welcoming to bold ideas about human and non-human diversity, and brashly exploratory authors. Yes, SF was always “better than its times” when it came to such things, though every decade deserved the reproof of later decades, for its own myopic misdeeds. Leaving our self-critical movement always looking for the next cause for self-improvement!

So what are we doing now, that will cause later generations of brave questioners and boundary-pushers to reprove? What terrible habit will reformers tell us to break next, when we get the upper hand on racism, sexism and cultural conformity? I think I know what it will be! (Hint: what is the most harmful and nasty thing that even good people now routinely do to each other, with barely a thought to fairness or consequences? And I include people as good as you envision yourself to be. Discuss in comments, below.)

(2) THE SHAPE OF YEARS TO COME. And at Examined Worlds, Ethan Mills wants to know “Where did all the far-future science fiction go?”

This is a question I’ve thought about a lot lately.  I recently re-read the last book in the Dune series and am working my way through the delightfully/impossibly difficult Book of the New Sun, which my Goodreads review describes as “like taking an acid trip through a thesaurus.”

These days far-future stuff is harder to find.  There’s even a popular genre of science fiction that takes place in the past: steampunk.  Contemporary readers will call a book “far future” if it takes place a mere few hundred years or even sooner. See this list of allegedly “far future” science fiction that puts Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 on the list, and even more weirdly, Charles Stross’s Accelerando.  One of the main complaints about Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves was that people didn’t care for the the part that takes place in thousands of years (which for the record was my favorite part — see my review for more).

(3) THE RONDO OF A LIFETIME. Steven J. Vertlieb recently found buried digital treasure:

Discovered these wonderful photographs for the first time recently on my brother’s cell phone while vacationing in Los Angeles just a couple of weeks ago. This marvelous shot was taken in Louisville, Kentucky during the prestigious annual Rondo Award ceremony in early June, 2016, after which actor, director, artist, writer, and old pal Mark Redfield and I were awarded these coveted Rondo “Hall of Fame” plaques in joyous recognition of a lifetime of creative productivity, and dedication to the arts.

(4) PUPPIES AND RACE.  In “Words Matter, Actions Matter and Race Definitely Matters” at Amazing Stories, Chris M. Barkley rebuts author Christopher Nuttall’s editorial, “A Character Who Happens To Be Black”.

When a writer, of any ethnicity, admits using characters of different ethnicities without even the slightest hint of any sort of context for doing so, it is the worst sort of cultural appropriation and is an insult to his readers as well. Using the “I don’t see color” explanation to pander his own world view about race may be satisfying to his bubble of readers ordering online, but I am quite willing to bet it would not pass muster at most publishing houses or with discerning and critical readers as well.

By erasing ethnicity, class or race as a factor in his characters, Mr. Nuttal is stating those centuries of history and culture, on which his future or fantasy worlds are built upon, don’t matter or worse, never happened. By homogenizing his black characters with his white male viewpoint, he is giving them the “gift” of being white and being as good as anyone else and calling for their heritage and culture is a bad thing and should essentially be swept under the rug. His attempt to do so does not make them equal, it diminishes them. It’s disingenuous at the very least and a patronizing example of white privilege at worse.

No person who is consciously aware of their ethnicity, culture and history would tolerate such a cleansing. By taking away their joy, you also take away their sorrow and their history. We are all human and that is the factor that should unites us, not divide us. By erasing our differences to make everyone the same, no one is special or an individual.

(5) APOLOGIZING. At Fast Company, Mike Su proffers “7 Lessons White People Can Learn From Bodega’s Apology”.

… Setting aside the idea of rebranding a mini-bar and putting it in apartment buildings and street corners and calling it disruption, there are some important lessons that can be learned from their poor apology that can be particularly important for well-meaning white people to understand when they unintentionally offend. Here are my key takeaways:

1. “I Didn’t Mean To” Doesn’t Matter

“Despite our best intentions and our admiration for traditional bodegas…”

Most of the post was focused on helping people understand what they were really trying to do. Why they weren’t super evil, and all the steps that they took, and basically, “I know we seemed like assholes, but we’re not! Or, at least, we didn’t mean to be!”

But here’s the thing?—?just cause you didn’t mean to hurt someone doesn’t mean you didn’t actually hurt them.

But if you spend all your time explaining what you meant to do?—?you’re spending all your effort on trying to make yourself look less bad, and make yourself feel less bad. That may do it for you, but then your apology is not about actually making the person you offended feel any better. Which leads me to…

(6) IN THE NEWS. Brookline, MA Town Meeting member (and noted sf writer) Michael A. Burstein isn’t kidding: “Town Leaders Seek to Make ‘Selectwoman’ the Official Title”.

“There’s been some recent interest in Massachusetts to change the name of board of selectmen to something that would be a bit more gender-neutral,” said Michael Burstein, a town meeting member.

Two warrants have been submitted to the Board of Selectmen and take aim at changing the governing body’s title and title of its members.

“One of them is kind of a straight forward and just wants to create gender-neutral language,” said Hamilton.

The other warrant filed by Burstein is very specific.

“I deliberately and specifically filed a warrant to change the name of Board of Selectmen to Board of Selectwomen,” he said.

The Boston NBC affiliate interviewed him for its September 14 news broadcast.

(7) ROMM OBIT. SF Site News reports the death of Minneapolis fan Baron Dave Romm.

Fan Dave E Romm (b.1955) died on September 14. Dave was active in Minneapolis fandom and was an avid photographer, taking pictures of various Minicons and other conventions he was able to get to. He traveled to Antarctic in 2005 and wrote about his experience in Argentus. He also hosted Shockwave Radio Theatre on KFAI-AM and archived the podcasts on his website. Romm became a baron of the micro-country of Ladonia in 2001.

(8) GOGOS OBIT. Bloody Disgusting bids farewell to “Legendary Monster Artist Basil Gogos” (1939-2017)  who died September 14.

Some of the most iconic pieces of classic monster art were found on the front covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine throughout the ’60s and ’70s, that art no doubt responsible for countless monster kids being bitten by the proverbial bug. Vibrant and eye-catching, the magazine’s cover art made horror stylish, beautiful and cool.

Those paintings were the work of illustrator Basil Gogos, who we’re sad to report is the latest in a long line of true horror legends who have recently left us….

Gogos also provided cover art for several other Warren magazines including Creepy, Eerie, Spaceman, Wildest Westerns and The Spirit.

(9) HANGDOG CHARACTER ACTOR. Harry Dean Stanton (1926-2017) died September 15 says The Hollywood Reporter.

Stanton, who also was memorable in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981) and John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink (1986) — in fact, what wasn’t he memorable in? — died Friday afternoon of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his agent, John Kelly, told The Hollywood Reporter.

(10) TODAY’S DAY

Play-Doh Day

Play-Doh Day is an opportunity for everyone, whether a child or simply young at heart, to celebrate this iconic modeling clay. Play-Doh was originally developed in the 1930’s, not as a toy but as a product for cleaning wallpaper! It was not until the 1950’s that it was marketed as a toy, in the trademark vibrant colors of red, blue, yellow and white.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 16, 1926 — Many people reported seeing lake monster Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.
  • September 16, 1963 The Outer Limits premiered on television.
  • September 16, 1977 — Returned television audiences to the world of Logan’s Run.
  • September 16, 1983 – The aptly-titled Strange Invaders was first screened.

(12) TODAY’S FORBIDDEN PLANET BIRTHDAYS

  • Born September 16, 1927 — Jack Kelly
  • Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 16, 1917 – Art Widner

(14) JAY KAY KLEIN PHOTOS. Crowdsourced identification of Jay Kay Klein’s digitized fanhistorical photos is proceeding apace.

J.J. Jacobson, the Jay Kay and Doris Klein Science Fiction Librarian at the UC Riverside Library, says —

The first re-index of the Klein photos on Calisphere has loaded. We’ve harvested amazing amounts of amazing information, thanks to the generosity of the fan community.

She has been keeping an eye on the info form and as of September 11 there had been 448 entries, many of them containing multiple identifications.

(15) QUARRELING CURATORS. New Statesman says “Two museums are having a fight on Twitter and it’s gloriously informative”. They’ve collected the tweets.

2017 is undoubtedly the year of the feud. As celebrities and corporations alike take to Twitter to hash things out, two of the UK’s most respected scientific institutions, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum have got in on the action.

It all started with this rather innocous tweet, during The Natural History Museum’s Ask a Curator event on Twitter, where users could tweet in questions to The Natural History Museum’s twitter account. The resulting back and forth is both amusing and educational….

(16) THE TRUE MEASURE OF A MAN’S INTELLIGENCE… JC Carlton’s goodbye to Jerry Pournelle at The Arts Mechanical begins with a memory of the author’s opposition to the lowered expectations policy of the Seventies. That was one of the first things that came to my own mind when I heard he had died. And while Carlton was looking at another collection of his science essays, I was taking down That Crazy Buck Rogers Stuff from my own shelf.

At a time when technical optimists were as scarce as hen’s teeth, at least in the public eye, Jerry was unabashedly that technical optimist.  I did a post about  A Step Farther Out when I started this blog and how relevant it still remains today.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/stepping-farther-out/

At a time when the language of the day all across the media was how we were all DOOMED, DOOMED by the monsters of our own creation and that there was nothing that could be done to save us.  Even the best stuff in media, like the classic series Connections was mildly pessimistic. Contrast that with any column in A Step Farther Out. 

… He thought though that, that people wouldn’t just collapse into a series of unending ghettos and endless tyranny.  he thought that people would use the skill and minds, the technologies that humans had created to overcome the problems we had.  He never accepted that we would just surrender and mostly die. he was also optimistic that with a little more oomph people would reach for the stars and create wealth for all.

(17) THE BREWS THAT MADE SPEC FIC FAMOUS. Charles Payseur is back with another installment of his review column where he pairs short stories with the appropriate beer: “THE MONTHLY ROUND – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 08/2017”.

Welcome! Pull up a stool—let me tell you what’s on tap today. August represents the height of summer for some, and for others the first step toward Autumn. For my SFF reading, the month seems full of heat, decay, distance, and ghosts. Which makes a certain amount of sense, what with 2017 on its downward slope, having cleared the peak of June and July and entered into the fast descent toward the end of the year. And what a year…

The flavors are mostly heavy, alluding to the coming harvest with the sweet tones of apple and barley. Looming behind that, though, is the specter of winter, and scarcity, and cold. The bite of IPA stands as a resistance to going gentle in that good night, a fire to guide lonely travelers through the chilling dark. The stories are pulled from across SFF, with a lean toward fantasy, from contemporary to historical to second world, but there’s a hint of science fiction as well, a glimpse of the void and a voice calling out into the distance of space….

Tasting Flight – August 2017

“Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live” by Sacha Lamb (Book Smugglers)

Notes: Singing with notes of sweet romance complicated by the spices of trust, betrayal, and perception, its cloudy pour slowly resolves into a golden hue that shines with warmth.

Pairs with: Chai Spiced Ale…

 

(18) FAVORITE SON. Are you ready? In “Holy Adam West Day, Walla Walla!” the Union-Tribune tells everyone what’s laid on for the celebration happening Tuesday, September 19.

From before noon and into the evening, businesses around town will display Bat signal stickers and posters of West and offer special promotions. The city will also install a new sign commemorating West near his childhood home at the intersection of Clinton Street and Alvarado Terrace.

Other memorials to West can be found at the post office at 128 N. 2nd Ave and at the Marcus Whitman, both based around photos from the collection of Joe Drazan.

West will also be the focus of a series of events throughout the day. Here’s the itinerary, as listed by Grant:

11 a.m. — Opening ceremonies at the corner of First Avenue and Main Street. Mayor Alan Pomraning will present a key to the city to members of West’s family, and attendees will have the opportunity to meet Batman and pose for photos with an exact replica of the Batmobile that West drove as the Caped Crusader….

(19) ESTATE SALE. The LA Times reports “Debbie Reynolds’ family ranch and dance studio to hit the auction block in October”.

The ranch-estate in Creston, Calif., had been offered for sale before Reynolds’ death last year for $4.8 million but was taken off the market in June. The studio on Lankershim Boulevard is for sale, with an asking price of $6.15 million.

Both will hit the auction block Oct. 7-8 in Los Angeles as part of the Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds personal property collection, according to auction house Profiles in History.

Owned by Reynolds for more than two decades, the 44-acre ranch comprises a main house, a guesthouse, a caretaker’s cottage, an art studio and a barn. A 10,000-square-foot support building with metal and stage workshops and a 6,000-square-foot film and television production studio are among other structures on the estate.

(20) HOBBITS INHALE. Matt Wallace’s tweetstorm shows that where there’s smoke….there’s even more smoke.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, JJ Jacobson, and Steve Vertlieb for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

118 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/16/17 We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun, ‘Til Her Daddy Scrolls The Pixel Away.

  1. 15) That was hilarious. It’s fun to live in a world where Museums talk smack, and a dinosaur has a twitter feed.

  2. Here’s a random research question for the hive. Does anyone have access to a copy of Thomas Disch’s The M.D. that is not the University of Minnesota Press edition and not the mass-market paperback with the red cover? I’m trying to determine whether a particular phrase in chapter 60 was originally written as “dangers from father, brother, and son” (which is what appears in those two editions) or “dangers from father, brother, or son” (which seems a little more likely for reasons you’ll understand if you’ve read it). I’ve been annotating the book here, along with The Businessman (though I think I’ll get back to filling in the John Sladek part of the site before I do the rest of Disch’s Minnesota novels).

  3. 18) Hmm. So the 19th will be both Adam West Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day? That could lead to some interesting mashups.

  4. (4) PUPPIES AND RACE.

    Barkley has some good things to say there, but it’s a pity that he buys into and repeats the canard that someone married to a black person can’t be a racist, despite the racist things they and the rest of their group have said.

    I am pretty unimpressed that he gives the Sad Puppies a pass for all of the racist, sexist, and homophobic things they’ve said and supported. 😐

  5. I don’t know about #4. I’d like to think that there may be some time in the future when ancestory isn’t a big deal to anyone. Humans being human, I suspect we’ll move along to something else that divides us into real and not-real people, but in another five hundred years, if we still care about skin color, I’m going to be sad that we haven’t overcome, that King’s dream never was realized.
    In fantasy, who knows if the center of industry or magic might not be somewhere where the locals get a macking dose of UV and are considerably browner than the ill-educated rabble from the sunless climes, who only come here to take decent people’s jobs, you know?
    I think prejudice may always be with us, but the Captain of a starship might not be informed by the same life experiences as an IT worker who scrabbled up from an inter-city school. That Captain might laugh herself silly, two hundred years from now, over the thought that someone would look down on her for having epicanthic eye folds.

  6. 4) @JJ: On the other hand, I’d bet money the average white person married to a black person is considerably less racist and less bigoted than the average white person overall.

  7. (4) I don’t know if Sam McDonald is white, but I would be willing to bet real money that he is. Especially when he spouts tone-deaf stuff like this (from the comments to the article):

    That’s why I’m a big supporter of increasing diversity of thought. What’s the point of having people who look different if they all think the same? To me view point diversity is far more important The the superficial diversity of skin tone or gender.

    Only a white guy, working from John Scalzi’s lowest difficulty setting, would so cavalierly dismiss “diversity of skin tone or gender.”

  8. John A Arkansawyer: On the other hand, I’d bet money the average white person married to a black person is considerably less racist and less bigoted than the average white person overall.

    But that’s not the point of his comments about the Sad Puppies, is it?

  9. @John J Arkansawyer

    That may be true, but I’ve seen plenty of examples where being married to a person of color gives the spouse an even bigger blind spot, similar to “But I’ve got a black friend!”

  10. C.A. Collins on September 16, 2017 at 7:02 pm said:
    Ancestry and skin color aren’t the same thing – family history is what most people are interested in, and that can be far more complex and more interesting than it appears on the surface.

  11. Bonnie McDaniel: I don’t know if Sam McDonald is white, but I would be willing to bet real money that he is. Especially when he spouts tone-deaf stuff like this

    If you read the comments on Nuttall’s original Puppy apologism piece, it’s clear that McDonald, like Torgersen, is a Puppy who is pissed off about the works written by women and minorities which have been getting the Hugo nominations that he feels rightfully belonged to the Nutty Nuggets works.

  12. I might be about to DNF one of those “Which Classic Sci-Fi Character Are You?” quizzes. I was willing to squint and pick the Wii as the game controller I own, since the kid and the kid’s mom are owners, and we lived together when they were bought. But I don’t know that I can answer “Which of these movies are you most excited about seeing?”:

    Battlefield Earth
    Fantastic Four
    Sharknado
    Green Lantern

    Fantastic Four was a pretty mess–I mean, it looked awesome–and the other three I’ve heard nothing but bad about, ever.

    @JJ: “But that’s not the point of his comments about the Sad Puppies, is it?”

    No. I’m suggesting a weaker form of it which I would be more willing to stand by than the original. Limit it to bigotry, and I’d strengthen it a lot.

  13. On the other hand, I’d bet money the average white person married to a black person is considerably less racist and less bigoted than the average white person overall.

    I wouldn’t. Several of the most racist people I’ve ever come across have been perfectly happy to be in interracial relationships. I’ve talked with multiple black women who have horror stories of finding out just how terribly racist the guy they were dating actually is.

    Just as an example of a type of racist who would be in an interracial relationship, think of men who fetishize Asian women. They would be overjoyed to be in a relationship with an Asian woman, and yet their attitudes (and usually, behaviour) are horribly racist. There are a lot of white people who similarly fetishize black men and women, and would be happy being in a relationship with a black person, but are still terribly racist.

    Saying “I bet that someone in a relationship with a black person is likely to be a lot less racist than an average white person” is more or less akin to saying “I bet a man in a relationship with a woman is far less likely to be misogynistic than the average man”. The conclusion simply doesn’t follow from the premise.

  14. (4) Stripping out all the usual Puppisms and silliness from the editorial that Chris M. Barkley is responding to, what the frickin’ heck is up with this quote (from Nuttal’s nutty nugget)?

    The way he was treated does not justify his actions. (The same could be said of Professor Snape.)

    He still hasn’t finished the series?

  15. kathodus:

    “The way he was treated” = “women were not willing to go out with him, be around him, or have sex with him; therefore, he was treated horribly”

    Ugh. So Nuttall has male entitlement attitudes as well. 🙁

  16. @JJ – I recall that Snape was also bullied pretty nastily by Harry Potter’s father. I was taking his statement to mean that Fancr’f orgenlny bs Ubtjneg’f naq uvf nyvtazrag jvgu Ibyqrzbeg jrer abg whfgvsvrq ol gung ohyylvat, jura va ergebfcrpg, vg’f boivbhf gung Fancr jnf jbexvat ntnvafg Ibyqrzbeg gur jubyr gvzr, naq jnf vagrteny va xrrcvat gur fghqragf fnsr(vfu). Not sure one needs to ROT13 Harry Potter spoilers at this point, but I figured it’s better to be safe than flamed by people who haven’t gotten around to finishing it yet.

  17. kathodus, agreed. But I am mystified, even horrified, at Nuttall’s equating women not willing to go out with, be around, or have sex with, a male character as “bullying”. 😐

    There’s a character in one of the Draka books – I’ve forgotten his name. A brilliant nerd: spotty, overweight, hellishly unattractive to women and yet desperate for sex and companionship. And the Draka convince him to defect by offering him the sex and companionship he so desperately craves. It’s an understandable desire, isn’t it? How can anyone blame him for jumping at the call? And yet, he’s a traitor who went to work for a monstrous society that will enslave the entire world. How can he be considered a good guy? The way he was treated does not justify his actions. [emphasis mine]

  18. 18) Plans are in place, and I’ll be headed to Walla Walla that day (I grew up in this state and have lived here my entire 40+ years and have never actually been to Walla Walla!) and will bring back lots of photos, I hope. My traveling companion for the day has stated a willingness to go to all the events, and I’m stocking up on some Dr. Pepper so I can last the full stretch. I shall turn the photos over to Mike as soon as I’m able, along with a write-up.

  19. Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag: I’m sure you’ll have fun, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

  20. @ Eli on Disch: I believe Gregory Feeley, who is Disch’s literary executor, might have an answer. He’s on Facebook.

    2) Since Ethan Mills mentions the last 20 years as the period in which “relatively few [stories] take place more than a couple hundred years in the future,” I backtracked through my reading and noted the following (which actually go back a bit more than 20 years):

    Neal Asher’s Polity series; early Stross; chunks of Greg Egan (Diaspora, Schild’s Ladder, Incandescence); most of Robert Reed (especially the Great Ship stories); Paul J. McAuley’s Confluence trilogy; Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis sequence; Karl Schroeder’s Virga and Ventus/Lady of Mazes; Alastair Reynolds’ House of Suns and Thousandth Night/Minla’s Flowers. . . . Susan R. Matthews’ Jurisdiction series and Cherryh’s Foreigner cycle, like Leckie’s Radch future, are an indeterminate but great distance up the line.

    Near/middle-distance futures haven’t completely eclipsed the long-view/deep-history variety of SF. (Or maybe my reading just reflects my taste for that kind of vista. I am unlikely to be perfectly representative of the general readership.)

  21. @Aaron:

    Saying “I bet that someone in a relationship with a black person is likely to be a lot less racist than an average white person” is more or less akin to saying “I bet a man in a relationship with a woman is far less likely to be misogynistic than the average man”.

    First, note that my original claim matched Barkley’s in being about people in a marital relationship, not people in any relationship. Do you believe people in marriages don’t know each other better than people in relationships generally? That you know someone no better after six years of relationship than six weeks?

    Second, since opposite-sex, same-race relationships are the default in this society, your two cases are far less akin than you imply. Being in an opposite-sex relationship is conforming to a societal norm in a misogynistic society; being in a non-same-race relationship is breaking a societal norm in a racist society.

    I’m not saying you can’t be a white person married to a black person and also be racist. I’m sure some are outright bigots. But if my life depended on picking the less racist of two random married white Americans, and all I knew about them was one was married to a black person, I’d pick that one, nervously and without any hesitation whatsoever.

  22. Eli on September 16, 2017 at 6:36 pm asked about particular editions of Disch’s The M.D. In the 1991 British HarperCollins hardback it’s “dangers from father, brother, and son” exactly as quoted.

  23. @JJ: I skimmed Nutall’s column–I think he’s well-meaning but mostly wrong–and only found one reference to bullying (okay, for that I used search), which was not in reference to the unattractive nerd. So I’m going to push back on your claim about “the way he was treated” by recasting it in active voice as “the way X treated him”.

    As people continually and rightfully point out, no particular person owes you sex*. So if the value of X above is “women” and treated means “didn’t have sex with”, I’m in total agreement with you. But if the value of X is “society” and treated means “body-shamed”, well, not so much.

    I don’t know which Nutall meant. My guess is he was thinking about women, because that’s more consistent with the rest of his argument. But as written, it’s indeterminate. It’s certainly an argument against the passive voice. And in my experience, a fat nerd who can’t get laid is probably not all that brilliant. I suppose there are exceptions.

    *This argument gets complicated if you believe, as I do, that sex work is legitimate work and should be legal and at least lightly regulated. If you also believe, as I do, in a society that guarantees people’s minimal needs, there’s a case for government sex workers to have sex with people who can’t find it any other way.** Which would be a good story. Alternatively, if it’s a strictly commercial business, then while individual sex workers should (in my opinion) be able to turn down clients, any organized sex business should be obligated to find someone for anyone. You have the right to get your wedding cake made at a bakery, but you don’t get to pick which employee makes it for you.

    **But I think it’d be better to pay for a social worker/matchmaker/wingman, and maybe sexual surrogacy for a limited period of time in some cases.

  24. (2) I’m not sure that far-future stuff is harder to find nowadays, but perhaps they do carry a less dominant position in sf than it used to do. But it’s still written, and still common, and appreciated. I mean, both Ninefox Gambit and The Fifth Season were Hugo nominees this year.

    In a way, I can’t shake the feeling that Mills has an additional assumption or criteria for what he considers far-future sf that he fails to tell us.

    To add to Russell’s list, Stross has continued with the far-future stuff with the Saturn’s Children universe. Bujold’s Vorkosigan books are also far-future. Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman. The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.

    Hmm… looking at my list, is it so that it’s women who primarily write far-future stuff right now?

  25. Karl-Johan Norén on September 17, 2017 at 2:07 am said:

    (2) I’m not sure that far-future stuff is harder to find nowadays, but perhaps they do carry a less dominant position in sf than it used to do. But it’s still written, and still common, and appreciated. I mean, both Ninefox Gambit and The Fifth Season were Hugo nominees this year.

    And a section of Death’s End was far future as well.

  26. But if my life depended on picking the less racist of two random married white Americans, and all I knew about them was one was married to a black person, I’d pick that one, nervously and without any hesitation whatsoever.

    I’m still not liking your chances, because you are using a selection criteria that is orthogonal to your hoped for outcome.

  27. @Aaron: “you are using a selection criteria that is orthogonal to your hoped for outcome”

    Possibly so. I haven’t found an experimental study that measures this question. It could be that choosing to violate one of America’s most long-running racial taboos–a white person marrying a black person, rather than using them for sex without commitment–has absolutely no correlation with that person’s levels of bigotry or racism. Maybe.

    But i do have one very slight indication that I’m right. If you go to the Wikipedia page for sexual racism and glance through the references, you’ll see lots of articles on dating. (Mostly about excluding people by race and a few on fetishization.) There are exactly two which might touch on marriage.

    This one is based on twenty-one interviews. The abstract:

    Interracial marriages between blacks and majority group members often face higher social sanctions than other types of interracial marriages. Therefore, majority group members in interracial marriages with a black partner may learn to conceptualize racial issues differently than those without black partners. This paper conducts a preliminary investigation into whether the racial perspectives of white spouses in interracial marriages with blacks are different from the perspectives of whites in interracial marriages with non-blacks. White partners of twenty-one interracial marriages are interviewed. While whites married to non-blacks alter their racial perspectives, they do not experience racism as do whites married to blacks. These experiences of racism may change white perspectives on specific racial issues such as affirmative action and racial profiling. This research suggests the experiences of whites in interracial marriages vary depending on the race of their marital partners.

    I’m not going to put a lot of weight on that, because twenty-one is a pretty small sample size, but it does tend to support me.

    The other one’s Wikipedia page suggests the book does not address this question.

    Now, that’s Wikipedia, so again, not much weight on it. But I’d expect a study supporting your opinion to be in there. Instead, it’s almost all about racism in dating or casual sex.

    So right there is one causal mechanism that makes it happen: Racially selective dating practices sieve out bigots from interracial marriage.

    You could still be right, but it’d take data to convince me of it.

  28. This is the point at which I bailed on Christopher Nuttall’s essay:

    Nor is it possible to avoid the fact that the word “racist” has been redefined and abused so often that it is now effectively meaningless.

    Amazing Stories can do a lot better than running an essay that asserts complete nonsense.

  29. To JJ:
    To set the record straight, I wrote “probably” in regards to Brad Torersen’s relationship with his wife. And on second thought, I probably should not have speculated on their marriage, period. And neither should YOU.

    And I am so sorry I have you the impression that I was giving the Puppies “a pass” on their transgressions because I have vocally demomstrated my opposition to EVERYTHING they have done since they appeared on the scene. ANYONE who says otherwise can meet me at any con for heated discussion…

    Chris B.

  30. I haven’t found an experimental study that measures this question. It could be that choosing to violate one of America’s most long-running racial taboos

    The taboo is exactly what many racists find so enticing.

  31. (2) I have a chart showing the distribution in time of hard SF stories.

    I called anything less than 100 years in the future “near-future SF,” and that accounts for 40% of the total. A further 5% is set in the present. Then 14% are at least 100 but less than 500 years out, and 18% are more than 500 but still connected to our world’s history somehow.

    I only label things “far future” if they are so far out that no one remembers Earth and/or humanity has started to break up into subspecies. (I’d probably use 10,000 years if these things came with actual dates, but far-future stories virtually never do.)

    Anyway, I can’t say how common they used to be, but stories set more than 100 years in the future are plentiful, and ones more than 500 years are very common too.

  32. @Aaron: “The taboo is exactly what many racists find so enticing.”

    True. And yet most of those studies in the references were about people who racially excluded people in their dating profiles.

    If someone knows of some on-point research, I’d love to hear about it.

  33. On the racists-in-mixed-marriages angle, I think it’s important to recognize that modern racism is quite different from the kind I grew up with. (Chattanooga, Tennessee 1960s). Those racists thought that blacks were uniformly inferior to whites, but today’s racists accept the idea that some blacks are superior to some whites–they just think blacks are inferior on average. Thus it’s no contradiction for a modern racist to be married to a black person, even though it would have been for an old-style racist to be.

    Another big change is that although the modern racists still wouldn’t give a black person a chance, they’ll only mildly object if you do so. (Witness the whining about N.K. Jemisin winning awards.) The old-style racists would kill you for it.

  34. @Contrarius – Oh man. I haven’t read Lucifer’s Hammer (a friend warned me off of it due to its dumb politics way back, and I never ended up reading it), but I’ve read Pournelle here and there over the years, and Niven as well. The books referenced in that article sound downright Randian, quality-wise. I have a much better understanding of the genesis of the Castalia House/Pournelle connection now.

  35. Oh, also, yeah, I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring up Torgersen’s marriage, either, even though he’s brought it up in the past.

    And I think @Greghullender has a point – when discussing racism in the past (even during my childhood in the 70s/80s) people were discussing Racists – the people who burned crosses, killed civil rights activists, gathered together in their best white sheets to rally against non-whites… today the people who care about racism tend to be discussing systemic racism, and white supremacy is understood to be a culture in which white concerns are more important, white people considered the default, and non-white people are not so much stomped down as just stood upon, to the point where it’s very easy for white people to think they’re just standing on even ground. When a Pupperooni says something racist and is called out on it, they don’t realize they aren’t being called a kard karrying member of the KKK, but rather being told that their (possibly subconscious, definitely culturally-ingrained) racism is showing, and they should maybe think about that. They also think that it takes an epithet to make a racist. They don’t see how eg. assuming every non-white Hugo finalist is a token betrays underlying racist assumptions, particularly when they also tend to admit to not having read the work(s) they are denigrating.

  36. I’m very puzzled by the idea that far-future SF is absent. The Ancillary series is perhaps the most obvious example. Ninefox Gambit is certainly set in the far future if the humans come from earth at all – there aren’t such obvious clues that they do as in the Ancillary series, as far as I can see, but it’s plausible. (In my headcanon it is actually set in the future of the Ancillary series – hence the tea and the gloves. Servitors were originally created to replace Ancillaries.) I’m not sure if the Broken Earth series is set in our timeline at all, but if it is, it is the very far future of our far future. Becky Chambers’ books aren’t as far as the others – Earth is still around and recognised as where humans come from – but still, pretty far: there’s been time enough to spread through the galaxy and meet lots of aliens. So, it looks to me as if the far future is having an upsurge.

  37. To continue bothering everyone on this sunny Sunday morning (PDT)…

    I have finished Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night. I found it a nuggety tale of plucky heroines, mythical highwaymen, radical rebels, authoritarian locksmiths, also authoritarian printers, political intrigue, and curmudgeonly geese. It is set in a world where the printed word is very dangerous and can have drastic effects on people’s sanity. Highly recommended for anyone who has enjoyed Hardinge in the past. I have the next book in the series on my Kindle, queued up, but first….

    I’m currently reading the next Discworld book on my list (I’m reading through in publication order). I have just been introduced to Tiffany Aching, which makes me a little sad, because that means I am approaching the end of the line. I’m also stoked to be here, because I’ve been hearing a lot about her for a while now.

    I have about an hour to read before I have to wash up and go out into the world to do stuff, so I’ll go back to reading now and stop pestering.

  38. Back in the 70s, my decade older sister came home to a rural part of Maine with her boyfriend, an African-American, who she’d met at the State university. Let’s just say my grandparents on both side were less than accepting of him and two, both grandfathers to be exact, use the N word to his face. Not sure that even the birth of their first granddaughter changed their minds.

    Yes I know what racism is even if tries to portray itself as not be so.

    Oh and I got, courtesy of the Peace Corps, to being the only white person in a radius of some hundred miles. Oh that was interesting.

  39. Definitely bummed about Harry Dean Stanton (though at 91, no one can say he didn’t have a good run). He was excellent in so many roles over the years. It’s always nice to see someone with talent escape the pigeonhole of “character actor” and achieve at least minor “star” status.

    In the far future stuff, I’ll throw in (slightly debatable, but I think it clearly fits) Jemisin’s Broken Earth books.

  40. Having read Nuttall’s column, and a couple of related pieces, it seems to me he’s trying to rehash the wearily familiar talking point about the Puppy fiction being primarily about good honest entertainment, and not trying to be all literary and political and stuff.

    To which I would point out: 1) there is, in my experience, a high correlation between “literary quality” and overall readability and enjoyability (tastes vary, but on the whole there’s a better chance of a “good” book also being a “fun” book); 2) complete avoidance of a political narrative isn’t political neutrality, it’s a default endorsement of the status quo; 3) if the Puppies are all about entertainment, how come most of their stuff is so ****ing boring?

  41. Thanks to everyone who responded to my blog post on far-future SF! I appreciate your feedback and recommendations.

    I don’t of course mean that there’s no far future stuff at all these days. Given the Hugo winners of the last several years (especially Leckie and Jemisin) and the other works I mention and that some of you recommended, it could be making a comeback. And by “far-future” I say in the post that it should be set thousands or millions of years, but I could make it more precise and say “at least 1,000 years in the future,” of which of course there are many recent representative examples. It would usually (but maybe not always) have a relatively high degree of estrangement from contemporary reality (i.e., it should feel like a really different world than our own). Again, there are recent examples of that, too.

    Still, my sense is that there’s not the degree of influence like you had from classics like Dune, the Foundation trilogy, or Le Guin’s Hainish novels. It could just be that the genre is more diverse (in style and proliferation of sub-genres, not just in the ways that sadly annoy the Puppies). Or maybe works that tend to become classics are more likely to be far-future since it’s more likely they’ll still seem fresh decades later whereas a lot of near-future SF goes stale rather quickly, which would create a selection bias on my part for what seems to have been dominant in past decades. Or maybe it’s just that authors like Herbert and Le Guin are utterly unique and we will never see their likes again . Or it’s entirely possible that I’m just plain wrong about everything!

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