Pixel Scroll 9/3/17 The Alpha Ralpha Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

(1) WESTEROS IN FERMENT. John King Tarpinian found these vintage wines languishing on the shelf at Pier One Imports.

(2) THE BEST WINE YET. You’ll find the rest of Ted Gioia’s essay on Dandelion Wine at Conceptual Fiction.

These efforts reached their culmination in Bradbury’s ambitions for a big “Waukegan novel,” which he sent to his publisher at the end of 1956.   Years later, the writer’s wife Maggie would mention that Dandelion Wine was Bradbury’s favorite among his books—although the author himself was more coy.  “They are all my children.  You can’t pick favorites when it comes to children.”   But if you have any doubts about how closely Bradbury identifies with this work you need merely look at is protagonist Douglas Spaulding, whose very name makes clear that he is the author’s alter ego:  Bradbury’s middle name is Douglas, and his great-grandmother’s maiden name was Spaulding.   Here in Green Town, Illinois—the stand-in for Waukegan—we follow in this boy’s path during the summer of 1928.

(3) HOPS TO IT. Woodbridge, Virginia’s Heroic Ale Works has all of their beers branded as superhero characters.  They brewed Escape Velocity Ale for the Escape Velocity convention sponsored by the Museum fo Science Fiction, which was held in Washington between September 1-3. See all the beer labels at the link.

You’ve tasted the beers, now get to know the stories behind the characters in the brand new, original ‘Heroic Aleworks Presents’ comics created by the owners of Heroic Aleworks, featuring artwork by talented artists from around the world.

(4) DEL TORO. Deadline, in “Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Shape Of Water’ Shines Bright In Lido Embrace – Venice”, says the director’s new SFF movie received an enthusiastic response at an Italian festival:

Guillermo del Toro gave the Venice Film Festival press corps a giant hug this morning, while also tugging — hard — at heartstrings. The press is hugging back. The filmmaker’s lyrical period fairy tale The Shape Of Water was met with sustained applause (and a fair amount of tears) as the lights rose in the Sala Darsena earlier today. Reviews that have followed are glowing, and this afternoon’s press conference was slightly delayed when reporters wouldn’t stop hooting and hollering as the filmmaker and his cast took their spots on the dais.

(5) THE SHARKE BITES. Megan AM summarized her experience as a Shadow Clarke juror in “SFatigued”. A good friend sent me the link, asking for my help in identifying who she’s talking about here. Thanks, pal!

In my mind, it was the American commentary that became the strangest and most unexpected turn of events. Suddenly, people from different corners of the USian SF blogosphere–people who admitted they never cared about or even paid attention to the Clarke Award before–suddenly had a lot to say and feel about open criticism aimed at what is becoming a corporatized award process– it appearing to be an industry award, rather than the critical award it was originally intended to be– all things they knew nothing about and took no time to comprehend. These people had a lot to say, not because they cared about the Clarke, but because… they could sense that some Sharke criticism might be aimed at their faves. And rightly so.

These people had a lot to say because they are not stupid. They are intelligent people who know exactly why something that should have nothing to do with them might feel a little bit threatening: They know their faves are not actually amazing, that they are actually inherently problematic, superficial, simplistic, dumbed down, and NOT award worthy. They know it because it is just that apparent. (And hardly worth the word count the Sharke jury spent on those books). They did not want to face it. Because they need it to feel safe. (And I get that. I really do. This is, after all, an important social sphere for many people.)

But the USian defensiveness was palpable. The stale, conservative watering hole for Hollywood Tonight-style SF news updates chronicled the Sharke process while its commenters huffed and puffed and said, “not gonna even waste my breaf on it” (but still did). Massively successful workshop authors who don’t seem to read much more than other massively successful workshop authors unloaded words about how readers like me will never appreciate the art of their simplicity (and then back-patted each other for how comforting and original they all are). (Comforting AND original! In the same sentence!) The young, white, feminist LGBTQ contingent–MY PEOPLE, goddammit–missed the big picture, as usual, because they benefit from the back-scratching, because they’re afraid to demand more of publishers and writers (because they’re afraid to demand more of themselves).

(6) SF IN POLAND. Marcin Klak, the Fandom Rover, in his Polcon report, tells who won the Janusz A. Zajdel Award:

Janusz A. Zajdel Award

The ceremony of this most prestigious Polish SF award was very simple this year. It did not include any artistic performances and was in fact just an announcement of the winners. Still, as each year, it was a very important part of the con. The results are as follows:

Best Novel

Krzysztof Piskorski — Czterdziesci i cztery (Forty and four)

Best Short Story

Lukasz Orbitowski and Michal Cetnarowski — Wywiad z Boruta (Interview with Boruta devil)

(7) FUR AND FEATHERS OVERRATED? The Guardian reports an Interesting study on the use of anthropomorphic animals in children’s books — “Children’s books with humans have greater moral impact than animals, study finds”.

Forget the morals that millennia of children have learned from the Hare and the Tortoise and the Fox and the Crow: Aesop would have had a greater effect with his fables if he’d put the stories into the mouths of human characters, at least according to new research from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

In the Canadian study, researchers read one of three stories to almost 100 children between four and six years old: Mary Packard’s Little Raccoon Learns to Share, in which anthropomorphic animals learn that sharing makes you feel good; a version of the story in which the animal illustrations were replaced with human characters; or a control book about seeds.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Pet Rock Day

Launched in the 1970s by advertising executive Gary Dahl, the pet rock was an antithesis to those living pets in need of regular care. It did, however, come with a mean “attack” mode. For a mere $3.95 people could adopt their very own rock, supplied on a bed of hay in an well-ventilated box. Like all things, pet rocks are more expensive these days, but you could always catch a wild one for free – just remember that undomesticated rocks may be more difficult to handle.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 3, 1976 — Viking 2 lander touched down on Mars at Utopia Planitia.

(10) COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian found today’s Close To Home is a moving experience.

(11) DRAGON CON ART SHOW. The Daily Dragon tells us the winners of the “2017 Dragon Con Art Show Awards”.

(12) WONDER OF THE WORLD. The Daily Dragon also covered “Life, Lust, and Laughs with John Barrowman”.

From his sparkling, shining star–filled entrance to his final innuendo, John Barrowman had the 7PM capacity crowd in the Hilton Grand Ballroom alternately in stitches and in awe. No one was safe from his star power.  His costume designers from Elhoffer Design were the first to feel his special brand of love, being unwittingly pulled on stage to celebrate his Wonder Woman outfit, complete with sparkling cape, tiara, and booty shorts. Their designs for Barrowman never cease to shock and amaze.

(13) DRAGON AWARDS CLIPPINGS. Here are miscellaneous reports and reactions to today’s Dragon Awards announcement.

More than 8,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners among 88 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming.  Winners were announced on Sept. 3 at Dragon Con, which runs September 1 to September 4, 2017 in Atlanta.

In all seriousness, congrats to Cory Doctorow on his win for “Walkaway”. The sequel to “A Place Outside The Wild” — “A Place Called Hope” — should be out in six weeks or so, and then I’ll be starting work on the follow-up to “Fade”, “Night’s Black Agents.”

Congratulations to the administrators of the Dragon Awards. In just two short years, you have ascended to the pinnacle and I feel you’ve only just got started. There may not be one of those incredible Dragon Awards sitting on my mantle (yet) but I am honored and humbled by the fact that I am, and will always be, a Dragon Award Finalist.

If I was the Dragon Award organisers I’d be happy with the results. Mainly safe choices that avoided rewarding poor behaviour.

First, I’d like to congratulate all of the nominees for the Dragon Awards. I had friends, both from cyberspace and meatspace, on the ballot. I’m sorry they didn’t win.

And now, I have a confession to make.

I didn’t vote this year. I didn’t vote for the Gemmells either.  Before anyone starts screaming about hypocrisy and double standards, I had a very good reason for not voting.

I didn’t read any of the nominees.

I’m not going to vote on a ballot when I haven’t read at least some of the titles under consideration.

  • John Scalzi had this to say:

  • Annalee Flower Horne condemned the proceedings out of hand, as did Lady Business’ Renay, and D. Franklin.

  • Here are assorted other tweets:

(14) KAYLON IN COSTUME. At ScreenRant, “Mark Jackson Says The Orville Is For ‘Disgruntled Star Trek Fans’”.

Seth McFarlane’s new TV show The Orville is about to hit TV screens with a stellar cast including Scott Grimes, Victor Garber, Adrianne Palicki and British actor Mark Jackson. …

So how did you film your scenes? Did you pull an Andy Serkis in a motion capture suit?

No it was me in that suit, and Seth specifically wanted that. When he was doing the Ted films, he was there giving the lines and he wanted that for this show too. I have never done anything like that before, it brings its own challenges, but to get it right you have to be in the suit and match what they’re doing. What was nice about the show is that it has a retro feel, which kind of harks back to the original Star Trek with the colors and innocence. I think Isaac is classic but not like C-3PO, even though at first I thought maybe he could be like that. He’s very fluid, he’s an efficient machine rather than being rigid.

How is Seth to work with? Is it anything like you have experienced before?

He has a real respect for acting and the craft of acting, he’s a man of many talent who is very supportive. It’s very funny when you meet such a comedic genius because you think they’re going to be really funny all the time, and then you feel like you have to be funny too, and it escalates into this shit show of funniness, but he’s not like that. He’s very bright, which can be quite intimidating, and knows exactly what he wants for the show, so is good at articulating that. We actually had a wrap party a few days ago at Seth’s house up in Beverly Hills, which is obviously fantastic, but the man knows how to throw parties. He turned his entire garden, I think he’s renovating at the moment so he could, into a spaceship bar, it was extraordinary. All of the waiting staff were done up like aliens in full prosethetics and there was a full ice sculpture of a spaceship as you walked in. That was very Hollywood, I feel.

(15) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. She’s back — “Record-breaking U.S. astronaut and crew back on Earth”.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and two crewmates made a parachute touchdown in Kazakhstan on Saturday, capping a career-total 665 days in orbit, a U.S. record.

Whitson, 57, ended an extended stay of more than nine months aboard the International Space Station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

”I feel great,” the biochemist said during an inflight interview on Monday. “I love working up here. It’s one of the most gratifying jobs I’ve ever had.”

During her third mission aboard the station, Whitson spent much of her time on experiments, including studies of cancerous lung tissue and bone cells. She also completed four spacewalks, adding to her six previous outings, to set a record for the most time spent spacewalking by a woman.

(16) NO WONDER. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a biopic about the creator of the comic and his marital relationship. In theaters October 13.

Details the unconventional life of Dr. William Marston, the Harvard psychologist and inventor who helped invent the modern lie detector test and created Wonder Woman in 1941. Marston was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth, a psychologist and inventor in her own right, and Olive Byrne, a former student who became an academic. This relationship was key to the creation of Wonder Woman, as Elizabeth and Olive’s feminist ideals were ingrained in the character from her creation. Marston died of skin cancer in 1947, but Elizabeth and Olive remained a couple and raised their and Marston’s children together. The film is said to focus on how Marston dealt with the controversy surrounding Wonder Woman’s creation.

 

(17) GET OUT OF JAIL FLEE. Infinity Chamber will be released September 15.

A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape and try and find his way back to the outside world that may already be wiped out

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, JJ, David Langford, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

106 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/3/17 The Alpha Ralpha Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

  1. It’s probably best that I don’t say anything about (5) until I’ve had some sleep.

    (16) looks interesting, but here in 1593 I have no hope of seeing this “biopic” thing.

  2. 13) Daniel Abraham’s Twitter response to his co-win for best SF novel was (and I quote): “Lovely.” Another Twitter user asked Abraham: “you know [Corey], right?”

    [godstalk]

  3. (5) I see the Shadow Clarke people are living up to their reputation.

    (13) I’ll believe the Dragon Awards have that many participants when they start using a transparent above-board process that isn’t run by a secret cabal.

  4. (13)
    At the moment it’s more a sideshow than anything else. And I certainly wouldn’t rely on the Dragons to tell me what the “good stuff” is.

  5. (5) THE SHARKE BITES. Megan AM: Suddenly, people from different corners of the USian SF blogosphere–people who admitted they never cared about or even paid attention to the Clarke Award before… all things they knew nothing about and took no time to comprehend. These people had a lot to say, not because they cared about the Clarke, but because… they could sense that some Sharke criticism might be aimed at their faves…

    They are intelligent people who know… their faves are not actually amazing, that they are actually inherently problematic, superficial, simplistic, dumbed down, and NOT award worthy. They know it because it is just that apparent. (And hardly worth the word count the Sharke jury spent on those books). They did not want to face it. Because they need it to feel safe…

    But the USian defensiveness was palpable. The stale, conservative watering hole for Hollywood Tonight-style SF news updates chronicled the Sharke process while its commenters huffed and puffed and said, “not gonna even waste my breaf on it” (but still did).

    I’m presuming that she’s referring to File 770, and I’m wondering why she is so fragile and defensive that she feels compelled to 1) pretend that the people here said things that I did not see anyone here say, and 2) pretend to know what the people here actually think.

    I’m also wondering how she would react if I wrote a post explaining that I know that she is so defensive because she’s well aware that the criticisms posted here, of the way the Sharkes frequently contradicted themselves or they way they frequently failed to provide legitimate justifications for their claims, are quite valid.

    After all, if she’s a mind-reader, I must be one, too. 🙄

  6. You shall pry my anthropomorphic fables from my cold dead hands! But that said, I mean, there’s always kids who like dolls more than stuffed animals–probably a majority, for that matter–so it makes sense. Fortunately, there’s still enough of the other kind to keep me in business…

  7. Somewhat belated, but I wanted to say what a fantastic time I had at Worldcon 🙂

    It was a heck of an experience. I got to meet some of my favorite authors — I met Jo Walton and Ada Palmer; my wife and I ran into Ted Chiang at a kosher cafe; I found myself briefly chatting with George R.R. Martin about 3 Stage Voting… I made it to one session of the Business Meeting (for a lively (read: interminable) debate on being able to ratify a new YA award for 2018, but not being able to NAME it until 2019. I gripe, but I really REALLY enjoyed it – and huge respect for all those who spent hours and hours of convention time on the Business Meetings).

    But (not unexpectedly) the best part was hanging out with fellow fans. I spotted Greg and Eric as soon as I came in the door, and we sat right down and jabbered away and had a blast 😀 Thursday evening was the Filer night out, which was an absolute pleasure. I jumped around and around the table, trying to meet everybody (I aaaalmost manged this…), and had such a good time! Y’all are friendly and interesting people, and spending time with you was a highlight of the con for me.

    Friday and Saturday were most of my “proper” convention time. Besides the Business Meeting, I went to a bunch of panels. Some I really enjoyed. Others… less so… I’m generally not enamored of panels as a format — they tend to go wide rather than deep, and if it’s a subject I’m already interested in, then I don’t find surface-level observations very rewarding. Panels also seem to have trouble finding focus, or keeping it. But I do see the attraction and the potential — I think I’m resolved that next time I’m at Worldcon, I’ll try to volunteer to moderate some panels, instead of just sitting in thw audience… 😛

    Special props to Christian, who, after some hanging out, egged me into buying The Sands of Sarsavati, a translation of a popular Finnish book about discovering Atlantis. He used the magic words: “Well, I’m reading it, and if you read it, then we can talk about it on the File!”

    The last bit I attended was the Masquerade. The costumes were nice enough, but the fun was in the company. First I flagged down somebody with a Business Meeting ribbon to hear the latest news, and we talked Hugo procedure for a while. Then I spotted Hampus and Kendall, and went back to join them. Again, the company was the highlight. 🙂

    So, all in all, this was kind of dipping my toe in the water. I was at the convention pretty sporadically, and a lot of the experience was figuring out what a Worldcon is. I enjoyed muchly — and that’s almost entirely thanks to File770 and the good people here 🙂 Spending time being fannish with you was what I enjoyed most, and all the time I’ve spent here over the past couple of years is how I became interested and invested in Worldcon to begin with.

    Thank you, one and all. I love being a part of this community. 🙂

  8. Standback on September 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm said:
    For a lot of us, seeing people is the best part of conventions. (It’s what I miss most.)

  9. 5)
    The Sharkes strike me as the sort of folks who want to criticise everything and then suddenly get upset, when someone else criticizes them. Also Megan is totally mistaken in calling everybody here US-fans, when we’re a really international bunch here.

    @Standback
    I enjoyed meeting you and many other Filers at WorldCon, too.

  10. RedWombat on September 3, 2017 at 9:31 pm said:

    You shall pry my anthropomorphic fables from my cold dead hands!

    Aren’t you just worried that your career will sink like a dead whale?

  11. #5 seems to think their little club had an influence on the real awards. I don’t know, if I were on an award jury I think I’d go out of my way to avoid reading everyone else’s opinions.

  12. @Cora

    One of her fellow jurors has long seemed convinced that we’re all Americans here; I suspect his view has proliferated.

    Anyway, if she wants to give both barrels to straw versions of her critics then it’s not really worth engaging with, but I did come across this in the full article:

    there’s not a doubt in my mind that The Underground Railroad would not have won the Clarke Award without the presence of the Shadow Clarke jury.

    I literally laughed out loud at this. Yes, a book that won the Pulitzer during the Clarke judging period needed the shadow jury to stick up for it, honest.

  13. Mark:

    “I literally laughed out loud at this. Yes, a book that won the Pulitzer during the Clarke judging period needed the shadow jury to stick up for it, honest.”

    I guess they had to add pomposity to the arrogance.

    Standback:

    Yep, meeting others is the best! Filer meetups are my highlight of the conventions and I was happy to meet you. I think I managed to meet all filers, apart from Red Wombat, even if it only was for a few minutes for some (Hi Paul!).

  14. This is probably a mistake, but I am going to make a last attempt to defend the Sharke readers.

    The Sharkes were a group of readers, novelists and critics who got together because they wanted to talk about the books eligible for the Clarke Award. They spent much time analyzing many books on their own time, and for their own interest. I see their objective as encouraging the best books to win a prestigious prize. This doesn’t mean the most popular. I think most File readers would agree that Gene Wolfe is a better writer than Dan Brown, even if Brown sells more books.

    I am familiar with some of the Sharkes although I don’t know any personally. Paul Kincaid has been active in UK fandom since the 70s and has produced at least three books of essays which I have enjoyed and which have made me see fresh aspects of books that I like. His wife Maureen Kincaid Spinner has been writing for as long, but concentrating more on fantasy. Nina Allan is a fine writer of short stories, mostly on the edge of what is called SF, but excellent stories all the same. Other jury members I am less familiar with.

    What they are doing is writing in detail about what they enjoy, and pointing out flaws in works that they see as having flaws. This is called criticism and discussion and is the exact opposite of what the Puppies do, and is what I would have thought that you Filers would have encouraged.

    Instead they get called pretentious assholes and are sneered at because they don’t like a book which most people here seem to love.

    I came on for one of my first posts on File770, and also got insulted and called an asshole because I tried to broaden the discussion by naming books that I liked. I got accused of saying that Americans were too dumb to appreciate Chris Priest, when all I said was that his books did not be very successful in America. Then when I left because I did not want to be insulted any more, I was accused of “flouncing”.

    I don’t have any desire to continue this discussion so am probably flouncing again. I do think that list members should consider that disagreement with their point of view is not pretentious, or attacking them personally, but an attempt to start an intelligent discussion, which I would have thought that all of us want.

    Allan

  15. Allan,

    Only a very small number of the Sharke posts drew significant heat; just as many as drew interesting discussion. The ones that got heat did so, in the main, because people thought they were wrong. The ones that took significant heat tended to be the ones that either ignored or dismissed the existence of other quite valid perspectives, or were being deliberately provocative, or both.
    I don’t agree with calling you or them an a-hole. The number of times a direct puppy comparison was made were miniscule (and wrong), but some jurors seem to have latched onto it as representative of the criticism as a whole, which frankly is missing the point.

    (Double post because I forgot Mike has a-hole on the filter list!)

  16. Allan Lloyd: I’m happy to host your literary opinions, but all you’re doing here is rehearsing your resentments. To spare anyone who’s thinking of writing a defensive post, I’d say Kurt Busiek’s summary written at the time fairly represents what happened.

    Nobody ever asked why I thought it was a good use of my time to cover every Shadow Clarke Jury post. I did it for two main reasons. First, I was only familiar with three of the Sharkes when they started out, and I’ve always found all three insightful, well-grounded in the field, and thought-provoking. I don’t need to agree with an argument if it’s well-made, or uncovers one of my previously unchallenged biases. And I assumed (and correctly) that the Sharkes I didn’t know already would work at the same level. The second reason is more obvious — the Sharkes set out to be provocative, appointing themselves to hold people accountable, and that was bound to set the sparks flying. The only unfortunate thing when people do that is if they come off offended once people respond to their stirring the pot. I don’t think most of the Sharkes suffered from that, though I feel Megan AM’s latest post does.

  17. @Darren, good one!

    I had a good time at Worldcon, but shortchanged my socializing as I often seem to. I love to volunteer at cons, and since 2015 I have been attending the Business Meeting, and I often find I have no time for going to dinner with people etc. I think I am really just being shy. I can’t try to find people to go to lunch or dinner with because I have to work! So I am going to try to back off just a little bit in the future, to make more time for people.

    I did enjoy the various work I did, as well as the Meeting. And I loved going to the Hugos, where Our Wombat’s acceptance speech was the highlight of the evening. But there was a lot of other goodness that night, too.

    I sat in the Access section, but if worldcons keep doing captioning I may decide I can go in with Filers instead. Though standing in long lines is awfully hard for me. I am thinking of purchasing a lightweight portable seat. Any suggestions? I can walk a lot better than I can stand, so I would be more interested in one I could sling over my shoulder when walking, rather than the sort that is a convertible cane.

  18. @ Allan Lloyd
    I think your first four paragraphs are as good a defense of the Sharkes as I have seen. Thanks.
    I’m glad you didn’t try to defend Megan AM’s latest remarks. A public attack on people whom one doesn’t bother to name, quote or link to, is rude and cowardly, as well as stupid.
    That said, I would suggest that you have taken criticism you received here too personally. File770 does have some regular commenters who are exceedingly ready to throw rough language into a debate, as well as those who object to that, including our genial host. And, like most communities, it has some in-jokes, of which “flounce” and “sticking the flounce” are two. I first came here during the puppy kerfuffle (and remained for the high-quality of discussion and invaluable info), when various people flew into rages and announced they were leaving, never to darken the blog again (the flounce), but kept coming back to say “And another thing …”. Like the police in Pirates of Penzance, “Yes, but you don’t go!”, these people failed to “stick the flounce”.
    The talk here is usually very good; perhaps you’d like to stay and join it. Which of the Clarke nominees did you particularly like, and why? I must admit I’m only now getting to Underground Railroad, and wondering why I waited.

    ETA: argh, ninja’ by OGH!

  19. Allan Lloyd: What they are doing is writing in detail about what they enjoy, and pointing out flaws in works that they see as having flaws. This is called criticism and discussion and is the exact opposite of what the Puppies do, and is what I would have thought that you Filers would have encouraged. Instead they get called pretentious a$$holes and are sneered at because they don’t like a book which most people here seem to love.

    You’re engaging in some selective retconning here.

    They weren’t called pretentious a$$holes because of their literary criticism — much of which was interesting and valid and spurred discussion here. They were called that because of certain things they chose to say, which were various combinations of petty, pretentious and a$$holish. Their incessant snipes and jabs at A Closed and Uncommon Orbit were especially petty and childish, and utterly unworthy of people attempting to engage in serious literary criticism. And it was quite clear that was why they got the very valid criticism here that they did. Your attempt to retcon that does not do you credit.

     
    Allan Lloyd: I came on for one of my first posts on File770, and also got insulted and called an a$$hole because I tried to broaden the discussion by naming books that I liked. I got accused of saying that Americans were too dumb to appreciate Chris Priest, when all I said was that his books did not be very successful in America.

    No, you weren’t called an a$$hole because you “tried to broaden the discussion by naming books that I liked” — and your claiming that is pretty disingenuous. You were called an a$$hole (and not by me) because you were utterly incredulous that I didn’t think that Christopher Priest was the BEST THING EVAR to happen to science-fiction, and insinuated that it must be because I was, as an American, too stupid to understand or appreciate his writing.

    You will find that a lot of people here — most especially me — will not take kindly to having their words misrepresented and false claims being made about what actually happened and what was said. It is such a hot button for me that I am known for pulling direct quotes and links out on people as proof when they try to pull that shit on me.

    I don’t know. Maybe English is not your first language, and you don’t actually understand that is what you did. If that’s the case, please say so, and I’ll be happy to concede that you didn’t actually mean what you said.

     
    I hope you’ll stick around here and discuss books with the rest of the community. There are widely varying opinions amongst all of the people here about every piece of fiction — I’ve seen a few works which were universally reviled, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one which was universally loved here. And pretty much everyone here is good about explaining why they judge a work they way they do, and gracious enough to accept that the opinions of those who vehemently disagree with them are just as legitimate and valid.

  20. I thought the Sharke project had amazing potential and I’m glad it got coverage here – though I missed that particular comment discussion when it first happened, which is probably a good thing.

    I just wish the exercise didn’t have to develop to another grand conspiracy where everyone else secretly doesn’t love and admire the books they say they love and admire. It undermines their aspirations to stimulating debate by setting impossible hurdles for anyone who wants to engage with their criticism (how do I prove that I genuinely think Becky Chambers is some of the best 2016 SF?) And, as has been noted elsewhere, we get the conspiracy angle enough from other quarters.

    Accepting that you have to engage with people who have different opinions won’t stop them from sometimes calling you names, but if you genuinely believe in the integrity of your review project, why would you compromise it just because a couple of people on the internet think you’re a bit pretentious?

    (Also, I’m a British socialist feminist living in Southeast Asia. Being called a conservative USian by association is… novel…)

  21. Arifel: Also, I’m a British socialist feminist living in Southeast Asia. Being called a conservative USian by association is… novel…

    Out of curiousity, I just started making a list of regular commenters here who I know to be from outside the U.S. It took me less than 1 minute to come up with 20 names.

    It’s interesting how people who don’t read this site regularly just make the assumption that everyone in the community here is from the U.S. — especially given how much genre news and awards from other countries are covered.

  22. @lenorejones

    Helinox or Outad ultralight chairs are good – very very light and they pack down to about the size of a pair of shoes so they are easy to carry in a bag. Only downside is they are quite low (if you find getting up / down tricky – though I managed while 9m pregnant) and there’s a trick to putting them up which takes practice and strong wrists. I got them for camping, festivals & events and they’ve been invaluable.

  23. @JJ

    If nothing else, the British spelling and the way the conversation carries on unchecked during the American night ought to be a bit of a clue for people…

  24. @JJ

    Here we go again. JJ, I emphatically deny saying that you or any other Americans were too dumb to appreciate Chris Priest. I can’t find my previous post or I would quote it. If you put that interpretation on it I apologize. I do think Priest is one of the best writers around. That is my opinion. What I was trying to say is that he is a very English writer and maybe that is why he is not popular in America. His work is full of English references which perhaps don’t travel well. He has always sold pretty well in the UK but has never made a real breakthrough in the US. I seem to remember wondering why the film of the Prestige didn’t win him more readers, but I think that you didn’t like the film either.

    And English is my main language. I have been speaking it for almost 70 years so I should have got it right by now!

    I haven’t read enough of the Clarke shortlist to make a sensible comment. I started The Underground Railroad and admired the writing very much but couldn’t finish it. This is more a fault in me than in the book. I just felt that I had read so many books about slavery and the slave trade that I didn’t want to live through it all again. It is good that the history is kept alive, but sometimes you want to accept that it all happened and not immerse yourself in the awfulness.

    I enjoyed Tricia Sullivan’s book but didn’t think it her best. I won’t mention Becky Chambers.

    I have enjoyed reading File 770 for some years now, and very much appreciated all the comment on the Puppy fiasco. I just think that the sniping at the Sharke jury is an example of the very worst internet group-think.

    Allan

  25. Allan: I have enjoyed reading File 770 for some years now, and very much appreciated all the comment on the Puppy fiasco. I just think that the sniping at the Sharke jury is an example of the very worst internet group-think.

    Gosh, if that was the “very worst internet group-think” you have observed, you must not have been exposed to much of the internet.

    Even though there were a number of File770 commenters who were critical of the Shadow Clarke panel, they were not a monolithic voice.

    I mean, have you actually been reading this site? While there are broad swathes of agreement on some topics, the points of (relatively) respectful (and yes, sometimes boisterous) disagreement aren’t uncommon here, and is one of the qualities I enjoy about this community.

  26. @Allen

    Here you go.

    Maybe his style and obsessions just do not cross the Atlantic well, but surely the film of “The Prestige” made some impact.

    Now, let’s please not collapse into a dissection of who meant what and how, but I’d say that a) I can see how some might have taken that quite poorly, and b) I can see how you might not have meant it in the way it was taken. Text doesn’t transmit tone very well, etc etc.
    As you’ve expanded on what you meant and apologised for any misunderstanding, then hopefully it’ll end there.

  27. @Allen: I remember that conversation on the Sharkes, and I agree, you were beset upon in an unfair and unwelcoming way. I’m seriously sorry for that. We can be both insular and aggressive. I’m not excusing it – but I will say this forum (and, ummm, the internet) has a long history of people coming in to stir shit up and start some tired argument. And some of the Filers respond really aggressively when they feel that’s happened. Which isn’t received well, etc. etc. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Here’s my sincere and heartfelt recommendation: let that one conversation go, at least for the moment. Start a conversation about something else – practically anything else. Enter the Filer commentariat via discussion, not via argument. It’s not that we don’t or can’t argue; it’s that we really are a hell of a lot better with names and nicks we already know.

    (Obviously, you don’t have to do any of this. I wouldn’t blame you for just stepping away. But it sounds like you already like the File, so… maybe worth the effort?
    I’ve been there. One of my earliest posts here was argumentative, and was read as way more hostile than I intended. Luckily it wasn’t my FIRST post, so we smoothed things out pretty quickly.
    Yes we have problems. As you may have seen above, I think we’re pretty awesome as well. 🙂 )

    So, again: something else, anything else. I’m happy to start: watcha reading these days? Anything you’re excited about? 🙂

  28. Amazon wish list: The Great Old Gatsby – China Miéville

    Nick and his fellow Infantry vets clash with Gatsby’s bootleggers as they race to stop priestess Daisy’s occult secret society from hatching the squamous Thing from the West Egg.

  29. Love the post title. Cordwainer Smith for the win (kudos to you, Daniel)

    @Hampus My phone breaking and other chaos at Worldcon sure stymied my efforts to meet Filers. I did manage to see you briefly, and Cora a bit more (mainly because Shaun Duke used me as a go between to give her salt tablets (it actually makes sense in context)…

  30. @Standback

    Thanks, that was more the attitude I expected from File 770.

    At the moment I am deep into a reread of the books of Adam Roberts, another writer more popular over here than the US (no slurs implied!). What I like about Roberts is that all of his books explore very different aspects of SF, usually with characters who are often quite damaged and not immediately attractive. He is a deeply thoughtful writer and I get more from his books the more I read them. I would recommend “Jack Glass” as a starting point, but you do need a strong stomach for the opening section.

    Allan

  31. *waves to Arifel* I’ve just moved back to southeast Asia from Britain for the next [shrug] months! Love it out here 🙂

  32. Allan Lloyd: That is my opinion. What I was trying to say is that he is a very English writer and maybe that is why he is not popular in America. His work is full of English references which perhaps don’t travel well. He has always sold pretty well in the UK but has never made a real breakthrough in the US. I seem to remember wondering why the film of the Prestige didn’t win him more readers, but I think that you didn’t like the film either.

    I’ve been reading adult novels since I was 6 or 7 years old. I was given free reign of the tiny back room at my grandmother’s house, which was stuffed with shelves and shelves of paperbacks. So I started out reading lots of mysteries and gothics — including Agatha Christie, Eleanor Hibbert in her various guises (Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Jean Plaidy, etc), and most especially Mary Stewart (whose mysteries, I think, actually excel over her Arthurian saga). Then there’s Austen, the Brontës, Kipling, Wells, Carroll, Hardy, Conan Doyle, among others (some of which I enjoyed, and some which I didn’t). Much more recently, I’ve also read and enjoyed Emma Newman, Alastair Reynolds, Ken McLeod, Iain M. Banks, Paul Cornell, Ben Aaronovitch, Charles Stross, China Miéville, and J.K. Rowling,

    You should recognize some of those names — because every single one of them came from your side of the ditch. I suspect that you have a stereotypical view of Americans never having experienced anything outside their own country — and I wouldn’t necessarily say you are wrong when it comes to 50% of the U.S. population.

    But I also think that you grossly underestimate Americans when it comes to those of us who are big readers, especially of SFF. Given my reading history, which has occurred over a period of decades, perhaps you can understand why the idea that I wouldn’t understand “English references” seems more than a little… I guess clueless and/or offensive.

    I actually enjoyed the film The Prestige — but since I hadn’t read the book, perhaps I went in expecting something different than what I got, which is why I felt disappointed with the ending. I really, really wanted to love The Adjacent and The Gradual — but the reason they disappointed me was not because of English references, but because they are full of really interesting ideas which never really get developed, and characters which remain distant and detached rather than becoming fully fleshed-out personalities. I can forgive one or the other in my science-fiction — but not both. And as far as I’m concerned, they are both fantasy and not SF. Since I much prefer SF over Fantasy, this is another source of disappointment.

  33. (5) I think the Shadow Clarke was a decent idea in the beginning, even if I had my doubts on how it’d play out. As long as it focused on positive things, why they liked a book, what made a book work, what it contributed to the sf field, I think it worked decently, because they are all well-read and discerning readers.

    But what I think happened later on was a double whammy: we entered some sort of Shadow Clarke fatigue, and they got into a discussion on why they didn’t like a book, or didn’t consider it sf. And then you’re into negative criticism, and that’s much harder to pull off well. Especially if the book isn’t flawed or problematic to begin with. And as Cora said, they didn’t take criticism of their criticism well.

    @Hampus: You managed to miss me as well, despite us being on the same ferry!

    (13) Good for them, though most literary awards needs to be going for ten or more years before they become relevant, in culture or in market terms. But they have a real issue with very white, male, cis shortlists and winners, and the strange eligibility periods will likely make it tough going for them.

  34. Allan Lloyd: I started The Underground Railroad and admired the writing very much but couldn’t finish it. This is more a fault in me than in the book. I just felt that I had read so many books about slavery and the slave trade that I didn’t want to live through it all again. It is good that the history is kept alive, but sometimes you want to accept that it all happened and not immerse yourself in the awfulness. I enjoyed Tricia Sullivan’s book but didn’t think it her best.

    I suspect that you mean Underground Airlines (Whitehead) — it is the only one of the 6 Clarke finalists I haven’t read yet, and for exactly the same reason you cite. I read Underground Railroad (Winters) — which has quite a similar plot — and facing the reality which blacks face daily in the U.S. in that book, coupled with everything else going on in the country right now, has been grim enough that I haven’t felt ready to tackle Airlines yet.

    I really, really wanted to love Occupy Me. Books which begin in media res, and require you to build the world like a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces as the author drops them in, generally hit my sweet spot. But I didn’t feel that the plot, and the clues as they were dropped, quite worked as well as it could / should have. But I enjoyed it enough that if there’s a sequel, I’ll pick it up, and I will probably seek out some of Sullivan’s other novels at some point.

    Central Station was a massive disappointment to me — and this may be due to the massive number of raves I read about it beforehand causing my expectations to be raised too high. I especially disliked being told — deceived — that it was a novel, when in fact it is a veeeeery loosely-linked collection of stories. And when I got a third of the way through and hit the space vampire story, that was just the final straw, and I DNFed the book.

    I really enjoyed Planetfall and After Atlas — but I thought both books had the detraction that one of the Sharkes (maybe it was Kincaid?) described, where the ending didn’t really live up to the rest of the book.

    Ninefox Gambit I managed 100 pages of, and then I had to put it down. But I am going to give it another try once I can get both it and Tenfox Gambit (aka Raven Strategem) from my library.

    I’ve heard good things about Adam Roberts, and The Real-Town Murders is on my near-future reading list because of its synopsis.

  35. @JJ

    Maybe it’s a matter of international retitling, but Canadian Release Underground RAILROAD was by Colin Whitehead and was an AU set in the 1850s wherein the railroad was literally a train that went underground (I never got why).

    I haven’t read Underground AIRLINES (by Ben Winters), but I gather it’s a modern day AU wherein slavery still exists in the US and there were airplanes smuggling people to… Canada?

    I admit that Railroad left me feeling like I wasn’t smart enough for litfic, because I really didn’t understand what the fuss was about (or why there was a train!) though I thought some of the alternate history bits were very interesting. Like Allan I’ve read too much about American slavery to find any of that especially new or revealing. I wonder if there’s anyone who WOULD read a book like that who wasn’t already in the choir. Did it really change anyone’s opinions about chattel slavery in the US?

    I missed all the Sharke drama though because I tended to skim it. I have noticed several recent negative comments about Chambers (notably her grasp of science) so it’s not as if she’s universally beloved here.

  36. Oops, yes, I should have looked up the Undergrounds and checked before hitting “post”. I am sicker than a dog right now, and the brain is not working as well as it should. Thanks for the gentle correction. 🙂

  37. @JJ

    I’m pleased that you have read so many British books. I won’t give you a list, but I have probably read more American books than British. I applaud your selection of British SF writers.

    You don’t like Chris Priest and you give your reasons. That is fine with me and we are having a discussion. But what I am saying is that Priest is not popular in America. That is not because I underestimate American readers. I wonder how much this is a difference not in understanding, but in different attitudes of readers. I agree that Priest does not write straightforward SF and hasn’t for many years, but his obsessions with identity, split realities, and twinned personalities appeals to me very much.

    It is all a matter of personal taste. I used to read a lot of far future space opera but now find most of it boring. That doesn’t mean it’s all rubbish, just not for me.

    Sorry you are feeling ill,

    Allan

  38. It’s odd that two books covering similar themes came out with such complementary titles so close to each other, isn’t it? I guess it’s going to happen every now and again, like Hollywood’s Year of the Two Asteroid Movies.
    I’ve not read Airlines but I read Railroad and liked it enough to put it on my nominations list. (That’s a meaning of “liked” that doesn’t really mean “enjoyed” but anyone who’s read it will get what I mean.) I do wonder to myself if it really did enough with its SFnal content to warrant that, but it was such an impressive work that it rather overwhelmed that consideration for me.
    Just to loop back to my earlier comment, if someone like myself who trends more genre* than the Sharkes would nominate it for a genre award, then the Clarke jury surely didn’t need any pushing to do so either

    *I don’t really like that genre/lit dichotomy but it’ll have to serve right now

    @Mukkamuk

    Did it really change anyone’s opinions about chattel slavery in the US?

    I think quite a lot of the thrust of UR was that once Cora had escaped she encountered more insidious effects that still resonate today.

  39. @Allan

    The reasons why some authors do and don’t take off on different sides of the Atlantic seem to me to be so random as to be impossible to analyse. Possibly it’s because the reasons for any author to take off are so random as to defy analysis as well! I’m sure we could all list authors we think are objectively great who are doing much worse than they “deserve”.
    There seems to be a requirement for talent, application, and some ill-defined luck in finding a little zeitgeist wave to surf to the level of attention that people notice their talent and application.

  40. SamJ:

    “Helinox or Outad ultralight chairs are good – very very light and they pack down to about the size of a pair of shoes so they are easy to carry in a bag. Only downside is they are quite low (if you find getting up / down tricky – though I managed while 9m pregnant) and there’s a trick to putting them up which takes practice and strong wrists. I got them for camping, festivals & events and they’ve been invaluable.”

    I do have one of those, and it is great for festival camping. It is leightweight and durable. Problem is that it was quite a bother to put together, needing – as said – strong wrists, so it was too much work to disassemble to bring into the concert area.

    I think I would go for something easier to fold and unfold at a convention. The foldable tripod chairs seems like the best options then. Something like this.

  41. Instead they get called pretentious assholes and are sneered at because they don’t like a book which most people here seem to love.

    No, the Shadow Clarke people get called pretentious assholes becasue they say stuff like this:

    They know their faves are not actually amazing, that they are actually inherently problematic, superficial, simplistic, dumbed down, and NOT award worthy. They know it because it is just that apparent. (And hardly worth the word count the Sharke jury spent on those books). They did not want to face it. Because they need it to feel safe.

    Try not telling people what “they know”, and try not assuming your opinions are “just that apparent”. And try not telling people “they need it to be safe”. The pretension and condescension that emanates from that snippet is palpable.

    And this:

    The stale, conservative watering hole for Hollywood Tonight-style SF news updates chronicled the Sharke process while its commenters huffed and puffed and said, “not gonna even waste my breaf on it” (but still did).

    This is the sort of thing that only an uninformed clown could write. The Sharke Jury exposed themselves time and again as clueless fools who were convinced they were pooping rainbows. Every criticism leveled at the Sharke Jury calling them “pretentious assholes” was not only justified, it was understated.

  42. Amazon wishlist: Where the Wild Things’ Eggs Are – H.R. Giger

    Max misbehaves, and is sent to bed without any supper. A strange mist full of twisted rock-forms appears in his room, and there among them he finds an ancient derelict space ship…

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