Pixel Scroll 2/16/17 This Scroll Is Spelt Raymond Luxury Pixel, But It’s Pronounced ‘Godstalker Manfile’

(1) TINGLE ON TV. SORT OF. I’m told Chuck Tingle appeared live via remote camera on Comedy Central’s @Midnight last night and that the video is “definitely NSFW.” And that Tingle was disguised (face covered) each time he appeared. I haven’t had a chance to watch the show yet, I’d better mention…

(2) TRAD V. INDIE. Jim C. Hines isn’t trying to referee the debate about which business model works best for writers. However, people selling their work in a variety of ways shared their income data with him and he has compiled it in “2016 Novelist Income Results, Part 2: The Large/Small/Indie Breakdown”.

Indie authors still have the largest median income, which was predicted by only 19% of the folks in our informal Twitter Poll. The large press authors once again take the highest average. (I think this is mostly because of one large press author whose income was significantly higher than any others.)

(3) BEST IN SF ROMANCE. Veronica Scott lists the nominees for the 2017 SFR Galaxy Awards at Amazing Stories.

First a word about the awards themselves – a panel of well-regarded scifi romance book bloggers and reviewers make the selections, with each judge naming five or six novels, graphic novels or anthologies that they found memorable during the preceding year. The formal description of the awards’ intent, as taken from the website: “The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain. The basic philosophy behind this approach is to help connect readers with books.”

Although the awards are serious, each judge gives their reasons for selecting the books, as indicated a bit light heartedly in the title of their short essays…

(4) A KIND WORD. James Davis Nicoll sets Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Rule of Names” before the panel at Young People Read Old SFF. And this time butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths….

(5) WHY CLARION. Nancy Jane Moore rhapsodizes about her experience as “A Tricoastal Woman: Clarion West 1997” at Book View Café.

There are lots of reasons to go to Clarion West or Clarion. Yes, you will learn a lot about writing. Yes, you will get to know writers and editors. And yes, the intensity of the workshop will push you to do your best work. I’m glad for all those things.

But what really made me happy was living in a community of writers for six weeks. There is nothing like pacing the hall at two in the morning, trying to figure out how to fix a scene, and finding that someone else is also up struggling with a story.

By the end of the workshop, I wanted to figure out how to live permanently in a community of writers. I’d gladly have spent the rest of my life at Clarion West. Well, OK, with a bit less intensity, because I couldn’t have kept up with the lack of sleep and exercise much longer.

Alas, I have never figured out how to do it, though I still have fantasies about getting together to buy an apartment building with a bunch of other writers. Hell, I’d probably even be willing to live in a dorm room with the bathroom up the hall as I did at Clarion West.


  • February 16, 1923 — In Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler.


  • Born February 16, 1953 – Mike Glyer
  • Born February 16, 1957 LeVar Burton

(8) MOVING ON. There’s a difference between being interested in the Hugos and feeling a sense of stewardship about them. I still feel that we’re seeing through the completion of unfinished business. On the other hand, Abigail Nussbaum, in “The 2017 Hugo Awards: Why Hugo?”, explains why she feels the award doesn’t command the same level of interest for her as last year.

The issue, therefore, is this: it’s not just that the Hugos are trivial, but that the Hugos are solved.  If last year and the year before, we had a strong argument for seeing participation in the Hugos as an important and even progressive act, this year it seems largely meaningless, precisely because the difference between the best-case and worst-case outcomes is so small.  Let’s say the Rabid Puppies come back for a third try this year, and manage to get their trash on a lot of ballots.  So what?  They’ll just get knocked down in the voting phase again, and the only people it’ll really matter to will be the ones who lost out on a nomination–and I say that as someone who did lose out on a Hugo nomination, twice, as a result of the Rabid Puppies’ actions.  Given the current state of the world, lousy Hugo nominations are pretty far down my list of things to get upset over.  And on the other hand, if the Puppies have given up (or, more realistically, moved on to greener pastures, of which there sadly seems to be an abundance), I think we all know by now that the result will not be some progressive, radical-lefty shortlist.  The Hugo will go back to what it has always been, a middle-of-the-road award that tends to reward nostalgia and its own inner circle.  Yes, there has been progress, and especially in the shadow of the Puppies and their interference–2015 best novel winner Cixin Liu was the first POC to win in that category, and 2016 winner N.K. Jemisin was the first African American.  But on the other hand, look at the “first”s in that last sentence, consider that they happened a decade and a half into the 21st century, and then tell me that this is something to crow about.

After having said all this, you’re probably now expecting me to make some huge turnaround, to explain to you why the Hugos still matter, and why it’s still important to talk about them and nominate for them.  But the thing is, I can’t….

(9) GET TO KNOW YOUR GUFFERS. Voting on the Get Up-and-over Fan Fund (GUFF) delegate to Worldcon 75 contiues until April 1.’ The candidates’ platforms and general information about voting is here. The online ballot is here. Voting is open to all interested fans, regardless of nationality.

Elizabeth Fitzgerald is interviewing the candidates online — Donna Maree Hanson, Sam Hawke, Belle McQuattie, and the tandem of Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein. Her first two interviews are up —

You’re currently working on a PhD focused on feminism in romance. How have you found this has impacted on your SFF writing?

The PhD studies so far have benefited my writing. Part of the study involves reading widely–French philosophers, feminist theory, queer theory–and I find that all mind-expanding. I’m not free to write as much as I’d like but I find with a bit of discipline (say an hour a day, at least) I can do both the PhD and write. I take a writing day once a week too. I don’t think you can study romance without touching on feminism and gender, and that is interesting to say the least. As I’m undertaking a creative writing PhD, l will be writing a novel. That novel is going to be an SF novel, post-human, focussing on gender equality and romance too. To write that novel I have to read SF dealing with that topic as well as straight romance, which is part of my research. Lots of reading. I read Left Hand of Darkness aloud to myself so I could experience it at a deeper level. So it’s a journey that I can bend to include both sides of my interests in genre.

What are you most looking forward to about Worldcon 75?

Is it cheating to say everything? I’m really looking forward to talking to fans and learning more about other areas of SFF that I don’t get exposure to normally, especially because I don’t know much about European SFF. I’m really excited to explore Finland and see another part of the world. I’m also a super huge fan of moose, and I’m hoping to see some … from a very safe distance.

(10) FAKE KNEWS. NakedSecurity tells how everyone, including members of Congress, can spot a fake twitter account. Personally, I don’t think the problem is that they are that hard to spot, but that want to believe the messages and don’t stop to ask the question.

When was it created?

As the Washington Post notes, the fake Flynn account was created a day after the authentic @GenFlynn went offline. Suspicious timing, eh? The creation date can be helpful in spotting bogus accounts, particularly when they’re created at the same time as major news breaks about whatever parodied/spoofed person they’re based on.

(11) ZETA OVER BUT NOT OUT. Mothership Zeta announced plans to go on hiatus four months ago, and the new issue of the magazine confirms that it will be the last issue for now. Here’s a quote from Mur Lafferty’s editorial.

The discussion you hear from nearly every short fiction publication is the worry about money. We are an experiment from Escape Artists, the awesome publisher of free audio fiction; we knew we were taking a risk with creating an ezine that you had to pay for.

We’re fiercely dedicated to paying our authors, our nonfic writers, our artists, and our editorial team. We did our best with the budget we had, but once the money ran out, we had to take a hard look at ourselves. So we are taking some time to figure out a new way of delivering this publication.

We have no current plans to shutter the magazine for good. We are going to take the next few months and look at our options. We may come back with a crowdfunding effort through Patreon, Kickstarter, or IndieGogo. We may come up with other solutions. But we all believe in this magazine, and believe that the world needs satisfying, fun science fiction now more than ever. We want to bring that to you.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Mark-kitteh, David K.M.Klaus, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

More Publishers Cut Ties With Sunil Patel

Two more publishers have ended their connections with Sunil Patel in response to  accusations about his conduct toward women aired on Twitter and summarized in the Pixel Scroll for October 16.

Mothership Zeta made a “Staff Announcement” that Patel is no longer associated with the magazine:

Sunil Patel has resigned as Fiction Assistant Editor at Mothership Zeta, effective immediately. We thank him for all his hard work on the magazine’s first six issues.

Steven Saus, who does business as Alliteration, Ink, also made a public statement about how he will be adjusting the fulfillment of backer rewards for a Kickstarter-funded anthology he published that contains a Patel story, No Sh!t, There I Was, edited by Rachael Acks. Acks co-signed the statement, “The Complicated Mess When The Missing Stair Gets Noticed”.

Saus begins,

Me? When I choose not to publish someone because of their behavior, I’m saying that because I don’t want to be associated with sexist, racist, bigoted, assaulting jerks. It’s because I want the areas where I am, that I’m sponsoring, and that I’m representing to be safe and inclusive.

I believe the women who have come forward. I’m all too aware, as Natalie Luhrs put it, “[that] this is a problem that is endemic to our community, social and professional. There are people being abused right now who truly believe that no one will care if they speak up.”

And I do care.

Then he outlines what he will be doing:

I admire the example set by The Book Smugglers, but I can’t exactly follow their example.

The contracts have already been signed, and the money already paid. Review copies have already been sent out. I can’t undo those things. And undoing them would impact not just Mr. Patel, but all the other fine authors who are in No Shit, There I Was.

What I can – and will – do is offer that all backer rewards that involved Mr. Patel may be fulfilled by me personally, or if we can work it out, another author.

I will also investigate how to update future contracts so that should this situation happen again with a different author, I will have more options.

I welcome your feedback about the actions I’m taking. I am not interested in discussing whether or not you believe the accusations.

Meanwhile, Heather A. at Around the World in 80 Books Blog said in “Hot Air: Fall From Grace” they have yanked a Patel interview from their site.

Over the weekend I found out about a problematic person in the SFF community. He seemed like a nice person in real life when we met to do an interview for this blog, but the accusations from women writers in the community left me stunned (the interview has now been removed).

I take their side….

And I just want to emphasize that I want to be here for support of the community and those who may have been victimized by this person. This blog will not be promoting his work in the future.

And Mary Robinette Kowal discussed a complicated situation — “On Being Friends with Someone Who Turns Out to Be an Asshole” — without commenting on anyone by name, in remarks posted October 17:

Sometimes, someone you’re fond of turns out to be an asshole. Holding them accountable is part of being a friend. It helps them be better. I have a colleague/student/friend who has been awful to other people. Not to me, and that isn’t a defense. Ever.

Their behavior is inexcusable.

Defending my asshole friend’s behavior would make me complicit in it, because then I would be condoning the problematic behavior. The question then becomes… do I remain their friend?

Update 10/19/16: Lightspeed announced Patel’s resignation today as well:

Sunil Patel Interview

By Carl Slaughter: Sunil Patel talks about studying under Nancy Kress, Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Ted Chiang; what it’s like to work with Mighty Mur; his duties as assistant editor of Mothership Zeta, the newest member of the Escape Artists family; his criteria for reviewing for Lightspeed; and how he broke into Asimov’s and Galaxy’s Edge as a newcomer; and his experience with science fiction plays.

CARL SLAUGHTER: Every new writer wants to break into Asimov’s.  Only a tiny fraction succeed.  How did you do it?

SUNIL PATEL: I submitted a story and Sheila Williams accepted it. Next question!

Okay, so that’s not the whole story, since many people submit stories to Asimov’s that are not accepted. In fact, I was and continue to be one of those people. The secret lies in a two-word mantra I have borrowed and internalized from Rose Lemberg: Don’t self-reject. The submission guidelines note that Asimov’s rarely publishes flash pieces and occasionally publishes humorous pieces, so I knew a humorous flash piece would be a hard sell. But I was encouraged by having gotten a personal note from Sheila regarding my first submission, which had been a humorous flash piece. “A Partial List of Lists I Have Lost Over Time” is a list story told as a series of lists, and I had identified two markets I thought it would be perfect for, both of which rejected it. For my third submission, most markets I thought would be a better fit for the story already had something of mine, and I saw on Submission Grinder that Asimov’s was rejecting quickly, so I figured I’d get that rejection out of the way. I never expected to get a rewrite request that turned into a sale. So that’s how I did it: I let the editor decide whether my story was a good fit for her magazine.

CS: Same question for Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge.

SP: Galaxy’s Edge does not have open submissions, so it can be a daunting market to crack. I was discussing with frequent contributor Tina Gower about the types of stories Mike Resnick liked, and among the general elements she listed were things like “humor” and “emotional heart” and “totally weird and way out there,” which exactly described “The Man Who Saved Manhattan,” a flash piece I hadn’t been able to find a home for. Now, I had shared an elevator with Mike Resnick at Worldcon and was too intimidated to speak to him and ask if I could submit to Galaxy’s Edge, but Tina very helpfully put in a good word for me, and he was happy to see a couple of my stories. So I sent him “The Man Who Saved Manhattan”…and received a contract the next night! (Sometimes he is fast, and sometimes he takes the usual six weeks or so. He form-rejected the other story I sent him.) So that’s how I did it: I saw a market that said “invitation only” and wrangled myself an invitation. This is a very common story if you talk to other people who have published in Galaxy’s Edge; I truly believe that if I had talked to Mike in that elevator and asked if I could submit, he would have said yes. (I finally officially met him at Worldcon this year, and he was delighted and encouraged me to send him something else. I did. He bought it.)

CS: What kind of feedback have you gotten from editors about your stories?

SP: I can interpret this question two ways, so I’ll answer the first way, which is about personal rejections. I have a love/hate relationship with them: I love the praise that often comes with them but hate that it’s not an acceptance. I’ve gotten a wide variety of feedback, very little of which I have taken to heart; I rarely revise stories in response to personal rejections unless something does resonate with me. Normally I just believe in my story. You think this flash piece does not do enough with its concept, that it should be expanded into a longer piece? Sorry, I conceived it this way and I like it how it is, and hey, this other editor agrees. You think the story starts out too slowly and needs to be heavily restructured? Sorry, I consider the structure a feature rather than a bug, and hey, this other editor agrees. You think the ending is weak and I should make the mother more sympathetic? Sor—wait, you are totally right, thank you, C.C. Finlay. Any feedback you get is one editor’s opinion, and it’s only one editor’s opinion that rejects your story. But it’s also one editor’s opinion that accepts your story. Listen to what works, discard what doesn’t, believe in the story you are trying to tell.

CS: What exactly is involved in your work with Mothership Zeta? Responsibilities, goals, experiences, benefits.

SP: I am Assistant Editor of Fiction, which means I handle pretty much everything related to the fiction that appears in Mothership Zeta (Karen Bovenmyer handles the nonfiction, but she also helps manage the slush). Obviously one of my most important responsibilities is choosing the stories during open submissions, and I read a huge amount of slush personally in addition to the vetted stories selected by my amazing slush readers. I try to give personal rejections when I can, and then I send the cream of the crop up to Mur for her to make the final decisions (which are very tough). I also solicit authors to send us stories outside of open submissions; as much outreach as we try to do, our slush does not have as many stories by marginalized authors as we’d like to be able to choose from. Once we have our stories, Mur and I figure out which ones go in which issue, and then we edit! Some stories take more editing than others, but I’ve found the back-and-forth very rewarding and so have the writers. We end up with an even better version of the story they submitted. Then it’s time to write some story introductions and editorials and put together the issue. As I said, we publish both fiction and nonfiction, and Karen and I like to pair stories with nonfiction pieces when possible, so our table of contents is meant to represent a cohesive reading experience, cover to cover. I review the issue to make sure formatting didn’t get lost in the ebook conversion or typo goblins haven’t wreaked unforeseen havoc. And I’ve left out so many little tasks; you never know what goes into publishing a magazine until you’re behind the scenes yourself. The October issue is ready to come out, which means it’s time to start editing stories for the January issue. It’s a lot of work, but I am so proud of all the stories we publish. I hope we inspire more fun SFF fiction, whatever your definition of “fun” (ours, as anyone who reads us knows, is not what you might think at first).

CS: What’s it like working for Mighty Mur?

SP: Mur is a wonderful boss because she respects me and appreciates the work I do (both privately and publicly). We don’t always see eye-to-eye on stories, but she listens to my reasons for championing a story, and sometimes she will accept a story she doesn’t feel as passionately about because she recognizes that if I love it so much, a certain subset of readers will too. In the end, she makes the decision that is best for the magazine. I frequently look to her for guidance since she has far more experience in the industry, but just as often she comes to me and Karen for our advice. I don’t know what it’s like at other magazines, but I feel that Mothership Zeta is a real team effort rather than one head honcho calling the shots on everything. Mur trusts both of us to handle our respective duties, leaving her to focus on the Big Decisions of running a magazine. Plus we’re all friends, so we’re constantly chatting in our little Google Hangout about our triumphs and woes in between talking magazine stuff. It’s a fun virtual office for our fun magazine.

CS: What are your standards and strategies as a reviewer for Lightspeed?

SP: I do not review books by white men. For the last several years, Strange Horizons has been publishing their “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing, and it was eye-opening for me to see how disproportionately books by women and people of color are reviewed, so when I took the position, I decided to do my small part in shifting the balance. To his credit, John Joseph Adams (a white man!) completely supported my decision, and I must admit I felt a small sense of pride in being a positive part of the 2015 SF Count. I have been trying to review more books by women of color, as too often diversity can manifest as “white women + men of color.” In each one of my quarterly columns, I review at least one young adult book because I believe there are great books being published for young adults that adult readers of Lightspeed should know about. When the announcement of the Locus Awards finalists revealed that people seemed unaware of the many women publishing books actually written for and marketed to young adults, I scrapped half my November column and decided to review three young adult books by women of color. Because I could. I have no idea whether anyone reads my column or whether I have any influence on the reading habits of the general Lightspeed readership, but I want to use my power for good. I only publish reviews of books I can recommend, even if I had some criticisms or I felt that it simply wasn’t for me but recognized that other readers would appreciate it more. My goal is always to increase your TBR pile by diversifying your reading.

CS: What did you learn from Nancy Kress?

SP: Nancy Kress had many insightful things to say during our two weeks together at Taos Toolbox; I want to go back and read all my notes now! She made me think about worldbuilding in new ways, providing so many important questions regarding law and economy and technology. She identified my tendency to sometimes undercut the power of a sentence by not ending it on the strongest word (though sometimes it’s deliberate). But the one thing I took away from her that I always remember when writing is her Swimming Pool Theory, where she uses a swimmer kicking off from the end of a pool as a metaphor for how much exposition and inaction you can get away with. Just as a stronger kick will allow a swimmer to coast further without having to exert themselves again, a strong narrative hook (KABOOM!!) buys you a few more hundred words of dithering or flashbacks before you must move the action forward again. And of course the converse is true: if you begin with a light hook, then you will lose the reader quicker if you don’t keep swimming.

CS: Same question for Ted Chiang.

SP: I’d be lying if I said the opportunity to study with Ted Chiang didn’t influence my decision to attend Clarion. We got Ted right after Kelly Link, and as we discovered, every instructor had a different vibe and focus. One of the most important things I got from Ted was the vocabulary of expressionistic vs. naturalistic modes, the idea that a story will generally fall more into one or the other and being conscious of what mode you’re working in tells you how much you can get away with and what the reader will expect. If you’re writing hard science fiction full of equations and data (naturalistic), it will be difficult for the reader to swallow the sudden appearance of sentient melting lollipops that emerge from cavities (expressionistic). I also learned about time travel using wormholes and relativity, which was a trip, let me tell you.

CS: Same question for Mary Robinette Kowal.

SP: Look, I could write a whole essay about what I’ve learned from Mary Robinette Kowal, both as a writer and a human being. She’s one of my role models in the industry, and I believe that if you are not reading her fiction and following her on social media, you are doing yourself a disservice. That woman can teach you more about writing in ten minutes with a boot than most writers could teach you in a day. I’ve had the privilege of studying with her a couple times, in her Short Story Intensive online workshop as well as at the Writing Excuses Retreat. The Short Story Intensive is hands-down the best workshop I’ve ever taken, and my main takeaway was the ability to outline. Whenever writers talked about outlining, I had envisioned very complicated outlines like the ones we did in high school to write papers, but it turns out that you can just write a list of things like “Pirates!” or “Sandeep reveals a terrible secret” or whatever. With this newfound power (and the various structural tools Mary gave us surrounding the MICE Quotient [now renamed MACE]), I was able to go from a basic thumbnail of a story Saturday night to a first draft Sunday afternoon! (Funny story: I actually forwarded Mary a rejection for that story because the editor specifically praised how well structured it was, and she deserved some of the credit. She was appropriately pleased.) I now had the confidence and experience to be able to draft a story from an outline, which came in very handy at Clarion, not to mention when writing my novel.

CS: Same question for Cat Rambo.

SP: I took a six-week online workshop with Cat, which was a good reintroduction to the basics after being out of the fiction game for a while. I also took a couple two-hour workshops on specific topics, and I particularly appreciated the one on description since I consider description one of my weak points as a writer. Both in that workshop and the six-week workshop, she had so many great tips, like the use of specific verbs to paint a picture of a character and choosing key sensory details to evoke a larger picture in the reader’s mind. She emphasized moving beyond visuals and using touch and smell to draw the reader in.

CS: How does your work in speculative theater overlap with your work in print?

SP: I don’t think there’s a direct overlap, but my work in theater was the creative outlet I needed for a few years before I decided to focus on publishing fiction. I’ve spoken about applying playwriting techniques in fiction before, but to be honest, it’s not something I consciously do when writing, though because one of my strengths is dialogue, sometimes my scenes do tend to be very dialogue-driven, relying on witty banter, and I naturally try to avoid having too many “sets” because I don’t want to describe new locations. One of the clearest ways it’s overlapped, however, is that my experience producing The Pub from Another World, a night of short science fiction/fantasy/horror plays chosen from open submissions, was my first taste of what it’s like to be an editor, which I discovered I enjoy quite a bit.

CS: What’s on the horizon for Sunil Patel?

SP: As I said, I’ve really enjoyed editing, both for Mothership Zeta and for Lightspeed’s People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! Personal Essays, and I hope to do more of it in the future. Pending a successful Kickstarter, I will be editing a special POC Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination issue, but in addition to that, I’ve assembled an anthology of reprint flash fiction by writers of color that I’m very excited to share with people via the Kickstarter. Meanwhile, I have all these Clarion stories to revise, and I continue to work on my young adult superhero novel with a goal of submitting it to agents next year. Plus I have at least eight stories coming out in magazines and anthologies between now and April, including my first appearance in Lightspeed! But I may be most excited about my second appearance in Book Smugglers for a story called “You May Perhaps Be Interested in My Thoughts on Space Questers Seasons 1-5” that will be in the Quarterly Almanac in December. It might be the story I was put on this planet to write because no one else would write it but me. It’s fun and creepy and there’s a telepathic dog thing. What more could you ask for?