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April 14, 2007

Sidelighted Scabs
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:52 AM *

In re the two “Scab” posts, linked from Sidelights, the original rant that folks are responding to is here:

When you read Dr. Howard V. Hendrix’s original post you’ll find it has a lovely phrase in it to describe those of us who are putting our work, for free, on the internet: Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch.

That so cries out to be made into a tee-shirt.

Comments on Sidelighted Scabs:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 09:13 AM:

Anyone who wants to read my words for free can start here and kinda mouse around.

#2 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Thanks for the links Jim!
Oh,and I totally want that t-shirt.

#3 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:13 AM:

Oh my goodness. That's amazing.

It makes me want to put something substantial up on the internet for free in celebration of pixel-stained techno-peasanthood.

#5 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Ah, I see the black shirts are kind of hosed. I'll fix that this afternoon if I get a chance.

#6 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:25 AM:

I'm afraid the tee-shirt is outside of my current capabilities, but here's an lj icon/avatar if anyone wants it.

(It would look a lot cooler if I had photoshop on this machine, but alas, I had to rely on the gimp and its superlimited text-manipulating powers).

#7 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:27 AM:

...sorry, David Moles beat me to the punch while I was posting. With real shirts, even, so ten points to him.

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:34 AM:

I have to get that t-shirt. Now I just have to decide which one. Btw, if you know nothing of Hendrix's asinine rant, the phrase could apply to all manner of high-tech low-prestige jobs, like (just as an example) mine.

In response to the Particles...of course Hendrix has no idea how internet "publication" works. He refuses to participate in it. He's off in his Luddite paradise, maintaining willful ignorance.

And: since when is SFWA a union? Sure looks like a trade association to me. Independent contractors can band together like that for benefits too expensive to purchase independently (like lawyers), but since when does that make it a union? If I'm wrong and it IS a union, when did that happen? I was a little startled by that characterization.

#9 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:37 AM:

I agree with Scalzi. It needs tightening up. Dr. Hendrix needs an editor before he's really ready to slag off almost everyone who works with computers. Maybe we should send him over to Usenet. I hear it's a good place to get experience with insults.

#10 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Annalee, thanks for the icon!

As for myself, I do have freebies on the net. Well, okay, I got paid for them as work-for-hire originally (which kinda allows me to claim a semi-pro status since they were college newspaper opinion articles written to bring in side cash during my stint in grad school). But they're on the net now and easily found in the Portland State Vanguard archives. If anyone wants to read old political rants from 2004.

#11 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:56 AM:

If I wasn't in the middle of moving (from SF to Boston) I would go mix up some pixels and vectors in PS and Illustrator for you.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 11:06 AM:

#5 Ah, I see the black shirts are kind of hosed.

The buttons are also kinda hosed.

#13 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Someone in the lj thread has set up another t-shirt shop here.

#14 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 11:55 AM:

Black shirts and buttons fixed.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Anyone want a $5-off coupon on their first purchase at CafePress?

Send me your email address. First five folks get the coupon.

Write to

-- JDM

#16 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 12:34 PM:

I am so tempted to mail Dr. Hendrix a door knob, with which to be bonked on the gluteus maximus, exeunt ...

#17 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 12:38 PM:

those of us who are putting our work, for free, on the internet: Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch.

I... he... how...

oh. my. head.

I posted a link to Bounty Hunters over on the livejournal thread.

Maybe it'll help. maybe not.

#18 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 12:41 PM:

You know my favorite part of that phrase? "Technopeasant." To describe people comfortably using technology. Yeah, I love that.

#19 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Some years ago I heard Emma Bull use the term "technopagan", IIRC to describe herself. I had to ask her to clarify if it was supposed to indicate a Pagan who was technologically inclined, or someone who was a "pagan" with regard to the common use of technology. (The former, as it turned out.) I think I was partly confused by my recollection that MZB was Pagan and didn't get along very well with tech stuff.

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 03:16 PM:

I have only one thing to say about this...

"Can't stop the signal."

#21 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 03:18 PM:

I'm a non-writer, and I'll speak as a reader of SF.

I have heard of every one of the "webscabs" who John Scalzi itemizes, and have bought books - those actual old-fashioned hard-reality paper books - by most of them. (I still haven't got around to reading any of Scalzi's books, online or off, and Blindsight is still on my "to get to" list - mainly because it sounds like I'll want to go buy several of Watt's previous novels either before or right after reading it.)

Gosh, Charlie alone, by posting Acclerando and Concrete Jungle online has so far induced me to purchase 6 hardcover copies of his books (2 as gifts) and 2 paperbacks. He sure is losing out - oh Charlie, you poor poor bastard of a webscab.

I had never heard of Howard Hendrix or any of his books until he turned up mentioned in these rants. I'm pretty sure I'd never have heard of him or any of his books even if no SF writer had ever posted their books online. Just who is losing out here?

#22 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Furthermore, and in conclusion, I can't type worth a damn this morning. More coffee, damn it!

#23 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 04:01 PM:

I discovered Charles Stross on the web--and his work, bought fair and square at a real bookstore, has gotten me through two surgeries and will probably see me through radiation treatments come May.
Bless you and keep putting the work online. I'll keep buying the more portable version :-) :-)

#24 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 04:35 PM:

My cunning plan to undermine the SFWA through Web-Scabbing has been undone by the wise Dr. Hendrix. It's a fair cup, Guv'nor.

Jokes aside: As a longtime webscab, I should offer a serious response to the good doctor's accusations.

Dr. Hendrix, I... BWAA HA HA HAAA!!
But seriously, I think that... HWAAA HA HA HA HA HAAA...

#25 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Gee, haven't I gone through all this before? Back in the '60s, one s-f fan (let's call her "A") started having sex with practically all the eligible (and some not-really-eligible, IMHO) males in the local fan/social group, and more than a few people expressed indignant outrage -- much like Dr. Hendrix -- apparently because she wasn't holding out for payment in the form of marriage (or at least $25 for All Night). Frankly, I think the concept of an Ideology that holds that you can't to anything just for Fun or because you feel like doing it, and that the value of everything must be measured by money, has been rejected by most people for decades.

And, hey Dr. Hendrix, though practically computer-illiterate, I read Accelerando in the free OnLine version. Didn't like it because it wasn't a type of s-f that appeals strongly to me, but was sufficiently impressed that I checked-out Stross' first "Family" series book, and immediately bought it (and the following ones, as they were published) -- in hard-cover, at full price. (Note that I'm a Thrifty Old Geezer who still feels a bit uncomfortable about buying (*ghasp*) _new_ mass-market paperbacks.) And Scalzi's free online writing has caused me to buy two of his pbs, though they're still in the "Read Real Soon Now" pile.

#26 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Actually, I do have more to say. Starting with the fact that I don't recall ever seeing anything by Hendrix on the tables of either Larry Smith Bookseller or Edge Books. Which is no guarantee that they aren't there -- both dealers have a lot of books on the table that I skim over, and I welcome correction if I'm wrong -- but I don't think they get much push, and this is from booksellers whose primary markets are closely targeted to SF readers.

So, I got curious and went over to Amazon... and nearly peed my pants laughing. Take a look at the very first customer review here. Perhaps Mr. Hendrix should have kept his head down and his mouth shut!

#27 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 07:02 PM:

My mental image of this whole debate is of technopeasants digging in the electric muck, talking amongst ourselves in Python-drag-falestto and trying to explain collective activity to a monarchist that some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at.

Free stuff, if good, creates good word-of-mouth. Ain't no better advertising than word-of-mouth. It sells books in the long run.

Re: #19

I first heard "technopagan" in a season one Buffy episode (a demon imprisoned in a book gets scanned into a computer, hijinx ensue). All roads lead to Sunnydale.

#28 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Re: "Technopagan"-- I remember the term being used about...twenty years ago now? Knew a group who cast the circle over their BBS. Let the people in CA and the people in NJ work together on the same ritual.

Neopagans tend to be early adaptors.

#29 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Oh, what the hell, I'll post it. Mr. Hendrix's publisher has a free sample excerpt of one of his books online at:

The writing strikes me as very much the kind of thing that you would like if you're the kind of person who likes that kind of thing.

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Don Fitch (25):

"Gee, haven't I gone through all this before? Back in the '60s, one s-f fan (let's call her "A") started having sex with practically all the eligible (and some not-really-eligible, IMHO) males in the local fan/social group, and more than a few people expressed indignant outrage -- much like Dr. Hendrix -- apparently because she wasn't holding out for payment in the form of marriage (or at least $25 for All Night)."
I think I heard about that from Ted White.

I don't know whether that episode is analogous to our present situation with online writing. It might be. In the meantime, it's an interesting observation.

I've noticed that younger people who've heard about "free love" back in the 60s tend to think it meant "free" as in "ad libitum". They miss the other sense the term definitely had: "free" as in "without charge or obligation".

It's odd. I remember a time when saying "she just gives it away" was a condemnation: if she had any self-respect or self-control, she'd charge for it, the way all the other women did -- by exacting direct transfer payments, or commitments to her future support. If you accepted the assumptions of that system, by having sex purely for the sake of having it, a woman devalued the commodity.

Thing is, most people have sex, and it's seldom less than good; but few people write fiction that's worth reading. This bears more thinking.

In the meantime, a quick poll:

1. Prior to this occasion, have you ever heard an officer of SFWA say something you thought was palpably insane?

2. Has that happened to you more than once?

3. If so, what year did it first happen to you?

4. Visualize this: You've gotten to the airport with nothing to read during a transcontinental flight. The convenience store has a very small selection of books, and your plane is about to start loading. There are only two books you haven't read. One's a new and very promising-looking book by Neil Gaiman (or John Scalzi or Tim Powers or Naomi Novik or whoever floats your boat). The other is a cringeworthy Mary Sue epic that's obviously a novelization of group politics and romantic angst in the author's local goth/SCA/RPG community.

The second book is priced $7.00 lower than the first. Which one do you buy?

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 08:30 PM:

so, basically, Hendrix is saying "why buy the cow, when you can drink the milk for free"?

I eagerly await his "be a lamb in the kitchen, and a tiger in the bedroom" rant.

#32 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 08:59 PM:

It would appear that Dr. Hendrix has not so much screwed the pooch as sodomized the ostrich.

#33 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 09:52 PM:

Re: #30: I can't respond to the first three poll questions, but in response to #4: I would purchase the first book. In fact, I've been known to specifically hold off on purchasing books of that sort -- popular books which will be in airport bookstores, by authors I enjoy reading -- *specifically* so that I can buy them and read them when I get trapped at an airport for longer than expected.

And if I didn't have the extra $7 to buy that book, and if there were no interesting magazines available, I'd spend my money on a pen instead, and entertain myself on the flight by editing the SkyMall catalog.*

*Why yes, I have gotten this desperate for entertainment. The "Get the Vocabulary of a Harvard Graduate!" page is particularly juicy pickings.

#34 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Teresa @ 30
here we go--
1. yes
2. yes
3. 2004
4. My worst nightmare-but I buy the expensive book.
G. Jules @ 33-editing Skymall is a great way to ease my fear-if I'm puzzling the their bizarre syntax,I'm not hyperventilating.

#35 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:00 PM:

G Jules,

Are you sure it isn't "Get the Vocabulary of that Harvard Graduate!"?

#36 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Laid a big egg.

I haven't designed a t-shirt, but I have changed my LJ icon. It took me a little while to figure out what was so familiar about the rhythm of "wikicliki, sick-o-fancy, jerque-du-cercle of a networking..."

To see it, go to the site linked from the main post and search on "TNH".

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:03 PM:

You mean I'm not the only one who edits the SkyMall catalogue? We are such geeks.

#38 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Teresa at 30:

Yes; frequently; I don't recall but it wasn't as recently as last week -- and of course I would pay the extra $7 for the book I know I will enjoy, or alternately, if I'm feeling cheap, I might not buy a book at all.

Life is short -- why read bad books?

Jim, thank you so much for the link.

#39 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 10:49 PM:

A year or so ago, I made numerous business trips to California. On one trip that lasted far longer than I wanted, I ran out of reading material right after the start of my return transcontinental flight. I horrified my seatmate, who spent her time making PowerPoint presentations and moving numbers around in Excel, by systematically working through the Sudoku puzzles and the crosswords before turning in desperation to marking up SkyMall.

We should have a convention.

#40 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:35 AM:

I want one that says "Pixel-stained Technopeasant WENCH"

For the survey
I don't know, but I was on Compuserve at the time...
The expensive one of course


#41 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 02:37 AM:

Mary Kay @ 40

OK, this is for you

Sorry about the label, I'll fix it later.

#42 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 03:41 AM:

This is interesting. I've known Howard for what must be almost twenty years. I've had a lot of good discussions with him. I buy his books and so far have enjoyed them. I've seen him several times on panels at Potlatch where he was outstanding -- solid analysis delivered with nothing held back and with excellent comic timing. Sad that it's come to this.

#43 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 04:22 AM:

1-3: Moot; not being a writer, I've not ever noticed or heard an SFWA officer say anything up until now.
4: Well, it depends - if the latter book has hawt Goth chicks then... aww, who am I kidding? I'll buy the writer I know and trust, or have heard great things about. (Moreover, I'll feel secretly grateful that I've been forced into buying their latest oeuvre now instead of waiting.)

#44 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 06:50 AM:

I was just about to make a "Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Wretch" t-shirt on CafePress... when I realized it wouldn't be fair.

Dr. Hendrix coined the expression; he has the right to sell the t-shirt and make money from his creation.

#45 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 06:55 AM:

I can't be the only one who keeps having visions of their grandfather shouting at the neighborhood kids to get the hell off his lawn.

#46 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 07:16 AM:

"I can't be the only one who keeps having visions of their grandfather shouting at the neighborhood kids to get the hell off his lawn."

well thanks for bringing that traumatic memory back.

of course its not your fault that the neighborhood kids were satanists, and the hell was a direct eruption of Hades, and my Grandfather was a two-fisted Warlock.

#47 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 08:28 AM:

I'm declaring Monday April 23rd International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, on which everyone gives away something instead of selling it, in honour of Dr Hendrix.

More details here.

#48 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 11:12 AM:

To answer our hostess's questions @30, yes, yes, 2001 (which was -- possibly not coincidentally -- also the first year I heard a SFWA officer say anything at all), and the more expensive book, of course. While I *will* read the cereal box, the toothpaste tube, etc., I try to keep the stuff I actually buy to read above that level.

I try not to run out of entertainment on flights, but when I do, I am another SkyMall-editing type.

#49 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:10 PM:

For the little survey... 1-3 I can't answer off the top of my head, since I don't keep up with who serves as officers of SFWA. I wouldn't be surprised if I had, via cons, but I can't honestly answer those anything but "I dunno".

But 4: Neil Gaiman (or just about anyone I've read and enjoyed) at $15 wins over J Random Author With Easily Recognized Poor Story at $8, heck yes. In fact, if I came across a book I hadn't read by Author I Like, I'd likely buy it anyhow, even if I'd brought reading material, which I generally do in quantity.

In fact, this loops back around to the original topic. One reason I do like ebooks is for travel. I prefer paper books. I find them easier on the eyes, easier on my reading speed vs page-turning timing, and, well, satisfyingly solid. But when I was traveling from Cali to visit folks in the Midwest, generally with layovers, I loved having ebooks to save space in carryon, as I go through an average sized paperback in 2-3 hours.

Some of the ebooks I brought with me on said trips were freebies from the Baen library. I went on to later purchase quite a lot of ebooks and paper books directly due to stuff I'd read from there, including paper copies of said freebies.

Putting one's stuff online so people can read it is SMART. It does no more to damage income than having one's books in the library. Yes, I've also bought books I originally read at the library. When I have money, I buy books. I could build an entire house out of books at this point, I think. I have even been known to buy books used and then deliberately go out and buy them again new so that it gets counted as a new sale for the author. (The used ones go back to a used store as a rule at that point, if you're wondering.)

I don't understand how anyone can not know that samples = sales. Why do they think companies pay people to stand around in grocery stores offering food to shoppers?

#50 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Teresa @30: OK I'm not responding to the entire survey, but re: books: I'd buy both. Surely I can't be the only person whose Odd Shelf consists of laughably, horribly, entertainingly bad fiction--can I? I'd read it, laugh for hours, and then shelve it right next to The Texas-Israeli War.

Then I'd move onto the new Neil Gaiman/Tim Powers/Paul Park/Jo Walton (hi Jo)/Kelly Link/Caitlin Kiernan/Poppy Z. Brite/etc. etc. etc. spectacular, and SAVOR it.

Of course I've already outed myself as the woman who can't stop watching Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee for the snark value, so perhaps I should just let myself out...

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:36 PM:

Jo (47): Will do. I'm already giving away the Howard Hendrix Memorial Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini Icon.

You know what my problem is? I give away my writing all the time. I keep the copyright, of course, but I put it out for free. I suppose I could turn off Making Light's ads for one day, but I don't think our ad brokers would understand.

#52 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Re: Teresa's questions.

I only know one person with any position in SFWA, and I went to high school with him. I've never heard him say anything palpably insane. What Hendrix wrote seems mightily stupid, but I'm not ready call it insanely stupid yet.

Okay, I'm really not being contrary on this, but I don't reflexively reach for the established author's book. I read the first few pages of the nameless goob's book. If it manages to grab my attention, then I buy it, because more than likely, it will be unavailable the next time I'm inclined to buy a book. The Gaiman book will be cluttering up bookshop shelves until my grandchildren are finally crashing out with advanced neuro decay.

#53 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:42 PM:

I assume that Howard Hendrix insists his publisher not let their publicity department give away any copies of his books to reviewers. After all, giving away books "for free in an attempt to market and publicize them" is wrong.

#54 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 12:52 PM:

So, uh, where does the President of SFWA stand on "webscabs"?

#55 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 01:01 PM:

I'm stuck quoting Meg Ryan in Joe Versus the Volcano: "I have no response to that."

#56 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 01:17 PM:

What I like most about the rant is that Hendrix simultaneously takes the side of the united workers against THE MAN. i.e. scabs, union-imagery. And goes to great efforts to indicate that he is a gentleman land-owner, and above them. (The amount of comments about his property, and calling the peasants wretched.)

My mom (actually, in this case, it was G. Orwell) told me there'd be days like today. It's a good thing too, or attempting to resolve the author's internally conflicting imagery might have given me a headache.

#57 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 01:29 PM:

Scott, #56: Excellent point! There is some internal conflict in that set of arguments, isn't there?

For those who might be interested, the story has now hit fandom_wank. Some of the comments there are priceless... and someone has pointed out that Neil Gaiman also falls under Mr. Hendrix's very individual definition of "scab". It would be interesting to see his response.

#58 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Jo: That's a fabulous idea. I might actually drag out and link to a couple of the few good things I wrote years ago, before my muse lit out for parts unknown.

#59 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Scott, #56: Excellent point. I have been thinking about whether I would ever consider it relevant or moral to use 'peasant' as an insult, and had decided that it's only relevant when it's a matter of debatable fact. If someone is claiming that tactic X gives them power or puts them in charge, and I am arguing that it does quite the reverse, then 'peasant' is a vivid summary. In practice, I might avoid it because the factual arguments should stand on their own, and the word 'peasant' shouldn't be taken as an insult in itself.

It is probable that whatsisname thinks Web-people are claiming to be new aristocrats (Supportable. Observable SFran/SFic contingent claiming to be the new order in economy, society, consciousness and occasionally evolution.) and is trying to rebut in the way I just outlined. Actually, I guess he's trying to claim that Web-people are increasing their profits but decreasing SFnal profits overall; boy, this is like the music arguments writ tiny, isn't it?

I am more interested in his opening and abandoned salvo about moving private consciousness into public, and the damages thereof. I would like to see some details of how he thinks this is damaging, because it is so comfortable for some of us to do it that we probably haven't considered possible losses. Surely it is one of the strengths of SF not only to trumpet good futures but to warn us against terrible ones!

Besides, there are interesting arguments left from the battle between writing and memory about what was lost when writing won. I have not read Empires of the Word, but it cites some sutras about this.

#60 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Oh, good lord. Giving something away for free is a time-honored way to build a customer base for your product. So you can, you know, COMPETE with your peers. He seems to be totally skipping over that bit. Do you suppose he splits up his royalty checks among the SFWA membership, or does he perhaps use them to feather his personal nest?

#61 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Here, I made a free image of pixel-stained technopeasants, help yourself if you're interested.

#62 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Mary Dell @ 61

Oh. hell. I did one quick experiment in Photoshop last night, and posted it for Mary Kay, just because of the serendipity of her wanting a Wench, and me having just finished one. I was figuring I could do up something better today for a TechnoPeasant image, maybe something good enough to use as a badge for the upcoming Day. And just before starting I reloaded the discussion thread and found your posting and the image. Much nicer than what I had in mind.

Seriously, I think you should offer that image to Jo Walton as a badge for sites participating in the day. I'd put it up on my site, if you did.

#63 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 11:07 PM:

For anyone who cares, in a follow-up missive Hendrix literally says, "why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?". It's here, third paragraph past the intro.

#64 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 11:31 PM:

Bruce @ #62 - Thanks, I'm glad you like it. Where is yours published? The more, the merrier! John Scalzi's got one up on his site as well.

Anyone is welcome to use mine for any purpose (as specified in its Creative Commons license, yay CC!). I'd be delighted if Jo Walton ended up adopting it for IPSTPD, of course, and I posted a link to it on the livejournal thread about same. Heck, I posted it to Whatever, too; I have no shame.

#65 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Where is yours published?

um, posted, I mean. Although it's all the same thing nowadays...damn kids and their damn internet...

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 11:47 PM:
#63 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 11:07 PM:

For anyone who cares, in a follow-up missive Hendrix literally says, "why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?". It's here, third paragraph past the intro.

Take a bow, Greg London. You called it.
#67 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 12:19 AM:

David Weber is a bit less of a technopeasant thanks to the money I've spent on his books thanks to the tempting free samples in the Baen Free Library. I know it's a tough concept, but people buy things that they've tried and liked. Free stuff = sales.

#68 ::: Azalais ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 12:23 AM:

Oh goodness. I am one of Howard's biggest fans, but I'm EMBARRASSED.

#69 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Teresa (30)

"I think I heard about that from Ted White. "

I had more of an LArea composite in mind, but yes, Ardis would certainly fit in.

"Thing is, most people have sex, and it's seldom less than good; but few people write fiction that's worth reading. This bears more thinking."

Yes, particularly given differing opinions of the definition of "worth reading". Given what I consider a reasonable level of competence (more common now than it used to be, I think) I'm less picky than many people, and tend to read not-especially-admirable works for entertainment when I'm not in the mood for intense concentration. (Historical Mysteries, mostly -- best when the writer has done proper homework, still possessing a kind of morbid attraction when crawling with nits.)

"1. Prior to this occasion, have you ever heard an officer of SFWA say something you thought was palpably insane?"


"2. Has that happened to you more than once?"

Yes. I suppose the Law of Averages dictates that at least one of them must have never said anything I'd consider crazy, but convincing evidence is lacking. They are people.

"3. If so, what year did it first happen to you?"

About a year before the SFWA was Formally Established as an Organization.

"4. [airport books choice]"

I'd pick a familiar & respected author, regardless of price. If a new tool breaks before you've finished the job, it wasn't worth the purchase price, no matter how cheap it was.

#70 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 01:28 AM:

Clew #59:
To be fair to the man... he did make his pejorative intent very clear by commenting about their filth and wretchedness. Outside of the current context, peasant, like any word can be made insulting just by saying it with intent to insult (even without aid from irony). Should you use peasant that way? I dunno, should you insult people at all?
See also: The history of Europeans in the Americas long list of referents for Africans in the Americas.

As for public display of private thought... as best I can tell, (back in Hendrix context) the things he's talking about are widely distributed conversations (and, separately the web-publishing stuff), not the self-exposing variety of webloggery. I think there's a lot less space for morally appropriate complaint about the wider range that conversation takes these days. (Etymology of forum and all that). (Maybe there's a point to be made about not being able to "go to the forum" without paying money, but that seems to be the opposite of Hendrix's concern.)

The thing that seems to have gotten lost in writing, seems less, about the inherent value of memory, than it does the inherent value of the public domain. Gaiman is a superstar because his story architecture and story craft are both, you know, good. In a world still telling stories by mouth... well it's hard to say whether he'd have told his own stories or he would have been railroaded into telling the old tales. (Play FREEBIRD!)

#71 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 02:15 AM:

Dr. Hendrix may not know what he's talking about, but he sure does express himself with verve.

I have to admit: I kinda like the way he says his thing.

#72 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 03:09 AM:

Teresa @30

In answer to 4, I'll grab the Gaiman (even though I'll probably find another copy once I get home... I tend to grab new books by my favourite authors as soon as I hear about them). I have to admit, I tend to buy books based more on whether I've run across something by an author before, or on whether my friends have recommended this particular author. The extra $7 won't bother me.

If the choice was between a book I *knew* I owned, and a new (but 'orrible) one, I imagine I would have to ponder longer. I'd probably duck out and go for something else entirely - a pencil and a crossword magazine.

Just as a coincidence, I bought my first Charles Stross book in an airport bookshop, along with another three. I still haven't read one of them, but the Stross is starting to look a bit battered around the edges ("Iron Sunrise" - greatly recommended).

As for the other three - I only tend to hear about the officers of the SFWA *as* officers of the SFWA when they've done something daft in public; I'm in a different country and I'm not a professional writer, so I don't really have any axe to grind.

Lee @57

Why am I not surprised that made it onto fandom wank? I mean, it has all the hallmarks of something they'd *love* over there. Possibly someone should mention it to Mr (Dr?) Hendrix, just to see whether he does the classic bit of F_W idiocy - namely turning up on F_W to comment and defend his position.

#73 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 04:29 AM:

Teresa @30

Q4. Always the known author, even if the good is 100 pages and the bad 700 pages. Even if I already have read it. Be like choosing between a silk and a burlap shirt: the bad book is going to prickle on the first chapter and chafe raw by the last.

I've had this happen- only one book on a trip long enough for three*. The first read was for fun, with only a mild attempt to slow down (when I remembered to, I subvocalized the dialogues). In the second read I also did plot analysis: catching foreshadows, noting the pacing. For the third read, a technical analysis: word lengths vs. character descriptions, paragraph dissections, etc. Entertaining and educational.

* this before I got my Palm: cargo capacity several novels.

#74 ::: Darkrose ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 07:12 AM:

Has there been any response from Eric Flint on being called a scab?

#75 ::: Therese Norén ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 08:02 AM:

Darkrose: Yup.

More on Baen's Bar, link in the second entry after that.

#76 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 08:07 AM:

Teresa @30 re: "free love"

Thank you. That clears up some comments a professor of mine made years ago when we were discussing the Old English lives of the saints. He started off by talking about how one saint, an ex-prostitute, "liked it so much, she gave it away."

I could tell the comment was supposed to be smarmy, but I had no idea why. I'd been puzzled about that, off and on, ever since.

Is there any doubt left that "wretch" was Mr. Hendrix's last-minute substitute for "slut"?

#77 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 08:08 AM:

"Substitution." Argh.

#78 ::: Fred Kiesche ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 08:08 AM:

Boy I hate to think how many books I have bought because I started off with a freebie.

There are numerous (very numerous) Baen editions. I got the Free Library version...bought a some cases bought a hardcover...and then PAID for an eBook, all to thank the author.

Charles Stross? Read the free version of Accelerando, bought the paperback, figured it was worth it and bought the hardcover. Bought several more hardcovers or trade paperbacks, based on that free read.

And that's just scratching the (electronic) surface.

Does this guy have a clue? Heck, if I found a pirated version of his books online, I'm not sure I'd go through the trouble of downloading them.

#79 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 08:36 AM:

Mary Dell @ 64

My TechnoPeasant is on my website, The Den of SpeakerToManagers.

You have to use the direct link just now; the website's just gone up and I don't have all the internal links installed (I blame the IRS, I only got my tax return done Saturday night).

#80 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Since praising Charlie Stross' technopeasantry seems to be the order of the day, I'll join in. I found out about Charlie by googling "Singularity" one day when I was in a mood to explore extropianism*. A quick check of his website resulted in links to the text of more than a dozen short stories; I read a couple (I can't even remember which ones now; I've read them all since), and resolved to check out his novels. I found a copy of "Singularity Sky"** at the library, enjoyed it immensely, and started buying more of his books. I've bought several hardbacks on publication, and I've been going through the backlist in the trade paperbacks.

Speaking of the library, I'd be very interested to hear Dr. Hendrix' view of an institution that provides free reading to anyone who can get a library card, and buys perhaps 1 or 2 copies of the average book per 10,000 population? Surely it's the greatest scab organization on Earth?

* It was a weird day.

** By reflexive circularity, the google hit that led me to him in the first place.

#81 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Question: Why do Luddites (self-professed, in Hendrix's case) write SF? Or read it, for that matter? There seem to be quite a few anti-progress SF writers and I always think they must be miserable at any gathering of their peers. Like sending an atheist to bible camp.

#82 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:09 AM:

Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood,
His feats I but little admire
I will sing the Atchievements of General Ludd
Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire
Brave Ludd was to measures of violence unused
Till his sufferings became so severe
That at last to defend his own Interest he rous'd
And for the great work did prepare

#83 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:38 AM:
Is there any doubt left that "wretch" was Mr. Hendrix's last-minute substitute for "slut"?

Ummmm... I'd say yes. The original context, "pixel-stained technopeasant wretch" is close enough to the rusting cliche "ink-stained wretch" that I took the former to be a clearly intentional play on the latter.

#84 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:47 AM:

"Charles Dodgson" @ 83: Okay, fair enough. The original may have been precisely what he meant to say, and the sluttish aspect of these wretches a separate issue.

#85 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:48 AM:

I suppose that, being technopeasants, we can claim to be the Hobdens of this world.

#86 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 10:37 AM:

#25 Don Fitch and #30 Teresa

"A kiss on the hand maybe quite continental,
but diamonds are a girl's best friend."

Ah, those old black and white movies made in the 50s. What wholesome values they portrayed. If only we could get Hollywood to be as clean and decent as they were back then.

#87 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Free e-books:
Find book. Print it out. Read itty bitty font that is the result of trying to make printout portable. Like book. Go buy actual and more portable book with readable font. Give printout to friend to lure them into reading author as well.

Free e-short fiction on websites:
Having become addicted to free fiction, visit website regularly - at least weekly, sometimes daily, or hourly - on the off-chance that more free fiction has appeared so I can get my fix. Hear about upcoming non-e book months in advance and place pre-order with Amazon. Tell friends about cool website full of free fiction and how clever and wonderful the author is.

Free sex w/o marriage:
I once decided the whole free love thing wasn't working out well for me, so I decided to postpone sex until [arbitrary relationship landmark]. I don't recall what landmark I was awaiting (not marriage or engagement; never really expected to go there). By the time we got to [arbitrary relationship landmark] I was bored and the relationship ended much like other ones had, except that there never had been any sex. I'm sure there's a lesson here.

Free dance things:
In 1998 I said "I will teach for free until we make money, then you can pay me." And the group grew, and it began to pay me a percentage. And as the group got bigger, the amount of money got bigger, and the group started to look really good on my resume. And then lots of other people started paying me to teach them too, and life was good, although not as good as if I could actually make a full-time living at it (but I have hopes that someday...)

Free milk:
Once upon a time, there was an e-cow which put some e-milk on the web, which I drank in a sparkly stream of electrons. I did not purchase the cow because (1) I could get the milk for free, and (2) I don't have the disk space to keep an e-cow. And then late at night in an April nor'easter I woke up and found that my broadband was out and I could not get any e-milk. And I really wanted some milk. So I had to go to the grocery store in the rain in my pajamas in the middle of the night. Now I buy milk every week and keep it in the fridge and have traded the e-cow for some magic e-beans.

#88 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Steve Buchheit @ 86

Those old movies did teach one enduring value: if you must be a whore, be sure to get top dollar and good fringe benefits.

What people in my generation* learned from this was: don't be a whore; the working conditions are bad no matter how good the pay.

* Some of us, anyway.

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Let's suppose that we make broadcast, give our work for free,
to those who might with pleasure read and understand
who would, we hope, give silver with kind and generous hand
to purchase the next volume of our work that they see.
'Well now', says angry Howard, 'that certainly don't suit me --
if other people do this, and it spreads throughout the land,
I might sell no more volumes and I wouldn't find that grand.'
So, just to make his point, and reach the audience he required,
he mongered a fine phrase and it went out over the net
(a process very simple, but of universal fetch);
and very soon he came to see the response that he'd inspired,
and began to wonder why he hadn't thought at first to vet
calling each of us a 'pixel-stained, technopeasant wretch'.

#90 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Steve Buchheit @ #86:
Ah, those old black and white movies made in the 50s. What wholesome values they portrayed. If only we could get Hollywood to be as clean and decent as they were back then.

(Off-topic, but...)

You got a robo-call complaing about the "raunchyness" of Hollywood from the Dove Foundation too?

(Got a call, didn't follow their script so the conversation flow didn't seem right, hung up on them, looked them up on the Internet. Yet another form of pnd scm which combines evasion of telemarketing/do-not-call laws and astroturfing with an interesting caller-response system to allow one telemarketer to handle multiple calls simultaneously...)

#91 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Mary Dell (#81): Why shouldn't Luddites think about the hideous cascade of techno-error threatening us all? SFnal futures must have total car-wreck fascination for them.

Also, the optimists might warn us away, and the pessimists will have the pleasure of having been right.

Scott (#70): Should we insult people? Well, okay, moralities differ, but mine will let me insult people for damaging choices if I think doing so will reduce harm; and won't let me insult people for ill-fortune, let alone ill-fortune that harms no-one but them.

Your summary of his trying to play both sides of a class war is pithier.

I wouldn't have thought of memory->writing as having especially affected the public vs private domain (although that's one of the things St Augustine's autobiography reflects, yes?). In the sutra examples, writing is damaging because it makes the word less flexible; the letter killeth. I was thinking about the difference between expecting performances of a work to be as similar as possible, vs. expecting them to reflect and illuminate the occasion.

...Killed viruses are useful in their own way, though...

#92 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 07:24 PM:

I note that has been registered in the last couple of days, but as yet there's nothing interesting to see behind that link.

Was thinking of registering it myself, and putting up a few links to people's work. I'm not a professional writer myself, so have no writing to contribute, but thought that what with being a professional web developer, putting up a free web site might be the best way to procede.


Back to the original topic, writers whose books I have bought as a direct consequence of their free books and stories include Charlie Stross, David Drake, Holly Lisle, Stephen Baxter and [S] L Viehl. Writers whose books I intend to buy in the future but I have already read online include David Weber and Mike Brotherton. Note that some of these writers aren't particularly well-known, and it is therefore highly unlikely I would seek their books out if I hadn't encountered their work through free giveaways. Here's the point: I don't think there is any material difference, either to myself or to the writers of the books and short stories I've read for free, between me reading the books online, and me borrowing a copy from a friend. I wonder whether anyone seriously objects to the practice of book lending...?

#93 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:14 PM:

Mary Dell -- Your poster exhorting the unification of the Technopeasantry is great. So I posted it on my ljay. You said we could ....

One information bit: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, from which cometh "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," is in glorious technicolor, not b&w.

Love, C.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Jules 92: so register

#95 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 09:39 PM:

#90 Bernard Yeh, didn't know there was a whole organization devoted to such. Never did get a call from them but mostly was going on the many TV Shakedown Artists, opps, I mean preachers. Those who rail against the evil sexuality of modern media and promote all those old songs and movies as wholesome paradigms. As someone who loves those old movies and songs, I keep wondering just what they heck these people are talking about. Sure, it's not as crass as some of the comptemporary stuff, and the degredation of women wasn't as blatent or used bad words, but those songs and movies aren't as wholesome as they think. Or maybe they have some even smaller subset I don't know about.

#93 Constance, I stand corrected. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is in glorious color. It's been a while since I've seen it (I have the DVD, along with many of her other movies). I guess I was using an old line and matching it up with GPB.

#96 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 01:20 AM:

I can't tell if some folks are being disengenuous or just suffering failures of imagination.

First, as Patrick's already commented, the original Luddites had concerns that are the direct lineal ancestors of modern concerns about the consequences of globalization and outsourcing on those on lower rungs of the economic ladder. They were being screwed over callously and unnecessarily.

More broadly, not all visions of the future are embracing. I happen to like the net world, but I'm not nearly foolish enough to claim that every bit that crosses my screen is a jewel of joy and wisdom. There's a lot of noise, hype, and clutter. There's a lot of self-puffery and wasted passion and tunnel vision about other ways of life and all the usual things humans do, and because it's all so immanent, it's possible to do great good but also great harm very quickly and thoughtlessly.

Why would someone who doesn't like a prevailing trend write sf? For the same reasons H.G. Wells, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, John Brunner, James Tiptree, Joanna Russ, and many others have written sf, reasons including but not limited to warning, extrapolation for the sake of study, investigation of some aspect of the human condition in unreal circumstances, cool stories and characters that call for exotic's not like sf was ever limited to triumphal accepting pageants glorifying the great futures awaiting us if only we make things more like they are.

I thought Dr. Hendrix's rant (and its follow-ups) were rude and foolishly ill-informed. But that doesn't mean that the right response is to broadly slam everyone who seems less enthusiastic about this afternoon's net fashions than we the uber-hip elite. Questions like "To what extent should the organization offer off-line channels of communication now, and how much effort should officials put into making sure that key stuff appears in them for actual consideration and discussion?" don't have self-evidently and uniquely correct answers, and not everyone who might benefit from that effort is ranting on publicly or even privately about the pixelstained wretches.

The fact that Dr. Hendrix is wrong on key points of both substance and effective rhetoric doesn't mean that everything is therefore automatically rosy and exactly the opposite of his concerns. And some of the more gratuitious free-wheeling counterslams are only demonstrating that there are reasons for people less tied to the net than, say, me to worry that they're being unnecessarily screwed over for not being neophilic in the particular way and to the particular degree one social circle deems most desirable.

#97 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 01:31 AM:

A bit of follow-up.

Not long ago I was involved in a discussion over at Terra Nova about voice communication in multi-player online games. I think it can be handy, but it also does away with a certain privacy that some gamers value a lot. As I mentioned there, I have a friend I play WoW with who suffered massive vocal cord damage a while back and can't speak above a whisper - she has to use text messages and such to order food for delivery, respond to conversations, and so on. When all communication in the game is in text, she's one of the gang; when everyone else is on voice, she stands out awkwardly just as she does in real life, and she hates that. The same applies to, for instance, women who wish to play male characters or vice versa, and people in the midst of gender reassignment (I know at least one such in WoW) whose voices currently are a mess from hormone shifts and all, and on and on. Voice makes things issues that had been able to lie fallow.

Well, some people feel that way about e-mail, instant messaging, web forums, and so on. Some people don't compose their thoughts well in small windows. Some people are very articulate but type messily and hate to have their errors on display. Some people have problems with unknown audiences: they can speak well in person when they see who they're addressing, and they can write well for "everyone interested in the subject who's reading the bulletin this time", but they have real trouble finding a suitable style for "some specific subset unknown to me and prone to changing roster without notice".

The list of considerations of this sort goes on and on. Now, you or I may think of any particular one "that's silly, get over it". But I would hope that few of us would actually insist that catering to our whim on such things be the price of participation on all important and timely matters. Or even just a bunch of them.

#98 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 06:24 AM:

For the record, I don't mind if some people don't like using the 'net. I myself won't do voice communication in games for several reasons (and yes, I play WoW, among other things, where it's considered pretty abnormal to NOT do so, though as I play on an RP server it's less of an issue). My dad's comfortable browsing web pages but hasn't really adapted to the idea of e-mail and insists on phone conversations. My grandfather doesn't mind email -- to him, it's just another type of letter, which he also writes -- but has some problems keeping his rather aged computer running because his tech savvy just doesn't include computers, so he tends to stick to snail mail and voice. Most of my friends are comfortable online, but I have a couple who prefer voice or in person conversations. This is all fine.

Where I draw the line is, of course, at the idea that somehow that makes those of us who take to the concept any more wrong than those who do not.

#99 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 08:47 AM:

Bruce Baugh @ #96: Thanks for your excellent answer to my Luddite/SF question. I asked it in all sincerity, as a person who was shown a mainframe terminal at the age of 10 and fell head over heels in love. The other day I got to tour a construction site full of giant generators and chillers and stuff, and was beside myself with glee. Many of my friends and family feel differently--my mother, for example, thinks the toaster is out to get her--but they tend to also dislike SF for the same reason they dislike technology.

Also, I'm not calling Hendrix a Luddite because he doesn't like the internet; he calls himself that in his followup. I take that to mean not just that he doesn't like the internet but that he is "One who opposes technical or technological change."* Therefore it seems that much of the world of SF would be an uncomfortable place, but I suppose we don't write in order to be comfortable.

*I got that def from, which also has a definition for "cromulent," so maybe that proves some people's point about the internet.

#100 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Mary Dell: I'm genuinely happy to have helped, then! It's really easy to get settled into one way of approaching a form and forget how many other uses it can have. Not, um, that I've ever had to had to explain the same thing to me on other subjects. And by "not" I mean "yes". :)

#101 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 11:24 PM:

I'd read the Mary Sue if I thought I might know who some of the people were.

#102 ::: Blue Tyson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 11:29 AM:

With regards to the survey, sounds ugly. In that situation I'd be pretty annoyed with myself for forgetting my palm with 200 odd selections of reading material on it.

Pass and listen to the headphones/tv or sleep I'd reckon.

#103 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Um. If you're not familiar with the song Blackleg Miner, this probably won't make any sense at all. Blackleg is the British equivalent of scab. If that helps.

Blackleg Writers

It's in the evening after work
In his old sweatpants and slogan'd shirt
The sf reader his duty shirks
And reads the blackleg writers.

Well, he pours his joe and takes his pick,
The websites open to his clicks
He'll heed no word of Doc Hendrix
But he reads the blackleg writers.

Oh, the intarweb's a terrible place,
The pixels streaming at your face,
And around the blogs a furious pace
Is set by the blackleg writers.

Don't click on that cyan link,
Or the craft of writing it will sink,
You'll break the quill and you'll dry the ink
Of all but the blackleg writers.

So vote for Hendrix while you might,
Don't wait until the End's in sight,
The future's looking far from bright,
Because of the blackleg writers.

#104 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 09:52 AM:

That's Mr. Wretch to you!

In honor of the day: The Queen's Mirror and On Suivi Point. Since Years and Years Ago, The Last Real New Yorker in the World.

Free, in our LJ, a story-in-progress.

#105 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2007, 11:23 AM:

#86 Steve Buchheit
>"A kiss on the hand...."
Don't forget

But stiff back, or stiff knees,
You'll stand straight at Tiffany's

Repression can't be all bad if it generates something like that.

The fracas:
I first found it hard to pay much attention to this; then again I love science fiction but (uniquely?) don't feel the need or ability with which to write it. I found the post unpleasant, but (perhaps because I'm not a writer, and often hate parts of the Web myself) was more irked by the Harshavic "jus' an old country lawyer"schaft of it.

And it doesn't seem surprising that someone who considers the web generally cliquish and nasty assumes that he won't be able to convince the rest of "us"---or find any reason to be less than uncivil. I'm reminded of those who profess to "hate the Gummint" and do their best once in power to make the rest of us hate it---but this might be inaccurate, it might be rather be an example of trying to communicate with the natives in their own language, perhaps using it as the occasion of a little Conradian letting-go.

Posting your work for free might be good for you and good for everyone else, or good for you and bad for everyone else, or either or both of the other two permutations...and different results might obtain in different cases. It should be possible to claim that this is a bad strategy overall without being rude and unpleasant, but that's no guaranty that that will be done so. Perhaps if you've found a good life in the High Sierras, you don't really care what other people think of your opinion or whether you actually convince them of it.... A pity about the second if you're right, the responsible thing to do would be to express it in a way designed to persuade, and stay in the game to at least have a platform from which to push it (and dodge the eggs and bricks)*.

*Please see the next-to-last verse of this version of "Where did you get that hat?":

#106 ::: Sharon Karpinski ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2007, 03:53 PM:

RE: Ardis Waters Evans

For the hell of it, I googled her today and came up with all these amazing speculations about her ancient history, when we were all extremely young, fairly foolish, and definitely immortal---or so we thought. I knew Ardis from 1962, when we both attended Shimer College, until her death in 1998. I shared a house with her for a couple of years overlapping the time when she met Ted White, who apparently has written at some length about her. I still maintain loose contact with her sisters. My son and her middle son, Aaron, have been lifelong friends.

Ardis was a unique woman, particularly for her time and place. She was a good writer, an excellent editor, a really gifted seamstress (the Altar Society of St. John's Cathedral in S.F. commissioned her to make Bishop Pike's vestments in the mid-60s---she and her son Christopher attended the banquet at which they were presented), a slap-dash but creative cook, a conscientous mother whose circumstances meant she frequently had to dance to pay the light bill, a decent self-taught artist, and, before she broke her wrist in four places and had to sell her tools for rent money, a pretty fair silversmith. Ardis, although a loving friend to many, also had a sharp tongue in her head. That verbal skill, combined with her wit and her powers of observation, made a number of people nervous, particularly men. It is a pity that, from the comments I've read, her history is apparently being told only from the point of view of her ex-lovers or, even worse, from those who lusted only from afar.

There was much more to the woman than simply that she was beautiful, liked sex, and acted upon the urge. She would have been a wonderful old lady, the kind the grandkids learn a great deal from while enjoying her love of life itself. I only wish she had made it to wise woman status. She would definitely have worn purple. Actually, she frequently did wear purple---it suited her hair.

A cautionary note: Ardis really did die of being poor, as her sister stated in her obituary some years ago. She contracted Hepatitis C at some point in her life---maybe from a lover, maybe from the several pints of blood given her when she had brain surgery a few years before the virus was identified as a blood-born, but silent disease. Unlike Naomi Judd (another Hep C sufferer who has a colorful past), Ardis had no funds or insurance for the liver transplant her doctors said that she had to have in order to live. She was denied Medicaid, and therefore coverage for the surgery, for years after her doctors considered her terminal without it. At the same time that Ardis struggled with the US medical system, Mickey Mantle, an alcoholic with liver cancer, and David Crosby, whose past included probably every recreational drug known to man or horse, acquired new livers in a matter of weeks after discovering that they were going to die. None of the folk who fondly recall Ardis' "promiscuity," some of who are fairly successful in and outside of science fiction, offered her any help. I am not just speaking of monetary assistance. Ardis needed a good lawyer and an educated health advocate in her last couple of years. By the time her family managed to find those people for her (the family on the whole is of very modest means) it was too late.

Ardis deserves a more objective place in fandom's history. I state that not just as a friend but as a working historian. When I made it to cronehood, a luxury Ardis never enjoyed, I went back to school. sk

#107 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Sharon, that's a fine and heartfelt piece of writing. I'm not sorry that you felt moved to write it, and I'm glad I got to read it.

I am, however, sorry that I failed to notice Don Fitch's mention of Ardis when he made it. If I had, I would have said "Ardis? That's not who I heard about from Ted." I'm sure I've got that right, because I subsequently met the person Ted did tell me about. Perfectly nice woman.

There's nothing wrong with liking sex a lot and doing something about it. I've had a number of friends whose totals I never wanted to hear counted up, though if I had I suppose I would have simply hoped they and their partners had made each other happy.

You had a friend you loved. When everything else is gone, that's the part I'll remember.

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