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August 31, 2015
Posted by Teresa at 08:46 PM * 32 comments

@BruceHolsinger, well-regarded historian and author of a couple of excellent mysteries starring John Gower, enlivened the day by inventing the hashtag #BeowulfTrump and posting examples of how it’s done:

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
Today’s Twitter mash-up is Donald Trump meets Beowulf. Let the festivities begin. #BeowulfTrump

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
The Spear-Danes? I LOVE the Spear-Danes. These are great, great people. #BeowulfTrump

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
I like Hrothgar. He’s a hard-working guy. But it’s STUPID that Heorot doesn’t have a wall to keep out the monsters. STUPID #BeowulfTrump

Bruce Holsinger ‏@bruceholsinger 9 hours ago
The Spear-Danes, these people LOVE me. LOVE me over there. “Bring us the Great Geat” is what they’re always saying. LOVE me. #BeowulfTrump

Since then he’s kept tweeting, and he’s just gotten funnier.

Seven hours after Holsinger started the hashtag, fellow medievalist @JonathanHsy tweeted:

Loving #BeowulfTrump today. Now if someone can turn one of The Donald’s epic rants into allit verse I’ll be VERY impressed #medievaltwitter
I’m just saying.

Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:47 PM * 56 comments

So as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I’ve been on a four-day bike ride around the IJsselmeer, the great body of fresh water in the northwest of the Netherlands. I’ve blogged about it on (Day Zero, Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four) and put a bunch of photos on Flickr.

While I was gone, Martin was busy being sneaky. See, we have a new fence in the backyard, the previous one having blown over and been replaced by an epic bodge job. We also replaced the out-of-control evergreen hedge along the side of the yard with more fencing. It’s lovely, light, and clean, but now we have a corner that will never get any sun at all.

In passing one day, I suggested that a statue might go well in that corner. It was an idle thought.

So while I was gone, Martin swore the kids to secrecy, drove all the way across the country (not, admittedly, very far), loaded much heaviness into our dinky little car, and set something up for me to find.

August 24, 2015
We enjoy in eminence
Posted by Avram Grumer at 10:48 PM * 173 comments

Steven Universe

It’s been a while since I’ve fallen for a TV show this hard. Steven Universe, now in its second season on the Cartoon Network, is wonderful. What’s it about? Steven, a tubby kid with a pink gemstone where his belly-button should be, lives in a weird alien temple with three alien women, the Crystal Gems. They teleport around the globe, fighting monsters. Simple premise, right? What’s so great about it?

While it’s ostensibly a kid’s cartoon, the characters are mostly adults, and they have complicated grown-up histories and motivations, all presented so that kids can understand, but with their complexities visible to the adult viewer. Though there are other kids for Steven to interact with; his probably-going-to-be-a-girlfriend-eventually, Connie, is thoroughly realized, an awesome and totally believable little nerd-girl.

The back-story is rich and subtle— so subtle that I didn’t realize until I browsed some fan pages that the show’s setting is actually an alternate history. The writing is sophisticated— one recent episode had a fake-out plot spur leading to a reveal that (I noticed with a second viewing) had been foreshadowed at several points. A lot of the episodes are like that, with elements that reveal depths of characterization on second viewing, or minor details in the background that hint at things as yet unrevealed.

And the artwork! Clean, distinctive character designs, lush background colors. I almost got distracted from the action in a recent episode just looking at the trees in the background. The characters often visit exotic-looking abandoned alien facilities (temples, combat arenas, laboratories, etc) and the art crew does a great job with the designs. It’s worth scouring the backgrounds for implicit worldbuilding!

The music is really great. One of the main characters is voiced by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Estelle, and the characters often burst into song. Here’s an example, an extended version of the show’s theme song, shown at San Diego ComicCon this year. (Update: Here’s the full version; it has a little extra conversation at the beginning.)

The show presents us with characters from a variety of races, ethnicities, and body-types. Even the alien characters who make up the main cast don’t all look like white people. A number of the characters (including Steven himself) are broader-then-average, and it’s never presented as a problem, or as something to mock. If anything, largeness is associated with both power and beauty. (Though there are also skinny characters, and they, likewise, are treated with respect.)

The Gems are (so far) all female. (Exactly what that means for a species that probably doesn’t reproduce sexually, we don’t yet know.) Not only that, but the show explores gender roles in a serious and intentional way, while still keeping things comprehensible for kids. There’s even a multi-episode story arc revolving around sexual consent (handled at metaphoric arm’s length).

I’ve had this sitting on my hard drive for over a month, waiting for me to figure out how to get more quotes from Paradise Lost into it (“Celestial rosy red, Love’s proper hue”; “And these the gems of Heaven”; “And in the lowest deep a lower deep”), but eventually I gave up and went with this.

August 23, 2015
Hugo discussion thread
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:00 AM * 940 comments

So I slept through the awards, having stayed up too late reading (!). But per the Hugo PDF and supplementary data from Locus, this is what we have (in ranked order):

Best Novel (1,827 nominating ballots): The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Noah Ward
Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Roc) [S][R]
The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor) [S][R]

Best Novella (1,083 nominating ballots): Noa Waard
“Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog 11/14) [S][R]
Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House) [S][R]
One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House) [S][R]
“The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis)[R]
“Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons)[R]

Best Novelette (1,031 nominating ballots): “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed 4/14)
Noah Ward
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog 7-8/14) [S][R]
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show 5/14) [S][R]
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog 6/14) [S][R]
“Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog 9/14) [S][R]

Best Short Story (1,174 nominating ballots): Noa Waard
“Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge 7/14) [S][R]
“A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters) [S]
“Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse)[R]
“The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons)[R]
“On a Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2 11/14) [S][R]

Best Dramatic Presentation - Long (1,285 nominating ballots): Guardians of the Galaxy [S][R]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Interstellar [S][R]
The Lego Movie [S][R]

Best Dramatic Presentation - Short (938 nominating ballots): Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”
Doctor Who: “Listen”
Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”[R]
The Flash: “Pilot” [S][R]
Grimm: “Once We Were Gods” [S][R]

Best Related Work (1,150 nominating ballots): Noah Ward
“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse) [S][R]
“Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts ( [S][R]
Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright (Castalia House) [S][R]
Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press) [S][R]
Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press) [S][R]

Best Graphic Story (785 nominating ballots): Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson; art by Adrian Alphona & Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics)
Saga, Volume 3, Brian K. Vaughan; art by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Rat Queens, Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, Kurtis J. Weibe; art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick, Matt Fraction; art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
Noa Waard
The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate, Carter Reid (self-published) [S][R]

Best Professional Editor, Long Form (712 nominating ballots): Noah Ward
Toni Weisskopf [S][R]
Sheila Gilbert [S][R]
Anne Sowards [S][R]
Jim Minz [S][R]
Vox Day[R]

Best Professional Editor, Short Form (870 nominating ballots): Noa Waard
Mike Resnick [S][R]
Jennifer Brozek [S][R]
Bryan Thomas Schmidt [S][R]
Vox Day[R]
Edmund R. Schubert [S][R]

Best Professional Artist (753 nominating ballots): Julie Dillon
Noah Ward
Kirk DouPonce [S]
Alan Pollack [S]
Nick Greenwood [S]
Carter Reid [S]

Best Semiprozine (660 nominating ballots): Lightspeed
Strange Horizons
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Noa Waard
Abyss & Apex [S]
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine [S]

Best Fanzine (576 nominating ballots): Journey Planet
Noah Ward
Black Gate [R]
Tangent Online [S][R]
Elitist Book Reviews [S][R]
The Revenge of Hump Day [S][R]

Best Fancast (668 nominating ballots): Galactic Suburbia Podcast
Tea and Jeopardy

Noa Waard
The Sci Phi Show [S][R]
Adventures in SciFi Publishing [S][R]
Dungeon Crawlers Radio [S][R]

Best Fan Writer (777 nominating ballots): Laura J. Mixon
Noah Ward
Jeffro Johnson [S][R]
Dave Freer [S][R]
Amanda S. Green [S][R]
Cedar Sanderson [S][R]

Best Fan Artist (296 nominating ballots): Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Ninni Aalto
Steve Stiles
Brad Foster

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (851 nominating ballots): Wesley Chu (2nd year eligibility)
Noa Waard
Kary English (2nd year eligibility) [S][R]
Eric. S. Raymond [S][R]
Jason Cordova [S][R]
Rolf Nelson[R]

[S]: Appeared on the Sad Puppies slate (donotlink link to original source)
[R]: Appeared on the Rabid Puppies slate (donotlink link to original source)

Congratulations to the winners, and commiserations to the losers. Yes, even the Puppies, because I am willing to believe that anyone who puts their hands on pen or keyboard in the service of our art partakes, to one extent or another, in the thing we’re trying to honor. Whatever else they’ve done, whatever dissatisfactions and entitlements they’ve let eat them out from the core, are laid on top of that basic impulse. And that is what the Hugos honor.

August 16, 2015
My Privileged Elite Background, Revealed
Posted by Patrick at 06:39 PM * 327 comments

Sarah Hoyt:

MOST of the editors [in the SF field] came from families where ALL generations had gone to college as far as they remembered (kind of like my husband’s family. It amuses me that paternal grandad would have bowed and scraped and been speechless before my inlaws.) More than that, they’d gone to prestigious colleges. For 99% of them, if they had an ancestor who worked with his/her hands, it was buried in the mists of time.
Hm, where shall I start?

delbert at the dropforge.jpeg
Grandfather Delbert Hayden (1901-1962) at his Princeton class reunion, delivering an informal seminar in Renaissance humanities at the drop forge at Fisher Body in Detroit. Like you do.

Seriously. Seriously? I didn’t go to college. In fact, I didn’t graduate from high school, and I don’t have a GED. This is one of the more widely known facts about me, tbh. If you’re making generalizations like that about a set of people that has me in it…well, you just hate to see that kind of thing at this level of play.

Both of my parents went to college — Michigan State University. Both of them were the first people in the known history of their families to do so. I don’t make this assertion lightly. Thanks largely to the heroic efforts of relatives, I know the names, dates, and something of the lives of all 32 of my great-great-great grandparents, and I know the same for all but eight of my 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents. This gets us back to approximately the American Revolution. Not a college degree among them.

haydens and newtons.jpeg
The 1906 meeting of the Modern Language Association, Daviess County, Kentucky. On the left, great-grandfather Prof. Clarence E. Hayden (1872-1908) prepares to speak to his twin sons about Dryden’s The Hind and the Panther. On the right, Prof. greatX3-uncle James Urban Hayden (1856-1933) contemplates figurative imagery in Galen’s On the affections of the mind.

Let’s talk about how people like me don’t have an ancestor who “worked with his/her hands.” Leaving aside my own resume of youthful labor (day laborer, typesetter, printer’s flunky, scraper of paint off of aging Great Lakes freighters—that one was less than perfectly fun), there’s the fact that my father’s father was a factory worker in Detroit. His father was a farmer, as were all the Haydens before him back to the seventeenth century.

My mother’s father was a CPA and a shopkeeper. He came to Michigan from Kentucky with a backwoods accent so severe that he was literally incomprehensible to people there. His forebears were Appalachia through-and-through: hardscrabble, hard times.

Great-great grandparents John Freeman (1850-1928) and Tacy Allen (1857-1924), shown on their grand tour of the fashionable resorts of late 19th-century Europe. “Taormina is so overrated, don’t you think, dear?”

As you can see, Sarah Hoyt is exactly right. My ancestors were generation upon generation of privileged scions of the Ivy League. Beth Meacham’s rural Ohio forebears were all Oxbridgeans; in fact, you couldn’t even show your face in 19th-century Newark, Ohio if you hadn’t published at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal of classical studies. Claire Eddy’s family in Hell’s Kitchen, of course, was composed entirely of high-society patrons of the arts; the entire career of George Balanchine would have been unthinkable without the support of Claire’s tavern-keeping, linoleum-installing relatives. And of course Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s dirt-farmer Mormon forebears contrived the artificial distinction between “literary” and “genre” fiction out of whole cloth, because monkey cucumber parliamentary archaeology. And other things that make just as much sense.

We look forward to explaining other issues of similar subcultural salience.

August 15, 2015
The empty place is for Bigfoot
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:53 PM * 56 comments

Cath, of her kindness, has been doing the yeoman work of organizing two Gatherings of Light at Sasquan. This is the master information post, which can be linked to and referred to. It is versioned, and will be updated if details change.

This is revision 3, as at Thursday 20 August


(Twitter hashtag #MLthursdaydinner)

Thursday, August 20, 7:30 pm Pacific Time

Location: Saranac, 21 West Main Avenue, two and a half blocks from the convention center. Map link here

Meet at 7 pm Thursday evening inside the ground floor pointy end of the exhibit hall. Outside you can see the little green park on West Spokane Falls Blvd, and the crosswalk over highway 2. A few steps away from the escalator there are some benches next to Elevator 14. Cath will be there from 6:45 onward.

For identification purposes, she describes herself as “middle-aged, pale skin, red hair, glasses, and will be holding a red Chinese paper lantern.”

If you run late, come find us at Saranac. The reservation is under the name of Cath Rowan.

IMPORTANT: If you’d like to join the dinner expedition, please post an explicit “I am coming to Thursday dinner” comment on this thread by midnight Sunday Aug 16 Mountain time the evening of Wednesday 19 August, or until all 20 seats are filled. Cath will comment with updated attendance lists.

- o0o -


(Twitter hashtag #MLfridaymeetup; schedule link here)

Friday, August 21, 2-3:45 pm

Location: CC 201C

Drop by when you can, BYO beverages, snacks, handwork, etc

Note that this room has chairs but no tables. If lots of people show up at once, some may have to stand.

If the gathering is still going strong at 3:45, we can move down to hall C.

- o0o -


Contact details for Cath: cathrowan at the Canadian extension of Yahoo (nationality is important in this context); if you need a cell phone number, contact her that way. She is also @cath_rowan on Twitter (in case the convention center bandwidth overloads).

She promises to do her best to monitor all three (e-mail, phone, and Twitter) closely during the couple of hours before each event.

Cath was also suggesting using #MakingLightatSasquan to find other fluorospherians at panels, company for a meal, etc.

August 11, 2015
On sale today: John Scalzi’s The End of All Things
Posted by Patrick at 11:10 AM * 9 comments

endofallthings.jpg On sale today in hardcover and ebook in North America, and on August 13 in trade paperback and ebook in the UK.

Excerpts here. Author post about it here. Video interview with the author here. Author tour schedule here.

From the author’s post about it, linked above:

“This book is a direct followup to The Human Division and continues the scenarios, events and characters found there. It also wraps up the larger story arc begun in The Human Division (i.e., you will find out who is behind all the cliff-hangery stuff and why), so those of you worried that there will be some things left unresolved and to be dealt with in a third book: Relax. It all gets settled. […]

“I will be stingy on the details except to say that two [of the novel’s sections] are from the point of view of major characters in The Human Division, one from a previously minor character, and one introduces a brand new character who I think is very interesting indeed. […] And yes, the actual end of all things is a very real concern in this novel.”

Some reviews:

“Polished and powerful…The inevitable and parallel downward spirals of the two corrupt space empires, the human Colonial Union and the alien Conclave, are finally coming to a head. All four protagonists work for one of the two entities, and Scalzi shifts among their perspectives to thread a fine needle, recognizing that good people can be entrenched in terrible systems and sometimes can’t (or won’t) change them.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“It’s classic crowd-pleasing Scalzi, offering thrilling adventure scenes (space battles, daring military actions, parachute jumps through a planet’s atmosphere), high-stakes politics, snarky commentary, and food for thought. Delightful, compulsively readable, and even somewhat nutritious brain candy.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[F]ascinating, uncharted territory for military science fiction. The world is a considerably complicated place, and this is a book that recognizes it, and attempts to capture a tiny piece of that complexity. The format of the book, with its four parts and sub-chapters, aids the narrative in this regard, reminding me of the films Syriana or Traffic by telling huge story in tiny brushstrokes….[T]he series has been left in a good place, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

August 06, 2015
The building of the centerpiece
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:13 PM * 94 comments

Go, gather photons. Seek, and you will find.
Go pluck them where they hang from bowing trees
And cast a silver net upon the seas.
Retrieve them from the depths where they were mined.
Then harvest me some waves (the not-wet kind):
Ensnare them as they drift upon the breeze,
Unthread them from the fuzzy legs of bees,
And tease them from the hedgerows they’ve entwined.
Collect it all in one fluorescent mound,
A massless mass of quanta piled high,
Entangled, incandescent, golden-bright.
Then pull up chairs, my friends, and cluster round.
This is the place to talk, to laugh, to cry,
To sit and celebrate in gathered light.

In prose: this is a thread to plan a Gathering of Light (or more than one) at Sasquan. Do the thing.

August 05, 2015
Open thread 207
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:44 PM * 961 comments

You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

August 04, 2015
The SPOILER Affinities
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:05 PM * 4 comments

As requested, a space where folks can discuss Robert Charles Wilson’s The Affinities without having to mask or avoid spoilers.


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