Category Archive 'Science Fiction'
30 Jul 2018

A Genre’s Deep Norms Matter

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Eric Raymond defends the integrity of the genre in an intelligent and well-reasoned essay. The SJW crowd will not like this one.

In the book reviews I’ve been writing recently I have been applying some very specific ideas about the nature and scope of science fiction, particularly in contrast to other genres such as fantasy, mystery, and horror. I have not hesitated to describe some works found in SF anthologies as defective SF, as non-SF, or even as anti-SF.

It is not fashionable these days to be so normative about any kind of artistic form, let alone SF. The insistence that we should embrace diversity is constant, even if it means giving up having any standards at all. In a genre like SF where the core traditions include neophilia and openness to possibility, the argument for exclusive definitions and hard boundaries seems especially problematic.

I think it is an argument very much worth making nevertheless. This essay is my stake in the ground, one I intend to refer readers back to when (as sometimes happens) I’m accused of being stuck on an outmoded and narrow conception of the genre. I will argue three propositions: that artistic genres are functionally important, that genre constraints are an aid to creativity and communication rather than a hindrance, and that science fiction has a particular mission which both justifies and requires its genre constraints.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

21 Mar 2017

Amazon Bans Scalzi Parody

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John Scalzi’s latest, The Collapsing Empire, released today by Tor Books, apparently has some resemblances to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.

Scalzi and the publishers of Tor books are both prominent on the Social Justice Warrior side in the current and ongoing political conflicts within the Sci Fi-Fantasy community.

Consequently, Vox Day’s Castalia House released yesterday a parody, titled “The Corroding Empire,” purportedly written by one Johan Kalsi, described by Vox Day as, “Finland’s hottest science fiction author. An accomplished geneticist as well as a 6’3″ ex-Finnish Marine.”

The cover of “The Corroding Empire,” as you can see above, has a recognizable resemblance to the cover of “The Collapsing Empire,” and features the imaginary plug line: “Kalzi rips off Asimov even better than Scalzi rips off Heinlein!”

All this seems rather funny, but Tor Books was not amused and (who knew that such a minor publisher had that kind of power?) promptly prevailed on the great and powerful Amazon to remove the parody.

SuperversiveSF.com reports:

Tor Books author John Scalzi announced a book, which he turned in late, titled The Collapsing Empire.

Castalia House quickly and effectively put out a parody book titled The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi, which beat out Scalzi’s actual work in pre-orders for several days.

The parody, The Corroding Empire released today, to much fanfare (I’ve read a little myself, it is good science fiction work).

Tor sent Amazon an ultimatum telling them to take it down.

Amazon complied and sent Castalia House a notification that they were taking it down because they were pretending to be John Scalzi.

Castalia House had their book removed, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Wow! Amazon sucks with a leftwing conformist vacuum about as powerful as that of Mozilla, Target, Starbuck’s, ESPN, &c.

Vox Day apparently foresaw the possibility of censorship, and cleverly had ready an alternative cover, title, and auctorial pseudonym: “Harry Seldon” referencing Hari Seldon, the mathematician hero of Asimov’s “Foundation.” (see below). But… you won’t find “Corrosion” on offer at Amazon this morning either.

Here’s where both titles were pre-release yesterday on Amazon’s bestseller list:

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

12 Jan 2017

John Scalzi, Beta Male

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John Scalzi’s Xmas Card

John Scalzi’s first Mil SciFi novel Old Man’s War featured a plot with a natural appeal to aging boomers, and with a helpful plug from Instapundit quickly broke through to become a best-seller in the genre.

Conservative readers with a liking for Scalzi were soon to be dismayed when the formerly seemingly sympatico author came out as an Obama supporter and Gun Control advocate. John Scalzi has since distinguished himself within the Science Fiction Fandom Community as one of the loudest voices on the Social Justice Warrior side.

Naturally, many of us just stopped buying Scalzi’s books, but some remain really bitter. Chateau Heartiste (an Alt-Right blog) yesterday took aim at Scalzi as a representative of the beta male phenomenon, publishing photos and Scalzi’s 2016 Xmas card which portray him as a nerd, shorter, frailer, and more sensitive-looking than his wife. CH has a lot of fun mocking Scalzi, and promises more:

Reading Scalzi is like bathing in a vat of menstrual blood and having pure estrogen injected straight into the scrotum. One must exit Scalzi’s world through a decontamination chamber of red meat and range shooting. His sickness can’t be allowed to spread to vulnerable men. His dildology worldview is a disfigured anti-reality that will yield like buttery goodness to the shiv every time, because nothing substantial underlies it. And the Chateau will flay him, over and over, until his ugliness of mind and spirit perishes from the earth.

06 Sep 2016

An American Jules Verne

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FrankReade

MessyNessy has been reading “the world’s first Science Fiction periodical.”

Frank Reade dime-novels had helicopters and airships before Jules Verne , but while the famous French adventure novelist is still considered a major literary author around the world today, who’s ever heard of Frank Reade?

Published under the anonymous pseudonym, “No Name”, during the 19th century boom of boys’ cheap fiction, the series followed the adventures of the Reade family: Frank Reade; his son, Frank Reade Jr., and grandson Frank Reade III. While the first five stories starred Frank Reade, Sr, adventurer and inventor of steam-robots, most of the 184 stories featured the second generation of the Reade clan, a teenage hero-inventor who travelled the globe in his electric machines.

Frank Reade Jr. was a busy guy, usually off fighting sea monsters with his machines, discovering lost gold or killing an astonishing amount of Native Americans. Yep, Frank Reade Jr., was not just a brilliant “superhero” inventor, he was also an unashamed imperialist. And while the adventures and the inventions themselves are the most important parts of the stories, there are strong undertones of imperialism and white supremacy throughout the series. Reade behaves a bit like a bull in a colonial china shop; crash-landing in foreign territories, using his machines to bulldoze through native tribes and then claim their treasure.

While the stories are credited to “No Name”, the author was in fact Luis Senarens, a Brooklynite of Cuban descent who began writing for the series at the age of just sixteen. When he was seventeen, he received a letter of praise from Jules Verne himself. The two would spend the rest of their careers stealing ideas from each other. It was only Verne, however, who would become a titan of science fiction. Of course, it didn’t help that Senarens’ stories were only published in dime-novels, a form of popular fiction typically blamed for the criminal behaviour of young men in the same way that video games are blamed today.

Whole thing.

Frank Reade, Sr. stories started appearing in Boys of New York, February 28 through April 24, 1876. The Frank Reade series ran roughly contemporaneously with the post-1870 (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) height of Jules Verne’s career. Verne began writing, though, in 1851, so describing the Frank Reade series as “before Jules Verne” generally would not be accurate.

Hat tips to Vanderleun and Fred Lapides.

27 Aug 2015

Hitler Reacts to the 2015 Hugo Awards

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26 Aug 2015

This Year’s Hugos

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morlock
(Morlock by Tony McVey)

The struggle over Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards waged between “sad puppies” (joined this year by the even more enthusiastic “rabid puppies” associated with writer Vox Day) and the Social Justice Warriors continued through the voting for this year’s awards.

Stung by the the puppies’ successes last year, the SJW faction was better organized and implemented a new strategy.

Milo Yiannopoulos describes the SJW operation and its results.

[T]he opposition to the Sad & Rabid Puppies slates took the form of encouraging voters to choose “no award” for an award category unless a work with appropriate politics was available. Taking it a step farther, many SJW zealots proved their commitment to tolerance, openness and variety by vowing not to read a work found on a Puppies slate under any circumstances.

Like the Death Star’s visit to Alderaan, the results of Hugo Awards voting were ugly and unprecedented. 5 major categories including best novella and best short story went with “no award.” To put that in perspective, in the previous 60 years of Hugo Awards, a total of 5 “no awards” have been given previously.

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A rabid puppy commenter at Vox Day’s site waxed eloquent about what he thought of all this.

If we were to erect a monument to the spirit of our age, it wouldn’t be something sublime like the Eiffel Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica or the Empire State Building. No grandiose frescos would decorate it. No wondrous ostentations in gold leaf and lapis lazuli would adorn it. No clean-limbed marble statuary would guard it.

No, it’d be a squat, ugly thing, like a paleolithic fertility fetish or a Morlock or typical WorldCon polyamory enthusiast. It would be sexless, androgynous and gendernonconforming all at the same time, and rendered in drab wattle and daub. Its most striking feature would be a great big mealy mouth, from which would drip liquid bromides and taurine fecal matter. Hordes of hooting crypto-humanoids in their mobility scooters would gather under this toxic shower to pray for equality and more all-you-can-eat buffets.

Just wait until next year!

26 May 2015

John Scalzi Gets $3.4 Million Publishing Deal

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JohnScalzi

NYT:

John Scalzi, a best-selling author of science fiction, has signed a $3.4 million, 10-year deal with the publisher Tor Books that will cover his next 13 books.

Mr. Scalzi’s works include a series known as the “Old Man’s War” and the more recent “Redshirts,” a Hugo-award-winning sendup of the luckless lives of nonfeatured characters on shows like the original “Star Trek.” Three of his works are being developed for television, including “Redshirts” and “Lock In,” a science-inflected medical thriller that evokes Michael Crichton. Mr. Scalzi’s hyper-caffeinated Internet presence through his blog, Whatever, has made him an online celebrity as well.

Mr. Scalzi approached Tor Books, his longtime publisher, with proposals for 10 adult novels and three young adult novels over 10 years. Some of the books will extend the popular “Old Man’s War” series, building on an existing audience, and one will be a sequel to “Lock In.” Mr. Scalzi said he hoped books like “Lock In” could draw more readers toward science fiction, since many, he said, are still “gun-shy” about the genre.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the executive editor for Tor, said the decision was an easy one. While Mr. Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller,” he said, “he backlists like crazy.”

Scalzi has alienated a significant portion of his readership with sanctimonious hoplophobic blog posts (example) and by lining up with the Social Justice Warriors in the fighting over the Hugo Awards. My guess is that his backlisting powers will be declining.

26 May 2015

Tanith Lee, 1947-2015

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TanithLee

Sci Fi/Fantasy writer Tanith Lee has passed away.

Heavy has five facts about Lee.

Locusmag obituary.

Tor.

14 Apr 2015

Patrick Nielsen Hayden Learns That the Sad Puppies Slate Swept the 2015 Hugo Awards

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

06 Nov 2013

Saving the World

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30 May 2013

Blog Post into Film Rights Sale

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James Erwin

James Erwin
seems a little embarrassed at how easy it was for him to turn an intriguing historical question into a literary phenomenon and a big money deal with Hollywood.

Rome, Sweet Rome wikipedia article

It was on my lunch hour; I’d just gone on Reddit.com (a website where people submit content and then vote it up or down depending on if they like it) and saw a question: “Could a battalion of US marines destroy the entire Roman empire?”

I thought to myself, “Oh, that sounds like a fun story.” So I just started writing.

I started at noon and I was done by 1pm. I’d expected that maybe a hundred nerds would read it and enjoy it, and that some people would have had a fun lunch hour because of me. Instead, it changed the trajectory of my life. By the time I went home at five it’d had a quarter-of-a-million readers, a week later I had a manager, and a week after that I had a contract with Warner Brothers. They brought me on to write a treatment, and then a screenplay based on that treatment.

Read the whole thing.

11 Nov 2012

BSG: Blood and Chrome

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William Adama, young and old versions

Released Friday as a podcast: Episode 1 of Battlestar Gallactica: Blood and Chrome. To be broadcast complete on the Sci Fi Channel in January.

Wikipedia:

Set in the tenth year of the First Cylon War, the story follows William Adama as a young man, with the call sign “Husker.”
William, being a recent Academy graduate, is assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. He is ordered to escort a young woman, who eventually turns out to have vital information that carries significant importance to certain Cylon secrets. …The routine mission eventually turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal part in their story.

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Trailer:

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Episode 1:

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Episode 2:

09 Jan 2012

New Nevada Brothel to Offer Opportunity to Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

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Is Jabba the Hutt a role-model to you? Do your personal fantasies run to inter-species sexual exploitation? A Nevada entrepreneur named Dennis Hof (best known for publicizing a brothel he owns via a reality tv program on HBO) plans to open the “Area 51 Alien Travel Center,” a Sci Fi-themed bordello 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas on Highway 95. Hof has announced that he is hiring Hollywood madame Heidi Fleiss to dream up female alien costumes, make up, and decor.

Las Vegas Review story

Hat tip to Emmy Chang.

05 Sep 2011

Could I Destroy the Entire Roman Empire During the Reign of Augustus if I Traveled Back in Time with a Modern U.S. Marine Infantry Battalion or MEU?

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Here is an intriguing plot line for an alternative history series along the lines of the Eric Flint’s 1632

Prufrock451 took us somewhat cursorily through the first week of the 35th MEU’s adventures in Ancient Rome. He has a series franchise here if he continues.

The Marines aren’t going to have any problems dealing with local military forces, as long as they still have ammunition and fuel. But when they inevitably run out of cartridges, what then? One detail I’d suggest to assist in plotting is to be sure to bring along a Navy support ship with an on-board machine shop.

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Wikipedia tells us that a typical Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU, pronounced “Myuu”) has approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors. It is equipped with:

Ground
4 M1A1 main battle tank
7 to 16 Light Armored Vehicle
15 Amphibious Assault Vehicle
6 155mm howitzer: M198 or M777
8 M252 81mm mortar
8 BGM-71 Tube Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided (TOW) missile weapon system
8 FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile

Aviation
4 to 6 AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters
3 UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopter
12 CH-46E Sea Knight medium lift assault helicopter
4 CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift assault helicopter
6 AV-8B Harrier jet
2 KC-130 Hercules re-fueler/transport aircraft
Note: usually maintained in the continental United States

Logistics
2 Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit
1 LMT 3000 water purification unit
4 Tractor, Rubber Tire, Articulated Steering
2 TX51-19M Rough Terrain Forklift
3 D7 bulldozer
1 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement dump truck
4 Mk48 Logistics Vehicle System

Multiple
7 500 gallon water containers
63 Humvee
30 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks

A Marine Infantry Battalion constitutes essentially the ground portion of an MEU, and may contain 2–5 companies, with a total of 500 to 1,200 Marines in the battalion.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

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