Monthly Archives: August 2012

In Memory of Jerry Nelson

Thank you for my childhood, sir. 1, 2, 3….Wa-nah ha ha ha ha!

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Sad But Not Weird Tales

So, Weird Tales magazine, which had recently had a change of ownership and editorial staff, decided to publish an excerpt from a post-apocalyptic SF novel called Saving the Pearls: Revealing Eden about a future of environmental ruin in which black people rule in a totalitarian dictatorship over white people who have to live underground and are routinely killed. While this novel’s stereotypical depictions of black people, indigenous people, Latinos, etc. and the nobility of white people seems to have been more cluelessness  than intended attack, Weird Tales editor’s decision to publish it, accompanied by an editorial on WT’s site stating that anyone criticizing it was stupid essentially, was a deep blow for non-white authors in SFFH and the community in general. The owner of Weird Tales pulled the story, pulled the editorial and apologized, but it’s not been a particularly trustworthy course of action for many. The discussion over the whole situation on the Net has been heated.

I’m tired of heated discussions.

Over the last several years particularly for SFFH, while the Internet has shown us many benefits, it’s also revealed many problems and divisions and a deep lack of ability to understand macro social systems. Prejudice, conscious or unconscious, has now become that thing that you must at all costs defend anyone from ever applying to your words and actions or applying to anyone else even if it means stomping all over the person who has been hurt by prejudice for being part of a group that has traditionally been attacked over and over again.  People in those attacked groups are routinely accused of having enormous power and influence and seeking to destroy others for revenge and personal hang-ups.  I know that in many ways that attitude is a sign that social progress has been made, but the throwdowns in SFFH over the last several months have been depressing.  (And the political situation outside of SFFH has been worse. )

So I’m going to do what a lot of other folk are doing, which is pass on recommendations of good books by and/or about non-whites. That’s a lot more fun.

Here’s a general list of lots of different kinds of books:

A science fiction and fantasy specific one:

You can also find out about a lot of interesting authors all over the world at the World SF Blog from Apex Books.

And Shimmer magazine, which publishes weird fiction stories, has upped its pay rate and is expanding its profile, so might be worth checking out.

More books altogether tomorrow.


Filed under Life, SFFH, SFFH Novels to Check Out

Trafficking in a Net Language One Does Not Understand

So today I had a pingback comment for my I Am Sad post about the deaths of Ron Palillo and Harry Harrison. Pingbacks aren’t unusual, but I couldn’t tell what sort of site it was, so I clicked on the link, (always a bit of a risk,) and it was some site where people could ask random questions or just put some stuff up. At least that’s what it seemed like but it had no page explaining exactly what the site was or what it was for or who ran it. Someone had put up my whole post there, presumably as information about the actor and author deaths. And if people who did this stole your stuff, the site had a disclaimer but you could complain to them about infringement. I did not do this because the posting did in fact credit my blog with hyperlink as the source for the post and I don’t mind somebody doing that as long as they aren’t claiming my words for their own. Plus I have no desire to give these people, whoever they are, my email address. But this unthemed, not spam conglomeration, akin to holding out a big net to see what flotsam and jetsam wander into it, seems strange to me.

And yet, it probably isn’t strange. It’s probably very common on the Net, well known phenomena to long term bloggers and Net surfers. I mean somebody must use that site and someone definitely re-posted my post on it. And it strikes me in writing entries on this blog, on a blog software site that offers the space for free for promotional purposes, out into the ether, that I am in fact writing in a language that I don’t really understand, through technology and software I don’t know,  to be used and interpreted in numerous ways that I have no awareness of whatsoever, even though I am just one of millions of dimly speaking voices in the electronic print interface. And it all seems to be controlled by random collections through search engines. Perhaps Google really has become the essence of the Illuminati. I don’t know.

But clearly, i don’t thoroughly understand pingbacks yet.

Has anyone else found their words ended up somewhere weird on the Net?


Filed under Technology

Unreality Junction: Authors Featured in the Past

Here’s a list of SFFH authors I’ve featured on my blog in the past. All worth checking out, more to come:

Liz Williams

Connie Willis

Graham Joyce

Fiona McIntosh

Elizabeth Bear


Robert V.S. Redick

Allison Brennan

Patrick Lee

Ari Marmell

Mario Acevedo


Kim Harrison

Alexey Pehov

Joe Hill

Ian Douglas

Susan Beth Pfeffer


Margaret Ronald

Ian McDonald

Ian Tregillis

Heather Tomlinson

James Knapp

N.K. Jemisin

Adam Roberts


Katharine Beutner

Stephen Deas

Teri Hall

Kaaron Warren

David Louis Edelman

Lauren Beukes


Sarah Ash

Mark Teppo

David J. Williams

Carrie Ryan

F. Paul Wilson


Jonathan Barnes

Greg Egan

Vicki Pettersson

Stacia Kane

Sara Creasy


Debra Doyle & James Macdonald

Jocelyn Drake

C.L. Anderson

Carlos J. Cortes

Darryl Gregory

J.A. Pitts


Shiloh Walker

Anthony Huso

John Dickenson

Seanan McGuire

Catherine Jinks


Helen Lowe,

Tobias S. Bucknell

Suzanne Johnson

Deborah Coates

John Love


John Levitt

Carolyn Crane

Tim Marquitz

Lincoln Crisler

Jasper Kent

Jon Sprunk


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I Am Sad

We lost two unique voices in the cultural firmament just recently: SFF legendary author Harry Harrison and character actor Ron Palillo.

Ron Palillo was a stage actor who jetted into fame playing Arnold Horshack on the hit t.v. show Welcome Back Kotter in the seventies.  Palillo, who based his portrayal of Horshack on kids he’d known in high school, became an Internet meme before there were Internet memes or an Internet by giving the underdog character a distinctive laugh and behaviors.  The show was created by comedian Gabe Kaplan and Palillo, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Robert Hegyes from the show all established decent careers as character actors, though none had the meteoric star rise of co-star John Travolta. While Palillo was often frustrated after Kotter from being typecast, he and the rest of the cast made their peace with it and remained friends their whole careers.  Palillo guest starred in numerous t.v. shows over the years like The A Team, Ellen and Love Boat,  did a lot of voiceover work and had roles in the cult movies Skatetown, U.S.A., Friday the 13th, Part IV and Hellgate. He served a stint on the soap opera One Life to Live and appeared on Broadway and Off- Broadway in productions such as Amadeus, Guys & Dolls, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Curse of Micah Rood. He wrote and produced the play The Lost Boy about Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie.  Palillo was also a talented artist and illustrated the children’s books The Red Wings of Christmas by Wesley Eure and A Gift for the Contessa by Michael Mele.  But it’s as Horshack that he lodged in people’s mind after thirty-five years of syndicated re-runs and he deserves every ooh-ooh of it. After being ill for awhile, Palillo died of a heart attack too early at 63, not long after his co-star Robert Hegyes. We’ll miss you, dude.

Harry Harrison, 87, was also an artist who illustrated for comic books for companies like EC Comics and wrote for cartoon strips such as Flash Gordon. He invented the cartoon character Rick Random. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. The king of satirical SF who also had a serious side, he was revered in the SFF field for works such as Make Room! Make Room!, which became the classic film Soylent Green, The Stainless Steel Rat series, the Bill, the Galactic Hero series, the Deathworld series, Planet of the Damned, To the Stars series, and, well you get the picture — a lot of stuff. He also  co-wrote the well-known A.I. SF novel The Turing Option and The Hammer and the Cross series and wrote several non-fiction works and an episode for the Perversions of Science tv series. Several of his books were turned into comics series, including Stainless Steel Rat. He was a frequent editor of magazines and anthologies, including being the co-editor with Brian Aldiss of The Year’s Best Science Fiction series, and consequently shaped and promoted many young authors’ careers. He was nominated for Hugo and Nebula awards and awarded the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 2009. Harrison had an enormous impact on writers coming into the field and every wisecracking space con-man story is certainly in his debt. He was sharp as a whip and twice as nervy. He was one of the SF Lions. His words are still with us, but we will miss him.



Filed under Movies/TV, SFFH

Grimm Starts Its Second Season in North America

I became a happy fan last year of new fantasy show Grimm, which debuted in the exile of Friday nights for its first season. Last night, they started the second season way early and the show did well enough in its first round  that they’ve moved it to Mondays at ten. This conflicts with some other t.v., but I have magic recording elves.

The show centers around Nick Burkhardt, a police detective in Portland, who lives with his girlfriend, Juliet, a veterinarian. Nick started having what he thought were hallucinations, but were actually his powers kicking in, giving him the ability to see the Wesen, who look most of the time like humans to everyone else and come in many flavors, having given rise to many fairy tales all over the world. That’s because Nick, whose parents were killed in an accident when he was young, is a Grimm, a specially endowed human whose job it is to observe and record the Wesen and also take out the bad ones who threaten humans. He learns some of what’s involved from his Aunt Marie, who raised him unknowing of his family history and was also a Grimm, but she dies of cancer and injuries before she can really explain everything, bequeathing him her mobile trailer full of gear and books. Nick discovers that to the Wesen, he’s the boogieman, and he gets a lot of help from a Wesen named Munroe and later, a Wesen named Rosalee who takes over her brother’s spice shop which has Wesen clientele. Nick’s job as a cop both helps and hinders his situation as an untrained Grimm, while he tries to hide what’s going on from Juliet, his partner Hank, beat cop Sergeant Wu, and his boss, Captain Renard. He learns in the first season that Wesen politics and the role of Grimms is murkier than he thought.

So it’s a high concept fantasy show with a mythology universe that’s virtually limitless, and it combines police procedural, some horror, some comedy and epic fantasy, which for me works wonderfully. The first episode of the second season dealt mostly with the cliffhanger ending of the first season, involving a life-changing discovery for Nick, Juliet in a dangerous magical comma with Munroe and Rosalee working for a cure, and Nick having to face this guy:

That’s fun, but a little hard for newcomers to jump into off the bat. But it’s not hard to follow and the writing is quite good. What is really distinctive about the show is the look of it. The creators have saturated the images with color and given sets a fairy tale feel particular to the story they’re doing and taking advantage of Portland’s greenness. With the political thriller aspects ramping up, there may be a bit less of that and they could use a bit more budget to vary from warehouse sets for some scenes, but I think they will keep some of it because it really makes the show distinct and sets the tone. I’m not going to do a lot of details now, since they just started up, but I will talk about the show some across the course of the season. They’ve impressed me with their creativity on how they do the folk tales and I think a lot of fantasy fans would enjoy the show.

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I’ve been doing this today, so I could not blog

Enjoy them and thanks to Luke_Spee for being a very silly person:

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Happy. Happy. Happy.

Joss Whedon rides again. And a t.v. show too!

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More Pretty Things for Lucas

Australian author Lucas Thorn pingbacked my blog yesterday because I’d mentioned his novel, Nysta: Revenge of the Elf re Amir Zand’s very cool bookcover art for it. He got the name of my blog wrong, though. It’s The Open Window, Lucas, not Pretty Things. (Although Pretty Things is a pretty good name for a blog, don’t get me wrong. Also “This is Why We Can’t Have Pretty Things” would be a good blog name and somebody probably has it. There are about 500 blogs plus a famous short story called The Open Window — the more, the merrier.)

Anyway, I realized that I forgot to mention in the last post that I had actually read the opening pages of Thorn’s novel, through the Amazon U.S. “Look Inside” feature that Thorn paid for or wiggled out of Amazon. And those pages were good, in my opinion. Lot of atmosphere, dry humor, an immediately appealing character in the Prologue made all the worse because you knew he was going to buy it pretty soon.  So I was actually recommending the book to the extent that one can do so from just having read an excerpt. (And if it provides further inspiration on doing Book 2, Lucas, I’ve been a book editor in one way or another for a reeaaallly long time.) The book is unfortunately not available on all the Amazons, but may be in other spots on the Net, and in Amazon U.S. (and I would assume Amazon Australia,) you can get it as an e-book or a more expensive trade paperback print edition. So this may be going on the birthday list for me. You all can check it out. It is apparently #18 on Amazon’s list of Hot New Releases of Epic Fantasy, which means it is selling well and other people are burbling about it. And yes, Lucas Thorn is apparently his real name. So there you go.

As for Amir Zand’s lovely artwork for the book, that will be going up on the Positivity Cover Art thread at in the Fantasy Forum, with mention of what book it is to, once I get a minute to do it and some other bookcovers I like, which I’ll also reproduce here. There are lots of people over there and we have lots of Australian members  too, so swing by.


Filed under book publishing, SFFH, SFFH Novels to Check Out

In the Heat, Trust a Corgi

Our dog Flynn, passed on from us now, was a mixed corgi/Manchester terrier. He looked almost exactly like the dog Skeeter on the t.v. show Friday Night Lights:

And what we can tell you about corgis is, they’re smart dogs. They were bred to herd cattle, sheep, Welsh ponies and even geese. This corgi has figured out a water park bucket fountain pretty quick and is ready to beat the heat to the fullest extent. Warning: may produce smiling.


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