Nominations Queries Post Four

Sep. 24th, 2017 01:16 pm
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Posted by morbane

We have been working on the tag set for 195 hours, and the number of individual fandom nominations has gone down from 5058 to 43. (Many of which 43 are mentioned below.) There are 3171 approved fandoms now in the tag set. We’re nearly there! Please note, though - the tag set won’t open the moment we hit zero. We’ll need a break to catch a breath & some of our own mistakes.


Please help us with the following issues:

Barcelona (album) - this is nominated only with characters Boy and Girl. Could the nominator please confirm what album they mean (the one by Freddie Mercury?) and what is meant by the characters? It seems like they might appear in just one song, The Golden Boy. Please clarify.

Battle: Los Angeles (2011) - By fandom name, this appears to be a nomination for the movie, but one character, Lee Imlay, appeas to be specific to the tie-in game. Could the nominator please confirm that all characters appear in the same canon, and confirm which canon they mean?

Carly Rae Jepsen (Musician) - This is nominated with the characters Alana Haim and Carly Rae Jepsen. We’re not really sure what the connection between the two is - could the nominator please clarify or suggest another fandom label?

CNN Pundits RPF - It’s not clear to us that The Magic Wall (anthropomorphic) belongs in an RPF nomination. Could the nominator please explain their reasoning?

Chronicles of the Raven - James Barclay - Ry Darrick only seems to appear in the sequel trilogy; is that incorrect, or does this fandom label cover both trilogies? We’d also appreciate a little more information on the Unknown Warrior.

Devil’s Cub - Georgette Heyer and These Old Shades - Georgette Heyer - these have been approved separately, with characters Dominic Alastair, Justin Alastair, Léonie de Saint-Vire, and Mary Challoner, and Hugh Davenant, Justin Alastair, Leonie, and Rupert Alastair, respectively. However, it’s been pointed out that they form a series. If (and only if) both nominators are willing, we will merge the nominations as the Alistair-Audley series. Nominators, how do you feel about that?

The Katering Show - We’re a bit confused by the nomination of The Thermomix as a character. Could the nominator please give their reasoning?

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) - This fandom has already been approved, but we’d like to hear from anyone who nominated the tag The Mage | Guinevere. This is the canonical tag on AO3 (and Yuletide’s use of it is unlikely to change that; if you have strong opinions please refer them to Support). However, one person who nominated The Mage has argued that they are separate. Would the other nominator also be OK with changing The Mage | Guinevere to just The Mage? If so, we will change it; if not, we will leave it as The Mage | Guinevere.

NaPolA | Before the Fall (2004) - Two characters, Albrecht Stein and Friedrich Weimer, are characters in the film; the other two, Florian Stetter and Martin Goeres, are actors. Nominator, could you please confirm whether you wanted to nominate the movie, or to nominate an RPF canon of the movie’s actors?

Nemocnice na kraji města | The Hospital on the Outskirts of the City (TV) - This title seems to refer to several different versions & reboots of a show. The character Eliška Králová seems to only appear in the 2003 sequel show, Nemocnice na kraji města po dvaceti letech | Hospital at the End of the City Twenty Years On, while the other nominated character Ina Blažejová is in both the 1978 and 2003 shows. Could the nominator please clarify what canon is covered by the title they’ve nominated?

Never Too Wanted - The Composed Faucet Collection (Commercial) - We can’t figure out which character you’ve identified as the US Marshall - pointers, please?

No Game No Life - Kamiya Yuu - we're a little confused by the character 『 』| Kuuhaku | Blank. Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating this character separately?

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Takarazuka Revue - The nominated characters Chauvelin (Ryuu Masaki) and Chauvelin (Yuzuki Reon) appear to come from separate runs of this production, in 2008 and 2010. Nominator, could you please share your reasoning on nominating them together?

Smosh - the characters nominated are Keith Leak Jr., Noah Grossman, Olivia Sui, and Shayne Topp. Could the nominator please clarify if this is a nomination for RPF, or for fictionalized characters that share the names of the real people?

Southpaw Regional Wrestling - we can’t find confirmation that a “Swamp Monster” appeared in this canon. Could the nominator please clarify and confirm?

Star Wars Legends: X-wing Series - Aaron Allston & Michael Stackpole - We have approved this nomination. However, we have also approved a nomination for Star Wars Legends: X-wing Series - All Media Types, with characters Derek "Hobbie" Klivian (X-Wing), Plourr Ilo (X-Wing), Rial Pernon (X-Wing), and Wes Janson (X-Wing). Could the nominator of the Allston & Stackpole series please confirm if it is okay to combine their nomination with the All Media Types nomination?

Trial and Error (TV 2017) - We can't find the character Anne Cox. Could the nominator please confirm and give us pointers to when she appeared? (Did you mean Dan Cox?)

决对争锋 | Duì Jué Zhēn Fēng | Beloved Enemy - We can't tell if this refers to the audio drama, the web series, or both, and if both, we'd appreciate a further comment on why they should be grouped together, please. This was nominated with the characters Gu Qing Pei, Peng Fang, Wang Jin, and Yuan Yang.


All Media Types fandoms
We need clarification from the person (or people) who nominated the following fandoms. Please specify a single version of the canon and provide a link to your nominations page so we can confirm the nomination. If these aren't answered, the fandoms will be rejected:

  • Kino no Tabi | Kino's Journey - All Media Types, characters: Kino (Kino no Tabi)

  • Kizoku Tantei, characters: unnamed main character (Kizoku Tantei)

  • Kurosagi - All Media Types, characters: Kashina Masaru, Katsuragi Toshio, Kurosaki (Kurosagi), Yoshikawa Tsurara

  • A Room With a View - All Media Types, characters: Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish




If you are commenting about your own nomination to say what you would like done with characters or fandoms, please link your nominations page! It is the page you get by clicking ‘My Nominations’ from the tag set.

If you notice any problems with your nominations - mis-spellings, etc - feel free to comment on this post.

Sunday Secrets

Sep. 23rd, 2017 10:46 pm
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Posted by Frank

        

Dear Frank-
Years ago I started writing notes and putting them in random places like behind paintings in hotels, between the pages at book stores and in Sky Mall Magazines on airplanes. While browsing through a PostSecret book, I found one of my notes. That small ripped piece of paper is featured above. I attended your event last week at CMU. I’m thankful for your ability to speak to people in their broken places.
-JM

Out For the Weekend

Sep. 23rd, 2017 03:54 pm

New Books and ARCs, 9/22/17

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:52 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Just in time for the weekend, a new batch of books and ARCs at the Scalzi Compound for you to peruse. Which would you want to give a place in your own “to be read” stack? Tell us in the comments.


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Posted by John Scalzi

And being an “Audible Deal of the Day” means you get to spend very little to get the book — in this case something like $3. The deal as far as I know is limited to the US and maybe Canada, and it’s only for today. So if you want it at this price, you need to jump on it. It’s perfect for the folks who love audiobooks, or for the folks who have never tried audiobooks but would be willing to give them a chance at a low price point, or for the folks who simply want Wil Wheaton to read to them in those dulcet tones of his.

Here’s the link to the audiobook. Enjoy!


the immortal universe, part I of III

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:00 am
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September 22nd, 2017next

September 22nd, 2017: Today and this weekend I am at HAL CON in Halifax!! It's gonna be awesome. Will I see you there? The answer: HOPEFULLY YES

Also, it's the first day of fall! You know what that means: scroll waaaaay down and you'll get the special fall footer, assuming you're not on mobile! If you ARE on mobile, you don't get the footer, but you do get to save a few kilobytes of data. YOU'RE WELCOME.

– Ryan

Nominations Queries Post Three

Sep. 22nd, 2017 10:21 am
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Posted by morbane

We have been working on the tag set for 144 hours, and the number of individual fandom nominations has gone down from 5058 to 618. There are 2779 approved fandoms now in the tag set. We’re in the home stretch! (The not very fast home stretch.)


Please help us with the following issues:

2017 Oscars RPF / Academy Awards RPF - These were each submitted with the same character nominations: Andrew Garfield and Dev Patel. Nominators, do you have a strong preference as to what fandom label is used?

Chronicles of the Raven - James Barclay - Ry Darrick only seems to appear in the sequel trilogy; is that incorrect, or does this fandom label cover both trilogies? We’d also appreciate a little more information on the Unknown Warrior.

Dallas Stars (Hockey RPF) - Justin Courtnall does not appear to belong in this category; please comment, or we will either move him to another category (if an appropriate one exists) or reject him. It is not clear to us that Katie Hoaldridge is a celebrity in her own right; could the nominator please give their reasoning?

動物戦隊ジュウオウジャー | Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger - the character Insarn does not seem to belong here. Did you mean Naria?

Element of Fire - Martha Wells - this is nominated with the characters Giliead (Ile-Rien), Ilias (Ile-Rien), and Tremaine Valiarde. The characters don’t seem to match the fandom. Nominator, would you prefer to change the fandom or the characters?

Forgotten Realms - for Khelben Arunsun, is Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun or Khelben Arunsun the Younger meant, please?

Giant Robo - This is nominated with the characters Alberto (Giant Robo), Ginrei (Giant Robo), Hanzui (Giant Robo), Ivan (Giant Robo), Kenji Murasame (Giant Robo), Shokatsuryou Koumei, Sunny the Magician, Taisou (Giant Robo), Tetsugyu (Giant Robo), and Youshi (Giant Robo). As far as we can tell, this is a mix of 1960 and 1990s anime. Nominators, could you please confirm which media you want and if they should be separated out or sent through together?

合法ドラッグ | Gouhou Drug | Legal Drug - the character Watanuki Kimihiro doesn’t seem to belong here. Nominator, could you please clarify?

No Game No Life - Kamiya Yuu - we're a little confused by the character 『 』| Kuuhaku | Blank. Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating this character separately?

Numbers (Anthropomorphic) - There are multiple sets of nominations for this fandom. Going by fandom spelling, respectively, the characters nominated are:
  • -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, Golden Ratio, Pi

  • -128, -i, 0.5, 12, 16, 256, i, sqrt(2)

  • 666, e, j, k

The last set in particular is confusing us. Do j and k together (without i?) refer to components of a unit vector? Or, if j and k refer to unrelated concepts, is j being used as notation for the square root of negative one, or something else, and what is k? Is this meant to denote 1000? Nominators, please elaborate on your thinking.

Smosh - the characters nominated are Keith Leak Jr., Noah Grossman, Olivia Sui, and Shayne Topp. Could the nominator please clarify if this is a nomination for RPF, or for fictionalized characters that share the names of the real people?

Trial and Error (TV 2017) - We can't find the character Anne Cox. Could the nominator please confirm and give us pointers to when she appeared?

You Could Make a Life Series - Taylor Fitzpatrick - we can’t find the characters Mason Draper and Nate Wozniak. Could the nominator(s) give us pointers, please?



All Media Types fandoms
We need clarification from the person (or people) who nominated the following fandoms. Please specify a single version of the canon and provide a link to your nominations page so we can confirm the nomination. If these aren't answered, the fandoms will be rejected:
  • Kino no Tabi | Kino's Journey - All Media Types, characters: Kino (Kino no Tabi)

  • Kurosagi - All Media Types, characters: Kashina Masaru, Katsuragi Toshio, Kurosaki (Kurosagi), Yoshikawa Tsurara

  • The Martian - All Media Types, characters: Beth Johanssen, Chris Beck, Mark Watney (The Martian - All Media Types)

  • Paint Your Wagon, characters: Ben Rumson, Elizabeth (Paint Your Wagon), Schermerhorn (Paint Your Wagon), Sylvester Newel. Did you want the movie or the musical, please?

  • Rookies - Morita Masanori & Related Fandoms , characters: Aniya Keiichi, Kawatou Kouichi, Mikoshiba Tooru, Shinjou Kei

  • A Room With a View - All Media Types, characters: Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish

  • 屍者の帝国 | Shisha no Teikoku | Empire of Corpses - All Media Types, characters: Alexei Karamazov, Friday, John Watson (Shisha no Teikoku), Nikolai Krasotkin

  • XCOM (Video Games) & Related Fandoms, characters: Firebrand, Lily Shen (XCOM), The Commander (XCOM)



Ensemble characters
We will accept labels like “the Council” or “the hunters” for characters in cases where the ensemble does not have different distinct characters in it. For the following fandom, please either confirm that there are no distinct characters in the group, or pick a single character out of the group you’ve nominated:
  • Compendium of World Knowledge - John Hodgman - Hobos, possibly also Cryptozoologists (?)




If you are commenting about your own nomination to say what you would like done with characters or fandoms, please link your nominations page! It is the page you get by clicking ‘My Nominations’ from the tag set.

If you notice any problems with your nominations - mis-spellings, etc - feel free to comment on this post.

The First Sunset of Fall, 2017

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:19 am
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Posted by John Scalzi

Featuring an Amish gentleman on a recumbent bicycle. As all the best first sunsets of fall do.

So long, summer. You did all right.


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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Your Social Parabola" - originally published 9/20/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Why I Had a Good Tuesday This Week

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:50 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Because yesterday I got to hang out a bit with Alison Moyet, who if you didn’t know is one of my absolute favorite singers, both in Yaz, and with her solo work. We’d become Twitter buddies in the last couple of years and when I mentioned to her Krissy and I would be at her Chicago show she suggested we have a real-life meet. And we did! And it was lovely! And brief, as she had to prepare to entertain a sold-out show (and she did; the concert was excellent), but long enough to confirm that she’s as fabulous in the flesh as she is in her music. Which was not surprising to me, but nice regardless.

(Alison has also blogged about our meet-up as part of her tour journal, which you can find here. Read the entire tour journal, as she’s funny as hell.)

I noted to some friends that I was likely to meet Alison this week and some of them wondered how it would go, on the principle that meeting one’s idols rarely goes as one expects (more bluntly, the saying is “never meet your idols.”) I certainly understand the concept, but I have to say I’ve had pretty good luck meeting people whom I have admired (or whose work I admired). I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that while I was working as a film critic, I met and interviewed literally hundreds of famous people, some of whose work was very important to me. In the experience I got to have the first-hand realization that famous and/or wonderfully creative people are also just people, and have the same range of personalities and quirks as anyone else.

If you remember that when you meet the people whose work or actions you admire, you give them space just to be themselves. And themselves are often lovely. And when they’re not, well, that’s fine too. Alison Moyet, it turns out, is fabulous, and I’m glad we got to meet.

(Which is not to say I didn’t geek out. Oh, my, I did. But I also kept that mostly inside. Krissy found it all amusing.)

Anyway: Great Tuesday. A+++, would Tuesday again.


The Big Idea: Fran Wilde

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:42 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Today, award-winning author Fran Wilde has a shocking confession to make! About something she said! Here! And yes, it involves her new novel, Horizon. What will this confession be? Will there be regret involved? Are you prepared for what happens next?!?

FRAN WILDE:

Dear readers of John Scalzi’s blog, for the past three years, I’ve been keeping secrets.

I’m not sorry.

Trilogies are a delicate thing. They are a community of books unto themselves. They inform and support one another; their themes and actions ripple and impact one another. They have their own set of rules. Among them: Write down the main character’s eye color or favorite food so you don’t forget it. You’ll regret using that hard-to-spell naming convention by the middle of your second book. Destroy something in book one, you’re not going to magically have it to rely on in book three — at least not without some major effort. Everything gathers — each choice, each voice.

Trilogies are, by intent, more than the sum of their parts.

And, when brought together, a trilogy’s largest ideas sometimes appear in the gathered shadows of what seemed like big ideas at the time.

In Updraft, book one of the Bone Universe trilogy, what began to crumble was the system that upheld the community of the bone towers. It didn’t look like it then. So I didn’t tell you when I wrote my first Big Idea.

Instead, the first time I visited this blog, I wrote: “At its heart, Updraft is about speaking and being heard and — in turn — about hearing others…”

That was true – especially in the ways Updraft explored song as memory and singing and voice. But it was also kind of a fib. I knew where the series was headed, and voice was only the tip of the spear.

I planned to return here a year later to write about leadership, and I did — and, I wrote about demagoguery too, and abut having a book come out during a charged political season. That was September 2016, Cloudbound, the second book in the series was just out, and wow, that post seems somewhat innocent and naive now. But not any less important.

Again, saying the big idea in Cloudbound was leadership was true on its face, but it was also a an act of omission. And again, singing came into play — in that songs in Cloudbound were being adjusted and changed, as were messages between leaders.

With Horizon, I’m going to lay it all out there for you. Horizon is about community.

Structurally, Horizon is narrated by several different first person voices — including Kirit, Nat, and Macal, a magister and the brother of a missing Singer. These three voices come from different places in the Bone Universe’s geography, and they weave together to form a greater picture of the world, and its threats. A fourth voice appears only through a song — a new song — that is written during the course of Horizon, primarily by one character but with the help of their community. That song is the thread that ties the voices together, and, one hopes, the new community as well.

And, like Horizon, for me, the big idea for the Bone Universe series is also community. How to defend one, how to lead one, how to salvage as much as you can of one and move forward towards rebuilding it.

In my defense, I did leave some clues along the way. I shifted narrators between Updraft and Cloudbound in order to broaden the point of view and reveal more about the lead characters and the world, both between the books (how Nat and Kirit are seen each by the other vs. how they see themselves), and within them. I shared with readers the history of the bone towers and how that community, and the towers themselves, formed. I showed you the community’s [something] – that their means of keeping records and remembering was based on systems that could be used to both control messages and redefine them. I made the names of older laws and towers much more complicated to pronounce (and, yes, spell SIGH), versus the simpler names for newer things. This community had come together, then grown into something new.

The evolution of singing in the Bone Universe is, much like the idea of community, something that can be seen in pieces, but that resolves more when looked at from the perspective of all three books together.

Remember that solo voice — Kirit’s — singing quite badly that first book? In the second book, Nat’s voice joins Kirit’s — a solo, again, but because we can still hear Kirit, and because we know her, it becomes a kind of duet. In the third book, three voices present separate parts of the story, and when they all come together, that forms a connected whole.

When you listen to a group of people sing, sometimes one voice stands out, then another. Then, when multiple voices join in for the chorus, the sound becomes a different kind of voice. One with additional depth and resonance.

That’s the voice of a community. That drawing together of a group into something that is more than the sum of its parts. It is an opportunity, a way forward, out of a crumbling system and into something new and better.  

That’s the big idea.

—-

Horizon: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


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September 20th, 2017next

September 20th, 2017: This weekend I am at HAL CON in Halifax!! It's gonna be awesome. Will I see you there? The answer: HOPEFULLY YES

– Ryan

Nominations Queries Post Two

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:46 am
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Posted by morbane

We have been working on the tag set for 102.5 hours, and the number of individual fandom nominations has gone down from 5058 to 1660. There are 2054 approved fandoms now in the tag set.

Thank you for your answers to the previous queries! We have some more, and some lingering:


Дуэлянт | The Duelist (2016) - We can't find Pyotr Yakovlev's brother. Could the nominator please confirm he appears in the film?

Extraction (2013) - We can't find a Victor. Could the nominator please confirm he appears in the film?

灵契 | Ling Qi | Spiritpact - This has been nominated with overlapping characters, using Japanese and Chinese names respectively: You Keika, Tanmoku Ki, Tanmoku Rakugetsu, and You Nei; and Yang Jinghua, Duanmu Xi, Duanmu Siming, and Qin Siyao. Could each nominator please confirm which media they mean, and can we please combine these character names using one of the versions?

No Game No Life - Kamiya Yuu - we're a little confused by the character 『 』| Kuuhaku | Blank. Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating this character separately?

A Place to Call Home (TV) - We can't find the character Tom. Could the nominator please give us a pointer?

Plantagenets Series - Sharon Kay Penman - For Geoffrey Plantagenet, could the nominator please confirm they mean Geoffrey V Count of Anjou, or some other character?

Six of Crows Series - Leigh Bardugo - It's not clear to us that Nikolai Lantsov belongs here. Could the nominator please give us their reasoning?

Smosh - the characters nominated are Keith Leak Jr., Noah Grossman, Olivia Sui, and Shayne Topp. Could the nominator please clarify if this is a nomination for RPF, or for fictionalized characters that share the names of the real people?

Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle - Georgette Heyer For Lady Marlow, could the nominator please confirm whether they mean Lady Verena Marlow or Lady Constance Marlow?

These Old Shades - Georgette Heyer - As far as we can tell, Dominic Alastair does not appear in this book. (He is also nominated in The Devil's Cub.) Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating him here?

Trial and Error (TV 2017) - We can't find the character Anne Cox. Could the nominator please confirm and give us pointers to when she appeared?


All Media Types fandoms
We need clarification from the person (or people) who nominated the following fandoms. Please specify a single version of the canon and provide a link to your nominations page so we can confirm the nomination. If these aren't answered, the fandoms will be rejected:
  • Gone With the Wind - All Media Types, characters: Belle Watling, Careen O'Hara, Mammy, Melanie Hamilton (Gone with the Wind - All Media Types)

  • The Martian - All Media Types, characters: Beth Johanssen, Chris Beck, Mark Watney (The Martian - All Media Types)

  • A Room With a View - All Media Types, characters: Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish

  • The Witches of Eastwick - All Media Types, characters: Alexandra Medford, Darryl Van Horne, Jane Spofford, Sukie Ridgemont [if we don't hear back from the nominator on this one, we may go with the 1987 film]


Ensemble characters
We will accept labels like “the Council” or “the hunters” for characters in cases where the ensemble does not have different distinct characters in it. For the following fandoms, please either confirm that there are no distinct characters in the group, or pick a single character out of the group you’ve nominated.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (TV 2016) - The Rowdy 3

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy - The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel

  • Velvet Goldmine - Flaming Creatures


Ineligible RPF fandoms
The follow RPF fandoms are too large and will not be approved. Nominators, please suggest an alternative category; if we do not hear from you, we may either fold the characters into another nominated category, or reject the fandoms & characters.
  • Formula 1 RPF - characters: Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna

  • Pop Music RPF - characters: Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake



If you are commenting about your own nomination to say what you would like done with characters or fandoms, please link your nominations page! It is the page you get by clicking ‘My Nominations’ from the tag set.

If you notice any problems with your approved nominations - mis-spellings, etc - feel free to comment on this post.
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Posted by John Scalzi

Krissy and I are playing hooky today because we’re going to the Alison Moyet concert in Chicago, which necessitated a bit of a drive. Well, we’re here now, and the view from the hotel is lovely, nary a parking lot in sight. How is your day?


The Big Idea: Annalee Newitz

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:26 am
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Posted by John Scalzi

In her debut novel Autonomous, former i09 editor-in-chief and current science and tech writer and editor Annalee Newitz gets under the skin of the healthcare industry and thinks about all the ways it’s less-than-entirely healthy for us… and what that means for our future, and the future she’s written in her novel.

ANNALEE NEWITZ:

There’s a scene from the Torchwood series Miracle Day that I will never be able to wash out of my brain. After humans stop being able to die for mysterious reasons, our heroes tour a hospital full of people who are hideously immortal: their bodies pancaked and spindled and melted, they lie around in agony wishing for oblivion. For all its exaggerated body horror, that moment feels creepily realistic in our age of medicine that can keep people alive without giving them anything like quality of life.

Torchwood: Miracle Day wasn’t my first taste of healthcare dystopia, but it made a huge impression because it distilled down one of the fundamental ideas I see this subgenre: some lives are worse than death. This is certainly the message in countless pandemic films, where the infected are ravening, mindless zombies. Killing them is a mercy.

This idea takes a slightly different form in books like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl. Both narratives toy with what it means when people are turned into medical experiments, like futuristic versions of the Tuskegee Study. We see some ruling class of people deciding that another class should serve as its organ donors or genetic beta testers. What if somebody were treating us like lab rats, as if our lives didn’t matter?

And then there are the false healthcare utopias, which I find the most disturbing because they remind me of listening to U.S. senators trying to sell the idea that they have a “much better plan” than Obamacare—even though I know people who will die under these “better plans.” Politicians have probably been pushing false healthcare utopias since at least the 19th century, but in science fiction its roots can clearly be traced to Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. In that novel, everyone is medicating with Soma just to deal with how regimented and limited their lives are.

False healthcare utopias can take many forms, and they overlap with more familiar dystopias too. Some deal with surveillance. In the chilling novel Harmony, Project Itoh imagines a future Japan where the government monitors everyone’s microbiomes by tracking everything that goes into and out of their bodies (yep, there’s toilet surveillance).

Sometimes the false healthcare utopia is just a precursor to a more familiar zombie dystopia like 28 Days Later. Consider, for example, our extreme overuse of antibiotics. Though it appears that we can cure pretty much any infection with antibiotics, we’re very close to living in a world where antibiotics no longer work at all. One of the most terrifying books I’ve read this year is science journalist Maryn McKenna’s book Big Chicken, which is about how the agriculture industry depends on antibiotics to keep animals “healthy” in filthy, overcrowded conditions. This is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are coming for us, pretty much any day now. That’s right–penicillin-doped chickens are the real culprits in I Am Legend.

I’m fascinated by how many false healthcare utopias depend on coercive neuroscience. Often, brain surgery is involved—we see this in John Christopher’s Tripods and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, both about so-called utopian worlds created by neurosurgical interventions that restrict freedom of thought. Maybe these stories focus on brains so much because these are fundamentally stories about lies, and brains are, after all, the organ that we use for lying.

When I started work on my novel Autonomous (out today! yes it is!), I knew I wanted to explore the lies of the pharmaceutical industry and its gleaming ads promising a better life to those who can afford a scrip. One of the protagonists, Jack, has become a pharmaceutical pirate so that she can bring expensive, patented medicine to poor people who need it. But she also sells a few of what she calls “funtime worker drugs” on the side, to fund her Robin Hood activities and keep her submarine in good repair.

Those funtime drugs are why things go sideways for Jack. She sells some pirated Zacuity, a “productivity” drug that I loosely based on Provigil or Adderall. It gets people really enthusiastic about work, but it has some unexpected side-effects that the pharma company Zaxy has suppressed. Now Jack has to stop the drug from killing more people, while also evading two deadly agents sent by Zaxy: a robot named Paladin and a human named Eliasz.

So Autonomous is chase story with some hot robot sex, but it’s also very much a book about how pharma companies sell us an idea of “health” that is actually really unhealthy.

Today pharma companies market drugs the way Disney markets Star Wars movies, and for good reason. Drugs like Adderall and Provigil are supposed to make us feel better and more competent—or at the very least distract us—for a few blissful hours. Just like a movie. I’m not trying to say there’s a problem with taking drugs (or watching movies) to feel good. Nor am I saying that people don’t need anti-depressants and other meds to treat psychological problems. The issue is when these drugs are overprescribed for enhancement, and “feeling really good” becomes a terrible kind of norm. Pharma companies want us to believe that if we aren’t incredibly attentive, productive, and happy every day, there must be something wrong. This paves the way for an ideal of mental health that almost nobody can (or should) live up to.

There’s another, deeper problem that’s caused by selling medicine as if it were a form of entertainment. Nobody would ever argue that going to see the new Star Wars movie is a right. It’s just a luxury for people with disposable income. If we see medicine like that too, it’s easy to fall for the lie that our healthcare system is great even though it only serves the richest people in the U.S.

In the world of Autonomous, the pharma companies are full of guys like Martin Shkreli, jacking up the prices on medicine because they can. They get away with it because so many people in the U.S. believe that anyone can get medicine if they really deserve it. Only a lie of that magnitude could make it seem fair when working class people can’t afford to treat AIDS-related complications. Or cancer. Or a heart infection.

Autonomous is a book about lies. But more importantly, it’s about what happens to the people who see through those lies and try to do something about it. Everyone deserves to have medicine. It is a right, not a privilege. Until we recognize that, I’ll be hanging out with the pirates.

—-

Autonomous: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Well, specifically this silly person said I would never earn out [x] amount of money I got as an advance, and also that I would in fact never see [x] amount of money, because of reasons they left unspecified but which I assume were to suggest that my contracts would be cancelled long before I got the payout. As [x] amount of money seems to suggest this silly person is talking about my multi-book multi-year contracts, let me say:

1. lol, no;

2. [x] was not the sum for any of my contracts (either for individual works or in aggregate) so that’s wrong to begin with;

3. It’s pretty clear that this silly person has very little idea how advances work in general, or how they are paid out;

4. It’s also pretty clear this silly person has very little idea how advances work with long-term, multi-project contracts in particular, or how they are paid out;

5. Either this silly person has never signed a book contract, or they appear to have done a very poor job of negotiating their contracts;

6. In any event, it’s very clear this silly person has no idea about the particulars of my business.

Which makes sense as I don’t go into great detail about them in public. But it does mean that people asserting knowledge of my business are likely to be flummoxed by the actual facts. Like, for example, the fact that I’m already earning royalties on work tied into those celebrated-yet-apparently-actually-cursed contracts. Royalties, I’ll note for those of you not in the publishing industry, are paid out after you earn back an advance.

How am I getting royalties on a work tied to contracts that this silly person has assured all and sundry I will never earn out? The short answer is because I’ve earned out, obviously. The slightly longer answer is that my business deals are interesting and complex and designed to roll money to me on a steady basis over a long period of time, but when you are a silly person who apparently knows nothing about how book contracts work (either my specific ones, or by all indications book contracts in general) and you have an animus against me because, say, you’re an asshole, or because of group identification politics that require that I must actually be a raging failure, for reasons, you are prone to assert things that are stupid about my business and show your complete ignorance of it. And then I might be inclined to point and laugh about it.

In any event, this is a fine time to remind people of two things. The first thing is that I have detractors, and it’s very very important to them that I’m seen as a failure. There’s nothing I can ever do or say to dissuade them against this idea, so the least I can do is offer them advice, which is to make their assertions of my failure as non-specific as possible, because specificity is not their friend. I would also note to them that regardless, my failures, real or imagined, will not make them any more successful in their own careers. So perhaps they should focus on the things they can materially effect, i.e., their own writing and career, and worry less about what I’m doing.

Second, if someone other than me, my wife, my agent or my business partners (in the context of their own contracts with me) attempts to assert knowledge of my business, you may reliably assume they are talking out of their ass. This particularly goes for my various detractors, most of whom don’t appear to have any useful understanding of how the publishing industry works outside of their (and this is a non-judgmental statement) self-pub and micro-pub worlds, which are different beasts than the part I work in, and also just generally dislike me and want me to be a miserable failure and are annoyed when I persist in not being either. Wishing won’t make it so, guys.

Bear in mind speculating about my business is perfectly fine, and even if it wasn’t I couldn’t stop it anyway. Speculate away! People have done it for years, both positively and negatively, and most of the time it’s fun to watch people guess about it. Even this silly person’s speculation is kind of fun, in the sense it’s interesting to see all the ways it’s wrong. But to the extent that the unwary may believe this silly person (or other such silly people among my detractors, and as a spoiler they are all fairly silly on this topic) knows what they are talking about with regard to my business: Honey, no. They really don’t. They have their heads well up their asses.

Or, as I said on Twitter:

And actually the dog has been in the same room as my contracts, so in fact she might know more. Keep that in mind the next time a detractor opines on my business.


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January 2015

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