A Message from Tom Doherty to Our Readers and Authors

Dear Tom,

As one of your authors, I want to say openly that I find this apology upsetting. In a large part because I was directly harassed by a Tor employee and received no apology from the company. From the employee? Yes. But from Tor? No.

The fact that you are now defending the Sad Puppies campaign, even implicitly, and apologizing to them for being offended is really distressing. It implies things about the priorities of Tor that I find uncomfortable and would very much like to be wrong about. At the moment though, I feel as though the safety of women authors, and authors of color is less important to the company than the feelings of those who attack them.

While I understand that the Sad Puppies list did, indeed, include women and writers of colour, the works that made the ballot are largely from the Rabid Puppies list. One category is made up largely of a single author's work, which seems like the very opposite of diversity. While I recognize that the two groups are separate, they are so interconnected that it is hard to view them individually, particularly when the Sad Puppies claim the Rabid Puppies slate as their own victory.

So when you feel the need to apologize to people who have said that they want to see the Hugos destroyed, and emphasize that Irene's views are not your own, I can't help but wonder what your views are. All of which leaves me confused and distressed.

Sincerely yours,

Mary Robinette Kowal

How I Beat Pat Rothfuss At Being Pat Rothfuss
I'm not actually comfortable with the term "harem" or the idea that he picked us because of our physical appearance.
How I Beat Pat Rothfuss At Being Pat Rothfuss
Kate, I'm very happy to help. I think you do terrific work with Con or Bust. Daniel: What's funny is that Pat swears like a sailor. cisko: Your catch on the mead photo (It really was mead) taught me that I needed to be a LOT more careful. I was hoping that I could make mistakes early in the game while people were distracted by all of the accounts. If a reader caught me and posted about it, folks would remember that someone had made a mistake, but hopefully not which account.
A.C. Crispin, 1950-2013
I am so deeply saddened about Ann's passing. She was an amazing person and SF authors have lost one of our best advocats.
Where to Find the Doctor in All of My Historical Fantasy Novels
@TeresaJusino: Nothing wrong with that at all! I hope you enjoy his brief jaunts through the novels. @RonHogan: oooo.... Professor Chronotis. Hm, and Lord Byron was a Cambridge man.
Covers Revealed for John Scalzi’s Manga Fantasy Trilogy
I think the terrifying thing is how many of us would totally buy this.
We Almost Didn’t Have the Muppets: Four Alternate Points in Jim Henson’s Life
4. Sihaya -- They pulled out some tricks with the frog riding a bicycle, but nothing truly earthshaking. 5. ccollins -- Fair point. There's a lot of fascinating work happening in puppetry that looks nothing like the Muppets, however, most Americans think of when they think "puppets" are Muppet style figures. In fact, you can tell how old someone is, roughly, by the hand sign they use when miming "puppets" based on what was popular when they were kids. Anyone under 45 tends to make a gesture like a moving mouth puppet.
Nebula Award nominations are here!
Just a note that I excused myself from eligibility this year for the Nebulas because I was involved in setting up the nomination software and didn't want to cause a conflict of interest. So, though "First Flight" remains eligible for the Hugos, please don't consider it for the Nebulas. Thanks, Mary Robinette Kowal
Screw CGI: Gimme old-school visual effects
My initial reaction is to agree with you that puppets or "real" effects often give better results but a large part of this is that it removes a layer of acting that the other performers in a scene have to do. Laura Dern talked about the scene in Jurassic Park where her character walked into the clearing and saw the sick triceratops. She said, "There was no acting there," because they had kept her away from the area where they were going to be filming and had the puppeteers well-hidden. When she walked into the clearing, she saw a sick triceratops where she had expected to see the usual green sign that said "triceratops eyeline." The rest of what you are talking about is the uncanny valley. It's something that we have to fight in puppetry all the time. As you pointed out, if the brain knows it is stylized it accepts it as make believe and is happy. If it is close to real, then every little thing that's not right sticks out as unnatural and hence dangerous. It's the thing that helped us spot camouflaged animals in the wild. New Yoda is a good example. The prime thing that's wrong with him is that his facial features move too much. Watch yourself in the mirror as you smile. Your skin moves, but not with the bizarrely detailed wrinkling and curling that his skin does. The catch to all this is that these are examples of CGI that has failed. When it works you don't see it. It truly is seamless. Guilarmo del Toro is very good at blending practical effects with CGI. Pan's Labyrinth has a fair amount of CGI in it, but it blends beautifully with the world of the set. The Matrix series is also heavy on the CGI and again it is pretty darn seamless. One of the things to remember is that this field is still pretty young and changing very fast. The things they've been doing for twenty years, like space flight, looks darn good. We've been only about ten years and if you look at the first ten years of cinema, it was equally crude. The difference here is that the crude technique looks slicker.
The Roundtable of DOO- I mean, of Race and Steampunk
Thank you for this conversation. It's raised a question that I'd love your insight on. I'm aware of the problems with exotism but I'm curious about your opinions on how to handle it in a historical context. For instance, how does one approach the Victorian fascination with Japan? It expresses throughout the styles and the literature of the late Victorian era ranging from Art Nouveau, which is an interesting example of cultural appropriation, to the more blantant Japonisme. Earlier, in the Regency (which is the era I write in) Chinoiserie was all the rage. There was an extremely fashionable style of hat called turban ala Orientale. Recognizing that Steampunk is dealing with alternate histories, of course, it still gives me pause, in particular after reading what Ay-leen had to say about trivializing "histories of oppression by writing them out of existence." Could either of you speak about how one might respectfully approach the historical exoticism in the Victorian era without either enshrining it or trivializing the nature of the original appropriation?
Saturday Morning Cartoons: “La Femme Papillon” and “le Cadeau du Temps”
I think La Femme Papillon is a good example of how knowing too much can mar an otherwise fine film. The marionette whose strings are cut only to become lifeless is a pretty common trope in puppetry. Because I know how marionettes work this story had a completely different meaning for awhile. Since the characters were all moving in ways that a string puppet can't, I thought they had their own volition, until the little bird man cut the butterflies strings and she became lifeless. Then I was sad because it was just the same old story again.
Greg Manchess painting Canticle by Ken Scholes
Thank you so much for posting this. I always like seeing someone's process and getting to hear a bit about the dialogue between the three of you is wonderful. Also, I'm even more excited to read Canticle now.
Near future and far future: Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin
I loved this book and wouldn't have read it if it weren't in the free e-book package. I picked up copies for my nephew and a friend, because this is the type of science-fiction that makes me so excited. As you say, a big SF concept and a real, compelling human story.
The Shattered Teacup
Oooo! I just finished reading the ARC of the Affinity Bridge and adored it. It made me a bit of what it might be like if Sir Peter Wimsey had an airship and was more rollicking. I was wishing that I could read another Newbury and Hobbes mystery. Thanks for pointing this one out.
Things (and people) to be thankful for:
It should not be happening, that's all I'll say. Meanwhile, I'm thankful that he's feeling well enough to blog and was close to a hospital.
Coraline trailer
I've been waiting for this impatiently 'cause I've got a couple of friends who are animators on it. The fellow who did the dog scene has been such a tease, talking about his toys. So unfair. But looking at the trailer, I feel like my envy is entirely justifiable. That looks really, really hot.
SF Scene: KGB Fantastic Fiction 9/19/08
It's toss-up between Stranger in a Strange Land or Jhereg.
Is That a Large Hadron Collector in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Glad to See Me?
By far my favorite quote has been, "Look, it's a 10^-19 chance, and you've got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving."
Spellbinding Storytelling Patterns: Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series
Darn it. Now I want to read them all over again. Though you don't say this, I think he is also the best at understanding what first person narrative is really for. Part of what I love about these books is the way Vlad changes not just because of the events but also by the act of telling the story.
Meet the Stars: Launch Pad 2008
Great summary, David. Makes me miss it all over again.
RPGs + Computer Games: D&D Tiny Adventures
23. kendallpb Actually, you do get to make decisions as you go, like which potions to take and when. But mostly, yes, it's like a mildly interactive story told in serial format. Despite my complaint about the lack of female characters, I've been playing it.
SF Theatre: There Will Come Soft Rains
@ Yokozuna No apologies needed! It's an occupational hazard on my end.
SF Theatre: There Will Come Soft Rains
Normally I'm not a fan of heavily narrated shows, which the first and third were, but I thought that they worked remarkably well. I'm a big fan of object manipulation and thought that it was exquisitely used for the third piece. (By the way. The dog was not a marionette. It was direct manipulation rod puppet, or modified bunraku. Sorry. Can't help it. Puppetry is my dayjob.) During the second piece, at first I thought that the film projection was just a gimick, until he got the time machine working and then... oh and then it all paid off and was wonderful in the simplicity of the solution contrasted by the complexity of what it brought to the theme of the story.
Judging a book by the cover: Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series
To prove your point, the Ace covers were what caused me to pick Jhereg up in the first place. It was one of those happy things where the interior matched the exterior. I loved the series.
RPGs + Computer Games: D&D Tiny Adventures
I was excited about this until I signed up. Wow. Only two female characters? Lovely.
Weekend Getaway: Mary Robinette Kowal
I have the Chickadee and the nightingale, actually. My family has been collecting wind-up toys since my dad was little. The Sparrow... sadly, I was unable to afford the one I saw.
Mile High Worldcon…and old Worldcon memories
Don't forget to try the hot pineapple juice trick for your throat. It's surprisingly helpful and tastes a heck of a lot better than salt-water. This was my first WorldCon and, besides the obvious reasons that it was memorable, I very much enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to Montreal.
Name that Tune
Bill, I never get these sort of questions and probably only got this one because of the Sondheim connection. I was learned, "I Remember Sky" for an audition. [Also, if anyone has the power to delete the double-post from me, I'd love that.]
Name that Tune
Ah. IMDB to the rescue. The John Collier story had the same title as Sondheim's adaptation.
Name that Tune
Ah. IMDB to the rescue. The John Collier story had the same title as Sondheim's adaptation.
Name that Tune
That's the plot to Evening Primrose, by Stephen Sondheim. Looking it up, I see a reference to it being based on a short story by John Collier which came out in the 1951 collection Fancies and Goodnights, but not the actual title of the story.
I tried doing an SMS short story serial about a month ago and immediately ran into the wall of message length. SMS allows 180 characters. I could crosspost it to Twitter, but that only allows 140 characters. Now, in Japan, 140 characters equals 140 words. In English, I could only get a couple of sentences per text. My cell phone allows me to put in 1000 characters, which it then breaks into packages. Unfortunately, it will break mid-word and not deliver the packages in order, so I couldn't rely on that. It was an interesting experiment, but I stopped after 9 episodes because the story I had planned didn't match the constraints of the form. I think I'd try it again, because it was fun, but it would likely wind up being a first person account like Othar, done as if my character where texting in real time. I was hoping that I'd find a new medium for doing serials.

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