SENSOR SWEEP: Sedate Magazines, Sexist Twaddle, Mistaken Gambles, and Moral Nature

Wednesday , 23, November 2016 5 Comments

Appendix N (The Pulp Archivist) Questions for Investigation — “When did the idea that the pre-Campbell weird tales and the pulps suck become common? I have a hard time believing that it was prevalent during the 30s through the early 70s. Many of the early Campbell writers were friends with Lovecraft and his Mythos circle. Others wrote for Weird Tales and similar non-Campbell pulps even as they wrote for Campbell. In fact, working in the pulps was a tradition that lasted decades.”

Books (Misha Burnett) The Walking Plants — “The dangers that Wyndham’s survivors encounter, both human and non-, are just as potentially lethal as anything on The Walking Dead, but they are far more reasonable and, hence, more exciting to me. There is a logic to the triffid apocalypse that, sadly, is lacking in the zombie apocalypse. I strongly recommend this novel. It was published in 1951, but I feel that it stands up well to the test of time. A true classic.”

Pulp Revolution (Barbarian Book Club) Goodbye Asimovs — “I have a digital subscription. Correction, had because I’m way over waiting for an actual SFF story from this magazine. The latest issue was the last I will ever read. Not one of the stories was an actual SFF piece. The only SF was background window dressing or downright stupid. The crowning achievement of the magazine was an idiotic novella about a gay waiter who traveled to Colonial times pretending to be an angel and getting the locals addicted to meth so he can take back Paul Reveres silver spoons. A premise so stupid and insulting I wanted to toss my Kindle.”

D&D (Cirsova) Parrying: I Get It Now — “One of my big pet peeves is that a lot of people do melee wrong; in D&D, once two characters are in melee, they are in melee period, until one of them dies or spends a round trying to run away. Characters who are in melee can be attacked by characters not in melee without those characters attacking becoming locked. Now, this is important for a reason: high HP low AC fighters and clerics lock down the bad guys by getting them into melee – those baddies so engaged cannot just say ‘Well, I’m going to attack the squishy wizard/thief now because I’ve randomly chosen a new target!’ They are stuck fighting those opponents until they die, run away, or kill them. While stuck fighting the bruisers, the baddies can be backstabbed and bespelled with impunity by the thieves and magic users, unable to strike back.”

Pulp Revolution (Seagull Rising) Cirsova, The Cover Art — “There are nine people shown. Five of them are sitting down. Of the fours people standing, only one is actually moving, and that figure is tucked way off into the back. One of the covers is nothing but a landscape. Thrilling tales of adventure more certainly do not await. This is a sedate magazine filled with people doing the same things they do in our world, only against a backdrop of stars and castles. There’s no last minute changes to the hyper-drive coils. There’s no fight against a scaly natural disaster in lizard form that breathes fire. There’s just a whole lot of people sitting around talking about life and love and stuff, you know?”

Appendix N (David Drake) Manly Wade Wellman — “Manly was a lot smarter than I in my arrogance (my stupid arrogance) gave him credit for. As one example that can stand for many (this, by the way, is a peril of a memory as good as mine is: I remember many things that embarrass me with the eyes of hindsight), Manly was adamant that cocaine was an addictive and destructive drug, based on his experience as a police reporter in Wichita. Karl was sneeringly certain of the medical opinion that cocaine was non-addictive.”

Television (Tor.com) Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Third Season Overview — “Not that the season is a total loss. For starters, in a show that generally succumbed to the worst sexist stereotypes of its era, the third season gives us an amazing collection of very strong and vibrant and fascinating female characters, particularly Miranda Jones, Mara, Vanna, Natira, and Zarabeth. (Of course, the final episode almost managed to singlehandedly undo all this work with its appallingly sexist twaddle…)”

Comics (Tor.com) Pull List: Mockingbird and Comics’ Feminist Growing Pains — “Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk’s Mockingbird was a badly needed antidote to that noise. Sadly, Marvel made the inane decision to cancel it before it found its footing, and the comics world is all the worse for it. And to top it all off, trolls drove Cain off social media all for having the audacity to be a woman on the internet. For fans, we’re in the awkward position of being in the midst of a great feminist revival in comics while also dealing with haters who loathe any change that lessens their own sense of self-importance.”

Television (Tor.com) Come Out, Come Forward: Supergirl, “Changing” — “Climate isn’t the only thing changing on this week’s Supergirl, amirite? Seriously, though—while a scientist empowered by an alien parasite gets defeated before he can continue his quest against climate change deniers, other characters make concrete changes in their identity, from coming out of the closet to adopting a new persona.”

Planetary Romance (Tor.com) The Sleeper Has Awakened: Welcome to the Reread of Frank Herbert’s Dune! — “Over half a century ago, a little publishing house called Chilton Books (primarily known for their auto manuals) put out a novel called Dune by Frank Herbert. It was not an immediate success—despite the fact that Herbert had sold an earlier version of the tale to Analog magazine—and the editor who obtained the book was let go following his mistaken gamble.”

Game Design (Gaming Ballistic) Defensive Options in Dragon Heresy — “For a rogue/thief to out-damage the fighter, they have to be sneaky, and have to employ their backstab ability, which no longer does tons of raw ‘hit point’ output, but instead has a much better chance of bypassing ‘hit points’ entirely, and going right to wounds.”

Pulp Revolution (Between Wasteland and Sky) Light Shining out of Darkness — “Tired of the bland mainstream fantasy, science fiction, and horror markets? Then pick up the Soul Cycle books. They are the shot in the arm that’s been so desperately needed to the genre since the 80s. Fresh blood, fresh execution, and fresh results, make Souldancer an even more rewarding read than the original. Pick this up! You won’t regret it.”

Appendix N (Rawle Nyanzi ) At the Earth’s Core — “The book has a strong sense of adventure, giving the reader many scenes of scenic vistas and accounts of mighty deeds. The main character, David, is constantly beset by many a foe, from the dinosaur-like wildlife to the brutish cavemen and even the dominant race of that world, the Mayhars. While some time is spent explaining things, most of the time is taken up by action, with little to no flashbacks about life on the surface or some other thing. David knows what he wants, and he goes straight for it.”

Pulp Revolution (Barbarian Book Club) The Biggest Sin of Story — “If you are looking for adventure, heroism, mystery, and wonder, the last place you will find it is between the pages of today’s major SFF magazines. Instead, you will find dull, depressing, pointless character pieces that lack agency, action, and plot.”

Culture (RT Question More) Western laws now clash with moral nature of man — “What’s happening in the Western countries is that, for the first time in human history, legislation is at odds with the moral nature of human beings. What’s good and evil? Sin and righteousness? These could be defined in both religious terms and non-religious terms. If you take a good character from English, American, or Russian fiction, you will see that all of them possess the same qualities. Why? We have different cultures and different political systems, but for all of us good is good, and evil is evil, and everyone understands who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are. So how do we distinguish? With our heart, with our moral nature. This moral nature, created by God, served as a foundation for the legislation which is designed.”

Appendix N (Puppy of the Month Club) Puppy Talk: An Interview with Schuyler Hernstrom — “I am coming late to the discussion but in the end everything points to much larger issues. I’ve come to find that my thinking on the genre is like putting a magnifying glass on the elephant’s tail. I feel like I need to go back to anthropology, philosophy, and try to understand how cultures create their values and what that means. When I feel as if I am living among ruins, is that just me being maudlin? Medieval Italians took stones from the Coliseum to build houses. What are we dismantling now?”

Pulp Revolution (Seagull Rising) It’s Not Just You — “People are tired of genre fiction that doesn’t fill a need for inspirational heroism. They are done waiting for the coastal cocktail party crowd to fill that need. They are hungry for fiction that reminds them of the value of truth, honor, and beauty. They can’t quite put their finger on the problem, but most of them aren’t so much interested in solving the problem as they are interested in handing over their money to those who can solve it for them.”

Board Games (Rawle Nyanzi) A Clarion Call to Censor Conan — “The feminists are declaring that damsels may no longer be portrayed. That no woman may be shown in a sexually alluring light. That all games must hew close to 21st-century Bay Area progressive thinking or you’re Satan Hitler from the Ku Klux Taliban.”

5 Comments
  • Rawle Nyanzi says:

    Thanks for the linkbacks, Jeffro. It’s terrible what they’re trying to do with that board game.

  • Anthony says:

    “Supergirl”: All the blatant propaganda of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” without nearly the caliber of writing!

  • JD Cowan says:

    Thanks for the link again!

    I now have the urge to read some Conan and Manly Wade Wellman.

  • Anthony says:

    I just noticed that Tor is the one that’s really on a roll with the “It’s good because Feminism!” schtick.

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