WWWednesday: October 14, 2015

This week’s Word for Wednesday: “Scobberlotcher,” a noun, means an idler, a slacker or lazy person. The first documented example of it in writing is in 1697, in one of historian John Aubrey’s Brief Lives  books. Writing of a university dean, Aubrey said that many students at the university were scobberlotchers who drank and wandered about and “telling the numbers of trees.”

I wonder if “scobberlotch” could be a verb.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Interior Illustration, Amazing Stories Quarterly, 1929, Frank R Paul.

Nobel Prize for Literature

Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is best known for her book on Chernobyl, but her first book is titled War’s Unwomanly Face and records the experiences of some of the million-plus Soviet women who fought in the Second World War. Her second book charted the stories of children during the Soviet-Afghanistan war.

Alexievich was born on May 31, 1948 in Ukraine, to a Ukraine mother and a father from Belarus. She started work as a journalist at an early age.

Her work is an unconventional form of journalism. On her web page, Alexievich says, “I’ve been searching for a genre that would be most adequate to my vision of the world to convey how my ear hears and my eyes see life. I tried this and that and finally I chose a genre where human voices speak for themselves. Real people speak in my books about the main events of the age such as the war, the Chernobyl disaster, and the downfall of a great empire.”


The short list for the Geekie awards was announced. Yes, there is such a thing as a Geekie Award. The things I learn writing this column. Here is a sentence from their mission statement:  “The Geekie Awards® is an award show by geeks for geeks™, aimed at putting the true geek culture in the spotlight as a collection of valid, respected, award-winning genres for storytelling and creation.” (A hat tip to File 770.)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

City on Venus, Frank R Paul


A missing chapter of the epic poem Gilgamesh was discovered in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The piece has been in an Iraqi museum since 2011, acquired from an “unnamed shady character!” Apparently, the main characters of the poem express regret for destroying the sacred cedar forest. The description of the forest and landscape, unusual in Babylonian poems of this period, and the words of Enkidu found on the tablet lead to the conclusion that Gilgamesh and Enkidu believe that destroying the trees was morally wrong, a sense that has not come through in other translations of the poem. Later, the two friends meet a monkey.

This children’s book has kicked up a controversy on the internet. The picture book’s hero is a black little boy who likes pink even though “boys aren’t supposed to.” He wishes he could somewhere where people are nicer to him… maybe Mars. A children’s writer named Meg Rosoff groused about the book on a Facebook page, and Twitter ignited. Apparently Rosoff feels that making the hero a young gay character is “an agenda,” and that the author should “write a pamphlet, not a book.” Some of her comments didn’t make much sense to me. “You don’t read Alice in Wonderland to learn about rabbits.” What?

Ursula LeGuin is reissuing a revised Steering the Craft, her book on writing. In this podcast, she talks with David Naimon about her belief that you will not restructure society until you restructure language. (This podcast has a very looong intro!) Ursula LeGuin can make a discussion about diagramming sentences exciting, and she does here.

I had not realized that Stephen King’s book Mr. Mercedes is both a detective novel and the start of a trilogy, but apparently it is both. The UK Guardian shares some data on the prolific and constantly changing writer’s latest project. (H/T to Ryan.)

Vanity Fair offers us the scariest new books that are coming out. The Schiff nonfiction account The Witches is a must-have for me! Gold Fame Citrus, on the other hand… the description makes me think it’s trying too hard.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

August, 1928 Frank R Paul


Indie comics companies talk about strategies to become “entertainment companies” with movie, television and game tie-tins.  It’s an interesting article with one sentence that set my teeth on edge – the guy who says his company is “a content company with a great content engine.” What does that even mean? His “content” could be flavored popcorn for all we know. Sorry, I think that’s my pet peeve.

Red Sonja told us about her wardrobe change in the Sunday Status Updates, but two other female heroes are getting new costumes as well. Partly, this may signal that they are characters in their own rights now, not just eye candy. And it may be that now that so much skin has been shown for so long, covered-but-clingy is the new black – basically, it’s a novelty that can also look hot.

Movies and Television

Last weekend’s New York Comic-Con hosted a plethora of panels and special screenings, including the new X-Files. Tor.com provided an article on the X-Files panel.

On his blog, George RR Martin announced that HBO has optioned his corrupt-small-town-with-werewolves novella The Skin Trade. This was the first thing I ever read of Martin’s and it knocked me out. It lends itself perfectly to episodic television.

Science and Technology

Can you tell how many of these items are from the world of Star Trek, and how many of them exist in today’s world? I started off great and quickly nose-dived, so of course I take issue with the wording of a couple of the questions. It’s still pretty fun.


We have a couple of active giveaways: Joao’s interview with Stephen Aryan; Identify our Covers, Expanded Universe and of course, our City of Blades giveaway.


Another tidbit from the Guardian, which is asking people to send pics of the “healthy spaces” in their cities. Got a favorite pocket park, river-walk, playground or arboretum? This could be the place to show it off.


The Toast wants us to peruse this study of unhappy women dancing. My favorite is, “He must never find out that I hate to twirl.” (Warning, naked people.) Thanks to Kate for this one.

IO9 shares the movie posters we never got to see.

Terry found some amazing metal wall art and firepit art on Etsy. She likes the Mount Doom fire-pit but I’m leaning toward the Viking ship.

You may recognize some of the artwork in the column today; they are covers and interior illustrations from the pulp era. Frank R Paul was born in 1884 and had a successful career with these wild images. He wasn’t limited to SF pulps. He completed cover art for westerns, detective tales and romances. I love the black and white one, because they’re on roller skates!

These images are from the website of Frank Wu, an articulate superfan with lots of interesting information about Paul, and an artist in his own right. Check out his site.

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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  1. Arcanist Lupus /

    Regarding Large Fears, is the character specifically stated to be gay, or does he just like the color pink? Because I find the equating of the two to be rather problematic.

    I don’t mean to say that liking pink doesn’t make for an excellent metaphor for being queer – because it does. But the story can have a queer message regardless of whether Little Jeremiah himself is queer.

    • It’s an interesting question and I haven’t read the book yet! I think in the book, it’s just that he gets ridiculed and bullied for liking pink — but the author sees his character as gay.

      • Arcanist Lupus /

        Also, I think it’s interesting to contrast this book with the “Pinky and Rex” series I read in elementary school about a boy who likes pink and a girl who likes dinosaurs (guess which one is Pinky and which one is Rex).

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