Oscars, Campbells, Claire Light, Joe Hill, Amnesty International, Shenandoah

This seems to be the week for aggregate entries, doesn’t it?

*Today is usually the day when I usually write a follow-up entry about my Oscar predictions, to make any adjustments to the predictions I made when the nominations came out. However, this year I find I have nothing new to add: the Oscar landscape hasn’t changed in any appreciable way since nomination day. So, in case you missed it: My predictions.

*For those of you who will be voting on Hugos and Campbell nominations (there’s about a week left to get in your votes), here’s a handy site to let you know who is eligible for the Campbell this year. The Campbell, just to remind all y’all, is the award for the best new SF writer. Yes, I am eligible, as are Merrie Haskell, Justine Larbalestier, David Moles, Sarah Monette, Cherie Priest, Chris Roberson and other worthies. We all rule.

*Claire Light uses a review of The Ghost Brigades as a springboard to discuss war and literature and how one can read military SF such as I’ve written and still have deep-seated philosophical issues with war: “You should simply be letting yourself enjoy the action, oohing and aahing over how cool the guns are, and then walk-of-shaming back to your public debate with a broken bra-strap, realizing that the seductiveness of war isn’t so much evil as human.”

I think this is an interesting point to make; my take on it (which may not be Claire’s) is that needing to philosophically examine the issue of war every time you take in a military SF book would be like needing to have a philosophical examination of alcoholism every time you drank a beer. You could, but then you’d probably end up drinking alone.

*Incidentally, if any of the librarians who read the Whatever would be so kind as to send me the review of The Ghost Brigades that’s apparently in the 3/1 edition of Booklist, you would be my new best friend. Thanks.

*I was recently given a copy of 20th Century Ghosts, which is a collection of short stories by writer Joe Hill (no relation, one imagines, to the controverisal Wobblie activist, nor, I suspect, to the kid I went to high school with who had the same name, because although I’m sure he grew to fine manhood, at the time it was doubtful he was literate in any meaningful sense). These stories are largely in the horror genre, and I’m happy to say they’re spooking the holy living crap out of me, in that “read a story and then set the book down and wiggle your fingers to get the creepy out of them” sort of way. Which is naturally what you want in this particular genre. I’m not a huge horror reader, but I know good horror when I read it (and also, good writing), and this would be that. If you’re ready to be deeply creeped, I would recommend this. Also, I have to salute any writer sneaky enough to slip a story into the book in an unexpected place as a way to reward the people who read oft-ignored portions (as I do).

The one drawback here is that this collection’s publisher, PS Publishing, is based out of the UK, so finding the book in the usual online channels is a little more difficult than it should be: It’s not on Amazon or BN.com. However, it looks like Clarkesworld Books has it in trade paperback and in signed hardcover. Both appear to be limited editions, so you know the drill on that (you can also find it at Shocklines and Camelot Books). Check it out and enjoy.

* Note to Amnesty International: One really good way not to get a contribution from the Scalzi family this year is to have your telemarketing firm call four times a day trying to reach us. Yes, I realize human rights are important, but so is my ability to look at my call waiting during my work day and not see your telemarketer’s number more than once, especially as I’ve told your donation monkeys to call after 6pm to talk to my wife, who coordinates all our charitable giving. I tell other non-profits this and they seem to get the concept. I’m not sure why you don’t.

One more day of your drones calling multiple times and I’m making a contribution to the Pinochet defense fund. Thank you. That is all.

*One of the nice things about subscribing to Rhapsody is that it is easy to call up a song and hear a dozen versions of it all at once — which is a really informative way to get to know a song. I’m currently listening to two dozen versions of the traditional song “Shenandoah,” sung by everyone from Bob Dylan to Leontyne Price. It seems that, sadly, most of the people who want to sing the song actually can’t sing the song — it really is designed for people with truly magnificent voices (for example, Ms. Price and also Paul Robeson) who also have some concept of phrasing. And you say “duh, aren’t all songs?” Well, yes, but some songs can tolerate bad singing and phrasing better than others, while others reward truly good singing. This song falls in the latter category.

One of my favorite versions of the song, incidentally, is the version by the Yale Spizzwinks acapella group: I think the guy in front is over-emoting a bit, but the song really lends itself to an acapella rendition, enough so that I think any other instruments sort of distract from it, which is not a good thing as so many versions feature plinky-plink “Americana”-style banjo/mandolin/guitar/whatever. Other versions feature that sort of overbearing orchestration that I associate with classic Disney animation, and that’s no good, either. The human voice: Good. Everything else: Not so much. Not that anyone listens to me.

* Remember to get your suggestions in Reader Request Week 2006. Leave your requests in the linked thread, not here. There are some good requests in there already, but there are always room for more. Thanks.

15 Comments on “Oscars, Campbells, Claire Light, Joe Hill, Amnesty International, Shenandoah”

  1. I’ll dig up the Booklist review for you. I’ll need your mailing address, though. You can email me.

    Your favorite MN librarian :-)

  2. “the seductiveness of war isn’t so much evil as human”

    Moving from SF to its next-door neighbor: Has anyone else noticed the irony in that the two most popular epic fantasies in circulation now (excluding JRRT), both with requisite medieval militarism, are written by a decorated veteran who graduated from the Citadel (Robert Jordan) and a conscientous objector to the Vietnam War (George R. R. Martin)?

  3. I feel your pain regarding telemarketers for charities. The only only charity that I ever stopped donating money to was Habitat for Humanity and the reason I stopped giving them money was because of the antics of their telemarketers.

    I started giving to Habitat for Humanity in the early 90’s and I would give them about $150.00 (Canadian)a year. For various reasons, I would give them this money in the fall. Every year I would get a call from one of their telemarketers in the spring asking for money. I would patiently explain that I gave them money in the fall and that I would give them money again in the fall. This was never good enough; I always got a song and dance about how their funding cycle started in the spring and how they needed the money in the spring. I never budged and would give them an annual donation in the fall.

    I finally got sick of these incessant phone calls from Habitat for Humanity and I finally wrote them a lawyerly type letter telling them to stop it. They did that year. The very next year, the telemarketing started again.

    I dropped Habitat for Humanity as one of my charities. It’s too bad that their telemarketing arm is so foul, since I actually support the goals of the organization.

    On a related note, you should always be careful about giving to smaller charities that use telemarketers for fundraising. Typically these smaller charities don’t have the infrastructure to do the telemarketing themselves and contract that function out to a telemarketing firm. These firms will keep up to 95% of the money that they raise. Essentially the money you give is not going to the charity, but is going to the telemarketer.


  4. For about 24 GBP (about $45 U.S.) Amazon.co.uk will be happy to sell anyone a copy of Mr. Hill’s book. Price includes air mail shipping. Interesting note – my Amazon U.S. login name and password worked just fine, brought up all my shipping/billing addresses and credit cards.

  5. I thought you might be interested to know that TGB is on the shelves at the Navy Exchange in Jacksonville FL. Front facing as well. This is a big deal for me since the pickin’s are usually slim and consist primarily of mass market paperbacks. Bravo Zulu!

  6. We’re doing a little survey over at Cognitive Daily to see if people’s accuracy in predicting Oscar results has anything to do with the number of nominated movies they’ve seen. You can click on my name to add your predictions to the mix.

  7. One of my friends was in the Spizzwinks. :-) I have their ~1993 disk, which also has “Shanandoah” on it.

  8. And you say “duh, aren’t all songs?” Well, yes, but some songs can tolerate bad singing and phrasing better than others, while others reward truly good singing. This song falls in the latter category.

    Some songs demand croaky, screetchy, warbly, out of control voices. Hell, I’m sure you could fill a bookshelf with songs done by people with good voices pretending they have terrible voice.

    There’s also this thing that people call “Punk.” Though the word doesn’t mean anything coherent these days, it used to be an actual genre of music, which overwhelmingly preferred bad, or at least… bad-seeming voices.

    FWIW, the most reviled singer in Japanese Girl Group Morning Musume (MICHISHIGE Sayumi) performs rather efficiently on their Oi-punk song “Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu niwa Naranee!~”
    Yes, I do look for any excuse to bring up Morning Musume, it’s not your fault.

  9. John, you may wish to mention (if you do not think it’s overkill) that it’s not Hugo VOTING that closes midnight PST March 10th – it’s Hugo NOMINATIONS. Clicking on the link does make that clear. If you are eligible to nominate (a member of either this years or last years Worldcon) it is really more influential than voting. Nominators are a much smaller group.

    Once the finalists are selected voting will likely close sometime in July.

    Just finished Ghost Brigades and enjoyed it thoroughly. I do see what you meant when you said it was darker than Old Man’s War.

  10. Just reread your Oscar post and have one nit to pick. The Murderball guys were actually all quadriplegics which makes the fact they they could kick your ass even cooler.

    By the way it was the only nominated movie between Best Picture and Best Documentary that I have seen all year (although that was on DVD).

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