New Books and ARCs, 3/12/15

Today’s stack of new books and ARCs has one book that is sadly all-too-appropriate today. Let me know what else in this stack you have an interest in, in the comments.

RIP, Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett in Bologna, 2007. Photograph by Federico Giacanelli and used under Creative Commons license (original here)

It’s being reported that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. Which means that it’s a very sad day for lovers of fantasy and science fiction. Sir Terry (which I will call him here rather than “Pratchett” because, hey, have you been knighted?) had been dealing with Alzheimers for some time now, and his public journey with it, I think, did more to demystify the disease than anything else has in recent times.

More selfishly, he was the co-author of one of my favorite fantasy books of all time: Good Omens. I love that book insensibly.

I met Sir Terry only once and that fleetingly, but that encounter left me with a good story to tell, and I will share it now. It was at the 2004 Worldcon in Boston, where Sir Terry was the Guest of Honor. He was on a panel called “Looking Backward: the 20th Century,” along with Esther Friesner, Craig Gardner and me. I was definitely the junior member of this crew — Old Man’s War had not been published yet — and in retrospect I vaguely wonder whose idea it was to put a complete unknown on a panel with the convention’s GoH (whoever it was — thank you).

The discussion was far-ranging, and because we were talking about the 20th Century in the past tense, we started talking about what future archeologists would make of the century, with the notation that trash heaps were invaluable for acheological purposes; after all, everything everyone uses sooner or later is turned into trash. This prompted Sir Terry to note that archeologists in Jerusalem very recently came across two thousand year old cloacae (i.e., latrines), which, because they were in an anaerobic enviroment, their contents were perfectly preserved from when they were, uh, deposited, two millennia ago.

To which I replied, “Holy shit.”

And for which I was rewarded with still the largest laugh I’ve ever gotten at a convention, much less a Worldcon.

Mind you, the reason I got a laugh that large was because hundreds of people filled a room to see Sir Terry, not me. But for that moment, I got to share. And if memory serves, Sir Terry gave me a little duck of the head after I said it, as if to say, well played.

It’s one of my favorite moments of all my time in science fiction and fantasy, and it would not have happened without him. For that alone, he would be forever enshrined fondly in my memory. It is not that for that alone that he is fondly enshrined there.

My good thoughts and condolences to Sir Terry’s family, friends and fans. He is not replacable, but we were gifted by the time he was here. May his memory, and his writing, be a comfort to all.

Note to Businesses Following Me on Twitter

Please, please, please don’t just drop an ad/PR bit for your product into my tweet stream. One, it’s not nice, even if you didn’t intend not to be nice. Two, an ad/PR bit sent cold to my tweet stream will likely get you muted or blocked because you’ve shown me that you consider me a mark, which I don’t appreciate. Three, if you do it to enough people other than me, then you’re spamming. Which will likely get you blocked and reported by a number of people.

Which is to say that your ad/PR pitch will fail, which is the opposite of what you want.

This does not mean that your business account can’t tweet at me or talk to me — I get that all the time, and mostly it’s fun, and indeed a good corporate Twitter presence goes a long way with me (see: here, where a nicely laconic response to my frustration with a company’s product was on my mind when I bought the replacement product, also from that company (the replacement product works just fine)). But there is a difference between conversing with me — even while promoting your product — and just dropping an ad/PR pitch into my tweet stream.

If you’re a company who is hoping for me to promote a product of yours, via retweet or mention, first, read my policy on retweets, and second, outside of retweets the best way to reach me in terms of product awareness is through email. Yes, lots of businesses and publicists already do this, you won’t be alone. Dropping an ad/PR bit into my Twitter stream doesn’t work because I will mute it. I don’t mute PR pitches in my email. Email is where the pitches are supposed to be. In fact, I even have a publicity policy.

(Don’t send ads to my email, however. Those will just get shunted into the spam folder.)

In short: My tweet stream is not for company ads or pitches. Don’t make me mute or block you, it’ll just annoy the both of us. Thanks.