Tuesday 2 February 2010

From Your Blogosphere Correspondent (02/02/10)

It's been another busy few days in the blogosphere, but I'm afraid to say that many of the last week's developments have been either bad or downright sad. No drum rolls today, please. Without further ado...

On Wednesday the 27th, a message posted from Kage Baker's sister and caregiver related the awful news that the author, who had been diagnosed with uterine cancer, had "reached the end of useful treatment". In the early hours of the 31st, she slipped away. According to Kathleen, she met the prospect of her Long Sleep bravely.

I've never read a Kage Baker novel, but I'd often heard great things about The Company, a series she began in 1997 that has only grown stronger - I'm told - in the years since. As such, I don't feel in any real sense qualified to mark such a tragic event here on The Speculative Scotsman, though I'll say that despite my lack of familiarity with her work, her passing left me with a lump in my throat and has cast a pallor over the days since.

I don't know how it makes me feel to know so much about such an terrible, intimate thing as a woman's last moments, but without the updates on The Green Man Review - you can go here to find out more - I can't imagine there would have been such an outpouring of support and latterly sympathy from the community, and that can only be a good thing.

ARCs be damned, I will read a Kage Baker novel this year. I only wish that it was in my power to do more.


Moving on.

Also over the weekend, Amazon, in their eternal quest to cut out the middlemen and line their conglomerate pockets with the spoils of war, managed to make an enemy of the entire speculative blogosphere. After a disagreement with Macmillan over the pricing of ebooks, the great bullies decided, in their infinite wisdom, to refuse any further sales of the publisher's books from their store - be they the paper versions or the electronic equivalent. But what has come to be known as Amazonfail was only just beginning.

Now although I've ogled the iPad along with the rest of the internet, I don't have an e-reader, and I'm based in the UK - Scotland, don't you know - so I can hardly speak with any authority on the particulars of what happened between Amazon and Macmillan, but I'd point you towards Leviathan author Scott Westerfeld's Zinc Blinked blog for a concise, step-by-step summation of the scandal as it developed.

My immediate, uninformed reaction to the situation was: well, isn't it in readers' best interests if Amazon insists on keeping the prices of ebooks low? Let it be said that I was sorely mistaken. Do not make the mistake of thinking, as I did, that this disgusting grudge match is playing out for anyone's benefit but Amazon's own.

Amazon have since recanted, although not at all gracefully. So crude was their statement, in fact, so insulting, that I'll be cancelling my Prime membership immediately and buying all my books from Waterstones' website in the future. They offer free postage to UK addresses and everything.

Hold tight, readers; there's one last bit of bad news to report before we move on to cheerier stuff. As per my worries in the last edition of From Your Blogosphere Correspondent, the first original episode of considered Battlestar Galactica spin-off Caprica aired in the States on Friday, and died a death in the ratings. In fact, despite the feature-length pilot having been out on DVD since April '09 and available in the interim to watch online for free, 'Rebirth' couldn't even match its paltry audience, with only 1.4m viewers tuning in to watch.

Is Caprica doomed? The short answer is, very probably. With the likes of Warehouse 13 a smash hit on the sickeningly rebranded network, SyFy - sneer with me - seems to be moving exponentially further away from the sort of provocative science-fiction drama Caprica represents. Ultimately, why would they spend serious money asking the big questions when they can churn out derivative drivel and have viewers shit themselves in anticipation for the next stupid warehouse-based mishap?

Sadly, unless the ratings improve dramatically, I don't see a second season of Caprica as a very likely prospect at all. More's the pity. In two short weeks, this show has already gone to some incredible places. Profound, thoughtful and introspective television is apparently not something Americans respond to. Honestly, why go to all the bother of creating these brilliant series if all you're going to do is kneecap them?

Now I'm just depressed. The tragic death of an SF&F great before her time; the Amazonfail scandal; and the States' downright apathetic reception to the best new show on TV in years. It really hasn't been a great week.

One last thing before I go. Gav from nextread has lifted one of the subjects I raised in Had We Worlds Enough and Time and How We Read: An Addendum last month and craftily attributed the inspiration for the question he answers in How Many Is Too Many? to the great Mark Charon Newton. But I do not eat the sour grapes; the community has responded in force and there's a great conversation going on in the comments section. If you stop by to have your say, though - and you should - do The Speculative Scotsman a favour: tell him I sent you.

That's it for today.


  1. I have mentioned your original question, How do you read?


    And attributed the source of:

    And Mark Charan Newton, the trouble maker (just read his blog), made a comment, on The Speculative Scotsman:


    So anyone can click the links on the blog and visit and comment on your blog. So to say I 'lifted' on of your subjects is misleading in itself.

    Mark raised a singular point about the obsession with reading for the sake of ticking another book on the list and me and others talked about it on Twitter and brought that conversation to my blog.

    That's the nature of blogging that topics move and evolve and it's a bit childish to accuse someone of stealing your ideas just because they get responses that you didn't.

  2. Perhaps I've been a little territorial, Gav - apologies for that; I certainly didn't mean to step on your toes. At the end of the day, though, I was pointing readers in your direction. The community at nextread has obviously had more time to gestate that the readers have here at TSS, and the responses are coming thicker and faster there than they did here. I believe that how we read is a valuable conversation to have, and I understand how the nature of blogging means that topics change and evolve, shifting from one resource to another along the way. Hence "I do not eat the sour grapes". Hence the link. Hence the advice to visit nextread. Was I not clear on that point?

    I do, however, wish you'd linked to the post Mark had replied to in the first place, rather than the addendum in which I quoted his response to the question I'd asked not in How We Read, but the previous feature article linked to from that piece. How We Read, and Mark's quoted comment therein, was a direct response to Had We Worlds Enough and Time - links above and on the sidebar - in which I posed many of same questions you do in in How Many is Too Many? Am I wrong to wish you'd attributed the question that provoked the answer rather than the answer devoid of its proper context?

    In any event, I certainly wasn't out to offend you, Gav. I hope you can understand that rather than calling me another name. I'm truly glad the conversation is happening - wherever it's happening.

  3. This has got to be the worst blogger fight I've ever seen.

    If you guys aren't going to throw chairs at each other, you might as well just hug. Do one or the other, at any rate, because I will apeslap you both just to feel the pain.

    For what it's worth, though, there are a shitton of blogs out there, all reading at the speed of light and I can still get through them all in a day. Why is this a problem?

  4. Or we could band together, a Scotsman and a Welsh gent, and take on the English as Nevvie suggested earler.

    Although I suspect Sam'd be happier if we worked this out with longsword and/or shurikens.

    I'm up for a hug though. Hug?

  5. Well, if we all remember, it was America (The States) that nearly shot down Battlestar Galactica when it was just getting off the ground, but the UK salvaged that potential disaster and we thankfully ended up with four full seasons.

    I did my duty as an American sci-fi lover and tuned in to watch Caprica and I loved it. Seeing Adama as an 11-year-old was crazy enough, and the origin of the Cylons is shaping up to be very intriguing!

    The problem is that the channel that Caprica airs on is a terrible, terrible network. When they're not showing quality programming, they're filling up the rest of the day's airtime with silly B-movies and reruns from programs of yesteryear. There's just no reason for people to tune-in in the first place. I would have missed the premiere altogether had I not changed to that channel on accident. ><

    It's a sad thing. Hopefully the UK bails us out again.

  6. Public blogwar update: I'm sorry to say that no hugs, despite threats from Sam "crotch-stomp" Sykes, have been forthcoming. And I'm behaving childishly? Longswords at dawn it is, I suppose. Ah well.

    Considering the name-calling, I think I've apologised more than enough for one day. You could at least have the good grace to tell me to shove it rather than sulk, Gav. That said, if this is goodbye, I wish ye and nextread well.

  7. There isn't any smoke and mirrors going on - it was just easier to see the quote in the follow up post - so I linked to it. I was more interested in debating with Mark and Harry but I wanted show where the debate started for me and it started reading Mark's quote and poking him on twitter about it and Harry joined in as did others so I took it onto the blog.

    No sulking. I just haven't had time to get back you.

    No hard feelings but it might be better off to mention it to someone you're unhappy first rather than publicly post your annoyance on your blog - especially if your in danger of accusing them of 'lifting' or should that be stealing from you. They might response in the public way.

    So apology accepted. Can we go back to enjoying books now?

  8. Done and done. Let's do exactly that, Gav. I promise to attack you in private the next time the urge overcomes me - although I say again, I hadn't meant that last paragraph to be any such thing.

    But I'm very glad the longswords are back in their sheathes. I haven't sharpened mine in ages, anyway. Facing off against you with that would have ben like getting poked with a twig.

  9. To that end, I have decided to declare a blogwar on both of you.