Pixel Scroll 7/22

An auction, eight stories and a tease in today’s Scroll.

(1) Attention collectors! Somebody’s flipping Ray Bradbury’s original caricature from the Brown Derby Restaurant today on eBay. Jack Lane’s portrait once hung on the wall at the famed Hollywood & Vine tourist trap with hundreds more of the artist’s sketches of Hollywood stars.

Ray Bradbury by Jack Lane. Once displayed at the Brown Derby.

Ray Bradbury by Jack Lane. Once displayed at the Brown Derby.

(2) The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will hold three special events next month celebrate Ray Bradbury’s 95th birthday, which is on August 22.

From Aug. 3 to 28, the center will present a free exhibit, “Miracles of Rare Device: Treasures of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies,” in the Cultural Arts Gallery on the first floor of the IUPUI Campus Center…. The exhibit will feature art, artifacts, books and rare magazines from Bradbury’s own collection, gifted to the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in 2013 by the Bradbury Estate and by Donn Albright, Bradbury’s close friend and bibliographer.

Two related public events will coincide with the exhibition’s run.

On August 19, Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will deliver the Second Annual Ray Bradbury Memorial Lecture in the Riley Meeting Room at Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library.

The lecture, “Ray Bradbury’s October Country,” reveals the timeless creativity and somewhat controversial publishing history of one of Bradbury’s most popular story collections on the 60th anniversary of its original publication.

On August 27, the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will host a reception followed by another Eller lecture, on the collection’s amazing journey from California to IUPUI and the importance of Bradbury’s legacy in the 21st century. Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

(3) James Artimus Owen is offering for sale his illustrations for Diana Pavlac Glyer’s forthcoming book about the Inklings, Bandersnatch, and has posted the images on Facebook. [Note: Despite being set to “Public”, the material can only be viewed if you have a Facebook account.]

Each illustration is drawn on 11″ x 14″ Bristol board, and includes an appearance by the Bandersnatch somewhere in the picture. Prices are as listed, ranging from $450 to $750, although I am willing to entertain offers from people I like. First request, first choice. Message me to reserve your favorite and to arrange payment and shipping.

Sharkado 3

(4) Everybody knows Sharknado 3 airs today on SyFy. But it came as a surprise for me to read that George R.R. Martin plans to show the movie at his Jean Cocteau Theatre in August.

“Check it out,” writes Martin. “Next year’s Hugo favorite, for sure.”

William Reichard says in honor of that crack, the movie should be renamed, “Snarknado 3.”

(5) SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld proposes this interesting premise —

A recent Guardian article about Tokyo awarding Japanese Citzenship to Godzilla got me to wondering: If you could pick a genre fictional character, from any media, and offer them honorary citizenship and residence in your city, county, state, country, who would it be, and why?

Responses from — Kelly Robson, Jenny Goloboy, Galen Dara, Anne Leonard, Patrick Tomlinson, Julie Czerneda, Alyx Dellamonica, Django Wexler, Jesse Willis, Diana Pharoah Francis, Mikaela Lind, Rhonda Eudaly, Gillian Philip, Ardi Alspach, and Laura Anne Gilman.

(6) Interested in stories read aloud? Open Culture has found another seam of the motherlode, 88 hours of free audio fiction original aired on Wisconsin public radio.

Listen to enough episodes of Mind Webs, and you may get hooked on the voice and reading style of its host Michael Hanson, a fixture on Wisconsin public radio for something like forty years. Back in 2001, just after wrapping up his career in that sector, Hanson wrote in to the New York Times lamenting the state of public radio, especially its program directors turned into “sycophantic bean counters” and a “pronounced dumbing down of program content.” Mind Webs, which kept on going from the 70s through the 90s, came from a time before all that, and now its smart storytelling has come available for all of us to enjoy.

The playlist above will let you stream all of the stories — roughly 88 hours worth — from start to finish. Or you can access the audio at Archive.org here.

(7) Of course they knew those comic books were stolen! The Verge has the goods on the great Texas comic book heist.

Whoever was after the Sub-Mariners and All Star Comics at the Heritage Auction wasn’t a collector. Their bids were too erratic, they didn’t know the market, and chances were, they weren’t terribly smart. It was also clear that they had a lot of money on their hands — too much money, maybe — and they were eager to spend it. Through months of interviews and hundreds of pages of public documents, The Verge reconstructed what they were seeing: a multi-million-dollar embezzlement scheme that would ensnare a crooked lawyer, a multinational corporation, and some of the most sought-out comics in the world….

$40,000 split between nine checks. The investigator said he was going through a nasty divorce, and was worried his ex-wife might raise trouble over any checks for more than $10,000.

But what about that foxing? When the buyers took their comics home, they noticed something strange: the All Star #3 that had sold in February had the same imperfections. In fact, it was the same book. But that book was slabbed — it had a barcode and provenance, sold to a private buyer who wouldn’t have deslabbed it without a reason. Had they bought stolen property?

It was worse. They had bought stolen evidence. The book had come direct from Chiofalo’s storage unit, smuggled out under the nose of the Harris County DA — and according to prosecutors, Blevins and Deutsch worked together to smuggle them out. More than $150,000 in comics had disappeared from the storage unit, and Blevins had spent the summer selling them at comics conventions across the country. The books were deslabbed to throw investigators off the trail, but even without the barcode, the cover gave it away. Collectors search for flawless comics, but it’s the imperfections that give them an identity, and this imperfection placed Blevins at the scene of a crime.

(8) Did Tolkien visit the Bouzincourt caves while on Army service during the Battle of the Somme?

In 1916, a 24-year-old British soldier named J.R.R. Tolkien went off to fight in World War I. He was stationed near the village of Bouzincourt, took part in the nearby Battle of the Somme and writes about the area in his diaries.

Jeff Gusky, an explorer and photographer who maintains a site called “The Hidden World of World War I,” believes Tolkien may have visited Bouzincourt’s caves, places where hundreds of soldiers took refuge during the Somme — and that some of his impressions ended up in “The Lord of the Rings.”

“I feel that this is the place,” Gusky said. “It’s so raw and unchanged from a hundred years ago.”

Tolkien scholar John Garth isn’t so sure.

“On the Somme, he certainly spent time in deep trench dugouts, and he would have been aware of the subterranean world of the army tunnelers — all of which would, I believe, have given his descriptions of Moria and other Middle-earth underworlds some of their vitality,” Garth, the author of “Tolkien and the Great War,” wrote in an email….

Regardless of whether Tolkien knew of the caves, there’s no question that the author’s experience at the Somme influenced “The Lord of the Rings.”

“The Dead marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme,” he wrote in a letter, according to a story on the Green Books portion of TheOneRing.net.

(9) “Stick a fork in the pup’s Tor boycott because their hushpuppy is done” says Jason Sanford.

Earlier this month I tracked the sales of a sample of ten book titles published by Tor Books. My desire was to see if the puppies’ boycott of Tor was having any effect on the publisher’s sales.

You can see the titles I tracked, and how I tracked the sales, in my original post or by looking at the endnote below.

But the flaw in my analysis was that I could only present two weeks of sales data since the boycott began on June 19. As a result, some people rightly said it was too early to tell if the boycott was failing or succeeding.

After examining two additional weeks of sales data it appears my initial analysis was correct. This new data shows that for the five weeks prior to the boycott starting on June 19, the weekly sales average for these Tor titles was 1652 books sold per week. For those same Tor titles, their weekly average sales for the last four weeks of the boycott has been 1679 books sold per week.

So on average, Tor’s sales for these titles are up slightly since the boycott started.

(10) Vox Day’s “Hugo Recommendations: Best Professional Artist” post is up. Don’t try and kid me, you know you want to read it.

[Thanks for these stories goes out to Dave Doering, Michael J. Walsh, William Reichard, Jim Meadows and John King Tarpinian as the Beaver.]

329 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/22

  1. BRACKET ROUND 4 – THE PENULTIMATE SHOWDOWN

    1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

  2. In case anyone missed previous postings of the rules:

    1) You can declare one book in a pairing the winner. An explanation why would be nice but is not required.

    2) You may declare any pairing a tie or say you cannot decide, An explanation why would be nice but is not required.

    3) You may declare that a book that I have selected as a representative book by an author is clearly THE WRONG BOOK, that author wrote another book which is CLEARLY superior, and you will vote for that one instead.

    4) You may declare that there is a science fiction book by a completely different author which is clearly better than EITHER BOOK that I have foolishly selected for a given pairing, and vote for that instead.

  3. 1. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    Zelazny is good, but Shelly’s book helped define the genre.

    2. Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    I will never vote against Le Guin.

  4. And then the fit hit the Shelley…

    1. Zelazny!

    Her smoke went up in smoke…

    2. Le Guin!

  5. Well.since I drempt that the final woild be a Shelly.and.LeGuin showdown(although my dream had Dune being knocked out in this round), I have to go with

    1 Frankenstein
    2 The Left Hand of Darkness

  6. And now for the gnashing of teeth and wailing

    1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

  7. This is going to be two wipeouts followed by Leguin vs. Shelley. BUT NOT BECAUSE OF ME!

    1. Zelazny.
    2. Tiptree.

    I can’t defend the first on the merits, but it’s my vote. I’ll go to the mat for Alice Sheldon, though.

  8. That comics story feels like a Leverage movie waiting to happen. Boggling, and the first I’d heard of it. Mike, I love your roundups.

    Kyra, the second match-up is evil, pure and simple, from the eighth dimension.

    1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Tie. Pure tie. We have here some of the best short fiction ever in sf, and one of the best novels ever in sf, taking up overlapping concerns. No resolution possible for me.

  9. Yesterday evening I returned from the boarding school at Castalia and I thought that I should like to go and look at my old haunts. I began to make enquiries about the present state of philosophy, and about the youth, whether any of them were remarkable for wisdom or beauty. Of the beauties, Wrightias said, I fancy that you will soon be able to form a judgment.

    At that moment, I saw Camestros coming in. By Heracles, I said, there never was such a paragon, if he has only one other slight addition, a noble soul.

    He is as fair and good within, as he is without, replied Wrightias. And at that moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and, O rare! I caught a sight of the inwards of his garment, and took the flame.

    But I controlled myself. Tell me, Camestros, I said, what, in your opinion, is Temperance?

    He said, in my opinion, temperance is quietness.

    Let us see whether these words have any meaning. Swiftness and activity are clearly better than slowness and quietness?

    Clearly they are.

    Then temperance is not quietness, nor is the temperate life quiet.

    I think, he said, Socrates, that you are right.

    Hear, then, I said, my dream: that the many, who are not as individuals excellent men, nevertheless can, when they have come together, be better than the few best people, not individually but collectively, just as feasts to which many contribute are better than feasts provided at one person’s expense. Let us suppose that we nominators are motivated by our love of the genre and desire to honor our authors. Fandom, thus provided, would collectively seek to identify excellence, and the wisdom of the crowd would emerge from our collaborative efforts. But whether a mylar-flecked algorithm that seeks to satisfy the demands of every subcommunity or squabbling, partisan faction is a better way to honor our cherished authors and make them happy, my dear Wrightias – this is the point which we have not yet been able to determine.

    I think, Wrightias replied, that if we do not nominate that which we truly love, our beloved writers will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else.

    Did you love “The Day the World Turned Upside Down,” or anything of that sort?

    God forbid. But I do believe that every fan should nominate whatever he or she thinks is great as a way to show respect, admiration and love for our hard-working and so often under-appreciated writers and editors, who, if I can try to put it delicately, didn’t get into this game for the money.

    Then, I said, we are giving up the false equivalence between “winning” because we are privileged to have an opportunity to participate in reading and helping to select finalists for an award to honor our community’s cherished authors and afford them some small measure of happiness, and “winning” because some of the candidates we support defeat the opposition. And Camestros, I think indeed that there is a mistake, and that I must be a bad enquirer, for wisdom or temperance I believe to be really a great good; and happy are you, Camestros, if you certainly possess it. Wherefore examine yourself, and see whether you have this gift; for I would rather advise you to regard me simply as a fool who is never able to reason out anything; and to rest assured that the more wise and temperate you are, the happier you will be.

    THE END

  10. Zelazny, always Zelazny. Lord of Light is my favorite book, period, so my votes for it can be taken as given.

    Can’t decide on the other pairing, though.

  11. 1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    This hurts. Sorry Roger, much as I love your work, Shelley’s stands higher.

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Not quite ‘close my eyes & point’, but near enough as makes almost no difference.

  12. BRACKET ROUND 4 – THE PENULTIMATE SHOWDOWN
    Oh look, I’m awake enough to vote early!

    1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    v. difficult choices. But fun to think about!

  13. 2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
    As Peter Watts is to James Nicoll, Tiptree is to me but she is to me a most beautiful writer.

    1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light because I enjoyed it much more than Frankenstein.

  14. One is hard, and one is easy to me, but maaaaan…..

    1. Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    I’m gonna go and cry in a corner now.

  15. Also, I haven’t seen Meredith in the comment thread for a while… I hope nothing is amiss there.

  16. 1) Arrrgh! It has to be Frankenstein for its enormous cultural footprint (and also I love the Romantics)

    2) Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, because it turns out Tiptree wrote a lot of my very favourite short fiction. While I appreciate the stories Le Guin writes, she doesn’t quite seem to have that same stylistic flair that the very best of Tiptree has.

  17. 1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

  18. 1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    Even outside of the distressing portrayal of women in LoL, Frankenstein again, gave us concepts we use in casual conversations. Nobody talks about LordofLightfood.

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    This is really difficult. But I choose the LeGuin because of the things it has to say about gender.

    Now damn it, in the next round how am I ever going to choose between Shelley and LeGuin?

  19. Rose:

    Now damn it, in the next round how am I ever going to choose between Shelley and LeGuin?

    the same way I make all difficult decisions. Have it chosen by proxy with a monkey knife fight.

  20. Go ahead; break my heart, why don’t you.

    1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    I love LoL, but Frankenstein is a towering work.

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Ditto: I love Tiptree, but LHoD was a revelation.

    *sob*

  21. “(10) Vox Day’s ‘Hugo Recommendations: Best Professional Artist’ post is up. Don’t try and kid me, you know you want to read it.”

    Nah. Truth be told, Mike, I’m no more interested in Vox Day’s opinions about art than I am in his opinions about fiction.

    But I would bet he wishes he could somehow have nominated The Triumph of the Will for the Best Dramatic Presentation Retro-Hugo.

  22. I got my Ray Bradbury bookends yesterday. Walked around with them cuddled in my arms the whole day.

  23. 1) Frankenstein. Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature was immensely helpful in refreshing me on the Shelley and opening up the Zelazny. Frankenstein founded the genre (at least in novel form.)

    2) TIE. The first 6 pages of “The Last Flight of Doctor Ain”–and my massive frustration at the last 2 not being available, damn your hide, amazon–is enough to declare Tiptree a force to be reckoned with, and to reckon with LeGuin.

  24. 1. BUDDHA AND VISHNU VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    I have to admit that I tried to read Frankenstein once, but bounced off the first couple of pages.

    2. A SONG OF SMOKE AND SNOW
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    As was said upthread, good as Tiptree is, she’s not good for my will to live.

  25. Actually, I’d like to hear some thoughts about the art categories in the Hugos. But I’m not interested enough in VD’s comments to give him the page clicks.

    I’m not familiar with any of the artists, and I’m finding it difficult to rank the packet without context. Does anyone besides VD have any strong feelings about them?

  26. Faulkner was once asked to name the three greatest science fiction writers of all time.

    “Roger Zelazny, Roger Zelazny, Roger Zelazny.”

    My apologies to the 4th, 5th and 6th greatest for having cheated.

  27. Curiously, Faulkner suffered a fatal heart attack a couple weeks before Zelazny’s first professional publication.

  28. Brian Z on July 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm said:

    Yesterday evening I returned from the boarding school…

    You raise a fascinating example – although I feel we’ve probably moved on from Wright and the Great Books. However, I simply cannot imagine what Wright would make of the Charmides as a dialog. Here Plato characterizes Socrates as a guy hanging out with his friend and basically watching young men go by and he and his friend basically sizing them up and commenting on their looks (and speculating on how they would look naked). Calling it a homoerotic subtext would be suggesting that it is in some way hidden – instead it is casual and clear and unselfconscious.

    Surely Wright has read Plato? Given his whole reverence for authority and the impact of Plato on Catholic theology he has to regard him as one of the greats and Plato is part of Adler’s ‘Great books’. Yet if somebody included such a scene in a SF novel or short story Wright would explode in fury and scream about SJWs and modern fixations on terrible things and who knows what else. Welcome to doublethink.

    [Note: the older men eying up younger people is creepy but it creepy irrespective of sexual orientation]

  29. Bracket:

    1. Shelley.
    2. Tiptree.

    No further comment. 🙂

    (Okay, ONE comment. I find it interesting that although the bracket rules clearly say that we’re voting on authors and not works, voters keep debating the merits of the chosen works and lamenting that Favorite Book X wasn’t selected instead. I don’t get it.)

  30. Will stop voting here. Everything left on the list is stuff I have downvoted at earlier times.

  31. Shelley/Le Guin.

    I may have to disagree with VD less than normal. His artist pick is Kurt DouPonce, and anyone who receives a brief for a book called Amish Vampires in Space and manages to turn something in is a pro.

    (Obviously I voted Dillon, her work is gorgeous)

  32. I suppose that the other implication of Sandford’s numbers is that the TorFriday response didn’t have a measurable effect either. Which is fine, because those indulging in it didn’t believe their actions would measurably effect Tor’s bottom line, just that it was symbolic support for Gallo and the others targeted by calls for “consequences”.
    Whereas VD, Grant, et al appeared to genuinely believe they’d have an effect or get a response. I think the crickets coming from Tor have been the best response (certainly an improvement on Doherty’s attempted mollification).

  33. Camestros, I’m glad you liked it. I would doubt Wright has problems with the Charmides. On modern stories with bisexuality, didn’t he write an homage to Lazarus Long? On the other hand, I just googled and he claims to have been unable to finish either Dhalgren or The Female Man.

    I imagine Wright would be sympathetic with Plato’s meditation on the murky relationship between self-knowledge, self-restraint and happiness. Whether he would see relevance to the Hugo Awards, I don’t know.

    (And as I’m sure you know, Socrates’ dream is in reality a transplant from Aristotle.)

  34. Mark on July 23, 2015 at 12:45 am said:
    I suppose that the other implication of Sandford’s numbers is that the TorFriday response didn’t have a measurable effect either. Which is fine, because those indulging in it didn’t believe their actions would measurably effect Tor’s bottom line, just that it was symbolic support for Gallo and the others targeted by calls for “consequences”.
    Whereas VD, Grant, et al appeared to genuinely believe they’d have an effect or get a response. I think the crickets coming from Tor have been the best response (certainly an improvement on Doherty’s attempted mollification).

    I think it’s clear that the Puppies in general aren’t very good with numbers and neither do they know much about business.

    For example, Grant stated that the boycott would have a ‘six figure’ impact on Tor’s sales. He obviously picked this number out of his behind because he thought it sounded impressive, not because he’s capable of backing up this analysis with any sort of calculation, but I had two thoughts immediately on reading it:

    a) that’s a rounding error in Tor’s annual accounts;

    b) if your tawdry endgame is forcing the dismissal of Irene Gallo, don’t you have any idea how much it would cost to remove and replace a long-standing senior employee at a New York publishing firm? Compromise agreements, notice periods, recruitment fees etc.? Why would they go to all that expense and hassle for such little benefit?

    (I don’t know how much it would cost either, but I can imagine a range of possibilities based on my corporate experience.)

  35. I don’t think the boycott is going to prove/has proven effective, but this analysis is still like saying, “Now I have two anecdotes!” For all I know, book sales are heavily cyclical and there are always June/July rises to match the end of year boom, and Tor executives are even now packing Irene Gallo’s desk because their sales figures are so far below expectations. Or maybe she’s getting a massive bonus, because Torday reversed the usual massive summer drop in sales. We’d need a lot more data to make any sort of reasonable guess.

  36. The OCTOBER COUNTRY draws a great deal of its content(s) from DARK CARNIVAL, which has a good handful of badly thought out stories (like “The Ducker”) which read well until you thought about them. The revisions were good, and probably for the best.

  37. At a casual glance, it looks as though the poster for Sharknado 3 OH HELL NO is one of the illustrations for that forthcoming book about the Inklings.

  38. Rev. Bob: We’re voting on works because the poll maker listed works not names standing alone.

  39. Oh, so speaking of Tiptree: for a while I’ve been meaning to check out Tiptree and (especially) Russ, but none of their work appears to have been released as ebooks. Any guesses as to the likelihood that someone will decide it’s worth investing the money to publish them in that format?

    Ever since the first time I had to move post-college I’ve hated physical books and would always prefer an electronic version.

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