Pixel Scroll 4/4/16 Do Not Scroll Gentle Into That Vile Hive

(1) HEAD OF THE CLASS. From Variety: “’Doctor Who’ Spinoff ‘Class’ Taps Katherine Kelly to Lead Ensemble Cast”.

“Happy Valley” alum Katherine Kelly has been tapped to lead an ensemble of newcomers in the “Doctor Who” spinoff “Class.”

Kelly will play a teacher at Coal Hill School, an institution that has been part of the “Doctor Who” universe since its inception in 1963. Students will be played by newbies Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah.

Filming on “Class” begins this week. There’s no word yet on a target premiere date for the BBC Three/BBC America series created by Patrick Ness. “Doctor Who” and “Class” exec producer Steven Moffat likened the series to a British version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

(2) ROLL CALL. Sci-Fi Storm completes the roster – “BBC announces the Class of Class”.

Joining Kelly as students at the school are Greg Austin (Mr. Selfridge), Fady Elsayed (My Brother the Devil), Sophie Hopkins (The Meeting Place) and newcomer Vivian Oparah.

With the focus on the young adult audience, each of the students is described as having “hidden secrets and desires. They are facing their own worst fears, navigating a life of friends, parents, school work, sex, sorrow — and possibly the end of existence.”

(3) TWO MINUTE WARNING. Tickets for next year’s Gallifrey One, the Doctor Who-themed convention in LA, go on sale April 16.

As we prepare for Gallifrey One 2017 ticket sales to start, please remember: tickets to Gallifrey One 2016 sold out in less than two minutes. We mention this because we want to emphasize very strongly that you should be prepared to be ready to purchase your tickets shortly before the time announced above….

2017 Ticket Prices

Prices for tickets to our 2017 Gallifrey One convention are as follows:

$95.00 Adult Full Weekend

$50.00 Teen Full Weekend (Ages 12-16)

$20.00 Child Full Weekend (Ages 3-11)

…Please note that we have elected to discontinue single-day tickets for 2017 in order to adequately support our entire attendee base with a complete weekend full of programming. All tickets will allow entry into the 2017 convention at any time throughout the weekend, and attendee badges can be picked up from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning.

(4) SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALL RIGHT FOR FIGHTIN’. Wall Street Journal’s “Speakeasy” blog covers Peter Dinklage’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.

There was the expected “GoT” parody (video above), which had Dinklage hosting an “HBO First Look” special on the upcoming sixth season. The gag here – other than Kate McKinnon‘s serviceable impression of Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) – was that there was a quite a bit of truth to Daenerys’s dragons being the show’s scene-stealers. As it turns out, the dragons’ camera-hogging is the result of Bobby Moynihan‘s obnoxious motion-capture actor.

Moynihan also showed up as the brains behind “GoT” – author George R.R. Martin – during Dinklage’s monologue.

NBC has video clips from the episode, including the Game of Thrones sneak peek.

(5) DRAFTING. Rachel Swirsky explores “The difference between draft 1 and draft 12ish of ‘Love Is Never Still’” with sample text and numerous bullet point comments.

I thought it might be interesting to look at a passage from my most recent story, “Love Is Never Still,” as it existed in the first and last drafts. By the time I actually publish a story, I’ve often forgotten what the first draft looked like exactly.

(6) RECOMMENDATION. Mark-kitteh wanted to point out Becky Chambers’ 2014 short story “Chrysalis” at Pornokitsch.  Make it so!

(7) PRE-TRIP REPORT. John Scalzi tells Whatever readers “What I’m Doing in Los Angeles Next Weekend”. He’s coming to LA for the LA Times’ Festival of Books, with other appearances on his schedule — one of the more out-of-the-ordinary is:

7 PM, Nerdmelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Ave, Los Angeles: I’m one of the featured performers at The Objectively Hottest Authors On Earth LIVE!, which is being presented in association with the Festival of Books. During the show, hosted by artist and comedian Sara Benincasa, I, Maris Kreizman, Cecil Castellucci and Isaac Fitzgerald will be saying and/or doing funny things, and being interviewed by Sara. It’s going to be fantastic. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, and if you want to show up, don’t wait — the room is, uh, not huge, as I understand it. I can’t say what anyone else has planned but I will be reading an recently-written funny piece that hasn’t been published anywhere yet (although I’ve read it in a couple of places and it killed), so the only place you’ll be able to enjoy it is live, and the only place I’m planning to read it live in the foreseeable future is here, at the Nerdmelt Showroom.


  • April 4, 1930 — American Rocket Society founded
  • April 4, 1975 — Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
  • April 4, 1983 — The space shuttle Challenger lifted off on its inaugural mission.


  • April 4, 1965 – Robert Downey Jr.

(10) THE MARGIN IS THE CUTTING EDGE. That seems to be Noah Berlatsky’s bottom line in his post, “Why Cutting-Edge Sci-Fi Is Often Penned By Marginalized Writers” at The Establishment. I wish he hadn’t spent half his wordage attacking somebody else’s paradigm, and just kept strengthening his case with more of the kind of enlightening analysis he provided about Delany and Le Guin.

“Great science fiction explores the philosophical possibilities of science’s impact on reality,” sci-fi writer James Wallace Harris declares at SF Signal. You take real science, you add brilliant philosophy, and you’ve got sci-fi. Right?

Actually, no. Harris’ article has been widely pilloried on social media because, in his tour of “cutting-edge science fiction,” he managed to make a list without citing a single piece of work by a woman or person of color. But what’s been less discussed is that his omissions are tied closely to the fact that his definition of cutting-edge science fiction is ludicrously limited.

(11) POC TOC. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction, funded by a Kickstarter appeal, will be another special issue of Lightspeed, guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, in partnership with section editors Nisi Shawl, Berit Ellingsen, Grace Dillon, and Sunil Patel, who are assembling a lineup of fiction, essays, and nonfiction from people of color.

The list of original short stories and flash fiction has been announced in the latest backer project update.

Original Short Stories/Novelettes (edited by Nalo Hopkinson & Kristine Ong Muslim)

  • A Good Home — Karin Lowachee
  • Firebird — Isha Karki
  • Fifty Shades of Grays — Steven Barnes
  • Depot 256 — Lisa Allen-Agostini
  • Digital Medicine — Brian K. Hudson
  • The Red Thread — Sofia Samatar
  • Salto Mortal — Nick T. Chan
  • Omoshango — Dayo Ntwari
  • Wilson’s Singularity — Terence Taylor
  • As Long As It Takes to Make the World — Gabriela Santiago

Original Flash Fiction (edited by Berit Ellingsen)

  • Binaries — S.B. Divya
  • Other Metamorphoses — Fabio Fernandes
  •  An Offertory to Our Drowned Gods — Teresa Naval
  • Morning Cravings — Nin Harris
  • Breathe Deep, Breathe Free — Jennifer Marie Brissett
  • The Peacemaker — T.S. Bazelli
  • Chocolate Milkshake Number 314 — Caroline M. Yoachim
  • A Handful Of Dal — Naru Dames Sundar
  • Hiranyagarbha — Kevin Jared Hosein
  • Four And Twenty Blackbirds — JY Yang

The appeal also funded horror and fantasy special issues, for which submissions are now being taken.

  • POC Destroy Horror! will publish in October, as a special issue of Nightmare Magazine, from guest editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The submissions portal for the issue is now open, so if you’re a POC writer, and you’d like to write something, by all means please do so and submit your story! Submissions are open now and close May 15, 2016. Just visit submissions.johnjosephadams.com/poc-destroy-horror to read the guidelines and to submit.
  • POC Destroy Fantasy! will publish in December, as a special issue of Fantasy Magazine, from guest editor Daniel José Older. The submissions portal for the issue will be open May 1 – June 15. Visit submissions.johnjosephadams.com/poc-destroy-fantasy to read the guidelines.

(12) KEY TO CHARACTERIZATION. “Why Character Agency is So Important” by Jadah McCoy at Fantasy Book Critic.

What the frick frack does character “agency” really even mean in relation to the wonderful world of book writin’? Character agency is such an integral part of writing believable characters, and it’s something that many people don’t really notice at all when reading.

Chuck Wendig puts it eloquently by saying, “Character agency is…a demonstration of the character’s ability to make decisions and affect the story. This character has motivations all her own. She is active more than she is reactive.”

In other words, the story responds to the character’s actions, not the other way around. Too many times I’ve sat in bed screaming at a character for their stupidity, for their inability to control anything around them, including themselves. Too many times these characters have done the Incredibly Stupid Thing because only the Incredibly Stupid Thing would move the plot forward, and it’s only at the expense of that character’s credibility. Just because isn’t good enough.

When decisions are taken away from the character, they become merely a pawn in a contrived chess game—one where all the moves are already planned out, and no matter where the pawn goes, the results will end up the same.

Characters are living things, like you and I. They think, they speak, they love and hate, they have desires and ideas, and they rebel (and often I can’t even control mine, they just commandeer whatever attempted plot I had penned out).  They are three dimensional. They are people on paper, and people have reasons for what they choose to do. They have thought processes, which sometimes they care to share and sometimes they don’t (not even with their own author).

(13) SEQUELS. “They’re Coming Back” is the title of a TV commercial for Independence Day: Resurgence, coming to theaters June 24.

Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.


(14) REMAKES. While you’re waiting for the Independence Day sequel, you can practice throwing stones at mere remakes. CheatSheet pontificates on “8 of the Worst Sci-Fi Movie Remakes Ever”.

Since science fiction typically rely on special effects more than most other types of films, it would seem that older films in this genre would generally benefit from being updated with the latest moviemaking technologies. Unfortunately, it seems that in many cases any improvement that a remake offers in the area of special effects is canceled out by bad scripts or poor casting decisions. For this reason, there are many science fiction films that are several decades old, but still manage to hold up better than remakes that were made only a few years ago.

It’s a tough audience! #7 is Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake.

(15) FUTURE TECH. “The future if literature was to be believed” – an infographic from the Red Candy blog.

Literature has always been a vehicle for predictions about future technology, which turns out to become a reality. Who knows you might well see some of these items in the near future!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Bonnie McDaniel, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

129 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/4/16 Do Not Scroll Gentle Into That Vile Hive

  1. Well, for poetry, there’s

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer..”

    The rule on the face of it is as stupid as any prescriptivist blather usually is. Of course you can begin a piece of fiction that way. Delaney begins Dhalgren with an infinitive, and that’s a much more awkward verb aspect to begin a story with.

  2. @Lucy Kemnitzer:

    Jim Henley– You mean like “Running through the fields on her last breath, Zlata didn’t notice the fairy had fallen behind to confront the water horse?” That couldn’t be the first sentence of a piece of fiction?

    According to The Rule, no! 😀

    Delaney begins Dhalgren with an infinitive, and that’s a much more awkward verb aspect to begin a story with.

    Ah, but does he? Does Dhalgren in fact “begin?” 😉 #alongtheriverrun

  3. The Writer

    On a cool Autumn’s eve
    At a Worldcon bound for nowhere
    I met up with the writer
    We were both too tired to sleep
    So we took turns a-starin’
    Out the window at the darkness
    The boredom overtook us,
    And she began to speak

    She said, “Child, I’ve made a life
    Out of writin’ people’s stories
    Knowin’ what the plots were
    By the way they held their tropes
    So if you don’t mind me sayin’
    I can see you’re out of ideas
    For a taste of your Oolong
    I’ll give you some advice”

    So I handed her my China
    And she drank down my last swallow
    Then she bummed a cigarette
    And asked me for a light
    And the night got deathly quiet
    And her face lost all expression
    She said, “If you’re gonna play the game, child
    You gotta learn to write it right

    You’ve got to know when to show ’em
    Know when to tell ’em
    Know when to passive voice
    And to gerund
    You never check your wordcount
    When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
    There’ll be time enough for counting
    When the writin’s done

    Every writer knows
    That the secret to good writin’
    Is knowin’ what to throw away
    And knowin’ what to keep
    ‘Cause every book’s a winner
    And every book’s a loser
    And the best that you can hope for is to Fail
    Better next

    And when she finished speakin’
    She turned back toward the window
    Crushed out her cigarette
    And faded off to sleep
    And somewhere in the darkness
    The writer she dreamt stories
    But in her final words
    I found advice that I could keep

    You’ve got to know when to show ’em
    Know when to tell ’em
    Know when to passive voice
    And to gerund
    You never check your wordcount
    When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
    There’ll be time enough for counting
    When the writin’s done

    Repeat to fade

    (Starring Badass Raadchai Ann Leckie as the writer. With apologies to Kenny Rogers)

  4. @Soon Lee


    Mike, this needs to be promoted to the front page.

  5. Thank you Bonnie. Blame/credit goes to Ann Leckie for the inspiration, specifically this comment upthread.

    And in the finest traditions of finding a typo after the editing window ends, it should be:

    On a cool Autumn’s eve
    At a Worldcon bound for nowhere

  6. To be fair, Shakespeare started one of his most famous soliloquies with an infinitive. And I started this paragraph with one. I don’t think it’s that awkward. 🙂

    “To see time as I have would drive mere mortals mad.”

    @Ann Leckie: loved the post. In fact, I’ve squirreled away a copy. I do have one minor quibble, though. I generally agree with you on “show, don’t tell”, but for SFF, it’s slightly better advice. Beginning SFF writers have a tendency to try to show their worldbuilding through infodumps of exposition. And in that context, saying “show, don’t tell” makes some sense. But, as I say, that’s a fairly minor quibble.

    On the other hand, I think maybe you didn’t go far enough about the passive voice. I mean, yes, you should learn to actually identify it before criticizing other people’s use of it, but I don’t think you need to be able to identify it to be a good writer. E. B. White was a pretty good writer, and he clearly had no idea how to identify it.* The thing to learn—the thing these advice books should be teaching—is emphasis, and how to shift it. The passive voice is nothing more than a tool for shifting emphasis, and as such, should be a part of every writer’s toolkit. At the same time, it’s only one tool for shifting emphasis, and you can learn about shifting emphasis to make your writing stronger without ever singling out the passive voice.

    * Of the four examples of “why the passive voice is bad” in The Elements of Style, only one actually uses the passive voice, and it’s bad for reasons that have nothing to do with the passive voice. This, of course, has contributed to the widespread confusion about the passive voice in the general population, especially in America.

  7. I’m committed to writing about characters who are not strong, not heroes, and whose story can only resolve by being woven into the stories of others–

    It’s not really a question of strength or heroism. It’s rather- are your characters completely passive observers that are acted upon? Are they merely narrative devices for the authors story? Or do they make decisions that drive the story? Do they have their own drives and motivations? Are they the center of their own universe, whether it’s an important one our not?

    While I can’t remember them by name, I think I can remember a few stories if read what the character had no agency. I think they were done that way to to emphasize the horror of the situation, one where the character is incapable of making any decisions.

    I’ve also seen books where the narrator is effectively a bystander, and their decisions make absolutely no difference in the story. Of course in that case, the person the narrator is talking about is usually the main character. And often I get annoyed with that narrator character for being so uninteresting.

    Oh yeah- I’m pretty sure that I’ve read a few old romances where the women had no agency- it was all the things that happened to her and then being taken up on the hero’s manly arms. They were kind of creepy.

  8. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” And maybe, like in HRJ’s upcoming book, that’s enough to turn the tide of actions carried out by characters with Big Agency.

    I was nodding along with one of the comments here at how right and good it was and scrolled up to see who wrote it. Ann Leckie, of course. LOL.

    “And came down” is how Chip D. began another story. A sentence AND a story beginning with a conjunction! Which then has a colon and a bunch of commas.

    @Soon Lee: Yes, this is AMAZING and perfect.

  9. @Xtifr I agree, one doesn’t need to be able to identify passive voice to write well–it’s a matter of understanding how to manipulate emphasis and the flow of information. But dang if quite a lot of folks giving out writing advice go on about how you should avoid the passive because [all entirely bogus reasons that betray a failure to understand the passive voice and its uses].

    And Strunk and White are top of my list of offenders there.

  10. My wife likes an herbal tea called “Tazo Wild Sweet Orange”. It has this whimsical text on the box:

    The juiciest of oranges are wrangled into your cup by tangy hibiscus flowers twirling lassos of lemongrass. Proving that wild oranges don’t need to be tamed, just understood.”

    Passive voice, but it works.

  11. @Soon Lee – well done!

    @Jim Henley – be that as it may, *I’m* @Ann Leckie’s Second Fifth Biggest Fan, and as such am better than you.

    ::squees in a quiet and dignified manner::

  12. Heh, one of my favorite counterexamples to one of the most common claims about why the passive voice is bad: “Mistakes occurred.”

    (Although that one’s aimed at Orwell, not White.)

    Of course, some people think that is the passive voice. Which only strengthens Ms Leckie’s point. 😀

  13. @Xtifr

    Wouldn’t that be the horrible, cover-your-ass phrase, “Mistakes were made?”

  14. @Bonnie McDaniel: yes, “mistakes were made” is what I was providing a counter-example to. The interesting thing is that my counter-example, “mistakes occurred”, is actually somewhat worse. While “mistakes were made” doesn’t tell you who made them, it does at least clearly imply that someone did. (A dangerous implication which may lead to a hunt for the guilty party.)The active-voice version, “mistakes occurred”, simply has them appearing spontaneously, the way Medieval folks thought flies appeared in dung. 🙂

    If “mistakes were made” is the reason you avoid the passive voice, then what you should really be avoiding is the evil, evasive, cover-your-ass active voice! 😀

  15. @Paul Weimer: Thanks for the Lady Trent Tor.com link; my niece reads the series, so I sent her the link.

    @Soon Lee: That was marvelous!

    @Xtifr: I’ll bite; what’re White’s four examples, three of which don’t even use passive voice?

    @Various: The ones I dislike are “write what you know” (maybe it’d be less widely misunderstood if it were phrased “know what you write”) and complaints that something “doesn’t further the plot” (who needs atmosphere or worldbuilding or even backgrounds? sigh; also, sometimes this gets used in a complaint that an author shouldn’t make characters gay/female/non-white/etc….sigh!).

    @Magewolf: Re. this:

    As to why this advice keeps being repeated in a simple form? Because they are important things for new writers to be aware of and the long form turns into a book about writing instead of advice.

    It seems like plenty of times, pithy one-liners just get repeated without understanding, like some kind of viral marketing phrase. Like “don’t use adverbs!” (ugh) I’ve seen the “avoid the passive voice” advice repeated as, eek, “don’t use the verb ‘to be.'” WTF?!

    Maybe we just need one simple rule: Don’t repeat pithy one-line writing rules. 😉

  16. @Kendall: “write what you know” and “doesn’t further the plot” and minorities

    I definitely agree that “know what you write” is a better idea, and I see both of those maxims (WWYK and DFTP) used to exclude Others in some variety of political correctness.* Worse, sometimes a variant of that idea pops up, as we saw recently with the Rowling/skinwalker example: “you’re not allowed to write about X because you aren’t X.” Certainly proper research is necessary, which should go without saying, but it’s unreasonable to expect authors to include minorities and then castigate them for… including characters unlike themselves. This is where I agree with the Puppies (to some degree) about “PC gone amok,” although I think they take that too far to the other extreme.

    Consider the twin problems of stereotyping (the character relies too much on accepted tropes) and prototyping (the character can’t deviate too far from those tropes). If a white author writes a character of Asian heritage into a book, there’s a certain pressure to make them “Asian, but not too Asian.” Don’t go far enough, and the accusations of “they’re coded white” come out. Go too far, and it’s a caricature instead of a character. Imagine a character who’s a woman of Chinese descent, but her family’s been in America for generations. She’s “an American, not a hyphen,” has never had an accent, and is sick of being seen as “exotic” because her heritage shows in her looks… but she doesn’t reject her heritage. It’s just not central to her life. How does an author pull that off without getting accused of making her inauthentic, even “too white”? The same goes for any other minority.

    There’s this sense that a minority character has to represent the minority, and in a positive light – which can really get in the way sometimes. Going to extremes for a minute, imagine a multicultural cast in a mystery novel. Everybody’s a minority of some kind. Can you make any of them the killer without being accused of prejudice against whichever minority they happen to belong to? (And man, erotica is full of this problem. There are entire subgenres that rely on racial stereotypes, to say nothing of gender roles. Try to break the mold in one way, and you can end up falling into an opposing fetish by accident.)

    I will be so glad when we get to the point that characters can just be themselves, rather than being The Gay One or The Jewish One or The Atheist or…

    * Note the lack of capital letters. IMO, every political stance has its own variety of political correctness, and that’s how I’m using the phrase here. If racists want the black guy to be the villain, and progressives want him to be the hero, making him anything other than an extra can upset one side or the other.

  17. @Xtifr: I’ll bite; what’re White’s four examples, three of which don’t even use passive voice?

    If you own The Elements of Style, you shouldn’t have to ask.

    * There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground.
    * It was not long before she was very sorry that she had said what she had.
    * The reason that he left college was that his health became impaired.
    * At dawn the crowing of a rooster could be heard.

    The original Strunk-only edition of TEoS is still around, which is how we know these can be attributed to White.

  18. @Kendall:

    also, sometimes this gets used in a complaint that an author shouldn’t make characters gay/female/non-white/etc….sigh!

    Right. You definitely shouldn’t make characters gay/female/non-white/etc. unless there’s a plot purpose to it. And if there is a plot purpose to it, your story is message fiction. And you shouldn’t write message fiction.

    See? It all makes sense!

    Maybe we just need one simple rule: Don’t repeat pithy one-line writing rules.

    You are my god.

  19. @Xtifr: Uh, yeah, obviously I don’t own it. 😉 Or I’m on “vacation”* and don’t know if I own it. Either way, no copy handy, so thanks. And wow, bad writing as well as bad examples of passive.

    * Does 10 days of helping parents downsize/prepare to move count as a vacation? 🙁

  20. @Jim Henley: 😉

    ETA: When you wrote “See? It all makes sense!” all I could hear was “Aristotle!” somehow.

  21. @Kendall Does 10 days of helping parents downsize/prepare to move count as a vacation?

    1. If your having fun. Maybe, depends on how tiring it is.

    2. If it feels more like a chore or what you do for family. Probably not.

  22. @Kendall: well, they were supposed to be bad sentences. More specifically, they were supposed to be examples showing why the passive voice is bad. White had no problem fixing them. The problem is that three of the four don’t even use the passive voice. This has left generations of students hopelessly confused about what the passive voice is and how you identify it. Which is basically the problem Ann Leckie was complaining about.

    Ironically, in his other writings, White actually seemed rather fond of the passive voice, for he used it slightly more than the average writer. Of course, since he didn’t seem to be able to identify the passive voice, it’s likely he was unaware of his fondness for it. But I don’t think any of that hurt his writing, which I quite enjoy. 🙂

  23. @Tasha Turner: There is a little fun in there, though it’s still tiring. 🙂 Let’s call it a chore with love; I’d do anything for them. 😀 But I may need a vacation after my vacation, LOL.

Comments are closed.