Pixel Scroll 11/29/16 In A Scroll On The Web There Lived A Pixel

(1) FURTHER DISCOVERIES. Two more Star Trek: Discovery cast members have been announced reports Variety.

Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp have joined Michelle Yeoh as the first official cast members of “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Jones will play Lt. Saru, a Starfleet science officer and a member of an alien species new to the “Star Trek” universe. Anthony Rapp will play Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist, fungus expert, and Starfleet science officer aboard the starship Discovery. Yeoh, whose addition to the cast was reported last week by Variety, will play Captain Georgiou, the Starfleet captain aboard the starship Shenzhou.

(2) IT IS WHAT IT AINT. Mike Resnick, in “What Science Fiction Isn’t”, says the history of science fiction is littered with discarded definitions of the genre. The creator of the field, Gernsback, SFWA founder Damon Knight, critic James Blish, all were sure somebody else was doing it wrong.

And what’s driving the purists crazy these days? Just look around you.

Connie Willis can win a Hugo with a story about a girl of the future who wants to have a menstrual period when women no longer have them.

David Gerrold can win a Hugo with a story about an adopted child who claims to be a Martian, and the story never tells you if he is or not.

I can win Hugos with stories about books remembered from childhood, about Africans who wish to go back to the Good Old Days, about an alien tour guide in a thinly-disguised Egypt.

The narrow-minded purists to the contrary, there is nothing the field of science fiction can’t accommodate, no subject – even the crucifixion, as Mike Moorcock’s Nebula winner, “Behold the Man”, proves – that can’t be science-fictionalized with taste, skill and quality.

I expect movie fans, making lists of their favorite science fiction films, to omit Dr. Strangelove and Charly, because they’ve been conditioned by Roddenbury and Lucas to look for the Roddenbury/Lucas tropes of movie science fiction – spaceships, zap guns, cute robots, light sabres, and so on.

But written science fiction has never allowed itself to be limited by any straitjacket. Which is probably what I love most about it….

(3) A PRETTY, PREDICTABLE MOVIE. Abigail Nussbaum’s ”(Not So) Recent Movie Roundup Number 22” includes her final verdict on Doctor Strange.

Marvel’s latest standalone movie has a great opening scene, and a final battle that toys with some really interesting ideas, finally upending a lot of the conventions of this increasingly formulaic filmic universe.  In between these two bookends, however, there’s an origin story so tediously familiar, so derivative and by-the-numbers, that by the time I got to Doctor Strange‘s relatively out-there conclusion, all I wanted was for the thing to end.  As noted by all of its reviewers, the film is very pretty, positing a society of sorcerers who fight by shaping the very fabric of reality, causing geography and gravity to bend in on themselves in inventive, trippy ways.  The film’s opening scene, in which bad guy Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and Dumbledore-figure The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) stage such a battle in the streets of London, turning buildings and roads into a kaleidoscope image, is genuinely exciting.  For a brief time, you think that Marvel might actually be trying something new. Then the story proper starts, and a familiar ennui sets in….

(4) THE CASH REGISTER IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD, Fanartists have been doing this all along – so Mr Men thought to himself, “I should get paid!” — “Mr Men to release a series of Doctor Who themed books”.

dr-twelfth

In a fun new partnership, BBC Worldwide and Mr Men publishers Sanrio Global have got together to create a series of Mr Men books based on each of the 12 Doctors….

The books be published by Penguin Random House and will combine “the iconic storytelling of Doctor Who” with the Mr Men’s “whimsical humour and design”.

And, of course, there will also be a series of related merchandise released to coincide with the first four books’ release in spring 2017.

They will follow stories based on the First, Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, played by William Hartnell (1963-1966), Tom Baker (1974-1981), Matt Smith (2010-2013) and Peter Capaldi (2013-present). The remaining Doctors’ stories will follow on an as-yet unconfirmed date.

(5) NORTHERN FLIGHTS. Talking Points Memo says the Internet is fleeing to Canada. Well, okay, I exaggerated….

The Internet Archive, a digital library non-profit group that stores online copies of webpages, e-books, political advertisements and other media for public record, is fundraising to store a copy of all of its contents in Canada after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.

Five hundred years from now will somebody be writing “How the Canadians Saved Civilization” like that book about the Irish?

(6) STOP IT OR YOU’LL GO BLIND. Gizmodo found out “Why Spaceflight Ruins Your Eyesight”

Astronauts who return to Earth after long-duration space missions suffer from untreatable nearsightedness. Scientists have now isolated the cause, but finding a solution to the problem will prove easier said than done.

The problem, say researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has to do with volume changes in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) found around the brain and spinal cord. Prolonged exposure to microgravity triggers a build-up of this fluid, causing the astronauts’ eyeballs to flatten, which can lead to myopia. A build-up of CSF also causes astronauts’ optic nerves to stick out, which is also not good, as the optic nerve sends signals to the brain from the retina. This is causing nearsightedness among long-duration astronauts, and it’s problem with no clear solution in sight (so to speak).

(7) APPLAUSE. Congratulations to JJ – her post about Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis series got a shout-out in Tor.com’s newsletter —

Your Praxis Primer Impersonations is the latest book in Nebula Award winning author Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis series, a standalone story that fits into the bigger arc of Williams’ ongoing space opera adventure. For a helpful rundown on the series, check out this guide to the Praxis universe, with links to excerpts for each installment! If you enjoy fast-paced, fun military science fiction like David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, pick up Impersonations, or start with The Praxis: Dread Empire’s Fall, the first book in the series.

(8) CARTER OBIT. Author Paul Carter has died at the age of 90 reports Gregory Benford. “I wrote a novella with him about Pluto and had many fine discussions at the Eaton and other conferences. A fine man, historian, fan.”

David Weber in his introduction to The Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera (2015) credited C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner’s “Clash by Night” (Astounding, March 1943) and Paul Carter’s “The Last Objective” (Astounding, August 1946) as two of the earliest examples of military science fiction (by which he means something a bit more cerebral than all the space opera that preceded them):

The Last Objective by Paul Carter appeared in 1946, but Carter wrote the story while he was still in the Navy; his commanding officer had to approve it before it could be sent to Astounding. It’s just as good as [Moore & Kuttner’s] Rocketeers, but it’s different in every other fashion.

Carter describes wholly militarized societies and a war which won’t end until every human being is dead. Rather than viewing this world clinically from the outside, Carter focuses on  a single ship and the varied personalities who make up its crew. (The vessel is tunnelling through the continental plate rather than floating on the sea, but in story terms that’s a distinction without a difference.)

Carter is pretty sure that his CO didn’t actually read the story before approving it. My experience with military officers leads me to believe that he’s right, though it’s also possible that his CO simply didn’t understand the story’s horrific implications.

Carter also wrote a book about sf history. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia says his The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction (anth 1977) “demonstrated an intimate and sophisticated knowledge of the field.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 29, 1948 — Kukla, Fran and Ollie debuted on television. (And a couple of years later, my father worked as a cameraman on the show)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 29, 1898 – C. S. Lewis

(11) HINES AUCTIONS KRITZER CRITIQUE. In the fourth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions, the item up for bid is a story critique from award-winning author Naomi Kritzer.

Attention writers: Today’s auction is for a critique of a short story, up to 7500 words, by Hugo award-winning author Naomi Kritzer.

Kritzer has been writing and selling her short fiction since before the turn of the century, and she’ll use that experience and expertise to help you improve your own story.

Disclaimer: Winning this auction does not guarantee you’ll win a Hugo award — but you never know, right?

(12) WE INTERRUPT THIS NOVEL. George R.R. Martin will attend a book fair in Mexico. Then he’s going to finish Winds.

My first real visit to Mexico starts tomorrow, when I jet down to Guadalajara for the Guadalajara International Book Fair: https://www.fil.com.mx/ingles/i_info/i_info_fil.asp I’m one of the guests at the conference. I’ll be doing interviews, a press conference, a live streaming event, and a signing. I expect I will be doing some tequila tasting as well. I am informed that Guadalajara is the tequila capital of Mexico. I am looking forward to meeting my Mexican publishers, editors, and fans. This is my last scheduled event for 2016. My appearance schedule for 2017 is very limited, and will remain so until WINDS is completed. So if you want to meet me or get a book signed, this will be the last chance for a good few months…

(13) THEIR TRASH IS HIS TREASURE. Artist Dave Pollot’s business is improving old, clichéd, mundane art prints and selling them to fans through his Etsy store:

holy-seagulls-batman

This is a print of repurposed thrift store art that I’ve painted parodies of Batman and Robin into….

The Process: This is a print of one of my repurposed paintings. I find discarded prints and paintings (ones you may have inherited from great grandma and brought to your local donation bin), and make additions. Sometimes I paint monsters, other times zombies, and most times some pop culture reference- Star Wars, Futurama, Ghostbusters, Mario Brothers…the list goes on. I use oil paints and do my best to match the style of the original artist. My hope is to take these out of the trash can and into a good home; full-circle- from a print that proudly hung on your Grandma’s wall, to a print that proudly hangs on yours.

(14) BANZAI LAWYERS. SciFiStorm reduces the bad news to basics: “MGM sues Buckaroo Banzai creators over rights; Kevin Smith exits project”.

Let me see if I can sum this up, as it seems a lot has happened very rapidly…MGM and Amazon struck a deal to develop a series based on the 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and signed on Kevin Smith, the creator of Clerks and all the other Jay and Silent Bob movies and the guy I’d most like to just hang out and have a beer with, as the showrunner. But original writer Earl Mac Rauch and director Walter D. Richter claim they have the rights to a TV series. So MGM preemptively filed a lawsuit to have a court to seek declaration of the rights.

Telling fans in a Facebook video…that the lawsuit was “news to me,” Smith announced that he has dropped out of the project.

(15) PLAQUE. Gregory Benford sent along a photo of the plaque he received as a Forry Award winner last weekend at Loscon.

forry-award-min

(16) TREE FULL OF TENTACLES.  Archie McPhee is working desperately hard to sell you this seasonal abomination:

While her Cthulhumas Wreath Creature guards the entrance to the house, this year there’s a bright red Cthulhumas tree watching everyone and everything and it never, ever sleeps.

‘Twas a week before Cthulhumas, when all through the house every creature was trembling, in fact so was the house. Not one stocking had been hung by the chimney this year, for fear that Dread Cthulhu was already near.

The cats were nestled all snug in their beds, completely indifferent to our cosmic dread. And mamma in her robes and I in my mask, had just steadied our minds for our infernal task, when from deep in the basement there arose such a din, at last we knew the ritual was soon to begin.

Down to the cellar I flew like a flash, lit all the candles and sprinkled the ash. Light on the altar came from no obvious point, it soon became clear time was all out of joint.

When what to my cursed bleeding eyes did appear, but a fathomless void, then I felt only fear. With a wriggle of tentacles and shiver of dread, I knew in a moment I was out of my head.

Then a nightmarish god, with his eight mewling young, burst forth from the dark and shrieked, “Our reign has begun!“

christas-cthulhu

(17) SPEED TYPIST. Just the other day File 770 lined to a clip from Chris Hardwick’s Almost Midnight all about Chuck Tingle.

Looks like it took no time at all for Tingle to write a book commemorating the occasion: Hard For Hardwick: Pounded In The Butt By The Physical Manifestation Of My own Handsome Late Night Comedy Show.

tingle-hard-for-hardwick

(18) ONE STAR REVIEWS. One-star reviews were a weapon used by some in last year’s literary fracas, though never with any sense of humor. But a Chicago Cubs blogger just put out a book about their World Series season — and it is getting the funniest bunch of one-star reviews I’ve ever read. Read this sample and it will be easy to guess why the author received such a hostile reception….

I know this author from the Internet. He runs a website and routinely posts opinions and people comment on those opinions.

Ín real life he routinely bans commenters on his website that disagree with him. This leads to one of the bad features of this book. If you think a bad thought about the book, it shuts close and you are unable to read it until you contact the author by email and apologize. This is an annoying feature.

Also in real life when one of the author’s website opinion posts are disliked by the majority of readers he deletes the post and comments like it never happened. This book has a similar feature in that the words disappear from the pages over time and eventually you are left with 200+ blank pages that really aren’t good for anything but the bottom of a bird cage. This decreases the value of the book and does not make it suitable for archiving.

Overall, I can’t recommend.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Harold Osler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

115 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/29/16 In A Scroll On The Web There Lived A Pixel

  1. I, on the other hand, avoid unnecessary travel to Canada. It’s not anything against the country, or even the hassle of showing my papers (though I remember when we used to boast of having the longest undefended border in the world). It’s waiting in that line before the border, sitting as patiently as I can in the right lane, while the left lane, which is reserved for holders of a particular pass, is periodically sped through by some jerk who then pulls in somewhere up at the front of the line in the right lane.

    If I go through that again, either on my way into Canada for a visit or through Canada to see if I can shave time off the trip to upper Michigan, I plan to call in the license plates of anyone I see cheating like that. The people at the border say they would be interested to know about it.

    All in all, I don’t seem to save any time going that way. It’s nominally an hour shorter, and if I don’t lose the entire hour back waiting in lines like that, I lose more than an hour off my stomach lining. I’d rather be driving than waiting.

  2. @Chip Hitchcock – OK maybe I need to ask some duh questions, like which country’s visa does that mean? Was the whispered idea going around that Chinese people made a bid for Worldcon to be held somewhere in China so that non-Chinese people would be forced to pay for a Chinese visa? The wording and dogwhistle evoked by the idea of “foreigners getting visas” is usually more along the lines of Chinese people trying to somehow get an American visa (or visa to other supposedly civilized/democratic/etc countries) to escape communist China etc. Is that what Crystal’s tweets refer to?

    @Lurkertype – *totally straight-faced nod* that sounds about right… ha ha

  3. Mike Glyer: If you read her tweets I think you will see that the reference to visas was gossip about the Croatian bid.

    Her tweets say she heard it about both Croatia and China.

    Sunhawk: OK maybe I need to ask some duh questions, like which country’s visa does that mean?

    In order to win a Worldcon bid, members of, or representatives for, the bid must attend several of the big conventions (Worldcon, Westercon, Balticon, Windycon, etc) to raise awareness, provide information, answer questions, and garner support in the two years prior to the voting. A bid which does not do this is not likely to win.

    Most bidcom members cannot afford the money and/or the time off to make all bid appearances at cons, so the bids try to arrange for at least a couple of people to represent them at as many of the larger fan-run cons as possible.

    The claim is that these non-US bids are done with an ulterior motive of getting a visa to get into the US on the pretext of promoting the bid, and then disappear somewhere into the US and never go back, I guess.

  4. @Mike – whoops I got confused between which suspicious people were being referred to for which suspicious thing :X

    @JJ – ahhh ok thanks, I had forgotten about the attending other Worldcons part of the bid process.

  5. JJ: The claim is that these non-US bids are done with an ulterior motive of getting a visa to get into the US on the pretext of promoting the bid, and then disappear somewhere into the US and never go back, I guess.

    Since nobody has told me the made-up story Huff is complaining about I can’t speak to it, but in my real-life experience with the subject, I was told the problems (for example) Romanians had was being allowed out of the country, thus the need to have the appearance of a legitimate reason like an invitation to participate in the Worldcon. In this post-9/11 world there’s a tendency to focus on getting into the US, but first people have to be free to leave wherever they’re starting from.

  6. Mike Glyer: In this post-9/11 world there’s a tendency to focus on getting into the US, but first people have to be free to leave wherever they’re starting from.

    Good point.

  7. @Mike – I think that’s a good point and it makes me sad to think that anyone living in a country that would need such a solid official excuse to be allowed to leave the country (ie likely due to an oppressive government of some sort imposing limitations on their freedom) would be the sort of people that others might view with suspicion rather than sympathy.

  8. Kendall: I’m in favor of a slight expansion to the Long Form editor category, to include stand-alone novellas for qualification purposes. IMHO that’s the best fit – it feels like it’s basically the same concept, a stand-alone book edited (I presume) like a novel.

    Bear in mind that there are already moves afoot to do something about the editor awards: Kevin Standlee has proposals for them, though has been holding them over until now because of the slating crisis. Since they would eliminate long form editors (and indeed short form editors as such, as opposed to their products), they would make this discussion moot.

    If they don’t pass, though, I’d agree that Long Form editor should be expanded to include novellas – though that makes the term ‘long form’ rather out of place. The distinction isn’t really to do with long and short forms; it’s to do with the difference between two kinds of activity that can both be called editing (as becomes clear when you consider that an anthology typically has a publisher’s editor as well as its headlined editor). And there, stand-alone novellas clearly belong with novels; the editor isn’t putting something together, as a magazine or anthology editor does.

  9. @lurkertype: I very much doubt the rising tensions in Croatia in 1990 had anything to do with the vote; Wikipedia confirms my recollection that Milosevic didn’t get violently stupid until months later. He’d been being stupid for some time before then, but most U.S. attention (at least, most news coverage) was pointed at a little border transgression, several hundred miles southeast of Zagreb, that directly affected our interests (and already looked during peak voting as if it would put U.S. bodies in bags). Croatia’s main problem was that the chair’s pleasant character was overcome by their increasingly obvious wankerhood.

    That China visas costs $250 was not widely known when they were bidding — which surprises me, as \somebody/ should have found it and yelled WTF — but it would incline me against such a bid if I were voting.

  10. @Andrew M: Yeah, short/long aren’t the best terms, and thanks for the reminder of Kevin’s proposals.

  11. @Kip W

    It’s waiting in that line before the border, sitting as patiently as I can in the right lane, while the left lane, which is reserved for holders of a particular pass, is periodically sped through by some jerk who then pulls in somewhere up at the front of the line in the right lane.

    My husband is Canadian. We live in Seattle, and we have a Nexus pass which legitimately allows us to use that right-hand lane you’re talking about. You’ll be happy to know that (here, at least) the Nexus lane has a separator about half a mile before the checkpoint, so once you get into it, you can’t get out, other than by parking your car and going inside to wait in line with other “people who have problems.”

  12. Lurkertype: I’ve got to find out the length of everything in “The Starlit Wood”, because a LOT of my nominations will be from that anthology.

    UPDATE: I contacted Saga Press, and they say that all the stories are short stories, with the exception of these, which are novelettes:
    Pearl by Aliette de Bodard
    The Briar and the Rose by Marjorie Liu
    Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
    The Other Thea by Theodora Goss

  13. @JJ: You’re a pal. And I’m glad the Liu is a novelette, because now it won’t have to jostle in short story.

    @Kip W: you do not know my digestive and immune system. 🙁 If the water’s not potable for drinking, I can’t even shower in it. Some countries don’t grok accessibility, either. Although all this hot pot talk is intriguing. I do like Chinese and Japanese food.

    @Lis: That is indeed what I was thinking, particularly the Germans in Florida example. I’ve never known (even distantly) anyone who’s had a gun held on them, but one who was stabbed and a few mugged with a blunt object upside the head. Which has happened everywhere, throughout history.

    @Jenora: What airports are using those millimeter scanners? I’ve never even seen one in my travels, even at border airports.

    I don’t recall any foreign Worldcon bidders overstaying their tourist visas. Even the Yugoslavians I met in 1982, who didn’t seem at all oppressed personally. I’ve NEVER heard this weird-ass accusation that Huff is spouting. I’ve been SMOF-adjacent for decades, too (I have resisted their attempts to become One Of Us).

    There are a ton of Chinese tourists here all.the.time. Rich Chinese people buy up a lot of property. Rich Chinese women come to the US the last couple months of their pregnancies so that their kids will have dual citizenship and can go to US universities at the native rate and work here easily. That happens in the land of maple-syrup igloos as well, and frankly, seems a MUCH better deal. Both my next-door neighbors and my BFFs next-door neighbors are native Mandarin-speaking immigrants (One set came b/c they’re Falun Gong). I learned in Britain to always get to the buffet before the Russians, lest I end up with no food and a smoky room.

    Even if it was true, so what? I’m not going to object to people looking for excuses to escape some communist or fascist dictatorship for a while — as long as they’re upfront about the costs, restrictions, amenities, etc. And judging by the kerfuffle over the Helsinki hotel rooms, one cannot be too clear on this subject.

    @Chip: Having to send them your passport for a while might put me off getting a visa for China even more than the $250 plus. If I had money for the flight, hotel, food, etc. I’d have the money for the visa — at that point, what’s another $250? But you’re right that it’s a fact that should be mentioned up front for budgeting purposes. I suspect $250 buys a lot of really tasty food in China.

    @Greg: At least you’ll be able to legally escape to civilization with your husband if need be. In the fast lane, even.

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