Pixel Scroll 12/14/16 The Wee Pawn Shops Of Ishtar

(1) ATTENTION ON DECK. Star Trek: Discovery has cast its lead reports Entertainment Weekly.

Sonequa Martin-Green, well known to genre fans for her role on AMC’s mega-hit The Walking Dead, has been cast as the lead of Star Trek: Discovery, sources tell EW.

The casting ends meticulous search to find the ideal actress to anchor the eagerly anticipated new CBS All Access drama. Martin-Green will play a lieutenant commander on the Discovery. (CBS Television Studios had no comment.)

Martin-Green is will continue to serve as a series regular on AMC’s zombie drama, where she has played the tough pragmatic survivor Sasha Williams since season 3

(2) CREATOR OF KRAZY KAT. The Washington Post has a review by Glen David Gold of Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand, a 600-page biography of the creator of “Krazy Kat.” Tisserand explains why Herriman was so subversive, literary, and weird that his fans included T.S. Eliot and Umberto Eco.

Genius is simplicity. A dog, who is a policeman, loves a cat who loves a mouse. The mouse throws bricks at the cat, and the policeman jails him. Some aspect of this, more or less every day, for more or less 30 years, was the comic strip “Krazy Kat.” In isolation it seems as though it dropped out of the sky, and when its creator died in 1944, to the sky it returned. It has since been recognized as one of the greatest American comic strips, a mix of surrealism, Socratic dialogue, low-rent vaudeville, jazz improvisation, Native American motifs and, as it turns out, a subtle — so subtle no one seems to have noticed at the time — commentary on the peculiar notion of race.

(3) FOLLOW THE MONEY. A Reuters infographic charts the cumulative weekly box office take of all previous Star Wars movies, for those who want to see if the new release is as successful.

With the release of Rogue One, the first Star Wars anthology film, Disney is hoping to expand the Star Wars universe with stories that run outside of and in tandem with the main saga

(4) NEED FOR SPEED. Jay Leno’s Garage had Neil DeGrasse Tyson go to JPL to drive the Mars Rover, reports John King Tarpinian. There’s also a YouTube clip of Tyson along for a different ride “Jay Leno Blows Out The Window In His Jet Car.”

Blast off! Jay Leno takes Neil DeGrasse Tyson for a ride in his jet car. Built in Jay’s garage, the EcoJet has 650 hp and a Honeywell LTS-101 turbine engine. Watch the season finale of Jay Leno’s Garage Wednesday, December 14 at 10p ET/PT on CNBC!

 

(5) NAUGHTY OR NICE. The BBC tells how a gaming company dealt with a “troll”: “Fable video game team hunted down troll”.

The images had been posted to Lionhead’s own forums, which gave the staff access to the internet protocol (IP) address of the person who had uploaded them.

IP addresses can easily be traced back to a physical location through a variety of online tools, assuming the user has not taken steps to conceal the details.

In this case, the 16-year-old culprit had not taken the precautionary measure.

“We knew where the guy was living and managed to get a hold of the guy’s high school record through a mate, including the poem that he had recited at his end of year [class],” Mr Van Tilburgh said.

“We wrote a public message as Lionhead Studios to the group Kibitz and we started the message with the opening lines of the poem he had recited in high school, and we included the landmark he could see from his house where he lived.

“And I said, ‘You have got to stop this now otherwise I pass all this information on to your mum.’

Chip Hitchcock comments, “I’d have called this induhvidual a hacker or thief, but the interesting feature to me is the civil-liberties issue the article completely ignores. I wonder whether the gaming co. tried talking to the police or just assumed that would be useless (or at least not as effective as vigilantism).”

(6) FOX OBIT. Bernard Fox, who specialized in playing eccentric Englishmen on American television, has died at the age of 89 says The Hollywood Reporter. A popular actor who got a lot of work, he found some of his bit parts resulted in repeated callbacks.

Fox appeared as Dr. Bombay on 19 episodes of Bewitched, which ran from 1966-72, and then reprised the role on the 1977 sequel Tabitha, in 1999 on the soap opera Passions and on a 1989 episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

In a 1998 interview, Fox said he drew inspiration for Dr. Bombay from a man he served with in the Royal Navy during World War II.

“He was the officer in charge of the camp that we were in, and it was an all-male camp, and one evening, I was on duty and we got six Women’s Royal Naval Service arrived to be put up,” he recalled.

“So I went to this officer and said, ‘What shall I do?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, give ’em a hot bran mash, some clean straw and bed ’em down for the night.’ And I thought, ‘What a great way to play [Dr. Bombay.]’ And that’s the way I played him, and [the Bewitched writers] just kept writing him back in.

“If I’d just gone for an ordinary doctor, you wouldn’t have heard any more about it. But because I made him such a colorful character, that’s why they wanted him back; he was easy to write for. They came up with the idea of him coming from different parts of the world all the time and in different costumes; that was their idea. The puns, I came up with, and in those days, they let you do that.”

Fox’s genre credits include the movies Munster, Go Home!, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Yellowbeard, and The Mummy, and appearances in episodes of TV series The Flintstones (voice), I Dream of Jeannie, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Wild, Wild West, Night Gallery, Fantasy Island, and Knight Rider.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 14, 1972  — The end of an era: Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan re-entered the lunar lander — the last man to walk on the moon.
  • December 14, 2005King Kong remake debuts.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born December 14, 1916 — Horror novelist Shirley Jackson.
  • Born December 14, 1946 – Actress Dee Wallace

(9) WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? This gallery of 10 actors who have played Darth Vader wouldn’t make a good clickbait quiz because you wouldn’t remember half of them.

(10) POP-UP MUSIC. James Davis Nicoll asked his Facebook friends, “Has anyone done an angry song from Hermione’s point of view? Perhaps called ‘No, I won’t do your god-damned homework.’” His question inspired JTigwell to instantly create one. Tune in at Soundcloud – “(Hermione) I won’t do your fucking homework”

Nicoll has the complete lyrics at More Words, Deeper Hole. Here’s the last verse —

I know you’re always saying,
I’m the girl who has no fun,
But listen up here boy who lived,
I’m the girl who gets shit done

(11) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #16. The sixteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of a Blaze Ward novel AND a Tuckerization.

Today’s auction comes from author Blaze Ward, for an autographed trade paperback copy of AUBERON and a Tuckerization (meaning you’ll show up as a minor character) in one of Ward’s forthcoming books. You can be either a hero or a villain — your choice!

About the Book:

Jessica Keller faces court martial for disobeying a direct order. Her actions also prevented a massacre during the latest starship battle between the Republic of Aquitaine Navy (RAN) and the Freiburg Empire.

What does this maverick commander have to do to impress the RAN high command? To get the Freiburg Empire to declare her a threat? And at what cost to herself?

Auberon–the first novel in The Chronicles of Jessica Keller–combines adventuring to distant stars with seat-of-the-pants excitement. A fascinating expansion to the Alexandria Station universe.

(13) NEW YORK SF FILM FESTIVAL. The first New York Science Fiction Film Festival takes place January 20-22. It’s only a conflict for those of you with Inauguration Ball tickets – which is to say, none of you at all.

The festival will serve as a meeting place where creativity and expression takes center stage with a highly acclaimed lineup of science fiction, horror, supernatural and fantasy films and virtual reality entertainment. Valuing the importance of filmmakers from all walks of life, the festival presents to audiences modern masterpieces where storytelling transcends expectations and possibilities are endless.

Highlights include the USA premiere of Marcos Machado’s UFO’s in Zacapa (Ovnis en Zacapa) (2016), the NYC premiere of Marco Checa Garcia’s 2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be (2016) and the East Coast premiere of Ian Truitner’s Teleios (2016). Among its many gems, the festival is also proud to screen Hiroshi Katagiri’s Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016) starring Doug Jones (Hellboy) and Lance Henriksen (Alien), Lukas Hassel’s Into the Dark (2014) starring Lee Tergesen (The Strain) and a prominent virtual reality block featuring Ben Leonberg’s Dead Head (2016) and Ryan Hartsell’s I’ll Make You Bleed (2016) set to the music of the band These Machines are Winning.

The festival will run on January 20, 2017 at Instituto Cervantes (211 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017), January 21, 2017 at Producers Club (358 W 44th Street, New York, NY 10036) and The Roxy Hotel Cinema (2 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013) and January 22, 2017 at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue [at 2nd Street], New York, NY 10003).

(14) BUT THERE ARE NO OLD BOLD COLD EQUATIONS. Paul Weimer has worked up a great Twitter thread based on the discussion of “The Cold Equations” here at File 770.

(15) POPULARIZING SF IN CHINA. The Hugo-winning author is the genre’s spearhead in China – “’People hope my book will be China’s Star Wars’: Liu Cixin on China’s exploding sci-fi scene” in The Guardian.

When he was a schoolboy, Liu Cixin’s favourite book was Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. This might seem like a fairly standard introduction to science fiction, but Liu read it under exceptional circumstances; this was at the height of the Cultural Revolution, in his native China, and all western literature was strictly forbidden….

But more than 40 years ago, growing up in a coal-mining city in the Shanxi province, a young Liu found the book that would alter the course of his life, hidden in an old box that once belonged to his father.

“No science-fiction novels were published, and people did not have any notion of scientific imagery,” Liu recalls. “At the time, almost all the translated novels from the west were strictly banned, so I had to read it in secret. This very book turned me into a sci-fi fan.”

It wasn’t until the late 1970s, when China experienced economic reform and the strictures on western literature were relaxed, that science fiction was translated widely into Chinese. With this came a sudden surge of Chinese authors writing in the genre – and Liu wanted to be one of them. But instead of studying literature, he got a job as a power-plant engineer in Yangquan. But what looks like a career diversion was entirely strategic: the stability of his career meant he could write, he says.

“For about 30 years, I stayed in the same department and worked the same job, which was rare among people of my age. I chose this path because it allowed me to work on my fiction,” he says. “In my youth, when I tried to plan for the future, I had wished to be an engineer so I could get work with technology while writing sci-fi after hours. I figured that if I got lucky, I could then turn into a full-time writer. Now looking back, my life path has matched my design almost precisely. I believe not a lot of people have this kind of privilege.”

(16) NASA VISUALS. NASA now is sharing its best images on Pinterest and GIPHY.

On Pinterest, NASA is posting new and historic images and videos, known as pins, to collections called pinboards. This social media platform allows users to browse and discover images from across NASA’s many missions in aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight, and more, and pin them to their own pinboards. Pinboards are often used for creative ideas for home decor and theme-party planning, inspiration for artwork and other far-out endeavors. To follow NASA on Pinterest, visit:

https://www.pinterest.com/nasa

NASA also is now on GIPHY, a database and search engine of animated images in GIF format. Users can download and share the agency’s creations on their own social media accounts, and can be used to create or share animated GIFs to communicate a reaction, offer a visual explanation, or even create digital works of art. These GIFs are accessible directly from the Twitter app. Just tap or click the GIF button in the Twitter tool bar, search for NASAGIF, and all NASA GIFs will appear for sharing and tweeting.

To see NASA’s animated GIFs on GIPHY, visit:

http://giphy.com/nasa

iss-wave

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

99 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/14/16 The Wee Pawn Shops Of Ishtar

  1. @Mark: My favorite question to answer 🙂

    There’s a fantasic Firefox plugin called “Grab My Books.” (They actually have a Chrome version as well, but last I checked it wasn’t nearly as functional; I often open Firefox just for this.)

    What it does is let you build up a collection of pages from the web, by linking them, and then you can make tweaks, and finally it lets you download the finished ebook in EPUB format. Then I usually save that to Calibre and convert to MOBI.

    It’s really really easy to use. Usually I just open a Firefox window, open all the stories I want in various tabs, and then click a button to grab all the tabs into an ebook. Then I do some very minor tweaks — mostly just fixing the titles. It lets you set a title and a cover. Each webpage will be its own chapter, so the ebook is divided up nicely. It’s… really everything I need.

    If you want to do fancier stuff, there are various shortcuts. You can set up a bunch of HTML pages and create an additional document as an index, and then Calibre can turn that into an ebook – I did that once when I wanted the entire Pathfinder system reference document in ebook format, and there might be quick workaround when I’m building something like “all the short stories Abigail Nussbaum recommended for the Hugos” or “the entire WIRED fiction episode,” that’ll let you say “I want this page and everything it links to.” But except for that one Pathfinder thing, building a simple ebook is 10-15 minutes work, and I haven’t bothered with fancy tricks like that 🙂

  2. Re Star Trek: Im cautiously optimistic. The cast is interesting so far. I thought Star Trek needed a break after Enterprise and Voyager suffered under an enormous lack of originality: Too man episodes were predictable, too often it was something weve seen already, too many tropes, too much angst of changing the canon/universe. Now a new network and a long break may shape things up a little. And I hope they embrace the “overall story arc” that is what makes modern series – and what Enterprise and Voyager lacked, especially compared to DS9.

    On the other hand: I didnt like the reboot of MacGyver. They didnt really capture the spirit of the original and I cant really understand why they would change some major characters completly but keep their names? The only thing they kept was Niki, which is an odd choice, given that MacGyver-Fans know what happens to her… So the only thing tzhey kept, was a spoiler? Anyway – the series might be OK, but its not really MacGyver. But Macgyver is not Star Trek (obviously) and the latter is a big universe where its much easier to tell new stories, without losing the original appeal (or the “feel”)

  3. So after reading that there is going to be a remake of Puff the Magic Dragon (really!) I went to Youtube to watch it for the first time in at least 30 years. It held up pretty well–very 70’s, and sort of a cross of Dr. Seuss and Dr. Spock. I watched the two sequels I’d never heard of, too–Land of the Living Lies wasn’t bad, either, but I had a lower opinion of Mister Nobody (both, like the original, were essentially psychotherapy for childhood disorders.)

    After Puff, I started wondering about other animations from my childhood. I remembered a cartoon called “Snowman in July” that I used to see played on a local morning kid’s show. It was on Youtube, of course. Also something I haven’t seen in over 30 years. Never did I suspect that it was actually a German film made deep inside of WWII. So for your seasonal viewing pleasure, here’s the version I remembered, and here’s the original German.

  4. @Mike

    I’m here all week.

    @Standback

    That sounds excellent. I already use the “send to kindle” extension so it’s not much difference to my workflow. Thanks!

  5. Bonnie McDaniel: The “concept of IDIC” was included in exactly one episode, and as much as I like the idea – especially in the way it’s expressed in the final scene, in the dialogue between Spock and Miranda – I wouldn’t attempt to retroactively spread it across the entirety of the original series, much less any series with Star Trek in its name.

    ( It so happens that the episode is one of my favorites, both because of its bizarre qualities and because it’s one of those I first watched on NBC as a preteen.)

  6. @Chip
    The graph of Star Wars income would be a lot more interesting if corrected for inflation.

    The title of the chart says it is adjusted to 2015 dollars.

    I found a Dec 1977 (approx 27 weeks after release) article that said it had grossed $191 M in North American ticket sales; the chart shows $715 M. So I think inflation is accounted for.

    And can anybody guess what the dotted lines in the ANH curve stand for?

    I’m guessing that it means that the author of the chart had good data for the solid lines, and sketched in dotted lines (where he had no data) to fill in the gaps.

  7. @Cassy B:

    Your experience with Traitor’s Blade sounds like mine with Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew. The SC ebook was a simply dreadful scan – italics got dropped, spaces beside smallcaps text got erased, and scan errors abounded – that took forever for me to fix, using a cheaply-acquired paperback to sort things out.

    @Standback:

    This was a personal cleanup job, but I also do it professionally whenever possible. I like the task, and I like the feeling that I’ve tangibly contributed to making the world a little better… even if it’s just by making some smut the best smut it can possibly be. 😀

    Oh, and ebook formatting isn’t HTMLish – with a few exceptions, it’s plain old HTML+CSS for the text with some XML for the metadata files, and an EPUB is nothing but a ZIP archive with a couple of special conditions like “this file has to be the first one in the archive.” That’s one of the things I like about the work; it’s a new application of an old skill set. I actually used to do all my mods completely by hand, opening the book in WinRAR and extracting each file separately, but Calibre’s editor makes things a lot easier. (Even if it always gets the NCX depth wrong.) Its ability to strip out unused CSS classes and rules is extremely powerful, once you get the hang of it.

  8. JJ: Great find — I’m happy to sign up for a newsletter in return for a book I’m already interested in reading.

  9. Hans Fischerkoesen, who did Der Schneeman, was quite an animator. He made some real head-banging stuff. Just to list the most memorable:

    Relatively sedate dancing cigarette (surrounded by good-luck symbols) advert:

    Who doesn’t love ads where pigs oversee the production of pork? Brief racial stereotype imaging, but watching the sausages jump into the slicer will drive them from your mind!

    This is kind of charming. Instead of a dancing cigarette, it’s dancing smoke!

    Back to the disturbing. Insomnia, visualized with the symbols of DEATH. As nightmarish as Hitchcock and Disney, rolled into one! But there’s a happy ending, thanks to drugs. Psychoactive bitters, from the looks of it.

    What could be more disturbing than that? GLAD YOU ASKED! This fetishistic celebration of women’s legs should have embarrassed everyone in the theater, but I’ll bet they all took it in stride. Just advertising as usual!

    ps: Ooh, sudden inspiration for a Pixel Scroll title! “PS, I Love You!”

    Hah? Hah??

  10. Mike Glyer: Great find — I’m happy to sign up for a newsletter in return for a book I’m already interested in reading.

    I’m a huuuuuuuge fan of Rusch’s Diving Universe — it features a smart, competent female main character, and some really inventive worldbuilding. Her Retrieval Artist series is excellent, too. 🙂

  11. Retrieval Artist didn’t quite work for me — the couple I read felt very thriller-y to me which wasn’t what I was looking for — but I really enjoyed Rusch’s Smokey Dalton novels (under the name “Kriss Nelscott”). Mystery, detection and civil unrest in the 1970s.

    I’m sure Rusch is treading difficult ground, writing about race relations from the POV of a black P.I. I don’t know enough to say what she got right and what she didn’t. But the novels and short stories I read, I found rich and fascinating and weighty, and I’d recommend them.

  12. @Paul: OK, thanks for clarifying. I still feel like what you’re asserting is so nonspecific that I can’t even tell whether I agree… I mean, saying no one can “fail to have an opinion on” a story is not really saying much. At least if we’re talking about stories that are competently written, widely anthologized, and involve someone dying, I can’t think of a single one that I wouldn’t have some opinion on. I just can’t say I have ever had the urge to engage in an argument about “The Cold Equations” (and given the number of commenters here who did not take part in that particular argument, it seems obvious to me that that urge is not universal).

    My own opinion of it is more or less “It’s effective as a tear-jerker; its premise is kind of logically iffy (which is also the case with a huge amount of SF), but I read it when I was 10 so that didn’t bother me much. I remember it about as vividly as every other story in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame series that I read at that age.” So what does your Rorschach test reveal about me? That I sometimes have mixed and not particularly intense responses to famous stories? Well… okay then.

    Maybe the problem here is that I’m not a professional writer or critic, so I’m not being very articulate or digging deeply into it, but I think also there’s a problem that’s inherent in your metaphor: a Rorschach test doesn’t work by looking at someone’s response to one single inkblot card in isolation. Similarly, to get a feeling for how someone engages with SF, it might make more sense to see what they think about more than one piece of writing. Otherwise I think it’s useless as a metric of anything other than one dimension of “How much does this reader like to argue about the logical rigor of a scientific premise”, and that’s very far from being the only interesting way that SF readers differ from each other.

  13. On a totally different note, apropos of nothing except that I randomly clicked on it on Netflix the other day, I am now having the strange experience of watching the 1989 movie Millennium, based on the John Varley story “Air Raid”. I say strange, but what’s kind of wigging me out is how strange the movie isn’t, except in the sense of “I’m not sure why they made a lot of these creative choices”; it alternates between blandness and weak camp, whereas my (possibly unreliable) memory of the story is quite intense and creepy. The movie could have gone in a different direction and still been good (I actually kind of like the very mundane feel of the first act, where Kris Kristofferson is just going through the nitty-gritty of an airplane crash investigator’s job), but… well so far it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

    The thing is, I can imagine a remake of this being very good—keeping a lot of the same script even, just going for more of the fever-dream quality of the source material, and generally trying to look less like a chintzy TV movie.

    So here are two possible seeds for discussion: 1. Despite the common sentiment of “stop doing remakes!!!”, I bet many of us can think of at least one thing (either adaptation or original) that we’d like to see done over and better. 2. What are the most extreme examples of “There’s only been one film adaptation of this writer’s work and it was this thing?!” in SF? Theodore Sturgeon comes to mind, for sure.

  14. (I don’t mind if everyone disregards that last paragraph – those aren’t necessarily very interesting discussion topics, and honestly my whole comment could just be replaced with “I am finally watching this old movie and I just want to vent about it here because I literally don’t know any other people who would have a clue what the hell I’m talking about.”)

  15. I am now having the strange experience of watching the 1989 movie Millennium, based on the John Varley story “Air Raid”. I say strange, but what’s kind of wigging me out is how strange the movie isn’t, except in the sense of “I’m not sure why they made a lot of these creative choices”; it alternates between blandness and weak camp, whereas my (possibly unreliable) memory of the story is quite intense and creepy.

    I don’t remember if I’ve seen the movie or not, but I read the novel (which I never knew was originally a short story.) Maybe the movie is more similar to that?

  16. Eli, Varley turned “Air Raid” into a screenplay, then a full-fledged novel called (wait for it) Millennium published in 1983. I never read the story, but I got the book through the Science Fiction Book Club. It’s much better than the movie. Yegods, I remember being so excited for the movie, and being so disappointed when it came out. 😐

  17. JJ: The copyright notice in the novel Millennium says “copyright 1983 by MGM/UA Home Entertainment Group, Inc.” Of course this long predates the movie’s release, so presumably the novel is based on an early version of the script. Varley is quoted as follows at his website: “We had the first meeting on Millennium in 1979. I ended up writing it six times. There were four different directors, and each time a new director came in I went over the whole thing with him and rewrote it. Each new director had his own ideas, and sometimes you’d gain something from that, but each time something’s always lost in the process, so that by the time it went in front of the cameras, a lot of the vision was lost.”

  18. I failed to mention that I have read the Millennium novel, years ago— I don’t remember it as vividly as the story, just that it was kind of a big mess (whereas the story is a highly focused little shard of nastiness), but indeed better than this film.

  19. @Darren Garrison
    Der Schneemann im Juli was a holiday TV staple even back when I was a kid in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It might still be one, for all I know. I haven’t watched Christmas Eve afternoon TV in ages.

    @Kip W.
    Thanks for these. Underberg is a herbal bitter that has been advertised as a healthy for you well into the 1980s. I’ve never seen this particular nightmare ad though, which apparently dated from 1956.

    Regarding the stocking ad, the song “Die Beine von Dolores” (The legs of Dolores), originally sung by Gerhard Wendland, was a popular hit song in West Germany in 1951.

  20. @Rev. Bob: I wish you’d been around about a month ago when I read Invisible Planets 😉 it might’ve inspired me to have a crack at fixing the file in Calibre. The book was great but for some reason, some words had spaces put into them for no discernible reason. If it was just one or two instances and obviously just a typo or something I might’ve been able to forgive whoever put the ebook together, but it was a consistent thing that cropped up again and again on the same words (and those words got used a fair amount in various stories).

    Anyway that was my way of saying, glad to have you back, and hope you can get some work sorted soon.

    @JJ: Thanks for the link to the free book! I’m going through a bit of a reading slump at the moment and maybe I just need a change of book to bump me out of this rut. Not that I don’t have a solid 50+ unread ebooks and two unfinished paperbacks with me right now, but one extra book won’t hurt 🙂

  21. @Rev. Bob: Thanks for mentioning Out for a Hero. I haven’t heard of it, but it sounds like it’s up my alley. I recognize a couple of names in the TOC, so that’s a plus. I’ll check it out.

    The Union of Heroes has weird categories on Kobo: #97 in Nonfiction, Entertainment, Drama, American and #96 in Fiction & Literature, Drama, American. Uh . . . nonfiction and fiction? “American” but not under SF or the like? LOL.

    @Cassy B: If I already mentioned this recently, apologies, but FYI there’s a nice interview with de Castell on Emma Newman’s Tea & Jeopardy.

    @Standback, et al.: Like Mark, this idea of making my own anthology intrigues me. I’ve got some short fiction that isn’t even on my iPad – stuff accumulated over a moderate number of years. But the prospect of untangling EPUBs, PDFs, and probably a few Word docs to make something coherent is daunting, to say the least. Still, I’ll think about this. That “Grab My Books” sounds promising, and I do have a bunch of links in a folder as well as a bunch of ebook files.

    @Rob Thornton: I’m looking forward to Faller. And heh, A Natural History of Hell is an awesome book title!

    @Mike Glyer: “I was excited to see that and rushed to buy a copy. Amazon replied that I’d already bought the book last July. What? So it’s here on my Kindle somewhere, I just need to find and read it.”

    I shouldn’t laugh (but I am), because I’ve re-bought a physical book. Thankfully I have a book database on my iPhone now. Anyway, it’s nice that Amazon saved you from yourself. 😉

    @JJ: I’m adding my thanks re. the KKR “get newsletter and get the first book free” from the “Diving Universe” series. I listened to the first “Retrieval Artist” book some years back and liked it a lot, but for no good reason, never picked up the next one. ::blush::

    @Oneiros: Moar books – always better! 😀

  22. I have the ability to make ebooks for myself, and it would have been cool if I had been able to automate some of it. I enthusiastically bought Kliph Nesteroff’s book on stand-up comedians (a fascinating look at the intersection of show biz and crime), and while I was at it, I collected all of his WFMU columns that were the work he did from which he mined and refined the book. Talk about a rich read! I included all the comments, some of which were from me. It was a good companion for several weeks on the exercise machines at the Y. I changed from the Y to a commercial gym that charges less, but I still spend that time on the Futile Cycle and the Trudgemaster, and ebooks plus headphones are the best way to pass that time. Can’t fish, and knitting would get all sweaty.

  23. @Oneiros: “The book was great but for some reason, some words had spaces put into them for no discernible reason. […] it was a consistent thing that cropped up again and again on the same words (and those words got used a fair amount in various stories).”

    That sounds like a prime candidate for a global search-and-replace fix in the Calibre editor. Find one instance, copy it to make sure you catch any hidden characters, and manually type the replacement text for the same reason. If you keep a list of such things while reading, it’s a cinch to patch it up later. I ran into something oddly related when I noticed that some words were getting flagged as misspelled when they weren’t. On closer inspection, it turned out that while the glyphs looked right, some of the characters were from non-Latin alphabets! Cyrillic letters don’t belong in English words…

    Something similar I’ve run into is letter-spacing used as fake spaces. Very bizarre, don’t know how that artifact originates, but it does happen. That’s something that pops out as I inspect the CSS files; if a class looks weird like that, I’ll just search the book to see where it pops up and take the appropriate action.

    One trick I’ll use if I need it applies to rushed “ohgoshwhatisthiswhatdoidonowi’mfreakingout” speech. Left to itself, the typical e-reader will treat that as one gobbledegook word and hyphenate it at random. Calibre’s editor actually has an “insert international character” feature that helps with that, or if you know the HTML entity, you can type it manually to get what you want. Two characters come in handy: the soft hyphen (if you want a hyphen only across a line break, useful for words not in the reader’s hyphenation dictionary) and the zero-width space (when you want the words to break cleanly between lines, as in this example).

  24. @Kendall: (Out for a Hero)

    Prometheans might also be up your alley, then. One of the stories seems to be a genderbent take on Shazam… where a guy’s powered-up form is female. I’ve got it on my wish list, but haven’t quite gotten around to clicking the button – and if you’ve already read it, I’d be interested to see what you thought.

    As for The Union of Heroes, I know there’s some advice out there telling indie authors to get inventive with their categories. The logic usually goes that if you pick a small, out of the way category and get a few people to buy your book at the same time, you can shoot to the top and thereafter claim to be a best-selling author. I’m not saying that’s definitely what happened here, but it would be one explanation…

    While I’m at it, one random thought on an established superhero: why, in terms of the in-universe rules, does Superman have such big muscles? I know that the meta explanation is that readers equate bulk with strength, but in-world… does the Man of Steel work out? If so, how? The Incredibles gives a nod to this idea with its shape-up montage, but ever since I watched that scene, I’ve wondered if Kal-El shouldn’t be more of the scrawny type.

  25. @Rev. Bob: Oh that is very cool. I may actually go back through my copy of Invisible Planets and if it’s not been updated over the Kindle whispersync thing I might do a universal find & replace – there’s at least a few stories in it that I want to return to and make some notes on for the future and not dealing with weird stuttery text will help immensely with re-reads.

  26. Der Schneemann im Juli was a holiday TV staple even back when I was a kid in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It might still be one, for all I know. I haven’t watched Christmas Eve afternoon TV in ages.

    When I was seeing it was in the late 70’s/early 80’s, too, but it wasn’t linked to a holiday (either Christmas or the 4th of July) but was shown at random times. (Some of you, especially Rev. Bob, now that he has been pulled back in, might be familiar with the morning show. Came out of WLOS 13 in North Carolina, hosed by local reporter Bill Norwood, who was known as “Mr. Bill” before the SNL character ever came out.) I suspect now considering its age and origins that it was shown because it was cheap–they likely happened to have a copy and paid no royalties at all.

  27. Two characters come in handy: the soft hyphen (if you want a hyphen only across a line break, useful for words not in the reader’s hyphenation dictionary) and the zero-width space (when you want the words to break cleanly between lines, as in this example).

    From his description, I was figuring that a soft hyphen had been globally replaced with a space in the ebook, either by the software not recognizing the character or a “find and replace” mistake. (I recall a few days ago watching a Korean movie with English hardsubs where every “t” had accidentally been replaced with capital versions, so ThaT every senTence looked like This.)

  28. @Darren Garrison:
    Depending on what letters the odd space appeared between, it could also be an artifact of extracting text from a poorly formatted PDF, with the spaces appearing in spots where there were larger-than-usual amounts of positive kerning. (I’ve seen PDFs generated by tools that individually place each character. Searching them can be a serious pain, because characters displayed consecutively aren’t necessarily consecutive in the file.)

  29. @Bill: interpolation seems plausible. Note that the corrected-to-2015 caption appears to apply only to the first graph, “cumulative weekly gross in North America”; the second, “Worldwide lifetime gross” says “not adjusted for inflation”. (Bloody illegibility-making black background..) But the numbers in the 2nd graph suggest \some/ inflation, at least for ANH; seeing the underlying data would be nice. Interesting observation: the prequels all got more than 50% of their gross in the US, while the original 3 and the latest all got less — sometimes much less. Maybe there are more “I’ll see it even if it sucks” fans in the US than elsewhere?

    @Eli: which Sturgeon was so miserably adapted? I know his two OST scripts, but not anything that started as prose.

  30. Pingback: 2016 Novellapalooza | File 770

  31. Jenora Feuer: Argh. Your comments on PDF problems are reminding me of the nightmare of a time I had with a PDF that I extracted the text from that used a ligature font for certain character combinations, such as “ll” or “ff” (and others I don’t remember.) It left one of those little “empty box” error characters in the file, and I had to manually repair it one broken word at a time by looking at the word and figuring out what the missing letters should be.

  32. I know that the meta explanation is that readers equate bulk with strength, but in-world… does the Man of Steel work out? If so, how? The Incredibles gives a nod to this idea with its shape-up montage, but ever since I watched that scene, I’ve wondered if Kal-El shouldn’t be more of the scrawny type.

    Have you ever read or watched The Flashpoint Paradox?

  33. @Aaron

    Ever since the “Man of Steel” reboot after Crisis on Infinite Earths Kryptonians have been genetically engineered to one degree or another so Kal-El looks like physical perfection because he was designed to look that way.

  34. @Chip: There’s a movie of Sturgeon’s “Killdozer!”, unsurprisingly titled Killdozer!. As movies about homicidal alien-meteorite-spirit-possessed bulldozers go, it’s OK.

    @Rev. Bob: Besides what Magewolf said… Superman hasn’t always been drawn so musclebound, as you can see if you look at any stories from the first few decades of his existence. Most superheroes weren’t, until some time in the ’70s (possibly because bodybuilders started getting more attention then). Ironically, in the earlier stories where his powers were more limited and vaguely defined, it would’ve made a bit more sense to draw him as super-fit since he seemed to be leaping around under his own power, whereas later explanations have involved something more like telekinesis where his muscles are more or less irrelevant.

    There’s a discussion of the same issue in Alan Moore’s Miracleman a.k.a. Marvelman (1982), where MM’s wife sensibly points out that his Superman-like powers don’t correspond to the size of his muscles and generally don’t obey the laws of physics. The actual explanation turns out to be that it’s all psionic and he could potentially do just about anything, but he’s been conditioned to believe that he’s a superhero so his powers have taken familiar superhero forms; the same process also gave him a physical form that’s sort of an idealized extrapolation of a human body. I wouldn’t be surprised if later Superman writers were influenced by some of this.

  35. P.S. IIRC, post-Crisis Superman is like a solar battery, basically – or a plant. He gets power from the sun and he’s super-efficient or something, no? Am I misremembering? If that’s even vaguely right, then that may explain his super muscles. Space super muscles (to borrow from another thread).

  36. Also, going back to an earlier comment that hid when I looked for it, Superman has had Tarzan muscles since the 1950s, at least, or whenever Wayne Boring started to draw him (1948?). I’m not sure if that was a change from an earlier style or not (and if it is, whether he brought about a change or was following an earlier style).

  37. @Darren Garrison

    When I was seeing it was in the late 70’s/early 80’s, too, but it wasn’t linked to a holiday (either Christmas or the 4th of July) but was shown at random times. (Some of you, especially Rev. Bob, now that he has been pulled back in, might be familiar with the morning show. Came out of WLOS 13 in North Carolina, hosed by local reporter Bill Norwood, who was known as “Mr. Bill” before the SNL character ever came out.) I suspect now considering its age and origins that it was shown because it was cheap–they likely happened to have a copy and paid no royalties at all.

    Hans Fischerkoesen’s animation company existed until 2000, though Fischerkoesen was long dead by then, so The Snowman was still under copyright and there was a rights holder around.

    Though I wouldn’t be surprised if a small regional TV station simply aired the film as a filler, cause they had a copy, and never paid any royalties. After all, it’s not as if there was a big chance that the Fischerkoesen studios would ever find out and go after them.

    The Fischerkoesen studios did a lot of animated ads after WWII like the ones Kip posted and also filler clips. One of those filler clip characters, an animated seal called Uncle Otto, is still used by the TV station in question almost sixty years later.

  38. @Eli: Oh, thanks – I thought that was new post-Crisis (and somehow helped explain his becoming less powerful). Uh I mean, don’t get me wrong – I know Supermans is super under a yellow sun, not a red sun, etc.; I thought they change how that actually worked.

  39. Missed the edit window – okay I found something that explained his power differences, and I totally misremembered the details of how he worked pre-Crisis, if I ever knew.

  40. I heard of a version of the “Cold Equations” with the same lack-of-margin, but he comes up with a solution. Does someone know what it is called?

    I have a solution. I was thinking of writing it up, but want to read the story I just mentioned.

    Thanks!

  41. bandit: I heard of a version of the “Cold Equations” with the same lack-of-margin, but he comes up with a solution. Does someone know what it is called? I have a solution. I was thinking of writing it up, but want to read the story I just mentioned.

    It’s here.

    But there’s a lengthy discussion of The Cold Equations in that thread, starting here; you may want to read all of that first, and then post your response at the end of that thread.

  42. Sadly, I do not have one of those fancy e-reader thingys, nor likely to get one in the next few years. I prefer my books in paper, without batteries. Yes, I know I am a Luddite, even though, as an embedded design engineer I could be hired to make one of the damn things.

    I registered with Playster.com because I found a link that claims to have it, but no joy in actually searching playster.com … I have a ticket into them – time will tell.

    Thanks for the links! At least I have a bread crumb trail.

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