Pixel Scroll 1/7/17 And Someday, If I Can, I’m Gonna Be A Pixel Scroller Just Like My Old Man

(1) STABBY TIME. Reddit’s r/Fantasy group is voting on the winners of The 2016 Best of r/Fantasy Stabby Awards through January 11. You’re invited.

For 2016, we need you to vote!

The eligible candidates below were set by the 2016 r/Fantasy Nomination Thread and populated by r/Fantasy members. The list was locked in place this past Wednesday at 10PM Pacific.

To vote, please click the upvote arrow next to your choice or choices for ‘best of’ in each category. Yes, you can upvote more than one.

(2) STICKS THE LANDING. The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger reviews Emerald City in “Toto, You’re Not a Basket-Size Terrier Anymore”

Dorothy, the Wizard and the rest of the Oz gang get the “Grimm” treatment as well as the grim treatment in “Emerald City,” a series beginning Friday on NBC, one that’s addictive if you allow it to be. That may, however, require some effort on your part.


You may not be conscious of just how deeply imprinted the film version of “The Wizard of Oz” is on your psyche until you watch a bit of this show, which initially seems so very wrong in every possible way. Where is the singing? Where are the psychedelic colors? So here’s what you do: At the first commercial break, pause and marvel all over again at what a spectacular achievement in artistry and cross-generational endurance the 1939 Judy Garland film is, and then let it go.

“Emerald City” has its Dorothy, engagingly played by Adria Arjona, but it draws on the full canon of L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books (a series that continued after his death in 1919). It is partial to the dark and unsettling aspects of those tales, which it teases out and enhances with flourishes of its own. When this Dorothy lands in Oz, she’s armed, and that dog alongside her is no basket-size terrier.

The result is decidedly not a fairy tale for young children. This version of Oz has bloodshed, charred bodies, a very disturbing multiple suicide and much more. Friday’s premiere consists of two episodes, which is good, because two hours is about how long it takes you to acclimate to the tone and intent. In the third episode, a doozy, the show’s grip on you really tightens.

(3) NOT SINBAD AND NOT SHAZAAM. Kenneth R. Johnson emailed his theory about the misremembered genie movie debated in comments on yesterday’s Scroll:

I think I may have the answer to what the mysterious genie movie is that various people are mis-remembering as “Shazaam.”  I distinctly remember watching a movie on TV back in the 1990s in which the genie was played by a tall black guy with dreadlocks;  he also had some kind of British accent.  After extensive googling I’ve identified it as “Bernard and the Genie,” a TV movie from 1991.  The genie was played by British actor/comedian Lenny Henry.  He may have been doing a Jamaican accent to make the genie appear pseudo-Rastafarian.  The movie also has Alan Cumming and Rowan Atkinson in it.  It’s very strange.

(4) BUG JACQUES BARRON. French citizens are now automatic organ donors under the law.

All French citizens are now automatic organ donors, unless they officially opt out of the program.

A new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 makes everyone an organ and tissue donor. People can opt out of the program, but they must enroll in something called the National Rejection Register in order to do so.

A low number of organ donations prompted the new rule, according to news reports.

France’s biomedicine agency said in a statement on its website that “in the name of national solidarity, the principle of presumed consent was chosen,” The World Post reported.

(5) REMEMBER THE ALICORN. Rick Riordan putting his foot down —

(6) FATE OF THE FRANCHISE. What would you do? HuffPo says “’Star Wars’ Team Grappling With How Leia Will Live On After Carrie Fisher’s Death”.

In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death, the team responsible for future “Star Wars” projects is reportedly reconsidering the place of her character, Leia Organa, in the franchise’s ever-expanding universe, according to The Hollywood Reporter. …

Fisher, who first played the iconic princess in 1977, brought Leia back to the big screen as a general in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015. The actress has apparently already filmed her scenes for the second installment in the latest trilogy, but was rumored to have an even larger role in the following film….

The team is reportedly concerned with two key scenes featuring Fisher that would bring her character and the film’s plot full circle: a much belated reunion between Leia and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a faceoff with her son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who killed his father and her lover, Han Solo, in “The Force Awakens.”

Shooting for “Star Wars: Episode IX” isn’t scheduled to begin until early 2018, so until then, those at the helm are pursuing a variety of options on how to proceed. Resurrecting Fisher with CGI effects is apparently one alternative in play, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Technological advances have allowed for actors like the late Peter Cushing to return to the screen in the latest “Star Wars” offering, “Rogue One,” so Fisher could continue to have a similar presence, however limited, in future films.

The braintrust is also reportedly discussing writing the character out all together and reshooting certain scenes to lay the groundwork for her eventual exit from the franchise.

(7) BRINGING ATWOOD TO TV. The Daily Mail brings the showbiz news: “Not quite Stars Hollow! Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel set to star in dystopian Handmaid’s Tale as subversive lesbian”. She’s best known for her role as Rory Gilmore in the idyllic Gilmore Girls.

But it seems Alexis Bledel’s next role will be significantly darker, as it was announced she’ll be joining Hulu’s dystopian Handmaid’s Tale, according to TV Line.

The 35-year-old actress will play the role of Ofglen in the 10 episode series, which is based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel.


  • January 7, 1977:  Michael Winner’s The Sentinel premieres in New York City.


  • Born January 7, 1903 — Alan Napier (Alfred Pennyworth) is born in Birmingham, England.
  • Born January 7, 1928 – William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist).

(10) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On January 18 the hosts of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, present Holly Black and Fran Wilde. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY — just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

Holly Black is a writer of bestselling contemporary dark fantasy. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor.

Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel, Updraft, won the Andre Norton Award and the Compton Crook award, and was a Nebula nominee. Cloudbound, the second book in the Bone Universe series, came out in September 2016, and Horizon will appear in fall 2017. Her novella, “The Jewel and Her Lapidary,” was published by Tor.com publishing in May 2016. Fran’s short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

(11) BE YOUR OWN TIME LORD. Cat Rambo tells Risingshadow readers the importance to writers of “Daily rituals”.

The thing I have learned more than anything else is that a writer must defend their time. That everyone assumes that you’re ready to take a break, come down to the coffee shop and kill a couple of hours. A friend complained to my husband that he felt as though I was timing our encounters, and I was. At the hour mark, I needed to get back to work, because otherwise I’d sit there nattering for far too long. Because you must defend that time not just from others, but from yourself and your own human tendencies toward procrastination and farting around on the Internet, while still being mindful that you do deserve a break every once in a while. You become your own manager, and that is a more difficult task than it might seem.

(12) SURVIVAL TACTICS. John Scalzi’s “10-point plan for getting creative work done in the age of Trump” is easier to understand than Christopher Priest’s.

Scalzi’s plan, published in the Los Angeles Times, was introduced to Whatever readers in these terms:

First, and in case you missed me talking about it on Twitter yesterday, I have a piece up at the LA Times site (a version of it is also in the Sunday newspaper) about getting creative work done in the Trump years — some advice about how to keep focus when it’s likely to be a challenging time for the creative class. Note that this advice generally probably also works for people working in professions generally considered “non-creative” as well, but I’m working with what I know here. Also, of course, if you’re neutral or positive on the idea of the incoming Trump administration, then this particular piece is probably unnecessary for you. Carry on, then.

One of Scalzi’s ten points is —

  1. Reconnect (judiciously). When you go back to the news of the world, and to social media, it’s perfectly all right to ask yourself: Is this making me happy? Is it giving me useful information? Is it inspiring me to engage in the world or does it make me want to run from it?

If it’s not helping you, let it go. Unfollow that Facebook friend passing along fake news, and block those fake news sites outright. Mute that person on Twitter who is apparently always angry. Evaluate the news sources you read and keep the ones that offer news accurately and truthfully (spin is spin, even if it’s spin you like). Design your media intake to be useful, truthful and less stressful.

As for Christopher Priest, he posted on New Year’s Eve that he’ll be moving 500 miles from Devon, England (he didn’t identify where). He spends nearly the entire post pouring out his fear and loathing of Donald Trump, yet never managing to establish any connection between the move and Trump’s election. Did he just want to insure an audience for his farewell address?

(13) LIVING IN STAR TREK TIMES. The Washington Post’s Hayley Tsukayama, in “The Big Takeaway From This Year’s CES”, concludes:

There has been no killer gadget at this year’s International CES technology show. Instead, something more subtle has emerged as the keystone of the tech world.

I’m talking about the smart, central voice assistant. Yes, even that may sound a bit old hat for those who’ve been paying attention….

Virtual assistants can now understand what you say and even interpret the many ways you may say it. Shawn DuBravac, an economist for the Consumer Technology Association, said that machines now have the same word error rate — that is, the batting average of understanding what we’ve actually said — as humans. That’s up from a 23 percent error rate in 2013, meaning that the tech is getting better, and quickly.

That fact has made the dreams of a STAR TREK-like computer come even closer to reality.  The hope is that these assistants will move even beyond our sci-fi dreams and learn our habits and needs well enough to anticipate them.

David K.M. Klaus comments, “I think it’s clear that nobody connected with the program at the time thought it likely that voice-controlled devices would come into mass use in just a half-century — yet the program itself has accelerated technology design in its own direction. I started writing letters to local newspapers pointing out the inspiration when they published articles about new technology thirty years ago.  (Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, et al. predated that, of course, but Star Trek in particular has been responsible for how it looks.)  Glad to see that mundane reporters have finally caught up with me.”

(14) WATCH YOUR INTAKE. Cat Rambo shares a second bit of writerly advice at GeekMom in “Artificial inspiration”.

This phenomenon underscores the fact that authors need to pay attention to what they’re putting into their mental buckets, particularly whenever they’re working on a project. The old computer adage, “Garbage in, garbage out,” comes into play. Or turn it around and aim it in another direction: put marvelous things in, get marvelous things out.

In some ways, I think of it like learning a language. We all speak storytelling, we’ve heard it spoken around and to us in fairytales, myths, fables, and a kerjilliion other texts, down to the format of many ads. And just as, when you’re around a number of people all speaking with the same accent, that accent begins to creep into your own speech. So if you’re only hearing one kind of storytelling, all that you speak in that language of storytelling will have that accent–or flavor, or texture, or however you choose to conceptualize it.

Want to create something wonderful? Then you must read wonderful things and not just read them but study them. Take the sentences apart as carefully as a pathologist dissecting an organ and figure out how they work–and then apply that knowledge so you know you’ve got the tool down and have added it to your writerly toolkit.

(15) I’LL BE BACK. At the BBC, Frank Swain tells “Why we may be living in the future of The Running Man”.

The vision of 2017 depicted in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 30-year-old dystopian action movie captures how our world is changing today.

In a world beset by a collapsing economy, the US media conspires with the government to keep the population in check with a combination of heavy-handed policing and a steady stream of vapid reality TV shows. Meanwhile, one of the most powerful men in the world is the host of a reality TV show.

Sound familiar? That was 2017 conjured by campy action thriller The Running Man when it was released 30 years ago.

Sci-fi commonly reveals hidden truths about society. So, it makes you wonder: what else could this dystopian vision say about the world we live in today? If we look at where we are in 2017, what can The Running Man tell us about our changing politics, media and technology?

Chip Hitchcock urges, “Note the photo of Erland van Lidth de Jeude partway through; when he was in the MIT Musical Theatre Guild we used to say that he might be the first Olympic victor to sing his own national anthem. The movies typecast him as a hulk, losing the singing voice that he used in roles ranging from Roderick Murgatroyd to Richard Henry Lee.”

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M.Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

118 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/7/17 And Someday, If I Can, I’m Gonna Be A Pixel Scroller Just Like My Old Man

  1. 13) we just got a Google home over Christmas and so far it’s mostly said “I don’t understand” or “I can’t help with that” It’s been kinda frustrating.
    One thing it has made me realize is that when searching for information it’s generally better to get a list of several results on the screen than have the voice box give one result. It’s great that that’s the way things are done in Star Trek also, the computer will answer simple questions out loud, but display results of a general search like ‘all m class planets’ or something.

  2. @12 – “Mute that person on Twitter who is apparently always angry. Evaluate the news sources you read and keep the ones that offer news accurately and truthfully (spin is spin, even if it’s spin you like). Design your media intake to be useful, truthful and less stressful.”

    Excellent advice Mr. Scalzi. I came to the same conclusion and dropped your blog, column and books.

  3. Old King Cole had a merry old scroll
    And a merry old scroll had he
    He called for his file and he called for his troll
    And he called for his pixels three.

  4. The other day my boyfriend and I were talking, when his phone suddenly said, “sorry, I don’t understand the question”. We both stopped in surprise, then he rolled his eyes and muttered “I’m not talking to you, Siri”. The future, it is now!

    ETA: inadvertent fifth!

  5. I’m a little ooky on the “presumed consent” rationale in (4). I mean, I like that there’s an opt-out, and I agree that organ donation is a good thing, but this feels a bit too close to organ confiscation for me. I can’t help thinking of (Niven’s?) setting where organ confiscation got established as a criminal penalty, which was then applied to more and more crimes as demand increased.

  6. @12: I’m not certain, but I suspect Priest is moving to Scotland, which is roughly 500 miles from Devon. He says the move is unconnected to Brexit or Trump, yet both may be an incentive to leave Britain. Any case, that’s how I read it.

    His Fugue for a Darkening Island is sadly more and more prescient.

  7. Tonight we watched “Kubo and the Two Strings”. A box office “flop” (=didn’t make back cost of production in US), it’s definitely going on my BDP-Long nomination ballot.

  8. @Shao Ping apparently nobody told him about the results of the Independence referendum, or the trump international golf links…

  9. @Rev. Bob:

    It is Niven and the story The Jigsaw Man has the plot you describe.

  10. (2) Cause Tin Man didn’t cover the “grim version of Oz” reboot well enough?

    From what I could see, “Tin Man” is looking like the better homage.

  11. (1) STABBY TIME. I (up)voted in only a couple of categories. In doing so, I realized I may like City of Blades better than The Obelisk Gate, but I’m not sure. The former feels like it stands alone better, though that’s not something I generally think about.

    (3) NOT SINBAD AND NOT SHAZAAM. Another possible explanation, to go along with @KatG’s comment in the previous Scroll.

    (5) REMEMBER THE ALICORN. I can see why my other half’s a fan of his (okay, it’s for the books, actually).

    (6) FATE OF THE FRANCHISE. Sigh. I don’t know, but I probably would be annoyed and creeped out by a CGI Carrie Fisher. Having her off-screen would make me happier (i.e., references to her and her actions, but no actual Fisher on screen).

    (7) BRINGING ATWOOD TO TV. Oh, yay, another remake. 😐

    @Rev. Bob: I thought of the Niven stuff, too.

  12. (5) good for Riordan. I’ll be phoning Dan Patrick’s office, with many others, to oppose Texas’ attempt to discriminate against transgender people.
    (12) Good advice from Scalzi. I regularly drop by Whatever, where there’s a recent inspiring post on doing the work in keeping the arc of history bending towards justice. And the advice quoted is good: the oncoming wave of spite, incompetence and venality will be be big enough to require it.

  13. 4) This “automatic opt-in” is already policy in various European countries (Austria is one of them, where even tourists might find themselves unwitting organ donors). In fact, that’s the reason why I carry a slip of paper stating, “No, I don’t consent to automatic organ donation. Contact my parents and let them decide” in several languages in my passport, because as a single and childless self-employed woman I fear that some doctors might be overzealous in viewing me as the ideal organ donor. And before anybody complains, I know both people who received organ transplants and who had to deal with year of dialysis.

    In the longterm, I believe that stem cell research is the best solution to the problem of organ transplants, but that is blocked by religious considerations.

    Those are some good points. And @airboy, I’m sure Scalzi will be devastated to lose you as an audience – not.

    Oddly enough, I’ve found that my inspiration generally comes from disreputable sources. And so a cartoon I watched as a kid or a bad movie found while channel surfing might spark a story idea, while a steady diet of award-winning movies does nothing for me. By now, I’ve learned to live with the fact that my inspiration comes from odd sources. As long as it’s there, I don’t mind.

  14. Now I go ticking boxes to earn an honest bob
    For a nosy filer it’s an interestin’ job
    Now it’s a job that just suits me
    A box ticker you would be
    If you can scroll what I can see
    When I’m ticking boxes

    Pixels and filers too
    You should see them argue ‘n coo
    You’d be surprised at things they do
    When I’m ticking boxes

    In my mind I’ll work hard
    But I’ll never stop
    I’ll scroll this blinkin’ thread
    Till I get right to the top

    The star wars thing, it looks divine
    The twitter guy, he is doin’ fine
    I’d rather have Mikes job than mine
    When I’m ticking boxes

    The handmaids’ new series I call
    It’s a wonder if it will fall
    My mind’s not on my work at all
    When I’m ticking boxes

    I know a fella, not so swell
    He is a puppy , that’s plain to tell
    I’ve seen him insult Jemison as well
    When I’m ticking boxes

    Oh, with my mouse I’ll scroll hard
    But I’ll never stop
    I’ll click this blinkin’ box
    Till I get it right on the nob

    Oz and awards lyin’ side by side
    God stalks I have spied
    I’ve often seen what goes inside
    When I’m ticking boxes

  15. @airboy

    I know you intend that as an insult but if Scalzi upsets you then I think it’s an excellent plan. Being upset costs energy that could be better spent doing things that are useful, or entertaining, or both, so it’s best avoided when it’s not necessary.

    (And inflicting that energy cost on people, of course, is a major part of the damage that trolling does. As I’m reminded by this article from the world of video games where the effect has been all too successfully weaponised.)

  16. Peer Sylvester on January 8, 2017 at 1:40 am said:

    Damn, and I don’t even have my banjolele with me.

    I shall reply with:

    I’m scrolling down these pixels on the corner of this blog,
    Until a certain little comment scrolls by
    Oh me, oh my
    Until a certain little comment scrolls by

  17. (15) I think I need to rewatch Running Man. When it came out, I was too annoyed by the changes to the original story to give it much of a chance. I also seem to recall being a little Schwarzeneggered out at the time.

    (12) That works for people you tend to agree with, as well. I’ve been purposely reading more so far this year, and the resultant drop in my social media exposure has been great for my stress levels.

  18. The irony is, that I forgot to tick the box.

    “There is no joy in Pixelville— mighty Casey has scrolled out.

  19. Got another one (Sorry, I have to do something, while procrastinating my work):

    Welcome to Lake Godstalk, where all the pixel are scrolled, all the boxes are ticked, and all the Fives are above average.

  20. Huh, I’d missed that they’d cast Elisabeth Moss (good choice!). The trailer looks good (thanks Cora), but you can make anything look good for 30 secs.

  21. @airboy

    I’d like you to note that as of my post, no one else here has taken the time to mention who they are no longer following.

    I think you missed the point of the exercise….

  22. 11: Boy is Cat right.

    I have always tended toward a contemplative life, with plenty of TIME to think about things, play with ideas, research, ruminate, write. I’ve always needed “quiet time”, alone. (I can get my socializing for a year out of the way by attending one con.)

    And of course that writing is a solitary vice, requiring the time to get inside one’s own head, to gather and weave the multiple story threads.

    So I am officially in writer’s hell, defined by

    1. not being in control of one’s schedule AT ALL
    2. constantly having the train of thought interrupted on a random but approximate 15 to 20 minute interval
    3. having sleep chopped up randomly into 1, 2 or 3 hour intervals (and seemingly always during deep rem phase)

    I’ve determined two things: my wife’s comfort and care ARE more important than writing and…maybe a story that involves the author constantly being interrupted…

    Which reveals the real horror of the present situation: You can’t give up the writing…or at least thinking about the writing.

    One of my philosophies is that life is like a novel. Good things happen, shitty things happen, all are necessary to the plot. Right now, we’re in the shitty chapters….

  23. (1) STABBY TIME

    Can I give this award an award for Best Award Name? I found some interesting mentions in the Debut Author section. Did anyone read Steal the Sky by Megan E. O’Keefe?

    @Kendall, re City of Blades v The Obelisk Gate. Oooo, good question. I only just read CoB, and liked it very much. I’d compare the way it has a surface story plus some deeper thoughts you can go into if you want to Fifth Season, in fact. I think its musings about the nature of soldiers and service are less subtle than what TFS builds in, especially in the ending when they’re very much foregrounded. OTH, Obelisk Gate definitely has a few “middle book” issues, albeit very skilfully handled by Jemisin. Specifically I’m thinking of the character who has plot relevant knowledge to impart, not actually imparting it for quite a while. It’s definitely anchored in its trilogy, whereas City of Blades could (almost) stand alone. Maybe not to the extent that Gladstone’s Craft books can stand alone (another series I’d compare City of X to), and I’d tell people to read Stairs first anyway, but it was a brave decision by Bennett to partially drop his cast from Stairs. All-in, I think I like Obelisk Gate more, but whether that’s due to some reflected glory from TFS is hard to say.


    I hope they do the classy thing here and don’t go for some wholesale CGI revival. I could see some limited use of existing footage to explain her character’s disappearance being reasonable, but a big emotional showoff between Driver and a tennis ball on a stick would be fake on all levels.


    I think Priest is pretty clear about the oblique nature of the connection. I see someone in a contemplative mood trying to explain several feelings of upheaval.

    Our move away from Devon is not directly connected with Trump, of course, but our decision to move came after the full impact of the depressing Brexit vote began to sink in, and while Trump’s revolting election campaign was at its height. Maybe these two signal events of 2016 had an influence on our choice, but we maintain our motives are positive, not an instinct to try to flee. Devon is itself something of a refuge, of course, a place of presumed safety some people move to as an escape from the harsher realities of the modern world.


    I’m slowly checking out some 1st year Campbell eligible authors, partly to see if any disturb my current list, but more to find interesting authors to follow in the future. My first interesting candidate is Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan, who had a very good novelette in Strange Horizons “Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son”, which is a retold fairytale with a very interesting set of changes. I also read some of her other work, my favourite of which was the lighter The Profound Importance of Coasters.

    Next up Benjamin C. Kinney, again with a good story in Strange Horizons – “The First Confirmed Case of Noncorporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R.” – a ghost can only speak in the words she used in her lifetime, and is nearly overwhelmed by the emotions she felt at her death, so how can she communicate?. He had another in Strange Horizons called “Meltwater” that I didn’t really connect to. For a lighter side, try “The Time Cookie Wars” for what happens when time travelers get the munchies.

  24. At some point tomorrow it should be possible to read The Dark Birds by Ursula Vernon in the latest Apex magazine. Is there some sort of special deal that Red Wombat writes a spectacular story for them in January each year? Anyway, this is a dark one, but you won’t want to miss it.

  25. @Mark: That’s a far better (and clearer) explanation than mine.

    @Arifel: Priest surely knows about both–after all he even mentions Trump’s golf courses. I still suspect if he’s moving to Scotland, it is probably a relief to move somewhere that overwhelmingly opposes Brexit and Trump.

  26. @Steve Davidson

    I’d like you to note that as of my post, no one else here has taken the time to mention who they are no longer following.

    I think you missed the point of the exercise….

    I suspect that Scalzi lives rent-free in Airboy’s head. All evidence supports that conclusion.

  27. @2: The NYT may own the Boston Globe, but the reviewers certainly don’t move in lockstep; Boston’s savaged the series, opening with a discussion of network envy of cable to which

    “Emerald City,” a labored, humorless attempt to turn “The Wizard of Oz” into a “Game of Thrones”-like epic, is not the solution

    and concluding

    NBC has borrowed the trappings of a golden classic to sell this gaudy, empty, glum, and disappointing reboot. As a coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined “Emerald City.” And it’s not only merely a piece of lead, it’s really most sincerely lead.

    We watched the opening and were not impressed, especially by the lack of any explanation of the Wizard’s power — rfcrpvnyyl ol gur ynpx bs nal rkcynangvba bs gur Jvmneq’f cbjre — ur qbrfa’g unir rvgure zntvp be boivbhf grpu (zhgvat gur pynvz gung ur fnirq Bm sebz zbafgref, ur’f n ybhfl yrnqre, naq vg’f abg pyrne ur’f sbbyvat nalbar.

    @4: Harry Harrison made the loss of one’s opt-out medallion a tragedy without ever explaining why (e.g, no suggestion of “The Jigsaw Man” — the dead are very thoroughly dead). I do wonder whether what’s left of Catholicism in France will fuss about this.

    @5: Bravo for Riordan. He’s been too busy to come to even his local cons, but I’d buy him a drink if he showed up.

    And speaking of drinks, will there be a meet-up at Arisia? It’s almost as large as Worldcon and AFAICT has one of our own as guest.

  28. Steve – I’ve got some students in that spot because they are caretakers and have to be available at a moment’s notice. It’s tough, and I dunno how good I’d be at it, but I find that they carry around writing materials and use them whenever they have a scrap of time. 100 words is a victory.

    But there’s another part. I know from taking care of a parent through chemo, though, that when you’re caretaking for someone ill, a big lump of psychic energy gets eaten up worrying. Be kind to yourself during this time. The universe will not ask anything of you that cannot be endured. At least that’s my philosophy.

    Many good wishes sent your way from Chez Rambo.

  29. @airboy

    Excellent advice Mr. Scalzi. I came to the same conclusion and dropped your blog, column and books.

    Okay, fess up. There’s no way I believe you’ve been reading Scalzi’s blog, column, or books any time in the past two or three years, at least.

  30. @Steve Davidson – I wish you and your wife the best. That is very tough.

    @Greg – I read “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded” and “Redshirts” when they were on Amazon sales for $2. Based on that, I thought Scalzi’s blog might be interesting/thoughtful leftist nerd.

    Just checked amazon and they were purchased in Jan & Feb of 2014. I had read Old Man’s War previously – which had an interesting concept. Redshirts was mediocre fan fiction. “Hate Mail” was ok, but not as good as “Hate Mail from Cheerleaders.”

    Scalzi’s rants and occasional burning ignorance burned me out on his blog pretty quickly and dropped it. My life improved.

    For the rest of you, Scalzi’s point is excellent advice and I followed it a while back. Perhaps some of you should work on your reading comprehension?

  31. @Steve Davidson: My best to you and yours. I empathize, because I’ve been there. From what I’ve seen of you here, I suspect you’ll manage things quite well.

    Meredith Moment: Hidden Figures is currently on sale at Amazon for Kindle at $1.99.

  32. Book reports:

    “After the Crown”, by K. B. Wagers. Less interesting than the first book, “Before the Throne”, but I’ll still read the next one. It definitely puts the “opera” in “space opera”, because there’s Big Drama and Emotions, but the SF background is hand-wavey to the point of confusion. Are the “aliens” actual non-humans? From the descriptions, they look more human than Star Trek’s Vulcans or Klingons, which is *really* hard to credit with text’s unlimited makeup budget.

    More disappointing to me is that the hints in the first book that Wagers might confront the many problems with hereditary rulership and aristocracy seem to have disappeared. So, pretty much no chance at “honest” politics in this space opera, alas. But it’s still in space, so I’m still OK.

    “The Summer Dragon” by Todd Lockwood. Lockwood is a first-rate artist, but this is his first published novel. Of course, he did the cover and the interior illustrations. There are a LOT of similarities to Marie Brennan’s “Lady Trent” series, for which Lockwood also does the covers and illustrations, but in a good way: they’re both exploring the “sort-of-SFnal dragons” space pioneered by Anne McAffrey. I love this stuff.

    Lockwood’s heroine isn’t an outsider who finds out about dragons, she’s someone brought up to raise and understand dragons who is finding out about the world. It doesn’t seem to be marketed as YA, though it could be (AFAICT). There are violent battles of various sorts, but no sexual violence (though the danger is discussed), and the aftermath of every battle involves dealing with mental/emotional trauma in a way I found unusually realistic. I confess that Lockwood is a better writer than I expected: he includes more descriptive details than most, though I could have used even more (because I love that sort of thing when Tolkien does it and it’s rarely imitated).

    It’s a long book that I read at a breakneck pace, and finished with a bounce and a wish for the next in the series. Warning: though Lockwood hasn’t said anything that I can see, I expect the series to be at least 4 volumes, one per season. I’ll be there!

  33. Airboy:

    “Perhaps some of you should work on your reading comprehension?”

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  34. related to Scalzi and the airboy:

    what is with the mean spiritidness these days? My life spans decades, with plenty of controversy, tremendous disagreement with friends and colleagues, but we always seemed to resolve them by either agreeing to disagree, focus on the things we shared in common or simply stay away from the troublesome subject – you have your feels, I have mine, lets get back to having fun.

    But nowadays it seems its necessary to try and plunge the knife in AND twist it. What’s more, I get the sense that this is done with a great degree of glee and self-satisfaction (and there are, I suspect, more rewarding means of self-gratification at everyone’s disposal).

    Di we really hate the individuals who express ideas we disagree with? or the idea? Why the need to hurt?

  35. @Cora: Thanks for the trailer link; that looks pretty good, although @Mark Kitteh is right about making something look good for 30 seconds.

    After I watched it, I clicked a link on the right to a video where someone explains and draws the plot of the book; she also has a shorter version. Kinda cute; too bad that looks like the only novel she’s done like that.

    @Mark (Kitteh): I read the sample to Steal the Sky recently; IIRC, it’s been $2.99 for a while now, and I liked the sample, so I’m highly tempted. I found one part of the setup a bit confusing, where O’Keefe jams some backstory into one paragraph that really needed a map of the world. Anyway, I’m tempted to pick it up.

    Re. The Obelisk Gate, while it only bugged me a little in this respect, characters with important information being cagey instead of telling what they know – seemingly for no reason other than to hide information from readers – has always been a pet peeve of mine. I haven’t read Gladstone’s “Craft” books yet (I know, I’m a bad person!), but I get a kick out of the sounds-like-random order they’re published in, which makes it sound like they stand alone and can be read in any order.

    “The Time Cookie Wars” was cute. It reminded me of a few short stories by an author whose name escapes me, about tech to open small portals to alternate realities becomes commonplace and some of the troubles it causes. (The first story I read was an excellent depressing story.) There’s a “Dear Abby” sort of advice column that’s in the background of the stories, IIRC. Anyway, I’m reading the other one by Kinney now – thanks for the links! I’m liking his stuff.

  36. @Mark:

    I feel much the same regarding City of Blades and The Obelisk Gate. I really liked CiB‘s messages on war and what it means to be a soldier. Unless something blows me away before nomination time it’s going to be on my Best Novel list.

    @steve davidson:

    I feel like the internet is a big culprit here. It’s much harder to hurt someone to their face and see their reaction. But treat hurting people like a game on the internet and it becomes easier and easier.

    I think the hate is for the idea, not the individual people who express the idea. But unfortunately at that point the individual becomes the avatar for that idea and bears the full brunt of the scorn.

    Does that make any sense?

  37. @Chip Hitchcock:whether what’s left of Catholicism in France will fuss about this.

    Why would they? Catholic doctrine doesn’t forbid organ donation–it’s a charitable act to donate ones organs. I signed up when the state of Nebraska started offering the option of putting the info on your drivers license.

  38. @airboy:

    @12 – “Mute that person on Twitter who is apparently always angry. Evaluate the news sources you read and keep the ones that offer news accurately and truthfully (spin is spin, even if it’s spin you like). Design your media intake to be useful, truthful and less stressful.”

    Excellent advice Mr. Scalzi. I came to the same conclusion and dropped your blog, column and books.

    Dude, if you were using Scalzi’s books as a news source…*whispers*….you were doing it wrong…

  39. Automatic organ donation in France is likely to offend both Muslims and Orthodox Jews (the majority of French Jews). For both religions, organ donation is theoretically approved by most scholarly authorities, but goes against very long-standing traditions. It’s also likely to be against the principles of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who the French consider a “cult”.

    I think it possible that the new regulations are “targetted” toward these minority groups, that offending them is part of the *point*.

  40. @mark @Kendall. I do think STEAL THE SKY, which I did like, could have definitely been improved with a map.

  41. airboy: I read “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded” and “Redshirts” when they were on Amazon sales for $2. Based on that, I thought Scalzi’s blog might be interesting/ thoughtful leftist nerd. Just checked amazon and they were purchased in Jan & Feb of 2014… Scalzi’s rants and occasional burning ignorance burned me out on his blog pretty quickly and dropped it.

    So it’s been almost two years, and you’re still whining about Scalzi instead of having gotten on with your life.

    Clif is right; you’ve installed Scalzi in a rent-free apartment in your head.

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