Pixel Scroll 1/24/17 You Gotta Ask Yourself One Question: “Do I Feel Ticky?”

(1) SURE AS SHOOTIN’. Days of the Year says this is “Talk Like a Grizzled Old Prospector Day”.

“Well hooooooo-wee! Ah reckon we’ve found ourselves some bona fide golden nuggets right here in this ol’ mound o’ grit! Yessiree, Momma’s gonna be marty proud when she discov’rs we can afford fresh beans ‘n’ biscuits for the winnertarm, an’ there’s gonna be three more weeks uvvit if mah old aching knee is t’be rckoned with.”

Yes. Well, anyway. Today is Talk Like a Grizzled Old Prospector Day, which can be a lot of fun, unless of course you already are a grizzled old prospector, in which case just carry on as normal. For the rest of us it’s an opportunity to use terms like “consarn it” when we spill our coffee at work, and “Who-Hit-John” when referring to whiskey (although unless you work in a bar or a liquor store, you should probably leave the latter until you get home).

Now go on, get out there and call somebody a varmint!

Here’s your training video, featuring prospector Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddles:

(2) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. Kameron Hurley tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth in “Let’s Talk About Writing and Disappointment”.

There was a huge amount of buzz around the release of The Geek Feminist Revolution last year. More buzz than I’d seen for any book I’d ever written. People were telling me on Twitter that they’d bought three or four copies and were making all their friends read it. I heard from booksellers that the books were flying off the shelves. We went into a second printing almost immediately. I did a book signing in Chicago that sold a bunch of books. The reader response at BEA was surreal. It was magical.

This, I thought, is what it must feel like to have a book that’s about to hit it big. This was it. This was going to be the big one. It was going to take off. I gnawed on my nails and watched as big magazines picked up articles from it and it got reviewed favorably in The New York Times, and I waited for first week sales numbers.

I expected to see at least twice the number of first week sales for this book as I had for any previous book. The buzz alone was two or three times what I was used to. This had to be it….

But when the numbers came in, they weren’t twice what I usually did in week one. They were about the same as the first week numbers for The Mirror Empire.  And… that was…. fine. I mean, it would keep me getting book contracts.

But… it wasn’t a breakout. It was a good book, but It wasn’t a book that would change my life, financially.

Reader, I cried….

(3) THE HORIZON EVENT. Strange Horizons has announced the results of its 2016 Readers Poll.

Fiction

Poetry

Articles

Reviewers

Columns

Art

(4) O, CAPTAINS MY CAPTAINS. Whoopi Goldberg hosted a Star Trek Captains Summit with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes in 2009. Now the feature is part of the Blu-Ray Movie Box Set. Among the revelations from the discussion:

  • William Shatner confesses he’s never watched an episode of Next Generation.
  • Patrick Stewart admits he was a pain in the *** to his castmates during the first season.
  • Whoopi Goldberg reveals she has never been invited to a convention.
  • Jonathan Frakes attended an informal “Paramount university” for 2 years to earn his stripes as a director.
  • A fan asked Leonard Nimoy to take a picture of him with Tom Hanks.

(5) MORE LARRY SMITH APPRECIATIONS. Among those grieving the passing of bookseller Larry Smith are John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow. His support for the founding of Capclave has also been acknowledged:

You may not know what Larry did to promote Capclave, which was the revival of Disclave (after a three-year hiatus with no Washington D.C. SF convention). Larry promised to show up every year so that there would be a good Dealer’s Room at Capclave. And he did, even though it was a tiny convention compared to many of the others he would set up at.

(6) URBAN SPACEMAN. Jeff Foust reviews Richard Garriott’s autobiography Explore/Create: My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark at The Space Review.

Growing up in Houston, he thought it was obvious that one day he would go into space himself. But he was told at age 13 his eyesight was too poor to qualify as a NASA astronaut. His dreams of spaceflight put on the back burner—but not forgotten—he soon rose to prominence as an early computer game developer, best known for the Ultima series. Much of the book delves into the accomplishments and challenges he faced in that career.

Garriott returns to the topic of space later in the book. While best known for flying on a Soyuz to the International Space Station in 2008, he had been trying to find a non-NASA way into space for two decades. In the book, he describes how he and his father established a company called Extended Flights for Research and Development, or EFFORT, around 1987 to develop a pallet for the shuttle’s cargo bay that would allow the shuttle to remain in orbit for more than a month. NASA was not interested. He was an early investor in Spacehab, the company that developed pressured modules for the shuttle with visions, ultimately unrealized, of some day carrying people commercially.

Garriott was also an early investor in space tourism company Space Adventures, and funded out of his own pocket a $300,000 study by the Russian space agency Roscosmos to determine if it was feasible for private citizens to fly on Soyuz spacecraft. When the answer came back in the affirmative, “I immediately booked my flight,” he wrote. However, the dot-com crash wiped out much of his net worth, including the money he planned to use for the flight. Dennis Tito instead got to fly in the seat Garriott planned to buy.

Garriott rebuilt his wealth and got another opportunity to fly in 2008….

(7) NEXT. Sam Adams reviews The Discovery for the BBC — “What would happen if we knew the afterlife was real?”

The Discovery, which, like McDowell’s debut, The One I Love, he co-wrote with Justin Lader, opens with a jarring but gimmicky prologue. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), the scientist who has provided proof that there is some form of life after death, is in the midst of defending his findings to a TV interviewer (a far-too-brief appearance by Mary Steenburgen), when a member of her crew interrupts to blow his brains out on the air. But in contrast with last year’s twin Sundance entries about the on-camera suicide of Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck, his action isn’t a protest so much as an invitation: if there’s another world, it can’t be worse than this one, so why not get there as soon as you can?…

The question of whether an afterlife exists is as much epistemological as metaphysical: if not necessarily all, at least a significant percentage of the world’s religious faithful have long had all the proof they need. Thomas Harbor’s discovery would seem to overwhelmingly settle the question, but as his son argues, “Proof shouldn’t be overwhelming; it should be definitive.” (The extent to which that statement sounds either profound or sophomoric is a good indication of how much you’ll get out of The Discovery.)

(8) SKY HIGH DEFINITION. Praise for photos from a new weather satellite orbited in December — “’Like High-Definition From The Heavens’; NOAA Releases New Images Of Earth”.

The satellite, known as GOES-16, is in geostationary orbit, meaning its location does not move relative to the ground below it. It is 22,300 miles above Earth. Its imaging device measures 16 different “spectral bands,” including two that are visible to the human eye and 14 that we experience as heat.

It is significantly more advanced than the current GOES satellite, which measures only five spectral bands.

(9) A TV SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. NPR says the TV series gets the books better than the movie did: “’A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Is All About Olaf”.

It’s the Netflix series that comes closest to achieving that tone, for two reasons.

One, it foregrounds Lemony Snicket. Jude Law played him in the movie, but chiefly in voice-over. The Netflix series turns him into a kind of omnipresent, lachrymose host played with deadpan, note-perfect solemnity by Patrick Warburton.

In the series, Snicket is constantly stepping into the shot to impart some new nugget of depressing information, or express concern at something that has just happened, will soon happen, or is happening. He’s like Rod Serling at the beginning of The Twilight Zone, if an episode ever featured Neil Patrick Harris in drag.

Snicket’s physical presence turns out to be important. In the movie, Law’s voice-over did much of the same work, or tried to, but having Snicket literally step into the proceedings to warn us about what we’re about to see next feels exactly like those moments in the books when Snicket’s narrator would admonish us for reading him.

But the big reason it all works? Neil Patrick Harris’ evil Count Olaf.

(10) BONUS ROUND. The author of the Lemony Snicket books, Daniel Handler, appeared on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me over the weekend. NPR has posted a transcript of the show.

HANDLER: I have one son, yes.

SAGAL: And how old is he?

HANDLER: He’s 13.

SAGAL: Right. And did he read the “Series Of Unfortunate Events?”

HANDLER: He’s actually reading them now. He was quite reluctant to read them for a long time. And for many years, about every six months, he would say to me, what are these books about again? And I would say, they’re about three children whose parents are killed in a terrible fire and then they’re forced to live with a monstrous villain. And he and I would, you know, have that sad look that passes between children and their parents a lot about the inheritance of a confusing and brutal world. And then he would go read something else.

(11) FOR INCURABLE CUMBERBATCH FANS. Have a Benedict Cumberbatch addiction? Check out this 2008 BBC science fiction miniseries, The Last Enemy, available on YouTube. Cumberbatch was nominated for a Satellite Award for his role as a lead character.  The story combines pandemic and big brother technology premises.

(12) NOW WITH MORE BABY GROOT. New proof that science fiction movie trailers are much more fun with Japanese-language titles – Guardians of the Galaxy international trailer #2 (followed in this video by the original English-only traler):

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

95 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/24/17 You Gotta Ask Yourself One Question: “Do I Feel Ticky?”

  1. @Camestros

    Interesting, I guess that frees up a slot on my ballot, but I wonder what his concerns are?

  2. Mark on January 25, 2017 at 1:49 pm said:

    @Camestros

    Interesting, I guess that frees up a slot on my ballot, but I wonder what his concerns are?

    From a second tweet I think it is because so many things will be nominated in this first-go at the category that he’d rather wait as both series will get other chances in future years.

  3. Re SFF music, no on has mentioned Gong’s ‘Planet Gong’ trilogy of albums from the 70s (The Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg and You), about the exploits of Zero the Hero on a pilgrimmage to the Planet Gong to attain enlightemnent.

    And across the Atlantic, who could forget Jefferson Starship’s ‘Blows Against the Empire’, complete with starship hijack.

    Blind Guardian are a metal band with a Tolkien Fetish. For example, ‘Nightfall in Middle Earth.

  4. Camestros Felapton: From a second tweet I think it is because so many things will be nominated in this first-go at the category that he’d rather wait as both series will get other chances in future years.

    I was hoping on a quiet news day it would be the precursor of a scandal in which Stross confesses that these works actually aren’t related to one another — not part of a series at all!

  5. 8) Beautiful pictures, but a bit too scientifically useful. I wonder how menu days it will be before the order comes to shut it down, or point its cameras at the stars.

  6. Mike Glyer on January 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: From a second tweet I think it is because so many things will be nominated in this first-go at the category that he’d rather wait as both series will get other chances in future years.

    I was hoping on a quiet news day it would be the precursor of a scandal in which Stross confesses that these works actually aren’t related to one another — not part of a series at all!

    [vbg]

  7. Tons of SFF references in metal.

    Iron Maiden’s album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is loosely a concept album based on Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series

    Iron Maiden’s song “The Prisoner” is… well, I’ll let you figure that one out. Their song “Back in the Village” is a sequel.

    The Austrian black metal band Summoning is pretty much all Tolkien all the time.
    Their album Lugburz is pretty good*:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOc-OcbHV-w

    The Norwegian one man black metal band Burzum is named after the Orkish(?) word for darkness, IIRC. The early material has some references to Tolkien. Caveat to those who check it out: the politics of the man/child behind Burzum are… a precursor to alt-Right, let’s say.

    The bands Hornss and High on Fire have both written songs dedicated to The King in Yellow.

    There was a band in SF for a while called Horn of Dagoth – a reference to the first Conan the Barbarian movie.

    The absolutely amazing* funeral doom band Thergothon has a song called “The Unknown Kadath in the Cold Waste”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOICPaHgwAg

    Thergothon is also one of the many outstanding Finnish metal bands that have ended up heavily influential in underground metal throughout the world.

    The Australian death metal band Portal has a demo called The Lurker at the Threshold.

    There was also an Australian death metal band called Innsmouth, which released one demo, The Departure of Shub Niggurath, before sinking back into the murky depths from whence they came.

    Floridian death metal band Morbid Angel has a lot of Lovecraft-inspired lyrics (more Lovecraft? Whaaa? Shocking!)

    Traditional metal band (think Thin Lizzy or Iron Maiden) Slough Feg (nee The Lord Weird Slough Feg, a name taken from a comic book) has a song called Tiger! Tiger!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv6bw10es2c

    They also have a concept album Traveller, based on the RPG “Traveller.”

    In reality, Slough Feg reeks of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. They basically are an SFF band. Highly recommended*, particularly Traveller.

    I know there are also a lot of SFF-influenced prog bands, but I’m not as familiar with that genre, and should probably stop with metal.

    * If you like that kind of thing

  8. While we are talking about musicians and music related to SF/F, I just want to mention jazz bandleader Sun Ra. Not only was he from Saturn, he pioneered the Afrofuturism movement (see Parliament’s Mothership and futuristic R&B artist Janelle Monae).

    Also, there are two ’70s German rock bands with notable names (H. P. Lovecraft and Necronomicon), as well as Swedish rocker Bo Hansson’s 1972 album Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings. Jimi Hendrix was said to be an SF/F fan as well–I have seen a picture of Jimi reading a Penguin SF anthology.

  9. Van de Graaf Generator did a song called Pioneers over c(early 70s), c being lightspeed, i.e., it’s about the first FTL spaceship. It’s about as weird as you would expect from them.

    ETA: If I recall correctly, this was on the album H to He, Who am the Only One, which is a thermonuclear fusion reference. They were just like that.

  10. Crash Test Dummies’ Superman Song. Often described in filk circles as “found Filk” (IE, SFFnal themed music sufficiently acoustic for a filk circle but not from filkers)

    Does Nightwish’s FantasMic count or is Disney too far afield/ too generally pop culture? Not their finest moment, but far from their worst.

    Nobody has mentioned Jonathan Coulton?

  11. I am correct in assuming the intent is things that cite specific works (but are not filk), not just generally SFF themed?

  12. @ Lenora Rose

    Initially, yes. But I believe the scope has widened as we went on. Now I’d say we’re about non-filk music or musicians that invoke SF/F works or are thematically related.

  13. @PJ Evans: And yeah. why no invites for Goldberg, considering all the less-well-known guests from the various series? Possibly the issue is that Goldberg is better known for other things, while the other guests are most significant to ST (and possibly cheaper)?

    @Rob Thornton: David Crosby’s “Triad” references “water brothers”, a few years after Stranger in a Strange Land came out. I know the Grace Slick showpiece performance, from Jefferson Airplane’s Crown of Creation; Wikipedia says the Byrds recorded it but didn’t release it. (W also downsize’s Crosby’s comment decades ago that the song was what got him fired from the Byrds.) Since the definition has expanded to “thematically related”, note that the title song of CoC is an almost-direct quote from Wyndham’s The Chrysalids. And any list should include Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire, IIRC the only rock album nominated for a Hugo. And Michael Mantler’s album The Doubtful Child is made up entirely of settings of Edward Gorey texts; some are just gruesome, but “The Doubtful Guest” is fantasy according to its illustrations.

  14. There’s a special place in my heart for Janis Ian’s own filk of her song, “At Seventeen.” This one’s called “Welcome Home (The Nebula Song),” and here she is singing it. Was this inspired by Jo Walton’s Among Others? It always seemed like it to me, but I miss a lot of stuff.

    Aw, man, it feels like she’s singing to me.

  15. Deltron 3030 is a rap opera concept album set in a dystopian year 3030.

    Del the Funky Homosapien has also released a lot of sci-fi themed songs solo. Such as “Proto Culture” from Both Sides of the Brain.

  16. For one that is thematically related I will go with Kilroy Was Here by Styx. A concept album set in a dystopian future with robots(!) featuring the single Mr. Roboto.

    Domo Arigato,
    BGrandrath

  17. (2) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. Depressing, realistic, and hopeful all at once. While reading, it, I was thinking how it didn’t seem like the market for the essay book would be the same as for her novels – overlapping, but not the same (e.g., I’m interested in her SFF but am generally not interested in essay books). I’m looking forward to her next novel, though!

    @SFF Song References: Would Bree Sharp’s “David Duchovny” count? I mean, it’s about being obsessed with Duchovny, but as the star of “The X-Files” and with references to the show.

    @Doctor Science: Hehehe, great pic of the councilman with his shield. Thanks, that brought a grin to my face. I hope he wasn’t laughed at or teased for this gesture.

    @Camestros Felapton & @Mark (Kitteh): I was bummed at one of Stross’s follow-up Tweets saying series by dead authors deserve to win. To each their own, but that way of nominating/voting rubs me the wrong way. Best series, not best series by a recently-deceased author, please.

    @kathodus: Uh, wut? A concept album based on the SF RPG “Traveller”?! LOL, that’s hilarious; I’m not into metal, but I played “Traveller” back in the day and I love the cover art & track names! BTW iTunes credits the artist as “The Lord Weird Slough Feg” (but other albums just as “Slough Feg”). Anyway, thanks, this is another Thing That Made Me Grin today. 🙂

    @Kip W: I love the original and her, as you say, filking of her own song. I believe the song’s a couple of years older than Among Other, though (IIRC Ian’s a long-time SFF fan).

  18. @kathodus: I wonder if you’ve read T.E.D. Klein’s very funny and disturbing story “Nadelman’s God”, in which a nebbishy advertising dude discovers that the terrible Lovecraftian pastiche poetry he once wrote in college ended up being adapted into music by a metal band, which 1. has made him a minor celebrity among people who he thinks are creepy, and 2. may have summoned an actual cosmic horror.

  19. Kip W: Was this inspired by Jo Walton’s Among Others?

    No, it predates that book by at least a couple of years. Ian wrote and performed it for the Nebula Awards ceremony in 2009. The lyrics were subsequently published in Asimov’s, won “Best Poem” in the 2011 Asimov’s Reader’s Poll, and came in second place in the Short Poem category in the 2011 Rhysling Awards (for SFF poetry).

  20. Thanks, Kendall and JJ.

    New theory: Maybe Jo read the… and something about brontosauruses…

    Newer theory: Enough theories for tonight.

    Distraction: Here’s a rather short story I wrote in tribute to 50s SF: It Couldn’t Be Done.

  21. Kendall: I was bummed at one of Stross’s follow-up Tweets saying series by dead authors deserve to win. To each their own, but that way of nominating/voting rubs me the wrong way. Best series, not best series by a recently-deceased author, please.

    I had a squiz at the series list, and the only one of that sort I could see eligible was The Long Earth, Terry Pratchett’s collaboration with Stephen Baxter (and I doubt that he contributed much of the content to the 2016 entry, The Long Cosmos).

  22. 12) Am I the only one who thinks the best part of the GotG movies is the 80s classic rock?

    @ Rob: “39” always makes me think about Heinlein’s “Time for the Stars” even though it’s not actually based on that. I think it’s because of the line “You mother’s eyes from your eyes cry to me”.

    @ Bruce: I had that one. The last time I listened to it, when I was ripping all my rock CDs to mp3… it didn’t sound as good 25 years later as it did when I bought it. Not in the Suck Fairy way, but just that the style didn’t do it for me any more.

  23. @JJ: Interesting; I wonder if that was on Stross’s mind.

    – – – – –

    Unrelated: I finished A Gathering of Shadows last night, liked it almost as much as the first (i.e., a lot!), and now I can’t wait for the conclusion. 🙂 Just a few more weeks.

  24. Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship, was a huge SF fan. A couple others mentioned his album Blows Against the Empire, a concept album about hijacking a starship, which was nominated for a Hugo. But nobody mentioned that the album was actually based on Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children. And we know this for sure, because Kantner actually wrote to Heinlein for permission to steal the plot! Heinlein commented that lots of people had stolen plots from him, but Kantner was the first one to ask permission! 😀

    As for Hawkwind–in case you didn’t read the article Rob Thornton linked to, it’s also worth mentioning that MIchael Moorcock was actually a member for a while! He didn’t just write songs for them–he actually played on two of their albums. Which means that–yes–Lemmy and the creator of Elric were in the same band! 😮

  25. Not the same thing as the topic of discussion, but reading Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds last year led to an impulse purchase of a CD copy of In the Wake of Poseidon, King Crimson’s second album. I had their first record when I was a kid but not this one. I get the impression Reynolds likes “progressive rock.”

  26. Kendall: Best series, not best series by a recently-deceased author, please.

    Which dead authors are in the running?

    But I do wonder with this particular award. If you take ‘Best Series’ absolutely literally, it might be the same series every year. But the rules are so set up that it can’t be the same series every year: once something has been shortlisted it has to wait a while before it can be nominated again. That sort of setup invites strategising; and if we’re strategising, ‘Will this series have another chance?’ seems a reasonable question to take into account.

  27. @Andrew M: Apparently very few dead authors (maybe just one, per @JJ). I’m not into strategic voting, especially coordinated strategic voting, but if one can’t decide which 6 to nominate from 8 “really I love these best and none of them are less ‘best’ than the rest” – sure, that’s a little different, I suppose.

    I go the other route sometimes, e.g., for Artist, when I was truly torn between a lot of options, I made sure to include names that hadn’t been finalists or hadn’t won, or that I hadn’t nominated before. That’s probably anti-strategic, since we see a lot of repeat noms in Artist, though. 😉

  28. Why wouldn’t I even think to check the box? A question for the ages. I definitely don’t strategically ticky.

  29. @Kendall

    @kathodus: Uh, wut? A concept album based on the SF RPG “Traveller”?! LOL, that’s hilarious; I’m not into metal, but I played “Traveller” back in the day and I love the cover art & track names! BTW iTunes credits the artist as “The Lord Weird Slough Feg” (but other albums just as “Slough Feg”). Anyway, thanks, this is another Thing That Made Me Grin today.

    I think Traveller was the last album they released as The Lord Weird Slough Feg. I assume they shortened the name to make promotion easier. Glad to make you grin!

    @Eli

    @kathodus: I wonder if you’ve read T.E.D. Klein’s very funny and disturbing story “Nadelman’s God”

    No, I haven’t! Thanks for the recommendation. It sounds great.

  30. Plasmatics had a very nice concept album, Maggots: The Record. It is strangely up to date, the description from Wikipedia goes like this:

    “Maggots: The Record was recorded in 1987 and is a concept album set 25 years in the future, where environmental abuse and the burning of fossil fuels have created a greenhouse effect, leading to an end of the world scenario.”

  31. The Electric Light Orchestra concept album TIME is about a man transported from 1981 to the year 2095, and becomes disenchanted with the future he finds rather quickly.

  32. Andrew M: If you take ‘Best Series’ absolutely literally, it might be the same series every year. But the rules are so set up that it can’t be the same series every year: once something has been shortlisted it has to wait a while before it can be nominated again.

    The rules are also set up so that a Series is not eligible unless it has a “volume” published during the eligibility year.

  33. I had a squiz at the series list, and the only one of that sort I could see eligible was The Long Earth, Terry Pratchett’s collaboration with Stephen Baxter (and I doubt that he contributed much of the content to the 2016 entry, The Long Cosmos).

    Well, Tor is still publishing new installments of Dune, though I wouldn’t call the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson books even remotely award-worthy.

  34. @Lee: probably; most of us know it’s 70’s classic rock, not 80’s. But I also disagree that the retro music is the best part; the attitude was a lot of fun.

    @Xtifr: considering the stomping of the old that runs through Blows, saying it’s based on Methusaleh’s Children is a stretch — but it’s nice that Kantner thought to ask.

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