Pixel Scroll 2/25/17 The Pixelated Things Apply As Time Scrolls By

(1) MONEY MANAGEMENT. Kristine Kathryn Rusch counsels authors in “Business Musings: Writer Finances Versus The Paycheck World”.

Here’s a piece of advice you don’t hear very often:

Pay off your house.

Seriously, my writer friends. If you get a lump sum of money, pay off your house.

Or your car.

Definitely pay off your credit cards, and take them out of your wallet. Use them only when you travel to a conference or plan to make a big purchase.

If the indie writers who made a lot of money in 2012-2014 had followed that advice, they’d still be writing and publishing. Sure, their incomes would still be down, along with their sales, but their careers would continue.

How do I know they didn’t do that? Because they’re gone. Mark Coker commented on it in his year-end blog. Writers in the comment section on this blog have mentioned that they’re leaving the business. The Kindle Boards discuss all the writers no one hears from any more.

And if you go to writer website after writer website, many of them for successful indies, you’ll see sites that haven’t been updated for a year or two, or you won’t find any site at all.

What happened?

(2) COLLECTIBLES. The March WIRED has a photo essay called “Scene Stealers:  Inside The Deeply Nerdy–And Insanely Expensive–World of Hollywood Prop Collectors.” (Online here.)  This tells us that you don’t just want a phaser from the original Star Trek –you want a “hero phaser,” created by designer Wah Chang for close-ups, because only two were made.  But if you want the Aries 1 Translunar Shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’ve been outbid by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who spent $344,000 on it for a museum the academy plans to open in 2018.

The 2006 Worldcon makes an appearance, because the hero blaster used by Rick Deckard in Blade Runner showed up there after most collectors thought this prop had been lost because no one had seen it for over two decades.

(3) READING THE TEA LEAVES. If you want to know “How China Became a Sci-Fi Powerhouse”, Foreign Policy Magazine’s Emily Feng will tell you – it’s the internet.

Chen Qiufan, a sci-fi writer who has won the Milky Way Award and Xingyun Award, China’s equivalent of the Hugo, remembers life before the web changed everything. “All we could do was write in paperback books and magazines. We sent out our stories on paper by mail,” Chen told Foreign Policy. Sending them out and waiting for a response and feedback took a long time — sometimes forever.” But the early 2000s saw an explosion of dedicated online sci-fi forums that allowed writers and fans to mingle virtually, swapping stories, publishing serialized works, and exchanging intense feedback. Social media sites like Baidu Tieba, the arts and literature-focused site Douban, and college messaging boards hosted the most active online communities.

Suddenly, anyone could be a writer; and writers could get instant, massive feedback on draft work. This development was particularly important for the heretofore much-ignored genre of sci-fi; a large portion of today’s most well known and decorated Chinese science fiction writers did not start inside the formal publishing and literary world.

… “In print publishing it was always difficult” for science fiction, said Michel Hock, director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the author of a book on Chinese internet literature. “The state still owns most of the publishing houses, and state ideology is very ambivalent about literature that caters to mass taste.”

Hock noted that “the Communist Party represents the masses, but does not like the masses’ taste very much.”

(4) REGENERATIONS. At CBR.com, Charles Pau Hoffman asks, “Is Marvel Finally Embracing Legacy Characters with Generations?”

For decades, legacy heroes have been associated strongly with DC Comics rather than Marvel, and for understandable reasons. Apart from DC’s Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, most of its big name superheroes were reimagined into younger, more modern incarnations during the Silver Age. While DC’s creators eventually settled on the idea of the multiverse as the in-universe explanation for two radically-different Flashes or Green Lanterns, these stories helped to build an expectation among readers that as characters aged, they might be replaced.

The DC Universe is full of legacy heroes; there are now enough Green Lanterns to necessitate a whole Corps, nearly as many Flashes, and more Robins (and former Robins) than grains of sand on the beach. While the focus ebbs and flows between the iconic versions and their legacies, the idea of legacy heroes is so engrained in DC Comics that not even the New 52 could kill it.

While legacy heroes have traditionally been more associated with DC, in the past few years Marvel has leaned hard into the concept. Practically every major Marvel hero now has a legacy of one sort or another: Sam Wilson took up the mantle of Captain America, Jane Foster proved she was worthy of wielding Mjolnir, Miles Morales is swinging around New York with Peter Parker’s blessing, Kamala Khan has taken Ms. Marvel’s battle for justice to Jersey City, and even Nick Fury, Jr., is upping his spy game as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. And that’s not even getting to Kate Bishop, Sam Alexander, Amadeus Cho, Laura Kinney, Riri Williams, Viv, the Original 5 X-Men, and an unending list of Young Avengers, New X-Men and Spider-Women…

Last week, Marvel released an incredible new piece of art by Alex Ross, accompanied by four simple words: “GENERATIONS – coming Summer 2017.” It is not clear yet whether “Generations” will be a new prestige miniseries, event, or line-wide rebranding a la Marvel NOW, but the name and image highly suggest whatever “Generations” is, it will focus on the idea of legacy heroes in the Marvel Universe.

(5) COMICS ART. Elle Collins curates a gallery of Silver Age sci-fi comic book covers at Comics Alliance.

While the Golden Age established comics as a medium, the Silver Age was when comic book art really came into its own. And it’s worth noting that comics’ Silver Age corresponded with a wider cultural fascination with science fiction. The actual Space Race was in full swing, and everybody was thinking about rocket ships, alien monsters, and the wonders of science.

In comics, it was science fiction that gave comics artists the freedom to go big. Giant monsters, futuristic technology, and huge-scale threats to the entire Earth became commonplace. And of course everyone had their own ideas about what aliens might look like, from the typical little green men with antennae to yellow giants with segmented eyes and butterfly wings for ears.

In assembling this Silver Age sci-fi gallery, I looked for covers that had more science fiction elements to them than just giant monsters, because while there’s overlap, I think giant monsters deserve their own gallery. I also avoided superheroes, because while so many of their stories are science fiction by nature, we understand superheroes as a different genre. Plus this whole gallery could easily be filled up with Fantastic Four and Green Lantern covers, but that would be a different thing. Sci-fi heroes like Adam Strange and Captain Comet were allowed, on the other hand.

(6) NANCY WILLARD OBIT. Black Gate reports the passing of author Nancy Willard, June 26, 1936 – February 19, 2017.

Nancy Willard was the author of more than 70 books, including more than 40 books for children, such as the Anatole trilogy, Firebrat (1988), East of the Sun and West of the Moon: A Play (1989), and Pish, Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch (1991), illustrated by the Dillons. She won the Newbery Award in 1982 for her book of poetry, William Blake’s Inn, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen. It was the first book of poetry to win the Newbery.

Willard’s Things Invisible to See won the William L. Crawford – IAFA Fantasy Award for first fantasy book (1986).

The family obituary is here.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY HOBBIT

  • Born February 25, 1971 – Sean Astin

(8) PATRON OF THE ARTS. Ray Bradbury was on the Chamber Symphony Society of California’s board of directors, as this 1973 clipping reminds us.

(9) HELLO, CENTRAL? In “The Coming Amnesia”, Geoff Manaugh explores a prediction made by Alistair Reynolds that if the universe keeps expanding, galaxies wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other and any interstellar civilizations would be unable to contact any other ones.

As the universe expands over hundreds of billions of years, Reynolds explained, there will be a point, in the very far future, at which all galaxies will be so far apart that they will no longer be visible from one another.

Upon reaching that moment, it will no longer be possible to understand the universe’s history—or perhaps even that it had one—as all evidence of a broader cosmos outside of one’s own galaxy will have forever disappeared. Cosmology itself will be impossible.

In such a radically expanded future universe, Reynolds continued, some of the most basic insights offered by today’s astronomy will be unavailable. After all, he points out, “you can’t measure the redshift of galaxies if you can’t see galaxies. And if you can’t see galaxies, how do you even know that the universe is expanding? How would you ever determine that the universe had had an origin?”

There would be no reason to theorize that other galaxies had ever existed in the first place. The universe, in effect, will have disappeared over its own horizon, into a state of irreversible amnesia.

…It is worth asking here, however briefly and with multiple grains of salt, if something similar has perhaps already occurred in the universe we think we know today—if something has not already disappeared beyond the horizon of cosmic amnesia—making even our most well-structured, observation-based theories obsolete. For example, could even the widely accepted conclusion that there was a Big Bang be just an ironic side-effect of having lost some other form of cosmic evidence that long ago slipped eternally away from view?

Remember that these future astronomers will not know anything is missing. They will merrily forge ahead with their own complicated, internally convincing new theories and tests. It is not out of the question, then, to ask if we might be in a similarly ignorant situation.

(10) THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Dave Langford reports that in addition to their 2017 TAFF ballot platforms, all three candidates have since posted campaign material online. Click on each name for more: Sarah Gulde, Alissa McKersie, John Purcell.

(11) INTELLIGENT TALK. Kim Stanley Robinson and a non-genre author will be interviewed by Adam Roberts at Waterstones in London on April 3.

Waterstones Piccadilly is delighted to announce a very special event featuring three exceptional authors.  Kim Stanley Robinson and Francis Spufford will be discussing their work with critic and author Adam Roberts.

Kim Stanley Robinson is widely regarded as one of the foremost living writers of science-fiction. Author of the bestselling Mars trilogy as well as numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, he has won many awards over the years, including multiple Hugo and Nebula prizes.

Francis Spufford teaches writing at Goldsmiths University and has written 5 highly-acclaimed works of non-fiction. His first fiction title, Golden Hill, was a Waterstones Book of the Month and won the 2016 Costa Prize for First Novel.

Adam Roberts has written an extensive collection of works in both the fiction and critical genres. Author of some wonderfully original science-fiction and parody titles, Adam teaches English literature and writing at Royal Holloway University.

(13) NOT BEEN BERRY BERRY GOOD. The 2017 Golden Raspberry Awards, a.k.a. The Razzies, highlighting the “cinematic sludge” of the past year, were announced today.

WORST PICTURE

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party

WORST ACTOR

Dinesh D’Souza in Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party

WORST ACTRESS

The “Actress” Who Plays Hillary Clinton in Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Kristen Wiig / Zoolander No. 2

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jesse Eisenberg / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

WORST SCREEN COMBO

Ben Affleck & His BFF (Baddest Foe Forever) Henry Cavill / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

WORST DIRECTOR

Dinesh D’Souza & Bruce Schooley / Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party

WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

WORST SCREENPLAY

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer

RAZZIE® REDEEMER AWARD

2014 Worst Supporting Actor nominee Mel Gibson, for his Oscar-nominated direction of Hacksaw Ridge

 

(14) HOW HARD IS YOUR SF? Futurism groks the fullness: “How Scientifically Accurate Is Your Favorite Sci-Fi Film?”

“Minority Report”

If you can look past the draconian dystopia of the world presented in the movie, you’ll find a lot of interesting scientific details “Minority Report” strived to get correct. Steven Spielberg consulted with computer engineers to come up with the now-iconic vision of the next gen computer systems. While our current touchscreen devices aren’t exactly what was depicted in the film, we are getting closer to gesture-based interfaces.

(15) INKSTAINED WRETCH. Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red and Bane and Shadow, gives us an insight into how he writes, from first draft to the final book.

(16) THUG NOTES OF GENRE INTEREST. Selected by John King Tarpinian.

  • 1984

  • BRAVE NEW WORLD

  • FAHRENHEIT 451

  • A HANDMAID’S TALE

(17) SUMMER CAMP. Tor.com says “Shared Worlds is Now Open for Registration!” Shared Worlds is supported by co-director Jeff VanderMeer and Editor-in-Residence Ann VanderMeer.

Shared Worlds, a world-building summer camp for kids, is now open for registration. The program is open to rising 8th-12th graders, and will take place from July 16th-29th at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Registration will be open until April 1st so be sure to register soon!

The students work in small groups with an experienced “world-building coordinator” to design and build a world, spending a week building their worlds from the ground up: geography, population, religion and philosophy, legal systems—everything you’d need for a functional world. The second week is spent writing stories that can only occur in the worlds they’ve created. The program culminates in individual sessions between the students and the guest authors so the students get personalized feedback on their work. Finally, the students’ stories are published in the annual program anthology.

[Thanks to JJ, Dave Langford, John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

33 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/25/17 The Pixelated Things Apply As Time Scrolls By

  1. my name is Filer,
    and wen Scroll’s posted
    or wen the thred
    needs notificated,
    and all the fen,
    haf gone to bed –
    i stay up late.
    i tik the scroll.

  2. The money management advice in (1) applies to anyone who is a freelancer, be they writer, artist, computer programmer, whatever. Anything that reduces your outgoing cash flow gives you that much more ability to get through the income troughs.

  3. (9) In one sense, it doesn’t.matter. In another sense, potentially great story fodder. In a third sense–
    Is there some way for science to ask the questions meaningfully?

  4. @Lis: Is there some way for science to ask the questions meaningfully?
    No. Once something disappears over the cosmological horizon, there is no longer any way to obtain information about it, period.

  5. I wrote an appreciation of Nancy Williard in the comments thread of John O’Neill’s obituary post. From 1988 to 1992, I was one of her creative writing students. She was just about every wonderful thing a writing teacher can be.

  6. @ Steve: Or anyone who’s self-employed. My partner and I paid off the mortgage when his father died, even though a lot of people were telling him to invest the money from his inheritance and use the income to make the mortgage payments. That was in 2000… and we still have a house, which we would not have otherwise.

  7. Nancy Willard’s Things Invisible to See and Sister Water are two of the best fantasies I’ve ever read. I remember feeling the writing was so beautiful it was luminous.

  8. (4) REGENERATIONS. At CBR.com, Charles Pau Hoffman asks, “Is Marvel Finally Embracing Legacy Characters with Generations?”

    The DC Universe is full of legacy heroes; there are now enough Green Lanterns to necessitate a whole Corps

    No, it’s the other way around. The Green Lantern Corps was created early on in DC’s Silver Age introduction of Hal Jordan as the (then-) new GL.
    Per Wikipedia

    Whereas the Green Lantern of the 1940s was a lone vigilante who only had adventures on Earth, the new Green Lantern was but one of a group of interstellar lawmen who all called themselves Green Lanterns. The group is first mentioned in Showcase #22 (1960) when a dying Green Lantern passes on his ring to Hal Jordan.

    The universe was divided up into 3,600 sectors, with 2 GL’s per sector = 7,200 GLs.
    A better question (raised, IIRC, by Peter David in his column BUT I DIGRESS…) is, ‘why do they call themselves “Green Lanterns” when what the public sees is the ring. And yeah, a T-shirt logo that might be considered to be a lantern, but still.
    And I also want to know why, back when the Lanterns still believed that the ring had no power over anything yellow, they didn’t all pack black-paint spray guns, etc.

  9. Eric and I watched Batman v. Superman this week, and we were surprised it got such negative responses from people. Admittedly, I don’t hold SFF movies to anything like the standard of written stories, but even so, this seemed like the most serious take on either character we’d ever seen. My #1 complaint was that Batman’s change of heart came too easily. One could also complain that you really needed to watch the previous “Man of Steel” movie to understand this one.

    What were the big complaints about it?

  10. (11) Francis Spufford’s earlier book Red Plenty (2010) was speculative fiction— it has an unusual pseudo-documentary format, so the author has expressed doubt about whether it can be called a “novel”, but it’s book-length and has a bunch of fictional characters and events in it, set in an alternate history (you can read a whole lot of critical discussion about it, including in-depth responses from Spufford, here). So he’s arguably not a “non-genre author”. His inclusion in an event with KSR would make sense anyway due to their shared interest in non-capitalist economic systems, even if they weren’t also personally and professionally acquainted (Spufford cited Robinson’s fiction as a major influence on Red Plenty; also Robinson has made a point of saying that in his opinion it definitely is a novel).

  11. @Daniel Dern: Your “early on” is something of an understatement. I would have said “from the very beginning”.

  12. Back from seeing The Great Wall and, Paul Weimer, I think my reaction was similar to yours — I found it entertaining as a film, but was conflicted about the Matt Damon role and am not sure whether he pushed it into the realm of white savior or not.

    And I really, really want to send Zhang Yimou copies of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and/or Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven/River of Stars.

    Also, I’m ready for movie previews that are not Valerian, Logan, The Mummy, Kong: Skull Island, Fate of the Furious, and The Mummy (again).

  13. “Eric and I watched Batman v. Superman this week, and we were surprised it got such negative responses from people.”

    I didn’t like it at all. Lex Luthor was horrible, a weak copy of Heath Ledgers Joker that didn’t fit at all. He just seemed like an irrational lunatic which is the opposite of what he should be.

    Then gurl xvyyrq bss Wvzzl Byfra sbe nofbyhgyl ab ernfba ng nyy naq jvgu nofbyhgryl ab rzbgvbany vzcnpg. Fhcrezna pbzvggrq fhvpvqr sbe ab ernfba ng nyy naq gur jubyr fgbelyvar jnf ubcryrffyl whzoyrq hc. V jnf zbfgyl guvaxvat gung rirelbar fubhyq or unccl gung Fhcrezna svanyyl jnf qrnq fb ur pbhyqa’g jnyx nebhaq naq qrfgebl pvgvrf.

  14. Just finished off Joe Hill’s Fireman. The first half was really good, then lost its pacing. Couldn’t decide if it was supposed to be scary, a mystery story or a romance. The antagonist introduced in the beginning was lost and never really made use of in any satisfying manner. A 3.5/5.

    Then I read Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch. A totally ok Fantasy book of the kind where magic is kond of usual and people are born with special abilities. Good handiwork, but standard fare. Again 3.5/5.

    And then Sylvian Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants which I really liked and have on my shortlist. The feeling is a bit like that of Arrival, but contact with alien is replaced with researching alien artifacts. It was one of the freebies from MAC2 that I was more or less ordered to pick up by an unknown gentleman that had already read it.

  15. @8: that’s a cultural mashup that sounds like the beginning of a joke: you’ve got a major SF writer, a classical soloist, a pop-classical conductor, and a comedian.

    @9: how new is this? Galaxies scattering beyond the reach of ]civilization[ was the truth-nobody-must-know in the last parts of Brin’s Uplift series, which wrapped 19 years ago. (I suppose “reach” and “ken” could be differentiated — but there’s the same idea of losing contact.)

  16. @Hampus: I had a very similar reaction to The Fireman.

    Glad you liked the first half, though. That’s some strong stuff 🙂

    (Hill had a collection of short novels out later this year, which I’m really looking forward to.)

  17. Chip Hitchcock on February 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm said:
    Said comedian also played the violin, which people tend to forget.

  18. Greg Hullender: My biggest complaint about Superman vs. Batman was the sheer and unremitting violence of it. I had the same problem with the first film, although the first half of that one was much, much better. I grew up with the SIlver Age Superman and Batman, and they’ve gone so far away from that as to not be the same characters anymore. Just my five cents (due to inflation).

  19. I’m always interested in seeing how writers write. I bought a Lamy 2000, fell in love with it and then bought a second one on the principle that if I only had one, then I wouldn’t want to bring it with me out of the house because, hey, what if I lost it? But now I hardly bring the second one out of the house because, hey, if I lost it, then I’d only have one. Happily I have discovered Pilot Metropolitans and Pilot Preras. They form my current pen addiction. Astonishingly good writers and the Metros are only 15 dollars. I don’t mind losing cheap pens (well, not as much).

    Anyway, always particularly interested in seeing novelists who still write with fountain pens. I’m impressed that their vision of the novel as a whole is clear enough they can just dig in and go.

  20. Just heard about Paxton’s passing, a genre stalwart. Alas he is now out of this chickenshit outfit.

  21. @Sweet: Another Lamy 2000 fan! High-fives Sweet

    I know for a fact that Yoon Ha Lee wrote the first draft of Ninefox Gambit with a fountain pen. Neil Gaiman also writes his first drafts in fountain pen. I don’t think you need to know exactly what your novel is going to do when you handwrite it, I think you just need a deep understanding that you need a first draft, flawed as it may be, before you can start revising. In the video Skovron himself notes that in typing up the chapters he creates the second draft by making modifications to what he wrote in pen.

    Also, having watched the video I’m disappointed that Skovron doesn’t mention what ink he’s using. From the bottle it’s clearly one of the Noodler’s Ink inks, but Noodler’s makes more than one black ink.

  22. @Nancy Sauer: are you sure about Gaiman? I recall him saying he wrote Stardust with a fountain pen — IIRC as an aide to the mood — but not that he does this all the time.

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