Pixel Scroll 3/11/17 It’s Always In The Last Pixel You Scroll

(1) VAMPIRE DIARIES GOES GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT. As the series goes off the air, The Guardian asks “Better than Buffy? Spare a thought for the Vampire Diaries”.

The eight-season run of the Vampire Diaries ended quietly on Friday night, without a hint of the outsized media fanfare so liberally bestowed on series finales in television’s so-called golden age. The glossy adaptation of LJ Smith’s young-adult novel series, even before its latter-season decline in form and ratings, never did inspire the type of sophisticated critiques reserved for the major-network or cable darlings. But even amid a landscape that’s only been further crowded by the emergence of Netflix and Amazon, there is a place for the pure concentrated entertainment that was offered up for years by the CW’s deliciously pulpy supernatural soap opera. Television will be poorer – and a less fun place – without it.

(2) HUGO REMINDER. Worldcon 75 sent members an alert that the deadline to nominate for the Hugos is only days away.

Even if you have already submitted nominations, you may update your selections as long as the nomination period continues. But we recommend that you do so in advance of the deadline to avoid any problems in the final hours when the system will be very busy.

You may make changes to your nominations until 17 March 2017 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (2:59am Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 Greenwich Mean Time, 08:59 in Finland, all on 18 March), by using the following link to sign in again:

(3) FOLLOW THAT CAT. Timothy the Talking Cat has stolen the keys to Camestros Felapton’s blog and posted his own “appalling” Hugo slate

Remember that this year the rules have changed! The social justice witches have put their broomsticks together and decided that you can no longer just vote for Dune over and over again. But no fear! As a grandmaster of non-euclidean hyperbolic  7-dimensional chequers, I can adjust my plans accordingly. See below!

(4) DEEP POCKETS. The Deep Space: Nine Documentary by Ira Steven Behr, David Zappone and Adam Nimoy hit 420% of its Indiegogo goal. The extra money will be used to add 50% more latinum minutes to the video, and lots of bonus features. Space.com has the story — “’Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ Doc Warps Way Beyond Crowdfunding Goal”.

 After nearly quadrupling their Indiegogo goal to produce a new documentary on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (DS9), the creators are busy trying to figure out how to best deploy their newfound wealth.

Today (March 10) is the final day of the campaign to produce “What We Left Behind,” and backers on the crowdfunding site have raised more than $575,000 for the film. The show is co-led by DS9 showrunner Ira Steven Behr, produced by David Zappone and directed by Adam Nimoy. Zappone and Nimoy are known for the 2016 documentary “For The Love of Spock,” and Zappone also produced the 2011 “Star Trek” documentary “The Captains.”

In an interview with Space.com, Behr and Nimoy, who is the son of the first “Star Trek” series’ actor Leonard Nimoy, said they are reconfiguring their plans for the now 90-minute documentary, which is 30 minutes longer than their original vision, because of the extraordinary response to the crowdfunding effort.

(5) CHEATERS EVER PROSPER. Naked Security analyzes “How online gamers use malware to cheat”.

“We typically think of malware as something used to steal data from corporations or knock down websites in politically motivated attacks.  But if you’re a gamer, sometimes it’s simply a tool for winning. “SophosLabs threat researcher Tamás Boczán has been studying this trend, and recently gave a talk about it at BSides Budapest.  This article reviews his findings and offers us a chance to share some of his presentation slides.”

…As cases of cheating have risen, so have the examples of anti-cheat technology from various companies. As various sides have upped the ante, both sides have drawn in people of greater skill. He said:

Hacking an online game is not that easy any more. In the old days, script kiddies could to do it, but now hacking is a serious game that requires a skilled attacker. So why would a skilled attacker waste their time and skill on a video game?

He mapped out the sequence of events this way:

  • All this was originally about having fun.
  • Then the gaming industry grew.
  • The games went online.
  • People began to cheat for profit, just as hackers often do when targeting companies.
  • In response, an anti-cheating movement has sprouted up that mirrors security companies….

(6) FORGEHAM OBIT. John Forgeham (1941-2017): British actor, died Friday, aged 75. Best-known for a long-running role in the UK soap Crossroads, other screen appearances included The Avengers (one episode, 1965), The Stone Tape (1972), Sheena (1984), T-Bag and the Rings of Olympus (one episode, 1991).

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 10, 1818 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is published

(8) LE GUIN’S NEXT BOOK. Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay collection No Time to Spare comes out December 5.

Her next book, No Time to Spare, will be a collection of recent essays. It comes with an introduction from Karen Joy Fowler, who, like Le Guin, knows a thing or two about writing across genres.

As Fowler notes in her introduction to the collection, Le Guin is currently enjoying a moment of mainstream cultural appreciation: Filmmaker Arwen Curry recently raised funds on Kickstarter for a documentary on the author, The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, and back in October, The New Yorker ran a profile on Le Guin and her enduring influence.

You can read an excerpt from Fowler’s introduction at the linked post.

(9) BURIAL IN SPACE. At Krypton Radio, Thaddeus Howze reviews the long history of Star Trek, then dares to ask: Is it time to retire the franchise?

My point of all of this review is this: Since Star Trek: Enterprise as well as the three Kelvin Timeline Star Treks, (Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond) we have stopped looking to the future. Star Trek has become as lame as the political rhetoric many of us despise in our real lives…

“Make America Great Again” is the rallying cry used to talk about the past as if it were some great thing to be reclaimed and returned to. When the truth of the matter is the past is never as good as it seems and to seek refuge in the past is to deny the present and refute the future altogether.

CBS’ latest television series Star Trek: Discovery also takes place in the past (presumably the original timeline past, not the Kelvin Universe past) some time after Archer but before (or maybe during Kirk’s Enterprise) period. What we do know is this is not a far future Star Trek.

It is not an extrapolation of all we can be. It is not a look at the future of Humanity at our best and our worst. It is a remix of Treks, mashing costumes, designs, ships, and probably stories.

(10) SHADOW CLARKE DOINGS. The Shadow Clarke Jury’s latest activity includes two reviews and a FAQ.

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season casts a long shadow on the Clarke submissions list, having won the Hugo Award for Best Novel last year and having been shortlisted for almost everything else. Thousands of words have already been spent praising it, critiquing it, speculating about it online since it came out in the US in 2015 and I imagine few people reading this are encountering it for the first time. In spite of its pedigree I was sceptical going in. The only other book by Jemisin I’d read – The Killing Moon – wasn’t a highlight. I thought its excellent world-building came at the expense of almost everything else. Then there was the thorny issue of eligibility and whether or not The Fifth Season conforms to the Clarke requirement that books be science fiction rather than more broadly speculative. When I shortlisted it I did so partly because it offers an opportunity to wade into the eligibility question and partly as a test for myself, to see if I would admire it as much as everyone else. I almost hoped I wouldn’t because, let’s be honest, it’s easier to talk about what doesn’t work in fiction than what does.  Also, dissent prompts debate and this project is all about that. But, sorry folks, I’m afraid I’m about to tell a familiar story. The Fifth Season is just as good as everyone said it was and the genre controversy is dead in the water. It’s perfectly eligible for the Clarke Award.

Johanna Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun is a tale about loss, in the form of a gender-stiffening social experiment wrapped in a family drama murder mystery, suffused with oppressive norms, self-delusional recounting, and fabulist nostalgia for a world that once was that actually never was. It’s the kind of novel that joins the ranks of extreme, performative, sociological SF, in the vein of Brunner, Ballard, and Pohl, and the feminist dystopias of Atwood, Russ, and Tiptree. It’s the kind of book that people will say doesn’t belong because a.) it isn’t needed in this age of post-women’s lib, b.) its agenda involves too much agenda, and c.) it isn’t science-y enough. But, as the list of authors cited above indicates, precedence invalidates these kinds of arguments.

What is the Arthur C. Clarke Award Shadow Jury?

An initiative developed by Nina Allan and hosted by the Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy beginning in 2017, the Shadow Jury is a panel of talented, passionate members of the SF community who come up with their own personal shortlists and winners for a given year.

(11) CRITICAL MASS. Charles Payseur analyzes the nature of book reviewing and his own reasons for doing it.

Let me say that there’s a great many reasons why people review. Some want to become authorities on a particular form or genre. They want to be engaged in creating a canon or they want to help determine the boundaries of genres or any number of other things that essentially boil down to gatekeeping. They want to be able to say what is and what is not, what should and what should not be considered when talking about science fiction or literary fiction or horror. When they review they might refuse to look at certain works because they don’t cleave close enough to what they expect and enjoy. This is not the kind of reviewer I hope to be. And there are reviewers out there who just want to express their opinions as honestly as they can. They want to go onto Goodreads and Amazon and rank what they liked good and what they didn’t bad and concentrate mostly on their immediate reaction to a story or work. This is actually much closer to what I do but it’s not quite what I aim for….

(12) KONG KILLED AGAIN. Reader’s Digest version – Locus film reviewer Gary Westfahl says the new Kong movie sucks little black rocks – “Bungle in the Jungle: A Review of Kong: Skull Island.

Kong: Skull Island actually begins quite promisingly, as we are introduced to a diverse and generally appealing cast of characters, and they gather together to journey to the mysterious Skull Island and confront the enormous, and initially hostile, King Kong (also glimpsed in a prologue). One briefly imagines that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has finally achieved what John Guillermin (in 1976) and Peter Jackson (in 2005) could not achieve – namely, a King Kong film that recaptures the charm and élan of Merian C. Cooper’s classic 1933 production. Unfortunately, the film devolves into an iterative, and increasingly unpleasant, series of variations on the two basic set pieces observed in all giant monster movies: humans vs. monster, and monster vs. monster; and the only suspense involves which character will next be dispatched to a gory demise….

 (13) RED PLANET RADIO. It’s Mars Season on BBC Radio 4, with fiction, interviews, documentaries, and quizzes.

William Shatner introduces the “We Are The Martians” series, which explores the Mars of imagination, science and history.

[Thanks to Michael O’Donnell, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Steve Green, John King Tarpinian, and David K.M.Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

25 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/11/17 It’s Always In The Last Pixel You Scroll

  1. (12) I found the first Kong movie, much like the special effects extravaganzas of today, was more about showing of its gimmick than telling a good story. Admittedly, Skull Island is not going to win many acting awards, but I find it missing the point to criticize “monster movies” for being too much about the monsters.

  2. the film devolves into an iterative, and increasingly unpleasant, series of variations on the two basic set pieces observed in all giant monster movies: humans vs. monster, and monster vs. monster; and the only suspense involves which character will next be dispatched to a gory demise….

    Personally, I’d describe that as a feature, not a bug. But I’m about to leave to check out an early matinee, so I’ll know for certain in another 4-5 hours.

  3. 12) A friend and fellow member of Skiffy and Fanty (David Annandale) who knows (and teaches!) monsters and monster movies, went to it and loved it for its throwback qualities.

    Personally, that’s good enough for me.

  4. (12)

    the film devolves into an iterative, and increasingly unpleasant, series of variations on the two basic set pieces observed in all giant monster movies: humans vs. monster, and monster vs. monster; and the only suspense involves which character will next be dispatched to a gory demise….

    Well, that makes it sound like a killer monster movie to me.. And I LOVE monster movies!

  5. I just wanted to say again what a huge improvement the Hugo nominations web page is this year. It’s very nice to see something so important done so well.

  6. @Greg

    Agreed. It’s a real step forward and kudos to whoever took the time to design and build it.

  7. Just Got back from “Kong” with a skeptical 12-Yr-old who ended up loving it. Very enjoyable morning. I wouldn’t call it a good film, but it hits most of the Lost World tropes with gusto and is a blast.

  8. (Deep space 9): Is it time to bury the franchise?
    No.

    Glad we got that out of the way!
    In ernest: Hes making the true point that its wa waste that STD is set before TNG. My generation trekkies grew up with the new stuff (TNG and DS9, and what I watched of Voyager, I gave up in Enterprise and couldnt bring myself tro got back), most of which played later, not in the “classic” universe. I would love to see stories set in the later universe. The problem bakc then was that the writers burned out on stories and it showed – but now its 20 years later and there are new stories and a new way to tell them. It should be made right, then it will be good.
    And I dont think that the pictures show klingons, whatever the anonymous source says. That would be incredible stupid…

    The road to this scroll was filed with good pixels

  9. @Greg and Mark
    I agree that the Hugo nominations website is much cleaner and easier to use this year and doesn’t require you to hunt down information like writers and directors of movies and TV episodes, etc…

    Regarding Kong: Skull Island, most general film critics seem to dislike the movie, while genre critics (Gary Westfahl notwithstanding) and monster movie fans seem to like it. I’ll probably go see it, if only because great cast plus lots of monsters plus Vietnam war setting sound like something I’ll enjoy.

    @Paul
    Glad to hear David Annandale likes it.

  10. Yeah, Apocalypse: Kong was very fun. In addition to the other obvious referents, I saw someone on Facebook compare it (favorably) to D&D module X-1, The Isle of Dread.

  11. I feel a disturbance in the Force…

    I’ve been reading Joseph Lallo’s Big Sigma omnibus; I finished the first two novels and have started the third. It does a solid job of mashing my “playful space opera” buttons, but there are a few clunky bits. (For instance, despite this being an interstellar setting, the author finds it worthwhile to note that an ethnic Indian character lacks an accent.) Get past that, though, and it’s pretty decent fun. I mean, how can you be annoyed at an AI that downloads itself into a fox/skunk hybrid in order to get off-planet and assemble a team to rescue its designer?

    With last week’s release of Logan, I cashed in on a sale to pick up the original Old Man Logan storyline and the Secret Wars trade that brings him into the main Marvel universe. It was worth reading, but the latter was more “good side of meh” than anything else. I mean, it’s useful connective tissue, but the story itself felt more like a travelogue than anything else. Each issue seemed to retell the same basic “OML gets kicked out of one region into another and wonders if it’s real or if he’s lost his marbles” story, concluding with him reaching NYC and encountering a really-not-dead X-team, from which his new adventures will apparently start.

    Speaking of, Marvel is having a digital sale through today that’s either a BOGO or half-off deal, depending on your interface. Amazon is half-off, but its subsidiary comiXology uses a BOGO code. I’ve taken advantage of this to turn some credit into comics, which has finally enabled me to pick up the core Civil War II story and a couple of related collections, as well as some unrelated Spider-family books. I also appear to have acquired the last volume of the Spider-Man clone saga just in time for it to no longer be the end of the story…

  12. Hi there, did I miss a Scroll?

    Wore myself out yesterday driving around, first to assess a dog displaced from his human; then to meet the owner’s daughter and officially sign the surrender paperwork; then deliver him to his foster, and finally retrieve my own dogs and drive home…

    I’m very sad for the dog and his person. He is a very sweet dog and she has taken great care of him, but has now become medically unable to do so. The daughter seriously considered keeping him herself, so he could visit her mother, but concluded reluctantly that her household is too active, noisy, and busy for him. He’s lived his whole life so far quietly with her mother, and he’s been completely overwhelmed by the changes of the last few months.

    I’m sorry for all of them, and glad that we could at least give them the best outcome available, of removing him safely.

    So I got home in the early evening, lay down on the bed for a few minutes, and woke up at 6am…

  13. @Rev. Bob
    I have to admit that I’ve never read Joseph Lallo’s fiction, but he’s one of the people behind the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, together with Lindsay Buroker (whose novels I recommend) and Jeffrey M. Poole. The podcast is mainly aimed at indie writers, but also of interest to non-writers, since they do a lot of author interviews.

    @Lis
    That sounds like a tough situation for both dog and owner. I hope it works out for them.

    In other news, I helped my Mom fill out her Hugo nominations today, so we’re both set now.

  14. (9) I do wish they’d stop going back in time and instead go forward. As much as I’m looking forward to Discovery, I’d like nothing better than a new Star Trek series set 50-100 years or more after TNG, where we don’t have to worry and argue about continuity and just get back to, you know, exploring strange new worlds. Anyone remember that?

  15. @John:

    Are you saying that we’ve got to go back… to the future? Great Scott!

    😉

  16. (10) SHADOW CLARKE DOINGS. FAQs I’d like answered include #1 Why don’t you just make your own award (I’m not the only one here who’s wondered that), and #2 Why doesn’t the real Clarke Awards sue you for using their name (probably not a frequent question). 😉 😛 (I realize only the real Awards can answer my second question.)

    Hmm, another Q: Why doesn’t FAQ “Who are the Shadow Jurors This Year?” – answered with “You can find a complete list here.” – include a link to a list? That answer just begs for a link.

    ETA: @Rev. Bob – LOL. 🙂

  17. @Kendall

    Well, the real Clarke Award have been supportive of the shadow version, so I don’t think any solicitors are about to get rich off this.

    Whether or not it would have been better run as its own thing (a valid question, I agree) I’m finding this approach with an open jury extremely interesting to watch. I’m not sure a “real” jury would be prepared to be this open about how the sausage got made, and if so I think that allowing a more open process is perhaps a justification for this shadowing approach.

  18. @Mark: Thanks, that answers 1 or 1.5 of my questions. (I didn’t really expect legal action on this, heh.)

    I’ve enjoyed panels at various cons where juried awards talk about their process and about specific books. So at least for SF awards, it doesn’t seem that unusual – or is that not open enough? While they’re jurying and discussing things, I wouldn’t expect or want them to be open during the process; that sounds like a bad idea. It sounds like perhaps you would like that (or my reading comprehension’s worse than usual), so we diverge there.

    But after, well, I’ve sat on panels about World Fantasy (once or twice), Gaylactic Spectrum (several times), and IIRC James Tiptree, Jr. (once, IIRC???) where they talked through things, mentioned other books certain people liked but that didn’t make the cut (not quite the same as a personal shortlist, but kinda related), etc.

    One other thing that seems super-weird to me is that the FAQ says the personal shortlists include books the individual is “keen to read.” Keen to read? How can someone make a shortlist for an award of books they haven’t read?! That’s not a shortlist. (I mean, sure, the Puppies do this, but, well, you know, Puppies.) That’s mixing up shortlist (things one read and feels should be seriously considered) and a reading list, IMHO. Two very different things. I understand anticipating something and expecting it’ll probably make the cut (e.g., familiarity with author or series), but, hmm.

  19. @Kendall

    Being this open during the jury process is interesting to me for entirely selfish reasons, but like you I’m not convinced a real jury could operate like that – any pros on the jury would probably feel awkward, for starters.

    I was also surprised that the shortlisting stage wasn’t of books they’d already read, but perhaps reading (or at least sampling) the full longlist was a bigger commitment than they could get out of anyone.

  20. @Kendall: Yeah, that “I haven’t read it, but it’s on my award shortlist” thing feels really weird to me too.

    I see the whole thing as a format for buzz. Instead of saying “Here’s some awesome/important books from this year,” they say “Here are books that could be considered for the Clarke award.” It gets more eyeballs, and it frames the discussion, gives it direction.

    (Which, well, does bear some similarity to Puppydom – using an award to bring attention to the books you find important. OTOH, that’s kind of what awards are for. “Everybody gets to talk about books in the context of an award” is certainly one of the things I love about the Hugos.)

    I think the power of the shadow jury will be much more evident at the next steps — when there’s a real shortlist, and a shadow shortlist. That’s when we’ll be getting a huge number of views and reviews and discussions of a small group of books, rather than the initial wide net that each shadow-juror casts on their own, without much overlap (and practically no conflicting opinions, since here, by definition, all the reviewing is positive).

  21. @John M. Cowan I absolutly agree. The future is long and the succesfull series were the ones set in the future. Writers are much more free when they can feature new aliens, new areas, ne weapons and ships, instead of re-hashing known ones.

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