Pixel Scroll 3/12/17 The Band Played Scrolling Matilda

(1) ALL WISDOM, Last October, The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar interviewed Talmon Marco, CEO of Juno, a ride-hailing app that is trying to take business from Uber and Lyft by offering its drivers more pay and stock options.

When I asked Marco why he was so sure that Juno would still be around, he said, half jokingly, that he had acquired all the wisdom he needed by reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. “Oh, my God,” he said. “It’s the Bible.  Everything is there.”

…I asked Marco to share what he had learned from the book, and he hesitated.  “Now you’re really putting me on the spot,” he said.  After thinking for a few seconds, he went on, “It claims the math never works in a restaurant, which explains why the bill never adds up.” He wasn’t sure if that was still true, because, he said, he stopped looking at restaurant checks a long time ago — preemptively handing your credit card to the server saves the five minutes it takes to get the bill, look at it, and send it back with the payment.

“It was a very popular book, especially when I was growing up, among geeks in the eighties and nineties,” Marco went on.  “You have to ask the founders of Snapchat.”

(2) A BOOK OF HER OWN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Gabby Rivera, whose “Latina, queer, superpowered and superpopular character” America Chavez has made appearances in the Marvel books Young Avengers and The Ultimates and has now appeared in her own comic book from Marvel, America.

 “Superhero comics seemed so out of my league that I never even imagined it as something I could do. But the second the opportunity came my way, it felt so right,” Rivera told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’ve always dreamt up wild, powerful and carefree superheroes that look like me and my family: thick, brown, goofy, beautiful. And now I get to see them come to life. ‘America’ is going to be all those things and it’s [going to] be wild.”

Before beginning to write “America,” the new solo series (illustrated by Joe Quinones) that debuted in print and digitally last week, Rivera dived into stacks of comic books featuring the superstrong heroine who can fly and punch star-shaped dimension-hopping holes into the air. Rivera called it her “crash course” on all things America.

(3) PODCASTING TIME LORD. Scott Edelman writes, “I was very pleased to have gotten live on the second weekend of March 2017 an episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded the second weekend of March 1995! How? You’ll see.”

Episode 31 is a 1995 World Horror Con Flashback:

So prepare to time travel back to a 1995 mall food court lunch as I talk about my first job at Marvel Comics, how I broke into writing for Tales from the Darkside, and the beginnings of Science Fiction Age magazine, while Adam-Troy Castro reveals how he created the first story in the first issue of that magazine, as well as how a cab ride he feared he wouldn’t survive turned into one of his most memorable works of fiction.

(4) AS THE TWIG IS BENT. Crooked Timber is running one of their seminars on Ada Palmer’s “Terra Ignota” books — Too Like the Lightning, and the just-released Seven Surrenders. So far they have posted –

Ada Palmer’s new book – Seven Surrenders – is out today. So too is our seminar….

Almost all science fiction, as J.G. Ballard remarked in the introduction to Vermilion Sands, is really about the present day. This is certainly less true today than it was in 1971, but it is still often the case that the relationship between our present and the future world that is depicted – or between the present of the imagined world and that future’s past, when anyone inside the story decides to look back – is oddly straightforward and uninteresting. This is certainly not something that can be said of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota books.

In the genres of science fiction and fantasy, when a book is written in an unusual mode, it’s usually either a gimmick or window-dressing. Window-dressing is when for instance a Victorian feeling book has a faux Victorian style as part of that feel. An example of this would be Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where Heinlein doesn’t have to tell us that the English spoken on the moon is heavily influenced by Australian and Russian, he gives us a first person narrative devoid of articles and peppered with Russian borrowings and Australian slang. It’s great, but really it’s just scenery, everything else would be the same if he’d chosen to write the book in third with just the dialogue like that. It’s quite unusual to read something where the mode is absolutely integral to what the book is doing. In Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence, the decaying grammar and vocabulary of the first person narrator, Lola, mirrors the disintegration of society around her, and we the reader slowly move from a near future with a near normal text to a complete understanding of sentences that would have been incomprehensible on page one, in a world that has also changed that much.

Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders tell the story of beautiful, brilliant, compassionate people who are also terribly vulnerable. They are Eloi who have convinced themselves Morlocks do not exist; they are victim-beneficiaries of two hundred years of willful ignorance of growing rot. Like the dragon Smaug, they’ve rested on their hoard for centuries, adding layer after layer to their invulnerable bejeweled armor—but they cannot see the armor’s chink, the soft space waiting for Bard the Bowman’s arrow.

The arrow is shaped like God.

(5) AMERICAN GODS. The creators of the American Gods TV series told attendees at a SXSW panel the show has new meaning in “a climate that vilifies immigrants”.

When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods comes to television next month, it’s going to look a little different than fans of the book remember — and its creators hope they’ll take away a subtle political message alongside the myths and magic.

“Our first task of adapting is to make the show that we wanted to see as an audience member,” said Bryan Fuller, one of the showrunners. But “it’s definitely a different show than we set out to make, because the political climate in America shat its pants,” he said. “We are now telling massive immigration stories in a climate that vilifies immigrants. And so we have a strange new platform to start a different kind of conversation.” Fellow showrunner Michael Green agreed. “The book is joyful, it celebrates a lot of things that we love about America, and have since become weirdly odd about America,” he said.

Neil Gaiman echoed the sentiment on Twitter after the panel. “I don’t think we preach,” he told a fan. “And we didn’t think we were making a politically relevant show, just adapting a book about immigrants and America.”

(6) POLITICAL ACTION FIGURES. You may or may not ordinarily be interested in a review and photos of Pinhead Hellraiser III 1/6th action figure by ThreeZero, but Cat Eldridge predicts many readers will be entertained by the political statement at the very end of the review…

(7) NAFF. The National Australian Fan Fund, to send one Australian fan to the Natcon, has opened voting. The winner will attend Continuum 13 in Melbourne, June 9–13.

There are four candidates from three states:

  • Jason Fischer (SA)
  • Talitha Kalago (QLD)
  • Fe Waters (WA)
  • Jay Watson (WA)

More details available here. Voting ends April 16.

(8) AT THE BACK OF THE PACK. Rolling Stone has ranked all the cast members from Saturday Night Live since the beginning of the show in the 1970s. Although he went on to have a hugely successful acting career in the Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man movie franchises, this fellow came in last place —

  1. Robert Downey Jr.

Era: 1985-1986

Robert Downey Jr. is a comic genius. Making him unfunny stands as SNL’s most towering achievement in terms of sucking. How do you fuck up a sure thing like Downey? He’s funny in anything. I mean, dude was funny in Weird Science. He was funny in Johnny Be Good. He was funny in Iron Man. But he met his Kryptonite, and it was SNL, where he spent the 1985-1986 season sucking up a storm. His greatest hit? A fart-noise debate with Anthony Michael Hall. In a perverse way, the Downey Fail sums up everything that makes SNL great. There are no sure things. No rules. No do-overs. No safety net — when you flop on SNL, you flop big. And that’s the way it should be. The cameras roll at 11:30, ready or not. Live from New York — it’s Saturday Night.

(9) COSTUMING HISTORY. A video compilation of Kat Bushman’s convention masquerade entries from 1967-2000.

(10) LONG-LASTING HORROR. On Fivebooks, Darryl Jones, who teaches at Trinity College in Dublin, is asked to recommend the best horror stories. He turns to 1897 and reminds us why The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Great God Pan are still worth reading.

Can you give some examples?

One of the best places to look for examples is late-Victorian England. Think of 1897, the year of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which marks the zenith of the British Empire.

1897 also saw the publication of a number of landmark works which were very anxious about the status and lasting power of the British Empire. These works often envisage colonial or intergalactic Others coming to invade London, the imperial metropolis. London gets invaded, London gets destroyed.

(11) KEEP ON TINGLING. A reworking of a popular meme —

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Standback, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/12/17 The Band Played Scrolling Matilda

  1. You know, I still don’t get why The Great God Pan was supposed to be scary.

    I don’t think it’s just me or just Machen–I thought The White People was creepy enough that I’ve been bashing together a tribute for a year now, and some of his other stuff is nicely unsettling. And it’s not just my jaded modern palate–from the same era, The Willows was genuinely scary stuff. But Pan just flopped hard for me, and I’ve never understood why it gets so much love.

  2. (3) The juxtaposition of Marvel Comics with Takes from the Darkside now has me craving Tales from the Dark Side of the Force. Probably all about nefarious Sith coming to ignobly bad ends, right?

  3. I have now managed to make a complete Hugo ballot with all of the category slots filled, with the exception of Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

    I invite and request any of you with strong feelings about candidates in that category to post them here, with your assessments, that I may further evaluate possibilities for my ballot. 😀

  4. @JJ : If weird podcasts might be up your alley, I’d suggest “The Factory by the Sea” (Alice Isn’t Dead) and “Doubt, Head” (Within the Wires).

    “The Factory by the Sea” is a short, weird road-trip-ish tale, that works perfectly well as a standalone.
    “Doubt, Head” is kind of a climax point in the season, but I think it stands well on its own, too. Within the Wires has chosen the bizarre format of subversive exercise cassettes, supplied to a “guest” of the foreboding Institute.

  5. (6) POLITICAL ACTION FIGURES. Hehehe, a trifecta of horror in that second-to-last photo.

    (8) AT THE BACK OF THE PACK. What a walk down memory lane (for the years/people I’m familiar with); thanks for linking to this.

    (11) KEEP ON TINGLING. LOL at the top right one. Well, LOL at all of it. 🙂

    @JJ: Congrats! I bow before you; I’m just happy to have something in nearly all categories. The only Short Form entry on my ballot is The Nostalgist. With my luck, I got the link from you, but if you haven’t seen it (I’m sure it was linked here somewhere, some time ago), take a gander. I thought it was great.

  6. The dino is embarrassed because they wanted some privacy but now he’s worrying that perhaps Thewholeinternetsaurus.

  7. Re: Khaw. Thanks. Gotta update my ballot now…

    8 I had no idea Downey was on Saturday night live as a cast member. Wow. Even though I never had and have watched much SNL, I’d have thought I’d remember.

  8. When I think of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I think of the Infocom game and that damn Babel fish puzzle (which would have driven Rube Goldberg insane).

    [whale-stalk]

  9. The Babel fish puzzle is the reason I know that the HHGTTG text parser doesn’t understand the phrase ‘fuck you Douglas Adams.’

  10. @JJ

    I have two eps from The Expanse on my Short Form ballot–“Leviathan Wakes” and “Salvage.” The former was the first season finale, and I also really liked the latter, which had a suitably creepy Alien vibe.

    “Manifest” (ep 7) was, in my view, the best hour of Marvel’s Luke Cage.

    Preacher was definitely not for everyone, but I loved its over-the-top, gonzo craziness. I thought the best episode was “Sundowner,” where we finally started getting some answers to the often absurd goings-on.

    Finally, the last episode of season 2 of The Man in the High Castle, “Fallout.” This ep, and Rufus Sewell’s performance, chilled me to the bone. I really wrestled between this episode on short and putting the entire season on Long. There was so much TV and movie SF goodness this year that my hardest choices were the Dramatic Presentations.

  11. I had trouble with short form because I kept wanting to nominate entire seasons in long form. My short form ballot started off with the Sense8 Christmas special, but no, that was actually two hours long. Currently it has an episode of Mr. Robot on it, although I expect that’s kind of an edge case.

  12. Are we human?
    Or are we filers?
    Our books are vital, and space is cold
    And I’m scrolling on my knees
    Looking for the answer
    Are we human or are we Filers?

  13. JJ:

    I invite and request any of you with strong feelings about candidates in that category to post them here, with your assessments, that I may further evaluate possibilities for my ballot.

    Clipping was offering an mp3 download of Splendor and Misery on Twitter a week or so ago. I’ve listened to about half of it so far.

    ETA: Contributing Editor of the Day. Woot!

  14. The 2017 Campbell anthology is live and available for free download, including a story by yours truly as well as many others.

  15. I liked the babel fish puzzle. Probably because I was able to solve it. The puzzle where you had to have nothing may have stumped me. There was also the one where you had to ignore what the game was telling you and keep going down a certain corridor.

    Next up: Leather Goddesses of Phobos and the scratch and sniff card.

    When a pixel comes along, you must scroll it
    Before the file sits too long, you must scroll it
    When something’s going wrong, you must scroll it

  16. Heh. I still remember the solution to the Babel fish problem. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could replay the whole game from memory…

    Since I picked up a good chunk of Marvel’s Civil War II over the weekend, I’ve been reading those all yesterday and today. It’s a good read, a solid moral dilemma, but there’s one tiny little problem with it: the prediction that kicks everything into high gear and results in a major-league fatality is demonstrably incorrect. It simply wasn’t possible, and at least two of the people on the scene knew that in canon. (Conveniently, that data’s tucked away in one of the tie-in books.) This resolves the whole question of whether the predictions are reliable: we can prove they’re not. Without that conundrum, the whole story falls apart.

    So, if you’re interested in reading the story, don’t look too closely at that. It’s as if the publisher completely forgot about one of its newer titles and the major developments that made that character possible.

  17. 1 – Oh come on that was the best answer he can come up with when asked what wisdom he learned from HGttG? He said it’s like his bible, but I guess like a lot of people they swear to living by it’s teachings than seem to forget the content of the book.

    Off the top of my head lessons from HGttG:
    -Don’t Panic.

    -What may seem all encompassing to you is just in the way of super galactic highway construction for others.

    -The whale and petunias show us that the joy of discovery and the experience of something new is great, but that repetition of it is less interesting.

    -A two faced, narcissistic, offensive person who doesn’t think before they speak can be president if they’re charismatic enough.

    -Always bring a towel.

    5 – ‘When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods comes to television next month, it’s going to look a little different than fans of the book remember — and its creators hope they’ll take away a subtle political message alongside the myths and magic.’

    That’s the book I remember, only it wasn’t very subtle in the book? Anecdotally I was reading Norse Mythology on the bus Friday and a guy who spoke very little English was excited by the cover and wanted to express how much he loved American Gods to someone else who might’ve read it.

    Torn on Norse Mythology though. I like mythology so I’ve read lots of books on Norse Myths and it feels like Gaiman contributed very little to existing books on the subject. But his name will help continue the spread of these stories and help keep them from being forgotten.

    Bonnie –

    Preacher was definitely not for everyone, but I loved its over-the-top, gonzo craziness. I thought the best episode was “Sundowner,” where we finally started getting some answers to the often absurd goings-on.

    I can’t stand the Preacher TV show because Cassidy is the moral center of the show, Tulip likes violence for the sake of violence and is kind of pathetic with her obsession with Jesse who keeps spurning her over and over again, Arseface tried to commit murder/suicide from being turned down by a girl and Jesse is a dumb fuck. They’ve pretty much took a crap on everything I liked about the characters. But I keep hate watching it anyway, the director has some really fantastic shots.

    JJ –

    I invite and request any of you with strong feelings about candidates in that category to post them here, with your assessments, that I may further evaluate possibilities for my ballot

    Stranger Things Ep. 7 The Bathtub.

  18. @6: I think I’m missing something, or looking at the wrong part of the very end; is stating that one has bought something to review political? It used to be that reviewers were like honest politicians (who could take your bribe and still vote against you, in an old phrase), but maybe reviewing figurines these days is different.

  19. (10) LONG-LASTING HORROR.

    I read The Island of Dr. Moreau in an annotated version just a few years ago and it was great. The footnotes to each chapter with background about religion and politics made it so much more.

    Matt Y:

    “I can’t stand the Preacher TV show because Cassidy is the moral center of the show, Tulip likes violence for the sake of violence and is kind of pathetic with her obsession with Jesse who keeps spurning her over and over again, Arseface tried to commit murder/suicide from being turned down by a girl and Jesse is a dumb fuck.”

    Well, Jesse was a dumb fuck in the comic too. Really hated him and his John Wayne worship. Cassidy was the one that made the comic good, so they had to destroy him.

  20. Chip Hitchcock

    @6: I think I’m missing something, or looking at the wrong part of the very end; is stating that one has bought something to review political? It used to be that reviewers were like honest politicians (who could take your bribe and still vote against you, in an old phrase), but maybe reviewing figurines these days is different.

    The picture at the end is Putin and Trump playing with the Lemarchand box with Pinhead overseeing them.

    Hampus Eckerman

    Well, Jesse was a dumb fuck in the comic too. Really hated him and his John Wayne worship. Cassidy was the one that made the comic good, so they had to destroy him.

    Well a different type of dumb fuck at least. Custer didn’t use the power to perform miracles to get the approval of the town people and how he uses the power, especially after what he did to one character, just is completely dumb. He’s a mess of contradictions wrapped in idiocy. The end of season one with gur gbja oybjvat hc orpnhfr bs n ohvyqhc bs zrgunar sebz nyy gur ohyyfuvg zvtug’ir orra gur orfg zrgncube sbe gur ragver fubj fb sne.

  21. Yes, thanks, Kathodus! I had seen the email from Amazon but not twigged that this was actually a discounted novel price, as opposed to an already-low-priced novella …

  22. It is perhaps worth pointing out that the Crooked Timber thing is eligible for Best Related Work. (Next year, obviously. Though they did a similar thing on Walton’s Thessaly last year, which would be eligible this year)

  23. @JJ
    I have a hard time with BDP Short Form. I could nominate l almost any Adventure Time episode, but I chose Season 7 Episode 24 Hall of Egress . It has a Phillip K. Dick vibe. It was a stand-alone episode, so you can watch it even if you don’t follow the show.

  24. I’m trying to pick which “Welcome To Night Vale” episodes to nominate, myself.

  25. @Cassy B — Now that I think about it, I nominated Toast (ep. 100), although upon further consideration that’s probably not a great episode for someone who hasn’t listened to the previous 99.

  26. Short form: I just can’t keep up with TV anymore.

    Nearly there on my Hugo noms. Found editor short easier than before but mainly by having a better sense of who does what. Still hate editor long form as a category.

    I’ve lost track of the thread where people praised the website – but I want to chime in and say I really like the way it works this year. Very straightforward & easy to update choices and the email feedback is handy.

  27. Glad to help re Lovecraft Country!

    @Camestros – Same here regarding the Hugos website. Very nicely done. I hope that’s an indicator of how the convention will go. I won’t be there, unfortunately, but I’m excited for those who will.

  28. @Peer

    Are we human?
    Or are we filers?
    Our books are vital, and space is cold
    And I’m scrolling on my knees
    Looking for the answer
    Are we human or are we Filers?

    Love this, but then I like the original song a lot.

    @JJ
    My tastes in speculative TV are largely out of whack with US tastes, plus I haven’t yet seen a lot of the newer SFF shows people are raving about such as Stranger Things, Westworld, The Expanse, Preacher (which I had high hopes for).

    However, I nominated episodes of Agent Carter, Lucifer, Outlander, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. My Mom also nominated an episode of Gotham in addition to some of the same shows I nominated.

  29. Publish your own writing?
    Announcing our new fiction fanzine.

    Eldritch Science – Submission deadline for the first issue is March 31.

    Eldritch Science is the new fanzine from the National Fantasy Fan Federation, the oldest non-regional SF club in the world (founded 1941). Eldritch Science will publish art, poetry, and fiction including science fiction, swords and sorcery, supernatural, occult, and horror.. Fiction contributions must be a minimum of 7500 words. We do not pay. You will retain all rights except our right to republish our zine in whatever formats are currently appropriate. We accept lengths up to complete novels. We do not accept material using the intellectual property of others. The great detective and his assistant are appropriate; Holmes and Watson are not. Material with a major erotic component should seek alternative markets. Editorial standards are high. In its prior incarnation under my editorship, Eldritch Science lost multiple authors to major SF publishing houses. Send submissions (.RTF or .DOC preferred for prose) to the Eldritch Science Editor, George Phillies phillies@4liberty.net.

  30. 9) Can anybody shed more light on the music used in the opening of that video? Shazam identifies it as “Checkmate” by Valjean Johns; IMDB tells me that there was a 1960s-era detective series by that name, but Johns is not listed in the music credits (although John Williams is!); Valjean Johns also has an IMDB entry (as “Val Johns”) but all of his composer credits are much later. Where does that music come from, and why does it sound so familiar?

  31. Valjean Johns had an album from Carlton in 1962 (?) that had the themes of various TV shows including Checkmate. He had a hit with the theme from Ben Casey that spurred the album and so it’s called Theme from Ben Casey. You can find some of the songs over at YouTube

  32. @IanP – Bummer. I’ll try to remember to add the country next time to avoid disappointing people.

  33. @Cassy B, @Joe H:

    I’ve been keeping my eyes open for Hugo-worthy Night Vale episodes, but I haven’t been feeling them this year. They’re a load of fun, but they’re pretty much doing what they’ve been doing all along. Nothing really stands out. (“Toast” was lovely, but the bulk of it feels like incomprehensible fanservice; it’s only at the reveal that it gets incredibly good.)

    But I do highly recommend a few episodes from Night Vale’s sister-podcasts, Alice Isn’t Dead and Within the Wires. I linked and reviewed up above. If you’re Night Vale fans, and didn’t follow up on the sister-podcasts yet, I recommend them highly 🙂

  34. @ Jack: Ah, that makes sense. I went and found the opening theme from the show “Checkmate” on YouTube, and it was written by John Williams (back when he was still “Johnny Williams”). And as to why it sounded familiar, I finally pinned that down. The piano style is similar to the style on this piano/violin arrangement of “Devil’s Dance” from The Witches of Eastwick, which is one of my favorite spooky pieces.

  35. @Standback — Yes, I really liked both Alice and Within — I’ll have to go back and check for specific episodes. I’ve also listened to all of the Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, although it hasn’t quite grabbed me in the same way.

    Edited to add: Yes, very definitely Factory By the Sea belongs on the ballot.

  36. @JJ
    I have now managed to make a complete Hugo ballot with all of the category slots filled, with the exception of Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

    Wow–impressive!

    I’m guessing my Short Form nominees won’t really be your cup of tea, but for what it’s worth, I nominated:

    Gravity Falls, Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls. Unlike my husband, I was never a big Gravity Falls fan, but I thought the series finale was fantastic–both hilarious and touching.

    Supergirl, Falling. A very nice Red Kryptonite episode, with some great acting by Melissa Benoist.

    The Good Place, Someone Like Me as a Member. I wasn’t expecting to like this show at all, but it really hooked me. It’s one of the many shows that fits better in Long Form, but the first season didn’t end until 2017. For this year, I just picked what I thought was one of the better episodes.

    Good luck completing your ballot!

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