Pixel Scroll 3/16/17 Let’s Go Scrollin’ In Pixel Land

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. The panel is getting younger. “This week actual high schooler (for about two more months) Raya joins the crew, says James Davis Nicoll. “Like most of the others, she’s familiar with recent genre but not the older material.”

Her first assignment: Joan D. Vinge’s “A View From A Height.”.

1978’s Hugo Nominee “A View From a Height” first appeared in the June 1978 issue of Analog. It was selected for Terry Carr’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year, #8, Gardner Dozois’ Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Eighth Annual Collection, Pamela Sargent’s Women of Wonder, the Classic Years: Science Fiction by Women from the 1940s to the 1970s, as well as other collections and anthologies. The theme of irreversible life decisions cast into doubt by new revelations seemed to me one that would have aged well. Let’s see if I was right.

(2) ORWELL PRIZE. The Orwell Prize for Books 2017 Longlist consists almost entirely of nonfiction, with one exception of genre interest —

The Power by Naomi Alderman (Viking)

It starts with teenage girls. At 14 or 15, the age when in our present world girls are waking to an awareness of their own sexuality tangled up in all the ways society will seek to stifle or exploit it, Alderman has them come alive to the thrill of pure power: the ability to hurt or even kill by releasing electrical jolts from their fingertips. “Something’s happening. The blood is pounding in her ears. A prickling feeling is spreading along her back, over her shoulders, along her collarbone. It’s saying: you can do it. It’s saying: you’re strong.”

The shortlist will be announced on May 15, and the winner on June 8.

(3) MAKING MUSIC. Sammy Cahn (“Come Fly With Me,” “Three Coins in the Fountain”) used to tell people he got his inspiration when the check arrived. Disney songwriter Alan Menken says he needs a little more.

“Where does it start and where does it end, and what’s the title and what song might it remind us of? …” Menken asks. “A million questions and only then will I sit and … start to play the piano.”

Menken’s musical chops were developed off-Broadway. He and lyricist Howard Ashman’s success with the 1982 comedy rock horror musical Little Shop of Horrors got Hollywood’s attention.

But when he first started working at Disney animation, he had some reservations. “I can’t tell you how many people said to me: Ugh, man, take a powder. Nobody takes animated musicals seriously,” he recalls.

Menken and Ashman’s first musical film — The Little Mermaid animation in 1989 — was a life saver for Disney. It lifted the studio out of a slump, and led to more big hits.

(4) UNSPOKEN MEETS UNSPEAKABLE. About a currently-running horror movie:

The new film, Get Out, defies easy classification. Though it has funny moments, it’s primarily a horror film, with racial anxiety at its center. Writer-director Jordan Peele tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that he thinks of Get Out as a “social thriller.”

The movie tells the story of a young black man named Chris whose white girlfriend, Rose, takes him to meet her parents for the first time — without first telling them he’s black. Rose’s parents go out of their way to show Chris how open minded they are, but there’s something suspicious in the liberal facade they present. The film takes several twists and turns (which we won’t spoil here) as Chris figures out what is going on.

Peele wanted the audience, regardless of race, to see the subtle racism through Chris’ eyes. “It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some way with the fears inherent [in] being black in this country,” Peele says. “Part of being black in this country, and I presume being any minority, is constantly being told that … we’re seeing racism where there just isn’t racism.”

(5) DOPPLEGANGERS. NPR’s “Movie Twins? Weirdly Similar Films That Came Out Within Months Of Each Other” cites many genre examples.

The new movie Life, which opens March 24, is about astronauts who discover an alien life form and live to regret it. You could say exactly the same thing about Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled to open the following Friday — until someone realized that was a recipe for box-office disaster. Alien: Covenant will now open in early May, and that close call, crazy as it is, isn’t uncommon in Hollywood.

Rival studios often stare each other down, refusing to blink, in showdowns that didn’t need to happen. In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids were blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads not once, but twice: with much electronic beeping and enormous special effects in Armageddon, and slightly higher beeping and enormous special effects in Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in both Antz and A Bug’s Life — and all of that just one year after dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

(6) ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Congressional candidate Brianna Wu was interviewed in New York Times Magazine.

Do you really think Democrats need to take pages from the Trump playbook? I would say we need to speak with our hearts more. The typical Democratic way of talking about, say, wealth inequality is to bring out Robert Reich, who will give a cute academic presentation. But at the core, wealth inequality is about people’s dreams for their families and their children. It’s friends my age who are dying to have a child and don’t know if they can afford to do that. The Democratic Party tends to have this hypereducated ruling-class mentality, and we need to realize that’s not making us connect with a lot of voters.

Considering the internet culture leading up to the election, some have said 2016 was a banner year for internet trolls. Do you think that’s accurate? Absolutely. I’ve rarely talked about Obama’s share of the blame for the rise of the alt-right and Gamergate. I had two separate calls with the White House, and they were telling me they had some ideas they were putting together to address Gamergate without needing to go through Congress, and nothing came of it. And what happened is a lot of people learned that there are no consequences to harassing women. If I play Grand Theft Auto and I decide to blow up a police helicopter, there are going to be consequences to that; eventually I’m going to go to jail and maybe pay 100 virtual dollars. We don’t even have that…..

In the aftermath of Gamergate, you said that you and the other women who were harassed “did everything right, and the system failed us.” Now you’re saying you want to be a part of that system. Do you think you can make changes inside of it? To me, the only way to get further gains on these issues is for more women to be represented in Congress. I don’t even care if it was a higher percentage of Republican women: I genuinely believe that if that number were closer to 50-50, we wouldn’t have ludicrous policies like the Hyde Amendment going through and devastating women’s access to reproductive health care. I want women out there to look at how incredibly unqualified Trump is and then ask themselves: “What on earth is holding you back? Do you think you don’t measure up with Donald Trump in the White House?”

(7) CHARACTERIZATION. Marko Kloos, whose Angles of Attack won two Rampant Manticore awards, explains how the novel came to have a gay Russian space marine.

Truth be told, when I wrote Dmitry, I didn’t know he was gay until I got to the scene in ANGLES OF ATTACK where Dmitry and young master Andrew have a drink together and show each other pictures of their main squeezes, as soldiers do when they have downtime and some alcohol in front of them. I’m not the kind of writer who claims that my characters have their own will—they do what I tell them to, goddammit, because I’m the master of their universe—but that was a moment where a character revealed a little detail that I hadn’t intentionally sketched out, but that felt natural and proper. Dmitry pulled out the picture of his spouse, and my brain just went, “He has a husband. Huh, Of course he does.”

So no, I don’t sit down with a character creation sheet and a checklist for Maximum Diversity(tm) and threw in a gay character to advance an agenda, score Social Justice Warrior brownie points, or engage in virtue-signaling. Dmitry is gay because he is, and with all the crap these soldiers have to deal with in their alien-besieged dystopia, I found it appropriate that at the very least, showing someone else a picture of your same-sex spouse is not worthy of special commentary above and beyond “Nice picture” in that version of the future.

(8) CHOOSING THE POWER. Abigail Nussbaum shares the Best Novel and Campbell Award categories on her Hugo nominating ballot. The first of her four novel picks is –

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman (review) – As I’ve said, this feels more like a Clarke award book than a Hugo award one, but nevertheless Alderman’s chilling, Handmaid’s Tale-esque story about a world in which women suddenly develop the ability to shoot bolts of electricity from their bodies, upending the world’s balance of violent potential, is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking works of science fiction I’ve read in some time.  What’s most interesting about The Power is that while it is undeniably a book about gender and the role that violence plays in maintaining gender roles, that’s not its main interest.  What Alderman is doing with her premise is using it to discuss the role that violence and the use of force play in organizing our society, even when we pretend to be beyond them.  That feels like a vital issue at this point in time.

(9) SIR POT. Mashable reports that Sir Patrick Stewart has announced that he has used medical marijuana for several years to help with his arthritis.  Stewart made this announcement to support an Oxford University proposal calling for more research into marijuana’s medical benefits. The piece is called “Patrick Stewart reveals that he uses medical marijuana every day”.

But Stewart isn’t rolling up a joint or hitting the bong, he says he typically uses sprays, ointments and edibles.

“I purchased an ointment, spray and edibles. The ointment, while providing some relief from the discomfort, was too greasy to use during daytime and so I only use it at night.”

Patrick went on to describe how he uses his medicine, later adding that he can now make a fist with his hand, which was impossible for him to do before using cannabis.

As the Captain might say, “Make it grow!”

(10) NEW PIXAR MOVIE. Coco, a Disney-Pixar movie, opens in US theatres in 3D on November 22.

(11) EYE-SEARING. Starz new American Gods trailer is violent and gory. Beware!

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

81 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/16/17 Let’s Go Scrollin’ In Pixel Land

  1. So no, I don’t sit down with a character creation sheet and a checklist for Maximum Diversity(tm) and threw in a gay character to advance an agenda, score Social Justice Warrior brownie points, or engage in virtue-signaling. Dmitry is gay because he is, and with all the crap these soldiers have to deal with in their alien-besieged dystopia, I found it appropriate that at the very least, showing someone else a picture of your same-sex spouse is not worthy of special commentary above and beyond “Nice picture” in that version of the future.

    So when he writes a gay character, it’s just because the character is gay and it’s not a big deal to the other characters so let’s not make too much out of it.

    But when another author writes a gay character, it’s because a social justice warrior agenda of virtuous brownie signaling is being advanced.

    And his gay character’s gay “because he is,” as if that’s a thing, instead of the exact same creative process any other author undergoes by making a choice to recognize that the world has LGBT people in it and fiction can too.

    Harrumph. Kloos has spent too much time around puppies if that’s how he thinks other SF/F authors feature gay characters.

  2. rcade: Harrumph. Kloos has spent too much time around puppies if that’s how he thinks other SF/F authors feature gay characters.

    He doesn’t think other authors do that. He’s responding to an accusation that he himself did that.

  3. Fair point. But he was the one making reference to things like “Social Justice Warrior brownie points” and “virtue-signaling,” and that framing makes it sound like he believes some of that horseshit when the accusation is made against other authors. The critical reviewer he was responding to only is quoted about “diversity.”

  4. 5) Movie twins?
    How about a set of triplets: The Matrix, eXistenZ and The Thirteenth Floor all came out in 1999. I saw all of them in the theater, although that’s a noteworthy feat only for the last two…

  5. @rcade

    So when he writes a gay character, it’s just because the character is gay and it’s not a big deal to the other characters so let’s not make too much out of it.

    His target audience are alt-right types, and it’s them he’s addressing.

  6. @10: I’m interested in this anyway because of my time as a serious amateur musician (now approaching half a century) — but I’m going to want the DVD for freezes and closeups of the guitars; they look just a bit more real than the people, as if everything was rotoscoped around pictures of real guitars, but that may be an effect of the small screen size.

    NSFW link: this app-driven … toy … tells the manufacturer what you’ve done with it. And you thought Orwell’s Big Brother was too watchful….

  7. Paul – and Dark City the year before!

    For action fans the argument goes on between The Raid and Dredd

  8. @Chip Hitchcock: I was impressed because when I watched the Coco trailer, it looked like the bits where he was playing the guitar were actually properly animated in terms of finger positions on the strings — I recognized some of the chords.

    Also, it looks like a stunningly gorgeous film.

  9. Stumbled across this article, thought people here might be interested in it…

    Ancestral Climates May Have Shaped Your Nose – looking into the heritability of characteristics such as nose shape, also skin pigmentation and height.

    Re Kloos: I’m struggling to think of any book that I’ve read within, say, the last 5 years, that has included any character merely for social justice brownie points.

    (11) I am excited for this but remain dubious of the choice to cast a soap opera actor as the main character. None of this guy’s other credits are exactly putting my mind at ease either. Still the proof is in the pudding; it’s entirely possible that he’ll crush it and my worries will be totally invalidated.

    (10) A friend of mine had a huge rant recently about how similar this looks to The Book of Life from 2014, so I think I’ll be watching that film before I watch the Pixar version.

  10. I always think of Real Genius as having been unfairly overshadowed by Revenge of the Nerds (which is not nearly as good a film). I can’t remember whether I’d ever even heard of Weird Science previously.

  11. HelenS: I can’t remember whether I’d ever even heard of Weird Science previously.

    The similarity between the two is only very superficial. Real Genius is about teenage prodigies at an Ivy-League university developing amazing technology which evil government military operatives intend to use for weapons. Weird Science is a 14-year-old boy’s wish-fulfillment movie about 2 bullied geeks who conjure up a gorgeous woman with magical powers, who helps them defeat the bullies and win the hearts of the girls they like (unsurprisingly, it’s based on a comic book).

    The only thing the two movies really have in common is teenage geeks being socially awkward, and eventually winning the day (the former through science and cleverness, the latter through magic).

    Incidentally, Real Genius features Val Kilmer in only his second major film role, a year before Top Gun came out, and the hit Tears for Fears song, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”.

  12. rcade on March 16, 2017 at 6:47 pm said:
    Fair point. But he was the one making reference to things like “Social Justice Warrior brownie points” and “virtue-signaling,” and that framing makes it sound like he believes some of that horseshit when the accusation is made against other authors. The critical reviewer he was responding to only is quoted about “diversity.”

    It reads to me like he’s just being snarky about some of the criticism he receives or sees being made.

  13. @Oneiros: (Coco vs. Book of Life)

    It’s easy to forget that animated movies are typically in the works for years before they reach the screen, much longer than the average turnaround for a live-action movie. (I was reminded of this when watching some of the special features on Moana, and Frozen is especially legendary for its time in development hell.) This close together, I’m almost certain that Pixar already had Coco cooking when Book of Life came out in ’14. Having seen the latter and (just) watched the trailer for the former, they don’t look at all like the same movie – just two movies shot against the same backdrop. (BoL is particularly noteworthy in my opinion for its use of different animation styles to highlight the story layers; its Journey To The Underworld is part of a story being told, not the top-level narrative, and the animation reflects that.)

    As for Life and the Alien series, the first trailer I saw of the former had me saying, “oh, so it’s Alien, but in LEO to raise the stakes.” Subsequent trailers have done nothing to disabuse me of that notion… although, having learned that the movie was written by the team responsible for Deadpool, I’m now more interested in seeing their take on the concept. After all, The Creature Wasn’t Nice (aka Naked Space) also uses the same basic plot… just with more musical numbers and considerably worse acting.

    Seriously, to anyone even thinking about watching TCWN/NS, just say no. It’s just awful, and that’s coming from a guy who found artistic merit in Showgirls.

    On to other items…

    (7) As Chris Rock might say on the subject, “what do you want, a cookie?” Seriously, what is that passage if not “virtue signaling” for Kloos’s conservative audience, preserving his “no SJW” bona fides?

    As for the statement that he’s the master of his characters’ universe, I still remember the first time one of my characters vetoed a plot point, and the first time one flat-out lied to me. I could be charitable and say she Kenobi’d it (telling the truth “from a certain point of view”) or that she had no reason to get into all the details with the character she was talking to, but… no, she lied, and she knew it. It’s not even a bad thing, as the later revelation opens the door to tell the real story separately (or not), but I am under no illusions that I made that decision.

    Stephen King once described the art of writing fiction as akin to archaeology or paleontology: you uncover a piece of it, and you don’t know how big it’s going to be or what all of the contours will look like until you finish unearthing it. That’s a lot closer to my experience than does the “master of their universe” model.

    EDIT, @JJ and HelenS: Weird Science is a lot closer to My Science Project than it is to either Real Genius or Revenge of the Nerds.

  14. (9) SIR POT. “Make it grow!” ::groan::

    @rcade: “that framing makes it sound like he believes some of that horseshit when the accusation is made against other authors. The critical reviewer he was responding to only is quoted about “diversity.””

    That’s quite a stretch. I see a single example used as a jumping off point to make a post about writing, and a point about people saying things like that about authors, period. He didn’t say “unlike other losers, I don’t do X,” so it seems weird that you take it as an implication he feels other authors do that. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s heard one of those phrases directed at him.

    On the other paw: I know little about him; just taking it at what I feel is face value – obviously a different value than you’re taking it at. 😉

  15. Here’s what I know about Marko Kloos from reading his posts on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog:

    He’s a decent guy who was incredibly pissed off about the Puppies’ attempt to use him as a weapon in their culture war. He is not a Puppy. Despite the fact that a lot of Puppies like his MilSF fiction, he himself is not even Puppy-adjacent. I’ve seen him say things that definitely indicate that he is supportive of equality and fair treatment of all people — without the slightest concern for whether saying those things will lose him readers.

    He’s responding to the crap accusations he’s heard spouted repeatedly that authors have included women or minorities or LGBTQ characters in their fiction because they are “checking diversity tickboxes”, “virtue-signalling”, and being fake “Social Justice Warriors” who just pretend to support equality and diversity as a way of winning ‘brownie points” with readers.

    He’s just writing the best fiction he can, and he knows that the other authors being accused of these things are just writing the best fiction they can.

    This particular review was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he’s had enough of it. He’s just read the people who make those accusations The Riot Act — but has done so in his usual measured way (though if you’ve read much of his nonfiction authorial posts, you can recognize that his patience with this BS is ended).

    Now, of course I don’t speak for Mr. Kloos, and I’m not a mind-reader. This is just my assessment based on what I’ve read of his non-fiction writing as a person (as opposed to his fiction writing). And I think that those of you casting aspersions on his motivations here are way off base.

  16. Hello! I’ve been away from File770 for too long. I have my AirBnB in Finland reserved (but not my plane ticket yet) and hope to see at least a few of you there.

    Currently producing a new comedy webseries I co-wrote, “The Canadians,” a parody of FX’s “The Americans”… part of the reason I’ve been absent. Pre-production tends to eat one’s life.

    SIDE NOTE: 23 hours left to get your Hugo Nominations in!

  17. Re. Kloos: what JJ said.

    I follow him on social media and he’s a decent guy. On the political spectrum I would put him as libertarian/not-a-jerk.

  18. re 7) – I pretty much agree with JJ here; it seems to me pretty clear what Kloos thinks of Puppies and their accusations. (Might also want to check out book 4 in the series, and look for Tuckerization there of a particular canid.)

    Basically, he’s been accused of “virtue signalling” and “diversity quotas” and what-not, and has come back saying, “nope, I’m just writing a story here, there happens to be a gay character in it, deal with it.” Which is, y’know, fair enough if you ask me.

    (I’m sure there are people out there, somewhere, who write with specific quotas in mind, because the world is full of all kinds of weirdoes. I doubt whether anyone who writes with that sort of tick-box mentality is writing anything I’d much care to read, though.)

  19. Hello! I’ve been away from File770 for too long. I have my AirBnB in Finland reserved (but not my plane ticket yet) and hope to see at least a few of you there.

    Bought my ticket home yesterday night. Now just to sort out the travel details for getting there…

  20. I’d say Kloos’ non pup credentials are further reinforced by the fact it only takes 3 paragraphs for him to make his point, and that he makes it very clear what he’s responding to, rather than the traditional MGC vagueblogging ramble.

  21. I’m interested in this “libertarian – not a jerk” category of humans .. how can I get more information?

  22. Rev Bob and rcade are complaining for the sake of complaining. If they wn a million dollars they would complan it wasnt $2 million. Some people just want to complain for the sake of it. Those two do that alot. To me Kloos blog tells me that having gay characters isnt a big deal.

  23. rob_matic

    Re. Kloos: what JJ said.

    Ditto. He was responding to criticism, not implying or accusing others of doing any of that. At least I didn’t get anything of the sort out of what Kloos wrote.

  24. Kloos, after all, declined a Puppy-generated best novel Hugo nomination–he can’t be too puppyish

  25. RENEGE OF THE NERD –that’s the film where a bunch of bullied people decide to fight back and become bullies themselves. And one guy–the hero–rapes someone. This is a film that always draws out mixed emotions for me. Lots of funny stuff, but kind of hard to deal with, once you think it out.

  26. Get Out: Reminds me a bit of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, which I just finished (and would recommend). Black characters in 1950s United States deal with eldritch horrors, but their worst and scariest problems come from white people.

  27. I find many of the comments about Kloos post to be amusing.

    How many 770 news items are about:
    1] The demographic composition of the writer?
    2] Some book/article/panel/magazine issue that has exclusively selected people of a specific sex, race, sexual orientation, etc….. for the issue for their special perspective?
    3] Analyses of the nominees/award winners/people published by a magazine because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, etc……? And the conclusion is that there are “not enough” nominees/award winners/published authors by specific race, sex and sexual orientations?
    4] The cover of the book does not match the color of the writer or character?

    People can publish what they wish and write/read what they want. But the articles and comments here are often focused on box checking.

  28. @rea

    Kloos, after all, declined a Puppy-generated best novel Hugo nomination–he can’t be too puppyish

    Yes and no. They nominated him because they thought he was one of them, and that year they called the people they recommended and asked if they wanted to be on the slate. He initially accepted the Hugo Nomination, only declining it when he saw the outrage, and because he realized it associated him with White Nationalists.

    He doesn’t seem to be a bad guy, but I think he does know who his audience is, and that’s why he thought he had to justify himself for making a character gay.

  29. airboy

    But the articles and comments here are often focused on box checking

    Only way to get a bingo. Speaking of, I can check off airboy false equivalency post and I’m that much closer to today’s prizes..

  30. I totally agree. The most common comment made on here is all about ticky-ing a particular box…

    @Lisa Goldstein

    +1 on Lovecraft Country. It doesn’t seem to have been everyone’s cup of tea but I thought it was fascinating. I saw an interview with the author recently where he said that he’d originally conceived it as a TV show, which explains why it’s a bit more episodic than normal.

  31. But the articles and comments here are often focused on box checking.

    It would have been quicker for you to just say that you don’t know what box checking means.

  32. About Kloos:
    His audiance does inclued now George RR Martin and he will contribute to Wild Cards, which should brighten the audiance further.
    About agreeing: Well okay that was the Bradyear and not the Larryyear (where we have prove that not everyone was asked) but we don’t know how much he did know what he would get into (we have seen some statments of people who were first on SP and than witdrew.
    I do agree with JJs interpretation of Kloos post.

  33. I agree with JJ as well. When I saw the statement as it was presented, I have to admit that my initial response was similar to early commenters. However, when I looked at the full statement, it was clear that it was a response on the part of a clearly frustrated author about misconceptions about his individual artistic production, rather than trying to distinguish his good diversity from the bad diversity of others. It’s interesting how much one small paragraph can change your interpretation of a statement.

  34. Rev Bob and rcade are complaining for the sake of complaining. If they wn a million dollars they would complan it wasnt $2 million. Some people just want to complain for the sake of it. Those two do that alot.

    As an infrequent Filer these days, I don’t know what old beef prompted this whiny personal attack that doesn’t even attempt to discuss the subject.

    If you want bad blood between us you need to be less forgettable.

  35. JJ, one correction: Real Genius isn’t set at an Ivy League university, but a thinly disguised Caltech.

  36. @ Robert Wood- same here. I guess thats why they say “Context matters” (Whoever they are) 🙂

  37. Last-minute Hugo ballot excitement! “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughan has eliminated “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller! Let’s cut now to excited commentary by Dawn’s cats!

    meow meow mrrrrpt*

    *translation: Tuna ‘s dinner is late. Why are you starving your cat?

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