Pixel Scroll 3/21/17 Pixels Are Not Looking Good For Mr. Scroll

(1) PICK YOUR OWN TALKING CATASTROPHE. After the SFWA Blog posted about Twine, the interactive game program, Camestros Felapton decided, “Because I had an important project at work to complete, I naturally ended up downloading Twine and playing with that instead of using my commute to work to get ahead with my deadlines. Here is a tourist guide to Timothy [the Talking Cat]’s home town.”

(2) CHOW TIME. “Binge on pork buns with Rosemary Clare Smith” in Episode 32 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast.

We discussed why she can’t seem to stop writing about dinosaurs, how her years as a lawyer helped her become a better writer, what caused an angry audience member to confront her after one of her readings, whether she’d be willing to risk Ray Bradbury’s butterfly effect by traveling back in time, if there are editorial differences between Analog editors Stanley Schmidt and Trevor Quachri, and much more.

 

Rosemary Claire Smith

(3) FELLOWSHIP. Sorry I wasn’t able to give advance warning on this – it airs Tuesday night — “D.C. Legends of Tomorrow features cameo by… J.R.R. Tolkien?”

On the upcoming episode of DC Legends of Tomorrow,  airing this Tuesday, March 21 at 9:00 p.m. EST on The CW channel, the team goes back to France during WWI and enlists the help of, yes,  J.R.R. Tolkien. The episode is titled “Fellowship of the Spear.”

From IMDB: “The Legends land in France during World War I and enlist the aid of J.R.R. Tolkien to retrieve the last pieces of the Spear of Destiny from the Legion of Doom.”

(4) INVENTED LANGUAGE. Atlas Obscura tells about the “Boontling Language of Booneville [California]”.

Anderson Valley, the logging region of California where Boontling got its start, was so isolated in those early years that the new language thrived, growing to 1,600 words. It never spread beyond the region. Part of the reason for this was a reluctance on the part of Boonville residents to share their language with visitors. What’s more, while the dialect is based on English, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Spanish, and Pomoan (a Native Californian language), many of the Boontling words were inspired by Boonville residents, and are therefore more personal for people in the area.

For instance, the word zeese, for coffee, came from Zachariah Clifton, or “Z.C.,” who brewed a particularly strong cup of joe. A pay phone is called Buckey Walter; buckey means nickel, and Walter was the first guy in the valley to have a phone. The name of the language is a combination of the Boontling word Boont, for Boonville, and ling, short for lingo.

One summer is the Sixties my father took my brother and me to a dude ranch. Booneville was the nearest town so we were in there a couple times. We didn’t know anything about Boontling, unfortunately, or we probably could have got a demonstration.

(5) GAIL SIMONE. The comics writer Gail Simone was invited on the JoCo 2017 geek cruise where she was asked to write the worst first page to a SF/F novel and deliver it to the crowd. Her part starts at 8:20.

(6) ELECTRONIC PRIVACY FOR TRAVELERS. For those heading to Helsinki for the Worldcon, or leaving the U.S. for anywhere, Cory Doctorow recommends reading the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s comprehensive guide to protecting your electronic data: “Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border: Protecting the Data On Your Devices and In The Cloud”. (There’s also a print-and-fold version).

The U.S. government reported a five-fold increase in the number of electronic media searches at the border in a single year, from 4,764 in 2015 to 23,877 in 2016.1 Every one of those searches was a potential privacy violation. Our lives are minutely documented on the phones and laptops we carry, and in the cloud. Our devices carry records of private conversations, family photos, medical documents, banking information, information about what websites we visit, and much more. Moreover, people in many professions, such as lawyers and journalists, have a heightened need to keep their electronic information confidential. How can travelers keep their digital data safe?

(7) WHERE ISN’T HE? Over the weekend a “’Where’s Waldo?’ fun run” brought in money for a good cause.

Thousands of runners donned iconic red and white-striped costumes in London for a “Where’s Waldo?” themed fun run.

The event Sunday in south London saw thousands of men, women, and children dress as the titular character from the children’s book series for a fun run that raised money for the National Literacy Trust.

(8) SQUARE PEG TIME. Declan Finn got a nip on the nose for trying to start Sad Puppies 5 himself but another website welcomed his “Superversive Dragon Award Suggestions” with open paws. Despite the welcome, he found it wasn’t easy to find the right category for all his friends’ books.

Obviously, certain of the books from the list fit no genre category. One of my novels from the list, Set to Kill, is a murder mystery that takes place in Atlanta, at a place called WyvernCon, in the middle of a political war about Tearful or Hydrophobic Puppies versus Puppy Punters from traditional Big Publishing. Obviously, this book has no similarities to real events. Heh.

However, while it is on the 2016 list, there is no murder mystery genre for the Dragons. Nor are there Westerns, so Brings the Lightning is out.  And while Chasing Freedom and The Big Sheep are both fun books with dystopic elements, they both came out too early last year in order to be eligible — and Chasing Freedom was already nominated for last year’s Dragons.  It’s the same for site favorite Ben Zyycky’s novel Beyond the Mist , which came out in January 2016.

(9) PLAGIARISM SUIT. Variety reports “Disney Accused of Stealing ‘Zootopia’ from ‘Total Recall’ Screenwriter”.

A veteran screenwriter filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing Disney of stealing his idea for the hit animated film “Zootopia.”

Gary Goldman alleges that Disney took character designs, themes, lines of dialogue, and even the name “Zootopia” from a project that he first developed in 2000. He alleges that he twice pitched the project to Disney executives, in 2000 and 2009, and was rejected. The lawsuit accuses Disney of a long history of stealing ideas from others, and contends that “Zootopia” is only the most recent example of an embedded corporate practice.

“Although The Walt Disney Company rigorously enforces its copyrights, it has developed a culture that not only accepts the unauthorized copying of others’ original material, but encourages it,” Goldman alleges. “Instead of lawfully acquiring Goldman’s work, Defendants said they were not interested in producing it and sent him on his way. Thereafter, consistent with their culture of unauthorized copying, Defendants copied Goldman’s work.”

(10) COLLAPSING DAY. At long last it’s the release day for John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire. He noted on Twitter that the trolls had promptly gone to work adding negative reviews to the book’s Amazon page.

Already on thin ice with Amazon, Vox Day interrupted his unwelcoming comments about the book in general to emphasize his policy about fake reviews.

UPDATE: My position on fake reviews is what it has always been: never write fake reviews, for good or for ill. If you have not read a book or played a game, then you should not even consider reviewing it. As a former nationally syndicated professional game reviewer, I do not approve of fake reviews no matter who the author or developer is. Unlike most published authors, I have always abided by Amazon guidelines and never review books or games on Amazon. The only place I write reviews are a) on this blog, and b) on Recommend.

He also made a point in a comment:

How do you explain downvotes on that review if that is not what you wanted when you linked it?

They have nothing to do with me or what I want. If I wanted downvotes, there would be at least 535 downvotes there within an hour. Since there are not, it should be clear that I have not issued any such order or expressed any such desire.

Amazon has been removing the fake one-star reviews throughout the day as they pop up (and people complain). Although it’s gone now, too, an even rarer snarky five-star review stuck around for several hours.

(11) THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE. Not all the grumpy people are on the right. On Whatever in Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire Is Here” post, he mentioned that Wil Wheaton voiced the audiobook and got back in comments —

“So you had your book narrated by a white man… Of course!”

(12) SUPERPREDICTABLE. Brian Niemeier marked the day by teeing off against Scalzi’s publisher, in “Tor Gets Desperate”, for having the Castalia House goon book The Corroding Empire taken down yesterday,.

This is what used to be called “parody” before the Left turned into control freaks with zero sense of humor. The only way you’d mistake one of those books for the other is if you couldn’t read. In which case, you’re probably not buying books in the first place.

(13) COVER CHARGE. Camestos Felapton worked over a different part of Niemeier’s post:

However, Brian is deeply impressed by Castalia House re-releasing their book with a new cover:

“While I was writing this post, Vox Day unveiled the new cover for CH’s censored book.

Let that sink in: they got a new cover done in less than a day.

The updated book should be back in the Kindle store tonight. This is why the small, fast mammals are taking down the dinosaurs.”

A generic spaceship against a background cover in LESS THAN A DAY! Gadzooks! Hmmm. I think I can do that in under an hour to Castalia House standards…

(14) MAGI STANDARD TIME. Hodinkee observes, “Balthazar, MB&F’s Latest Robot-Themed Clock, Has a Split Personality”.

Meet Balthazar. He’s a slightly terrifying robot-shaped clock that has a smiling face on one side and a grimacing skull on the other….

MB&F is calling Balthazar the big brother to Melchior, the robot clock it first launched at Baselworld 2015. The clocks have the same basic structure, each with discs for the time and the escapement in the dome on the robot’s head (unlike the smaller cousin clock, Sherman, which uses a more traditional display). If you know your New Testament, you’ll know that Melchior and Balthazar were two of the three magi to visit Jesus in the manger on the night of his birth – will we be seeing a Caspar clock sometime soon too? Personally, I’m hoping yes….

Balthazar is available with four different colors of armor – black, silver, blue, and green – each limited to 50 pieces. All colors will retail for 52,000 CHF (approximately $52,875 at time of publishing). For more, visit MB&F online.

 

(15) ASS-GRINDING HALT. Scarepop.com says “Stop the presses! Rob Lowe and his sons are making a paranormal series”.

Prolific actor, eighties teen heartthrob, Emmy-award winner and general national treasure Rob Lowe will star with his two sons, Matthew and John Owen, in an upcoming supernatural-themed A&E docuseries entitled The Lowe Files, in which the trio will travel around the country investigating unsolved legends and “eerie, age-old stories.”

As Rob Lowe himself (star of The Outsiders, St. Elmo’s Fire, and NBC’s The West Wing) tells us (via an A&E press release):

Since I was a kid I’ve loved unexplained legends, strange phenomena and the scary, supernatural stories told around campfires.

Okay. You can restart the presses now.

(16) COMIC R.I.P.S The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna has an appreciation of Bernie Wrightson as one of the greatest comic book artists to come from Baltimore…

Bernie Wrightson, who co-created the Swamp Thing, was one of his generation’s greatest masters of horror illustration and comics.

(17) QUITE A CATCH. It’s clickbait, but “Bookstore Earns Instagram Fame With Clever Snaps” only runs three pages and it’s amusing.

A bookstore in France is becoming a popular member of the Instagram community for all the right reasons. Not only does its account showcase products and events the store is offering, but also the creativity of its employees.

Librairie Mollat was the first independent bookstore to open in France in 1896. It is home to over 300,000 titles and has an inventory that spans every genre you can imagine. And while being one of the oldest bookstores in the country is a remarkable feat (especially when you consider the primarily digital world we now live in), it’s the clever Instagram posts that are getting this business noticed.

 

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, JJ, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Scott Edelman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matt Y.]

94 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/21/17 Pixels Are Not Looking Good For Mr. Scroll

  1. Declann Finn and Brian Niemeier both have web sites that I won’t read because I CAN’T read them! Dear lord of graphic arts, why do people who presumably are trying to market things they are trying to sell insist on designs that have teeny, gray fonts on black backgrounds???

    Is there some design document out there that makes the case that this is a good design choice?

  2. Vox is now complaining about a ‘rogue low-level SJW employee, possibly two, in a specific department’ in Amazon who he thinks must be stopping the retitled version of the not-a-Scazi-parody from appearing on Amazon.

    I hope its Jyn Erso and K-2SO.

  3. (12) “the Castalia House goon book The Corroding Empire”: I’ve never heard the term “goon book” before. Must be a new coinage, but I like it. (Reminds me of the Goons, occasional background characters in old Popeye comics and cartoons.)

    Hey! Pre-fifth again.

  4. (4) Invented Language

    So, my one one real linguistics class was many many years ago, but–if it only has 1,600 words, is it really a language? As opposed to a dialect? Or English with a heavy dose of slang and loan-words?

  5. is it really a language? As opposed to a dialect?

    I’ve heard it’s more of a dialect than a language, but there’s probably a better term used by actual linguists.

    (14) They aren’t named in the bible – they’re just “magi” or “wise men”. Everything else seems to be added traditions.

  6. @6: Doctorow is rather late; my wife (a now-retired professional organizer of home offices) bought a notebook many years ago specifically for travel purposes, so she could leave her laptopful of client information inside the US instead of worrying about idiots at Customs (although at that time the worry was as much that they’d claim she was importing the system).

    @14: utterly irrelevant observation: I remember when the Swiss franc was pegged at $0.23; now it’s $1.06. (It was already over $0.80 for ConFiction (1990), when I was delighted to see one of their notes had Euler on it because I’d just had to do a course including graph theory, which he invented.) Although I wouldn’t pay CHF52K for that gimcrack even at the old exchange rate; that’s a high price for cool.

    @17 is cute — nice of them to lead off with genre, although I wonder how hard it is for a customer to get help….

  7. O for a Muse of Twine, that would abet
    The swarming squirrels of involution…

    A really fun story, Camestros!

  8. (4) INVENTED LANGUAGE

    To the best of my knowledge, Bootling is not an invented language, properly speaking, but rather a jargon or cant–i.e., a set of substitute vocabulary that use the syntax and grammar of ordinary language. A technical distinction, to be sure, but one mustn’t let down the linguistic side by being sloppy.

  9. Been trying to master Mount Tsundoku. Last book was Station Eleven. Not really sure of what to think about this one. It had a haunting tone, a melancholy over a lost civilization, but it felt like something was missing. I was always waiting for something more. So not my top of the pops, but still something I will remember.

    New pet peeve: What is it with this religious fanatics and prophets that keeps on popping up in book after book? I think every third book I’ve read lately has at least one. Truthwitch, Fireman, Station Eleven, HEX…

    I think I will automatically subtract points for all new books that use this trope. Is becoming boring.

  10. Under US Copyright, Parody is a legally well defined defense as long as the work follows general guidelines for parody. There was a good article with legal references and practical advice published in the Journal of Marketing in the 1990s. This was too close to the original in appearance and the parody reference was in very small type at the bottom of the cover.

    A couple of current parodies are:
    Dog Wick (John Wick gets killed and his dog goes on a rampage)
    and
    Nerf John Wick
    both of which take a lot of stuff from the original movies, but are clearly parodies.

  11. @P.J. Evans: The Bible doesn’t even specify that there were three of them.

  12. 13) While Corwalrus does amuse, I think it’s more likely that VD, knowing that Amazon would yank his rip-off tract as soon as it hit the site simply put together a second cover, title and author ahead of time.

    This sort of baiting is essentially Castalia’s version of book press, chumming the waters for useful idiots who are now queueing up to buy the book to stick it to those evil lefties.

  13. 5) I went on the JoCo cruise this year for the first time. It was a lot of fun. 1700 nerds on a boat with a huge variety of activities. There were a lot of muscians, magicians, comics, writers. And lots of games. If you can afford it and have the time, I recommend it.

  14. This is what used to be called “parody” before the Left turned into control freaks with zero sense of humor.

    No, BORED OF THE RINGS is what used to be called parody. This is what used to be (and apparently still is) called a deliberate attempt at market confusion.

  15. 13) In my long ago youth as a freelance illustrator, I turned around a cover in 24 hours at least twice when another artist bailed–and I had to draw people on ’em! But if you’ve got the art ready and you aren’t tweaking the layout that much, that’s a lunch break project, not a sign of Epic Book Mastery. (ETA: If you’re changing the layout, of course, and have strong feels about kerning, that can be a week of hellish misery project, naturally.)

    14) There is some fabulous…for lack of a better term, historical Magi fanfic out there, though. (Fine, fine, apocrypha or whatever. It’s still fanfic.) They get all over the place. And I recall an interview with a translator who had found one where the star they follow keeps turning into a child made of light to talk to the Magi–and you could practically hear the poor man thinking “please don’t ask about aliens please don’t mention aliens my phone is ringing off the hook already I’m a legitimate scholar please don’t mention aliens….” He was trying SO HARD to describe it in a way that wouldn’t lead there. I felt for him.

  16. airboy on March 21, 2017 at 9:45 pm said:

    Under US Copyright, Parody is a legally well defined defense as long as the work follows general guidelines for parody. There was a good article with legal references and practical advice published in the Journal of Marketing in the 1990s. This was too close to the original in appearance and the parody reference was in very small type at the bottom of the cover.

    A couple of current parodies are:
    Dog Wick (John Wick gets killed and his dog goes on a rampage)

    🙂 Had to go and look up Dog Wick – genius

  17. (3) FELLOWSHIP. Darn, I missed it! That’s what I get for being perpetually behind the Scroll.

    (10) COLLAPSING DAY. It’s weird to read “but parody is legal!” upthread, as if Amazon were required to host all possibly-legal content. (shrug) They have their own rules on people trying to disrupt other people’s releases/sales, apparently.

    ETA: Apologies, @airboy – I misread you, maybe having something I’d read elsewhere (a couple of comments at his blog) in the back of my head.

    (17) QUITE A CATCH. Worth clicking through to; those were very well done, very cool looking!

    @David Goldfarb: WHAT?! I thought there were three, named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. 😉

  18. COLLAPSING DAY

    I’m probably showing my strategic naivety here, but wouldn’t antagonising the distributor that your publishing company is almost entirely dependent on be a not entirely smart move?

  19. rob_matic on March 22, 2017 at 12:39 am said:

    COLLAPSING DAY

    I’m probably showing my strategic naivety here, but wouldn’t antagonising the distributor that your publishing company is almost entirely dependent on be a not entirely smart move?

    Oh yes – hence Vox backpedalling some of his rhetoric. That’s why it’s all a nefarious plot by rogue SJWs* rather than Amazon itself.

    *[which means there not Ws but Rs surely?]

  20. Current reading:

    Just finished the second book in Linda Nagata’s The Red trilogy. This is very good milSF/cyberpunk and I tore through it rapidly.

  21. 10) et al: The thing I’m most interested in* is how many chapter 5s this entirely self-inflicted incident will take-up in Vox’s next SJW book…

    *It’s a really low bar.

  22. @Chip Hitchcock

    I remember when the Swiss franc was pegged at $0.23; now it’s $1.06.

    As a Swiss, I find it rather convenient that the Dollar, Euro, and Swiss Franc are all three at sort of parity right now (though our manufacturers are less happy—part of the reason the Franc is so strong is not economic strength, but people mistrusting other currencies buying Swiss Francs).

  23. (5) The only possible comment I can make is, “Oh, my.”

    (8) I wish I were more surprised at this inability to follow the established rules for an award, including but by no means limited to the tremendous challenge posed by the onerous task of correctly reading a calendar.

    (17) I like that bookface photo. Well done, LM!

    @Techgrrl1972: Of course it has to be dark and hard to read. How else will you know they’re Srs Peopl with Srs Thots? (More seriously, I’d lay odds the design is the result of some Word-based template creation process that sees nothing wrong with setting text sizes in absolute units rather than relative ones. That’s a fundamental problem with using print-design tools for web tasks.)

    @Brendan: Or, an even simpler explanation: he was vacillating between multiple designs and thus had a ready-made spare. I’ve pulled cover-design duty before, and I always had multiple options in mind. It’s hardly unheard-of for a client to veto the first design they see.

  24. Just finished: The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley. I’m not sure I’ve got a coherent opinion on it yet, but it’s a spectacular, icky, twisty, bravura story. I’m not quite convinced it all holds together, especially at the end, but reading it has been an experience.

    Next up might be Chalk by Paul Cornell, as the Scalzi is out in the UK a few days later than the US for no explicable reason.

    @rob_matic

    The good news is that book three holds up to the first two.

  25. Nancy Sauer, re 4)

    So, my one one real linguistics class was many many years ago, but–if it only has 1,600 words, is it really a language? As opposed to a dialect?

    There’s a saying in Scandinavian linguistics that “a language is a dialect with its own army and navy.” So Booneville would at a minimum have to secede before their lingo qualifies as a language.

    ***
    Brendan:

    13) While Corwalrus does amuse, I think it’s more likely that VD, knowing that Amazon would yank his rip-off tract as soon as it hit the site simply put together a second cover, title and author ahead of time.

    That’s VD’s own explanation, too – in the blog post where he first said the book was pulled but he’d have it up again soon with a new cover, he attributed the quick turnaround to him being “in the habit of anticipating enemy action”. Which makes Niemeier’s praise doubly ridiculous.

    ***
    (17) I also liked this one: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRuqWbXAroi/?taken-by=librairie_mollat

  26. Ah, Spring, the seasons when dogs, nay Pups, truly start to bay again.

    @Rob. Glad that you are enjoying Nagata’s series 🙂

  27. Having ploughed through the whole of Niemeier’s Nethereal last year, I don’t think he’s much easier to read in plain black on white.

  28. @rob_matic @mark Linda Nagata is an excellent writer; if you’ve not read her earlier Nanotech Chronicles books, I highly recommend them, along with the standalone Memory.

  29. Simon Bisson on March 22, 2017 at 4:54 am said:
    Linda Nagata is an excellent writer; if you’ve not read her earlier Nanotech Chronicles books, I highly recommend them, along with the standalone Memory.

    I haven’t, The Red trilogy is my first exposure to her. I’ll be certain to check out her earlier work as well.

  30. Declann Finn and Brian Niemeier both have web sites that I won’t read because I CAN’T read them! Dear lord of graphic arts, why do people who presumably are trying to market things they are trying to sell insist on designs that have teeny, gray fonts on black backgrounds?

    When I want to read a blog with a design my eyeballs can’t handle, I create a stylesheet in Stylish that makes it black text on a white background and makes the body text bigger.

    I uploaded one for Neimeier’s blog to UserStyles.org if you’d like to try it. There’s a screenshot and you can click the Show CSS link to see the styles I used.

  31. @Kendall: If you’re still interested in seeing it, CW puts up streaming versions of recent episodes on their Web site.

  32. Mr Day seems very precise on the number of downvotes he can command. (Is that the number he got in the Hugos at some point?)

  33. I think it’ll be the number of VFM he has, or an estimate of the dead elk or something.

    Also, any Brits wanting to throw a few quid Scalzi’s way, it looks like his End of All Things novellas are £0.99 each for now. Eta: on Amazon

  34. Didn’t VD assign numbers to the faceless minions at some point? Maybe that’s the number of ID cards and decoder rings that he’s issued. It presumes they’re all up and online during the hour he calls for action. Maybe the presumption is that they won’t otherwise be engaged in other activities when the Vox signal goes up.

  35. @Aaron – I assume he’s sub-contracted out his sock puppets to a Chinese/Indian operation – 535 sockpuppets is a lot for someone as allergic to actual work as VD is. One hour is their turn-around time.

    Hasn’t he been stuck on 535 gullible followers for several years? Sad! Not winning!

  36. @Hampus: religious fanatics are hardly a new trope; off the top of my head, see Wyndham’s The Chrysalids (1955, Re-Birth in the US), or Edmund Crispin’s The Cloud Walker (1973). I think it’s a long-standing trope because even fantasy (let alone science fiction) looks for some degree of rationality, where religion too easily becomes a matter of obeying doctrine — or worse, acting — without thinking. See, e.g., Frank Herbert’s take (look for “religion is the emulation”). This may have become more evident in SF recently because we’re faced with so many examples of how much trouble can be caused by a few whackos believing in a Higher Power.

    @Ita: JoCo does look interesting, but I’d have to dump a major fannish responsibility to do it. I’m also fascinated that they make it work; OGH and others of our vintage remember a bid to hold the 1988 Worldcon on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, which got a lot of attention but would probably have cratered spectacularly if it had won due to a shortage of fans with enough money to drop on such an expense. I guess Coulton’s followers are from a higher economic stratum. OTOOH, I find it amusing that the MC claims this is an original contest; hasn’t he ever heard of Bulwer-Lytton? (Yeah, I suppose you can say that’s not genre-restricted, and whatever F&SF did was too short, and Kirk Poland is about finishing rather than starting — but I think a little less braggadocio would be appropriate.)

  37. Chris S: 535 is the number of people in the U.S. Congress. Coincidence? I think not!

  38. Hasn’t he been stuck on 535 gullible followers for several years? Sad! Not winning!

    The really sad thing is that he thinks 535 is a lot.

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