Pixel Scroll 4/30/17 Scroll Like No One Is Filing You

(1) IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? What did Ray Bradbury think would happen when he left his personal books to the Waukegan Library?

When I covered the legacy in 2013, Bradbury’s daughters had approved trading some of the books to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies to get other books for the library’s collection. That was before plans for a Bradbury statue got off the ground. The latest on that front is told by The Verge in “Ray Bradbury’s hometown is crowdfunding a statue in his honor”:

The committee is looking to raise $125,000 to fund the project, and launched its campaign earlier this month. Donors who give more than $150 will be given a book from Bradbury’s library. Thus far, the committee has raised around $13,000, with another $20,000 promised. Richard Lee, the Library’s executive director and chair of the statue committee, told The Chicago Tribune that he hoped that the statue will remind area children of the famous author, and that it might inspire them to become writers themselves.

The link for donations is here.

Gifts of any amount will make this project reality. Donors supporting the project at $500 and above will be recognized permanently near the statue on the grounds of Waukegan Public Library….

Gifts of $150 and higher will be acknowledged with a book from Ray Bradbury’s personal library, which was left to Waukegan Public Library after Bradbury’s death in 2012.

(2) COSPLAY MELEE WINNER. Jacqueline Goehner won Season 1 of Syfy’s Cosplay Melee. See her interview here.

(3) CHARON DUNN HAS LAUNCHED AGAIN. And this time she’s following Camestros Felapton’s marketing advice: “I had my cat interview me this time, but he’s not nearly as articulate as Timothy. So much for idea stealing.”

“An Interview with Charon Dunn, author of Retrograde Horizon, by T.B. Kahuna”

I interviewed myself to promote the last book I launched, and it worked! People actually bought copies! I was feeling all self-congratulatory about my self-inflicted promotional ability, when I reflected that everything on the internet is better with a cat in it. Maybe I could get my own cat to interview me to promote my current book!  So I woke T.B. Kahuna from his nap, and bribed him with some catnip and a bilateral ear massage.

Me: Kahuna, I really appreciate your being able to fit this interview into your busy schedule.

T.B. Kahuna: I have food in the square kitty dish but not the round one! Please move it to the round one right now. It’s kind of an emergency.

Me: Sure, but before I do that, I just wanted to talk about my most recent book, Retrograde Horizon….

T.B. Kahuna: Oh no, my catnip-filled squirrel got stuck behind the couch again.

It’s interesting that you should bring up politics. I did a little rewriting after the U.S. presidential election, since one of my villains is a politician – I toned down the violence and opinion-slinging, and I made my bad guy more generic. My stories take place far in the future, long after the corpses of current politicians have decayed into dust and the social problems we’re fighting about have been solved for the most part, leaving room for a whole bunch of new ones (for instance: if we create sentient life, do we have to consider it a sovereign nation?). My goal is escapism for people taking a breather from politics, not to browbeat people about the world they’re trying to escape. [Retrieves squirrel.]…

(4) WELCOME TO THE CLUB. Well said.

(5) DOING JUSTICE. Is the studio doing enough to promote Wonder Woman? Here’s an uptick in marketing from the past couple of days. “Wonder Woman: Diana, Steve Trevor & Etta Candy Arrive in New Photos”

Warner Bros. has released a handful of new images for the “Wonder Woman,” featuring Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer and Lucy Davis as Etta candy.

The photos arrive amid criticisms that the studio isn’t promoting director Patty Jenkins’ film as heavily as it did last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” However, it was revealed late last week that advertising spending for “Wonder Woman” is outpacing that for “Suicide Squad” at the same point in pre-release

Also:

(6) HOW PLASTIC WAS MY VALLEY. Silicon Valley deconstructed by In the Circle, on NPR: “In ‘The Circle’, What We Give Up When We Share Ourselves”.

The Circle, the film based on the novel by Dave Eggers, presents a dystopian view of the direction Silicon Valley is taking the world. And, as a longtime Silicon Valley correspondent, I have to say there is a lot that this comic and spooky film gets right.

Let’s start with the main character, Mae, a recent college grad played by Emma Watson. Mae is eager, idealistic and versed in the kind of marketing verbiage that rolls off the tongues of way too many young people in Silicon Valley. When she goes for a job interview at the Circle — the world’s biggest tech company — she impresses her interviewer with a comically perfect description of the company’s main service.

Sounding like a commercial voice-over, she says: “Before TrueYou, it was like you needed a different vehicle for every single one of your errands. And no one should have to own 87 different cars. It doesn’t make sense. It’s the chaos of the Web made elegant and simple.”

(7) THE ROADS MUST BURROW. More SF from Elon Musk: underground highways to reduce traffic jams: “Ted 2017: Elon Musk’s vision for underground road system”.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Ted curator Chris Anderson, the founder of Tesla and Space X said that he was inspired to consider a tunnel system to alleviate congestion because he found being stuck in traffic “soul-destroying”.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “The Big Dig may have been exceptionally expensive, but I don’t see this happening for under a billion dollars a mile.”

(8) FEELS MUGGY. There is a fantasy design, and several of the other designs also include one or two sff writers.

This sturdy 11 ounce (i.e., normal size) white ceramic mug is both microwave and dishwasher safe. There are books all the way around it, so it works beautifully for both coffee and tea drinkers, and for both righties and lefties.

This set is of 20 of the most beloved fantasy books of all time, including Game of Thrones, The Fellowship of the Ring, Stardust, and The Last Unicorn.

You know I’ll never hear the end of it unless I show you the one with a Bradbury reference. (It’s the third book from the right.)

(9) PINNING AWAY FOR THE FJORDS. The same outfit sells book pins like these. Use your psychic powers to figure out which one John King Tarpinian now owns.

(10) ZAHN’S STAR WARS NOVELS. THRAWN by Timothy Zahn, was published by Del Rey on April 11.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond.

But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

Other Thrawn novels:

Thrawn Trilogy:

  • Heir to the Empire
  • Dark Force Rising
  • The Last Command

Hand of Thrawn:

  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future

Star Wars Legends:

  • Outbound Flight
  • Choices of One

Carl Slaughter notes, “I have not been able to find material in Wikipedia, Amazon, or Good Reads about the previous Thrawn novels that provides insight into the development of the Thrawn character and his place in the Star Wars Universe.  I would appreciate anyone linking to or writing such material. “

(11) PAINFUL BUT GREAT. Review of The Handmaid’s Tale TV show by Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica. “The Handmaid’s Tale is the most horrific thing I have ever seen”

What’s really stunning about The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t its evocation of a dark political future, however. It’s the way we’re drawn into the personal perspective of June, a book editor who paid very little attention to politics until one day her credit card stopped working. Because she’s fertile, June is sent to a reeducation camp for handmaids. Eventually she’s renamed “Offred” when she becomes the property of a man named Fred and his supposedly infertile wife. Other women aren’t so lucky. The infertile are sent to die cleaning up toxic waste in the colonies. Lesbian “gender traitors” are hanged in public places, where their bodies are left on display for days.

(12) A HANDMAID’S TRAILER. You might be curious to compare the trailer for the 1990 adaptation of A Handmaid’s Tale with the current one.

(13) ONE ADAM-12. Grammar brawl in progress. Proceed Code Three.

(14) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. C. and Matt make a promising beginning as two snooty critics in “The 2017 Hugo Awards shortlist: a conversation between two SFF fans” just before completely embarrassing themselves:

C. …So when I say I looked at this year’s list with a sigh, I’m being pretty literal. I’m quite resigned to the fact that the Hugo isn’t the best award for my tastes.

Matt …So over the last last three years I have tried to get involved.  The Hugos are not perfect they have been prone to white US male for a long time but it’s changing.  This year I think we have an almost puppy free list and that finally allows a debate on the quality of the books!

Be that as it may – they decided to go ahead with their debate although each admits not having read half the nominees for Best Novel. Here’s a scorecard —

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

  • C: (Quit at page 150)
  • M: (Finished book)

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers

  • C : (Refused to read – didn’t like first book)
  • M. (Read)

Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

  • C: (Read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

  • C. (Read)
  • M. (Read)

The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin

  • C. (Read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

  • C. (Hasn’t read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Yet they confidently offer this opinion about the award –

So, let’s face it: both of some of the most popular novels on the list aren’t novels that, to me, bring something new to the genre. They are certainly crowd pleasers but I really wonder at their future legacy.

How the hell would they know? And then they go on to cover themselves with even more glory, discussing what they haven’t read in the rest of the award categories.

(15) FIVE MISCONCEPTIONS. Vintage Geek Culture seeks to convince readers there are places where the narrative and factual history part company: “Top Misconceptions People Have about Pulp-Era Science Fiction“. There are five, which, as we know, is the magic number.

“Racism was endemic to the pulps.”

It is absolutely true that the pulps reflected the unconscious views of society as a whole at the time, but as typical of history, the reality was usually much more complex than our mental image of the era. For instance, overt racism was usually shown as villainous: in most exploration magazines like Adventure, you can typically play “spot the evil asshole we’re not supposed to like” by seeing who calls the people of India “dirty monkeys” (as in Harold Lamb).

Street & Smith, the largest of all of the pulp publishers, had a standing rule in the 1920s-1930s to never to use villains who were ethnic minorities because of the fear of spreading race hate by negative portrayals. In fact, in one known case, the villain of Resurrection Day was going to be a Japanese General, but the publisher demanded a revision and he was changed to an American criminal. Try to imagine if a modern-day TV network made a rule that minority groups were not to be depicted as gang bangers or drug dealers, for fear that this would create prejudice when people interact with minority groups in everyday life, and you can see how revolutionary this policy was. It’s a mistake to call this era very enlightened, but it’s also a mistake to say everyone born before 1970 was evil.

(16) SPACE AT ANY SPEED. CBS Sunday Morning’s  “Book excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry'” inspires me to paraphrase Emily Dickinson’s line about death – “I could not slow for astrophysics, so astrophysics kindly slowed for me…”

Time is relative, but some of us still don’t have enough of it to fully take in the most salient aspects of such topics as dark matter, exoplanets, the Big Bang, and why so many objects in outer space are spherical.

Fortunately, we have Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose latest book, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” (published Tuesday from WW Norton), offers a shortcut to scientific literacy, with entertaining, bite-sized chapters that explore cosmic questions.

Read the excerpts below. And make time for Martha Teichner’s interview with Tyson on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” April 30!

Excerpt from the chapter entitled “Dark Energy”

So what is the stuff? Nobody knows. The closest anybody has come is to presume dark energy is a quantum effect — where the vacuum of space, instead of being empty, actually seethes with particles and their antimatter counterparts.

They pop in and out of existence in pairs, and don’t last long enough to be measured. Their transient existence is captured in their moniker: virtual particles. The remarkable legacy of quantum mechanics — the physics of the small — demands that we give this idea serious attention. Each pair of virtual particles exerts a little bit of outward pressure as it ever so briefly elbows its way into space.

Unfortunately, when you estimate the amount of repulsive “vacuum pressure” that arises from the abbreviated lives of virtual particles, the result is more than 10120 times bigger than the experimentally determined value of the cosmological constant. This is a stupidly large factor — a consequence of what may be the most embarrassing calculation ever made, leading to the biggest mismatch between theory and observation in the history of science.

(18) SHARPEN UP THOSE SKILLS. CinemaBlend says “Machete Kills Again In Space Is Actually Happening”.

If you saw Machete Kills in theaters, then you probably also saw that hilariously ridiculous trailer for something called Machete Kills Again…in Space. At the time, we thought that was all we were going to get of the supposed third installment of the Danny Trejo-led franchise, but the man himself has confirmed that this is in fact in the works. Yes, we will be seeing Machete going berserk…in space! Trejo told Halloween Daily News that he and Robert Rodriguez, his Machete director, will be filming Machete Kills in Space. (Apparently they thought the “Again…” part was unnecessary.) We won’t even have to wait too long for it, as he also said that they will be “working on it this year.” If Trejo can’t land a part in Star Wars: Episode 7, 8 and/or 9, he’ll at the very least be able to brandish a lightsaber machete.

This is the 2014 teaser —

[Thanks to JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

168 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/30/17 Scroll Like No One Is Filing You

  1. So airboy just changed his name here?

    F&SF is currently the best of the Big 3, IMO, so I really wanted Finlay in there. I can’t think of any stories I’ve read from there since he’s edited that I hated, and few I disliked or even felt meh about. But many that I loved.

    I think “Thessaly” didn’t make it b/c people consider a series to be more books than a trilogy. Note that the finalists have from 5 to N novels in them. Trilogies are so bog-standard nowadays that people don’t think of them as series.

    I’d SO love to swap “Death’s End” for “Lovecraft Country”. Grmph.

  2. Me, either. People stated their case against him. He showed his cards. Then it turned out he wasn’t bluffing. I’m happy to leave it at that, even though there was one point I found particularly amusing. I’m still thinking about whether it was really ironic or Alanis Morisette ironic*, but it definitely had a high ferrous content.

    *Some days, I actually prefer her flavor. That record is a killer!

  3. @Cora: “Habermas is a chore to read even in the original German.”

    That’s what I’ve gathered!

    I did find it helped to plunge straight into him and ignore the explanatory prefaces and introductions. He does a better job of explaining himself than they do. I think. I’m still struggling with him. There’s definite value there. But I’ve had one person I know to be sharp with a relevant PhD tell me he goes to a summary when he needs a refresher.

    it’s tempting to just go there myself, but I’ve always liked reading the originals. Like Dylan says, “Gotta get up near the teacher, if you can, if you want to learn anything.”

  4. I’d SO love to swap “Death’s End” for “Lovecraft Country”. Grmph.

    I’d be interested in seeing where Lovecraft Country ended up in the long list of nominations. OTOH, there are 2 Lovecraft-influenced novellas.

    The Just City was one of my nominees last year, but I thought the series fell down with Necessity. Then again I had the same problem with Walton’s Farthing series: the first two books were pretty good, the last was meh.

    I think an award for series is too poorly defined: I don’t think a series is finished until the author is incapable of writing any more of it (and death doesn’t always stop them). I’d rather see it defined as Best Trilogy, since there’s [usually] end endpoint.

  5. @Camestros

    I had very brief hopes of a new leaf being turned, but no: new name, same shtick.

    @Lurkertype

    I’d have liked to see Lovecraft Country as well, but I have to say I didn’t really see it discussed outside of here so I don’t think it really caught on.

    The explanation that Thessaly is simply shorter than other finalist series is a bit obvious now that I think about it! It’s quite possible that most people were thinking in terms of longer-running works.

  6. Concerning Datlow and Hugo nominations vs. the straw poll:

    I’ve noticed that several of her earlier anthologies have gone on sale in the past few months. That may have increased her profile by that critical bit.

  7. @Andrew M: Thanks for the run-down comparing the Filer straw poll and the Hugo finalists! “Deadpool” was great and I suspect it’d’ve made it without the Puppy Push, but I base this only on my nominating it, not on useful facts. 😉

    @Andrew M & @lurkertype: Walton is fairly popular, but partially for her Tor.com fan writing (fanzine or not, I consider what she does there to be fan writing). (shrug). FWIW (not a thing), I had no interest in the “Thessaly” series.

    @lurkertype: “So airboy just changed his name here?” Yes, which is why he’s still blacked-out-with-mouse-over-visibility-on-demand for me (my custom version of the filter CSS).

    @John A Arkansawyer: I can’t tell if you’re being ironic (any flavour) or not! 😉 In case you’re even mildly serious, IMHO “So-Called Chaos” is better than “Jagged Little Pill.” 😛

  8. Kendall: Walton is fairly popular, but partially for her Tor.com fan writing (fanzine or not, I consider what she does there to be fan writing). (shrug). FWIW (not a thing), I had no interest in the “Thessaly” series.

    I really enjoy and appreciate Walton’s genre commentary and critiques, but I was disappointed in the ending of Among Others and massively disappointed with My Real Children, and combined with the fact that the synopsis didn’t appeal, I don’t know if I’ll be willing to prioritize The Just City over anything on Mount Tsundoku, ever. (And this is coming from someone who had 4 semesters of Greek and Roman Myths and Literature at university as chosen electives.)

  9. Kendall and JJ: Right, but the question isn’t ‘Why didn’t people nominate Thessaly?’; it’s ‘Why did lots of people at File 770 nominate Thessaly, but apparently no one else?’. Whatever reasons there are for not nominating it would seem as powerful here as elsewhere.

    I think bookworm may be on to something – my first thought was ‘If trilogies aren’t doing well in the wider world, why would they do well here?’, but there may be an answer to that, in that a longer series has an established following, a set of fans of the series (not just of the author), as a trilogy typically doesn’t. So each long series would bring in a set of voters of its own, giving it an advantage trilogies don’t have, though they may appeal more to those who are surveying the field.

    Lin McAllister: On the one hand I’d agree it would make more sense to have an award for series that come to an end (though saying it has to be trilogies may be a bit too restrictive: Terra Ignota is going to be a tetralogy, and it would be a bit odd to exclude that). That would actually supply a need; as we have awards for short stories and an award for book-length stories, it would be good to have an award for more-than-book-length stories. On the other hand, I don’t think it would satisfy the demand that led to this award; trilogies do pretty well in the Hugos anyway, and it’s the infinite kind of series which people think are unfairly excluded.

  10. Kendall: There’s no question, of course, that all the DPLF finalists got there largely by their own merits – the lowest vote for a finalist is 240, which is way above the highest possible estimate for the slate. But suppose Deadpool got 200 organic votes and, say, Zootopia got 205, and the distributions were such that EPH didn’t change their positions, then the slate could easily have been what settled the matter.

  11. I don’t know whether it’s Finlay, his combination with van Gelder (previous editor), the market, or some combination, but I’ve been very disappointed with F&SF recently — starting with the issue Finlay guest-edited — so much so that I’ve ignored all their messages asking me to renew. (I mention vanG because magazines at least used to have an inventory of stories waiting for perfect slots; vanG wouldn’t answer when I asked him directly about how long it took to clear his predecessor’s purchases, but I’ve heard multiple years from older editors.) I should retry again in a year or two, as I had a sub for over 20 years.

    I was very disappointed by the last book of Thessaly; my SWAG is that it was not as well-received even in Making Light (another area where Walton is appreciated) as it was here. (The opinion is specific to this work; contrary to commenters above, I was satisfied with the standalone novels and thought that Half a Crown stuck the landing, requiring only one bit of luck added to the grit of characters whose strengths we’d (mostly) already seen.) Wrapping up with (IMO) too many di ex machinae (literally in one case) may have hurt broader support for Thessaly.

  12. @Kendall: “I can’t tell if you’re being ironic (any flavour) or not! ? In case you’re even mildly serious, IMHO “So-Called Chaos” is better than “Jagged Little Pill.” ?”

    I am always serious because I am never serious. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. In any event, I’ll be on the lookout for “So-Called Chaos”. I didn’t really get “Jagged Little Pill” at the time–I had Liz Phair and PJ Harvey in my mind, who scratch that itch a little better for me–but on looking back, that was a Great Record.

    So even if it’s just half as good, it’ll still be above average in my collection. Thanks for the tip!

  13. @Andrew M: We’re not as representative as we like to think. There are some quirky tastes here that are unknown or not as popular in the wider Worldcon SFF audience. (Also, not everyone here joins Worldcon and votes.) I take my comment and @JJ’s as reasons why folks outside of File 770 may not have nominated the series.

    True re. the slate nudging a neck-and-neck (relatively speaking, of course) DPLF potential finalist past another. I over-interpreted your comment, sorry.

    @Chip Hitchcock: A disappointing conclusion could definitely and strongly hurt the odds a series gets nominated.

    I really need to read Walton’s “Small Change” series; this is probably the set of books by her that most interests me, not that I’m a super-alt-history fan, though.

    @John A Arkansawyer: Cool! ::nervous when someone may take my rec::

  14. @Kendall: It’s good, but it didn’t grab my ears like “Jagged Little Pill” did. I loved the sound of that record so much. What did I miss? I’ll give it another shot today or tomorrow. After all, I missed “Jagged Little Pill” for a long time, right? So I’ll take at least one more pass at this one.

  15. Kendall:

    We’re not as representative as we like to think. There are some quirky tastes here that are unknown or not as popular in the wider Worldcon SFF audience.

    Well, I think these figures show that by and large we are quite representative; not, of course, by mirroring the wider community in detail, but by being a sufficiently broad selection that things which command convergence here are likely to command convergence more widely. (They also suggest that the things which are doing well are mostly doing so by commanding convergence, rather than just by having a lot of fans – which I think is a good thing.) This is the only really big divergence in that direction – there are a few in the other direction, but I think they are easier to explain. Even in this category, where convergence is less likely than many of the others, we managed to pick most of the right results. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if we were out of step with the majority all the time (I’m sure many communities are); that we should suddenly get out of step in just one case is odder.

  16. @John A Arkansawyer: Different strokes for different folks, and all that. I usually takes me a couple of listens to decide what I think of an album overall. I buy a lot of individual tracks these days (as one does), though. Anyway, rock on. 😉

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