Pixel Scroll 5/15/17 Scroll Sat Alone On His File Of Stone, And Pixeled And Godstalked A Bare Old Bone

(1) ADVANCED ALT-MARKETING. Jon Del Arroz is convinced you can sell more books if you fight with the right people. And the right people are on the left.

His business had a good day on Monday, as he garnered negative attention from Paul Weimer, and tangled on Twitter with SF Bluestocking’s Bridget McKinney.

Things got rolling after this Weimer tweet:

Jon took all that back to his blog and positioned himself as a staunch defender of Anne McCaffrey against a benighted feminist in “The Cult Of The New And Its Destruction Of Culture”.

…It started because I was talking to a Tordotcom reviewer. A Hugo Nominated Fanzine writer chimed in to tell me how irrelevant I am by referencing my last novel, how she looked up “Rescue Run” and found that there was “nothing in sci-fi that returned on a google search”.

I corrected, of course, stating not only is there my extremely highly regarded, award nominated and well-reviewed book, but that I chose the title intentionally as an homage to the late great Anne McCaffrey, who wrote a book by the same name. This work was demeaned by her first as “it’s only a short story” (It’s a novella, actually) and this person who is nominated for the Hugo Award for fanzine work, retorted to that by calling Anne Mccaffrey “old and irrelevant.”

… And of Hugos? This fanzine writer who writes self-described “feminist” commentary on science fiction is attacking the first woman ever to win the award! For shame! It boggles my mind to see this kind of lack of reverence for her.

When it comes to protecting the reputation of Anne McCaffrey, I didn’t know Jon had a dog in this fight. Now I know he’s got at least a puppy.

(2) HIGH ON KYLO. If you think the death of Han Solo might make people question having children at all, that’s because you haven’t met last year’s crop of new parents: “Turning to the Dark Side: Kylo is the fastest growing baby name in the US in honor of the latest Star Wars villain” — the Daily Mail has the story.

  • The name, inspired by Star Wars’ Kylo Ren, has jumped a massive 1,467 spaces
  • Popular culture also inspired parents to name their girls after popstar Kehlani
  • The most popular boys’ name is still Noah and it’s Emma for girls once again
  • Despite being in news every day, Donald and Hillary proved unpopular names

… The Social Security Administration released its annual list of the 1,000 most popular baby names for 2016 on Friday.

(3) ANOTHER CAPTAIN ON ANOTHER BRIDGE. This part is obvious – The Verge says “Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming TV series looks like a parody of classic space adventure shows” – but the idea that it takes inspiration from GalaxyQuest is hopeful.

(4) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Why do the Imperial Stormtroopers all appear to be left-handed?  It’s because their ammunition magazines on their weapons are on the left side, so it’s easier to hold the guns left-handed.

So is this Lego Storm Trooper inaccurately showing a right-hander?

(5) BONUS TRIVIAL TRIVIA

And while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, did you know….? (Via Scifihistory.net.)

(6) BOOTHE OBIT. Powers Boothe, who appeared in Deadwood and Sin City died May 15 at the age of 68. Boothe also played Gideon Malick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first in The Avengers (2012), then on TV in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 15, 1856 – L. Frank Baum

(8) HEADQUARTERS IN THE SADDLE. Gamer and comic owner lives the life as a jouster: “The boss who lives as a medieval knight”.

Given how Jason spends his weekends, you might imagine that his day job is equally daring, that he is some sort of professional stuntman.

Instead, he is the chief executive of one of the UK’s largest computer games companies – Rebellion Developments.

Jason set up the Oxford-based business with his younger brother Chris in 1992, and today it has an annual turnover of more than £25m.

Still wholly owned by the two siblings, its best-selling titles include Sniper Elite and Rogue Trooper.

For the past 17 years the company has also owned cult UK comic book series 2000 AD, and publishes a range of novels.

(9) CALLING DR. DYSON. Maybe there is a Ringworld? “The most mysterious star in the galaxy”.

The starlight dips in an irregular pattern, suggesting that something is intermittently blocking the star. This bizarre behaviour, first reported in autumn 2015 and not seen in any other star, has scientists baffled. Researchers have proposed a myriad of explanations, including black holes, comet swarms, and interstellar clouds. But a conclusive answer remains elusive. And one hypothesis in particular has raised eyebrows: aliens.

Yes, aliens.

Perhaps, researchers have posited, an advanced alien civilisation has constructed a vast structure encircling their star, maybe an enormous power plant that harnesses the star’s energy. When parts of the structure pass in front of the star, it creates dips in the starlight.

(10) I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY. A local Albuquerque TV station recently  devoted 1-minute video bio to — “George R.R. Martin Living and Loving New Mexico”.

(11) UNLUCKY STRIKE. The Chicxulub asteroid hit “the worst possible place”:

Scientists who drilled into the impact crater associated with the demise of the dinosaurs summarise their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary on Monday.

…It is becoming clear that the 15km-wide asteroid could not have hit a worse place on Earth.

The shallow sea covering the target site meant colossal volumes of sulphur (from the mineral gypsum) were injected into the atmosphere, extending the “global winter” period that followed the immediate firestorm.

Had the asteroid struck a different location, the outcome might have been very different.

“This is where we get to the great irony of the story – because in the end it wasn’t the size of the asteroid, the scale of blast, or even its global reach that made dinosaurs extinct – it was where the impact happened,” said Ben Garrod, who presents The Day The Dinosaurs Died with Alice Roberts.

(12) ORION DELAYED. And we’re getting farther from returning to the Moon — “NASA nixes Trump’s moonshot plan” reports The Register.

NASA will miss its deadline for the first flight of the Orion capsule and the Space Launch System, with the launch moved from 2018 to 2019.

The agency’s Bill Gerstenmaier also told media in a briefing last Friday that as well as delaying the first flight (designated Exploration Mission One, EM-1), the EM-2 mission that will carry astronauts will probably miss its original 2021 date.

In February, the new Trump administration asked NASA to assess the feasibility of changing the EM-1 mission, planned as an uncrewed jaunt into cislunar space between Earth and Luna, to instead carry human cargo around the moon.

NASA has concluded that it can’t justify the cost of such a change to the schedule.

(13) FLYING TOYOTA IN YOUR FUTURE? The car maker pushes in a big stack of chips: “Toyota ‘backs flying car project’ in Japan”.

Japanese carmaker Toyota has announced its backing for a group of engineers who are developing a flying car.

It will give 40 million yen (£274, 000) to the Cartivator group that operates outside Toyota city in central Japan.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota and its group companies have agreed in principle to support the project.

So far crowdfunding has paid for development of the so-called Skydrive car, which uses drone technology and has three wheels and four rotors.

(14) GIFTED CHILDREN. Here is the trailer for Fox’s series The Gifted, set in the X-Men universe. It will air this fall.

(15) INSTANT CLASSIC. Bill filed the numbers off an old earworm in this update to “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”

With apologies to Allan Sherman

Hello Scrolls and Hello Pixels
Many posts are just for ticks. You’ll
Find that some are entertaining.
But not those that end up being all mansplaining.

I follow daily the blog of Glyer.
And I’ve become a faithful Filer.
You remember Rabid Puppies?
Their campaign to win the Hugos got them bupkis.

Some folks come here to rant and foment
But I’d prefer a Meredith Moment
A nice movie for my Roku,
Or a book to put on top of Mount Tsudoku.

[bridge]
Let’s go scroll, we pixel filers
Let’s go scroll, my reading pile has
Climbed so high. It’s not so long til the
Ballots are due in Helsinki.

I see my comment is second fifth.
It’s regarding Bob Asprin’s Myth.
But it’s missing a URL link
So I shall leave and appertain myself a cold drink.

[Thanks to Lex Berman, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to  File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

166 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/15/17 Scroll Sat Alone On His File Of Stone, And Pixeled And Godstalked A Bare Old Bone

  1. @Chip: (The Monkees and The Door Into Summer)

    I believe I gleaned that particular nugget of info from the liner notes accompanying their Listen to the Band box set, but wherever I got it, I’m not alone in remembering the story. See also Andrew Hickey’s Monkee Music, page 74:

    Douglas and Martin seem to have taken elements of [Heinlein’s] basic idea and used them as a metaphor for a businessman giving up most of his life and constantly postponing doing what he wants to advance his career for no real reason.

  2. I’ve been following the recollections of the Menolly/Sebell/Robinton thing with interest because if I were relying entirely on my memories of reading the series (which are…what?…at least 30 years old?) I would have remembered that it was Menolly & Sebell with the firelizard-induced sex, but with Sebell protesting that he felt he was tresspassing on the Menolly-Robinton relationship which I could swear it was implied had had a sexual component.

    Between Menolly/Robinton and Crystal Singer and I swear there was at least one other musician-mentor romantic relationship, I was firmly convinced that McCaffrey either had an affair with a music teacher at some point or regretted that she hadn’t succeeded in having one.

  3. The lyrics of the Monkees’ version of “The Door into Summer” don’t seem to have much in common with the Heinlein novel.

    @Rob Thornton
    the Jefferson Starship album that was nominated for a Hugo (“Blows Against The Empire”) was very loosely based on Methuselah’s Children. From what I have read, the band actually asked Heinlein for permission to use the idea and he granted it (noting that they were the first to actually ask)

    Yes

  4. Sebell and Robinton had a personal mentorship relationship. The subtext may have been something I wanted to see at a more impressionable age (These days that sort of “we both love someone else but also love each other” vibe as the culmination of a monogamous relationship squicks me even without the mentorship/age issue, not least because real poly is healthier).

    I also may have been reading into it because a realy stupid variant of that actually did happen, and not as subtext, in a couple of other books I read at the time: the “Gay friend” is in love with the het male romantic lead, and attains happiness by setting up his female protagonist friend with his crush, living vicariously through her.

    (And never, in the books of the time, getting a boyfriend of his own. There’s a reason Vanyel was such a great new thing when Lackey wrote him — on the topic of prolific popular and in some ways groundbreaking writers who are also hella problematic NOW.).

  5. @Bill:

    It’s definitely not Dan’s arc, but I could make a decent case for it being similar to what Miles probably went through once Belle got what she wanted. Belle, too, for that matter.

  6. @Rob Thornton: that’s a bit of a stretch; as Ellison pointed out a few years later, a lot of people had been writing about generation ships. (“Methuselah’s Children” is an especially bad example, as it happens after the very knowledge of the ship has died where Jefferson Starship’s concept is set at the peak. OTOH, Kantner may have talked to RAH for prestige rather than connection.) And I see from @Bill that there was a general connection, possibly just in turns of phrase, rather than a specific (although I’m fascinated that RAH owned several albums from one of my favorite groups and was a fan of Grace Slick’s voice).

    @Rev. Bob: that’s even more of a stretch, but I suppose they could have taken the phrase without any of the meaning behind it — or pulled the phrase out of the ether and claimed a connection later.

  7. @Chip Hitchcock: It wasn’t the generation ship aspect so much as the stealing the ship aspect. Plus there’s a passage in the libretto which more or less quotes Heinlein. It’s got “make it march” in it. That might be the only direct quote. It’s definitely Heinleinesque.

  8. @ robinareid: Elizabeth Barrett writes stories in an alternate-Earth universe in which superpowers are… not common exactly, but occur frequently enough that their existence has had significant effects on society. She prefers the term “hera” (and “superhera”) and I’ve started using them myself.

    Also, somewhere I ran across a blog post from someone who, while reading The Hobbit to their daughter at bedtime, had said daughter INSIST that Bilbo was female — and just rolled with it, substituting female pronouns for references to Bilbo all the way thru. Their conclusion was that Bilbo’s gender didn’t make any difference to the story, which was still about someone Having Adventures.

    Interestingly, I put a link to the post into one of my other online communities, where ALL the discussion promptly centered around the piece of fem!Bilbo artwork used to illustrate it, and how terribly wrong it was, the character didn’t look like a hobbit at all, female Bilbo wouldn’t have worn that kind of clothing, etc. etc. etc. Not one person in the group, male or female, had anything to say about the article itself.

    @ Robert Adam Gilmour: AIUI, Mike posts about things which are likely to be of interest to at least a significant subset of science fiction fandom in general. It’s really hard to argue that superhero comics, TV, and movies do not fall into that category. Also, notice the list of “contributors” at the bottom of every Scroll post? Those are people who commented or e-mailed with a link to something that Mike decided to feature in the Scroll.

    Might I ask what it is that you’d prefer Mike be concentrating on instead? Bearing in mind that this is his blog, and he can bloody well post about anything he damn well pleases, of course.

    @ Chip: That’s what I’m thinking too, that the scene with Sebell and the mating flight (which I do remember clearly) is getting conflated with something else.

    @ Hampus: Ah. Over here, a kitten is usually considered ready for separation at 8 weeks. We got our Sunfall at closer to 6, because her mother was a rescue and Asshole Boyfriend was threatening to take the kittens to the Humane Society if they weren’t placed pronto. But I have no doubt that you’ll still get a good bond at 12 weeks.

  9. Re Pern: First off, I’d like to point out that for the intended audience at the time the early books were written, the “forcible seduction” trope was common and widely accepted. You saw it in bodice-rippers (and in fact it was one of the things which contributed to that term), you saw it in regular romances, you saw it (muted for the screen) in TV shows and movies. This was still pretty close to the beginning of the Sexual Revolution, and (as others have mentioned) it was a way of letting women fantasize about hot sex without residual guilt. I was reading the early Pern books in my 20s and didn’t see anything unusual or objectionable about them. That’s how much the culture has changed.

    Second, you’ll have a very hard time convincing me that Menolly ever had sex with Robinton. She did have a huge hero-worshiping crush on him that eventually mutated into a true deep affection, but I don’t think she was all that interested in men period until Sebell.

    Third, @ Camestros:
    “McCaffery, McCaffery, there’s no one named McCaffery.
    It’s really not that hard to spell — the R, it comes before the E…”

    Fourth, the Pern universe isn’t meant to be as lily-white as a lot of people seem to think it is. I have a copy of The People of Pern, an art-book collaboration between McCaffrey and Robin Wood, and there’s quite a bit of diversity in how the author saw her characters. I suspect a combination of cover-whitewashing and “the default character is white unless specified otherwise” on the part of readers, myself included.

    Fifth, ISTR that male greenriders were also sometimes described as suffering from their dragon’s proddiness. Apparently it was a well-known thing that a horny green made for a cranky rider. And I don’t recall that ever being said about a queen or a queenrider.

    Re other McCaffrey books: I never did really connect to The Ship Who Sang, but I really like some of the other B/B books, especially The Ship Who Searched and The City Who Fought.

    The Crystal Singer and Pegasus books have their flaws, but I don’t think they’re as problematic overall as some of Pern. And it should be noted that one of the Pegasus stories is the earliest one I’ve ever encountered which addressed even the possibility of polyamory; in “A Bridle for Pegasus”, it’s strongly implied that Amalda ends up with both of the men who have been fighting for control of her power, by her own choice.

    The Tower series doesn’t do a lot for me. In particular, Damia has a bit that kind of squicked me out even in the original short story — that line about “how could she have forgotten that a woman’s most important purpose in life begins with physical domination?” But the worst McCaffrey book IMO is Freedom’s Landing (and, ghod help me, I think it has sequels) — but that’s hardly surprising; the author flat-out said that the short story was originally written as an attempt to penetrate the soft-core porn market, and you can see how that affects the quality of the story as a story.

    I’ve also read a few of her non-SF romances, and all I’ll say about those is that they are very much of their time.

  10. Lee:

    “Interestingly, I put a link to the post into one of my other online communities, where ALL the discussion promptly centered around the piece of fem!Bilbo artwork used to illustrate it, and how terribly wrong it was, the character didn’t look like a hobbit at all, female Bilbo wouldn’t have worn that kind of clothing, etc. etc. etc.”

    Turns out that a google image search on “female Bilbo” gives just wonderfully cute pictures.

  11. @Lenora Rose: I’m curious, what’s problematical . . .

    ::Googles::
    ::reads that Lackey frequently has male & female main characters raped near the end::
    ::mind boggles::

    . . . oh. Er, never mind, then. (TBH I’d forgotten about Vanyel’s gang rape.) (Of course, I may be wrong about what you found problematical in Lackey’s books.) (Um, I still love the “Last Herald-Mage” trilogy, though.)

  12. @Rob Thornton: tvtropes isn’t answering at the moment; the Wikipedia article has an uncited non-quote, which is a bit weak for a major source.

    @Arkansawyer: those sound vaguely plausible, although Kantner conflating hippies with the immensely old is a stretch (perhaps not as much as Heinlein appreciating Kantner’s lines attacking the U.S., after RAH founded the Patrick Henry Society on seeing a lack of patriotism). Several sources (probably all quoting from the lyric sheet, which I don’t own) quote (in all-caps)

    PUSH THE BUTTON
    PULL THE SWITCH
    CUT THE BEAM
    C’MON MAKE IT MARCH

    which I suppose is Heinleinian. I wish there’d be more obvious credit for the Mark Clifton quote that starts that song; a less-well-known author, but snark more in line with the Airplane’s attitude rather than RAH’s all-you-bumblers-line-up-out-of-my-way.

    @Lee: Apparently it was a well-known thing that a horny green made for a cranky rider. And I don’t recall that ever being said about a queen or a queenrider. Perhaps that’s because a horny queen would be chased by every large male dragon in the vicinity, while a horny green might find a blue to ~satisfy or might get stuck sitting and stewing? Pardon me while I go scrub out of my mind the pictures that provides of useful ~tech that Pern could have developed but McCaffrey never mentioned.

  13. Re: Pernese dragons

    I still remember trying to come up with a plausible genetic basis for the phenotypes and mating outcomes of the various dragon colors. (That is, if it had a genetic basis as opposed to an epigenetic one, what would it look like?) I figured it had to be some sort of additive polyploidy, given the observation that green dragons could produce fertile eggs but IIRC the result would be only greens and blues. But there had to be some sort of metabolic conditioning on the part of the mother because there are various comments about how physical condition affects clutch size and the proportion of high-status offspring. I never did come up with a system that aligned with the in-story facts, but it was fun to try.

  14. @Chip Hancock

    Thank you very much for pushing me on this point about Kantner and Methuselah’s Children. There’s a lot of sources making this assertion without pointing back to a true original source.

  15. It’s certainly something he \could/ have said — in some interview that, like many publications from then, is not online. Or he could have discursively mentioned a lot of things (any bets how much of the time he was completely clearheaded while working on this album?) and these two got conflated, or put together more firmly in memory than they were in actually speech. We are rationalizing animals, after all; Chekhov’s Gun apparently shows up in several forms in his letters, but the Chesterton epigram in front of Coraline is condensed from several bits, while Dirksen’s Observation was outright denied by its attributee.

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