Pixel Scroll 5/22/17 Little Pixels Made Of Ticky Tacky All In A Row

(1) HOW POWERFUL IS SF? When their joint book tour brought them to San Francisco, Goodreads members had a chance to quiz this dynamic duo: “The Authors@Goodreads Interview with John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow”.

GR: Goodreads member Lissa says, “When I read the description of Walkaway, I was wondering ‘Will he have written the book we need to wake us up and get us to pay attention, or the book we need to prepare us for what he thinks might be coming?'”

DOCTOROW: I think…we overestimate the likelihood of things we can vividly imagine and spend a lot of time worrying about our kids getting snatched by strangers and not nearly enough time worried about them getting killed by food poisoning or car accidents. We have this giant war on terror but no war on listeria despite the fact that inadequate refrigeration kills a lot more Americans than terrorism does. It has to do with how vividly we can imagine those things…..

GR: Are the worlds you create the kind of worlds you want to live in?

SCALZI: No! I write terrible universes where horrible things are happening, I like where ‘m living now. Some years are better than others, but altogether ‘m OK with who I am and where I am in the world.

(2) NEED IT RIGHT AWAY. What’s the next thing collectors absolutely must have? Could it be — “Pint Size Heroes”! (They remind me a lot of the Pet Shop pets my daughter used to love, except completely different, of course.)

This series features characters from some of your favorite science fiction movies and television! Including Martian from Mars Attacks, Neo from The Matrix, Leeloo from The Fifth Element, Predator and many more! Collect them all this Summer!

(3) TIME ENOUGH FOR CHEESECAKE LOVE. Here’s what Neil Gaiman will do for half a million dollars — that isn’t even for him. Let Yahoo! News set the scene:

The Cheesecake Factory‘s menu is the In Search of Lost Time of the restaurant industry, in that it is far too long and probably includes a madeleine or two.

Neil Gaiman is a very famous author (American Gods, Stardust, Coraline) with a notably soothing British accent, who has nothing to do with the Cheesecake Factory but has been dared to read its convoluted bill of fare anyway.

How’d this happen?

It all began with writer/comedian Sara Benincasa, a self-professed cheesecake addict…

She has secured Gaiman’s agreement and has launched a fundraiser at Crowdwise. — “Neil Gaiman Will Do A Reading Of The Cheesecake Factory Menu If We Raise $500K For Refugees”.

Will the appeal be strong enough for the fund to meet its goal? Only $2,321 has been pledged as of this afternoon.

(4) IT NEEDED SAVING? In the opinion of the Chicago Tribune “Novelist Timothy Zahn is the man who saved ‘Star Wars,’ according to fans”. There’s no doubt they’ve been good for each other.

Timothy Zahn, who is 65 and bald and carries an ever-so-slight air of social anxiety, is nobody’s image of a superstar. And yet as he sat behind table No. 26 and waited for fans, he did not wait long. The doors to the convention hall at McCormick Place opened at 10 a.m., and by 10:10 a.m. the line of people to meet Zahn was the second-longest at C2E2, the massive Chicago comic book convention held each spring. Only Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and the Hulk, could boast longer lines. This was a few weeks ago, just as “Thrawn,” Zahn’s latest “Star Wars” novel, was debuting at No. 2 on The New York Times’ best-seller list.

(5) GO RIGHT TO THE SOURCE. Tyrannosaurus rex is still nature’s most-feared predator: “Woman In T-Rex Costume Charged With Scaring Horses”.

Growling at carriage horses while wearing a full-body Tyrannosaurus Rex suit is illegal, a South Carolina woman has learned.

As two horses pulled a carriage of tourists through Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday evening, the horses came face to face with an unfamiliar animal: a six-foot, orange dinosaur. The extinct beast, however, was actually a person in an inflatable T-Rex suit. And when the person allegedly growled at the carriage, the horses became startled, backing the carriage into a parked car, unseating the carriage driver, and running over his leg.

Though multiple onlookers captured photos and video of the incident, the agitator’s face was concealed inside the dinosaur suit, leaving police without a suspect until 26-year-old Nicole Wells turned herself into police Friday night. She was charged with disorderly conduct and wearing a mask or disguise.

Wearing a mask is illegal in South Carolina, and Charleston has particularly strict anti-mask ordinances. City residents over the age of 16 are prohibited from wearing masks in public places, even on Halloween. And after Wells allegedly spooked the carriage horses, locals placed a bounty on her T-Rex head.

(6) THIS WON’T BE DIRT CHEAP. A sack of gold dust wouldn’t bring as much as this NASA artifact is predicted to fetch at auction.

A small white pouch marked “Lunar Sample Return,” which Nancy Lee Carlson bought two years ago for $995, is expected to fetch as much as $4 million at an upcoming Sotheby’s auction. That’s because it’s sprinkled with moon dust.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong filled the bag with rocks from the lunar Sea of Tranquility during his historic trip to the moon on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. He turned the bag over to a Houston lab, which emptied it of the rocks and then lost track of it. It eventually turned up on a U.S. Marshals auction website.

Enter Carlson, a Chicago-area attorney. She bought the pouch — along with some other items, in a kind of space-memento grab bag — for $995 and sent it off to NASA for testing. NASA claimed the bag belonged to the agency, and wouldn’t return it until after a long court battle. You’d think Carlson was asking for the moon.

The bag is expected to go for such a sky-high price because NASA doesn’t allow anyone to own any bit of the moon –except for the bag.

Sotheby’s senior specialist Cassandra Hatton called the auction of the “modest bag” her “Mona Lisa moment.”

(7) TAKE THE TEST. The Guardian will let you audition: “Ignore or delete: could you be a Facebook moderator?” Looks like I won’t be working for FB anytime soon — I only matched their decision 9 out of 16 times.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

History of Goth Day

The history of Goth Day stretches back in odd and meandering paths to history. Musically it can be traced back to 1967 when someone referred to the music of the Doors as “Gothic Rock.” This term was soon being bandied about, used to describe music like Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, and Siouxsie and the Banshee’s described as one of “Goth Rocks Architects”.

But why “Gothic”? It’s an odd term considering that it originally referred to the Visigoths whose claim to fame was sacking Rome. So how did Goths become Goths? Well, we can trace the term back a bit further to 1764, where Horace Walpole wrote a story called “The Castle of Otranto”, granted the subtitled “A Gothic Story” during its second printing. So what is Gothic in this context? It describes a “pleasing sort of horror”, and was seen to be a natural extension of Romantic literature. This, of course, implies a sort of romance with the darker side of life, something that can be said to describe the little blossoms of gloom described at the beginning.

Goth Day celebrates all these souls, and the part of them that celebrates the darkness within us all through music, art, and media.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 22, 1859 — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

(10) HIGH FRONTIER CULTURE. The Washington Post’s Sarah L. Kaufman describes the Washington Ballet’s forthcoming, space-themed production — “For a Washington Ballet premiere: Dancers, spacesuits and Velcro. Lots of Velcro. “.

“Frontier” will have its world premiere May 25, with performances continuing through May 27 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. It tells the story of a group of ASCANS –the NASA acronym for astronaut candidates –and flight technicians preparing for a mission, and the stage effects include a rocket launch and travel to a distant planet.

Just 25 minutes long, the ballet is a big event for everyone involved, but especially for Stiefel, the retired American Ballet Theatre star who is unveiling his first major commission as a choreographer, and for Washington Ballet Artistic Director Julie Kent, who asked Stiefel, her friend and former dance partner, to tie his ballet to the Kennedy Center’s John F. Kennedy centennial celebration. That’s where the space theme came from, reflecting the former president’s expansion of the space program.

(11) SHADOW CLARKE. Another pair of reviews from the Shadow Clarke Jury.

The other day, when I was reviewing Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, I noted that it was one of two books I still had to write about from my initial list that hadn’t made either the Sharke Six or the official Clarke Award shortlist. I then proceeded to detail why I thought the Brooks-Dalton hadn’t made the lists (it’s not really very good science fiction).

This is the second, and the reasons The Gradual didn’t make either list are, well, I don’t know.

One of the most common accusations levelled at genre fiction is that it is… generic: a typical police procedural will see a detective with a troubled home life win out over bureaucratic incompetence to catch a killer, a standard romance will see two seemingly ill-matched individuals coming together across geographical and social divides to reach a perfect understanding, and we’ve all watched horror movies where we spend the first half of the film yelling at the characters not to go into the house. The reason we still enjoy such stories is often related to their very predictability — we find a formula that works for us, where each new iteration is a pleasure that is doubled in its anticipation, like slipping back into a comfortable pair of slippers.

I would suggest there is something folkloric in such archetypes, something of the mythical, and what genre’s detractors often fail to notice about archetypes is how flexible they are, how ripe for re-imagining and subversion…

(12) BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT. Last year’s Clarke Award winner begins a multi-part rundown of this year’s shortlisted works.

Because I didn’t get the chance to do a Clarkeslist post last year, for what I hope are excusable reasons, I was denied the opportunity to laud Chambers’ first outing, A Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet. This book was one of the ones I would have been happiest to lose to. It was also the subject of a mixed bag of reviews, which may be because it’s SF about, not the space beyond our atmosphere but the space between people (which €˜people’ very emphatically includes nonhuman sentience).

(13) DIVERSE AWARDS COMMENTARY. Cora Buhlert has “A few words on the 2016 Nebula Awards, the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Awards and the Shadow Clarkes”.

…In other awards news, the shortlist for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award has been announced as well. It’s a pretty good shortlist, consisting of a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee (Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee), a Hugo nominee, sequel to one of last year’s Clarke Award nominees (A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers), this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction and the literary speculative fiction novel of the year (The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead), a new novel by a former Clarke Award winner (Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan), a new work by an author nominated for multiple BSFA, British Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards (Central Station by Lavie Tidhar) and a Locus Award nominated novel by an established and talented, but somewhat overlooked writer (After Atlas by Emma Newman). It’s also a nicely diverse shortlist, ranging from space opera and military SF via dystopian fiction to alternate history. The writer demographics are diverse as well — after the debacle of the all male, all white shortlist in 2013, in spite of a jury consisting of several women — and include three men and three women, two writers of colour, at least two LGBT writers and one international writer. At the Guardian, David Barnett also reports on the 2017 Clarke Award shortlist and praises its diversity

(14) NONREADERS DIGEST. At Lady Business, Ira and Anna try to help readers evaluate one of the nominees for the Best Series Hugo by presenting “The Vorkosigan Saga in 5 Books”.

Ira

Friends! One of my favourite things made of words ever is up for the Best Series Hugo this year! That is correct, The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold is a Hugo Finalist. And I am here with the lovely frequent Lady Business guest poster forestofglory (Anna), a fellow Vorkosigan fan, to present you with two ways to skim the highlights of this series in 5 books each.

Anna

Five books is kind of an arbitrary cutoff, but it’s a lot fewer than 17!

Ira

Isn’t that right!

Now, you may have seen that your Hugo packet includes Borders of Infinity as the sole representative of the Vorkosigan Saga. This is a collection of novellas/short stories with some interstitial material that constitutes its own (very) short story. If Baen, the publisher, had to pick ONE book, this is not a bad choice, as it gives several interesting adventures and tones from this series. However, Anna and I think it doesn’t really cover the breadth of the series, and we’re here to fix that.

This post is intended for two audiences: (1) People who have never encountered a Vorkosigan book in their life, or maybe have read one or two but don’t really know the full series, so we can suggest a subset of the series that is readable by the Hugo voting deadline; and (2) Fans of the series so they can come argue with us about our picks. BOTH ARE SO WELCOME….

(15) PALATE CLEANSER. Need a change of pace before diving back into the Hugo Voter Packet? Maybe Short Story Squee & Snark can help. “The Thule Stowaway,” by Maria Dahvana Headley is their latest discussion pick.

“The Thule Stowaway,” by Maria Dahvana Headley. Novelette. Published in Uncanny Jan/Feb 2017.

Suggested by Mark Hepworth:

I love “secret history” style stories, which this combines with a carefully crafted nest of narratives.

This one has reactions all over the map, which should make for some interesting discussion!

Charles Payseur echoes our recommendation: “This story is something of a Master’s course in nested narratives, unfolding like a puzzlebox that defies reality and is much larger on the inside than it appears.”

Tangent Online reviewer Herbert M. Shaw calls it “overlong and burdensome,” and “a rejected plot from the Doctor Who storyboards, featuring Edgar Allan Poe.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Lovestreams by Sean Buckalew on Vimeo explains what happens when two people who have only “met” through IM messages step through a portal to “meet” in cyberspace.

[Thanks to Sam Long, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

122 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/22/17 Little Pixels Made Of Ticky Tacky All In A Row

  1. Regarding left coast secession…I think it’s telling that a recent “Cal-exit” movement turned out to be funded from Russia. In my opinion, California should be using its example and its economic clout to lead the way for the rest of the country, not to pull a “We’ve got ours, screw you” move, tempting though it sometimes is.

  2. @Lenora Rose

    Second, thanks for dissing everyone in “the reactionary bits in the middle” of Canada. I feel real loved.

    And the same thing applies a few miles to the south. Thanks for making me smile today.

    Regards,
    Dann

  3. In my opinion, California should be using its example and its economic clout to lead the way for the rest of the country, not to pull a “We’ve got ours, screw you” move, tempting though it sometimes is.

    I don’t think they’re saying “We’ve got ours, screw you,” so much as “We’ve been trying to lead the way, and the result is that you threaten us when we’re not bigoted enough for you and try to pass laws forcing us into your mold. Our Senators and Congressmen represent far more people than most Senators and Congressmen, but still only get one vote each, allowing you to push us around. You demonize us at every turn, even though our taxes pay for services in the states where we’re demonized. We’re tired of it. Maybe we can better show the way by breaking free and showing by example what can be done when you’re not actively stepping on out efforts.”

    It’s not going to happen, so it’s not exactly anything anyone needs to spend time worrying about. But it’s a fun fantasy to think about, when the nation elects idiots and reactionaries who are dedicated to dragging us all backward.

  4. Kurt, I’m a Californian — have lived here for well over 50 years. So I think I’m allowed to vocalize with a “we” and to bristle a little when your “they” appears to exclude my experience.

  5. So I think I’m allowed to vocalize with a “we” and to bristle a little when your “they” appears to exclude my experience.

    Sure. Just as I’m allowed to disagree with your analysis.

  6. I get a little surly every time some liberal friend–bless their heart–of mine posts that graphic showing all the red states labeled “Dumbfuckistan”, myself.

    And since I live in the general vicinity of a fair number of folks who would actually like to separate from America and have Their Own Private Gilead-Cum-Rhodesia, I’d rather you didn’t encourage them with your pleasant fantasies of my home going to hell while you imagine it would make you safe, to say nothing of fat, dumb, and happy.

    Sorry to dwell on this, but it’s sort of a sore point with me.

    Vozneshensky, now, I’ll take it off him, ’cause he was a great poet. Just ask Nina:

  7. @Lenora Rose:

    Second, thanks for dissing everyone in “the reactionary bits in the middle” of Canada. I feel real loved.

    Just do what I do: Sit back and enjoy watching a bunch of progressives argue that those rich, white slaveowners were right after all.

  8. I’d rather you didn’t encourage them with your pleasant fantasies of my home going to hell while you imagine it would make you safe, to say nothing of fat, dumb, and happy.

    Don’t worry about, it, it’s not going to happen.

    But if you’d like people not to fantasize about such things, perhaps that advice the left keeps getting about understanding the frustrations of the right might be applicable to the right, for a change. I think everyone realizes that Ecotopia is no more full of starry-eyed liberal dreamers than Dumbfuckistan is entirely full of dumb reactionary fucks, but sometimes it seems like the right wants to indulge in caricature while bristling at being subjected to it in return.

  9. Don’t worry about, it, it’s not going to happen.

    Are you sure about that? I’m not. These are dangerous and uncertain times.

    sometimes it seems like the right wants to indulge in caricature while bristling at being subjected to it in return.

    Tell me about it. Some days, it feels like I’m bathing in their contempt. And I’m no one special, except for my big mouth. You should hear what actual public figures get.

  10. @John A Arkansawyer–

    I’ll be sixty this summer, and I was born and have lived nearly all my life in Massachusetts. Since I began to come to real political awareness, I’ve hear all sorts of sweet things said about my state.

    The People’s Republic of Massachusetts, is a popular one,followed up by feigned innocence about why listeners would imagine anyone is calling the state communist in any way.

    Taxachusetts, from geniuses whose own states had both overall higher tax rates, and crap state services.

    And of course, quite a few people think it’s witty and clever to talk about “Massholes.” To Massachusetts people.

    There are the clever folks who take it for granted that, as a person from Massachusetts, I must share their Deep South sense of being Oppressed by those Awful Kennedys, because apparently in Massachusetts we must not know how to vote, or we’d be able to have fine representatives of the Klan and the White Citizens Councils running our state governments and representing us in Congress.

    And of course, regularly followed up with complaints like yours, about why those rude New Englanders are so disrespectful about the polite, welcoming, always respectful Southerners!

    Gee, Mr. Atlanta Businessman (whom I met a few months after Ted Kennedy had been re-elected), did you consider the possibility that he won by that wide margin because he’s liked and respected in Massachusetts and considered to be doing an excellent job representing our values and policy preferences? That we might be very happy that he doesn’t represent the values of the fucking Confederacy?

    No, I didn’t utter that last sentence or any version of it. But honest to God, this apparently polished, educated, successful businessman in Atlanta was apparently unable formulate the idea that maybe Real People in Massachusetts didn’t think and believe and want the same things from their government that the Real People of Georgia did.

    And that we didn’t actually care that people elsewhere wished we’d vote more like them.

  11. John:

    Are you sure about that?

    Yeah. It would take Constitutional amendments that would never pass — even if us hoi polloi actually wanted it, the moneyed interests would be horrified.

    I keep noodling with semi-convincing strategies for it, because I want to someday write a comic or novel about a divided US, but even for fiction it requires a certain amount of “Don’t look too closely” handwaving to set up a basically-impossible scenario.

    Lis:

    And of course, quite a few people think it’s witty and clever to talk about “Massholes.” To Massachusetts people.

    I was born and raised in suburban Boston, and one of my sisters will happily claim the label “Massholes,” as a badge of pride and defiance. But yeah, don’t try it as an outsider.

    Gee, Mr. Atlanta Businessman (whom I met a few months after Ted Kennedy had been re-elected), did you consider the possibility that he won by that wide margin because he’s liked and respected in Massachusetts and considered to be doing an excellent job representing our values and policy preferences?

    Yeah, Teddy was not the finest of men in his personal life, but he was an excellent Senator. Especially for Massachusetts.

  12. @Lis Carey: I’ve spoken unclearly and misled you, and I apologize for that. The people whose contempt I feel bathed in are the southern people who think I’m the wrong kind of southerner. I get it from them explaining why it’s a good thing that Confederate monuments are being removed from public land. I got it today; I’ll get it tomorrow.

    I’m that kind of southerner, not the kind you’re thinking of.

    I do get tired of people from elsewhere talking about the south as a whole in ways that make our work trying to build a better way down here a little harder.

    So thank you for speaking clearly there and not painting us all with the same brush. I appreciate it. That’s the criticism I welcome. Indeed, it’s criticism I share.

    @Kurt Busiek:

    It would take Constitutional amendments that would never pass

    Oh, you sweet summer child. You seem to think the rule of law is a thing of nature. It’s not. It’s a sturdy thing until it is not, and then it is incredibly fragile and easily broken.

    Yeah, Teddy was not the finest of men in his personal life, but he was an excellent Senator. Especially for Massachusetts.

    Which makes a fine contrast to Arkansaw’s Favorite Son, who wasn’t much good in public or private life. Ted Kennedy delivered for his people, and mine, too. I forgive him his public mistakes–not buying into Nixon’s public health plan, the No Child Left Unharmed act–since his public virtues outweighed them.

    Now, RFK Junior, he’s a mendacious piece of work, but that’s another story.

  13. RFK Junior breaks my heart. An antivaxer! 🙁

    @John S Arkansawyer–I’m glad we’re a great deal more in agreement than I thought!

  14. @Lis Carey: Once I’d realized just how dishonest his claims about the 2004 Ohio election results were, that he became an anti-vaxxer was no surprise at all. I can’t tell whether he’s a Wallace, an opportunistic scumbag who knew better in his heart, or a Maddox, who was just a garden variety scumbag, but he’s definitely a scumbag.

  15. @Kurt Busiek: I kind of asked for that, didn’t I? So I can’t hold it against you. But you are naïve if you think all the Tea Party prattle about the Constitution or the neo- or paleo-) Confederate crap about state’s rights means anything. They are just words that wouldn’t melt in those men’s mouths.

    I keep thinking about that scene in Tom Gjelten’s book about the collapse of Yugoslavia*, on the peaceful, multicultural campus there in Sarajevo, where all the different ethnic groups lived and studied together and made friends and formed relationships and had sex and children and happily coexisted.

    And then one day early in the run-up to the war, a bus pulls in playing Serbian folk songs, and at the end of the day, most of the male Serbian students had left campus, to join an army that committed brutalities and atrocities that amaze me and haunt me to this day, that I cannot get off my mind, that ring in my ears every day in this world.

    So yeah, fuck me. I’m with you on that, brother. I’m a regular Debbie Downer.

    *which I read fifteen years ago, along with a bunch of other books on Yugoslavia’s collapse, and which I may therefore be misremembering as the source of that story

  16. I kind of asked for that, didn’t I? So I can’t hold it against you.

    I just responded in Northern.

    But you are naïve if you think all the Tea Party prattle about the Constitution or the neo- or paleo-) Confederate crap about state’s rights means anything. They are just words that wouldn’t melt in those men’s mouths.

    And yet I’m still confident Calexit isn’t going to happen, as much as I like it as an SFnal premise. I haven’t ever expected the Tea Party or the State’s Rights crowd to have an ounce of consistency — they have always been for the right of states to do what their crowd likes and the right of the federal government to stop states from doing what their crowd doesn’t like.

    But neither they nor the Calexiteers will succeed enough to break up the nation.

  17. @Kurt Busiek:

    But neither they nor the Calexiteers will succeed enough to break up the nation.

    Just suppose you lived in a nation where the president was not entirely hip to the idea of one nation. Just suppose he had an attorney general for whom voter suppression was Job One. Just suppose that attorney general also had it in for marijuana. Just suppose he sent federal marshals into the offices of state governments which had involved themselves in collecting taxes on marijuana and started arresting governors and such under the RICO statutes. Just suppose someone’s bodyguard took a shot at one of those marshals. Just suppose the National Guard from different states showed up on the streets of those states. Just suppose that’s a week before the next election.

    Naw. Couldn’t happen. I read too much science fiction. There won’t be a second civil war, a war against the states.

  18. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 5/26/17 Hey Mr. Tatooine Man, Use The Force For Me | File 770

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