Pixel Scroll 1/8/18 Calculating Witticisms And Generating Sarcastic Comebacks At The Algorithm Round Table

(1) BRAM STOKER AWARDS. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton reminds members they have until January 15 to recommend works for the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards.

– ALL members may recommend works, including Supporting.
– ALL members may recommend works in ALL categories.
– If you’re trying to get your work considered, please review the Bram Stoker Awards etiquette page
– We’ve already seen a few examples of authors whose works appear on the Recommendations page claiming to be “nominated.” Please do NOT refer to your work as “nominated” unless you are listed on the Final Ballot.

The Bram Stoker Awards® Etiquette Rules begin with these general principles, then go into detail.

If there is a single thought to keep in mind here, it is the difference between promoting and soliciting.

Promoting (acceptable) is the business of spreading the word about your work and making sure anyone who wants to can read it.

Soliciting (unacceptable) is the practice of wheeling and dealing, whining and wheedling, in order to get yourself an award that you may not deserve.

Works that are truly worthy of the award tend to rise to the top without help if enough people read them. If you have to go out and beg for recommendations or votes, that says something rather uncomplimentary about both you and the work. So you’re doing yourself a service if you refrain.

(2) THE BDO. James Davis Nicoll provides “A Brief History of the Big Dumb Object Story in Science Fiction” at Tor.com.

I was recently reminded of the golden age of Big Dumb Object stories (hat tip to reviewer Roz Kaveny for coining the phrase). As this is not yet commonly accepted genre shorthand, perhaps a definition is in order.

Contrary to the name, BDOs are not necessarily dumb. In fact, most of them have rather sophisticated infrastructure working away off-stage preventing the story from being a Giant Agglomeration of Useless Scrap story. What they definitely are is large. To be a BDO, the Object needs to be world-sized, at least the volume of a moon and preferably much larger. BDOs are also artificial. Some…well, one that I can think of but probably there are others…skirt the issue by being living artifacts but even there, they exist because some being took steps to bring them into existence.


The Internet Archive (Archive.org)  is carrying out a very large and growing program of scanning entire books and posting them on the public Internet. It is calling this project “Open Library,” but it is SFWA’s understanding that this is not library lending, but direct infringement of authors’ copyrights. We  suspect that this is the world’s largest ongoing project of unremunerated digital distribution of entire in-copyright books. An extensive, random assortment of books is available for e-lending—that is the “borrowing” of a digital (scanned) copy.  For those books that can be “borrowed,” Open Library allows users to download digital copies in a variety of formats to read using standard e-reader software. As with other e-lending services, the books are DRM-protected, and should become unreadable after the “loan” period. However, an unreadable copy of the book is saved on users’ devices (iPads, e-readers, computers, etc.) and can be made readable by stripping DRM protection. SFWA is still investigating the extent to which these downloadable copies can be pirated. Unlike e-lending from a regular library, Open Library is not serving up licensed, paid-for copies, but their own scans.

The post includes guidance about how writers can deal with infringement issues.

(4) FAWLTY REASONING. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett sent a link to “Jack Vance & Fawlty Towers” with the warning: “I have to admit the logical progression of this installment is a little unexpected. I’m sure you’ll manage though. I have every confidence in you all.” The metaphor addresses William Atheling Jr.’s misguided review of a Jack Vance book, both written in the 1950s.

It’s with Vance’s next point however that we encounter what surely his Basil Fawlty moment. I’m willing to bet the restrained sarcasm Vance employed in order to agree with Atheling that the short stories contained in The Dying Earth collection made for a terrible novel is as nothing to how he felt when he first read Atheling’s complaint. As somebody who has read The Dying Earth collection, albeit many years ago, the thought that anybody could miss the assorted changes in plot, location, and characters is an astounding one. As the author of these assorted stories and thus more intimately involved with then than any reader could be the Atheling complaint was surely a source of intense frustration for Jack Vance. How do you deal with being told you have failed when the basis of the claim is as demonstrably wrong as this? There are things that should not need explanation, that are a chore, an undeserved burden to set right. If it had been me in Vance’s place the sheer frustration of Atheling’s comments would have had me curling up Basil Fawlty style.

(5) YOU’RE GRACE PARK. Io9’s Jill Pantozzi digs into The Magicians new season and asks “Could You Have an Entire Conversation in Pop Culture References? The Magicians Challenges Us All”.

Eliot’s entire conversation with Queen Margo is perfection but hits a high note by kicking things off referencing another Syfy series: Battlestar Galactica. Take a look (unless you want to go into the episode fresh, of course). And don’t worry if you’re not entirely versed in pop culture; there are helpful subtitles to explain some of the references.


(6) CALIFORNIA BOOK FAIR. The 51st California International Antiquarian Book Fair will be held on February 9-11, 2018 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Featuring the collections and rare treasures of over 200 booksellers from over 30 different countries the California International Antiquarian Book Fair is recognized as one of the world’s largest and most prestigious exhibitions of antiquarian books. The California International Antiquarian Book Fair gives visitors the opportunity to see, learn about, and purchase the finest in rare and valuable books, manuscripts, autographs, graphics, photographs, print ephemera, and much more.

(7) FOR THOSE SCORING AT HOME. Rocket Stack Rank’s Greg Hullender reports, “We’ve created the 2018 version of our page that helps people nominate for the Hugo Awards. In addition to our reviews, this incorporates feedback from six other prolific short-fiction reviewers to produce a sorted list of the best-reviewed short SFF of 2017.” — “2018 Hugo Awards”.

New this year: they have highlighted which stories were most recommended in different categories.

Hullender continues: “As in the past, the pages offer nomination help several different ways. The list of stories is helpful for readers looking for stories to read, but it’s also helpful to people who need help remembering the stories they’ve already read. The Campbell page identifies everyone eligible for the Campbell (based only on short stories we reviewed).”

(8) HUT CUISINE. New fiction from Mad Scientist Journal: “Excerpts from the Diary of Theodore Miro, Competitor on CryptoChefs Season 2”. The artwork makes it rather irresistible —

Here’s the opening paragraph:

May 6th

I understand that TV audiences want to see a little more showmanship than I’m used to providing on the line back at Lilette, but this is ridiculous. They trucked in a six-foot tall burlap sack with “HOUSE FEED” painted on the side, and we had to spend two hours getting shots of me and some crew pouring it out onto a giant plate. They kept having to refill the bag between takes, and I had nothing to do but sit around in the freezing-ass Russian afternoon. The only wifi reception out here is a 1980-looking suitcase laptop with one of those inch-thick rubber antennas. I think all it does is let Chaz keep in touch with the producers through some kinda HAM radio satellite or whatever. No apps or anything. I’d tried making small talk with him in between takes, but I think the only thing he’s ever actually read is liner notes from Smash Mouth albums. Album, singular? I don’t even know. He sure would though.


  • Born January 8, 1862 — Frank Nelson Doubleday (publisher)
  • Born January 8, 1908 — The first Doctor Who. actor William Hartnell
  • Born January 8, 1942 – Stephen Hawking

(10) SEVEN CENTURIES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA. A Marvel comics milestone is approaching —

This spring, OUT OF TIME will culminate with the release of CAPTAIN AMERICA’s milestone 700th issue, concluding the arc in an oversized story from creators Mark Waid and Chris Samnee!

Frozen in time, awakened in a decimated future and once again a man out of his era, there is only one way for Steve Rogers to restore order and rebuild civilization—and that’s to rule it as King Captain America!

“No dream, no hoax, no lie, this IS Cap and this IS happening!” said SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “Guest-starring the Thing and the Hulk (or as much as is left of them), it’s a celebration of 700 issues of star-spangled adventure! Plus, Mark Waid delivers an untold tale from Captain America’s past, featuring the classic artwork of Jack Kirby!”

(11) MILES MORALES. In “Jason Reynolds Is Revolutionizing the Art of Writing Characters”, Washington City Paper’s Kayla Randall profiles Jason Randall, an experienced African-American YA author whom Marvel picked to write Miles Morales: Spider-Man, a YA novel which appeared late in 2017.

When Marvel Comics calls, people answer. That seems to be a general rule. But local author Jason Reynolds was hesitant when he got his call. Marvel had plans to publish a young adult novel about Spider-Man, specifically Miles Morales, an immensely popular iteration of the character and the first black boy to don the spider suit in the comics. Reynolds was the author the bosses wanted.

That he would be on Marvel’s radar as it identified authors to write about a black Puerto Rican teenager coming of age in Brooklyn comes as no surprise. The Oxon Hill native, who now lives in Northeast D.C., has written nine books and become widely known over the past few years for writing complex young black characters, mostly boys. His book Ghost was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and As Brave As You was a 2017 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.

“I’ve written a gazillion books about black boys in Brooklyn, so it was kind of like ‘Look dude, this is your wheelhouse, will you take this on?’” Reynolds says.

His initial answer was “I don’t know.” He was afraid the stranglehold of a corporation with huge intellectual properties to protect and monitor would stifle his writing. Then there was the immense pressure he’d feel to properly represent a beloved superhero in his own words.

(12) SMALL WORLD. Yahoo! shares “A portrait of Earth and the Moon from 3 million miles away”:

Sometimes you need to step back to see the big picture, and if your subjects are 249,000 miles apart, you need to step waaay back. Luckily, the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is moving rapidly away from us and was recently just in the right position, around 3.1 million miles away, so it trained its MapCam instrument towards its former home and captured this poignant portrait of the Earth and the Moon.

(13) LESSON FROM AN EXPERT. Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer, in “‘Hold-my-beer’ Precedent”, criticizes practices like —

‘De-platforming’ – Another precedent set and accepted and much beloved by the modern Left – those in power should be able to effectively silence any dissent, and isolate dissenters by denying them a public place – be that a convention, Twitter, or a book for sale to the public. The puppy-kickers and indeed SJW’s believe de-platforming an important and completely justified tool… in their hands. They’re in power and think it a great idea.

I know Dave can speak about de-platforming from experience, having banned me from MGC’s comments section.

And what explosive thing did I say to trigger him? My last comment there responded to their site redesign by asking them to make the bylines larger and more readable. No, no, this wasn’t concern trolling. It just seemed an obvious thing to fix as long as they were doing a makeover anyway.

(14) JON PINOCCHIO. Yesterday he was telling the world File 770 has no readers. In February he tweeted the figure below as a taunt. Which was true? Neither. Isn’t that a surprise. There has never been anything remotely like that number of outbound clicks from here to his site.

(15) JDA’S NEXT CHESSMOVE. Jon Del Arroz has posted “An Open Letter to Worldcon GoH Spider Robinson”.

In an unprecedented move, Worldcon pre-banned me, an action they haven’t taken since 1964 with Walter Breen, a convicted pedophile. Unlike Walter, I’m no criminal, just a family man and professional in the field. I’m an outspoken conservative and Christian, which sets me in the “other, not human” category for some people in science fiction writing, and I’ve been a target of a hate campaign because of my worldviews since coming on the scene. It’s about the opposite of what I imagined a loving, tolerant group would be.

I’ve been given no information to why I’m banned other than I “intend to violate the code of conduct” which I’ve stated several times I don’t. As a popular writer in the field, it seems a move solely based on hate and discrimination of people like me. I wish we could all get along despite differences like in Callahan’s, but it appears some in our world aren’t ready for that.

(16) GAME OVER. John C. Wright begins his January 8 post, “Love Crimes and Hate Crimes”, with this news –

Milo Yiannopoulos’ DANGEROUS website, for reasons, so they reassure me, that are no reflection on my writing, have suspended my column there, temporarily, or so they hope.

(17) INSPIRATION. There was a famous composer who answered the question “Where do you get your inspiration” with the remark, “When the check arrives.” Ridley Scott would like somebody to inspire him that way — “‘Blade Runner 2049’ Sequel: Ridley Scott Already Has Plans for a Third Chapter”.

Director Ridley Scott has an idea for a new “Blade Runner” film and is hoping to get it off the ground. Although he recently vocalized some strong opinions about why the second chapter, “Blade Runner 2049,” underperformed at the box office (“It’s slow. It’s slow. Long. Too long. I would have taken out half an hour,” Scott told Al Arabiya), he seems to be eager to return to the series.

When asked about continuing the saga, Scott told Digital Spy, “I hope so. I think there is another story. I’ve got another one ready to evolve and be developed, so there is certainly one to be done for sure.”

(18) A CHECK OF MONEY. Subterranean Press did inspire Harlan Ellison that way, and he allowed Jason Davise to put together the collection Blood’s A Rover. The Ellison-signed edition is already sold out ($500 a pop). Unsigned copies are available at $40.

Harlan Ellison introduced you to Vic and Blood in 1969’s Nebula Award-winning novella, “A Boy and His Dog.” You thrilled to their on-screen adventures in the 1975 Hugo Award-winning feature film adaptation billed as “a kinky tale of survival.” 1977 and 1980 brought brief reunions in “Eggsucker” and “Run, Spot, Run,” and the promise of another story—and a third solo, Spike, to make the Dystopian Duo a Tribulation Trio—but only audiobooks and comics followed, revisiting the same tales.

Now, nearly fifty years after they first set off across the blasted wasteland, Vic and Blood are back.

Harlan Ellison and his editor, Jason Davis, have painstakingly assembled the whole story of Vic and Blood and Spike from the author’s files, using revised-and-expanded versions of the novella and short stories, interstitial material developed for Richard Corben’s graphic adaptation, and—for the first time—never-before-published material from the aborted 1977 NBC television series Blood’s a Rover to tell the complete story of A Boy and His Dog, and a Girl who is tougher than the other two combined.

(19) IN HOC. Not genre, but too snarky to ignore — “New Latin State Mottoes for the 21st Century” from McSweeney’s. Examples:

Tacete, scimus nos asperos esse
“Shut up, we know we are rude”

Nostra flumina non iam ardent
“Our rivers no longer catch on fire”

(20) GOOD GOVERNMENT JOB. Seal of approval?: “SpaceX Rocket Launches Secret Government Payload Into Orbit”.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a top secret U.S. government payload into orbit, while returning its first-stage booster to the ground for reuse.

The Falcon lifted off at 8 p.m. ET Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As the first-stage of the Falcon returned to Earth for an upright landing, the upper stage lofted the mysterious Zuma, presumed to be a spy satellite or military communications satellite, into an undisclosed orbit.

(21) HEAVY METAL. Beating swords into stereos? “Headphones made from recycled firearms”.

Sweden’s Yevo Labs has unveiled a set of wireless headphones that incorporate metal made from seized illegal guns.

The charging case and a band on the headphones themselves are made of a material branded Humanium.

It is created by the Humanium Metal Initiative, also based in Sweden, and used by a number of Scandinavian manufacturers.

One analyst said the idea should help the headphones stand out in a crowded market.

(22) MIRROR, MIRROR. Cora Buhlert evaluates a popular episode of Black Mirror — “‘USS Callister’ and the Successful Mutiny Against Toxic Masculinity”.

…In the end, it turns out that “USS Callister”, the “Star Trek” episode of Black Mirror is only superficially about Star Trek. This shouldn’t really come as a huge surprise, since Black Mirror normally focusses on “five minutes into the future” tech dystopias and not far future space opera. And indeed, my initial reaction to the “USS Callister” scenes in the general season 4 trailer was, “Huh. Now that doesn’t look like Black Mirror at all.”

And indeed it quickly turns out that the scenes in the trailer of a day-glo 1960ish Star Trek type space adventure are just an immersive virtual reality game created by a programmer named Robert Daley, where he can forget his sad everyday existence and instead live in the world of his favourite TV show, a Star Trek clone called “Space Fleet”, as the heroic captain leading an adoring crew to explore the unknown. At first glance, this seems to be harmless enough, though it is notable that the crew of the USS Callister look very much like his co-workers. Things take a turn towards the seriously creepy when Daley steals the coffee cup of a new employee, swabs it for DNA and pushes a sample into a device attached to his computer…

(23) CW SUPERHEROES. The super season returns starting Monday, January 15 on The CW. Very amusing trailer.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]