Pixel Scroll 1/13/20 Hey Airbender, Bend A Little Space-Time For Me

(1) STORY DECK. From the fertile mind of James Davis Nicoll – “Five SF Works to Read If You’ve Ever Played Traveller” at Tor.com. First on the list —

Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series

Both The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit are quite Traveller-esque, the first with its small commercial vessel crewed by a diverse assortment of characters struggling to stay afloat in a demanding universe, and the second features the sort of horrifying backstory implied by Traveller’s notorious character generation system.

(2) THE WHY. BBC’s The Why Factor analyzes the appeal of  “Dystopias”.

23 minute audio

Released On: 13 Jan 2020

Available for over a year

Dystopic fiction is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, but why is it that we can’t seem to get enough of stories where ordinary people struggle to survive against an all-powerful state or in a post- apocalyptic world? Is it because they reflect the anxieties we already feel about the world we live in, or because they allow us to escape it. 

Shabnam Grewal asks Why is Dystopic fiction so appealing? 

(3) PRATCHETT. BBC Radio 4’s “Good Omens” webpage includes a section about “Terry Pratchett on Neil Gaiman” which is an extract from the hardback edition of Good Omens, published by Gollancz. This is probably not recent, but it’s news to me…

…He also had a very bad hat. It was a grey homburg. He was not a hat person. There was no natural unity between hat and man. That was the first and last time I saw the hat. As if subconsciously aware of the bad hatitude, he used to forget it and leave it behind in restaurants. One day, he never went back for it. I put this in for the serious fans out there: If you search really, really hard, you may find a small restaurant somewhere in London with a dusty grey homburg at the back of a shelf. Who knows what will happen if you try it on?

(4) DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS. “Lucifer Season 5 Announces Musical Episode”Comicbook.com has the story.

Details about “Blood Celestial Karaoke Jam” aren’t being released just yet, but what we do know is that this episode will be different from the 1940s-set episode. That episode, which will be the fourth of the final season, reportedly will contain only two song performances and not a full plot built around singing and dancing. Even with that being the case, the noir episode should be highly entertaining for fans as it will offer an alternate version of Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) singing together. The rest of the cast will also be part of that episode but won’t be playing the characters fans are most familiar with in the series given its past setting.

“I can’t tease too much!” Ellis said previously about the episode. “I would say on this episode, we take a trip down memory lane with Lucifer. We tell a story that answers the question a lot of fans have been asking actually.”

(5) IN TIME OF MOURNING. David Gerrold deftly addresses an issue on Facebook.

When Harlan Ellison died, there were people who were quick to point out what a terrible human being he was. And yes, that was their experience of him. Okay.

Over here, Harlan was my big brother. He saved my life. I knew he had human failings. We all do. Harlan’s were considerable. (So are mine.) So what? His impact on me — and on many — was enormous. And those of us who had benefited from his various kindnesses were saddened by his loss. He was important to us.

But to those who needed to vent their unfulfilled angers — “Have you no decency? At long last, have you no sense of shame?”

In such a circumstance, I would ask, “Why do you want to add to the pain of the close friends and family? What do you gain?”

Or is your own self-righteous need to dredge up your own angers one more time so important that the feelings of others are irrelevant to you?

What I’m talking about is the lack of empathy — and the inability to recognize the consequences of one’s own actions.

What I have learned (the hard way) is that maturity and wisdom are best demonstrated by keeping one’s mouth shut and listening harder. There might still be something to learn that is more important than my own unresolved issues.

Does this have anything to do with any recent events in the SF community?

Oh, probably.

(6) MORBIUS. Sony Pictures has dropped a teaser trailer for Morbius. “Teaser”? It’s almost three minutes long!

One of Marvel’s most compelling and conflicted characters comes to the big screen as Oscar® winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero, Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. What at first appears to be a radical success soon reveals itself to be a remedy potentially worse than the disease.

(7) RESNICK GOFUNDME CONTINUES. The target amount has been raised to $70,000 for the “Help Mike Resnick’s widow pay off medical bills” GoFundMe.

UPDATE on 01/13/2020: Carol and Laura would like to very much thank all of Mike’s friends, peers, and donators for their condolences and amazingly generous donations. Carol is just now starting to discover how expensive everything is following Mike’s passing, and it has been quite overwhelming. Your support has helped comfort her through a very hard time.

As you may be aware, Carol does not earn an income herself, and Mike was unable to work for a good slice of this year, due to multiple surgeries and illnesses. Yet she still has funeral arrangements to cover, a mortgage to pay, food to put on the table, and way too many bills to pay off. Every dollar donated helps her set up a new existence without her life partner.

We have changed the fundraiser goal to help meet her current needs, and while we understand you may have donated already (for which we are profoundly grateful), we ask if you could please share the fundraiser on your social media accounts again to help raise awareness. Your well wishes alone, and supportive words, have been so valued. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.


  • January 13, 1939 Son Of Frankenstein premiered. It  starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and was the third entry in Universal Studios’ Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster. Directed and produced by Rowland V. Lee, Wyllie Cooper wrote the script in which he created the Igor character. The box office was remarkable and Universal Studios ordered The Ghost Of Frankenstein several years later with Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role. It has an amazing 91% rating among critics and 71% among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • January 13, 1964 The Outer Limits aired the sixteenth episode of its first season, a comedy called “Controlled Experiment”. Yes comedy and the only one that they did.  Written and directed by Leslie Stevens, it starred Grace Lee Whitney of Trek fame as Carla Duveen and The Martians in a story well worth seeing. You can see it here.
  • January 13, 1980 Dr. Franken first aired. Directed by Marvin J. Chomsky and Jeff Lieberman from a script by Jeff Lieberman, it starred Robert Vaughn as Dr. Arno Franken in a modern retelling of this that tale. Robert Perault played the John Doe in  Room 841 whom I assume was The Monster. The All Movie Site says no network or sponsor cared enough to purchase this pilot film for a weekly series emerge from it.
  • January 13, 1989Deepstar Six premiered. It was directed  by Sean S. Cunningham and produced by  him and Patrick Markey from a screenplay by Lewis Abernathy and Geof Miller from the story that  Abernathywrote. (I know that’s a lot of credits.) The sprawling cast included included Greg Evigan, Nancy Everhard, Miguel Ferrer, Nia Peeples and Matt McCoy. It was extremely poorly received by critics and audience members alike. Currently it’s got a a 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes among critics but only seven have been found that expressed an opinion, and it gets just 23% among the many reviewers there gave their opinion.  

January 13, 2008 — Fox Television premiered Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It starred Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau, it lasted two seasons and thirty one episodes. (It actually had a wrap-up to it.) It was narrated by Lena Headey who you’ll remember as Ma-Ma in Dredd. At Rotten Tomatoes, critics (77%) and reviewers (85%) really liked it but it never got better than mediocre ratings. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 13, 1893 Clark Ashton Smith. One SFF critic deemed him one of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft“. This is while some readers found him excessively morbid — as L. Sprague de Camp said of him, “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse.” If you’ve not read his work, Nightshade has collected it in The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, five volumes in total. They’re all available in Kindle editions. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 13, 1933 Ron Goulart, 87. First I must acknowledge that he is very prolific and uses many pseudonyms,  to wit Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva. (Wow!) You did the see Doc Savage one in there, didn’t you? I’m reasonably sure that the I’ve read a lot of his fiction including the Flash Gordon series, his Avenger series, maybe a bit of the Vampirella novels, the Incredible Hulk definitely, not the Groucho Marx series though it sounds fun, and, well, damn he’s prolific. So what have you have read by him that you like? 
  • Born January 13, 1938 William B. Davis, 82. Best remembered I say as the Smoking Man. (need I say which series? I think not.) He’s had a long career in SFF video with roles in The Dead Zone, Mindstorm, Beyond the Stars, Snakehead TerrorRise of the Damned, Singularity Principle, and my fav title for one of his his works, Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf. 
  • Born January 13, 1938 Billy Gray, 82. Here’s here for being Bobby Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He’s certainly not here for CPO Fred Twining in The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, the other SFF film he did which rates a 26% by reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. His Wiki page has him retiring from acting in 1977 but he appeared in 1996 as the Majordomo in The Vampyre Wars which was his last acting role. 
  • Born January 13, 1938 Charlie Brill, 82. His best remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes he’ll show in the DS9 episode that repurposed this episode to great effect. He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer Space, The Munsters Today, Sliders, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Born January 13, 1943 Richard Moll,  77. Most will best remember him best from Night Court — that’s not genre unless the Magic Judge Harry did was real — but I’ve found that he voiced Harvey Dent aka Two-Face on Batman: The Animated Series which I recognized him from. He had SFF other appearances on Buck Rogers in the 25th CenturyMork & MindyFantasy IslandJurassic: Stone AgeHeadless HorsemanScary Movie 2The Flintstones and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
  • Born January 13, 1945 Joy Chant,  75. Chant is an odd case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of  Red Moon and Black Mountain, The Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes. Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely brilliant, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her amazing retellings of the legends. I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone actually read it?
  • Born January 13, 1960 Mark Chadbourn, 60. ‘ve read his Age of Misrule series in which the Celtic Old Gods are returning in modern times and they’re not very nice but they make for very entertaining reading. It’s followed by the Dark Age series which is just as well-crafted. His two Hellboy novels are actually worth reading as well.
  • Born January 13, 1968 Ken Scholes, 52. His major series, and it’s quite worth reading, The Psalms of Isaak.  His short stories, collected so far in three volumes, are also worth your precious reading time. He wrote the superb “ Rock of Ages” for METAtropolis: Green Space.
  • Born January 13, 1982 Ruth Wilson, 38. She’s Marisa Coulter in BBC’s His Dark Materials series. She’s in Depp’s The Lone Ranger as Rebecca Reid. (Yes, it’s genre. There’s a wendigo as a story device,) in the horror film I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, she was Lili Saylor. Finally I note she was Sara (Number 313) in the remake of The Prisoner. Having seen and enjoyed the original series, I skipped this happily when it came out. 

(10) MORE STEVE STILES. The artwork Steve Stiles did for the Baltimore Sun in the Eighties and Nineties can be viewed here.

(11) IN THE QUEUE. Is it funny? Well, its at least well-told. Thread starts here.

(12) A REALLY GRAPHIC NOVEL. “Strip artist: Local cartoonist collects 10 years of smutty sci-fi comics” – an interview in the Brooklyn Paper.

…Migdal also wanted to create an inclusive erotic novel, one that would be a fun and exciting read for audiences of any orientation. But it took a little while to work out the kinks in his art style, said the author. 

“I had to develop my artistic skills to draw naked people that didn’t look like a pile of legos,” Migdal said. “But also drawing images that were representing body positivity and figuring out how to get that on to the page.” 

The story follows Ana?s Phalese, a Brooklynite who meets a visitor from another world — Fauna Lokjum, the Liquorice Princess of Candy World — who is on the run from an arranged marriage to a supervillain. The two hop across dimensions and explore their sexualities while trying to save the world from Fauna’s would-be fiance.  

(13) BURN A LITTLE. Parts of the western US are still arguing over how to back down from the old Forest Service policy of preventing all fires, realizing that small fires helped reduce the fuel for huge fires. Australia is now looking at the same issue: “Aboriginal planners say the bush ‘needs to burn'”.

For thousands of years, the Indigenous people of Australia set fire to the land.

Long before Australia was invaded and colonised by Europeans, fire management techniques – known as “cultural burns” – were being practised.

The cool-burning, knee-high blazes were designed to happen continuously and across the landscape.

The fires burn up fuel like kindling and leaf detritus, meaning a natural bushfire has less to devour.

Since Australia’s fire crisis began last year, calls for better reintegration of this technique have grown louder. But it should have happened sooner, argues one Aboriginal knowledge expert.

“The bush needs to burn,” says Shannon Foster.

She’s a knowledge keeper for the D’harawal people – relaying information passed on by her elders – and an Aboriginal Knowledge lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

…While modern-day authorities do carry out hazard reduction burning, focusing on protecting lives and property, Ms Foster says it’s “clearly not working”.

“The current controlled burns destroy everything. It’s a naive way to practise fire management, and it isn’t hearing the Indigenous people who know the land best.

“Whereas cultural burning protects the environment holistically. We’re interested in looking after country, over property and assets.

…”Cool burning replenishes the earth and enhances biodiversity – the ash fertilises and the potassium encourages flowering. It’s a complex cycle based on cultural, spiritual and scientific knowledge.”

They also create a mosaic of ecologies, Ms Foster says, and this can lead to beneficial micro-climates.

(14) BE ALERT. Penguin is releasing We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Call of Cthulhu as part of its new brand:

Orange you glad we included Penguin Orange? This vivid collection of beloved modern classics is a nod to our old-school, tri-band heritage design, featuring custom illustrations by artist Eric Nyquist that take everything to the next level.

(15) THE SCENT OF A BOOK. The BBC’s Miguel Trancozo Trevino reports on “The people trying to save scents from extinction”

The smells of ordinary life, from traditional pubs to old books, are part of our culture and heritage – and many of them are in danger of being lost.

Imagine an old leather-bound book just pulled out from a wooden shelf. Its yellowed pages release dust as they open. Even before you begin to read the book, the unique smell of it fills your nose.

This familiar scent is not only a simple pleasure for people who like to peruse libraries and bookshops. These smells have a cultural heritage value, and they are at risk of being lost. For every old book that falls apart, is thrown away or kept locked behind a temperature-controlled curatorial door, these scents become harder to experience. It is a problem that is far from unique to books – from perfumeries and pubs to entire cities, the background scents of our lives are changing all the time.

For Cecilia Bembibre, a researcher at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, the smell of old books is important. She is developing different techniques to recover “extinct” scents from the past and to preserve those around today for the future.

It’s a facet of heritage that is often, quite literally, overlooked. “The proposals made by cultural heritage spaces such as galleries, museums, historic houses, are mostly focused on the sight,” says Bembibre. “The engagement they propose tends to be visual. [With] some exceptions, the stimulation of senses, like the objects that can be touched or smelled, is reserved for children.”

…In 2003, Unesco adopted a convention to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, which includes social practices, oral traditions and performing arts. Where, though, were the scents? For centuries there have been cultural practices where smell plays a vital role, like the Spanish Fiesta of the patios in Cordova or the Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia. In 2018, the skills related to perfumery in Pays de Grasse, France, were included on the intangible heritage list. No scents themselves, however, are listed.

(16) TECHNICAL PROWESS. Sure, the excuse to post this non-sff film is that it was shot on a phone – but the real reason is that it’s very sweet.

A film about three generations of Chinese women coming together at Chinese New Year. Shot on iPhone 11 Pro. Directed by Theodore Melfi. Cinematography by Lawrence Sher. Starring Zhou Xun, China’s leading actress.

(17) JEAN-RELUCTANT PICARD. “Patrick Stewart Didn’t Want To Reprise Captain Picard In A Post-Brexit World”. The NPR piece includes interview excerpts, and audio link to full interview including his impression of the version of the voiceover intro that was recorded but fortunately not used.

…Stewart says, in a post-President Trump and post-Brexit world, the United States and the United Kingdom, in particular, distanced themselves from what the United Federation of Planets — Star Trek’s fictional interstellar union of planets that share democratic goals — represented.

“The European Union always made me feel, well, we are heading towards our own Federation of Planets somewhere down the line that will come about. And I am angry, disappointed and embarrassed by our decision to leave the Union,” the English-born actor said in an interview with Weekend Edition Sunday.

Much like Picard, Stewart is uninterested in playing a part — fictional or not — if it doesn’t mesh with his beliefs.

It wasn’t until the producers described the transformed landscape they envisioned for Picard that Stewart got on board. “The Federation” has swung isolationist, and the new Picard is very different.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Way Out” on Vimeo, Jeon You-jin explains what happens when little girls chase balloons.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

89 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/13/20 Hey Airbender, Bend A Little Space-Time For Me

  1. (13) Maybe we should talk to the first peoples in North America about how they used fire for managing their land. They did much better at it than we’re doing.

  2. P J Evans says Maybe we should talk to the first peoples in North America about how they used fire for managing their land. They did much better at it than we’re doing.

    There’s an assumption build in there that the First Folk managed the land. Many wee hunter-gathering groups that moved from region to region during the year, so practiced very little in way of sustainable agriculture. It is certainly clear from the archaeological evidence depended on seasonal food sources that they did little to manage as we think of the term now.

    Putting modern assumptions on cultures before us is a mistakr in my opinion. My grandfather considered lobsters to be something not worth even using for fertiliser but his son fished them for a nice profit. That’s how quickly they became considered a food source. And there’s no archaeological evidence that they were a food source along the coast by the tribes here — clams and mussels in great quantity yes but lobsters and crabs were not.

  3. They used small fires to keep brush down in what would otherwise be dense forests. The fires also burned grasses – fast-moving, but not huge. They had small (by modern scale) cities, the remains of which are still around. They had long-distance trading.

  4. (9) Ron Goulart said if he knew how well his books under the pseudonym William Shatner were going to sell, he’d have started using it earlier.

  5. @8: It was narrated by Lena Headey who you’ll remember as Ma-Ma in Dredd. Ah, security through obscurity.

    @9 (Goulart): I used to love his work, but have gone off it in the last couple of decades; of the pieces under his own name, the short stories are more fondly remembered — his novellas-published-as-books tended to stretch jokes more than they could take, or maybe it was just that I only liked his absurdity in small doses.

    @9 (starts with Wilson): lucky you — I watched the first piece of the new Prisoner just to see whether they’d done anything interesting, and regretted it; the summaries I read of the rest left me happy not to have watched any more.

  6. A lot of what the pre-European cultures were doing in North and South America was forest management, and very effectively. It’s how they maintained civilizations without some of the tools that Europe and Asia had, and in places those tools wouldn’t have worked very well. (Example: We now know there were networks of small cities throughout the Amazon, in areas where European-style agriculture wouldn’t have worked because the soil can’t support it.) No doubt some of that knowledge was lost in the massive die-off caused by the Eurasian diseases the Europeans brought, but makes no sense to assume it all was, with such certainty that we don’t even ask.

  7. <

    blockquote>Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles… It was narrated by Lena Headey who you’ll remember as Ma-Ma in Dredd…




    (I miss it a lot. The second season finale took it to an interesting place & I wish they’d been able to explore it further.)

  8. Dear Mike,

    Re: (5). Deft? Deft?? I don’t think so. If people are confronting David directly (and I wouldn’t put it past some fans to do so) and saying to him, “You shouldn’t mourn Harlan’s loss, because he was horrible to me,” his complaints are more than justified. Those people do lack decency and empathy.

    If that is the case, then let him address the matter directly — “I am offended when people have the effrontery to criticize Harlan to my face when I am still grieving.” That is fair and righteous.

    But what is not fair, what is in fact self-righteous and lacking in empathy, is declaring that because David lost a friend no one is allowed to criticize, in any venue, that friend for the provable ways in which they abused and hurt other people. That shows no consideration for the victims, who, in considerable numbers, are among the living and can still be hurt by having their legitimate grievances dismissed as character flaws. That is not the morally superior position.

    David and I have been friends for (ohmigawd) 50 years. When people ask how long I’ve known David, I say, “Since back when everybody thought we were just two nice Jewish boys.” Yeah, that long, longer than I’ve been in fandom. I love him dearly… but it’s difficult to hug him when he’s up there on that high horse.


    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com

  9. Ctein: David’s description of his feelings about Harlan are used here as an example from which to derive moral applications to a situation we’re going through this week.

    I don’t think it’s right, on the day somebody’s death is announced, to upstage the efforts of their friends and family to mourn them.

  10. (7) Modern capitalist society, where your parents get debt for giving birth to you, and your descendants get debt for burying you…

    (13) While controlled fires like the ones described in the article certainly have their place, the article also describes its limitations, like that it requires specific weather to do it safely. And with climate change and the extremely hot weather, there is very limited room to do so (as the article points out later on).

    So modern land and forest management certainly can help in making forest fires worse, the main culprit is the extreme droughts and hot weather, especially when it lasts for several years in a row.

  11. (6) Well, any excitement I had for learning that a Morbius movie was going to made was dashed in the same instant by finding out that Jared fucking Leto is starring in it.

  12. Dear Mike,

    I don’t think it’s ever right “…to upstage the efforts of their friends and family to mourn…” It doesn’t matter whether it’s the same day or a decade later.

    But that is not what David wrote nor specifically addressed. What he did write and address was neither deft nor in any way considerate of any feelings but his own. It’s a demand for hagiography.

    You expressed the sentiment appropriately and with respect for the feelings of others. So, I think did I, in my first paragraph. David did not.

    I don’t expect people grieving to speak entirely temperately or free from hyperbole. It is one thing to express one’s grief. It is another, entirely, to attack others.

    pax / Ctein

  13. oops– posted missing a line.

    add: (after “attack others.”) It is understandable. It is forgivable. It is not applaudable.

  14. I had an ex-friend, with whom I had a fairly acrimonious parting of ways, and a few months ago I learned that he’d died of brain cancer. I chose not to post about it or how I felt, partly because I still don’t know how I feel about it, but also because anywhere I consider “my space” is somewhere I can expect people who did not fall out with him to be. We have – had – a lot of mutual friends. I didn’t want to shove my complicated and not wholly positive feelings in the faces of people who were uncomplicatedly mourning.

    I don’t think that applies to the recent go around. I certainly haven’t seen any comments on her post that were both critical of her post and clearly from people who were reasonably good friends with both of them. And so I can’t really criticise her: she was in her own space. She didn’t shove it in anyone’s face. She wasn’t cruel to a mourning friend. And she’s entitled to her less than positive feelings; she has her reasons for them. If she’d put it in any of the spaces specifically for mourning and condolences, I would be pretty unhappy about that, but, so far as I’m aware, she didn’t.

    How many days does it take before it is right to express pain? I don’t have a good answer for that, and I certainly don’t have one that I’d care to apply to some types of harm. And if not those, why this one?

    So I think that’s the long and short of it for me: Don’t do it in a space where you’d be shoving it directly in the faces of the grieving. Otherwise follow your conscience and do what you can live with.

  15. Dear Meredith,

    Well said. The rules of etiquette of virtual social spaces is a work in progress (or sometimes regress), but in my mind “don’t shove it directly in the grieving’s face/space” has to be a firm one.

    Should I know who “she” is or her post that you’re referring to, or was this a private event you’re merely alluding to? Although the discussion here ( tho’ not David’s post) is sufficiently meta- that it hardly matters.

    pax / Ctein

  16. Mike Glyer: I don’t think it’s right, on the day somebody’s death is announced, to upstage the efforts of their friends and family to mourn them.

    That isn’t what happened. Gerrold is wrong here.

    Someone who was deeply emotionally hurt and professionally-damaged by the person in question, now faced with having to relive this all over again — repeatedly — because of all of the lionizing comments posted all over social media, chose to speak of their pain in their private social space.

    How dare anyone tell this person that they’re not allowed to work out their own grief and pain in their private space?

    When my father dies, are you going to tell me that I don’t have the right to post on my private social space about all of the verbal and emotional abuse and the years of pain it caused me, because it might hurt the feelings of the people he worked with, who thought (and I know this, because they told me so on innumerable occasions) he was one of the nicest, most generous people who ever lived?

    The real problem here is that (and I know you are all going to be shocked, shocked! by this) Lou Antonelli, who was blocked from this person’s private space, had numerous people bringing screenshots from that space and posting them on CUL’s Facebook wall where the people who loved the deceased person couldn’t help but see the comments, stirring up yet more aggro against someone who had already had to deal with far too much of it as well as causing hurt to the deceased’s loved ones.

    Tell me who is really doing the harm to the deceased’s loved ones here. It’s not the person who was using their own private space to work through their pain at all of the hurt and the damage they had been caused — something that they had every right to do.

  17. (5) When an abuser passes, those victims who have had to hold their tongue for who knows how many years, must be also allowed to express their relief. Demanding that they ‘allow people to grieve’ seems to want to erase their feelings, their experience, etc.

    The deceased’s victims have probably had to deal with a long time of grief, depression, anxiety, etc already – all while the abuser’s loved ones helped comfort the abuser, perhaps even defending their behaviour, gaslighting the victim(s) in the process.

    Yes, the deceased’s friends, family, loved ones, must be allowed have and express their grief, and talk about the good things they remember about the deceased. But likewise, the deceased’s victims must also be allowed to have and express their relief, and the abuse that they suffered.

    About the whole “upstaging” thing … that suggests that one particular narrative of the person should be given precedence. Again, that seems like it is meant to silence the victims of abuse – who have quite often already been silenced for a long time.

    How do you think you would feel if you see accolades and fond memories heaped upon someone who did you harm? Would you not want the world to see that there was more to the person than just the fluffy warm feelings and memories that are being shown? And why should you have to wait or hold your tongue – after all, this is a time when that person is being talked about, so it seems a good time to discuss their bad sides as well as their good ones?

    I do agree that there are more-or-less-suitable places to do this; generally it’s probably polite to keep your narrative out of a space that is intended for people who share a specific different narrative. For example, the grieving family should probably not intrude by saying “but he was such a lovely person” in a forum where the victims of the deceased’s abuse are discussing their relief at their passing, and sharing their stories of abuse.

    But when David Gerrold writes,

    But to those who needed to vent their unfulfilled angers — “Have you no decency? At long last, have you no sense of shame?”

    In such a circumstance, I would ask, “Why do you want to add to the pain of the close friends and family? What do you gain?”

    Or is your own self-righteous need to dredge up your own angers one more time so important that the feelings of others are irrelevant to you?

    What I’m talking about is the lack of empathy — and the inability to recognize the consequences of one’s own actions.

    I would like to turn that back around to him, paraphrasing:

    To those who demand continued silence from all those who have long had to hold their tongue – “Have you no decency? Have you no shame?”

    In such circumstances, I would ask, “Why would you want to keep adding to the long-standing pain of their victims? What do you gain?”

    Or is your own self-righteous need to cling forever only to your blindered view of this person so important that the feelings of others are irrelevant to you?

    What I’m talking about is the lack of empathy — and the inability to recognize the consequences of one’s own actions.

    So I think that David Gerrold is painting a very one-sided picture – and is failing to see other, equally important sides. Which, in grief and mourning, may be perfectly understandable … but nevertheless not right, and certainly not ‘deft’.

  18. 5)

    “Or is your own self-righteous need to dredge up your own angers one more time so important that the feelings of others are irrelevant to you?
    What I’m talking about is the lack of empathy — and the inability to recognize the consequences of one’s own actions.”

    I’m not sure why one persons feelings of grief should outmatch another persons feelings of anger, sorrow or betrayal. Why should the grieving person be allowed to vent their feelings while at the same time demand the other should be quiet about theirs? That honestly feels like a lack of empathy.

    And it’s certainly not about “recognizing the consequences of one’s own actions” to demand that people should be quiet about the actions of a person, so there will be no consequences to the common memory of them.

    I only think there should be somewhat separate spaces for those who grieve and those with other feelings so they won’t intrude on each other. And that there are places where a person as a whole might be discussed.

  19. I know of a case where the injured party took pains to ensure that their posts on the subject would not be seen by the grieving parties at such a time.

    I think this is more relevant than any opinion I might have.

  20. Jeff Jones:

    “I know of a case where the injured party took pains to ensure that their posts on the subject would not be seen by the grieving parties at such a time.”

    Doesn’t help much if someone is taking screenshots and posting them somewhere else.

  21. There was a wrap up to the Sarah Connor Chronicles? Where? I’ve been muttering about it ending on a cliffhanger for about a decade.

  22. @Hampus Eckerman: In that case, the person reposting–without permission, I may add–is being demonic and the original poster has a right to be angry with them.

  23. Gerrold is quoting/referencing someone who told a famous and powerful person to stop lying and twisting things for his political agenda. It’s a powerful allusion, but misleading in a couple of ways:

    The people saying “yes, your friend was a good writer, but not a good person, and here’s why I think so” about Harlan aren’t continuing years of lying about Ellison for political reasons. “Stop slandering my friend” is very different from “don’t tell the truth about my friend where I might hear it.”

    Nor, as far as I know, are the people pointing out Ellison’s flaws trying to silence Ellison’s friends, prevent them from saying that he saved their lives. Gerrold is the one saying “it’s too soon to criticize my friend,” a year and a half after he died. If that’s “too soon,” when if ever would be reasonable? Saving Gerrold’s life doesn’t mean it was okay for Ellison to grope women in public and have it excused as “that’s just Harlan.”

    No, I don’t know what specific event in the last week Gerrold is trying to control the discussion of by invoking Ellison’s memory, if that isn’t an oddly phrased version of “stop repeating criticisms of my friend where you know I’ll see them.” But he’s doing his friend’s memory no favors by trying to use it to silence people.

  24. @Ctein

    It isn’t secret (might have even been covered in a Scroll – I’m a bit behind), but she’s already getting yapped at by Puppies so I’d rather not risk sending more her way (also, there’s something in one of the follow-up posts which I think would be unkind to put into this space, so I’m not going to do an extensive recap). Extremely brief summary: Someone posted about those SFWA Bulletin articles which Mike Resnick co-wrote back in 2013 and the fall-out from them.

  25. I believe the prohibition against speaking ill of the dead was originally instituted to end feuds and try to break cycles of revenge. And it can still serve that purpose today. Yes, this means that some people end up not having their grievances addressed and some people may get away with some stuff. That’s fine – its better than endless war. Close that book and focus on the problems happening today.

  26. I’m not clear on what David Gerrold and people of his viewpoint are asking for here. Should people not use their own personal online space to speak ill of the dead because word might get around to their grieving friends and admirers?

    On a hyperconnected medium the death of a well-known person is going to elicit a broad range of comment about that person positive and negative. I think it’s unreasonable to expect people in their own online personal spaces to say nothing critical because in other spaces there are public expressions of grief.

  27. @bookworm1398,

    fortunately, there’s no actual such “prohibition” – just a saying that keeps getting trotted out, usually by people who want to cover up that someone has not been the angel they would like to think they were.

    Sometimes, when someone or something is gone is the first time you can start to properly talk about bad things in their past. It may be the first time that they no longer wield the power to retaliate or silence those who speak up!

    Also, if that is the intent of the ‘prohibition’ – to prevent ongoing endless feuds and revenge – then really it applies when there’s some groupings of similar power that can continue on such a feud, and a rather strong connection between that feud, the revenges and the death(s) in question … otherwise there’s not really much of a feud and revenge going on, nor would ‘not talking ill about the dead’ really be breaking any cycle, would it?

    Consider when Nicolae Ceau?escu, dictator of Romania, was executed. He was executed precisely because of some of the things he had done, for which he was tried and found guilty and sentenced. Should that mean that suddenly, because he was now dead, people should no longer be allowed to talk about the very things that were the reason for his execution?

    The ‘prohibition’ against talking ill of the dead is just not applicable in general, and indeed it seems to be in many cases precisely the opposite of what needs to be done. So trotting it out as some kind of absolute, well, that suggests at the very least a lack of a wider perspective.

  28. The other thing to consider about Native land management is that from their own accounts the management was more aggressive in its own way than Europeans realized. For peoples such as the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) and other Northwest Plateau tribes (though the Nimiipuu are best documented and the people with which I am most familiar), seasonal movement was not a random thing but a return to maintained sources of food, based on when it came to fruition/appeared in the rivers as part of seasonal runs. Camas and huckleberry fields in particular (the two foods I am most familiar with) were managed for production, albeit with lower numbers of people.

    And seasonal movement for the Nimiipuu was a response to living in harsh mountain climates. When whites first came to the Wallowa Valley, the Nimiipuu thought they were silly for staying in this high mountain valley during harsh, snowy winters where temperatures can drop significantly below freezing. Sensible people retreated to the deep river canyons of the Imnaha and Snake Rivers where it was warmer, less snowy, and hunting and fishing were easier.

  29. (9) For whatever reason, I’ve always liked the title Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn and have long thought it deserves a better movie. Failing that, maybe someone could write a quality novelization that has nothing to do with the movie.

    Maybe Pixelscroll: The Appertainment of Item-Fifth.

  30. I am kind of sensitive about this subject of do not speak ill of the dead, think of mourners feelings. Just a bit more than a month ago, Swedens most famous pedophile died, a man who some saw as a part of the community I’m in even after he was convicted. Whom people I know suddenly met at parties as if he was just anyone. And when people wanted to discuss his death in forums, the friends appeared and appealed to us to think of their feelings, about how much he had helped them. It didn’t go well.

    I don’t think it is possible with blanket statements on how you should act when someone dies. It depends on the person involved, how public they were, what forum you chose, how strong your feelings are and so on.

  31. 9) Re: Metalstorm
    As I have mentioned before, it was the first movie I saw in a Theater…

  32. @Karl-Johan Norén: So modern land and forest management certainly can help in making forest fires worse, the main culprit is the extreme droughts and hot weather, especially when it lasts for several years in a row. That’s not clear to me, given that “several years in a row” contrasts with (IIUC) several decades of withheld management. ISTM this is a useful lesson in many fields: there are some things that have to be done steadily in order to be most effective, even if their benefit is visible mostly (only?) in extreme cases. Note that this does not mean that catching up on deferred maintenance is useless, provided one is not in the middle of a s**tstorm caused significantly by the lack of maintenance. It also does not mean (getting specific) that Morrison’s ignorant attitude toward climate change is excusable.

  33. 9) I have seen a salutory Clark Ashton Smith blurb from Gene Wolfe, which makes sense to me. Both Smith and Jack Vance seem to be big influences on Wolfe, As you might guess, I am a fan of Smith and really like his lyrical pre-modern prose.

  34. @Chip Hitchcock:

    The “traditional” land management could reduce the amount of readily flammable material on the ground, but it wouldn’t really have changed the dryness of the land and vegetation. And as firefighters in both California and Australia has mentioned, the fires behave very differently now than they used to.

    We can see something similar in Sweden. We have had industrialised forestry all over the country for a hundred years, more in the south, and the firefighting methods have been improved such that for a long time we hardly had any areas touched by forest fires. But we had a huge fire in 2014, 2018 had a large amount of forest fires that required extreme measures to contain, and 2019 was a worse year than 2018 in the amount of fires, though they were contained much more quickly.

  35. As I understood it, Mr. Gerrold was responding to people who felt the need to diminish the sorrow and grief felt by friends and family by adding their two cents to the posts grieving the loss.

  36. @Harold Osler–

    As I understood it, Mr. Gerrold was responding to people who felt the need to diminish the sorrow and grief felt by friends and family by adding their two cents to the posts grieving the loss.

    Someone posted her feelings in her own online space. Someone else took screenshots and passed them to CUL, who is blocked from her space due to previous bad behavior, and he then proceeded to demonstrate why he is blocked from so many spaces.

    David Gerrold is saying she shouldn’t have posted her own feelings in her own space, because people are still grieving. I.e., putting the blame on her, not CUL.

    This is apparently tied up, in some respects, with his continuing grief for the loss of Harlan Ellison, whom he apparently still feels should not be criticized for his bad behavior, and who has been dead for a year and a half. Harlan was a complicated and talented guy, who was capable of great acts of decency, kindness, generosity, and all around excellence, and also of extremely bad, harmful, hurtful behavior. And, sorry, David, but we all saw Harlan grope Connie’s breast, on state, at the Hugo Awards. People are going to talk about that, and his other bad conduct. They should. They should talk about the other bad things he did. And, people who experienced or knew of his good behavior, the kind, generous, constructive things he did, should also talk about them. They’re all a part of who he was, and how he made such a big impact on our community.

    And this is complicating Gerrold’s response to a more recent death in our community, someone with whom I had both good and bad interactions. Whom I think both well and ill of, as with Harlan Ellison.

    It was not the person posting about her own feelings who shoved it in the faces of those closest to the recent deceased, and disrespected their right to grieve. That was CUL, trying as always to make trouble.

  37. Karl-Johan Norén says The “traditional” land management could reduce the amount of readily flammable material on the ground, but it wouldn’t really have changed the dryness of the land and vegetation. And as firefighters in both California and Australia has mentioned, the fires behave very differently now than they used to.

    To be precise, it’s the top meter of matter that’s the problem as that’s where the fire lodges and becomes almost impossible to put out. You can look like you’ve put a fire on the surface of a forest or an open field only to have it suddenly regenerate hours or even days later as it’s hidden underground when it wasn’t seen when the visible aspect was being successfully fought.

    First Folk never, ever dealt with controlling with fires covering hundreds of square kilometres. If they burnt anything, it was far more localised as was the farming until recently in most of North America. It’s simply a myth that they did. A fire that large simply can’t be controlled without modern technology and as we can see even that is at best a difficult task.

    I am not going to get into the matter of burning large areas of forests to create agricultural land as some here aren’t going to like that that was the common practice in more than a few First Folk groups.

  38. (8) Not to be that guy, but Sir Cedric Hardwicke played the title role in The Ghost of Frankenstein… as the ghost of the scientist, Dr. Frankenstein. (The Monster isn’t a ghost in the film.)

  39. @bookworm1398 : I’ve seen another good reason for ‘nil nisi bonum’, and that it is that the deceased can’t defend themselves.

  40. John Scalzi wrote a post today that (in part) conveys the message that he expects and doesn’t care about any social media blackguarding that comes his way after he dies because, being dead, he’ll be beyond feeling any pain. I thought he rather self-centeredly missed the point, because the impetus for this discussion is the pain the surviving family members experience from having to see these posthumous attacks. Krissy or Athena will be the ones around to see it — not him.

    I thought Gerrold came closer to hitting the mark than I have been able to (thus the “deft” that was hurled back in my face), but I’m just going to have to add my own blundering effort by saying that (1) nothing really excommunicates anyone from the sff community, and (2) even divisive figures have loved ones and, sometimes, hundreds and hundreds of friends, and it’s quite decent to leave space in time to express their feelings rather than jump in to rehearse the wounds and grievances someone associates with the departed.

  41. Dear Dr. S,

    The inability of the dead to defend themselves is one of those observations that sounds profound but fails to stand to scrutiny. For one thing, the dead also don’t suffer any punishments for offenses that could not be successfully defended. They also are no longer likely to give a f*ck about reputation management (few postmortem belief systems do, aside from ancestor worship), so why should I?

    For another, as a purely practical matter… in the myriad reputation-fail cases we’ve seen over the past decade, how often has someone’s self-defensive protestations changed ANYBODY’S mind? Really.

    pax / Ctein

  42. Dear Mike,

    You missed this from John: “Also, I read this piece to Krissy, and she confirms that after I kick off, she will be spending exactly no time whatsoever giving a shit what anyone writes about me online or elsewhere, so, you know. Go nuts, kids. ”

    I won’t attempt to argue you out of the position that David came closer to hitting the mark than you could. But I doubt it — his post was exceedingly inappropriate and his example extraordinarily ill-chosen. You are a far more adept wordsmith than you give yourself credit for.

    We are all in agreement that one should not rub the Grieving’s nose in the Deceased’s failings. This is not what David argued. It may have been what he was thinking (I haven’t asked), but it was not anything like what he argued.

    Yes, divisive figures have loved ones, but this is not a game of summations. “A was very good to B” and “A was very bad to C” are not pluses and minuses in an equation. They are separate and independent. C’s experience does not make B’s invalid or unimportant, nor vice versa.

    Burying the sins with the sinner is only a good idea when the sins do not have genuine victims.


  43. Dear Meredith,

    Ah, thank you for clarifying. I didn’t know about the malicious-actor side-story (I don’t do social media) and so I was confused by the references to “she.” It had me wondering who besides Mike had died.

    pax / Ctein

  44. Ctein: Yeah, it was to be expected that would turn out to be the “Scalzi family rule” — and no, it’s not reasonable to think he can impose it on other people’s families where members already are saying publicly that sort of thing hurts them.

    By the way, in what way are you not attempting to argue me out of my opinion?

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