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.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • 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. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[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. Mike Glyer: 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.

    This is fine in theory. In reality, it results in someone who was harmed by the departed having to sit silently and be punched again and again by all of the public posts lionizing the departed, to go through all that hurt and pain over and over again. It prioritizes the feelings of the family members over the feelings of those who were harmed. This is not right, nor is it “empathetic”.

    It’s okay for those who were harmed to talk about the harm they experienced in their private spaces, and it’s unfair and selfish to demand that they not do so.

    And according to Gerrold, even a year and a half is not long enough for the people who were harmed to have to keep their mouths shut and just suck it up. So clearly there is no consensus on what “a decent space of time” is.

  2. Dear Mike,

    The opinion I am trying to argue you out of is that David’s post was deft or appropriate.

    Is it working [g]?

    (I took John’s column as descriptive, not prescriptive.)

    pax / Ctein

  3. JJ: This is fine in theory. In reality, it results in someone who was harmed by the departed having to sit silently and be punched again and again by all of the public posts lionizing the departed, to go through all that hurt and pain over and over again.

    There seem to me a series of flaws in this reasoning.

    It’s not true that a person MUST read the lionizing of the departed — any of it.

    It’s not true that the hypothetical people who have been harmed have sat quietly by — in Harlan’s case, or any other that we might be talking about from the past week. The damage and grievances have been repeatedly aired and are very well known. (In many cases, they’re discussed on this blog.)

    Rehearsing hurt and pain in Facebook posts the same day as someone’s death is announced does not magically create any kind of emotional insulation. All those feelings are real, however, the timing then becomes an insistence that they be immediately privileged to the exclusion of anyone else’s feelings, such as mourning family members. Even in the middle of a war truces are called to allow burial of the dead.

  4. Mike Glyer: It’s not true that a person MUST read the lionizing of the departed — any of it.

    It’s also not true that the family members and friends of the departed must read about the pain of those who were harmed — any of it.

    The difference is that the lionizing gets spread far and wide on public spaces, and those harmed are (at least in this case) restricting their comments to their own spaces. You want to prioritize the feelings of the family and friends such that those who were harmed can’t even speak in their own spaces.

    I will also point out that the reason Ellison’s misdeeds got mentioned in his obit on this site was because one of his supporters took it upon himself to insist on the File 770 obituary that anyone who had any issues with Ellison brought it on themselves. It’s one thing to speak positively about one’s own experiences with the departed. It’s quite another to slap those who were victims with the insistence that it was their own fault, and then expect them to remain silent and take it.

  5. Having just had a quick look to check, it seems Laura has been seeing post(s) from social media friends criticising her father – and that, to me, is really quite cruel and unacceptable. That’s not keeping it in your own space.

    @Mike Glyer

    I think the Harlan Ellison example was unfortunate; I don’t think I agree with an, I don’t know, “wait a week before criticising the recently deceased” rule, but it would be, I think, a very reasonable stance to take. I could see myself coming around to agreeing with it. But bringing Harlan Ellison into it makes that “wait more than a year and a half before criticising the deceased” and that edges pretty far into unacceptable expectation of suppression of pain.

    Of course, part of the problem is that grief never really stops, so how do you choose a timeframe? Is it really better to hear it a day after? A week? A year? I’ve been grieving my whole life for a sister I never got to meet – I used to qualify that with “of course that isn’t the same as grieving for someone you know“ but now I have grieved for more than one someone I knew and honestly, it doesn’t feel that different. With no timer on grief, I’ve never been able to figure out anything I’m happier with than “keep it out of the mourning spaces, keep it out of the faces of those who grieve, and otherwise do what you have to” – because there’s never going to be a good time, and expecting infinite silence isn’t fair. It’s not perfect, though. I don’t think it’s wrong to want a brief uninterrupted mourning period. Just… not a year and a half’s worth.

  6. @Mike Glyer–

    It’s not true that a person MUST read the lionizing of the departed — any of it.

    For the very prominent members of our community, who have done both lots of good and lots of harm, it can be harder than you seem to be acknowledging to avoid seeing the lionizing.

    It’s not true that the hypothetical people who have been harmed have sat quietly by — in Harlan’s case, or any other that we might be talking about from the past week. The damage and grievances have been repeatedly aired and are very well known. (In many cases, they’re discussed on this blog.)

    In Harlan’s case, of course, we’ve had outright and energetic denials of something we all watched happen, live, either in person or in live streaming.

    Rehearsing hurt and pain in Facebook posts the same day as someone’s death is announced does not magically create any kind of emotional insulation. All those feelings are real, however, the timing then becomes an insistence that they be immediately privileged to the exclusion of anyone else’s feelings, such as mourning family members. Even in the middle of a war truces are called to allow burial of the dead.

    Someone posting on their own Facebook page, in particular, should be pretty easy for those who loved the deceased to avoid, especially in the immediate aftermath of the death, when they are presumably rather busy. This is especially true, of course, of a private, locked post. Nor is it any way the fault of the poster if a a friend violates that trust, sends screenshots to CUL, and CUL then posts them where the bereaved are sure to see them. That’s a really sucky thing to do, but it’s not the original poster who did it, and the blame should be put where it belongs.

    Also, you refer to “the same day,” by David Gerrold is saying a year and a half isn’t enough time, and it is still “too soon” for anyone to speak ill of his good friend Harlan. When will enough time have past? No, sorry, if one is claiming a year and a half later is “too soon” to be discussing any harm done by the deceased, even in one’s own private online spaces, that’s just nuts. You may intend something far more reasonable, but what David Gerrold said in that post is just plain nuts.

    One shouldn’t speak ill of the recently deceased to their family and close friends, or in spaces where you know they’re going to see it. That doesn’t translate to an essentially permanent ban on anyone saying anything negative anywhere, including in private spaces, lest someone betray your trust and rush to tell the family you said Mean Things.

    No, at some reasonable period of time after, and at any time in our private spaces, we have to be able to discussed the deceased, in ways that aren’t artificially constrained.

    Especially when, as in Harlan’s case, his most famous act of bad behavior is the most famous because he did it on stage during the livestreaming of the Hugos.

  7. JJ: The difference is that the lionizing gets spread far and wide on public spaces, and those harmed are (at least in this case) restricting their comments to their own spaces. You want to prioritize the feelings of the family and friends such that those who were harmed can’t even speak in their own spaces.

    You’ve got me. How can we know people are free to say true things about themselves unless they can do it whenever the impulse strikes them. Unfortunately, my Facebook feed is populated by the things my “friends” write “in their own spaces”. Thus their space is superimposed on my space. They do, in fact, intend for me and large numbers of other people to read it.

  8. Dear Mike,

    “Rehearsing…” okay, you’ve used that word twice, so it wasn’t an unintentional mistake, as I assumed.

    That’s highly inappropriate — it implies that legitimate grievances are not sincere and heartfelt, that they are disingenuous theater. If you want to say “repeat,” fine. “Rehearse” is very much not.

    So, you assert there is too soon and there is too late. Pray tell, define the appropriate time window for criticizing the deceased?

    Flogging a certain dead horse… Harlan has been gone for a year and a half but I know firsthand of serious misdeeds on his part whose victims have not yet chosen to go public with them. Maybe their choice is to never do so. Maybe they are waiting for circumstances that make it pertinent. Maybe door number three. It’s up to them, not you.

    Nor is it up to you to declare the books are to be closed after time interval X. You lack standing in the matter.

    pax
    Ctein

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

  9. Lis Carey: This is especially true, of course, of a private, locked post

    No, just no.

    How in the fuck would I be reading “private, locked” posts in my feed?

  10. Ctein: That’s highly inappropriate — it implies that legitimate grievances are not sincere and heartfelt, that they are disingenuous theater. If you want to say “repeat,” fine. “Rehearse” is very much not.

    Oh, bullshit. This is a very common tactic, to try and deny people language to express their thoughts as a means of telling them to shut up.

  11. Dear Mike,

    No, I’m calling bullshit on you, for choosing, intentionally, words that denigrate the motives of the aggrieved.

    Don’t try to turn this around, it doesn’t fly.

    When I mean to tell you to shut up, I’ll do so in very clear language, no oblique thrusts, have no worries about that.

    pax / Ctein

  12. @Mike Glyer–

    How in the fuck would I be reading “private, locked” posts in my feed?

    At least one instance has involved someone taking screenshots of private, locked posts, and sending them to CUL, who then shared them rather more widely than intended.

    As for what your friends post that winds up in your Facebook news feed, you have several options, of which the most obvious ones are to unfollow them for a while, or explain to the friend that this is hurtful at this time, and could they please exclude you from the audience for those kinds of posts. In extreme cases, because if they won’t agree to exclude you from the readership for those posts, unfriending,whether just on Facebook or more comprehensively, might be appropriate, because that would then be intentionally hurtful behavior, not just failing to realize who’s reading or how they feel about the recently deceased person.

  13. Ctein: No, I’m calling bullshit on you, for choosing, intentionally, words that denigrate the motives of the aggrieved.

    See, this is why I didn’t take it seriously when you wrote “You are a far more adept wordsmith than you give yourself credit for.” I knew it was only a disingenuous prelude to claims that I hadn’t expressed myself in a way you approve.

    And thus we return to one of Mike’s earliest lessons in fanwriting (circa 1976) which is that after two fans have called bullshit on each other, nothing has been settled.

  14. Does anyone know who sent the screen shots? That’s like “giving a loaded gun to an idiot”, as an old SF story put it. I hope that person has been blocked etc.

  15. Dear Mike,

    You are playing process games, trying to avoid addressing the substance, which is that you intentionally chose a word that denigrates the feelings of the victims.

    I called you on that.

    Tell me that you didn’t mean it to be read that way and I’ll believe you and that it was merely a bit of maladroit writing. Being an adept wordsmith doesn’t mean you’re a perfect one. None of us are.

    But own your f*cking words, forgodsakes.

    pax / Ctein

  16. Jeff Jones: Does anyone know who sent the screen shots? That’s like “giving a loaded gun to an idiot”, as an old SF story put it. I hope that person has been blocked etc.

    Several people posted screenshots on CUL’s wall, and as they did, they were blocked; but then I think they got sneaky and whoever was still taking screenshots was passing them on to someone else to post.

  17. @JJ: “Several people posted screenshots on CUL’s wall… “

    Youch, that sounds like an epidemic of demonic possession!

  18. So, I was originally under the impression that this was more or less about one person’s post, but I’m getting the idea now that in fact there have been a number of people posting, some of whom have been a lot less careful about keeping things away from mourning spaces, and do not have the excuse that people were taking their post and spreading it outside of its intended audience.

    (I posted above about a time I decided my space wasn’t sufficiently separate, so that’s the standard I’m applying here.)

    I’m… not nearly as okay with that. That’s not making an effort to consider the feelings of those who grieve. I don’t consider it reasonable to privilege grieving over other forms of hurt, but equally I don’t consider it reasonable to privilege other forms of hurt over grieving. If there’s been as much crossing of the streams as it now sounds: No, that’s not okay. If you can’t keep it in your own space and as far as is reasonable away from mourners (absent malicious actors spreading it elsewhere) then you should, at the very least, wait a day. Because the people you’ll be hurting aren’t the ones who deserve it.

    (A year and a half is still well over the line, though, that’s not a fair expectation for people to abdicate their own right to express their pain in their own spaces. However difficult that segregation is to achieve in a world of social media.)

  19. Ctein: You are playing process games, trying to avoid addressing the substance, which is that you intentionally chose a word that denigrates the feelings of the victims.

    I’m not willing to live inside your cage of pejoratives. The people who are writing on Facebook have agency. They can choose when to express themselves, when to once again write about wounds and grievances they have shared before. That I have empathized with and taken seriously those expressions in the past doesn’t preclude my empathizing with friends and family members of the deceased, or prevent me from looking for ways to mediate between the two with less distress and harm.

  20. Meredith: I’m getting the idea now that in fact there have been a number of people posting, some of whom have been a lot less careful about keeping things away from mourning spaces

    Not speaking about David Gerrold or Harlan, but a different example — the impression I got is that (1) one person set up a subgroup of their FB friends excluding a family member of the deceased, with the idea of avoiding offense, while (2) another person just bagged on the deceased in a public post, and (3) a third person referenced (without quoting) the first. And those are just the ones I saw. But I also read the FB posts of the family member, and am guessing they suffered from having the “helpful” kind of friend who has to make sure they know the things being said. And that’s all without even looking at CUL. (Who has said publicly on more than one occasion how much he’s looking forward to writing my obituary — and you can imagine how pleasant that will be.)

  21. @Cmm

    CUL = Lou Antonelli.

    @Mike Glyer

    No-one whose opinion is worth valuing is going to listen to or believe a single solitary word that any Puppy writes about you at any point.

    I’m not going to criticise a post solely for being public, so long as there was a reasonable expectation on the part of the person who posted it that anyone they knew would be mourning wouldn’t see it (i.e. they aren’t mutual facebook friends with family members or those they knew were close friends). But it seems that people who should have known better, who were mutual facebook friends, were posting without taking steps to protect people from harm, and that’s not something I’m happy about at all. It’s one thing not to wait, it’s quite another to do that.

  22. Dear Meredith,

    Lou Antonelli?

    Oh.

    OH!

    Now David’s post makes sense to me. We’ve discussed CUL. I know what he’s doing and why he’s doing it In that fashion.

    I think Harlan was an unfortunately poor choice as an example. It muddied David’s point and made it into a situation of spraying an entire crowd with buckshot instead of pointing his rhetorical gun solely at the intended target.

    (It might also be that David is of the old school that deeply and sincerely believes that one NEVER speaks ill of the dead. I know people like that, and it’s not because they lack sympathy for victims but because they sincerely feel that behavior is beyond the pale. Much the same way they would never consider it okay to physically assault someone, no matter how much they were provoked.)

    pax / Ctein

  23. Ctein: Now David’s post makes sense to me. We’ve discussed CUL. I know what he’s doing and why he’s doing it In that fashion.

    No, you don’t understand. CUL is not saying anything against the deceased person. He is re-posting the harmed person’s private posts and championing the deceased person. Gerrold is likely seeing the harmed person’s private posts on CUL’s wall, on posts which CUL has deliberately set to be shared with friends of the deceased person.

  24. @Ctein

    There’s so many dead people who absolutely deserve speaking ill of that once you work your way down from them to find the point where you oughtn’t speak ill you’re just trying to rank harm against harm, which makes me feel rather icky. I can understand the thought behind it, but I can’t agree with it as a general principle.

    @JJ

    I’m sure Antonelli thinks of it as championing, but I’m not sure I consider deliberately tormenting someone’s loved ones to be championing them.

    (Not criticising you, just… who does that?! Antonelli, apparently, who has yet to find a depth he won’t sink to…)

  25. Dear JJ,

    Pronoun confusion, weak writing. I didn’t mean I knew what CUL was doing (other than being awful), I knew what David was doing.

    Clear now?

    ~~~~

    Dear Meredith,

    I am personally with you on this, on practically every point you’ve made. I’m hypothesizing that David may not be of our persuasion. I don’t, in fact, know.

    I’ve a good friend who is a devout Buddhist. The %&^$! they think it is ethically obligatory to put up with astounds me.

    pax / Ctein

  26. @Mike With friends like those, we don’t need enemies.

    The person who comes to me and says “So-and-so said you’re [expletive deleted]” isn’t doing me a favor, they’re calling me [expletive], to my face.

    If they really think I need to know that $person is calling me names, OK, then they can tell me, literally, “that person is calling you names on Facebook,” and wait for me to decide whether I want to hear any more about it. Depending on the circumstances, I might not thank them for telling me even that much. Among other things, can I believe that report? When Friend A tells me that Friend B has been bad-mouthing me, that might be true, or it might mean that A is trying to hurt B’s reputation, or both.

  27. To clarify: I am online quite a lot since my father died because there are many messages, social media posts, and emails arriving daily, and I’m dealing with a lot of it. I was also scrolling through my regular Facebook feed (and also my father’s) for several days, so I could thank or acknowledge people who posted fond memories or kind words or their photos him, and so I could FWD links to my mom with recollections that I knew would comfort her. She wants to think of him as he was in happiness and health, and the photos and reminiscences people have been posting help her do that.

    In the course of this, in the space of an hour or so, I came across several posts in my own Facebook feed, posted by people who were my Facebook “friends,” which instead talked about how much they despised my father. (The term ‘friend” is misused by Facebook, of course. None of these posts were by people who are friends of mine; they’re professional acquaintances or total strangers.) Other people added their comments on those posts, opining on what a jerk they thought or assumed my dad was. One poster was glad he’s dead, another conveyed offensive factual falsehoods about him. And so on.

    I gather some people think I’m a frilly princess for this, but it bothered me to come across such comments in my own FB feed.

    So I “unfriended” & blocked, and then I posted on my FB wall that if you’re my FB “friend” and post similar views about my recently-deceased father, please have the decency to “unfriend” me first so that I don’t keep stumbling across this stuff in my own FB feed. And if you don’t, I’ll certainly “unfriend” and block you when I see you discussing my late father this way, because why WOULDN’T I?

    David Gerrold and others saw that post, and they wrote posts of their own about it. And then, in some cases, they wrote additional posts with further thoughts about bereavement, social media, communication, etc.

    I can tell from the discussion here that there’s a bunch of other, separate stuff going on. David and/or others might also be alluding to some of that. I don’t know. I haven’t come across it myself, fortunately.

  28. For what it’s worth, I personally had a very bad experience with Jerry Pournelle when I was a broke teenager working at a Worldcon for my badge.

    When the Jerry Pournelle obit thread went up here on File770 the day he died, I seriously considered posting my experience… and then decided it was not the time or place, because his close friends and family were likely to be pointed to that thread and it would not do either me or them any good to shove that anecdote in front of their faces right after they’d lost him. I have posted about it, later, in other threads. Just not that one, at that time.

    But I was not done serious harm; I was annoyed and a little frightened, and I never bought another book by him again… but I wasn’t harmed in any lasting way.

    I don’t know what a hard and fast rule should be, here, honestly. I don’t know that there CAN be a hard and fast rule. People are complicated, and sometimes people are jerks. (Sometimes, far worse than merely jerks.) Both living and deceased.

    I agree that in the actual obit thread on the day of someone’s death is not the time or the place to call the deceased out, unless they had done truly serious, lasting harm. I also agree that a year and a half is far too long to not speak (truthful) ill of the dead.

  29. @Laura Resnick, my sincere condolences on the death of your father. For what it’s worth, I used to chat with him online at Compuserve back ten or fifteen years ago (where we called him “Bwana”) and in person at Windycon, and he was always a perfectly charming, friendly, personable gentleman.

  30. @Laura Resnick–I am very sorry for the loss of your father, and also that people were so lost to a sense of decency that made hostile comments about him on your own page. That’s shameful behavior.

  31. Laura Resnick, incredibly sad to hear your story. Now Gerrold’s point becomes much clearer. My condolences.

  32. Laura, my condolences to you and your mother on the loss of your father. And I am so, so sorry that people did not have the grace to ensure that their posts did not appear in your timeline.

    I had a fair bit of correspondence with your dad over the years. Due to massive differences in our worldviews, our conversations were mainly limited to discussions of science fiction and fantasy. I’m a night owl, and e-mails sent late at night would receive almost instantaneous replies, such that I wondered whether he ever slept. I sassed him a lot, which I think he liked, because he kept sending me free e-book copies of his works — almost his entire back catalog — some of which touched me deeply, and all of which were enjoyable. I will always remember him for his kindness to me, and for the fact that he interacted with me on a genuine, person-to-person basis rather than as a Big Name Author to a Nobody Fan.

    I hope that your good memories, and those of others, will provide you with some comfort at this time. ❤

  33. Laura, I am sorry for your loss.

    General commentary, (I don’t think any of it likely to harm the grieving, but putting up a dividing line to allow for a choice):

    I’ve been on the periphery of this, being both friended by Laura and at least one person whose post she saw by error. (The critical post made a point of not mentioning its subject by name, but even the poster ceded that they should have thought to use a filter. It is also one where, while the post itself was measured, an ugly falsehood was brought up in the comments, and while it was debunked and the actual facts explained by others within the thread, it could leave an even more sour taste.)

    My knowledge of the deceased being limited to enjoying several of his books and stories, reading Laura’s occasional comments upon her family, and distantly witnessing the SFWA bulletin controversy, my choice was to stay out of all sides.

    I have not yet been well convinced one should not speak ill of the dead for all the reasons Meredith and Ctein ahve tried to mention. However, I AM convinced doing so directly to the grieving is almost never appropriate (And the “almost” is limited to such things as mass murder, or abuse where the grieving were participants or enablers)

    AND we need to be more careful on social media as to what would constitute “Directly to”.

  34. Apparently, in the mundane world, one should wait more than just a few hours before speaking ill of those who have passed, lest one receives death threats and is suspended from one’s job.

  35. I do not think anyone should draw any conclusions of what is acceptable in the mundane world based on how many death threats a woman receives on Twitter.

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