Pixel Scroll 1/19/19 Pixelation, Mr. AllScroll, Is What We Are Put In This File To Rise Above

(1) ARISIA. As of Friday at 11 p.m. Boston sff convention Arisia reported 2,873 members.

The Arisia 2019 Souvenir Book is available online, and includes Jenn Jumper’s heartwarming writeup about Fan GoH’s Bjo and John Trimble.

(2) DRESSING UP THE LOCATIONS IN GEORGIA. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson has been scanning the media for news of Spielberg’s namesake TV show which is now in production.  He found this report in a in the Morgan County (GA) Citizen: “Hollywood sets eyes on Bostwick”

A new filming project is sweeping through Morgan County this week for a reboot television series of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi/horror “Amazing Stories,” with shooting locations in Rutledge, Bostwick and right outside of Madison. 

Filming begin on Monday, Jan 14 off Highway 83 outside of Madison and then moved to Bostwick, behind the Cotton Jin on Mayor John Bostwick’s farm. Downtown Rutledge is getting a full makeover this week for the filming project, which will shoot on Friday, Jan 18 and run into the wee hours of Saturday, Jan 19. Rutledge’s iconic gazebo underwent a paint job for the filming, and on Wednesday, Jan. 16, crews began covering the intersection of Fairplay Road and Main Street with dirt. 

(3) GETTING BETTER. The second story in The Verge’s “Better Worlds” project has been posted — “Online Reunion” by Leigh Alexander.

As an alternative to the text, you can listen to the audio adaptation of “Online Reunion” at Apple PodcastsPocket Casts, or Spotify.

The Verge also has “A Q&A with the author” where “Leigh Alexander discusses the world of ‘Online Reunion’ and the ‘compelling, fascinating, beautiful, terrifying car crash of humanity and technology.’”

In “Online Reunion,” author Leigh Alexander imagines a world in which a young journalist is struggling with a compulsive “time sickness,” so she sets out to write a tearjerker about a widow reconnecting with her dead husband’s e-pet — but she finds something very different waiting for her in the internet ether. A self-described “recovering journalist” with a decade of experience writing about video games and technology, Alexander has since branched out into fiction, including an official Netrunner book, Monitor, and narrative design work for games like Reigns: Her Majesty and Reigns: Game of Thrones.

The Verge spoke with Alexander about finding joy and connection online, preserving digital history, and seeing the mystical in the technological.

(4) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the series’ January 16 event.

Victor LaValle and Julie C. Day entertained a huge audience with their readings. Victor read from a new novella and Julie read two of her short stories.

(5) THE FIRST DOESN’T LAST. Critics say they made Mars boring: “‘The First’ Canceled at Hulu After One Season”.

In his review for Variety, Daniel D’Addario wrote:

“After the initial statement of purpose, though, the show falls victim to both pacing problems and a certain lopsidedness. A show like this, with title and premise centered around what it would mean to be a pioneer on a new planet, encourages an excited sort of stargazing; that quite so much of it is spent exploring Hagerty’s family crisis saps the energy and spirit from a show that should have both in spades.”

(6) BRADBURY OBIT. Bettina Bradbury, Ray Bradbury’s daughter, died January 13 at the age of 64 announced the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum on Facebook.

Her son, Danny Karapetian, wrote on Facebook 1/13/19, “It is my very sad duty to report that my Mom Bettina passed away this morning. “She was an indefatigable force of nature, a talented and decorated writer, and a loving mother, sister, and friend to everyone she knew. I know how much she cared about all of you, and how much you all loved her.”

Quoting Jonathan Eller, Ph.D., Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, “Bettina was herself a successful writer, achieving great success on daytime TV dramas Santa Barbara (1987-1993), All My Children (1995-2003), Days of Our Lives (2007), and others. She won several Emmy Awards and Writers Guild of America Awards, and earned yet more nominations.”

SoapHub paid tribute: “Longtime Soap Opera Scribe Dies At 64”.

…Daughter of famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, known mostly for his stunning novel Fahrenheit 451, and Marguerite McClure, Bradbury proved that the writing gene can be passed down. She studied Film/History at USC School of Cinematic Arts

NBC’s Santa Barbara was her first soap writing team in the early 1990s. She also wrote for both All My Children (and won three Daytime Emmys) and One Life to Live on ABC and later worked on Days of Our Lives, also for NBC.

(7) DAVIES OBIT. [By Steve Green.] Windsor Davies (1930-2019): British actor, died January 17, aged 88. Genre appearances include The Corridor People (one episode, 1966), Adam Adamant Lives! (one episode, 1967), Doctor Who (three episodes, 1967),  Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), UFO (one episode, 1970), The Guardians (one episode, 1971), The Donation Conspiracy (two episodes, 1973), Alice in Wonderland (one episode, 1985), Terrahawks (voice role, 39 episodes, 1983-86), Rupert and the Frog Song (1985), Gormenghast (two episodes, 2000).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 19, 1809Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve got several several sources that cite him as a early root of SF. Anyone care to figure that out? Be that as it may, he certainly wrote some damn scary horror — ones that I still remember are “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” (Died 1849.)
  • Born January 19, 1930 Tippi Hedren, 89. Melanie Daniels In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the shit out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s HarvestTales from the DarksideThe Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series
  • Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 87. Director best known for his 1980s Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the MoonRobin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film ever, and an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name. 
  • Born January 19, 1981Bitsie Tulloch, 38. Her main role of interest to us was as Juliette Silverton/Eve in Grimm. She also has played Lois Lane in the recent Elseworlds episodes of this Arrowverse season. However I also found her in R2-D2: Beneath the Dome, a fan made film that use fake interviews, fake archive photos, film clips, and behind-the-scenes footage to tell early life of that droid. You can see it and her in it here.

(9) DRAWN TO POE. Crimereads celebrates the author’s birthday with “The 25 Most Terrifyingly Beautiful Edgar Allan Poe Illustrations”. Harry Clarke and Gustav Doré are heavily represented.

Since it’s the season for basking in all things dreadful, we decided to round up twenty-five of the greatest illustrations ever made for Poe’s work. Some are more terrifying, others more beautiful, but all fall somewhere on the spectrum of terrifyingly beautiful, and we can’t stop looking at them, just as we can’t stop reading the works of the great Edgar Allan Poe.

(10) FAUX POES. Emily Temple undertakes “A Brief and Incomplete Survey of Edgar Allan Poes in Pop Culture” for LitHub readers.

What’s the first image that pops into your head when you think of Edgar Allan Poe? Is it this ubiquitous one? Maybe it’s that snapshot of your old roommate from Halloween 2011, when she tied a fake bird to her arm and knocked everyone’s champagne glasses over with it. (Just me?) Or is it an image of Poe in one of his many pop culture incarnations? You wouldn’t be alone.

After all, Poe pops up frequently in contemporary culture—somewhat more frequently than you might expect for someone who, during his lifetime, was mostly known as a caustic literary critic, even if he did turn out to be massively influential. I mean, it’s not like you see a ton of Miltons or Eliots running around. So today, on the 210th anniversary of Poe’s birth, I have compiled a brief and wildly incomplete selection of these appearances. Note that I’ve eliminated adaptations of Poe’s works, and focused on cameos and what we’ll call “faux Poes.” Turns out it isn’t just my old roommate—lots of people really love to dress up as Edgar Allan Poe.

First on the list:

1949: Ray Bradbury, “The Exiles,” published in The Illustrated Man

As you probably know, Poe’s work has been massively influential on American literature. In a 1909 speech at the Author’s Club in London, Arthur Conan Doyle observed that “his tales were one of the great landmarks and starting points in the literature of the last century . . . each is a root from which a whole literature has developed. . . Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” But it’s not just his work—Poe as a figure has infiltrated a number of literary works, including this early Bradbury story, in which Poe (along with Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare) is living on Mars, and slowly withering away as humans on Earth burn his books. The symbolism isn’t exactly subtle, but hey.

(11) SHUFFLING OFF THIS MORTAL COIL. Here’s something to play on a cold winter’s night — Arkham Horror: The Card Game.

The boundaries between worlds have drawn perilously thin…

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative Living Card Game® set amid a backdrop of Lovecraftian horror. As the Ancient Ones seek entry to our world, one to two investigators (or up to four with two Core Sets) work to unravel arcane mysteries and conspiracies.

Their efforts determine not only the course of your game, but carry forward throughout whole campaigns, challenging them to overcome their personal demons even as Arkham Horror: The Card Game blurs the distinction between the card game and roleplaying experiences.

(12) NO APRIL FOOLIN’. There’s a trailer out for Paramount’s Pet Sematary remake —

Sometimes dead is better…. In theatres April 5, 2019. Based on the seminal horror novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his unusual neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences.

(13) 1943 RETRO HUGO ADVICE. DB has written a post on works by Mervyn Peake, Lord Dunsany, C.S. Lewis, and Charles WIlliams eligible for the Retros this year. It begins with an illustration —

This is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, as drawn by Mervyn Peake. Vivid, isn’t it? Peake’s illustrated edition of the Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was published by Chatto and Windus in 1943, and is the first reason you should consider nominating Peake for Best Professional Artist of 1943,1 for the Retro-Hugos 1944 (works of 1943) are being presented by this year’s World SF Convention in Dublin. (The book might also be eligible for the special category of Best Art Book, for while it’s not completely a collection of visual art, the illustrations were the point of this new edition of the classic poem.)

Though remembered now mostly for his Gormenghast novels, Peake was primarily an artist. He had in fact 3 illustrated books published in 1943, and all three of them were arguably fantasy or sf.2

(14) F&SF FICTION TO LOVE. Standback took to Twitter to cheer on F&SF with a round-up of his favorite stories from the magazine in 2018. The thread starts here.

(15) RARE BOOKS LA. Collectors will swarm to Pasadena on February 1-2 for this event —

Rare Books LA is a book fair that features more than 100 leading specialists in rare books, fine prints, photography, ephemera, maps, and more from throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. This prestigious event takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Exhibitors

Rare Books LA will compromise of numerous exhibitors. There will be 60+ exhibitors that come from around the world to showcase their rare books. Expect to discover exhibitors who also showcase photography and fine prints. To view the list of exhibitors, click here.

(16) ORIGINAL SWINGERS. CNN reports “‘Missing link’ in human history confirmed after long debate”.

Early humans were still swinging from trees two million years ago, scientists have said, after confirming a set of contentious fossils represents a “missing link” in humanity’s family tree.

The fossils of Australopithecus sediba have fueled scientific debate since they were found at the Malapa Fossil Site in South Africa 10 years ago.

And now researchers have established that they are closely linked to the Homo genus, representing a bridging species between early humans and their predecessors, proving that early humans were still swinging from trees 2 million years ago.

(17) MOON PICTURES. The Farmer’s Almanac will show you “The Oldest Moon Photo”.

On the night of September 1, 1849, the nearly full Moon appeared over the town of Canandaigua, New York. At 10:30 P.M., Samuel D. Humphrey slid a highly polished, silver-plated copper sheet measuring 2–¾x1–¾ inches into his camera, which was pointed at the Moon.

Humphrey then exposed the light-sensitive plate to the shining Moon nine times, varying the length of exposure from 0.5 seconds to 2 minutes. After developing the plate with mercury vapor, he sent his daguerreotype to Harvard College.

Louis Daguerre, the Frenchman who explained the secret of the world’s first photographic technique in 1839, had daguerreotyped a faint image of the Moon, but the plate was soon lost in a fire. John W. Draper of New York City is credited with making the first clear daguerreotype of the Moon in March 1840, but this also was destroyed in a fire.

(18) THE LONG AND GRINDING ROAD. In “NASA eyes gaping holes in Mars Curiosity wheel” Cnet shares the images.

The rough and rocky landscape of Mars continues to take a toll on the wheels of NASA’s Curiosity rover. As part of a routine checkup, Curiosity snapped some new images of its wheels this week. 

Most of the photos don’t look too alarming, but one in particular shows some dramatic holes and cracks in the aluminum. 

(19) GLASS EXIT. If you left the theater in a haze, Looper wants to help you out:

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

39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/19/19 Pixelation, Mr. AllScroll, Is What We Are Put In This File To Rise Above

  1. (13) 1943 RETRO HUGO ADVICE.

    I wouldn’t have thought that the WSFS rules for Special One-Time Category allowed it to be a category for the Retro Hugos as well, but they’ve got it on the ballot, so they must have decided they could do it.

  2. 8) Two of Richard Lester’s most interesting, if lesser known movies are also SFF, namely How I Won the War from 1967 and The Bed Sitting Room from 1969.

    How I Won the War is an anti-war film about a British regiment and their inept commander in WWII. What makes it genre is that the soldiers (one of them played by John Lennon) continue fighting even after death.

    However, what first made me seek out this movie is that key scenes were shot in my area. Some of them were shot on the Bergen NATO training ground and the final scenes feature the Uesen Bridge, a bridge across the river Weser and local landmark, pretending to be the Rhine bridge of Remagen. When the film was shot here at the height of Beatlemania, it caused a huge excitement and a lot of locals were extras.

    The Bed Sitting Room is IMO the more interesting of the two movies. It’s black comedy set in the UK after a nuclear war full of absurd scenes such as a couple and their 17-month-pregnant daughter (not a typo) riding the Central Line for three years or the BBC being represented by a single news reader who dashed from place to place and reads out the news in empty TV sets. Marty Feldman is the NHS (all of it) and the queen is now one Mrs. Ethel Shoake of Leytonstone, because she happened to be closest in succession to the throne among the survivors.

    It’s dark and hilarious at the same time and somehow the perfect counterpoint to serious British nuclear war films like Threads and The War Game and their Americam cousins The Day After, Testament and On the Beach.

    And while we’re on the subject of Richard Lester and John Lennon, I’d also count Help! as genre adjacent, because there aren’t really cultists running around Britain, trying to sacrifice Ringo Starr to the goddess Kali.

    Help! was one of the few videos my highschool had in its collection. Teacher liked showing during the last lesson before the holidays, so I must have seen it five or six times. However, Help! is longer than even a double school lesson, so I’ve never seen the end. I’m pretty sure they don’t sacrifice Ringo Starr, though, because he’s still alive, one of only two Fab Four.

  3. I’d also count Help! as genre adjacent
    Also they shrink Ringo – that’s even more genre-adjacent!

  4. OH BOY I GET TO CORRECT SOMEBODY

    Well, actually it was Paul who got shrunk. They missed Ringo, and anyway all those guys look alike.

    THAT WAS FUN I HOPE SOMEBODY ELSE MAKES A MISTAKE

  5. @OlavRokne: That’s spelled Disch. I have the book around somewhere but I’m having a hard time remembering the details of his argument— it seems to me that it didn’t have to do so much with scientific content (although arguably “M. Valdemar” is about science, regardless of how nonsensical the science is) but rather a sort of attitude that Disch associated with SF, sort of a tall-tale quality or a complicity with the reader in pretending the world is other than it is… or something like that. I often found it hard to follow his reasoning in that book.

  6. @Cora Buhlert — I’d forgotten that The Bed-Sitting Room was Lester’s. I don’t know whether to call it SF or F considering the ending, but it’s certainly genre from when genre on film was much less common.

    double fifth!

  7. 8) Well, there is this Poe-tale about a man trying to fly to the moon in a balloon (I’m not talking about the ba?loon-hoax). I’ll take a look and see if I can find it.

  8. And The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is definitely genre.

    And turns out I was talking about The Balloon-Hoax.

  9. (8) The case for Poe as a progenitor of SF is clearly made by his novella “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” (originally titled “Hans Phaall—A Tale”). The science is clearly nonsense, but Poe’s undoubtedly science fictional way of thinking is revealed in his notes following the story (I’ve seen them, but they may of course not be appended in all texts).

    And anyway, there’s a book called The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe.

  10. Aaah, yes, it was Hans Pfaal I was thinking of! I got confused when I checked out the Balloon-Hoax and got almost the same story. I think I will have to stop commenting now or I will change my mind again.

  11. While I was unaware of her participation, my undying love for Santa Barbara makes me mourn her passing.
    RIP Bettina Bradbury.

  12. Learning that Ray Bradbury’s daughter wrote for Days of Our Lives made me wonder if it was she who set John de Lancie’s character Eugene blasting away into oblivion after inventing a time machine — until I checked the dates and saw that he vanished in a flash of light years before she started writing for them. Of course, with time travel anything is possible, I suppose.

  13. 8. R2-D2 Beneath the Dome was not a fan-made film. It was written and directed by Don Bies, who has been an employee of both Lucasfilms and Industrial Light and Magic and who has also worked on visual effects in many other films. He recently produced an excellent short horror film, Keep the Gaslight Burning, which has won a few awards and is available on Amazon Prime. I met Don when he was a teenager doing make-up and special effects in a number of community theater shows in Chicago, including Dracula in which I played the Count. His first job with Lucasfilms was working at the Lucasfilm archives, then a large anonymous warehouse in Santa Clara, California. I visited him when he was working there. He has the honor of asking me the stupidest question anyone has ever asked me. “Alan, I have to spend the whole day working at the archives. Would you like to come with?” I also got to visit ILM and Skywalker Ranch. A vacation I’ll never forget.

  14. Oops. I didn’t notice that I got title credit on this one. Thanks.

    @Eli: Yeah, the Disch book is somewhat odd. I read it a year or so ago, and was startled by (among other things) the fact that Disch refers to the Panshins as “Heinlein idolators.”

  15. 11) sounds like it’d be much faster to set up and play than the board game, one of the disadvantages of big games like that–the setup and breakdown time

  16. Alan W. Ziebarth says R2-D2 Beneath the Dome was not a fan-made film. It was written and directed by Don Bies, who has been an employee of both Lucasfilms and Industrial Light and Magic and who has also worked on visual effects in many other films.

    And he’s not a fan of the films himself?

  17. IIRC, R2-D2 Beneath the Dome was included as a bonus with one of the Star Wars DVD releases; at least, I’m pretty sure that’s how I got my copy.

    Intermittent reading update: Finished Alliance Rising, which was a welcome return to Cherryh’s universe; and it’s amazing how much tension she can wring from a book that takes place almost entirely in a few rooms on a single station and consists almost entirely of conversations.

    Now I’m about a quarter of the way through Heavy Time and am even more firmly reminded of how the Alliance/Union universe would really be kind of a terrible place to live for most people.

    Edited to add: Meredith Moment: Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars is currently $2.99.

  18. Meredith Moment:

    The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal is on sale at Amazon US as part of the KDD for $2.99.

  19. @Andrew: ISTM that the PanshinRAH relationship is complicated; the fact that he produced Heinlein in Dimension, which IIRC didn’t call out all of RAH’s flaws, may have been enough for someone of Disch’s politics to be … unmeasured. Disch may also have been misreading Rite of Passage, which on the first level is a Heinlein-style story — until you get to the lead’s near-closing statement that nobody is a spear-carrier.

  20. @Joe —

    Intermittent reading update: Finished Alliance Rising, which was a welcome return to Cherryh’s universe; and it’s amazing how much tension she can wring from a book that takes place almost entirely in a few rooms on a single station and consists almost entirely of conversations.

    I thought exactly the same thing when I recently read the second Foreigner trilogy. Good writing!

    As for my own recent reading: I finished Children of Time a couple of days ago — my first Tchaikovsky (the author, not the composer, of whom I’ve played plenty!). Space spiders! I loved the worldbuilding, but did not really appreciate the almost David Attenborough-esque narrative quality that resulted from intermixing limited POV with omniscient ramblings about things the characters couldn’t possibly know about, all within the same scenes. Nonetheless a very worthwhile book over all.

    I’m now rereading (re-listening-to) The Collapsing Empire in prep for The Consuming Fire. I still think there’s too much bitter snark, but I’m appreciating the snappy writing and plot twists.

  21. @Chip: That’s probably it. I was just really startled by Disch’s statement because I’ve seen a lot of anti-Panshin rhetoric in Heinlein fan communities

  22. @P J Evans: having one of the mad scientist’s devices (the expander) actually work seems like another SF trope to me — but there’s also a case for fantasy: gur evat bayl pbzvat bss guebhtu na npg bs pbhentr seems an obvious trope even if I can’t cite a specific example right now.

    @Andrew: oh yes, the real rah-rah-RAH types are all over Panshin, inter alia because RAH was publicly vicious about Panshin got some ~private correspondence from (IIRC) a friend’s widow. Time was when being assailed by both sides could be a mark of a critic doing their job, but I had sufficiently little appreciation for Panshin’s shorter essays that I never cracked the book to find out if it was worth anything.

  23. Classic Cherryh-related Meredith moment: Downbelow Station is currently $1.99.

    (Which is, of course, 3 weeks after I bought it at full price, but I regret nothing.)

  24. @Alan W. Ziebarth: I can beat that, as stupid questions go. I was working as a clerk in a photocopy shop that was owned by two brothers named Brian and Martin. While I was taking a woman’s order, she asked if I was Brian. I said no. So she assumed I must be Martin. “My name is David,” I said. She replied, “Are you sure?”

  25. For what is a file pixelléd, if they shall gain the whole world, and lose their own scroll?

  26. It’s worth quoting the whole passage to understand the context. It’s on the last page of Chapter 8 of The Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of, “Republicans on Mars — SF as Military Strategy”. After quoting some choice E. E. Smith on humans versus everyone else, Disch says of it:

    This is to Tolstoi as bubble gum is to bouillabaisse, but it is an article of faith among SF purists, like Heinlein’s idolators, Alexei and Cory Panshin, that E. E. Smith is somehow superior to “mundane” writers like Tolstoi, precisely because he expresses such lofty sentiments.”

    I prefer Tolstoy to Doc Smith, and bubble gum to even the stomach-churning thought of bouillabaisse. And yet I like Heinlein and Panshin’s fiction.

    This is not an argument designed to convince me. Of anything.

  27. Though he’s too old now to play Poe, but Bill Murray resembled him a great deal some 25 years back.

  28. John A Arkansawyer: This is not an argument designed to convince me. Of anything.

    Not that I’ve read that much of it, but every bit of SF criticism I’ve ever read by Disch leads me to believe that he was a huge jerk (which may or may not have been the result of what I suspect to be untreated depression), and a vicious but not particularly astute critic. He had contempt for most SF other than his own.

    (Also, I love bouillabaisse. 🙂 )

  29. @JJ: Disch the critic is Christopher Hitchens: Sharp tongue, quick wit, that’s about it. His fiction is not to my taste, but I can tell it’s good. The criticism, not so much.

  30. @JJ: It was interesting, after having read Dreams Our Stuff, to encounter his equivalent collection of poetry criticism, The Castle of Indolence. It’s a field I know very little about, so I was reading it mostly just for language and tone. To me, those pieces are very noticeably less combative; he still pisses on some stuff he doesn’t like, but much more of it is about all the ways he enjoys and respects the stuff he likes. And those parts are a great pleasure to read. But for whatever reason his relationship with SF wasn’t the same.

    I think possibly the first time I read him was his foreword to some PK Dick book, maybe The Penultimate Truth. He said some good things, and then he segued into basically calling Dick a self-pitying flaky hack. I was really confused about who this person was, why he was writing the foreword, and why he was being such a dick about Dick.

  31. I’ve spent some time thumbing The Stuff Our Dreams Is Made Of, which I hadn’t read in some time, to get the vibe of it, and learned something new today. To put it into context, Disch is talking about the effect of the franchise in turning creative writers into burger-flippers churning out novelizations:

    …within the SF community, Star Trek is regarded with all the fondness Ben-Hur felt for the Roman army.”

    How common was that opinion in 1998? It’s news to me here in 6798.

  32. John A Arkansawyer: How common was that opinion in 1998?

    I can’t speak to that in terms of the industry. I can only say that I bought and read around the first 100 Star Trek novels and novelizations — and enjoyed every one of them — but that I stopped after getting a Science Fiction Book Club subscription and discovering that there was so much else out there with new and different worldbuilding and approaches (not all of it the greatest, but there was a lot of great stuff, too).

    I can understand why people might regret SFF writers doing so much work in well-established sandboxes, instead of stretching their imagination to come up with new and different worlds and characters.

    But having said that, I don’t begrudge the people who enjoy reading the novels for Star Trek or any other franchise, or the authors who write the books which meet that demand. Chacun à son gout.

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