Pixel Scroll 1/26/20 The Scroll Went Over The Pixel, To See What It Could See

(1) YOU DO KNOW JACK. “John Barrowman on his shock Doctor Who TV return – ‘It’s about time’”RadioTimes interviews the actor about his surprise appearance.

In an appropriately shocking character resurrection, fan-favourite Doctor Who character Captain Jack Harkness has made a surprise return to the BBC sci-fi series, with John Barrowman’s immortal Time Agent popping up in the latest episode to deliver a message to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

…Kept secret through a mass of codenames, disguises and carefully-planted lies, Jack’s return is sure to make a splash with fans – just last year, RadioTimes.com readers voted him the character they’d most like to see return to the series – and ahead of the episode’s airing, Barrowman said he was prepared for a big reaction.

(2) VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM RUNG. Saturday Night Live suited up guest host Adam Driver to parody his Star Wars character.

Undercover Boss checks in with one of its more notorious bosses, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), to see if he kept his promise to change his company.

(3) IMAGINARY PAPERS LAUNCHES. Imaginary Papers is a new quarterly (free) newsletter from the Center for Science and the Imagination. Edited by Joey Eschrich, it features analysis and commentary on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and the imagination. The first issue is available here.

…Each issue will feature brief, incisive pieces of writing from a diverse array of contributors, from scholars and journalists to cultural critics, designers, technologists, poets, and more. 

We hope you’ll join us in thinking carefully and whimsically about the tangled relationships between how we envision the future and how we see ourselves and our world today. 

(4) BRADBURY CENTENNIAL EXHIBIT AT BOOK FAIR. The 53rd California International Antiquarian Book Fair, which takes place in Pasadena from February 7-9, will include two special exhibits —

Votes for Women. The Book Fair celebrates the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage with a special exhibit documenting women’s effort to secure political equality. Materials will be on display from the special collection libraries of The Claremont Colleges, University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, California State University, Dominguez Hills and the Los Angeles Public Library.

Something Wonderful This Way Came: 100 Years of Ray Bradbury. The Book Fair marks the centennial of the beloved science fiction and fantasy writer. This special exhibit features Bradbury works and related cultural treasures from the Polk Library at California State University including the manuscripts for Fahrenheit 451 and the short story “The Fireman,” from which the classic novel originated. 

The Book Fair takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center at 300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA.  Tickets on Friday, February 7 are $25 for three-day admission.

(5) FIFTIES PAPERBACK COVERS APPRAISED. Last night on PBS’ Antique Roadshow: “Appraisal: Ric Binkley Science Fiction Illustrations”.

Watch Kathleen Guzman’s appraisal of Ric Binkley science fiction illustrations ca. 1950, in Winterthur Museum, Hour 3.

(6) THE COLORS OUT OF SPACE. “NASA’s Spitzer Telescope Revealed Colors Unseeable By The Human Eye. It Retires Next Week”LAist assembled a retirement party photo gallery.

Next week, the last of four NASA space-based observatories will retire. The Spitzer Space Telescope brought the universe into a new light (literally), revealing images of planets, solar systems, stars and more in infrared — renderings that human eyes aren’t able to see otherwise

(7) GEEZERBUSTERS. Yahoo! Entertainment reveals “It’s Official! Bill Murray Returns to His Ghostbusters Role in Upcoming Sequel”.

30 years after last appearing as squad leader Peter Venkman in 1989’s Ghostbusters 2, Bill Murray is set to reprise his beloved role in the upcoming sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The new movie stars Paul Rudd as a science teacher whose students find themselves in the middle of a ghostbusting mystery.

Though Murray, 69, made a cameo in the 2016 all-women Ghostbusters, he will be back as his parapsychologist character in the new movie directed by Jason Reitman, the son of original director Ivan Reitman.

Vanity Fair visited the set — “Exclusive: Hanging With Bill Murray on the Set of Ghostbusters: Afterlife”.

… The production uses lightweight, less detailed packs for stunts and distant shots, but I was saddled with the 30-pound heavy-duty version used for close-ups, which is loaded with batteries and rumble motors to make the blasters shudder and jolt in the hands of the user.

…Later, [Ivan] Reitman said he hopes the film will help fans feel the excitement of suiting up themselves: “I wanted to make a movie about finding a proton pack in an old barn and the thrill of actually putting it on for the first time. I’ve had friends come to the set and hoist on the packs, and it always turns grown-ups into children.”

Murray just stood by nodding and smiling. “You’ll see what it feels like,” he said.

“The first 30 seconds are okay,” I told him.

The actor snorted. “It’s that last 30,” he said, shaking his head. “And the dismount.”

(8) SLURP THE FANTASTIC. BBC Sounds finds the connections between “Fantasy, fiction and food”. Mary Robinette Kowal and others are interviewed.

What do Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Lady and the Tramp have in common? Both use food in subtle ways to immerse us in their stories and help us make sense of fictitious worlds – from jumping chocolate frogs to kissing over spaghetti. The same is true for many novels, where food can be an integral part of building characters, plots, even entire worlds. Graihagh Jackson speaks to three world-acclaimed writers – two authors and one Nollywood script writer and film director – to find out how and why they employ food in their work. How do you create make-believe foods for a science fiction world, yet still imbue them with meanings that real world listeners will understand? When you’re trying to appeal to multiple audiences and cultures, how do you stop your food references getting lost in translation? And can food be used to highlight or send subtle messages about subjects that are traditionally seen as taboo?

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 26, 1995 Screamers premiered. This Canadian horror starred  Peter Weller, Roy Dupuis and Jennifer Rubi. It was  directed by Christian Duguay. The screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon, with an extensive rewrite by Miguel Tejada-Flores, is based on Philip K. Dick’s “Second Variety” novelette first published in Space Science Fiction magazine, in May 1953. It earned almost unanimously negative reviews from critics and has a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It has since developed a cult following. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 26, 1915 William Hopper. I’m reasonably sure his first genre first was the Thirties The Return of Doctor X. Twenty years later, he’s Dr. George Fenton in Conquest of Space, and just a few years later he’ll be Col. Bob Calder in 20 Million Miles to Earth. Unless we count Myra Breckinridge as genre or genre adjacent, he was Judge Frederic D. Cannon on it, that’s it for him as none as his series acting was genre related. (Died 1970.)
  • Born January 26, 1923 Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman in the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 26, 1927 William Redfield. He was in two SF films of note. He was Ray Cooper in Conquest of Space, a Fifties film, and later on he was Captain Owens in Fantastic Voyage. In addition, Wiki lists him in the cast of the Fifties X Minus One radio anthology series, and Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs site confirms he was in nine of the plays. His series one-offs included Great Ghost Tales (a new one for me), Bewitched, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Tales of Tomorrow. (Died 1976.)
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip José Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those first three are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. I’m sure someone here read here them.  I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 91. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators. 
  • Born January 26, 1957 Mal Young, 63. Executive Producer of Doctor Who for the Ninth Doctor. A great season and Doctor indeed. As all have been in the New Who. He was the Assistant Producer thirty years ago of a series called Science Fiction hosted by none other than the Fourth Doctor Himself. Anyone watch this? 
  • Born January 26, 1960 Stephen Cox, 60. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz that he did with Elaine Willingham as I don’t remember that much for food in the Oz books…

(11) NANO NANO. The Harvard Gazette interviews a scientist about “Disinfecting your hands with ‘magic’”.

DEMOKRITOU: We have the tools to make these engineered nanomaterials and, in this particular case, we can take water and turn it into an engineered water nanoparticle, which carries its deadly payload, primarily nontoxic, nature-inspired antimicrobials, and kills microorganisms on surfaces and in the air.

It is fairly simple, you need 12 volts DC, and we combine that with electrospray and ionization to turn water into a nanoaerosol, in which these engineered nanostructures are suspended in the air. These water nanoparticles have unique properties because of their small size and also contain reactive oxygen species. These are hydroxyl radicals, peroxides, and are similar to what nature uses in cells to kill pathogens. These nanoparticles, by design, also carry an electric charge, which increases surface energy and reduces evaporation. That means these engineered nanostructures can remain suspended in air for hours. When the charge dissipates, they become water vapor and disappear.

Very recently, we started using these structures as a carrier, and we can now incorporate nature-inspired antimicrobials into their chemical structure. These are not super toxic to humans. For instance, my grandmother in Greece used to disinfect her surfaces with lemon juice — citric acid. Or, in milk — and also found in tears — is another highly potent antimicrobial called lysozyme. Nisin is another nature-inspired antimicrobial that bacteria release when they’re competing with other bacteria. Nature provides us with a ton of nontoxic antimicrobials that, if we can find a way to deliver them in a targeted, precise manner, can do the job. No need to invent new and potentially toxic chemicals. Let’s go to nature’s pharmacy and shop.

(12) BIGFOOTIN’. Forbes’ Ollie Barder reports “A Walking Life-Size Gundam Will Be Unveiled In Japan This October”.

While we knew that this was a project that had been underway for a while, it’s now actually going to be a real thing. In that, this October a walking Gundam will be unveiled in Yokohama, Japan.

The plans to make a Gundam walk were announced back in 2015 and at the time the idea was to have it finished by 2019.

So while this has been delayed a bit, it does look like we will have a Gundam that can walk later this year.

Well, when I say “walk” it looks like this is not some free-roaming Gundam but will be attached to a support mechanism at the waist, to avoid it from falling over.

It doesn’t look like you will be able to pilot it either, as this walking Gundam will be remote controlled.

To be honest, I was expecting limitations like this. Simply because the engineering requirements to make an 18-meter-tall mecha walk are not exactly trivial.

(13) AT WORK. “Astronauts Finish Spacewalk For Final Fix Of International Space Station Device”NPR has details on what real construction work in space is like.

Two astronauts aboard the International Space Station conducted their fourth and final spacewalk Saturday to finish a series of repairs aimed at extending the functioning of a cosmic ray detector attached to the spacecraft.

The six-hour, 16-minute foray outside the space capsule began shortly after 7:00 a.m. ET and ended at 1:20 p.m.

NASA flight engineer Andrew Morgan and the commander of the space station’s Expedition 61, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, completed leak checks on their installation of a new cooling system meant to extend the lifespan of the externally attached Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer dark matter and antimatter detector.

They were assisted by two other Expedition 61 crew members, NASA flight engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, who operated a Canadarm2 robotic arm capable of fine-tuned maneuvers.

The AMS, as the cosmic ray detector is known, was installed about nine years ago on the spacecraft and was designed to function for only three years. It was not meant to be serviced in flight.

But the scientific data collected by the AMS — to date, it has recorded more than 140 billion particles passing through its detectors, 9 million of which have been identified as the electrons or positrons that compose antimatter — have proven so valuable that NASA scientists now aim to keep it operating for the full 11 years of a complete solar cycle in order to better understand the possible impact of solar radiation variation on astronauts traveling to Mars.

(14) CAT SUITS. The Guardian shows how cats can be more divisive than Brexit: “Claws out! Why cats are causing chaos and controversy across Britain”. Tagline: “Whether it is local ‘cat-seducers’, out-and-out thievery or marauding toms, our feline friends are prompting furious rows and rivalries between neighbours.”

…It’s a sad case,” says the Halls’ barrister, Tom Weisselberg QC. “If she’d seen sense, everyone’s time and money would have been saved.” He worked pro bono on the case, because the Halls are friends. There are few legal options for someone wanting to stop their neighbour stealing their cat. Technically, it’s theft, but generally the police won’t get involved. “You have to show that they intend to deprive you permanently of possession,” Weisselberg says. “That’s a high threshold to satisfy.”

When he was a junior barrister, Weisselberg worked on a legal dispute between Kuwait Airways and Iraqi Airways. The Kuwaitis argued, successfully, that the Iraqis had in effect stolen some Kuwaiti planes, because they had painted their own colours on them, thereby converting them. “I said: ‘Look, if the Kuwaitis can say the Iraqis converted their aircraft by putting different colours on the planes, why can’t you say the defendant has converted your cat by changing its collar?’” Weisselberg planned to use this precedent in court but, at the courthouse door, Lesbirel agreed to a number of restrictions on contact with Ozzy.

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

50 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/26/20 The Scroll Went Over The Pixel, To See What It Could See

  1. 14) My mother told me that when she was young, she had an indoor/outdoor cat who one day decided to live with some other family on the street.

  2. 10) Referring to Farmer, I enjoyed the first three World of Tiers books and his Dangerous Visions novella “Riders of the Purple Wage” (which was the first time I had ever heard of a Universal Basic Income). However, I have not revisited the story in a long time and I am deathly afraid that the Suck Fairy has waved their magic wand over it.

  3. (10) I enjoyed the Dayworld books – pulpy adventure but fun. The original short story (let’s see if I get this right) “The Sliced-Crosswise Never on a Tuesday World” would have been fine with being continued by a trilogy, I suppose.

  4. Probably want to verify this from something other than a tweet, but it appears that Our Wombat’s The Twisted Ones had been named the winner in the Horror category of the ALA 2020 Year’s Best in Genre Fiction awards. (I believe ALA is the American Library Association?) I can’t find an official list on their website yet but perhaps by tomorrow’s scroll there will be something more definitive to point to.

  5. (8) Not that it would have been mentioned in the BBC story, which I listened to, but this topic made me think of Richard Matheson’s short story “F _ _ _” – some imagination he had, conceiving of food consumption porn in 1952.

    (10) ISFDB has the title of the initial story that grew into Farmer’s Dayworld sequence as “The Sliced-Crosswise Only-on-Tuesday World”.

  6. Heather Rose Jones: There are a number of things being announced at the ALA this weekend.

    Tomorrow they will be doing this — ALA live webcast to reveal next classics in children’s and YA literature

    On Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at 8 a.m. ET, the American Library Association (ALA) will reveal the next classics in children’s and young adult literature during its Youth Media Awards announcements from Philadelphia.

    There is also a RUSA Reading List that is broken out by categories, which gets announced around this time of year. But they haven’t updated the site from 2019 yet.

    If anyone finds out something definite, I’d like to know too!

  7. 6) if the human eye can’t see it, it’s not a color, it’s a wavelength. The article mentions that infrared photos can provide information that visible light photos can’t but doesn’t explain what information that is- it’s frustrating.

  8. 10) I remember reading the Riverworld books many, many years ago — I very much enjoyed the first three or four, but was not happy with the last couple in the series (I don’t recall the exact break point) in which Farmer seemed to throw out all of the mythology from the first few books and completely rewrite the rules of the world, to much worse effect.

    My favorite Farmer novel, though, remains Dark is the Sun, a 1980-ish novel set a billion years in the future.

  9. 14: A lot of the cat owners in that article read to me like they’re being the unreasonable ones– like, if your cat is getting into the neighbors’ stuff, it’s your responsibility to deal with that. The people who are actively stealing the cat are obviously in the wrong (as is the person shooting the cats), but “can you close your window so my cat will stop getting into your house”… I’m going to say you should be keeping your cat indoors, if that’s a problem. Also that article is buying heavily into the “cats are heartless and don’t truly bond to their owners” myth, which just isn’t true.

  10. 1) Doctor Who: A shocking character resurrection kept under wraps with code names and so on…and then revealed at the very top of the Pixel Scroll. Mike, couldn’t you have held off a few days, or put “article about the latest Doctor Who episode with some spoilers” and had the rest in ROT13, or done something?

  11. Yes, it never occurred to me that I had to worry about major spoilers from File at 7:50PM before we even had a chance to see Doctor Who here on the west coast.

    I’ll have to remember that next Sunday.

  12. David Goldfarb: Nah, this seemed to me the kind of “secret” people would want to know about, and treating it as a top news story wouldn’t ruin it for those viewing the episode today because the Scroll was going online after the airtime of the episode. People have been talking about it on Facebook for hours, and Tor.com already has already posted an episode recap telling about the appearance.

    Are you saying this spoiled the episode for you personally?

  13. Are you saying this spoiled the episode for you personally?

    It did for me, unfortunately. I’m not on Facebook, didn’t look at Tor.com, and knew enough to stay away from the usual TV sites like TVLine.com. It just never occurred to me that I had to worry about File 770.

    And Scroll went online before that particular incident happened in the show, here in the west coast.

  14. @Joe H – Dark Is The Sun is my favourite too! I never really cared much for the Riverworld series, and stopped two or three books in. The Unreasoning Mask is another that sticks in my mind.

  15. @bookworm1398 – Heh, so I take it you’re a firm ‘no’ on the “tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…” front?

    Yeah, the article seems limited to merely ‘seeing things that are otherwise too dark to see in visible light’.

  16. I didn’t like the Doctor Who spoiler, I had not seen the episode and shall stop reading the Pixel Scroll as a result. What a bummer.

  17. @10 (Farmer): IMO, his earlier work was more interesting than Riverworld; some of it is just “let’s make the reader go ‘Ick!’ “, but some plays with tropes in ways that almost nobody was in genre that far back. IIRC the 3rd Riverworld book was the one that converted all the round numbers of feet to exact numbers of meters, which kept throwing me out of what story there was; the combination of failings meant I didn’t continue with the series.

    @10 (Feiffer): he gets credit on his own for “Passionella”, a twist on fairy-godmother fantasies that became the last part of the triptych fantasy musical The Apple Tree. Juster spoke about Toolbooth in Boston a few years ago; I’ve forgotten too much of what he said, but the collaboration happened because they were living in the same rowhouse — and the Whether Man is Feiffer’s snarky rendition of Juster.

    @Patrick Morris Miller: The Silent Miaow describes a two-timing cat; I suspect there have been a number of the sort of shift you describe — maybe fewer now as people hear more about the dangers of letting cats out.

    @Rob Thornton: my memory of …Wage is that it was violently sexist at a trigger-warning level — which is a pity as there were several good parts and at least two appalling puns.

  18. I’m a little unhappy about the spoiler too. I don’t have cable so I watch Doctor Who on Vudu which has a one-day delay. I follow a couple of Doctor Who blogs, but I avoid them on Sundays and Mondays.

  19. @ Chip Hitchcock

    Alas, I am not surprised about “Purple Wage.” While the Dangerous Visions books are still perched on my bookshelf, I get the feeling that there are probably a lot of “it’s not sexist, it’s serious/it’s sexy!” problems in both of them.

  20. A pixel, a file, and a tickbox walk into a bar
    and the barman says "Hey, why the long scroll?"

  21. there are probably a lot of “it’s not sexist, it’s serious/it’s sexy!” problems in both of them.

    But enough about Piers Anthony.

  22. (10) The earliest zombie film I know of is the 1932 White Zombie, with Bela Lugosi.

  23. 12) I fear the advent of real walking Gundams awaits the invention of Minovsky-Ionesco reactors.

  24. I’ve pretty much given up on avoiding spoilers for Doctor Who, especially as the show seems determined to spoil itself so often….

    Case in point: Peter Capaldi’s last two-parter, where we’re introduced to these faceless shambling figures, clutching life support systems to them – there’s a very effective scene where we see that all the “pain relief” they get is someone turning down the volume on their pain alarms…

    … and then Bill gets shot, and there’s a reference to the “chest unit” she has to wear afterwards…

    … and then that doctor guy holds up the emotional limiter gadget that will fit on her head, and the viewer suddenly gets it, and goes “holy crap! This is the first version of the Cybermen! This is how the Mondas Cybermen got started!”

    Except that the viewer does not suddenly get it, the viewer has been force-fed it since before the season even started, and what could have been a genuinely good dramatic moment is completely wasted. Bah, I say. Bah, humbug, even.

    (Having said all that… it is, perhaps, bad form to reveal a surprise that the BBC actually managed to keep secret, just for once. Especially as you-know-who doesn’t actually do anything much in the story, just delivers a cryptic message for further on in the series….)

  25. I’ve always thought that if the Christopher Ecclestone episode that first brought back a Dalek had been called something like “Last Of His Kind” instead of “Dalek”, and the promotions department heavily sat on to not spoiler it, the moment when the Doctor walks into a darkened room, introduces himself and gets the response “Doctor? THE Doctor?” accompanied by the flashing speech lamps would have been detectable on the BGS Seismograms.as everyone got behind their sofas at speed.

  26. Steve Wright says (Having said all that… it is, perhaps, bad form to reveal a surprise that the BBC actually managed to keep secret, just for once. Especially as you-know-who doesn’t actually do anything much in the story, just delivers a cryptic message for further on in the series….)

    So when it is OK to state such things here? A week? A month? Never? There’s series from fifty years I’m sure some of us still haven’t watched as well as fiction from that period still to be read. Should that not be discussed?

  27. @James Moar: you said it. I recently read Anthony’s Macroscope and whoa Nelly there is some really weird sex stuff in there. It’s serious SF but Anthony shoehorns in contrived reasons for women to be stripped naked and “thoroughly explored” – gah – by all men present. This happens multiple times. Woof. It was a tough read.

  28. So when it is OK to state such things here? A week? A month? Never? There’s series from fifty years I’m sure some of us still haven’t watched as well as fiction from that period still to be read. Should that not be discussed?

    Last night, I would have settled for just waiting until the episode had played in the Pacific time zone…

    (And Rosebud was his sled in Citizen Kane.)

  29. John Lorentz states Last night, I would have settled for just waiting until the episode had played in the Pacific time zone…

    Fine for you but that leaves out (hypothetically) people in non-US countries and someone who decides to watch it in a week. I’m being serious. When is it safe to spoiler something here? I get galleys months before they come out. I obviously don’t discuss them here, but when can a novel be discussed freely? Or a movie for that matter?

  30. N K Jemisin is tired of the number of people who seem to think she’s the only black spec-fic author in the world, so she put out a call for any and all others to reply to a particular tweet of hers. The result is a lengthy and fascinating list of writers, many of whom are unfamiliar to me, but look well worth checking out. Not all of them look like my cuppa, but enough do that I’m thrilled with the thread!

    It’s been quite a while since I read them, but my vague memory says: the first three Riverworld books formed a trilogy of sorts, and then the fourth book was mostly filler provided to flesh out and support a new and far more satisfying ending to the original trilogy. Whether it was worth it mostly depended on how dissatisfied you were with the original ending. I didn’t read any more of them after that.

    he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well.

    Also, Farmer’s A Feast Unknown is often considered to be the first professionally published slash-fic, where a thinly-veiled Tarzan has violent sex with a thinly-veiled Doc Savage.

  31. @Cat Eldridge: I dunno, I don’t make the rules (and that’s probably for the best.)

    I suppose that, as soon as something’s released to the general public for consumption, the general public’s going to want to talk about it – and the general public is going to talk about it, come what may. (And, as I said, Doctor Who seems pretty determined to provide its own spoilers, most of the time.)

    I mean, I’d say, maybe, give it a day? Before putting something in a headline or subhead, at least? But clearly the entertainment section of my news feed disagrees, so what do I know?

  32. @Mike: I’m in pretty much the same position as John Lorentz: I’m not on Facebook (or Twitter for that matter). Spoiler discussion on places like tor.com or Camestros’ blog is confined to clearly marked articles that I can avoid until I’ve seen the episode. The Pixel Scroll, by contrast, is general-interest, and it didn’t occur to me that I might need to avoid it.

    And yes, I’m saying that you spoiled that particular surprise for me. Fortunately it was a good episode even so: I’d say one of the best of the last few years.

    What’s a proper statute of spoiler limitations is a vexing question. I’d suggest a month for new television episodes, during which time spoiler discussion should either be confined to separate articles, or else marked and ROT13’d.

  33. @gottacook: Thanks. I should have realized that “Only on a Tuesday” made more sense.

    The Doctor Who spoiler above was the surprise of secondary importance, so I wasn’t too bothered by seeing it here before seeing the episode. Unfortunately for me, I saw on Twitter last night the big spoiler, too. Ah well. The episode was good enough to be very enjoyable even when I was spoiled (and next week I won’t dawdle about seeing the episode).

  34. @Mike: Thank you for your resistance. Hearing about both spoilers at once would have Amped up my annoyance – wot a reVolting development that would have been.

  35. IIRC the 3rd Riverworld book was the one that converted all the round numbers of feet to exact numbers of meters

    I remember reading that and wondering if that’s what had happened! There was no Google then but there is now, and it’s worse than I remembered: “So far, the highest point was 4564 meters or 15,000 feet” and this howler “…the mountains were from 4564 to 6096 meters high. These were eyeball measurements, of course…”

    Oh, of course. Anybody can make an eyeball measurement with 1-meter accuracy of something over 6 klicks high!

    Google has not given any explanation, though. Was it intentional or did he get a metric-obsessed copyeditor of the sort UrsulaV recently dealt with?

  36. Metric-obsessed but incompetent, or they’d have given us things like “the highest point was 4500 meters, or 15,000 feet.” Though not as incompetent as the person I followed at a previous job, who really didn’t understand metric, like at all: they just erased the “F” in °F and replaced it with a C, and claimed that the temperature in a schoolyard was about 70°F, as part of a math exercise. (I don’t know if that’s the same person who changed ounces to grams by the same sort of replacement–I don’t need precision, but they were off by two orders of magnitude.

    It was pretty good evidence that most Americans don’t understand the metric system, in the context of attempts to introduce the system to elementary and middle-school students. Which I suppose is what happens when someone who doesn’t get it tells other people who don’t get it something like “yeah, it’s a hoop we have to jump through or California won’t buy our books.”

  37. Somewhat back on topic, I’m not sure if Farmer lost interest before or after handing the third Riverworld book in to the publisher. That’s the one with a serious cliffhanger–it ends in mid-battle–and the next book never mntioned the battle. Not even a quick “and after we defeated the Martians…” or someone starting to tell the story before another fight breaks out and he stops reminiscing.

    That’s when I stopped reading Farmer.

  38. they just erased the “F” in °F and replaced it with a C, and claimed that the temperature in a schoolyard was about 70°F

    70°F is not an unusual temperature for a schoolyard. 70°C would have the kids dropping like flies…

  39. @Jamoche: I do not remember seeing an explanation at the time (or since) of whether that was Farmer’s stupidity or an editor’s (or that of a copyeditor given insufficient direction). It seems a bit geeky for Farmer, but he might have been grinding a political ax.

  40. This is not an excuse or retroactive justification, but it is worth noting that some studies suggest spoilers actually enhance the enjoyment of a work.

    That said, it’s still better to give people the choice of whether or not to encounter a spoiler. But perhaps this knowledge can help people cope better in those cases where they do have something “spoiled”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.