Pixel Scroll 10/22/19 All I Said To My Wife Was That That Pixel Scroll Was Good Enough For Jehovah

(1) EARLY RETURNS ON STAR WARS FINAL TRAILER. Jeff VanderMeer is a tough audience:

I’m crying over the new Star Wars trailer. I’m bawling and overcome. I’m shaking like a performative baby over this trailer.

Finally. Finally it will be over and I will never have to encounter this mediocre piece of crap franchise again…until the next time.

While Chuck Tingle tries to exert a calming influence:

(2) FLEET OF REFERENCES. Io9 is hyping “The First Big Cameo of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Has Been Revealed”. Here’s what they spotted —

…Now, that’s almost certainly the Ghost. Not a Force Ghost, THE Ghost. What’s the Ghost?

It’s the customized VCX-100 light freighter flown by Captain Hera Syndulla, which was kind of the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars Rebels. Later, it appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and, thanks to the epilogue of Rebels, we knew it survived until the timeline of the sequel trilogy. Now, it seems the Ghost, and probably even Hera herself, are standing with the Falcon in what we can only assume is the Resistance’s final stand against the First Order.

And they saw even more ships in that brief scene that you’ll probably need to look up in the Wookieepedia.

(3) BETTER CAPERS. Galactic Journey’s Jason Sacks says a well-known comic has turned the corner – in 1964 – thanks to the editorial direction of Julius Schwartz: “[October 22, 1964] Introducing a “New Look” for Batman”.  

I have some good news for those of you who haven’t been paying close attention to comic books: Batman comics are finally readable!

That’s a major change from the puerile adventures which editor Jack Schiff has been presenting in the pages of Batman and Detective Comics. For all too many years, Schiff and his team of seemingly subpar creators have delivered a never-ending stream of absurdly juvenile tales of the Caped Crusader and his steadfast sidekick. He gave us ridiculous and dumb tales in which Batman gallivanted in outer space, Robin was romantically pursued by the pre-teen Bat-Girl, and the absurdly awful Bat-Mite showed up at random times to add chaos to Batman’s life. Even adventures which featured classic Batman villains (such as last fall’s Batman #159, “the Great Clayface-Joker Feud,”) fell far short of even the most basic standards of quality. Great they were not.

(4) FILER Q&A. Today Speculative Fiction Showcase’s Jessica Rydill interviewed “Heather Rose Jones, author of Floodtide, a novel of Alpennia”.

Have there been any particular books or writers who influenced you, whether in or outside the genre? [I’m a Jane Austen fan and live in Bath, which has featured in many dramatizations of her work]

As I mentioned previously, one of the inspirations for Daughter of Mystery was wanting to write a Georgette Heyer novel with lesbians. But the other major inspiration–if maddening frustration can be a form of inspiration–was Ellen Kushner’s novel The Privilege of the Sword. That book came so close to being the perfect novel of my heart…and then turned out to be a different novel. A perfectly wonderful novel, but not the book I desperately wanted. So that was another influence, not so much in writing style, but in the “feel” of the story–a story about brave and clever girls who love and rescue each other.

Jane Austen is something of an underlayer, if only in providing examples of the world of women in early 19th century Europe. One of the historical realities that modern readers aren’t always aware of is how strictly gender-segregated 19th century life was. Women–especially unmarried women–spent most of their lives socializing with other women and living with them in intimate proximity. It makes setting up same-sex relationships much easier! It’s been very important to me to center the series on women and their connections and community with each other. Too many historical stories allow women only as isolated characters, always interacting with men. In reality, if a woman had a problem or a puzzle or a project, the first people she’d turn to would be other women. I wanted the series to reflect that.

(5) MORE ON DALLAS TORNADO. Fanartist Brad Foster and his wife Cindy also escaped injury, however, they were almost right in the tornado’s path and their home suffered roof damage, while in the yard trees and fences took a hit.

(6) HEARING FROM OKORAFOR. AudioFile’s article “Author Nnedi Okorafor on Personal Experiences & Fantastic Worlds” hears from the author of Akata Witch and many other fantasy titles about narrating the audiobook of her autobiography Broken Places & Outer Spaces.  

Narrating her memoir was more difficult than revisiting her words in the editing process. “There’s something to the art of reading it out loud, and it being an oral telling as opposed to written, that brings [those experiences] even more to the forefront. Reading it out loud in the booth, it was just even more intense. I was reliving it that much more.” The memoir details how she became a writer, showing “the idea that those things we think will break us can actually be the things that make us. All of these experiences that we have are useful, even the terrible ones. It’s just a matter of how you choose to use them. Because they are going to be there regardless. Do you want to just let them fester there, or do you want to make something out of them?”

(7) ROYALTY STATEMENT. James Davis Nicoll provides Tor.com readers with introductions to “Science Fictional Rulers, from Undying Emperors to Starlike Sovereigns”

Science Fiction is famous for the bewildering variety of worlds it imagines. This is particularly true for its political systems. A newcomer to SF might well be astounded by the diverse range of governmental arrangements on display. Let me provide some examples…

(8) HARI PLOTTER. Io9 promises“Apple’s Long-Anticipated Adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Casts Some Familiar Faces”.

It’s been a long road from page to screen for Isaac Asimov’s iconic Foundation series, with the first real foothold coming last year when Apple announced it had snagged the rights for the streaming service now known as Apple TV+. Today, more news: Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Lee Pace (Captain Marvel) have joined the cast.

And even better, we know who they’ll be playing, per Deadline: “Pace plays Brother Day, the current Emperor of the Galaxy. Harris plays Hari Seldon, a mathematical genius who predicts the demise of the Empire.”

(9) MORE MARVEL PRO AND CON. Rosy Cordero, in “Here’s What Marvel Directors And Stars Are Saying About Martin Scorsese’s MCU Criticism,” in Entertainment Weekly, rounds up comments, including ones from Robert Downey Jr., Joss Whedon, and Jon Favreau.

Avengers and Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon singled out [James] Gunn’s work when responding to Scorsese earlier this month. He tweeted, “I first think of @JamesGunn, how his heart & guts are packed into GOTG. I revere Marty, & I do see his point, but… Well there’s a reason why ‘I’m always angry’” (the latter quote being a Hulk reference).

Meanwhile, a British director joins the dogpile — “Ken Loach Says Marvel Films Are ‘Made as Commodities Like Hamburgers’” at The Hollywood Reporter.

Speaking to Sky News, the two-time Palme d’Or-winning Brit described Marvel’s output as “boring” and cynically produced.

“They’re made as commodities like hamburgers, and it’s not about communicating, and it’s not about sharing our imagination,” he said. “It’s about making a commodity which will make a profit for a big corporation – they’re a cynical exercise. They’re a market exercise, and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema. William Blake said, ‘When money is discussed, art is impossible.'”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 22, 1936 — According to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, today is the day, “Fandom gathering at Milton A. Rothman’s home in Philadelphia, 1936, declares itself to be the first sf Convention. Some fans accept this; others consider the following year’s Leeds UK event a more significant landmark since it was organized in advance as a convention and used public meeting facilities.”
  • October 22, 2006Torchwood, a companion to Doctor Who, premiered on BBC Three.  Starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles, it ran for forty one episodes over five years. And Big Finish Productions has produced some thirty audio-stories so far.  
  • October 22, 2016  — On this day in the U.K. and Canada, Class, a spin-off series of Doctor Who, premiered. Starring Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed and Sophie Hopkins, the series would last just a single season of eight episodes due to really poor ratings though Big Finish Audio continued the series as an audiowork. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 22, 1919 Doris Lessing. The five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives certainly established her genre creds. I personally would add her Cat Tales, three volumes of stories and nonfiction (Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico) to your reading list. (Died 2013.)
  • Born October 22, 1922 Lee Jacobs. LA fan in the last years of his life. I’m mentioning him here because he’s credited with the word filk which was his entirely unintentional creation. He typoed folk in a contribution to the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the 1950s: “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music.” Yes I know that its first documented intentional use was by Karen Anderson in Die Zeitschrift für vollständigen Unsinn (The Journal for Utter Nonsense) #774 (June 1953), for a song written by her husband Poul. (Died 1968.)
  • Born October 22, 1938 Christopher Lloyd, 81. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Huh. I didn’t spot him in those.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors.
  • Born October 22, 1938 Derek Jacobi, 81. He played a rather nicely nasty Master in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s currently Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass.
  • Born October 22, 1939 Suzy McKee Charnas, 80. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. Certainly they’re the most honored, winning Gaylactic Spectrum, James Tiptree Jr. and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series?
  • Born October 22, 1943 Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If. Considered to be the first profitable Ebooks publisher. Founder of Baen Books. (Died 2006.)
  • Born October 22, 1952 Jeff Goldblum, 67. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Independence Day: Resurgence, but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in. 
  • Born October 22, 1954 Graham Joyce. Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 22, 1956 Gretchen Roper, 63. Long-time member of fandom, filker and con-runner. She co-founded Dodeka Records with her husband, Bill Roper. She received with her husband the Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song, “My Husband The Filker”, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2008. She runs The Secret Empire, a business selling filk and other things at cons.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • XKCD has a Narnia joke. (And remember, these cartoons have a second joke in a rollover– rest your cursor on the pictures and you see more text.)
  • Tom Gauld tries to help out New Scientist’s AI readers.

(13) THE CON GAME. S.M. Carrière offers sound advice in “How I Survive Conventions” at Black Gate.

6. Engage. It can be a scary thing to approach folks at conventions. There isn’t really any way around it, but practice does make it easier. Start, if you like, by asking questions at panels that permit it. You can then use that to speak to any of the panelists afterwards, asking for clarification or even pointers. Also, try the dealer’s room if the convention has one. It’s a great place to practice conversational skills, and most of the vendors are quite happy to chat. I know I am.

(14) ENCOUNTERING PANGBORN. Cora Buhlert’s review of Davy is part of this review column at Galactic Journey (scroll down): “[October 18, 1964] Out in Space and Down to Earth (October’s Galactoscope #1)”.

Edgar Pangborn has been writing science fiction under his own name for thirteen years at this point and was apparently writing under other names before that. However, none of his stories have been translated into German and the availability of English language science fiction magazines is spotty at best. Therefore, I had never encountered Pangborn’s work before, when I came across his latest novel Davy in my local import bookstore.

(15) WATCH THIS. Entertainment Weekly shares a video clip: Black Lightning gives Jefferson a suit upgrade in sneak peek: ‘Well, damn'”

…We’ve known for a while now that Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is getting a new suit this season, but now we finally know how he receives it. In this exclusive clip from tonight’s episode, Agent Odell (Bill Duke) gives the imprisoned superhero a gift: a watch. Jefferson is initially skeptical because it looks like a normal timepiece and he’s probably suspicious of anything the shady ASA spook gives him. But Odell continues to gently push Jefferson until he actually tests it out and discovers the watch’s real purpose: It’s basically a morpher that contains Black Lightning’s sleek new super-suit.

“This is the reason we have you have here, why we’re testing you, why we’re putting you through so much pain and struggle,” says Odell as the suit begins to cover a Jefferson’s body. “It’s so we can create tech that will help all metas to live better. The Markovians are planning on killing or capturing all of the metas in Freeland. I cannot stop them without your help.”

“Well, damn,” Jefferson simply says as he checks out his new threads. (This is essentially the equivalent of Kara’s “Pants!” exclamation from the Supergirl season 5 premiere when she tried out her new panted super-suit for the first time.)

(16) CRISPER THAN CRISPR? BBC sees promise: “Prime editing: DNA tool could correct 89% of genetic defects”.

A new way of editing the code of life could correct 89% of the errors in DNA that cause disease, say US scientists.

The technology, called prime editing, has been described as a “genetic word processor” able to accurately re-write the genetic code.

It has been used to correct damaging mutations in the lab, including those that cause sickle cell anaemia

The team at the Broad Institute say it is “very versatile and precise”, but stress the research is only starting.

…Much of the excitement has centred on a technology called Crispr-Cas9, which was developed just seven years ago.

It scans DNA for the right spot and then, like a microscopic pair of scissors, cuts it in two.

This creates the opportunity to edit the DNA.

However, the edits are not always perfect and the cuts can end up in the wrong place. Both issues are a problem for using the technology in medicine.

The promise of prime editing is precision.

(17) NO DUMMY. They knew the importance of sticking to it — “Neanderthal ‘glue’ points to complex thinking”.

Traces of ancient “glue” on a stone tool from 50,000 years ago points to complex thinking by Neanderthals, experts say.

The glue was made from birch tar in a process that required forward planning and involved several different steps.

It adds to mounting evidence that we have underestimated the capabilities of our evolutionary cousins.

Only a handful of Neanderthal tools bear signs of adhesive, but experts say the process could have been widespread.

The tool, found in the Netherlands, has spent the last 50,000 years under the North Sea. This may have helped preserve the tar adhesive.

Co-author Marcel Niekus, from the Stichting STONE/Foundation for Stone Age Research in Groningen, said the simple stone flake was probably used either for cutting plant fibres or for scraping animal skins.

While birch tar may have been used by Neanderthals to attach stone tools to wooden handles in some cases, this particular tool probably had a grip made only of tar. Dr Niekus said there was no imprint from a wood or bone shaft in the tar.

It would have enabled the user to apply more pressure to the stone flake without cutting their hands – turning the edge into a precision cutting tool.

(18) GALILEO PROBE GETS A MOVIE. The “‘Saving Galileo’ Documentary Screens This Weekend” at Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena, CA on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. PDT. Free admission; first come, first served.

…Produced by JPL Fellow and national Emmy Award-winner Blaine Baggett, the hour-long film tells the story of how the mission stayed alive despite a multitude of technical challenges, including a years-long launch delay and the devastating failure of its main antenna to open properly in space. It is also the story of a team of scientists and engineers transformed through adversity into what many came to regard as a tight-knit family.

“Saving Galileo” picks up from Baggett’s previous documentary “To the Rescue,” which focuses on the mission’s tortuous path to the launch pad. Together the films capture how, despite its many challenges and limitations, Galileo proved a resounding success, leading to profound scientific insights that continue to draw NASA and JPL back to Jupiter for new adventures.

(19) PLACEBO. NPR contends: “The Placebo Effect Works And You Can Catch It From Your Doctor”.

If there’s one thing you do want to catch from a trip to your doctor, it’s her optimism.

A new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Human Behavior, finds that patients can pick up on subtle facial cues from doctors that reveal the doctor’s belief in how effective a treatment will be. And that can have a real impact on the patient’s treatment outcome.

Scientists have known since at least the 1930s that a doctor’s expectations and personal characteristics can significantly influence a patient’s symptom relief. Within research contexts, avoiding these placebo effects is one reason for double blind studies — to keep experimenters from accidentally biasing their results by telegraphing to test subjects what they expect the results of a study to be.

The new study both demonstrates that the placebo effect is transmitted from doctor to patient, and shows how it might work.

(20) OWN LE GUIN DOCUMENTARY. The latest Kickstarter backer update for the documentary Worlds of Ursula Le Guin contains information on how to view a digital copy and buy a DVD:

We know many of you haven’t yet had a chance to watch the film – we’re trying to bring it to you as quickly as we can. Online streaming, DVD, and broadcast opportunities vary by country, and continue to evolve, but here’s our latest update:

  • In the United States and English-speaking Canada, the film is now available to rent and buy via iTunes. For residents whose reward package didn’t include a DVD, you can also pre-order the DVD through our US distributor Grasshopper Films.
  • In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the film will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer after our broadcast date, expected to be announced soon. DVDs will be available in September 2021. 
  • If you live in Israel, streaming and DVDs will be available in March 2020.
  • For everyone else, you can pre-order the DVD internationally through Grasshopper Films. We’re also planning a worldwide Video-on-Demand (VOD) release in December for participating countries (excluding those listed above, and some others). 

Note that our DVD release date has shifted – we now expect to have DVDs ready to send out by mid-November. All DVDs will include closed captions in English for the hearing impaired, subtitles in several languages, and special extras we rescued from the cutting room floor. DVDs won’t be region-specific, so viewers around the world should be able to watch them.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “Bicycle” on Vimeo, Cool 3D World shows what happens when five green men decide to ride a bicycle.

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

51 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/22/19 All I Said To My Wife Was That That Pixel Scroll Was Good Enough For Jehovah

  1. @11: the voice of Fester was definitely Christopher Lloyd, but the skin wig (and fright wig early on) radically changed his face. I had no idea who he was in 1984, so I completely missed that he played John BigbooTAY. (not a crxn.)

    @11bis: Yes, picking a favorite Graham Joyce novel is hard. No, I’m not going to try; they’re all quirky, and I’m wary of recommending any.

    The BBC has an interview (partly transcribed) with a female gynecologist who is working with NASA on whether there are any differences in gender healths in space. Interesting details on what affects who more.

    @Martin: ?

  2. A science fiction film with a strong focus on Jeff Goldblum’s attractiveness: Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)

    Less so: The Fly (1986)

  3. (8) Is it just me or does this sound more like an adaptation of Prelude or Forward than anything from the original trilogy’s stories?

    Martin

  4. 11) As it happens, I saw Derek Jacobi tonight when I rewatched Underworld: Evolution (the second in the vampires vs. werewolves/Kate Beckinsale in skintight pleather franchise) — he had a not-insignificant role in the film.

  5. (1) I’m right there with you Jeff. Except for the next time bit. Or this time. Life’s too short! Done with the franchise. I bet there’s plenty on this site alone who feel the same.

  6. 9) Ken Loach at least has a point. But it goes for most Hollywood movies that are optimized for revenue. Including the praised Oscars winners.

  7. Watching the Bicycle video reminded me to tell you about a scene in a novel I recently read, a 1952 mystery by Michael Gilbert called Death in Captivity. Set in an Italian prisoner of war camp near the end of World War II (Gilbert himself spent part of WWII in such a camp), it concerns a prisoner found dead in a tunnel under one of the living quarters huts. The other prisoners don’t want to give up that well-established tunnel, so they decide to tell the Italians that he was found in a just-begun tunnel under a different hut, a tunnel less painful to sacrifice. But how are they going to get the body to the other hut?

    The guards hear yelling and cheering going on, and wonder what the stupid English are up to now. Oh, it’s a foot race through the camp, but with each racer carrying another prisoner on his shoulders. Silly English, they think, and tune them out. The guy carrying the dead body as his “teammate” ducks into the other hut, they drop the body into the tunnel, “find” it later that day, and report it to the commandant.

    I just found that so clever! There’s a lot of similar humor in the novel (Gilbert says the Italian camps were much more survivable than the German ones), as well as sheer terror at times. I enjoyed it a lot.

  8. Hampus Eckerman on October 22, 2019 at 9:51 pm said:

    9) Ken Loach at least has a point. But it goes for most Hollywood movies that are optimized for revenue. Including the praised Oscars winners

    I want to see a Ken Loach Marvel film now though.

  9. 17) frhe Placebo Effect Works And You Can Catch It From Your Doctorom looks like a “from” with a random touchpad touch moving the cursor into an unexpected place while typing something that should’ve been elsewhere. Probably snuck in from item 19.

    Random cursor-moved-completely-elsewhere happens way too frequently while writing about Trigger’s continued adventures.

  10. 1) Done with STAR WARS for more than a few years. If the companies weren’t making money off the toys and games, the franchise would vanish.

    Dr Who placebo?

    Karel Capek’s play has been revised, known now as ROSSUM’S UNIVERSAL ROOMBAS…

  11. 1) I haven’t gone to see any Star Wars movies since Rogue One, because a) I can’t imagine a better Star Wars movie than that and b) the kid hasn’t gotten to them yet. When the kid gets to them, I watch them and I expect I’ll enjoy them. But it’s not going to be like standing in line in 1977 was ever again.

    9) I want to see Ken Loach’s Scrap Iron Man, based on a story by China Mieville.

  12. @9, William Blake said, ‘When money is discussed, art is impossible.’”

    Then I guess Ken Loach is fine with people pirating his movies. After all, if he doesn’t want to get paid for his work…

    I’m very impatient with the idea that money somehow pollutes “art”, as if the great artists of the past weren’t commissioned, and PAID, by people to do their artwork. Michaelangelo didn’t guerrilla-paint the Sistene Chapel on the sly, like a Renaissance Banksy.

  13. 1) I’m looking forward to Rise Of Skywalker. The last trailer is very cinematic and I want to see how they sort everything out, but I worry that the plot may fail (like other J.J. Abrams films).

  14. @Ingvar (re “frhe…”): aauugghh! Not a touchpad error — I don’t use touchpads (fingers too wide and clumsy). MS Notepad has this charming habit of sometimes turning Ctrl-V (“paste”) into “jump up several lines” (probably also a reflection of my clumsiness, but I’ve never experimented to figure out what combination of keys actually does this); usually I catch it. My apologies to @OGH for not cleaning up the soup before emailing the items.

    The bicycle video was fun, and ISTM an indicator of how cheap some tech has become. @Jeff Smith’s response is entirely believable — cf the vaulting horse that was used to conceal a tunnel entrance (I think that was presented as a true story rather than just another myth…).

  15. “Michaelangelo didn’t guerrilla-paint the Sistene Chapel on the sly, like a Renaissance Banksy.”

    I kinda like the idea of a Renaissance Banksy, as absurd a concept as that might be 🙂

  16. What the anti-Marvel group is determined to avoid noting is all films are product as all books and all music as well. I’m delighted that Arkady Martine’s A Memory called Empire was published by Tor but I know that expect it to make money for them. If their series doesn’t money, future novels likely won’t happen..

    And likewise whoever financed Loach’s will expect to make money as will Hasbro who brought their existing distributor. Making tens of millions on a film as he does means he’s making product, too. It’s all sausage. Some might be vegan (awful idea) but they still are sausage.

  17. I think there is a difference between pure commercial movies made for optimizing revenue and movies made for generating a net win, but not necessary the highest win possible. Indy films and films sponsored by state or the like have some different lines of freedom with regards to art. The documentary in the Criterion collection of Brazil is very interesting in showing how the studio thought when they made the Love Conquers All cut. Also, reading the book Save The Cat is also interesting about how to write a movie script and exactly what patterns to follow to make it more sellable (i.e more likely to generate a profit).

    So I am positive to the arguments about the pure commercialism and about how “art” may suffer from it. But you can’t limit these arguments purely to Superhero movies. And you also have to accept that even there, everything isn’t played for safe and secure revenue.

  18. The art/commerce environment gets more complicated (or even perverse) the more money is at stake and the more “cooks” are messing with the soup. My view of the movie end of this is strongly influenced by three writers’-eye books about the biz: John Gregory Dunne’s Monster and William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell? (especially the Dunne). I also recall Dan Keyes’ telling wonderfully scandalous stories about the making of Charly and how the production process is big honeypot of money that everybody wants to dip into.

    And all that preceded the consolidation of movie-TV-publishing into ever-more-concentrated corporations, so that whatever Disney doesn’t own, Comcast or Time Warner does. None of these outfits is what I would call art-centric, even though much of what they sell is art of one kind or another. (Or the means of distributing said art-like commodities.) In that environment, it’s a miracle that anything resembling autonomous art gets made at all.

  19. Hampus notes So I am positive to the arguments about the pure commercialism and about how “art” may suffer from it. But you can’t limit these arguments purely to Superhero movies. And you also have to accept that even there, everything isn’t played for safe and secure revenue.

    Certainly everything isn’t played for safe and secure revenue but we’re still in a capitalist system so has to pay the ferryman. Loach’s films are low budget but some still tens of millions to produce which means they’ve got sell a lot of tickets to even break even.

    Film audiences like MCU films. Even Iron-Man 3 made a billion dollars more at the box office than it cost to make. They’re popular culture which is to say they’re entertaining to lots of people and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that being the dominant way films are successful.

  20. @Cat Eldridge: “What the anti-Marvel group is determined to avoid noting is all films are product as all books and all music as well.”

    True. But not all product is produced the same way. John Sayles went to some trouble and personal expense to make Return of the Seacaucus Seven without kissing Hollywood’s rancid ass. Michael Moore did much the same with Roger and Me.

    Not all product is just product; some that is just product is still pretty great.

  21. Hot take which I’m sure won’t be a bit controversial: The Last Jedi didn’t really feel like a Star Wars movie because it was actually pretty good! 😉

    Also, Rogue One is somewhat overrated, while Solo is a bit underrated.

    Now, let me just take a deep breath, and…ok, I’m ready for all the death threats. 😀

  22. @ Xtifr

    Hot take which I’m sure won’t be a bit controversial: The Last Jedi didn’t really feel like a Star Wars movie because it was actually pretty good! ?

    I totally agree. The whole casino subplot could have been shortened, but otherwise I really liked The Last Jedi. Dare I say it, but I also agree with you about Rogue One and with some thought even agreed with you about Solo!

    What’s with all this harmony?

  23. Jeff Smith: As you may know, Michael Gilbert wrote quite a few other good to excellent stories, mostly crime and suspense fiction. I recall loving best his short stories featuring a pair of quietly workmanlike and rather cold-blooded British spies, collected in “Games Without Rules” and then the eponymous “Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens.”

    Chip Hitchcock, yes, “The Wooden Horse” by Eric Williams is based on the true story of an escape (by Williams and a few others) from a German prison camp in World War II. (Same camp, different compound as in the Paul Brickhill book — and the later movie — “The Great Escape.”) Apparently they did in fact conceal a tunnel trap door under a vaulting horse in the exercise yard.

    Guess I read more than SF when I was a kid …

  24. John A Arkansawyer says

    True. But not all product is produced the same way. John Sayles went to some trouble and personal expense to make Return of the Seacaucus Seven without kissing Hollywood’s rancid ass. Michael Moore did much the same with Roger and Me.

    Not all product is just product; some that is just product is still pretty great.

    Sayles I’ll agree with, Moore I’m much less certain on. Roger and Me was after-all distributed by Warner Bros which is as deep into being Hollywood as you can get.

    All product is still product. It’s just that’s some is really great product. And that has nothing to do with how much it costs to make if we limit this to just films. The animated Suicide Squad film is far better than the live action Suicide Squad film and cost a fraction of the budget of the latter.

  25. (17) FWIW, paragraph six of the quoted text seems to have had a copy of the subject title from (19) randomly inserted. Probably a Crispr-Cas9 erroneous edit.

  26. @Cat Eldridge: A fair point about the distribution of “Roger and Me”. It was still produced before that, though, and to the best of my knowledge, Moore didn’t cut it to suit.

  27. On a completely different note, is the new Watchmen gory? I ask because the movie was right on the edge of how much gore I can stand. I believe I looked away once during it. I’m very interested in finding a way to watch the new one, but I’m very sensitive to gore in moving pictures. It sounds good enough to endure some, but not too much.

  28. @4: have finally sat down and read this, and am appalled but not surprised that the local SFF bookstore doesn’t carry @Heather Rose Jones’s work; I remember when the ancestor of the current local SFF store* told me that Matt Ruff’s first book (Fool on the Hill) wasn’t genre, despite both clear elements and a review in NYRSF — although the non-mimetic parts of that book are quieter than in Alpennia and IIRC not plot drivers. I suspect pure SFF bookstores are so much a labor-of-love that individual quirks have more sway than in a chain store. I wonder whether her local store carries Swordspoint, which lacks the overt magic of Alpennia.

    The current edition is more games than books, which is probably a survival tactic but doesn’t help selection.

    @Terry Hunt: Ingvar noted that several hours ago.

  29. @Cassy B.
    I’ve been waiting also – it’s not yet available for preorder from the publisher, Bella Books. (It’s scheduled to come out 15 Nov.)

  30. Chip says Chip Hitchcock on October 23, 2019 at 7:55 pm said:
    @4: have finally sat down and read this, and am appalled but not surprised that the local SFF bookstore doesn’t carry @Heather Rose Jones’s work; I remember when the ancestor of the current local SFF store* told me that Matt Ruff’s first book (Fool on the Hill) wasn’t genre, despite both clear elements and a review in NYRSF — although the non-mimetic parts of that book are quieter than in Alpennia and IIRC not plot drivers. I suspect pure SFF bookstores are so much a labor-of-love that individual quirks have more sway than in a chain store. I wonder whether her local store carries Swordspoint, which lacks the overt magic of Alpennia.

    I think you’re dissing your local bookstore rather harshly without cause. My local bookstore which has an extensive SFF section doesn’t carry her either and they do over three million a year in business. Getting a given author who’s not well known into a bookstore is hard work and requires real effort by someone unless a staffer in the bookstore falls in love with that author.

    Only one of the three bookstores within walking distance of my apartment carries Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire. I asked why and as I expected, one staffer had read a galley and loved it. Otherwise they’d not have stocked it. So tell me, why would they sight unseen carry the books of any author whose not going to be one who sells well without that clerk doing it?

  31. @Chip: It’s nice to see a mention of “Fool on the Hill” – I read that when it was new based on the review in Asimovs (I miss Baird Searles!). It’s definitely fantasy – aside from the hints of a Tolkien connection, there’s a supernaturally animated blowup doll, a possessed vehicle and intelligent animals (if I recall correctly – it’s been 30 years). I always meant to ask Ruff if he knew a friend of mine whose time at Cornell might have overlapped with his.

  32. (4) @various people

    The pre-order links at my publisher will be live on Nov 1. They reserve e-book sales to themselves for the first month and then release ebooks to other outlets. You can pre-order the hard copy currently from the usual online outlets (though not yet from the publisher!). I’m sure they have a logical reason for all this that makes business sense within the big picture, but it’s a bit hard on me when dealing with a readership that’s used to a different model.

    Regarding bookstore availability…for my local SFF bookstore, it isn’t due to lack of asking or lack of people inquiring about the books or lack of being familiar with me as a person or as an author. I’ve never gotten any answer more specific than “we don’t think it’s the sort of thing our customers would be interested in” and I’ve stopped asking.

  33. @John A Arkansawer: On a completely different note, is the new Watchmen gory?

    Only one episode has aired so far. I would describe the violent content like this: a disturbing scene of mass chaos and seen-from-a-distance violence during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a disturbing but not graphic scene where blood runs out from under a door, an incredibly gross sequence of dead cows being shot to pieces while someone is trying to hide behind them, several dead-but-not-mangled murder victims, and a couple of ordinary fight scenes.

    The overall aesthetic isn’t anything like Zack Snyder, so I wouldn’t expect to see any slow-motion shots featuring bullet wounds and broken bones, but you never know.

  34. @Cat Eldridge: Apparently I wasn’t clear enough when I said “the ancestor of the current local SFF store” and spoke of the quirkiness of such stores. I wasn’t talking about a random mundane bookstore that spawned a genre store, or even the best mundane bookstore in New England (whatever and wherever that is) — I was talking about an SFF-specific bookstore, which told me the Ruff wasn’t carried because it wasn’t genre. That’s not a commercial decision; that’s just blind stupidity, just like someone claiming the Alpennia books are not genre (despite at least one of them being built around the refurbishment of a magical ritual that has been allowed to decay). Worse, this was back before the current flood of “paranormal romance” and the many sub-sub-sub-genres that each get their own line today; it’s not as if even the upstairs-over-part-of-a-restaurant store I used to go to lacked space to carry everything genre-related. (As a side note: I’d have thought that a book about magic seeping into a university would be an easy sale half a block from the US’s oldest university, not to mention a mile from one of the world’s largest reading-based clubs (also university-based).)

  35. @9, William Blake said, ‘When money is discussed, art is impossible.’”

    Then I guess Ken Loach is fine with people pirating his movies. After all, if he doesn’t >want to get paid for his work…

    What you would appear to mean would be that William Blake is fine with people pirating Ken Loach’s movies. That does not seem to me much of a “gotcha”.

    For me, I’m fine with watching some action movies (superhero movies seem to generally fall into this category) on long haul flights. No brainpower needed to understand, and the action passes the time.

    Though there are a lot of superhero movies I would not watch even on a long flight. I much regretted “Age of Ultron”… it may have been others cup of tea, but it certainly was not mine (too much too obvious for a start).

    OTOH could I properly enjoy “art cinema” on long haul flights if provided? I think not. Airlines providing proper beds in cattle class would be better than providing better films!.

    someone else wrote strangely

    vegan (awful idea)
    I am not, but I don’t see anything awful about it.

  36. @Heather Rose Jones: that’s an … interesting … response; I wonder whether they think the books have girl or lesbian cooties, or they’re just underestimating their customers, some of whom are probably not looking for “just like this only different”. Or they may be unnecessarily wary of small-press books; ISTM that if “Larry Smith Books” (bookshop seen solely at conventions — I forget whether Sally has renamed it) can carry Alpennia, a fixed-in-place genre bookshop should. Sometimes the world goes as it will.

  37. @Takamaru Misako: “Though there are a lot of superhero movies I would not watch even on a long flight. I much regretted “Age of Ultron””

    Oddly enough, that’s how I saw that one. I didn’t have sound for most of it; when I got sound, it wasn’t any better. Of the MCU movies I’ve seen so far, that’s the dud.

  38. @Takamaru Misako: It was abundantly clear that Loach was endorsing Blake’s views–and thus, by implication, endorsing the pirating of his own movies.

    In any case, Blake’s claim is clearly utter nonsense. Whatever you may think of the MCU, it comes out of the tradition of Shakespeare: 100% money-grubbing work written purely with the goal of getting asses in seats! Loach (and Blake) can think that’s wrong all they want, but in the end, Loach isn’t worthy to carry William “It’s all about the Benjamins guineas” Shakespeare’s codpiece, let alone pass judgment on his art or his motives. 🙂

  39. @Chip Hitchcock – I just bought some books from Sally at OVFF (including HRJ’s 3rd Alpennian book). Checks are still made out to Larry Smith.

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