Pixel Scroll 10/25/21 I Am The Pontiff Of Pixel, Scroller Of All I Survey

(1) I’D LIKE TO MEET HIS TAILOR. James Davis Nicoll is “Asking the Tough Questions About Superheroes and Public Nudity” at Tor.com. Don’t tell me this hasn’t troubled you, too!

…If [the superhero is] prone to turning into living flame? Clothes go up in flame. Super-cold? Cloth turns brittle when frozen. Change size? Clothing shreds. Or a teeny-tiny size-changer can slip between the weave of the cloth. Then change back to normal human and oops, no clothes.

In the old days, the Comics Code Authority guaranteed a certain level of protection from power-induced nudity. The Hulk’s pants size might go from M to XXXXXXXL but somehow his trousers always stretched enough to provide him with shorts. Similarly, Doctor Phosphorus’ skin incinerated everything it touched, despite which he somehow always had enough of his trousers left to avoid being charged with indecent exposure (well, in addition to terrorism and murder)….

(2) RECLAMATION 2022 VENUE ANNOUNCEMENT. The Reclamation 2022 committee today announced that next year’s UK Eastercon venue will be the Radisson Hotel & Conference Centre London Heathrow. The con will run April 15-18, 2022.

The hotel, formerly known as the Park Inn, is a venue that will be familiar to regular science fiction convention goers and is easily accessed via various transport links. In addition to the hotel, there are local pubs and restaurants and central London is a tube ride away.

The committee would like to thank the community for their enormous patience. The current global situation made the process far more difficult than we’d hoped. It has taken over two years of searching to find a suitable venue for a convention of our size that will accommodate non-corporate gatherings.

We did want to announce the venue much earlier in the year. We had hoped to bring Eastercon to Brighton for 2022. Sadly, the venue required more extensive renovations than they, and we, first anticipated and it’s no longer available at this time. We hope to see an Eastercon there in the future.

To attend Reclamation, the 72nd Eastercon, you need to purchase membership for the convention. All information can be found on the website at https://reclamation2022.co.uk/membership/ . Membership can also be purchased at Eastercon fan tables, which can be found at various forthcoming fan conventions….

(3) MISSING CREDITS. The Irish Times’ John Connolly contends women writers of genre fiction are doubly ignored: “Pulp friction: Irish women’s place in genre writing should be rescued from ignominy”.

… The assault on genre writing in Ireland began as early as 1892, when Douglas Hyde, eventually to become the first president of the Irish Free State, gave a speech to the Irish National Literary Society in Dublin in which he urged his listeners to set their faces “sternly against penny dreadfuls, shilling shockers”. To Hyde, genre writing was not only “garbage” and “vulgar”, it was also “English”, which made it undesirable in the extreme. It had no relevance to his conception of Irishness, which was limited to everything “most smacking of the soil, most Gaelic”. If it was genre fiction, it wasn’t Irish literature. In fact, it probably wasn’t literature at all….

(4) PODCASTER Q&A. Cora Buhlert has posted a new “Fancast Spotlight” for Light On Light Through, a podcast by Paul Levinson: “Fancast Spotlight: Light On Light Through”.

 … Today, I’m pleased to feature Light On Light Through, a podcast run by Paul Levinson, who’s a science fiction author, singer/songwriter, media critic and professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University.

Paul Levinson is clearly a very busy man, so I’m thrilled to welcome him to my blog today to talk about Light On Light Through….

(5) SUBGENRE CHALLENGES. Cora Buhlert, who sent this link, notes she’s not the only one who’s interviewing semiprozine editors. Bobby Derie just interviewed Erica Ciko Campbell and Desmond Rhae Harris, editors of the new magazine of Starward Shadows Quarterly“Editor Spotlight: Interview with Erica Ciko Campbell and Desmond Rhae Harris of Starward Shadows Quarterly”.

“We’re interested in exploring the wicked, strange places that walk the line between reality and nightmare—the alien, the absurd, and above all else, the weird.” —Starward Shadows Quarterly Submissions page

Aside from Lovecraft, other thematic inspirations cited for Starward Shadows Quarterly include J. R. R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard. How do you handle the historical racism and colonialist tropes inherent in fantasy and sword & sorcery?

DRH: This is a tricky topic. The best I can explain it is that we always look for ways to bring fresh, modern insight on those topics, and we deliberately seek out authors who provide that. If a story doesn’t have a new, enlightened viewpoint that shatters racism and colonialism and instead falls back on addressing those grief-ridden topics in the same, tired, old ways, then we simply won’t publish the story—no matter how good it is otherwise. It isn’t enough for something to be “not that problematic.” It needs to actively counteract the social impact that previous authors have had in these difficult areas in order for us to accept it….

(6) THE DUNES ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC. The New York Times tells “How Hans Zimmer Conjured the Otherworldly Sounds of ‘Dune’”.

…For “Dune,” by contrast, Zimmer wanted to conjure sounds that nobody had ever heard before.

“I felt like there was a freedom to get away from a Western orchestra,” he said recently, speaking in the Warner Bros. offices overlooking Hudson Yards in New York. “I can spend days making up sounds.”

The resulting soundtrack might be one of Zimmer’s most unorthodox and most provocative. Along with synthesizers, you can hear scraping metal, Indian bamboo flutes, Irish whistles, a juddering drum phrase that Zimmer calls an “anti-groove,” seismic rumbles of distorted guitar, a war horn that is actually a cello and singing that defies Western musical notation — just to name a few of its disparate elements.

The score combines the gigantic, chest-thumping sound of Zimmer’s best known work of the last decade with the spirit of radical sonic experimentation. The weirdness is entirely befitting the saga of a futuristic, intergalactic civilization whose denizens are stalked by giant sandworms and revere a hallucinogenic substance called spice….

(7) IT’S NOT JUST A SURPRISING IDEA – IT’S THE LAW! “Pablo Escobar’s Cocaine Hippos Are Legally People, Court Rules”Gizmodo has the story.

Pablo Escobar’s hippos have a lawyer. And a good one at that. In a U.S. first, a court recognized the animals as legal persons. That could be the hippos’ salvation in the ongoing fight about what to do with one of the world’s most rotund and dangerous invasive species.

… Now, there are up to 120 hippos roaming around Colombia, and they are considered one of the top invasive species in the world. Authorities have weighed a plan to kill the hippos off and on since 2009, and its recently gained steam.

Last July, Colombian attorney Luis Domingo Gómez Maldonado filed a lawsuit on the hippos’ behalf to save them from being euthanized. Instead, the case recommends sterilization. Colombian officials announced a plan to use a chemical contraceptive developed by the U.S. Agriculture Department to sterilize “the main group” of the hippos, and the region’s environmental agency Cornare began to implement the plan on Friday, darting 24 hippos. 

… “The Colombian legal system can’t compel someone in the U.S. to provide testimony or to produce documents, but we have this federal law that allows interested persons in Colombia to go to the U.S. and obtain that ability to obtain documents and testimony.” Christopher Berry, the attorney overseeing the U.S. case who also serves as managing director at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said. “So we applied for the hippos’ rights to compel their testimony in order to support the Colombian litigation, and now the [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio] has granted that application, recognizing that the hippos are interested persons.”…

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1968 – Fifty-three years this evening on NBC, Star Trek’s “Spectre of the Gun” first aired. It was written by former producer Gene L. Coon (under the name of Lee Cronin) and directed by Vincent McEveety.  It had one of the larger guest casts — Ron Soble  as Wyatt Earp, Bonnie Beecher as  Sylvia,  Charles Maxwell  as Virgil Earp, Rex Holman as Morgan Earp,  Sam Gilman as Doc Holliday,  Charles Seel as Ed the bartender, Bill Zuckert  as Johnny Behan,  Abraham Sofaer as the Melkotian Voice and Ed McCready as Barber. You know the premise, so I won’t detail it here.  I will note that the budget wasn’t available to shoot on location on a full set, so instead a Western street of false building fronts and no sides was used. It’s considered one of the finest episodes of the original though Keith R.A. DeCandido of Tor.com inexplicably decided to criticize the episode for its historical inaccuracies. Huh? And I’ll note that the First Doctor had done an Old West story two years previously, “The Gunfighters” and the Eleventh Doctor will have his own such story as well, “A Town Called Mercy”.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 25, 1909 Whit Bissell. You most likely know him as Station Manager Lurry on “The Trouble With Tribbles”,  but his major contribution to the SFF genre was being in all thirty episodes of The Time Tunnel as Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk. He also did one-offs on The InvadersI Dream of JeannieThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaScience Fiction TheaterThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits. And yes, in the Time Machine film. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 25, 1940 Janet Fox. Author whose stories appeared in countless genre zines and anthologies between the Seventies and mid-Nineties.  Her long fiction, mostly the Scorpio Rising series, was done as Alex McDonough. She’s also know for the Scavenger’s Newsletter which featured a number of noted writers during its long including Linda Sherman, Jeff VanderMeer and Jim Lee. (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 25, 1955 Gale Anne Hurd, 66. Her first genre work was as Corman’s production manager on Battle beyond the Stars. (A decent forty-two percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) From there, we’ve such films as Æon Flux, the Terminator franchise, AliensAlien NationTremorsHulk and two of the Punisher films to name just some of her genre work. We’ll forgive her for the latter. 
  • Born October 25, 1955 Glynis Barber, 66. Soolin on Blake’s 7 for a series. She also appeared in The Hound of the Baskervilles (Ian Richard and Donald Churchill were Holmes and Watson) and a Sherlock Holmes series I didn’t know about, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson starring Geoffrey Whitehead and Donald Pickering. 
  • Born October 25, 1963 John Gregory Betancourt, 58. Writer best known most likely for his work In Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star TrekHerculesRobert Silverberg’s Time ToursDr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird TalesAmazing StoriesH. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of HorrorAdventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. His Wildpress Press has been nominated three times for World Fantasy Awards. 
  • Born October 25, 1971 Marko Kloos, 50. Author of two MilSF series, Frontlines and The Palladium Wards. His Lines of Departure was nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel at Sasquan on a slate organized by the Sad Puppies. In reaction to this, Kloos withdrew the novel from consideration for the award. He was subsequently honored by George R. R. Martin for this decision. And that gets him Birthday Honors. Four of his books have been Dragon Awards nominees in the Best Military SF or Fantasy category.
  • Born October 25, 1971 Elif Safak, 50. Turkish writer not currently under arrest though considered an opponent of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as she’s lived in the U.K. for eight years. She’s got three genre novels, one written originally in Turkish (Mahrem), The Gaze in its English translation, and two written in English, The Architect’s Apprentice (which was translated into Turkish as Ustam ve Ben)  and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.
  • Born October 25, 1989 Mia Wasikowska, 32. She’s Alice in Tim Burton’s creepy Alice in Wonderland and equally creepy Alice Through the Looking Glass. Rotten Tomatoes gave the first a fifty-three percent rating and the second a twenty-nine percent rating.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mutts warns us about what can go wrong with your magic spells. (A re-run of an earlier strip, but fans of puns won’t mind seeing it again.)
  • Frank and Ernest find out the Tooth Fairy has issues.
  • Off the Mark shows a truly terrifying Halloween costume for dinosaurs.
  • Batch Rejection demonstrates an efficient pet’s name.
  • And for the record, the current Dick Tracy team did a sign-off strip, as in, the current creative team is (apparently) moving on.

(11) A LEGEND IN HER OWN TIME. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has an appreciation of Ruthie Tompson, who met Walt Disney in 1918, worked for Disney animation for nearly 50 years, became a Disney Legend in 2000, and passed away recently at 111. “Ruthie Tompson, who died at age 111, was a Disney trailblazer in ‘a man’s world’”.

Ruthie Tompson, whose hand helped paint early Mickey Mouse, was the very picture of humility — even as she turned 110.

Tompson became an animation trailblazer in 1937, working among the scores of other young women in Disney’s famed Ink & Paint department — for long hours, relatively low pay and no screen credit — on the landmark feature “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”“We worked into the night, day after day, until we got it exactly right!” she told the Hollywood Reporter last year, from the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement community in Woodland Hills, Calif., while enduring the second global pandemic of her lifetime….

(12) SOMETHING TO DREAD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the lasting appeal of Nintendo’s sf game Metroid, whose 2021 extension, Metroid Dread, was recently released.

I can’t help thinking that perhaps in 2021, Metroid has been a victim of its own success.  Back in 1997, a game called Castlevania: Symphony of the Night borrowed elements from Super Metroid and set the mould for a genre unimaginatively dubbed the ‘metroidvania.’  These are titles united by their contiguous 2D maps and gameplay that juggles tense combat with exploration.  In recent years indie developers have followed in Metroid‘s footsteps to create modern classics such as the graceful Ori series, the haunting Hollow Knight, or the pixel art gauntlets of Dead Cells and Axiom Verge….

…These games have innovated to thoughtfully elevate Metroid‘s blueprint.  Hollow Knight and Ori And The Will Of The Wisps are among the most beautiful games I’ve played in years; Metroid Dread doesn’t quite deliver the same charm.  It’s certainly taut, engrossing, and slick, but I can’t help wondering if it might feel more revelatory if the original Metroid not been quite so influential in the first place.

(13) KEEPING UP WITH MILTON DAVIS. Oliver Brackenbury, whose podcast So I’m Writing a Novel… Cora Buhlert featured awhile ago, interviews Milton J. Davis in episode 20:  “Interview with Milton Davis about Sword & Soul”.

Milton J. Davis also has an interesting Kickstarter for an animated movie based on his Steamfunk novel From Here to Timbuktu“From Here to Timbuktu: A Steamfunk Action Adventure by MVmedia, LLC”.

… MVmedia has teamed up with Avaloy Studios to bring you this story as an animated series.  Milton Davis, the novel author, will write the script, with animation duties done by Avaloy Studios. The pledges from this Kickstarter will allow us to create the first five episodes of the series…. 

(14) GET AN EARFUL. The Cromcast posts its annual Halloween episode, where they discuss three vampire stories by Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and Bram Stoker: “A Weird Fiction Podcast: Cromtober 2021 – A Trio of Vampire Tales”.

Listen here as we discuss ‘Dracula’s Guest’ by Bram Stoker, ‘A Rendezvous in Averoigne’ by Clark Ashton Smith, and ‘The Horror from the Mound’ by Robert E. Howard!

(15) KITCHEN APPLIANCE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] First there is a credential, then there is no credential, then there is. The Schrödinger Drawer, or, the credential that walks through credenzas. (Via Steven J Vaughan-Nichol’s Facebook page.)

(16) WHAT’S UP D&DOC? Boing Boing reminds us “Bugs Bunny’s Official D&D Character Sheet Is A 15th-level Illusionist”.

Dragon Magazine #41 was published in April 1981. And it was in the pages of this official Dungeons & Dragons tome that the immortal deity known as Bugs Bunny was finally given its due as a playable character in the game, along with several other cartoon characters — or rather, “Saturday morning monsters.”…

(17) BLUE SKY. Space.com reports  “Blue Origin unveils plans to build a private space station called Orbital Reef by 2030”.

Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Space and several other partners announced today (Oct. 25) that they plan to build a commercial off-Earth outpost called Orbital Reef, which is scheduled to be up and running by the late 2020s.

Orbital Reef’s envisioned customers include national governments, private industry and space tourists, project team members said. The outpost will initially complement but eventually take the baton from the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to be retired in the 2028 to 2030 timeframe….

(18) MONEY IS THE CUBE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. “Star Trek beams up 2021 advent calendar themed to iconic villains”Digital Spy tells where you can buy one.

Star Trek is assimilating its 2021 advent calendar.

The iconic sci-fi franchise is turning to the dark side this festive season for an advent calendar designed to look just like the Cube ship used by the Borg alien race.

Any Stark Trek fan knows that a Borg Cube on the radar means serious trouble for the Federation because the cybernetic alien race will stop at nothing to conquer and assimilate their enemies….

Digital Spy will also tell you where to buy the Doctor Who 2021 advent calendar shaped like the TARDIS.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A guy who watched Star Trek IV too many times asks: Can you really fit two humpback whales on a Klingon ship? To answer that, first you have to deduce the size of a Bird of Prey.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael J. Lowrey, Cora Buhlert, Dan’l, Chris Barkley, Darrah Chavey, Rob Thornton, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

44 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/25/21 I Am The Pontiff Of Pixel, Scroller Of All I Survey

  1. (6) I really liked the Dune 2021 soundtrack as I watched the movie. At least two of Zimmer’s three Dune-related albums are on Apple Music, which means they are probably on Spotify.

    (first)

  2. (15) My parents had one credential who liked the drawer with the kitchen towels. She got in the back, where she was mostly invisible…. (black smoke longhair, gold eyes)

  3. Genre fiction: they’ve had it in for us, and not just in Ireland, since before I was born (and I’ve been in fandom a long time). When I got into fandom, litra’chuh looked down on us because… well, growth and character development. So along came New Wave, and we got all of that. Then they found other reasons. We’re the AI of literature, if we’ve got it, than it ain’t the real thing.

    Of course, in the meantime, litrachuh has turned into lit-fic. If it’s popular, it’s not Real Litrachuh… with the result that their readership has plummeted.

    My examples of that are1) Something Happened, by Catch-22 author Joeseph Heller, which is three months of a character’s life and bitching… with neither growth nor character development, and 2) The Beans of Egypt, Maine… which, from the reviews, tells of a family of people I do not want to move in next to me, but are unpleasant and as far as I read, not an interesting story.

    Praised be Ghu that we in the tenements of genre still remember that the idea is to tell a story that people want to read, to know what happens next.

  4. 9) Mia Wasikowska was also in Crimson Peak and in Only Lovers Left Alive, both of which were infinitely better than the Tim Burton Alice films.

  5. 1) You can always go the Alan Moore route and have a character who doesn’t were clothes at all, merely uses her color-changing power to change the color of her skin so it looks like she’s wearing clothes. (Distressingly that is among the least of the things wrong with Top Ten. Also they’re supernatural law enforcement; if you’re spending a lot of time in the debris that follows superhero fights you want clothes for reasons other than modesty. And no, this is never addressed.)

    On the lit-fic conversation, I ventured into the waters of a long list of literary magazines looking for new markets and wound up ranting about it on Dreamwidth, the main thrust being that out of a list that alleged to be of the 200 most prestigious markets in Lit World, I wound up with five markets I was willing to submit to. My sole criteria for this was “follows Yog’s Law”– ie doesn’t charge a reading fee and pays the writer at least a token amount. (A lot of them do seem to know that a reading fee is bad and go “We charge a service fee. This is not a reading fee.” Spoiler: it is totally a reading fee.)

    My hypothesis on why it works this way when over here in genre land that’s a good way to land yourself on Writer Beware was the difference between commercial and “literary” fiction, in that many of the lit-fic people seem to feel being submitted for All The Major Awards should be compensation enough. (And then people complain that mid-level lit mags are all mediocre white men, to which I’m like “And who has the money for all those submission fees, as a group?”)

  6. (6) Yup, three different albums cover the music of Dune, but are released, for some obscure reason, on crappy CD-Rs (!!!) – at full price! – and not on real CDs. The Three Big record companies really want to steer the listening audiences to stupid streaming with inferior sound, in order to maximize the take. Capitalism is simply great…

  7. 3) Heh – when I was in Ireland for Worldcon, I visited St Patrick’s and his memorial there was one of the ones I took a picture of. (As well as Turlough O’Carolan’s, which was my entire reason for going there in the first place.)

  8. 15) I always thought they recharged in sunlight.
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/309763280620808483/
    Mine do, then Save/Sleep for 12 hours and discharge it all at 3am…

    “Spectre of the Gun” was my first exposure to the OK Corral tale, so the traditional ‘the Earps are the Heros of the Story’ presented in the movies i saw afterwards always felt wrong to me.

  9. (8) “Spectre of the Gun” is one of those episodes which justifies Kirk’s novel way of handling the Kobayashi Maru – when the universe is filled with godlike entities who can change the rules at will, why pretend that the rules of the universe are fixed in a training scenario?

  10. @JeffWarner
    You mean there are people out there routing for the Earps? Weird. It’s like the guys who chear for the Death Star.

  11. 1) I seem to remember Bruce Banner trying to cover himself up in one of the Avengers movies after he falls to the Earth as The Hulk.

    12) It took me months and months to finish Super Metroid because I hadn’t realized one of the glass tubes was destructible. I was delighted at the ingenuity when I shot it in frustration and it cracked and gave me access to a new area. One of my favourite games of all time. I’m tempted to get the latest, but suspect my reflexes and patience may no longer be up to the task.

    19) I worked on a Star Trek game in the 90s, and we had a Bird Of Prey in it. Not sure how carefully scaled it was. The game was one of the earliest 3D Command And Conquer-style games (turns out 3D is not the best view for this style of game….) One of the units you could build was a factory that could produce other mobile units. I remember the hilarity when we noticed that one of the floating tanks was too big to fit through the animating factory door.

  12. “Spectre of the Gun” was my first exposure to the OK Corral tale, so the traditional ‘the Earps are the Heros of the Story’ presented in the movies i saw afterwards always felt wrong to me.

    Same here. Also, they shot Chekhov, which disturbed me greatly, because he was my favourite along with Spock.

  13. 7
    Thank you for this link! The future gets stranger! Poor hippos! Don’t kill them! (Not that I can house them, or anything, but still…)

    This scroll has given me “shilling shockers” and “the credential that walks through credenzas.”. A solid day’s research. I can nap now.

    Concerning lit fic and genre…my regret is how “lit” genre has become. If you dispense with the misogyny and the colonialist/racist trappings, the old 20th century prose sensibility of sf has a lot to say for it. Short, punchy, focused stories that are fun to read and can be enjoyed over a weekend or on holiday. All this epic, wordy, bloated, literary kitchen sink prose is too much for an old duffer such as I am.

  14. @NickPheas–

    You mean there are people out there routing for the Earps? Weird. It’s like the guys who chear for the Death Star.

    The Clanton Gang were a quite nasty, violent cattle rustling gang. The Earps were lawmen, not perfect guys but generally sensible. And Tombstone was a pretty peaceful town, except for the two years the Clanton gang were at their height of activity.

    The godlike aliens in this case showed a remarkable fidelity to the historical story, if you first grant that from their point of view, the Enterprise crew were Not The Good Guys.

  15. The Earps were officers of the law, trying to enforce the local gun control laws. So they have that going for them.

  16. @mark, it’s curious you mention Something Happened and The Beans of Egypt, Maine, as I’ve read (sort of) both. The Heller was forty-some years ago and I recall practically nothing about it. My wife and I listened to Beans (on cassettes!) during a long drive in the early 90s. The titular family was terrible and the book was depressing.

    (16) The description is great, but there’s no way Bugs’ Charisma is a mere 15 even if it didn’t matter much in AD&D game mechanics.

  17. Interesting Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Robert Silverberg’s 1971 fantasy-horror novel Book of Skulls is available for $1.99 at the Usual Suspects. I really liked this book upon first reading, but there’s a huge caveat–Silverberg makes male homosexuality important to the plot and since I am a cis het straight guy, I can’t definitively say whether Silverberg’s portrayal of gay men is successful or not. The book may have some historical importance, and that matters I suppose.

  18. Yeah, the litfic thing. Their awards and grants also often charge a submission fee. What has always gotten me about their reading fees is that many of these periodicals claim that it’s necessary to pay for the use of their submission portal–which is one of the common submission portals used in genre. Is there a difference? Only inasmuch as genre tends to follow the concept that money flows to the writer.

    I have been gobsmacked multiple times by the justifications used by litfic editors for charging.

    Then again, litfic also stubbornly clung to hardcopy submissions long after genre made electronic submissions the norm.

    I have been known to attend a local literary writers conference/workshop and found it useful. Interestingly, the instructors have been genre-friendly for the most part. But it’s the MFA candidates and the other writers who have been resistant and–to some extent–dismissive.

  19. “A Sixshooter in an Earp’s Holster Must be fired at Chekov just before the Act II break” (Chekhov’s law)

  20. Litfic discussions always make me think of Neal Stephenson’s experience https://slashdot.org/story/04/10/20/1518217/neal-stephenson-responds-with-wit-and-humor

    “a while back, I went to a writers’ conference. I was making chitchat with another writer, a critically acclaimed literary novelist who taught at a university. She had never heard of me. After we’d exchanged a bit of of small talk, she asked me “And where do you teach?” just as naturally as one Slashdotter would ask another “And which distro do you use?”

    I was taken aback. “I don’t teach anywhere,” I said.

    Her turn to be taken aback. “Then what do you do?”

    “I’m…a writer,” I said. Which admittedly was a stupid thing to say, since she already knew that.

    “Yes, but what do you do?”

    I couldn’t think of how to answer the question—I’d already answered it!

    “You can’t make a living out of being a writer, so how do you make money?” she tried.

    “From…being a writer,” I stammered. “

  21. Joyce Reynolds-Ward: MFA candidates fear genre is catching. Reminds me of a CS Lewis quote about guarding his atheism.

  22. @ Mike Glyer:

    MFA candidates fear genre is catching. Reminds me of a CS Lewis quote about guarding his atheism.

    This reminds me of the Atwood (no I’m not SF) vs Le Guin (yes you are SF) intellectual slugfest. I was amused when Atwood tried to find a way to eat her genre cake without anybody noticing.

  23. So what is “literary” fiction? The texts taught in, say, university English courses? In the two decades I spent in the classroom (1966-86), that meant Joyce, Faulkner, Phil Farmer, Katherine Ann Porter, Dashiell Hammett, Tolstoy, John Varley, Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, George MacDonald Fraser, Larry Niven, Vonnegut, Hawthorn, Chekhov, Tillie Olson, Flannery O’Connor, Grace Paley. . . .

    “Genre” just means “category,” and that means different things for marketing analysts, bookstore layout designers, Wikipedia contributors, general readers, acquisition editors, ad buyers, and literary critics. Genre traits operate strongly on both ends of the production-consumption pipeline: What does an audience look for, and how does a writer satisfy that preference? It’s a grand game of expectation and satisfaction–and the writer’s satisfaction fits in there as well. Critics of the taxonomic kind trail along behind, trying to make sense of it all.

  24. Oh yeah.
    I do not have a good auditory memory, so when I’m in a workshop doing oral critiques of MSs, I’ll often take frequent notes. One MFA candidate went hysterical and accused me within the workshop of planning to plagiarize everyone (after all, one knows that genre writers can’t do things for themselves, right?). The instructor handled it very well, enough that I suspected it is a frequent occurrence in MFA workshops…sigh.

  25. Russell, the impression I have received is that litfic is supposed to be more about Significant Beautiful Language and theme rather than plot.

    Oh, and the use of gimmicks such as em-dashes to indicate dialogue instead of quotation marks. Yes, I’m snarking.

  26. 8). I personally hate that Trek episode. I consider it a typically bad 3rd season story, severely hampered by the cash poor filming budget, much as Batman was in season 3.
    9). Glynnis Barber was also in a delightful romp called “The Wicked Lady,” starring Faye Dunaway and Alan Bates, a remake of an earlier James Mason film. It’s notable for the whip fight between Dunaway and pre-Trek Marina Sirtis.

  27. Rob Thornton: I too have mixed feelings about The Book of Skulls, and yet I find myself rereading it every four years or so. I don’t think the Silverberg of that era had any idea that there are as many different “gay lifestyles” as there are straight ones (alternatives to that dichotomy not being much talked about 50 years ago), and so wrote what would seem to the gay male couples I know to be frankly cliché, and laughable in the case of Ned’s confession scene. (In a scene in the same novel, three of the roommates get high together and Silverberg writes some silly things about the effects of marijuana, although I presume he’s learned better about that as well.) The nutritious things about the novel, the aspects that keep it fresh, far outweigh these problems for me.

  28. @andrew: many, many years ago (like the eighties) Dick Peck, who at the time was a professor at UP, I think it was, telling us at a PSFS meeting how he had been at a faculty party. Someone’s wife came up to him, and commented that she’d heard he recently published something, and snidely asked what he’d paid to publish. She was outraged when he told her they’d paid him.

  29. @mark: That’s great. Fred Pohl has a story in “The Way the Future Was” which (if I recall correctly) involved him meeting an Italian noble in Europe who wished to be an SF author; “Who” asked the noble, “do I see to arrange for a writer to compose my novel, and what is the usual fee?” Again, if I recall correctly, Fred had a sudden dangerous vision and gave the name of someone he knew as the appropriate contact to make arrangements and negotiate fees with.

  30. Brown Robin on October 26, 2021 at 6:38 am said:

    [wordy, bloated, kitchen sink comment elided]

    There is help. Try the recommended SF lists. There is a good list on this site. The SF short story market is vibrant. There are several excellent SF magazines online as well as in print. Also, novellas are a big (small) thing. Some of the best SF published in the last few years is at shorter length.

  31. Andrew (not Werdna) said:
    “A Sixshooter in an Earp’s Holster Must be fired at Chekov just before the Act II break” (Chekhov’s Law)
    …and just to close the Klein Bottle/Time Loop on THAT law, I would insist on the correct spelling of Chekov’s Quicksand, because in such a scenario Walter Koenig would scream so well.

  32. I like “Spectre of the Gun” especially as I came to understand that the slapdash nature of the setting (as noted, driven by budget) was a good way of explaining how the setting was pulled out of Kirk’s mind, so it was weirdly vague.

    I have a copy of The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral — And How It Changed the American West by Jeff Gunn that I found very informative about the gunfight. I can’t remember where I bought it, but its condition suggests to me that it might have been at Whitney’s Bookshelf in downtown Tonopah. That would be somewhat appropriate, as Wyatt Earp lived for a short time in Tonopah, where he lived for a short time in 1902-3 where he worked, “for the Tonopah Mining Company hauling ore and supplies.” His brother Virgil moved to nearby Goldfield in 1904 and took a job as deputy sheriff of Esmeralda County, but contracted pneumonia and died there on October 19, 1905.

    (I note that today, Esmeralda County has such a small population that many of us have attended convention program/event items that had more people in the room that the county has total residents. In the early 20th century it was experiencing a mining boom, as of course was the real happening place in Nevada at the time: Tonopah, which is the county seat of neighboring Nye County.)

  33. @jayn: I had not seen that, and it’s perfect. Genre cooties are the worst, and they never wash off!

  34. More people are killed by Hippos in Africa than by any other animal. They are nasty-tempered and really fast on land when they come after you. They -do- eat water hyacinth, which is really invasive.
    When I taught writing (I was terrible at it) I finally figured out that litfic is a kind of prose in which the plot has to be heavily disguised. It has to be there or you don’t have a story at all, but you have to keep critics from seeing it at all costs.
    Gordy Dickson used to tell about having won a bunch of genre awards (like Hugos) and deciding he wanted to become a ‘real’ writer, so he went to a college with a bunch of famous litfic writers: all of whom came around to him on the sly int he first two weeks to ask him how to write books that people actually wanted to read and that paid money.
    Margaret Atwood is soooo 20th Century. Writing Science Fiction became respectable well before the Millenium, despite Harlan and some other excellent writers attempting to rebrand it.
    John W. Campbell, Jr., wrote an excellent essay on how litfic pretended to deal with ‘real’ problems while ignoring the impact of things like the atomic bomb. He detailed how ‘real’ literature has, throughout the ages, always dealt with speculation about the effects of the new and unknown on our daily lives: not with piddling little concerns of problems extra-marital sex at the office.

  35. Hey Tom Becker! To clarify, I think today’s sf is fine. I prefer a different style that is passe. My loss. Thanks for caring, though! You aren’t wrong.

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