Pixel Scroll 10/30/21 I Never Meta Pixel I Couldn’t Scroll

(1) SEEMS I’VE HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE. “’Metaverse’ creator Neal Stephenson reacts to Facebook name change”Axios asked what he thought about the Zuckerberg announcement.

How do you feel about a storyline that you wrote in “Snow Crash” now turning into our potential global future?

It’s flattering when readers take the work seriously enough to put their own time and money into bringing similar ideas to fruition. After all the buildup in the last few weeks, the Meta announcement has a ripping-off-the-bandaid feeling.

Almost since the beginning of the genre, science fiction writers have occasionally been given credit for inspiring real-life inventions, so this is not new and it’s not unique. I was aware of that fact thirty years ago when I wrote “Snow Crash,” but I didn’t necessarily expect it to happen.

Good science fiction tries to depict futures that are plausible enough to seem convincing to the readers — many of whom are technically savvy, and tough critics.

So when depicting a future technology in a work of science fiction, you have to make it plausible. And if it’s plausible enough, it can be implemented in the real world.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination continues with “Furgen,” a new short story by Andrew Silverman, about a retriever, his owner, and his A.I.-enabled minder.

Caro had only once before felt such elation from a text alert, and that was when she first got Tucker in the mail. She ordered him from an exclusive breeder in Tokyo, of all places. She remembered she was watching videos of puppies learning to swim when her phone buzzed, followed by a message stating that Tucker, her beautiful new retriever, had just arrived on her doorstep. She shrieked with glee, ran outside to the porch, and opened up the hole-punched box containing the love of her life.

Today, six months into puppy parenting, Caro’s phone buzzed again, interrupting her usual stream of puppy content, to notify her that Furgen A.I. 2.0© had finally arrived….

There’s also a response essay by Clive D.L. Wynne, author of Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You.

It doesn’t take any special technology to see that dogs love people. Hildegard von Bingen, in the 11th century, noted that “a certain natural community of behavior binds [the dog] to humans. Therefore, he responds to man, understand him, loves him and likes to stay with him.” It could fairly be said that, like Othello, dogs love not wisely, but too well. Their loyalty to our capricious species has seen dogs led into wars, ill-fated Arctic expeditions, and many other tragic misadventures.

But are there limits on dogs’ capacity for love?…

(3) WFC 2021 ANNOUNCES DAY MEMBERSHIPS. World Fantasy Convention 2021 in Montréal will be selling day memberships. See more information at their website. The prices in Canadian dollars are:

  • Thursday  $75
  • Friday      $100
  • Saturday $100
  • Sunday      $50

World Fantasy Convention 2021 will be held at the Hotel Bonaventure Montréal from November 4-7.

(4) KEEP PUTTING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF ANOTHER. At Eight Miles Higher, Andrew Darlington delves into the history of the UK’s most long-lived prozine: “SF Magazine History: ‘INTERZONE’”.

In terms of simple longevity, ‘Interzone’ must be credited as Britain’s most successful SF magazine ever. In January 1991 it comfortably coasted past the forty-one issue limit achieved by ‘Nebula’. Then by August 1994, it surpassed the eighty-five editions of ‘Authentic Science Fiction’. Leaving ‘Science Fantasy’ in its wake, until eventually, by the July-August 2009 issue, through stealth and persistence, it finally outdistanced the 222 incarnations of ‘New Worlds’. Nothing can now compete with that total. And throughout that regularly-spaced life-span, unlike the bizarre array of relaunches, rebirths and reconfigurations that characterized its predecessors, ‘Interzone’ has retained its recognizable appearance on the newsagent’s shelf as a reassuringly attractive glossy A4 magazine. 

(5) TWELVE-BODY SOLUTION. “The Three-Body Problem Casts 12 Stars, Including Two ‘Game of Thrones’ Alums” reports Tell-Tale TV. Twelve cast members are named at the link.

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss didn’t wind up making their Star Wars movie, but the duo is working on a new science-fiction series for Netflix: The Three-Body Problem

…According to Deadline, the show has begun casting, announcing 12 stars for the upcoming series. Among them are two Game of Thrones alums: John Bradley and Liam Cunningham…. 

With actors hailing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a number of popular films, it seems The Three-Body Problem will have a fairly recognizable cast. The creators haven’t revealed who’s playing who, but further updates should be on the horizon.

(6) NIGHT LIFE IN SANTA FE. There will be “A Night of Wild Cards!” at G.R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, NM on November 13 at 4:00 p.m. – ticket info at the link.

Have you been touched by the Wild Card?

Spend an evening with authors George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, and John Jos Miller as they speak about the Wild Cards Series, up coming projects, and remember fellow author and friend, Victor Milan.

Help us celebrate the life of Victor Milan, the release of “Turn of the Cards” in Trade Paperback, and “Death Draws Five” in Hardcover!

The Jean Cocteau is also a place where you can see Dune, the “Once-in-a-generation film,” as it was meant to be seen — on the big screen with a specially handcrafted cocktail in your hand.

(7) SIT DOWN, JOHN. In Debarkle Chapter 70, Camestros Felapton tells how the sf field finally said out loud they were ready for “Life After Campbell”.

…Torgersen’s Sad Puppies 3 slate and been something of a last hurrah for Analog at the Hugo Awards, with four Analog stories becoming finalists on the strength of the Puppy campaigns. Torgersen also included Kary English on the slate due to their common connection with Writers of the Future. No Writers of the Future from a year after 2015 would be a finalist again in the following years nor would any story from Analog make it onto the ballot…

(8) TURN AND RETURN. Boston University humanities professor Susan Mizrouchi on what caused Henry James to be interested in the supernatural and write The Turn Of The Screw. “On Spiritualism and the Afterlife in Henry James’ Turn of the Screw” at CrimeReads.

…Like many contemporary intellectuals, William and Henry took ghosts seriously. They were friendly with Frederic W. H. Myers, who headed the Society for Psychical Research, and Henry was recorded in the minutes of a society meeting in London reading a report on behalf of his absent brother about a female medium who was occasionally overtaken by the spirit of a dead man. Society researchers sought positivistic evidence of ghosts and provided a steady stream of testimonies for public consumption. These accounts of specter sightings, which numbered in the thousands, were in turn avidly consumed by readers, who couldn’t get enough of them.

The James brothers’ views on ghosts were rooted in contemporary science, and also in their personal convictions about the fate of consciousness after death. Having enjoyed such fertile minds, and interacted with so many others, neither could accept that these vital organs would simply expire with the body…. 

(9) DETERMINED COLLECTOR. “Holy bikini-clad Batwoman! Archive saves Mexico’s scorned popular films” – the Guardian tells how they did it.

… Had they not been rescued from a dusty storehouse seven years ago, the original negatives of hundreds of Mexican movies featuring the likes of the silver-masked crime-fighting wrestler El Santo, a bikini-clad Batwoman and the Satan-worshipping Panther Women would have been lost forever.

Salvation came in the form of Viviana García Besné, a film-maker, archivist, self-described “popular film activist” and descendant of Mexico’s cinematic Calderón clan…. 

“I thought the best, and most obvious, thing would be to send them all to the big film institutions in Mexico,” she says. “I told them about this marvellous collection of films, photos and paperwork, and thought they’d all jump for joy. But they were like, ‘We’ll have that, and maybe that, but not that.’”

Unwilling to split up the collection – “It’s the work of a company that began in 1910 and made films until 1990; that’s 80 years of cinema history,” she says – García Besné decided to hang on to it all and to embark on a quest to rescue and reappraise Mexico’s cine popular.

Her Permanencia Voluntaria (Double Feature) archive, which has extended beyond the Calderón collection and now holds some 400 films, is being showcased in Madrid this month in a season at Spain’s national film archive, the Filmoteca Española.

Despite the archive’s growing international reputation – it has restored 10 films over the past four years, and the collection is housed between the Mexican town of Tepoztlán and the UCLA film archive and the Academy film archive in Los Angeles – its genesis and survival have been far from easy….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 – Thirty-four years ago, The Hidden premiered. Directed by Jack Sholder and produced by committee as it had three producers (Michael L. Meltzer, Gerald T. Olson and Robert Shaye). It was written by Jim Kouf (under the pseudonym Bob Hunt. Kouf being an Edgar Award winning screenplay writer apparently decided not to be associated with this film. It had a cast of Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri,  Clu Gulager, Chris Mulkey, Ed O’Ross, Clarence Felder, Claudia Christian and Larry Cedar. 

Critics liked it with Roger Ebert calling it “a surprisingly effective film“. Not surprisingly it has gained cult status.   Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-three rating. It likely more or less lost at least something  even after making ten million as it cost five million to make and figuring in publicity costs that suggests a loss. 

A sequel, The Hidden II, direct to DDV, came out six years later. It did not have the cast of the original film. Let’s just say that it’s wasn’t well received and leave it there. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 30, 1923 William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek, which was a proper Halloween episode even if it wasn’t broadcast then, he was Trelane, and in “The Trouble With Tribbles” he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He appeared in several horror films including Blood BathNight of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age. (Died 2011.)
  • Born October 30, 1939 Grace Slick, 82. Lead singer first with Jefferson Airplane and then with Jefferson Starship, bands with definite genre connections.  “Hyperdrive” off their Dragonfly album was used at the MidAmeriCon opening ceremonies. And Blows Against the Empire was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon 1, a year that had no winner.
  • Born October 30, 1947 Tim Kirk, 74. His senior thesis would be mostly published by Ballantine Books as the 1975 Tolkien Calendar. Impressive. Even more impressive, he won Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist at Heicon ’70, L.A. Con I, Torcon II, Discon II and again at MidAmeriCon. With Ken Keller, he co-designed the first cold-cast resin base used at MidAmeriCon. He also won a Balrog and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award as well.
  • Born October 30, 1951 Harry Hamlin, 70. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island. He also has two choice voice roles in Batman: the Animated Series,  Cameron Kaiser in “Joker’s Wild” and even more impressive as the voice of werewolf Anthony “Tony” Romulus in “Moon of the Wolf”.  Since I know a lot of you like the series, I’ll note he plays Aaron Echolls in Veronica Mars
  • Born October 30, 1951 P. Craig Russell, 70. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC with I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin, being amazing. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He would segue into working on several Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects including a Coraline graphic novel.  Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
  • Born October 30, 1958 Max McCoy, 63. Here for a quartet of novels (Indiana Jones and the Secret of the SphinxIndiana Jones and the Hollow EarthIndiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs and Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone) which flesh out the backstory and immerse Indy in a pulp reality. He’s also writing Wylde’s West, a paranormal mystery series.
  • Born October 30, 1972 Jessica Hynes, 49. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the best Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nuture” and “The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and  “Drop Dead” episodes. Her last genre adjacent role is Sofie Dahl in Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) HOMETOWN HAUNT. “Meet Karl Edward Wagner, Knoxville’s influential cult horror author that almost no one knows” — the Knoxville News Sentinel fans the flames of his memory.

…As the editor of The Year’s Best Horror anthology from 1980 until his death in 1994, Wagner showcased writers like Steven King, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch and Ramsey Campbell. Imagery from Wagner’s Lovecraftian short story “Sticks” influenced works like “The Blair Witch Project” and the “devil’s nests” branch constructs in the first season of “True Detective.”

“Wagner was ripped off,” said the late horror writer Dennis Etchison in a documentary interview. “That is only my opinion so the makers of ‘Blair Witch’ should not sue me. … I can only say that is my personal opinion, as an expert witness.”

But as large as a presence as he was in 1980s horror scene, his personal fame never matched the far-reaching influence of his ideas and taste. Wagner’s books and short stories are out of print and hard to obtain…. 

(14) NO SPARE CHANGE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Now this is meta. (Even though it has nothing to do with the newly renamed Meta.) New Yorker magazine has published a book review for a book about how Amazon is changing the way books are written—Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon (Verso), by literary scholar Mark McGurl. “Is Amazon Changing the Novel?”

…McGurl’s real interest is in charting how Amazon’s tentacles have inched their way into the relationship between reader and writer. This is clearest in the case of [Kindle Direct Publishing]. The platform pays the author by the number of pages read, which creates a strong incentive for cliffhangers early on, and for generating as many pages as possible as quickly as possible. The writer is exhorted to produce not just one book or a series but something closer to a feed—what McGurl calls a “series of series.” In order to fully harness K.D.P.’s promotional algorithms, McGurl says, an author must publish a new novel every three months. To assist with this task, a separate shelf of self-published books has sprung up, including Rachel Aaron’s “2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love,” which will help you disgorge a novel in a week or two. Although more overtly concerned with quantity over quality, K.D.P. retains certain idiosyncratic standards. Amazon’s “Guide to Kindle Content Quality” warns the writer against typos, “formatting issues,” “missing content,” and “disappointing content”—not least, “content that does not provide an enjoyable reading experience.” Literary disappointment has always violated the supposed “contract” with a reader, no doubt, but in Bezos’s world the terms of the deal have been made literal. The author is dead; long live the service provider….

(15) TO SWERVE PLAN. Master satirist Alexandra Petri parodies Facebook’s name change via Twilight Zone episodes. “Goodbye, Facebook. Welcome to the Meta Zone.”

There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to man, as vast as space and as timeless as infinity, lying somewhere just past the Twilight Zone, between the pit of Mark Zuckerberg’s fears and the summit of Mark Zuckerberg’s knowledge. It is an area we call … Meta, the new rebranded name of the Facebook parent company. Here are a few tales from this place….

(16) GRAND THEFT DINO. The case has been cracked. Unfortunately, so have the dinos. “3 dinosaur statues stolen from museum found damaged at Texas fraternity, officials say”Yahoo! has the story.

Three beloved dinosaur statues that were snatched from a Central Texas museum are back home thanks to the help of an eagle-eyed tipster. Unfortunately, two were heavily damaged.

Attention was widespread after the statues – named Minmi, Dilong and Dimetrodon, each 6 to 10 feet long – were stolen from their exhibit areas at The Dinosaur Park in Cedar Creek on Oct. 20, the park announced on its Facebook page. The dinosaurs were later recovered at a UT Austin fraternity, a representative for the museum confirmed to McClatchy News.

UT Austin is about 21 miles from The Dinosaur Park….

(17) FRIGHT AT NIGHT. Keith Roysdon talks about how he geeked out on horror in the 1960s building Aurora monster kits and reading Famous Monsters Of Filmland in “Growing Up Spooky” at CrimeReads.

.. A couple of years before I was born, the classic 1930s and 1940s Universal horror films were sold to TV stations around the country in the so-called “Shock” syndicated package. “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Invisible Man.” They were all there, or in the “Son of Shock” package to follow.

Suddenly, movies that had only been seen in theaters – in rare re-releases – for two or three decades were there for audiences old and new through television. Most stations packaged them as “Shock Theater” or “Nightmare Theater,” the latter a late-night double feature hosted by Sammy Terry, a genial ghoul played for Indiana viewers by Bob Carter, a mild-mannered musical instrument salesman by day who terrified us late at night each weekend….

(18) CLICK THAT CRITIC. Dom Noble tackles the new Dune movie. How good an adaptation of the book is it?

(19) LEGACY. It’s less fun if you don’t play them, but it can pay off for your heirs. “Sealed copy of ‘Super Mario Bros. 2’ sells for $88,550 in estate sale” reports UPI.

An auction house handling an estate sale for a recently deceased Indiana woman said a sealed copy of 1988 video game Super Mario Bros. 2 sold for a whopping $88,550.

(20) GOOD CLEAN FEAR. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody call these “The Best Horror Movies for Halloween—Without the Gore”.

…That said, there’s a formidable tradition of films that express horror according not to a set of established guidelines but to freely expressive impulse, evoking, through far-reaching imagination rather than blood and guts, the emotions of fear, dread, foreboding, and a sense the uncanny. Here are ten of my favorites….

The list includes –

Shadow of the Vampire”

(2000, E. Elias Merhige)

This extravagant horror drama, played earnestly, is nonetheless also a giddy comedy of counterfactual cinematic history. It’s centered on the shoot of “Nosferatu,” the founding vampire film, in which the titular bloodsucker—bald-headed, pointy-eared, pop-eyed, long-clawed, and fanged—runs rampage through the bedrooms of Transylvania. The wild premise of Merhige’s film (written by Steven Katz) is that the real-life actor playing that role, a little-known one named Max Schreck (the last name actually means “fright” in German), was cast in the role because he was a real-life vampire. John Malkovich plays Murnau, who, in order to cast Schreck, both deceives his cast and crew and puts them at grave risk; Schreck is played by Willem Dafoe, who is conspicuously having the time of his life playing a monster straight. Merhige, too, overtly delights in the misunderstandings that divide humans from monsters—and also offers a monstrous metaphor of cinematic history itself, the real-life depredations on which the classic cinema was founded.

(21) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. Overly Sarcastic Productions takes on Werewolves for Halloween!

You know ’em, you love ’em, but you might not know ’em quite as well as you think you do! Today let’s dive into one of the big-name creatures of the night!

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Floor 9.5” at Vimeo, Tony Meakins says if the elevator stops between the ninth and tenth floor, don’t get off!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Bonnie McDaniel, Darrah Chavey, Jennifer Hawthorne, StephenfromOttwa, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

36 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/30/21 I Never Meta Pixel I Couldn’t Scroll

  1. (13) While I don’t know about Wagner’s horror works. many of his Kane books are available on Kindle.

  2. All of the classic Star Trek is on Paramount+ so I’m going to William Campbell in “The Squire of Gothos” as my All Hallows’ viewing. I’ve not seen it in, I think, forty years so I hope the Suck Fairy has been kind to it.

  3. 13) I was just discussing Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane novels on Discord, when I saw this article.

    That said, Wagner’s novels are difficult to find and also very expensive these days. When you run across a copy of one of his Kane novels or horror novels or even his Conan pastiche at a used book store, grab it because those books can go for more than a 100 USD for an old paperback.

  4. (11)
    Grace Slick: I think that should be “Jefferson Airplane and then Jefferson Starship.”
    Tim Kirk: The 1975 Tolkien calendar is still my favorite.

  5. Six of his novels which are on Gateway Publishers are available from the usual suspects for four bucks: Darkness Weaves, Night Winds, Death Angel’s Shadow, The Book of Kane, Dark Crusade and Bloodstone. Conan: King of Roads is also available, though at a much higher price point from Tor.

  6. 1) I wonder if all this attention will cause Snow Crash the movie to actually get made?

  7. If they ever make a Snow Crash movie, I’m afraid they’ll have to abandon one of the funniest parts of the book: the interoffice memo about the bathroom tissue distribution unit (BTDU) policy in Y.T.’s mom’s workplace. Someone thoughtfully placed it online at http://soquoted.blogspot.com/2006/03/memo-from-fedland.html.

    Also, Alexandra Petri sure knows her Twilight Zone, doesn’t she?

  8. 13) I’d love to see more of Wagner’s work back in print, although I do have the Centipede Press editions of the Kane books and his horror short fiction.

    For my money, his best Robert E. Howard pastiche — possibly the best Robert E. Howard pastiche — is his Bran Mak Morn novel, Legion from the Shadows, which is sadly not currently in print.

  9. 11) While not genre, L. A. Law cast (for a while) Hamlin alongside once and again Trek actor Diana Muldaur. (And also Jimmy Smits, who was visible on screen as Bail Organa, and probably hoped I’d forgotten was in The Tommyknockers.)

  10. 11) Tim Kirk story: When I was executor for Anne Braude’s estate, among her belongings was a nice Tim Kirk painting depicting a fantastical house perched on the point of a high cliff, against a backdrop of star-studded night sky. The layout of the picture’s elements were such that it would have made a very good magazine cover. (I arranged for its sale thru Jane Frank at Worlds of Wonder, where it got sold to an anonymous collector.)

    The mystery was, where had Anne obtained the painting? I sent Tim Kirk a photo of the painting; he thought it might have been among a number of paintings he did for sales at convention art shows in the late 60s/early 70s. Anne, to the best of my knowledge, only ever attended one convention in person, the 1969 MythCon. Kirk, iirc, wasn’t sure he’d attended or sold there. Possibly Anne had received the painting as a gift from someone?

    22) Enjoyed this creepy little video. Very effective use of a small set of resources.

    Personal news: I have a new story, “Revival”, just out. I generally don’t like the whole self-promotion thing (probably one reason why I’m pretty much a nobody in the fiction field), but “Revival” is a story I’m particularly pleased with, and I’d like to see it get as many readers as it can.

    I think I’ve done some very different things with very old tropes. It’s a non-zombie zombie story; the dead revive, but it’s more by way of Revelation than Romero. And they come back as assholes; mean, nasty-tongued assholes. Plus there’s a talking dog.

    And then it goes in some really weird, unexpected directions. If there’s such a thing as a “Hopepunk Horror” genre, “Revival” is it.

    It’s a short read, only about 1600 words. I’d appreciate your taking a look.

    Link: “Revival”

  11. 13) the KEW question I have is what hia connection with British Fantasy is? There’s an award, part of the British Fantasy Society Awards, the Karl Edward Wagner award for contributions to fandom. Basically for being a mensch. Alasdair Stuart won it this year
    But I can’t see, in the short biographies available any particular connection with the UK.

  12. I was thinking the same thing. Until I read today’s bio, I always figured that Wagner was a Brit, because I knew there was a BFA named after him.

  13. 1
    Calling readers “tough critics” is an incredibly gallant understatement. I vaguely remember the metaverse in Snow Crash, but it’s not the part of the novel that grabbed me. But I’m not a technically savvy person. At all. I did almost die reading the Deliverator opening. What a way to go!

    2
    The power of artificial selection.

    4
    The UK magazine market has always struck me as being more interesting, if not simply better than the US market. Certainly most of my favorite mags are UK pubs: Wallpaper*, New Scientist, All About Space, Guardian Weekly, wired UK, Economist, Fortean Times. So it’s odd to me, the slender hopes of scifi mags in the UK. Interzone seems to have survived largely on bloody-mindedness.

    6
    I’m not a mixed-drinks person, but the lavender in that sand worm intrigues me. One might say there was a melange of flavors at play there.

    9
    I’ve always thought it was a shame USers ignored Mexican cinema, but I guess Mexicans devalue it too.

    14
    Focusing on narrative drive and eyeball kicks ain’t a bad thing. Sounds like a pulpier aesthetic. Also, very Amazon. Say what you like about them, they are “payer comes first.” I find it amusing that they felt they needed to remind writers that typos are distracting for readers. Copyediting ain’t as easy as it looks.

  14. Also: i didn’t remember ever hearing about The Hidden until I ran across a video about it at YouTube channel called goodbadflicks. The proprietor there explores the movie in some detail. His style is some technical detail, some light mockery, loads of cinefun. In retrospect, I find it hard to believe one of my high school or college friends wasn’t a huge fan of The Hidden and I’ve just forgotten it. But I certainly don’t remember it. T’would be funny if I saw it back in the day and just don’t remember. The mind is a terrible thing.

    Also also, Shadow of the Vampire is a solid film experience. Always enjoy Dafoe. Yes, Green Goblin.

  15. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM HALLOWEEN FAN* EDITION: 10/31/21 - Amazing Stories

  16. 14) I find it entertaining that just before the author (Pahrul Sehgal) of the New Yorker piece starts slamming McGurl for inaccuracies, she makes a whopper of a mistake about Kindle Direct Publishing, conflating Kindle Select/Unlimited (which does compensate authors by page reads) with KDP in general (which includes both standalone books and Unlimited).

    And then there’s the requisite “oh noes! What about literary fiction?” section.

    Well, it is the New Yorker after all.

  17. A Halloween Meredith moment: Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is just three dollars and ninety nine cents from the usual suspects. There’s also an Colonial Radio Theater on the Air full cast recording which is most excellent.

  18. (11) Grace Slick’s first band was The Great Society. She wrote “White Rabbit”. Her brother in-law Darby Slick wrote “Someone to Love”. Check out the recordings of her performances. You can hear why Grace Slick going to the Airplane was meant to be.

  19. Tom Becker says Grace Slick’s first band was The Great Society. She wrote “White Rabbit”. Her brother in-law Darby Slick wrote “Someone to Love”. Check out the recordings of her performances. You can hear why Grace Slick going to the Airplane was meant to be.

    I knew that, but my opinion was that the Great Society really wasn’t genre related being more of a psychedelic band, so they didn’t make the Birthday. A damn good mind you, but not by any means the SF tinged band that Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship would be.

    I admire the material The Great Society released. You can practically feel the drugs dripping off Grace as she sings “Darkly Smiling” and I think their version of “Somebody to Love” shows potential but isn’t quite there.

  20. 14) What I find interesting about Amazon’s influence in the publishing arena is how it has called out and identified certain reading fetishes that seem huge in the self-pub world. One is the shifter-human woman romance. An offshoot of that is the more draconian ‘Taken by the Billionaire Bear Shifter’ genre. Then of course there is the insane proliferation of military SF. This leads inevitably to the absolute crush of end-of-the-world apocalypse scenarios in which the ‘good guy with the gun’ holds off the rabid SJW hordes, or (the other favorite) the corrupt federal government. Or zombies.

  21. @Cat Eldridge. The novels are Bloodstone, Dark Crusade and Darkness Weaves. The others are collected shorts (with an unfortunate overlap). There are some later stories not in the collections, too.

  22. @rochrist

    14) What I find interesting about Amazon’s influence in the publishing arena is how it has called out and identified certain reading fetishes that seem huge in the self-pub world. One is the shifter-human woman romance. An offshoot of that is the more draconian ‘Taken by the Billionaire Bear Shifter’ genre. Then of course there is the insane proliferation of military SF. This leads inevitably to the absolute crush of end-of-the-world apocalypse scenarios in which the ‘good guy with the gun’ holds off the rabid SJW hordes, or (the other favorite) the corrupt federal government. Or zombies.

    It’s not necessarily Amazon, which has identified certain subgenres and tropes with a hungry readership. Some self-publishers have had success with a certain type of story, which leads to imitators coming in which leads to the glut of paranormal romances, billionaire romances, military science fiction , trigger-happy post-apocalyptic fiction, harem/reverse harem, LitRPG, witch cozy mysteries, etc…

    Sometimes, a successful self-publisher also publishes a book, course, etc… where they explain exactly how they did it. There’s one author who is responsible for flooding the space opera category with “Kill all the aliens” military SF, because he wrote a book telling authors to find an underserved market and used space opera (which he equates with military SF) as an example. He no longer even writes military SF.

    Plus, “write what’s popular right now, only a little bit different” is received indie author wisdom (that I steadfastly ignore).

    Where Amazon is to blame is that its algorithms push up books with a lot of marketing push and a big ad budget behind them and drown out other, less cookie cutter works.

    Also, there apparently are massive readerships for paranormal romance, billionaire romance, military SF, post-apocalyptic prepper/survival stuff, LitRPG, harem/reverse harem, progression fantasy, witch cozies, etc… who subscribe to KU and are often not very discriminating.

  23. @Cora Don’t you think the Kindle thing was kind of in the forefront of that? That was certainly my impression. Heh. Cozy witch mysteries. I forget those in my list. In any case, it isn’t really (for me) about whether Amazon is really responsible, it’s what it tells me about the state of the American population. (this may be my bias, but I’m pretty sure the readers in other countries aren’t quite this way)

  24. What Amazon did with opening Kindle Direct Publishing is make self-publishing a lot more viable than before. There were e-books and self-publishing platforms before KDP, but Amazon showed that it was a viable option.

    However, it was self-published writers who went from “Freedom! We can write whatever we want and find readers” to “You must write to market, follow trends, hit all the tropes and churn out cookie cutter fiction” within the space of a few years. Amazon did not force them, though the introduction of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service and Amazon’s ad programs reinforce those tendencies.

    As for the readers, apparently there are a lot of readers out there who want the same experience and the same kind of story over and over and over again with little to no variation and who care more about a low price than quality.

  25. When I get a month or 3 of KU for free, I tend to read magazines (BBC pubs and F&SF), and non-fiction. An occasional mystery sans gimmick, and the Amazon exclusive stuff like the “Black Stars” collection (recommended!). An occasional cookbook.

    I find there are plenty of free cozy witches, were-dudes, sooper-spies, PNR, kill all aliens, etc. to last me this lifetime and another, without paying $10 a month for a firehose of them.

    Since most Americans don’t read AT ALL, I’m not dissing the KU readers much. But PROOFREADING, people!!!

  26. Interestingly, back in the ’90s I was anticipating the likelihood of some sort of epublishing happening and being told that I was dreaming. I had thought print-on-demand would be a bigger draw, however.

    Alas, circumstances kept me from taking appropriate advantage of those opportunities soon enough…oh well, I keep writing different things. One of these days they’ll catch on. Or not. Cynically, these days I’m leaning toward “or not.”

    Still writing, nonetheless.

  27. @rochrist @Cora
    Those show up at Kobo also – especially in the sale pages. Yes, they do seem to drown out other stuff. (I’ve read some that were fairly good, but most of them are pretty much cookie-cutter stuff.)

  28. Hey Bruce Arthurs, that’s a fine story. I think I guess why Roscoe started talking; if I’m right, I dig it. If I’m wrong, it’s okay. I didn’t know you’d written Clues. I liked that ep.

  29. How does an sf fan write three paragraphs about THE HIDDEN without once mentioning Hal Clement and NEEDLE?

  30. How do you write this comment without mentioning The Brain from Planet Arous or the Sixties Ultraman TV series which also have those elements?

  31. I had another look at the bit about The Hidden and I can’t figure out where a Needle mention would’ve gone without adding at least another paragraph, and possibly taking the focus off of The Hidden entirely. And The Hidden was, after all, The Point.

    Comparative essays can be fun and interesting but they don’t really fit in a Scroll except as a link to elsewhere.

    (Also, I looked it up and Needle has a publication date of 1950, or, thirty-nine years before I was born. I think the point where most science fiction fans could reasonably be expected to be familiar with it passed quite some time ago.)

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