Pixel Scroll 11/24/18 Haikuna Pixelata! Or Cest La Scroll, As The French Would Say

(1) DOCTOR WHO AT DUBLIN 2019 BLOG. Nicholas Whyte explains why it’s a challenge to write about “Doctor Who in Ireland”, then fannishly does so anyway —

23 November 2018 marks the 55th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. It is a sad fact that not a single second of TV screen time on the show, or any of its spinoffs, has been set in Ireland. Indeed, the Doctor has spent more televised time in Hungary than on the Emerald Isle (special prize if you know what story I am referring to). A couple of confused characters do wonder if Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords, may be in Ireland, but that’s as close as we get.

(2) A SHURI THING. Issue 2 of Nnedi Okorafor’s Shuri comics for Marvel was released November 21. This is one of the variant covers, by Afua Richardson.

(3) BUBBLES POPPIN’. Julie Andrews has reportedly performed a voice role in Aquaman (Entertainment Weekly: “Julie Andrews has a secret role in Aquaman”). Aquaman opens theatrically 21 December. Amazon Prime members will get a chance to buy tickets to advance screenings 15 December.

A member of Hollywood royalty has a secret role in Warner Bros.’ upcoming Aquaman.

None other than Oscar-winner Julie Andrews has a previously unannounced part to play in the superhero adventure, EW has learned exclusively.

The Sound of Music actress voices the mythic Karathen, an undersea creature that holds the key to Arthur Curry’s (Jason Momoa) quest to unite the Atlantean and surface worlds.

The casting is particularly interesting as Aquaman is going head-to-head at the box office next month against Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns[…]

Andrews hasn’t appeared in a film in nearly a decade, but has lent her unmistakable voice to other big screen projects over the last decade (such as Despicable Me 3 and Shrek Forever After) and appeared in the Netflix series Julie’s Greenroom.

(4) COUNTLESS BRICKS. Arrives in theaters February 8 — The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Here’s Official Trailer 2.

The much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started it all, “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part,” reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city. It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. The battle to defeat them and restore harmony to the LEGO universe will take Emmet, Lucy, Batman and their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds, including a strange galaxy where everything is a musical. It will test their courage, creativity and Master Building skills, and reveal just how special they really are.


(5) CHINA STRENGTHENS PENALTIES ON BANNED CONTENT. Reuters news service reports “Ten years’ jail term for Chinese author of homoerotic novel sparks outcry”.

A Chinese court’s 10-year jail term for an author of a homoerotic book found guilty of profiting from selling “obscene” literature has been met with disbelief among some internet users who question how the crime could warrant so severe a punishment.

The author, surnamed Liu, was found guilty on Oct. 31 by Wuhu county court in eastern Anhui province after she self-published a book that “obscenely and in detail described gay male-male acts”, according to state media.

The court ruled that the strict sentence was enforced due to her having made 150,000 yuan ($21,600) by selling over 7,000 copies, the article said.

…Pornography has long been illegal in China, but in recent years, the Communist Party has intensified efforts to clear away what it sees as inappropriate content, introducing new legislation, rewards and punishments to help its aims.

Authorities on Saturday launched a campaign to “eradicate pornography and illegal publications” by offering heightened rewards of up to 600,000 yuan for reporting banned content to the police, starting from December.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) is an independent agency of the U.S. government which monitors human rights and rule of law developments in the People’s Republic of China. It was created in October 2001. Their post on the topic asserts “Freedom of Expression in China: A Privilege, Not a Right”:

Chinese officials have stated that anyone wanting to publish their opinions may submit their article or book to a government-licensed publisher, but if they are unable to find a licensed publisher, then the only way they can legally exercise their constitutional right to freedom of publication is to “enjoy their works themselves, or give copies to friends and family.”

While homosexuality hasn’t been classified as a crime since 1997, same-sex relationships are still banned from the small screen and online streaming platforms. And the government seems to have a bone to pick with pornography, as authorities recently upped the monetary reward given to those who report such “illegal” content to a maximum of more than $86,000 (U.S).

The Hong Kong Free Press, in its story “China ups cash rewards to US$86,000 for citizens who report porn”, provides additional background about the government’s enforcement of internet rules:

… Starting December 1, people can rake in up to 600,000 yuan (US$86,000) for reporting illegal content, online or otherwise, double the 300,000 yuan under previous guidelines.

What counts as “illegal” content in China is broadly defined, but includes work that “endangers national unity”, “leaks state secrets”, and “disturbs social order” — umbrella terms that are also sometimes used when authorities punish or silence Chinese dissidents and rights campaigners.

… Earlier this week the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it had “cleaned up” 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms which it accused of spreading “politically harmful” information and rumours.

(6) NEGATIVE FEEDBACK. The Independent details the impact of China’s newly-implemented “social credit” system: “China blacklists millions of people from booking flights as ‘social credit’ system introduced”.

Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial “social credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity.

The system, to be rolled out by 2020, aims to make it “difficult to move” for those deemed “untrustworthy”, according to a detailed plan published by the government this week.

It will be used to reward or punish people and organisations for “trustworthiness” across a range of measures.

A key part of the plan not only involves blacklisting people with low social credibility scores, but also “publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis”.

The plan stated: “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.”

For those deemed untrustworthy, “everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price”.

The credit system is already being rolled out in some areas and in recent months the Chinese state has blocked millions of people from booking flights and high-speed trains.

According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips.

The state has also begun to clamp down on luxury options: 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.

(The Global Times is a daily Chinese tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the People’s Daily newspaper, focusing on international issues from the Chinese government’s perspective. Channel News Asia is a pay TV news channel based in Singapore.)

(7) ROEG OBIT. Nicholas Roeg (1928-2018), director of The Man Who Fell to Earth and the Roald Dahl based The Witches; photographer on Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death and Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451“Nicolas Roeg obituary: From tea-maker to director’s chair”.

‘His breakthrough came in 1964 when he worked as a cinematographer on Roger Corman’s film The Masque of the Red Death, an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story, starring Vincent Price.

Corman was gaining a reputation for spotting and developing new talent and boosted the careers of other future directors including James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.

Interestingly the red-clad figure in the Corman film foreshadowed a similarly dressed character in Roeg’s masterpiece, Don’t Look Now.

He also worked on Francois Truffaut’s Farenheit 451, which was notable for the bright hues in which it was shot, and on John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, Far From the Madding Crowd.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 24, 1882 – E.R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his lesser-known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. And quite frankly, having never read a word of his works, that’s all I can say. (Died 1945.)
  • Born November 24, 1907 – Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy which retells the Welsh Mabinogi, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The first volume came out in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine, which is inarguably a terrible title. Although it receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully, and therefore none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued, with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty, and sold accordingly. The other three volumes followed quickly. Her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England, and She Walks in Darkness – which just came out from Tachyon Publications – is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work, but I’d be delighted to corrected. She has won a number of awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel, The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.)
  • Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a Hugo Award for #1 Fan Personality in 1953, and equally telling that after he was handed the trophy (at Philcon II by Asimov), he physically declined, saying it should go to Ken Slater, to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell, he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. Speaking of things pulp, which she assuredly is, he appeared in several hundred films which I’ll not list here, and even wrote lesbian erotica. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe him. His nonfiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science FictionA Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films, and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well, he did. Just one location alone contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn, if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which now has possession of many items of his collection. If there was ever anyone who truly was the best in fandom, I believe it was him. So let’s toast him his memory. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 24, 1948 – Spider Robinson. His first story “The Guy with the Eyes” was published in Analog February 1973. It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction. In 1976, his first published novel, Telempath, was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogy was co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson. In 2004, he began working to expand into a novel a seven-page 1955 outline left by the late Heinlein. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it? Oh, he’s certainly won awards. John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1974; Hugo Awards for: Best Novella (1977); “By Any Other Name”; Best Novella (1978); “Stardance”‘ (with Jeanne Robinson); Best short story (1983); “Melancholy Elephants”; Nebula Award for: Best Novella (1977); “Stardance” (with Jeanne Robinson) 2008;  Robert A. Heinlein Award (for Lifetime Achievement) 2015; LASFS Forrest J Ackerman Award for Lifetime Achievement; Named a Guest of Honor at the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention.
  • Born November 24, 1957Jeff Noon, 61. Novel and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that Noon describes as a prequel to those works. Look I’m not sure I’m the right person to explain these books so y’all should do so. Really go ahead, educate me. Same goes for all the other books he’s done such as Needle in the Groove.


(10) WHOVIAN COMPLAINT FORM. The popular meme has been given an update to include the latest gripes:

(11) LAST OF THE INKLINGS. Weekly Standard profiles “The Steward of Middle-earth”, Christopher Tolkien.

…Now, after more than 40 years, at the age of 94, Christopher Tolkien has laid down his editor’s pen, having completed a great labor of quiet, scholastic commitment to his father’s vision. It is the concluding public act of a gentleman and scholar, the last member of a club that became a pivotal part of 20th-century literature: the Inklings. It is the end of an era.

All of this would have come as a great surprise to 24-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien as he scrambled down the lice-ridden trenches of the Somme. Catching trench fever removed Tolkien from the front lines and probably saved his life. While on sick leave, he began a draft of The Fall of Gondolin. Now, 102 years later, it sits on the shelves of every Barnes & Noble in the country.

The first draft of The Fall of Gondolin was begun during the Great War; the final incomplete version is dated 1951. Both versions are included in the newly published book, along with fragments and working drafts. While the story itself is good, its true weight is as the final piece of the Tolkien legendarium, a project an entire century in the making.

It is work that has spanned Christopher Tolkien’s life….

(12) HISTORY OF DUDS. This BBC video highlights “The museum that embraces failure” – of mostly-tech ideas that didn’t catch on. My fellow vintage Filers will remember some of them.

(13) EGGSACTLY. Yahoo! Entertainment gets all the free-range references: “From ‘Frozen 2’ to ‘Star Wars’: Here’s your guide to all the Disney Easter eggs in ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet'”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

As the title suggests, the animated sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet finds everyone’s favorite fictional ’80s video game character, Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), careening through the online world like — what else? — a wrecking ball. But even as the new film lightly satirizes internet giants like eBay and Google, many of its best gags are aimed directly at its parent corporation, the Walt Disney Company.

(14) THE UNITED STATES SPACE PROGRAM CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. If the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes are by design, there are others you might claim have been created by coincidence. Patrick Willems takes us on an idea-trip through some of “The Original Cinematic Universes.”

(15) FIRST FLIGHT OF ION-DRIVE AIRCRAFT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A remarkable machine propelled by ionic wind could signal a future with cleaner aeroplanes. Nature reports on “Flight test for ion drive”:

In February 1904, a short news item in Nature marked a monumental event. It recorded the achievements of the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright and the contraption that they had launched from a hill in North Carolina a couple of months earlier. “They now appear to have succeeded in raising themselves from the ground by a motor-driven machine,” Nature stated. It was, “the first successful achievement of artificial flight”. That first trip lasted barely 12 seconds.

Nearly 115 years later, Nature reports on another historic brief flight, which this time lasted 8–9 seconds. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge describe an aviation breakthrough that will draw inevitable comparisons to that wobbly and fragile first journey by air. The aeroplane is powered by a battery connected to a type of engine called an ion drive that has no moving parts.

You can watch the flight here:

Summary of the science at Nature here [PDF file].

Apparently, the inventor was inspired by the Star Trek shuttles.

Full primary research article here (you can access if you are either at an academic/research institution with a Nature subscription or if you are a subscriber yourself, otherwise it costs) — https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0707-9.pdf

(16) TIME’S UP. This item is more fun if you watch the video before reading Slate’s intro:

A project description said that Baas was inspired by “the many faceless men who sweep, clean and work at an airport in their blue overalls.” (Are there no female janitors at the Amsterdam airport?) Baas described the “Schiphol Clock” as “basically a big box hanging from the ceiling in Lounge 2,” adding that he decided to use “the most archetypical form of a clock.”

But he added a ladder and a door to create an imaginary path that his video janitor might have used to access the clock, just to heighten the surrealism. “He has a red bucket and a yellow cleaning cloth and he is cleaning up after the hands of time, after which he creates a new minute, every time again,” Baas said…


[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

60 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/24/18 Haikuna Pixelata! Or Cest La Scroll, As The French Would Say

  1. (8) Reading about Ackerman reminds me of the Dragnet episode about the movie fanboy who stole stills and whatnot. It’s been too long now to recall exactly, but there was an article in a fanzine (Delineator? I just can’t say.) about a real-life guy who did just that, and repeatedly took advantage of Ackerman’s hospitality to pilfer items from the Ackermansion, using tricks that included leaving a side door unlocked.

    Because of the subject matter, it was an unusually interesting Dragnet (late 60s version), but I think the article outdid it.

    Caution: Pixels in Scroll are Closer than they appear.

  2. Even I have an Ackerman story: I was working at the registration table at Loscon – in Pasadena, back in the late 80s – when Forry showed up and bought a membership. He already had one! (The badge was in the file box, waiting to be picked up.)

  3. (5), (6)

    Well, if there were any doubts about how I feel about a Chinese Worldcon, there aren’t now. 🙁

  4. @6: J. Edgar would be crapping himself over this; the best he could do to limit mobility was try to make hitchhiking unrespectable. And Orwell would be wondering why he ever thought the USSR was dangerous….

    @8: Ackerman’s legacy is not untainted; he brought Perry Rhodan to the US, and his collection(s) were sufficiently chaotic that he was the model for the person being crushed by the battle between Wasters and Hoarders in Niven & Pournelle’s Inferno. But personally he does appear to have been the sort of fan more people should aspire to be.

    I’ve read Variable Star; it’s a weird mix of Heinlein periods with some artsy stuff that’s pure Robinson. Not good enough to recommend to anyone (the only die-hard RAH fan I know who wouldn’t mind the hippy-dippy stuff is the one who gave it to me), not bad enough to trash. I loved his early work (especially the stuff that had too much heart for Analog). Note among his awards that he was the first Campbell winner to get a Hugo; it took him only 3 years. (A year later Cherryh cut it to 2 years; the year after that, Longyear cut it to ~15 minutes — but faded a few years later.)
    He’s still alive but age not given, as seems to be the standard for living birthday celebrants — typo? Thinko?

    @9: in which we learn about different forms of humiliation….

    @10: [snortle]

    @15: this looks incredible — there’s been decades of talk about ion reaction drives to provide a steady but very-low-power boost to spacecraft that are not near gravity wells; sustaining flight in a 1g environment seems huge. It will be interesting to see if it scales up, as the paper suggests.

    @16: very … conceptual? I wonder how many people went twitchy performing the video.

    @JJ: +1.

    edit: Fifth!

  5. 1) Hunh, I never realized Doctor Who had never been filmed in Ireland.

    5,6, JJ. Indeed 🙁

    8) Oddly, one of the first pieces of Robinson’s I read WAS his defense of Heinlein.

  6. @8, I had a very brief conversation with Forry, years ago at a Worldcon. I told him that I’d heard he had an amazing library with tens of thousands of books, and asked him if that was true. “Yes, and I’ve read every last word…” <beat, while he enjoyed my amazed look> “…I’ve opened to the back page and read the last word in each book!”

  7. Cassy B.:

    “Yes, and I’ve read every last word…” “…I’ve opened to the back page and read the last word in each book!”

    That reminds me of my old boss at the used bookstore. Whenever anyone asked him, “So, have you read every book in this store?” he would answer, “Some of them twice.”

  8. 8) I’ve read E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros and it is a pre-Tolkien favorite of mine due to the unusually baroque but beautiful prose and its rather different fantasy world (though he definitely does not stick the landing). Very recommended if you like William Morris and his ilk.

  9. @Rob Thornton — Have you read the Zimiamvia books? Eddison is one of the very few authors I can think of who can write in that kind of Jacobean language and actually make it work.

  10. 1) Good article, Nicholas.

    4) I have to admit that the Lego version of Mad Max Fury Road was not something I ever considered, but then the good thing about Lego is that you can use it to build anything.

    5/6) I wouldn’t say it rules out a Chinese WorldCon completely, but there are definitely uncomfortable questions the bid committee will have to answer regarding potential risks for members and guests.

    16) Here is a video of the grand opening of Schiphol’s Lounge 2, which also includes a shot of the clock, which even shows a guy in a blue coverall mounting a ladder and pretending to vanish inside the clock. For some reason, I missed this, when I was last in Schiphol (it’s the most convenient hub for me), but I’ll try to get a shot the next time I pass through, probably en route to WorldCon 77.

    BTW, the janitors in the blue coveralls (which coincidentally are the same coveralls KLM mechanics wear and which are also popular workwear outside the airport) really are mostly men for some reason.

  11. Chip Hitchcock on November 24, 2018 at 7:54 pm said:

    @15: this looks incredible — there’s been decades of talk about ion reaction drives to provide a steady but very-low-power boost to spacecraft that are not near gravity wells; sustaining flight in a 1g environment seems huge. It will be interesting to see if it scales up, as the paper suggests.

    Ion drives have been in use on spacecraft since the 1970s, they aren’t just talk. The most famous is probably Dawn, which visited Ceres and Vesta and could accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4 days! The system used on this plane has pretty much nothing to do with ion drives like on spacecraft. This plane is one of these, but self-contained.

  12. (7) I have a friend who can always tell you his Top Ten Movies. (The list always starts with 2001 and can vary from there.) He’s asked me for mine, but I can’t do it. I have come up with two potential #1s, though: Casablanca and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. I’ll watch the latter again now, in Roeg’s honor.

    (8j Didn’t we cover here Forry Ackerman’s skeeviness? His hands-all-over-women? His surprising young correspondents with envelopes full of unasked-for pornography? I thought we had.

    @Cat: I have new sympathy for your incessant medical issues, as my wife has a minor concussion and it has really affected her life. How we would handle what you have to handle, I have no idea. We, acting like the jet-setters we aren’t, flew from Baltimore to Los Angeles just to see a play, then came right back home. The play was Maureen Huskey’s The Woman Who Went Into Space as a Man, based on the life of Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr. Mike had asked me to write up a piece about it for here, which I was hoping to do. We really enjoyed watching it — Ann reported crying from pretty much the first line to the last, and I had the unexpected little thrill of hearing a line from one of my letters to Alli quoted by one of the actors. But as we were leaving, Ann’s foot slipped off a step, she hit her head on the metal railing, and fell through to the floor below. Maureen was going to take us out to dinner, but instead she drove us to the ER. CT scans showed no serious damage, so back to Baltimore we came. But she has a near-constant headache, ten days later the hip she landed on is just as sore as it was in LA, and other little symptoms come and go. She can’t stand any noise, so the music I always play is shut down, and Thanksgiving at her mother’s (sit-down dinner for 23) wiped her out. So, seeing you dealing with even worse problems, and making your major contributions here every day: Much respect.

  13. 5, 6) Yep: Much as I’d love to see a Chinese WorldCon (especially somewhere like Chengdu) and really support the efforts to build capacity and connections with Chinese fans to make it possible, I just cannot see a way this could be done on a credible scale right now, without compromising either the safety of organisers or the freedom to discuss and promote diverse works.

  14. Meredith Moment. Nicholas Eame’s Kings of the Wyld is in Amazon UK’s Daily Deal for Kindle books. 99p

  15. Jeff, Do make sure that she keeps on top of it. I do you will but I still will say that as brain trauma is a BAD thing. Mine has been a full time endeavour — I’ve seen my PCP, a great NP named Jenner fifty times since the incident fifteen months ago and there’s been myriad other soecialist visits as well.

    The Birthday writeups are fun and actually sometimes are done while I’m at the PCP office. Y’all should be made aware that that the brain trauma cost me my sense of temporal awareness so I can sit in a a waiting room for two hours and not know it’s been that long.

  16. 8) E.R. Eddison – I’ve read The Worm Ouroboros and the Zimiamvian trilogy; they’re extraordinary books… and I’m sure some people will find them not to their taste; Eddison’s mock-Jacobean prose is gorgeous, but highly coloured. (Mind you, The Worm Ouroboros is one of the books I’ve read aloud, to my mother – she has Alzheimer’s, I read her a range of different books to keep her mind stimulated – and it was one that held her attention and that she found easy to follow.)

    I suppose the trilogy suffers somewhat from its incompleteness (The Mezentian Gate wasn’t anywhere near finished when Eddison died, and most of it is just detailed chapter synopses – the events are there in bald description, the glittering Eddisonian prose isn’t) and its ambitious and complex narrative. Mind you, since we are all merely visions conjured by King Mezentius at that memorable dinner in Memison, and our entire world is doomed to meet an ignominious end at the touch of Fiorinda’s hairpin, it might be presumptuous of us to offer any criticism…. Anyway. Highly coloured prose, vaulting ambition, a whole slew of vivid and memorable characters (including one of the earliest lesbian couples I’ve seen in fantasy) – I’m not convinced everyone is going to like Eddision, but he certainly makes an impact.

  17. “Ackerman’s legacy is not untainted; he brought Perry Rhodan to the US, and his collection(s) were sufficiently chaotic that he was the model for the person being crushed by the battle between Wasters and Hoarders in Niven & Pournelle’s Inferno. But personally he does appear to have been the sort of fan more people should aspire to be.”

    Sorry to say – no.


  18. E.R. Eddison also wrote one of the great Viking novels, Styrbiorn the Strong, which came back in print a few years ago (after, it should be noted, I had bought a copy of the original 1926 printing for not a small amount of money).

    And, by happy coincidence, his translation of Egil’s Saga is currently $1.99 on Kindle. A Moment most Meredithitous indeed!

  19. Eddison’s Zimiamvia trilogy is, more or less, Game of Thrones, set in a Renaissance Italy analogue and written in Jacobean prose, with the best character being Horius Parry, the villain. Eddison is very good at writing charismatic villains.

  20. @Cora Buhlert @16, wait, so that’s a real clock, not a performance-art piece? It’s a video screen that actually has a shadowy figure drawing and re-drawing the hands? I thought it was a cute perfomance-art video, like, oh, I dunno, Pratchett and his tiny demons drawing things when you take a picture with a camera…

  21. Cassy B.: wait, so that’s a real clock, not a performance-art piece?

    It’s both — isn’t it awesome?

    The artist, Maarten Baas, has a series of clocks he has done called Real Time, which are mostly video recordings of people drawing clock hands and erasing them and re-drawing them to change the time. There’s even an analog digital clock. You can see videos of the various installations here.

    I love that some likely-unemployed actors or maintenance people were paid to do this for hours while they were videotaped, thus providing employment as well as public art installations.


    No, the penalty was set in the late 90s. At that time, to illegally sell 7000 copies, you would have had to organize a big conspiracy involving a government printer, distributor, lots of retailers. They didn’t foresee online commerce. Today, nobody in the Chinese Communist Party is going to argue with a straight face that 10 years for self publishing a novel containing some graphic sex is appropriate. The Chinese government is in fact worried about curbing the rise of exploitative pornographic videos, maybe not without justification. But nobody cares about books. At a minimum, those harsh sentencing guidelines will get reformed.

    The issue is that you can’t legally self publish in China, even if that rarely stops people from putting their stuff online anyway. Foreign writers of erotica would not be at risk unless they put lots of content on a Chinese website to sell to Chinese people from a server located within China. Having it on a server elsewhere is not the Chinese government’s concern.

    It is perfectly fine to discuss and promote diverse works in China. Beijing has had an international queer film festival for decades. If Chuck Tingle shows up in Chengdu, the city known as China’s LGBT capital, Chinese fans would throw a party for him at a gay nightclub and force him to sign autographs. I imagine that the organizers in Chengdu are probably open to hosting some panels on LGBT issues and themes. Panels on banned books/content… might depend on the case, but why not ask and see what they say. China’s hardly the only place with sensitive topics that might be difficult to address.

    Personally, if I were on that committee, I might not want to send out digital copies of Hugo nominated works that have content that might be considered illegal. (Someone else might offer to send them.)

    Just my thoughts; if any fans in China read this, it would be great to get their perspective.


    Sounds a bit like how America takes away your driver’s license if you fall behind on your student loans.

  23. 5,6) I can’t believe people are hesitant about a chance to visit the future, then come back and have the option of killing themselves before it arrives on their own doorstep.

  24. My parents had Eddison on the shelves, as part of their huge collection of SFF. I bounced off it when I was young, but since the gr’ups liked it, I always sort of meant to try again when I got older. One of these days, maybe I will…

    The Worm Scrolloboros?

  25. (14) This video is an interesting variation on the idea of genres as a conversation between works and creators of works.

  26. @CassyB
    Yes, the clock is real. It’s in the style of the clocks found in train stations and airports everywhere (in fact, I’m pretty sure Schiphol’s old clock looked just like that), only with a little extra. And as JJ has said, the artist has done several similar clocks.

    Next time I pass through Schiphol’s international terminal, probably en route to WorldCon 77 (UK and Ireland flights depart from the International terminal, because you have to go through the passport control due to neither country having signed the Schengen agreement), I’ll make sure to take a pic or shoot a video for the edification of Filers.

  27. Xtifr, me too, only without the “since the grownups liked it” bit. I found The Worm Oroborus in a used bookstore while I was in my teens, tried reading it, and bounced right the heck off of it.

    (I may have picked it up because I’d read The Neverending Story and was primed to notice a book with AURYN on the cover.)

    Even then I was fond of a certain kind of book whose lush, poetic prose you could get lost in–McKillip, of course, and also Meredith Ann Pierce; and since then Susanna Clarke, among others–but the Eddison just went over the top for me. It felt like trying too hard. I kept having “you have got to be kidding me” reactions.

    (I had a similar irritation with the Amber series on a smaller scale–there were some verbal tics in the narrative that felt like inconsistencies in the voice style. Not so irritating that I didn’t finish the book I was on, but enough to keep me from continuing on to the next book.)

    Maybe if I tried it again today I’d appreciate it. Or maybe it’ll still not be my thing. Baroque prose comes in all flavors, I suppose, and one might not necessarily like all of them equally.

  28. Forrest J Ackerman was a character in a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel, The Vampire Affair, that I must have read in the early 1970s. Was amazed to find that he was a real person.

    I devoured lots of Perry Rhodan as a teen. Coming back to them years later and starting at the beginning, I’m stunned by what as asshole Rhodan was. Maybe he got better as the series progressed, but I’m not inclined to reread further. And I know nothing about FJA’s personal behavior.

    (I am, however, amused by the way autocorrect turns “Rhodan” in “Rhoda.”)

  29. re: #6

    The US is trying to impose this sort of thing here:


    Given the data breaches and inaccuracies in the reporting from the so-called credit bureaus, this truly sucks.

    Also, POTUS has declared bankruptcy 4 times, lost access to US bank lending more than ten years ago due to his bankruptcies and generally bad business practices, and regularly stiffs his contractors. It was reported that there are over 5 million in contractors’ liens on the Trump hotel in Washington DC due to non-payment.

    Too bad none of that lets us dump him.

  30. Just dropping by to mention that Border is kind of an awesome genre movie, though I’m uncertain whether to label it fantasy or SF.

  31. Also, I saw Ralph Breaks The Internet yesterday and I recommend it. The movie actually has much to say about the Internet and more (no spoilers here). The injokes are also fun and Disney itself comes for a considerable amount of ribbing.

  32. @Cora Buhlert: so was the first cycle of the clock performed live, or did the “maintenance worker” slip out through the ceiling like a Cirque du Soleil performer? How long was the lift left in place?

  33. @Chip Hitchcock
    I have no idea. I suspect, the “maintenance worker” got out via the ceiling (it has panels and likely crawlspaces), but the grand opening video only shows him getting in.

  34. Back in 2015 I chose Eddison’s A Fish Dinner in Memison for a meeting of our local SF Group’s Book Club (83 books read Oct 2004–Oct 2018). I feel it has stood the test of time, but almost everybody else disliked it, bar one who thought it picks up quite well when Anthea transforms into a lynx and subsequently eats Lord Morville. I admit the slow plot and lush prose style demand unhurried reading.

  35. (3) And… 1, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3…

    Methane in mudbanks
    And whiskers on catfish
    Bright peacock cichlids and deep roaming ratfish
    Nuclear submarines issuing pings
    These are a few of my favorite things

    Cream-colored seahorses, well-hidden morays
    Hagfish and clownfish
    And divers on forays
    Mantas that glide with the moon on their wings
    These are a few of my favorite things

    Jellyfish floating with writhing tentacles
    Wreckfish exploring ancient debacles
    Icy blue water that’s teeming with lings
    These are a few of my favorite things

    When the shark bites
    When the ray stings
    When I’m feeling sad
    I simply remember my favorite things
    And then I don’t feel so bad

  36. “I mean, it’s not that long ago that the country banned stories about time travel …”

    No, they didn’t. That article was based on mistranslation and there have been several time travel movies and tv series since then. What was created was guidelines about misrepresentation of historical persons and events.

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