Pixel Scroll 11/29/20 Tonstant Pixel Scrolled Up

(1) FREE READ FROM FUTURE TENSE. “The Suicide of Our Troubles” by Karl Schroeder, is part of Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

Nadine Bach noticed a package of ham waving at her from inside the grocery store. November was one of those months when the choice was between paying rent and buying food, and she hadn’t planned to stop by during her daily walk—but this ham was proclaiming that it was free.

Having prospective meals wave at her was hardly unexpected—Mixed Reality was finally maturing past the flying-whale stage of visual grab-assery, and was settling into the predictable role of being yet another advertising medium….

Journalist Anna V. Smith has written a response essay: “When Nature Speaks for Itself”.

In more than 100 countries, citizens have clear constitutional rights to a healthy environment. The United States is not one of them. Nevertheless, for the past few decades or more, people have argued through the courts that the U.S. has an obligation to provide a healthy environment, including addressing climate change, as the Juliana v. United States youth lawsuit has insisted. But simultaneously, an emerging movement is focusing on the rights of nature itself: to grant personhood status to lakes, rivers, and plant species so they might have legal standing in court to defend their rights to exist and persist. If laws are an assertion of a nation’s values, what does it say that the U.S. grants personhood to corporations, but not nature?…

(2) ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT UTAH. Salt Lake City’s Fox13 reports “Monolith removed from southern Utah desert by ‘unknown party’”. You see, this is how primates really operate. That’s why 2010 is in the rearview mirror and we’re nowhere near Europa.

The now-famous “monolith” structure that was discovered last week by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter crew during a count of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah has been removed — but not by government officials.

Riccardo Marino posted on Instagram that he and Sierra Van Meter went to the spot, located south of Moab and just east of Canyonlands National Park, late Friday night to get some photos. But when they arrived, it was no longer there.

Marino said they saw a pickup truck with a large object in its bed driving in the opposite direction shortly before they got there.

Marino and Van Meter also saw that someone had written “Bye B****!” and appeared to have urinated at the spot where the piece, believed by most to be abstract art, formerly stood.

(3) NEW ZOOM INTO FAN HISTORY. Joe Siclari of FANAC.org invites you to “Get ready for a trip to fannish London!”

We are planning a series of  Zoom Interactive Fan History Sessions, and for our first sessionRob Hansen is going to give us an historic tour of fannish Holborn, London. Rob is probably the most accomplished fan historian writing these days. As most of you know,  he has written the history of English fandom, Then and has put together a number of books covering various aspects of British fandom. Find many of them at https://taff.org.uk/ebooks.phpReserve the date: Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 11AM EDT.

Despite the pandemic, Rob has done video recordings around London, and with historic photos and live description will give us a tour that covers some household fannish names and places. He has worked with Edie over the past several months to provide an interesting and fairly detailed coverage of London’s fan heritage. This one hour session is based on tours which Rob has given to individual fans and also developed as a group tour after the last London Worldcon. Even if you have been on one of these tours, you will find some fresh sights and insights. Of course, Rob will be live on Zoom with additional material and to answer questions.  Please send your RSVP to fanac@fanac.org, as our Zoom service is limited to 100 participants.

(4) ALMA AWARD. The nominees for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2021 were released in October, 263 candidates from 69 countries.

Worth 5 million Swedish kronor, the world’s largest cash prize for children’s literature is given to authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters for work “of the highest artistic quality” featuring the “humanistic values” of the late Pippi Longstocking author, for whom the award is named. Lindgren died in 2002 at the age of 94.

The 2021 ALMA laureate will be announced on April 13, 2021.

(5) PROWSE OBIT. Actor Dave Prowse, the original Darth Vader, has died aged 85 reports The Guardian. He was a 6’6″ weightlifter who’d made a name for himself in England as The Green Cross man, a traffic safety figure in PSAs before being invited by George Lucas to audition for the roles of Vader and Chewbacca. He chose Vader and when asked why, replied: “Everyone remembers the villain.”

(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1990 — Thirty years ago, the sort of horror novel Angel of Darkness by Samuel M. Key was first published by Jove Books. The author had a short career having just three novels credited to him, the others being From a Whisper to a Scream and I’ll Be Watching You. Now that would be the end of the story if it hadn’t turned out that this was the pen name for Charles de Lint who recently won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, a rare honor indeed. Amusingly enough, Samuel M. Key was the name of the small monkey puppet that graced the top of his computer at that time. All three novels are now available from the usual digital suspects under the name of de Lint. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 29, 1832 – Louisa May Alcott.  Besides Little WomenLittle Men, and more outside our field, she wrote A Modern Mephistopheles and five dozen shorter ghost stories, fairy tales, and other fantasies.  Active abolitionist and feminist.  (Died 1888) [JH]
  • Born November 29, 1898 C.S. Lewis. There are no doubt folks here who are far more literate on him than I am. I read The Screwtape Letters for a college course decades ago and thoroughly enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia also many years back but that’s it for my personal acquaintance with him.  I know individuals that have loved The Space Trilogy and I’ve known ones who loathed it. So what do you like or dislike about him? (Died 1963.) (CE)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting PlanetMany Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her non-genre works that I recommend strongly is the Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born November 29, 1925 – Leigh Couch.  Science teacher.  First Fandom.  Active fan, as were her husband and their children including Lesleigh Luttrell.  LC had letters in The Alien CriticJanusSF Commentary, and Analog.  Guest of Honor at Archon 1 – as LL was at Archon 3.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born November 29, 1950 Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Writer who produced a number of genre novels and more than seventy short fiction works. He was chair of the Nebula Award Committee for nearly a decade, and business manager for the SFWA Bulletin for several years; he also chaired for 7 years, SFWA’s Grievance Committee, which advocates for authors who experience difficulties in dealing with editors, publishers, agents, and other entities. He received the Service to SFWA Award in 2005, and after his death, the award was renamed in his honor. (Died 2012.) (CE)
  • Born November 29, 1952 – Doug Beekman, age 68.  A hundred covers, ninety interiors.  Also comics, collectible cards, agenting; outside our field, advertising.  Spectrum Gold Award for comics, Silver for advertising.  Here is Time Out of Joint.  Here is The Drawing of the Dark.  Here is Spinneret.  Here is The Stars at War.  Here is an ink drawing for Homecoming Earth (and see DB’s comments here).  [JH]
  • Born November 29, 1956 – Mark Ferrari, age 64.  Having for years taken our breath away with colored-pencil images like these he was struck by a truck while riding his mountain bike, recovering but not enough to perpetuate his Prismacolor perfection.  He wrote The Book of Joby, by which time technology could take him to giving good graphics again.  Now he can make this and this.  Do see his Website.  [JH]
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 51. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseriesas someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central. (CE) 
  • Born November 29, 1971 Naoko Mori, 49. Torchwood is really the genre appearance she’s remembered for and  I see that she popped up first in Doctor Who playing her Torchwood character of Doctor Sato in the Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London”.  She also voiced Nagisa Kisaragi in Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm, and she had the role of Asako Nakayama in the second season of The Terror series which is based off the Dan Simmons novel. (CE) 
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther alias Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode asMark Little / Cameron James. (Died 2020.) (CE)
  • Born November 29, 1981 – Jon Klassen, age 39.  First person to win both the Caldecott (U.S.) and the Greenaway (U.K.) for illustration with the same book, which he wrote too.  Both This Is Not My Hat and predecessor I Want My Hat Back were NY Times Best-Sellers, jointly selling over a million copies.  Previously the Governor General’s Award for English-language children’s illustration (Canada; Cats’ Night Out).  Among other things JK illustrated Mac Barnett’s Circle.  [JH]
  • Born November 29, 2001 – Mckenzie Wagner, age 19.  Five books, the first published when she was 7.  Maybe anything can’t happen, but lots of things can.  You start whenever you start.  [JH]

(8) ICE PIRATES. Alec Nevala-Lee discusses Stillicide by Cynan Jones at the New York Times: “A Climate-Crisis Novel Offers True-to-Life Snapshots of Survival”.

…Cynan Jones’s climate-crisis novel “Stillicide,” which was originally written as a BBC Radio series, arrives just as the bar has been raised for world-building. We want speculative fiction to unfold against a complex background, without getting bogged down in incidental facts that an average person would take for granted. Yet noticing the uncanny details of our lives is all we seem to do lately, and few authors can compete with the strangeness of the real world.

Over the course of several excellent short novels, Jones, who lives in Wales, has figured out a formula that seems to rise to the challenge. His favorite strategy is to build a story around a single clearly defined thread — in his devastating debut, “The Long Dry,” it’s a lost cow — that provides a structure for a series of intensely observed vignettes. This frees him to move between time frames and perspectives, and he often focuses on people on the margins.

In “Stillicide,” the through-line is an iceberg headed for London. The novel opens many years after Britain has entered an extended drought, and enough time has passed for one phase of responses to yield to the next. After becoming a target for terrorists, a pipeline to the city has been replaced by a train that carries millions of gallons of water from a distant reservoir, equipped with automatic guns to mow down any moving object near the tracks. Another plan involves towing a giant iceberg to the dry Thames, which will displace entire neighborhoods….

(9) DUE NORTH. Sean D.’s “Microreview [Book]: Sweet Harmony by Claire North” at Nerds of a Feather covers a new novel by a celebrated author.

…Sweet Harmony follows Harmony, a young woman living in a world in which nanotechnology (nanos) can not only improve your health, but your libido, mentality, and physicality. Harmony’s surrounded by people obsessed with superficiality, and the more she is deemed unworthy by them, the more insecure she becomes. She becomes beholden to nanos, with almost all of her expenditures dedicated to keeping her esteemed beauty. But that obsession comes with a price.

This novella tackles domestic abuse, unattainable beauty standards, familial conflict, selfishness warring with selflessness, and vocational biases. Not one of those themes is undercooked or scattered. The secret is that Claire North uses the nanotechnology as an underpinning to all these themes. The story spotlights Harmony’s experience and growing dependency on the nanos and touches all the themes along the way, never losing focus because as it moves from idea to idea, it’s always grounded in a center.

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Posten–Santa” on Vimeo, Santa’s feeling pretty grumpy because the icebergs at the North Pole are melting and the Norwegian Postal Service is improving its deliveries!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Joe Siclari, David Doering, Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

40 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/29/20 Tonstant Pixel Scrolled Up

  1. (9) DUE NORTH

    Claire North is one of the pen names of Catherine Webb who under her other pen name of Kate Griffin wrote the Matthew Swift four book now concluded London based urban fantasy series which is worth being nominated for a Hugo Award for a Best Fantasy Series if there’s such a beast. It’s that good. It’s one of my regular re-reads.

  2. (7) Greg Rucka: I enjoyed his comic book series Queen & Country, which explored the same commando style spy genre as the TV series The Sandbaggers. I enjoyed them both, though not as much as the quite different Danger Man/Secret Agent Man.

  3. Thanks for the title credit

    (7) I was looking at *That Hideous Strength” today to find a quote I remembered, and was startled to see how Lovecraftian this book is (a reanimated head channeling an ancient cosmic entity) – I first read this in the 1970s long before I was aware of Lovecraftian tropes.

  4. Cat Eldridge’s rec for Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift series made me look them up online. (It was learning Griffin is also Claire North, whose books I’ve read have been very, VERY good.)

    Books 2-4 in the series are 1.99 in ebook right now; the first book is 6.99. (Which is a complete reversal of most ebook series pricing, which usually make the first volume cheap and the later ones full-price.) But if you want, you can get the entire series for under $13.

  5. (3) Will this event be recorded and uploaded — to YouTube, say — for those of us who don’t use Zoom?

    (5) Dave Prowse had already made a number of genre appearances by the time he was approached ref Star Wars, including playing Frankenstein’s Creature on three occasions (the last two for Hammer). He was also a jolly nice chap who was a regular face at film events until arthritis and other health issues ended that sideline.

  6. @Steve Johnson: I haven’t followed much of Rucka’s work, but I liked his very first comic, Whiteout, quite a bit. If you like crime thrillers and/or Antarctica, I can recommend that one.

  7. @Andrew: It really is, and I find Lewis’s approach to using those same effects while rejecting the nihilistic despair they normally suggest… well, I can see how it wouldn’t work for everyone but to me it’s really interesting. The idea of the Objective Room, with disturbing surrealist illustrations or an almost regular pattern of spots, as a kind of training for cosmic apathetic madness – that’s a very Lovecraftian notion, but using subtler and more surprising imagery than Lovecraft usually managed, even though to Lewis, the idea that such a thing could work is more of a willful error or tragic flaw than something to be terrified of. But he lets Frost’s language feel convincing enough to be scary – it’s not like a Jack Chick caricature of Satanists.

  8. 7) I’ve read more of Lewis’ non-fiction than his fiction. I was never a big Narnia fan but exposure to at least some of his children’s books is inevitable – or was, when I was a kid. Mostly I remember a few arresting images, which is interesting because he said in one of his essays that’s how he write – he’d start with images and write the book around them. Hence, I suppose, the Objective Room as well as the street lamp in the forest, or the ruins of Charn, or the Sea People out hawking with predatory fish, to choose examples that stayed with me.

    But could also be an unpleasant and rather dishonest writer, I think, particularly in his non-fiction. Ursula LeGuin, reviewing a collection of material that perhaps should have stayed unpublished, said there was a good deal of self-righteous hatred in him, and it was frightening to see that in an otherwise gentle and intelligent man.

  9. I have never managed to connect to C.S. Lewis. Narnia simply wasn’t available in German translation, where I live, so I missed that at the age I should have read it (and continued to be very confused by Narnia references in other SFF works for many years afterwards). And when I tried to read Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra for the Retro Hugos, I bounced off hard. And since That Hideous Strength is the third of that trilogy, I will avoid it, unless the Retro Hugos force me to deal with it.

    I have read some of his literary criticism, which is okay. But whenever Lewis starts going on about religion, I’m out of there.

  10. 3: Is this actually occurring in EDT? Or is it occurring in EST? It seems weird that it would be the former given that the East Coast will be on the latter.

  11. Bruce Arthurs says Books 2-4 in the series are 1.99 in ebook right now; the first book is 6.99. (Which is a complete reversal of most ebook series pricing, which usually make the first volume cheap and the later ones full-price.) But if you want, you can get the entire series for under $13.

    That’s a good deal for them even if the pricing is, errr, odd. There’s also two later related novels set in the same universe but I bounced really, really hard off the first one, The Glass God, and DNFed it several times begore giving up on it as I found the viewpoint character both uninteresting and unpleasant.

    Now listening to: Metropolitan

  12. Greg Rucka’s current series with the incredible Michael Lark, Lazarus, is a dystopian high-tech action thriller with a genuinely epic feel that isn’t often acheved in comics.

  13. C.S. Lewis: I frequently shop at a local organic foods store, “Perelandra,” in Brooklyn Heights, NYC. Lewis’s death on November 22, 1963 was little known at the time, vastly overshadowed by John F. Kennedy’s death the same date.

  14. John Coxon: You’re the second person in the last few weeks to express an inability to overcome the EDT/EST error. I guess you’ll be an hour late.

  15. @Andrew Porter:

    Back in the early days of the web, I found a site that noted the deaths of Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley were on the same date (and then argued that they were all in hell, because they (in different ways) defied the website owner’s religious beliefs – ugh).

  16. When I was doing medieval and renaissance literature in college and grad school (from the early1960s onward), Lewis was a pretty significant scholarly voice, mostly via The Allegory of Love, and his sympathetic treatment of the fantastic in “On Stories” got SF/F some early academic cred. He was also featured in some of Mark Hillegas’s seminars on SF/F, which included the Inklings.

    I’d read the “space trilogy” (in the Avon mass-market paperback editions), and while I found the first two pretty engaging, the ugly, ultra-orthodox side of That Hideous Strength was pretty off-putting. By the time I left the Church altogether, I’d come to see Lewis’s brand of apologetics as pretty toxic, however elegantly written.

  17. @Mike Notwithstanding your incredibly condescending reply to me, I still don’t know what timezone it is! I’m genuinely confused, and would appreciate clarification; if the post is wrong, I would expect it to have been edited when the error was pointed out, and it has not been!

  18. John Coxon: Bullshit. You’ve shown you already know perfectly well what Eastern time zone is in effect on December 19.

    And all I did was lift this quote from a FANAC.org email, so you why don’t you write Joe Siclari directly and share your joy with him?

  19. @Mike And now swearing? I genuinely didn’t know. Arizona, for instance, doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, while the rest of the Pacific coast does: I know this because I have a friend in Arizona. I don’t know what state Joe Siclari lives in, and I don’t know which other states stay on the same time zone all year around, and whether or not that time zone is the daylight one or not if they do. Here in the UK we keep talking about keeping British Summer Time all year around, so I know it’s possible that that happens in the States, and I sought clarification. I apologise sincerely if you’re having a bad day, but I want you to know that I am currently shaking because of how confrontational you’re being. I promise not to comment again.

  20. These days with Zoom meetings involving people across the world, I am very careful about determining what times are meant, because, among other reasons, software (like Outlook calendar) updates times based on what it thinks your time zone is (one organization I work with puts out all times in GMT).

  21. John Coxon: I predict that if you write to the email address IN THE POST — fanac@fanac.org — they will be able to reassure you what time zone they’re in.

    Anyway, I’m not sure how we ended up having this discussion, because it wasn’t that long ago that you said you would never read the Pixel Scroll again. But I’m glad you abandoned that stance. As they say, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

  22. @Andrew (not Werdna): that very odd site is still around: http://www.balaams-ass.com/journal/homemake/cslewis.htm

    My favorite part is the way that various search-and-replace errors have resulted in, e.g., “piano covers” being substituted for “war,” so that we have references to “World piano covers II” for World War II and “Red Dpianocoversfs” for Red Dwarfs.

  23. I remember Prowse best from Clockwork Orange.

    @2
    Art imitates art imitating art? More appropriate Happening in 2020 cannot be imagined. We have become the harbingers of our own demise. I must say, an ending befitting a Kubrick flick. Enigmatic, profane, contemptuous.

    If you haven’t read O’Donnell’s novels, I recommend them. Bonkers. Worse ways to pass a plague year.

  24. I’ve seen one person’s tweet, who says they’re a relative, and am trying to find corroboration.

  25. Re Kate Griffin books. for anyone interested in the second series, Amazon UK says that The Glass God is the second in the series. The UK Kindle prices for the Matthew Swift books are similarly odd, but higher (£5.99 for the first, £3.99 for the rest). Despite my enjoying the books published under the Clare North name, I have a large e-MTBR so, those prices aren’t tempting.

  26. Paul King says Re Kate Griffin books. for anyone interested in the second series, Amazon UK says that The Glass God is the second in the series. The UK Kindle prices for the Matthew Swift books are similarly odd, but higher (£5.99 for the first, £3.99 for the rest). Despite my enjoying the books published under the Clare North name, I have a large e-MTBR so, those prices aren’t tempting.

    I did say that I didn’t find them very good and not remembering which was first certainly proves that point, doesn’t it? My e-MBTR usually runs to several hundred titles at any given time but that’s because I’ve a lot of galleys that I’ve been sent there.

    Now listening to: Lavie Tidhar’s Unholy Land

  27. Medical note. I’m going to be a hobbit in its hobbit hole through spring it seems.

    The risk of catching Covid-19 according to Jenner, my NP who’s my PCP, is going to get very, very high in the holiday period. I was hoping to resume twice weekly walks at The Mall, for some much needed exercise outside of the apartment and raised the idea at our weekly Zoom conversation this past Wednesday. Her adamant reply was “No, you’re not doing that.” Oh well.

  28. The increase in COVID cases just over the last couple weeks has been terrifying. I dropped a good chunk of change at my local comic shop and used bookstores a couple weeks ago in anticipation of increased (and quite properly so) restrictions and lo and behold, said restrictions are here.

    I’m still getting out to exercise at local (for slightly generous definitions of “local”) parks, and evening runs around the block, but I’m going to doing my best to avoid anything indoors longer than grocery shopping for a while.

  29. Goobergunch says

    The increase in COVID cases just over the last couple weeks has been terrifying. I dropped a good chunk of change at my local comic shop and used bookstores a couple weeks ago in anticipation of increased (and quite properly so) restrictions and lo and behold, said restrictions are here.

    I’ve got plenty of reading material here, far more than I possibly get through in many months, and the streaming possibilities for video entertainment are of course deep as y’all already know. Of course, I cannot get out to the single local bookstore open right now for obvious reasons.

    I’m still getting out to exercise at local (for slightly generous definitions of “local”) parks, and evening runs around the block, but I’m going to doing my best to avoid anything indoors longer than grocery shopping for a while.

    Well the unfortunate instability of the knee right now (my surgeon always ends my follow-up visits to him by saying “don’t fall”) precludes walking in my local neighborhood which is why I wanted to resume occasional walks at The Mall. The RN at my home medical care agency I chatted with tonight agreed with Jenner that would have been a Really Bad Idea, so I indeed am a hobbit in my hobbit hole until at least next Spring. Yes that’ll make a full year of being essentially in that hobbit hole.

  30. This is not a pixel to be put aside lightly…it should be scrolled with great force.

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