Pixel Scroll 11/6 Remember, Remember, the Second Fifth of November

(1) April Carvelli investigates a cancelled media convention for Pop Cult HQ “IFCon Victoria: Scam or a Simple Mans Dream Gone Wrong?”

This convention was scheduled to occur over the Halloween weekend in Victoria, BC Canada. They didn’t have A-List bookings, but they had some well-known names and a lot of artists. They had booked Richard Hatch from the original Battle Star Galactica, Gil Gerard of Buck Rogers, William B. Davis best known as the Smoking Man on The X-Files and Claudia Christian from Babylon 5. They even had several of the Power Rangers…..

Then suddenly, four days before the con, it was canceled. It was reported that the organizer Bill Code had to be rushed to the hospital after collapsing the weekend before the event. Fans were told that he would be undergoing surgery and there was no way he could continue to run the con.

According to the initial posting, Code had been organizing the con for the last year and a half and had invested more than $84,000 but was no longer able to “handle and direct any part of the convention.”

Many of the exhibitors learned of the cancellation of the con through the Facebook page and most, if not all feel that they have been conned. The exhibitors aren’t alone. Artists, Fans, and even celebrity guests are screaming about how this con was handled and the treatment they received from Ken Twyman, the one who appears to have taken the reigns once cancellation of the con was imminent.

(2) Big Bang Theory producer Chuck Lorre writes a “vanity card” that flashes at the end of every episode. The latest one is a paean to science fiction.

I grew up devouring science fiction books. I was like a little Pac-Man, gobbling up everything I could get my hands on: short stories, novels, and, of course, comic books. Looking back, I realize that sci-fi and, to some degree, fantasy novels, were my first attempt at escaping reality (later attempts would prove to be a bit more problematic). Regardless, I now see that immersing myself in this kind of literature informs my current view of the world. The path of history is, for me, forever seen through the eyes and imagination of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and many, many more. Which is why I consider all efforts to control human behavior through force as ultimately doomed to fail. Sure, they might work for a while. That’s where the cool story is – the resistance and overcoming of authoritarian rule. But at the end of the day, the macro, sci-fi view is always toward greater freedom, regardless of what form it takes. The real evil, the much more insidious method of control, is actually what we do to ourselves. The abuse of drugs and alcohol, plus relentless consumerism and over-exposure to mind-numbing entertainment, are the real chains on the human spirit. Of course this means that I, having produced close to a thousand half-hours of television, am part of the problem. Sorry. I never meant to be a Minor Overlord for the Terrestrial Shadow Masters.

(3) Norman Hollyn has been one of the people helping develop the innovative future film school announced on Friday — “$20 Million to Establish Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts”

Those who want an education at the vanguard of new forms of filmmaking and emerging media — including virtual production, interactive and mobile media, film special effects, augmented and virtual reality, game design and more — will one day get the chance to study at the new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The university on Friday announced a $20 million gift from the Johnny Carson Foundation…

(4) Joseph T. Major has a theory about a wowser in today’s news.

If you ever played Sid Meier’s Civilization (the original game), you would note that building the Pyramids gave you a Granary in every city in your civilization. Obviously Ben Carson has not upgraded.

(5) Yes, a scientific measure of the science in science fiction! “Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness” at TV Tropes. (via Lela E. Buis).

Example: a character is shown a machine for traveling into the past and asks, “How does it work?”

  • In soft SF: “You sit in this seat, set the date you want, and pull that lever.”
  • In medium SF: “You sit in this seat, set the date you want, and drive to 88 mph.”
  • In hard SF: “A good question with an interesting answer. Please have a seat while I bring you up to speed on the latest ideas in quantum theory, after which I will spend a chapter detailing an elaborate, yet plausible-sounding connection between quantum states, the unified field theory, and the means by which the brain stores memory, all tied into theories from both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.”
  • In really hard SF: “It doesn’t. Time travel to the past is impossible.”

(6) A. C. Thompson shares “Lessons Learned Editing an Anthology” at Magical Words.

  1. I am your editor, not your mama!! Therefore, it is not my job to teach you to write or completely re-write your first draft. I actually overheard an author tell someone, “It doesn’t matter if I can write. That’s what the editor is for.” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!! It is your job as the writer to write a great story, polish it up (DO NOT SEND YOUR FIRST DRAFT), and edit– not write a ten page dissertation on why the editor is wrong and you’re right. The editor is an unbiased third party whose only interest is in making your story the best it can be. Don’t fight them every step of the way. If you disagree with something, discuss it. Don’t stomp your feet like a toddler and refuse to change it. Or make up some silly excuse as to WHY you can’t edit. It is worth noting that I did NOT have this problem on the Sherlock anthology. Every single author I have is the picture of professionalism and talent. I may be slightly biased, but seriously… those guys and gals rock!

(7) A modest proposal:

Ro Nagey claims once on a live radio show he answered that question, “By taking a little green pill.”

(8) Ralph Bakshi interview at Salon.

I gotta to ask this—when we meet Fritz in his self-titled film in 1972, he’s in the park and he’s checking out the pedestrians, the people and the scene, and he’s just calling bullshit on everyone, basically. How strong was your personal bullshit detector at the time? Like, could you tell [at that point] when someone was jiving you?

That’s a good question; let me think. Yeah, at that point I had finally gotten very angry and very wise. At that point I suddenly woke up. Everything that I grew up thinking was cool — fighting for your country and all of that — was starting to fall apart. I couldn’t believe that black people [were being restricted from the] vote. My life was changing. I was bored to years with Terrytoons animation. So I was using my life to try to expand my art form. I started to comment and I started to read. I read Ginsberg, I read Howl. I read Kerouac — I didn’t think he was good, but I still read him. I read Henry Miller. I started to read other people that were also happening [and] big at that time. It was just breaking all that stuff.

Did you find that creatively liberating as an artist?

Totally. Incredibly liberating.

Okay, so you go from Terrytoons to making your own films, beginning with the X-rated hit “Fritz the Cat.” And by the end you can do anything you want with animation from a technical standpoint and you have this new attitude.

I learned my craft at Terrytoons. I spent 15 years there, writing, directing, designing — every part of an animated cartoon—

(9) Julia Alexander at Polygon breaks out the new information revealed in the international trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens – click to see her video analysis.

Walt Disney Studios Japan posted the new trailer on their YouTube page Friday morning, and although some of the scenes can definitely be found in the English version that aired a couple of weeks ago, there’s some wild new footage.

(10) Here’s the trailer itself:

(11) Is there really going be an Ice Age 5? *croggle*

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, J. Neil Schulman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will R. and Meredith.]

156 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/6 Remember, Remember, the Second Fifth of November

  1. @David Shallcross: Ah, sorry! Way fewer than 17 is what I meant to write. 11 syllables is probably an upper bound. I think to the extent one counts, one should count accentual beats rather than syllables or consonants, since english is a strongly accentual language and Japanese isn’t. Something on the order of 7 beats is about right. John Wills’ classic one-liner:

    dusk     from rock to rock a water thrush

    gets by perfectly well with only five. I also think the default english haiku should be two lines long rather than three, to correspond to the way kireji divide classical Japanese haiku, and one line “should” be longer than the other, to correspond with the Japanese 12-5 or 5-12 pacing. But I think both one and three-line schemes are reasonable.

    In all the above, I’m influenced by the work of Higginson and Van Den Heuvel, though Van Den Heuvel prefers the one-line form. It’s also been a couple decades since I had any active involvement with the American haiku community, though I did exchange tweets with Van Den Heuvel just this year.

  2. I really hope the Warcraft movie is good(about the only shot I didn’t appreciate was the Baby Moses Thrall one).

    Fans will be pumped because Blizzard have always done great cinematics previews for their work and everyone has been wanting them to expand those into longer films for years.

    What I really hope is if Warcraft is sucessful we might see a Starcraft movie. I think George Cloony could do a good Acturus Mengst(it’s against type but I reckon he could pull it off), and I’d like Idris Elba forTassadar. Any ideas who should play Raynor, Kerrigan, and Zeretul?

    Edited to add: Kerrigan would be the most important person to cast right due to her change into the Queen of Blades

  3. If this is the Charles Gannon who posted his analysis of Puppygate at Whatever, I have to say after reading his guest post and comments in defense of it, I’m somewhat less surprised, sad to say.

    He has a very narrow set of definition, and a very precious concern for intent.

  4. “Hard sf,” like “space opera,” is one of those nonce descriptors that somehow got promoted beyond their obvious taxonomic limitations via community usage–and neither one is terribly useful outside the confines of casual conversation. They’re both convenient shorthand pointers to bundles of motifs and traits and historical associations, but there are much more precise ways of characterizing texts. Of course, those require something beyond stick-on labels or even tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral. . . .

  5. @Lis Carey
    Judith Tarr has said the space operas were what she wanted to write before editors and agents pressured her into publishing the Avaryan stuff instead (note that Avaryan is the prehistory of the space operas, tweaked to masquerade as fantasy).
    Since Avaryan came out in the mid 80s, it is quite possible that the 70s vibe is because some of the core of Forgotten Suns was written then…

  6. > “Are you riffing on Princess Bride, or is that your view. If the latter, I’d love to hear you unpack it.”

    I’m … three-quarters-joking, mainly because I consider “Is X Truly Hard SF?” to be among The Dullest Conversations (along with “Is X Really SF Or Fantasy?”). And I’m also making fun of the fact that most attempted definitions of Hard SF, or SF at all for that matter, that I have seen proposed on the internet are so ludicrously and unintentionally narrow that they leave out all of SF.

    If I wanted to be serious, I suppose I could say that I personally loosely define SFF as “fiction in which things happen that are either impossible or currently not possible”. So if I then loosely define Hard SF as “only things happen that we know to be scientifically possible”, as some do, and I’ve defined SF as one of several genres which must contain things we do not know to be scientifically possible, then by definition there is no such thing as Hard SF, just Soft SF gussied up to look plausible or plain old fiction, depending.

    Do I care enough to defend this point? No, not really, it’s silly hair splitting. But I think the whole thing is silly hair splitting.

  7. Jim Henley on November 7, 2015 at 1:55 pm said:

    @Jon F. Zeigler: It was Gannon. At some point, he talked himself into believing that avoiding “tokenism” was the most important thing, defining tokenism as throwing in a character who is “non-default” for “arbitrary” reasons. He was also concerned that if he put someone with a black skin-tone in a medium-future story, they wouldn’t be products of contemporary black culture, so in what sense would they be black as we think of it? It was a remarkable case of talking oneself into believing that reinforcing white supremacy was somehow doing the right thing by people of color.

    Oh dear.

    Mind you here is a more subtle and more awful case involving British TV and Australia

    Here the rationalization was as the issues couldn’t be addressed properly then they wouldn’t deal with them at all. The additional awfulness being that this notion of Australian as an uninhabited land until European settlement has been a re-occurring expression of racism towards Australia’s indigenous peoples.

    That the writer actually has a very positive track record otherwise only underlines how easy it is for people to fall into the mistake.

  8. It’s delightful having, say, teens, who’ve never heard of “The Cold Equations” before, read it and then have a class discussion. The amount of stuff named in the story that they’ll mention with “and if they threw out this and that, it would totes weigh more than her!” shows that the author didn’t think it out, and just went for manfeels. And that’s without even getting into the moral questions or the bad design of the bureaucracy.

    Lis Carey: So in the unlikely event we have any anti-vaxxers here, stuff it.

    Amen. I got lucky with this year’s vaccine, I only got a sore arm and a few hours of bleh. Felt all right the next morning, though the arm took another day to stop. It really beats 2 weeks confined to the house, a month of coughing, and an ER visit for secondary infections. Thanks, Obama!

    Just read “Mothership Zeta”. The last story, “Tales of a Fourth Grade Shoggoth”, I found very amusing. Funny if you only know the bare outlines of the Mythos, lots of in-jokes to the details. It was cute.

    The non-fiction was good too. There’s a nice instant story analysis immediately following “Sleeping With Spirits” which shows exactly WHY the story is so good.

    One of the stories gave me a big sad, though. But overall recommended.

  9. Camestros Felapton on November 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm said:

    Hard SF = spaceships made of metal
    Soft SF = spaceships made of cushions
    Very Hard SF = spaceships made of rocks

    I just cannot agree with this. It makes no sense. Most rocks are softer than metal. Besides, everyone knows Very Hard SF is spaceships made of diamond. Sheesh.

  10. What was the story with a spaceship made of cooperating sapient organisms, that, due to the death of one of the components, had to recruit a human from Earth? That seemed fairly soft.

    And calling diamonds “rocks” is fairly common slang.

  11. My head canon definition of SF goes:

    Hard SF: If the story is built around and hinges on a scientific concept or extrapolation.
    Space Opera: The emphasis is on the relationships and the science is a backdrop.
    Mil SF: Hornblower in space.

  12. ULTRAGOTHA on November 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm said:

    Besides, everyone knows Very Hard SF is spaceships made of diamond. Sheesh.

    Taking us neatly back to the Mohs scale! 😀

  13. Tom Galloway on November 7, 2015 at 2:39 pm said:
    But what about the real continuity problem on Supergirl; why is Kara Danvers already wearing glasses when she has no intention of ever using her powers (i.e. has no need of a disguise and has greater than human vision)?

    And on Flash, while people keep mentioning the frozen laser beams, am I the only one whose jaw dropped when Cisco tracked Captain Cold via ultraviolet emissions, drawing an analogy to how heat is infrared, so cold is ultraviolet.

    You are not. The kids watching with me were howling with rage at *that* one.

    We enjoy the show, but sometimes the stupid is just too much.

    A friend still grumbles about the episode last season when a man faster than bullets was unable to outrun *bees*. (As one of us said, “It should have been like running through a school of floating goldfish”)

  14. I ignored a Warcraft trailer link last night, thinking it was for a video game, so I’m glad this came up. (watching trailer) For a generic fantasy movie linked to a game I’ve never played, it looks okay, I guess. No offense intended, Meredith! 😉

    @ULTRAGOTHA: I see the diamond cartel has gotten to you.

    @Jim Henley: What was this absurd panel (excuse me: panel with some absurd panelists) about?! I both cringe and LOL to think of Sunny Moraine on this panel (from what little I know; I have a couple of bookmarks for books of theirs [edited; forgot to change it after writing the bit below!] I’m considering).

    Hmm, related to the “singular non-gender-specific pronoun” discussion in the 11/5 comment thread, Sunny Moraine’s site says: “Please to refer to me via the singular they.” 🙂

  15. Meredith’s “daily U.K. deals” make me jealous, so I thought I’d mention two $1.99 sales in the U.S. 😉 These are on several platforms, not just Amazon.com.

    Martha Wells’s Cloud Roads is on sale for $1.99. I’m tempted! It intrigued me when it first came out, and it’s gotten a little love in the brackets here.

    Rob Boffard’s Tracer is also on sale for $1.99, till (IIRC) the end of November. I’m on the fence. The sample was fine, but didn’t grab me, and I’m not sure I really want a psycho? serial killer? in space trilogy, though it sounds like there’s more going on that just that. If anyone here’s read it and has comments, I’m interested to hear!

  16. @ Lis Carey

    I agree with the 70’s vibe of Forgotten Sons. In specific – 70’s era Bob Silverberg.

  17. Don’t we have a cop..?

    I don’t much care if something is hard sf, sort sf, friable sf, or any other texture of sf so long as they make it sound plausible enough in-universe.

    Re: excuses for excluding people outside the default

    I was raised in a borough that was 50% white, roughly. Worlds that don’t have a reasonable mix of people in look weird to me.

    Speaking of, did anyone notice that while The Martian did a pretty great job of diversity with the male characters, all women in the future are either white or from the Chinese contingent? I assumed in the book that Mindy Park was of Korean extraction, actually, so I was kinda surprised to see her actress. (I finally watched the film! I thought the change to the climax was a bit, um, overblown but other than that I enjoyed it and I thought it was an excellent adaptation, although I felt they could have left a bit more science in.)

    Re: Warcraft film in general

    The setting is, essentially, based on Warhammer via needing to file off the serial numbers, although it has expanded considerably since then. Accusations about being generic are kinda fair. :p I’ve been playing the MMO for, oh, the last eight or nine years so safe to say I’m a fan but the story does tend to vary wildly in quality. I’m hoping this manages to use all the best aspects and not so much of the questionable bits. Duncan Jones, the director and co-writer, did an excellent sf film in Moon but this is on such a different scale I don’t know whether he’ll have the skills to pull it off. I have all my fingers and toes crossed for it!


    even better than the movie one, IMO, is the cinematic for the WoW: Legion release

    Yes! The cinematic team just keep on getting better and better. The most disappointing thing about the original film announcement way back was that it was going to be live-action rather than in-house animation. The faces this time were brilliant.


    How excited would you have been if there were dragons as well?

    I probably would have exploded. I can guarantee I will be keeping a sharp look-out for any human nobles named Prestor, or elves named Krasus. I figure my chances of dragons in sequels (if it does well) are really good if I spot any of those.


    In re (1) above, IFCon Victoria:
    The only question is, was there going to be a ball pit?


    @Lis Carey

    My partner gets the flu shot every year due to his status as my carer (I don’t, for reasons that I’m sure make sense bureaucratically). It doesn’t hit him too badly and the other option – him getting sick and abruptly not being able to take care of either of us – would be very difficult to manage. Vaccinations are brilliant.


    More sales sharing is excellent! 😀

  18. @Meredith: BTW I’m not sure it’s Warcraft’s fault the movie seemed generic fantasy to me. I don’t know Warcraft (or Warhammer) – never played these games. On the other paw, the first D&D movie felt like generic fantasy to me as well, and I’ve played D&D (on-and-off) since the original little booklets. Maybe it’s just a flaw of movies-based-on-games.

    I like to think if there were ever a Glorantha/RuneQuest movie, it wouldn’t be feel generic. Hmm, Glorantha/RuneQuest movie. . . .

    Unrelated: Uh-oh, y’all are reminding me I missed my flu shot ‘cuz I took the day off work (they bring someone in, so we have no excuse). I need to go get a flu shot.

  19. Good points all round on the hard sf/ soft sf distinction. I revise my position to:
    1. Mix your SF thoroughly with soap.
    2. If a lather forms easily then your SF is soft.
    3. If a lather doesnt form then it is hard.
    4. Boiling your SF may nake it soft but could make it Noir detective fiction by being hard-boiled.
    5. I’ll get my coat…

  20. @Postmaster–

    I agree with the 70’s vibe of Forgotten Sons. In specific – 70’s era Bob Silverberg.

    Yes! Exactly. But with 21st century social assumptions.


    My partner gets the flu shot every year due to his status as my carer (I don’t, for reasons that I’m sure make sense bureaucratically). It doesn’t hit him too badly and the other option – him getting sick and abruptly not being able to take care of either of us – would be very difficult to manage. Vaccinations are brilliant.

    Are you sure it’s bureaucratic reasons, and not medical? The general rule is “vaccinations are for healthy people.” They can work merry hell on you if you don’t have a healthy immune system. I certainly don’t know enough about your condition to have any certainty on it, but it seems quite possible that this could be the best medical advice, and not bureaucratic silliness. Obviously, this could be completely wrong, but I throw it out there as a possibility, if you don’t know for sure that it’s bureaucratic.

    On the name Meredith, though I think that discussion was going on in a different pixel scroll, I went to summer camp with a girl named Meredith. The camp was in the town of Meredith, NH. Her mother had attended the same camp, and loved it, loved it so much she named her daughter after the town it was located in. And that Meredith hated it, was not yet ready to forgive her mother for it.

    I always felt she didn’t appreciate how lucky she was that her mother didn’t name her after the camp itself: Menotomy. Which with the unkindness of children, of course we called Monotony… (It was really a pretty nice camp, and I had fun there.)

  21. @Kendall

    The humans are sort of deliberately classic medieval fantasy archetype humans, so they’re kinda… Super generic. The orcs are a bit different, I think, because they’re not evil and they’re not the bad guys (… not exactly anyway) and orcs are usually both of those things, but it isn’t the most original thing ever either. Most of the cool original(ish) stuff came along waaaay after the story this film is based on which was what, more than twenty years ago now? So if it looks generic I think that’s probably a fair criticism. Hopefully they’ll pull it off well enough anyway! I want them to make the Scourge story so this one has to do well. 😀

  22. @Lis Carey

    If I remember the reasons correctly, it’s because I’m not immuno-compromised (because they often get the shots even though it will knock them back, since the shot is still better than the actual flu) and I don’t have anything like asthma (so no pressing need to avoid lung infections, although every time I get a cough it lasts for months so maybe I should revisit that…) so I’m not a priority. Which is fine! I don’t leave the house much (maybe once or twice a month a lot of the time) so closing off my partner as an infection vector removes most of my risk anyway. I just find it sort of funny that my partner/carer, who is much more able than I am, automatically gets the shot because of me and yet I don’t. Gentle funny rather than annoying funny. 🙂 I don’t mind it.

    I have an intense hatred of pretty much every nickname or derivative people have tried to inflict on me (Merry is just awful, Mer is worse, and the most original anyone ever got was “Dithmeister” which, um, not really me), but irritations from other people failing at it aside I quite like my name. There were four people in my Brownie pack with names that were some form of Katherine and I still have yet to even meet another Meredith, and that was always quite convenient. I never have to worry about getting mixed up with someone else (well, unless initials are involved – one of my sisters is also an M). It was supposed to be a Shakespeare name – all of my older sisters already had them – but it turns out my mother had the character mixed up so we have no idea where it really came from. 🙂

  23. @Red headed femme,

    Just de-lurking to say that I completely agree with you re Library at Mount Char. Thanks for the link to your reviews.

  24. @Redheadedfemme: I need to read more of your reviews, because if they agree with my opinion are as insightful as your “Mount Char” review, they will be useful to me.

    @Meredith: I should think the terrible lingering cough would be enough reason. That’s definitely a bureaucratic idea, not a medical one. In the US, they tell everyone to get a flu shot, particularly if they are or live with someone who’s elderly, disabled, diabetic, immunocompromised, asthma, very bad allergies, around children, and a host of other things. People over 65 can get free flu shots, and I was rather aghast when a Scottish author I quite liked died of the flu some years ago because he was in his 70’s, but the NHS said he was in good health so he didn’t get one. Well, if the flu killed him, he wasn’t in that good health, was he now?

    Flu shots are often provided free by many people’s workplace (like Kendall’s), as it’s cheaper to get a nurse and some vials in rather than have people out sick. Or you can get them at any corner drug store for not much cash if you’re under 65. It only takes one snotty bastard sneezing on a surface. Carry plenty of hand sanitizer.

    (The husband and I got into the huge line at our medical center when we were there last month. Did not cost us anything extra, as it’s considered preventative medicine, keeping their costs down by not having so many flu cases. There was a menu of 6-8 different kinds; I had to wait while they got my special hypoallergenic one out of the mini-fridge. There were also inhaled kinds.)

  25. @Meredith–

    What lurkertype said. Yes, that sounds purely bureaucratic, and foolish. One of the very, very few areas where the US health care system is doing it right, and the UK’s isn’t. And yes, that terrible, lingering cough should be a reason to review and change that decision. If only because that terrible, lingering cough might be asthma.

  26. @ Kendall
    re: Cloud Roads

    Get it!!! Great price, exceptional book if you might like well-written fantasy tales about matriarchal bisexual shape-shifting lizard people on a planet with thousands of strange sentient species and cultures. Her characters are believable individuals with strengths and weaknesses. Great fun.

  27. What was the story with a spaceship made of cooperating sapient organisms, that, due to the death of one of the components, had to recruit a human from Earth? That seemed fairly soft.

    Robert Sheckley’s “Specialist” (May 1953 Galaxy), many times collected and anthologized.

  28. It’s not that non-priority folks in the UK can’t get a flu shot, it’s that they can’t get a shot free of charge.
    The eligibility criteria are:
    – aged 65 and over
    – pregnant
    – Have a certain medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease
    – Care for someone whose welfare may be at risk
    Everyone else can get the vacination: the national pharmacy chain (which also administers the NHS free shot) charges £12.99, no appointment neededm and last year they handed out a pack of complimentary cold and flu prevention products with every jab.
    It’s really, really important that people don’t get impression that flu-shots are only available for the vulnerable or the unwell – flu is a horrible experience for all concerned.

  29. Hmm.

    Under ACA-compliant health plans, flu shots, as preventative medicine, are covered at no copay.

    Many workplaces, as lurkertype said, bring in nurses and flu shots and give them out free because it’s cheaper than sick time.

    Vulnerable groups, with or without decent insurance, can get them at no charge from their local health board.

    If your carer is at high priority to get one because of your condition, you are “vulnerable” and of course you’re covered for it. Unless, of course, it’s medically unwise for you to have one.

    So I’m finding the idea that Meredith isn’t in the high priority category a bit strange. This really does seem like one of the few areas where the patchwork US health care “system” is getting it right.

    All that said, on the fly conversion suggests that £12.99 is about $20. If that’s about right, please, get a flu shot! Sorry, but that bit about the “persistent cough” scares me a bit. It’s the most obvious of the symptoms of asthma that were ignored for my entire childhood and well into my twenties. This is probably my insecurities and fears speaking, but the idea of Meredith not having a flu shot worries me. 🙁

    Take with however many grains of salt seem appropriate, given that I am not a doctor, and it’s about 5am here.

  30. Regarding vaccinations: for those of us of a certain age ( i.e. you remember having had chicken pox fifty or so years ago) consider getting the shingles vaccine.
    My grandmother had shingles, and it was a miserable experience for her. And quite frankly, if the Herpes varicella-zoster virus can lurk for 50 years before causing a horribly painful rash that follows the lines of major nerves, who knows what else the virus might get up to if it isn’t kept suppressed?

    I’m now of an age where insurance will cover the shot and my immune system has been going wonky the past few years, so I got the shingles shot this year along with my flu shot. (They warned me that they weren’t sure whether a booster might be needed in 10 years or so.)

    I’m just old enough to remember how happy my parents were when polio vaccines became available (we got both kinds, Saulk and Sabin, because nobody wanted to take chances). And now polio is nearly extinct in the wild and smallpox is gone… truly we live in the future.

    It was an odd feeling, a number of years ago, to realize 1) the vaccination mark on my shoulder had faded completely and disappeared and 2) it didn’t matter any more that I did not have a current smallpox vaccination.

  31. Sorry, I tuned out last night. Have we decided whether hard SF is a biscuit or a cake yet?

  32. @lurkertype & Lis Carey

    I carry hand sanitisers as a matter of course – mostly because self-propelling in a wheelchair isn’t the cleanest of activities! Hard to avoid touching the wheels.

    The reason I’m mostly certain I don’t have asthma is because my mother does, and she definitely has a harder time dealing with breathing than I ever have. I do seem to have inherited a mild sensitivity from her (I don’t handle heavy pollution well, coughs last forever, and almost anything that lowers the quality of air makes it a bit hard to breathe, but nothing major), certainly more so than either of my sisters, but nothing that shows up as actual asthma; it just means I have to be a bit careful.

    £12.99 isn’t really peanuts for me, so I think I might check with my GP again and see if they can bend the rules a little bit…

  33. Generally I find Hardness mainly useful as a relative measure. So if describing an authors work to someone I could say Cherryh’s Alliance/Union books are much Harder than Bank’s Culture.

    Beyond that it is a fairly nebulous term, much like Heaviness/Hardness in Rock/Metal music which also has a Mohs scale.

  34. Meredith – I do hope your GP can bend the rules; there have been plenty of years when I’ve gone without the jab because, well food, fuel and shelter are also essential to health and had to come first.

  35. re: shingles vaccine

    I’d also encourage those who had chicken pox as a child to get the vaccination. The last few years of my grandfather’s otherwise very healthy life , from 94 to 98, were made miserable by shingles. Almost constant uncontrolled nerve pain and rashes.

    My husband suddenly broke out in shingles about 5 years ago and had 6 miserable months before cortisone injections finally worked (with no guarantees it won’t come back). Our insurance didn’t cover it, but we paid for my vaccination anyway. I already have enough other problems.

    It’s not always perfectly effective, but even if it doesn’t completely prevent shingles, it almost always reduces the severity and duration of the outbreaks.

  36. @ Meredith

    I’m with Lis worrying about your coughs. My son inherited a family propensity for allergies. His manifests as bronchitis attacks. His stmptoms can be controlled by anti-histamines usually, but he does tends to hang on to coughs if he gets a cold. Not anywhere as severe as athsma, but still scary and sometimes dangerous. Could you suffer from something similar?



    Also, too: the trailer for Legion dropped. Summer cannot get here fast enough.

  38. Untreated pneumonia gave me a persistent cough and also led to years of chronic and recurring bronchial infections—I also have allergies to cats various pollens and such. A steroidal inhaler and starting an exercise regime (Chen style tai chi) helped greatly, but really anything that helps improve lung capacity and health will do. Prior to that, any cold could put me in bed for a week, and I was constantly experiencing small coughs, lots of minor infections, post-nasal drip etc.

    Definitely take any such coughs seriously. It’s one of those annoying but not deadly things that are easily to just accept as a part of life, but they need not be!

    My workplace brings in a nurse to stick everyone with a flu shot every year, for free, and I’m always the first on line for it. Crucial!

  39. emgrasso on November 8, 2015 at 6:01 am said:

    … It was an odd feeling, a number of years ago, to realize 1) the vaccination mark on my shoulder had faded completely and disappeared and 2) it didn’t matter any more that I did not have a current smallpox vaccination.

    1) Yes, so very odd.
    I went to look for mine and it was just gone!

  40. Meredith: it sounds like you have mild asthma. Just not as bad as your mother’s. And one good case of flu could tip that, as Nick has related.

    Talk to your GP; if your partner gets it, why not you? Just silly. Perhaps the Filers could do a whip-round for the 13 quid if s/he says no.

    I’ll have to check about the shingles vaccine; I’m not old enough to get it free, but the doctor might think it’s a good idea. It’s given to anyone over 50, but might not be free till you’re 65. I’ve had the chickenpox one, twice. (Never got it as a kid and so am sure to have a terrible case if I did now!)

    Am gobsmacked that the US is doing better in a health-related area.

    I can’t find my smallpox scar either! Did they all mysteriously disappear when it was declared eradicated? I had a small one — my mother’s was huge, and although she was rather vain, she never minded when that showed. Everyone had one, and it was better than dying. I also remember that the sugar cube really didn’t help the taste of the polio vaccine much. Pleh.

  41. @Everyone

    I’ll look into it, I promise. 🙂

    @Nate Harada


    I do wish they’d accept the inevitable lateness of the next expansion and stop fooling themselves that this time a short patch cycle will work, though. It would make things smoother.

  42. @junego: Heh, you had me at “bisexual.” 😉 Okay, you convinced me to read the sample – thanks, ‘cuz guess what? I realized during chapter 1, chuckling over something . . . I’m into this, no need to finish the sample – buy now! Then I read the rest of the sample (why not just open my iPad? I don’t know) and thought, “Yup, good choice.”


    So, having just finished and loved Ancillary Mercy, I’m going to deviate from my original plan (another 2015 book) and read Cloud Roads instead.

    I don’t get Night Shade’s pricing for the two sequels, though (especially on iTMS). Even the 3-book collection isn’t well-priced (what’s the point of a collection that’s about as much as the parts, or a few pennies more?!). Kobo discounts it a little. Hopefully these’ll be improved or on sale when I get to book 2, else I may actually get them in print (I anearly always get a series all in the same format).

    Anyway, Martha Wells fans who don’t own all her books – some are only $2.99 at iTMS (and probably Amazon.com): City of Bones (which I own), Wheel of the Infinite, The Wizard Hungers, The Death of the Necromancer, Between Worlds (an Ile-Rien & Cineth collection), and Blade Singer (co-written with someone unfamiliar to me). DRM-encumbered, but still, priced to move! A few are $3.99 or $4.99. I’m really baffled at the pricing for the sequels to Cloud Road!

  43. emgrasso: It was an odd feeling, a number of years ago, to realize 1) the vaccination mark on my shoulder had faded completely and disappeared and 2) it didn’t matter any more that I did not have a current smallpox vaccination.

    Lauowolf: Yes, so very odd. I went to look for mine and it was just gone! wtf?

    My original smallpox vaccination as a child did not “take”. So they gave it to me again, this time (so my mother told me) in the derriere.

    Needless to say, I never checked to see whether I had a scar.

    I do appreciate the mentions of the shingles vaccination. Thank youse! It had never occurred to me to get one, but now I probably will.

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