Pixel Scroll 12/20/16 Where’s The Pixel? There Was Supposed To Be A Scroll-Shattering Pixel!

(1) CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. From ScienceFiction.com I learned about Vashi Nedomansky’s video that collects all the Rogue One material used in publicity that never shows up in the movie.

It is a good sign when on the first weekend a film is out fans are already scrutinizing footage and looking for information about how it was put together, and trying to figure out if there are any extra pieces to the puzzle out there that they can view. Fortunately for us all, one man in particular was so enamored by ‘Rogue One‘ (and I do not blame him as I too loved the movie) that he took the time to comb through the teaser, the trailers, and all of the promos he could find for ‘Rogue One’ and discover 46 shots used in the marketing campaign that did not actually make the final cut of the film.


(2) THOSE WERE THE DAYS. AND STILL ARE. There’s a lot to learn about the history of sf publishing from “Tor’s Best- and Worst-Selling Author: A Conversation Between Tom Doherty and L.E. Modesitt Jr.” at Tor.com.

The next phase of the conversation was something that can really only result when you get a couple of people with several decades of industry experience together.

DOHERTY: Of course, when I became publisher of Ace, that was the year that the Science Fiction Writers of America discontinued the publisher Hugo. I could almost take that personally. Pat LoBrutto, who was at Ace then, went over to Doubleday, and I brought Jim Baen in from Galaxy. Jim’s heart always was in short stuff, though. He loved military science fiction, but he really loved magazines and the magazine approach. Eventually, well—I liked much of what Jim did, but I didn’t want it to be all we did.

MODESITT: Well, but that’s what he’s done at Baen, in essence.

DOHERTY: And it worked out fine because, when I brought David in from Timescape, Ron Bush had gone from publisher of Ballantine, where he had renamed the Ballantine science fiction Del Rey after Judy-Lynn, over to Pocket Books. As president of Pocket Books, Ron tried to hire Jim away, because Ron, having come out of running Del Rey, was very high on science fiction and wanted a strong science fiction line over there, but Jim didn’t want to go to work for a big corporation. I knew Ron quite well over the years, so I called him up and said “hey Ron, look, Jim doesn’t want to join a big corporation, but he’s always dreamed to have his own company to do things in the way he saw them. And he’s a fine editor. You’re trying to hire him, you know that. Suppose we make a company for you to distribute, and you’ll be the distributor and we’ll be the publisher. We’ll make what we can make but you’ll make a guaranteed profit on the distribution.” And he thought, why not?

MODESITT: Well, it’s still working for him.

DOHERTY: It’s still working, and that’s how we started Baen Books. I actually gave Jim the inventory to start Baen. I allowed him to take any authors who wanted to go to the startup with Simon & Schuster, any authors that he had brought in that he had worked on. And that was the initial inventory, the first year of Baen. So they would have been Tor books.

MODESITT: I don’t know. I think it worked out better for all sides.

DOHERTY: I think it worked out just great. Baen is still a healthy company doing nicely under Toni [Weisskopf], and, hey, I’m still a partner over there.

MODESITT: Sort of the silent partner.

DOHERTY: A very silent partner. They do it all themselves. It would be conflict of interest to get too involved, but it’s fun to be part of it even on the outside.

(3) DARK SIDE OF THE ENT. Mariel Katherine shares “My Darth Vader Christmas Tree.”

(4) ALL WE ARE SAYING IS, GIVE ALT A CHANCE. From the Newsthump style manual —

“I’m not Sith, I’m Alt-Jedi, clarifies Darth Vader”

The Alt-Jedi are best known for rejecting mainstream Jediism in favour of provocative behaviour designed to outrage the consensus, such as force-choking people and destroying worlds in colossal gouts of laser fire.

(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #21. The twenty-first of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for a manuscript critique – up to 80K words – by Leah Bobet.

Attention authors: today’s auction is for the critique of a manuscript, up to 80,000 words, from award-winning author Leah Bobet. You’ll send your manuscript to Bobet by February 1, and she’ll return your critique by March 15.

This auction is open worldwide.

(6) BOND. 24-POUND BOND. Remember when writers only had to worry about producing manuscripts? Now Writers Digest is even offering advice about “5 Life-Saving Techniques for Surviving a Garden Gnome Attack During the Holidays”.

Keep reading if you want to live.

Garden gnome attacks rise sharply during the holidays. This phenomenon is because people’s affection for Santa’s elves causes them to confuse friendly North Pole helpers with the vicious murdering murderers known as garden gnomes (gnomus hortus).

We must always remember that while gnomes enjoy a public image whitewash that passes them off as symbols of merriment and goodwill, they are secretly planning home invasions all over the world in a grand plan of evisceration and death. (Wait a minute—does that gnome look a little closer to the pet door than yesterday? Better board up the house just to be safe.) While we don’t know why gnomes attack us—for our metal? our spices?—we can be certain that they want us all dead. In 2016, the Gnome Defense Hotline based in Berlin has recorded 1,017 confirmed attacks worldwide….

(7) POPPINS RETURNS. Mary Poppins is coming back to the screen in 2018. SciFiNow says Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury and Lin-Manuel Miranda will be in there with her somewhere. But I hope they get busy filming, because two of the three are quite antique.

Mary Poppins Returns set to take place 25 years after the events of the original film, and will see Mary Poppins, um, return to the Banks’ household when Jane and Michael experience a personal loss.

Chicago and Into The Woods director Rob Marshall is helming the film, which will feature an original screenplay from David Magee based on childrens’ author PL Travers’ The Mary Poppins Stories. Marshall, John DeLuca and Marc Platt are producing. It will also feature an all-new score by Marc Shaiman and original songs by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Joining Streep as Topsy, Miranda was Jack the Street Lamplighter and Lansbury in an unconfirmed role in Mary Poppins Returns are Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Colin Firth as bank manager William Weatherall Wilkins, Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks and Christian Dixon as the Milkman.

(8) THE SCRIPT DOCTOR IS IN. Jason Sanford loathes Passengers but says he has come up with a quick rewrite which totally fixes the film. I haven’t read the end of his post because I’m not ready for spoilers, though he insists he’s morally entitled to deliver them. The fact is, I don’t know if I’m even going to see the film. Whenever I’m ready Sanford’s link will be waiting for me here….

In light of Passengers being a SF story loved only by manipulative stalkers orbiting the manosphere, here’s a quick script rewrite which saves the film and keeps the rest of us from wasting two hours of our life on sexist BS.

And yes, spoilers.

Big big spoilers.

But if you still want to see this crap film you deserve to have it spoiled.

(9) A CONDEMNATION OF HARRY POTTER. Mimi Mondal, who grew up in Calcutta, asserts “Characters Are Not A Coloring Book Or, Why the Black Hemione is a Poor Apology for the Ingrained Racism of Harry Potter” at The Book Smugglers.

This adamant refusal to see color is the reason why I didn’t feel awkward with Harry Potter at the age when I started reading it; the reason why I can no longer read it without cringing. And color isn’t even the only thing that Harry Potter refuses to see. Sexuality,  religion—you name it. Harry Potter isn’t an offensive text, but it’s equally inoffensive to the homophobic, xenophobic readers. And maybe those are the things that we need to talk about, when we are shocked that the fandom we loved so much as children also managed to nurture the people who are so hateful towards our mere existence.

The inescapable fact is that most minorities never really did exist in Harry Potter, except in a tokenistic way, or retconned into the narrative afterwards. Much before the controversy over the black Hermione, there was the controversy over the gay Dumbledore—one that played out pretty much along the same lines. Nothing in the books suggests that Dumbledore couldn’t have been gay, but nothing in them actually establishes, leave alone defends, his homosexuality either. You can read the vaguest hints of a homoerotic friendship with Grindelwald, but the fan-fiction community had been shipping everyone with everyone else for years, and I can never be sure of what might have been an intended hint in the books. (Sirius Black and James Potter were definitely homoerotic too, right? Non?) In the actual books, Dumbledore was just the generic unpartnered male. I’d have never known, if I didn’t read the “official” announcement on Rowling’s website, that she intended him to be gay.

….I want the racists in my stories, and I want the racists to lose. I want people like the Dursleys to call people like me Paki, nigger, gangster, terrorist, job-stealer, the proverbial dogs that their country is going to, and then I want to see them eat their words. I want to see the Death Eaters swelling with ancestral wealth built over centuries of slavery and colonialism—because aren’t they all old British aristocrats, and how else did those people get rich?—and mouthing their ancestral slurs. (Do you really think Draco Malfoy would’ve let Hermione off with just “Mudblood”, if she happened to be black?) I don’t want Mudblood to be a half-hearted allegory for gay, non-white or any other minority, I don’t want house-elves to enact a half-baked allegory of slaves, because minorities are not allegorical in this world, they’re not equal to the straight white people, and I’m sure Rowling knows that as well as I do.

Now that people have been reading and re-reading these books for going on two decades some have discovered the intrinsic social issues — struggles of the minority wizards versus the majority Muggles, between the wizard-born and “mudbloods,” of totalitarians against the free, or the exercise of supernatural power without allegiance to a deity (controversial among evangelical Christians) – aren’t virulent enough to keep pace with what they’ve learned about life in the real world. (Which is not a complaint you can make about Huckleberry Finn, whatever else someone might think about it.) So were the books inadequate from the start, or is this a consequence of someone who loved them outgrowing them? Rowling dislikes the first possibility as much as anyone, and has tried to patch things by reinterpreting several characters after the fact. But her efforts have been fatally undercut by making a hash of the Pottermore expansion into Native American magic. What does Mondal’s text say should be done with Harry Potter now? I find she doesn’t feel a strong need to erase these books from her Kindle – she simply says “I hate to discover myself more and more rejected by it on each subsequent read.” Mondal may still be making up her mind about the ultimate answer.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dave Langford, and Jim C. Hines for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cadbury Moose.]

75 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/20/16 Where’s The Pixel? There Was Supposed To Be A Scroll-Shattering Pixel!

  1. 2016 Novel Reading

    Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle
    Tachyon, edited by Rachel Fagundes
    cover art by Magdalena Korzeniewska, design by Elizabeth Story
    Synopsis: A Seattle-area couple who have been together many years are enchanted by a young woman who has started waitressing at their favorite restaurant near their semi-rural home. When her living conditions prove inadequate to the Puget Sound winter, they offer her a place to stay in their garage. But the young woman has some secrets in her past which eventually catch up to her.
    What I thought: This is a typically lovely Beagle fantasy-fable, but it telegraphs (in my opinion) way too early and way too overtly what’s really going on, and that made it less enjoyable for me than it might have been. It’s a good story, but not on my Hugo longlist.

    And Again by Jessica Chiarella
    Touchstone, edited by Sally Kim
    cover photograph by PlainPicture/GallyScanlon, design by Zoe Norvell
    Synopsis: Four very different people who are facing death are given a new lease on life in cloned bodies to which their memories and personality have been transferred. But their suddenly perfect bodies, and their long-term reprieves from death, provide as much of a challenge to their personal lives and relationships as that created by their previously-terminal illnesses.
    What I thought: The SF part of this book, the cloning, is merely a MacGuffin for the exploration of the personalities and relationships of the four main characters. In other words, it’s a book about human weaknesses, self-destructiveness, and interactions; it’s not really a science fiction book. I prefer my SF and Fantasy to be much heavier on those elements, but it’s a good enough book that I finished it with no wall-throwing or DNF-ing; however, it’s not getting anywhere near my Hugo list.

    Yesternight by Cat Winters (aka Catherine Karp)
    HarperCollins, edited by Lucia Macro
    cover photograph by Stefan Holm, design by Diahann Sturge
    Synopsis: A young female educational psychologist in the Pacific Northwest in 1925 travels to small one-room schools, evaluating students to determine whether they would benefit from advanced schooling in cases of high aptitude, or from targeted schooling to offset learning issues. Then she encounters a troubled young girl who claims to have lived a previous life.
    What I thought: I thought this book had a lot of promise, but I ended up being rather disappointed with it; the period details are interesting, but it’s a pretty standard horror plot. The author does a good job of painting a written picture of the era and its ethos. Be aware that this is a horror story about very damaged people. TW for some physical and emotional abuse. Again, not getting anywhere near my Hugo list.

    Unforgettable by Eric James Stone
    Baen Books, edited by the Baen Editing Team
    cover art by Kurt Miller
    Synopsis: A man who has spent his life being forgotten by everyone he meets, including his own mother, almost as soon as he is out of their sight and hearing, takes advantage of this bizarre condition by performing clandestine jobs for the CIA. Then, in the process of trying to stop the creation by a malevolent kingpin of an all-powerful quantum supercomputer, he meets a gorgeous female Russian agent who actually remembers him when they’re apart.
    What I thought: This is an homage to, and/or inspired by, Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Agent 007 stories. It even acknowledges this by referencing the 007 books and movies in several places. It’s an enjoyable but unremarkable adventure; I thought that Claire North’s The Sudden Appearance of Hope did a much more interesting job with the same concept. It has the usual really, really bad cover — but surprisingly few spelling and grammar errors, so Stone must have enlisted his own copyeditors (and good on him for that). It would be interesting to know whether the omission of “Nebula-winning and Hugo-nominated author” from the cover was the result of attempting to not discourage Puppies from buying and reading it – or of a hope on the author’s part that everyone will forget about his Mormon space whale rape story (you see what I did there; I freely admit that I still haven’t gotten over finding that appalling piece of excrement in my Hugo packet).

    The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome by Serge Brussolo
    translated by Edward Gauvin from the 1992 French novel Le Syndrome du Scaphandrier
    Melville House Publishing, editor unknown
    cover photograph by Howard Kingsnorth, design by Christopher King
    Synopsis: In a near-future world, the only works of art which are valued are the ectoplamic constructs brought back from the depths by “Dreamers”, people who are able to consciously construct dream scenarios to enter deep dream states and create, and bring back to the real world, works of varying size and value. A formerly-successful Dreamer whose skills and artworks have diminished in size and value struggles to regain his former glory, with the help of a woman he created in his dream world.
    What I thought: This is an intriguing premise, and there is a lot of interesting worldbuilding. However, it’s a 24-year-old book, and a visit by the Suck Fairy possibly accounts for several occurrences of misogyny. While it was interesting enough to finish, I have to admit that I’m mystified by the acclaim that it’s getting in some quarters. It’s also a grim book, and not recommended reading for those who are currently experiencing a spoon deficit.

    Time Siege by Wesley Chu [Time Salvager #2]
    Tor Books, edited by Marco Palmieri
    cover art by Richard Anderson
    Synopsis: A chronman on an ecologically-devastated Earth makes time-travel trips to the past to retrieve precious technology and natural resources right before the history books say they were destroyed in catastrophic events. After going renegade with the goal of finding cures for both his sister’s deadly illness and the Earth’s toxic ecology, he rallies the surviving tribes in the New York City area against the greedy corporations and the once-altruistic time salvagers who’ve been corrupted and co-opted into the service of shareholders and profit.
    What I thought: I enjoyed the first book, and I enjoyed this book, too. There’s some really good worldbuilding and plotting here. But for some reason, these books haven’t excited me the same way as others, such as Behind the Throne. I will definitely be picking up book #3, though.

    League of Dragons by Naomi Novik [Temeraire #9]
    Del Rey / Harper Voyager, editor unknown
    Del Rey cover art by Craig Howell, design by David G. Stevenson
    Harper Voyager cover art by Dominic Harman
    map by Robert Bull
    Synopsis: In the final entry of the Temeraire series, after Napolean and the French army have been routed from Russia, Laurence and the rest of the British dragonriders struggle through a bitter winter pursuing them in an attempt to finish the emperor’s ambitions once and for all; meanwhile, the eponymous dragon and his mate Iskierka must rescue their precious egg, which has been stolen by Napolean and the evil dragon Lien.
    What I thought: The author does a good job of wrapping up the series, but I didn’t find this entry as gripping as some of the earlier novels. However, as a whole, the series is so strong that it’s on my Hugo Best Series longlist.

    Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney [Palace of Dreams #1]
    Roc/New American Library, edited by Jessica Wade, Isabel Farhi, and Danielle Stockley
    cover art by Alejandro Colucci, design by Katie Anderson
    Synopsis: At an early age, a girl with unacknowledged royal blood living in an ordinary family develops capabilities as a “sensitive” so intense that it leaves her blind, but able to read the emotions and even thoughts of others – including those of the dead. Determined to make the best of her abilities, she works for the intelligence branch of the royal army. When a series of brutal blood magic murders shakes their city, she joins forces with one of the royal family’s elite Guards, himself a sensitive who dreams real deaths as they occur, to find and stop the murderers.
    What I thought: I really enjoyed this book, not least because the author has done some really inventive worldbuilding, and (unlike many novels, where I’ve got the majority of the plot figured out around 25% in) I had no idea where the story was going. There is also some interesting investigation of the question of when a child becomes an adult; the main character is 4 months shy of 18 years old, and so is considered still a child by her own culture despite her psychological maturity.

    The High Ground by Melinda Snodgrass [Imperials #1]
    Titan Books, edited by Miranda Jewess
    cover art by Alex Ronald
    Synopsis: 500 years in the future, after the Emperor, lacking a male heir, decides to designate the oldest of his nine daughters as the future Empress, she is required to attend the elite military space academy which is the obligation of all first-born noble males. A poor young commoner, whose only advantages are his quick intelligence and his drive, is forced to attend that same academy on scholarship when all the other universities pass him over in favor of students who haven’t already gotten a free ride for tertiary education. They develop a societally-forbidden friendship, and complications ensue.
    What I thought: Technically, this would be considered YA, since the majority of the characters are 18 years old or thereabouts (with some of the expected immaturity and idiocy which tend to manifest at that age). However, the characters are well-developed, show some good personal growth by the end of the novel, and it’s my understanding that the author has a good development arc planned for them in subseqent volumes. I cared enough about some of the characters that I’m really looking forward to reading more about them (book #2, In Evil Times, will be out in July 2017). There is some really good worldbuilding here, too, with the various alien races and the spacecraft and technology.

    A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers [Wayfarers #2]
    Hodder & Stoughton/HarperCollins, edited by Anne Perry
    cover photograph: stock, designer unknown
    Synopsis: One of the Wayfarer‘s crew has rescued Lovelace – or what was left of her – after the reboot, and taken her back to their home planet to adjust to life in her new body to spare her and the i>Wayfarer‘s engineer the grief of Lovey’s lost personality. But for an AI who’s used to being able to see and hear everything at all times and download any required information instantly and save it all in an expansive memory, life in a human-like body constrained by leftover inhuman programming protocols is confusing, confining, and terrifying.
    What I thought: This is your feel-good holiday reading book, your temporary election antidote. Yes, there is danger, and loss, and pain, and grief – but there is also self-discovery, redemption, friendship, and joy. This is on my Hugo Novel longlist because I am still smiling and feeling uplifted, a week after finishing it.

  2. The scroll obscures my view of the Pixel.

    8) Yeah, I’ve been spoiled for the plot, and I am angry that a beautiful looking SF movie starring actors I like (Pratt and Lawrence) is saddled with this offensive POS script. I don’t think me and the crew at Skiffy and Fanty can even hatewatch it without the podcast turning into an unhappy b–tchfest.


    (8) THE SCRIPT DOCTOR IS IN. – Oh wow. Having spoiled myself, all I can say is….WtF? Is that *still* a plot in major productions? Eww.

  4. Aaron: I wrote a review of Carrie Patel’s novel The Buried Life.

    Thank you for posting that! It’s probably been a year and a half since I read that book, but I still remember really being surprised by it and enjoying it, and your review really brings back the details.

    I’ve not got to #2, Cities and Thrones yet, but *cough* “it’s on the list”.

  5. (3) DARK SIDE OF THE ENT. Heh, cute, I mean, INTIMIDATING! 😉

    @Cadbury Moose & @Mike Glyer: I love the Pixel Scroll title! 😀

    @JJ: I’m pretty sure “It was on Kendall’s list.” will be my epitaph.

  6. @JJ: Thanks for the reading recaps/mini-reviews!

    Thanks for mentioning And Again‘s minimal SF-itude; I like to set my expectations (the audiobook’s on my iPhone already).

    I had no idea the Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome is 24 years old! Either I glossed over this info repeatedly or it hasn’t been mentioned much where I’ve been reading about it (or both).

    Oh yeah, I need to get and read Time Siege still. If I could borrow their time tech to get more time to read, that’d be great. 😉

    Dreaming Death is on my “books to check out” list; I’ve noted your rec.

    Re. The High Ground, I’m rolling my eyes just a little bit at the “no male heir, guess we have to call on a women” and requirement for first-born male nobles to attend the elite academy, all of which sounds more pseudo-medieval fantasy (where I probably wouldn’t even notice it) than high-tech far future (where it makes me roll my eyes). Is she the only woman at the academy, perchance? Regardless (and apologies if I’m being too grumpy tonight), it sounds like it was good, so I may check it out; I’m still in a decidedly more-SF-than-F mood.

    Plus, coincidentally, earlier today I listened to the “Tea and Jeopardy” episode with Melinda Snodgrass as guest. She was an interesting guest, but I’ve never read anything by her. (I have an excerpt of The Edge of Reason on my computer.) Listening to interviews with interesting/fun guests and seeing them on panels at cons get me interested in trying their fiction, so I’m in a “hmm, I should look at her books” frame of mind.

    Thanks again for the reading update/reviews!

  7. P.S. Allen M. Steele’s novelette “The Days Between” begins with a similar premise to Passengers and doesn’t venture into the same nauseating territory. I’m gonna reread that instead. Sorry, Chris Pratt, you’re cute but not that cute.

  8. I did not know there was a Mormon space whale rape story and I’m not sure what to do with the rest of my day now I have this knowledge. (Assume I’ve already read as much of the Mormon space whale story as I’m ever going to).

    Passengers has mildly creeped me out for no reason since I first saw a trailer; I’m sort of glad to now have reasons to give it a wide berth.

  9. Kendall: I had no idea The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome is 24 years old! Either I glossed over this info repeatedly or it hasn’t been mentioned much where I’ve been reading about it (or both).

    The French version was published in 1992. The English version is newly-published. I was, shall we say, extremely unimpressed with the misogynyistic parts and considered DNFing a couple of times because it pissed me off. The fact that I (and a great many other people) would have been much less aware of the misogyny in 1992 does not, in my view, make this a “great book” in 2016.

    Kendall: Re: The High Ground I’m rolling my eyes just a little bit at the “no male heir, guess we have to call on a women” and requirement for first-born male nobles to attend the elite academy, all of which sounds more pseudo-medieval fantasy (where I probably wouldn’t even notice it) than high-tech far future (where it makes me roll my eyes).

    The author actually sets up the worldbuilding so that it’s quite believable. 500 years in the future, family dynasties which own the powerful corporations rule through an inherited class system. The infanta attends the academy accompanied by four nobles’ daughters (of wildly-varying intelligence and capabilities), as an attempt at chaperonage.

    What I forgot to mention is that this book has some great action-adventure, with an attack on the empress-to-be and the orbiting space station where the academy is located, and a mystery to be solved about who’s behind it all. I found it really enjoyable.

    Snodgrass is an attorney and corporate CEO in real life, and is incredibly intelligent and inventive. I’ve not gotten to her Edge of series yet, but… “it’s on the list”. 😉


    That was fascinating. I didn’t know that Modessit’s day job was politics. Also, he says he was averaging a novel a year while working, and retirement has upped that to 2.5 per year – the man is a writing machine!


    I’ve been avoiding reviews as I don’t want to be too spoilered, but even so I’m managing to hear lots of really bad things about this movie. I think I may just end up reading the reviews and skipping the movie.

  11. Just finished: The Burning Page (Invisible Library 3) by Genevieve Cogman. A good entry in the series. I felt it was treading water a bit in the plot department with “middle book in a series syndrome”, but it heated up nicely at the climax.

  12. (3) I find the lack of gifts… disturbing.

    Passengers: I was very disappointed to hear about the creeptastic plot. The trailers promised some really neat possibilities – sabotage and its second-order effects (the zero-gee pool clip, for one), a big mystery about Why This Happened, and so forth. It’s a damn shame they went with the Lonely Man Needs Companion angle, but at least I won’t be feeling bad for not being able to afford to see it.

    Speaking of feeling bad, I had a neurological appointment today and mentioned that I’ve been in something of a funk lately. We agreed that at least part of it is bound to be situational blues, but he started me on a new prescription that should help if there’s a physical aspect – and as a bonus, it may help with my chronic neck/upper back pain. I’m due to see him again in February to track how it’s working out, but in the meantime, at least it’s a cheap generic. Yes, it’ll double my prescription bill if I end up staying on it, but I think I can manage a bump from $3 to $6.

    Finally: How can you have any pixels if you don’t read your scroll?

  13. “Garden gnome attacks rise sharply during the holidays. This phenomenon is because people’s affection for Santa’s elves causes them to confuse friendly North Pole helpers with the vicious murdering murderers known as garden gnomes (gnomus hortus).”

    DEFAMATION!! This is how the imperial powers will continue to demonize the innocent garden gnomes to keep them as slaves in their gardens. Your day will come, I’ll tell you.

    *member of the Gnomish Liberation Front*

    Also: REMEMBER THIS! Gnome sighted in Argentina.

  14. 8) My reaction to the trailer: Why does a ship with hibernating passengers have oxygen, gravity and food supplies?

  15. This is the theme to Pixel Scrolls
    The off-meter theme to Pixel Scrolls
    Filers looked me up and asked if I would filk a theme song

    It’s almost halfway finished
    No, I didn’t say it was Finnish
    How do you like this ode to Pixel Scrolls?

    This is the theme to Pixel Scrolls
    The crudely-filked theme to Pixel Scrolls
    This is the tune that’s guaranteed to shoo off all the Barflies
    We’re almost to the part
    Where I run out of lyrics
    Now let’s read the latest Pixel Scroll!

    EDIT, @bookworm: Shush. Next you’ll be asking what God needs with a starship, and there’s no coming back from that.

  16. bookworm1398 on December 21, 2016 at 12:53 am said:

    8) My reaction to the trailer: Why does a ship with hibernating passengers have oxygen, gravity and food supplies?

    It’s a more advanced form of the starship from The Cold Equations. Having thrown multiple nice people out of airlocks for decades, engineers redesigned the ships so they had plenty of food and plenty fuel. Unfortunately, being very, very literal engineers, they also ensured that there would be a steady supply of ‘stowaways’ so that the extra measures they had implemented wouldn’t be wasted.

  17. RE: Harry Potter: Without any judgement either way: Potter was always set in a strange UK-centric universe. Its not just that all the characters are unmistakingly white british (although there was one Pakistani pair of twins?), the villain is british. Apparently no one outside of Britain cares about Voldemorts Reign?

    The world building breaks apart at its scope. It starts with the school: How many students are enlisted in Hogwarts? 1000? That seems already quite plenty, considering there are only a handful of teachers (in my school there are about 120 teachers for 1100 students). But perhaps with magic -and no need for maths or literature – and full classes etc. they might expand it to 2000. In England (excluding Wales and Scotland) there are 8.2 Million students in Muggle schools. That means there is one wizard among 8200 muggles. That would put the number of wizards in England at less than 7000. That doesnt reall fit with the faction, ministry of magic etc…
    I do like the Potter books, but the World Building is not very consistent (and as a teacher I never could get around the parents not reacting to the torture of students under Umbridge)

  18. The plot of Passengers makes me think of another of the stories in those Weird Science comics:

    N fyrrcre fuvc vf frag ba n 100 lrne gevc. 50 zra naq 50 jbzra. Gur crbcyr pna bayl fheivir serrmvat bapr, fb ab erghea gb gur cbqf bapr gurl ner eryrnfrq. Bar bs gur zra qrpvqrf gnzcre jvgu gur gvzre ba uvf cbq gb eryrnfr uvz nsgre bayl 2 lrnef, gura gunj n jbzna gb or uvf pbzcnavba, gryyvat ure gung obgu bs gurve cbqf snvyrq. Jurarire ur oberq bs ure nsgre n lrne be fb, ur cynaarq gb xvyy ure naq gunj nabgure bar. Fb ur gunjrq gur svefg bar naq fher rabhtu nsgre n lrne orpnzr oberq jvgu ure, xabpxrq ure bhg jvgu n fghaare naq fghpx ure onpx va ure cbq gb qvr, naq gunjrq gur frpbaq bar. Ng guvf cbvag va gur fgbel, arj vasbezngvba vf nqqrq gung ur unq pbafcverq jvgu gur frpbaq bar nyy nybat gb gunj gurzfryirf bhg 2 lrnef orsber gur raq bs gur zvffvba, gura gunj gur bguref bhg bar ng n gvzr naq hfr gurz nf fynirf. Fb orsber ur gunjrq ure bhg, ur frg gur gvzre sbejneq ba gur fuvc fb gung fur jbhyq guvax gur iblntr jnf arneyl bire. Bayl, jura ur gunjrq ure bhg, fur fghaf uvz, fnlvat gung fur jnf hfvat uvz nyy nybat naq gur zna fur jnagrq gb or jvgu jnf nabgure bs gur sebmra cnffratref. Nf gur zna jnf ybfvat pbafpvbhfarff naq urnqrq gbjneqf uvf fher qrngu, ur fgvyy sryg fbzr pbzsbeg va gur snpg gung fur qvqa’g xabj gung fur jnf bayl va gur ortvaavat bs gur iblntr–naq gung uvf svefg zbir nsgre njnxravat unq orra gb xvyy gur bgure 49 zra.

  19. (9) Yes, the world building is atrocious in the Potterverse. I will say, however, that these books would have never seen the light of day had Rowling added in ‘real’ racism, homophobia, etc al. These are published by Scholastic in the US (not sure who has them elsewhere) and marketed to children (at first).

    Though it would have been interesting to see what the books would have been if Rowling had more rejections and time to polish the first book.

  20. Having just read the review for Passengers in the paper this morning, yes, that sounds deeply creepy and problematic. Surprisingly, the review for Assassin’s Creed made it sound less terrible than I was expecting.

    Having said which, if I go to anything in the theater in the next few weeks, it’ll most likely be Rogue One again. That trailer full of unused footage is fascinating, and I look forward to finding out more of how the movie changed via reshoots, etc.

  21. bookworm1398 on December 21, 2016 at 12:53 am said:

    8) My reaction to the trailer: Why does a ship with hibernating passengers have oxygen, gravity and food supplies?

    I’ve seen another use of the lone stowaway on a sleeper ship where they found another way of providing the food supply.

    Also see the movie Pandorum.

  22. Meredith Moment:

    Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip is on sale at Amazon (US) for $1.99 at the moment. It’s a collection of short work.

    Up until now, I had been blissfully ignorant of the film Passengers. Would that such were still the case.

  23. I miss the good old days before all of this newfangled “cryo” technology. You launched a sublight generation ship, part of the crew mutinied, the ship became infested by two-headed mutants and ignorant primitives … that’s the way it should be done.

  24. PASSENGERS Wally Woods’ graphic story 50 GIRLS 50 has a more hedonistic take on this idea.

    That’s the story I described in ROT13 above.

  25. That’s the story I described in ROT13 above.

    I think I’ve heard enough stories about de-crypting.

  26. I liked Mimi Mondal’s piece, especially this bit:

    I want the racists in my stories, and I want the racists to lose. I want people like the Dursleys to call people like me Paki, nigger, gangster, terrorist, job-stealer, the proverbial dogs that their country is going to, and then I want to see them eat their words.

    I told someone the other day that although SFF today has lots of LGBT people, I thought that very, very few stories portrayed anything close to the “authentic LGBT experience,” but then I struggled to articulate precisely what I meant by that. I think Mondal has put her finger on it. Discrimination and suffering are an integral part of the experience, and when you take that out, what’s left feels fake.

    And yet, just in the past fifty years, I’ve witnessed such enormous changes, it’s easy for me to believe that fifty years from now, the LGBT portrayals in many of these stories really will be accurate. It’ll be a distinction that merits little more attention than being left-handed does. This is the future I really believe in and which I spent a lot of my life fighting for–I should be happy to see it. (For the most part, I am happy to see it–even though it doesn’t reflect the experience I have lived.)

    For me, realistic would mean a gay character who deals with one or more homophobic teammates and ends up earning their grudging respect. They’ve just modified their homophobia enough to let them accept their teammate. And he accepts that as–not enough, but enough for now. This sort of little step, plus regular sips from the same bitter chalice, are a big part of how we actually got this far.

    I can’t imagine a straight writer being comfortable writing something like that, though, and, just as I think a straight writer would really hesitate to create a realistic homophobic character (especially for a story set 50 years or more in the future), I’m not sure it’s fair to blame Rowling for failing to create racist ones.

  27. But where are the scrolls? Please post the scrolls
    Well, maybe next year

    The Science Fiction issue of Wired turned up in the mailbox last night. Really haven’t had a a chance to read it yet. It seems to be one of the thinner issues (92 pages) that I’ve received recently. Good selection of contributors.

  28. @Robert Reynolds – thanks for the heads-up!

    (9) That snippet made me angry (for reasons similar to what used to infuriate me in high school and college at people who think all literature _must_ teach positive lessons, and who therefore pooh-pooh all horror), but after reading the introduction to that essay and seeing how central to her world the Harry Potter universe is, and how much more involved the essay is than simply anger that a children’s book series is overly-simplistic, her points make more sense to me.

  29. Another Meredith Moment:
    Marc Laidlaw has half a dozen books available free for Kindle (24 hours only) – five novels from the 1990s plus a huge story collection (in both the US and UK – haven’t investigated other Amazon versions)

    @Robert Reynolds – thanks for the McKillip link. This deal wasn’t available in the UK, but it was very reasonably priced, so I bought anyway (well, it is Christmas, or very nearly)

  30. @Kathodus, Peter J:

    My pleasure. I love McKillip’s work, particularly her short fiction.

    Peter J: Thanks in turn for the head’s up on the Laidlaws. I’ve read four of the five novels and enjoyed them. Having the chance to read them again is a delight. The collection also looks very good and I love his short fiction as well.

  31. (2) Tom Doherty:

    Of course, when I became publisher of Ace, that was the year that the Science Fiction Writers of America discontinued the publisher Hugo.


  32. My German lesson for today:

    Wenn hinter Pixel Pixel pixeln, pixeln Pixel Pixel nach.

    An, auf, pixel, in, neben, über, unter, scroll, zwischen.

  33. My reaction to the trailer: Why does a ship with hibernating passengers have oxygen, gravity and food supplies?

    My bet: The passengers are supposed to get thawed out a few years before they reach their destination, so they can do appropriate prep stuff. Plus hang out in nice bars with convincing robot bartenders, because all prep and no daiquiri makes Jack a weird-ass creeper.

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