Pixel Scroll 2/14/19 Scot Hunk, Cyber Punk, Even If It’s Old Junk

(1) HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. I found my holiday inspiration at SYFY Wire: “Debate Club: The 5 best romances in sci-fi movies”.

Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Week! And even if you’re not out with your significant other on Thursday night, you can still appreciate a good love story, particularly one that’s surrounded by the genre trappings we’ve all come to appreciate. We need love stories to humanize all the theatrics, to make sure human beings aren’t lost among the stars.

Skipping all the details, the movies (and couples and actors, where applicable) Grierson and Leitch choose are:

Upstream Color (2013) — Jeff (Shane Carruth) and Kris (Amy Seimetz)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) — Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)

Edward Scissorhands (1990) — Edward (Johnny Depp) and Kim (Winona Ryder)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) — Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet)

WALL-E (2008) — WALL-E and EVE

(2) THE TMZ OF THE MCU. And yes, love is in the air, even after 50% of humanity is gone (Inverse: “Who’s Dating Who in the MCU? After Thanos’ Snap, Here’s the Complete Guide”).

This Valentine’s Day, there’s no better place to look for love than in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which boasts more than 80 characters in 20 movies with stories spanning across various countries, realms, galaxies, and even timelines. And only half of them are dead!

Many characters are now gone. We get it. But hey, love is complicated! Love is patient. Love is kind. Time travel Love can fix anything.

(3) BEWARE THE IDEAS OF MARCH. John Scalzi tweeted, “Oh, hey, here’s a trailer for you, he said, with no personal vested interest at all.” I wonder what he meant by that? Love Death + Robots debuts on Netflix on March 15.

Sentient dairy products, werewolf soldiers, robots gone wild, garbage monsters, cyborg bounty hunters, alien spiders and blood-thirsty demons from hell – all converge in eighteen NSFW animated stories. Presented by Tim Miller & David Fincher.

(4) WAKE-UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. Um, can you even do that in the vacuum of space? The promoters of Space Roasters say that’s where they’ll perfect your cup of coffee.

TrendHunter Marketing has the details — “Re-Entry from Space Heats Space Roasters’ Coffee Beans”.

Space Roasters is looking to “revolutionize coffee roasting” by taking the process to outer space. Space Roasters plans to send green coffee into space and allow the heat from its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere to take care of the roasting—and in the process, address many of the pitfalls of conventional coffee-roasting practices. Since gravity interferes with coffee beans tumbling and breaking, Space Roasters aims to create a zero-gravity setting for roasting that creates evenly distributed heat and perfectly roasted beans.

Daniel Dern notes: “This makes me think of the Tom Swift Jr book where he sends up rockets holding cargoes of solar batteries so they can charge in space, and then come back to earth.”

(5) GEORGE PAL. Arnold Leibovit’s GoFundMe “Fantasy Worlds of George Pal Film Preservation” hope to raise $9,850 to preserve a series of historic rare archival videotape interviews – many never released –  from The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal  (1986).

In the annals of Hollywood, Academy Award winner George Pal will always be remembered as a titan, a brilliant visionary who profoundly shaped the art of motion pictures. As an animator, Pal was a pioneer of stop-motion animation known as Puppetoons ™ and a peer of Walt Disney and Walter Lantz. In the 1950’s as a producer and director of live-action films, he brought to the screen such classics as “The War of the Worlds”, “The Time Machine”, “When Worlds Collide”, “Destination Moon”, “Tom Thumb”, “Houdini”, “Atlantis the Lost Continent” “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm”, “7 Faces of Dr. Lao”, “The Power”, “Doc Savage: Man of Bronze” and others.  Pal’s cinematic legacy can be traced in the works of Walt Disney, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Gene Roddenberry, Tim Burton, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and dozens of others.

The original 1 inch ‘B’ NTSC video format used in the production of “The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal” are long out of use. To make matters worse, only 2  working ‘B’ NTSC machines exist that can aid in the digitization process.  There is no telling how long these machines will last or their working parts as they are also no longer in existence!

… Talent interviews to preserve includes: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Tony Randall, Tony Curtis, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, Gene Roddenberry, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Russ Tamblyn, Barbara Eden, Ann Robinson, Roy E. Disney, Ward Kimball, Robert Wise, George Pal, Mrs. George Pal,  David Pal, Gae Griffith, Walter Lantz, Gene Warren Sr., Wah Chang, Jim Danforth, Robert Bloch, Chesley Bonestell, Albert Nozaki, William Tuttle, Duke Goldstone, Bob Baker and Phil Kellison….

(6) REBEL AND WRITE CLEARLY. Benjamin Dreyer, vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House, and the author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style asserts in a Washington Post opinion piece: “I’m not the grammar police. But writing well is an act of resistance.”.

…I might also urge you to kondo your prose of what I call the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers® — the “very”s and “quite”s and “rather”s and “actually”s in which many (most?) of us bury our writing like so many packing peanuts. Because once you’ve stripped those away, I insist, you’ll find yourself looking at sentences that are bolder in their spareness.

And perhaps be less eager to grab up the latest bit of jargony businessspeak — is it not enough to orient new employees? Must we onboard them, and is that not prohibited anyway by the Geneva Conventions?

As a copy editor I find myself frequently asked to weigh in on an array of language peeves and crotchets: “Is it okay to use ‘literally’ to mean ‘figuratively’?” “What about ‘begs the question’?” “What do I do about supermarket signs that read ‘Ten Items or Less’?” (Respectively: If I say no, is that going to stop you? I plead the Fifth. Get a hobby.)

(7) PRIME PADDINGTON. He looks pretty good for 50. Paddington Bear passed the half-century mark last last year but apparently isn’t retired yet (BBC News: “Paddington returns as a TV series with the voice of Ben Whishaw”).

The actor has already provided the voice for the bear for two films that were critical and box office hits. 

The series for pre-schoolers will be a 3D CG-animated series, which follows the adventures of a younger Paddington.

[…] “It is a joy to bring this uniquely life-enhancing bear to a whole new audience of younger children. We are thrilled that the inimitably brilliant Ben Whishaw will continue to voice Paddington,” [executive producer David Heyman] said. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1929 Vic Morrow. I usually avoid dealing in death here but this time I can’t. He and two child actors were killed in 1982 by a stunt helicopter crash during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie. It was his first big budget SF film having done only two low-budget ones before that, Message from Space (Ucyuu karano messeiji), a Japanese film where he was cast as General Garuda, and as Hank Slattery in Humanoids of the Deep. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 14, 1933 Robert Shea. Author with Robert Anton Wilson of The Illuminatus Trilogy (The Eye in the PyramidThe Golden Apple and Leviathan). Weird shit. Is it really genre? Or just the ravings of two insane writers? (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 77. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based based on his character, A Stitch in Time  and a novella, “The Calling” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone
  • Born February 14, 1948 Teller, 70. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 67. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 67. Interesting person the she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 56. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where (SPOILER!) his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 49. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in Star TrekStar Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond (with a co-writing credit for the latter). His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the present Mission: Impossible franchise.
  • Born February 14, 1978 Danai Guirira, 41. She’s best known for her role as Michonne on The Walking Dead, and as Okoye in the MCU franchise starting with Black Panther, and later reprising that role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Her first genre film was Ghost Town in which she’s listed as playing assorted ghosts, and she’s got some role in the forthcoming Godzilla vs. Kong

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) LOOKING BACKWARD. At the Dublin 2019 site Ian Moore does a category overview: “Retro Hugos: dramatic Presentations in 1943”.

…Science fiction pictures as we know them now were still relatively rare in 1943. However, horror films provide a rich vein of Retro Hugo eligible material, admittedly of variable quality. Universal brought out another version of The Phantom of the Opera, with Arthur Lubin directing Claude Rains in the title role. Somewhat unusually for horror films of the era, this film was awarded Academy Awards in the cinematography and art direction categories. At just over 90 minutes it is eligible for the long form dramatic Retro Hugo.

Universal also brought out the short Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, directed by Roy William Neill. This was the first of their films to feature an encounter between two of their monsters. Lon Chaney Jr. reprised his role as the Wolf Man while Bela Lugosi finally played Frankenstein’s Monster, a role he had famously turned down when the 1931 Frankenstein was being cast. Chaney also appeared in the Universal short films Calling Dr. Death (directed by Reginald LeBorg), a lost memory murder mystery, and Son of Dracula (directed by Robert Siodmak), in which he took on Lugosi’s Dracula role. By 1943 Lugosi meanwhile was ageing, but he still managed to play another vampire role in Columbia’s short Return of the Vampire (directed by Lew Landers) and The Ape Man (a short for Banner Pictures, directed by William Beaudine), in which he plays a scientist who transforms into an ape-man hybrid following some ethically dubious experiments….

(11) VALENTINE’S DAY BURRITO. John Scalzi reached 160,000 Twitter followers yesterday. By popular acclaim he celebrated by making a burrito. A thread with the recipe starts here. He’s also published it as a Whatever blog post.

(12) PERSPECTIVES ON SFF HISTORY. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” takes a look at, “How genre has failed and served queer representation.”

Two years ago, during my annual pilgrimage to the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ book sale, I stumbled across Kindred Spirits, the first anthology of gay and lesbian science fiction stories ever, to my knowledge, published. First published in 1984 by Alyson Publications, one of the oldest LGBTQ publishing houses in operation, the anthology boasted twelve queer science fiction stories written by authors of varying identities, ranging from legendary lesbian author Joanna Russ to openly gay Star Trek screenwriter David Gerrold, who wrote the iconic episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

[…] [Editor Jeffrey M.] Elliot clearly hoped that anthologizing these stories would engender empathy and acceptance in his readers, but he was also cognizant of the limitations of fiction, citing the clear and urgent work of queer activists as moving the goalposts forward. Turning away from the darkness of the past, Elliot looks hopefully to a future where speculative fiction both reflects increasing acceptance of the LGBTQ community and can be used to increase acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

It’s been 35 years since Kindred Spirits was published in that hope. Have we lived up to it?

(13) SOMETHING WICKED. Flavor Wire quotes from Frank Skinner’s introduction to the Folio Society’s new edition of a Ray Bradbury classic, which contemplates what exactly makes this story so scary: “Book Excerpt: On the Potent Fear of ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’”.

…Bradbury, it seems, is something of a student of fear. It is, he suggests, much more complex than we might think. It is certainly not just one thing. I once lived in an apartment overlooking the Thames. Seeing so much of the old river made me realise how different it could be from day to day, from hour to hour. It swirled and settled, it grew darker, it sparkled, it seemed, sometimes, almost to stop flowing. It feels as if Bradbury, through his writings, has similarly studied fear on a daily basis, noting its ebbs and flows, recognising its surprising variety. Thirteen-year-old boys can be a strange mix of high energy and deep languor. Their fear, Bradbury shows us, is subject to similar peaks and troughs. Having been near-paralysed with foreboding for a sustained period, Will and Jim become ‘starchy with boredom and fatigued with sameness’ and consider giving themselves up to the carnival just for something to do….

(14) IT’S A DRY HEAT. So far, Dune has pretty firmly resisted adaptation to the silver screen. Director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) is lining up talent for the next attempt (IGN Entertainment: “Dune Movie: Every Actor in the Sci-Fi Reboot”). Actors listed in the article as signed (or in talks) include:

  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) — Paul Atreides
  • Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) — Lady Jessica
  • Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) — Duke Leto Atreides
  • Stellan Skarsgård (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) — Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
  • Dave Bautista (Blade Runner 2049) — Glossu Rabban
  • Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming) — in talks to play Chani
  • Charlotte Rampling (Red Sparrow) — Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
  • Javier Bardem — in talks to play Stilgar
  • Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2) — Gurney Halleck
  • Jason Momoa (Aquaman) — reportedly in talks to play Duncan Idaho

(15) ASKING FOR A TIME REFUND. Think Story deems the TV production of Nightflyers to be “A Hot Mess in Space.”

Were you as disappointed in Netflix’s “Nightflyers” as I was? Join me as we take a look at what could have been a great series but was thrown out the airlock.

[Thanks to Charles Mohapel, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

52 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/14/19 Scot Hunk, Cyber Punk, Even If It’s Old Junk

  1. IT’S A DRY HEAT

    Either this is a duplicate (13) or the next is duplicate (14).

    It’s been so long since I delurked I had to check my nym.

  2. [6] Ooh! Speaking of useless throat clearers, I feel my antipathy growing in regard to the Three Dots of Eyebrow Wiggling. You know, they’re used for a sort of wry effect at the end of… sentences. And sometimes, they’re used by …people… in the middle of sentences as well, perhaps to throw doubt upon their own word choice.

    It used to seem kind of clever to me. Now it just feels somewhat hackneyed.

    You may file when ready, Gridley.

  3. Mix Mat: Maybe I could just put three dots in front of it…?

    Thanks for the assist in fixing the numbering. Appertain yourself your favorite beverage!

  4. 11
    That’s, um, something. (It is, as several people pointed out, a chimichanga. For a burrito, he could have nuked it for about 45 seconds or so, just to get it heated up.)

  5. (1) I would submit that Outlander, about a family struggling with the emotional implications of their ability to time travel, is some pretty hot and heavy SF when compared to Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet trying hard to forget each other. But I spent V-Day with my true loves (coffee, pizza and my SJW credential), so what do I know.

    (11) I know a lot of Californians that would take major offense if you promised them a burrito and gave them a tortilla full of processed sugar.

  6. 8) Enrico Colantoni was also excellent (and, I assume, will be again in the upcoming Hulu revival) as Keith Mars, father to Veronica.

  7. (8) For Simon Pegg, I’m somewhat surprised to see no mention of The World’s End – an odd movie that I’m still not sure how I feel about, but definitely SF and featuring a strong performance by Pegg, cast against type as a really unpleasant guy.

  8. @Kip – for me Pynchon is the master of the ellipsis… hints of conspiracies that may or may not be mere paranoia… connections almost made… but I seem to remember reading that, when used at the end of a sentence, they should consist of four, not three dots…. Or should they?

  9. (8) I think it is worth noting that Simon Pegg is a member of the exclusive club of actors who have appeared in Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who.

  10. @Kip W: to quote the master M.R. James: “Dots are believed by many writers of our day to be a good substitute for effective writing. They are certainly an easy one. Let us have a few more…”

  11. @Stuart Hall: Now I’m curious. If we were to postulate there are five major SF/F film/TV franchises – Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel (regardless of studio), Dr Who, and Harry Potter – is there an actor who has had a named speaking part in all?

    (For that matter, are there other franchises that should be included? Terminator? Aliens? Batman/DC? Stargate?)

  12. @O Westin: I’m reminded of a Simpsons quote (Comic Book Guy, speaking to Richard Dean Anderson): “Richard Dean Anderson, of the four “Star” franchises: Wars, Trek, Gate, and Search, “Gate” is easily in my top three!”

  13. 4) If you are getting significant heat from re-entry, you aren’t in free fall any more. Question is, who is being deceived here? The customers, the investors, or the guys who came up with the idea? Or is this just a poor description on the part of TrendHunter Marketing?

  14. Eli says For Simon Pegg, I’m somewhat surprised to see no mention of The World’s End – an odd movie that I’m still not sure how I feel about, but definitely SF and featuring a strong performance by Pegg, cast against type as a really unpleasant guy.

    As I’d never heard of The World’s End, I didn’t mention it.

  15. Cliff, I don’t think this is an ellipsis. I think it’s another manifestation of the Three Dots of Irony, which seem intended to indicate a tongue in a cheek when used (or overused) at the end of a sentence. Some people use it so often, it amounts to nothing more than saying I AM IRONIC! When they put them there, they are poking the reader in the ribs to make sure they haven’t overlooked their cleverness.

    Perhaps I’ve seen too many ellipses. I’ve seen horrid folk poetry, often of a pathetic or morbid sort, that uses them once or twice in every line, perhaps to simulate the broken phrases of someone so concerned that they can’t finish a single sentence. (From memory, something like

    “She was just… a child…
    When her life was… cut short…
    Never… to know… the joy
    Of…

    The last one is a real ellipsis and signifies me declining to recall any more of the feeling, possibly real, possibly sincere, in a poem that I think I saw in a handout publication found at a truckstop, The Highway Evangelist by name.) It reads somewhat like a Shatner impression.

    Steve Wright, I would have to look up whether putting a period after an ellipsis is grammatically correct. I expect it was at some point, but it’s been eroded away by popular misuse in these days when people throw in whole rows of dots in online communications just for the joy of mashing that button over and over.

    I’m not against ellipses. I use them myself. There are situations, though, where they seem to be used as a substitute for every other form of punctuation, and others where they are intended to present an ironic or sly persona, but in overuse end up seeming more like a conversation with someone who keeps wiggling his eyebrows at you and saying “Nudge nudge!” while elbowing you in the side.

  16. I hadn’t realized there was so much to it!

    For my four-at-the-end-of-a-sentence claim, Wikipedia says, “Whether an ellipsis at the end of a sentence needs a fourth dot to finish the sentence is a matter of debate”

    It does also say, “In poetry, an ellipsis is used as a thought-pause or line break at the caesura[16] or this is used to highlight sarcasm or make the reader think about the last points in the poem.” Is this related to your three dots of irony?

  17. Cliff, it seems related. I’ve been calling them the Three Dots of Irony for a score of years now, which seems to cover the same territory with fewer and clearer words.

    Anyway, I actually clicked in to point to something I found that is tangential to SF, perhaps, but relevant to fans of EC (which published some striking SF and horror artists) and MAD. From Archive.org, here is Bill Gaines’s FBI file (expurgated).

    ps: I always meant to watch THE WORLD’S END. It’s on Roku, but everybody who has it wants to charge real money just to show it to me for a limited time. Maybe I’ll go pay a buck more for a used copy, if the Record Archive has it.

  18. Worlds End is my favourite Pegg-movie. It helps that I had no idea what the movie was about when I started to watch it, so it took me by surprise. I do recommend it and if you do not know the story, do not ask about it before.

    Btw, I had some friends who went to the cinema to see 28 days later, also without knowing the story. Got a bit nastier surprise there.

  19. (10) I watched several of these a few months ago. Heaven Can Wait is head and shoulders above the rest. Laird Cregar is completely brilliant in it.

    And FWIW, the inferior Warren Beatty movie of the same name is *not* a remake. Almost nothing in common plot wise.

  20. And FWIW, the inferior Warren Beatty movie of the same name is *not* a remake.

    Well, it is, it’s just that the film it’s a remake of is called Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

  21. Worlds End is the third of the Cornetto trilogy, the others being Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

    One genre Simon Pegg film not mentioned so far is Paul.

  22. Also, Simon Pegg’s TV series Spaced, while not actually genre (at least, as far as I can remember) was very, very definitely genre-adjacent in the same way as, say, Community?

  23. @8: Enrico Colantoni is one of those actors who, once you notice them, is suddenly everywhere, recently the sadly cancelled Travelers.

    @14: Am I the only one who thinks that Momoa as Stilgar and Bardem as Duncan Idaho would be a better fit for both? Idaho in particular I always pictured as one of those wiry guys who will just plain murder you.

    @15: That series filled a badly needed gap in the genre.

  24. Warren Beaty’s Heaven Can Wait was in fact a remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan from 1941. Mr. Jordan being the heavenly manager. In the original Mr. Jordan was Claude Rains and in the remake it was James Mason.

    “In the not too distant future, wars will no longer exist. But there will be Scrollerball”

  25. (14) By coincidence, I’m in the process of rereading Dune for the first time since 1974 (when I was 16), and I’m finding I’m getting a lot more out of it than I did as a kid. Being familiar with the universe helps, but simply having much broader knowledge of our own world helps a lot too.

    Something that has surprised me: I had remembered it as homophobic, but now I’m having second thoughts.

    First, there’s no question that the Baron was gay. I’ve highlighted bits of the text that reinforce that point. I only mention that because I’ve heard people attempt to argue the contrary. Despite his fathering Lady Jessica when he was young, the text makes it clear he’s not even bi.

    The Baron’s homosexuality is clearly used to make him more nasty. Not only is he gay, he’s abusive, and he’s focused on teen-age boys. He’s a nightmare stereotype. (You find Stephen King doing the same thing up to the 1990s, by the way.) This is literal homophobia: making homosexuality scary.

    But, no one else in the story ever breathes a critical word about it. They have countless reasons to hate the man, and they vent all the time, but no one ever mentions his “tastes,” as he puts it, as a reason to hate him. And it’s not that they don’t know; he’s completely open about it, and while he’s obsessed with secrecy in many areas, his sexuality isn’t something he’s concerned about people knowing. Heck, people around him have critical thoughts of him, but those thoughts never touch on his sexuality.

    It’s like they live in a universe where being gay is 100% accepted. Of course we don’t ever meet any positive gay characters, but I wouldn’t really expect that from a 1965 novel.

    The upshot is that I’ve had no problem reading it on those grounds, and that surprised me. I can quibble about other things in the book, but on the whole, forty-five years after I first read it, it’s still a 5-star story.

  26. Mark Leeper has announced, in his weekly online MT Void, that his recent bouts of mental and physical difficulty are due to onset of Parkinson’s Disease, which he notes is incurable and progressive.

    Mark’s ongoing industry and inventiveness in pubbing his ish (along with Evelyn Leeper) are impressive as hell, and I read his zine every week for enjoyment. My heart goes out to the Leepers, and a small voice at the back of my head is saying, “Oh, please don’t let that happen to me!”

    For the present, he’s keeping at it.

  27. Meanwhile, I can’t find the link I left to the FBI file of William M. Gaines, but I fear I may have inadvertently linked to another William Gaines whose area of specialty seems to be rigged bingo games in Indiana.

    This one goes to the right place. Many pages of talk about evil comics, subversive war comics, and even Little Annie Fanny, which has zilch to do with Gaines.

    Ooh, this guy’s dangerous!

  28. @Greg: Herbert on sexuality in general is often weird and awkward (I think his focus on “sexy witches with special sex powers [over straight men of course]” is the worst thing about the later part of the series) but it’s true that in the Dune books, no one really seems to give a crap about anyone else’s private life in any regard, although all marriages are hetero. There’s also at least one casual mention of bisexuality that I can think of: Fenring, who’s not a very nice guy, but still pretty well respected and IIRC that aspect of his history is considered unremarkable by the other characters. Given the social stratum of most of the characters, it may be more like “aristocrats have the privilege of doing whatever they like” rather than a statement about acceptance of sexuality in general, but it’s interesting.

    (I don’t know if he already had the Alia possession plot in mind when he first wrote the Baron, but if so, that may have had some effect on the characterization—that is, it might’ve attracted more attention if Alia suddenly started sleeping with lots of women.)

  29. @ Joe H. – good call on Spaced, I recall it as being very genre (I think Simon Pegg’s character worked in a comic store, ng yrnfg hagvy ur jnf sverq sbe pynvzvat gur cerdhry FJ gevybtl qvqa’g rkvfg.) It is Very British. I thought it wasn’t available in the US, but is included in Big River Prime now, apparently. I feel a binge coming on (which as it is a UK series, is about 6 hours total)

    Teller is 71 ( I only know this as I didn’t believe he was 70, he really is a magician)

  30. 11) Okay, I decided to refrain from pointing something out at Whatever when I first saw comments there. But now that it’s happened here, I figured, it’s time to say this and I’ll go there to comment as well.

    It’s not a chimichanga. Chimis are deep-fried in oil, not browned on both sides in a pan. It’s still a burro even if you brown it in a pan. I live in Tucson and chimis are as big here as Sonoran Hot Dogs are.

    And, yes, a candy-marshmallow fluff “burrito” is a crime against nature.

  31. @Mike Glyer:

    Also self-preservation. It’s claimed that the chimi was invented here. If it got out that I failed to protect the orthodoxy, I would have a mob at my door, brandishing torches and golf clubs (AZ has upscaled their peasants, by law).

    I’ll go stand in the corner again.

  32. A list of SF romance films that omits Starman is…an incomplete list.

    I think a lot of people use elipsis (three dots) simply because they don’t quite grasp and/or aren’t comfortable with the em-dash. I actually considered using an em-dash for the first item in my post, but decided that elipsis better conveyed what I wanted–the appearance of pause for thought, as I strove to come up with more diplomatic language than the first words which came to mind. I don’t know how well that came across, but I suspect it would have come across better if people knew how rarely I use three dots.

    But as long as we’re discussing three dots, I can’t help but mention the legendary newspaperman Herb Caen, whose style was self-described as “three-dot journalism”. While I was a big fan of Mr. Caen, I can’t help but think that he may have contributed in a small way to some of the modern misuse.

    And speaking of things grammatical, the idea that “six items or less” is wrong is simply not true, but it’s not true in an interesting way.

    For one thing, unlike many pseudo-rules invented from whole-cloth during the 19th C., often in attempt to Latinize the language, this one was actually recognized as merely a stylistic choice! It wasn’t misidentified as a “rule” until the 20th C!

    For another, it does seem to reflect a real–albeit it far more complex–change happening in the language. “Less” is the older word, by several centuries, so it’s not surprising that it’s not a perfect complement for “fewer”. But “fewer” does seem to have been naturally supplanting some uses of “less”, even before the pseudo-rules inventors got their hands on it. Of course, as a change in progress, the actual rules that native speakers instinctively follow are rather complex and murky–not the simple “less only for non-countables” that some believe, but also not the naive “less for countables or non-countables” that it probably once was. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language devotes three full pages to the complexities of “less”, discussing when it is and isn’t used with countables.

    Facing that, who can blame people for choosing the simple style that some claim is a rule?

    (But it’s still not a rule. You can treat it as one for your own writing, but don’t be a dick and try to “correct” others.)

  33. @ Greg Hullender re: Dune

    That’s an interesting analysis and makes some good points. Is the baron “good representation”? No. But is the world presented in the story homophobic? You make a good argument that it isn’t. I suppose one could consider that a step forward. Or at least an absence of a complete punch in the face.

  34. @Heather Rose Jones
    Someone described the history of the movement during the 80s and 90s as something like paying for each small step forward with another deep drink from the same bitter cup. 1965 was very early to make any kind of step forward–4 years before Stonewall.

    The first SF I remember reading that had anything close to positive gay characters was some of Robert Silverberg’s work. I don’t think he ever had a gay protagonist (maybe if you count “Book of Skulls” [1971] as genre), but there were mentions of homosexuality here and there that weren’t negative. E.g. in “A Time of Changes,” (1971) when the visitor from Earth tells the protagonist he loves him, and, seeing the young man’s reaction, adds, “Not sexually–but would that really be so bad?”

  35. The distinction I make in use between em-dashes and ellipses in fictional dialogue (and in other prose that is representing real-time speech, such as twitter posts), is that an em-dash (when not used for parenthetical comments) represents the interruption of an utterance, but an ellipsis represents a pause or uncompleted thought that’s within the speaker’s control. So an ellipsis in the middle of a sentence (in that type of context) represents reaching for a word, or hesitating about word choice (or even about the desirability of saying anything at all). And an elliipsis at the end of a sentence represents a voluntary trailing off where the speaker decides not to complete the thought for any reason.

    Representing the meta-data about spoken language in a written format is always tricky. But there are genuinely useful purposes for the ellipsis in this regard.

  36. Heather Rose Jones, of course there are. It just seems to me that some people have burned through their quota and show no signs of slowing. Something that’s useful shorthand to a character in fiction can seem affected in day-to-day communication. It’s a tic, like “know what I mean?” or “like” or “y’know” or saying everything like it’s a question.

  37. @Greg Hullender
    The Baron’s homosexuality is clearly used to make him more nasty. Not only is he gay, he’s abusive, and he’s focused on teen-age boys. He’s a nightmare stereotype. (You find Stephen King doing the same thing up to the 1990s, by the way.)
    Greg — Can you mention an example (of Stephen King doing this)? I’m not disputing, I just don’t recall anything that matches this.

  38. Can you mention an example (of Stephen King doing this)?

    There are a couple of instances of gay men in THE STAND — or at least men who do homosexual things, like The Kid, who rapes the Trashcan Man while insisting he’s not gay and threatening to kill him, and one of the Walking Man’s contacts, who the Walking Man torments over it — and they’re presented as warped and evil.

    Black men aren’t treated much better — there are very few black characters present at all, most notably a bunch of half-naked black Army renegades in Boston who murder white men with machetes as a TV show. When I’m rereading the novel, I start mentally assigning roles to be black just to have some variety in my mental picture of the proceedings.

    And peculiarly, there don’t seem to be any Hispanics in east Texas. There don’t seem to be many in New York or LA, either. It’s a big ol’ disaster in a very white world.

    King did start to be more inclusive over time, but it took a while.

  39. bill: Can you mention an example (of Stephen King doing this)?

    Ugh, and there’s a really nasty non-gay gratuitous sexual assault scene by the ostensible “hero” in The Dark Tower’s The Gunslinger with which no one seems to have any problem.

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