Pixel Scroll 2/22/21 Sacred Locomotive Files

(1) VARLEY MEDICAL UPDATE. R. Graeme Cameron relayed a report that John Varley’s heart bypass surgery today was successful.

Spider Robinson just dropped quickly in and out of my Monday fannish zoom meet to inform me that “Herb” John Varley’s heart operation went well, no complications, and they’ll be keeping him for five days to monitor recovery, then let him go home. Spider very relieved. Operation successful.

And according to Andrew Porter, “Varley’s partner Lee Emmett reports that he has successfully undergone a quadruple bypass and is in the ICU; he will be in the hospital for the next five days/”

(2) A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. Mark Lawrence illustrates the limited effectiveness of an endorsement on a bookcover from a bestselling author by showing his own frustrated efforts to get attention from the many people who have already signed up for news about his work: “The Extraordinary Struggle to be Heard”.

…I’m a fairly popular author. People pay MONEY to read my books. Enough so that I can live off the proceeds. You would think this would mean that, when I offer my writing for free, people would jump on it. At least some of them. I’ve sold nearly two million books and must have hundreds of thousands of readers. So how many do you think would try on my recommendation not somebody they’ve never heard of but me: Marky?

On Wattpad I’ve been putting out chapters of a book I started writing called Jacob’s Ladder. I think it’s good. I’ve been alerting the 9,830 people who follow/friend me on Facebook to each chapter as it’s posted. I’ve also been posting about them to the 7,506 members of the Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on Facebook where I’m reasonably popular.

I also have 2,815 followers on Wattpad itself who get alerts when I post the chapters. And I’ve tweeted about each chapter to my 28,600 followers on Twitter. And I’ve blogged on Goodreads about it where I have 48,029 followers.

I posted chapter 5 two days ago and it’s had 21 views (which are not necessarily reads) at least one of which was me.

All of which I throw out there to demonstrate how ridiculously hard it is to be heard and to have that audience act.

Now, new authors, consider how much of an impact the weeks this slow reader spends reading your book will have on your sales when condensed into a line on the cover…

(3) NYRSF READINGS THIS WEEK. Charles Yu will be on The New York Review of Books Readings livestream tomorrow, February 23.

CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including his latest, Interior Chinatown, which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. He has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld, and has also written for shows on FX, AMC, Facebook Watch, and Adult Swim. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, and Harper’s. You can find him on Twitter @charles_yu.

The live event *should* be on https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings and Jim Freund’s timeline, and you *should* (that word again) be able to join on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/JimFreund

(4) YU CREATIVE WRITING AWARD. “Charles Yu establishes prize for young Taiwanese American creative writers” reports TaiwaneseAmerican.org. Submissions may be in any literary genre. Prior to his winning a National Book Award for his literary awork Interior Chinatown, Yu also wrote sff, such as How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010), and served as the Guest Editor for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017.  [Via Locus Online.]

TaiwaneseAmerican.org is pleased to announce the inaugural Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. Created in collaboration with Taiwanese American author Charles Yu, the Prizes are intended to encourage and recognize creative literary work by Taiwanese American high school and college students, and to foster discussion and community around such work.

Submissions may be in any literary genre including fiction, poetry, personal essays or other creative non-fiction. Submissions must be sent via Google Form and must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59PM PT. In order to be eligible, submissions must be from writers of Taiwanese heritage (or writers with other significant connection to Taiwan), or have subject matter otherwise relevant to the Taiwanese or Taiwanese American experience. 

Submissions will be considered in two categories, High School (enrolled in high school as of the deadline) and College (enrolled in community college or as an undergraduate as of the deadline). Winners and finalists will be announced in May 2021. A total of $1500 will be awarded to the winners. In addition, each of the winners and finalists will have their submitted work published online by TaiwaneseAmerican.org and considered for publication in a future edition of Chrysanthemum, and offered the opportunity to participate in an individual mentoring session with one of the judges.

(5) NEBULA CONFERENCE TEASER. The SFWA Blog lists some of the panel program topics being planned for the June event in “2021 Nebula Conference Online Programming Preview”. Two examples are —

Setting Boundaries: A writing career often comes with attention—wanted and unwanted. What kinds of boundaries do you set as an author with your readers, and how do those change throughout your career? Authors across the publishing spectrum discuss how they interact with, acknowledge, and encourage their readers while maintaining personal boundaries.

Writing Speculative Justice:  Many envision a new role and future for the justice system in the United States and across the world—one that is more restorative, more equitable, and more just. As writers build our own worlds, what can and should we be thinking about when it comes to justice? How does our approach to laws, crime, retribution, and restoration impact the rest of our worldbuilding, characters, and plots? How can we craft a more just future?

(6) HOW MUCH ARE THOSE CLICKS IN THE WINDOW? James Pyles (PoweredByRobots) has been doing his darnedest to use the recent kerfuffle to get attention. And he doesn’t much care who that damages.

 …Frankly, the Discon III / Worldcon decision to “uninvite” Weisskopf is looking less and less popular. Of course, I have no idea who Weber, Eggleton, and Gannon are (my understanding of SF/F personalities and their politics is shockingly limited), but on the surface, I can’t see anything awful, horrible, and offensive about their comments (well, maybe some of the language was just a little rough depending on how thin-skinned you are). In fact, they seem pretty reasonable….

Bounding Into Comics, as Doris V. Sutherland observes, belittled Sanford’s coverage, but they couldn’t deny what Jason found in Baen’s Bar.

Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer’s purported explanation of the controversy rapidly deteriorated into gibberish: “Omnibus?”

…Back in the day you’d left right and center views – depending on where you went. His [Jason Sanford’s] ‘expose’ is drivel, out of context, imaginary and generally trivial — in keeping with how he earns his authorly income – but it is seized on as a reason to 1) expel Toni as a GoH from WorldCon (because you know, in omnibus, must chuck her under it – even though any sane definition of the Bar was 99.9999% innocuous by any interpretation. Omnibus see. Even if she had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know – and investigated once she did. Not good enough, Guilty. She turned Jason Sanford into a newt. And she has got a wart… maybe.) 2) The little friends mysteriously and suddenly attack the hosting service and other business connections to demand deplatforming because Baen is ‘hate speech and inciting violence’….

(7) IT’S THEIR RIGHT. Meanwhile, this unexpected announcement was tweeted today by American Conservative Union CPAC 2021. I don’t know who is being banned, either, it’s just a coincidence that’s remarkably timely.

(8) GAMING A ZINE. The Guardian’s Sarah Maria Griffin reviews Zine Maker in “How a game about making zines helped me recapture my creativity in lockdown”.

…Creation games aren’t new; they go way back to the original SimCity and beyond. But in autumn 2019, during a period of intense, life-altering burnout, I came across Nathalie Lawhead’s Electric Zine Maker and it redefined what I thought I knew about play, creation and the art that can emerge from video game interfaces. Zine Maker is a clever, accessible tool in the disguise of a joyful toy. I had become sick from overwork and had resigned myself to transitioning careers, leaving writing fiction entirely to move into a more practical realm. I was convinced that the connection between the part of my brain that makes art and the part that produces joy was fried forever. But this game sparked it again.

… Electric Zine Maker gives us a playful way to design and create real, print zines once more. The software streamlines the creation of a one-page zine: an A4 page folded into an A8 booklet. The tools are simple: text boxes, image pasting, some paint brushes and filters. A folding guide tells you how to turn it from a flat page into a 3D object once you print it off. It’s all laid out in bright, roaring neon, reminiscent of a CD-Rom from the mid-1990s. It feels like a piece of time travel, a return to childhood tinkering in The Simpsons Cartoon Studio in 1996.

(9) GRR REMEMBERS WANDA JUNE. George R.R. Martin paid tribute to the late Wanda June Alexander, whose daughter is almost his neighbor in Santa Fe: “The Amazing Wanda June”.

…Wanda June was a dear dear friend… but more than that, really.   She and Raya have been part of our family, in one sense or another, for decades.  I do not actually recall when and where I first met Wanda.  It was at a con, no doubt, probably in the late 70s or early 80s.   I knew OF Wanda before I actually knew Wanda, however.  She was an East Coast fan when I first began hearing tales of her, from mutual friends.   Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, David Axler, Dave Kogelmen, Joe and Gay Haldeman… all of them were friends of mine, and friends of the legendary Wanda June.   She was one of Parris’s oldest, dearest friends, from the 70s on to this very day. …

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone series wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Wolf Rilla, and written by Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch. The other nominated works were the films Village of The Damned and The Time Machine

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 22, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.) (CE)
  • Born February 22, 1879 – Norman Lindsay.  When a critic said children liked to read about fairies more than about food, NL wrote The Magic Pudding, wherefore we may be grateful.  He was also an artist in watercolour, oils, pencil, etching, bronze, concrete.  A dozen other novels; essays, poetry, memoirs.  Here is a World War I cover for The Bulletin.  Here is Odysseus.  Here is Age of Consent.  Here is Lin Bloomfield’s book about NL’s drawings.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1917 – Reed Crandall.  Early inker for Jack Kirby on Captain America.  Did Blackhawk 1942-1953; Jim Steranko said “where [Chuck] Cuidera made Blackhawk a best-seller, Crandall turned it into a classic, a work of major importance and lasting value”.  Forty interiors and a few covers for us, mostly of E.R. Burroughs.  Here are the Blackhawks fighting a giant robot; here is a more airborne moment.  Here is The Man with a Brain of Gold.  Here is John Carter with the Giant of Mars.  Eisner Hall of Fame.  More here.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1953 – Genny Dazzo, Ph.D., age 68.  Active Los Angeles fan.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31, Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller).  Reliable in local, regional, continental, World conventions; for example, Guest of Honor Liaison at L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon, L.A.con IV the 64th.  Collects teapots.  Member of County Fair Table Setting Competition fandom.  Doctorate in Theoretical Chemistry.  [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 66. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction. (CE) 
  • Born February 22, 1956 Caroline Thompson, 65. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward ScissorhandsThe Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. (CE) 
  • Born February 22, 1965 – Max Frei, age 56.  That age-statement isn’t quite right, because Max Frei was a composite of Svetlana Martynchik (whose birthday I gave) and her husband Igor Steopin (1967-2018) in writing (in Russian) Sir Max’s adventures in the Labyrinths of Echo; a score are available in English.  More here. [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1974 – Michelle Knudsen, age 47.  Six novels (Evil Librarian won a Fleischman Award – two sequels), one shorter story, for us; twoscore other books.  Library Lion was a NY Times Best-Seller.  Julie Andrews on a podcast reads “Marilyn’s Monster” aloud.  Favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance; has been in Iolanthe.  Read aloud at the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll.  Taking boxing lessons.  [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1981 – Ryan James, age 40.  Two novels with his mother Syrie James.  Much else in the games industry.  Only a few decades ago, despite chess, bridge, , it would have been SF for there to be a games industry.  [JH]

(12) SOUNDING OUT A FANCAST. Cora Buhlert visits with tabletop RPG fancast creators in “Fancast Spotlight: Appendix N Book Club”.

… I’m pleased to feature the Appendix N Book Club, a fancast has the mission to read and discuss the books and authors listed in Appendix N of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide with varying guests.

Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jeff Goad and Ngo Vinh-Hoi of the Appendix N Book Club to my blog today:

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

We are a podcast about the literature that inspires our tabletop RPGs. Initially, we only focused on the Appendix N: a list of “inspirational reading” located in the back of the 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Starting with episode 101, we are expanding the scope of the show to include ALL fiction that inspires our gaming. The first half of each episode focuses on the text from a literary perspective and the second half of each episode discussed the text from a gaming perspective….

(13) MUPPET CONTENT WARNING. Sonaiya Kelley’s Los Angeles Times story ”Muppet Show’ now has content disclaimer warning on Disney+” reports Disney has put warning labels on 18 Muppet Show episodes (not every episode). And they’ve blocked two episodes including one with Brooke Shields.

Jim Henson’s classic series “The Muppet Show” began streaming on Disney+ on Friday, but now comes prefaced with an offensive content disclaimer.

“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” the warning reads. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.”

The show, which ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981, features the new content warning on 18 episodes, including those guest-hosted by Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry and Marty Feldman, among others.

Each episode bears the 12-second disclaimer for a different reason, from Cash’s appearance singing in front of a Confederate flag to negative depictions of Native Americans, Middle Easterners and people from other cultures. Additionally, two episodes from the final season, featuring guest stars Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham, are left out entirely.

(14) PATTY CAKE, PATTY CAKE, BAKER STREET. A new Netflix series “THE IRREGULARS Promises Supernatural Spin on SHERLOCK”.

…In the Sherlock Holmes mythology, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are a group of street urchins in the employ of Holmes. They are his eyes and ears in the seedier parts of Jolly Ol’ Londontown. This version, naturally, will focus on that group. It appears they will have more in the vein of the supernatural to deal with. Various adaptations of Doyle’s stories have included a supernatural tinge, we should note, the original stories were always rooted in Victorian-era science. It’s elementary, really….

(15) YOU ARE, BIG HERO SIX. The DisInsider is my number one source for this story: “Exclusive: Big Hero 6 Characters Coming To The MCU”.

We have exclusively learned that certain characters from Big Hero 6 will be making their live-action debut in the MCU.

We’re not sure on who will be coming but we can at least expect Baymax and Hiro.

Some of the projects we heard about were Secret InvasionAgents of Atlas, and Doctor Strange. However, we couldn’t get confirmation.

There’s also no word on if the actors will reprise their roles in regards to live-action appereances.

Big Hero 6 was loosely based on the comic of the same name. The comic was a three-part miniseries written by Scott Lobdell and artist Gus Vasquez. The series went on to be a very popular title, which spawned the animated film and TV series.

(16) FRANSON AWARD. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked the recipient of this year’s Franson Award, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:

It is my privilege and honor to bestow the Franson Award upon our new Treasurer, Kevin Trainor of Tonopah, Nevada. Being N3F Treasurer is a great responsibility. The Treasurer maintains the club financial records without which we would not know who is a member and who has departed. We spent close to a year during which the former Treasurer made clear he wanted to leave, but no member would volunteer to replace him. Can all be grateful to Kevin for volunteering and taking on the Treasurer’s role.

(17) A BIRD OF A DIFFERENT COLOR. “Wildlife Photographer Captures ‘Never Before Seen’ Yellow Penguin” at PetaPixel. Image at the link.

While unloading some safety equipment and food onto Salisbury Plain, Adams noticed an unusual sight he had never seen before: a penguin with bright yellow plumage.

“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before,” the photographer tells Kennedy News. “There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.”

… The penguin’s strange coloring is due to a condition called leucism, which results in a loss of pigmentation.

“This is a leucistic penguin,” Adams says. “Its cells don’t create melanin anymore so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.”

(18) DOCTOR BUNNY. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] A follow-up to the Pixel Scroll of 10/16/20: Artist Will Quinn did this doodle inspired by Paul Hanley‘s designs for one of the forgotten doctors of Doctor Who (Robert Holmes). Daily bunny no.1309 is of a different time. (Does a bunny timelord run around saying “I’m late! I’m late!”?)

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that Transformers is a “feature-length commercial with sort of a story line, because that’s what movies are these days.”  Also, Megan Fox loves Burger King because, hey, it’s a product placement!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Ben Bird Person, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge with an assist from Tom Becker and Paul Weimer.]

93 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/22/21 Sacred Locomotive Files

  1. (1) Good news!

    (11) Happy birthday to Naomi Kritzer – looking forward to more Catnet tales.

    (15) Wow!

  2. (2) A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS.

    I actually do notice blurbs — not what they say, but who they’re written by. Because to me a blurb says “If you enjoy [blurber]’s books, you’ll enjoy this one!”. And if the blurber’s books are what the author or editors consider to be “comparables” (which is the main reason for seeking a blurb from a particular author), it does tell me something about the book.

    I’ve chosen not to read numerous books based on looking at a synopsis, thinking “maybe”, and then looking at who the blurbs are from, and deciding “oh hell no” (and Lawrence would be one of those, just because what he writes is very definitely not my thing).

    I have also on occasion, when there’s a blurb by Kirkus or Publishers Weekly or a similar venue, Googled the review and discovered that it was generally unfavorable, but the author/editor has cherrypicked a snippet that gives exactly the opposite impression. I tend not to give industry review blurbs any weight.

  3. (7) “Meanwhile, this unexpected announcement was tweeted today by American Conservative Union CPAC 2021”

    No relation.

  4. I thought of you and File 770 as soon as I saw the cancellation! Thanks to Twitter, I learn that the bannee is not Donald Trump, but a man called Young Phoenix Pharaoh, who is extremely anti-Semitic. Coincidentally, CPAC noticed this only after an article was written about his (easily available) social media posts.

  5. (6) HOW MUCH ARE THOSE CLICKS IN THE WINDOW?

    Pyles is one of those JAQ sealions who plays at being neutral and objective, but then consistently demonstrates that he’s not.

  6. Madame Hardy: the bannee is… a man called Young Phoenix Pharaoh, who is extremely anti-Semitic.

    It’s funny how when your party openly embraces and celebrates bigots and bigotry, a few undesirables manage to sneak into the tent. 🙄

  7. 1) Good to hear
    2) I’ve learned the hard way that just because I like a particular author, doesn’t mean that I will like the things they recommend.
    11) Naomi Kritzer – So much Cooking was such a perfect story for 2020, I’m surprised I don’t see it everywhere.
    Paul McAuley – I don’t generally like the kind of stories he writes, but I like them when he writes them. Recently read War of the Maps, it’s a thrilling adventure story. It also makes the case which I throughly approve of that it’s not worth making a deal with an evil person because you think they can be useful against a greater threat.

  8. (13) Chris Langham went to prison for child pornography. I don’t know what’s up with Shields.

    An article I read, but don’t have enough context to re-google, listed all the songs that had to be cut. There are still a lot of them. Re-negotiating video rights, man. We’ll never see WKRP In Cincinnati again. There’s at least one Buffy episode (Lovers’ Walk, maybe?) that has had music replaced because they didn’t get enough music rights to put the episode on VHS.

  9. 2) “Eye-heroin”. Now that’s an image that’ll stick with you.

    14) That teaser makes me not want to watch it.

    19) I prefer Lindsay Ellis’s take on “let’s analyze Transformers”, but then she was actually analyzing it rather than making fun of it.

  10. Exhausted. But Her Tiny Majesty, Queen Dora, is eating better now that she’s back on daily subq fluids, rather than the experiment with subq fluids every other day. (Recommended by the vet, in the hopes it would make things easier on both of us, since this looks to be longterm.)

  11. Madame Hardy: I don’t know what’s up with Shields.

    Her episode ended with a performance of “We’re Off To See The Wizard” from The Wizard of Oz, and speculation is that Disney felt as though excising that song took too much away from the episode.

  12. (13) The Brooke Shields episode of the Muppet Show has an Alice in Wonderland theme. None of it looks worth blocking, but who knows. It came out in 1980 when she was 15. Maybe something that was somehow inappropriate for a minor.

    ETA: Fozzie wants to be the Tin Man which leads to the We’re Off to See The Wizard finale. On a similar note, the second Dr. Phibes movie ends with Phibes singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow (which was anachronistic) but whenever I catch it on TV, they just cut it out. Minor compared to a big musical finale.

    If you watch the Saturday Night Live episodes on Peacock (NBC streaming service) many of the musical guests are deleted. I was surprised to see the episodes of Fridays you could stream on tubi have the musical guests, but then not all episodes are available.

    It would be a shame if they never showed the turkey episode of WKRP again.

  13. I’ve learned the hard way that just because I like a particular author, doesn’t mean that I will like the things they recommend.

    Some yes, some no. A blurb from Jeff Vandermeer, for example, I’ve found to be pretty much 100% reliable.

  14. Jack Lint and Madame Hardy: Thanks for the explanation with the Chris Langham Muppets episodes. Madame Hardy, I appreciate the link with the detailed description of the Chris Langham episode.

  15. 11) Mundy: I haven’t read much (maybe any?) of the Jimgrim novels, but I did enjoy Tros of Samothrace, which is at least genre-adjacent historical adventure fiction, and I believe was one of Robert E. Howard’s inspirations.

    13) I don’t know if it’s fair to say they’ve blocked the Brooke Shields episode — it’s not currently available for viewing, but I’m guessing it’s more of a rights/music clearances issue rather than concern over any kind of problematic content. There are a number of other episodes that are missing individual segments, presumably for the same reason.

    The Langham episode, obviously, is an entirely different and much more unfortunate situation.

  16. PhilRM says I’ve learned the hard way that just because I like a particular author, doesn’t mean that I will like the things they recommend.

    Charles de Lint whose fiction I love writes a lovely review column in Fantasy & Science Fiction that I trust a lot as a source of things to read.

  17. Thank you so much for the lovely birthday wishes, but FYI my birthday is April 23rd! Shared with Shakespeare and Shirley Temple. (At least the year is right. For a while, Google was convinced my friend Helene Wecker was 78. We went to college together.)

  18. @Cat Eldridge: Charles de Lint’s review column is excellent. He writes so clearly I can tell exactly why he feels the way he does and whether I would appreciate it the same way. Even if I’m thinking “this is not my cup of tea” I’m happy that it’s de Lint’s cup of tea and his perspective is always interesting.

  19. 11) I’m very fond of The Phoenix and the Mirror but I wasn’t even aware of The Scarlet Fig until I wondered why two books counted as a series and went looking – so thanks! I think most people would agree Avram Davidson was best at short stories, but his novels have a dreamlike quality I enjoy. My own recommendation would be Masters of the Maze, which manages to cram an extraordinary amount of setting, story, and eccentric characters into something the size of a novella. And (for me, anyway) it catches the right balance between his sense of humour and his joy in obscure historical research.

  20. Naomi, you went to college in Northfield too?! I was a year or two ahead of Helene, had mutual friends. I wonder if you & I ever met? It’s a pleasure to find a fellow alum in the wild! (BTW before marriage my surname was Leichter.)

  21. @Tom Becker — Yeah, the secret isn’t necessarily to find a reviewer who has the same tastes as me, but to find a reviewer who expresses themselves well enough that I can tell whether I’d like a book they disliked, or vice versa.

  22. Music rights are presumably why an episode of “The Greatest American Hero” which features “Eve of Destruction” integrally throughout the plot is now shown with generic music instead (even when the characters remark on the song being “Eve of Destruction”).

  23. Unless things have changed since last I checked, there are still versions of WKRP episodes available to watch where the original music has been replaced by other material (much of which sounds like generic filler). It does unfortunately weaken a lot of the episodes (some more than others), but at least you can still hear Les Nessman’s “oh, the humanity!” turkey drop report.

    If the Brooke Shields Muppet Show episode has indeed been withheld by Disney because they couldn’t get music rights to the Wizard of Oz songs (which as I recall do play a big role in that episode), it’s a bit ironic that if it hadn’t been for that last 20-year copyright extension that Disney had pushed, those songs would now be in the public domain (in the US, at least).

  24. I wonder when we will see bloviations of outrage from the usual suspects over CPAC disinviting a speaker.

    Oh wait, we won’t, since their outrage over Worldcon was entirely performative, not based on any real principles, and they are giant hypocrites.

  25. Meredith moment: Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, winner of a Newbury Medal, is available today from the usual suspects for just a mere $1.99. It was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award as well.

  26. (13)

    I’ve long loved the Muppets and I think Jim Henson is brilliant.

    But the Muppet Show was a product of its time – the 1970s – and Henson’s love of old vaudeville routines. Neither of those were particularly enlightened. There’s a lot of cringe in the old shows, from sexist jokes to casual racism.

    I like to think I can face up to the the flaws in beloved old things.

  27. (6) Sigh. But the responses on the Twitter thread are well-informed. 🙂

    (11) And let’s not forget Reed Crandall’s work for EC Comics and Warren Publishing. Check out “The High Cost of Dying and Other Stories” by Reed Crandall (from Fantagraphics) — as long as you don’t mind that the stories are reproduced in black and white.

  28. @John Mark Ockerbloom: “Unless things have changed since last I checked, there are still versions of WKRP episodes available to watch where the original music has been replaced by other material (much of which sounds like generic filler).”

    “There are still versions available” is one heckuva bendy phrase, John. It could cover anything from syndication to YouTube to streaming to DVD.

    In terms of official DVD releases, I know of two. The first was for the first season only and featured a lot of music replacement, due to rights issues. The fan base screamed bloody murder, naturally, and the company never released the second season (or later).

    A few years later, Shout Factory announced a proper complete series release, with as much original music cleared as possible, which turned out to be the vast majority of it. On the pieces they couldn’t clear, they were careful enough with the substitutions that the new music still worked. I believe this even involved a little ADR or otherwise-edited dialogue where the replaced song’s name was used, but I’m not 100% sure on that. (About 90%; I remember seeing that they had to fix some such instances, but I forget precisely how.)

    I can say that I binged the whole series when I received my copy, and I didn’t spot any of the replacements. Part of this is admittedly that I don’t have a phonographic memory for the originally aired versions and wasn’t watching with a music list at hand, but the point is that whatever replacements Shout had to do were done seamlessly enough that I couldn’t just look up and say “that was weird” or “hey, that doesn’t make sense!”

    ETA: I believe the Shout release was later made available as individual seasons, but I have not heard that any content was changed. Just a repackaging of their new masters.

  29. @Peace, you frighten me. I love that show so much in memory; I’d hate to find out that James’s Suck Fairy had visited.

  30. @Madame Hardy,

    It seems different from the Suck Fairy paying a proper visit, to me, but possibly that’s because I loved the show so much as a child.

    The show is still funny, and it’s still good hearted at root. But there are racist caricatures, and uncomfortable bits. Miss Piggy’s and Kermit’s relationship is very problematic, when you look at it. I like to think Jim Henson would have made it differently later.

  31. (14) I like a good Holmes story, and I don’t have an ingrained hatred on different takes on Holmes & Watson, either – Warlock Holmes was, for example, a great deal of fun for a couple of books. The Russian Sherlock Holmes TV series (which is free on Prime in the US, not sure about other places/providers) is another fascinating take I’ve recently stumbled across.
    This new Netflix take, however, fills me with a vague unsettled sense of dread.

  32. Conan Doyle was rather infamously credulous about some aspects of the supernatural. (He even wrote books arguing for the existence of fairies based on photographs whose takers eventually admitted to be faked, and even without those confessions had “fairies” looking a lot like paper cutouts.) But he thankfully kept that out of his Sherlock Holmes stories, which always had down to earth solutions for the mysteries, as far as I recall. I don’t have great expectations for an adaptation that brings the supernatural into that fictional universe.
    .

  33. Here are the missing musical numbers from the Muppets.

    The Brook Shields episode also includes the eating of mushrooms. I don’t know how it was played, but I could easily see that being an issue.

  34. Most of you are probably aware that JPL put Morse code into the tire tracks of the Curiosity rover.

    If you saw the video footage of the Perseverance landing that was released earlier, be aware of similar code hidden in the parachute.

    Link

  35. @bill:

    Here are the missing musical numbers from the Muppets.

    Ooooh! Does that mean that the Vincent Price “You’ve Got a Friend” number is back in? <3 <3 <3

    One of the biggest frustrations about Muppet Show videos is the apparent random removal of song numbers – that much-loved one is missing from our DVD set, and if I had known I would have attempted a transfer from our old VHS set before we gave it away.

    I can understand why they left out the Chris Langham episode. (Yikes!) The only thing I am sad about that is that Flanders and Swann’s “The Gnu Song” is in that episode and it is a fine thing.

    (Although I am relooking at Flanders and Swann’s overall oeuvre because many things that seemed funny when they seemed ironic and distant are far less so now it’s clear how badly people really do think things like that and are willing to act on them. I’m thinking specifically of “A Song of Patriotic Prejudice”, but “The Reluctant Cannibal” is also coming in for its share of side-eye.

    And Stan Freberg’s comedy work has more problems the closer I look.

    Welp. As with many people, there goes my childhood. AND YET I am unwilling to be rude about preserving some sense of its greatness. Much about it WAS awful and badly needs changing and repair.)

    As for the Brooke Shields episode, I don’t know, but possibly the fact that she was a child at the time may have something to do with it?

  36. As I have said elsewhere earlier today (but in slightly different words), some people look to the past and see a tradition that must never be questioned or examined, let alone changed or done away with.

    Other people look to the past and ask how it can be improved upon going forward, such as by making it more inclusive. These are my people.

  37. @Eric R. Franklin: Oooh, thanks for the pointer to that! I’ve already been watching the Russian one from the eighties and quite enjoying it, so it will be interesting to compare it to a modern Russian version.

  38. Tough Pigs (a Muppet fan site) has a detailed writeup of the Disney+ edits

    It mostly boils down to an inability to get music rights.
    With the Brooke Shields episode, “We’re off to see the wizard” is the grande finale, which is hard to edit out.

    I guess I’ll continue holding onto my old Time-Life Muppet Show VHS tapes (which include Brooke Shields and other numbers whose rights since expired)

  39. Over at the printSF subreddit they’ve been calling the current controversy “BaenGhazi.”

    Now that Baen’s Bar has been offline for a week, it seems like the problem of extremist comments must be a lot bigger than the comments called out by Jason Sanford. Those could have been addressed by moderators reasonably quickly.

    Of course, if the Bar isn’t coming back at all there’d be no urgency to fix anything.

  40. rcade: In case anybody cares why I have not reported in the Scroll, let alone adopted, the “BaenGhazi” nickname, that’s because I feel it trivializes the topic.

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