Pixel Scroll 2/3/17 The Pixel That Rowed The Scroll Ashore

(1) ASIMOV ON THE AIR. BBC Radio 4, as part of their 15 Minute Drama series, will be adapting five of the stories from Asimov’s I, Robot. Original broadcasts will run from February 6-10. As usual, episodes will be available for online listening “shortly after broadcast”.

A couple of clips promoting the series are already online –

Scriptwriter Richard Kurti tells us why Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi stories were so remarkable in their ability to predict the future.

Actor Nick Briggs introduces his characters and tells us what he finds appealing about Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi stories. He also explains why he doesn’t think we should fear a future dominated by robots.

Episode One will be ROBBIE.

The rise of robotics in the 21st century, told through the poignant and mysterious story of enigmatic lawyer, Stevie Byerley. Starring Hermione Norris.

Episode One : ROBBIE As a child, Stevie Byerley is raised by Robbie, a robotic childminder, because her parents are too busy working. The powerful bond she forms with the robot is unbreakable. Their relationship will change the course of Stevie’s life.

Originally written over 60 years ago, Isaac Asimov’s stories are becoming truer with every day that passes. The world that he imagined is now upon us.

(2) BURNT ENDS AND ZOMBIES. In Episode 28 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic he feasts on BBQ with Craig Engler, Co-Creator/Writer/Co-Executive Producer of the hit zombie TV show Z Nation.

Join us as we discuss what life’s like when you’re a professional game player for Nintendo, how running the Syfy Channel’s digital side led to him getting a shot at writing TV movies such as Zombie Apocalypse, why he wrote Weight Hacking, his geek guide to losing weight and getting fit, plus much more, including behind-the-scenes secrets on the past, present, and future of his hit zombie TV show Z Nation.

 

Craig Engler

(3) SHE STABS IT WITH HER STEELY KNIFE. Violette Malan ranks “My Top Five Sword-Fight Movies” at Black Gate.

You don’t have to read many of my posts to know that The Princess Bride is pretty well my favourite movie. And though I love the sword fighting scene between Wesley and Iñigo, and the later one between Iñigo and Count Rugen, they are not actually my favourite sword fighting scenes. In both cases, it’s really the dialogue that makes the scenes memorable. So what movies would I rank above The Princess Bride in sword fighting wonderfulness?

Here they are, in the order in which I thought of them.

The Three Musketeers (1973, directed by Richard Lester)

One of the great things about this movie, along with its sequels The Four Musketeers, and The Return of the Musketeers, is that they all feature the same cast. There are good fight scenes in all the films (Oliver Reed is more impressive in the sequels), but it’s the first one I know the best. I particularly like the fantastic opening sequence, where D’Artagnan’s father teaches him the “secret thrust.” Anything between D’Artagnan (Michael York) and Rochefort (Christopher Lee) is well worth watching. There’s also some terrific ensemble fighting, notably the scene between the four leads and the Cardinals’ Guard in the convent courtyard. It should be noted that Christopher Lee was a fencer IRL as well…

(4) KA-CHING! Mary Rosenblum analyzes “What REALLY Sold in 2016?” at the SFWA Blog.

In 2016, 43% of all traditionally published books were purchased online.  Now, THAT is a reason to break out the champagne!  Why?  Because most readers pay little to no attention to the publisher.  As long as the small press or self published book looks professional and has a professional looking cover,  it’s competitive with books from the ‘bookstore’ publishers.  If your ebook or print book includes those 5 critical elements for success and looks like the other professionally published books out there, readers don’t care who published it.  They’ll look at price.

Aha!  That might just be the reason that self publishing authors sell almost as many ebooks as the traditional publishers. They can usually price their books lower.

But what about print books?

2016 Self Published Print Book Sales

In 2016, 21,800,000 self published print books were sold, mostly published through Create Space.  The average price was $10.34.  Amazon imprints sold another 959,000 copies.

That’s a lot of print book money!

(5) NEW EDITION FROM PENGUIN. Here’s the version of George Orwell’s book for the alternate timeline you’re living in.

(6) COMPLIMENTING SMUGGLERS. Nigel Quinlan writes, “I would like to selfishly draw your attention to the new issue of The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac. It contains a fun Mid-Grade fantasy short story by me, ‘The Gobbleens,’ which is featured on the utterly gorgeous cover.”

I’m happy to give it a mention, in part for the beautiful cover, and in part because I owe them thanks for sending a copy of the first one, which had a great story by Tansy Roberts.

Collecting original short fiction, essays, reviews, and reprints from diverse and powerful voices in speculative fiction, THE BOOK SMUGGLERS’ QUARTERLY ALMANAC is essential for any SFF fan.

IN THIS VOLUME (JANUARY 2017): BECKY CHAMBERS, SHERRI L. SMITH, A.E. ASH, KATHERINE MACLEAN, NIGEL QUINLAN, ZETTA ELLIOTT, ALLIAH/VIC, KATE C. HALL, NICOLE BRINKLEY, ANA GRILO AND THEA JAMES

(7) OCTAVIA BUTLER. Maura McHugh reviews the graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred on Irish national radio, now up as a podcast on this page — “Arena with Sean Rocks, Monday, January 30”

Maura McHugh reviews the sci-fi graphic novel “Kindred” by Octavia E Butler which has been adapted by writer Damien Duffy and artist John Jennings (published by Abrams ComicArts)

(8) BURNING MAN. I09 did a story on the edition of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that was bound is asbestos. John King Tarpinian adds this “Fun Fact” —

Ray had one of his copies with burn marks on it because he would hold a lighter to it to show people it would not burn.

(9) TO THE STARS. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination has released the fourth episode of is podcast Into the Impossible, about “How to Make a Spaceship”.

How do you jumpstart the private spaceflight industry? Passion, commitment, bold risk-taking, some inspiration from Charles Lindbergh, and a little luck. On today’s show, we hear from Peter Diamandis, whose XPRIZE Foundation launched the competition that gave us the first private manned spaceflight–and paved the way for Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and his own Planetary Resources, among others–along with the prize-winning pilot, Brian Binnie, and the writer Julian Guthrie, who chronicled their stories along with those of the other teams from around the world inspired by this unprecedented challenge. Also on this episode: convincing Arthur C. Clarke to buy your college friends dinner and a nearly disastrous incident with a mother-in-law and a cup of coffee.

Be sure to check out Julian Guthrie’s book, How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight, for the rest of the story!

(10) QUOTABLE QUOTE

“The next time you’re abducted, just steal something off the ship.”  — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

(11) TODAY IN THE HISTORY OF THINGS YOU NEVER HEARD OF

  • February 3, 1993:  Dystopian satire Acción Mutante opens in its native Spain.

(12) BIRTHDAY WIZARD

  • Born February 3, 1970  — Warwick Davis

(13) HAZARDOUS DUTY. No OSHA in the Empire? “Why ‘Star Wars’ Hates Handrails: Finally We Know Why People Keep Plummeting to Their Death”.

Ever noticed that most of the locations in the Star Wars universe wouldn’t pass a basic safety inspection? A number of characters plummet to their doom throughout the series, and the risk of accidentally falling on The Death Star or in Cloud City, or even tripping into that floor hatch on the Millennium Falcon, seems incredibly high. A new episode of the official web series The Star Wars Show explains that this was by design: George Lucas was against building guardrails on Star Wars sets.

 

(14) THE OUTFIELDER WHO WOULD BE KING. San Francisco Giants baseball player Hunter Pence posted a great photo of him wearing a Hakuna Matata t-shirt trying to free Excalibur from the Sword in the Stone at Disneyland. He couldn’t do it! The throne rests easy tonight.

(15) COMIC HISTORY LESSON. Atlas Obscura remembers “Marie Duval, the pioneering 19th-Century Cartoonist That History Forgot”.

In the late 1800s, London was swept up in the new craze of visual, satirical journalism. When Judy magazine, a twopenny serio-comic, debuted a red-nosed, lanky schemer named Ally Sloper who represented the poor working class of 19th-century England, it was one of the first recurring characters in comic history.

But credit for that character has long gone to the wrong person. Two people were responsible for Ally Sloper—and one of the creators has only recently been rediscovered by academics and comic fans.

Wearing a shabby stovepipe hat and carrying a rickety umbrella, the iconic and popular cartoon is often credited to Charles H. Ross, a playwright, cartoonist, and eventual editor of Judy. However, Ally Sloper was actually illustrated and developed by two artists: Ross and his wife, actress-turned-cartoonist Marie Duval—who was responsible for the bulk of the Ally Sloper comics.

(16) SPEAK UP. This LEGO Batman Movie promo clip introduces the voice actors behind the characters.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nigel Quinlan, Bruce D. Arthurs, Cat Eldridge, and Martn Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

55 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/3/17 The Pixel That Rowed The Scroll Ashore

  1. (3) I like everything on Ms. Malan’s list, though it really should include Scaramouche, with Stewart Granger. I’d also recommend The Prisoner of Zenda, either with Granger or Ronald Coleman.

  2. @13: I don’t think counting the floor hatch is fair; that’s an emergency repair site, not like going underground in a city street after putting rails, flares, signalers, etc. around it.

    edit: second fifth!

  3. @Kevin Harkness

    I haven’t seen the movie but Scaramouche is arguably Sabatini’s best book. Plus who could forget the opening line:

    Scroll was born with a gift of pixel and a sense that the world was mad.

  4. Orwell is sublime but at least a nod to one of his inspirations:

    The Iron Heel by Jack London

    1984 shows life after the dictatorship had been established. Heel shows it’s rise. The image of a heel smashing a human face forever comes from here. Not my favorite London but worth a read.

  5. @Stoic Cynic: I’ve got to try reading The Iron Heel again one of these days. I’m not sure how far I got before, but I just couldn’t get past the name and characterization of our hero the perfect revolutionary man, Ernest Everhard. It read to me a bit like a socialist (and defeatist) version of Atlas Shrugged

  6. @Eli

    I wouldn’t exactly call it defeatist – one thing socialism has is a willingness to take the historical view – but that’s not a bad description otherwise. Still an interesting book, though, even if I don’t feel much need to re-read it.

  7. Good morning.

    The 1970s Musketeers movies are a delight on many levels.

    Unexpectedly really enjoyed Libre by S. H. Jucha. Second of the Silver Ships books. Won’t be on any nomination lists, but fun. My version of Nutty Nuggets, though others might not agree.

  8. (4) KA-CHING! I’d treat the idea of that many books being sold via CreateSpace as untrue for two reasons ) ut’s owned by Amazon and many of the products here are available free by Amazon via their all you can read literary offerings, and 2) it’s not just novels as I know a number of authors that use it as a platform to republish their back catalog of stories.

    Oh and almost all readers in traditional bookstores pay no attention to the publisher. I don’t think there’s ever a time in the past century or more that the publisher was something that buyers cared about or noticed.

  9. almost all readers in traditional bookstores pay no attention to the publisher

    I have little doubt that is true, but I’ve surprised myself that as I’ve gotten older, I do pay attention. Part of it is that I study something (comparative philosophy) where there are a lot of bad books so I take who published it as a sign of the book’s quality. Part of it is I’ve discovered some presses, particularly New York Review Books and Archipelago Books, I really like.

    Have others found that to be the case?

  10. (3) The Duellists or go home.

    (Always have to check about that second L)

    I’d pick The Four Musketeers over The Three Musketeers. Three is more fun, but Four has the better sword fights and breakfast at La Rochelle.

  11. Wouldn’t readers of romance novels pay attention to the publishers? I’ve never actually read one, but the people I’ve known who were fans were very up on the publishers and their various imprints.

  12. The big exception is books that are used in a class. Students care a great deal which edition of Huckleberry Finn they get because otherwise they won’t be on the same page as the professor.

    I was surprised to learn that Amazon actually allows people to return a book because the cover didn’t match the cover image. I thought it was against the law to judge a book by its cover. 🙂

  13. Had reached the climax of Cibola Burn on the way home Friday, which had me enthralled enough I missed my stop and had to get off at the next station. Was lucky the next train back was only ten minutes. Which let me get through another chapter.

    Quickly running out of Expanse books, should probably read something else for a break.

  14. There was a bookshop in my home city when I was young which shelved books by publisher. Which was, of course, terribly frustrating, since knowing the title and author didn’t enable you to find them.

  15. In my freshman year in college I bought some books for an English class from my roommate who had taken the course the previous semester. Instead of buying the books at the start of the semester, he had waited until the class was going to read the book. Since our school’s bookstore was out of some of the books, he had gone to another school’s bookstore to buy them which turned out to be different editions.

    Never try to keep up with what’s happening in Bleak House when your book’s pages don’t match up with that of the rest of the class.

    When Barnes and Noble first opened in the area, they had all of their Penguin fiction together on one bookcase. They had an offer where if you bought a certain number, you got a nifty Penguin tote bag.

  16. I’d pick The Four Musketeers over The Three Musketeers. Three is more fun, but Four has the better sword fights and breakfast at La Rochelle.

    I always just think of them as one long film, split across two DVDs. I never watch only one of them without watching the others. (And I think it’s time to watch them again.)

  17. @IanP: Well, there are the Expanse short stories and novellas too. You’ll still run out eventually, but they’re worth reading (kind of uneven, but that just means that if you don’t like the style of one of them, the next one will probably be different).

  18. Greg Hullander
    Your remark about students reminds me of a cartoon in which a professor is holding a copy of The Black Arrow, and saying, “Students, please turn to page 178 in your books—that’s page 15 for you, Mr. [obvious football player who is holding the “Classics Illustrated” version].”

    Michael, Scroll your Boat Ashore, File-alleuia!

  19. The major context in which I bookshop by publisher is at the medieval studies congress in Kalamazoo. Of course, in that context the publishers have individual booths, but the point is that I have a fairly rigid priority list of which ones I spend time in, based on expected payoff. (#1 Oxbow Books, #2 Palgrave, #3…)

  20. I’m not sure that I’ve ever discriminated amongst publishers to any significant extent, but I’ve always been aware, at least, of the names of various imprints (I recall the deep feeling of existential dread that washed over me when Panther transitioned to Granada, is this the end of overblown space opera as we know it????). Some of those little logos and design elements sort of sink into your subconscious and become significant in their own right. I’m sure a lot of people my age will have a Pavlovian “yeah! fun SF time!” response to particular shades of horrid yellow on a book’s spine – think DAW if American, Gollancz if British….

  21. Re Three and Four Musketeers

    Well, they were filmed as one film, and split afterwards:

    During production on The Three Musketeers, the producers realized that the project was so lengthy that they would not be able to complete it as initially intended — as a roadshow epic with intermission — and still achieve their announced release date. The decision was therefore made to split the project into two films, and thus the two halves were released as The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers some six months apart. Most of the actors were incensed that their work on the long shoot was used to make an entirely separate film, while they were only being paid for the work of one. Lawsuits were filed on behalf of those contributing to the film to gain the salaries and benefits associated with a second film that was not mentioned in the original contracts. All SAG actors’ contracts now have what is known as the “Salkind clause”, which stipulates how many films are being made.[2][3]

    That’s why that “let’s recap the previous film with a voice over” opening to the Four Musketeers just feels so awkward to me, I think.

  22. Jack Lint said: Wouldn’t readers of romance novels pay attention to the publishers? I’ve never actually read one, but the people I’ve known who were fans were very up on the publishers and their various imprints.

    Sure but that’s fairly unusual as most publishers have lots of imprints that they change, merge and defunct on an ongoing basis. Anybody here remember the YA imprint called Phoenix Books which was under the editorship of Sharyn November who was called the punk goddess of young adult literature by no less than Jane Yolen? Well it and Sharyn didn’t survive the merger of Penguin Books and Random House, but Penguin Random House still has a robust childrens and YA catalog.

    Hell Tor Books has had Forge, Starscape, Tor Teen, Orb and now Tor.com.Their website doesn’t have list Tor.com, just Tor and Forge.

  23. Wasn’t that Firebird Books, rather than Phoenix? I remember they had two original anthologies called Firebirds Rising. They reprinted Pamela Dean’s Secret Country trilogy and never did manage to put out the sequel.

  24. I generally don’t pay much attention to publisher in a bookshop, although I suppose I will get cues from cover design etc.

    I do make a point of following tor.com ebook releases as sometimes I want to read something which is novella length instead of committing to a hefty series.

    In Turkey, I am a fan of ?thaki Publishing as they have an approach to SF which is basically in line with my interests. They seem to have a policy of acquiring an even mix of old classics (Bester, Asimov, Clarke), cult favourites (Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms) and more recent Hugo-friendly releases (Leckie).

  25. I started buying DAW paperbacks just as they were moving from all-yellow-all-the-time to having spines of different (solid) colors. To this day it bothers me that my copy of Mad God’s Amulet (Moorcock’s Hawkmoon v.2) is blue while the other three are yellow.

    (3) To repeat my comment from the original Black Gate post, one of my favorite swashbucklers (with some epic fencing scenes) is the 1997 French film On Guard (a.k.a. Le Bossu).

  26. Wasn’t that Firebird Books, rather than Phoenix? I remember they had two original anthologies called Firebirds Rising.

    They did FIREBIRDS, FIREBIRDS RISING and FIREBIRDS SOARING.

  27. I mostly buy ebooks, and I’m definitely aware of the US SFF imprints: Tor, Saga, Orbit, etc.

  28. @Shao Ping: I pretty much always pick up NYRB books for a look, partly because there are so many that I’ve liked, and partly just to admire the cover design. (Katy Homans, who as far as I can tell designs all of them, is a genius.) The same goes for Editions Europa and NDP. For SFF, I am favorably disposed towards Orbit, Saga and a lot of the small presses such as Small Beer and Prime.

  29. @Cat Eldridge: I do not claim to be typical, but I certainly will (e.g.) give more slack to a less-than-perfectly-interesting blurb on a Tor book, and less on a Baen book, because I feel I know the operating principles of the editors working under those imprints. I have also read that romances have significant numbers of imprints that readers can pick up knowing (e.g.) just how vivid the sex scenes (if any) will be.

  30. @Eli

    Yeah, I’ll look into the shorts in the Expanse series. I’ve always quite liked things like that that fill in more of the detail in a setting, especially Reynolds’ Galactic North and Hamilton’s A Second Chance of Eden collections for the Revelation Space and Nights Dawn series respectively.

  31. Chip Hitchcock responses to me: I do not claim to be typical, but I certainly will (e.g.) give more slack to a less-than-perfectly-interesting blurb on a Tor book, and less on a Baen book, because I feel I know the operating principles of the editors working under those imprints. I have also read that romances have significant numbers of imprints that readers can pick up knowing (e.g.) just how vivid the sex scenes (if any) will be.

    I as well but like romance or murder mystery readers who do the same, I still hold by my contention that almost all general book readers don’t look or notice the specific imprint as that’s usually what’s on the spine. Take the case of Stross and his Merchant Princes Series which had six on Ace, those reprinted in a substantially revised form by Tor UK and the newest by Tor Books. The only folks who’d likely know that there were three publishers are those who read his blog.

  32. If I’m browsing at a used book store I’ll always look at a book put out by Penguin, because I associate them with Cool Old Stuff. Beyond that I’m more interested in the cover art and the author.

  33. There are a few publishers whose stuff I will actively look for at cons. Broken Eye Books here in Seattle is one, because every book I’ve read by them wowed me. (I highly recommend Richard Pett’s Crooked to anyone who likes Lovecraft, steampunk, and VanderMeer’s Ambergris).

  34. I’ll second DAW as a publisher I actually noticed. Back in the yellow spine days I was more likely to give them a look when browsing the bookstore.

    In non-fiction: Penguin Classics, Everyman , and Loeb stand out as well. For all four, figure distinctive spines or dust jackets and consistently good quality (or, at least, qualities matching my taste).

    Outside those though I generally won’t notice the publisher when browsing and likely couldn’t tell you the publisher even after reading the book.

  35. @Cat Eldridge: You are mistaken. All of the Merchant Princes books have always had their US publication from Tor. (Tor UK is a separate company, of course.) None of them have ever been from Ace.

  36. David Goldfarb said to me that You are mistaken. All of the Merchant Princes books have always had their US publication from Tor. (Tor UK is a separate company, of course.) None of them have ever been from Ace.

    You’re right, I was mistaken as I was thinking of his Laundry books which moved from another publisher to Tor. Which actually makes the story of the asundering of the original three novels even curiouser as he made it clear on his blog how unhappy he was when it was done. He might learned his lesson as the first volume of the new trilogy is roughly half the length of the six hundred pages of the first volume of the previous trilogy…

  37. IanP: Yeah, I’ll look into the shorts in the Expanse series. I’ve always quite liked things like that that fill in more of the detail in a setting.

    I enjoy getting more details, too. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has published a lot of shorter fiction which does that in her Retrieval Artist universe. I haven’t read any of The Expanse novellas yet, but I may get to them at some point. I just finished Babylon’s Ashes, and I think messrs. Abraham and Franck have gotten better as they went along.

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