Pixel Scroll 3/10/19 Don’t Go Chasing Waterscrolls – Please Stick To The Pixels And The Clicks You Know

(1) WAYWARD WRITERS. Cat Rambo shares her notes from Kay Kenyon’s class about plotting, “Mapping the Labyrinth”:

(2) OUTSIDE THE THEATER. Abigail Nussbaum convincingly argues that the discussion around Captain Marvel is more significant than the movie.

…Which is really the most important thing you can say about Captain Marvel: this is a movie that is important not because of what happens in it, but because of what happens around it.  The most interesting conversations you can have regarding it all take place in the meta-levels–what does Captain Marvel mean for the MCU, for superhero movies, for pop culture?

…Another example is the way Captain Marvel refigures Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who functions here as Carol’s sidekick on Earth, where she crash-lands after being captured by Skrulls, the enemies of the Kree.  Fury has been a fixture of the MCU since he showed up in the after-credits scene of Iron Man in 2008, and has always cut an imposing figure: a grey eminence, spymaster, and general who suffers no fools and always has plans within plans in his monomaniacal quest to defend the Earth from alien dangers.  The version of Fury we meet in Captain Marvel is much more down to earth–funny, self-deprecating, willing to pause his serious pursuits in order to coo over an adorable cat, and inordinately pleased with himself over minor bits of spycraft, like fooling a fingerprint reader with a bit of tape.

It can be hard to square the Fury in Captain Marvel with the one we’ve known for twelve years in the rest of the MCU, and once again, when looking for solutions, one immediately turns to the metafictional.  My first thought when the film’s credits rolled was “someone told Jackson to just do what he did in The Long Kiss Goodnight“.….

(3) SPEAKING OF THE BIG BUCKS. Forbes’ Scott Mendelson listened to the cash register ring this weekend: “Box Office: ‘Captain Marvel’ Trolled The Trolls With A $455M Global Launch”.

The Brie Larson/Samuel L. Jackson/Reggie the Cat sci-fi adventure opened with $153m in North America this weekend, which is the second-biggest solo superhero non-sequel launch behind Black Panther ($202m in 2018). It’s the third-biggest March opening of all time, sans inflation, behind Batman v Superman ($166m in 2016) and Beauty and the Beast ($174m in 2017).

(4) HEAR IT FROM AN AGENT: Odyssey Workshops interviewed guest lecturer, literary agent Joshua Bilmes:

You founded JABberwocky Literary Agency in 1994, and your agency has grown since, adding several agents and assistants. What are the most common problems in the manuscript submissions you receive?

Make every word count! No excess description. No tossing facial gestures like smiles and smirks onto the page for no good reason. Never stopping to give a three-line description of every character when they come on stage. Quoting two of Bradbury’s 8 Rules:

• Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

• Start as close to the end as possible.

Most writers don’t understand that an agent can only represent a limited number of authors, and that agents specialize in particular types of fiction. Can you discuss how many authors you represent and why you’ve settled on that number? Can you describe the areas that you specialize in and why you’ve chosen those areas?

In an alternate universe, the initial crop of mysteries I sold (my very first sale as an agent was a mystery) would have taken off and the sf/fantasy not done as well! I never consciously set out to be a specialist. I don’t count clients; I have “clients” who haven’t written a book in 20 years, so do I count them? And some I’m working with but haven’t yet sold. I don’t target a particular number of clients. I’d say it’s my ability to get through my reading pile that says if I can take on more or fewer; that’s the pressure valve that says if the apparatus can safely support more.

(5) ODIN’S OPINIONS. The New York Times interviews the actor about American Gods, Seasonn 2: “Ian McShane Puts All His [Expletives] in the Right Place”. Also discusses other projects, including a remake of Hellboy and the sequel to Deadwood.

The series touches on immigration, racism, xenophobia and gun control. Did you have any idea how prescient it would be?

Well, it was very interesting what was happening when we did the first season of “American Gods.” The country has taken a serious lurch to the right, as much as they’d love to say it’s taken a serious lurch to the left. I don’t think America would know a socialist if they fell over him. They think it’s somebody who lives in a garret in Russia and has no telephone and no refrigerator. But that’s due to their lack of education. America’s been dumbed down over the years, which is a shame. It’s wonderful to see Congress now with a rainbow color, if you like, of immigrants and nationalities and people who love this country. They’re talking about it in a different way.

(6) THE PRICE ON THE BOUNTY HUNTER. Popular Mechanic’s article “The Great Star Wars Heist” recalls that in 2017, an uncovered toy theft ruptured the Star Wars collecting community. Two years later, the collectors—and the convicted—are still looking for a way forward.

…After talking with Wise, though, Tann’s doubts reached beyond one Boba Fett. The legitimacy of the dozens of purchases he’d made from Cunningham were at stake. Were those stolen goods, too?

Tann shared a comprehensive list of his purchases with Wise and, sure enough, Wise recognized more collectibles of his. But he noticed something else, too. The large volume of items that Cunningham was selling suggested that he had been stealing from someone else.

And the quality of the collectibles left little doubt as to who it was.

(7) SHEINBERG OBIT. Universal Studios executive Sidney Sheinberg died March 7 reports the New York Times. His career-launching connection with Steven Spielberg proved lucrative for both.

Mr. Sheinberg, who could be as tender as he was prickly, was the one who allowed Mr. Spielberg to make “Jaws,” giving him a budget of $3.5 million (about $17 million in today’s money). A problem-plagued shoot pushed the cost to more than twice as much. But Mr. Sheinberg… continued to support the film, which went on to become the prototype for the wide-release summer blockbuster.

“Sid created me, in a way, and I also re-created Sid, in a way,” Mr. Spielberg was quoted as saying in The New York Times in 1997.

Under Mr. Sheinberg’s watch, Universal released two more hits from Mr. Spielberg, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Jurassic Park”(1993). It was Mr. Sheinberg who handed Mr. Spielberg Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s List,” which the director turned into his masterpiece of the same title. Released in 1993, it won seven Academy Awards, including best picture.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 10, 1891 Sam Jaffe. His first role was in Lost Horizon  as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still  playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script oddly enough. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 10, 1921 Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
  • Born March 10, 1932 Robert Dowdell. He’s best known for his role as Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. After that series, he showed up in genre series such as Max Headroom, Land of the GiantsBuck Rogers in the 25th Century  and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Marvin Kaye, 81. Currently the editor of Weird Tales, he has also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.  The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award.
  • Born March 10, 1958 Sharon Stone, 61. Damn, she’s the same age I am. She’s been in three genre films, her first being Total Recall where she played the ill-fated Lori Quaid. Her next was Sphere where she was cast as Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Halperin, and last was in, errr, Catwoman where she was Laurel Hedare, an assassin. 
  • Born March 10, 1977 Bree Turner, 42. She’s best known for her role as Rosalee on Grimm. She also starred in the pilot episode (“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”) of Masters of Horror. She was in Jekyll + Hyde as Martha Utterson. Confession time: I got through maybe three seasons of Grimm before giving up as it became increasingly silly.

(9) GODSTALK. Nerds of a Feather discusses “6 Books with Catherine Lundoff”:

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to reread?

I’m in the middle of a slow reread of P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series so I can get caught up with the latest volumes in time for the new book to come out later on in 2019. I’ve just finished rereading God Stalk and Dark of the Moon, so Seeker’s Mask is next. It’s been rereleased a few times but this remains my favorite cover. If you are looking for a really splendid high fantasy series with a darker edge, intricate worldbuilding, a complex heroine and fascinating cast of characters, this is one of the best around.

(10) AWARD WORTHY. Camestros Felapton is doing a review series about the Nebula-nominated novelettes. Here are links to three:

(11) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Idris Elba guest hosted Saturday Night Live. His sketches included –

  • “The Impossible Hulk”
  • “Can I Play That/” in which actors are told they can’t play various parts because trolls on Twitter say they can’t.

(12) GONE CRUISIN’. I don’t know what to say… (See second tweet.)

(13) AKA JOHN CLEVE, Here’s a curiosity: a scan of a 7-page andy offutt letter to Bob Gaines from 1977, mostly a history/list of his porn novels, but also about a page of current events about his career at the time.

(14) DENIAL DENIERS. Cody Delistraty, in “John Lanchester’s Future Tells The Truth” on Vulture, profiles British novelist John Lanchester, whose new sf novel THE WALL is an attempt to educate readers about climate change without preaching to them.

…Something else sets Lanchester apart from crossover literary personalities of yore. He has the ability to deflect — and to notice, too, when most people want to look away from the truth. (He has a “deep sympathy” for climate-change deniers.) He knows where to find the most pressing emergencies facing humanity, as he’s proven time and again with his nonfiction. But, crucially, in his fiction, he also knows when and how people tend to avoid the toughest topics. A central goal of his recent novels — which grounds them in cold reality — is to draw attention to what we might otherwise not want to notice: What are the lies that we must tell ourselves? What must we believe in order to cope with the world? Questions that, perhaps unsurprisingly, spring directly from his own life.

(15) GIVE IT A MISS. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertaiment story “How Captain Marvel Avided Controversial Comic-Book Past To Create Empowered Female Ideal,” notes that when Carol Danvers first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1968, she was known as “Ms. Marvel,” but the producers of the Captain Marvel movie threw out these early years as sexist and based the film on a 2012 reboot of the character.

…Danvers first appeared in 1968. Originally known as Ms. Marvel, the character had fought for feminist causes throughout her comic book history, but her depiction by male writers and artists had several problematic elements. The oft-scantily clad Ms. Marvel had a tendency of being objectified or oversexualized; one infamous storyline in 1980 even featured her being raped and impregnated by an intergalactic supervillain….

(16) LEGACY. Neil Gaiman wrote this eulogy after Harlan Ellison passed away last June. It ends:

He left behind a lot of stories. But it seems to me, from the number of people reaching out to me and explaining that he inspired them, that they became writers from reading him or from listening to him on the radio or from seeing him talk (sometimes it feels like 90% of the people who came to see Harlan and Peter David and me talk after 911 at MIT have gone on to become writers) and that his real legacy was of writers and storytellers and people who were changed by his stories.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A clip from The Jack Benny Program with Rod Serling.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ. Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hictchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

38 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/10/19 Don’t Go Chasing Waterscrolls – Please Stick To The Pixels And The Clicks You Know

  1. (8) I loved Kaye’s “The Incredible Umbrella” in which the main character visits Sherlock Holmes universe, a Gilbert and Sullivan universe (with mysterious music appearing whenever a solo, duet or ensemble number is needed), and others. I should read the sequel sometime.

  2. when Carol Danvers first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1968, she was known as “Ms. Marvel,”

    When she debuted in 1968, she was known as “Carol Danvers.”

    When she became a superhero in 1977, she started being called “Ms. Marvel.”

    And they actually kept a lot from the earlier version, including the basis of her origin, at least two of the supporting characters and her years of memory loss, though they played them in different ways.

  3. A few late short-fiction recommendations, for those with a few spots left on their ballots — or just looking for some great pieces to read…

    “Blurred Lives,” by Adam-Troy Castro. Analog, novella.
    This story caught me completely by surprise, in the best of ways. It’s an investigation story, the protagonist badly broken, on the edge of despair, moving forward on sheer doggedness and determination. And the villains are those who wield control through ruthless social conditioning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these ideas portrayed quite like this; it’s startling and powerful.
    Published in Analog, and now available as one of the finalists in the Anlab Readers Choice poll.

    “Crook’s Landing, by Scaffold,” by G.V. Anderson. Nightmare, short story.
    Criminals get a special afterlife, populated entirely by crooks like themselves — and sorted according to how they each met their ends. Anderson’s writing is absolutely fantastic; heartfelt and macabre all rolled together.

    “Meat And Salt And Sparks,” by Rich Larson. Tor.com, short story.
    A quick detective story about a monkey detective. Goes in surprising (and affecting) directions.

    “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer. Uncanny, novelette.
    A ghost story from the point of view of a researcher who studies ghost stories!
    The protagonist is delightful, giving the story a unique, meta-aware voice. Beautiful juxtaposition between ghost stories as a way to cope with death and grieving, vs. the protagonist’s own experiences watching her mother fade away by pieces.
    Also an excellent reminder of what a versatile writer Kritzer is. Honestly, she makes it look easy, while writing stories that are both full of feels and also rock-solid.

  4. Standback: Blurred Lives, by Adam-Troy Castro. Analog (Draiken novella #3 and 2018 Anlab Award finalist). This story caught me completely by surprise, in the best of ways.

    I think the stories in Castro’s Andrea Cort / Draiken series are absolutely fantastic (it’s on my ballot for Best Series Hugo).

    Here are some more for you to read:
    Sleeping Dogs (Draiken novella #1 and 2015 Anlab Award finalist)
    The Soul Behind the Face (Draiken novella #2 and 2016 Anlab Award finalist)
    A Stab of the Knife (Draiken novella #4 and 2018 Anlab Award finalist)
    The Coward’s Option (Andrea Cort novella and 2016 Anlab Award winner)
    Our Human” (Andrea Cort novelette)

    If you do decide to read these, please let me know what you think! 🙂

  5. @JJ : That’s so cool. Great to hear the others are intriguing as well.
    I don’t think I’ll manage many more before the Hugo deadline — but I will definitely read them. And I’ll ping you when I have 🙂

    (EDIT: oh wait, a bunch of the others aren’t 2018! Awesome 🙂

  6. I think we’ve seen this Rod Serling sketch with Jack Benny here before under a different title, but it’s still pretty funny!

  7. Finished Cyteen yesterday, which was great, and (for all you Hollywood producer types out there) would probably make for a pretty easy adaptation into miniseries form given that it mostly takes place in an assortment of offices, laboratories and apartments.

    And started Regenesis, which I never read when it first came out, for whatever reason, and which so far feels less like a sequel than like a direct continuation. This is not a complaint.

  8. Kind of the opposite (inverse? converse? obverse?) of a Meredith Moment, but Subterranean Press just opened preorders for The Sky Done Ripped, the third of Joe Lansdale’s Ned the Seal books (preceded by Zeppelins West and Flaming London).

    To quote from the description:

    Ned and H. G. Wells, returning from correcting wounds in the fabric of time, not to mention a brief trip to an alternate Mars, have rescued two shipwreck survivors, Bongo Bill and Suzie Q. They have saved them from drowning or possibly being killed by alien invaders.
    In the process of jumping from one dimension to another, trying to discover a time path home, they find themselves in an inner world with a stationary sun. It’s a warm world with jungles, rivers, and land-locked seas. It is full of primitive creatures, including dinosaurs, highly intelligent apes, cannibals, strange storms and bad hygiene.

    I read the first two books several years ago and remember enjoying them; I’m glad we’re finally getting #3.

  9. Just finished Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy. A solid urban fantasy/supernatural YA story that doesn’t let angst rule the plot.

  10. @2: Doesn’t Fury have more room to be laid-back because he isn’t the CEO yet? Or is he just not dealing with such a dim board-of-directors as in the current-time films? (Seeing this one tomorrow, when tickets are available.) More commentary:
    * The BBC’s Caryn James says it’s a cookie-cutter movie, “not the woman’s empowerment story the orchestrated hype claims,” (3/5 stars).
    * OTOH, my local critic says it does step up: “Like its title character, ‘Captain Marvel’ gets the job done”:

    … without in the least playing like an agenda-driven blockbuster, “Captain Marvel” posits that female superheroes don’t have time for bullroar and might just be better at taking care of business.

    (3/4 stars). Reports are that it made $455e6 on opening weekend, not as big as Black Panther but well up in the MCU standings.

    @6: I know there are such fanatics; some of them seem to bring joy to other people, but I tiptoe quietly around them as that degree of intensity puts me on edge. At least Cunningham seems to be pulling himself together.

    @8 / @Andrew: I thought “The Incredible Umbrella” tried way too hard. (A fellow G&S fan with an even keener enjoyment of the ridiculous was much less kind.) I liked Masters of Solitude, on which Godwin was lised first; haven’t tried any of his solo novels.

  11. I’ve often wondered why all these heroes and superheroes are “captains”, not lieutenants or majors or colonels. There was, of course, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, who had not yet attained officer rank. Noncom heroes are also quite rare: there’s Sgt Rock of Easy Company and RCMP Sgt Preston of the Yukon, and that’s about it. But then, the most famous superheroes–Superman and Batman–have no military rank.

  12. I’ve often wondered why all these heroes and superheroes are “captains”, not lieutenants or majors or colonels.

    Might be that ‘Captain’ means the person in charge in several different contexts, while the other ranks have slightly more limited meanings, and the higher ones don’t tend to suggest a field commander. ‘Sergeant’ is probably the second most popular because it also tends to be the person in charge on the ground.

  13. James Moar: There was “Colonel Bleep” in the children’s cartoon series — who was an alien. I don’t remember the origin story or why the alien had a rank.

    More to the point, I think “Captain” is perceived as the highest ranking officer who would have an independent command (a special team, or detached.) That’s still a company-grade officer. Ranks above captain (in the infantry) are field-grade officers, who are on staff or command large units and are expected to accomplish missions by managing subordinates.

  14. @Standback
    Thanks for this. “Crook’s Landing, by Scaffold” had completely passed me by and is a great story, that hits several of my sweet spots. It just knocked another story off my Hugo ballot.

  15. Non-‘captain’ military titles in superhero names? I’m sure Kurt will remember more, but off the top of my head:
    Commander Steel
    the Lieutenant Marvels
    Major Victory
    General Glory

  16. Ranks definitely worked in an unfamiliar way in the Shazam organization, since the original Captain Marvel had a subordinate officer called… Captain Marvel Jr.

  17. @Chip Hitchcock: It has been a while since I read it – if I reread it now, I might find it not nearly as good as it was when I was younger.

  18. Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos is the origin comic of Nick Fury, but that was the white version.

  19. I concluded some time ago (after watching a couple of other fen argue about the proper Hebrew for “Captain Future’s Log”) that Captain was more in the naval sense, i.e. the local boss; pace @OGH, I really doubt many readers are sensitive to the differences in responsibility/independence among lieutenant, captain, and major. (I suspect that’s also specific to the US, but don’t know how many heroes created in other countries go by “captain”.) Note that in the Whitman cited by Arkansawyer, the next line makes clear that this is a naval reference.

  20. “Lieutenant” is used in a non-military sense to mean “subordinate” which might lend the wrong tone when used as a hero’s title.

  21. @Cora: So glad you liked!

    Nightmare really has a lot of top-notch material; I’m always sorry I don’t manage to read it consistently (but then, at present, there’s only one magazine I do manage to keep up with…).

  22. Captain, of course, has more meanings than just the military rank. I think “person in charge of a ship” may actually be the older meaning, with the military rank derived from that. And of course there are captains of industry, captains of sports teams, and captains of their own destiny or soul.

    Mar-Vell may actually have been a Captain in the Kree military. Carol Danvers, even in her earliest appearances, was an officer in the USAF, though I haven’t been able to track down her actual rank. But as a pilot, she may have qualified as a captain in the non-rank sense in any case. (Though I don’t believe that’s why she took the title as a superhero.)

    Other superheros called “Captain whatever” are a lot more confusing, but the one that really puzzles me isn’t a superhero at all. Captain Kangaroo was the grandfatherly host of an early and very popular children’s television show in the US, and I have no idea why he was captain! 🙂

  23. On Futurama, in the year 3000, Captain Crunch has been promoted to Admiral (and Archduke Chocula is also available in the cereal aisles).

  24. I think that is sad that Crunch is still only a captain at his seemingly advanced age.

  25. Carol Danvers, even in her earliest appearances, was an officer in the USAF, though I haven’t been able to track down her actual rank.

    When Carol was introduced, she was a NASA Security Chief; I don’t think she was in the USAF any more.

    She’d had a career as a USAF pilot, then gone into USAF Intelligence, then worked for NASA, then had a quickie success in writing to set up her becoming an editor in her 1970s series. When I was writing her, she’d started writing fiction, but I’m not sure anyone after me did anything with that.

    In any case, during her time in the USAF, she reached the rank of Major.

    Then again, Steve Rogers was a PFC.

    I think “Captain” got used so often because it sounds good, it’s only 7 letters long (which is a factor when fitting words into word balloons), and had been a success for Captain Midnight, Captain Easy and other such — it conjures up images of the captain of a ship, the captain of a cavalry unit, a police captain and more. Captains sound like people who get things done. Even villainous captains like Captain Hook combine the rank with a descriptive word and conjure up a memorable man of action.

    Anyway, once Captain Marvel, Captain America, Captain Future and others made their imprint on the world, it became tradition. There have been Majors and Generals and Lieutenants (too many letters!) and the occasional Colonel in the action-hero biz, but often they seem like they’re just not quite as cool as a captain.

    In recent years, there don’t seem to have been many new Captains, so they may be joining the Misters, the Lads, the Kids and the Lasses in the land of “gee, that’s a little dated.” The existing names still resonate, but new Captains feel like they must be using it ironically, somehow.

    But you never know. Pendulums swing.

  26. Kurt Busiek on March 12, 2019 at 10:12 pm said:

    In any case, during her time in the USAF, she reached the rank of Major.

    Huh. I wonder if any of her old friends from the AF days ever tease her about her “demotion” to a mere captain? 😀

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