Pixel Scroll 3/21/19 I’ll File You, My Pixel, And Your Little Scroll Too!

(1) MCINTYRE. Followers of CaringBridge learned today that Vonda N. McIntyre has finished work on her book. Jane Hawkins announced:

Vonda has finished Curve of the World!  Be ready for a great read in a while! (No clue about publication date or anything like that.)

(2) PEAK OF THEIR CAREERS. Congratulations to Jason Heller (interviewed about his shortlisted book by File 770 in February), Alex Acks, and others whose work of genre interest made the finals of the 2019 Colorado Book Awards. Winners will be announced May 18. (Via Locus Online.)

Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures, Alex Acks (Queen of Swords)
  • While Gods Sleep, L.D. Colter (Tam Lin)
  • Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars, Warren Hammond & Joshua Viola (Hex)

General Nonfiction

  • Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded, Jason Heller (Melville House)

Juvenile Literature

  • The Lighthouse Between the Worlds, Melanie Crowder (Atheneum BFYR)
  • Del Toro Moon, Darby Karchut (Owl Hollow)
  • Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, Jeff Seymour (Putnam)

(3) MARGINALIZED VOICES IN YA. Neither the headline on Katy Waldman’s New Yorker article, “In Y.A., Where Is the Line Between Criticism and Cancel Culture?”, nor the subhead, “When it comes to young-adult novels, what, precisely, is the difference between the marketplace of ideas and a Twitter mob?”, genuinely reflects her approach to the topic she discusses, however, they’re enough to help you decide whether you’d like to dive into the information she’s assembled.

…[A] disparaging Goodreads review, which took issue with Jackson’s treatment of the war and his portrayal of Muslims, had a snowball effect, particularly on Twitter. Eventually, Jackson tweeted a letter of apology to “the Book Community,” stating, “I failed to fully understand the people and the conflict that I set around my characters. I have done a disservice to the history and to the people who suffered.”

The Jackson fracas came just weeks after another début Y.A. author, Amélie Wen Zhao, pulled her novel before it was published, also due to excoriating criticisms of it on Twitter and Goodreads….

(4) DREAMING ABOUT THE DISNEY/FOX MERGER. Firefly fan and artist Luisa Salazar has created new Disney Princess images for Zoe Washburne, Inara Serra, Kaylee Frye, and River Tam.

(5) TWO RUSCH BOOKS IN NEW BUNDLE. “The 2019 Truly Epic Fantasy Bundle”, curated by Kevin J. Anderson, is available for a short time from StoryBundle.

Epic Fantasy is a genre that stretches the boundaries of the quest. Whether a triumph of good vs. evil, or a search for meaning or truth, these stories take readers to a new place.

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Thought Gazer by Raymond Bolton
  • MythWorld by James A. Owen
  • Rider’s Revenge Trilogy Book 1: Rider’s Revenge by Alessandra Clarke
  • The Fey Book 1: The Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Set in Stone by Frank Morin

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus TEN more!

  • Shadow Blade by Chris Barili
  • The Taste of Different Dimensions by Alan Dean Foster
  • The Whisper Prince Book 1: Fairmist by Todd Fahnestock
  • The Fey Book 2: The Changeling by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The First DragonRider by Kevin McLaughlin
  • Accidental Thief by C.J. Davis and Jamie Davis
  • Viridian Gate Online: Side Quests by James A. Hunter, D.J. Bodden, N.H. Paxton & More
  • Half-Bloods Rising by J.T. Williams
  • Nova Dragon – Book One of the Goblin Star by Gama Ray Martinez
  • The Dragon’s Call Book 1: Dragon Sword by Angelique Anderson and Craig A. Price, Jr.

(6) AT THE CORE. The current Nature reports on “X-ray chimneys in the Galactic Centre”. Fermi gets mentioned, no sign of Santa, though.

X-ray observations of the Galactic Centre have uncovered chimney-like structures filled with hot plasma. The discovery might reveal how energy is transported from this central region to far-off locations….

The centre of our Galaxy hosts a supermassive black hole that currently emits electromagnetic radiation extremely weakly, but could have been much more active in the past. Observations of ?-rays have revealed two huge structures known as Fermi bubbles located above and below the Galactic plane1 . These bubbles are filled with highly energetic particles moving at close to the speed of light, which were released from the Galactic Centre a few million years ago. 

(7) TIE-INS. International Association of Media Tie-In Writers President Jonathan Maberry interviews “Pirate King” Chris A. Jackson.

What are you writing now? 

Actually, my latest tie-in gig came right through IAMTW! Thanks, guys! One of our members is not only a tie-in writer himself, but is an editor for Mongoose Publishing, a British game publisher. They’re doing a reboot of the great old SF RPG, Traveller, and the editor, Matthew Sprange, asked the group for anyone familiar with the game who was interested in writing a short story tie-in. I played Traveller a lot back in my college days, and jumped at the chance. I’ve since written four stories for Mongoose and I’m delighted with the experience!

What’s your fan experience been like?

Mixed, but primarily positive. We all get those one-star reviews, right? A few stand out, however, and they are curiously all of the same theme: men who don’t like romance in their fiction. Mostly, I just eye-roll these and let them go. You don’t like romantic elements in your fiction, don’t read mine, but don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong. For the most part, the fan response has been great, and the feedback from my publishers has been wonderful. You know you’re doing your job right when people come up to you at conventions begging for your next novel, and publishers actually solicit you for work without prompting. That, above all else, speaks for itself.

(8) HANRAHAN OBIT. The International Costumers Guild reports Jamie Hanrahan died March 20. He was an early member of S.T.A.R. San Diego, and his other fanac included a term as co-editor of PyroTechnics, “The Now and Then Newsletter of General Technics.” His son Chuck wrote, “There was some kind of cardiac event and despite all heroic attempts, they were unable to restore a cardiac rhythm.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1902 Gustav Fröhlich. Not widely known before landing the role of Freder Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Though my German be rusty, I see no indication that anything else he did was genre in nature. (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 21, 1936 Margaret Mahy. New Zealand author of over a hundred children’s and YA books, some with a strong supernatural bent. She won the Carnegie Medal twice for two of her fantasy novels, The Haunting and for The Changeover, something only seven authors have done in total. (Died 2012,)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 73. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and License to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now!  He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the Time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials.
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 63. She is a consulting editor for Tor and is best known for Making Light, ablog she shares with her husband Patrick. You can blame them for the Puppy target John Scalzi. And she is also one of the regular instructors for the writing workshop Viable Paradise.
  • Born March 21, 1958 Gary Oldman, 61. First genre film role was as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Next up is the lead role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And, of course, he was Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg In Fifth Element followed by being Lost in Space‘s Dr. Zachary Smith which in turn led to Harry Potter’s Sirius Black and that begat James Gordon in the Batman films. Although some reviewers give him accolades for us as role as Dr. Dennett Norton in the insipid Robocop remake, I will not. Having not seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I can’t say how he is as Dreyfus in it.
  • Born March 21, 1962 Matthew Broderick, 57. Very long, so let’s get started… He started off in WarGames but appeared over the years in LadyhawkeProject XThe Lion King franchise (surely talking lions are genre, aren’t they?), Infinity (anything about Richard Feynman is genre), GodzillaInspector Gadget, the remake of The Stepford WivesThe Tale of Despereaux and Adventure Time.
  • Born March 21, 1966 Michael Carroll, 53. He also writes Judge Dreddfor 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine. He has other genre work such as the New Heroes series (known in the States as the Quantum Prophecy series) and the Pelicos Trilogy which is part noir mystery and part end of all things human as well.
  • Born March 21, 1985 Sonequa Martin-Green, 34. She currently plays Michael Burnham on Discovery. She had a brief recurring role as Tamara in Once Upon a Time and a much longer recurring role on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams but I’ve never seen her there as zombies hold no interest to me. Well Solomon Grundy does…  and she was in the Shockwave, Darkside film.
  • Born March 21, 1986 Scott Eastwood, 33. Deputy Carl Hartman in Texas Chainsaw 3D (truly horrid idea that) Lieutenant GQ Edwards in Suicide Squad and Nathan Lambert in Pacific Rim: Uprising.

(10) NAME THAT MOON. Gently thieved from John Scalzi’s Twitter feed (like so many good things are), Phil Plait’s tweet leads us to his post on SYFY Wire “Contest: Pick names for Jupiter’s new moons!”

We already have wonderful names for some of Jupiter’s moons, like Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto (the four Galilean moons), Amalthea, Metis, Adrastea, Themisto, Carpo (also the little-known sixth Marx brother), Himalia, Leda… well, you get the picture. There are dozens more.

Now that these newly discovered moons have been confirmed it’s time to name them. In general, the discoverer can suggest names to the International Astronomical Union (or IAU), the keeper of rules and lists of names. They’ll mull things over and decide if the names are up to snuff.

Faced with this, Sheppard and his team have decided to do something fun: Hold a contest where you, Earthling, can suggest names for these tiny worlds*!

All you have to do is submit your suggestions to the team by simply tweeting them to the handle @JupiterLunacy (ha!) on Twitter, either as a text tweet or as a short video, and adding the hashtag #NameJupitersMoons. Cool!

(11) GIVING WRITER’S BLOCK A NEW MEANING. Also tweeted by Scalzi — he’s discovered a use for the toxic waste social media miscreants aim at GRRM:

(12) YMMV. David Doering has a point: “Saw the announcement of a Funko Stan Lee doll on Amazon to be released in April. What made me curious is the delivery options: I do not think the word ‘Expedited’ means what you think it does…”

(13) BARRIE AWARD. Philip Pullman has won the J.M. Barrie lifetime achievement award. The Guardian has the story —

Author of His Dark Materials acclaimed as ‘a magical spinner of yarns’ who appeals to all ages – especially children

(14) SLEUTH. BookRiot has a neat quiz called “Which kickass literary investigator are you?”

(15) TOUGH NEIGHBORHOODS. At Crimereads, Adam Abramowitz discusses how gentrification threatens crime and noir fiction set in big cities, because the dodgy neighborhoods where those stories are set are rapidly vanishing: “Noir in the Era of Gentrification”.

On the New York end, the bus route would take us through the Bronx, the borough announcing itself unfailingly with the calling card of a vehicle sitting squarely on its rims, hard by the side of the highway, engulfed in flames—welcome to the Bronx! Similarly, the arrival at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street and 8th Avenue brought its own thrills. After all, it was a place described in a 1970 New York Times where “two types of people could be found inside, some are waiting for buses. Others are waiting for death.” Though they left out the pimps waiting for those starry-eyed ingénues from Middle America, those corn-fed easy marks, sad scripts in waiting.

 (16) EUROPE REBUILT. Cora Buhlert’s latest article Galactic Journey is about postwar architecture: “[March 21, 1964] Building the City of the Future upon Ruins: A Look at Postwar Architecture in Germany, Europe and the World”.

…One of my favourite new buildings in my hometown Bremen is the Stadthalle, a multi-purpose arena for exhibitions, sports events and concerts. Designed by Roland Rainer and completed only this year, the Stadthalle is notable by the six concrete struts which jut out of the front of the building and hold both the stands as well as the roof in a design reminiscent of tents and sailing ships.

For the Kongresshalle conference centre in Berlin, built for the Interbau exhibition of 1957, American architect Hugh Stubbins designed a spectacular hyperbolic paraboloid saddle roof, inspired by the Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. The people of Berlin quickly nicknamed the organic structure the “pregnant oyster”.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “How to Write Descriptively” on YouTube, Nalo Hopkinson, in a TedEd talk from 2015, uses the work of Kelly Link, Cornelia Funke, and Tobias Buckell to provide samples of how to write imaginatively.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, JJ, Frank Catalano, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/21/19 I’ll File You, My Pixel, And Your Little Scroll Too!

  1. For my money, Timothy Dalton’s greatest genre role was as Prince Barin in the 1980 Flash Gordon.

    That tree stump monster scene still squicks me out.

  2. @Kip – She’s several years younger than me. I wish her many years of happy to come!

  3. (3) MARGINALIZED VOICES IN YA.

    So an author who is black and queer, and tweets that women shouldn’t “profit” from writing gay men’s stories, decided that it was okay for himself to profit from a story about two Americans for which the setting is the Kosovo War, which involved Serbs, Albanians, and Montenegrans.

    Ohhhhhhhkay.

    I’m not disputing his right to tell such a story, just his hypocrisy in doing so — as well as his lack of good sense in thinking that a romance of two Americans in that setting would go over well with the people for whom that war was more than just a distant event on the other side of the world.

  4. I just finished reading Raven’s Tower and now I’m depressed. Especially given the positive endings of her previous books, I wasn’t prepared for this.

  5. bookworm1398: I just finished reading Raven’s Tower and now I’m depressed. Especially given the positive endings of her previous books, I wasn’t prepared for this.

    I thought that it was a very good novel, really skilfully-written. I admire the craft in it, but I did not love it. I had also figured out a fair bit of the ending’s revelations well before the end, which possibly diminished some of its effect for me. It’s more than a bit dark, but it’s terribly interesting, and I do recommend reading it.

    But yes, it made me want to go read the Ancillary trilogy again, to clear my palate.

  6. 3) What stuns me about the Kosoko Jackson case is that absolutely no one seemed to realise a romance about two Americans that uses the Kosovo War, an actual bloody conflict that took place only 20 years ago and is still an open wound for those affected by it, might be a tad problematic. I also wonder why no one even thought to ask a Kosovan person to take a look at the book. After all, there have to be some Kosovans in the US, when I could easily find ten Kosovan immigrants in my not very big neighbourhood.

    9) Gustav Fröhlich did at least one other genre film, the 1948 movie Das verlorene Gesicht (literally, “The Lost Face”, though the US title was Secrets of the Soul for some reason), in which an amnesiac supposedly Tibetan woman is found wandering the streets of post-WWII Germany. She is taken in by a kindly doctor, taught German and falls in love with a young lawyer. They’re about to marry, but for some reason the husband-to-be wants to cast a face mask of his bride first. Once the cast comes off, the woman’s facial features have changed, she no longer appears to be Asian and she suddenly remembers who she is. She also doesn’t recognise her husband-to-be and turns out to be already engaged to someone else, namely Gustav Fröhlich. The cause for the woman’s strange condition is… drumroll… hypnosis. The guy she almost married while hypnotised tries to use hypnosis to win her back, since consent apparently doesn’t matter at all, and fails.

    The film is just as bonkers as it sounds, even though it was made Kurt Hoffmann, who is a very good director. Supposedly, it’s based on the true story of a faux Tibetan amnesiac which happened in the 1920s in Stuttgart. Apparently, there have also been other faux Tibetan amnesiacs found in Europe in the first half of the 20th century, so apprently this was a thing back then.

    And that’s it for today’s really, really weird old movie.

  7. Joe H: Thanks for the FLASH GORDON link. Timothy Dalton has a great voice. In fact, there was a lot of good acting in that very crappy film.

  8. bookworm1398: I just finished reading Raven’s Tower and now I’m depressed. Especially given the positive endings of her previous books, I wasn’t prepared for this.

    Well, it was modelled on a well known text, so the ending certainly wasn’t unexpected.

  9. Lfex: Well, it was modelled on a well known text, so the ending certainly wasn’t unexpected.

    It borrowed some elements, but I wouldn’t say it was modelled on that text. And to me, those elements weren’t the depressing part.

  10. Martin Wooster on March 21, 2019 at 9:03 pm said:

    Joe H: Thanks for the FLASH GORDON link. Timothy Dalton has a great voice. In fact, there was a lot of good acting in that very crappy film.

    very crappy but glorious film

  11. “Which kickass literary investigator are you?”

    I think the word “kickass” pretty much excludes all possibilities for me. 🙂

  12. Luiza Salazar ??????
    @lusalazar
    Realized I have never gone back to draw the Firefly girls. Whedon is a master of creating amazing female characters

    Growl. And the talented female actors have nothing to do with the those amazing female characters? What a bloody stupid statement. They are the ones who actually make those characters come alive for the viiewers, not Whedon.

  13. “Pixelon File was dream given Scroll. It’s goal, to prevent another war by providing a place where humasn and aliens could comment out their differences peacefully.”

  14. I like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, but what makes it genre? Is this the technicality of “There’s a ghost in Hamlet“?

  15. @Cora That Tibetan amnesiac story reminds me of the other weird ethnicity-hopping personalities in German literature of early 20th Century, esp. Karl May, who had at least two alternate identities: Winnetou and Kara Ben Nemsi. From his Wikipedia entry, May sounds a bit nuts, but apparently his stories were popular and even inspired some sort of cos-play among his fans.

    Also, BTW, thanks for your great series on German SF!

  16. Rosencrantz and Guilderstern realize that they’re in a play, which is an element that’s at least genre-adjacent (playing around with ideas of reality feels SFFish to me, anyway).

    “Clones to the left of me, Jockaira to the right”

  17. @15: awwww! wuzzums!
    i.e., gentrification is not an unmixed blessing, but the loss of seedy areas isn’t something I mourn. (I also think he exaggerates; I went through PABT several times in 1970-71 and was never struck by its desperation.) One could argue various *isms in either the essay or the facts, as there are still plenty of seedy areas — they just aren’t as visible. (The extent to which they’d be better or worse without the economic revival of or focus on the core is not something I have the facts to argue either side of.)

    @Cora: I suspect finding a Kosovar in the US would be non-trivial; there’s a small matter of an ocean in the way, plus something like 5 times the distance to cover. I’m sure there are Kosovars — even Kosovars who either fled the fighting or had enough contacts during the fighting to comment authoritatively on the background of Jackson’s story — in the US; however I wouldn’t expect there to be enough that they would be easy to find — not to mention whether they’d speak up or try to be invisible if somebody announced a search for a Kosovar who could discuss the war. This doesn’t reduce the argument that using the war as a backdrop for outsiders is problematic, with or without knowledgeable advice.

  18. And regarding Kosovars, you would need at least two of them. One from the serbian (or romani or jewish) minority and one from the albanian majority population. And they will have very, very different views. I would not want to stick my hand into that hornet nest. You would need to have very thorough knowledge to know what mines to avoid. Best to have lived there for a time.

  19. Timothy Dalton was also in several episodes of the decidedly genre Chuck, and played the gleefully evil Simon Skinner in the not exactly genre but hilarious Hot Fuzz, the second film in the Wright/Pegg/Frost Corneto trilogy.

  20. Rosencrantz and Guilderstern realize that they’re in a play, which is an element that’s at least genre-adjacent (playing around with ideas of reality feels SFFish to me, anyway).

    The curious thing is that this is also a preoccupation of literary fiction (really literary, not just general). I do sometimes feel that literary fiction and SFF actually have more in common with each other than with the wider fictional world.

  21. Seedy neighborhoods will be with us always. They’ll just move.

    Ethnicity-hopping?

    It’s raining. Dora is on my lap. I’m going to read.

  22. They’ve been showing Flash Gordon a lot on Comet TV and so I’ve been catching bits and pieces of it while I’m flipping around. My favorite detail is that Dr. Zarkov kidnaps Dale (and Flash) because he needs someone in the capsule to push down on the red pedal while his rocket blasts off. He can build a spaceworthy rocket in a greenhouse, but he didn’t think to make the controls usable by one person.

    In fairness, he was expecting his assistant Munson to travel with him, but Munson hoofed it and was killed by the plane that Flash crash landed.

    Random trivial: Melody Anderson, who played Dale, was also on one episode of Logan’s Run, one episode of Battlestar Galactica, and eight episodes of Manimal. Also a Chuck Norris movie.

    Pixel McCartney – Scroll of Kintyre

  23. @bookworm
    I missed that “well-known source”, but was getting the story’s subtext really loudly. (Spent half the night after, thinking about it.) Didn’t find it depressing, so much as wanting “what happened after that”.

  24. Guys, I know it’s a really vague spoiler, but I’d appreciate spoilers for the endings of recently published books being rot13’d in future, if possible.

  25. Re Cat Eldridge:

    And the talented female actors have nothing to do with the those amazing female characters? What a bloody stupid statement. They are the ones who actually make those characters come alive for the viiewers, not Whedon.

    Well Whedon certainly made the job easier for them. Writers create the characters and decied who prominent they are. Yes in my opinion Whedon can be praised for creating those characters and the actors should be praised for how they played them. No need to make this either/or.

    Re Karl May: He was a smalltimecriminal who created his heroic alterego as whishfulfilment. He prefered that to reality. Kara Ben Nemsi was May in the orient, Old Shatterhand was him in the Wild West. It was outrate stated that they were the same person. And yes there are still popular today, exspecially amoung young readers.

  26. 10) I see on the Carnegie Institution’s page on the contest (a) the official rules for naming moons of Jupiter, which are fairly restrictive, ruling out names like MooneyMcMoonface, and (b) a complete lack of any commitment to use the winning names for anything. But I don’t blame them for trying to crowdsource the search through Greek and Roman mythology for descendants or lovers of Zeus or Jupiter that haven’t already been used. Over 50 of Jupiter’s moons have already been named.

  27. While on the subject of recently published (or otherwise released) books (or other things) not being spoiled: I managed to see Us last night without ever seeing a trailer or commercial or reading an article on it, an approach I found rewarding. Of it I will say only this: anyone can make a scary movie, but Us is the creepiest-ass movie I have seen in some time, and I recommend it to anyone to whom that sounds like a recommendation.

  28. StefanB says Well Whedon certainly made the job easier for them. Writers create the characters and decied who prominent they are. Yes in my opinion Whedon can be praised for creating those characters and the actors should be praised for how they played them. No need to make this either/or.

    I didn’t make it either/or. The blogger left the clear impression that Whedon, and Whedon alone, is ‘a master of creating amazing female characters’ and that’s all there is to what we see on the screen. That’s bulllshit. The performer is much more important to the character than the individual writer is and that’s proven over and over on series that have multiple writers in any given season, something that most do, IMDb say Whedon only wrote five five episodes of Firefly, so who gets credit for fleshing out the characters on the other nine episodes?

  29. @Lis Carey yes, I see what you mean, ‘ethnicity-hopping.’ I suppose it could be seen as Orientalism, Colonialism, racism. Apparently there were people (like Karl May) who invented fictional characters and then would appear as them, taking on their personality. I gather it was a sort of performance art. May posed, variously as Winnetou (a Native American elder), and people from the Near East and Far East. I suppose it may have been just a publicity stunt. But there is another interesting case, found in Tom Reiss’ “The Orientalist,” where Liv Nussimbaum (born in Baku) becomes the best-selling author Essad Bey, while taking on the persona of a Muslim prince.
    Anyway, I apologize for that odd-term; and seems worth further thought in today’s conversation about appropriation and representation.

  30. The performer is much more important to the character than the individual writer is and that’s proven over and over on series that have multiple writers in any given season …

    File 770 is a strange place to be told that writers always matter less than actors.

    I don’t see why a show having multiple writers means the actor always contributes more to a character than any writer. The writers of individual episodes are guided by head writers/showrunners who often have more influence on a character than an actor.

    Did Matthew McConaughey matter more than Nic Pizzolatto in the characterization of Detective Rust Cohle in True Detective? As good as McConaughey was, I’d say emphatically no. Pizzolatto has a strong vision of his show and the characters who inhabit it.

  31. @Cat Eldridge: “The performer is much more important to the character than the individual writer is…”

    Aside from the reasons you give, there aren’t any parts that play themselves. I love reading plays and know I’m not getting the real thing. Whereas the exaggerated compliment “I’d watch that actor recite the telephone book” is not untrue. What the writer gives is reach over time and space; a long-lived play outlives a long-lived actor.

    There was another paragraph here I’m tempted to leave, because of how brutally it turns on itself and destroys it’s own line of thought, but I hate gore, so away it goes.

  32. One of the pleasures of episodic TV is watching the writers and actors come together to make a character work–I suspect much of what I see in long-running shows is a writers’ room figuring out how to write a character for a particular actor, though obviously we’re also watching that actor figure out how to inhabit the givens of the show and the character. I once got to watch our neice-the-actor run lines as she prepared for a part–it was much like watching a musician get inside a piece of music.

  33. What I’m saying is that in series work individual writers are less important than either the prrformer or the colllective undertaking of the writing staff. Writing most series isn’t like writing a novel series even one like say the Expanse series as writing staffs tend to be large and scripts for individual shows are often farmed out.

    Her giving Whedon credit for these characters is like crediting Niven for all of the Man-Kzin writing that has been done since he laid down the premise of that conflict. Expect it’s even worse as we’ve got three performers who are clearly interpreting the scripts as all performers do.

    If Firefly becomes an animated series, do we not credit the voice work of the actors involved? And I doubt Whendon will be writing it, sonare these his characters? Or are they new characters?

  34. I feel like this whole argument is a bit odd. In something like a show, it’s clearly a case of BOTH-ness. A head writer/director/show creator is a person without whom there would be no character idea at all for the actor to embody. But they are not the final authority – thank goodness, as some of Whedon’s missteps in his own shows and his shared speculation of the future events of Firefly as a show have indicated he doesn’t always have a consistent or unproblematic vision.

    Ultimately, we do almost always give the actor credit as well, for bringing the character into physical being — in many cases more credit. We don’t exclusively credit Gene Roddenberry for Kirk or Spock, after all. And we trade between the actors and the showrunners both when discussing the merits and flaws of different seasons of Doctor Who.

  35. Cat: But you can’t talk about a creator/showrunner like Whedon as an “individual” writer who only did five episodes. He’s an uncredited co-writer of all episodes.

    I read an interview with Buffy writer Jane Espenson once, and the interviewer praised one of her episodes and she thanked him. He particularly liked one bit, and she said, “thanks, but I must admit Joss wrote that.” And he mentioned a good line, and she said, “that was Joss,” and something else was Joss, and then he mentioned something else, and she said “I wrote that!”

  36. @mlex
    Karl May was con man who even did a stint in prison and eventually took up writing to great success. He passed himself off as a great world traveller and adventurer who’d travelled the Middle East as Kara Ben Nemsi (a.k.a. Karl, son of the Germans) together with his pal Hadschi Halef Omar Ben Hadschi Abul Abbas Ibn Hadschi Dawuhd al Gossarah (I had to look up what must be the longest name in German literature) and who travelled the Old West as Old Shatterhand and became friends and blood brothers with Winnetou, the noble chief of the Apache (who never existed. May made him up). All of these adventures were made up and never happened. But while Karl May liked posing in Old West trapper garb and in Middle eastern garb, he never pretended to be any ethnicity other than his own. Kara Ben Nemsi and Old Shatterhand were both white German guys from Radebeul in Saxony, just like May himself (and were both protrayed in the best known film versions by Lex Barker). His novels, which were still popular when I was a kid, though the dense Victorian style was getting unreadable, were basically the adventures of a Saxonian never-do-well who travelled the world.

    As for the fake Tibetans of the early 20th century, I found references to several cases in a contemporary (i.e. 1948) review of the movie Das verlorene Gesicht, but I couldn’t find any other references to those cases anywhere on the Internet. If such references exist, they require digging into newspaper archives (which I’m half-tempted to do, considering Bremen university library has one of Germany’s biggest newspaper archives).

  37. It’s been said that reading Nancy is easier than not reading it. The strip Cathy is very much the opposite. I could see that it was well-written and often funny, but the effort of taking it in was too much for the payoff. The lettering is abrasive to me in some way, and there’s a ton of it. The drawings are particularly annoying because she’s been doing this strip for decades now, and never improved after the initial months. Still the same three faces, four expressions and five gestures. Most artists get better over time. They learn. They improve. Most of them.

    But reading Cathy every day was like trying to run through deep sand—everything in it worked in some way against taking it in and enjoying it. It was work. I finally gave myself permission to declare that the strip had won and I had lost, and I no longer had to keep looking at it, and I’ve been happier ever since. It’s possible I’d read a script version of the strip and get joy from it.

    File as scrolled as time

  38. @Jeff Smith: interesting to hear; I was wondering how much we could ever know what parts of a character came from the writer (or more widely, the creator) and what were built up by the actor (cf “Dorothy Michaels” taking over the soap opera in Tootsie). My inclination given when Firefly came out is to give major credit to someone who tells the fossils-with-money “No, the women aren’t going to be weaker than the men; yes, it’s going to work” and makes them believe it. (After Buffy, Whedon may have been more able to do this than other creators.) That doesn’t mean that the actors have no effect — but ISTM that in the current system someone needs to make space for them. (For some values of “current” — Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, not to mention most of the non-title characters in Black Panther, may have opened up the field some.)

    @Andrew (not Andrew M): I’ve seen the movie (which I remember deviating, not always well, from the book), but only once and some time ago; did it make their being in a play clear? ISTM that the complaint at the end of the original script amounts to “If this were a play we’d have had more warning.”

    @Lfex: ISTM that’s a minor thread and inverted.

    @Patrick Morris Miller: your observation on Us amplifies what I’ve read; not that I was likely to see it anyway, but now I know I’ll give it a pass — just not my cup of tea.

    I see @Kyra has already added The Winter of the Witch to the 2019 Recommendations. I’m not sure about nominating it by itself — I had to find an online crib of the previous book to be sure I followed the first several chapters — but I’m not betting there will be anything better for a Best Series nomination. No cheats, no easy endings, just a very-well-done story.

  39. @Chip: Honestly, it’s been decades since I read the play, so I may be exaggerating how much “fourth wall breaking” goes on.

  40. @Joe H – no!!!! Say it ain’t so! My wife, daughter and I are watching season 6 right now as they prepare signs for tomorrow’s anti-Brexit protest. We just got through the episode where Sam and Dean wind up in the alternate reality where they find themselves as actors playing hunters in a TV series called Supernatural. This awesomeness should never end!

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