Pixel Scroll 3/26/19 R.U.P. – Rossum’s Unscrolled Pixels

(1) HORROR FAN. Tananarive Due was interviewed in the Washington Post in a story by Elahe Izadi about how people terrified by horror movies psychologically prepare themselves for seeing a quality horror film like A Quiet Place or Us. Due is the executive producer of Horror Noire and teaches a course at UCLA on Get Out. “Horror is a must-see genre again. What’s a scaredy-cat to do?”

Due loved horror as a child, when watching it was a fun way to be scared within a safe context; with age, it became a therapeutic method to deal with heavier anxieties. It’s a lesson she gleaned from her mother, the late civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, who was a horror fan; the genre served as an outlet for the racial trauma she endured.

“Headlines scare me. True crime stories scare me. .?.?. Real, human monstrosity is not fun for me to watch,” Due says. “When those people are supernatural or when there’s a fantasy element, when there’s a monster, now I’m ready to watch because the monster in a horror movie can be a stand-in for real-life monstrosity that lets me engage with it from a distance, but also leech out that trauma and expel it in a way that can feel fun.”

(2) WE LOST. New featurette from Marvel Studios’ Avengers Endgame, in theaters in one month.

(3) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Arisen” by Louisa Hall, author of the novels Speak and Trinity.

“Once upon a time,” Jim said, “in a country called Acirema—”

“Acirema,” I said. “How imaginative, it’s—”

“Do you want me to tell this story or not?” Jim said. His tone was suddenly harsh.

It’s in Slate along with a response essay “What Are Facts Without Fiction?” by librarian Jim O’Donnell.

Yes, it’s true that there are no true stories. Human beings are story-making creatures, but no story can possibly be better that an edited, digested, spin-doctored version of events in we might still call the real world. The real story makers, the ones who give us our professed fictions, know that well and take full advantage of the techniques and the conveniences of their craft, the better to point us toward thoughts we would not come to so easily otherwise.

(4) HELP FUND NICHELLE NICHOLS’ FINAL ROLE. Marc Zicree has started a GoFundMe to pay for “Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols Space Command Scene!”. In the first 24 hours, fans have contributed $600 towards the $15,000 goal.

…Now I’m making a new science fiction pilot called Space Command and want to shoot a very special scene with Nichelle, which will be her last acting role and a wonderful gift to her fans. 

(You can watch the work in progress first hour of the Space Command pilot at https://youtu.be/zv-tx3DdKSg)

Total cost of the shoot, including cast and crew (I’m not taking any salary myself) will be $15,000.

Time is of the essence — we’d like to shoot as soon as possible — and it would mean so much for all of us to be able to make this happen. 

(5) WHEN YOU OUTGROW THE GOLDEN AGE OF SF. John Scalzi gave this example of how his perspective has changed over time:

He brought back my memory of Harlan Ellison standing in the lobby after a 1977 Star Wars pre-screening, verbally assailing the movie he had just seen. However, the main thrust of Harlan’s complaints were that the story, a throwback to the serials, didn’t represent state-of-the-art science fiction. Likewise, he when he wrote about the movie in Harlan Ellison’s Watching he continued the same theme – that it was superficial, “the human heart is never touched.”

(6) GUIDEPOSTS. E.D.E. Bell’s “Two Simple Rules of Editing” explains why these are the rules that guide her work in a post for the SFWA Blog.

So, there’s only two—let’s go!

Rule #1: Consider all edits with an open mind

It sounds simple, but it’s not. Sometimes it helps to glance through all the edits, then just close the file. Come back the next day, if you can. Then consider, why did the editor make this suggestion? Don’t dismiss anything, and don’t hold anything too sacred to be changed.

Rule #2: Only make changes you like

It sounds simple, but it’s not. If the editor’s version is smoother, or more correct, or whatever, but you don’t like it, then don’t do it. You’ll be the one answering to readers if it reads funny, but that’s your call. It’s your story. It’s your art. You’re the one who knows what you meant.

(7) GAHAN WILSON. The GoFundMe for Gahan Wilson has received contributions from 1,180 people amounting to $55,547 of its $100,000 goal after 23 days. The most recent update said:

Gahan was interviewed today for a newspaper piece that will probably go out nationwide. The people on the reporting team were very sweet and sensitive to Gahan.

Gahan was on his game…speaking about his life and other things.

(8) PUGMIRE OBIT. The horror writer W.H. “Wilum” Pugmire died today, aged 67. The major influence upon his writing was H P Lovecraft, of course, and S T Joshi described him in 2010 as “perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today.” Scott Edelman tweeted the photo below – Pugmire’s on the right.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 26, 1850 Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.)
  • Born March 26, 1931 Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight ZoneThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer LimitsNight Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 26, 1942 Erica Jong, 77. Witches, which was has amazing illustrations by Joseph A. Smiths, is still worth your time nearly forty years later. ISFDB also lists Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice which is a time travel story but it soul does more like a romance novel to me. And Sappho’s Leap which they also list just seems soft core lesbian porn with a slight genre twist. 
  • Born March 26, 1950 K. W. Jeter, 69. Farewell Horizontal may or may be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel  to The Time Machine , is well-worth reading reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions?
  • Born March 26, 1953 Christopher Fowler, 65. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects but are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him are I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror.
  • Born March 26, 1960 Brenda Strong, 59. First film genre appearance was on Spaceballs as Nurse Gretchen. The role you probably remember her was on Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier though post-death she shows up in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation as Sergeant Dede Rake. She showed up on Next Gen as a character named Rashella in the “When the Bough Breaks” episode and she’s been a regular on Supergirl as Lillian Luthor.
  • Born March 26, 1966 Michael Imperioli, 53. Detective Len Fenerman in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Detective Ray Carling, the lead in Life on Mars and Rosencrantz in a recent Hamlet.
  • Born March 26, 1985 Keira Knightley, 34. To my surprise and this definitely shows I’m not a Star Wars geek, she was Sabé (Decoy Queen). Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann though I’ll be damned if I remember her role. (She’s in several more of these films. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.) we saw Herve we saw as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note I must note is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

(10) TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. We got a pair of big things wrong in Andrew Porter’s birthday listing the other day.

Science Fiction Chronicle which he founded in May 1980…”

The first issue appeared Labor Day weekend, 1979, at the Louisville NASFiC, cover dated October 1979.

Algol now known as Starship lasted less than five years…”

Algol started in 1963; the last issue of Algol/Starship, #44, appeared in 1984.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

Candorville stands up for Star Trek: Discovery.

(12) VOICES DISSENT. Anime News Network speculates about the potential for litigation in its story “Kameha Con Responds to Recent Guest Cancellations”. Several guests bailed after the con added Vic Mignogna to its lineup. An unnamed lawyer consulted by ANN says they may be in violation of their contracts if they don’t attend.

The staff of the upcoming Kameha Con in Irving, Texas issued a statement via Facebook and Twitter on Monday regarding recent guest cancellations due to the addition of voice actor Vic Mignogna as a guest. Mignogna was added to the convention’s guest roster on March 22 following a previous cancellation by con staff on February 2. Since the announcement, five voice actors have announced they will no longer attend the convention along with multiple panelists.

One commenter neatly summed up the situation:

(13) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! The Wrap argues that “‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Us’ Have Pushed ‘The Right Stuff’ Back Into the Spotlight”.

…“The Right Stuff” tells the true story of the seven military pilots who were selected for the NASA project to launch the first ever manned spaceflight. In a similar way, Carol, an Air Force test pilot, ends up soaring farther than she could have ever expected when she travels into space and becomes a member of the Kree and, later, one of Earth’s superheroes.

In “Us,” that same VHS tape is much easier to miss, and is used in a possibly more ironic and darker context. You can find “The Right Stuff” among the VHS tapes that flank the TV displaying the Hands Across America commercial in the opening scene.

(14) LIVE THEATER. Marjorie Prime, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominee, set in a future of “beneficial AI,” will be staged in Norwich, CT the next two weekends. The special feature of the first two performances — March 29 and 31 – will be post-performance discussions led by sff writers Carlos Hernandez and Paul Di Filippo.

Additional performances Saturday April 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday April 7 at 3 pm

Tickets are $10 in advance or seniors; $12 at door Cash or Check only—no credit cards

Open Seating—limited to 70 attendees

House Opens at 7 pm Friday and Saturday; 2:30 pm Sunday

United Congregational Church Hall 87 Broadway, Norwich CT. (Note: This address brings you to the church’s main door—do NOT enter there. Make first right on Willow Street, right turn into lower level of covered parking deck. A few stairs here. Level entrance and handicapped permit parking available at 11-39 Chestnut Street)

Friday March 29, 7:30 pm

Featuring. . . .a talkback led by Carlos Hernandez. Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019). By day, Carlos is a mild-manned reporter associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast. Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.

Sunday March 31, 3 pm

Featuring. . .a talkback led by Paul Di Filippo, who has been publishing professionally for over 40 years. He has continued to reside in Providence throughout his career, with over 200 stories published and many novels. Beginning with The Steampunk Trilogy: (1995), which remains his most widely known title, this shorter material has been assembled in twenty substantial collections. Di Filippo also reviews widely, online and in print.

(15) SUCK FAIRY. Someone noticed — “The Matrix’s male power fantasy has dated badly.”

Ahead of its time when it was released 20 years ago, The Matrix is a monument to Generation X self-pity that is out of step with today, writes Nicholas Barber.

The Matrix was way ahead of its time. The Wachowskis’ tech-noir mind-bender came out in 1999 – 20 years ago – which meant that it reinvented big-screen superhero action a year before X-Men was released and showcased Hong Kong-style ‘wire-fu’ fight choreography a year before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its ‘bullet-time’ effects have been copied by blockbusters ever since, and its thoughts about virtual reality and artificial intelligence have been mimicked just as often. Despite all this, though, in some crucial respects The Matrix has dated so badly that it now seems to be a relic. It is a film that, like the human race in the Wachowskis’ story, is trapped forever in the 1990s.

…It’s a fantastic premise, but it does have its flaws. Twenty years on, it’s embarrassing to see a white male saviour with two sidekicks – one black, one female – whose primary task is to assure him how gifted he is. The female sidekick, Trinity, even falls in love with him for no reason except, I suppose, that he looks like Keanu Reeves. And, in general, Anderson/Neo is one of those uninspiring heroes who do next to nothing to earn their hero status. He becomes an unbeatable martial artist not by training for years, but by being plugged into a teaching program for a few hours. And he becomes omnipotent in the Matrix not because he is particularly brave, noble or clever, but because, as Morpheus says, he is willing “to believe”.

(16) NIMBY. “A Battle Is Raging Over The Largest Solar Farm East Of The Rockies” – NPR has the story.

The largest solar farm east of the Rocky Mountains could soon be built in Virginia and, depending on whom you ask, it would be either a dangerous eyesore that will destroy the area’s rural character or a win-win, boosting the local economy and the environment. The solar panels would be spread across 10 square miles — 1.8 million panels soaking up the sun’s rays.

The project is planned for Spotsylvania County, about 60 miles south of Washington, D.C. Amid the county’s Civil War battlefields, farms and timberland, a fight is raging over the future of energy in Virginia, and in the Eastern U.S.

The heart of the solar resistance is in a gated community called Fawn Lake, built around a golf course and man-made lake.

“I mean we live at a resort, essentially,” says Dave Walsh, one of the many Fawn Lake residents organizing against the planned solar farm. One corner of the massive project would butt up against the back of the gated community. Walsh says he supports solar, in theory, but not here.

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

97 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/26/19 R.U.P. – Rossum’s Unscrolled Pixels

  1. @Lenora Rose
    Yes, Keanu’s ancestry is not pure white. His opinion on the subject of ancestry versus cultural claim is a bit hard to suss out, considering his private nature, but most of his best known – and most influential – films pretty essentially treat his characters as white
    Theodore “Ted” Logan is certainly a white dude.

  2. @ PJ Evans. I really enjoyed the Jani Killan books also. They keep going ito unexpected places.
    While the first book is more a personal scale story it gets more space operaish as it goes on.

  3. (15) The female sidekick, Trinity, even falls in love with him for no reason except, I suppose, that he looks like Keanu Reeves.

    That seems totally reasonable to me. 🙂

  4. You know, I’ve heard Bilbo Baggins, almost certainly on Dr. Demento, but I’ve never seen the video. Good Ghod, that’s a groovadelic piece of ’60s cheese!

  5. I never got around to seeing the whole first Matrix film until a couple of years ago because when I originally tried to watch it as smol me I switched off in disgust when he broke out of the machine with no hair. As far as smol me was concerned, there was zero reason to have an aesthetically pleasing lead and then Do That. Apparently smol me had very strong feelings about hair (or at least hair on Keanu Reeves), which I can’t quite recall the reasons for but I’m sure made just as much sense as all the other things I had inexplicably strong convictions about at that age.

    When I watched the rest? Eh. It was fine. Didn’t really feel like watching the sequels. Probably lost something by not being seen in context.

  6. @bookworm1398

    I am a big fan of Jani Killian as well. Got the first three in an omnibus from SFBC and went on from there. Still need to read the last one though.

  7. I don’t want to offend anyone who liked The Matrix then or now, but I didn’t like it then!

    I mean, I liked the wire-work, but I was already a fan of Hong Kong cinema at the time, so it wasn’t any sort of revelation to me. And I liked bullet-time, but that’s not enough to carry a movie on its own. And aside from that, I don’t think I liked anything about the movie! I actually felt sort of offended that someone could offer up that sort of nonsense and expect me to take it seriously even for a moment. “Humans as batteries” was just way beyond my abilities to suspend disbelief–I almost walked out at that point. I could go on and on about the things I disliked, but I doubt if any of you care about the gory details, so just take it as read: I was not and am not a fan.

    In general, though, I am quite familiar with the workings of that mean old bastard, the Suck Fairy. They’ve been by to poop on more than a few of the things I once loved. 🙂

  8. @Sophie Jane: I’ll admit that it’s not as blatant a copy as Yojimbo -> A Fistful of Dollars or Seven Samurai -> Magnificent Seven but it’s definitely heavily inspired by Hidden Fortress (and Lucas is on record acknowledging it.) Plus art isn’t created in a vacuum yada yada of course inspiration and influence had to come from somewhere, and there are certainly worse sources than Kurosawa.

  9. @Jesse H:

    I read the Twitter exchanges about the “Suck Fairy” and was assured in Naomi Kritzer’s thread about it from a comment that the entire Golden Age of Science Fiction was just F-ing awful.

    So? That sounds like one comment; Twitter is not known for universally sage and measured comments — or even (as you later demand) good taste. (It would be interesting to know what specific person actually said that.) You yourself commit a form of trolling by reducing either an essay with a fair amount of fact and discussion or the measured discussion of that essay to a similarly unmeasured tweet. I will counter with a report that this opinion is far from universal even among people who might be expected to hold it; there was a panel at Wiscon some years ago discussing how much good really old stuff there was. For that matter, I’d also like to know their definition of Golden Age, and your age; unless you grew up reading mostly ancient books, it may not be part of your growth.

    @Cat Eldridge: I think you, like Paul, are overstating. It is possible to say (using one of Walton’s examples) that in A Gift from Earth there are three female characters, of whom one is always called a shrew, one is there just to be rescued (and to reward the rescuer), and one is (by her own statement) an appliance to reaffirm other conspirators’ masculinity if they feel it drooping. Whether that makes the whole book awful is subjective; whether anyone here would care to associate with someone who says that casting is utterly irrelevant is also subjective, as is whether someone noticed it on first read (a key element of the Suck Fairy). Whether it’s there is not.

  10. Just saw this Mary Sue article that mentioned that they attempted to get Sandra Bullock for Neo (and Ahnold was a possible Morpheus.) Also, the comments are praising that they got an Asian actor for Neo…

  11. I wasn’t very fond of Matrix when it arrived. The trenchcoat look with sunglasses irritated me and the special effects had a bit too much of a look at me, I’m a cool special effect. It took until Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before I could fully appreciate what you could do with those effects. It was an ok movie, but a bit forgettable. I vastly preferred Dark City from the previous year.

  12. @Lis —

    Walter Farley! Boy, that takes me back. If he’s been struck by the suck fairy, I don’t want to know! OTOH, I didn’t read very far into the series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went downhill.

    As for Star Wars — yes, I can see the flaws, and yes, I love the movie anyway. You’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!

    As for The Matrix — hmmmm, I think I was mostly impressed by the effects. And the only thing I’ve really loved Keanu in was Constantine.

  13. So, I clicked Darren’s link…

    And an awful lot of male actors turned down the role of Neo before somebody said, hey, can we make Neo a girl and get Sandra Bullock, but she turned them down, too. Eventually, they got to Reeves, who said yes.

    First comment praises them for getting an Asian actor for Neo. Argument then ensues in comments about whether Reeves is Asian, reads as Asian, is seen as Asian by any significant number of people.

    Prior to this discussion, it had never occurred to me that Reeves was anything other than a white guy from Canada. Yes, he has an unusual given name. There’s lots of ways people can wind up with given names that seem unusual to people who aren’t their family.

  14. @KasaObake here are certainly worse sources than Kurosawa.

    Agreed – I just think the two films are different enough that it makes more sense to talk about influence than copying. (Which is, heaven knows, not always the case when artists talk about their influences.)

    And Jojimbo is just a superior copy of Red Harvest 😉

  15. So the conclusion is that The Matrix is a white savior movie if Keanu Reeves passes the One Drop test? Sounds about right to me. Let’s revisit it in twenty years.

  16. For me, the suck fairy had already visited The Matrix in the two or three years between when I saw it in the cinema with a friend and thought it was a pretty good movie, even though it would make it impossible to wear long black coats and sunglasses for the next five years or so, and when it came to TV and I settled down to watch it again, only to switch off after half an hour or so.

  17. Yojimbo, For A Few Dollars, The Warrior And The Sorceress, Hrafninn flýgur, Last Man Standing. I wonder how many films have been made that originates from Red Harvest.

  18. Mike Glyer: That’s also an untrue statement, using “legally” as a weasel word. The people running Kameha Con were at zero risk of criminal charges. What they faced was a situation to be addressed by contract law and litigation — which always has the potential to be settled well short of the courtroom. What you’re trying to justify is that Kameha Con couldn’t drop Mignogna for zero cost and for zero legal risk. It merely seemed more convenient to them to keep him on the program.

    It’s also bogus for you to handwave away the other guests risks by making an unsupported guess at Kameha Con’s intentions. The ANN article was pointing out what the con would have the capability to do. Capability and intention are two different things.

    If Kameha Con were to be sued by Vic for canceling his appearance, it would likely cost them a lot of money that they simply don’t have. Despite what most people think about fan run convention finances, most fan run conventions simply do not have the kind of money to survive a lawsuit, even if they simply settle and do not fight it. I have run fan run conventions and actively talk to a lot of convention organizers so I have firsthand personal experience with the amount of capital most fan conventions have at their disposal. It’s enough to keep the con going, but not enough to deal with lawsuits. So their option was likely between kill the con and never run it again, or deal with having Vic as a guest for one final year and fix their contracts in the future so they never have to deal with this scenario again. It’s a crappy situation with no good answer.

    To your second point, I was pointing out an incorrect statement. Your article explicitly stated that that the unnamed lawyer said that the guests could be opening themselves up to a lawsuit, but that is not what the unnamed lawyer said in the ANN article that you were summarizing. While it may be true that the canceling guests could be opening themselves up for a lawsuit, the ANN article ACTUALLY said that the lawyer said that the convention could be opening themselves up to a lawsuit. My main point is that you misquoted the article. The rest is merely conjecture.

  19. 6) Rob Thornton said:

    And Ezra Pound has been credited with single-handedly editing The Waste Land into existence. (Yes, I am a technical editor.)

    There is a terrific version of Waste Land that shows the manuscript with Pound’s handwritten edits – it’s a fabulous and illuminating read, and I learned a great deal from going through it.

    FWIW, I’ve heard Walker Percy credited for editing Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces (a great non-SFnal read) into what it is. A good editor can make a HUGE difference.

  20. 15) the article on the BBC website has been edited, with this note at the bottom of the column:
    “This article has been amended to remove a line referring to the character Neo as a ‘white male saviour’. The actor Keanu Reeves has mixed-race ancestry.”

    the Birth.Movies.Death website is running several articles to mark the 20th anniversary of ‘The Matrix’. I don’t agree with everything they write, but the pieces are more thoughtful than the BBC column which struck me as uninformed whining.

  21. If Kameha Con were to be sued by Vic for canceling his appearance, it would likely cost them a lot of money that they simply don’t have.

    It seems like you’re considering one hypothetical legal risk while ignoring another. If he behaves badly, the con could be sued by others for inviting him. Most conventions these days would err on the side of protecting people from abuse.

  22. John A. Arkansawyer:

    So the conclusion is that The Matrix is a white savior movie if Keanu Reeves passes the One Drop test?

    Really, that was a low comment on a much more complex issue. You know how to do better.
    ______________________

    Jesse H: I guess nobody has ever actually pointed out to you the concept that “All your faves are problematic”? It’s almost entirely true. Star Wars? Well, there’s the “all evil or all good” of Empire versus Rebellion, and the alien species who are almost always treated as either having essentialist traits (Sand people and Jawas) or as humans in rubber masks. At least the *only* female role kicked some butt and contributed to saving herself. In Empire Strikes Back, Han does the “grab and kiss a woman to shut her up” thing and we’re meant to read it as romantic. By Return of the Jedi, A mass murderer and child killer is redeemed because he doesn’t actually want to kill his own son, not because he, oh, repents and repays all the other people he murdered or disagrees with ruling by murder and terror. (Which was noted as a problematic trope well before Revenge of the Sith made it explicitly true that he was a child-murderer, but that really didn’t help).

    I LOVE Star Wars. The first two hold up decently – Empire a bit less so IMO because of some slow bits, but it comes together well by the end – the third doesn’t embarrass itself as much as it could, considering the Ewoks and how they’re handled.

    I enjoyed the Matrix, and probably would again if I bothered to watch it, but the comments about “why is Trinity not The One? Why does the black guy have to be the mentor and not The One?” were contemporary with the movie, not some random two decades later reconsideration. (An example where I still recall reading those, though at least months after the film’s release, is the review in the Magazine of F&SF).

    It is, and has always been, possible to BOTH think a movie is amazing and that it has issues. Casablanca is a tight-plotted, active, compelling story with vivid scenes and snappy dialogue that has had an uncountable amount of influence on the entirety of Hollywood and some even on indie and outside-Hollywood filmmakers. And Ingrid Bergman’s character is still forced to alternate between a character who makes choices and a prize who is — or is not — chosen.

    The Golden Age contains a lot of works that were stunning when made, vastly influential, and some of them hold up to the test of time… for some readers. The Golden Age as a whole still sucked, and the good parts don’t detract from that. We read the survivors, the crème de la crème of what readers had to choose from, and we both, simultaneously, see why they were loved, AND find the ways they just don’t hold up. And if you like what they do, that’s fine. And if another reader can’t get past the bits that don’t work anymore either for modern science or for prose or character reasons, or, yes, even for the change in social mores, that’s fine too. You can both say so.

  23. Kip – that’s the one. I came across it in a graduate class on Eliot and Pound.

    If you want to go further down this rabbit hole, Eliot himself edited Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, another dense and beautiful (non-SF) read that’s one of my favorites.

  24. @John A. Arkansawyer I don’t know how to do better. If I did, I would, and so would others.

    This is why I think it’s more productive to talk about what’s actually represented on the screen and how audiences perceive it than to go looking for excuses in the context. But I’m afraid it’s difficult for some of us to tell if you were highlighting the absurdity of the arguments about technicalities or dismissing the whole question of race and narrative as absurd in the first place.

  25. @Jesse H: It is axiomatic that 90% of Golden Age SF literature sucked, as per Sturgeon’s Law that 90% of everything sucks. I’m sure most of us would be happy to declare that 10% of Golden Age SFF was really excellent, and happy to argue with you and each other about which 10% that is. Which Golden Age SFF is your favorite? I’m fond of Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, for example (especially Hellsgarde). Stanley Weinbaum also impressed me, just off the top of my head.

  26. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    I don’t know how to do better. If I did, I would, and so would others. Instead we have silly essentialist discussions like this one.

    To me, it looks like you’re the one engaging in silly essentialism. I look at Keanu Reeves, and I see a white guy. I go looking through his bio on Wikipedia, and I see that his father was, maybe, rough calculation, 1/8 Chinese. And based on that, I’m engaging in terrible essentialism if I looked at him in The Matrix, not knowing the information I’ve just acquired in the past couple of days, and saw white guy, with that perception interacting with the other casting and the story to affect how I saw the movie?

    Really?

    @Contrarius–I tried rereading The Black Stallion after the movie came out–and concluded that the movie had been made from the same fond, wonderful memories I had, not from a rereading of the book.

    Keep your memories! That’s what I’ve chosen to do, while trying to erase the memory of my two errors in judgment.

  27. @contrarius and Lis: I read somewhere that the Black Stallion series wandered into SF at some point with the introduction of aliens or something.

  28. I can only speak for myself, but I had no idea that Keanu Reeves was mixed race until several years after The Matrix came out. I always assumed he was a white guy with a strange first name.

  29. @jayn: Actually I enjoyed The Island Stallion Races which introduced aliens mostly to give a means for Farley’s Island Stallion to meet the Black.

  30. Jayn: The Island Stallion books, I think, which do link up on the third one. Not the first, though. (that was my Walter Farley revisit-as-an-adult book, and it wasn’t as terrible as I was led to fear, but it did not encourage me to continue the attempt.)

  31. Yes, I remember the aliens as excuse for the stallions to meet, and race. It was, at the time I read it, a lot of fun, and I am never going to risk tampering with those memories.

  32. So, the only tweet I saw in the responses to Naomi Kritzer’s twitter thread that mentioned the golden age was this one.

    @3fingeredfox tweets: I got some old scifi novels at this little bookstore the other day, the ones I used to like, and then got rid of ages ago. And they’re all bad. Really bad. But I’m enjoying them anyway.

    Most of the ‘golden age’ of science fiction was fucking awful

    Which. Hm. Is certainly not saying that the “entire” golden age sucked. And is, you know, openly admitting to still enjoying even the bits that didn’t age that well.

    @Jesse H, was there a different tweet or did you misremember this one?

  33. @Sophie Jane And Jojimbo is just a superior copy of Red Harvest ?

    Hah 🙂

    (I’d also add that a bad copy of Kurosawa still has the potential to be a good film. I enjoy A Fistful of Dollars even despite being or maybe because it’s almost a shot-for-shot remake of Yojimbo – but I won’t watch them back to back again. I’ve also seen 7 of the 8 SW films so far – they’re not terrible but the new ones at least are long-haul flight films for me – same as Marvel films)

  34. I’d like to see somebody make a good movie of Red Harvest and not just hijack its plotline, with the Op, and Poisonville, and Dick Foley, and Whisper, and the Old Man and Dinah Brand. Everyone likes to say The Glass Key was his best, but for me it’s the story (based partly on Hammett’s own experience as a Pinkerton op) where the matter-of-fact guy telling the story starts going a little blood simple himself that hits something very much like a sense of wonder.

    Some of his short stories are remarkable as well. The ending of “The Gutting of Couffignal” is damn near as devastating in its way as the final page of Chandler’s “Red Wind,” and that’s a hell of a compliment.

  35. @Lenora Rose: A mass murderer and child killer is redeemed because he doesn’t actually want to kill his own son,. No. He’s redeemed because he turns on and stops the most powerful villain, dying in the process — which makes any further redemptive acts impossible.

    @Vashalla: I take it you don’t realize you’re talking to a former Worldcon chair. Does the saying “Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs” not show up in your lexicon?

  36. Chip Hitchcock: Does the saying “Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs” not show up in your lexicon?

    Oh, I don’t know. Has there ever been a Worldcon chair who knows all there is to know about sucking eggs?

  37. @KipW:

    I need to read more Eliot. Most of what I know of him is from being First Tempter in “Murder in the Cathedral” years ago.

    Hey! I was “Old Priest Who Runs Offstage in a Panic When Armed Knights Burst in to the Cathedral”!

    I still remember my line: “AAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh”

  38. @Kip Williams: I found Red Harvest to be a tough read. Now that I’ve been through the anthology of Hammett’s short fiction, I think I’d find it easier. Those stories are hard. Bad people, worse people, innocent people getting chewed up like dog food, and every now and then, something good happens.

    So yeah, I’d like a trip to Poisonville myself.

  39. I was ready for Red Harvest. It had been described to me as one of the most violent books from the era, and I’d read Chandler three times and was just getting started on Hammett. It’s kind of cathartic, and actually made me a little blood simple as a reader. (I keep coming back to the laudanum dream, and to the obliging yegg who gets cut down when the Op tells him to find another place to hide.)

    This also, for me, qualifies as horror on my theory that the most abiding horror consists of the things people are willing to do to other people. That was my take-away from the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing.

    Hammett’s writing always sneaks up on me. He avoids emotion-laden terms, yet manages to convey the state his characters are in with the strategic use of tells. He uses so few metaphors that I tend to remember the rare ones that pop up: “He took the this-is-unheard-of-but-not-really-serious-of-course attitude of a street fakir whose mechanical dingus flops during a demonstration.”

    Comparison to Chandler is hard to avoid, of course. Chandler with his flat-out “I was depressed” narration, but I love that too. The short end-of-chapter passage about a brief interaction between two birds knocked me right out.

    There was a red oleander bush against part of the front wall of the house. I heard a flutter in it and a baby mockingbird started cheeping anxiously. I spotted him hanging on to one of the top branches, flapping his wings as if he was having trouble keeping his balance. From the cypress trees at the corner of the wall there was a single harsh warning chirp. The cheeping stopped at once and the little fat bird was silent.
    I went inside and shut the door and left him to his flying lesson. Birds have to learn too.

  40. @Chip Hitchcock: Great, then he should be aware of the potential issues that Kameha Con is facing. I am also a former convention chair for an anime convention and I am still very active in speaking to lots of other convention chairs for anime conventions and have probably more specific knowledge of the situation because of my position. My knowledge and experience is no less valid simply because the person I’m speaking to chaired for Worldcon.

    With that, I’m out. I don’t have anything further to add to this conversation.

    (And no, I’m not going to name the convention I chaired because I have no intention of drawing any unneeded drama to it, especially since these opinions are my own and not representative of any convention I am currently or have been a part of in the past.)

  41. Chip Hitchcock: Partly due to babysitting a cousin of the exact age to imprint on it, I’ve seen Return of the Jedi more times than I have any other Star Wars film, and possibly more times than many avid Star Wars fans twice my age. The ONLY reason Vader defeated the Emperor was because, get this, the Emperor was killing his son. Not for regret at having been tricked into supporting an evil regime. Not for regret at multiple murders including of his own staff. Not remorse of any kind. And yes, further repentant acts are impossible – but it’s a very loooong stretch to be assuming he wanted to commit any further repentant acts. Yes, Luke was all about believing there was good in him, but Luke wasn’t exactly what you would call objective about the whole thing.

    The Emperor’s Executioner killing the Emperor for purely personal stakes doesn’t make him a hero, even if that one time he killed the right person.

    This is something the Last Jedi 100% gets right, by the way, by letting Kylo Ren survive to show that yes, he really is still a completely awful person. The contrast to Vader dying conveniently when it could make his son feel for him and not have to deal with inconvenient issues of his dad still sucking was NOT accidental.

  42. @Valshalla

    It might help for you to know that Worldcon is currently fighting a legal action due to banning a prolific harasser (not sexual). Sometimes you have to take a stand and protect your other attendees and guests, even if the stand is risky. That KamehaCon haven’t tells us something about their priorities. You might agree with their priorities, but you can’t expect everyone else to — not when the topic is a guest accused of sexual harassment.

    I hope you have a good weekend.

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