Pixel Scroll 3/3/18 Scrolling Occupants Of Interpixellary Craft

(1) STRANGE TOY. Robin Sloan offers “Voyages in sentence space”.

Imagine a sentence. “I went looking for adventure.”

Imagine another one. “I never returned.”

Now imagine a sentence gradient between them—not a story, but a smooth interpolation of meaning. This is a weird thing to ask for! I’d never even bothered to imagine an interpolation between sentences before encountering the idea in a recent academic paper. But as soon as I did, I found it captivating, both for the thing itself—a sentence… gradient?—and for the larger artifact it suggested: a dense cloud of sentences, all related; a space you might navigate and explore.

…My project called sentencespace, now public on GitHub, serves up an API that provides two things.

  1. Sentence gradients: smooth interpolations between two input sentences.
  2. Sentence neighborhoods: clouds of alternative sentences closely related to an input sentence.

Sentence neighborhoods are simpler than gradients. Given an input sentence, what if we imagine ourselves standing at its location in sentence space, peering around, jotting down some of the other sentences we see nearby?

Mlex sent the link together with a screenshot of his own experiment with gradients between two sentences: “I put in the opening and closing phrases of Dhalgren and got the output (in the screenshot attached).”

(2) JUKKA WINS. The Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association presented Worldcon 75 chair Jukka Halme with the Cosmos Pen Award, their highest honor.

(3) SPIRIT AWARDS. Get Out won the top two categories at today’s Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony, Best Feature and Best Director.

The Spirit Awards recognize independent filmmakers. Read the full list of winners here.

(4) SUGGEST CHESLEY AWARD NOMINEES. The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists is seeking suggestions for 2017 works for consideration for this year’s Chesley Awards in the categories Hardback Cover, Paperback Cover, Magazine Cover, Interior Illustration, Gaming Related Illustration, Product Illustration, Color Work Unpublished, Monochrome Work Unpublished, Three Dimensional Art, Art Director, and Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Anyone can suggest works for consideration, you do not need to be an ASFA member.

The Suggestion form is here: https://goo.gl/v8QuzP

The gallery of works suggested so far is here.

The deadline is March 5.

(5) THESE BOOTS. Will Terry Goodkind get a veto over his next book cover? Although not yet displayed on the Macmillan website, another service is circulating this draft cover art for the third novel in his Nicci Chronicles series. Siege of Stone goes on sale December 31, 2018. Unfortunately, the banner obscures the character’s footwear, one of the things Goodkind criticized in his recent blast about the cover for Shroud of Eternity.

(6) DID PKD EVER COMPLAIN ABOUT HIS COVERS? Alicia Kroell, in “33 of the Weirdest Philip K. Dick Covers We Could Find” at LitHub, has unearthed some truly creepy covers!

(7) ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. Roy Scranton reviews an Iraqi sf novel in New Republic — “A Surreal Story from Baghdad”.

Frankenstein in Baghdad begins with an explosion in Baghdad’s Tayaran Square, the full significance of which doesn’t become clear until later, when the junk dealer Hadi tells his story to a group of journalists at a coffee shop. One, a German documentary-maker, leaves halfway through, laughing off Hadi’s tale as a fable stolen from a Robert De Niro movie. But Mahmoud al-Sawadi, an Iraqi magazine journalist, stays and listens closely, because what Hadi’s telling him is genuinely weird, even for Baghdad: how after the explosion he’d picked up someone’s nose off the street and sewed it onto the face of a corpse he’d been building in his shed. Then how, while he was sleeping, the corpse apparently got up and walked away.

Hadi’s a well-known liar, and a drunk to boot, but as Mahmoud discovers, this time the junk man was telling the truth. His story sparks the plot of Ahmed Saadawi’s brilliant, rueful novel, which won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction and has recently appeared in a crisp, moving, and mordantly humorous English translation from Jonathan Wright and Penguin Books. Hadi, it turns out, created a monster.

(8) STIERS OBIT. David Ogden Stiers, best known for playing Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on MAS*H, died March 3 at the age of 75. He also appeared in several genre TV shows, and had numerous voice acting roles in animated films.

Stiers was a prolific voice actor, working in eight Disney animated features including 1991’s Beauty and the Beast (in which he played Cogsworth), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Archdeacon), Pocahantas (Governor Ratcliffe) and Lilo & Stitch (Dr. Jumba Jookiba). He also voiced Kamaji in the English-dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born March 3, 1920James Doohan, Actor (Star Trek)
  • Born March 3, 1945George Miller, Director & Producer (Mad Max franchise)
  • Born March 3, 1958Miranda Richardson, Actor (Blackadder, Harry Potter)
  • Born March 3, 1980Katherine Waterston, Actor (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Alien: Covenant)
  • Born March 3, 1982Jessica Biel, Actor (Blade: Trinity, Total Recall)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DOMAIN

(11) WAKANDA AND COSPLAY. NPR explores how “‘Black Panther’ Brings New Visibility To Cosplayers Of Color”.

The film “Black Panther” has inspired black cosplayers around the country to be more visible within the cosplay community.

Cosplay, which is short for “costume play,” is when people wear often-handmade costumes to embody fictional characters from comic books and popular movies like Captain America and Star Wars. But black and other non-white cosplayers often feel excluded because non-white characters are rarely featured prominently in the fantasy worlds of comics. They are often relegated to the roles of sidekicks or villains rather than the superheroes.

But Black Panther, which features a black lead and a predominantly black cast, offers a multifaceted depiction of African life where people of color play both the villains and the heroes. These characters are transforming the playing field for non-white cosplayers like Tamara Heredia, a black cosplayer from Houston, Texas. …

(12) ANCIENT SAILORS. Learn Moana’s real history — “DNA sheds light on settlement of Pacific”.

Prof Reich, who is lead author of the study in Current Biology, added that Vanuatu was a “gateway to the remote Pacific islands… through that region of Vanuatu and neighbouring islands, people spread all over the Pacific”.

The first people to arrive in the islands belonged to the Lapita culture, who expanded out of Taiwan between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, reaching Vanuatu about 3,000 years ago. “They were really talented seafaring people,” said Dr Cosimo Posth, from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. Dr Posth was co-author of the study in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Their secret was the specialised outrigger canoe, which is characterised by the addition of lateral support floats which stabilise the main hull. This innovation, says Dr Posth, “allowed them to cover immense distances of the ocean”.

(13) BUTLER TALK. The Pasadena (CA) Museum of History will host a lecture, “Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler”, on March 29 at 6:30. Tickets now on sale.

Join Natalie Russell, Assistant Curator of Literary Collections at the Huntington Library and curator of the recent Huntington exhibition, Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler, for this lecture in celebration of Womens History Month and in conjunction with the new exhibition Dreaming the Universe. Octavia E. Butler was the first female African American writer to make science fiction her career. A shy, only child from Pasadena, she dreamed of ordinary people in extraordinary worlds, and extraordinary people in ordinary worlds, and put them on the page. Her stories brought the voice of women of color to a genre traditionally dominated by white men. That powerful voice tackled issues, not just about race, but themes that continue to resonate with a wide audience: power, identity, gender, class, the environment, and what it means to be human.

This program is presented in partnership with the Historical Society of Southern California – George A. V. Dunning Lecture Series.

Tickets include light refreshments and entrance to the exhibition Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California starting at 5:30 pm. Tickets: Members $10; General $15. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended, visit https://octaviabutlerlecture.brownpapertickets.com.

(14) APPRENTICED TO A PILOT. From 2012, John Hodgman presents “Dana Gould as Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius as Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain.” And I’ll throw in a twisted Gilbert & Sullivan reference as the headline.

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

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/3/18 Scrolling Occupants Of Interpixellary Craft

  1. The worst thing about the whole Terry Goodkind cover thing is that I’d very happily read a book about the character on that cover, who looks competent and badass. I just don’t want to read one by Terry Goodkind. I hope that model does well in her life.

  2. re: Goodkind’s boots complaint: Fantasy characters usually travel by horse. If that’s the case here, then those boots look practical and functional to me. And the rest of her apparel, pose, general depiction, etc. is a far cry from sexist in my opinion. You don’t have to go back to the 70’s for examples…see the cover of Star Trek Discovery Desperate Hours or the original US cover of Gardens of the Moon.

    1st fifth!?

  3. @6: How could PKD complain about covers like that, considering what was inside? IIRC there are covers like that on books that are much less mind-blown; that one seems appropriate — even somewhat relevant — to the weirdness of the story.

  4. 12) Fascinating! I was entranced by the maps and all the information in New Zealand museums about the origins of the Maori and how it tied into the expansion into Polynesia. Looks like those maps and routes might have to be updated a bit.

  5. Meredith Moment:

    Sisters of the Revolution, an anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, is on sale at Amazon on Kindle for $0.99US.

  6. [1]
    The concept intrigued me. The contest was laughing. The contest was settled. The result was a bit. The result was a bit. The result was this comment.

    I decided there should be another paragraph. I decided they should be made affair. I decided on a letter of letter adviser. I speak of a matter of life and breath. I studied him with such measure and point. I stepped into the darkness and peered. I stepped back and evaluated the results.

    There was a file, containing many scrolls. There was a fire, wheeling a blubber. They were built to descent into the bouquet. *** The apparatus indicates that the first few times. The calculator wondered if the first steps. The scrolls turned out to be full of pixels.

    The results were far too subtle to evaluate right away. He reminded himself a little of embarkation or anybody. A pretty woman of little son. Because the counts listened in. Not yet anything like. But now or not through. I may very well go back.

    The repeated sentence and trio of asterisks were both actual results.

  7. Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. Paul caught hold of the telepather, took a deep sigh of white pattern from his lower lip currents. Poor dear Mr. Markovian, Wilmer and Ernie of St. Anthrus are few. Four men left something to every few, beneath the surface of Archie. Four men went out against the dark side, and became, increasingly harmless. From their hearts are the things around us I can use, said Paul. Yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.

    ***Content may be banned in Boston. Consult your local laws.
    ***Final sentence entered in gradient abbreviated for, well… brevity.

  8. I’ve seen “MASH” and I’ve seen “M*A*S*H”, but I think this scroll may be the first time I’ve seen “MAS*H”. 🙂

    @Chip Hitchcock: It doesn’t say PKD did complain about any covers. It simply suggests that these are some he might have complained about, were he wont to do so.

    And writing really weird, mind-blowing stuff that twists brains doesn’t mean you can’t think a cover is completely non-representational of your work. Or badly rendered. Or simply ugly.

    Again, I don’t know if Dick ever did complain about any of his covers, but I can certainly imagine why he might. The cover that Goodkind is complaining about, for example, is very nice art, but would make absolutely no sense on the front of The Man in the High Castle or Ubik. 🙂

  9. Oh tell me the way to the next protein bar.
    Oh, dont ask why
    Oh dont ask why

    @Kip You text does remind me of Barefoot in the head.

  10. Cover art is a tricky subject in the relation between a midlist author and their editor at a pulblishing house. I reviewed Charles de Lint’s The Mystery Of Grace and included all there covers.

    The top one of the sexy Latina in tats was the one chosen by Tor editing for the hardcover edition; the skeleton puppet is the one on the galley I’ve here; and the middle one is I think trade paper.

    I’m told the original was considered too depressing and not, errrr, sexy enough for the intended younger (presumably) male audience.

  11. Chip Hitchcock: How could PKD complain about covers like that, considering what was inside?

    I’m reading yours as a rhetorical question. (At least, I didn’t mean to imply he did complain.)

  12. The cover in (6) makes me think of Terry Gilliam. Perhaps a big foot is about to come down from the top of the book and squash everything flat.

  13. Back in the days of Usenet, Bujold’s covers were so bad and her sales were so high that I asked once just what exactly it would take to get a decent artist involved.

    Alas, not even Bujold herself knew.

  14. Back in the early 80s, I was meeting with the sales rep for Ace Books, and he had cover flats for the season’s forthcoming titles, among them Charles de Lint’s Riddle of the Wren (his first book, as I recall). The rep admitted that the art was really bad, no one liked it, and that it would be changed for the published book. And it was … to a William Morris-like border and and calligraphic title, no artwork at all. I doubt it sold many copies, but it was an improvement!

  15. That Japanese cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the only one I know of that includes a Mercer box viewscreen (showing Mercer in the desert).

  16. Robert Reynolds on March 4, 2018 at 7:04 am said:

    Meredith Moment:

    Sisters of the Revolution, an anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, is on sale at Amazon on Kindle for $0.99US.

    Yoinked for the same price from BN.com/Nook. And thank you!

  17. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little:

    My pleasure. The email I got only mentioned Amazon, so thanks for mentioning BN.com/Nook. Excellent book thus far.

  18. Paul Weimer re: Maori origins
    There are fair-sized error bars in guesses about Polynesian history – a museum display of course tends to simplify while conveying the ‘correct’ overall sense. From a quick skim this latest addition to the fairly thin set of evidence is a bit of a tweak. I’ve got the lovely
    Vaka Moana book, acquired when I realised that my school education on the subject needed updating!

  19. Standing hard upon the sky, he began strikes me as a really intriguing sentence.

  20. I think every author has complained about a cover at least once — the cover doesn’t match the idea in the author’s head, or it’s considered “commercial” by the sales department, which has a different set of criteria from the art department, or it just flat out sucks. I’ve had a vast amount of provocation myself — one editor told me the person who did the artwork “knows how to put paint on canvas,” which I thought should be the very minimum for an artist.

    The thing is, though, you don’t put your complaints up on Facebook, or urge your fans to make fun of the cover, or yell at the art director, because these things are — say it with me — unprofessional. Also, they never do any good. The editor is convinced they know best and the poor idealistic writer has no idea what goes on in the mean streets of the marketplace. And sometimes they’re even right. I’ve never noticed a giant rise or fall in sales due the cover, anyway.

    Now leaving Day 17 of the worst cold of my life. If anyone has experienced it — coughing and lethargy seem to be the main symptoms — do you have a guess as to how much longer it’ll go on?

  21. @Paul Weimer: ISTM that the museum is hardly unique in its need to amend; we keep finding substantial missing bits of human spread into the Americas, and even ~human evolution altogether (one bit of upset made Discover‘s top 10 science stories for 2017). It’s unlikely we’re done discovering, given that analytical tools are still improving.

    @Peer: so now you’re running Weilld?

    @Jamoche: what it took was someone who cared. I don’t know whether anyone at Baen cared about the art — Bujold was hardly the only writer given senselessly-jammed covers — but NESFA actually asked her what the people looked like.

    @Lisa Goldstein: sympathies; my partner brought back something which hit me similarly after Thanksgiving, and lasted almost until New Year’s (vs the 1-2 weeks my colds usually run, and the ~1 week they were sick). It may be time for a cough suppressant to give your body a chance to heal the irritation, but you should talk to a medico; mine was alarmed that I was losing sleep to coughing even though my lungs sounded clear.

  22. @Lisa–Sorry to report that if it’s any kin to the one my wife and I contracted back in January, it might hang on for the best (or worst) part of a month. Look out for bronchitis, which followed on my wife’s version. (And I’m still coughing a bit five weeks on.) Could be worse–I’ve heard that this year’s flu is a real steamroller.

  23. 14) Dana Gould (on his first CD) does an amazing spot on impersonation of Vincent Price. That he could do a multilayered one is impressive. (Kind of like a Looney Tune where Mel Blanc does a Danny Kaye impersonation while voicing Daffy Duck).

  24. Paul Weimer, errolwi: I can already second a recommendation for the Vaka Moana book – and I haven’t gotten that far into it as yet (when I left it out in easy access for reading, one of my sons knocked it over – on purpose – enough times to crack the spine. So it’s tucked away and I keep forgetting to finish it.)

  25. The thing is, though, you don’t put your complaints up on Facebook, or urge your fans to make fun of the cover

    This.

    Since this was actually the -second- book this artist did for that series, and there was (I gather?) no public drama over the previous cover–which was very similar to this one in terms of style, tone, palette, model, costume and props, etc…. I’m curious about whether there was private behind-the-scenes discord over the first cover and, having been unsuccessful in getting his publisher to assign a different cover artist or to allow him more input in the cover process, Goodkind decided to take his quarrel public? Or, by contrast, did his current behavior seem to the publisher to appear out of the blue, as it seems to the general public (and apparently to the artist, too)?

    It seems surprising that this public blow-up would be over a SECOND cover that’s so similar to the first in the series, when Goodkind has not (so far as one knows, that is) expressed objections to the first cover.

  26. /CoverStalk! Though here in 0346, I’m not sure we know what books are – let alone covers!

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