Pixel Scroll 4/17/17 The Godstalk Dis-Scrolls the Pixels

(1) ASK AGAIN LATER. While quizzing CBS Interactive president Marc DeBevoise, Vulture asked when we’ll see Star Trek: Discovery.

I have to ask you about Star Trek: Discovery. It’s been delayed a bit, and you parted ways with Bryan Fuller. You still haven’t announced a premiere date, or even a launch window. Where is that right now? And how big of deal is that going to be?

It’s going great, I’ve actually been up there [to the set]. It is, you know, phenomenal. It is huge. And we’re very excited about the content, the creators, the actors, all coming together. As you said, we’re not tied to any specific release date. It’ll be there when we’re ready to do it, and when we feel it’s in a great place. We’re not worried about anything here. We’re excited, and we’ll have more specifics as we get closer to what will likely be the release dates.

Is it likely going to be the fall?

We’re not stating.

Which prompted ScienceFiction.com to give its post about this news the title “To Boldy Delay: CBS Still Non-Committal About When ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Will Actually Premiere”.

(2) WORST-CASE SCENARIO. Chuck Tingle has a backup plan if CBS keeps postponing the series:

(3) WHO’S WHO? So, have they picked the next Doctor Who? Bookies are taking no chances.

Now there has been no official announcement but the finger has so strongly been pointing in the direction of Kris Marshall, that Ladbrokes bookies have suspended all bets on the actor getting the gig.

(4) INTO THE FRAY. Kristine Smith is another sff writer who’s become more active in politics since November, as she explains to Book View Café readers:

Like so many other folks, I was driven by the results of the last election to become more involved in the political side of things. I joined/rejoined organizations, donated money, read blogs, subscribed to magazines. But then I thought about it some more, and for the first time decided I wanted to take it one step further. I had followed so many discussions in which it was stated that work at the state and local levels had become even more important, and tried to think of what I could contribute.

One of the organizations that I had rejoined was the Sierra Club. I had always loved the outdoors in general, but in addition I had come to care about the region of northeast Illinois in which I lived — the local state and city parks and open spaces had come to mean a lot to me, and the area as a whole was faced with a number of environmental issues. So I read the Club newsletters, combed through the websites, and decided that I would apply to join the local state lobbying team.

… I was told that it takes three years to build the skills and knowledge necessary to be a good lobbyist. We have to hold our own against the people who do this for a living, who’ve been doing it for years. While I felt good about what I had experienced to that point, the proof is in the legislation that passes, and that process can take years and is at the mercy of the push and pull that occurs with any negotiation. At this point, I think I want to try and stick it out. It’s how things get done.

(5) ONLY A MOTHER. Laura J. Miller, a reviewer for The New Yorker, loves Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Borne:

…The postapocalyptic imagination is shot through with unacknowledged wish fulfillment.

Not in VanderMeer’s hands, though. VanderMeer belongs to a loose group of literary writers, the New Weird, who bend the old devices of genre fiction to unaccustomed ends. His best—and best-known—work is the Southern Reach Trilogy, three novels published in succession, in 2014. The saga recounts the experiences of several people charged with investigating a stretch of coastal land where something uncanny has occurred. Within the borders of Area X, all human inhabitants have vanished, and the natural world has returned to its pristine state, without a trace of man-made pollutants. Much to the alarm of the authorities, the border of Area X is expanding. In a startling reversal, the world shaped by humanity—what one character describes as “dirty, tired, imperfect, winding down, at war with itself”—has been contaminated and invaded by purity.

Rachel’s city is the opposite of Area X. The river that rings it is a “stew of heavy metals and oil and waste that generated a toxic mist.” Not long ago, a shadowy operation known as the Company set up a biotechnology facility that cranked out freakish new organisms, then set them loose on the city’s streets to see what happened. Mord is the result of one such experiment, a creature manufactured to protect the Company from the increasingly restive locals. Now Mord runs amok, like the dragon in Spenser’s “Faerie Queene.” Many of the survivors have begun worshipping him as a god.

A bear the size of a department store given the power of flight: VanderMeer couldn’t care less about technological plausibility, and “Borne” isn’t, at heart, science fiction. With the toppling of the old forms of order, Rachel, Wick, and the other residents of the city have been plunged into a primordial realm of myth, fable, and fairy tale. Their world is a version of the lost and longed-for territory of fantasy and romance, genres that hark back to an elemental, folkloric past roamed by monsters and infested with ghastly wonders.…

(6) PLANS FOR THIRD GUARDIANS MOVIE. James Gunn will direct and write Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3.

James Gunn is officially set to return to the Guardians Of The Galaxy universe to write and direct the third installment in the Marvel franchise. The director made the announcement today via his Facebook page, ahead of the start of the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 U.S. press junkets.

Beginning by answering a couple of questions that he knew he was going to get asked during the press tour, Gunn went straight to “the question that comes up perhaps the most is, ‘What’s the deal with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and are you going to direct?’”

“So, after many months of ruminations and discussions, I know the answer. I could save this answer for the first, random interviewer to ask me during the press junket but instead I thought I’d share it with the most important people in the Guardiansverse – you, the fans, who have been so incredibly supportive and enthusiastic over the past five years, it has moved me to tears on a regular basis,” Gunn explained. “So, yes, I’m returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

(7) WHY PUPPIES CAN’T COUNT. Well, I really don’t know why. Especially a doctor!

Dr. Mauser in “Where’s the Beef?” notes the dropoff in Hugo nominating votes since last year.

This, by the way, is not good financial news for WorldCon. 2-3,000 memberships is $100-$150,000 they won’t have in their coffers, and that kind of money buys a LOT of Wooden Asterisks. The Sad Puppies might have been the best thing to happen to WorldCon in a long time, but now that they’ve “Gone and started their own award” (which really, they didn’t) some WorldCon treasurer is probably wishing they were still around.

A supporting membership is 35 Euros, about $37 US. The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

(8) CAN’T FIND HIM. Meanwhile, on Chuck Tingle’s timeline….


  • Born April 17, 1997Locus Online premiered. Congratulations and happy anniversary to Mark R. Kelly.

(10) IT’S A MYSTERY. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is experiencing premieres of the kind of movies that people in the year 3000 will find hard to understand. Heck, The Traveler is right there in 1962 and he doesn’t understand…how some of them got made in the first place….

Those of you deeply in the know are aware that Sid Pink made the Scandinavian answer to Godzilla last year, Reptilicus, and Ib Melchior brought it to the states (where it has had a limited release).  It was, to all accounts, pretty awful.

The unlikely Danish-American team of Sid Pink and Ib Melchior is back, gracing our drive-ins with the latest American International Pictures extravaganza, Journey to the Seventh Planet.  It is a space exploration flick, as one might guess, and (praising damned faintly) it’s not as bad as it could have been.

(11) FLY UNTIED. A matter of “great” concern: “Untangling The Mystery Of Why Shoelaces Come Untied”.

Chris Daily-Diamond, the third co-author, shot the video and did a lot of the legwork (pun intended) on the experiments.

Based on the video, and the other tests they did on shoelace knots, the team says two things happen when a lace comes untied. First, the impact of the shoe on the ground loosens the knot. With the knot loosened, the whipping of the free ends of the laces — as the leg swings back and forth — makes the laces slip.

As the foot hits the ground and the laces swing repeatedly, the knot loses integrity until, in a matter of seconds, it fails altogether.

The researchers also have some advice to keep shoes from coming untied. It’s all in how you tie the knot.

Chip Hitchcock opines, “This is just the sort of work Proxmire would have had a field day with — ignoring that the researchers think that learning about macro knots will help with the study of molecular knots.”

(12) BACK INTO THE TREES. Why is everybody trying to make robots walk? A crop-monitoring robot will swing like Tarzan: see the video here.

The prototype robot, called Tarzan, will gather information about the plants and send it to the farmer.

The team plan to test Tarzan on a soybean farm later this year and believe it will be ready for release in three years.

(13) RED PENCIL. An NPR editor is ready to surgically remove a hackneyed phrase from the news writing lexicon – “It Sounds Like Science Fiction But… It’s A Cliché”.

In the 1994 film Timecop, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a police officer who uses a time machine to catch criminals. Time-traveling law enforcement may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but if one researcher has her way, it will soon become science fact.

See what I did there? That paragraph encapsulates the most tired cliché of science writing: “It sounds like science fiction but it’s true. ”

Sounds like Sci-Fi gets used everywhere, from CNN, to The New York Times, to yes … here on NPR. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it. The best examples usually include a reference to a mid-1990s sci-fi film, just to make crystal-clear what science fiction this particular science fact refers to.

In 15 years of reporting, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve run into “Sounds like Sci-Fi.” And last year, I became a science editor here at NPR. NPR’s Ethics Handbook carries a warning on cliches:

“Reporters and news writers are under deadline pressure, and these are the phrases that spring to mind. The editor’s job is not to let them get away with it.”

(14) ROBOT CENSUS. Rise of the robots: a summary.

The world’s robot population is expanding quickly – sales of industrial robots are growing by around 13 per cent a year, meaning the robot “birth rate” is almost doubling every five years.

There has long been a trend to “offshore” manufacturing to cheaper workers in emerging markets. Now, robots are part of the “reshoring” trend that is returning production to established centres.

They do more and more things – they’re lettuce-pickers, bartenders, hospital porters.

But they’re still not doing as much as we’d once expected.

In 1962 – a year after the Unimate was introduced – the American cartoon The Jetsons imagined Rosie, a robot maid doing all the household chores. That prospect still seems remote.

(16) WHAT IS THE LAW? Eleanor Arnason introduces us to “The Law of Jante”.

From The Guardian:

The Dano-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose wrote about it more than 80 years ago, setting down the regulating mechanisms that operate on Scandinavians from below, in what he called the Law of Jante. According to Sandemose, the 10 commandments that regulate our social behavior are:

1. You mustn’t think you’re special.

2. You mustn’t think you’re as good as we are.

3. You mustn’t think you’re smarter than us.

4. You mustn’t imagine you’re any better than us.

5. You mustn’t think you know more than we do.

6. You mustn’t think you’re more important than us.

7. You mustn’t think you’re good at anything.

8. You mustn’t laugh at us.

9. You mustn’t think anyone cares about you.

10. You mustn’t think you can teach us anything.

I think these ten commandments are a bit harsh. But a lot of them sound familiar to me as a Minnesotan.

(17) DOCTOR HUMOR. While visiting Martha Wells’ Tumblr, I found she had a series of GIFs with a really amusing anecdote about a Doctor Who actor.

(18) DELANY. Andrew Porter sends along a link to the livestreamed video of Samuel R. Delany’s 75th birthday celebration at the NYRSF Readings with a note, “In wide shots, you can see Moshe Feder sitting at upper center; I am in yellow shirt, upper right.”


Yesterday, the folks at Ten Speed Press took to Instagram to announce that Marie Kondo will be releasing her next book at the end of June. Her 2011 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has gained near-biblical significance for those of us whose domestic interiors (and resultant psychological states) resembles natural disaster sites. “I believe this must be the first time that a book from Japan has sold so well except manga and fiction,” the editor-in-chief of Unmark Publishing, Kondo’s original Japanese publishing house, once commented of that original book’s stratosphere-shattering success. Well, looks like Kondo’s trying to capitalize on that territory, too. Her next book is a manga.

Marie Kondo’s new book comes out June 27, 2017. It’s available for preorder here.

(20) FREE SAMPLES. Todd Allen’s Kickstarter appeal to publish his collection Legal Termination of a Warlock and Other Tales needs another $424 to fund with 23 days to go.

Mister Lewis calls himself a “physics consultant,” but what he really consultants on are problems that defy the laws of physics.  Problems like whether there’s a supernatural reason all those musicians are dying or how to build an ironclad legal case for firing a warlock from your company.  And like any consultant, he frequently finds himself doing unpleasant work for unpleasant people.

It’s a genre bender filtering urban fantasy, horror and detective fiction through a sardonic worldview.  The influences are The Night Stalker by way of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Art Buchwald.

I’ve already written a couple stories about Mister Lewis and I’d like to try something a little different as I move forward with the series.  I’d like to write a story each month – a novelette or longish short story.  I’m calling it novelettes, but if you wanted to call a monthly e-zine, I wouldn’t argue with you.  The idea is to have a new story show up each month like an issue of Batman… except without the serials and annoying crossover events.

What will these read like?  Lucky you, I’ve already written two adventures and they’re online for free, so you can make an informed decision:

(21) CELEBRITY EASTER EGGS. A lot of sff and other amusing references here:

On this episode, see how we took the faces from your favorite TV show characters and superstars and turned them into an Easter Egg!


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, and Jeff VanderMeer for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

54 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/17/17 The Godstalk Dis-Scrolls the Pixels

  1. Anybody remember The Wire episode in which two of the cops realise they’re in a room in abandoned row house where lots of murders took place? If so, you’ll remember they circle around saying just fuck over and over again.

    I just attempted to read a novel published by Baen Books which listed its editor as a certain Puppy approved one that had nine serious editing mistakes in the first chapter such as incorrect use of it’s to allowing the writer to have a scene where the setup for ir was missing. Lots of fucks occurred before I gave up on that novel.

  2. @17: That’s a great anecdote. I do wonder whether Smith just assumed, or has gotten used to that I-know-who-you-are-but-I’m-not-going-to-go-fanboy-on-you look.


    The Puppies’ continued attempts to insist on their importance, and that Worldcon is dying without them, is so adorable. 😀

    MidAmeriCon II Final Member totals: 7,338 (4,602 A, 2,736 S)
    Worldcon75 as of beginning April (4 months out): 6,132 (4,052 A, 2,080 S)

  4. @Cat Eldridge:

    I believe the episode to which you refer was season 1, episode 4 or 5. And in that case, it was not a room where lots of murders took place, they were reviewing a crime scene where one murder took place.

    The Wire “fuck” scene

    (Later in the series, there was a rowhouse discovered where lots of murders took place, but I don’t recall a “fuck” based scene in that one. But I’ve only watched the last couple of seasons once each.)

    (Okay, I love The Wire, alright? Also Homicide (book and…um…some of the tv show?) and The Corner (book).)

    (And to think, I originally sat down to comment on that awesome limited edition Daffy print used as the picture in (9). *bounces away laughing maniacally*)

  5. @Cat Eldridge: One of my favourite scenes in any tv show ever! I’m going to concentrate on that instead of the epic edit fail you later describe.

  6. Also see I bought a Vampire Motorcycle for something similar. Though without a budget.

  7. (11) To be precise, the Law of Jante was written by Aksel Sandemose to describe his experiences in his birth town of Nykøbing Mors (which was made generic by calling it Jante). As such, it’s not so much a law of Scandinavia but how Sandemose viewed the social dynamics of small-town life in Scandinavia in the period 1900-1930.

    I believe Arnason’s framing is off. It’s much more about repressive social dynamics and resistance to change than anything else, and the Law of Jante is distinctly anti-solidaric. It’s primary target is the working class.

  8. (2) WORST-CASE SCENARIO. “Starship Enterguys” – That’s a spoof we can get behind.

    (10) IT’S A MYSTERY. Your description reminds me of the time-travel comment box we used to have around here. In the year 3000, people will still be missing that wacky datestamp!

  9. @ Cat Eldridge:

    I just attempted to read a novel published by Baen Books which listed its editor as a certain Puppy approved one that had nine serious editing mistakes in the first chapter such as incorrect use of it’s to allowing the writer to have a scene where the setup for ir was missing. Lots of fucks occurred before I gave up on that novel.

    You’re not talking about editing there, you’re talking about copy editing. Different job, different person.

    The job of an editor at a company like Baen (or DAW, Tor, Bantam, Pyr, Ace, etc., etc.) includes many admin duties that don’t involve reading or editing (most editors read MSs on their own time rather than at work), but when they do edit, they’re looking at story, not apostrophes. Looking at apostrophes comes later in the process and is a different person’s job (the copy editor). Some publishers also employ proofreaders for the galleys (final page proofs), and their job also includes looking at apostrophes.

    What you saw in that book may be evidence of bad copy editing and proofreading for that book, or an absence of copy editing and proofreading for that book. But, either way, that’s a different job than the editor does.

    Very often, if the editor and writer are people who engage with each other (this is not always the case; some editors are so disengaged, it’s not clear if they even read the books a writer delivers or know what she writes), there may be a lot of discussion before anything is written or delivered, or while the author is working on the not-yet-finished book. Editors may do line editing on a delivered MS, particularly if the writing is rough or inexperienced, but a lot of what they do is say things to the writer like, “Rhett’s decision to walk out on Scarlet is too abrupt to be believable after all the years he spent pursuing her. You need to show the gradual breakdown of the marriage. We need some scenes where we see him growing disenchanted with her and getting more withdrawn and distant.” This is the sort of thing they do, not correcting apostrophes.

  10. Having a scene that wasn’t set up properly isn’t the copy editor/proofreader’s problem. That’s a story problem.

    I’ve seen Baen books have mistakes that not only a copy editor would have caught (which means they don’t have one), but that a spell-check would have caught.

  11. (11) I no longer have to piss around with laces. So many places in Asia, you have to take off your shoes before you enter, and having to untie and retie laces at the threshold (especially if it’s cold) is a real drag, so I bought laceless (ish) shoes. Or I wear flip flops in hot countries. And my climbing shoes are velcro-fastened.

  12. (2) The title bugs me. It should either be Starships Enterguys or Starship Entersguys.

    (11) My children’s claims are validated, it seems.

    It Files the Pixel on Its Skin, or Else It Gets the Scroll Again.

  13. For some odd reason the classic Ramsey Campbell collection ‘Demons By Daylight’ is currently free on Amazon.

  14. But, either way, that’s a different job than the editor does.

    The editor is still responsible for the editing work done on the book by the people below her. If a book contains so many mistakes that a reader bails in the first chapter, the top editor on the book should be hiring better editors (or more of them).

  15. There is a scroll in everything, that’s how the pixel gets in

  16. @rcade: IIUC (per Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s discussion in Making Book), copy editors are contractors; I suspect that good fast ones (and maybe even good ones) are not cheap, so a beancounter rather than an editor may control who gets hired. (I don’t know how Baen specifically is managed, so I can’t swear this is true for them.) TNH also notes that even good copy editors can have bad days — although this seems extraordinarily bad. I was not happy with the copy editing on the latest Wen Spencer (also from Baen, but not this bad), but I didn’t think much of the story editing either — and IIRC Baen books aren’t any cheaper, so Ruskin’s alleged maxim (via Baskin-Robbins) doesn’t apply here.

  17. Loren Nagle: RE: 10: Reptillicus is, coincidentally the first episode of the new MST3K

    I doubt it was a coincidence, though how they knew about this in 1962 is hard to say.

  18. I’ve been writing computer books since the 1990s. When I began I had a team of around nine people working on the book at the publisher. Today it’s half of that or less. I would imagine the same trend is happening in SF/F publishing.

    The only reason I brought up the responsibility of the top editor is because those are the people we’re tasked with choosing for Hugos.

    Personally, I’d rather see the Hugo committee ask each editor to choose up to three works that will be listed with that person on the ballot. Then we can judge the excellence of the books instead of making guesses about editing prowess.

    I wonder if it’s permissible for the current Hugo committee to ask editors to do that and list the works on the ballot.

  19. Going by a lot of books I’ve seen recently, I think publishers have stopped hiring copy-editors or proofreaders or both. I proofread a book that had a truly horrible continuity error — the Introduction was supposed to summarize everything that had happened in previous books, but in this case it also mentioned that a character had died, and that character would only die a few pages into this book. I pointed it out, but I don’t know if it was changed. It might have been too late.

  20. Peer, for my phone and ebook chargers, I actually made flat reels out of cardboard to wind them on. Then I can unwind as much as necessary to plug them in, but they don’t get tangled and knotted. (A twist-tie holds the wire in place on the reel.) This, I recognize, might be more work than you think the results are worth.

  21. The first volume of Carol Emshwiller’s COLLECTED SHORT STORES has a good number of properly spelled typos. There is a different between “there” and “their”. but it was fine for the computer.

  22. Robert Whitaker Sirignano: THE JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET: the first reel of it has some really bad dialog.
    Of course (also) they didn’t use the planet’s name.

    Maybe they were confused and thought they were writing a post for Mad Genius Club.

  23. In the collection of Bester stories “Virtual Unrealities” there were some strange typographic errors, particularly in the story “The Pi Man” – specifically, – the character “H” (in a slightly different font) was used in place of the 1/4 symbol, “1” replaces “+” and “5” replaces “=”, which rendered an algebraic expression in the story into complete nonsense.

  24. 5 – I really, huh, well I don’t know if the word enjoyed is the correct one here. I read the Area X books and they made thoughts happen and it was weird and I found the weirdness appealing and look forward to reading Borne.

  25. CRL – Thanks! I don’t know if I’ve read that one or not, but it’s been years since I read anything by Ramsey Campbell, so it’ll be a good read, regardless.

    (7) reminds me that I haven’t bought my supporting membership yet. Man, I would never try to argue with Dr. Mauser. He has a mind like a steel trap in the alternate universe he inhabits. If his alternate facts were true in this reality, he’d be one of the good guys.

  26. Additionally, it’s famously hard to find (and keep) good copy editors.

    I’ve had excellent copy editing on about a half dozen of my books over the years. And mediocre-to-astonishingly-bad copy editing on about 20 of them over the years.

    In addition to copy editors who miss many errors, there are copy editors (I’ve had at least four) who introduce many errors into a book. In one of the instances where I dealt with this, the publisher refused to remove those errors, claiming it would “cost too much” because they’d already flowed the galleys, and so a book heavily riddled with eye-poppingly idiotic errors added by the copy editor was released. (Mercifully, the book has been out-of-print for over 20 years.)

    Good copy editors are highly valued (and certainly should be), because they aren’t easy to find.

  27. P.S. I remember once getting a copy edit so bad, I swore that if I ever met the person who did it, I’d punch them.

    A year or two later, I did meet that person–quite by chance. And it was a very nice young person, earnest and well-meaning and sweet… And I couldn’t bring myself to hit them. Or even speak firmly to them,

    OTOH, a friend once received a copy edit so horrendous (full of errors, but also full of offensive margin notes and intentional insults), she called her editor to complain… and when they tracked down the CE for a sharp talking-to… they discovered the CE had checked into a mental health ward right after delivering the copy edit.

  28. Was your friend Abdul Al-Hazared and the book in question the Necronomicon?

  29. Hopefully that’s the end of it. The whole saga has been a bit like pulling teeth.

  30. @ Lisa Goldstein
    You’re right. They appear to be running spellchecks, none of which can distinguish the horde amassing the hoard from the hoard amassed by the horde. Why this error is so common I have no idea.
    I’m a copy-editor and I’d like to thank all the authors who spare me from having to hand-correct grammar and continuity errors as I read (an occupational disability), notably CJ Cherryh and Ursula K. Le Guin. I remember once thinking I had caught Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz in a grammar error, but I was pleased to discover I was wrong.

    @ Aaron
    Thanks for the link to Alyssa Wong’s fine post.

  31. Robert Whitaker Sirignano: Of course (also) they didn’t use the planet’s name.

    Mike Glyer: Maybe they were confused and thought they were writing a post for Mad Genius Club.


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