Pixel Scroll 5/13/20 You Can’t Sleep ’Cause The World’s On Fire, Don’t Read Me If You’d Prefer The Shire, Techno Thriller

(1) FLIP THE SCRIPT. “James McAvoy to Lead ‘Sandman’ Audible Drama” says The Hollywood Reporter. Wait a second – Michael Sheen is going to be Lucifer?

James McAvoy is stepping into a dream role. The actor will voice star as Dream in Audible’s adaptation of The Sandman, the classic DC/Vertigo comic book written by Neil Gaiman.

McAvoy, known for playing Prof. X in four X-Men films, will lead a cast that also includes Riz Ahmed, Justin Vivian Bond as Desire, Arthur Darvill, Kat Dennings as Death, Taron Egerton, William Hope, Josie Lawrence, Miriam Margolyes as Despair, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis and Michael Sheen as Lucifer.

(2) NO MIDWESTCON IN 2020. Joel Zakem, who has attended 52 straight Midwestcons, nevertheless considers this a wise decision:  

After being held annually since 1950, Midwestcon 71, scheduled for June 25-28, 2020, in Cincinnati, OH., has unsurprisingly been cancelled. Everyone who has a hotel reservation should receive a cancellation notice with verification number from the hotel – no need to call them. Checks for pre-registrations (the only way to pre-reg fir Midwestcon) have not been cashed.

(3) DOOMSDAY BOOKS. The LA Times’ Martin Wolk tapped Emily St. John Mandel and other writers for their recommendations: “Essential end-of-the-world reading list offers a glimpse of the abyss”.

 …“I would not recommend reading ‘Station Eleven’ in the middle of a pandemic,” Mandel told the L.A. Times in an interview.

Yet many people are doing just that: The book is selling briskly just as Mandel’s new novel of financial disaster, “The Glass Hotel,” settles into the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Mandel joins the L.A. Times Book Club on May 19 for a virtual discussion of these two eerily timely novels….

If you go: Book Club

Emily St. John Mandeljoins the L.A. Times Book Club in conversation with reporter Carolina A. Miranda.

When: 7 p.m. May 19

Where: Free virtual event livestreaming on the Los Angeles Times Facebook Page and YouTube.

More info: latimes.com/bookclub

(3.5) SFF JUSTIFIED. If it needs it. Esther Jones at The Conversation says “Science fiction builds mental resiliency in young readers”.  

Young people who are “hooked” on watching fantasy or reading science fiction may be on to something. Contrary to a common misperception that reading this genre is an unworthy practice, reading science fiction and fantasy may help young people cope, especially with the stress and anxiety of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am a professor with research interests in the social, ethical and political messages in science fiction. In my book “Medicine and Ethics in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction,” I explore the ways science fiction promotes understanding of human differences and ethical thinking.

While many people may not consider science fiction, fantasy or speculative fiction to be “literary,” research shows that all fiction can generate critical thinking skills and emotional intelligence for young readers. Science fiction may have a power all its own….

(4) FROZEN AT HOME. The Walt Disney Animation Studios today released “I Am With You” — At Home With Olaf.

Wherever you may be, here’s a special message from Olaf’s home to yours. “I Am With You” Music and Lyrics Written at Home by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Performed at Home by Josh Gad. Directed at Home by Dan Abraham.

(5) THE ROAD TO FURY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Five years after the fourth Mad Max movie took audiences by storm, the New York Times film critic Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) interviewed dozens of crew members, producers, writers and stars to weave together a compelling picture of how Fury Road came to be. In “’Mad Max: Fury Road’: The Oral History of a Modern Action Classic”,  he charts the course of its production through quotes from Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and writer/director George Miller.

…CHARLIZE THERON (Furiosa) I grew up on all the “Mad Max” movies — they’re very popular in South Africa. I remember being 12 and my dad letting me watch it with him. So I was like, “Oh yeah, I wanna be in a ‘Mad Max’ movie. Are you kidding me?”

[GEORGE] MILLER When someone is directing a film, they’re thinking about it every waking hour, and even processing it in their dreams. The problem is, if you’re a studio executive, you tend to think about it for 10 minutes on a Wednesday.

[GEORGE] MILLER When the ideas that you start off with are then comprehended by an audience at large out there, that’s ultimately what redeems the process for you. The Swahili storytellers have this quote: “The story has been told. If it was bad, it was my fault, because I am the storyteller. But if it was good, it belongs to everybody.” And that feeling of the story belonging to everybody is really the reward.

(6) FROM THE BATCAVE. Zach Baron, in “Robert Pattinson: A Dispatch From Isolation” in GQ, caught up with Pattinson last month as he stayed isolated in a London hotel room.  Pattinson says he’s living on food supplied by The Batman production until shooting resumes but isn’t doing any exercise.  He also says although he is in Christopher Nolan’s film Tenet, he can’t give anything away because he doesn’t understand the plot except that it doesn’t involve time travel.

…It’s possible that you couldn’t build a person more suited to this experience. Pattinson, who turned 34 in May, has spent his adult life separating himself from the rest of the world. He was 21 when he was cast in the first Twilight, as the lead vampire in what would become five increasingly popular movies about teen lust in the Pacific Northwest. The final installment of the franchise, which turned Pattinson and his costar, Kristen Stewart, into two of the more famous people in the world, came out in 2012 and grossed over $800 million worldwide. But by that time, he was already mostly gone.

(7) GOING FOR THE KO? It’s Reader Request time at John Scalzi’s Whatever. In “Reader Request Week 2020 #6: Pulling Punches in Criticism”, the reader’s question begins:

Do you ever hold back in your criticism of other artistic endeavors (movies for instance) out of fear or apprehension that it will open your own work to hostile/non constructive criticism and exclude you from future opportunities?

We already know what the answer is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to see Scalzi work it out.

(8) CAFFEINATED CARTOON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the May 8 Financial Times, behind a paywall, Neville Hawcock reviews Rick and Morty.

It could easily be so sweet, charming, whimsical.  An eccentric old scientist zips around the galaxy in his home-made flying saucer, accompanied by his grandson sidekick. Each cartoon episode brings a new alien peril and a new chance to prevail through pluck and ingenuity, You could be forgiven for imagining a cross between a Werther’s Original commercial and Star Trek.

Rick and Morty, however is anything but…

…That doesn’t mean it’s weary; it is consistently energetic, inventive, and witty, both in script and animation. To borrow a phrase from the late sci-fi writer Gardner Dozois, each 30-minute episode has a high bit-rate. Whereas some bingeable TV is like the unlimited cups of coffee you get in American diners, and endless warm wash, an evening with Rick and Morty has the jolting quality of an espresso spree.

(9) DOCTOR WHO FACTOID. Martin Morse Wooster also found this data point in Horatio Clare’s essay-review in the May 9 Financial Times.

The National Trust reports that while 30 percent of eight-to-11 year olds could not identify a magpie, 90 percent could spot a Dalek.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 13, 1994 The Crow premiered. It was directed by Alex Proyas, written by David J. Schow and John Shirley. It was produced by Jeff Most, Edward R. Pressman and Grant Hill.  It starred Brandon Lee in his final film appearance as he was killed in a tragic accident during filming. It’s based on James O’Barr’s The Crow comic book, and tells the story of Eric Draven (Lee), a rock musician who is revived to avenge the rape and murder of his fiancée, as well as his own death. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 13, 1876 – Harold De Lay.  Illustrated W.E.B. DuBois’ Quest of the Silver Fleece, pretty good since De Lay later did covers and interiors for Golden Fleece.  Five interiors for Frank Baum’s early Daughters of Destiny.  Four covers and thirty-eight interiors for Weird Tales, of Robert Bloch, Edmond Hamilton, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Manly Wade Wellman, Jack Williamson; here’s one.  Blue Bolt and The Human Torch for Marvel while it was under Funnies, Inc.; Treasure Island for Target Comics.  (Died 1950) [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1937 Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite as is the Isle of The Dead, To Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. I understand that John’s going to have a choice remembrance of him for us. (Died 1995.) [CE]
  • Born May 13, 1937 – Rudolf Zengerle.  Pioneer of the Risszeichner (German, “crack markers”) for Perry Rhodan – illustrators who draw schematics of robots, ships, weapons.  Zengerle did six dozen; here’s a Grand Battleship of the Blues.  Speaking of series, PR has sold over two billion copies worldwide.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1941 – John Vermeulen.  Flemish author; also sailor, diver, glider, horseman.  First SF novel at age 15.  Historical novels of Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Brueghel the Elder, Mercator, Nostradamus, da Vinci, translated into German, Japanese.  A dozen SF novels, as many each of thrillers, plays, books for children & young adults, shorter stories.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1946 – Marv Wolfman. Comics, novelizations, animation, for Dark Horse, DC, Disney, Eclipse, Image, Marvel (Editor-in-Chief 1975-1976), many more.  Pioneered writing credits when the Comics Code Authority said “No wolfmen; remove” (as was the rule at the time), DC said “But the writer’s name is Wolfman”, CCA said “Let’s see the name credit, then”, after which everybody got one.  Inkpot Award, 1979; Jack Kirby Awards, 1985-1986 (for Crisis on Infinite Earths, with George Pérez); named in Fifty Who Made DC Great,1985; National Jewish Book Award, 2007 (for Homeland); Scribe Award, 2007 (for novel based on Superman Returns).  Recently, see Man and Superman (2019, with Claudio Castellini).  [JH]
  • Born May 13, 1949 Zoë Wanamaker, 71. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories,” The End of the World” and “New Earth”. [CE]
  • Born May 13, 1951 Gregory Frost, 69. His retelling of The Tain is marvelous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same existing legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel though quite horrific

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) THINK OF SFF CONFINED TO A HAMSTER BALL. Is it possible that James Davis Nicoll found “Classic SF With Absolutely No Agenda Whatsoever…”? Uh, you’ve read his Tor.com posts before, haven’t you?

As happens from time to time, I recently noticed an author being subjected to complaints that their fiction has an “agenda,” that there are “political elements” in their story, that it touches on society, class, race, culture, gender, and history. As it happens, the calumniated author is one of those younger authors, someone who’s probably never owned a slide-rule or an IBM Selectric. Probably never had ink-well holes in their school desks. Undoubtedly, they may be missing context that I, a person of somewhat more advanced years, can provide…

(14) GOOD TO GO. “Inflatable e-scooter that fits in backpack unveiled”.

An inflatable e-scooter compact enough to be stored inside a commuter’s backpack has been unveiled in Japan.

The Poimo, developed by the University of Tokyo, can be inflated in just over a minute, using an electric pump.

The creators said they wanted to create a vehicle that minimised the potential for injury in the event of an accident.

However, experts say e-scooter rules still need to be clarified by the government before such modes of transport can be considered safe.

(15) I’LL BE MACK. “Scientists Make the World’s First Liquid Metal Lattice’. Tagline: “It’s like the Terminator, only much less murdery.”

Scientists from SUNY-Binghamton are developing new Terminator-like liquefying metals made from Field’s alloy. And in a fun twist, the lead researcher behind the study—which appears in the journal Additive Manufacturinghasn’t seen any films in the Terminator franchise.

“To be honest, I’ve never watched that movie!” Pu Zhang, a mechanical engineering professor, said in a statement. (It’s safe to assume he also missed out on The Secret World of Alex Mack.)

The term “additive manufacturing” refers broadly to technology like 3D printing, where you add material in order to build an item. That contrasts with subtractive manufacturing, like using a lathe and removing metal or wood in order to sculpt a final shape. But in this case, the liquid metal is used in a more complex process where a “shell skeleton” is 3D printed from rubber and metal and then filled with liquid metal lattice….

(16) HAZARD PAY. Casualties on the front lines of the culture war will get help: “In Settlement, Facebook To Pay $52 Million To Content Moderators With PTSD.

Facebook will pay $52 million to thousands of current and former contract workers who viewed and removed graphic and disturbing posts on the social media platform for a living, and consequently suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a settlement agreement announced on Tuesday between the tech giant and lawyers for the moderators.

Under the terms of the deal, more than 10,000 content moderators who worked for Facebook from sites in four states will each be eligible for $1,000 in cash. In addition, those diagnosed with psychological conditions related to their work as Facebook moderators can have medical treatment covered, as well as additional damages of up to $50,000 per person.

(17) HINTS FROM OUR AI OVERLORDS. A Harvard researcher finds “Predictive text systems change what we write”.

Study explores the effects of autocomplete features on human writing

When a human and an artificial intelligence system work together, who rubs off on whom? It’s long been thought that the more AI interacts with and learns from humans, the more human-like those systems become. But what if the reverse is happening? What if some AI systems are making humans more machine-like?

In a recent paper, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) explored how predictive text systems — the programs on our phones and computers that suggest words or phrases in our text messages and email — change how we write. The researchers found that when people use these systems, their writing becomes more succinct, more predictable and less colorful (literally).

…“We’ve known for a while that these systems change how we write, in terms of speed and accuracy, but relatively little was known about how these systems change what we write,” said Kenneth Arnold, a PhD candidate at SEAS and first author of the paper.

Arnold, with co-authors Krysta Chauncey, of Charles River Analytics, and Krzysztof Gajos, the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at SEAS, ran experiments asking participants to write descriptive captions for photographs.

…“While, for the most part, people wrote more efficiently with predictive text systems, this may have come at the cost of thoughtfulness. These kinds of effects would never have been noticed by traditional ways of evaluating text entry system, which treat people like transcribing machines and ignore human thoughtfulness. Designers need to evaluate the systems that they make in a way that treats users more like whole people.”

(18) IT WASN’T CASABLANCA THEN. “Scientists Might’ve Found the Most Dangerous Place in Earth’s History” claims Yahoo! News.

100 million years ago, Earth was a terrifying place. That’s according to a new paper in ZooKeys, which analyzed fossils from an area in southeastern Morocco also known as the Kem Kem beds. It was here that prehistoric animals such as “cartilaginous and bony fishes, turtles, crocodyliforms, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs” used to freely roam and hunt….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. ScreenRant’s headline is the best reason to watch the video: “Blade Runner 2049 Honest Trailer Can’t Explain Why Dune Was Greenlit After This”.

Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve is due to return with another highly ambitious and cerebral – not to mention, expensive – sci-fi epic later this year in the form of Dune, the first of a planned two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s touchstone 1965 novel. It’s a peculiar move for Warner Bros. purely from a business perspective, considering how much money they lost on Villeneuve’s last costly, thought-provoking, sci-fi feature. So naturally, as you’d expect, Screen Junkies points that out in their latest video.

With marketing for Dune now underway ahead of its release in December (assuming it’s not delayed to 2021), Screen Junkies has gone and released an Honest Trailer for Blade Runner 2049

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Joel Zakem, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

44 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/13/20 You Can’t Sleep ’Cause The World’s On Fire, Don’t Read Me If You’d Prefer The Shire, Techno Thriller

  1. @Andrew
    It reminds me of the “graduation writing test” I had in college, where I had to prove I could write in English. They finished by handing out essay topics, where we had to write an essay on the topic in 90 minutes. The topic I was handed was “Why I believe [blank]”, and I wrote on “why I believe SF is good for you”. I remember trying to make a lot of those points, citing authors. The notes/outline were in the blue book, along with the essay.

  2. Born May 13, 1937 — Roger Zelazny. [….]To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October.

    I own recordings of several of the Amber books read by him. He didn’t do the complete series, sadly.

  3. 2) Even though Midwestcon is my hometown AND anniversary convention, I am breathing a deep sigh of relief that it had been cancelled this year.

    Frankly, I don’t see any possibilities of any convention being held safely until there is at the very least a widespread regimen of testing of for the virus and anti-bodies, contact tracing and a vaccine. But until then, Stay Safe everyone!

  4. @7: an interesting and reasonable essay — with a very … purposeful-looking … cat at the top.

    @11 (Zelazny): I heard him read from Doorways in the Sand at Discon II; interesting story, nothing special as a reader, so I’m fine with just having print versions of the mindblowing stories from his first decade or so; my opinion of Amber varies with the phases of somethings. (I do grok that we have people who need audio because they can’t cope with print.) I expect NESFA will have the complete short fiction (6 fat volumes) in eform at some point as the editor is also the lead on e-conversions, but he only has so many hours in the day.

    @11 (Frost) typo: he’s given 2 ages. (ISFDB says the given date is correct, so he’s 69.)

    @P J Evans: interesting that they gave that to you at the end; I got it at the beginning (or would have IIRC if I hadn’t turned in a high score on the English AP), but the only reward was getting to take Advanced Expository Writing instead of the basic version. I’d already done the justification-of-SF in 11th grade, and prefaced a 12th-grade paper defining SF with the statement that I wasn’t going to bother justifying SF; I could be infuriating at that age… (Yes, I hear somebody saying “What does he mean ‘at that age’?”)

  5. (6) The tense is a little off in that quote because today is Pattinson’s birthday.

    (9) I’m most familiar with magpies from Rossini and various sportsball teams (Newcastle United, Collingwood, etc.)

    (10) The last episode of Star Trek Enterprise aired on May 13th, 2005

    (11) It was Bea Arthur’s birthday. Who can forget her masterful performance as Ackmena on The Star Wars Holiday Special?

    Also Stephen Colbert who is constantly proving his geek cred by discussing LotR on his shows. Well, he did make it into the second Hobbit movie.

    What can you get a Pixel for Christmas (when it already has a scroll? )

  6. @Chip
    That’s why this was the graduation writing test – to make sure that we really could write coherent English. (I passed – barely. Some of the multiple-choice questions had no answers that I would choose.)

  7. 10) I was 17 in May 1994 and might have had a tiny crush on Brandom Lee. Sufficed to say, multiple viewings, much crying.

  8. 4) Sounds like they didn’t take a financial hit from the cancellation- good for them.

    14) An inflatable scooter- it doesn’t really sound safe. I think I would prefer to take my chances with the exploding battery.

    17) I don’t know about this. Personally I plan the whole sentence before writing the first word and I don’t change it because of text suggestions. But maybe other people don’t?

  9. 11) I still have a soft spot for Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows; and I should reread Dilvish the Damned soon (as long as I’m still stuck reading at home and so more willing to go back to physical books rather than my Kindle).

    I’m pretty sure my first encounter with him was getting Sign of the Unicorn and bouncing off of it hard (not realizing it was #3 in a series); but when I started over from the first book, it all came into focus.

  10. In regards to favorite Zelazny, for me it’s Lord of Light all the way. Though I have to hang my head in shame and admit that I’ve actually only read a few by him!

  11. (18) It’s odd that we automatically take ourselves out of the ‘most dangerous place’ calculation. I can think of many places that, in more recent times, were far worse than what was described in the article. I get the separation though. If you’re watching the Discovery Channel’s ‘Ten Most Venomous Animals’, you don’t want the first three to be Borgias.

  12. People seem to keep talking about a vaccine as though it’s a sure thing. There’s no guarantee that there will EVER be a vaccine. There are plenty of viruses out there with no vaccine. HIV, Ebola, the common cold (which is actually something like 200 different strains). So, yeah, hope for one, but don’t be as sure as our idiot president that there will be one, or that it will magically happen in a few months.

  13. 18) I will argue quite vehemently that the most dangerous place was just off the Yucatan coast about 65 million years ago. You know, near where the current town of Chicxulub is…

  14. #11 – Zelazny did unabridged audiobook recordings of EYE OF CAT, A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER, and the first 9 books of the Amber series.

  15. @Chip Hitchcock

    I expect NESFA will have the complete short fiction (6 fat volumes) in eform at some point as the editor is also the lead on e-conversions, but he only has so many hours in the day.

    If the agent / Estate approve that, yes. But until then, no.

  16. Fingers crossed. (For agent/estate approval and eventual eBook publication of Zelazny’s short stories. And for the rest of his back catalog, for that matter.)

  17. You know, the Screen Junkies were not only funny, but they gave really good criticism on what was wrong with BLADE RUNNER 2049.

  18. @JeffWarner: A good point, but the article seemed to be about animal-on-animal violence, otherwise I’d see your Chicxulub and raise you a Permian-Triassic extinction event and whatever the heck hit us to make the moon (even if nobody was around to get smushed).

    The diversity of pixels prove that scrolls evolved from files.

  19. adding to nickpheas:
    Their website doesn’t mention why no refunds, but the Facebook page says
    “Due to the fact that we are still negotiating penalties with the hotel, ongoing expenses, and our intention to publish a souvenir book, it is not feasible to offer refunds.”

    They are thinking about a virtual con.

  20. @P J Evans: we were expected to demonstrate coherence before doing advanced undergraduate work; different schools, different expectations.

    @Christopher Kovacs: ah, I’d lost track of which conversions were being held up by heirs. Maybe they’ll get whatever they’re asking for from another publisher, as has happened to at least one other author NESFA was interested in.

  21. @rochrist: Wikipedia disagrees with your statement that there is no vaccine for Ebola. I don’t know whether anyone has seriously tried to develop a vaccine against the common cold given the huge number of strains (as you note) and the low severity of the disease. (Alan Nourse proposed a reason why such a search might be a bad idea — but he was mostly being funny.) HIV (IIUC) is notoriously mutable, making it difficult to vaccinate against, and is not nearly as communicable as SARS-CoV-2 — e.g. (IIUC) all the stories about picking it up from surfaces or breathing (both of which transmit the latter) are false. (IIUC, SARS-CoV-2 does mutate — I’ve seen articles tracing which coast of the US infections in the interior came from based on the slight differences between the Seattle and NYC sub^N-species of the virus — just not nearly as fast.) Also (again IIUC) SARS-CoV-2 is the only one that can (easily?) be transmitted by pre-symptomatic and/or asymptomatic carriers.

    In short, there’s a lot more at stake now, which is why there are so many different approaches being tried. I suppose it’s dodging the intent of your argument to answer that the question is not whether there will be vaccines but how effective and safe they will be, or that the real question is how much will be left of the most complex parts of civilization by the time a vaccine is widely distributed; OTOH, with the rest of the world also on this problem (not to mention reports of US research being “stolen”), the odds of the Cheeto having a significant effect on this progress are small — even if he tries to prevent a reverse version of “Slater the Traitor

  22. nickpheas:

    The NASFiC cancellation announcement was made this morning. I’ve updated NASFIC.org accordingly. http://www.nasfic.org/2020/05/14/2020-nasfic-canceled/

    It sounds from what you quoted from their Facebook page that Columbus did not have the force majeure out that Westercon 73 had that allowed them to shift years. (It was never going to be an issue for Westercon 74; our facilities in Tonopah were just fine with us shifting dates and we could have done it sooner, but we all had to wait until Washington extended their no-large-gathering order.)

  23. I think I’ve read all of Zelazny, though I very nearly missed his non-genre mystery, The Dead Man’s Brother, which was published in 2009, long after I was expecting to discover any new Zelazny books! He was, for quite a while, one of my personal “big three”, along with Delany and Brunner.

  24. (16) I’m glad they’re getting hazard pay.

    I’m dropping in very late because I spent too much of yesterday at the hospital, having a stress test. Extra bonus stress: I was not allowed to have my service dog with me, and found out late enough in the process that it really wasn’t practical to contest it. It was go along, or opt out.

    So I left her at my sister’s house.

    And had a very stressful few hours.

    My morning, 8am to sometime a bit past noon:

    Making the case for my service dog, not to change my situation, but in the hope of getting them to look at their policies and the law.

    Asking if, given the lack of my dog, I could take a valium. (No, because they might have to give me something to raise my heart rate chemically, if I didn’t hit my target on the treadmill.)

    Getting IV nuclear tracer.

    Roughly twenty minutes flat on my back, eyes closed, not looking at the huge imaging device moving around me, very close.

    Waiting around for the treadmill people to have room for me.

    Treadmill. Did hit my heart rate, and a bit above, and these crazy people wanted me to keep going. But I reached my limit and they stopped. And I nearly fell over when I tried to stand on the floor.

    Things attached to me taking readings.

    Juice & Graham crackers.

    Still shaky. They got a wheelchair to take me back to imaging.

    Wait till the imaging people had room for me.

    Another twenty minutes not looking at the imaging machine.

    FINALLY get to leave and get my dog back from my sister.

    Sometime around 1pm, got a breakfast sandwich from Dunkin.

    Home. Collapse on bed.

    Remember there are things I need to get out of the car.

    Dora, who knows what means I’m just going out for a minute and who rarely joins me, puts her paw down and insists on her leash so she can make sure I don’t get lost again.

    Come back in. Collapse on bed.

    We did eat. We did sleep.

    I’m just about starting to get back to normal.

  25. Xtifr says I think I’ve read all of Zelazny, though I very nearly missed his non-genre mystery, The Dead Man’s Brother, which was published in 2009, long after I was expecting to discover any new Zelazny books! He was, for quite a while, one of my personal “big three”, along with Delany and Brunner.

    I liked Zelazny enough so he forms a great deal of my core readings on ongoing basis. Roadmarks which our OGH noted in a previous posts is, I think, one of his better efforts.

  26. 13) I get his point and I think he makes it well.

    For my part, my expectation for SF is to show the individual standing up to the collective; particularly when the collective demonstrates patent hostility to human existence. Modern SF that doesn’t work for me generally works to exchange one form of collective for a different collective (at best) or to tie the individual down to the collective (at worst).

    Collectivism is still regarded as a bad thing on this end of the wire.

    There are a lot of modern works that don’t reflect that sort of shift in perspective. Some of those work well for me, and some do not for other reasons.

    Regards,
    Dann
    ” ” said Pooh as he was rendered speechless

  27. @5 finally persuaded me it was time to pay for a New York Times subscription ($1/week for a year during shutdown is hard to beat; I’ll see whether I’m willing to pay the higher rate after the year.) The story of the making of the movie is almost as good as the movie itself, including the way it nearly got cut off due to a studio exec thinking he had to show he was tough on expenses. (In one way he might have been right — Wikipedia says the final release lost “up to $40 million” despite almost $350 million gross — but I suspect that 6 Oscars produces a bit of halo.)

  28. I have a fondness for “Creatures of Light and Darkness.” My college roommate used it to model the deities in his D&D campaign. Also reminded that F&SF ran a contest where entries were titles translated into another language and back to English. Best one I remember was “Nocturnal and Dinural Animals”.

  29. Yeah, I really like Creatures of Light and Darkness. The “Agnostic’s Prayer” is great! Not as well-known as “fear is the mind-killer”, but still widely quoted in certain circles. A variant was even published in MIT’s Newspaper.

    I was surprised to learn that Zelazny originally had no plans to publish the book. It was supposed to be just a writing exercise. Chip Delany leaned on him to change his mind, which is why the book is dedicated to him. (To Chip, in case you’ve lost track of my pronouns).

    Roadmarks is also first rate, though I’m afraid I don’t have any amusing anecdotes about it.

  30. Roadmarks is also first rate, though I’m afraid I don’t have any amusing anecdotes about it.

    One amusing anecdote about Roadmarks is that Zelazny took all the “Two” chapters and shuffled them randomly among the “One” chapters that told the main story. The editor balked and insisted that a few of them change order.

    A second potentially amusing anecdote is the cameos throughout the novel of characters who aren’t always named: Marquis de Sade, Hitler, Jack the Ripper, a lost crusader.

    And a third is that Zelazny admitted Roadmarks was partly inspired by Farmer’s Riverworld: “Suppose that instead of all of mankind assembled along the banks of a great river, it had been a transtemporal superhighway?”

  31. Dann665 on May 15, 2020 at 9:58 am said:

    For my part, my expectation for SF is to show the individual standing up to the collective; particularly when the collective demonstrates patent hostility to human existence.

    I expect lasers going pew pew and then boom and spaceships going schoom schoom all over the place and then Murderbot saying something misanthropic and watching an episode of The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon

    So uh, there’s something for everyone then?

  32. @Dann665: what a fascinatingly limited set of expectations! ISTM that it excludes even more of the genre as a whole than your recent definition of MilSF did of the range of that subgenre — if your definition even admits of SF as a whole rather than just fantasy. (Popular fantasy, with tech trappings, but fantasy nonetheless.)

  33. Chip Hitchcock: what a fascinatingly limited set of expectations!

    Yeah, on a Venn diagram with my expectations of SF, that’s pretty close to a null intersection.

    What Iphinome said! Also, people exploring strange new worllds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, learning and growing from their experiences, and doing their damndest to try to make the universe a better place for everyone.

  34. I have very little overlap with Dann’s expectations of science fiction as well. But then, there is a difference between “This is what I personally like and don’t like to see in science fiction” and “This is what science fiction is.”

    For example, I don’t like religion in my science fiction, but that doesn’t mean that Hyperion, The Sparrow, A Rose for Ecclesiastes, A Canticle for Leibowitz, etc… are not science fiction.

  35. Nothing wrong with having preferences for your fiction so long as you don’t start insisting that [x] conforms to them or that anything that doesn’t isn’t really [x] or can’t be good [x].

    The milsf “definition” certainly had trouble with that but this one seems more circumspect.

  36. @Christopher Kovacs: Thanks, I will definitely keep those on file for the next time I need some Zelazny anecdotes! 🙂

  37. I apologize for the delay.

    @Iphinome

    I like those kinds of stories as well. Sometimes an entertaining but largely pointless read is a great thing. There are indeed many things for many people.

    In general, please don’t overanalyze what I said. Rather than go deep into the weeds, let me say that SF/F includes a range of themes that can intersect in unusual ways that may or may not address issues of the relationship between an individual and a larger collective. Where the individual/collective narrative is in play, I like it when the individual wins or when the collective winning is a cautionary tale (i.e. Animal Farm, et.al.)

    Regards,
    Dann
    Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway – John Wayne

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