Pixel Scroll 5/9/19 Get Your Clicks On Scroll 6-6-6!

(1) DEALING WITH DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS. Chuck Wendig, who doesn’t want people using social media to shove their negative reviews of his work in his face – point taken – goes on to make an unconvincing distinction between customer complaints about his fiction and everything else: “Hi, Definitely Don’t Tag Authors In Your Negative Reviews Of Their Books”.

…You might note also that negative reviews are one of the ways we communicate with creators of products and arbiters of service in order to improve the quality of that product or that service — which is true! If someone at American Airlines shits in my bag, I’m gonna say something on Twitter, and I’m going to say it to American Airlines. If the dishwasher I bought was full of ants, you bet I’m going to tag GE in that biz when I go to Twitter. But books are not dishwashers or airlines. You can’t improve what happened. It’s out there. The book exists. You can’t fix it now. And art isn’t a busted on-switch, or a broken door, or a poopy carryon bag, or an ant-filled dishwasher….

(2) THE PERIPHERALS WHISPERER. Ursula Vernon has many talents – this is another one.

(3) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Simon Strantzas and Kai Ashante Wilson on Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY, just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

Simon Strantzas

Simon Strantzas is the author of five collections of short fiction, including Nothing is Everything (Undertow Publications, 2018), and is editor of the award-winning Aickman’s Heirs and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3. His fiction has appeared in numerous annual best-of anthologies, in venues such as Nightmare, Postscripts, and Cemetery Dance, and has been nominated for both the British Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards. He lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada.

Kai Ashante Wilson

Kai Ashante Wilson won the Crawford award for best first novel of 2016, and his works have been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. Most of his stories are available on Tor.com. His novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey may be ordered from local bookstores or online. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.

(4) FAT ISSUES IN ENDGAME? Adam-Troy Castro rejects complaints about Thor’s character in Avengers: Endgame. Beware Spoilers.

I am a fat guy. I will likely always be a fat guy.

Fat Thor is not fat-shaming.

Fat Thor is character humor: the man has given up. Tony Stark went in one direction, the Odinson went in another. He’s a binge-drinking, binge-eating, emotionally fragile shell of himself, and while some of the other characters make unkind (and, dammit, funny) remarks, it is his diminishment and not his enlargement that is the source of the humor.

Sure, bloody explain it to me now.

I don’t know, I don’t understand.

Fvck you, I’m a fat guy. I do know, I do understand. I have been mocked for my weight, sometimes viciously. I know it all.

(I haven’t personally encountered these complaints, I can only assume there must be some, else why Castro’s post.)

(5) JUNE SWOON. It’s 1964. the prozine pendulum is swinging, and apparently it’s getting away from Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus: “[May 8, 1964] Rough Patch (June 1964 Galaxy)”.

I think I’ve got a bad case of sibling rivalry.  When Victoria Silverwolf came onto the Journey, she took on the task of reviewing Fantastic, a magazine that was just pulling itself out of the doldrums.  My bailiwick consisted of Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, IF, and Galaxy, which constituted The Best that SF had to offer.

Ah for those halcyon days.  Now Fantastic is showcasing fabulous Leiber, Moorcock, and Le Guin.  Moreover, Vic has added the superlative Worlds of Tomorrow to her beat.  What have I got?  Analog is drab and dry, Avram Davidson has careened F&SF to the ground, IF is inconsistent, and Galaxy…ah, my poor, once beloved Galaxy

(6) TERRAIN TERROR. Laird Barron now writes crime novels set in Alaska.  But he used to be a horror writer, and “In Noir, Geography Is a Character” on CrimeReads, Barron has anecdotes about Michael Shea and the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose.

…A decade ago, bound for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, I stared out the window of a light commercial plane swooping in low over the Central Valley. Low enough I made out details of oak trees covering big hills and the rusty check patterns of the yards of individual homes. Country roads radiated like nerves from a plexus. Cars crawled along those snaking roads through golden dust. The rumpled land subtly descended toward the haze of the Pacific. I realized this was where Michael Shea got his flavor. This “obvious” revelation slapped me in the face.

Michael left us too soon five years later in 2014. His memory looms large in the weird fiction and horror fields as the man who wrote the landmark collection Polyphemus. A deep vein of mystery and noir travels through his work, grounding the fantastical tropes. I’d read him since my latter teens, absorbing the unique cadence of his prose without giving conscious thought to how echoes of the natural world inflected his grimiest urban settings, how the superstructures and sprawl of his version of LA and San Francisco were influenced by the ancient earth they occupy….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

This was a big date in sff history.

May 9, 1973 Soylent Green premiered.

May 9, 1986 Short Circuit debuted in theatres.

May 9, 1997 The Fifth Element arrived in movie houses.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 9, 1860 J. M. Barrie. Author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which I’ve read a number of times. Of the movie versions, I like Steven Spielberg’s Hook the best. The worst use of the character, well of Wendy to be exact, is in Lost Girls, the sexually explicit graphic novel by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. If you’ve not read it, don’t bother. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn was the pen name of Philip Klass. Clute says in ESF that ‘From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.’  That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard  Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago — will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other.  Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. Oh and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the  Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 9, 1951 Geoff Ryman, 68. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. 
  • Born May 9, 1979 Rosario Dawson, 40. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Women in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) INTERZONE BEGINS. SFFDirect downloads the history of a famed sf magazine from one of the founders: “Early years of Interzone, told by Co-Ed Simon Ounsley”.

In 1981, Eastercon was held in Leeds. Four attendees were David Pringle, Simon Ounsley, Alan Dorey (then chairman of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA)) and Graham James. David Pringle was a co-chairman of the convention and Simon Ounsley was assisting with the finances. The convention made a profit of £1,300, which Simon states was completely unintentional and purely down to cautious budgeting. At Graham James’ suggestion, the committee agreed to use the money to launch an SF magazine. Simon recalls how controversial this decision was at the time, but in any event, the four men teamed up to start a magazine.

At the same time, four friends in London were also trying to get an SF magazine off the ground. They were Malcolm Edwards, who worked for SF publisher Gollancz, and SF critics John Clute, Colin Greenland, and Roz Kaveney. They had asked the BSFA if they would publish the magazine and it had declined. However, Alan made David aware of the London proposal and the two groups got together.

As Simon says, this was an ideal match because the Leeds contingent had the money and the London team had the connections. The name of the magazine was suggested by David. It was an imaginary city in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch

(11) THE HOST WITH THE MOST. Stephen Colbert helped fans get a head start watching the new biopic: “Stephen Colbert Hosts First ‘Tolkien’ Screening With Cast and Director” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Moviegoers across the country were able to see Tolkien ahead of its release this Friday, along with a Q&A moderated by Lord of the Rings super-fan Stephen Colbert, even if they weren’t at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on Tuesday for the first-ever screening of the movie.

The panel, featuring the Fox Searchlight film’s stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins with director Dome Karukoski, was simulcast to select theaters following special screenings. In Montclair, Karukoski revealed what goes into a film like Tolkien, which chronicles the formative years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life as he forms friendships, goes to war and falls in love….

To close out the Q&A, Colbert praised Karukoski’s efforts and Tolkien itself. “Thank you for the film you created. It reminds me of the power of story, and how it can give us hope,” the late-night host said before citing one of Tolkien’s quotes from The Return of the King: “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

Continued Colbert, “I cried many times watching this film, and I want to thank you for those tears of pain and of those tears of joy and thank you for what you have given me of his [Tolkien’s] life and for your beautiful performances.”

(12) CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE. “Australia’s A$50 note misspells responsibility” – time to get the appertainment flowing Down Under.

Australia’s latest A$50 note comes with a big blunder hidden in the small print – a somewhat embarrassing typo.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) spelled “responsibility” as “responsibilty” on millions of the new yellow notes.

The RBA confirmed the typo on Thursday and said the error would be fixed in future print runs.

But for now, around 46 million of the new notes are in use across the country.

The bills were released late last year and feature Edith Cowan, the first female member of an Australian parliament.

What looks like a lawn in the background of Ms Cowan’s portrait is in fact rows of text – a quotation from her first speech to parliament.

(13) HEAVY METAL. Alas behind a paywall at Nature: “Collapsars  forming black holes as a major source of galaxy’s heavy elements” [PDF file]. Here scientists report simulations that show that collapsar accretion disks (in black hole formation) yield sufficient heavy elements to explain observed abundances in the Universe.

Although these supernovae are rarer than neutronstar mergers, the larger amount of material ejected per event compensates for the lower rate of occurrence. We calculate that collapsars may supply more than 80 per cent of the r-process heavy element content of the Universe.

(14) HE CALLED FOR HIS BOWL. BBC calls “Southend burial site ‘UK’s answer to Tutankhamun'”.

A royal burial site found between a pub and Aldi supermarket has been hailed as the UK’s answer to Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Workers unearthed the grave, which contained dozens of rare artefacts, during roadworks in Prittlewell, near Southend, Essex, in 2003.

Tooth enamel fragments were the only human remains, but experts say their “best guess” is that they belonged to a 6th Century Anglo-Saxon prince.

It is said to be the oldest example of a Christian Anglo-Saxon royal burial.

Now, after 15 years of expert analysis some of the artefacts are returning to Southend on permanent display for the first time.

When a team from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) excavated the site, they said they were “astounded” to find the burial chamber intact.

(15) STAR BLECCH. Matt Keeley encounters one of the earliest Star Trek parodies while revisiting a Sixties issue of MAD: “Not Just a Classic Issue, MAD #115 (December 1967) Predicted the Future”.

…Mort Drucker’s art is exquisite as always, and DeBartolo’s writing is top notch, loaded with puns and hilarious jokes. (Spook: “That’s what your MIND says! What does your HEART say?” Kook: “Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat — just like everybody else’s!”) But one of the most interesting things about this parody is the way the story wraps up — the solution is for the Boobyprize to reverse orbit and go back in time. You might recognize this plot device from the first Superman movie. Somehow DeBartolo ripped it off, despite “Star Blecch” coming out 11 years before the film.

(16) IF IT’S GOOD, IT’S A MARVEL. Nerds of a Feather panelists Adri Joy, Mike N., Phoebe Wagner, and Vance K assemble for a “Review Roundtable: Avengers: Endgame”.

Today I’ve gathered Brian, Mike, Phoebe and Vance to chat about our Endgame reactions: what made us punch the air in glee and what had us sliding down in our seats in frustration. Needless to say, all the spoilers are ahead and you really shouldn’t be here unless you’ve had a chance to see the movie first.

Adri: So, Endgame! That was fun. Even more fun than I expected after, you know, all the dead people and the feelings about them.

Brian: First impressions are that I thought this was a great conclusion to all of the movies that came before it. The MCU could stop here (it won’t, but it could) and I would be completely satisfied.

Vance: The woman seated next to me — and I’ve never experienced this in a movie theater — started taking deep, centering breaths the moment the lights went down. And I love her for it. Infinity War was a gauntlet for fans, yet she was there opening day for whatever came next, no matter how gutting. Turned out the movie was a lot of fanservice, so she made it through. As did I!

(17) THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS. (If you see that sign, it won’t lead you to a fabulous new alien, I guarantee!) The LA Times tries to find out — “After hyping a $1-billion Star Wars land, how does Disney get visitors to leave?”

…Once a time window expires, park employees dressed as “Star Wars” characters will politely tell parkgoers that they need to leave the land to make way for new visitors.

Disneyland representatives say they expect that most guests will abide by the courteous directions to move on. But they remain mum about what will happen if guests ignore the requests.

“Four hours is a long time in the land,” said Kris Theiler, vice president of the Disneyland Park. “Most guests are going to find that they’re ready to roll after four hours.”

[Thanks to Greg Hullender, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/9/19 Get Your Clicks On Scroll 6-6-6!

  1. microtherion: I think you do a good job of identifying some of the conflicting values in play here.

    Especially on Twitter, authors regularly comment about blocking people, which is how they keep from seeing harassers’ repeated attempts to get attention. I don’t think people trying to punish Wendig for his perceived sin of being an SJW are going to change their ways just because he’s attempted to create a point of personal privilege for himself. It makes me wonder what the real motive for his post might be. It’s not as if the people he’d want to avoid having to block — his friends, colleagues and admirers — are wroting brutal reviews of his books.

  2. Meredith Moment:

    An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton is on sale at Amazon US for $2.99. I bought it off my Wishlist, so I don’t know if the sale is available elsewhere, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is.

    Here in 129, I’m sleeping in a tree and waiting for Worldcons to become a “thing”.

  3. @Robert —

    An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton is on sale at Amazon US for $2.99. I bought it off my Wishlist, so I don’t know if the sale is available elsewhere, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is.

    Thanks!

    That will probably be in the Hugo packet this year, but I like to support authors — especially when I can do it at a sale price. 😉

  4. The idea that a writer is obligated to take feedback from readers on board, and make changes to future or past books in response to it — which is what we are talking about here — is ludicrous.

    I didn’t say authors were obligated to do anything. I said an author could theoretically make adjustments in response to customer feedback, meaning they could adjust their future plans. An author who gets hammered by readers because book 1 has no minority protagonists might address that in book 2.

    Wendig is correct that a published book is unfixable. But authors are not beyond repair. Someone might contact an author on social media under the same principle he just espoused: “negative reviews are one of the ways we communicate with creators of products and arbiters of service in order to improve the quality of that product or that service.” Wendig, like any of us who write books, could be improved by constructive criticism from readers. Unfortunately social media is so ugly and mean these days that I can’t blame him for actively discouraging readers from sending him negative comments.

  5. I’m getting a bit confused about online etiquette here, because criticizing someone without tagging them in is also known as “subtweeting” on some platforms, and considered rude by many people (in fact, I recently unfriended somebody on a social platform for doing this).

    Subtweeting is talking about somebody in a tweet without tagging them *or* using their name. Wendig is just asking not to be tagged in a negative review. He isn’t asking not to be named at all.

  6. I appreciated Lenora Rose’s separation of review and complaint.

    There’s been a lot of discussion about the etiquette of unsolicited constructive criticism in transformative works fandom, and the consensus has broadly come down on the side of Don’t Do That*. A lot of the time, I think the criticism just isn’t very useful for future work (“I didn’t like what you did with that one character in that one bit”), isn’t necessarily as constructive as the critic thought it was, and is just quite deflating and unhelpful for creators. Given the nature of the fandom as being a very jumbled crowd — creators and reccers and readers all mixed up together — that can sometimes stifle discussion a bit, but for the most part it isn’t a huge problem. And it cuts down on bullying in the guise of constructive.

    (I think it’s a bigger problem when that culture gets imported to the pro arena, as Heather Rose Jones has described in previous discussions here, where even negative/mediocre/mixed reviews that don’t intentionally draw the attention of the writer are considered bad form.)

    *There are exceptions: Racism, sexism, etc are often considered fair game for criticism, although even then it tends to be part of the wider fandom discussion rather than aimed at the creator. Some creators explicitly welcome constructive criticism. People have been known to indirectly “comment on” works by making their own in response.

  7. Wouldn’t authors in general WANT to hear from their audience, even if it’s not entirely complimentary?

    Depends on the author.

    Some don’t want to hear from their audience even if it IS entirely complimentary.

    The ones who do can search on their names, their book titles, whatever. They don’t need to be intruded on by strangers who just dropped by to say “Hi, hated it!”

    Mike:

    It makes me wonder what the real motive for his post might be.

    There is a tendency, among some Twitterers, to @- people reflexively, as if it’s just part of mentioning them on Twitter. And these Twitterers will make conversational comments to their friends about how the new novel by @author is a disappointment, or a dumb reeking piece of shit, or whatever.

    I can’t be sure, but I think those are the people Wendig is trying to reach, not harassers. People who don’t seem to understand that there’s a distinction between saying something about Chuck Wendig and saying something TO @ChuckWendig. Or that even if they do, maybe he just doesn’t want to be included in the conversation.

    They’re entirely entitled to say that they thought his latest book was crap, but they don’t have to say it to him. I think that’s the point of etiquette he’s trying to establish. Express your thoughts and feelings all you like, but don’t make them all drive-bys.

  8. I think there’s a material difference between saying, “I didn’t like this story” vs. saying “I think this author is a racist.” In either case, tagging the author makes it seem as though you’re inviting a rebuttal. In the first case, authors are powerfully urged not to respond to such things, so it seems mean-spirited to go out of your way to draw their attention to it. In the second case, though, you’re giving the person a chance to defend him/herself.

  9. 4) I watched Avengers: Endgame yesterday. And it left a bad taste in my mouth. For me it was absolutely fat shaming, but more as a secondary effect.

    SPOILERY REASONS:

    The problem wasn’t that Thor was fat. And was drinking. That part was ok. Problem was everything around it. So he is drunk, he is depressed. And then heroes come and say they have one chance more. And…

    …the only way they can get him to come is to say that there is beer on the plane? And when he continues to drink, no one really cares enough to have a talk with him? He accepts a mission to save the universe and two minutes after start, he wants to skip and go to a wine cellar? It just didn’t work for me. They had a time machine. They could have waited to get him out of his alcoholism.

    And he was a joke. At everything. Joke when explaining where the stone was. Joke when wanting to use the glove. Joke on mission. He was a failure. And he *remainined* a failure. Sure, there was a hammer that thought he was worthy, but when it came to fighting, the hammer was better wielded by Captain America. He got smashed. And then he was just one of the masses. And at the end, still fat, he abandoned his people.

    They could have solved this by taking his PTSD more seriously, instead of making him the fat comic relief, not laughing with him anymore, but laughing at him. They could have solved it by giving one moment of awesome to shine. But they didn’t.

    It just didn’t work for me. He became lesser and it ended not with a path of getting up, instead with skipping out. And tied to his new body, yes, it became fat shaming.

  10. @Hampus,

    I wasn’t nearly as annoyed as you, but they could have handled it so much better.

    SPOILERS…
    .
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    .
    .
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    .
    .
    .
    When we first see Thor it was the camera zooming in on his belly that told me immediately that the moviemakers were blatantly trying to play the scene for laughs. That’s when I started feeling uncomfortable & that feeling stayed for quite some time.

    That scene needed delicate handling. Taika Waititi managed to combine humour & emotion in Thor:Ragnarok. But the Russo brothers didn’t have that light touch needed.

  11. I didn’t see Thor as an alcoholic in Endgame. I found it pretty easy to assume that a centuries-old god with super-human abilities wouldn’t be susceptible to that problem. The denizens of Asgard have often been depicted as hard-drinking, hard-partying sybarites.

    Iron Man, on the other hand, is mortal and was once depicted as an alcoholic in a famous 1970s story in the comics. So his excessive drinking in a movie would look like a problem to me.

  12. Look at Ragnarok and the character of Valkyrie for how to handle someone drinking, probably due to trauma, who is not cured of their drinking, and where the drinking is sometimes played for laughs… but ALSO doesn’t leave the alcoholic as the butt of the joke.

    Also as a counterpoint to rcade theorizing that the hard-drinking Asgardians can’t be alcoholics or susceptible, because they also have other superhuman abilities. (The idea that a hard-drinking culture doesn’t enable alcoholism is also, um, odd, based on human limits.)

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