Pixel Scroll 5/21/17 What A Strange Pixel — The Only Winning Scroll Is Not To File

Just an appetizer Scroll today, as my cold has devolved to the flu.

(1) DEMON MEME. And I‘ll make the first course of this appetizer “Occult sandwiches”. No excerpt (can’t get more lo-cal than that) because it looks to be one long Imgur graphic. Its style of humor will reward the attention of anyone who likes the kind of wordplay indulged in by Gaiman and Pratchett.

(2) THE REAL ATWOOD. Years ago all the focus was on Margaret Atwood’s insistence that she didn’t write science fiction. It kept us from learning so many very interesting things about her, as illustrated by this Guardian profile about “Margaret Atwood: a high priestess of fiction who embraces the digital age”.

At 77, Atwood combines the loftiness of a high priestess who does not suffer fools gladly with an unstinting generosity to those she deems not to be foolish. She is a passionate environmentalist, with a particular interest in birds, which she shares with her husband, Graeme Gibson.

If her determination to live by her principles occasionally seems incidentally comic — as when she embarked by boat on an international tour of a stage show publicising the second novel of her MaddAddam trilogy, The Year of the Flood — she also brings to her politics a healthy dose of intentional humour.

On a recent visit to her Toronto home, her longtime UK publisher Lennie Goodings was surprised to meet her carrying a paper bag bulging with four large rubber turkeys. “She showed them to me with that funny, head on a tilt, wicked smile of hers. They squawked when she pressed them.” It turned out that she and Gibson were about to present the prizes at an annual RSPB competition. “The winners each receive a rubber turkey from Margaret, at which point she conducts them in a squeezing squawking choir.”

Atwood traces her concern with the environment back to a childhood spent criss-crossing the forests of Canada with her entomologist father. She was the second of three children, and the family’s itinerant lifestyle meant that she did not go to full-time school until she was eight years old. She began publishing her poetry while a student at the University of Toronto, won her first major literary prize for a poetry collection published in 1964, and three collections later diversified into fiction in 1969 with The Edible Woman, about a woman driven mad by consumerism

(3) I KNOW I DIDN’T VOTE FOR IT. Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club blog just came online in May and they’ve attracted attention with their verdict:

1973: The Worst Hugo Award

1973 was a very good year. Income inequality was at its historical lowest in America, union density was at its highest, major victories were happening in civil rights.

But in the world of science fiction, it was the year that one of the worst novels ever to win the top Hugo award was honoured for all the wrong reasons.

And, yes, they already took into account the traditional loser in the debate.

(4) ELVISH. Greg Hullender (via Nicholas Whyte’s website) discovered Carl F. Hostetter’s “Elvish as She Is Spoke” [PDF file] and he enthusiastically forwarded the link with a flurry of comments.

It’s a linguistic assessment of attempts to flesh out Tolkien’s two Elvish languages.

The first key point is that Tolkien obviously wasn’t fluent in either language himself, partly because he kept changing them both, and partly because he doesn’t seem to have ever worked out all the details of the syntax. He doesn’t seem to have been trying to construct a language like Esperanto that anyone would actually use; he was simply having fun. So this is why he didn’t leave a lot of examples of Elvish text behind: he had difficulty writing anything in Elvish himself.

Second, the “neo” languages that people have tried to construct from Tolkien’s work are terribly naive, and often contradict some of the little bits of Elvish that Tolkien actually left us. The author compares it to the hilarious 19th-Century work “English as She is Spoke.” (If you don’t read anything else, skip to page 249, starting with “Elvish as She is Spoke.”)

That said, I think the author is a little hard on the neo-Elvish folks. Tolkien simply didn’t leave enough behind for them to do what they want to do. Lacking that, they’ve tried to be inventive. In the process, they’ve produced something that at least has a very Elvish “feel” to it, and (judging from the movies) sounds very nice. Also, the things that would make it more realistic (e.g. irregularity and polysemy) would make it much harder for native English speakers to learn. Even though neo-Elvish doesn’t withstand close study, it’s good enough for most people to suspend disbelief. That’s probably the most you can reasonably ask of a fantasy language.

Carl Hostetter is part of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship which has spent decades having scholarly fun exploring Tolkien’s languages.

(5) COMIC SECTION. Wiley in Non Sequitur today comments on the cartoonists’ favorite award, the Reuben.

(6) REUBEN AWARD. The National Cartoonist Society will present the Reuben Awards on May 278. The 2016 Cartoonist of the Year nominees were announced March 2.

LYNDA BARRY is a cartoonist and writer. She’s authored 21 books and received numerous awards and honors including an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from University of the Arts, Philadelphia, two Will Eisner Awards, The American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Washington State Governor’s Award, the Wisconsin Library Associations RR Donnelly Award, the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2016. Her book, “One! Hundred! Demons!” was required reading for all incoming freshmen at Stanford University in 2008. She’s currently Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity and Director of The Image Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were she teaches writing and picture-making. Lynda was nominated for Cartoonist of the Year for 2016 and will be the recipient of the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award at the 71st Reuben Awards dinner in Portland Oregon this year. You can follow Lynda on Twitter at @NearSightedMonkey.

STEPHAN PASTIS is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Universal Uclick. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children. This is his ninth nomination for Cartoonist of the Year. Visit Stephan’s blog and the Pearls Before Swine website.

HILARY PRICE is the creator of Rhymes With Orange, a daily newspaper comic strip syndicated by King Features Syndicate. Created in 1995, Rhymes With Orange has won the NCS Best Newspaper Panel Division four times (2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014). Her work has also appeared in Parade Magazine, The Funny Times, People and Glamour. When she began drawing Rhymes With Orange, she was the youngest woman to ever have a syndicated strip. Hilary draws the strip in an old toothbrush factory that has since been converted to studio space for artists. She lives in western Massachusetts. This is Hilary’s fourth nomination for the Cartoonist of the Year. You can visit Rhymes With Orange online here.

MARK TATULLI is an internationally syndicated cartoonist, best known for his popular comic strips Heart of the City and Lio, which appear in 400 newspapers all over the world. He currently has written three books in a children’s illustrated novel series titled Desmond Pucket, which has been optioned for TV by Radical Sheep. He also has two planned children’s picture books coming from Roaring Book Press, an imprint of McMillian Publishing. The first, Daydreaming, will hit bookstores in September 2016. Lio has been nominated three times for the National Cartoonists Society’s Best Comic Strip, winning in 2009. Lio was nominated for Germany’s Max and Moritz Award in 2010. This is Mark’s third nomination for Cartoonist of the Year. You can follow Mark on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mtatulli/ and find his Lio strips here http://www.gocomics.com/lio.

ANN TELNAES creates editorial cartoons in various mediums- animation, visual essays, live sketches, and traditional print- for the Washington Post. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for her print cartoons. Telnaes’ print work was shown in a solo exhibition at the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 2004. Her first book, “Humor’s Edge”, was published by Pomegranate Press and the Library of Congress in 2004. A collection of Vice President Cheney cartoons, “Dick”, was self-published by Telnaes and Sara Thaves in 2006. Other awards include: The National Cartoonists Society Reuben division award for Editorial Cartoons (2016), The National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award (2006) — The Maggie Award, Planned Parenthood (2002) — 15th Annual International Dutch Cartoon Festival (2007) — The National Headliner Award (1997) — The Population Institute XVII Global Media Awards (1996) — Sixth Annual Environmental Media Awards (1996).

Telnaes worked for several years as a designer for Walt Disney Imagineering. She has also animated and designed for various studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Taiwan.

Telnaes is the current president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and is a member of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS). This is Ann’s first Cartoonist of the Year nomination.You can visit Ann’s website, http://www.anntelnaes.com, and follow her on twitter at @AnnTelnaes.

And there are 45 nominees in 15 NCS Divisional Categories. Needless to say, it’s a lot more entertaining to look at the illustrated lists over at the NCS site.

(7) BATTLE OF THE BOTTLES. Ommegang Brewery is coming out with an additional three beers in its Game of Thrones series, this time in a new line called “Bend the Knee”.

Bend the Knee:

When fans last gripped their glasses at the end of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, the great houses of Westeros were on the brink of an epic conflict. Cersei had ascended to the Iron Throne as the first queen of Westeros, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark had just reclaimed the North, and Daenerys Targaryen had set sail for the Seven Kingdoms. To commemorate the coming melee in the Emmy® Award-winning show’s epic seventh season, Brewery Ommegang and HBO Global Licensing are excited to announce a new beer in their collaborative series: Bend the Knee Golden Ale.

Paying homage to the struggle for control of the Seven Kingdoms, Bend the Knee will be available on draft and in a series of three collectible 750ml bottles, all finished in matte black and adorned with one of the three Great House sigils: Stark, Targaryen, or Lannister.

And while the show returns on July 16, fans can mark their calendars for the official nationwide release of the beer, which will be on shelves around Memorial Day.

(8) A CARD OF HIS OWN. At last night’s Nebula Award ceremony veteran SFWA volunteer Steven H Silver was given a great surprise — he has been added to the Science Fiction Historical Trading Cards Series.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

147 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/21/17 What A Strange Pixel — The Only Winning Scroll Is Not To File

  1. Darn it, this is getting annoying. Can’t get updates, so I’m bookmarking a bunch of scrolls… one wrong move, and I lose the bookmark.

    For it’s “Pixel this,” an’ “Pixel that,”
    An’ “Feed ‘im to the troll!”
    But it’s “Social Justice HERO”
    When the filers come t’ scroll.

  2. Take care of yourself, Mike! We don’t need you in the hospital again.

    In other news, I just went and downloaded the Hugo packet, and whoever designed that page should be given an award and hired to do the Worldcon websites for the forseeable future. It’s easy to use and looks great.

  3. Get well soon Mike! The flu is no laughing matter.

    (4) ELVISH
    Out of interest, does the same apply to Klingon? I mean, in both instances, there are only a few canonical phrases (if you include the TV seasons & movies only).

  4. @Darren:

    I’m having flashbacks to my Magic-playing days and this card from one of the non-tournament-legal joke sets.

  5. @Mike Glyer: Take care of yourself and appertain some fluids & rest, please!

    @Darren Garrison: ::groan!::

    – – – – –

    @Hugonauts: Kai Ashante Wilson’s novella was very good, though the ending didn’t thrill me (but it was okay). I started the second Chambers novel before reading that, but even though I liked the first book a lot, I feel like I need a break – hence the novella reading. I realized I have the first Penric novella, so I’ll probably read that before the nominated one, as they appear to be #1 and #2 in this sub-series – yay, I won’t be lost (methinks)!

    I was surprised that, despite disliking the art, I liked “Paper Girls” – after some tedious setup, it’s interesting+weird. Also, “Monstress” is good (also weird) so far – interesting world and the art’s very good, though I only read the first part and skimmed some of the rest, for now. I need to go back and actually read the rest while the first part’s fresh in my mind.

    The other Graphic Story nominees, not really my thing. I disliked “The Vision” a lot, darn! I didn’t like “Saga” or “Ms. Marvel” previously and they don’t seem to have improved with age. I couldn’t get into “Black Panther” but will probably take another look later. 🙁 These seem to be popular, but they just aren’t for me, I guess.

  6. (1) This is quite charming and interesting.

    (3) It shouldn’t have won out over the competition (I’d have voted for “Dying Inside” that year), but it is a competent piece of work that held my attention the couple times I read it. It’s not great, but it’s nowhere near as bad as TRBR. Aaron’s review points this out well.

  7. Mike, appertain yourself some TheraFlu. The only thing worse than flu in winter is flu in summer.

  8. I got the flu this year, the first time I got it since starting the annual flu shot 25-30 years ago. It was relatively mild, but still a 10-day drag with a couple miserable days in the middle. I thought it was really unfair, since I had just gotten over a two-week cold. It made for a Bad Month.

    The last time I caught the flu, it was a really bad one. I only remember two things about that awful time: thinking it was really good that I didn’t keep a gun in the back of the closet, because I might have wanted to put myself out of my misery; and one day staring at one spot on the wall for ten hours. When I finally got better I tried to do that just as an exercise, and I didn’t last ten minutes. I don’t think I lasted two minutes.

    Anyway, Mike, I hope you have a mild case. That’s bad enough, you don’t need worse.

    I loved Dying Inside, and didn’t much care for The Gods Themslves. I liked the middle section, but not the first or third, and I despised the ending.

  9. I was only fourteen that summer, but even I thought that The Gods Themselves only won because it was Asimov. (Ditto Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise.) Still, I think it’s a decent enough novel. Not the best of the year, perhaps, but still way better than lots of stuff. I thought it belonged on the shortlist.

    I’m not sure which one I would have picked at the time. I probably had an opinion and everything, but I don’t remember it. Today, I’d certainly go for Dying Inside, but it was a little over my head back then.

    As for worst-ever…well, I still haven’t read the one that nobody has read, so I can’t really comment. 🙂

  10. Yep, The Gods Themselves was really boring and it, together with some of the later Foundation-books, convinced me to never read any novel length books by Asimov again (I did not know at that time, that The Gods Themselves was created from three short stories).

  11. I have written at great length about the many flaws in The Gods Themselves. But there are some other awful Hugo winners out there apart from Clifton / Riley – neither To Your Scattered Bodies Go nor The Uplift War has stood the test of time well, and Hominids is an awful book that won because of local advantage. (I have also bounced thoroughly off both Cherryh and Neuromancer, but I accept that I’m in the minority in both cases.)

  12. Nicholas Whyte: Hominids is an awful book that won because of local advantage.

    Oh, gods, don’t even get me started on Hominids and Humans. Those two books made me seriously reconsider whether I really wanted to continue with my personal challenge of reading all the Hugo and Nebula finalists. If they had been my books, and not the library’s, I would probably have burned them (and burning books is just something I would never have thought I’d even consider doing).

  13. @Mike

    Take two pixels and call me in the morning.

    (3) I KNOW I DIDN’T VOTE FOR IT

    Putting The Gods Themselves below They’d Rather Be Right is rather harsh, but I think it’s the only Asimov novel I’ve never bothered rereading.
    The other finalists are all good so perhaps they split the remaining vote too far.

    @Kendall

    The ending of A Taste of Honey didn’t endear itself to me either. I’d definitely read Penric #1 first if you feel you have the time, or at least browse the start to get the initial setup

    (7) BATTLE OF THE BOTTLES

    Someone should do GoT wine, and serve it at weddings with the question “Red or White?”

  14. Mark-kitteh! There you are!

    Reading the Rivers of London novels, I keep encountering people saying “Do me a favour.” That’s it. Nothing more, no explanation. I get the impression from the things which come immediately before it that it’s the equivalent of “Do me a favour and stop asking me about it”, “Do me a favour and stop being an idiot”, “Do me a favour and drop it”, “Do me a favour and piss off”. Is that what it means?

  15. Oh no Mike, get well soon!

    Kendall: Paper Girls and Monstress are currently fighting for 1 and 2 respectively on my ballot, and I was really pleasantly surprised at how good Paper Girls was in particular (I’m a big Saga fan and was all set to put it first so this was an upheaval!) Monstress got a lot clearer for me by about chapter 3 so I might go back and give the first chapter another reread now I actually understand what’s supposed to be going on – suspect the flashbacks in particular will make more sense now. Black Panther, on the other hand, went right over my head from beginning to end – I’m not sure if it’s a comic that makes more sense to regular comic readers but I was just confused for most of it. Disappointing, as the overall story and concept seems really cool, but it’s not for me alas.

    Penric 1 is definitely worth reading before Penric 2, and Penric 3 and (with some reservations due to portrayal of sex work) 4 are worth reading afterwards. Enjoy!

  16. @JJ: implies general scorn and incredulity. “You don’t understand a common British idiom? Do me a favour!”

    @OGH: do get well soon!

    3) One allows as how they’re entitled to their opinion. Personally, I liked The Gods Themselves in a mild sort of way; if I was somehow magically transported back to 1973, though, I’d probably put either or both of the Silverberg novels ahead of it… I can’t think that it’s an exceptionally awful piece of work, though. There are Hugo winners I’ve read that I’ve enjoyed less, and at this stage in Asimov’s career, it was good to see him trying to stretch himself (not necessarily successfully) as a writer, instead of just coasting on past glories.

  17. @JJ

    just as Anthony says. It’s a rather multipurpose phrase, which just to confuse you can also be used in its ordinary meaning as well!
    The exact level of annoyed-ness it implies is totally down to the tone it’s said in, which….isn’t very helpful when reading a book, is it?

  18. @JJ yeah, it’s a verbal equivalent to rolling one’s eyes at a stupid thing someone says/does. Appears regularly in my internal monologue when certain politically motivated commenters show up here… >_>

  19. Huh. I always considered The Gods Themselves to be one of Asimov’s better novels.

  20. Ack, get better soon, Mike.

    3)
    The Gods Themselves has (to me) one interesting section (the aliens, as you might expect) and weaker sections bracketing it. But worse than THEY MIGHT BE RIGHT? Oh come ON.

    Funny that I was just thinking about ROADSIDE PICNIC yesterday, bringing it up on the SFF Audio podcast recording we did about Arrival.

    But out of the Hugo nominees on that ballot, if I had a chance to vote, would probably go Dying Inside, Anderson, Simak, Asimov, Gerrold, The Book of Skulls.

    And I agree with Nicholas and JJ: Hominids and Humans is probably the weakest Hugo winner of the modern era for me.

  21. Get well soon, Mike!

    Yeah, I’m surprised at the dislike for The Gods Themselves. Yes, the prose is clunky as hell, but then isn’t that true of everything Asimov wrote? But for the ideas — and Asimov was an ideas man first and foremost — it’s by far the best thing he ever did, at least at novel length. It and The End of Eternity are the only two of his novels I ever reread.
    I certainly don’t think it’s any worse than much of Heinlein, for example

  22. @Andrew. I’d rank End of Eternity head and shoulders over TGT (aside from that perfect, middle portion, which is some of the best stuff Asimov has ever done, IMO)

  23. In my mind, the best science fiction that Asimov ever wrote was The Bicentennial Man. Not only is it a great story, but the prose hits a level that I can’t recall in his fiction.

  24. Get well soon, Mike!

    ***
    Kip W: “one wrong move, and I lose the bookmark. “
    I had an epiphany some days ago when I realized that if I simply type e.g. 5/18 in the adress bar of my browser, the browser’s “suggest stuff from browser history”-feature will lead me to the scroll for May 18. (But I do sometimes wish for a widget listing articles with new comments in the last 24/48/72 hours.)

  25. I have Firefox set to show all clicked links as pink (overriding websites like this one which do not) and I only access File770 with Firefox. So I can see which comments I haven’t read yet in the side-scroll. Sadly, this only works for the last 20 comments. (I wish there was a page with the last, say, 100 comment listed. Or 200. Or 1000….)

  26. “Do me a favor” could be said in the same way one might say “Give me a break.”

    It should come as no surprise that there are Game of Thrones wines: Red Blend, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The website says they’ll be available Spring 2017.

  27. Perhaps we can see modern Elvish as a kind of Elvish-based pidgin, something that humans who knew elves might have developed as a means of communication, using Elvish vocabulary but reinterpretring it?

  28. I’m reminded of wonderful BBC interview with Tolkien, in which he asked how he feels about the societies that some students had set up where they would get together and speak Elvish . He looks startled. “But it’s not finished!”

  29. Hominids ain’t Dostoevsky but it’s head and shoulders over the interminable, badly researched idiot plot that is Black/All Clear. At the very least, it’s shorter. And the reader can play the game of “in what way is the protagonist’s latest claim about the US either wrong or misleading?”

  30. @James Yeah, but, honestly, even some of the Rabid Puppies’ stuff is better than that. Blackout/All Clear is, by some way, the worst book I’ve ever written, and I still get furious about how bad it was seven years later.

  31. THE SCROLL PIXELLER (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.

  32. @Andrew Hickey

    Blackout/All Clear is, by some way, the worst book I’ve ever written,

    You are Connie Willis and I claim my five pounds.

  33. Elvish is everywhere
    Elvish is everything
    Elvish is everybody
    Read Return of the King

  34. I quite enjoyed Blackout/All Clear despite acknowledging the various plot flaws and contrivances, but I can’t forgive Willis for having a character who is a history graduate from the UK and yet somehow unfamiliar with the concept of a cryptic crossword. They aren’t a mystery to anyone who has ever picked up a non-tabloid newspaper in that country…!

  35. @Andrew M

    Perhaps we can see modern Elvish as a kind of Elvish-based pidgin, something that humans who knew elves might have developed as a means of communication, using Elvish vocabulary but reinterpretring it?

    I thought about that too, but then it would need to have lots of English words mixed into it, and I’m sure they’ve avoided that. Also, take a look at this Quenya course. Pidgens tend to discard inflections, but the course shows that neo-Quenya is heavy in inflections that simply don’t exist in English (e.g. for the ablative).

    What it doesn’t have is much in the way of syntax. (E.g. how do subordinate clauses work? What’s the word order?) In that sense (and maybe only in that sense) it does seem like a pidgen.

    @Soon Lee

    Out of interest, does the same apply to Klingon? I mean, in both instances, there are only a few canonical phrases (if you include the TV seasons & movies only).

    In this case, Paramount paid linguist Marc Okrand to create a real language for Klingon because Nimoy and others wanted the Klingons speaking something better than nonsense syllables. As a result, Klingon has a fairly complete grammar.

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