Pixel Scroll 6/17/20 How Many Pixels Will It Take? One For Peter, Two For Paul, Three To Post On My Facebook Wall

(1) WORLD FANTASY CON UPDATE. The chairs of World Fantasy Con 2020 announced the availability of sponsored memberships for People of Color.

We at World Fantasy Convention 2020 support diversity in all aspects of fantasy and horror. It is our hope that our virtual convention will be attended by a diverse membership, many of whom are using their craft to create literature and art that not only entertain but introduce fantasy enthusiasts to a wide range of cultures. Many WFC members feel the same and are taking steps toward encouraging people of color to participate in this year’s virtual convention. As a result, we’ve received several offers to sponsor the memberships for people of color to participate in the Virtual World Fantasy Convention.
 
If you would like to apply for one of these sponsored memberships, please complete the request form.

The form includes this explanation —

Only two criteria are required to request one of these sponsored memberships: (1) you must be actively participating in some aspect of fantasy or horror (examples: author, artist, collector, bookseller, etc.); (2) you must consider yourself a person of color.

(2) F&SF. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s July/Aug 2020 cover art by Alan M. Clark is for the story “All Hail the Pizza King and Bless His Reign Eternal” by David Erik Nelson.

(3) IN BLOOM AGAIN. Grady Hendrix offers advice about reading Ulysses. First, that you should do it.  

…Everyone should read Ulysses at some point in their life. It’s a book unlike any other, a book that knocks you out of your comfort zone, a book that makes your brain strain like you’re reaching for something on a high shelf, and it’s really, really funny. I’ve read it a couple of times and here’s my advice:

Step 1) RELAX.
You’re going to miss things. It’s okay. Some things are worth missing, some things are boring, some things are references that don’t make any sense in today’s world, so who cares? Joyce didn’t want people to puzzle out his book like the answers to an exam, he wanted to present a slice of life in all its freaky majesty and stupidity. Keep looking up at the stars, not down at your feet.

Step 2) Like a shark, keep moving forward.
Reading this book is like trying to drink a waterfall. The point is the overall impression, not so much the individual details. Just keep pushing ahead, don’t sit there with a magnifying glass trying to appreciate every single word. Joyce himself said he put in a buttload of puzzles and tricks and things that don’t make sense for literary critics and scholars, just to mess with their heads, so don’t get hung up on them…..

(4) TROOPER STORM. A conflict between the top officer of the Star Wars costuming group the 501st Legion and a local United Kingdom unit led to a suspension of the officer: “Major Costume Club Drama: 501st LCO Ousted in Apparent Coup d’État”, a long post at Costuming, Cosplay & Costume Clubs 101, tries to explain what happened.

We’ve observed different types and degrees of #CostumeClub drama over a period of more than 10 years, but never have we seen something as “grand mal” as this: in a secret hearing held by the world’s largest costume club, the 501st Legion, the club’s president (called the Legion Commanding Officer, or LCO) was found “guilty” of a minor offense and sentencing her to a six-month suspension from the club. This effectively removed her from the position of LCO that she had been elected to in February, 2020….

  • The LCO, under her authority to oversee the club, questioned the leadership of the UKG (the 501st local chapter, or garrison, in the United Kingdom) about their charitable donation practices, which include the possible misuse of collected funds, as well as the possible intimidation of UKG members to donate in order to be permitted to participate at club events. In other words, “pay for play”, which is a violation of the 501st’s charter, as is the possible misuse of the collected funds.
  • Members of the UKG leadership accused the LCO of “humiliating” them on their forum and brought charges against her.
  • Using the club’s bylaws, the Legion leadership then held a hearing (a secretive hearing that the overall membership had no knowledge of until it was too late) in which the LCO was found guilty and sentenced to a six month suspension, effectively removing her from the position of LCO.

(5) BIGFOOT. On Soundcloud, hear an excerpt from Devolution by Max Brooks read by Judy Greer, Max Brooks, Jeff Daniels, Nathan Fillion and full cast.

The #1 bestselling author of World War Z returns with a horror tale that blurs the lines between human and beast, and asks, What are we capable of when we’re cut off from society?

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Brooks about his new novel:

In Devolution, the residents of a remote and tiny Washington town called Greenlop are menaced by creatures following the eruption of Mount Rainier.

“As with all my books, for every hour I spent writing, I must have spent maybe between 10 and a hundred hours researching,” says Brooks. “I mean, I researched everything. I researched how Mount Rainier would really erupt. I researched how those houses — these smart eco-homes — would actually work with a friend of mine who worked for Microsoft. I made those weapons, by hand, just to see if they were possible, with the materials the character have. I went to the Pacific Northwest to the space where I put Greenloop to see if my characters could walk out on their own. And, just FYI, they couldn’t. That is some brutal lethal terrain out there. As far as the Bigfoot creatures themselves, I’ve always studied the lore but I really tried to research genuine primate biology and behavior. I tried to go the factual route. If there was a giant species of ape living in North America, how would they live? I went the path of facts and science.”

(6) BARKING ZONE. Marona’s Fantastic Tale on YouTube is a trailer for a new French animated film that was virtually released last Friday.

Marona is a half-breed Labrador whose life leaves deep traces among the humans she encounters. After an accident, she reflects on all the homes and different experiences she’s had. As Marona’s memory journeys into the past, her unfailing empathy and love brings lightness and innocence into each of her owners’ lives

(7) BRYMER OBIT. Well-known puppeteer Pat Brymer died April 12 at the age of 70 according to The Hollywood Reporter.

…Brymer also served as principal puppeteer on Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America: World Police (2004), for which he also “portrayed” Baxter, the bartender and limo driver. His credits included such other features as Short Circuit (1986), My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), Extreme Movie (2008).

Star Wars veteran John Dykstra led the team that built the animatronic Bushwood Country Club gopher that bedeviled Murray’s Carl Spackler in Caddyshack (1980), but it was Brymer, as the principal puppeteer, who gave him life.

Brymer created an updated version of the woolly Lamb Chop character for renowned puppeteer and ventriloquist Shari Lewis. In the 1990s, they collaborated on the PBS shows Lamb Chop’s Play-Along and The Charlie Horse Music Pizza and on Lamb Chop on Broadway.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 1940 — In the John W. Campbell, Jr. edited Astounding Science-Fiction, Robert Heinlein’s “The Roads Must Roll” was first published. Heinlein would reprint it in The Man Who Sold The MoonThe Past Through Tomorrow and The Best of Robert Heinlein. Through the Eighties, it was a favorite of genre anthologists. It was adapted for both Dimension X and X Minus One. MidAmeriCon II (2016) would give it a Retro Hugo for Best Novelette over “Blowups Happen” by, errr, the same author. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.] [Note: There was a problem forwarding John’s entries to OGH with the hyperlinks included. They will be added as soon as possible,]

  • Born June 17, 1876 – Norman Grisewood.  His Zarlah the Martian of 1909, with travel between planets, and an advanced civilization on Mars that had antigravity machines, made him a pioneer; Gernsback’s Ralph 124C41+ came in 1911.  (Died 1923) [JH]
  • Born June 17, 1898 – Maurits Cornelis Escher.  Called himself a “reality enthusiast”.  Worked mainly in lithographs and woodcuts.  “Mathematicians,” he wrote, “have opened the gate leading to an extensive domain.”  Touched our field with e.g. Relativity and Waterfall.  His work used e.g. for this cover of Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang and this one of The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s Memory.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born June 17, 1903 William Bogart. Pulp fiction writer. He is best remembered for writing several Doc Savage novels, using the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. Actually, he’s responsible for thirteen of the novels, a goodly share of the number done. It’s suspected that most of his short stories were Doc Savage pastiches. (Died 1977.)(CE)
  • Born June 17, 1931 Dean Ing, 89. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Soft Targets and I know I read all of his Man-Kzin Wars stories as I went through a phase of reading all that popcorn literature set in Niven’s universe. I also liked his L-5 Community series which he wrote with Mack Reynolds though I won’t re-read it lest the suck fairy visit it. It looks like he stopped writing genre fiction about fifteen years ago. (CE)
  • Born June 17, 1941 William Lucking, 79. Here because he played Renny in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. (I know I’ve seen it, but I’ll be damned if I remember much about it.’)  He’s also had one-offs in Mission: ImpossibleThe Incredible HulkThe American HeroThe QuestVoyagersX-FilesThe Lazarus ManMillenniumDeep Space Nine and Night Stalker. (CE)
  • Born June 17, 1948 – Sandy Cohen 72.  A dozen book notes for Delap’s F & SF Review.  Helpful at many conventions; a leading Art Show auctioneer; recently his management of the Dealers’ Room at the 2019 World Fantasy Con was applauded in Locus 707.  [JH]
  • Born June 17, 1953 Phyllis Weinberg, 67. She’s a fan who was married to fellow fan Robert E. Weinberg. She co-edited the first issue of The Weird Tales Collector. She co-chaired World Fantasy Convention 1996. (CE)
  • Born June 17, 1955 – Themistokles Kanellakis, 65. Prolific Perry Rhodan artist; eighty covers, three hundred sixty interiors.  Here is a cover for Terra Astra featuring “Wanderer” [Cora Buhlert, is that right for Irrläufer?] and another featuring “The Forbidden Generation”.  [JH]
  • Born June 17, 1977 – Tomasz Jedruszek, 43. A dozen covers, interiors too.  Here is a Kuttner collection headed by “Robots Have No Tails”; here is Sparrow Fallinghere is Holy Sister.  [JH]
  • Born June 17, 1982 Jodie Whittaker, 38. The Thirteenth Doctor, now in her third series. She played Ffion Foxwell in the Black Mirror‘s “The Entire History of You”, and was Samantha Adams in Attack the Block, a horror SF film. (CE)
  • Born June 17, 1982 Arthur Darvill, 38. Actor who’s had two great roles. The first was playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions. The second, and to my mind the more interesting of the two, was playing the time-traveller Rip Hunter in the Legends of Tomorrow. He also played Seymour Krelborn in The Little Shop of Horrors at the Midlands Arts Centre, and Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe. (CE)
  • Born June 17, 1997 – Jadna Alana,23. Brazilian writer, singer, “always surrounded by books and with many ideas in her head”; first novel published at age 18, two more, two shorter stories.  This anthology has her “Shadow of Night”.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd shows that some resources are more renewable than you think, if you have the right technology.
  • The Wizard of Id has an unexpected notion about throwing a curse.

(11) MY BACK PAGES. Rich Lynch invites readers to download “the newest issue of my personal time capsule,” My Back Pages, at eFanzines.

Issue #24 was assembled in the middle of the ongoing world health crisis and has essays involving large cities and small college towns, a heavenly altarpiece and a demon barber, lost photographs and discovered keepsakes, huge spheres and regular-sized disk jockeys, blue skies and a robot deluge, national elections and regional theatre, famous writers and forgotten outcomes, major tourist attractions and minor league baseball, sharp razors and a pandemic beard, fan friends and an unseen enemy, cancelled conventions and rescheduled meetings, rich pastries and penniless college students, good musicals and bad taste, dumb questions and dumber suggestions.  And also the stuff legends are made of.

(12) THE ANSWER MY FRIENDS. You’ll find it blowing in “The Wind in the Willows: Part One” available for listening online at the Parson’s Nose Theater.

Kenneth Grahame’s charmingly funny 1907 tale of the “Riverbankers” – Moley, Ratty, Badger, Toad – the animals (or are they?) who dwell along the Thames. Culled from bedtime tales he told his blind son, Alistair, Grahame’s stories are full of the universal longing for friendship, home, adventure and courage adults seem to forget about until reminded, and then are so delighted to have found again.

(13) HONEST TRAILER TIME. The Screen Junkies continue their series of “honest trailers” for old movies with a look at Shrek 2.

(14) FROM ANOTHER WORLD. “Scientists Find The Biggest Soft-Shelled Egg Ever, Nicknamed ‘The Thing'”. My first reaction was that they didn’t exactly stretch their creativity trying to name this specimen. Then again, it was found in Antarctica, and maybe they had the Campbell story in mind, which would be clever. The NPR article doesn’t say.

…The object was more than 11 by 7 inches in size and looked like a deflated football. Clarke immediately realized that The Thing was a giant egg — a soft-shelled egg. And it was from 66 million years ago, around the time when an asteroid hit Earth and led to dinosaur extinction.

Many turtles, snakes and lizards lay eggs with soft, flexible shells. The Thing is the largest soft-shelled egg ever, by a long shot, says Clarke.

This fossilized egg is also one of the biggest animal eggs ever discovered, second only to the egg of the extinct elephant bird from Madagascar.

It’s also appropriate that this piece originated on NPR’s All Things Considered. Get it? D’oh.

(15) WHERE IT ALL CAME DOWN. This demonstrates the power of…something. Oregonlive reports “Now you can visit Exploding Whale Memorial Park on the Oregon coast”.

Florence, near where the whale — or as a KATU reporter referred to it at the time “a stinking whale of a problem” — washed up, is finally honoring this beautiful moment in history with a new park.

It was the people of Florence who picked the name Exploding Whale Memorial Park.

“We asked the community for name suggestions, narrowed those 120-plus names down to nine, and had the community vote on them,” said Florence city project manager Megan Messmer.

The park offers views of the Siuslaw River and Bridge and the sand dunes on the south side of the river, according to the City of Florence’s website.

(16) THEY SEEK IT HERE, THEY SEEK IT THERE. “Dark matter hunt yields unexplained signal”

An experiment searching for signs of elusive dark matter has detected an unexplained signal.

Scientists working on the Xenon1T experiment have detected more activity within their detector than they would otherwise expect.

This “excess of events” could point to the existence of a previously undetected dark matter particle called an axion.

Dark matter comprises 85% of matter in the cosmos, but its nature is unknown.

Whatever it is, it does not reflect or emit detectable light, hence the name.

There are three potential explanations for the new signal from the Xenon1T experiment. Two require new physics to explain, while one of them is consistent with a hypothesised dark matter particle called a solar axion.

The findings have been published on the Arxiv pre-print server.

(17) I’M FOREVER… “Blowing bubbles: Soapy spheres pop pollen on fruit trees.” The BBC has the story:

Japanese researchers have succeeded in fertilising pear trees using pollen carried on the thin film of a soap bubble.

They’ve been searching for alternative approaches to pollination, because of the decline in the number of bees worldwide.

When fired from a bubble gun, the delicate soapy spheres achieved a success rate of 95%.

The researchers are now testing drones that fire bubbles for pollination.

(18) BIG SJWCs. “Endangered cheetahs snapped in award-winning photos”. See the few places where cheetahs are prospering… Lots of pictures, including a carnivorous pushmi-pullyu.

Charity picture book series Remembering Wildlife has announced the 10 winners of its cheetah photography competition.

The winners were picked from more than 2,400 entrants, with the winning images showing cheetahs in Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa.

The images will be published in the book Remembering Cheetahs in October this year, alongside images donated by world-leading wildlife photographers. Competition entry fees will be distributed to cheetah-protection projects in Namibia and Kenya.

With slightly more than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild, Remembering Wildlife aims to create awareness of the threats to wildlife.

(19) NOISE REDUCTION. Sounds too good to be true. “Facebook to let users turn off political adverts”.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg says users will be able to turn off political adverts on the social network in the run-up to the 2020 US election.

…Rival social platform Twitter banned political advertising last October.

“For those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you — so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Neil Gaiman — 3 Books That Have Changed My Life” on YouTube is a video from 2010 where Gaiman talks about his love of C.S. Lewis, Michael Moorcock, and Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore and drawn by Steve Bissette.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Dennis Howard, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, BravoLimaPoppa, Gordon Van Gelder, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xopher Halftongue.]

47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/17/20 How Many Pixels Will It Take? One For Peter, Two For Paul, Three To Post On My Facebook Wall

  1. (9) I never read Soft Targets but I did read the shorter version “Very Proper Charlies” and, like Cat, I’ve read all his MKW stuff.

  2. (3) I haven’t read “Ulysses” yet (it’s on my computer as of this week; Kobo has it for free) but I did read Finnegan’s wake. Puns in multiple languages is one thing I remember.

  3. (18) cheetah photography competition
    I didn’t even know that cheetahs could…

    Never mind.

  4. @4: it could be they said / they said, or it could be worse; I wonder whether the “leadership” who conducted that closed hearing is going to dissolve the people that voted in the LCO and elect a new people.

    @9: I remember liking Soft Targets when I read it ~35 years ago, but I suspect its simplifications/biases wouldn’t read as well now.

    NPR discusses the terminology behind WHO’s kerfuffle on whether asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers transmit the disease.

  5. In Hugo reading: I had forgotten how sharp the writing is in the Expanse series. Some really impressive stuff. I’m very disturbed by the direction the plot is going (just finished book 7, Persepolis Rising and started novella 7.5, Auberon), and nervous about how the Corey team is gonna make everything right by the end of book 9!

  6. Contrarius: I had forgotten how sharp the writing is in the Expanse series.

    Yeah, even though they’re all doorstoppers, I’ve found them to be edge-of-the-seat page-turners that just fly by.

  7. Chip Hitchcock says I remember liking Soft Targets when I read it ~35 years ago, but I suspect its simplifications/biases wouldn’t read as well now.

    Oh I’ve doubt of that. Ing was anything but subtle in his characterisation of the enemy herein. And that wouldn’t play well today.,

  8. JJ says Yeah, even though they’re all doorstoppers, I’ve found them to be edge-of-the-seat page-turners that just fly by.

    I read the first several then switched to listening to them by I think the third novel. The narrator actually does a lovely job with them which makes for a fascinating listen while walking. (Another activity I’m missing while under house confinement.) I’ve got to get back to them as I’m several books behind.

    And I’ve absolutely no interest in the series as I’ve got my own idea of what everyone looks already.

  9. @Cat —

    I read the first several then switched to listening to them by I think the third novel. The narrator actually does a lovely job with them which makes for a fascinating listen while walking.

    Yeah, Jefferson Mays is one of my favorite narrators. He also did a GREAT job with Too Like the Lightning. I was just gobsmacked when they switched narrators for books 2 and 3 of Palmer’s series — and switching to a gawdawful reader like T. Ryder Smith, of all things! I felt very bad for Palmer about that. I fantasize about paying Mays to rerecord those books, but I’ll have to win the lottery first!

    And I’ve absolutely no interest in the series as I’ve got my own idea of what everyone looks already.

    I hate most of the casting for the show. I haven’t watched it past the first season, in part because of that.

  10. 16) There is a fourth possibility: experimental error. A little tritium contaminating the xenon, perhaps. But it’d sure be nice to have some new physics for the first time in, uh, how long is it now?

  11. Lis Riba said:
    (18) cheetah photography competition
    I didn’t even know that cheetahs could…
    Enter in photography competitions? They do, but cheetahs never win 😉

  12. 3) I read Ulysses a long time ago and was bewitched, bothered and bewildered. I couldn’t get past the first page of Finnegans Wake.

  13. (12) Long ago I recorded my discovery in a Charing Cross Road bookshop (those were the days) of First Whisper of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ (1944) by Kenneth Grahame. This contains the storytelling letters to his son in which the great book’s characters first took shape, plus a hitherto unpublished story about a different set of talking animals – including a mole. His widow Elspeth’s occasionally glutinous introduction takes up nearly half the slim (89pp) volume, and without any apparent sense of irony tells the tale of the original mole that inspired it all. If you have tears to shed, prepare to shed them now. Apparently Grahame went out into the garden one night and found a robin and a mole having a tug-o’-war with a huge worm as the rope. The robin left in haste, but Grahame grabbed the mole and decided that his small son, then asleep, would like to see it next morning. So he placed the mole in a stout hamper in the kitchen, added some worm-laden chunks of turf in case it fancied a snack, weighted down the lid, and went to bed. During the night, evidently, the resourceful animal used its powerful digging arms to lever up the lid, and got out on to the kitchen floor. Where, bright and early next morning, the Grahames’ aged and near-sighted housekeeper mistook it for a rat and beat it to death with her broom. Aaaahhhh.

  14. @10
    The xkcd made me sad, for some reason.

    @3
    No.

    @9
    Jodie Whittaker is a cruelly-underappreciated Doctor. I haven’t seen much of her tenure, but she’s delightful in what I’ve seen. The idea of a brilliant but abrasive character suddenly becoming female after decades as a male, and dealing with the local prejudices and gender norms is rich with possibility. I hope they milk it. I think of some of the Bakers’ antics: could a woman get away with that? But I digress.

    @16
    Ehhh… we’ll see. As a former scientist-in-training, I always thought the thrill of dark matter was its elusive intransigence. We don’t know! Maybe there’s a lot more we don’t know. Maybe some of what we know we don’t know. You know? I’d almost hate for the answer to be something tractable, like axions. Just more standard theory stuff. Meh, we’ll see.

  15. 9) I actually just watched Resolution (the Doctor Who New Year’s special between seasons 11 & 12 and liked it a lot, even if it was another Dalek episode. I spent most of S11 really enjoying Whittaker and the rest of the cast, but being less happy with the actual episodes they were in; fingers crossed for S12, which just arrived on Tuesday.

  16. (4) This really sounds very dubious. The British fans “felt humiliated”? The LCO was ousted in a super top secret meeting? Really?

  17. I like the casting of The Expanse. No, it didn’t match my mental images, but adaptations never do, and in this case, it actually made me realize that my imaginings had been a bit limited. There’s a few where I still prefer the one that was in my mind originally, but there’s also several where I prefer the show’s version. I really liked the casting of Bobbie, even though it bore no resemblance to what I’d imagined. I struggled a bit with Amos, but their version has grown on me.

    (It may help that I never had particularly vivid images of what many looked like.)

  18. Joe H. says I actually just watched Resolution (the Doctor Who New Year’s special between seasons 11 & 12 and liked it a lot, even if it was another Dalek episode. I spent most of S11 really enjoying Whittaker and the rest of the cast, but being less happy with the actual episodes they were in; fingers crossed for S12, which just arrived on Tuesday.

    I often think with the rebooted Who that I enjoy the acting of the cast far more than I do the actual stories. Occasionally a story is truly fantastic but generally speaking I just enjoy the Doctor and Her Companions. Or the Doctor and His Companions. Though I admit I’m looking forward to season three (spoiler alert!) which is going to see a pared down number of Companions.

    Now reading: Best Semi-prozine materials of the Hugo packet. FIYAH and Beneath Ceaseless Skies in particular are very impressive.

  19. (14) My guess would be that if the nickname “The Thing” doesn’t come directly from Campbell’s story, it probably comes indirectly from it. John Carpenter’s adaption, in particular, is still quite popular.

  20. Lis Carey: This really sounds very dubious. The British fans “felt humiliated”? The LCO was ousted in a super top secret meeting? Really?

    Yes, if the British leadership were upset about the claim that their charitable funds weren’t being properly distributed, all they had to do was produce the records showing that this wasn’t the case.

    The fact that they were “humiliated” indicates that they had good reason to feel that way, that they hadn’t been ensuring that their funds were being distributed properly, and they were forcing people to donate in order to participate. In which case, well, they earned that feeling, didn’t they?

    And they still don’t seem to have responded to either the claims of misallocated funds or forced donations, so it would appear that there is a lot of substance to those allegations.

  21. @Xtifr —

    I like the casting of The Expanse. No, it didn’t match my mental images, but adaptations never do, and in this case, it actually made me realize that my imaginings had been a bit limited.

    But the physical descriptions in this case mean more than they would in a non-sff story. For example, Naomi and Miller are supposed to be extremely tall and thin because they are belters — that is the natural consequence of growing up in low gravity. Yet the actress who plays Naomi is 5’7″ — she’s the shortest member of the group! It’s as though the Game of Thrones folks hired Andre the Giant to play Tyrion’s role. These physical differences mean something. Every time an actor of average height is hired to play one of the belter characters, that destroys another little bit of the worldbuilding — and the conflict-building. Just imagine Spock without the green skin or pointy ears, or a Hobbit the size of Gandalf. Bah.

  22. the 10-year inconsistency between Arthur Darvil’s reported birthdate and age can be attributed to either a typo or time travel. I know which one I prefer!

  23. Danny Sichel says the 10-year inconsistency between Arthur Darvil’s reported birthdate and age can be attributed to either a typo or time travel. I know which one I prefer!

    Unfortunately it was my mistake. I’ve informed OGH who will correct it. Thanks for the catch! I still prefer his Rip Hunter character to his Rory Williams character. They should spin the former off into his own series!

  24. For example, Naomi and Miller are supposed to be extremely tall and thin because they are belters — that is the natural consequence of growing up in low gravity.

    From the very limited evidence we have, the natural consequence of growing up in low gravity would probably be to die.

    And in any case, there’s no need to grow up in low-g. If they have the resources to do something as catastrophically idiotic as spinning Ceres up for centrifugal force, it should be trivial to make small one – mile in diameter habitats. But this is just an area where the worldbuilding in the Expanse is best ignored. At least before it gives me a headache.

  25. @P J Evans: Yes, I know of that version too, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as well known as Carpenter’s version. I’d say Carpenter is the most likely source, with Campbell and the ’51 movie approximately tied as possible alternate sources.

    @Contrarius: Obviously “belters are taller” is one bit of the story they didn’t preserve in the adaptation. Which is frankly fine by me, since they took so much effort to preserve the racial diversity of the characters, which is usually the first thing to go in adaptations. In particular, finding the right mix for mixed-race roles (of which there are a lot, especially with the belters) would probably have reduced their pool of available actors to zero if they’d also insisted that all the belter characters have the right body type. Yes, they might have been able to find a tall thin black actor who could pass to play Naomi, but they wanted to find one with the right mix instead. And I honestly think they made the right decision there. In fact, I applaud the decision.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I believe in the whole “low-g makes you tall” concept in the first place. It doesn’t bother me at all that they abandoned it, because it honestly just seems a bit silly to me. I’m pretty sure genetics doesn’t work that way…

  26. @Xftr:

    Honestly, I’m not sure I believe in the whole “low-g makes you tall” concept in the first place.

    Me, either, but A Spectre Is Haunting Texas wouldn’t’ve been the same without it.

  27. @John A Arkansawyer: That was the first thing that came to my mind too. Leiber has a lot to answer for, but it was kind of a fun ride. 😀

  28. @Xtifr —

    Honestly, I’m not sure I believe in the whole “low-g makes you tall” concept in the first place. It doesn’t bother me at all that they abandoned it, because it honestly just seems a bit silly to me. I’m pretty sure genetics doesn’t work that way…

    It isn’t genetics, of course, it’s environment. Nature AND nurture, remember?

    My point is that the TV show ignores fundamental differences between character groups, not just questions about who does or does not have blond hair or whatever. And yes, I know they probably couldn’t have found enough exceptionally tall actors for the roles — which is why God invented things like CGI and nifty camera angles. Or do you really believe that all the Hobbit and Dwarf actors in the Tolkien movies were exceptionally short? 😉

  29. You’re both presenting an incomplete picture of Leiber, who projected (in this and other stories) that the range of survivable physiotypes would expand because they weren’t penalized in the absence of gravity; there were Fats, who were (by 1960’s Earth standards) massively obese, as well as Thins and Athletics. We’re given one example of descent — when “Scully” La Cruz’s great-grandson revisits Earth he didn’t wear the exoskeleton that gave the narrator his nickname only because there was a better option (an antigravity skinsuit) — but we’re also given that people can shift (e.g., his Texan wife becomes a Thin), so it’s not clear that Lieber was a Lysenkoist even for fictional purposes. I’m not sure I believe people would ever get that thin as I was told by an MD that the semi-Thin I knew in college probably knew he wouldn’t last long. (It’s apparently a known syndrome; he died of congestive heart failure before graduating.) But I wouldn’t assume even this as we don’t have data.

    Given that I used to get a demonstration every day (by how I fit into my car going to and from work) of the truism that we grow an inch overnight and lose it during the day, I find it entirely believable that people mostly-relieved of gravity would grow Thinward naturally, even absent genetic influences; for comparison, what do we see when plants are grown on the ISS? (I know they’ve been raising salad greens but don’t remember descriptions of what the plants looked like.) I also wonder how quickly genetic drift could happen, as in the experiments involving breeding only the less-hostile specimens of arctic foxes; domestication doesn’t happen instantly but the experimenters were surprised how fast it was approached. If the Belter habitats, ship designs, etc. are more accommodating of the tall and lean, how much would that change breeding success in a rather Darwinian environment?

  30. Our bodies do stretch and grow a little during the course of the day, but only within a small range defined by our skeleton. Someone who is 170 cm may actually vary by couple cm during the course of the day under full-g, but they’re not going to magically stretch to 190 cm when they go to low-g! 🙂 They may stay closer to the high end of their natural range, but they’re not going to exceed that range.

    People aren’t plants, and don’t grow the way plants do.

    (As for thinness–belters in the show are mostly pretty thin. Enough so that it seems to stand out mildly as a defining characteristic. Although that may have something to do with the fact that they tend to be poor. And poor nutrition, at least on Earth, may I point out, seems to result in shorter people.)

    As for it being important, let me just say that I’m taking your word for it that the books even said that. And yes, I’ve read all the books, but that’s not a detail that stuck with me. It’s not like Tolkien where height was something that came up all the time, and was even occasionally plot-relevant. As a check, I just asked my brother if he recalled any notable physical characteristics of the belters from the books, and he came up with “fragile”. So then I asked him about height, and he didn’t remember anything about it in particular.

    Honestly, I’m glad they spent their limited FX budget on more interesting things than this trivial and easily-overlooked detail.

  31. Oh, and before you drag out the books to quote chapter and verse at me, let me say that I don’t doubt that they did mention the height thing. It’s just not a detail that stuck with me. Which is also true of the races of some of the significant characters, including, I’m embarrassed to admit, Bobbie. And I’m not sure I could tell you what the book said about the color of the Rocinante–if the show got that wrong, don’t tell me. 🙂

  32. @Xtifr —

    Our bodies do stretch and grow a little during the course of the day, but only within a small range defined by our skeleton. Someone who is 170 cm may actually vary by couple cm during the course of the day under full-g, but they’re not going to magically stretch to 190 cm when they go to low-g! ?

    Duh.

    They’re not talking about people who went out to the belts as adults — they’re talking about people who were born and raised in the belts. Entirely different thing. Different stresses on the musculoskeletal system during growth are gonna result in some significant anatomical changes by adulthood.

    And incidentally — astronauts who spend as little as a couple of months in orbit gain about 2 inches in height, so don’t discount those adult changes either.

    They may stay closer to the high end of their natural range, but they’re not going to exceed that range.

    What do you consider “natural range”?? My own brother was 6’10” — and he grew up in full gravity. 😉 IIRC, the tallest man ever was almost 9 feet — I’m not gonna look it up right now. So “natural range” encompasses a lot of height!

    As for it being important, let me just say that I’m taking your word for it that the books even said that.

    It’s important because it sets the belters apart visually — and a huge part of the plot, especially in the earlier books, is about the schisms between the belters and the Earth/Mars folks. Ignoring the physical differences makes them all blend together — like, as I mentioned, making Hobbits and dwarves Gandalf-sized would. And remember: slang for belter is “skinny”, and slang for Earther is “squat”. The physical differences were very important to the groups involved.

    And yes, I’ve read all the books, but that’s not a detail that stuck with me. It’s not like Tolkien where height was something that came up all the time

    Speaking of which: The books constantly mention “belter” shrugs and “belter” nods and other belter hand signals — I mean, constantly. That’s another thing that sets the belters apart. And the show ignores them completely, IIRC. Bah again. (And yes, the height and weight differences are mentioned frequently. Not so much in the later books, where I am now, since the specifically belter conflict is less prominent.)

    Which is also true of the races of some of the significant characters, including, I’m embarrassed to admit, Bobbie.

    I don’t so much care about the races, since diverse races are represented in all the different groups (Earth, Mars, belt). But since you mention Bobbie — yes, IIRC she was supposed to be of Samoan or Islander extraction, and the actress is too. She’s also supposed to be a very large woman, which the actress isn’t, but at least she’s not actively short. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the episodes with Bobbie in them, though. (Amos is also supposed to be very large, and isn’t, but in the episodes I’ve seen, I didn’t mind him.)

    Oh, and before you drag out the books to quote chapter and verse at me

    I don’t have text copies of any of the Expanse books, so you’re safe from that at least! 😉

    Honestly, I’m glad they spent their limited FX budget

    That’s what I worried about before the show started airing — how are they gonna do the belters’ height with limited TV budgets? Turns out they just didn’t!

    on more interesting things than this trivial and easily-overlooked detail.

    There ya go again, calling Hobbit and dwarf height “trivial and easily-overlooked”. 😉

  33. P.S. — I came across a quote describing Bobbie when she was first introduced. No, I wasn’t looking for it — I was just looking for pics of the actress. Turns out Bobbie is described as “over two meters tall”, which translates to more than 6’6″ — and she’s also described as “over a hundred kilos at one g”, which translates to more than 220 pounds.

    Which means that Naomi should also be more than 6’6″, because in one of the books — I think it’s book 7 — it is said that Naomi and Bobbie are about the same height, but that Bobbie outweighs her by about 50 kg (IIRC).

    That’s hardly trivial or easily-overlooked!

  34. What do I consider the natural range? About 5 cm or so, i.e. about 2″. Or, exactly what you cited for astronauts. But I don’t see any way how someone who, on Earth, might have ended up 5’2″ would magically become 6’2″ just because they were raised with a lot more exposure to low-g.

    And yes, the belters should be visually distinct–and they are! They’re noticeably skinnier on average, as I said before. Which fits with the nickname “skinnies”. Look at Ashford and Drummer. Total ectomorphs. On the other hand, Fred Johnson is not, because, despite being a belter, he was born on Earth.

    And, of course, stylistically, the belters are very different, which is what I would expect. Cultural differences should be more noticeable than physical differences, since they still regularly interbreed with new migrants. They are not an isolated population.

    it is said that Naomi and Bobbie are about the same height, but that Bobbie outweighs her by about 50 kg (IIRC).

    That’s hardly trivial or easily-overlooked!

    I find it both. It was easy enough to overlook that I totally did so! 🙂

    Which, I suspect, means there’s little point in continuing this argument, since it’s beginning to seem very unlikely that either of us will convince the other to subscribe to our point of view.

    I will, however, note that the writers are actively involved in the show, and have said in interviews that they’re very proud of the way the executives allowed them to have so much influence in the casting! The part they insisted on–the part the writers themselves cared the most about–was getting the races right. So they, at least, apparently didn’t consider the height issue to be as important.

  35. @Xtifr —

    But I don’t see any way how someone who, on Earth, might have ended up 5’2? would magically become 6’2? just because they were raised with a lot more exposure to low-g.

    It isn’t magic — but whether or not you agree with the biology, that’s how Franck and Abraham built their world. You may not believe in warp drives either, but that would hardly be an excuse to film a Star Trek movie without them.

    I find it both. It was easy enough to overlook that I totally did so! ?

    Then you were missing important parts of the worldbuilding and character building, not to mention the plot. For instance, the whole reason that Bobbie is alive is because she is so large — because her size forced her to use an older model of battle armor, which had different capabilities and limitations than the more up-to-date armor. That isn’t trivial!

    And just think what the show and action would look like if the belters were actually as tall as the belters are described in the books. Think how intimidating or off-putting all those tall people surrounding you might be to an Earther. That helps to build both tension and the atmosphere of strangeness and drives the plot forward — it heightens the conflict. And think about how much of an impression Bobbie would make if the actress were as large as the character in the book. She’d be scary, she’d be dominating — and that’s an important part of her character.

    With all the actors at Earth-normal sizes, you’re getting a very impoverished impression of what the show could be. You’re getting human-sized Hobbits.

    I will, however, note that the writers are actively involved in the show, and have said in interviews that they’re very proud of the way the executives allowed them to have so much influence in the casting! The part they insisted on–the part the writers themselves cared the most about–was getting the races right. So they, at least, apparently didn’t consider the height issue to be as important.

    You could hardly expect them to complain about it while the series is ongoing, now could you?

    Which, I suspect, means there’s little point in continuing this argument, since it’s beginning to seem very unlikely that either of us will convince the other to subscribe to our point of view.

    And that’s fine. This discussion started because I said I hated most of the casting. That doesn’t mean that you need to hate it too. It just means that we are concerned about different things — YMMV, and all that.

  36. Chip Hitchcock – small correction. Domesticated foxes were not derived from arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), but from red foxes (V. vulpes). Mostly from the silver color morph, since that was what the fur farms were mostly breeding, but still red foxes.

  37. Ok, you may have a point with Bobbie. But Bobbie’s not even a belter. And I did already say that Bobbie’s casting surprised me.

    Think how intimidating or off-putting all those tall people surrounding you might be to an Earther

    Honestly, I already find the belters in the show more intimidating than the ones in the book! I think they did a first-rate job of giving them a fairly consistent little-bit-scary, little-bit-off feel, while still allowing them to be sympathetic. Which is a tricky thing to pull off with or without height.

    You could hardly expect [the writers] to complain about it while the series is ongoing, now could you?

    I also wouldn’t expect them to be bragging about their influence on the casting choices if they were particularly dissatisfied. I wouldn’t expect complaining, but I would expect something more like polite non-committalness.

    Now, it is possible that the producers simply ruled out height from the start. But that seems implausible: tall, lanky actors who can pass as multi-ethnic are nowhere near as rare as actors of the exact racial mixes mentioned in the book. And the producers would surely have preferred to maximize their options. So I think it’s nearly certain that it was the authors who chose to prioritize race over height. They may have wanted both, but when it came down to it, they chose the one they thought was more important. (Or the two, if we also count skinniness/ectomorphism.)

  38. Not read the books, but I have enjoyed the show, and I agree that the Belters stood out as a culturally different set of people. As for “over a hundred kilos at one g”, did they really write that? Kg are a unit of mass, not weight: one’s mass doesn’t change under different gravitational fields.

  39. @Xtifr —

    I also wouldn’t expect them to be bragging about their influence on the casting choices if they were particularly dissatisfied. I wouldn’t expect complaining, but I would expect something more like polite non-committalness.

    Phhht. They’re trying to sell the show — they aren’t going to be any less than glowing about it in public, regardless of what they might or might not actually think.

    Final words: Human. Sized. Hobbits.

    @Cliff —

    As for “over a hundred kilos at one g”, did they really write that? Kg are a unit of mass, not weight: one’s mass doesn’t change under different gravitational fields.

    Yes, that was a direct quote. They are authors, not science sticklers. 😉

  40. Final words: Human. Sized. Hobbits.

    I thought we agreed to disagree here. Repeating it is unlikely to make it any more convincing than when you said it before. The only thing I see left that might yield some fruitful discussion is the authors. (Which, btw, you’re welcome to declare done if you don’t find it fruitful. I definitely won’t mind.)

    They’re trying to sell the show — they aren’t going to be any less than glowing about it in public

    Obviously they’re going to try to sell the show, but why would they specifically brag about their influence in the casting if they didn’t have any? That seems silly! They could just as easily have said “oh, the casting is great, great actors!” They can glow without actually lying. Especially about something so unusual.

    It makes no sense to me. If they didn’t have a choice, why would they say they did? No one expects the writers to have that much choice in the casting. If they’d simply said they love the casting, no one would bat an eye.

  41. @Xtifr —

    I thought we agreed to disagree here. Repeating it is unlikely to make it any more convincing than when you said it before.

    You’re the one who keeps arguing. I already agreed that YMMV, but you keep on disagreeing with me anyway.

    Obviously they’re going to try to sell the show, but why would they specifically brag about their influence in the casting if they didn’t have any?

    You’re moving the goalposts here. I ain’t playin’ that game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.