Pixel Scroll 6/2/19 A Big Scroll Of Pixel-ly Poxel-ly, Filely Wiley Stuff

(1) WHAT’S NEW. Amal El-Mohtar reviews four sff books in her “Otherworldly” column for the New York Times: “Got Any Time-Travel Plans This Summer?”

The last few years have seen an uptick in pop culture stories featuring time travel, from the repetitions and revisions of “The Good Place” and “Russian Doll” to developments in “Game of Thrones,” “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Sometimes the MacGuffin by which we get to play with anachronism, but often also rooted in questions of free will and determinism, time travel is a fascinating springboard for fiction: Are there many futures, or just one? Can you change the past without changing the future, or yourself? This column brings together books about time fractured and out of joint, time as an unbroken lineage resisting empire, and time travel glimpsed through the overlapping lenses of psychology, philosophy and physics….

(2) DISNEYLAND. The stars come out at night. “Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian and Han Solo stars open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland” at Entertainment Weekly.

On a stage set up outside the life-sized Millennium Falcon that rests in the center of the rocky-mountain town of Black Spire Outpost, Luke, Han, Lando, and the man who brought them to life welcomed the first crowd of guests to the planet Batuu.

(3) JOHN WILLIAMS. “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite” is five minutes of really good new John Williams music composed for the Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Disneyland. (Audio only.)

(4) INSOLVENCY’S EDGE. And don’t forget your souvenirs! Bloomberg has the story: “Go Ahead, Take Our Money: All the Star Wars Merch in Disney’s New Land”.

If you’ve ever wanted your wedding photos held inside a frame by C-3PO’s disembodied hand, you’re in luck for $85. Crave the half-melted face of a battered-down Luke cast in bronze? Dream big, young Padawan, because everything you never thought could be put into production is here.

Pick up a few chance cubes like Watto’s in “The Phantom Menace,” a busted wooden Stormtrooper doll similar to the one young Jyn Erso had in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” or decorate your desk with Hera Syndulla’s prized Kalikori as seen in “Star Wars Rebels.” There’s even a Resistance MRE toolbox filled with pretzels, crackers, and candies designed after the dinner Luke refuses to share with Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

(5) UNANIMATE OBJECTS. From Insider: “Disney has 20 live-action movies of its animated classics planned — here they all are”. If you’re thrilled, great. If not, you can start booing now.

Good news, Disney fans. If you loved Disney’s live-action “The Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast,” the Mouse House is bringing even more animated classics back to life.

From fairy tales like “Snow White” to classics such as “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” Disney’s live-action list continues to grow with more than a dozen in the works.

Some of the movies are complete remakes of their animated counterparts, while others are based on origin stories or sequels to existing live-action adaptations.

(6) HANDSELLING. Cat Rambo livetweeted highlights from Mike Underwood’s online class “The Writers Guide to Selling Books at Conventions.” There’s more than one thread –  get all the content by searching Twitter for #sellbooks.

(7) SINGLETON. TIME Magazine includes one sff novel in its list of “The 11 Best Fiction Books of 2019 So Far”.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James

When a child goes missing in the mythical world of Black Leopard, Red Wolf, a mercenary named Tracker is hired to find him. The novel, the first in a promised trilogy, follows Tracker’s adventures as he passes through ancient cities inspired by African history and mythology looking for the boy. Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James, who described his latest book as an “African Game of Thrones,” shows off his impressive skill at blending mystery, magic and history in this thought-provoking epic.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 2, 1950 Rocketship X-M premiered in theaters.
  • June 2, 2010 — Actor Patrick Stewart was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 2, 1915 Lester del Rey. I’m realizing that del Rey is one of those authors that I know that I’ve read but I can’t exactly remember what it is that I’ve read by him. Even after looking him up on ISFDB, my memory isn’t being jogged. The titles are sort of generic and nothing stands out. So did y’all find memorable by him? (Died 1993.)
  • Born June 2, 1921 Virginia Kidd. She was a writer, literary agent and editor. She established herself as the first female literary agent in the field. She represented the likes of Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, Judith Merril, R.A. Lafferty and Ursula K. Le Guin. Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in his 1990 novel Castleview, in large part on Kidd. (Died 2003.)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman, 82. Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, the second Trek pilot. Like many performers at this time, she appeared also on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits as well. 
  • Born June 2, 1939 Norton Juster, 90. Author of the much beloved Phantom Tollbooth and its less known variant, The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. Adapted in 1970 into a quirky film, now stuck in development hell being remade again. He also wrote The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a story he says was inspired by Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.
  • Born June 2, 1941 Stacy Keach, 78. Though best known for playing hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer, he’s got a long association with our genre starting with being The Mountain of the Cannibal God, an Italian horror film. Next up for him was Class of 1999 followed by voicing both Carl Beaumont / Voice of Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a film I really, really likeMore horror, and a really silly title, await him in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return where The Hollow has a tasteful title which the Man with the Screaming Brain does not provide him. Storm War, also known as Weather Wars, is SF. And then there is Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which is a rather nice piece of film making. And yes, he’s been in a televised version of Macbeth playing Banquo. 
  • Born June 2, 1965 Sean Stewart, 54. Fantastic author whose Galveston novel that won the World Fantasy Award. I highly recommend as well as the Resurrection Man novels. I’ve not read his most set of novels, The Cathy’s Book series, but it’s take on augmented reality sounds intriguing.
  • Born June 2, 1974 Dominic Cooper, 45. Jesse Custer on Preacher. He’s the young Howard Stark in the MCU, including Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter. Damn, I miss the latter, I thought it was a series that showed Marvel at its very best. He played a Constable in From Hell, and Henry Sturges in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
  • Born June 2, 1977 Zachary Quinto, 42. He’s known for his roles as Sylar on Heroes, voice of Pascal Lee in Passage to Mars, Spock in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise as well as Dr. Oliver Thredson in American Horror Story: Asylum
  • Born June 2, 1979 Morena Baccarin, 40. Very long genre history starting with portraying Inara Serra in Firefly and  Serenity; Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Anna in the 2009 version of the series V; Vanessa in Deadpool and Deadpool 2; and Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) BATVAMP. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna looks at Warner Bros’s decision to name Robert Pattinson as the next Batman, noting that Pattinson has been in some well-received independent films in the past few years and and, like Michael Keaton,he has the ability to play a “dark, kinetic oddball.” “Why Robert Pattinson — yes, the former vampire — is a promising pick to play Batman”.

Robert Pattinson, the 33-year-old actor still best known for portraying an emo-teen vampire, is suddenly poised to play the world’s biggest bat. Warner Bros. has approved Pattinson to become the next title star of its multibillion-dollar Batman film franchise, Hollywood trade papers reported Friday. Directed by Matt Reeves (“Planet of the Apes”), “The Batman” — set for release in the summer of 2021 — is believed to center on the character’s formative years. And by choosing Pattinson, the studio spurred a long tradition of debate and complaint among fans.

True to form, the announcement immediately prompted some sharp social media responses, which ranged from “Wow, horrible!! DC comics swings and misses again” to “Have you seen him in anything not named Twilight? Because dude has real chops.”

(12) ONWARD. In theaters March 6, 2020.

Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new original feature film is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae—the team behind “Monsters University.”

(13) DEMAND BUT NO SUPPLY. Science Focus updates readers about “Six sci-fi inventions we’re still waiting for”. “Have you ever seen a science fiction blockbuster and thought: “I want one of those!”? Here’s what some of the UK’s top scientists have to say about our favourite sci-fi inventions.”

1. Learning by plugging in (The Matrix)

Author Malcolm Gladwell’s theory is that all successful people will have spent at least 10,000 hours practicing their skill, but who has time for that? What we want is to ‘plug in’ to the Matrix like Neo did, and become a martial arts expert overnight.

Dr Peter Földiák, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews: “This is probably theoretically possible but there are huge scientific and technical problems that need to be solved before this can be done in practice. To ‘implant’ knowledge directly into the brain, we would need a much better understanding of how information is stored in the brain by neurons, as well as precise mechanisms tapping into those neurons with new information. So while a lot of progress is being made in understanding how the brain works, the actual process of ‘knowledge implantation’ is unfortunately a very distant dream.”

(14) THE FLIGHT OF OTHER DAYS. I wish I knew about this article when people were talking up a Space Force: “Starfleet was closer than you think” (2015) at The Space Review.

After the publication of George Dyson’s book Project Orion, and a few specials, a lot of people know that in the early 1960s DARPA investigated the possibility of a nuclear-pulse-detonation (that is, powered by the explosion of nuclear bombs) spacecraft.

Preceding but also concurrently developed with Apollo, this extremely ambitious project had unbelievable payload capability. Where Apollo at 3,500 tons could only put two tons on the Moon, the smaller Orion (about the same total mass, 4,000 tons) could soft-land 1,200 tons (600 times as much) on the Moon, and the larger (only three times as heavy as Apollo, or 10,000 tons) could soft-land 5,700 tons (nearly 3,000 times as much) on the Moon, or take 1,300 tons of astronauts and consumables on a three-year round-trip to Saturn and back!1 The fission powered Orion could even achieve three to five percent the speed of light, though a more advanced design using fusion might achieve eight to ten percent the speed of light.

Most assume the program was cancelled for technical problems, but that is not the case. Few know how seriously the idea was taken by the top leadership of the US Air Force.

Because internal budget discussions and internal memoranda are not generally released and some only recently declassified, almost nobody knows how close Strategic Air Command (SAC) was to building the beginning of an interstellar-capable fleet. Had the personalities of the Air Force’s civilian leadership been different in 1962, humanity might have settled a good part of the inner solar system and might be launching probes to other stars today. We might also have had the tools to deflect large asteroids and comets….

(15) HOLE OTHER THING. According to Bright Side, “Mysterious Object Punched a Hole in the Milky Way, Scientists Are Confused.”

Space is full of mysteries that have remained unsolved for centuries. But recently, the cosmos has baffled the world with a new, scary abnormality. Apparently, something is tearing holes in the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our Solar System! What if the hole in the Milky Way was torn by a supermassive black hole like the one that dwells in the center of our galaxy? If it was, it’d be a pretty scary scenario. If these two black holes got too close, they wouldn’t be able to escape each other’s gravity, and a collision might be inevitable. And it would be an extremely violent event. But the thing is that the telescopes failed to find the source of the damage. So what could this unseen bullet be? Scientists have several theories.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

48 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/2/19 A Big Scroll Of Pixel-ly Poxel-ly, Filely Wiley Stuff

  1. First!

    I saw Stacy Keach in April at a Q&A sponsored by the Shakespeare Theatre as a result of the departure of its long-time director Michael Kahn. Keach played Richard III here in 1990 in a role that marked his comeback as a classical actor. He still sounded all right although I believe he had a stroke a couple of years ago.

  2. I first saw Stacy Keach in a PBS production of Antigone, as the Chorus. He was damned impressive. Last week’s meeting of the Shakespeare society, someone else was talking about some of his Shakespeare work.

    The Scroll that Wasn’t

  3. @9: a nice big wide-ranging list today. Some thoughts:

    I remember reading del Rey’s Step to the Stars and Mission to the Moon many times, but I was still in elementary school and there weren’t nearly so many titles then. Checking ISFDB for titles tells me Marooned on Mars was another I read the ink off of. Pstalemate had an interesting point (to the ~25yo me) tangled with a lot of emo and possibly buried under poor prose — I haven’t reread it in decades, so details are dim. I remember speaking to him at my first Boskone (1973), and his debatable action at the 1986 Hugos.

    Kellerman is also the arguably-supernatural provoker of Bud Cort in Brewster McCloud, one of the stranger films from a frequently-strange director.

    According to Juster (speaking at the Boston Public Library a few years ago) the Whether Man drawing is modeled on him — The Phantom Tollbooth was created when he and Pfeiffer were upstairs-downstairs neighbors. I thought the movie was dreadful — removing all the strangeness of the book (which I loved) and turning it into extruded Disneyoid product, complete with unnecessary songs — but marmite.

    @14: the article reads like Pournelle in full cry; absent other voices, it’s about as believable, especially wrt payload claims. The attempt to present “nuke” LeMay as somehow slandered is especially strange.

  4. 9) Sean Stewart is great. Nobody’s Son is my favorite because it properly answers the question “what really happens after happily ever after” without letting you down for even a minute.

  5. With the really expensive stuff at Star Wars Galaxy Edge: My experience with DIsney parks is that buying schwag is part of the experience and Disney makes really good schwag. I’m sure the build your lightsaber booth is fun and probably worth the $100. But I will say the most useful thing I ever got at Disney World was a mouse-ear colander I got for $12 and have used for a decade (I needed a colander!)

  6. (2) I think that’s Billy Dee Williams next to Lucas, not Harrison Ford (who’s at the right of that picture). They should have been able to tell….

  7. @9 I remember really liking Lester del Rey’s short story “Helen O’Loy” which is in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame volume 1. Also a couple of his juveniles, “Runaway Robot” (*) and “Rocket Jockey”, which I reread to my nephews more recently and still liked.

    (*) The internet tells me that this was written by Paul W. Fairman from an outline by del Rey.

  8. @Lis Carey
    We’re supposed to get the thunderstorm (a different one) later this morning. I hope it will bring some much needed rain and cool.

    14) Orion always sounded to me like a disaster waiting to happen, so I’m very glad it never got past the planning stage.

  9. 9) “Step to the Stars” is one of the first sci-fi books I remember from my childhood. I loved those WInston novels. If I saw a book with the rocket ship in the circle or the end papers with all the various UFOs and robots and laser beams, I knew I’d enjoy reading it.
    It’s been fun collecting them just for the covers by Alex Schomburg.

    Turns out “The Phantom Tollbooth” is also on my shelves waiting for me to pick it up again.

  10. Agreed on Sean Stewart! Mockingbird is also terrific (even more so once I moved to Houston) and I really enjoyed the entire trilogy of which Galveston is the middle part. (He did a “Clone Wars” tie-in novel that wasn’t too dusty, either.) I wish he were still writing.

  11. I’m not at all sure about Del Rey. I know I read “Helen O’Loy” and liked it, and I know I used to have a juvenile of his that was actually published by Scholastic–one of their rare SF offerings–but I don’t remember the name, and nothing is jogging my memory. I think I liked it, whatever it was. I’ve probably read more by him, but I couldn’t say what.

    The Man with the Screaming Brain may have a silly title, but it was a Bruce Campbell movie, so I saw it. And I enjoyed it. A bit self-conscious in its homage to classic B-moviedom, but still fun.

  12. 6) Oh yes, I’ve been present when Mike’s handsold books at Convergence. He’s really really good at it.

    14) I think Orion is best and was best something for SF novels rather than actual reality.

  13. I’m pretty sure The Runaway Robot was published by Scholastic. I don’t remember the story though.

  14. (9) Mark me down as another fan of Step to the Stars and Runaway Robot. Also of note is Del Rey’s For I am a Jealous People.

    “A Pixel Scroll Title that turns out to have been used before”

  15. I’m mostly familiar with Del Rey’s work as an editor & publisher. Wasn’t he, for better or for worse, the one who decided to give Sword of Shannara a big push when it was first published, thus effectively creating the modern fantasy genre?

  16. I read Del Rey’s “For I am a Jealous People” because Harlan Ellison mentioned it in the forward to one of his own stories. (I think it was one of the ones in Deathbird Stories but I don’t remember which one, to be honest)

  17. Paul Weimer says
    I read Del Rey’s “For I am a Jealous People” because Harlan Ellison mentioned it in the forward to one of his own stories. (I think it was one of the ones in Deathbird Stories but I don’t remember which one, to be honest)

    I’m finding that as I age that a story or novel has to be damn memorable for me to remember it specifically decades on. Unfortunately Del Rey’s fiction just didn’t fall into that category. And I keep just a fraction of everything I read so I don’t have the ability to scan the shelves and say that’s the novel I read. Now something bad doesn’t me to keep the book, ie I don’t need a copy of The Mists of Avalon to remember how cringingly awful it was. And I can remember in quite some detail how good Leiber’s The Big Time was completely from memory.

  18. Re (14) – Niven & Pournelle used an Orion-type (class?) drive in FOOTFALL, FWIW.

  19. @ Cat Eldridge

    I distinctly remember picking up Sword of Shannara when I was in high school, glancing through a few pages, and putting it right back in the county library’s paperback rack.

    P.S. to Joe H. – Didn’t see your post. Oh well.

  20. I don’t think anyone has mentioned “Nerves”, which I believe is Del Rey’s other really famous story. Like “Helen O’Loy” it was included in one of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame volumes. In both cases I remember vaguely what the story was about, but that’s all.

  21. Daniel Dern says Niven & Pournelle used an Orion-type (class?) drive in FOOTFALL, FWIW.

    Wasn’t there an Orion drive in Anderson’s Orion Shall Rise novel? Or was that a reference to some other use of nuclear fission? It’s been decades since I read but I seem to remember that it was.

  22. I don’t think anyone has mentioned “Nerves”, which I believe is Del Rey’s other really famous story.

    ISTR it was also in the “Astounding Science Fiction Anthology”, which would have been where I met it. (It also has “Clash by Night”.)

  23. “Nerves” was nominated for a Retro-Hugo last year by the way. Another notable del Rey short is “My Name is Legion” (time travel and Hitler – a lot of Hitlers in fact).

  24. Speaking of TV shows, I watched the first episode of Doom Patrol (exclusively available on the DC Universe streaming service) and found it was actually pretty good. My plans to cancel the service have been temporarily postponed. Maybe Swamp Thing will seal the deal.

  25. @Daniel Dern: Niven & Pournelle used an Orion-type (class?) drive in FOOTFALL, FWIW

    Indeed they did, and it made for a cool story. It also provided a particularly egregious instance of the authors’ soapboxing, in which a tough-guy environmentalist character (who serves basically no other purpose in the book) announces that he’s seen the error of his ways because he should’ve been supporting nuclear power all these years to defend the Earth against potential aliens. And then he murders (and composts) a journalist who might get in the way of the Orion plan.

    (Of course it’s possible that N&P intended this as just a dramatization of how some fictional people might behave under those circumstances, and not as a moral parable in which their political beliefs are proved right. It’s also possible that I am Marie of Romania.)

  26. Rob Thornton says Speaking of TV shows, I watched the first episode of Doom Patrol (exclusively available on the DC Universe streaming service) and found it was actually pretty good. My plans to cancel the service have been temporarily postponed. Maybe Swamp Thing will seal the deal.

    It gets better after the first episode with some really stunning script writing and acting as the series goes along. There is, as there always can expected a few turds too. I’m going to watch the Swamp Thing debut tonight as my headache was being particularly bad the last few nights.

  27. @Rob Thornton: I’m still only halfway through the Doom Patrol show, but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by their ability to take the characters semi-seriously while diving right into the heaps of weirdness that the comic eventually produced. I can’t say I ever expected to see Flex Mentallo and Danny the Street on a TV show.

    The first episode of Swamp Thing is nowhere near as distinctive as that, and the writing isn’t great, but I like the cast and they’re certainly going all-out on the horror elements so I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s a very loose adaptation in the sense that most of the characters share nothing but a name with their comic counterparts, but having read about 150 issues of Swamp Thing so far (I’ve been hitting the DC Universe online comics section), I feel like none of the human characters really started out with any interesting qualities so that’s not a great loss.

  28. I’m very sorry to hear that news. Paul Darrow was very kind when I met him briefly at London Film and Comic Con. So was Jacqueline Pearce. Not at all like their characters!

  29. Eli says The first episode of Swamp Thing is nowhere near as distinctive as that, and the writing isn’t great, but I like the cast and they’re certainly going all-out on the horror elements so I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s a very loose adaptation in the sense that most of the characters share nothing but a name with their comic counterparts, but having read about 150 issues of Swamp Thing so far (I’ve been hitting the DC Universe online comics section), I feel like none of the human characters really started out with any interesting qualities so that’s not a great loss.

    Yeah I’ve read a lot of those so far on DC Universe as well.. The human characters certainly aren’t the strong point of any of the stories I’ve read so far no matter who the writer was of the particular series.

  30. @Cat: The human characters certainly aren’t the strong point of any of the stories I’ve read so far

    Chester’s not bad. Abby is… potentially interesting, but I think it’s hard for a character to develop much when all of their concerns have to be so directly driven by the main plot. It’s a bit sad that the one time the writers started to give her some kind of non-reactive aspect (she seemed to be developing psychic powers) they apparently decided there wasn’t any story value in that and just forgot about it, whereas the square-jawed nonentity Matt Cable was arbitrarily upgraded to superhuman status because… they couldn’t think of what else to do with him, I guess.

    The show has already given Alec Holland (1.0) roughly 10000 times more characterization than he ever got in the comic. At some point during Rick Veitch’s tenure, we get to spend some more time with him, and it’s pretty amusing in a “Good thing the series wasn’t about that guy!” way.

    ps. I know I already linked to this here but in case you’re interested, my reread blog.

  31. I’m quite gutted at Paul Darrow’s passing. Avon was remains one of my favourite characters from British sci-fi tv.

    I’ve also always imagined Discworld’s Commander Vimes voice as Avon’s, A role I believe Darrow portrayed on stage, something I’d have loved to have seen.

  32. Eli says I know I already linked to this here but in case you’re interested, my reread blog.

    Nancy Collins does a clever bit of homage to the actor, Dick Durock, who played Swamp Thing in her naming of one of the characters that she refers to the series, it’s just a quick throw away but it’s nice of her to note him.

    Cat who’s now reading Justice League Dark which does include Swamp Thing.

  33. @Cat: Ha! I’m just starting the Collins issues so I’ll keep an eye out for that. The 1982 Swamp Thing movie is of course a thing that exists within the comic too – I think each of the writers since then has made at least one joke at its expense, although they never addressed whether it got a critical re-evaluation after people got irrefutable evidence that Swamp Thing was real.

  34. @Joe H, re The Sword of Sha-na-na: only if by “the modern fantasy genre” you mean Extruded Fantasy Product; there was good work before and after that mess. There was also differently bad work (e.g., Covenant, about the same time per ISFDB). For a good work before, I’d note Patricia McKillip; The Forgotten Beasts of Eld came out three years before, and Poul Anderson had been scattering fantasies among his SF for years before Tolkien. I don’t know enough about publishing then to argue that it was just railroading time — especially given the gap after Tolkien caused a splash in the US (~1966) — but I don’t think any one person, or any few people, can be shown to have been responsible for the fact that there’s (AFAICT) a lot more fantasy than SF published now.

  35. I had the good fortune to see Paul Darrow on stage as Commander Vimes, and he was indeed excellent. I also once saw him as Macbeth, in a performance that I enjoyed immensely–wildly over the top, but then, as the friend who accompanied me said, “it’s not exactly a restrained play.”
    For me and I suspect a good many other people, the character of Avon–the grouchy, unscrupulous nerd who over the course of the series morphs into dashing space pirate and tragic hero–will always have a special place in my heart.

  36. @Chip Hitchcock — Yes, I know that there was other fantasy on the shelves at that point (not least Moorcock and Howard), but was thinking primarily in terms of, I guess, Extruded Fantasy Product. Or, more charitably, big post-Tolkien fantasy books that ended up on the NYT Best Sellers list. (Didn’t it?) It was a long, long time ago, but I have very, very vague memories of one of those upright cardboard display racks, unless I’m misremembering and it was for Elfstones or one of the later books?

    And Donaldson was a Del Rey author as well, although I don’t think he started to really hit it big until the second Thomas Covenant chronicles started coming out?

  37. (too late to edit, but I’d say that if “created” is too strong a word, Del Rey/Sword of Shannara was at least a major inflection point)

  38. I’m reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf right now and really enjoying it, but the voice is so different than Game of Thrones that I fear readers drawn by that description may bounce right off it. It’s lovely, but definitely requires more mental work than GoT, and is the sort of book you read slowly in order to savor the flavor rather than race through to find out what happens to Jon Snow.

    One book I’m recommending to women who felt letdown by the ending is Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree, which was a very satisfying read.

  39. @Eli, enjoying the reviews. I’ve read the Wein/Wrightson, Moore, Veitch and Millar runs, but I wasn’t familiar with the long stretches outside of those, so that’s an extra point of interest.

  40. @Cat Eldridge: it sounds like Norman is being let back into the mainstream; my hearing/observation was for dead-tree books 15-20 years ago, rather than from ebooks (ORM’s sole format AFAICT) starting 5 years ago (per the listings at HSAR-dot-com). O tempora, o mores. I remember he showed up at Arisia once, at least a decade ago, possibly before Arisia permanently barred a serial harasser; I wonder whether the current concom would let him in.

    @19: I remember bringing a snowball back to the Vancouver Westercon from a tourist spot just across the inlet — but it was old snow, from a shady hollow ~4000 feet above sea level, rather than a fresh fall.

    @Hampus Eckerman [re Norman]: Myself, I only tried the first one, saw it as a bad clone of John Carter and promptly quit the series there. 44 years ago this summer, a couple of ~local SCAdians dueled after one of them rashly said to a Gor fanne that even Lin Carter was a better writer than John Norman.

  41. Back at Bucconeer (I’m pretty sure – maybe it was Chicon in 2000), I saw the end of a panel with Norman and Esther Friesner. Looked like it has been exciting. When I was an early teen, I won copies of several SF paperbacks at a local fundraising event: Davy (by Pangborn), World Called Camelot (by Arthur Landis) and Priest-Kings of Gor. One of those books disappeared before I could read it, I suspect because it looked too risque’ – “Davy” of course. I don’t think I ever read all of Priest-Kings, but “World Called Camelot” turned out to be fun.

  42. @James Moar: Thanks! I think at least 2 people are reading them now, so now I can never quit, though I can’t say I’m looking forward to Millar.

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