Pixel Scroll 6/2/20 The Pixel-Hinged File

(1) WOULD YOU BUY IT FOR A QUARTER? “Royal Mint launches first-ever augmented reality dinosaur coins”.

Royal Mint have released some very special dino coins.

Not only do they have amazing pictures of dinosaurs on them but they also are the first-ever to use augmented reality (AR).

Royal Mint, which makes most of the the UK’s coins, used the latest colour printing techniques to vividly show the megalosaurus, iguanodon and hylaeosaurus on the coins.

It worked closely with experts at the Natural History Museum to try to bring the prehistoric creatures to life.

The coins feature the dinosaurs and show where and when the first fossil was discovered.

After receiving the coin, collectors can use AR to scan the packaging to unearth facts, clips and images about the prehistoric beasts.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The May 2020 entry in the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Future Tense Fiction series is “Scar Tissue” by Tobias S. Buckell.

The evening before you sign and take delivery of your son, you call Charlie and tell him you think you’ve made a huge mistake.

“Let me come on over and split a few with you,” he says. “I haven’t seen the fire pit yet.”

It was published along with a response essay, “When the Robot You Consider Family Tries to Sell You Something” by John Frank Weaver, an attorney who works on AI law, and author of the book Robots Are People Too

… That’s the part that worries me, as artificial intelligence applications may be able to leverage the data to manipulate Cory and other people—just as technology, PR, and marketing companies try to do in our lives today.

(3) A BRAND NEW ENDING. OH BOY. “Missing The Jackpot: William Gibson’s Slow-Cooked Apocalypse” – Robert Barry interviews the author for The Quietus.

“There’s never been a culture that had a mythos of apocalypse in which the apocalypse was a multi-causal, longterm event.” William Gibson speaks in the whisper-soft drawl of a man who for a long time now has never had to speak up in order to be heard. Though a certain edge had crept into our conversation by this point, watching him stretch out on the leather chaise longue of this hotel library (“my second home,” he calls it, as we make our way up from the lobby), it struck me that few people are able to seem at once so apprehensive and yet so intensely relaxed about the prospect of the end of the world as we know it.

“But if we are in fact facing an apocalypse,” he continues, getting now into the swing of this particular riff, “that’s the sort we’re facing. And I think that that may be what makes it so difficult for us to get our heads around what’s happening to us.”

(4) X MAGNIFICATION. In his column for CrimeReads, “Chris Claremont And The Making of an X-Men Icon”, Alex Segura interviews Claremont on his creation of Jean Grey, the Dark Phoenix, and her role in the X-Men saga.

…Though Claremont accepts the thesis that Dark Phoenix is, in many ways, in tune with the femme fatale trope, he’s not sure it’s totally apt.

“I’m not sure I would consider her a femme fatale. That actually is more Mystique’s side of the ledger,” Claremont said, referring to the blue-skinned, shape-changing mutant villain he’d introduce a bit later in his run. But the writer cannot deny the influence he and initial X-Men series artist Dave Cockrum had in reshaping Jean Grey—moving her from soft-spoken B-list heroine to full-on goddess.

“The fun with Jean for example was that when I first took over X-Men, Jean was a relatively two-and-a-half-dimensional character,” Claremont said. “What you had there was essentially unchanged from what [X-Men co-creator] Stan Lee had introduced years before. And we wanted to, I think, rough things up a tad but in the process, explore her more.”

(5) SAY CHEESE. In the Washington Post, Lela Nargi reports on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Unified Geologic Map Of The Moon, in which the survey combined maps made during the Apollo missions with subsequent satellite photo missions to create “the definitive blueprint of the moon’s surface geology.” “A new map shows the moon as it’s never been seen”.

…The USGS, which released the map in April, makes a lot of maps of Earth. It is also the “only institution in the world that creates standardized maps for surfaces that are not on Earth,” says USGS research geologist James Skinner. That includes Mars and other planets and moons in our solar system.

The new moon map took more than 50 years to make. It started with six original maps collected from the Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and ’70s. The maps did a good job of showing the basic layout of the moon.

New technology has made it possible to create an updated map and “turn it into information scientists can use,” says Skinner.

(6) I WAS BORN UNDER A WANDERING STAR. James Davis Nicoll introduces us to lots of characters who can make that claim in “Planets on the Move: SF Stories Featuring World-Ships” at Tor.com.

Recently, we discussed science fiction stories about naturally occurring rogue worlds; there is, of course, another sort of wandering planet. That would be the deliberately-impelled variety, featured in stories in which ambitious travellers take an entire world along with them. This approach has many obvious advantages, not the least of which is that it greatly simplifies pre-flight packing….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 2, 1950 Rocketship X-M premiered. The film was produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was by Orville H. Hampton, Kurt Neumann and Dalton Trumbo (of Johnny Got His Gun fame). It starred Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery, Jr., Hugh O’Brian, and Morris Ankrum. It was shot on a budget of ninety-four thousand dollars. It was nominated for the 1951 Retro Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Millennium Philcon when Destination Moon won that Award. Fandom holds it in higher esteem than audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do who give it a 16% rating! Oh, and it was the first SF film to use a theremin in the soundtrack. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 2, 1857 – Karl Gjellerup.  In The Pilgrim Kamanita, the Pilgrimmeets a strange monk who he does not know is Gautama Buddha.  In The World-Roamers, characters re-experience happenings of former eons.  In The Holiest Animal, the snake that killed Cleopatra, Odysseus’ dog, Jesus’ donkey, and others, meeting after death, choose as the holiest animal the Buddha’s horse – but he has vanished without a trace, to Nirvana.  Nobel Prize in Literature.  Translated into Dutch, English, German, Polish, Swedish, Thai.  (Died 1919) [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1899 – Lotte Reiniger.  Pioneer of silhouette animation.  Animated intertitles and wooden rats for Paul Wegener’s Pied Piper of Hamelin (1918); a falcon for Fritz Lang’s Nibelungen (Part 1 – Siegfried, 1924).  Her own Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is the oldest known surviving feature-length animated film.  Doctor Dolittle and His Animals, 1928.  Her early version of a mutiplane camera preceded Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks by a decade.  Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Fed’l Republic of Germany, 1979.  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1915 – Lester del Rey.  Fan, pro, short-order cook.  Used many names, not least of which was Ramon Felipe San Juan Mario Silvio Enrico Smith Heathcourt-Brace Sierra y Alvarez-del-Rey de los Verdes.  Two dozen novels alone and with others; a hundred shorter stories (see the 2-vol. Selected Short Stories); half a dozen non-fiction books; Skylark Award, SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master; translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish; reviews for Analog, features editor for Galaxy; SF editor for Ballantine; with Judy-Lynn del Rey and after her death, Del Rey Books.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1920 Robert A. Madle, 100. File 770 celebrates Bob’s big day in a separate post about his fannish career. And fanhistory website Fanac.org dedicated its splash page to a collection of pointers to the audio and video they have of Bob, such as a recording of his 1977 Worldcon Guest of Honor speech, as well as links to the fanzines he edited in the 1930s. (OGH)
  • Born June 2, 1921 Virginia Kidd. Literary agent, writer and editor, who worked mostly in SF and related fields. She represented R.A. Lafferty, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, and Gene Wolfe. She was married to James Blish, and she published a handful of genre short fiction.  Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in Castleview, in large part on Kidd. (Died 2003.) (CE)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster, 91. Author of The Phantom Tollbooth, he met Jules Feiffer who illustrates when he was taking his trash out. There is of course the superb film that followed. And let’s not forget The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a work well worth an evening spent reading. (CE)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman, 83. She makes the list for being Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the superb episode of Trek “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. She also had one-offs on the Alfred Hitchcock HourThe Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders, and The Ray Bradbury Theater. She played Natasha Fatale in Boris and Natasha: The Movie. (CE)
  • Born June 2, 1948 – Leigh Edmonds.  Founder of ANZAPA (Australia – New Zealand Amateur Press Ass’n).  Melbourne SF Club Achievement Award.  First DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate, published Emu Tracks Over America.  First A-NZ Administrator of GUFF (Get-Up-and-over Fan Fund, or Going Under Fan Fund, in alternate years).  Helped organize 10th Australian natcon (i.e. national convention); Fan Guest of Honour (with Valma Brown) at 30th.  Two Ditmars for Best Fanzine, three for Best Fanwriter.  [JH] 
  • Born June 2, 1959 – Lloyd Penney.  Thirty years on Ad Astra con committees (Toronto); Chair 1993 & 1994. “Royal Canadian Mounted Starfleet” (with Yvonne Penney & others – and song) in Chicon IV Masquerade (40th Worldcon).  Also with Yvonne, Chairs of SMOFcon VI (Secret Masters Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said “a joke-nonjoke-joke”; con-runners’ con); CUFF (Canadian Unity Fan Fund) delegates, published Penneys Up the River; Fan Guests of Honor, Loscon XXXIV.  Prolific loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines); 5 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1963 – Katsuya Kondô.  Manga artist, character designer, animator, animation director.  His character designs are considered the epitome of the Studio Ghibli style.  Known for Kiki’s Delivery ServiceOcean Waves (both Ghibli); Jade Cocoon (PlayStation game); D’arc (2-vol. manga about Joan of Arc; with Ken’ichi Sakemi).  Recently, character design for Ronya, the Robber’s Daughter (Ghibli, 2014).  [JH]
  •  Born June 2, 1972 Wentworth Miller, 48. I’m including him here today as he plays Captain Cold on the Legends of Tomorrow which might one of the best SF series currently being aired. His first genre role was on Buffy and other than a stint on the Dinotopia miniseries, this role is his entire genre undertaking along with being on Flash. (CE) 
  • Born June 2, 1973 – Carlos Acosta.  Cuban director of Birmingham Royal Ballet; before that, 17 years at The Royal Ballet, many other companies.  Prix Benois de la Danse.  Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to ballet.   Besides dancing in many fantasies (Afternoon of a FaunApolloThe NutcrackerSwan Lake) – and finding time for a wife and three children – he’s written a magic-realism novel, Pig’s Foot.  Memoir, No Way Home.  [JH]

(9) A POEM FOR THE DAY. By John Hertz:

May didn’t do it.
A month whose name’s almost young
Dealt him out to us.
Lively-minded, he connects
Energizing give and take.

 __________

An acrostic (read down the first letters) in 5-7-5-7-7-syllable lines.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump has a joke about dragon housekeeping.
  • Cul de Sac tries to imagine what makes up the universe.
  • Frazz tells us how to recognize “literature” when we read it. 

(11) CLASSIC SFF ART. The host of Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations creatd a thread about the careers of artists Leo and Diane Dillon. It starts here.

(12) IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. Lois McMaster Bujold has posted about her experiences at the online SFWA Nebula Conference, including the text of her Grandmaster award acceptance remarks which end —

… And, throughout it all, I have been endlessly supported by my agent, Eleanor Wood of Spectrum Literary Agency. We first met face-to-face at the Nebula weekend in New York City in 1989. The morning after _Falling Free_ won my first Nebula Award, we shook hands over a hotel breakfast in a deal I trust neither of us has had cause to regret. Though I don’t think either of us realized how long it would last, three decades and counting.

(13) HARE GROWTH. A new collection of shorts on HBO Max, Looney Tunes Cartoons, captures the look and feel of the originals. The New York Times article may be paywalled; here are the key points and cartoon link.

In “Dynamite Dance,” Elmer Fudd comes at Bugs Bunny with a scythe, prompting the hare to jam a stick of lit dynamite in Elmer’s mouth.

Over the course of the short animated video, the explosives get bigger and more plentiful, as Bugs jams dynamite in Elmer’s ears, atop his bald head, and down his pants. The relentless assault moves from rowboat to unicycle to biplane, each blast timed to the spirited melody of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours.”

The short has the look, feel and unabashed mayhem of a classic “Looney Tunes” cartoon, circa the early 1940s. But “Dynamite Dance” is of much more recent vintage, one of scores of episodes created by a new crop of WarnerBros. animators over the past two years.

…“I always thought, ‘What if Warner Bros. had never stopped making “Looney Tunes” cartoons?’” said Peter Browngardt, the series executive producer and showrunner. “As much as we possibly could, we treated the production in that way.”

…The creators of the new series hope to do justice to the directors, animators and voice artists of the so-called Termite Terrace, a pest-ridden animation facility on Sunset Boulevard where many of the franchise’s most beloved characters were born.

“There was something about the energy of those early cartoons,” Browngardt said. “And those five directors: Frank Tashlin, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery before he left for MGM, Chuck Jones, and Friz Freleng. They literally invented a language of cinema.”

(14) EMPLOYEES ABOUT FACE AT FACEBOOK. NPR reports “Facebook Employees Revolt Over Zuckerberg’s Hands-Off Approach To Trump”.

Facebook is facing an unusually public backlash from its employees over the company’s handling of President Trump’s inflammatory posts about protests in the police killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis.

At least a dozen employees, some in senior positions, have openly condemned Facebook’s lack of action on the president’s posts and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of that decision. Some employees staged a virtual walkout Monday.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” tweeted Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s news feed.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” tweeted Jason Toff, director of product management. “The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

(15) GOING DOWN. NPR presents excerpts of the resetting of Orpheus and Eurydice (and Tony winner for Best Musical of 2019): “Hadestown: Tiny Desk Concert” — long audio/video.

You can probably guess that we recorded the original Broadway cast of Hadestown before the coronavirus pandemic made live theater (live anything) an untenable risk. The reminders are everywhere — in the way 16 performers bunch up behind the desk, singing formidably in close proximity as a large crowd gathers just off camera — that this took place in the Before-Times. To be specific, on March 2.

We’d actually been trying to put this show together since the spring of 2019, when Hadestown was a freshly Tony-nominated hit musical. We hit several delays along the way due to scheduling issues, only to end up rushing in an attempt to record while playwright Anaïs Mitchell — who wrote both the musical and the 2010 folk opera on which it’s based — was eight months pregnant.

Thankfully, we captured something truly glorious — a five-song distillation of a robust and impeccably staged Broadway production. A raucous full-cast tone-setter, “Way Down Hadestown” lets Hermes (André De Shields, in a role that won him a Tony) and Persephone (Kimberly Marable, filling in for Amber Gray) set the scene before a medley of “Come Home With Me” and “Wedding Song” finds Orpheus (Reeve Carney) and Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) meeting and falling in love. “When the Chips Are Down” showcases the three Fates — spirits who often drive the characters’ motivations — as played by Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad. And in “Flowers,” Eurydice looks back with regret and resignation on her decision to leave Orpheus for the promise of Hadestown.

(16) NO NOSE IS BAD NOSE. From the Harvard Gazette: “Loss of taste and smell is best indicator of COVID-19, study shows”.

MGH, King’s College London researchers use crowdsourced data from app to monitor symptoms in 2.6 million, study how the disease spreads

Though fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 infection, a recent study in which 2.6 million people used a smartphone app to log their symptoms daily showed that the most oddball pair of indicators — loss of smell and taste — was also the best predictor, and one that scientists said should be included in screening guidelines.

…The scientists adapted a smartphone app that had been created by corporate partner ZOE, a health science company, for research on how to personalize diet to address chronic disease. The new program, a free download from the Apple or Google app stores, collects demographic and health background information and then asks how the participant is feeling. If they’re feeling well, that’s the end of the daily entry. If they’re not it asks further questions about symptoms.

(17) BLIT FOR ANDROID? BBC asks “Why this photo is bricking some phones”.

Dozens of Android phone owners are reporting on social media that a picture featuring a lake, a cloudy sunset and a green shoreline is crashing their handsets when used as wallpaper.

Several brands seem to be affected, including Samsung and Google’s Pixel.

The bug makes the screen turn on and off continuously. In some cases a factory reset is required.

The BBC does not recommend trying it out.

Samsung is due to roll out out a maintenance update on 11 June. The BBC has contacted Google for comment but not yet had a response.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. At Axios “Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic”.

  • Neil Gaiman, author of “Coraline”: “I think this period of time is going to be a fertile time for storytellers for decades and, I hope, centuries to come.
  • Lois Lowry, author of “The Giver”: “We’re at the part of the book where the reader is feeling a terrible sense of suspense.”
  • Nnedi Okorafor, author of “The Shadow Speaker”: “One thing I’ve felt since all of this has happened, is this idea of … oh my gosh, it’s finally happening.”
  • Max Brooks, author of “World War Z”: “Those big crises that affect us all have to be solved by all of us … it may not be some alpha male with a big gun or some clairvoyant wizard or someone with magical powers.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Andre Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joseph Hurtgen.]

37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/2/20 The Pixel-Hinged File

  1. First?

    First.
    I’d not seen Rocketship XM until voting for Philcon. It was not as terrible as I feared, but then again, given the stuff I’ve watched for Torture Cinema for Skiffy and Fanty…

  2. 16) My head trauma three years ago cost me my sense of smell and most of sense of taste as well. So this won’t help me either.

    I’m Covid 19 negative as I got tested prior to surgery and haven’t any exposure since to anyone as I’ve had to wear a mask when encountering anyone including the various health workers visiting me in my flat.

  3. @8 (Juster): he spoke at the local library a few years ago; one of the interesting bits he mentioned was that Feiffer modeled the Whether Man on him.

    @8 (Kellerman): Louise in Brewster McCloud looks supernatural to me.

    @Andrew: +1.

    edit: Fifth!

  4. (8) I was going to also mention Brewster McCloud – you beat me to it by 4 minutes, Chip.

    Well, second fifth, at any rate.

  5. (8) Kellerman actually had two Outer Limits appearances, “The Human Factor” and “The Bellero Shield”.

  6. (8) There’s an animated short of The Dot and the Line by Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble from Juster’s screenplay. You can find it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it. Narrated by Robert Morley. Won an Oscar for best animated short film. It would occasionally turn up with the Tom and Jerry cartoons when I was in college. I think at the time we were more sympathetic to the plight of the squiggle.

  7. (1) I would buy them for more than a quarter, their face value being about 65 US cents right now, but I fear they’re not ‘real’ coins released into circulation, just things that look like coins sold via the Mint’s website.

  8. Apropos of an earlier filer discussion —

    If anyone is still interested, take a look at today’s chart following new Covid cases in Texas. The 7-day trend line is looking really scary there right now.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/texas-coronavirus-cases.html

    (outside the NYT paywall)

    This is especially interesting to me given that several other states that have begun opening up are NOT showing the same rise in cases (though in at least a couple of those states, there are questions about officials fudging the data).

  9. My allergies have rendered my sense of smell unreliable. I can smell some things, but if the pollen/mold/dust is making things flare, I’m unlike to smell much.

  10. (1) Dino coins. It looks like they’re EU 10 per coin. At that price, I suspect the coins, like their subjects, will be extinct.

  11. John Hertz responds by carrier pigeon:

    Applause to Joachim Boaz for calling attention to the wonderful graphic art of Leo & Diane Dillon.

    If it didn’t already mean something else we could call them the Dynamic Duo.

    Chicon 7, the 70th Worldcon, was shortly after Leo Dillon had left the stage. I did an exhibit of their work. You can see my report here.

  12. @Contrarius,

    Yeah, that’s bad.

    I’m not particularly worried about the apparent spike on June 1–there’s a similar spike in Massachusetts cases for the same day, caused by a change in reporting standards. CDC started counting more “probable” cases, and uncounted cases from the past couple of months are included in the May 31 or June 1 numbers. But the Texas curve looks bad even aside from that, in a way that Massachusetts’ doesn’t.

    I’m going to post this comment and then look at more of those data.

  13. (14) I feel like there’s gotta be a headline about “Facebook is revolting!” in there somewhere! 😀

  14. The numbers in the NYT chart do not match the data from the Texas Center for Health Statistics. For example, the NYT graph shows 1885 new cases on Jun 2, and the Texas data shows 1688. For Jun 1, the numbers are NYT 1107 , TX 593. The NYT chart shows 37 new deaths on Jun 2, the TX data show 20. For Jun 1, 12/6. I can’t explain the discrepancy.

    As has been pointed out before, unless you normalize for the number of tests administered, simple plots of new cases don’t mean much. The positive rate of Viral tests (currently sick) + Antibody tests (previously sick, and recovered or recovering), as taken from the Texas data, has been bouncing around 6% since Apr 25. Not flat, but not far from it, either. During the three weeks prior to that, it had been from 10% then up to 14% then down to 8%. Texas is doing substantially better now, after weeks of reopening, than it was in early April, during lockdown.

  15. @Bill —

    As has been pointed out before, unless you normalize for the number of tests administered, simple plots of new cases don’t mean much.

    As has also been pointed out before, if you have any evidence that Texas is conducting substantially more testing than all the states in which cases are dropping, I’m sure many of us would love to see your data.

    As for any discrepancies between NYT and Texas data — I’m sure there are reasonable explanations, which I’m not going to take the time to dig out. But Texas’s own Health Department shows the same general trend up until the last couple of days that the NYT site does, so I suspect any discrepancies relate to incomplete reporting more than anything else.

    https://tabexternal.dshs.texas.gov/t/THD/views/COVIDExternalQC/COVIDTrends?%3AisGuestRedirectFromVizportal=y&%3Aembed=y

  16. @Contrarius

    if you have any evidence that Texas is conducting substantially more testing than all the states in which cases are dropping, I’m sure many of us would love to see your data.

    CDC – Texas has conducted more tests than all states except NY, CA, FL, MA, NJ.
    Since I don’t know what you mean by “substantially” or “more testing than all the states” (daily? 7-day moving average? cumulative? normalized to state population?), it’s hard to go much further.

  17. @Bill —

    CDC – Texas has conducted more tests than all states except NY, CA, FL, MA, NJ.

    Umm. Bill. That link doesn’t appear to show any such thing.

    If I’m missing something, please quote the part of that page that says what you claim it does.

    Also, please note that even by your own admission that Texas has conducted fewer tests than NY, CA, FL, MA, and NJ, your claim that cases are apparently rising in TX only because of the amount of testing fails — because cases are falling in NY, MA, and NJ.

  18. I don’t think I want to let this contagion spread here from its previous ward in an earlier Scroll unless Bill and Contrarius can tell us how we will know if one of you “wins” the argument.

  19. Understood! I think we’ve about said enough anyway. 🙂

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled scroll:

    In current reading, I finished The Physicians of Vilnoc yesterday — the latest installment in LMB’s Penric novellas. It was an engaging read, but IMHO it wasn’t a standout in the series.

    And I’m still working on Beyond Mars, third in the Planetfall series. I’m thinking more and more about each book in this series having a discrete theme, and wondering whether they’ll all come together in book 4? We Shall See!

    edit: Heh. It occurs to me that “about said enough” probably reveals my Southern upbringing. Does that feel like a Southernism to you non-Southerners out there?

  20. Contrarius: It so happens I read The Physicians of Vilnoc last week. I think I could agree with your bottom line, though would add I liked it much more than the previous installment, which put me off enough that I fell behind reading the series. The one we’re discussing came out last year, didn’t it?

  21. @Mike —

    Contrarius: It so happens I read The Physicians of Vilnoc last week. I think I could agree with your bottom line, though would add I liked it much more than the previous installment, which put me off enough that I fell behind reading the series. The one we’re discussing came out last year, didn’t it?

    Physicians of Vilnoc — #8 — came out May 7.
    The Orphans of Raspay — #7 — came out last July.
    The Prisoner of Limnos — #6 — came out way back in October of 2017.

    You can judge how much I love LMB by the fact that I read this eyes-on-the-page instead of waiting for it to come out in audio. 😉

  22. Contrarius: And I’m still working on Beyond Mars, third in the Planetfall series. I’m thinking more and more about each book in this series having a discrete theme, and wondering whether they’ll all come together in book 4?

    Emma Newman has said after what happened to her Split Worlds series (the publisher dropped her after the 3rd of 5 books, and it took three more years before the last 2 were published), she was determined that any books she wrote in a series in future would work as standalones.

    I’ve read all 4 of the Planetfall books, and while each is set in the same universe and refers to things in the previous books, they all can be read on their own.

    Incidentally, I thought that the Split Worlds series was fantastic too — which is high praise coming from me, given that I vastly prefer SF books to fantasy.

  23. (7) Rocketship X-M was featured early in the run of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The line I remember:

    Joel: Why don’t you just show us Marooned?!
    Dr. Forrester: We tried, we couldn’t get the rights.

  24. Mike Glyer: I liked it much more than the previous installment, which put me off enough that I fell behind reading the series.

    Oh yeah, Limnos was the one with the cringey representation of gender-swapping which was rather offensive to transgender people.

    I love Bujold’s work for the most part, but I’m still dismayed by the unexamined colonialist attitudes which overwhelmed The Flowers of Vashnoi. 😐

  25. @JJ —

    Oh yeah, Limnos was the one with the cringey representation of gender-swapping which was rather offensive to transgender people.

    I think we just have to accept that LMB’s heart is in the right place, but that she doesn’t always “get it” when she writes about gender issues. There were multiple cringey bits relating to gender and orientation throughout the Vorkosigan series as well. For me, she’s kinda like a well-meaning but awkward auntie.

  26. @JJ: Incidentally, I thought that the Split Worlds series was fantastic too — which is high praise coming from me, given that I vastly prefer SF books to fantasy. Maybe I’ll have to go back to them; I quit in the middle of #4 because it was heading to a seriously bleak cliffhanger at a time when I was out of cope and #5 wasn’t yet available. I did think 1-3 made a good set (the tensions were resolved plausibly rather than magically, to the extent they were resolved at all) and have occasionally thought I should see how much more she tried to resolve.

  27. I finished the Planetfall series a couple days ago and will second JJ. I’d probably describe the fourth book as more of a direct sequel to the second but all of them could be enjoyed as standalones.

    I’m actually a little curious how Before Mars would read if you didn’t know how After Atlas ends — for me that knowledge ended up being a bit distracting due to anticipating the characters finding out about it. (Specifically, gur ivqrb zrffntrf gb punenpgref jub V xarj jrer qbbzrq jura Nsgre Ngynf‘f raqvat pnhtug hc jvgu gurz.) Of course [book 3 spoiler] gur punenpgref nyernql qvq svaq bhg nobhg vg….

  28. @Goobergunch —

    I’m actually a little curious how Before Mars would read if you didn’t know how After Atlas ends —

    I first read Before Mars a year or so ago, before I had read any of the others. When I read After Atlas a few weeks ago, I more-or-less thought “Aha! There it is!”. And now going back through it, I’m thinking stuff like “Oh, see how that connects to After Atlas, it’s like building up overlapping layers of meaning” — which leads me to wondering about payoffs in book 4.

  29. @OGH — understood.
    (and I just made a tangentially related post on the more recent scroll; sorry about that. I hadn’t yet seen your “Cease Fire”).

  30. @Goobergunch again —

    I finished Before Mars last night, and I gotta say that I liked the ending much better this time than the first time I read it, when I didn’t know how it connected to book 2. Although I still ding it for being out of character with the rest of the book, it at least didn’t come out of the blue as it did the first time around.

  31. @Contrarius: Cool!

    Yeah I can imagine the ending would be very “what huh” if you didn’t have the information from Book 2 that made it possible.

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