Pixel Scroll 6/26/19 Pixel Scroll Powers Activate!

(1) HILL HOUSE. Whatever DC Comics’ other problems may be, they’re pretty sure they can sell this: “DC Launching New Horror Line From Writer Joe Hill”.

Hill House Comics will consist of five miniseries and debut this October. Just days after announcing the closure of the DC Vertigo imprint, DC is signaling that it hasn’t moved away from creator-owned comic book material. The publisher has announced a new pop-up imprint, Hill House Comics, curated by horror writer Joe Hill.

The line of five original miniseries — each one targeted to readers 17 and older — will feature two titles written by the Fireman and Heart-Shaped Box author himself, with all five titles including a secondary strip, “Sea Dogs,” also written by Hill. Other titles will be written by The Girl With All The Gifts author Mike Carey, playwright and The Good Fight screenwriter Laura Marks, and critically acclaimed short story writer and essayist Carmen Maria Machado. Artists for the line include Sandman veteran Kelley Jones, as well as The Unwritten’s Peter Gross.

(2) CAFFEINE SEEKERS. Ursula Vernon has the most interesting conversations. Thread starts here.

(3) WESTERCON/NASFIC. The Spikecon program is live — https://spikecon.org/schedule/

(4) NET FANAC. In 2017, The Guardian tracked down these behind-the-scenes fan creators: “Watchers on the Wall: meet the rulers of the world’s biggest TV fan sites”. Whovian.net’s Dan Butler said:

I was 12 when Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, and at school it was seen as nerdy. Because I had no one to talk to about it, I created a website to show my love. I wrote reviews of the episodes and used a website builder, then later I built a site from scratch.

What I loved about the show was the idea that you could be walking down the street and meet the Doctor, and your life could change forever. I liked the balance between domestic drama and science fiction – the first series was like watching a soap one scene, and Star Trek in the next. For me, Christopher Eccleston, who was my first Doctor, is the closest to how I think the part should be; if you walked past him, he wouldn’t stand out. Since then, the Doctors have been more flamboyant – more alien.

(5) WHERE PULP HISTORY WAS MADE. This was once the headquarters of Street & Smith’s pulp magazine empire, which after 1933 included Astounding: “The 1905 Street & Smith Building – 79-89 Seventh Avenue” at Daytonian in Manhattan

In 1928 the firm took made an innovative marketing move by hiring the Ruthrauff & Ryan Advertising Agency to produce a radio program to promote Detective Story Magazine.  Called “The Detective Story Hour,” it was introduced and narrated by a sinister voice known as “The Shadow.”  His tag line became familiar to radio listeners across the country:  “The Shadow knows…and you too shall know if you listen as Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine relates for you the story of…” whatever story was featured that week.

As it turned out, The Shadow’s character was so successful that it detracted from the Detective Story sales.  Street & Smith decided the best way to handle the problem was to introduce a new magazine featuring The Shadow.

(6) STAND ON ZANZIBAR. Extra Credit makes John Brunner sound absolutely prescient.

How do we cope with a crowded world we as humans were never evolutionarily designed for? Stand on Zanzibar was written in 1968 but it uncannily, accurately predicts many of our present day’s social tensions and stressors. However, it also has a certain optimism that makes it stand out among other dystopic fiction we’ve discussed.

(7) ARISIA CORRECTS GOH LIST.  Saladin Ahmed proved to be unavailable after Arisia 2020 prematurely announced him as a Guest of Honor. There was a tweet —

He had also been added to the Arisia 2020 website (still visible in the Google webcache at this time). When his name was taken down without an announcement, there was curiosity about the reason.

I asked Arisia President Nicholas “phi” Shectman, and he replied:

Saladin was invited and let us know that he was interested but had to check availability. We misunderstood and made an announcement (and put his name on our web site) prematurely. It turns out he’s unable to make it this year. We’ve apologized to him privately and are preparing a public retraction.

(8) OTHER ARISIA NEWS. Arisia Inc.’s discussion of how to improve its Incident Report process, and the determinations made about some of the IR’s (with no names cited) are minuted in the May issue and June issue of Mentor.

The June issue also gave an update about the litigation over Arisia’s cancellation of plans to use two strike-affected hotels (for the 2019 event):

Hearings for the Westin and Aloft disputes are still scheduled for July 11 and June 25 respectively. We have hired Deb Geisler as an expert witness to testify about how hard it is to change hotels at the last minute, in support of our assertion that the deadline we gave the Westin for the strike to be resolved was the actual latest we could wait before canceling with them. I still think there is an 80% chance that we will prevail and if we do we will still be in the Westin. I also still expect to know the answer in late July or early August.

…Deb is a professor at BU, teaches non-profit event management, has chaired Intercon, we mainly selected her because she has academic credentials

Deb Geisler also chaired Noreascon 4 (2004).

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 26, 1904 Peter Lorre.  I think his first foray into genre was in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea film as Comm. Lucius Emery though he was in Americanized version of Casino Royale which an early Fifties episode of the Climax! series as Le Chiffre. (James was called Jimmy. Shudder!) Other genre roles were in Tales of Terror as Montresor in “The Black Cat” story, The Raven as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo and The Comedy of Terrors as Felix Grille. (Died 1964.)
  • Born June 26, 1910 Elsie Wollheim. The wife of Donald A. Wollheim. She was one of the original Futurians of New York, and assisted them in their publishing efforts, and even published Highpoints, her own one-off fanzine. When he started DAW Books in 1972, she was the co-founder, and inherited the company when he died. Their daughter Elizabeth (Betsy) now runs the company along with co-publisher and Sheila E. Gilbert. (Died 1996.)
  • Born June 26, 1950 Tom DeFalco, 69. Comic book writer and editor, mainly known for his Marvel Comics and in particular for his work with the Spider-Man line. He designed the Spider-Girl character which was his last work at Marvel as he thought he was being typecast as just a Spider-Man line writer. He’s since been working at DC and Archie Comics.
  • Born June 26, 1969 Lev Grossman, 50. Author of most notable as the author of The Magicians Trilogy which is The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land. Perennial best sellers at the local indie bookshops. Understand it was made into a series which is yet another series that I’ve not seen. Opinions on the latter, y’all? 
  • Born June 26, 1969 Austin Grossman, 50. Twin brother of Lev. And no, he’s not here just because he’s Lev’s twin brother. He’s the author of Soon I Will Be Invincible which is decidedly SF as well as You: A Novel (also called YOU) which was heavily influenced for better or worse by TRON and Crooked, a novel involving the supernatural and Nixon. He’s also a video games designed, some of which such as Clive Barker’s Undying and Tomb Raider: Legend are definitely genre. 
  • Born June 26, 1980 Jason Schwartzman, 49. He first shows up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as Gag Halfrunt,  Zaphod Beeblebrox’s personal brain care specialist. (Uncredited initially.) He  was Ritchie in Bewitched, and voiced Simon Lee in  Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation. He co-wrote Isle of Dogs alongwith Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura. I think his best work was voicing Ash Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox. 
  • Born June 26, 1984 Aubrey Plaza, 34. April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation which at least one Filer has insisted is genre. She voiced Eska in recurring role on The Legend of Korra which is a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. She was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as Julie Powers. Currently she’s Lenny Busker on Legion. 

(10) MCINTYRE MEMORY BOOK. Remembering Vonda, the memorial book of anecdotes and sentiments about the late Vonda McIntyre, is not only available for sale as trade paperback ($12.12), but can be downloaded as a free PDF.

TRADE PAPERBACK 
FREE PDF

Jane Hawkins had an idea: to collect all the lovely stories written around Vonda’s death, and to put them in one place for us all to enjoy. This book is that place.Stephanie A. Smith and Jeanne Gomoll joined forces to edit the book. Vonda’s community—her friends, colleagues, readers, and admirers—shared their fondest memories, stories, praise and love for the dear friend they had recently lost.

All proceeds from books sold through LuluDotCom will benefit Clarion West.

(11) DEAL TERMINATOR. Unfortunately, most of the article is behind Adweek’s paywall, but the photo is funny: “Arnold Schwarzenegger Kicks ‘Gas’ as a Used Car Salesman in This Parody for Electric Vehicles”.

It’s no surprise that a cheesy used-car salesman like Howard Kleiner, sporting a man-pony, a Hawaiian shirt and a porn ‘stache, would be into throwback gas guzzlers. For him, it’s V8 or nothing, and if you pick the wrong vehicle on his lot, he may hand you a snide bumper sticker that says, “Carpool lanes are for sissies.”

(12) HISTORY THAT IS EVEN MORE ALTERNATE THAN USUAL. Jered Pechacek is determined to explain to us “WHY you can’t LEGALLY MARRY CLAMS in the STATE OF MAINE.” Thread starts here. Even easier to follow at Threadreader.

Oh yes, let freedom ring.

(13) CONVERTIBLE FALCON. Not much gets by Comicbook.com“Funko’s Massive Star Wars Millennium Falcon with Han Solo Pop is Live”.

Today, out of nowhere, Funko launched a Deluxe Star Wars Millennium Falcon with Han Solo Pop figure today that must be among the largest that they have ever produced. It measures a whopping 5.5″ tall, is 10.5″ wide and 13.25″ long with a price tag to match – $64.99.

(14) THE MOUSE THAT ROARS. NPR tells you how it’s going to look from now on: “‘Endgame’ Nears All-Time Record, And The Age Of The Disney Mega-Blockbuster Is Upon Us”.

There’s been some question about whether Avengers: Endgame will knock global box-office champ Avatar out of first place in Hollywood’s record books.

…Now, you’d think the threat that Disney might swipe the crown away from Fox would prompt wails of anguish, but it’s hard for the folks at Fox to be too upset.

Because these days, Disney owns Fox.

Which means Disney doesn’t just own the Marvel Universe — and Star Wars, which it bought a few years ago — it now also owns Avatar. And that fact is about to change the way the rest of Hollywood is forced to do business.

…In its first week, Avengers: Endgame sold 88% of the movie tickets that were purchased in North America, leaving just 12 percent to be split by more than a hundred other movies that might as well not have been open. Go back to other mega-blockbusters, and you see the same thing. they take up all the oxygen. Avengers: Infinity War, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Black Panther each took in about 80 percent of their opening weekends, crushing everything else at the multiplex. Small wonder that other studios have learned to steer clear of these all-consuming box office behemoths.

…Every studio opens something big in late December, which has resulted for years in a happy flotilla of blockbusters that play to different audience segments, lifting all boats.

But Disney recently made an announcement that’s going to change that. Now that the company controls all of the franchises in the 2-billion-dollar club (Marvel, Star Wars and Avatar), it doesn’t have to play chicken with other studios about opening dates — it can just claim them.

And it’s done that … for the next eight years.

(15) IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. “Spirited Away: Japanese anime trounces Toy Story 4 at China box office” — BBC has the numbers.

Japanese animation Spirited Away has dominated the Chinese box office over its opening weekend, making more than twice as much as Disney’s Toy Story 4.

The Studio Ghibli film grossed $27.7m (£21.8m), according to Maoyan, China’s largest movie ticketing app.

Spirited Away was officially released in 2001, but only now, 18 years later, has it been released in China.

However, many Chinese viewers grew up with the film, having watched DVDs or pirated downloads.

…China has a strict quota on the number of foreign films it shows.

One analyst told the BBC last year that political tensions between China and Japan in the past could be why some Japanese movies had not been aired in China until very recently.

(16) HOW TO FIND IT AGAIN. WIRED’s Gretchen McCullough praises Hugo-nominated Archive of Our Own in “Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online”.

…The Archive of Our Own has none of these problems. It uses a third tagging system, one that blends the best elements of both styles.

On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don’t have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling. Wrangling means that you don’t need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don’t need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you….

(17) SCOOPS AHOY. Delish says get ready to stand in line in Indiana, er, Burbank: “Baskin-Robbins Is Recreating The Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Shop From ‘Stranger Things'”.

Deep into any Netflix binge of Stranger Things, it’s easy to get sucked into the misadventures of Eleven and co. and wonder what a day in the life of a character would be like. Baskin Robbins is making this marathon-fueled fever dream one step closer to a reality. The ice cream retailer announced on Wednesday that they’ll be recreating the Stranger Things Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Shop.

Lick your ice cream cone like its 1985 at a Burbank, CA, installation in its Baskin-Robbins location. Designed to reflect the ice cream parlor located inside the food court of Starcourt Mall—which is frequented by Hawkins, IN locals—you can visit from Tuesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 14.

Not only does a press release boast replicas of nautical décor and staff uniforms (like you could forget Steve Harrington and Robin’s shifts scooping sundaes there), but also show-inspired treats. Previously announced Stranger Things flavors, which have been teased relentlessly on the company’s Instagram, will be ready for consumption and include:

Flavor of the Month, USS Butterscotch: Inspired by the Scoops Ahoy shop at the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins, IN, the July Flavor of the Month is a decadent butterscotch-flavored ice cream with butterscotch pieces and a toffee-flavored ribbon. Also available in pre-packed quarts.

(18) SPIDER-MAN THEME REVISITED. Mark Evanier pointed out this music video on News From Me.

We love a cappella singing on this site and Will Hamblet told me about this one. It’s the theme from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon show as rendered by a vocal quartet called Midtown. The snazzy video was, they say, shot entirely on an iPhone using the iMessage comic filter.

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

49 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/26/19 Pixel Scroll Powers Activate!

  1. (2) Discussions of the Furry episode of CSI reminds me of the punk episode of “Quincy.”

  2. I thought the photos of the Street and Smith building were very cool. So this is where John Campbell’s first office was? When did he move?

  3. 9) I’m a big fan of the Magicians TV series and am very much looking forward to getting season 4 when it comes out on Blu-ray next month. It does diverge from the books in some fairly significant ways — aging up the characters (Quintin is applying for grad school, not college) and shuffling bits of the story around, and at this point I think it’s pretty much departed wholesale into its own thing.

    Great cast, especially Penny, Eliot and Margo (Janet in the books but renamed for the series).

  4. @Martin Wooster: and where? Bester told a story of Campbell’s office (or at least where Bester was summoned to be told what was wrong with a story) being a box on the side of a printing plant (in New Jersey?).

  5. @Martin/@Chip: Per Astounding (by Nevala-Lee), when Campbell started as editor
    “THE offices of Street & Smith were housed in a decaying hulk of a building—actually several older structures that had been joined together—on Seventh Avenue and West Seventeenth Street, not far from a women’s prison.”

    Later, though, the offices were in Elizabeth, NJ (which is where the Bester incident occurred)

  6. Tumblr fandom spent most of the latest series of The Magicians celebrating and then exploded with rage upon the finale. I haven’t seen the show myself but it was interesting to watch the fandom go from recommending itself to everyone to recommending everyone stay away with that fast a turn-around.

  7. Yeah, I’ve heard some rumblings about the Magicians season finale, but I’ve tried to steer clear of details until I can find out for myself.

  8. (8) In addition to the misrecording of the convention Dr. Geisler has chaired, we also misrecorded the university at which she teaches. It is Suffolk, not BU. Corrections to both were made at the following meeting where these minutes were accepted and will appear in the next Mentor.

  9. Peter Lorre, The Invisible Agent 1942

    “The Invisible Man’s grandson uses his secret formula to spy on Nazi Germany.”

  10. (9) I’ve never used this encoder before, but here’s the event that so outraged fans of the Magicians TV series (which I haven’t seen): Gur prageny punenpgre Dhragva qvrf. Nccneragyl sbe tbbq.

    (I’ve read the first two books and will get around to the third. Grossman’s late father Allen, by the way, was a fine poet and a great humanities professor: I had him for a class called The Representation of Experience, around the time the twins were 6 years old, I guess.)

  11. Peter Lorre had an interesting career. The first maybe-genre piece I can see on his IMDB entry is the 1932 F.P.1 Fails to Reply – F.P.1 is a huge floating platform in the middle of the Atlantic, where planes can stop and refuel.

  12. @Paul King
    F.P.1 antwortet nicht (F.P.1 does not reply) is definitely SF and well worth watching. It stars Hans Albers, who also stars in 1944 Retro Hugo finalist Münchhausen, as well as Sybille Schmitz who died much too young, and Peter Lorre. Also seen in a small part is Erik Ode, who would eventually come to fame in the German TV crime series Der Kommissar. The popular German hit song “Flieger, grüß mir die Sonne” also first appeared in this film, sung by Hans Albers. It was still being covered well into the 21st century.

  13. Peter Lorre played roles in three film versions of novels by Jules Verne: the Disney “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea”, the Irwin Allen “Five Weeks In A Balloon” and Michael Todd’s “Around The World In Eighty Days” (the last one in a cameo). He was also in the 1940’s horror movie “The Beast With Five Fingers”, although it’s not clear to me if the movie involved fantasy (involving a disembodied hand) or the Lorre character’s delusion.

  14. I just finished Jo Walton’s Lent, and am still searching for my socks. Who else has read it? Views?

  15. (9) re Lorre
    When we did skits for Torture Cinema on Skiffy and Fanty, I almost always played Peter Lorre as himself as a character inexplicably (the skits were rather silly) tied into events…

  16. @Msb I just finished LENT last week, and my socks are also still unfound. I liked those socks too!

    I got to the halfway point, when (spoilery incident) happens, and wondered what was going to happen with the rest of the book. AND THEN I FOUND OUT!!!

    AAAAAA

  17. Stand on Zanzibar is EERIE. Published in 1968, it is set in 2010 during the administration of U.S. President Obomi (!), and it depicts, among other things, an increase in terrorist threats, school shootings, a sixfold rise in prices due to inflation from 1969 to 2010, economic rivalry between the U.S. and China, the European Union, a decrease in marriage rates among younger people, pharmaceuticals to improve sexual performance and their commonplace acceptance, laser printers, increasing decriminalization of marijuana, the collapse of Detroit, wide acceptance of gay rights, satellite TV, TiVo, and electric cars.

  18. @Kyra: In Brunner’s book, “President Obomi” is the President of Beninia, the fictional West African nation, not the United States.

  19. @Kyra Stand on Zanzibar is EERIE.

    Stand on Zanzibar is an impressive treatment of a standard 1970s dystopia of overpopulation and I think you have to try quite hard to turn the elements into “eerily accurate predictions”. In particular, the “terrorism” is apolitical, the “school shootings” are street attacks with knives, the inflation is a simple extension of 70s trends, the “decrease in marriage rates” is implicit but never labelled as such or remarked upon in the text, the “rivalry with China” is Cold War and not commerical, and Detroit gets a passing mention exactly twice.

    Which makes it all the more interesting to see a meme linking 70s dystopia to Obama’s presidency. I wonder where that comes from?

  20. @Sophie Jane: IIRC, you are correct that all the mass violence in SoZ is apolitical. It is also true that some of the mass violence we have seen happen is borderline, and some (e.g. Las Vegas) has not shown any political connection — and most of it has involved complex planning, instead of the sort of spontaneous explosion that I read in SoZ’s “muckers”. (Brunner was AFAICT riffing off the Texas university tower shooting, but without making his violence a specifcally USian disease — unlike starkly anti-USian currents in some of his work.) I’d also argue that Kyra’s “increased decriminalization” of pot is … understating …; one of the side threads involves the theft of a commercial strain, and pot is advertised as widely and bluntly as tobacco was when SoZ was written. But ISTM that SoZ is an effectively measured dystopia, built to be plausibly bad rather than horrible (cf ;The Jagged Orbit, The Sheep Look Up, The Hunger Games, etc.), which makes it feel prophetic even if the details don’t line up.

  21. @Chip Hitchcock But ISTM that SoZ is an effectively measured dystopia, built to be plausibly bad rather than horrible… which makes it feel prophetic even if the details don’t line up.

    Agreed, particularly with the Dos Passos writing style adding so much depth and detail. I still think you have to cherry-pick quite heavily to see it as more prophetic than the other 70s overpopulation-and-eugenics dystopias though.

    As an aside, I have a hazy memory of a Tom Wolfe profile of a pop sociologist who sounded like the source of the book’s dodgy sociobiology. I’ll have to try and hunt it down… I think the profile was collected in “The Pump House Gang”?

  22. Hi, Rob! (I’ve been around a bit, mostly on the “Recommended SF/F” threads, but yeah, my commenting otherwise has dropped WAAAAYYYYY back while I’ve been working on finishing some writing projects …)

    And apparently, I should have reread Stand On Zanzibar more recently, rather than relying on my somewhat hazy decades-old memories and a quick Wikipedia reminder. Sorry for the mischaracterizations, all. Although I still think that generally speaking, for the somewhat fuzzy and tangential metric of “accurate sci-fi predictions”, between SoZ, The Shockwave Rider, and The Sheep Look Up, Brunner stands head and shoulders above practically anyone else.

  23. Reading update: Finished all of the Hugo novellas, novelettes and short stories, at least all those within this year’s packet. Some good stuff there! With the top of my own personal short story ballot quite possibly going to Alix Harrow’s “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”.

    Have now read the first couple pages of Space Opera, and on the one hand I can see that this is a marmite book; and on the other hand, I think I’m going to really, really like marmite.

  24. So, to you who have read LENT, which of Jo’s other books is it most like? I bounced hard off the Philosopher books but have liked most of her other stuff.

    I just took a look over my Hugo ballot and I’m more ahead on the voting than I thought I was. This year I’m ranking as I read (and re-ranking as necessary when I finish another work). That way if I get hit by a bus, at least Nicholas has my thoughts on what I’ve read. I think next is to make a push to finish the short stories. Novels *and* Series are done! Woot! YA isn’t even started. 🙁

    Wife gets the PRs in hard copy and I’ve co-opted the right side of the paper Hugo Ballot to keep track of what I’ve down loaded. She gets the left.

    Mike, please bring back the formatting buttons if you can. Thanks!

  25. The Magicians show has grown on me, possibly more so than any show I’ve ever seen that I didn’t really like at first (although I always liked the cast). I wrote about the last season here; I only obliquely referred to that thing that fans on Tumblr are mad about, but I think it’s a perfectly reasonable idea. The show has been really good at making drastic changes in direction now and then without losing track of what’s interesting about the characters and the overall feeling of the world. It’s also the kind of loose adaptation where you can tell they didn’t actually forget about the source material because stuff keeps showing up that’s clearly based on something they left out before.

  26. Shape of an SJW credential!
    Form of a damp file!

    (9) June 26 is Robert Colbert’s birthday. He was half of the pair of scientists lost in time on Time Tunnel. Since they’re bringing back bad shows, (Did anyone really want more of Press Your Luck?) I see no reason why Project Tic-Toc shouldn’t be relaunched. Just make it like Legends fo the DC Universe without the super-heroes.

    (17) Anything else people want brought back by Stranger Things? New Coke, ice cream, and the brontosaurus so far. Plus maybe striped tube socks judging by some of the stuff they were selling at Target. Trying to think of things I miss from that time period. Not a lot to be frank. Maybe a Vectrex machine.

    They tell us that we got our scrolls evolving up from filthy trolls

  27. Recent iterations of “Stand on Zanzibar predicted all this stuff” are probably derived from this piece that got a fair amount of circulation a few years ago. I agree that a lot of it is a stretch. Besides what others said, the idea of European unification was hardly new in Brunner’s day and major steps toward it had already been taken. And his ideas about spree killings are far from what we’re seeing now because he assumed they would be equally bad in every part of the world that had a certain population density. (The piece also includes a few items far more questionable than anything Kyra cited: for instance it gets the idea of “Mr. & Mrs. Everywhere” very wrong, they’re nothing like avatars, they are your real face pasted over the actors in prerecorded TV shows and commercials.)

  28. I thought the Midtown Quartet video was pretty snappy, so thanks to Mark Evanier for the alert!

  29. Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up is strewn throughout with quotations from the U.S. President (“Prexy”), who sounds exactly like the Ronald Reagan of the 1980s. I suppose Reagan didn’t sound quite so befuddled when he was California governor, when Brunner was writing. Or did he?

    (In William F. Nolan’s 1971 spoof Space for Hire, there’s a passenger space liner called the “President Reagan.” I don’t think Nolan’s the only one to have “predicted” such a thing…)

  30. Joe H: Marmite indeed. To me, _Space_Opera_ ‘s imitation of Douglas Adams’s style was rather irritating.

  31. @Joe H. and David Shallcross:

    When I read Space Opera, Valente’s prose put me in a trance but afterwards I felt like the book was lacking in substance. Unless things change, I’m favoring Naomi Novik.

  32. @ Beth in MA
    Thanks! I was struggling a bit up to *spoiler* as I disliked both what I had heard about the historical Savonarola and the novel’s present-tense style (so hissy!), but was firmly captured after that.

    @ Ultragotha
    Not sure, as I’ve only read about 2/3 of Walton’s books. It has the good heart I’ve found in all her work, the unflinching description of coping with mental and physical suffering, and character overlap with the Thessaly books. Another common thread is the solid worldbuilding: the focus on all that’s involved in living day to day, whether as Arthur’s knight, a Victorian dragon, a citizen of the Just City, a disabled teenager at boarding school or a monk/pope/ruler… . Not sure this is helpful, either …

  33. Stand on Zanzibar made a lot of very reasonable extrapolations of existing trends. Most SF (especially at the time, but even today) tends to focus on a few extrapolations which drive the story. Brunner kinda went wild, but still tried to keep the whole thing vaguely plausible, and the result was something that can still look like a bunch of amazingly accurate predictions–though it was, of course, no such thing. Extrapolations are not actually the same thing as predictions.

    In any case, it’s been one of my favorite novels since I was pretty young. Really amazing piece of work. Great writing. And I have to say that I’m glad it was this one, and not some of his darker works, that ended up looking like a bunch of amazingly accurate predictions. 😀

    Eli on June 27, 2019 at 9:44 am said:

    The Magicians show has grown on me, possibly more so than any show I’ve ever seen that I didn’t really like at first (although I always liked the cast).

    I hated the cast at first–or at least the characters–and it wasn’t until I decided that maybe I didn’t have to like them to enjoy the story that I started to, well, enjoy it.

  34. @Sophie Jane:

    I still think you have to cherry-pick quite heavily to see it as more prophetic than the other 70s overpopulation-and-eugenics dystopias though.

    Perhaps — although ISTM there’s also that he put so many things in, where a lot of that line just went “there are too many people and everything sucks”, rather than giving such texture (not just the structure, but the number of things he put into those sidebars). I see @Xtifr puts this more clearly.

    @ULTRAGOTHA: I’d say Lent is more like the Athena-and-Apollo-experiment trilogy (guessing that’s what you meant by Philosopher); I think it’s not exactly marmite, but was beyond or around-the-corner-from me — there seemed to be an awful lot of book for one tiny conclusion (which means I probably missed a lot of things), and I’m not sure the premise was plausible. None of this denies any of the points-of-craft @Msb makes.

    @gottacook: I think Reagan was always stupid (IMO “befuddled” is too kind, and I wouldn’t object to “vicious”), but I wasn’t paying attention when he was governor.

  35. Rob Thornton: When I read Space Opera, Valente’s prose put me in a trance but afterwards I felt like the book was lacking in substance.

    I had to stop quite early on because I was in danger of losing my vision due to copious amounts of eyerolling.

  36. I didn’t mind Space Opera’s style too much, although I’m not much of one for Styles in general — it was exhausting but that’s not its fault, just hard on the ol’ spoons quota — but it ended up being rather more style and world building than character and plot, and I like character and plot. I’m also not sure how much of the world building really felt, I dunno, deep? Immersive? Memorable?

    It’s a comedy that makes choices for comedic reasons, which is fine, but my favourite comedies are ones that also have something to say or insight to share, and it didn’t always. But I did enjoy it! Especially all the song title puns! I’m just not sure how I’ll stack it up against the other finalists. I like how different the Novel finalists have all felt so far, but I haven’t got a beloved favourite yet.

    On the plus side, I’m pretty sure Space Opera will make an excellent Christmas present for my sister, who loves Eurovision and prefers strong/distinctive writing styles.

  37. We’re sort of stuck in the middle of the latest season of the Magicians for Reasons, so I haven’t seen how they handle the (spoiler event), and to me how they do it will matter much much more than that they do it. The writers have earned a bit of my trust so far in what they do with world-shaking material.

    Some of the characters I hated the most in season one are now favourites to watch, but I would agree that they’re mostly people I wouldn’t want to spend time with IRL.

    I’ve had the books recommended to me more than once, and even an offer to get free copies from my sister-in-law (Due to general collection culling). Despite knowing that plotwise it’s a different story with different emphases, how much I’ve enjoyed the show has led me to think my failure to do so was indeed a failing. Although some of the show’s brilliant moments would be remarkably hard to pull off in prose (Under Pressure for one).
    (Then I look at the size of Mt. TBR.)

  38. I thought practically all of the worldbuilding in Space Opera just ended up setting up how the eventual resolution. It’s a nice trick given how many of the asides seem random on first read but ultimately I felt it made the whole seem a bit hollow.

    Contrast with Hitchhiker’s in which several of the more random bits are just there for humor or commentary and never get follow-ups. (Although in some cases “never” depends on which version you’re experiencing.)

    I also thought the prose got a bit less overwhelming as I got further into the book but I’m not entirely sure whether it actually did or whether I just got acclimated. A point in favor of the former is that there’s no dialogue until Chapter 3.

  39. Lenora Rose: I’ve had the [Magicians series] books recommended to me more than once, and even an offer to get free copies… Despite knowing that plotwise it’s a different story with different emphases, how much I’ve enjoyed the show has led me to think my failure to do so was indeed a failing.

    I bounce off of a lot of fantasy that other people love, but I raved about the Magicians series. The characters are complex, and often not necessarily likable, but I thought that the worldbuilding was phenomenal and that the plotting does not go in predictable directions.

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