Pixel Scroll 6/29/19 I Scroll Less Than Half Of You Half As Well As You Pixel

(1) SPEAKING WITH PRIDE. Sina Grace tells about Marvel’s lack of support for LGBTQ+ superheroes and comic books: “As Pride Month comes to a close, it’s time I spoke candidly about my experience at Marvel Comics”. Warning: Grace quotes some of the abuse.

…It’s no surprise that I got the attention of trolls and irate fans for taking on this job. There was already backlash around the manner in which Bobby Drake aka Iceman came out, and Marvel needed to smooth that landing and put a “so what” to the decision. After a point, I could almost laugh off people making light of my death, saying they have “cancerous AIDS” from my book, or insinuating I’m capable of sexual assaultalmost. Between Iceman’s cancellation and its subsequent revival, Marvel reached out and said they noticed threatening behavior on my Twitter account (only after asking me to send proof of all the nasty shit popping up online). An editor called, these conversations always happen over the phone, offering to provide “tips and tricks” to deal with the cyber bullying. I cut him off. All he was going to do was tell me how to fend for myself. I needed Marvel to stand by me with more work opportunities to show the trolls that I was more than a diversity hire. “We’ll keep you in mind.” I got so tired of that sentence. 

Even after a year of the new editor-in-chief saying I was talented and needed to be on a book that wasn’t “the gay character,” the only assignment I got outside of Iceman was six pages along, about a version of Wolverine where he had diamond claws. Fabulous, yes. Heterosexual, yes. Still kind of the gay character, though.

We as creators are strongly encouraged to build a platform on social media and use it to promote work-for-hire projects owned by massive corporations… but when the going gets tough, these dudes get going real quick…. 

(2) SFWA SUPPORTS BEAGLE. Here’s one more instance where they lent a helping hand:

(3) TALE WAGGERS. How can you not want to read a post with a title like this? “Where Dogs Play a Part: Dogtime on the 5 Best Fantasy And Science Fiction Books With Dogs” at Black Gate.

Everybody loves recommending science fiction books. It’s not just our friends at Tor.com, Kirkus Reviews, and The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog anymore. Last week at Dogtime (Dogtime?!) Jean Andrei recommended the 5 Best Fantasy And Science Fiction Books “where dogs play a part in the story.” Starting, of course, with one of the great classics of the genre, the 1944 fix-up novel City.

(4) BARBARIANS AT THE GATES. Did you get into fandom Before Mainstream Acceptance (BMA) or After Mainstream Acceptance? Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson has a theory he’d like to try out on you: “BMA Fans and AMA Fans. Will the Real Fan Please Stand Up”.

BMA fans are frequently taken to task for so-called “gatekeeping”.  I think that some of that, perhaps even a large part of it, is not gatekeeping in the minds of those fans so much as it is an expression of fierce loyalty and protectiveness over something that they paid hard currency to help create.  They value certain things because they’ve learned that those things are important to the maintenance of fandom (as they know it) and are suspicious and critical when AMA fans don’t exhibit the same respect, knowledge of or, worst-case-scenario, take it upon themselves to redefine things that are already settled law and enshrined in the fannish encyclopedia.

(5) SOLEIN IS NEITHER GREEN NOR PEOPLE. It’s marketed as electric food, but it’s not what The Guardian’s headline implies: “Plan to sell 50m meals made from electricity, water and air”.

The powder known as Solein can be given texture through 3D printing, or added to dishes and food products as an ingredient.

It is produced through a process similar to brewing beer. Living microbes are put in liquid and fed with carbon dioxide and hydrogen bubbles, which have been released from water through the application of electricity. The microbes create protein, which is then dried to make the powder.

(6) LOCUS AWARDS. Here’s two photos from today’s fun:

  • The cast of Primeval came to the banquet looking for something good to eat.
  • And the traditional Hawaii shirt fun and games:

(7) WWII FANACK. Rob Hansen, curator of fanhistory site THEN, tells about his latest additions:

In what I think concludes my recent deep dive into 1940s LASFS. I’ve just added a page on Ackerman’s War which is accompanied by a couple of photos you may not have seen before. I’ve also moved most of the clubroom stuff onto its own page ‘cos it makes more sense that way. The text includes the usual cornucopia of links, of course.

It’s mostly lighthearted, but not this part —

On New Year’s Day 1945 Alden Ackerman, a Pfc with the 42nd Tank Battalion 11th Armored Division and Forry’s kid brother, was killed in action in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. The news took several weeks to reach Forry, who reported the death in ‘The Alert’ and in VOM #39, which featured him on its cover. Ackerman later announced he would also be starting ALDEN PRESS, whose first offering in March was a memorial to Alden.

(8) BERGLUND OBIT. In another major loss for Lovecraftians, friends of Edward P. Berglund (1942-2019) reported on Facebook he died this week. In the words of Luis G. Abbadie:

Edward P. Berglund was a great editor, a great contributor to our beloved shared world of the Cthulhu Mythos, a great man, period. His anthology The Disciples of Cthulhu was the first original Mythos collection to follow August Derleth’s classic Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos and a classic in its own right. And his monumental website A Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos is a fondly remembered Ancient Pharos for so many of us.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 29, 1919 Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And, of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
  • Born June 29, 1920 Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film), Jason and the Argonauts,  Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 29, 1943 Maureen O’Brien, 76. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
  • Born June 29, 1947 Brian Herbert, 72. Son of Frank Herbert.
  • Born June 29, 1950 Michael Whelan, 69. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. 
  • Born June 29, 1956 David Burroughs Mattingly, 63. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black Hole, Tron, Dick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary
  • Born June 29, 1957 Fred Duarte, Jr. His Birthday is today and this long-time Texas fan is eulogized by Mike here upon his passing several years back. (Died 2015.)

(10) 101. Anna-Louise Fortune is starting a short series about the Worldcon. After hearing her voice JJ says “I keep expecting her to pull out a ruler and whap me on the knuckles.”

(11) HUGO TAXONOMY. The fabulously inventive Camestros Felapton commences to drilling through the award’s historic layers in “The Hugosauriad: Introduction to a Dinography”.

…Two points form a line and following that line backward I could cut a rock sample through the Hugo Awards and expose the geologic layers. From there I could construct not a biography of the Hugo Awards but a dinography* — an account of a thing using the medium of dinosaurs.

A dinography requires some rules, specifically a rule as to what counts as a dinosaur. For my purpose the dinosaur eligibility includes

  • Actual dinosaurs as recognised by the paleontology of the time a work was written.
  • Prehistoric reptilian creatures from the Mesozoic era that in popular culture count as dinosaurs such as large marine reptiles and pterosaurs.
  • Fantastical creatures derived from dinosaurs such as creatures in Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar series.
  • Aliens (intelligent or not) of a reptilian nature that humans would see as dinosaur like.
  • Dinosaurs as a metaphor for something either out of time or hanging on beyond their time.

(12) DEADLY BED. The Guardian delves into a California seashore calamity: “Temperatures lead to what appears to be largest local die-off in 15 years, raising fears for broader ecosystem”

In all her years working at Bodega Bay, the marine reserve research coordinator Jackie Sones had never seen anything like it: scores of dead mussels on the rocks, their shells gaping and scorched, their meats thoroughly cooked.

A record-breaking June heatwave apparently caused the largest die-off of mussels in at least 15 years at Bodega Head, a small headland on the northern California bay. And Sones received reports from other researchers of similar mass mussel deaths at various beaches across roughly 140 miles of coastline.

While the people who flocked to the Pacific to enjoy a rare 80F beach day soaked up the sun, so did the mussel beds – where the rock-bound mollusks could have been experiencing temperatures above 100F at low tide, literally roasting in their shells.

Sones expects the die-off to affect the rest of the seashore ecosystem. “Mussels are known as a foundation species. The equivalent are the trees in a forest – they provide shelter and habitat for a lot of animals, so when you impact that core habitat it ripples throughout the rest of the system,” said Sones.

(13) LAST CHANCE. James Reid’s assessment: “Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2019 – John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer”.

The Campbell award is open to the best new writer, and is judged over their output regardless of length or quantity.  Usually, the main thing to comment on is that it is not really a Hugo,1 but the interesting wrinkle of the Campbell award this year is that you can be eligible for it twice.  The Campbell competition is often my favourite, because it usually the most diverse and novel category.   This year however, five of the six nominees are in the second year of eligiblity, and four of those were on last years slate.2

(14) UNDER THE LID. Alasdair Stuart introduces “The Full Lid 28th June 2019”:

This week’s Full Lid is here for all your bio-mechanical, classics of English literature and scrappy can-do cinema needs. I take a listen to the Dirk Maggs’ produced adaptation of William Gibson’s Alien III script, am impressed by the first episode of Catch-22 and ridiculously charmed by the minimal budget enthusiasm of Audax. Also this week, the DJBBQ5000, Journeyquest take us Cooking WIth Carrow and I look back on a demanding week.

The subject isn’t sff (is it?) but I’m going to excerpt Stuart’s sharply-written Catch-22 review.

…Luke Davies and David Michôd’s adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic novel does everything right. It doesn’t have hundreds of pages so instead of the slow burn agonizing unreleased terror of the novel’s absurd waits between missions, it focuses all the way in on Yossarian. Abbott is perfect for the role, simultaneously swaggering and cowed and his jokes are always a quarter second away from a scream. He’s not okay. No one cares. He gets worse. No one cares. That’s the marching tempo of the story, always accelerating, never quite breaking out into a run….

(15) WHAT A CROC! But NPR says it’s true: “Veggie Surprise: Teeth Of Ancient Crocs Reveal That Some Very Likely Ate Plants”.

Modern crocodiles can trace their lineage back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. If you picture that crocodile ancestor, way back in the Cretaceous period, what do you imagine it snacking on? Maybe a fish or a bird?

Think again. Scientists say it’s more likely it was chomping on prehistoric flowers or other plants. A new study in Current Biology has found these ancient crocodile cousins actually evolved into plant eaters at least three times, and probably more.

It started with a paleontology graduate student at the University of Utah puzzling over some strange-looking teeth of the crocodile cousins (known as crocodyliforms, or crocs for short).

“The fact that so many croc teeth look nothing like anything around today just absolutely fascinated me,” Keegan Melstrom tells NPR.

(16) OUT OF THE ZONE. Galactic Journey is there when The Twilight Zone leaves the air (in 1964): “[June 26, 1964] Curtain Call (Twilight Zone, Season 5, Episodes 33-36)”.

Back in January, it was announced that this season would be The Twilight Zone’s last. In the show’s five year run, Rod Serling’s brainchild has produced more than 150 episodes and brought a new level of sophistication to science fiction and fantasy entertainment on television. Even with some decline in the program’s quality, The Twilight Zone still remains incredibly impressive as a whole — as the series comes an end, the show still manages to deliver some strong performances…

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

90 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/29/19 I Scroll Less Than Half Of You Half As Well As You Pixel

  1. (9) Dave Mattingly is the first person I ever met who I still know, having played with him when we moved to Colorado and I was not quite three yet, and he was just three. His mother was the ‘welcome lady’ and came to greet us, as I’m informed, and we scrabbled around in a ditch or something while the greeting took place.
    We went to the same grade school and high school (senior year only). We had many adventures, and he got me into comic collecting and drawing. I saw him three times after I left Colorado in 1980. We collaborated on a strip called “The Wolverine” in 12th grade, at Rocky Mountain High, the year he ran for Student Body President on the Apathy ticket and was elected after he dropped out of the race. For years I thought his middle name was Brutus, because he used to sign it that way as a joke.
    Now we exchange Christmas cards, though I’d rather be hanging out and drawing comics with him.

  2. 4) I do note that piece doesn’t put a date on when this Mainstream Acceptance occurred or even a range of dates.

  3. 5) So now they try to use an environmental angle to force their protein powder down our throats. Why can’t these protein powder folks accept that a lot of people simply like eating and like cooking and don’t want their protein powder?

    Not that there aren’t measures you can take to make your food consumption more climate and environment friendly, e.g. eat less meat, buy more local products, buy more organic products, try to eat what’s in season, grow your own vegetables, if you have the space and inclination, etc… But guilting people into eating your protein powder is not the solution.

  4. 9) Also born on June 29th: Bernard Herrmann, who, amongst many, many others, composed the soundtracks for Harryhausen’s 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Jason & the Argonauts, and Mysterious Island.

    My favorite Whelan covers are probably Tanith Lee’s Anackire

    https://www.michaelwhelan.com/wp-content/uploads/anackire-cover.jpg

    And M.A.R. Barker’s Man of Gold

    https://www.michaelwhelan.com/wp-content/uploads/manofgold.jpg

    (even though that one doesn’t really have much relation to the content of the book).

    I also have a full set of his Barsoom covers, but it’s just as well that the Gino D’Achille ones were what was on the shelf when I was young — I can’t see Dad buying me a copy of the Whelan Princess of Mars back in my junior high days …

    https://www.michaelwhelan.com/wp-content/uploads/princessofmars.jpg

  5. @Paul Weimer

    4) I do note that piece doesn’t put a date on when this Mainstream Acceptance occurred or even a range of dates.

    Yes, some dates would be useful. Some possibilities are:
    – the original TV run of Star Trek
    – the release of the original Star Wars trilogy
    – the release of E.T.
    – the original TV run of the X-Files
    – the release of the Lord of the Rings movies
    – the premiere of Game of Thrones
    – the release of The Avengers

    So we’ve got a range from 1966 to the 2010s, where SFF became increasingly accepted by the mainstream. Personally I’d say that mainstream acceptance was gradually growing through the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s and then really kicked off with the turn of the millennium.

  6. @Joe H.

    I also have a full set of his Barsoom covers, but it’s just as well that the Gino D’Achille ones were what was on the shelf when I was young — I can’t see Dad buying me a copy of the Whelan Princess of Mars back in my junior high days …

    https://www.michaelwhelan.com/wp-content/uploads/princessofmars.jpg

    I have that very edition of a Princess of Mars and indeed much of my early SFF reading came either with Michael Whelan or Chris Foss covers.

  7. @Cora Buhlert: The Lord of the Rings movies also (roughly) coincided with the first X-Men and Spider-Man movies, and the Star Wars prequels.

    The other big thing that happened at the same time was Harry Potter, which is what I was reading when I was 12. It wasn’t my first SF/F by any means (I’m probably personally responsible for wearing out a library’s copy of The Foundation Trilogy) but it was fun reading some fantasy that other people my age were also reading!

  8. @Goobergunch
    The Matrix also came out around the same time. There were suddenly a lot of SFF and adjacent movies in theatres. And indeed, that was the time when I stopped going to see every vaguely SF-nal movie and started to pick and chose.

    Also good point about Harry Potter. The big urban fantasy and paranormal romance boom, which was mostly driven by readers from outside the SFF community, also happened in the early to mid 2000s. All in all, it was the perfect storm of lots of genre properties becoming popular at the same time.

  9. Cora Buhlert: When did Mainstream Acceptance happen. Here’s my two cents worth. It happened LATER than the beginning of syndication of Star Trek TOS episodes in local markets (early Seventies), because that coincided with the sharp ascent in the number of female fans. And I think it had already happened BEFORE the third Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi.

  10. In any case, it’s not just a matter of BMA vs AMA, because I know a lot of older fen (including both my mom and myself) who have been enthusiastically recruiting for ages, and have never had any desire to engage in gatekeeping.

    No, there’s something else going on.

    Just finished reading Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols, and I think some folks here might like it. Near(ish) future SF starring a female astronaut. A little more detail can be found in my post to F770’s recommended SFF page.

  11. Xtifr: Just finished reading Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols, and I think some folks here might like it.

    I’ve got that sitting here waiting to be read, and I’m hoping that I will enjoy it. A quick check shows that Nichols had a story published with Strange Horizons in September 2002, but from what I can tell, it was not a SFWA-Qualified Market at that time, so she should be eligible for the Campbell Award next year.

  12. 4) This all so very standard and ordinary and hasn’t got anything to do with what mainstream thinks. It is purely an in-group thing. I remember when I was 12 and went on a language trip to England during summer. I had my basic hardrocker outfit with long hair, jeans jacket, badges and so on. But I barely knew more than 10 records. On the trip was another guy who knew everything, a real music enthusiast, but he had short hair so was questioned about everything. He wasn’t a genuine hardrocker. Everyone knew they had long hair.

    It has been the same in absolutely every subculture I have been a part of. People wanting to define what is genuine and to define sellouts. In Punk you were a sell-out if you appeared on Top of the pops. In Sweden no real punks made LP:s or had guitar solos. Kinksters try to define what a real top or bottom is. And in SF it is something something with zines.

    Basically it bogs down to that some people only recognize others as part of the group if they have exactly the same people interest and appreciation for the same stuff. You are benevolently allowed to like other stuff too, as long as you know it comes second hand.

    This is not about BMA or AMA, because I say that is nothing that ever existed. It hasn’t really anything to with Before or After Organization (which does exist). It is about being a purist. And a purist does not have to be in Fandom in any way at all.

    A purist is the person that resents when folk music is mixed with modern rap or rock. That thinks zines should be on paper or at least emulate paper zines. That has an old hand cranked record player and knows that music played on that one is better than MP3 because it is more genuine, it is how things are supposed to be played.

    Purist do not have to be old, I’d say that the worst are 15-25. Pulp-revival among the puppies was a kind of nostalgic purity movement and it was started by people to young to have read the stuff in the first go.

    And fighting for acceptance? Hell no. And hell yes. At the same time. I mean, being a part of a subculture before it has grown large gives you a feeling of elitism, that you are part of something special. The more people that come, the less special you are. It is a feeling I myself have had regarding many things and have left when they started to grow large. Once you were cool because you liked Nightmare Before Christmas. Until you found out everyone did. And then the marketers found out. Doesn’t mean that some people don’t love the growth. But I think love and resentment go together.

    For me, this BMA/AMA feels like an American thing. I read my SF-books my father had as a kid. And didn’t everyone revel in making authorities upset or being denigrated by them? There was a sense of euphoria in School when TV had a special program to condemn Heavy Metal, led by a christian. People were laughing everywhere, we couldn’t believe such idiots existed so now it was time to play Number of The Beast again. The book about the dangers of comics were treated with the same laughter.

    Not being liked by authorities is what makes subcultures great. It gives the feeling you know more than them.

    So no. I do not agree with this BMA/AMA-thing. Apart from in one aspect: The age of the participants. As in partly a generational thing.

    I expect I myself will start to feel bitterness in 5-10 years. When people do not appreciate Evil Dead enough and says it feels old-fashioned.

  13. Dammit, this ADHD-medicine really is a mansplaining-medicine. It is fascinating how much longer my comments get when I’m not distracted by something else.

  14. Some of my favorites of Whelan’s are his covers for Cherryh, including the Chanur series (all but one) and the Foreigner series (all of them, I think).

  15. 4) When we talk about Mainstream Acceptance, I think about the adoption of SF tropes by mainstream writers like Ian McEwan, Colson Whitehead, Cormac McCarthy, Audrey Niffenegger and so on. When I’m browsing through the new releases in the library, I often find books that are based on SF/F tropes but have been placed in “Fiction” so they don’t get tarnished with a genre tag.

  16. Solein is made from electricity, water, and air–and all the food currently in my house is made from sunlight, water, and air, directly or indirectly. And most of the “indirectly” is in the processing:the wheat I have here is in the form of flour, and of bread and cookies someone else baked.

    Abstractly, I like the idea of putting wind or water power into the food supply more directly than using it to power a grain mill or oven. The 3D printing seems less appealing, somehow. More likely I’d just add it to another recipe, the way the people who sold me the cricket flour suggested. (Insects are relatively efficient as animal protein goes, in terms of how many kilos of plant it takes to produce one kilo of edible insect.)

  17. @Hampus Eckerman

    You said everything I wanted to say and more coherently than I would have managed, so thanks.

  18. In the same manner as ‘the golden age of science fiction is 12’, the BMA/AMA split is ‘about 10 years after I got into fandom.’

  19. @Xtilf

    I believe Todd Lockwood is the artist for the Foreigner series.

  20. David Burroughs Mattingly? He’s always credited by publishers as David Mattingly. He also did matte work on the Dick Tracy movie—if you look at the city backgrounds, you can clearly see his influence.

    OTOH, I never knew his actual middle name, just the initial “B.” But I did take photos at his wedding, one of which I published in my Science Fiction Chronicle. Mike didn’t use them because it was before F770 was on the Interwebby.

  21. Whelan did covers for Foreigner, Invader, Destroyer, and Explorer. Lockwood took over with Conspirator. There were some other artists in there, also.

  22. 4) (and others today and earlier): I keep getting these flashbacks. This conversation about the nature of fandom has been going on since before I bumped into the subculture circa 1961, via mentions of conventions and fanzines in the magazines. There certainly is a kind of BMA/AMA break–though “break” strikes me as an imprecise metaphor for the gradual process by which the general culture (and marketers) decided that SF/F might be worth paying attention to. But fandom has been fractious and fractured for almost as long as fans have been around–when I was getting a handle on it a half-century and more ago, one of the foundational texts was Sam Moskowitz’s The Immortal Storm, which is all about such divisions. Hell, I wrote an academic essay about some of these issues around 1990.

    BTW & FWIW, from what I could see at the time, Star Trek was not as significant as Star Wars as a wedge cultural product. Once Hollywood saw that there was serious money in “sci-fi,” the attention-money-attention cycle became self-sustaining. A similar process operated on comics-based material–the success of the Christopher Reeve Superman might be the Star Wars-equivalent event. (The TV Batman, I suspect, was seen as a niche-y, campy product with appeal limited to kids.)

  23. Subcultures sometimes have these moments when they reach a critical mass and suddenly is large enough to be covered in newspapers, talked about with friends or to earn a living from. And as soon as the coverage gets bigger, then the audience grows quicker and quicker. I’m not sure that really is about “acceptance”. More about awareness. Or a little bit of both for some things.

    It is kind of fun with internet that a lot of small hobbies and subcultures suddenly start to find others alike all over the world and reach critical masses. Regardless of if it is about being furries, building lego, cosplay or whatever.

    I have a friend who is a transformer nerd, collecting these toys, finds spare parts and repairs them. And suddenly there were enough of them in Sweden to have a little mini-convention. I don’t think that would have happened without internet making it so much easier for everyone to find each other.

  24. I was curious what the last year was where the US box office wasn’t dominated by Star Wars, Superheroes, cartoons and other genre films. Maybe 1998 when Saving Private Ryan was the top of the box office and there were five movies in the Top 10 for the year that were mainly comedies and action movies.

    With the exception of 2014 when American Sniper was the #1 movie at the box office, all years since have been mainly dominated by things I consider to be genre. (I’m being liberal with what I label genre and including things like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Pirates of the Caribbean.) Even in 2014, the rest of the top ten were genre or genre adjacent.

    If you look back thirty years to 1989, it was 50-50 with Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the top two movies, but then there was Lethal Weapon. Plus you had dramas like Driving Miss Daisy and Dead Poets Society in the top 10.

    Go to 1980 where Empire Strikes Back was #1 and the only real scifi movie in the Top 10. The Shining is at #14 and Flash Gordon is at #23. Empire did do about twice as much business as the #2 movie (9 to 5) that year.

    Scrolling 9 to 5 what a way to make a pixel

  25. Once upon a time, in the 60’s, I read a story where the two main characters were arguing about “FIAWOL” and “FIJAGH” and it was a puzzle to me until the end when they explained the acronyms. (I was maybe 12 YO)

    Anyone remember this? Title? Author?

    In any case, this has been going on a long, long time.

    Also, propeller beanies were involved.

  26. I think a good dividing line between BMA and AMA is when San Diego Comic-Con exploded in popularity. It could be marked as the point at which it first passed 100,000 in attendance (2005), when it closed registration for the first time to limit crowds (2006), or when four- and three-day memberships first sold out (2007).

    The era of cons with six-figure attendance struck me as a big deal at the time, and the press coverage they got often referenced the ascendance of nerd culture.

    I tried to think of an earlier BMA/AMA divider involving comic book shops and the direct market’s birth in 1981. Shopping for the first time at a store dedicated to selling comics and related products (like SF/F books and RPGs) was a transformative experience for me as a young teen. It was the early 1980s and my mom drove an hour in the car to take me to Lone Star Comics in Arlington.

    Maybe it should be when Comic Book Shops got their own Yellow Pages category. For a long time they only could be found under Book Dealers Used and Rare. I know this because it was the first thing I looked up when I was in a new place.

  27. The Brian Herbert entry being so short (“son of Frank Herbert”) is amusing.

    Here’s some more details about the birthday boy: He has written 13 Dune books with Kevin J. Anderson, most recently Navigators of Dune in 2016. He also has written unrelated SF/F novels, including Sidney’s Comet (1983), Prisoners of Arionn (1987) and Man of Two Worlds (1986), cowritten with his father.

    The experience of writing that book together was a good one for Brian, he writes in his biography of his father Dreamer of Dune. They had many good-natured arguments over the plot. One example: “Another passage I had written, involving a giant spider, had technical problems. Dad said a spider wouldn’t scale up, since it couldn’t support great weight without a skeleton.”

    One sad biographical note is that Brian lost his younger brother Bruce Calvin Herbert, a photographer and LGBT activist, to AIDS in 1993. In Dreamer, Brian Herbert writes of his brother, “Bruce was brilliant. In the 1960s, he invented the ‘karaoke’ music system. Without naming it or attempting to exploit it commercially, he simply set it up for personal use in his own household.”

  28. As I see it, SF was mainstream when I was born (1970) or at least when I started to read. The bookstores were selling SF, there was Flash Gordon on TV, I read my father’s old SF books from the 40s, there were SF publishers in Swedish, you could win SF books at the children’s Zoo, there were SF comics, I had friends at school to change books with, school library had SF books, childrens book club had SF books, childrens magazine published Bradbury.

    It was everywhere. Not something special.

  29. P J Evans on June 30, 2019 at 8:47 am said:

    Whelan did covers for Foreigner, Invader, Destroyer, and Explorer. Lockwood took over with Conspirator.

    Ah, well, Lockwood did a good job of capturing what I might call the “feel” of Whelan’s early covers in the series, then. Looking at them again, I can clearly see different artists, but I didn’t really notice until my attention was called to it.

    I think Hampus has correctly identified a major factor in gatekeeping with his purists who want to feel elite. But I think SF fandom has another factor, which you won’t normally find with rock-and-roll fans: fear. Fear of the mean ol’ “mundanes” who have mocked your for your geeky interests. (Which is not to say that sort of thing doesn’t happen with music subcultures, but in my experience, it’s far less common.) And this fear aspect (and its associated anger) is something that will be decreasing as mainstream acceptance grows. So, while I still think it’s wrong to say that BMA vs AMA is the “answer”, it may be correct to say that mainstream acceptance is improving things. (Or ruining things, if you’re one of the jerks who inclines towards gatekeeping.)

  30. Hampus: I don’t know if I’d call all of those examples of mainstream acceptance.

    SF was around in the U.S. in the same ways you list when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. But it still felt like we were on the cultural fringe, not something that was a common pursuit. I had classmates sometimes ask me about reading SF/F and comics as if it was a weird thing nobody should admit to doing. Being an outsider was part of the charm.

    If nerd culture had been ascendant in the 1980s, the D&D Satanic panic never would’ve happened. Being asked by relatives if I should be playing the game — or worse having them challenge my mom for letting us play — still makes me steamed. Don’t get me started on Pat Pulling and Joe McGinness.

  31. Rcade:

    We only had two TV channels in the country. If something was shown on them, odds were some 10-20% of the population watched it. And they were showing Flash Gordon. I’d call that pretty mainstream. That apart from our most famous poet having written Kallocain in 1940 and our next most known poet wrote Aniara in 1954 and later won the Nobel Prize mostly based on that work.

    And apart from that, SF movies were shown on the cinemas. A Clockwork Orange, Planet of the Apes, 2001. Things people went to see and talked about. That were well-known. I’d call that pretty mainstream. Not dominating, but still something people knew about and had tried, without having become part of a subculture.

  32. For me, the moment I saw mainstream acceptance was reading a story in the LA Times that talked about “change coming at warp speed”. They didn’t explain the phrase at all; they assumed everyone would get it. This was in the 80s.

  33. rcade: It may simply be a part of human psychology, rather than peculiar to science fiction fans, however, seeing this discussion of gatekeeping play out finally reminded me that even Dave Kyle, at a Worldcon, as one of its guests of honor, while delivering his Guest of Honor Speech, went out of his way to say that many of those present at the convention did not meet his definition of “fan” and that he felt those like him had been merely granted the back room of the con to gather for their reunion. His 1983 GoH speech is reprinted in Fanhistorica 5 available at Fanac.org.

    I have found there is no amount of acclaim or perceived privilege any member of fandom can receive that will inoculate them against believing that other fans are picking on and excluding them. (Just let me tell you what some self-appointed gatekeepers did to ME! — See what I mean?)

  34. I saw my first comic book store in 1975, and was soon the assistant manager, and then the manager, and then one day I was unemployed again. For consolation, I later ran into Chuck Rozanski, and he said if he’d known then what he knew later, he wouldn’t have fired me, so there’s that.

    Not sure, all of a sudden. Maybe Jim Payne’s A-1 Comics in Denver was first. I remember, though, that when I traveled to buy comics it was usually at combination stores, like Barter Bob Books, where I got the bulk of my Ditko Spider-Man comics and MAD magazines from around 1960 and after. Even Chuck’s Boulder store (his first location) was tucked under Lois Newman books, but apart from not having a separate front door, it was virtually its own place.

    The excitement of trying to guess how many comics to order, and from whom: The local distributor came later than the Phil Seuling shipments, but the local ones could be returned if unsold. It really mattered to us, close to the margin (or over it) as we usually were.

    Form demands that I close with something like “good times, good times,” and they were, but there was also a lot of anxiety and frustration.

  35. P J Evans:

    Around 20% of the swedish population (1.3 million swedes) watched the first episode of Star Trek when it was shown on TV in 1977. It got, depending on episode, around 4 of 5 stars in the viewer survey

  36. For consolation, I later ran into Chuck Rozanski, and he said if he’d known then what he knew later, he wouldn’t have fired me, so there’s that.

    I tried in high school to turn my love of Lone Star Comics into a job at one of its stores. This did not work, which is probably for the best since my 1966 Dodge Dart never would’ve gotten me there reliably.

    I lived in Denver for one year in the 1990s not long after the Mile High Comics mega-store opened. That place was as big as a supermarket.

  37. I think the BMA/AMA divide really happened in 1976 with Star Wars. Not only the fact that it completely warped the way Hollywood worked, but also because it was a cultural phenomonon. Editorial cartoons made Star Wars references, presidents named fake policy initiatrives after it. Even my mother new about it. And now there’s people in their 50s and 60s who saw it.

    A case could made for earlier mainstream acceptance, such as 2001, or that moon landing movie in 1969. But mainly Star Wars was the beginning of the deluge.

    FWIW, I think what some SF reactionaries miss is that sense of something special, something separate. Back in the day they could make fun of the Mundanes and how they didn’t understand the jargon. Now, if they go into the break room their coworkers may be discussing Game of Thrones or Black Mirror; they may have Totoro posters on their cubicle.

    Not to mention that with broad acceptance came a more critical eye for social issues. They couldn’t beg off things like racism and sexism by saying genre works something sepaparate from the general culture. Video game fans are going through a similar process right now, and not as gracefully.

  38. @4: an interesting discussion, although I wonder how many BMA fans, even long-BMA fans, are foolish enough to claim a hand in the form of today’s world; I’ve read that a lot of the moonshot engineers got involved because of reading SF, but they couldn’t have all been faanish faans because the species wasn’t that numerous.

    @9: I remember being floored by Jason when I first saw it — I hadn’t thought a skeleton could express fury with posture, but Harryhausen managed it. By today’s standards a lot of his work is cheesy, but I wonder whether we’d have Dykstravision or CGI without him showing there was a market for fantastic effects.

    @OGH: I’ll buy your brackets; Wikipedia affirms my recollection that the original Star Wars was for a while the highest-grossing movie of all time, which is a strong marker of public acceptance — the few thousand fans at Worldcons of the time pale against the tens (hundreds?) of millions of admissions sold, even if many of us went several times. Reeves showing up to receive the BDP Hugo in 1979 would be a converse marker, although IIRC it was some years before such appearances could be relied on.

    @Rob Thornton: I don’t know whether it’s a matter of tarnishing or just ignorance; I was floored when the Boston library, which has a substantial SF section, did not so label the latest-but-one Tim Powers. I can see generalizing people who dip into SF from allegedly-mimetic writing (even when the SF is good as SF rather than just look-at-me-being-as-innovative-by-25-year-old-standards), but Powers has always been genre.

    @Hampus Eckerman: what rcade said. Possibly Sweden was more accepting in 1970 than the US; I remember an OST reference (“Herbert”) appearing as a graffito at my school, but there was certainly not general acceptance. Or maybe your markers are weak; there’s a large gap between SF paperbacks being findable and the Victoria Station W. H. Smith’s windows being entirely covered with Pratchett (seen in 1997).

    @OGH: there’s a certain irony in that Kyle whinge; IIRC, that was the con where the semiprozine category was created, so that faanish faans could have their own Hugo instead of watching it go to Locus every year. And at the time it seemed to me that the then-oldtime fans were just as happy to have a small room, because they were so small in number that they couldn’t find each other without such a space — and many of them didn’t care to hang around with newer fans.

    Some Filers mention comic-book stores as markers. What about SF-text stores? IIRC, a fan started one around 1980 in Boston, and I doubt he was the first — although the store was a shoddy-looking affair for quite a while.

  39. @Hampus
    It’s somewhat forgotten today, but Star Trek and Raumpatrouille Orion were big mainstream hits in Germany, too, and regularly got the sort of ratings that only World Cup finals get these days. Of course, this was in a world of only three TV channels and captive audiences, where the only counterprogramming to Star Trek might well be “highlights from the latest parliamentary debates” or “WW2 newreels with commentary by historians”. But in the 1970s, everybody knew who Mr. Spock was and German comedy programs ran Star Trek parodies. Which makes it so sad that German broadcasters have completely abandoned the SF audience they had well into the 2000s to Netflix and other streaming services, which most Germans don’t have.

    We also had SF specialty stores and comic stores (as well as pulp magazine exchanges) in the 1980s, though these were not quite respectable fringe stores.

  40. His 1983 GoH speech is reprinted in Fanhistorica 5 available at Fanac.org.

    That 14-page speech is an interesting read. Kyle’s narrow definition of “fan” wasn’t what I expected. It was about the shrinking number of fans who believed that science fiction has a mission to evangelize technological utopianism. He wanted SF to model better futures (and have less “smut,” though what he regarded as smut was unclear).

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