Pixel Scroll 6/10/17 The Scrollish Pixelman’s Union

(1) FISHING FOR COMPLIMENTS. Share a grilled snook to die for with Elizabeth Hand in Episode 40 of Scott Edelman’s podcast Eating the Fantastic.

Elizabeth Hand

We discussed why she probably won’t take LSD on her deathbed, what made her a fan of Marvel rather than DC when she was a kid, her unusual fee for writing term papers back in college, the true meaning of Man’s Search for Meaning, the unfortunate occupational hazard of book reviewing, who was the best science fiction writer of all time (and why), plus more.

(2) MAD PLASTIC DISEASE. Cedar Sanderson raises the spectre of hostile Nature in “Take two aspirin”:

Toni Weisskopf shared a photo on Facebook of a computer module absolutely infested with an ant nest, seething with eggs, and her comment was that she’d like to see more stories like that in science fiction. It’s an excellent point. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read ( and written) where the tech performs flawlessly. Which does happen. There are also stories where it doesn’t, but how many can you think of where the characters have to deal with an infestation? How would we prevent that, control it, and what kind of adaptations will we see?

I’d run across an article recently about bacteria which will break down plastics that were formerly thought invulnerable. Then there was another one speculating about why less plastic (by an order of magnitude) is found in the ocean than projected, and the discovery of novel bacteria on that plastic. The concern was focused on reducing pollution, but what happens when bacteria evolve to eat stuff we want to stay intact and functional? The stories about nanotech making gray goo aren’t that far off from what bacteria are already capable of — only fortunately they are not so fast to act.

(3) STINKS ON DRY ICE. Entertainment Weekly has the roundup: “‘The Mummy’ reboot slammed as ‘worst Tom Cruise movie ever’ by critics”.

Universal’s first foray into the depths of its Dark Universe probably would have benefitted from a brighter guiding light.

After spending over three decades dazzling audiences across large-scale action-adventures on the big screen, Tom Cruise’s latest genre spectacle, The Mummy, is set to unravel in theaters this Friday. Movie critics, however, got a peek under wraps this week, as movie reviews for the blockbuster project debuted online Wednesday morning. The consensus? According to a vast majority of them, perhaps this romp should’ve remained buried.

(4) 451 CASTING. Probably fortunate, then, that this bit of promotion came out before The Mummy opened: “HBO’s Fahrenheit 451 casting heats up as The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella boards”

If you were already fired up for HBO’s upcoming movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, then prepare to throw a couple more books on the barbie, cause this cast is starting to cook.

Just ahead of her titular turn in this weekend’s The Mummy, Sofia Boutella has signed on to join Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Creed, Fantastic Four) and Michael Shannon (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 99 Homes) as the core players in the film from writer/director Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes).

According to THR, Boutella will play the female lead Clarisse, “an informant caught between” Jordan’s Montag — a fireman whose job it is to burn books, but who ends up rebelling against such a scorching notion after meeting free-spirited Clarisse — and Shannon’s Fire Chief Beatty, Montag’s mentor.

(5) ROSARIUM OPENS ANTHOLOGY. Rosarium Publications invites submissions of science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works to Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan, and Troy L. Wiggins.

TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue will be a new anthology of water-themed speculative short stories that explore all kinds of water lore and deities, ancient and new as well as unimagined tales. We want stories with memorable, engaging characters, great and small, epic tales and quieter stories of personal and communal growth. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works are welcome. We are seeking original stories in English (2500 — 7000 words; pays 5-6 cents per word) from writers of all walks of life from this beautiful planet and will accept some select reprints (pays 2-3 cents per word). Deadline: November 1, 2017. Projected publication: November 2018, Rosarium Publishing, www.rosariumpublishing.com. Please send submissions as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file in standard mss formatting with your name, title, and word count to: TroubletheWaters2018@gmail.com

Complete submission guidelines can be found here.

(6) DYSTOPIAS. The Financial Times’ Nilanjana Roy, in “Future Shocks”, reviews Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne and Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing” to see if our love of dystopias as something to do with the continued decline in urban life around the world.

The nightmare near-future city that a writer like Prayaag Akbar, by contrast, summons in his first novel, Leila (2017), rests on a distinctly South Asian set of fears. About a mother’s search for the daughter she was separated from, it is set in a frightening world where cities are segregated into zones of Purity, citizens sorted by their community, surnames, castes and religion.

This background came out of his discomfort with the way Indian cities have developed. “They are segmented, self-enclosing,€ he told me recently. “We practise a kind of blindness — you teach yourself not to see the tragedies that unfold in public spaces.”

These concerns — about cities splitting into walled enclaves, residents separated from each other’s lives by fears of pollution, contamination, or a striving after purity — find startling expression in Hao Jingfang’s Hugo award-winning “Folding Beijing”….

(7) BRADBURY. BookRiot’s Andy Browers is your guide to “A Friend In High And Low Places: Finding Ray Bradbury Where You May Not Expect Him”.

While I hate to ruin surprises, here are four places you might find yourself in his presence, sometimes peripherally, sometimes looking him right in the bespectacled eye.

Star Trek (aka “Star Track”, as my grandma called it)

Too obvious? Maybe. He and Gene Roddenberry, the fella who dreamed the franchise up, were pals who sat at the same midcentury science fiction table in the cafeteria. Bradbury famously loved all things space and rocket related, and it is fitting that he gets a couple of nods as the namesake of a Federation star ship. In the saucily-named episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation “Menage a Troi”, for instance, which ship is bestowed the great honor of relieving the pain of fandom everywhere by arriving to whisk away Wesley Crusher to Starfleet Academy? The U.S.S. Bradbury, the first of its class.

Wesley missed the space bus by saving the day in that episode, much to the chagrin of a large swath of viewers at home who were sick of having a kid on the Bridge. (Wil Wheaton, I was cheering for you. Please know that.) (Mostly because I kept hoping Wesley would scream TRAAAAIIIIIN in slow motion, which as far I know never happened.)

(8) ORPHAN BLACK. Carl Slaughter advises, “If you haven’t watched Tatiana Maslany portray as many as 14 cones in Orphan Black, you’re missing a treat.”

View Entertainment Weekly’s photo gallery, “‘Orphan Black’ A to Z: Dive Into the Show’s DNA Before Its Final Season”.

(9) STREET MEMORIAL. Here’s Pat Evans’ photo of the mementos being left today on Adam West’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. West died on Friday from leukemia.


  • June 10, 1692 — Bridget Bishop was the first person to be hanged at the Salem Witch trials.


  • Born June 10, 1928 Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak.
  • Born June 10, 1952 — Kage Baker

(12) FAMOUS BOOKSTORE HAS A BACKUP PLAN. The original Books of Wonder, inspiration for the bookstore owned by Meg Ryan’s character in the 1998 comedy You’ve Got Mail, is opening a second location as a contingency plan in case it can’t afford the coming rent hike — “Books of Wonder to Open Upper West Side Location”.

Books of Wonder, the renowned children’s bookstore on 18th Street in New York City, announced Thursday that it would open a second location, on West 84th Street, sometime this summer.

According to the store’s founder and owner, Peter Glassman, the 18th Street store’s lease will expire at the end of 2019. “Given the rise in retail rents along 18th Street, I am not optimistic about our ability to renew the lease,” he said. Though he said he planned to seek a new location in that area, the impending uncertainty was part of his decision to open another branch on the Upper West Side.

“I wanted to make sure we had another location open and well established before the current store’s lease expires, so if we have difficulty finding a new location and have to close for a few months we would have another location to serve our customers, not be out of business for any period of time, and not have to lay off my wonderful staff,” he said.

Andrew Porter adds,

When they opened, originally on Hudson Street in the lower Village, they were primarily an SF/fantasy-oriented store. They took out full-page ads in my Algol/Starship, then in SF Chronicle. The store regularly has readings and signings by SF/F YA and children’s authors, for example, with Sarah Beth Durst. It has also published numerous books by and about L. Frank Baum.


Peter Glassman. Photo by Andrew Porter:

Sarah Beth Durst and Bruce Coville at her signing in 2015. Photo by Andrew Porter.

(13) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. This just in from the Australian National Convention.

(14) DEADPOOL’S NEXT RAMPAGE. Marvel pulls back the shroud, er, curtain.

If you’re Deadpool and you kill the entire Marvel Universe, why not eat some chimichangas…and then kill all over again? Proving there’s nothing like revenge, the superstar team of Cullen Bunn (X-Men Blue, Venomverse) and Dalibor Talajic (Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe, Redwolf) reunite to bring you Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again, and the Merc with the Mouth has never been more ready to return to that katana.

“This is not a sequel to the original story,” warns series writer Cullen Bunn. “This is an all new murderous rampage. The Marvel Universe has changed a great deal since the first series. So, of course, Deadpool had to up his game and change his tactics.”


(15) WONDER MOTHER. Marguerite Bowling, in a Daily Signal piece called “Wonder Woman Can Get the Job Done Pregnant, So Can You” says that Gal Gadot’s reshooting fight scenes while five months pregnant should be an inspiration to women. (The Daily Signal is a news website run by the Heritage Foundation.)

But here’s another fun fact that shows you can proudly be pro-mom and pro-career woman: Israeli actress Gal Gadot was five months pregnant with her second child when she did reshoot scenes for the movie that included a climactic battle scene.

To get around her then-visible baby bump, costumers cut an ample triangle on her iconic suit and replaced it with a bright green cloth that allowed the movie’s special effects team to change her figure post-production.

Given the prevailing negative news that shows women facing all sorts of career challenges by wanting to have a baby, it’s refreshing to see a successful woman embrace her pregnancy and still do an exceptional job.

(16) MIL-SF. Jeffrey C. Wells says “I Can’t Believe it’s not Baen: Rick Shelley’s Lieutenant Colonel” — and throws in a funny bingo card as a bonus.

If you didn’t figure it out from the title, or the cover, Lieutenant Colonel is Military Sci-Fi (Mil-SF for short), a genre devoted to chronicling how and why people are gonna shoot at each other in the future. And, also unsurprisingly, Lieutenant Colonel is the fifth book in Shelley’s “DMC” series, with each earlier book having sequential titles like Lieutenant, then Major, then Captain, and so on. Not exactly creative, but what can you do.

In any case, this series centers around a dude named Lon Nolan as he works his way up through the ranks in the Dirigent Mercenary Corps (from which we get the “DMC” acronym). Lon is your typical officer– professional, honorable, and — kind of boring. Dude makes Honor Harrington seem like Hamlet. Wait, no, that’s not a good analogy, ‘cause Harrington gets shit done. But I digress.

…Thankfully, Lieutenant Colonel doesn’t delve into super preachiness. Though it did inspire me to create MIL-SF BINGO! Just print this off next time you read about space-soldiers shooting space-lasers at space-commies, and check off the boxes as you go along!

(17) WIDER SPECTRUM. An Adweek story tells how “Equinox Extends LGBTQA from A to Z With a New Alphabet for Pride Month”.

It’s Pride Month! And every year, around this time, a certain kind of pundit hops on a soapbox to complain about how the term “LGBTQA” just keeps getting longer, and isn’t that just ludicrous?

Actually, it isn’t. In fact, it’s not nearly long enough. And a campaign from Wieden + Kennedy New York highlights why.

For Equinox and the LGBTQA Community Center, the agency has produced “The LGBTQAlphabet,” whose chill and choreographed film goes down the list of not six letters but 26. The goal is to show that a handful of labels isn’t remotely sufficient to encompass the complex identities of the world’s 7 billion people.

(18) SHARKES KEEP NIBBLING. Here are more recent reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury, and a guest post by the actual Clarke Award director.

This is the future we were promised. This is what all those science fiction novels from way back told us to expect: silver-finned rocket ships taking us out to the frontier towns of Mars and beyond; clanking metal robots wanting to be human; people transformed into something monstrous by whatever is out there.

And Tidhar, whose work has always displayed an over-fond preference for intertextual references to other science fictions, makes absolutely certain we recognise that these are other writers’ futures. The digital vampire is called a Shambleau, a pointed reference to the first of C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith adventures. There are repeated references to someone called Glimmung on Mars, which of course recalls Philip K. Dick’s children’s novel, Nick and the Glimmung, which is, of course, set on Mars. And the presiding spirit that dominates the whole novel is probably Cordwainer Smith, with the way space is repeatedly described as the “Up and Out”, as well as casual references to C’Mell and Mother Hitton. There are more, some less familiar than others; I’m pretty sure that there are references to Edward Whittemore’s little-known but brilliant Jerusalem Quartet scattered throughout this novel. Someday, I suspect, someone might produce a concordance for Central Station, teasing out all of the echoes of and references to other works of science fiction. It will be a thick volume.

Of course, no one has gone broke by playing to the geeky self-regard of the science fiction fan. In recent years, self-referential science fiction books, novels like Among Others by Jo Walton that deliberately draw attention to other science fiction works, have proved especially popular.

If not for my commitment to the Sharke process I wouldn’t have chosen to write about Occupy Me; it’s unlikely that I would have finished reading it at all. My immediate response was akin to a toddler presented with something green and fresh and healthy: stampy feet; scowly face; a protesting shriek of ‘I don’t like it!’. I bounced off the book hard and repeatedly, and continued to do so despite dosing myself with Gareth’s blazingly positive review and Nina and Paul’s balanced perspectives at the midway point. Whatever the book’s thematic qualities, whatever its madcap quirks — and often because of them — I couldn’t stomach it. I find it impossible to see or be fair to the better parts of the novel because I’m painfully fixated on the fundamental ways in which it fails for me. Under usual circumstances I would think it ill-advised to throw a hat into the critical ring when I have so little critical perspective to share but I will try to explain.

While the Clarke Award can never guarantee having every potentially eligible book submitted, we are able to offer a reasonably comprehensive ‘state of the nation’ snap shot via our lists, not only of the books themselves but also for deeper analysis into the numbers of submitting publishers, the demographic breakdowns of authors and similar should people want to take those numbers and run with them.

More immediately, after my first couple of spins in the director’s chair I was starting to learn all of the ongoing debates, criticisms and wishes that surrounded the award’s announcements every year.

The award was, in no particular order, overly predictable, willfully unpredictable as a tactic to generate PR controversy, trying too hard to be the Booker, ignoring the heartlands of SF, full of wrongheads (a lovely fannish term that one), and so on and so on — Business as usual for a book award in other words.

(19) DRINK IT OR ELSE. Atlas Obscura recalls a series of 1950s commercials for Wilkins Coffee that featured violent Muppets prototypes.

In the ads, Wilkins — who bears a striking resemblance to Kermit the Frog — tries to convince another proto-Muppet, Wontkins to drink Wilkins Coffee. Wontkins almost always refuses. In retaliation, Wilkins shoots him, stabs him, or otherwise inflicts physical harm upon him.


[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, JJ, John King Tarpinian and Lace for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr, with a little help from his friends.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/10/17 The Scrollish Pixelman’s Union

  1. Filers!

    An archaeological expedition into the wilds of my garage has yielded ancient fannish treasures, which could be YOURS!

    Copies of the newszine from Worldcons Chicago 1982 (The Daley Planet) and LA 1984 (Thought Police Gazette).

    Edited by OGH himself, featuring such things as Masquerade results, Hogu winners, Hugo winners (Mike, Jerry’s chocolate Hugo). TAFF/DUFF campaigns, what to name the WisCon moose mascot (do they still use it?), all on colorful paper and typed on electronic typewriters!

    Mike says he has ’em all, so if anyone wants some old-school fannish records, let me know. Don’t know what archives LASFS or WSFS has or wants.

    Stuff not claimed soon gets recycled.

    (Mike, if you want to put this up as an item, go ahead)

  2. (2) Plastic-eating bacteria? Already done. I remember the first episode of the BBC TV series “Doomwatch” in which an airliner crashes as all its plasic bits melt away into goo. This was from 9 February 1970 and called “The Plastic Eaters”. The writers, Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, went on to turn it into a novel later (1971, Mutant 59 The Plastic Eater).

    Also, didn’t something similar happen in “The Andromeda Strain”, when the alien bug evolved into something that turned rubber into dust?

  3. Mark on June 11, 2017 at 1:20 am said:


    Who knew that she actually played all the roles in Coneheads, and is still playing Dan Ackroyd to this day?

    Canadians are so versatile.

  4. (16) MIL-SF

    Just started rereading Ninefox Gambit (sequel out this week yay!) and I’d forgotten that it gets a bingo on “swordfights for some reason” in the first chapter! Admittedly they’re weird mathematical metaphorical swords, but still.
    It actually gets quite a lot of those bingo squares, it’s just they tend to be subverted or downright odd. I’d give it “Space Nazis” (for the ‘good’ guys), “shifty intelligence officer” (especially if you’ve read the backstory shorts), and “hard [wo]men making hard decisions” for sure.

  5. There are also stories where it doesn’t, but how many can you think of where the characters have to deal with an infestation?

    ‘Odds’ by Christopher Anvil is the one that springs to my mind.

  6. The Secret Policeman’s Other Scroll

    By the way, this is something like Week 7 of not getting update notifications on anything, despite checking the box every time, and my system is the same one on which it all worked for months and months. Sounds like I’m the only one.

  7. I’m up-to-date on File 770! This won’t last.

    (5) ROSARIUM OPENS ANTHOLOGY. The cover’s kinda interesting, but some elements feel a little too Photoshopped-onto-other-elements. A little smoother integration of the parts and I’d say the cover was very cool.

    (13) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. LOL but shouldn’t there be a lot more headstones for Sean Bean?!

    (15) WONDER MOTHER. I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense to compare Gal Gadot to a typical human woman facing career challenges due to pregnancy. 😛 (Thing #36 that I like about where I work – we have both maternity leave and paternity leave, both generous methinks, though I don’t know the details off-hand.)

    (16) MIL-SF. Heh, great MilSF bingo card! I like his reviews; another review blog to read, at least for a while. 🙂

    (17) WIDER SPECTRUM. Interesting interpretive dance and a nice Pride-related video, though of course, whatever random letters are hip this week aren’t intended to cover all 7+ billion people on the planet. I’m slightly surprised – despite using A for Ally – they didn’t try to work in something for Asexual under another letter.

  8. 16) At first I assumed that if it’s not Baen it’s indie, since the military SF and space opera subcategories at Amazon look as if Baen’s slushpile came to life and took over the store. However, Google reveals that Rick Shelley died in 2001, so that blows the indie theory out of the water. Love the bingo card BTW. So accurate.

  9. the continued decline in urban life around the world.

    And yet for some reason people keep migrating to them in sufficient numbers that the majority of the human race lives in cities. It’s almost like even bad cities are better than the alternative.

  10. @ 17–my husband makes a yummy bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with a slice of Gouda cheese. That’s right–a GBLT.

  11. The central message of those Wilkins Coffee commercials is that someone would rather choose death than a cup of it. That’s an odd way to sell a product.

    Seeing the ads in succession made me develop an admiration for Wontkins, just like the Mac Guy vs. PC Guy ads made Microsoft a little lovable as that smug Apple hipster kept throwing shade.

    Wilkins and Wontkins were a lot like Itchy and Scratchy.

  12. 14) the examples cited seem more concerned with growing income inequality than with city life problems.

  13. (16) W.E.B. Griffen wrote a very good series following a group of officers from the tail end of WWII through to Vietnam where each volume was titled with the rank most of the viewpoint characters were at; The Lieutenants, The Captains . . . all the way through The Generals. There were three exceptions, The Berets, The Aviators, and The New Breed.

    As a fledgling writer trying my hand at Mil-SF (write what you know, they say) I’ve printed out the bingo card and will post it by my computer. One square has already led me to reevaluate one of my states. But no swords. Except as a useless part of dress uniforms.

  14. @rcade

    The central message of those Wilkins Coffee commercials is that someone would rather choose death than a cup of it. That’s an odd way to sell a product.

    Seeing the ads in succession made me develop an admiration for Wontkins, just like the Mac Guy vs. PC Guy ads made Microsoft a little lovable as that smug Apple hipster kept throwing shade.

    Wilkins and Wontkins were a lot like Itchy and Scratchy.

    Some ads really seem to be designed to put you off the product they’re selling. The most notable example I know are ads for another coffee brand, Jacobs coffee. In the 1970s and 1980s, they ran an ad campaign featuring a hapless brunette housewife whose husband constantly berated her, because her coffee tasted bad. Enter the neigbour lady Frau Sommer, blonde, angelic and perfect. Frau Sommer handed the hapless housewife a packet of Jacobs Krönung coffee and promptly the dreadful husband was happy. The ads were sexist and just plain awful. Here is one example and here is another.

    As a kid, I hated Frau Sommer, just hated her. I hoped that the brunette housewife would finally kick out her husband and that she would drown Frau Sommer in a pot of her own perfect Jacobs Krönung coffee. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Plenty of Germans who grew up with those ads hate Frau Sommer and everything she stands for. Thirty to forty years later, I still don’t buy Jacobs coffee and tend to avoid the brand (and since the HQ is in my hometown, Jacobs is everywhere). For years, I assumed the Frau Sommer ads were just an incredibly ill conceived ad campaign and that they had no idea that they were making people dislike their brand. Then someone who works in Jacobs marketing and advertising department told me that the Frau Sommer ads were intentionally designed, because they did not want their brand to have a nice image. Well, it worked since I have steadfastly refused to buy their coffee for decades.

    Now I want to introduce Wilkins, the murderous proto-Kermit, to the perpetually perky Frau Sommer.

  15. @Cora, in the US, we also had a Frau Sommer, only she was this kindly old lady named Mrs. Olson, and she was pushing Folgers. I don’t drink coffee, but I didn’t care for Mrs. Olson either. I had never thought about this before, but if the husband hates the coffee the poor young wife is brewing because it tastes bad, why doesn’t she recognize that it tastes bad too, and switch brands until they find one they both like?

    It also reminds me of the recently discontinued American laundry detergent Wisk, which for most of the 60s and 70s had a campaign of “ring around the collar”, where someone would tell some man that his dress shirts had a ring around the collar (of dirt or grime), and then he would look at his wife and she would just wither in shame. The solution was to pretreat the collars with Wisk, a liquid detergent back when nearly all laundry detergents were powder, before washing. I found that commercial series so appalling, I’ve never bought their product even though it’s been decades since they had discontinued the advertising campaign.

    (2) Wasn’t Ringworld missing room temperature superconductors because a microbe had eaten it? I can’t remember where, but I vaguely recall a scene where there is something non-functioning and they replace the missing superconductor with a superconducting fabric they brought with them from Known Space.

    (16) I’m not volunteering at this time to fill in the blanks, but a proper bingo card should have 8 more squares plus a free space in the middle. I guess I’ll start by suggestng “laconic hyper-competent non-com officer”

    For the people who don’t see the ability to edit their posts for a few minutes after posting, I’m wondering if they have javascript blockers turned on. I have the noscript extension and I think I need to enable scripts from wp.com in order to edit it after posting.

  16. John Elliott says : There are also stories where it doesn’t, but how many can you think of where the characters have to deal with an infestation?

    Does the Puppeteer caused infection of the room temperature superconductor on Ringworld count?

  17. @rea: “That’s right-a GBLT.” ::groan::

    (19) DRINK IT OR ELSE. I finally watched these; very silly and over-the-top slapstick (with proto-Muppets!). The only one that bugged me a little was the casual joke about the death penalty. I’m very anti-death penalty, so it seemed tasteless in a way the others weren’t.

    @Cora & @Bruce A: In addition to helpful, German-accented Mrs. Olsen from Folgiers (iconic in her day), Cora’s Frau Sommer reminds me of the “he never has a second cup at home!” ads for Yuban coffee. They were such a thing, it was parodied in “Airplane!”.

  18. Bruce A:

    (2) Wasn’t Ringworld missing room temperature superconductors because a microbe had eaten it? I can’t remember where, but I vaguely recall a scene where there is something non-functioning and they replace the missing superconductor with a superconducting fabric they brought with them from Known Space.

    Yep. That happens in Ringworld Engineers, though as Cat mentions, though originally believed to be a natural infestation, it turns out the Puppeteers caused it.


    It takes a heap of Fifthing, to make a Pixel a Scroll.

  19. (15) It’s too bad that the author of this piece uses Gal Gadot as an excuse to berate women for not having enough children.

    In addition to posing risks to the general economy, a declining fertility rate poses risks to our military, entitlement state, and even the growth and vitality of houses of worship and community health centers.

    (With this being the Heritage Foundation, of course, the subtext is that white women aren’t having enough children.)

    Saw the movie yesterday, by the way. Effing fantastic. Yes, the final showdown was way over the top with dodgy CGI, but No Man’s Land had me looking at the screen through tears.

  20. @Mark-kitteh: There’s also a Sun Tzu quote, and actual swear words.

    The bingo card could use at least one more column or row, to get the free space in the middle. But it’s great as-is. It’s Space Bingo. Bingo in Spaaaaaaace!

    Coffee ads: Mrs. Olsen always made me wonder why people didn’t lock their doors so that overcaffeinated pushy old bats couldn’t bust into your house and shame/force you to drink their brand. Nowadays you’d get a restraining order. She must’ve been related to Frau Sommer. Probably sisters, one of whom emigrated to hassle Americans. Murderous Muppets would be an improvement.

    The 70’s: German women VILL make you drink coffee, und you VILL like it!

    Neither Mom nor I ever bought Wisk b/c of their advertising. Dad and hubby have had their ring around the collar needs met by other products. That’s two generations put off; no wonder they’re out of business. If I’d had kids, we’d be up to three, and no child of mine would use it either, even without seeing the ads. Mom and I also used to shout at the commercial husbands “Try washing your filthy neck more often, you slob!”

    I’m using NoScript for Chrome, but I’m able to edit for the blessed 5 minutes. I do have to do a reload sometimes.

    (6) Yes, this is why cities are shrinking in population and rural areas are booming. Oh wait. Strike that, reverse it. Cities have little to do with income inequality thanks to unrestrained global capitalism, except insofar as the 1% and bankers live in them.

    Along with the stuff by OGH, I found some program books from a very small Colorado Springs convention hight KingKon. Programming featured some local-ish up and coming writers Connie Willis, Ed Bryant (RIP), and, not as a GoH but just an afterthought to them, a guy name of GRR Martin. Can you imagine a tiny meeting room at a Holiday Inn being sufficient for an audience for a panel that had Connie AND George? Connie had a Hugo and a Nebula by then; GRRM had a Campbell and maybe a Hugo; they were the New Next Big Thing.

  21. @Stuart Gale: “The Plastic Eaters” popped into my head as well, and if you look at the original linked post you’ll see that several people immediately commented with the exact same thing.

  22. @lurkertype: “Mom and I also used to shout at the commercial husbands ‘Try washing your filthy neck more often, you slob!'” – Oh sure, make it the man’s fault! 😛

    I always wondered why only the collar got so dirty that conventional products couldn’t handle it!

  23. 2. I’m guessing HEX doesn’t count, since there the computer is the ants’ nest?

  24. Bruce A: (2) Wasn’t Ringworld missing room temperature superconductors because a microbe had eaten it? I can’t remember where, but I vaguely recall a scene where there is something non-functioning and they replace the missing superconductor with a superconducting fabric they brought with them from Known Space.

    Some cruel reviewer, oh I think it was me, was sceptical about the repair operations whereby complex appliances were restored to life by patching in superconductor links between the terminals conveniently placed on their outsides.

  25. 2) Then there is William Tenn’s Of Men and Monsters, where the characters are the infestation.

    Or Greg Bear’s Blood Music

  26. I seem to remember a story in Analog about someone who develops bacteria that can eat oil spills, and they get loose and eat petroleum products, including asphalt paving.

  27. A story I read some years back had a mad scientist make houses that grew from seeds, and in a fit of rage, for some reason or other that I no longer remember, released a phage that ate gasoline and metal. Iron certainly; don’t recall if it ate other metals too. I think the gasoline-eater may have gone on to eat plastics as well but I don’t remember. Can’t recall the author; my suspension-of-disbelief failed and I don’t think I finished it.

  28. There was a John Sladek story in which bacteria were genetically engineered to eat plastics and other such… and the bacteria chosen were human gut bacteria, which meant that people could digest these things. “Fifteen Utopias”, I think was the title. (Ends with a family meal in a junkyard, with the husband picking up a carving knife and offering his wife a choice of white sidewall or dark.)

  29. The more I think about 2, the more I think one person’s “why do we never see this?” is another person’s overused trope. Consider just one type of infestation: mold. Off the top of my head, there is the attack of the slime mold in Old Man’s War, and the psychoactive mold In Rudy Rucker’s “ware” series that gave rise to moldies. But I have this sense of having read dozens of scenes in speculative fiction where mold is used not just to set a creepy tone, but to generate a threat. Scruffy, lived-in futures are not in short supply.

  30. John Elliott says : There are also stories where it doesn’t, but how many can you think of where the characters have to deal with an infestation?

    Captain Janeway: “Take this cheese to sickbay!”

  31. 2) Recent examples: John Varley’s Slow Apocalypse is kicked of by oil-eating bacteria, and John Barnes’ even more comprehensively disastrous Daybreak sequence (Directive 51 and sequels) starts with something similar and then mixes in other civilization-killing mechanisms.

  32. Bacterial crud was a major cause of long-term starship maintenance problems in KSR’s Aurora. IIRC, it wasn’t so much that the bacteria had evolved to eat the hardware in any dramatic way, more that just having internal surfaces accumulate organic crud over hundreds of years is generally a bad thing and they had underestimated how hard it would be to keep such a large structure clean.

  33. @Bruce A: permit me to add “ridiculously obsolete tech included unnecessarily” (i.e., you don’t need those details for the plot).

    @Bonnie McDaniel: when I saw the article was published by HF, the disconnect (in the quoted sections) between Gadot’s experience and the extrapolation from it made a lot more sense — and I didn’t bother clicking through. Thank you for affirming that choice.

    @Kendall: I always wondered why only the collar got so dirty that conventional products couldn’t handle it! I had this problem when I was still wearing collared shirts; it’s possible the collar traps head sweat and hair oils (natural and applied — remember the dates of these commercials). Didn’t use Wisk, just rubbed bar soap on the collars a few minutes before. (Unless Wisk was very weak, I’d expect repeated use directly on cloth to erode it.)

  34. (Unless Wisk was very weak, I’d expect repeated use directly on cloth to erode it.)
    IIRC, you put a little on the collar and rubbed it like you would do with bar soap. (That was before “Spray’n’Wash”, which was intended for that kind of use, but still can be hard on some fabrics.)

  35. The Wisk collar thing was their marketers’ attempt to define a niche need for the product in the hope that consumers would believe only Wisk was capable of filling it. But of course, any comparable laundry detergent used to spot-clean dirty collars in this way would have performed comparably to Wisk.

    When Spray ‘n Wash and similar products were introduced, Wisk lost whatever market advantage it might have had — and at that point, the perception of being a specialty detergent rather than one of numerous general laundry detergents probably did the product’s sales more harm than good.

  36. James Davis Nicoll, on reading the summary, yes, that’s it. I’m usually very good at remembering authors and titles; the fact that I didn’t waste the neurons remembering the title or author of this one speaks volumes….

  37. Kliban: “Scott laughed hard when Wanda brought home the contaminated cheese.”

    I did a cartoon that I used as an apa cover, of a sadistic executioner telling an aristocrat kneeling at Mme Guilloutine, “Ring around ze collair!”

    Crazy Ants are a ripe resource for writers, waiting to be tapped. They have this way of stuffing themselves into a transformer until it blows. I was glad to be out of Houston when I first saw them on TV.

  38. @lurkertype
    The patronising, coffee-dispensing Mrs. Olsen is definitely related to the equally patronising and coffee-dispensing Frau Sommer. They both have the same pushy personality and perfectly permed blonde hair. Mrs. Olsen is older, so I’d say she’s Frau Sommer’s aunt who emigrated to the US.

    Though considering that American coffee used to have a bad reputation among Germans as “flower coffee” (i.e. coffee so weak and watery you can see the flower pattern of the cup through the coffee) throughout the 1980s, I imagine a meeting between Frau Sommer and her long lost American relative Mrs. Olsen would have resulted in Frau Sommer pushing Jacobs Krönung on an outraged Mrs. Olsen.

    Regarding both the Mrs. Olsen ads and the second cup of coffee ads, it’s notable that the husbands in those sexist vintage ads still aren’t as awful as the husbands in the Frau Sommer ads. The US husbands at least try to find excuses why they don’t drink the coffee, whereas the German husband bluntly tells his wife, “I don’t like your coffee. I’d rather drink coffee at the office”, which is just the epitome of rudeness.

    My Mom hated the Frau Sommer ads as much as I do and she never bought Jacobs coffee either. And unlike me, she was the target audience for those ads. So that’s two generations put off Jacobs coffee forever. And Jacobs is kind of hard to avoid here, since they’re headquartered in my hometown and therefore pretty much omnipresent. Coincidentally, even the actress who played Frau Sommer, the delightfully named Xenia Katzenstein, hated the character and sort of apologised for the ads later on.

    I once wrote a short story where the victim of Frau Sommer’s patronising coffee handouts finds out that Frau Sommer is having an affair with her husband and dumps rat poison into Frau Sommer’s prized packet of Jacobs Krönung. Frau Sommer and the cheating husband enjoy a post-coital cup of poison-laced coffee and promptly die. The police rules it a murder/suicide instigated by Frau Sommer, while the newly widowed wife lives happily ever after. Yes, I really hated Frau Sommer.

    Regarding the liquid detergent for shirt collars, I do recall seeing a similar product advertised in Germany sometime in the 1980s, though I don’t recall that the ads were that aggressively sexist.

    Yes, the electric chair ad felt seriously out of place and tasteless compared to the humorous mayhem of the other Wilkins coffee ads. Yes, the Muppets often made jokes that went right over my head as a kid and have my adult self boggling, “Did they honestly just say that? On TV? In kids’ show?” (completely inappropriate songs sung by guest stars, masturbation jokes, the Stonewall riots reenacted to the tunes of “Macho Macho Man”, Miss Piggy turning the tables on Link in a “Cold Equations” retelling) but that electric chair gag still isn’t something even the most homicidal Muppet would have pulled.

  39. According to Wikipedia, Folger’s started the Mrs. Olson campaign in 1965, a decade before Frau Sommer in Jacobs Krönung commercials. I think the Folgers commercials were not meant to have Mrs. Olson be considered obnoxious, just Swedish.

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