Pixel Scroll 7/12/19 Pixel Less, Scroll More

(1) CELEBRATING “BLOB FEST” THIS WEEKEND. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] This weekend, fans from all over the world will converge upon The Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to commemorate the arrival upon our planet of a gelatinous intruder whose ravenous appetite inspired the birth of girth, and shamed The Cookie Monster into both seclusion and retirement. The historic theater, itself a performer in the classic Paramount release, plays host each Summer to “Blob Fest,” and will be the preferred destination for all self-respecting horror fans from Friday to Sunday, July 12th, 13th, and 14th.

Some years ago, I was invited by my beloved friend, Wes Shank, to his home to meet his nefarious tenant. Wes left us, sadly, a year ago … but his protege continues to mystify, charm, and entertain millions of adoring fans.

What follows is the link to a hopefully entertaining chronicle of one of my less successful show business associations…with one of filmdom’s “largest” screen personalities, and a creature that only Jenny Craig could love. Celebrating the sixty first anniversary of “The Blob.” — “How I Met… The Blob” at The Thunderchild.

(2) “HIGHLY CLASSIFIED” TV COMMERCIAL. Ad Astra comes to theaters September 20.

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.

(3) THE MAD MEN WHO SOLD THE MOON. FastCompany lines up “The best and worst ads that celebrated the Apollo 11 Moon landing”:

…The most interesting ad on July 21, 1969, came from Brillo steel-wool scrubbing pads. Brillo offered Times readers a poster-size color map of the Moon, from Rand McNally. The ad was a striking one-third of a page, showing the Moon, with a coupon. It was a typical late sixties promotion: Fill in your address and mail the coupon, with two “proofs of purchase” clipped from boxes of Brillo pads to get that map. “This map is only available from Brillo,” the ad touted. “Let Brillo send you the Moon. Free.”

Brillo, to be clear, had no connection to the Moon landings.

The advertising blossomed on the day after Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong successfully and safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. On that day, in fact, the ratio of news coverage to advertising in the New York Times completely reversed.

The paper itself was 88 pages that Friday, July 25, 1969. It contained 15 full-page ads about Apollo, and another half-dozen ads that were a half-page or bigger. In all, there were more than 22 pages of advertisements about the Moon landings. The coverage itself that day was only six pages.

(4) PREPPING FOR DUBLIN. The third in Anne-Louise Fortune’s series “What is Worldcon” aims to enlighten the YouTube generation. “Three Essential Elements” covers the business meeting and site selection, among other things.

(5) I AM NO MAN. Nicole Rudick reviews The Future Is Female anthology in “A Universe of One’s Own” at The New York Review of Books.

“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.” This was the challenge the influential science-fiction editor John Campbell famously issued his authors in the 1940s. It was aimed at producing aliens as fully formed as the interstellar human travelers who encounter them. Isaac Asimov thought the best example was a creature named Tweel from Stanley Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey,” a story from 1934 that preceded the dictum. But the instruction also has the feel of a riddle, and neither Campbell nor Asimov considered its most obvious answer: a woman.

Three years before Weinbaum’s Martian adventure, Leslie F. Stone published “The Conquest of Gola” in the April 1931 issue of the science-fiction pulp magazine Wonder Stories. This was not Stone’s first published story, but it became her best known. Gola is a planet ruled by a gentle civilization of telepathic nonhumanoid females with movable eyes and sensory functions available on all parts of their round, golden-fur-covered bodies. The males of the planet are docile pleasure-consorts. Into this edenic world plunges a cadre of Earth men who desire “exploration and exploitation.” The queen rejects their plea for trade and tourism. She isn’t just dismissive of what she feels are the Earthlings’ barbarian mentality and low-grade intelligence; she simply can’t be bothered to take them seriously. “To think of mere man-things daring to attempt to force themselves upon us,” she says. “What is the universe coming to?” Rebuffed, the Earth men launch a full invasion; the Golans (who narrate the tale) obliterate them. End of story. A case study in thinking better than men but not like men.

“The Conquest of Gola” is one of the twenty-five SF tales written by women that are collected in the enjoyable new anthology The Future Is Female, edited by Lisa Yaszek…

(6) BEGGING THE QUESTION. BookRiot thinks readers should already know the answer: “So You Want To Bring Back Dystopian YA? Well, Here’s Why It Never Left”.

With the announcement of a prequel to Suzanne Collins’s popular young adult trilogy The Hunger Games, there has been a wealth of discourse on why it’s finally time to bring back dystopian YA. It’s a trend that dominated both the YA scene and the box office in the early 2010s, with the success of The Hunger Games seeing major film production companies competing in a fierce battle for the next big blockbuster hit.

…But what about the books? Is Suzanne Collins bringing back dystopian YA? Is the trend finally rising from the ashes, allowing us all to relive our best 2012 selves? Well, you can’t bring back something that never really left.

Despite the apparent decline of dystopian YA movies in Hollywood, a steady stream of young adult novels in recent years has kept the genre afloat for teens who still wanted to consume these stories outside of the adaptations.

Some of the most popular series, like An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, both written by authors of colour, were first published during the dystopian craze of the early 2010s, and subsequent books continue to be published without the marketing push that saw the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent driven to success.

(7) FLAME OUT. At a Warner Bros. studio in the UK, fire claimed a set used in numerous genre productions: “Warner Bros Studios fire: Crews tackle blaze for 15 hours”.

Crews were called to the site in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, at 23:29 BST on Wednesday.

The fire service said the set involved was not being used at the time and there had been no reported injuries.

All eight Harry Potter films as well as other movies including James Bond, Fast and Furious and the Mission Impossible franchises have filmed at the studios.

The fire service confirmed shortly before 15:00 on Thursday the fire was out, although some crews remain at the scene.

A spokesman for Warner Bros said the fire had occurred on a sound stage being used for the television production Avenue 5, but all productions were able to continue working.

Avenue 5 is an HBO space tourism comedy by The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

July 12, 1969  — [Item by Steve Green.] Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek‘s debut on British television, where it occupied the Saturday afternoon slot on BBC1 traditionally occupied by Doctor Who. Unlike NBC and its US affiliates, the BBC opened with ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’, the second pilot and the first to feature William Shatner as James T Kirk. As one of those captivated viewers, this means July 12, 2019 is also the fiftieth anniversary of my becoming a Star Trek fan.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 12, 1895 Buckminster Fuller. Genre adjacent and I don’t believe that he actually wrote any SF though one could argue that Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, A Cosmic Fairy Tale is sort of genre. You will find his terminology used frequently in genre fiction. (Died 1983.)
  • Born July 12, 1912 Joseph Mugnaini. An Italian born artist and illustrator. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Ray Bradbury, beginning in 1952. Through an amazing piece of serendipity, there’s an interview with him talking about working with Bradbury which you can listen to here. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 12, 1923 James E. Gunn, 96. H’h, what have I read by him? Well there’s The Joy Makers and Future Imperfect, not to mention The Magicians. I’m sure there’s more but those are the ones I fondly remember. Which ones do you recall reading? 
  • Born July 12, 1933 Donald E. Westlake. No, I didn’t know he did genre but ISFDB says he, hence this Birthday note. Transylvania Station by him and wife is based on Mohonk Mountain House-sponsored vampire hunting mystery role-playing weekend. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 12, 1945 James D. Allan, 74. A rather prolific writer and author on the subject of Tolkien linguistics. He is primarily known for his book, An Introduction to Elvish. His most recent contribution to the field is “Gandalf and the Merlin of the Arthurian Romances”, published in Tolkien Society’s Amon Hen number 251. 
  • Born July 12, 1946 Charles R. Saunders,73. African-American author and journalist currently living in Canada, much of his fiction is set in the fictional continent Nyumbani (which means “home” in Swahili). His main series is is the Imaro novels which he claims are the first sword and sorcery series by a black writer.
  • Born July 12, 1970 Phil Jimenez, 49. Comics illustrator and writer. He was the main artist of Infinite Crisis, a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. He also did the awesome first issue of Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World, and was responsible for the first six issues of Fables spin-off, Fairest.
  • Born July 12, 1976 Anna Friel, 43. Her best remembered genre role is as played Charlotte “Chuck” Charles on Pushing Daisies, but she’s been Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Elizabeth Bonny in Neverland, not to mention Lady Claire in Timeline, an SF virtually no one has heard of. 
  • Born July 12, 1976 Gwenda Bond,  43. Her Blackwood novel won a Locus Award for Best First Novel. (Strange Alchemy is the sequel.) She written three novels featuring DC character Lois Lane, and her Cirque American series with its magic realism looks interesting. She also wrote the “Dear Aunt Gwenda” column in the Lady Churchill’s Robot* Wristlet chapbooks that Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link did for awhile over at Small Beer Press. 

(10) RESISTANCE ON HOLD. Hugo Martin, in “Disneyland delays 2nd ride at Star Wars land” at the LA Times, says “Rise of the Resistance will open Jan. 17 instead of this year.”

The Anaheim theme park had previously said the Rise of the Resistance ride would launch this year.

The ride is designed to put parkgoers in the middle of a fierce battle between resistance fighters and the evil forces of the First Order. An identical ride will open in December at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge , the largest expansion in the park’s history, opened May 31 with only one ride in operation, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run…

Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney Co., had previously promised Disney fans that Rise of the Resistance would open in 2019.

Instead, Disney said on its website Thursday that the much-anticipated Rise of the Resistance will open first at the Florida park before the Christmas holiday vacation and then at Disneyland in January, when families will have returned to work and school after the winter break.

Disney’s website suggested that the California attraction would open later than the one in Florida because Disney engineers and ride developers can open only one ride at a time…

(11) JAPAN SCORES TOUCHDOWN. “Hayabusa-2: Japanese spacecraft makes final touchdown on asteroid” – BBC has the story.

A Japanese spacecraft has touched down on a faraway asteroid, where it will collect space rock that may hold clues to how the Solar System evolved.

The successful contact with the Ryugu asteroid was met with relief and cheering in the control room at Japan’s space agency, JAXA.

It is the second touchdown for the robotic Hayabusa-2 craft, which grabbed rocks from the asteroid in February….

(12) TRUE ACCOUNTABILITY. Somebody had to say it.

(13) TEA OR TOR. Bonnie McDaniel takes her turn at reviewing the lot: “Hugo Reading 2019: Best Novella”.

The novella (17,500-40,000 words) has had something of a resurgence in recent years, mainly due to Tor’s excellent novella line. (I know the ones I’ve bought are taking up nearly a full shelf in one of my bookcases.) This time around, five of the six nominees are from Tor; the only exception (Aliette de Bodard’s The Tea Master and the Detective) was published by Subterranean, a niche publisher that puts out lovely limited collectible editions. (Which also take up a not-inconsiderable amount of my own shelf space.) For a lot of stories, the novella is the perfect length, and I’m glad to see its growing popularity.

(14) AREA CODE. CNN reports “Thousands of people have taken a Facebook pledge to storm Area 51 to ‘see them aliens'”.

Stretch those quads and prep that tinfoil hat!

Over 300,000 people have signed on to a Facebook event pledging to raid Area 51 in Nevada in a quest to “see them aliens.”

The event, titled “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” is inviting users from around the world to join a “Naruto run” — a Japanese manga-inspired running style featuring arms outstretched backwards and heads forward — into the area.

“We can move faster than their bullets,” the event page, which is clearly written with tongue in cheek, promises those who RSVP for September 20.

(15) INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY. It only takes one.

(16) CRAWL VARMINT, CRAWL ON YOUR BELLY LIKE A REPTILE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is this movie—about oversized alligators terrorizing people trapped in a crawlspace during a massive storm—genre? Well, it is horror of a sort, perhaps only one or two steps removed from movies about shark-filled tornadoes.

Having seen a TV advert for Crawl, I absolutely knew I would never want to go see the movie in a  theater (though YMMV). On the other hand, the review itself is a hoot: The Hollywood Reporter: “’Crawl’: Film Review”

No sensible person goes to see a movie about killer alligators and then complains that it was silly and over the top. So it’s puzzling that Paramount would refuse to hold critics’ screenings for Alexandre Aja’s Crawl, a film that, despite some ludicrous action scenes and risible dialogue, might well have been helped more than harmed, on the whole, by reviews. After all, not every Snakes on a Flesh-Eating Sharknado delivers on its schlocky promises, and savvy consumers like to be told they won’t get burned this time. Consider this a measured endorsement for the kind of action-packed B picture where Serbia stands in for coastal Florida, and nobody notices, and they wouldn’t care if they did.

(17) KEEPING UP WITH THE PHILISTINES. In Science Advances, “Ancient DNA reveals the roots of the Biblical Philistines”. “The Philistines appear repeatedly in the Bible, but their origins have long been mysterious. Now genetic evidence suggests that this ancient people trace some of their ancestry west all the way to Europe.”

The ancient Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon, identified as “Philistine” during the Iron Age, underwent a marked cultural change between the Late Bronze and the early Iron Age. It has been long debated whether this change was driven by a substantial movement of people, possibly linked to a larger migration of the so-called “Sea Peoples.” Here, we report genome-wide data of 10 Bronze and Iron Age individuals from Ashkelon. We find that the early Iron Age population was genetically distinct due to a European-related admixture. This genetic signal is no longer detectible in the later Iron Age population. Our results support that a migration event occurred during the Bronze to Iron Age transition in Ashkelon but did not leave a long-lasting genetic signature.

(18) ON STRIKES. For your edification, ScreenRant screens the “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back Pitch Meeting.”

Empire Strikes Back is known not only as one of the best Star Wars movies, but one of the best sequels of all time. Despite it’s amazing reputation it still raises a few questions. Like how did that Wampa freeze Luke’s feet to a cave ceiling? Why was Yoda making him do so many flips? What’s up with the AT-AT strategy on Hoth? Why did Leia kiss Luke? To answer all these questions and more, step inside the pitch meeting that led to The Empire Strikes Back!

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

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/12/19 Pixel Less, Scroll More

  1. (9) I liked Gunn’s short story “The Cave of Night.”

    Westlake wrote the terrific fantasy “Nackles” – and Ellison’s screenplay of that story was so controversial that (as I recall) Ellison left his position at the 1980s version of the Twilight Zone

  2. 14) Can’t stop them all? Meet the M-136 Gatling Gun. The USAF uses them to defend secure facilities, on both ground vehicles and helicopters.

    And do not doubt for a second that the security forces will not hesitate to shoot anyone who breaches that final security line. I was assigned to guard [redacted] while in the Army and were carrying loaded M-16A1s with explicit orders to shoot – with no warning – anyone who crossed the line.

    If anyone shows up for this, they’re utter morons.

  3. @Douglas Berry:

    If anyone shows up for this, they’re utter morons.

    Reminds me of a scene in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when a bunch of people gathered in a similar location with poor results.

  4. By James E. Gunn I remember The Immortals, though I probably remember the tv show sorta based on it, The Immortal, better.

  5. @9: I have no particularly fond memories of Gunn’s fiction, although my reaction to Kampus was rather less WTF than Spider Robinson’s. OTOH, I understand Gunn did a great deal for academic discussion of SF; one can argue that this was not an unalloyed good, but ISTM there have been advantages to more people taking the genre seriously.

    @9bis: Westlake wrote an oddball fantasy, Humans (think of an unsuccessful Good Omens) under his own name; I think I read one of his science fiction novels (his one SF novel? Anarchaos, as by “Curt Clark”) and don’t remember it impressing either. A pity, because a lot of his mundane work was good (mostly it was comedy, but that doesn’t mean it should be undervalued), and “Nackles” was very effective.

  6. (14) Yeah, people need to remember that Area 51 is a highly classified US miliary site that tests advanced and experimental aircraft, and that is why there are so many “UFO sightings” there. That’s also why there’s an equivalent site with similar reports of “UFOs” in Russia, as any aficionado of UFO tv “revelations” will be aware. Probably one in China, too, though I don’t offhand recall.

    I would not suggest rushing Area 51. As Douglas Berry notes, yes, they can kill them all.

  7. Re: Charles Saunders. Chip Delany’s Tales of Neveryon (1978) predates the first book in the Imaro series by a good three years.

  8. Dan’l Danehy-Oakes: The first Imaro book was published in magazine form starting in 1974.

  9. I thought that James Gunn’s recent Transcendental trilogy was absolutely fantastic, and I highly recommend it to fans of hard science fiction with big concepts. (wow, that was the first post I wrote for File 770, and I can’t believe that was more than 3 years ago!)

    Because of that, I hunted down several of his older works. Star Bridge and The Magicians I thought were okay, The Listeners (on which Carl Sagan based Contact) and The Joy-Makers were very good.

    The Joy Machine, a Star Trek tie-in novel he was asked to write using an unproduced episode outline from Theodore Sturgeon, is essentially The Joy-Makers retrofitted to Star Trek (which is, I guess, why he was the one asked to write it).

  10. Dan’l Danehy-Oakes says Re: Charles Saunders. Chip Delany’s Tales of Neveryon (1978) predates the first book in the Imaro series by a good three years.

    I said he claimed it. I didn’t say it was true.

  11. @Douglas Berry

    “…he now understood why the army was organised as it was. It was indeed quite necessary No rational form of organisation would serve the purpose. He simply had not understood that the purpose was to enable men with machine-guns to kill unarmed men and women easily and in great quantities when told to do so. Only he still could not see where courage, or manliness, or fitness entered in.”
    – LeGuin, The Dispossessed

  12. @Hampus: The bulk of that Twitter thread is complaining about the NYTimes coverage of the study, a complaint I vehemently agree with. Reading further in that timeline, I’m not surprised to find Netanyahu inflaming things further.

    It doesn’t then follow that the study itself has no value. I thought the science strong enough to pass on to my genetics study group. I have doubts about the Twitter thread author’s familiarity with ancient DNA studies after he complained about the sample size; getting ten usable samples from 108 ancient individuals is a good rate.

  13. I’m not so keen on the conclusions made in Rudick’s review; Lisa Yaszek is creating a body of work devoted to uncovering women’s history in the genre and I think this volume was intended more as bibliography than explication of the hows and whys of whether female-authored SF/F “never existed” or was “erased”, but as source for future study; I think Rudick is taking it to task for not addressing things it didn’t intend to get into.
    I think she’s off-target and I think this begins with her intro, referencing Campbells “think as good as a man” quote.
    I’m not sure that’s the case though, so I’m asking:
    I believe that regardless of how Campbell used the word “man”, most of us have received it has “human being” over the years; I also think that it’s a stretch to claim that Leslie Stone’s aliens met the Campbellian requirement. The Golan’s thinking seems very human to me…

  14. @ John A. Arkansawyer

    You got me! Guess I never heard that right. I did know that Jimi loved surf music and I thought he was cursing the planet.

    From now on I will apply more rigor to my pixellations. 🙂

  15. July 12 was Tod Browing’s birthday. “One of us! One of us!” And if someone could explain the armadillos in Castle Dracula, I’d appreciate it.

    Listen to them, the Pixels of the Scroll! What files they make!

  16. @Sophie Jane

    As a United States Army Infantryman it was made quite clear on my first day in uniform (indeed, the film and lecture happened about 20 minutes after haircuts and uniform issue) what the laws of war were and the difference between a lawful and unlawful order were. Deliberately shooting an unarmed person – even on a battlefield – was murder. All respect to LeGuin, but her view there is pure BS.

    At the sit I mentioned, we were the literal last line of defense before [redacted]. To get to us, an intruder would have had to scale several fences, avoided patrols, and ignored multiple signs in several languages warning that this was a secure facility and that deadly force would be used. The signs included a graphic showing a person being shot and skulls.

    Groom Lake is the same way. The USAF tolerates the people who sit on public lands and collect radio traffic, that’s legal. People who come up to the fence line are warned off. Intruders tend to be detained and escorted out. But a mob rushing the facility?

    The security force will use deadly force. And the idiots who decide to do this will earn their Darwin Awards.

  17. Rail:

    Problems are the following:
    *) They only use 10 individuals from Ashkelon for test, these individuals spanning over a period of 1000 years!
    *) They note that all of bodies mostly are connected to the local population.
    *) Only in the bodies from the Iron Age do they find similarities to what they weirdly enough call “European-derived” population.
    *) Their idea of “European-derived” means Mediterranean.
    *) There is no comparison whatsoever against neighbouring countries.
    *) There is no control that one body is checked against the corresponding time period for the other geographical regions.

    I.e, the “proof” could as well have shown that people from Greece had traded with a totally different area and that people migrated from there. The only thing it shows is that people around the Mediterranean intermixed. We don’t even know how representative the bodies were

  18. @James Davis Nicoll: A notable story from Galaxy, Blank Form by Arthur Sellings is very clear that “man” meant male human to some of the readers and writers – in this story, a psychologist finds an amnesiac alien with the ability to shape-shift. It’s initially in the form similar to the laborers it found itself among upon arriving at Earth, and the psychologist decides that until it returns to something close to its original form, its amnesia will remain in force, so shape after shape is tried (insect, octopus, tree, etc., etc.). Finally, the breakthrough, when the startling idea occurs to the shrink – perhaps a woman’s form should be tried (because any creature’s female form is more like any others, than the forms of male and females of the same species, I guess). Success!

    Heinlein has plenty of woman characters who don’t give up their careers when they get married (Hazel and Holly are engineers, Dr. Stone is a physician, Sally Logan is a legislator, as are several other women in “Beyond this Horizon” and most of the starship pilots in Starship Troopers are women if I recall correctly). Podkayne is the notable exception – she does apparently give up her ambitions to be a pilot.

  19. My favorite Donald E. Westlake genre piece is a short story called “The RIsk Profession” (Amazing, 1961, and reprinted in several collections including Tomorrow’s Crimes). It’s set among asteroid miners, and the detective is an insurance investigator looking into a suspiciously convenient accidental death. It’s a great little story that survives re-reading very well.

  20. @Hampus: Yes, there were only ten usable Ashkalon samples, grouped 3-4-3, dated 1746-1542 BCE, 1379-1126 BCE, and 1257 to 1042 BCE, so a span from as much as 700 years to possibly as little as 300. Uncertainty in radio-carbon dating means that we’re not likely to pin it down any better. To get those ten, they attempted to retrieve DNA from 108 skeletal elements. This is not unusual in archaeogenetics.

    Given the research question I believe they were trying to answer, that year range is necessary.

    Actually, they did compare the Ashkalon samples with the neighboring countries. The full dataset used for comparison is more than 600 ancient individuals. Looking at the population groups listed in the charts, they included samples from Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Spain, and other European nations along that general swath, though most of the samples are from Anatolia, Armenia, Crete, Iran, Jordan, etc. They also compared the Ashkalon samples to a modern Sardinian dataset, though I don’t see the results from that in a quick skim of the report.

    All of the samples are indeed closer to the local population. The pre-“European” and post-“European” samples range from 50-50 to 80-20 Levantine Chalcolithic-Iranian Chalcolithic. The four “European” samples look to be between 10 and 15% WHG, which the included map places in the general vicinity of Milan. (Greece, Crete, Anatolia, etc., are distinct population groups listed separately from WHG.) The remainder of the Ashkalon samples are, again, Levantine Chalcolithic and Iranian Chalcolithic. This is consistent with a temporary migratory inflow that then recombines out over time. Invaders or refugees, most likely.

    Looking at the introduction to the paper, I think the intended research question was “large migration or diffusion via trade” for the cultural change that made the Philistine cities different from their neighbors. And then, if migration, what was the origin of the new population? I think they have a pretty good case, within the limits of what we can do with this science at the moment, for migration from a population kin to the WHG samples.

    Assuming that the people who provided the quotes aren’t accustomed to dealing with US journalists and their amazing level of scientific ignorance, I can easily see them thinking they had said one thing and the NYTimes reporter hearing something different.

  21. @Douglas Berry The security force will use deadly force. And the idiots who decide to do this will earn their Darwin Awards.

    What disturbs me, though, is that you evidently enjoy imagining it.

  22. @Steve Davidson

    I’m not so keen on the conclusions made in Rudick’s review; Lisa Yaszek is creating a body of work devoted to uncovering women’s history in the genre and I think this volume was intended more as bibliography than explication of the hows and whys of whether female-authored SF/F “never existed” or was “erased”, but as source for future study; I think Rudick is taking it to task for not addressing things it didn’t intend to get into.

    Actually Lisa Yaszek did write a book which goes deeper into women authors in postwar SFF and how/why they were forgotten. It’s called Galactic Suburbia and is very good. Meanwhile, The Future is Female and Sister of Tomorrow seem to be more intended as anthologies than critical studies.

  23. @Douglas: With all due respect, there are plenty of known cases of soldiers, individually or as groups, murdering unarmed civilians. Some of those soldiers (not all) were part of armies that had gone through the training you describe, or something akin to it.

    The My Lai massacre* was illegal, yes–and a disquieting number of people thought the case shouldn’t have been prosecuted. Either Lt. Calley had that same training you describe, and it didn’t stop him–no lecture on law or ethics given to people en masse is going to be 100% effective–or that training was introduced later, possibly after The Dispossessed was written.

    Also, Le Guin wasn’t writing specifically about the United States military, or indeed any terrestrial military. I don’t think we can fairly assume that the army of A-Io, light years away from here and with almost no influence from any Terran culture**, abides by the Geneva Conventions.

    I’m using a U.S. example, not because I think the U.S. military is worse than average, but because the original story is about a U.S. location, and because you’re talking about what you learned in the American military.
    **”Almost” because some of the physicists in the book have heard of Einstein, and think his ideas might be valuable.

  24. @Andrew, et al.: I’ll bookmark that story to read soon.

    (9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS. Happy birthday to Phil Jimenez, a very talented comics artist! 😀 I hope he got some nice presents.

    In other birthday news, I received mostly books and tea for mine. Yay! The books were Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols and Delta-V by Daniel Suarez, two SF novels I wanted (stand-alones, IIRC).

    For tea, I received a cannister of a looseleaf green Earl Grey tea I love from The Tao of Tea and a subscription to tea from Tea Runners. Tea Runners is run by Charlie Ritchie and Jewel Staite (Kaylee in “Firefly” and “Serenity,” Dr. Keller in “Stargate: Atlantis,” et al.). So even this gift is SFF-related, after a fashion. I mean, tea is SFF anyway after the Ancillary Tea series, right?

    BTW I found Tea Runners when @Mark (Kitteh) linked to Staite’s Disney Princess Twitter comment a while back. Her Twitter links to Tea Runners. So thanks, Mark!

    All roads lead to (from?) File 770. 😉

    Anyway, our house hasn’t collapsed under the weight of all the books yet, so hopefully it won’t collapse from the weight of all the tea and related paraphernalia. ::looks around nervously::

  25. @Kendall: There’s a lot of good old SF on Gutenberg (and since 2019, some more had been added) – I’ve downloaded a ton of it (often using Galactic Journey’s reviews as a starting point).

  26. Donald Westlake wrote a hilarious book on the publishing industry called A Likely Story. (Well, I thought it was hilarious, anyway.) The main character is putting together an anthology and uses the names of real writers, including Isaac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut — though, Westlake carefully explains in “Notice to the Reader, and His Attorney,” these writers didn’t actually do what he says they did in the book. So a very tangential connection to science fiction.

    I couldn’t find the book on Amazon, and to be fair it was published in 1984 and is very outdated.

  27. Kendall, happy birthday! Books and tea sound like great presents.

  28. @Sophie Jane

    No, I do not enjoy it. It makes me sick that this might happen. But I will never mourn idiots who ignore every warning in their quest to prove their idiocy.

    Back when I was still a truck driver I made daily deliveries to Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Every day I had to pass through the inspection facility. I got to know most of the guards by name, would joke with them, chat about baseball or football, just pass the time until I was cleared.

    One day, as I was driving tow the exit gate, an alarm sounded. A guard I knew well, a guy who was a fellow Giants baseball fanatic, ran up to where I was driving at 15mph and pointed an MP-5 submachine gun at me and ordered me to stop, kill the engine, and step out of the truck slowly. I complied with every order, as there were signs posted at every gate stating that this was a secure facility and that lethal force was authorized.

    I ended up sitting on the curb with my hands in clear sight for about 30 minutes. All the time, the fact that I was facing a competent security officer at a vital facility never left my mind. If I had done anything wrong, I have no doubt he would have shot me.

    Running into a secure USAF facility that is well-known for its warnings of lethal force is bloody stupid, and anyone who does it and doesn’t surrender at the first order deserves what they get.

  29. (9bis)
    I’m sorry to learn that Anarchaos was by Westlake. It betrayed a deep failure to understand either the strengths or weaknesses of actual anarchism as a philosophical or political movement, and indicated an unwillingness or inability to research the matter.

  30. @Vicki Rosenzweig

    The breakdown in leadership at My Lai 4 is something we actually studied in PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course.) Massacres do happen because soldiers in combat for long periods of time break down.

    Endless studies have shown that 100 days is the maximum time a soldier should be exposed to combat. Beyond that, training breaks down, morale falls, and the probability of a war crime skyrockets. Calley’s platoon was mostly men who had been in country in near-constant action for well over 100 days. Something snapped. The failure was in the command structure not stopping it.

    War is a useless, bloody mess that does nothing but destroy. But we’re addicted to it.

  31. @Andrew–

    Heinlein has plenty of woman characters who don’t give up their careers when they get married (Hazel and Holly are engineers, Dr. Stone is a physician, Sally Logan is a legislator, as are several other women in “Beyond this Horizon” and most of the starship pilots in Starship Troopers are women if I recall correctly). Podkayne is the notable exception – she does apparently give up her ambitions to be a pilot.

    And yet, as an actual preteen and adolescent girl, I spent years reading Heinlein stories, both enjoying them, and being deeply frustrated by the female characters. Yes, many of them were very smart. And independent–but mostly only superficially.

    The mothers in the juveniles are mostly dead losses, ignorant, not too bright, and proud of it.

    In Podkayne of Mars, Podkayne and Charles’ mother, a scientist with an important job, is judged responsible for why Charles and to a lesser extent Podkayne went wrong because she was pursuing her career instead of being the mother they needed. Yes, he had a lot of female engineers, but they were all remarkably eager, after a certain point in the presentation of them, they mostly become incredibly eager to have both a completely freewheeling sex life and improbably large numbers of babies.

    In Friday, Friday has her doxy certificate.

    In the ship culture that adopts Thorby,, the “real boss” on each ship is a woman, who is the executive officer–not the captain. We are supposed to be impressed that women are the real bosses, and just accept it as normal and even obvious that a woman can’t have the top rank. Do the work, make the decisions, never have the title and the credit. Basically, a stereotypically female caretaker role.

    When Thorby gets home to Earth, the girlfriend who is smarter, more capable, more informed, all that stuff, is actually not treated as smarter and more capable. Just more informed about life on Earth among the rich. The role she is cast in is not “in charge,” but again, sterotypically female caretaker role.

    And the pilots aren’t the heroes.

    Those female pilots in Starship Troopers? It’s already been pointed out there there’s no mixing and there are armed guards at the start of the pilots’–the women’s–territory to ensure that. These Navy pilots need to be protected. From the men. By other men.

    I could go on at great length. There are lots of women. Lots of them have gender-atypical jobs. But they all, ultimately, take second place to the men. Even when they hold power, there has to be a decent fig leaf that lets a man have the top position,and this is presented as better for the women than being officially acknowledged as being in charge.

    I loved Heinlein’s fiction, I really did. But it was also deeply frustrating, alienating, infuriating. He did not regard women as equals. And no, I don’t want to hear any of that most condescending bullshit of all, “women aren’t men’s equals; they’re superior.” Which did pop up occasionally from Heinlein. It’s just another fucking excuse for not treating women as people. With basically the same set of needs and desires as other people.

  32. Lisa, you can get copies of A Likely Story on abe.com for around five dollars for the Tor paperback or a few dollars more for the Grand Central Publishing hardcover edition. There’s more than a few copies of either edition.

  33. I think part of the reason Heinlein comes in for so much flak is because he tried so hard. A lot of his contemporaries just… didn’t have women, or the women were so far in the background they weren’t really there, and while that is absolutely sexism it’s unobtrusive sexism. We’re used to just not seeing women, or hardly ever seeing women. Look at how long it took to have a Marvel film with a female lead. Heinlein wanted to show women as equal and smart and capable and in lots of roles and he did… but Heinlein also had an awful lot of unexamined assumptions and sexism, so the portrayals just aren’t quite right (and sometimes aren’t at all right). Which is not to let him off the hook: Some of those portrayals are awful by today’s standards, and there were certainly contemporary portrayals which were superior. It’s just a shame. If he’d been able to get over it just a little bit more…

    (See also: How much fire Neil Gaiman catches for his early portrayals of trans characters. Almost(?) no-one else in mainstream comics had trans characters at all, but the person who did is the one who gets the lion’s share of the criticism.)

  34. Another fan of A Likely Story, which is a charming and funny book. But I’m amazed that I’d previously forgotten Westlake’s masterpiece in SF form, the novel Smoke. It features an invisible man, and the (often extremely funny) practical difficulties of being an invisible man are the focus of the plot, as with any good SF novel which is about the effects of a scientific advance, not the gimmickry of the invention itself. It’s also a terrifically tense thriller: of course there are people who want the invisible man for purposes of their own, if only they can find and see him.

  35. Quick note: I am at Readercon and met Paul Weimer today before a panel that he was on! He is a real person and not 47 ferrets in a trench coat.

    I’m really enjoying Readercon and have gotten quite a few books signed!

  36. @Vicki RosenzweigWith all due respect, there are plenty of known cases of soldiers, individually or as groups, murdering unarmed civilians. Some of those soldiers (not all) were part of armies that had gone through the training you describe, or something akin to it.

    With all due respect, there are plenty of known cases of civilians, individually or in groups. murdering unarmed civilians. I write this out not to excuse the bad behavior of soldiers, but to point out that you don’t need to create an army to get that behavior.

    I absolutely believe that the security force at Area 51 will shoot anyone who gets into certain areas of the base. I also believe that the people in charge of that force, once they hear of the event, will start working on plans to try to prevent that. Even the most callous military officer understands that allowing your military base to be overrun by unarmed civilians makes you look incompetent. And gunning down large numbers of them has all kinds of consequences.

  37. Apropos of Area 51, maybe: I randomly acquired a copy of UFO-ETI World Master Plan (1977), a manifesto of Allen Michael’s UFO-oriented commune that was at that time located in Stockton, CA. I read the whole thing and wrote at some length about its content and background, if anyone is curious.

    I was wondering if anyone could recommend any favorite nonfiction specifically about UFO cults, however you choose to define that term. I realized when I saw The Endless (a very odd SF/horror film set in a rural commune near San Diego) that I didn’t really know anything about their history other than Heaven’s Gate and the Raelians. There’s a fairly informative Wikipedia article but I’m curious about anything more in-depth from a journalistic or sociological point of view.

  38. @Lis Carey:

    Thank you for your comments, particularly:

    And yet, as an actual preteen and adolescent girl, I spent years reading Heinlein stories, both enjoying them, and being deeply frustrated by the female characters. Yes, many of them were very smart. And independent–but mostly only superficially.

    As I tried to find counterexamples, I came up nearly empty*. Heinlein seemed to be happy to recognize that women could be very competent (and often more competent than their male counterparts), but he had a terrible time showing women using their competence except via influencing or advising the male characters.

    Also I remembered Penny (in Double Star) who is a) the only named female character in the novel and b) treated as a child by everyone in the book.

    the one counterexample I could find was the administrator in Beyond This Horizon who dominates the Planning Authority without any male mediator – but she is a minor character in a book has sufficient other problems with sexism).

  39. P.S. Apparently I meant to post my original comment in the 7/11/19 thread – oops.

  40. Orange Mike: Donald Westlake rarely researched anything. He always preferred just making things up. Sometimes his books seemed set in a never-never land rather than the contemporary world, but I must say that never bothered me.

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