Pixel Scroll 7/13/20 Pixel Number 8 Will Make You Cry. Pixel Number 2 Has Surprised Us All

(1) COLSON WHITEHEAD FETED BY LOC. He’s the youngest person to get this recognition: “Library of Congress to honor author Colson Whitehead.

Already this year’s recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Orwell Prize for political fiction, Whitehead is now being honored by the Library of Congress. On Monday, it announced that he had won the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Whitehead, 50, is the youngest winner of the lifetime achievement prize, which the library has previously given to Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Denis Johnson, among others. He is the first author to win Pulitzers for consecutive works of fiction — “The Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys,” for which he won in April.

(2) WHY HE HAD TO LEAVE. Edmund Schluessel reports on his experiences with Finncon 2020, which took place this past Friday-Sunday online and was based in Tampere, Finland. “Finncon 2020. So.”

I was quite sanguine about Finncon 2019. I praised the “more thriving, more diverse, more accepting community” I had found in Finland.

Thus this post is difficult to write. I’ll start with the part of Finncon 2020 I was there for, then talk about why I had to leave….

(3) HOLIDAY ON KLENDATHU. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at The Verge, Joshua Rivera examines the legacy and impact of Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 film adaptation of Starship Troopers, linking to several other articles that examine the movie’s newfound relevance to America’s current political divisions. I know this film gets debated endlessly around these parts, but to my eye, the fact that a quarter century later people outside the SFF community are still debating its meaning and parsing its subtext is a good indication that Starship Troopers has enduring value. “The world is finally coming around to Starship Troopers”

I’m here to see the fireworks, and rare is the blockbuster that is interested in forcing me to question that.

(4) SAME BAT-TIME, SAME BAT-DISTANCE. Shelf Awareness shows how it’s done genre-style in “Social Distancing at Atomic Books”.

(5) SWEDISH HOPES UP. Fantastika, the Swedish national con or Swecon, is off for this year so they’ve named a date for the event in 2021. (We had the cancellation a few days ago, but not the new date.)

The Committee has decided to cancel the convention in October due to the corona pandemic. We have instead booked the venue, Dieselverkstaden, for the weekend April 9-11, 2021, i e the weekend after Easter. We sincerely hope that it will be possible to have the convention at that time. Please note that this is not the same date as the one that we previously considered.

If you wish to have the membership refunded you need to send me an e-mail with information on how I should send it, e g via PayPal. If you have already got a refund you are of course welcome to pay the membership again.

Please see further information on https://fantastika2020.com/

(6) DEEPSOUTHCON HOPES DOWN BUT NOT OUT. CONtraflow chair Frank Schiavo told Facebook followers the event (which is also this year’s DeepSouthCon) has been postponed to 2021. But there may be a virtual DeepSouthCon on the original weekend.

After much discussion, long board meetings, working back and forth with the host hotel, city/parish/state leadership, and Southern Fandom Confederation/Deep South Con representatives , the board of directors of CONtraflow has come to the following conclusion: under current conditions, we cannot give you the amazing Fan experience that you all have come to expect from the previous nine years of CONtraflow. We must reschedule CONtraflow 10, originally scheduled for this coming November 13-15.  Hosting our convention as usual in 2020 is impossible in these pandemic conditions, as they currently are and will be for the foreseeable future.  There are simply too many unknowns at play at this time.  Our only responsible, reasonable, and possible choice is to reschedule CONtraflow 10.  Please know this decision is as tough and painful for us as it is for all of you.  We didn’t make it lightly and hope you will support our decision.

I am sure most of you have questions about the rescheduled event. I’ll try to answer a few of the big ones.

The new date for CONtraflow 10 is October 1-3, 2021 at the Airport Hilton in Kenner, Louisiana.   We are currently working on guests and speakers for the new convention dates.  We’ll have a first flier about the new dates up on social media for you to share in the next few days. We are planning to have a more detailed flier with guests and major events up and out there online before the end of September.

…As for the DeepSouthCon 58 (2020) to be hosted by CONtraflow this year,  there are plans for a virtual DeepSouthCon 58 mini convention featuring panels, programming, the annual SFC meeting and the Hearts tournament, and more on the Saturday of the original convention weekend (November 14, 2020).  We are working out the details of online hosting and any possible costs and will be updating you with details of the virtual DSC in the coming weeks….

(7) A STRANGE PROLOGUE. Rob Hansen has added “THE 1971 EASTERCON” to his THEN British fanhistory website, complete with the usual cornucopia of photos. It includes this account of a bizarre chain of events:

THE BRIAN ALDISS GoH SAGA – Peter Weston

At SCI-CON 70:

Brian confided that this was the second time he had been asked to be Guest of Honour but had then been required to step down. We were suitably shocked, as he went on to explain how he had been invited as GoH for 1969 in Oxford, but when a new committee had taken over, headed by John Brunner, they had wanted to have Judith Merril instead. George Hay had heard about this, thought it was a bit poor, and so he had asked Brian to be GoH in 1970, which he had accepted. Then George heard that James Blish was moving to England and he did exactly the same thing, pushing out Brian once again in favour of a supposed bigger “name.” Rog and I were suitably disgusted, and promptly offered to make amends. We would bid for the 1971 Eastercon and would do it properly. We promised to find a decent hotel and make Brian our Guest of Honour. (p.191)

***

Suddenly, however, we hit double trouble. Brian Aldiss resigned as Guest of Honour, and this was immediately followed by the start of a postal strike. Brian’s letter was a bombshell! The only reason Rog and I had taken on the convention was to do justice to him, and now he was dropping out for no very good reason, saying vaguely that he “might be living in Hong Kong for a while.”

(8) INSIDE THE STORY. The Odyssey Writing Workshop does a Q&A with a graduate: “Interview: Graduate Corry L. Lee”.

What’s the biggest weakness in your writing these days, and how do you cope with it?

I mentioned cross-tension earlier, which I love. The thorn in my side, however, is forward tension.

To start us on the same page, by forward tension I mean the often external plot tension that pulls a reader through the story. In my Bourshkanya Trilogy, this tends to be resistance activities to weaken or tear down the fascist state. In general, fighting the big bad, and the sequence of events that leads to it, tends to be high in forward tension as the characters try and fail, as the villain pursues them, etc.

Cross-tension, by contrast, occurs between characters who have opposing, potentially unreconcilable beliefs. Both characters may try to do what they believe is right or necessary, may even care deeply for one another, but with the underpinnings of their belief structures in conflict, they’re forced onto opposite sides, e.g., a resistance fighter and a loyal State soldier. Secrets flourish in this soil, as do the juiciest (in my opinion) of all fiction elements: well-motivated, understandable yet heartbreaking betrayals. Or not. Opposing beliefs can be reconciled, which is part of what makes them so delightful. Cross-tension can also arise between a character and elements of the world, e.g., a resistance fighter who has to pretend loyalty to the State.

From my description, you can probably tell how much I love cross-tension. It makes my brain sing and is one reason I love having multiple POVs on both sides of a tricky moral line.

(9) HELP NEEDED. Jenny Parks, the author of Star Trek Cats (2017) and Star Trek: The Next Generation Cats (2018) has an online fundraiser for treatment of her Hodgkin’s lymphoma: “Jenny Parks Cancer Relief Fund”. As of today, people have donated $10,462 of the $25,000 goal. Ben Bird Person submitted the item with these images of “some of her art she’s done for me!”

(10) PRESTON OBIT. Actress Kelly Preston, whose best-known sff role was in the 1986 film Space Camp, died July 12 of cancer. (The New York Times tribute is here.)  She had a brief cameo with her husband John Travolta in Battlefield Earth (2000). On This Date In Science Fiction History takes an extended look at her genre resume in “Stardate 07.13.2020.A: In Memoriam – Kelly Preston”.

(11) CRAWFORD OBIT. Small press publisher Gary William Crawford (1953-2020) died July 9.He founded Gothic Press in 1979, serving as its editor, as well as the author of many published works in Gothic literature. 

From 1979 to 1987, Crawford produced six issues of the journal Gothic, and later, the press published the horror poetry magazine Night Songs. Crawford recently began the online journal, Le Fanu Studies.

(12) BRECHA OBIT. Sff writer F. Alexander Brejcha (1957-2019), whose first story was published in Analog in 1992, died in February 2019 it was recently learned. A collection of his short fiction, People First!!, was released in 2004, as was a collection of three novellas, No World Warranty.

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 13, 1960 — Irwin Allen’s version of The Lost World premiered. Based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel. It was directed by him, produced by him with the assistance of Cliff Reid, and he wrote the screenplay with the help of Charles Bennett. The cast included Claude Rains, David Hedison, Fernando Lamas, Jill St. John, and Michael Rennie. Financing was so limited that the monsters were monitor lizards, iguanas, and crocodiles affixed with miniature horns and fins. Critics weren’t fond of it, it did poorly at the box office, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a scathingly poor 20% rating. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 13, 1796 – William Harvey.  Engraver and designer.  Woodblocks for e.g. Bewick’s Aesop, Northcote’s Fables, Lane’s Arabian Nights.  Here is “Ali of Cairo”; here is “The Merchant and the Jinni” (note, jinni is the singular, jinn the plural); here is “Sayf al-Muluk and Badi’a al-Jamal”.  Here is a portrait of Defoe, and title page, for Robinson Crusoe.  (Died 1866) [JH]
  • Born July 13, 1864 – John Astor IV.  Possibly the richest man in the world when he went down with the Titanic; wrote A Journey in Other Worlds set in what is now our past, the year 2000, with travel to Jupiter and Saturn powered by antigravity. (Died 1912) [JH]
  • Born July 13, 1904 Norvell W. Page. Chief writer of The Spider pulp series as Grant Stockbridge. He started out by writing a backup story in the first issue of The Spider pulp: “Murder Undercover” and by the third issue was writing the main Spider stories which he did for some seventy stories. He also wrote The Black Bat and The Phantom Detective pulps.  (Died 1961.) (CE)
  • Born July 13, 1926 Robert H. Justman. Producer and director who worked on many a genre series including Adventures of SupermanThe Outer LimitsStar TrekMission: ImpossibleMan from Atlantis and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He was the assistant director for the first two Star Trek episodes: “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born July 13, 1926 – Dik Daniels.  For years a prominent photographer, to whom we owe many such records.  Widely, long, and uncelebratedly enough helpful that he was given the Big Heart, our highest service award. Some photos 1968-2001 on this Website.   (Died about 2001) [JH]
  • Born July 13, 1937 Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time BanditsThe Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor he claims to have played three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Womblies, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997.) (CE)
  • Born July 13, 1940 Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, 80. Jean-Luc Picard, starting with being Captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation up though the current Star Trek: Picard. Also had some minor role in the MCU as Professor Charles Xavier, and played Leodegrance in Excalibur. Though not even genre adjacent, I’m fond of his role as King Henry II in The Lion in Winter. (CE)
  • Born July 13, 1942 Harrison Ford, 78. Three great roles of course. First, being Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. in the Indiana Jones franchise which is four films deep with a fifth on the way. The second, of course, being Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, a role he’s done four times plus a brief cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. And the third being Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, a role he reprised for Blade Runner 2049. Oh ,and he played the older Indy at age fifty in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the “Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues” episode. (CE)
  • Born July 13, 1953 Chip Hitchcock, 67. To quote Fancyclopedia, Chip Hitchcock “is a con-running fan living in the Boston area. He is a member of NESFA and MCFI and has worked on a great many conventions including Worldcons at the Division Head level, Boskones and numerous other regionals.“ Happy Birthday, Chip!  (CE)
  • Born July 13, 1954 – Gary Feldbaum, 66.  First SF con, Boskone 15 (Fancyclopedia 3 and some others call the first Boskones I-V i.e. through 1945; the current ones, starting in 1965, 1-57 so far).  Moved to Philadelphia; happening to be a lawyer when one was wanted incorporated the Philadelphia SF Soc. (PSFS); chaired six Philcons.  Has worked on Worldcons on three continents.  Might be found heading a Division or ushering for the Masquerade.  [JH]
  • Born July 13, 1965 – Tomoyuki Hoshino, 55.  Two novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; nine more novels.  Bungei, Mishima, Noma, Ôe, Yomiuri, Tanizaki Prizes.  Born in Los Angeles, lived in Mexico long enough to get work in Japan translating Spanish-language movies.  Teaches creative writing at his alma mater Waseda U.  Me and the collection We, the Children of Cats are available in English.  [JH]
  • Born July 13, 1981 – Monica Byrne, 39.  The Girl in the Road won a Tiptree Award (as it then was); translated into German. Nine shorter stories in, on, or at Electric VelocipedeFantasyThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionShimmer.  Plays.  A TED Talk (Technology, Entertainment, Design).  Non-fiction in The AtlanticHuffington PostVirginia Quarterly Review.  Website.  [JH]

(15) COMICS SECTION.

  • Farcus has a toy that’s too big for the playroom.
  • Something Positive finds it’s too hard to separate the work from the artist.

(16) FULL LID. Alasdair Stuart fills readers in about The Full Lid for 10th July 2020:

This week in The Full Lid we have a first!! Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion is out in a couple of weeks and as part of the coverage for it, I’m delighted to run an original flash fiction piece by Matt, along with one by myself. Matt’s one of my favorite writers and people and it’s a delight to see him doing excellent work like this piece and the upcoming novel.

Elsewhere I take a look at the graphic novel new Netflix movie The Old Guard was adapted from. Finally, I take a look at unfairly overlooked crime/science fiction/magic movie Sleight.

(17) KOWAL Q&A. Andrew Liptak’s Reading List has a substantial “Interview with Mary Robinette Kowal” filled with insights like this:

How did this all dovetail with your interest in science fiction?

There’s no point in my life when I don’t remember reading science fiction. My dad and I would — actually the whole family, but dad and I particularly — would listen to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when it was on the radio. We’d watch Star TrekBattlestar Galactica; I read all of the things. But it is for me again, the thing that I said at the beginning about the ways science fiction and fantasy for me allows us to ask big questions.

Connie Willis set a thing once, which made me go “Oh, yes, that’s why I like it so much.” She said that she thinks that the difference between science fiction and fantasy and mimetic fiction or everyday fiction is that in mimetic fiction, you have ordinary problems, but then your character has to have an outsized or an extraordinary response to an ordinary problem. Like, someone’s husband is cheating on them, it’s not just, that they go stay with a family member; they go to the PTA and they stand on the table and they confront the person that he was having an affair with in order to drive the plot — you have to have this extraordinary reaction to cause the plot to move forward.

Whereas in science fiction and fantasy, we have extraordinary events taking place, which allows people to have normal, proportionate responses. And that made me understand part of why I like science fiction and fantasy, but it also made me realize that it gives us an opportunity to present a much more faithful representation of honest human emotion. The things that happen to us in our real world can be as as rocking or earth-shattering as a meteor hitting. There can be things that are as deeply traumatic. But most of those things aren’t enough to drive a plot. I feel like that’s doing a disservice to people who write mimetic naturalistic fiction, because I certainly have read stuff where people are having completely normal responses to completely normal events, but speaking in very general terms, it is an opportunity that science fiction offers.

(18) WITNESS SELF-PROTECTION PROGRAM. Frank Robinson’s early story, “Hunting Season” has been discovered and is going into production says The Hollywood Reporter: “James Wan, ‘John Wick’ Writer Derek Kolstad Team for Sci-Fi Time Travel Tale ‘Hunting Season'”.

…Robinson was one of the figures to come out of the mid-20th century sci-fi short story scene, penning techno-thrillers for various pulp publications. His thriller The Glass Inferno, written with Thomas Scortia, was one of two books that were combined to make the classic 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno. He also was known for being the speechwriter for Harvey Milk, the gay San Francisco politician who was assassinated in 1978.

Hunting Season will follow a law officer from the future who is declared an enemy of the state and sentenced to be executed by being sent to the past and stalked by a posse. The man has three days to acclimate to his new era and find a way to survive.

(19) NO NORMAL CONQUEST. Steven H Silver’s new novel After Hastings is behind today’s Big Idea feature at Whatever: “The Big Idea: Steven H. Silver”.

While in grad school, one of the things my professors constantly warned against during discussions was falling into the trap of counterfactual speculation. When discussing and debating the causes and events of the medieval period, we were to confine ourselves to theories that could be supported by the primary sources and archaeological evidence. The fact that I did not become an historian and founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History may give some indication of how well I adhered to those rules.

(20) PAGING DR. HOWARD, DR. FINE, DR. HOWARD… [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Pick six of your most intelligent, fittest friends. Now imagine the seven of you are on a mission to Mars & you have appendicitis. Which friend do you pick to be your surgeon? Mind you, none of them have medical training. “From floating guts to ‘sticky’ blood – here’s how to do surgery in space” at The Conversation.

… Surgery in microgravity is possible and has already been been carried out, albeit not on humans yet. For example, astronauts have managed to repair rat tails and perform laparoscopy – a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to examine and repair the organs inside the abdomen – on animals, while in microgravity.

These surgeries have led to new innovations and improvements such as magnetising surgical tools so they stick to the table, and restraining the “surgeonaut” too.

One problem was that, during open surgery, the intestines would float around, obscuring view of the surgical field. To deal with this, space travellers should opt for minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as keyhole surgery, ideally occurring within patients’ internal cavities through small incisions using a camera and instruments.

(21) DON’T LESNERIZE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Simon Denyer, Akiko Kashiwagi, and Min Joo Kim discuss how robots are being used in the pandemic in Japan and South Korea,  including Avatarin’s use of avatars and the robot in South Korean elementary schools who takes kids temperatures and maskshames them if their masks aren’t over their noses. “No masks, no coughs: Robots can be just what the doctor ordered in time of social distancing”.

Now, the patrol robot has been adapted so it can also disinfect surfaces as it patrols, and is attracting interest from Tokyo’s Metro stations as well as other businesses.

In May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted surging demand for unmanned deliveries and pledged to carry out tests to see if delivery robots were safe to use on roads and sidewalks by the end of the year.

Even the self-driving wheelchair can come into its own amid a coronavirus-filled world, the company said, potentially helping elderly people move around more independently without a helper who might be a vector for the virus.

(22) OVERTAKING. “Female gamers are on the rise in the ‘world capital of gaming'”.

The number of females playing video games in Asia is growing at a faster rate than their male rivals, according to the latest research.

Women are levelling the playing field across all of Asia’s key markets including China, India and Japan.

The female video gaming community grew by 19% last year, according to data commissioned by Google.

Asia is regarded as the global capital of video games, accounting for 48% of the world’s total gaming revenue.

…There are a number of factors that are contributing to this rise, with storylines becoming more inclusive and connectivity improving across the region.

For 2019, the numbers of female gamers had grown to 38% of the 1.33bn global gaming population, according to Google which collaborated with market researchers Niko Partners.

But for Asia, the proportion of female gamers is much higher. In China, they now account for 45%, while for South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia the figure is 40%.

(23) ENVIRONMENTAL DRINKING. “Johnnie Walker whisky to be sold in paper bottles”. If this was Beam’s, could you imagine “Smooooth”-ing with a paper bottle?

Johnnie Walker, the whisky which traces its roots back 200 years, will soon be available in paper bottles.

Diageo, the drinks giant that owns the brand, said it plans to run a trial of the new environmentally-friendly packaging from next year.

While most Johnnie Walker is sold in glass bottles, the firm is looking for ways of using less plastic across its brands.

Making bottles from glass also consumes energy and creates carbon emissions.

To make the bottles, Diageo will co-launch a firm called Pulpex, which will also produce packaging for the likes of Unilever and PepsiCo.

Diageo’s paper whisky bottle, which will be trialled in spring 2021, will be made from wood pulp and will be fully recyclable, the company said.

The idea is that customers would be able to drop them straight into the recycling.

(24) TUCKER INTERVIEW, PART DEUX. Fanac.org has posted the second segment of the Bob Tucker interview done for Chicon 2000.

Dick Smith’s interview of Wilson “Bob” Tucker was done for Chicon 2000, that year’s World SF Convention. Here in Part 2, the stories keep coming (and Bob is an excellent storyteller). Tucker talks about Claude Degler’s first appearance in fandom and how Jack Speer (later Judge Speer) got into trouble. There’s more about Chicon 1, how he learned about the internet and how fandom has changed in the preceding 60 years. You’ll even hear how Bob ended up joining the N3F after decades in fandom.  Videography by Tom Veal, Chairman of Chicon 2000.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mlex, Olav Rokne, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Ben Bird Person, John King Tarpinian, Rich Lynch, Steven H Silver, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

61 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/13/20 Pixel Number 8 Will Make You Cry. Pixel Number 2 Has Surprised Us All

  1. I am NOT Pixel Number Six.

    19) After years of running a Dr. Turtledove’s website, I am not entirely surprised to see Steven write a AH novel of his own.

  2. 3) Satire (or NOT), it doesn’t matter to me how many times Starship Troopers is re-reviewed, re-evaluated or stared at until your eyes are permanently crossed, it will remain on my list of the crappiest sf film adaptations of all time. PERIOD! FULL STOP!

  3. Wow — Chip, Harrison, AND Sir Patrick. A banner day!

    Will no one rid me of this troublesome pixel?

  4. Happy birthday, Chip!

    (2) Huh. Honestly, that sounds like reason to sever ties with Finncon permanently. But, I wasn’t there, and I’m not involved, and don’t, as far as I know, know anyone involved, so I could be not understanding something important.

  5. @3: was there any indication before the 2018 interview that Verhoeven was intending a satire? How effective is a satire if it requires decades to be perceived?

    @14 (me) and all following: thanks!

    @14 (Feldbaum): As far as my partner (former PSFS member) can recall, he’s a Philadelphia(-area) native; IIUC, he was in Boston for B15 because he was getting his JD at Boston University.

    @Chris Barkley (inverting my view above): the original was intended to be serious; if Verhoeven intended a satire, the adaptation should be … imperfect.

    Keep Watching the Skies: Jupiter and Saturn are approaching both conjunction and opposition. My very rough estimate is that they’re a couple of months away from both; anyone with almanac data should speak up. Look equator-ward of east after 11pm (or earlier if that part of the horizon is clear for you) for one very bright “star” with a weaker one (still brighter than true stars) currently about 4 medium finger-widths eastward.

  6. @Chip Hitchcock: Well, I certainly agree that Starship Troopers is QUITE imperfect, in every sense if the word.

    BTW, Happy Birthday!

    Chris B.

  7. Chip Hitchcock: How effective is a satire if it requires decades to be perceived?

    Whether or not it was what Verhoeven actually intended, when I first saw the movie, I immediately recognized it as a “Imma show you just how morally bankrupt this sort of a society is, by making the morally-bankrupt parts larger than life,” rather than an adaptation.

    Of course, the people who subscribe enthusiastically to the morally-bankrupt parts won’t recognize it as a caricature, which is why caricaturists have (mostly) managed to engage in their profession without losing their lives for hundreds of years.

  8. Starship Troopers is one of the rare adaptations that’s better than the original, and is one of the only ones which achieve that distinction while still not being very good! 😀

    Oh, and Happy Birthday, Chip, if my previous paragraph hasn’t offended you too much for you to read anything else I might write. (I tend to suspect not.) 😉

  9. Xtifr: Starship Troopers is one of the rare adaptations that’s better than the original, and is one of the only ones which achieve that distinction while still not being very good!

    Now you’re just getting slap-happy.

    You’d be surprised how well Heinlein’s book compares with E.B. Sledge’s best-selling nonfiction WWII book With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. When I read that my first thought was — aha! this must have been Heinlein’s model! Only then did I look at the copyright date and discover Sledge wrote his 20 years after Starship Troopers came out.

  10. (3) I was immersed in Starship Troopers on a word-by-word basis when copyediting and doing page layout for the Virginia Edition (the failed Meisha Merlin version) as a contractor back in 2006. My considered opinion – without necessarily endorsing or criticizing the 1997 film – is that there is no way the novel could be adapted straight.

    There are several problems. One is that so much of what Heinlein is trying to convey takes place in the classroom (the high school scenes with Mr. Dubois, as well as the quite long scene with Major Reid during Officer Candidates School) – I don’t see how more than a small fraction of that can be translated to film. Moreover, the narrator, Johnnie, gives very little sense of the world outside his own narrow point of view (certainly less so than the other Heinlein stories with ~18-year-old narrators). He is in agreement with all of his authority figures, except his parents (one of whom later becomes his subordinate). There is just not a lot of story there on which to hang a feature film.

    Opposing views welcome, of course.

  11. gottacook: This discussion thread includes several fans who don’t find the idea of making a faithful-to-the-book movie from Starship Troopers attractive, but your argument that it can’t be done surprises me. Heinlein wrote his book after Hollywood had already made several classroom-to-the-battlefield movies, from All’s Quiet on the Western Front to The Halls of Montezuma, and other didactic boot camp movies like Jack Webb’s The D.I. full of Dragnet-length rants. It wasn’t made into a movie back in the era it originated, of course, but not because that kind of material wasn’t being turned into movies.

  12. Somebody MUST have tried this one before, but I don’t see it on a very brief search —

    Out, damned scroll! Out, I say!

  13. @Chip: Googling “jupiter opposition” and “saturn opposition” says that Jupiter is at opposition tonight (July 14), with Saturn’s about a week away on the 20th.

    (Happy birthday, if slightly belated.)

  14. Mike – it seems to me that movies like Jack Webb’s The D.I. would have seemed hopelessly out of date (and/or out of fashion) to an American audience less than 10 years later, after the Vietnam escalation had begun and the purpose of U.S. military might began to be generally in doubt, where it’s remained to this day – whereas the story of Troopers explicitly takes place in a world without doubt, where a “scientifically verifiable theory of morals” (as explained by Mr. Dubois) has been achieved. That is the context of everything that takes place in the novel, and that context is what I don’t think can be placed on film. And without it, how can the action of the book be presented as anything other than simply “might makes right”?

  15. I’m with you @chris barkley The ‘satire’ such as it is, is of such a stupid level it fails completely. Yes, let’s satirize soldiers by having them all stand in a circle and fire their automatic weapons inwards. Nothing wrong with that. More than anything, it reminds me of one of the Asylum movies on SyFy.

  16. 3: We remember the Titanic; the explosion of Krakatoa; the Hindenburgh crash, the Johnstown flood, the Donner party…it’s no surprise that we remember another epic disaster that has taken place much more recently. We don’t remember disasters “fondly”, even if they do have an impact on us.

    24: does anyone know if there is an official number of ‘o’s one is supposed to use in the Fannish word “smooth” when it is referencing events related to Tucker?

  17. Verhoeven’s not at all a subtle director and I’m honestly surprised how many people didn’t recognise Starship Troopers as satire when it came out – especially after Robocop. I suppose it looked enough like a regular summer blockbuster that reviewers didn’t consider it might be more self-aware than the usual stuff.

    (Fandom, I suspect, is a special case. I know from experience how easy it is to get lost in comparing an adaption with the original book without ever stopping to ask if the aim was actually to be like the original book.)

    A younger person on my social media feed watched it for the first time at the weekend, as it happens. They were amused at how 90s the high school was, got the satire pretty quickly though not immediately – around the time the nazi-style uniforms appeared – and were surprised to hear it was based on a book.

  18. @3: was there any indication before the 2018 interview that Verhoeven was intending a satire?

    Well I thought it was satire when I saw it and that was definitely before 2018.

  19. nickpheas asks was there any indication before the 2018 interview that Verhoeven was intending a satire?

    I thought it was painfully obvious that it was being famed as a satire when I saw it on its original run in a near empty theater oh many years ago. It wasn’t, I thought at the time, particularly faithful to the novel, which I’d re-read a few days earlier. Nor was it anywhere as well thought out as Robocop was. Hell even his Basic Instinct was a better scripted film.

  20. Chip Hitchcock: @3:” was there any indication before the 2018 interview that Verhoeven was intending a satire? How effective is a satire if it requires decades to be perceived?”

    It was immediately obvious to me when I viewed it on the big screen the week it was released, and I loved it. That it was satire was obvious at the time to most UK fans – it’s one of Malcolm Edwards’s favourite movies. Hence my puzzlement at subsequent “re-evaluations” and “re-appraisals” from people for whom the penny finally, belatedly dropped. It was blindingly obvious it was satire from day one.

  21. Whatever one’s opinion of Starship Troopers’ merits, I’d argue the question of whether it’s satire becomes inarguable the moment Doogie Howser walks onscreen in an SS uniform.

  22. @Matthew

    A younger more callow me watching the movie in the theater didn’t get the satire as I was watching it…until THAT moment, and then it all became clear in my head and the lightbulb clicked on.

  23. Happy Birthday Chip, one day late!

    I enjoyed Starship Troopers even though I feel they didn’t understand the book at all. It was funny. I don’t think it’s clever. The supposed satire is against the audience for liking the heroic figures, rather than against the nazis.

  24. Bravo to Edmund Schluessel for item #2! It takes a lot of courage to draw a line in the sand like that and to be willing to sacrifice professional opportunities in the name of justice.

  25. I read Starship Troopers in the 1970s, and I loved it, and I thought, in real life, a system where only military veterans are citizens would not work out so nicely as Heinlein thought it would.

    When I saw Starship Troopers the movie, I was very quickly laughing with glee. It was clear to me that that movie was made by someone who had read the same book I had, and had had the same thoughts I had, and made the movie that, at least in part, was about the society that system would really have produced.

    Nazi uniforms and all.

    I rarely say this, because I know it’s an unpopular opinion, and that I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, but there it is.

  26. @all: it sounds like the Filers who could stomach the movie mostly spotted the satire on first viewing; the mundane reviews (and the few fannish comments I found in those/my less-netted days) didn’t object to the portrayals but IMR took the movie straight, and were sufficiently negative that I passed on seeing it.

    @Lis: I hardly think it’s an unpopular opinion that making the franchise dependent on military-based service would have horrible results — especially not in our part of the country. The idea of the franchise depending on more-generalized national service does get noised about occasionally, but not very loudly — and most of the suggestions I’ve heard depend on being physically able, which is a step backward from one of the few good points (IMO) in the novel.

    @David Goldfarb: TFTI. I took a bearing after midnight and thought Jupiter was still well short of opposition, but I did not have the correction from clock time to sun time in hand. It also sounds like the conjunction is further away than I was estimating: 6 days between opposition means 5+ degrees between the planets, and Jupiter moves ~1.5 degrees/month faster than Saturn (in their orbits — I’m not going to try to estimate the effect of parallax); if the revised arithmetic in my head is right it will at least be visible in the evening rather than the dawn, but not as bright as I was thinking.

  27. @Chip Hitchcock

    Keep Watching the Skies: Jupiter and Saturn are approaching both conjunction and opposition. My very rough estimate is that they’re a couple of months away from both; anyone with almanac data should speak up. Look equator-ward of east after 11pm (or earlier if that part of the horizon is clear for you) for one very bright “star” with a weaker one (still brighter than true stars) currently about 4 medium finger-widths eastward.

    Jupiter is the brightest object in the Eastern sky as soon as it gets dark — no need to wait so late.
    But even better, for the rest of the week, is Comet Neowise. As soon as it is late enough that stars start coming out overhead, look for the two “pointer” stars in the Big Dipper (the ones that point to the North Star) (the Big Dipper will be in the northwest). The rightmost one is Dubhe; drop a line straight down from it to the horizon. The comet is a little to the right of that line. It is easy to see with binoculars. If you have a good dark sky (out in the country, without streetlight glare), you might be able to spot it naked eye.

  28. @Chip–

    @Lis: I hardly think it’s an unpopular opinion that making the franchise dependent on military-based service would have horrible results — especially not in our part of the country. The idea of the franchise depending on more-generalized national service does get noised about occasionally, but not very loudly — and most of the suggestions I’ve heard depend on being physically able, which is a step backward from one of the few good points (IMO) in the novel.

    Not what I said, and not what I meant.

    My “unpopular opinion” is that Verhoeven gave us an excellent and entertaining satire of the likely results of what Heinlein actually put on the page, rather than what was in his head.

    Just look at this discussion, which is far more temperate and polite than many I’ve seen. For instance, in the book, it’s completely clear that only fairly narrowly defined military service counted. Logistical services on which a functional military absolutely depends, we’re told, don’t need to be part of the military, shouldn’t be counted as military, and are filled by commercial civlian services.(Heinlein did not live to see the travesty created by even partial implementation of this, in the Bush/Cheney administration. He’d have been appalled.) He said later, and insisted it was in the book, that anyone who signed up, if they had the commitment, would be found a job that would count as federal service. But it wasn’t in the book. Nothing that didn’t meet a relatively narrow definition of military service was out, and wasn’t becoming a citizen.

    I believe that Heinlein intended what he says he wrote, and may well have believed that that’s what he really wrote. I’ve also read that he wrote the book in a white-hot rage in response to political events. If that’s correct, it might explain why what he wrote didn’t get the rational thought he would otherwise have given it, and didn’t fully match his intentions.

    The Verhoeven movie, no matter how much some fans don’t like it, is an excellent adaptation of what Heinlein wrote, not of what he meant to write.

  29. 14) Patrick Stewart was also featured in the SF / Horror movie Lifeforce which came out in 1984. It seems Sir Pat was almost destined for genre roles …

  30. @Lis Carey:

    For instance, in the book, it’s completely clear that only fairly narrowly defined military service counted. Logistical services on which a functional military absolutely depends, we’re told, don’t need to be part of the military, shouldn’t be counted as military, and are filled by commercial civlian services.

    Yes. As I recall, even the doctor who works on the troop transport that takes Johnny into enemy territory is not military, and not eligible for the franchise.

    @bill: Thanks. I won’t disagree with any of Gerrold’s opinions, but I will nitpick him slightly – in the book (which is what Gerrold is talking about) Johnny is not from Buenos Aires. Johnny’s mother is on vacation there when the Bugs attack (Johnny assumes his father was there too because his father would “never send Mother on a trip that long by herself.”

  31. Happy Birthday, Chip!

    and Yay title credit! Thanks, Mike!

    Im surprised Sir Patrick is older than Ford, but I guess thats bc the latter was present earlier (for me at least)

    Re: Starship Troopers: When I watched in the cinema two rows in front of me was a man who audible mumbling “what s*t is this? every couple of minutes and then left about half in the movie. 🙂

  32. Speaking of Heinlein, today is Bastille Day – birthday of Manuel Garcia O’Kelly-Davis, hero of the Lunar Revolution.

  33. (3) Count me among the people who saw the satire when I saw the movie in its first run at a theater. It’s a tricky sort of satire though – the kind that if you like the political theory and/or glorify the military would be hard to see as satire. Verhoeven’s satire tends to be of the type that depicts something as stupid or horrifying rather than funny.

    I went to the movie with several film & TV industry types and everyone I was with understood it as satire, but most of us thought it didn’t quite work even as satire – as did some of the reviewers, if I recall correctly. I was subsequently surprised at the view that came to prevail later of the movie being a straight action adventure. I wonder if the video marketing contributed to that view, as the film was usually included in the action section (which sold better) rather than some other section.

    I agree with gottacook that it would be a tricky book to adapt unless you drop a lot of the political theory. If you actually made a straight action military adventure (which I don’t think Verhoeven did) without questioning the premise, then it would be possible. I don’t think that would be a good idea, mind, as I think the premised political theory would immediately lead to the military equivalent of a police state in real life.

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