Pixel Scroll 7/14/18 Did You Feed Them After Midnight? Well, I Gave Them Some Pixels

(1) STOKERCON 2020 AWARDED TO UK. The Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in the UK for the first time in 2020.

The Horror Writers Association is very happy to announce that the 2020 StokerCon™ will be held April 16-19 at the historic Royal and Grand Hotels in Scarborough, England. For the first time, HWA’s annual gathering will be held outside of the USA, but will continue to incorporate such popular StokerCon programming as Horror University, the Final Frame Short Film Competition, the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference and the presentation of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®. HWA’s President Lisa Morton noted: “HWA is committed to celebrating horror around the world, so I’m especially pleased that our fifth annual StokerCon will be held in the UK, where we have such a committed, strong chapter.” More information on StokerCon UK, including website and ticket sales portal, will be announced soon.

(2) BRADBURY MURAL. The Chicago Tribune interviews the creator: “Artist behind Ray Bradbury mural in Waukegan hopes his work will inspire kids who don’t have access to art”.

The little boy wore white-framed sunglasses, his stance confident as he stared into the sun.

Everett Reynolds, a 23-year-old Waukegan resident, stood on a stepladder, adding detail and depth to one of the boy’s hands.

The boy, wearing a homemade astronaut suit with a matching backpack made with two-liter bottles, was the center of Reynolds’ original concept for the mural, which he’s been painting on the side of the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road.

“I wanted to put up something that symbolized forward thinking and to dream big,” he said….

Everett Reynolds, a Waukegan artist, paints a mural Thursday, July 12, on the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road. The mural aims to inspire kids “to dream big” and pays tribute to Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. (Emily K. Coleman / News-Sun)

(3) YA HORROR. The Horror Writers Association has revived its YA blog. The first installment, “Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael”, features interviews with author Bonny Becker and the appropriately-named illustrator Mark Fearing.

Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every other Thursday for new articles and interviews. Managing members Ally Russell, Mac Childs, and Shanna Heath have each graduated from Children’s Literature professional programs, and are eager to let you pick (not eat) their brains about Young Horror.

Future Young Horror feature topics include: weekly writing prompts; best horror picture/board books; author Q&A’s and podcast episodes; diseases in horror tips and tricks; secrets of a horror-loving children’s librarian; why write short-form horror for kids and teens; and more.

(4) VENERABLE AUDIENCE. James Davis Nicoll flips the script in “Old People Read New SFF: Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia”.

For the second entry in Old People Read New SFF, I chose Xia Jia’s Tongtong’s Summer. I selected it because of the authors in Ken Liu’s exemplary anthology Invisible Planets, Xia Jia’s skillful combination of fantasy and science fiction—what the author called porridge fiction—was the fiction I liked best. Of the three Xia Jia works on offer in Invisible Planets, Tongtong’s Summer (available here) was by far my favourite. I grant “I liked it so surely my readers will too,” generally blew up in my face over on the Young People of the project but if there’s anything experiences teaches me, it is that I don’t learn from experience! Surely the Old People will like this example of recent speculative fiction! After all, I did.

(5) LESSONS FROM SPACE. As part of their One Strange Rock series, National Geographic has published an interview with Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who holds the record for most cumulative days (879) spent in space.

Q: What can we learn from the way the space station is run?

A: During the last 20 years, I’ve been working in an international project. I visited the U.S. several times per year. Canada, Europe, Japan—all the countries that participated in this project. I have lots of friends. And being in space, flying above, we knew that whatever the situation is, we knew that the life of your friend depends upon you, too.

The major thing, actually, that I have gained during space training was friendship. I started it in 1989, the end of Cold War, and our first project was the Mir shuttle project. We started to meet with the Americans and European space people. And then ISS project, it has brought us even closer to each other. And we are tied up so tightly that we can’t live in space without each other.

This is probably my best discovery, that the people of different nations, from different countries, under very severe conditions, can work very successfully, can be friendly all the time, understand each other, though their situations are sometimes really stressful.

But there’s something wrong in the fact that only such difficulties as I’ve just mentioned unite people. This is wrong. There should be something else.

(6) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. Vice headline: “This Bizarre Monument Is All That Will Remain of Humanity in 4,000 Years”. Sub-head: “Jacques André-Istel has written the history of the world on stone in the middle of the desert.”

Just across the California border from Yuma, Arizona, lies the town of Felicity, established in 1986 by now 89-year-old Jacques André-Istel. Pretty much the only reason you’d ever visit the town is to see another creation of his, the Museum of History in Granite.

The outdoor museum is made up of a series of 100 foot-long granite panels engraved with a history of civilization as a record for future generations, sorted into categories like History of California and History of Humanity. According to Istel, they’re designed to last for 4,000 years, to serve as a record of our time for future beings, whether from Earth or elsewhere.

(7) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET FURRY. At Green Man Review, Cat Rambo branches out: “An Armload of Fur and Leaves”.

In the last year or so, I found a genre that hadn’t previously been on my radar, but which I really enjoy: furry fiction. Kyell Gold had put up his novel Black Angel on the SFWA member forums, where members post their fiction so other members have access to it when reading for awards, and I enjoyed it tremendously. The novel, which is part of a trilogy about three friends, each haunted in their own way, showed me the emotional depth furry fiction is capable of and got me hooked. Accordingly, when I started reviewing for Green Man Review, I put out a Twitter call and have been working my way through the offerings from several presses.

Notable among the piles are the multiplicity by T. Kingfisher, aka Ursula Vernon, and two appear in this armload. Clockwork Boys, Clocktaur War Book One (Argyll Productions, 2017) is the promising start to a fantasy trilogy featuring a lovely understated romance between a female forger and a paladin, while Summer in Orcus (Sofawolf Press, cover and interior art by Lauren Henderson) is aimed at younger readers and will undoubtedly become one of those magical books many kids will return to again and again, until Vernon is worshipped by generations and prepared to conquer the world. Honestly, I will read anything Kingfisher/Vernon writes, and highly recommend following her on Twitter, where she is @UrsulaV….

(8) JENSON OBIT. Oscar-nominated visual effects artist George Jenson (1930-2018) died May 25. The Hollywood Reporter profiled his career: “George Jenson, Illustrator on ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Return of the Jedi,’ Dies at 87”.

George Jenson, an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist, illustrator and art director who worked on such films as Close Encounters of the Third KindReturn of the Jedi and Everybody’s All-American, has died. He was 87.

Jenson died May 25 in Henderson, Nevada, of complications from melanoma, publicist Rick Markovitz announced.

A native of Canada who specialized in science fiction, Jenson received his Oscar nomination for his visual effects efforts on the 1984 film 2010, Peter Hyams’ sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Jenson was hired by Steven Spielberg and served as the director’s production illustrator on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979), then worked on such films as 9 to 5 (1980), Looker (1981), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), Christine (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Red Dawn (1984).

(9) PERRY OBIT. Occasional genre actor Roger Perry died July 12: “Roger Perry, Actor on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Munsters’ and ‘The Facts of Life,’ Dies at 85”.

Also, on a 1965 episode of CBS’ The Munsters, Perry played a young man with admirable intentions who’s out to rescue the beautiful niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) from a band of ghouls. However, they are, of course, members of her loving family.

On the big screen, Perry appeared in not one but two Count Yorga movies; was a doctor in the infamous Ray Milland and Rosey Grier classic, The Thing With Two Heads (1972); and played the father of Linda Blair’s flautist character in the musical drama Roller Boogie (1979).

On the first-season Star Trek episode “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” which debuted in January 1967, Perry starred as Capt. John Christopher, an Air Force pilot in the 1960s who is suddenly transported aboard the Enterprise in the future.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 14 – Joel Silver, 66. Producer of, among many projects, Weird Science, Streets Of Fire, Predator and Predator 2, Demolition ManTales from the Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt animated series, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes franchises, V for Vendetta and an apparent forthcoming reboot of Logan’s Run.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Rudin, 60. Producer of the forthcoming Justice League Dark live action film (this being Warner, there’s already a splendid animated one) plus Annihilation, The Addams Family Values, Jennifer 8, The Truman ShowA Series of Unfortunate Events, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs to name some of his work.
  • Born July 14 – Jackie Earle Haley, 57. Roles in RoboCop,  Watchmen and A Nightmare on Elm Street; series work in The Planet Of The Apes, The Tick, Human Target, Valley of the Dinosaurs and Preacher.
  • Born July 14 – Matthew Fox, 52. Lost and Lost: Missing Pieces, other genre work includes World War Z, Speed Racer and the Haunted series.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Porter, 39. Roles in Scorpion and Caprica, the X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and myriad genre video games.
  • Born July 14 – Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events,  Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, also appeared in Once Upon a Time, War for the Planet Of The Apes, Android Employed, Supernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LIFE EXPECTANCY OF COMICS. The Los Angeles Times’ Geoff Boucher analyzes why “Superheroes are thriving in movies and on TV — but comic books lag behind”.

Few people in Hollywood have more history with comic books adaptations than Michael Uslan, who began writing comic books in the 1970s and used that expertise as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Batman,” the 1989 hit that launched a new generation of superhero movies. Uslan recalled recently that top Marvel Comics executives treated him to a lavish Manhattan meal after the movie stirred fan interest in all comics and gave Marvel a hefty spike in sales.

“That was the case for years, big superhero movies brought new fans to comics, but it’s not the case now,” Uslan said. “The biggest comic book movies now have little or zero impact on the comics sales. The movies aren’t rescuing the comics; they’re replacing them. So now I really worry about comics. Any entertainment medium that can’t connect with new generations, doesn’t it have one foot in the grave?”

(13) 55 YEARS AGO. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Lucas celebrates a Presidential visit: “[July 14, 1963] JFK gets a Ph.D.”.

I really wish I had been able to be there.  Fortunately my friend in San Diego came through again, and I’ve been drooling over the prints and tape she sent.  She was at the commencement ceremonies on the 6th of June at San Diego State College (SDSC) when President John F. Kennedy was presented with an honorary doctorate in the Aztec Bowl.  Kennedy is one of my favorite people, and I look forward to voting for him when I vote in my first presidential election next year….

Well that’s staying in character.

(14) RESCUE ANIMAL. His employer went out of business, and he almost ended up in the street: “Giant Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe starts second career at children’s hospital”.

Geoffrey the Giraffe, the 16-foot-tall fiberglass Toys R Us mascot, has made a move to a new home less than two weeks after the retailer’s U.S. toy stores closed their doors.

At one point, the future of Geoffrey — about as tall as a real male giraffe — was in doubt as the 70-year-old company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated operations, including its corporate headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Because of Geoffrey’s size and the cost associated with transportation and installation, the company struggled to find someone to buy him.

No one made a bid.

As the June 30 deadline to clear out and clean up drew closer, the Toys R Us liquidation adviser, Joseph Malfitano of Boulder, Colorado, bought the giraffe and paid $10,000 to have Geoffrey packed and shipped the 50 miles here to Bristol-Meyers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Malfitano thought a children’s hospital would be an appropriate home for the beloved mascot.

(15) BET THE UNDER. It’s not being overlooked anymore: “In Ireland, Drought And A Drone Revealed The Outline Of An Ancient Henge”.

A drone flight and a lingering dry spell have exposed a previously unknown monument in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, forgotten for thousands of years and long covered by crops — which, struggling to cope with a lengthy drought, finally revealed the ancient footprint.

Photographer and author Anthony Murphy discovered the site. He was flying a drone near Newgrange, a famous prehistoric stone monument in County Meath, on Tuesday, taking pictures of the known archaeological attractions. Then he saw something strange — a perfect circle, etched in the color of the crops, in an otherwise unremarkable field.

Murphy runs the website Mythical Ireland (also the name of his latest book), which focuses on the megalithic monuments of the Boyne Valley. He knew the local sites well — every passage tomb, every banked enclosure, every archaeological dig. And he’d been flying drones here for months.

He’d never seen this.

(16) THIS JOB ISN’T EASY. Like you need teeny tiny branding irons…. BBC tells how “Source of cosmic ‘ghost’ particle revealed”.

Step One: Catch a neutrino

It all starts with IceCube, a highly sensitive detector buried about two kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice, near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

“In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors,” explains Dr Susan Cartwright, a particle physicist at the University of Sheffield.

Measuring cosmic neutrinos against those created closer to home is, she told BBC News, “like trying to count fireflies in the middle of a firework display”.

(17) THE TWO TOWERS. Long ad for a short clip of a bit of space history: “Nasa launch towers demolished in Florida”.

The two towers were used to assemble rockets for missions to Mars from 1957 until 2011.

(18) WHEDON’S NEXT. According to Variety — “HBO Lands Joss Whedon Sci-Fi Series ‘The Nevers’”.

HBO has given a series order to “The Nevers,” a science-fiction drama from Joss Whedon. The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.

Whedon will serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner.

(19) MAN OF THE CLOTH. In Don Glut’s new Frankenstein film, Edward L. Green plays a Priest. Ed says, “While not as cool as a trading card, I guess ‘Father Florescu’ is worth his own postcard.” Order them from Pecosborn Press — “Tales Of Frankenstein Postcards (package Of 8)”.

(20) BE THE BEST VILLAIN. A new board game, Villainous (2–6 players, ages 10 and up), from Wonder Forge will let you play as one of six famous Disney villains (“Disney’s Villainous Board Game Debuts With Classic Characters”). The $35 game is expected to be in stores August 1. Quoting an io9 article:

In the game you can play as one of six infamous Disney villains: Captain Hook, Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, Prince John, or the Queen of Hearts. The actual gameplay and goals mirror the events each character experienced in their corresponding movies: Peter PanThe Little MermaidSleeping BeautyAladdinRobin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland.

There aren’t any interactions between the various villains; each player remains on their own “realm” gameboard so it’s not like Captain Hook and Maleficent could team up to vanquish Robin Hood. […] But board games are really only fun when you can frustrate your fellow players, so Villainous includes hero cards featuring the protagonists that, at least in the original movies, foiled these villains’ plans. The hero cards allow other players to make it more difficult for your villain’s scheme to come to fruition […]

 

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Edward L. Green, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

80 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/14/18 Did You Feed Them After Midnight? Well, I Gave Them Some Pixels

  1. first!

    [I believe George Jepson’s last name is misspelled iin the header]

  2. Rob Thornton: [I believe George Jepson’s last name is misspelled iin the header]

    You look exactly like the proofreader I’ve been needing!

  3. Those granite panels will end up recycled into other structures, just like the panels covering the pyramids. Or any number of other ancient monuments. (At least they won’t be burned for lime like Greek and Roman statues.)

    (Or some iconoclast will smash them up as soon as some of the history depicted falls out of favor.)

  4. @ Mike Glyer:

    You look exactly like the proofreader I’ve been needing!

    Once I learn how to spell “in,” I’ll be ready!

    [and fifth!]

  5. “Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.”

    There’s a name I haven’t seen here in quite some time

  6. (13) Huh. Calculating back, that would have been at the end of my father’s first year as a professor at San Diego State. I wonder if he attended that ceremony. I’ll have to ask him…though of course Kennedy’s legend has grown much larger subsequently. It might not have seemed a bit deal at the time.

  7. Meredith: Brian Z’s been commenting occasionally. Nothing trollish.

    Not in the ones Mike has released from moderation, no. I shudder to think what hasn’t been getting through moderation.

  8. (2) BRADBURY MURAL.

    That is a fantastic mural, and it’s so cool that this project was at the artist’s own initiative (but I hope that he got help for the supplies from the city or for grants).

  9. (12) I suspect comics may be destined to serve as testing grounds for new characters and arcs, to see if they work in that less-expensive medium before being developed for film.

    @Paul: The stuff left on the moon isn’t protected by atmosphere, which leaves it vulnerable to what you might call “cosmic weathering.” For instance, the Apollo 11 flag is no longer red or blue; it’s been bleached white by the sun.

    If you want something to last and be discovered by future generations, your best bet is probably going to be to bury it in an easily-located spot. The middle of the Tycho crater, perhaps…

  10. (4) VENERABLE AUDIENCE.

    That is a really nice story. As some of the OPRNSFFs pointed out, it may not be a revolutionary story, but it’s beautifully done, and is a wonderful reminder that older people have a wealth of knowledge and experience to contribute, and that their lives continue to be meaningful despite advancing age (something which is often forgotten in our culture of youth worship).

  11. Can I really be caught up on File 770 posts? Yes, I can! I can be caught up! And I am!

    “And then there were 770.”

    @Various: I’ve seen Brian Z’s name attached to the odd Pixel Scroll title here and there for quite a while.

    SF Listening: I’m on the last book of Rachel Aaron’s superb “The Legend of Eli Monpress” and I still love this series a ton! So much is going on, I really wonder how she’ll wrap it all up in this book. Granted, it’s almost 19 hours and the longest one yet. Also, looking at the audiobook release dates, I now understand why the last two (especially #4) sound different, despite having the same narrator; the last two were released (thus, presumably recorded) like 4-5 years after the first three. I liked some of the voices (e.g., the ghost hound) better in the first three, but Luke Daniels is still doing an excellent job.

    Random Thought: If you go to SD Comic-Con, your info will be sold. No shock, right? It’s a huge commercial enterprise, after all. Still, I was taken aback to get an e-mail (as webmaster for a small SFF club across the country) asking if we wanted to buy the attendee list. Uh, no, and why did whoever (broker for SDCC? rando company who bought the list to resell it?) think we would want it?! Clearly no research behind the e-mail; I’m guessing it was just a scattershot e-mail to many SFal web sites. But it’s bizarre, given we’re just a small club that does local SFal social events and that’s it.

  12. Kendall: If you go to SD Comic-Con, your info will be sold… I was taken aback to get an e-mail… asking if we wanted to buy the attendee list.

    I suspect that will cease as soon as a European attendee of SDCC gets wind of it and files a GDPR suit in a European court.

  13. I suspect comics may be destined to serve as testing grounds for new characters and arcs, to see if they work in that less-expensive medium before being developed for film.

    The writer of the article is committing a fallacy of narrow focus.

    Comics — in the long running periodical format — are selling about the same numbers they were 20 years ago, though spread over more publishers and more titles. This is often interpreted as looming disaster, even though other magazines have seen much greater drops.

    But the idea that the movies don’t sell comics is just silly; they do. What they don’t sell is periodical comics. They sell book-format comics, where the unfamiliar reader can be assured of getting a more-or-less complete story arc, and don’t have to wonder about where to dive in. And they’re selling digital-format comics.

    So DC and Marvel aren’t worried about vanishing any time soon, even if they weren’t providing source material for the movie and TV industry. They’re trying to figure out how to best feed the growing profit streams and what to do about SKU declines in periodicals.

    But they’re making lots of money overall; their overall sales in periodicals are more thinly spread, but they have new revenue streams that are growing, year after year. It’s just that people only look at the one format, and don’t think, “You know, maybe people who used to read Spider-Man in single issues are now buying the trade paperbacks instead…”

  14. (4) That was my favorite story in the anthology, too — lovely, bittersweet, and true to all the characters.

    (6) He’s just asking for yahoos with dynamite, right?

    (7) Wasn’t “Clocktaur War” only 2 books? Also I’m making everyone read “Summer in Orcus” and I need to find some children to give it to. So glad Oor Wombat put the whole thing in the Hugo packet in every possible format. It went onto my nomination list at less than halfway through but I figured it wouldn’t make it (b/c my luck runs that way) so yay. I didn’t think of “Clocktaur War” as furry fiction since the main characters are humans of various colors, but some gnoles are great characters.

  15. Lurkertype: Wasn’t “Clocktaur War” only 2 books?

    Yes, it’s a duology, and I’m planning on nominating it as one work in the Hugo Best Novel category next year.

  16. 4) That’s a good story! Yes, it has some similarities to older works, but there’s a big difference between reading about robotic caretakers in the 1950s and reading about them here and now, when telepresence is already a thing — the concept has moved from far-future to near-future SF. What’s the actual publication date?

    7) I’ve picked up a few things by Kyell Gold at various cons, and can recommend them as a good writer.

    @ Rev. Bob: On Earth, a bomb shelter in the middle of the Laurentian Shield would do reasonably well.

    I was out at a local comics/game shop’s Ladies’ Night this evening and picked up a couple of comics with a fascinating concept: Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica. What they had was issues 4 and 5, and I’m not sure if that’s the end of the arc or not (because I haven’t yet read them), but OMG what a crossover!

  17. (20) BE THE BEST VILLAIN:

    A Disney Villain game sounds delightful. But my eyebrows furrowed on “Prince John”.

    A villain spotlight? Prince John? Really?

  18. In other news, I’m so far behind on Hugo reading it isn’t even funny. In other other news, so of course I got a stack of books for my birthday! LOL.

    I’ll skip the long-winded backstory, but in honor of the gift-givers (my spouse and my parents) and the rockin’ authors who wrote these books, I hope no one minds me listing the presents to share the book love: Lost Gods by Micah Yongo, Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory, Paradox Bound by Peter Clines, One Way by S.J. Morden, The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards, and Adrift by Rob Boffard. Squee! I’m super-looking forward to all of these. 😀

    I wonder how long a vacation I could wrangle from my boss, so I could stay home and read 16 hours a day (computerish devices off, regular cups of tea, possibly using Hermione’s Time Turner).

    Anyway, I welcome suggestions for what to read first. I have Hugo reading to do, as mentioned, but after the voting deadline, I want to start one of my new gifts. 🙂 The journey of Mount TBR begins with a single—– uh, with a bunch o’ books, apparently.

    [ETA: I realized I’m ready to vote-or-partially-vote in more categories than I thought, so I updated my ballot just now. Progress?]

  19. Lee: a bomb shelter in the middle of the Laurentian Shield would do reasonably well

    I did not know about cratons or the Laurentian Shield. Consider me one of Today’s Lucky 10,000. 😀

  20. Kendall: Lost Gods by Micah Yongo, Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory, Paradox Bound by Peter Clines, One Way by S.J. Morden, The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards, and Adrift by Rob Boffard.

    I gave One Way 4 of 5 stars. It’s a locked-room mystery taking place in a Mars start-up colony. Very well-researched; possibly suffers slightly from being very similar to, but not being (IMO) quite as exciting as, Retrograde.

    The Boffard is in the upper decile of my TBR list, which means that it is queued for sometime in the next decade after the Worldcon trip next month. 🙄

  21. @ JJ: It’s amazing the things you can pick up from reading SF. I found out about the Laurentian Shield by reading Vernor Vinge’s Marooned in Realtime. Which, BTW, is a really good mystery crossover.

  22. @Lee:

    Now I feel either really old or that my references are far more obscure than I thought they were…

  23. Kurt Busiek says Comics — in the long running periodical format — are selling about the same numbers they were 20 years ago, though spread over more publishers and more titles. This is often interpreted as looming disaster, even though other magazines have seen much greater drops.

    Actually the sales by DC, Image and Marvel as a percentage of total sales has stayed constant by quite some years now, averaging around seventy percent. Myriad other publishers led by Dark Horse account for the rest of the sales. And numbers are up but not as much as everyone thinks they should be.

    I don’t buy many myself anymore as I use the Marvel Unlimited streaming service to keep up with the handful of titles I read for that publisher, and I’ll likely try the DCU streaming service to see how that is when it’s live.

  24. I have given Space Opera a try, and have DNFed it 20% in. If you enjoy heaping helpings of adjectives, adverbs, metaphors, and other hyperbolic lingual extravangances with only a modicum of story and character development — and/or Eurovision — you will probably enjoy this. Sadly, it’s not my thing, as I would have liked to have enjoyed it as much as some other Filers report having done.

    Greg Egan’s novella Phoresis is good; it’s mostly a Hard SF thought experiment of colony inhabitants on a dual-planet system, which takes place over generations. It’s very interesting, but does not have much in the way of character development or plot other than “how to get to the other place” and “how to survive”.

    I enjoyed Sue Burke’s Semiosis. Like Phoresis and Noumenon, it’s a story of colonists which takes place over generations, on a planet with intelligent plant life and hostile alien colonists. (Sounds kind of bizarre, but the plant stuff is well-researched, and she totally makes it work.) People with a special interest in horticulture or agriculture will probably find it fascinating.

    Tristan Palmgren’s Quietus is very good. It’s kind of an Inceptiony-version of Willis’ Doomsday Book with AIs so powerful as to be nearly omnipotent, and a mystery.

    I guess it’s back to The Way of Kings. (TEAM SHALLAN!)

  25. 17. The two towers were used to assemble rockets for missions to Mars from 1957 until 2011.

    Interesting phrasing. The first attempted launch to Mars didn’t occur until 1960 in the Soviet Union, with the first US Mars launch attempt in 1964 (with a successful launch 23 days later), so while the tower(s) may have stood and been used to assemble rockets as early as 1957, it/they weren’t used to assemble rockets for a Mars launch until 7 years later.

  26. Welp, I finally finished reading Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon this weekend; I’ve been dipping in and out of it for a month or so now.

    Unfortunately, for me, this was mostly a tedious slog. 🙁

    A lot of the discussion of Gnomon bills it as a novel about a panopticon state, which has gotten total comfort and security in return for the complete loss of privacy. This… is pretty misleading. The novel isn’t about that almost at all. Instead, it builds up a massive labyrinth of dubious memories, constructed personalities, and the power of narrative. The panopticon state is mostly the framing device; peeling through the layers of the labyrinth is where the story’s actual focus lies.

    It’s very ambitious, and Harkaway is a talented writer. But this is also a 700-page novel which throws most of its weight on “Be patient; everything will be clear by the end.” It spends its first half introducing new story strands of questionable relevance, with the only connection being a very vague assurance that “these are connected, somehow.” Unfortunately, by the time we reached “the end,” I was entirely exhausted by the book, and by that point, I honestly didn’t care. Having finished it, I’m still not really sure what happened, or what climactic punchlines were meant to excite me.

    I’d dearly love a Cliff’s-Notes version of the book that might make it easier for me to see if I missed anything, or what the bare-bones structure is meant to be.

    I’ll also note that a lot of the impetus for reading Gnomon was that two of the Sharkes (Foz Meadows and Gary K. Wolfe) named it among their Sharke Read List picks. Alas, Sharke activity seems much thinner this year, and it’s no longer clear to me that either of them will be writing about Gnomon. That’s disappointing to me in more ways than one 🙁

  27. I read Gnomon and liked it a lot – it got one of my nomination slots – and, well, obviously I found it worth the effort. The panopticon state thing is central to it, in the end; the various alternative narratives actually wind up giving (admittedly, really elaborately obscure) clues to what is happening in the real world. And there is a real world, despite initial appearances – we’re not talking about a Dick or Priest style multi-layered variable reality here.

    (Hmm. Or are we? Discuss.)

    Would’ve been nice, I agree, to see what the Sharkes made of it. (If you’ve read the book, you know why it would be very appropriate to have input from a Sharke.)

  28. @Steve: I would be delighted to hear more from anyone who feels like they’ve actually decoded the thing 🙂

    Would you maybe tell me what some of those clues are (ROT-13’d, or possibly by simply immersing me in the memory of reading them)?

  29. @JJ: Thanks for the mention of the Egan novella – I’ll look for that one.

  30. So Pokemon Go is constantly warning me about the extreme weather and wonder if I’m safe. It is 30C/86F. I shudder when I think about what would happen if Mike started the app.

    (Sweden seems to have a bit different idea of what extreme weather is. Above 30C is a warning of the second degree, whatever that means)

  31. @Kurt Busiek

    The writer of the article is committing a fallacy of narrow focus.

    Comics — in the long running periodical format — are selling about the same numbers they were 20 years ago, though spread over more publishers and more titles. This is often interpreted as looming disaster, even though other magazines have seen much greater drops.

    But they’re making lots of money overall; their overall sales in periodicals are more thinly spread, but they have new revenue streams that are growing, year after year. It’s just that people only look at the one format, and don’t think, “You know, maybe people who used to read Spider-Man in single issues are now buying the trade paperbacks instead…”

    Isn’t that a bit disingenuous? Sure about the same number of units are sold but as spread out as they are profitability is down. And a lot of those units come from continually restarting low selling series, variant covers, and stuff that stays right on the edge of cancellation.

  32. @Rev Bob

    Of course if you want it to be found again in the future you’d have to make it stand out somehow. With a anomalous magnetic field perhaps…

    @Hampus

    Anything above 25C is enough to send the Scots into heat paroxysms.

  33. Yuma, Arizona is 141 feet above current sea level, so if everything melts, all of this area will be under the Pacific Ocean far sooner than 4,000 years from now.

    Maybe fish will be able to read by then.

  34. All these scrolls are yours except your poppa’s. Attempt no readings there.

  35. @Hampus Here in Seattle, we don’t usually use Canadian Degrees to measure temperature, but a quick check online tells me that even on the hottest days of the year (early August), 30 C is in the top 10% for us. Most houses here don’t have air-conditioning.

    That said, the high today is supposed to be 31, and there have been so many warm years in a row now that Eric and I are thinking of spending the money to have air-conditioning installed. I’m not sure if I can blame Global Warming, but I do anyway. 🙂

  36. @4: given the ~endorsement of the elderly (as described in comments here and there — I haven’t read yet) I wonder what Nicoll’s crew of young readers would make of it.

    @15: there are many Geoffreys; I haven’t seen reports about the one built out of Legos in the Boston area’s newest synthetic downtown (“Assembly Square”), but I’m guessing it may stay due to being more connected to a local Lego store.

    @Steven H. Silver: feel free to send the Beeb a correction; they are weaker on materials older than their reporters (I had discussions with them about the Cessna 172 and its predecessors) but quite happy to act on firm info.

    @Hampus: I would love to know details of what a second-degree warning means. 30C could easily be debilitating if accompanied by high humidity (which I suspect it would be in Sweden).

  37. (19) MAN OF THE CLOTH: Congrats on becoming merchandise, Ed! I’m sure the action figure or mini-fig is not far away!

    Regarding Space Opera, I almost DNFed it at the same point but because of the Filer recs I continued on and am almost halfway through. I’m still beleaguered, assaulted, harassed by the sentence structures but my interest in the characters and outcome have increased enough I think I’ll probably machete my way through the rest of the word jungle and finish it.

  38. Greg, Clip: I’ve never seen a house with air-conditioning lin Sweden. Office buildings have them, but never homes.

    Humidity is usually not that bad, but I guess it depends what you compare to. Right now it is about half of that in Los Angeles with the same temperature.

  39. Turns out second-degree warning is the highest level of warning with regards to temperature. Risk for drought, fires and health. Given if temperature is above 30C more than five days.

  40. Humidity makes a huge difference. I mostly grew up in the desert. 110 to 120 F was pretty much a daily affair in summer. Which is hot but then I did boot camp and some service schooling in Florida. 90 degrees F and 90% humidity is hotter. There we actually had red flag and black flag days with limits on activity, salt pills, mandatory water breaks, etc. All from many years experience of the base with heat stress related injuries.

  41. @JJ: Semiosis and Quietus are on my list to try. I hadn’t heard of Phoresis before, so thanks for mentioning it; it sounds (despite drawbacks) like my kind of book!

    @Hampus Eckerman: 86F?! Meh. 😉 I’m not saying I like mid-80s, but that’s summer around here and I’m used to it. And it does get humid here. 🙁

    @Greg Hullender: I couldn’t live without AC, but we live in very different areas. 😉 And it’s all (well, partially) in what you’re used to.

    @Anyone: Get your vote in for what I should read first after Hugo voting closes. 😛

  42. Magewolf asks Isn’t that a bit disingenuous? Sure about the same number of units are sold but as spread out as they are profitability is down. And a lot of those units come from continually restarting low selling series, variant covers, and stuff that stays right on the edge of cancellation.

    Ok it must be stressed that neither DC or Marvel needs to actually make money, any money, as they’re embedded in much larger companies that make so much money off film and series that what they make on selling actual comics is pretty a rounding error compared to those revenues.

    I once sought out and read the DC Comics annual report and discovered that they claim gross revenues of less than ten million a year. Not bad but consider that a film, even one the critics consider a failure, can make hundreds of millions by the time all revenue streams are accounted for.

    So I wouldn’t worry too much about the apparent shakiness of their finances as it’s less of an issue than it appears to be.

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