Pixel Scroll 7/14/19 Scroll On, Pixel Off

(1) NEXT BOND. Metro reports “Lashana Lynch will be ‘introduced to Bond 25 audiences as the new 007’”.

Captain Marvel star Lashana Lynch’s role in Bond 25 will reportedly have audiences dropping their popcorn in shock. Lashana’s role has been kept underwraps but sources close to the production have now claimed that Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s rewrite of the script will see the 31-year-old be introduced to audiences as 007. Now that is a moment we can’t wait to see. James Bond fans will know that the spy retired at the end of Spectre and as Bond 25 opens he will be living a life of luxury in Jamaica.

(2) ONE DERN MINUTE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A good way to tote more reading during Worldcon travel, if you’ve worked your way through the Hugo reading… 3 months Kindle Unlimited for free.

Technically/arguably part of Prime Day, but (a) the offer is available through, I think, the end of July, and (b) it’s not a physical item, so if not ordered during Prime Day(s), arguably not breaking the Prime Day Boycott.

Available only to Amazon Prime members — and be sure to cancel before the 3 months are up unless you decide you want to then spend the regular $9.99/month

(3) USE THE BRAKES, LUKE. ComicBook.com sheds a little light on these helpful fans — “Star Wars Fans Direct Traffic With Lightsabers During New York Blackout”.

On Saturday night, a power failure in New York City left the West Side of Manhattan in the dark. Some of the city’s denizens became trapped in subway cars. Others had to navigate the roads of the city without the aid of streetlights or stoplights. Some good Samaritans took to the streets, using what light sources they could find to help direct traffic through the city. These included cell phones as well as lightsaber blades.

(4) I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY. It seems Attorney General William Barr’s father, Donald Barr, wrote a science fiction novel, Space Relations: “When all the galaxies are colonized, John Craig, a young space diplomat, is captured by interplanetary pirates and sold into slavery.”  But there’s more!  Donald Barr also hired Jeffrey Epstein to teach at the Dalton School, despite that fact that Epstein was 20 at the time and didn’t have a degree.  The news just gets stranger and stranger these days. Thread starts here.

(5) NOW OPEN TO TOURISTS. Los Angeles locals can check this out — “LA’s Wormhole To The Heavens Is High In The Angeles Forest — And Open To The Public”: LAist has the story.

For road bicyclists like me, reaching the summit of Mt. Wilson is a leg-breaking test of climbing endurance — the ride to the top is about 25 miles and 6,000 feet up from my home.

Once there, my only thought is filling up on water and heading downhill (which is a lot more fun). But now, there’s a good reason for all of us to stay a while, regardless of how we choose to get up there.

The mountain’s observatory complex, officially known as the Mount Wilson Observatory, recently opened the doors to its 100-inch telescope to the public for stargazing.

This summer on the summit there’s also an ongoing concert series, science lectures and astronomical events — with some programs tied to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. And you can even get a bite to eat at the appropriately named Cosmic Cafe.

(6) MORE SF COMING TO NETFLIX. Space.com is there when “Netflix Unveils 1st Trailers for Sci-Fi Series ‘Another Life'”. Airs beginning July 25.

The first trailers for the series, a teaser and full look, just debuted this week. 

Katee Sackhoff stars as Commander Niko Breckinridge in a no-nonsense role that she looks perfect for. Sackhoff is certainly no stranger to sci-fi, not only did she play Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace in “Battlestar Galactica,” but she also starred in “The Flash” and provided the voice for Bo-Katan Kryze in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels.”

The YouTube caption says:

When a mysterious alien Artifact lands on Earth, Commander Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) has to lead humanity’s first interstellar mission to its planet of origin, while her husband (Justin Chatwin) tries to make first contact with the artifact back on earth. Another Life explores the miracle of life, how precious life is in a universe mostly empty of it, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

  • The 1963 television series The Jimmy Dean Show gave Jim Henson and the Muppets their first national media exposure.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 14, 1904 Zita Johann. She’s best known for the lead performance in Karl Freund’s 1932 film, The Mummy which also featured Boris Karloff. She wouldn’t show in another horror film for another fifty-four years when she was in Raiders of the Living Dead as a Librarian. (Died 1993.)
  • Born July 14, 1906 Abner J. Gelula. One of the many authors* of Cosmos, a serialised novel that appeared first in Science Fiction Digest July 1933 and then has a really convoluted publication history that I won’t detail here. It was critiqued as  as “the world’s most fabulous serial,” “one of the unique stunts of early science fiction,”and conversely “a failure, miserable and near-complete.” The entire text, chapter by chapter, can be read here. (Died 1985.)

*To be precise, Earl Binder, Otto Binder. Arthur J. Burks,  John W. Campbell, Jr., Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Ralph Milne Farley, Francis Flagg, J. Harvey Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, M.D., Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, P. Schuyler Miller, Bob Olsen, Raymond A. Palmer, E. Hoffmann Price and Edward E. Smith. 

  • Born July 14, 1926 Harry Dean Stanton. My favourite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 14, 1939 George Slusser. He was a well-known science fiction scholar and critic. He wasn’t fond of the later work of Heinlein, but then who was? However, he wrote two books on him, Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land (1976) and The Classic Years of Robert A. Heinlein (1977). And more essays about him than I can possibly list here such as “Novellas (The Classic Years of Robert A. Heinlein)”. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 14, 1943 Christopher Priest, 76. This is the Birthday of the One and and True Christopher Priest. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound? 
  • Born July 14, 1949 Nick Bantock, 70. This is a bit of a puzzler for me. He’s the creator of The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and The Morning Star Trilogy, a series of faux letters and postcards telling a story between two individuals. ISFDB lists it as genre but I’ve never heard it described as such before. Who’s read it here? 
  • Born July 14, 1964 Jane Espenson, 55. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode. She was on the the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica. 
  • Born July 14, 1966 Brian Selznick, 53. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) ARRIVAL. ShoutFactory TV has The Prisoner series available for viewing. In color, no less. (OK, maybe you’re not old enough for that last part to be a big deal.) Click here — http://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/the-prisoner.

(11) FIELD TRIP. According to Newsweek, “Ancient Tree With Record of Earth’s Magnetic Field Reversal in Its Rings Discovered”.

An ancient tree that contains a record of a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field has been discovered in New Zealand. The tree—an Agathis australis, better known as its Maori name kauri—was found in Ngawha, on New Zealand’s North Island, during excavation work for the expansion of a geothermal power plant, stuff.nz reports.

The tree, which had been buried in 26 feet of soil, measures eight feet in diameter and 65 feet in length. Carbon dating revealed it lived for 1,500 years, between 41,000 and 42,500 years ago.

“There’s nothing like this anywhere in the world,” Alan Hogg, from New Zealand’s University of Waikato, told the website. “This Ngawha kauri is unique.”

The lifespan of the kauri tree covers a point in Earth’s history when the magnetic field almost reversed. At this time, the magnetic north and south went on an excursion but did not quite complete a full reversal…

(12) DRAFT EULOGY. Although it is well-known, this bit Apollo 11 history may be new to you: “The speech Richard Nixon would have given ‘in event of moon disaster’” in the Washington Post.

Safire’s undelivered speech lay hidden for nearly three decades before I found it. In the late 1990s, researching a book on America’s opening to China, I was rummaging through the archives of the Nixon administration (then in College Park, Md.) when my eyes suddenly fell on something I wasn’t looking for. It was a memo from Safire to White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman titled, “In event of moon disaster.”

The short text still brings tears to the eyes. It begins, “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.” It ends with the words, “For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

(13) ORDERING PIZZA IN KLINGON. Let Laughing Squid remind you about – “A 1994 ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Pizza Hut British TV Commercial Spoken Completely in Klingon”. (And they put out another in 1995, which you can view at the link.)

In 1994, Pizza Hut UK aired the very first non-English advert on British television stations. The scene featured three Klingons who looked like Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and only spoke in their native language. Luckily a compassionate employee was able to help them without words.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Lisa Godstein, Carl Slaughter, Stephenfrom Ottawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

72 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/14/19 Scroll On, Pixel Off

  1. (4) There are an astonishing number of novels like that available now. I try to avoid all of them. (Most are what I’d describe as Mary Sue, or, less often, Marty Stu. And about the quality you’d expect.)

  2. Thanks for the title credit. 🙂

    After I got laid off a few weeks ago (only to get a new position within hours after my first interview), I found myself in a comfort re-read of David Eddings’ Belgariad. This time around, I admired Eddings’ prose style for its shapeliness and style, and I noted that his characters were really trying to grasp the fantasy world from their point of view, and that was pretty worthy. Also, I finally noticed deliberate or unconscious homage to Lovecraft scattered in appropriate places.

    However, the Sexism Fairy made more than one visit to this series. Queens can lead as long as the men aren’t around, and the one female character who kicked massive ass throughout is rewarded with matrimony, with her father saying “she’s almost been a boy to me, now I should let her be a woman” or words to that effect,

    Still a decent read but it’s amazing what you see when the times change.

  3. Umm … re: #2 (One Dern Minute) – at no point does it say what the product Mr Dern is recommending, actually is.

  4. Damn, I’m glad you pointed that out. I haven’t done a very good job editing Dern’s contributions today.

    I’ve added the item now.

  5. (4) For those of us of a certain age, Space Relations was a pretty well known novel. Of course the titillating aspects were part of the appeal, but actually it was a pretty decent book. Barr published another novel, and also a couple of stories in F&SF.

    And just now I’m trying to understand why William Barr (for whom I have no brief, mind you, in fact I’m disgusted with his carrying water for Trump) should be condemned because his father wrote a novel that Dan Chiasson, likely not even having read it, thinks is questionable. Why don’t we confine ourselves to being angry at William Barr for the things he’s ACTUALLY DONE HIMSELF? There’s enough there, mind you!

  6. I don’t see William Barr being condemned. I see Donald Barr being scrutinized, which is appropriate given his decision to hire Jeffrey Epstein to teach at an elite school when he was 20 and had no college degree. It’s the first of many questionable associations people formed with Epstein over the years.

  7. I think it’s pretty naive to suggest that Dan Chiasson is suddenly up in arms about the association of an obscure academic/occasional SF writer who died in 2004 with Epstein. He’s up in arms because he can tar William Barr with the connection of his father to Epstein.

    It’s worse than that, though. The association with Epstein is icky, sure. But, no, what’s really bad is that Donald Barr actually wrote a Science Fiction novel (in 1973), about sex slavery. (In which the man was enslaved by the woman, but whatever.)

  8. @Rich Horton–Some people look at all the people connected to Trump, who have allegations of the kind of sexual misconduct against them that’s supposed to get you prosecuted, and the connections to Epstein which seem to keep expanding, which of course also include Donald Barr, and look at that novel, and wonder if what we know William Barr has done, is all there is. It’s a circle of people where it seems one might be less than fully trusted if you had a completely normal, consensual sex life.

    ETA: It’s not better if the man is the sex slave.

    Really. Donald Barr hired Epstein when he didn’t even have a degree, to teach at that school. You have to wonder what kind of environment William Barr grew up in.

  9. @8: Zita Johann did genre? Fascinating! I’d heard of her only as the first wife of John Houseman, who was (among many less ill-fated projects) Orson Welles’s ~organizer for the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast. Wikipedia reports that she also directed Don Juan in Hell, the only genre work I can think of by Shaw; said play was later directed by Houseman and toured my neighborhood, and I periodically kick myself for not having seen it.

    @8bis: I’d put A Dream of Wessex after The Prestige, and then probably a few other things in no order, as I found The Dream Archipelago unfinishable and Inverted World uncalled-for; he’s a strange enough writer that I’d expect widely-varying favorites.

    also also @8: there was never a working machine nearly as accomplished as the drawer in Hugo; I’d call it genre, amplified by the tribute to the first creator of film fantastika.

    @9: ouch.

    @11: wow.

  10. @Lis Carey — the list of people connected to Epstein certainly extends well outside people connected to Trump. (Bill Clinton, for one prominent example.)

    No, I didn’t think it was “better” that the man was the sex slave. I did think that actually reading the novel would be a pre-requisite to commenting on it. (That said, had Chiasson done so, I doubt he’d have changed his mind. The sexual politics of the novel are, as I recall (45 year old memories here, and I was only 14 or so when I read it, forgive me), hardly, er, virtuous.)

    Wondering about William Barr because of his father’s peccadillos is understandable, though a bit questionable. Really, lots of people with terrible fathers have become fine men. It’s fine to wonder why Donald Barr chose to hire a 20 year old Jeffrey Epstein as a teacher. It just seems a lot less fine to decide that because Donald Barr wrote a science fiction novel with kind of icky sexual politics we must decide that his son is totally messed up, which is the vibe I got from Chiasson’s thread. And, seriously, William Barr’s ACTUAL actions as DJT’s Attorney General, and his earlier actions, are in themselves worthy of condemnation. But when you muddy those waters with his father’s SF writing career — I personally think that weakens the case against the son.

    Finally, in a place like File 770, I confess I am a bit disappointed that people don’t even REMEMBER Space Relations, which really did get a lot of notice back when it first appeared.

  11. Oh wow, I totally did not recognize Katee Sackhoff in The Flash. It’s a silly show, but she makes a pretty good villain!

    Edit: but also nice to see her getting a meatier role.

  12. 7) We always enjoyed seeing Rowlf on the Jimmy Dean Show (we never missed that show). It was fun when he reappeared on The Muppets Show.

  13. 8) Was going to mention the incredibly obvious (that Harry Dean Stanton was also in Alien), but while looking him up in IMDB to verify whether he was Brett or Parker (he was Brett) I also found that, amongst other things, he was in an episode of The Jim Henson Hour entitled Monster Maker.

    And that got me to thinking how much Henson and/or Muppet stuff is currently unavailable (including the last couple seasons of The Muppet Show and various attempted Muppet Show revival series), and that made me sad.

    (Edited to say: Also a sort of response to #7, I now see.)

  14. @Rich Horton–It’s notvso much the connection to Epstein in isolation. It’s both the ever-expanding circle of people around Trump connected to Epstein, and the ever-expanding number of people around Trump who have credible accusations of serious sexual misconduct against them.

    There is not a similar pattern around Clinton, but if the evidence the prosecutors have now or are continuing to gather shows him to be involved, he needs to be locked up with the rest of them.

  15. (1) If this is true, a great many heads on the Internet (remember all the sexist whining about Mad Max: Fury Road?) are going to explode.

    (4) The description of this book would have put me off long before I got to the icky sex-slave bit. “When all the galaxies are colonized”? Really? All the 100-200 billion galaxies in the universe? (And even that may be a low-end estimate, judging from this.) I hate when writers say “galaxies” when they mean “solar systems,” and even colonizing all the solar systems would be stretching my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. (Admittedly, that may be just in the ad copy instead of the actual book, but it’s still an easily avoidable, off-putting mistake.)

  16. 11) Old logs
    Some info about ‘swamp kauri’ from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

    Swamp kauri has widespread scientific value.
    – It can help improve our understanding of the natural history of New Zealand.
    – Scientists use swamp kauri to study ancient ecosystems and climates, measure environmental change, improve radiocarbon dating, and to analyse extreme events.

    Some items made from swamp kauri are available for sale in NZ and overseas.

  17. I think it’s pretty naive to suggest that Dan Chiasson is suddenly up in arms about the association of an obscure academic/occasional SF writer who died in 2004 with Epstein. He’s up in arms because he can tar William Barr with the connection of his father to Epstein.

    I challenge you to point to anything Chiasson said in that Twitter thread condemning William Barr. You’re reading his mind and talking about the “vibe you got,” neither of which is very persuasive.

    There’s reason to wonder if Epstein had blackmail material on Donald Barr that got him the job at Dalton School. Any blackmail material on the father potentially could be used to blackmail family members who don’t want the secret out.

    Chiasson is one of many people asking questions about Donald Barr, and it isn’t just because of his corrupt son. Every person in Epstein’s creepy orbit is getting scrutiny. This is a good thing.

  18. 8) If we’re reading Priest, I’d like to put a good word in for The Affirmation. Brilliant book. I finished reading it in an Oxford launderette, and I swear I walked all the way home with clicking noises inside my head, as of pieces falling into place. Well worth a read.

  19. 10) “George Slusser. He was a well-known science fiction scholar and critic. He wasn’t fond of the later work of Heinlein, but then who was?”

    I genuinely enjoy every one of those later novels, from I Will Fear No Evil onward, some more than others.

  20. Just started on Empress of Forever over the weekend and wow, that was quite a sharp left turn early on from where I thought it was going into what I can only describe as Monkey in space. It might not be to everyone’s tastes but I’m very much looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

  21. “(10) ARRIVAL. ShoutFactory TV has The Prisoner series available for viewing. In color, no less. (OK, maybe you’re not old enough for that last part to be a big deal.)”

    Actually The Prisoner (like Stingray) was originally filmed in colour in anticipation of colour brodcasting.

  22. (1) How shocked can audiences be when the news is announced months ahead of a movie’s release?

  23. Steve Green notes correctly How shocked can audiences be when the news is announced months ahead of a movie’s release?

    Most film goers I suspect don’t read these news articles, so they will be surprised.

    Of course it’s also possible that this isn’t going to happen, but is the sort of rumour studios absolutely love to put out in advance of a film being released.

  24. @KasaObake – for me that was a feature, not a bug. It was a wild read and one I’m considering rereading soon, because the current book (Dreaming Stars) just isn’t hitting as hard or as well.

  25. Joe H. says And that got me to thinking how much Henson and/or Muppet stuff is currently unavailable (including the last couple seasons of The Muppet Show and various attempted Muppet Show revival series), and that made me sad.

    Amazon video and iTunes both have eight Muppets films available plus the awful reboot series (watched two episodes, made me nauseated). All of The Muppet Show through season three is reasonably priced on DVD. Now I definitely won’t swear to its legality but I see the entire series on eBay for around twenty bucks with free shipping.

    Note that eBay is where I went when I wanted a reasonably priced Rocket Raccoon and Groot. I found one that got shipped to be from Hong Kong. It’s barely eight inches tall but it’s very nicely done. You can see my review here.

  26. (8) Jane Espenson also a writer and producer on Once Upon A Time and Once Upon a Time In Wonderland as well as co-creator of Warehouse 13.

  27. (8) I think Priest’s The Inverted World permanently altered the shape of my brain.

  28. 2) I’d argue that any transaction with Amazon during the strike is crossing the picket line. I don’t plan to use Amazon at all today or tomorrow.

  29. ULTRAGOTHA says I’d argue that any transaction with Amazon during the strike is crossing the picket line. I don’t plan to use Amazon at all today or tomorrow.

    H’h? What strike?

  30. Soon Lee says Many people are not using Amazon or its sites in support.

    Thanks. I don’t purchase much from them so it’s unlikely I’ll be there in the next few days anyways. If I purchase several items a month, that’s a heavy month for me with the only things I’ve bought there in the last month are a web belt and a Funko Rock Candy Spider-Gwen figure. The only site I use of theirs on a continual basis is Audible and I am most definitely not giving that up as that’s how I consume genre novels post-brain injury.

  31. Epstein was born in Jan 1953, and joined Dunbar in fall 1974. (“Dunbar’s] student newspaper reported in September 1974 that [Epstein] was starting that year as a math and physics teacher.” source) He was 21, not 20. He graduated high school at age 16, so despite not having a degree, he had been in college for 5 years. He was educated, not credentialed.

    Donald Barr resigned from Dunbar at the end of the 1973-74 school year, before Epstein started there, so it is not at all clear that he hired Epstein, or had anything to do with his hiring.

    @rcade

    I challenge you to point to anything Chiasson said in that Twitter thread condemning William Barr.

    To be sure, Chiasson doesn’t “condemn” William Barr, but he certainly is suspicious of him by some chain of association (tweet: “if Epstein was running a protection racket, what does he have on [William] Barr?”)

    @Lis Carey

    Some people look at all the people connected to Trump. . . sexual misconduct . . . connections to Epstein . . . and wonder if what we know William Barr has done

    Speculation about William Barr today based on events his father may or may not have been involved in 45 years ago is ridiculous. Guilt by association even more so.

    You have to wonder what kind of environment William Barr grew up in.

    Why is that? Has there been anything suggested about Donald Barr during William Barr’s formative years (1950 to, say, 1965 or so) that even hints at an unusual upbringing? During this time, Donald Barr was an academic, teaching at Columbia. It’s not like he was running a sex coven or something. William’s brother appear to be an upstanding citizen.

  32. 8) Does the final scene qualify Big Love as genre? Stanton was a highlight of that show.

  33. Cat- Audible, Whole P/a/y/c/h/e/c/k/ Foods, and GoodReads are also Amazon companies I’m avoiding today and tomorrow.

  34. 4) Jeet Heer dug up a review of “Space Relations” by John Clute and posted a screenshot in Twitter.

    That said, from the description and review, “Space Relations” doesn’t sound like something I’d want to read, but it also doesn’t strike me as that unusual for the SFF genre (or genre fiction in general) in the 1970s. This was the heyday of the Gor books, after all, and lots of others along those lines like the Silistra books by Janet Morris. SFF with a generous amount of sex and dubious or non-existent consent was a thing at the time.

    And you can find similar patterns in other genres. After all, the 1970s were also the era of men’s adventure novels where Marty Stu shoots lots of drug dealers/communists/other lowlives and has sex with lots of beautiful women, whether consensual or not. Finally, the 1970s were also the heyday of the so-called “bodiceripper”, historical romance novels whose virginal heroines were subjected to lots of sex and violence on the way to the HEA, consent strictly optional or non-existent.

    In short, dubious or non-consensual sex was a common trope in 1970s and early 1980s genre fiction. Nowadays, novels like these would have a hard time getting published, as our understanding of consent and sexual violence has evolved. But that doesn’t mean that their authors are bad people. And in fact, some romance authors have reported that their editors pushed them to include rape scenes, which they did not want to write. At least one author took the rape scenes out, when she selfpublished her old books from the 1970s.

    I haven’t followed this whole Epstein-Barr mess closely, but it’s pretty obvious to me that Jeffrey Epstein is an awful person and William Barr is at least a member of the awful Trump administration. Maybe Donald Barr was an awful person, too, or maybe he simply made the wrong choice regarding his protegé. However, he was not an awful person because he wrote a dodgy SF novel about sexual slavery at a time when such themes were not unusual in genre fiction.

    And pointing at a decades old SF novel with problematic tropes, because the author was a relative of one political figure and mentor of another, strikes me as guilt by association. This is not different from someone using my books (and I have written about murders, violence, torture scenes, executions and yes, also sex) to attack my cousin, who is a local politician. Attack the people for things they actually did. At least for Epstein, there should be plenty of ammunition.

  35. @Cora: Thanks to the Jeet Heer link to the John Clute review. 1974 was before I was reading grownup SF, and unlike other books from 1974 (like Mote) which were still part of the conversation a decade later, Space Relations had apparently dropped off the radar (I’ve never heard of it).

  36. ULTRAGOTHA says to that Audible, Whole P/a/y/c/h/e/c/k/ Foods, and GoodReads are also Amazon companies I’m avoiding today and tomorrow.

    I’ll frankly admit that the idea of abounding Amazon and its various corporate units for forty eight hours strikes me as no more more than a feel good action. It does little, or probably nothing, to Impact the financial affairs of a corporation like Amazon.

    It’d take a significant portion of the American public deciding not to shop at Amazon and to publicly say they’re doing it because of Amazon treating their workers like shit for Amazon to change these corporate cultural practices. Hell I remember co-op annual meetings where the Board listened to members beefing and went right on doing what they’d been doing that the members didn’t like. Changing any corporate culture is hard.

  37. @ Cat Eldridge

    To be Captain Contrarian, I might suggest that the Amazon strikers ask customers to buy more during the strike. If there are enough employees on strike, increased customer demand would ratchet up the pressure and demonstrate that the employees are needed.

  38. Cat –
    It’s a two-day strike. Not any random two days, the two days of the Prime sale. They’re withholding their labor during the special two-day sale that Amazon is running.

    Rob –
    The way to support a strike is to not cross the picket line. Crossing the picket line to buy even MORE goods strikes me as not very supportive of the labor action.

  39. Rob Thornton suggests To be Captain Contrarian, I might suggest that the Amazon strikers ask customers to buy more during the strike. If there are enough employees on strike, increased customer demand would ratchet up the pressure and demonstrate that the employees are needed.

    H’h. Interesting idea. I wonder if it’d push Bezos even faster towards robotising Amazon than he already is planning on doing. If I had to guess, I’d say yes.

  40. @bill–

    @Lis Carey

    Some people look at all the people connected to Trump. . . sexual misconduct . . . connections to Epstein . . . and wonder if what we know William Barr has done

    Oh, cute, look at all those ellipses. An awful lot of work to shorten a paragraph that wasn’t that long.

    It’s notvso much the connection to Epstein in isolation. It’s both the ever-expanding circle of people around Trump connected to Epstein, and the ever-expanding number of people around Trump who have credible accusations of serious sexual misconduct against them.

    Why is that? Has there been anything suggested about Donald Barr during William Barr’s formative years (1950 to, say, 1965 or so) that even hints at an unusual upbringing? During this time, Donald Barr was an academic, teaching at Columbia. It’s not like he was running a sex coven or something. William’s brother appear to be an upstanding citizen.

    Gee, what a cute phrase, “sex coven.” Makes it sound like I suggested something even kinkier than the child sex ring that we know Epstein has, in fact, been running for, literally, decades.

    Sure, Epstein was technically of age. And hey, sure, he didn’t have his degree, but he’d been in college for five years so…he had the education? Really? You got evidence of that?

    This isn’t even a guy who took five years rather than the standard four to get his degree. There a variety of reasons that happens. This is a guy who, after five years, still doesn’t have his degree, and we’re asked to accept this as proof that he did have the education. That’s…an interesting theory.

    It doesn’t explain why Donald Barr decided to hire a 21yo with no degree. Epstein was, at that point, a dropout, not a guy with a plan for a degree that was taking a longer path.

    We know that Epstein has been running a pedophile ring for decades. We don’t know when he started. However, it seems unlikely that he suddenly became involved in pedophilia, or interested in profiting from other men’s pedophilia, in his thirties or forties.

    No one was previously asking questions about William Barr’s formative years.

    Just as, for years, Trump was routinely described as a successful real estate developer. Publication of The Art of the Deal was not greeted with gales of uproarious laughter at the ridiculousness of it.

    Now, William Barr is part of an extended circle many of whom are part of an extended circle many of whom have credible accusations of pedophilia, rape, or serious sexual assault against them.

    How many people know two such people? Seriously. This is not normal, and no amount of misdirection can make it normal.

    At a minimum, William Barr knew who he was going to work for and who is associates are. That his connection to Epstein goes back to his dad hiring Epstein to teach math and physics when Donald Barr was the headmaster of The Dalton School, a college prep school, i.e., an elite high school, might just be a wild’n’crazy coincidence, but, really it is really weird. Yes, coincidences do happen, sometimes. But Epstein also got a reputation at Dalton for chasing the female students, whom he is remembered by, and not fondly.

    Nothing about this is normal. The book, yes, it’s trivial, and would be completely unnoticed, if it weren’t for all the other weird crap around Epstein and all the people connected to him.

    When so many of your friends are pedophiles and/or sexually aggressive with adults, the likelihood that you’re completely clean goes way down. Just like if all your friends are gangsters, or drunks.

  41. @ Ultragotha

    I was just thinking about how strike tactics might change in a digital world. When employees strike, that puts pressure on the back end. If you put pressure on the front end by overwhelming them with orders, the whole operation might fold.

    @ Cat Eldridge

    Like Uber/Lyft drivers, Amazon employees are already facing inevitable automation. Where will we be in twenty years? Will the ProWriteBot that replaces me pass the Turing Test? Guess we’ll find out.

  42. ULTRAGOTHA says It’s a two-day strike. Not any random two days, the two days of the Prime sale. They’re withholding their labor during the special two-day sale that Amazon is running.

    Here’s the problem. There’s no way to say if the strike will have any effect at all as Amazon releases no report on how well they do during this or any other Amazon Prime in any meaningful manner so you cannot measure the strike as to how it impacts the company. Lacking that ability to have that measurable impact is a fatal flaw.

  43. Cat, you’re free, of course, to react to the strike in any way you wish.

    I react to strikes by not crossing the picket line–whether virtually or physically. I didn’t shop at Stop and Shop. Had the Westin strike continued I would have skipped Boskone for the first time in >mumbledy< years. For this strike, I’ll refrain from visiting Amazon sites.

  44. (11) The tree . . . lived for 1,500 years, between 41,000 and 42,500 years ago. . . . The lifespan of the kauri tree covers a point in Earth’s history when the magnetic field almost reversed.

    A pedantic reading suggests that time itself reversed and the tree lived backwards in time.

  45. ULTRAGOTHA says
    Cat, you’re free, of course, to react to the strike in any way you wish.

    I react to strikes by not crossing the picket line–whether virtually or physically. I didn’t shop at Stop and Shop. Had the Westin strike continued I would have skipped Boskone for the first time in >mumbledy< years. For this strike, I’ll refrain from visiting Amazon sites.

    Perfectly ok by you. I’m simply pointing out that unlike the Stop and Shop action where it was quite easy to measure the effects of that strike (and let’s note that strictly speaking strikes are usually done by organised labour which the Amazon workers aren’t as Amazon isn’t unionised), measuring the effect of a job action upon non-localised corporations like Amazon isn’t easy. Indeed it’s damn near impossible.

    Again not attending Boskone would’ve been boycotting a physical event. Amazon is not really a physical thing in any meaningful sense as it’s a really more of a distributed network that has warehouses that it can, and does, open and close as it sees fit. It’s a natural outgrowth of the Information Age.

  46. 10) The Prisoner was always in color…

    It’s also on Amazon Prime. I sometimes have an episode on in background since I know them fairly well

  47. Paul Weimer: 10) The Prisoner was always in color…

    But not everybody watched it in color. In Britain it was broadcast in black-and-white. I don’t remember whether CBS’ 1968 run was in color, but it wouldn’t matter to me, because I was watching it on a B&W set.

    Years later when PBS revived the series, I know I saw THAT in color.

  48. @bill: faculty appointments are commonly done months ahead; DBarr could well have been involved with Epstein’s hiring. The fact that Epstein had been out of school for five years does not mean he merely neglected to pick up a degree; Wikipedia indicates he did in fact do some college, but what his qualifications were on leaving is unclear. And wrt William Barr’s brother being an upstanding citizen — go look up Whitey Bulger and his brothers.

    @Cora Buhlert: William Barr is not merely a member of the Trump administration; he was picked because he was more willing to twist the law (as he has already publicly done) than Sessions.

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