Pixel Scroll 7/16/19 Abe Said, Where Do You Want This Filing Done? God Said, Out On Scrollway Pixel-One

(1) ABOUT “FANDOM”. Impressive piece on the meanings of “fandom” by Elise Matthesen: “A bit of musing on where fandom/fandoms communication has oft gone awry”. I’m only going to excerpt the preamble, and save the best parts for you to discover at the link:

The following excerpt is taken from an email conversation with friends about some online reactions to a screed someone had posted about how kids these days should get off of their lawn with their “fandoms” with an s and their fanwriters who are not oldphart fans, among other things. I was trying to explain to my friends how one particular misunderstanding involving the usage of “fandom” versus the usage of “fandoms” was making things so much worse, and how I had had very little luck explaining the particular connotations involved to either group of the fans involved.

Please note that the following has been edited for clarity, but I’m not guaranteeing I actually reached that destination….

(2) DIVE INTO WORLDBUILDING. Juliette Wade’s new Diving Into Worldbuilding introduces readers to Cadwell Turnbull and interviews him about how he devised the background for his novel: “Cadwell Turnbull and The Lesson. Read the synopsis at the link, and/or watch the video:

We were all really excited to meet Cadwell Turnbull and talk to him about his new novel, The Lesson. This is a first contact novel featuring aliens in the Virgin Islands. It takes place five years after the alien Ynaa integrated with humans, and examines the tensions and conflicts between humans and Ynaa. Cadwell told us it deals with the murky relationship between the two groups, and the social, personal, and cultural effects of having highly advanced aliens living here.

Cadwell explained that the Ynaa have one basic technology. “Reefs” are intelligent cells that manage body health and also change the Ynaa’s physiology so they can fit in. They can also be used for technology, ships, cities, and other things. The reefs can build themselves. This technology can also be used to kill people.

(3) MUSIC ABOUT THE FUTURE. Red Bull Music Academy presents 17 selections that make up “An Alternate Canon of Afrofuturist Classics”.

This list sprung from a short question: What is a song you feel best represents Afrofuturism? From that starting point, a number of artists, academics, authors, curators and creative minds contributed selections that reflect both canon and alternate cuts. This list is necessarily limited: The expansive applications of Afrofuturist thought means anything definitive remains out of reach. But wherever and however Afrofuturism travels, it remains a space of utmost creative freedom and expressive possibility.

The titles on the home page are linked to short articles about each selection.

(4) WE’LL SEA ABOUT THAT. The Hollywood Reporter finds support for a POC mermaid split along party lines: “Disney’s Choice to Cast Halle Bailey in ‘Little Mermaid’ Is Mostly Well-Received, Poll Finds”.

About 75 percent of self-described Democrats said they support the casting of the actress in the role, as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans, a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds.

(5) FANS COMMISSION HOGARTH NOVEL. M.C.A. Hogarth says —

I gave my fans a chance to “buy” a novel via Kickstarter I would ordinarily have backburnered and they decided they wanted it. The Kickstarter is still running but they’ve already hit my 10K goal (and in less than five days).

I continue to think it’s cool that we live in an age where fans can fund the books they want that authors would otherwise not have been able to afford. 🙂

The fundraising is not just about the book as a whole — Hogarth has set up an interesting menu of almost 20 different scenarios or character interactions that people can contribute toward having included in the story.

The “Major Pieces: A Peltedverse Collection” Kickstarter has raised $10,127 so far.

(6) SPACEWAR. MIT Technology Review news editor Nial Firth penned an article warning that war in space isn’t just a concern for science fiction writers, suggesting that the first skirmishes may already be occurring — “How to fight a war in space (and get away with it)” – behind a paywall at Technology Review. As Firth writes: “The major spacefaring nations ratified the treaty [against militarization of space] long ago, but the ambitions of the treaty to codify peaceful uses of space seem increasingly distant, as hawkish rhetoric and actions grow more common.”

In March, India became only the fourth country in the world—after Russia, the US, and China—to successfully destroy a satellite in orbit. Mission Shakti, as it was called, was a demonstration of a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon (ASAT)—or in plain English, a missile launched from the ground. Typically this type of ASAT has a “kill vehicle,” essentially a chunk of metal with its own guidance system, mounted on top of a ballistic missile. Shortly after the missile leaves the atmosphere, the kill vehicle detaches from it and makes small course corrections as it approaches the target. No explosives are needed; at orbital speeds, kinetic energy does the damage.

(7) NOT THE NOMINATION HE’S AFTER. Talking about presidential candidate Andrew Yang, fivethirtyeight.com today said “But while the Yang platform can occasionally appear to drift toward a bid for a Hugo Award . . . .” — “How Weird Is Andrew Yang’s Tech Policy? Only About As Weird As America’s.”.

…In a Yang presidency, election results would be verified through blockchain (an encryption system best known for shoring up cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin), quantum computing research would be better funded, and a Legion of Builders and Destroyers would have the power to overrule local zoning and land-use decisions for the greater infrastructure good. He is definitely the only presidential candidate talking seriously about fighting climate change with giant space mirrors….

Greg Hullender opines, “In point of fact, his platform is pretty long. I’m not so sure it’s a good candidate for Best Related Work, although it does have its moments.” – “Yang 2020 – Our Policies” – “And how can you not like a guy whose response to pink MAGA caps is blue MATH hats?”

(8) A NICK LARTER UPDATE: Nick Larter, quoted in yesterday’s Scroll as opposed to a U.S Worldcon (immigration policies, difficulties), has been getting a crash course in site selection rules and today added this statement to his post:

Yesterday I sent an email to the address provided for the Dublin Worldcon Business Meeting, enquiring how I should proceed.  I have so far heard nothing back.  But others have kindly informed me online that the Business Meeting has no control over the voting process.  I have now looked at the relevant ballot paper.  It seems that if a majority of voters select the None of the Above option for the 2021 Worldcon location, then the Business Meeting is supposed to decide where it should be located.  On this basis, I’ll be voting None of the Above in Dublin.

(9) JACOB OBIT. Charlee Jacob (1952-2019) died July 14. The native Texan specializing in horror fiction, dark fantasy, and poetry won the Bram Stoker Award twice. Her novel Dread in the Beast tied for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel of 2005, and her poetry collection Sineater won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Poetry Collection in 2005 as well. Her first novel This Symbiotic Fascination (Necro Publications, 1997) was nominated for the International Horror Guild Award.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • July 16, 1952  — Zombies of the Stratosphere premiered.
  • July 16, 1969 — Apollo 11 launched.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 16, 1882 Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in  “The Deadly Years” episode. 0ther genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man,  The Twilight ZoneFrankenstein’s Daughter, The MunstersHouse of the DamnedThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.)
  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his  short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel.  I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) and Babylon 5: A Call to Arms being my favorite works by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the Kindle store but not in the iBook store. H’h. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 16, 1929 Sheri Tepper. I think I’m going to single out her Marianne Trilogy (Marianne, the Magus and the Manticore; Marianne, the Madam and the Momentary Gods; Marianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse) as her best work. Both the setting and the characters are unique, the story fascinating. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 68. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story, both “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She’s better better stocked in the Kindle store than in the iBooks Store. 
  • Born July 16, 1956 Jerry Doyle. Now this one was depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 56. Ok, her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It’s two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon. 
  • Born July 16, 1967 Will Ferrell, 52. His last film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favorite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) MAKING BOOK. The correspondence of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone comprise today’s The Big Idea at Whatever.

In today’s Big Idea, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone are feeling epistolary, which, considering the letter-writing format of their collaborative novella This is How You Lose the Time War, is entirely appropriate.

AMAL EL-MOHTAR and MAX GLADSTONE:

Dearest Max,

I write to you from the past—knowing you’re presently asleep while I’m awake, three hours’ worth of time zone between us—to talk about ideas. It’s tricky to know where to begin; when the most succinct description we can manage of our book clocks in at “epistolary spy vs. spy novella across time and space,” the ideas crowd and clutter.

But I think it all ultimately begins and ends with us. The two of us, becoming friends, and writing each other letters.

Do you remember when we first decided to write something together? I know the fact of it, but I don’t remember the hour, the words—only that we loved each other’s work, wanted to work together, wanted to set a sensible boundary of how and when and for how long to work together….

(14) CAN YOU DIG IT? James Davis Nicoll will be your guide through “Great Lost Civilizations of Science Fiction and Fantasy” at Tor.com.

Thanks to the exploits of 19th-century archaeologists (many of them no better than Indiana Jones, digging for statues and jewelry while ignoring evidence of daily life), lost civilizations were common features of 19th-century adventure stories. The trope was imported wholesale into early SFF. Do you remember your first SFF lost civilization? I remember mine, which was thanks to Scholastic Books: the enthusiastically pulp-ish Stranger from the Depths, by Gerry Turner.

A mysterious relic reveals to humanity that there was an ancient civilization that arose before modern humans evolved in Africa. “Was”…or “is”? Ancient does not always mean vanished. These ancient aliens have, in fact, survived(!!!) in well-concealed refugia. Humans have now stumbled across them. Will humans survive the discovery?

(15) HELD OVER. There’s a new SF play being performed at Hollywood Fringe Festival one more time on July 20 at 8 p.m. called “Life Plan: How to Live Your Life in a Collapsing World”. Here’s the description:

It’s that rare time of year when the Life Plan presentation comes through the Los Angeles Habitable Zone! Tired of struggling in underground shelters and fleeing from mutated dumpster dogs? Life Plan is the answer! You can live out your dream life and you can experience true fulfillment, but only if you come to one of our five Life Plan Presentations this June. This is your last chance of 2068, so don’t miss out!

Life Plan is immersive satirical sci-fi — you’re live at a timeshare sales pitch from our dystopian future. Fulfillment is the offer. Salvation is the opportunity. Will you cash out? Will you buy in?

The play is written by Matthew Latkiewicz of You Can Do Better on truTV and former The Onion managing editor Brian Janosch. There are more details here.

The Parks and Recreation actor Alison Becker raves about the play on her Instagram wall, “I’ve seen A LOT of theater. And this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my entire life. Wow. It’s like a weird mind fuck that stays in your head for weeks afterwards. It’s been extended for one night only (July 20th) so don’t say I didn’t tell you. I am NOT involved in this play. I am just telling you as a public service announcement — GO SEE THE BEST PIECE OF THEATER OF THE YEAR.”

(16) MAKING OF A WRITER. The Odyssey Workshop gets a plug from a graduate: “Interview: Graduate Farah Naz Rishi”.

You’ve worked as a video game journalist. How has gaming influenced your prose? What do you think writers could learn from successful video games?

I think analyzing video games actually helped me understand world-building a bit better. I try to treat every character, no matter how small their role, as an NPC (non-playable character). Every NPC in a video game should have a clear purpose, not just to propel the main characters on their quest, but to better flesh out the world around them. NPCs in games offer advice and opinions, sometimes drop hints that, if missed, can really screw over the player, or at least make their quest more difficult. In that way, they can make the story interactive. NPCs basically can reward a player for exploration. If you remove them, maybe the overall story won’t be affected, per se, but it will feel less rich.

(17) THE WELSHMEN WHO WALKED UP A HILL. BBC finds a road that’s ideal for geckoes, however, that’s not who’s using it: “Harlech street takes record as steepest in the world”.

A street in north Wales has been declared the steepest in the world.

Residents in Harlech, Gwynedd, are celebrating after Guinness World Records verified the gradient of Ffordd Pen Llech at 37.45%.

The title had been held by Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, with a gradient of 35% at its steepest.

Campaigner Gwyn Headley said: “I feel utter relief – and jubilation. I feel sorry for the New Zealanders – but steeper is steeper.”

…Mr Headley and Sarah Badhan know just what an uphill struggle life can be for those living on Ffordd Pen Llech.

While most live at the bottom of the hill, the chemist and post office are at the top.

Mr Headley’s research found the street was the steepest in Great Britain, though a different methodology was used to calculate Baldwin Street in New Zealand.

So they engaged surveyors and measurements taken in January showed Fordd Pen Llech had a one in 2.67 gradient at its steepest part, compared with the current record holder’s one in 2.86.

(18) CREAM OF SDCC. Gizmodo previews what they consider to be “The 10 Most Exciting Panels Happening at San Diego Comic-Con 2019”. Marvel is number one.

2. Enter the Star Trek Universe

CBS has so many Star Trek projects going on, it chose to dump them all into one panel! “Enter the Star Trek Universe” will share news about several Star Trek projects—including the animated show Lower Decks, from the guys behind Rick and Morty, and Sir Patrick Stewart’s highly anticipated return as Jean-Luc Picard. We can’t wait, especially for the dog.

When and where: Hall H on Saturday, July 20 at 11:30 a.m.

Who will be there:

Star Trek: Discovery—Sonequa Martin-Green, Tig Notaro, and executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise, and Heather Kadin.

Star Trek: Lower Decks—co-creator Mike McMahan

Star Trek: Picard—Sir Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Biones, Santiago Cabrera, Harry Treadaway, showrunner Michael Chabon, and executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, and Heather Kadin.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, rcade, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Greg Hullender, Olav Rokne, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

38 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/16/19 Abe Said, Where Do You Want This Filing Done? God Said, Out On Scrollway Pixel-One

  1. (11) 20 pieces by Sheckley are on Project Gutenberg rhttps://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/2960

    I didn’t realize Jerry Doyle had died. B5 does have a curse (so does Angel).

  2. 10
    I remember seeing “Zombies of the Stratosphere” – in the 60s. (It had its moments.)

  3. Robert Sheckley was probably better at shorter lengths than novels. Very good retrospective collections are available from NESFA Press (“The Masque of Mañana”) and The New York Review Of Books (“Store of the Worlds”). NESFA also collected some of his better known longer works (including “Immortality, Inc,” “Journey Beyond Tomorrow,” “”Mindswap” and “Dimension of Miracles’) in a volume entitled “Dimensions of Sheckley.”

  4. (8) A NICK LARTER UPDATE

    When someone refers to the concerns of people who are afraid to leave the U.S. to attend a Worldcon because they might not be allowed to come back to their homes as “inconvenienced”, that person is performing the sort of human calculus I can’t support.

    It’s a pretty odd stance coming from someone who professes to be concerned about people not being allowed into a country other than their own. 😐

  5. 8) “Why let US prevent some people from attending Worldcon when we can prevent everyone!”

    Eh. No.

  6. @11: there are Tepper books with more fervor (many of which have detractors over various issues), but the Marianne books pack a hell of a punch into a tiny space (I’d guess that the 3 together are about the size of one of her later books) and work personal issues effectively. I also enjoyed her two detective series (as by “A. J. Orde” and “B. J. Oliphant”); one features an ~antique dealer in Denver, the other an obvious Tepper figure (crusty old woman who breeds uncommon cattle on the east flank of the Rockies) that strikes me as plausible rather than Mary Sue. She spent some time under the shadow of Alzheimer’s, but I was told she was able to understand that she’d been received the World Fantasy Life Master award.

    also @11: my personal favorite among Friesner’s light work is probably Elf Defense; like much of her best work it’s light until it suddenly and believably isn’t. She’s also done some deliberately harsh work (Psalms of Herod ff) — sort of her version of The Handmaid’s Tale, only bleaker. She’s also wonderful in person; I’m sorry I haven’t seen much of her recently.

    @JJ: Larter apparently feels that a democratic election, no matter how bent, means that residents hurt by the result (even those who couldn’t vote) have no standing to complain. One wonders what he’d tell the UK citizens who voted against Brexit but will be just as screwed if Brexit happens as the blockheads who voted in favor.

    Much too late to try to parse Mathesen’s piece; tomorrow….

  7. (1) Whether its old pharts or young punks, I have zero tolerance for gatekeeping in fandom(s). People can fan however they want. Anyone who doesn’t like it can go take a flying [xtifr’s voice trails of into increasingly foul-mouthed mutterings…]

    With a rusty spoon!

    (But as an old phart myself, it makes me particularly sad when it’s old pharts, who should remember how rare and pleasant it used to be to discover another new fan of whatever flavor.)

    Sheckley is also basically responsible for the whole Death Match Game Show genre. One of the best SF humorists of his era.

    Esther Friesner, IMO, did some of the best American humorous fantasy for grown-ups of the ’80s and ’90s–an era where that genre was dominated by the Brits, especially Pratchett. I only met her once, and that briefly, but she seemed nice.

  8. (8) A NICK LARTER UPDATE: ::yawn:: Well, at least he hopefully won’t waste biz meeting time with out-of-order proposals.

  9. I wish I had discovered I loved Sheckley’s books before he died. My favorite is Options, which is surreal and LSDish, written after he embraced the way of the hippie. It made me laugh out loud on an airplane once.

    I have been celebrating Sheckley’s birthday, which also happens to be mine, at Disneyland in Galaxy’s Edge. I didn’t try the blue milk but the kaadu ribs were very nice.

  10. (11) Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country is my favorite, but I will have to try the Marianne books. Also, thanks to Chip Hancock for info on the mysteries.

    (14) that was fun, thanks for the link! It’s not always easy to find blog posts on the Tor site.

    I have a question related to (14) for Filers, many of whom have read so much more than I. There are lots of books where “modern” people rediscover lost civilizations (thinking of H. Rider Haggard here), but do you know of any where people from lost civilizations visit and comment on the “modern” world? The only one I can think of is “With Her in Ourland: Sequel to Herland”, but that was published in 1915, and that’s too late for my purpose. I’m looking particularly for stuff published before 1902. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  11. (11) Phoebe Cates was also in “Drop Dead Fred” and “Date with an Angel”, both of which seem sorta genre-ish.

    @Msb

    There are lots of books where “modern” people rediscover lost civilizations (thinking of H. Rider Haggard here), but do you know of any where people from lost civilizations visit and comment on the “modern” world?

    The latter episodes of “It’s About Time” — the cavepeople visit modern (1960s) (not a book but a TV show). “The Ugly Little Boy” by Asimov. “Time after Time” (novel and movie) has ca. 1890 H. G. Wells visiting modern San Francisco. “Les Visiteurs” and the American remake “Just Visiting” (movies) bring a medieval knight and his squire to the 20th century.

  12. 1) I think you have to go back quite a long way – say, to before original the Star Trek – for “fandom” to look like a single network with no disconnects, so I suspect people who associate “fandoms” in the plural with empty consumerism are just unhappy that the world’s larger than they thought.

    (I too was a dreadful snob about fandom when I was younger, and it also took the form of looking down on media fans as somehow “less serious”, but that was long before fandoms in the plural became a common usage. I suspect it’s a universal impulse – see: hardcore vs casual gamers, or Tolkien books vs Tolkien movies – but I do try to resist it now.)

  13. Sophie Jane: people who associate “fandoms” in the plural with empty consumerism

    I don’t make this blanket assumption about anyone’s fannish loves. But I think it’s sad if their fandom doesn’t involve some sort of community — if they’re just enjoying a genre property without engaging in some sort of back-and-forth conversation or sharing with other people, then I think that they’re missing out on a lot.

  14. @ JJ: I would, on the whole, agree. But if they don’t (and I have vague recollection of having met people with that opinion) have a need, or wish, to do other than “read / watch”, that is, and should be, totally fine.

    I mean, the discussions and and what-not are probably half (if not more) of the fun.

  15. When I was young, the science fiction fans looked down on the fantasy fans, and both groups looked down on the media fans and…I gotta say that I don’t miss those days at all.

    As someone who grew up in fandom, I was actually quite pleased to discover that there were more casual fans out there–it made the “real world” seem like a safer place to me, and I quickly got over sneering at the “lesser” fans, because I was just happy to find that I had things in common with more of the people I went to school with or worked with than I had expected.

    And I gotta tell you: a lot of those “non-community” fans seem pretty happy with their lives, so I’m not going to fault them for it. Heck, I gafiated pretty hard once I hit puberty….

  16. @JJ if they’re just enjoying a genre property without engaging in some sort of back-and-forth conversation or sharing with other people, then I think that they’re missing out on a lot.

    I agree, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fan community that doesn’t converse and share… it’s kind of in the definition of community.

    @Xtifr I gotta tell you: a lot of those “non-community” fans seem pretty happy with their lives, so I’m not going to fault them for it.

    And I agree with this, too.

    (“Then Lao Tzu came by riding on a dragon and laughed and said nothing at all, and the woman agreed with that too… and the Woman Without Answers and the others went on playing the game according to Coyote’s rules, by which you always get yourself into trouble.”)

  17. #1: They get it wrong about quarters taped to a postcard. You never could send a postcard with anything attached to it besides a glued-on piece of paper. Nope, you put the quarters on an index card, then mailed that in an envelope, so the postal machinery couldn’t destroy the envelope in processing.

    (As an aside, I notice they wrote about “networks”: there were radio networks when fandom started, but TV networks came later. And networks as used in computers were decades in the future.)

    I tried to comment on their site, but it required more jumps through hoops than I felt like bothering with.

  18. The Matheson item is interesting; it might serve as a bridge, but I think she’s missing that (a) people brought together by something commercial are still together, and (b) Ulrika’s screed was hiving off not just fans-of-things but also fans-of-people who were doing it in ways (e.g., larger scale) that she didn’t like.

    wrt which, We’re Everywhere part N: NPR’s story about going to the opera for the first time includes a backstage tour, in which we find that the library accumulated for use of stagehands (some of whom work during acts, but many of whom have 20-minute periods of rushing about separated by an hour or so of idleness) includes a complete set of Dune books. (See about 2/3 of the way down; the previous paragraph has a link to a NYT story about a particularly elaborate piece of stage equipment — fascinating for all us gearheads.)

    @Rob Thornton: Hendrix was interested in an assortment of things that the times did not expect of any rock musician, let alone a black one. There was a BBC story a few years ago about the opening of his London apartment to tourism; the story noted that it was right next to the apartment Handel had lived in centuries earlier, and that Hendrix was fascinated by this and had studied at least one Handel score.

  19. I stumbled upon Sheckley very early in my “adult” reading life, specifically the original 1968 Dell edition of Dimension Of Miracles, which I still have, on the paperback rack at Kmart. I read quite a bit of his other work but I don’t think I enjoyed any of it as much. Probably as much to do with my age and the times as anything else.

  20. (11) I’ll throw in Stranger Than Fiction (2006 movie) for Will Ferrell’s genre work. He plays a character in a novel who realizes he’s being narrated towards certain death (no spoilers, it’s in the trailer). It’s one of his better, if not best, roles.

  21. @Chip —

    NPR’s story about going to the opera for the first time

    Thanks for posting that link. I’ve been to a bazillion Met Opera Live in HD broadcasts, so I was interested. 🙂

  22. Sheckley has always been one of my favourites. I prefer Bradbury for his language, but when it came to plot ideas, Sheckley was anyone’s equal.

  23. 11) Regarding Robert Sheckley, the first thing I think of when I hear his name is that the 1970 German SF TV movie “Das Millionenspiel” (The Million Game) about a game show where a contestant can win a million Deutschmarks in this case, if they survive a week of being hunted by professional killers, is based on Robert Sheckley’s short story “The Prize of Peril”.

    Alas, Sheckley’s association with “The Million Game” was not a happy one. For starters, screenwriter Wolfgang Menge completely failed to acknowledge Sheckley (a common problem with Menge – he also wrote the German version of “All in the Family/Till Death Do Us Part” and failed to acknowledge those two shows as well). And then the TV station bought the rights to the story from the German publisher, which did not have the TV rights, so Sheckley most likely wasn’t even paid. That led to a rights issue, which kept the movie from being rerun for thirty years.

    That said, “The Million Game” is brilliant, because it looks and feels like a real 1970s West German game show, complete with odd musical interludes featuring the TV ballet. The fake ad breaks look very much like real 1970s ads as well. Furthermore, the host of the fictional show, the late Dieter Thomas Heck, did host a popular music program in real life. Upon first broadcast, a lot of viewers mistook “The Million Game” for a real game show and inundated the TV station with letters, both to complain and to apply as a candidate (a handful of people even applied to play the killers hunting the contestant). Having seen the movie, I can certainly understand how such a mistake could happen, because it looks and feels so much like the game and variety shows of 1970s West German TV. In many ways, watching “The Million Game” is like watching TV from an alternate universe two degrees removed from ours.

  24. I frequently find myself muttering apologies to the shade of Tepper these days, for ever having believed some of her more nasty villains were unrealistic caricatures,

  25. Cora Buhlert: I thought your comments about “The Million Game” were very interesting. Thanks for posting it.

  26. @Cora Buhlert: Indeed, that was interesting and informative, thanks!

    @RedWombat: I actually never thought she was that over the top, but I am indeed increasingly coming to realize just how not actually over the top she really was. sigh

  27. @Xtifr: I remember being baffled when I first ran into people who only liked SF or only liked fantasy, and especially baffled by the subset of each group – ‘cuz it was both – looking down on the other group. To me, it was one big genre, “fantasy & science fiction,” so this made NO SENSE to me.

    Yeah, I was naive. 😉

    I didn’t really see a ton of it, though; maybe that’s why it baffled me so.

  28. Kendall: It certainly does seem bizarre looking back, at least to me. The prejudices against fantasy seemed to be most common among fans who were even older than my parents. People who joined fandom in the sixties (like my parents) tended to be much more open-minded about it. I suspect that Tolkien, the genre-ambiguity of the New Wave, and the rise of the term “speculative fiction” were big factors in the change of attitude.

  29. LUVing the Tepper discussion. I have been a fan since I picked up the first one (I think it was the first Peter/True Game novel, but the Marianne trilogy was soon after and cemented my fannishness more than Peter did). I like her mysteries, and even her two horror novels (Blood Heritage, <The Bones). If I had to pick one that is my absolute favorite (which I’d hate to have to do), it would be Grass.

    @RedWombat:

    I frequently find myself muttering apologies to the shade of Tepper these days, for ever having believed some of her more nasty villains were unrealistic caricatures,

    I did a themed topic for an undergraduate lit class in Fall 2017 mostly because I was so angry after Trump’s election–the focus was gendered dystopian novels. We started with Tepper’s Decline and Fall (which, yeah, a good candidate for over the topness given the nature of the supervillain, but I also wanted the ambiguous ending). Part of what we were talking about were the different features that made the future dystopian–the class favorite was Shusterman’s, with Butler’s coming in a strong second. They mostly didn’t like Tepper, sigh.

    Tepper, Sheri S. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. 1996.
    Elgin, Suzette Haden Elgin. Native Tongue. 1984.
    Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower. 1993.
    Elison, Meg. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. 2016.
    Shusterman, Neil. Unwind. 2007.
    Bachman, Richard. The Running Man. 1982.

  30. When I was in Star Trek fandom (Outpost 13) in 1976, we were as likely to be talking about LOTR as Dune as Star Trek, as H. Ellison, etc. It was a small group at the university in Bellingham, and probably we were too small to be able to work up genre debates.

    Later in the 1990s when I started doing scholarship on sff, I did feminist science fiction for about ten years before getting back into Tolkien. The prejudice against fantasy was strong in sf academic criticism — the earliest journals and academic conferences were all focused on sf (with some space opera thrown in perhaps) because sf was hot, hip, progressive, cool, and fantasy was retro, conservative, etc. To some extent the fantasy scholarshp developed in separate areas (conferences and journals), and to this day some of the people I know from the sf group are astounded that I find anything to talk about in Tolkien. This overview is broadly generalized/simplified. I think the later sf scholars do not carry it on (sf scholarship got started in the late 1960/1970s so it’s quite recent). Of course, I also joke, I used to be cutting edge doing feminist sf in the 1990s….but now have been left behind as a lot of sff criticism is not about books but the work in various visual media.

    But the prejudice ran on both sides even though the New Critics/Literature as LITerature crowd was uniformly prejudiced against both genres. I found a fascinating early publication when I was while doing research at Marquette among the secondary sources (I was also reading Tolkien fanzines, and looking for sources about how Tolkien was talked about during the 1960s/70s).

    A 1969 anthology, edited by Mark Hillegas, and titled Shadows of the Imagination; The Fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams is, I think, probably the first academic monograph to reference Tolkien. It also conforms to what I call the Rule of Three: in literary studies, when writing on a new/uncanonized author, throw three of them in to sound more serious! I learned that rule in the context of feminist criticism.

    In the introduction Hillegas talks about 1966 Modern Language Assocation conference session on the works of Lewis and Tolkien, noting that “the room was packed, with people standing at the back and overflowing into the hall. . . the response was so enthusiastic that it seemed worthwhile to carry the discussion over into a book” (xvi). I was surprised to see a Tolkien and Lewis book publication so early, but even more hilariously, Hillegas goes on to defend the scholarship on Tolkien and Lewis as serious scholarship not a “cult” (an accusation often hurled against Tolkien scholarship back in the day). No, Hillegas says, the Tolkien and Lewis scholars are serious LITERARY types as opposed to the fans of August Derleth, Weird Tales, and pulp science fiction which is written primarily by those with “technical or scientific” educations who ignore myth in favor of materialism. Since Tolkien and Lewis were myffic, they were clearly srs literature.

  31. Kendall: (8) A NICK LARTER UPDATE: ::yawn:: Well, at least he hopefully won’t waste biz meeting time with out-of-order proposals.

    He’s now trying to ret-con his original intent:
    Nick Larter: He had picked up the idea from somewhere (I suppose an ill-advised remark from someone else on File 770) that I was going to propose a motion which had the aim of overturning the will of the voters. This was never my intention and nowhere was this idea mooted in anything I wrote.

    Sure, nowhere except in this part of his letter:
    Nick Larter: For these reasons, I believe that our community, which has an excellent record of embracing diversity and inclusivity of all kinds, has a duty to reject Washington DC as the venue for the 2021 Worldcon. It would be grossly delinquent of us to act in any other way. My question to the Business Meeting now is, should I be finding a sponsor and submitting this as a motion to you, or is there some other way in which I should put this before the Members of Dublin 2019.

    If he wasn’t talking about getting the Business Meeting to reject a Site Selection of DC in 2021 stemming from the will of the Site Selection voters, then why was he asking about putting a motion in front of it to reject that selection?

    I am singularly unimpressed by his comments in that thread implying that all U.S. citizens are responsible for the current administration and its perfidies, and that those people in the U.S. who have been subjected to persecution by that administration are merely “inconvenienced” by it. 😐

  32. I was definitely an SF fan who didn’t like fantasy. Except for Tolkien – I was totally obsessed with Tolkien and never found any other fantasy that even remotely compared.

    Oh, except now I remember liking Earthsea. And Moorcock. So maybe I wasn’t as strictly anti-fantasy as I thought.

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