Pixel Scroll 8/10/21 The Scrolls Are Lovely, Dark And Deep, But I Have Pixels To Keep

(1) SANDBAGGING GOODREADS FOR RANSOM. TIME probes “Goodreads’ Problem With Extortion Scams and Review Bombing”.

A few months after posting a message on Goodreads about the imminent release of a new book, Indie author Beth Black woke up to an all-caps ransom email from an anonymous server, demanding that she either pay for good reviews or have her books inundated with negative ones: “EITHER YOU TAKE CARE OF OUR NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS WITH YOUR WALLET OR WE’LL RUIN YOUR AUTHOR CAREER,” the email, shared with TIME, read. “PAY US OR DISAPPEAR FROM GOODREADS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”

Black, who has self-published both a romance novel and a collection of short stories in the past year, didn’t pay the ransom. “I reported it to Goodreads and then a couple hours later, I started noticing the stars dropping on my books as I started getting all these 1-star reviews,” she says. “It was quite threatening.”

Scammers and cyberstalkers are increasingly using the Goodreads platform to extort authors with threats of “review bombing” their work–and they are frequently targeting authors from marginalized communities who have spoken out on topics ranging from controversies within the industry to larger social issues on social media.

… Goodreads remains one of the primary tools on the internet for book discovery, meaning lesser-known authors often have to rely on the site to get their work noticed. But at this point, some feel that Goodreads’ ratings and reviews system is causing more harm than good.

In a July 29 statement to TIME, a spokesperson for Goodreads said that the company is actively working to resolve many of these review bombing problems.

“We take swift action to remove users when we determine that they violate our guidelines, and are actively assessing all available options to take further action against the small number of bad actors who have attempted extortion scams,” the statement read. “We have clear guidelines for reviews and participation in our community, and we remove reviews and/or accounts that violate these guidelines… We also continue to invest in making technology improvements to prevent bad actor behavior and inauthentic reviews in order to better safeguard our community.”

Review bombing, ransom emails and extortion

As author Rin Chupeco told TIME, Goodreads is a “good idea that slowly became unmanageable over the years due to lack of adequate moderation and general indifference.”

One emerging issue is review bombing: when a coordinated group, or a few people with multiple accounts, intentionally tank a book’s aggregate rating with a flurry of one-star ratings and negative reviews….

.. But Black isn’t the only author to be targeted. There are many threads on Goodreads discussing similar issues, with posts from writers who’ve been targeted….

(2) MAKING RULES DIFFERENTLY. Eleanor Konik shows colleagues a way to expand their horizons in “Unusual Governments to Take Inspiration From” at the SFWA Blog.

Often, speculative fiction relies on common government types, like monarchies and republics, because they’re familiar to readers. History, however, offers other examples of sociopolitical systems. They can be a gold mine for worldbuilding ideas that stretch beyond the mainstream.

Cycling Governments

Age-sets are a sociopolitical system common in East Africa. Among Kenya’s Nandi people, each ibinda (age-set) corresponds to a stage of the life cycle. Boys and girls from each region would be initiated into their age-sets during a series of mass ceremonies.  As an analogy, consider a series of nearby communities gathering children into one centralized boarding school then transitioning them out of school and into the lifestage of young adults marrying and being busy with young children, after which they would return to the workforce before finally amassing the experience to lead the community as political figures. 

In the Ethiopian Highlands, this sort of cycling age-set system, known in some places as gadaa (for men) or siqqee (for women), led to the development of a republic with democratic elections and the peaceful transfer of power, which took roughly eight years to accomplish. It is not the “democratic republic” as described in ancient Greece. Men were bound to their neighbors by the bonds of shared experiences, handling infrastructure projects for the whole region. In some places, this led to peace. In others, expansion of the length of time men spent in the warrior stage meant an increase in raids and conquest. 

(3) SILVERBERG TO BE DISCON III VIRTUAL PARTICIPANT. Robert Silverberg revealed online today: “Apparently I will be at the DC worldcon after all, though only virtually.  Since I am unwilling to travel to the East Coast in wintertime, they have arranged for me to do a virtual conversation with Nancy Kress, with Alvaro Zinos-Amaro acting as moderator.  So my 67-year streak of worldcon attendance will remain intact, if only virtually.”

(4) ENTER THE DRAGONS. Camestros Felapton’s epic has now reached a key moment of 2016: “Debarkle Chapter 55: The Dragon Award Begins”.

…With the devastating final results of the 2015 Hugo Award, some Puppy supporters thought that the right response was to walk away from Worldcon and the Hugo Awards altogether. This was matched by some of the rhetoric from critics of the Puppies, who had suggested that the Puppy leadership should set up their own awards.

So it was both notable and not wholly a surprise when on March 31 2016 Dragon Con announced the first inaugural Dragon Awards with their own new website…

(5) DULCET TONES. Open Culture invites you to listen as “Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter of Advice to People Living in the Year 2088”.

A few years ago we posted Kurt Vonnegut’s letter of advice to humanity, written in 1988 but addressed, a century hence, to the year 2088. Whatever objections you may have felt to reading this missive more than 70 years prematurely, you might have overcome them to find that the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions single-mindedly importuned his fellow man of the late 21st century to protect the natural environment. He issues commandments to “reduce and stabilize your population” to “stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems,” and to “stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars,” among other potentially drastic-sounding measures.

Commandment number seven amounts to the highly Vonnegutian “And so on. Or else.” A fan can easily imagine these words spoken in the writer’s own voice, but with Vonnegut now gone for well over a decade, would you accept them spoken in the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch instead?

(6) END TIMES. Netflix dropped this trailer for the final season of Lucifer today.

Lucifer scored the promotion, but does he really want the job? Plus, Chloe prepares to give up detective work, Amenadiel joins the LAPD, and more.

(7) SOUNDING OFF. The Guardian interviews actors who are better known for their voice than their face. One of them is Doug Jones of Star Trek: Discovery fame: “’They wanted my meerkat to sound like a Russian Alan Sugar’ – meet TV’s secret superstars” in The Guardian.

…[Doug Jones:] When you say yes to playing something that doesn’t look human, you’re saying yes to the entire process. I don’t get to shout: “Get this off me! It’s so hot and sticky.” I need the mindset of a performer, but also the endurance of an athlete, one who can take five or six hours of makeup application, then get through a long day of shooting.

Because of all the parts I’ve played, I often end up skipping the conventional casting process. People in creature effects just say: “It’s a tall skinny alien – we need Doug Jones.” I was playing the amphibian in the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water when Star Trek: Discovery approached me. I was actually thinking “I’m not sure how much more rubber and glue I want in my life,” but there was no way I could turn it down. For Saru, I wear a four-piece prosthetic over my head that comes down past my collarbones, with gloves to change my hands. It’s all been moulded to my shape and pre-painted so getting it all glued on is only a two-hour process. I wear a Starfleet uniform like everybody else, but I do have special hoofed boots that add five inches to my height. That makes me about 6ft 8ins!…

(8) TRAPPED IN AMBER. Irish/Dutch writer couple Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten talk about the future of the sword and sorcery genre — and if it has one: “Fled & Done: Sword & Sorcery” at Turnip Lanterns.

…Modern Sword & Sorcery writers face an uphill battle, if they want to emerge from the shadow of Conan (including, and in particular, his Marvel comics and Schwarzenegger film incarnations). And that indeed sums up our dilemma: is it worth trying to expand the genre, when the general audience’s idea of S&S has calcified in cliché? Especially when a large section of S&S fans (and authors) have very firm ideas of what S&S was, is and always will be?…

(9) INTERNATIONAL TOLKIEN FANDOM. Brazilian podcast Tolkien Talk did a video Q&A with acclaimed Tolkien scholar Douglas Anderson. It’s the fifth in their series of major international interviews. Find the others at their Tolkien Talk YouTube channel.

Meet Douglas A. Anderson, creator of The Annotated Hobbit and one of the most important tolkienists of our time. All the way from his first contact with J.R.R. Tolkien’s work to unveiling misconceptions throughout the time, get an overview on Tolkien’s life and works from one that accessed them directly.

(10) CRIMINAL RECORD. Anthony Horowitz has reached a crime fiction award milestone: “Horowitz becomes Japan’s most-decorated foreign crime author” at The Bookseller.

Author Anthony Horowitz has won the Best Mystery of the Decade award by Honkaku Mystery Writers Club for his first Daniel Hawthorne novel, The Word is Murder, making him the most-decorated foreign crime author in Japanese history.

Horowitz is the first author in Japanese history to win 16 literary awards in total, according to his publisher…. 

(11) WHY THIS SOUNDS FAMILIAR. “’I Am Legend’ screenwriter responds to conspiracy theory about vaccines and zombies”Yahoo! has the story.

There are a multitude of reasons why people are hesitant or refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine in the midst of a pandemic that’s killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. and millions worldwide, from distrust in science and medicine to wariness towards the government and also… zombies?

New York Times report last weekend about a Bronx-based eyewear company struggling to persuade its employees to get jabbed referenced one worker whose hesitancy was based off of the belief that the COVID vaccine is the shot that turned people into zombies in the 2007 post-apocalyptic film I Am Legend.

As the Times pointed out, the zombification portrayed in the box office hit starring Will Smith was caused by a genetically reprogrammed virus, not the vaccine for it. But the bizarre claim has still flourished on the hotbed of vaccination misinformation that is social media.

On Monday, I Am Legend screenwriter Akiva Goldsman entered the chat.

“Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real,” Goldsman tweeted in response to journalist and comic book writer Marc Bernadin, who shared a screencap of the article with quote, “We. Are. All. Going. To. Die. Sooner. Than. We. Should.”…

(12) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2013 – Eight years ago, Futurama ended its run. It had four seasons on FOX, and when cancelled there was revived by Comedy Central and ran another three seasons. In between, reruns aired on Adult Swim.  It was created by Matt Groening of Simpsons fame. Over its seven seasons, it would run for one hundred and seventy episodes. There would be four later films, Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder. It had a legendary voice cast of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman and Frank Welker. It was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Script for the “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” episode during the last season. It has a ninety-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter  from his own novel. He won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form at Dublin 2019  for Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and was nominated for six more. ISFDB notes Donovan’s Brain was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available from the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon, and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents — four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World including “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine.“ (Died 1978.)
  • Born August 10, 1913 Noah Beery Jr. Genre wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy IslandBeyond Witch MountainThe Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 10, 1931 Alexis A. Gilliland, 90. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that? And he won the Rotsler Award for fan art in 2006.  He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak, neither of which I’ve read, so do tell me about them please. 
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 77. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her?
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 66. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell, written by Alan Moore, and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
  • Born August 10, 1960 Antonio Banderas, 61. Genre work in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the Spy Kids franchise, voice work in the Puss in Boots and Shrek franchises, appearances in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and the New Mutants. He’s James Mangold in the forthcoming Indiana Jones film. 
  • Born August 10, 1965 Claudia Christian, 56. Best known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space RangersHighlanderQuantum LeapRelic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six episode series shot in ‘05 you can see on Amazon Prime.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) UP TO DATE. Entertainment Weekly says Robin is now bi. “Robin becomes a bisexual icon in new Batman comic”. Clearly it doesn’t cut it to keep visualizing Burt Ward/Robin as Adam West/Bruce Wayne’s teenage ward — I missed the part where Robin was dating at all.

The latest issue of Batman: Urban Legends, a monthly anthology series, revealed that the Caped Crusader’s longtime sidekick Robin, specifically the Tim Drake version of him, is bisexual. 

The moment came at the end of part 3 of the Sum of Our Parts story, from writer Meghan Fitzmartin, artist Belén Ortega, colorist Alejandro Sánchez, and letterer Pat Brosseau. 

(16) SUBSTACK GROWING. “Comic Book Writers and Artists Follow Other Creators to Substack” – the New York Times tells how it will work.

… Nick Spencer, a comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Entertainment, was the liaison between Substack and a group of creators who, starting Monday, will publish new comic book stories, essays and how-to guides on the platform.

He said he approached Chris Best, a Substack founder, with the idea last year, when the pandemic was keeping many fans out of the comic book shops and the creators were looking for new ways to connect with readers.

The initial lineup includes comic-centric newsletters from Saladin AhmedJonathan HickmanMolly OstertagScott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with other writers and artists to be announced.

The creators will be paid by Substack while keeping ownership of their work. The company will take most of the subscription revenue in the first year; after that, it will take a 10 percent cut.

Mr. Tynion, who last month won an Eisner Award, the comic industry’s highest honor, for best writer, said he would break away from writing Batman for DC Entertainment to devote time to his creator-owned series and his Substack newsletter.

(17) KEEPING THE BOOKS. Lazy Rabbit has a set of humorous pictures of librarian jokes on Facebook.

(18) CATS FOR ADOPTION. Let’s signal boost the availability for adoption of a new litter of kittens in Los Angeles. The owner is a friend of Gideon Marcus of Galactic Journey. You can reach her by emailing digginginthewrongplace (at) gmail (dot) com.

The momma cat is approx two years old. We just had her spayed and she had a dental check too. She’s negative for all diseases/fleas/worms, and in great health.

Kitties are 9 weeks old. All in great health. Too young to be neutered yet.

Let me know if anyone’s interested!

(19) CANDLING THE EGGS. SYFY Wire got first dibs on this 90-second video: “Monsters at Work: Explore the Pixar show’s various Easter eggs”.

SYFY WIRE is excited to debut an exclusive featurette that breaks down a number of these subtle — and not-so-subtle — references in the Disney+ series. Series executive producer Bobs Gannaway tells us that all of the Easter eggs “happened naturally and came from anyone on the crew at any phase of production — be it a storyboard artist adding something in the board, or the art director dressing the set.” 

“We focused mostly on world expansion — using the graphics to suggest parts of the world we will never see: like the Laffeteria menu, or advertisements on the back of Roz’s newspaper,” he continues. “We also focused things more inward and on our characters. For example, Duncan’s nameplate changes every episode, and whenever he’s listening to his boom box, the ‘mixtape’ is labeled. You have to really zoom into the frames to see those. Other things aren’t so much Easter eggs as they are just having fun: like changing the theme music every time during the credits to reflect that episode’s story, and doing something different each time with the wind-up teeth in the Mike’s Comedy Class title card. Everyone has a good time adding the details to the world.”

(20) TRICK OR TRICK. “’Muppets Haunted Mansion’ Halloween Special First Images Revealed” – see the pics at Halloween Daily News. Below is the trailer from May.

On today’s 52nd anniversary of the premiere of the Haunted Mansion dark ride at Disneyland, two first-look images from this October’s new Muppets Haunted Mansion Halloween special have been released, including Kermit and Miss Piggy in costume …as each other.

The special will feature the Muppets cast, along with celebrity cameos, new music, and fittingly seasonal fun for all ages.

Muppets Haunted Mansion will take place on Halloween Night, when Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in The Haunted Mansion.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers, The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword”, Fandom Games says this is “the motion-control Zelda game no one asked for” where “every fight feels like doing a bunch of morphone before a high-school fencing match.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, BravoLimaPoppa, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Flaneur.]

34 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/10/21 The Scrolls Are Lovely, Dark And Deep, But I Have Pixels To Keep

  1. 13) Ward Moore’s No Blade of Grass fell into my hands recently. It’s a light end-of-the-world satire. I enjoyed it but didn’t fall in love. I believe it’s an abridged paperback.

  2. (4) The Futurama mention isn’t quite right. On this date eighteen years ago, Futurama ended its run on Fox. The three (or five, depending on who’s counting) seasons on Comedy Central came after this, from 2009 to 2013. See Wikipedia for details.

  3. (13) L.A. library lists the genres for Erskine’s books as “ghost” and “thriller”.

  4. 13). Fairbanks’ Mark of Zorro is the first screen Zorro I believe. I think it was also the first movie swashbuckler. It marked Fairbanks’ move from light comedies to action swashbucklers, though the swordplay is rather comical. It wasn’t until the silent version of Scaramouche that we see authentic fencing moves incorporated.

  5. Troyce says Fairbanks’ Mark of Zorro is the first screen Zorro I believe. I think it was also the first movie swashbuckler. It marked Fairbanks’ move from light comedies to action swashbucklers, though the swordplay is rather comical. It wasn’t until the silent version of Scaramouche that we see authentic fencing moves incorporated.

    It is indeed the first Zorro film in 1925 followed by Don Q, Son of Zorro with Fairbanks as well. There’s been at least forty Zorro films since then. Interestingly the earliest Mexican film is over twenty years later, El Nieto del Zorro. And it’s not a popular genre there.

  6. 3) DC isn’t usually very wintery in mid-December, but I wouldn’t want Silverberg to slip and fall in snow if there was any. He’s old enough that such a thing could be very dangerous.

  7. Mama cat dropped in my friend’s music studio in Inglewood, popped out four kids!

    They spayed mama and now are trying to keep the kitties out of a shelter. Any help will be greatly appreciated!

    Her email is digginginthewrongplace at gmail.com

  8. For my money (all $.25 of it), Futurama offered some of the most authentic SF ever on TV, even while it was kinda making fun of (and having fun with) it. That writing crew got SF in ways that nobody but Rod Serling seemed to–and unlike Serling, they didn’t have to worry about the cost of special effects.

  9. 8) Sword & Sorcery (especially of the REH/Conan school) has a lot of tropes and cliches that too many people see as “rules” for the genre. Some rules need to be, if not actually broken (which might throw a story into another genre or subgenre altogether), at least stretched in different directions. Maybe that’s deeper characterization. Maybe that’s using different cultures and history for worldbuilding than the usual suspects. Maybe it’s trying new points of view or different narrative techniques. Maybe all of these suggestions add up to… dare I say it?… diversity, in representation and style and technique and whatever other directions new S&S might be written,

    And if those new directions step over the low fence onto Heroic Fantasy’s lawn, or High Fantasy’s, or Fantasy in general… would that really be so bad? Would it really pollute the precious bodily fluids of Howardesque S&S?

    But in the end, it really all depends on what new generations of writers find worthwhile in traditional S&S, and what they use from it to create their own new and individual takes, imbued with their own viewpoints and approaches and experiences.

    (That said, some of my own stories have been very much influenced by REH and other old pulp writers. But I hope my own authorial voice and choices are strong enough to be seen as writing in the tradition of those older writers, and not imitating them.)

  10. (1) I’m glad the issues at Goodreads are beginning to get more coverage. It remains a haven for trolls and scammers and even quite basic protections aren’t in place. It relies on the free labour of book reviewers but won’t invest in protecting people from malicious behaviour.

    (5) Thanks for the plug. I’m beginning to feel like I’m catching up with myself. Also, I’ve been speculating for years that the admins curate the nominations and there’s been back-and-forth arguments about that…and yet there was a File 770 post where David Cody of Dragon Con directly stated that is what they were going to do. “We’re going to use experts in the various disciplines to create the final nomination lists after examining all the nominations.” http://file770.com/dragon-awards-updates/ That was always the plan. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth nominating but it does mean that if a book is a Dragon Award finalist it is because the Dragon Award admins decided that it should be.

  11. Ward Moore’s “Lot” (short story) was apparently the inspiration for “Panic in Year Zero” (movie).

  12. Meredith moment: the first three volumes of Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey’s Thieves’ World’s anthologies are available from the usual suspects for three dollars and ninety nine cents. Mighty fine reading that the Suck Fairy has been unable to get near.

  13. Camestros Felapton says I’m glad the issues at Goodreads are beginning to get more coverage. It remains a haven for trolls and scammers and even quite basic protections aren’t in place. It relies on the free labour of book reviewers but won’t invest in protecting people from malicious behaviour.

    Goodreads is a cesspool. And the reviews are overwhelmingly useless as they are mostly fawning pieces that lack any attempt to really review the books that they are looking at.

    Now listening to Charles Stross’ Empire Games

  14. Russell Letson says For my money (all $.25 of it), Futurama offered some of the most authentic SF ever on TV, even while it was kinda making fun of (and having fun with) it. That writing crew got SF in ways that nobody but Rod Serling seemed to–and unlike Serling, they didn’t have to worry about the cost of special effects.

    Well it wasn’t cheap. Futurama used to cost between one million and one point five million dollars per episode to produce. That’s actually about what it costs for the SFX for say an episode of Stargate SG1. So you don’t actually save anything by producing an animated show. And Serling rarely did SFX.

  15. Cat: When teenage print-SF-nerd me got a chance to talk to Serling, I asked him why he didn’t do more of the kind of SF I liked, with, like, rockets and stuff. He told me that an effects sequence could cost as much as the the entire budget for a given show. My first exposure to the realities of the entertainment biz. (Serling, by the way, couldn’t have been nicer or more patient with a kid who showed up at his breakfast, while he was on vacation, with a bunch of naive questions.)

    Ingvar: The print-SF nerd mentioned above always longed for seamless, immersive, convincing movie/TV visualizations of the impossibilities that the stories demanded. 2001 was the first film I recall where the effects didn’t call attention to themselves, even as the (by that time, pretty experienced moviegoer) was also wondering, “How did Kubrick do that?” A few years later, Star Wars got a similar response, and the full flowering of CGI means that my wow response is more likely to be triggered by old-fashioned filmmaking chops like montage or art direction or even writing and acting. (I never got to see Forbidden Planet in a theatrical 35mm print, and by the time I did see it, my eye had been spoiled by Kubrick.)

    One of the great pleasures of Futurama is the amount of throw-away detail they manage to stuff into a scene. Some movies go for the same density, but rarely with the same sense of fun–The Fifth Element felt like a live-action cousin of Futurama.

  16. (8) They mention ‘Game of Thrones’ and ask why it doesn’t “translate to a renaissance of Sword & Sorcery, then, when it’s so clearly visible in their blood and sinews?”

    I only watched a few eps of the TV series and haven’t read past book 4 but I don’t recall a whole lot of what I think of as “S&S”. The Arya Stark stuff maybe?

    For me S&S needs things like ‘a protagonist on the edges or outside of society’ and a lot of ‘only trust your fists / police will never help you’ in a fantasy setting.

    Actually how’s that for a title, ‘Only trust your Scrolls / Pixels will never help you’.

  17. 1.) This whole mess is why I’ve not actively solicited reviews for my books–I’ve been hearing about Goodreads problems for YEARS, and before Amazon instituted its current rules, it was a problem there as well.

    The flip side is that until four years ago, I was teaching in the US k-12 education system in some form or another, either as a substitute or regularly employed. Becoming a target for reviewbombers, etc, and getting negative attention on social media can be problematic in that profession. Especially for someone who was a mouthy union activist.

    (Of course, to be honest, I’m really crappy about self-promo, and I hate asking people for reviews. But the Goodreads situation doesn’t help, and when it first started being discussed, I backed away hard from asking for reviews)

    8.) Sword and Sorcery really does need to evolve, and not solely into the world of grimdark. I’ve seen some small efforts in that direction, but would like to see more without having to write it myself.

    16.) Given the most recent announcement from Medium about requirements for participation in the Medium Partner Program, I expect to see a lot more action on Substack, Ghost, and other such venues. Requiring set numbers of followers before being able to participate in the program and making that standard for future participation in the payout program, is…somewhat obnoxious (amongst other things I could say). And that’s just one piece of their proposed changes, including bounties for bringing in new Medium members. That sounds like there may be issues over at Medium (but aren’t there always issues over at Medium?).

  18. Russell Letson wrote:

    One of the great pleasures of Futurama is the amount of throw-away detail they manage to stuff into a scene. Some movies go for the same density, but rarely with the same sense of fun–The Fifth Element felt like a live-action cousin of Futurama.

    Yes! For me, one of the joys of watching Futurama was looking for those details–especially in the opening sequence. Now how many ads were there for Bachelor Chow?

  19. @ Bruce Arthurs: Sword and sorcery, of course, evolved out of existing pulp adventure formulas that developed in Argosy and Blue Book and such–“oriental” or exotic-climes tales, pirate stories, westerns, Foreign Legion adventures, even romances. You can see all of that in the range of work that pulpsters like Burroughs, Talbot Mundy, and Howard turned out. And S&S as solidified by Howard quickly generated its own set of variations and hybrids–C. L. Moore, de Camp & Pratt, Leiber. It remained a bit of a niche until Tolkien broadened the audience–in much the same way that Star Wars showed the market appeal of space opera and then other SFX-intensive movies.

    Genres always morph and develop as audiences and creators look for ways to keep themselves amused–and there almost always remains a stable or conservative center where reliable, familiar product can be found, thanks to the efforts of market-savvy producers-of-product. The history of the western movie illustrates this pattern of centers and peripheries–remember the rise of the “adult western”? Or the impacts of High Noon and Sergio Leone and Peckinpah? (And how did Hearts of the West come about?)

  20. Russell Letson says Cat: When teenage print-SF-nerd me got a chance to talk to Serling, I asked him why he didn’t do more of the kind of SF I liked, with, like, rockets and stuff. He told me that an effects sequence could cost as much as the the entire budget for a given show. My first exposure to the realities of the entertainment biz. (Serling, by the way, couldn’t have been nicer or more patient with a kid who showed up at his breakfast, while he was on vacation, with a bunch of naive questions.)

    Since the Fifties, SFX have been terribly expensive. Even a short sequence can put a reasonably budgeted show way over the top. And I don’t get the sense that CBS was exactly lavish with the monies that it gave Serling to produce that series.

    Neat story btw.

  21. Alexis Gilliland – “won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that?” asks Cat. I remember this coming up before, maybe a year or two ago. The answer was, approximately, that it was a one-time, tongue-in-cheek award.

  22. (13) I’ve read two of the Wizenbeak books, the ones I could find copies of, and remember enjoying them. Wizenbeak, the wizard from Gilliland’s cartoons, is just trying to get by but keeps getting forced into taking more and more responsibility and power. He’s maybe a little too competent and historically informed to be completely plausible, but it makes for an entertaining read. You don’t have to read them in order, they stand by themselves pretty well.

  23. 1) And according to some of those targeted by the trolls, after that article, the troll accounts and reviews have suddenly vanished. Who could have predicted that would happen?

  24. 8.) Sword and Sorcery really does need to evolve, and not solely into the world of grimdark. I’ve seen some small efforts in that direction, but would like to see more without having to write it myself.

    Sword and sorcery is involving and there is interesting new sword and sorcery out there (the bloggers have written some of it), but it’s still very much a niche pursuit. Plus, sword and sorcery fandom is afflicted by its own version of the Sad and Rabid Puppies (sometimes involving the same people).

  25. Meredith moment over at Audible: The Shadow – The Complete Radio Show Collection – Volume 2, forty hours of the Orson Welles radio series for a mere four dollars and ninety nine cents. The Shadow – The Complete Radio Show Collection – Volume 3, another twenty hours is also available but volume one is not available.

  26. Back in the Sixties I lived for a while with Philadelphia fans Harriett and Steve Kolchak. They threw a fabulous party every two years, and had a room full of books they could bear to part with available for the taking, along with shopping bags. They also tried to have every kind of liquor available that they could find, just in case somebody wanted something out of the ordinary. I was not the only young fan they took in or helped over the years.

    Harriett would take in any stray cat that came by, so at one point I lived in a house with more than forty cats.

    Harriett would not have any of them fixed, so the cats multiplied. However, Steve was a long time employee of the railroads, and Harriett had a railroad pass that would take her anywhere in the United States. If anybody in fandom wanted a kitten, Harriett would bring you one, no matter how far away you lived. I think she once delivered a kitten to Seattle.

    I was sent shopping once a week to the downstairs deli at the Reading Train Terminal. The downstairs deli was where they sold the lunchmeats that had not sold at the upstairs deli. I bought two shopping bags of lunchmeat and brought them home across town, and I was usually the one who made us sandwiches for lunch.

    It was a simple process. Three sandwiches, and for every slice of meat on the sandwich I tossed a slice into the air for the cats who sat around the kitchen on every surface. They never fought because I was charged with fair distribution of largess, and the meat never hit the ground.

    I remember at one of the parties watching in awe as Theodore Sturgeon and Leslie Fish played guitar together. –Leslie tried to teach me to play guitar, and that may have been the only failure of her life. Ted was better at teaching me to write.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.