Pixel Scroll 8/12/20 You Can Pixel Your Friends, And You Can Pixel Your Scroll, But You Can’t Pixel Your Friend’s Scroll

(1) AIRCHECK. WNYC’s The Takeaway had a segment with Victor LaValle and Silvia Moreno-Garcia today: “New Generation of Writers of Color Reckon with H.P. Lovecraft’s Racism”. Both authors discuss their first encounters with Lovecraft and how later readings opened them up to recognizing more of Lovecraft’s personal failings. The Retro Hugos are discussed and criticized by Moreno-Garcia.

This weekend, the television show “Lovecraft Country,” premieres on HBO. Based on a book by Matt Ruff, the show is set during the Jim Crow South, and combines the actual terrors of racism with the fantastical horror of author H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote most of his work in the early 20th century. In real life, Lovecraft was extremely racist, and his personal letters reveal his opposition to interracial relationships, as well as his support of Adolf Hitler.

While his influence has been felt in fantasy and horror for decades, a new generation of writers, particularly writers of color, have recently begun to reckon with his bigoted views in their own fiction.

The Takeaway speaks with two of the acclaimed authors who have worked to reclaim Lovecraft’s work for women and people of color, Victor LaValle is the author of “The Changeling,” and Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of “Mexican Gothic.”

(2) DELANY LECTURE TO BE WEBCAST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Yale’s annual Donald Windham Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes are going online this year. That’s good news for SFF fans, because it means that we’ll get to tune in for their keynote guest speaker Samuel R. Delany. Delany will deliver the 2020 Windham-Campbell Lecture on the subject “Why I write.” The lecture will be cast at 5:00 p.m. Eastern on September 16 at windhamcampbell.org. (“Samuel R. Delany to Deliver the 2020 Windham-Campbell Lecture”.)

(3) ARECIBO OBSERVATORY DAMAGED. Vice leads the mourning: “A Broken Cable Has Wrecked One of Earth’s Largest Radio Telescopes”. But they intend to restore it to full operation.

The Arecibo Observatory, one of the largest single-aperture radio telescopes in the world, has suffered extensive damage after an auxiliary cable snapped and crashed through the telescope’s reflector dish.

…In addition to halting scientific observations at the telescope, the accident is sad news for anyone inspired by Arecibo’s status as a cultural icon and its pioneering role in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). 

The observatory was written into the plot of Carl Sagan’s bestselling novel Contact, as well as its 1997 film adaptation. It has also served as the backdrop in the James Bond film GoldenEye, the X-Files episode “Little Green Men,” and the multiplayer map for the game Battlefield 4, among its many other popular depictions. 

Arecibo is also a popular tourist destination in Puerto Rico that attracts nearly 100,000 visitors each year, according to its visitor center.

(4) SCALZI’S NINETIES MOVIE REVIEWS. Since Richard Paolinelli (unintentionally) made people curious to read John Scalzi’s syndicated movie reviews from the 1990s, here’s a link to a set of them on his old website [Internet Archive]. The Starship Troopers and Alien Resurrection reviews are from immediately after Scalzi left his reviewing gig; the rest are from while he was writing reviews for the Fresno Bee. (These reviews are not on the current iteration of the site.)

(5) BRADBURY PANEL. The 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate “American Ingenuity” in 2020, featuring the creativity and inspiration of some of the nation’s most gifted authors in a reimagined virtual festival from September 25-27.

The festival will honor Ray Bradbury with a discussion exploring his ingenious imagination and his enduring influence on literature, space exploration, and our collective curiosity. Bradbury historian and biographer Jonathan Eller will moderate the panel featuring writer and visionary Ann Druyan, co-creator of Cosmos; science fiction writer Mary Robinette Kowal, winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards; and Leland Melvin, NASA engineer, astronaut, and educator.

(6) BECOMING DOCTOROW. [Item by Olav Rokne.]  On the eve of his induction into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, Cory Doctorow took to Twitter in tribute to several foundational figures who mentored him in his formative years. There are some very nice details in the thread about Judith Merril, Tanya Huff, and others. Worth a read. Thread starts here.    

As an aside, I maintain that the CSFF HoF trophy is one of the most beautiful trophy designs in all fandom. 

(7) THE POINT. Athena Scalzi opened my eyes to a generational difference in attitude about punctuation in “Periods. What Are They Good For.” at Whatever.

…More often than not, people my age opt to completely leave out any type of punctuation at the end of texts or tweets, especially short messages, because there’s no need to punctuate if there’s only one sentence, you can just send the message and that counts as the ending point. In addition, Twitter has a character limit, and why waste a character on a period?

I can absolutely confirm without a doubt that everyone my age for some reason thinks that periods are passive-aggressive as hell and if you use one in a text you must be mad about something, or upset with the person you’re sending it to. You just sound… so angry. I can’t explain where this logic came from, but we all hear it the same way. Periods mean you’re unhappy. When you send a sentence with a period, you are sending a clear-cut statement that has a finite end, so it must be about something serious….

(8) KICKSTARTER.The Recognize Fascism Anthology” Kickstarter has hit $12,000 on the way to a $15,000 stretch goal that would allow them to also do an audiobook. And all backers who pledge at or above the “$25 or more” level will receive a digital copy of the Recognize Fascism audiobook.

The 70,000 word anthology edited by Crystal M. Huff features 22 authors from 9 different countries. See the Table of Contents here. The Kickstarter updates include there Recognize Fascism authors reading excerpts of their stories:

(9) I’M THE DOCTOR, NOT A BRICKLAYER. Gizmodo heard that “David Tennant Wants to Beam Aboard Star Trek”.

In a recent Reddit AMA (as reported by Syfy Wire), Tennant was asked what major franchise he’d want to cross off of his bucket list next. He’s already made waves as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, a Marvel villain in Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and a sexy demon in Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. But there’s one major series he said he’s still keen on joining.

(10) OUT FROM UNDER. BBC reports “Middlemarch and other works by women reissued under their real names”.

Novels written by women using male pen names have been reissued using the authors’ actual names.

The collection includes George Eliot’s Middlemarch, which has been reissued under the author’s real name, Mary Ann Evans, for the first time.

The 25 titles have been released to mark the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The Reclaim Her Name library features newly commissioned cover artwork from female designers.

Other titles in the collection include A Phantom Lover, a gothic horror novel Violet Paget published under the pen name Vernon Lee.

Also featured is Indiana by George Sand, the male pseudonym used by the 19th Century French novelist Amantine Aurore Dupin.

(11) RE MINDER. NESFA’s reCONvene 2020 is happening August 15.

reCONvene is an online convention, organized for science fiction and fantasy fans by fans. In addition to featuring traditional content such as panel discussions, solo talks, and demos, we are also taking advantage of the online environment to try a few new things that aren’t normally possible at in-person conventions. We look forward to having you join us.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in three volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  (Died 1962.) (CE)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) and did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.) (CE)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrotethe original Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon“ as a screenplay which he but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born August 12, 1936 – George Flynn, Ph.D., F.N.  Stalwart of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n).  Proofreader for NESFA Press; widely regarded as the best proofreader in SF.  Named Fellow of NESFA (service award).  Representative of the Fannish Frisian Freedom Front to the Highmore in ’76 Worldcon bid.  Knight and Wilhelm bibliographies for Noreascon Two Pgm Bk (38th Worldcon).  Administrator of Hugo Awards.  Reporter of WSFS (World SF Soc.) Business Meetings for SF Chronicle.  Head of the Long List Committee.  Letters in Banana WingsThe Frozen FrogIzzardJanusPatchin Review.  A fine man to watch the Masquerade (on-stage costume competition) with, quiet, observant, articulate.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished having become the longest-serving Doctor Who producer and cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. (Died 2002.) (CE) 
  • Born August 12, 1948 – Tim Wynne-Jones, O.C., 72.  Three novels for us, a score of shorter stories; many others, children’s and adults’.  Radio dramas & songs.  “I stole my father’s Welsh moodiness and his love of awful puns.”  Here is his cover for North by 2000.  Seal First Novel Award, Edgar Award, Metcalf Award.  Two Boston Globe – Horn Book Awards.  Three Governor General’s Awards.  Officer of the Order of Canada.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 12, 1954 Sam J. Jones, 66. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit which I’ve not seen and am now very curious about. (CE)
  • Born August 12, 1957 Elaine Cunningham, 63. She’s best known for her work on Dungeons & Dragons creating the campaign setting of Forgotten Realms, including the realms of EvermeetHalruaa, Ruathym and Waterdeep. She’s also wrote The Changeling Detective Agency series as well as a Star Wars novel, Dark Journey. (CE) 
  • Born August 12, 1967 – Kelly McCullough, 53.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories, for us; many others.  Writers of the Future winner.  Actor in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota Renaissance Festivals.  Essays in ApexUncanny.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 12, 1969 – Rachel Kadish, 51.  “A gifted writer, astonishingly adept at nuance, narration, and the politics of passion,” says Toni Morrison.  Three novels; two dozen shorter stories, essays in the New England ReviewParis ReviewPloughsharesSalamanderSalonSlateStory; one short story for us (in The Iowa Review!).  Gardner Award, Koret Award, Nat’l Jewish Book Award.  “On Asking Dangerous Questions About Spinoza” for the American Philosophical Ass’n.  [JH]
  • Born August 12, 1971 – Erin McKean, 49.  Lexicographer; Principal Editor, New Oxford Amer. Dictionary (2nd ed’n); editor, Verbatim.  Seven books; one short story for us.  “Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’”.  [JH]
  • Born August 12, 1987 – Tom Moran, 33.  Two novels for us, half a dozen shorter stories, half a dozen covers, a dozen interiors.  Here is Breaking Eggs.  Guardian and Legend Press prize (books “that are not only zeitgeisty and promising, but will be talked about in 10 or even 100 years’ time”) for Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full worries about a superhero affected by the pandemic.

(14) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Kevin Hearne, Chuck Wendig, and Delilah S. Dawson will join the Essence of Wonder team on Saturday, August 15 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, along with special guest Amal El-Mohtar who will come back on the show to interview Kevin about his work. Kevin, Chuck, and Delilah will discuss the art and science of location scouting, and their joint hobby of nature photography “as a moment on zen”. Register here: “Kevin Hearne And Friends on Location Scouting, and Nature Photography”.

(15) THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If there’s one thing that Canadians love more than bragging about our universal health care system, it’s talking about the future of the health care system. Fresh off his fourth time on the Hugo shortlist, Canuck fan writer James Davis Nicoll takes a look at some of the various ways that science fiction writers have imagined health care systems. I’m just surprised that he doesn’t talk about Mercy Point — ”Five Science-Fictional Approaches to Healthcare” at Tor.com.

Recently I encountered an SF novel in which medical care—more exactly, healthcare funding—featured as a significant element. Curiously, the work drew on the same rather implausible healthcare system used to such effect in, say, Breaking Bad. No doubt the author was simply unaware of other approaches. Other science fiction authors have been more imaginative when it comes to healthcare systems, as these five examples show….

(16) MÖRK, NOT FROM ORK. “Unleash the minstrels of pain! Mörk Borg, the metal role-playing game rocking lockdown”The Guardian has the story.

The dungeon-master Flintwyrm explains to four adventurers over a voice call that the only way to stop the apocalypse is to play the most intense extreme-metal song imaginable. All they have to do is find a concert venue called The Hall of Cacophonous Screams, an endless keg of beer, and five “minstrels of pain” to frontline their jam session, all the while surviving goblins and the forthcoming apocalypse. Flintwyrm, a 29-year-old named Christopher Joel, is excited about the adventure: this is how he and hundreds of strangers are bonding during quarantine, whether they are role-playing gamers, metalheads, or somewhere in between.

Welcome to Mörk Borg, the headbanger of a game that is the latest example of the fertile cross-pollination between tabletop role-playing and extreme metal: a love letter to the hellraising imagery, lyrics, and album art of metal.

(17) A FILER ON FAULKNER. The current Atlantic has a review by former Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War by Michael Gorra — “What to Do About William Faulkner”. Most Filers may not know that Gorra, the eminent English professor at Smith College, was once a fanzine publisher. And Gorra commented here as recently as 2012!

…Michael Gorra, an English professor at Smith, believes Faulkner to be the most important novelist of the 20th century. In his rich, complex, and eloquent new book, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War, he makes the case for how and why to read Faulkner in the 21st by revisiting his fiction through the lens of the Civil War, “the central quarrel of our nation’s history.” Rarely an overt subject, one “not dramatized so much as invoked,” the Civil War is both “everywhere” and “nowhere” in Faulkner’s work. He cannot escape the war, its aftermath, or its meaning, and neither, Gorra insists, can we. As the formerly enslaved Ringo remarks in The Unvanquished (1938) during Reconstruction-era conflict over voting rights, “This war aint over. Hit just started good.” This is why for us, as for Jason and Quentin Compson in The Sound and the Fury (1929), was and again are “the saddest words.” As Gorra explains, “What was is never over.”

In setting out to explore what Faulkner can tell us about the Civil War and what the war can tell us about Faulkner, Gorra engages as both historian and literary critic. But he also writes, he confesses, as an “act of citizenship.” His book represents his own meditation on the meaning of the “forever war” of race, not just in American history and literature, but in our fraught time. What we think today about the Civil War, he believes, “serves above all to tell us what we think about ourselves, about the nature of our polity and the shape of our history.”

…Gorra underscores the “incoherence” of Faulkner’s position as both critic and defender of the white South’s resistance to change….

(18) WORTH A ROYALTY. Garik16’s “Fantasy Novella Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo” wishes the story had been even longer.

…And it’s a really nice story of memory and queerness and family, told by an old woman (identified only as “Rabbit”) to a “Cleric” of an order of archivists, telling mainly the story of the just deceased Empress, from a time in her life when she was in exile.  It’s a tale of memory, love, and family and what it all means, as we and the archivist find out about how one cast off woman managed to fight back against a man in power determined to keep her out of his way, and what it cost in the end.

(19) THE TAENIIDAE FAMILY. “Save The Whales. Save The Tigers. Save The Tapeworms?” They’re creepy and they’re kooky – no, wait, that’s somebody else.

They’re wiggly and slimy and live inside the flesh of other animals. Now, scientists are making a new case for why they should be saved.

Parasites play crucial roles in ecosystems around the world, making up around 40% of animal species. As wildlife faces the growing threats of climate change and habitat loss, scientists warn that parasites are equally vulnerable.

That’s why a team of scientists has released a “global parasite conservation plan.”

“Parasites have a major public relations problem,” says Chelsea Wood, assistant professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Most people don’t really like thinking about them, but the fact is they’re really important in ecosystems.”

…”We think that about 1 in every 10 parasite species might be threatened with extinction in the next 50 years just from losing their habitat,” says Colin Carlson, assistant professor and biologist at Georgetown University. “But when we account for that they might also lose their hosts, it pushes it closer to about 1 in every 3 species of parasite.”

“That’s an extinction rate that’s almost unthinkable at broad scales,” Carslon says.

(20) ‘POD PEOPLE. NPR talked to people who think “Gene-Altered Squid Could Be The Next Lab Rats”. Sounds fascinating, right?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: So what he’s saying there is it’s a big world out there with all kinds of organisms whose genes we could be studying, but, you know, we’re not really. So Josh and his colleagues have been trying to add another organism to that short list of model organisms, and what he’s most interested in are squids.

KWONG: Oh, like cephalopods.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Right – squid, cuttlefish, octopuses – all cephalopods.

(21) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT A ZILLION YEARS AGO. What a croc — “‘Teeth The Size Of Bananas’; New Study Paints Picture Of ‘Terror Crocodiles'”.

Enormous “terror crocodiles” once roamed the earth and preyed on dinosaurs, according to a new study revisiting fossils from the gigantic Late Cretaceous crocodylian, Deinosuchus.

The research, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, reiterates that Deinosuchus were among the largest crocodylians ever in existence, reaching up to 33 feet in length. New in this study is a look at the anatomy of the Deinosuchus, which was achieved by piecing together various specimens unknown until now, giving a fuller picture of the animal.

Adam Cossette, a vertebrate paleobiologist at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, led the study that corrected some misunderstandings about the Deinosuchus.

“Until now, the complete animal was unknown,” Cossette said. “These new specimens we’ve examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.”

Past studies on cranial remains and bite marks on dinosaur bones led paleontologists to believe the massive Deinosuchus were an opportunistic predator, according to the press release. Fossil specimens now make it clear that Deinosuchus did indeed have the head size and jaw strength to have its pick of prey, including large dinosaurs.

“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” Cossette said.

(22) THE NEIGHS HAVE IT. “Europe’s earliest bone tools found in Britain” – BBC is on the lookout.

Archaeologists say they’ve identified the earliest known bone tools in the European archaeological record.

The implements come from the renowned Boxgrove site in West Sussex, which was excavated in the 1980s and 90s.

The bone tools came from a horse that humans butchered at the site for its meat.

Flakes of stone in piles around the animal suggest at least eight individuals were making large flint knives for the job.

Researchers also found evidence that other people were present nearby – perhaps younger or older members of a community – shedding light on the social structure of our ancient relatives.

There’s nothing quite like Boxgrove elsewhere in Britain: during excavations, archaeologists uncovered hundreds of stone tools, along with animal bones, that dated to 500,000 years ago.

They were made by the species Homo heidelbergensis, a possible ancestor for modern humans and Neanderthals.

(23) GIVING AWAY THE ENDING. Since you won’t be around to see this anyway, no spoiler warning is required. Science says “This is the way the universe ends: not with a whimper, but a bang”.

In the unimaginably far future, cold stellar remnants known as black dwarfs will begin to explode in a spectacular series of supernovae, providing the final fireworks of all time. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which posits that the universe will experience one last hurrah before everything goes dark forever….

…The particles in a white dwarf stay locked in a crystalline lattice that radiates heat for trillions of years, far longer than the current age of the universe. But eventually, these relics cool off and become a black dwarf.

Because black dwarfs lack energy to drive nuclear reactions, little happens inside them. Fusion requires charged atomic nuclei to overcome a powerful electrostatic repulsion and merge. Yet over long time periods, quantum mechanics allows particles to tunnel through energetic barriers, meaning fusion can still occur, albeit at extremely low rates.

…Caplan says the dramatic detonations will begin to occur about 101100 years from now, a number the human brain can scarcely comprehend. The already unfathomable number 10100 is known as a googol, so 101100 would be a googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol years. The explosions would continue until 1032000 years from now, which would require most of a magazine page to represent in a similar fashion.

(24) CREATE A NEED AND FILL IT. Archie McPhee offers the Office Possum. You didn’t know you needed one, did you?

This perfect possum has posable paws so it can hang on the side of a garbage can, computer monitor or anything with a ledge. It even has a tail for creepy dangling! Sure, you can set it up somewhere to scare a loved one, but really the Office Possum just wants to be your new BFF.

(25) HE’S RED, JIM. If these masks go with Trek crew uniforms, one wearer may find out if there’s an afterlife sooner than the others.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, John King Tarpnian, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John A Arkansawyer, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cliff, Tom Boswell, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

86 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/12/20 You Can Pixel Your Friends, And You Can Pixel Your Scroll, But You Can’t Pixel Your Friend’s Scroll

  1. (7) I’ve been trying to learn this lesson, but I hold the line on two spaces after a period (or rather, my fingers hold that line regardless of what I may want)

  2. Don Blyly and the remains of Uncle Hugo’s are on the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune website. It’s a story about how the City of Minneapolis isn’t giving out permits for rubble removal until taxes are paid. Unfortunately, the story itself is behind a pay wall.

  3. Jack Lint: Great link! I was able to access the story, so I’ll write a post about it tonight.

  4. @Jack Lint
    I was able to read it by right-clicking the title and saving it to a file.
    The gist seems to be that the city and county are blaming each other for the situation, and the property owners aren’t getting help from either.

  5. (4) SCALZI’S NINETIES MOVIE REVIEWS

    So, CP’s rant about Scalzi’s terrible awful no-good writing is actually going to result in MOAR people reading……Scalzi’s writing (in this case, his old reviews). Haven’t the Puppy Pack ever heard of the Streisand effect?

  6. @Andrew (not Werdna): spaces periods and fingers with minds of their own.
    Yeah. I learned to type on a manual typewriter in 1970 or thereabouts (I still have the portable Olympia manual typewriter which was my high school graduation present–if I could find ribbons for it, I bet it would work, though I doubt I could hit the keys with now-arthritic fingers!–oh, and portable meant at about 40 pounds, I could stagger down the street with it). Those days, the two spaces were required. I haven’t really gotten used to the new standard (one space after a period when keyboarding), so I have to go back and do a ‘find/replace’ to replace the period plus two spaces with a period plus one space before I send in final drafts.
    Checks recent texts: hostile as hell with those periods. Granted, the most recent one was to the neighbor whose huge pyrenee breed dogs keep trying to chase us (she has five adults and two recent puppies from a litter of 12, so seven total), and we are hostile toward her. I don’t think I’ll be able to drop periods from my texts……

  7. (3) ARECIBO OBSERVATORY DAMAGED. The observatory was written into the plot of Carl Sagan’s bestselling novel Contact, as well as its 1997 film adaptation

    … which were based on James E. Gunn’s The Listeners, which also featured Arecibo.

  8. (7) THE POINT. I can absolutely confirm without a doubt that everyone my age for some reason thinks that periods are passive-aggressive as hell and if you use one in a text you must be mad about something, or upset with the person you’re sending it to. You just sound… so angry. I can’t explain where this logic came from, but we all hear it the same way. Periods mean you’re unhappy. When you send a sentence with a period, you are sending a clear-cut statement that has a finite end, so it must be about something serious.

    This is… absolutely baffling to me.

  9. I wonder if the Office Possum knows about the Rally Possum at the Oakland Coliseum?

  10. (7)
    I still don’t get it. Why would a period come across as passive-aggressive?
    Guess I’m old.
    As for the two spaces after, I eventually got over it.
    Maybe not that old…

  11. The only reason I don’t double-space after periods in my (capitalized, fully-punctuated and infrequent) texts is because Apple, in their infinite wisdom, inserts a period when I double space.

  12. 17) Is William Faulkner considered problematic as well these days? Cause his works – at least those I’ve read – were critical of the pervasive racism and the creepy Civil War nostalgia in the US South. After all, the legacy of slavery and racism is what destroys the Sutpen family in Absalom, Absalom! Yes, Faulkner’s work is of its time, but it’s not Gone with the Wind or Raintree Country or North and South and the like.

    Faulkner also has an SF connection, because he worked with Leigh Brackett on the screenplay for “The Big Sleep”, though none of his lines actually made it into the finished fil.

  13. (7) THE POINT. I can absolutely confirm without a doubt that everyone my age for some reason thinks that periods are passive-aggressive as hell and if you use one in a text you must be mad about something, or upset with the person you’re sending it to. You just sound… so angry. I can’t explain where this logic came from, but we all hear it the same way. Periods mean you’re unhappy. When you send a sentence with a period, you are sending a clear-cut statement that has a finite end, so it must be about something serious.

    JJ:

    This is… absolutely baffling to me.

    Me too, but I must admit it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. Corroborates what a younger fan told me last year at a convention. We’d been hanging out all weekend, and at some point we got to talking about the various linguistic/textual differences between my experience (GenX) and hers (Millennial). I related my confusion upon first encountering “Ugh!” used not as an expression of disgust but of overweening emotion, generally positive; she told me about how periods at the end of texts come across to The Kids These Days. I was all, “Seriously? You mean if I text grammatically, with capitalization and complete sentences and punctuation, it’ll cause trouble?” “Well, it’ll certainly worry a Millennial recipient. They’ll wonder what you’re upset about.”

    Since then, I had to replace my Samsung flipphone with an Alcatel Go Flip. (You can take my flipphone when you pry it from my cold, dead micro-usb cable.) I went from a phone that quite sensibly had a separate SHIFT function which could be applied to any input mode, to a phone that only capitalizes if you switch input from T9 mode to AB or Ab mode (or recognizes the word it suggests in T9 mode as being properly capitalized, like days of the week and such; also it has no user-editable words-to-suggest library that I can find). So I pretty much don’t bother with capitalization anymore, despite being old, cranky, and Type A.

    (The other big sin of the Alcatel Go Flip: Its interface was clearly intended for touch screens. You cannot use your 9-key button pad to enter times into the clock or calendar. You can only use up and down arrows. It’s enraging.)

  14. The thing about periods sounding…off? Even though I’m an Old, I find myself sensing that flavor and finding ways to avoid them in certain text genres. Not all the time, but in certain contexts, at certain lengths, and especially at certain levels of (in)formality. Like most linguistic judgments, I wouldn’t be able to come up with a logical reason for the reaction, any more than there’s a logical reason to react to all caps as if I’m being yelled at.

    The contexts when periods feel like they communicate negativity to me tend to be short, informal contexts like text messages or comments on fb or twitter. Especially when I’m responding to someone rather than starting a conversation.

    And though I can’t come up with rules or logic or adequate explanations, here are some things I think are contributing:

    Especially when responding to an existing post, it feels like some level of performative excitement/engagement is called for. If my friend texts and says, “Did you want to come over and hang in the pool after work?” and I reply “Yes.” it feels like I’m communicating a flat affect. I should be enthusiastic. “Yes!” or neutrally communicative “Yes” which for some reason feels entirely different if I put a period to it.

    Short online communications have–in my completely subjective and possibly inaccurate perception–a higher percentage of sarcasm, deadpan humor, and the like than “regular writing.” Those types of speech are often associated with the use of periods rather than other forms of punctuation. This may result in the use of the period picking up an implication of insincerity.

    While not explanatory, one might look to the extreme case of the period as communicating an emotional stance: the emphatic, pausing period. Just. Like. That. It’s more the opposite of flat affect — or perhaps the sense of a barely-controlled seething emotion that is reined in by the illusion of affectlessness that the use of periods applies.

    Again, more a tangential observation, but when emerging flavor of period use first came to my attention, my mind immediately went to an observation I made in my youth about comic book speech: it never used periods. Characters always spoke in question marks and exclamation points. You might have periods in the narrative text, but never in represented speech. (I’d need to do some research to determine whether this is still the case today — my observation was made perhaps 50 years ago.)

    So, overall, my personal sense is that the perception of period use as conveying hostility or passive-agressiveness comes via a contrast with punctuation that conveys emotion and engagement, and perhaps an implication that the lack of emotional emphasis is insincere or is a deliberate suppression of the emotions that are being experienced.

    As a linguist, I’m far less interested in the question of whether it’s a reasonable way to interpret language as in the question of how such an interpretation arose.

    (And I have once again run into the baffling feature that manually-numbered lists result in the numbers disappearing when posted.)

  15. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: my confusion upon first encountering “Ugh!” used not as an expression of disgust but of overweening emotion, generally positive

    This is also baffling to me. I mean, how can “ugh” sound anything but negative?

  16. Soon Lee: As for the two spaces after, I eventually got over it. Maybe not that old…

    Yeah, it took me a while to adjust, but I got there. And now, double-spaces in electronic text drive me batty. Go figure. 😀

  17. Yeah, it took me a while to adjust, but I got there. And now, double-spaces in electronic text drive me batty.

    This is me, exactly. Err, exactly

  18. Periods appear aggressive because they close a statement.
    Yes
    ^ this ‘Yes’ has an inviting unfinished indefiniteness to itself
    Yes.
    ^ this ‘Yes’ is quite frankly done with the conversation.

  19. 25) I seem to recall reading somewhere that if you tally up on-screen crew deaths in ST:TOS by uniform color, red is actually statistically the safest color to be wearing. You just don’t want to be the lone member of Security who’s beaming down with the Big Three.

  20. David Goldfarb – There was an article in Significance magazine called Keep Your Redshirt On: A Bayesian exploration. (The original source might be dead, so this is on Web Archive.) It says more people died in red, but a large portion of the crew on the Enterprise is made up of security and engineering.

    Someone in comments mentions that we just don’t see the death of people wearing blue because that’s not part of the heroic narrative. Who knows how many people are lost in lab mishaps?

  21. 10) If anyone ever asked me if they could publish a Tiptree story as by Alice Sheldon, I’d say, sure, if that’s what you want. But so far no one has. Mostly, they want to publish Raccoona Sheldon stories as by Tiptree.

  22. Characters always spoke in question marks and exclamation points. You might have periods in the narrative text, but never in represented speech. (I’d need to do some research to determine whether this is still the case today — my observation was made perhaps 50 years ago.)

    The convention’s faded out with time, even from as early as the 70s. The heavy use of emphasis has faded too, though more slowly.

  23. 7) I’m glad it’s not just me who’s feeling old! Last year I received a formal complaint that I was using capitals to emphasise points when explaining what sales people were doing wrong in completing application forms online, and they said they thought I was shouting at them! Kids of today…

  24. Heather Ross Jones@7: I find that I cast sentences to avoid putting a period at the end of an email address or a URL, yet I can’t leave the period off a short text on purpose. I’ve tried to learn it and I just. can’t. do. it. Even though I’m pretty free with my Capitalization! and punctuation? I just don’t get it

  25. (11): I have signed up for ReCONvene – a daytime event in Boston fits quite comfortably into a London evening, and $10 is quite a bargain given their list of speakers (even if almost all the speakers are committed to just one program item – but that’s to be expected with what I think is about 40 speakers in a one-day event). But there is one omission in their pre-con publicity that niggles – and I suspect that it may turn into more than that for future virtual cons.

    ReCONvene haven’t provided any direct information on their website about what may broadly be described as their software requirements. Some of these are fairly clear from my interaction with the website so far – Grenadine is being used for programming information, the items will run at least mostly through Zoom and presumably, as with CoNZealand, access to each item will be through a Zoom link on a version of its Grenadine details that is only available to people who have paid their $10.

    But is that everything that con members will need to have installed and/or accessed? I’d suspect not – and would be doing so even without a remark in one of the CoNZealand panels suggesting that they would be using Discord for general at-con social interaction (and possibly, like CoNZealand, as an extra layer of security.

    I used Discord during CoNZealand, so that does not worry me personally. But it took me the best part of the Tuesday before CoNZealand, culminating in a complete reboot of my laptop, to get the Discord app installed on my laptop, playing nicely with the other software, and myself actually registered on Discord – and a learning curve with Discord which is still not complete, but flattened enough by now not to be particularly problematic.

    With five days of CoNZealand, allowing a day beforehand to sort out problems was acceptable. With a one-day con, not so much – and even less so if I only end up discovering problems on the day.

    Virtual cons (and other events) do need to be clear in advance about what people need to have set up in order to attend, before it turns into a possibly completely unforeseen accessibility problem for some attendees

  26. 12) Tim Wynne-Jones: I met this author at a National Council of Teachers of English convention in the early 2000’s when he was promoting The Boy in the Burning House (which won the Edgar for best YA book in ’02.) I asked him how he came to write for high school students, and Wynne-Jones told me he had been working on an adult mystery novel that was not going well until he shifted the point of view to the main detective character’s young nephew. When the book was published and sold better than his other books, his editor told him, “Congratulations. You just became a YA writer.”

  27. 7) I had no idea. It goes both ways though. Lack of punctuation, overuse of exclamation points, etc. in certain circumstances could be seen as distracted, disrespectful, or give an impression of being much younger than you actually are.

    (I still use two spaces after a period out of habit, but I know that in many cases the extra ones disappear after I hit post.)

    25) That Twitter account seems to have disappeared or I can’t see the link for some reason.

  28. Laura: That Twitter account seems to have disappeared or I can’t see the link for some reason.

    I suspect there may be some people who are deliberately targeting Filers and anyone featured in scrolls — because all the gods forbid they should have a real life and actually behave like rational adults. 🙄

    I’ve altered the item so it just contains the image. I’m sorry if the person who had the Twitter account got abused, just because we posted something fun that they tweeted.

  29. For that “periods are unfriendly” interpretation depend it matter how long the sentence is?

    For example: if someone asks whether I’d like to borrow a book, or will I be there Tuesday, does “Sure, that sounds good.” or “Yes, I’m looking forward to it.” still read as flat and unfriendly/maybe unhappy because of those ending periods? Those are examples where the un-punctuated text is explicitly positive.

    And is this true of multi-sentence texts? Would people who find sentences ending in periods unfriendly have that same reaction to something like:

    Alice: Did you get the groceries?

    Bob: Yes I did. They were out of cherries, though.

    Or would their friendly style be

    “Yes I did. They were out of cherries, though”

    or even “Yes I did They were out of cherries, though” with no punctuation but the comma?

    I should probably pop “Because Internet” to the top of the TBR stack, rather than just ask here, right?

  30. The youngsters will worry that I’m angry if I use a period at the end of my text? I’m old enough, and dad enough, to see that as a feature, not a bug.

  31. JJ: I’ve altered the item so it just contains the image. I’m sorry if the person who had the Twitter account got abused, just because we posted something fun that they tweeted.

    Thanks, JJ. All I was seeing before was the text of the tweet. Sorry to hear they may have been harrassed.

  32. Alice: Did you get the groceries?
    Bob: Yes, I did, although they were out of cherries.

  33. (7) Just guessing, but I suspect that the early user interface of texting (9 key) made punctuation difficult to use, so people tended to drop punctuation – so use of a period came to be unusual, and thus picked up a sense of being used not by default, but with intention (and eventually therefore being seen as abrupt/rude/hostile). I’ll have to read “Because Internet,” though, to find out if I’m right.

  34. @Andrew
    Wouldn’t that make oldsters the ones not using periods? Would someone Athena’s age ever had any inkling of 9-key texting? I’m her dad’s age, and I don’t think I ever texted before having a phone with a fuller keyboard. But I’m still not a big texter so I don’t know.

  35. Andrew (not Werdna) on August 13, 2020 at 8:01 am said:
    (7) Just guessing, but I suspect that the early user interface of texting (9 key) made punctuation difficult to use, so people tended to drop punctuation – so use of a period came to be unusual, and thus picked up a sense of being used not by default, but with intention (and eventually therefore being seen as abrupt/rude/hostile). I’ll have to read “Because Internet,” though, to find out if I’m right.

    Except that most of the youngsters who see things this way would have grown up with smart phones rather than 9 key. The oldest of them would likely at least have had the short era of sliding keyboards. I mean.. I’m 50 and I think I had a sliding keyboard smart phone by the time I had my third cell phone. And yes.. I remember not having cell phones at all 🙂 Much easier to slip things past the parents back then. “Sorry, Dad. I couldn’t find a phone to call you about being late.”

  36. @1: can someone point to where Moreno-Garcia’s work tackles Lovecraft? Lavalle certainly (and Emrys very notably among the unmentioned), but the little M-G I’ve read was only fractionally about racism (and IIRC just realistic about what was happening in border country about a century ago, rather than confrontational — even Charlaine Harris’s latest series seemed more in-the-face). I read that Mexican Gothic is more forthright about Anglo attitudes, but not bearing particularly on HPL.

    @4: the Bee stuff might be pre- or post-whatever-the-editor-did, but the other two seem perfectly readable — I wouldn’t expect to find them in PSFQ, and there’s a sentence I might ask him to break down if I were running whatever it was printed in, but the foe’s claim in the previous Pixel seems even more implausible.

    @7: I doubt Athena knows enough peers in Twitterdom to match the confidence of that statement; I’m fascinated to see comments that confirm. I wouldn’t be surprised that such a trivial-seeming variation has taken on great significance in some circles; shibboleths come and go — and do so much more rapidly in the age of instant communication.

    @9: it would be interesting to see ST have a character with Tennant’s intensity.

    @17: one is reminded that Faulkner is responsible for ~”The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”

    @robinareid: there was a time when anything that could be sold in a hard case with a handle would be called “portable”, but 40# was some marketer’s stretch; my father’s portable typewriter (~1936, unused since 1976) is 15#. I must have learned the 2-space rule, but can’t remember when I lost it; I could always consult my old Apaloosa zines (1975-78) in the MITSFS for clues….

    @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: You can take my flipphone when you pry it from my cold, dead micro-usb cable. I keep saying this and getting pushback even from my own generation — my sister complained about not being able to send a birthday text (which she could have, not just a long one due to the faulty OS).

    @Jack Lint: Who knows how many people are lost in lab mishaps? Damned few, unless Starfleet’s standards are even more ridiculous than the idea of putting the captain in every landing party; there are ways to handle unknown samples, starting with not taking it into a closed space until you can expect it to ~behave. (This is personal; chemists used to have a lower life expectancy than other scientists due to exposure, but standards had risen massively by the time I was studying chemistry ~50 years ago.)

    @James Moar: shouldn’t that be “the heavy use of emphasis“?

    @Arwel Parry: where/how were you using caps that they objected to? All-caps has been considered excessive for decades, but just init-caps on points doesn’t seem objectionable (waves foot, stamps cane).

  37. For those of you interested in a decent look at, among many other things, generational difference in punctuation use (why DO boomers love… to use ellipses… in everything…), linguist Gretchen McCulloch’s “Because Internet” just came out in paperback, and I can’t recommend it enough.

  38. @Laura/@Laura C:

    I’m suggesting that the new interpretation of a period started in the early days of texting, and people of Athena’s age have assimilated it by observation, even though they may not have been born yet by the time the new interpretation began. They didn’t have to have a 9key phone to see how older people (people now in their late 30s) were using a period, and to acquire the sense of what this usage meant. But as I said, it’s just a guess.

  39. Chip Hitchcock:

    @1: can someone point to where Moreno-Garcia’s work tackles Lovecraft?

    Moreno-Garcia was the publisher of Innsmouth Free press, a micro-press, and co-editor of anthologies “She Walks in Shadows/Cthulhu’s Daughters”, “Historical Lovecraft” and “Future Lovecraft”.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she handled it in some of her short fiction (I don’t recall any in This Strange Way of Dying but haven’t read the other collections), but as far as I know her novels, while widely ranging in genres, are not Lovecraftian.

  40. Andrew (not Werdna) on August 13, 2020 at 9:26 am said:
    @Laura/@Laura C:

    I’m suggesting that the new interpretation of a period started in the early days of texting, and people of Athena’s age have assimilated it by observation, even though they may not have been born yet by the time the new interpretation began. They didn’t have to have a 9key phone to see how older people (people now in their late 30s) were using a period, and to acquire the sense of what this usage meant. But as I said, it’s just a guess.

    I suppose it’s possible. I grew up in an academic community. My own early days of cell phone communication were almost exclusively with peers and surrounding adults who were well educated and wouldn’t have been caught dead without proper punctuation and grammar. Those who weren’t well educated either couldn’t afford cell phones, or were adult trades people who made it a point to learn and use proper punctuation and grammar so the local professors and professionals wouldn’t look down on them.

    Perhaps the far larger percentage of non academic communities would have followed your approach. This is why diversity is important folks! It never occurred to me to think about my modes of communication growing up as being isolated within a community and how that affected my communication as an adult.

  41. @Chip — it was deliberate (and needed a little care on a keyboard that puts standalone letter i’s in uppercase). Comic book emphasis is frequently in bold italics.

  42. The thing to keep in mind about this particular interpretation of period use is that linguistic interpretations aren’t really subject to logical analysis. Or rather, logical analysis of grammaticality and linguistic interpretation can analyze motivation and history, but not “correctness”. When a linguist is trying to identify the rules of language use, they’ll offer native speakers/users a wide variety of examples and ask to rate them on correctness/incorrectness/interpretation, but those ratings aren’t subject to being considered “wrong” simply because they aren’t universal.

    People whose language use includes “period = negativity” aren’t deliberately deciding to have that interpretation. They’ve picked up that interpretation from the larger context of the language use that they’ve been exposed to. And if you have that interpretation as part of your idiolect, it’s just as “real” as interpreting interruptions as rude, or loud voices as angry, or ALL CAPS AS SHOUTING. For that matter, it’s just as “real” as interpreting politeness as sarcasm or personal insults as cameraderie, or any of the many other arbitrary or illogical communication conventions that are in circulation. You can have miscommunication when the interlocutors have conflicting idiolects. But it isn’t as if people are deliberately inventing these features just to cause problems.

    Oh, and read Gretchen McCullough’s Because Internet. It’s fun.

  43. (7) I am about a decade older than Athena but it’s worth noting that I grew up chatting with my friends on AOL Instant Messenger and, similar to text messages, there was a lot of emphasis on trying to get things out quickly. Pressing “enter” served as an effective end-of-sentence replacement because it transmitted your thoughts to the recipient.

    The flip side of that is that I also grew up using message boards, LiveJournal, and Xanga so I also developed longer-form posting habits fairly early on. (Re-reading one’s old posts about high school is always a good recipe for embarrassment.) Even now some of my punctuation and capitalization choices on social media are intentional register choices — I’ll go with a properly capitalized/punctuated sentence to indicate a more formal comment and lower case, no terminal period when I’m just throwing something into the ether.

    Also +1 to everything Heather Rose Jones said.

  44. @Andrew
    I see why that would make sense, but Athena’s the one enlightening us older folks that we sound angry to her and others her age with our weird use of periods in texts. So where did they pick it up from? I’m 51 and consider 9-key texting before my time.

  45. @Laura: Because the older folks knew consciously why they started skipping periods (convenience) – younger folks just noticed the pattern (periods only when someone is going to extra trouble (like someone who is angry might do)), leading to their current interpretation of closing periods.

  46. 7) Oh….that explains the bargain I got last week on that box of periods.

    She’s gonna need to have a word with her Da on the subject of periods.

    “– it’s just all, period, end of sentence.”

    Regards,
    Dann
    Fate pulls you in different directions. – Clint Eastwood

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