Pixel Scroll 8/15/18 I Just Scrolled Into San Jose And Boy Are My Pixels Tired

(1) ROAD TRIP. Made it to San Jose, delayed by a flat tire coming down the Grapevine, which led to getting help from AAA and buying replacement tires in Bakersfield (the temporary spare has limited mileage). I had time to realize that I was on the I-5 just about opposite where Bruce Pelz’ van had a flat on the return trip from the Vancouver Westercon of 1977. Fannish symmetry.

(2) IT’S LIT. Now all I need is an explanation….

(3) NOT YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll continues to flip the script, having “old people” read and react to Amal El-Mohtar’s “”Seasons of Glass and Iron”.

The third piece in Old People Read New SFF is Amal El-Mohtar’s 2016 Seasons of Glass and Iron. To paraphrase Wikipedia:

Seasons won the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Short Story, the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, and the 2017 Locus Award for Best Short Story. It was also shortlisted for the 2017 World Fantasy Award—Short Fiction, the 2017 Aurora Award for Best Short Fiction, and the 2017 Theodore Sturgeon Award.

A fairy tale—two fairy tales—retold to modern sensibility, it scratched the same itch for me Tanith Lee’s Red as Blood did decades ago. It was therefore almost certain that I would enjoy it. The laundry list of awards suggested that I was not alone in this. If there is one thing I’ve learned from this ongoing project, it’s that reality and expectations often diverge. What did my Old People actually think of this story?

(4) CLARION W. Frank Catalano tells GeekWire readers about Clarion West: “How this workshop creates some of the world’s top sci-fi and fantasy writers, inside a Seattle house”.

This and every summer around the first of August, 18 students leave a house in Seattle’s University District, after an intense six weeks in a crucible of creativity. Graduates over the past three decades have gone on to write bestselling novels, win science fiction and fantasy’s major awards, and become well-respected editors.

The Clarion West Summer Workshop may be the least-showy, most-influential contributor to the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in the universe.

“Probably our most famous current grad is Ann Leckie because her first book, right out the door, got the Nebula, the Clarke Award, the Hugo and the British fantasy and science fiction award,” said Neile Graham, Clarion West workshop director since 2001.

Catalano says, “I felt Clarion West is an under-appreciated gem in both Seattle proper, as well as in the tech community in general. So I wanted to draw attention to its decades of work.”

(5) DIRDA COLUMN. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda says “This is getting weird: Critics on horror, science fiction and fantasy”:

Fantasy, horror and science fiction are porous genres, allowing for, and even encouraging, cross-fertilization. H.G. Wells’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” for instance, could be classified under any of these three rubrics. To circumvent so much categorical fuzziness, John Clute, the theoretically minded co-editor of “The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction,” came up with the useful umbrella term “fantastika.” What follows here, then, is a briefly annotated list of some recent critical books about fantastika.

No one knows more about M.R. James, author of the best ghost stories in English, than Rosemary Pardoe. In The Black Pilgrimage and Other Explorations (Shadow Publishing) she collects her “essays on supernatural fiction,” many of which reflect her careful research into the textual complexities and historical context of James’s imaginative writing.

(6) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. Sci FI Bloggers’ Alice Rosso picks the “TOP 5 Ways to Destroy New York City”.

Number 1: Apocalypse, The Day After Tomorrow.

Man has pushed it too far; because of a non-returning point reached in the Global Warming, the earth is doomed to experience a new Ice Age, in which waters and freezing temperature will devastate the entire planet. The first scene that comes to mind when thinking about this movie is the gigantic wall of water that invades New York City, destroying everything on its way, soaking the Statue of Liberty and trapping our protagonists in the famous Public Library. The world is devastated by nature and New York is the first to become an icicle.

(7) DUNE ON TABLETOP AGAIN. Eric Franklin says, “It’s been about twenty years since we had a new licensed Dune game (the Dune Collectible Card Game was released in 1997, the RPG was released in 2000), so it’s about time.” IcV has the story: “Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Comes To Tabletop”.

“This is only the beginning of our big plans in tabletop for this captivating franchise,” said John-Paul Brisigotti, CEO of GF9. “Dune is a rich and wonderful universe, and we expect to produce an equally expansive and inspired line of games for years to come.”

“Gale Force Nine has consistently demonstrated a skill and passion for building successful tabletop game series alongside category leading partners and we are thrilled to announce this exciting addition to the Dune licensing program,” said Jamie Kampel, Vice President of Licensing & Partnerships for Legendary. “Legendary looks forward to a fun and meaningful contribution to this revered legacy property.”

The full range of products, including board and miniatures games, are scheduled to release just prior to the upcoming Dune theatrical release in 2020. GF9 plans to align with other game companies in numerous categories and formats for future releases as well.


  • Born August 15, 1896 – Leon Theremin. Inventor of the instrument figuring in such genre films as The Thing From Another WorldThe Day The Earth Stood Still, The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. TForbidden Planet, Batman Forever, Mars Attacks! and Ghostbusters.
  • Born August 15 – Zeljko Ivanek, 61. First genre role was on The X-Files, some of his other genre appearances include Millennium, From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, Hannibal, Twilight Zone, Lost, Heroes, Revolution, True BloodX-Men: Apocalyse and Twelve Monkeys. 
  • Born August 15 – Natasha Henstridge, 44. Genre work includes series such as Homeboys in Outer Space, The Outer Limits, Time Jumper (anyone seen this?), The Secret Circle, the newest Beauty and the Beast and Medinah.
  • Born August 15 – Jennifer Lawrence, 28. First genre role was in the Medium series, also has appeared in the Hunger Games and X-Men film franchises.

(9) HE LIKES THE BUS. James Davis Nicoll (working overtime today!) told Tor.com readers “Not On Your Life: Six Means of SF Transportation I Would Not Use”. He does not want to be a plasma jet / He would not ride that on a bet…. Here’s an example:

Subatomic Particle Energy

Bob Shaw’s A Wreath of Stars (1976) and Gregory Benford’s The Stars in Shroud (1978) use similar conceits, if for rather different purposes. In Wreath, conversion from regular matter to anti-neutrinos3 affords its protagonist escape from an irate dictator. He finds himself in an intangible world (which is doomed, so it wasn’t much of an escape). In the Benford novel, conversion to tachyons allows faster than light travel. In addition to issues I will discuss in a later essay, both of these technologies have the same apparent drawback, namely: unless the process is absolutely instant (I don’t see how it could be) this would probably shear all the complex molecules and chemical structures in one’s meatsack body, as different bits are converted at slightly different times. Do not want to be converted to mush, fog, or plasma. No thanks.

(10) 1948. Pros at the first Toronto Worldcon.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Rang-Tan: the story of dirty palm oil” on YouTube is a cartoon narrated by Dame Emma Thompson about orangutans produced for Greenpeace

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, amk, JJ, Eric Franklin, James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

84 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/15/18 I Just Scrolled Into San Jose And Boy Are My Pixels Tired

  1. I am scrolling back in my hotel now but earlier when I was provisioning at Safeway I saw some colorfully dressed L Ron fans selling copies of Dianetics outside Subway.

  2. What, is everyone busy traveling and nobody here to comment on threads? I spent a highly productive first vacation day of Worldcon sitting in my hotel room all afternoon emptying my email in-box of accumulated “do something with this” items (last addressed in mid-May). Have successfully bumped into several friends already. Already dealing with juggling programming commitments and social invitations. (Well, ok, no juggling involved. Programming commitments come first.) Looking forward to things getting started tomorrow.

  3. 8) The Theremin also appears in The Song Remains The Same, segments of which could certainly be considered genre.

  4. 8) As far as the West knew, Leon Theremin simply vanished in 1938 but he had returned to the Soviet Union, where he helped pioneer electronic eavesdropping. He was rediscovered by the chief music critic of the New York Times at the Moscow Conservatory of Music in 1967.

  5. 1) Flat tire. Boo. Glad AAA helped you get that sorted and you are in San Jose

    7) I am so in board for this,

    Everyone who is going or is at San Jose for Worldcon…safe travels, have fun.

  6. @Rob Thornton: I recall from an oldish QI (Stephen Fry was still the presenter a the time so it’s at least a couple of years old by now) something about a bug given inside a gift from Russia to the US, and it hung undetected for seven years and was actually discovered by accident. I was relatively sure that was one of Theremin’s designs, and Wikipedia confirms it.

  7. 7) Anyone else remember the Eon boardgame of Dune? It was really lovely work but you needed a lot of players – too many, arguably – to get the best experience.

  8. Have a marvelous time at Worldcon, y’all!
    (I may be slightly glued to the File and social media, enjoying it vicariously and being happy for all you actually there!)

  9. :: looks at the rain falling outside the window and wishes he could be in San Jose with the cool kids ::

    (Could be worse, of course. The rain could be falling inside the window.)

  10. @ Oneiros:

    This was the wall-hung thing with a completely passive microphone (essentially a cavity with a metal membrane) that was “tapped” by microwaves, yes?

  11. (6) — What a terrible, terrible movie. My favorite(?) part: Jake Gyllenhaal running down the street, pursued relentlessly by a cold front.

  12. 1) Sorry about the flat tire, but glad you got it sorted.

    8) Natasha Henstridge was also in Species. Not that I blame anybody for forgetting.

    And these days, a wailing Theremin is a sure sign that the murders are about to begin due to a Theremin being prominently used in the theme of the Midsomer Murders.

    Have fun at WorldCon, everybody. Wish I could be there.

  13. (1) ROAD TRIP. Spooky! And how annoying; I’m glad you’ve made it to San Jose!

    (7) DUNE ON TABLETOP AGAIN. It sounds like an unstoppable juggernaut of games for the book/series. Yay? 😉 I mean I loved Dune and I love games, so I guess that’s good? We’ll see; I usually find tie-in games very meh-to-poor. There are exceptions, of course, like the DC Comics Deck-Building Game and the Marvel superhero card game whose exact name I forget off-hand.

    (10) 1948. Tweets from beyond the grave.

    @Patrick Morris Miller & @Mike Glyer: Great Pixel Scroll title!

    @Worldcon Attendees: Think of me as you scroll away the pixels at Worldcon!

  14. SFReading: Yay, I finished two books this week and am in the middle of the excellent Murderbot #3 audiobook! 😀

    Audiobook: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free was very good. I did yawn a bit during some engineering explanations that seemed overly-detailed. After many Vorkosigan audiobooks I finally noticed that Grover Gardner (the great narrator of all things Bujold) pronounces Bujold’s name differently – where the emphasis goes. Whoops, I’ve been thinking it wrong all this time. I thought it was BuJOLD, but he says BUjold [emphasis on first syllable]. Anyway – great book and I recommend it!

    Print: I also finished Rob Boffard’s Adrift and enjoyed it a lot! Sorry, @JJ, we’ll have to disagree on this one. 😉 After the big event near the beginning, it was just a bit slow getting going, but it did get going and kept me up late several nights. It had a mix of characters freaking out in the wake of the big disaster. Sure, sometimes I thought “Oh STFU and get your stuff together!” but really, in the wake of something like that and adrift in space with no reason to hope for rescue I’d probably be careening between yelling and freaking out and depression, too.

    There was one point late in the book where I was like, “That makes no sense; why is X doing that instead of Y?!” – [rot13] jura Wnpx vf frag vagb fcnpr vafgrnq bs Rirergg [/rot13]. Still, it’s a very minor quibble, and it worked for tension and character reasons, which I presume is why Boffard used X.

    Anyway, I recommend Adrift!

  15. What are good Twitter hashtags to follow for Worldcon?

    Here in 7439 we take the Twitter streams directly into our brains but it’s still a lot to sort through.

    PS. Auto fill worked for me. IOS 10.something.

  16. @Ken Josenhans (hi!), I think I saw a mention of #worldcon, which might get you anything longer as well, depending on the search method.

    Have fun, everybody! I’m sad not to be there. If anyone knows of part-time accounting (especially income tax) or bookkeeping work in NE NJ, Manhattan, or remotely, do let me know.

  17. @ogh: (7) “Erick” is a very unusual spelling of my first name. In this case, it’s incorrect. 😉

    @Paul Weimer: 7) I am so in board for this,

    I am and I’m not. I’m not currently buying Modiphius products, and they have the RPG sub-license. But I’m looking forward to seeing what Gale Force 9 does on the board game end of things.

    @Kendall I usually find tie-in games very meh-to-poor.

    Marvel Legendary is quite good.

    Gale Force 9 has done enough licensed games that I’m confident that their Dune will be good. At the very least, I think their production values will be good (which is an oddly frequent problem with licensed games).

    @Worldcon Attendees: I hope you all have a fantastic time.

  18. Hi @Lenore! I rummaged around and found lots of action on both #worldcon76 and #worldcon2018.

    If anyone sees more hashtags in wide use for San Jose reports, please note them here.

    Getting all emotional seeing all the people on their way to their first Worldcon. May they have as great a time as I had at my first one; may they do better than I did at meeting people. 🙂

  19. @Stacy — That’s excellent news! (re: $2.99 Divine Cities omnibus) But I have some kind of weird psychological hang-up because I bought the first two books as singletons, and there’s part of me that wants to buy the third book for $11.99 rather than buying the omnibus. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go hit that part of me in the head with a shovel and bury it out in the woods.

    As far as my own reading, I’m about 25% of the way into Fonda Lee’s Jade City and am liking it quite a bit, and trying to figure out which actors from Hong Kong gangster movies I’d cast in a film adaptation.

  20. Meredith moment: Bennett’s three City novels (AKA Divine Cities trilogy) as a set, $2.99 at Kobo.

  21. 3) I took time out from yesterday’s WorldCon prep to reread this story–I found it as moving as the last two times I read it. I’m looking firsts to reading it again sometime in the future.

    I’m pleased at the nearly universal positive response to the story, though I eyerolled hard at the guy who mansplained fairy tales, and who took as gospel the notion that the stories were meant to prepare young girls for living in a patriarchal society…referring only to male non-mythologists.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to saying hi to my favorite authors, in between working. Good luck everyone!

  22. Have fun everyone.

    Does anyone know what ever happened to JdA’s lawsuit? It’d be a shame if in three months time it turns out that he could have gone after all

  23. Lurkertype wanted me to let everyone know she is here but is scrollless, and is doing set up. I, meanwhile, report that the Fairmont breakfast buffet includes a cheese selection.

  24. Dune boardgame: Huh, FFG failed to get the license when the wanted to rerelease the Avalon hill game and then published it in the Twilight Imperium Universe. Either the movie shaked things up or Gale Force 9 bid considerably more. Well, they are competent in producing adequate boardgames, so… (None really clicked for me, but they aint half bad).
    I actually would rather see othe SF works made the transition to boardgame (trifoxology, moon is a harsh mistress…Ice riggers), but I guess Dune is the Spiderman of SF epics…

    (And yes, im fully aware there are, like Dragonriders of Pern or Starship troopers, but not really good, modern ones)

  25. Okay, this is weird. My sticky information is back, but now whatever I wrote in my last comment is also sticking! Not going to complain (much), though — that’s an easy fix.

    ETA: Shouldn’t have said anything. Now it’s all gone again. WTF, WordPress?

  26. @Eric Franklin:
    Maybe, but on the other hand, FFG have several IPs that work well and would have used a design that is considered a cult classic. Maybe its more money though, with the movie there are more potential revenues.
    Who knows?

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