Pixel Scroll 8/3/19 Dublin, Dublin, Scroll And Tribble

(1) STONES WILL ROLL. The Broken Earth is becoming an RPG setting: “Green Ronin To Publish The Fifth Season Roleplaying Game”.

“I’ve heard from many of my readers that they’re fascinated enough by the world of the Broken Earth that they’d like to visit it (nobody wants to live there tho!) and now they’ll get their chance,” said N.K. Jemisin. “I’ll be working with Green Ronin to try and make sure the spirit and feel of the books is rendered successfully in this new form.”

Green Ronin will publish The Fifth Season RPG in the Fall of 2020. Tanya DePass (I Need Diverse Games, Rivals of Waterdeep) and Joseph D. Carriker (Blue Rose, Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting) will co-develop the game. The Fifth Season RPG will use a revised and customized version of Green Ronin’s Chronicle System, which powered the company’s long-running Game of Thrones RPG, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.

(2) LE GUIN DOCUMENTARY. At least one PBS outlet is allowing online viewing of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, aired last night as part of the American Masters series. The info indicates it will be available through August 30.

(3) PRACTICAL PRATCHETT. In “The Tao of Sir Terry: Pratchett and Political Philosophy” by Canadian novelist J.R.H. Lawless on Tor.com, is an analysis of politics in Discworld that argues that Pratchett’s satire is a tool for “a brave, humanist outlook that fuels a deep-rooted hope for a responsible political future.”

…If the social contract produces political systems as petty and vile as the citizens themselves, then the opposite is also true—and this is the saving grace of the political systems Sir Terry develops throughout his work: a deep-rooted belief in the fundamental goodness of humankind and in our ability to strive towards greater social justice, however difficult or ridiculous the path towards it may be…

(4) TECHNOTHRILLER NEWS. Tom Chatfield, in “Towards a New Canon of Technothrillers” on Crimereads, explains why Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and Charles Stross really wrote technothrillers.

…As someone who spent their teens eating up sci-fi and fantasy, I particularly love writers who bend or break the barriers between genres, and I guess I see techno-thrillers in these terms: as a fertile colliding ground for technology, conspiracy, crime, politics, the factual and the fantastical. If you’re interested in crime, today, you need to be interested in technology—because we’re living at a time where the kind of crimes being committed, and what it means to obey or break the law, are being rewritten in the form of code. Information itself is the battleground. It’s strange and terrifying and marvelous—and the gift of fiction is to make its urgency feel real, human and tractable….

(5) LEXOPHILE. Andrew Porter introduced me to the term.Jokes of the Day explains it and I’ve copied four examples:

“Lexophile” describes those that have a love for words, such as “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish”, or “To write with a broken pencil is pointless.” An annual competition is held by the New York Times see who can create the best original lexophile.

  • No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
  • If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.
  • I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

(6) MICE REMEMBERED. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse, married Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse, in 1989 and they stayed married for 19 years until Allwine’s death in 2008. He quotes Cartoon Art museum curator Andrew Farago as saying “I think Russi and Wayne were Minnie and Mickey, in all the ways that mattered” adding they were “good-hearted, generous, kind to everyone they met.” — “She was the voice of Minnie Mouse. He was the voice of Mickey Mouse. That’s how their romance began.”

The romance between Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse was more than just an act. For two of their real-life voice actors, it was magic, and soon love, at first sound bite.

Russi Taylor, who died Friday in Glendale, Calif., won the role of Minnie Mouse in 1986, beating out more than 150 other actors with her high, pitch-perfect sound. The next year, she was on the voice-over stage for the Disney special “Totally Minnie” when she met Wayne Allwine, who had inherited the role of Mickey about a decade earlier — only the third person, including creator Walt Disney, to officially inhabit the role.

As soon as Taylor and Allwine began working together, they could make theatrical sparks fly.

“They were Mickey and Minnie,” Bill Farmer, then newly cast as the voice of Goofy, told The Washington Post on Monday. “It was typecasting.”

(7) GENOVESE OBIT. “Cosmo Genovese, Script Supervisor on ‘Star Trek’ Series, Dies at 95” says The Hollywood Reporter:

Cosmo Genovese, a veteran script supervisor whose credits include Perry MasonThe A-Team and two Star Trek series, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 95.

His first job in Hollywood was on William Wyler’s Oscar best-picture nominee Friendly Persuasion (1956), starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire and Anthony Perkins.

Genovese served as a script supervisor on Star Trek: The Next Generation from 1987-94 and Star Trek: Voyager from 1995-2000 for a total of 275 episodes.

Star Trek: TNG and Voyager writers made subtle tributes to him on their series, putting his name on dedication plaques and directories, calling a flower shop “Genovese’s Flowers” and a coffee shop “Cosimo” and dubbing an energetic carbon-based biological reactant “bio-genovesium.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 3, 1841 Juliana Horatia Ewing (née Gatty). Yorkshire writer of children’s fiction whose tales are very close to folklore. There are four known collections of her stories, Melchior’s Dream and Other Tales, The Brownies and Other Tales, Old-Fashioned Fairy Tales and The Land of Lost Toys. Kindle has several of her collections available, iBooks has none. (Died 1885.)
  • Born August 3, 1861 Michel Jean Pierre Verne. Son of Jules Verne who we now know rewrote some of his father’s later novels. These novels have since been restored using the original manuscripts which were preserved. He also wrote and published short stories using his father’s name. None of these were the major works Jules is now known for. (Died 1925.)
  • Born August 3, 1904 Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is horror? (Died 1988.)
  • Born August 3, 1920 P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she has said she likes despite it being substantially different than her novel. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 3, 1940 Martin Sheen, 79. So that who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be him. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but this is the role that I like most. 
  • Born August 3, 1946 John DeChancie, 73. A native of Pittsburgh, he is best known for his Castle fantasy series, and his SF Skyway series. He’s fairly prolific even having done a Witchblade novel. Who here has read him? Opinions please. 
  • Born August 3, 1950 John Landis, 69. He make this if all he’d done An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which was the best Tim Curry role ever. And he Executive Produced one of the best SAF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon
  • Born August 3, 1972 Brigid Brannagh, 47. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American Gothic, Sliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), RoarTouched by an AngelCharmedEarly Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), Grimm, Supernatural and currently on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. 
  • Born August 3, 1980 Aaron Dembski-Bowden, 39. Author of many a Warhammer Universe novel. I’m including him so as to ask y’all a question. The only thing I’ve read in this Universe is “Monastery of Death”, a short story by Stross which was quite intriguing as stories go.  Are there novels set here worth reading? Where would I start? 

(9) EVERY CONDIMENT HAS ITS DAY. Popsugar’s Lindsay Miller celebrates National Mustard Day: “French’s Mustard Ice Cream Is Blindingly Yellow and Upsettingly Good”.

I’m walking home when my boyfriend texts me: “You got this horror show.” He attaches a photo of a navy blue cooler, inside which is nestled a pint of French’s Mustard Ice Cream. In honor — or defiance? — of National Mustard Day on Aug. 3, LA-based ice creamery Coolhaus is joining forces with the brand-name condiment. When I got the press release promising their questionable concoction would “have Americans enjoying mustard in a way it’s never been seen before,” I knew I couldn’t shirk my responsibility as a journalist deeply committed to serving the public interest. I had to try it.

(10) NEW JOBS. Entertainment Weekly reviews that “Man Who Fell to Earth TV series coming from Star Trek producer”

‘What if Steve Jobs was an alien?’ Alex Kurtzman is re-imagining the David Bowie classic

The new series for CBS All Access is based on Walter Tevis’ 1962 novel and the 1976 film starring David Bowie. The story followed a humanoid alien who arrives on Earth searching for a way to get water to his drought-struck planet and uses his advanced technology to create many inventions and become a tech mogul.

Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard) will write the series along with Jenny Lumet and serve as co-showrunners. Kurtzman will also direct.

“Walter Tevis’ visionary novel gave us a tech god Willy Wonka from another planet, brought to life by David Bowie’s legendary performance, that foretold Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s impact on our world,” said Kurtzman and Lumet in a statement. “The series will imagine the next step in our evolution, seen through the eyes of an alien who must learn what it means to become human, even as he fights for the survival of his species.”

(11) YANG APPRAISED. Andrew Liptak declares “JY Yang’s Tensorate series is a sweeping, experimental blend of sci-fi and fantasy” in a review for The Verge.

Genre is an odd thing. At times, it’s merely a sales tactic, where similar books are grouped together in a bookstore to make them easier to find. But it can also be a codified canon of literature in which authors are engaged in a decades-long conversation, bouncing themes and tropes off one another. Every now and again, a book or author will come along that really breaks away from the conversation and ignores those tropes and conventions. One recent example is Singaporean author JY Yang, who published the final installment of their genre-blending Tensorate series last month.

The series is made up of four short novellas: The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, The Descent of Monsters, and The Ascent to Godhood. It’s set in a world where an oppressive monarchy called the Protectorate is facing an entrenched revolution from a rebel group called the Machinists. The Protectorate holds onto power by controlling who can utilize a magical system known as Slackcraft, and it utterly controls the lives of its subjects. However, it’s grown decadent and corrupt over the decades, and under the reign of Lady Sanao Hekate, The Protector, it’s brutally cracked down on its citizens. That’s given rise to the Machinists, who work to topple the government, all while bringing power to the people with the help of machines that take the place of Slackcraft and those who control it.

(12) A NETFLIX BOMB. Camestros Felapton explains why “I didn’t finish even one episode of ‘Another Life’ on Netflix”. At the risk of stealing his thunder, basically, it sucks.

…It was more the little things. When the central character wakes up from space hibernation and just sort of spills out onto the floor of a corridor, like nobody put any thought into how the crew will wake up. If the series was set in some grungy future of second hand spaceships, I could believe that but this is supposed to be the state of the art spaceship at the peak of human technology. The science is one thing, but seriously somebody would have thought that bit through (or at least the ship’s hologram would be there waiting when the captain woke up)….

(13) BEACHCOMBING ON PLUTO. The Express (UK) unpacks one of New Horizon’s discoveries:“NASA breakthrough: Scientists believe ‘ocean of water’ exists on distant world – ‘Huge!'”

“And, at its edge, lies a range of mountains made of pure frozen water ice that rise up to 6km above the plain. 

“But there’s something very strange about the region, something that sets it apart from the rest of this dwarf planet.”

Dr Cox went on to reveal how NASA noticed something particularly strange about this region.

He added: “The surface of Pluto is covered in craters, the scars of impact that have taken place over many billions of years. 

“Except, if you look at Sputnik Planitia, it is absolutely smooth…. 

(14) EXPERIMENTATION. “First human-monkey chimera raises concern among scientists”The Guardian has the story.

Efforts to create human-animal chimeras have rebooted an ethical debate after reports emerged that scientists have produced monkey embryos containing human cells.

A chimera is an organism whose cells come from two or more “individuals”, with recent work looking at combinations from different species. The word comes from a beast from Greek mythology which was said to be part lion, part goat and part snake.

The latest report, published in the Spanish newspaper El País, claims a team of researchers led by Prof Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte from the Salk Institute in the US have produced monkey-human chimeras. The research was conducted in China “to avoid legal issues”, according to the report.

Chimeras are seen as a potential way to address the lack of organs for transplantation, as well as problems of organ rejection….

(15) THE DOORBELL OPENED A BLUE EYE AND SPIED AT HIM. Here’s looking at you, kid — “Amazon Ring: Police tie-up criticised by anti-surveillance campaigners”.

Amazon has been criticised for partnering with at least 200 law enforcement agencies to carry out surveillance via its Ring doorbells.

The partnerships came to light after a Freedom of Information request made by Vice’s Motherboard tech news website.

The bells send live video of customers’ doorsteps to their smartphones, computers or Amazon Echo devices.

Digital rights campaign group Fight for the Future says Amazon is encouraging neighbours to spy on each other.

The partnerships allow police officers to ask customers to “share videos” and information about crime and safety issues in their area via the Ring app.

In response to the story Ring told the BBC: “Law enforcement can only submit video requests to users in a given area when investigating an active case. Ring facilitates these requests and user consent is required in order for any footage or information to be shared with law enforcement.”

Motherboard says officers do not need a warrant to ask for footage or information.

“Amazon has found the perfect end-run around the democratic process,” Fight the Future said.

(16) IT’S BENT! BBC learns “Milky Way galaxy is warped and twisted, not flat”.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is “warped and twisted” and not flat as previously thought, new research shows.

Analysis of the brightest stars in the galaxy shows that they do not lie on a flat plane as shown in academic texts and popular science books.

Astronomers from Warsaw University speculate that it might have been bent out of shape by past interactions with nearby galaxies.

The new three dimensional map has been published in the journal Science.

The popular picture of the Milky Way as a flat disc is based on the observation of 2.5 million stars out of a possible 2.5 billion. The artists’ impressions are therefore rough approximations of the truer shape of our galaxy, according to Dr Dorota Skowron of Warsaw University.

“The internal structure and history of the Milky Way is still far from being understood, in part because it is extremely difficult to measure distances to stars at the outer regions of our galaxy,” she said.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Oscar-nominated “Negative Space” on Vimeo by Max Porter and Ru Kawabata is animation about a young man bonding with his father while packing luggage.

[Thanks to Nancy Sauer, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Mike Kennedy, Contrarius, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/3/19 Dublin, Dublin, Scroll And Tribble

  1. 12) If you’ve ever played Civilization IV, when the colonist ship gets to Alpha Centauri, the freezer chambers open and spill the voyagers onto the deck. Maybe someone at “Another Life” plays Civilization,

    Oh, and first!

  2. 12) @ Joseph. Indeed! It would not surprise.

    9) Hmm…I am skeptical. But then I am also a brown and not a yellow mustard person anyway.

  3. @8: I have no idea what the Stokers were thinking of; I’d call most of Simak the opposite of horror. I love Way Station (although it’s not the first I read — can’t think what is), don’t think much of City (ISTM he was still learning how much pathos is too much), but point at Time Is the Simplest Thing and Time and Again, which despite their faults (more obvious now) were banging the drum for tolerance at a time when SF was much quieter about the idea.

    @8bis: I actually bought quite a few DeChancie books, and couldn’t figure out why when I was reducing the D’s as part of the long preparation for a move. The kindest I can be about him is “slight”.

    also also @8: Clue may have been Curry’s best comic role, but seeing him be the adult in the house in Spamalot was worth the price of a Broadway ticket.

    @9: I don’t think I’ve seen anything that uninviting since a local specialist-in-strange-flavors did avocado sorbet.

    And another mini-Trump strikes: Bolsonaro has forced out the head of Brazil’s space research institute, saying the institute was “smearing Brazil’s reputation” for publishing the visible facts about deforestation.

    @Paul Weimer: I’m not even sure I’d call the yellow stuff “mustard”; IIRC, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd had a better name for it in The Meaning of Liff.

  4. (8), To call John Landis “Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie” needs clarification, leaving aside whether he should have been convicted of criminal negligence. He was a co-producer of the whole project but wrote and directed only one of the four segments – the only one that wasn’t a direct remake of a TZ episode – plus the prologue with Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd. His screenplay for the Vic Morrow segment is impossible to judge from what appears on screen because of the deaths on his set when pyrotechnics caused a helicopter to crash. I think he should have been convicted, but the book that covered the events and the resulting charges and outcome (Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego, and the Twilight Zone Case) is scarce and expensive these days.

  5. 8) Simak doesn’t seem particularly horrific to me, but maybe “The Night of Puudly ” – the short story that got adapted for The Outer Limits as “The Duplicated Man” – might count? Or the novel The Werewolf Principle? (I’m grasping at straws here, I freely admit it.)

    I’m not much of a fan of Warhammer stuff, but some notable writers – Ian Watson, Barrington J. Bayley, Brian Stableford under his “Brian Craig” pseudonym, for example – have written things for it; maybe that’s a good place to start.

  6. (8) In Simak’s 1982 novel Special Deliverance, several characters meet their ends in what seems to me to be horrifying ways.

  7. (5) LEXOPHILE.
    One of my favorites along those lines is “linguists like ambiguity more than most people.” 🙂

    Birthdays:
    I as confused by the supposed Simak/horror connection as anyone.

    Jon de Chancie writes fluff, but sometimes fluff is exactly what I’m in the mood for.

  8. As for 9), I used to know a manager at the G&D’s ice-cream shops in Oxford. I think the Marmite ice cream happened under her watch… but her undoubted triumph, in my eyes at least, was to set out a plastic tub of ordinary ice and tell the customers they absolutely had to try the “mineral water sorbet”….

  9. 8) I’m not at all up-to-date on the Warhammer Universe, but the stuff Kim Newman wrote (as “Jack Yeoville”) back in the 90s can be fun – try “Beasts in Velvet”, if you can find a copy. (His best work for Games Workshop is probably the three books he did for their Dark Future setting, though. With very little official background he could really go to town on the alternate history.)

    Ian Watson’s Warhammer 40k novels are worth a look too, though they’re very obviously written to appeal to fifteen year old Moorcock fans.

  10. @Sophie Jane

    I remember “Beasts in Velvet”! The Filthy Harold joke quite passed me by the first time I read it though.

  11. @8 — As far as Warhammer, I’ve read most of William King’s Gotrek & Felix books (n.b. — he wrote the first several in the series, then other authors took it over; I haven’t read any of the other authors’ books in the series) and found them to be generally enjoyable old-school sword & sorcery.

  12. oe H. says As far as Warhammer, I’ve read most of William King’s Gotrek & Felix books (n.b. — he wrote the first several in the series, then other authors took it over; I haven’t read any of the other authors’ books in the series) and found them to be generally enjoyable old-school sword & sorcery.

    Are all of the Warhammer fantasy? Or are some SF? Or are they a mix? I know there’s a Warhammer series coming out next year but I’ve not idea where it falls on the fantasy v. SF continuum.

  13. 12) Out of boredom one day I started watching Another Life. Halford Wept.

    First of all, Not a single member of this crew could be trusted to run a lemonade stand, let alone a starship. It feels more like the set of Big Brother than a crew.

    Next, the science is TERRIBLE! I began firing Nerf darts at the screen when they began talking about using gravity assists for a FTL drive. Oh, and Sirius has an Oort Cloud denser than a bag of party ice that was left in the freezer for a week.

    The acting is terrible and the scripts are worse. I made it through five episodes out of pure curiosity about how low they could go.

  14. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    Filers don’t need me to tell them their opinion of John DeChancie’s writing may differ from Chip Hitchcock’s. That goes without saying – oops.

    But I think worth noting that DeChancie has been active not only as a pro but also as a fan, both in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles. Among other things, he’s been one of the LASFS’ best Secretaries (L.A. Science Fantasy Society).

  15. I hope this isn’t overly self-promotiony, but I know I’ve seen Jack London’s SF discussed here before, so maybe someone would like to see the 6-page comic strip I made out of his novella The Scarlet Plague (from a couple years ago, but not online till now). I removed all of the action and about 98% of the words, but the text it does use is nearly unchanged. The research for the “futuristic” visuals (though they are small and don’t make up that much of the comic) involved looking at some interesting newspaper and magazine stuff from the early 1900s about technological and urban planning ideas in general, as well as some things specific to the SF Bay Area like various bridges and landfills that could have been built but weren’t.

  16. Eli: Sturgeon wrote The Cosmic Rape (aka To Marry Medusa) not Simak, who wrote The Cosmic Engineers.

  17. @Andrew: Oh good grief. Sorry… if only there were a way to make my computer prevent me from posting until at least 90 seconds after I’ve read the previous comments, since any reaction earlier than that is guaranteed to be an embarrassing mistake. I haven’t even read The Cosmic Engineers but you’re probably right that that’s where my brainfart originated.

  18. @Steve Wright: …Puudly was the story I was thinking of as possible — but it’s just one story, and the point is not horror but the duplication.

    @gottacook: I think I read Special Deliverance but I remember nothing about it beyond implausible tangles; I’d have thought the Stoker would at least be for memorable work. (Yes, I remember some horror; I recently reread Conjure Wife for a local reading group, and the only thing I had forgotten was how close to Lovecraft some of the prose was.)

    Even if it weren’t by another author, I really wouldn’t see To Marry Medusa as horror-adjacent, even if it got republished under a lurid title; there are a few battle deaths and quite a bit of psychodrama, but nothing like (e.g.) “Bianca’s Hands”.

    I wonder if it’s possible to get the Stoker ?judges? to talk about why Simak was honored — probably not since the award was ~32 years ago.

  19. @Chip: Mine is probably an idiosyncratic response, but for what it’s worth I just always found that Sturgeon book(*) pretty disturbing, even though the external events are not all that horrific and the creature isn’t necessarily evil. I think the psychological horror aspect is similar to The Body Snatchers: there’s something that sees your paltry life as a misguided idea to be replaced, its mechanism of action is simple but nearly unstoppable (how can you be sure you didn’t just eat the wrong morsel of food?), and it makes a somewhat convincing case for why you should give up. I also feel like Sturgeon’s approach to character and the way he ties mundane interpersonal horrors into the larger theme may have been influential on horror fiction later in the century. So that’s what I meant by adjacent. It’s a very different feeling from other alien-invasion stories of the same era where the threat may be large-scale and creepy but it doesn’t threaten your identity in the same way, and there’s less focus on inner darkness… such as, I don’t know, They Walked Like Men by… uh… Clifford Simak…

    (* I haven’t read the To Marry Medusa version, only the original longer novel—not sure if they’re notably different other than length)

  20. @Chip: To Marry Medusa does have a creepy possession vibe going on. I remember there was the kid who had longed for a violin all his life – and shortly after he receives a violin, he merges with the mass mind of humanity and destroys the violin in order to disable an alien device (or something like that). I should reread it (haven’t read it in decades).

  21. Looks like while I was composing my post, Eli was writing the same kind of thing (more effectively).

  22. (2) I watched this last night. My main criticism is that it should have been twice as long.

  23. Eli, I haven’t read the original, but your comic strip of The Scarlet Plague was amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  24. PhilRM on August 4, 2019 at 2:18 pm said:

    (2) I watched this last night. My main criticism is that it should have been twice as long.

    My understanding is that the broadcast version was edited down a bit from the version that was being shown at festivals and whatnot. Not by half, but it is possible that the full-length version will be made available later.

  25. @Andrew: my recollection (from almost 50 years ago, albeit with at least one reread) is that humans retain far more individuality than the invader had planned on — and can coordinate well enough to defeat the alien attack. Losing a violin is a sorrow (says the man who went into a tailspin the year he couldn’t get into any chorus), but it’s a thing (not a person) and ~replaceable; even the death of someone else fighting one of the machines is not what I’d call horror, unless all MilSF is horror (which I wouldn’t argue against…). The fact that in the end the person who adores being miserable is allowed to be miserable instead of being “reformed” is a measure of how much individuality is retained. I suspect the boundary argument is like that between SF and fantasy, only with even more gray.

    @Eli: ISTM that very little horror (aside from the blatant example) deals with individuality and its loss; I would be surprised if the Sturgeon were influential, but tracing influences is a lot harder than pulling a strand of spaghetti out of a pile, and I don’t read enough horror to argue ancestry convincingly. I also have read only the book — until this came up, the references I’d seen spoke of only the title being different, not the contents. Today I am among the 10,000….

  26. @Xtifr:

    My understanding is that the broadcast version was edited down a bit from the version that was being shown at festivals and whatnot. Not by half, but it is possible that the full-length version will be made available later.

    I saw it at a festival and my impression was that it still should’ve been twice as long.

  27. 1) Well, on the hand I’m happy for N.K. Jemisin. On the other, I would have preferred it if it wasn’t Green Ronin. Green Ronin has had some major problems with sexual harassment, including a “woman’s internship” under sexual harasser CA Suleiman, and creating a problematic code of conduct for game conventions.

    This isn’t to criticize N.K. Jemisin, or Tanya DePass and Joe Carricker, both of who are good people who have worked for diversity in the hobby. I just have long-term bad feelings about what Green Ronin has done.

  28. @Chip: I do recall the the resolution of Medusa involved individual people retaining individuality (and even restoring individuality to the alien species that had lost it), but the earlier scenes when it appeared that people were losing their individuality still evoked some horror (I thought). The decision to sacrifice a beloved object (the violin) for the greater good seemed (at the moment it occurred in the book) like a repudiation of individuality, not a pragmatic choice (I just took a look at the Google Books extract of To Marry Medusa, and people are also sacrificed without hesitation; just before the violin is mentioned, this happens “It threw a child into the drive of a projector because he fit, he contained the right amount of the right grade of lubricant for just that purpose at just that time.” (“It” refers to the mass mind of humanity)..

    In retrospect, I’m reminded of Chesterton’s Man Who Was Thursday, which similarly has a series of incidents that touch on horror (of the “finding out that everyone around you is an opponent, and every ally has betrayed you” type) but in which everything turns out for the best. In both the Chesterton and the Sturgeon, the relief of the conclusion is heightened by the apparent horror of the earlier scenes.

  29. @Lenore: Thanks! In the left sidebar of that page there’s a link to the original story, and another to some notes I wrote about it (and about the adaptation choices).

    @Chip: “ISTM that very little horror (aside from the blatant example) deals with individuality and its loss; I would be surprised if the Sturgeon were influential…”

    I aimed for brevity but ended up being unclear, so now I’ll toss brevity to the wind. When I compared Sturgeon to late 20th century horror writers, I didn’t mean that in terms of the premise of that specific book, but rather the way it’s written. There’s a pattern of “bring in a new character and give us quite a bit of very-close-third-person prose establishing their (often damaged) psychology before showing how they relate to the plot or the danger” that stands out to me in Sturgeon’s work; and any given character, even if we get a pretty thorough look inside their head, might be a major character or a bystander or just cannon fodder. This kind of thing is also seen very prominently (sometimes to the point of self-parody) in horror fiction, but not so much in 1958 – more in the King era. So, regardless of whether there was a direct influence, when I read something like TCR which (again in my fairly broad definition) has some horror elements, I feel that Sturgeon was ahead of his time in how to tell that kind of story.

  30. 8) Does the <rot13>frperg zvyvgnel fcnpr fuhggyr</rot13> arc qualify The West Wing as genre? Martin Sheen had a bit part[1] in that.

    [1] Or so it was originally intended. Then he stole his first scene so comprehensively that the show was re-centered around him, rather than Rob Lowe’s character.

  31. It wasn’t just Martin Sheen, it was the fact that the rest of the cast was far more interesting than Rob Lowe, despite multiple attempts to get him an interesting story arc, he found Sam Seaborn getting pushed to the side. Finally, he had enough.

  32. Douglas Berry: It wasn’t just Martin Sheen, it was the fact that the rest of the cast was far more interesting than Rob Lowe, despite multiple attempts to get him an interesting story arc, he found Sam Seaborn getting pushed to the side.

    I find Rob Lowe to be rather a one-note actor, so it does not surprise me that the writers had difficulty making his character interesting.

  33. I think Rob Lowe very good at the role he does. Not as versatile as some other actors, but good workmanship with dependable and stable performances. I like to see him in Iron Man. It is interesting to see how he uses facial expressions and nuances. He knows his stuff.

    But compared to Martin Sheen? Heh. Martin Sheen has the intensity, the charisma, the presence. There’s few people who could compete with him. My favourite Martin Sheen is still in The Dead Zone. He was damn scary in that role. Fantastic movie. Never got into the book though.

    I did try the book, but didn’t like it.I have of later understood that Stephen King doesn’t work very well for me when translated to swedish. There is something that is lost in the language. So I might try it again in english.

  34. @Eli: that’s an interesting datum of structure; I wouldn’t have thought it a particular mark of horror — ISTM that a thinned-out version could apply as broadly as series/adventure TV (cf the pastiching in Galaxy Quest: ~”I’m freaking out because I’m the sacrificial goat!” “Maybe you’re the plucky comedy relief!”), but I don’t track structure across fields at that level of detail.

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