Pixel Scroll 8/13 Mission: Insufferable

Check your tickets. The winning numbers today are 4 and 770.

(1) Our Fantastic Four correspondent James H. Burns has discovered a website for an imaginary 1963-1964 FF television series with many clever faux production photos.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Russell Johnson were producer William Frye’s first choices to play Sue Storm and Reed Richards.  Although neither Johnson or Montgomery were yet huge stars, Frye had worked with both on separate episodes of Thriller.  He had also enjoyed Johnson’s work in This Island Earth, and Montgomery had initially attracted his attention with her Emmy-nominated performance as doomed nightclub performer Rusty Heller in The Untouchables.

Episode #5 was written by Harlan Ellison, and others were scripted by sf stalwarts Jerome Bixby, Theodore Sturgeon and Charles Beaumont.

Why is it impossible to watch this classic today?

The tapes of the actual episodes and most of the production notes were destroyed in a warehouse fire in southern California in 1974.

Because — “Flame on!”

(2) MiceAge has the scoop on plans to add “Star Wars Land” and “Marvel Land” to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure respectively:

The majority of Star Wars Land in the northernmost park acreage will be inside a massive series of show buildings, meaning the land won’t have to close for fireworks fallout. The rides and shows in the land itself are being developed in a top secret Imagineering lab in Glendale with Imagineers signing extra confidentiality agreements because the plotlines and characters are pulled from the next three episodes in the Star Wars saga and the Lucasfilm folks understandably guard that information with their lives. But what we can tell you is that Star Wars Land will include multiple attractions, anchored by a mega E Ticket using a trackless vehicle that will break the mold when it comes to how theme park visitors interact with a ride environment.


The plans to expand DCA again with a Marvel Land behind Tower of Terror continue to move ahead, and the E Ticket thrill ride that is planned to anchor that expansion is going to be very unique. The ride will feature a newly Imagineered hybrid ride system that might be best described as a combination of Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Universal’s Transformers ride using every trick and gimmick WDI can throw at it, including on-board audio and effects and elaborate sets and animatronics.

(3) The Star Wars franchise is expanding in every direction. Even cosmetics. Nerdist has loads of pictures of the CoverGirl Star Wars: The Force Awakens makeup collection.

The line includes six new lipstick colors, three shades of nail polish, and ten tubes of mascara featuring quotes from the Star Wars films–including the first six films and The Force Awakens. CoverGirl Global Creative Design Director Pat McGrath has come up with six different and dramatic looks using products from the collection, and those are being unveiled at CoverGirl’s Star Wars Tumblr.

There isn’t much at the Tumblr today, maybe later on. Plenty to look at in the Nerdist post, though.

(4) Syfy channel has plans to develop Frederik Pohl’s Hugo-winning Gateway into a series. Battlestar Galactica’s David Eick is involved.

(5) The New York Times reports on a variety of computers with personality – “Siri, Tell Me a Joke. No, a Funny One”

Fred Brown, founder and chief executive of Next IT, which creates virtual chatbots, said his company learned firsthand the importance of creating a computer with a sense of humor when he asked his 13-year-old daughter, Molly, to test Sgt. Star, the Army’s official chatbot, which allows potential recruits to ask questions about the Army, just as you would in a recruiting station. Molly was chatting with Sgt. Star when she looked up and said, “Dad, Sergeant Star is dumb.” When he asked why, she said, “He has to have a favorite color, and it can’t be Army green.” Turns out, more than a quarter of the questions people ask Sgt. Star have nothing to do with the Army after Next IT programmed it with more human answers.

(6) The last few lines of Brad R. Torgersen’s long comment on Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog are sufficient to give you the flavor of the full 7-course meal. (Scroll down. The direct link doesn’t work for me.)

So, the field is essentially returning to its Marxist roots. But the starry-eyedness is mostly gone. Now we’re down to the raw hate of the thing: the vengeance-minded outliers and weirdos, determined to punish wrongdoing and wrongthinking and wrongfeeling. Which means, of course, smoking out all the wrongfans having all the wrongfun with their wrongstuff.

If they could clap us in shackles, put us into the boxcars, and send us to the icy wastes to die, they would do it in a heartbeat.

Because — by golly! — somebody has to make things be safe!

(7) Some writers can’t fathom how File 770 gets credit for being a radical hangout.

(8) Today’s birthday boy: Alfred Hitchcock, born in 1899.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Petréa Mitchell, Mark, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]

814 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/13 Mission: Insufferable

  1. rcade on August 14, 2015 at 5:54 am:

    This is the kind of rhetoric that inspires damaged minds. If you are being constantly told that you have an enemy that wants to destroy you, you might lash out at them and believe it was justifiable self-defense.

    Are you saying we should give the Germans national socialist workers party a fair hearing? We wouldn’t want to inspire damaged minds, would we?

    The results are in on socialism/communism. It leads to box cars and killing fields. Social justice warriors are not seldom Marxists. This time it will surely be different if they get absolute power. Get real. My and and Torgersens enemies are absolutely fucking lethal when they have power. They must be opposed by any and all means fitting.

  2. Buwaya, I lack the words to properly exclaim how completely humbled I am by your complete wrecking of this place. You make purportedly grown men and women lash out like dim children.

    I am not fit to gaze at your shadow.

  3. Richard Brandt, sure, I’ve “played devil’s advocate,” but I don’t have to dream up ways to show EPH is futile – that is clear from reading the silly arguments for it. It protects against a cartoonishly unrealistic threat model, when tested on a data set that is either completely fake or completely obsolete, and it wouldn’t even perform then except in Best Novel, where it could encourage proliferation of slates as the new normal since it has acknowledged that they are acceptable.

    And – this new part boggled my mind – instead of addressing that, your goodwill ambassador resorts to browbeating those who disagree for being antidemocratic – and is unwilling to consider even a token consultation of the vast majority of the voters! What percentage of the people who actually voted are supporting members? Can you guess? 70% 80%?

  4. I am going to guess the majority got there primarily by rail and by box car.

    Walked or wagons, under the czars. You have to remember that it isn’t all that far from Russia to western Siberia, where the first exiles went.

  5. Brian, I haven’t really kept up with your argument against EPH but what do you say of VDs argument that EPHs sub rosabpurpose is to guarantee a slot for torlings? I find it convincing. I do not think that will be the result though. Publishers will have to organise in secret and the puppy kickers have spent gigabytes condemning organised voting. Which gives a resounding tactical advantage to VD in two years. He might be able to keep Tor off completely while sharing with one or two popular choices. I do not understand why his numbered minions are paid so little attention. Whatever the outcome of the vote there will be more next year.

    I am against it just because historically the Hugo process have worked very well at finding good winners and nominees. Just growing the nomination voting pool would fix things. All the kickers have to do is nothing but they would never see such a horrific nominee as If You Gave a Radical Feminist a Shaving Kit My Love again. But they would also be rid of VD. Sit down shut up and make more people nominate is all they had to do.

  6. Bruce, I’m leaving that money on the table. The chances of winning are…small.

  7. aeou is back? Now that we’re getting closer the whole band is getting back together. What’ve you been reading over the summer aeou?

  8. aeou,

    The root problem isn’t SJWs, it is the wild west internet tamed and run by corporations. Fans – obviously not just Worldcon fans – are conditioned to congregate on sites run by Big Publishing. And Medium Publishing. (And in an extraordinary case, Small Publishing.)

    TNH said on this very thread that there is a financial gain from a Best Novel Hugo – so it is perfectly rational for corporations to invest for one or two heavy hitters to get one or two Best Novel nominations. You’d end up with a big new Macmillan thing, a big thing from Baen, Vox Day’s crew would rally around the new Wright if they weren’t too busy playing Pirates of the Caribbean. Other sane corporations would go hey, let’s toss in a few bucks of our budget for Jim Butcher or Veronica Roth. It is the antithesis of what GRRM says he loves. Getting worked with feelings of glorious heady tribalism even though you know full well you are in somebody else’s pocket isn’t about honoring the authors at all.

    In small fiction categories, corporations have no incentive to care. EPH wrecks those completely. People who like to read a lot of the same things, hang out online and talk about them, and rave to each other about the best ones, would have votes for things they share a common love for thrown out on the principle “we don’t give a damn that lots of fans really do think those are worthy, we’re maximizing the number of voters who get one thing on the ballot whether they are really the best things or not.” Hoyt called it choosing the “least insufferable works.” If evil puppyslaters actually did organize strict bloc votes, they’d get between two and four things in each small category, and the rules have told them that is acceptable behavior, so of course multiple groups will try it.

    And yes, EPH would give VD a distinct tactical advantage. He has said that the goal is getting certain heads on a platter, as it were. His gang would be handed a means of tactical voting against certain authors, while a defensive response to protect those authors would look like a slate and be thrown out.

  9. In small fiction categories, corporations have no incentive to care. EPH wrecks those completely.

    Another day, another pile of Brian Z lies. Yawn.

  10. Aaron, if you don’t like that criticism, there is a very simple way to address it. Just organize a neutral discussion of your neutral algorithm in a neutral space.

  11. Aaron, if you don’t like that criticism, there is a very simple way to address it.

    When you actually come up with some criticism, someone will address it. The problem you have is “repeatedly lying” isn’t criticism, and you don’t offer anything but.

    Never mind your whole “big publishers will have an incentive to throw their weight in” canard. We’re talking about a bump of a couple thousand dollars. To a publisher like Tor, that’s not worth any bother at all, certainly not the bother of the advertising and promotion that the “push” you think they’d do would cost up front. Your line of argument in this regard just shows how divorced from reality your “concerns” are.

  12. I am a day laborer in construction and he is obviously working as an engineer or something similar. He is at least a SD higher than me in intelligence and from the looks of it I would be happy if I was a tenth as well read and travelled.

    You people are insane. Completely bonkers.

    I will take your bet as high as you go. Verification by non proxy residential ISP. If buwaya is already using a proxy there is no way to settle the bet. You need Mike to do a reverse lookup on my and buwayas IP. If they consistently resolve to residential ISPs I win. You won’t take the bet

    This is my last* post under this name. Mike has made a convincing argument that sock puppets and proxies are the way to go.

    *Unless the bet is on.

  13. Aaron, it is reasonable to think that marketing departments might choose option a) thinking about what might help them get one or two Hugo nominations for Best Novel each year, over option b) not caring about it at all.

    Sure, that doesn’t have to mean spending a huge amount on Hugo-related promotion alone. Maybe someone who works in marketing can weigh in and educate us – that would be interesting.

  14. So now that people have started to block him out, looks like Brian Z is switching his gravatar IDs to continue his incessant buzzing. So keep in mind to follow Aan’s script to block him, and note that his new gravatar ID is as follows:


    ETA: For Chrome & Firefox users, the Stylish extension makes this incredibly easy to do, while for Safari you will need to enable the Develop menu in Prefs > Advanced, then follow these steps.

    Credit to Jamoche and Aan, and others that I may have missed out

  15. it is reasonable

    No, it isn’t. That’s one of your problems. You don’t understand the relative scales of money at issue here. Even if the Hugo is worth as much as Hurley has said it was to her, that is a trivial amount of revenue for a publisher, far less than they would make spending their time and effort on a thousand other things. And that doesn’t even get to the outlay they would have to undergo to get this highly contingent benefit – the opportunity cost alone would be prohibitive, adding in the incurred expenses makes it a ridiculous move for an organization like Tor. To be blunt: Your musings on this issue have shown you to be a fool, and demonstrated just how little you know about the subject.

  16. Aaron, you piqued my interest so I just had a glance around some industry sources. I saw marketing departments being advised to pay attention to things that don’t cost an arm and a leg but give you a lot of free publicity, especially on the web and social networks, preferably while manipulating your author into doing as much of the actual work as possible.

  17. On a purely marketing note, I would recommend Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday to better understand just what it is Beale is (failing at) doing right now.

    And also some other recent things, like that beach body ready campaign that exploded all over the internet recently. And Holiday’s own marketing strategy with American Apparel.

  18. Oneiros, thanks, that looks like a great recommendation, I’ll put it on my nightstand. Do you work in marketing?

    By that yardstick why would you say Castalia House is failing?

  19. Since the Hugos are awarded at least eight months after a book first comes out, why bother marketing specifically for a Hugo? Most books sell most of the units that they’re going to sell in the first six months of their life. So marketing spends its energies on launching titles, not on making sure some particular title might have a shot at a better than expected life on the backlist.

    Marketing for a Hugo wouldn’t look any different than marketing a book–is it widely available? Do people know about it? Is the price right? Does the cover art say “Yes, you wearing three fanny packs at the same time, this is the book for you!” Actually-existing awards-based marketing just takes about twenty minutes of some intern’s time to make sure that copies go to juried awards like the World Fantasy and Edgar awards. WFA is less important than the Hugos to be sure, but what’s a handful of copies and some stamps?

    Hugo novels are either Big Time Novels or novels by Fandom Favorites. You can sometimes market a novel into the Big Time (Strange and Norrell) but you can’t market some rando into the hearts of fandom. The authors can sometimes do it themselves by being available to fandom, by having a certain kind of fannish charisma (Remember those otherwise awkward kids who could turn on and belt out a tune for the school play? Like that!), and by having sincere emotional reactions about the things fandom finds important and the things fandom finds awful. Hard to fake. Impossible for marketing people to generate on behalf of a third party.

  20. Nick,

    Well, that’s the crux of the matter then, isn’t it. Generating Hugo buzz, before and after the actual ceremony, would work as great marketing that doesn’t break the bank so long as it is an authentic fan activity.

  21. so long as it is an authentic fan activity.
    Which isn’t marketing by publishers. If you have to generate it, you’re doing it wrong.

  22. P J Evans,

    You know, I gather Weisskopf drew the line at using Baen’s Bar to promote a list works and she apparently must have given Correia an unsubtle hint to take that business elsewhere. It is an interesting evolution of the industry. Authors must self-promote, on varied platforms, owned by publishers, mega-authors, groups of authors, etc. Where they also promote others. It doesn’t fit conventional models, does it? And now we have a 4GW wargame enthusiast in the mix.

  23. Here is an article on how a certain book became a word-of-mouth bestseller and sold over three million copies.

    Of course, step 1 was this: print 4000 ARCs. There are books, from Big Four publishers, that have total hardcover print runs of 4000 copies. So print as many freebies as some books have actual books, and hand them out to tummlers, and—by also doing a million other things—you might have a hit! (You also might just lose a lot of money.)

    This is why there is such a thing as a midlist and a backlist etc. If big publishers could just make every book a bestseller, they would. And they’d publish 500 books a year and let midlist houses, universities, non-profits, and weirdos handle the rest. Publishing would be like the movies. There’s Hollywood (500 movies a year), there’s basic cable making “movies” with aging TV stars, there’s your 16mm guerrilla filmmakers making horror films for the last seven video stores in the US, there’s someone with a grant from the Earth Counts! Foundation to film the endangered Ikarian Orthodox Flatfish, and that’s it. Even the Puppies couldn’t come up with anything more distinctive for their Hugo Dramatic Presentation list than the movies everybody else already saw and liked anyway.

    So you can try to make a big marketing push, and maaaaaybe make it, and then have a Big Time book. But you wouldn’t do this in order to perhaps win a Hugo eight months later.

    Looking at how Big Time novels are marketed and thinking “Aha, this is to get a Hugo!” is like looking at someone buying out the BevMo to throw a week-long block party for all the sexy people in the neighborhood (PS: I’ll let you all know how the party was—just follow me on Twitter!) and thinking “Oh yeah, I see their plan! They’ll bring those cans and bottles back for the nickel deposits in two weeks and make a lot of money!”

  24. You know what, he really may not be failing. I have no insight into his sales or whatever’s happening at Castalia – if it’s working for him, more power to him. But purely subjectively, I tend to be the sort of person who would go for this style of marketing. And it kiiiinda worked, but he offered me a free sample of Wright, I took the bait and realised it was shockingly bad, so I won’t be shopping at Castalia any time soon.

    There are other hints that his Evil Plan isn’t quite working out for him too, though – like the fact that he tends to talk about how great his blog is, rather than how well his books are selling. Now, I do happen to work in marketing, and I can tell you that 3.4million pageviews is worth a hell of a lot less than $3.4million, however you want to slice it.

    Interestingly, it was for basically the same reasons that I decided to read BS (big controversy, etc) – and actually I enjoy what she writes. I’d be more conflicted about buying her books but my moral compass gets a little shaky like that sometimes.

  25. Nick,

    There is a lot of nebulous middle ground between a traditional marketing campaign for a new book and an overnight viral sensation, though. (From what I see without working in the industry.) Obviously the Hugos are a fan award, buzz is literally all they are. As for non-traditional marketing, Baen was way ahead of the curve, Tor.com is unusual. With the Hugos this year we are completely through the looking glass.

  26. “(or in this Science Fiction club, that exists in physical form somewhere, no doubt, and which meets on alternate Saturdays, where they serve coffee and cookies).”

    What?! You folks have been having cookies somewhere without me?

    It’s ]^|>{% high school all over again!

    Ahem. (I didn’t say that out loud, did I?)

  27. 1. Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh: A collection of illustrated blog entries, and quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever read. You can sample her work by googling “the god of cake.”

    Wait, you think there are people here who haven’t already read this?

    (Okay, okay, I forgot about it)

    A lot of her work is available online. The book is still worth it, there is new stuff- but run, do not walk, to check out Allie Brosch’s work. For our word-loving pedant friends, I suggest searching for the story of the Alot.


  28. Oneiros, I’ve bought one or two things from Castalia out of curiosity, and do plan to buy something by Wright in the future, so by the highly reliable Oneiros and Brian Z metric he is doing pretty well overall.

    Despite all the (legitimate) objections to the tactics, the inflammatory statements by authors and editors, etc., at least, if all the guerrilla marketing shifts our timeline to having one more place where authors can get paid, that’s something.

  29. “Again, the problem here is an inability to understand another point of view.”

    I’m with buwaya on this – Vox Day isn’t trying to be persuasive to people with normally functioning brains, he is aiming for the troll crowd- picture Anne Coulter or Glenn Beck. It doesn’t matter how stupid they sound to the majority of people, if they get enough page-hits from mental defectives, they are golden.

  30. You aren’t dealing with terrorists.

    How would you describe someone who says “Give me what I want (that I don’t have any right to expect) or I will destroy something’?

    A toddler? The comparison seems a bit more apt.

    Still not a good idea to give in to this behavior.

  31. I am a day laborer in construction and he is obviously working as an engineer or something similar. He is at least a SD higher than me in intelligence and from the looks of it I would be happy if I was a tenth as well read and travelled.

    You people are insane. Completely bonkers.

    I will take your bet as high as you go. Verification by non proxy residential ISP. If buwaya is already using a proxy there is no way to settle the bet. You need Mike to do a reverse lookup on my and buwayas IP. If they consistently resolve to residential ISPs I win. You won’t take the bet

    This is my last* post under this name. Mike has made a convincing argument that sock puppets and proxies are the way to go.

    *Unless the bet is on.


    I’d be honored if you would like to borrow my fake identity any time want.

  32. I agree with aeou, buwaya is significantly smarter than he is. Buwaya’ arguments aren’t great, but some of the points he’s made about the puppy’s views are correct- I don’t think aeou is capable of that kind of reasoning, he tops out at claiming that he’s gotten us worked up and repeating his master’s line about SJWs and lying.

    Basically, buwaya is a reddit-level troll, and occasionally entertaining, while aeou is more of a YouTube level troll.

  33. @Maximillian

    Well, thanks for making me wander around looking for a proper taxonomy of trolls….

    This seems fun, if outdated.

  34. Maximillian on August 16, 2015 at 12:02 am said:
    “(or in this Science Fiction club, that exists in physical form somewhere, no doubt, and which meets on alternate Saturdays, where they serve coffee and cookies).”

    What?! You folks have been having cookies somewhere without me?

    It’s ]^|>{% high school all over again!

    Ahem. (I didn’t say that out loud, did I?)

    There’s virtual cookies and coffee and tea offered in a spirit of generosity and goodwill to all.

  35. @Bruce: I’d take that bet in a heartbeat.

    As aeou points out, he’s not smart enough to pull off Buwaya as a persona. We are also talking about completely different styles. aeou’s specialty is unearned contempt. Buwaya goes in for ill-considered condescension. (Colonel Richardson’s idiom is interminable smarm*.) aeou is a classic authoritarian follower – you’ve never seen him utter the first criticism of his hero and leader, Dox Vey – while Buwaya is more of an apologist: he has identified flaws in not just Vex but even in his beloved JCW. aeou could never, ever bring himself to utter a critical word about Teddy Day. (Colonel Richardson over-invests, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome.) Buwaya is also capable of writing substantive comments – e.g. his review of Wright’s new book; aeou could never pull that off.

    aeou is not without virtues of his own, mind you. Chief among these is brevity, with the allied virtue of flouncing. Because aeou has things going on in his own life – perhaps just substance addiction, perhaps substance-addiction and clothing orphans with excess smegma, who knows? – he is willing to give people some time off now and then. That’s why the troll inequality runs:

    Buwaya >> aeou >> Tuomas** > Colonel Richardson.

    * Can you believe whatever dictionary Chrome uses on my Macbook does not recognize “smarm” as a word? Intolerable.

    ** Tuomas is like a Buwaya failure mode.

  36. Pingback: Amazing Stories | AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDO: 8-16-15 - Amazing Stories

  37. @Peace – “There’s virtual cookies and coffee and tea offered in a spirit of generosity and goodwill to all.”

    Okay, then, thank you, Peace.

  38. Sarah Hoyt has left the planet:

    Most of these people –Definitely MOST of the editors – came from families where ALL generations had gone to college as far as they remembered (kind of like my husband’s family. It amuses me that paternal grandad would have bowed and scraped and been speechless before my inlaws.) More than that, they’d gone to prestigious colleges. For 99% of them, if they had an ancestor who worked with his/her hands, it was buried in the mists of time.

    What an ignoramus.

    Some examples from Tor Books: Claire Eddy, the most senior editorial employee at Tor, grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. Her father did construction and repair work — for instance, replacing/installing linoleum in NYC apartment kitchens. Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who oversees all of Tor’s SF and fantasy, is a high-school dropout. I believe Beth Meacham was the first person in her family to go to college.

    Book editors don’t have to have 24-karat degrees, or distinguished family backgrounds. They do have to be widely read, and have a good ear for prose — and when they opine about books, they have to be right most of the time.

    I’m sorry Hoyt is so defensive about her family’s educational and socioeconomic background, because it’s completely unnecessary. Judging from the small amount of information she gives, they sound pretty normal.

  39. One of my uncles-by-marriage was a professor at Harvard and at UCLA. He had been planning to become an auto mechanic after high school (his father was in auto parts and service), but his senior English teacher got a call from a friend at an area college who was looking for potential students.

  40. There is a small Pol Pot in Hoyt that wants to come out. I guess she will attack people who have glasses next.

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