Pixel Scroll 8/20/17 A Pithy Pixel Portion Produced Promptly

(1) IT’S ALWAYS NEWS TO SOMEONE. Some Filers have already traveled hundreds of miles to get in position to see the eclipse tomorrow, however, there might be somebody who’s just heard it’s about to happen. These NASA resources will help the latecomers prepare:

  • NASA Eclipse Facts
  • NASA Eclipse Path (this is an interactive national map showing eclipse times at each location)
  • NASA Eclipse State Maps: Eclipse State Maps (includes viewable and printable maps showing the eclipse pathway and times)

(2) ART OF DARKNESS. In advance of the eclipse, Steve Duin of The Oregonian finds a thematically appropriate piece of unpublished sf art — “Alex Schomburg and ‘The Day the Sun Died'”.

The family discovered “The Day the Sun Died” several years ago, matted and tucked inside a 9×11 manila envelope. The artwork, in gouache, was apparently meant to illustrate a novel by Daniel F. Galouye, but the editors of Imagination Science Fiction selected a different cover.

 

(3) HAMIT WINS. Francis Hamit’s screenplay for Christopher Marlowe won the award for Best Screenplay at the New Renaissance Film Festival in London today. Shown here is one of the film’s Executive Producers, Stuart Malcolm Honey, who accepted the award on Hamit’s behalf.

Stuart Malcolm Honey

(4) THIRD ROCK. At NPR, Amal El-Mohtar reviews N.K. Jemisin: “In ‘The Stone Sky,’ Some Worlds Need To Burn”.

But the fact that The Stone Sky sticks the landing of this astonishing trilogy with timeliness and rigor is the smallest, simplest thing I have to say about it. The gratitude and love I feel for these books, and for what The Stone Sky adds to the triptych, is staggering….

(5) MEMORY. Decades-old memories can be a hazard. In 2015 Douglas Knipe posted a great gallery of photos from Noreascon 2 (1980) with almost 50 authors, plus shots of the Hugo ceremony. But not unlike this week’s unveiling of the digital photos from the Jay Kay Klein collection, it has a tremendous number of mistaken identifications, leading to a considerable amount of unintentional humor. For example, a photo of Craig Miller accepting the Hugo for Alien is misidentified as George R.R. Martin with his novelette Hugo, while a few pictures later the unrecognized (“?”) person receiving a Hugo from Harlan Ellison is the real George R.R. Martin.

(6) HEAD OF THE GLASS. At Nerds of a Feather, Charles Payseur has come up with an entertaining motif for their short fiction reviews: “The Monthly Round – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 07/2017”. The reviews include the kind of remarks a connoisseur would make about a “tasting flight” of assorted beers.

“Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang (Tor dot com)

Notes: Conflict mingles in the form of a carbonated fizz, giving this drink a shine that cannot hide a complex and mature flavor, and packs a surprising punch.

Pairs with: Belgian Ale

Review: Tian’s life is defined by duty and distance, and as an ansible singer she is part of a power that allows her empire access to the far reaches of the galaxy. As the story opens, though, bubbling tensions are beginning to boil and the relative safety of being an ansible is shattered as corruption, magic, and murder all meet to devastating effect. The story looks very closely at the ways that Tian has been pushed into living as a literal resource for the Empire, used for her talent but denied the open expression of her identity, stripped of her chance to be someone important because of who she loves. And even then, the story shows that as the Empire allows her a sort of space to be herself, it’s defined by distance, by denial. She isn’t allowed to be with the person she loves, isn’t allowed a physical expression of her desire, is instead pushed into being ignorant and, save for the beauty of the song she shares over lightyears, alone. Until a different woman enters her life with magic of her own and the power to break through the walls keeping Tian isolated and repressed. It’s an opening up even as it comes at a time of growing fear, uncertainty, and danger. They both end up becoming a part of a resistance that pushes them to the breaking point and maybe beyond, each of them willing to risk everything once they realize that they never really had anything, just the lies and illusions of securing and contentment they were fed by the powers that be. The story is violent and fast while still maintaining a definite weight around the very small and intimate actions Tian makes. And even amid the galaxy-altering conflict the story doesn’t lose sight of Tian and her desires, holding to the hope that they won’t be consumed by the ravenous jaws of war.

(7) SPINNING. Bleeding Cool succeeded in getting an interview with Alisa Norris: “We Talk To The Supergirl Cosplayer ‘Along For The Ride’ At The White Nationalist Rally In Charlottesville”. It’s not a very sophisticated exchange:

…Alisa was clearly getting more annoyed and certain tropes seemed to start emerging. She told me:

“There were a couple of KKK members out of thousands. The lying press is labeling every person there a ‘Nazi’.”

I stated that the swastika flags didn’t help. She told me:

“Most flags were American or confederate or white nationalist flags… Of course they only show the swastika… Nazi Germany is dead and doesn’t even have anything to do with what happening today. It was stupid of those protestors to fly swastikas.”

(8) ROCKET MAN. Aaron Pound gives his thoughts about the effectiveness of the rules changes in “2017 Hugo Award Longlist” at Dreaming About Other Worlds.

This was the first year in which the E Pluribus Hugo voting system for nominations was implemented, and it seems to have worked as well as one could possibly hope to expect. The change in the voting rules, coupled with their waning ability to whip their adherents into a frenzy after being shellacked in the voting in 2015 and 2016, resulted in the Sad Puppies kind of slinking away after not even putting a token effort into putting together a voting slate. The Rabid Puppies continued their Quixotic quest, but changed tactics, putting forward only one or two candidates in each category in order to try to get someone on the ballot via “bullet voting”, and that seems to have had mixed results. They managed to get eleven finalists on the ballot, while five more appear on the longlist. They could have had five more finalists, but Rabid Puppy leader Theodore Beale is apparently really terrible at understanding the eligibility rules, so those five potential finalists were all disqualified as ineligible. The Rabid Puppies were able to get no more than one finalist per category.

(9) LEWIS OBIT. Comedian Jerry Lewis died today; the Daily Mail collected the celebrity tributes from Twitter: “‘The world is a lot less funnier today’: Jim Carrey, William Shatner and George Takei lead stars in paying tribute to comedy icon Jerry Lewis after his passing at age 91”.

William Shatner and George Takei were among the numerous celebrities to pay tribute to comedy legend Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday at the age of 91.

‘Condolences to the family of Jerry Lewis. The world is a lot less funnier today,’ Shatner, 86, tweeted on Sunday morning.

‘We have lost a great comedian and even greater heart,’ Takei, 80, tweeted. ‘Thank you for the laughs and the feels, Jerry Lewis.’

Lewis even did a genre movie – Visit To A Small Planet (1960). His legacy also includes more than $2.5 billion raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through the annual Labor Day telethon. I remember being at a Worldcon (Chicon 2000?) where, in one of the rooms not taken by the con, MDA was hosting a viewing and fundraiser.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 20, 1973 — Twentieth Century Fox Studio executive Alan Ladd Jr. blessed George Lucas with a small contract to first develop a shooting script and then direct Star Wars for the silver screen.
  • August 20, 1995Amanda & The Alien, based on a story by Robert Silverberg, aired on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born August 20, 1890 – H. P. Lovecraft
  • Born August 20, 1943 — Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor. (He also played the wizard Radagast the Brown in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Hobbit.

(12) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian got a laugh from Off the Mark.

(13) SJW CREDENTIAL DOMINO EFFECT.

(14) CHANGE IN RANKING FOR BEST NOVEL. The Best Novel Hugo voting stats have been updated to reflect the change in fifth and sixth places.

(15) SWEEP. Mimi Mondal’s article in Scroll.in, “Women science fiction writers won big at the Hugo awards this year. Here are five you should read”, is illustrated with great photos by K. Tempest Bradford.

The 2017 Hugo Awards were announced on August 11 at the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Helsinki. It has already made headlines for women writers and editors winning all twelve of the individual Hugos, as well as the John W Campbell award. The women writers are a significant part of the team awards as well.

This clean sweep is a first, although women have been dominating the international science fiction and fantasy awards for years now. It is also a triumph, especially for the Hugos, which have been plagued since 2015 by a malicious right-wing voting bloc called the Sad Puppies, who sabotage the nominations every year and oppose any kind of “diversity” in the genre.

(16) TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY’S OVER. The Worldcon 75 social media crew takes a victory lap: “The Road to Worldcon 75”.

To my own astonishment, this tweet gained a lot of traction, being retweeted by over 100 people during the course of a few days. It was my first taste of Worldcon 75 Social Media awesomeness and resulted in me being assigned to work as a Social Media (SoMe) staffer.

I’ve since then been working Worldcon 75-Social Media almost all of my waking hours for 2 years, save for a few breaks, work, and other cons. I did expect to work a lot, but in the end I worked a lot more than initially expected, just because it was such a wonderful experience, and unexpectedly rewarding. I love interacting with people online, and working customer service. Another benefit of working Social Media is that it gave me an overview of the all the different corners of the convention and included working closely with all the other divisions, meeting with and chatting with lovely staffers from all over the world. It’s the best position I could ever have hoped for.

(17) WSFS ROUNDUP. Michael Lee also chimed in with a “Worldcon 75 WSFS Division Post-Con Report”. Here’s a chance to read about something besides the Hugos —

Site Selection

We had done Site Selection for the Kansas City Worldcon, and we new Dublin was unopposed, so much was easier there. I was happy that Johan Anglemark signed on as a Site Selection admin as I wanted to see someone Nordic in the division, and he did an outstanding job.

Despite some mild trolling I participated in of some people opposed to electronic site selection, we never seriously considered it. I’m convinced that generally the current method works for now, and given the political opposition I think there are  other ways to improve the process. Note that emailing signed scanned ballots to someone else to print out and hand carry is allowed.

Electronic validation of voters against the registration database is something that worked and can be improved for future Worldcon site selection. Carrying around all of that Personally Identifiable Information on paper at Kansas City was nerve wracking, and something that could be improved without changing the overall traditions of a paper based site selection. I gather we didn’t save Dublin as much time after receiving the data as we hoped, but that may be something that future Worldcons could improve.

We accepted Dublin’s Advance Supporting Membership rate without sufficient consideration; which had differing amounts in Euro and USD. This was an error, as people would want to shop for the rate that was cheaper when they mailed items in, and our credit card banking was in Euro. Currency rates are complicated, especially for mail in ballots.

(18) VIRTUAL REALITY THEME PARK. The latest progress report on Utah’s Evermore Park, now under construction.

In VR we have been able to virtually walk around our park and understand many of the intricate details that frankly just a few years ago was not possible. 3D renderings on a 2D screen is not the same as walking around in what looks and feels like real space. We were able to fix many aspects of the park prior to the expense of physical construction. For example, one of our buildings was much to small, yet in 2D there was no way assess scale, but standing in front of the building (just like you would in the real world) showed us that it had scale issue and we were able to make adjustments with our architects prior to breaking ground. We were also able to use VR to understand and refine our garden/landscape design and sightlines, etc., making many adjustments. In the next week we will be launching our new website that will provide many new and exciting details about Evermore, including a closer look at the park and our Festival/Shows, Themed Parties and Garden Adventures.

(19) CHANNEL SURFING. British TV science fiction is quite the thing in 1962. Galactic Journey has the story — “[August 20, 1962] A Galaxy of Choices (British TV: The Andromeda Breakthrough)”.

Science fiction on British television used to be one of those once-in-a-blue-moon events.  When it happened, what we got could often be very good.  Certainly Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass series was compelling viewing, which drew in a large audience from the general population with millions tuning in each week to find out the fate of the infected astronauts.

The impact of Quatermass cannot be over stated, the name having taken root in the British public’s imagination.  And, now we have a sequel to A for Andromeda, which I reported on last year, to carry the torch for science fiction on British TV, which also looks like it will enter public’s lexicon.  With the additional transmission of the anthology show, Out of this World, we seem to be entering a golden age of science fiction on television.

(20) DEFENDERS. Today, TV shows air in beautiful living color. Camestros Felapton gives his opinion about one of the newest: “Review: The Defenders (Netflix) – minimal spoilers”.

Imagine Pixar’s Inside Out but for grown-ups – each character represents one of the four key emotions: Guilt, Petulance, Sarcasm and Luke Cage. Luke Cage is an emotion now or at least he should be – some sort of combination of every positive association with masculinity you might want, with a deeply smooth voice and an excellent soundtrack.

(21) A VAGRANT THOUGHT. I gather The Philadelphia Story was on TCM today….

(22) NOW, VOYAGER. An overview of our furthest spacecraft on their 40th anniversary: “Voyagers: Inside the world’s greatest space mission”.

Remarkably, both Voyager spacecraft are still working. Whenever Voyager 1 sends back a signal, it is from the furthest distance any human-made object has travelled from Earth.

Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2013 and is (at the time of writing) 20 billion kilometres (12 billion miles) away. Voyager 2, on a different trajectory, is 17 billion kilometres (10.5 billion miles) away. Maybe it’s easier to imagine it like this: it takes a radio signal, travelling at the speed of light, 38 hours to travel from the Earth to Voyager 1 and back. And it’s some 30 hours for Voyager 2. (For their latest position, visit the Voyager home page.)

Chip Hitchcock adds, “Amusing note: the receiver station they mention using is the direct successor to the one that picked up the pictures of Armstrong setting foot on the moon, as vaguely remembered in The Dish.”

(23) IMAGINE THAT. Another sci-fi trope bites the dust – the BBC says most hackers aren’t sophisticated.

The ways in which young people become involved in this sort of activity were recently detailed in a report by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA). The average age of those arrested for malicious hacking activities was just 17 – the offences included vandalising websites, stealing data and breaking in to private computers.

Because our world is so much more connected than ever before, and those connections are often woefully insecure, it’s relatively easy to find ways of exploiting computer systems illegally. And ransomware in general is increasingly successful. In 2016, criminals made an average of $1,077 with every attack. For the BBC’s Cyber-hacks series, Click’s Spencer Kelly discovered how cyber-criminals can acquire off-the-shelf ransomware using only a search engine.

As Woodward points out, the easiest thing to do is “just cast it out there” – whether it’s ransomware, spyware or spam – and see what comes back. Many people are often surprised by the amount of spam they receive, especially because so many of the scams are so obviously illegitimate. But the reason you still get emails from a Nigerian prince offering cash out of the blue is because people continue to fall for such stories. Not huge numbers, but a few. And that’s all it takes to make a profit.

(24) BOARD OUT OF THEIR MINDS. Metro.uk has obviously played these: “Your favourite retro games renamed with the titles they really deserve”. Like the famous game of insincere apologies —

If board games were honest Credit: Smoosh.com

[Thanks to JJ, David Doering, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Doering.]

109 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/20/17 A Pithy Pixel Portion Produced Promptly

  1. Contrarus:

    “— Second, no, they don’t oppose “any kind of diversity in the genre”. They simply have dual goals of keeping white men on top and…”

    It seems like you think there is a difference there, but I’ll be damned if I can see it.

  2. @Lee Not for the whole day, or I’d have a burning pile of bridges where my personal and professional connections used to be 😉

  3. Meredith Moment: As of 1:21 PM EST on 8/21, the ebook version of On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers is on sale for $1.99 at Amazon. Since it was on sale yesterday, I don’t know when the price will increase. The book is really great and was written long before Pirates of the Caribbean became a movie thing, so I recommend it.

  4. The best thing about the Pirates of the Caribbean movie was the (I assume) dump truck full of money they backed up to Tim Powers’ house in exchange for the story rights.

  5. On Stranger Tidesmade Powers made bery wealthy as Disney bought the name and some of the story itself from so they could use it in that film. The novel itself is very, very good and nothing at all like the film.

  6. 24 is kind of funny, but I was put off by the cluelessnes of the first paragraph. Its the golden age of Boardgames now…

  7. (15) and @Contrarius:

    I’ve written a lot, both outside and within fandom, and I’m usually really careful about fact-checking my own stuff. That doesn’t stop nearly every longer-length article of mine from containing at least one error. And that’s not taking tight deadlines into account.

    Who cares if NK Jemisin was “only” the third to achieve back-to-back Hugos for best novel? It’s still a great achievement.

    As for the Puppies, it is to me arguably more correct to talk about the Sad Puppies first (and include the Rabids in them) than to only talk about the Rabids. First, the Sads started before the Rabids came along, and were only a minor offshoot in 2015 in terms of organisation. Second, both are what I would call an analogue to fascism on the body of science fiction: they want to purify science fiction back to an imagined golden age by expulsing every element or actor they consider unworthy, and set themselves up as the leaders and spokesmen of the true voice of the readership.

    Sure, the Rabids were more radical and in all respects more effective in reaching an audience, but the ideological difference between the two movements up to 2015 was one only in degree, not in kind.

  8. To redeem myself for mentioning that other book, a proper Meredith Moment!

    Dark Horse have a big sale (today only!) If you use coupon code dh40 on Comixology. Great if you want to finish off a collection like Lone Wolf and Cub (I only need the last 25 volumes or so…) Or try out a new one (I’m only getting the first couple volumes of Usagi Yojimbo, honest)

  9. @Joe H. After which, you will move on to thrones made of swords, knifes and other weapons?

    Google tells me the only real life throne of bones was one made of ivory, in Russia. I feel that doesn’t count, it needs to be human (or other sapient species) bones.

  10. Lee on August 21, 2017 at 9:06 am said:

    24) Some of those are very apt! But I disagree with the article’s claim that board games are passe; people just play different ones now.

    Indeed, everything I’ve heard suggests that we’re in the middle of a board game renaissance. Especially in Europe, which, since Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet, shouldn’t be that remote a place to the UKish. The Essen Trade Fair has ballooned up to just short of 200k annual attendance. And here on the West Coast of the US, we’re seeing the rise of the Board Game Café–the one near my house seems to be packed almost every time I go by.

    Of course, the older games that the article mocks generally deserve the mockery. The board game revolution is almost entirely being driven by newer games which have learned from the mistakes of the past.

    Settlers of Catan (though it’s starting to show its age), Agricola, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, and Pandemic are just a few of the recent(ish) games that have helped change the industry. I expect at least three of those to end up household names, if they aren’t already.

    Yes, On Stranger Tides is a brilliant novel which is well worth your time, despite whatever Disney might have done to it in their pseudo-adaptation. (I haven’t had the courage to see it, but I am happy about those dump trucks of money–Powers more than deserves them.)

  11. @Hampus —

    It seems like you think there is a difference there, but I’ll be damned if I can see it.

    I should have unpacked that phrase more. What I meant is that they are willing to tolerate women and other minorites in the awards so long as the white males continue to predominate. They are not opposed to “all” diversity.

    @Karl-Johan Norén —

    Who cares if NK Jemisin was “only” the third to achieve back-to-back Hugos for best novel? It’s still a great achievement.

    It **is** a great achievement. But it isn’t fair to ignore the achievements of either OSC or LMB, nor to magnify Jemisin’s achievement even more than it deserves. Again, let’s not try to rewrite history.

    As for the Puppies, it is to me arguably more correct to talk about the Sad Puppies first (and include the Rabids in them) than to only talk about the Rabids.

    Sure. But instead the article ONLY talks about the Sads, and ignores the Rabids completely. And since the Rabids have had by far the bigger impact, that’s a serious error. And I disagree with your parenthetical about including the Rabids within the Sads — rather, the Rabids stole the idea of the Sads and ran with it, creating a much more successful and malicious campaign than the Sads ever hoped for.

  12. @Lee: I thought Iron Dragon played moderately well; too many of the boards are constrained to one dimension by geography. Note that in addition there are now versions for China (disasters include sandstorms on the way to the northwest, but not the people troubles the govt. has been causing), Lunar (selenographically strict, with IIRC just one genre reference (Alien Artifacts can be picked up in Tycho) and Martian (a mixture of known areography with canals and forests from genre, as are most of the cargoes — you can pick up weapons in Isher, even though that’s more of a stretch since the Weapon Shops weren’t on Mars and Isher was a family). Lunar and Mars also have the advantage of covering the complete globes, in panels, so there are no extremes (although the Martian board is a better projection-to-flat).

    @Malcolm Edwards: was Barker picking up for Shaw?

    various re @24: how widespread are those games, in Europe and here? Monopoly and Sorry were played by families who wouldn’t consider themselves gamers, possibly because there was a sharp limit to how much one could learn about them; the games listed here seem more … demanding? (I can’t tell who plays them; I play rarely, and only with fellow weirdos.) I wonder whether Sentinels of the Multiverse will carry? The listed games are relatively neutral, but Sentinels specifically jumbles genders (e.g., Batman, the Flash, and a builder-of-robots are all female), which might give it greater appeal.

  13. I remember years and years ago seeing an electronic version of Iron Dragon, but I never actually purchased it because I think at the time I didn’t have a computer that could actually run it.

    I also remember the last time I played Empire Builder — I took the game along to my parents’ place one holiday weekend, and we spent an entire day (from first thing in the morning until we gave up and went to bed, and with the occasional meal break) playing it. Was fun, but we all agreed that it should give you more cash or free track segments or something at the start.

  14. Eric and I watched the eclipse with a couple of my classmates from Caltech.

    It was amazing. I don’t believe any pictures I’ve ever seen do it justice.

    It got colder and colder while the sky got darker and darker while the light on the ground seemed to get an amber tint. Shortly before totality, we could see Venus almost directly overhead. (You never see Venus straight overhead!)

    And when the last thread of light disappeared, a cold wind blew up, and with a final flash of light (diamond ring effect) the sun was replaced with a black disk surrounded by the creamy white corona–to loud cheers from the crowd. All around the horizon the clouds were red and pink, but the brighter stars stood out in the sky. It’s impossible to describe just how unearthly this felt. It really did look as though something blew out the sun and left the steaming remains behind.

    The two minutes went by too fast. Before we knew it, there was another diamond ring, and it was time to switch back to the sun filters. The brightening seemed to happen much faster than the dimming did. I suspect that has to do with the way the eye adapts to darkness vs. light.

    Facebook is amazing. While we waited for the traffic to subside, we hooked up for lunch with a bunch of classmates we hadn’t seen in 35 years or so. An excellent adventure by any measure.

  15. According to the birthdays list in Saturday’s Guardian, 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) shared a birthday with his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) (although she was, of course, quite a bit younger).

    Sad to see Brian Aldiss go, although he did have a good innings (as we say in lesser Britain). Hothouse was the first grown-up SF I read, and I read many more from him over the years, and enjoyed almost all (tho’ Report On Probability A bored me to death (so how come I’m still here, huh?) and The Malacia Tapestry was almost as dull). Still, anyone who invents the convention pork-pie wars with Harry Harrison has to be a fannish hero.

  16. Chip Hitchcock on August 21, 2017 at 2:35 pm said:

    various re @24: how widespread are those games, in Europe and here? Monopoly and Sorry were played by families who wouldn’t consider themselves gamers, possibly because there was a sharp limit to how much one could learn about them; the games listed here seem more … demanding?

    More demanding? Not really, no. If anything, one of the distinguishing features of the new generation of board games is they’re getting really good at making games which are simple to learn, but still entertaining, and don’t take too long to finish.

    In fact I deliberately mentioned some that are often touted as “gateway” games: Settlers, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic, at least.

    (Pandemic might be a little demanding, but since it’s the poster-child for the new cooperative games, it’s relatively easy for a newbie to get into, as long as there’s experienced players around as well.)

    I mean, I’m also into some games that certainly could be called more demanding, but….

  17. I watched the NASA feed ’til the eclipse was almost total, then took a little drive. While the eclipse was progressing I noticed the light dimming outside, which was to be expected, but my vision didn’t seem quite right. On the NASA feed I could see the shadow moving (slowly) and that made me wonder if the changing light was happening a bit quicker than my eyes were used to adjusting to, say, from day to dusk. When a cloud goes over I don’t have that same experience. Could just be imagination, though.

    When I came back from my drive I got busy writing my Aldiss obit, which has just posted.

  18. Camestos Felapton: The sun is completely obscured now…oh wait, um it is actually night time. That’s kind of like an eclipse right?

    Sure, except instead of the moon, it’s the earth passing between you and the sun…. Maybe the moon just has a better press agent.

  19. And the clouds came rolling in at pretty much the same time as the eclipse, so now I’m watching Dragonslayer because, dammit, one way or another I’m seeing an eclipse today.

  20. Joe H.: Just like me, you got to see a simultaneous eclipse of the sun and moon by water vapor! 😀

  21. Yeah, I caught the very beginning of it before the clouds rolled in — I mean, before the rare simultaneous eclipse!

    But I’ve been looking for an excuse to revisit Dragonslayer anyway. I suppose Ladyhawke would’ve been another eclipse-themed option.

  22. Karl-Johan Norén: Splendid way to deflate someone’s well deserved feeling of egoboo.

    Firstly, I highly doubt that they’re reading here, and their huge sense of egoboo is no doubt intact.

    Secondly, if my comment were to cause a bit of introspection and perhaps some gaining of awareness, it would be a positive thing.

    Learning experiences don’t have a lot of value, if no learning occurs. 😐

  23. Out here in the country I got lucky for the eclipse. There were large clouds, but also good gaps between the clouds. I got to watch plenty of the eclipse before-and-after, and the entire totality. I even got some pretty nice pics of both. I have to say that I didn’t notice any crickets starting up, but the cicadas did get more quiet and the air did get cooler. More impressive was the very odd amber tone to the light during the before and after, which somehow was very disorienting.

    Parts of Nashville (the nearest real city to me) missed the whole totality because of the clouds. Sad!

  24. Boston also missed — clouds were thin enough that the sun still couldn’t be looked toward directly, but thick enough (in multiple levels) to diffuse any details.

    Xtifr: IME, Settlers and Ticket… both require calculating combinations that are more complicated than anything in Parker Bros; I’d really like to know what the relative sales figures are.

  25. (16) and @JJ: The trouble with what you wrote in your first responsive is that it was dismissive, gives no hint on what you disagree with, and verges into an accusation of personal flaws.

    You know what I read in (16): a public summation post from a dear friend of mine at the end of a long and very large project which was very important to her.

  26. Karl-Johan Norén: The trouble with what you wrote in your first responsive is that it was dismissive, gives no hint on what you disagree with, and verges into an accusation of personal flaws.

    Worldcon 75’s many communications problems have been discussed here in great detail in numerous threads over the last year. I’m not going to rehash them yet again, but if you’ve been reading here over the last year (as I know you have been, because you comment fairly often), then you’ve surely been aware of at least some of the problems, and the fact that many of them occurred over and over again, and already had some indication of what my comment was referencing. I critique actions and behaviors (things people do), which are not the same thing as personal flaws (who people are).

    It would have been nice to see some acknowledgment of those issues, and some indication that learning resulted from them, in the writeup.

  27. I couldn’t afford a trip to the path of totality, but I did take about an hour and a half drive west and south to get closer. Sat at the edge of the miniature golf course at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park in Kentucky. Used a couple of pieces of white cardboard, one with a pinhole in it, until I noticed the sun filtering through the trees above me gave me a multitude of pinholes. Then I watched the overlapping dancing shrinking crescents of light on the ground until somewhat past max at that location; of course the crescents were growing again by then. The light got dimmer, but the sky never got very dark. There was a family about a hundred yards away on the playground, and occasionally a vehicle came along the park road. Otherwise I was alone, just me and the dancing crescents of light.

  28. Worldcon 75 did a fantastic job with information on twitter. Problem was mostly that you had to follow twitter to get the information, apart from obsessively monitoring every existing subpage on the website. It wasn’t until very close to the con that a large revamp of the website was made and the “Latest News” column was added.

    If that column had been added from the start, a lot of the talk about lack of communication would have gone away.

    So from my perspective the problem was not in any way the communication on social media. It was the combination of sometimes lack of information on the website combined with no easy way to know when information had been added.

    I would get information about a bike tour on twitter. I would find no information about it on the website. And so on.

    So from my perspective, JJ is very wrong. The Social Media team did a great job. Problem was with the website and it seems like it was a totally different person who staffing that one.

  29. Chip Hitchcock: Honestly, I think Monopoly requires much more complicated calculatin’ than Settlers or Ticket. I’ve played them both with fairly young children, and not seen a lot of confusion. With Settlers, it helps to know that sixes and eights come up on a pair of dice more often than twos or twelves, but that’s not a complicated thing to explain, even to kids too young to really follow the statistics behind the idea. And for Ticket–I’m really not sure what you think is complicated there. The payoffs for tracks are all printed clearly on the board. If you can add two digit numbers, you should be able to handle Ticket. Monopoly requires a lot more maths than that.

    I’m sure the Parker Bros games still sell better, just because they’ve been around so long, and people know the name and think that’s what kids should be playing. (It reminds them of their childhoods.) But Settlers has sold over 22 million in a mere 20 years.

  30. @JJ: Let me say, I am acutely aware of many of the issues that W75 faced, had to handle, could do much better, or sometimes dealt with effectively. (In fact, you can find me on the W75 org chart in a small managerial role.)

    That doesn’t change that I found your original comment highly and personally dismissive, and against a staffer who while very visible didn’t have much authority or clout to actually fix things.

  31. Drove four hours to see the eclipse. Avoided Carbondale and any other city with huge crowds. Ended up in a mini-mall parking lot, after being evicted from a Walmart parking lot, in Union, Missouri. (That was foolish of Walmart; we saw a steady stream of eclipse-watchers go into the dollar store at the mini-mall to buy water and snacks.) Thin wispy clouds and high haze, but nearly perfect viewing conditions. The light, half an hour before totality and from then on, looked weird; I kept blinking. It felt like I was in an old, desaturated movie…. Had eclipse glasses; kept stealing glances at the sun (didn’t want to look too long; can’t be too careful) and watching little crescents in the sun-dapples below trees. Totality was amazing. No birds to speak of in a mini-mall parking lot, but the crickets started up. The sun looked surreal. I understand why people banged pots together to bring the sun back.

    Then the flash of the edge appearing, the light came up (much faster, it seemed, then it went down; I guess the eyes adapt quicker the other way), and it was time to get in the car for the seven (!!) hour drive back home. (We avoided Carbondale, but there was no way to avoid Carbondale traffic.)

    My sympathies to those who couldn’t make it to totality, or who were rained/clouded out. It was an amazing experience, and despite the drive home we’re doing it again in seven years.

  32. @Xtifr: but the track payoffs in Ticket… are ~half of the possible score swing; the hard part is judging which tickets to keep (and when to draw again) and how to survive someone taking track you’d planned. Similarly with Settlers, in which you need to deal with blockages, figure whether building to a trading port is worth the production loss for this particular layout, and so on. I’m not saying either of them is Drang nach Osten, but they’re at least a step beyond ancient track-style games.

    @Cassy B: I’m hoping to see 2024 as totality is only 3 hours from Boston — but that’s a time of year when New England weather is chancy.

    The BBC has some good photos of the eclipse and of people watching it.

  33. I’ll throw in my eclipse experience:

    Well, it was an amazing day. I got up early to drive to pick up a good friend. We were on the road by 8:45 am to head to Princeton, KY. Everyone was going to Hopkinsville, but Princeton is about 20 miles further west and north, and the totality time was within 10 seconds of that in Hopkinsville.

    We arrived at a nice restaurant just outside of Princeton around 11am CDT, which gave us 2.5 hours to have a nice lunch and set up for eclipse watching. We didn’t have any plans beyond “Let’s drive to Princeton and find a place to park and eat and watch.”, I had just found the name of the place on the internet. The food was great, BTW. I had a BLT that was the tastiest I’d had in a long time.

    I did a pinhole display using a couple of white paper plates.
    We had ISO-certified glasses, so that was good. The glasses worked perfectly to see the disk getting eaten by the moon. The sky was cloudless except for a few high wispy cirrus, very thin.
    Unfortunately, I could not get either of my cameras to dial down the exposure, even through the filter. to get a decent picture.

    Totality was amazing! I was simply in awe of the sun blacked out by the moon, with the corona shining with glorious beauty around it. I was so focused on the sight that it didn’t even register that the temperature dropped (from 95 degrees LOL) and the birds were chirping. Even saw Venus and a couple of stars, but pretty much just looked at that beautiful corona around the sun for the whole time. It looked like a special effect and it looked like nothing I had ever seen before. (duh!)

    So, a 12 hour day, of which 7 hours were spent driving. (The traffic was a mess coming home!) for an hour of eclipsing, and 2.5 minutes of totality. TOTALLY WORTH IT!

    Can now check this item off my bucket list.

    Next total eclipse in the US is April, 2024. Path will also cross western Kentucky, so if my 74 year old body is up for it, will totally do it all over again! For anyone close to the path of totality, if the weather forecast is good, I urge you to take the opportunity to see the phenomenon.

  34. For a different cooperative game designed by the same guy who did Pandemic, consider Forbidden Island. It’s a bit easier. Game mechanics are almost identical to Pandemic, but the game is generally less challenging and less complex – and you can set difficulty levels as desired.

    Probably a good board game option for kids who might not quite be ready for Pandemic or for families who are concerned about more demanding games.

    In a completely different sort of game, Blokus is a great family game.

  35. I find the strategy part of Ticket to Ride fairly intuitive (That kind of visual mapping and alternate routes seem to be strengths of mine though). Sure, it’s harder than any game that goes straightforwardly around a track … but Monopoly isn’t really that despite the square. And it’s easier than Risk, which I was playing, if badly, by 9. I wouldn’t introduce my 5 year old to Ticket to Ride*, but I don’t see it as outside the realm of family friendly.

    There are a number of the newer games which are pretty easy for a child to learn, too. More among the card games, though.

    *Perhaps I should say any five year old. Mine has serious problems with turn-taking.

  36. @Joe Sherry

    Absolutely. In fact, I was playing Forbidden Island last night with my daughter and her friend, so I can confirm that kids find it quite easy to pick up.
    (The sequel game, Forbidden Desert, doesn’t play quite as smoothly IMO, but it’s still quite good)
    We also played Exploding Kittens, which they find hilarious.

  37. Yes, Forbidden Island is a lot of fun (as is Forbidden Desert), though I wouldn’t say it’s the same as Pandemic. It certainly has many points of similarity, though. And yeah, I can also confirm that kids find it reasonably easy to pick up. Big thumbs up here. Great entry point for the cooperative-game paradigm. I should add it to my “gateway list”.

    And yes, Settlers and Ticket are trickier than the most basic roll-your-dice-and-move-your-mice game, but there’s a reason kids quickly stop playing Candyland and Snakes and Ladders once they reach a certain age. (And adults cringe with the younger children bring them out.) 🙂

    If you compare them to games like Monopoly or Risk or Stratego, though, I think they hold up very well. “You need to find another way around” is not a concept that kids find particularly difficult. And neither is “pick cards with goals that are near each other.”

  38. Karl-Johan Norén: That doesn’t change that I found your original comment highly and personally dismissive, and against a staffer who while very visible didn’t have much authority or clout to actually fix things.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion.

  39. I went with some friends to an Eclipse party in the path of totality. It was nice to be able to sit and chat and relax with music and food and drinks in the 3 hours prior to and a couple hours after totality (rather than just parking up on a country road). The minute+ of complete eclipse, when we could take off our special glasses, was absolutely spectacular. Looking around me at the surroundings, the light was quite eerie — very unlike the light at dusk.

    I’m looking forward to doing that again in 7 years, if not sooner, and feeling very glad that I’ve gotten to experience it.

  40. @ Chip: I’m not saying that Iron Dragon was a bad game. The reason I didn’t like it was that IMO it made too many changes from the structure of play of the rest of the series. Done as a separate game in its own right I wouldn’t have had that reaction to it, but having it be presented as part of the Empire Builder series meant that I found it disappointing.

    A bunch of my friends and I had RailCon once. We found a hotel with a function room suitable for setting up a very large layout, conveniently in the middle of several geographically-scattered rail-game groups, and we had Rails Around The World with all the boards extant at the time in play at once, and house rules for things like overseas travel. It would work a lot better now — this was before Russian Rails and India Rails — but I don’t remember all the accommodations we worked out. In the evenings we used extra boards for smaller groups to play or to experiment with. I rather liked playing Eurorails with 2 other people, each of us running 2 trains. It changes a lot of the game strategy!

    @ Joe H: My group eventually decided to play using the Fast Game variation as the default. Instead of Regular and Heavy trains moving 9 spaces, they move 12; Fast and Super trains move 16 spaces. It’s amazing how much faster the game goes that way. Our other main house rule was “Trains Don’t Fall Out of the Sky” — in order to upgrade, you had to be in a city (any size), which might mean having to sacrifice some movement points.

  41. All of this boardgame chat is making me look longingly at my recently unplayed stack of games. My gaming group is on hiatus until after Eid as everyone is taking every opportunity to escape the heat and humidity in the city.

    It’s certainly true that boardgames are having a resurgence as a niche hobby, although I still get funny looks from most people when I mention them. There really is a great variety of well-designed games available now, with tried and tested mechanics. Almost too many to keep track of.

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