Pixel Scroll 9/17/18 Rossum’s Universal Robocallers

(1) MEET THE PASSENGER. Musk’s moonbound ticket buyer was introduced on a SpaceX webcast this evening. “Here’s What Elon Musk Is Charging Tourists to Fly Around the Moon”.

One thing is almost certain: the unknown passenger is ridiculously wealthy. The price for a single seat on the 100-person rocket intended to explore the moon is estimated to cost in excess of $35 million. For the inaugural passenger, it’s a massive price to pay for an adventure with no definite launch date yet.

(2) A MODEST PROPOSAL. The Washington Examiner has a series of suggestions on how the new Picard-led Trek series could please the audience (“Capt. Jean-Luc Picard is back! Here’s how to keep ‘Star Trek’ fans happy“).

  1. Pay homage to “Star Trek IV” by having Picard visit modern-day San Francisco.
  2. Reveal that every “Star Trek” movie after 1996 was actually just an elaborate Holodeck simulation.
  3. Limit the amount of mysterious energy beings to 3 per season, tops.
  4. Have Picard finally make Q shut up for, like, 20 seconds.
  5. Bring back Whoopi Goldberg. Then continue the time-honored “Next Generation” tradition of having Guinan solve everything.
  6. Actually, you know what? Picard’s back. The entire series could just be episodes of Patrick Stewart wailing on the Ressikan flute and we’d still be happy.

(3) PROTAG TIP. Ann Leckie tells readers a way to learn something about themselves.

(4) TIPTREE ON STAGE. The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man runs at Los Angeles’ Son of Semele venue from October 17-November 17.

She dared…

Part fact, part fever dream, this captivating new work opens with Alice B. Sheldon – better known to sci-fi aficionados as author James Tiptree, Jr. – contemplating suicide. Dodging in and out of reality, the play investigates gender, longing and creativity as self-exploration through one of the Science Fiction world’s greatest literary tricksters. Directed by Maureen Huskey; music by Yuval Ron.

Broadway World profiled the play in May:

The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man – Part fact, part fever dream, and part musical, this captivating new work opens with Alice B. Sheldon – better known to sci-fi aficionados as author James Tiptree, Jr. – contemplating suicide. Dodging in and out of reality, the play, with a bold musical score from award-winning world music artist Yuval Ron, investigates gender, longing and creativity as self-exploration through one of Science Fiction world’s greatest literary tricksters. Sheldon was most notable for breaking down the barriers between writing perceived as inherently ‘male’ or ‘female’. It was not publicly known until 1977 that Tiptree was, in fact, a woman. Inspired by the biography ‘James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon‘ by Julie Phillips along with ‘With Delicate Mad Hands’ by James Tiptree, Jr., Maureen Huskey wrote and directs the first production of The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man, opening October 27 and running through November 17, at Son of Semele Theater in Los Angeles.

…The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man takes imaginary license whereby Sheldon is visited by an unexpected stranger – an extraterrestrial “star caller” from one of Tiptree’s stories – who leads her on an episodic, emotional journey through the shadows of her past where, despite her life’s accomplishments, buried pain and unmet desires reside. She encounters her younger selves, her repressed lesbian love, a domineering mother, and the incarnation of her male alter-ego: James Tiptree, Jr. The play locates unexpected links between gender orientation, creative expression and mental health, and shows how science fiction became the answer to Sheldon’s struggles as a woman

Son of Semele Theater 3301 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles Los Angeles California 90004.

(5) MEXICANX ANTHOLOGY. A reader asked how to get a copy of Una realidad más amplia: Historias desde la periferia bicultural, the anthology showcasing a sampling of MexicanX talent which was funded by a Kickstarter.

Julia Rios says —

There are no print copies available because it was a very limited print run, but we will be releasing the ebook for free to the general public. The ebook will go out to backers first, and they’ll have it for a few weeks before the public gets it, but my understanding is that all of this should be happening pretty soon!

(6) NOT YOUR TYPICAL SF WRITER. Kat Hooper reviews YouTuber Hank Green’s sf novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing at Fantasy Literature.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (2018) is a delightful science fiction story with diverse characters and a fun and clever mystery to solve. The entire world is involved in trying to find clues and piece them together to figure out what the Carls want from us. On the surface, the book appears to be about our relationship with these aliens, but it’s really about our relationships with each other….

(7) HISTORY OUT LOUD. Thanks to Fanac.org you can listen to these speeches from L.A.con II, the 1984 Worldcon, by guests of honor Gordon R. Dickson and Dick Eney.

L.A.con II, the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Anaheim, CA in 1984. Introduced by Jerry Pournelle, here are the Guest of Honor speeches by Fan Guest Dick Eney and Professional Guest Gordon R. Dickson. Dick talks about his life “after” fandom, with fascinating anecdotes about foreign service. Gordy tells the story of his life and his writing. If you enjoy Gordy’s Childe saga, here’s an opportunity to hear about its origins. The end of Gordy’s talk feels chillingly appropriate for today. Thanks to the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI) for this recording.

 

(8) A PAINFUL JOURNEY BACK IN TIME. This post leads with a news bulletin from 1963 about the horrific church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, before Galactic Journey’s Traveler seeks solace in a new issue of F&SF: “[September 17, 1963] Places of refuge (October 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.

Deluge, by Zenna Henderson
(poetic sting by Jeanette Nichols)

Now we come to the part I was most looking forward to, the return of Zenna Henderson’s The People.  This episode of the saga is chronologically the first, showing what caused a family of humanoid espers to depart from Home and take refuge in the ruralities of America.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 17, 1978 — The original Battlestar Galactica premiered on television on this date

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17 — Cassandra Peterson, age 67 best known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Where she, and I quote Wiki here, “gained fame on Los Angeles television station KHJ-TV wearing a revealing, black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown as host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation.”  That show evolved into similar shows down the decades.

She also has appeared in a lot of films, only a few as starring roles. In 1989, she would get a  Raspberry for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark which scored a 47% with critics at Rotten Tomato, proving neither group was the target audience.

Everything from films, action figures, trading cards, pinball machines, Halloween decor, model kits, calendars, perfume and comic books to high end statues has followed down the decades. She is genre, mostly on the comic side of things.

Now who’s birthday did I miss?

Steven H Silver’s answer would be Irene Radford, judging by today’s entry in his birthday series: “Birthday Reviews: Irene Radford’s ‘Little Red in the ‘Hood’”

…Radford has published numerous series, many of them through DAW Books, including the Dragon Nimbus, Stargods, Tess Noncoiré, and Merlin’s Descendants. She is one of the founders of Book View Café, a cooperative publisher. She has also collaborated with Bob Brown and as an editor with Deborah J. Ross, Laura Ann Gilman, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, and Brenda Clough….

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) STAR WARS COMICS. Marvel will run all-new stories from all three Star Wars trilogies, starting in December. Here’s the promo art —

For more information, be sure to check out the Disney-Lucasfilm Publishing panel at New York Comic Con on Friday, October 5th at 3pm E.T. in Room 1A10!

(13) SEAT DANCING. Washington Post dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman interviews Fortnite players who tell her that in order to be really good at Fortnite you have to practice your virtual dance moves and good Fortnite players are good virtual dancers — “The dances in ‘Fortnite’ have become nearly as contagious as the game”.

In our increasingly impatient, data-driven society, where matters of style and aesthetics are largely seen as a waste, art for art’s sake is thriving in an unusual place — the massively popular video game “Fortnite: Battle Royale.”

The goal in “Fortnite,” as in most multiplayer shooter games, is to blow your enemies to shreds. It follows a typical “battle royale” format, where 100 players brawl until there’s only one survivor. Though it costs nothing to play, “Fortnite” is raking in higher monthly sales — $126 million, for example, in February — than its nearest competition, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.” How does “Fortnite” do this? By getting players to buy “skins” — avatar costumes — and avatar dances.

 

(14) STRANGE HORIZONS. Charles Payseur keeps an eye on the latest short sff in “Quick Sips – Strange Horizons 09/03/2018 & 09/10/2018″.

Strange Horizons opens September with two new short stories and poems. And the feel of these pieces very much faces the bleak and desolate for me. People who are struggling against a world that seems like a hostile waste, where they can’t find connection, where those people they care about don’t seem to stick around, don’t seem to really understand. Where they are pulled by ghosts, of those they have lost and by the ghosts of their past selves, toward ends that mean destruction or worse. It’s a rather rending month of short SFF, so let’s steel ourselves and get to the reviews!

(15) LEGO LOTR. A post from 2013 but it’s news to me — “Mind-Blowing LEGO Recreation of LOTR’s Helm’s Deep Battle”.

We’ve all seen some incredible LEGO builds before, but this one, by Rich-K & Big J, takes the cake as one of the most impressive pop culture recreations of all time! About 150,000 LEGO bricks and 1,700 mini-figures were used to recreate the Helm’s Deep battle scene from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. It took the duo about four months to construct the 160 pound, ping-pong table size creation.

Look closely and you’ll notice the small details like the catapults, ladders and towering walls.

(16) A LEAF FROM THE LIFE OF TOLKIEN. Not only Tolkien, but Dostoevsky and General Maximus from Gladiator weigh in on this lesson: “Life Echoes in Eternity: On J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Leaf by Niggle’” in Crisis Magazine.

…It was thoughts of this kind that inspired Tolkien’s doctrine of sub-creation; the artist creates because he is an imago Dei, and that of which he is an image (God) also creates. The artist’s creation has some sort of being in eternity, because God knows the artist’s work. In eternity, though, it is perfected, for God knows what it was intended to be, and what it ought to have been….

(17) FLAG. Mikayla Burns, in “‘First Man’ author, Auburn professor speaks on controversy surrounding upcoming film” in the Auburn Plainsman, interviews Auburn emeritus professor James. R. Hansen, whose biography First Man is the basis for the movie.  Hansen says the controversy surrounding the flag on the moon scene is overblown and that he has a lot of respect for Ryan Gosling’s performance as Neil Armstrong.

Hansen understands why people could receive word of the omission and think it is odd, but he said there was a lot of thought put into that decision. When viewers see the movie, they will understand the decision, Hansen said.

“I lived and breathed the production of this movie, and I understand why (it was omitted),” Hansen said. “But people just hear this one thing, and they don’t understand why it was done the way it was done and how other elements of the movie are unbelievably patriotic and American.”

(18) HOMAGE TO HARRY. At Yesterday’s Papers, “A Crowded Life in Comics – Harry Hershfield”.

On the walls were inscribed photos of Hershfield with Einstein; Hershfield with Chaplin; Hershfield with FDR; etc. One day, talking about old comics as we were, he picked up the phone and called Sylvan Byck, Comics Editor at King Features Syndicate. “I’ve got a young boy here who likes the old timers, believe it or not,” he explained. “Can you send him some old drawings?”

A week later in the mail I received a package with vintage original artwork by Herriman, Segar, Swinnerton, Opper, Jimmy Murphy, Chic Young, McManus, Alex Raymond, Westover, TAD, Hershfield himself, and others. Can someone hum, “Those Were the Days, My Friends”?

(19) ANOTHER DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. The good news is that people are still watching the recording of the Hugo ceremony. The bad news is….

(20) OXFORD. Amy Pay regales Lonely Planet readers about “Literary Oxford – a book lover’s guide to the city of dreaming spires”.

As the home of a world-renowned university, Oxford is famous as being a place for readers, writers and thinkers. It’s little wonder then that the city has spawned some of the biggest names in literature and has inspired many famous works of fiction. From JRR Tolkien and Philip Pullman to CS Lewis and Lewis Carroll, Oxford has long been the stomping ground of the literary elite, with footsteps left for visitors to trace.

(21) WHEN PUNDAY FALLS ON MONDAY. John Scalzi’s puns, quoted in yesterday’s Scroll, set off a pun epidemic in comments – and also produced this verse from regular Filer — and this really is his handle — Peer.

Now I feel pressure inside the mountain
I feel pressure, burning the peers
And I feel pressure, hollowing souls
And I feel pressure, filing the peer
And I hope you remember thee

Oh, should my pixels scroll
Then surely I’ll do the same
Confined in ticked boxes
We got too close to the Baen
Calling out Ray hold fast and we will
Watch the books burn on and on the martian side
Dandelion comes upon the wine

(With pressure from Ed Sheeran)

(22) SECRET AGENT REX. Would you buy a home from a dinosaur? Yahoo has a feature (“Jurassic Lark: Real estate agent dresses as 7-foot dinosaur to sell homes”) about a Nebraska real estate agent who dresses as a T. rex to push properties. The shower brush must really help with those short arms…

This real estate agent really had a Jurassic lark attempting to sell one of her most recent properties — by dressing in a 7-foot dinosaur costume. Realtor Bambi Chase dressed as the comedic T. rex for the home’s showcase shots, peeking out of the family abode’s shower, cooking up a storm in the kitchen and drinking a glass of wine in the garden. Chase, who works for Nebraska Realty, said she had seen a number of T. rex-costume gimmicks floating around the internet and  decided such an approach would be perfect for the real estate market.

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

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/17/18 Rossum’s Universal Robocallers

  1. 9) Do not get the nostalgia for the original Battlestar Galactica. To me, it was pretty much unmitigated garbage, the sort of thing that made me a bit ashamed of being a SF fan. To screamed ‘built to market toys!’ to me.

  2. Well thanks for jumping in to fling that poo. God knows how the standards might otherwise slip around here.

  3. A Meredith moment for the UK crowd. I was looking at Kobo UK, and Kevin Anderson has a number of books from his Saga of the Seven Suns, and Saga of the Shadows series on sale for £0.99, as well as several of the books he’s written with Brian Herbert in the Dune series and Hellhole series.

    Amazon UK has Tim Power’s Medusa’s Web on sale for £1.19. Sebastien de Castell’s Charmcaster, book 3 in the Spellsinger series is on sale for £1.49. I think Charmcaster will be released in the US on Tuesday.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know if any of these will still be on sale later in the day in the UK.

  4. While Battlestar was the first to be built around what would be the dominant model for any sci-fi media through the 80s (built around the ability to merchandise), it had a lot of solid writing and acting behind it. It wasn’t my jam, but it was a solid bit of television in general.

  5. Awake, but being cuddled by my alternative credential, Dora.

    Flu shot achieved, resulting in the normal side effects, which unlike an actual case of flu, will only be a bit uncomfortable for a day or so, rather than landing me in the hospital.

  6. 9) I remember seeing the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica in 1979 in the cinema in Sensurround. Those Cylon basestars really shook the place.

    It was not the worst thing greenlit after the success of Star Wars, which was probably Star Crash, but original Galactia got worse after the decent opening while Star Crash is so bad it comes out the other side.

  7. 11) At least one student listened, though he didn’t have elves: Muhammad Abd-er-Rahman “Phil” Barker, author of the Tekúmel novels and role-playing world, a place on the boundary of science fiction and fantasy.

    Costumers brilliantly recreated Barker’s gods at Worldcons, and there was a small but dedicated circle of gamers who adventured in his world. His first two books were published by Donald A. Wollheim (The Man of Gold and Flamesong).

    And yes, he had created several languages for the world.

  8. I saw the original Battlestar Galactica in a cinema in Manitoba, not long after its initial release – I think it must have been an early print and poorly edited; I distinctly remember the legend “Made in USA” appearing on one of the computer displays….

  9. Steve: a quick Google for bloopers says:
    During the sequence where Starbuck is attempting to land his damaged Viper on the Galactica flight deck, Athena begins running a diagnostic scan on her computer. In the first insert shot of her computer screen, near the top right hand side of the shot, the words “MADE IN USA” are legible in the diagram.

    There is even a screenshot!

  10. 19) Hmmm, a musical number for the Hugos? The number of people I’d trust to try and organize that are pretty small. (Seanan McGuire comes to mind, as does MRK)

  11. 9) — I remember being banished to Coventry to watch the Battlestar Galactica pilot on the tiny black & white TV (because the color TV in the living room was being used for Wonderful World of Disney; and I was INCENSED when they interrupted the BSG pilot for a breaking news story about the signing of the Camp David Accords.

  12. 19) I have seen many good musical numbers at the Maskerade at the International Discworld Convention. This year included, among other songs, a rousing sing-along of “We Can Rule You Wholesale”, the national anthem of Ankh-Morpork, the second verse of which is mostly “ner ner ner”, since nobody remembers the second verse of an anthem anyway. It felt properly patriotic, with all of us singing/humming/trying to figure out how the melody went.

  13. Paul wrote

    Hmmm, a musical number for the Hugos? The number of people I’d trust to try and organize that are pretty small. (Seanan McGuire comes to mind, as does MRK)

    At the Nebula Awards in Chicago in 2016, Henry Lien opened the awards portion of the evening with a musical number.

  14. The Captain Marvel trailer is quite awesome and I like how they are tying the backstory, the origin, and the plot together.

  15. Paul Weimer on September 18, 2018 at 5:48 am said:
    The Captain Marvel trailer is out!

    Looks good!

    The recent run of Captain Marvel comics didn’t really float my boat but I reckon they’ll make a better stab at this character in the MCU.

  16. (12) STAR WARS COMICS

    This could be promising. The current batch of Star Wars comics are solid work – I’ve been enjoying the Dr. Aphra and Poe Dameron series.

  17. yay, thanks Mike!

    (I feel the urge to point out that Peer is really my first name and that its pronounced more like pear)

  18. 3) I really like how Ann Leckie articulated this. It’s something that has lurked around the edges of my consciousness in comparing my reaction to some works compared with how they were criticized by others.

    It’s also interesting to note that when a traditional protagonist who does not “fail to protag” but barrels through doing things in a traditionally male power fantasy kind of way, if I as a female reader am left cold by it, and said so, I would be told by many that I just don’t get it, and anyway, I’m not the target audience for that work so who cares how it makes me feel anyway? The book (or other work) didn’t fail me, I failed it.

    Yet those “failure to protag” people who assume that all good protagonists act the way THEY want them too, never have this same consideration about their own godlike critical takes on things.

    9) I was an obsessed Star Wars kid and was SO EXCITED for Battlestar Galactica. I was 12, just entering 7th grade, so I was the perfect age for it. I was a pretty big fan, even being at an age when I was starting to be able to recognize that some of the stories made no sense, contradicted other things that had happened in other episodes, or were just weak.

    It was so frustrating how they jerked the show around too, moving it around, pre-empting it, cutting budgets etc. In retrospect it has a strong feeling of flop sweat, of freaking out at having spent so much money on the thing and needing so badly to show a profit that they never trusted it to find a footing or an audience.

    Watching random episodes here and there as an adult, I can absolutely see that a lot of it was just bad, and of course some of the tropes and most of the effects don’t age well at all.

    But there are three things I will never forget about Battlestar Galactica and that will always make me happy:

    1) My fannish obsession with it led me to talk about it a lot with my 7th grade teacher, who was very nice and tolerant of a chattering, socially inept nerd girl. He was honest in his opinion as an adult SF fan that he didn’t think it was very good. And he loaned me his copies of The Hobbit, and some Heinlein juveniles, which led me into the world of written SF/Fantasy, which I have never left. BG created the path to that, and it changed my life. Possibly saved it, because 7th and 8th grade were miserable years of being harrassed and picked on by mean girl classmates that made me mildly suicidal. Without the escapist retreat of SF and fantasy, I may have become more than mildly so.

    2) I basically invented the concept of fan-fiction for myself. I was frustrated at how the show would be replaced in its time slot by “specials” or 3-hour movies for weeks at a time. I wanted my fix! So I started writing my own stories, chock full of Mary Sue of course. I ended up with two notebooks full of them. I found a friend the year behind me who was also writing her own stories, and we began writing a page a day and exchanging them as notes, with as many cliffhangers as we could jam in while guest-starring our thinly disguised mean girl enemies in order to kill them horribly or make them look ridiculous and jealous of our Mary Sue star selves.

    It was silly but I remember when I first realized I could take the characters and world I liked so much and make my own stuff. I mean, I remember exactly where I was and how it felt. Powerful.

    I liked writing those but it felt like something secret and a little shameful. Like masturbation.

    It kind of blew my mind to discover printed fanfic magazines a few years later and find out that I wasn’t the only one who did that. Also like masturbation.

    3) I will never forget the impact that the episode “The Hand of God” had on me. The plot involved Starbuck and Apollo taking their girlfriends to a transparent bubble that was some sort of archaic part of the Galactica, basically for a romantic backdrop to some making out. But they somehow fiddled with the machinery there and picked up a transmission on a frequency not normally used, and became convinced that it could be from Earth. They go out scouting in the direction the transmission seemed to come from, and discover a massive Cylon fleet waiting to ambush them. They conclude that the transmission must have come from them to lure the humans into a trap, and the majority of the rest of the episode involves the humans realizing they had the drop on the Cylons and deciding to sneak attack them instead. They battle and win.

    The last bit finds one of the two main guys (Apollo, I think) back in the bubble dome thingie listening to static on the antiquated console, still believing or hoping that the communications weren’t faked by the Cylons. He leaves, and the scene stays in the empty dome as words finally break through the static, saying “The Eagle has landed.” They had picked up the moon landing! But they missed it because they had left the room just a few seconds too soon!

    That ending BLEW MY MIND. It was probably my first encounter with that kind of ironic twist ending and the frustration of it — oh my god if they had stayed there for 30 more seconds they would have realized that the Cylons didn’t fake the transmission! They could have found Earth! And now they’ll keep wandering (forever, it turned out, since that was the last episode of the season and then the show was cancelled — and no, we don’t acknowledge that Galactica 1980 ever existed). I clearly remember being in bed unable to sleep, just replaying that in my head and thinking about all the implications.

    I think it’s hard for people who grew up on the last few decades of higher quality tv to get how amazing it was to have any little thing to chew on after a typical tv show episode ended. Everything was always a tidy complete package and there was no ambiguity that you had to figure out. Kids tv was like that, and adult tv was too, for the most part (any that wasn’t was on way past my bedtime). The whole point of TV was to be mindless entertainment that you didn’t HAVE to think about while unwinding at the end of the day.

    I remember babbling about it to that teacher and he was very blase about it (because being an adult SF fan who probably cut his teeth on Outer Limits and Twilight Zone, it was old hat to him) and also said that he recognized that it was NASA/moon landing stuff in the mysterious transmission early in the episode. I think the ending was so effective to me because I didn’t pick that up until they hit that most famous line about the Eagle landing. I was the perfect audience at the perfect age to be completely taken with that storyline. And I still remember how it felt laying in bed thinking about it, my brain so excited by the concept and the possibilities. I could SEE branches of potential stories spinning out in so many directions from that one moment. I think trying to resolve and extend that moment into other stories took over my fanfiction writing for as long as I kept doing it (probably another year or so, off and on, with a big burst coming from my anger and frustration with how bad Galactica 1980 was and so wanting it to be better).

  19. More discussion of BSG:

    http://www.digitalbits.com/columns/history-legacy-showmanship/battlestar-galactica-40th

    As with Space: 1999 or Lost in Space, whenever I’ve tried to revisit the show as an adult, it’s proved to be kind of a terrible mistake, although I had better luck with the version of the pilot that was edited into a movie for theatrical release.

    (I liked the opening sections, up to and including the attack, the assembly of the fleet, and the flight, but was kind of unimpressed with the casino planet they found.)

  20. Meredith moments for today:

    Tor.com’s eBook of the Month is Charlie Jane Anders “All the Birds in the Sky”. It was on the top of my ballot in 2017, FWIW.

    https://ebookclub.tor.com/

    Miles Cameron’s first book in The Traitor Son Cycle (The Red Knight) is on sale for $2.99 via Kindle. This is an underappreciated series from an underappreciated author. I would be current on the series, but I keep giving other books a chance. [sigh]

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16124439

    2) While not a bad list, I have a feeling that the guys from the Post Atomic Horror Podcast might demur about a Star Trek property returning to San Francisco for the 292nd time. There are other cities on Earth. And more Ressikan flute solos would crush Al.

    3) Sure. But those constraints need to be present in the narrative. One of the reasons that Provenance whelmed me was that the protagonist made stupid decisions that had no consequences for “reasons”. Other characters also did things for “reasons”.

    16) I’ll have to give that a read. I was introduced to Leaf by Niggle by Corey Olsen’s Tolkein Professor Podcast. Professor Olsen’s lecture back in 2009 covered some of the same aspects/themes. Thus far I’m up to podcasts released in March of 2010.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

  21. I liked the original BSG way back when, but I do recall how it basically was a “Mormons In Space” story. The production values were pretty good though for the time.

  22. (2) Stop calling it a flute. It is not a flute. It is a(n unplayable replica of a) tin whistle.

  23. @DexFarkin: a solid bit of television in general. I watched a couple of episodes; I wasn’t watching TV otherwise then so I can’t dispute this, but if BSG was “solid” for the time I’m glad I wasn’t.

    @various: I remember a fuss over the theatrical release of the BSG opening episode; reportedly, Dykstra was very unhappy because he’d done the effects cheaply, expecting that it wouldn’t show on TV-as-it-was (some projectors, but same low resolution). I’m not surprised they missed a made-in-USA label.

    @JoeH: I remember that interruption.

    @Paul Weimer: do we know whether MCU time runs behind (despite the trailer citing 2019), or Marvel appears in one of the few locations where Blockbuster still exists?

  24. @Chip Hitchcock

    It is my understanding that Captain Marvel takes place in the 90s, so I think Blockbuster is used as a chronological marker here. “March 2019” is when the movie will show.

  25. A reader asked how to get a copy of Una realidad más amplia: Historias desde la periferia bicultural, the anthology showcasing a sampling of MexicanX talent which was funded by a Kickstarter.

    Thank you! Signed — A Reader

    @Joe H.: I remember that interruption as well. I was watching with some friends and we got extremely impatient waiting for it to end so we could get back to the show, never mind that history was being made. Though for some reason I stopped watching the show a few weeks after that.

  26. 9) For the premiere of Battlestar Galactica, the members of the Portland Science Fiction Society headed to one member’s house (he had a large projection TV) to watch it.

    By the halfway mark, it had gotten to the point that we were eagerly looking forward to the ads, because they were so much better than the TV show.

  27. In today’s bit of hilariousness, John Scalzi has just posted a Big Idea column promoting a book by one of the ardent Sad Puppy supporters. 😀

  28. Captain Marvel is a step back in time to fill in the last piece we need before Infinity War 2.

    (Just watched Infinity War 1 this weekend. Spoiler free: Was happier with most of it as a film than I feared I would be, but am FURIOUS at the first 10 minutes for messing with the end of Thor: Ragnarok. With no need to do so to make the Infinity War work. Also couldn’t help noticing a marked imbalance between black male protag and white male protag survival rates, though the imbalance doesn’t seem to continue among the female protags of any colour.)

  29. @Chip Hitchcock
    I watched a couple of episodes; I wasn’t watching TV otherwise then so I can’t dispute this, but if BSG was “solid” for the time I’m glad I wasn’t.

    If you ignore the sitcoms, top rated shows at the time were series like ‘The Love Boat’, ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘Charles’s Angels’… I’m pretty comfortable matching BSG up against that low bar for quality. Whether you like it or hate it now, it at least wasn’t as ramshackle rushed to screen toy commercial as it seems looking back with 40 years perspective.

  30. Dann665: One of the reasons that Provenance whelmed me was that the protagonist made stupid decisions that had no consequences for “reasons”. Other characters also did things for “reasons”.

    On the contrary, the protagonist in Provenance had understandable reasons (not necessarily to be confused with wise reasons) for the decisions she made, and they always had consequences. I’m wondering how closely you read the book, given that you think otherwise.

  31. JJ: …the protagonist in Provenance had understandable reasons (not necessarily to be confused with wise reasons)…

    Yes, I thought Leckie played fair with the reader in that way, too.

  32. 3) I very much agree. I like butt-kicking protagonists as much as the next person, but not every character is like that and that’s okay. Different characters have different ways of approaching the plot. And I find the complaints about characters who are naive, occasionally clueless and – heavens beware – need somebody else’s help on occasion very frustrating.

    A good protagonist does not equal a butt-kicking character with agency who always rescues themselves and never needs anybody’s help ever.

    9) I have a soft spot for the original Battlestar Galactica and as with Colleen, it was very important for my development as an SF fan.

    Growing up in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, we only had three TV channels and those three almost never showed science fiction of any kind. If you were lucky, you’d get a Star Trek, Raumpatrouille Orion or Time Tunnel rerun and those were few and far between or the occasional 1950s B-movie in a graveyard slot near midnight (somewhat more common, but much more difficult to watch). When one of the three public broadcasters showed Logan’s Run in a primetime slot sometime in the 1980s, it caused a minor scandal because watching Logan’s Run would apparently cause viewers to kill off everybody over thirty or something.

    If you didn’t see Star Wars in the theatre (and I was too young for A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and had to fight to be allowed to see Return of the Jedi) and your parents did not have a VCR (we didn’t get one until 1992), you simply had no chance of ever seeing Star Wars. As late as 1988 (I still have the magazine clipping) the then head of programming of one of the two state broadcasters said that they would never show films like Star Wars or Mad Max, because they were too violent and too expensive for them. The Star Wars trilogy actually was broadcast on German TV within two years, albeit on a private TV channel. Mad Max took a little longer.

    However, we did get Battlestar Galactica and that was the closest thing to Star Wars that was actually available. Of course, the public TV channel only broadcast the theatrical cuts of the pilot and the Pegasus episodes (the entire series wouldn’t be broadcast until the early 1990s) and they shoved them in the same graveyard slot reserved for 1950s B-movies, but by then I had figured out that if I was very quiet and kept the volume very low, I could watch late night TV without my parents noticing. And this is how I came to watch Battlestar Galactica sometime in the 1980s. And I was hooked at once.

    I guess nowadays it’s difficult to remember how different from everything else on TV at the time Galactica really was (and German TV was even duller – stuff like Charlie’s Angels or Starsky and Hutch was actually good compared to what we had). Very few TV shows had any sort of internal chronology, everything was self-contained. The Mormons in Space thing went totally over my head, since we didn’t have any Mormons in Germany and knew next to nothing about them. The pretty strong anti-disarmament message went over my head as well, probably because literally nobody except for a few politicians was actually in favour of nuclear weapons and besides, the Twelve Colonies were actually under threat, unlike us.

    The first half hour or so of the pilot was stunning. First, we get introduced to Rick Springfield, who was a pop star by the time I saw it, as Zac. And since Rick Springfield was a pop star and – like – really, really famous, it was absolutely obvious to me that he would be the star. And then he dies just like that maybe ten minutes into the show, which was a huge shock. And then, another ten minutes later, almost the entire human race is killed off as well. And that was only the start of the film. It’s nothing that would shock anybody today, but in the late 1970s, that sort of thing had never been done before on TV. That was the moment, I became a fan.

    When one of the private TV stations finally showed the entire series sometime in the early 1990s, I persuaded my Mom to watch it with me, tempting her with Lorne Green (“It’s this really great American series and it has this old white-haired from that western you used to like.”). She enjoyed the series a lot, in spite of obvious weaknesses such as planets that were obviously backlot old West towns dressed up with Christmas lights, and had a soft spot for Terry Carter’s Colonel Tigh, while I had a huge crush on Apollo.

    None of us ever had any use for the new series. My Mom watched maybe fifteen minutes, said “Commander Adama would never do that” and switched off. I last three episodes, I think, mostly to rant online about how the new series ruined everything that was ever good the original. I also find that twelve years on, the new series with its focus on thinly veiled US political concerns of the early 2000s looks more dated than the original.

    However, I’ll always have a soft spot for the original, in spite of its weaknesses, and have the whole thing on DVD.

    @Joe H.
    Thanks for the link. That’s a great article.

  33. I recall my reactions to both Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica quite clearly: I thought they were non-SF people’s idea of SF. I was an undergrad when ST started, so I didn’t see it right away. When I did, my reaction was that it was kind of shoddy, and I never did warm to it. (Though much later I came to rather like the space-opera side of Deep Space Nine, while still finding its SF world ramshackle.)

    I thoroughly enjoyed Star Wars, but as a good piece of filmmaking and an homage to Saturday-matinee adventures and pulp space opera rather than as the kind of SF I read. BSG struck me as an obvious exploitation of the market opportunity opened by Star Wars, but somehow misreading the movie’s appeal. Everything in it seemed shoddy, and the “ideas” all seemed to come from the punchlines of fannish jokes about bad SF. (The character names curled my toes.) Whatever you’d never see in Galaxy was sure to be a feature of BSG.

    I suppose I wasn’t a typical movie/TV SF fan–in 1962, I’d had the good fortune to talk to Rod Serling about Twilight Zone, particularly about why he didn’t present more “real” SF. He explained that the show couldn’t afford extensive special effects–just one shot could bust the budget–so he had to find stories that didn’t require spaceships and fancy environments. He couldn’t afford to present, visually, the whole range of worlds SF evoked.

    Which is why 2001 and Star Wars were so important to me as a lover of movies: they presented science-fictional worlds that didn’t look like old Captain Video or Flash Gordon episodes. (And as a bonus, 2001 actually felt, intellectually, like print SF.) Digital effects (and much bigger budgets) have made this limitation go away. As a result, I’ll now watch and enjoy, say, a comics-based movie that looks good, even if I know it’s complete blather SFnally. That’s the movie buff in me. (Still don’t know whether the resurrected BSG would overcome my memories of its flaws, though.)

  34. @Cora:

    My Mom watched maybe fifteen minutes, said “Commander Adama would never do that” and switched off.

    I’m reminded of a book called “A Martian Wouldn’t Say That” (https://www.amazon.com/Martian-Wouldnt-Say-that-excutives/dp/084313612X) which is a collection of memos from television executives providing much needed guidance on various aspects of the shows that were being produced (the title quote is apparently a script-note on “My Favorite Martian”.

    I liked the original BSG back in the 70s, and it was quite popular in general, so I could find several people to talk about it with at my rural high school. Even as a callow teen, though, I recognized that Galactica 1980 was pretty awful. Never watched the newer series.

  35. @Dann, @JJ
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ann Leckie’s tweets weren’t inspired by some of the negative reactions to Provenance regarding the fact that Ingray is a little naive and doesn’t think things through and tends to panic and makes some questionable decisions and that she’s not really what (American) readers look for in a protagonist. But Ingray and the other characters, for that matter, do have good reasons for doing what they do. We may not sympathise with their reasons, since we live in a very different society, but that doesn’t make their reasons bad. And Ingray’s and everybody else’s action do have plenty of consequences. Indeed, pretty much everything goes wrong for Ingray from the very start.

    I also found the fact that Ingray wasn’t the typical cool and hypercompetent protagonist (though she is far from stupid and actually very brave) very charming, simply because it’s different from most other books.

    @Andrew
    Yes, Galactica 1980 was awful and obviously cheap, though the Enemy Mine like episode (which actually predates Enemy Mine) was good.

  36. Was Willett really an ardent Sad Puppy supporter? I read one article discussing it on his blog, and I thought he was lukewarm, although he certainly didn’t condemn the Rabid Puppies for what they were, a blatant attempt by someone to stack the nominees with either stuff he published, edited, or were written by his friends and associates.

  37. I think that the newer incarnation of Battlestar Galactica is certainly better than the original, even though some may prefer the original for whatever reason (and there is nothing wrong with that). It’s certainly darker than the original, and it didn’t quite stick the ending but it was good overall and benefitted from the advances in special effects (old BSG relied heavily on “stock footage” of effects shots and it showed).

    While I don’t remember either of them as great I think I preferred the Buck Rogers TV series of the same period to the original BSG. But I’d take Blake’s 7 over either, despite the lower budget.

  38. Bruce A: Was Willett really an ardent Sad Puppy supporter? I read one article discussing it on his blog, and I thought he was lukewarm

    I would consider anyone who uncritically accepted, defended, and regurgitated the Puppy narrative, without pausing to notice the chasmic difference between it and reality, an ardent Puppy supporter. The fact that he openly admitted to nominating works he hadn’t read, simply based on the authors’ names, only cements that.

  39. @Cora: Ah, “The Return of Starbuck” – That was good! I remember it fondly. A few months ago by the way, my wife was watching BSG and spotted John Delancy in a small role.

  40. @me: expecting that it wouldn’t show on TV-as-it-was: “wouldn’t” s/b “would only”.

    @Cora: definitely a point on Ingray’s youth; IIRC she’s been the disregarded child and is gambling not simply for attention but to show she shouldn’t be ignored. And the priorities of the society as a whole are strange to us — just as some of today’s priorities would seem strange to them.

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