Pixel Scroll 9/28/21 He Left The Galactic Library To Riverworld City But He Gave All The Scrolls To Her

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The September 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Wait,” by Andrea Chapela, translated by Emma Törzs—a story about disappearances, ubiquitous surveillance, and stultifying bureaucracy.

… When the bell chimes for the next appointment, you raise your eyes from the book you weren’t really reading in the first place. 347. You’re next. You shut the book, a poetry collection you brought intentionally because it lets you open any page and read a few verses before losing the thread and looking back up at the screen…..

It was published along with a response essay by biomedicine and genetics researcher Vivette García-Deister. “Who Wins When the State Appropriates Self-Defense Technologies Developed by Communities?”

… This registry was created in 2018, and it includes disappearances from all the recent violence associated with the nation’s drug cartel wars. But it also includes cases that date back to the “dirty war” of the 1960s, when repressive governments ruthlessly targeted and eliminated revolutionary groups that had taken up arms against the state and anyone else whom they considered political threats, all under the auspices of U.S. anti-communist foreign policy.

Regrettably, therefore, the setting of Andrea Chapela’s “The Wait”—a short story about a woman waiting indefinitely in a governmental office (the “National Institute of Citizen Registration and Geolocation”) for news about Víctor, her missing brother—is painfully familiar to many people in Mexico. And indeed, much like in “The Wait,” women are mainly the ones who do the inquiring of authorities or actually do the searching, sometimes as members of highly organized search collectives….

(2) ROSARIUM ZOOM. Bill Campbell and Rachelle Cruz discuss The Day The Klan Came To Town in a Facebook livestream on Tuesday, October 5 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

Join us for a Zoom talk with Bill Campbell, author and publisher at Rosarium Publishing. His latest work, The Day the Klan Came to Town, is a graphic novel based on historical events: The Ku Klux Klan attack on the Jewish, Catholic, Black, and southern and eastern European immigrant communities of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in 1923, and how they rose up to send the Klan packing.

In dialog with Campbell will be Rachelle Cruz,Professor of Creative Writing in the Genre Fiction concentration at Western Colorado University, and author of Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing and Creating Comics.

This event is sponsored by the Orange Coast College Multicultural Center.

(3) LEARNING FROM THE BEST. The Speculative Literature Foundation has put up an index to its Deep Dives video series.

We like to think of Deep Dives as Khan Academy, but for creative writing. …

Each module is based on a clip from our featured interviews with masters of the field and concerns a specific aspect of the writers’ craft (plot, character-building, establishing a setting, how to get published, copyrighting, and so on). Right now we’re focused on posting individual modules, but as we continue to build this project we plan to create syllabi, study guides, and assignments for specific course structures (such as eco-literature for a science classroom, or a seminar on feminist dystopian fiction)…. 

(4) OH, THE INHUMANITY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 21 Financial Times (behind a paywall). Isabella Kaminska, in a piece about whether homemade experimenters could genetically modify things at home for bad ends, interviewed Simon Wain-Hobson, a retired virologist who was the first to genetically sequence HIV.

Wain-Hobson “likens the scientific compulsion to tinker with fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett’s observation that ‘if you put a large switch in some cave somewhere with a sign on it saying “End of the world switch. Please do not touch,” the paint wouldn’t have time to dry.'”

(5) CLICKS FROM A DEAD MAN’S EYES. Alexandra Erin has a Twitter thread going about Asimov and the Foundation series’ lack of decent women characters.  Thread starts here.

In the thread there’s a link to a blog post by Justine Larbalestier that reprints some letters from a teenage Asimov on the subject of women in SF stories: “Letters”.

Dear Editor,

Three rousing cheers for Donald G. Turnbull of Toronto for his valiant attack on those favoring mush. When we want science-fiction, we don’t want swooning dames, and that goes double. You needn’t worry about Miss Evans, Donald, us he-men are for you and if she tries to slap you down, you’ve got an able (I hope) confederate and tried auxiliary right here in the person of yours truly. Come on, men, make yourself heard in favor of less love mixed with our science!

—Isaac Asimov, 174 Windsor Place, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Astounding Science Fiction September 1938 p. 161

Isaac Asimov was eighteen when this letter was published.

(6) GAMING COMPANY WILL SETTLE EEOC COMPLAINTS. “Activision Blizzard says it will pay $18 million to settle harassment claims”CNN has the story.

Activision Blizzard will pay $18 million to settle a lawsuit by a US government agency alleging harassment and discrimination, the firm said Monday.

The gaming company, which owns hugely popular titles such as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush,” announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in response to a complaint the agency filed earlier in the day.

As part of the settlement agreement, which is subject to court approval, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) said it will create an $18 million fund “to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants.” Any remaining amount will either be donated to charities focused on harassment, gender equality and women in the video game industry, or will be used to create diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company, it added….

In a complaint filed earlier on Monday, the EEOC accused Activision Blizzard of subjecting female employees to sexual harassment, retaliating against them for complaining about harassment and paying female employees less than male employees. The company also “discriminated against employees due to their pregnancy,” the complaint alleged.

(7) DAY AFTER DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 22 Financial Times, behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses video games based on Groundhog Day-style time loops.

These (time loop fames) follow in the footsteps of modern classic Outer Wilds, in which players explore a tiny galaxy which resets every 22 minutes when the sun explodes, the minimalist Minit, where you have just 60 seconds to adventure before the game restarts, and the compelling ancient Roman mystery The Forgotten City, in which a whole city is doomed to repeat a day as punishment for its sins.  That’s not to mention the macabre Loop Hero. murder mystery loop The Sexy Brutale, Hamlet-inspired riiff Elsinore, and even a VR game based on the Groundhog Day Ip called Like Father Like Son. There are more every year.  What keeps drawing writers to this particular trope? And why do we never get bored witnessing the same scenes over and over?…

…Gamers have always been at home in loops; traditionally, game environments reset every time they are entered, with enemies respawning and treasure chests restocked with gold.   Game designers speak of the ‘gameday loop,’ the central repeated action which keeps players engaged. Games are the perfect medium to unpack the pleasure in the patterns of a repeated timeframe.  The loop becomes a puzzle that can be solved, while its cyclical nature suggests experimentation–try anything you like, because you can always reset and start again.

(8) VISION QUEST. The wait is almost over. Vox reports “The Webb Space Telescope is 100x as powerful as the Hubble. It will change astronomy”. It will be launched into orbit on December 18.

…The Webb was originally supposed to launch in 2010 and cost around $1 billion. Its price tag has since ballooned to $10 billion, and it’s way overdue. But the wait will be worth it, at least according to the scientists who expect new and revealing glimpses of our universe.

“We’re going right up to the edge of the observable universe with Webb,” says Caitlin Casey, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. “And yeah, we’re excited to see what’s there.”

The Webb will surpass the Hubble in several ways. It will allow astronomers to look not only farther out in space but also further back in time: It will search for the first stars and galaxies of the universe. It will allow scientists to make careful studies of numerous exoplanets — planets that orbit stars other than our sun — and even embark on a search for signs of life there….

(9) REFLECTION IN A GOLDEN VISOR. NASA’s Astronomy Picture Of The Day for September 27, “Five Decade Old Lunar Selfie” turns around a well-known photo taken during the first Moon landing. See the picture here.

Here is one of the most famous pictures from the Moon — but digitally reversed. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 and soon thereafter many pictures were taken, including an iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong. The original image captured not only the magnificent desolation of an unfamiliar world, but Armstrong himself reflected in Aldrin’s curved visor. Enter modern digital technology. In the featured image, the spherical distortion from Aldrin’s helmet has been reversed. The result is the famous picture — but now featuring Armstrong himself from Aldrin’s perspective. Even so, since Armstrong took the picture, the image is effectively a five-decade old lunar selfie. The original visor reflection is shown on the left, while Earth hangs in the lunar sky on the upper right. A foil-wrapped leg of the Eagle lander is prominently visible. 

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago on CBS, the Early Edition first aired on this evening. The premise was What If tomorrow’s newspaper arrived at your doorstep today? Our protagonist uses this knowledge to prevent terrible events every day.  It was created by Ian Abrams, Patrick Q. Page and Vik Rubenfeld. It was the first major series for all three of them.  It had a cast of Kyle Chandler, Shanésia Davis-Williams, Fisher Stevens, Kristy Swanson and Billie Worley. Set in Chicago, it was largely filmed there as well. It had a successful run of four seasons and ninety episodes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1909 — Al Capp. Cartoonist responsible of course for the Li’l Abner strip. Is it genre? Of course. A decade ago, IDW announced Al Capp’s Li’l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays as part of their ongoing The Library of American Comics series. The series would be a reprinting of the entire forty year history of Li’l Abner encompassing a projected twenty volumes. So far nine volumes have come out. (Died 1979.)
  • Born September 28, 1923 — William Windom. Commodore Matt Decker, commander of the doomed USS Constellation in “The Doomsday Machine” episode, one of the best Trek stories told. Norman Spinrad was the writer. Other genre appearances include being the President on Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Major in “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” episode of Twilight Zone and Ben Victor in the “The Night of the Flying Pie Plate” story of The Wild Wild West. This is a sampling only! (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 28, 1935 — Ronald Lacey. He’s very best remembered as Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s actually in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as Heinrich Himmler though it’s an uncredited role.  One of his first genre appearances was as the Strange Young Man in The Avengers episode “The Joker”.  In that same period, he was the village idiot in The Fearless Vampire Killers which actually premiered as The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My NeckAnd he’s in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as President Widmark. This is but a thin wafer of his genre roles so do feel free to add your favorite. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 — Ron Ellik. A well-known sf fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac,  in the late Fifties. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” (ISFDB says it was The Cross of Gold Affair.) Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1950 — John Sayles, 71. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; andhe wrote the scripts of PiranhaAlligatorBattle Beyond the StarsThe HowlingE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • Born September 28, 1963 — Greg Weisman, 58. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also produced Gargoyles from early on. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote the children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… 
  • Born September 28, 1982 — Tendai Huchu, 39. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the 2020 issue Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story. That issue of Shoreline of Infinity (Issue 18, Summer 2020) is available from the usual digital suspects. His newest novel, The Library of the Dead, is the first in Edinburgh Nights series.
  • Born September 28, 1986 — Laurie Penny, 35. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, Everything Belongs to the Future, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer. “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by Jo Walton is in Vector 288

(12) BEHIND THE MAGIC 8-BALL. Books by Lincoln Michel, S.B. Divya, and Tade Thompson are praised in this CrimeReads roundup by Molly Odintz: “They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)”.

The future is bleak, whether you’re at the bottom of an underwater sea-scraper, in a spaceship headed to a distant galaxy, or just searching for plastic in the polluted rivers of Scrappalachia. More tech leads to more debt, and AI is as likely to compete with humans as to help them. The denizens of the future are buried in the trash of today, and doomed by the politics of yesterday and tomorrow. And yet, as is the surprisingly hopeful message behind any dystopian novel, life continues. Life will always continue. And sometimes, life even finds a way to thrive….

(13) SPIKE THE CANON. The New York Times finds that “In ‘Star Wars: Visions,’ Lucasfilm and Anime Join Forces, and Go Rogue”.

What would happen if some of the most creative animation studios in Japan were let loose in a galaxy far, far away?

In the anime anthology series “Star Wars: Visions,” Jedi warriors battle enemies with faces like oni (a kind of Japanese demon), and straw-hatted droids inhabit feudal villages straight out of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film “Yojimbo.” There are Sith villains and rabbit-girl hybrids, tea-sipping droids (OK, it’s really oil) and sake-sipping warriors. Lightsabers are lovingly squirreled away in traditional wrapping cloths called furoshiki and in red lacquer boxes.

And this being anime, there are over-the-top action sequences, stunning hand-painted backgrounds and computer-generated wonders. And of course, there’s plenty of “kawaii,” the distinctly Japanese form of cuteness….

(14) DISCH TRIBUTE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Will Quinn did this piece based on the 1987 movie The Brave Little Toaster, an adaptation of Thomas M. Disch’s 1980 novel.

(15) SEE MOVIE RELICS. The Icons of Darkness exhibit, which represents itself to be the most extensive privately-owned collection of sci-fi, fantasy and horror film artifacts on earth, has now moved to its new home on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland in Hollywood.

From “Star Wars” to “Jurassic Park”, “Terminator” to “Harry Potter”, “Batman” to “Iron Man”, and so many more, the Icons of Darkness exhibition has something for everyone. You’ll see screen-used props, original costumes, life casts, production-made maquettes, makeup effects heads, and artifacts from some of Hollywood’s most famous sci-fi, fantasy, and horror classics. The exhibition will feature pieces from “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Spider-Man”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “Silence of the Lambs”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Game of Thrones”, and more!

(16) GETTING CHIPPY. Gene Wolfe gets a one-line mention in “Julius Pringles gets a makeover to celebrate brands’ 30th birthday in the UK” at Bakery and Snacks. Which the site is programmed to stop me from excerpting. You bastards!

(17) A GRAND MACHINE. The New York Times is there when “Amazon announces Astro, a home robot that it swears is more than Alexa on wheels”.

“Customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels,” Dave Limp, the head of Amazon’s devices, said at a company event on Tuesday. Then he proceeded to introduce a technology-packed home robot that looked a lot like … Alexa on wheels.

At least four years in the making, the small robot, called Astro, has a large screen and cameras attached to a wheeled base that can navigate a home…

Of all the products it showed, Amazon was clearly most excited about Astro, which was shown as the finale. And from the start, the company tried to sort out the differences between Astro and Alexa, the company’s digital assistant. Amazon said Astro’s large eyes on the screen, and the different tones it emitted, helped give the machine a “unique persona.” (At a starting price of $1,000, Astro is also a lot more expensive than most Alexa-enabled devices.)

But the main uses Amazon presented seemed to mirror some of the abilities of its Alexa and related products, which already put voice and camera surveillance in different rooms of a house. It does move, though, and Mr. Limp said customers could send the robot to check on people and different pets — for example, raising a camera on a telescopic arm to see if the flame on a stove is still on….

(18) WILD PITCH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In ‘James Bond;  Die Another Day” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the last Pierce Brosnan Bond film features Bond escaping from a hospital by willing his mind into cardiac arrest,, a villain who becomes British, gets knighted, and builds a giant empire in 14 months, and characters who practice ‘dNA remodeling by enlarging your bone marrow” which the producer thinks has enough science words for him.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Jennifer Hawthorne, Joey Eschrich, Ben Bird Person, Steven H Silver, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/28/21 He Left The Galactic Library To Riverworld City But He Gave All The Scrolls To Her

  1. (11) In a bit of Pixel item convergence, Al Capp threatened to sue Asimov regarding a letter Asimov wrote to the newspaper about Capp. Nothing came of it.

  2. @Paul – Yes, charming is a good word to describe it. I used to watch it with my mom. Kyle Chandler was very charismatic; I’ve always meant to watch his football show.

    (5) When I read Asimov’s “Waterclap,” it was let down by the fact that Asimov can imagine a moon colony and an underwater colony, but can’t imagine a woman having any role in either outside of childbearing… in 1970!

  3. Steve Mollmann says When I read Asimov’s “Waterclap,” it was let down by the fact that Asimov can imagine a moon colony and an underwater colony, but can’t imagine a woman having any role in either outside of childbearing… in 1970!

    That Asimov was an extremely sexist male was amply demonstrated by his behavior at Cons. His fiction reflected that attitude.

  4. (6) I was going to give Blizzard until the summary judgment stage to try to defend themselves but they didn’t even make it that far, and I cancelled my WoW account somewhere around the caught-destroying-evidence stage. They were my main gaming supplier for the last decade because they do strategy so well so now I’m trying to find a new strategy game. Currently being disappointed by Civ VI but I need to clear some more content before I can justify moving on to Crusader Kings III.

  5. (11) Small correction: Sayles didn’t write E.T., he wrote a script called Night Skies that Spielberg considered making but then abandoned in favor of a different idea by Melissa Matheson. I’ve sometimes seen this misleadingly described as an “early draft” of E.T., but the projects really had very little in common except for having aliens in them.

  6. I always looked forward to Early Edition.

    When I ran the trade book section of a textbook store, I stocked some of the Kitchen Sink Li’l Abner books. When my boss saw them, he told me he had met his wife when they worked at the Dogpatch theme park. He (a big old guy) was playing L’il Abner, she was playing Daisy Mae, and the rest was history.

  7. 5) Ever since the Foundation TV show came out, there has been a flurry of tweets by people who feel the need to inform the whole world how much they hate Asimov and his work, how they bounced off Asimov, when they tried to read him, and were almost turned off SF altogether, until they found Ursula K. Le Guin/Anne McCaffrey/Andre Norton/Octavia Butler. Which is okay. No one has to like Foundation or Asimov’s work in general.

    However, there’s often the implication that the people who did enjoy Foundation when they first read it and for whom Asimov’s work means something are all old white men and sexist and racist, too.

    Asimov’s work and particularly Foundation were very important to me as a budding fan. It wasn’t the first SF or even the first written SF I encountered. But Foundation blew my mind with its amazing scope and made me seek out everything else by Asimov I could find. I didn’t know about the sexual harrassment until years later, because I had no contact to fandom at the time. Though I am no longer sad that I never got to meet Asimov (he died when I was 19), because my teenaged self did not really need to get groped by her favourite writer. BTW I discovered Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. Le Guin a little later than Asimov and I enjoyed their work a whole lot, too. I didn’t discover Andre Norton or Octavia Butler, because the only import bookstore to which I had access didn’t carry their books for whatever reason.

    Every fan has different touchstones and gateways into the genre and that’s okay. There is no book or author everybody has to read or like. And is Foundation didn’t work for you, more power to you. However, please don’t dismiss those of us to whom Asimov’s work did mean something. We’re just as much fans as those who bounced off his work and we’re not all old sexist white men either.

    Also, Alexandra Erin is misremembering “The Merchant Princes/The Big and the Little”. Yes, atomic kitchen knives are mentioned as an example of the gadgets Hober Mallow peddles to the Korellians. It’s just one example. There are also personal forceshields, pretty glowy jewellery, industrial systems and lots of other things. And yes, the idea behind the economic boycot is that those atomic gadgets will fail (not just the kitchen knife, but also the more male-coded gadgets) and that this will foster unrest among the people of Korellia. However, that’s only the beginning. Cause eventually, the industrial systems which generate power, run steelworks, etc… will fail as well and that’s when the crap really hits the fan. The economic boycot will not succeed because of disgruntled housewives, it will succeed because Korellia will eventually have no functioning power plants, steelworks, factories, etc… left.

    Coincidentally, Asimov was also the one who explained to me how an economic boycot works, something my teachers failed to do, when they tried to explain to us that we needed to boycot South Africa. Even though “The Big and the Little” was already notably dated by the time I read it in the late 1980s. Coincidentally, the most dated thing about it were not the housewives and their kitchen gadgets, but the fact that all of the gadgets Hober Mallow peddles to the Korellians are nuclear-powered. Reading this a few years after Chernobyl, I was more worried about the Korellians dying of radiation sickness than I was about their dated gender relations.

    Finally, a lot of golden and silver age science fiction assumes that the gender roles of the 1940s and 1950s will continue unchanged into the far future. Asimov is far from alone in this.

    As for those letters he wrote as a teenager complaining about girl cooties in his SF magazines, the SFF magazines of the era are full of such letters. Insofar it’s possible to trace the letter writers, most of them seem to have been male teenagers who complained about girl cooties the way male teenagers tend to do. Asimov also apologised for those letters later in life and basically said that he was a kid and had no idea what to do with women. Unfortunately, no one ever told him that groping women is not the way to interact with them.

  8. I got a lot of pleasure from Asimov’s stories, even knowing that he was an imperfect human being and even knowing that yes, I should be aware and stay out of arm’s reach. I still enjoyed his stories.

    Some of it, I’m sure, is that he was hardly alone assuming gender roles wouldn’t change and having few significant women characters. When reading sf, I was pretty well accustomed to identifying with male characters to get into the story.

    But I also was kind of thrilled by Dr. Susan Calvin, who was the brain in those stories. If she wasn’t a warm and empathetic character, she also wasn’t what too many smart women in sf were. She didn’t turn out to be crazy and evil. She didn’t suddenly decide that she needed to go have lots of babies. She was a smart woman who wanted a career in science, and due to the strictures of society that existed at the time and that many sf writers, not just Asimov, assumed would remain forever, she paid a price in her personal life.

    He didn’t think she had to be crazy to make that choice. He didn’t think she would find real happiness by having a dozen children.

    Heinlein, in Podkayne of Mars, judged women who placed a high priority on their careers very harshly.

    Andre Norton for quite a few years avoided dealing with the restrictions on what women were perceived as being capable of, and what the perceived adolescent male readers were perceived as being willing to accept, by mostly omitting women characters. Eventually that changed, and she gave us some great female characters, and yes, much better that Susan Calvin. Eventually.

    Asimov was seriously flawed. He was also really important to me as a preteen and teen reading sf, and the ideas in many of his stories really grabbed me.

    Norton, Le Guin, McCaffrey, Butler–loved them, too, each differently. But also Asimov.

  9. 4) In Tim Pratt’s Axiom books they come across a key to a lock labeled “Open only on the last day of the war” and they come very close to turning it in the hope it would be helpful a few times. (They eventually find out what it does. Suffice it to say that no, it would not have been helpful.)

    8) Being very aware of the complexities involved I will be excited only once it’s up there and functioning. Right now I’m mostly just anxious.

  10. (11) William Windom – I would make the case that “My world and welcome to it” was genre and quite delightful to my 12 year old self.

  11. Yes, I enjoyed “My World and Welcome To It” when it was first on. I liked Windom’s character, and his daughter’s character. Obviously it only ran one season, though it won an Emmy. Its formula was a small bag of clever things — perhaps once we’d seen them a couple of dozen times, the battery ran down. I’ll buy the argument that it’s genre.

  12. (11) Since we were just discussing Julie Newmar, she also played Stupefyin’ Jones in the Broadway production of Lil Abner. And the strip certainly contained many fantastic and science-fictional elements, as well as any other genres Capp felt like playing with.

    The power of the whammy, Scrollmoose, is unlimitless!

  13. “Pokéscroll – Gotta File’em All”

    In re Asimov, I used to be really fond of the Foundation books, and the “robot” books. ot quite sure what I think of the two strands getting merged, but I guess that’s not too horrible,

    Not read any of them for decades. And I am now somewhat afraid to do so. Have been, in fact, for a couple of years. Because I don’t want my rose-tinted memories of their contents to be sullied by what’s likely to actually be in them.

  14. 11) re: Laurie Penny – you’re having some inconsistency problems with pronouns there, it appears.

  15. Michael J. Lowrey says re: Laurie Penny – you’re having some inconsistency problems with pronouns there, it appears.

    How so? I’m not seeing any. The pronouns of they and them are being properly used there.

  16. I’m another one for whom Asimov provided a genre gateway, primarily through his anthologies and I, Robot. Growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s meant there weren’t a lot of options until I discovered Sylvia Louise Engdahl and Anne McCaffrey (and even then, her psi books were more interesting). Andre Norton was…okay but that was about it.

    That said, Susan Calvin was another significant role model.

    Foundation was kinda meh. I was not wildly impressed by the merging of the two worlds.

    But those anthologies…especially Tomorrow’s Children, which led me to Zenna Henderson…the anthologies played a significant role. And Asimov’s nonfiction, which had me reading and learning much more than most works.

    That said, Asimov no longer has pride of place in my library, because I’ve outgrown him. Haven’t read any of his works for years, and thinking back on Foundation…I’m not particularly eager to go reread it.

  17. Cat Eldridge: You don’t see an error now because I fixed the pronoun I hadn’t already corrected. I’d only fixed two out of three when this was in draft.

  18. @Cat, yes, I’ve read that. It’s an interesting story for sure, and maybe this is just a semantic quibble but I continue to think that “Sayles wrote the script of E.T.” is a fairly misleading way to sum it up, and one that erases the work of Melissa Mathison who wrote the story and dialogue of the film that actually got made. Sayles contributed a basic idea: there are aliens who come to Earth, and one of them meets a kid. The rest of his story was entirely different in both plot and tone, and I’d be surprised if a single phrase from his script appears in the screenplay of E.T. That’s not a knock on Sayles, who is a great director and writer for sure… and I’m not demanding that the blog post be rewritten or whatever, I just wanted to mention it.

  19. About Asimov: loved him as a kid, haven’t reread him in a long time, and if I were to pick something to try again now it would probably be The End of Eternity, or the robot stories (which I always felt were underrated as actual stories, besides the puzzle element of their premises— he’s good at quick-sketching one-off characters and settings). But another of my early favorites was his novelization of Fantastic Voyage— not much of a novel maybe, but the imagery and the way he talks about biology in it is really vivid and involving, way more so than the movie for me, and kind of unusual for a writer who wasn’t usually so concerned with messy physicality.

  20. Asimov’s nonfiction was as influential on young me as his science fiction was. It pains me to find just how much clay was in his feet, to put it mildly. I didn’t really know until I joined SF fandom in full.

  21. Mike Glyer says to me that You don’t see an error now because I fixed the pronoun I hadn’t already corrected. I’d only fixed two out of three when this was in draft.

    Ahhh. That explains that very nicely. I really couldn’t seen any error in the pronouns because there wasn’t one. I kept staring at it looking for one that wasn’t right and it just wasn’t there.

  22. Asimov’s ideas were amazing but the rest of his fiction writing style was less so, and now that his ideas are thoroughly integrated into the genre, the author comes out looking much worse than he did at the time he was writing. Of course his behavior at cons does not help his reputation any either. (As a longtime technical writer. I think his non-fiction style was very good IMHO and was a great example of the “plate glass” approach.)

  23. Asimov could suffer from “Look how clever I am” syndrome, both professionally and personally. When he reined that in, he and his stories could be quite engaging.

    One thing I found interesting was that other writers would send him technical questions — about orbital mechanics or whatnot — and he would gladly help them out.

  24. Susan Calvin is the only female one that I can think of, but brilliant loners are common in Asimov’s stories, for example “Breeds There a Man” or “Sucker Bait”. It’s a trait that fans of a certain disposition could identify with.

  25. @Cora: Asimov was also a gateway into SF for me (with Tolkein for the fantasy side). I wasn’t struck by the sexism, but then it was the 70’s and 80’s and the best way for a woman to immerse herself into these stories was to take the point of view of the male leads and authors. I no longer have much patience with that way — I’m happy to emphasize, but would rather that be a two-way street–so I haven’t gone back to re-read Asimov, as I fear it would ruin the nostalgia.**

    **My favorite example being in Nightfall, where the astronomers are the first up against the wall when the panic comes. Now that it’s my field, I am amused to try to imagine a scenario where our work generates that much intensity.

  26. @KIT

    In Tim Pratt’s Axiom books they come across a key to a lock labeled “Open only on the last day of the war” 

    In Varley’s Millennium, one of the characters receives a message “to be opened on the Last Day” – that’s disconcerting!

  27. 8
    Bon chance to the launch of the Webb. I mean, they didn’t just pile up 10 billion bucks and set them on fire as a sacrifice for the telescope gods, but that’s a lot of investment on the line. We’re–human beings, that is–kinda crazy.

    10
    I don’t remember even hearing about this show. The late 90s were very busy years for me, I guess.

  28. Susan Calvin was a character who spoke to my teenaged self a lot, because here was an intelligent woman who did science and was usually the smartest person in the room (compare her to Powell and Donovan, who are very much idiots) and who had no time for make-up, boys, romances, discos and other nonsense that my classmates engaged in, because she had robots to analyse. Nowadays, of course, the female scientist who foregoes relationships for her career and who is secretly unfulfilled is something of a cliché, but like Lis said, Susan Calvin was not evil or crazy and her choice of prioritising her career is portrayed as valid. Nor is she portrayed as unfulfilled except in that one story (“Liar”), which I never liked.

    Also, the people who (rightfully) complain about the near total lack of women character in the first Foundation book tend conveniently forget that Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation have very important female characters in Bayta Darrell, who stops the unstoppable Mule, and Arcadia Darrell, who uncovers the location of the Second Foundation – or does she? Plus, there’s Susan Calvin in the robot stories, Jessie Baley in The Caves of Steel, Gladia Solaria in The Naked Sun, etc…

    I have actually gone back to reread some early Asimov stories, mostly in the context of the Retro Hugos, and they are flawed. Asimov is still finding his feet as a writer through most of the Foundation and many of the robot stories and it shows. I still found things to enjoy about those stories in spite of their flaws – Asimov using a really painful “As you know, Bob” infodump that Campbell likely forced on him as a vital clue in a mystery is truly inspired. Though I suspect Foundation would not be so fondly remembered if the first four stories were all there was, because the story doesn’t really take off until the second book with “The Dead Hand” and particularly “The Mule”.

  29. **My favorite example being in Nightfall, where the astronomers are the first up against the wall when the panic comes. Now that it’s my field, I am amused to try to imagine a scenario where our work generates that much intensity.

    Yes, Asimov overestimated the attention given to scientists in general. It’s also unlikely that Hari Seldon and his predictions of dire doom would annoy the Empire enough to exile him and his followers. Most likely, he’d be ignored or even mocked.

    We have a politician who studied medicine and is always making dire and exaggerated predictions about the covid pandemic, which are inevitably wrong. He does get hate mail, but mostly he’s considered a meme and walking joke. This is how a real life Hari Seldon would be treated.

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