Pixel Scroll 9/9/18 I Can’t Get No Pixel Action When I’m Reading Pixel Scroll

(1) TAFF DATES ANNOUNCED. John  Purcell says it’s almost time to submit nominees for the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race.

Since a lot of people have asked, European TAFF Administrator Johan Anglemark and I have established the following dates for the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund Race to send a North American fan to the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Dublin, Ireland over August 15 – 19, 2019. Here you go, folks:

The actual nomination period will run from October 1st to November 22nd of 2018. Therefore, if anyone is interested in standing for TAFF, the month of September is the time to line up your nominators.

The actual voting period will start on December 1st, 2018, and end on April 22nd, 2019. The week between the end of nominations and the beginning of voting will give your humble and obedient administrators the time to prepare the proper and official ballot.

A much more informative, official 2019 TAFF Press Release shall follow Real Soon Now and will include procedures and related data potential candidates need to know. In the meantime, if you go to the TAFF website https://taff.org.uk/ maintained by that nice David Langford fellow, you can learn many of these details there.

This race should be a lot fun. If you have any questions, feel free to ask either Johan Anglemark or me, John Purcell, and we will answer them as quickly as possible.

(2) EARLY PROMO ART. Sotheby’s auctioned off a Revenge of the Jedi poster on August 28 (Original Film Posters Online). Note, that’s “Revenge,” not “Return.” They’d estimated it would go for £1,400–2,600. After 23 bids it sold for £23,000.

(3) NO SHEET. Jim C. Hines is on the case —

(4) GREAT AMERICAN READ. Voting at last is open for PBS’ The Great American Read, which has been mentioned here several times. Get clicking!

(5) CONSCIOUS SYNTHS. Abigail Nussbaum’s column for Lawyers, Guns & Money takes on the robotic TV show Humans: “A Political History of the Future: Humans”.

…One core difference between Humans and a lot of other science fiction shows about robots or despised minorities with special powers is that it doesn’t center violence—and, when violence does occur, it is used exclusively to horrifying, demoralizing effect. Synths are strong, quick, and agile, but there are hardly any badass robot fights in this show. On the contrary, it often seems as if synths are a great deal more fragile than humans, succumbing to beatings and abuses that a human might recover from (which makes sense if you consider that these are basically talking household appliances, the sort of thing you’d be expected to replace after a few years). Images of damaged and mistreated synths recur frequently throughout the show, as a reminder of both the danger that our main characters face in human society, and the fact that this is a story where problems will mostly be solved by talking (though some characters, like the belligerent, short-tempered Niska, find this incredibly frustrating). This is a role left primarily to Laura, who over the course of the show’s three seasons embraces the cause of synth rights, and Mia, who becomes a figurehead in the growing community of conscious synths.

It’s an approach that, paradoxically, allows Humans to address much heavier, darker subject matter than more high-concept executions of its premise, precisely because the show is so grounded in the familiar….

(6) WHERE THE MONEY IS. AV/TV Club handicaps the contenders to succeed GoT: “Game of Game Of Thrones thrones: 43 big upcoming fantasy and sci-fi shows”.

Since debuting in April 2011, HBO’s Game Of Thrones has slowly become the defining television phenomenon of this decade, dominating the pop culture conversation in a way no other show has since the glory days of The Sopranos. It was one of a number of shows angling to step into the mob drama’s place, along with Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Sons Of Anarchy, Justified, and House Of Cards. HBO initially sold its adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic as “The Sopranos in Middle-earth,” hoping to transplant David Chase’s deeply American saga of violence, sex, family, and power to a sprawling, Tolkien-esque fantasy world. It managed to fulfill those expectations and then some, surpassing Sopranos viewership mid-way through its fourth season. Today it’s gone far beyond that: “Khaleesi” was a more popular name for baby girls in 2017 than “Brittany.”

But winter is coming. As Game Of Thrones heads into its final, six-episode season—slated to premiere sometime in 2019—it leaves a gaping hole in the television landscape. Everyone from Apple to FX has pined, sometimes publicly, for their “own Game Of Thrones,” and the model is clear: Find a nerd-culture tome, and throw money at it. Amazon has pledged to invest $1 billion on its prize-horse, a Lord Of The Rings prequel, but, as you’ll see below, this is a race with a lot of horses. There are dozens of such projects in the works, and even more if you factor in the game, film, and comic adaptations drawn in Thrones’ image, not to mention HBO’s own in-house heirs….

(7) HOW IT COULD HAVE ENDED. ScienceFiction.com says showrunner Ira Steven Behr’s idea for “The Original Series Finale For ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ Would Have Blown Viewers Minds!”

His vision was shot down but would have been a direct callback to one of the more interesting episodes in the series. Specifically, it would have directly gone back to “Far Beyond The Stars” from the sixth season. In it, Benjamin Sisko was given a vision of another life by the Wormhole Aliens where instead of being a Starfleet Captain he was actually Benny Russell who was a 1950s science fiction writer. As an author, he came up with the idea of Deep Space Nine in a story that not only dealt with racism but also was “about the dreamer and the dream and who is dreaming and what they are dreaming about.”

As for the potential series finale, it would have revisited the idea of Benny Russell:

“I did pitch to Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head. That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said “Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?” I said, “Hey man, I don’t care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine, and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.” He didn’t go for it.”

(8) TREKIVERSARY. On the anniversary, SYFY Wire listed “Star Trek: 6 crazy things that nobody remembers about the first episode ever”. The first one thew into doubt just when the anniversary is —

Canada jumped the phaser and aired “The Man Trap” two days early

Famously, the anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek’s first episode is September 8th, 1966 on NBC, in America. But it turns out that the CBC in Canada aired the show two days early, on September 6th. This little-known fact emerged two years ago, surrounding the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the entire Trek franchise. Larry Nemecek, Trek historian and host of the podcast The Trek Files confirms this: “I was shocked that it took 50 years to penetrate us [Americans]! It’s apparently true. I’ve seen scans of Canadian newspaper TV listings that show it.”

(9) BREAKOUT MARVEL. NPR’s Emma Bowman says “Female Breakout ‘Captain Marvel’ Screenwriter Is Disrupting The Superheroine Trope”:

In a male-dominated industry, Geneva Robertson-Dworet is as rare as the female superhero characters she helps craft. The breakout action-genre screenwriter will be adding a historic project to her resume with Captain Marvel, Marvel’s first female-led movie, due out next year.

Robertson-Dworet, who penned the Tomb Raider blockbuster reboot, has also been tapped to work on Sherlock Holmes 3, Gotham City Sirens and the new Dungeons & Dragons adaptation.

In an interview with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition, the screenwriter praises the lengths Marvel took to recruit a female-heavy team — both on screen and behind the scenes — for the film, starring Brie Larson.

“Marvel really went above and beyond with Captain Marvel,” Robertson-Dworet says. “Not only did they have Anna Boden, who, along with Ryan Fleck is directing the movie … they had many female writers working on the project. They also had female producers in the room. And that is really rare to have that.”

(10) THE POWER. The Guardian says this job is not that f*ckin’ easy! “The YouTube stars heading for burnout: ‘The most fun job imaginable became deeply bleak’”.

…Professional YouTubers speak in tones at once reverential and resentful of the power of “the Algorithm” (it’s seen as a near-sentient entity, not only by creators, but also by YouTube’s own engineers). Created by the high priests of Silicon Valley, who continually tweak its characteristics, this is the programming code on which the fate of every YouTuber depends. It decides which videos to pluck from the Niagara of content that splashes on to YouTube every hour (400 hours’ worth every 60 seconds, according to Google) to deliver as “recommended viewing” to the service’s billions of users.

… As part of its Creator Academy, a vast online “school” covering everything from how to “enhance your channel’s search and discovery potential” to how to “make deals with brands”, YouTube recently commissioned a series of videos designed to teach its partners how to avoid fatigue. (Few of the people I speak to who run YouTube channels are aware of the resource.) The video on burnout has been viewed just over 32,000 times. It’s written and presented by 34-year-old Kati Morton. A licensed therapist based in Los Angeles, Morton has been posting videos to YouTube for eight years. As such, she is well placed to understand both the problem and the potential solution.

(11) DAILY OBIT. I Dream of Jeannie’s Bill Daily has died.

Actor Bill Daily, best known for his role as Roger Healey in the popular 1960s sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” has died at the age of 91, his son J. Patrick Daily said.

Bill Daily died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Tuesday, publicist Patterson Lundquist wrote on Facebook.

Patrick Daily said his father “was a very happy man. He was happy with everything he did.”

…Daily played an Army captain, later a major, in the space program, the funny sidekick to Larry Hagman’s Air Force Maj. Tony Nelson, on “Jeannie.” The title character, a 2,000-year-old genie, was played by Barbara Eden.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

A salute —

(13) MOST IMPORTANT GENRE. If the proof of a fan’s intelligence is how closely they agree with you, a lot of people are going to conclude Harari is pretty bright, WIRED interviews him about “Why Science Fiction Is the Most Important Genre”.

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Deus, is a big fan of science fiction, and includes an entire chapter about it in his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

“Today science fiction is the most important artistic genre,” Harari says in Episode 325 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.”

(14) INSTRUMENTALITY. Cordwainer Smith is still in mid-career as Galactic Journey considers his story in the latest issue of Galaxy, “On the Gem Planet”: “[September 9, 1963] Great Expectations (October 1963 Galaxy)”.

On a world composed solely of precious stones, a lone horse wanders masterless through a crystal valley.  The Dictator of the planet and his beautiful heir entreat a young visitor, a crusading exile whose sole goal is to regain the throne of his home planet, for an explanation of how the horse came to his current condition.

Nothing more need be said of this piece save that it is another tale of the Instrumentality by the inimitable Smith, and it does not injure the reputation of the series or its writer.  Four stars.

(15) HOLD THAT APPLAUSE. Bastian’s Book Reviews is lukewarm about its latest subject: “Review: The Fairy’s Tale by F.D. Lee”.

The Fairy’s Tale is a humorous novel about Bea, a fairy who works to ensure that fairy tales go according to plan. Bea herself, meanwhile, dreams of being promoted from a watcher to a manager (i.e. a fairy godmother), allowed to interact with the characters (humans) rather than just being an unseen force that applies minor nudges….

(16) NAGATA PRAISED. However, at Black Gate Steve Case finds plenty of good things to say about a book: “A Celebration of the Wonder of the Universe Itself: Vast by Linda Nagata”

I’ll get right to it: Linda Nagata’s Vast is everything you want epic sci-fi to be: a huge scope in time and space, a compelling look at the horizons of human and technological evolution, and a celebration of the wonder of the universe itself. Vast provides all this, with some truly beautiful descriptions of stellar evolution thrown in for good measure. On top of all this, this scale and big ideas are woven alongside excellent character formation and a plot that builds tension so effectively that long years of pursuit between vessels with slow relative velocities still feels sharp and urgent.

I liked this book. A lot.

(17) DRY DOC. io9’s Julie Muncy found a video that demonstrates how “The Star Trek Universe Uses a Surprising Amount of Paper”.

YouTuber EC Henry has put together a fascinating little video chronicling the history of paper usage in the Star Trek universe, chronologically moving from the original series up through the timeline and noting how the use of paper changes as time passes. In Kirk’s time, fascinatingly, paper is everywhere, and is regularly used for military purposes, while by the time of The Next Generation such usages have almost entirely vanished.

 

(18) IN OBSERVATORY YET GREEN. Let Space.com tell you “How to See the Bright Green Comet 21P in Binoculars on Monday”.

Want to see a comet whizzing by Earth? A great chance to catch one of these celestial visitors is overnight tonight, when Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner will be best visible in binoculars or a telescope.

The comet, also known as “21P,” will make its closest approach to Earth at around 2:30 a.m. EDT Monday (630 GMT). The bright-green comet should reach a visual magnitude of 6.5 to 7, according to EarthSky.org. This makes 21P almost bright enough to see with the naked eye — but not quite. […]

To find Comet 21P in the night sky, look east and find the constellation Auriga sometime between midnight and dawn local time. The comet will still be visible even after tomorrow, but it will fade over the coming days. Its exact location from moment to moment is available in NASA’s ephemeris calculator.

(19) IT’S FEELING BETTER. According to Engadget, “Planet-hunting Kepler telescope declares that it is not, in fact, dead”.

At this point, most space enthusiasts and insiders have said their goodbyes to the Kepler spacecraft. We’ve known for months that it’s very low on fuel, and its planet-hunting replacement, TESS, has already launched. But Kepler has a mind of its own, apparently. Despite the fact that its level of fuel is now crippling, and it’s had its share of mechanical issues, the telescope is once again back to work collecting scientific data and looking for new exoplanets.

(20) CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Variety reports “Michael K. Williams Still Wants to Be Part of ‘Star Wars’ Franchise”.

Michael K. Williams holds no grudges against “Star Wars.”

The actor’s role was cut from the standalone Han Solo film “Solo” after director Ron Howard’s reshoots conflicted with his schedule. Paul Bettany stepped in and the character was reimagined for the new casting.

“I have not had the chance to see ‘Solo’ but shout out to my cast mates,” Williams told Variety on Saturday at the HFPA and InStyle party at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Even though I didn’t make the final cut, they’re still my cast mates. I love you guys.”

He hasn’t seen ‘Solo’ yet, but “I’m quite sure I’ll get around to it but I’m more interested in getting another shot in being in that galaxy…I would love another opportunity to be in ‘Star Wars.’”

(21) STORM WARNING. Unlike the Mercury-Gemini capsule days, a splashdown here would not mean a happy ending. Ars Technica explains: “SpaceX to launch super-heavy payload, land in high seas Sunday night”

After slightly more than a month, SpaceX returns to the launch pad Sunday night to deliver the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite into orbit. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:28pm ET (03:28 UTC) for a mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The flight of a new Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 booster will seek to loft a large telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. At 7,060kg, this is the second heaviest satellite SpaceX has flown; the heaviest is the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite in July. It weighed 15kg more.
SpaceX will seek to recover the booster, which may prove a challenge given the tropical activity raging across the Atlantic basin. Due to the heavy payload, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will land far out to sea, 660km downrange from the Florida spaceport. There, the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship will be waiting.

Provided the rocket launches on Sunday night, the growing storm Florence—which is likely to be a Category 2 or 3 hurricane by that time—should still be more than 1,000km away. However, another low-pressure system is relatively close by, and choppy wave conditions may make landing more challenging than normal. A delay of one or two days would likely only worsen conditions in the area as Florence gets closer

(22) CAMPBELL. Alis Franklin’s “Everything wrong with science fiction is John W. Campbell’s fault” takes stock of the late editor’s racism and other shortcomings. On the other hand, his immortal novella “Who Goes There?” did inspire this bizarre video:

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

57 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/9/18 I Can’t Get No Pixel Action When I’m Reading Pixel Scroll

  1. 6) Seems like a silly premise to me. There can be and generally ARE more than one excellent tv show in existence at one time. All of the shows mentioned were great and successful shows in their own right, several of them arguably better than GoT.

  2. (7) I am so glad Berman had the good sense not to inflict an “it was all a dream” series ending on us.

    (19) I’m glad to learn reports of Kepler’s death have been greatly exaggerated, or at least somewhat premature, and I salute its hardy determination and dedication to its mission.

  3. (2) reminds me that this morning, on my way home from a medical appointment (equipment problems: everyone was rescheduled from Thursday and Friday to Saturday and Sunday) I saw a guy with a Vader helmet tee-shirt that was done in the style of a Day of the Dead mask, but linework only.

    (Here in 3621, we don’t have equipment problems: the equipment has human problems.)

  4. (9) I found this really interesting:

    When she and her friend, writer Lindsey Beer, learned they were both the final candidates up for the Dungeons & Dragons (2021) job, they proposed teaming up to write the screenplay. “One of us was going to get the job,” she says. “We actually called each other up and we were just like, ‘What if we just wrote it together? What if we said to the studio: Let us collaborate. You’ll get something even better than if just one of us wrote it.’ “

    This is just one of the differences having more women behind the scenes makes. I would bet you many male screenwriters’ egos would not let them do that.

  5. 22) I’m taking “11-14 hours” in the “how soon will the usual people show up with the usual excuses” pool.

  6. Bonnie McDaniel on September 9, 2018 at 7:32 pm said:

    This is just one of the differences having more women behind the scenes makes. I would bet you many male screenwriters’ egos would not let them do that.

    That’s an extreme sweeping generalization, about men and women.

  7. @Darren

    Which is why I said “many” and “more,” not “all.”

    I mean, if you want to chew me out about supposed generalizations, have at it. That one point just struck me, and I remarked on it.

  8. (22) PINGU VIDEO.

    I am not a horror fan at all, but that Pingu video is absolutely perfect — with the tweetquote at the end the cherry on top.

  9. 21: First stage landed fine, fingers crossed for the three days or so it will take to get back to shore.

  10. 22) One of those things you’ve seen years ago, and figure everyone else has too.

    Still love it though.

  11. The episode of Eerie Indiana where the protagonist finds himself on the set of a TV show about his life where all his friends and family are actors was mindblowing and genuinely unsettling. Moonlighting occasionally breaking the fourth wall was charming and deliciously weird. That DS9 episode where Sisko is a 20th century science fiction writer trying to get a story published about a space station full of different races was a brilliant piece of meta-commentary on utopian dreams and real-life prejudice. THAT ending would have been dreary beyond belief.

  12. (7) intriguing when St Elsewhere did it. Dull when everyone does it
    I am biased. My grandmother was insistent that all vaguely fantastic stories should have a ‘but was it a dream’ ending because otherwise it was Silly. Neither my parents nor I had much sympathy.

  13. @Christian thanks for the link. Anyone know if Real Humans exists on any UK streaming services?

  14. @Darren Garrison That’s an extreme sweeping generalization, about men and women.

    It’s a description of the structural effects of patriarchy, on men and women.

    16) Another fan of Vast here – it’s a very underrated book. One odd thing about it is that it’s not really a sequel, though it sometimes reads like one. Surprisingly little of what I thought was backstory gets covered in the previous two books it references, so there’s no need to read them first. (And the ending is less open than it appears once you understand the themes of evolution, symbiosis, and the possibility of change.)

  15. (7) Newhart‘s ending had genuine wit and humor, and hadn’t been done to death yet. And Dr. Bob Hartley having a slightly weird dream about running an inn in Vermont had a certain pleasing plausibility about it, especially given that much of what happened in that inn in Vermont often seemed to have dream-logic. (“I’m Larry, and this is my brother, Darryl, and .my other brother Darryl.”) It didn’t feel like a betrayal of the whole premise of the show to have the “it was all a dream Dr. Bob Hartley had” ending.

    People were, on the other hand, mostly pissed off with the “it was all a dream” ending of the 1985-86 season ending of Dallas.

    The fact that a certain kind of twist ending works well in some cases doesn’t mean it’s your great, go-to idea for all series or season endings.

    Also, note that several “it was a dream” endings are for individual episodes, and Newhart is the only one I can think of where it’s for the whole series.

  16. @NickPheas My grandmother was insistent that all vaguely fantastic stories should have a ‘but was it a dream’ ending because otherwise it was Silly.

    The (older?) (gothic?) trope of “before we get to the good stuff, here’s two entire chapters of context so we all understand it was a dream” is at least as annoying, too. Does anyone not skip the opening of “The Worm Ouroboros”?

  17. @Anthony,

    that would appear to be “Humans”, the Channel 4 adaptation, rather than “Real Humans”, the Swedish original.

    I haven’t found the Swedish “Äkta Människor” on any streaming services, but they seem to be available on DVD or Blu-Ray in some countries. Better check for language / subtitle availability, though.

  18. @Sophie Jane

    The (older?) (gothic?) trope of “before we get to the good stuff, here’s two entire chapters of context so we all understand it was a dream” is at least as annoying, too.

    Yeah, it goes way back before gothic literature too. A lot of pre-modern “fantastic” literature has some sort of motif that ties it to the here-and-now. (Well, ok, the there-and-then.) At one time I was noodling around with the idea that it was a necessary development stage. I.e., that there was some common understanding that a story had to be plausible true in order to tell it, therefore you had to have an in-story device that explained how the teller received the tale to be able to convey it to the listener. (Think about the mechanisms in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ planetary stories that explain how the narrator traveled between worlds to be able to bring the story back.)

    So, for example, medieval literature could have the “traveler’s tale” motif, where the fantastic events really happened, just somewhere else. Or the “dream tale” where the POV character is explicitly described as experiencing the story in a dream. You get the “lost diary” motif where the text your reading somehow made it back to here/now even if the POV character didn’t.

    But some of my initial thoughts about this being an interim stage in a teleological development of fantastic fiction were given an appropriate comeuppance in the postscript to Cavendish’s The Blazing World in which, although the story starts out with a fairly typical Hollow Earth/Traveler’s Tale framing story, it ends with Cavendish telling her readers how much fun it is to invent worlds just for the fun of invention and they should try it too!

    But I still think there’s an interesting typology that can be worked out for fantastic fiction that revolves around if and how the events are connected to the here/now, especially with regard to the motif of transmission paths and the fictive narrator.

  19. @Heather Rose Jones — Burroughs is especially interesting because he had multiple, overlapping mechanisms (the first few Barsoom books were left in manuscript by John Carter for Burroughs to find, and at least one book had John Carter physically teleporting himself from Barsoom back to Earth to have a nice cuppa while telling his nephew a story (and the idea of John Carter coming back fully embodied raises ALL SORTS of questions; I think in some of the early Pellucidar books, the story was conveyed via a telegraph station sticking out of the middle of the Sahara Desert; and later there was the Gridley Wave, which I believe was invented to allow people on Earth to keep in contact with Carson Napier as he flew to Venus, but which was also later used to receive messages from Mars and maybe even Pellucidar as well? Or am I inverting Venus & Pellucidar there?). Tarzan was the only major Burroughs series that didn’t standardly include some kind of framing device, although even there the first book begins, “I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.”

    And now I’m reminded that it’s been several years since last I reread the John Carter books …

  20. 7) I deeply disliked the ending they did have, for Sisko anyway, so I don’t know if the dream would have been any worse.
    Currently re-watching Enterprise and finding its a lot better than I remember it being. What’s the reverse of the suck fairy?

  21. Nigel, there was also an episode of Hercules where Hercules’s friends all turn out to be actors who think he’s somebody named Kevin Sorbo. I don’t remember the details now, but found it amusing then. I don’t recall how they explained it, but I’ll bet somebody here does!

    Still not getting notifications, except of new posts. For some reason, I never can find the page where I always fix that issue. Each time I manage to find it, and I save it in a totes obv place. You know the rest.

    She said; You, got. to-scroll?them!up: She showd? me” how, to scroll! them; up, and now! I can. scroll (up all? kinds of pixels— on, my. blog!

  22. @Heather Rose Jones I still think there’s an interesting typology that can be worked out for fantastic fiction that revolves around if and how the events are connected to the here/now, especially with regard to the motif of transmission paths and the fictive narrator.

    I very much agree, though the more I think about it the bigger and more convoluted a project it sounds. (It’s tempting to bring in James Branch Cabell, too, but he’s more outright metafiction.)

  23. that would appear to be “Humans”

    Ah, sorry, misread the request.

    I’ve got a copy lurking somewhere but I forget where it came from. I think the Swedish series was transmitted in the UK via Australia where it had been subtitled.

  24. @Kip W: I remember that episode! The whole thing was about the production team (playing themselves) panicking because Kevin Sorbo had vanished, and it turned out he was Hercules pretending to be Kevin Sorbo playing Hercules in order to keep the memory of the ancient gods alive. And Ares (who was, of course, playing himself as well) was messing with him that week by causing a whole bunch of natural disasters and things to screw with the shooting schedule.

    Very fun episode meant to cover for a scheduling conflict with Kevin Sorbo, and absolutely worth watching if for no other reason than the pitch Ted Raimi makes for a spin-off, “Chimpules: The Legendary Monkey”.

  25. @6: ominous note in the description of Good Omeans: And again, the cast is stacked—Frances McDormand even plays God. With luck the reviewer will have confused God and his Voice. Also, I’m struck by the reference to McDonald’s Luna as a “planned duology”; ISTM that it always looked like three books, maybe more.

    @13: that’s wonderful.

    @17: I’m not surprised; current genre always has the problem of how many new things to throw at its audience, while genre-in-temporal-perspective often looks silly for the things it didn’t imagine (e.g., Heinlein’s massive underestimation (or plot-cheating?) of what computers would be able to do — compare the guild-protected navigational data of Starman Jones with “throw in another tub of random numbers” in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress). I worked for a DTP company (although they thought they were too high-end to be called that) 1987-1994, and remember how “paperless office!” was a continuing mantra that nobody would have believed before desktop systems started becoming common; absent that background, ISTM that paper use reduced the strangeness of the show to comprehensibility for more viewers (and probably reduced the effects budget…). I especially noted the bit about sheet music, as I’ve seen the local music trade school (Berklee) perform student-project silent-movie accompaniments; AFAICT all the musicians are working from tablets, with the conductor’s score visibly scrolling. (This probably eases the handoffs between sections written/conducted by different students, 5-7 of whom contribute sections of the complete score.) I’ve also seen a fellow chorister a few years older than I am use a tablet, at least for some scores; I can see this winning on several grounds, provided the touch screen is better than on the freebie I have.

    wrt the various comments on but-it-was-only-a-dream endings: TNH’s Tor copyediting manual(*) mentions a freelance copyeditor who thought the time-travel scenes in a genre novel were only metaphorical, and so recast them all in the subjunctive.
    (*)(as reproduced in Making Book, with a warning that there are no definitive versions and an apology for this to bibliographers)

  26. (22) My take? Modern SF NEEDED to start somewhere and it started with John W. Campbell, Jr. The thing is, sf literature didn’t STOP and ATROPHY there. Sure, JWC was racist and sexist and we, begrudgingly, owe him some modicrum of thanks. But look how far we have progressed since then. That’s what really matters. Looking back, we should put these works in a historical perspective and constantly harping about how terrible those past works without that is just empty rhetoric.

  27. I find today’s talk of dream endings and similar narrative devices interesting, in that I just/finally finished reading A Once Crowded Sky, by Tom King. (I mentioned starting it a week or so back. Life has interfered, including but not limited to my washing machine deciding to unleash a minor flood. The carpets are dry now, but the machine still needs fixed. Tomorrow…)

    I left a review on Goodreads, but in sum: it’s an ambitious idea that suffers in the telling. I found the story alternately reminiscent of Watchmen and Funeral for a Friend (aka the “everyone mourns Superman at his funeral” story that followed his death back in ’93); this is not a happy tale. At the same time, there’s a solid scoop of fourth-wall breaking, and I don’t mean in the comedically quippy Deadpool way. Saying more about that would be spoilery, except that a couple of places in the book are literally comic book script pages and there are several comic book pages sprinkled throughout.

    Unfortunately, the story got off to a slow start and, like Ralph Hinkley, had a lot of trouble getting off the ground. Quick setup: The planet’s superheroes gave up their powers to stop a disaster, except for one sidekick who wasn’t there, and now it’s six months later and another threat looms. The plot doesn’t go where you expect, meandering into origin stories and flashbacks almost as often as it goes forward, and ultimately the book is more interesting as a commentary on supers tropes than as a story in its own right. Sadly, the commentary isn’t exactly clear…

    I’m making this sound worse than I intend to, though. It just feels a lot like a Volume Two story where Volume One has been lost to time. A lot depends on context, but the reader is thrown into the deep end and left to sink or swim. You do eventually get the full story, but I think the book would have worked better had parts of it been more linear. The structure Stephen King used in It would have been good: a teaser Now, a big flashback chunk Then, a solid dose of Now, and then continue to interweave those as necessary so that all the revelations come together for the big finish. I can appreciate what (Tom) King tried to do here, but it fell flat for me.

    tl;dr – An interesting, weighty story, a lot of potential, but only fair execution. Rather than the meaty adventure I was expecting, I got something more philosophical and somewhat depressing. Going in with proper expectations could have done wonders.

  28. Sophie Jane on September 10, 2018 at 4:24 am said:

    It’s a description of the structural effects of patriarchy, on men and women.

    And that is a steaming pile of bullshit. Saying that “women are willing to work together but men aren’t” is, as I said, a sweeping generalization, and pure prejudice.

  29. NickPheas on September 10, 2018 at 3:47 am said:

    (7) intriguing when St Elsewhere did it. Dull when everyone does it
    I am biased. My grandmother was insistent that all vaguely fantastic stories should have a ‘but was it a dream’ ending because otherwise it was Silly. Neither my parents nor I had much sympathy.

    DS9 should have ended with Sisko waking up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette.

    (Edited to note that I see others made the Newhart reference.)

  30. @ Darren Garrison:

    I did not read that as saying “”H will, Z won’t”, just “Given two random H, chances of them saying ‘cooperate’ is higher than for two random Z saying the same”.

    Now, I am not sure if that’s correct, since it’s inherently “people embedded in culture U” and that probably differs enough from anything I have a sufficiently good instinctive knowledge of.

  31. Ingvar on September 10, 2018 at 9:57 am said:

    @ Darren Garrison:

    I did not read that as saying “”H will, Z won’t”, just “Given two random H, chances of them saying ‘cooperate’ is higher than for two random Z saying the same”.

    I read it (possibly more the Sophie Jane comment than the Bonnie McDaniel one) as “if women take over from all those horrible men in the patriarchy (who are unable to work together), then the world will be all peace and harmony and rainbows and puppy dogs thanks to the sisterhood.”

  32. @ NickPheas: BTVS did a change-up on this trope that turned it into one of the Creepiest Endings Ever. That episode freaked me out for days.

    @ Kip: Not canon, but there are two Trek fanfics which play with that idea. “Visit to a Weird Planet” has the TOS characters ending up on the Desilu lot, while “Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited” has the actors on the Enterprise, having to play their characters in a real-life potential crisis. (Which is a lot like the entire plot of Galaxy Quest!)

    @ Darren: Saying that “women are willing to work together but men aren’t” is, as I said, a sweeping generalization, and pure prejudice.

    Then it’s a good thing nobody but you has said that, isn’t it? Stop putting strawmen into other people’s mouths.

  33. @Darren Garrison I read it (possibly more the Sophie Jane comment than the Bonnie McDaniel one) as “if women take over from all those horrible men in the patriarchy (who are unable to work together), then the world will be all peace and harmony and rainbows and puppy dogs thanks to the sisterhood.”

    Short version: lol, no.

    Longer version: what @Ingvar said, but with more empasis on how people are socialised and what’s expected of them and less on statistics.

    (“Women take over” seems a rather archaic idea of what ending patriarchy would be, to me, though I know it’s still around. I think it’s more useful to talk about getting rid of oppressive gender norms.)

  34. (7) As a story, Cisco-as-Benny-Russell was brilliant. “DS9 as Benny’s dream” would have mostly sucked. It would have eroded the impact of those parts of the show which were not as relevant to Benny’s story, and to some degree lessened the impact of that particular episode. Choosing not to do so was the right thing.

    (22) Yep, Campbell was all those things. He did good, he did bad. He advanced the field and improved the writers he was willing to work with. He was racist, elitist with little reasonable justification, and very much an expression of the America he grew up in. But he was no more the cause of everything bad in SF than he was the cause of everything good. Let’s take them both together, and worry about today rather than about a guy whose relevance was in decline even before his death.

  35. I’d like some subgenre suggestions for a cool short story I just read: “The Sea Maker of Darmid Bay,” by Shauna O’Meara (Interzone;September/October 2018; 7051 words). This story takes place in a secondary world with a technology level similar to ours in that they’ve got industrial pollution, global warming, and sea-level rise. However, the young protagonists find there’s magic as well.

    If I call it “High Fantasy” or “Fantasy Adventure,” then it’ll sound like it has a faux medieval setting. But it’s not really “Future Fantasy,” and if I call it “Modern Fantasy,” it’ll sound like it’s about elves in the modern world. If I just call it “Fantasy,” it won’t convey what’s interesting about it.

    Best I’ve got at the moment is “Modern Secondary World Fantasy,” but I don’t like that very much. Any suggestions?

  36. @ Sophie Jane: To hear the way a lot of guys talk, it appears that “getting rid of oppressive gender norms” and “women taking over” are considered synonymous.

  37. ” I would bet you many male screenwriters’ egos would not let them do that.”

    Terms of the bet? i.e. “Many” and whether screenwriters includes television? ‘Cause I know of enough male/male screenwriting teams in television (and some in movies) to know such are not considered unusual or uncommon. (if you look at writing credits, “&” indicates a writing team rather than one of several people who either wrote in a room together or did different versions of the screenplay. So “Script by John Doe & Richard Roe” indicates a single entity, the team of Doe & Roe, wrote the script. “Script by John Doe & Richard Roe, Jane Foo, and Rhoda Bar” indicates three entities, the individuals Foo and Bar, and the team Doe & Roe, each did enough to get writing credit under the Writer’s Guild (and/or any other relevant ones; I’ve lost track of the various mergers and who’s responsible for what media) writing credit rules.

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