Pixel Scroll 9/9/19 How Odd. It Wasn’t Science Fiction At All

(1) COSPLAY ON THE HOOF. Andrew Liptak’s latest Wordplay starts off with a parade — “Reading List: The Cosplayers of Dragon Con”

…For someone familiar with the world of cosplayers and conventions, it’s an overwhelming affair. For those unfamiliar, it’s an alien world; a new, bizarre mashup of everything pop culture. It’s not quite as big — around 85,000 people attended this year — half that of what the San Diego con typically draws. And while its bigger cousins attract plenty of cosplayers, Dragon Con is a mecca for them. Everywhere you turn, you see your typical superheroes: Spider-man is big this year, as are variations of Marvel’s Tony Stark, depressed Thor from Avengers: Endgame, Valkyrie, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Superman and Superwoman, and of course Batman.

There are plenty of other properties represented in the crowds. Zelda and Link from various Legends of Zelda mingle with Master Chief and his fellow Spartans from the Halo games. Humanized versions of Pokémon march behind characters from Witcher. There are characters from webcomics, Aziraphale and Crowley from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, members of Star Trek’s Starfleet Command, of the Night Watch from Game of Thrones, a long column of Spartans from Frank Miller’s 300, spaceship crew members and soldiers from The Expanse, and members of the 501st and Rebel Legions…

(2) SEE AND HEAR SF HISTORY. Fanac.org has posted a video of Rusty Hevelin interviewing Jack Williamson at MagiCon, the 1992 Worldcon.

MagiCon, the 50th Worldcon, was held in Orlando, Florida in 1992. In this video, Rusty Hevelin interviews author Jack Williamson. Jack talks candidly about his life and career, from his experiences with psychoanalysis to his apprenticeship with (early SF writer) Miles J. Breuer to how he changed with the market over 50 years. WARNING: You have to listen closely as Jack speaks softly, and the interview is very slow till about midway. There’s a lot of “I don’t recall” early on. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with insights into one of the field’s most important early writers.

(3) NOT A DRY SUBJECT. Timothy the Talking Cat inaugurates a new feature at Camestros Felapton: “Timothy Reads: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin”.

…Of course I immediately dropped the book on discovering it had politics in it. I will not abide politics in my science fiction. Science fiction should be apolitical and concern itself with mighty space empires and their impressive armies colonising new worlds and fighting evil aliens who want to destroy our liberties and steal my guns just like Venezuela and don’t get me started on California.

Anyway, not long after Camestros was shouting “Timothy did you put my book in the toilet!” And he was really angry but it wasn’t me and I don’t know how it got there but he still blamed me even though he didn’t see me do it and whatever happened until innocent until proven guilty? I am most unjustly persecuted….

(4) TV ADAPTATION OF ANDERS BOOK. ScienceFiction.com’s report “Sony Is Bringing Charlie Jane Anders’ ‘The City In The Middle Of The Night’ To The Small Screen” might be a little bit of the news that could not yet be revealed in Carl Slaughter’s recent interview with the author:

Fans of Charlie Jane Anders’ work have something to look forward to as she has struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television to bring ‘The City In The Middle Of The Night’ to the small screen! Sharon Hall (‘The Expanse‘,’Utopia’) is serving as an executive producer and is helping bring the series to life through her Mom de Guerre Productions. Hall’s company has a first-look deal with Sony, and it appears the studios agree that this one is going to be a hit! Nate Miller and Dan Halsted are also slated to be executive producers through Manage-ment who reps Anders.

(5) CREAM OF CONDENSED PANEL. For those who couldn’t make it to her Dublin 2019 panel, Sara L. Uckelman shared the gist of it on the Worldcon’s Facebook page:

Here’s a link to the slides from my talk (the first one in the academic track!) on “Names: Form and Function in Worldbuilding and Conlangs”

And for more background and detail that I didn’t have time to get to in the talk, see these three blog posts:

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 9, 1900 James Hilton. Author of the novel Lost Horizon which was  turned into a film, also called Lost Horizon by director Frank Capra. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La. (Died 1954.)
  • Born September 9, 1915 Richard Webb. Captain Midnight on the Captain Midnight series in the Fifties on CBS. Called Jet Jackson, Flying Commando when it was syndicated. He play Lieutenant Commander Ben Finney in “Court Martial” of Star Trek. And in the Fifties, he was Lane Carson, the lead investigator in The Invisible Monster. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 9, 1922 Pauline Baynes. She was the first illustrator of some of J. R. R. Tolkien’s lesser known works such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major and of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. With the help of cartographers from the Bordon military camp in Hampshire, Baynes created a map that Allen & Unwin published as a poster in 1970. Tolkien was generally pleased with it, though he didn’t particularly like her creatures especially her spider. (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 9, 1929 Joseph Wrzos, 90. He edited Amazing Stories and Fantastic under the name Joseph Ross from August 1965 through early 1967. He was responsible for their move to mostly reprints and a bimonthly schedule while the publisher refused to pay authors for the reprints saying he held the rights to them without needing pay additional renumeration and leading to severe conflict with SFWA. With Hannes Bok, he edited in 2012, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration.
  • Born September 9, 1943 Tom Shippey, 76. Largely known as a Tolkien expert, though I see he wrote a scholarly 21-page introduction to Flights of Eagles, a collection of James Blish work, and under the pseudonym of John Holm, he is also the co-author, with Harry Harrison, of The Hammer and the Cross trilogy of alternate history novels. And early on, he did a lot of SF related non-fiction tomes such as Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative (edited with George Slusser). 
  • Born September 9, 1949 Jason Van Hollander, 69. A book designer, illustrator, and occasional author. His stories and collaborations with Darrell Schweitzer earned a World Fantasy Award nomination. It was in the Collection category, for Necromancies and Netherworlds: Uncanny Stories. I’m fairly sure he’s done a lot of work for Cemetery Dance which make sense as he’d fit their house style.
  • Born September 9, 1952 Angela Cartwright, 67. Fondly remembered as Penny Robinson on the original Lost in Space. She, like several of her fellow cast members, made an appearance in the Lost in Space film. She appeared in the Logan’s Run series in “The Collectors” episode as Karen, and in Airwolf as Mrs. Cranovich in the “Eruption” episode. 
  • Born September 9, 1952 Tony Magistrale, 67. There’s a particular type of academic mania you sometimes encounter when a professor dives deep into a genre writer. Here we have such when one encounters Stephen King. Between 1988 and 2011, he wrote ten tomes on King and his work ranging from Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic to The Films of Stephen King: From Carrie to The Mist with I think my favorite being The Dark Descent: Essays Defining Stephen King’s Horrorscape. He’s a poet too with such scintillating titles as “Ode for a Dead Werewolf” and “To Edgar Poe on Father’s Day”.
  • Born September 9, 1954 Jeffrey Combs, 65. Though no doubt his best known genre role was as Weyoun, a Vorta, on Deep Space Nine. However, his genre portfolio is really, really long. it starts with Frightmare, a horror film in the early Eighties and encompasses some forty films, twenty-six series and ten genre games. He’s appeared on Babylon 5, plus three Trek series, Voyager and Enterprise being the other two, the Enterprise appearance being the only time an actor played two distinct roles in the same episode.  He’s played H.P. Lovecraft and Herbert West, a character by that author. Each multiple times. 
  • Born September 9, 1955 Janet Fielding,  64. Tegan Jovanka, companion to the Fifth Doctor. The actress had a rather short performing career starting with the Hammer House of Horror series in 1980 where she was Secretary Mandy on the “Charlie Boy” episode” before landing the the Doctor Who gig through 1984 before her career ending in the early Nineties. She was part of the 2013 50th Anniversary The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born September 9, 1960 Hugh Grant, 59. He appeared in The Lair of the White Worm as Lord James D’Ampton and in the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E as Mr. Waverly. And he was the Handsome Doctor in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, the 1999 Doctor Who special made for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. 
  • Born September 9, 1971 Henry Thomas, 48. Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Let’s just say that he’s had a busy if mostly undistinguished post-E.T. acting career, though I will single him out for his rather good work in Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King and The Haunting of Hill House series. He’s playing Doctor Mid-Nite in the forthcoming Stargirl series on the DCU streaming service. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) PINEWOOD’S NEW TENANT. BBC ponders “What does Disney’s Pinewood deal mean for Marvel, Bond and British film?”

Disney is to make more blockbusters at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire after signing a deal to take over most of the complex for at least a decade.

The film and TV giant behind the Star Wars, Marvel and Avatar movies will lease 20 stages plus other facilities.

Pinewood is famously the home of James Bond, not a Disney franchise – throwing 007’s future at the site into question.

The deal comes two months after Netflix announced it had taken a long-term lease at Pinewood’s Shepperton Studios.

…From next year, it will have near-exclusive use of the UK’s most famous studio complex. In fact, it will have the whole site except three TV studios and an underwater stage.

Disney hasn’t commented on the deal. But with studio space at a premium, this gives them the security of a long-term dedicated UK base capable of handling their biggest films.

…Which films will be made there?

Disney won’t confirm, but it will continue to be the home of Star Wars movies, three of which are scheduled for the next seven years.

The company is planning four Avatar sequels, a fifth Indiana Jones film and numerous other live action flicks. Many of those can be expected to come to Pinewood….

(9) A FORMER JAMES SAYS HE’S READY FOR JANE BOND. “Next 007 should be a woman says Bond star Pierce Brosnan” – BBC has the story.

The Goldeneye actor, who played the role in four films, told the Hollywood Reporter he believes it would be “exhilarating” and “exciting” to see a female Bond.

“I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last 40 years,” said the 66-year-old.

“Get out of the way guys and put a woman up there!” he added.

…There have been reports British actress Lashana Lynch will take over Bond’s famous codename after his character leaves MI6 in the new film, but she will not be the next Bond.

(10) SHRINKAGE. “Book Expo attendance is now smaller than some Worldcons,” says Andrew Porter. “I remember when it had 45,000 attendees.” Publishers Weekly reports, “Amid Changes, BookExpo Limits Exhibit Hours to Two Days”.

After experimenting with different time frames for BookExpo, Reed Exhibitions has decided to return to an event that features two days of exhibits preceded by a full day of educational programming.

In a letter sent to industry members, event manager Jenny Martin said that, after analyzing customer feedback, the consensus was that the three-day 2019 show proved “challenging and costly” for many. As a result, BookExpo 2020 will open Wednesday, May 27, with a day dedicated exclusively to educational programming. That day will be followed by two days of exhibits. BookCon will be held immediately after BookExpo, running May 30-31. Exhibitors will once again have the option of exhibiting at both shows, or at just one.

 (11) IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At Worldcon in Dublin at the Memphis 2023 bid party of all things, I not only ran into the assembled German SMOFdom, but also into Alex Weidemann, a reporter of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s most prestigious newspapers. Though the FAZ is a quality newspaper they are surprisingly genre friendly. Alex Weidemann’s article about WorldCon is now online, though most of it is sadly behind a paywall: “Sie kommen in Frieden”.

(12) WITH MALLARDS TOWARDS 87,000+ The Outline profiles “A Good Place: The fake town where everybody knows your name”.

…Strange, new places do take some getting used to and it might take you a few minutes to get the hang of subreddit r/HaveWeMet’s premise, where users roleplay as longtime neighbors in a non-existent town called “Lower Duck Pond.” The joke’s attracted over 87,000 users since the community started two years ago, making it the fastest-growing open-source fictional town on Earth. While the residents, streets, and buildings are fake, the absurdity, purity, and sense of community for its daily users has become very real.

Reddit user u/Devuluh, who’s really a sophomore computer science major named David (he declined to share his last name), started r/HaveWeMet in early 2017 when he was still in high school. The idea was to create an online space where everyone pretends to know each other….

(13) HIGH & TIGHT OR LOW & AWAY? Tagline: “Get yourself a heat shield, and throw the parcel really hard—backward.” An excerpt from Randall Munroe’s latest book, How To, appeared online at WIRED. Before you click, note that there’s a partial paywall, limiting you to just a few free Wired articles each month. 

Based on the 2001–2018 average, 1 out of every 1.5 billion humans is in space at any given time, most of them on board the International Space Station.

ISS crew members ferry packages down from the station by putting them in the spacecraft carrying crew back to Earth. But if there’s no planned departure for Earth any time soon—or if NASA gets sick of delivering your internet shopping returns—you might have to take matters into your own hands.

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

93 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/9/19 How Odd. It Wasn’t Science Fiction At All

  1. “Based on the 2001–2018 average, 1 out of every 1.5 billion humans is in space at any given time, most of them on board the International Space Station.”

    So you’re saying there’s a chance.

  2. CAsey’s on First, Andrew’s on Second…I’m on Third Scroll.

    2) ohh, will have to give that a watch

  3. (6) Janet Fielding went into personal representation, and was Paul McGann’s agent when he signed on for the 1996 Doctor Who tv movie. He was unaware of her previous link to the show until she visited the set in Vancouver.

  4. Jack Williamson was pretty amazing. He was the second person named a Grandmaster by SFWA–after Heinlein, but before Asimov and Clarke. He published his first story in 1928, and his last in 2005! That’s a 72 year career! And as for keeping up with the field? Well, his 2000 story, “The Ultimate Earth”, won both the Hugo and the Nebula, making him the oldest person to win either of those awards.

    I read his penultimate novel, Terraforming Earth (2002), and it was…well, it was a little pulpy around the edges, but nowhere near as much as I feared. He obviously hadn’t given up on the idea of growing as a writer, despite being in his nineties. Gotta respect that.

  5. Happy Book Birthday to SO MANY exciting books today!

    The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow
    Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
    Song for a New Day, by Sarah Pinsker

  6. So lets talk about the End of the scroll, shall we?

    The Book from Munroe is good, it reminds me a lot of What If, except of answering a hypothecial question in detail he takes a topic and then see where he runs with it, Sometimes its about different ways of doing things, sometimes it [i]is[/i] a hypothetical question (like building a lava moat) and sometimes he uses the topics of putting a lot of fun facts around it. Quick read, quite funny (if you like dry humour) and you learn stuff. Much better than Thing explainer imho. Plus Chris Hadfield answeres questions about emergency operations, like if you are captured by a Roc or trapped in a falling house.

  7. Happily, Gideon the Ninth appeared on my Kindle overnight, so I know what I’ll be reading this evening (after I finish the Kate Elliott Magic: The Gathering novella).

  8. o/~ (loosely based on “Our House”, Madness, 1982

    Hadfield wears his NASA best
    Pavel’s tired, he needs his rest
    The rest are playing up, elsewhere
    Water’s floating in the air (ah)
    Everyone’s afloat just now, the must all hang around

    Fall house, on the edge of our space.
    Fall house, on the edge of our

    Our house, it’s I S S
    There’s always something happening
    And it’s usually quite fast
    Our cap is so house-proud
    Nothing ever slow s us down and a mess is not allowed

    Our house, on the edge of our space.
    Our house, on the edge of our
    Our house, on the edge of our space.

  9. I just finished This Is How You Lose The Time War.

    Oooooooooo. I’m not generally fond of time travel, but very nicely done. I could just feel how much fun the authors had in writing it!

    In audio: two narrators, one of whom is the excellent Emily Woo Zeller. I’m not familiar with the other one, but she did a mostly fine job, aside from a few gaffes like pronouncing “causality” and “causal” as “casuality” and “casual”.

  10. I just finished This Is How You Lose The Time War.

    @Contrarius what’s the condition of your socks? Have the left your feet? Have they taken up with my faithless socks? Are Kyra’s socks with them? TELL ME.

  11. Also Happy Book Birthday to:

    Harryhausen: The Lost Movies

    (as you’d expect from the title, it’s a nonfiction book about films that Ray Harryhausen never got a chance to make. Wasn’t the podcast linked in a recent Scroll?)

  12. @Iphinome: have you checked the washing machine for your errant socks? That’s the traditional location….

  13. The cause of the missing socks being what it is, though, we’ll find one sock unravelled in a previously undiscovered Pharaonic tomb, with the threads arranged to spell out mysterious characters in an alphabet to be developed in a hidden Venusian civilization of the fourth millennium, while the other sock will be discovered among relics of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

  14. @Iphinome —

    @Contrarius what’s the condition of your socks?

    Heh. I avoided that issue — I wasn’t wearing any!

    But seriously — at times I thought the authors were having a little TOO much fun, and allowing the writing to get in the way of the story. But that’s a minor quibble. It isn’t supposed to be realistic — it’s supposed to be atmospheric and evocative and romantic, and it succeeds admirably in all three of those.

    Definitely going on my Hugo longlist.

  15. @Andrew

    Rot13 before reading

    Naqerq,

    Vg vf n fgenatr jnl gb pbzzhavpngr, fbpxf. Fbzr zvtug fnl gur jbefg–be gur jbefgrq. Sbetvir zr, V fubhyqa’g wrfg jvgu lbh abg abj. Jura bar pbafvqref gur fgbpxvat, fb zhpu yvxr hf gur jbeqf jevggra vagb lnea fb zhpu n ivar naq ybbcf fb yvxr gur oenvq gjvfgrq vagb n cyrnfvat sbez sbe whfg gur evtug sbbg–Fbeel, abg fbeel.

    V vzntvar lbh jrnevat guvf bar oyhr fbpx, qb lbh qenj vg bagb lbhe yrt jvgu n fvatyr guehfg sbe gur fjvsg naq fher tengvsvpngvba gung znexf lbhe jbexf be qb lbh grnfr vg bire lbhe gbrf naq gura rnfr gur fgbpxvat hc rire uvture, fnibevat gur fybj fher pnerff bs gur zngrevny. Va rvgure pnfr, V vzntvar gur fbpx fdhrrmvat lbh yvxr n ybire, fdhrrmvat lbh yvxr qrngu.

    Be qb lbhe xvaq rira unir srrg? Va lbhe angheny haangheny fgngr, bs pbhefr, abg gur sbez lbh jrne abj, qb lbhe xvaq fgvyy svaq jbaqre va pnershy xavggvat be ner lbhe pbirevatf nyy bs fbzr svyz rkgehqrq va n fzbxr-orypuvat snpgbel.

    Orfg,

    Vcuvabzr

    CF. Gubhtu jr’ir ab arrq bs gurz va Tneqra, crefbanyyl, V rawbl fgbpxvatf naq fbpxf va gurve terng zlevnq bs sbezf. Vs lbh’er vagrerfgrq va gubfr sbezf, va fgenaq 451 P20, gurer jnf n jevgre anzrq Orireyl Pyrneyl jub unq zhpu gb fnl ba gur fhowrpg.

  16. @Iphinome

    Masterfully done! Bravo! (Brava? Bravx?)

    And also to Ingvar; now I want to filk Graham Nash’s Our House but alas, no time….

  17. @Contrarius, et al:
    I just read This Is How You Lose The Time War over the weekend!

    I enjoyed it, but also came out with very mixed feelings. I loved the concept, the writing, the feel, the tone — every page sucks you in and dances around you, laughing. OTOH, I kept feeling bits were missing — just basic groundwork of what’s going on, what the context is. Like, I never get any sense that I know how Red or Blue feel about the Time War or about their own sides before they start writing, and that feels like… something the story kind of needs?

    The worst for me was, I just didn’t feel like I could tell Red and Blue apart. They just felt the same. Which is… kind of the whole point? That they’re more like each other than their own sides? But it makes for a weird romance, between two characters who are hardly distinguishable from one another.

    So I came out with, basically, dual feelings — like, if I look at the story from this angle it’s kind of shoddily constructed, but if I look from that angle it’s fantastic and pitch-perfect. Based mostly on what you focus on as you read, I guess.

  18. When Kyra saw the brilliantly cerulean socks in orbit around Titan, the surface cipher they contained was immediately obvious — the length of each thread signifying a letter, each letter offset from the true one by half the length of the ancient alphabet in which the message had been written. Kyra smirked at the puns.

    It took an hour of staring before the cipher within the cipher made itself evident, the subtle code conveyed by the faint odor of the former wearer’s toe sweat, each individual molecule of scent redolent with its own meaning. Not cryptography at all, but steganography, a message concealed behind another message — or stockingography, perhaps. A letter written in invisible stink.

  19. It didn’t quite knock my socks off, but I read a nice short story that’s a little difficult to assign a subgenre to, so I thought I’d ask for suggestions, since people have been very kind about that in the past.

    This is a fantasy story, with part of the action set in the distant past (the ice age) and part set in a climate-ravaged, war-torn future. There’s a magic flute common to both eras, so it’s definitely fantasy. Were they two separate stories, I’d call the first “Prehistoric fantasy” and the second “future fantasy” or maybe “fantasy dystopia,” but when they’re both in the same story, I’m stumped. For now, I just put plain “Fantasy,” but I hate to do that. Does anyone have better ideas? I toyed with “Trans-Historical Fantasy” but decided that left the wrong impression.

  20. There’s a magic flute common to both eras, so it’s definitely fantasy

    I’d say this is in the relatively unpopulated genre of “Pufnstuf-topia”

  21. @Standback —

    OTOH, I kept feeling bits were missing — just basic groundwork of what’s going on, what the context is. Like, I never get any sense that I know how Red or Blue feel about the Time War or about their own sides before they start writing, and that feels like… something the story kind of needs?

    I don’t think that sort of context really mattered here. We were supposed to be interested in the relationship, not the world in general. The whole thing was a sort of apotheosis of the concept of “timeless love”, “love beyond time”, “love everlasting” — however you want to word that old schtick. Gur hygvzngr Ebzrb-naq-Whyvrg fgnepebffrq ybiref — zrzoref bs jneevat ubhfrf, zrrgvat ng 13 (jnf Whyvrg 13 be 14? V qba’g erzrzore!), naq vapyhqvat rira gur cbvfbavat, ohg jurer vg QBRFA’G ghea bhg gb or n gentrql.

  22. @Andrew
    Grin. This is a Brooke Bolander story, so don’t expect something sweet. 🙂 A girl kills her pet bird in order to make a flute from one of its bones. “There’s no magic worth speaking about that’s not a little bloodthirsty.” That flute essentially introduces music to the world. (Back in the ice age.) But in a later age–in our future–it has another role to play. However, no one ever calls it “Freddie.”

    Let me see. No, “Musical Fantasy” would definitely leave the wrong impression.

  23. Cool Land Flute Fic?

    FWIW (with all due respect to Jack Vance) can fantasies be set “in the future”? (As opposed to, “seems like fantasy, e.g., Gene Wolf’s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN…)

  24. I’d argue that something like the original Shadowrun setting (back before the timeline got overtaken by reality) definitely counts “fantasy, in the future”. Or, say, Trail of Lightning. The stories are set in our future but they clearly have magic, and not the “sufficiently advanced technology” kind.

    I’m notably more comfortable saying that because these are near-future stories; the farther into the future you go, I think it’s harder it is to say that whatever effect is not being caused by sufficiently advanced technology.

    Martin

  25. @Daniel Dern

    FWIW (with all due respect to Jack Vance) can fantasies be set “in the future”? (As opposed to, “seems like fantasy, e.g., Gene Wolf’s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN…)

    Yeah, I label things “future fantasy” fairly often. Anything in Yoon Ha Lee’s Hexarchate universe, for example, but also things that amount to near-future urban fantasy.

  26. @Goobergunch

    the farther into the future you go, I think it’s harder it is to say that whatever effect is not being caused by sufficiently advanced technology.

    It depends. If they simply don’t explain how something works, then, yeah, it’s probably best to assume technology that just looks like magic. But, if we’re told it works because people pray to a god and/or sacrifice people, then I think it’s safe to call it fantasy.

  27. Fantasies can absolutely be set in the future! Why wouldn’t they be?

    Just as an obvious case, Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness (1969) features battles between Egyptian Gods in the far future, after mankind has spread across the galaxy. Spaceships vs. magic. It’s not even that rare a thing. It’s particularly common in Japan, but reasonably common elsewhere.

    (I mean, if you want to get technical, you could argue that they’re set in a future, not the, since the future is about as likely to have magic as the present. But that seems like a silly quibble.)

  28. @Greg —

    But, if we’re told it works because people pray to a god and/or sacrifice people, then I think it’s safe to call it fantasy.

    Context, context!

    If I say forcing people to watch a group of humans die by horrible torture “works” to unite those observers in some common goal, that’s not fantasy — that’s psychology. You just want to call the story you’re referring to fantasy because it is advanced so far outside your realm of understanding that it LOOKS like magic. Which brings us back to that pesky Third Law.

  29. I like “time lapse” for stories where there’s a sequence of scenes moving steadily forward in time. But, in this case, there are just two times (~15,000 BC and maybe 2100 AD) and it alternates between them. In the ice-age timeframe, we meet Whistlecage as a child and watch her grow up and get old (over the course of several scenes). In 2100, we meet “future girl” and watch her investigate a half-flooded building over the period of an hour or two (also over several scenes).

    Usually when a story is split like this, nearly all is in one time and place. (Usually via a framing story that’s set much later in time.) This one, though, is about 70% ice-age and 30% future.

  30. @Contrarius

    You just want to call the story you’re referring to fantasy because it is advanced so far outside your realm of understanding that it LOOKS like magic.

    You mean like Donald Trump using a black sharpie to change the weather? 🙂

    Nah, that’s “Fantasy Dystopia” or “Dark Fantasy” if it’s medieval-level tech. (A black quill pen.)

  31. @Greg —

    You mean like Donald Trump using a black sharpie to change the weather? ?

    Um, what?

  32. The problem with bringing Clarke’s Third into a discussion like this is that you’re opening the door for someone to come along and claim that Tolkien was actually writing science fiction. Which, yes, is a position I can defend for hours if necessary. 😀

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