Pixel Scroll 10/19 Asterix and the Missing Scroll

(1) The stars came out for White House Astronomy Night.

(2) New interview with Liu Cixin conducted by Yang Yang for China Daily.

When, in a telephone interview, China Daily reminds him of that comment, he replies: “It’s not a joke. Aliens may arrive at any time. When it happens, everything, social and economic reform, educational problems, international conflicts or poverty, will become much less important, compared with the alien crisis.”

Big countries such as China and international organizations such as the United Nations need to be ready for such an eventuality, he says.

“It does not necessarily involve a lot of money and human resources. But we should prepare, in the fields of politics, military, society and so on. The government should organize some people to do related research and preparations for the long term.”

Unfortunately, he says, “no country seems to have done this kind of thing”.

In the postscript for the English version of The Three-Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu, Liu Cixin says: “I’ve always felt that extraterrestrial intelligence will be the greatest source of uncertainty for humanity’s future. Other great shifts, such as and ecological disasters, have a certain progression and built-in adjustment periods, but contact between mankind and aliens can occur at any time. Perhaps in 10,000 years the starry sky that mankind gazes upon will remain empty and silent, but perhaps tomorrow we’ll wake up and find an alien spaceship the size of the Moon parked in orbit. … The appearance of this Other, or mere knowledge of its existence, will impact our civilization in unpredictable ways.”

(3) Bob Byrne’s “The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Tying in the BBC Sherlock Special” at Black Gate has a lot of good information.

Back in July, what seems to be the most popular ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ post appeared here at Black Gate. I looked at what I think went wrong with season three of the BBC’s Sherlock. I included the just-released ninety-second, ‘first look’ video for the upcoming Special, to be aired around Christmas. And I pointed out it seemed to be full of the “Look how clever we are” bits that I lamented in my post.

Now, just about everyone, including myself, loves that the Special is set in Victorian times; unlike the episodes in the first three seasons. Cumberbatch and Freeman would be given their first (and quite likely, only) opportunities to play Holmes and Watson in the Doyle mold. I view it as a chance for the show to get back on track and reclaim the multitude of fans it lost during season three.

(4) Brad Torgersen, in a comment on Kevin Trainor’s blog, now says:

I had multiple conduits for suggestions, and the comments section was just one conduit.

But he doesn’t identify what those sources for the majority of slated Sad Puppy 3 fiction were.

(5) Francis W. Porreto does not approve – “Really Quickies: From The Garbage Heap” at Bastion of Liberty.

If you’d like a gander at “how the other side emotes,” take a look at this post at this hard-to-describe site, particularly the comments that follow commenter “alauda’s” citation of this bit of dark foreboding. These past two days a fair amount of traffic has come here from there.

Note the complete lack of rational analysis. Note the immediate and unconditional willingness to condemn me, as if the scenario I wrote about were something I actually want to happen.

(6) Alyssa Rosenberg, while commenting on “The downside of cultural fragmentation” in the Washington Post, touches on a familiar topic —

Debates over what kinds of books, movies, television shows, comics and video games get awards are often a proxy way of debating what our cultural values ought to be. The alternative slates that attempted to wrest control of Hugo nominations were based on the idea that awards voters had over-prioritized identity politics over the quality of writing and plotting; GamerGate erroneously asserts that there’s a movement afoot to ban or stop the production of video games with certain themes or images. While I don’t agree with the premises of either of those two cultural movements, I do think left cultural criticism has sometimes asserted political litmus tests for art in recent years, and that elements of the right, spurred by the sometime success of this approach, have fallen into the same patterns (for a good example, see the suggestions that the action movie “Mad Max: Fury Road” was anti-male).

(7) After Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories picked apart the Trek-related fanhistory in Kevin Trainor’s post on Wombat Rampant, Dystopic followed with his own critique of what Davidson had to say about Trainor on Declination.

As my readers probably know already, I consider myself somewhere on the Puppy spectrum of the Science Fiction community. There’s quite a bit of difference between the Sad Puppies, who one might call the reformists, and the Rabid Puppies who are mostly of the opinion that Worldcon and the Hugos should be burnt to the ground and set on fire by their own Left-wing, Social Justice proponents.

Either way, though, both camps agree that the existing community is hopelessly corrupt, cliquish, and prone to a particular animus against Conservatives and Libertarians. This prejudice is such that their works are repeatedly voted down from awards, publishers like Tor Books are run by individuals openly hostile to alternate political affiliations, and backroom deals are made to secure nominations for authors based on political backgrounds and special interests.

Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories confirms this for us in a ridiculous post, so loaded up with Strawmen that he might as well be the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Let’s allow him to hang himself with his own rope, shall we?

(8) Workaholics actor Blake Anderson appears in the Halloween episode of The Simpsons:

“Well, you know, we kind of feel a little disrespected by Homer and we show up at his doorstep basically looking for revenge,” Anderson explains. “So it turns into a full onPanic Room situation, where he’s kind of stuck in the attic and looking for him. We’re out for blood for sure.”

In the vein of the Treehouse episodes, Anderson says this one is not necessarily “piss your pants” scary, but, he assures, “me and Nick Kroll definitely brought our creepy to the table for sure.”

 

(9) Is this a clue to the future of Game of Thrones?

(10) Today’s Birthday Boys

  • October 19, 1903 — Tor Johnson is born Karl Oscar Tore Johansson in Sweden. Especially known for his appearance in Plan 9 From Outer Space, although he had credits in all kinds of things, from the movie musical Carousel to Walter Cronkite’s You Are There nonfiction TV show.
  • October 19, 1945 — John Lithgow is born. Acted in Twilight Zone, Third Rock from the Sun, Buckaroo Banzai

(11) Today’s Birthday Book

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is 62 years old today. Phil Nichols explains:

Fahrenheit 451

FAHRENHEIT 451 was deposited for copyright at the Library of Congress on October 19, 1953. Both the first edition hardbound and mass market paperback carry this publication date, although the paperbacks actually reached the market a month earlier.

The McCarthy era’s climate of fear lingered beyond 1953, however; in spite of the book’s initial critical success, the first paperback printing took seven years to sell out.

(12) Diana Pavlac Glyer was very pleasantly surprised to find her forthcoming book Bandersnatch mentioned in a recent Publishers Weekly post, “Exploring C.S. Lewis’s Lasting Popularity – 52 Years After His Death”.

Coming in November, Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings (Kent State University Press) by Diana Pavlac Glyer and James A. Owen shows readers how encouragement and criticism made all the difference in books written by the Inklings. A companion coloring book by Owen is expected next spring.

(13) Learn how to make your pumpkin look like a galaxy nebula.

front-view-galaxy-pumpkin

(14) Io9 says “The Glorious Poster For Star Wars The Force Awakens Has A Giant Planet Killer On It”. Almost needless to say, you can also see the full, high resolution poster there.

(15) This collection of “13 Creepy Bits of Bookish Trivia” at BookRiot lives up to its headline. Here’s one of the tamer entries.

  1. J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, is rumored to have been quite the odd character. However, after his brother died in a skating accident, Barrie would routinely dress up in his dead brother’s clothing in order to ease his mother’s grief. The tragedy of his brother’s death would come to inspire the character of Peter Pan.

(16) Tonight was the Terry Gilliam talk at the Alex Theatre. Crusading photojournalist John King Tarpinian snapped a picture of the marquee.

Terry Gilliam on Alex marquee COMP ph by JKT

(17) Chuck Wendig in “About That Dumb Star Wars Boycott” begins…

Let’s imagine that you are, as you are now, a straight white dude. Except, your world features one significant twist — the SFF pop culture you consume is almost never about you. The faces of the characters do not look like yours. The creators of this media look nothing like you, either. Your experiences are not represented. Your voice? Not there. There exist in these universes no straight white dudes. Okay, maybe one or two. Some thrown in to appease. Sidekicks and bad guys and walk-on parts. Token chips flipped to the center of the table just to make you feel like you get to play, too. Oh, all around you in the real world, you are well-represented. Your family, your friends, the city you live in, the job you work — it’s straight white dude faces up and down the block. But on screen? In books? Inside comic panels and as video game characters? Almost none. Too few. Never the main characters.

It feels isolating, and you say so.

And as a response you’re told, “Hey, take what you get.” They say, can’t you have empathy for someone who doesn’t look like you? Something something humanist, something something equalist. And of course you can have that empathy because you have to, because this is all you know, because the only faces and words and experiences on-screen are someone else’s so, really, what else are you going to do?

Then one day, things start to change. A little, not a lot, but shit, it’s a start — you start to see yourself up there on the screen. Sometimes as a main character. Sometimes behind the words on the page, sometimes behind the camera. A video game avatar here, a protagonist there. And it’s like, WOO HOO, hot hurtling hell, someone is actually thinking about you once in a while. And the moment that happens, wham. A backlash. People online start saying, ugh, this is social justice, ugh, this is diversity forced down our throats, yuck, this is just bullshit pandering quota garbage SJW — and you’re like, whoa, what? Sweet crap, everyone else has been represented on screen since the advent of film. They’ve been on the page since some jerk invented the printing press. But the moment you show up — the moment you get more than a postage stamp-sized bit of acreage in this world that has always been yours but never really been yours, people start throwing a shit-fit. They act like you’re unbalancing everything. Like you just moved into the neighborhood and took a dump in everybody’s marigolds just because you exist visibly.

(18) Amy Sterling Casil recommends The Looking Planet.

During the construction of the universe, a young member of the Cosmos Corps of Engineers decides to break some fundamental laws in the name of self expression.

 

[Thanks to Will R., JJ, John King Tarpinian and Amy Sterling Casil for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 10/18 Psycho Filer

(1) 2015 Canadian Unity Fan Fund winner Paul Carreau is a council member of the Federation of Beer. Their latest officially-licensed Star Trek brew is Vulcan Ale.

Federation of Beer announces that Shmaltz Brewing Company of Clifton Park, NY is brewing a new Star Trek-themed beer called Vulcan Ale – The Genesis Effect, that will be made available on Planet Earth in early October. Under license by CBS Consumer Products, Vulcan Ale – The Genesis Effect will pay homage to the Star Trek franchise and its legacy, tying into the storyline of The Wrath of Khan as well as Shmaltz’s own brand of He’brew craft beers.

 

Vulcan Ale

(2) Camestros Felapton uses photographic evidence to set the record straight in “Tentacled Victorians”.

Rumors that Queen Victoria herself was a squid monster where unfounded. Photographic evidence shows she was an octopus-monster not a squid monster.

(3) Amazon has filed suit against 1,114 fake reviewers who “sell fabricated comments to companies seeking to improve the appeal of their products,” according to the BBC. The lawsuit was filed Friday in Seattle.

The defendants, termed “John Does,” have offered their false review service for as little as $5 on the website Fiverr.com, according to Amazon. The sellers were avoiding getting caught by using different accounts from unique IP addresses.

However, Amazon was able to identify the fake reviewers by conducting an investigation and purchasing some of the fake reviews. Amazon is also working with Fiverr to resolve the issue.

“While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufactures place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand,” Amazon said in its complaint.

Vox Day suggests “More than a few SJWs should be shaking in their shoes” because – why wouldn’t he?

(4) Bri Lopez Donovan reports on the latest conrunners’ convention in “JOFCon 2015 Helps Build the Convention Community” on Twin Cities Geek.

I was fortunate to be a part of the “Disability Access” panel, which was actually more about accessibility in general rather than disability access in particular. I and my fellow panelists, Amanda Tempel and Rachel Kronick, started with brief self-introductions before jumping into the discussion by talking about some pitfalls and how they’ve been addressed in various conventions. One of the problems we talked about was the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms at CONvergence. Amanda mentioned how it had been a problem and a point of discussion for years, and how member engagement really pushed the initiative to create bathrooms that were accessible to those outside of the gender binary. The solution she spoke of was convention runners working with their venues to relabel or re-allocate resources, in this case to relabel the gendered bathrooms of a hotel to make them gender neutral for the duration of the convention.

Another issue tackled was the vetting of panelists. Audience members of this panel brought up the lack of diversity on panels that were covering topics of diversity—for example, no people of color on a panel about race in sci fi, or no folks with autism on a panel about spectrum disorders within geek media. Audience members and panels brainstormed various ways to address this, including vetting panelists by asking why they are interested in being on a particular panel and assessing their answers for issues that could arise.

(5) Kevin Trainor asks “SF Won The Culture Wars A Long Time Ago. Isn’t It Time Fandom Started Acting Like It? on Wombat Rampant.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? Is a trend becoming apparent to you? Here, let’s add another ingredient to this mulligan stew. In 1997, while I and my wife at the time were mostly busy trying to raise our kids, the regional SF convention in Minneapolis, Minicon, was in crisis. Attendance had ballooned to over three thousand people, staff turnover and burnout were epidemic, and the fan club nominally responsible for running Minicon, MNSTF, had no real idea whether the con was making money, losing money, or investing it in beaver hat futures on the Medicine Hat Commodities Exchange. The MNSTF Board of Directors, wakened from their dogmatic slumber by all the hooting, hollering, carrying-on, shrieks of horror, and assorted gibbering, actually paid serious attention to various proposals regarding the upcoming Minicon. One proposal, advanced by Minicon veteran Victor Raymond, was to split the baby: have one Minicon dedicated to traditional SF fandom, and another at a different time which would be more of a Gathering of the Clans, a three-ring circus and big ol’ party for media fans, anime fans, BDSM folk, and the other subcultures drawn to SF fandom, where being different wasn’t automatically considered bad. Another proposal, which was the one MNSTF wound up going with, was called the High Resolution Minicon Proposal, and whatever its authors’ original intentions, it was seen by most of Upper Midwest fandom as “Thanks for all the time and money you’ve sunk into Minicon over the years, you fringefans, but we’re tired of you now, and you need to fuck right off.” What became immediately apparent was that the vast majority of Minicon’s attendance and staff had in fact been made up of those “fringefans” for quite some time, and in the years following the implementation of the HRMP, Minicon’s attendance imploded to a low of about 400 people. Meanwhile, those fans who felt snubbed by the HRMP organized three other conventions: Marscon, more focused on media and gaming but still mainly an SF convention; Convergence, essentially Minicon 2.0; and Diversicon, which was ironically even more focused on traditional SF & fantasy but had split from Minicon over the issues of a “dry” consuite and open staff meetings, which Minicon had rejected. So in the end, what Victor had campaigned for happened anyway, but instead of successfully managing the change and remaining the preeminent SF club in the upper Midwest, MNSTF dropped the ball and dwindled into obscurity, which their graying membership seems quite happy with. The same thing, with minor variations, also happened at Boskone and Disclave and other regional conventions, so i think it’s reasonable to draw a few conclusions about SF fandom in general from these examples.

Let’s fast forward a few years. By now, everyone is familiar with the Sad Puppies story: Larry Correia noticed a drop in Worldcon attendance correlating with an increase in Hugo Awards to works of SF that weren’t terribly successful in the marketplace, but were written by the Right People and tended to have the Right Characters expressing the Right Views. Over the next two years, he tested the hypothesis, encouraging his readers and friends to join Worldcon and vote. Membership numbers at Worldcon increased, votes for the Hugo increased, and in the third year of Sad Puppies, when massive numbers of people bought supporting memberships and nominated works by John Wright, Tom Kratman, Michael Williamson, and other authors considered “badthinkers” by defenders of the existing order – the same people, mind you, who had encouraged Larry to go out and get more people to join Worldcon if he felt it wasn’t sufficiently reflective of the SF market- the backlash from people such as Patrick and Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, John Scalzi, David Gerrold, and various unhousebroken employees of Tor Books was vitriolic. The Sad Puppies (and their co-belligerents, the Rabid Puppies led by Vox Day) were libeled as racists, homophobes, neo-Nazis, misogynists and pretty much every politically correct insult in the book. In the end, despite the Puppy Kickers’ hypocritical preaching against the evils of “slate voting”, a bloc of 2500 voters chose “No Award” over any work nominated from the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies list – a list, mind you, that SP3 leader Brad Torgersen had not delivered from on high, but instead crowdsourced from anyone who wanted to suggest works worth nominating. Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies list was almost identical to the SP list, but as far as anyone knows, it was a list he chose and distributed to the Dread Ilk. This massive “No Award” result, which doubled the number of such from the last ten years, was loudly cheered and celebrated by those in attendance at the Hugo Award banquet; this cheering was encouraged by MC David Gerrold, while thousands of fans around the world were subjected to this display of vile behavior thanks to the Internet.

(6) Meantime, Kevin J. Maroney has his say, “Once More Around the Sun”, at New York Review of Science Fiction.

As I’m sure you know by now if you have even the faintest scintilla in the Hugo Awards, the “No Awards for Slates” option won out in this year’s Hugo final voting. This is the approach I advocated in my previous editorials, excluding the Puppy finalists not on grounds of quality or lack thereof, nor on the politics or personal foibles of the people running either of the Puppy slates. This was entirely a vote against the underhanded tactics that resulted in those finalists reaching the ballot. (The kindest thing that can be said about slate voting in this type of open-ended popular vote is that it is “technically not cheating.” That’s not a kind thing to say at all.) The people who were dragged onto the Puppy ballots without being consulted can be assured that this vote absolutely was not a personal rejection of you but of an unacceptable process.

There are larger issues involved in the Puppy movement that I don’t feel the need to rehash right now, issues of culture war, of reader communities and their protocols, of the powers and perils of our deeply interconnected communications. But at its core, the Puppy fight was about a group of people deciding to “not technically” cheat their way into an award and they were rebuffed, and that much, at least, is good. The Puppies will be back next year. It’s not particularly clear what they hope to accomplish in a fourth bite at the apple they claim is poisoned, but it will certainly be something.

(7) Today in History:

Moby Dick script dustjacket

October 18, 1851Moby-Dick by Herman Melville was published. Much later, Ray Bradbury turned it into a script for John Huston.

October 18, 1976 — Burnt Offerings, from Dark Shadows‘ Dan Curtis, opens in theaters.

(8) The Superheroes in Gotham exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library will be open through February 21, 2016.

Superheroes in Gotham

Superheroes in Gotham will tell the story of the birth of comic book superheroes in New York City; the leap of comic book superheroes from the page into radio, television, and film; the role of fandom, including the yearly mega event known as New York Comic Con; and the ways in which comic book superheroes, created in the late 1930s through the 1960s, have inspired and influenced the work of contemporary comic book artists, cartoonists, and painters in New York City.

Michael Powell reviews the exhibit for the New York Times.

The curators found in a private collection the Pow! Bam! Wham! Pop Art-era Batmobile and put it in the lobby. They mounted the Penguin’s umbrella and Catwoman’s hot unitard upstairs, along with Action Comics No. 1 (the first appearance of Superman) and art originals of the singular Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man.

The exhibition focuses on comic book founding fathers. They were predominantly Jewish kids — with a few Italians and the occasional wayward Protestant mixed in — from the Bronx, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. And in the 1930s and ’40s, they created a world.

Bob Kane (born Robert Kahn), a creator of Batman, and Will Eisner, a son of Jewish immigrants and the creator of the Spirit, attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, as did the wisenheimer bard Stan Lee (born Stanley Lieber), who created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk and many more.

(9) Christopher Lloyd told The Hollywood Reporter he’d be glad to do Back to the Future: Part IV if somebody reunited the whole gang. “Doc” also says he’d like to toss out the first pitch if the Chicago Cubs get to the 2015 World Series, as predicted in Back to the Future: Part II.

(10) Book trailers by SFWA Members are collected here on YouTube.

(11) Brian Z. lays that pistol down in a comment on File 770.

Meet me in the thread, pixel, pixel
Puppies all around, pooping, pooping
Tear those puppies down, scrolling, scrolling
Droppings in the ground where flowers grow
Old familiar whine
Shiny happy pixel-scrolling fans
Shiny happy pixel-scrolling fans
Shiny happy people laughing
Filers all around, love them, love them
Never make amends, dish it, dish it
There’s still time to cry, crappy, crappy
Save an unkind word for tomorrow’s whine
Old familiar whine
Shiny happy pixel-scrolling fans…

(12) J-Grizz scores one for the home team.

Pixel pixel little scrolls
God Stalk! Brackets, maybe trolls
Reading comprehension’s bad
Perhaps that’s why they are so sad
Pixel pixel little scroll
Filking’s just the way we roll

(13) Yipes.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]