Pixel Scroll 8/5 Closing Bracket

Four is fantastic, two is good, but two divided by one can only be sad, all in today’s Scroll.

(1) The quartet’s comic book shut down in April. They have a movie but do they have a future? Alex Pappademas remembers the original future of the Fantastic Four at Grantland.

I am jealous of Reed Richards. I am jealous of his Thinking Room, which appears to have floor-to-ceiling tablet-screen walls on which to write Beautiful Mind–ish equations. I am jealous of his having had 100-plus ideas. But I also relate to Reed. Reed has a wife and a family, but in order to see to their safety and security, he has to absent himself from their lives and spend long periods of time in the Thinking Room. As a professional writer, I relate very strongly to all of this…..

I became a fan of the Fantastic Four and specifically of Reed Richards when I was 32, reading those Dark Reign issues for the first time. My wife was pregnant with our daughter and I was trying — in vain, it turned out — to finish writing a book before the baby came. It would be great to be able to tell you that Reed Richards inspired me to keep going even when all seemed lost, but this isn’t that kind of story. I never finished the book. But during those months when I was trying, I returned again and again to that “SOLVE EVERYTHING” panel and imagined myself as the Reed Richards of my own family, unshaven in the lab, too smart not to realize my situation was hopeless and too desperate not to keep going.

solve-everything-fantastic-four-e1438635716861

(2) SF Signal’s newest Mind Meld feature asks:

Q:Why is gaming important for the development of your other creative pursuits? Have any video games you’ve played been especially influential in your career?

And Beth Cato, James L. Sutter, Josh Vogt, Monica Valentinelli, Nathan Beittenmiller, Carrie Patel, and Jen Williams answer.

(3) Frankenstein style light switch plates.

Turn your room into a horror movie mad scientist lab! Perfect for Halloween Haunted House!

The single switchplate is $9.99

black frankenstein switch

The dual switchplate is $14.99

double frankenstein switchplate

(4) We still don’t know when winter is coming, and George R.R. Martin has once again teased the release date without actually saying when it is.

Author George R.R. Martin is just as excited as everyone else for the release of his novel “Winds of Winter.” The book is the sixth installment in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which is the basis for the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.” Martin said in a recent interview he wants the book to be out as soon as possible and teased it holds a shocking twist for a major character.

Most of the material in the first five published books has now been used up and Season 6 of the TV series is already in production. Martin has constantly spoken about his desire to get the sixth book out as soon as possible, and a recent entry on his live journal Not A Blog has given fans hope the release date will be sooner rather than later.

In the blog, he spoke about traveling to a wedding and a baseball event in the East Coast. He signed off by leaving a faint hint the book may already be in the hands of his publishing house. “And while I will be travelling, my army of minions will be here at the old homestead, toiling in the paper mines,” he said.

(5) Arthur Chu, maybe the Puppies have a point about you after all.

(6) Yesterday’s scroll excerpted J. A. Micheline’s “Why I’m Boycotting Marvel Comics” at Comics Alliance.

Declan Finn decided to give it the Puppy treatment in “Boycotting Marvel: A Fisk” at The Catholic Geeks. Quotes from Micheline’s article are bold and underlined.

First, came your quiet decision to hand the new Blade book over to two white creators.

Um … Blade is about vampires. Not race relations, vampires.  You do understand that vampires are less a #BlackLivesMatter problem and more an #AllLivesMatter problem, don’t you? Or are you one of those people who would storm the stage with outrage at such a hashtag? Yes, you strike me as a very hashtag person. Heavy on the hash — and I mean hashish, not corned beef hash. I’m saying you’re high, not fat.

To be clear, I have no reason to think either creator will do a bad job on this book,

Oh, I think you just did.  You’ve quite implied already that because they’re white, this is a problem. Either their race is a problem, or it’s not — and since you went out of your way to say they’re white, this tells me quite clearly that this is a problem.

(7) Vice writer Cecilia D’Anastasio interviewed seven black cosplayers at Otakon for “What Black Anime Fans Can Teach Us About Race in America”. Chanel P. had this to say —

Were there any anime characters you identified with in particular?

I definitely identified with Sailor Jupiter [from Sailor Moon]. I was the tallest kid in my elementary school class. People would pick fun at me. She was shy, and so was I.

What do you think about the fact that there aren’t many black anime characters? Was that a barrier to engagement?

It was at first. When I first started coming to anime conventions, I was a bit afraid, actually, to cosplay any characters. I thought, They aren’t black, I can’t do that . I thought you had to actually look like the character in order to dress like her. But, I mean, I saw people of my skin tone dressing like the character they wanted and thought, I can do that too . I thought, I guess it doesn’t matter that there aren’t black characters. But I think we do need more black characters.

What’s it been like to cosplay?

The first time I cosplayed Sailor Moon was at Otakon last year. That was the first time I ever cosplayed. I got some pictures taken that were posted on the internet. I was excited, like, Hey I’m on the internet, yay! And then I read the comments. A lot of them weren’t good, at all. I got, “The cosplay is good, but she shouldn’t be black,” and “Oh, her skin is too dark,” and “Oh, her hair shouldn’t be blonde.” It was a lot of nasty stuff people should have kept to themselves.

(8) This may be the first time anyone resorted to Craigslist to dump surplus convention program books:

Did you miss taking home your copy of the WesterCon 68/2015 program? Or didn’t attend and want to pretend you did? Or really just wanna know what you missed? Three of them followed me home after the end of the con’. You can have up to three; pick up here.

(9) After reading today’s Robert Conquest obituary, Rich Lynch noted in comments that the famous Walt Willis carried on a correspondence with Conquest, and quoted from it in “I Remember Me” for Mimosa 17.

[Conquest:] Personally, I think it is clear that the Soviet system is, in all essential matters, as bad as the Nazi one, and that its theory that this system is suitable for imposition on the rest of the world is the greatest danger there is. On the other hand, I fancy that if we can solve our own problems and keep the Communist states from breaking out, while at the same time pointing out to them the advantages that would accrue if they ceased to exclude themselves from the world community, their internal tensions would finally force these states to evolve or perish.

[Wills:] As you’ll probably have noticed, I didn’t really appreciate Conquest’s importance. At the time, he was mainly known to me as an anti-Soviet polemicist, and my politics then were more pro-Soviet than anything, based on the assumption that whatever was wrong in the Soviet Union, at least their hearts were in the right place. I don’t have any recollection of further correspondence with Conquest, though I can’t say what might not turn up in the files, but as far as I know, my last reference to him was in my report of the visit of Madeleine and myself to the World Fair in Seattle in 1962:

[Willis:] “Even now there is such a cloud of fatigue in that corridor of my memory that I cannot believe there would be much of interest in it to you. Except possibly the still vivid recollection of seeing at the exit from the U.S. Science Pavilion, in great gold letters on the wall, a quotation from a Hyphen subscriber. Unaccountably they failed to mention this fact, mentioning just the name, Robert Conquest — presuming, no doubt, that his chief claim to immortality lies in his poetry and not in his letters of comment on Hyphen. Admittedly, he hasn’t written many of the latter recently, his subscription having lapsed, but let that be a warning to you. Let your Hyphen subscription lapse, and you may find yourself reduced to writing on walls in Washington.”

(10) Hollywood’s ultimate power couple has announced they’ve split!

Things got a little heated at the Television Critics Association panel for ABC’s new series, The Muppets, when Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, along with series executive producers Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory) and Bob Kushell (Suburgatory), revealed more about their upcoming series and that the felt couple’s long-term relationship is done-zo.

“Piggy and I have gone our separate ways romantically,” Kermit revealed. “I think it’s just kind of coming out in the press now.  It can be tough to work with your ex, you know.  And it can be tough to be the executive producer on your ex’s late?night TV show, especially when your ex is a pig.” (We’re sure he meant that in a species identification way only.)

(11) David Tormsen ranks Sad Puppies at #5 on a list of 10 Misguided Social And Political Movements Of Our Time on Listverse.

Every year, the Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy writers are voted on by paid members of Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention. Popular nominee books, movies, and commentators are placed on a shortlist of five, which are then voted on. The system is relatively easy to game, but this was not previously a problem as the majority of voters simply voted on individual taste, and popular authors knew campaigning for the awards would be in bad taste. That was until the Sad Puppy movement came along.

The Sad Puppies believe the awards have been taken over by excessively progressive authors and fans. Right-wing author Brad Torgersen describes them as “niche, academic, overtly to the Left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun.” The Sad Puppies believe science fiction and fantasy have lost their way and want to return to a sci-fi golden age. They see a liberal conspiracy to promote authors who are female or minorities, supposedly alienating a fan base of primarily white males. Their vision of the future has no place for social science fiction or the influence of feminists, LGBTQ advocates, or liberals.

[Thanks to Dave Doering, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat.]

Robert Conquest (1917-2015)

Historian and sf anthologist Robert Conquest, famous for his groundbreaking studies of Stalinist purges and mass murders in the Soviet Union, died August 3 at the age of 98.

Conquest had wide-ranging literary interests. A love of poetry led him to become friends with Kingsley Amis, and together they edited New Lines, a showcase for Movement poets.

Both enjoyed science fiction, too, and they co-edited five editions of the sf anthology Spectrum (1961-1966).

Andrew Porter reminds that Spectrum II: A Second Science Fiction Anthology (1962) contained his famous epigram —

“SF’s no good,” they bellow ’til we’re deaf.

“But this is good!” –  “Well, then, it’s not SF.”

Conquest’s poetry collections included Between Mars and Venus (1962) and Arias From a Love Opera (1969).

He wrote one sf novel, A World of Difference (1955), published three short stories, and on his own edited The Robert Sheckley Omnibus.

Conquest was made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1956 and a CMG (Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) in 1996.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter for the story.]