Pixel Scroll 3/5/19 Surely You Know, Philately Will Get You Nowhere

(1) THE DEATH OF TRUTH. Brianna Wu is one of the featured victims in The Guardian’s article “Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out “.

Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Not any more. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell’s UFOs, the “hoax” moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today’s iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency.

…Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. A University of Chicago study estimated in 2014 that half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory. When they repeated the survey last November, the proportion had risen to 61%. The startling finding was echoed by a recent study from the University of Cambridge that found 60% of Britons are wedded to a false narrative.

The segment on Brianna Wu begins:

An accurate floor plan of her house was assembled and published online, along with her address and pictures of her car and license plate. And then there were the death threats – up to 300 by her estimate. One message on Twitter threatened to cut off her husband’s “tiny Asian penis”. The couple evacuated their house and took refuge with friends and in hotels.

Wu now devotes her time to running for Congress from her home in Dedham, Massachusetts. She sees her candidacy as a way of pressing federal authorities to take the problem of online conspiracy theories and harassment seriously. “The FBI employs about 30,000 agents in the US. As best as I can tell there’s no division that is specifically tasked with prosecuting extreme threats online – it’s simply not a priority for them,” she says.

(2) SPACE ADVOCACY. On March 4 representatives of The Planetary Society visited Congressional offices in Washington: “100 Planetary Society Members. 25 States. 1 Day of Action.”

Yesterday, 100 passionate Planetary Society members joined us on Capitol Hill for our Day of Action. They discussed the importance of space science and exploration with their congressional representatives and advocated for NASA’s continued growth. It was a huge success!

Through their efforts, we reached more than 127 congressional offices in 25 different states. We are grateful for the passion and dedication of these members.

(3) A LOT TO LIVE UP TO. Shana O’Neil declares “Captain Marvel meets some of the highest expectations yet for a Marvel movie” in a review for The Verge.

…After all of that, Captain Marvel is in the unenviable position of having to introduce a new character to the MCU, lay out her origin story, tie her in with the current MCU timeline, create backstories for several previously established characters, and set up even more significant elements for Avengers: Endgame. But Captain Marvel mostly bears the weight of those expectations. It rises to the occasion with strong performances and with its directors’ willingness to slow down and take their story seriously, balancing humor, action, and exposition in a carefully calibrated package.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is initially introduced as Vers, a Starforce Agent for the alien Kree race. Vers isn’t a character from the original Captain Marvel comics, but Marvel readers may recognize her fellow Starforce members: Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou, Guardians of the Galaxy), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan, Crazy Rich Asians), Bron-Char (Rune Temte, The Last Kingdom), Att-Lass (Algenis Pérez Soto, Sugar), and their leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Vers has powerful Kree abilities: super strength, physical endurance, and the ability to shoot blasts of energy from her fingertips. But she can’t remember how she got those powers, or what her life was like before the Kree found her and brought her to their homeworld of Hala.

(4) BAKER’S DOZEN. Sarah Mangiola posted this last year at The Portalist — “13 Must-Read Hugo Award-Winning Books”. Some of these are short story collections where the title story was the Hugo winner.

Ill Met in Lankhmar and Ship of Shadows

By Fritz Leiber

The 1971 Hugo Award winner for Best Novella, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” recounts the meeting and teaming up of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser—serving as a prequel of sorts to Leiber’s The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book series. Featured alongside four other stories in Swords and Deviltry, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” starts when Gray Mouser and Fafhrd simultaneously ambush the Thieves’ Guild and steal valuable jewels that they themselves had just stolen. Realizing they make a good team, Gray Mouser and Fafhrd join forces and attempt to infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild. 

(5) CREATURE CREATOR. In “The Big Idea: Mallory O’Meara” at Whatever, O’Meara explains the origins of her book The Lady from the Black Lagoon:

…This book started out simply as a biography of Milicent Patrick, an influential artist whose legacy has been purposely obfuscated for decades. She was an illustrator, a concept artist, one of the first female animators at Disney and the designer of the iconic monster from the 1954 science fiction film CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

The press and attention that Milicent got as the designer of the Creature was the pinnacle of her career. It also caused her downfall. Her boss at the time was so jealous of her being in the limelight with the Creature that he fired her. Milicent never worked behind the scenes in Hollywood again and no one knew what became of her.

While I was researching and investigating her life, it became clear to me that I couldn’t write about what happened to Milicent Patrick without writing about why it happened to her. It’s easy to hear a sad story about a woman dealing with sexism in the 1950s and think, “Man, what a bummer. That’s just how things were back then!”

But it wasn’t just how things were back then. What happened to Milicent Patrick is still happening. It’s happening right now….

(6) LITIGIOUS LOUT. The Sydney Morning Herald invites you to “Meet Nick Rodwell, Tintin heir and least popular man in Belgium”.

It all started when a circle of Tintin fans in the Netherlands, de Herge Genooschap, ran a few strips in their internal newsletter. They were dragged to court, facing a penalty of up to €100,000 ($154,000).

They are only the latest party to have fallen foul of Nick Rodwell, self-proclaimed “the least popular man in Belgium”.

Mr Rodwell is the British-born manager of Moulinsart, the company that holds the rights to the Herge estate. Students, scholars, admirers and collectors alike have been harshly prosecuted at the faintest sign of a Tintin drawing, with Moulinsart demanding arrests, confiscations and colossal sums out of all proportion with the alleged offences.

(7) OGDEN OBIT. Fanzine fan Steve Ogden died March 1. Rick Bradford paid tribute at the Poopsheet Foundation:

My friend, longtime fan, author, fanzine publisher and comics researcher Steven Ogden died on March 1st, 2019 after a lengthy battle with leukemia and everything that goes along with its treatment.

Steve – along with his wife, Vicki – published fanzines and mini-comics through Spotted Zebra Press/New Spotted Zebra Press since the ’80s (or perhaps slightly earlier). Publications included Ouroborus, the mammoth Brad W. Foster Checklist of Published Works from the 20th Century (1972-2000), Edgar’s Journal, Metaphysical Pornographic Funnies and many others. He was also a longtime member of FAPA (The Fantasy Amateur Press Association).

His wife Vicki asks that instead of flowers donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

March 5, 1944Captain America premiered theatrically in theaters as a serial.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 5, 1874 Henry Travers. Only two genre roles to my knowledge, he appeared in The Invisible Man as Dr. Cranley and he was in Death Takes a Holiday as Baron Cesarea. (Died 1965.)
  • Born March 5, 1894 Henry Daniell. His most famous role is SF film was as a Morgana in From the Earth to the Moon. He has more obscure roles over the decades in films such as playing William Easter in Sherlock Holmes in Washington or Dr. Wolfe ‘Toddy’ MacFarlane in The Body Snatcher where he’d have been upstaged by it being the last film of both Karloff and Lugosi. (Died 1963.)
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell, 83. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent  Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock PresentsMission: Impossible, Night GalleryQuinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: EnterpriseBattlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. 
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick, 77. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the UnicornThe Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof.
  • Born March 5, 1952 Robin Hobb, 67. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence her two pen names. I reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. 
  • Born March 5, 1955 Penn Jillette, 64. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000Toy StoryFuturama: Into the Wild Green YonderSharknado 3: Oh Hell No!Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanVR.5Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror. 
  • Born March 5, 1975 Jolene Blalock, 44. Best known for playing  T’Pol on  Enterprise.  Genre wise, she’s also been in Jason and the Argonauts as Medea, Stargate SG-1 as Ishta, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder as Captain Lola Beck and as the Legend of the Seeker as Sister Nicci.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • It’s not only authors who want to GET PAID, so do devices — Bizarro.
  • Garfield is about a fellow who will never have a Mount TBR.

(10) IN CHARACTER. SYFY Wire shares the fun when “J.K. Simmons revives J. Jonah Jameson in Spidey-hating Avengers: Endgame spoof”.

… How would Simmons’ Jameson react to the dusty ending of Avengers: Infinity War? How would he potentially act, if he was to survive, during Avengers: Endgame? Would he finally cut Spider-Man some slack? Would the web-slinger finally earn his respect? 

Thanks to a new spoof made by Lights, Camera, Pod, we don’t have to just sit and wonder. J.K. Simmons himself returned to voice Jameson for this animated video, and, well, see for yourself: 

(11) A CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE. Greg Hullender tells how Rocket Stack Rank weathered a storm of public criticism two years ago in this comment at Mad Genius Club. (For background, see “Rocket Stack Rank Issues Apology, Hullender Off Locus Panel”.)

…The way they managed to get us was that we had promised that RSR would be politics-free: focused on the stories alone. But I had been using my reviews to express my annoyance with the use of “non-binary ‘they’” in stories and making it fairly clear I didn’t take the whole non-binary thing seriously. As a long-standing member of the LGBT community, I certainly have the right to voice my opinion of the non-binary movement (although it quickly became clear that I was very out-of-date and should have at least talked to a few non-binary people), but RSR was not the place to have that discussion. Worse, the first my husband (and co-editor) learned of this was when our enemies produced a horrendous “open letter” that was a mix of half-truths and outrageous lies but supported with links to my own reviews. He was, understandably, rather upset with me.

Most embarrassing was that Locus asked me to withdraw from the panel that selects their annual recommended reading list, and issued a press release about it.

We recognized that our enemies wouldn’t be satisfied by anything we did. “If we committed suicide, they’d just say we did it wrong.” So we apologized to our readers for what we genuinely believed I had done wrong, and I went through the old reviews and comments and carefully removed everything that we agreed shouldn’t be there, based on our own principles. They made fun of our apology, of course, but we didn’t care; we didn’t do it for them.

Then we waited to see what happened. We agreed that if volume to the site fell in half, we’d shut it down and find something else to do. It had been a miserable, humiliating experience, and it’s not like we make any money from Rocket Stack Rank. (We brag that we change no fees, run no ads, use no affiliate codes, and never beg for donations.) We think of it as our gift to fandom, and if fans didn’t want it, we wouldn’t keep doing it.

But, volume increased.

During the hullabaloo, volume more than doubled (by all measures) for about a month, based on year-on-year comparisons. But the next few months showed that we kept 20% of that. If we lost any readers, they were more than made up for by the ones who learned about us through this thing. (Maybe it really is true that all publicity is good publicity.) Year-on-year growth has continued, and we’re now actually bigger than some of the semiprozines that Locus reports on (although nowhere near the size of the ones we actually review).

(12) HAGER WINS AGAIN. Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for 2019 goes to Mandy Hager for life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. Her Singing Home the Whale, about a teenaged boy who befriends a baby orca, won the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards’  Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (see a review here.) Her near-future dystopia The Nature of Ash won the 2013 LIANZA YA Fiction Award (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa).

(13) CONTENT WARNING FOR THIS ITEM. Polygon says a “Steam game about raping women will test Valve’s hands-off approach”.

Valve did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on the game’s website, the developer seems aware that its creation is controversial.

“You can’t reasonable [sic] consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture,” the developer says.

“Most people can separate fiction from reality pretty well, and those that can’t shouldn’t be playing video games,” the developer continues.

Technically, Rape Day does not appear to violate Steam’s current content rules, but the developer appears unsure if the game will make it to the final release without getting banned off the platform. Already, the game has been modified to avoid potential content issues — in one news update, the creator says they got rid of a “baby killing scene” in case it gets marked as child exploitation. Rape Day’s website also lists out a couple of plans of action for what may happen to the game, and the developer, should anything get taken down.

“I have not broken any rules, so I don’t see how my game could get banned unless Steam changes their policies,” the developer wrote. “My game was properly marked as adult and with a thorough description of all of the potentially offensive content before the coming soon page went live on Steam.”

(14) DISPLACED. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak says “Famous Men Who Never Lived is a powerful novel about alternate worlds and the plights of refugees”.

In K. Chess’ debut novel, Famous Men Who Never Lived, at some point in the past, reality diverged, and an alternate timeline played out alongside our own. Then, that world was devastated by a nuclear attack, and extradimensional refugees started showing up in our own reality. As Chess follows the lives of refugees from that alternate world, she delivers a story about immigration and how those who lose everything they’ve ever known are able to cope with their new reality.

(15) SERIAL BOX. Adri Joy finds you can’t improve on four aces: “Microreview [Book]: The Vela, by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, Rivers Solomon and S.L. Huang” at Nerds of a Feather.

Serial Box’s new space opera is an action-packed, politically-driven adventure written by an impressive author lineup.

…Together, they take on a space opera that touches on the strengths of all four of these works, while being something very different. Welcome to the system home to Khayyam, Gan-de and Hypatia, where the careless extraction of hydrogen by wealthy inner planets is causing the slow collapse of the sun and the death, over centuries, of all inhabitable worlds – beginning, of course, with the blameless, impoverished outer worlds. Mix in a hardened soldier-for-hire who is herself an escapee from the dying worlds, and her naive non-binary sidekick, and you’ve got an indisputable recipe for success, right?

(16) JUDGMENT RENDERED. Brian Hubbard, in “Microreview [book]: JUDGES Volume 1 by Michael Carroll, Charles J. Eskew, and George Mann” at Nerds of a Feather, wishes the authors didn’t assume the readers already have a lot of knowledge about this series.

How does the world get from the police we know today to Judge Dredd? JUDGES Volume 1 brings us closer to the answer with a trio of short stories set in the Judge Dredd universe. It doesn’t quite reach the bombast of that source material though.

…But if you’re not familiar with the Judges program or the Judge Dredd world, these stories aren’t going to do you a lot of favors in the way of building this world.

(17) IN ONE VOLUME. Rob Bedford assesses “BINTI: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor” at SFFWorld.

To say that the saga of Binti is a modern masterwork is obvious.  Despite the tragedy throughout the series, the physical tragedies, the emotional baggage Binti brought with her when we first met her to the profound affect those physical tragedies had on Binti, one thing was even more clear. Hope. This is very much a forward-thinking series with a charmingly brilliant and empathetic protagonist. Okorafor impressively packs these short novels/novellas with an incredible amount of emotion, fantastical ideas, and philosophical ideals in and of themselves. That the trilogy (plus short story) is under 400 pages and is so powerful is a marvel of storytelling.

(18) THE VERDICT. Camestros Felapton wrote individual reviews of the six 2018 Nebula Awards short story nominees, and now deals with how they work collectively on the literary award’s ballot: “Nebula Shorts: Summing Up”.

I’d contend that there are three clearly exceptional short stories in the Nebula short story finalists. There is a fourth I can see an argument for, there is another that I don’t get but others clearly did and there’s a sixth which, while having many positive qualities, probably shouldn’t be a finalist.

(19) MANY MONSTERS. Ultraman is coming to Netflix (like everything else!)

Years ago, the famous giant of light Ultraman worked to protect peace on Earth. Now, a new champion arises: Shinjiro Hayata, a high-school student who must don the Ultra Suit and the worries that come with it. The son of the former Ultraman, he will become this generation’s new hero! Netflix Original Anime Ultraman starts streaming worldwide April 1st, only on Netflix.

(20) GENRE PLAT. Matthew Johnson left another masterwork in comments today:

All books can be SFnal books, though recent books are bolder
You never know when Dick and Jane might meet with a Beholder
The correct double entrendre
Can make anything genre
You can give a ray gun to Atticus Finch
Let Lennie and George cast a spell in a pinch.

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

Hot Serial:  NYRSF Readings Series Presents an Evening with Serial Box Authors

L to R: Joel Derfner, Michael Swanwick, Max Gladstone, Matthew Cody, Lindsay Smith, Ellen Kushner, Amy Goldschlager.

By Mark L. Blackman: On the spring evening of Tuesday, May 2, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series, in a special event, showcased Serial Box, a publisher of serialized fiction in text and audio delivered in weekly episodes; it currently runs five ongoing series. In this innovative – or perhaps retrograde – publishing platform, as with television, the serials are collaboratively written by author teams. Representing four of the serials, and reading from their projects, were authors Michael Swanwick, Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Matthew Cody, and Joel Derfner. (Ellen Kushner participated in the events, though did not read.) The stories were as diverse as the “writers rooms,” touching upon Urban Fantasy, Mannerpunk, Magical Espionage, and Young Adult Science Fiction.

Welcoming the audience to the Series’ venue, the Brooklyn Commons in transit-accessible Brooklyn, executive curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, shared the sad news of the death of Ama Patterson, who had been an integral part of Andrea Hairston’s performance at the Series. He thanked members of his own team, hinted at a possible special event later in the month, and announced that the 26th Season would likely close on Tuesday, June 6 with readings by Sam J. Miller and Lara Elena Donnelly. He then turned the stage over to the evening’s guest host/guest curator (and curator emerita) Amy Goldschlager.

Amy Goldschlager, an editor, proofreader and book/audiobook reviewer, related that serialized fiction began in the 19th century (notably with Dickens), and shared worlds with Thieves World and Wild Cards; Serial Box, she saw as “a wonderful confluence of it all.” With that, she introduced the first reader of the night, Joel Derfner, representing the Mannerpunk Tremontaine.

Joel Derfner

Joel Derfner is the author of Gay Haiku, Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Ended Up Happening Instead, and Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family. (Indeed, he does live, “alas, in Brooklyn, along with his husband and their small, fluffy dog.” He never did explain that “alas,” however.) His selection, from the prequel to – set 15 years before – Swordspoint, and preceding the writing of On the Causes of Nature (which figures in that novel), was characterized by Goldschlager as a “delightfully snarky bit of foreshadowing,” and contained many double entendres – intentional and not – about sausages. (His sex scenes, he said, were too long.)

Lindsay Smith

Next to read was Lindsay Smith, who offered a scene from the “urban fantasy Cold War thriller” (Goldschlager) The Witch Who Came in From the Cold. There are, Smith explained, two factions of witches, the Fire and the Ice (so “the Cold” is not just the Cold War), fighting a war (here in 1970s Prague) alongside the one with American, British and Soviet spies.

Matthew Cody

Like Smith, Matthew Cody is a YA author; his published works include the award-winning Powerless and the Supers of Noble’s Green series, the Robin Hood re-imagining Will in Scarlet, and his current series The Secrets of the Pied Piper. His Serial Box series, ReMade, is about resurrected teens who are kidnapped and sent to the future; the action takes place in the future and in flashbacks (the present), and the scene that he chose was one of the latter. The boy, Holden (yes, named after you-know-who), who played a fairy (the only boy one) with no lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, nervously offers a ride to the cast party to its star (Titania), which does not end as he might have hoped.

During the intermission, a raffle drawing was held for donors in the audience, and two won a season of the Serial Box serial of their choice.

Max Gladstone

Max Gladstone, co-creator of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold and creator of Bookburners, describes himself as having “been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drunk almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat.” He is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards­, Full Fathom Five, Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Last First Snow., and the forthcoming Ruin of Angels (which doesn’t have a number in the title!). Bookburners is, he explained, a “supernatural procedural” about secret agents from the Vatican who pursue demons and black magic. For his reading, he offered the audience a choice between the first season and a preview of the third, which is launching in June, and the latter won out (the vote was not “rigged”). (What happened in Belfast?)

Back on stage, Goldschlager said that she and Freund had asserted that there can’t be a NYRSF Readings season without a reading by Michael Swanwick, and he writes for Serial Box. Swanwick has written nine novels – the latest of which is Chasing the Phoenix – 150 short stories, and countless flash fictions, and has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards. He returned us to The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, prefacing his reading by noting that, as if there aren’t already too many characters in it, he had brought in two more, the Russian general Bitovsky and the Norwegian Magnus. (They must be spies – they’re meeting in “a spy bar.”)

There was a recess as the stage was reset with all of the readers – joined by Kushner – for an interview by Goldschlager. She opened by asking about the process of collaboration, which Gladstone called “a Frankenstein process.” There are a lot of story breakdowns. (As on tv, the editor/publisher equivalent is a “showrunner.”) Smith said that Witch is “more puzzle-piecey,” with people gravitating toward their own characters. Derfner disagreed, and jokingly called her a liar. There are a lot of personal meetings over Tremontaine. Gladstone noted his writers retreats. What struck him, said Swanwick, was how many times a story goes through the editorial process, somewhere between six and 123 (he cited a debate over whether it’s duct tape or duck tape – as in a film or tv show, there has to be consistency, or continuity). There is a “house voice.” Derfner said that he liked “having structure, and not having to make things up.” In Season 1, he said, he had trouble getting Diane’s (the Duchess Tremontaine) voice right and asked Kushner to revise him. She said that she was doing Joel doing herself; the process was “metaphysical” (I offered the word). They had to invent a new way of doing a narrative.

Cody said with his background in theater (he holds a Master’s Degree in Theater, with a focus on Shakespeare), he enjoyed the collaborative process. People would fight for their idea, but only up to a point. Alluding to ReMade, Goldschlager noted that we figure things out (that they’re in the future) before the characters do, and wondered about how “genre-savvy” the readers are, particularly in YA. Whatever the genre, replied Cody, soap opera is the “underpinning” of YA. Finally, she asked Gladstone if The Witch Who Came in From the Cold and Bookburners take place in the same universe. “Stay tuned,” he intoned, providing a perfect conclusion to the interviews.

In the Q&A that followed, an audience member asked how they select people to be “in their zone.” Gladstone looks for writers “who are going to jump on and run with it” and had a “willingness to speak the same language.” Kushner said that she had it easier, had the advantage of everyone being a Swordspoint fan, knowing and loving the Riverside books, and knowing that they can “play well with others.” The writers, she continued, “have to be flexible, open to their ideas being changed.” There are gay men in the story, and so she has “an actual gay man” writing episodes. His theatrical background also helps. (Derfner has, as his biography states, composed the score to musicals that “have played in New York, London, and various cities in between [going counterclockwise].”) Her Tremontaine team, she observed, was “queer or writers of color, or both.”

The next questioner asked if the long form was easier to play with than a shorter form. Gladstone said that it made it easier to “compartmentalize.” Smith said that they have to create an “atmosphere;” she can tell which writer wrote which episode, yet the story unifies and flows. The final questioner asked about how much work goes into the “Series Bible” (again, a tv term). Cody said that it gave “everyone a level playing field,” but, as Gladstone agreed, it changed quickly and almost immediately as everyone gave input.

The customary Jenna Felice Freebie Table returned and there were copies of Tremontaine offered for sale. The audience, which approached 70, included Melissa C. Beckman (the Readings’ “official photographer”), Richard Bowes, Rob Cameron, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Barbara Krasnoff (the House Manager and a Nebula Award nominee), John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Marianne Porter, James Ryan, Terence Taylor (Tech Director), Paul Witcover, and Serial Box co-founders Molly Barton and Julian Yap. Throughout the course of the evening and afterward, members of the audience availed themselves of the Café’s fare.