Cross-cultural Contact Is Homework for Science Fiction

By John Hertz: (some of this appeared in No Direction Home 6-7) I realize that with the word homework I’ve lost half my readers.

I’ll go on talking to the other one.

The notion in the title I’ve been proposing for years. I propose it to you.

I can’t say whether other sapient (not sentient, please) beings exist in the Universe. If yes, I can’t answer “Where are they?” If no, I can’t answer “Why not?” But that’s hardly our business in s-f ­ which is fiction. We imagine things. In one of Forry Ackerman’s greatest puns, we’re the Imagi-Nation.

The pit along the road, into which we keep falling (a moving pit? O metaphor!), is to imagine aliens feebly. Our Gracious Host in another context memorably wrote “Strangers Just Like Me”.

Well, we can work it up. Meeting another culture here on Earth, its people, places, and things, can be alien all right. Fascinating. Exciting. Humbling. Exalting ­ no, I don’t mean Look how much better we are (let’s save for another time whether any of that might be false ­ or true ­ and How could we know?) ­ I mean, as John Campbell and Larry Niven independently said, Minds as good as you but different.

Morris Keesan once said he liked hanging around with me because I might say “I just happened to re-read Henry IV Part 1, and ­” I do read Shakespeare. I read lots of things. Maybe you do too.

Shakespeare is good for this present purpose. You can decide for yourself how good a candidate he is for greatest writer ever. We know his plays were hugely popular in his day. Folks kept asking for more of them. Everybody went to see them, rich and poor, high and low, sophisticated and un. So he reached people.

Four hundred years have made him somewhat alien.

His English is nearer to ours than is, say, Chaucer’s. We still need footnotes ­ for example, we’ll miss “So shines a good deed in a naughty world” unless we understand that naughty in Shakespeare’s day was closer than now to the root naught: it meant worthless, with an overtone of wicked (which also didn’t mean what some of us mean by it now): it wasn’t a slap-you-on-the-wrist line, it was a punch-you-in-the-gut line.

His characters love and hate and strive and succeed and fail. But they pack their lives into different baggage from ours.

Let’s save for another time Puck and Ariel and the Hamlet ghost and whether, as of the time of their writing, they were fantasy.

So let’s take that step. Here’s another. For our present purpose, as well as for itself, I recommend T. Kishi & G. Bradshaw, Shakespeare in Japan (2005). Kishi is Professor Emeritus of English at Kyoto University and was (1999-2001) President of the Shakespeare Society of Japan. Bradshaw teaches at Chuo University and is Editor of the Shakespearean International Yearbook.

That such a book as S in Japan exists at all is exemplary. What basis do you suppose there would be for a book Zeami in the United States (Z 1363-1443, perhaps the greatest exponent of Japanese theater)?

As our authors note early on, “Shakespeare first arrived in Japan with Ibsen, Chekhov, Gorky, George Bernard Shaw, and trams [p. 2].” By then Japan had two long-established theatrical traditions, and Kabuki, three counting the puppet theater Bunraku, none of which had anything to do with Shakespeare or Elizabethan theater except to the extent of “two eyes on top, nose in the middle, mouth under” (L. Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass ch. 6, 1871; Humpty Dumpty the enormous egg explaining why human beings look alike to him).

The language, Anglo-Saxon attitudes, theatrical conventions, all had to be explored and some corresponding points found. Our authors not only discuss this ­ in just 150 pages! ­ but provide insight.

When Othello collapses into prose in the eavesdropping scene [Act IV sc. 1], is the character Othello choosing to speak prose, or is his prose … really … a poetic-dramatic and shaming measure of the character’s unconscious degradation [p. 69]?

J.A.K. Thomson’s Shakespeare and the Classics (1952) is another book I recommend both for itself and for its help with Cross-cultural contact is homework for science fiction. Its author begins,

If, about the time when Shakespeare began to write, you had visited the universities, or consulted educated people anywhere, inquiring where you should look for the leading figure in contemporary literature, whom must we suppose that most of them would have named? Calderón [1600-1681] or Tasso [1544-1595] or Montaigne [1533-1592] or Spenser [1552-1599]? None of these, but Joseph Scaliger [1540-1609], whom men called princeps literatum. To what did he owe this eminence? To his classical scholarship. If you had asked Scaliger himself (who was not ignorant of England and English writers) whom he considered the head of English literature, he might have replied in the words of Henri Estienne [1528-1598] that George Buchanan [1506-1582] was poetarum nostri saeculi facile princeps, ‘easily the first poet of our time’. This judgment was formed entirely on the basis of Buchanan’s Latin verse. Or take Isaac Casaubon [1559-1614]. He was an almost exact contemporary of Shakespeare, and he was living in England, chiefly in London, during the very years when Shakespeare was writing his great tragedies. Who except a handful of scholars now remembers Isaac Casaubon? He was a man of vast and accurate learning, which he applied with discretion, and he had the rare virtue among Renaissance scholars of personal modesty. Alas … it is not possible to discern any element of greatness in him. (This could not be said of Joseph Scaliger, who was a man of genius and in his own field a very great critic.) Yet on no other ground than his classical, especially his Greek, learning the possession of this amiable little gentleman becomes an object of contention between France and England. He is the personal friend of Henry Quatre [1553-1610], and of James I [1566-1625], who could never have enough of his conversation.

Such an estimate of relative values in literature is so far from any [which] could now be made that even historians, although they know the facts, hardly grasp their implications. Yet a little reflection will show how important they must have been…. when Shakespeare was young…. roughly… nothing was studied at the universities that was not studied in Latin. Of the grammar schools it might be said that their primary function was to teach the rudiments of Latin [hence their name]. To know Latin was the same thing as to be educated.

Thomson (1879-1959), then Professor Emeritus of Classics at King’s College, London, knew whereof he spoke. And that was decades before the College Board discontinued the Advanced Placement examination in Latin literature (2009). He ends (p. 254),

The spirit of great poetry transcends not merely the form but the language in which it finds expression. What I have written is a little chapter in the history of European literature.

Meaning no disrespect for his modesty, few of us today have, without his help, this perspective of the man we are likely to consider the foremost poet of that time ­ meaning, as I do, and I believe I may say most now do, another surprise for the audience then were they to know it, the poetry of Shakespeare’s plays, not Venus and Adonis or The Phoenix and the Turtle (and we need mental discipline to remember this meant a turtledove).

We struggle with smoking and sexism, to name just two, in s-f of even a few decades ago. I hardly say a knowledge of Latin is immoral! nor contrariwise suggest that When in Rome, do as the Romans do never implicates one’s own moral standards. But look how much trouble we have with Hal Clement’s Iceworld (1953), which if it is trying to tell us anything ­ and we may well be unfair to art if we insist art has a message ­ is trying to tell us about culture-bound assumptions. How about Remember, when in Rome, to see what the Romans see?

I write on the day most often thought to be Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23rd. Have a happy one.

Pixel Scroll 4/22/19 Ceci N’est Pas Un Pixel Scroll

(1) HELP IS ON THE WAY. Jimmy Kimmel Live plugs the “Game of Thrones Hotline for Confused Fans.”

There is a lot going on in “Game of Thrones,” and it can be difficult to keep track of what’s what and who’s who. But fortunately help is on the way. Cast members Sophie Turner, Lena Headey, John Bradley, Joe Dempsie, Maisie Williams, Kristian Nairn, Iwan Rheon & Liam Cunningham host a new hotline to assist their confused fans.

(2) RONDO SETS RECORD. Never mind the Dragon Awards – voting just closed in the “17th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards” and would you like to guess how many participants they had? The administrator says —

The final votes are still be tallied, but close to 4,500 people voted this year, a new record.

The results will be posted soon, once the vote is finalized and visual material is prepared for the release.

(3) RELATIVELY LITERATURE. Gautham Shenoy contemplates “Ian McEwan and the (re)invention of science fiction: Why contempt for SF only exposes ignorance” at Factor Daily.

…So in this light, in the context of authors who actively avoid a novel of theirs being described as ‘science fiction’, and given the latest instance of Ian McEwan distancing himself from said label, I’d like to humbly offer a way in which one can tell if it’s an SF novel or not. “Whether a novel is science fiction—or not—depends on who the author is and who reviews it”.

As an advertising professional who has spent almost 20 years in the marketing business and who knows a thing or three about positioning and target audiences, this is perhaps the best description that I think we can arrive at. But where does this leave the reader?

It is up to the individual reader to decide whether he/she/they would rather go by convenient labels than follow interests or read what he/she/they would like to. As a reader – and not just of SF – I am in agreement with the author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, the writer David Mitchell who says that genre snobbery is a bizarre act of self-mutilation because, “It’s convenient to have a science fiction and fantasy section, it’s convenient to have a mainstream literary fiction section, but these should only be guides, they shouldn’t be demarcated territories where one type of reader belongs and another type of reader does not belong…What a shame. All those great books that you’re cutting yourself off from.”

(4) WEIMER DOUBLE-HEADER. Paul Weimer told Facebook readers:

If you thought “Self, I want to hear @PrinceJvstin on a podcast”, today is YOUR day.

You can hear Paul on @SFFAudio talking about @nevalalee’s Astounding – “The SFFaudio Podcast #522 – READALONG: Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee”

-AND-

On @SkiffyandFanty, he talks with their Hugo Finalist crew about Komarr — “Reading Rangers #10: Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold”.

Hello, Rangers! We’re back with everyone’s favorite Space Nancy Drew in Komarr! This time Stina, Paul, and Trish sit around the campfire to talk about women’s agency, budding relationships, whether or not Miles is “dad” material, how good intentions can go horribly, horribly wrong, the politics of isolationism, and more!

(5) KNOWING CAMPBELL. Stanley Schmidt’s guest editorial for Analog “John and Me” takes off from the “The Astounding John W. Campbell, Jr.” panel at last year’s Worldcon moderated by Alec Nevala-Lee. Schmidt’s views of Campbell’s work are very different than those of fellow panelist Robert Silverberg, and he says in closing —

…As for what kind of editing John was doing in his last years, my experience indicates that he was still doing the kinds of things he was famous for, and still doing them very well. It’s unfortunate that some of his personal idiosyncrasies drove away some of his best writers, but that’s a separate question from the quality of his work. Maybe I was fortunate that I didn’t know him personally before I started writing for him, or I might have found it harder, too—though I hope I wouldn’t have let my disagreements with him, even on big issues, make me reject him entirely as a person. I did disagree with his editorials more often in those years than I had earlier, but as far as I knew he was just doing the professional argument-baiting he had always done. Even if I had known that he really held beliefs that I found highly objectionable, I doubt that I would have found that adequate reason to sever all contact with him and his work. A lot of people hold misguided beliefs, but my experience, I think, is a good example of how it’s possible to work productively with somebody, and respect some of his qualities, even while sharply disagreeing with some of his views. Maybe that’s a lesson that a whole lot of people need to relearn about now.

(6) SLF READINGS. The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Deep Dish Reading Series in Chicago resumes on May 9.

(7) DOC WEIR AWARD. The Doc Weir Award is voted on by attendees at the Eastercon and is presented to a fan who has worked hard behind the scenes at conventions or in fandom and deserves recognition. As Fandom.com explains —

The award consists of a silver cup (which must be returned the following year) and a certificate (if someone remembers to create one!)

The cup is engraved with the names of the previous winners, and in fine fannish tradition, it is up to each year’s winner to have their own name engraved at their own cost!

Jamie Scott is the 2019 winner.

Bill Burns of eFanzines has more info on the Doc Weir Award, and a list of all winners from 1963 to 2018 here.

(8) 71ST EASTERCON. Next year’s UK Eastercon, called Concentric, will be in Birmingham at the Hilton Metropole (NEC).

(9) ON THE AIR. Eneasz Brodski offers a “Crash Course in Creating a Podcast” at Death Is Bad.

1. Bona fides

I’m Eneasz Brodski. I produce the Methods of Rationality podcast. It began as me, in my bedroom, with a lot of enthusiasm and a handheld mic after a few hours of research. As of this writing it’s been 6.5 years since I started. I’ve spent over 10,000 hours working on this podcast, I’ve produced over ninety hours of audio fiction spread across 185 episodes, totaling almost 4.5 million downloads. I’ve been a finalist for the Parsec Awards three times. I’ve never done professional audio work, but I have some idea of how to get an amateur podcast going.

(10) WOLFE’S MEANING. In a New Republic article, Jeet Heer declares “Gene Wolfe Was the Proust of Science Fiction”.

…News of Wolfe’s passing spread on the internet on Monday morning, as the first images of the fire at Notre-Dame also started circulating. Many Wolfe fans were struck by the coincidence. “Gene Wolfe is dead and Notre-Dame is engulfed in flames,” the writer Michael Swanwick tweeted. “This is the Devil’s own day.” Swanwick’s grief is understandable. Yet Wolfe himself might offer more consoling counsel. Death and life, his work often showed, are not so much opposites but partners, with the passing of the old being the precondition for the birth of the new. Cathedrals can burn but they can also be rebuilt, and in fact all cathedrals are in a constant state of maintenance and repair….

(11) MARTIN BÖTTCHER OBIT. German film composer Martin Böttcher (1927–2019) died April 19. Cora Buhlert pays tribute — “In Memoriam Martin Böttcher”.

…But Böttcher’s most famous film score would be the one he composed for Horst Wendlandt’s other series, the Winnetou movies of the 1960s, based on Karl May’s adventure novels. Ironically, Martin Böttcher himself had never read a single Winnetou novel, which must make him one of the very few Germans of his generation who did not read Karl May. When someone asked him why he didn’t read the novels, Böttcher answered, “I’ve seen every single Winnetou movie dozens of times. I know how the story goes. I don’t need to read it.”

I’ve written about the Winnetou movies and what they meant for several generations of Germans before, so let’s just listen to Martin Böttcher’s iconic Old Shatterhand theme….

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 22, 1916 Virginia Heinlein. Editor of Grumbles from the Grave. Also allowed Tramp Royale to be published after her husband’s death. And for some reason allowed longer versions of previously published works Stranger in a Strange Land, The Puppet Masters, and Red Planet to be published. Anyone read these? Used bookstores here frequently had copies of Stranger in a Strange Land so buyers didn’t hold on to it… (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1934 Sheldon Jaffery. Bibliographer who was a fan of Weird Tales, Arkham House books, pulps, and pretty much anything in that area. Among his publications are Collector’s Index to Weird Tales (co-written with Fred Cook), Future and Fantastic Worlds: A Bibliographical Retrospective of DAW Books (1972-1987) and Horrors and Unpleasantries: A Bibliographical History and Collector’s Price Guide to Arkham House. He also edited three anthologies which Bowling Green Press printed, to wit Sensuous Science Fiction from the Weird and Spicy PulpsSelected Tales of Grim and Grue from the Horror Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
  • Born April 22, 1946 John Waters, 73. Yes, he did horror films, lots of them. Shall we list them? There’s Multiple ManiacsSuburban GothicExcision, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat and Seed of Chucky. The latter described as a “supernatural black comedy horror film” on Wiki. He also narrates Of Dolls and Murder, a documentary film about a collection of dollhouse crime scenes created in the Forties and society’s collective fascination with death.
  • Born April 22, 1950 Robert Elswit, 69. Cinematographer. An early short film he worked on was a 1982 TV adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story “All Summer in a Day.” He began his career as a visual effects camera operator working on films like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Empire Strikes Back, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He worked on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  • Born April 22, 1959 Brian Taves, 60. Author of The Jules Verne Encyclopedia and Hollywood Presents Jules Verne: The Father of Science Fiction on Screen.  He also wrote Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure: A Critical Biography. Mundy is the author of the Jimgrim / Ramsden stories, a fantasy series. 
  • Born April 22, 1966 Jeffrey Dean Morgan,53. He’s best known for his roles as Dr. Edward Marcase in The Burning Zone, John Winchester on Supernatural, the Comedian in Watchmen, Negan on The Walking Dead  and Harvey Russell in Rampage. He also played Jeb Turnbull in Jonah Hex. And was Thomas Wayne in Batman v. Superman though he was uncredited for it. 
  • Born April 22, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 35. She appeared as the evil sorceress Nimueh in Merlin, and as Lady Christina de Souza in the Doctor Who episode “Planet of the Dead” in the era of the Tenth Doctor. She was also in the comedy film Cockneys vs Zombies as Katy,and played Elanor in Andron. And yes, they rebooted the Bionic Woman series in which she played the lead character Jaime Sommers. It lasted nine episodes. Points to who remembers the original actress without looking her up. 

(13) TV ON THE CHEAP Because Filers may still have time still available for consuming video content – yeah, right — ZDNet points you at the “10 best free video streaming services for cord cutters”.

It’s possible to watch a lot of excellent movies and TV shows for free — if you know how.

When cord-cutting became a thing, it was all about saving money. Today, cord-cutting costs are catching up with cable. Indeed, with Disney Plus coming, with its must-watch package of Marvel Universe, Star Wars, and Disney films, plus internet TV streaming services like AT&T DirecTV Now drastically raising its prices, I can easily see a cord cutter’s total viewing bill crossing the $100-a-month barrier. 

Fortunately, there are some answers.

There’s at least one inexpensive TV-bundling service: Philo TV. At $16 a month for three simultaneous streams of 45 popular channels, it’s a steal. But, if you can live with commercials, there are at least 10 good free streaming services to try.

(14) AFRICAN VOICES. CNN reports “Netflix to launch all girl superhero animation series from Africa”.

As part of its growing acquisition of content from Africa, Netflix has announced its first original African animated series – Mama K’s Team 4.

The series is produced by award-winning South Africa based studio, Triggerfish Animation, and London based kids and family entertainment specialist, CAKE.

Mama K’s Team 4 tells a story of four teenage girls living in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city. The girls are recruited by an ex-secret agent to save the world.

Designed by Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, the animation drew inspiration for the visuals from retro 90s hip hop girl groups, Netflix said in a statement announcing the deal….

(15) BY THE BOOK. Steve J. Wright has completed his Hugo Novel finalist reviews.

(16) COMMEMORATIVES. These BrexitStamps are over a year old – but news to me!

(17) NAVIGATING BY THE PUPPY CONSTELLATION. Lou Antonelli has launched a semiprozine for original sff, Sirius Science Fiction, which offers $25 for each original story upon publication.

WHO WE ARE

Sirius Science Fiction is an on-line web site dedicated to publishing original speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, alternate history and horror. We like stories with a sense of wonder and excitement.

In a time when mainstream speculative fiction has been overrun by political correctness and identity politics, we offer a venue free of pretension and ideological litmus tests.

Sirius Science Fiction publishes one original short story a week, plus occasional reprints. Original stories are posted every Friday.

(18) SPOILER WARNING. Well, beware if you’re a fluent Rot-13 speaker. Here’s the surprise ending to “Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 8” of Timothy the Talking Cat’s autobiography:

Fbba jr fnj gur Juvgr Pyvssf bs Qbire be ng yrnfg gung’f jung jr nffhzrq gurl jrer ohg rirelobql ryfr jnf fubhgvat “VPR ORET!” Orsber lbh pbhyq fubhg “zna gur yvsr obngf” gur fuvc jnf fvaxvat naq Pryvar Qvba jnf fvatvat naq rirelguvat jnf orpbzvat irel pbashfvat.

(19) YAKETY-YAK. Here’s some art by an Ursula Vernon admirer:

(20) OLD GAME. NPR tells how “For Mongolia’s Ice Shooters, Warmer Winters Mean A Shorter Sports Season”.

On a bright Sunday afternoon in early March, the Tamir River in the steppes of Mongola becomes a bowling alley. Two dozen Mongolian herdsmen have gathered to play musun shagai, known as “ice shooting.” Right now, the ice on the river is perfect. Clear and smooth. The players are cheerful and focused.

Their goal? To send a small copper puck called a zakh down a 93-yard stretch of ice and knock over several cow ankle bones, painted red, none bigger than a golf ball, at the other end. Extra points for hitting the biggest target, made of cow skin.

Together, the targets form a line of tiny red dots that are difficult to see, let alone hit. When that happens, players know because the spectators raise a boisterous cheer.

…This competition, originally scheduled for mid-March, was bumped up by two weeks. “The river was already melting,” Gurvantamir said.

(21) IRON ART. Lots of photos accompany NPR’s feature “The Beauty And The Power Of African Blacksmiths”.

In the fictional world of Marvel’s Black Panther, the Afro-futurist utopia of Wakanda has a secret, almost magical resource: a metal called vibranium. Its mythic ability to store energy elevated vibranium to a central role in the fictional nation’s culture and the metal became part of Wakandan technology, fashion and ceremony.

Of course vibranium isn’t real. But one metal has held a similarly mythic role for over 2,000 years in many cultures across the African continent: iron.

African blacksmiths have been crafting agricultural tools, musical instruments, weapons and symbols of power and prestige out of the raw material for ages. “Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths,” a new exhibit at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. showcases Africa’s rich history of ironworking through 225 tools, weapons and adornments from over 100 ethnic groups across Africa.

(22) SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. “SpaceX capsule suffers ‘anomaly’ during tests in Florida”.

SpaceX has confirmed that its Crew Dragon capsule suffered an “anomaly” during routine engine tests in Florida.

A US Air Force spokesperson told local press the incident, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, had been contained and no-one had been injured.

An unmanned Crew Dragon successfully flew for the first time last month.

This latest incident, however, could delay plans to launch a manned mission to the International Space Station later this year.

Not since the end of the Space Shuttle programme in 2011 has the US been able to send its own astronauts into orbit. It has had to rely instead on Russia and its Soyuz spacecraft.

(23) A ‘STAN LEE’ MOMENT. Daniel Dern asks:

Wanna get caught up on the Avengers: Endgame related comics… or just overload your eyeballs and brain in general?

Try a month of the Marvel Unlimited streaming comic service for $4.99 (normall $9.99/month, jumps to that if you don’t cancel). ~ 25,000 digitized Marvel comics (ranging from from-the-beginning-of-time through at-least-six-months-old).

Best on, sigh, a tablet that can view a comic full size, like the non-cheap iPad Pro 12.9. (which is why I bought one a year or so ago).

(24) AFTER SHAKESPEARE. This is far beyond what prompted Independence Day’s Wil Smith to demand, “What’s that smell?” “Nathan Lane Cleans Up Broadway’s Biggest Pile of Dead Bodies in ‘Gary: a Sequel to Titus Andronicus’”.

Even before the lushly designed curtain rises on Taylor Mac’s Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, which opens Sunday night on Broadway (at the Booth Theatre, to Aug. 4), the fluids start shooting forth.

A woman appears and begins to spurt blood from her slashed neck. The blood flies out sporadically, and this looks a little precarious if you are in the front two rows. The woman, inevitably raspy of voice given her injury, muses on the nature of sequels and revenge.

Then the curtain rises on one of the great stage designs of this Broadway season. The sight of hundreds of human bodies immediately confronts the audience….

In this banqueting hall turned charnel house, there is the prosaically named Gary (Nathan Lane), a former clown now turned laborer, here to do some tidying up of bodies before the inauguration of a new leader the next day. “Bit more of them than I was expecting,” he says of the bodies. His voice is Cockney. Lane—orbiting in his brilliant way from shy to showman, naughty schoolboy to moral fulcrum—at first seems like a mischief-maker, bored on the job and up for fun.

The fourth wall stays permeable throughout; the actors stare out at us, puzzled at our applause….

(25) DERAILERS. ScreenRant shares “10 Superhero Deleted Scenes That Could Have Changed Everything.”

Deleted scenes in movies are fun to watch but they are even more fun to watch when they are from superhero films. Instead of arguing over which Universe you enjoy more, DC or Marvel, sit back and watch these deleted scenes and let us know what you think in the comments below. Let’s take a look at Screen Rant’s video, ten Superhero Deleted Scenes That Could Have Changed Everything. And we have the plot holes from some of your favorite movies including the X-Men series, Marvel’s Iron Man, the Hugh Jackman film Logan, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice plus many more.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, World Weary, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 3/1/19 Rotating PixelScrolls And The Possibility Of Global File Violation

Editor’s note: Although I have been at this computer all day it’s included writing other posts, so a lot of good links will need to be carried over til tomorrow!

(1) AGAIN PLEASE. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a sequel to the Emily Blunt-Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow is happening. Original director Doug Liman and both stars are returning for the second movie:

Edge of Tomorrow was based on the Hiroshi Sakurazaka manga All You Need Is Kill, and somewhat controversially, was rebranded as its tagline Live. Die. Repeat. on home entertainment. The film was not considered a runaway hit commercially, making $370 million globally on a $178 budget, but it was a success with critics and has grown in popularity over the years on home entertainment. Liman, Cruise and Blunt continue to get asked about sequel possibilities in interviews, and have all spoken publicly about their interest in returning.

(2) VOTE FOR BOTH. Catherynne Valente tweeted extensively about the indie/trad worlds today. Not in a thread, here are some of the things she said —

(3) DIALOGUE. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and Annie Bellet exchanged tweets today. (Unfortunately, in cases like this WordPress reproduces pairs of tweets, leading to unintended repetition of the message replied to.)

(The “he” in the last tweet is Jonathan Brazee.)

(4) RACISM? Mary Anne Mohanraj raised the question of whether the recent Nebula Awards controversy includes an element of racism in a public Facebook post:

Please imagine that you are a newer writer from Sri Lanka, a brown man from a small island country with a *tiny* publishing industry, a man who has recently been notified that you’ve received a Nebula nomination. You are, of course, over the moon with excitement. You are perhaps scrambling to figure out if there’s any way you can afford the exorbitant cost of a ticket to get to the Nebulas from Sri Lanka (keeping in mind exchange rates as well, which makes said ticket cost ten times as it much as it would for an American traveling to Sri Lanka). It’s going to be hard, but still, overall, you’re so very happy. It is wonderful news, that the largely American-dominated SF/F publishing scene might actually be open to someone like you.

Then some random white lady (random as far as you know, because you aren’t actually up on the minutiae and history of a particular award in another country halfway across the world) starts yelling on Twitter about the nominations, and specifically, about the fact that you and a few other people got nominated…

…Some people in the field have been sharply critical of one of the nominated authors being what they see as condescending in his response to Bellet. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. But he definitely wasn’t swearing back at her — he was, in my opinion, incredibly restrained, considering the flood of vituperative abuse Bellet was hurling at him, at the other nominees, and at the people who nominated them.

Now look. Bellet went through a very rough time, and it’s perhaps understandable that she might come out swinging, and swearing. I’m not going to condemn her for that, necessarily, though I think she misread the situation to some extent. Marko Kloos went through a similarly rough decision then, and he deserves slack on this too.

But EVERYBODY else? They could take the time to read and research a little before leaping in on her side against someone they knew nothing about. Is this what we are in the field? A mob that will leap to the defense of one of our own, regardless of the rightness of her cause?

I don’t actually think Bellet meant to be racist — she didn’t single out the Sri Lankan writer. But it is easy to see how it looked that way to people on the other side of the planet.

There are a host of Sri Lankan writers now wondering if THIS is what science fiction publishing is in America. There are already some of them convinced that this was a racist attack against a brown-skinned writer. They are wondering if the field really is as racist as it seems.

Many of them believe this is emblematic of a field and an industry that WE ALL KNOW still has incredibly large disparities in who gets to get published. No matter how loudly we shout #weneeddiversebooks and talk about supporting #ownvoices. I have spent several HOURS in the last few days talking them down, and I cannot blame them for leaping to that conclusion when they are met with such violent language, and such immediate closing of ranks.

N.K. Jemisin made this comment in responset:

Mary Anne, I have a lot of sympathy for the Sri Lankan writer (not sure why we’re not mentioning his name, but I’ll adhere to your convention here). That said, in the scenario you’re asking me to imagine, I would not have rolled in the way he did. Upon seeing an established writer showing every sign of being really pissed off about some past incident — she mentions the Puppies, etc. — I would be diplomatic and at least try to figure out why she’s so upset before immediately leaping to the conclusion that it’s specifically about me. This guy wasn’t diplomatic. He was condescending and there’s no maybe about it. (Among other things, he called her a petulant child for being angry, which feels to me like a one-two combo of tone policing and chauvanism, because I don’t often hear men getting called children just for dropping f-bombs.) I think it’s a misread of the situation to say that Bellet was yelling *at him,* at least initially. It seemed clear enough to me that she was angry with whoever had created and pushed the slate. She never said anything different.

Now granted, I might be more sympathetic to her because my first reaction to finding out about the whole thing was a lot of swearing on Twitter, too! But after reading your post, I’m left trying to figure out what you’re advocating, here, as a better way to have handled it. Are you asking for people still smarting from a recent past incident to not express anger about a fresh trigger? That feels like a lot to ask. For people angry about group wrongdoing to not single out the writers of color? She didn’t, as you note; things only got ugly after he got snitty with her, to start. For people angry about group wrongdoing to consider how it feels to be a newbie caught up in the mess? There’s no one who would understand that better than Bellet and Kloos, and I read their initial anger as anger *on behalf of* the newbies, not *at* them.

I am 100% supportive of more writers of color coming into this field! More writers from other countries, esp SE Asia! All in. But this guy jumped into what was essentially an ongoing conversation about the past few years’ worth of stuff, and reacted as if it was about him, personally. That’s not a misread on Bellet and Kloos’ parts.

Personally, I think this whole business is the result of a culture clash: anything-goes indie writers versus a (indie and tradpub) community that at least *thinks* of itself as merit-focused. The anything-goes writers really should’ve done some field research before they jumped in and tried to plant a flag on merit-focused ground; this mess is the result. I think this writer’s interaction with Bellet is a microcosmic example of the overall problem.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 1, 1856 — Charles Dodgson chooses his pseudonym-Lewis Carroll.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 1, 1938 Michael Kurland, 81. His The Unicorn Girl was the middle volume of the Greenwich Village trilogy by three different authors, the other two being Chester Anderson and T.A. Waters. Kurland has also written genre novels including Ten Little Wizards and A Study in Sorcery, set in the world of Garrett’s Lord Darcy. His other genre novels are Ten Years to Doomsday (written with Chester Anderson), Tomorrow Knight, Pluribus and Perchance.
  • Born March 1, 1941 Martin Greenberg. Founder of Gnome Press who’s not to be confused with Martin H Greenberg. Not on Asimov’s list of favorite people despite being the first publisher of the Foundation series. Not paying authors is a bad idea. (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 1, 1950 David Pringle, 69. Pringle served as the editor of Foundation  during the Eighties which In turned spawned Interzone durning that time. The Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on Interzone.  With Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, he also edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late late Seventies through the mid Eighties. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare  and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. I also note that he’s not published anything listed on ISFDB in the field of late. Any idea why?  
  • Born March 1, 1952 Steven Barnes,67. Co-writer with Niven of the Dream Park series. I read the first two when they came out thirty years ago, not bad at all. Their Heorot series isn’t bad either. I’ve not read him on his own so cannot say how he is as a solo writer. I see he’s git a spot of series writing having done work for The Outer Limits, Andromeda and Stargate SG-1
  • Born March 1, 1956 Tim Daly, 63. He voiced Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent in Superman: The Animated Series, plus Superman: Brainiac Attacks, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Superman / Batman: Apocalypse and Justice League: Doom. He has appeared in Dr. Jekyll and Ms. HydeAfter DarknessMade in Heaven and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

(7) WHAT SHAKESPEARE READ. Fascinating research — “Plagiarism Software Unveils a New Source for 11 of Shakespeare’s Plays” in the New York Times.

“If it proves to be what they say it is, it is a once-in-a-generation — or several generations — find,” said Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.

The findings were made by Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter, who describe them in a book to be published next week by the academic press D. S. Brewer and the British Library. The authors are not suggesting that Shakespeare plagiarized but rather that he read and was inspired by a manuscript titled “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels,” written in the late 1500s by George North, a minor figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth, who served as an ambassador to Sweden.

(8) PICKING A RESPONSE. Hillary Monahan discusses a now-commonplace social media dilemma. Thread starts here.

(9) ANOTHER THING LARRY CORREIA IS SENSITIVE TO. Larry Correia read that Kosoko Jackson pulled his book and issued an apology for having offended people (see details in the Reason.com article linked by yesterday’s Scroll). Jackson’s work as a sensitivity reader seems to have inspired Corriea’s Monster Hunter Nation response — “’Sensitivity Readers’ Are Bullshit, and You Are A Sucker If You Believe Them” [Internet Archive link]. Of course, Correia thinks the very idea of sensitivity is bullshit, and you’d be mistaken if you thought this was supposed to be a defense of Jackson.

…Note, these Sensitivity Readers are always the typical progressive buzzword vultures, looking for racist/sexist/homophobic microaggressions, because it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has ever read a book from mainstream publishing that they don’t give a shit about offending any other group… Or even getting their basic facts right about anybody who isn’t Team Blue.

Seriously, I specifically set MHI in Alabama because of how sick and tired I was of how southerners are always portrayed as ignorant redneck hicks in most fiction. And I’m a westerner (though I lived there long enough Alabamans adopted me). Where are the “Sensitivity Readers” for combat vets? Where are the “Sensitivity Readers” for Christians? Or gun-nuts? (holy shit, these people are bad at writing action scenes, so they really could use that one)

(10) THE HECK YOU SAY. Mashable has some thoughts about the new “red band” (mature audiences only) trailer for the Hellboy reboot (“‘Hellboy’ unleashes apocalyptic trailer with monsters and blood aplenty”). Check out their opinion at that link, or skip right to the trailer on YouTube. In either case, get ready to rock out to some Deep Purple… OK, a Deep Purple cover band. The movie is set for a 12 April release.

(11) WHERE TO GET YOUR CLICKS. Juan Sanmiguel asked:

It means that after reading my latest post a Filer hasn’t completely given up hope that somebody will come along and write something interesting!

(12) HE SHRIEKED. Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! and witnessed this:

Answer: This Edith Hull bestseller about forbidden love in the desert became a 1921 film starring Rudolph Valentino.

Wrong question: “What is ‘The Thief of Baghdad’?”

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