Pixel Scroll 1/20/19 Pix-El: The Man of Scroll

(1) TOLKIEN RESEARCH SURVEY. Robin Anne Reid of the Department of Literature and Languages at Texas A&M University-Commerce is continuing to collect surveys for the project mentioned in the January 11 Scroll (item 2) – “I have 42 but more would be nice.”

The link leads to Reid’s academic Dreamwidth page for the informed consent information. The link from there goes to SurveyMonkey. Reid’s cover letter says: 

Hello: I am a professor of Literature and Languages at Texas A&M University-Commerce (TAMUC) who is doing a research project. The project asks how readers of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium who are at least eighteen years old and who are atheists, agnostics, animists, or part of New Age movements interpret his work in the context of the common assumption that Tolkien’s Catholic beliefs must play a part in what readers see as the meaning of his fiction.

I have created a short survey which consists of ten open-ended questions about your religious and/or spiritual background, your experiences of Tolkien’s work, and your ideas about the relationship between religious beliefs and interpreting his work. It would take anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours to complete the survey, depending on how much you write in response to the questions.  The survey is uploaded to my personal account at Survey Monkey: only I will have access to the responses. My research proposal has been reviewed by the TAMUC Institutional Review Board.

If you are eighteen years or older, and are an atheist, agnostic, animist, or part of a New Age movement that emphasizes spirituality but not a creator figure, you are invited to go to my academic blog to see more information about the survey. The survey will be open from December 1, 2018-January 31, 2019, closing at 11:30 PM GMT-0500 Central Daylight Time.

Complete information about the project and how your anonymity and privacy will be protected can be found at by clicking on the link:


(2) RETRO READING. The Hugo Award Book Club‘s Olav Rokne recalls: “The Retro-Hugo for Best Graphic Story was overlooked by enough nominators that it failed to be awarded last year. That’s a real shame, because I can tell you that there was a lot of work that’s worth celebrating. It’s actually quite sad that it was forgotten last year, and I’m sincerely hoping that people don’t neglect the category this year.” That’s the reason for his recommended reading post  “Retro Hugo – Best Graphic Story 1944”.  

(3) A FEMINIST SFF ROUNDUP. Cheryl Morgan gives an overview of 2018 in “A Year In Feminist Speculative Fiction” at the British Science Fiction Association’s Vector blog. Morgan’s first recommendation —

Top of the list for anyone’s feminist reading from 2018 must be Maria Dahvana Headley’s amazing re-telling of Beowulf, The Mere Wife. Set in contemporary America, with a gated community taking the place of Heorot Hall, and a policeman called Ben Wolfe in the title role, it uses the poem’s story to tackle a variety of issues. Chief among them is one of translation. Why is it that Beowulf is always described as a hero, whereas Grendel’s Mother is a hag or a wretch? In the original Anglo-Saxon, the same word is used to describe both of them. And why do white women vote for Trump? The book tackles both of those questions, and more. I expect to see it scooping awards.

(4) HONEY, YOU GOT TO GET THE SCIENCE RIGHT. Where have I heard that before? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is netting all kinds of awards, but writing for CNN, physicist Don Lincoln opines that, “‘Spider-verse’ gets the science right — and wrong.” Of course, this is an animated movie and maybe Don is a bit of a grump.

CNN—(Warning: Contains mild spoilers) 

As a scientist who has written about colliding black holes and alien space probes, I was already convinced I was pretty cool. But it wasn’t until I sat down to watch “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” that I understood the extent of my own coolness. There on the screen was fictional scientific equipment that was clearly inspired by the actual apparatus that my colleagues and I use to try to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Amid the action, the coming-of-age story, a little romance and a few twists and turns, the movie shows a fictional gadget located in New York City called a collider, which connects parallel universes and brings many different versions of Spider-Man into a single universe.

(5) SFF TV EDITOR. CreativeCOW.net features a rising star in “Editing SYFY”.

When talking about her career path, you get the immediate sense that rejection isn’t a “no” for Shiran Amir. There’s never been an obstacle that’s kept her from living her dream. Shattering ceiling after glass ceiling, she makes her rise up through the ranks look like a piece of cake. However, her story is equal parts strategy and risk – and none of it was easy.

After taking countless chances in her career, of which some aspiring editors don’t see the other side, she has continually pushed herself to move onward and upward. She’s been an assistant editor on Fear the Walking Dead, The OA, and Outcast to name a few, before becoming a full-fledged editor of Z Nation for SyFy, editing the 4th and 9th episodes of the zombie apocalypse show’s final season, with its final episode airing December 28, 2018. She’s currently on the Editors Guild Board of Directors and is involved in the post-production community in Los Angeles.

And she’s only 30 years old.

(6) ARISIA. Bjo Trimble poses with fans in Star Trek uniforms.

The con also overcame horrible weather and other challenges:

And here’s a further example of the Arisia’s antiharassment measures:


(7) EXTRA CREDITS. The Extra Credits Sci Fi series on YouTube began Season 3 with “Tolkien and Herbert – The World Builder”

Mythic worldbuilding and intentionality just weren’t staples of science fiction until the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert were published. We’ll be doing an analysis of The Lord of the Rings and Dune, respectively–works that still stand out today because they are meticulously crafted.

Here are links to playlists for the first two seasons:

  • The first season covered the origins of SF up to John Campbell.
  • The second season covered the Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke era up to the start of the New Wave.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 20, 1884 A. Merritt. Early pulp writer whose career consisted of eight complete novels and a number of short stories. Gutenberg has all of all his novels and most of his stories available online.  H. P. Lovecraft notes in a letter that he was a major influence upon his writings, and a number of authors including Michael Moorcock and Robert Bloch list him as being among their favorite authors. 
  • Born January 20, 1920 DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” being his only ones as he didn’t do SF Really preferring Westerners. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 20, 1926 Patricia Neal. Best known to genre buffs for her film role as World War II widow Helen Benson in The Day the Earth Stood Still. She also appeared in Stranger from Venus, your usual British made flying saucer film. She shows up in the Eighties in Ghost Story based off a Peter Straub novel, and she did an episode of The Ghost Story series which was later retitled Circle Of Fear in hopes of getting better ratings (it didn’t, it was cancelled).  If Kung Fu counts as genre, she did an appearance there. (Died 2010)
  • Born January 20, 1934 Tom Baker, 85. The Fourth Doctor and my introduction to Doctor Who. My favorite story? The Talons of Weng Chiang with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worse of the stories, and there were truly shitty stories, were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. He did have a turn before being the Fourth Doctor as Sherlock Holmes In The Hound of the Baskervilles, and though not genre, he turns up as Rasputin early in his career in Nicholas and Alexandra! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low budget films early on such as The Vault of HorrorThe Golden Voyage of SinbadThe MutationsThe Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech made  Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born January 20, 1946 David Lynch, 73. Director of possibly the worst SF film ever made from a really great novel in the form of Dune. Went on to make Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me which is possibly one of the weirdest films ever made. (Well with Blue Velvet being a horror film also vying for top honors as well.) Oh and I know that I didn’t mention Eraserhead. You can talk about that film.
  • Born January 20, 1948Nancy Kress, 71. Best known for her Hugo and Nebula Award winning Beggars in Spain and its sequels. Her latest novel is If Tomorrow Comes: Book 2 in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy.
  • Born January 20, 1958 Kij Johnson, 61. Writer and associate director of The Center for the Study of Science Fiction the University of Kansas English Department which is I must say a cool genre thing indeed. She’s also worked for Tor, TSR and Dark Horse. Wow. Where was I? Oh about to mention her writings… if you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories
  • Born January 20, 1964 Francesca Buller, 55. Performer and wife of Ben Browder, yes that’s relevant as she’s been four different characters on Farscape, to wit she played the characters of Minister Ahkna, Raxil, ro-NA and M’Lee. Minister Ahkn is likely the one you remember her as being. Farscape is her entire genre acting career.  

(9) IS BRAM STOKER SPINNING? It’s all about Scott Edelman:

(10) MAGICON. Fanac.org has added another historic video to its YouTube channel: “MagiCon (1992) Worldcon – Rusty Hevelin interviews Frank Robinson.”

MagiCon, the 50th Worldcon, was held in Orlando, Florida in 1992. In this video, Rusty Hevelin interviews fan, editor and author Frank Robinson on his career, both fannish and professional and on the early days of science fiction. Frank talks about the war years, the fanzines he published, the Ray Palmer era in magazines, his time at Rogue Magazine and lots more. Highlights include: working with Ray Palmer, discussion on the line between fan and pro writing, the story of George Pal’s production of ‘The Power’ from Frank’s story of that name, and Frank’s views on the impact of science fiction and of fantasy. Frank Robinson was a true devotee of the field – “Science fiction can change the world.”

(11) MUONS VS. MEGS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]Those cheering for the stupid-large shark in last year’s The Meg, may now know what to blame for the lack of megalodons in the current age. A story in Quanta Magazine (“How Nearby Stellar Explosions Could Have Killed Off Large Animals”) explains a preprint paper (“Hypothesis: Muon Radiation Dose and Marine Megafaunal Extinction at the End-Pliocene Supernova”). Using iron-60 as a tracer, supernovae have been tracked to a time of mass extinction at the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary 2.6 million years ago. The paper’s authors make the leap from that to a hypothesis that a huge spike in muons that would have occurred when supernova radiation slammed into Earth’s atmosphere could have contributed to that extinction.

Even though Earth is floating in the void, it does not exist in a vacuum. The planet is constantly bombarded by stuff from space, including a daily deluge of micrometeorites and a shower of radiation from the sun and more-distant stars. Sometimes, things from space can maim or kill us, like the gargantuan asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. More often, stellar smithereens make their way to Earth and the moon and then peacefully settle, remaining for eternity, or at least until scientists dig them up.

[…] But the search for cosmic debris on Earth has a long history. Other researchers have demonstrated that it’s possible to find fossil evidence of astrophysical particles in Earth’s crust. Some researchers are pondering how these cosmic events affect Earth — even whether they have altered the course of evolution. A new study suggests that energetic particles from an exploding star may have contributed to the extinction of a number of megafauna, including the prehistoric monster shark megalodon, which went extinct at around the same time.

“It’s an interesting coincidence,” said Adrian Melott, an astrophysicist at the University of Kansas and the author of a new paper.

(12) STEPPING UP. “Girl Scouts of America offers badge in cybersecurity” – a BBC video report.

Girl Scouts of America is now offering girls as young as five a badge in cybersecurity.

It’s part of a drive to get more girls involved in science, technology engineering and mathematics from a young age.

An event in Silicon Valley gave scouts an opportunity to earn the first patch in the activity, with the help of some eggs.

(13) A LITTLE GETAWAY. The BBC asks “Is this the least romantic weekend ever?”

The road runs straight and black into the gloom of the snowy birch forest. It is -5C (23F), the sky is slate-grey and we’re in a steamy minibus full of strangers. Not very romantic you’re thinking, and I haven’t yet told you where we’re going.

My wife, Bee, had suggested a cheeky New Year break. Just the two of us, no kids. “Surprise me,” she’d said.

Then I met a bloke at a friend’s 50th. He told me how much he and his girlfriend had enjoyed a trip to Chernobyl – that’s right, the nuclear power station that blew up in the 1980s, causing the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history.

“Don’t worry,” my new friend declared, a large glass of wine in his hand. “It’s safe now.”

Well, she’d said she’d like something memorable…

(14) HARRIMAN REDUX. BBC considers the question — “Chang’e-4: Can anyone ‘own’ the Moon?”

Companies are looking at mining the surface of the Moon for precious materials. So what rules are there on humans exploiting and claiming ownership?

It’s almost 50 years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. “That’s one small step for a man,” the US astronaut famously said, “one giant leap for mankind.”

Shortly afterwards, his colleague Buzz Aldrin joined him in bounding across the Sea of Tranquility. After descending from the steps of the Eagle lunar module, he gazed at the empty landscape and said: “Magnificent desolation.”

Since the Apollo 11 mission of July 1969, the Moon has remained largely untouched – no human has been there since 1972. But this could change soon, with several companies expressing an interest in exploring and, possibly, mining its surface for resources including gold, platinum and the rare earth minerals widely used in electronics.

(15) UNIDENTIFIED FEDERAL OUTLAYS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Piggybacking on a Washington Post article (paywalled here) and a Vice article (freely available here), SYFY Wire says, “The government’s secret UFO program has just been revealed, and it’s something out of a sci-fi movie.”

We didn’t know much about the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program until now, but apparently, the Department of Defense has been focusing its efforts far beyond potential threats on Earth.

The Defense Intelligence Agency has finally let the public in on at least some of what it’s been up to by recently releasing a list of 38 research titles that range from the weird to the downright bizarre. It would have never revealed these titles—on topics like invisibility cloaking, wormholes and extradimensional manipulation—if it wasn’t for the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request put in by the director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Society, Steven Aftergood.

(16) STANDING TALL. BBC traces “How Japan’s skyscrapers are built to survive earthquakes” in a photo gallery with some interesting tech info. “Japan is home to some of the most resilient buildings in the world – and their secret lies in their capacity to dance as the ground moves beneath them.”

The bar is set by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. This was a large earthquake – of magnitude 7.9 – that devastated Tokyo and Yokohama, and killed more than 140,000 people.

For earthquakes of a greater magnitude than this benchmark, preserving buildings perfectly is no longer the goal. Any damage that does not cause a human casualty is acceptable.

“You design buildings to protect people’s lives,” says Ziggy Lubkowski, a seismic specialist at University College London. “That’s the minimum requirement.”

(17) ORDER IN THE TINY BRICK COURT. SYFY Wire reports “Ruth Bader Ginsburg will uphold the Constitution in Lego Movie 2: The Second Part cameo”.

If nothing else, the upcoming sequel to The Lego Movie will adhere strictly to the legal confines of the U.S. Constitution.

That’s because 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will have a cameo as a black-robed, law-defining minifigure in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, according to the film’s director, Mike Mitchell.

“These movies are so full of surprises. And we were thinking, ‘Who’s the last person you would think to see in a Lego film as a minifig?’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg!” Mitchell told USA Today. “And we’re all huge fans. It made us laugh to think of having her enter this world.”

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

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74 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/20/19 Pix-El: The Man of Scroll

  1. Andrew says I think Catholics acknowledge that miracle (and several other raisings from the dead by Apostles), though I could be wrong.

    No idea. He didn’t seem inclined to argue the finer points of Catholic theological underpinnings with me as he was truly offended at the idea that I believed I died. (Mind I wasn’t, and still aren’t, terribly thrilled that I did.) It appeared to be a great spiritual offence to him.

  2. No, I didn’t think of that excellent rejoinder. Do Catholics acknowledge the story of Lazarus?

    Yes. And those of us who have actually been paying attention to the scripture readings during Mass know there are two other people who weren’t Jesus who came back-from-the-dead in the New Testament: the daughter of the synagogue official, and the adult son (and only child) of a widow. The Old Testament has a young child being brought back to life by one of the prophets. (Elijah I think, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.)

  3. Mega Meredith Moment:

    Diane Duane, whose Tale of the Five series is eligible for nomination for Best Series this year, is making e-copies of all three novels and the novella available at a 75% discount at E-books Direct until March 15 with the use of the discount code HUGONOM (total cost $18.96 discounted to $4.75, $1.25 for each of the novels, and $1 for the novella).

    (the books are also available at Amazon and other retailers, but not at a discount)

  4. Andrew says to me I think I speak for many here when I say I’m glad you came back…

    Thank you. File 770 and its community has been important to me over the past sixteen months. The Birthdays and your reactions to them have been most satisfying.

  5. @Cat Eldridge–

    That might be the way he was but it’s not true of all Catholics. I’ve run into more than a few who believe that spreading the Faith is their mission in life.

    And I had one Catholic that was really upset with me when I told him I had died as he said I couldn’t have died and come back as only one person had done that.

    Cat, there’s roughly a billion Catholics on the planet, and since cloning is not really a thing yet, they’re all individuals. Some of them are stuipid or fanatical individuals. But, as a general rule of thumb, people raised in a religion, Catholicism as well as most others, tend to be a lot more relaxed about “sharing” it in pushy ways.

    Do Catholics acknowledge the story of Lazarus?


    Indeed, it’s a favorite Bible story, along with the related story of Mary and Martha. Features in the normal rotation of Bible readings in the Mass, gets told to children…honestly, I don’t think you need to bother much about a Catholic, so-called, who is apparently unaware of it. Or perhaps he just didn’t think of it in that context at that moment, but still, that’s on him, not you.

    People are individuals. People vary lots,

    But, speaking in broad generalities, Tolkien’s behavior in this regard is more typical of people raised in a religion, and Lewis’s is more typical of converts. Yes, there are exceptions and aberrations in both directions. Doesn’t matter; doesn’t change the point I was making–which was not about absolute and invariable rules.

  6. @Andrew: I’m guessing you disagree with putting The Magician’s Nephew first (which I have seen in some cases and not in others); why do you object, given Lewis’s statement that he didn’t write to a particular plan?

  7. @Chip: In Wardrobe, the characters and the readers are presented with a series of wonders, such as the Lantern Wastes and the wardrobe itself. Reading Nephew first gives away the origin of the wonders, giving away answers before the questions are even raised. Once you’ve read all the books in publication order (as the boy Laurence did in fact did) there’s no harm in rereading them in any order, but Nephew is a poor introduction to Narnia (compared to Wardrobe) for a newcomer.

  8. I agree with Andrew on Narnia reading order, for just the reasons he gives. In fact I’d say that this is a special case of the general rule that all series are best read in the order that they were published. (As with any general rule, it may admit of one or two exceptions – Discworld is generally agreed to have begun with two of the weaker series entries, although even there it’s not so much a matter of reordering as of judicious skipping.)

  9. I prefer to start with The Dark Is Rising before Over Sea, Under Stone in Susan Cooper’s series, and that is the order they were published in Sweden.

    Discworld, I only liked the first two books and then Mort. I skipped out on the series afer ten books as I found the rest of them kind of boring

  10. I accidentally started with The Dark Is Rising, then I got an omnibus volume of the series and that’s when I found out it was the 2nd book. I would agree that it’s a good book to begin the series with.

  11. I can think of a few series that I do prefer to read in internal chronological order rather than published order — C.S. Forester’s Hornblower books are a prime example, as are Leiber’s Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories and Moorcock’s Elric. But in all three of those cases, when I first encountered the series I did so in the form of a chronologically-arranged fix-up version.

    Narnia for me is a special case in the other direction because even though the events in Magician’s Nephew happen prior to Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the narration in Magician’s Nephew happens after LWW — there are multiple points where the narrator, in an aside, mentions events from earlier-published books in the series.

  12. (And even with Leiber there’s a strong case to be made for skipping at least the first couple of stories in the (chronologically) first book — the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser solo origin stories, that is.)

  13. IIRC, when Cooper wrote Over Sea Under Stone, she didn’t actually know she was going to tie it to a whole other then-nonexistent series, and the Dark Is Rising was consciously written as the first of a series of books before she realised her other book would connect after all, and brought its characters in to meet Will Stanton. So it makes a good entry because it was planned as one. And it is a splendid book.

    And I am reminded of the supposed reason Steven Brust wrote Dragon the way he did: Specifically to thwart people who are too locked into wanting to read a series in its exact internal chronological order. (For those who don’t know, the story interweaves two timelines, which occur several novels apart in the general Dragaeran continuity.)

    Of course, considering the second book he wrote of that series occurs chronologically before the first, so he’s been toying with the order of events for a long time… but I started with Taltos and it rocked (fourth written, first chronologically even once you account for Dragon).

    Internal chronology is a tricky beast and there are many many ways to decide which way works best for you. I *accidentally* started the Mageworlds series with the book that happens first in the entire storyline, well before the (first-written) trilogy that is usually agreed upon as the best entry point, and it did me no serious harm. It was the book I could find, and the foreword gave me enough context that I figured it was a reasonable beginning point.

    (Now that I think on it, I think I started with the Grey King and went back…)

    On the other hand, Pamela Dean’s Secret Country Trilogy should NOT be started with the second book, which for some weird reason was all our library had of that trilogy, and after Tam Lin I really wanted more of her work.

  14. @Chip: “…why do you object, given Lewis’s statement that he didn’t write to a particular plan?”

    Besides what Andrew said, “the author didn’t have a specific intent” isn’t at all a counter-argument to “what the author actually did works a certain way and will work less well if you rearrange it.” Especially when you’re talking about storytelling, where there are intuitive concerns that tend to produce certain patterns even when (or especially when) you’re not conscious of what you’re doing. In this case, Lewis decided to start telling a story at a certain point, and proceeded in a way that makes the most sense if the audience did in fact come in at that point.

  15. @Joe H.

    I can think of a few series that I do prefer to read in internal chronological order rather than published order — C.S. Forester’s Hornblower books are a prime example, as are Leiber’s Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories and Moorcock’s Elric. But in all three of those cases, when I first encountered the series I did so in the form of a chronologically-arranged fix-up version.

    (And even with Leiber there’s a strong case to be made for skipping at least the first couple of stories in the (chronologically) first book — the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser solo origin stories, that is.)

    I think most of us first encountered Fafhrd and Mouser as well as Elric that way, unless we happened to read the original stories when they appeared. As for Hornblower, I first read him as a kid in the hardcover books my parents had on their shelves and don’t really remember whether they were fix-ups or not, though they probably were.

    Regarding Fafhrd and Gray Mouser’s origin stories, the Fafhrd origin novella is skippable IMO, since it’s not all that good and also makes Fafhrd look like something of a jerk. Plus, the villainous matriarchy keeping men down left a bad taste in mouth (and I just reread them last summer – reread “The Sunken Land” for the Retro Hugos and got sucked in).

    Mouser’s origin story “The Unholy Grail” is very good, though it doesn’t always quite fit in with hints of Mouser’s background given in the rest of the series. I also noticed that “The Unholy Grail” was one story I remembered very clearly thirty years or so after I first read it, while many of the others blurred together.

    But “Ill Met in Lankhmar” is also an excellent start to the series and a great story in general.

  16. @Cora — Well, for Hornblower, fix-up is probably too strong a word. But Forester wrote the three Captain books (Beat to Quarters, Ship of the Line, Flying Colours) and then went back and filled things in with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower et al.; and when I found the books in the public library, there were three omnibus volumes and obviously you’d start with him just joining the navy …

    Yeah, I believe you’re right on all counts about “The Unholy Grail”.

  17. Lis Carey on January 21, 2019 at 2:34 pm said:


    I’m a 3rd-gen SF fan, and I genuinely had no idea people still believed in gods (at least in the Industrial World) till I was about 8. I thought that going to church was just something people did because of bizarre social conventions, like wearing ties. Something that made no sense, but people didn’t want to rock the boat or seem weird.

    Yes, it’s no favor to kids to let them grow up with zero awareness that there are normal, intelligent people who look at the world differently than their own family does.

    Oh I certainly knew that! It was the late sixties, and I lived in Berkeley! Plus, I was an extremely social child. I was more than aware that all sorts of people had different opinions and world-views. We had marches in the streets to remind me of that!

    And it’s not like my parents ever tried to convince me of anything–religion simply wasn’t a topic that came up. So I formed my own opinions, based on random samplings of the people we knew–which meant, basically, SF fans, radical lefties, or, frequently, both. Religion simply wasn’t a common topic of discussion in Berkeley at the time. Nor at various local SF cons. There were more important issues on people’s minds. It took a trip to the midwest, where my grandmother lived, for me to stumble across my first open believer.

    And, of course, after a couple of years, as the sixties progressed and got more, um, sixtiesish, I ended up knowing a lot of religious people. It was just that they were almost all neo-pagans or Buddhists or the like. 🙂

  18. @Xtifr–And yet, you weren’t prepared for a different worldview that is, in fact, really, really common.

    That’s a huge blind spot. Which is unfortunate.

  19. @Liz Carey: I’m not quite sure why you think this was something I had to be “prepared for”. Kids learn stuff all the time. This was something I learned–a little later than usual, but I hardly found it a world-shaking revelation. It was a curious fact. I already knew people could be silly. 😉

    My mom was from the midwest. She certainly knew that there are lots of religious people in this country. I doubt she had any idea I’d formed the theories I had. And I was a smart kid who read lots and lots. I formed theories all the time, and often found that they were incorrect, so it wasn’t at all shocking to learn that one more was.

    Half a century later, I still consider it no more than a curious bit of trivia. I’m not sure why you think it was a “huge blind spot.” It’s not like it’s something that’s ever particularly mattered to me. Certainly, at the time, there were far more important issues to worry about: the war, racism, and (to a lesser extent, I’m sorry to say, though my mother helped me see its importance even at the time) sexism. And at this late date, I still think at least two of those are far more important.

    Heck, if anything, the main result of the revelation was that I suddenly realized that the various people I knew who went to church might be doing so out of sincere belief, rather than blindly aping the actions of their ancestors in order to avoid rocking the boat. Which improved my opinion of them. But I still don’t see it as a huge blind spot. Can you explain?

  20. @Xtifr–It comes from too many atheist fans certain that religious people are either hypocrites or fools, often with a side dish of “but not the neo-pagans.” It’s not you I’m giving the side-eye to, but your parents, who created an environment where you could assume that all those people were mindless sheep, rather than people with different beliefs. And at an age where, yes, I was expected to remember that both atheists and people of other religions existed and were entitled to the same courtesy and respect as people who shared our beliefs. Even the Protestants. 🙂

    It’s good you had that revelation, but according to the way you tell the story, your parents never thought to teach you that.

  21. @ Xtfir. My daughter recently told me that until she was eight, she thought Christmas was on Dec 31st. Since we don’t celebrate Christmas at home, she couldn’t use that to identify a specific date. She knew that kids came back from winter break with Christmas presents and there were Christmas lights and displays till the beginning of Jan. And she just thought Christmas must be close to the new year, so Dec 31 it was.
    If she had mentioned it to me at the time, I could have told her, but I never knew.

  22. @bookworm–Call me crazy, but I think that’s a little bit different than not knowing that other people actually have different beliefs and aren’t just being insincere sheep.

    But I really don’t want this to go in a direction of hostility and anger. It was really just a snarky observation.

  23. Lis Carey on January 23, 2019 at 2:18 pm said:

    @Xtifr–It comes from too many atheist fans certain that religious people are either hypocrites or fools

    So because some atheists are assholes, you assume all atheists (or agnostics) are assholes? Nice.

    Anyway, it’s not hypocritical to want to fit in with the people around you. It’s perfectly natural. I didn’t have a particularly negative opinion of people who went to church even before I discovered that some of them were sincere. (And learning that they were sincere didn’t prevent me from thinking they were silly. But I knew–and know–that most people–including myself–have at least some silly beliefs, so that didn’t–and doesn’t–particularly bother me.)

    It’s not you I’m giving the side-eye to, but your parents

    Yes, I’m quite aware of that. And it’s on their behalf that I’ve taken offense at your comments. I am struggling to maintain a veneer of politeness here, because I am actually extremely offended!

    Again, I’m not sure why you consider religious belief such a big deal. I think you’ll find that very few parents offer their children courses in comparative religion, and I’m not sure what else would satisfy what you seem to be asking for. And other than that I was certainly aware that people had different beliefs about things, even if my list of things didn’t include something you consider important, but that I still don’t.

    You’ll forgive me if I’m starting to feel like the problem might be that my parents didn’t teach me to take your religion seriously–even though that’s probably true of 99+% of all parents who don’t share your religion.

    In any case, my parents weren’t entirely responsible for my initial mistake. As I say, I was a very social child, and I went out and started making friends with our neighbors not long after I was able to toddle that far. And I loved to talk. About all sorts of things. The failure (if failure it was–you still haven’t convinced me of that) was shared by our whole neighborhood! And big chunks of west-coast fandom. :p

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