Pixel Scroll 1/29/19 Dill Pixels

(1) TIPTREE ON TV? Jennifer Kent, who directed the exceptional horror film The Babadook, and is currently at Sundance screening her second film, the historical drama The Nightingale, is developing a project based on the life and stories of James Tiptree Jr. / Alice Sheldon: “Sundance 2019 Interview: Babadook Director Jennifer Kent on Her New Film, The Nightingale” at Rogerebert.com.

And Tiptree?

I don’t know where to start. There was this writer of short science fiction stories in ’60s and ’70s who was very feted, and of the level of Philip K. Dick, or Ursula Le Guin. He was really creating the most powerful stories of gender and of being an outsider. But they were so potent, very prescient; because it’s almost the world we’re living in now. So they were written 50 years ago. They’re incredibly relevant still, and then he was sort of well known. His stories were well known, but no one knew who he was for 10 years, and then eventually someone uncovered his identity to be a woman in her 60s, in I think Virginia. This woman’s story is unbelievable. Unbelievable. And she was a genius. So I want to tell her story.

So you’ll make something episodic at a network?

Yeah, but including her short stories within. It’s not a straight biopic; so aliens from her stories inhabit her true world, and then she will be in the world of her stories, and it’s so exciting to me. It’s science fiction, which I love. I came across that because I was being given a lot of science fiction scripts. And I thought, “Where are the female science fiction stories?” So I Googled “female science fiction”, and I came across her! It was so hard to get the rights. And then I got all the rights to these stories, so it’s just meant to be. I could sit for hours and tell you how we got these rights. I’m working with producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who is wonderful. He’s engaged with a company called Imperative, and so that’s the deal at the moment. But Imperative has thrown some money at the development, but we want to keep control of it. So we didn’t want to go to HBO and have it sit on a shelf and not get made, for example. So, we want to come with a pilot and a bible, so I’m working on that at the moment.

(2) STOKERCON UK. In April 2020 the Horror Writers Association’s annual event, StokerCon, will be held in the UK, and A.K. Benedict will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Taking place in Scarborough, just down the coast from Whitby – the town that provided so much of the inspiration for Stoker’s iconic Dracula – this is an event not to be missed for writers and readers of horror fiction.

The event is delighted to confirm its Mistress of Ceremonies for the weekend will be author A.K. Benedict, who will be launching the weekend’s proceedings. A.K. Benedict was educated at Cambridge, University of Sussex and Clown School. Described by the Sunday Express as ‘one of the new stars of crime fiction with a supernatural twist’, AK Benedict’s debut novel, The Beauty of Murder, was shortlisted for an eDunnit award and is in development for TV by Company Pictures. Her second novel from Orion, The Evidence of Ghosts, is a love song to London and shows her obsession with all things haunted. Her radio drama includes Doctor Who and Torchwood plays for Big Finish and a modern adaptation of M.R. James’ Lost Hearts for Bafflegab/Audible.

(3) ODYSSEY WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIPS. Here is an overview of “2019 Odyssey Writing Workshop Scholarship Opportunities”. The Odyssey Writing Workshop is an acclaimed, six-week program for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror held each summer in New Hampshire. Writers apply from all over the world; only fifteen are admitted.

  • George R.R. Martin sponsors the Miskatonic Scholarship, awarded each year to a promising writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror, a type of fiction Martin loves and wants to encourage. The scholarship covers full tuition, textbook, and housing. Martin says, “It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.” Applicants must demonstrate financial need in a separate application. Full details at the link.
  • Bestselling author and Odyssey graduate Sara King is sponsoring the Parasite Publications Character Awards to provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend this summer’s Odyssey. The Parasite Publications Character Awards, three scholarships in the amounts of $2,060 (full tuition), $500, and $300, will be awarded to the three members of the incoming class who are deemed extraordinarily strong character writers, creating powerful, emotional characters that grab the reader and don’t let go. No separate application is required.
  • The new Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship will be offered to a Canadian writer admitted to Odyssey. This scholarship, funded by alumni and friends of Chris, will cover $900 of tuition.
  • One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing for guest visits. Odyssey reimburses $800 of the work/study student’s tuition.

(4) FREE READ. Arizona State University has published Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction, Volume II, an anthology featuring 10 short stories from ASU’s 2018 global climate fiction contest, plus a foreword by Kim Stanley Robinson, who also served as the lead judge for the contest.

The stories explore climate chaos, its aftermath, and possible ways forward through a variety of genres and styles, from science fiction and fantasy to literary fiction and prose poetry. It’s free to download in a variety of digital formats (HTML, EPUB, MOBI, and via Apple iBooks).

Table of Contents:

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Foreword
  • Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, Editors’ Introduction
  • Monarch Blue, by Barbara Litkowski
  • The Last Grand Tour of Albertine’s Watch, by Sandra K. Barnidge
  • Half-Eaten Cities, by Vajra Chandrasekera
  • Darkness Full of Light, by Tony Dietz
  • Luna, by David Samuel Hudson
  • Tuolumne River Days, by Rebecca Lawton
  • The Most Beautiful Voyage in the World, by Jean McNeil
  • Orphan Bird, by Leah Newsom
  • The Office of Climate Facts, by Mitch Sullivan
  • Losing What We Can’t Live Without, by Jean-Louis Trudel
  • About the Contributors
  • Honorable Mention: 2018 Contest Semifinalists

(5) HUGO VOTER ELIGIBILITY. Dublin 2019 is fixing this –

(6) MY KINGDOM FOR CANON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Retcons are king. Or kinda want to be. The Daily Dot stares into the abyss at the changing look of Klingons over the various Star Trek series and movies—and especially the significant changes between the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery  (“Here’s Why the Klingons Look Different in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2”).

In the grand tradition of sci-fi retcons, there’s a canon explanation for the Klingons’ new look. While the humanoid Original Series Klingons were retroactively explained as victims of a genetic diseaseDiscovery’s bald Klingons [in season 1] were apparently making a fashion statement.

According to actress Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), designer Glenn Hetrick decided that the Klingons weren’t “bald” in season one—they just shaved their heads. Speaking at New York Comic Con last year, Chieffo said Hetrick was inspired by the Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir.”

“There is a reference to when [legendary Klingon hero] Kahless is brought back as a clone. The way he proves himself is he tells the story of how he cut off a lock of his hair and dipped it into a volcano and made the first bat’leth, with which he killed Molor, the terrible tyrant who was running Qo’noS at the time. We took that one little beautiful seed… and kind of expanded on that, and we see that in a time of war the Klingons would shave their heads, and in a time of peace, we start to grow it back out. I really love the symbolism of that.”

Meanwhile, ScreenRant.com has a different take on the whole, um, different Klingon thing (“Star Trek Theory: Discovery Is Why The Original Series Klingons Look Different”).

Star Trek: Discovery could finally explain one of the franchise’s biggest discrepancies: why do the Klingons in The Original Series look human? The answer might be the former Starfleet Lieutenant Ash Tyler, who is the surgically altered Klingon named Voq.

[…] It’s possible Star Trek: Discovery season 1’s transformation of Voq into Ash Tyler is the forerunner to why the Klingons Captain Kirk faced in The Original Series didn’t have the ridged brows and wild hair of later Klingons. Voq was the former Torchbearer of T’Kuvma who underwent surgery to become human in a horrifically painful process that damaged his mind. His lover L’Rell oversaw the procedure to turn Voq into Ash Tyler, a Starfleet Lieutenant who was captured during the Battle at the Binary Stars. Voq ended up believing he really was Ash and fell in love with Michael Burnham but his inner Klingon kept fighting his way to the forefront.

[…] By the time Captain Kirk faced the Klingons for the first time in the Star Trek: The Original Series’ episode “Errand of Mercy”, the warrior race looked and behaved human, albeit with darker, exotic skin. Kor, the Klingon Commander, even told Kirk “our races aren’t so different”. He meant that both humans and Klingons are war-like species, but his words could also now have a deeper context: the Klingons have 24 Great Houses and it’s possible this group of Klingons underwent the same (perfected) procedure that turned Voq into Ash Tyler.

(7) CELEBRATORY YEAR. “150 years of the periodic table: Test your knowledge”. I scored 5 for 5 – how unusual!

You’ll find it on the wall of nearly every school chemistry laboratory in the land.

And generations of children have sung the words, “hydrogen and helium, lithium, beryllium…” in an attempt to memorise some of the 118 elements.

This year, the periodic table of chemical elements celebrates its 150th birthday.

…The United Nations has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table to celebrate “one of the most significant achievements in science”.

In March, it will be 150 years since the Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, took all of the known elements and arranged them into a table.

Most of his ideas have stood the test of time, despite being conceived long before we knew much about the stuff that makes up matter.

On Tuesday, the year will be officially launched in Paris. So, what’s so special about this iconic symbol of science?


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 79. Yes, you know her as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate but that’s hardly genre, do shall we see what she done in our area of interest? Her first such work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives –scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife” episode. I did debate if the I should could I count Alfred Hitchcock Presents aa genre or not as she did an episode there as well.
  • Born January 29, 1977 Justin Hartley, 42. Performer in the series as Green Arrow and Oliver Queen characters, season six on. Also director of the “Dominion” episode and the writer of the “Sacrifice” episode on that series. He’s also Arthur “A.C.” Curry in the unsold Aquaman television pilot. The latter is up on YouTube here. He’s also lead cast in a web series called Gemini Division.
  • Born January 29, 1978 Catrin Stewart, 31. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was friends with Madame Vastra and Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of Nineteen Eighty-Four done at London Playhouse several years back. 


  • Frank and Ernest encounter a superhero with a not very pleasant power.
  • Not everybody gets off the ground at Hogwarts according to Berkeley Mews.
  • A super warning about the cold and flu season at Off the Mark.

(10) ELGIN AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association is taking nominations for the Elgin Award through May 15. Charles Christian will be the 2019 Elgin Awards Chair.

Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to how many they can nominate, but they may not nominate their own work. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative poetry books and chapbooks published in 2017 and 2018 to [email protected] by mail to the SFPA secretary: Renee Ya, P.O. Box 2074, San Mateo, CA 94401 USA. Books and chapbooks that placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in last year’s Elgin Awards are not eligible.

(11) FOREVER YOUNG. A young Captain Picard steps up alongside a bunch of  Italian Renaissance turtles and other, um, beloved characters (SYFY Wire: “Exclusive: Young Captain Picard commands the U.S.S. Stargazer in Star Trek: IDW 20/20 one-shot”).

IDW Publishing’s big 20th anniversary celebration rolls on this month as the mini-major refreshes five of their major licensed titles with a time-traveling series of oversized one-shot releases. 

The January party sparkles with some of pop culture’s most treasured properties as GhostbustersJem and the Holograms, My Little Pony, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uncover characters’ secrets and mysteries shot 20 years into the future or tugged back to the past.

(12) RUN, CAT, RUN! Camestros Felapton has the news — “Shock billionaire spoiler candidate enters presidential race”.

Timothy the Talking Cat, billionaire CEO of publishing multinational “Cattimothy House” entered the 2020 Presidential fray, with a shock announcement on Tuesday. At a book launch in Borstworth Library, the outspoken cat and business guru laid out his vision for a new kind of US President.

(13) NEW BENNETT NOVELLA DISCUSSED. Several star reviewers from Nerds of a Feather participate in “Review Roundtable: Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett”.

CONTENT WARNING: This review discusses gun violence throughout, and includes references to child death. Also, we’re discussing the whole novella, so BEWARE SPOILERS.

Vigilance, the new novella from Robert Jackson Bennett, is out today and it’s a searing look at gun violence in the US. In this near future dystopia, John McDean is tasked with running “Vigilance”, the nation’s favourite reality programme, which releases real shooters are released on unsuspecting locations with military-grade armaments, and the resulting carnage is broadcast as a “lesson” in how to protect oneself. McDean and his crew at ONT station think they have the variables of Vigilance down to a fine art, but in the novella’s ensuing escalation find themselves taken down by one of McDean’s own blindspots, to dramatic effect.

We’ve got a lot of Bennett fans on our team here at Nerds of a Feather and when this novella came to our attention, lots of us were interested in reading it to review. That’s why, instead of taking it on alone, today I, Adri, am joined by Paul Weimer, Brian, and Joe Sherry to unpack Bennett’s highly topical novella and our reactions to it.

(14) MARKET UPDATE. Coming over the air now —

(15) PREY WITHOUT CEASING. We linked to the trailer yesterday, now The Hollywood Reporter explains it all to you: “How ‘Birds of Prey’ Footage Builds on ‘Suicide Squad’ Look”.

Margot Robbie’s next take on Harley Quinn is steeped in ’80s music video sensibilities. Gotham City’s newest protectors have arrived. Tuesday morning, following an Instagram post by Margot Robbie teasing her return as Harley Quinn, Warner Bros. released the first official behind-the scenes look at Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The first look teases viewers with quick glimpses of the main characters, who, alongside Robbie’s Harley Quinn, are comprised of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). Birds of Prey follows the events of Suicide Squad and finds Gotham City in a very different place following an apparent disappearance of Batman, and Quinn’s separation from the Joker. Harley finds herself on a continued path of redemption when she seeks to help a young girl, Cassandra Cain, escape the wrath of Black Mask by recruiting a force of Gotham heroines.

(16) OUT OF TIME. Vicky Who Reads makes it sound irresistible: “Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (DRC): An Amazing Adult Sci-Fi Novel with Strong Family Themes”. Her review begins….

Kin Stewart used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Now, stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

(17) FROG STUFFING. Jon Del Arroz’ Happy Frogs lists are callbacks to what JDA thinks were the good old days of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. How much pull does he actually have? We’ll know if any of these names from “The Happy Frogs Hugo Award list” [Internet Archive link] show up on the 2019 ballot. (Well, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if David Weber got a nod for Best Series on his own – but that still leaves the rest of them.)

(18) WHERE FEW HAVE GONE. After five decades it’s hard to believe, but newly uncovered (or rediscovered) wide-format footage and uncatalogued audio was available as the basis for a new Apollo 11 documentary. Rolling Stone has the story of the doc plus a trailer (“‘Apollo 11’ Trailer: See Never-Before-Seen Footage From NASA’s Moon Mission”).

New footage from the lead-up to NASA’s first manned trip to the moon (and the landing itself) features in the upcoming documentary Apollo 11, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names,” distribution company Neon said of the film.

“Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.”

(19) LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT BROADWAYCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] On “Three on The Aisle:  Broadway Cosplay” at Americantheatre.org, Elisabeth Vincentelli gives a BroadwayCon report, which begins at sixteen minutes into the podcast and ends at 34 minutes.  She did see some cosplayers, such as a woman from West Virginia who sat on a bus wearing her costume as the Angel from Angels in America, and she occasionally did see fans wanting to get too close to the stars (which in the theatre world is known as “stagedooring.”)  But she also appreciated the substantive panels, such as one on Oklahoma where cast members sang songs they didn’t sing on stage, and noted that BroadwayCon is important enough that stars like Kristen Chenoweth show up there unannounced. Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout said he wanted to go next year and that “A critic incapable of being a fan is a critic that needs therapy.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, 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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66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/29/19 Dill Pixels

  1. @Meredith: missing from your assessment of the Sheldons’ deaths is that Huntington required near-constant care, which nobody else was willing to give; ISTM that Alice’s choices, in her depression, were to go on with an intolerable life, to kill herself and let her husband die slowly (and probably painfully), or to kill both of them. That’s beyond “cool motive”, however horrible it sounds.

    @Nancy Sauer: I do not see “general amnesia” concerning the Sheldons’ deaths. Perhaps that word does not mean what you think it means?

    @Kip Williams: A good example — especially since it involves the sort of abandonment-of-original-concept(*) that commonly ruins genre novels as media — but ISTM a one-off.
    (*) From what I recall, the ‘toons in the book were characters in print, not film. This changed in the sequel — a bit like Clarke deciding the monolith should be around Jupiter after all, even if Iapetus seemed cooler in the first book. I see that Wikipedia says Jupiter was used in the movie because Kubrick and Trumbull couldn’t work out how to show Saturn; I wonder what a sequel could have done if the movie hadn’t used Jupiter — IIRC there’s no large water-covered moon of Saturn that could have been substituted for Europa, and I’m not sure Titan would make a convincing cradle for life.

  2. Regarding the deaths of Huntington and Alice Sheldon, Alli was under the care of a mental health physician, whom she trusted and to whom she dedicated one of her books. With his help, Alli kept herself going for years.

    She left multiple notes the night of her suicide. One was to the possibility of botching the final act: She directed EMTs who might find her still alive to not try and save her, that her intention was to die at the same time as her husband.

    As for F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, I can’t say he didn’t know the Sheldons, but neither of them ever mentioned him to me as being an sf-field acquaintance. And despite what he says, Tiptree did not have a separate social security number; one of Tiptree’s friends did indeed learn her true identity through it, though never said a word to her or anyone else.

  3. Kip Williams on January 31, 2019 at 7:10 am said:

    almost impossible to make a good movie out of a bad book


    And Blade Runner. (Yes, I’m calling DADOES a bad book.)

  4. @Lis Carey:

    @Nancy Sauer–I find it fascinating that you speak only of “her murder of her husband,” while never mentioning his health, her health, her depression and previous suicidal thoughts and behavior, or her own suicide.

    Since I am not the one making a tv series of her life, I don’t feel compelled to make lengthy posts detailing all sides of the incident. And since his health, her health, her depression, etc, etc, don’t make what she did not-murder I’m not sure why I am in the wrong for using the word. I would expect a biographical treatment of her life to go into those issues, however.

    @Sophie Jane:

    I am absolutely cynical, which is why I am unsurprised that people get angry when you point out that a beloved writer once did something bad.

  5. @Nancy Sauer–Most people can muster the human empathy to, without justifying it, understand the difference between murder motivated by greed or rage, and someone suffering from longterm, serious depression and suicidal tendencies, who is the sole support and caretaker for someone in constant pain and unable to care for himself, with no one else willing to take on that care, making a bad decision.

    She was suffering, too. And remember it was thirty years ago; with good insurance, there are more options available for treating depression now, which might have made a critical difference. Not necessarily; treatment for depression is still tricky to get right. Or if there had been more help, to care for her husband, to treat him possibly relieving his pain more effectively, or just better care so that she wouldn’t have felt leaving him behind without anyone to care for him, she might have killed herself but not him.

    Basically, you want to pretend that her depression either didn’t exist, or didn’t matter. That it played no role in what happened.

    Struggling with depression myself, I am not going to excuse you for that deliberate, willful, callousness and indifference.

  6. @Lis Carey

    While I do not believe that domestic abuse has ever been suggested to be part of their marriage prior to its end, I’m extremely reluctant to introduce suicide as a mitigation for partner-murder, even in different circumstances.

    Certainly better mental health treatment and better social services may have changed what happened, but referring to it as murder is not at all untrue or deceptive, and suggesting that it is feels like making excuses and minimising it, although I’m sure that’s not at all your intent.

    I mentioned this before, but there is a long, long history of partners, parents and offspring murdering their disabled partners, children and parents because they felt that they’d be better off dead than alive and disabled. Many of those partners, parents and offspring suffered from depression. It’s still murder, and it requires no further elaboration. It’s depressingly common. The press coverage and general reaction is often — as we can see in this thread — to make excuses for it. (Note, the following sentence is things people have said in relation to other, similar murders, and are not what I believe.) Because he was in pain, because caring for her was so hard, because disability is worse than death, because who really knew if they were even aware (even a person) anyway. And because of that, it’s more likely to happen the next time; it reinforces that disabled lives are somehow worth less, that taking them away is understandable and forgiveable. It’s a far, far greater wrong to murder someone dependent on you than it is to call a murder a murder.

    It’s easy to empathise with her pain, but I wonder why so few people here seem to be expressing any empathy with her husband’s fate? If he had been willing, we would be calling it an assisted suicide. But he wasn’t, and he was murdered.

    @Sophie Jane

    I’m disabled, so, I’m looking at it from the perspective of someone who would rather not be murdered because someone else thought it would be in my best interests. i’m sure there are those who enjoy using it as a bat to hit feminist sf with, but I doubt there are many regulars here for whom that would apply.

    @David W.

    I hope it’s clear that I’m responding to the letter rather than to you, since you didn’t express an opinion.

    I am in constant pain, with no likelihood of imminent natural death. I don’t think the person who wrote that letter thought very hard about how it would feel for others to justify someone’s murder using things that also apply to you. I don’t think they thought very hard about how it would feel to fear your loved ones agreeing with it. I don’t think they thought very hard about how it would feel to have people consider your life to be worth less because of how they imagine they themselves would feel about being disabled.

    Calling the murder of someone who was not a willing party a “mercy killing” is offensive. It minimises the crime and ignores the personhood of the victim.

    @Chip Hitchcock

    I am perfectly aware of the other circumstances. Requiring care is not an excuse for someone murdering you. For the record, “cool motive, still murder” is a meme/quote.

    What choice did he get to make? What right did she have to take that choice from him?

  7. And since his health, her health, her depression, etc, etc, don’t make what she did not-murder I’m not sure why I am in the wrong for using the word.

    If we’re talking about depression severe enough to cause psychosis – warp perception of reality such that the person killing genuinely can’t distinguish right from wrong – then, yes, it CAN make what she did ‘not-murder’. IANAL, but I think that’s what the term ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ means.

    Granted, we don’t know if Sheldon WAS in that state of mind at the time and thus criminally responsible or not, but the fact that she had a history of severe depression makes it at least a possibility.

  8. @Meredith–It’s not calling it murder that I find deceptive or objectionable. It’s Nancy’s determined effort to pretend the circumstances didn’t exist.

    What exactly the law would call it would depend on how severely her own condition impaired her decision-making. Since she died too, we’ll never know what the law would have done. However, while I think “less than first degree murder” is possible, I also think that based on what we know, in some alternate world where she could be tried, any version of a “not guilty” verdict is not possible.

    It is in fact possible to condemn the act without pretending that she made a calm, clear, completely unimpaired, consciously evil choice. No, as far as I understand the facts, he didn’t get a choice and we don’t know what he would have chosen if he could have, nor did she.

    She made the choice. She made it in constrained circumstances, and with judgment badly impaired by years of chronic, severe, clinical depression. That doesn’t mean she made the right decision, or a justified decision. It means she suffered from a very real illness, which is all too easily and routinely dismissed as weakness of character.

    I’m not willing to have mental illness dismissed and its sufferers dehumanized, something I should think you’d be able to relate to.

    God knows being told I ought to be able to do certain things, in that judgmental way that says I don’t have any real problems, has never made it easier for me to accomplish them.

    She had a serious illness, that affected her judgment as a primary, not a secondary, symptom. They both died of it.

    And some people want to pretend her illness can be ignored. It can’t, not in any honest discussion of what happened. This was a double tragedy, with two victims, not one.

  9. We know that Ting and Alli had a suicide pact, that he agreed that they would go out together. We do not know if he agreed that that night was the night.

  10. @Nancy Sauer I am unsurprised that people get angry when you point out that a beloved writer once did something bad.

    I mean, it’s obvious you brought it up because you wanted to ruffle some feathers – and that’s OK. As Meredith points out, there are good reasons to push back against the standard narrative. It’s just the lack of context that’s making me cautious.

  11. @Lis Carey

    Empathy isn’t a limited quality. I can feel it for Alice Sheldon and still feel more of it for her husband. The fact that health care systems (both physical and mental) were really bad thirty years ago doesn’t justify her actions; it’s one of the measures we use to determine that those systems were bad.

    There is a fine but important distinction between “Isn’t it horrible? She must have been under terrible pressure with both of them having health problems” and “She was depressed! He was in pain!”. I’m hearing a whole lot of the second and not a lot of the first, and it bothers me for all the reasons Meredith has neatly laid out.

  12. @Nancy Sauer–Nice try, but you tried to omit any reasons for empathy for Tiptree from the discussion. And then you defended doing so. And now you’re simply lying about what I said, in order to pretend that any discussion of contributing factors is a whitewashing of her actions and a claim that it was totes okay.

    You want to pretend that severe, lasting, clinical depression with suicidal tendencies can be completely ignored in judging what she did. So comforting to know that you’re among the millions who think clinical depression and suicidal tendencies are just a case of the blues and we should all just snap out of it.

    That’s not the way it works.

    Depression lies to us. It makes the world look very different than it does to the healthy. One of its symptoms is that it causes really bad decision-making, because it lies to you and you believe false things.

    Serious depression is often a terminal disease. She fought it for years, and finally succumbed. Killing herself, and killing her husband, were both bad decisions and both symptoms of the disease she had.

    And you want to pretend that it was a wholly free choice decision, and that killing herself was merely an attempt to evade the consequences, and that pointing out that depression is a serious illness and played a major role in what happened is excusing everything and dismissing his death as unimportant.

    So, you know, fuck you.

  13. @Nancy Sauer, if you had chosen to say murder-suicide instead of just murder, I don’t know that this discussion would even be happening.

  14. @Lenore Jones, probably, and I have no regrets. Totally worth it to start a conversation about how we, as individuals and a society, treat people with chronic diseases.

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