Pixel Scroll 1/3/21 Short Pixels Have No Reason To Scroll

(1) DAVID WEBER UPDATES. His fans are keeping each other abreast of the progress of David Weber’s COVID treatment.

  • Ralston Stahler quoted Weber’s update about the first day in the hospital:
David Weber

From David Weber

Well, they just admitted me to the hospital Covid floor. O2 level had fallen to about 83%. Got it back up to 88 or so, but still not good and the fever was spiking again. So our lovely daughter Morgan Rice-Weber drove her dads butt to the ER, where they told me there was a 95% chance they’d keep me. I sent her on home, they hooked me up to an IV, and told me they are going to pretty much blast me with everything they’ve got, including steroids, plasma, and all that other stuff. Got here about 3:30, I think, but it was closing in on 7 before they could find me a bed. SUPER nurses, and everyone is taking really good care of me.

Fever has broken, O2 level is up to 95%, but they don’t like the chest X-rays, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be keeping me for a bit.

I am feeling a LOT better, and the girls are keeping an eye on Sharon Rice-Weber to make sure she’s watching HER O2.

Update: copied from Mr Weber’s post: Therapy proceeding. We’re on top of the fever; the high blood pressure looks like it’s under control; hydration levels look good. Still having trouble keeping the O2 up. They’ve got me on a pressure setting of 6, and I’m still dropping into the upper 80s whenever I move around. Takes a minute or two to get back up to the 90s once I’m back off my feet. Problem seems to be getting the lung function up to speed again. I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s gonna take however long it takes.

(2) INSTANT WINNER. Nghi Vo on Twitter:

(3) THE RULE OF THREE. Fansided’s Daniel DeVita reports on an opinionated Patrick Rothfuss livestream: “Kingkiller author Patrick Rothfuss decries ‘the George R.R. Martin effect’”.

Kingkiller Chronicle author Patrick Rothfuss can’t get into The Wheel of Time, praises George R.R. Martin but not his imitators, and HATES The Witcher….

…At one point, someone in the stream notes that fantasy authors seem to be in a competition with each other to have as many characters as possible, which is true. Rothfuss thinks he knows how this trend got started:

“I think of that as the George Martin effect. Where Martin is an author who has a ton of craft under his belt — he’s been writing for ages in many different ways — and he started Game of Thrones, and all of those books had multiple point-of-view characters to achieve a specific effect in this huge world-spanning story he was telling, and he had the craft to pull it off. And then everyone’s like, ‘I wanna do a Game of Thrones, too.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you can’t, it’s too many characters, you’re not that good.’ And you certainly don’t get that many point-of-view characters. Here’s the rule: if you’re starting a novel, you can have three point-of-view characters, and that’s it. And you probably shouldn’t have that many.”

Rothfuss also talks about Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series (he enjoyed the first two books but eventually dropped it) and touched on the work of Brandon Sanderson, who finished off The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan died and has several long multi-volume fantasy stories of his own. “I’d read a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s books, for a while I’d read most of them. But now, he’s got so many, he just writes so much, I’m far behind.”

(4) LOOKING AHEAD. Paul Eisenberg interviews members of the Chicago Worldcon 2022 committee: “Landmarks: With an eye toward the future, new year a good time to consider the literature of ideas — especially those of science fiction” in the Chicago Tribune.

…While other gatherings of fans, such as Chicago’s C2E2, are run by businesses and are profit-driven enterprises (albeit still very fun, Levy said), events such as Chicago’s Worldcon, specifically called Chicon 8, are run by volunteers and financed solely by attendees, known as members.

Chicago’s bid, which overwhelmingly won over a bid from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, was awarded at the virtual 2020 Worldcon, which had been slated to be in Wellington, New Zealand. The 2021 event had previously been awarded to Washington, D.C. There’s no word as of yet if the 2021 event will be an in-person gathering.

The pandemic permeates all things these days, and even events rooted firmly in the imagination are not immune. But being immersed in a style of literature that offers ideas and different perspectives is a plus when it comes to dealing with the mundane and often depressing details of life in the time of the novel coronavirus….

(5) NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT. Just stuff a person reading the Wikipedia could come across on any random day, don’t ya think? 

(6) VASTER THAN TOMES. Listchallenges confronts readers with a checklist of “100 ‘Big Fat Books Worth the Effort’”. Cliff, who sent the link, scored 19 on this one. I scored 20/100.

(7) RING IN THE NEW YEAR. Yahoo! Entertainment ups your trivia IQ with “JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’: 15 Facts About ‘Fellowship of the Ring’”. Here are two —

…Christopher Lee is the only member of the cast or crew to have met Tolkien. In fact, Lee mentioned in the extended cut commentary for “Fellowship” that Tolkien had given him his blessing to play Gandalf in any potential film adaptation of “LOTR.” But when Lee auditioned for Gandalf, he was asked to play Saruman instead, as it was believed he was too old to play Gandalf. Lee accepted the role, but agreed that Ian McKellen was right for Gandalf.

Viggo Mortensen initially didn’t have much interest in playing Aragorn, but took the role after his Tolkien-loving son, Henry, pleaded for him to accept the role. After learning more about Aragorn, Mortensen viewed the character’s sword as the key element to his character and carried it with him at all times during filming, even when he was not on set….


  • January 3, 1993  — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in syndication. The fourth spin-off of the original series (counting the animated run) was the first developed after the death of Roddenberry, created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. It starred Avery Brooks, René Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn. It would run for seven seasons and one hundred and seventy-six episodes. It would be nominated for two Hugo Awards but wouldn’t win either. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ll admit that to this day I much prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of The Rings. There’s a joy, a pleasure in that novel that I just don’t get in the trilogy. I’m currently listening to the Andy Serkis narration of The Hobbit which I highly recommend. (Died 1973.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1898 – Doris Buck.  A score of short stories, including “Cacophony in Pink and Ochre” long announced as part of The Last Dangerous Visions so not yet published; as many poems.  Mostly in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Founding member of SFWA (now Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and on the first Nebula ballot.  Anthologized by Knight, Silverberg, Biggle.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1930 – Stephen Fabian, age 91.  Radio & radar in the Air Force, then twenty years’ electronics engineering while active as a fanartist, then pro career (self-taught) while continuing fanart.  Here is Progress Report 3 for Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon.  Here is SF Review 29.  Here is SF, a Teacher’s Guide & Resource Book.  Here is the Dec 74 Galaxy.  Here is Refugees from an Imaginary Country, hello Darrell Schweitzer.  Several artbooks e.g. Women & Wonders (using his cover for The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate).  Three hundred forty covers, fourteen hundred twenty interiors.  Dungeons & Dragons artwork 1986-1995.  World Fantasy Award for life achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft, 81.  She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here?  Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1945 – Mark Owings.  Bibliographer.  Index to the Science-Fantasy Publishers (with Jack Chalker) 1966, rev. 1991 then thirteen supplements.  Blish, Heinlein, Lovecraft, Pohl, Russell, Schmitz, Simak, Williamson.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily having died over and over. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to  her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1951 – Rosa Montero, age 70.  Daughter of a bullfighter, active in protests that eliminated killing of the bull, however traditional, in the centuries-old Toro de la Vega at Tordesillas.  Thirty books, two for us in English.  Spring Novel prize, Cavour Prize, two Qué Leer prizes.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1974 – Arwen Dayton, age 47.  Six novels for us.  Resurrection an Amazon Kindle Best-Seller.  Stronger, Faster, More Beautiful won Kirkus Best Young Adult SF, Wall Street Journal Best SF.  Has read The Sirens of Titan, Bleak HouseThe Door Into SummerThe Illustrated ManSense and Sensibility.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 46. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 45. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award. (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1978 – Dominic Wood, age 43.  Magician (the theatrical-art kind) and author.  Int’l Brotherhood of Magicians’ Shield for Sleight of Hand.  Co-presenter of Brainiac’s Test-Tube Baby.  Three BAFTA (Brit. Acad. Film & Television Arts) awards.  Dom and the Magic Topper is ours; the protagonist although named Dominic is a child, and although a theatrical-art magician has a top hat that really is magic; see here.  [JH]


  • Today I discovered R.E. Parrish:

(11) CIRQUE DE SOUL. Leonard Maltin reviewed Soul and thought it was a provocative film but one he wished he could like more than he did. “’Soul’ Tackles The Big Questions”.

…I feel like an ingrate as I complain about a mainstream Disney release that doesn’t talk down to its audience, a Trojan horse of philosophizing packaged as shiny entertainment. But as much as I was intrigued by Soul, I didn’t actually enjoy the experience. I watched it with my family and we all had different reactions.

I would be foolish and narrow-minded if I didn’t applaud the effort and artistry that went into this film. How lucky we are that a studio like Pixar exists, unafraid to tackle complex and challenging ideas within the mainstream movie industry. I just wish I liked their new movie better. 

(12) REVERSING HIS POLARITY. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Pedro Pascal about his twin roles as villain Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 and as the lead in The Mandalorian. “For Pedro Pascal, this is the way to play a ‘Wonder Woman’ villain when you’re also the coolest hero in the galaxy”.

…[In WW84] To help match his antenna-transmitted ambition, Pascal was asked to shave off his trademark swashbuckling mustache that has followed him through roles in “Game of Thrones,” “Narcos” and the Star Wars universe in the rare moments he can take off his Mandalorian helmet (which he did for the second time in the series in the episode that aired on Dec. 11). Pascal is adamant the facial hair removal was real and not the digital disaster that was Henry Cavill’s lip service in the widely panned “Justice League.”…

(13) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. A New York Times Magazine writer offers “A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens”.

…The mystery of who created the monolith may never be solved. If we accept that it was a guerrilla art intervention, it was clearly successful, seizing public attention in ways a commissioned work never could. Weeks after the structure vanished, monolith fever has not abated, with copycats springing up across the U.S. and around the globe, from Romania to Morocco to Paraguay. Their spread so captivated social media that many wondered whether the world was falling for a viral marketing campaign.

But the appeal of the monolith touches deeper depths than the usual dopamine hits of the viral internet. In an age of GPS mapping and Google Earth, we may feel that the planet has been demystified, down to the centimeter — that there is no more unsurveilled terrain. The appearance of a monolith in a hinterland is a satisfying reminder that the world remains very large. It is still possible for an artist, or a prankster, or an artist-prankster, to slip undetected into the backcountry and leave something weird and alluring behind. Online detectives studying Google Earth figure the pillar was installed around 2016, which would mean that it’s possible for a weird, alluring thing to remain hidden for years, a secret shared only with passing bighorn sheep.

(14) WILL MINDS BE CHANGED? Essence of Wonder takes up the question “What Would Convince You a Miracle Is Real?” hosted by Alan Lightman with Rebecca Goldstein and Edward Hall. On Saturday, January 9, at 3:00 PM US Eastern Time. Register here.

In this discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher of science Edward Hall (Harvard), and physicist and novelist Alan Lightman (MIT), we will consider the question of the role of experiment in science and how that feature separates science from the humanities. We will also discuss the strong commitment of scientists to a completely lawful universe.

This latter issue could be framed as a question: What would it take to convince a scientist that some phenomenon was a miracle — that is, could not be explained, even in principle, to lie within the laws of nature?

For most scientists, the answer is NOTHING. Yet surveys repeatedly show that 75% of the American public believes in miracles. Why this marked discrepancy between the beliefs of scientists and nonscientists?

(15) A DUNE GRAPHIC NOVEL. BBC Science Focus Magazine has a substantial excerpt of art pages from the “Brian Herbert Dune graphic novel, An extract from the new retelling”.

The original Dune, penned by science fiction writer Frank Herbert, was published in 1965, and it quickly became one of the best-selling sci-fi novels of all time. Countless writers have cited his series as inspiration, including his son, Brian Herbert.

The story has been adapted for several films over the years, as well as games, comic books and spin-off books.

Ahead of its return to the big screen (again) next year, we’re taking a look into the recently published Dune: The Graphic Novel.

Created by Herbert’s son, Brian, and science fiction writer Kevin J Anderson, Dune: The Graphic Novel depicts the epic adventure that unfolds on the desert planet Arrakis in stunning illustrations.

What follows is an extract from the new book, where we take flight across the desert with the Duke, his son, and planetologist Dr Kynes…

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, Cliff, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

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69 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/3/21 Short Pixels Have No Reason To Scroll

  1. Camestros Felapton said:

    (5) It saddens me that if Philip K Dick were alive today that he would likely get consumed by QANON conspiracies but on the other hand he’d probably find a way to make them a lot more interesting.


    Regarding Mike’s List, it continues to puzzle me that listmakers tend not to read genre books, by which I mean westerns, mysteries, romances and sff, etc. I thought those were the books everyone read, hence the mass market paperback. I suppose popular fiction is too, well, common.

    Any “canon” that doesn’t include Edna Buchanan, Nora Roberts, or Carol Emshwiller, for example, is not a canon, it’s an assortment.

    I haven’t clicked through on this list, but I imagine I’d be angling asymptotically toward zero.

  2. Brown Robin says Regarding Mike’s List, it continues to puzzle me that listmakers tend not to read genre books, by which I mean westerns, mysteries, romances and sff, etc. I thought those were the books everyone read, hence the mass market paperback. I suppose popular fiction is too, well, common.

    I learned a very long ago that making assumptions about what individuals read was a very bad idea. I’ve known perfectly fine, intelligent folk whose entire reading diet consisted of nothing but romance novels; I’ve known genre fans that never read outside of the genre and a narrow slice of it at that. Assuming that your own reading habits is typical is a bad assumption.

    Now: the Blowzabella cover of Violent Femme’s “Hallowed Ground”

  3. (9) Danica McKellar was a minor character in The West Wing, which I think is genre. Government that is that intelligent, decent, honest, and hard-working? I smell fantasy.

    Now, if she had been on Veep…

  4. 6) 23/100 for me. Add me to the list of people who are confused about why some of the books are on the list.

  5. I read The Da Vinci Code to see what the fuss was about. Partway through, it felt like Brown was following Lester Dent’s master plot for his Doc Savage stories. Multi-stage quest with obstacles at each step, ‘different’ or bizarre villain, plot twist every 1500 words or so. Dent did it better.

  6. Jodoc says I read The Da Vinci Code to see what the fuss was about. Partway through, it felt like Brown was following Lester Dent’s master plot for his Doc Savage stories. Multi-stage quest with obstacles at each step, ‘different’ or bizarre villain, plot twist every 1500 words or so. Dent did it better.

    Brown failed my first chapter rule — I read the first chapter of his first novel and it was awful, but so was the first Rowling novel. I used to give novels more time to decide if I liked them but there’s too much bloody fiction to sample and I no longer have the patience to waste the time to decide if I’ll like something.

    Of course Dent did it better. He was a bloody genius!

    Now listening to: Keith Laumer’s Worlds of The Imperium

  7. (9) Danica McKellar was in two episodes of the stage play/podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour. She was in an episode of Beyond Belief (Married mediums and socialites, the Doyles never let ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies, or even diabolical gingerbreadmen get in the way of the liquor cabinet) and an episode of Captain Laserbeam (With his one hundred lasers and the assistance of young Adventurekateers, Captain Laserbeam keeps the solid citizens of that legendary Apex city safe from all manner of villainy)

    Highly recommend!

  8. Lorien Gray says Danica McKellar was in two episodes of the stage play/podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour. She was in an episode of Beyond Belief (Married mediums and socialites, the Doyles never let ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies, or even diabolical gingerbreadmen get in the way of the liquor cabinet) and an episode of Captain Laserbeam (With his one hundred lasers and the assistance of young Adventurekateers, Captain Laserbeam keeps the solid citizens of that legendary Apex city safe from all manner of villainy)

    Highly recommend!

    I can only find two episodes on iTunes. Sure it ran longer than that? Where can I find a full listing of all the episodes? I must must say that I find the idea of diabolical gingerbreadmen rather intriguing…

    Now playing: Chumbawamba’s “Don’t Pass Go”

  9. Andrew (not Werdna) on January 4, 2021 at 5:25 am said:

    @MixMat: I meant that “Foundation and Empire” and “Second Foundation” are better written than “Foundation” – there’s certainly some good stories in “Foundation” but there are some clunky bits too (particularly in “The Traders”), while “F&E” and “Second Foundation” are really solid (all IMHO).

    Ooh, rereading the whole Foundation saga earlier this year during lockdown, i would agree that “F&E” and “Second Foundation” are tighter, more solid books-but maybe becos of the 2 novella(or watever length) per book structure.

    Did you ever read his “Early Asimov” where he chronologically detailed some of his efforts while writing his earliest stories and how much he struggled with starting/finishing the stories in these 2 books.

    I take the stand that the struggle immensely improved the stories and the overall saga, up to that point, as he wasn’t seemingly just cranking it out-as he seemed to do after the first two Salvor Hardin stories. The thematic arc (for Asimov) seemed much tighter, in those two books than for most of his other works.

    The Robots, Galactic Empire, mysteries and standalones were all more scattershot as befits Asimov’s magpie nature but needing to follow through on the initial premise of Foundation was maybe forcing him to adhere to a consistency he later found constricting by the time of writing “Search by the Foundation” (or original title “…And Now You Don’t), and later when he continued on like 30 yrs later.

  10. @MixMat: Yeah, I read “The Early Asimov” – I remember how much the writing of the later stories in that book had improved over the earlier ones.

  11. I read The Da Vinci Code while on a transatlantic flight. I was sceptical and snobbish, but I found it was a real page-turner. At the time I had ambitions to be a writer – a very different sort of writer than Dan Brown – but I had to admit that he possessed that important page-turning skill that I certainly did not.

  12. @Cliff: I can’t recall now who described The Da Vinci Code as “the worst book that I couldn’t stop reading”.

  13. @Cliff,
    Short chapters. And end every chapter on a bit of a cliffhanger.

    I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code, but I have read the last few chapters of Digital Fortress (over a fellow commuter’s shoulder). The super hacker finally realising that the paragraph of random text could actually gasp be a cipher key indicated to me that Brown was not good at writing.

  14. @Soon Lee – that’s part of it, for sure. But there are plenty of other writers who do that but not so effectively.

  15. (9) I would put Magnunm, PI as adjacent for the OOBE he is obviously having during the last episode of the next-to-last season (the season that was supposed to be the last season but got renewed). He also demonstrated some minor level of psychic sensitivity: he dreamed of a friend’s death at the moment it happened in the one episode in Britain.

  16. “Worst book I couldn’t stop reading” was pretty much my reaction to Brown’s Angels and Demons, his first. Many of the failures were akin to a super hacker taking forever to realize that “random” text was in fact code. He’s very weak at a lot of things Filers tend to care a lot about. That’s why I never picked up another of his books. The few critical comments I ever saw made it clear he wasn’t bothering to get better at those things.

    But a lot of people are just looking for light, fast, exciting entertainment, and what Brown has in boatloads is that absolutely grab-you–by-the-throat page-turning goodness. He’s not going to change, because it’s made him rich, and I’m never going to read another Brown book because I want more than just page-turning goodness. And as long as no one tries to make us sit down together and talk about his books, we’re both happy.

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