Pixel Scroll 10/5/19 I Don’t Want A Pixel, I Just Wanna File On My Scrollercixel

(1) THE EXPANSE. The Season 4 trailer debuted today at New York Comic Con.

The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds. Behold what awaits the pioneers of Ilus. Full Season Coming December 13, 2019.

(2) LOST ON THE GROUND, TOO. Netflix also dropped the trailer for the second season of Lost in Space.

Have you seen our Robot? Lost in Space Season 2 returns December 24th. Only on Netflix.

(3) BOOK TARIFFS. Shelf Awareness surveys the damage to various markets in “Newest Tariffs, on the E.U., to Include Books”.

The newest tariffs to be imposed by the Trump administration, against the European Union and amounting to $7.5 billion on a range of goods, will include books, the Bookseller reported.

…Last year, the Bookseller wrote, U.K. publishers exported printed books worth £128 million ($158 million) in invoiced value to North America.

The new tariffs follow the World Trade Organization’s decision on Wednesday that the U.S. could tax $7.5 billion of E.U. goods to recoup damages after the WTO had determined in May that the E.U. illegally subsidized Airbus. The tariffs cover all kinds of goods, which the New York Times described as, in part, “a gourmet shopping list, with the administration planning to place a 25% tax on imports of Parmesan cheese, mussels, coffee, single malt whiskeys and other agricultural goods from Europe.” Oddly the tariff on airplanes will be only 10%.

The Times noted that the WTO is considering a parallel case brought by the E.U. against the U.S. for subsidizing Boeing, for which the E.U. has a list of $20 billion of U.S. products it might impose tariffs on. That case should be decided early next year.

(4) TRADEMARK TROUBLE NORTH OF THE BORDER. “CN Tower’s management company claims that any picture of the landmark building is a trademark violation” – let Boing Boing tell you how not impressed they are with the argument.

…James Bow is a Canadian fantasy writer whose small-press fantasy novel The Night Girl features a cover-art collage that includes a Creative Commons-licensed image of the CN Tower. Bow was getting ready for his book launch when the CN Tower’s management company wrote to him to insist that he not publish the book with the cover, on the grounds that people who encountered his novel might mistakenly believe that it was commercially affiliated with the CN Tower.

The Canadian Parliament has actually taken up the question of whether the owners of buildings can control the reproduction of their likenesses: Section 32.2(1) of the Copyright Act states that “It is not an infringement of copyright… for any person to reproduce, in a painting, drawing, engraving, photograph or cinematographic work…an architectural work, provided the copy is not in the nature of an architectural drawing or plan.”

In other words, you can’t stop people from reproducing the likeness of your building.

The CN Tower’s management clearly knew about this, so their threat to Bow invoked trademark law, advancing the bizarre theory that any commercial reproduction of the Tower’s likeness is intrinsically deceptive, since anyone who sees such a reproduction would automatically assume that the CN Tower endorsed the product that bore the reproduction (that is, people who encountered Bow’s book would immediately leap to the conclusion that the CN Tower had launched a line of fantasy novels).

(5) TREK VINO VERITAS. Never mind pictures of the bottles, how does the wine actually taste? Ars Technica says “Definitely better than synthehol.” “Boldly going where no palate has gone before: A Star Trek wine tasting”.

But arguably the most anticipated Trek happening of 2019 involved the announcement of a new series—Star Trek: Picard. Slated to debut in early 2020, the show picks up with the beloved captain retired to his vineyards before life intervenes. So naturally, in honor of the series and Picard’s true passion, we now have Star Trek Wines, a collaboration between CBS Consumer Products and Wines That Rock.

Obviously, Ars had to sample these wines—for you, our readers, because we’re selfless like that. We recently ordered a bottle each of the two featured wines, even snagging the last of the sold-out limited edition Collector’s Pack. From there, we put out some cheeses and charcuterie, and the Los Angeles-based Ars Technica contingent set about putting our palates to work.

(6) NEW PULLMAN FANTASY. NPR’s Jessica P. Wick’s review tells how “Philip Pullman Pushes The Limits Of His World In ‘The Secret Commonwealth'”.

Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth is a big novel full of big ideas, big characters and big sorrows. It is a tale of spies and philosophies and wit, of factions vying for control of the truth — or the public’s opinion of the truth. It’s an adventure, global in scope and epic in shape, but it’s also a story about being unsettled in one’s life, about living with consequences, of what happens to us when we are estranged from ourselves. I was fascinated, occasionally contemptuous as the story had me siding with one character over another, and always curious to know more about the world and what would happen and always in awe of Pullman. This book feels like a response to the darkness in our time as Lord of the Rings feels like a response to the darkness in J. R. R. Tolkien’s. (Though Pullman might find that comparison paltry.)

Yes, the story is big. But The Secret Commonwealth’s greatest strength is the care it takes to center the story in the individual; the importance it grants to what’s in our heroes’ hearts….


  • October 5, 1990 Super Force debuted. Intended it was designed to be a companion series to Superboy, it ran for two seasons. It featured G. Gordon Liddy as villain and had Timothy Leary and former porn stars Traci Lords and Ginger Lynn as guest stars. 
  • October 5, 2002 — In Japan, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed aired “False Peace”, the first episode of this anime. It ran for five years and fifty episodes.  The series spawned three compilations films and was adapted into a manga as well as light novels. A sequel series, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny followed in 2004. It later was released in an English dubbed version. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 5, 1902 Larry Fine. Yes, he’s known as a member of the comedy act The Three Stooges. And they did a lot of genre films including Have Rocket – Will Travel, a 1959 film in which the Stooges, including him, are janitors working at a space center who accidentally blast off to Venus. (Died 1975.)
  • Born October 5, 1905 John Hoyt. He was cast as Dr. Philip Boyce in the original pilot episode of Star Trek (“The Cage”) and he appeared twice during the second season of The Twilight Zone in the episodes “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “The Lateness of the Hour”.  He would also be the KAOS agent Conrad Bunny in the Get Smart episode “Our Man in Toyland”, and show up as General Beeker in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s episode “Hail to the Chief,” (Died 1991.)
  • Born October 5, 1919 Donald Pleasence. He was Doctor Samuel Loomis in the Halloween franchise and the President in Escape from New York. He also had a plethora of parts in other genre properties, a few of which include the main role in the movie Fantastic Voyage which was novelized by Isaac Asimov, roles in episodes of the The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Ray Bradbury Theater, a part in George Lucas’ first foray into filmmaking, THX 1138, John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness, and the role of Merlin in the TV movie Guinivere. My favourite film title for a work he was in? Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie in which he played the dual roles of Victor Frankenstein  and Old Baron Frankenstein.  (Died 1995.)
  • Born October 5, 1930 Skip Homeier. He appeared on Trek twice, once as Melakon in “Patterns of Force”, and as Dr. Sevrin in “The Way to Eden”.  I’ll single out two other genre roles, the first being his Dr. Clinton role in The Outer Limits episode “Expanding Human”; the other being of his last roles which was a one-liner in The Wild Wild West Revisited as a senior Secret Service official. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 5, 1949 Peter Ackroyd, 70. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein.  I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not but he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work. 
  • Born October 5, 1952 Karen Allen, 67. She’s best known for being Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a role she reprised for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. She also co-starred in Starman and Scrooged. She shows on Alfred Hitchcock Presents as Jackie in “The Creeper” episode. 
  • Born October 5, 1952 Clive Barker, 67. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art which isnot to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art.  There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his his ideas.  My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
  • Born October 5, 1959 Rich Horton, 60. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year both now longer being published, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy which is ongoing since 2009. He has been a reviewer for Locus for over a decade.
  • Born October 5, 1975 Marshall Lancaster, 44. He‘s best known for playing DC Chris Skelton in the superb BBC time-travel police series, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. He played Buzzer in “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People”, both Eleventh Doctor stories. 
  • Born October 5, 1975 Kate Winslet, 44. A longer and deeper genre record than I thought starting with being Prince Sarah in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court before playing Ophelia in Branagh’s Hamlet a few years later. She shows next as Clementine Kruczynski in the superb Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and was Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in the equally superb Finding Neverland. She’s Jeanine Matthewsin Divergent and Insurgent, and is slated to be Ronal in the forthcoming Avatar 2. She’s the voice of Miss Fillyjonk in the English dub of the Swedish Moominvalley series. Finally I’d like to note she narrated the audiobook version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

(9) TROPE TIME. James Davis Nicoll knows all the “SF Stories in Which Earth Is Liberated by an Alien Empire” but is willing to confine himself to the best at Tor.com.

In fact, I find myself wondering if it isn’t suspicious that Borisov is so remarkably unremarkable. How likely is it that one of the objects spotted tumbling in from deepest space would be arriving more or less where we’d expect it, with more or less the composition we would expect of a natural object? Isn’t that exactly how some inquisitive galactic civilization would cloak a probe, so as not to attract undue attention from locals? Perhaps the reason we’re suddenly seeing what seem to be mere space-rocks, comets, whatever, is not thanks to tech improvements on our side, but is because something is carefully looking us over.

(10) THE UNCONSIDERED SLIGHT. Nerdist observes that Disney is giving Avengers: Endgame a big “for your consideration” push in 13 different categories, including Best Picture and Best Director, while surprisingly skipping fan favorites:

The biggest shock here is that they aren’t putting forward any of the cast for acting nods. Audiences were sure that Robert Downey Jr. and possibly Chris Evans would be in the running for Best Actor at next year’s competition. From this line-up, it’s clear that Disney is more focused on technical awards.

(11) THE BIG BANG OF CRIME. Engadget adds it to the calendar: “‘Harley Quinn’ series debuts on DC Universe November 29th”.

The Harley Quinn animated series DC promised way back in 2017 finally has a premiere date for DC Universe — as the character said in the show’s trailer, “Unlike that Deadpool cartoon, it’s actually coming out.” Harley Quinn will land on DC’s streaming service on November 29th, the comic book giant has announced at New York Comic Con. The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco will voice the newly single “criminal Queenpin,” who’s out to make it on her own in Gotham City.

(12) LUNCH AT MR. FOX. Scott Edelman lunches in Dublin with Cheryl Morgan in Episode 106 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Cheryl Morgan

This time around, you’re invited to lunch with Cheryl Morgan, who’s a four-time Hugo Award-winning science fiction critic and publisher — first as the editor of Emerald City, which won for Best Fanzine in 2004, followed by another for Best Fan Writer in 2009. She has also been the non-fiction editor of Clarkesworld magazine, for which she won her third and fourth Hugo Awards in 2010 and 2011. She is a director of San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions Inc., and a founder of the short-lived Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation. She is a co-chair of Out Stories Bristol and lectures regularly on both trans history and science fiction and fantasy literature. She’s also a Director of The Diversity Trust for whom she run trans awareness courses. She’s the owner of Wizard’s Tower Press.

(13) CUT AND PASTE. NPR learns the way “Ancient Greek Scroll’s Hidden Contents Revealed Through Infrared Imaging”.

More than 200 years ago, scholars glued the remains of an ancient papyrus scroll onto cardboard to preserve it. But the scroll, a history of Plato’s Academy, also had writing on the back. Now scholars have deployed imaging technology to read what’s been concealed.

This scroll came from a library in Herculaneum, near Mount Vesuvius. And it was caught in the famous eruption of that volcano nearly 2,000 years ago — the same eruption that buried the city of Pompeii.

The scroll doesn’t look like much now. It’s blackened and in tatters. In fact, it looks like what you’d find at the bottom of your barbecue.

But the same processes that charred the scroll and the rest of that library also preserved it, according to papyrus scholar Graziano Ranocchia from the Italian National Research Council.

…Ranocchia said the huge spectrum range allowed them to penetrate the layers of the papyrus. “So with a huge penetration capacity, this is why we are able to read what our predecessors weren’t able to read through conventional multispectral imaging or infrared photography.”

What they found are bits of text that Philodemus wanted to insert into his book, such as quotes from other sources he was considering using in the history. Classicist Kilian Fleischer from the University of Würzburg, who is putting together a new edition of Philodemus’ history using these images, says it provides a unique view of an ancient philosopher’s writing process.

“We have here more or less the only case where we can really see how an ancient author worked and composed his book,” Fleischer says.

(14) SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET. BBC knows the reason why “China and Taiwan clash over Wikipedia edits”.

Ask Google or Siri: “What is Taiwan?”

“A state”, they will answer, “in East Asia”.

But earlier in September, it would have been a “province in the People’s Republic of China”.

For questions of fact, many search engines, digital assistants and phones all point to one place: Wikipedia. And Wikipedia had suddenly changed.

The edit was reversed, but soon made again. And again. It became an editorial tug of war that – as far as the encyclopedia was concerned – caused the state of Taiwan to constantly blink in and out of existence over the course of a single day.

“This year is a very crazy year,” sighed Jamie Lin, a board member of Wikimedia Taiwan.

“A lot of Taiwanese Wikipedians have been attacked.”

(15) THEY’RE STILL HERE. And so are we… “Pagers, faxes and cheques: Things that might seem obsolete, but aren’t”.

The roughly one thousand people who still used pagers in Japan might have shed a tear this week when they were finally discontinued. Wait, you may say… pagers are still a thing?

Even though you won’t find them in Japan any more, pagers are still used elsewhere. And they’re not the only “outdated” item still being employed around the world.

(16) DRESS FOR EXCESS. Isaac Arthur’s latest is on “Spacesuits & Extreme Environment Gear.”

There’s many dangerous places on Earth, and everywhere off Earth is downright lethal, from the emptiness of space to the airless and radiation soaked Moon to the smoldering inferno of Venus, humanity can’t visit them without protection. We’ll see what options for spacesuits are under works and what options might emerge for even better ones in the distant future.

(17) BAR FIGHT. Yahoo! News is handy with a link as “Regular Clowns Fight Joker And Pennywise In Brutally Funny Bozo Brawl With James Corden”.

… The bozos take their beef outside, into the streets. One regular clown (James Corden) threatens to shove his size 38 shoe up Joker’s rear end. Another (Cedric the Entertainer) tells the evil clowns: “Are you a scary clown or just a scared clown?”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/5/19 I Don’t Want A Pixel, I Just Wanna File On My Scrollercixel

  1. (4) I’m not impressed by that argument, either. Have they never seen structures on book covers before?

  2. (8) When there’s a Twilight Zone marathon, I always try to catch “The Changing of the Guard.”

    “Be ashamed to post until you have punned some Scroll for Pixelanity”

  3. @4: maybe somebody should write to CN to tell them that a random lunatic claims to be representing them?

    @6: the review also suggests that this book leaves too many things hanging; I’ve taken it off my TBR and will read both when the close of the trilogy comes out, because I hate reading unfinished stories.

    Meanwhile, the BBC’s Will Gompertz gives Joker 4/5 stars, saying

    But Joker has about as much in common with your typical superhero caper as Wonder Woman has with Dennis the Menace.

    Joker is a Trojan Horse: a dark art house film smuggled into the neon-lit world of multiplexes, disguised as a DC Comic Universe action adventure.

    leaving me to wonder whether Scorsese thinks it has sufficient gravitas to qualify as “cinema”….

  4. @4 that would mean most big-city hotels would be in violation, because every big-city hotel that I can remember featured utterly forgettable photographs of the Local Major Landmark(s) as “art” in the hotel rooms…

    (Also, FIFTH!)

  5. @Cassy B.
    The building where I go for most of my medical stuff has photos of very identifiable scenery in the various elevator lobbies: the Bay Bridge (with SF skyline), the back of the Hollywood sign, the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square.

  6. (3) Hardly surprising that the Trump gang would want to discourage the importation of things that encourage thought, and not really care about the cause of the dispute and protecting major American companies and jobs.

    (4) Has anyone checked to see whether CN really has hired a random lunatic to represent them? Right now the evidence seems to say they have.

  7. 8) — I didn’t realize that Karen Allen and Clive Barker are the same age. Allen’s reprise of Marion Ravenwood was one of the (very) few genuinely good things about Crystal Skull, and if/when they do Indy 5 with Harrison Ford, I hope she’s back as well.

  8. (15) Prisoners are allowed to listen to music on cassette tapes:

    “In many prisons, tapes have to meet special criteria before they’re allowed inside: tapes have to be entirely clear and sonically welded. The reasoning behind this isn’t consistent from prison to prison, nor is the logic entirely sound—but generally the policies stem from attempts to reduce smuggling and to exclude objects that could be easily weaponized (like the edge of a broken CD). The case usually also has to be completely see-through, so the entire package is easy to inspect.”

  9. @13: A more sfnal gizmo for doing this job lit off the plot of a James P. Holocaustdeniergan novel – Inherit the Stars, if I remember.

    @Chip Hitchcock: shades of this letter of note.

  10. 1) Glad to see the massively underrated Burn Gorman in this, though it seems he plays a villain once again. But then, the only things where he didn’t play villains were Torchwood, where everybody hated his character anyway, and Pacific Rim.

    3) When the EU retailiates (and it will), this means that English language books will once again get more expensive for me, especially since the possibility of a no deal Brexit will mean that books from the UK will also get more expensive. As someone who remembers the 1980s, when a mass market paperback cost me four to five times the US cover price and non-fiction books were so expensive I had to save up my pocket, birthday and report card money to afford them (which is why I still have all my SFF non-fiction books from the 1980s, because they cost me months of savings), I don’t look forward to this at all. I’m a free trade absolutist anyway who wants all tariffs abolished (apparently, this is radical, but to me tariffs are illogical and I have no idea why they still exist inb a global world). And pieces of crap like Trump and Boris Johnson would rather plunge the whole world into a recession to get their way.

    Also, making books more expensive won’t make airlines order more Boeings and fewer Airbusses, because books are not to blame for the safety issues at Boeing.

    4) I really hate this trademark/copyright overreach when photographing local buildings and having those buildings appear on a book cover (and they always go after book covers, never after tourist brochures). In France, it’s apparently so bad that they’ve been going after holiday pictures on Facebook that happen to show the Eiffeltower.

    15) I try to avoid dealing with cheques as much as possible, because my bank hates them and charges me high fees to deposit them to my account. And younger bank clerks often don’t even know what to do with cheques anyway. Usually, they have to get some senior staff member to handle them. But when dealing with some US entities, mostly official stuff like tax refunds, you cannot avoid those bloody cheques. I don’t have that problem with the UK, because companies, official bodies, etc… no longer use cheques and I have no business dealings with the usually elderly people who do. Though I was surprised, when HSBC still accepted a cheque from my old British Midland Bank chequebook from my university days a few years back.

    As for faxes, I still have a translation customer who has no e-mail and insists on sending faxes. When my fax machine broke a few years back, it was a huge problem for him before he found someone who could e-mail the documents.

    As for pagers, I haven’t seen any in twenty years or so. I’m not surprised that the NHS is still using pagers and faxes, though. If you’re dealing with doctors, health insurance companies, etc… in Germany, they insist on calling you by phone (which I hate) or sending you snail mail letters, because e-mail is apparently too insecure. A few years back, warnings about an e-coli outbreak were delayed, because the institute which did the tests sent the results in a snail mail letter to the ministry of health, which is absolutely irresponsible.

    Regarding cassette tapes, I wouldn’t even know where to get some these days, though I still have a machine capable of playing them. Even blank CDs are becoming hard to find.

  11. I just saw the new documentary Memory: The Origins of Alien, about the making of Ridley Scott’s and Dan O’Bannon’s wildlife appreciation film Alien, and purportedly about its deeper meaning. My review is here but basically, while I don’t not recommend it if you like Alien, I did find its cultural critique angle to be underwhelming and it’s nowhere near the comprehensive discussion that some reviews have said it is.

  12. 15) Both my doctors’ offices use fax rather than some other means of communication for the same reason they still use paper recprds: It’s a lot harder to hack paper.

    I still use checks for the same reasons I always have: When I’m a little short before payday, writing a slightly warm check has kept me fed.

    And I had a pager at work until recently, because I couldn’t afford unlimited calls and texts to my phone, and because it gave me a little more distance from work.

    The common thing these allegedly obsolete technologies have in common is a human advantage over finance capital, data spongers, labor thieves, and other scum.

    I’m hoping not to need cassettes any time soon, but I’m in the market for a good cassette deck (or a friend with one who likes rescuing old audio).

  13. @Cora Buhlert: But doesn’t a tourist posing in front of the Eiffel Tower (or any other landmark) make the photo a “transformative” work?

    8: Larry Fine. There are Stooge fans and Stooge haters (interestingly, usually along gender lines) but what most people in both groups don’t realize is: Watch Larry. Larry is ALWAYS doing something when he’s in the background…always. Sometimes its nonsensical, weird, off, but almost alway interesting. Moe and Curly may be having a great eye-poking joust in the foreground, but ignore it and watch Larry.

  14. 15) Vinyl records are also an excellent example of supposedly obsolete technologies that are doing quite well, thank you. I think the ritual of putting a vinyl record on a turntable and looking at the album art enhances the listening experience, like establishing “set and setting” for psychedelics. Speaking of cassettes, I have a used cassette deck with a built-in CD player so you can dub from digital onto tapes automatically.

  15. (15) My apartment management uses checks – it’s not really big enough for online payment to be worth it. (I prefer checks, anyway, because that way I know exactly what and when.) The alternative seems to be credit cards – and then you also pay interest on that bill payment.

  16. (15) I find I’m still writing 10-12 checks a year. Sometimes because it’s just the easiest way to pay a particular bill, and sometimes because I would be charged a fee to pay a bill by credit card and a stamp is cheaper.

  17. (8) Kate Winslet actually had an even earlier genre role, the BBC kid’s sf show Dark Season, which came out when she was 16. IMDb lists it as her second credited role. Dark Season was written by one Russell T Davies; when he was casting series 4 of the new Doctor Who, he approached her on the basis of that relationship to play River Song. If she had actually taken the part, I suspect series 5-7 of Doctor Who would have gone very differently!

  18. We have quite a few people who get physical checks where I work, so their wages are garnished but their whole accounts cannot be seized, because they don’t have accounts They go instead to a check-cashing place, which steals a big chunk from them. It costs a lot to be poor.

  19. @Patrick Morris Miller: that’s an earlier example than I’ve heard of — although I do wonder whether the letter was actually sent, or just passed around Browns Stadium for internal amusement. I know this happened with a “Dear Toad” letter answering someone who demanded a concom pay for the convention-logo merchandise he couldn’t sell because he hadn’t gotten a table; unlike the letter you point to, this induhvidual was actively in the wrong (not just stupid), because he hadn’t gotten permission to use the logo.

    @Rob Thornton: from stories on the BBC, vinyl records are actually making a comeback; people are refurbishing the pressing machines to keep up with demand. (I recall an interview of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady in which the latter said he was refurbishing his old turntable and the pair had deliberately put out some copies of their latest on vinyl.) However, I suspect the interest in experience won’t overtake economics; I’m 66, but I wouldn’t buy music I can’t play in the car.

    I just ordered a new pack of checks a few months ago, because in the US small businesses — even tax-exempt small businesses like the two choruses I sing in — get shafted by credit-card processors. I’ve heard total takeouts of 7-8% when various fees are included, so I buy music (5-7x/yr) and pay dues by check; Occasionally there’s also a magazine subscription that is easier to pay by check than to dig through a website.
    And I remember hearing of (but never seeing) concoms, when they thought everything was running well near the end of a convention, playing “beeper roulette”: throwing all the beepers in a pile and grabbing them out randomly, sticking people with issues outside their specialties. I last wore a beeper in 1992 (asst Exhibits head for Magicon); the next time I was doing enough at a big enough convention that a beeper might have been warranted was 2004, when cell phones were widespread.

  20. Should Clive Barker really be described as merely a Horror Writer? I know that’s where he got his start, and I know that his involvement with the world of films is still almost entirely centered around horror, but it seems like his literature–at least from what I’ve read–is often no more than horror-adjacent, and sometimes not even that. (Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, the absolutely fabulous Imajica, and The Thief of Always.) And that description seems to undervalue his impressive skills in world-building.

    I suppose it’s more mundane-acceptable than “fantasy author”, and helps him keep charging the big bucks, but it still seems a bit misleading to me.

  21. @Eli:

    Thanks to me, you were able to watch and critique Memory.

    I’m a “fan” investor of Legion M. One day I’m hoping for the blockbuster that actually gets me something back on the investment.

    In point of fact, I invested because film is starting to go the same indie route that publishing did, and I wanted in in some fashion: And Legion M is the studio that I spoke to about taking on the Amazing Stories TV show when I was fighting with NBC/Spielberg/Apple.

    Not unsurprisingly, “Owner of Amazing Stories” got me hardly anywhere, whereas “I’m a first round investor” opened the door.

    I get to vote on projects, comment on projects, get early opportunities to buy tickets for projects, get exclusive opportunities to invest even more in projects, but mostly ignore the happenings now that I no longer have something to shop to Hollywood. (If/when I do have a new project, I would not hesitate to pitch them first since – I’m a first round investor, lol).

    On the other hand, they do regularly solicity commentary and participation and do seem to be listening to their fan/audience/investors, so its not a “bad” thing.

    On Checks:

    I send out a few every issue of Amazing (most paid via paypal); I even had a set of nifty Amazing Stories Frank R. Paul cover checks made up for the purpose…hoping that maybe an author or artist might decide to frame it instead of cashing it….

  22. Xtfir, I called him a horror writer because that’s what he’s most likely to call himself. And though you don’t consider Weaveworld to be horror, it is usually so categorised.

  23. @John A. Arkansawyer
    After a couple of cases of banks refusing to open accounts for poor people became public, the German parliament passed a law requiring banks to give a basic account to everybody, regardless of income, because life without a bank account is pretty much impossible these days, when most payments are done via bank transfer rather than cheque or cash.

    Mailing out physical cheques is an incredibly inefficient, not to mention insecure system and hasn’t been in widespread use in Germany in my lifetime. At any rate, I don’t recall my parents ever physically mailing out cheques. All payments are done via direct bank transfer. You can do one off payments and you can set up recurrent payments such as rent, insurance premiums, utility bills, etc… to be done automatically every month. You can also authorise the payee to automatically withdraw recurring or one-off payments from your account.

    Cheques were mainly used for payment in shops, etc…, because many German shops didn’t accept credit cards. But they have been gradually replaced by payments via bank card or credit card. If a shop doesn’t accept cards or you don’t want to use a card, you pay cash. Most of my daily grocery purchases, etc… are paid cash. I only use my card for online purchases or larger purchases.

    Cheques pretty much died in Germany (and the rest of Europe), when the Eurocheque was phased out in 2002, though their use had been declining since long before then. Some banks still issue chequebooks, but I haven’t had one since the late 1990s and I never used it much. In fact, I still have that chequebook, since it contains a few unused blank cheques, so I don’t want to throw it away.

    If I do get a cheque these days, it’s inevitably from the US. Most translation customers, etc… pay via PayPal, but once in a while I still get a cheque. And if I do get a cheque, I have to physically take it to my bank (the main branch in the city centre, because no one in the local branch knows what to do with them), where a senior bank clerk needs to physically fill in a cheque deposit form (and because it is a foreign cheque, the form is extra complicated). Then I have to wait for a week or so, until the money finally shows up in my account and I have to pay a 15 Euro fee for the privilege of depositing a cheque, too. If it’s a smallish cheque, it’s barely worth cashing it at all.

  24. @Cora Buhlert
    Banks in Europe appear to be more trustworthy than many of those in the US.

  25. @Cora Buhlert: The paychecks are physically handed out to the few who request them. They’re people in financial difficulty whose entire paycheck would be taken it it were deposited into a bank account. Now, if I owed you money, I’d make you an EFT, because otherwise I’d be jerking you around. And I make some bill payments via EFT. But without a checkbook, I’d miss meals.

    It’s also the only way to force a human transaction in some stores. The job-killing automatic checkout stations can’t take checks, so I write one when I’m forced to use them.

  26. @Xtifr He’s also a gifted visual artist as well as a writer and director. His Abarat trilogy is a remarkable tour de force, considering that every page had at least one full painting done in oils. I’d reckon he may be even more accomplished as an artist than a writer, which is saying a lot.

  27. @John A. Arkansawyer
    Over here, people who have their wages seized get to keep a certain minimum, so they can live. A cheque also wouldn’t work as a workaround, because there would be a paper trail when it was deposited and the money would still be seized. The workaround people in such circumstances (and also people and employers who want to avoid taxes and social insurance payments) use is getting part of their wages cash in hand. This usually happens in the restaurant or cleaning industry, where there is comparatively little oversight. It can also be a trap. For example, my cousin was a chef and the restaurant where he worked paid him a fairly low official wage and an additional higher cash in hand wage. Which went well, until he suffered a near fatal heart attack at age 46 and could no longer work. Disability payments are low in such cases anyway and because his were calculated based on his official wages, they were ridiculously low.

    As for running out of money at the end of the month, you can overdraw your account, which incurs high interest (and poor people often have a low overdraft limit) or use a card and hope the bill doesn’t come in before next month’s money. Which usually works out with credit cards, but not so much with the more common bank cards, where the money is often withdrawn from your account within a day or two.

  28. @jon ault my student loan holder charges a fee for every method of repayment, save by check. So that’s how I make that payment.

  29. @Cora Buhlert: On giving this further thought, I don’t know for a fact that an entire paycheck can be taken except possibly under extreme circumstances. I do know that keeping some amount of it away from easy seizure is the motivation for some of the people who get paper checks, who also tend to be poorly paid.

  30. @Cat Eldridge: I agree that Weaveworld was sold as horror. That’s pretty much why I bought it. (“By the author of Hellraiser!“) But I also found it really disappointing as horror, though I loved it otherwise. It was a fabulous book but it didn’t really scratch my horror itch. >shrug<

    It did persuade me that I should buy more by the man, though, so…

  31. @ Xtifr: I agree that Weaveworld was sold as horror. That’s pretty much why I bought it. (“By the author of Hellraiser!“) But I also found it really disappointing as horror, though I loved it otherwise.

    Weaveworld was probably difficult to market because IMHO it was a “fantasy with elements of horror” and it couldn’t really fit in either set of genre expectations. But I really enjoyed it too. The book has an honored place in my paperbacks.

  32. My grandmother gave me a cheque for birthday present once 40 years ago or so. I think that is the only time I’ve seen one and I’ve never heard of anyone using them otherwise

  33. @Steve Davidson: Maybe too late for you to see this, but… I assume that was in response to the footnote on my Memory review, where I was wondering what the difference is between a “fan-owned” company and a crowdfunding effort. After reading your comment, I’m still unclear on the answer. You helped to fund a project; you don’t get a return on your investment, but you get various perks for having contributed; you can post comments, which they might take into account when making decisions. To me that sounds like crowdfunding. There are plenty of crowdfunded projects where I could tell you “Thanks to me, you’re able to see ____” and that would be accurate in the sense that I contributed, but it doesn’t mean that the project is owned by the contributors.

    Is the difference that you’re getting a share in the company overall, rather than in a specific project? If so… Legion M’s self-description still reads to me as hype, unless they only take small contributions from fans; if they also have traditional investors whose large amounts outweigh contributors like you, then the company is not really “fan-owned”. If there’s a way to find out those figures on their website, I’m not seeing it.

    Anyway, your phrasing—”Thanks to me, you were able to watch and critique Memory”—makes me think maybe you felt that because I expressed skepticism about the company, or because I wasn’t crazy about the movie, I was devaluing your contribution? I’ve contributed to plenty of projects, I understand feeling attached to them. I’m really not talking about that at all. And I would have had the same questions even if I had liked the movie more, or even if I hadn’t seen it.

  34. (15) My most common use case for checks is for one-time payments that have to be done by mail. For instance, I needed to get a couple death certificates from Orange County. That’s 400 miles (650 km) away, so in person isn’t feasible, and there’s no electronic interface since you need to provide notarized proof of identity. So I mailed in paper forms and a paper check.

    Note similarly how this year’s Site Selection ballot permitted the inclusion of a $45 check if and only if sent to the U.S. address.

    As for rent, my landlord’s property management company has been accepting electronic rent payment since 2014. (Before then I had to drive to their office and drop off a check in person.)


  35. My doctor, my primary care physician, whom I have been seeing for twenty years, only grudgingly accepted electronic medical records maybe two or three years ago. The long resistance was due to fear of hackability. I suspect his eventual concession to it was due to cost of space; I’ve seen the file of my info up to the point he switched over, and it is scary huge.

    The only way I can pay him for the few charges that aren’t covered by insurance is by check, or else by card when I next go to the office. I hold out for the next visit, but I suspect a lot of his older patients, and some of the younger ones, mail a check.

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