Pixel Scroll 10/8/20 It’s Time For The Retro-Dragon Awards

(1) CATS MEOW, LIZARDS THUNDER, BOOK HAPPENS. Filers Charon Dunn and Sally Smith collaborated on a book that’s newly released! What’s it about? Rhonda Wray’s “favorite boy band is trapped on a dinosaur planet and it’s up to Rhonda to save them!” Let’s eavesdrop on what their cats think about it: “Rhonda Wray: Raptor Wrangler by Charon Dunn and Sally Smith (according to their cats)”.

Charon Dunn (above) and Sally Smith (below)

…T.B. Kahuna: I helped write the Sonny Knight trilogy. She didn’t really give me any credit. She did give me some of the cake with the book cover decoration, and it had whipped cream frosting. 

Naomi: Pardon me, I didn’t mean to talk while you were interrupting. And yes, that was very good frosting. “Charon wanted to write about a girl adventurer going from zero to hero. And about dinosaurs, and boy bands, two things that have fascinated her for at least half a century. Sally wanted to make sure the science was tight and that the hero was truly heroic. They both undertook some serious #dinosaur research and many of their surprising findings are incorporated into the book.

For instance, raptors had feathers. There’s a little controversy over whether tyrannosaurids did, but raptors are basically birds with fangs, and they probably acted a lot more like crows or parrots than a pack of wolves. Which means they could probably communicate.” …

(2) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2020 is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

(3) MINTY FRESH. [Item by Dann.] Minty of Minty Comedic Arts dropped a “10 things” video about Dune recently.  He actually had quite a few things that I hadn’t heard before.  The behind-the-scenes ties to other genre properties were really interesting.

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About DUNE

As a result, I also saw this one from August.

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Matrix

(4) HI TECH, HIGH FEAR. “Thoroughly Modern Hauntings: How Ghost Stories Keep Finding New Ways To Scare Us”: Frazer Lee explains at CrimeReads.

…Modern ghost stories, rather than being exposed as bunkum by technology, have instead utilised that technology to create new sources of terror. Our baby monitors, camera phones, and laptop webcams have of course given us a window on a secure and happy world. But they have also provided the ghosts with a way in. Just in the same way that Shirley Jackson’s paranormal investigators found themselves possessed by the evil in Hill House, our need to connect with each other is now providing fertile ground for the ghosts to emerge. Poltergeist’s entry point for evil was the TV set in the corner of every living room, swiftly followed by Stephen Volk’s Ghostwatch (1992), which made us afraid to watch live TV broadcasts ever again…. 

(5) A TREK FOR NICKELODEON. Ars Technica excites Trek fans with news of “Kate Mulgrew returning as Capt. Janeway in Star Trek: Prodigy.

…Mulgrew popped in to make made the surprise announcement during the end of a Star Trek panel at this year’s all-virtual New York Comic Con. “I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway, and I can’t wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before,” Mulgrew said. “How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades. To be at the helm again is going to be deeply gratifying in a new way for me.”

…Prodigy, the first modern* Star Trek series to be explicitly targeted to a young audience, will be coming to Nickelodeon at some point in 2021. According to ViacomCBS, the show “follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning, and salvation.”

(6) ROCKET STACK RANK. Eric Wong forwarded the link to Rocket Stack Rank’s annual Outstanding SF/F Horror of 2019 with 28 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Included are some observations obtained by changing the Highlight from Free Online to Podcasts, changing the table View by Publication and Author, and Filtering the table by awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.

(7) WHO HOLIDAY SPECIAL. There’s going to be a Doctor Who holiday special – but exactly which holiday, they haven’t said. “NYCC 2020: The Gang Has To Fight A Dalek While The Doctor’s Stuck In Space Prison In Holiday Special”.

A lthough the cast of Doctor Who couldn’t reveal much about the upcoming holiday special Revolution of the Daleks, they were able to give fans a taste of what to expect during the virtual Doctor Who Spotlight New York Comic Con panel.

During the panel, series stars Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, and Bradley Walsh explained that Revolution picks up where the Season 12 finale left off, with The Doctor stuck in a maximum security space prison, while her friends were back on Earth, completely unaware of the Time Lord’s incarceration.


  • Fifty years ago, the British SF Association Award went to John Brunner‘s The Jagged Orbit, and it followed his BSFA Award win in the previous year for Stand on Zanzibar which also won a Hugo at St. Louiscon. It would also be nominated for a Nebula but did not win. It was first published by Doubleday the previous year, but it hasn’t been printed in almost twenty years, though Open Road Integrated Media has it as an ebook available from the usual digital suspects. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 8, 1916 – George Turner.  Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories; anthology The View from the Edge; memoir In the Heart or in the Head; essays, letters, reviews, in AlgolAmazingAstoundingAustralian SF News, Australian SF ReviewFoundationMetaphysical RevNY Rev SFSF CommentaryVector; Chandler, Clarke Awards; nine Ditmars (three for fiction, six for criticism); more work outside our field.  Named Guest of Honor for Aussiecon Three the 57th Worldcon but died before it was held.  Stern, perhaps waspish, distinguished.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born October 8, 1920 Frank Herbert. I’ll confess that I enjoyed Dune and Dune Messiah that’s as far as I got in the series. The BBC full cast audio version of Dune is quite amazing. The other Herbert novel I really liked was Under Pressure. Yes, I’ve read much more by him but all that I remember vividly. (Died 1986.) (CE) 
  • Born October 8, 1924 – Suzanne Martel.  Quatre Montréalais en l’an 3000 (tr. as The City Under Ground; rev. as Surréal 3000 and The City Undergound) seems to have been the first SF novel in Quebec (or Québec).  Two dozen novels in and out of our field.  Three ACELF Prizes (Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française), Metcalf Award (for body of work; Canadian Authors’ Ass’n), Canada Council Children’s Literature Award (for Nos Amis robots tr. Robot Alert), Governor General’s Literary Award.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born October 8, 1928 John Bennett. A very long involvement in genre fiction starting with The Curse of the Werewolf in the early Sixties and ending forty years later with a role on the Minority Report series. Being a Brit, naturally he appeared on Doctor Who in the prime role of Li H’sen Chang as part of a Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He had roles in Blake’s 7, Watership DownTales of The UnexpectedThe Plague DogsDark MythSherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (as Dr. Sigmund Freud!), Merlin of The Crystal Cave and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born October 8, 1941 – Penny Frierson, 79.  Chaired DeepSouthCon 15, co-chaired ConFederation the 44th Worldcon.  Guest of Honor at Coastcon 1978 with husband Meade; fanzines with him e.g. Friersign Theater PresentsScarfing Humble Pie; play (with MF) Shattered Like a Clockwork Orange.  Rebel Award.  [JH]
  • Born October 8, 1946 – Andrew Stephenson, 74.  Two novels, five shorter stories; a dozen covers, five dozen interiors.  Here is Vector 69.  Here is the Aug 75 Galaxy.  Here is an interior for Inferno in its magazine serialization.  [JH]
  • Born October 8, 1949 – Richard Hescox, 71.  A hundred fifty covers, fifty interiors; more outside our field.  Artbooks The Fantasy Art of RHThe Deceiving Eye.  Gaughan Award.  Cover designer for DAW Books 1987-1994.  Here is Walkers on the Sky.  Here is Once on a Time.  Here is Dancer of the Sixth.  Here is The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born October 8, 1949 Sigourney Weaver, 71. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and Lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film Best Dramatic Presentation Award after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre. And yes, I know Conspiracy ‘87 gave Aliens a Best Dramatic Presentation Award as well but I’m really not a fan of that franchise. (CE)
  • Born October 8, 1951 Terry Hayes, 69. Screenwriter of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior which he co-wrote with George Miller & Brian Hannant, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome with Miller, and From Hell (from the Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell novel) which he co-wrote with Rafael Yglesias. He’s also the writer of an unused screenplay, Return of the Apes. (CE)
  • Born October 8, 1954 Stephen Furst. Stephen is dead, damn it all. The saddest part of doing these birthdays is discovering how many folks have died that I reasonably expected were still living. Babylon 5 has had far too many deaths among its cast. He died of complications from diabetes at a far too young age. You know him most likely as Centauri diplomatic attaché Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, a decent being way over his head in a job he was ill-prepared for. He also directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel: Dragon StormPath of Destruction, and Basilisk: The Serpent King; he additionally co-starred in the last two films. And he produced Atomic Shark which aired during Sharknado Week on Syfy. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born October 8, 1983 Molly C. Quinn, 37. Fey / Intern Molly / Melony on the Welcome to Night Night podcast and Pemily Stallwark on the sort of related Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. She’s Jenny in the Authurian Avalon High series, and showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Howard’s date. (CE)
  • Born October 8, 1988 – Charlotte McConaghy, 32.  Author, screenwriter.  Eight novels.  Interested in nature and fierce women.  Migrations just released.  [JH]


  • Off The Mark gives a genre example of a “senior moment.”

(11) BEA MOVIE. Leonard and Jessie Maltin’s latest podcast is “Howard Ashman Documentary” which is a double-length episode centering around Don Hahn’s documentary Howard:  The Howard Ashman Story, currently streaming on Disney+. Director Hahn, who the Maltins had interviewed before, is interviewed along with Ashman’s life partner, Bill Lauch; his sister, Sarah Gillespie;, composer Alan Menken; and Little Mermaid writer/director John Musker.

Fun fact:  the producers of The Little Mermaid modeled villain Ursula after Bea Arthur but Arthur never read for the part because her agent refused to send her the script because he didn’t want her playing a witch.

(12) GEORGE CARLIN. Matthew Berry’s ESPN fantasy football column begins with a reminiscence about his first boss, George Carlin, which some of you who don’t hang around sports sites might like to read just the same.

…To be specific, I was the stage PA (production assistant) for “The George Carlin Show,” a 1994 sitcom that ran on Fox, so technically I was the assistant to George and the rest of the cast. But George was the star and, you know, his name was in the title, so it was made clear to me by my bosses that my primary and even my secondary duty was taking care of George and anything he needed, any time he needed it.

I answered the stage phone for him (George didn’t have a cellphone back then). I got meals for him. I would drive scripts to his house, and then I would drive George’s handwritten notes on scripts (George preferred to write things out longhand, and if he used email back then I never saw it) and bring them back to the writers room, among many other various tasks, all of them with the sole purpose of making George’s life easier.

I absolutely loved working for him.

As kind and gentle a guy as you’d ever want to meet, someone if you didn’t know who he was you’d never guess was a living legend. The exact opposite of his on-stage persona, he was always positive, not angry. Soft-spoken and unassuming, he was the first guy on the set every morning and the last guy to leave….

(13) JEOPARDY! Rich Lynch says tonight’s Jeopardy! has a whole category on science fiction novels.

Andrew Porter found contestants had trouble with this item —

Category: The World is Not Enough

Answer: In a Larry Niven novel, a motley crew of explorers travel to this ribbon-like “world” that encircles a star.

Wrong question: What is Discworld?

(14) PEGG’S PARANORMAL PROJECT. SYFY Wire eavesdrops on the New York Comic Con program: “Truth Seekers: Nick Frost And His Co-Stars Share Their Own Ghost Stories At Nycc 2020”.

When the Ghostbusters are busy and can’t catch a last-minute flight to England, who ya gonna call? Truth Seekers! Before the new paranormal comedy series hits Amazon later this month, Nick Frost and most of the core cast stopped by New York Comic Con to discuss the project, which Frost co-created with Simon Pegg, James Serafinowicz, and Nat Saunders. The panel kicked off with the actors recounting some of their personal experiences with the otherworldly.

After breaking up with a former girlfriend years ago, Frost came home to find all of his possessions (save for a single mattress) had been taken by his ex. With her gone, strange things started to happen.

“Me and Simon Pegg ended up sleeping on this single mattress and just watching The X-Files on this weird, TV-video player combo,” said the Shaun of the Dead actor, who plays Gus, a paranormal investigator posing as an internet technician. “But we’d hear the door banging all the time and this bell would ring. And then one day I was laying there, watching TV, and I felt a woman kiss my forehead. As I span ’round, thinking it was Simon mucking about, I was just there in the house on my own.”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Daniel Craig was on Jimmy Fallon’s show on Monday and said that he had never had a martini until he was chosen as James Bond, so the first thing he did was to go to Whole Foods, get a bottle of vermouth and a bottle of vodka and learned how to make one.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Eric Wong, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinan, John Hertz, Rich Lynch, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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30 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/8/20 It’s Time For The Retro-Dragon Awards

  1. (12) GEORGE CARLIN. I met him briefly some forty years back while working as a line cook in Bar Harbor, Maine. He was charming, very profane and spent his entire breakfast telling stories.

  2. Hi, me again. Current events… Yeah.

    So been reading.

    Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. I bounced out, returned, read about half the book, bounced out again and left to read…

    Harrow The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. The second-person chapters were a chore. If not for my intense desire to read this book, I’d have bounced and never looked back.
    I’m glad I made it through despite being utterly confused at the end holding the feeling that I know less about the world than when I started. Needs time to digest.

    Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. Finished it. This book dragged in so many places and when it all came together in the end I was left with the feeling of reading a heist story without the treasure at the end. Instead, it’s all left for the next book to resolve. Half a book gets half the score. One and a half stars.

    Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas. Annoyed at the end of the previous book I’m left glad that I don’t have to wait a year and can at least get on with it picking up where the last one… Dammit. A sequel that takes place at the same time as Empire of Storms with the POV of someone who left a book or two ago to go do stuff in the south. I was happy to be rid of him.
    Okay, fine, be like that. I’m hate-reading now. Stuff happens, information useful to the main story is imparted and now needs to be brought to our main protagonist from the other books. It was kind of okay aside from not having any resolution to the previous book which is kinna important. Two and a half stars round up to three.

    Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas. I’d have liked it better without Tower of Dawn. A little long, and after a long series the ending is drawn out.
    That’s fair, if you loved these characters then you want to see where they end up after. Uh, three stars I guess.

    The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. Topping off Throne of Glass with a collection of prequel stories, all this time with a series to find something I liked. Celaena being clever and skilled and snarky. Three stars, not quite good enough for a bonus point.

    Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. Reread. The weather sucked, my brain was fried and I needed an old friend. Breq was there for me. In every reread it always gets me how quickly Anaander Mianaai shows up and pressures Breq and company to move move move. Still good.

    Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Second read and second-person easier to deal with. It’s much easier to keep track of everything when I’m not being annoyed by that.

    So if in the first this is confusing, even upsetting, then once you’ve properly digested and incorporated that strange POV, the real power of this book shows through. I suppose it’s up to the individual to decide if the initial difficulty is worth the end result.

    Four and a half stars, minus half a star because I really hate second-person. Four Stars.

    To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini. John Carpenter’s the thing, Alien, The Guyver, Eragon-really?–Come on, Technomages, The Simpsons, Wargames, Firefly, The Force Awakens, Aliens, Ghost in the Shell, Spiderman, The Matrix, others I missed probably. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t that good either. Three Stars.

    Rage by Bob Woodward. Non-genre. Has all the same problems as Too Much and Never Enough. Was there a recent mad-king themed anthology because like I feel like I’m reading all the rejected stories.

    Battle Ground by Jim Butcher. Other half of peace talks. Title says it all, battle, much battle and a bit of battle. Most of the book was fighting and blowing stuff up. Half a book gets half the score 1.5 stars.

  3. 15) Please tell me he already had a bottle of gin at hand.

    Recent watches: Beach Blanket Bingo. It has a mermaid as one of the subplots, so it’s genre, isn’t it? It’s quite an odd mix of stuff (Buster Keaton, Don Rickles, Annette Funicello), but the early 1960s music is good.

  4. (1) is free all weekend as we celebrate the fact we finally got around to having a launch celebration, and I really wish I could box up a drink, a plateful of festive party snacks and a couple hours of music with it. We met in the comments, so this book wouldn’t exist without File 770 (for better or worse).

    (14) I have the most boring ghost story ever. I was sitting with a half-dozen friends in the living room of a SF Victorian. Suddenly we all stopped talking. We all looked at the east corner. Our gaze collectively traveled across the room to the west corner. Then we resumed talking as if nothing had happened. A couple minutes later, one person remarked on this, and another said, “oh, must have been a ghost.”

  5. Things continue to be dull here, with pesky credentials and occasionally-orange celestial objects and skies. All hail DoorDash and my air filter.

    Reading — been on a mystery and history binge of late, Mysteries and histories have the currently-delightful quality of knowing how they end, and generally in mysteries, the Bad People get what’s coming to them. Ahem.

    (1) proves Camestros’ description of this site is accurate but may need “(and write)” appended. Also, I went to the party the cats mention and it was really good frosting.

    I got the book when first published, and it’s very fun.

    (4) I’m actually glad TV stations don’t go off the air any more because then you don’t have to worry about Poltergeists coming out of your set. And it’s not like it’s a childhood trauma — I saw that movie with my husband…

    I do take mild umbrage (umbragette?) at “swiftly following”, those movies being 10 years apart.

    (5) I wonder if I could possibly be less-interested in this version. I have been watching the first season of “Discovery” now that it’s on free TV to fill airtime that there aren’t new shows for.

    (7) When did they shoot this?

    (9) We have an autographed VHS of a diabetes-explaining video from Furst that we got from him at a local con. It’s funny, parodying action movies. https://www.amazon.com/Diabetes-Guys-D-4-G-Guy-Flick/dp/B000059XW3
    I am sad again, but glad Vir waving at (spoiler) lives on as a GIF.

  6. Congratulations Charon!

    My favorite Frank Herbert novels other than Dune are The Santaroga Barrier and The Dosadi Experiment. I didn’t care for any of the Dune sequels.

    My recent genre reading has been slight as I’ve mostly been re-reading. I’ve read all of the Muderbot books, the Ancillary series and Provenance and all of the T. Kingfisher novels. I’ve also reread all my Jennifer Crusie novels, some of which are genre and all are funny with great characters.

    New to me reading:

    2 new T. Kingfisher novels, A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking and Paladins Grace, both highly recommended

    Light Brigade, and thank you to the Filer who encouraged me to finish it. Great book!

    Memory Called Empire, highly recommended.

    Gideon the Ninth, which I enjoyed but probably not enough to read Harrow.

    I began Throne of Glass but couldn’t complete the free sample. It just didn’t hold my interest.

    Just about to finish The Calculating Stars, which I am enjoying.

  7. 9) Only non-Dune Herbert I’ve read are Whipping Star (more comedic than you would think from a book of that title) and The Green Brain (decidedly not for entomophobes; I wish David Cronenberg would direct an adaptation of it).

    9bis) I remember The City Under Ground fondly from back when; one of these days I’ll revisit it. I don’t think the Suck Fairy will have been at it too badly…

    9tris) “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” was one of my favorites, and by coincidence it’s next on my rewatch list. Alas, it is a bit Sax Rohmerish.

    9tetrakis) Weaver also was – and apparently will be – Dr. Grace Augustine.

    9pentakis) National Lampoon’s Animal House is in continuity with one of the acts of Twilight Zone: The Movie, so Furst as Kent ‘Flounder’ Dorfman is another genre-adjacent role, surely.

  8. Reading: About half way through John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting, which is a remarkable book, but which also demands attention in the way that most of my other recent reads (the first five Tarzan novels, Philip Jose Farmer’s first two Hadon of Ancient Opar books, two Karl Edward Wagner pastiches of Robert E. Howard characters, and a 1970s paperback Lovecraft collection) most definitely did not.

    I’m very glad Dragon Waiting is back in print, and look forward to getting the rest of Ford’s books as they again become available.

  9. (9) Suzanne Martel’s The City Under Ground! While it wasn’t my first SF, it might have been one of my first YA SF novels, along with Ben Bova’s “Escape!” It might qualify as my first dystopia.

    I’m not sure how it would hold up today. Unfortunately, there is no Kindle edition, and the used paperbacks are available at collectible prices.

  10. Anne Marble says I’m not sure how it would hold up today. Unfortunately, there is no Kindle edition, and the used paperbacks are available at collectible prices.

    I see hardcover copies on eBay for around ten dollars plus shipping.

  11. Stephen Furst’s death affected me in a way most deaths do not. I never met him. He just had a way about him. I guess I like nebbishy guys.

    Glück’s win is unexpected, but welcome. I read a news item in which they claimed the last US lit winner was Toni Morrison…is Dylan Canadian?

  12. Brown Robin asks Glück’s win is unexpected, but welcome. I read a news item in which they claimed the last US lit winner was Toni Morrison…is Dylan Canadian?

    No, he hasn’t renounced his citizenship so he’s still American. Where was that news item? It wasn’t of a Puppyish nature perhaps? The Right Wing doesn’t like him at all.

  13. Meredith moment:
    The UK Kindle Daily deal, having been SF free for some time has no less than three books today
    Never Let Me Go (science free SF)
    The Day of the Triffids
    Machines Like Me (which I think is one of those mainstream writer discovers obvious SF tropes and swears blind that he’s not writing SF books)

  14. I liked Dune a great deal. Great book. The next book in the series bored me to tears. I was a lot younger then and probably ought to give it another go as I’ve not read anything else in the series.

    My favorite non-Dune book by Herbers is The White Plague.

    15) He could have gone with a Zen martini. Vodka shaken with ice. Poured into a glass with appropriate garnish. Followed a period of meditation on the possibility of a bottle of vermouth passing near the glass.

    @Patrick Miller Morris

    Weaver also was – and apparently will be – Dr. Grace Augustine.

    That was in Avatar. I can’t imagine how they might bring her back in the sequel. Sigourney is a fantastic actress, but bringing her back in this franchise is probably going to require a rather torturous bit of plotting.

    Recent reading

    the first four books of the Murderbot series. They were as good as everyone claims. But I’m not paying $14 for a novella. I’ll read the rest later.
    Scalzi’s The Dispatcher. I heard him perform the first chapter live at a semi-local bookstore many years ago. The book is fine for what it is, but it fell short of what I was expecting/envisioning.
    The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang; recent SPFBO winner. It won for very good reasons. 5 stars.
    now reading The Last Campaign by Martin Shoemaker. I read the first book in the series, The Last Dance, and was mightily impressed. (this was a big miss for the accolades circuit, IMHO) The Last Campaign shifts character and location focus to the chief of police for Maxwell City on Mars. The writing is good, but I’m not sure where the story is going just yet.

    tunes – Breaking the Chains by Dokken

    Reality simply consists of different points of view. – Margaret Atwood

  15. @cat Eldridge

    It was a reputable news source. I think they either just forgot Dylan, or it was a typo. I’ve since read stories pointing out that Glück is the first US woman since Morrison.

    It’s also possible I simply didn’t catch the “woman” in the sentence, which suggests all sorts of sfnal interpretations.

    The “woman” people don’t read, perhaps.

    So: fun in any case!

    It’s been awhile since I saw the movie, but I think the agent was accidentally right in this case. I love Bea Arthur, but I don’t think she would have been good as Ursula. We’ll never know, of course. She’d’ve been great as a witch.

  16. (9) I like Herbert’s “The God Makers” – it’s not heavy or deep reading, but it’s entertaining. (Novel is a fix-up of two or three shorter works, but doesn’t feel much like it.)

  17. 15) Martinis seem to be strangely out of fashion these days. E.g., a couple of years ago I had to tell a bartender how to make one…

    …and this was at a James Bond themed event.

  18. My reading habits have really fallen off a cliff this year— it’s been months since I got anywhere in a book. That was annoying me and I thought, well, I clearly have some kind of mental block on picking up anything that might take some concentration; maybe I can kickstart the process with the easiest sugar-rush material I can find.

    So I ended up getting an old Gregory Benford technothriller, Artifact, as a library e-book. I dimly remembered flipping through Artifact long ago, maybe in an airport bookstore, so I knew it had something to do with physicists and military creeps fighting to possess an ancient plot object that probably contains a tiny black hole or the like.

    That’s basically accurate but I can’t describe Artifact in great detail, because I almost immediately started skimming it at high speed once I realized Benford was getting way too into the mundane aspects of writing an international spy-ish story: endless travelogue passages, endless arguments with stereotyped foreign antagonists about who has authority over what… and at least 10,000 occurrences of the male protagonist thinking that the female one is really hot, while she is thinking that he’s a sexist oaf but there’s still something oddly fascinating about him, etc. (will they eventually get together and produce a few hasty sentences of cringe-worthy sex prose? what do you think?). That’s basically the first two-thirds of the book. I persevered only because I wanted to see the cool science thing, dammit.

    And eventually you do! There follows some procedural lab mystery stuff and Benford is, as usual, quite good at writing about scientists doing their jobs; they even turn into somewhat more interesting characters as long as that’s going on. Then the villains return and cause a bunch of escalating problems with the artifact and we’re chasing it across the ocean floor and the book is suddenly a really entertaining technothriller with very little chaff. Now, when you get toward the end of a book like this— where there is one main villain who has caused all this trouble by wanting to possess the dangerous SF object, and everyone is like “No, it’s too dangerous, you don’t understand!”, and he’s like “Raar, I will possess it, you can’t stop me”— there is really just one event you’re waiting for. This event must happen, and it does; Benford pulls out some pretty impressive gruesome special effects as that guy gets his ironic just deserts (although it’d be more ironic if he’d actually brought it about by one last arrogant decision, like opening an Ark or something, instead of just randomly choosing to stand in the wrong place while menacing our heroes). It’s the cheesiest possible plot resolution in an extremely ’80s way, and I may have laughed out loud in appreciation of its shamelessness and its undeniably snazzy execution. Then there’s a happy ending and some not-bad but very rushed “here’s the SF explanation for some mythology” stuff.

    So there you go, that’s my big reading achievement for this fall: maybe 20% of Artifact, out of which I can highly recommend maybe a quarter.

  19. @15, some years back my husband and I went on a cruise. This was in the Before Times, of course, when there were still cruises. The ship was full of little bars and boutique restaurants; they had a piano bar called “The Martini Bar”. My husband likes a good martini, and while I don’t drink, I’m not averse to listening to some nice piano jazz while he drinks it, so we went in. The waitress offered my husband a martini menu. He waved it off.
    Him – “I just want a martini, please.”
    Her – (still brandishing the menu at him) “We have chocolate martinis and fruit martinis and…”
    Him – “Just a martini.”
    Her – “What brand of vodka?”
    Him – “Martinis don’t have vodka. That’s a Kangaroo cocktail. I’d like a martini, please.” She was entirely flummoxed, so he had a little mercy. “With Beefeater gin, please.”
    Back on track, she recovered and asked, “Onion or olive?”
    My husband was on a roll, now. “I don’t want a Gibson, I want a martini….”

    (My husband enjoys being contrary at times, in case you haven’t noticed.)

    After she finally got his order straight, the bartender came over to clarify. My husband had to instruct him on how to make a proper (i.e., gin) martini; he’d apparently never been asked for one before….

    While this whole thing was going on, I took a look at the martini menu. It didn’t have a single gin martini listed.

  20. I have very bad memories of gin. It only took one (surprise) shot while playing spoons to cure me of ever putting that stuff past my lips. I was expecting rum.

    It was a long time ago…..

    ” ” said Pooh as he was rendered speechless

  21. Cat Eldridge wrote:

    I see hardcover copies on eBay for around ten dollars plus shipping.

    Why didn’t I notice that when I checked?! Right at the top of the listing, too.

  22. @Dann —

    I have very bad memories of gin. It only took one (surprise) shot while playing spoons to cure me of ever putting that stuff past my lips. I was expecting rum.

    Dann! I knew you couldn’t be all bad. 😉

    The only time I ever got a real hangover was after drinking about 1 shot’s worth of gin.

    Never again.

    (OTOH, I don’t much like vodka either. I’ll take whiskey/whisky, please, usually bourbon.)

  23. Dann665:

    Recent reading

    the first four books of the Murderbot series. They were as good as everyone claims. But I’m not paying $14 for a novella. I’ll read the rest later.

    Just FYI, while the first four in the series are novellas, the fifth (Network Effect) is a novel. I don’t know if that brings the price into consideration for you, but thought I’d mention it.

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