Pixel Scroll 10/12 Paladin of Pixels

(1) If today is The Martian’s birthday remember that…

…in nine days Marty McFly arrives from the past

(2) Can you pass HowStuffWorks’ “Real Tech or Star Trek?” quiz?

Confession: I bombed.

(3) Jeffro Johnson has completed his Appendix N survey. Keep reading and he’ll explain what that means —

So it’s all up now.

With this piece on Tolkien going up, I’ve done forty-three posts on Appendix N now. I read every book Gygax mentioned by name, at least the first book of each series, and I picked out one representative work for each of the entries that consisted of an author’s name alone. I also wrote about two thousand words on each book.

(4) A bit more from 2013 on how journalists exploited Gravatar to identify online commenters.

“Crypto weakness in Web comment system exposes hate-mongering politicians”

Investigative journalists have exploited a cryptographic weakness in a third-party website commenting service to expose politicians and other Swedish public figures who left highly offensive remarks on right-wing blogs, according to published reports.

People have been warning of the privacy risk posed by Gravatar, short for Globally Recognized Avatar, since at least 2009. That’s when a blogger showed he was able to crack the cryptographic hashes the behind-the-scenes service uses to uniquely identify its users. The Gravatar hashes, which are typically embedded in any comment left on millions of sites that use the avatar service, are generated by passing a user’s e-mail address through the MD5 cryptographic function. By running guessed e-mail addresses through the same algorithm and waiting for output that matches those found in comments, it’s possible to identify the authors, many of whom believe they are posting anonymously.

“Disqus scrambles after leak fuels Swedish tabloid expose”

Disqus is updating its widely-used comments platform after a Swedish tabloid exposed politicians and other public figures for allegedly making highly offensive comments on right-wing websites.

The Swedish daily Expressen, working with an investigative journalism group, said it uncovered the identity of hundreds of people who left offensive comments at four right-wing websites through their email addresses. It then confronted the authors of the comments, many of whom freely admitted to writing them.

(5) “Dinner and a Movie with Vincent Price featuring Victoria Price” is in Toronto on November 18 and 19. The event at the Gladstone Hotel features a four course meal created by Gladstone Chef Katie Lloyd and inspired by the late actor’s 1965 cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes. Tickets are available.

And for nostalgia’s sake, here is a video of Vincent Price guesting on a cooking show with Wolfgang Puck.

(6) Jerry Pournelle reports that the new There Will Be War collection, volume 10, is filling faster than expected:

There are still a few fiction slots open, and we are looking for serious previously published non-fiction on future war; previous publication in a military journal preferred but not a requirement.

Oddly, some of the aspiring contributors don’t seem to understand what the collection is about. Publisher Vox Day warned

PLEASE STOP SUBMITTING straight SF, urban fantasy, SF romance, and anything that is not clearly MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION. A submission will be rejected out of hand as soon as it becomes apparent that it is not mil-SF. We’ve received a startling number of submissions that are not even remotely relevant to one of the most famous anthology series in science fiction.

(7) Mascots meet under the Hugo at Octocon.

(8) Ah, Sweet Marketing!


(9) Nathan Barnhart’s review of Ancillary Mercy for Speculative Herald is touted as its “first 10 star rating”:

Along the way we get a few surprises. Most noticeable for me is the humor that is present more than at any other point of the series. Breq herself gives us some lighter moments; including padding a report with results of radish growing competitions. But most of the humor comes from the translator to the mysterious Presger (an alien group that once treated humans as their own ant farm but is now confined by a treaty). Zeiat, while acting as a translator between two races provides the humor by some humorous cultural misunderstandings. In lesser hands Zeiat could have been nothing more than a cheap form of comic relief but here she serves a very real purpose within the story.   Beneath the humor of the misunderstandings is the constant reminder that even a culture as expansive as the Radch are at risk. The Presger are held in check only by a treaty they signed; a treaty the Radch still doesn’t completely understand the implications of.

(10) Io9 posted a detailed infographic “Get To Know The Incredible Starships of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Trilogy” a couple of weeks ago, which is even more fun now that I have read the third book.

(11) Screen Rant presents “10 Movie Outtakes That Made It To The Big Screen.”

(12) And here is my Get Out Of Literary Jail Free card, sent by somebody who thinks I will need it, because of the way I phrase Frankenstein stories in the Scroll.

[Thanks to Will R., Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

333 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/12 Paladin of Pixels

  1. rob_matic on October 14, 2015 at 7:03 am said:
    JJ on October 14, 2015 at 6:38 am said:

    … The Puppies spending all their time and energy slating the nominations to include stuff that would probably have been nominated anyway is a total win situation as far as I’m concerned. And it would be funny.

    As long as it doesn’t scuttle voting reform.
    Really, really want that particular door thoroughly closed.

  2. I’m not so keen on the Puppies throwing weight behind likely nominees. I wouldn’t want doubt cast on someone who might have been nominated anyway (as happened with the Editor categories for certain) or for someone to miss out on a nomination when otherwise they would have just beaten someone who ended up getting a Puppy boost.

    I’d really rather they just stopped making slates.

  3. Meredith, write to anyone you may be concerned about and ask them if they want to be associated with a puppy slate. If they say “no”, feel free to ignore the slate.

  4. The seeing for Deed of Paksenarrion is basically the D&D campaign nozzle Temple of Elemental Evil with the serial numbers filed off.

    As for me, I’m right now interested in the intersection and cross-fertilization that’s gone on between anime and Western literature, with original heavy influences if D&D and video games, but that’s taken off in a weird direction all it’s own. For all the trapping of western fantasy that a series like say, Tweeny Witches had, it’s really about as far from Tolkien as you can get.

  5. “I consider File770’s time machine to be a feature, not a bug. ;-)”

    I’m really behind on comments, but I totally agree. Don’t fix it, please!

  6. And on the other hand you have Record of Lodoss Wars which, if I recall correctly, was literally based on the writer’s D&D campaign, and is pretty much everything I wish the Dragonlance animated feature would have been.

  7. P J Evans on October 13, 2015 at 8:58 pm said:

    bookstore across the street from the Winchester Mystery House
    Wait, there was a bookstore by the Century theaters? How did I miss it?

    Okay, I’m really late to this, but I had to comment because — I used to work at that bookstore! Books Inc., at the Town and Country mall. And yes, the manager, Dennis, had a terrific feeling for books, and Bernie, the guy in charge of the science fiction section, was great. And I met my husband there, but that’s another story.

  8. @Mark — I really enjoyed that Shannara article. I, too, was eleven in 1977, and I, too, read Shannara and enjoyed it at that age.

    I used to have a really high tolerance for vaguely Tolkienesque epic quest fantasy, and enjoyed many books, at the time, which… I am no longer able to enjoy.

  9. Re: Rudyard Kipling

    I’m a Canadian engineer, so already have Kipling references at hand (Kipling wrote the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, aka the Iron Ring Ceremony, for Canadian engineering students; The Sons of Martha is basically a love song to engineers, and all those who keep the infrastructure of society running so most people don’t have to care about it).

    Heck, I was creating a shaman character for a Shadowrun game once, and the entire character just crystallized for me when I quoted to myself, “I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.” (End result, an amnesiac with a Cat mentor spirit who pretended not to care that he had no idea how he got here. And a couple of skill points in English literature, where he would occasionally quote Kipling.)

    You can acknowledge some of Kipling’s problematic attitudes about colonialism, the noble savage, and the like (and he was better than many of his time), while still agreeing that the man was an absolute marvel at turning a phrase, practically re-inventing old sing-song oral storytelling techniques for a Victorian era audience. The Just So stories straddle the line between prose and poetry.

  10. @Mark,

    Haha. Wow; it seems to very nearly touch on everything that we’ve been hashing through here this week.

    Even if the collective strikes Brooks, I haven’t seen anyone post any credible replacement for #6.

    It seems that Moorcock, Le Guin, and Zelazny are uncontroversial.

    I will defend my choice of McCaffery related to Gygax. The charge was made that hers were not traditional fantasy dragons — not Smaug — but ‘weird fantasy’ (or even sf, actually). I’ll submit Gygax’s tastes. He wrote a relatively small number of modules personally, one of which was Expedition to Barrier Peaks from 1980. The players know it affectionately as “the starship dungeon” or the “adventure with lasers.” Gygax was always quick to stress the open nature of his rules as well as the “weird fantasy” aspects. I’m not so quick to dismiss Pern as a possible option.

    Silly But True

  11. Pern is definitely science fiction through and through. McCaffrey was very clear on that and so are the books themselves.

    @steve davidson

    Well, that wouldn’t really resolve my concerns but thank you for the suggestion. 🙂

  12. I ran the Gygax module Tomb of Horrors shoehorned into a longer campaign a few years ago. I don’t know what inspired Gygax to write it but my players swiftly started declaring “Gygax was an asshole!” after each sequence of unlikely dungeon events.

  13. @Mark,
    Tomb of Horrors is infamous for likely being the most hated module in all of gaming. Most people experienced it the way you did, and of course it doesn’t make any sense. Gygax relies on just about every cheap mechanic he chastises GMs for in his DM Guide. It’s filled with one-shotting arbitrary and inexplicable traps without allowing any saving throws.

    The reality is that while widely published in 1978 it was one of the first tournament style adventures specifically created for play at 1975’s Origin 1 convention — the goal was for multiple groups played in multiple sessions throughout the convention to compete against each other to see which group could progress the furthest into the tomb; beating the adventure wasn’t generally intended. It was a progression competition gauntlet run. When you just run it with a single group, it takes on a completely different dynamic.

    Silly But True

  14. Yeah, years ago, our DM ran our regular gaming group through Tomb of Horrors. We pretty much staged a mutiny after several long-established characters died permanently due to no-save traps. We could accept it if it was something stupid the character did. This was just arbitrary.

  15. I remember Books Inc fondly. It was a little far for me to get to, but I did go over there – actually it wasn’t that close to Mrs Winchester’s house, it was more right across from the mall – a long walk, or two buses.

  16. Mark on October 14, 2015 at 9:38 am said:
    As if by magic, a really interesting article on Shannara from Black Gate today.

    Thanks for this. Yet another worthwhile visit to the Black Gate.

  17. @rob_matic

    I think Black Gate will be on my nomination list next year. They put out some very good work.

    Almost all of the genuinely good Puppy picks opted out.

  18. On further digging around at Black Gate, I see that Matthew David Surridge has an ebook collection of some of his reviews available on Amazon and Kobo.

    Probably a worthy purchase for those who have enjoyed his writing on the site.

  19. Yes, I’ve had Black Gate in my feed for a while and they publish some really good stuff. They follow the fantasy magazines quite closely, for example, and their longer articles are often excellent.

  20. I’m posting from way back in page 3 – been out and unable to read the site much at all since last Friday – so hopefully my comments make sense in the context of the conversation as it’s evolved.


    Reading the comments over at Correia’s place is a really good object lesson in in-groups having literally no idea how they appear to outsiders. I wonder what weirdo extremist things occasionally get said here that we don’t notice? I’d expect substantially less of them since there isn’t a consistent political ideology here, but perhaps there are still a couple of things?

    I’ve often wondered that, myself. I don’t trust people to necessarily even know their own minds, we’re all so completely immersed in our own experiences.

    I did think people’s need here to criticize Torgersen’s puppy activity when the subject was a post about writing was an example of my fellow File770ers taking things too far, and some of the discussion about Pournelle’s post. I mean, it’s hard not to take pot shots when you’re constantly under attack, so I do definitely understand (and have and often give into) that urge.

    There are one or two posters here who are very into arguing vehemently with their “enemies” (for lack of a better word). That’s kind of my natural state, too, but I’ve been trying very hard not to, as I don’t argue well when I think the person I’m arguing against is completely full of shit and wrong to the point where I begin to question their intelligence. I end up having more fun snarking than communicating.

    All that said, I see very little evidence of the crazy blinders many of the puppies wear (particularly those at MGC and of course VD’s site), but then I wouldn’t, if I’m wearing my own.

    Regarding Appendix N and Jeffro – I find it hard to believe Jeffro was only familiar with Tolkien in that list. I’m about his age, and I’ve taken long breaks from SFF to read horror, or literary fic, or esoteric/occult books, or, sadly, nothing at all when I’m too busy to read, but I have read 18 of the authors on that list, and have read multiple works by probably 10 of them (I’m guessing, too lazy to check). Not to have read Vance, Lieber, neither of Howard or Lovecraft, etc…. that just seems crazy for someone very invested in SFF and 40ish years old. I suspect he must have come recently from a more gaming/movie background, like previous posters have postulated regarding fans intensely into MilSF. Given his interest in RPGs, that makes sense. I think he needs to read and absorb the XKCD comic “Ten Thousand” that a lot of people around here reference, rather than leaping to the conclusion that SFF is devolving and/or dying.


  21. @Kathodus

    I’ve generally felt that Torgersen’s writing-related posts were fair game to the extent that they talked about his personal prejudices about what was good writing, because those prejudices were what he used to select his slate and justify why he felt prior winners were invalid. There’s an element of unfairness in this when he’s mostly just giving practical advice, but as he’d pointedly avoided justifying many of his choices and claims it was a matter of taking what could be found.
    Generic advice like “get beta readers” and “write lots” was obviously not worthy of criticism, but equally not worth commenting on for a non-writer.
    I appreciate that the end result of that probably looks remarkably like pulling out tiny things to criticise and ignoring the rest.

  22. @Kathodus

    Happily, both the Torgersen and Pournelle things had push-back from other commenters here, which I find reassuring.

    I take Heather’s point (not sure if you will have hit her comment) that people sometimes refrain from criticising another commenter. I know there are times when I’ve let something slide that I felt crossed some line or other because I just didn’t have the spoons at that moment to deal with it if the commenter(s) in question took it badly.

    Today I’m more concerned about a couple of cases of intra-Filer fractiousness when there wasn’t really a good reason for it (in my not-so-humble opinion) and how that might be headed off in future, but I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for when I might be straying over a line or letting something slide when I do have the spoons to say something or at least back someone else up. Communities require maintenance! 🙂

  23. Meredith: yes, there has been a bit of fractiousness the past couple days, but at least we don’t call each other complete idiots and declare anathema. Gosh, I’ve seen people apologize graciously and unconditionally, and other people accept the apology at face value and then the people go on rationally! It’s so refreshing.

  24. Also, the fractiousness was between people I like here (their online personas – dunno them IRL), and I didn’t like seeing it, but like lurkertype said (in summary), it’s nice nobody went off the deep end. I like that people on File770 will challenge each other when SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET IS WRONG, but generally without inciting flamewars, and often they can either come to an understanding or, at the very least, virtually shake hands and agree to disagree. It’s healthy to be called on your bullshit, and I like that it’s done in a way that encourages discussion, rather than shuts down the conversation. There are a couple high-spirited exceptions to that rule, but their contributions are often valuable, IMO. This environment encourages conversation but also encourages thinking about what you say before you say it.

    Which is mostly to say, I dig this place. Thanks, Mike.

  25. Re: Fractiousness

    Oh, yes, it got resolved fairly quickly each time, although I have a couple of mental notes for things to keep an eye on in future. I’m probably a bit overly paranoid about things like that because of years of guild officer- and leadership in Warcraft with some members who were, shall we say, not necessarily the most mature of individuals (which didn’t map nearly as well onto physical age as one might hope). People here are a lot less stressful!

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  27. @Kathodus I’ve been offline for a few days so I’m late in responding. I haven’t reread the appendix N list, I’m 48, but I feel fairly certain I’ve read less than 1/4 of the authors on the list (memories from last glance). The number has been going up over the last couple years but my reading has always been eclectic and I’d read fantasy for a bit get tired of women being any combination of the below and quit it for a while:
    1. Invisible
    2. Prize
    3. Raped/murdered so hero had reason to go on quest
    4. Slaves
    5. Abused background so they had reason to be extraordinary
    6. Wives, daughters, prostitutes, mistresses

    Jeffro doesn’t have those excuses. He does say he grew up in a small town where the books weren’t available and his online shopping/research good book skills weren’t very good. Nor does it seem he made like minded fantasy reading friends who might have pointed the way. I can’t tell if he tried to talk to his librarians or not. It’s possible if he did he as the same lack of luck I did. I was too eclectic in my reading and very specific in what types of things I didn’t want in my books (see above list). He might have had a hard time expressing what he was looking for in terms they could understand as I believe he has mentioned that it wasn’t until recently he began to understand what he wants. But even now I’m not sure he can give a sentence of what elements he is looking for in a book. Possibly going through another appendix and this time keeping track of the elements in the story which appeal could get him to the point where he could walk into a bookstore or library and get help finding newer books he’d enjoy. I’m now able to do that and I’m a bit more accepting of elements from my list if the books contain a lot of what’s important to me.

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