Pixel Scroll 10/18/16 Talkin ‘Bout My Pixelation

(1) BEVERAGE APPERTAINED. John King Tarpinian is insanely tickled by this visual reference from the latest Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode, since Logan’s Run was co-authored by his late buddy George Clayton Johnson.


(2) SOUND OFF. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 2 Kickstarter successfully funded all the fiction but did not reach audiobook stretch goal. Steffen announced the stories will appear in this order:

Table of Contents

  • “Damage” by David D. Levine
  • “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • “The Women You Didn’t See” by Nicola Griffith (a letter from Letters to Tiptree)
  • “Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey
  • “Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar
  • “Neat Things” by Seanan McGuire (a letter from Letters To Tiptree)
  • “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
  • “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer
  • “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir
  • “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg
  • “Another Word For World” by Ann Leckie
  • “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
  • “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson

(3) THE MCFLY FAMILY CHRONICLE In “Computer Solves a Major Time Travel Problem” by Cathal O’Connell at Cosmos Magazine, the “grandfather paradox” has allegedly been solved by a supercomputer and the research of Israeli physicist Doron Friedman (i.e. you can go back in time, kill your father, and sire another father).

The computer’s second solution is more interesting. The snag is it only works if the father also has the ability to travel in time.

The story goes like this.

In 1954 Marty’s father George travels forward in time one year to 1955, when he impregnates Marty’s mother Lorraine before immediately returning back to 1954 – just as his future son, Marty, arrives and kills him.

Because George’s quick foray into the future allowed him to already conceive his son, the paradox disappears.

(4) TROPE TURNOVERS. Apex Publications’ Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Anthology, funded by a Kickstarter reported here, is receiving critical praise. They sent backers this update:

I wanted to mention that you may recall we sent out a few ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) in anticipation that we would be releasing this anthology in December. We are pleased to share that Publisher’s Weekly has given our anthology a starred review! Thank you SO much for making this anthology happen, and we hope you enjoy the stories. Huzzah!

(5) ROBBER BARONS. Amanda S. Green has criticized publishers for the past decade for overpricing ebooks, and tells her Mad Genius Club readers there’s no sign it’s going to change. In fact, if they can think of a way, publishers will make the arrangement even more exploitative….

As readers, it means we will have to continue to choose between buying one traditionally published e-book from publishers like Randy Penguin (at $12.99 or more) or buying two or three — or more — indie or small press published e-books. It means choosing to buy e-books from indies or publishers like Baen, sources that don’t add DRM, or buying fro publishers who aren’t afraid to say they think their customers are thieves and that is why they add the DRM. After all, they don’t trust us not to pirate their books or — gasp — resell them after we’re done with them. As readers, it also means we need to be smart and start backing up our e-books to places not connected with our e-readers, etc. Because, as sure as I’m sitting here typing this this morning, I guaran-damn-tee you there is some bean counter sitting in an ivory tower in the publishing industry who is trying to figure out a way to limit the number of times we can read an e-book before we have to buy a new license or something equally as silly. Don’t believe me? Remember, these are the same publishers that put a limit on how many times an e-book can be checked out at a library before the library has to buy — at an inflated rate — the e-book again.

(6) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. Bladerunner film score composer Vangelis has released a new space-themed opera — “From Composer Vangelis, A True Story Set In outer Space”. You can listen on YouTube.

Rosetta is a concept album, inspired by the European Space Agency mission of the same name. It successfully landed a probe on a comet in 2014 and completed its mission — by total coincidence — within a week of the album’s release.

“I imagine myself being in the position of Rosetta, and going there,” Vangelis says. “It’s something amazing.” Amazing — and disorienting. “You have to go through, sometimes, total dark,” Vangelis says. “You can imagine like a child sometimes.”


(7) TAKE ONE DOWN AND PASS IT AROUND. Motherboard says “This Guy Is Replicating ‘Blade Runner’ Shot-for-Shot in MS Paint”. And I say, keep appertaining beverages for yourself until you’re drunk enough to know why this needs to be reported by File 770.

So when we discovered David MacGowan’s tumblr MSP Blade Runner, our response was one of collective awe and fascination. MacGowan is quite literally going through Blade Runner shot-by-shot and illustrating each in MS Paint. The drawings aren’t perfect in terms of artistry—it is MS Paint, after all—and they’re not 100 percent complete in detail. But each moment is instantly recognizable even to someone with only a passing familiarity with the film. And MacGowan has nailed that elusive, pitch-perfect Internet Ugly aesthetic so many of us try and fail to, well, replicate.

(8) SKIPPING THE AUTHENTICITY. Dwayne A. Day lays waste to a TV show in “O, full of scorpions is my mind” at Space Review.

Every few years a major entertainment program has focused on a human spaceflight theme, and usually the results have been pretty bad. In 2007, Law & Order: Criminal Intent did an episode that was based upon astronaut Lisa Nowak’s arrest for attempted murder (another one of their “ripped from the headlines” stories.) Because it was set in New York City, they portrayed the “National Space Agency” as based in New York. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit did another astronaut-based episode in 2008. In 2011, the cable spy drama Covert Affairs aired an episode about a terrorist spy working at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC (see “Tinker, Tailor, NASA, Spy,” The Space Review, July 11, 2011) In 2010, CSI: Miami had an episode dealing with a murder aboard a commercial orbiting spaceplane that operated out of Miami. (See “Space cops,” The Space Review, March 1, 2010)

Normally this is the point in this article where I would make some kind of semi-clever quip about how bad all these shows were. But they were at least watchable. The CSI: Miami episode was probably the best of the bunch, demonstrating at least a passable knowledge of commercial spaceflight. But in retrospect, all of them now look like 2001: A Space Odyssey compared to last week’s episode of the CBS drama Scorpion which featured a character being accidentally blasted into space. It was bad.

There are few words to describe how amazingly bad it was, so here are a lot of them….

Scorpion’s producers don’t really seem to care about accuracy or believability or logic or continuity or consistency. Despite spending what must be huge gobs of money on the episodes, it is amazing how slipshod some of it is—not just the writing, but the production values seemed to demonstrate that nobody had any real interest in making any of it look good.

(9) RED PLANET CRITIQUE. Mars chronicler Kim Stanley Robinson declines to take Musk’s plan at face value in “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination’” on Bloomberg.

It’s 2024. Musk figures everything out and gets funding. He builds his rocket, and 100 people take off. Several months later, they land (somehow) and have to get to work remaking a planet.

I have to note, first, that this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further. Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

(10) BEHIND BARS. In the latest installment of “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters in Prison”, Barrett Brown, jailed for decades because of his hacking, answers questions Filers will hopefully never need to ask:  if you’re in prison, how do you teach other prisoners how to play role-playing games?  And how do you make the dice?

We began the campaign with our party having just entered a mysterious cavern that appeared to be inhabited. The gamemaster drew out a map for us as our crude little character tokens advanced down the dark, cliché-ridden passages. Coming upon a fountain in which jewels could be seen lying under the surface of the water, our Hispanic gangster/minotaur barbarian proposed to grab some. The team veteran and meth dealer/elven ranger stopped him, dipped in his flask, and, as our gamemaster informed us, watched as it sizzled and melted, the “water” having been acid.

“Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons. Presumably the feds had never attempted to trick him into incinerating his own arm. But then some of these guys had been targeted by the ATF, so you never know.

(11) MAMATAS. At Locus Online, “Tim Pratt Reviews Nick Mamatas”.

His latest novel, I Am Providence, should be of particular interest to our readers for at least a couple of reasons. For one, it’s a murder mystery set at a genre convention: the Summer Tentacular, devoted to H.P, Lovecraft and his Mythos, held appropriately enough in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence RI. (The book’s title is taken from Lovecraft’s famous epitaph.) Given how prevalent discussions of Lovecraft’s influence and his problematic qualities have been in our field lately, it’s an astonishingly timely book. If the convention angle doesn’t make it SFnal enough for you, there’s a bona fide speculative element: half the novel is narrated in first person by the murder victim as he lies cooling on a morgue slab.

The murder-mystery-at-a-convention is a venerable subgenre (think Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA or Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun). The best of them combine solid mystery stories anyone can enjoy with a dash of in-jokes, cameos, and thinly veiled versions of figures in the field to amuse those in the know. I Am Providence is among those best.

(12) THE HORSE, OF COURSE. Rosalind Moran reminds SFWAns, “Horses Are Not Machines: On Writing the Steeds of Fantasy Fiction”.

  1. Nobody Learns In A Day

No amount of natural talent can make a horseman in a day. If one’s horse is tolerant, one may be able to hold on over flat terrain after a few hours in the saddle. Nevertheless, there’s a big difference between not sliding off immediately, and being able to ride competently. It can take months – even years – before one is truly balanced enough to cope with a horse moving at various gaits, and occasionally acting up. Yet it’s not uncommon in fantasy novels for characters to pick up the handy skill of horse-riding in one day.

Furthermore, handling horses on the ground is also a skill requiring time. When one first begins working with horses, one can’t read their body language; flicking ears, shifting legs, squeals and snorts. The initial reaction when faced with a horse also tends to be one of intimidation – they’re big animals. So for your protagonist to be confident catching horses, feeding them, tacking them up… that all takes time and experience. You don’t need to devote pages to your character learning relatively mundane skills, but you should acknowledge that these are skills which they are learning, or which they have somehow acquired at another point in time.

Additional note: horses aren’t domesticated in a day either. Worth remembering next time you chance upon a handy herd in the wilderness – sorry.

[Thanks to StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

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88 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/18/16 Talkin ‘Bout My Pixelation

  1. Re: e-book pricing

    I occasionally glance at the e-book pricing of academic publications. I buy a fair number of academic books for my own use, in part “because I can”, in part because the temporal coordination between “I know this book exists”, “I can get access to this book”, and “I want to consult this book for a project” is really crappy.

    For those who have never delved into that morass of pricing hell (a hell that assumes that only educational institutions will ever buy their books and makes no efforts to reach out to other potential markets) here is a not entirely typical example. (Not entirely typical, because Palgrave is notorious for unusually high prices.)

    Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama
    Hard cover book $110
    Soft cover book $105
    E-book $79.99

    Now, a $30 price differential between a hardcover and an e-book is nothing to be sneezed at, but when a buyer is already committing to paying at least $80 for the book, it’s a much small factor in the decision. And that’s setting aside the fact that hard-copy still has a lot of advantages over e-book for reference works.

  2. (5) I’m willing to pay more for quality. Sadly, major publishers aren’t really providing much better quality than indie publishers these days. I’ve read some fantastic self-published works and some really terrible books from the Big Five. And I read a lot. Too much, even. When Amazon gave us eBook settlement money, I was over $100 each time.

    Side note: I really should get a library card.

    (8) I try to give new TV shows that look potentially fun at least three episodes. Pilots are nearly always universally bad, and then it takes an episode or two for the writers to get their feet under them. I struggled to get through two episodes of Scorpion. It is one of the worst things I’ve put in front of my eyeballs – and I’m still watching the MacGyver reboot.

  3. Not entirely sure how I feel about the new Tolkien. On the one hand, new Tolkien! On the other hand, if I’ve read the Silmarillion & Unfinished Tales, how much of it will actually be new? (As with the Children of Hurin, which was about 90% taken from the Unfinished Tales version.)

    Personally I’d rather see an eBook release of History of Middle-Earth, with some attention paid to proper formatting.

  4. Joe H. said:

    On the other hand, if I’ve read the Silmarillion & Unfinished Tales, how much of it will actually be new?

    Seeing as the article describes it as “brought together” rather than “published” for the first time, I’m guessing close to none of it.

  5. Today’s science: Cave paintings date appearances of bovids in Europe. Complete with a pun too bad not to share — look about halfway down the story or search for “hybrid”

    European scientists have long been trying to create one of these by colliding opposed streams of hedgehogs traveling at relativistic velocities.

    If you see a job offering for janitor at a European supercollider, do not apply.

  6. America could have had the lead in this technology, if only we hadn’t abandoned the Superconducting Chipmunk Compactor.

  7. Chip asks me I’m curious about your claim that most libraries use a service instead of buying ebooks. I’ve gotten a number of ebooks from the Boston (MA USA) library, and been referred to Hoopla maybe 10% of the time (at most). Possibly smaller libraries use it more? I could believe that more total libraries have no ebooks given that there are many more small libraries than large ones, but I wonder how many total checkouts are Hoopla vs library-owned.

    BPL uses both the Hoopla and Overdrive service which is what I meant when I said Overlook. Unlike Trump who doesn’t know what a fact is, I should’ve known better than to recall that name by memory. Sounds like their search engine search all of the available service whereas mine does not as Hoopla’s only accessible via an app or the Hoopla website

  8. (12) There was a discussion in the ‘Frozen’ fandom on tumblr not long ago discussing how well Anna and Elsa could ride. Anna is shown riding, Elsa never is. But one scene stuck with me, and that is when the King and Queen are riding hell bent for leather to take the two girls to the trolls. I pointed out to someone who scoffed at Anna riding (later in the movie) that the equestrian skill demonstrated by the parents in that scene would tend to indicate that training to ride a horse well was indeed part of royal training.

    I mean, galloping over rough terrain while carrying your kid on your saddle?

    I know, no one cares. But to me, it was one more detail that Disney got right. (It also indicated that the Troll Valley wasn’t THAT far away because Horses Get Tired.)

    My personal headcanon about Elsa’s riding skills is that her training stopped abruptly at the age of 8, and if she were to try riding as an adult, it would basically be starting all over from scratch. One fanfiction actually used this as a dramatic element by having Elsa make a beginner’s mistake to spook the horse, which gallops off. This causes Elsa to have a panicy flashback to that night she hurt her sister.

    [Hey, ‘Frozen’ was on the shortlist for a Hugo in 2014. It’s germane!]

  9. I’ve watched the first two episodes of both Timeless and Frequency and am enjoying them so far. Because they are on late at night, I watch them using on demand on the weekends.

    It is definitely interesting to see how the changes made in the past each time affect the present of the main character(s).

  10. Hey, ‘Frozen’ was on the shortlist for a Hugo in 2014. It’s germane!

    Huh. I thought it was Scandinavian.

  11. @Cat

    Overdrive is great. If only I’d remember it exists and I have books on it I’d read more trad published books. Unfortunately a number of my favorite authors are published by houses who are unwilling to sell ebooks to libraries. Baffles me.

  12. Tasha says ‘Overdrive is great. If only I’d remember it exists and I have books on it I’d read more trad published books. Unfortunately a number of my favorite authors are published by houses who are unwilling to sell ebooks to libraries. Baffles me.’

    Keep in mind that they’re not selling to libraries but to services that provide ebook streaming services to libraries and, I assume, anyone else interested in such a streaming service. My understanding is the publishers absent are not opposed to providing content but are very much opposed to what they’re the money offered.

    Hoopla offers more and charges a higher fee per item streamed so they have a deeper catalog; Overdrive has less content and is much cheaper to libraries. And I just realised it’s likely that the major writers like Stephen King who’s absent from both likely would have a legal arguement that his contract doesn’t alllow this and the muscle to make it stick. This is a hypothetical statement and not based on any knowledge of him or his contracts.

    Please don’t take that I’m implying he’s anti-library as I’m not. He and his wife gave millions to help the Bangor, Maine Public Library including converting century old closed stacks into really amazing open stacks.

  13. (3) MCFLY – This article makes no sense at all to me. Is that just the usual “bad science reporting misses the point of the study” thing or what? How could the statement “travelling to the past is impossible because you could cause a paradox” ever be either proven or disproven by thinking up some scenario where you try to remedy the paradox?

    (I mean, not to mention that the two solutions they propose, since they involve changing either the time of one’s father’s conception or one of the people involved, don’t really avoid the paradox except on the dumbest possible basic story level– you’d end up with a genetically different future you in both cases. But even if we pretend that’s not an issue, it’s not addressing the question, is it?)

  14. Eli, I dismissed the whole thing as Hypothesis Contrary to Fact. They are arguing whether more angels can dance the Watusi on the head of a pin than a mambo. Who knew that Science was so much like clickbait?

  15. (9) RED PLANET: Dann’s response suggests that Dann not only didn’t read the whole interview, but didn’t even read Mike’s excerpt, since Robinson’s critique of Musk said nothing about government; the only thing he said was not plausible was for one single company to do it all, with no involvement from other organizations in either the public or the private sector.

    Also, SpaceX is a NASA contractor and whether or not Musk currently admits that he’s hoping for government(s) to back his project, he almost certainly is. So Robinson is to some degree arguing against a straw man and has apparently inspired Dann to defend that straw man.

  16. 12) Poul Anderson touched on this in his essay “On Thud and Blunder”. But this article is more detailed, which is appropriate because it’s focusing specifically on one topic.

    @ Chip: There’s also We’ll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews, which is funny as hell.

    @ Sean: Write it anyhow, and lay it away against the opportunity arising.

  17. Since “evil” publishers are mentioned in today’s scroll – coincidentally I saw an episode of Voyager today (season 7, episode 20) featuring an evil publisher. Also, no self-pub option.

  18. I’m just about finished with H. Rider Haggard’s short novel Mr. Meeson’s Will, which contains the evilest of evil publishers. Apparently, things really weren’t all that great in 1885 or so either.

  19. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: My spouse and I enjoyed “Miss Peregrine’s…”. We haven’t read the book yet, though it’s waiting for him to read it. (I have no idea whether having read the book or not plays into your dislike of the movie.)

  20. @Cat Eldridge

    The reason I usually see given for the publishing houses not participating with Overdrive is a concern for piracy and paper book sales. This baffles me as pirating a hard copy isn’t all that difficult. I suspect we’ll find ebook library borrowing leads to book sales just as paper copies do.

    Sorry I wasn’t clearer in my earlier comment.

  21. @Kendall – I’ve read the first two books, my husband hasn’t read any of them, and both of us thought poorly of the movie, him possibly even more so than me. I’m honestly not terribly wed to the books themselves, but my impression was that the movie followed at least the first one fairly well. So it wasn’t the book adaptation factor that got to us.

    Er… The following paragraph is not going to be kind to the movie. I hope it is vague enough to be spoiler free (except where rot13’d) but specific enough to answer your question about what contributed to our dislike of the movie. I really am not trying to harsh your squee, but I’m afraid it may come across that way. Apologies in advance!

    Our complaints were with things like the pacing of individual scenes (especially of action scenes, in which characters exhibited a strange lack of urgency by gawking at the results of the previous character’s action–[rot13]xvq, lbhe sevraq vf ybpxrq va n cbby bs serrmvat jngre, jul ner lbh jnfgvat gvzr jngpuvat lbhe cynagf jevgur naq jevttyr nebhaq gur onq thl? Gung’f *zl* wbo nf na nhqvrapr zrzore, abg lbhef nf n znva punenpgre! Uheel hc naq trg lbhe sevraq oernguvat ntnva![/rot13]), the editing (how one scene followed another, and when, and how quickly–see for instance the very jarring shift from the scene with Enoch and Victor to the hallway scene right after, with not even a “so… THAT happened” to bridge the gap), the acting, the script, the characterizations (Jake’s dad especially struck us as inconsistently characterized from scene to scene–it was as though everyone agreed he was to be the Ineffective Parent Figure but no one could agree how to accomplish that), the wildly varying tone (suddenly we go from epic high stakes battle for our lives to slapstick and pratfalls?)–all of those sorts of things, an example of which seemed to be present in every scene, we found jarring and “off”.

    I think they were trying to squeeze the whole trilogy into a single movie? Maybe that contributed to the rushed pace? But I’ve only read the first two books, so I can’t swear to it.

    In addition to the “craft of the movie” complaints I have, I also can’t help but notice there is one and only one person of color on screen at any time, and he was the villain.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, though! Sincerely! I wish we had!

  22. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: Tastes vary; I would never think someone was trying to harsh my squee, so no worries! Heh, I almost said something like “we enjoyed it, though it had its share of movie flaws.”

    At the beginning, I didn’t really like it and was bored by the setup/background, which I felt could’ve been much shorter. When things picked up, I liked it from then on. Agreed re. the rot13 part you mentioned, though; that had me rolling my eyes! Other stuff, well, some of it felt a little aimed at kids, so I tend to ignore or overlook some things that I think are part of writing for kids, I guess.

    Two things to add to your critique: #1 I wasn’t thrilled with Miss Peregrine. She seemed “off” in her expressions/emoting and how she delivered infodumps. Some of that was the directing, I suppose; some was the writing; some may have just been the actress, though.

    #2 I didn’t really like Jackson in that role – grumpy/rant-y Jackson voice, but made up to look not like he usually does. Yawn. I like him fine, but not in this.

    Anyway, thanks for replying and explaining! 🙂 I’m still glad I saw it, don’t worry.

    P.S. Oh actually one geeky pet peeve for me was: (rot-13 cuz this really is a spoiler) Wnxr’f crphyvnevgl jnf gb frr, hu, abg vaivfvoyr guvatf, ohg whfg bar cnegvphyne glcr bs vaivfvoyr zbafgre? Jvgu gur jubyr “vg’f n erprffvir trar” guvat, guvf ohttrq zr n gba. Vg erzvaqf zr bs n punenpgre V ybirq lrnef ntb va gur K-Zra pbzvpf, Zntvx – ohg V ungrq ure cbjre, orpnhfr ure zhgnag cbjre (cbffvoyl punatrq/ergpba’q bire gur lrnef gb fbzrguvat ryfr) jnf gung fur pbhyq perngr gryrcbegngvba qvfpf gb tb gb n cnegvphyne rivy cynar bs rkvfgrapr. Uhu?! Ubj qbrf n zhgngvba trg gung fcrpvsvp – znxrf ab frafr. Fb naljnl, Wnxr’f novyvgl jbhyq’ir znqr zber frafr vs ur pbhyq frr gur vaivfvoyr xvq. (/rot-13) Whew, sorry, that kinda thing drives me nuts. LOL.

  23. Re: Stranger Things

    Even if you actively dislike a lot of Speilberg’s 80’s movies, finding them a mawkish mix of nostalgia and maudlin sentimentality, and never really got into Steven King… Stranger Things is excellent. Well-written, well-paced, and very well acted. Very well acted by any standards, with no low bar for the child actors, who were refreshingly un-Disney and all very good.

    re (5)

    Interesting to see what our find friends at MGC do when they found out “free market” doesn’t necessarily mean “I get whatever I want, when I want it.”

  24. @Eli

    Dann’s response suggests that Dann not only didn’t read the whole interview, but didn’t even read Mike’s excerpt,

    I did read the excerpt. Specifically…

    Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

    Emphasis added. I infer the word “multi-national” to have a governmental connotation. Perhaps KSR didn’t mean to imply that meaning. From my limited exposure to his non-fiction work, the odds are that he did mean to imply such a meaning. But perhaps his larger essay suggests otherwise.

    Also, SpaceX is a NASA contractor and whether or not Musk currently admits that he’s hoping for government(s) to back his project, he almost certainly is.

    I disagree that receiving government money for one type of service auto-magically converts to government backing for other projects.


  25. Interesting to see what our find friends at MGC do when they found out “free market” doesn’t necessarily mean “I get whatever I want, when I want it.”

    Whenever I read an article that says some particular item is “overpriced”, I always wonder “overpriced compared to what?” Green appears to think there is some proper price that e-books should have, and any other price is wrong. It seems that she thinks there is some platonic ideal price that things “should” cost. But that means she doesn’t understand how economics works at all. There is no objective “value” for things in the way she seems to think there is, there are just market preferences.

    I would cite the example of black pearls for this. Prior to the 1950s, black pearls were trash, a byproduct of collecting the valuable white pearls. So an investor who had a lot of black pearls in stock went to Harry Winston and paid him to display the black pearls in their front window. They arranged for some celebrities to be seen wearing them. In short order, black pearls were seen as valuable, and as a result, they were.

    This is an extreme example, but it plays out across all products on the market – the value of an item is set by how it is perceived. Another example is lobster, which used to be servant food – there were laws limiting how often one could serve lobster to one’s servants in a week – but now it is a delicacy. Green thinks that e-books have a certain value, but they don’t. They are as valuable as the price people are willing to pay for them.

  26. “Spend the night in Dracula’s castle.”

    That is Bran Castle, I think Vlad Tepes only slept their for one night or so on his way to another place. It is only called “Dracula’s Castle” because it is the closest castle for tourists to conveniently get to. It is a beautiful place though.

  27. I would cite the example of black pearls for this. Prior to the 1950s, black pearls were trash, a byproduct of collecting the valuable white pearls.

    Another case: “chocolate” diamonds. Call them “brown” and they are suitable for grinding up and gluing to drill bits. Call them “chocolate”, and you can actually sell the junk.

    Another example is lobster, which used to be servant food – there were laws limiting how often one could serve lobster to one’s servants in a week – but now it is a delicacy

    And more recently is the example of crayfish. Watch a rerun of The Beverly Hillbillies and you will see the other characters have either never heard of “crawdads” or the audience is expected to be revolted by the idea of eating them.

  28. @Kendall: I disagree that that is an issue. Ubybf ner vaivfvoyr nf n fvqr rssrpg bs rngvat Crphyvnef’ rlrf; gur xvq vf vaivfvoyr qhr gb fbzr zhgngvba. Qvssrerag pnhfrf, qvssrerag zrpunavpf yrnqvat gb n pbzzba erfhyg. Jr qba’g xabj jul rvgure vf vaivfvoyr — bar pbhyq or oraqvat yvtug naq gur bgure oraqvat zvaqf — fb jr pna’g fnl gung fbzrbar jub pna frr bar pna frr gur bgure.

    OTOH, neither I nor my wife thought much of the movie’s logic. Ubj jnf xvyyvat Oneeba nsgre ur’q xvyyrq Nor fhccbfrq gb pnhfr Nor abg gb unir orra xvyyrq? Gurer’f ab vaqvpngvba gung Oneeba va gur svany onggyr unq sbhaq fbzr bgure ybbc gb pbzr guebhtu sebz na rneyvre gvzr. Sbe gung znggre, gurer jnf n YBG bs fybccvarff nobhg gvzr; vg jbexrq juvpurire jnl jnf pbairavrag sbe gur cybg. IIRC, the book was also not as gory; people who liked the book but have violence issues should avoid the movie.

  29. @Aaron

    There does seem to be a bit of “just price” doctrine at work here, doesn’t there? I hadn’t realized that MAGA kids were so friendly to such anti-capitalist ideas!

  30. @Dann–

    I infer the word “multi-national” to have a governmental connotation. Perhaps KSR didn’t mean to imply that meaning. From my limited exposure to his non-fiction work, the odds are that he did mean to imply such a meaning. But perhaps his larger essay suggests otherwise.

    That seems a bizarre assumption to me, driven more by your biases about KSR than by the meaning of the words he used. Multi-national efforts can be multii-government, multi-NGO, multi-corporations. Or a multi-national corporation.

    blockquote><Also, SpaceX is a NASA contractor and whether or not Musk currently admits that he’s hoping for government(s) to back his project, he almost certainly is.

    I disagree that receiving government money for one type of service auto-magically converts to government backing for other projects.

    Certainly not.

    It does, however, suggest a lack of hostility to the idea of receiving government funding. Musk will do what he thinks best advances his goals, and those choices may not be in line with your ideological preferences.

    (Let’s see what this looks like.)

    (Well, could have looked worse. I think.)

  31. @Kendall, Chip, re: Miss Perigrine’s – A related logical weirdness that bugged me about [rot13]gur ubybtunfgf jnf, gurl jrer cerfragrq abg nf gur ernfba sbe Crphyvnef gb uvqr va ybbcf ohg engure gur rssrpg. Gung whfg frrzrq onpxjneqf gb zr. Yvxr, V pbhyq frr gur evfr bs gur ubybf orvat n pngnylmvat sbepr gung yrq gb uvqvat va gvzr ybbcf nf jryy nf, jvgu fbzr unaqjnivhz, gur qrirybczrag bs fhfcvpvbhfyl hfrshy zhgngvbaf yvxr ubyb-uhagref’ novyvgl gb frr gurz be na vapernfrq vapvqrag bs Vzoerarf (fc?). Ohg gur vqrn gung gur ubybf jrer n erfhyg bs pregnva Crphyvnef erwrpgvat gur ybbcf nf cevfbaf naq frrxvat rabhtu cbjre gb yvir va gur bcra, juvyr bgure Crphyvnef whfg unccrarq gb or cer-rdhvccrq gb qrny jvgu gur zbafgref gung jbhyq nevfr sebz guvf–whfg jrveq naq onpxjneqf.[/rot13]

    I don’t recall whether the books presented that logic in the same order. But the way the movie did it just made me go “Huh?”

    @TYP, re: Stranger Things: I may have said this earlier, but, speaking of comparing it to Spielberg, the show felt like what Super 8 wanted to be.

    Also speaking of comparing it to Spielberg, the kid actors gave me that same so-real-it-hurts feeling as the kid actors from The Goonies. It wasn’t just the script, but the delivery of it, the rhythms and dynamics of their interactions, that felt effortlessly natural.

  32. @Chip Hitchcock: Okay, good point. [rot13]Qvssrerag pnhfrf qbrf uryc rkcynva vg. Ohg nofrag na va-zbivr rkcynangvba, vg whfg sryg yvxr n gbb-pbairavrag cybg ubyr gb zr. Bar guebjnjnl yvar jbhyq’ir gnxra pner bs vg, abg rira rkcynvavat, whfg Wnxr be fbzrbar nfxvat jul. Abj, V’yy nyfb tenag lbh, V znl or sbetrggvat jul gur zbafgref jrer vaivfvoyr; V gubhtug whfg gung’f ubj gurl jbexrq; gurl fnvq rngvat gur rlrf znqr gurz ertnva gurve uhznaarff.[/rot13]

    Also, yeah, agreed: [rot13]gur gvzr geniry fghss pbashfrq zr fbzrgvzrf; V guvax jr jrer whfg fhccbfrq gb vasre gur frdhrapr bs riragf. Nabgure cynpr jurer bar yvar jbhyq’ir urycrq, yvxr Oneeba znxvat n pbashfvat-gb-Wnxr pbzzrag nobhg orvat ba gur genvy bs Nor be jungrire.[/rot13]

    @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: I thought [rot13]gubfr perngherf jrer gur erfhyg bs gur guvat gurl gevrq jvgu gur Vzoerarf be jungrire, gb tnva vzzbegnyvgl, ohg vg snvyrq. Fb, zber bs n fvqr rssrpg bs terrq, abg ernyyl pnhfrq ol gur ybbcf.[/rot13] But I may have misunderstood.

    @All: Despite all this, I enjoyed the movie. 🙂 After the first, tedious part.

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