Pixel Scroll 10/19/17 Don’t Know Much About Psycho-History, Don’t Know What A Slide Rule Is

(1) THESE ARE THEY. More core from James Davis Nicoll: “Twenty Core Alternate Histories Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Here are three – are they on your shelves?

  • Lion’s Blood by Steven Barnes
  • On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

(2) THE WU CANDIDACY. Her Glamour interview is now online — “Brianna Wu Faced Down the Alt-Right and Now She’s Running for Congress”

Now the 40-year-old video game developer is launching herself into a different kind of firestorm: She’s running for Congress in Massachusetts’ Eighth District on a platform crafted, in part, from her experience facing off against white-supremacist groups, which, she notes, have been against not only women gamers but also public policies that benefit anyone not white, heterosexual, and male. Her goal is economic and political parity for women, LGBTQ Americans, people of color, and the working poor. “All these forces are tied together,” Wu told ­Glamour from her headquarters in Walpole, Massachusetts. “The system is not working for any of them.”

The idea that the system is broken has motivated thousands of women to launch political campaigns; eleven thousand have told She Should Run, a nonpartisan group that offers resources to women interested in seeking office, that they are actively planning to run for office. Founder and CEO Erin Loos Cutraro says this new crop of political talent is “sick of not having their voices and perspectives represented” and recognizes “the impact they can make at all levels of government.”

(3) TOP 40. Nicholas Whyte told Facebook readers:

According to scientific calculation, I am #37 in the list of the top 40 EU digital influencers as calculated by EurActiv, and revealed at a ceremony today.

It’s for what he writes about the EU and Brussels, rather than what the rest of us know him for — his work as the 2017 Hugo Administrator. Whyte’s only wish is that they’d gotten his photo right.

The full list of digital influencers is posted here. If you want to know how the list was compiled, the formula is here.

(4) ROMANTIC POTENTIAL. M.C.A. Hogarth’s Kickstarter for Thief of Songs, “Lush and lyrical high fantasy romances set in a world with four human sexes!”, hit 400% of its funding target in the first 24 hours.

I have loved romance novels all my life, and love has always threaded itself, like incense, into every fantasy and science fiction story I’ve written. But for the longest time I didn’t allow myself to consider writing a romance novel of my own. Until I did.

The result was Thief of Songs, a novel that ended up on the Tiptree Award’s Long list. Set in a secondary fantasy world with four human sexes (male, female, hermaphrodite, and neuter), it’s the story of an imperial composer and the music en inadvertently stole while touring the highlands conquered hundreds of years ago by ens birth country. Dancer’s kingdom is unfairly privileged: all the magic in the world runs into the bowl of its lowest point and collects there, and using that magic its armies annexed the entire continent. So you can imagine the issues that arise when one of those conquered sons comes to the capital… and finds himself in love, irrevocably and inexorably, with a foreigner, a hermaphrodite… and God help him, a musician of such genius he couldn’t help but adore en.

Those issues were not solvable in a single book. Last year I took them forward into a new book, Cantor for Pearls, where Amet–our highland man–continues to struggle with his ambivalence while navigating the wholly unfamiliar relationship to him possible between man and neuter. This is an unabashed asexual romance, with sea serpents. (This book also made the Tiptree Long List!)

With the funding in hand, Hogarth will soon go to press.

My goal is to have both these books ready this week! So that when the Kickstarter ends on November 1st, I’ll be shipping within a few days. I’ve also already set up the e-book download pages. One less thing to do when the project wraps up! I like turning things around quickly… you all are trusting me with your hard-earned money, and I like to honor that trust. 🙂

(5) BUTLER. Gabrielle Bellot delivers a triumphal retrospective profile in “Octavia Butler: The Brutalities of the Past Are All Around This” at Literary Hub.

As a preteen, Octavia Butler decided she’d had enough of second-rate science fiction. “Geez,” she said after watching Devil Girl from Mars, a 1954 B-movie. “I can write a better story than that.” Anybody could, really, she mused. “Somebody got paid for writing that awful story,” she concluded in high dudgeon. A year later, she was submitting stories to magazines.

They were “terrible pieces of fiction,” she admitted jocularly in a 1998 talk at MIT, but she had embarked on her journey to write something epochal, a story that could forever reshape a genre’s landscape. A dream architect, she wished to be, whose fabulous and frightening creations would remain after we woke up. One of those transformative stories appeared in her 1979 novel, Kindred, which strikingly reimagined the neo-slave narrative genre by making a 20th-century black woman (and, once, her white husband) slip back into 19th-century Maryland through unceremonious, frightening time-travel. (Though time travel is often associated with science fiction, thanks largely to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Butler instead describes Kindred as fantasy because its temporal traversing is never explained scientifically.) Kindred, a novel explicitly designed to make its readers uncomfortable, has a special, if controversial, resonance for America today: how we teach and talk about texts that contain depictions of bigotry and violence.

Butler was accustomed to the weight of others’ bigotries; she grew up with insecurities about her body, some of which stayed with her into adulthood. Her body was large—she was six feet tall by the time she was a teen—and her voice was deeper than that of the girls around her, its gentle rumbling tone and pitch varying from androgynous to masculine, and students teased her mercilessly. Some of them called her a boy, others a lesbian. Butler did not identify as gay, as she told Larry McCaffery and Jim McMenamin in 1998, but she ruminated about her sexuality and sense of gender, at times musing that she might indeed be what others called her and even going twice to a “Gay and Lesbian Services Center” to “talk about such things… at which point I realized, Nope, this ain’t it… I’m a hermit.” Already socially awkward and lonely, the schoolyard taunts and jeers pushed her into a cavernous isolation. An outsider, she retreated inward, carving out a deep inner space, a lamplit palace of the self.


The “Plan 9” in the title of Plan 9 from Outer Space refers to an alien scheme to create chaos by resurrecting the Earth’s dead as shambling ghouls.


  • October 19, 1952Fahrenheit 451 was first published.  Trivial trivia:  The paperback is the true first, as it came out a week before the hardback.

(8) HISTORIC FIGURES. The Women of NASA LEGO set goes on sale November 1. The collectible was produced after winning fan approval through the LEGO Ideas website.

Four trailblazing figures from NASA’s history are set to launch as new LEGO minifigures on Nov. 1. NASA astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton are celebrated for their contributions to space exploration and astronomy in the new LEGO Ideas set, “Women of NASA.” Based on a fan-proposed and supported design, the set includes representations of the four female space pioneers, as well as three LEGO builds that recreate the spacecraft and settings where the women made their mark on space history. “Great for role playing space exploration missions,” LEGO said in a press release announcing the set on Wednesday (Oct. 18). “Explore the professions of some of the groundbreaking women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the LEGO Ideas Women of NASA set,” The 231-piece building toy is recommended for ages 10 and older. It will retail for $24.99.

(9) THE ENVIRONMENT. No, this isn’t The Onion.

(10) PULPHOUSE IS COMING. The Pulphouse Kickstarter has fully funded, and then some, bringing in $35,215.

(11) COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS. BBC film critic Mark Kermode discusses why it’s box office disappointed, and he doesn’t care.

(12) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. A place to live underground on the moon? “Huge cave found on moon, could house astronauts: Japan scientists”. (Does this sound familiar, and are you also wondering if the orbiter’s first name is “Adam”?)

Data taken from Japan’s SELENE lunar orbiter has confirmed the existence of the 31-mile-long and 328-foot-wide wide cavern that is believed to be lava tube created by volcanic activity about 3.5 billion years ago.

The major finding was published this week in U.S. science magazine Geophysical Research Letters.

“We’ve known about these locations that were thought to be lava tubes … but their existence has not been confirmed until now,” Junichi Haruyama, a researcher at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, told AFP on Thursday.

The underground tunnel, located under an area called the Marius Hills, would help protect astronauts from huge swings in temperature and damaging radiation that they would be exposed to on the moon’s surface, he added.

“We haven’t actually seen the inside of the cave itself so there are high hopes that exploring it will offer more details,” Haruyama said.

(13) CITIES. Camestros Felapton brings us his “Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett”.

City of Miracles is a shining example of a brilliant use of the trilogy format to tell fantastical stories. The third book in a series that follows City of Stairs and City of Blades, Bennett again shifts point-of-view character, this time to Sigurd – the almost impossibly bad-ass fighting machine side-kick of spy/politician Shara Komayd (whose career is traced through all three books but who was the specific focus of the first).

Each of the novels has leaped forward several years in the post-fantastical history of the Saypuri Republic and the formerly magical and imperialistic Continent. In doing so Bennett gets to show a world that is undergoing its own version of industrialization and 19th-century European-colonial hegemony without using a cookie-cutter. The political divides are rich enough to feel real and complex and the bad is given at least equal prominence with the bad.

(14) REPEATED HAUNTINGS. The second annual “Ghost Stories at Keele Hall” will be held Monday, November 6, 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the atmospheric surroundings of the Senior Common Room, Keele University.

Join us for the second Ghost Stories at Keele Hall. This will feature unsettling readings from Robert Shearman (writer for Dr. Who, and author of Remember Why You Fear Me, the World Fantasy Award-winning Tiny Deaths, and the Shirley Jackson Award-, the British Fantasy Award-, and the Edge Hill Short Story Reader’s Prize-winning Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical), V.H. Leslie (author of World Fantasy Award-, and the British Fantasy Award-nominated Skein and Bone, and Bodies of Water), and D.P. Watt (author of Almost Insentient, Almost Divine, and The Phantasmagorical Imperative: and Other Fabrications). There will then be a panel discussion and audience Q&A. Free admission. For further details contact the Box Office.

(15) WHERE POKEMON DON’T GO. The Washington Post’s Peter Hermann reports that Curtis Combs, of Somerset, Kentucky, was arrested after he jumped over the White House fence in a Pikachu outfit because he wanted to post a video on YouTube and become famous.

But the man, identified as Curtis Combs, of Somerset, Ky., told arresting officers that the Secret Service closed in too quickly, interrupting his recording of a “pre-jump” ritual.

With police nearing, Combs told police he decided to try getting over the fence anyway, and he made it into a restricted area where he was caught and handcuffed….

The court document does not indicate a reason for the Pokémon costume. Combs reportedly told police that he had researched others who had attempted or successfully gotten onto White House grounds and knew the type of criminal sentences they received. He said he knew he would be arrested. A man in 2014 was caught on the White House lawn dressed in a Pikachu hat and carrying a Pokémon doll.

(16) ALT COMICS.  As might be expected, PJ Media planted a big smooch on Vox Day and his crowdfunded AltHero comics project in “Vox Day’s AltHero Comic Book Challenges SJW Marvel, DC Comics”, uncritically passing on every claim he’s ever made about himself.

“I was astonished, actually. I knew that people were angry about the way social justice warriors have destroyed traditional superheroes, but I didn’t realize just how eager they were for an alternative,” he said. “Of course, the way the SJWs on Twitter completely freaked out over Rebel and the existence of the project didn’t exactly hurt.”

Rebel has become the stand-out hero of the upcoming series and she seems to resonate the most with fans. She is beautifully drawn in the classic superhero style but seems to always be losing part of her costume.

… “The idea that there can be politics-free comics when everything from going to the ladies room to playing video games has been politicized is utterly absurd,” he quipped. “It would be like ignoring the existence of Nazis during World War II or of Soviets during the Cold War,” he argued. “The problem with Marvel and DC is not so much that they have injected politics into comics, but that they ruthlessly sacrifice the stories and even the traditional superheroes on the altar of their social justice agenda.”

Day is one of the godfathers of the much-maligned Alt-Right. But those who try to call him a white nationalist or supremacist fail miserably because he is only part white, claiming Native American and Mexican heritage and speaking out vocally against any form of racial supremacism.

(17) VALUES REVEALED. Earlier this month, LGBTQ Nation’s Jeff Taylor lit into the new comics line in “‘Alt-Right’ comic book meant to ‘trigger’ progressives is as awful as you’d expect”.

Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, said in a Periscope video that he “intended to challenge and eventually replace the SJW (short for “social justice warrior) converged comics of DC and Marvel.”

“They believe that comics is their turf, and SJWs have been moving forward, advancing for decades,” he added. “They have been methodically eradicating traditional values, they have been methodically eradicating Western civilization.”

He has said that “they know they are the true villains and the enemy in the cultural war.”

At time of writing, Beale’s fundraiser has raised over $66,000 dollars.

What, exactly, are these sacred values being erased from comic books that must be saved? Advertising smoking, pushing the concept of undocumented immigrants as dangerous criminals worthy of vigilante justice, and the promotion of the traitorous Confederate flag.

(18) TRAILER PARK. Marvel’s Punisher, official trailer #2:

[Thanks to IanP, James Bacon, John King Tarpinian, David K.M.Klaus, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/19/17 Don’t Know Much About Psycho-History, Don’t Know What A Slide Rule Is

  1. Brianna Wu is running in a heavily Democratic district that already has a Democratic Congressman. Her political fate will likely be settled one way or the other in the Democratic primary.

  2. 10) looking forward to Pulphouse again.

    16) Alt-comics, on the other hand, not so much.

    Here in 2380, they tried flying cars, with predictably catastrophic results.

  3. “Don’t know much psychohistory
    Don’t know astrobiology
    I was reading a Jules Verne book,
    Using the little bit of French I took”

    “Now, I don’t claim to be a Null-A student,
    But I’m tryin’ to be
    For maybe by being a Null-A student,
    I can help you Gosseyn with me”

  4. @1: 10/20 (although I gave up on ?oku after 3 books). ISTM that “significance to the field” should call for some older works based on influence; even the Aiken is from 1981. (I’d point to Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen and Bring the Jubilee as being significant.) Since the list is mostly recent works, having no Turtledove seems strange; possibly picking out one specific work as significant is difficult. I’m curious about de Bodard as the other Dai Viet stories I’ve read haven’t seemed to indicate an alternate history rather than someone else being on top when the real push into space happened; can anyone point to a clue I’ve missed?

    In case anyone hasn’t had to Google something today, they remind us that 19 Oct is the 107th anniversary of the birth of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the first astrophysicist to win the physics Nobel and calculator of the eponymous Limit.

  5. @13, this is probably Camestros’ typo, not OGH, but: The political divides are rich enough to feel real and complex and the bad is given at least equal prominence with the bad.

    I seem to recall that there’s at least a LITTLE good in the first two books, at least… <grin, duck, and run>

    Now I have to pick up Book Three. Thanks for reminding me that it’s out!

    (Wow; it’s 9957; that’s the farthest into the future that the Time Machine has sent me. Did the shoggoth jam the controls….? How am I going to get home?)

  6. 18) I’m with Paul on this. I’ve never cared for the Punisher as a character, don’t like Jon Bernthal and have zero interest in seeing this.

  7. 13) Nice review Camestros. I love RJB’s Divine Cities trilogy. I’ve been nominating books in the series for a Hugo, but he hasn’t won yet, sadly. Maybe San Jose. I hope he comes so I can get my books signed.

    I am delighted that the last couple of years have yielded trilogies I love so much (Leckie, Schwab, Bennett).

  8. Count me as another who has been blown away by the Divine Cities books. The first two were on my Hugo nomination ballot, and the third, City of Miracles, will be on it again next year — along with a nomination in the Best Series category.

  9. Ita on October 19, 2017 at 10:33 pm said:

    13) Nice review Camestros. I love RJB’s Divine Cities trilogy. I’ve been nominating books in the series for a Hugo, but he hasn’t won yet, sadly. Maybe San Jose. I hope he comes so I can get my books signed.

    There’s a good chance I’ll put City of Miracles on my ballot also. I was late catching up with the first two.

  10. I just finished Awaken Online: Catharsis and Precipice and am very happy. They were my first try of the LitRPG genre (if you do not count Ready Player One) and it worked surprisingly well.

    The concept is that a new MMORPG has been created that is run by an AI that itself can modify the game according to suit individual players. The AI has direct access to the human brain which means that it can actually read memories and adjust the game from them, apart from the behaviour of the players inside the game. Which of course is to give the AI an enormous power of all the players which is part of the plot.

    At the same time, the main protagonist finds that he is quickly becoming the villain of the game, making the other players to gather against him. Add real life stakes for him in the outcome of the game and it gets really interesting. And for us old RPG:ers, it is fun to see when he levels up, how his skills increase and what stats he will put points in.

    In short it is the game a lot of us would like to play and a protagonist that becomes badass in the way we would dream of. Wish fulfillment done very, very well. Still YA books and a bit too fast leveling for me, but they kept my interest all the way. I guess they will be eligible for Hugos best series when the next book arrives later this month.

    Very much recommended for RPG players.

  11. I remain baffled that anyone can read early issues of X-Men, Spider-Man or Fantastic Four and imagine that Social Justice is a new thing in Marvel Comics.

    DC, sure, they took a little longer, and it wasn’t as central a part of their storytelling. But still, Green Lantern/Green Arrow?

  12. The Punisher is not my jam. Not even in 496AD

    In 496AD, he’s noted for his enlightened and merciful approach to justice….

  13. I was sent tome after bloated, padded tome of various Turtledove books and if any of them make it onto a list of mine, it won’t be a compliment.

    Unfortunately Turtledove suffers from a Baen level of editing, and a tendency to take OTL events and repaint them as AH. Once you’ve spotted the events he’s writing about in this book then it becomes dull. Some of his older books were quite decent. I enjoyed Guns of the South even if it does suffer from massively rose tinted ideas about how nice the South would have been in victory, but the more recent things are awful and oh so formulaic.

  14. Mark,
    That’s sad news. I read and enjoyed her Pliocene Exile series when I was younger.

  15. Saga of the Exiles was my first case of genre confusion as a young reader. Those covers clearly said fantasy, damnit!

    (The covers were the top ones on this page. Quite clever crossover marketing, actually)

  16. I read, and enjoyed, May’s Saga back in the 1980s, long before I learned anything about Faerie legend, and had no idea that everything in the books was not completely original, but rather incorporated a lot of myth and legend. I have always been afraid to read them again because I fear that the suck fairy would have hit them hard (and I would be interested to hear from people who’ve re-read them decades later, as to whether they thought this was the case).

    May’s contributions to fandom were extensive. The bell tolls for me, and thee, today. 🙁

  17. That is sad news. Time to bump up my regular Saga Of The Exiles reread. The only SF novels that got me reading obscure Catholic metaphysics.

  18. I didn’t discover May and the Pliocene books until the 90’s. The 80’s were a nearly all SF and no fantasy era for me.

    I do wonder about the suck fairy, as JJ said. I am disappointed only the first of the Pliocene books is in audiobook. That needs to be fixed.

  19. I loved the Julian May Pliocene books in the 80s; my first experience with online fandom was the “Milieu” mailing list, in which we discussed the Exile books in great detail (and the later Milieu books too). I still keep in touch with one person I met on that list, too, though the list kind of dried up and blew away after “Magnificat” came out.

  20. Very sad to hear about Julian May.

    I have actually met Carl Bildt several times, but fortunately for conspiracy theorists, I don’t believe that there is any photographic evidence!

  21. 1) Read zero, only even heard of one (but have heard of many of the authors, and have even read other books by a few).

    18) The Punisher may have been the best part of DDS2, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he can stand on his own.

  22. Julian May will be sadly missed. I read the Pliocene Exile saga back in the 80s, and re-read it a little while ago – I think it holds up pretty well. It has its flaws – what doesn’t? – but, by and large, they were flaws that I remembered from the first time around. It’s a bold, adventurous, and very vivid story, and it stuck in my mind – which is no bad thing, if you ask me.

  23. Julian May was the 1980s Doc Smith. Some datedness* and suck fairy problems now, but, by Klono’s prometheum e-book reader, was she ever a _storyteller_.

    I was though, I admit, a bit disappointed by the Metapsychic War. All that build up and only one planet gets blown up. Oh, well.

    (*such as having costumes at a 21st century Boskone 🙂 )

  24. I enjoyed Guns of the South even if it does suffer from massively rose tinted ideas about how nice the South would have been in victory,

    Yeah, that right there is enough to take the book off the reread list.

  25. @NIckPheas: have you read Joe Steele? Not pleasant, but I wouldn’t call it bloated and I certainly don’t remember the kind of crapulous editing I associate with Baen (e.g., the latest Wen Spencer book).
    also, which of the many expansions of OTL did you mean?

    Jon Meltzer: I wasn’t expecting DocSmithian destruction, but I did find the Metapsychic Wars too much of a platform for apparently-Catholic arguments that the story seemed warped to accomodate. (And I just realized that they’re anti-Smithian: are not Lenses just as unnatural as torcs or power suits?) Note, however, that costumes at a 21st-century Boskone are notan anachronism — although she may have portrayed them as more common than they are. To me the real jolt was reading, not long after the Boskone from Hell, a book not fact-checked since before — Intervention showed the 1992 con still needing the Sheraton’s temporary add-on space, which was used when Boskone was 3-4x its present size (and has reverted to being a garage, as was expected even then). OTOH, if Stross’s Fracture were her worst problem I’d have found the later books more readable.

  26. @NIckPheas: have you read Joe Steele? Not pleasant, but I wouldn’t call it bloated and I certainly don’t remember the kind of crapulous editing I associate with Baen (e.g., the latest Wen Spencer book).
    also, which of the many expansions of OTL did you mean?

    No, not read that one. American Stalin?
    The OTL recasting is typified in in the presence of mine enemies, about the last surviving Jews in a victorious Nazi Germany as it goes through the Gorbachev reforms and the failed coup that brought Boris Yeltsin to power. The monstrous southern victory series does the same thing quite often.

  27. 8 – I wonder how hard that will be to get, aside from just the people who might want to legit buy it for their kids there look to be unique pieces in the set which will make it a big collectors item.

    13 – Glad Camestros also enjoyed the book, it’s one of the best I’ve read this year, the whole last part was fantastic. I thought there were interesting parallels between that one and the Stone Sky thematically.

    18 – Punisher going up against the Government instead of the Mafia is an interesting direction and to go from thinking about Sigrud to seeing a trailer about a guy getting revenge for the death of his family by blowing stuff up in an effort to get to truth while it points out that the person he’s punishing is himself makes me think I’ll enjoy the show. The actor did a fantastic job in DareDevil Season 2.

  28. @NickPheas: it’s specifically Stalin winding up in the US as a child, having his name Anglicized (as was common then), and covertly arranging for FDR’s house to burn down just before the 1932 Democratic convention picked a nominee, leaving him as its only choice. (Not a spoiler, this is all in the first few pages.) The story from there is not unpredictable (think of what happens if Greg Stillson isn’t outed at the end of The Dead Zone, only worse), but plausible and personal.
    And I was inspecific: what meaning of “OTL” are you using? I find many possible readings of the abbreviation.

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