Pixel Scroll 10/27/16 Take a Pixel, Maria, Scroll It Up My Screen

(1) HARASSMENT CLAIMS ANOTHER CREATOR. Comics Beat’s Heidi MacDonald reports another woman comics creator abandoned Twitter because of abuse — “Bestselling author Chelsea Cain driven off Twitter by harassment from comcs ‘fans’”.

Mockingbird writer Chelsea Cain, the bestselling author of Heartsick and other thrillers, deleted her Twitter account today after receiving abusive tweets yesterday….

In a now vanished series of tweets (one screencapped above)  Cain noted that she was getting harassing tweets, presumably over the above Mockingbird cover and her work there in general. It’s possible that she was targeted from 4chan or Reddit as well. After saying she was considering pulling the plug…she did just that.

This ignited a firestorm of support on Twitter as well….

And a #standwithchelseacain hashtag was trending for quite a while and is still gaining steam. I doubt this is going to calm down any time soon.

I guess everyone feels a little burnt on social media at the mo, but the harassment problem isn’t a woman’s problem, it’s a MAN’S problem. The good men of comics and everywhere need to make it clear they do not support or tolerate hate, abuse and misogyny. This isn’t a borderline case. It’s clear, indisputable harassment. And that should not be part of the “comics conversation.”

The abuse against women in comics is equally clear and indisputable, and the abuse against women of color is even worse. And so on down the line. It’s toxic and inexcusable.

(2) TAKE THE LONGER WAY. Scifinow has an interview with Becky Chambers.

[CHAMBERS] So when they asked me, “What would you like to do next?” I was like, “Well, I don’t have anything for this crew, but Pepper and Lovelace, those two are, they’ve got stuff that I’d like to explore.” So that was just the thread I picked up and went with.

They’re such a great pairing! So they were the starting point?

Yeah, it really did happen by accident. That was one of the last things that I figured out in The Long Way. A lot of the stuff that happened in the book I’d scribbled down and imagined well before I actually sat down and wrote the thing, but I was a long way through the first draft before I knew where Lovelace was going to go after the first book. Somehow Pepper just sort of naturally took that spot.

It was one of those wonderful moments where something happens when you’re writing that you didn’t intend and it’s just like, “Oh, that actually works really well!” I started thinking about how these two women have vastly different backgrounds and life experiences but they actually have quite a bit in common, and it was fun playing with that. It was fun finding the similarities between two characters who, at first blush, don’t look like they could have anything similar at all and yet are walking such similar paths.

(3) THE SCIENCE IN SCIENCE FICTION. Joshua Sky interviewed Larry Niven for Omni.

JS: One of your goals as a writer is to continuously publish science fiction that is at the cutting edge of science. Is that still the case?

NIVEN: Yes, Fred (editor of If and Galaxy magazines at the time) gave me that goal, because I was already doing it, without quite making it a goal. He in fact suggested me writing stories and he finding scientists to write articles alongside the stories on the same subject, and we never got that far. I think he must’ve found that to be too much work.

JS: Is your process that you check the news, read the latest discoveries in science, and then write a story based on your findings?

NIVEN: That was my goal. In fact, I never really managed it.

JS: Is it difficult to keep track of the latest developments in science?

NIVEN: That’s easy. That’s a hobby. Doing your research for fun, and hoping it generates stories. Sometimes it does.

(4) WHAT I REALLY MEANT TO SAY. Here’s a Los Angeles Times article that will refresh your memory about the new California law requiring autographed memorabilia come with a certificate of authenticity —  “The high cost of an autograph”.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, faced with a firestorm of protest from booksellers, issued this letter that argues her legal language should not be interpreted in the draconian way people assume.



(5) VANISHING CULT. The LA Times’ Josh Rottenberg asks, “In an age of comic-book blockbusters and viral sensations, whatever happened to the cult movie?”

Those old video stores have virtually all disappeared now, of course, along with many of the independent movie theaters that, in decades past, drew steady crowds to such “midnight movies” – all of it swept away in the transition to a fully digital, on-demand world. And the cult movies themselves? It seems they’re in danger of going extinct as well.

In today’s fragmented, ever-churning pop culture ecosystem, the long tail of home video that once gave oddball movies a shot at a glorious cult afterlife has shortened to the point of vanishing. With even big-budget commercial films often struggling to break through the endless clutter of content, the challenge for smaller, quirkier fare is that much harder.

Even when a particular offbeat film – say, “The Babadook” or “It Follows” – manages to catch a viral wave, it is almost instantly overcome by the next fresh piece of “must-watch” entertainment that demands your already overtaxed attention. Instead of a long tail, we now have a collective case of incurable cultural ADHD.

(6) WRITER’S NOTEBOOK. In his latest post at This Way To Texas, Lou Antonelli shares an idea for a story – “The Revenge of the Internet” — inspired by this premise:

OK, the big problem with social media – which I think everyone recognizes – is that it allows you to attack or insult people with impunity. it unleashes our worst nature. We can get away with saying things to people we would never say to their face, or even on the phone, and we can do it across great distances….

(7) GENDER COUNTING. Juliet McKenna says this is what the numbers say about “Gender in Genre and the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016”.

When the only thing that counts is what readers make of the writing, the story really is all that matters.

The second thing I’m seeing here? Out of three hundred SPFBO [Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off] submissions this year, the field was 49% male, 33% female and 18 unknown as they were using initials. Can we assume those initials all belong to women? I’d say that’s a risky assumption – and even if that were the case, that still means only a third of the books were written by women prepared to raise a hand to be identified as such. What does that tell us?

Once again, it confirms something I’ve seen time and again since I started writing about inequalities in visibility in SF&F. Something I’ve had confirmed as an endemic problem in fields such as medicine, science, computing, literary criticism, history and the law. Women are still culturally conditioned to put themselves forward much less and to hold their own work to a far higher standard before offering it for publication. It’s a problem that frustrates and infuriates editors, from those working on academic journals, through fiction anthologies in all genres, to the commissioning editors in publishing houses. With the best will in the world, the best initiatives to improve diversity and representation can only work if those who’ve been historically excluded now step forward.

(8) BEFORE THERE WAS DYSTOPIA. In his article “We should remember HG Wells for his social predictions, not just his scientific ones” at The Conversation, Victorian fiction professor Simon John James notes that it’s H.G. Wells’s sesquicentennial, and gives back ground on Wells’s political achievements, including how Wells’s ideas inspired the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights.

Today, given the role that national identity continues to play in human beings’ efforts for greater self-determination, the prospect of Wells’s world state seems even less likely. One surprising legacy remains, however, from Wells’s forecasts of a better future for humankind. Letters from Wells to The Times led to the Sankey Committee for Human Rights and Wells’s 1940 Penguin Special The Rights of Man; Or What Are We Fighting For? (recently reissued with a preface by novelist Ali Smith). Wells argued that the only meaningful outcome for the war would be the declaration of an agreed set of universal human rights and an international court to enforce them.

Wells’s aspiration was the guaranteeing of the right to life, education, work, trade and property for every man and woman on Earth. (Surprisingly, given his earlier flirtation with positive eugenics, Wells also insisted on “freedom from any sort of mutilation or sterilisation” and from torture.) The influence of Wells’s work is clear in the United Nations 1948 Declaration of Universal Human Rights. These rights now have legal force if not universal existence: so are perhaps Wells’s most significant prophetic aim.

(9) JABBA’S JAZZ BAND ON THE TITANIC. I was amused by a sportswriter’s use of a Star Wars metaphor here. (There’s no reason to go read the whole article unless you want to know why a pro basketball team – the Philadelpha 76ers – has been tanking for years.)

Maduabum is not at the center of this story, but as a part of The Process he is known to the community of people who believe in it, roughly in the same way that the name of the lead singer in the band playing on Jabba the Hutt’s barge is known to your harder core Star Wars weirdos. Maduabum is a component part of a bigger story, in other words, and a peripheral cast member in that story’s expanded universe.

It’s a story that, as so often happens with things like this, is now being told by people with significantly more emotional investment in it than the original credited author. The person who came up with all this was, however idiosyncratically, trying to tell a compelling story successfully through to its conclusion, which is a complicated but prosaic thing. That story didn’t really come to life, and so cannot really have been said to work in any meaningful way, until it changed hands, as generally happens to stories that work the best. The story becomes the shared property of people who really care about it, who have more invested in it, for one, but also pursue it with both a more robust and a more authentic imagination than the story’s creator brought to it. The Process is no longer in Hinkie’s hands. It belongs, now, to the community of believers that keep it alive, and who care about it for reasons that go well beyond the stated goal of building a winning basketball team or attending some cramped and beery victory parade down Broad Street. ChuChu Maduabum is a peripheral part of that story, but he’s part of it. He’s Sy Snootles, yes, but he’s also a real guy. The Philadelphia 76ers owned his rights for six months, and then they traded them.

(10) DON’T SKIP OVER THIS. Steven Lovely picked “The 30 Best Science Fiction Books in the Universe” for Early Bird Books. You may think it’s only been ten minutes since you saw a list of sf/f greats, but this one includes a bunch of present day greats, too, like Ancillary Justice and Three-Body Problem.

(11) ORIGINAL TOURIST TERROR TOWER. In the October 27 Washington Post, John Kelly interviews Itsi Atkins, who probably invented the haunted house attraction in St. Mary’s County in 1971.  Atkins talks about how he came up with the idea and how much he enjoyed scaring people at “Blood Manor” in the 1970s: “He dreamed of screams: Meet the man behind the modern haunted house”.

With Halloween bearing down on us like an ax-wielding maniac, now’s a good time to remember Edwin “Itsi” Atkins, pioneer of fright.

“In all my research, I can’t find anybody who has a live-action haunted house before 1971,” Itsi told me when I rang him up in Georgia, where he lives now. Yes, people had “yard haunts” — elaborate decorations in their front yards — and Disneyland had its Haunted Mansion. But that was an amusement-park ride, which took safely seat-belted riders through a gently scary attraction.

What Itsi claims to have invented is the interactive experience of walking through a haunted house while being assaulted by scary actors amid frightful tableaux.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some off these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

62 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/27/16 Take a Pixel, Maria, Scroll It Up My Screen

  1. Dann: I’m personally familiar with about four writers who go by initials, and one of them is male (a pro-puppy author I used to quote in last year’s roundups). The other three are female. (One of those three is a pen name used by someone well-known in fandom by her real name.)

  2. @Mart: If California is anything remotely like here (the Netherlands), then the discussion in the local parliament and memos like this are important guidelines to judges (and hopefully prosecutors) on what acts the law actually applies to.

    You live in a sensible country. Here in the US, pronouncements of legislators outside of the text of the statue are exceedingly unfashionable as a method of statutory construction, particularly with right wing judges.

  3. 6) The irony, it burnsssss…

    @ Soon Lee: Anybody who does Christmas anything before Halloween is jumping the gun. Thanksgiving, sadly, is already a lost cause. (Caveat: people who make handcrafted Christmas presents get some slack on this because of the lead time involved in that sort of thing.)

    @ Chip: I know why I don’t like Feintuch. I’m curious about why you don’t, just to see if our reasons overlap at all.

    @ Heather Rose Jones: I recently finished (and am now re-reading) Daughter of Mystery and found it thoroughly enjoyable. The other two books are on my Amazon wishlist. Side note: I’ve recently found myself reading and enjoying a LOT of books and series that are heavy on the political intrigue, which used to not really be my thing. I wonder if watching real-world politics is making reading about other people’s politics — with some assurance that it will all come out right in the end — a new and different form of escapism.

    Ticky-tie-to, gimme more,
    Whatapixel, whatapixel
    Hey ney, hey ney, scroll-ah!

  4. Dann: I have no idea what might have caused Ms. Cain to withdraw from Twitter. But I’m willing to take her at her word.
    Let me be clear: I did not leave Twitter because I was trolled; I was trolled because I said I was going to leave Twitter.

    The trolling was unjustified regardless of when in the sequence of events it occurred, but it is probably appropriate to keep those events in the right order.

    Dann: Thanks much. I saw that. I think it generally supports the point I have been implying.

    No, it directly contradicts the point you have been making. First you say “I have no idea what might have caused Ms. Cain to withdraw from Twitter”, and then you say that you had seen her statement on what caused her to leave Twitter. Which is it?

    Do you not understand that the “usual daily abuse” to which she’s referring, which caused her to leave Twitter, is… wait for ittrolling?

  5. 6) CUL isn’t talking about writing fantasy; he’s talking about writing an autobiographical story of his severe harassment of Aaron (who had pointed out on Twitter that he was being an asshole), saying once again that it’s perfectly acceptable to hunt down and harm people you feel have wronged you.

    Contrary to CUL’s claim that “We can get away with saying things to people we would never say to their face”, I wouldn’t have any problem telling him to his face that he’s been an asshole on a continuing basis for at least the last couple of years (if not longer) — and I suspect that Aaron wouldn’t, either.

  6. @Simon Bisson: That is an excellent analysis. Too bad all the cool kids were too cool to catch the show in first-run; your loss, hipsters!

    JJ said: the “usual daily abuse” to which she’s referring, which caused her to leave Twitter, is… wait for it… trolling?


    (and I too would tell CUL to his face that he’s an asshole.)

  7. Just finished: Wall of storms by Ken liu
    Haven’t decided what I think of this yet. It’s different from the first book- the first book stuck pretty close to actual Chinese history, but this one is more fantastical. I found it hard to maintain suspension of disbelief since I couldn’t get past feeling this was about our world.
    It had interesting discussions on the political philosophy at the start, those got sidelined when the action heavy part started. Then we got lots of cool speculations on how various imaginary technologies could work. The plot was exciting throughout, but I found the ending a letdown, and along the way it seemed several characters were killed just to clear the board a little.

  8. Lee said:
    @ Soon Lee: Anybody who does Christmas anything before Halloween is jumping the gun. Thanksgiving, sadly, is already a lost cause. (Caveat: people who make handcrafted Christmas presents get some slack on this because of the lead time involved in that sort of thing.)

    We didn’t really do Halloween in New Zealand, so never had that as a backstop preventing premature Christmassing (that’s a real word, honest!), but in recent years Halloween American-style has been more & more celebrated in NZ ( I suspect the twin draws of candy & dressing up are proving irresistible, and another example of American culture, by which I mean US culture, spreading its influence).

    Earlier this week I saw different shops in the same mall, one with Halloween decorations, the other with Christmas decorations…

  9. @Dann
    The link to the ten finalists of the self-published fantasy blog-off is in the excerpt OGH posted.

    The only finalist I’m familiar with is Claire Frank whose work I recommend. I haven’t read Assassin’s Charge, her SPFBO finalists yet, but enjoyed her Echoes of Imara series.

  10. I wouldn’t have any problem telling him to his face that he’s been an asshole on a continuing basis for at least the last couple of years (if not longer) — and I suspect that Aaron wouldn’t, either.

    You would suspect correctly.

    I’m mostly amused that CUL seems to think that he would have the time to settle old internet scores in the event of societal collapse. I have a feeling that people for whom that is their first thought wouldn’t last long in the new reality that would result from such a collapse.

Comments are closed.