Pixel Scroll 10/28/17 You’re So Scroll, You Probably Think This Pixel’s About You

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE READ NOT SO OLD SFF. As part of a planned change-of-pace, James Davis Nicoll unleashed the Young People Read Old SFF panel on some very new sf indeed — “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer.

We’ve cycled around to another recent story for my volunteers. I got a lot of suggestions for Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please”, a Hugo and Locus winning short story about an artificial intelligence whose desire to assist humanity is sadly somewhat larger than its ability to do so. Well, almost everyone likes cats and this has lots of cats in it. The AI is one of the helpful variety and who doesn’t like an Emma Woodhouse interfering in lives? It seemed like a safe choice. But I’ve been wrong before….

“Cat Pictures Please” is available at Clarkesworld.

(2) DOWN THE BLOCK FROM ZENDA. Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Prisoner of Limnos”: a Penric & Desdemona novella in the World of the Five Gods. Book 6 is out. Bujold told Goodreads followers, “The novella topped out at 44,950 words, not including the title page.”

In this sequel novella to “Mira’s Last Dance”, Temple sorcerer Penric and the widow Nikys have reached safety in the duchy of Orbas when a secret letter from a friend brings frightening news: Nikys’s mother has been taken hostage by her brother’s enemies at the Cedonian imperial court, and confined in a precarious island sanctuary. Their own romance still unresolved, Nikys, Penric, and of course Desdemona must infiltrate the hostile country once more, finding along the way that family relationships can be as unexpectedly challenging as any rescue scheme.

(3) PENRIC AND OTHER COVERS. Michaeline Duskova from Eight Ladies Writing, who says she loves Ron Miller’s cover for The Prisoner of Limnos, interviewed Lois McMaster Bujold about choosing ecovers, and it turns out she has quite a bit to say about the process: “Questions about Covers with Lois McMaster Bujold”.

EMD: For the early Penric covers, I know you asked for fan input about the public domain pictures you used, and I believe you mentioned that your agency helped you with the typography. Before that, did you have much input in the covers of your traditionally published books? What was the most useful piece of advice you got when you were choosing your own covers for the e-publications? What kind of parameters did you use for choosing the public domain pictures? And can you share any websites you found helpful in your search for a cover?

LMB: My input on my traditional-publisher artwork has varied over the years, from none to intense. There seems to be no discernible relationship between the amount of my involvement and the results. I’ve had great covers with no involvement, disappointing covers with lots, and the other way around, apparently at random.

I don’t recall I had much advice when I embarked on doing e-covers years ago with The Spirit Ring. (That would have been back in late 2010.) My helper putting them together could at the time only work with one image, cropping but no photoshopping, so options were limited. I wanted to choose historical paintings for the fantasies, because not only could I see what I was getting, but they were already at a high level of artistic accomplishment. Bad photoshopping/image collage is much worse than none, amateurish and off-putting, and any hint of photography was very wrong for the fantasy mood. As we’ve worked together over the years, my e-wrangler and I have both grown better at sorting through the challenges.

(4) ATTENTION ALASTAIR REYNOLDS FANS. Infinite Stars, a mixed reprint/original anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, contains a lot of well-known stories. In the mix is a brand new Alastair Reynold story.

The book contains an entirely new 16,000 word story of mine, entitled “Night Passage”, which happens to be set in the Revelation Space universe. The story revolves around the discovery of the first “Shroud”, a class of alien artefact which goes on to play a significant role in the future history. My story took about five years to write, so I am very pleased to finally see it both completed and in print.

Here’s the list of stories in the anthology, with the new ones in bold. [Updated courtesy of Greg Hullender.]

  • Renegat” (Ender) by Orson Scott Card
  • “The Waters Of Kanly” (Dune) by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
  • “The Good Shepherd” (Legion of the Damned) by William C. Dietz
  • “The Game Of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith 1956 Hugo Best Story, 1955 Galaxy SF, October
  • “The Borders of Infinity” (Vorkosigan) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • “All In A Day’s Work” (Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon
  • “Last Day Of Training” (Lightship Chronicles) by Dave Bara
  • “The Wages of Honor” (Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro
  • “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor TOR.COM, 2015; 2016 Nebula/Hugo/BFA Best Novella
  • “Reflex” (CoDominium) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  • “How To Be A Barbarian in the Late 25th Century” (Theirs Not To Reason Why) by Jean Johnson
  • “Stark and the Star Kings” (Eric John Stark) by Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton
  • “Imperium Imposter” (Imperium) by Jody Lynn Nye
  • “Region Five” (Red Series) by Linda Nagata
  • “Night Passage” (Revelation Space) by Alastair Reynolds
  • “Duel on Syrtis” by Poul Anderson
  • “Twilight World” (StarBridge) by A.C. Crispin
  • “Twenty Excellent Reasons” (The Astral Saga) by Bennett R. Coles
  • “The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey
  • “Taste of Ashes” (Caine Riardon) by Charles E. Gannon
  • “The Iron Star” by Robert Silverberg
  • “Cadet Cruise” (Lt. Leary) by David Drake
  • “Shore Patrol” (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell
  • “Our Sacred Honor” (Honorverse) by David Weber

(5) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Grady Hendrix and David Leo Rice on Wednesday, November 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.).

Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix has written about the confederate flag for Playboy magazine, covered machine gun collector conventions, written award shows for Chinese television, and answered the phone for a parapsychological research organization. His novel, Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, has been translated into 14 languages and he’s also the author of My Best Friend’s Exorcism, now out in paperback. He recently wrote Mohawk, a horror movie about the War of 1812 which premiered at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival. His latest book is Paperbacks from Hell, a non-fiction history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties.

David Leo Rice

David Leo Rice is a writer and animator from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. His stories and essays have appeared in Black ClockThe BelieverThe CollagistHobartThe RumpusVol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere, and his animations have played at festivals around the world. A Room in Dodge City, the start of a trilogy, is his first novel. It won the 2016 Electric Book Award and was published this year. He recently finished a standalone novel, Angel House.


Brian May, founding member of Queen, took thirty years to get his PhD.


International Animation Day

The International Film Association was originally established in France, and was organized for the purpose of recognizing all forms of cinema and art. Among them was Animation, and thus they developed International Animation Day in 2002 to serve as the pinnacle event in the celebration of the rising art of animation.


  • October 28, 1962 Fireball XL5 premiered on television.
  • October 28, 1994 Stargate, the motion picture, premiered in theaters on this day.


  • Born October 28, 1951 – Joe Lansdale
  • Born October 28, 1982 – Matt Smith


  • John King Tarpinian surprised me with a stfnal reference in Garfield.
  • And he found an Asimov reference in today’s Dilbert.
  • Elsewhere, a Halloween comics trope is about to be disrupted by Lio.

(11) DOING COSMOLOGY. Edge hears the word from UCSD astrophysicist Brian G. Keating in “Shut Up And Measure”.

What is this cosmic hubris that makes us feel so important about the Universe and our place within it? This is the question that I’m grappling with right now. I’m trying to experimentally shed some light on these extremely heated discussions that have taken over cosmology in the last few months with a debate about the deep past of cosmology and the implications for the future.

Specifically, what concerns me is whether we can drill down to the first moments, nanoseconds, microseconds, trillionths of a second after the Big Bang. And if we do, is it really going to tell us something about the origin of the Universe, or is it merely tacking decimal places onto the primordial collection of stamps? My question is one of bringing data. When people were waxing philosophic and having existential crises of faith about their equations, Feynman used to say, “Shut up and calculate.” And that meant that the implications of what you were doing metaphysically, philosophically, and otherwise didn’t matter; what mattered were the answers that you got at the end of the calculation.

A lot of what my colleagues and I do is shut up and measure….

(12) THROWING OUT THE FIRST PITCH. As a Dodgers fan I haven’t found as much to feel good about in the World Series as I’d hoped, but this may make up for some of it — “This 7-Year-Old Girl Is Pitching at the World Series With a 3D Printed Hand”.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros will meet for Game 4 of the World Series. As with any Major League Baseball game, the competition will kick off with a ceremonial pitch. But this one will be especially awe-worthy, featuring a 7-year-old girl with a 3D-printed hand.

Hailey Dawson will fling the first baseball using a prosthetic hand that allows her to grip objects despite missing and underdeveloped fingers on her right side.

(13) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. Gizmodo keeps track of this sort of thing: “$1,000 Tea Infuser Heavily Discounted as Company Crashes and Burns”

You’re probably reading the tea leaves here, and guessing that Teforia is hinting that the spectacular, $118 million implosion of Juicero might be contributing to its troubles of educating the market about the value of an over-engineered machine that no one needs. For anyone keeping count, Teforia only wasted $17 million, thank you very much.

(14) LIVE PLAN 9 READING. If you wondered what happened to Laraine Newman, you can find out tomorrow night at the Largo in LA: “Dana Gould presents A Live, Stage Reading of Ed Wood’s… Plan 9 from Outer Space”.

(And they’ve done this at least once before.)

(15) DOING WORK. Thor: Ragnarok actor/director Taika Waititi told a New Zealand site about his new projects: “Taika Waititi is busy, reportedly looking to make US What We Do in the Shadows show”.

He is a busy man. Fresh for releasing his Marvel superhero film, Thor: Ragnarok, reports are circulating saying Taika Waititi is about to reboot What We Do in the Shadows.

Waititi is developing plans for a television version of the Kiwi vampire comedy for American television, according to film site Fandago.

He and Jemaine Clement are also working on a What We Do in the Shadows spinoff for TVNZ. Called Paranormal Unit, the TVNZ show is described as “Motorway Patrol meets The X-Files” and follows the Wellington Police’s investigations into supernatural crime.

A TVNZ spokeswoman said the rumoured project in the US was different to what they had commissioned. She confirmed Paranormal Unit would be filmed in New Zealand.

Waititi told Fandango that he was in talks to create a US version of What We Do In The Shadows, which would be filmed in the US, for an American television audience.

He confirmed that the New Zealand spinoff would be released in 2018, as promised.

(16) CLARKE CENTER PUMPKIN PODCAST. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination’s Into the Impossible podcast engages the season in Episode 11, “Stranger Things (While Podcasting); or: On Fear and Imagination with Christopher Collins”

In honor of Halloween, we’re exploring the relationship between fear and imagination. First, a story about when the production of this very podcast was visited by a demon from the Upside Down (maybe?). Then, a conversation with Christopher Collins, author of Paleopoetics: The Evolution of the Preliterate Imagination, on the auditory and visual imagination, the evolution of language, and how human culture has spent so much time telling itself scary stories.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Michaeline Duskova, Errol Cavit, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

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36 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/28/17 You’re So Scroll, You Probably Think This Pixel’s About You

    For Hugo purposes, technically a Novel not Novella?

    (15) DOING WORK.
    Thor: Ragnarok actor Taila Waititi told a New Zealand site -> Taika Waititi

    And he directed Thor too…

  2. Such a busy news day! I’d really like to see “What We Do in the Shadows”.

    And, lol, this is crazy, but I’ve been practicing the Carly Simon song on the ukulele since shortly before the eclipse. Why, yes. In my best Warren Beatty mode, I think at least part of this pixel is about me! Thanks so much for the boost!

  3. 4)Hunh, a new Reynolds story. I got contacted by the publisher asking if I was going to give it coverage. They apparently had sent me a review copy, but it never arrived. This is not the first time this has occurred. Maybe, as per the discussion in another thread, I DO need a PO box of some sort.

  4. Soon Lee: For Hugo purposes, technically a Novel not Novella?

    It’s within the 45,000 upper fuzzy limit for Novellas set by the Hugo rules, which I suspect was a deliberate choice on Bujold’s part.

    (Note that Nicholas Whyte’s proposal to change this limit to 20% to match the other fiction fuzzy boundaries — in other words, 32,000 to 48,000 words — was passed at Worldcon 75 this year and will be up for final ratification next year at Worldcon 76 in San Jose.)

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving Universe story The Runabout was published this year, by Asimov’s and standalone by her, both of them calling it a Novel. But it’s less than 43,000 words, and I’m calling it a Novella and possibly nominating it in that category.

  5. Update from Bujold:

    AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!! Limnos missing paragraphs
    In a brand-new sort of errata, it turns out that most of the “chapters” in the new novella, “The Prisoner of Limnos”, lost their final paragraphs somewhere in the formatting process.

    We will be producing and uploading a corrected file just as soon as possible…

    (E-helper says new files just went up; we’ll see if it got fixed. Please do report.)

    For a quick check to see which edition you have: the proper ending of Ch. 1 should be:

    “Oh” — Pen exhaled — “nothing of importance now. Let’s go find Duke Jurgo.”
    They exited the bookroom together, Nikys’s shorter steps for once outpacing Penric’s leggy stride.

    Instructions on how to get the updated Kindle version are then provided.

    I purchased and downloaded the novella 5 minutes ago, and I have the correct version.

  6. 6) To be fair, it /was/ a doctorate of astrophysics, and he was just a bit busy there for a few years.

  7. (I should be sleeping but) there’s a typo in 15 – the first ‘Taika’ is ‘Taila’.

  8. Thanks for the heads up on the Bujold. Bought! And I’ve verified it’s the correct version.

  9. À Propos of nothing: I am apparently one of today’s “Lucky” 10,000.

    Like this person, I feel that I’ve been overestimating Brits’ enthusiasm for things my entire life.

  10. (4) Infinite Stars actually contains 15 Hugo-eligible stories (one is a reprint from earlier in the year). The list above should bold the following:

    “The Good Shepherd” (Legion of the Damned) by William C. Dietz
    “All In A Day’s Work” (Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon
    “Last Day Of Training” (Lightship Chronicles) by Dave Bara
    “The Wages of Honor” (Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro
    “How To Be A Barbarian in the Late 25th Century” (Theirs Not To Reason Why) by Jean Johnson
    “Imperium Imposter” (Imperium) by Jody Lynn Nye
    “Region Five” (Red Series) by Linda Nagata
    “Twenty Excellent Reasons” (The Astral Saga) by Bennett R. Coles
    “Taste of Ashes” (Caine Riardon) by Charles E. Gannon
    “Cadet Cruise” (Lt. Leary) by David Drake

    Or, if you really only want the ones original to the volume, “Cadet Cruise” was first published online at BAEN.com earlier this year.

  11. Gee, thanks for that, Greg. I think. 😉

    (toddles off to update the Eligible Best Series post)

  12. I mentioned at one point, while watching the Queen at Wembley show, that Brian May had paused his PhD to play music. Her response: “When you get a chance to play with someone who can sing like [Freddie Mercury], _you take it_.”

  13. JJ on October 28, 2017 at 8:12 pm said:

    À Propos of nothing: I am apparently one of today’s “Lucky” 10,000.

    Like this person, I feel that I’ve been overestimating Brits’ enthusiasm for things my entire life.

    As an occasional British person I don’t think they got the nuance of the word quite right.

  14. @JJ

    As a Brit… “quite” can be an intensifier, a moderator, or a damning with faint praise, depending on contex and to some extent inflection.

    “Quite CHARMING” – very charming.
    “QUITE charming” – somewhat charming.
    “QUITE charming” (in a corrective tone, to someone exclaiming how charming it is) – not at all charming, but open contradiction would be rude.

  15. Also add in the British tendency towards understatement, and sarcasm. Thus “They’re quite charming” could mean anything from “I’ll be in my bunk” to “an absolute tool”

  16. 12: In the UK Team Unlimbited are doing much the same with customisable 3d printed arms. They work closely with and organisation by the name of Enabling The Future who cover other parts of the world.

    The Team Unlimbited shed was recently a finalist in the Channel 4 Shed of the Year competition which may still be available to watch online.

  17. (15) DOING WORK

    Thor: Ragnarok actor Taila Waititi

    A typo and a small correction: It’s actually Taika Waititi and he is the director of Thor: Ragnarok as well as playing a part in it. Just to let you know.

  18. @JJ: Bought Prisoner of Limnos, thanks! And it’s the corrected one, yay. (I figured waiting a day or so wouldn’t hurt.)

    I see Subterranean’s doing a hardback of Penric’s Mission with nicer cover art (of course). For people who’re interested in such, FYI.

  19. recent reading: American War, by Omar El Akkad. Florida and pieces of the east coast have been erased by global warming, the fifth Arab Spring has finally overthrown all the tyrants (and produced a unified empire!), and the US is having a second Civil War — mostly border guarding and slow starvation rather than offensive action — because the remains of the deep South revolted when Columbus OH (the replacement capital) banned fossil fuels. The story follows a black female from displacement as a young girl through a refugee camp to guerilla actions and after. It’s a relocated portrayal of where some of the present-day US’s most vigorous opponents come from, with little sympathy for anyone — the new empire and China are manipulating events to keep the US broken and the lead character fails to think due to hatred. A bleak story that is likely to trigger almost anyone who has triggers. Not on the recommended-reading list because I’m still not sure whether didacticism overwhelms the story or not.

  20. Not really related to anything being discussed here but I wandered through the Books A Million out by our Malllate last week. They had an astounding amount of MilSF including every Baen book of that subgenre and a startling number of self-pub books that are sf and fantasy.and the rest of genre section itself is very impressive.

    Given that the owners are Southern conservative folk, it’s a bit odd to also find a neo-pagan book section and an extensive tarot collection not all that far from an equally large bible and cross selection.

  21. About 1: Cat Pictures got a pretty good reaction from the readergroup, nice.

    About the Discoverydiscusion from Yesterday: Even my conservative (okay member of a conservative party) mother had no problems with the swearing or the gay relationship. Actually she was watching a pre-primetime hospitalshow yesterday, in wich a mother tried to break up her son and his boyfriend (both the son und the boyfriend are maincharacters), so gay characters are nothing unusal in German TV.

  22. I’m now quite worried that all the times I was quite sarcastic didn’t quite work.

    The new Penric is good. I feel for LMB and her ebook woes though.

  23. I loved the new Penric, although I don’t always appreciate Lois’ choice of where to stop. It’s not like she needs these sortakinda cliffhangers to draw us back for the next installment!
    (and she had a literal cliffhanger in this story, to boot!)

  24. @techgrrl1972: Oh, it ends with a cliffhanger? Le sigh. At this point, anyone still reading the novellas is probably going to keep up, and if they’re not into them, they’ll probably stop and not fall for a gimmick. Heck, since the last two and this one (and apparently the next one) are really one long story, it’s super silly to do this. Grumble. She needs to go back to ending each one at a reasonable stopping point.

    Still, I’m looking forward to reading this one. 🙂 But I may not rush to it, knowing I’ll just be frustrated at the end. I wonder when the next one’s going to be out?!

  25. Kendall: But I may not rush to it, knowing I’ll just be frustrated at the end.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that it ends with a cliffhanger. It stops at a logical place, having completed this particular story, but with plenty of seeds dropped for future adventures.

  26. I will say that while I have really enjoyed all of the Penric novellas, possibly Penric’s Mission (which was actually well into novel length) might be the only one I really felt rose to Hugo level for me. Both last year, and this year (so far), the rest of them are in my Top 10 but not in my Top 5.

    They’re great stories, but they seem a bit slight compared to the Vorkosigan stories. That’s probably a function of length, but also probably of their “quietness”. I suspect that if Mission / Dance / Prisoner had been released as one novel, they’d have more of an impact for me.

    (I re-read Mission before reading Dance, and last night I re-read Dance before reading Prisoner. For those who have the ability and the reading time to do that, I recommend doing so.)

  27. @StefanB

    About the Discoverydiscusion from Yesterday: Even my conservative (okay member of a conservative party) mother had no problems with the swearing or the gay relationship. Actually she was watching a pre-primetime hospitalshow yesterday, in wich a mother tried to break up her son and his boyfriend (both the son und the boyfriend are maincharacters), so gay characters are nothing unusal in German TV.

    Well, Carsten Flöter was openly gay in Lindenstraße 32 years ago and kissed his then boyfriend on screen a few years later, so German audiences are more used to it by now. And the swearing discussion reminds me of the discussion in the 1980s about working class cop Horst Schimanski swearing on TV (“Won’t someone think of the kids?”), which struck my young self as absurd even then, because every kid in school already knew those words.

    Coincidentally, my Mom refuses to watch Star Trek Discovery. Not because of the gays and the swearing, but because she doesn’t like dark stuff (both darkly lit and dark in content) and because she’s angry at the portrayal of the Klingons.

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