Pixel Scroll 10/29/16 Best Pixel Scroll Title Ever

(1) ORIGIN STORY. Paris Review kicked off a series of posts about the author of Dracula with “Something in the Blood, Part 1”.

To celebrate the spookiest of holidays, we’re publishing a selection of excerpts from David J. Skal’s Something in the Blood, a biography of Bram Stoker, published this month by Liveright. First up: the origins of Dracula.

There are many stories about how Bram Stoker came to write Dracula, but only some of them are true. According to his son, Stoker always claimed the inspiration for the book came from a nightmare induced by “a too-generous helping of dressed crab at supper”—a dab of blarney the writer enjoyed dishing out when asked, but no one took seriously (it may sound too much like Ebenezer Scrooge, famously dismissing Marley’s ghost as “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese”). But that hasn’t stopped the midnight snack of dressed crab from being served up as a matter of fact by countless people on countless occasions. While the nightmare aspect may well have some validity—Stoker’s notes at least suggest that the story might have had its genesis in a disturbing vision or reverie—it exemplifies the way truth, falsehood, and speculation have always conspired to distort Dracula scholarship. An unusually evocative piece of storytelling, Dracula has always excited more storytelling—both in endlessly embellished dramatizations and in the similarly ornamented accounts of its own birth process.

(2) SOFT OPENING. Quill & Quire previews the new Toronto Bar “Famous Last Words”.

For readers looking for a casual haunt to sit down with a good book and a drink (or writers looking for a few strong ounces of liquid creativity)‚ Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood [is] home to a literary-themed bar‚ slated to open Oct. 14. Famous Last Words – echoing CanLit legend Timothy Findley’s 1981 novel of the same name – will feature craft cocktails “with a literary twist‚” with book-inspired names like The English Patient‚ Cryptonomicon‚ The Perks of Being a Wallflower‚ and Fahrenheit 451.

The bar’s bookish decor includes a Scrabble-tile-topped bar‚ bookshelf wallpaper‚ washrooms for Jane Austens or Oscar Wildes‚ typewriters‚ and‚ of course‚ plenty of paperbacks to browse on a bar-spanning book wall.

(3) TAKING UP TIME. David Brin’s book recommendation post includes these playful words about Time Travel: A History, by science historian James Gleick.

This chapter does not mention the array of sneaky means by which we sci fi authors try to weasel our way around causality and temporal protection. One is the universe branching point. When Spock accidentally lures a vengeful Romulan to go back in time and destroy Planet Vulcan (in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek flick) many fans consoled themselves that this is just a branching-off of a newborn parallel reality… that the older timeline still stands, where Shatner-Kirk and all the rest remain, along the original timeline, like a trellis for the new one to grow alongside.

Well, well, that’s an artistic representation of one of many ways that physicists (at least a few) think that paradoxes might be resolved. Speaking as both a physicist and a science fiction author, I must say that this very loose partnership is one of the most fun that our unique and marvelous civilization offers, during a unique and marvelous… time.

(4) FELINE FEST. For National Cat Day, Jeff Somers of the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has compiled “The 25 Best Cats in Sci-Fi & Fantasy”. (Not all of them are cats strictly speaking – for example, Aslan is on this list.)

Lying Cat in Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples If you Google “lying cat” you’ll be rewarded with a slew of images of a fierce-looking cat saying the word “lying” in various tones—from vicious to interrogative. Lying cat can always tell if someone is deliberately lying, and thus is an invaluable companion to bounty hunter The Will in this remarkable comic series. More than just a very large cat that acts as a lie detector, Lying Cat is also a fierce warrior, and fiercely loyal. The fact that a cat that comes up to The Will’s shoulder was the runt of its litter should disturb you.

(5) DON’T YOU THINK SHE LOOKS TIRED? Fansided’s “Doctor Who Watch” uncovered scandalous facts in a candidate’s leaked emails — “Hillary Clinton Reportedly Calls Doctor Who ‘Boring Garbage’”

However, there is one email* that has come out that may truly signal the end of her hopes for the Presidency. Instead of being political in nature, or housing secret government information, this email discusses Doctor Who — or, rather, how she just does not appreciate the show, calling it “boring garbage” and feeling as though she is being left out on a joke that everyone else understands

…But to say that Doctor Who is boring garbage? Well, that crosses a line that few would dare to verbalize. In saying that, she has, in effect, removed the Whovian demographic from her voting population. Yes, she has a somewhat higher opinion of Sherlock, which has a great deal of overlap in terms of fandom, but to attack the Doctor?

(6) SAVE OUR STOTTIES. Fanhumorist and distinguished geezer Graham Charnock is in jeopardy of being denied access to an essential food group. He has launched a petition at Change.org

Greggs have ceased to sell ham and pease pudding stotties, a staple food of the Tyneside community. Let’s persuade them they are wrong that there is no demand.

Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

You can read more and sign the petition here.

And to reassure yourself this is not (entirely) a hoax, you can study up on Tyneside cuisine in this Chronicle article.

(7) ZACHERLE OBIT. Horror movie TV host John Zacherle died October 27 at the age of 98 reports the New York Times.

[He] played a crypt-dwelling undertaker with a booming graveyard laugh on stations in Philadelphia and New York in the late 1950s and early ’60s…

In 1953 he began appearing as characters on “Action in the Afternoon,” a live western series shot in a vacant lot behind the studios of WCAU. “The idea was to get somebody in trouble on Monday, and either get him out of trouble, shoot him or hang him by Friday,” he told The Daily News in 1959.

One of his recurring characters was an undertaker named Grimy James, whose frock coat came in handy when the station bought a collection of 52 old horror films from Universal. The station manager, reviewing his new acquisition, decided that most of the films were so bad, he would have to build a show around them to add entertainment value.

Mr. Zacherle put on the frock coat and, in October 1957, went to work as the host of “The Shock Theater” (later simply “Shock Theater”), bringing with him an endless supply of sight gags and ad-lib patter.

A rabid fan base developed. When the station held an open house, expecting about 1,500 viewers to turn up, 13,000 stormed the studio to meet the Cool Ghoul, as Mr. Zacherle was known.

(8) CONVENTION IN A SYNAGOGUE. The first Jewish Comic Con takes place in Brooklyn on November 13.

All it took was a Shabbat dinner between the President of Congregation Kol Israel, Fred Polaniecki, and comic book creator Fabrice Sapolsky. Together, they outlined the Jewish Comic Con – a place to explore how Jewish identity has influenced comics both on the page and behind the scenes. Featuring panel discussions, artist tables, and lots of shmoozing,…

Now, Congregation Kol Israel is proud to organize the first ever Comic Con in a synagogue, our synagogue!

(9) PLAID AND PROUD. A kilt reference in yesterday’s Scroll prompted John King Tarpinian to remind me about the local Pasadena specialty store Off Kilter Kilts.

Southern California’s only multi-brand modern kilt store is celebrating its first anniversary on August 27, 2016.

Kilters from across the region will be converging on the store to mark the occasion with owner J.T. Centonze and the rest of the OKK crew. With more than 800 kilts sold in the first year, Off Kilter Kilts has a lot to celebrate.

Off Kilter Kilts has become a regular sight at local Renaissance Faires, Highland Games, and Celtic Festivals. They can also be seen around Pasadena hosting Kilts and Drinks nights at local restaurants.


(10) THE WINNER. Jonathan Maberry explains that the Canyon Crest Academy Writers Conference is the nation’s only absolutely free writers conference for teens. This year the conference inaugurated an award and named it after an author – him — the Jonathan Maberry Inspiring Teens Award. Then they turned around and made Maberry the first winner. Says  Maberry, “I’m insanely honored to be the recipient of an award that is named after me. Yeah…I know. That’s surreal.”

(11) HAM ON VINYL. Someone sent along a link to William Shatner Live, a 1977 spoken word album. With the assurance, “No, I’ve not listened to it.” I must confess I have honored that choice myself, beyond about the first 15 seconds of the YouTube recording listed below.

The Wikipedia article on the album includes the text of William Shatner’s explanation for doing this one-man show on stage.

If I were good, it would be the actor’s dream– but if it failed I would be alone. Alone up there with thousands of eyes peering at me — opera glasses raised for a closer look, and the unasked but heavily felt question “what’s he going to do?”

All this was going through my head as I learned the lines — all this was in front of my eyes as I lay down at night — and when the day came that I was to open at Texas A&M University I was filled with fear.

A very primitive fear — the fear of the actor. The nightmare that all actors have from time to time is appearing naked in front of an audience — not knowing the lines, not knowing the play — I was living the dream.

Thirty-five hundred people awaited me expectantly; the buzz of their voices reached me backstage, the lights dimmed, the M.C. announced my name and I walked out. The spotlight hit me like a physical force and I was on — oh muse, be with me know — I took a breath & started to speak…


[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jonathan Edelstein.]

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77 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/29/16 Best Pixel Scroll Title Ever

  1. (4) Every day is Cat Day on the intarwebs. This year’s Hugo proves it!

    That’s a good list. Master Ren is kind of awesome, with his quoting of the poets. All the nekomancers are awesome. You should be reading “Monstress”. There are a couple books there that may end up on Mount TBR.

    (5) Faaaaake (as the comments quickly tell them).

    (9) Our household attended a “Highlander” (TV show) con once, which meant the men wore kilts, the ladies tartan skirts, and everyone wore swords. We swaggered. It was a good time. The gents were NOT regimental. The Highlander himself chased his sidekick through the hucksters’ room with a replica sword, which was fun for all.

    (11) I think I heard some of this at a con, late at night. But my brain’s repression mechanism worked, so I’m not going to click.

  2. @Mike Glyer: Today’s Pixel Scroll title made me think of Karen Lord’s book, which of course leads to this title suggestion: The Best of All Possible Scrolls. 😉 With thanks and apologies to Karen Lord!

    (2) SOFT OPENING. Groovy. I like the wallpaper, though I don’t know if the photo at the top of the article is from the bar, or just some random picture of book-themed wallpaper.


  3. Apparently, Jeff Somers is one of those folk who believe YA doesn’t count as SF & Fantasy. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine how Ursula Le Guin’s Catwings wouldn’t have made the list.

  4. Dr. Who is the greatest science fiction television show ever. There’s never been a science fiction show like Dr. Who and never will be. No wonder it’s the longest running and one of the most popular science fiction shows in the history of television. 36 (?) seasons and counting.

    With his sharp mind, vast knowledge and experience, mind boggling technology, fearless sense of adventure, strong moral compass, and quick wit, he immediately sizes up a situation, explains everything to everyone, and takes appropriate action.

    Cosmic scale and logic defying science are standard operating procedure. Story arcs, subplots, and reoccurring characters are maximized. Banter is snappy and clever. Drama is wrenchingly personal. Cast members fling themselves into their roles. Nearly every scene is bursting with entertainment. Creative quality is consistent. Many episodes, particularly the two parters, are Hollywood level. Several episodes have won Hugo and Nebula awards and nominations.

    One aspect of Doctor Who I particularly like is the faceoffs between the Doctor and other characters. The people he opposes and often even the people he helps express stern disapproval of his actions and/or justification for their own actions – and they usually make a compelling case. Dr. Who is a hero with plenty of the right attributes, but he also has plenty of dark secrets, deep fears, and forceful critics.

  5. I can’t keep up with Jonathan Maberry. He’s involved in so many projects. And he’s a human keyboard. He cranked out a 3000 word indepth interview for me on a variety of topics in a couple of hours. He’s up there with Kevin Anderson and Mike Resnick when it comes to the word count.

  6. (2) … Quill & Quire previews the new Toronto Bar “Famous Last Words”. I suggested on another list that an alternative choice of literary washrooms might have been the Anita Loos and the Captain W.E. Johns.

  7. 5) may be fake, but the suggestion that this kills the Whovian vote for Clinton is not looking deep enough:

    at least Hillary could be enticed to watch it; she is also known to read books.

    In other words, with Clinton, there’s something to work with. Trump likely puts SF fans in the elite category – it wll be lots of fun discussing Dr. Who while living in Camp Concentration….

  8. steve davidson: a recent Washington Post story on him had this note on Trump: He has no time to read, he said: “I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.” Does that make functionally illiterate? I’d say so.

  9. This is not a drill people: the Dragon stirs…. And promptly falls asleep again (though apparently their latest tweet is celebrating National Cat Day, so the Ess Jay Dubya takeover has clearly begun)

  10. 5)
    This does tie in the fact that we really are going to miss Obama as Commander in Chief because (as per an earlier scroll discussion), he IS an SF fan like us.

    Coincidentally rewatched The Day of the Doctor (50th anniversary special) last night, just because I was in the mood to see John Hurt so deliciously lord it over Tennant and Smith. I know they originally had wanted Eccleston to come back, and in not getting that wound up with the whole War Doctor idea in the first place.

    I do wonder what Hillary does like. What’s her poison of choice for relaxation? We know it’s NOT Doctor Who…

  11. A number of the tor.com novellas, including some 2016 titles, are on sale for 99¢ today at some of the US etailers – I looked at Amazon and Kobo. I’m not going to try and embed myself in link-purgatory, but titles include:

    The Last Witness by K. J. Parker
    Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
    Sunset Mantle by Alter S. Reiss
    The Shootout Solution: Genrenauts Episode 1 by Michael R. Underwood
    Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

    The Emperor’s Railroad (The Dreaming Cities) by Guy Haley
    The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster
    Patchwerk by David Tallerman
    Pieces of Hate (The Assassins Series) by Tim Lebbon

    No idea how long this might last, etc. etc.

  12. (1) “…over time, and especially with the release of Francis Ford Coppola’s misleadingly titled 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Vlad’s story is now universally misunderstood as Stoker’s central source and impetus, and the novel itself as an overheated romance about Dracula’s quest over the centuries for the reincarnation of his long-lost love”

    I realize “universally” is probably intentional hyperbole here, and on the first point I don’t imagine there are a whole lot of casual Dracula fans who have any opinion at all about what the book’s “central source” was, but is the second point even remotely true? I mean, it’s certainly true that the Coppola movie added the romance/reincarnation thing, but has that been at all influential? I’m trying to think of other adaptations of/references to Dracula in the last 24 years that have included that plot point, and can’t. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part.

  13. (1) I’m also puzzled that the author, in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, seems to think “it was his masterwork because he spent seven years on it” is a silly myth whereas the much different reality is that (paraphrase) Stoker took seven years to write it because it was really hard for him to get everything right. Those seem to me like different ways of saying the same thing. But I do look forward to reading more of this book.

  14. @Lace

    Of those, I’d especially endorse Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter as one of the best from the line, and then Sunset Mantle by Alter S. Reiss and The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster as solid reads.

  15. If this has been mentioned, google failed me: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703752115/kickstarted-in-the-butt-a-chuck-tingle-digital-adv

    Zoe Quinn is making a game inspired by Chuck Tingle: Project Tingler [True Name Concealed Until Release to Protect From Dark Magics] is a brilliant blend of classic adventure games, dating sims, and the world of Amazon Kindle Sensation and Hugo Award Nominee Dr. Chuck Tingle (Space Raptor Butt Invasion; Slammed in the Butthole by My Concept of Linear Time; Pounded in the Butt by My Hugo Award Loss) from game developer Zoë Quinn (Depression Quest; Framed; Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk), to be released on computrons of the PC/Mac variety in early 2017.

  16. Also speaking of Tor novellas, I thought “The Jewel and her Lapidary” by Fran Wilde was a solid read. My socks remained firmly in place, but it was quite enjoyable.

  17. Thirdly speaking of Tor novellas, Victor Lavalle’s Ballad of Black Tom is excellent.
    Next up on my TBR pile is Cassandra Khaw’s Hammers on Bone.

  18. (1) I read the novel years ago and Stoker plainly found women seeking sex, within and outside marriage, very scary. The book is a fun, galloping read, of course.
    (5) what lukertype and Steve Davidson said …
    While we’re talking, have all the USians here voted? This election is too important for anyone to miss.

    SFianly speaking, I’m apparently years late and a lot of dollars short. After only 5 years, I’m finally reading Ben Aaronovitch’s rivers of London series and enjoying it hugely. Luckily the first 5 novels are available for less than $3 each on Amazon Kindle. Also something to do while I wait for the chance to read the new Becky Chambers and Genevieve Cogman novels, not to mention Aaronovitch no. 6!

  19. @Msb

    While we’re talking, have all the USians here voted? This election is too important for anyone to miss.

    Every state has its own voting rules, and not all allow early voting. Here in Washington State, all voting is by mail, so I voted a week ago, but in New York (I think) no one can vote until election day.

  20. @Lace: Of those, I loved “The Last Witness” and “Of Sorrow and Such”; “Domnall and the Borrowed Child” was very good. I’m listening to “The Drowning Eyes” right now and it’s good – not great, but good so far; the jury’s still out.

    One annoying thing about the audiobook for “The Drowning Eyes”: The narrator keeps pronouncing the main character’s name differently (the woman who books passage on the ship, alternately Sheena or Shaina or some other slight variation). I wonder if it’s spelled multiple ways in the book. I love Robin Miles as a narrator, but this is annoying the heck out of me.

    @Joe H.: I really hope they do an audio version of “A Taste of Honey” (with the same narrator as for the previous one). I keep waiting/hoping! I’m not sure when to give up.

    @Various: Let me again plug Tor.com Collection Season 2 on Audible.com (for that matter, Season 1 is also still there) . Season 2 has 10 novellas (including the 2016 ones Lace listed) for one Audible credit, which if you’re an Audible member, is pretty amazing. I forget the non-member price, but still it works out to a deal, IIRC. Season 1 is similar (maybe not quite as many novellas?). If you like audiobooks, these collections are a great deal! And good-to-exellent narrators.

  21. SF Reading: The more I got into Fellside by M.R. Carey, the more I got into it. I stayed up very late the last two nights finishing it. Very good! It was very dark and very grim, though. The other day, I said something like “unrepentantly grim” and, having finished it, I mostly stand by that. But even though I’m still not sure it’s my type of book (well, definitely not my usual type of book), I’m very glad I stayed with it. The ending brought a tear to my eyes; was that the late hour/lack of sleep, or was it Just That Good? I’m thinking Just That Good, but I’m interested in others’ reactions to it. But yeah, very dark and grim, and I mean more the real world stuff, not the SFF elements.

    BTW thanks to, I’m sorry, I forget who – the person the other day who commented on my partway-through thoughts on the book. 🙂 You were right. And like I said, I’m glad I stayed with it.

  22. @Msb: Here in Colorado the default is also vote by mail, so my wife and I voted a week ago – as always, I delivered our ballots to the County Clerk’s office rather than putting them in the post.

  23. @eli – the1973 tv movie of Dracula by Dan Curtis had Lucy as the reincarnation of Vlad/Dracula’s dead wife. Curtis created Dark Shadows, with vampire Barnabas Collins seeking his lost love. I always assumed that Curtis liked the Barnabus storyline and just grafted it onto Dracula.

  24. @Darrah Chavey @bbz
    Catwings was my first thought, too, followed Thomas-who-only-talks-to-his-boy-Tristan in Susan Dexter’s Ring of Allaire series (also YA).

  25. Naming a YA award after Jonathan Maberry? Hmm, let’s look at the criteria for the WSFS YA award-naming from yesterday’s Pixel Scroll: “We are looking for an award name that is especially evocative. We hope to capture the transformative, transportational, and captivating power of books for young adults.”

    Since no one seems to be supporting my suggestion of “The Optimus Prime Award” (what other YA SFF hero transforms into a semi in order to capture Decepticons?), I nominated Andre (Alice) Norton along with the Big OP. At the very least, she’s a better shapeshifting vehicle than Maberry.

  26. Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy: I nominated Andre (Alice) Norton along with the Big OP. At the very least, she’s a better shapeshifting vehicle than Maberry.

    SFWA already has the Andre Norton Award.

  27. @Jayn
    Earthsea has both transport (mostly by ship, but occasionally by dragon) and magical transformations of several sorts, and Ged is held captive, so it qualifies!

  28. 1) I liked the Coppola movie. I was young and goth and saw it repeatedly in the theater. I still have an enormous soft spot for it. (This should not be confused with any defense of its quality.)

  29. 4) I concur, this guy clearly doesn’t think YA counts. Diane Duane’s Cat Wizards series should have been a shoo-in.

    Also, Simba and Sahiba from Catseye by Andre Norton.

  30. Dr. Who is the greatest science fiction television show ever. There’s never been a science fiction show like Dr. Who and never will be.

    Meh. I watch Dr. Who. I like Dr. Who. But I have a hard time considering it science fiction. The only thing you need to do to make it into a fantasy series is to replace the screwdriver with a stick.

  31. @ Carl S.: I can’t stay in the same room with an episode of Old Who for more than about 5 minutes. I have managed to sit thru a few Tennant episodes, but they didn’t engage my interest enough to keep me coming back. Obviously there are a lot of people who love the show, and I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s not for me. Mileage varies and all that. (Also, Darren is right — it’s fantasy with an SF overlay.)

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