Pixel Scroll 10/30/17 Cast Your Scrolls upon the Pixels, And They Will Return Tenfold

(1) THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. Always a big part of my spirituality — the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar.

Open a door of this super-fun advent calendar each day in December to discover a LEGO® Star Wars themed minifigure, starship, vehicle or other collectible. There’s even a foldout playmat featuring images from Jakku, Starkiller Base and deep space for epic Star Wars encounters. This holiday gift is perfect for rebels, Sith Lords, Scavengers and any other life form, and includes 7 minifigures and a BB-8 figure.

  • Vehicles include The Ghost, The Phantom, Stormtrooper transport, Rey’s speeder, Millennium Falcon, Snowspeeder, Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle, Y-wing, TIE Striker, Hovertank, AT-ST, blaster cannon, snow blower and a sled with boosters!
  • Weapons include 3 blaster pistols and 2 blasters

(2) HANS DUO. He was in The Shootist. Now he’s the Reshootist. ScreenRant reports “Ron Howard Reshot ‘Nearly All’ Of Solo For ‘Twice The Budget’”.

During his time filming, Howard served as the damage control department by posting fun pictures from behind-the-scenes, offering his social media followers a small taste of what was going on. While these were successful in changing the conversation to the content of the film itself (rather than the drama surrounding it), some couldn’t help but realize Howard wasn’t simply finishing what Lord and Miller started. As filming went on for a while, it became apparent there was considerable retooling going on. Now, any issues about who will receive director credit are a thing of the past.

(3) CAT LOVER. From Unbound, Farah Mendlesohn on romance in Robert A. Heinlein — “Q&A with Julie Bozza”.

  1. How important were the romance subplots in Heinlein’s novels and stories?

In Heinlein’s Juveniles romantic subplots are notable mostly by their absence. If there is a lesson in them for smart girls and boys it’s that romance is to be avoided at all cost when you are young because it will restrict your ambitions. Heinlein of course had made this mistake himself with what we’d now call a “starter marriage” in the early 1930s, but in those days it was the only legitimate way for a nice boy to get sex. There is a hint of it in Starman Jones, but it doesn’t work out, in Between Planets the hero doesn’t notice he is being romanced, and in The Star Beast, both female protagonists have it all worked out, but the hero hasn’t noticed yet.

By the 1960s his boys approach girls with awe: Johnny Rico in Starship Troopers likes having women in charge of the space ships because it’s a reminder what he’s fighting for, but there is not a whisper of sex, which is one reason I suggest in the book that we really do need to see this one as a juvenile.

But from Stranger in a Strange Land onwards, it’s not that romance is a subplot so much as that one of the things Heinlein clearly wants to think seriously about is what love is. Stranger is all about how you love someone, how you love without jealousy, and how true love should be expansive, encompassing and generous. Glory Road is this magnificent medieval Romance, intensely performative and playful and a bit silly, but by the end separating the game of romance from the real thing. And of course the Lazarus Long sequence, particularly the tellingly titled Time Enough for Love, and the last novel, To Sail Beyond the Sunset are all about what love means and what we will do for love. But the true masterpiece of Heinlein’s romances is The Door Into Summer which for all the sub plot about Dan’s relationship with Ricky, is truly about a man and his love for his cat.

(4) TERRORWEEN. Yes, this is precisely what we groundlings are always looking for — “McEdifice Returns: Goosebumpy Halloween Special”.

Welcome boils and ghouls to this, your McEdifice Returns Halloween Special. I am your host Tyranny The Torturing Cat-O-Nine-Tails and this is my hideous assistance Straw ‘Wicker man’ Puppy.

We submit for your consideration the strange case of one Chiseled McEdifice. A lowly photocopy repairman or so he says. But what is this? His attempts to prevent paper supplies going missing has brought him to the SPOOKIEST part of any office building!

And there, amid the dust, and the spiders, and the rat-droppings and the incessant drip-drip-drip of leaking pipes, he discovered that all along, the paper was being stolen by…


Hmmm, you think that’s NOT scary?…

(5) BACK TO THE STARGATE. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak invites readers to “Watch the first behind-the-scenes glimpse for MGM’s digital-only Stargate prequel”.

At Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, the studio teased our first look at the upcoming show.

Stargate Origins will be a prequel to the original film and followup television franchise. This two-minute featurette shows off the first week of production, with a small tent city and offices for a young Catherine Langford (played by Ellie Gall).


(6) CHUCK TINGLE IN LA. A certain someone else was also at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, or as he calls it…

Since Chuck attended with his head in a bag, the mystery lingers on….

(7) PLAN AHEAD. Taos Toolbox (June 17-30) is a two-week Master Class in Science Fiction and Fantasy taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, with special guest George R.R. Martin, and special lecturers Carrie Vaughn and E.M. Tippets. Applications for the 2018 workshop will be accepted beginning December 1, 2017.

Taos Toolbox is a workshop designed to bring your science fiction and fantasy writing to the next level. If you’ve sold a few stories and then stalled out, or if you’ve been to Clarion or Odyssey and want to re-connect with the workshop community, this is the workshop for you!

Taos Toolbox has only been in existence for ten years, and already graduates have been nominated for eight Hugo awards.


(8) FICTION BROUGHT TO LIFE. Amazing Stories goes “Behind the Scenes with a Voice Actor” in an interview with Brad Wills.

  1. How do you determine what kind of voice to use for different characters? Do you impersonate different actors that you’ve seen? I’m really curious as to the process. Can you explain it?

Usually I’ll apply one of my stock voices to a character based on their personality traits. For instance in the character breakdown of An Unconventional Mr. Peadlebody, you had described Gerald as a bit of a prudish dandy, and a total failure as a vampire. So I used a more nasal, reedy, affected tone to portray those characteristics. It’s a voice I typically use for grousers and malcontents. So with an added bit of cheekiness and fey pomposity, it seemed to suit Gerald well. As for the character of Gainsworthy, yes I did pay a calculated tribute to a certain actor/director and a notorious character he once played. To tell people why would spoil the mystery of the book, though! I’ve also taken inspiration from numerous old character actors from Hollywood’s Golden Era. Turner Classic Movies has been invaluable.

(9) ROYAL MANTICORAN NAVAL MANUVER. Fans of the Honorverse will be interested to know about SphinxCon 2018. I’m a little curious whether David Gerrold fits into the theme somehow, or is simply a good idea as a GoH people want to see,

(10) CHECK YOUR CLOSETS. Definition remembers “20 Older Toys With Insane Value”. Note: This is a click-through article.

  1. Vinyl Caped Jawa

This version specifically will get you at least $5,000. When this version of Caped Jawa was released in 1978, its cape was made of vinyl, before Kenner Company felt the cape looked too cheap and changed the vinyl to cloth. The vinyl caped Jawa is incredibly rare, very valuable, and worth a minimum of $5,000.

(11) SOLON OBIT. SF Site News reports the death of longtime Chicago fan Ben Solon.

Chicago Fan Ben Solon (b.c.1950) died on October 26. In addition to attending Chicago area conventions, Solon published the fanzine Nyarlathotep.

(12) LUPPI OBIT. Federico Luppi, an Argentine actor who gained fame in the dark fantasy films of Guillermo del Toro, died October 20 at the age of 83. The New York Times obituary adds:

Mr. Luppi’s career, which began in the mid-1960s, included dozens of film and television roles, often in Argentine productions. Slim and stately with a shock of white hair, he endowed his characters with a sense of gravity.

One of those characters was Jesus Gris, the protagonist of the Mexican horror film “Cronos” (1993), Mr. del Toro’s directorial debut. In that film, which also starred Ron Perlman, Gris, an antiques dealer, finds a clockwork device that turns him into a vampire.

Mr. Luppi played the monstrous Gris with touches of weakness — at one point in the film he sinks to a bathroom floor to lap up a spot of blood.

Mr. Luppi appeared in two more of Mr. del Toro’s films, both set in Franco’s Spain. He was a leftist sympathizer who ran a haunted orphanage in “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001), and the monarch of a fairy kingdom in “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), which won three Academy Awards in 2007.

After Mr. Luppi’s death was reported, Mr. del Toro, writing in Spanish on Twitter, called him “Our Olivier, our Day Lewis, our genius, my dear friend.”


  • October 30, 1938 The War of the Worlds radio play scared a lot of people.

(14) LISTEN IN. Recordings of the play are available at the Internet Archive, including “War Of The Worlds 1938 Radio Broadcast with Orson Welles”.

The War of the Worlds is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938, and aired over theColumbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells‘s novel The War of the Worlds (1898).


(16) POTTERMANIA, The Washington Post’s Karla Adam says “London is going all butterbeer over 20th anniversary of Harry Potter”. Her survey of news about the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone includes a British Library exhibit and various fan activities that are taking place all over London.

Not that it takes much to motivate Potter enthusiasts. Last month, for instance, thousands of Muggles descended on Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station to mark the day that Harry Potter’s son Albus left for Hogwarts. For those truly potty about Potter, there is the “Making of Harry Potter” studio tour, next to the film studios where all eight films were made, which in the lead-up to Halloween is hosting feasts in the “Great Hall” with pumpkins and cauldrons full of lollipops.

(17) SOFTWARE. The New York Times Magazine tackles the question, “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?” After taking an ax to Benjamin Lee Whorf, the author moves into ancillary matters…

SINCE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that any language forbids its speakers to think anything, we must look in an entirely different direction to discover how our mother tongue really does shape our experience of the world. Some 50 years ago, the renowned linguist Roman Jakobson pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.

Consider this example. Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisine; Nachbar or Nachbarin. These languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is remotely your concern. This does not mean, of course, that English speakers are unable to understand the differences between evenings spent with male or female neighbors, but it does mean that they do not have to consider the sexes of neighbors, friends, teachers and a host of other persons each time they come up in a conversation, whereas speakers of some languages are obliged to do so.

(18) PLUTO’S REPLACEMENT. The Planetary Society’s vlog does a seasonal installment: “It Came From Planet 9 – The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo”.

Picardo is the Phantom of the Orbit in this terrifying episode of The Planetary Post. Enjoy a special guest visit from Dr. Konstantin Batygin, one of the members of the team which has theorized a big, ninth planet way out beyond Neptune.

Watch the extended interview footage here


(19) LEST YOU DISCOVER TOO MUCH. Camestros Felapton warns that spoilers abound in his “Review: Star Trek Discovery – Episode 7”.

Aaarrrrgghhhh what a frustrating show this thing is! It can get so much right and then fall flat on its face. Spoilers abound below the fold.

But that’s good for those of us who haven’t subscribed to CBS All Access yet.

(20) BEWARE MORE SPOILERS. Whereas Standback’s retrospective of the first several episodes is on Medium: “ST:Discovery, Five Weeks Deep: Burnham and Lorca”.

Alas. We deserve more. True story: for a brief 24 hours, I was really hoping “Lethe” would be the perfect name for an episode where due to [TECHNOBABBLE], everybody mysteriously forgets Burnham’s mutiny, and she suddenly needs to live amongst a crew who thinks she never did anything wrong. (Sorry, y’all, I don’t watch teasers 😛 ) It could have been glorious. Straight talk: I would x100 rather see Burnham try to go to a book club meeting, then pull off another Daring Impossible Foolhardy Mission. She’s got the chops; what she doesn’t have is the writing.

(21) KEEPING THE WOW IN BOW WOW. Save space on your Hugo ballot for this editor.

(22) ALT MONEY. Is comics such a rich field? Vox Day’s new right-wing comics series, Alt*Hero, intended to “wage cultural war on the social justice-converged comic duopoly of Marvel and DC Comics,” finished among the most lucrative crowdfunding campaigns ever.

Alt*Hero features unconventional villains such as Captain Europa of the Global Justice Initiative and controversial heroes such as Michael Martel, a vigilante who drops off criminal undocumented immigrants at the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, and Rebel, an Southern girl whose superhero outfit incorporates the Confederate battle flag.

Vox Day looked over Kickstarter’s records of Comics – Most Funded campaigns and determined:

There have been 10,552 comics-related campaigns. The #21 most-funded Anatomy of Melancholy: The Best of A Softer World came in at $251,062 with 3,923 backers. We will probably pass that up when all is said and done later today since backers are apparently still emailing and adding a few things on, but we come in right behind them at $245,825 at present. Probably won’t be enough to get to the $260,942 required to catch #20, though.

So, it’s definitely the 22nd most-funded of the 10,553 comics-related crowdfunding campaigns, which is not bad. Also, if you look at the other 21, you can see that all of them were established comics prior to the kickstarter. So, we are also the #1 most-funded new comics series.

(23) THE SILENCERS. Not genre, but too strange to ignore: “A weird solution for noodle slurpers in Japan”. A BBC video about a noise-canceling fork — and other strange utensils.

A Japanese noodle maker Nissin Foods is trying to reinvent the way we eat ramen by creating a noise cancelling fork that covers up slurping.

It’s the latest in string of bizarre cutlery inventions. Is it insanely clever or just insanity?

(24) SOUND ADVICE. And it’s also a good time of year to remind people about the availability of X Minus One radio episodes at the Internet Archive:

X Minus One aired on NBC from 24 April 55 until 9 January 58 for a total of 124 episodes with one pilot or audition story. There was a revival of the series in 1973 when radio was attempting to bring back radio drama and it lasted until 1975. The show occupied numerous time slots through out its run in the 50’s and thus was never able to generate a large following. X Minus One was an extension of Dimension X which aired on NBC from 1950-51. The first fifteen scripts used for X Minus One were scripts used in the airing of Dimension X; however, it soon found its own little niche. The stories for the show came from two of the most popular science fiction magazines at the time; Astounding and Galaxy. Adaptations of these stories were performed by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. They even wrote a few original stories of their own. The writers of the magazine stories were not well known then but now are the giants of today. These stories came from the minds of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Poul Anderson to name a few. This series has survived from its original airing in high quality to be enjoyed today.

(25) ASGARDIAN SNEAK PEEK. Two minutes from Thor: Ragnarok.

(26) PUMPKINS IN CHORUS. Here’s a Halloween light show sure to bring down the house.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]

48 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/30/17 Cast Your Scrolls upon the Pixels, And They Will Return Tenfold

  1. You are a disturbing man, Mr. Nicoll, and frankly, I’m shocked…to see we only have four FB friends in common. I expect more connection with the strange and disturbed. 😀

    (I definitely giggled at the post and its examples.)

  2. FYI, All Systems Red by Martha Wells has an audiobook now, FYI. The narrator is Kevin R. Free, who did a great job narrating “The Ballad of Black Tom” last year.

    I’m 4th or 5th or something. ETA: Ah, the support position – pre-5th!

  3. I feel like Murderbot is this year’s Godstalk.

    ETA: Frickin’ A! Actual fifth! Along with James and Xtifr, we’re a power chord!

    Or if you go James -> (next poster after me) -> Lis -> Me you get the chord progression for The Monster Mash!

    EATA: Not including the minors here because I’m not sure how to note them.

  4. kathodus: I feel like Murderbot is this year’s Godstalk.

    It seems to be the runaway Best Novella contender among Filers this year; I’ve already collected 19 raves for it in my Novellapalooza post.

    The next most popular are And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker and Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire, with 6 raves each.

  5. Teddy is as usual comparing apples and alligators, since as far as I can tell his project isn’t on Kickstarter.

  6. NickPheas: I’m not any fonder of Beale or his comics than you, but this “freestartr” site seems less popular than Kickstarter; I don’t really see how that counts against him.

  7. @Standback: haven’t read Amatka, but did recently read Tidbeck’s short story collection Jaganath, and was impressed. (My overall impression was “deconstructed fairytales like Ursula Vernon’s, but with a strong Scandinavian influence, and with all the warm feel-good stuff drained out and replaced with delicious ice-cold hemlock.” YMMV.)

  8. 12) Federico Luppi has at least one other genre credit: THE STONE RAFT (2003), based on the Jose Saramago novel wherein the Iberian peninsula breaks away from Europe and heads out to sea. It’s a “quiet” movie (I called it “a pastoral catastrophe” when I reviewed it a few years ago), with little in the way of dramatic scenery-chewing by any of the actors, but Luppi has a charisma and gravitas that dominates the screen whenever he’s on.

  9. Has anybody read Amatka, by Karin Tidbeck?

    Yes. I really, really liked it. I’d currently put it in my top ~6 SFF novels for this year (along with The Power, Miranda and Caliban, City of Miracles, The Ruin of Angels, and The Stone Sky).

    Bearing in mind, of course, that there are some promising-sounding titles I haven’t gotten to yet (e.g. Creatures of Will and Temper, Oathbringer, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Spoonbenders, Proof of Concept, Winter Tide, Dragon’s Green, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Borne, Journey Across the Hidden Islands, Strange the Dreamer, Martians Abroad, Tell the Wind and Fire, An Unkindness of Magicians, A Man of Shadows, Meddling Kids, The Fall of the Readers …)

  10. (5) Very excited! I’m a big fan of the franchise, even when it’s awful.

    (10) I have #8, had #12 but my nieces and nephews took it and trashed it a few years back, ditto #13, #19, and #20 (still have the Jawa, but they destroyed the cape).

  11. @3: Speaking of Stranger as being about love is interesting, considering that it still has reactionary attitude toward homosexuality (Mike, looking androgynous, gets offers from both sexes but senses a “basic wrongness” in the ones from males). I wonder what changed RAH’s attitude; I have trouble imagining him simply following a trend — did he change himself or was he self-censoring–to–market in earlier works?

    @17: the gendering info is interesting, but there is so much conditioning wrt gender in many cultures that it’s not surprising (although I’d love to see those results cross-analyzed by age, or how they come out a generation in the future). But the geographic-directional cultures suggest a fascinating learned ability (albeit with at least one limitation the story points out); I wonder how someone from such a culture would handle the additional ~directions and lack of geographic points if they were in the ISS?

    @26: I’ve become resigned to monstrous Xmas decorations — there was one on the way home that required serious extra power — but when did they become a Thing for Halloween?

  12. Alt$Hero strikes me as an interesting but tricky gamble from Teddo. To get the campaign to a quarter of a million, he’s added an increasingly large number of volumes for the main series, plus novels, maps, the Chuck spinoff, and perhaps other stuff I haven’t bothered to check. Existing backers then pay even more to add on the new product to their package, so he can raise more money for another stretch goal which backers have to pay even more for, and so on.

    That means a lot of his backers are invested in a really long stretch of franchise development, giving an equally long window for things to go wrong – possible non-delivery is the most obvious but it’s also nigh certain that the cracks in the political agenda are going to start showing the moment this moves from “LOL here are pictures to piss off the essjaydubs” to an actual thing with content and storyline. The focus on advertising with female characters already seems to have created tension between those who love that they are getting the dubious anatomied scantily clad ladies which all other comic books apparently denied them, and dissenting voices complaining that these don’t respect “modest family values” and the “inherent capabilities of women” etc.

    With Infogalactic demonstrating how much power that crew actually have to challenge mainstream cultural institutions, this therefore seems to be a product with the usual poor prospects of moving beyond the altie/pup echo chamber and a high risk of actively angering or alienating sections of his base in the long term.

    What I’m saying here is, a fascinating new “season” of intra-group kerfuffle might be incoming for anyone who embarrassingly derives some entertainment from watching that sort of thing. I miiiiight have some popcorn stashed in the cupboard just in case…

  13. Five hundred years ago today, Martin Luther nailed 95 pixels onto the church scroll.

  14. @Standback: Has anybody read Amatka, by Karin Tidbeck?

    Yes, I loved it. Tidbeck pulls off the difficult balancing act of taking the novel in an increasingly surrealistic direction without ever slipping into nonsense.

  15. @Steve @Kyra @Phil: Very neat 🙂

    I’m sure the best lies ahead, but the sense that the entire world is dissolving underneath Vanja’s feet, in one way or another, is really powerful, and the SF-nal conceit is just delightful.

  16. Meredith Moment:

    The Starlit Woods, Parisien and Wolfe (eds), is on sale for $1.99 in the US at Amazon.

    In 3513, Hallowe’en celebrates you.

  17. @Chip Hitchcock

    3) that line was from Gillian’s POV. She thought Mike sensed wrongness and overlooked that Jubal told Mike to only kiss girls. Do note that later in the nest, Ben nearly ends up in a three-way involving Mike but instead runs out the door.

  18. @Chip Hitchcock

    @17: the gendering info is interesting, but there is so much conditioning wrt gender in many cultures that it’s not surprising

    The general thinking in linguistics today is that semantic content exists even when the language doesn’t express it in syntax. So in English when you say “I had lunch with the neighbor” even though “the neighbor” doesn’t have gender expressed in the syntax, the listener still gives it a gender, assigned to “I don’t know yet.”

    Languages make extensive use of “I don’t know yet” in other areas. E.g. “When she won the election, April was surprised.” We cope just fine with the idea that “she” refers to a particular person, even though that person doesn’t get mentioned until later in the sentence.

    Likewise, Japanese doesn’t have a syntactic future tense, but any expression is easily disambiguated sematically within a sentence or two. The basic dictionary form isn’t really present tense; it’s present/future, to be resolved later. More spectacularly, Japanese nouns don’t have number. The word “hon” isn’t “book”; it’s “book or books, to be determined later.”

    This is why I believe I (and others) have trouble accepting “they” as a singular pronoun for non-binary people. The usual singular use of “they” takes an “I don’t know yet” but the non-binary use takes a concrete value. E.g. “Someone was outside the house. They knocked over the trash can” (“they” could be he or she) vs. “When Alice won the election, they were surprised” (“they” means non-binary). No matter how much text I read with this “non-binary they,” it always strips my mental gears, making reading painful.

  19. @Standback

    I’ve read Amatka too. Definitely one of the most atmospheric books I’ve read this year. I love how stark it is. I found over the months since that it has haunted me. Hope you enjoy to the end.

    I second the recommendation for Jagannath too.

  20. The thing with Alt$Hero is he probably has no intention of producing a product and his backers probably don’t care if they receive one.

  21. (21) The badass copyeditor is Deanna Hoak. I wish I’d mentioned her name in that tweet instead of in a subsequent one, because it’s gotten a bit of traction, and Deanna deserves all the notice and credit in the world. She’s awesome.

  22. (21) Ha! That is some attention to detail!

    @Greg Hullender

    This is why I believe I (and others) have trouble accepting “they” as a singular pronoun for non-binary people. The usual singular use of “they” takes an “I don’t know yet” but the non-binary use takes a concrete value. E.g. “Someone was outside the house. They knocked over the trash can” (“they” could be he or she) vs. “When Alice won the election, they were surprised” (“they” means non-binary). No matter how much text I read with this “non-binary they,” it always strips my mental gears, making reading painful.

    I read the singular they by default as “I don’t know yet,” but just “I don’t know” if it seems to be used in the context of non-binary gender. I may be misunderstanding your trouble with it, but for me it’s made a person’s gender less prominent. This is also happening in real life as I meet more people who are not necessarily interested in passing as any particular gender. My brain just slots anyone whose gender isn’t apparent into a neutral “they area” until/unless I’m told otherwise. Or at least, that’s what I try to do.

  23. @Standback: And to echo Steve Wright and SamJ, Tidbeck’s story collection Jagannath is also excellent.

  24. Greg Hullender on October 31, 2017 at 9:18 am said:

    This is why I believe I (and others) have trouble accepting “they” as a singular pronoun for non-binary people. The usual singular use of “they” takes an “I don’t know yet” but the non-binary use takes a concrete value. E.g. “Someone was outside the house. They knocked over the trash can” (“they” could be he or she) vs. “When Alice won the election, they were surprised” (“they” means non-binary). No matter how much text I read with this “non-binary they,” it always strips my mental gears, making reading painful.

    By “usual use” I think you mean “old-fashioned use”. The new use (and I freely admit it’s new) has managed to become widespread enough that it seems a bit of a stretch to call it “unusual” any more.

    That said, I agree that it’s something that older folks (like me) are likely to struggle with. I certainly found it disconcerting at first. And the rapidity of its spread is definitely startling.

    Now I’m a bit of a neophile, and an enthusiast about linguistics, so this opportunity to see language-change in action pleases me, and I’ve made an effort to adapt and get used to the new usage. I realize that many of my fellow old folks are more likely to be sticks-in-the-mud, but this is a change that the language has long needed. Complaints about the lack of a genderless singular pronoun in English have been common since I was a kid. So, unlike a lot of language changes, this one is filling a very real major need. Which, I think, is part of the reason it’s happening so quickly.

    In forty years (and maybe sooner), I expect that people who find the usage odd will be rarer than people who find the concept of taking pictures with a phone to be odd are today.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: it works, it’s useful, and it’s looking pretty inevitable. It’s probably time to get over it and try to adapt. It’s really not that hard, since it’s a familiar word, and not too distant from traditional uses. If you’re not actively fighting it, I think you’ll find the transition pretty easy. I certainly have. (Even if I still occasionally have to stop and think about it.)

  25. Sigh. Amatka doesn’t have a UK ebook release. Neither does Six Wakes.


    I’m tempted. I really like minifigures.

    And it’s a lot cheaper than the Diptyque advent calendar I’ve been sighing over (£300, so I definitely can’t afford it). Perfume nerdery is challenging when you’re poor.

    (2) HANS DUO

    Given the murmurings about the original shoot I did wonder how much they’d be able to reuse. Not much, I guess!


    I got around to watching the original film recently and Catherine Langford was very much my favourite character. I hope this ends up being good.


    Now that’s a really thorough job. 🙂



  26. The use of “they” as a singular has a long history. I’ve used “they” as a singular for decades. It’s perfectly acceptable, it’s appropriate and courteous to use as a singular if an individual prefers its use over other choices and if someone says it isn’t proper to do so as a point of grammar, they are talking out of their hat.


    In 7745, “they” as singular is still in use.

  27. Yes, but as Greg was trying to explain, there’s a notable difference between:

    1. “A student must present their id to enter” and
    2. “Susan carried their id in their bra.”

    The first, with Greg’s unknowns, is the traditional form of singular “they”, and has been unremarkable for centuries (though a few misguided souls have peeved about it).

    The second, using singular “they” for a known person of known gender, is the new form, and it’s one many older folks find jarring–even people who think the first example is perfectly fine.

    I still find the second example a bit jarring, and I love it and embrace it. But not everyone is as sanguine about being jarred as I am. 🙂

  28. #11: I remember Ben Solon fondly. His fanzine Nyarlehotep was excellent. I thought I had a photo of him here but, looking through my vast “S” folder, don’t see it. He certainly deserves a better obituary.

    I really must do something more about organizing my photo files (which currently take up a large legal-size file cabinet) better. Then there’s the banker’s box of unsorted photos…not to mention all the photos Forry sent me that I still haven’t scanned in yet.

    I see you’re continuing to use all those news items I send to you. I’m astonished by the realization that I’ve been doing news stuff since 1960 or 61. Frankly, the oldest stuff is becoming shrouded in my brain pan.

  29. The discussion of “they” brings up a question I had about Provenance after I’d gulped the book and had a bit of time to wonder. In the Ancillary trilogy, the focal character couldn’t identify gender and so used feminine forms for everyone (IIRC…). In the new work, ISTM that the focal character (at least) has no problem identifying males, females, and a 3rd (neuter?) gender, without asking even newly-met people what pronouns they prefer. Am I missing something (e.g., that in that world all 3 genders are always identifiable, unlike ours), or did Leckie just ignore the issue (e.g., for the sake of making the rest of the story keep moving)?

  30. Chip Hitchcock on November 1, 2017 at 8:54 pm said:

    Provenance isn’t set in the Radch empire. Or at least, the people in it are mostly not Radch, and don’t use that language, so they have pronouns all over the place.

  31. I suppose Leckie’s point was to emulate the way we see people and identify their presented gender without thinking about it. “I knew it was a he because of the tie and tweed trousers” would be a weird thing for any of us to think about in a non-genre novel, so it would have been out of place for Provenance’s protagonist to say, “I knew X was they because of the bell bottoms and boutonniere on the plaid frock coat” or whatever.

  32. @P J Evans: I was questioning not the language itself but the fact that everybody knows how to use it correctly all the time (at least in this aspect). AFAICT, the Radch empire has gendered pronouns; it was only the one character that couldn’t identify others’ genders at all.

    @jayn: I suppose smoothing-out-the-prose is plausible — but I was less interested in how gender was identified than that nobody ever had to ask “which pronouns do you use?” even with three recognized genders (that we know of from this one story). I suppose that’s a bit much to ask of something based on a caper.

  33. @Chip:

    AFAICT, the Radch empire has gendered pronouns; it was only the one character that couldn’t identify others’ genders at all.

    As I recall, the Radch language did not have gendered pronouns – it had one pronoun that translated to “she”; thus in non-Radch cultures (especially in the culture in which people were wearing heavy winter clothing) our protagonist was facing both the problem of figuring out which gender particular people were, and the challenge of remembering to go to the trouble of assigning a specific gender in sentences that in her native tongue would not have required her to do so.

  34. I think there’s a passage where Breq mentions that the (non-Radch) people she is living among always know people’s genders, even though she can’t work out how they do it. I guess it’s something to do with the way people hold themselves. or the like.

  35. @Andrew M:

    I think there’s a passage where Breq mentions that the (non-Radch) people she is living among always know people’s genders, even though she can’t work out how they do it. I guess it’s something to do with the way people hold themselves. or the like.

    Or perhaps with clothing, makeup or jewelry codes that Breq hasn’t learned.

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