Pixel Scroll 11/18/17 It’s Beginning To Scroll A Lot Like Pixelmas

(1) THE PHENOMENA BEHIND LEGENDS. Kim Huett has added two new posts to Doctor Strangemind.

The first is about the Orson Welles War of the Worlds radio transmission: “The Great Radio Hoax”.

As appealing as I find the idea of Wells’ story taking in so many thousands of people who had been looking down their noses at science fiction I can’t bring myself to believe it. The prosaic alternative, that the supposed mass panic was in reality a beat-up by a newspaper industry hoping to scare advertisers away from radio back to print by labelling the former ‘irresponsible and untrustworthy’, seems far more likely to me. (Not surprisingly while CBS was keen to refute such newspaper claims Orson Wells was happy to play along in return for the massive amount of personal publicity it gave him.)

Now as it happens I recently discovered a small piece of evidence to back up my preferred assumption. In the March 1942 issue of Leprechaun is an article by Gerry de la Ree all about this incident. This is the Gerry de la Ree who later went on to publish books such as The Book of Virgil Finlay, A Hannes Bok Sketchbook, and Fantasy by Fabian: The Art of Stephen E. Fabian by the way. In his article de la Ree repeats most of the claims that appeared in the papers; injured people were admitted to hospital in New York, Minneapolis switchboards were inundated by calls, hundreds were fleeing by car in New Jersey. However amongst all this second-hand reporting Gerry de la Ree describes his own encounter with The Mercury Theater’s Halloween production. I suspect this hits closer to the mark than any of the newspaper hysteria.

The second is about the Flying Dutchman and sheep: “Far Beneath, the Abysmal Sea”.

The first reference in print to the ship appeared in 1795, when George Barrington mentioned the matter in his book, Voyage to Botany Bay. According to Barrington sailors had told him of a story about a Dutch ship that was lost at sea during a horrendous storm. This it was claimed was due to Captain Bernard Fokke for he was known for the speed on his trips from Holland to Java. The story went that Fokke was aided by the Devil and that he and his crew eventually paid the price for dealing with Old Nick and so were consequently doomed to sail the seas forever more despite their demise. Sighting the Flying Dutchman was said to be very bad luck.

Now what strikes me most about all this is how late in the piece this legend comes. The general agreement seems to be that the Flying Dutchman legend originated in the eighteenth century and that my friends is passing strange. If the Flying Dutchman obeys the principle of reality conservation in fiction then what changed to make such a story suddenly possible? Clearly some new phenomena was needed because mysteriously abandoned boats drifting with the currents is a scene as old as sailing itself. If it was simply a matter of sailors wanting to explain boats apparently travelling by themselves then I can’t imagine they would wait till the eighteenth century to invent the Flying Dutchman story.

Huett also says he’s working on a revised edition of his John Brosnan collection You Only Live Once for Dave Langford to add to the ebook page of TAFF freebies.

(2) JOT AND TITTLE. You’ve heard of the Oxford comma. Now there’s the Straczynski period.

(3) LOVE AMONG THE RAYGUNS. SyFy Wire names “The 26 greatest romances in science fiction’s last two decades”.

07 Amelia Pond and Rory Williams, Doctor Who

The Ponds are two of The Doctor’s most beloved companions. Amy (Karen Gillan) is best remembered for her eagerness to see every inch of every universe but her most compelling story arcs always foregrounded her relationship with Rory (Arthur Darvill). For example, when a trickster time lord traps the three time travellers in two potential realities and asks them to determine which is real lest they die, it’s up to Amy to sort them out. But she doesn’t rely on logic to guide them, she uses her heart; when Rory dies in one timeline Amy decides that it must be the fake one because for her no world without Rory could be real.

(4) JOHN GARTH AT OXFORD. The author of Tolkien and the Great War will speak this coming week at Oxford.

I have exciting things to reveal about Tolkien’s extraordinary Creation myth in a talk to the Oxford Tolkien Society (Taruithorn) in Lecture Room 2, Christ Church, Oxford, at 8pm next Thursday, 23 November. Non-members £2.

(5) MARVEL’S WORST PARENTS. Could it be the criminal Pride, or a negligent Hero? Find out in Marvel’s Top 10 Bad Parents!

(6) CROWDSOURCED HELP PAYS OFF. Last April the Scroll gave a signal boost for to a GoFundMe for a young writer’s medical expenses. Nick Tchan has sent along a good news update about Lachlan:

Scans and meeting with surgeon and oncologist today.

Lachlan is officially cancer-free!

Thank you for initially posting the GoFundMe link to File770.

Tchan wrote about the appeal in April:

“The 17-year-old son of a woman in my writing group has been diagnosed with an osteosarcoma in his right shoulder,” writes Nick Tchan, a Writers of the Future winner and Aurealis nominated author. “It’s an aggressive and rare form of bone cancer. At the very least, he’s going to have an extensive regime of chemotheraphy and a bone replaced in his right arm.

“Both he and his single mother are keen speculative fiction fans and writers. I’m putting together a GoFundMe to help pay for the time she’ll have to take off work as well as the other costs that tend to accumulate. Any funds left over from cost-of-living and treatment expenses I’m hoping to put towards something like Dragon Dictate so that he can write even if they have to amputate his arm.”

(7) HOME SAVED. And the GoFundMe to Help Mike Donahue keep his home has succeeded.

I’m overwhelmed. Thank you all. In just two days! I’m writing individual thank you cards to everyone but I want to post today that you have filled me with a tremendous sense of hope. If all the money comes in, this, along with what I have saved, will reinstate my mortgage. I’ve arranged for my attorney to talk with Ditech and verify the demand letter and make sure it will all work properly.

(8) FRIES WITH THAT. Nicola Griffith hunts for sff that passes “The Fries Test for disabled characters in fiction”:

…Most readers will be familiar with the Bechdel Test. Today I want to talk about the Fries Test for fiction:

Does a work have more than one disabled character? Do the disabled characters have their own narrative purpose other than the education and profit of a nondisabled character? Is the character’s disability not eradicated either by curing or killing?

…There are more novels in which the main character is disabled and isn’t cured or killed, such as the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but those characters are alone in their disability.6 Novels in which crips talk to each other? Novels in which we talk to each other about something other than wanting to be cured, or how to get cured, or why we want to die because we can’t be cured? Novels in which we don’t die? I’m drawing a blank.

Think about that. I read a lot. I can only think of four novels for adults with two or more crip characters who talk to each other and who are not killed or cured. It’s true that until recently I might not have noticed whether or not characters were disabled but, still, five.7 FIVE.

Surely I’m missing some. Please tell me I’m missing some…

(9) BREW MATCHMAKER. Charles Payseur’s latest short fiction reviews on Nerds of a Feather: “THE MONTHLY ROUND – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 10/2017”.

“Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny)

Tasting Notes: A surprising tang gives this a punch of sweetness that almost overpowers with its joy, settled only by the complexity of its profile and the lingering smiles it leaves in its wake.

Pairs with: Peach Hard Cider

Review: Computron has a fairly ordinary job…for the only sentient AI in existence. He teaches kids about robots and artificial intelligence, something that he’s rather singularly qualified to do. Only it really doesn’t seem like people consider him the marvel that he is, judging him on the retro-futurist aesthetic he has, imagining he’s outdated despite his uniqueness, despite the fact that he’s sentient. It’s not until he finds a show that features a character much like himself, an older-style robot named Cyro, that he begins to understand just how much he was yearning to see himself represented in media, to interact with other people who won’t think he’s strange because of the way he looks. Enter fandom. I love how this story explores the ways that fan spaces allow people to explore and celebrate themselves. No, fandom isn’t perfect, and Computron does have to deal with aspects of that, but at the same time it gives him this new purpose, this new feeling of belonging. Where he doesn’t have to fit all he has to say into a tiny window inside a larger presentation on robotics. Where he can really get into something and be appreciated for it and make connections through it and shatter the isolation that had dominated his life. It’s a story about being a fan, and how fun and freeing that can be. The story revels in Computron’s journey into fandom, writing fic and offering feedback and just being an all around pleasant person. And it’s a joyous story to experience, clever and cute and playing with the tropes of how AI mirror humans, but how they are distinct as well, and valuable in how they are different, able to contribute in ways that are surprising and wonderful.

(10) MORE ON DIAN CRAYNE. The death of Dian Crayne received a write-up in her local paper, the Willits Weekly. Most of the text is unblushingly copied from the File 770 obit (!) but there are some interesting added details. Click here for the PDF edition.


  • November 18, 1990 — The television version of IT premiered with Tim Curry.


  • John King Tarpinian learned something unexpected about the afterlife in Close to Home.

(13) DISSATISFIED BABYLONIAN CUSTOMERS. “Garbageboy Stinkman” tells us about the evidence for one of history’s least reputable businessmen in cuneiform clay tablets.

The majority of the surviving correspondences regarding Ea-nasir were recovered from one particular room in a building that is believed to have been Ea-nasir’s own house.

Like, these are clay tablets. They’re bulky, fragile, and difficult to store. They typically weren’t kept long-term unless they contained financial records or other vital information (which is why we have huge reams of financial data about ancient Babylon in spite of how little we know about the actual culture: most of the surviving tablets are commercial inventories, bills of sale, etc.).

But this guy, this Ea-nasir, he kept all of his angry letters – hundreds of them – and meticulously filed and preserved them in a dedicated room in his house. What kind of guy does that?

(14) LEAPIN’ DRAGONS. John F. Holmes thinks the latest category changes mean the Dragon Awards have turned their backs on indie authors.

And the Dragon Awards jump the shark.

I’m fine with a new award, (even though I think the category is kinda bulls*t) but why the BLEEP do you drop Post-apocalypse awards?

“Best Media Tie-In Novel” is a huge slap in the face of indie authors. You have to be a big time writer to get permission to write for a brand, like Star Wars or Halo. And, to be honest, a lot of those novels kinda SUCK, though many are great. I’m thinking about the first new Star Wars novel, which was horrible.

Holmes is the first I’ve seen put that interpretation on it.

(15) UNDERSTANDING TOLKIEN RIGHTS. Kalimac analyzes why it’s probably accurate that the Tolkien Estate controlled the TV rights involved in the new Amazon deal.

…The most curious question is, what authorized entity is responsible for conveying the rights to do this? News articles in the past have often confused the Tolkien Estate – the family-controlled entity that owns Tolkien’s writings – with Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly Tolkien Enterprises), the company which owns the movie and associated marketing rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and which licensed them to New Line to produce the Jackson movies.

They’re not associated. Tolkien sold the movie rights outright in 1969, and they eventually wound up in the hands of the late Saul Zaentz, who was the producer of the 1978 Bakshi movie and the creator of the firm that now owns those rights. It’s this firm which is responsible for most of the trademark defense that’s hit the news over the years, but it’s the Estate that sued New Line for shafting it on royalties owed.

Since the Estate has no control over the LotR movie rights, its opinion on the topic is moot, though Christopher Tolkien, head of the family and his father’s literary executor, has expressed his distaste for them. Because of this, and because of the historical confusion between the entities, the assumption was that the new project came from Middle-earth Enterprises, despite news references to the Estate.

But that apparently is wrong, and it has to do with the fact that the new series will be television, not movies, and will be inspired by other writings by Tolkien. Middle-earth Enterprises does not own rights to either of these aspects; the Estate retains that.

This article on a Tolkien bulletin board is the fullest I’ve seen, and looks the most reliable to my eye. It cites scholar Kristin Thompson on this. Despite Thompson’s lack of comprehension of criticisms of the Jackson movies, I’ve found her well-versed on the facts of the history of the movie rights, so if she says this, I accept it.

That means, in turn, that the Estate did authorize this…

(16) FAILURES OF JUSTICE. Ethan Alter, in a Yahoo! article “Justice League before ‘Justice League’: Revisiting 4 less-than-super attempts to unite the DC heroes”, profiles four failed efforts to film the Justice League, Including “Legend of the Superheroes,” a late-1970s effort which would have been Adam West’s comeback as Batman had it been greenlit, and Justice League Mortal, a project of Mad Max director George Miller that was killed by the 2007 writers’ strike.

So far, early reviews are mixed, with some (including Yahoo Entertainment) suggesting that Justice League doesn’t live up to the high standards set by this summer’s blockbuster Wonder Woman. Nevertheless, these versions of the characters look positively super compared with the non-animated incarnations of the Justice League we’ve seen in the past. For Flashback (or, should we say, Flash-back?) Friday, we’re revisiting three less-than-super TV versions of DC’s all-star super team, as well as one film project that never came to fruition.

(17) IN THE BEAT OF THE NIGHT. The Washington Post’s Robert O’Harrow Jr, in “Law clerk by day, ghost hunter by night, now Trump’s judiciary nominee”, profiled Brett Joseph Talley, whose previous appearance in the Post was in 2014 when, as a speechwriter for Sen. Ron Johnson, he took a Post reporter ghosthunting.  O’Harrow quotes an interview done by the Unlocked Diary website with Talley where the interviewer said Talley’s Stoker-nominated novel That Which Should Not Be has “awesomestatic gooeyness coming frome very page to where you will be licking it off your fingers and savoring it for days to come.”

In 2012, Talley and Higdon co-authored “Haunted Tuscaloosa,” a short book of stories about ghostly doings in Alabama. At the time, Talley was working as a speechwriter for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Higdon said Talley wrote the book using Higdon’s recollections and ideas. In the introduction, Talley raises questions about the line between personal experience and verifiable fact.

“In this book, there are children who died too early, professors who never left the classroom and even the spirit of a collie that still serves its master, long after his death,” Talley wrote in the introduction.

“Some will criticize these stories, saying they are not real history,” he wrote. “But that raises a question. What is real history? Sure, we know the dates and the major players, but the color, the heart of the matter — that we see through eyewitnesses.”

(18) BACK TO BILLY JOEL. He’d like to restart the fire.

(19) FLASH IN THE PAN. An “observation camera” captured short video with spectacular end: “Meteor streaks across Arizona sky”.

The city of Phoenix captured a meteor on one of its observation cameras as the bright light flashed across the skyline.

(20) FRANCLY SPEAKING. Not quite Da Vinci (but ~genre): “Rare Tintin art fetches $500,000 at Paris auction”.

A rare India ink drawing of young reporter Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy has been sold for almost $500,000 (£380,000) at auction in Paris.

The picture from the 1939 comic album King Ottokar’s Sceptre was among items by Hergé, the Belgian artist who created Tintin, to go under the hammer.

An original strip from the book The Shooting Star fetched $350,000.

But a copy of Tintin adventure Destination Moon, signed by US astronauts, failed to find a buyer.

(21) SJW CREDENTIALS OF THE DESERT. Nerdist convinces you to click, and click again, in “Impossibly Adorable Sand Cat Kittens Caught on Film for the First Time”. Who can resist?

You might think you’ve seen all the cat videos on the internet, but here’s one you haven’t: the first known footage of sand cat kittens in the wild. It takes a lot to make us squee nowadays but wow — LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE FACES.

In case you aren’t familiar with them, sand cats (Felis margarita) are an adorable species of impossibly tiny cats that are perfectly adapted to live in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. They have a light brown/tan fur that blends in with sand and brush, and their extra-furry paws protect the sand cats from hot sand (and barely leave a trace of where they’ve been). Those oversized ears are not just super cute; they also give the sand cat exceptional hearing for tracking down its prey, typically small rodents, birds, or lizards.

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

81 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/18/17 It’s Beginning To Scroll A Lot Like Pixelmas

  1. @Peer: Some possibilities.

    Lloyd Alexander’s Taran books, starts with “The Book of Three”. My then eight-year-old daughter loved it when I read then aloud to her, I read them myself when circa 11-13 – they have stood the test of time very well.

    Pat Wrede’s “The Enchanted Forest” series, starts with “Dealing with Dragons”.

    Diana Wynne Jones and Diane Duane have both written excellent YA fantasies.

    ETA: Most suggestions ninja’d 🙂

  2. A book I loved as a child (and still do) is The Wicked Enchantment, by Margot Benary-Isbert, translated from German. I’m not sure of the German title. I think it was first published in 1955?

  3. @Peer: It looks like at least some of Rick Riordan’s books have been translated into German. My other half loved Harry Potter (as did I), and he enjoys Riordan’s books; I’m not much. of a “YA” or “middle grade” reader, so I haven’t read them. So I can’t say if they’re right for a 12-year-old or not, not having read them myself, but I see a reference to them as middle grade and as YA, so . . . maybe just right for a 12-year-old?!

    My other half’s read & would recommend the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, the “Heroes of Olympus” series, and (based on just finishing the first one) the “Trials of Apollo” series; all three are, er, loosely based on Greek mythology, methinks. We have the first “Magnus Chase” book (Norse mythology), but he hasn’t gotten to it yet. We don’t own the “Kane Chronicles” (Egyptian mythology). I’m not sure which ones are in German.

  4. @Hampus Eckerman: OH GOD YES, the “Dark is Rising” series! I hope that’s in German.

    Hmm, in Spanish it’s titled “Los seis signos de la luz,” which amuses me as it shifts the focus – “The Six Signs of the Light” instead of “The Dark Is Rising.”

  5. P.S. To clarify: I haven’t actually asked my other half whether he’d rec the books for a 12-year-old. I just figure, he likes them, so he would rec them in general. 😉

    (16) FAILURES OF JUSTICE. We just saw “Justice League” today and IMHO it was good! I’d lowered my expectations based on hearing about the mixed reviews, but all three of us enjoyed it (me, other half, & good friend who’s not an SF or superhero person). I frequently disagree with reviewers, so I think I’ll just look back on the movie with enjoyment and not bother reading the mixed/negative reviews. 😉

    Note: I do agree with whoever (here? in a review?) said it’s not as good as “Thor: Ragnarok.” But Ragnarok was awesome, so that was a high bar to try to clear.

  6. StephenfromOttawa: I think Wizard of Earthsea is totally suitable for twelve-year-olds (or was when I was young, at any rate). Rather to my bemusement it is not marketed as adult, but when it was launched it was definitely for children, though at the upper end of the range.

  7. I still have my student book club paperback of “Emil,” with disarming little drawings throughout by Trier. There’s also at least one sequel (per Wikipedia), Emil und die Drei Zwillinge, 1933 (Emil and the Three Twins). His autobiography won a major award (which was not a leg lamp).

  8. The autobiography of Erich Kaestner should be interesting.
    Originaly writing novels for adults, his books were burned by …(let the word out to not get moderated and he was on of the few writers who stayed in Germany.
    One of the biggest movies of this time (Muenchhausen) was secretly writen by Kaestner,

  9. Just finished The Moon has a Heist Mistress (With Added Science and Engineering Stuff) by Andy Weir. Like Iphinome, my socks are still on. Perfectly serviceable, with some good bits (inc some interesting riffing on tMiaHM) and some bad bits, but the bottom line is that lightning hasn’t struck twice.

  10. I’ve read elsewhere that the idea that the Mercury Theatre’s “War of the Worlds” caused a national panic is pretty well discredited, but Gerry de La Ree’s piece adds important first hand evidence, so I thank Kim Huett for unearthing it.

  11. A cartoon I still like, which came out right after the news stories about War of the Worlds, shows a radio studio with actors at a microphone and a sound effects man standing at the ready, and the announcer has stepped up to say, “At this point in our narrative, it is necessary for a pistol to be fired. This is only a part of the story, and we wish to stress that nobody will have actually been hurt by it.”

  12. @Kip W.

    I wish I could see the 1931 EMIL UND DIE DETEKTIVE. After I’d watched the Disney version (for which I still have a soft spot) and read the book, Mom said she’d seen a German version of it with subtitles a long time ago.

    There are at least three German language versions of Emil und die Detektive (and that’s not a book I thought I’d ever be discussing at File 770), one from 1931, one from 1954 and one from 2001. I saw the 1954 version and of course read the book as a kid, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the 1931 version.

    Erich Kästner is always worth reading IMO and his books still held up remarkably well, when I read them in the 1980s, some 50 years after they were first published. Though I probably wouldn’t give them to a kid today without rereading them first.

    Seconding the Rick Riordan and Lloyd Alexander recs, both of which I know are available in German. Philip Pullman is also good and available in German. Cornelia Funke is a good choice as well and definitely available in German, since she is German. I’m ignoring German classics like Michael Ende, Otfried Preußler and Tamara Ramsay for now, since I assume you or the girl’s family already know them.

    Is your niece into the more romantic YA fantasy along the lines of Twilight? Cause there’s a lot of that available in German translation.

  13. Andrew Porter: #10: Hey, who was it who sent you the link to this? I demand my egoboo!

    Egoboo unlocked!

  14. @Peer I second the Tamora Pierce recommendation, although if your 12 year old already has the reading level to get all the way through Harry Potter, I’d recommend the Tortall books (start either with Song of the Lioness or with The Immortals quartets) as Circle of Magic is pitched a bit younger.

    Does she read Cornelia Funke? I loved the Inkheart trilogy but read it a really long time ago so it might have had a visit from the suck fairy since…

    I highly enjoyed Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series, which starts with the Demon King – fun high fantasy with enough new stuff and trope subversions to keep it fresh.

    Also, is any of Nnedi Okorafor’s work translated? The Shadow Speaker is YA and it’s great. I haven’t read Akata Witch yet but I think that’s YA too? Worth looking into, I’m sure.

  15. It could have been the 1954 EMIL that Mom was telling me about it. My cursory search on its likely year was perhaps too cursory.

  16. Walter Moers’s Zamonia series deserves a look. Maybe not what you’re looking for since it generally lacks the teens-in-peril theme, but it’s certainly available in German — some volumes aren’t yet available in English — and because of the rich wordplay it’s more fun in German anyway.

  17. Barbara Hambly’s Darwath trilogy – I loved that series when I was 12ish.

    Also second Cooper’s, Alexander’s, and Le Guin’s series.

  18. @1a: de la Ree’s explanation of why the program startled people matches that of John Houseman, who was the producer. However, Houseman also contends there was at least a serious local fuss, with authorities trying to get into the studio during the broadcast. (This in Run Through, a memoir published over 30 years later, so it’s possible he was misremembering.) It’s also unclear how many people would have recognized Welles’s voice (as de la Ree did); that was before his first movie and not long into the radio shows.

    @1b: This is an interesting explanation, but it makes a huge assumption: that a sea story could not be passed mouth-to-ear for centuries before some landlubber with access to a printing press wrote it down. Note that this is an actual sea story, not a story of a possible land of history or riches that landlubbers would pay attention to.

    @8: the Bechdel rule points up the ignoring of half of humanity. ISTM that this argument is a stretch.

    @10: I wonder how many readers of that obit understood any of the ~80% that came from here.

  19. @Peer – book recommendations for a 12 yr old girl: Robin McKinley, especially Hero and the Crown. I loved it so hard at that age. I used to read and reread it till my book fell apart.

  20. Thanks for all the recommendations – I knew I can count on you! I will go through the descriptions and will let you know what I bought (and the rest of the recommendations I give over to her mother/my sister for later). I think she read Funke , at least she had a book of her. She is not (yet?) into the romantic stuff…

    P.S. I was also a fan of Kästner – I also read the successor Emil und die drei Zwillinge – I dont know if that ever got an english translation. Pünktchen und Anton doesnt seem to be availible in English (???). Lotta and Lisa still feeds Hollywood with stories…

  21. Try Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co. My daughter is mourning the end of the series. Lots of humor, but I’m not sure how creepy it gets.

  22. (1b) I agree with Chip Hitchcock that while this is indeed a very interesting explanation, sea stories and sailors’ superstitions were very much an oral thing and the legend of the Flying Dutchman could definitely have been around for centuries before someone thought to write it down (or perhaps it even was written down earlier in journals or what have you and was simply lost).

  23. (1b) Well, the Golden Age for Dutch sailing seems to be noted to start somewhere in 1600-1650. Not that they didn’t sail before then, but it seems less likely that anything too much prior to that would have chosen to pick on the Dutch in particular. So a couple of centuries’ leeway for the legend, yes, but not much more.


    Robin McKinley was my obsession in the years just after I turned 10. Diana Wynne Jones was my “I wish I’d known about/checked out these when I was a kid” late discovery. I’m weird in that it’s Susan Cooper’s standalone, Seaward, which really hooked me, despite actually learning some Welsh because of her Dark Is Rising books.

    on Riordan: The first Percy Jackson series is pretty well balanced between late MG and early YA; there’s a bit of romance. The Heroes of Olympus Series skews a bit more mature, as so do the characters. His grasp of folklore is pretty sound, actually, though of course they all reappear in more modern contexts (Medusa shows up selling “lawn ornaments”…), and the second series is specifically playing with the Greek vs. Roman mythology. OTOH, the second series also had the characters head to the Mediterranean, and it gets some things so wrong that after spending 4 days of my life in Rome I knew he was making geographical/local culture mistakes. (He didn’t mess up Malta as much, but mostly by skimming over it too lightly to have the chance.)

  24. @Lenora Rose: I suspect the legend of the cursed ship could be older — especially in the form presented, where (AFAICT) the captain made a deal with the devil for quick sailing. The version in which the captain swears to (e.g.) round a cape even if all the angels and devils oppose him does sound like a snark at reputed Dutch stubbornness, but stories mutate.

  25. A cartoon I still like, which came out right after the news stories about War of the Worlds, shows a radio studio with actors at a microphone and a sound effects man standing at the ready, and the announcer has stepped up to say, “At this point in our narrative, it is necessary for a pistol to be fired. This is only a part of the story, and we wish to stress that nobody will have actually been hurt by it.”

    An early trigger warning!

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