Pixel Scroll 11/4/20 With A Goldfinger In My Eye

(1) JEMISIN FEATURED. “2020 National Book Festival Highlights: N.K. Jemisin” has a video of her talk with a companion post by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in the Center for the Book. (The video is also available on YouTube.)

Although N.K. Jemisin’s “The City We Became” (Orbit) is a fantasy novel set in New York City, its message is anything but a fantasy.

Jemisin says in her video recorded for the 2020 National Book Festival: “I think the thing that people will hopefully begin to take from the book, if they want to take anything from it, is that when people work together they are literally able to do just about anything — and that’s the struggle that we’re having right now as a country.”

(2) FINANCAL HELP NEEDED. Adam-Troy and Judi Castro say they have been “Wiped out by Identity Theft” and have launched an appeal for help through GoFundMe. At this hour, $15,990 of the $20,000 goal has been raised. Judi Castro explains:

Over the past year or so, Adam and I have been slapping out little embers here and there as our credit and debit cards were attacked. Usually little things that the banks quickly fixed.

The little attacks ended a few months ago.

Suddenly, large amounts were being transferred out of our accounts (multiple) seemingly as fast as they were deposited. We sat with the bank, took all the steps to protect ourselves. Reported to all the right agencies, filed reports with the authorities etc. We’ve changed accounts, banks and debit cards multiple times. But. They. Kept. Finding. Us.

Now the home has been taken and we are being forced to move.

It’s all been too much so we are turning to our friends and neighbors for help.

We thank you all for listening and will keep updates flowing.

(3) HUMBLE BUNDLE FOR SFWA. The new Humble Bundle campaign to benefit SFWA, Stars Of Sci-Fi & Fantasy By Open Road Media, is heavy on Shatner and Piers Anthony, but there are also many other authors including Jane Yolen, Tim Powers, Timothy Zahn, and Pamela Sargent.

(4) WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND? James Davis Nicoll is looking for your sf suggestions – add them in the comments section of “Reviving a 15 yr old John Scalzi thread in modified form”.

(Modified because the thread is 15 yrs old):

Good, recent science fiction for people who don’t read science fiction.

A: Audience is adult, intelligent, and literate.
B: No YA
C: No books before 2010.
D: Book has to be primarily SF, not fantasy.
E: Recommend a book that you would actually recommend to someone.

(5) BOTH SIDES NOW. In The Press and Journal: “Lost letters: The friendship between JM Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson”.

…And although JM Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson never met, they developed a warm friendship, engaged in a long-distance exchange of letters between Britain and the Pacific Islands, and have left behind a treasure trove of playful and poignant missives.

… The latter is a particularly evocative piece because he had intended to travel to Samoa to meet Stevenson, only for the latter to suffer a fatal cerebral haemorrhage at the age of just 44 in 1894.

Yet, as Dr Shaw revealed, all this material had lain in an American library for decades until he carried out some detective work which was worthy of one of Barrie’s contemporaries – and cricket teammates – Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

…In one letter, Stevenson writes that Barrie had the second-worst handwriting he had ever encountered, but that’s as far as the criticism goes.

Elsewhere, the tone is, by turns, witty, competitive, enlightening, analytic and often highly personal in nature.

Dr Shaw said: “I was initially intrigued by the length of their letters, especially towards the end of correspondence and some of them run to around 3,000 words.

“Stevenson’s friend, Sidney Colvin, described one of them as a ‘journal letter’ which is a good description.

“I was also intrigued by Barrie including a playlet in four acts in one letter – where he imagines his visit to Samoa – and a humorous family tree, showing that his and Stevenson’s characters were related….”

(6) STOP HELPING. A trailer has dropped for the sff film Parallel.

A group of friends stumble upon a mirror that serves as a portal to a “multiverse”, but soon discover that importing knowledge from the other side in order to better their lives brings increasingly dangerous consequences.


  • November 2006 In the Night Garden, the first volume of Catherynne Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales was published by Bantam Spectra. The novel and its sequel, In the Cities of Coin and Spice, would both win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Both volumes are copiously illustrated by Michael Kaluta. She would also win an Otherwise Award that year. It would also be nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Both volumes are available at the usual digital suspects. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 4, 1897 Lionel Britton. Actor who’s best remembered for the “Spacetime Inn” play, a genre pub tale which, because one of the characters is Queen Victoria, was denied a UK theatre performance license. It was however performed by him playing all the parts in the House of Commons on the 10th of June 1931. Really. Truly. It’s the only play ever done there. (Died 1971.) (CE)
  • Born November 4, 1912 – Wendayne Ackerman.  Born in Germany, spoke French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish.  Dubbed Wendayne by husband Forrest J Ackerman (no period after the J; so far as I know, no United Kingdom or Commonwealth fan, where this punctuation mark has a different name, ever asked “Forry, where’s the point?”).  Taught French and German twenty years at East Los Angeles Junior College.  Translated many Perry Rhodan books.  With Forry, Fan Guests of Honor at Rhocon and Fantasy Faire VII.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • Born November 4, 1917 Babette Rosmond. She worked as an editor at the magazine publisher Street & Smith, editing Doc Savage and The Shadow in the late Forties. Rosmond’s first story, co-written by Leonard M. Lake, “Are You Run-Down, Tired-“ was published in in the October 1942 issue of Unknown WorldsError Hurled was her only genre novel and she only write three short genre pieces. (Died 1997.) (CE) 
  • Born November 4, 1934 – Greg Calkins.  Long in FAPA, served a term as its President, succeeding Our Gracious Host.  Fanzine, The Rambling Fap.  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 29.   (I believe he died 2014-2015, but haven’t yet been able to confirm.)  [JH]
  • Born November 4, 1946 – Mike Shupp, 74.  Aerospace engineer.  Chaired Loscon 7.  Five novels. Biographers beware, he is neither the singer-songwriter MS nor the retired colonel of U.S. Marines.  [JH]
  • Born November 4, 1953 Stephen Jones, 67. Editor, and that is putting it quite mildly, as he went well over the century mark in anthologies edited quite some time ago. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror accounts for seventeen volumes by itself and The Mammoth Book of (Pick A Title) runs for at least another for another dozen. He also, no surprise, to me, has authored a number of horror reference works such as The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated HistoryBasil Copper: A Life in Books and H. P. Lovecraft in Britain. He also done hundreds of essays, con reports, obituaries and such, showing up, well, just about everywhere. (CE) 
  • Born November 4, 1953 Kara Dalkey, 67. Writer of YA fiction and historical fantasy. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship (which if memory serves me right includes both Emma Bull and Stephen Brust) and the Scribblies. Her works include The Sword of SagamoreSteel RoseLittle Sister and The Nightingale. And her Water trilogy blends together Atlantean and Arthurian mythologies. She’s been nominated for the Mythopoeic and Otherwise Awards. (CE)
  • Born November 4, 1955 Lani Tupu, 65. He had two roles on the Farscape series (arguably the best SF series ever done), one visible and one not. He was Peacekeeper  Bialar Crais  and the voice of Pilot as well. Genre wise, he also showed up on Time TraxThe Lost World and Mission: Impossible. He was also in the first Punisher film. (CE) 
  • Born November 4, 1959 – Alan Winston, 61.  Chaired Loscon 6.  Learned English Regency ballroom dance from J. Hertz, was one of the Avengers; moved to San Francisco Bay; taught (almost) JH Regency-style choreography “Mutual Promises” at a Playford Ball; active in that hobby.  Has been in every mailing of LASFAPA since the first, a commendable string of 529 months so far.  [JH]
  • Born November 4, 1960 John Vickery, 60. In Babylon 5, he played Neroon which is where I remember him from as he was a Right Bastard there.  His major Trek universe role was as Rusot, a member of Damar’s Cardassian resistance group, appearing in the DS9 episodes “The Changing Face of Evil”, “When It Rains…” and “Tacking Into the Wind”.  He also played a Betazoid in Next Gen’s “Night Terrors” and a Klingon in Enterprise‘s “Judgment” episode. (CE)
  • Born November 4, 1964 – Kerry Kyle, 56.  Daughter of David, the Man in the Red Jacket as he became in recent years.  KK and Brian Pearce run Red Jacket Press; you can see Dave’s fanhistory articles in Mimosa and get some of his and related books (his fine Pictorial History of SF and Illustrated Book of SF Ideas & Dreams are available, used, from Amazon and from Powell’s Books, as also shown here).  [JH].  
  • Born November 4, 1986 – Kristin Cast, 34.  A score of books, four novellas with her mother; three novels, two novelettes alone; a NY Times and USA Today best-seller.  Born on a U.S. Air Force base in Japan.  “Writing is the most difficult job I’ve had…. it all comes down to one person – YOU….  Read.  Read.  Read….  Think of each book … as a lesson….  I highlight words I love or don’t know, figurative language that inspires me….  I know … authors who don’t outline…. who handwrite their first drafts.  Outline, chart, crazy math equations, I’ve seen it all.”  [JH]


(10) SAVE THE DALEKS? Comicbooks.com tees up the “Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious Trailer”.

Doctor Who: Time Lord Victoriousthe epic Doctor Who transmedia event, is in full swing. Titan Comics released a trailer for its part in the story. Titan’s trailer spotlights the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious graphic novel, collecting issues #1 and #2 of the Time Lord Victorious comic book that began the event. The comic features the most beloved Doctor, the Tenth Doctor (portrayed by David Tennant), for a story written by Jody Houser and featuring artwork by Roberta Ingranata. The tale is titled “Defender of the Daleks.” As the title suggests, the story finds the Doctor in a most unusual position: coming to the aid of his greatest enemies, the Daleks. 

(11) OUT OF THE PARK EXPERIENCE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Michael Clair, in “Seven Baseball Movies Perfect For a Midnight Marathon” on MLB.com, recommends seven off-trail baseball movies most of which combine the great game of baseball with fantasy and horror.  These include The Battery, in which a pitcher and catcher flee a zombie apocalpyse, and the anthology film Body Bags (1993), whose third segment, directed by Tobe Hooper, has Mark Hamill as a minor-league player about to be called up to the majors, except he has an accident and needs an eye transplant… and the eyes come from a serial killer!

SJWs will want to see Rhubarb, a 1951 film in which the owner of the Brooklyn Loons dies and leaves the team to his cat.  The film features a very early appearance by Leonard Nimoy.

Clair notes that Twilight, for some reason, has six minutes of baseball in it.

(12) SAD PUPPY LOCKED OUT OF HOUSE. Sff author, Sad Puppy, and Libertarian Party candidate Lou Antonelli has lost his bid for election to the U.S. House to represent Texas’ 4th Congressional District. He placed third in the general election on November 3, 2020.

(13) MANDALORIAN MATCH. “Quiz: Which Character From The Mandalorian Are You?” — the Star Wars blog invites you to find out.

I’m Greef Karga. (Hey, don’t look like that’s a bad thing!)

To celebrate the all-new episodes of the live-action Star Wars series, we’ve created a new quiz to help you determine your place in the story so far. Are you the hero of it all, masked and mysterious, with armor that conceals a heart of gold? A kid at heart no matter your age? Do you follow the rules of the Empire or stick to the bounty hunter’s code?

(14) PWNED TO KING FOUR. Deep Blue: Down the Rabbit Hole is an in-depth documentary on the Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov computer chess matches of 1996-7

After an electrical engineer enters the field of computer chess, his creation captures the attention of the world as he attempts to defeat the world chess champion.

(15) MAG FORCE. “Not aliens: Mysterious burst of radio waves traced to a magnetar reports the LA Times.

…Scientists have known about these energetic pulses — called fast radio bursts — for about 13 years and have seen them coming from outside our galaxy, which makes it harder to trace them back to their source. Making it even harder is that they happen so fast, in a couple of milliseconds.

Then in April, a rare but considerably weaker burst coming from inside our own Milky Way galaxy was spotted by two distinct telescopes: one a Caltech graduate student’s set of handmade antennas, which included actual cake pans, the other a $20-million Canadian observatory.

They tracked that fast radio burst to a weird type of star called a magnetar that’s 32,000 light-years from Earth, according to four studies published Wednesday in the journal Nature….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “All things Fall–3D Printed Zoetrope” on Vimeo is a 2015 interpretation by Mat Collishaw of a nineteenth-century form of animation. WARNING: Shows violence against women.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Dann, N., Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Good as Gold” Dern.]

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31 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/4/20 With A Goldfinger In My Eye

  1. 4) Maybe “New York 2140” as a commenter has already suggested. I have recommended Robinson to intelligent non SF readers, I’m not sure how successfully. Gibson’s “Agency” is another that might work well.

  2. 12) I suspect Antonelli would have done better if Texas had followed Maine’s lead and adopted ranked choice voting, so people wouldn’t worry about wasting their votes if they voted for a third party candidate. Not won, but done better.

    Yes, I’ve been oversaturated with election news lately, so some of it condenses out.

  3. Went in this afternoon and did virus test. My nose needed a couple of hours to recover from the experience. (It hurt.) But that part is done. (I have to isolate for the next four days. So I stopped at the market on the way home and got food.)

  4. (8) Stephen Jones was also co-editor, with Dave Sutton, of the acclaimed small press magazine Fantasy Tales, which led to their taking on the rebooted Pan Book of Horror Stories.

  5. @P J Evans,
    Hope the test comes back negative.

    I got my first COVID19 test ever done three weeks ago. The nasal swab was certainly a novel experience, not painful, but not pleasant either as I have never had anything inserted that far up my nose before, so the sensation was weird. I had phoned up earlier to make an appointment & provided my details then. I was txted my results (negative) two days later.

  6. 7) Also a media birthday today: John Carpenter’s documentary They Live premiered 1988-11-04.

  7. (4) I echo rochrist in wholeheartedly endorsing A Memory Called Empire. I’ve listen to it three times now and it’s simply or of the best novel I’ve experienced in many years along with Bear’s White Space Novel novels.

    All civilisations might fall, but forfend one might disturb a cat. — Elizabeth Bear’s “A Blessing of Unicorns: A Sub-Inspector Ferron Mystery” which I’m listening to now.

  8. 4) Jeez, no fantasy? Bigot! 😉

    Looking over the SF I’ve read in roughly the last year and a half —

    I’ll second/third/fourth votes for Murderbot and Expanse. I vote God No on Robinson, unless you want to bore them to death.

    Hey, if they like thrillers and/or mysteries, why not Recursion by Blake Crouch? It’s twisty and turny, but set firmly on Earth, and in the time-honored thriller tradition.

    Hmmmm. Maybe A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World? Not a perfect book, but a good read, in a familiar sub-genre (post-apocalyptic), and not nearly as dark as a lot of post-apoc stories. Points off for bad science. Also, you might ding this one as YA for having a young protagonist, but it really isn’t.

    If they are of the “sf is all killing and destruction” type, then Becky Chambers. She isn’t my cup of tea most of the time, but I admire what she’s doing thematically.

    Oooo, stealing from the comment section on Nicoll’s page, The Martian. Yeah.

    Now playing: “Undiscovered” by Albert Lee

  9. Had my own Covid-19 nasal swab on 10/12, when the respiratory crud I’d had since the end of September took a turn for the worse. Not fun, but it made me forget about the wheezing and coughing and the noticeable effort it took to draw breath for a moment or so. The inhaler and cough suppressant the ER gave me helped, and the Covid test came back negative. Almost back to normal, finally.

    That zoetrope is a great technical accomplishment, but what the fuck…?

    A Memory Called Empire was very good, but I would have still given the Best Novel Hugo to Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame, which was extraordinary.

    Gotta go car-shopping today. Some jerk tried to make a left turn thru our Nissan Versa back on 10/7, and after weeks of farting around, Allstate finally declared it a total loss yesterday afternoon. But because of the farting around, my 30 days of rental coverage runs out tomorrow and I’ll have to start paying rental fees myself. I’ve been told I’ll “probably” be reimbursed for those extra days.

  10. @Bruce —

    A man after my own heart with Middlegame, Bruce. And yeesh, you had an even tougher October than general conditions in the country called for — hope things start looking up for you!

    Now playing: “Ghosts of 42nd Street” by the Hellecasters

  11. Bruce Arthurs says Had my own Covid-19 nasal swab on 10/12, when the respiratory crud I’d had since the end of September took a turn for the worse. Not fun, but it made me forget about the wheezing and coughing and the noticeable effort it took to draw breath for a moment or so. The inhaler and cough suppressant the ER gave me helped, and the Covid test came back negative. Almost back to normal, finally.

    I’ve had six of those tests so far because of the three knee surgeries and hospital stays, five of which I was conscious for, and I can say that I hated every one of them. All negative.

    The last one was supposed to be at a testing center a half hour away but I convinced them to do it here instead. I’m hoping by the time I’m having shoulder surgery that they’ll have the new far less invasive test available.

  12. #4) Fitting the criteria:
    Patrick S. Tomlinson – Gatecrashers and Starship Repo
    Adrian Tchaikovsky – Gates of Eden
    Karl Schroeder – Stealing Worlds
    L.X. Beckett’s – Gamechanger
    Max Gladstone’s – Empress of Forever
    Derek Künsken’s – Quantum Magician
    Sam Hughes – Ra (grim, but good)
    Todd McAulty’s – The Robots of Gotham
    Arkady Martine’s – A Memory Called Empire

  13. 4) My first thought was, “Why the 2010 limit?” (because there go my strongest William Gibson recommendations), but this is Nicholl’s game, so what the hell.

    Second thought: Recommendations would necessarily be tailored to the prospect’s current tastes and experience, wouldn’t they? I certainly wouldn’t offer, say, Iain M. Banks’ late Culture novels to someone whose preferred reading is accounts of the complexities of contemporary domestic life. But such a reader might find something in Greg Egan’s Zendegi, especially if they’re also interested in life under difficult political regimes.

    And a reader of literary thrillers ought to enjoy Linda Nagata’s The Red sequence, The Last Good Man, and her brand-new Pacific Storm.

    And if one is engaged with current anxieties about the near future, the pickings are rich. To name just a few:

    Perihelion Summer, Greg Egan
    Directive 51 and its sequels, John Barnes
    Slow Apocalypse, John Varley
    Deep State, Walter Jon Williams
    The Fourth Wall, Walter Jon Williams
    Afterparty, Daryl Gregory
    Sea Change, Nancy Kress
    Rule of Capture and Failed State, Christopher Brown

    I’d be cautious about farther-out SF–the kind that demands some familiarity with the traditions and tropes and doesn’t do much hand-holding–despite that being some of my personal favorite material–Banks, Ann Leckie, Ian McDonald, Paul McAuley, Ken MacLeod, Karl Schroeder, Kathleen Ann Goonan. . . .

  14. (4) I second all the Murderbot recommendations, and The Martian, Perihelion Summer, A Memory Called Empire and I’d add:

    The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal
    Semiosis, Sue Burke
    Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky
    Planetfall or Before Mars, Emma Newman
    Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

    But I tend to think that recommending shorter fiction to people who haven’t read SF before is a gentler introduction. So, in that vein, I’d suggest The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3 and The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 4 , edited by Neil Clarke. Those two years were banner years for short fiction, imo.

    (16) I agree with JJ, it’s an impressive piece of technical skill, but it does make me wonder about someone who’d spend so much time with the subject of the work. And I think there also should be a warning that there’s violence against babies depicted in the work.

  15. Will there be a sequel–Catflaps of Eden? (I understand that Combination Storm Windows of Eden was just a rumor, along with Remote-Controlled Overhead Garage Door Opener of Eden.)

    I’ll just go behind the sofa on my own now. It’s been a trying couple of news-cycle days.

  16. 4) After reading KSR’s Orange County I recommended it to a friend of mine fitting that description. I don’t think he got beyond the first page. The thing I used to enjoy about much SF (and which I now lack the patience for) was exactly what he hated: the deferment of explanation of new things, with the expectation the reader will become immersed in it over time and pick it up as they go along. I’m sorry – I’m not explaining that very well, but I hope you know what I mean.
    With that in mind, the SF novel I would recommend to anyone (this one is definitely pre 2010) would be Flowers For Algernon.
    Since 2010? Probably Annihilation. I know this sounds a bit like a contradiction to what I just said about Orange County, but since the whole point of the plot is to discover what’s going, I think of this more like a mystery than anything else. And it’s beautifully written.

  17. Cliff: After reading KSR’s Orange County I recommended it to a friend of mine fitting that description. I don’t think he got beyond the first page. The thing I used to enjoy about much SF (and which I now lack the patience for) was exactly what he hated: the deferment of explanation of new things, with the expectation the reader will become immersed in it over time and pick it up as they go along.

    I love that in media res puzzle approach in SF books, too. My problem with KSR’s books is his cardboard characters, and how the actual plot development unfortunately takes the back row of the bus behind all of his sermons.

  18. @JJ – I gave up on KSR after I forced myself through all three of the Mars books. I should have known when, early in the first one, he describes the sunset using an entire paragraph’s worth of synonyms for pink :). But I really enjoyed Orange County, which was much less grand in scope and seemed more concerned with the fate of the characters.

  19. @JJ —

    My problem with KSR’s books is his cardboard characters, and how the actual plot development unfortunately takes the back row of the bus behind all of his sermons.

    This. Plot and character.

    I think Robinson is the only author for whom I’ve dnfed two books — 2140 and Red Mars. I got most of the way through 2140 and realized I Just Didn’t Care how it turned out. And I only got a few hours into Red Mars before hurling it with great force as the only possible cure for my terminal boredom.


    (typo, but also –)

    Ugh. My dad spent over a year dealing with a determined identity thief. Same as the Castros report here — he would get new accounts, and the thieves would somehow get the new account info. Multiple times, and multiple credit and bank accounts. He finally decided they were stealing mail from his mailbox; once he started directing all his mail to a PO Box, the repeated thefts stopped.

    Identity thieves are EVIL.

    Now playing: “Between Twilight and Dawn” by the Hellecasters

  20. @rochchrist and @Russel Letson
    Aiiieee!!! Dies of embarassment.
    Sorry about that. Brain fart on my part.

  21. Of Gregg Calkins:

    (I believe he died 2014-2015, but haven’t yet been able to confirm.) [JH]

    A tad odd, since all anyone has to do is glance at Gregg’s Facebook Timeline to see he died in the last week of July, 2017. His last post was July 25th.

    All his posts were Public, so nobody has to join Facebook to see them, although Gregg also had a number of fan Friends.


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