Pixel Scroll 11/7/18 Neil Gaiman On A Mountain Of Books Holding a Kitten

(1) THE CRIMES OF VISACARD. BBC takes note as “JK Rowling sues former employee for £24,000”.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has launched a £24,000 legal claim against a former employee for allegedly using her money to go on shopping sprees.

Ms Rowling, 53, claims Amanda Donaldson broke strict working rules by using her funds to buy cosmetics and gifts.

Ms Donaldson worked as a personal assistant for the writer between February 2014 and April 2017, before being sacked for gross misconduct.

The 35-year-old from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, has denied the claims.

Legal papers lodged at Airdrie Sheriff Court allege Ms Donaldson wrongly benefited to a value of £23,696.32 by spending on a business credit card and taking Harry Potter merchandise.

(2) BLEEPIN’ RIGHT. Let K.M. Alexander expand your word power — “Raunch Review: Mork & Mindy/Starsiege: Tribes”.

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.

The Author: Garry Marshall and Dynamix

Work in Question: Mork & Mindy/Starsiege: Tribes

The Profanity: “Shazbot”

It’s rare for a fictional profanity to transcend its original source material and find new life in other properties. But that’s what we find with 1978’s Mork & Mindy’s “shazbot.” …

(3) MOVING UP AT TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES. Publishers Lunch reports:

In promotions at Tom Doherty Associates: Alexis Saarela moves up to senior associate director of publicity focusing on Forge; Laura Etzkorn is now publicist; Desirae Friesen becomes senior publicist with a focus on Tor; Saraciea Fennell is senior publicist overseeing publicity for Tor Teen and Starscape; and Lauren Levite is now associate publicist.

(4) DYSTOPIC DYNAMIC. In “How Technology Grows (a restatement of definite optimism)” blogger Dan Wang says that economic stagnation and limited growth leads to depressing sf:

Much of the science fiction published in the last few decades veer towards cyberpunk dystopia.  (The Three Body Problem is an exception.)  We don’t see much change in the physical landscape of our cities, and instead we get a proliferation of sensors, information, and screens.  By contrast, the science fiction of the 50s and 60s were much more optimistic.  That was the space age, a time when we were busy reshaping our physical world, and by which point the industrial acheivements of the ‘30s had made themselves obvious.  Industrial deepening leads to science fiction that is optimistic, while digital proliferation pushes it towards dystopia.

(5) BOPPING AROUND THE GALAXY. Steve Carper helps Black Gate readers remember the “Space Conquerers!” comic strip. (Or in my case, provides a first-time introduction….)

Space Conquerors! ran for a full twenty years, from 1952, when a simple rocket trip to Mars was nearly unimaginable, to 1972, when their flying saucer casually strolled alien star systems. The science was an odd mix of realism and convenience. That first rocket to Mars could go faster than the speed of light but a later space ship, built in 2054, was deemed a marvel because it could travel at half the speed of light. It needed a proper eight years to get to get to Alpha Centauri from the moon. Or perhaps the marvel was that a 1957 sequence strives for an educationally accurate first trip to the moon, but somehow is set in 2057, three years after the star ship set sail.

(6) YOU BETTER NOT POUT. Laura Anne Gilman’s post “A Meerkat Rants: The War on Christmas Retailers” solves the angst shortage for readers of Book View Café.

…Because, yes Virginia, there is a war against Christmas holiday retailers.  And it begins with the first stores loading up Christmas decorations and candies the day after Halloween (Rite Aid and such, we’re looking at you, and you were already on our shitlist for not discounting Halloween candy the day after, what the hell is wrong with you?)

Look, anyone who is that into Christmas that they need it two months ahead of time?  Has the ever-increasing option to go to a 365-days-a-year Christmas Store.  Or buy things online.  They don’t need that in their local drugstore.  The rest of us walk in, take one look, and say “oh hell no,” and walk out again, often without searching for the thing we went in for.  Or if we do, we curtail any further impulse shopping, in order to escape as quickly as possible.

You jump the gun by a month or more, and shove your retail Christmas agenda in my face the first week of NOVEMBER?  I’m going to walk past your door, and go somewhere else.  And I know I’m not alone in this….

(7) SPACEX BEATS RUSSIAN PRICE. The Republic of Kazakhstan—ex of the Soviet Union and still the home of Russia’s primary spaceport—has chosen SpaceX over Russia for launch services (Ars Technica: “Kazakhstan chooses SpaceX over a Russian rocket for satellite launch”). Unsurprisingly, it boils down to money. The launch in question will place small satellites from a few dozen customers in orbit on the same launch.

The first satellite launched into orbit, Sputnik, launched from a spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The Central Asian country was then a Soviet republic. Later, the first human to fly into space, Yuri Gagarin, also launched from Kazakhstan. Today, despite its independence, this spaceport remains the primary launch site for the Russian space program.

However, when Kazakhstan wanted to get a small scientific satellite named KazSaySat and a technology satellite called KazistiSat into space, the country didn’t select a Russian rocket. Instead, it chose the US-based launch company SpaceX to reach orbit.

[…][T]he press secretary of the Ministry of Defense and Aerospace Industry, Aset Nurkenov, explained why. “The reason for using a Falcon 9 for this launch is that it will be less expensive,” he said. “The total cost is a commercial confidentiality we can not reveal at the request of the American launch provider.”

(8) THE MONSTER. Adri Joy finally gets to read Seth Dickinson’s anticipated sequel: “Microreview [Book]: The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson” at Nerds of a Feather.

It’s been three long, interesting years between the release of Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant and its fair to say this long-awaited sequel, in which the Traitor becomes the Monster, has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year. The Traitor Baru Cormorant blew me away when I read it in 2015: I was still relatively new to modern adult SFF, and at the time I didn’t realise that it was possible to capture this type of political and economic intrigue in fantasy. Baru’s journey from island prodigy to rebel leader was immensely satisfying, as was the fact she was doing it all as a civil servant. Then, like all books, it ended, and as anyone who has read it will sympathise, it ended like that. I lost hours of sleep. If you haven’t read the book and don’t know what I’m referring to, let me warn you not to look for queer happy endings in this otherwise magnificent book and send you away to do what you will.

(9) SALMONSON ANTHOLOGY. Adri Joy also adds an entry to Nerds of a Feather’s series with “Feminist Futures: Amazons!”

Legacy: I read Amazons! in 2018, sandwiched between the Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, a trilogy about a sheepfarmer’s daughter who finds her calling as a warrior, and Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky, in which a woman veteran seeks restoration after killing the renegade demigod who took her entire world to war. In that context, the legacy of Amazons! – and, perhaps more importantly, the writers in it and the movement it represents – is one that has made a huge difference to the range and depth of well-crafted woman-centred fantasy narratives out there to discover. Reading the anthology has definitely piqued my interest in the stories that prefaced full novels, namely “The Dreamstone” – which started the Ealdwold series – and “Bones for Dulath” by Megan Lindholm, which was the first appearance of Ki and Vandrien (although neither is a work that the authors are primarily known for now). …

(10) O’NEIL OBIT. From the BBC — “Kitty O’Neil: Wonder Woman stuntwoman dies at 72”.

Kitty O’Neil, a stuntwoman who was Lynda Carter’s stunt double on 1970s TV series Wonder Woman, has died in South Dakota at the age of 72.

O’Neil, who lost her hearing when she was five months old, also doubled for Lindsay Wagner on The Bionic Woman.

Her other credits included Smokey and the Bandit II and The Blues Brothers.

O’Neil’s success as a stuntwoman led her into the world of speed racing and she set a land-speed record for women in 1976 – which still stands today.

The New York Times version adds –

On a dry lake in Oregon in December 1976, Kitty O’Neil wedged herself into a three-wheeled rocket-powered vehicle called the SMI Motivator. She gave the throttle two taps to awaken the engine and then watched an assistant count down from 10 with hand signals. At zero, she pushed the throttle down.

The Motivator accelerated rapidly, though silently for Ms. O’Neil; she was deaf. Her speed peaked briefly at 618 miles per hour, and with a second explosive run measured over one kilometer, she attained an average speed of 512.7 m.p.h., shattering the land-speed record for women by about 200 m.p.h.

For Ms. O’Neil, her record — which still stands — was the highlight of a career in daredevilry. She also set speed records on water skis and in boats. And, working as a stuntwoman, she crashed cars and survived immolation.


  • November 7, 1954 – Giant robots attack Chicago in Target Earth.
  • November 7, 1997 — A version of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers premiered in theatres.


As long as we are examining number theory, the house number for Wil Wheaton’s fictional home on The Big Bang Theory is 1701.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ]

  • Born November 7, 1914 – R.A. Lafferty. Writer known for somewhat eccentric usage of language. His first novel Past Master would set a lifelong pattern of seeing his works nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards as novels but not winning either though he won a Hugo short story for “Eurema’s Dam”. He had received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, he received the Cordwainer Smith Foundation’s Rediscovery award. I’m going to confess that I’ve not read him so I’m leaving up to y’all to tell me which works of his that I should read. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 7, 1954 – Guy Gavriel Kay. So the story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J.R.R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was at the time a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? The Finovar trilogy is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise somewhat resembles renaissance Italy. My favorite work by him is Ysabel, which strangely enough is called am urban fantasy when it really isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award.
  • Born November 7, 1960 – Linda Nagata. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre, which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out: The Nanotech SuccessionStories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels), and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her website is here.


(15) A NAME TO CONJURE WITH. Conjure, as in, his events disappear before happening. Trae Dorn at Nerd & Tie asks “Is Ray Jelley Running a Roman Themed Event Called ‘Like Caesar?’”

Some of you may remember that last year we ran a number of stories covering Angry Goat Productions and it’s owner Ray Jelley. If you don’t feel like trodding through half a dozen stories today, the short version is pretty simple — over the years a man named Raymond Francis Jelley has announced a series of events which then all ended up being cancelled prior to taking place.

There are a number of other details, including a lawsuit filed by a member of The Hobbit films, but that’s really the important bit.

In any case, after a string of announcements under the Angry Goat moniker, and a Harry Potter themed train under a different name, Mr. Jelley seemed to drop off my radar for a while. He seemed to go silent, and that was just fine as far as I was concerned.

Well, at least until recently.

Over the last couple of weeks, Nerd & Tie has received messages from multiple sources pointing us to an event called “Like Caesar.” …

(16) SHORT FICTION REVIEWED. Charles Payseur needs to be quick when the subject is Lightspeed — “Quick Sips – Lightspeed #102”.

It’s an issue of return in this November issue of Lightspeed Magazine. Two short stories and two novelettes make the issue a bit heavy, and for me a big theme running through the pieces is the idea of cycles and returns. Returns to childhood dreams, to classic books, and to familiar settings. There’s a look at childhood and how children are often confronted by some very upsetting things that they can’t quite handle, that they certainly shouldn’t have to deal with. And it’s a rather dark issue, centering death and abuse and trauma and a shift of the familiar for the strange, for the new and dangerous. Even so, there’s a beauty and a light that shines through a lot of these stories, where children can find their way through the darkness to someplace safer and free. Where even if there is loss, that loss can be honored, and remembered. And yeah, let’s just get to the reviews!

(17) SUBLIMINAL SHINTO. In “The Philosophy of Miyazaki” on YouTube, Wisecrack discusses how the Japanese religion of Shinto ensures that the characters in Miyazaki’s films learn to respect nature.

(18) THOSE DARN LEFTIES. No strawman is safe when it’s Sarah A. Hoyt’s day to write for Mad Genius Club: “Reading Authors”.

Besides all this, what IS the obsession with “male” in “don’t read white males.”  No, seriously.  I’m 56 years old an my early influences as were almost exclusively female: Enid Blyton, (who was the one that made me want to be a writer) the Countess of Segur and Agatha Christie.  Dumas and Shakespeare fell in there somewhere along the way, but so did Austen.

And in science fiction Anne McCaffrey was a major influence in my teen years.

So…. really?  What is this exclusively male voice that we need a break from.  Hell, given that I read a lot of cozy mysteries and most of those are women, reading a male now and then IS a break.

(19) PLONK YOUR NONMAGICAL TWANGER. Victoria Lucas heard something in 1963 – it may have been music. “[November 7, 1963] This Performance Not Wholly Silence (John Cage and his art)” at Galactic Journey.

I really don’t know how to describe it.  I realized that I was trapped, because I didn’t know where my host or driver was.  I didn’t even know—with my poor sense of direction—if I could find the car and house again in the dark, but it wouldn’t help even if I could, with no keys.  I contemplated going out and sitting in the lobby (rather than outside in the snow), because the noise from the piano harp, legs, sounding board, and everything else Tudor wired was so loud.  That was how and why I experienced the breakthrough I did.  I couldn’t leave.  I decided to stay and started to resent the people who were leaving, although I soon didn’t care.  They couldn’t help leaving any more than I could help staying.  The music was loud and had no melody, no rhythm, nothing definable to get a handle on it.  It sounded like nothing I had ever heard before.

Exactly.  That was exactly it: I had never heard anything like it before, and eventually that was why I stayed in the concert hall rather than sitting in the lobby.  At some point early on it was obvious that the music and dance were on separate tracks, had nothing to do with each other.

(20) WORD OF THE YEAR. “Words, words, words: ‘Single-Use’ Is The 2018 Word Of The Year, Collins Dictionary Says” – NPR has the story.

The English-speaking world’s growing concern for the environment and the ubiquity of disposable items that are used only once has pushed the word “single-use” to the top of Collins Dictionary’s list of “Word of the Year.”

Collins says there’s been a fourfold increase in the usage of the word since 2013, in part thanks to news coverage of environmental issues.

Single-use “encompasses a global movement to kick our addiction to disposable products. From plastic bags, bottles and straws to washable nappies, we have become more conscious of how our habits and behaviours can impact the environment,” Collins says.

(21) GOING APE. Jeff Lunden’s NPR article “‘King Kong’ On Broadway Is The 2,400-Pound Gorilla In The Room” discusses the fascinating live effects – but since this is a musical, it’s strange to see not a word about the songs, etc.

…Let’s start with the old school. Ten puppeteers are onstage moving the beast.

“They’ve got ropes down there which are connected to the wrist and the elbows, so they can move it,” Williams says. “It’s basically the oldest style of puppet — a marionette.”

Khadija Tariyan is one of the puppeteers who operate Kong’s legs, arms and torso on the stage.

“To be Kong, we are one with Kong,” she says. “We wear these black hoodies, and we’re all in black outfits, and we’re for the most part quite hidden. And we — we’re in a crouch position, so you don’t necessarily always see us — we’re almost like his shadows. And then there also moments in the show where we are able to come out and almost express his feelings, like when he’s curious about something, we do have a little appearance.”

(22) UNLEVEL PLAYING FIELD. Still need the Equal Rights Amendment they tried to pass 40+ years ago — “League of Legends firm sued over workers’ sexism claims”.

League of Legends’s developer is facing legal action over allegations it paid female employees less than men because of their gender and tolerated sexual harassment.

The action against Riot Games is being pursued by one of its former workers as well as a current staff member.

It follows investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the news website Kotaku, which made related claims.

Riot has not said if it will challenge the accusations.

(23) THE BLAME GAME. Forbes’ Erik Kain lists “The 5 Biggest Problems With This ‘Diablo Immortal’ Fiasco”.

It doesn’t help that early reports from players of the Diablo Immortal demo are largely tepid at best. It doesn’t help that we PC and console players are not only aware of the mobile game industry’s bad monetization practices, but also of the limits of mobile gaming’s inputs and controls. We know for a fact that Immortal won’t be as good as a PC Diablo title. It’s not possible.

So we’re left clueless as ever, still wondering when and what the next real Diablo game will be.

With a bungled announcement, one might expect that fingers would be pointed at Blizzard and its surprising incompetence on this front, but sadly that was largely brushed under the table as everyone began focusing their ire on the usual suspects: Gamers.

And ReviewTechUSA did a YouTube commentary:

Yesterday, Activision’s stock fell by a staggering 7.2 percent. This put the stock on track for having the lowest close it had since January 2018. Fans are still outraged over Diablo Immortal and there is even a petition with over 35,000 signatures asking for Blizzard Entertainment to cancel the game. However, on the other side of the coin analysts are excited for the mobile title and predict it will bring Activision and Blizzard over 300 million dollars of revenue annually.


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

70 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/7/18 Neil Gaiman On A Mountain Of Books Holding a Kitten

  1. 13) Born November 7, 1914 – R.A. Lafferty. [….]

    I’m going to confess that I’ve not read him so I’m leaving up to y’all to tell me which works of his that I should read.

    I loved Past Master, myself — though that was decades ago. I keep meaning to reread it, to see if the suck fairy has been at it.

  2. 13) R.A. Lafferty, for the birthday editors:

    The short story “Slow Tuesday Night” is free to read online at Baen.com

    I’d recommend the collection Nine Hundred Grandmothers, but it appears to be a collectible costing $30 and up. It was originally an Ace Science Fiction Special edited by Terry Carr.

    Lafferty’s first novel The Reefs of Earth has a new e-book edition from the Locus Foundation. I hope more reprints are on the way.

  3. Am I the only Filer who, having read this scroll’s title, felt sad, disappointed, let down or otherwise disconsulated by the scroll not including a picture that the title described, or at least a cartoon rendition?

    Lafferty’s short stories. Of course “Slow Tuesday Night.” And his Cameroi ones. And many others. Wasn’t somebody working on a re-publication of Lafferty series?

  4. 13) R. A. Lafferty… where to begin? Lafferty is a teller of “tall tales,” each of them taller and crazier than the next. Gary K. Wolfe complained on the Coode Street Podcast that trying to read a collection of Lafferty stories straight through is like trying to drink 15 cups of expresso in a row. They’re all high octane.

    Even so, let me share a few highlights of my favorites:
    * Past Master. This will make any short list, as it creates a completely Lafferty-ian strangeness of characters, all with super abnormal powers and qualities. I wouldn’t reccomend it as a starting off point though.

    * Apocalypses. This short novel about a mysteriously historical and yet non-existent country, Sandaliotis, that occupies the sea between Corsica and Italy, might be a good representative version of a Lafferty, but again, it is almost too wierd.

    * Arrive at Easterwine. One of my personal favorites, which entangles the concepts of Universal love with cybernetics, is not for everyone. But, who can resist that Mati Klarwein cover?

    * The Reefs of Earth. A tall tale of monsters in the form of the Dulanty children in Appalachia. Actually, this is probably the best one to try for the neo-phyte Laffertian. It just rings with his characteristic high pitch of lyricism, danger, and an oddly detached superhuman-ness. Even as the monsters “play” and raise bloody mayhem, literally.

    * The Devil is Dead. This tale of the undead Papadiabolis, is like a mad consipiracy theory mashed up with supernatural angst. It is like Jerry Cornelius as Count Dracula, by way of the Skull and Bones club at Yale. Highly recommended.

    This is just scratching the surface. If you catch the Lafferty bug, you will find that other prose tastes rather bland by comparison.

  5. @Daniel Dern: No, you are not. I want to see this. Perhaps Neil could do this as a charity function, or a promotion for the “Good Omens” TV show.

  6. 4) I actually read the whole thing and though the author seems to think Germany is wonderful (ironically the “engineering is the only worthy field” aspect that annoys me so often) and makes some good points, the whole article smells of cluelessness and privilege.

    The author actually tells people not to worry about politics, because politics supposedly have no input on most people’s lives, but to worry about GDP growth (apparently it’s too low, though at least Germany has been seeing steady growth for a decade now) and industrial progress instead. You have to be very privileged indeed to say something like that.

  7. The long article @4 has a number of interesting economic points/arguments (and even acknowledges some counter-arguments) but IMO no plausible idea of how to get there. I was struck by
    * Arjun Narayan tells me that good software design requires a deep understanding of chips, and vice versa. Say what? The titles on Narayan’s site indicate that he’s arguing about large issues, but not how correct his arguments are; my experience of the last 30-plus years is that a few people have been developing tools that insulate most software designers from hardware.
    * Industrial deepening leads to science fiction that is optimistic, while digital proliferation pushes it towards dystopia. Conclusion not supported by arguments; not only is correlation (all he offers) not causation, but the optimistic SF he cites was written when most writers didn’t have even Heinlein’s minimal understanding of physics (cf arguments in a recent thread here), resulting in vast overestimates of space possibilities and general underestimates of the possibilities of computers.

    @13: Lafferty was brilliant, but IMO mostly in shorter doses; I had a lot of trouble with Past Master and couldn’t finish his Camiroi-related novel Aurelia. I’m not sure I’d call his use of language “eccentric”, but it was certainly characteristic; there have been a few imitations, but Gaiman’s is the only worthwhile one I’ve read. My favorites are “Slow Tuesday Night” for its attitude, and “Narrow Valley” for sheer everything-you-assume-will-bite-you pyrotechnics. (It’s also one of a handful(?) of stories featuring three very-assorted ~scientists, although ISFDB for some reason doesn’t note this.) Note that he was distinctly conservative (see especially “Primary Education of the Camiroi”); the women in his work tend to be slotted into very narrow roles, although most of the men don’t have a lot of latitude either.
    Also: ISTR someone here pointing out that all of Kay fitted into the same universe, which has a history extremely similar to ours except where useful for the plot; he’s taken off on El Cid, Byzantium after the fall of Rome, the Adriatic when Venice was first a power, Britain before the Normans, etc. I’m not sure how to categorize Ysabel; it’s certainly entangled with a present-day town and the ruins near it and has the classic urban-fantasy trope of somebody getting gradually sucked into strangeness rather than being part of another ~world from the start, but it’s not like early de Lint or Bull.

    @15: a wanker strikes again. IIRC, Barnum never ran out of suckers either.

    I will watch @17 when I have more brain.

    @21: Cage is also sufficiently known for not making noise that when Igudesman was rapid-firing composer to imitate, Joo answered “Cage!” by freezing with his hands above the piano.

  8. Hey, I got my first title credit without even trying! Cool. But now I want to see it illustrated, too.

  9. (13) A lot of people have mentioned Slow Tuesday Night already, but let me to be the first to mention it with a link. It’s representative, it’s short, and it’s free. What’s not to like?

    But my personal favorite is “One at a Time”, which was in the stellar Orbit 4, and has been in a lot of collections since.

    At novel length I remember liking Space Chantey.

  10. 13) Kay’s Fionavar kind of has the same relation to the rest of his books that Eddison’s Zimiamvia does to his Mercury — a mythic place glimpsed only from afar (except in the Fionavar trilogy proper). The other books do all seem to take place on the same world (the World of Two Moons), with the possible exception of Tigana? And I’m guessing Ysabel gets called “urban fantasy” because it begins in the modern world (Provence, I believe). But it does have subtle connections with his other works.

    As for Lafferty, the only story of his that I’m familiar with is “Been a Long, Long Time,” which I first encountered in Brian Aldiss’ anthology Galactic Empires, vol. 1. It’s a story that has always stuck with me, although I didn’t realize Lafferty was the author until fairly recently. I should reread that anthology one of these days — it had some other great stories in it as well.

  11. It’s a shame what Ken Josenhans reports, that Lafferty’s collection “Nine Hundred Grandmothers” is so scarce and expensive. I always preferred his short stories to his novels, and that book has a lot of his best.

    Way, way back in 1970, in the third issue of my fanzine Phantasmicom (okay, I finally realized I can get italics even though the button on the reply form doesn’t work for me any more, by typing the code character by character), I published a short story by Lafferty. It was called “Crocodile” (and was a different story than his more famous “About a Secret Crocodile”).

    A friend of mine was getting into printing, and he offered to typeset and print it for me just to get the experience. Fan artist Grant Canfield did a handful of illustrations for it, and the final job looked very handsome. But after I mailed all the copies out (and PhCom was generally a 60-page fanzine, so this story was just a small part of it), I was looking through the issue and decided to see how close the illoes fell to the text they were illustrating. To my horror, some of the pictures had no accompanying text. I pulled out the manuscript and saw that parts of the story were missing, and parts were out of order. Apparently my friend still had some learning to do with his new equipment.

    Lafferty’s stories were so strange that a number of the letter writers on the issue told me they liked the story, and nobody told me they didn’t understand it.

  12. Oh, and Centipede Press has been doing Lafferty reprints, but they’re small runs that sell out pretty quickly.

  13. Dan Bloch: “Slow Tuesday Night” is my favorite Lafferty story. Lafferty’s story titles were often fun in their own right — “Continued on the Next Rock” has inspired several Scroll subheads over the years.

  14. Jeff Smith: Phantasmicom was a great fanzine in every way, exquisitely designed and reproduced, so it’s almost unfair that this anecdote revolves around a production mistake.

  15. My favorite Lafferty tales are “The World as Will and Wallpaper,” “All Pieces of a River Shore,” and “About a Secret Alligator.” I was probably first exposed to Lafferty by way of Robert Silverberg’s Alpha anthology series (Ballantine) in the early 1970s. Thanks, Bob.

  16. Most of Lafferty’s published novels and major short story collections have been put out as ebooks by SF Gateway — they’re available in Britain, certainly, and as far as I can see the US as well. Gateway is also going to put out a Best of R. A. Lafferty collection in print next year.

    Seconding Nine Hundred Grandmothers as a good place to start, and The Reefs of Earth for the novels.

  17. I feel we must have already done this but forgive me because there is only a half drunk bottle of tequila in the house for me to drink:

    Hello pixels my old friend,
    I’ve come to scroll with you again,
    Because a fanzine softly creeping,
    Filled my browser while I was sleeping,
    And the fanzine that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the scroll of pixels

  18. 2) What the jhup is this tanjing felgercarb?

    13) What James Moar said about Lafferty; if you were looking to dip your toe into his work, there’s one of those Wildside Press “Megapack” collections of some of his short stories, which I regarded as 74p well spent. I don’t know about print editions, but Lafferty is pretty well served in ebook versions… My introduction to him was a very old, very second-hand copy of Arrive at Easterwine, which I enjoyed rather a lot; I’d second Nine Hundred Grandmothers as a good collection to start with.

  19. 13) I’m fond of Fourth Mansions myself, but I’ll add my voice to the recommendations for the short stories and The Reefs of Earth as the best places to start with Lafferty. Arrive at Easterwine was too much for me and I’ve never been able to finish Past Master for some reason.

    Lafferty’s one of very few explicitly Catholic writers that I still enjoy these days. I think it’s partly because he pushes Chestertonian eccentricity to the limit and makes his own style out of it, and partly that he’s hardly ever smug.

  20. @Chip Hitchcock

    * Industrial deepening leads to science fiction that is optimistic, while digital proliferation pushes it towards dystopia. Conclusion not supported by arguments; not only is correlation (all he offers) not causation, but the optimistic SF he cites was written when most writers didn’t have even Heinlein’s minimal understanding of physics (cf arguments in a recent thread here), resulting in vast overestimates of space possibilities and general underestimates of the possibilities of computers.

    Going by the author’s own insistence that Germany’s industry is so great, we should have a lot of optimistic science fiction. However, our SF culture is small and much of German SF, particularly in more recent times is dystopian.

    He isn’t entirely wrong about the industry and knowledge transfer BTW. Germany still has a large manufacturing sector, usually specialised and/or high end products, because the dual apprenticeship system, i.e. apprenticeship in a company plus schooling, guarantees a skilled workforce and also gives experienced workers a chance to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. It’s just that he either never asked why this is so or at least never mention it in his very long article. Besides, the apprenticeship system applies to the service as well as to the manufacturing sector.

    6) If it bother her to see Christmas stuff for sale now, she shouldn’t come to Germany, because over here the supermarkets start carrying holiday cookies, sweets and the like as soon as September comes around, when absolutely no one wants to see or buy the stuff. Quite often, you go into the supermarket, looking for barbecue stuff, because it’s still warm, and find bloody Christmas stuff instead. And by the time, you actually want Christmas cookies, sweets, choloate, etc… the best stuff is often sold out. Christmas products for sale after Halloween don’t bother me, though I don’t want to see Christmas decorations or hear holiday music until after Eternity Sunday.

  21. Did Lafferty write the story about a fellow who could “pull” people and things from alternate universes (and does anyone know the name of that story?).

  22. (23) People were angry when they released Diablo 3 and it had been simplified for consoles; last I checked it was the top selling game on the Switch charts after its release. It’s not for me but I suspect there’s an audience of more casual, mobile gamers out there who might want a “proper” Diablo game. It’s just that they’re not going to be sitting in a room full of PC gamers.

  23. So I’m thinking that while the title of this scroll clearly describes an image (that we have yet to actually see), that’s not a caption. Here’s my suggestions for captions:

    “I _told_ you not to eat my library card.”

    “Weren’t these all on the shelves before I went out for my walk, leaving you here alone?”

    “Beware my power – Green Lantern’s cat!”

  24. @Daniel P. Dern:

    “I’m master of artform sequential
    Beware me and my cute credential!”

  25. I am the very model of a kitten with a library
    Neil Gaiman is my owner and he gave me books and set me free
    He thought that I would line them up in order alphabetical
    But leaving things on shelves for me is wholly antithetical

  26. @Oneiros

    People were angry because Diablo 3 at release was a not very good game with a cancerous growth of an auction house which a lot of people blamed on the console version, in some cases accurately . After six years of work, removal of the auction house, an expansion, and an added class it is a good game. That is not good game design and it lost Blizzard a lot of money and good will.

    Honestly the worst part of this debacle is that Activision Blizzard thought this was a good way to announce a mobile(credit card harvesting) game. It is another sign of the death of old Blizzard.

  27. @Magewolf which a lot of people blamed on the console version

    I’m pretty sure the auction house was long-gone by the time Diablo 3 came out on consoles? They certainly came several years after the original release. And I think you’re missing Oneiros’s point that perhaps Blizzard have a wider range of “people” in mind than you do.

    Reading: No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll, on James Nicholl’s recommendation. It’s light but good, with a pleasingly wide range of societies and settings to go with the treatments of gender in the stories.

  28. >Am I the only Filer who, having read this scroll’s title, felt sad, disappointed, let down or otherwise disconsulated by the scroll not including a picture that the title described, or at least a cartoon rendition?

    Yeah, where’s the cat?

  29. @Sophie Jane

    I was not clear. I meant that many people blamed the not goodness on the decision to go with a console version not the auction house. The console versions never had an auction house even though the PC version still had it when they came out.

    Sure, Activision Blizzard has it’s eye on the Asian and teen US market and I think even most of the people complaining think they are going to make a ton of money from the mobile game. But they could make a ton of money selling heroin on street corners across the US and China too, that does not make it a good thing.

  30. 13) Cat and JJ–Please tell me that appending any kind of -punk to genre terms for Nagata’s work is tongue-in-cheek. (I know, there’s an entry on nanopunk in Wikipedia, home of amateur literary theories. Emphasis on “amateur.”)

  31. (4) I love a little blurb that sets me to thinking deep thoughts. I didn’t get too deep on this one yet, but it’s interesting that the author points back to the 1950s and 1960s as time periods for big imaginings of world change in terms of technology. Because what jumps out most to me as a 21st century reader (and was one of the things that jumped out at me back in the 1980s when I was writing a senior thesis on an SF topic), perhaps more so because I’m a queer female reader, is that no matter how wild the tech and structures are, so many stories read like Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver transplanted to space, with husbands who go out to work and wives who keep house (even when keeping house is a matter of pushing buttons or putting a food pill on a tray next to that martini delivered to the husband when he returns from work). At least until well into the 60s when that started changing. The imagination blind spot for ways in which tech changes could affect family and social structures always got my attention more than the way the tech changes themselves were imagined.

    Which leads me to the thought that there is a sort of moving zeitgeist in SF in terms of what changes and issues are the most interesting to grapple with (or work on digesting and understanding) by imagining how futures can play out. The social structure and family and gender roles seemed very stable at a time when tech had gone through a lot of changes, so that’s what the authors wanted to think and write about, and left the default settings in place for the stuff that seemed set in stone.

    The 60s and 70s saw massive social change and SF turned a lot of its energy to digesting and grappling and extrapolating those, and then the big changes in computers, internet, high tech etc. brought structure and infrastructure back around with cyberpunk and a renewed interest in harder SF and even space opera.

    At this point, a lot of the latest technological revolution feels a little more settled, and in the last decade or so we’ve gone through a lot of social changes and thinking about gender roles and disabilities and gender fluidity and sexual orientations, and the “lull” in big world imaginings seems to reflect an interest in grappling with those changes and telling stories that explore and contextualize them and imagine futures with those things taken into consideration. It’s not so much a loss of interest or focus as much as the lens changes and homes in on different things.

    Which also leads me to the (newish to me, probably old hat to many) recognition that as much as we like to talk about how much SF represents wild imaginations adventuring into futures, so much of it is really grounded in whatever the biggest current concerns are in the here and now, and that puts more boundaries around the stories writers become more interested in telling and readers become more interested in reading, than those of us who love the “unbounded” feeling of SF care to admit…

  32. @Cora: I am interested but not surprised to hear that @18’s conclusion is flat-out wrong rather than just unsupported. It’s possible he was confusing SF with horror, which I’ve seen reported as cycling with the (local?) economy — people being less interested in being terrified when the daily grind (or lack thereof) is quite terrifying enough, thankyouverymuch — but that’s cyclic (so far) and on a much shorter period (5-20 years depending on measures, phase of the moon, etc.).

  33. (7) This reminds me of the story of Alan Shepard (or possibly another early Mercury astronaut), sitting in his capsule waiting for liftoff and thinking “This was all designed by the lowest bidder.”

  34. (2) TV Tropes has (because of course they do) a lengthy list of alien swears and the like, at Pardon My Klingon.

    It’s not their best-curated article (not that their curation is anything to write home about even on the best day), but it’s entertaining. And, of course, like all their pages, a potential major time-suck–you have been warned!

    I kinda bounced off Lafferty way back in my teens. Always meant to go back and give him another try as a grown-up, but never quite got around to it.

  35. Russell Letson asks Cat and JJ–Please tell me that appending any kind of -punk to genre terms for Nagata’s work is tongue-in-cheek. (I know, there’s an entry on nanopunk in Wikipedia, home of amateur literary theories. Emphasis on “amateur.”)

    Nagata herself has used that term to describe her writing in interviews she’s done going back a decade which is likely where the Wiki author picked it up. I’m not going to cite a source right now but it’s an accurate descriptor for that fiction she does. Wiki is only rarely where something originates, it’s always far more likely that the writer pilfered the idea elsewhere.

    Us? Tongue in cheek? Never!

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