Pixel Scroll 1/1/17 The Early Scroll Catches The Pixel

(1) CELEBRATING IN ORBIT. Happy New Year from the International Space Station.

(2) MAKING IT COUNT. Camestros Felapton celebrates a milestone on his blog – “A Thousand Posts of Pedantic Nonsense”.

WordPress tells me I’ve written a thousand posts here. Gosh. [OK, technically some of those are by Timothy but they still have my name on them]

I assume this means I level up and get extra blogging powers.

(3) PERMANENT PARTY STARTS TODAY. Cancer survivor Pat Cadigan has an even better reason to be giddy — “Hi, I’m Not Dead Yet—Hahahahaha, Suck It, Mortality!”

I’m glad to be alive but I can’t help being a little nervous. I have now exceeded the original estimate of the time I had left. I’m not in any way surprised as it’s been obvious for a year that I would. And I still can’t help being a little nervous because, as the kids say, sh!t just got real. I knew I was going to do this. I never believed I was going to do anything else. But it’s no longer something in the future; now it’s put up or shut up: You’re on, kid––careful you don’t trip on your super-hero cape as you make your entrance.

Every day is still going to be a party. Every day is Anything-Can-Happen Day until further notice. Of course, every day is Anything-Can-Happen Day for everyone, not just me. Indeterminacy Are Us. But certain probabilities are a little higher for me and it’s the sort of thing that I can’t help being aware of, sometimes more so than other times.

(4) LIFE CHANGING. Jason Ahlquist “Complexity Makes Suffering Invisible”

In 2016, I saw a child die in the street. That’s not a metaphor. It was a violent crime that actually happened. I haven’t talked about it publicly for two reasons. The first reason was that it didn’t feel right to do so while his family and friends mourned. The second reason was that the event entered into a complex stream of events in my life that have been dramatically changing me. It wasn’t so much that I watched a death; it was that the death was framed by other experiences reacting together on my insides. And all those things took a while to fully catalyze.

(5) YOU’RE FIRED SOME MORE. A dealer and former PCC director who offended management tells Bleeding Cool “What It Looks Like To Get Excommunicated From Phoenix Comicon”

Anabel Martinez used to be a director at Phoenix Comicon and she, as well as other folk, has been critical of Phoenix Comicon’s move to restricting volunteers to those who pay to be member of the Blue Ribbon Army fan society, of which Phoenix Comicon’s Matt Solberg is also a board member.

Martinez says –

Matt will always spin it when people voice concerns. My big critique that got me banned from a convention I love and adore? Being upset that volunteers have to pay for the privilege to volunteer now. He says I stepped down as a marketing director – that was a volunteer gig.

Solberg’s side of things is —

Since her dismissal in 2010 Ms. Martinez has pursued a vendetta against Phoenix Comicon, our staff, and myself. She has increasingly grown vindictive and bullying in her comments and actions. We made a business decision as a privately held company that we no longer need to tolerate her behavior by allowing her to participate within our event. I stand by the letter I sent her which she has posted to social media.

(6) MORE ON ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS. Blogcritics Celina Summers, in “Publisher All Romance Ebooks: Closing Hits New Low In Stealing From Authors”, wants to know where the money is.

The ebook industry has undergone several transitions in the past few years, where authors have become increasingly victimized by e-pirates, vanity presses, and scams designed to keep writers from making money on their intellectual property. Earlier today, December 28, 2016, the industry hit a new low when longtime e-tailer All Romance E-Books (Are), LLC (with its non-romance genre partner Omni Lit) released a surprise notice to its authors and publishers. ARe’s CEO and owner, Lori James, announced that the retailer was closing its doors in three days’ time…

Because let’s be for real here. It’s not like ARe’s owners aren’t paying authors because they don’t have the money for the sales. They do have it. They banked all that cash and are now trying to keep it. And by hanging the threat of filing for bankruptcy out there, the company is attempting to threaten authors into agreeing legally to let them retain that money without future legal responsibility.

While that might be true, it’s probably not true – when businesses go under, the liquid assets generally have already gone into salaries and wages and any operating expenses needed to make the business appear viable up til the bitter end.

(7) SFWA CANDIDATE. Mary Robinette Kowal is running for President of SFWA in 2017.

I’m running for the position of President. For four years, I was privileged to work with an extremely active and committed board, first as Secretary of SFWA and then as Vice President. I stepped down because I believe that new voices are vital to a service organization such as SFWA. But there are still things that I want to see accomplished, particularly trying to find affordable health care for our members.  I feel that after five years off the board, the time is right to run again.

(8) ANCHORS AWEIGH. The 2017 Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat will depart aboard a passenger ship from Kiel, Germany on July 28.

The base price of $1700 covers the full week of intensive seminars, writing exercises, and free writing time, plus meals, double-occupancy lodging on the ship, and a cruise to four different European destinations. (We have arranged for a hotel, breakfast, and transfer to the ship for $150, but staying there is optional.) Attendees will also be invited to attend live recordings of episodes of Hugo award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells.

At sea. Seriously.

Desiree Burch, John Berlyne, Wesley Chu, Aliette de Bodard, Jasper Fforde, Ken Liu, Thomas Olde Heuvelt and Carsten Polzin will also participate.


  • Born January 1, 1929 — Suit actor Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla) is born in Japan.
  • Born January 1, 1938 – Frank Langella.

(10) THAT LOVELY OLD PARTY IN 221B. Sherlock is changing — Variety got it from the horse’s mouth, “Benedict Cumberbatch on How Sherlock Holmes Is Softening”

Is Sherlock Holmes going soft? Benedict Cumberbatch explained to an audience of British grandees in London that his character has been on a journey of enlightenment over the past three seasons of “Sherlock,” and in season four, which premieres on New Year’s Day, audiences will see him humanized further, or as one journalist crudely put it: “He’s slightly less of a d**k.”

“He is becoming slightly more… well, in a very clear way… responsible for his actions,” Cumberbatch explained during an onstage discussion that followed a screening of “The Six Thatchers,” the opening episode of season four.

“But I think he understands that it’s a slow, slow process that began in the very first instance when he met John [Doctor Watson], who supplies the missing piece of that jigsaw that is him. That friendship, that partnership in crime, has been the humanizing element all the way through [the three seasons], and I think he is now becoming more of a human-being.”

(11) CLARKE CENTER. “The Hard Problem: An Audio Voyage”, Episode 3 of Into the Impossible, the podcast of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination, features Kim Stanley Robinson, Adam Tinkle, and Marina Abramovic.

In winter of 2015, the Clarke Center produced a collaborative project with the performance artist Marina Abramovic and the science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.

The multi-day workshop cultivated a series of interactions between a story that Stan was writing about a multi-generational spaceship heading to another star, and the performance art gestures of Marina’s that are a journey into our inner self. We improvised readings and performance actions to find the ways in which these seemingly diametric experiences touched on the common idea of how we extend our sense of time and space from the moment to the eternal.

Out of this, we created an installation with multiple audio tracks, which was then further developed for the Venice Biennale. We also made a short film, which you can find below, and the audio tracks were mixed and choreographed by Adam Tinkle into the podcast.


(12) FISHER BID FAREWELL NEW ORLEANS STYLE. New Orleans’ Leijorettes and Chewbacchus krewes held a parade to honor Carrie Fisher.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, JJ, David K.M.Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark-kitteh.]

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45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/1/17 The Early Scroll Catches The Pixel

  1. 8) Kiel is only about 2 and a half hours from where I live, but I guess I’ll pass on this. Not a cruise ship fan at all and would probably be the world’s worst passenger, since I know too much about the industry. Though I’d say that a writing class is a useful thing to do during a cruise.

    @Soon Lee
    Totally agree.

  2. @6 “And by hanging the threat of filing for bankruptcy out there, the company is attempting to threaten authors into agreeing legally to let them retain that money without future legal responsibility.”

    This makes no sense. The authors would have a claim on the assets of the bankrupt company if royalties are owed. The authors would (probably) be ordinary, unsecured creditors.

    The company MAY be offering to release the rights to whatever for a promise not to sue so the author’s rights would not be tied up in bankruptcy proceedings. That sort of thing is pretty normal. It would be relatively easy if you were owed substantial royalties to sue for payment in court. But if the company has no assets (especially liquid assets), suing them is costly with no positive outcome. If the company does not owe you much in royalties, it is almost always better to settle and walk.

    Easiest thing to check is if they are making payroll, if they have been making their FICA payments to the government, and if they have been paying in their sales tax receipts. That should be easily determined. If they have not been making those payments, then getting the rights clear and walking away is probably the best course of action.

    BTW – this has nothing to do with Mr. Glyer’s commentary. His observation is correct if the owners hold on to the end paying their own salaries and hoping to salvage the company.

  3. I just finished watching Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle, and if Steve Davidson is reading this, I will say that it’s worth joining Amazon Prime just to see it (nevermind all the free shipping).

    I’ve never read the book, and I understand considerable liberties are taken with it, but day-um, this is a gripping story. Some of the reviews have called it “slow,” but if that’s so (and I didn’t particularly think that to be the case) there is a reason for it. The seeds are carefully planted during the first few episodes, and it winds up in episodes 8-10 as a terrific payoff. Rufus Sewell, as Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith, is outstanding. He is, as the show makes clear, a manipulative SOB, but you can’t keep your eyes off him. He really deserves an Emmy nomination.

    I may put the entire season on my Long Form ballot, depending on how I rank the movies I’ve seen this year. If not, eps #2, #5 and (especially) #10 will be under consideration for Short Form.

  4. @airboy:

    You may have missed the earlier report, but ARe’s bankruptcy threat is couched in terms of “accept this low percentage of the royalties you’re actually due as payment in full, or else we may go bankrupt, in which case you could end up with nothing.”

  5. (7) SFWA CANDIDATE. Best of luck to MRK, but oh lordy, expect weasels on the horizon. :-/

    SF Reading: I finished M.C. Planck’s The Kassa Gambit on the 1st. This was a decent far future alien invasion story with a mystery about the invasion, a lot of paranoia, and a little very clunky romance (which I knew going in). It had some interesting parts and I liked some of the characters, but it did feel like a first novel. It kept me engaged, though, and I already know his writing’s improved based on having read several chapters of his first “World of Prime” book and liked it (I’m definitely going to continue with that book/series).

    I read most of the book in December, but the way I’m recording things – I have to pick a specific date – it’ll go down as a 2017 book. (I use the day I finished it, though I’m debating using the 31st.) Still, my first book finished in the new year, wow, if I could keep this up! 😉

  6. I also finished bingeing The Man in the High Castle a few days back, and yeah those last few episodes were amazing. The finale is definitely going on my Short Form ballot.


    There’s an interview with MRK in the latest Locus where she says how rewarding working in SFWA was, and that she’s “trying really hard not to run for office again.” I guess she didn’t manage to resist the temptation!

  8. Happy new year from Scotland, where most of us are still sleeping off the Hogmanay hangovers.

    I hope someone remembered to put a stake into 2016’s heart and bury it head down under a crossroads at midnight in a coffin full of garlic just in case…

  9. I have a question of fannish etiquette, which I hope at least one Filer feels qualified to answer, in order to settle a family argument.

    Suppose I were attending a regional SF convention in my home town. And suppose that the Guest of Honor of that con had written a whole series of middle-grade fantasy novels, beloved of my entire family.

    If I bring all eleven books in the series to be signed, is that a rude imposition on the beloved author’s time, not to mention an imposition on whoever is standing behind me in the autograph line? Or is that a proper expression of enthusiasm and devotion?


  10. 10) Sherlock’s evolution is a common sort of thing for outlier character types, who become less sharp and more rounded over time, especially in a series. Frasier from Cheers and Frasier is a classic example—the Frasier at the start of Cheers is very much less likeable and is always the butt of the joke, as compared to the Frasier of his own series.

  11. Seth:

    …in part on the length of the line, and how long the people behind you have already been waiting.

    Also bear in mind that signing books is work, in a literal physical sense: signing one’s name a thousand times is hard on most people’s writing hands. The beloved author is likely to be happier to sign two books and spend a minute being told that your whole family loves the series, or why your youngest child loves the protagonist, than spending that same amount of time writing their name in the front of all eleven books.

    If you bring all 11 with you, be prepared to leave eighth or even ten in your bag, or put them back in the bag, either if the line is long or if you’re asked by a con staffer.

  12. (8) And the cruise is going over the Baltic Sea just one week before Worldcon 75, this year conveniently enough situated right on the Baltic Sea in Helsinki!

    Kiel does not have a ferry connection to Helsinki, but there is a regular ferry connection from nearby Travemünde to Helsinki. And if you’ve had enough of ships or just plain hate ferries, there’s also a regular flight from Hamburg (approx. 1 hour by car from Kiel) to Helsinki.

  13. “If I bring all eleven books in the series to be signed, is that a rude imposition on the beloved author’s time, not to mention an imposition on whoever is standing behind me in the autograph line? Or is that a proper expression of enthusiasm and devotion?”

    At MAC2, they had signs saying things like “max 4 items” for some authors.

  14. I’m reminded of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s foreword to Good Omens: “Etiquette tip: it’s okay, more or less, to ask an author to sign your arm, but not good manners to then nip around to the tattoo parlour next door and return half an hour later to show them the inflamed result.”

  15. In the beginning was the scroll. And the scroll was with pixels. And the scrolls was pixels.

    The pixel shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

  16. For fans of the utterly bizarre, I came across this video on Vimeo this morning. With snippets of Alan Moore, Ken Campbell talking 23, various Doctors, and the like (plus a Wicker Man homage), it’s a 45 minute look at the career of music pranksters and art Discordians The Justified Ancients Of Mu-Mu (also known as the KLF).

    I’m pretty sure this is official, as there’s video I hadn’t seen before, and it’s 1/1/2017 release fits the rule of 23, but who knows? They had some quite odd fans…


    (Sharing due to rare content of Ken Campbell talking about his stage production of Illuminatus! which is one of the odder bits of British SF history.)

  17. @Seth (extending @Hampus): note that there’s nothing preventing you from getting back in a line if you have a large number of books to sign. My take is that even if there isn’t a posted limit, asking an author to sign more than 3-4 books when there is a line behind you is rude (at best); remember that there are probably other people in the line who love the author’s work as much as you do.

  18. Seth, take all the books. Find out what the autograph limits are when you get there. Then either break the books up amongst your family or get back in the end of the line after the first lot is signed. If there is no limit, please do NOT have them sign all 11 at once unless there’s no line. Break it into two or three lots and go back to the end of the line after each lot is signed.

    Also, write what you want the author to inscribe (briefly!) on a sticky note in clear handwriting and stick it on the Title page. Have the page open for the author as you approach the table. “To the Gordon Family” for example. Hand each book open to the title page to the author as they finish signing the last book. Limit chat with the author during the signing. Speeds things up considerably.

    ULTRA “once and future autograph line wrangler” GOTHA

  19. My rule of thumb is thathaf if there’s a line, any line not just a monster line, you should limit yourself to three and be prepared to be told just one.

    If there’s no line, the author may enjoy a chat with you about your whole family that loves the books, and happily sign everything of theirs that you’ve brought.

  20. As an author who has occasionally been in this position, it depends also on signing speed. I sign very very fast, I have wrists of iron, my signature’s a squiggle, and it astonishes me anybody wants it. But I have toured with people who write v..e…r…y…s…l…o…w…l…y. Bringing me eleven books is like “Wow! That is so cool!” Bringing eleven books to said other author is like…at about book four you start to feel really guilty, because it really is a major time investment.

  21. Also (although this might not make much difference for a stack of 11 books, because that’s a LOT of books) in general authors and fellow line-dwellers may be a little more inclined to look more favorably on someone who’s getting stuff signed specifically to themselves or their loved ones… as opposed to “just put your signature on all these things” which could be a collector just trying to add monetary value.

  22. (1) I’ve been wondering why the interior of the ISS looks NOTHING like any depiction of a space ship (or vice versa: why no fictional space ship looks anything like the ISS inside). Specifically, the way there’s so much exposed wiring, ducts, and other innards. It *looks* like an extremely messy environment, but obviously that can’t (functionally) be the case.

    So why do they do this? Is it because they’re always working on various bits and it’s important to have everything accessible to everyone, all the time? Is it because there are no “civilians” on the ISS: everyone is intelligent crew who may need to do any task?

    Or is free fall somehow less messy than a gravity environment? Do they have enormously less of a problem with dust & other detritus than we do down here?

    When I google about, I see that things collecting behind panels was one of the many problems on the Mir space station, so maybe they’re trying to avoid that.

    What do you guys think? Did the clean white look of the Ares in “The Martian” movie strike you as odd, too? Aside from the fact that it’s MUCH too large inside: I thought their choice of a longer trip would be more dramatic if the spacecraft looked more cramped and space-craft-y inside.

  23. Judging from the pictures, the Krewe of Chewbacchus has awesome parades. I for one need to join the New Orleans Noisicians Coalition.

    [one more godstalk]

  24. @Doctor science From what I’ve heard, the interior of ISS was pristine when it was launched. But over the years they have made many changes and upgrades, people have wanted extra cables for this and that. So the result is what you see now- basically the same reason older houses often have exposed wiring.

  25. @Doctor Science: SF takes time to catch up to reality, and media SF is (or at least used to be) commonly held to be a couple of decades behind written SF. People are still trying to grasp how bloody hard space is; maybe in another couple of decades the ISS look will show up in top-line media spacecraft. (I assume you’re deliberately ignoring all the bits-hanging-out spacecraft belonging to marginal characters — I wouldn’t compare Firefly or the Millennium Falcon to the ISS.) Or maybe it won’t; my first reaction was to wonder how much more a massively-detailed set would cost than the sort of 2001-style sterility that is still popular — but I don’t know how many sets in (e.g.) Rogue One existed anywhere but a computer, which could produce masses of detail for minimal cost.

  26. @Seth Gordon: My experience is as above; for popular authors/long lines, especially, I’m used to a limit like “three books, then back of the line for the next three.”

    Once we were at a Jim Butcher signing with a long, long line and a limit of three books. My other half (the Butcher fan) hadn’t known this and had more items. While talking with a couple of people ahead of or behind us (I forget which), IIRC they offered to to have a couple of my other half’s books signed, since they didn’t have three and they were nice people. 😉 As I recall, Butcher was amused and told my other half to pull out the other ones he still had in his bag. (It probably didn’t hurt that he was selling a poster or map of some sort and we bought one, though that’s not why we bought one.) Note: My bad memory may have mangled one or more elements of this story.

    @Doctor Science: The habitate from “The Martian” looked more like what I expected – not “sci-fi” like the Ares did. But a lot of space ships I think of from movies or TV shows are set so far future that I don’t expect them to look anything like the ISS’s inside.

  27. @ Doctor Science(1) I’ve been wondering why the interior of the ISS looks NOTHING like any depiction of a space ship (or vice versa: why no fictional space ship looks anything like the ISS inside). Specifically, the way there’s so much exposed wiring, ducts, and other innards. It *looks* like an extremely messy environment, but obviously that can’t (functionally) be the case.

    Not too long ago there was a high-def video tour of the ISS going around (I think it was linked in a scroll). If you can find it, watch it and count laptop computers. Holy cow, what a bunch of laptop computers.

  28. I think the author is to blame, if he published more books than he could sign in one setting.


  29. @Bill: “Holy cow, what a bunch of laptop computers.”

    In a zero-gee environment, can they really be called laptops? 😉

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