Pixel Scroll 11/5/16 Scroll Ain’t Nothin’ But Pixel Misspelled

(1) ACKERMAN SQUARE DEDICATION. Although the neighbors didn’t succeed in having Forry Ackerman’s last home designated a cultural landmark, the city did name a Los Feliz neighborhood intersection in his honor.

The official dedication is November 17.

Come join the ceremony to honor Uncle Forry with commemorative plaques installed on all 4 corners of Franklin and Vermont where he spent so many happy decades visiting with fans and friends. The public is invited to meet at Franklin and Vermont (where the signs will be installed), southwest side, near House of Pies at 9:30 AM, November 17, 2016

(2) SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH. Gail Z. Martin explains “Why #HoldOnToTheLight Matters” at Magical Words.

The 100+ authors who agreed to write for #HoldOnToTheLight run the fame gamut. But all of us have fans and readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, people who hold us and our books in some regard. And to those people, however many they might be, our opinion matters. Our story matters.

We lost so many people in Southern fandom at the beginning of this year. I got tired to saying ‘good-bye’ and being invited to wakes. It made me mad, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Then in April I saw the #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign in Supernatural fandom and how the show’s stars used their fame and their connection to fans to do something really good.

And I wondered—what would happen if the authors whose books create the genre spoke out with their own stories about the impact of mental health issues on them, their characters, and their books?

We might not have the reach or following TV stars have, but we have some following. And when people in the public eye speak out and own taboo issues, the stigma lessens. We could encourage fans and stand in solidarity with the ones who are struggling and let them know that they are not alone.

Most of the blog posts are up now, with a few more straggling in. Life gets in the way, even of good intentions. I’m gobsmacked by the honesty, the willingness to share without flinching, the vulnerability revealed in the posts. You can read them here, as well as new ones when they post.

(3) HANDS OFF THE BRAND. Beset by internet thieves. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson calls out for “Help!”

Working in conjunction with our licensee – Futures Past Editions (a division of Digital Parchment Services, one of the original ebook publishers), we have been steadily producing a number of different publications.

These include – The Amazing Stories Best Of The Year anthologies –

Special “Anniversary” reprints –

Amazing Stories Classics novels –

and Authorized Replicas of individual issues of the magazine …

But there’s a fly in the ointment: lots and lots of other people seem to think they can willy-nilly use the Amazing Stories name to produce their own versions of the same things.  Right now, the bulk of Experimenter’s budget is being spent on intellectual property attorneys.  We’re pleased with their findings so far (but these kinds of things take a lot of time), but in the meantime – if you purchase a facsimile edition of an Amazing Stories issue (or a poster reprinting one of its fantastic covers) from anyone other than Futures Past Editions or this website, not a dime will be going to help fund this project.  It will instead go to people who obviously do not respect the history of the magazine (or the law).

(4) THE FOUNDATIONS OF UTOPIA. In the November 4 Guardian, China Mieville writes about Sir Thomas More’s Utopia on its 500th anniversary, explaining why the utopian impulse is still important in our cynical age.

If you know from where to set sail, with a friendly pilot offering expertise, it should not take you too long to reach Utopia. Since the first woman or man first yearned for a better place, dreamers have dreamed them at the tops of mountains and cradled in hidden valleys, above clouds and deep under the earth – but above all they have imagined them on islands.

… We don’t know much of the society that Utopus and his armies destroyed – that’s the nature of such forced forgetting – but we know its name. It’s mentioned en swaggering colonial passant, a hapax legomenon pilfered from Gnosticism: “for Abraxa was its first name”. We know the history of such encounters, too; that every brutalised, genocided and enslaved people in history have, like the Abraxans, been “rude and uncivilised” in the tracts of their invaders.

A start for any habitable utopia must be to overturn the ideological bullshit of empire and, unsentimentally but respectfully, to revisit the traduced and defamed cultures on the bones of which some conqueror’s utopian dreams were piled up. “Utopia” is to the political imaginary of betterness as “Rhodesia” is to Zimbabwe, “Gold Coast” to Ghana.

(5) FIFTH! Always remember the 5th of November. Preferably more than once.

Catholic dissident Guy Fawkes and 12 co-conspirators spent months planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605. But their assassination attempt was foiled the night before when Fawkes was discovered lurking in a cellar below the House of Lords next to 36 barrels of gunpowder. Londoners immediately began lighting bonfires in celebration that the plot had failed, and a few months later Parliament declared November 5 a public day of thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night, has been around in one form or another ever since. Though originally anti-Catholic in tone, in recent times it has served mainly as an excuse to watch fireworks, make bonfires, drink mulled wine and burn Guy Fawkes effigies (along with the effigies of current politicians and celebrities).

(6) ALLEGRO NON TROOPER. Ryan Britt reacts to news that “‘Starship Troopers’ Reboot Will Give Rico His Real Name Back” at Inverse.

In Robert A. Heinlein’s classic science fiction novel Starship Troopers, Johnny Rico’s name was actually “Juan” Rico, but the 1997 film turned him into a white guy. Now, a new reboot of Starship Troopers will stick closer to the novel, which probably means Rico will be Filipino again.

Though the Paul Verhoeven take on Starship Troopers is considered something of a kitsch classic among sci-fi movie fans, it’s tone and characters differ enough from the Heinlein text warrant a totally new film adaptation. According to the Hollywood Reporter producer Neal H. Moritz is gearing up to make a new Starship Troopers for Columbia Pictures. The continuity of this film will have nothing to do with the 1997 film nor any of the direct-to-video sequels. It “is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take.” This means that even the intelligent alien insects — the Arachnids of Klendathu — might be completely reimagined, too.

(7) BABBITT OBIT.  Natalie Babbitt (1932-2016) died October 31.

Natalie Babbitt, the children’s author and illustrator who explored immortality in her acclaimed book “Tuck Everlasting,” has died in her Connecticut home. She was 84.

Natalie Babbitt poses with the cast of “Tuck Everlasting” on Broadway in April.

Babbitt’s husband, Samuel Babbitt, confirmed she died on Monday in Hamden, Connecticut. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was under hospice care at home when she died.

Babbitt wrote or illustrated more than 20 books, but she is perhaps best known for tackling the complex subject of death in her novel “Tuck Everlasting.”

…In 1966, she collaborated with her husband on a children’s book called “The Forty-ninth Magician,” her first published work. While her husband, a university administrator, became too busy to continue writing, the book was only the beginning in Babbitt’s nearly 50-year career. Her last published work was “The Moon Over High Street” in 2012.

Babbitt received the Newbery Honor Medal, the American Library Association’s Notable Book designations, and The New York Times’ Best Book designations, among other awards for her work.


Cartoonist Al Capp, creator of the Li’l Abner cartoon strip, conceived of a day in fictitious Dogpatch, USA, when all unmarried ladies (including the character Sadie Hawkins) could pursue their men. If the men were caught, marriage was unavoidable. The idea took off in real life—and in November 1938, the first recorded “girls-ask-boys” Sadie Hawkins Day dance was held. Today, the observance is usually celebrated on a Saturday in early November.

(9) BULLISH ON TWINKIES. The official health food of sci-fi readers goes public: “Hostess Brands, Purveyor of Twinkies and Ho-Hos, Returning to Wall Street”.

Hostess Brands Inc. is expected to start trading as a public company on Monday, putting the snack business to its first broad test of investor appetite since it was bought out of liquidation almost four years ago.

The 86-year-old brand behind the famous Twinkies cakes is due to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market with the ticker symbol TWNK.

(10) MAKING OF A SELF-PROFESSED “NASTY WOMAN”. Melinda Snodgrass covers a lot of personal history to make a point in “What Trump’s Misogyny Really Says”.

In due course and after a side trip to Austria to study opera I went on to graduate with a major in history, Magna cum laude, and a minor in music.  I enter law school.  I was part of the first really large wave of women entering law school and in the first week the male students made it very clear that they expected the women to type their papers for them.  Some of us refused.  Others didn’t, they knuckled under maybe to avoid being called fucking cunts.  The dean found out and to his credit it put a stop to that nonsense.

At the end of three years I graduate in the top 10% of my class, pass the bar and go looking for a job.  Eventually I end up in a corporate law firm.  Literally the first day I’m at work I’m in my small office in the back when I hear loud male voices in the outer office.  “I hear Charlie went and hired himself a girl!”  “Lets go see the girl.”   And then standing in the door of my office are six or seven men all staring at me.  I had that sick feeling I’d experienced back in college, but I was older and tougher so I made Oook oook noises and pretended to scratch under my arm like a chimpanzee in the zoo.  They got the message and vanished out of my doorway.

(11) CASH IN HAND. The Guardian previews the merchandise: “JK Rowling’s hand-drawn Tales of Beedle the Bard go up for auction”.

A handwritten copy of JK Rowling’s story collection The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which she made for the publisher who first accepted Harry Potter for publication, is set to fetch up to £500,000 when it is auctioned next month.

Rowling handwrote and illustrated six copies of her collection of fairytales set in the Harry Potter universe, giving them as presents to “those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books”. A seventh copy, which Rowling made to raise money for her charity Lumos, was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 2007 for £1.95m.

(12) FOR A RAINY DAY. We may not have Damien Walter to kick around anymore, however, here’s one of his Guardian essays that appeared in August while I was out of action — “Bureaumancy: a genre for fantastic tales of the deeply ordinary”.

There’s nothing wrong with being a bureaucrat. So you’re a tiny cog in a machine made of abstract rules, paperwork, and the broken dreams of those who do not understand either. So what? You’re just misunderstood. Without you, nobody would know where to file their TPS reports. Nobody would even know what a TPS report is.

But writers understand. As species of personality go, the writer and the bureaucrat are closely related: they’re deskbound creatures who enjoy the comfortable certainties of Microsoft Office and dazzling us with wordcraft, be it small-print legalese or the impenetrable prose of literary fiction. Of course, Kafka understood the true power of the bureaucrat because he was one – and thus portrayed bureaucracy as a looming, all-powerful presence. The wonderful Douglas Adams imagined an entire planet faking the apocalypse just to get all its middle managers to evacuate in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, while in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, hell itself is one endless system of bureaucratic red tape, where doomed souls are made to sit through every last codicil and sub-paragraph of the rules pertaining to Health and Safety – all 40,000 volumes of them.

(13) KEVIN SMITH’S NEXT FLASH. He’s back — “The Flash: Kevin Smith’s ‘Killer Frost’ Episode Synopsis Revealed”.

Smith previously helmed the season 2 episode of The Flash, ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ and is set to direct an episode of Supergirl’s second season as well. He has been teasing both episodes on social media; for The Flash, he promised more action than in ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’, revealed the ‘Killer Frost’ episode title, and confirmed the inclusion of Dr. Alchemy — who is proving to be a major antagonist in The Flash season 3. So, much of the ‘Killer Frost’ synopsis seems to confirm details we previously knew or could deduce.

As for Smith’s return behind the camera, since ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ was well received by critics and fans, it stands to reason ‘Killer Frost’ may be similarly received by viewers. Smith himself has earned plenty geek credit given his own status as a fan of comics, so it’s likely he brings a unique perspective to The Flash.

(14) UNBOUND WORLDS LAUNCHES. The Unbound Worlds SFF site is holding a book giveaway contest to attract readers’ attention.

“Unbound Worlds has officially launched, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re giving away a carefully curated library of TWENTY-THREE science fiction and fantasy titles! Enter below by November 18, 2016, at 11 PM EST for your chance to win.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, rcade, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano (who is not to blame for the dialect in the version used).]

50 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/5/16 Scroll Ain’t Nothin’ But Pixel Misspelled

  1. Pixel haze all in my eyes
    Don’t know if it’s day or night
    You got me scrollin’, scrollin’ my mind
    Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?


  2. (1) I know where that is. Have eaten at the House of Pies.

    (2) Very good.

    (4) Wut? I liked the UKL quotes.

    (6) Probably won’t be better than the CGI cartoon, though.

    (10) standing ovation

    (12) No more Damien? Now who’s gonna be the subject of the Two Minute Hate?

  3. 8) My old boss at the textbook store where I ran the trade book action met his wife at Dogpatch when he was playing Lil’ Abner and she was playing Daisy Mae. Those aren’t euphemisms–they were hired actors at the amusement park.

    My boss was pleased that we sold Denis Kitchens’ Lil’ Abner collections, and was pleased that I’d sold Kitchens a book when ordering from him. Donald Harington’s Let Us Build Us A City was recently remaindered and I’d ordered five cases cheap. (Should’ve ordered ten. I sold those hand over fist at five bucks a pop, three if we liked you.) There was a chapter in it about Buffalo City and Dogpatch. I was pretty sure Denis Kitchen would want a copy, especially at that price, and sure enough, he did. Sent us some nice promo material on Lil’ Abner to boot. I still have that poster, I think.

  4. (5) Obligatory sf reference: No, not V for Vendetta, too obvious! I’m thinking of Against the Light by Dave Duncan, a retelling of the events leading up to the Gunpowder Plot set in an alternate fantasy world.

  5. So my husband and I watched the movie V for Vendetta this evening, as one does on November 5, and it got us to thinking. Has anyone made a good movie of Fahrenheit 451? Neither of us have ever encountered one. Any recommendations from Filers welcome….

  6. (6) Rico is only rarely called “Juan” in Starship Troopers (and, of course, his Filipino heritage is revealed only at the end). He is almost always called “Johnnie” throughout the novel (never “Johnny”).

    (12) Other comical treatments of bureaucracy gone wild are Jack Vance’s novella “Dodkin’s Job” and the memo about bathroom tissue distribution units (BTDUs) in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. The latter, if you’ve never read the novel, is at http://soquoted.blogspot.com/2006/03/memo-from-fedland.html.

  7. Cassy B.: I assume you’ve either never seen Truffaut’s adaptation from the mid-1960s, or you have seen it and don’t think it’s a good movie. It does suffer from being Truffaut’s only film in English, perhaps, but it’s worth looking at. (I happen to have seen it before reading the novel, in the early ’70s, so perhaps my opinion is more generous than it otherwise would be.)

  8. 10) Most attempts by bullies to demean or diminish someone else stem from a desire to control, to be in a position of power, as Ms. Snodgrass so aptly points out. That describes Trump in spades.

  9. 3 – thanks for the coverage; the books (most are available in both electronic and print editions) are really fine quality: in addition to the contents (pulp classics with recognizable names like Bradbury & Wells & Merritt, etc), the product itself is well made: the books are “hefty”, with clean type and the covers are “slick”. Just make sure that it’s the right Experimenter Publishing Company….

    12) Don’t want to read about bureaucracy? Just watch the movie Brazil….

  10. I know I’m crossing the Scrolls here, but I just wanted to say how happy I am to see Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth books coming back into mass-market print; and I’ll be doing a reread probably in May as soon as Night’s Sorceries hits Kindle.

    (And in an ideal world, at some point we’ll see the subsequent stories collected as well.)

  11. gottacook, I don’t know Truffaut’s work at all (I’m such a plebe.) So, it’s worth looking for?

  12. Totally off topic: Does anyone else think that’s Margaret Atwood on the cover of the latest Interzone?
    @Cassy B: I haven’t seen it in a very long time, but I think Truffaut’s version is definitely worth checking out. There are images from that movie that I still remember decades later.

  13. Recent read: “The Drowning Eyes” by Emily Foster. Tor novella. A crusty ship’s captain takes on a passenger with a secret mission. I liked this a lot. It felt a little rushed in places, and I would have liked a little more description/exploration of the magic in this world, but the perspective characters had distinctive voices and the story kept me engaged. I found the ending strangely paced but it still worked for me.

  14. “One does not simply scroll into File770”

    (6) I remember watching Starship Troopers (after reading the book) in the cinema. Cant recall much of the movie anymore, but one guy a couple of seats down kept on muttering “How bad, How bad…” and seemed to be very offended. He kept going for about a third of the movie, then left. (I assume it was the nazi-like uniform and society that he didnt like – we Germans are sensitive there – but of course I dont know).

    Fahrenheit-movie: Hm, I did like parts of Equilibrium, especially the “Gun-Ka”. But It turned to much into a sequel of “Blood sports” in the end.

    Downing Eyes: Same experience here: I like the characters and worldbuilding and the story, but the ending was like “Huh? Thats the end?”

  15. Cassy B.: I don’t know Truffaut’s work at all (I’m such a plebe.) So, it’s worth looking for?

    Truffaut cast Julie Christie in both female roles, which I didn’t think worked very well. And I thought Oskar Werner was a disappointment in the lead role. Nevertheless, the movie is worth seeing.

  16. The shuggoth disappearing with the time machine may explain the dinosaur’s extinction.

    5) Still thawing from the fireworks display last night, wasn’t really that cold only about four Celsius but with a wind from the north and I had to get there reasonably early to set up the camera on the tripod. Hadn’t realised how big the local display had got either with the attendance over twenty five thousand.

    Still got more to sort through but got some decent shots I think:


  17. @Dawn Incognito and Peer Sylvester

    Recent read: “The Drowning Eyes” by Emily Foster. Tor novella.

    I read and reviewed The Drowning Eyes back in February.

    One problem with it was that it didn’t stop at the point the story was concluded, but it appeared to have a few inconsistencies that bothered me when I read it way back when. Or did I just miss something?

    Anyway, I agree it was a fun ride. Pity she didn’t stick the landing.

  18. They’re good Scrolls, Brent
    Omaha! Omaha! Pixels!
    They’ve killed Fritz! Those lousy stinking yellow Pixels! They’ve killed Fritz!

  19. (6) Yesterday, I had no idea there was a ST3, and today we stumbled across the end of it on one of those OTA digital side-channels.

    Extremely low-budget (worse than cheap TV shows, even), and literally ended with everyone finding Jesus. W. T. F.

    Train-wreck level of fascination. Not bad enough to be good, just bad.


    “When we scrolled the pixels on board, we thought they were cute.”


    I thought Verhoeven’s version was a genius work of subversion. A movie done as a straight take on the book will, in my opinion, be awful… because, ya know, glorified fascism.

  21. My old boss at the textbook store where I ran the trade book action met his wife at Dogpatch when he was playing Lil’ Abner and she was playing Daisy Mae. Those aren’t euphemisms–they were hired actors at the amusement park.

    Interesting–I didn’t know that there ever was a Li’l Abner theme park. You gotta think the writing is pretty much on the wall for an attraction by the time the park characters have to pose with a cardboard cutout of a tourist.

    (ETA I can’t believe I’m actually having a reason to mention a shmoo for the second time in less than a week here, but that’s a pretty sad looking costume on that web page.)

  22. A friend of mine in APATOONS wrote a darn convincing fake article on little-known animation theme parks. My favorite bit was about “Terrytown,” the Terrytoons park, which saved money by having only one walking-costume crow, who at different times would claim to be Heckle, and at others, Jeckle. (I can tell which one is which by the accent. One time the Brooklyn crow called the British crow “Jeckle.” Also, Thomson’s mustache curls outward, and Thompson’s curls inward—I still don’t know which is which in the original French, though.)

  23. @Petréa

    Thanks for the recommendation. Dave Duncan is an often overlooked literary all-star.

    (6) Ummmm…..yay! Hopefully the movie will include the sociopolitical commentary that was off-loaded in favor of Verhoeven’s fevered imaginings of fascism.


  24. @Kip W.: Huh. You know, I’d never noticed that slight difference in their mustaches.

    As it happens, we have a number of Tintin books in French. But looking at them didn’t help me. (It did turn up the amusing fact that in French the pair are sometimes known as “Les deux Dupondt.”) So I went and searched online. It seems that Dupond with a D has the mustache that curves down, like a D on its side, while Dupont with a T has the mustache that sticks out, like the points of an upside-down T.

  25. Thanks, David (with a D)! Particularly for the mnemonic. I remember the one that curves out because his name is spelt without a P. (Back in RASFF, there was a discussion of Samson vs Sampson, and I explained that one had a mustache that…)

    I’ve also seen them simply called Les Duponds… or maybe it was Duponts… but it was just article, name, at any rate. I have the black and white ones in French reprints of the original printings. Quite an improvement over the days I was searching for Children’s Digest at thrift shops in a futile attempt to complete even one adventure (all the more futile in that they edited them down, as well as reducing them in size and reducing the color palette to black and white plus one). It was a happy day when I walked into Lois Newman Books in Boulder in 1975 and saw complete books for sale.

  26. Dann: (6) Ummmm…..yay! Hopefully the movie will include the sociopolitical commentary that was off-loaded in favor of Verhoeven’s fevered imaginings of fascism.

    Verhoeven didn’t have to imagine any fascism. It’s all there in the book, in shining technicolor.

  27. Hi JJ,

    Verhoeven didn’t have to imagine any fascism. It’s all there in the book, in shining technicolor.

    Where? Exactly…..where?

    The books limits the franchise to veterans. And anyone is eligible to serve. Not all of the services are strictly military in nature. Some are really just labor battallions that pose a modest amount of discipline and personal hazard/risk.

    It describes a modestly sized government that “works” (not a lot of detail there) and apparently even respects the rights of non-veterans.

    That assertion keeps being made, but I find nothing in the book that supports it. I’ve read it 15-20 times already, and I’m not seeing it.

    Perhaps that is being inferred upon the material instead of being implied by it.


  28. @Greg Hullender:

    Ooh, I think I have an answer for at least one of those inconsistencies.

    N srj cbvagf ner n ovg pbashfvat, fhpu nf gur snpg gung Fuvan xrrcf fnlvat fur’f gur ynfg jvaqfcrnxre, rira gubhtu fur zrrgf bguref va gur pbhefr bs gur fgbel.

    Gur vzcerffvba gung V tbg jnf gung Fuvan jnf gur ynfg erznvavat “jrg rlrf” Jvaqfcrnxre. Naq nyy gur Jvaqfcrnxref jub unq unq gurve rlrf ercynprq jvgu gur zntvp fgbarf jrer hanoyr gb hfr gurve zntvp orpnhfr gur Vqby unq orra fgbyra. Fb juvyr Fuvan jnf abg gur ynfg Jvaqfcrnxre nyvir, fur jnf gur bayl bar pncnoyr bs hfvat gur OveqFgbezf.

    Gur fvqr fgbel jvgu Gnmve, Pundhny, naq Xbqva vf engure jrnx. Bapr Fuvan’f zvffvba vf pbzcyrgr, vg’f abg pyrne jul jr fubhyq pner jung unccraf gb gur pncgnva.

    V’ir orra guvaxvat n ovg nobhg gung bar, naq V srry yvxr vg’f n jnl bs inyvqngvat Fuvan’f pubvpr gb ergevrir gur Vqby. Gnmve vf ubeevsvrq ng Fuvan’f hadhrfgvbavat npprcgnapr bs znvzvat, naq V guvax gur raqvat vf fhccbfrq gb fubj gung vg vf fgvyy rngvat njnl ng ure. Rira gubhtu Fuvan vf cresrpgyl unccl naq pbagrag jvgu ure fgbar rlrf naq Pundhny nf na nggraqnag naq ure Jvaqfcrnxre snzvyl.

    V’z abg fher ubj V srry nobhg gur snpg gung gur fgbel bayl tvirf n creshapgbel nethzrag ntnvafg gur Jvaqfcrnef’ cenpgvpr. Gurer’f n zragvba bs na byq zna jub jnf tvira gur cebprqher ol sbepr, ohg vg’f nyfb znqr pyrne gung ur vf Zhpu Unccvre Abj nsgrejneqf. Naq Gnmve bs pbhefr vf n pehfgl ibvpr bs bccbfvgvba jub vf pbzcyrgryl vtaberq naq fubja yngre gb or n zvfrenoyr qehax jub vf tvira na rasbeprq yrnir bs nofrapr ng gur Zbyvxv fgbez grzcyr fb fur pna frr gung Fuvan’f unccl gbb. Be ng yrnfg gung’f ubj V ernq vg.

  29. Dann, the problem is that clear statements that there is non-military “federal service” available come from Heinlein himself, years later. It’s not really present in the book. We have several instances where things one would reasonably expect to be military, such as what should be quartermaster functions, are clearly stated to be civilian, for the reason that there was no reason for that to be military. (We found out in Iraq and Afghanistan how well offloading that to civilian suppliers with a healthy profit motive worked, but Heinlein would have needed a crystal ball other know that.)

    I don’t for one second believe Heinlein intended the wored of Starship Troopers to be a fascist Society. I do believe he wrote it in a rage, very quickly, and either didn’t include everything he intended, or misremembered later, in a calmer mood.

    What’s actually not the page–isn’t fascist. Not quite. But try implementing it with real people, and it would be. And that’s what Veorhoven’s subversive film version puts on the screen.

  30. The non-military federal service is given one paragraph in the book — and it’s all MORE unpleasant than joining the military! Being a medical guinea pig, testing survival equipment, etc. It’s all the discomfort and danger, without the esprit de corps and nothing to shoot back with/at. Before the Bugs, the military was the easier option.

    It works on paper — barely, and thanks to most of the book being Johnnie’s pew-pew adventures — but IRL it would be fascism.

    (Lis: ask Mike to edit out the errant email; am certain whoever that is has no deeper understanding of ST than we do.)

  31. Hi Lis,

    I may have to make my next copy of ST electronic just so I can make notes and do searches.

    The book does contain references to non-military federal service. In particular there are references to field testing equipment in most inhospitable circumstances and to various functions/jobs performed in equally inhospitable conditions.

    It’s presented in a very loose form, but it is in the book.

    What Heinlein did suggest is that there are non-military functions that are better performed by civilians such as chow hall cooks and custodial services. That has been the trend in the military for a couple of decades now and the result has been reasonably if imperfectly successful.

    And based on the comments of my friends and family that served in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of those civilian services were largely OK. Not great. And certainly not worse than if performed by someone in uniform.

    I never knew Mr. Heinlein, so I can’t comment on his mental state while writing ST. What comes across to me is an exploration on a couple of very broad scale themes; most significantly the relationship between responsibility and authority.

    What grinds my gears is the focus on one potential result of implementing Heinlein’s “unique poll tax”, while completely ignoring the other themes that play a far greater role in the book.

    Any form of government can come off the tracks. (IMHO, a constitutionally limited government is far less likely to do so, but we tossed that one over the side some time ago.)

    In any case, I always enjoy watching Verhoeven’s movie. But it misses so much of what is the book while adding so much that is not in the book. I would like to see a movie that is more faithful to the source material.


  32. Starship Troopers was totally disgusting as a book. I think the only way to film it is either as a total dystopia or as a satire.

  33. @lurkertype–Fortunately, I caught that before the edit window closed, and the random email address is only in the emails, not on the web.

    @Dann –You will believe what you believe, but really, I can’t agree that we were well served by Cheney’s company getting no-bid contracts to feed and house our soldiers. Just f’r’instance, it quickly became clear that paying civilians to voluntarily leave their homes and families and go to a war zone for an extended stay is a lot more expensive than having soldiers do it. That’s just an unavoidable structural problem, without getting into political arguments about other things that happened as a result of this Great Innovation.

    As for Heinlein’s frame of mind when he wrote Starship Troopers:
    Robert Heinlein’s ‘Starship Troopers’ & The Cold War

    n April, 1958, Heinlein was presented with a newspaper from his wife, featuring a full-page ad urging for an end to nuclear weapons testing. Heinlein was angry: He felt that the nuclear arsenal that the United States had built up was the only thing keeping the Soviet Union and Communism in check. He promptly wrote up a full-page ad of his own, and paid for placement in the local papers. He sent a copy to President Dwight Eisenhower, and was dismayed when the president’s administration began to explore the first steps toward a limited nuclear test ban treaty shortly thereafter. His worry wasn’t an idle one. By this time, he lived mere miles from the North American Aerospace Defense Command headquarters in Colorado, a likely strategic target in the event that the U.S .and USSR ever went to war.

    In response, Heinlein set aside the book he was working on, Stranger in a Strange Land, to write a new, politically motivated story. In an April letter to his agent, Lurton Blassingame, he was pessimistic about the future of the United States: “I am convinced in my own mind that the United States is washed up and we will cease to exist inside of five to fifteen years – unless we quickly and drastically pull up our socks, both at home and in foreign policy. This opinion has been growing in my mind for years: I was simply triggered into doing something about it by this pacifistic-internationalist-cum-clandestine Communist drive to have us treat atomics and disarmament in exactly the fashion the Kremlin has tried to get us to do for the past twelve years.”

    That’s not all that’s out there; Heinlein wasn’t shy about his opinions and thinking. But this is what is immediately available with the energy expenditure I’m up for right now.

  34. Ugh.

    Well, that’s embarrassing. That’s a different email than the one I saw and edited out…

    @Mike Glyer can you edit it out?

    Dann, the problem is that clear statements that there is non-military “federal service” available come from

    I hope this is clear. The quoted bit ends with the word “from.” That should be the word from, without the included email address in my previous post. Then the rest of the sentence after that email address should stay.

    I hope that’s adequately clear.


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