Pixel Scroll 12/1/23 Five Weeks In A Granfalloon

(1) WATERSTONES BOOK OF 2023. The Guardian reports, “Katherine Rundell wins Waterstones book of 2023 with ‘immediate classic’”.

Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell has been named the 2023 Waterstones book of the year.

The children’s novel, about a magical archipelago where all mythical creatures still reside, was voted for by booksellers as the book they most enjoyed recommending to readers over the past year.

Rundell said that she was “truly, utterly thrilled” on hearing the news. “I did not believe it until they showed me it in writing. I made my editor show me written-out proof.”

(2) AUTHORS SUE IOWA. NBC News has details as “Penguin Random House and bestselling authors sue Iowa over school book-banning law”.

The nation’s largest publisher and several bestselling authors, including novelists John Green and Jodi Picoult, are part of a lawsuit filed Thursday challenging Iowa’s new law that bans public school libraries and classrooms from having practically any book that depicts sexual activity….

…The law also bans books containing references to sexual orientation and gender identity for students through sixth grade, which the lawsuit says is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the law unconstitutional, Novack said, adding that government can’t violate free speech rights “by pretending that school grounds are constitutional no-fly zones.”

The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages….

…Asked for comment on the lawsuit, Reynold’s office referred to her statement issued earlier this week in response to a separate lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal on behalf of several families challenging the entirety of the new law. In that statement, Reynolds defended the law as “protecting children from pornography and sexually explicit content.”

Plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit took issue with that characterization, noting that among books that have been banned in Iowa schools are such critically acclaimed and classic works as “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Native Son” by Richard Wright and “1984” by George Orwell, showing that under the law, “no great American novel can survive,” [said Dan Novack, an attorney for and vice president of Penguin Random House]….

(3) DAWN OF CYBERPUNK. The Mirrorshades anthology edited by Bruce Sterling (1986) is now available as a free download (or can be read at the link).

(4) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the sixteenth issue of Imaginary Papers, a quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. 

In this issue, David K. Seitz writes about “Sanctuary,” a 1993 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with timely insights about the abandonment and exclusion of refugees; Katherine Buse and Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal write about the 2019 video game Hypnospace Outlaw and its alternate-history vision of the 1990s internet; and we share two recent academic publications by our colleague Malka Older, the sociologist and science fiction author.

The full archive of Imaginary Papers is available to read here.

(5) CHINA FANDOM. RiverFlow, a finalist for a 2023 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, is interviewed in “Students Are the Future of Science Fiction: A Conversation with RiverFlow by Arley Sorg” at Clarkesworld Magazine.

How did you get involved with the science fiction community?

…On July 23, 2020, I founded the sci-fi fanzine also called Zero Gravity. My hope is that Zero Gravity can let zero gravity sci-fi fans have access to more information, and that they can use this publication to combine the power of Chinese fans. (China has not had an official fanzine, so sci-fi fans did not have a centralized platform for expression.) Now those scattered, but high-quality, sci-fi review articles can be seen by more people. In 2023, we started contacting foreign writers and translating their introductions to the history of sci-fi in their own country as well!

(6) LUKYANENKO’S DECEMBER 1ST EVENTS IN CHENGDU. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The Weibo account of publisher 8 Light Minutes posted this covering the Friday morning event where Lukyanenko visited a university.  I’m far from certain about this, but I think the guy sitting third from left in the photo of the audience is Chen Shi, aka Raistlin Chen, one of the Worldcon co-chairs.

The afternoon visit to the SF Museum was covered in this Weibo post, which seems to come from the media relations account for the Pidu district of Chengdu, and is a short video with minimal information.  If my recollection of the layout of the museum is correct, the opening shot shows that the big “Hugo Award” rocket mounted on the wall has now been removed.

(7) DOUBLING DOWN ON DOUBLING UP. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] A comment on Blue Sky led to this amusing news piece about a legal motion to impose Microsoft Word standards (28 points) over regular standards (24 points) when double-spacing in legal documents.

Reminded me of the Formatting Foofaraws that regularly erupted in fanzine fandom and still do in writing circles. But this particular one used sixty-six pages of argument and citations in its motion, which feels excessive, even if it was a fannish foofaraw.

(Since this was filed by a law firm, cynical me suspects the legal profession’s “Maximize your billable hours” rule was in action here.) “Heated Litigation Fight Over ‘Double-Spacing’ Ends In Judge Telling Everyone To Shut Up” at Above the Law.

…The brief backs up the vagaries over time point by noting that Microsoft even expanded its spacing before the 2007 version release and that the company’s “double spacing” is not even consistent across fonts.

There’s not been a historical account of typography this thrilling since that Helvetica movie!

Not content to leave well enough alone, plaintiffs pile on with policy arguments for their interpretation of double spacing….

(8) READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? In this 1966 commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee, viewers were enlisted to interact with Boris Karloff, delivering the subtitled lines. (Why are you trembling? Maybe you’ve already had too much caffeine…)


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 1, 1942 John Crowley, 81. What a splendiferous Little, Big is! Full of quiet charms that invite second and third readings. It won a Mythoepoeic Award and World Fantasy Award, and was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV. It also picked up Balrog, BSFA and Nebula nominations as well. Oh, and it deservedly makes David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels.

For a treat, you should listen to Crowley read it. He takes great pleasure in doing so. It’s available on Audible. 

John Crowley

Next up is the Ægypt cycle as it’s called that, huh, Harold Bloom declared part of American canon of books. I thought they were good but unlike Little, Big, I’ll freely admit that I’ve not gone back to them since the first reading of them. 

And there’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land in which the author in loving detail envisions the novel the Lord Byron never penned but very well might have. An extraordinary work indeed. 

Finally my last novel that I like by him is Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr. As Crowley says on his stellar site, “Dar Oakley, the main character and storyteller in the novel, is really a Crow.” It’s hard to bring off making a narrator that it’s animal feel like an animal but he does so it here. Fascinating tale indeed which also has a telling narrated by him. Crowley being his crow. Cool indeed. It won a Mythopoeic Award and garnered a World Fantasy Award nomination as well. 

I’ve not read enough short fiction by him to reach a firm opinion of him as a teller of tales at that length, so your opinion please as to which collection I should delve into. The newest one is And Go Like This: Stories. Will that do?


  • Tom Gauld is not waiting.

(11) UYGHURS REMEMBERED. Danielle Ranucci, an sff writer and an intern at the Human Rights Foundation, “a nonprofit dedicated to combating dictatorial regimes”, has written an opinion piece “about how China has co-opted Worldcon to help avoid accountability for its ongoing Uyghur genocide.” “Worldconned: How China Co-Opted Sci-Fi’s Crown Jewel Amidst the Uyghur Genocide”. (Ranucci’s personal blog is “Lit In The Time Of War”.)

 Last month, Chengdu, China hosted the 81st World Science Fiction Convention. Known as Worldcon, this annual convention is the site of the prestigious Hugo Awards—sci-fi’s equivalent to the Oscars. Past Hugo winners include household names like George R.R. Martin and Stephen King. Yet as over 20,000 people flocked to Chengdu’s futuristic-looking Worldcon site, China was committing one of the largest genocides since the Holocaust.

China is detaining 2 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic populations in concentration camps in the East Turkestan region. Meanwhile, the regime seeks to avoid accountability and improve its image through reputation laundering, such as taking advantage of voting irregularities to become the host of the prestigious Winter 2022 Olympics. Or to buy Worldcon….

(12) OPEN CHANNEL ZZZ. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Another “I’ll take $100 for ‘What could possibly go wrong…'” “Lucid Dream Startup Says Engineers Can Write Code In Their Sleep” at Slashdot.

People spend one-third of their lives asleep. What if employees could work during that time … in their dreams? Prophetic, a venture-backed startup founded earlier this year, wants to help workers do just that. Using a headpiece the company calls the “Halo,” Prophetic says consumers can induce a lucid dream state, which occurs when the person having a dream is aware they are sleeping. The goal is to give people control over their dreams, so they can use that time productively. A CEO could practice for an upcoming board meeting, an athlete could run through plays, a web designer could create new templates — “the limiting factor is your imagination,” founder and CEO Eric Wollberg told Fortune.

(13) RABBIT EARS. “’The Velveteen Rabbit’ Captures Holiday Nostalgia with Stylized Animation Mix” says Animation World Network.

VD: As a parent, I have to ask what makes a stuffed rabbit so captivating to a child? There have been numerous children’s stories featuring a young rabbit and my daughter has about 50 stuffed rabbits of her own that she can’t bear to part with. Why do these creatures mean so much to children and lend themselves so well to children’s storytelling?  

TB: Rabbits are wonderful, unthreatening animals with brilliantly expressive faces and ears. Maybe that’s what draws children to them. But we think what really captivates children is the imaginative idea that their toy rabbits, and other toys they may possess, are real, that they can come alive, and that toys feel emotions and understand the children themselves. Children feel the imaginative world is “real” and they know their toys understand that.

(14) IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN SPACE. From Giant Freakin Robot, “The Sci-Fi Star Trek Comedy Series From It’s Always Sunny Trio That Didn’t Happen, Watch The Only Episode”.

Boldly Going Nowhere, a proposed comedy science fiction series based on Star Trek ultimately went nowhere, but the original pilot episode can now be seen below. The series came from the showrunners, stars and co-creators of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney, with Adam Stein, who pitched the idea to the trio. Stein was a writer’s assistant on the series at the time…

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Steven French, John King Tarpinian, Orange Mike Lowrey, Joey Eschrich, Ersatz Culture, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/1/23 Five Weeks In A Granfalloon

  1. First!

    I’ve been listening to Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train, possibly the only other mystery beside Murder on the Orient Exoress set on that train route. If anyone knows of other mysteries set on that run please tell me.

  2. (12) Just last night I dreamed ai was lecturing on a technical topic, but in the morning I realized that my explanations weren’t quite right. So tonight I expect to dream in retractions.

  3. (2) I’m keeping my legal fingers crossed for this one.

    (8) That’s very clever!

    (12) I used to dream about editing biochemistry page proofs. But it wasn’t fun, and I certainly wouldn’t want an employer to exploit that. Ack!

  4. (12) I remember dreaming about maps. And about spreadsheets, sometimes. And social media, sometimes. It doesn’t matter if I know I’m dreaming, they’re still not going to be usable as-is.

  5. (5) River Flow doesn’t seem to understand that the whole point of fandom is like the ethernet – there is no “centralized point”.
    (12) Right. So tell me, if I program in my sleep, do I get paid overtime? Do we get paid for those extra hours?

    Or is this just a longing for the “good old days”, where people worked 16 hours/day six days a week?

    I prefer to dream – I don’t remember my dreams, but if I did – of what I’d like to be doing to upper management that likes this idea.

  6. RE: 8)

    Karloff also did an A1 Steak Sauce commercial that’s amusing.

    I remember a time when Margaret Hamilton was pitching Maxwell House coffee.

    They had her commercials during an annual run of “The Wizard of Oz,” so I was seeing Cora the coffee lady, then the Wicked Witch, then Cora again, then the Wicked Witch. I think I was scarred for life by that one!

    Vincent Price did many commercials, and a sampling can be found at:

  7. (12) Right. So tell me, if I program in my sleep, do I get paid overtime? Do we get paid for those extra hours?

    When I was working part time (I retired completely last July), there was at least one time I charged the company for the time spent when I dreamed a solution to a problem while I was sleeping.

  8. 12) There’s a variation on this notion in Greg Egan’s “Night Running” (in Sleep and the Soul): a drug that lets you get some sleep while performing waking-world tasks. It doesn’t work out as well as the protagonist hoped.

    Myself, if I play too much Spider Solitaire before going to bed, I find myself dealing hands as I fall asleep. Haven’t actually finished one, though. Yet.

    Oddly enough, even though I’ve been out of the classroom for more than thirty years, I still have the teacher’s-nightmare dream where I’m teaching a class and have no idea of what the course is. (I never dream about writing against a deadline, though–or about writing at all, though I’ve been at it for more than a half-century.)

  9. Mark: Oh my gosh, surely you’re familiar with the concept of the “focal point” of fandom. There was even a newzine that tried to become it and took that as its name.

  10. (12) Yeah, another clever scheme to make us work 24/7.

    (9) Thank you for prompting me to go look, and find more Crowley that I expect to enjoy

  11. (9) happy birthday, John Crowley, and many thanks for Little, Big. I finished it on an intercontinental flight, tears streaming down my face. A flight attendant asked if I was OK, and I waved the book at her, saying, “I’m fine! It’s just so beautiful.”

  12. 7) Count characters rather than pages, you damned fools!

    (Once upon a time, my mother worked in a law office (which, through a bizarre but logical chain of events, is why I am a cataloger today). She told me once of lawyers arranging their briefs so the descenders in each line won’t hit the ascenders of the next, just so they could squeeze in a few more words in a brief. Sheesh.)

    @Russell Letson: Myself, if I play too much Spider Solitaire before going to bed, I find myself dealing hands as I fall asleep.

    Known academically as the Tetris Effect, for reasons many of us have probably experienced firsthand. Back when I played go, I dreamed a few times of life and death problems…

    The latest Indiana Jones movie just hit Disney+. Quick capsule verdict: not bad, but I would not be one bit worse off if it had not been made.

  13. Jan-Erik Zandersson: You get to decide what to read, you don’t get to decide what I write or publish.

    Danielle Ranucci nailed it. The 81st World Science Fiction Convention is to China and the 21st Century what the 1936 Olympics were to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in the 20th. Amd SF fandom cheerfully colllaborated in putting on this showcase event…..

  15. @Aaron G–Did you notice that the other two books referred to are American books by American authors, dealing with particularly American issues? Or consider that if they’ll ban Orwell’s work, a lot of American works will be banned, too?

  16. https://fancyclopedia.org/Focal_Point

    In fanhistory, a focal point is a fanzine, fan or group considered central to a particular fannish era. In particular, in a numbered fandom, the focal point is the zine that most exemplified and defined the period, the quintessential zine a fan had to read to be considered truly a part of the era.

    In post-numerical eras, conventions or online communities have sometimes been called “focal points,” but this is a controversial usage.


    Third Fandom

    September 1940–early 1944. The Focal Point of Third Fandom was Harry Warner, Jr.’s Spaceways. A bit of irony: You won’t discover this from reading his books of fan history – All Our Yesterdays and A Wealth of Fable – or from the collected “All Our Yesterdays” columns he used to write, because Harry did not subscribe to the notion of numbered fandoms or Focal Point (fanzine)s. (They are, nonetheless, highly recommended.) But Spaceways was both frequent and influential enough, and being one of the relatively few mimeographed fanzines (along with Bob Tucker’s Le Zombie) had the advantage over its contemporaries and rivals who were still using hectographs. The hectograph, besides its relatively low limit on legible copies, is a painstaking one-page-at-a-time process, while the practical limit on mimeography. which Warner never had to come near, is in the tens of thousands, producing a copy with every turn of the mimeograph handle.

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  18. (9) John Crowley. Cat Eldridge wondered if reading the Crowley collection “And Go Like This: Stories”, 2019 was sufficient? My answer is “no”. “And Go Like This: Stories” covers his short fiction from 2002 to 2019. He wrote a lot of great short fiction before then. You really need to read “Novelties & Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction”, 2004, which covers 1977 to 2002. There are other collections, but I think these two do the best job of covering his career to at least 2019. IMHO, there were stories that I loved and stories that were not really my thing, but I am so glad I read both of them. Some SF, some fantasy, some speculative fiction, and some very hard to describe. He is one of the leading writers of his era and worth the time and attention.

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