Pixel Scroll 12/10/18 This Is A Song Called Alice’s Pixel Scroll But Alice’s Pixel Scroll Is Not The Name Of The Pixel Scroll That’s Just The Name Of The Song

(1) SFWA AND THE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST. SFWA member and former Greivance Committee member Eric James Stone, whose wife Darci Stone won the Writers of the Future Contest 2018 grand prize Golden Pen Award, has shared his correspondence with the SFWA Board in a blog post where he strongly disagrees with the organization’s actions against the Writers of the Future Contest. Says Stone, “In short, I feel the SFWA Board has acted incompetently and/or unethically.” — “SFWA and the Writers of the Future Contest”.

2. Even if you agree with WOTF being de-listed, I think you should be concerned about the process implemented by the Board. Imagine that one of your favorite publications was being targeted for de-listing, and the SFWA Board acted to de-list before even communicating with the editors about any concerns or complaints. Would you consider that a fair process? If it wouldn’t have been a fair process for Clarkesworld or Asimov’s or Strange Horizons, then it was not a fair process for Writers of the Future.

3. I think that any reasonable person who actually wanted to “…ensur[e] that these concerns [about WOTF] are meaningfully addressed…” would have contacted the WOTF Contest administrators to discuss the concerns before taking the action of de-listing the contest as a qualifying market. The only reasonable excuse for not doing so would be some sort of urgent need to act immediately in order to prevent harm, but since the Board voted in August and failed to make it known until December, that excuse doesn’t seem to apply here. Since it is a stated goal of the Board to see that the concerns are meaningfully addressed, the fact that they do not appear to have exercised reasonable care in attempting to carry out that goal could mean they have violated their fiduciary duty as Board members.

4. None of the members of the Board has answered the charge that the website gave pretexts for the Board’s action in removing contest publications as qualifying markets, while the real goal was to de-list Writers of the Future specifically. The Board’s actions don’t make sense if the objective was to get the contest to address concerns, but they make perfect sense if the objective was to de-list WOTF. Why would they have that specific goal? When I wrote to the Board originally, I was worried that some people might be targeting the contest because of its association with the Church of Scientology. If that was, in fact, the case, and the members of the Board were either in agreement with such an objective or willing to cater to such people, it would explain why the Board would de-list the contest before even going through the motions of resolving concerns about it, and it would also explain why they disguised the motives for their action in the explanation offered on the website.

(2) FIFTH SEASON OR ELEVENTH SEASON? In “Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos”, Camestros Felapton reviews the last episode of Season 11.

 I don’t know if anybody else got a bit of a Fifth Season vibe from the beginning of this episode. I did, which got my hopes up but overall this was an episode of unexplored ideas. Not terrible but it felt oddly sketched out with hints of something better.

Take for example the idea of this mind altering planet, it gives one character a reason why they can’t initially explain what is going on but otherwise the idea goes nowhere. Which is doubly odd, because it is a concept that could be done really well with a smart script and clever acting.

(3) WHO’S NUMBERS. Yahoo! Finance’s Stewart Clarke, in “Jodie Whittaker to Return as ‘Doctor Who’ in 2020 Amid Strong U.S. Ratings”, says that this year’s series of Doctor Who held up in ratings in both the U.S. and Britain, and Jodie Whittaker drew about as many viewers as Peter Capaldi did in his last season.

British viewers tuned in in droves to the first episode of the current season. With 11 million viewers (consolidated),it was the second-biggest drama audience of the year and the best launch for “Doctor Who” in a decade in the U.K.

Overnight ratings declined steadily over the course of the series,  falling to 5 million for the ninth episode (7 million consolidated). Sunday’s finale delivered 5.3 million viewers. British tabloids have suggested that viewers tuned out because the new season was too “politically correct,” but the fall in overnight ratings is not unusual and follows that of earlier seasons.

It also reflects modern viewing patterns, with many fans and, notably, younger viewers watching the show on catch-up. The BBC said the average consolidated audience through the first eight episodes was 8.4million, significantly above the last season of “Doctor Who,” starring Peter Capaldi, whose average was below 6 million. The current season was the second most-requested series on the BBC’s iPlayer in October, the busiest month ever for the catch-up service.

In the U.S., Whittaker and her team notched a ratings win for BBC America, which said it was the fastest-growing scripted show of the year. Ahead of Sunday’s final episode, BBC America reported that the show was up 47% season-on-season, with young  female viewers driving the growth. The show averaged 1.6 million viewers through its first eight episodes in the U.S.

(4) RECORDS SET. Variety’s “‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer Smashes 24-Hour Video Views Record” by Todd Spangler says that 289 million people saw the trailer for Avengers: Endgame in the first 24 hours after it was released, which is a record, and 599,000 people tweeted about it, another record.

(5) CLASS HIGHLIGHTS. Cat Rambo shares tweets about Seanan McGuire’s class:

(6) THE DEFORESTATION OF MIDDLE-EARTH. From 2003, but maybe it’s news to you, too! McSweeny’s magazine imagines a DVD commentary for Lord Of The Rings as done by leftist academics Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky: “Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002 For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition) DVD, Part One”.

CHOMSKY: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. “The world has changed,” she tells us, “I can feel it in the water.” She’s actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.

ZINN: Of course. “The world has changed.” I would argue that the main thing one learns when one watches this film is that the world hasn’t changed. Not at all.

CHOMSKY: We should examine carefully what’s being established here in the prologue. For one, the point is clearly made that the “master ring,” the so-called “one ring to rule them all,” is actually a rather elaborate justification for preemptive war on Mordor.

ZINN: I think that’s correct. Tolkien makes no attempt to hide the fact that rings are wielded by every other ethnic enclave in Middle Earth. The Dwarves have seven rings, the Elves have three. The race of Man has nine rings, for God’s sake. There are at least 19 rings floating around out there in Middle Earth, and yet Sauron’s ring is supposedly so terrible that no one can be allowed to wield it. Why?

(7) LOOKING FOR AVRAM DAVDISON LETTERS. Danny Sichel encouraged me to give this Locus Online item a signal boost: “Davidson Letters Sought”.

Editor Henry Wes­sels invites “any persons holding correspondence from Avram Davidson to send legible photocopies or scans of interesting or notable letters” to his at­tention, for a volume of Davidson’s selected letters to be published next year by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson Society. Material may be sent to Henry Wessells, PO Box 43072,Upper Montclair NJ 07043; <wessells@aol.com>

(8) WILLIS AND SNODGRASS INTERVIEW. Lorene Mills’ next Report From Santa Fe features award-winning authors Connie Willis and Melinda Snodgrass.

Connie Willis has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America. Her work has won eleven Hugos and seven Nebula awards.

Melinda Snodgrass is an award-winning screenwriter (she wrote Star Trek Next Gen’s popular episode “The Measure of a Man” among others) and author of the popular “Edge” Series, the “Imperials Saga,” and creator/editor (with George RR Martin) of the”Wild Cards” anthologies.

The show will air on various local stations in New Mexico between December 15-17, 2018. See the site for exact times.

(9) STRANGER THINGS. This is called a “title tease” – I’m guessing they’re the titles of Season 3 episodes.

In the summer of 1985, the adventure continues.

(10) BAVE OBIT. [Item by Steve Green.] Terry Bave (1931-2018): British comics artist, died December 6. Freelanced for Odhams, IPC and DC Thomson, on such fantasy strips as Sammy Shrink, Jimmy Jeckle and Master Hyde, Me and My Shadow; many of these were written by his wife Shiela*.  He retired in 2007, publishing his autobiography Cartoons and Comic Strips six years later.

*That is the correct spelling, I understand.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes:A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien,G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1903Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1907Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941.
  • It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 10, 1957Michael Clarke Duncan. Certainly best known as John Coffey in Stephen King’s The Green Mile film nearly twenty years ago. He also had roles in Planet of the Apes, Sin City, voice work in The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the TinysaurusesGeorge and the Dragon and The Scorpion King. He played Kingpin in the Ben Affleck-led version of Daredevil. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 10, 1960 Kenneth Branagh, 58. Oh Branagh, I feel obligated to start with your worst film, Wild Wild West, which, well, had you no shame? Fortunately there’s much better genre work from you as an actor including as Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related?

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close To Home predicts a near-future name change for a planet in our Solar System.

(13) GHOST WITH THE MOST. The New York Times’ rundown of the latest Saturday Night Live includes this segment: “‘Game of Thrones’ Parody of the Week”.

If you’ve been hard up for “Game of Thrones” content since the most recent season ended in 2017, you could do worse than “Khal Drogo’s Ghost Dojo,” a public access TV show where “we talk with some of the hundreds of characters from ‘Game of Thrones’ who have been killed off the show,” as Thompson, a co-host, explained.

The sketch was mostly an excuse to let this week’s guest host,  Jason Momoa, reprise his “Game of Thrones” role as the warrior Khal Drogo and to let cast members impersonate “Thrones” characters. It also included an exchange between Momoa and Heidi Gardner, playing Brienne of Tarth, that referenced the recent troubles of Kevin Hart, who withdrew as host of the Academy Awards after refusing to apologize for anti-gay jokes.

In his Dothraki language (translated by subtitles), Momoa said of Gardner, “If this man wants to fight, I’ll give him what he wants.”

Gardner replied incredulously: “Man? Wow, you have a lot to learn about identity politics.”

“You’re right,” a chastened Momoa said in broken English. “Khal need to learn from Khal’s mistakes or Khal never win Oscar. Never host Oscar.”

Taking in the scene, Thompson said, “Wow, what a teachable moment.”

(14) GOT THAT RIGHT. If only I hadn’t thrown away my mimeograph years ago! Oh, noes!

(15) NO SURPRISE. The film did everything he predicted. Camestros Felapton loved it anyway: “Review: Bohemian Rhapsody”.

…The trick is the cliches don’t matter in most respects. Queen were a band that was always a bit corny but just kept pushing through that and unironically owning the grandiosity of their songs, arrangements and Freddie Mercury’s presence.

So the film makes them the greatest rock band ever who pushed more boundaries and crossed more genres and styles and broke more conventions of pop music. Which is nonsense but with the grain of truth that they were a band that are hard to classify. Flamboyant camp nerdry which required a braggadocio approach….

(16) CREEPY OR FUNNY? You decide! The Hollywood Reporter introduces the video —  “Andy Serkis Revives Gollum to Mock U.K.’s Brexit Negotiations”.

“Oh precious, our agreement, this is it, our deal, yessss, yesss,” hisses the actor while dressed up as British leader Theresa May.

Gollum has a Brexit plan, kind of. 

The U.K.’s ongoing and increasingly fraught attempts to negotiate its departure from the European Union were given some much-needed comic relief over the weekend thanks to some expert trolling by Andy Serkis. 

(17) SPIDER-VERSE. This clip introduces Spider-Gwen.

Hailee Steinfeld is Spider-Gwen. She’s from another, another dimension.

Miles and Peter swing out of danger in this clip:

(18) REALLY OLD SILICA MEMORIES. In “The key to cracking long-dead languages?” it’s explained how digitizing, computerized decryption and summarizing could speed access to the text in ancient tablets.

They chronicle the rise of fall of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, the world’s first empires. An estimated half a million of them have been excavated, and more are still buried in the ground.

However, since cuneiform was first deciphered by scholars around 150 years ago, the script has only yielded its secrets to a small group of people who can read it. Some 90% of cuneiform texts remain untranslated.

That could change thanks to a very modern helper: machine translation.

(19) WAVE BYE-BYE. BBC takes note as “Nasa’s Voyager 2 probe ‘leaves the Solar System'”.

The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has become the second human-made object to leave our Solar System.

It was launched 16 days before its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe’s faster trajectory meant that it was in “the space between the stars” six years before Voyager 2.

The news was revealed at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington.

And chief scientist on the mission, Prof Edward Stone, confirmed it.

He said both probes had now “made it into interstellar space” and that Voyager 2’s date of departure from the Solar System was 5 November 2018.

On that date, the steady stream of particles emitted from the Sun that were being detected by the probe suddenly dipped. This indicated that it had crossed the “heliopause” – the term for the outer edge of the Sun’s protective bubble of particles and magnetic field.

(20) BENEATH THE SURFACE. In a hole in the ground there lived – a hell of a lot of stuff! “Amount of deep life on Earth quantified”.

Scientists have estimated the total amount of life on Earth that exists below ground – and it is vast.

You would need a microscope to see this subterranean biosphere, however.

It is made up mostly of microbes, such as bacteria and their evolutionary cousins, the archaea.

Nonetheless, it represents a lot of carbon – about 15 to 23 billion tonnes of it. That is hundreds of times more carbon than is woven into all the humans on the planet.

“Something like 70% of the total number of microbes on Earth are below our feet,” said Karen Lloyd from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, US.

“So, this changes our perception of where we find life on Earth, from mostly on the surface in things like trees and whales and dolphins, to most of it actually being underground,” she told BBC News.

(21) SHE’S POSSIBLE. The live-action Kim Possible movie premieres in the U.S. on February 15, 2019.

Everyday teen hero Kim Possible (Sadie Stanley) and her best friend Ron Stoppable (Sean Giambrone) embark on their freshman year of high school, all while saving the world from evil villains. While Kim and Ron have always been one step ahead of their opponents, navigating the social hierarchy of high school is more challenging than the action-heroes ever imagined. With Drakken (Todd Stashwick) and Shego (Taylor Ortega) lurking in the wings, Kim must rely on her family and friends on Team Possible—Ron, tech-genius Wade (Issac Ryan Brown), new friend Athena (Ciara Wilson), and Rufus, a Naked mole-rat—to stop these super villains!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Danny Sichel, Olav Rokne, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric James Stone, Steve Green, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

59 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/10/18 This Is A Song Called Alice’s Pixel Scroll But Alice’s Pixel Scroll Is Not The Name Of The Pixel Scroll That’s Just The Name Of The Song

  1. (1) SFWA AND THE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST.

    Ah, yes, the author who somehow magically got onto the Hugo and Nebula ballot with a horrible Mormon space whale rape story feels that SFWA has acted unethically.

    I’ll be over here with my tiny violin. 🎻

  2. First?

    Pixel thou art, and Scroll; and shalt be What thou art Tickboxed

    Edited to add: Clearly not first.

  3. Sacrificial fourth.

    I’ll add the above spider-movie to my pile of unwatched spiderman reboots. Which I think is however many since Toby McGuire.

  4. 1
    I get the impression he really didn’t read SFWA’s statement on why they were doing it.

    Fifth, I think…but in 236, it doesn’t really matter much.

  5. (1) My violin is so tiny, I can’t find it.

    I am, as predicted, feeling worse. But still, there’s the whole “no broken bones, no bleeding, etc.,” thing, so patience seems recommended. And in 0411, we have a lot of practice being patient, since nothing happens fast.

  6. @Lis
    The one that totaled my car, way back in 1989, left me with a couple of cracked/broken ribs – not bad enough to need more than a rib-belt – and a sizable but painless bruise on one thigh, both, I think, from the gear-shift knob. I didn’t actually hurt except for the ribs, and they were more an ache than anything else.

  7. P J Evans: I get the impression he really didn’t read SFWA’s statement on why they were doing it.

    Oh, he read it, and he understands it perfectly well. He was the 2004 WotF winner and his wife was the 2018 winner. He’s drunk the Kool-Aid, and he’s defending something he supports.

    The organization behind the contest is also known for using a multitude of techniques to get what they want, including persuading people to act on their behalf and pressuring them with consequences if they decline to do so.

    I will be interested to see if there is any public comment from the SFF éminences grises who have been doing the WotF workshops and judging for years.

  8. @6: I don’t grasp from the excerpt whether Zinn&Chomsky were being deliberately provocative (not to mention untruthful, e.g. the attack on Mordor happens after the orc attacks on Helm’s Deep and Gondor) or just ignorant/dense, and I’m disinclined to read further.

    @11: The only George MacDonald I’ve read is At the Back of the North Wind, but I’m still not sure whether it’s genre or just the hallucinations of a child in poor health. I remember being fascinated by it in grade school but suspect I was missing large pieces of context.

    @JJ: I suppose I should not be croggled that there is a way to insert a violin glyph. (I remember when Unicode snottily said it was not going to have dead alphabets like Glagolitic — even though it had at least one of Tolkien’s Elvish scripts. That was a long time ago….)

    @P J Evans:

    1
    I get the impression he really didn’t read SFWA’s statement on why they were doing it.

    or he read the statement and figured if he put up and burned down a straw man he could sucker people into believing his version.

  9. Chip Hitchcock: Mmm, I took it to be a case where somebody made up the Zinn/Chomsky dialog altogether.

  10. Mike Glyer on December 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm said:
    Chip Hitchcock: Mmm, I took it to be a case where somebody made up the Zinn/Chomsky dialog altogether.

    Oh, it’s McSweeny’s. They’re completely made up comedy. Neither Zinn, nor Chomsky were actually involved in this.

    I literally was laughing so hard at this dialogue that I was tearing up.

  11. Pixel Scroll, Pixel Scroll!
    It’s Godstalk time in the city!
    I ticked the box.
    Damn it, I ticked the box!
    All right, I’ll comment again!

    OGH, Chip Hitchcock: re#6 — McSweeney’s is a “humour” site.

  12. (11) Branagh – As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related?
    For most of the film, Dead Again is certainly willing to let you believe that it is a ghost story.

  13. Branagh – As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — Anyone know of anything else genre related?

    Cinderella
    Macbeth
    The Magic Flute
    Hamlet

  14. As a fan of the Kim Possible series, I have to say that the trailer looked pretty awful.

  15. 2,3) It felt to me, at the start of the season, that the producers had taken an enormous risk with the main character, and so were disinclined to take any further risks. And I feel the same way at the end of a season of rather tame episodes. Not bad episodes, just… tame.

    I’ve got no problems with any of the casting – Jodie Whittaker has been great, and I seem to have a higher tolerance than most people for Bradley Walsh playing Bradley Walsh. But, as Camestros said in his review, they need to kick it up a notch or two. Here’s hoping they give the scripts an extra blast from the spice weasel during the coming hiatus.

  16. (6) THE DEFORESTATION OF MIDDLE-EARTH
    I don’t think history have been kind to this parody. 2003 was the year everyone discussed preemptive war and WMDs in the context of the Iraq invasion. The spoofed dialogue here is an obvious attempt at ridiculing arguments against the war. But in hindsight it’s the people who clamored for war who have been shown to be wrong – USA found no nuclear weapons facilities in Iraq, and Iraq didn’t turn into a peaceful democracy.

    Speaking of an alternate take on Lord of the Rings, I recommend the book The Last Ringbearer – written in Russian, with an English translation available as a free ebook from that url. It takes the starting point that LotR is history written by the winners, and tells a completely different story of the War of the One Ring – the elves are ruthless imperialists, Gondor their lackeys, Mordor a (mostly) innocent victim of the western aggression, etc. I thought it was a bit uneven – it’s best in the parts that most closely mirrors Tolkien, while a long section in the middle feels misplaced – but all in all worth reading.

  17. … that’s why I called the song Alice’s Pixel Scroll.

    Yay, title credit! Thanks Mike!

    (11) As for Branagh, Henry V may count as genre depending on whether or not you side with Glendower or Hotspur in Henry IV (“I can call spirits from the vasty deep.”/”Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?”)

  18. Scroll title: EArwormed (I just did listen to it on Thanksgiving, as I do every year, so it’s relatively fresh in my mind). Well done, Matthew 🙂

    And well done on the double Scrolling, Cam!

  19. 11) I’ve read MacDonald’s Phantastes and Lilith a couple of times, by virtue of their being part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. I got the feeling that there was all sorts of Symbolism and Allegory whizzing right past my head, but I enjoyed them (Phantastes in particular) just as a series of dream-like images.

  20. Also:
    Here we are, we’re the pixels of the universe!
    Here we belong, filing for scrollvival (oh dear no that line’s terrible, sorry)

  21. 11) Branagh is directing the Disney adaptation of the Artemis Fowl YA novels (which sound like SF/fantasy hybrids from this distant and ignorant viewpoint).

  22. (6): McSweeney’s can be very funny – I liked their takes on The Sound of Music

    https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-update-on-the-problem-of-maria

    Nuns have described Maria as “a headache,” “a demon,” and “capable of outpestering any pest.” Yet, when I put out a box to collect anonymous Maria-related complaints, many of them seemed relatively minor:

    – “She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee.” We are not Franciscans, but surely we can agree that a youthful heart often expresses its love of the Almighty through delight in nature. Besides, it’s spring; it’s like the hills are alive!

    and https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/i-regret-to-inform-you-that-my-wedding-to-captain-von-trapp-has-been-canceled

    I must confess to being rather blindsided by the end of our relationship. It seems Captain Von Trapp and I misunderstood each other. I assumed he was looking for a wife of taste and sophistication, who was a dead ringer for Tippi Hedren; instead he wanted to marry a curtain-wearing religious fanatic who shouts every word she says.

  23. @Chip Hitchcock

    I remember when Unicode snottily said it was not going to have dead alphabets like Glagolitic — even though it had at least one of Tolkien’s Elvish scripts. That was a long time ago….

    I represented Go Corporation on the Unicode Consortium in the early 1990s, and the rules we used were fairly simple: 1) we wanted to support every language that had a newspaper and/or scholarly texts regularly published in it 2) we wanted to support conversion back and forth between Unicode and all national standards. I’m 100% sure that none of Tolkien’s Elvish scripts was included. Esperanto was covered, but it was easily able to meet the newspaper requirement.

    Cuneiform wasn’t included because scholars who wrote about it always used romanized script plus photographs of tablets; there was no tradition of printed cuneiform in the modern literature.

    The one that made most people sad was Cherokee. There’s a lot of affection for Cherokee since it’s the only Native American language whose alphabet (syllabary, actually) was created by the Native Americans themselves. But it failed the newspaper test.

    When they expanded beyond the 32-bit limit (after my time there), they did add Cherokee and cuneiform, but the latter seems to have gone unused. I see there has been a proposal to include some of Tolkien’s glyphs since 1997, but there’s been no action on it in 20 years.

    Invented writing systems still don’t have a place in Unicode. However, Unicode has always included a “private use” page comprising 256 code points that could be given application-specific definitions. This was created at the insistance of Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, but I see that some people have used it to offer limited support for Elvish characters. That’s probably what you’re thinking of.

  24. I see that Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time is finally getting published in the US by Orbit, three years after its initial UK release. Does that make it Hugo eligible again? Will Hugo voters go for it?

    To me it’s one of the best ‘classic’ SF novels of recent years.

  25. Matthew Johnson: As for Branagh, Henry V may count as genre…

    My theory that every movie with Brian Blessed in it is genre may yet gain general acceptance!

  26. The pipe-weed based economy that McSweeney’s suggested was part of my first D&D campaign, many decades ago. 🙂

  27. @Greg Hullender: that is interesting; I’m also working from ~20-year-old memories, but I would have sworn the book I was working with had an Elvish section. (I remember being struck by the snippy putdown, which I do not recall citing newspaper use as a standard, because I’d sung Dvorak’s Msa Glagolskaja a couple of decades before.) Googling gets me a couple of 21-year-old proposals but nothing more recent.

  28. @microtherion Yeah, I mentioned the private use area. What happens with that is that someone can support new characters there if he/she has a font (and some way to input the characters). That works great for inputting and displaying them. But, if someone tries to copy/paste that text into another document, they’ll get gibberish. So the private-use area doesn’t really constitute support, and, of course, the Unicode Consortium explicitly did not assign any particular use to that page. (As you said, there are unofficial encodings there.)

    As for the roadmap, it does surprise me that that’s still there, but it just reserves a range of code points for an encoding that never got approved. I suppose if there were a lot of use of the private area in scholarly publications, that would make a case that it deserved it’s own area. My guess is that it’s just never been worth anyone’s while to remove it.

  29. @Chip Hitchcock
    There’s a big difference between the 16-bit zone and the 32-bit zone. The former is almost full, and so only things of real importance should go there. (The need to round-trip national character sets is where all the crazy dingbat characters came from.) The 32-bit zone (currently limited to just 1,000,000 characters) has lots more space, so they can be a lot freer in what they put there. That’s where you’ll find Glaolitic today. But, even so, the idea was to use that for scholarly purposes and to support tiny languages (including dead and dying ones), but not for people who just want to play games.

    Still, Esperanto made it into the 16-bit section (thanks to its newspapers and literature), so I think other constructed languages could do the same if they had sufficient staying power. I can see how Tolkien’s Elvish would be a debatable border case for the 32-bit zone. But I still agree entirely that rejecting Klingon was the right call.

  30. @Greg Hullender: As far as I know, there are no characters unique to Esperanto, just some accented Latin characters. Is that what you’re referring to?

    The closest to a conlang I know of in Unicode is Deseret, but that’s outside the basic plane.

  31. @Greg

    A code point is a code point; it doesn’t matter if it was derived from a latin letter or not.

    It matters inasmuch as the Esperanto characters could have been represented by an unaccented character + combining accent.

    Esperanto has 6 characters that don’t exist in any other language

    Looking through Wikipedia, it appears that only ? has truly no use outside Esperanto. But my point was really that Esperanto required very few extra code points, and practically no extra font design work, so support was relatively cheap (especially, as you point out, considering there exists a substantial body of printed material in it).

    In comparison, the elvish alphabets have about 100 characters each, and are basically used by a single author.

  32. @microtherion

    But my point was really that Esperanto required very few extra code points, and practically no extra font design work, so support was relatively cheap . . .

    Font-design issues didn’t matter to us, but number of code points did. You’re certainly right that it helped that the required number was quite small. Selling people on just 12 characters (counting upper and lower-case forms) is far easier than hundreds.

    However, I’d say our biggest mistake involved a refusal to add just two characters: the forms of the Turkish dotted and dotless ‘i’ that looked just like the ASCII i and I. That is, we added code points for İ and ı, but we refused to add them for I and i because we felt those already existed.

    It wasn’t just me; a majority opposed it. It seemed so obvious that adding these two characters was just wrong, and yet failure to add them has caused endless problems over the years in software designed to convert the case of text because it had to know what the language was to get it right. I’ve always felt bad that I was one of the ones who opposed adding those two characters. (Of course, we can’t tell whether that would have caused other, maybe worse, problems with things like sort order and searches, but I doubt it.)

  33. @Johan P: “I don’t think history have been kind to this parody …. The spoofed dialogue here is an obvious attempt at ridiculing arguments against the war.”

    I can see how you might come to that conclusion if you had never read McSweeney’s, but… no. It’s safe to say that there’s absolutely no chance the piece was intended that way. They’ve always been more absurdist than political, but whenever they wrote about the G.W. Bush administration and its works, including the war, it was with horror and derision.

    They’ve always been fond of doing pieces that mash up a number of unrelated things and then spin out the premise as far as possible, as one might do while stoned in a college dorm, and this is one of those. If I had to destroy the joke by explaining it, I would say that the joke here is basically: 1. for any story you can imagine, someone has an annoying contrarian take on it; 2. for many college students, the works of Chomsky and Zinn are their first exposure to the idea that a lot of what they were taught about American history was wrong, therefore it makes sense for Chomsky and Zinn to have a take on Tolkien that is entirely incompatible with how everyone else reads the books; 3. over-analyzing literature and making it do things it wasn’t intended to do is fun.

    (It’s also just innately funny to imagine this being the actual DVD commentary for the movies, and formatting it as dialogue allows it to wander from one riff to the next without having to try to present a coherent argument. I’m pretty sure I’ve read at least a half dozen “Sauron was really the good guy, what do you say to that, ha ha” pieces in prose form, and they’re never any fun. Here, there are characters.)

    Sorry to be wordy, but since McSweeney’s was one of my few sources of sanity in 2003, I don’t like to see it placed on the wrong side.

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