Pixel Scroll 12/14/20 Vader Di, Vader Da, Life Goes On, Hey

(1) TOP SHELF. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog shares some interesting insights: “Interview: Guest Lecturer David Farland”.

You write under Dave Wolverton for science fiction stories and David Farland for fantasy stories. How did you decide on using two names for your fiction? When would you advise writers to use pseudonyms?

“Wolverton” is a cool enough name for a writer, but so often my books ended up on the bottom shelf. I thought only garden gnomes walking through the store were likely to find them. In fact, research done by Campbell’s Soups showed that 92% of people won’t stoop over to get their favorite soup from the bottom shelf. So think about it. Does that mean that 92% of my readers were being lost?

Maybe I wasn’t losing quite that many, but I think it makes a difference.

So, why change your name?

Change it if it is too close to another famous author’s name. For example, if you’re named Steve King, change your name.

Change it if it’s unpronounceable or offensive. I used to have a good friend whose last name was Shnitz. I’d change it.

Change it if it’s too long to fit on a cover. My real name, at nine letters, was a tad too long.

Change it if you’re writing to vastly different audiences. I used to know a writer who wrote erotica under one name but wrote for Christian audiences under another. He actually used more than twenty pseudonyms since he wrote for a lot of different magazines.

Basically, I try to put pride in my work, not my name. My writer’s name is just a marketing tool, not my identity.

(2) OUR ONLY HOPE. Eric Gansworth may or may not spoil The Mandalorian in “Mute Force: Why #NativeTwitter Couldn’t Stop Talking About Baby Yoda” at Literary Hub – read at your own risk!

…  Several generations later, my family prefers social media. Even members who hate technology have Twitter accounts and they share. Because traditional Indian arts rely on the supply and demand of in-person sales, our forms often include fresh subjects. Nephews send me links to Pacific Northwest superheroes and Star Wars, dubbed into Dine (Navajo). If Tuscarora or Onondaga did this, I’d be all over the effort. I’ve memorized an inappropriate percentage of Star Wars dialogue, and I spoke Tuscarora decently as a kid. The infrastructure is there in my head. I have a kid’s love for Star Wars, less embarrassed than a lot of middle-aged men. I’ve owned a beaded Batman belt-buckle for over half my life. The adult half.

Star Wars is a lens Indians have readily adopted. I love the weird visual pun of a white Rez Dog rocking an orange Stormtrooper pauldron. I also understand the brilliance of the Dine language dub. We recently lost our last Tuscarora continuous fluent speaker, in his nineties. Younger people long studied with him, but now that door is closed. We understand Princess Leia seeking Obi-Wan Kenobi. Her Only Hope was an elder’s endurance. Now that ours is gone, our language fragments float in space like Alderaan, destroyed by the Empire’s weapon, the oo-nih-SEH`rheh Gih-heh. Is it too late to reassemble and master those fragments? If someone started scrolling through my phone pics, could I tell them in Tuscarora that it’s not the droid they’re looking for? Could we laugh?

I love that Twitter doesn’t require an account. Lurking, I stumbled upon #NativeTwitter. Like many Rez gatherings, it has undercurrents of just deadly grousing and gossip, sick burns and sometimes out and out raw belligerence and trolling people who should know better. But as often, it’s an auger for indigenous sweet spots. I’ve regularly seen beginning beadwork artists ask for and receive help. It gives me hope, but not enough to create an account. I know my limitations, or some of them, anyway….

(3) THE MCKELLEN CONNECTION. We linked to David Steffen’s introductory “Universal Transitive Headcanon (UTH)” which explains the concept. Today he put up the first post applying the concept: “UTH #1: The Story of Gandalf and Magneto” at Diabolical Plots. Steffen says, “I could not be more delighted with how it turned out.”

… It is no wonder, then, that even after saving most of the then-known world from the evil power of Sauron yet again, that Gandalf would become embittered and, not only take on an entirely new persona of Eric Lensherr/Magneto (X-MenX2: X-Men United, etc), but turn his back on his prior methods and many of the people he had fought to protect….

(4) READ MORE ABOUT PHYLLIS EISENSTEIN. Bill Higgins notes, “Phyllis and her husband Alex have been good friends to me for over forty years.  I wrote a little over at Making Light. She had friends everywhere across the SF world, I believe, and she leaves behind a large empty space in Chicago fandom.”


  • December 14, 1984 — On his day in 1984, Dune premiered. It was directed by David Lynch and produced by  Raffaella De Laurentiis, the screenplay was by David Lynch from the Hugo Award winning novel by Frank Herbert.  It starred Francesca Annis, Linda Hunt, Sting, Kyle MacLachlan and a cast of thousands. It did spectacularly poorly at the box office and was treated rather badly by critics. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes however give a quite spectacular sixty six percent rating. It would place in fourth in Hugo voting at AussieCon Two (1985) with 2010: Odyssey Two winning that year.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 14, 1869 – Elphinstone Dayrell.  His Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria (1910; he was then District Commissioner) published forty tales, many fantastic; the text, with its introduction by Andrew Lang, is here; most reprinted 2019 with much else in African Myths & Tales.  (Died 1917) [JH]
  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has been made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story which recently was made into a series.  I see that’s she’s written quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? (Died 1965.) (CE)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books particularly her historical fiction which  involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.) (CE) 
  • Born December 14, 1939 – John Baxter, age 83.  Four novels, a dozen shorter stories; two Pacific Book of SF anthologies; film (including SF in the Cinema and biographies of e.g. Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini), television; four volumes of memoirs; letters, essays in Australian SF ReviewRelapse (which I wish had kept the title Prolapse, but what do I know?), Riverside QuarterlySF CommentaryTrap DoorXero.  [JH]
  • Born December 14, 1946 – Jenny Sullivan, Ph.D., age 74.  A score of books for us, a dozen others, with Welsh themes, some in both Welsh and English.  Chilton Bursary.  Two Tir na n-Og Awards.  Returns to visit Wales from her current home in Brittany.  Would you like to know about a Magic Apostrophe?  Do you think a girl your age named Astarte Perkins might make a good friend?  [JH]
  • Born December 14, 1959 Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed, a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky. (Died 2018.) (CE)
  • Born December 14, 1960 Don Franklin, 60. He’s best known for his roles in seaQuest DSV as Commander Jonathan Ford, Seven Days as Captain Craig Donovan, and as one of The Young Riders as Noah Dixon). No, the last isn’t remotely genre but it was a great role. (CE) 
  • Born December 14, 1964 Rebecca Gibney, 56. She was of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and was also in King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes mini-series. She also had one- offs in Time TraxFarscape and The Lost World, all of which were produced either in Australia or New Zealand, convenient as she’s  New Zealand born and resident. (CE) 
  • Born December 14, 1966 Sarah Zettel, 54. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start. (CE) 
  • Born December 14, 1967 – Ewa Bialolecka, age 53.  (The software won’t show some characters in her name; it should have a kreska ukosna “stroke” through each – so they’re like English – and an ogonek “little tail” on the – so it’s nasal; the is like English v, the is like English ts.)  Two novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Two Zajdel Awards.  Also stuffed creatures, stained glass, drawings, jewelry; see her at DeviantArt.  [JH]
  • Born December 14, 1979 – Samit Basu, age 41.  A dozen novels, a few shorter stories; comics; film.  Turbulence and sequel Resistance much applauded e.g. in Wired.  Here is a 2017 interview.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1980 – Ma Boyong, age 40.  A dozen novels; also a columnist and blogger.  The First Emperor’s Games is about the first Emperor of China: what if he could play video games like Risk (yes, based on the board game) or Angry Birds?  It, The City of Silence, and The Mark Twain Robots are available in English.  People’s Literature Prize (2010).  [JH]


  • Not Pulp Covers hosts an artist’s conception of an accident between Santa and a UFO.

(8) INDIE GONE WILD. This is the kind of thing I’d expect to see at Mad Genius Club.

(9) MAKER. Here is a Swede who built his own Warhammer space marine 2.7 meters tall – see the video at SVT Nyheter (and read about him if you know Swedish.)

He previously built a panzerbear from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – video and a full report in Swedish here.

(10) ELIGIBILITY BUNDLE. When I checked this “Round-up of Awards Posts by F&SF Writers, Editors, and Publishers for 2020” there were almost 150 author links.

(11) EXOCOMPLEXO. Tickets are available for “Cool Worlds: The Search for Exoplanets Livestream” on December 18 hosted by the American Museum of Natural History.

Can rocky planets around small stars hold onto their atmospheres? Are super-Earths habitable?

Laura Kreidberg, exoplanet atmosphere specialist and director of the APEx Department at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, reviews the latest controversies and recent discoveries of exoplanet research.

Exoplanet detection may be old news—over 4,000 have been discovered to date—but the new frontier lies in unraveling the composition of exoplanet atmospheres, their number of moons, and whether they hold the potential for life. In this month’s Frontiers Lecture, investigate how researchers approach these questions and the scientific processes and evidence supporting their hypotheses.

(12) DAILY DISASTER. And at Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll’s equation is “More Planets, More Problems: The Pessimist’s Guide to Galactic Expansion”.

Suppose for the sake of argument the Kepler data is correct when it suggests there are as many as three hundred million (300,000,000!) potentially life-bearing worlds orbiting sunlike stars in our Milky Way. Suppose we win the jackpot and they are all Earthlike enough for us to occupy. Suppose further some grand unified polity spans the whole of the Milky Way, in the manner of Asimov’s Galactic Empire. Among the many implications is the fact that the Ministry of Oh Crap What Now would have to deal with rare natural events relatively frequently. No doubt stressful for our overworked functionaries, but a godsend for SF authors with an appetite for thrilling peril….

(13) AUNT MAN. Gizmodo’s James Whitbrook knows why they look familiar: “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: ABC’s Zelda and Hilda Return”.

Sabrina’s aunts are back! But…they’re not the aunts that this Sabrina is familiar with.

Netflix has just dropped a majorly tease-y clip from the upcoming final season of Chilling Adventures, in which Sabrina, unsure of just where she actually seems to be, finds herself meeting her “new” Aunts…except, well, they’re her old aunts.

(14) PSA. The Monster Movie Music blog has created another text-and-stills post from an old film: “DON’T BE AFRAID / Growing Up In the Early Fifties”.

Strangely enough, I found this one on Something Weird’s MONSTERS CRASH THE PAJAMA PARTY Spook Show Madness compilation DVD. 

It’s about kids and their fears, and how to conquer them, a public service short produced by Encyclopedia Britannia Films that was probably shown to 4th graders back in the day….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY.  It’s from 2018, but Whitney Avalon’s Aladdin “Friend Like Me” Mary Poppins style is news to me.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, David Steffen, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Bill Higgins, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus inspired by Bill with an assist from OGH.]

25 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/14/20 Vader Di, Vader Da, Life Goes On, Hey

  1. (3) Trapped in the past, James T. Kirk finds work as a police office named Hooker, who sublimates his desire to return to space by riding on the hoods of fleeing vehicles, before moving into law, inspired by Sam Cogsley, his irascible defender at courts martial…

  2. @Andrew (not Werdna): Robert Anton Wilson, of all people, used to regularly claim that he was working on writing the story of how Kirk went back in time to become Hooker. (This was before Boston Legal aired.)

  3. Whitney Avalon was news to me to but she is very talented and has a great voice. I look forward to seeing more of her work.

  4. I am the Sith man, I am Darth Sidious , R2D2!


    DUNE was such a disappointment despite a great cast & costuming. I can watch it now & appreciate it despite its flaws, but when I saw it on the big screen for the first time, the opening sequence was a foreshadowing. Fremen marching in lockstep across sand dunes?! Don’t they know that sandworms are attracted to rhythmic vibrations!? Kyle MacLachlan playing Paul who is supposed to be in his mid-teens? And what’s up with the sonic weapons? Cool though they were, they did not exist in the book.

  5. Soon Lee says DUNE was such a disappointment despite a great cast & costuming. I can watch it now & appreciate it despite its flaws, but when I saw it on the big screen for the first time, the opening sequence was a foreshadowing. Fremen marching in lockstep across sand dunes?! Don’t they know that sandworms are attracted to rhythmic vibrations!? Kyle MacLachlan playing Paul who is supposed to be in his mid-teens? And what’s up with the sonic weapons? Cool though they were, they did not exist in the book.

    Fair warning: Timothée Chalamet is twenty five now which make him twenty three or so when they started filming this Dune. So once again Paul is much older than he should be. I’m not why film directors have such a hard time grasping what the proper age of this character though the Syfy Children of Dune series did cast him properly as Paul Newman who played him was sixteen at the time of filming.

  6. @Cat — I think Timothee Chalamet works for Paul because he is young-looking. Maybe not as young as 15, but his delicacy seems Paul-like to me, plus he’s a very good actor. I was pleased with the choice.

  7. @Cat Eldridge

    Timothée Chalamet looks youthful enough to be plausible, so I have no problem with that. The trailers look intriguing & I have enjoyed previous Denis Villeneuve movies (Arrival was great, and Bladerunner 2049 was decent) so I am hopeful.

  8. @Soon Lee And what’s up with the sonic weapons? Cool though they were, they did not exist in the book.

    I found the sonic weapons annoying too, but the alternative would have been a series of infodumps about the sardaukar and Bene Gesserit cultural engineering and Tough Planets for Tough Warriors – not very cinematic. And since they’d already made the Voice into something more like magic than psychology for the same reason, I can see the logic.

    1) Also fine to change your name if it is your identity, of course. Pick something you really like – it’s easier than most people think here in the U.K. But consider keeping your initials if you’re going to be signing your new name a lot.

  9. I’m another who really disliked the Dune movie when I initially saw it, but now kind of enjoy watching it. And yes, I found the weirding module and the weirding way particularly offensive. And the fact that it rained at the end, seemingly implying Paul is some sort of genuine messiah.

  10. @Cliff, the rain at the end of Lynch’s Dune enraged me. Not only does it make Paul a genuine-religious-Messiah, but it collapses the whole ecology of Arrakis, not to mention the Galactic economy, and strips Paul of his power base in two different ways. Rain=No sandworms=no spice. Rain=no Fremen=no just-as-tough army to take against the Sardukkar. (Sorry if the spelling is incorrect; I’ve not read the novels in upwards of twenty years.)

  11. 15) This has aimed me at Princess Rap Battles. Between it and Epic Rap Battles of History, I’ll be entertained for a long time.

  12. The Lynch Dune was, I think, the first time I learned it was possible for a movie I really, really wanted to like to be actually bad, no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise. (And I don’t recall the details, but actually seeing it in the theater was more of a struggle than it should’ve been because the theater was a few miles away, I didn’t drive, and it was one of those subzero days with double digit windchills, so I think I might have had to wait a few days instead of sitting there on opening night.)

    I do like a lot of the cast and the visuals, but it’s just not a very good adaptation of the book and not a very good film on its own terms.

  13. I have to say I enjoyed the David Lynch Dune, even as a picky teenager. It was obviously a bit of a mess, but the design was good and it worked as an evocation of the setting even when it wasn’t very coherent or much like the book. And really, the setting and the melodrama that goes with it are what the novel is actually worth reading for, even if it is a bit more thinky than the usual swashbuckler.

  14. Nerd thing to do for the holidays: make a gingerbread Black Hole.

    (Via Frisbie <- the General Technics board <- Brother Guy)

  15. I read the first Dune novels as they appeared in Analog, and I may have followed up with the next two over the years. I know that I re-read those three after seeing the movie, which struck me as a terrific piece of visual design but (as Sophie Jane put it) a bit of a mess as a representation of the book’s ideas. What I noticed on the re-read was the deep ironies that undermine any epic-heroic possibilities. Saviors are bunk, dynasties are bunk, religion is bunk. It’s pretty bleak–the Frank Herbert of The Santaroga Barrier or Hellstrom’s Hive.

  16. John Baxter has also written a number of books about Paris and French life (I’ve read two, and they were wonderful) and A Pound of Paper, about the book hunting and selling business, also recommended. His website, johnbaxterparis.com, says he does literary tours of that city.

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