Pixel Scroll 12/5/17 Pixels Scrolling In An Open File

(1) PETER JACKSON MUSEUM PROJECT AT RISK. The New Zealand Herald says the Wellington City Council got a long grumpygram from the famed director: “Peter Jackson threatening to pull plug on Wellington’s movie museum”. There are 55 things he’s unhappy about.

The Wellington City Council is refusing to comment on reports Sir Peter Jackson is threatening to pull the plug on the capital’s $150 million Movie Museum.

The famous director has been working with the council to create the new attraction i but a report this morning claims that relationship could be on rocky ground after Sir Peter sent an angry letter to the council.

Councillors have described it as a “divorce letter”, according to Fairfax.

Fairfax reports Jackson sent the letter out of anger over how the council has been managing the museum plans.

(2) MIRRY CHRISTMUS. Adweek tells how “Air New Zealand’s Christmas Ad Takes the Piss Out of Its Own Country’s Accent”.

Deck the halls! It’s yet another ad in which the fictional inner workings of Santa’s workshop are imagined in elaborate detail. This time around, Santa is a kind of corporate virtuoso, seated behind a desk, where he takes direct calls from kids and manages linguistic switching with finesse while a fawning elf takes notes on a tablet.

Chinese? No sweat.

Then the New Zealanders start dialing in. What kind of kid asks for a new beard, a biscuit ball or an ear plane?


(3) MARKET DAY. The “SFWA Market Report For December” begins with —


Factor Four Magazine
If This Goes On

(4) DON’T GET ‘LOST IN SPACE’. “This Spacesuit Comes with a “Take Me Home” Button” — a patent has been filed.

The system can operate the jet pack autonomously or give the astronaut directions with a combination of visual, auditory and sensory cues through a web of sensors and a helmet visor display. If something were to happen during a spacewalk (also known as an Extravehicular Activity, or EVA) the self-return system can be initiated by the astronaut, a space station crewmember or mission control.

Draper’s “take me home” system features options. According to the patent, the spacesuit’s sensors can be configured to monitor movement, acceleration and relative position of the crewmember to a fixed object, such as an accompanying orbiting spacecraft. The navigation, guidance and control modules can also accommodate various scenarios. For instance, the navigation module can be configured using GPS, vision-aided navigation or a star-tracker system. To improve the astronaut’s positioning and orientation, Draper has developed software that fuses data from vision-based and inertial navigation systems and benefits from the advantages of both sensing approaches.

(5) NPR PICKS. The 374 books in “NPR’s Book Concierge, Our Guide To 2017’s Great Reads” include 54 in the science fiction and fantasy category.

(6) WINTER JACKETS. Six SFF wrappers made a Bookish list of “The Best Book Covers of 2017”.

People say you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but here at Bookish we’re not just readers—we’re cover-judging-rebels. As 2017 draws to a close, we wanted to pay homage to the incredible designs that stood out on bookstore shelves like works of art. Are you a rebel too? Let us know what your favorite covers of 2017 were!

But where are the covers from McEdifice Returns, I ask you?

(7) DID YOU HEAR THAT? As John Brunner said in The Shockwave Rider, “The Future arrived too soon and in the wrong order.” Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes argues “Don’t Buy Anyone an Echo”.

Let me make this point dreadfully clear, though: Your family members do not need an Amazon Echo or a Google Home or an Apple HomePod or whatever that one smart speaker that uses Cortana is called. And you don’t either. You only want one because every single gadget-slinger on the planet is marketing them to you as an all-new, life-changing device that could turn your kitchen into a futuristic voice-controlled paradise. You probably think that having an always-on microphone in your home is fine, and furthermore, tech companies only record and store snippets of your most intimate conversations. No big deal, you tell yourself.

Actually, it is a big deal. The newfound privacy conundrum presented by installing a device that can literally listen to everything you’re saying represents a chilling new development in the age of internet-connected things. By buying a smart speaker, you’re effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you. And I don’t mean to sound overly cynical about this, either. Amazon, Google, Apple, and others say that their devices aren’t spying on unsuspecting families. The only problem is that these gadgets are both hackable and prone to bugs.

(8) DARK INSIDE, Find out more about the new Netflix Dark series, including spoilers, in Camestros Felapton’s Dark Debrief”.

I’ve finished watching the German Netflix show Dark and it was indeed Dark. I also bought and ate a Twix today without thinking. Spoilers below as this post is for me to take stock and make notes of the twisty turns – particularly if there is a second season as the ending implies.

A fold and then don’t continue unless you like spoilers or have watched it all already.

To make life easier, characters get a year after their name so you know who is when. If I’ve got names wrong please correct me!

(9) TODAY’S STAR WARS CLICKBAIT. According to CheatSheet, “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ New Trailer May Have Answered This 1 Lingering Question”.

Fans will recall that in the main trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker says, “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” This comes after a scene in which Rey cracks the ground while training on Ahch-To, so it communicates the idea that Luke is actually scared of Rey because she is so powerful and does not want to train her.

But when Luke makes reference to seeing raw strength “once before,” who is he talking about, exactly? In the trailer itself, he doesn’t specify, and this is something fans have been in disagreement about.


  • December 5, 1980 Flash Gordon was released


  • Born December 5, 1890 – Fritz Lang
  • Born December 5, 1901 – Walter Elias Disney


(13) SIR PAT. Brent Lang of Variety, in “Patrick Stewart on ‘Logan,’ Harvey Weinstein and Returning to ‘Star Trek’”, learned that Sir Pat Stew was very proud of his work on Logan but “I cannot think of another chance” to play Jean-Luc Picard.

How did you prepare to play an aged Charles Xavier in “Logan”?

I lost 20 pounds. I’ve always been blessed by being able to lose weight easily, and I spread this out over the span of a few months so that it was easier to take. When I lose weight, it tends to be most noticeable in the face, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to look sick and undernourished and stressed and frail and vulnerable. Hugh had to carry me in the movie, and I assured him that I would do my damnedest to make sure I was carry-able.

Is this your last “X-Men” movie?

Oh, yes. Hugh had been on record that this would be his last time before “Logan” even started shooting. I hadn’t given it a thought until I saw the film for the first time with an audience at the Berlin Film Festival. It was Hugh and James Mangold and myself, and when it got to the last 10 minutes of the movie, it was emotional and intense, and I could feel myself getting choked up. Then I looked over at Hugh and he was wiping his eyes, and I thought if Wolverine can weep at a movie, Charles Xavier can do the same thing. Then Hugh reached over and grabbed my hand and we held hands for the rest of the movie.

(14) DYSTOPIC CHOW. An author and a chef imagine how we’ll eat if bees and fish vanish in “A Dinner at the End of Our World” at Atlas Obscura.

…The results were unfamiliar. Moss-green spirulina ice cubes kept diners’ drinks cool. Spirulina is super-nutritious microalgae that grows quickly, perfect for a food-scarce world. A soup of mussels and seaweed came with a lump of shrimp paste and encouragement to stir it in. This was intended to be a hopeful dish, symbolizing shrimp farms in small ponds that might be a vibrant future food source…

(15) PUPPY POWER. Milo Yiannopoulos is turning John C. Wright into the Hieronymous Bosch of the op-ed page at his new site Dangerous, in a biweekly feature titled Wright On What’s Wrong. The first 2,000-word opus, “This Christmas, Give Thanks or Get Stuffed”, asks —

Last week, did you notice Thanksgiving is dying?

I challenge you to find a line of thought which leads from that beginning to this sentence later in the essay: “His anus is turned inward.”

(16) EDIFICE COMPLEX. The BBC visits “The awe-inspiring buildings created as temples of tech”:

Each year, more than 100,000 visitors trek through and around a cluster of solemn, hauntingly impressive late-18th Century buildings on the hem of England’s Peak District National Park. This is Cromford Mill, Derbyshire, founded in 1771 by the entrepreneurial inventor Richard Arkwright. Here, long before Henry Ford was born, mass production began.

In these buildings – their floors free of partitions and with windows on all sides – water-mills powered looms that spun reams of cotton, 24 hours a day, the chattering machinery attended by children as young as seven, working 12-hour shifts. Cotton ceased spinning here in the 1840s as the great mills in and around Manchester took on the challenge of making and shipping cotton to the world. The massively ambitious Houldsworth Mill in Reddish, designed by Abraham Stott, was one of the mightiest temples yet devoted to industrial technology when it opened in 1865.

(17) SLOW VERNE. Galactic Journey’s Lorelei Marcus says your time machine can skip this first run movie: “[December 4, 1962] Like Five Weeks in a Theater (Five Weeks in Balloon)”

Everything before the balloon’s take off (the first 20 minutes or so) was funny, clever, and fast paced. The first scene, in which the professor and his inventor friend take reluctant investors on a demonstration flight, and then the next bit in which the professor prepares for the expedition and collects funds and crew, was quite fun to watch!

But once he’d picked up the American reporter, and the balloon took to the skies, the movie ground to a sudden halt. Unfortunately it never seemed to pick back up again either. The entire movie was: the balloon flies around, lands someplace; the crew gets out and gets into trouble, they run back to the balloon and fly away. There were no real conflicts, because they could always just retreat to the balloon and escape danger. Moreover, many of these scenes went on for ‘way too long. There was never any real tension through the whole movie, and without tight pacing of events, the movie felt like it was really dragging on for five weeks!

(18) DID IT HIMSELF. Move over, MIT: “Bored teen in Kentucky builds his own rollercoaster”. (Video.)

Logan Moore, 16, surprised family and neighbours when he quickly built a wooden structure in his backyard.

Chip Hitchcock comments, “I’m forgetting whether you ran the story about the MIT dorm that built a rollercoaster as part of freshman welcoming. Theirs was just a straight shot, even simpler than the one this guy built — but there are pictures of people riding the MIT coaster.”

(19) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. App calls on citizen scientists for Australia’s frog count.

Croaks and chirps. Even whistles and barks.

These are some of the sounds that Australian frogs make, and local biologists are hoping members of the public will help record them on a new app called FrogID.

It is part of a conservation effort to better track 240 frog species around Australia.

Scientists also believe the crowd-sourced mapping could lead to the detection of new species.

Australians are encouraged to record and upload the sounds of frogs they hear anywhere, from their suburban backyard to the outback.

(20)TODAY’S 10,000. Google pledges 10,000 staff to tackle extremist content.

Google will dedicate more than 10,000 staff to rooting out violent extremist content on YouTube in 2018, the video sharing website’s chief has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Susan Wojcicki said some users were exploiting YouTube to “mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm”.

She said the website, owned by Google, had used “computer-learning” technology that could find extremist videos.

More than 150,000 of these videos have been removed since June, she said.

(21) WOLVERINE DRAMA PODCAST COMING. Marvel New Media and top podcast listening service Stitcher today announced “Wolverine: The Long Night” , the first-ever Marvel scripted podcast, launching in spring 2018.

The 10-episode series will be available exclusively on Stitcher Premium until fall 2018, when it will see a wide release across all podcast platforms….

The show’s cast includes notable actors Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”), Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”), Bob Balaban (“Moonrise Kingdom”) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (“Mr. Robot”).

The “Wolverine: The Long Night” story is a captivating hybrid of mystery and the larger-scale fantasy of the Marvel Universe. It follows agents Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh) as they arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders and quickly discover the town lives in fear of a serial killer. The agents team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Richard Armitage). Their search leads them on a fox hunt through the mysterious and corrupt town….

Also cast in the series are actors Zoe Chao, Chaske Spencer, Jordan Bridges, David Call, Michael J. Burg and Lannon Killia. Chris Gethard, host of the popular “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People” podcast, also will make a cameo appearance.

(22) RENAISSANCE FARE. Zero emissions will soon be the new standard: “Electric black cabs hit London’s roads”

The cab costs £55,599 up from £45,000 for the newest petrol equivalent.

Chris Gubbey, boss of manufacturer the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) insists the cab will “play a major role in helping to improve air quality”.

The launch comes weeks ahead of rules requiring new cabs in the capital to be capable of emitting zero emissions.

More than 9,000 such taxis, roughly half the current black cab fleet, are expected on London’s roads by 2021.

Chip Hitchcock adds, “Did you know that the late Peter Weston’s firm (where the Hugos are made) makes the hand bars that make getting into and out of these cabs easier?”

(23) LETTER MAN. BBC meets the designer of “The typeface that helps dyslexics read”.

Dyslexie is a font that aims to overcome some of the problems that people with dyslexia can have when reading. Due to the way their brains process visual information, they will often subconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters, making it harder to recognise the characters.

It is thought that their brains start treating two-dimensional letters as three-dimensional objects that can be freely manipulated.

When this happens, the letter “b” can look like a “d”… or a “p” or a “q”. It is easy to see why this can quickly become confusing.

“Traditionally in typeface design, there are ‘rules’ that say it is best to make the letters as uniform as possible,” says Boer, now 36. “If you make the arch of an “h” the same as an “n”, it produces a typeface that is clean and quiet for ordinary readers. For me, these letters become three dimensional so you can turn them around and they begin to look alike. What I wanted to do was to slap these 3D letters flat.”

(24) JURASSIC APPETIZER. Here’s the teaser for the full trailer coming on Thursday –

(25) MORE PLAUDITS FOR MARLOWE. Francis Hamit takes another prize — “Christopher Marlowe Screenplay Wins Grand Jury Award At Sherman Oaks Film Festival”.

Francis Hamit’s “based on a true story” screenplay for the forthcoming feature film CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE has won the prestigious Grand Jury Award at the Second Annual Sherman Oaks Film Festival held in November.  This is the fourth major award for this unproduced screenplay.  Previous wins were at the GO Independent International Film Festival in Washington DC, The New Renaissance Film Festival in London, England and the 2016 Hollywood Book Festival.

The well-researched script about the Elizabethan-ere poet, playwright and secret agent for the Crown is a classic tragedy about a brilliant man undone by his own fatal flaws in the form of a spy thriller.


Festival director Jeff Howard and Francis Hamit.

(26) TRAVELER FROM AN ANTIC LAND.  Another testimony to TSA screening!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock (who really has something in today’s Scroll), Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

48 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/5/17 Pixels Scrolling In An Open File

  1. (23) LETTER MAN.

    Studies seem to indicate that changing the spacing of commonly-used fonts is as effective at assisting dyslexic readers as this special font.

    I actually found it noticeably harder to read than Arial and Verdana.

  2. (26) Note to self: Don’t try to sit next to Scalzi on a plane. It’s still dangerous, even here in 8022, because Scalzi is still around.

  3. I should know better to click through to a JCWrong piece. Even anonymously. Ugh. That poor man is so twisted into incoherence.
    Even as a 60+ never married ‘spinster’ I manage to find joy in the holidays with my niece and nephew and their children. And I have lots of friends, too.
    He must not. I feel sorry for him.

  4. (11) Happy birthday, Fritz Lang! Thanks for making one of my favorite movies.

    (15) No, thank you.

    (25) Yay! Would somebody make this, please?

  5. @techgrrl1972–Milos apparently doesn’t believe in editing. That seemed longer than John Galt’s speech. And just as full of gibberish.

    JCW starts off with a fallacy that only lives in his own mind. Unless he’s been used to Thanksgivings with women in bonnets and peaceful Indians bringing maize to his house, that is. If Thanksgiving is dying, they forgot to tell the rest of us. This year my Uncle Jerry came up from Florida and there was a houseful–some blood, some not. Just like always. Since it was at Dad’s, he made the turkey even after being told not to. I believe the words were along the lines of “You kids think I’m helpless just because I have to use that damn walker.”
    Everyone brings food; card and board games break out; the TV blares football; the dog eventually gets tired of the great-grandkids and hides. Phone calls from whoever couldn’t make it.
    Yeah–Thanksgiving is dying.
    Lord help us when it’s time for his Christmas piece. I have faith that he’ll reach even new heights of nonsense; pretentiousness and over-done wordiness.

    Oh yeah–why are his ilk so fascinated by filth?

  6. @Harold Osler: All my US friends here did something for thanksgiving this year too, despite being thousands of miles from home. If that’s what it looks like when a holiday is dying, I’d love to see one that’s very much alive.

    But as with everything JCW, he’s stuck very far back in a romanticised past that exists only within the confines of his mind.

  7. People who think any holiday is dying are most likely people without young enough kids.

  8. 1) Hunh. I remember that in Lexicon, this museum was hoped to be an additional attraction for the 2020 Worldcon guests.

    15) Well that…was Wrong.

  9. My thoughts on the NPR “best of 2017” books I have read:

    The Power:
    Pros — Easily one of my top books for this year, thought-provoking and riveting.
    Minor cons — Slightly weak characterization, often a book-killing flaw for me, was so compensated for by the strength of the ideas and events that I didn’t even mind.
    Would I put it on a best of 2017 list? Absolutely.

    The Stone Sky:
    Pros — A powerful end to a powerful trilogy.
    Minor cons — If this book is less emotionally gripping than the first two, it is also the one that takes the deepest look at the politics and psychology of oppression.
    Would I put it on a best of 2017 list? Yes.

    The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter:
    Pros — Really, really great concept.
    Cons — The execution did not, in my opinion, live up to the concept. I found myself disappointed overall.
    Would I put it on a best of 2017 list? No, probably not.

    Pros — An emotionally complex, beautifully written book by someone I consider one of the greatest writers currently living.
    Minor Cons — The plot mostly just meandered around, but I cared not in the slightest.
    Would I put it on a best of 2017 list? Sure.

    A Face Like Glass:
    Pros — A stunning YA fantasy novel absolutely packed with amazing ideas.
    Minor Cons — I’m … not sure why this is on a 2017 list when I read it about 4 years ago? I guess there’s a reprint edition?
    Would I put it on a best of 2017 list? Absolutely, if for whatever reason it counts as a 2017 book.

    The Hate U Give:
    Pros — An important, even necessary book, capturing something about our time and saying things that desperately need to be said.
    Cons — I was not always taken with the writing.
    Would I put it on a best of 2017 list? Probably. Definitely if it was a YA-specific list.

    Books on the NPR list I haven’t read but have been meaning to get to:
    Strange the Dreamer, Her Body And Other Parties, Meddling Kids, An Unkindness of Magicians, My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, Winter Tide, Spoonbenders, maybe Jade City, maybe River of Teeth, maybe The Seventh Function of Language

    Books that hadn’t really been on my radar until I noticed them on the NPR list and now I’m planning on getting to:
    The Alice Network

    Looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

  10. In honor of the scroll title, here’s Mark Evanier’s Mel Torme story, which he links to annually, and which I read several times a year. It’s not completely surprising that he keeps finding people who not only reprint this tale, but try to pass it off as their own.

    I had one once, but the scrolls filed off.

  11. That was a REALLY funny and very well made piece from Air New Zealand. Thanks for the link!

  12. @5: 11.3 (1 in process) of 54; one already on Mt. TBR, and I’m still looking through the list. (I should probably see what they recommend in mysteries, also — variety can be useful, and some of my old favorites are getting formulaic.)


    People who think any holiday is dying are most likely people without young enough kids.

    Kids may guarantee lack of forgetfulness, but aren’t necessary; I think everyone at the feast I went to was over 40. Or maybe Wrong is thinking about all of the commercial accretions designed to draw unformed minds? Strange, since he AFAICT he professes to be a conservative/originalist Christian and Thanksgiving’s origin (unlike that of Christmas) was a solemn festival (at least in intent — one can suspect any carousing was undocumented). There I go again, trying to get him to make sense….

    @9: is there a trick to getting through this, or have people just not bothered? It has taken me about a dozen clicks on the next arrow (in the spirit of “just how long can this take?” just to get to page 3; I’ve heard of clickbait, but this seems extreme.

    @Kyra: My copy of A Face Like Glass says ~”text copyright 2017; published in the UK in 2012″. It’s out from a small-looking press, with a note from Hardinge about being thankful it’s getting published; maybe her regular US publisher figured it wasn’t YA enough? I’m partway through and am thinking I’d be careful about who I gave it to.

  13. I didn’t read the John C. Wrong piece, but surely an inward turning anus is better than a prolapsed one?

    Also, Thanksgiving certainly isn’t dead in my family. I had 2 invites for Thanksgiving from two different cousins this year. Went to my cousin’s place in upstate NY. Had Thanksgiving with most of my mother’s side of the family. Turkey with all the fixings for most of us, and my vegan cousins brought tofurkey and red rice with lentils. This year I was smart and did not have a third helping of stuffing, and thus did not resemble the exploding gentlemen in the restaurant in that scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life when it came time for the pie.

  14. I tried out a speaker using Alexa.
    Lets just say, the disadvantage of using a voice controlled speaker became obvious when the music was too loud for Alexa to understand that i wanted to tone it down a notch. On the other hand, Overkill has to be played on maximum volume, so I give Alexa that.

  15. In Wright’s defense*, if you go on a typical online forum these days, you’re far more likely to encounter people who have no particular plans for Thanksgiving than you did twenty years ago. Of course, this is because a lot of forums are less dominated by Americans than they were twenty years ago.

    I’m not sure I’d describe “the Internet has increasingly global scope” as “Thanksgiving is dying.” But maybe that’s why I’m not beloved by the insular, crazed, far-right, nationalist, racist, etc. crowd. 🙂

    * For some sarcastic value of “defense”.

  16. @Cathy: “I didn’t read the John C. Wrong piece, but surely an inward turning anus is better than a prolapsed one?”

    This world would surely be a better place if more anuses turned inward. That’s as true of 8866 as it is of your ancient time.

  17. Two New Zealand & an Australian pixel? It’s a Scroll Down Under!

    The last few days have been sunny & unseasonably warm as we approach Christmas. It’s looking to be a hot dry summer.

  18. Well. I keep wanting to suggest Scrollhenge, and now that I’ve checked, I see that Mark suggested it two years ago.

    So: What Mark said.

  19. “reams of cotton”? It is now a requirement to be semi-literate to be hired to write for any “journalism” organization? Try bales, mounds or masses for a start.

  20. “reams of cotton”? It is now a requirement to be semi-literate to be hired to write for any “journalism” organization? Try bales, mounds or masses for a start.

    @ T. Wright Barnes:

    Before you write for any “journalism” organization. you should be semi-literate at the very least.Try “bales,” “mounds” or “masses” for a start.

    Quite an improvement, don’t you think? I do prefer the Oxford comma myself.

  21. I tend to think of myself as not being a very prolific reader. (Unavoidable when you hang out online with the likes of Liz Bourke and James Nicoll.) But I’ve just pulled together my traditional (for the second year running!) annual “What Hath She Wrote” blog post, and according to it, I posted reviews of 29 works of fiction this year, compared to the 23 I posted last year. (Publications covered on my history blog stand stable at 27, but I had a bit of a hiatus in the early part of this year while the history blog content was being migrated to my website and it would have messed up the system if I’d posted new content.)

    Overall countable blog content in the summary (i.e., not counting promotional announcements and administrative posts) was also up from 154 in last year’s summary to 180 in this year’s. (Overall total postings appear to be down, though. I count those for the strict calendar year and there’s no way I can beat last year’s 333 starting from my current 245, given there are only 25 more days in the year.) So I guess I did sort-of follow through on my new year’s resolution that I wouldn’t kill myself trying to blog at least five days a week.

    If my content weren’t so all over the map, I might actually have people thinking of me as a blogger!

  22. (20) A nice idea if they could be trusted to execute that policy evenly.

    Google’s YouTube has demonetized Prager University and put designated their videos as inappropriate for a younger audience. Their videos are appropriate for all audiences. Politics would be the easy explanation.

    Lots of other videos seem to have avoided that fate.


  23. Dann: Politics would be the easy explanation.

    Hate speech and incitement to violence would be the more likely explanation. 🙄

  24. I do not understand all this A Face Like Glass love. I got as far as the Putty Girl audition and then went “The worldbuilding in this book makes no sense whatsoever and the characters aren’t interesting enough to save it from this fact” and stopped reading. The setting as written is so utterly implausible on the face of it as to be laughable– I just kept going “People do not work that way!”

  25. @Kit M. Harding: part of the worldbuilding is that people do act that way in that world — which is rather blatantly artificial (e.g., dependent on the surface world). Have you read any other Hardinge? She does tend to show societies (even ones very similar to ours) under extraordinary stresses, and IMO makes them make sense.

  26. If anyone is attending Arisia: The Journal of Improbable Research is looking for volunteer readers to give brief presentations on the Ig Nobel Awards at the Con.

    From the sounds of things, this will be a bit like an Eye of Argon reading, but with science papers substituting for the bad Epic Fantasy. 🙂

    If you or someone you know might be interested, the details are here.

  27. @Chip: No. I had The Lie Tree on my list, but since everyone was talking about how A Face Like Glass was so wonderful for being a typical example of Hardinge, I figured it probably wasn’t something I was interested in reading– you can’t just take a book and go “in this society people do act like that” without having some sort of plausible explanation for how and why, one that doesn’t come apart when you pull the thread.

  28. Moments of purest Meredithery: Elizabeth Hand’s (numinous) Wylding Hall is $1.99. If that’s not enough, Waking the Moon is $1.39 and there’s an omnibus edition of the Winterlong trilogy for $5.71.

  29. @Chip Hitchcock

    Thanksgiving’s origin (unlike that of Christmas) was a solemn festival

    Sometimes Americans ask me if we have Thanksgiving in Switzerland. I explain to them that we have a “National Day of Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Prayer” which falls on a Sunday, and most kinds of public amusement (Sports, concerts, dancing) used to be or still are banned.

  30. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve always assumed that Thanksgiving was in some way a survival of St. Martin’s Day, when animals who were unlikely to live through the winter (or for whom their simply wasn’t enough food stored to get through the winter) were slaughtered and eaten, leading to an unusual surplus of meat. St. Martin’s emblem was also a goose, and thus eating a goose on his day was traditional in many countries.

    According to this St. Martin’s Day is still observed in many European countries, so I would suggest that those trying to explain Thanksgiving to non-Americans say “It’s like St. Martin’s Day, but with a bigger bird and more family drama.”

    (Canadian Thanksgiving, however, defies explanation to anyone.)

  31. Goose is still eaten for St. Martin’s Day in many parts of Germany. There also are St. Martin’s Day marches, where groups of children walk around with paper lantern and sing songs.

    We also do celebrate a form of Thanksgiving based on the Christian harvest festival, which usually takes place in late September/early October. Churches are festively decorated on this day and a harvest crown is wound from straw and grains and hung up inside the church. In rural areas, there is also a parade with floats and wagons decorated by local sports clubs and the like. The harvest crown is always driven around town on the second wagon (the first is a fire engine to clear the roads).

    Celebrating the harvest and being thankful for having sufficient food is a longstanding tradition that goes back to pre-Christian times. The American Thanksgiving is just one expression of this and one that comes at a very unusual time of year for a harvest festival at that.

  32. @Kit M. Harding: What kind of how-and-why would be satisfactory and wouldn’t get in the way of the story? This is highly subjective, but I’m inclined to give a lot more room to a society that doesn’t claim to be an offshoot of anything we know (I’m looking at you, L. Neil Smith). No explanations means no loose threads to pull — and there are enough oddities (to Anglo eyes) in real societies (present and past) that I’m wary of rejecting a design out of hand. The idea of masking one’s true emotions is hardly novel — see “The Moon Moth” (1961) for an in-genre example; I also note that Hardinge hints early-on (and demonstrates later) that newborns (raised in creches instead of by their parents) are conditioned to specific expressions by nurses with neutral masks.
    Or you might just find that The Lie Tree and Cuckoo’s Egg, which are set in something like recent Britain, are more to your taste — although I’ll warn you (given your objections here) that part of the reading is gradually discovering how the setting got into the fix it’s in. If not — well, everyone has the gout….

    @Matthew Johnson: the Pilgrims would probably not have had that choice to make; I doubt they brought quantities of domestic animals in their tiny ship (especially since they were aiming for an established colony), and according to notes from the time they had a multi-day hunting expedition to fill their tables. I read a long time ago that the slaughter day in older Britain was Samhain rather than St. Martin’s, but am not sure a particularly rigorous strand of Christianity would have observed either that or a Papist holy day. But it was certainly a more solemn day than it is now — although I’ve read claims recently that the Pilgrims were not as anti-hedonistic as the Puritans who came to Boston a few years later.

  33. @Matthew Johnson:

    (Canadian Thanksgiving, however, defies explanation to anyone.)

    I usually just point out to Americans that Thanksgiving is, primarily, a harvest festival, and the first frost (and thus the end of the harvest) comes earlier up here.

    When you put it that way, I guess you’re right: the Canadian one isn’t early, the American one is unusually late.

  34. “Goose is still eaten for St. Martin’s Day in many parts of Germany. There also are St. Martin’s Day marches, where groups of children walk around with paper lantern and sing songs.”

    We do have Maarten Goose (Mårten Gås) in Sweden, but only in the southern parts. I think it is much more common in Denmark.

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