Pixel Scroll 1/2 Sacrificing Poisoned Pixels While Dancing Naked in the Scrolls

(0) APOLOGY TENDERED. Greg van Eekhout is quite right to be displeased —

I was so struck with the association sparked between two posts about not having a book out in 2016 that I quite insensitively plowed over the real life causes he was relating. I apologize for making light of his situation.

(1) HOW TO IMPROVE. Sherwood Smith’s post “Beginning Writer Errors” at Book View Café shares the distilled wisdom she found in an old set of notes taken during a Loscon panel by that name.

I think these lists interesting mostly because they reveal writerly process at least as much as they do beginner errors. Some of the best discussion arose out of what some considered no error at all, and others considered advice for revision, not for first draft errors, and what the difference was.

For pants writers (those who sit down and let the tale spin out through their fingers before going back to see what they have) one set of rules might be helpful and another useless; for plotters and planners, a completely different set….

Panelist’s Three’s list suggests to me that that writer works by a completely different process:

  1. Ending every chapter on a transition.
  2. Letting the narrative voice tell readers what to think.
  3. Long, clumsy sentences.

To number one, half the panelists disagreed. Note: “transitions are natural chapter breaks.” The writer defended it: “this pattern reads artificial.”

(2) HELP HELPS. “Joe Hill Calls Bullshit On The Crazy Artist Cliché” by Hayley Campbell at Buzzfeed.

“I was just really paranoid and really depressed and really unhappy and full of really nutty ideas. I would call my dad with my latest crazy ideas and he would patiently listen. He was the only person who could listen to me. And he’d talk me through and explain why my latest idea about being pursued and prosecuted and persecuted was irrational.”

Hill wouldn’t go into what he calls his “terrible, lunatic notions”, because he doesn’t like revisiting them. But eventually his dad suggested that seeing someone professionally could help him out – an idea Hill had resisted because he was convinced the paranoia and “lunatic ideas” were connected to his creativity. “I thought if I got help, I wouldn’t be able to write any more.”

It all goes back to another cliché: the crazy artist. But as a crazy artist, he got no actual work done. The three novels he couldn’t finish are testament to that cliché being bullshit.

“I got into therapy and I got on a pill, and what I discovered was getting help didn’t make me less creative. What was making me less creative was being a depressed crazy person. Figuring out how to be happy and have fun with the kids again, how to have fun with my life and work, actually made me a better writer, not a worse writer.”

(3) BEST SF FILMS OF 2015. JJ says Brian Merchant’s “The 11 Sci-Fi Films That Defined 2015”at Motherboard is “A ‘Best SF Films’ list that isn’t just a re-hash of other lists.” Part of the proof – The Martian ranks ahead of The Force Awakens – and three other movies rank above them.

The major themes that bubbled up in the year’s science fictional slipstream included income inequality, artificial intelligence, transgender rights, and the power and necessity of the scientific endeavor itself. Young adult dystopias showed signs of flagging, while classic-mold sci-fi mega franchises boomed (with one exception). There were not one but two great feminist-leaning SF films; one a bona fide blockbuster hit, another a powerful, slow-burning indie. There was an already-beloved animated short about our possible futures.

(4) THE HEISENBERG CERTAINTY PRINCPLE. Jonathan M is right, however, it is equally clear that when no one was paying attention to them, they were not starved out of existence for lack of it.

(5) STEAMING PILE. Just one person’s opinion, but I think this logo (first posted last April) isn’t that different from the real 1988 Hugo Award base.

1988 Hugo Award base by Ned Dameron

1988 Hugo Award base by Ned Dameron


  • BORN January 2, 1920 – Isaac Asimov

(7) JASON WINGREEN OBIT. Yahoo! News reports actor Jason Wingreen passed away January 1.

The Brooklyn native appeared in three episodes of The Twilight Zone, most notably portraying the real train conductor in the 1960 episode in “A Stop at Willoughby.” …[He] died a memorable death as Dr. Linke on the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Empath.”

… On The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Wingreen auditioned for the part of Yoda. He didn’t get that role (Frank Oz did), but he was given four lines of dialogue spoken by the masked Boba Fett, the feared bounty hunter who captures Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

“I think the actual work, aside from the hellos and goodbyes and all that, could have been no more than 10 minutes,” he said. He received no credit for his work (it didn’t become publicly known that the voice was his until about 2000)…

(8) MEADOWLARK LEMON OBIT. Meadowlark Lemon, who passed away December 27, starred in a few Saturday morning outings (animated, and otherwise) as James H. Burns recalls in an appreciation written for the NY local CBS affiliate website.

In 1979, there was yet another Globetrotters cartoon, The Super Globetrotters, in which they became super heroes, but Lemon was not part of that mix. That same year, though, he co-starred in the fantasy comedy theatrical feature film, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (along with Julius Erving (Doctor J!), Debbie Allen and Stockard Channing). According to some sources, the movie–about a failing professional basketball team, saved by stocking its roster according to the players’ astrological signs–has developed something of a cult following….

(9) FIFTH! “Indiana Jones 5 Confirmed By Disney” is the headline. Tarpinian’s suggestion for the movie title is “Indiana Jones and the Rocking Chair of Gold.”

Speaking to Yahoo earlier in 2015, Spielberg said he’ll likely work on the film and that it would star Harrison Ford. Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt were rumoured to play a younger version of the archeologist.

He said: “Now I’ll probably do an Indy 5 with Harrison, [so] it’ll be five for Harrison, four for Tom [Hanks].”

In a separate interview with French radio RTL, Spielberg said: “I am hoping one day to make it to an Indiana Jones V. I would hope to make it before Harrison Ford is 80 and I get much older.”

Spielberg’s quotes suggests that both he and Harrison Ford are on board for the sequel, though neither has officially said as much.

(10) FIRST! While you’re waiting for the new Indy film, Open Culture recommends you click on “Great ‘Filmumentaries’ Take You Inside the Making of Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jaws.

Even casual filmgoers will recognize these movies, and they’ll feel, shortly after pressing play on [Jamie] Benning’s Inside Jaws and Raiding the Lost Ark, as if they’ve just settled in to watch them again, though they’ll see them as they never have before. Serious film fans will, as the form of the filmumentary emerges, recognize the basis of the concept. Described as “visual commentaries,” these productions take the concept of the commentary track and step it up considerably, overlaying the original film’s soundtrack with the words of a veritable chorus of those who worked on it — actors (even some not ultimately cast), crew members, designers, producers, hangers-around — sourced and sometimes even recorded by Benning.


(11) LOGAN’S RUN AND AUTHOR APPEARANCE. William F. Nolan, co-author of Logan’s Run, will be on hand when the Portland Geek Council presents the film Logan’s Run on January 17.

(12) TWU WUV.  “Jared Weissman Made Harry Potter Fictional Wizard’s Broomstick For Girlfriend”. With DIY photos taken as he made a copy of the Nimbus 2000.

“Shelby has been obsessed with Harry Potter for a long time now and about a year ago decided she wanted to start collecting prop replicas,” Weissman told Mashable in an email. “We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this past summer where she bought the Sorcerer’s Stone, Tom Riddle’s diary, and a plaster scroll that says Dumbledoor’s Army with 6 wands mounted on it (Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Luna, Neville, and Ginny).”

From that point on, it was pretty clear to Weissman what the perfect Christmas gift for Shelby would be.

(13) FROSTY PERSONALITY. The Game of Thrones parody “Winter Is Not Coming” is a French commercial from Greenpeace about climate change.

(14) IMPERIAL TRAILER PARK. If you’re not burnt out on Star Wars stuff, Mark-kitteh recommends a fan-made trailer for Empire Strikes Back, deliberately aiming for a modern trailer style. Mark adds,

For reference, I found a vid of the 1979 original as well. It’s an interesting contrast – the original has a fun high-energy vide, but is a bit too breathless (and spoiler-filled!) for modern tastes.


[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Will R., JJ, Nigel, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

163 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/2 Sacrificing Poisoned Pixels While Dancing Naked in the Scrolls

  1. Ms. Kowal distributed the 10 memberships at random. Literally, she took the email addresses and applied a random number generator to them. I was one of the lucky winners and contacted her to thank her (I follow her blog and I got her autograph at… Chicago Worldcon?). She was genuinely surprised! What with not having known who got what. She just forwarded the winning email addresses to Sasquan, who sent out a form letter to the recipients asking for names and snail mail. For all we know, I might be the only one who actually gave Sasquan my info and bothered to vote. Or there might have been 9 Puppies voting and laughing at her.

    But it’s no surprise Puppies and their sympathizers keep slandering (or is it libeling?) her. She’s a friend of The Dread Scalzi, a woman in possession of legitimately-gained Hugos (and other artistic talents), and a genuinely decent person, so they don’t know what else to do with her.

    A number of other people bought memberships. Teddy made his minions pay for their own (I guess he spent his spare change sending JCW to get humiliated?), but ordered them how to vote. I believe someone on the Puppy side also bought a few memberships for their elk, though I’m not sure.

    I voted several non-Puppy things below “No Award” all on my own (for Ghu’s sake, people, Heuvelt is just not that good!). And I’ve been voting since the early 80’s, which was either just before or just after SJW ruined everything — can’t keep track of the Puppies’ moving goalposts and timelines. Lordy, St. Bob of Heinlein was still writing new books when I started; I think “Number of the Beast” was on my first Hugo ballot!

    I like “Yeehawd” and am also okay with “Vanilla ISIS”. Just as ISIS doesn’t represent all Muslims (and indeed kills a lot of their co-religionists), Vanilla ISIS doesn’t represent all white American Christians. The parallel seems exact. RDFIAH is, of course, perfectly descriptive. Waging yeehawd by locking themselves up.

    (9) Kendall: There’s precedent for that: Ford did a framing story as Indy in “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” back in the 90’s. But I do not envy the chap(s) who will eventually be cast as Replacement Indy and (even sooner) Young Han Solo. Those are tough boots to fill.

    @Meredith: I don’t know about you, but I knew KJ Anderson’s been a bigwig in WOTF for years now.

  2. I think it’s worth celebrating whenever an author has a best seller, so yay for Larry Correia.

    Did we know that Kevin J Anderson was associated with Writers of the Future…?

    He was a judge for the contest this year as well as an editor for the anthology. I know the connection to Scientology might make some people squint, but the contest has generous cash prizes and a decent track record for both writers and judges.

  3. @Jim Henley: Thanks, especially for letting me know it’s really one long story. That’s a bit annoying, but wow, your reviews make me want to pick the books up! Okay, I only skimmed the second and barely glanced at the third (as River Song would say, “Spoilers, darling!”). And that 99 cent price for the first book is obviously a trick that I should resist with all my might. And yet. . . . I believe I’ll pick it up. 🙂 Thanks.

    @emgrasso: Thanks for the (sorta but not exactly) counterpoint. I hope life gets less stressful for you.

    @Meredith: I knew Anderson was a Writers of the Future guy; I don’t know if “we” knew as a collective, though. 😉

    @lurkertype: Thanks. I never saw the “Young Indy” series, so I didn’t know that.

  4. @Cheryl S. & @Meredith: It sounds like he’s been involved with the contest (perhaps on and off?) since 1993. The wording is vague (“Kevin became a guest instructor in 1993 and a judge in 1996.”), but seems to imply he’s been active since then, not just those two years. He edited L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future – The First 25 Years in 2010.

  5. Regarding ‘voting without reading’:

    I saw several people say that they intended to vote against all slate material on principle. It may be that they read it all anyway, but I see no special reason why they should do so. I think this was a perfectly reasonable plan; but it means Burnside is right to say it happened.

    The people who were reading everything and voting on a basis of quality were more visible during the process, because they were commenting on the things they read.

    I took a middle line, being prepared to consider some slate material on its merits, but ruling out some people who had behaved particularly egregiously, namely Wright, Marmot and Antonelli. (Unfortunately Williamson did not behave egregiously until after I had sampled his work. Day was nominated only as an editor, and so there was no danger of having to read anything of his anyway.) I also gave up on the fan writers for lack of time.

    In any case, while ‘read everything’ has always been, in normal circumstances, a good thing to aim at, I don’t think it has ever been a requirement. Indeed, it would have been hard to fulfil before the creation of the Hugo packet.

    I do get a bit worried when I see proposals for new Hugos (the YA Hugo or not-Hugo, the series Hugo, the tie-in Hugo) which raise the question ‘when are we meant to read all this stuff?’. I fear that in some cases the intended answer is ‘don’t read it all; vote for what you already know and like’; this implies that the process is being seen a counting of fans, rather than an actual consideration and comparison of works, which I think ideally it ought to be.

  6. A lot of people who voted against slate works read them anyway because No Award was not guaranteed to win and if it didn’t then the best slated work winning was the next best option. Can’t vote for the best of a bad bunch unless you know what the best is.

  7. I read all the nominees because I was willing to entertain the possibility that the Puppies were genuinely trying to get recognition for superior but overlooked works.

    They were none of them superior works.

  8. Connolly’s “Great Way” books are indeed DRM-free at iTunes; I took a chance, given the 99 cent deal and Jim Henley’s rec & Amazon reviews. Yay!

    I at least glanced at most Puppy works, but my bar for putting them aside was very low. Why spend a lot of time on works (a) I planned not to vote for* and (b) when I had limited time? Especially when they sounded like average-to-poor works/people.

    * Why would I care who won between of a selection of works that Puppies cheated onto the ballot? Answer: I wouldn’t!

    I ranked a few slated works below No Award, a couple of BDP items above No Award, and the rest were off my ballot. I had a couple of non-slated items below No Award and off my ballot, too, of course.

    This coming year will be different; despite slates, it won’t be the same situation as last year, so my voting pattern may change.

  9. For the record (raises hand, waves it in the air) I voted No Award over any slated nominee. I’m not sure how to phrase this accurately, because that sounds like I ranked some. No; as far as I remember, for any category in which the Puppies had gotten all or most of the nominations, I voted No Award and did not bother to rank them.

    For me, this was a decision based on principle, including not ranking Heuvelt. Analogy: a group of people have through rule-fiddling managed to arrange that 4 of 5 competitors in the Olympic figure-skating competition are 10-year-olds. Regardless of whether they may or may not be world-class skaters in the future, they certainly aren’t now. Somehow another skater winds up as competitor 5. If I’m one of the judges, I’m not going to vote them as winner, regardless of how well they skate, because they weren’t competing against a legitimate field.

    In future, given rumblings about Puppies possibly spite-nominating people, I may have to revisit my “no slated works” policy. But yeah, there were some of us who voted against the slated works without reading them. And I feel perfectly fine about it, thanks.

  10. @Lexica: IMHO that’s a perfectly reasonable way to approach it, and that thinking was behind my only-slightly-different approach. Actually, I originally planned to do exactly as you did! Rock on.

  11. When I first learned that a slate had elbowed its way onto the ballot at the expense of honestly nominated works I was angry enough to consider simply “No Award”ing them all without reading them.

    But I changed my mind. I do that on occasion, based on things like thinking, learning new facts, musing on the nature of forgiveness, and considering the times I have made an ass of myself and that errors can be made better.

    That’s why I read all the slated works. I felt like I owed it to the award.

    Others decided differently, and that’s fine.

  12. I also voted all slated works below No Award on principle, without reading them. I suspect rather a lot of people did so. We would have been less visible because we weren’t online talking about how dreadful the slated works were. So that part of Burnside’s remarks, while snarky, was not wrong.

    The other part was distorted, but based on a real thing, as others described above. It’s not helpful to deny the reality behind the distortion.

    microtherion on January 4, 2016 at 7:17 am said:
    @Kurt Busiek:

    The only question is whether they should be called Vanilla Isis or Y’All Qaeda.

    “The Redneck Caliphate” also has a certain ring to it.

    Hey! Keep us Southerners out of this!

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