Pixel Scroll 12/3 The God Stalk De-Steams The Gnocchi

(1) SPELLING BEE. Blake Hennon has the answers in “Is it Wookie or Wookiee? The Times’ definitive ‘Star Wars’ style guide” at the Los Angeles Times.

When most people think of “Star Wars” style, Princess Leia’s side-buns hairdo and white robe or Darth Vader’s fearsome black helmet and cape probably come to mind. For copy editors, it’s more likely how to punctuate a jumble of words such as Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope or whether to spell Chewbacca’s species as Wookie or Wookiee.

With the venerable space opera about to start bringing new stories to the big screen at the planned rate of one per year — and the upcoming fleet’s worth of Times stories that will cover all the developments and details of the on- and off-screen “Star Wars” saga — The Times’ copy desk decided it would help in editing to have an organized guide to facts, names and terms that might appear in our coverage.

I volunteered to put it together, and relied on the films; Lucasfilm’s publicly available databank; the Academy Awards’ database; images of officially licensed products; and Times precedence, stories, style rules and tendencies (which sometimes override other groups’ preferences). To answer the questions above: “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”; Wookiee.

(2) MORE STYLE. In the same spirit, but by a different creator as far as I can tell —

(3) FAN SERVICE. Mark Hamill goes undercover as a stormtrooper (one word) on Hollywood Blvd. to raise awareness for the Omaze charity that’s giving away a chance to win two tickets to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere in exchange for a $10 donation. The contest ends in less than two days.

(4) FROM HEADCANON TO THE SCREEN. “7 fan theories so good they actually came true” at RadioTimes.

  1. The Doctor’s Tardis is supposed to have 6 pilots

Considering he’s a centuries-old genius and Time Lord, the Doctor always did seem to have a bit of trouble piloting his Tardis – but fans had a solution for why that could be (apart from it being an obsolete Type 40, of course).

Given the time machine’s central console was hexagonal (and all the controls therefore couldn’t be reached at any one time), could it be that the Tardis was intended for not one, but six pilots?

This fun idea circled around for a while and made some appearance Doctor Who spin-off media before it was finally embraced by the main series in 2008, with David Tennant’s Doctor enlisting all his friends to help pilot the time machine in series 4 finale Journey’s End.

(5) THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. “It’s what’s on Mark Watney’s smartphone,” says Will R.

Through a new service (“IFTTT Blog – Houston, we have liftoff”) you can get things like a notification when the season changes on Mars.

(6) BE YOUR OWN ANT FARM. Becky Chambers remembers playing an ancient PC game: “Extended Memory: SimAnt”.

Despite the complexities, my task was clear: recruit as many followers as I could, then march into enemy territory. “Oh my god,” a distant voice in my head said. “This is a Zerg rush…with ants.” I do not know what this voice meant. As an ant, I am ignorant of such things.

(7) SUBCONTINENTAL COMICS. Henry Jenkins “In Search of Indian Comics (Part Three): I Mean, Really, Where Are They?”

So, here’s the bottom line: India has a new generation of gifted graphic storytellers, who are doing comics that speak in direct and powerful ways to the country’s politics, comics that experiment with new visual languages for comics, often drawn from the country’s rich and diverse folk traditions. These artists are slowly but surely producing work that people should be paying attention to. But, you can’t really find them in Indian bookstores when you go looking and they are not making their way into comics specialty shops in the United States. If you want to find India comics, you have to look online.

(8) KEG BUST. Andrew Porter says, “This almost (not really) makes up for HPL’s bust no longer being the World Fantasy Award….”  Lovecraft Reanimator Helles Lager from Narragansett Beer.

The History: HP Lovecraft’s ‘Herbert West—Reanimator’ and the 1985 film adaptation, Re-Animator, are horror fan favorites. In the story, Dr. West and his accomplice experiments with human reanimation by injecting fresh corpses with a serum meant to bring the dead back to life. We wanted to create a serum to resurrect one of our own; our beloved Bock beer.


Reanimator beer

(9) TOR PICKS 2015 BEST. “Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2015” picked by Jared Shurin, Alyx Dellamonica, Liz Bourke, Nial Alexander, Mavesh Murad, Amal El-Mohtar, Alex Brown, Caitlyn Paxson, Stefan Raets, Theresa DeLucci, and The G. (Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is prominently mentioned by several contributors.)

Liz Bourke

…I know what my two absolute favourites of the year are, though. Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory (Tor) and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy (Orbit) tie for first place in my heart. One is an adventure story in a steampunk-influenced city on the American Pacific coast in the late 19th-century, whose eponymous protagonist finds herself running headfirst into all kinds of peril—including international espionage plots—while falling in love with another young woman. The other is the capstone of a fantastic trilogy about power and personhood, and what you do with what’s done to you: it brings all its threads together, and ties them up in a conclusion that’s as perfect as it is unexpected. If you’re only going to read two novels published this year, my recommend is read them.

(10) T-SHIRT TNG. Have you been there, done that? Now own the t-shirt!

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

(11) HOLD MORE MEETINGS. At Open Culture,“Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless, Kafkaesque Guide to Subverting Any Organization with ‘Purposeful Stupidity’ (1944)”

Will R. demurs, “I have no comment on whether this applies to anything currently under discussion in the world of science fiction.”

(12) OBITUARY. SF Site News reports artist Jon Arfstrom died on December 2. Arfstrom is believed to have been the last of the classic Weird Tales cover artists to be alive.

(13) GEEK PARENT MUCH? The MarySue has you covered with “Baby’s First Con: A Geek Parent Survival Guide”

Lesson 3: Prepare Line Distractions

Lines and waiting are a fact of life with cons. This is easy when you’re child-free and have access to your phone/book/daydreams/whatever. But with a baby, wait times are an event in themselves. Most parents—and hopefully that includes you—have some tricks that can be parsed out over time to try and keep the baby occupied. A good idea is to prep for the con like you would for a long road trip: have new toys/books to spring forward, and use whatever tricks you have up your sleeve. For example, our daughter is fantastic when getting hand-fed small snacks (Cheerio’s, Yums, etc.). We made sure we had an inventory of these and used them as our first go-to when she started to get impatient, albeit at about half the speed we’d normally feed them. We also got lucky in that our baby recognized some of the characters we’ve introduced her to thanks to the cosplayers, so we could point out Batman and catch her interest for a few minutes.

(14) DON’T TELL BRAD TORGERSEN. Cracked.com lists “6 Depressing Realities Of Writing Young Adult Fiction”. First up: Oh noes! You can’t tell a YA book by its cover!

#6. Covers And Titles Are Often Shameless Lies

There’s an old saying about judging a book by its cover; we’re not sure how it goes, but it doesn’t matter because titles and covers both appear to be generated completely at random. At least, in the world of Young Adult novels. Jack named his latest book The Librarian. At the publishers’ request, it became Double Agent. A little editing later, and the title was Escape From Besmar. A little more, and that was subbed out in favor of the catchier Springheel. At one point, the title was Black Sheep. Then Three Bags Full. Then Three Bombs Full. Then, at last, they settled on a title that pleased everyone: Switchblade.

The book is currently available under the title The Cut Out….

(15) XENA. Lucy Lawless on the “Xena” revival, her new show and seizing life with both hands at Women in the World.

But with the apparent revival of Xena in the wings, fans and media want to know, will she return as the legendary character she brought to life two decades ago?

…So the question of Lucy Lawless’s age, 47, is central to the Xena reboot, raising obvious retorts: Harrison Ford, 73, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 68, and Bruce Campbell, 57, are all reprising action hero roles they played in their youth without any criticism or complaints being raised about their age.

Lawless won’t go on a rant about it. She shrugs it off, half kidding: “They’ll give the Xena role to a 27-year-old.’’

It’s been 20 years since Xena: Warrior Princess was launched and became the top-rated syndicated TV program in the United States and a highly popular franchise across 108 countries. The character of Xena emerges from a dark past to defend the oppressed, fighting gods, warlords and kings, and living outside the conventional definitions of masculine and feminine. The series ended after six years, in 2001, with the brutal death of Xena, her head cut off, her body turned to ashes. Outraged fans have since cried out for a resurrection and, obliging, NBC plans to reboot Xena and has tapped Rob Tapert to re-develop it.

Problem is, Lawless knows nothing about it. She was blindsided when the news about a Xena revival leaked. A woman with The Hollywood Reporter asked her about the reboot plans, but Lawless denied it. “I thought she was misinformed,’’ she says now. “It was I who was misinformed.’’

(16) GoT TEASER? The Game of Thrones Season 6 teaser. I can confidently say I didn’t understand it. But io9 seems to. Maybe you will, also.

(17) CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME. Cards Against Humanity went offline on Black Friday and offered customers the ability to buy nothing for $5. They got nearly $72.000… most of which they spent on themselves!

11,248 people gave us $5, and 1,199 people gave us more than $5 by filling out the form more than once. One enthusiastic fan gave us $100. In the end, we made a windfall profit of $71,145.

Cards Against Humanity is known for our charitable fundraising – since 2012 we’ve raised nearly $4 million for organizations we love like Worldbuilders, the Sunlight Foundation, the EFF, DonorsChoose.org, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Chicago Design Museum. We even started a $500,000 full-ride scholarship for women getting degrees in science.

There’s been a lot of speculation about how we would spend the money from Black Friday, and we’re happy to announce that this time, we kept it all. Here’s what we bought….

(18) ROLLING STONE. Star Wars fatigue is probably setting in already, but Rolling Stone has good interviews with several major cast members (plus a few spoilers, of course) in “’Star Wars’ Strikes Back: Behind the Scenes of the Biggest Movie of the Year”.

“The world is so horrible,” says Mark Hamill, Luke’s closest earthly representative, sitting in the shadow of swaying trees in his rather pleasant Malibu yard. At 64, Hamill is older than Alec Guinness was in the first Star Wars, and is in the process of regrowing a distinctly Obi-Wan-ish beard. “Between the Middle East and gun violence and global warming and racism, it’s just horrible. And people need this. It’s therapeutic.”

The “this” in question is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, out on December 18th and directed by geek hero J.J. Abrams, fresh from rebooting the Star Trek franchise.

(19) ANCIENT SPECIAL. And if you weren’t fatigued before, well, just watch the elusive Star Wars Christmas Special from that bygone era….

(20) MUSICAL INTERLUDE. I remember hearing the song on Doctor Demento but the video is news to me: The Firm – “Star Trekkin'”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Hampus Eckerman, Will R., Mark-kitteh, James H. Burns, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

178 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/3 The God Stalk De-Steams The Gnocchi

  1. Kendall: I keep forgetting to say (so, apologies for multi-posting) – these two books (“Ender” and “Speaker”) are probably two of my favorite books.

    I have a huge problem with the self-righteous “The Ends Justifies The Means” message, especially in the first. Kessel is right in that Card completely excuses Enders’ horrific actions as noble and self-sacrificing for the greater good. The book glosses over the hard questions it should be asking.

    I don’t think I’ll have the stomach to ever read it again.

  2. Kessel says Ender is portrayed as acting foe rational reasons,

    But lest the reader be repulsed by Ender’s pursuing the fight until Bonzo is dead (which an observer might see as vengeful, unwarranted, or vicious), the narrative insists that it is done for entirely rational reasons

    but I felt when I read it that it was fear motivating him. Even if Card says Ender is calm and considered in his decisions for excessive violence, to me these came across as rationisations for the fear he must have felt being singled out as he was, and with no support structure.

  3. I read both Ender’s and Speaker for the first time 5-8 years ago (putting me in my 40s). Yikes was my thought on both. That was the beginning and end of my reading Card. Then I learned about his politics, religion, what he actively worked to do/spent his money on which made it was easier to understand where he was coming from and reaffirmed my never read him again.

  4. tintinaus: Yeah, that’s another problem; what the characters are described as doing and what they’re actually doing are so often at odds. The ends justifying the means comes through loud and clear.

    A lot of the fanboys really don’t like the later books, thinking Ender’s gotten soft and lost his awesome for caring about aliens. They prefer “kill ’em all” Ender. But even then, his “philosophy” is that bad actions should only be judged by if the doer meant well or not. Good intentions, in other words… and we all know what road those pave. Pure hearts excuse anything horrific.

    “I didn’t want to hurt you, but look what you made me do!” is the cry of every domestic abuser throughout time.

    Yikes indeed.

  5. I liked Enders Game and Speaker of the Dead. I think one of the attractiveness of it is its description of children who thinks like adults. It does not look down on children, even if sometimes doing the opposite. I found it deeply unrealistic and idiotic though with all the siblings being so incredibly smart they could basically rule everything because siblings.



  6. I really liked Orson Scott Card when I first read him. But over time, I noticed a disturbing pattern: children are horribly abused, and this turns out to be for the best. Not for the kid, necessarily, but there’s some wonderful thing that happens as a result of the abuse. I think I first noticed it when I re-read Songmaster, and then I couldn’t unsee it. I did finally lose my temper with Hart’s Hope, which is one of the few books that I actually got rid of because I will not have it in the house. I have a fondness for Speaker for the Dead, but Xenocide ruined it for me.

  7. Lydy Nickerson: I have a fondness for Speaker for the Dead, but Xenocide ruined it for me.

    I stopped after SftD, based on things others have said — and people like you just keep reaffirming that I made the right decision.

  8. JJ:

    And of course, by the time the second book rolls around, he has grown up enough to start to understand the gravity, and the tragedy, of the things he’s done, and has begun to try to make amends. The problem is that most of the fanboys don’t read that far.

    Actually, this is made clear within the first book – though only in rather a rush at the end. (This weird abrupt transition may be one reason why Card has spent a lot of time since then writing his own fanfic – trying to cover the gap.)

    Kendall: I agree both that Ender’s Game is not in origin YA, and that YA does not mean the same as children’s books. Unfortunately, the concept of YA has become so confused that I don’t think anyone is certain what it means any more. Fans frequently seem use ‘YA’ to mean all young people’s fiction, as if it were a new name for children’s books. Publishers don’t use it quite like that; they do distinguish between YA and children’s (or in the US ‘middle-grade’), but as I understand it they aren’t all in agreement on where the boundary lies; and a lot of classic children’s books, or more recent works in the spirit of classic children’s books, seem to be migrating to the YA shelves. And on the other hand stuff that was traditionally (old) adult fiction is also migrating to the YA shelves if it has a youthful protagonist, so that they end up covering a strangely wide range.

    (For this reason I am very doubtful about the idea of a YA Hugo or not-Hugo, since it would be a mystery just what it covered. I don’t object to the idea of a Youth Hugo or not-Hugo. Interestingly, the motion in 2013, the official starting-point of the current debate, actually called it a Youth Hugo, but everyone constantly referred to it as a YA proposal, and when a committee was set up to deal with it that was enshrined in the name of the committee. The committee itself seems to me rather unclear about the limits of the field, sometimes treating YA as something relatively new and distinctive, but elsewhere treating all Newbery medal winners as YA – that of course being a classic award for children’s books.)

  9. My experience from bookselling and parenting is that the kids who are reading are the precocious ones. This means they read above grade level, and in practical terms that means the real age range for YA is mostly middle-school students and the real age range for middle-grade books is mostly upper-elementary students. By the time you’re a senior or even junior in high school most of your reading is going to be adult books.

    ETA: Kids also seem to have a natural fascination with protagonists who are just a bit older than themselves. This also tends to push the categories down a level in terms of actual readership. Middle-school kids like imagining themselves as high-school students etc.

  10. Jim Henley on December 7, 2015 at 9:33 am said:

    ETA: Kids also seem to have a natural fascination with protagonists who are just a bit older than themselves. This also tends to push the categories down a level in terms of actual readership. Middle-school kids like imagining themselves as high-school students etc.

    Advertising and marketing tend to pitch things that way also.

  11. Camestros Felapton on December 7, 2015 at 10:08 am said:

    Jim Henley on December 7, 2015 at 9:33 am said:

    ETA: Kids also seem to have a natural fascination with protagonists who are just a bit older than themselves. This also tends to push the categories down a level in terms of actual readership. Middle-school kids like imagining themselves as high-school students etc.

    Advertising and marketing tend to pitch things that way also.

    That’s been going on for a long time. I was informed once that “Seventeen” Magazine was entirely unsuited for seventeen-year-olds and was aimed more at the aspirational preteen market.

  12. US high school students range in age from 13 (late birthdays) to 18 (early birthdays). Middle-schoolers from 10-13 or so. I’d peg the fat part of the YA-reading curve at 11-13 and middle-grade reading at 8-11.

  13. Jim Henley on December 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm said:
    US high school students range in age from 13 (late birthdays) to 18 (early birthdays). Middle-schoolers from 10-13 or so. I’d peg the fat part of the YA-reading curve at 11-13 and middle-grade reading at 8-11.

    Around here middle school is 7-9th grades, so 13-15, and high school is 10-12th grades, 16-18.
    Depending on birth days, some kids are slightly younger.

  14. I’d peg the fat part of the YA-reading curve at 11-13 and middle-grade reading at 8-11.

    That doesn’t seem to me to be that far from the the intended ages, if I’ve got the intended ages right. In the UK older children’s books – which I’m guessing correspond to Middle Grade – are supposed to be either 8-12 or 9-12: often that is what’s written above the shelves. YA is then generally equated with teenage. (Though I did find a shop which had one shelf for teenage and another for YA: I have no idea what they meant by that.) Many of the sources quoted in the YA Hugo committee report also seem to identify YA with teenage, though some of them think teenage begins at 12. That young people read things a little above their assigned level is not too surprising (though the insistence on using ‘age of protagonist’ as a criterion may be skewing things, forcing books to be sold as YA which actually appeal more to children).

    On the other hand there does seem to be a contrary phenomenon, of people in their twenties reading YA; one hears it said sometimes that YA is the only stuff worth reading nowadays, because adult fiction is so dull.

  15. It also depend so much on the book: Twilight probably isn’t read much below 13, and Tithe about the same; but these are YA books marketed specifically to older teens (Sharyn November, IIRC, said they basically had to invent an older tier of YA to market Holly Black.) Thinking back, I’d have eaten Black’s books up at 5, but might have found them a bit much at 13 — and I was also reading from the adult SF/F section by then (McCaffrey and Lackey and Tarr and J. Vinge – I bounced off a few others that probably were too old for me, though.) At the same age and time, I still read any new Lloyd Alexander and L’Engle I found(specifically excepting her adult fiction, which turned me off), and I was late in discovering Susan Cooper and absorbing her books. I think it’s actually pretty natural for someone in that age group to shuttle back and forth from the less childish end of children’s all the way to adult.

  16. I think it goes board books, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, young adult, new adult, adult.

    New Adult is college-age protagonists, old enough to swear, drink, and have teh sex all written in the book instead of implied.

    The readers are always assumed to be aspirational; the protagonists are 2-5 years older than the kids reading them. Tweens read about teens, etc. Board books often star animals (Pat the Bunny), and picture books have all sorts of characters.

    I still wouldn’t let my hypothetical kids read OSC without discussing it with them. And maybe not at all if they were extra-sensitive — the child abuse is so prevalent.

  17. YA 13-18 and the newer and less used tag NA (new adult 16-25) have an overlap. Technically NA is college/1st real job/moved out of parents house. But some seem to use the NA tag for the 16-19 still in high school (or emancipated minor or school drop out) as a license to put more graphic sex/abuse/violence in books. I’m drawing blanks on titles at the moment but I know I’ve read a couple and been in discussions about several books which seem to have done this.

  18. @Lauowolf: Ages are fuzzy, but I believe it’s usually age minus 5 (roughly) = grade. At least growing up, that was how ages generaly matched. Most folks turn 18 during or just after 12th grade; they’re not usually 18 going into 12th grade. Maybe that’s all what you meant; if so, sorry – I’m used to people talking about ages by the age folks usually are when they start a grade, not when they finish it. Also if you’re not talking U.S., then sorry – I realize as I type this, I don’t know where you’re from, and countries may vary a lot on this stuff.

    I didn’t have “middle school” growing up; it was elementary (1-6), then junior high (7-8) and high (9-12) schools. (Well, and 7-12 was one school for me, as it happened.) This middle school concept always seemed weird to me. 😉 Wikipedia (which I don’t always trust) says middle school’s typically 6-8 grades, but I wouldn’t know.

    Anyway, book marketing categories baffle me at times, especially the “young protag = must be YA or kids” stuff.

    Sorry, this is rambly.

  19. @Tasha Turner: I meant to say, I only first heard “New Adult” within the past year, IIRC. I was like “wut?!” I didn’t know some used it for high school – that seems weird. I kinda think of it as “a young adult” as in, an adult who’s young (not the poorly named “Young Adult” marketing category; it’s easier to understand what I mean when I say it out loud).

    In general, the tag “New Adult” makes a book sound boring to me – not the intention, I know! I mean, clearly I’m not the target audience, but still, it’s a turn-off in a way that YA isn’t (and I’m not into YA, either).

    Is it used much in SFF? My impression was no. I’ve seen it in romance and general fiction, but hadn’t noticed it in SFF (but no doubt it’s there).

    /more rambling, d’oh

  20. NA started being used at least 3 years ago. I guess whether it’s being used in SFF depends on whether you count PNR/UF or not. From what I can tell many authors, PR/marketing, and readers are still finding their way. I’ve seen more NA on small and indie books than trad published books but it’s not something I’m specifically looking for so I couldn’t be wrong.

    I’m still not seeing as much Boomer Lit yet but I still think it could become a thing. Books labeled as well as aimed at those eligible for AARP. The 2nd coming of age… What to do with the last 3rd of your life.

  21. Tasha Turner: I’m still not seeing as much Boomer Lit yet but I still think it could become a thing. Books labeled as well as aimed at those eligible for AARP. The 2nd coming of age… What to do with the last 3rd of your life.

    I read an article the other day about how marketers were making the mistake of thinking of those people as “those eligible for AARP” (which apparently accepts people starting at age 55). The Boomers interviewed said they were tired of, and annoyed at, being marketed to for wills and funeral plans, as (barring sudden illness or accident) they are not anywhere close to death, and are much more interested in things marketed toward enjoyment of free time, travel, and disposable income.

    So someone who is smart enough to jump on that marketing strategy might do very well indeed (as long as they avoid references to things like the AARP, death and “time running out”).

  22. @JJ

    Actually the age to join AARP is now 50. I know because I hit that age *cough*fairly recently*cough*, and I’ve been getting invites to join ever since.

  23. The discussions around Boomer Lit have never referenced AARP before today as far as I know. I’m in crash mode and brain fog is heavy. Boomer Lit is for the more mature who’d like to read about protagonist more like them not teenagers who are younger than their grandchildren. Mature people who have real lives. One is not like dead at 50 but about to embark on a new and exciting stage of life when it’s easier to slow down and smell the roses or try that career you always wanted but wasn’t “practical”.

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest book (officially coming out in 2016) would be a good example of SF Boomer Lit IMHO.

  24. Actually the age to join AARP is now 50. I know because I hit that age *cough*fairly recently*cough*, and I’ve been getting invites to join ever since.

    I keep telling my husband to join so I can take advantage of all the cool benefits (he’s 10 years older). I won’t be eligible for a little over a year. He won’t join because…

    I thought I was turning 50 this coming March and got all depressed when my mom pointed out I was off by a year. That darn hit by a truck playing with my memory. I think I’m the only person I know who thinks growing older is cool. But then as a kid I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice which meant my career goals required I be mature.

  25. @Tasha, I certainly don’t regret being older. I have complaints about my health, the state of people I care about, the condition of the world, and so on, but maturity in itself is just fine with me.

  26. Actually the age to join AARP is now 50. I know because I hit that age *cough*fairly recently*cough*, and I’ve been getting invites to join ever since.

    I tried it for a year, back around that age, and got nothing out of it. The magazine aimed at the 50-somethings showed up a couple of times, irregularly, and the newsletter was all insurance and pharmaceuticals.
    Here in 506, we consider that to be unnecessary use of paper.

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