Pixel Scroll 2/1/18 Five Little Pixel Scrolls, Argued On The Floor, One Used A Fallacy, And Well, There Were Still Five

(1) HORROR POETRY. At the Horror Writers Association blog: “The Word’s the Thing: An Interview with Michael Arnzen”

Q: How important is language in poetry? I realize the question is a bit open ended and hints of a “duh” question. However, there is something that distinguishes the many genre poets from a Marge Simon, Linda Addison or Bruce Boston. The subject matter may be similar but the language of poets of that caliber is just different. You can read many imitations of Poe or The Graveyard Boys, but the handful of poets that truly stand out seem to have this almost magical way of using language.

A:  There’s no poetry without language, obviously, but you make a really good point about what distinguishes one poet from another – I’d call it their “voice.” Poetry is a kind of music; the sound matters and it should reverberate in the body and fetch the ear when spoken in a way that narrative fiction cannot. Words are as important as the “notes” in music, but every poet might have an instinctive, experienced and individual way of “singing” or giving shape to those words. But genre poetry is not opera and it doesn’t require a reader to be schooled in anything special; it’s more like pop music. Remember, although we can trace the legacy of genre back to Beowulf, through the Graveyard Poets of the Romantic Period and then Edgar Allan Poe, horror poetry as we think of it today really got its start as filler — a way for pulp magazine editors to put content in the blank spaces on the page of early magazines and fanzines.  So some of the best horror genre poets in my opinion are more accessible and reaching readers with more easy to swallow language, perhaps using lyrical forms but not in an overbearing way, while still retaining a unique voice.  I’ve read hyper-literary genre poetry, but no matter how interesting it might be, it often feels like its pretending to be something it’s not, and rings false when it taps the emotional chords. So in my opinion language matters, but it really can’t get in the way of the emotional connection in this field. Music is the instinctive part of poetry that just “feels” right, and the best genre poets are the kind who know how to reach the audience — they sing in a way that reaches new fans and experienced readers/viewers/lovers of horror alike.

(2) UNSTOPPABLE MONSTER. Forbes’ Ian Morris says “Hulu Is Gaining On Netflix, But Star Trek Discovery Is An Unstoppable Monster”.

What’s interested me though is the Star Trek: Discovery “Demand Expressions” or, better known as the number of people talking about a show. According to Parrot Analytics – video below – Star Trek: Discovery has more than 53 million people talking about it in the US. That beats The Walking Dead which has around 46m expressions. Netflix’s Stranger Things also has a staggering 33m of these within the US.

(3) IRONCLAD PROMISE. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series”.

Earlier today, the BBC announced a number of new shows, including a three-part series based on H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. The show is scheduled to go into production next spring, and it appears that, unlike most modern adaptations, it will be set in the Victorian era.

The series will be written by screenwriter Peter Harness, who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Victorian-era fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for the network, as well as a handful of Doctor Who episodes.

(4) APEX MAGAZINE THEME ISSUE TAKING SUBMISSIONS. This summer, award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas (“Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book,” Apex Magazine, Volume 95 April 2017 and Volume 101 October 2017, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Shotgun Lullabies, and the Dark Matter anthologies) will guest edit a special Zodiac-themed issue. Sheree seeks short stories that explore the heavenly cosmos and unveil mysteries, tales that reimagine Zodiacal archetypes and/or throw them on their heads.

As the stars align themselves above, write bold, fun, weird, scary, sensual stories that heal, frighten, intrigue, amuse.

Length: 1500-5000 words

Genres: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, etc.

Deadline: May 1, 2018

Email submissions to: [email protected]

Payment:  Original fiction $.06/word; Solicited Reprint fiction: $.01/word; Podcast $.01/word

(SFWA-certified professional market)

No simultaneous submissions. No multi-submissions for short fiction.

Publication: August 2018, Apex Magazine

(5) MEREDITH MOMENT. John Joseph Adams’ anthology HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects is discounted to $1.99 on Kindle from now until Feb. 7 (11:59pm PT).

Includes stories by Seanan McGuire, Daniel H. Wilson, Chuck Wendig, Tobias S. Buckell, Carmen Maria Machado and many others.

(6) TWISTED OPEN. Editors Christopher Golden and James A. Moore are taking submissions for their horror anthology The Twisted Book of Shadows until February 28.

  • Will have zero spaces reserved for marquee names.
  • Will use a blind submissions program (we won’t know who wrote the stories until we’ve selected them).
  • Will pay professional rates — a minimum of six cents per word, with a cap on advances of $300 per story.
  • Will pay royalties — a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties earned.
  • Will make our best efforts to spread the word, so that marginalized communities of horror writers will be aware of the call for stories.
  • Will employ a diverse Editorial Committee. In recognition of the possibility of inherent bias in our reading, the editors have engaged an astonishing team of diverse writers and editors who will read submissions alongside us and will offer their input and aid in the selection process. These authors and editors have a breadth and depth of experience that has transformed this project into THE horror anthology for the coming year.

Golden told Facebook readers:

PLEASE share this far and wide, but I’d ask that you make a special effort to share with authors interested in horror who also happen to be women, people of color, non-binary, LGBTQ, or part of any commonly marginalized community. Anyone who has ever felt discouraged from submitting is actively ENCOURAGED to submit to this. If the work isn’t great, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can guarantee you a fair process, blind to any identity other than the quality of your story. All we care about is what you write.

(7) RECOGNIZING ROMANCE. Awards news at Amazing Stories — “Science Fiction Romance Awards Announced”.

This is a big week in science fiction romance as the SFR Galaxy Awards for 2017 were announced on January 31st. Judged by respected book bloggers and reviewers in the genre, the Award has the following theme per their website: The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain.

(8) AT 45. Megan McArdle says“After 45 Birthdays, Here Are ’12 Rules for Life'” at Bloomberg. There’s a familiar name in the first rule:

  1. Be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Somewhere in eighth grade, many of us acquired the idea that the nasty putdown, the superior smile, the clever one liner, are the signs of intelligence and great personal strength. But this kind of wit is, to borrow from the great John Scalzi, “playing the game on easy mode.” Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it. Those with greater ambitions should leave casual cruelty behind them.

(9) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank has posted its “Annotated 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List for short fiction”, sorted by score to highlight the stories that made it into the “year’s best” anthologies so far (Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Neil Clarke) and the “year’s best” lists from prolific reviewers (Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Greg Hullender [RSR], Sam Tomaino [SFRevu], Jason McGregor, and Charles Payseur).

Annotations include time estimates, links to the story on the author’s website (if available), author links with Campbell Award-eligibility marked (superscript for year 1 or 2), blurbs for RSR-reviewed stories, links to reviews, and links to digital back issues (of print magazines) at eBookstores and library websites.

RSR reviewed 96 out of the 123 stories in the Locus list (78%). Of the 27 not reviewed by RSR, 10 were stories from horror magazines and horror anthologies. The rest were from other science fiction & fantasy sources, some of which might be reviewed by RSR as time permits.


  • February 1, 1970 Horror of the Blood Monsters, starring John Carradine, premiered.


  • Born February 1, 1908 – George Pal


  • Chip Hitchcock asks, “What are they doing in there?” — Nonsequitur.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Could be even worse than yesterday’s! Fox News reports “China is building a laser 10 trillion times more intense than the Sun that could tear space apart”.

According to the Science journal, this laser would be so powerful it “could rip apart empty space”.

The idea is to achieve a phenomenon known as “breaking the vacuum”, whereby electrons are torn away from positrons (their antimatter counterparts) in the empty vacuum of space.

Right now, it’s possible to convert matter into huge amounts of heat and light, as proved by nuclear weapons. But reversing the process is more difficult – although Chinese physicist Ruxin Li believes his laser could manage it.

“That would be very exciting. It would mean you could generate something from nothing,” he explained.

The team has already created a less powerful version called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser, which is capable of a 5.3-petawatt pulse

(14) NO UNIVERSES WERE HARMED. Meanwhile — “Simulation of universe provides black hole breakthrough”.

The most detailed simulation of the universe ever created has provided a breakthrough revealing how the most powerful and mysterious forces interact on an enormous scale.

Scientists said the detail and scale provided by the simulation enabled them to watch how galaxies formed, evolved and grew while also nursing the creation of new stars.

Dr Shy Genel, at the New York-based Flatiron Institute’s Centre for Computational Astrophysics (CCA), said: “When we observe galaxies using a telescope, we can only measure certain quantities.”

But “with the simulation, we can track all the properties for all these galaxies. And not just how the galaxy looks now, but its entire formation history”, he added.

He said the simulation is the most advanced ever developed.

(15) CRUSADING JOURNALISM. Florida Man has been heard from again: “Man Prefers Comic Books That Don’t Insert Politics Into Stories About Government-Engineered Agents Of War”The Onion has the story.

APOPKA, FL—Local man Jeremy Land reportedly voiced his preference Thursday for comic books that don’t insert politics into stories about people forced to undergo body- and mind-altering experiments that transform them into government agents of war. “I’m tired of simply trying to enjoy escapist stories in which people are tortured and experimented upon at black sites run by authoritarian governments, only to have the creators cram political messages down my throat,” said Land, 31, who added that Marvel’s recent additions of female, LGBTQ, and racially diverse characters to long-running story arcs about tyrannical regimes turning social outsiders into powerful killing machines felt like PC propaganda run amok….

(16) BANGING ROCKS TOGETHER. To go with the recent Pixel about early humans ranging more widely, “Discovery In India Suggests An Early Global Spread Of Stone Age Technology”.

Somewhere around 300,000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began to make small, sharp tools, using stone flakes that they created using a technique called Levallois.

The technology, named after a suburb of Paris where tools made this way were first discovered, was a profound upgrade from the bigger, less-refined tools of the previous era, and marks the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic era in Europe and western Asia.

Neanderthals in Europe also used these tools around the same time. And scientists have thought that the technology spread to other parts of the globe much later — after modern humans moved out of Africa.

But scientists in India recently discovered thousands of stone tools made with Levallois technique, dating back to 385,000 years ago. These latest findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggest the Levallois technique spread across the world long before researchers previously thought.

(17) BIRDS DO IT. Everybody’s doing it: “Luxembourg PM sees his country’s satellite launched”.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, has just watched one of his country’s satellites go into orbit.

He was at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to see the launch of GovSat-1, which will be providing telecommunications services to the military and institutional customers.

The Luxembourg government has a 50-50 share in the project.

Its partner is SES, the major commercial satellite operator that bases itself in the Grand Duchy.

GovSat-1 is another example of Luxembourg’s burgeoning role in the space sector.

Its deputy prime minister, Etienne Schneider, who was also at the Cape, has recently positioned the country at the forefront of plans to go mine asteroids.

GovSat-1 rode to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. It will try to forge a new market in satellite communications.

(18) EARLY WARNING. With this it may be possible to detect dementia before it ravages the brain — “Blood test finds toxic Alzheimer’s proteins”.

Scientists in Japan and Australia have developed a blood test that can detect the build-up of toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The work, published in the journal Nature, is an important step towards a blood test for dementia.

The test was 90% accurate when trialled on healthy people, those with memory loss and Alzheimer’s patients.

Experts said the approach was at an early stage and needed further testing, but was still very promising.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, Andrew Porter, John Joseph Adams, Greg Hullender, Jason Sizemore, StephenfromOttawa, ULTRAGOTHA, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

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119 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/1/18 Five Little Pixel Scrolls, Argued On The Floor, One Used A Fallacy, And Well, There Were Still Five

  1. One of my favourite poems is The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité – for which there are also several readings on Youtube. It’s the one starts with

    Dearest creature in creation
    Studying English pronunciation,
    I will teach you in my verse
    Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

  2. Kurt Busiek:

    But does this mean “scary,” “parry” and “berry” rhyme to must of the US?

    They rhyme for me anyway.

  3. Kurt, “scary,” “parry” and “berry”, “Mary”, “merry”, “marry” “carry”, “ferry”, “tarry”, “Derry”, “Jerry”, “Larry”, “dairy”, “nary”, “Harry”, “hairy”…. all rhyme for me.

    “Wary” is ever-so-slightly different, possibly influenced by the initial W. I can’t properly explain the difference other than, listening to myself say it, I hold the vowel slightly longer before I pronounce the R sound. It’s almost-but-not-quite a diphthong. Weh-er-y. But that’s overstating it.

    I’m near Chicago.

  4. @Ferret (re current analysis tools): another win for Moore’s Law!

    @Kurt Busiek: as recently noted, I grew up outside DC (although I’ve lived almost full-time NE of the Hudson since age 14) — but I hear a clear difference between “merry” and “marry”, almost as distinct as between “bed” and “bad”. Possibly the distinction becomes clearer going south from the Hudson? I’d love to try some of Ferret’s software on “merry” vs “Mary”; it feels like the ?glide? that makes “mat” into “mate” isn’t there, but the ‘r’ feels different (for what that’s worth analyzing from the inside). Interestingly, nobody has ever picked up ~southern in my speech — but after 3 full years followed by 2 school years in New England, I noticed on my last summer NW of DC that people were saying “y’all”.

  5. Kurt Busiek on February 3, 2018 at 10:19 pm said:

    But does this mean “scary,” “parry” and “berry” rhyme to must of the US?

    They do to me. (Born and raised in rural Northern California, mostly by grandparents who came from Arkansas in the 1930s. I then lived in the SF Bay Area for about 20 years. Now living in Northern Nevada near Reno.)

  6. But does this mean “scary,” “parry” and “berry” rhyme to must of the US?

    No, parry is the odd one out for me. Raised in NE and then lived in PNW.

  7. Around here, Mary/Merry/Marry sound so much alike that I can respond to a traditional seasonal salutation with a (loose) 007 reference.

    “Merry Christmas!”
    “I don’t even know the girl!”

  8. Chip Hitchcock:

    I’d love to try some of Ferret’s software on “merry” vs “Mary”; it feels like the ?glide? that makes “mat” into “mate” isn’t there, but the ‘r’ feels different (for what that’s worth analyzing from the inside).

    Well, I figured I’d had my say and didn’t feel the need to add anything, but this is definitely worth adding a comment or two on. Basically, in the varieties of US English that have the full three-way distinction, Mary has “long a,” /ei/ being one way of representing it phonemically, like the ea in great; merry has “short e,” /?/ (that’s a lower-case epsilon, in case anyone finds the character unreadable), like the e in bed; and marry has roughly US “short a,” /æ/ (that’s the a-e ligature, or Old English letter “ash”). This three-way merger applies in general to all words with those vowels before r, with exceptions for words that have special expressive value or that the speaker needs to make distinct from a homophone. (Cassy mentioned wary. For me it’s vary and very, at least when I try to keep them distinct in very variable.)

    This merger is a special case of the more general feature of many US English dialects of what is called “liquid laxing” or similar terms. That is, tense vowels become lax before liquids (r and l). This is why heel/hill, hail/hell, and so on are homophones for speakers like me. Tense vowels are for the most part the old long vowels, while lax vowels are FTMP the old short vowels. Phonetically the tense vowels are longer, articulated more extremally (that is, the tongue and mouth go further away from the neutral configuration of the schwa), and FTMP have offglides. Each tense vowel has a lax counterpart, and when they appear before liquids, then, they are realized as their lax counterparts. The unusual thing is that for many US English speakers (not all), old short a, /æ/, is tense: The mouth is opened very wide and the vowel is as long as any old long vowels; indeed, for many speakers it is often a bit diphthongized. For these speakers, the lax counterparts of long e and short a are both short e, hence the merger. However, for speakers who don’t pronounce marry the same as merry/Mary, it is quite possible (I haven’t actually looked into this) that for them short a is lax instead of tense.

    This distinction of tense and lax, by the way, is an excellent example of a phonological matter rather than a phonetic one. Basically there is an abstract feature, to use the preferred term, of tenseness across a whole category of phonemes, and while it has a variety of phonetic realizations (offglides, greater duration, etc.), the change in sound due to the following liquid is a phonological matter (for example, the environment causing the change is defined in terms of phonological categories–tense vowels followed by liquids). Mind you, to even the most abstractly minded phonologist, features should have some phonetic reality–they should be realized somehow in speech, otherwise you get into, among other things, problems of learnability by young children. By the same token, such changes in pronunciation should have physical (articulatory or auditory) reasons behind them; what it is in this case is not immediately clear.

    Also, the fact that such changes in pronunciation are regular across sounds in the environment is related to the hypothesis at the foundation of modern historical linguistics that sound change (that is, the changes across time in sounds that are conditioned solely by neighboring sounds in words in which there is an arbitrary association of sound and meaning, not simply all changes in the sounds of a language over time–other changes are referred to collectively as analogy, and by being due to abstract mental representations, like changing the sounds of verb endings to fit a unitary pattern after the sounds in the verb stems have changed, are not in general regular) is regular, that is, occurring in every instance in a specified environment. (Which appears to be true of assimilation, changes in which nearby sounds come to have more phonological features in common, but not of dissimilation, where they change to have fewer features in common, like the change of Latin peregrinus to pellegrino/pèlerin in which the first r changed to become more distinct from the second r–dissimilations of liquids are very common across languages, in fact.) One way linguists like to express this is that this generation’s phonological changes are the next generation’s sound changes. Indeed, the identical pronunciations of merry/marry/Mary are due to a merger (the historical linguistic term) only in the historical view; while they are ongoing and spreading, the phonological term “neutralization” is used.

  9. In any case, Wikipedia has a nice summary of the different ways Mary/merry/marry play out, with region and rough percentages of the population making each possible combination of distinctions.

  10. Ferret Bueller, fascinating! Thank you. I admit that I didn’t follow it entirely, not knowing all of the technical jargon, but I’ve learned some things from what I did understand, and I’m very glad you posted this.

  11. I’m another that merges mary/merry/marry as well as cot/caught (or, at least, I don’t distinguish on listening – I may produce differently without being aware of it). I do distinguish which and witch, which causes me to miss a lot of puns. That is apparently a minority distinction these days.

    My parents are from the Virginia Tidewater area, and I have lived near Osaka, Japan, attending first grade at the Canadian Academy in Kobe, then lived successively near Boston, Massachusetts, near Atlanta, Georgia, and near Greensboro, North Carolina, before attending Michigan State University, then moving to a New Jersey suburb of NYC. I am not sure which of those locations influenced my speech the most. All of them, I suspect.

  12. Sorry for the delay. Just a couple quick (heh) thoughts, and I’ll be on my way out of this thread.

    1) Ms. McArdle is not obligated to write the column you want to read. She took inspiration from a specific quote and ran with it in the direction that suited her narrative.

    2) Mr. Scalzi’s other bit of pith is recursive assholery. Responding to someone who has missed the clever mark with ‘The failure mode of clever is “asshole” is also being an asshole. Using that quote might well be accurate, it does not make it kind, nor productive.

    3) IME, Identifying someone as having a quick wit does not automatically mean that the same person is smart and wise.

    In my fevered imagination, Ms. McArdle wanted to encourage those ready access to a sharp tongue to re-think the decision/option of popping off with the first nasty bit that comes to mind and instead “be kind”. What’s the worst way to inspire such a person to be kind? Fire back at them with ‘The failure mode of clever is “asshole”. What’s a better way to inspire restraint? Suggesting that they are taking the easy way out.

    Does it perfectly align with Mr. Scalzi’s “playing the game on easy mode”? Nope. But it’s close enough for Ms. McArdle’s presumed objective.

    4) FWIW, I caught her on a podcast that I listen to. She ends up talking about the column and some of the pushback she received. I found it to be an interesting discussion. And yes, I know I’m sending you to the villainous National Review. The politics in this podcast are typically kept down to a negligible level.


  13. I’ve both heard amd read McArdle before. There are reasons to go to the National Review, but listening to more of her unreflective “thought,” is not among them.

  14. She took inspiration from a specific quote and ran with it in the direction that suited her narrative.

    And, having done so, she is now subject to having her work discussed, because we are free to do that.

    (2) I’m not seeing this at all. She mashed two quotes together awkwardly, and failed. Probably thought she was being clever, you know.

  15. @Dann Do you have any thoughts on why you felt a need to insult Scalzi because someone else misunderstood a quote of his and a third person pointed out the mistake?

  16. @Maximillian

    It is difficult to point out asshole behavior without indulging in similar behavior. You have succeeded where I have failed.

    I disagree that she misunderstood the quote. She used the quote she wanted as part of her narrative.

    FTR, I generally like Mr. Scalzi and his work. He was kind enough to sign a couple books and my Nook a couple years ago. I enjoyed listening to him at that event. He’s far from perfect…..as are most people….including me.

    Insert tag filled with wit, wisdom, and humour here…

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