Pixel Scroll 2/26/22 Comments Have Spoken, Like The First Filing; Pixels Have Woken, Like The First Scroll

(1) HOW THE WEB MAKES CRIMINALS OF US ALL. The Guardian tells about the revamped Tolkien Estate website in “Unseen JRR Tolkien paintings, photographs and video clips released”. (Andrew Porter reminds us that the artwork in the article is not new.)

Unseen photographs and paintings of JRR Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings fantasy books, have been released by the writer’s estate, along with draft manuscripts and letters.

Its website has been relaunched with new material, including sections on Tolkien’s calligraphy and a timeline of his life.

Audio recordings and video clips featuring both Tolkien, who died in 1973, and his son Christopher, who died in 2020, are among the new material.

The relaunch date of 26 February is significant in Tolkien lore because 26 February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their lonely and terrifying journey to Mordor.

Perusing the site’s “Frequently Asked Questions and Links” I discovered this jarring information:

Can I publish a Tolkien Fanzine?

The name TOLKIEN is a registered trademark and may not be used without permission. Unfortunately permission cannot be given for publications which use the name TOLKIEN or the Tolkien Estate’s Copyright Materials.

Are a lot of you faneds who don’t spell it T*****n hearing from lawyers?

(2) THEY’VE GOT THE DROP ON US. “Russia’s space chief responds to new sanctions by suggesting that the ISS would no longer be prevented from crashing into the US or Europe” – originally reported by Business Insider.

According to CNN, Biden further stated that the sanctions “will degrade (Russia’s) aerospace industry, including their space program.”… 

In response, Rogozin said on Twitter: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” 

He added: There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” 

Rogozin also mentioned that the ISS’s location and orbit in space are controlled by “Russian Progress MS cargo ships.” 

NASA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

In a statement to Euronews, however, NASA said that it “continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous ISS operations.”

It added: “The new export control measures will continue to allow US-Russia civil space cooperation.”

(3) PURLOINED LETTER TECHNIQUE. Radio Times’ Sab Astley says this is the place to look for clues to Doctor Who’s next phase: “Doctor Who Russell T Davies teases from his book on writing”.

…Now, with Davies’ surprise return to Doctor Who looming, everyone is searching for potential clues as to RTD’s approach to his second run – and unusually, the acclaimed screenwriter might have already given us a pretty good idea of what he’s planning thanks to a little book called The Writer’s Tale.

The Writer’s Tale is a tome of correspondence between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine contributor Benjamin Cook, taking place over the pre-production of season 4 right up to the final shots of Tennant’s last special between 2007 and 2009…

The Next Doctor

14th Doctor speculation is currently at an all-time high, with names like Michael Sheen, Michaela Coel, T’Nia Miller and Olly Alexander mentioned. However, one name that hasn’t arisen, which might just be a strong contender to bet on: Russell Tovey.

Davies makes no secret of his love for Tovey, and in a discussion over potential 11th Doctor castings, RTD states that Tovey is “amazing – I think I’d make him the eleventh Doctor”. Since then Tovey has starred in Davies’ Years & Years, and currently all of his upcoming projects are in post-production – making it the perfect time for RTD to nab Tovey if he so wishes.

Alternatively, if we look at Davies’ choice of actors in the years since The Writer’s Tale, the choice becomes clear: Lydia West. She’s clearly a favourite of RTD’s, starring in both Years & Years and It’s A Sin, and could follow in Jodie Whittaker’s footsteps as a female Doctor (and the first ‘lead’ Doctor to be played by a Black actor, though Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor technically got there first).

Altogether, based on RTD’s creative patterns and the insight of The Writer’s Tale it seems Russell Tovey or Lydia West are strong options for the 14th Doctor. However, there is a third possibility – the return of David Tennant…..

(4) FUTURE TENSE. “Good Job, Robin”, JoeAnn Hart’s short story about love, earth, and eating crickets, is this month’s installment of Future Tense Fiction, a series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination published on Slate.

Ahimsa waves an elbow at me, keeping her hands firmly cupped. “Isaura! Look!” She shouts to be heard over my earplugs, and I panic thinking she’s woozy again. But no, she only wants to show me something. I lean across the sorting table to look, and with a smile she opens her tawny hands like a flower, just enough so I can peek inside. Two stamens wiggle in the darkness.

Not stamens. Antennae. Out come the earplugs. “It’s just a cricket, Ahimsa. One of a billion crickets under this dome, every one of them chirping like an insect possessed.”…

Christy Spackman, an expert on the future of food, responds to JoeAnn Hart’s story in “Crickets could be the food solution that saves us all.”

…The first time I seriously considered crickets as the food of the future was in late 2015 during a presentation by undergraduates. Their policy proposal outlining how the adoption of insect protein in the Los Angeles Area could help insulate the region from some of the impacts of climate-change included a tasting of a recent-to-market, paleo-friendly, cricket-based protein bar. As I sunk my teeth into the slightly gummy, peanut-buttery bite being passed around the classroom, my mind flashed between the grim food futures presented in science fiction novels and the much smaller collection of hopeful fiction portrayals of delicious future feasts. What is it about our contemporary anxieties that makes it so easy to imagine such dystopic food futures?…

(5) HEAPS OF FUN. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott considers how successive American generations have different ways of arriving at the same destination — mortality: “Shelf Life: Our Collections and the Passage of Time”.

…The things you loved when you were young will never be able to make you young again. The reluctant acceptance of this fact is the source of nostalgia, a disorder that afflicts every modern generation in its own special way. Members of Generation X grew up under the heavy, sanctimonious shadow of the baby boom’s long adolescence, among crates of LPs and shelves of paperbacks to remind us of what we had missed. Just as baby boomers’ rebellion against their Depression- and war-formed parents defined their styles and poses, so did our impatience with the boomers set ours in motion. But I’m not talking so much about a grand narrative of history as about what Aksel might call the useless stuff — the objects and gadgets that form the infrastructure of memory….

Every cohort has these. A CD in a plastic jewel box is not intrinsically more poetic than a vinyl LP in a cardboard sleeve. On the internet and in television shows like “PEN15,” a robust millennial nostalgia fetishizes AOL chat rooms, Dance Dance Revolution, Tamagotchis and other things that I was already too old for the first time around. Gen Z will surely have its turn before long, even if its characteristic cultural pursuits don’t seem to be manifested in physical objects….

(6) SLF GRANT NEWS. The Speculative Literature Foundation has announced the final two winners of the SLF Convention Support Grants.

Over the course of the year we gave out $10,000, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions.

These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate. Read on for more information about how each convention will use the funding.

WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars. The convention is hosted by the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin, which aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

WisCon will use the grant funds to cover the costs of equipment and equipment rental to make their con more accessible.

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color. To meet this mission, they consider each dimension of access (fiscal, disability, equity, etc) with care to inform every decision they make, from where programming is accessed to how it’s structured.

A key focus for their 2022 convention is making sure they have easily accessible virtual spaces, as well as safe future events during the pandemic, which includes travel, catering, and technology costs that they anticipate will increase significantly this year.

(7) GAIMAN ADAPTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy reviews Chivalry, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Colleen Doran and based on a short story from Gaiman’s collection Smoke And Mirrors.

[Colleen Doran’s] stunning artwork turns Arthur’s knight into the kind of dashing, courtly hero who is obliged to seduce a maiden.  Doran’s illustrations, drawing from a soft palette of blues, pinks, and greens that flare unto sudden glorious bursts of crimson and gold at need, are what will make Chivalry a perennial Christmas gift.  Famous Authors are often at risk of having their old work briskly repackaged by clever marketing departments but Doran, a Gaiman fan since her youth has, for complicated rights reasons, waited over two decades to work on this short story…

,,,The question as to whether a single short story taken from a far more varied fantasy collection is satisfying as a standalone graphic novel remains.  Certainly,Gaiman and Doran’s book feels too slight on its own to measure up to the best of Gaiman’s output.  Still, Chivalry reminds you that, some days, all you need is to believe in impossible quests.

(8) UNDERSTANDING OCTAVIA BUTLER. “Black History Month: Octavia Butler’s sci-fi dystopia still relevant”USA Today profiles the author.

…Butler rose to prominence in the traditionally white bastion of science fiction. She was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes. 

Science-fiction author Nisi Shawl recalls meeting the “Kindred” author in 1999 during a convention in Seattle when she was tasked with writing a profile on Butler. The two became acquainted and a friendship later blossomed in 2002. 

“One thing that she really instilled in me was the idea that you should write about things that bring up strong emotions in you, things that you fear, things that you loathe, things that you cherish, but things that you are passionate about in one way or another,” Shawl tells USA TODAY, adding that Butler inspired her to write the short story “Momi Watu.” …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Barbara Hambly, one of my favorite writers of horror, has won two Lord Ruthven Awards (1996 and 2007) given by the Lord Ruthven Assembly, a group of scholars specializing in vampire literature who are affiliated with the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. 

Those Who Hunt in The Night, the first in the excellent John Asher series, won the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel.

I’m also very impressed of her two novelizations done for one of my favorite tv series, Beauty and the Beast and and Beauty and the Beast: Song of Orpheus as it’s hard to write material off those series that’s actually worth reading.  She wrote three Trek novels and several Star Wars too but I’ve not read them. 

And yes, there’s lots about her writing career I’ve not included here so feel free to tell me what you think I should have mentioned. 

Barbara Hambly

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1908 Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — they were quite good. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 77. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in  the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 74. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre-strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile. 
  • Born February 26, 1957 John Jude Palencar, 65. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my personal collection, he’s on the covers of de lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of EarthseaOrigins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well.
  • Born February 26, 1958 Karen Berger, 64. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC,  and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 57. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) 45TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE OF 2000 AD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week the 45th birthday issue of 2000 AD is out. It includes a zarjaz strip of the Command Module droids travelling through the thrillverse collecting 2000 AD characters to help Tharg compose a birthday hit single. It also features the start of a new Judge Dredd story that teases that the Judges are trying to silence someone who claims to have a secret concerning the truth of Judge Dredd!

Splundig!

(13) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Kevin Standlee says Westercon 74 sent out the following announcement to its members today regarding COVID-19. The short version:

Vaccination required

Masks required

For the long version, click here – “COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy”.

As a reminder, the 2022 Westercon will be held in Tonopah, Nevada from July 1-4.

(14) PURINA BAT CHOW. “Doorbells, chicken and special edition biscuits: why are The Batman’s tie-ins such a joker?” asks the Guardian. “Someone on the merchandising team is working overtime to turn the serious new Robert Pattinson movie into Sonic the Hedgehog.”

…Then there is all the food. The Oreos we have covered; they have a picture of Batman’s face on them, because we all know that nothing is more delicious than wolfing down an effigy of agonising mental torment. Papa John’s is also in on the act. Its pizzas currently come in commemorative The Batman boxes (because who doesn’t love using used food receptacles as keepsakes?) and there is also a new side – black ghost chilli chicken wings – that also apparently have something to do with Batman. Meanwhile, in the US, Little Caesars has made a “calzony” (a kind of folded pizza) that’s shaped like the Batman logo, allowing customers to grab themselves a slice of gooey, unresolved trauma.

Caffè Nero has subverted the pattern a little by focusing on the Riddler. It has launched a new hot chocolate, with a mysterious new flavour. If you can guess the flavour – which is to say, if you can stomach spending your money on a product that for the purposes of suspension of disbelief was designed by a nightmarish BDSM goblin – you can win a trip to a theme park.

Again, I’m barely touching the sides here….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dream Foundry has shared the Flights of Foundry 2021 panel “Making Your Reader Hungry: Food in SFF” with Nibedita Sen and Shweta Adhyam, moderated by Cora Buhlert. (Watch the video at the link.)

For a long time, speculative fiction rarely engaged with food. Over on the science fiction side of the fence, protagonists lived on food pills or ordered “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” from the replicator, while fantasy characters subsisted on the ubiquitous stew and quaffed tankards of ale. However, this has changed in recent times and now detailed food descriptions are a lot more common in SFF. Nor are we just seeing only stereotypical western and American food anymore, but also dishes from non-western cuisines and food traditions. This panel will discuss how food is portrayed in science fiction and fantasy and how this parallels real world developments, whether it’s meal replacement products like the unfortunately named Soylent or trends like pandemic baking.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Irene Bruce, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/26/22 Comments Have Spoken, Like The First Filing; Pixels Have Woken, Like The First Scroll

  1. First!

    Now I’ve going to watch a bunch of Tex Avery cartoons. Because in a world gone mad, they’re somehow still a very sane thing even The Wolf.

  2. (1) What!? Who thought this was a good idea? (Lawyers, of course, but still…) I thought it was bad enough when big studios cracked down on fan sites for using a few images or sound files form a movie. But the name of an author?!

    (10) I still remember reading the Theodore Sturgeon tributes in Locus magazine. I’d read a few issues before, but that was one of the the first issues I really remember reading.

  3. (9) Hambly’s Trek novels are worth reading. “Ishmael” is fun; the others are more serious.

  4. Is Bimbos of the Death Sun actually genre? I remember it as a straight mystery, despite the fact that it’s set at an SF convention. I might call it genre-adjacent, I suppose, but I thought it stopped short of being actually genre.

  5. Xtifr says Is Bimbos of the Death Sun actually genre? I remember it as a straight mystery, despite the fact that it’s set at an SF convention. I might call it genre-adjacent, I suppose, but I thought it stopped short of being actually genre.

    I’d call it genre in the same way that Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Spade / Paladin novels are genre. The setting makes it genre as our community is itself SSF at times.

  6. Bimbos of the Death Sun isn’t genre. It’s an outright attack on fandom, making everyone look like, well, the “popular kids” view of us. There’s an immense difference between “laugh at ourselves” and “look! laugh at them! They’re all weird and incompetent and living in fantasy worlds!”

    And I say that, knowing a) that the protagonist is based on a friend of mine from Canada, who was also the best man at a wedding of hers… and no longer speaks of her as a friend.

  7. 2) !!!! Can they do that? Like, technologically speaking? Who has control of the ISS? (I mean, doing that on purpose would be actual justification for the US to interfere with Ukraine even if it’s not in NATO on a realpolitik level rather than an ethical one, so I don’t think they’d want to, but even as a threat!)

    15) For me, food in SFF is always going to be symbolized by Redwall and the lavish descriptions of food therein– I remember wanting to try cooking from it, as a child, because there was enough description given of some of the cooking processes that I think you probably could have.

  8. Anne Marble says What!? Who thought this was a good idea? (Lawyers, of course, but still…) I thought it was bad enough when big studios cracked down on fan sites for using a few images or sound files form a movie. But the name of an author?!

    I’m assuming that this means that a fanzine cannot use the name Tolkien in the fanzine title? What other restrictions are being placed upon them? Are all words from the Tolkien oeuvre hereby banned from usage by fanzines? Cannot I not have a fanzine called Musings from The Shire?

  9. (2) I read this evening that Russia has pulled its team out of the ESA launch site, so the next launch is going to be delayed. Or not Russian.

  10. 10) Liz Williams has recently published Comet Weather and Blackthorn Winter, the first two in a 4 book series from Newcon Press. These are my 2 favorite fantasy novels of the last 2 years, they follow 4 grown sisters from Somerset, England and the magic they are all involved with. Beautifully written and a lot of fun, these books are well worth reading.

  11. 10) I know some folks like Curt Phillips disagree with me, but I feel that McCrumb’s Jay Omega novels, especially the second one, are more the cool kids’ contemptuous mockery than affectionate ribbing (she does that to characters in some of her mysteries as well). And yes, I can understand how that might mark me in some people’s eyes as just the kind of FIAWOL fan she is mocking.

    (And I’m an Old Fan and Tired who is trying to figure out what parts of Europe I can visit on my 2020 TAFF voyage that are not being threatened by Muscovy.)

  12. @ Kit Harding. To stay in orbit ISS has to be boosted periodically, the Russians do that. Without boosting it’ll eventually fall.

  13. 10) Interestingly, my first encounter with Theodore Sturgeon’s writing had nothing to do with fiction. When I was 11, I began reading Frederik Pohl’s IF. Ted Sturgeon was the resident columnist, and I always enjoyed his comments on science and technology. He had titles like “Just Westing” (a discussion of Westinghouse Inc.’s engineering), “Glop, Goosh, and Gilgamesh” (on asphalt), and “Essay on Coherence” (about lasers). It was in that essay that I discovered that “laser” was not pronounced like the surname of David Lasser. I think the way he told it was “No, junior, ‘laser’ is not the comparative form of ‘lazy.'” He frequently wrote the editorials for Pohl, as well–I discovered many years later that any editorial signed “The Editor” rather than “Frederik Pohl” was probably Sturgeon’s. Then I borrowed a couple of Groff Conklin anthologies from the library and found that Mr. Sturgeon also wrote fiction, things like “Microcosmic God,” “Completely Automatic,” and “Killdozer!”

  14. Liz Williams’ The Poison Master is probably my favorite Vance pastiche that also stands quite well on its own. I highly recommend it.

  15. 1) It occurs to me that someone gave the Tolkien estate to the spirits of Smaug and Glaurung, a couple of infamously greedy dragons. Or perhaps Sharkey regrouped himself and took it over. I took a look in the FAQ on that site and saw little but orc-talk.

  16. @Michael J. Lowrey: I agree with you about Bimbos: I thought it was mean-spirited. I didn’t read Zombies — why would I?

  17. (5) “A CD in a plastic jewel box is not intrinsically more poetic than a vinyl LP in a cardboard sleeve.”
    No, but the opposite is. A vinyl LP is esthetically so much more pleasing than a CD in a jewel box. In general, an analog item is always more so than a digital equivalent.

  18. 10) @Rob Thornton I’d describe The Poison Master as Vance-influenced rather than a Vance pastiche – but yes, worth reading. It is not, for instance about a Sarkovy Venefice! In comparison, a lot of Matthew Hughes’ work is Vance pastiches and very recognisable as such.
    (I recently read The Barbarians of Beyond – Hughes authorised “sequel” to Vance’s Demon Princes saga – it was OK, but not a match for the master’s works)

  19. (1) Tolkien was registered as a trademark in 2005. (Reg. No. 2941708)

    If it took you until now to notice, it feels safe to conclude that their lawyers aren’t being overly aggressive about this.

  20. ISS reboosts are usually performed by the Progress freighter docked to the rear of the station, attitude control is usually done with gyroscopes on the NASA side. Coordination is required between the two systems, when the new Russian module accidentally fired thrusters and spun the station the gyroscopes were fighting the motion which increased the stress on the station.

    The Cygnus freighters have recently been modified to be able to perform reboosts while docked to the forward port, however the Gygnus currently uses an Antares rocket to get to orbit. The first stage of Antares is built in Ukraine using Russian engines, and it has been rumoured that the factory has been deliberately targeted by Russian forces. Cygnus has launched on Atlas V in the past, but there are no more of them available and the replacement Vulcan is behind schedule. Falcon 9 has the capacity to launch Cygnus, but it would need work on interfacing.

  21. Brian Gibbons; The Tolkien Estate lawyers would have reviewed the ridiculous claim made in this FAQ. They should have rephrased it to properly reflect what registering the name as a trademark accomplished. Which was not preempting people’s rights to utter the name in fanzines. That’s the point.

  22. (10) Sturgeon’s “And Now the News…” reads more and more true to me every day, as I keep up with the news via radio, TV and the web.

  23. 1) Tolkien has three trademarks, one granted in April of 2018 and registered in nearly a dozen classes. However, fair use for both Copyright and Trademark still apply. You could use the name in a review of the works, or a course syllabus and people with the last name of Tolkien could still sign their checks without fear of retribution.

    The manner in which these claims are presented, however, makes this look like a case of the estate setting things up for future defense of the mark(s); they are clearly establishing in public what they think the lines. This is usually done to both deter and to make a stronger case if they take a (big, or well-heeled) opponent on.

    4) someone at my university’s entomology department was already making “‘roach butter” back in the 70s. Many Eastern cultures include various insects in their diet and chocolate covered ants and grasshoppers, worms in lollipops.
    Personally, I believe the lack of insects in western diets is one of the contributing factors to the higher incidence of colon cancer in the west. Its the chitin.

    15) Not so A. Bertram Chandler’s Commander John “Gutsy” Grimes, whose nickname was not acquired in battle but in front of the refrigerator. Stories involving gustatory adventures include “Grimes Among the Gourmets”, which relates interstellar negotiations taking place around a dinner table, the meal involving unfamiliar cutlery.

  24. @Steve Davidson

    Real-world benefits aside, “It’s the chitin” feels like it belongs with “Fill all your stomachs and fill them right!” and “Vormitash – good as it sounds!”

  25. I once marginally increased my coolness level in the eyes of our kid by volunteering to sample some cockroach pilaf at a Milwaukee County Museum (now Milwaukee “Public” Museum; R.I.P.) lecture and demonstration about edible insects. Too chewy (again, the chitin) but the flavor was okay.

  26. bill — thanks for that Leroy Lettering Set link. The article was interesting, but the comments were fascinating!

  27. Palantir Technologies has its own registered trademark on “Palantir”, which covers different sorts of goods and services from the Saul Zaentz Company’s trademarks. And they weren’t the first, the Patent Office shows that there was a trademark filed for Palantir in word processing back in the 1980s.

    But a quick search shows that Barazinbar, Bundushathur, and Zirakzigil are all free.

  28. My initial reaction to Bimbos… was indeed that it seemed mean-spirited, but more recently, in the wake of all the revelations of “missing stairs” in fandom, I’ve started to wonder if it isn’t a little more reasonable–or at least understandable–than it first appeared. I haven’t read it in a while, but the fact that it took fandom so long to call out so many of its toxic members, and that it’s an issue we’re still struggling with, makes me wonder if it might not read differently to me if I read it today.

    Not making any bets either way, though, which is why I’m not rushing out to re-read it.

    But I will say that my gender and such probably meant that I had a very different experience of fandom than Ms. McCrumb’s.

  29. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Bimbos of the Death Sun. The murder victim, as far as I could perceive, was a fuming compost of all the worst character flaws of several well-known pro authors of the 1980s and prior decades. The idea, I’m sure, was to make him so offal that most reader would cheer when he turned up dead.

    Many young fans of the fiawol persuasion used to get so deeply involved in fandom and its activities that they could barely function in the mundane world. This may not be as true now as it was when I was a neo, back in the mid-1970s, but I roomed with several fen who had trouble with fannish-life/mundane-life balance. One of them was able somehow, via acquiring a few academic credentials, to pursue his mania about Heinlein into writing and publishing a two-volume biography of that author. Mundanely, he was always just barely getting by in the early days, and I’m not sure whether he ever managed to do more than that.

  30. Jeanne’s comment above reminded me we knew the same person, and moved me to take a look at an unpublished blog post, “About That Dead Guy”, I wrote shortly after his death was reported. It was a remarkably polite blogpost, for being about someone I had so deeply and completely come to despise. Still, probably best I didn’t publish it.

    But I will note that when his deal to write his Heinlein book was announced in Locus, with an accompanying photo, I was surprised at his change in appearance from when I’d last seen him years before. He’d lost a lot of weight, and was dressed in a well-fitted suit, quite a change from the hand-to-mouth days when his clothes tended to look like Good Will discards. Later heard he might have had an actual job as a clerk as a law office, which probably increased his income by an order of magnitude from the days when I knew him.

  31. I’ve been in fandom since.. 1982 I think? I’ve been to a lot of conventions, from small “backyard” cons (one of which I volunteered at for several years) to larger more commercial ones. And I didn’t have an issue with “Bimbos” — I liked it a lot and felt a real kinship to Marion, Jay’s super-sharp girlfriend who spent the whole book dressed as Emma Peel. And the “popular author hates his character and his fandom” trope reminded me of King’s Misery, which is one of my favorites from him. There were negative stereotypes, yes, but I recognized them from my con-going days and didn’t find them much exaggerated. This might be because I was a girl of minor age when I started going to conventions, so I tripped on a lot of “missing stairs” in the days when fen were far more likely to hush things up than to to clean them up.

    And there were plenty of fans with positive attributes in McCrumb’s books as well. Similarly, there were some of the same stereotypes present in the recent “Hawkeye” TV series where the main characters interacted with some medieval LARPers, and while the group was portrayed as goofy, they were also portrayed as good people happy to help others, who just happened to have a goofy hobby they weren’t embarrassed about.

    Given that we had a real-life full-out murderer as an SCA King (Luis Rondon) I don’t find McCrumb’s portrayals of the worst of fandom to be all THAT far off the mark.

  32. @Bruce Arthurs: I’m glad the fellow under discussion did come into better times in his life. However, when I met him at Denvention III in 2008, he was still quite fat. We buried the hatchet at that con, by the way. I wrote a positive review of the first volume of his RAH bio, for the excellent reason that it was well-done, thoroughly researched biography. He appreciated what I wrote about the book. However, if Vol 1 was biography, Vol 2 was hagiography. Largely missing from both volumes was in-depth discussion of Heinlein’s fiction; Vol 2 had scarcely any of this. It was just as well the biographer was deceased when I read Vol 2, as I panned it (the whole thing could have been summed up as “and they all lived happily ever after”).

    One bit of constructive info I got from the biographer during Denvention III was the existence of the Virginia Edition project. At the time, it was an impossible dream for me to consider owning a full set of it; I finally blew the requisite three grand or so on it in January 2020, after my life without Gail finally settled down. Or so I thought–I’ve been living as a semi-hermit ever since, guess why?

  33. I read Bimbos before I went to a convention (at that time, my only fannish activities had been writing to a ST fanzine (in the 1970s) and later membership in some SF email lists); my reaction was that “some of these characters are creeps, but they’re talking about stuff I care about, so I want to go anyway.” On a fannish mailing list, Bimbos was hugely disliked – but some of the criticisms were factually in error (the convention in that book is not a media convention – it’s clearly a multi-track fannish convention (it has an author for a GoH after all)).

  34. Maytree says Given that we had a real-life full-out murderer as an SCA King (Luis Rondon) I don’t find McCrumb’s portrayals of the worst of fandom to be all THAT far off the mark.

    Her Highland Laddie Gone written as Elizabeth MacPherson with its look at the Highland Games took a lot of criticism from that particular culture too. It was, as someone who knew that culture from having promoted Celtic music, quite accurate but egos there are as easily bruised as they are here.

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