Pixel Scroll 2/27/21 If Sharon Carter Became A Zombie, Would She Be Agent Rot-13?

(1) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo has some of the most insightful comments yet offered about the harassment spawned by Jason Sanford’s report on Baen’s Bar, as well as Mercedes Lackey’s response to others’ claims made about her history with the Bar, in “Opinion: When Writers Punch – Up, Down, or Sideways” at The World Remains Mysterious.

… When a writer publicly calls someone out, they need to be aware of all of the implications, including the fact that the more popular the writer, the more devastating the results can be, not due to any intrinsic quality of the writer, but the number of fans. The more fans, the more likely it is that the group will contain people who, emboldened by the idea of pleasing a favorite writer, can — and will — go to lengths that go far beyond the norms of civil, and sometimes legal, behavior.

This played out recently with reactions to Jason Sanford’s piece on a specific forum within the Baen’s Bar discussion boards administered by Baen Publishing, which have included web posts doxxing Sanford and calling for complaints to be made to a lengthy list of people at Sanford’s placement of employment about the post he made on his free time on a platform that has nothing to do with his employment.

As I’ve said earlier, I have a great deal of respect for Baen and hope it emerges from this watershed moment in a way that suits the bigheartedness of its founder. But in the fray, a lot of writers have been egging their followers on to do shitty things in general, and what has emerged include the above specifics.

It’s not okay to point your readers at someone and basically say “make this person miserable.” It is okay to vote with one’s pocketbook. To not buy the books of people you don’t support. That is called a boycott, and it is an established tactic. (One of my consistent practices throughout the years, though, is to read a book by each one before I make that decision, so I know what I might be missing out on. So far, no regrets.) Going beyond that is, in my opinion, is the act of someone who’s gotten carried away and is no longer seeing their target as a fellow human being, and who needs to stop and think what they are doing….

(2) COMMENTING ON THE UNSTOPPABLE. Harper Campbell reviews Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction edited by Joshua Whitehead in “An Indigenous sci-fi moment” at The Ormsby Review.

…It really matters that so much space is being created by Native writers to tell Native sci-fi stories. Science fiction has seeped into the cultural subconscious of the world, providing our basic frame of reference for each successive wave of technological change. We understand that we have entered an age of technological modernity, and it isn’t enough to see the future as simply an extension of the past. Science fiction is what helps people all over the world make sense of a “normal” that is in perpetual change.

It is a serious shortcoming of science fiction, then, that it tends to gloss over colonialism and imperialism. The implicit view of most science fiction, after all, is one in which colonizers are the true vehicle of world-historical change. Science fiction is always saying — look how far we’ve come, look how much we’ve accomplished, see how unstoppable we’ve been. And what they mean is, look how unstoppable colonialism has been.

And like colonizers, the implicit perspective of science fiction tends to see the cosmos as a field of pure resource. The tendency is to insist that the earth, our beloved green and blue earth, is after all just one planet, theoretically interchangeable with any other that could support life. And why stick to just one planet? Like Cecil Rhodes, the arch-imperialist, sci-fi aspires to annex the stars.

So when an Indigenous writer starts to put down the first words of a science fiction story, they must already be grappling with nothing less than the significance of the history of the world and what it will mean for the future. They must wrestle with the cosmic dimension of colonialism from the other side, from a perspective that could never say “Look how unstoppable we’ve been.”

(3) FUTURE TENSE. Released today, the latest in a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives (and the second presented by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, as part of its work on Learning Futures and Principled Innovation.) Leigh Alexander’s short story “The Void” at Slate begins –

Five things you can touch, whispers Rose, and I touch: duvet, her hand, my own hair, the rough plaster of the wall, and my device. It wakes up, a rectangle of soft light in our dark bedroom.

Four things you can hear, she says, and I listen for the tap-tap of water from somewhere in the kitchen, the rhythm of a neighbor’s music through the floor, the rustling of bedsheets and my pounding heart.

Then Andrea Thomer, an expert on information science, provides a response essay: “Leigh Alexander’s “The Void” and information overload”.

In grad school, I remember reading about—or at least, I think I remember reading about—a new browser plug-in designed to capture your internet click trails for later re-searching. The promo materials visualized this as a beautiful network of interconnected websites, making it possible to refind any page, article, recipe, meme etc. I am easily distracted and spend approximately 18 hours a day on the internet, so this sounded like a dream come true: Never again would I waste time retracing my digital steps to find something vaguely remembered reading but neglected to bookmark! I signed up to beta test this tool immediately. Or at least I think I did. I never heard anything about this widget again, and my attempts to remember its name have all been in vain. I’ve searched through my email, browser history, Twitter likes: nothing. I may have imagined this thing. Looking for it made me feel like a character in a Borges story: wandering the library stacks in search for the one book that will tell me what stacks I’ve already been in….

On Thursday, March 4, at noon Eastern, author Leigh Alexander and Andrea K. Thomer, information scientist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, will discuss this story in an hourlong online discussion moderated by Punya Mishra, professor and associate dean of scholarship and innovation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. RSVP here.

(4) THE NEXT GRANTVILLE GAZETTE. On March 1, 2021, 1632 Inc. will release Issue 94, March 2021 of The Grantville Gazette at www.grantvillegazette.com.

The Gazette is a SFWA-approved venue for professional writers, and pays professional rates. The Gazette is published every other month, and has been published since 2007. It is available in several different electronic editions, including Kindle, ePub, PDF, and more. It can be downloaded directly from the Gazette website, or from our distributor, Baen.com.

This issue features works by best-selling authors Virginia DeMarce, Iver P. Cooper, and Edward M. Lerner, as well as columns by Kristine Katherine Rusch and Walt Boyes.

Edited by Walt Boyes, with Bjorn Hasseler as managing editor, and Garrett Vance as Art Director, the Gazette offers fiction and fact, both from the 1632Universe and from the UniverseAnnex, which is designed to provide a venue for general SFF.

More than 160 authors have had their first professional sale to The Grantville Gazette, through the medium of critique and workshops, both for 1632 fiction and general SF. Some of these authors have gone on to successful careers as writing professionals.

(5) LAPL FUNDRAISER. Charles Yu will be one of the Honorary Chairs for “The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball” on March 7, hosted by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Anytime, and for as long as you choose to celebrate on Sunday, March 7, 2021.

Stay safe and read in the comfort of your home, bed, or even in the bathtub! Or mask up and go for a walk with an audiobook from the Library!

Choose a book (or many!) and let the pages transport you! Have a ball while reading at home, and show your support for the Los Angeles Public Library by donating what you would have spent at an annual gala or a night out.

Share photos of your literary festivities on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tell us what you’ll be reading – tag #StayHomeandRead to let others know how you are celebrating!

Choose formal or warm and fuzzy – anything goes when you’re having a ball at home.

Feast on lobster and champagne, milk and cookies, or wine and cheese.

Kindly RSVP by visiting LFLA.org/StayHome, or text the word LIBRARY to 41444.

(6) SMALL TOWN, GREAT RESOURCE. The Middletown Public Library, a small town library outside of Harrisburg PA, is associated with the Science Fiction Book Club on Facebook. In 2017 the library’s Director, John Grayshaw, started reaching out to sci-fi authors and doing Q&As with them. There are now over 60 Science Fiction Author Interviews in the archives with many well-known writers including Lois McMaster Bujold, Samuel R. Delany, and Robert J. Sawyer.

The latest addition is the interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky:  

Bryan Stewart: I’m curious what’s your favorite answer to the Fermi Paradox? Do you think we’ll make first contact in our lifetimes?

[AT] I have become more pessimistic about this as I’ve got older (and the personal element of that ‘in our lifetimes’ necessarily becomes shorter). I do believe life is common in the universe, but the universe is very big so that can still produce colossal, uncrossable vistas between any two species that might appreciate each other’s’ existence. On a bad day I feel that a sufficiently advanced civilization is likely to destroy itself rather like we’re in the process of doing ourselves. On a good day I suspect that our attempts to find life are predicated far too much on that life being like us, and that we may simply not be sifting unusual alien signals from the background hiss, or may be looking in the wrong place.

(7) YOU’VE READ HER. Jonathan Lethem tells Literary Hub “Why Shirley Jackson is a Reader’s Writer”.

Ten and twenty years ago I used to play a minor parlor trick; I wonder if it would still work. When asked my favorite writer, I’d say “Shirley Jackson,” counting on most questioners to say they’d never heard of her. At that I’d reply, with as much smugness as I could muster: “You’ve read her.” When my interlocutor expressed skepticism, I’d describe “The Lottery”—still the most widely anthologized American short story of all time, I’d bet, and certainly the most controversial, and censored, story ever to debut in The New Yorker—counting seconds to the inevitable widening of my victim’s eyes: they’d not only read it, they could never forget it. I’d then happily take credit as a mind reader, though the trick was too easy by far. I don’t think it ever failed.

Jackson is one of American ?ction’s impossible presences, too material to be called a phantom in literature’s house, too in-print to be “rediscovered,” yet hidden in plain sight….

(8) FANCASTS TO CONSIDER. Cora Buhlert has expanded her Fanzine Spotlight project to fancasts, of which these are the latest entries. She says, “I’m really enjoying this project, though it has upset my Hugo ballot, because there are so many great podcasts out there I never knew about.”

Tell us about your broadcast.

The Journey Show is an outgrowth of Galactic Journey, our time machine to 55 years ago in fact and fiction. That site has been around since 1958…er…2013, and the conceit is that we are all fans living in the past, day by day, reviewing all the works of the time in the context of their time.

Tell us about your podcast or YouTube channel.

On our podcast we like to explore how narrative helps people to envision and achieve a better future. In turn, we like to talk to writers, editors, activists, gamers, and anyone else who helps us imagine those worlds. We consider our podcast to be linked thematically with HopePunk. Our interpretation of HopePunk takes a stance of hope through resistance to the current norms. Emphasis on the PUNK. Any given podcast discussion can range from a specific novel or story, to a guest’s career, politics, religion, music, writing tips, and ttrpgs. Guests often include editors, traditionally published writers, and Indie writers.

Some other previous guests have included folks like Bill Campbell, Tobias Buckell, Malka Older, P. Djeli Clark, and James Morrow, Janet Forbes (founder of the world building platform World Anvil), and Graeme Barber (writer and ttrpg critic).

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

[Alasdair Stuart] I had it gently and affectionately pointed out to me that there was no reason not to. I’d had a lot of frustrations with freelance projects at that point (multiple projects paid years late, another company going insolvent, etc). So one day I made a joke about what my newsletter would be and 50 ‘I’d read that’ emails later I realised I had an audience if I wanted to do it. And I did. I took Matt Wallace’s words about building your own platform to heart and started building mine.

Sisters Alice Baker and Ann Spangler have set themselves the goal of reading and discussing all Hugo and Nebula winning novels.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

Alice: For me, it was because I was looking for a way to connect with my sister who I do not often get to see in person. We both have a love of the genre (although Ann likes Fantasy more), and since we were going to be discussing it anyway, I thought we should record them. I have some previous experience on the Educating Geeks podcast. Also, I find it difficult to read for hours like I used so I am trying to retrain myself.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

Way back in 2014, Andi was live-tweeting her first time through Star Trek, Grace was podcasting on All Things Trek, Jarrah was blogging at Trekkie Feminist, and Sue was podcasting and blogging at Anomaly Podcast. At different points in time, Andi, Jarrah, and Sue had all been guests with Grace on All Things Trek on TrekRadio – sometimes with each other, sometimes individually. Having been connected through podcasting, and with that show coming to a close, Andi proposed that we start our own. After much planning, Women at Warp launched as an independent podcast in 2015.

(9) PREPARING FOR THE APOCALYPSE. RS Benedict theorizes about the state of genre film in “Everyone Is Beautiful and No One Is Horny” at Blood Knife.

When Paul Verhoeven adapted Starship Troopers in the late 1990s, did he know he was predicting the future? The endless desert war, the ubiquity of military propaganda, a cheerful face shouting victory as more and more bodies pile up?

But the scene that left perhaps the greatest impact on the minds of Nineties kids—and the scene that anticipated our current cinematic age the best—does not feature bugs or guns. It is, of course, the shower scene, in which our heroic servicemen and -women enjoy a communal grooming ritual.

On the surface, it is idyllic: racial harmony, gender equality, unity behind a common goal—and firm, perky asses and tits.

And then the characters speak. The topic of conversation? Military service, of course. One joined for the sake of her political career. Another joined in the hopes of receiving her breeding license. Another talks about how badly he wants to kill the enemy. No one looks at each other. No one flirts.

A room full of beautiful, bare bodies, and everyone is only horny for war.

… This cinematic trend reflects the culture around it. Even before the pandemic hit, Millennials and Zoomers were less sexually active than the generation before them. Maybe we’re too anxious about the Apocalypse; maybe we’re too broke to go out; maybe having to live with roommates or our parents makes it a little awkward to bring a partner home; maybe there are chemicals in the environment screwing up our hormones; maybe we don’t know how to navigate human sexuality outside of rape culture; maybe being raised on the message that our bodies are a nation-ending menace has dampened our enthusiasm for physical pleasure. 

Eating disorders have steadily increased, though. We are still getting our bodies ready to fight The Enemy, and since we are at war with an abstract concept, the enemy is invisible and ethereal. To defeat it, our bodies must lose solidity as well….


  • February 27, 1994 — On this date in 1994, the TekWar episode TekLab first aired. Though created by William Shatner, it was actually ghost-written by writer Ron Goulart. This extended episode was directed by Timothy Bondoff the the story by Westbrook Claridge which was developed into a teleplay by? Chris Haddock. As always the lead character was Jake Cardigan played by Greg Evigan, and yes, Shatner was in the series as Walter Bascom. Torri Higginson, of later Stargate fame, got her start on this series. The series doesn’t far well with the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes where it currently has a dismal thirty six percent rating. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 27, 1807 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Taught at Bowdoin and Harvard.  First American translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy; better known to many for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and Hiawatha, whose accessibility had better not blind the thoughtful.  Book-length poems, novels, plays, anthologies, a dozen volumes of poetry.  “What a writer asks of readers is not so much to like as to listen.”  (Died 1882) [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1850 – Laura Richards.  Ninety books addressed to children; fifty stories ours, at least (what should count can be unclear with “children’s”).  LR’s mother Julia Ward Howe wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”; 1917 Pulitzer Prize for biography of JWH by LR & sister Maud Howe Elliott “assisted by [sister] Florence Howe Hall”.  LR also wrote biographies of Abigail Adams, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc; 5 others.  Maybe best known for “Eletelephony”.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1934 Van Williams. He was the Green Hornet (with the late Bruce Lee as his partner Kato) on The Green Hornet and three Batman cross-over episodes. He would voice President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Batman series, show up in an episode of Mission Impossible, and also do a one-off Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected and that’s it. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born February 27, 1938 T.A. Waters. A professional magician and magic author. He appears not terribly well-disguised as Sir Thomas Leseaux, an expert on theoretical magic as a character in Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy fantasy series and in Michael Kurland’s The Unicorn Girl in which he also appears as Tom Waters. He himself wrote The Probability Pad which is a sequel to The Unicorn Girl. Together with Chester Anderson’s earlier The Butterfly Kid , they make up Greenwich Village trilogy. (Died 1998.)  (CE) 
  • Born February 27, 1944 Ken Grimwood. Another writer who died way too young, damn it.  Writer of several impressive genre novels including Breakthrough and Replay which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and Into the Deep and Elise which are listed in ISFDB but which I’m not at all familiar with. So what else is worth reading by him? (Died 2003.) (CE) 
  • Born February 27, 1960 Jeff Smith, 61. Creator and illustrator of Bone, the now complete series that he readily admits that “a notable influence being Walt Kelly’s Pogo”. Smith also worked for DC on a Captain Marvel series titled Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil. He’s won a very impressive eleven Harvey Awards and ten Eisner Awards! (CE)
  • Born February 27, 1945 – Hank Davis, age 76.  Nine short stories in e.g. AnalogF&SF, not counting one for The Last Dangerous Visions.  A dozen anthologies.  Correspondent of SF CommentarySF Review.  Served in the Army in Vietnam.  [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1951 – Mark Harrison, age 70.  Two hundred sixty covers, fifty interiors.  British SF Ass’n Award.  Here is The Story of the Stone.  Here is Valentine Pontifex.  Here is the Mar 93 Asimov’s.  Here is the Mar 95 Analog.  Here is Mercury.  Artbook, Dreamlands.  [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1964 John Pyper-Ferguson, 57. I certainly remember him best as the villain Peter Hutter on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. but I see that he got he got his start in Canadian horror films such as Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Pin: A Plastic Nightmare. His first major SF role was in Space Marines as Col. Fraser which turns only such role. And though he has an extensive one-off career in genre series with over two dozen appearances, his occurrence as a repeated cast member is not uncommon as he’s Agent Bernard Fainon the new Night Stalker for the episodes, shows up as Tomas Vergis on Caprica for six episodes and I see he’s had a recurring role on The Last Ship as Tex  Nolan. (CE)
  • Born February 27, 1970 – Michael A. Burstein, age 51.  Twoscore short stories.  Served a term as SFWA Secretary (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America), simultaneously Vice-President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n).  Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer.  President, Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet.  Fanzine (with wife Nomi Burstein), Burstzine.  [JH]
  • Born February 27, 1976 Nikki Amuka-Bird, 45. The Voice of Testimony in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctor story, “Twice Upon A Time”.  She’s shown up quite a bit in genre work from horror (The Omen), space opera (Jupiter Ascending)takes on folk tales (Sinbad and Robin Hood) and evening SF comedy (Avenue 5). (CE)
  • Born February 27, 1993 – Ellen Curtis, age 28.  Three novels (with Matthew LeDrew), three shorter stories; four anthologies (with Erin Vance).  Has read The Essential Calvin and HobbesThe Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Castle of OtrantoThe Name of the Rose, a Complete Stories & Poems of Lewis CarrollGrimms’ Fairy TalesHans Andersen’s Fairy Tales.  [JH]

(12) REDISCOVERING ‘UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Looking back on the final voyage of the original Star Trek crew, Escapist scribe Darren Mooney makes a compelling argument for the subtext of the movie. He reads the movie as a rejection of nostalgia, and the need to hear new voices within genre fiction. It’s an article that’s relevant to several of fandom’s ongoing internecine struggles: “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Rejected Franchise Nostalgia in a Way Impossible Today” at Escapist Magazine.

…Three decades later, it’s impossible to imagine a major franchise demonstrating this level of introspection without provoking a fandom civil war. The Undiscovered Country provides a contrast with films like The Rise of Skywalker, in that The Undiscovered Country is about an older generation learning that they need to step aside and make room for those that will follow, while The Rise of Skywalker is about how the older generation is never too old for a joyride in the Millennium Falcon….

(13) SLIPPED DISC. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Talking of mysterious bronze age artefacts, here is an article about the archeological dispute involving the famous Nebra sky disc:  “Archaeologists Are Caught Up in an Intense Fight Over Just How Important the Mysterious Nebra Sky Disk Really Is” at Artnet News. Even if the sky disc is not as old as previously assumed, it is still an intensely cool artefact. I was lucky enough to see it in person a few years ago, since I have family in Halle/Saale, the town where it’s kept.

  … In September, Rupert Gebhard, director of the Munich’s Bavarian State Archaeological Collection, and Rüdiger Krause, an early European history professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, published a paper in the German journal Archäologische Informationen arguing that the artifact—which features images of the sun, the moon, and the Pleiades star cluster—is not the remarkable earliest-known depiction of astronomical phenomena that it had been heralded as.

“It’s a very emotional object,” Gebhard told the New York Times. He believes that the looters who discovered the disk before it was recovered in 2002 moved it from its original site and reburied it with real Bronze Age artifacts to make it appear older and more valuable.

Now, a competing paper put forth by experts including Harald Meller, director of the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Germany, which owns the disk, has fired back….

(14) ALL THAT ROT. Here’s an interesting article about cryptography for everyday use in the 17th century: “Beyond Espionage: Cryptography for Everyday Use in 17th Century England” at Criminal Element.

 Cryptography in seventeenth-century England was not just the stuff of spies and traitors, a fact that became a major plot point in The Sign of the Gallows, my fifth Lucy Campion historical mystery. While ciphers had grown more complex between the 16th and 17th centuries with the development of new mathematics, the actual practice of secret and hidden writing occurred in different domains of everyday life. Merchants might send messages about when and where shipments might occur out of fear of theft. Leaders of non-conformist religious sects like the Quakers might communicate with their followers in code, informing them of their next meeting. Friends and merry-makers might write riddles and jests using ciphers to entertain one another, in a type of pre-parlor game. Lovers, especially those unacknowledged couples, might write amorous messages that could not be read if discovered by jealous husbands or angry parents….

(15) WRITERS’ BLOCK. Mental Floss knows fans will enjoy these “8 Facts About ‘Attack the Block’”.


The movie takes place in a fictional neighborhood. The main council block in the film is called Wyndham Tower in honor of John Wyndham, the English science fiction writer famous for novels such as The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Other locations include Huxley Court (Aldous Huxley), Wells Court (H.G. Wells), Moore Court (Alan Moore), Ballard Street (J.G. Ballard), and Adams Street (Douglas Adams). Just after the movie title appears, the camera pans across a map of the area, showing the various names.

(16) WORSE THAN THE DIET OF WORMS. Antonio Ferme, in “George A. Romero’s Lost Movie ‘The Amusement Park’ Comes to Shudder” at Variety, says that Shudder will show Romero’s 1973 film The Amusement Park which was believed lost until it was found and restored in 2018.  The film was commissioned by the Lutheran Society to showcase problems of elder abuse but suppressed because the Lutherans thought it was too gory.

… “Amusement Park” stars Lincoln Maazel as an elderly man who finds himself increasingly disoriented and isolated during a visit to the amusement park. What he initially assumed would be an ordinary day quickly turned into a hellish nightmare filled with roller coasters and chaotic crowds….

(17) NOTHING SECEDES LIKE SUCCESS. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri interviews residents of Potatopia about their threat to secede if Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head became gender-neutral. “Opinion | An oral history of the Mr. Potato Head secession”.

… Helen Helenson, first applicant for asylum in Potatopia: The minutes when I thought I would have to look at a brownish plastic oval and not clearly know what gender it was were some of the most frightening of my life. I started to sob. I thought, what will they come for next? Soon I won’t know what gender any of the plastics are around my home….

(18) STREAMLINED FELINE. Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski sounds quite revolted by the whole idea: “Meet Flatcat, the Creepiest Robot We’ve Ever Seen”. Question: is the writer aware of that term’s sf roots? He doesn’t acknowledge them in the article.

…To make Flatcat more endearing so people will actually want to touch and interact with it, its creators at a Berlin-based robotics startup called Jetpack Cognition Lab have wrapped it in soft, fluffy fur so that it looks more like a cat—or at least a cat that somehow survived repeated run-ins with a semi-truck. In reality, Flatcat is more like like a ThiccFurrySnake, or maybe a FlattenedCaterpillar. Calling it a cat is certainly a stretch….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “That Mitchell and Webb Look–Holmes And Watson” on YouTube, British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb play two actors who keep fighting over who gets to play Holmes and who gets to play Watson.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Kurt Schiller, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Walt Boyes, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

57 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/27/21 If Sharon Carter Became A Zombie, Would She Be Agent Rot-13?

  1. Lis Carey says Lis Carey on February 27, 2021 at 7:21 pm said:
    Compelled to buy a new phone, I am now trying to get all the settings right.


    My deepest sympathies. One of the reasons I stick with the iOS based hardware is that every new machine automatically imports the settings from the previous machine which has been stored in the iCloud. So when I purchased a new iPad, Tesseract, it was easy to set up as it used the settings and contents from the existing iPad, Infinite Jukebox.

  2. @Cat Eldridge–I’ve never quite recovered from hearing the praises of Apple sung interminably by people standing beside me when the Mac in my office crashed for the third time that week, while the Win3.1 and MS-DOS machines in my office were running smoothly under higher demands, like the solid, reliable workhorses they were.

    I mean, they didn’t so much deny what was happening in front of them, as seemingly not perceive it at all.

    So the idea of paying substantially more, because I am assured by Apple users that it’s really a much better experience… I’m sure you can see why that doesn’t quite work for me. 😉

  3. I’d like to give a hat tip to Olivia Rutigliano of Crimereads for the heads up about the Mitchell and Webb sketch.

  4. @Lis
    Or the friend with a MacBook that had its disk repeatedly crash; it spent a lot of time in the shop. The PC, on the other hand, just kept going.

  5. Lis Carey say So the idea of paying substantially more, because I am assured by Apple users that it’s really a much better experience… I’m sure you can see why that doesn’t quite work for me

    Technology is a personal matter always, A very personal matter. Don’t get going me on my deep and lasting lust for NeXT computers.

  6. @Cat Eldridge–Yes, in the end iPhone and Android simply have different preferences, and won’t be persuaded to change, simply because their preferences are different. Not looking for the same things.

  7. A comment by Dan Neely on Cat Rambo’s post indicates that he has an archive of Baen’s Bar going back to 2005.

    Neely says in another Rambo post that Theoryman had only been a moderator for a month. He was a long-time user before that.

    For anyone who believes Toni Weisskopf’s assertion that the Bar does not moderate on the basis of political views, Stephen Erde comments on the second link, “The board also has the feature that if a several posters block you this can be used as a sufficient reason for a moderator to ban you. … in the politics folder it’s a definite feature and probably part of why no one with political views that can be described as ‘vaguely liberal’ lasts long unless they are fairly intermittent in their posting or excessively polite and non-confrontational in their language.”

    Over time, more examples are emerging of things that Baen was willing to moderate on its forum. The fact that threats of violence and domestic terrorism didn’t make that list is rightfully a scandal.

  8. rcade says Over time, more examples are emerging of things that Baen was willing to moderate on its forum. The fact that threats of violence and domestic terrorism didn’t make that list is rightfully a scandal.

    So if I understand correctly, being liberal essentially gets you banned but threatening to kill liberals isn’t grounds for banning. So she created a safe space for armchair killers. Why the frell did DisCon invite her in the first place?

  9. Lis Carey says Yes, in the end iPhone and Android simply have different preferences, and won’t be persuaded to change, simply because their preferences are different. Not looking for the same things.

    Yes and that’s fine. The technological differences are worth noting.

  10. (7) Ten and twenty years ago I used to play a minor parlor trick; I wonder if it would still work. When asked my favorite writer, I’d say “Shirley Jackson,” counting on most questioners to say they’d never heard of her.
    Say what?

  11. 9) I am filled with recoil. She seems to be complaining that a world where everything isn’t sexualized all the time is unbelievable. Meanwhile I’m always incredibly relieved when I watch a movie where everything isn’t sexualized. (And to suggest that there isn’t chemistry between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor tells me that you have a very limited definition of what constitutes chemistry.) The whole tone of the article seems bizarrely reactionary, very “Things were better in the Idealized Past, when people were Real People, not this modern fakery.” (Also, citation very much needed on the “public schools had students practice throwing mock grenades after 9/11” bit. I am HIGHLY SKEPTICAL that any post-Columbine school would do that for any reason.)

  12. 9) Thank you Kit, I had a similar reaction but was hesitant to say anything. One part curmudgeonly complaining about kids these days, one part weird aesthetics, one part longing for the kind of creepy obsessive toxic sexuality that has inspired a tsunami of well-deserved backlash.

    As far as the Apple thing, I am a confirmed PC user who is proud of never owning an Apple computer, but I like my iPhones. I have a work-issued one and a personal one, and neither one of them gives me any trouble.

  13. 11) Birthdays: While the Thirteenth Doctor makes a cameo appearance in “Twice Upon a Time” it would be a great deal more accurate to call it a Twelfth and First Doctor story.

  14. 10) I watched the first TekWar offering, It was almost as good as Earth: Final Conflict.

  15. @Cat Eldridge,

    glances at the NeXTcube under my desk

    Of course, NeXT’s technology stack leads directly on to Rhapsody -> Mac OS X -> iOS/macOS; My NeXTcube was my main computer from about 1991 until my first PowerBook G4 in 2001. (I’m typing this on a late-2013 Macbook Pro.)

    If you want a NeXT system, there are ways to acquire one. If “all” you want is to have the opportunity to use NeXTStep / OpenStep, there is emulation available: not only do the NeXTStep and OpenStep versions for Intel PCs run on various emulators, but there’s also the Previous NeXT black hardware emulator – see this thread at the nextcomputer.org forums).

  16. Patrick Morris Miller: 10) I watched the first TekWar offering, It was almost as good as Earth: Final Conflict.

    And it was every bit as good as the TekWar novel! 😀

  17. (11) I loved Replay. I wonder what I’d think about it now, when the “old” version of the character (at age 43) would seem almost as much a kid as the young version.

  18. @7
    I know who Jackson was, but I haven’t read the Lottery, or any of her stories. Do I win the booby prize in Lethem’s game?

    Since humanity seems determined to…connubiate itself to death…I have no issue with a non-reproductive future of equality among all individuals freed from the expectations of the procreation police.

    I’ve seen a lot of anti-anti-natalist sentiment recently and several essays bemoaning falling birth rates. Meanwhile, global temperatures rise, desertification continues apace, and migration is becoming a major point of conflict worldwide…I don’t know. I guess I don’t understand human beings.

    Patrick Morris Miller, bazinga!

  19. Brown Robin: Since humanity seems determined to…connubiate itself to death…I have no issue with a non-reproductive future of equality among all individuals freed from the expectations of the procreation police.

    Hear, hear!

    I personally thought that one of the best, most refreshing moments of Starship Troopers was the shower scene, where friends and colleagues were just being friends and colleagues, without the usual prurient sex scenes found in many movies.

    Having participated in many multi-gender scuba diving and running events, honestly, everybody’s just focused on the main event — and often that means just looking the other way while someone changes clothing or showers or uses a makeshift toilet. And sometimes that means helping someone of a different gender who’s injured or in distress and can’t do it all on their own.

    I really despise it when some people insist on sexualizing everything.

  20. Brown Robin: I know who Jackson was, but I haven’t read the Lottery, or any of her stories.

    I read “The Lottery” (which can be read in full here) in high school, and it was one of my earlier exposures to an exploration of the insidiousness of mob mentality. I’m sure that it’s not as impactful now as when it was written in 1948, but it’s still worth reading.

  21. (9) It’s very odd that AIDS is mentioned nowhere in that post. If there were one thing I would point to for an explanation of changing depictions of sex from the 90s onwards, it would be the impact of the AIDS crisis on those of use who were teenagers in the 80s and 90s, and thus media creators in the 2000s.

  22. @JJ – definitely. I’d not heard of the author or the story until it came up on File 770 some time ago. I read the story and agree it’s very much worth reading. In a way it reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s The Veldt.

  23. @David Goldfarb

    11) Birthdays: While the Thirteenth Doctor makes a cameo appearance in “Twice Upon a Time” it would be a great deal more accurate to call it a Twelfth and First Doctor story.

    Well, 12 + 1 does equal 13 . . . .

  24. Another good Shirley Jackson story is “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts.” Originally published in F&SF, here.

    Off topic-
    Earlier this week in conversation with a friend, Lawrence Block came up. I told my friend about Terry Zobeck’s new bibliography of Block’s work. He said no, and asked me if I had read Block’s Ehrengraf shorts. I had not, but am correcting that this week. Martin Ehrengraf is an attorney who does whatever is necessary to see that his clients are found innocent. This may include murder, blackmail, framing, etc. He is quite a sociopath, and a story a day is just about the right pace to get through the collection. (Block is mostly a mystery writer, and Mystery is a genre, if not this genre . . . )

  25. (1) This is good advice for anyone with followers.

    (7) Many people have read “Charles” without noticing that it was written by Shirley Jackson.

  26. I’m a big Lawrence Block fan – I reread his Keller/Hit Man books regularly, ditto most of his Tanner books — particularly Tanner On Ice, which has an SFish twist: Per the title, protagonist Tanner gets inadvertently cryo-froze in 1972 for twenty-five years. I’m pretty sure it was Stephen King who wrote/said (something like) “Lawrence Block writes the best sentences.”

  27. @Jim Janney: Yeah, I read “Charles” well before I read “The Lottery” (or “Peanuts”) – it’s got a sting to it, rather like something Connie Willis might have written in her early short fiction.

  28. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country is available for $2,99 at the Usual Suspects.

    As an Apple user since 1983 (with an Amiga fling during college), I would not be using them unless I’ve been happy with their stability and performance. So there! 🙂

  29. Meredith moment: Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, the second of the second of the Thieves’ World anthologies as edited by Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey is available from the usual digital suspects for a mere buck ninety nine.

  30. (Also, citation very much needed on the “public schools had students practice throwing mock grenades after 9/11” bit. I am HIGHLY SKEPTICAL that any post-Columbine school would do that for any reason.)

    She mentions the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, but seems to miss that the softball throw was basically hand grenade training, apparently thinking this only came into public school physical education post-9/11.

    I have a lot of issues with the PPFT, and those include the fact that it is basically an infantry training regimen snuck into public schools, but it isn’t new and it’s existence basically runs directly counter to the writer’s entire thesis.

  31. It … offends my sense of propriety and symmetry, but it looks like you can get the first three Thieves’ World books (Thieves’ World, Vulgar Unicorn, Shadows of Sanctuary) for $1.99 each if you buy the individual volumes, and then get the second omnibus (with volumes 4-6, Storm Season, Face of Chaos and Wings of Omen) for $3.99.

    (Whereas the first omnibus is $17.99 and the individual editions of volumes 4-6 are $7.99 each.)

  32. @Aaron
    When it started, it was basically fitness: 600-yard run-walk and standing broad jump are all I remember, from back in the late 60s.

  33. I don’t remember a softball throw when I took it. (I remember the test itself very vividly because I was not offered the chance to remove my scoliosis brace for it, which meant the sit-ups were… interesting.)

  34. @Kit
    I think they might have had pull-ups, also. But only the vaguest memories of that stuff. We weren’t trained for it, and didn’t practice beforehand. Did it twice a year, though.

    (It’s a long, long time back from 6308.)

  35. 8) Thanks for the links, Mike.

    9) I very well recall what we called the “three minute pee break”, a shoehorned in and almost always unappealing sex scene that didn’t look like any sex that actual people ever had, that was found in most movies that were not explicitly for kids in the 1980s and 1990s. As for why we called those scenes the “three minute pee break”, it was because you could get up and take a pee during that scene and not miss anything important.

    Sometime after 2000, those scenes became less common in movies and then vanished altogether and I for one don’t mourn them. Because those sex scenes were usually incredibly male gazy, added little to nothing to the story and were also the least erotic thing imaginable. When I was a teen in the 1980s and saw those movie sex scenes (The Name of the Rose, Sea of Love and Presumed Innocent stand out in my memory for particularly terrible sex scenes), I remember whispering to my friend in the theatre, “If sex is like that in real life, I’m not having any, because why would anybody want to?”

    And while there is plenty of reason to complain about Starship Troopers, that shower scene is not one of them. In fact, I liked it that mixed gender nudity was treated so matter-of-factly. As for superhero movies not having any on screen sex, Tony Stark has a sex scene with a random reporter early in the first Iron Man movie. The Jessica Jones show has several quite frank sex scenes and there were a few mild ones in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. I think Wolverine also had on screen sex in one of the Fox X-Men movies. And then there’s Deadpool and Vanessa, who have a whole montage of sex scenes to the tune of Calendar Girl. I’m also pretty sure that Morgan Stark, Cassie Lang and Hawkeye’s kids were not conceived via immaculate conception.

    Besides, those furniture bumping and grinding sex scenes that were a staple of 1980s movies still exist. They have just migrated from the big screen to TV. Anything that’s not on a regular network and not explicitly aimed at younger audiences has sex scenes, often early in the first episode to hook viewers looking for that sort of thing. But unlike theatrical movies, you can fast forward through crappy sex scenes on TV.

  36. (4) Probably worth mentioning that the only way to submit a manuscript for publication in the Grantsville Gazette is by uploading it to Baen’s Bar.

    (9) The first thing I thought upon seeing this item was, “Oh, isn’t that the person whose most recent notoriety was for a Twitter thread shaming fanfic writers? I can probably disregard this essay as utterly wrongheaded, too.”

    Which was very dismissive of me, granted, but there are only so many hours in the day I can devote to reading thinkpieces. I might as well filter out thinkpieces by people whom I recognize primarily as “that person who said something exceedingly stupid and fractally offensive the other week.”

    …Apparently I’m full of negativity today. Let’s fix that. I just read the latest T. Kingfisher novel and it is wonnnnnnderful! Get you to your favorite bookseller and order you a copy of Paladin’s Strength (sequel to Paladin’s Grace) ASAP. You will not regret it.

  37. When it started, it was basically fitness

    It was designed as “fitness with an eye for figuring out who would be good as infantrymen”. The 600 yard dash, 50 yard sprint, standing broad jump and so on were all more or less chosen because they fit with basic military training standards. The softball throw was an original element of the test, but the test varied over time.

    The main problem with the test is that it didn’t actually test fitness except for a very specific type of “fitness” – when it was first introduced, some groups that advocated for physical fitness for kids were critical of the standards implemented. Lots of kids were graded on the scale and told they were “not fit” when under any reasonable definition, they were fine.

  38. 12) An interesting if poorly executed premise. Most of the piece is devoted to Star Trek and compares the graceful departure of TOS crew via a well-scripted story that allows the characters to make peace with a changing world and the non-departure of Capt. Picard because someone in-house saw commercial value in keeping the character around.

    The jibe against Star Wars fans is out of place. (Read the whole article.)

    The apparent reason that Capt. Picard wasn’t allowed to slip away was because of commercial/business/franchise issues. It had less to do with fandom demanding that the character be kept around and more to do with having a successful Star Trek franchise to sell. (Cue in a cut from a Ryan George Pitch Meeting about sequels/series making money being tight here.)

    By comparison, Star Wars fans were responding to poorly written (IMO) plotlines and characters that ignored the decades of entertaining stories (now known as “Legends”) and largely broke the enjoyable parts of the franchise in favor of ripping off the original story beats and writerly “because I said so” motivations. (Cue in a “because I said so” cut from a Ryan George Pitch Meeting here as well.)

    Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. – Isaac Asimov

  39. @ Dann665:

    By comparison, Star Wars fans were responding to poorly written (IMO) plotlines and characters that ignored the decades of entertaining stories (now known as “Legends”) and largely broke the enjoyable parts of the franchise in favor of ripping off the original story beats and writerly “because I said so” motivations. (Cue in a “because I said so” cut from a Ryan George Pitch Meeting here as well.)

    While I’m not exactly wild about the entire sequel trilogy, it certainly deserves better treatment than you give it. Much of Star Wars fandom had expected in advance what was supposed to happen in their beloved franchise (like many media fans). When things didn’t go as expected (female and black leads, old legends dying, etc.), they flipped out a la Gamergate. There’s a lot of good things in the sequel trilogy, particularly in The Last Jedi but in the end I found that they were satisfactory beyond their flaws.

  40. @Aaron
    I don’t remember any kind of grading. They indicated we should be able to do our height in the standign broad jump (which, as I said, we had zero training for), and we were doing it on pavement. But ti was still the era of daily PE classes with physical activity, so most of us were at least moving objects.

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