Pixel Scroll 2/5/24 To Boldly Scroll Where No Fan Has Scrolled Before

(1) MCCARTY Q&A. Chris Barkley’s audio interview with Dave McCarty was published here overnight: “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #81”. The audio recording is at Soundcloud. A transcript is here.

(2) SPARE CHANGE? The New Zealand Mint has a line of The Lord Of The Rings™ Collectible coins.

Set in the mythical world of Middle-earth, The Lord of The Rings fantasy saga follows hobbit Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee and a fellowship of characters as they embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring. Considered one of the greatest works of the 21st century, its popularity has spawned numerous adaptions.

Return to Middle-earth with our limited-edition THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ coins. Made from pure gold or silver, they feature characters and landscapes from the epic fantasy adventure films. Crafted in fine detail with themed packaging, they make the perfect memento for any fan!

Famed Middle-Earth locations feature in these gold coins.

And the silver series includes one with Gollum. Heads he wins, tails you lose!

(3) LEST GRIMDARKNESS FALL. [Item by Anne Marble.] Sebastian Milbank, in an article for the British magazine The Critic (called a “contrarian conservative magazine”) refers to “grimdark” as “Grimdull” — and seems to think they are both “liberal” and “leftist.” (Umm, those are not the same thing.) The article also flings darts at Michael Moorcock and Phillip Pullman. And it calls Breaking Bad grimdark?! Boy, does this article ever make a lot of assumptions about the writers (and readers) of grimdark! And it uses a lot of words in which to do so.

For those unblessed (or uncursed) with an interest in contemporary fantasy, the phrase “Grimdark” may suggest the name of some 2000s era Goth club. It’s a recent coinage for an ongoing craze in “gritty” and dark fantasy settings, epitomised and popularised by George RR Martin, becoming the default tone for a whole range of feted fantasy offerings from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series featuring a dark, brooding protagonist who kills a lot of people — and occasionally feels bad about it — to Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy featuring a dark, brooding protagonist who kills a lot of people — and occasionally feels bad about it.

It’s a genre with a number of consistent features. It’s generally in a mediaeval fantasy setting, but shorn of any romance. Characters are overwhelmingly cynical, and those few who exhibit nobility are treated as foolish or naive. Generally a chaotic war is happening, or about to happen. Religion features, but largely as a tool of social control, often portrayed (usually with some real effort given the baseline awfulness) as even more cruel and cynical than the secular world around it. Dark observations about human nature substitute for any moral drama, with characters seeking to outwit, manipulate or overpower one another in a kind of Darwinian struggle for dominance.

It’s a script born of vaguely liberal, vaguely radical, vaguely anarchic sentiments common to most contemporary creative “industries”. But fantasy, with its over escapism and heroic aristocratic setting, presents something of a problem. This is the inner tension of left wing fantasy — how can a genre defined by apparent escapism not end up serving reactionary ends?…

Grimdark author Joe Abercrombie has a very concise takedown:

(4) ALERT FOR CONVENTION EMAIL RUNNERS. Andrew Trembley shared this alert on Facebook.

For y’all running conventions and running convention email, if you haven’t set up SPF, DKIM and DMARC, you need to do it yesterday. If you’re reading this on Monday, February 5, literally yesterday, because today is the day Google and Yahoo started refusing mail from many email services that have failed to implement SPF, DKIM and DMARC.

(ETA long version, did not include in the share)

I’m seeing people saying “Google is starting to block more non-Gmail senders.” Now they’re right from the perspective they’re looking at this from, but they’re not seeing the whole picture.

It’s not non-Gmail senders. It’s also not just Gmail.

So what is happening? Bear with me, this is long…

(5) MARY SOON LEE Q&A. Space Cowboy Books hosts an “Online Reading and Interview with Mary Soon Lee” on Tuesday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free HERE.

How-to astronomy poetry to answer vexing questions such as How to Surprise Saturn, How to Blush Like Betelgeuse, and How to Survive a Black Hole.

“Unraveling meaning from partial glimpses of the universe has preoccupied astronomers for thousands of years. Mary Soon Lee’s remarkable collection of poetry traces this journey, capturing the wonder of the celestial bodies that comprise our universe, the elegance of the rules that guide its evolution and the humanity of those who search to better our understanding.” -Andy Connolly, Professor of Astronomy, University of Washington

Mary Soon Lee is a Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, and has won the Rhysling Award, the Elgin Award, and the AnLab Readers’ Award. Her work has appeared in Science, American Scholar, Spillway, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons. This is her second collection of science poetry, following on from Elemental Haiku: Poems to honor the periodic table three lines at a time. Born and raised in London, she now lives in Pittsburgh.

(6) FAN FALLOUT. The Seattle 2025 Worldcon committee answered a query on Facebook by saying that neither Dave McCarty nor anyone else from the Chengdu Worldcon team will be involved with their Hugo Awards.

(7) SALAM AWARD OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS. The Salam Award, which promotes imaginative fiction in and about Pakistan, reminds Pakistani writers they have until midnight July 31 to submit entries for the award. See full guidelines at this link. Participants must either be currently residing in Pakistan, or be of Pakistani birth/descent.

(8) DANISH COMPLETIST. “Modstand og håb” at Superkultur is written in Danish, however, Lise Andreasen has provided an English translation in the first comment.

Niels Dalgaard is a patient man – not only in his persistent attempt to collect all the science fiction that has been published in odd corners of the Danish publishing world, but more specifically in this case in his project: to read through the approximately 250 novels that has been published in Danish, which can be placed in the category “youth dystopias”….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 5, 1941 Stephen J. Cannell. I have come this Scroll to talk of not cabbages and kings but a man who as a mystery writer showed up regularly playing poker as himself in the Castle series with Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle — Stephen J. Cannell. James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Dennis Lehane were the other such writers here. I’ll talk about his work as a novelist later. 

Nathan Fillion as mystery writer Richard Castle, playing poker with real-life authors Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Stephen J Cannell.

The Zorro rip-off, scripted in its one season by him, The Night Rider, described by IMDB this way, “A refined New Orleans gentleman becomes a masked crimefighter by night, both to uphold law and order and to find the men who murdered his family in order to get their silver mine” is genre the same The Shadow or Doc Savage is in that it’s pulp.

Between that series and what I’m about to note next, scripting shows, the good, the bad and the truly awful made him very wealthy. So he got to produce a series that he said was one he’d to do a very long time ago — The Greatest American Hero.  You know the story of it so I want go into deep detail here, but suffice it to say that he was very happy with its success.

Veering way out of genre, I’m going to note he created Baa Baa Black Sheep (which was renamed Black Sheep Squadron for the second season for reasons unknown by the Powers That Be), a series I really liked.

I’ll note next 21 Jump Street which he created with Patrick Hasburgh which was about the cases of an undercover police unit composed of really great looking young officers specializing in youth crime. Definitely not genre, so why mention it? Because that featured Johnny Depp who would later do so many genre performances. And yes, he’d done one before this series as Greg Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

He loved making low budget horror films such as The Demon HunterThe Fairy and Left in Darkness. All shot on all cheap budgets (and this is after he became very wealthy), shot on locations you wouldn’t go without security in armor and shot fast enough you’d suspect use of interesting drugs to keep everyone alert, there’s more than makes sense of these in his IMDB listings. Stephen, you devil. Possibly literally.

Now about that poker game on Castle. All four of those players are there because they are mystery writers. Cannell wrote a series of novels about Shane Scully who was a detective in the LAPD force. I don’t know if they actually played poker in those scenes but I suspect they did. 

(10) SATISFIED FAN. Cora Buhlert heaps praise on a He-Man adaptation: “The Revolution Will Be Televised: Some Thoughts on Masters of the Universe Revolution”.

…So I watched Revelation and it turned out to be not just some nostalgic fun, but so much more. Here was the He-Man story I always wanted to see, a series which took the characters seriously in all their beautiful absurdity and found new depths in them and even managed to make me cry (something western animation in general very rarely does – crying is for anime), while also harkening back to the early 20th SFF which had inspired Masters of the Universe in the first place. Plus, the animation was gorgeous and finally looked as good as the Filmation cartoon looked in my memory, but never in reality, and the voice cast was stellar….

(11) GROUNDHOG DAY CAST REUNION. “Bill Murray celebrates ‘Harold Ramis Day’ Groundhog Day” at CBS Chicago.

This Groundhog Day, Woodstock Willie did not see his shadow — and thus said we should expect an early spring this year.

But at a ceremony in Chicago on Friday, a groundhog named Chicago Harry did not agree.

But first off, why is there a groundhog prognosticating on the trajectory of winter in Woodstock, Illinois? The answer, of course, is that in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day,” Woodstock stood in for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — home of Groundhog Day celebrations since the 1880s.

Ever since the movie came out 31 years ago, Woodstock Willie has been up there with Punxsutawney Phil in the real Punxsutawney among large-rodent long-range winter forecasters.

Members of the cast of the iconic film reunited for the first time at Navy Pier Friday, marking 31 years since the film was released. But Friday was also about honoring Harold Ramis and commemorating 10 years since his death….

…”I think it’s great that we’re here and, I don’t want to be too Irish, but it’s very nice of Harold to make it a very nice, mild day for today,” Murray said. “He’s up there stirring the clouds around, making that low pressure move out to Indiana and just drenching, ruining those people’s lives over there in Indiana.”

Ramis’ wife, Erica, was in attendance, beaming with pride as many spoke wonders about her husband. She even read a letter from former President Barack Obama encouraging people to enjoy the day as Ramis would. 

The ceremony included re-enactments of Punxsutawney festival emcee Buster Green (Brian Doyle-Murray) knocking at the tree stump with his cane, where a groundhog named Chicago Harry made his prediction.

Ken Hudson Campbell (“man in hallway”), Robin Duke (Doris the waitress), Marita Geraghty (Nancy Taylor), Richard Henzel (the DJ), Don Rio McNichols (drum player), David Pasquesi (the psychiatrist), and Peggy Roeder (the piano teacher) were also in attendance.

And unlike Woodstock Willie, and Punxsutawney Phil, Chicago Harry saw his shadow — and predicted six more weeks of winter after all.

(12) GOING ROGUE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Just learned that the 2000AD strip Rogue Trooper film is at last moving forward. Director Duncan (Moon, Source Code) Jones teased about this back in 2018 and it now looks like a cast is being pulled together. “Duncan Jones’ Rogue Trooper Movie Cast Announced, Including Hayley Atwell, Sean Bean, and Matt Berry” at IGN.

The cast for Rogue Trooper, the upcoming movie from Moon and Warcraft director Duncan Jones, has been announced. The animated adaptation of the classic 2000 AD comic will be headlined by Aneurin Barnard, Hayley Atwell, and Jack Lowden, and will also feature a number of other well-known British stars such as Sean Bean.

Aneurin Barnard, who previously starred in The Goldfinch and Dunkirk, plays the titular Rogue Trooper, a blue-skinned, genetically-engineered soldier fighting on the toxic battlefields of a seemingly never-ending war. The sole survivor of a massacre that killed his squadmates, he’s on the hunt for the traitor that arranged their deaths. He does this with the aid of three of his killed-in-action squadmates, whose digital personalities still remain conscious after death and are uploaded into Rogue’s gun, helmet, and backpack….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Science Futurism with Isaac Arthur this week took a look at Death Worlds. These are planets on which, once you land, they set out to kill you.  Unlike most of Isaac Arthur’s episodes (other than his monthly ‘Sci-Fi Sundays’) which have a (highly speculative) science take, this one has as much a science fictional approach, starting as it does with the legendary Harry Harrison’s DeathWorld series of the 1960s. Along the way, he gives us a number of SFnal examples… So, pour a mug of builders and sit back for a half-hour episode (it won’t kill you)…

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

40 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/5/24 To Boldly Scroll Where No Fan Has Scrolled Before

  1. (3) Grimdark, liberal, and leftist? And he in the UK should know better. Oh, right, it’s not Real Literature, so let’s just trash it.
    I’m not interested in it, but really? (And I am a leftist, not a liberal, ObInclude Phil Och’s “Love Me, I’m A Liberal”.)
    (4) This means everybody. Since my email seems to be getting through, I assume I don’t have to talk to my hosting provider, HostMonster (a VERY large hosting provider).
    (8) I assume that, on general principles, he has a Danish translation of Three Hearts and Three Lions…
    (13) Death worlds… I am, of course, reminded of Trenco, the only source of thionite.

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a way for my publisher to get an ARC to Lisa Tuttle, if she’s still reviewing for the Guardian, and would appreciate any help.

  2. (3) Grimdark, liberal, and leftist? And he in the UK should know better. Oh, right, it’s not Real Literature, so let’s just trash it.
    I’m not interested in it, but really? (And I am a leftist, not a liberal, ObInclude Phil Och’s “Love Me, I’m A Liberal”.)

  3. (4) This means everybody. Since my email seems to be getting through, I assume I don’t have to talk to my hosting provider.
    It’s only letting me post short posts.
    (8) I assume that, on general principles, he has a Danish translation of Three Hearts and Three Lions.

  4. (3) That Breitbart article was also… made of words. A lot of them.

    (9) Wow, so many great shows. And some forgotten ones. One of my favorite forgotten Stephen J. Cannell series was “Unsub.” It was a precursor to forensic series like “CSI” and “Criminal Minds” — but lighter. (IIRC one of the investigators managed a comic relief screw-up in each episode — and I don’t think that helped the show.)

    My other favorite was “Missing Persons” with Daniel J. Travanti. This one was known for using Chicago-based actors. I’m sure I saw one of the supporting actors from “The Fugitive” movie as a random person on a train with just a couple of lines, but I can’t remember which one. The TV show and the movie came out in the same year, and parts of “The Fugitive” were filmed in Chicago, so it fits.

  5. (3) I would not call grimdark either liberal or leftist. Not sure I’d ascribe any other consistent real-world political views to it, either.

    But describing it as pointless nihilism? I’m totally down with that.

    (I’m fine with people enjoying whatever they enjoy. This bit of our literary world I’d a definite No Sale for me, though, as I value the few threads of mental stability I possess.)

    (2) Those coins look very nice.

  6. (2) Literally the precious (metals).

    (3) Much of the grimdark I’ve seen isn’t medieval. It’s not at all to my taste, but I don’t think it’s going to plunge all things into war. There’s some pretty depressing, dark and grim stuff in JRRT’s work too.

    (9) I liked most of the TV shows he did (including the gone-too-soon “Tenspeed and Brownshoe”), and also bought all the books. Agree with @Anne about UNSUB — it was ahead of its time. I got to meet him once and he was just that nice and cool. Sorely missed. Still have his autograph.

    (12) Gosh, that looks grimdark. And it’s even British and not medieval! Milbank must be clutching his pearls!

  7. Thanks for the transcript of the McCarty interview and thanks to Chris Barkley for conducting it. McCarty seems determined to keep digging.

  8. 4) Nice warning for con-runners, but . . . does this affect individual accounts? Are there buttons I should push or clicks to clickify for my personal email? (For reasons of being able to send email, because I already receive more frakkin’ emails than I want to every morning, even after almost all the spam is filtered out.)

    Since Tremblay notes this requirement is something being pressured by Google and Yahoo, I wonder if this might be why my secondary email account at cox.net (included in my cable/phone/internet subscription), recently posted a message that it will be converting to a Yahoo account soon.

    Which is an extra level of annoyance in itself, because that cox.net account is my “rescue email”, in case I’m unable to access Yahoo for some reason or other. Any recs for a decent email provider to use for a rescue email?

    #####

    A brief, mild recommendation for a recent Hallmark Channel movie, PAGING MR. DARCY. Set at a Jane Austen Lovers Association conference, our heroine is a very serious, straight-laced, no-fun Austen scholar invited to be keynote speaker. Who not only finds that the convention is a lot looser than she hoped for, with people dressing up as Austen characters and . . . ohmigod! . . . enjoying themselves. A lot of the happenings at the JALA conference reminded me of things that happen/have happened at SF conventions.

    PLUS when Eloise first arrives at the airport, she’s greeted by the convention’s “Official Mr. Darby”, tall, dark and fitting those tight breeches very, very nicely . . . and of course manages to make their relationship antagonistic in less than a minute.

    It’s a Hallmark romance movie, so you know there’ll be little if any violence or bloodshed, you know all the problems will be solved, miscommunications straightened out, and you know the main character will have an epiphany and become a happier person before the credits roll.

    But I found it charming and enjoyable. I think this falls into the category of “comfort watch”, so if that’s something you need some night, PAGING MR. DARCY might be a good choice.

    For the month of February, Hallmark Channel is putting out four tv movies inspired by or based on Jane Austen’s works. PAGING MR. DARCY was the first. The next two may be of genre interest: LOVE & JANE (Jane Austen appears in the present day to give guidance to a romantically awkward woman) comes out 2/10; AN AMERICAN IN AUSTEN (A hard-line Mr. Darcy fan is transported into the world of Pride & Prejudice) on 2/17. And on 2/24 will be a straightforward adaptation of SENSE & SENSIBILITY.

  9. There’s some pretty depressing, dark and grim stuff in JRRT’s work too.

    Children of Hurin. Shudder.

  10. (1) What struck me here is how politically hapless McCarthy seems with his understanding basically at the level of “We’re ‘rugged individualists’, they’re not”. Did he not think to contact at some point the thousands upon thousands of academics, artists, business people etc who have organised all kinds of events in China and who might have had some useful tips and insights into how to navigate ‘local laws’?

  11. @Bruce Arthurs I shall check it out, thank you.

    @anyone who’s interested

    Finished The Princes in the Tower, Spoiler Warning, Richard III did it.

    More seriously, Weir wrote before Richard’s body was found so her speculation about possible deformity or not can and should be ignored. We have the skeleton now, he had scoliosis.

    Beyond that note, she chronicles from the marriage of Edward IV to the rise of Henry VII relying mostly on a history written by Thomas More and cooperating it later archeological discoveries. Specifically she lays out a timeime offering names and dates for Richard’s order, the retainer who carries the order, and the names of two people who carried out the murder. The first two seem to hold up, the latter is too speculative for my tastes.

    She also speculates a lot about motives and personalities but the actual history is solid. I’d recommend this only as a supplement to other books about Richard or the Yorkists not as your main source, no matter how accessible Weir’s popular history style happens to be.

  12. (5) Panix alerted me to the authentication problem and gave me a lot of help setting up the necessary DNS records so the MASSFILC mailing lists will keep reaching their subscribers.

  13. (8) I assume that, on general principles, he has a Danish translation of Three Hearts and Three Lions…

    Has it actually been translated into Danish? It sounds like it should have. On the other hand, the cringe value might be off the scale.

  14. @Bruce – It looks like this only applies if you send more than 5000 emails a day to Gmail or Yahoo recipients. You should be fine (as should the vast majority of individuals).

  15. 11) The Groundhog Day celebration in Chicago took place about 3/4 mile from the hotel where Capricon was taking place. I know that at least one Capricon attendee walked out onto Navy Pier to see the event.

  16. Meredith wrote: “@Bruce – It looks like this only applies if you send more than 5000 emails a day to Gmail or Yahoo recipients. You should be fine (as should the vast majority of individuals).”

    If I ever send 5000 emails to anyone, for any purpose, someone please gently pry my hands away from the keyboard and walk me outside to touch grass.

  17. Bruce Arthurs says If I ever send 5000 emails to anyone, for any purpose, someone please gently pry my hands away from the keyboard and walk me outside to touch grass.

    That’s not to a single person, but collectively sent. I’d say it’s aimed to cut down on spammers more than anything else.

  18. @madame Hary
    One of my favorites: detective detectiving while stuck in a hospital bed. (One of her others involves, the city of Wabar, which was found by a pilot. I have a newspaper clipping in it, telling about the finding of Wabar, by an airplane pilot…

  19. What is the technical term for “gods get strength & power from human belief, as in Pratchett’s Small Gods”?

    I’m asking because, as I’m putting together my written-in-2023 longlist I notice that at least 2 works (series) on it include small gods, and possibly a third:

    Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Tyrant Philosophers series (City of Last Chances & House of Open Wounds, so far) has classically Pratchettian small gods
    Hannah Kaner’s Fallen Gods series (Godkiller, so far) has an interestingly novel approach to small god, their powers & goals
    Daniel Abraham’s Kithamar series (Age of Ash & Blade of Dream, so far) I think is including small god elements, to be more thoroughly developed in book 3

    I think it’s interesting that 3 series are exploring this trope at the same time. I don’t think they’re really in conversation with each other, at least not yet, but it’s coming out of something. Zeitgeist? Coincidence? The Pratchett-shaped hole in our lives?

  20. Pingback: Return of the Son of the Bride of the Grimdark Debate | Cora Buhlert

  21. Doctor Science on February 6, 2024 at 7:05 pm said:
    Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Tyrant Philosophers series (City of Last Chances & House of Open Wounds, so far) has classically Pratchettian small gods
    Hannah Kaner’s Fallen Gods series (Godkiller, so far) has an interestingly novel approach to small god, their powers & goals
    Daniel Abraham’s Kithamar series (Age of Ash & Blade of Dream, so far) I think is including small god elements, to be more thoroughly developed in book 3

    I haven’t read Shigidi and The Brass Head of Obalufon by Wole Talabi yet but from the blurb I think there is some overlap there also

  22. Ad (4): Yes, it says deep down that the DKIM/DMARC limitations should concern only over 5000 mails/day.

    However, a society I’m in that sends out a newsletter less than monthly to a couple hundred addresses, admittedly from a very poorly configured and maintained server (by a member, for free, of course), started getting them returned undelivered from Gmail some time in the autumn when they rolled out the first phase, so I would not be surprised at all if this brought further complications to someone.

  23. Gods needing believers is the essence of Ellison’s Deathbird Stories. It also shows up in Fritz Leiber’s story “Smoke Ghost” and probably other places.

  24. I seem to recall “Gods need prayer badly” being an important plot point in A. E. van Vogt’s The Book of Ptath, which dates to 1943, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t new then.

  25. The Craft Sequence has Gods taking power from prayer, too. It’s a big part of the economics.

  26. Gaiman’s Anerican Gods has this pretty core to the story

    Scalzi’s The God Engines novella is a great take on the trope, and interestingly darker than most of his writing

  27. Gods getting power from believers (and losing power when it become rote prayers and rituals) is also in “The Raven Tower” by Leckie.

  28. I think maybe the theme came from Lord Dunsany’s Chu-bu and Sheemish; while it’s not explicit that worship conveys power to the gods, it does describe two little gods wonderfully and depicts one as falling and becoming powerless when forgotten. It’s also very funny.

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