Pixel Scroll 2/9/19 Long Thoughtful Commentses Wrapped Up In Sings, These Are A Few Of My Scrolliest Things

(1) SCIENCE IS A MOVING TARGET. James S.A. Corey thought they had the science right but a NASA spacecraft proved them gloriously wrong. National Geographic got the creators of The Expanse to write Dawn a fan letter — “Dear Dawn: How a NASA robot messed up our science fiction”.

Dear Dawn:

Did we do something to piss you off? Because to tell you the truth, your attacks on our books seemed kind of personal.

In 2011, we came out with a science-fiction novel called Leviathan Wakes that featured a big plotline on the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. In particular, we imagined a hard, nickel-iron Ceres with a population of millions thirsty for water harvested from the rings of Saturn. We did pretty well with the story; it got a Hugo nomination, and the publisher bought some follow-ups.

Four years later, we were launching a television show based on the book, starring the embattled crew of an ice hauler trying to keep Ceres Station hydrated. That was 2015—the same time you became the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet. And as we gathered in the writer’s room and on set, what did you tell us? Ceres has water. Lots of it. Not only that, you found large deposits of sodium carbonate on Ceres’s surface, which doesn’t sound that impressive until you realize it’s evidence of ice volcanoes. Seriously. Ice volcanoes….

(2) WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN THE DEAL. SF author Ramez Naam (Nexus series) is  a “futurologist” as well, and he just wrote an excellent extended tweet about the Green New Deal and how it might be better. Thread begins here.

(3) ENTERPRISE. “Jeff Bezos, long known for guarding his privacy, faces his most public and personal crisis” is an article by Craig Timberg, Peter Whoriskey, Christian Davenport, and Elizabeth Dwoskin in the Washington Post about how Jeff Bezos broke his long-standing efforts to remain as private as possible in his battle against the National Enquirer. Not the most titillating part of the story, but there is a sci-fi reference in it —

in the early 2000s, Bezos started quietly acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres in West Texas, where Blue Origin now launches its New Shepard rocket.  He purchased the land under corporate entities named for explorers.  Thee was Joliet Holdings and Cabot Enterprises, the James Cook and William Clark Limited Partnerships and Coronado Ventures.

All were linked to a firm with a Seattle post office called Zefram LLC, namedafter Zefram Cochrane, a character in the Star Trek franchise.

(4) WISHING HIM A RAPID RECOVERY. Apex Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore wrote about the burdensome and painful health problems he’s been coping with in his February editorial.

…One of the diagnostics for stroke the doctor ran on me at the emergency room was a CT scan. He said, “Good news, I’m confident you are not having a stroke. But … some bad news, your scan shows a sizable lesion on the front of your mandible.“

(5) CROSS-GENRES. Vicki Who Reads picks out eight niche favorites in “Fantasci Book Recs: Books In Between Science Fiction and Fantasy!”

I love fantasy and I love science-fiction (though, sci-fi a little more than fantasy). And I think it’s really interesting when authors sort of combine the two–mixing sci-fi and fantasy (and ends up just being labeled under fantasy, typically).

But this leads to the creation of the fun, intermediate genre (at least, that’s what it is in my mind), fantasci. The intersection of science-fiction and fantasy where it’s not magic, but it’s not science either….

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

This book is so darn underappreciated, and it deserves ALL the love! I was sucked into the story and had such a hard time stopping, and then the ending completely wrecked me.

Like . . . is it legal to inflict these types of emotions upon me? Idk, but this book had me CRYING late at night as I read a bout [redacted]. And it’s a sort of space fantasy that’s based on Indian mythology and has me swooning.

Gosh. My heart still hurts and I need the sequel ASAP. If this book isn’t on your TBR, you’re doing something wrong because it is AMAZING and the ending is so horrible (for my heart) but so worth it.

You can read my review here!

(6) ACADEMY FOR WAYWARD WRITERS. Cat Rambo livetweeted highlights from Rachel Swirsky’s “Detail and Image” online writing class today. The thread is here.

(7) WORLDCON REUNION. Kees van Toorn, Chairman ConFiction1990, today announced plans for Reunicon 2020:  

It all started with a phone call from a fan in New York way back in 1984. Then it took three years of bidding to win the race in Brighton in 1987. Another three long years to make ConFiction1990 a fact in The Hague, the first true World Science Fiction Convention on the continent of Europe. We are still creating a website and social media avenues to preserve the past for the future and… to promote our intended Reunicon 2020 to commemorate 30 years after ConFiction 1990. We look forward hearing from you or seeing you in 2020 in The Hague.

(8) PLEASE BE SEATED. ThinkGeek s offering a Star Trek TOS 1:6 Scale Captain’s Chair FX Replica for $59.99.


Is that the ship intercom, or the self-destruct button? You better read up on your engineering schematics before sitting in a captain’s chair, or your tenure will be shorter than Spock’s patience for illogical behavior.  
Quantum Mechanix has created an extremely detailed FX replica of the most important part of the original USS Enterprise: the captain’s chair. This 1/6 scale replica doesn’t just look good – it also lights up and makes sounds. Powered by either three AA batteries or a mini-USB plug (not included), this captain’s chair replica has four different light and sound settings including: standard bridge operations, ship-wide announcement, viewscreen scanning, and of course, red alert.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 9, 1863 Anthony Hope. He is remembered predominantly for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau. Well so says Wiki but I never heard of the latter novel. Any of you heard of It? The Prisoner of Zenda was filmed in 1936 with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the lead role. (Died 1933.)
  • Born February 9, 1877George Allan England. His short story, “The Thing from—’Outside'”, which had originally appeared in Gernsback’s Science and Invention, was reprinted in the first issue of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories, in April 1926. Unfortunately, his later Darkness and Dawn trilogy is marked by overt racism as later critics note. (Died 1936.)
  • Born February 9, 1928Frank Frazetta. Artist whose illustrations showed up damn near everywhere from LP covers to book covers and posters. Among the covers he were Tarzan and the Lost EmpireConan the Adventurer (L. Sprague de Camp stories in that setting) and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. He did over-muscled barbarians very well! Oh and he also helped Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on three stories of the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy. Just saying. In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice. He provided the poster for it as he did for Mad Monster Party and The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, two other genre films. He was inducted into both Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 9, 1953 Ciaran Hinds, 66. I can’t picture him but he’s listed as being King Lot in Excalibur, that being being his credited his genre role. He next shows up in Mary Reilly, a riff off the Hyde theme, as Sir Danvers Care. I’ve next got him in Jason and the Argonauts as King Aeson followed by being in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life as Jonathan Reiss. (Yes I like those films.) before being replaced in the next film, he played Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Two final roles worth noting. he played The Devil in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Steppenwolf In Justice League.
  • Born February 9, 1956Timothy Truman, 63. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2.  For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked… 
  • Born February 9, 1981 Tom Hiddleston, 38. Loki in the Marvel film universe. And a more charming bastard of a god has never been conceptualised by screenwriters. Outside of the MCU, I see he shows up in Kong: Skull Island as Captain James Conrad and The Pirate Fairy as the voice of James Hook as well in a vampire film called Only Lovers Left Alive as Adam. 


  • In the world of Brewster Rockit, some newspaper columns are very easy to write.

(11) IN RE VERSE. A star of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (labeled on Wikipedia as a “actor, singer, dancer, and rapper”) told The Hollywood Reporter he hopes to write a song for the sequel (“‘Spider-Verse’ Star Shameik Moore Hopes to Record a Song for the Movie’s Sequel”). The interview also ranges into Moore’s other genre interests. It turns out he’s a fan of the Harry Potter movies.

The Hollywood Reporter: The Spider-Verse soundtrack had a few hits, including Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower.” Have you pitched yourself to do a track for the Spider-Verse sequel?

Shameik Moore: They were asking me to make a song for Spider-Man before any of the songs on the soundtrack were even being considered. The only reason I am not on the soundtrack is because I couldn’t quite come up with a song myself to write from Miles’ point of view. So next time, hopefully. The music that I’ve been making is for me. It’s not really for Spider-Man. It’s for who I am. My music is a bit edgier.

(12) THE GREAT SKY ROAD. Andrew Porter sent screenshots of some flights of fancy seen on the February 4 episode of Antiques Roadshow.

(13) LOCUS LIST CONSIDERED. Adri Joy and Joe Sherry have actually read a lot of these books so their discussion of what did and did not make the list is quite substantial: “Adri and Joe Talk About Books: Locus Recommended Reading List” at Nerds of a Feather.

…What did you expect, or want, to see here that isn’t?

Joe: The first thing I specifically looked for was Matt Wallace’s final Sin du Jour novella Taste of Wrath. I’m not entirely surprised it didn’t make the list simply because I’m not sure it’s received a fraction of the attention and love that the series deserved. I passionately and sometimes aggressively love those stories and it has been a perpetual disappointment to me that they haven’t been nominated for everything they are eligible for and even for some things they aren’t. I’m holding out for a Best Series Hugo nod, but maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.

The second thing i looked for, and this was mostly out of curiosity, was whether anything from Serial Box made the cut. Nothing did. Because I’m that sort of wonk, I did a super quick check of previous years and the first season Tremontaine made the list. I’m not surprised by that either, because Tremontaine is an expansion of the Swordspoint world and I would expect to see Locus recognize Ellen Kushner. I do wonder if next year we’ll see recognition for The Vela or Ninth Step Station. Both seem like something that might get some extra attention, eyeballs, and acclaim.

(14) LOOK FOR THE BEAR NECESSITIES. BBC reports “Russia islands emergency over polar bear ‘invasion'”. They must be running out of Coca-Cola.

A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.

Polar bears are affected by climate change and are increasingly forced on to land to look for food.

Russia classes them as endangered.

Hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them.

(15) SLIP-AH-DEE-DOO-DAH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 2017? No way. 2018? Um, negatory. January 2019? Nope. February? Nope, nope, nope. March? Well, maybe. SpaceX has announced another slip (albeit a modest one) in the schedule for the first (un-crewed) launch of the to-be-crewed version of the Dragon capsule (ExtremeTech: “SpaceX Pushes Crewed Dragon Test Back to March 2”). Boeing is aiming for April for Starliner—their competing capsule—to have its first launch.

NASA kicked off the Commercial Crew Development Program in 2010 to support the development of new crewed spacecraft. Here we are, almost a decade into the program and on the verge of a manned launch. It’s taken a long time to get here, and it may be a little longer still. SpaceX has announced yet another delay in its Dragon 2 test flight, which was supposed to take place this month. 

The precise date has slipped numerous times, and this is after ample delays in earlier phases of the program. We’re in the home stretch now, so each change in the schedule is that much more frustrating. SpaceX initially wanted to conduct the first test launch of its crewed Dragon capsule in 2017. Then the timeline slipped to 2018, and then it was late 2018. More recently, SpaceX promised a January 2019 launch… and then it decided February was more likely. You can probably blame the government shutdown for that one. Now, we’re looking at March 2, according to SpaceX. 

(16) ROLE PLAYING. Last summer Simon Pegg talked about characters he’s played – including one that was a bit autobiographical.

Simon Pegg breaks down his favorite and most iconic characters, including Tim from “Spaced,” Shaun from “Shaun of the Dead,” Nicholas Angel from “Hot Fuzz,” Gary King from “The World’s End,” Scotty in “Star Trek,” Unkar Plutt in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and Benji Dunn in the “Mission: Impossible” movies.

(17) CAN A BOT BE AN INK-STAINED WRETCH? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This story has a personal edge for me as I encounter robot-written stories quite often when using MaxPreps to catch up on various high school sporting events. (Though, those particular stories are obvoiusly written by an Artificial Stupidity.) Forbes, which has dipped a toe in AI journalism itself, takes a look at the growing phenomenon (“Did A Robot Write This? How AI Is Impacting Journalism”).

How do you know I am really a human writing this article and not a robot?  Several major publications are picking up machine learning tools for content. So, what does artificial intelligence mean for the future of journalists?

According to Matt Carlson, author of “The Robotic Reporter”, the algorithm converts data into narrative news text in real-time.

Many of these being financially focused news stories since the data is calculated and released frequently. Which is why should be no surprise that Bloomberg news is one of the first adaptors of this automated content. Their program, Cyborg, churned out thousands of articles last year that took financial reports and turned them into news stories like a business reporter.

Forbes also uses an AI took called Bertie to assist in providing reporters with first drafts and templates for news stories.

(18) UNHEARD OF. Part of the experiment has failed says Gizmodo: “Small Satellites That Accompanied InSight Lander to Mars Go Silent”.

A pair of small satellites that joined the InSight mission on its way to Mars haven’t been heard from in over a month—but the experimental mission is still an important success for NASA.

Mars Cube One, or MarCO, consisted of two 30-pound satellites named WALL-E and EVE. The relatively inexpensive satellites were the first time that CubeSats had entered the space between planets. The mission could foretell a future of spacecraft bringing more CubeSats with them in the future. 

[…] NASA lost contact with WALL-E on December 29 and with EVE on January 4. It’s possible that the probes’ antennae aren’t pointed at Earth properly, or that their solar panels aren’t pointed at the Sun and their batteries died, according to the press release.

(19) I CAN HELP. A little bit of sibling rivalry in Washington state:

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Greg Hullender, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

51 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/9/19 Long Thoughtful Commentses Wrapped Up In Sings, These Are A Few Of My Scrolliest Things

  1. I’ve not only heard of Rupert of Hentzau, I’ve even read it. Although I don’t remember much about it, except that I found it a bit dull. As with most books of the period, it’s available on Gutenberg.

  2. 9) Ciaran Hinds also played Lord Franklin in the AMC production of The Terror (after the Dan Simmons book). I mostly recognize him as Gaius Julius Caesar from HBO’s Rome (which in many ways was a precursor to Game of Thrones); and speaking of GoT, he also played Mance Rayder.

  3. I liked Rupert of Hentzau, which came in a paperback that reprinted both the Zenda books under one cover (but not inverted from one another), though it made me a little sad for a reason I won’t recount for spoily reasons. Really, I wouldn’t mind if, one of these times, instead of remaking PRISONER, somebody tried their hand at the second part of the story.

    …And beam away
    On the Star Ship Lollipop!

  4. BTW, it has been known for several decades that Ceres is a “type c” asteroid–meaning similar to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites and not a solid lump of nicklel-iron. The spectra of water has been seen since at least 1977. This isn’t a matter of new science invalidating a story element–it is a pair of writers who didn’t know what the hell they were writing about.

  5. Um. So.

    I guess it’s not true that everyone spent years watching old movies on late night tv till signoff, including The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau?


    Well, I guess not. Even aside from both late night movies and station signoff not having been a thing for decades, it’s possible our family was a little odd.

  6. Of course I’ve heard of Rupert of Hentzau.
    As Joe H says, Ciaran Hinds was Julius Caesar in “Rome”. He’s tall (for an actor) with dark hair and very expressive dark eyes. Got a bit solid since he hit middle age, and is just as good on stage as TV and films. Turns up in surprising places, such as the movie of “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”.

  7. (19)
    What would you think if I blew up my top
    Would you stand up and run far from me?
    Lend me your lava and I’ll erupt less explosively.
    Oh I explode with a little help from my friend
    Mmm I’ll fry you with a little help from my friend.

  8. 9) Yes, I did read Rupert of Henzau and can’t remember much of it other than I didn’t like it as much as the first and never re-read it

  9. Msb: How I love Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day!

    Carnestros: Excellent! (I don’t like “explode” just a couple words away from “explosively,” but I can’t think of anything but “go off,” which I’m not crazy about, either.)

  10. 9) Tim Truman: I would suggest the important other work to consider is Scout about an Apache shaman in a post collapse North America.
    He even produced a quite good soundtrack album, which I no longer have the means to play.

  11. Ciaran Hinds also starred with (the late) Albert Finney in the Cold Lazarus mini-series. (Well, I suppose, technically, he mostly starred with a frozen head modelled on Finney. But it still counts.)

  12. Ciaran Hinds was Capt. Wentworth in the excellent 1995 film of Persuasion, a favourite of mine.

  13. 4) Hope Jason gets better soon

    Ciarian Hinds was also in JOHN CARTER as Dejah’s father. Funny, also from Rome in John Carter is James Purefoy (who played Marc Anthony), so seeing Ciaran and James act together is a bit of a Rome reunion within John Carter.

    @Lis Channel 11 and Channel 9 in NYC were *great* for old movies…

  14. @Paul–I really think that young people really are missing out, in not having something that steers them toward earlier generations’ best movies, flavored with the admittedly somewhat artificial thrill of sneaking downstairs or finding the exact sound level that was loud enough but didn’t alert the parents.

    And really, there’s true educational value in seeing, for instance, The Women (1939) and The Opposite Sex (1956), or The Philadelphia Story (1940) and High Society (1956). The changes from just prewar to mid-1950s is really interesting. So is seeing how women were presented in the 1930s compared to postwar.

    Imagine what you could do now, with another century of filmmaking and social change to draw on for this Totally Not An Educational Program programming, if you had a captive audience watching it voluntarily instead of sleeping! With the thrill of the forbidden!

    Even better if it’s one of the few things you bond with your extremely annoying sibling over, but maybe that’s just me.

  15. (7) I recall the 1990 Worldcon with affection, less so the idiot on the dealers’ room team who ignored my and Martin Tudor’s instructions to have the remaining stock of Critical Wave ready for us to collect the following morning and sent it to a warehouse in the middle of the Dutch countryside. We almost missed the return ferry as a result, and had to argue our way through UK Customs without any paperwork (the clown had filed those at yet another, unknown location).

    (8) Great if you happen to be a 1:6 scale captain, I guess.

  16. Speaking of John Carter, it kind of blew my mind when I realized that the guy playing Edgar Rice Burroughs, Daryl Sabara, had been Juni Cortez in the Spy Kids films.

    (In much the same way that young Tim from Jurassic Park later grew up and went on to play bass in Queen in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.)

  17. Thanks for the laugh NASA and the esteemed authors of the Expanse. I love that series.

  18. I’m just waiting for them to find that asteroid of pure thorium, and return it to Earth orbit by using the asteroid’s own substance to set off a series of controlled nuclear explosions.

  19. Joe H.: Speaking of John Carter, it kind of blew my mind when I realized that the guy playing Edgar Rice Burroughs, Daryl Sabara, had been Juni Cortez in the Spy Kids films. (In much the same way that young Tim from Jurassic Park later grew up and went on to play bass in Queen in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.)

    My moment like that was discovering, years after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had wrapped, that Eddington had been played by Prince Colwyn from Krull.

  20. @1 aw. I wonder whether there’s another asteroid (e.g. Vespa) that would work. And I like the spirit in that letter.

    @2 brings up the eternal debate on political effectiveness: do you get more results by rallying your base/extreme or by building bridges? Recent history suggests the first is more effective for Republicans and the second for Democrats, but the lefter left was still arguing (when I last looked) that the left equivalent of Trumpismo (or whatever the older versions were) has never been properly tried. I’m not sure I would stick with such an approach; I’ve always had a poor relationship with you-gotta-be-a-part-of-this movements, from school spirit onwards. OTOH, the Republicans have built so much on the climate-change-is-a-hoax scaffolding that I’m not sure a bridge would connect.

    @3: cute. Somebody could have twigged (as the press did when Disney pronounced “Kissimmee” correctly), but they would have had to remember more of school than many USians.

    @7: ConFiction was good (and I wasn’t in fandom in 1970 so I don’t have a comparison) but I would like to hear his justification for dismissing the Worldcon true-ness of Heicon; it was certainly comparable in size given the times, and was the first in which there was an official language other than English.

    @9: I’ve also heard of Rupert of Hentzau; never read either. Not sure I want to, as the original idea may have been done better since and I have limited tolerance for 19th-century florid prose.

    @9 typo: “being being his credited his” s/b “being his first credited”

    @15: that’s a cruel header, bringing to mind a Conjugation: “I slip, you are late, they miss deadlines.”

    @Lis: TV wasn’t the only source; my family didn’t do late nights, but ~45 years ago a theater shoehorned into the office building catty-corner from the Park Plaza (Arisia’s long-time and latest hotel) that offered double bills (3 different programs a week!) at 20 for $20. Back when there was no cable and not much range in UHF, and a VTR (no cassettes yet) cost about a quarter of the price of a decent small car and single first-run shows were ~$2.50, that was huge, even if they didn’t do the interesting-sounding kind of compare&contrast programing you suggest. I don’t know whether the forbidden thrill you cite would draw against short attention spans — but I also don’t know how much of this is available freely or cheaply on the net, with huge numbers of pointers to it.

    @Steve Green: why was this the responsibility of someone working in Dealers? Having done both sides at Scottish Worldcons, my answer to you at the end of the con might have been unprintable.

  21. (7) I attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Heidelberg in 1970. It sure felt like a true Worldon, with guests of honor, Hugos, programming, and even some loud controversy. At the time, Heidelberg was on the continent of Europe. Am I missing something?

  22. Tom Hiddleston is one of those classical stage actors who has become what we used to call a matinee idol. When we went to the NT Live showing of Coriolanus, the house was full of young women who squee’d when he appeared. Cumberbatch didn’t get that response when we saw the NTL Hamlet. (We were tickled to see both guys, but we’re not of the squee-ing generation. Hiddleston’s Coriolanus, by the way, is terrific, as is his Hal/Henry V in The Hollow Crown.)

  23. I started reading Rupert of Hentzau, but didn’t finish it — but I might someday, so don’t count me, or the book, out. The book’s title recognizes that the most interesting character in The Prisoner of Zenda is the villain.

  24. @Chip Hitchcock do you get more results by rallying your base/extreme or by building bridges?

    The practical if unpopular answer is that you need both: radicals to set the initial position and keep the pressure on and moderates to do the negotiating. Unless the opposition’s already collapsed, anyway.

  25. @Chip — 6062 Vespa is a carbonaceous asteroid. 4 Vesta is rocky. For a big metallic asteroid, I’d go for 16 Psyche. (NASA is planning on visiting Psyche in 2026.)

  26. Chip Hitchcock on February 10, 2019 at 7:10 am said:

    @1 aw. I wonder whether there’s another asteroid (e.g. Vespa) that would work. And I like the spirit in that letter.

    I haven’t done the full calculations, but Vesta has a similar surface gravity to Ceres (around 0.0224 g as opposed to around 0.0275 g) but has around 0.555 the diameter, which means that Vesta would have to be whipping around even faster than Ceres to get 0.3 g simulated.

  27. @sophie jane: “The practical if unpopular answer is that you need both: radicals to set the initial position and keep the pressure on and moderates to do the negotiating.”

    This is why I’m optimistic right now about the United States: It’s the first time in decades I’ve seen a big inside-outside approach from the left, I guess not since the ACT-UP days.

  28. I was at the 1990 Worldcon (the third I’d attended, although I’d been a member of every one from 1984 onward), but was rather preoccupied as being one of the six members of the San Francisco in ’93 bid committee participating in an intensely hard fought four-way race to host the 1993 Worldcon. Among my memories was taking a couple hundred guilders (pre-Euro, remember) of Site Selection’s money down to the casino in our hotel and changing them into ƒ1 coins (about the size and relative purchasing power of a US quarter at the time) to carry back to the convention.

    We bids had foolishly set the voting fee so that it did not come out evenly in any of the three currencies we were taking, most importantly here the host country’s, and of course everyone trying to pay the ƒ47 fee were using ƒ50 notes. The other two currencies were, as I recall, $28 and £18.50. If we’d had a lick of sense, we would have set it at ƒ50/$30/£20 and not worried about the exchange rates not working that closely. We were idiots. I learned a lesson there that I applied to my later work as a Site Selection administrator.

    The casino gave me ƒ200 in loose coins, which I ended up pouring into my suit pockets and clinking back up to the convention center. You had to wear a jacket to get into the casino, and that’s why I ended up with the change-making job, as I had brought my suit to wear to the Hugo Awards ceremony.

  29. 2) Ramez Naan speaks a lot of sense.

    4) Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jason Sizemore.

    7) I’m still a little sad that I didn’t get to go to ConFiction, because I didn’t know about it at the time. ConFiction is still the closest a WorldCon ever was to me – I live in North Germany fairly close to the Dutch border and Heidelberg, though in Germany, is further away. And besides, the Heidelberg WorldCon happened before I was born, so attending was out of the question.

    9) I have read both The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert von Hentzau. I agree with everybody who says that Prisoner of Zenda is better. Rupert von Hentzau also has a downbeat ending.

    @Lis Carey
    Late night TV showings of vintage movies were also extremely important to me growing up. There are quite a lot of SFF movies I first saw during such late night broadcasts (Them!, Tarantula, The Monolith Monsters, It Came From Outer Space, The Monolith Monsters, 2001 – A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Alien, Battlestar Galactica, Logan’s Run), because they were never on during primetime. I’m also sad that the TV stations who used to broadcast vintage movies twenty or thirty years ago now broadcast endless reruns of the crime drama Tatort and never the good episodes either.

  30. @Darren Garrison:

    Another issue with the Expanse novels is the old SF cliche’ about the Sun being “just a bright star” when seen from the asteroid belt, when of course, the Sun is incredibly bright (and obviously a disk, not a point) well outside the asteroid belt (this should be obvious – after all the Sun’s light manages to go pass the asteroid belt, reflect off Jupiter and make it back to Earth with enough brightness remaining to make Jupiter brighter than any star).

  31. Ciaran Hinds has made some very fine stage performances in plays by Conor McPherson, including the Broadway production of The Seafarer, where his character was a devilish sort playing poker for another man’s soul, and McPherson’s adaptation of The Birds. And also with McPherson, he did the movie The Eclipse, which was ghosty and atmospheric even if it was not absolutely a ghost story. But he’s a good match for McPherson’s brand of supernatural, existential, psychological weirdness.

    Oh, and on the issue of classic films… Turner Classic Movies? Also vintage movie theaters.

  32. @Sophie Jane: that’s plausible if not obvious (in an inversion of the King of Siam’s claim that “the best one of the two is really neither”) — but the article (as I read it) was presenting an either-or rather than there-needs-to-be-more.

  33. Russell Letspn: I could see Tom Hiddleston doing CORIOLANUS. He was also great as Prince Hal/Henry V in the Hollow Crown series. I think his being hired as Loki was an early sign of the high quality of the MCU.

  34. Andrew on February 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm said:

    Another issue with the Expanse novels is the old SF cliche’ about the Sun being “just a bright star” when seen from the asteroid belt, when of course, the Sun is incredibly bright (and obviously a disk, not a point) well outside the asteroid belt

    I just found this useful page showing the relative angular diameter of the sun from different worlds, including Ceres.

  35. @ Lis – I’m another who loved watching old movies on late night TV. Philadelphia Story is one of my favourites.

  36. Vintage movie theaters are great–vintage movies and popcorn to go with them!–if you’re near one. Works for those of us who know we want to see the movies, not so much as a path for kids to discover them.

    But Turner Classic Movies? Absolutely! Takes a little more exploratory curiosity on the part of the kids, but available in most homes that have cable, and kids do poke around to see what’s on.

  37. (7) Kees hasn’t contacted me yet, but it would be nice to have a reunion. Guests of Honor were Joe Haldeman, Wolfgang Jeschke and Harry Harrison; Chelsea Quinn Yarbro was Toastmaster, and I was Fan GoH.

    Wolfgang is gone, and none of us are spring chickens any more, to coin a phrase.

    If someone could give me Kees’s current e-dress, I’d appreciate it.

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