Pixel Scroll 2/21/16 The Pixels of Karres

(1) PLAY INSIDE PKD’S MIND. Chris Priestman of Kill Screen describes Californium, a game based on a famous sf writer in “The videogame tribute to Philip K. Dick is out today”.

In Californium, you essentially play an alternate world version of Dick himself. Cast as one Elvin Green after his wife and daughter leaves him, you start alone but for the pills in your cabinet and the sprawled pages of unfinished novels on the floor. As grim as the circumstances may be, Californium‘s world is brought to life thick with the exaggerated colors of sunny Orange County and a population of 2D cartoon characters drawn with rich expression. Granted, these encounters with fellow residents are mostly miserablean angry landlady, a disappointed editor, a government agent trying to take you downbut considered strictly visually, the whole thing pops and beams out of the screen at you.

(2) SIMPLE ADDITION. Mary Robinette Kowal contributes eight “Thoughts about how to add diversity. Real simple thoughts.” Here is number 7.

(3) FIRST FANDOM. Dave Kyle at Boskone.

(4) NEXT FANDOM. Squeaker, David Gerrold, and Muffin at Boskone.

(5) MERCURY TEST FAILS. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler has the latest space exploration news from 1961.

Unfortunately, MA-1 broke up 58 seconds after lift-off.  It was a cloudy day, so no one saw it occur, but when the telemetry stopped and pieces of the craft fell from the sky, it was pretty clear the mission was over.  The culprit was later identified as the junction between the capsule and booster.

(6) BUD WEBSTER MEDICAL FUND. A repeat signal boost for the Bud Webster Medical Fund drive. Rich Stow says the out-of-pocket medical expenses that Bud and Mary have incurred are staggering. Donations for these medical expenses are being accepted through the MarsCon online store link — https://squareup.com/market/marscon/bud-webster-medical-fund . [Cut and paste URL; I had trouble with the link, but no trouble if I pasted the URL directly into my browser.]

100% of every donation will go to Bud’s out-of-pocket medical and final expenses. The MarsCon Executive Committee has agreed to cover all of the fees that are levied by Square on each transaction. Thank you for any help you can give.

As an added thanks for your donation, you are entitled to receive some ebooks courtesy of ReAnimus Press, publisher of the ebook editions of three of Bud’s books. (Past Masters / The Joy of Booking / Anthopology 101: Reflections, Inspections and Dissections of SF Anthologies)

The perks escalate in proportion to the donations – see details at the site. Also 100% of sales of Bud’s ebooks from ReAnimus Press is going to Mary as well — http://ReAnimus.com/authors/budwebster.

(7) CAMPBELL-ELIGIBLE ANTHOLOGY. SL Huang and Kurt Hunt ([email protected]) have put out a call for submissions for Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors.


Authors eligible for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer include writers who published their first qualifying professional science fiction or fantasy fiction in 2014 or 2015. This free e-anthology will collect stories by these award-eligible authors in one place, showcasing the work of exciting new talent for award nominators and for a general audience.

Up and Coming will be available in early March. See the submission link and writers guidelines here. The deadline for submissions is 8:00 a.m. Tokyo time on February 28 (February 27 in Western timezones).


  • Born February 21, 1946 – Alan Rickman

(9) NEXT, PREDICT THE NEBULA WINNER. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizons expected the finalists in the Nebula novel category would be the books on top of the Recommendation List, and they were. He says it won’t be as easy to predict the winner.

Winning a Nebula is very different than getting nominated; a small group of passionate fans can drive a nomination, but to win you need to build a broader coalition…

He produces some new tables, and comes up with some fresh analysis:

In some ways, [Fran] Wilde’s nomination is a key one. It’s the first time we’ve seen a novel receive both a Nebula Nomination and an Andre Norton nomination (the SFWA YA category). I don’t know what that means for Wilde’s chances in either, but it may signal a loosening of the SFWAs attitude towards YA fiction in the Best Novel category. That could have major implications moving forward.

(10) SPIDER-MAN AND HIS EXPENSIVE FRIENDS. Comic Book Resources counts down “The 10 Most Expensive Comic Books Ever Sold”.

On Thursday, February 18, Heritage Auctions auctioned off a Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) graded 9.4 copy of “Amazing Fantasy” #15 at their Comics and Comic Art Signature sale in Dallas. As one of the highest-graded copies of Spider-Man’s first appearance ever to be sold at public auction, it was expected to fetch a high price. In fact, it set a record, selling for $454,100. That’s the most ever paid for a Spider-Man comic at public auction.

(11) TRADITIONAL V. INDIE. Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells indie book authors to beware of “Book-Shaming”.

As I prepped for this blog today, I read article after article, opinion piece after opinion piece, shredding self-publishing. The language in these posts is condescending. The implication is clear: Self-publishing is for losers.

And yet, there’s a tinge of fear in all of these posts. The power brokers understand that things are changing. They can feel the change all around them, but they don’t understand it.

Rather than try to understand it, they’re shaming writers, playing to that writer insecurity. These former power brokers keep trying to convince writers who self-publish that they’re embarrassing themselves, that they’ll never amount to anything. Oh, sure they’re making money, but from whom? Readers who will read anything.

Let me be as blunt as I can here.

People who shame you are trying to control you. They want you to behave in a certain way. Rather than telling you to behave that way, they’re striving to subtly change your behavior by embarrassing you, and making you think less of yourself.

These people are trying to place themselves above you, to make you act the way that they want you to act, even if it is not in your own best interest. Shame is a particularly useful tool, because so many good-hearted people want to behave properly. These good-hearted folk don’t want to offend in any way. Yet shamers try to convince the good-hearted that they are offending or at least, making themselves objects of ridicule.

There’s an entire psychological area of study about this kind of shaming. It’s subtle, it’s nasty, and it often hurts the people it’s aimed at. Usually, shame is used by the powerful to keep the less-powerful under their thumbs.

That’s why shaming has suddenly become a huge part of the public discourse about how writers should publish their works these days. The powerful are losing their hold on the industry. This scares them. The language is getting more and more belligerent (and hard to believe) as the powerful realize they’re going to lose this battle

(12) WHAT RUSCH REALLY MEANT? But at Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress felt this was the takeaway from Rusch’s post:

So the next time someone tells you that you’re “racist sexist homophobic”, without ever trying to get to know you first, makes fun of your religion, expresses disgust at the idea of having children, belittles your choices in what to put in and what to leave out, how you publish, or makes fun of the type of fiction you like to read…

Tell them to take a long walk off a short pier, and keep writing what you makes you happy, and your readers want to read. They’re just trying to control you.

(13) BATMAN. A Los Angeles Times interviewer learns “Frank Miller has more in store for Batman”.

How would you distinguish what you do under the “Dark Knight” title and other Batman comics that you’ve done?

“The Dark Knight” was my ticket to freedom. I was able to do Batman as I’ve seen him. When I do Batman now it’s my version. I’m given a lot of leeway. The character is wonderfully adaptable to the times. There’s the version from the 1940s compared to the ’50s and compared to the ’60s and the Adam West show. They’re altogether different. Mine was just updated for the ’80s and ’90s.

My relationship with DC has always been very, very good. When I first did “Dark Knight” it was turbulent trying some new things out, but that’s the normal tension that happens between your publisher and the writer. There’s bound to be give and take as you hash things out.

There has been about a 15-year gap between each of your “Dark Knight” series.

It takes me a while to get as angry as he is. The character is one I can redo any old time. It’s about finding the right time and everybody’s schedules being open, and having the right people in place who want to get more daring. All these things have to combine at the right time. First of all, the story has to pop into my head.

(14) BOUND TO LIE. “’Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t’ Explores the World of Fake Books” at the New York Times.

Mindell Dubansky’s romance with fake books began nearly two decades ago at a Manhattan flea market, where she picked up a small volume carved from a piece of coal and bearing the name of a young man who had died in a mining accident in 1897.

Some 200 items from her collection went on display on Thursday at the Grolier Club in Manhattan, a temple to books, where they will remain through March 12. The exhibition, “Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t,” appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Most exhibitions at the Grolier, whose grand library holds more than 100,000 volumes with real pages and sometimes spectacular fine bindings, don’t include items like Secret Sam’s Spy Dictionary, a 1960s toy that lets users photograph enemies with a camera hidden inside a fake tome that also shoots plastic bullets out of its spine.

(15) ANOTHER PIECE OF ADVICE. A conversation between two characters in Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night.

Phoebe Tucker. He may be a perverse old idiot, but it’s more dignified not to say so in so many words.  A bland and deadly courtesy is more devastating, don’t you think?

Harriet Vane. Infinitely.

(16) WINTER IS TRUMPING. Do Donald Trump’s border policies make more sense in Westeros?

In this video, his face and campaign audio have been cleverly grafted into footage from Game of Thrones.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist.]

185 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/21/16 The Pixels of Karres

  1. @Kurt.
    I get motion sickness easily. Does it mean that since I can’t ride these wonderfully described carnival rides, I’m a bad leftist?

  2. @Paul:
    Factional splits are definitely leftist, even if they’re just between you and the contents of your stomach.

  3. I think I have concluded that Gentleman Jole just wasn’t for me. I read it fast, but I think I was speeding ahead to find the good bits. It wasn’t the lack of action that I minded, so much as the fact that the threads that interested me weren’t the ones Bujold wanted to follow. Her prerogative, of course, but I would have really have loved to read more about Jole’s investigation of Sergyaran natural history and/or possible conflicts between scientific and military culture in Jole’s head. The feckless ghem had possibilities, and I’d love to read a book that looks at Cordelia’s parenting strategies up close (edited to add: Maybe we’ve already had that one in Mirror Dance).

    Then Miles showed up. Am I the only one who thinks that in the last couple of books, the story became less interesting when Miles made his cameo appearances? His arc seems comfortably complete, and there are a bunch of more interesting characters in the vorkosiverse now.

    Maybe spoilerish, I dunno:
    V’z vapyvarq gb guvax gung gur Wbyr/Neny/Pbeqryvn eryngvbafuvc sryy n yvggyr syng, orpnhfr gurer jnfa’g rabhtu va gur cerivbhf obbxf gb nqq jrvtug gb gur fcrne cbvag. Vg qbrf, va ergebfcrpg, nqq fbzr cbvtanapl gb Wbyr freivat nf bar bs Neny’f cnyyorneref, gubhtu. Tertbe pneelvat Neny’f pbssva — abj gung jnf n oynqr qevira fgenvtug gb gur urneg; vg unq gur jrvtug oruvaq vg.

  4. @Bruce A

    Still, I found the whole topic of raising goats and dogs for reasons other than to be shown at shows to be interesting, the rest not so much.

    Curiously, I find the raising of goats/dogs/etc. for the sole purpose of being shown at shows to be interesting. Raising them for other purposes such as companionship, clothing, and food are mundane. Worthwhile endeavors, but mundane.


  5. JJ, (Quick: list me 3 novels which feature a city eternally traveling on train-like tracks that go all the way around the planet.)

    Um. Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 had a city on Mercury, if memory serves, that went around the planet. China Meiville’s Railsea has boat/trains that go around the planet, but I don’t think that quite fits the specifications. Um. I don’t recall if the cities in Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve ran on rails.

    Darn it…..

    There was a short story (or was it a novella?) I read years ago about a murder mystery set on… Mercury?… with a circum-Mercury rail track. And, um, I think it featured forged Monets….

    Ok, JJ, I give up….

  6. Inverted World, by Christopher Priest.

    The Fifth Dragon, Ian McDonald, has folks building a railway around the Moon, to keep their solar powered furnaces in the light.

    Ringworld has maglev trains going a long, long way around the world on the ring walls.

  7. @Nickp
    I’m intending a reread soon. I had mixed feelings when I finished but as I’ve read others opinions the more I think I’ll appreciate the book more the second time around when I’m not waiting for the action to happen.

  8. China Meiville’s Railsea has boat/trains that go around the planet, but I don’t think that quite fits the specifications.

    I don’t think they really do; they go across the Railsea, which is a specific space bounded by continents. V guvax vg’f snveyl pyrne gung vg’f npghnyyl gur Cnpvsvp.

  9. It can’t be nyy gur bprnaf, fvapr gurl pbzr gb na npghny bprna ng gur raq, naq frg bss va n obng.

    Just as, in Inverted World, our protagonist reaches gur Ngynagvp, naq frgf bss fjvzzvat.

  10. Charles Stross’ “Saturn’s Children” had a city on Mercury on rails that kept it on the line between day & night, so it’s not too hot or cold.

  11. Also, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, where gur ivyynvaf yvgrenyyl gvr gur urebvar gb gur genpxf fb gung fur’yy or xvyyrq jura gur ebyyvat pvgl pbzrf nybat.

    The reason that particular scenario came to mind was because when I read 2312, I was thinking “I just read another book which has this!”, and it took me a while of racking my brain to remember that it had been in Saturn’s Children.

  12. @Cassy B: I think I’ve read the circum-Mercury one as well, and I can’t remember title/author either …

    Absolution Gap (Alastair Reynolds) may fit the bill, though I’m not sure that uses tracks exclusively.

    Inverted World misses out on the “tracks that go all the way round the planet” part, because it’s set on a world with a very different geometry to ours. And if I remember rightly (I read it a long time ago), the city is being winched along rather than running on tracks. (Dammit, people, isn’t it enough to swamp me with recommendations of new books without making me want to reread so many others as well? And Inverted World the novel isn’t simply an expansion of the original novelette; there are major differences, so I’ll have to find both of them…)

  13. I get motion sickness easily. Does it mean that since I can’t ride these wonderfully described carnival rides, I’m a bad leftist?

    Pick the rides that don’t move all that much, and only move to the left, and you’ll be fine.

  14. JJ — I’m somebody who forgets plots, sometimes so thoroughly that I’ve repurchased a book because I didn’t remember reading it. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with how quickly I read a particular book, and it also happens with movies. It’s just something my brain does.

  15. In the Star Wars EU, I think I remember that Lando leaves Cloud City and builds a city that’s basically a giant AT-AT walking endlessly to stay on the cold side of the planet so it doesn’t burn up. (Which seems ripe for catastrophic system failure, but y’know.)

  16. (1) Oops, scratch that chat — Lee the Puppet is having power outages b/c of wind. Puppet publishing wisdom will return next week.

    “Inverted World” was the first trains-around-the-world book I read. And there was a fantasy in the past couple of years which I totally can’t remember, argh. I liked it. A young man got on the world-spanning train and made it his life and career.

  17. @Cassy B: The mystery on Mercury with the forged Monets was probably Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Mercurial”, which introduced the idea of the Mercury-city-on-rails that Stross homaged in Saturn’s Children and Robinson re-used in 2312.

  18. Cassy B.: David Goldfarb and JJ, thank you.

    Yes, David, thank you! I didn’t know about this story, or that it was part of the inspiration for Saturn’s Children (which I did know was partly inspired by Friday and other Heinlein novels).

    And yay, Neil Clarke, for publishing it just now! Because now I’m actually able to read it.

  19. @lurkertype —

    Harriet Wimsey, né Vane, is indeed titled Lady Peter at the time of her marriage.

    It’s (obscurely) canon that Harriet is eventually Her Grace Harriet Wimsey, Duchess of Denver.

    Given the timing, it’s just possible that Honoria Lucasta and Helen are going to both be Dowager Duchesses at the same time. One could feel for Peter under the circumstances.

  20. @Graydon, that would require the early death of Viscount St. George. Why would we assume that?

  21. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones —

    Because Sayers wrote a bunch of Wimsey family correspondence for publication in the Spectator during 1939 and 1940. Collectively The Wimsey Papers.

    These establish that St. George was in the RAF.

    The early notes Jill Paton Walsh had access to when writing Thrones, Dominations apparently include an assertion that St. George did not survive the war. How much of what Walsh subsequently constructed about the inheritance was Sayers I cannot say, but it is generally accepted that St. George dying in the Battle of Britain was Sayers.

    (I flat loathe the Walsh continuations.)

  22. I had not seen those. A lot of young men died in the world wars, so it would not be surprising. So sad.

  23. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones —

    Not surprising at all; St. George would definitely fall into the “bold pilot” rather than the “old pilot” side of the traditional dichotomy. Though still sad. (Though I expect Sayers intended that; living through both World Wars would be bound to give one views on the cost.)

    (It does lend support to the 17-is-the-mystical-number position, since Peter would be the 17th Duke[1], and I really doubt Sayers planned that from the beginning.)

    There’s a couple of post-Busman’s Honeymoon short stories, 1936’s “The Haunted Policeman” and 1942’s “Tallboys”. Neither mention St. George.

    [1] No he wasn’t. He was the Fifth Duke of the Second Creation. See (if you like heraldic jokes) The Wimsey Family as written by an actual herald. (Also the closest thing we’ve got to a published source for “it being unlikely St. George survived the war.”)

  24. @Graydon: How cool is that? Is the book written entertainingly?

  25. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones —

    I found it so, but I have a taste for heraldic and academic jokes. Lots of Sayers fans have reviewed it positively, so perhaps that particular taste isn’t entirely required.

    And much of the book is Sayers; it’s perhaps best thought of as authorized genealogical fanfic with author participation.

    So I think it’s entirely worthwhile, but don’t trust my taste as a basis for general recommendation.

  26. OMG, I never considered St. George not surviving the war, but of course he wouldn’t have. Thanks, Graydon, you jerk, now I’m depressed as hell.

    eta: Um…Joking! This is something I’ve genuinely never thought about because I read the “continuation” and both deplored and despised it, but had never noticed that Gerkins didn’t show up in the Haunted Policeman and Tallboys. *dignified weeping*

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