Pixel Scroll 2/21/17 Troll, Troll, Where’s My Scroll? Gone To The Pixel, Lol Lol Lol!

(1) SPIRIT QUEST. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will host a Will Eisner centennial exhibit from March 1-June 3.

  • An opening reception will be held at the Society of Illustrators on the evening of March 10, from 7:30 – 11:00pm. Suggested donation of $20 helps support our programming and exhibitions. Cash bar will be open until midnight.
  • On April 22, there will be a gallery talk led by curators Denis Kitchen and John Lind.
  • A panel discussion on Will Eisner is scheduled for May 9.

The lasting legacy that Will Eisner (1917–2005) has in sequential art cannot be overstated—he is known as the Champion of the Graphic Novel. His innovative storytelling, layouts, and art on his newspaper series The Spirit inspired a generation of cartoonists, and his turn toward an acclaimed run of graphic novels, beginning in 1978 with A Contract with God, helped pioneer the form. Among the honors bestowed upon Eisner are the Reuben Award, the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, the Yellow Kid Award, and multiple Harvey Awards and Eisner Awards—the latter of which were named in his honor.

This two-floor retrospective—the largest Eisner exhibition ever in the United States—curated by Denis Kitchen and John Lind, comprises over 150 pieces including original artwork from Smash Comics (1939), key sequences from his graphic novels including A Contract with God (1978), Life on Another Planet (1983), A Life Force (1988), To the Heart of the Storm (1991), and over 40 pages of originals from The Spirit (1940–1952) newspaper section.

SI is located at 128 East 63rd Street between Lexington and Park Avenue in New York City.

(2) DRAGON CON LOSING AWARD? SF Site News carried the Parsec Awards announcement that they are surveying fans about their receptivity to a virtual awards ceremony in place of the annual presentations at Dragon Con. The Parsec Awards “celebrate speculative fiction podcasting.” From the awards site —

This is not something we take lightly. Over the years the awards ceremony has been an opportunity for us to share laughs, music, triumph and tragedy as a community. You, who have supported us and each other, are the reason the awards exist and we would be remiss if we didn’t attempt to serve you in the best way possible.

We feel that a virtual awards ceremony may help us do that.

By dissociating the awards with Dragon*Con, we feel that more of our community will be able to participate. No longer will travel to Atlanta be a prerequisite for presenters, entertainers or recipients. Many of those who attended Dragon*Con even found their schedules did not allow their attendance at the awards. We also feel that we can have a better chance of securing judges’ time when we are not smack in the middle of Con season as we can now have some flexibility in scheduling the awards.

So far 73% of the respondents to the survey favor moving to a virtual awards ceremony.

(3) ONE STOP. Marco Zennaro has organized a cover gallery for the “2016 Nebula Award Nominees” plus a synopsis of each work and links where to buy or find them for free.

(4) PRAISE FOR RAMBO. Rich Horton comments on “Nebula Nominees”.

Three stories that showed up on my list of potential Hugo nominees. (“Red in Tooth and Cog” was on my Short Story list (my word count for it is 7000, making it technically a Short Story but eligible for nomination as a Novelette).) The other two are “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” and The Jewel and Her Lapidary. (Curious that in length those three stories are at the very bottom end of novelette, right in the middle, and at the very top end.) The remaining three stories are decent work that I didn’t have listed among my favorites of the year, but none of them strike me as poor stories. So, again, a pretty strong shortlist, with my personal inclinations favoring either Cat Rambo’s story or Jason Sanford’s story; with Fran Wilde’s a close third — a win for any of those would make me happy.

UPDATE: Apparently there is no deadband for Nebula nominations, and “Red in Tooth and Cog” has been declared too short for novelette. It would have been nominated as a Short Story, but Cat Rambo graciously declined the nomination.

This is a shame from my point of view — Rambo’s story is (to my taste) definitely one of the best couple of stories on either the short story or novelette list, and so the shortlist is diminished by its absence. (“The Orangery”, the replacement novelette, is a fine story, to be sure, but not as good as “Red in Tooth and Cog” (in my opinion).)

This also makes the overall shortlist even more Fantasy-heavy (vs. SF), which is of course totally allowed, but to my taste again a bit to be regretted. I do think the Nebulas recently are tending to lean a bit heavily to the Fantasy side.

(5) NOW READ THE STORY FREE. You can find “Red in Tooth and Cog” in its entirety online at at Cat Rambo’s website.

(6) GONE WITH THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. In a piece called “Warfighter: Toad Hall”, The Angry Staff Officer reimagines The Wind in the Willows as if it were a wargame for military strategists to analyze, complete with the use of animal intelligence or AMINT.

How Wind in the Willows can teach us about small unit actions in warfare.

That sound? Oh, that’s just the clunking of heads hitting desks, as people react to their beloved childhood book being brought under the scrutiny of the military microscope. But really, we’d be doing an injustice to that mighty asymmetric warfighter, the Badger, if we neglected to share his courageous story with an entirely new generation of military strategists. Wind in the Willows is not a military work by any means. But the Battle for Toad Hall bears noting, because Kenneth Grahame unwittingly factored in some key elements of small unit warfare.

(7) BELLE CHIMES IN. Emma Watson sings in this new Beauty and the Beast clip.

(8) SUCH A DEAL. Director Alfred Hitchcock paid $9,000 anonymously for the film rights to Robert Bloch’s novel Psycho.

(9) SAVAGELAND. The award-winning Savageland from Terror Films will be released online February 24.

Terror Films has locked in a U.S. release date for the multi-award winning film, Savageland. To celebrate the film’s February launch, a “Dead Alive” clip is available, now!

The film is centered on the night of June 2, 2011. On this date, the largest mass murder in American history occurs in the off-the-grid border town of Sangre de Cristo, Arizona, just a few miles north of Mexico. The entire population of fifty-seven disappears overnight and the next morning nothing is left but blood trails leading into the desert.


(10) LENGTHENING SHADOW. The final three Shadow Clarke jury members introduce themselves, followed by the first shortlist post.

In the world of translation lit-blogging, I also discovered the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (now Man Booker International Prize) shadow jury. The idea was that a group of bloggers would read the Prize longlist; write about and discuss the books; create their own shortlist; and choose their own winner. It sounded great fun, so I asked to join – and it was.

I’ve had such wonderful times as a shadow juror, it has become a highlight of my reading year. I’m delighted that Nina Allan has adapted the idea for the Clarke Award, and excited to be participating in the project. I look forward to new conversations about science fiction, new insights, thoughts and perspectives.

These days I would describe myself as a reader on the outer edge of the sf genre; a frequent dipper of toes but a dipper nonetheless. I say that in context. I read 100 fiction books last year, of which just under a quarter could be characterised as science fiction or fantasy.  That’s quite a significant proportion I suppose, and if asked I would identify sf as something I’m interested in.  But I know that in some parts of the reading universe that’s not a great deal, and that what I’ve read doesn’t qualify me as an expert in any shape or form. At the most basic level I think of my role in the shadow judging process in this way: I’m the kind of person who uses the Clarke Award as a litmus test of quality and a steer to sf books to look out for.  I’m looking for ways to supplement the limits of my expertise and this is one of them.  As a reader of predominantly ‘literary’ and historical fiction I’d like to think the Clarke shortlist is a shortcut to the most critically challenging, engaging and powerful fiction in the field in any given year.

Even as I grew to recognise science fiction as a specific branch of literature, I remained wholly ignorant, for a long time, of the culture surrounding it. I had no idea there was such a thing as SF fandom and, most likely because I knew no one else who read SF or even knew about it beyond the Doctor Who or Star Wars level, I rather think I cherished the idea that novels like The Time Machine and The Day of the Triffids had been written especially for me. How could it be otherwise, when these books contained everything I might hope to find in a story: mystery, adventure, that fabled sense of wonder and that secret silver seam of something else, something that tastes like fear but is closer to awe.

[Before I start, I would like to state for the record that for the purposes of the shadow jury I am pretending that The Gradual – written by my partner Christopher Priest – does not exist. As such I will not be considering it for inclusion in my personal shortlist, or talking about it in this post.] 

So here we are again – the submissions list for the 2017 Clarke Award has just been posted, and the speculation about the runners and riders can officially begin. I’ve been playing this game by myself for a number of years now, poring over the list, winnowing the wheat from the chaff, trying to arrive at a list of six books that I would consider my ‘ideal’ shortlist. It’s never easy. Out of the thirty to forty novels I would personally consider as genuine contenders – and for me that would be books that aren’t zombie/vampire/horror/fantasy novels with no science fictional sensibility or run-of-the-mill commercial SF – there are always around eight to ten I could pick quite happily, with the result that I usually end up feeling I’ve short-changed one book or another by not including it in my reckoning.

(11) MONSTER ARTIST. A Guardian interview: “Emil Ferris: ‘I didn’t want to be a woman – being a monster was the best solution’”.

There has never been a debut graphic novel quite like Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. The 55-year-old artist’s first published work, which came out last week, is a sweeping 60s-era murder mystery set in the cartoonist’s native Chicago. It’s composed of ballpoint pen drawings on wide-ruled notebook paper and is the first half of the story with the second volume out in October. Before she began work on Monsters, Ferris paid the bills with freelance work as an illustrator and a toy designer, making figurines for McDonald’s – she sculpted the Mulan line of Happy Meal prizes for one of the fast food behemoth’s subcontractors – and for Tokyo toymaker Tomy, for whom she worked making the Tea Bunnies line of dolls.

But in 2001, Ferris contracted West Nile virus. At the time a 40-year-old single mother, Ferris’s work was all freelance, she said – with the effects of west Nile hindering the use of three of her limbs, her work dried up, and she looked for another outlet, in part for her creative output, and in part to exercise a dominant hand damaged by the effects of the disease. She went back to school and produced My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, which draws on her own childhood and on the experiences of family and friends who survived the Holocaust. But when her book was finished the Chinese company shipping the copies from the printer in South Korea to the United States went bankrupt and the whole print run was held hostage at the Panama Canal by the shipping company’s creditors along with the rest of the cargo on the ship carrying it.

Now, it is finally here.

(12) LOADED SF. Joshua Sky tells Tor.com readers about “Collecting Philip K. Dick: Science Fiction’s Most Powerful Gateway Drug”.

Philip K. Dick has a way of taking the reader there. Each of his novels presents a whole new experience in of itself; a totally different world that is both new yet enticingly familiar. The reader, upon finishing the book, finds that they’re no longer the same person who started it. As I’ve said, his work is perception-altering.

By age 22, I landed my first job out of college at Marvel Entertainment—it was just as the crash of 2008 was happening, so I was relieved to find something full-time. In my department was a Japanese fellow, Teru, who also collected PKD’s work and we bonded over that, swapping books and chatting about our interpretations of his stuff. Teru suggested that I also read Alfred Bester and J.G. Ballard. Another friend and co-worker during this time was a Brooklynite named Eric. We’d met at Brooklyn College and would discuss Dick’s work and make up different word games–my personal favorite was coming up with bad titles for PKD novels (since Dick himself had some deeply strange titles for his books, such as The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, to cite just two examples.)

The more I read, the more I learned about PKD himself. Turns out, most of what he wrote was first draft material with just a bit of polishing. He’d probably laugh at how most of the universities have trained an entire generation of writers to be self conscious and to over-rewrite, probably one of the most detrimental things a writer can do.

(13) LIBERATED JEDI. FANAC.org has added to its YouTube channel the video of MidAmeriCon’s (1976) audience Q&A session with the producer and leading man from the yet-to-be-released movie Star Wars.

Right out of the gate, some fan questions Princess Leia’s costume choice, and asks haven’t they seen covers of Amazing?

Gary Kurtz answers, “And we’ve got to remember women’s liberation. At this time we can’t be, we aren’t sexually selling females or males in this film.”

You didn’t know that, did you?

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. Before the film was released, before Star Wars and George Lucas were household names, producer Gary Kurtz, star Mark Hamill and marketing director Charles Lippincott came to MidAmeriCon to promote Star Wars. This Q&A session is full of fascinating background information about the film, the filming and the attitudes of the Star Wars team. For example, listen to Kurtz talk about the massive $18M gate they would need to break even. This is brought to you by the FANAC Fan History Project, with video from the Video Archeology project (coordinated by Geri Sullivan, with technical work by David Dyer-Bennet).


[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Darrah Chavey, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

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44 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/21/17 Troll, Troll, Where’s My Scroll? Gone To The Pixel, Lol Lol Lol!

  1. It’s great to see Eisner’s work in the original pages. I got to see a retrospective when we were in Massachusetts—perhaps for his 90th. It was largely Spirit stuff. At least, that’s what really got my interest. There were also PS pages, posters, and graphic novel materials. Lovely stuff from one of the greats of the art form.

  2. (3) and (4). I read “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” today and it was pretty good. Don’t read a review/synopsis of it before you read the story, as pretty much anything said would be a spoiler to some degree–not for the ending, but for the beginning.

    Unrelated, but the Lowline Lab in NYC is closing this weekend. Keep in mind the “underground park” is just a proof of concept and would fit in your living room. Still, it has a science fiction feel to it and is worth a visit. I’ll definitely go back in 2021 when the full park opens.

  3. I’m not getting the sound on the live-action BATB clip — either here or when I click thru to the original article. The MAC 1976 video has sound, so I don’t think the problem is on my end.

  4. Marco Zennaro: Fortunately those mistakes can be fixed. And this gives me a chance to invite you to appertain yourself your favorite beverage, as is the custom of the house on these occasions. 🍹

  5. Lee: Not sure what to do about that, since it is working for me. What happens when you select “view on YouTube”?

  6. @von Dimpleheimer

    +1 for Blood Grains. The setting is the real star of the story, so as you say any description will spoil things.
    It’s very good, although I’m not sure it’ll make my final five – I was just now staring at my longlist with a sense of dread at having to cut it down.

  7. @ Mike: That did it, thanks! Probably some odd interaction between my computer settings and the source article.

  8. 8)
    Money well spent indeed.

    While a couple of us at SFF Audio have been listening to audiobooks of his work, only one of us (Marissa) has gone deeper than that in our trip through his oeuvre. I can’t imagine trying to read any of the Exegesis unless I was stuck in a bed with some sort of bad illness and had nothing else to read–although the mental state such a flu and the drugs to cure same sometimes puts me in would be perfect for reading Dick…

  9. (2) Aww, first I had thought it was talking about the Dragoncon award. It is an interesting question for smaller awards, but if they seldom can get the all the nominees and winners to the same room, then a public ceremony can often be a drag.

    (4) & (5) W00t! Now I can add “Red in Tooth and Cog” to my Hugo nomination list with a good conscience. It’s interesting how it explores the question of the relation between emerging AI:s and electromechanic life forms with humans, just as “Cat Pictures, Please” did. The relation is not in any way antagonistic, but at the same time there is clearly a cognitive gap between us.

  10. 8) I recall Robert Bloch saying he didn’t know who was buying the book, and it was without a percentage. But almost all of his books carried the cover blurb “by the author of PSYCHO” after that.

  11. “It’s not a science oriented story” – Gary Kurtz, Producer of Star Wars.

    Thank you Mr. Kurtz, and thank you MidAmericon for making this data available.

    The argument over “what” kind of film Star Wars is has now been closed. It is Science Fantasy or Action Adventure set in outer space. Not Science Fiction.

    With that said, I can now stop being upset over Star Wars.

  12. @Steve Davidson– Oddly enough, I just finished listening to the audiobook of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor. Based on this I can now inform you that this information has been out there for years. Lucas has said this for years, as an obvious fact of what he was intending, and why did so many people misunderstand?

    He also has a touching naiveté about why it’s Star Trek and not Star Wars is the franchise that inspired lots of NASA engineers and astronauts. He really wanted his space fantasy with no pretense,at all of real physics to inspire space exploration, and why hasn’t it?

    The notion that fairy tales inspire character choices more than career choices, and that’s what fairy tales are for, seems not to have occurred to him. 😀

  13. @Mark

    It’s very good, although I’m not sure it’ll make my final five – I was just now staring at my longlist with a sense of dread at having to cut it down.

    Now that EPH has passed, it’s possible to consider lifting the limit on the number of nominations. Of course, that would undermine 5/6, but maybe if 3SV passes in Helsinki, someone could propose raising the nomination limit to 10 or so in San Jose.

  14. @Steve Davidson, Lis Carey:

    I’m always inclined to give credit to Star Wars’s science fiction qualities. The Force is no more magic than most of the psychic powers of Golden Age science fiction. R2-D2 hacking into the Death Star was a fairly speculative computing idea for 1977 presented casually, as is the implicit reliance on computers for navigation and targeting. FTL travel’s necessity and limitations impact the plot (short-range Imperial fighters, damage to the hyperdrive not affecting sublight travel…) The movies use astronomical objects interestingly if not always realistically, from twin suns to inhabitable moons.

    The post-Lucas movies actually seem to be less sci-fi than before: ships going to hyperspace whenever they feel like it, Star Destroyers landing on planets, faster-than-light death beams, etc.

    And not to turn it into a fight but Star Wars is remarkably devoid of a lot of ‘space adventure’ nonsense that Star Trek uses liberally and Lucas could have easily inherited from his inspirations, like random space energy anomalies, godlike extradimensional beings, and evil computers, and is much better (though not perfect) than Trek on the ‘aliens that inexplicably resemble humans’ front.

  15. I keep trying to read today’s title as a version of The Pixies “Where is My Mind?”

    I guess this would be The Pixels “Where is My File?”

  16. @Greg

    As much as I bemoan having to cut down my list, it would be painful no matter the final number!

  17. @Jack Lint:Ohh, one of my alltime favorite songs!

    Ooh, stop
    With your pixels in the air and your mouse on the ground
    Try to tick and click it, yeah
    Your box will collapse
    But there’s nothing in it
    And you’ll ask yourself
    Where is my file
    Where is my file
    Where is my file

  18. Paul (@princejvstin) on February 22, 2017 at 10:35 am said:
    It’s a red dwarf ~40 light years away
    Astronomers Find 7 Earth-Sized Planets Around A Nearby Star

    And now we know where Firefly was set …

  19. @ Paul:

    Astronomers Find 7 Earth-Sized Planets Around A Nearby Star

    Can someone help me on how those orbits are even stable? The orbits of the two innermost planets are .004 AU apart – that’s only about half again the distance from the Earth to the Moon – and none of them differs by more than .015 AU from its nearest neighbor. Their periods seem to be in rough resonance (except for the third one out) but would even that keep terrestrial planets stable over geological time scales with the orbits so close together?

  20. The paper about the 7 planets was published in Nature, behind a paywall. Here is an accessible copy.

    Note that only the inner three planets have equilibrium temperatures above the freezing point of water.

  21. I love the fact that the star with the seven earth-sized planets is named Trappist 1 and was discovered by Belgian astronomers. For those who don’t know, Trappist monks brew a very tasty and very strong dark beer at several monasteries/breweries in Belgium. So basically, here we have a star named after very good beer or the monks who brew it.

    I’d suggest naming the planets Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren after the six Belgian Trappist breweries. Planet No. 7 could be named Leffe Bruin, after a Trappist style beer not made by monks.

  22. @Bill, thanks for the link to the paper! Equilibrium temperature shouldn’t be a problem with an earthlike atmosphere – the equilibrium temperature of Earth is also below the freezing point of water. Also, with tidal locking, I’d assume that the day-side temperatures would be considerably higher than the equilibrium even without the atmosphere.

    OTOH, the paper suggests that the inner three could have succumbed to a runaway greenhouse effect.

  23. Can someone help me on how those orbits are even stable?

    The paper Bill links to has a section on stability which concludes there’s quite a high chance of something going wrong on the megayear timescale, but that the system is there and has been for a long time and as it’s unlikely we’re seeing it just before a catastrophic event the model needs work.

    The paper also points out that the system as a whole is very similar to a scaled up Jupiter and the Galilean moons, if Jupiter had 3 more large moons…

  24. @Jonathan Edelstein

    Can someone help me on how those orbits are even stable? The orbits of the two innermost planets are .004 AU apart – that’s only about half again the distance from the Earth to the Moon – and none of them differs by more than .015 AU from its nearest neighbor. Their periods seem to be in rough resonance (except for the third one out) but would even that keep terrestrial planets stable over geological time scales with the orbits so close together?

    What matters is how far apart their Hill Spheres are. In theory, orbits are stable as long as they don’t intersect each other’s Hill Spheres. In practice, three times that distance is often said to be required. So I ran a quick calculation to compare them.

    Ihe closest pair is g/h, where the separation is only 7 times the radius of g’s Hill Sphere. The rest range from 10 to 18. So they’ve got lots and lots of space between them. (Although not as much as we do: Venus is 30 Earth-Hill-Radii away.)

    The reason this works is that their tiny little star is very very dim. This means they orbit so close to it that its gravity dominates their space in a big way. Small changes in mass make big changes in the brightness of stars, which is how you end up with a bunch of planets huddled very close to this one.

  25. @ Steve D: Star Wars has always been space opera. And there’s nothing wrong with that; the first 3 movies were terrific space opera, at a time when there was almost nothing else in that line available in movies or TV. But calling it “science fiction” was always a stretch, unless you were using that as an umbrella term in the way that we now use SF/F or speculative fiction.

  26. the equilibrium temperature of Earth is also below the freezing point of water.
    I did not know that.

    So from googling about, it appears that Teq is not a very informative number when trying to decide if a planet can support liquid water. Whether or not it has an atmosphere (and what kind it is) is a huge consideration and while they assume an Earth-like atmosphere for some calculations, they don’t really know.

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