Pixel Scroll 2/2/17 If You Give A Kzin A Kazoo…

(1) LOOKING FOR SHADOWS. Leah Schnelbach’s “Groundhog Day Breaks the Rules of Every Genre” is a masterpiece about one of my favorite movies. (It first appeared on Tor.com in 2014.)

Groundhog Day succeeds as a film because of the way it plays with, subverts, and outright mocks the tropes of each of the genres it flirts with. While some people would call it a time travel movie, or a movie about small town America, or the most spiritual film of all time, or a rom-com, it is by breaking the rules of each of those types of films that it ultimately transcends genre entirely.

(2) SHARKNADO 5. Not sure why Syfy and studio The Asylum picked Groundhog Day to announce there will be a fifth Sharknado movie, unless it’s to wink at the fact they’re doing the same thing over and over again:

The original 2013 “Sharknado” introduced the concept of a shark-laden twister via one bearing down on Los Angeles. In “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” New York City was the target of the disaster, and in “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” a mega-sharknado made its way down the East Coast from Washington, D.C. to Florida. In the most recent installment, the very-close-to-copyright-infringement-titled “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens,” the shark-infested storms went national. The film ended with the Eiffel Tower ripping away from Paris and crashing down on Niagara Falls, setting the stage for the fifth edition of America’s answer to the sprawling sagas of the ancient world.

In “Sharknado 5,” with much of North America lying in ruins, the rest of the world braces for a global sharknado. Fin Shepard (Ziering) and his family must put a stop to this disaster before Earth is obliterated.

(3) TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. On the other hand, Daniel Dern hopes you will add iterations of your own to his faux children’s book for Filers.

If You Give A Kzin A Kazoo…

whose text perhaps goes…

… he’ll <blatt> and leap.

If a Kzin <blatt>s and leaps,
he’ll rip you from gehenna to duodenum. [1]

If a Kzin rips you from gehenna to duodenum,
well, that’s the end of the story as far as you’re concerned,
unless you’ve got either an autodoc [2] nearby, or have Wolverine-class mutant healing factor.

[1] per Don Marquis, Archie & Mehitabel — Mehitabel on Marriage, IIRC.

[2] and health care insurance that will cover you 🙁

Probably if you put all that in, Filers will contribute a few dozen more verses.

(4) BOMBS AWAY. Before telling the “Five Things I Learned Writing Exo”, Fonda Lee confesses that Exo began life as a failed NanNoWriMo novel. (A guest post at Terrible Minds.)

This is how it went: I wrote 35,000 words by November 20th or so, and stalled out. It wasn’t working. At all. I read the manuscript from the beginning and hated all of it with the nauseous loathing that writers feel when looking at their own disgusting word messes. I had a shiny story idea in my head but it was emerging as dog vomit. So I quit. I failed NaNoWriMo hard.

I trashed everything I’d written and started again. I wrote a new draft over several months, and then rewrote 50% of that one. And did it again. After the book sold, I did another major revision with my editor. I was relieved and excited by how it was getter better and better, but part of me was also surprised and disheartened. I mean, Zeroboxer was picking up accolades and awards, and whoa, I got to go to the Nebula Awards as a finalist and dance on stage, so why the hell was it so hard to write another book?! This whole writing thing ought to be easier now, right?

Wrong. In talking (griping, whining, crying) to wiser authors, I learned there was wide agreement that the second book is often a complete bitch to write. A very loud voice in your head is telling you that because you’re now a Published Author, you should be writing better and faster, plus doing author promotion stuff with an effortless grin.

(5) REMEMBERING PAN. J. M. Barrie was one of several authors who put science-related observation into fantasies. The BBC tells you about it: “What Peter Pan teaches us about memory and consciousness”.

In this way, the stories appear to follow a tradition of great cross-pollination between the arts and the sciences – particularly in children’s literature. Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies was written, in part, as a response to Darwin’s theory of evolution, while Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were a playful exploration of mathematics and logic. Even some of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales were inspired by new scientific and technological developments – such as the invention of the home microscope.

(6) A LARGER-THAN-EXPECTED COLLISION. The Large Hadron Collider didn’t end the world, as some cranks feared, but it did end this creature: “World’s Most Destructive Stone Marten Goes On Display In The Netherlands”

On Nov. 20, 2016, the animal hopped over a fence at the $7 billion Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, touched a transformer and was electrocuted by 18,000 volts.

The marten died instantly. The collider, which accelerates particles to near the speed of light to study the fiery origins of the universe, lost power and shut down.

“There must have been a big flame,” said Kees Moeliker, the director of the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam and the man behind its Dead Animal Tales exhibit, where the preserved marten is now displayed.

“It was scorched. When you’re not really careful with candles and your hair, like that,” he explained. “Every hair of this creature was kind of burned and the whiskers, they were burned to the bare minimum and especially the feet, the legs, they were cooked. They were darker, like roasted.”

“It really had a bad, bad encounter with this electricity.”

Chip Hitchcock adds, “Marten furs were once sufficiently tradable that Croatia’s currency, the kuna, takes its name from the Croatian word for the beast.“

(7) YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. James Davis Nicoll turns the panel loose on Roger Zelazny’s “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”.

I selected 1963’s A Rose for Ecclesiastes for a few reasons. The least important is because I only recently read it myself (the story kept coming up in the context of a grand review project of mine and I got tired of admitting over and over again that I had not read it.). Another is its historical significance: this is one of the last SF stories written before space probes showed us what Mars was really like. The final reason is this story was nominated for a Hugo and I am hopeful that the virtues the readers saw a half century ago are still there.

Let’s find out!

(8) THE FOUNDER. Selected writings by Hugo Gernsback have been compiled in The Perversity of Things: Hugo Gernsback on Media, Tinkering, and Scientifiction, edited by Grant Wythoff. The book was published in November by the University of Minnesota Press.

In 1905, a young Jewish immigrant from Luxembourg founded an electrical supply shop in New York. This inventor, writer, and publisher Hugo Gernsback would later become famous for launching the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926. But while science fiction’s annual Hugo Awards were named in his honor, there has been surprisingly little understanding of how the genre began among a community of tinkerers all drawn to Gernsback’s vision of comprehending the future of media through making. In The Perversity of Things, Grant Wythoff makes available texts by Hugo Gernsback that were foundational both for science fiction and the emergence of media studies.

…The Perversity of Things aims to reverse the widespread misunderstanding of Gernsback within the history of science fiction criticism. Through painstaking research and extensive annotations and commentary, Wythoff reintroduces us to Gernsback and the origins of science fiction.

Bruce Sterling gives the book a powerful endorsement:

Grant Wythoff’s splendid work of scholarship dispels the dank, historic mists of a literary subculture with starkly factual archival research. An amazing vista of electronic media struggle is revealed here, every bit as colorful and cranky as Hugo Gernsback’s pulp magazines—even the illustrations and footnotes are fascinating. I’m truly grateful for this work and will never think of American science fiction in the same way again.

(9) SARAH PRINCE. The family obituary for Sarah Prince, who died last month, appeared in the Plattsburgh (NY) Press-Republican.

Sarah Symonds Prince (born July 11, 1954) died unexpectedly of congestive heart failure in late January in her Keene Valley home. A long time resident and well-loved community member, she was active in the Keene Valley Congregational Church choir and hand bell choir, the town community garden program; she was a former member of the Keene Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

Sarah was an avid photographer and a ceramic artist, and a freelance graphic designer. She was an influential member of the science fiction fan community and publisher (in the 1980s/90s) of her own fanzine. Sarah enjoyed going to interesting places whether around the corner or halfway around the world. She loved the many dogs and cats that were constant companions in her life.

Born in Salem, Mass., Sarah was the third child of David Chandler Prince Jr. and Augusta Alger Prince. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she graduated from Walnut Hills High School. Sarah’s love of Keene Valley, N.Y., follows family ties that date back four generations as regular summer visitors.

Sarah graduated from the Ohio State University with a BFA degree. She trained in print layout and typesetting and worked in typesetting, layout and graphic arts for several publications, including Adirondack Life from 1990-93, a job which brought her to live full-time in Keene Valley. A deep curiosity about technology and a sustainable world led Sarah to Clinton Community College to study computer technology and earn an Environmental Science AA degree in May 2016.

Sarah lived with disability from mental illness and substance abuse for many years. She worked to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by herself and others. She positively touched many who were also struggling.

Sarah is survived by her mother, Augusta Prince of Hanover, N.H.; four siblings, Timothy Prince, Catharine Roth, Charlotte Hitchcock, and Virginia Prince; seven nieces and nephews; and six grand nieces and nephews.

Donations in her memory can be made to North Country SPCA or the Keene Valley Library. Arrangements have been entrusted to Heald Funeral Home, 7521 Court Street, Plattsburgh, N.Y. To light a memorial candle or leave an online condolence please visit http://www.healdfuneralhomeinc.com


  • February 2, 1882 – James Joyce is born .

And that reminds John King Tarpinian of a story:

Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, published the novel herself in 1922, but it was banned in the United Kingdom and in the United States until 1933.  Every July Ray Bradbury and his family would vacation in France.  Ray would always visit Shakespeare and Company.  The bookshop would make sure they had a book that Ray wanted, such as first editions of Jules Verne.

(11) CREEPTASTIC. Dread Central reports “Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum to feature ‘one of the most dangerous paranormal possessions in the world’” — Peggy the Doll.

Excited about visiting Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum when it opens? Of course you are! This latest story though… this latest addition to Zak’s house of madness? Well, it’s going to be up to you whether or not you take your chances and take a look.

Zak has just informed us exclusively that he’s now in possession of the infamous “Peggy the Doll,” which he obtained from its previous owner, Jayne Harris from England. Featured on an episode of his series “Deadly Possessions,” Peggy is not for the faint of heart. It’s said you can be affected by Peggy by just looking at her… in person or in photos. As a result “Deadly Possessions” aired the episode with a disclaimer for viewers: a first for both the show and the paranormal in general.

(12) BUNK. Jason Sanford muses about “An alternate history of alternative histories”:

Ironically, the last book my grandfather read was edited by Poul Anderson, one of our genre’s early authors of alternate histories. Anderson’s Time Patrol stories, where valiant time travelers ensure history stays on its “correct” timeline, are an integral and fun part of SF’s long tradition of time travel fiction focused on keeping history pure. He also wrote a famous series of alternate history fantasies called Operation Chaos, originally published by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the 1950s. In these stories World War II was fought between completely different countries with magical creatures such as werewolves and witches.

Of course, Anderson’s stories of time travelers keeping the timeline pure and correct seem a little simplistic today, just as historical narratives today are far more complex than they were decades ago. I think this is partly because most historians now recognize how imprecisely history is recorded. History as it is written can even be called the original version of the alternate history genre, where the story we’re told deviates from what really happened.

After all, history is written by the victors, as the cliche states. Which means much of what happened in the past is left out or altered before history is recorded. And even the victors don’t name all the victors and don’t celebrate all their victories and deeds.

Theodore Sturgeon famously said that “ninety percent of everything is crap.” This applies equally to history as we know it — including the history of the alternate history genre.

(13) WHITE FLIGHT. Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel, in “Whitey on Mars”, ask if Elon Musk’s Martian proposals are part of a dream by rich and powerful people to further isolate themselves from the masses. (The title references Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 “Whitey on the Moon.”)

Musk insists that humans in fact ‘need’ to go to Mars. The Mars mission, he argues, is the best way for humanity to become what he calls a ‘space-faring civilisation and a multi-planetary species’. This otherworldly venture, he says, is necessary to mitigate the ‘existential threat’ from artificial intelligence (AI) that might wipe out human life on Earth. Musk’s existential concerns, and his look to other worlds for solutions, are not unique among the elite of the technology world. Others have expressed what might best be understood as a quasi-philosophical paranoia that our Universe is really just a simulation inside a giant computer.

Musk himself has fallen under the sway of the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, who put forward the simulation theory in 2003. Bostrom has also argued that addressing ‘existential risks’ such as AI should be a global priority. The idea that Google’s CEO Larry Page might create artificially intelligent robots that will destroy humanity reportedly keeps Musk up at night. ‘I’m really worried about this,’ Musk told his biographer. ‘He could produce something evil by accident.’

These subjects could provide some teachable moments in certain kinds of philosophy classes. They are, obviously, compelling plot devices for Hollywood movies. They do not, however, bear any relationship to the kinds of existential risks that humans face now, or have ever faced, at least so far in history. But Musk has no connection to ordinary people and ordinary lives. For his 30th birthday, Musk rented an English castle, where he and 20 guests played hide-and-seek until 6am the following day. Compare this situation with the stories recounted in Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted (2016), where an entire housing industry has arisen in the US to profit from the poverty of some families, who often move from home to home with little hope of ever catching up, let alone getting ahead.

(14) COMIC SECTION. Martin Morse Wooster says, “I think today’s Prickly City expresses the dreams of many Filers.”

(15) ANOTHER COUNTRY HEARD FROM. When the next Doctor Who is chosen, one party thinks someone besides a human deserves consideration: “New Doctor Who should be a Dalek, say Daleks”, at The Daily Mash.

The Skaro natives have petitioned the BBC for ‘better representation’ from a show which has historically ‘erased and demonised’ their proud race.

The Supreme Dalek said: “It’s not the 1960s anymore. These narratives about heroic Gallifreyans saving humanoids from extermination are outdated and offensive.

“My son is an eight-year-old New Paradigm Dalek and his eyestalk droops whenever he turns on his favourite show to see that yet again, the Daleks are the baddies.…

(16) WHEN ROBOTS LAY DOWN ON THE JOB. Fynbospress told Mad Genius Club readers about running into a wall while using Word:

Interesting quirk I learned recently on MS Word. Say you have a MilSF novel, and you haven’t added the last names, planets, etc. to the customized dictionary (So they all show as a spelling error). As you’re reading through, it pops up a window saying “there are too many spelling errors in this document to show.” And promptly cuts out the red spelling and blue grammar lines.

(17) INFERNO. JJ says, quite rightly, this photo of the West Kamokuna Skylight in Hawaii resembles sculpture of bodies being sucked into hell.

If lava has the right viscosity, it can travel across a landscape via channels. The lava either forms the channels itself or uses a preexisting one. Along the same vein, lava tubes are essentially channels that reside underground and also allow lava to move quickly. Tubes form one of two ways. A lava channel can form an arc above it that chills and crystallizes, or an insulated pahoehoe flow can have lava still running through it while outer layers freeze. Lava tubes, by their nature, are buried. However, skylights form when the lava tube collapses in a specific area and allow one to see the flow inside the tube. Tubes can collapse completely and become channels, drain out, or get blocked up.

(18) FROM BC TO DC. CinemaBlend thinks the critical success of the DC Extended Universe hinges on the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie.

While Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice struggled to please critics, most agreed that Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman was one of its few shining lights. It’s hoped that the opportunity to explore the character even more, as well as take a peak at her origin story, will help to propel the DC Extended Universe forward, especially considering all of its recent troubles regarding both its releases and the films it has in development.


(19) I’M OUT. It may look like a chocolate chip thumbscrew, but it’s Dunking Buddy!


What if there was an easier, cleaner, more enjoyable way to enjoy dunking cookies in milk. Well the world is finally in luck, and based on the response so far, it couldn’t have come sooner! Two cookie dunking lovers, like so many others out there, took it upon themselves and created a cookie dunking device that does just that!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Moshe Feder, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]


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91 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/2/17 If You Give A Kzin A Kazoo…

    Looks around: how do we know that the LHC didn’t shunt us into the wrong timeline?

    Two thumbs down, one thumbs up, and one more negative than positive. Has this been one of the better-received stories so far?

  2. (17) All I can say is, that knucklehead is likely dead by now if she kept standing on top of active lava like that. Lava doesn’t like you, lava doesn’t care, and she is not showing nearly enough caution.

    I much prefer the 4 million year old island I live on now, well away from the hole in the mantle. The Big Island is just too stark.

  3. Fifth?

    (2) Sharknado -no, not gonna. I live on an island, I can see sharks often enough in Real Life.

    (19) This item really needs that history channel “Aliens!” guy selling it, because magnets…

  4. @Soon Lee: Just off my head, Flowers for Algernon did have a favourable reception (one reviewer hated it due to its depressing nature). That Only a Mother also got more positive reviews, and Superiority seemed to have mixed reviews but sparking an interesting discussion.

  5. Soon Lee on February 2, 2017 at 9:21 pm said:

    Two thumbs down, one thumbs up, and one more negative than positive.

    Actually, I thought it was one thumbs up and one “I hated where I thought it was going, and was surprised and pleased when it didn’t go there.”

  6. 16) It is perfectly possible to disable the “grammar checker” on MS Word by writing a reasonably long novel using correct English grammar. (My favourite moment was when one character said something along the lines of “I think such-and-such”, and another agreed with him, saying “So do I”. Word helpfully corrected that to “So do me”.)

    My assumption has always been that Word’s grammar checker is written by and for dyslexic illiterate monoglot Martians, and the only reason I leave it turned on is so that it can suffer until it finally gives up and makes all its little green squiggly lines go away.

    (Martians can be dyslexic and illiterate at the same time, they’re talented that way.)

  7. (2) SHARKNADO 5

    I suppose they deserve some credit for not having used a “bites back” subtitle…yet.

    (12) BUNK.

    So the real danger isn’t time travelers, it’s the people who write their school history textbooks?

    (17) INFERNO

    Yep, that looks disturbingly hellish.

    I hear The Expanse s2 has started in the US, but it looks like Netflix UK aren’t letting us have it yet. I’d flip a table at this point, but the one in front of me is fixed to the floor so I guess I’ll just have to rage silently instead.

  8. White flight. It’s not racial, but many space stories do have the idea that only the most intelligent/ brave / something will go to space leaving the useless teeming masses behind on Earth.

  9. @bookworm1389

    Unless the masses can be persuaded the planet is about to be eaten by an enormous mutant star goat and to flee on the B Ark.

  10. I do think that the history of AH gets narrowed down and a lot of it forgotten, spun off into alternate timelines, as it were and everyone remembers PKD, and everyone can name Turtledove, but, say, Susan Shwartz gets left out of the discussion entirely.
    As a corrective, Uchronia.net is definitely your friend.

    13) RE: Musk’s proposal. I do think there is a class element of “leaving the poor behind”. The movie ELYSIUM *runs* on this theme.

  11. 5) Lewis Carroll’s (deservedly) lesser-known Sylvie and Bruno contains a fairly accurate discussion of free fall, acceleration, and gravity, bearing some resemblance to Einstein’s “elevator” thought-experiment.

  12. 3) If you give a tribble a cookie, two tribbles will probably ask you for another.
    If you give two tribbles a cookies, four tribbles will probably ask you for another.
    If you give four tribbles a cookie…

  13. (2) It is a marvel to me that I can accept the illogical premise of Pacific Rim, but Sharknado makes my eyes roll. Any yet, there are those who clearly enjoyed Sharknado, because it it wasn’t making money they wouldn’t making #5.

  14. @bookworm1389 It’s not racial, but many space stories do have the idea that only the most intelligent/ brave / something will go to space leaving the useless teeming masses behind on Earth.

    It kind of is racial, though. Or at least there are many examples in which the bold pioneers are majority white with a few token Black and/or Native American people, and the teeming hordes are Chinese and Indian. (Unless it’s just that I read too much Analog/Destinies-style hard SF in my youth.)

  15. 12: just like politics, all history is local. Not so much “alternate”, but instead, colored by limited view.

    18: been trying to figure out the differences between Marvel & DC…Ironman, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, vs Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman. The Marvel heroes seem to me to be much more “morally ambiguous” than the DC crowd. We all know there’s more story in moral ambiguity….

    @Nancy Sauer:…because Sharknado is cheesey and cheap and Pacific Rim tried to take itself seriously…?

    @Simon Bucher-Jones: yes, you hit on one of the things that greatly puzzles me: they’ve got the greatest tool for casual research ever available and seem to make no use of it whatsoever…

    But then again, if recent events are anything to go by, these are people for whom World War II and the Cold War are ancient history they’re connected with as much, or as little as ancient Greece (which came first, Thermopylae or Battle of the Bulge, I can never keep those two straight).

    Precision. We’re losing our precision of thought and expression for some reason…

    Musk: ok folks, here’s the plan; we wait until the ship is almost ready to take off and then we steal it…after changing our last names to “Howard”….


    Clearly the author of that article never attempted to write a 1000 page dissertation on medieval Welsh linguistics. Not only did spellcheck give up the ghost early on, but I had to turn off most of the autocorrect capitalization features. (Welsh has a preposition “i”, no capitalization.)

  17. Musk is a good showman. I wonder how much of this stuff he really believes.

    I can’t think of a case in history where a new territory was settled by rich people. New territories get settled by people wanting to improve their situation and willing to endure hardship. If you want comfort, you stay home.

  18. (13) WHITE FLIGHT:

    The argument of “do you know how many lives could be saved by devoting X amount of money to Y instead” is flawed because once you accept that argument it will drive you insane, since it has no brakes. Cut NASA’s budget because it could be used to help humanity now. Never spend money on science fiction books, or any fiction, for that matter, because it does nothing to help humanity. Why not burn Jeremy Bentham’s preserved corpse for heat in the winter while you’re at it. It doesn’t account for diminishing returns when allocating resources and ignores benefits to humanity we can’t predict while being pressed to justify every single action taken.

    Now, Musk’s idea is flawed in that it hinges on one unacknowledged assumption; that humanity must survive. If we destroy Earth, we are entitled to a new start on Mars because we’re a sentient species and we shouldn’t get destroyed. As humans, it’s not hard to justify that reasoning, but that logic also has no brakes. If humanity needs to survive, it must spread and spread and spread endlessly, until the Cosmic AC asks the last question.

    But his position has two advantages: one, that there’s a lot of space and time before the strategy encounters the diminishing returns of its selfishness, and two, even though Musk argues that getting a stable population on Mars ASAP is the most vital thing we can do as humans, Musk isn’t (currently) arguing that this is so urgent that all money must go toward his goal.

    Of course, this all assumes that Musk’s proposal is actually a viable plan to get humans to Mars in time, but at the cost of leaving the bulk of humanity to suffer. If it isn’t, and Earth is in grave danger of getting destroyed before his Mars colony becomes self-sufficient and he could have helped prevent it, then he’s jeopardizing humanity by getting fixated on his preferred solution.

  19. (16) I work evenings and weekends with several French-language board game publishers helping localize their English translations. I often receive half-translated documents or documents with side-by-side English and French (and sometimes other languages). Word often gives up after less than two pages of non-English mixed in with the English.

  20. It’s likely SHARKANADO is making enough money to churn out the next one. It will prosper from video rentals and SYFY showings. I shudder at the thought of a marathon. Or the PHD thesis based on the films.

  21. I’m also recalling stuff said to me by my wife. One of the reasons to avoid a cable hook up is to absolutely avoid material like this. At the over ripe old age of 65, what remains of my life is too short to watch rubbish.

  22. @Simon: You am. 🙂 That column comes off as very defensive, like it was written by someone who has tied an aspect of their identity to their fiction and treats an attack on the stories they love as an attack on them personally. It feels like you’re not just nitpicking, but aggressively and angrily nitpicking their posts in order to protect your viewpoint that these are great stories and that only a defective reader would fail to see their value. If you needed to do it to get it out of your system, I think we all understand, but I wouldn’t suggest making it a regular thing.

    And I say this, by the way, as someone who grew up reading many of those exact stories–I know I’d read ‘Nightfall’, ‘Who Goes There?’, ‘Flowers for Algernon’, ‘All Summer in a Day’, and ‘That Only a Mother’ by the time I was 13, so these are inextricably tied in with my own personal nostalgia for my childhood. But I don’t think they’re above criticism, and I don’t think that you’re required to judge them by the standards of the time they were written in order to form an opinion on them.

    Honestly, it seems like that criticism in particular may be emblematic of the way that you may be grasping the wrong end of the stick on this entirely. The whole point of this isn’t to educate the young people on how science fiction was written back in the day, it’s to educate folks like you and me on ways of getting young people passionate about science fiction without hectoring them or lecturing them about not liking the things you liked when you were their age. Writing a whole blog post about how stupid they are and how they just don’t understand what it was like back then seems to be entirely counter-productive in that regard.

  23. I re read “Nightfall” several years ago. When I was 15, it was impressive. But my older self read it with a critical eye , and it failed to come alive. “Who Goes There?” still hits all the right notes and buttons.

    Getting people to Mars: would they be able to reproduce in that kind of gravity and without a magnetic core to the planet?

  24. I’m currently most interested in Moon Express; they’ve got the rights as a private company to land, rove and explore the Moon, eventually moving on towards mining – Helium3, oxygen, etc.


    But, you know, even though on the surface, all of these private efforts kind of tickle my SF funnybone, they’re just not doing it right.

    Instead of reading about what they plan to do, reading kickstarters, promoting it and themselves all over every medium, the way it is SUPPOSED to work is something like this New York Times headline:


    as in, they just went and did it, didn’t bother to ask permission from anyone, gathered together, in secret, all of the experts they’d need, moved on out to the Mojave desert and launched right before an enraged government shut them down.

  25. @steve davidson

    18: been trying to figure out the differences between Marvel & DC…Ironman, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, vs Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman. The Marvel heroes seem to me to be much more “morally ambiguous” than the DC crowd. We all know there’s more story in moral ambiguity….

    It really comes from the eras each was launched in. The main DC heroes are a heroic template drawn from myth like Hercules or Gilgamesh, set in fictional cities to play the oversided roles of heroes. Thirty years later, Marvel was working in a more evolved genre and placed their characters in the ‘real’ world, which made them impossible not to continue to evolve and grapple with change outside of the creative teams control.

    The really telling difference is secret identities. Super-Man, Wonder Woman, Bat-Man; the hero is their natural state and their secret identity is a disguise. Where as will Spider-Man, Iron-Man, etc, their heroic state is the disguise.

  26. Never scroll a pixel/Not even once or twice/The pixel will not like it/And scrolling is not nice

  27. Apropos nothing, Nnedi Okorafor’s “Binti: Home” – the sequel to Binti – was a delightful, but too short read.
    The bad part is that it ends on something of a cliffhanger, making a third book absolutely necessary. On the other hand, it ends on a cliffhanger so I take it for granted that there will be more to read from this universe.

  28. @0: “… and he’ll break it. Teach him to play, and he’ll break everybody else.” (I’m remembering a fannish parent fervently grateful to her in-laws for promising they’d never give her progeny a musical instrument.)

    @7: “ace and arophobic microaggressions”? ISTM that’s a little short of empathy for people who \aren’t/ aro (not to mention having serious parental issues)?

    @bookworm1398: the narrative varies; sometimes the ~elite are refugees (“Methusaleh’s Children”), sometimes those who are are anyone willing to work (Farmer in the Sky), and sometimes there’s clear class division among the people getting away (Rite of Passage). I suspect the leaving-the-masses-behind represents a certain political stripe, but that breed may be more likely to tell bold-pioneer stories rather than what-do-we-do-now-that-we’re-here stories.

    @steve davidson (re hijacking a starship): “Howard”? Nah, I’m going for “Kantner”.

    @steve davidson (re superheroes): the line to Superman makes many stops along the way — I’ve read arguments that a major progenitor was the golem of Prague, built for the defense of an oppressed people — but I take your point about Marvel heroes coming from a time when the idea of heroism was tarnishing. However, I’m unconvinced by your which-persona-is-the-secret-identity argument; Bruce Wayne isn’t always reliving his parents’ murders, and many of the other DC superheroes don’t have any angst at all driving them — they’re humans who step up, like those Marvel superheroes who aren’t permanently on the other side of a divide (e.g., X-Men, Vision, …).

  29. Paul Weimer says that As a corrective, Uchronia.net is definitely your friend.

    I’m not convinced of that. I tested his summing up on the one SM Stirling I really like and have read half dozen times which is The Peshawar Lancers. It’s not even close to accurate in the description he gives for the divergence point. And Stirling makes it very clear what happened detailing it in the back of the novel essays .

  30. @Cat I don’t have my copy handy, but isn’t the POD the fact that England moved the Crown to India after the Mini ice age that occurred after the bombardment mentioned in Uchronia?

    As a sidenote, this makes me realize suddenly how much the world of Peshawar Lancers is a prefigure of The Change world. (I am particularly thinking of Shikari in Galveston, here)

  31. @Paul – SM Stirlings work about Nantucket considerably predates the Peshwar Lancers
    Island in the Sea of Time came out in 1998. The Nantucket and the other Emberverse books all relate to the same change. Peshwar Lancers was largely stand alone, although all of these books revolves around a different massive die off of humanity.

  32. @airboy
    Well I was particularly thinking of the theme of fallen civilization, and cannibals, and a “rewilding” of a lot of the world that Lancers and the Change series share. “The world is mostly dangerous again and not at all tame.” The poor Nantucketers are just dumped into an ancient world that “Still” is untamed. But you are right, the Change and Nantucket books are two halves of the same Event, conceded.

  33. @steve davidson, I’m currently most interested in Planet Express. But I can’t find an online job application.

    @Chip Hitchcock, when I read “Howard”? Nah, I’m going for “Kantner”. I laughed out loud sitting alone in McDonald’s

  34. Paul says I don’t have my copy handy, but isn’t the POD the fact that England moved the Crown to India after the Mini ice age that occurred after the bombardment mentioned in Uchronia?

    Yes and he gets that right. It’s the way that the POD occurs that he gets very wrong as he says the meteor strikes covered a much wider arc than they do in the novel.

    The cause as noted in the novel is a series of meteor strikes in the northern area of the Atlantic Ocean which has the immediate effect of destroying everything on the western seaboard areas of Canada and the auSa, along with anywhere such as Ireland on the eastern side because of a massive tidal wave.

    The strikes threw a lot of material into the upper atmosphere which caused not so much an Ice Age as a general cooling trend along with more frequent rain which caused crop failures world wide for the most part.

    Now I’ll admit, having just looked at my copy, that the dust jacket text is vague as to where the strikes happen which makes it even weirder that he states where the strikes took place.

  35. @Chip. Certainly not every story has that theme. But I would include Farmer in the Sky in the elite settlers category. In this case the special quality is the “pioneer spirit”, it’s made clear that most people lack it. Only a few have what it takes.

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