Pixel Scroll 3/13/18 “Use The Porgs, Luke!”

(1) DON’T PAY TO PLAY. Jason Sanford has a twitter thread about another dodgy publisher – start here:

(2) TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Amanda S. Green has a very sensible take about the disappearing Amazon review kerfuffle: “On Reviews” at Mad Genius Club.

But, before you start all this take a step back and then take a deep breath and ask yourself if you or the reader who left the review might have fallen afoul of the rules. I know how easy it is to tell your other writer friends that you’ll review their work if they review yours. You might not even do it in so many words. The problem is, in this day and age of technology, Amazon’s computers will start seeing patterns and will pull reviews that fit those patterns. Is it fair? Waggles hands. It is, however, in the rules and we agree to those rules when we open our Amazon accounts and when we then open our KDP accounts. This is why you need to be sure you read those ToS agreements before completing your account setup.

Reviews are the best advertising we have for our books. They are a way of telling potential readers we’ve put something out that is worth not only their time but their money as well. Amazon recognizes that. It also recognizes the fact the system is easily gamed and that is what these rules are designed to prevent. The rules aren’t perfect but they are the best we have right now. None of us want to return to the days of rampant sock puppet reviews — or at least we shouldn’t. After all, most readers will look askance at a book by an indie author with hundreds of reviews and not a one under 4-star. You need those lower level reviews to give legitimacy to your work.

So, if you are one of those authors who found reviews suddenly missing, contact Amazon and ask what happened. Review the ToS about reviews and move forward. Yes, it’s hard losing reviews but you’ll do yourself more good writing your next book than spending hours on the internet whinging about how evil Amazon is.

(3) DEMISE OF STEAMPUNK WORLD’S FAIR. Airship Ambassador reports “Steampunk World’s Fair – Cancelled”.  The former management was deposed after sexual abuse allegations, but the group trying to pull off  rescue has decided the task is impossible

After several weeks of discussions, and publicized business changes, following posts in late January revealing sexual abuse allegations,

Sexual abuse allegations crawling out of steampunk community (TW)

Time to Name Drop and Protect Newbies

the Silver Phoenix Society announced On February 20,2018, it was taking over the production of Steampunk World’s Fair.

…However, it was announced tonight, March 13, 2018, on the Steampunk World’s Fair Facebook page that Silver Phoenix Society’s involvement in the event was ending, effectively cancelling the May 2018 festival.

Screencaps of relevant Facebook posts and links to background articles can be found at Airship Ambassador.

(4) THOR FX. A BBC video about “The visual effects behind Thor 3” relates the fun of having to be able to redo everything at the last minute, and the skinny on mixes of CGI and live action — sometimes keeping just the face so the body could interact with (e.g.) lightning.

Al Moloney talks to Alexis Wajsbrot, the visual effects supervisor for Thor: Ragnarok. He explains how characters like the Hulk and Korg were brought to life.

(5) HAWKING OBIT. Dr. Stephen Hawking died March 14. The New York Times reports: “Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76”.

…“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.

Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. The 2014 film about his life, “The Theory of Everything,” was nominated for several Academy Awards and Eddie Redmayne, who played Dr. Hawking, won the best-actor Oscar.

Scientifically, Dr. Hawking will be best remembered for a discovery so strange that it might be expressed in the form of a Zen koan: When is a black hole not black? When it explodes.

What is equally amazing is that he had a career at all. As a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given only a few years to live.

The disease reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements but left his mental faculties untouched.

(6) DOWN TO THE WIRE. With the Hugo nominating deadline upon us, Doctor Science shares a longlist: “Brainstorming my Hugo nominations: Best Novel and Best Series”.

Hugo nominations have to be in by Friday, so I’m going to put up my longlist and hope the process of writing helps me make up my mind. I’m resurrecting my goodreads account to better keep track of what I’ve read (and what I started but did not finish, and why).

I thought I had already written and posted reviews of most of these, but apparently I wrote many only in my head….

(7) ISHER AND TRANTOR. Meanwhile, Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club tackles “Retro Hugos 1943 — Short Stories” and tries to put the contenders in the context of the time.

If there had never been another story published in the Foundation universe, The Encyclopedists would

have stood on its own – it encapsulates essentially all of the big ideas of the series: the mathematics of history, the decline and fall of an empire, and the ennobling positivist view of the ability of humanity to alter its destiny. While later stories built on this foundational story, everything that makes the Foundation series great was right there in this initial blueprint.

In this story, Asimov offers us the series’ most unforgettable – and quotable – protagonist Salvor Hardin, the mayor of Trantor. In the context of when this story was published, just five months after Pearl Harbor, his famous quote “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” might be seen as an surprising anti-war exhortation.

(8) WHEN NO MAN PURSUETH. Just to make sure there’d be some drama, before he went to FOGcon, Jon Del Arroz ran this twitter poll:

Broadcasting what, you might ask? You weren’t the only one. Jon gives his version in: “Someone Tried To Get Me Kicked Out Of A Sci-Fi Convention… And You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next!” [Internet Archive]

…The man proceeded to grill me, rattling off questions in a challenging manner. “What are you doing here? Why? Are you intending on broadcasting here? Are you going to be bothering anyone?” They came in rapid succession, challenging…. I finally told him “this tone is getting pretty hostile,” as I wasn’t sure what he was getting at at all.

This is where things changed. His eyes widened a little and he said, “Oh!” The man dropped to his knees and smiled. “I’m 6’8? I guess that can be a little intimidating. Is this better?” His tone changed to something a little more humorous. Almost expertly, this man diffused the situation and the tension that had been escalating evaporated.

We started talking at length, and I learned this man was from the convention security, and that someone had complained about my presence there…

JDA was allowed to stay, and even buy a membership the next day after being vetted by the chair:

I showed up the next morning, migrated down stairs and asked to buy a ticket for the day. …I was just about to wrap up paying, when convention chairman Steven Schwartz asked me to step aside and chat with him.

It was frightening again. What was going to happen? Was this the “you need to vacate the premises” I was afraid of?

Just like the security fellow from the night before, Schwartz asked a couple of questions, his tone was pleasant, he had genuine concern — not only for the safety of others, but what blew me away was he was concerned for my safety as well. He asked some questions based on the absurd rumors propagated by Worldcon that I was some boogeyman, I let him know I never intended anything of the sort at any con nor even implied it — for FOGCon or Worldcon, and Schwartz took me as a man of my word (which I am), and told me if anyone tried to attack or harm me, he would defend me as surely as anyone else.


(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Bug Gaits for Animators” on Vimeo, Stephen Cunnane provides tips animators need to make sure bugs crawl properly.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/13/18 “Use The Porgs, Luke!”

  1. Related to an earlier scroll wherein Mike mentioned “Different Kinds of Darkness” by David Langford being on LeVar Burton Reads: I’m just catching up on some podcasts now, and I have to say that was a most excellent short story. Well worth a listen if you have a spare ~40 minutes. (Actually he rarely mis-steps with the story selection anyway, so the whole podcast is worth checking out if you haven’t gotten around to it)

    Also: people still use Periscope? I don’t really get it at all, and I was completely baffled by the sudden Periscope mania when it first came out.

  2. @Mike —

    There’s nothing to be gained by prodding JDA about this. The Worldcon committee is busy enough organizing the con.

    There’s very, VERY little danger of Worldcon actually having to deal with any lawsuit from JDA, because we all know there’s only an infinitesimal chance he’s ever gonna file. Amongst other things, he is not a person to put his own money where his mouth is — he’s only up for putting OTHER people’s money there — and he isn’t going to raise the full $10,000 he thinks he needs for attorney fees.

    I don’t want to let him delude himself that anyone is forgetting about his unfulfilled lawsuit bluster, but you are probably right that he’s been reminded enough for now. So I’ll let it rest for at least a couple of weeks, and see what does (or does not) develop!

  3. Why not let it rest until Worldcon is over? Would be better for everyone.

  4. Periscope isn’t a strictly righty thing. Their tendency to glom onto places where they’re not banned might play into it, but far as I know it’s nothing like gab.

  5. @JJ: Yay, more novel mini-reviews! I skimmed the sample of The Punch Escrow and it irritated me a little (I forget how; the voice?), but I’ll give it another shot at some point. It was still on my list, though with a mental flag of sorts. But, glad to hear it was good.

  6. Kendall: I skimmed the sample of The Punch Escrow and it irritated me a little (I forget how; the voice?), but I’ll give it another shot at some point. It was still on my list, though with a mental flag of sorts. But, glad to hear it was good.

    I remember being irritated at first, too, but it’s been several months. Maybe because the “big reveal” early on was actually a “well, no duh”? I honestly can’t remember now. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t in the category of OMG YOU HAVE TO READ THIS, it was more of a “yay, something that’s competently written which I can just read and enjoy without thinking too hard”.

  7. The only times I’ve seen Periscope used has been at concerts, both concerts I was at and concerts I caught snippets from at home. I suspect all our personal experiences about Periscope add up to something resembling how its used, but don’t consider any of them, including mine, to be all that meaningful in isolation.

  8. Thanks, y’all, for the further info about Periscope. I’m frequently not hip to the latest sites or apps (I only started actually reading Twitter regularly a couple months ago).

  9. Judging from the two books I’ve read in JJ’s post, our tastes may be somewhat scarily aligned (Kameron Hurley & Charles Stross).

    Like with Camestros, we’re all JJ.

  10. Chris S.: Like with Camestros, we’re all JJ.

    Yes, well, since according to JDA, I am now an author, I am eagerly awaiting my royalty check and my Hugo Award — and I won’t be sharing them with you lot. 😉

  11. JJ: Yes, well, since according to JDA, I am now an author, I am eagerly awaiting my royalty check and my Hugo Award — and I won’t be sharing them with you lot

    No problem, I’ve got extras you can have!

  12. I really liked Empire Games (except for the fact that it stopped in mid-plot stream, an excellent example of a first in series that does not stand alone) and enjoyed Dark State almost as much. I find Stross’s telling of the political and police/bureaucratic maneuvering in his different states and timestreams quite absorbing, and the characters interesting enough. Obviously a matter of personal taste, but it really works for me.

    JJ, thanks for these reviews.

  13. Yeah, I really enjoyed Empire Games and Dark State too – I’m just frustrated because I’d like more of it sooner; I like seeing how our world is changed over a decade and a half of a startling new threat (it’s too common just to see the immediate response to a problem, and now the aftermath – but here we see the immediate effects, the response to those effects, and so on). There was one continuity glitch I noticed towards the end of Dark State, which I’m hoping Charlie can work around in the next book
    (spoiler for Dark State: Cnhyrggr zragvbaf Ryvmnorgu Unabire, rkcrpgvat ure gb or jvgu Uhyvhf. Ohg ubj pbhyq Cnhyrggr xabj guvf, naq jul qbrfa’g gur H.F. frrz gb xabj nalguvat nobhg Ryvmnorgu? Cnhyrggr jbhyqa’g or gbyq nobhg Ryvmnorgu ol ure ANE pbagebyyre (fur unf ab arrq-gb-xabj), naq naljnl, vs fur xarj nobhg Ryvmnorgu orsber fur jnf pncgherq, gur yratgul vagreebtngvba ol gur H.F. jbhyq unir hapbirerq vg.)

  14. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 5/11/18 The Seventh Sealion | File 770

Comments are closed.