Pixel Scroll 3/18/18 The Beast That Scrolled ‘Fifth!’ At The Heart Of the World

(1) LA VINTAGE PAPERBACK SHOW. John King Tarpinian snapped a photo of the full house at today’s event. I staffed the Loscon table for a couple of hours, then unfortunately need to retreat home and nurse a bad back.

(2) CITY BEAT. Adam Whitehead attended a preview of the first episode of The City and the City, the BBC adaptation of China Miéville’s 2009 novel.

The first ten minutes or so are a bit rough, especially for readers of the novel who may be surprised by how incredibly faithful it is to the novel one moment and how it goes off on its own tangent the next: there are major additions to the cast of characters and story. This makes sense: the episode was longer than the standard hour (I didn’t get the exact runtime but it seemed to be around 65-70 minutes) and there are four of them, which means the TV show is in the unusual position of having more time to tell the story than the relatively short novel has (which barely scrapes 300 pages). The new material is, for the most part, well-judged and intelligently deployed. Giving Tyador a wife seemed an unnecessary change, but by having her vanish in a suspected act of Breach immediately personalises the strange situation in the city: rather than the split (and Breach) being remote forces Tyador is aware of, they are instead deeply personal affronts that frustrate him. It gives the premise an immediacy not present in the novel but which works wonderfully on screen.

(3) WEIRD TONGUE. Aeon explains why “English is not normal” – “No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language.”

…Finally, as if all this wasn’t enough, English got hit by a firehose spray of words from yet more languages. After the Norse came the French. The Normans – descended from the same Vikings, as it happens – conquered England, ruled for several centuries and, before long, English had picked up 10,000 new words. Then, starting in the 16th century, educated Anglophones developed a sense of English as a vehicle of sophisticated writing, and so it became fashionable to cherry-pick words from Latin to lend the language a more elevated tone.

It was thanks to this influx from French and Latin (it’s often hard to tell which was the original source of a given word) that English acquired the likes of crucified, fundamental, definition and conclusion. These words feel sufficiently English to us today, but when they were new, many persons of letters in the 1500s (and beyond) considered them irritatingly pretentious and intrusive, as indeed they would have found the phrase ‘irritatingly pretentious and intrusive’. (Think of how French pedants today turn up their noses at the flood of English words into their language.) There were even writerly sorts who proposed native English replacements for those lofty Latinates, and it’s hard not to yearn for some of these: in place of crucified, fundamental, definition and conclusion, how about crossed, groundwrought, saywhat, and endsay?

(4) FIND AND FLAG. In March, Rocket Stack Rank reviewed 65 stories from 10 magazines, of which 20 are free online, 2 are translations, and 13 by new writers. Greg Hullender also reminds readers about the blog’s new features:

Our March 2018 Ratings Page uses our new UI, which allows readers to rearrange the data to taste. For example, it’s easy to display stories grouped by:

The highlights can be toggled independently of grouping, of course.

Stories can also be flagged and rated by fans to indicate things like:

  • Stories to read later.
  • Stories they do not want to read later.
  • Stories for their Hugo longlist/shortlist.

The results of all the flagging show up on the My Ratings page, which is useful to manage your reading during the year and for award nominations at the end of the year.

We also updated the January 2018 and February 2018 Monthly Rating pages to use the new format, so people who want to maintain a complete list for 2018 can do so. The red highlights in these two lists indicate stories that were recommended by anyone, not just RSR. The March list will get those highlights on April 1.

(5) HALDEMAN. At The Archive, “Author Joe Haldeman on How the Vietnam War Gave Him Something to Write About”.

…From the settled and perhaps rueful perch of a septuagenarian writer, looking back a half-century into the very unsettled sixties, a couple of questions do now beg to be answered:

Would you have been a writer without the experience of Vietnam? What else might you have done?

I think I would have been a writer of some sort, since I’d started scribbling stories and cartoons and poems when I was about ten. I had no encouragement except from my mother, but she liked them well enough to bind them into little books with her sewing machine. (They would be around now as embarrassing juvenilia, but my father, a neatness freak, found them and burned them.)

But the long habit of writing, to paraphrase a title I would later use, was well entrenched long before I was drafted and sent off to save America from the Communist Menace. I didn’t think of it at the time, but without the war I wouldn’t have much to write about: it gave me a consistent subject and point of view for one remembered year—and the timeless theme of one man’s survival in a hostile universe….

(6) THE IMMIGRANT’S PLIGHT. Erin Horáková has a fine review of “Paddington 2” at Strange Horizons.

…Perhaps to immigrate is not what it once was, because the nature of our struggles has changed—though “immigration” means many things, and for many contemporary refugees the process is so awful and fraught as to defy any such ameliorating comparison. Old sins have new names, and all that’s “post” is prologue. Yet in a vital way to be an immigrant, to live as an immigrant, is already to have succeeded against great odds. It is to have made a voyage, and to make it again every day in miniature. To feel they journey’s echoes in your bones, even ten years on, when you raise children in a new land. Always. Even when you “belong.”

This opening sequence shows us Paddington’s life as a success, as a blessing, as a source of pride for himself and those who love him. Silly, fallible, mess-making Paddington, who is good in small things, and through this great in goodness. The film makes several nods to the amusing misunderstandings and clumsy mishaps of Michael Bond’s Paddington series. I slightly feel that the way the films merely tip the hat to this aspect of the source material before moving on is due to the late-capitalist cult of productivity and achievement. Even in comic children’s fiction, messing up, not Being Useful in some work-like capacity, feels too cringey, too high stakes. I myself have an awful fear of failure and embarrassment, and so wince through the Amelia Bedelia-ish incidents when reading the books. Yet the films’ redirection of emphasis does serve an important narrative purpose: it enables Paddington escape being a stupid immigrant caricature, allowing him both difference and dignity, both failure and worthiness of love. When Paddington’s whimsical approach to his window-cleaning business succeeds after some false starts, we have our cake and eat it. I ultimately feel the film is performing a good update of the series. The movie’s doing its own thing, minimising one aspect of the books’ formula to focus on its own projects….

(7) MISTER ROGERS FOREVER. CNN says “Mister Rogers is coming to a post office near you”.

The stamp is set for release on March 23 and will be introduced through a free dedication ceremony at WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio in Pittsburgh, which will be open to the public.

It spotlights the cherished children’s television star along with one of his show’s prominent puppets, King Friday.

(8) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. (Wait, that was Evita…) The Washington Post’s Peter Marks, in “Fans of the books will love Broadway’s Harry Potter — but will others?”,  discusses how Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is coming to Broadway with seven members of the London cast and how competitors have put off mounting other plays on Broadway because they know Harry Potter will crush the competition.  (Tickets for both parts of Cursed Child currently sell for $1,217 on Ticketmaster.)

Marks also visits the Harry Potter Shop in London and finds it loaded with goodies, including a personalized letter of admission to Hogwarts for 15 pounds.

In King’s Cross railway station, at the approximate location of Platform 9¾ , there bustles a small commercial temple of the multibillion-dollar Harry Potter kingdom. Within the well-stocked walls of the Harry Potter Shop, you can conduct a merchandise sweep the likes of which might cause even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to collapse in swooning contemplation of licensing checks yet to be cashed.

(9) YOU DON’T SAY. Well, duh: “Virtual cash helps cyber-thieves launder money, research suggests”.

Between $80bn (£57bn) and $200bn of cash generated by cyber-crime is laundered every year, said Dr McGuire drawing on a study by US analyst firm Rand released in early 2018.

A significant chunk of that cash is piped through various crypto-currencies and digital payment systems in a bid to hide its origins, said Dr McGuire, who carried out the research for security firm Bromium. The study sought to understand the wide range of methods that cyber-crime gangs used to clean up cash they extract from individuals and businesses.

(10) HOW TO EXPLORE THE FUTURE. The “Imagining the History of the Future: Unsettling Scientific Stories” conference takes place March 27-29 at Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, UK:

The future just isn’t what it used to be… not least because people keep changing it. Recent years have seen a significant growth of academic and public interest in the role of the sciences in creating and sustaining both imagined and enacted futures. Technological innovations and emergent theoretical paradigms gel and jolt against abiding ecological, social, medical or economic concerns: researchers, novelists, cartoonists, civil servants, business leaders and politicians assess and estimate the costs of planning for or mitigating likely consequences. The trouble is that thinking about the future is a matter of perspective: where you decide to stand constrains what you can see

With confirmed plenary speakers Professor Sherryl Vint (University of California, Riverside, USA) and Professor Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent, UK) this three-day conference will bring together scholars, practitioners, and activists to explore ways in which different visions of the future and its history can be brought into productive dialogue.

(11) BRING YOUR OWN PLUTONIUM. O’Reilly Auto Parts carries a listing for a Flux Capacitor.

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  • Gigawatts: : 1.21
  • Material Compatibility: : Plutonium
  • Working Speed (mph): : 88 mph
  • Maximum Power: : 1.21 Gigawatts

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Time Travel at your own RISK!!!

  • Plutonium is required to properly operate Flux Capacitor.
  • Plutonium is used by the on-board nuclear reactor which then powers the Flux Capacitor to provide the needed 1.21 Gigawatts of Electrical Power.
  • Plutonium not Available at O’Reilly Auto Parts. Please contact your local supplier.
  • Flux Capacitor requires the stainless steel body of the 81-83 DeLorean DMC-12, V6 2.9L , to properly function.
  • Once the time machine travels at 88 mph (142 km/h), light coming from the flux capacitor pulses faster until it becomes a steady stream of light. Then, time travel begins.
  • Upgrade Kits available: Part # 121GMF

(12) AVENGERS TRAILER. Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War – Official Trailer.

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

88 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/18/18 The Beast That Scrolled ‘Fifth!’ At The Heart Of the World

  1. Evening. For it is just after 7pm on March 19, 2018 here.
    (Though the File770 time machine claims it is actually 3.21pm, March 19, 7744.)

  2. (2) CITY BEAT.

    I was a bit sceptical how they would shoot this but Whitehead’s review gives me optimism. The mention that they used Manchester and Liverpool for the two cities is a bit on the nose though.

    (8) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN

    The shop at Kings Cross is actually between platforms 8 and 9, natch. It started out as a simple photo-op of a luggage trolley stuck halfway into the wall, which you could take a photo at for free. Later they installed the shop to sell “official” photos, plus an impressive range of merchandise. It’s always absurdly busy.

    A more interesting Potter shop in London is the House of MinaLima which is an exhibition-cum-shop by the graphic designers for the films, so lots of posters and newspapers and so on.

  3. Wow, this is the first I’d heard of a City and the City adaptation. I’m pretty stoked, even if it’s not a perfect adaptation. (And when is it ever?)

    Thinking about it, it really is one of the few Miéville that could be adapted, though, isn’t it? I mean, I’d love to see Railsea, but I can’t imagine any way it could possibly be filmed. I’m not even sure animation and cgi are up to the task! 😀

  4. Xtifr comments Thinking about it, it really is one of the few Miéville that could be adapted, though, isn’t it? I mean, I’d love to see Railsea, but I can’t imagine any way it could possibly be filmed. I’m not even sure animation and cgi are up to the task! ?

    I think Kraken which is set in London could be filmed and King Rat set in that city as well could be also filmed.

  5. (10) Ideally placed to help people to warm up for Follycon in Harrogate over the Easter weekend.
    Speaking of which, if anyone would like to buy my Folloycon membership off me then please get in touch. Cheaper than buying direct from the Con.

  6. @Andrew — It put me in mind of exactly the same thing, except I couldn’t remember the title or the author, so thanks!

    2) — I really hope it’s good. They didn’t ask me, but my own preference for filming would’ve been to have minimal special effects; just give the inhabitants & structures of the two cities very distinct visuals, and then use very complicated choreography to have everybody going about their daily business but only seeming to interact with their appropriate city — a bit like the sequence in The Matrix when Neo & Morpheus are walking through the crowd before the lady with the red dress appears.

    Unrelatedly, I watched Return to Oz last night. That’s a seriously underrated film; I admit I was one of the people who completely skipped over it when it first came out.

  7. Some pretty misleading information in that flux capacitor ad. Only early prototypes needed the amount of power only providable by nuclear fission or fusion. Later models are so efficient that they can run on steam power from a wood-burning furnace.

  8. Hunh, my comment went poof.
    11–Not available for purchase. Pity, I might have bought one. I suspect if I search, there is probably a usb or power socket powered toy that looks like a flux capacitor.

    3–This and the passing of Karen Anderson reminds me of Uncleftish Beholding, which shows that, yeah, English without all of its loan words would be awfully like Anglo-Saxon languages, and with them is…well, something strange.

    There is a Melvin Bragg (the guy who does IN OUR TIME for the BBC) book on the history of English I keep meaning to read…

  9. @Darren that must be the third movie, which I tend not to rewatch or remember. Perhaps a bit unfairly, but for the most part westerns are not something I watch. I’m horribly underwatched in that category of movie. Maybe its my East Coast roots growing up and not yet being into such landscapes.
    (IOWm, Maybe I really need a good long trip to the desert with my camera and then I will “get” westerns more)

  10. Here in 2018, Hollywood is falling all over itself to acquire the rights to science fiction novels. Elevator pitches frequently begin with: “It’s a little like Philip K. Dick….”

  11. @Paul Weimer, a good friend has a flux capacitor phone charger mount in his car. Probably was THIS (which is, for better or worse, out of stock). The blinking honestly gets a little annoying, so he only plugs it in when needed.

  12. (7) Fred Rogers is one of the greatest Americans. I’m still affected when I see clips of him speaking quietly to a hostile, reactionary Senator and saving public broadcasting.

    An earlier Rogers show lives on in at least one venue: an LP from the late 50s. I was allowed to make a cassette tape of that, and the rips were posted at the Way Out Junk blog. The links have suffered link rot, but another helper has posted the same tracks once again at YouTube. Here’s the first one. The rest can be followed from there. There’s a lot to like in this off-kilter little musical, from the sentimental (the opening’s a bit sweet) to the simply mental (X the Owl’s poetry, Henrietta’s ‘Meow Mister Rogers’ song, Lady Elaine Fairchild’s parody of X’s song in which she explains just how special she is: “I’m a broken tooth, Darling.”) and more. I really need to make a blog post of it, so it can be online somewhere in a safe place where nobody will ever find it.

  13. Here’s the first tweet in a thread I did of all the tracks:
    https://twitter.com/kiptw/status/867019490189594624

    Some day I hope to visit the PIttsburgh library and see if I can copy out the piano-vocal score to this show that the internet says they have. I’m just about 100% sure they wouldn’t send it to me or pull a copy themselves, but if I could sit down with it, I could photograph the pages with my phone at least.

    “I even dream I’m busy.” —King Friday XIII

  14. Meredith Moment inspired by the inclusion of KJ Charles on someone’s Hugo nom list —

    For anyone who is interested in m/m UF stories (or anyone who wants to check them out), Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed is currently available at US Amazon for $0.99 . This is book 1 of an 8-book series.

    IMHO the editing on these was pretty bad, and book 1 reads kind of like a first novel, but the story is addictive. And I defy you to read book 2 without crying like a baby. No on-page sex, in case anyone is squeamish.

  15. @3: an interesting essay, although ISTM that he puts too much weight on Icelandic, which was cut off from the influences that turned Old Norse into modern Norwegian; I wonder how stable less-isolated languages have been over the last millennium. It’s tempting to counter his remarks about slings and arrows with a defense of hybrid vigor — until I remember a Piper quote to the effect that English was the result of Norman conquerors trying to make time with Saxon barmaids.

    @5: not much new for people who’ve been following Haldeman forever (although I hadn’t heard about the mom-bound books), but an interesting summary of the bits and pieces on dust jackets, Locus items, etc.

    @2: I’m going to have to find that; I thought very highly of the book and will be interested to see how they make it work on screen. I’m not sure adding material was necessary — I’m used to the approximation of a standard book page making one minute of film, which suggests ~270 minutes would not have exhausted the book — but we’ll see what happens.

  16. Oooo, second Meredith Moment —

    Not genre, but for fans of The Sparrow and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell — A Thread of Grace by Russell, first published 2005. Currently $1.99 at US Amazon.

  17. Presumably in deference to Miéville’s surname, the titles in the BBC trailers read “Thé City and thé City” (I guess the French version will be “Tea Cité et tea Cité“, then.) But it’ll be interesting to see what they make of it.

  18. “Thé City and thé City”

    This would be the previously unknown collaboration between Mieville and Leckie?

  19. Meredith Moments: Greg Bear’s Forge of God/Anvil of Stars are $1.99 and $2.99 respectively.

    Bonus moment: And Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves is $1.99.

  20. I might be the only one, but I don’t like the Piper quote. It makes me think of the power difference between the Normans and the Saxons, and the unpleasant things that could have happened if the Saxon barmaid said no. Maybe just my pessimism, though.

  21. @Lisa I am sorry if I offended you by my pleasure of the quote. Your point is a good one.

  22. Here in 1964 we dont have enough tubes to run this website.

    But if Miéville would be alive already and have written this book about two cities I would call it my second favorite Miéville story and only because Perido Street Station would be one of my absolute davorite SF books ever.

  23. Joe H. on March 19, 2018 at 4:41 am said:

    Unrelatedly, I watched Return to Oz last night. That’s a seriously underrated film; I admit I was one of the people who completely skipped over it when it first came out.

    I did see it 1st time around, have the DVD tho haven’t rewatched yet. Yeah, great flick, visually true to the early Oz artwork, a good story working from Oz books 2 and 3 (IIRC), great FX by Jim Henson’s crew, loved the animated stone face.

  24. @Daniel Dern — I think that what got me to go back and check it out was Harlan Ellison’s glowing, impassioned praise in one of his Ellison’s Watching columns. (Which, to be clear, I encountered in the Underwood Miller collection, not when they were first appearing.)

  25. @Lisa Goldstein “[The Piper quote] me think of the power difference between the Normans and the Saxons, and the unpleasant things that could have happened if the Saxon barmaid said no.”

    The full quote, even moreso: “And you know what English is? The results of the efforts of Norman men-at-arms to make dates with Saxon barmaids in the Ninth Century Pre-Atomic, and no more legitimate than any of the other results.”
    (From The Other Human Race, later retitled Fuzzy Sapiens, 1964)

    @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan — who is Bryan Maloney? Was he just copying Piper?

  26. I liked RETURN TO OZ a great deal when it came out. Fairuza Balk was a good Dorothy, more in keeping with the book than Judy Garland, and the various creatures and effects were quite well-done and full of character. At the time, I was working at the University of Houston, and my boss mentioned that she had gone and seen it with her son, then four. I asked what he thought of the electro-shock scene (at the start, so not a big spoiler), and she said that he had assumed that she was wearing headphones.

    I had read the book they based it on in sixth grade, and my feeling of betrayal from near the end of the book (I was identifying strongly with Tip, of course) was such that, even after a decade plus change, I didn’t really mind their wholesale removal of his character and replacing it with Dorothy.

  27. Bill, I went to the link, which doesn’t explain Bryan Maloney, though I was vicariously pleased to see them quote Mike Ford so many times. I more than half expected to see James Nicoll’s famous quote there as well. Then I googled Bryan Maloney, and all I got was businessmen and somebody on Facebook.

    I tried!

    Just not very hard.

  28. I would call it my second favorite Miéville story and only because Perido Street Station would be one of my absolute davorite SF books ever.

    Okay, now I’m envisioning a gritty, Game of Thrones / Altered Carbon style adaptation of Perido Street Station with lots of hot man-on-khepri action.

  29. I have now encountered 4 occurrences of the word “anyways”, said by 2 different characters, in the first 13 pages of a book published by one of the Big Five.

    What say you, Filers? Trebuchet or blowtorch?

  30. Grammar sins uttered by characters are no more proof of bad grammar by the writer than antisocial viewpoints in the same situation. This could be a social marker or some other use of dialect or colorfulness, depending on the character.

    Without knowing more, I couldn’t even wag my finger at it.

  31. JJ: Neither. I recommend a nice cup of tea and maybe a lie down.

    If uttering “anyways” in dialogue was a sin deserving of fire or flinging I would have no co-workers left.

  32. Kip W: Grammar sins uttered by characters are no more proof of bad grammar by the writer than antisocial viewpoints in the same situation. This could be a social marker or some other use of dialect or colorfulness, depending on the character. Without knowing more, I couldn’t even wag my finger at it.

    I don’t think it’s a deliberate choice in that respect. I think it’s the way the author talks, so he wrote it that way, and the (presumed) copyeditor didn’t catch it. But I would be interested in hearing your opinion.

  33. Mister Dalliard: If uttering “anyways” in dialogue was a sin deserving of fire or flinging I would have no co-workers left.

    Ah, but I don’t get to choose my co-workers. I do get to choose my books. 😀

  34. I haven’t seen Return to Oz since it first came out, so I remember pretty much nothing about it. But I do seem to recall being very annoyed that Dorothy had nothing whatsoever to do with the resolution of the story. Is that an accurate recollection?

  35. I have now encountered 4 occurrences of the word “anyways”, said by 2 different characters, in the first 13 pages of a book published by one of the Big Five.

    I blame Ellen DeGeneres. I don’t watch her show, but IIRC from tuning in at the end of it, her studio “signature phrase” thingy is Ellen sighing and saying “anyways” (instead of, for example saying “grr, argh” or “sit, ubu sit, good dog” or “shhhhhh.”

  36. “irritatingly pretentious and intrusive”

    Recently (at least in Roman Catholic Church terms) a new English translation was inflicted on us, including replacing “cup” with “chalice”. Now, that may be closer to the original Latin than “cup”, but “chalice” is also an English word that still hasn’t had the pretentiousness rubbed off; it inevitably puts me in mind of the ancient Crusader from the Indiana Jones movie: “He chose… poorly.”

  37. @Jeff Smith — I suppose it depends.

    Qbebgul jnf gur bar gb oernx gur Abzr Xvat’f phefr (ol pbeerpgyl thrffvat gung crbcyr sebz Bm jrer ghearq vagb terra beanzragf). Gur Abzr Xvat jnf npghnyyl xvyyrq zber-be-yrff ol nppvqrag, gubhtu — ur nppvqragnyyl vatrfgrq na rtt ynvq ol gur puvpxra Ovyyvan, jub jnf uvqvat va Wnpx Chzcxvaurnq’f chzcxva urnq nf gur Abzr Xvat gevrq gb rng uvz [Wnpx].

  38. @Joe H — Thanks. It seems like a pretty unsatisfying resolution, but at least Dorothy had something to do with it.

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