Pixel Scroll 3/29/18 Two Scrolls Diverged In A Wood And I – I Took The One Less Pixeled

(1) EVERYONE MUST GET STONED. James Davis Nicoll shares “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson with the panel in the latest installment of Young People Read Old SFF.

Incredibly influential, Shirley Jackson died aged only 48 back in the 1960s. I sense that while some of her acolytes (and their students) are well known Jackson herself has declined in fame. If a young person has encountered Jackson, it’s most likely thanks to the film adaptation of The Haunting, in which an attempt to probe the secrets of an ancient house goes very badly indeed (and the second, lesser, adaptation at that.). “The Lottery” is a more constrained affair than The Haunting. It’s a simple account of annual celebration that binds a small community together. A classic or superseded by more recent works?

Let’s find out…

(2) ETHICS QUESTION. Charles Payseur asked Rocket Stack Rank to drop him from the list of reviewers they track. His thread starts here —

Although as reported in the March 27 Scroll, the RSR piece was a project by Eric Wong, it may be the case that the reviewers tracked are predominantly white, as that is the demographic of many well-known critics and bloggers. But what about the point of the project – and one of Payseur’s goals as a reviewer – to help get more eyeballs on good sff by PoCs? Therefore, isn’t RSR multiplying the effectiveness of Payseur’s reviews? Should a reviewer have a veto in a case like this? And as I do quote from Payseur in the Scroll somewhat often, I now wonder what would I do if he asked me to stop?

(3) VR. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik talked to people who say “It could be the biggest change to movies since sound. If anyone will pay for it.” He visited the Westfield Century City mall, where people can experience the 12-minute Dreamscape Immersive virtual reality production Alien Zoo for $20.  He surveys the current state of virtual reality projects and finds that many of them are sf or fantasy, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls.

The Westfield Century City mall runs a dozen of the latest blockbusters at its modern movie theater here, but recently some of the most cutting-edge entertainment was playing one story below, at a pop-up store across from Bloomingdale’s.

That’s where groups of six could enter a railed-off area, don backpacks and headsets, and wander in the dark around the “Alien Zoo,” a 12-minute virtual-reality outer-space experience with echoes of “Jurassic Park.”

By bringing the piece to the mall, “Zoo” producer Dreamscape Immersive — it counts Steven Spielberg among its investors — hopes it has cracked a major challenge bedeviling the emerging form of entertainment known as cinematic VR.

(4) GENDER MALLEABLE. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak questions “Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson on depicting gender in John Scalzi’s next audiobook”.

Next month, Audible will release the recorded version of John Scalzi’s upcoming novel Head On, a sequel to his 2014 thriller Lock In. Like Lock In — but unlike most audio editions — this release will come in two versions: one narrated by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, and the other by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson, who are each popular audiobook narrators.


When Scalzi wrote Lock In, he made a creative decision to not reveal Chris’ gender, creating a character who readers could read as male, female, or neither. He explained that he did it as a writing challenge, and realized that in this world, gender might not be easily distinguishable for a Haden using a robotic body.

(5)  FIVE DAYS TO GO. The Kickstarter appeal to fund The Dark Magazine “for two more years of unsettling fiction” has achieved 70% of its $12,500 goal with just five days remaining.

The Dark Magazine has been around for five years and in that short period of time we have published award-winning stories by new and established authors; showcased great artwork from all corners of the world; and done it all on the backs of a small team of simply wonderful people. But now it is past time to take it to the next level, and help finance the magazine for two more years to allow us to increase the subscription base, increase the pay rate from three cents to five cents a word, and increase the amount of fiction we bring to you, with double Christmas issues. Because we don’t just like dark fantasy, horror, or weird fiction . . . we love it. And it means so much to us to introduce you to unsettling and thoughtful stories every month that we want to keep on doing it, with your help.

(6) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Gordon Van Gelder shared the May/June 2018 cover for The Magaine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The cover art is by Alan M. Clark.


  • Born March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless


  • John King Tarpinian spotted an especially funny Brevity  — at least I thought it was, because I’m familiar with the collectible they’re joking about.

(9) NATURE CALLS. The next issue of Concatenation, the British SFF news aggregator, comes out in a couple of weeks, but while you’re waiting, Jonathan Cowie, lead editor of the original zine, sent along this link to the new issue of research journal Nature which carries a piece on “The ageless appeal of 2001:A Space Odyssey.

Fifty years on, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece looks more prophetic than ever, reflects Piers Bizony.

…Monoliths aside, 2001 was prescient in almost all its detailed predictions of twenty-first-century technology. For instance, in August 2011, the Samsung electronics group began a defence against a claim of patent infringement by Apple. Who invented the tablet computer? Apple claimed unique status for its iPad; Samsung presented a frame from 2001.

Samsung noted that the design claimed by Apple had many features in common with that of the tablet shown in the film clip — most notably, a rectangular shape with a display screen, narrow borders, a flat front and a thin form. In an era when computers still needed large rooms to accommodate them, Kubrick’s special-effects team rigged hidden projectors to enliven devices that looked as though you could hold them in one hand. Only the need to trim the film’s running length prevented ingenious mock-ups of touch-sensitive gaming screens and electronic newspapers from making the final cut.

(10) OFF WITH ITS HEAD. Can social media be saved? Should it? That’s the question Kevin Roose tries to answer in a New York Times column.

I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary — or your unease when you see a child watching YouTube videos, knowing she’s just a few algorithmic nudges away from a rabbit hole filled with lunatic conspiracies and gore. Or maybe it was this month’s Facebook privacy scandal, which reminded you that you’ve entrusted the most intimate parts of your digital life to a profit-maximizing surveillance machine.

Our growing discomfort with our largest social platforms is reflected in polls. One recently conducted by Axios and SurveyMonkey found that all three of the major social media companies — Facebook, Twitter and Google, which shares a parent company with YouTube — are significantly less popular with Americans than they were five months ago. (And Americans might be the lucky ones. Outside the United States, social media is fueling real-world violence and empowering autocrats, often with much less oversight.)

(11) THE MATTER. “Ghostly galaxy may be missing dark matter”. i.e., it apparently doesn’t have any.

An unusually transparent galaxy about the size of the Milky Way is prompting new questions for astrophysicists.

The object, with the catchy moniker of NGC1052-DF2, appears to contain no dark matter.

If this turns out to be true, it may be the first galaxy of its kind – made up only of ordinary matter. Currently, dark matter is thought to be essential to the fabric of the Universe as we understand it.

(12) L’CHAIM! Shmaltz Brewing’s latest Star Trek beer is “Terrans Unite India Pale Lager.”


Available in 4-Packs and on Draft.

MALTS: 2-Row, Pilsen, Patagonia 90
HOPS: Pacific Gem, Centennial
5% ABV

What if there was another world, a world that appeared similar to our own, with the same people, the same places, and even the same advancements in technology, but a world in which the motives and ethics of its inhabitants were turned upside down? The heroic now villainous and the noble corrupt, valuing power over peace and willing to obtain their desires by any means necessary – this is the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe.

Our universe may feel villainous and corrupt at times, but we can still find comfort in good friends and tasty beer. By spanning north and south, east and west, continents and traditions, Mirror Universe blends ingredients bringing together the world of brave new craft brewing. HOPS – MALTS – LAGER – UNITE!

(13) EXCEPT FOR ALL THE REST. Panoply took flak for appearing to overlook how far other podcasting pioneers have already taken the medium.

Here’s an example of the feedback:

(14) LEARNING FROM WAND CONTROL. Washington Free Beacon editor Alex Griswold, in “Harry Potter Is An Inspiring Parable About #Resisting Gun Control”, argues that “I’ve read all seven (Harry Potter) books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.”

…Even if you buy into the notion that fantasy books should dictate our policy, I find it surprising that so many of the children who read Harry Potter came away thinking we need more gun control. I’ve read all seven books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.

Instead of guns, wizards in Harry Potter use wands for self-defense. Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone’s packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It’s an inspiring example the United States should strive towards.

But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it’s a racist, corrupt and selectively enforced. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, we learn that the Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid has been forcibly disarmed after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. When government officials again come to falsely arrest Hagrid, he lacks any means of self-defense….

(15) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. New Statesman advised “Forget Facebook, Russian agents have been pretending to be furries on Tumblr”.

Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Bannon. Russians pushing propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but did you know that Russian agents were posing as furries on Tumblr to destabilise the crucial ‘Riverdale stans’, K-Pop obsessive, secretly-looking-at—‘arty’-porn in the office demographic? Because they were. And Tumblr just admitted it.

(16) REN AND STIMPY CREATOR ACCUSED. Buzzfeed tells “The Disturbing Secret Behind An Iconic Cartoon”.

Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice were teenage Ren & Stimpy fans who wanted to make cartoons. They say they were preyed upon by the creator of the show, John Kricfalusi, who admitted to having had a 16-year-old girlfriend when approached by BuzzFeed News….

In the summer of 1997, before her senior year of high school, he flew her to Los Angeles again, where Byrd had an internship at Spumco, Kricfalusi’s studio, and lived with him as his 16-year-old girlfriend and intern. After finishing her senior year in Tucson, the tiny, dark-haired girl moved in with Kricfalusi permanently at age 17. She told herself that Kricfalusi was helping to launch her career; in the end, she fled animation to get away from him.

Since October, a national reckoning with sexual assault and harassment has not only felled dozens of prominent men, but also caused allegations made in the past to resurface. In some ways, the old transgressions are the most uncomfortable: They implicate not just the alleged abusers, but everyone who knew about the stories and chose to overlook them.

(17) TRAILER PARK. The Darkest Minds, due in theaters August 3, sure has a familiar-sounding plot:

When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.

(18) SCOOBYNATURAL. Daniel Dern found this video via io9. Dern leads in: “Yes, there was the Farscape episode which turned the characters (and action) into an animated cartoon sequence. And the Angel episode where Angel got turned into a large-ish puppet. (That was fun.) And now this…”

“…as in, the Supernaturalists (if that’s the right word) somehow end up in a Scooby episode. (Note, this isn’t a show I’ve watched, and not clear I will catch this episode, but I’m glad I know about it.)”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

70 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/29/18 Two Scrolls Diverged In A Wood And I – I Took The One Less Pixeled

  1. (6) I see they’re taking the Majora’s Mask novelization in an unexpected direction

  2. (1) coincidentally, I came across this piece reporting on a Pasadena City College professor that noticed a change in student responses to The Lottery over the years.

    (10) Social networks are a reflection of the people using them. Maybe technology isn’t the problem?

    (13) Which seems like a good note upon which to recommend the geek-oriented podcast/radio theater of The Sarcastic Voyage. (they’ve received at least one nomination for a Hugo this year…)

    (14) As others noted, the analogy breaks down pretty quickly. That is particularly true if one is focused solely on the wands tools while ignoring the larger social/cultural issues as well as the character of the people holding them. The wizarding government of HP becomes somewhat frozen by administrators who are either inept or who have been compromised by Voldemort. As a result, wizards who might otherwise expect a speedy government response to lethal threats find themselves in the position of either choosing to act in self-defense, to acquiesce to Voldemort and his followers, or to be killed.

    At that point, having the right to possess a wand becomes the difference between life and death.

    The tor.com article also misses the point. They mistake the wand for the person holding it. Voldemort uses killing curses because he places his own whims above the lives of others. HP (and others) use their wands to disarm because they value the lives of others….even Voldemort. Wands are tools. The difference is in the character of the respective people holding them.

    @Craig Miller

    But they all also have years and years of training and instruction from experts on how to use those wands responsibly.

    Most of what we see in the HP books are children attending school. Yet Hagrid was kicked out of school and still managed to keep and use his wand. Surely there are some wizards that operate on the edges of wizard-dom that do not enjoy the privilege of a Hogwart’s education yet still know how to use wands??

    Here in 5188, fusion power plants and impulse drives have allowed humanity to colonize the entire solar system. Humanity has evolved into 8 unique species. And Natalie Cole singing a duet with Nat King Cole is still the most heavenly bit of audio goodness.

    This Tagline is OFF TOPIC! (as if the rest of the message wasn’t)

  3. If an author asked me to take down a review or not review their work I WOULD DO THAT. You know what ethics I respect? The ethics of consent. Perhaps this makes me a terrible reviewer. Fine.
    Payseur is of course answerable to no one in his adopted reviewing ethics, but as a critical stance I think this is completely untenable: its logical endpoint is to reduce all reviewing and criticism to a tool of author self-promotion.

  4. Lis Carey on March 29, 2018 at 11:36 pm said:

    (1) Hey! Mikayla almost didn’t dislike it! That doesn’t happen often does it?

    I’ve now reached the age of wanting the kids off my lawn.

    Jon Ault on March 30, 2018 at 9:49 am said:

    I don’t agree with this. It’s one thing for Payseur to ask that his reviews not be used as part of RSR’s aggregation of reviews. It’s another thing entirely to suggest that authors should have veto power over reviews of their work. “Oh, you didn’t give me 5 stars on Amazon? Please delete your rating & never rate my books again.” I don’t think that ends well for anyone.

    If an author doesn’t like getting reviews, then reviewers should agree to show solidarity and never mention the existence of their books in any way again. That’ll give them what they want.

  5. 2) Here we go. He could have just asked that they not include him and that would have been fine. Why give a reason? Unless his SJW point level was dropping. Getting all ‘high-horsey’ on Twitter just made him look petty.

    16) Am I the only person who wondered “Where are her parents?” Or some ADULT? Granted, in my rather extended family there would have been someone checking this guy out and then checking out the living situation. (Oh? You’ll be living with the 40 year old guy? Like that’s gonna happen)

  6. Harold Osler: Why give a reason? Unless his SJW point level was dropping. Getting all ‘high-horsey’ on Twitter just made him look petty.

    Please don’t do this. I totally disagree with Payseur here (other than that the “Best” title was inappropriate, and that RSR would do well to diversify the reviewers which it aggregates), but you are implying that he doesn’t actually believe what he is saying and he is just trying to get brownie points with a certain group of people. (Quick tip: he doesn’t need brownie points with those people; his credibility as an advocate for diversity is firmly established.)

    It pisses me off when Puppies and neocons say things like this — and I want Filers to be better than that. Filers should be better than that.

    ETA: When someone uses the term “SJW” unironically, it’s not the person they are commenting on who looks petty.

  7. I find Payseur’s idea of letting creators control what is being said about their works abhorrent and he comes off with lowered credibility because of this.

    Havinh said that, I can understand that you don’t want your reviews to be part of a point system for aggregation purposes. But politely asking to be removed is a better idea than holding speeches on consent which you disregard the minute afterwards.

  8. I think Payseur would have done better to request
    1) that the title “Best SF/F by People of Color” be changed to “SF/F by People of Color”
    2) that instead of dropping Payseur, RSR add to their list several diverse reviewers, such as those listed by Sean Wallace above

    I mean, that would be ideal, but RSR has a history of responding with defensiveness, bluster and weird misinterpretations of data whenever it is called out on anything significant. Even the blow-up over non-binary pronouns provoked an apology and commitment to change that were partial at best, and failed to satisfy much of the community that was pushing the issue.

    I can’t blame Payseur for not engaging constructively, because I don’t believe that the hypothetical changes he could have suggested would actually have happened, and he’s clearly had enough engagement with the site to come to that conclusion as well. If the available choice was between “deeply problematic best-of list that uses data by overwhelmingly white reviewers, that I am implicated in”, and “deeply problematic best-of list that uses data by overwhelmingly white reviewers, that I am not implicated in”, I know what I’d pick, even if it’s regrettable that the list itself remains unfixed.

  9. Lis Carey:

    (1) Hey! Mikayla almost didn’t dislike it! That doesn’t happen often does it?

    Reminds one of the old commercial. “Let’s get Mikayla. She hates everything!” “She likes it! Hey, Mikayla!” (And no doubt this joke’s been made before.)

  10. They scroll you when you’re clicking on a link
    They scroll you when you’re trying to sit and think
    They scroll you when the Hugo list comes out
    They scroll you when you’re trying to be devout
    Well I would not feel like I’ve been trolled,
    Eeeeeerrrrrrybody must get scrolled!

  11. @Ferret Bueller–

    Reminds one of the old commercial. “Let’s get Mikayla. She hates everything!” “She likes it! Hey, Mikayla!” (And no doubt this joke’s been made before.)

    Great minds think alike! It’s exactly what I had in mind. 🙂

  12. @Arifel

    I can’t blame Payseur for not engaging constructively, because I don’t believe that the hypothetical changes he could have suggested would actually have happened, and he’s clearly had enough engagement with the site to come to that conclusion as well.

    Actually, his request to be removed is the first time Payseur has engaged with us at all. We have each other’s e-mail addresses, but he’s never sent me anything nor been willing to reply to anything I sent him. This was actually his first ever tweet that even had @rocketstackrank in it.

    So it’s not fair to say that we have a history of failing to respond to requests. He (and his associates) have a history of trying really hard not to communicate with us.

  13. @ingvar

    OK, by the bay window in the ground floor bar it is. 13:00 I hope there’ll be a seat for me as I can’t stand for long.

  14. FYI. I’ve updated the title to “Outstanding SF/F by People of Color”. Thanks for the feedback. (Let me know if that’s still inappropriate and I could update it again.)

  15. Oh weird, following Greg’s post about his Twitter interaction with Payseur, I realized I’m blocked by one of Payseur’s Twitter followers. I’ve never tweeted or liked or re-tweeted or interacted in any way on Twitter other than following people. I suspect Payseur’s follower (I won’t post their handle, as I suspect they’d quickly go off it and claim they were being swatted and/or doxxed) has chain blocked anyone following Greg Hullender. I get the point of using that for eg Gators, Puppers, and other serial harassers but yeesh.

  16. @kathodus: Oh good grief. For the umpteenth time, I’m so glad I don’t actually use Twitter. What a bizarre place.

  17. Meh. People can, and generally should, block whoever they like, however they like. Not gonna criticize anyone for that; it’s the one control mechanism Twitter actually has.

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