Pixel Scroll 3/4/20 Bring Me My Book Of Divine Stalk: Bring Me My Feline On A Pile: Bring Me My Fifth: O Readers Talk! Bring Me My Pixel Scrolls Of File!

(1) SF IN TRANSLATION. An overview of the year’s output at Locus Online: “SF in Translation in 2019 by Rachel S. Cordasco”.

In general, speculative fiction in translation (SFT) accounts for a very small fraction of the fiction published in English each year. This past year was no exception: 50 books (novels, collections, and anthologies) and 80 short (standalone) works of SFT made their way to Anglophone readers. While this may not sound like much, it does signify a slow but steady increase in non-Anglophone speculative fiction since the turn of the century. Not since the 1960s and ’70s have we seen such an increase, and while I can’t point to any one factor as an explanation, I imagine that the unprecedented worldwide connectivity brought about by the internet at the end of the last century, coupled with the increase in small and micro-presses and magazines that regularly publish speculative fiction, may offer a partial answer. Perhaps another factor is the growing interest of speculative fiction fans in stories that are written from a non-Anglophone perspective…

(2) LONDON’S OFF THE HOOK. Yesterday, the London Book Fair planned to carry on, even in the face of businesses dropping out because of coronavirus fears. Today, The Guardian reports it’s been cancelled.

One of the world’s biggest international literary events, the London book fair, has been cancelled over coronavirus fears, amid growing anger that the delay in calling it off was putting people’s health at risk and an unfair financial strain on publishers.

Organiser Reed Exhibitions announced on Wednesday that the escalation of the illness meant the fair, scheduled to run from 10 to 12 March, would be called off. Around 25,000 publishers, authors and agents from around the world had been due to attend the event, where deals for the hottest new books are struck.

But the event was already set to be a ghost town when it opened its doors, after publishers and rights agencies began withdrawing en masse over the last week. Some of the world’s biggest, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette had already pulled out, as had Amazon and a host of literary agencies including Curtis Brown.

(3) NO TIME TO DEBUT. Another British institution, Agent 007, has also been affected by fears of the spread of the COVID-19 flu: No Time to Die’s Release Is Delayed Seven Months Because of Coronavirus”. The 25th James Bond movie was supposed to premiere in April, but GQ reports it now will open in November. The date has been pushed back so the film can make money in Asian countries whose movie theatres are currently in trouble because of the coronavirus.

(4) ANOTHER DELAY. Even Baby Yoda is feeling the effects — “Coronavirus Has Now Affected Baby Yoda’s Impending Arrival in the U.S.”.

Now there are reports that the spread of the illness—and subsequent quarantines and travel restrictions in China—will likely impact the arrival of Baby Yoda toys.

Hasbro, which has the license for several Star Wars toys, including some dolls and figures of The Mandalorian’s breakout star, is very concerned about the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt its toy-making supply chains. CNN Business spoke to toy-industry expert Jim Silver, who said that the first batch of Baby Yoda toys, which are supposed to arrive later this month, are mostly in the clear so far. However, if things don’t return to normal by the start of the summer, Silver predicts “shortages on a litany of toys.”

In a filing released on Thursday, Hasbro admitted that it was experiencing coronavirus-related production difficulties in China, where more than 80,000 people have been infected. The company added that the flu “could have a significant negative impact on our revenues, profitability, and business.”

(5) NEXT YEAR IN HORROR. The StokerCon 2021 website has gone live. Next year’s Horror Writers Association gathering will take place in Denver, CO from May 20-23. Memberships go on sale April 20 for $150 (Early Bird Special). The next rate hike is June 30, 2020.

(6) TURNOVER ON THE MASTHEAD. Sean Wallace, Publisher of The Dark Magazine, told followers about some recent and upcoming personnel changes.

Just before the start of the new year, our reprint editor Michael Kelly stepped back from his duties to put more time and energy in his small press company, Undertow Publications, and we wish him all the best in his endeavours. And then in other somewhat-related sad news, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is also soon leaving The Dark Magazine to focus on her writing career, which is really taking off, and rightfully so. As such, her last month will be with the July 2020 issue, which we are putting together the original lineup as we type this out.

Beyond that, we have no immediate plans to hire a new co-editor, at least for the remainder of 2020, but I will be sending out a further update on this closer to the end of the year.

(7) PARSONS OBIT. Aly Parsons (1952-2020) died February 9, reports Locus Online. With her husband Paul Parsons (d. 2008), she hosted the Potomac River Science Fiction Society for 12 years, and worked on Unicons and the 2003 World Fantasy Convention. She cofounded a Washington DC writers’ group that met for decades. Her pro sales included a short story published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover anthology Sword of Chaos (1982).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 4, 1956 The Atomic Man premiered. If you saw it in the U.K., it was Tinmeslip. It was directed by Ken Hughes, and produced by Alec C. Snowden from The Isotope Man by Charles Eric Maine, who also wrote the screenplay. It starred Gene Nelson and Faith Domergue. You’ll need to watch it for yourself here to see how it is as there’s no Rotten Tomatoes ratings for it. 
  • March 4, 1958 Cosmic Monsters  (The Strange World of Planet X in the U.K.) premiered. It was produced by George Maynard and John Bash, directed by Gilbert Gunn. It starred  Forrest Tucker and Gaby André. It was a double bill with The Crawling Eye. It bombed at the Box Office, critics at the time hated it and it currently has a 6% rating among the audience at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.
  • March 4, 1977 Man From Atlantis premiered. Created by Mayo Simon and Herbert Solow, the pilot was written by Leo Katzin. It starred Patrick Duffy, Belinda Montgomery, Alan Fudge and Victor Bruno. It ran for thirteen episodes that followed four films. It was not renewed for a full season. We cannot offer you  a look at it as it’s behind a paywall at YouTube. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 4, 1905 Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders, that kind of thing of thing.” Despite that, he’s here because, he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour.“ And he was in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1933 Bernie Zuber. A fan artist who was the original vice president of the Mythopoeic Society. He was also a long-time member of LASFS who joined in the Fifties. He served as one of the first editors of Mythlore, but leftafter a falling out with the Mythopoeic Society, and became the founder and president of the Tolkien Fellowships. He published Butterbur’s Woodshed, Germinal and The Westmarch Chronicle. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 4, 1938 Paula Prentiss, 82. One of the wives of the original Stepford Wives, she also appears as Sonia Dracula in the second Mr. and Mrs. Dracula pilot in 1981 after the first pilot was deemed not workable by the network. That pilot was also not brought to series either. 
  • Born March 4, 1958 James Ellroy, 72. Ok Filers. ISFDB lists two novels by him as being genre, Blood Moon and American Tabloid. I’ve read neither but nothing that I can find on the web suggests that either is even remotely genre adjacent. Who’s read them? 
  • Born March 4, 1965 Paul W. S. Anderson, 55. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event Horizon, Alien V. Predator, Pandorum and even the forthcoming Monster Hunter which no, isn’t based off the work of a certain Sad Puppy. 
  • Born March 4, 1966 Daniela Amavia, 54. She appeared as Alia Atreides in the Children of Dune series.usually I wouldn’t include a performer fir just one genre credit, but she made a most perfect Alia that I will make an exception and do so in her case. 

(10) MAGICIANS SERIES WINDING UP. “‘The Magicians’ to End With Season 5 on Syfy”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The show’s April 1 season finale will now serve as a series ender.

Syfy will say goodbye to one of its signature shows in the spring, bringing The Magicians to a close after five seasons.

The series from Universal Content Productions, based on Lev Grossman’s novel of the same name, will air its final episode on April 1. The decision comes with five episodes remaining in the season.

(11) NAILING THAT GALLIFREYAN JELLO TO THE WALL. The finale of Doctor Who’s twelfth season prompts Paste Magazine to consider “Doctor Who and the Difficulty of Rewriting Your Own History”. BEWARE SPOILERS.  

…But sometimes, Doctor Who’s willingness to play fast and loose with things we previously knew to be true just makes its stories unnecessarily complicated without adding anything of value to them. (See also: Clara’s status as the Impossible Girl, Melody Pond growing up to be River Song or the Hybrid mystery.) It certainly feels like that’s the case in the Season 12 finale, an episode which gives the Doctor an entirely new origin story, destroys her race (again!) and creates what feels like an almost limitless number of incarnations of the character that we, as viewers, will likely never meet.

Because the question at the end of all this is: So what?

After promising a game-changing finale that would upend everything we, as viewers, understood about the show, “The Timeless Children” didn’t really live up to that promise. It actually changes very little. By the time the closing credits roll, the entire series’ universe is supposed to be different. The problem is, it’s not. Not really. There are new pieces to the story, sure. But largely those pieces exist in the same places the old ones did. So, it’s hard to tell precisely why this story matters….

Because you can’t have it both ways: Either existing Doctor Who lore is important enough that shaking it up and turning it inside out and fighting strangers on the internet about it matters, or it doesn’t. If we change the rules, those changes need to mean something, and the story that comes out of those has to be worth rewriting the things that have come before. (And you have to respect that there were rules that existed in the first place.) It’s not clear that this episode does that, regardless of whether we’re talking about the Master’s characterization, the Doctor’s past, or the apparent erasure of Rassilon from existence. If nothing is truly different in the aftermath of stories that supposedly change everything, then what’s the point of telling them? Sure, “The Timeless Children” dropped the bombshell that the Doctor is functionally immortal, but we all sort of knew that already, since she was given a new set of regenerations back when she was Eleven.

(12) FRAUD, HE SAYS. While Paste Magazine is dubious, John C. Wright is absolutely outraged (as one might expect) and calls the season-ending episode “The Death of Doctor Who”. Again, BEWARE SPOILERS.

…So the Doctor turns out to be, not an eccentric Time Lord who stole a broken TARDIS to flee into time and space for madcap adventures helping the helpless, nay.

He is in fact a foundling, a poor little black girl, who is the sole source of the regenerative ability of the Time Lords, hence the true founder of their society, not Rassilon.

…The point of message fiction is twofold.

The first, like Aesop, attempts to convey a moral maxim or lesson in a palatable fashion to influence young minds.

This can be done well or poorly, depending on whether the story rules the message, or the message rules the story.

The message itself, like any sermon, can also be well written or poorly written.

But if the message derails the story, that is fraud. The author who promises an entertainment, but delivers a lecture instead, is just as much a cheat as a bartender who charges for a mug of beer but puts a glass of buttermilk before you. Buttermilk may be better for your health, but, honestly, the bartender is not your mother, and he is not doing the job you paid him for.

Wright proceeds to condemn all of this in the strongest terms. I can only imagine how upset he might have been if he had actually watched the show, but he assures his readers —

I have not seen the episode, nor, indeed, the season, nor ever will I.

Okayyy….

(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants strike out on this one:

Category: America’s Richest Self-Made Women

Answer: Part of this author’s nearly $400 million fortune came from books she wrote under the J.D. Robb pseudonym.

Wrong question: Who is J.K. Rowling?

Right question: Who is Nora Roberts?

(14) FANTASTIC VOYAGE. NPR reports, “In A 1st, Scientists Use Revolutionary Gene-Editing Tool To Edit Inside A Patient”.

For the first time, scientists have used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to try to edit a gene while the DNA is still inside a person’s body.

The groundbreaking procedure involved injecting the microscopic gene-editing tool into the eye of a patient blinded by a rare genetic disorder, in hopes of enabling the volunteer to see. They hope to know within weeks whether the approach is working and, if so, to know within two or three months how much vision will be restored.

“We’re really excited about this,” Dr. Eric Pierce, a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, who is leading a study that the procedure launched, tells NPR.

“We’re helping open, potentially, an era of gene-editing for therapeutic use that could have impact in many aspects of medicine,” Pierce says.

The CRISPR gene-editing technique has been revolutionizing scientific research by making it much easier to rewrite the genetic code. It’s also raising high hopes of curing many diseases.

Before this step, doctors had only used CRISPR to try to treat a small number of patients who have cancer, or the rare blood disorders sickle cell anemia or beta-thalassemia. While some of the initial results have been promising, it’s still too soon to know whether the strategy is working.

In those other cases, doctors removed cells from patients’ bodies, edited genes in the cells with CRISPR in the lab and then infused the modified cells back into the volunteers’ bodies to either attack their cancer or produce a protein their bodies are missing.

(15) THE DOOR INTO BUMMER. Did you know? “Amazon’s Ring logs every doorbell press and app action”.

Amazon keeps records of every motion detected by its Ring doorbells, as well as the exact time they are logged down to the millisecond.

The details were revealed via a data request submitted by the BBC.

It also disclosed that every interaction with Ring’s app is also stored, including the model of phone or tablet and mobile network used.

One expert said it gave Amazon the potential for even broader insight into its customers’ lives.

“What’s most interesting is not just the data itself, but all the patterns and insights that can be learned from it,” commented independent privacy expert Frederike Kaltheuner.

“Knowing when someone rings your door, how often, and for how long, can indicate when someone is at home.

“If nobody ever rang your door, that would probably say something about your social life as well.”

She added that it remained unclear how much further “anonymised” data was also being collected.

“This isn’t just about privacy, but about the power and monetary value that is attached to this data.”

Amazon says it uses the information to evaluate, manage and improve its products and services.

(16) CLUMSY FILTER. BBC looks at it from his point of view: “Luton filmmaker warns over over TikTok and Facebook extremism rules”.

A filmmaker says social media rules to prevent extremist material going online are thwarting his attempts to tackle hatred and extremism.

Rizwan Wadan said algorithms used by Facebook and TikTok were making it hard to promote his films.

Mr Wadan, 38, of Luton, said automatic filtering of words such as “jihad” and “terror,” forced users underground to learn about and discuss the issues.

Facebook said his trailer broke its ban on “sensational content” in adverts.

Mr Wadan, based at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, developed camera stabilisation systems and has worked on films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

He set up a £1.2m project called The Error in Terror to “give Muslims a voice,” and made films intended to deter acts of terrorism and challenge people to rethink their views.

But he said trailers for his work have been “restricted” on Facebook and said TikTok removed the content because it was deemed to break its guidelines.

“If we have algorithms that pick up words like ‘terrorism’ and ‘jihad,’ if we’re not allowed to discuss these things on social media platforms, then people who need to learn about this get pushed underground,” he said.

“They might start to learn about these things from people abroad where jihad is applied very differently and it could encourage individuals to get into revenge and retaliation, and this is very dangerous for us.

“It’s the responsibility of social media platforms to allow this kind of discussion to take place.”

(17) COOL STORY. “Star Wars fan gets bionic R2-D2 arm, meets Luke Skywalker [via Skype]”CNN has video.   

11-year-old Star Wars fan Isabella Tadlock was born with a nub on the end of her left arm and no fingers on her right hand. Actor Mark Hamill saw her story on Twitter and helped her get a R2-D2 bionic arm.

(18) BOOKSHOPPING LEADS TO BOOKHOPPING. Powell’s Books Blog presents “Portrait of a Bookseller: Dana P.”, who recommends V.E. Schwab and Neil Gaiman, and confesses a habit that will probably sound familiar to some of you.

Do you have any odd reading habits?
I definitely have a bad habit of hoarding books and then starting too many of them at once. I love the feeling of just starting a book, when it holds so much potential, so I’ll often have about six books I’m in the middle of — but I’ll bounce back and forth between them so none of them feel neglected.

(19) THE INTERNET OF REBELLIOUS THINGS. Connected is about —

…an everyday family’s struggle to relate while technology rises up around the world! When nature-loving dad Rick… determines the whole family should drive Katie to school together and bond as a family one last time…. the Mitchells’ plans are interrupted by a tech uprising: all around the world, the electronic devices people love – from phones, to appliances, to an innovative new line of personal robots – decide it’s time to take over. With the help of two friendly malfunctioning robots, the Mitchells will have to get past their problems and work together to save each other and the world!

It arrives in theaters September 18.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michal Tolan, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/4/20 Bring Me My Book Of Divine Stalk: Bring Me My Feline On A Pile: Bring Me My Fifth: O Readers Talk! Bring Me My Pixel Scrolls Of File!

  1. First!

    14) Reminds me of the Spiderman comic where he tells a villain who is transforming people into Dinosaurs that “Rewriting DNA on the fly” is tech that could cure Cancer, and his opponent says forthrightly “I don’t want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs”

  2. (8) I watched “The Man From Atlantis” when it was new. Don’t think I need to watch it again…

  3. Andrew says I watched “The Man From Atlantis” when it was new. Don’t think I need to watch it again…

    Btw it is Man From Atlantis as there is no “The”. I figured there was but there isn’t.

  4. @2: and Seafood Expo North America, scheduled for 15-17 March at the same site that Pax East used recently, has also scratched. (May be paywalled; key factor was that this was a monster — 18,000 expected to show up.) Officially they’re just postponing; I’m not betting they’ll be able to reschedule.

    @9 (Caldwell-Moore): sounds like a rotter, but don’t tease us — who did he play on HHG?

    @12: Mark Twain once said that science was wonderful because it gave such a great return in speculation for a trifling investment of fact. Apparently Wright is even more wonderful, because he can give us masses of speculation based on no facts at all.

    @13: was that the only answer? Whoever came up with it should have been doubly penalized, given that the author and the books are so utterly British, but I wonder what other wrong answers people came up with.

    A faster coronavirus spillover than baby Yodas: Tesla admits not to slowing down chips like Apple but to installing older, slower chips due to supply-chain issues.

    @Paul Weimer: I wonder whether that was written by Seanan McGuire? I know she’s done some Spiderverse stuff, and her stories-not-in-her-universe collection Laughter at the Academy has a story from the PoV of somebody with that aim. It’s a good collection, but the title does tend to tell you about a lot of the stories.

  5. Vaguely related to (13), I am currently reading my first J.D. Robb. Concealed in Death is ostensibly science fiction, but being set in the future (2060) has not yet been relevant to the plot or, really, anything, and I’m about halfway through. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining mystery/police procedural, and I certainly don’t regret having grabbed it at random.

    I think that being set in the future may be relevant to the plot of other books in the series, based on passing comments made by a couple of characters. So this one may be a bit of an exception.

    I will say that some of the forensic science in the novel is a lot more believable because of the 2060 setting, even though it’s mostly stuff that TV thinks we can do today. 🙂

  6. Chip Hitchcock: I checked with Andy about Jeopardy! Only 1 person answered. Others didn’t answer.

  7. The coronavirus stuff reminded me of the many Twitter posts reccing song snatches (or Shakespearean passages, especially Lady MacBeth’s) that are good for the recommended 20-second handwashing procedure. One that comes to my own mind is Tom Lehrer’s “The Irish Ballad”, a stanza of which is about twenty seconds.

    About a maid I’ll sing a song
    Sing rickety tickety tin
    About a maid I’ll sing a song
    Who didn’t have her family long
    Not only did she do them wrong
    She did every one of them in, them in
    She did every one of them in.

    Which in turn leads me to submit:

    About a maid I’ll file a scroll
    Sing Bradbury Kuttner and Tenn
    About a maid I’ll file a scroll
    Who sadly laid her pixels low

  8. 9) Patrick Moore turned out a respectable number of SF novels, mostly for young adults – I’ve only read one, myself, and I’m not sure of the title. (It involved a trip to Venus, and although it was written some time after the facts.about the planet’s surface were known, Moore still made it a habitable Venus. It just had a lot of active volcanos. And all the space probes had coincidentally landed in them.)

    Out of his immense output of non-fiction, my favourite has to be Can You Speak Venusian?, which takes a deadpan look at various “fringe”beliefs (flat Earthers and the Aetherian Society, among others.)

  9. 8) Read and enjoyed American Tabloid, and don’t recall anything remotely genre about it. And I’m another who saw Man From Atlantis when it first came out and who feels no need to see it again.

    12) The writing reminds me of this Fawlty Towers excerpt:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IOUE97fQ-AE

  10. 8) A thing I’d forgotten until just now is that Vonda McIntyre’s “Superluminal” features a community of genetically altered water-breathing people who are all fans of Man From Atlantis. (IIRC, they enjoy it ironically, and think the hero should give up trying to help drylanders and take to the open seas.) Publication date is 1983, so either it was getting a lot of re-runs or it made a deep impression.

    (And I’m sorry to say the book calls it “The Man From Atlantis” both times the show’s mentioned by name, according to Google Books search.)

  11. @Sophie Jane – hilarious! I didn’t realize that watching ironically was a thing before the 90s 🙂

  12. @Chip: @9 (Caldwell-Moore): sounds like a rotter, but don’t tease us — who did he play on HHG?

    As with most of his acting appearances, an exaggerated version of himself. For many years, if there was a part for an eccentric British astronomer on TV or radio then either Patrick Moore played himself or whoever you got in would be channelling him anyway.

  13. March 4, 1956 — The Atomic Man premiered. If you saw it in the U.K., it was Tinmeslip.

    I think Timeslip based on Wikipedia.

  14. (9) Ellroy was born in 1948, not 58. I read American Tabloid a long time ago. It contains sort of alternate history of the Kennedy murders, so I suppose that’s where the genre association comes in. Ellroy’s writing often mixes historical and fictional elements; I hesitate to consider it alternate history, but I don’t know where the delineation is usually drawn.

  15. @Sophie Jane: “Publication date is 1983, so either it was getting a lot of re-runs or it made a deep impression left a nasty scar.”

    Fixed that for you. That show tried even my teenage patience.

  16. As a long-time follower of Doctor Who (since the first episode aired in 1963, in fact) I was very happy with the revelations at the end of this season because they put the who back in Doctor Who. There should always be some mystery about the character’s past IMHO.

  17. In current reading, I finished The Outside by Ada Hoffman last night.

    Sadly, I can only give this one three stars.

    For one thing, there was only one scene in which I even started to believe that the MC was autistic; we were reminded over and over and over that she was autistic, but she almost never acted like it (no, folks, being introverted and averse to touch when stressed does not make you autistic) or thought like it (no, folks, people with autism are not prone to spending long periods of time worrying about the emotions of others or interpreting other people’s facial expressions).

    For another thing, it cracked me up in a big way when the MC figured out that the way to save the world was literally to erirefr gur cbynevgl! ROFLMAO!

    Other than that, it was a pretty interesting story. But I kept thinking of books/movies like Annihilation or The Mist instead of being engrossed in this book, which was not a good thing.

  18. I have a friend who used to tell this riddle: What’s Napoleon’s favorite day of the year? March 4th. (I don’t know if it works as a written joke. Try saying it.)

    March 4th was Big Daddy Roth’s birthday. Some of his custom cars like the Orbitron, Mysterion, or Druid Princess are probably genre and some worked their way into various bits of pop culture. He also gave us Rat Fink and assorted weirdoes.

    It’s also Catherine O’Hara’s birthday. She was in Beetlejuice and her voice was in The Nightmare before Christmas, Where the Wild Things Are, Frankenweenie, and The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley. And so much more. I think I first saw her as a princess who wouldn’t eat her beets on an episode of the syndicated SCTV.

    So goodbye yellowed book scroll
    Where the cats of society riff
    You can’t stick me with your pixel
    I’m going back to my fifth

  19. @Xtifr: even TV shows don’t claim that the murder squad can wave a tricorder over a body and get a very close time-of-death, or that the support van can identify not just where the people in a building-about-to-be-raided are but whether they’re standing or lying down — those two from her latest, Connections in Death, just about threw me out of the story as they made it so much easier for the police to be as violent as they liked because it was perfectly targeted. (There’s also the way they pick the most crackable gang member to interrogate first.) But yes, the societal changes 40-50 years in the future are unapparent, especially when compared with genre work such as Stand on Zanzibar (written 1968, set in 2010).

    @OGH: TFTI — I’d call them wusses, but the better part of valor… It would be interesting to find out what other broadly-popular trends the average contestant doesn’t know, possibly due to cramming obscure facts.

    @Anthony: can you be more specific? I recall general chaos when the Vogon fleet showed up, but no clear voices, and I’m blanking on where else in the series that specific specialty of pompous git appeared.

    @David H: TFTI. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised there was more than one dinosaur fan writing Spiderman.

    @Contrarius: I take it the rot13’d bit was not done ironically?

  20. @Chip —

    @Contrarius: I take it the rot13’d bit was not done ironically?

    Completely straight-faced — and I’ll admit Hoffmann did not use that precise word, but that’s exactly what she was doing.

  21. (12) I think you can cut Wright some slack here,almost no one actually watched the season finale.

    The Thirteenth Doctor has certainly been a charm. She has set all kinds of records. Largest viewership drop ever, least merchandise sales, lowest watched season finale, and most sermons per episode.

  22. If people are interested in a photo of Aly Parsons, there’s one on the NEW MYTHS website.

  23. @ Contarius. When reading “The Outside” I kept waiting for the twist that would reveal that the universe was not as it seemed. But it never came. The players and their motivations were just what they had been introduced as being.
    So why was I expecting it to be different? I don’t know exactly, but something about the way it was written made me think that. I’ve been wondering if its just me or others also had the same impression.

    Recently read:
    The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa. It’s an interesting concept and the world building is well done. The characters are great. But the story doesn’t go anywhere and the ending was just weird.

    Perihelion Summer – Greg Egan
    Same as the book above. Starts great, doesn’t know how to end.

    Quillifer the Knight – Walter Jon Williams. Quillifer continues his exploration of pre-modern technology and politics. This book started our with a long section on sailing, which is my least favorite topic, but moved on to more interesting areas later.

    Red Star – Alexander Bogdanov. This book was written in 1905 and describes a utopian communist society on Mars. It also includes ideas about a lot of future technology. It is interesting to compare with reality. One of the things that struck me was his description of a 3D movie theater, its very accurate but also very strange to hear it described in words that would make sense to someone from 1905.

  24. I’ve watched and loved the 13th Doctor, which I guess firmly establishes me as “no one.”

    Me too.

  25. @Contrarius

    people with autism are not prone to spending long periods of time worrying about the emotions of others or interpreting other people’s facial expressions

    My older son (diagnosed with atypical autism) does actually spend a fair amount of time doing just that (to the extent that as a child, he even tried to determine the emotions of cars from the expressions of their front grilles). He’s also quite perceptive about e.g. my postural cues.

    So in his case, I would not describe him as disinterested in emotions, but as studying in them as some sort of foreign language.

  26. @Lis Carey
    @rochrist

    No, that makes you inattentive readers rather than “no one”. Both of you seemed to have overlooked the “almost” in my post.

  27. No, that makes you inattentive readers rather than “no one”. Both of you seemed to have overlooked the “almost” in my post.

    It seems a dubious proposition that if 33 percent of the replies here immediately after your remark contradicted your point that ‘almost no one’ is accurate.

  28. (12) De gustibus non est disputandum. I for one thought there was distinctly less mystery about the Doctor’s origins after than before. Not that that was my only reason for disliking the episode.

  29. Are we all supposed to chime in on whether or not we watched the episode so that we can have an accurate estimate? For myself, I really haven’t watched Dr Who since Tristan Farnon played the Doctor.

  30. 8). Yeah, it wasn’t great, but Man From Atlantis had one good thing : Victor Buono as the recurring villain, Mr. Schubert.
    Well, I liked him!

  31. Magewolf: I think you can cut Wright some slack here,almost no one actually watched the season finale.

    I’ll keep in mind your defense of people who pontificate about works they haven’t experienced every time I see you express an opinion here.

  32. @bookworm1398 —

    I’ve been wondering if its just me or others also had the same impression.

    It may have been the mysterious/ominous overtones she gave to the “gods”, especially at the beginning. I liked the way she introduced them without infodumping about them, but then they basically turned out to just be overpowered bureaucrats with fascist tendencies.

    @microtherion —

    So in his case, I would not describe him as disinterested in emotions, but as studying in them as some sort of foreign language.

    I have probably not described it well. In the book, the supposedly autistic MC casually makes observations about a character looking tired or guilty or frazzled or whatever, or worrying that her actions will make a character unhappy or will ruin someone’s life — stuff like that. Not like something she has to work at or put a lot of effort into interpreting.

    As for our various Doctor-watching records: I think I’ve only seen one or two episodes of the show since Tom Baker was The Doctor. I did like his scarf and his half-crazed smile, but the show never really appealed to me. I hang my head in shame. 😉

  33. Almost no one watched any episode of Doctor Who compared to the number of people alive (see the Hitchhiker’s Guide for an explanation that the population of the universe is zero).

    However, about 5 million people in the UK (and some amount of people out of the UK) saw the first half of the finale episode (the ratings for the most recent episode do not appear to be complete yet). I don’t know whether that counts as a lot of people – but for comparison, 5.4 million people in the much larger United States saw “Once More, With Feeling” (the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – and I think it would be unrealistic to call that “almost no one” – especially on a discussion list devoted to science fiction and fantasy.

  34. I just finished Waterlines by Suzanne Palmer. I loved it! Great story, characters and worldbuilding. It’s going on my ballot for Best Novella.

    As for Doctor Who – I’m a fan of Classic Who and New Who and enjoyed the episode in question.

  35. @Xtifr
    Some of the In Death books are more SFnal than others, but the focus is always on the murder mysteries and on the relationships between the characters.

    Regarding The Man from Atlantis, I saw a few episode of that show when I was about five or six and intensely disliked it. I’ve never felt the need to rewatch the show to see if my five-year-old self was unfair or particularly perceptive.

    @Magewolf
    Count me as another who quite likes the Thirteenth Doctor. In fact, I like her a lot more than I liked Eleven and Twelve.

  36. Ah. For context, in the US, the highest rated scripted program was the final episode of the Big Bang Theory, which got 18.5 million viewers (I’m assuming that this is US only). Since the US has about 5 times the population of the UK, this would correspond to 3.77 million UK viewers, and every episode of Doctor Who this season has had more UK viewers than that.

  37. Chip Hitchcock on March 5, 2020 at 9:28 am said:

    @Xtifr: even TV shows don’t claim that the murder squad can wave a tricorder over a body and get a very close time-of-death

    That definitely didn’t happen in Concealed in Death, although that may have been because the bodies had been concealed for about fifteen years! OTOH, scanning a skull with a computer and getting a facial reconstruction via hologram may sound fairly futuristic, but I’ve seen it on the show Bones!

  38. Cora says Count me as another who quite likes the Thirteenth Doctor. In fact, I like her a lot more than I liked Eleven and Twelve.

    I like her as much as I liked Ten and much more than I liked either Eleven or Twelve. Btw her overall rating retaking into account everything that’s not just the BBC first broadcast are substantially higher than previously Doctors.

  39. @Cat:

    Btw her overall rating retaking into account everything that’s not just the BBC first broadcast are substantially higher than previously Doctors.

    Thanks. I looked around for such numbers but didn’t find them in my initial search.

  40. Contrarius: In current reading, I finished The Outside by Ada Hoffman last night. Sadly, I can only give this one three stars.

    bookworm1398: I kept waiting for the twist that would reveal that the universe was not as it seemed. But it never came. The players and their motivations were just what they had been introduced as being.
    So why was I expecting it to be different? I don’t know exactly, but something about the way it was written made me think that. I’ve been wondering if its just me or others also had the same impression.

    I had a similar response to this book. The synopsis sounded pretty interesting, but I found the book less than gripping. Normallly, if I start a book at lunch, I’ll go home that night and finish it. But with The Outside, I just kept reading a few chapters of it every day at lunch (for several weeks) until I finished it.

    And I too kept expecting there to be something “more”, but it never appeared. It was okay, but… that’s it.

    Also, it drove me absolutely crazy that throughout the book, young women in their mid-20s were repeatedly referred to as “girls”. Ugh.

  41. Andrew Amy’s to re the Thirteenth Doctor’s numbers: Thanks. I looked around for such numbers but didn’t find them in my initial search.

    They’re somewhat difficult to find because BBC America, the BBC app and of course other territory are counted separately, so you need to aggregate numbers. She certainly hasn’t had the cataclysmic drop off in ratings that the haters would you think has happened.

    They’re shaking up the Story by likely reducing the number of Companions next series, so that’ll be interesting to see unfold.

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