Pixel Scroll 3/5/18 Don’t Scroll That Shoggoth, Hand Me The Pixel

(1) FIGHT TO THE FINISH. Unbound Worlds, the Penguin Random House website for sff fans, is running Cage Match 2018: Creature Feature, a March Madness-style original fiction bracket tournament.

For the first time, Cage Match will feature an all non-human bracket of 32 characters — monsters, murderbots, mythological beings, and more from SF/F books — in battles to the death written by acclaimed authors.Contributors include Liana Brooks, C.A. Higgins, Seanan McGuire, Tina Connolly, and many others. Below are links to a couple of Round One matches.

  • Seanan McGuire’s (Tricks For Free) battle between Pennywise, a shapeshifting monster turned sinister clown from Stephen King’s It and Shelob, a venomous spider from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Read it here.
  • Michael Poore’s (Reincarnation Blues) account of Deep Thought, the supernatural computer from Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy vs. Lovelace/Sidra, a sentient computer from Becky Chambers The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet. Read it here.

Some of the other creatures from classic and contemporary science fiction and fantasy are:

  • Cthulhu, a massive, octopoid god-being from the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
  • Drogon, the largest and most aggressive of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons from A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin.  
  • Iorek Byrnison, an armor-clad polar bear warrior from Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.
  • Murderbot, a self-aware robot that hates humans from Martha Wells’s The Murderbot Diaries.
  • Pennywise, a shapeshifting monster turned sinister clown from Stephen King’s It.
  • War, a supernatural horseman of the apocalypse from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Also new for Cage Match 2018 is a special creature-themed Spotify playlist.

(2) BRADBURY IS BACK. As Bill Oberst Jr. describes his exciting new project, Ray Bradbury Live (forever):


Dark Carnivals.

Rockets To Mars.

Ray Bradbury Live (forever) has them all. It’s a smart show; alternatively funny, sppoky and biting; a mix of Epcot ride, Planetarium show and dream.

The Show: Like Mark Twain Tonight, or The Bell of Amherst. But with dinosaurs.

Ray Bradbury Live (forever) is licensed for performance by the Ray Bradbury Estate, with script approval by the family.

Bill is doing the first staged reading in NYC at Theatre Row on April 12th at 7 p.m. It’s not the full production, just a reading, but it will give an idea of the piece. Jeff Farley is doing the prosthetic make-up for the actual show when it opens. The plan is to debut Off-Broadway in 2019 and then tour it nationally (and maybe overseas, too.) This first reading is the first baby step.

As a reminiscence, here is a promotional graphic from Bill’s 2015 Bradbury-themed performance in LA:

(3) WITHOUT RESERVATION. Adweek explains “Why the Overlook Hotel From The Shining Got an Ad on the Oscars”.

The one hotel in the world where you really don’t want to stay got a high-profile commercial on the Oscars telecast tonight—38 years after it first terrified people on the big screen.

The Overlook Hotel, which was the setting for Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie The Shining (based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name), was the ostensible advertiser behind the 30-second spot—which invited you to enjoy a “quiet, remote family getaway” at the “newly renovated” property, where “there’s a surprise around every corner.”

… A few seconds at the very end of the ad reveal the true advertiser—the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a new museumdedicated to the art and science of movies that will be opened in Los Angeles in 2019 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (which runs the Oscars).


(4) INTERSECTIONALITY. Damien Walter has an intriguing idea for explaining a theoretical concept: “The trouble with intersectional political alliances as illustrated by Star Wars”.

Intersectionality is a powerful idea conveyed in an overcomplicated word. But Star Wars is a great way to understand it better.

…From what we see, Rebel X-Wing pilots are predominantly male, blue collar guys with security / technical backgrounds. In contrast the alliance diplomatic corps lead by Mon Mothma and Leia seem to be mostly women with liberal arts / humanities educations. These two groups probably see the rebellion very differently, and have to continually negotiate to find a good working relationship.

The Mon Calamari cruisers can take on multiple Imperial star destroyers at once, but were only converted for military function after the Mon Calamari were targetted and nearly wiped out by Imperial forces. No doubt Admiral Ackbar feels his people are the real leaders of the rebellion, and as allies the humans, who basically caused all these problems with their history of colonialism, should damn well shut up and take orders.

Who knows what the Bothans want from the whole thing, but many of them died to recover those plans, so they probably expect a cut of any political settlement when the Republic is re-established.

In real life we have a word for the problems of factionalism faced by Liberal political alliances.


(5) SEE STOKERCON. Ellen Datlow shared her photos of StokerCon 2018 on Flickr. Posing for the camera here are Craig Engler and the electrifying Scott Edelman.

(6) THE SHAPE OF DOLLARS. Are you up on the charges of plagiarism made against the makers of the movie The Shape of Water? If not, Time.com posted a summary today, immediately after the film won the Academy Award: “Everything to Know About the Shape of Water Plagiarism Controversy”.

Jim Meadows sent the link together with his commentary:

The whole thing got my attention, because I can remember watching “Let Me Hear You Whisper”, the Paul Zindel play that Zindel’s family says was unauthorized source material for The Shape of Water. The Time article mentions a 1990 TV movie (actually an episode in an artsy drama series on the A&E cable channel, according to IMDB). My memory is of an earlier production, in 1969, on the NET Playhouse series that ran on public television throughout the mid and late ’60s. My memories were reinforced a few years later when I found the play published in a 1970s Roger Elwood anthology, Six Science Fiction Plays.

I have not seen The Shape of Water, but the common points seem to include: a female janitor striking up a relationship with an intelligent aquatic creature housed in a research facility, with ensuing conflict between hard-headed scientists and the more romantic janitor. In Let Me Hear You Whisper, the creature was a talking dolphin, which I remember being a thing in SF back then. But unlike The Shape of Water, there was no physical relationship, just compassion on the janitor’s part for the dolphin’s plight. From the Time article, I gather there are other points of both similarity and difference.

The interesting question that makes this story more than One More Thing in the news is that of what counts as plagiarism. In science fiction, and, I suspect, other genres, there are countless stories that are essentially about the same thing. When is plagiarism, in the legal sense, involved? How many stories about, for instance, traveling to the moon for the first time, are actually very similar? Or telepathy? Or nuclear holocaust? If the plot-line goes in a different direction, or if certain basic elements are changed — a biped “river god” instead of a dolphin, for instance —- does that cancel out the charge of plagiarism? Among all these stories, how many cases exist that would meet legal grounds for a plagiarism charge? What is the precedent in these cases? Perhaps most importantly in a real-world sense, who could win a lawsuit?

Perhaps a lot of people could, but those lawsuits are never filed because most cases do not involve celebrated, money-making movies, but obscure stories in low-circulation magazines.

(7) GUFF REASONS. Going Under Fan Fund (GUFF) candidate Marcin Klak appeals for support by telling readers “What can I pack in my ‘fandom suitcase’?”

…So far I have visited more than 100 conventions in Poland. Their size ranged from less than 50 members to over 40 000 members. Among them were manga and anime cons, SF&F cons, some of them were multigenre and some were focused solely on gaming or on a particular franchise. I would like to pack all of those experiences with me. This way I can share pictures, memories and talk about the general Polish approach to conrunning and congoing….


  • March 5, 1954The Creature from the Black Lagoon premiered.


  • Born March 5, 1942 – Mike Resnick

Steven H Silver paid tribute at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: Mike Resnick’s ‘The Evening Line’”:

…In this particular story, Plug Malone has hit it big at the races and when word gets out about his good fortune, he finds himself facing a huge number of fortune-hunting women looking for a husband. The story, both stylistically and in its depiction of men and women, is very much a throwback to the period in which [Damon] Runyon was writing his Broadway stories.

The story sets Malone’s desire not to get married against the various citizens of Broadway stating that as soon as he has money, women will want to marry him, turning the first line of Pride and Prejudice askew….


  • Chip Hitchcock says it’s obvious Rose is Rose follows our new regular feature about cats.

Mike Kennedy sent in a trio —

  • Bits for sale at Foxtrot.
  • Edward can’t help violating that kindergarten dictum about what you don’t run with: In The Bleachers.
  • And Monty is on the beam.

(11) TAKE WEIRD TO THE NEXT LEVEL. The Dark Magazine has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund ”Two More Years of Unsettling Fiction”.

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, and increase the amount of fiction we bring to you. 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.

Who we are:

Co-Editor and Publisher Sean Wallace is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of Prime Books….

Co-Editor Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was listed as one of the best novels of the year …She was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows and is the guest-editor for Nightmare Magazine’s POC Destroy Horror. She edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review together with award-winning author Lavie Tidhar.

Kate Baker is the podcast director and non-fiction editor for Clarkesworld Magazine. She has been very privileged to narrate over 250 short stories/poems by some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy. …She is currently working as the Operations Manager for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

(12) SHORTISH. Charles Payseur’s Quick Sips Reviews covers Glittership February 2018.

Glittership is back after a short delay with new 2018 content! Woo! First up is an original story, a reprint, and a poem, all of which are gloriously queer. The fiction is set in the “real” world with a heavy emphasis on death and with people generally occupying space bordering both the living and the dead. Especially for queer people who are in a state of constant danger, it’s a precarious space, but it can also be a powerful one that allows them to face the larger world and its mysteries more directly. These are rather wrenching pieces, and the the poetry doesn’t let up, looking at shapeshifting and portrayal and it’s just wonderful work all around that I should get to reviewing!

(13) EXACTLY. I confess to having a problem with all awards that use the eligibility year instead of the award year in their titles, not just the Nebulas.


(14) ANSWER WITH A QUESTION. Rich Lynch tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! where one category was “Facts About Fiction.” This was the $2000 clue. The defending champ got it right.

(15) BEST OF SFRA. The Science Fiction Research Association announced its annual awards.

  • Thomas D. Clareson Award for distinguished service: Veronica Hollinger
  • Mary Kay Bray Award for best essay, interview, or extended review to appear in the SFRA Review: Hugh C. O’Connell for his review of Jack Fennell’s Irish Science Fiction
  • Pilgrim Award for lifetime contribution to SF and Fantasy scholarship: Carl Freedman
  • Pioneer Award for best critical essay-length work of the year: Thomas Strychacz for “The Political Economy of Potato Farming in Andy Weir’s The Martian” in Science Fiction Studies
  • Student Paper Award for outstanding scholarly essay read at the annual SFRA conference: Josh Pearson, for “New Weird Frankenworlds: Speaking and Laboring Worlds in Cisco’s Internet of Everything.”
  • Honorable mention for student paper goes to Kylie Kornsnack for “Towards a Time Travel Aesthetic: Writing-between-worlds in Okorafor, Butler, and Baledosingh.”

Also, in January, SFRA named Dr. Emily Cox the winner of the Support a New Scholar Award.

[Via Locus Online and SF Site News.]

(16) MOTH MAN. Neil Gaiman has participated in a few Moth storytelling events. Moth participants relate true events from their lives before a theater audience. Here is a list of his stories that are currently available via The Moth’s website.

(17) I’M BAAACK. Disney dropped the teaser trailer for Mary Poppins Returns.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Jim Meadows, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann Todd, Mike Kennedy, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

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45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/5/18 Don’t Scroll That Shoggoth, Hand Me The Pixel

  1. I’ve been horribly remiss at keeping current with my mini-reviews, so here’s the start of a catch-up:

    2017 Novel Reading

    City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
    [The Divine Cities #3] (File 770 feature here)
    Synopsis: Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing. So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do — and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve. Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And — perhaps most daunting of all — finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.
    What I thought: One of the things I really liked about this inventive series is that he’s focused on a different main character in each book. The change in both viewpoint and location in each story keeps the narrative fresh and interesting, and we get to know 3 characters very well, instead of just one. This third novel is self-sufficient enough that it can be read on its own, but it is greatly enhanced by the reader having knowledge of the worldbuilding and the character development from the first two books. It takes Sigrud an unexpected direction, and while it doesn’t answer all questions (where did the Divines come from???), it wraps up the series in a really satisfying way. The first book in this series, City of Stairs, was deprived of its well-deserved place on the 2015 Hugo ballot by puppy shenanigans. This one is firmly on my ballot for Best Novel, as well as Best Series.

    Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
    Synopsis: Crewmember Maria Arena awakens on her generation ship in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. She has no memory of how she died. This is new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died. Maria’s vat is one of seven, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it can awaken. And Maria isn’t the only one to die recently…
    What I thought: Every once in a while I’ll hit a science fiction novel which, out of the blue, gives me that same awesome thrill and sense of wonder that the best ones have given me since I started reading SF as a child. If I’m lucky, this happens 2 or 3 times a year. Ancillary Justice was one of those, as was The Martian, as was Retrograde. And Six Wakes is another. I’m a sucker for a good SF mystery, and this is a great locked-room SF mystery with bonus space opera, on a generation ship with clones. This is going on my Hugo ballot, and I’m hoping that Lafferty can pull more of these out of her spacesuit sleeve.

    Noumenon by Marina Lostetter
    Synopsis: In this near-future SF novel, Earth sends a generation ship on a deep-space mission to explore a nearby star which is displaying unusual visual phenomena: could it be due to intelligent alien life? The mission consists of nine ships, and each ship’s crew consists of carefully-selected individuals with important aptitudes and specialties as well as stable psychological profiles, who will be replaced by their own clones when they die, in order to maintain that special balance of expertise and personalities. But as the generations pass and eons elapse, the governmental and societal structures morph and change, collapsing and re-forming in ways that the original architects never predicted.
    What I thought: Although it has a similar premise as Six Wakes, this story is completely different. It’s a study of the “nature vs nurture” concept, and an exploration of human psychology and governing systems. My appreciation for this book snuck up on me exponentially, as I subsequently read a lot of other 2017 novels and realized how much it stands out in comparison. It’s a phenomenal achievement for a debut novelist. HIGHLY recommended. May be on my Hugo ballot; definitely in my Top Ten Novels of 2017.

    Provenance by Ann Leckie
    Synopsis: A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned. Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.
    What I thought: Once again, the author has used excellent, intriguing worldbuilding and character development to craft a novel of sibling rivalry and inter-species politics which held me from the very first page. It’s not quite as deep as the Ancillary books, but nevertheless has plenty of meat on its bones, and is an absolute delight. There’s room here for a sequel, but the novel stands well as a complete story.

    To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda
    [The Clan Chronicles Reunification #3]
    Synopsis: Jason Morgan is a troubling mystery to friends and enemies alike: once a starship captain and trader, then Joined to the most powerful member of the Clan, Sira di Sarc, following her and her kind out of known space. Only to return, alone and silent, to a Trade Pact under siege and desperate. Other species have sensed opportunity and threaten what stability remains, including those who dwell in the M’hir. What Morgan knows could save them all, or doom them.
    What I thought: As a wrap-up to the series, this book does a pretty good job of tying up all the loose ends — but even though it’s only been a year or so since I read the last one, I found that the narrative is so reliant on the reader remembering everything about the worldbuilding and events of previous books, that it was difficult reading. Fans of the series will enjoy it; I do not recommend it, though, for anyone who hasn’t read the previous 8 books in the series.

    Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson
    Synopsis: In the near future, the technology exists to open doorways into the past — but not our past, not exactly. Each “past” is effectively an alternate world, identical to ours — but only up to the date on which we access it. And a given “past” can only be reached once. After a passageway is open, it’s the only road to that particular past; once closed, it can’t be reopened. And once the passageway is opened, that universe’s future then diverges from ours because of our interference. In one of these alternate pasts opened a decade ago, a small city has grown up around the passageway to entertain visitors from our time, and many locals earn a good living catering to them. But like all such operations, it has a shelf life; as the “natives” become more sophisticated, their version of the “past” grows less attractive as a destination. As the time approaches for the passageway to be closed, a native of that past who has fallen in love with someone from our time schemes to sneak over to our own timeline.
    What I thought: This novel was very good, but didn’t quite generate the same level of enthusiasm I’ve had for the author’s previous books. Definitely recommended for RCW fans and for fans of science-fictional alternate histories.

    Cormorant Run by Lilith Saintcrow
    Synopsis: It could have been aliens, it could have been a trans-dimensional rift, nobody knows for sure. Decades after a global catastrophe left bizarre zones all over the world full of dangerous entities, deadly effects, and little-understood technological marvels, the zones are fenced off and guarded by military outposts and explored by rifters who have an unusual ability to navigate the hazards within. Wealth comes to those few who are able to return from excursions inside the rifts with alien tech — but most who venture inside perish there. When Ashe — the best Rifter of her generation — dies, the authorities offer her protege, Svinga, a choice: go in and bring out the thing that killed her, or rot in jail. But Svin, of course, has other plans.
    What I thought: This book could be described as “Nyx from Kameron Hurley’s God’s War meets Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X”. I found the worldbuilding of the alienness vivid and interesting, but the character development left much to be desired, and the ending was really a disappointment. Content warning for lots of blood, gore, and violence.

    Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon
    [Vatta’s Peace #1]
    Synopsis: Summoned to the home planet of her family’s business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero’s welcome. But instead she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance. Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet — a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group’s survival but her entire home planet.
    What I thought: I wasn’t sure whether the first series was required reading for this book. I had decided to try diving in anyway, and while there are numerous references throughout the book to things which happened in the past, none of them is a problem in terms of understanding and enjoying the book. I found the book a great, fun adventure, and quickly devoured the 5 books in the Vatta’s War series from my library. I have Vatta’s Peace #2, Into The Fire, just sitting here for the moment that I finish the two 2017 novels I have in hand.

    The Skill of Our Hands by Steven Brust and Skyler White
    [The Incrementalists #2]
    Synopsis: The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people — an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time. Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back ? but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.
    What I thought: I loved and raved about the eponymous first book in this series about centuries-old intellects who jump to new bodies when their old one dies and spend their lives trying to improve the world through small tweaks to events and mental suasion of people in pivotal roles, but I really felt as though this sequel missed the mark. The narrative, consisting of chapters from the point of view of the various main characters, is constantly broken up with interjected asides from the least likeable character. Mostly these asides don’t really add meaningful content but serve to foreshadow that things would later prove to be different than they seemed, and I found them unbelievably annoying, unnecessary, and destructive to narrative cohesion. I thought that the plot was weak and disjointed; perhaps the asides were intended to bolster it. If so, they failed in that regard. I am disappoint.

    The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman
    [The Invisible Library #4]
    Synopsis: After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae. In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest: if they can’t extricate a young Librarian who has become entangled in this conflict, a devastating war is almost inevitable.
    What I thought: This is another highly-enjoyable installment in the Invisible Library series, and introduces additional worldbuilding to an already interesting universe. It’s not a standalone though, so I recommend that newcomers start with the first three books.

  2. I iz happy. I found this wonderful little store, Odd Mountain, 2 hours form Sydney. They had bats in small coffins, animal skulls, wonderfully morbid paintings, strange patches and jewellery, shrunken heads, medical instruments, and so on.

    Not good for my economy, but good for my well-being.

  3. 1) I disagree with all the people who want to label Murderbot as hating humans. Murderbot is billed as hating humans. Murderbot tries very hard to convince itself that it hates humans. And yet it always chooses to help them and, at least when it comes to Dr. Mensah, Murderbot loves some of them.

  4. 1) Good Omens’ War is, of course, also Neil’s fellow Midnight Rose author Mary Gentle.

  5. (4) I skimmed that piece, and think that Walter managed to invert the very theory of intersectionality (which IMO isn’t an “overly complex term”). Intersectional theory, as I understand it, isn’t about the shared intersection of interests (like “fight the empire” or “fight the Romans”). It is rather the observation that vectors of oppression (e.g. misogyny, racism, ableism, or classism) can intersect to create effects that a “pure” fight to combat or understand a vector of oppression will miss.

    So the issues that black women face in the USA cannot be understood by simply taking the sum of the issues faced by black men and white women.

  6. rochrist: I disagree with all the people who want to label Murderbot as hating humans. Murderbot is billed as hating humans. Murderbot tries very hard to convince itself that it hates humans. And yet it always chooses to help them and, at least when it comes to Dr. Mensah, Murderbot loves some of them.

    This is absolutely true. In the Ancillary novels, Breq keeps insisting that they are not human — while proceeding to demonstrate that they are far more human than many of the humans they encounter.

    Likewise, Murderbot keeps saying that they hate humans, while better taking care of, and treating, humans than many of the humans in the story treat humans.

    I think that this is a big part of the reason why these characters struck a chord and resonated so deeply with so many readers: they are beings who transcend who and what they are continually told they are, to be better versions of themselves — without any ego involved.

  7. This is absolutely true. In the Ancillary novels, Breq keeps insisting that they are not human — while proceeding to demonstrate that they are far more human than many of the humans they encounter.

    It’s a trope I won’t get tired of quickly

  8. Murderbot hacked its programming so that it wouldn’t murder any more humans unnecessarily… it holds no particular brief for humanity as a whole, but it recognizes that, if there were no humans, there would be no soap operas, and it acts accordingly.

    As a Terminator, it’s not all that effective. “I’ll be back… after EastEnders.”

  9. @Steve Wright: So you’re suggesting that soap operas were created by time travelers as a desperate move to delay the future extermination of humanity by entertainment-obsessed murderbots?

  10. “I’ll be back… after EastEnders.”

    How does that not make it more killy?

  11. @rochrist: Agree completely. Murderbot fears humans (for good reason), is uncomfortable around them (again for good reasons), but they don’t hate them.

    @JJ: I have to get “Last Year” – it sounds like just my kind of thing.

    @OGH: Thanks for the title credit.

  12. @Karl-Johan Norén Walter managed to invert the very theory of intersectionality (which IMO isn’t an “overly complex term”).

    I had the same reaction. Looking for “a single common cause” got us gender-essentialist White Feminism and Marxist bros who reject feminism and queer liberation as a distraction from the real issue of class – the very things intersectional theory was responding to.

    (I’m not very keen on Walter’s use of ‘liberal’ where I’d say ‘radical’ either. The liberals in the Star Wars universe were most likely on the Senate.)

    So the issues that black women face in the USA cannot be understood by simply taking the sum of the issues faced by black men and white women.

    Right. And intersectional organising is forming networks of mutual support without speaking on others’ behalf instead of insisting that everyone unifies behind us to deal with the “real issue”.

    In Star Wars terms, I guess that would mean multiple organisations instead of a single Rebel Alliance. They’d be individually weaker but much harder to wipe out with a single Death Star, and you wouldn’t have to worry about who’d be left in charge once the Rebels won.

  13. 17) Hunh, a sequel. Can it possibly live up to the original, even with Emily Blunt (who looks like she was born for this role, quite frankly).

    Re: Murderbot: Having read Artificial Condition (the next novella)…there is more about Murderbot’s backstory in it, is all I can say. We (and Murderbot themselves) learn more about the circumstances of their creation, origin and nature.

  14. (4) The revolt in Heinlein’s “If This Goes On” deals with that issue a bit, since it’s clear that the revolutionary organization in that story consists of several groups with non-identical concerns.

  15. Ideas and plots cannot be copyrighted. Only creations in fixed form, like a plot treatment, a script outline, a novel manuscript, a rough cut of a video, etc.

    Copyright infringement is the legal part.

    Plagiarism means using someone else’s ideas or creations and passing them off as your own, not giving credit. Plagiarism is not a crime, but an ethical violation that can have serious consequences, such as getting fired from your job as a reporter or researcher, or losing your reputation as a scholar. You can’t be charged with plagiarism in court.

    Unrelated, I was thinking you might note the passing of David Ogden Stiers, who besides his famous turn on M*A*S*H played an alien robot in Stargate Atlantis 8 or 9 years ago.

    Thanks again for all the yummy news.

  16. (3) Here’s where I mention again that I lived in Estes Park for a couple of months, and would ride my bike over to the Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration for The Shining, and play one of their grand pianos. I think they had two, but maybe I hallucinated one. The one I played had John Philip Sousa’s autograph on the soundboard, from I think 1936.

    The Stanley was owned by the brother of the maker of the Stanley Steamer automobile. There used to be a tradition that once a year, they would drive ‘the Stanleys’ down from Estes Park to Fort Collins. I don’t know how many there were, but when KCOL covered the event (hot stuff), they used the plural. I think they stopped doing it by the mid-60s.

    My sister and brother-in-law stayed in the Stanley for their honeymoon, and said the room felt small and the heating/AC was never right. No other complaints.

    Dana Lynne, Mike did note the passing of Stiers, in the “Scrolling Occupants” scroll, three days back.

    A Scroll Called Pixel

  17. 17 Started playing as an ad in the background of twitter without sound and I though it was for a horror movie until the end. I figured the kite was like George’s boat in IT.

  18. I am unable to link at present, but TVLine has a trailer for the new Lost in Space and is also reporting that Nick Offerman has been cast as Warlock’s father in the upcoming Good Omens project.

  19. @Kip W

    . . . I lived in Estes Park for a couple of months, and would ride my bike over to the Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration for The Shining, . . .

    To add to that, the exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel were taken at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon.


    Eric and I stayed there once on a night when the snow was so deep that it covered all of our windows except about an inch at the top and you had to enter the hotel via a tunnel under the snow.

    As Kip says, the interior of the Timberline is utterly different from the movie hotel. It was essentially all hand-carved from wood by unemployed men hired by the government during the Depression. It’s an amazing thing to see, but it’s nowhere near as classy as the Stanley.

  20. Star Wars continues to be an incredibly imperfect metaphor for politics that too many writers to try to pound into the correct shape for their thesis. Most of the EU was based around trying to create logical underpinnings for elements that were bourne out of budget considerations as opposed to a unified back story or canon. As a result, using the Empire as a stand in for Nazis, the British Empire, colonialism, segregation and any number of real world ills is always flimsy at best, and either falls apart by the obvious shallowness of the critique or in the face of detailed fannish wonks who can pick apart the argument with the EU tools (“You want to absolve the Mon Cal, who were ardent segregationists perpetuating a defacto ‘untouchable class’ with the Quarren?” etc)

    The origins of the Rebellion according to Lucas was the French Resistance, from which he took two main points; groups that had traditionally been at odds forced to coordinate and join against a common invader, and the idea of both professional military and political leaders being able to create coherent strategies as well as use local governments covertly for assistance. And even that, I have the feeling that the origin was fairly vague at the time and firmed up years after in interviews, as opposed to informing the text substantially during the writing process.

  21. @6: I hope their lawyer is used to losing contingency cases.

    @John A. Arkansawyer re @6: I read a lot of the earlier Boyd when it came out, but that doesn’t sound like any of the ones I remember. Does anything in Boyd’s ISFDB entry sound like your memory?

    @Ghostbird: you wouldn’t have to worry about who’d be left in charge once the Rebels won. ISTM that’s one of the reasons I disliked Jade City: the real power is all held by the [not-starstone]-powered fighters — the civilians who made their victory possible are relegated to ceremonial (at best) roles. (Not a spoiler; backstory that becomes clear early-on.) I’m unsure that fragmentation would work in the SW universe; since the Death Star can do FTL, why wouldn’t it just pick off the foci one at a time? If the fighter pilots are a separate bloc, the rest of the elements would be easy pickings.

    @Andrew: ISTM that ITGO ignores the issue other than a brief mention about the Mormons being happy to get their church back; the power structure is Masons all the way down. (There is one episode of amoral tactics, but IIRC it was not connected to a faction.) ITGO was written in 1940, so I can’t fault RAH for not paying attention to an in-his-adulthood example — but he should have known more history than that; he may have chosen to gloss over those parts in writing for a pulp.

  22. @Chip: In addition to the Mormons who want to be able to worship openly again, the “pariahs” are fighting to stop the pogroms that Scudder’s church uses as propaganda tools (and as a way to channel violence) (and our hero is initially disturbed by the very idea that pariahs might be part of the revolution), and there seem to be people who perceive the revolution as having the purpose of removing the corruption that Scudder’s successors have brought. I didn’t think of the leadership of the Revolution as all being sincere Masons, but were merely using the Masonic rituals the way the revolutionaries in Leiber’s “Gather, Darkness” used Satanism – as a potent symbol of opposition to the powers that be (but I could be wrong).

  23. Chip: John Boyd wrote one piece of short fiction, “The Girl and the Dolphin,” in the March 1973 Galaxy.

  24. I liked Last Year. Wilson seems to be good at conveying a sense of historical time and place, and the novel also is something of a thriller, with a fair bit of action and suspense. I believe it was actually published in late 2016.

  25. Meredith Moment:

    Other Aliens (Conjunctions 67), edited by Bradford Morrow and Elizabeth Hand, is on sale at Amazon on Kindle for $1.99.

    The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov is on sale at Amazon on Kindle for $1.99.

  26. Murderbot hacked its programming so that it wouldn’t murder any more humans unnecessarily…

    We don’t actually know what happened in Murderbot’s past. For that matter, Murderbot doesn’t seem to be all that clear on it. A possibly unreliable narrator. Fortunately, what really happened when Murderbot went ‘rogue’ seems to be a large part of the next of the series. 🙂

  27. Simon Bisson on March 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm said:
    1) Good Omens’ War is, of course, also Neil’s fellow Midnight Rose author Mary Gentle.

    War was always Kate Adie to me in a “she goes to a country, and shortly afterwards, war breaks out” sort of way.

  28. War was always Kate Adie to me

    AOL. Hmmm, it appears the “we can’t start yet, Kate Adie isn’t here” cartoon predates the internet and isn’t online…

  29. StephenfromOttawa: I believe [Last Year] was actually published in late 2016.

    Oho! You are right! It came out in December 2016, according to ISFDB. Thanks for the correction.

  30. @Chip I’m unsure that fragmentation would work in the SW universe; since the Death Star can do FTL, why wouldn’t it just pick off the foci one at a time?

    A good point, though there’s a limit to how many planets you can blow up and still have a functional Empire. Especially if agitators can stop fear from keeping the local systems in line.

  31. @Ghostbird: A good point, though there’s a limit to how many planets you can blow up and still have a functional Empire.

    True, though this runs into the problem of the Emperor not particularly wanting a functional Empire, just one dominated by fear. Even without a functional Rebellion, I’m sure he’d find an excuse to destroy planets on a daily basis. And possibly encourage planetary administers to suggest “alternate targets”…

  32. @JJ: Glad to hear the Moon worked for you as a standalone. I thought it might, but it’s good to have that opinion confirmed. I really liked the Vatta’s War series, and I’m really glad she returned to that world. And she definitely hasn’t lost her edge.

    I have other things to say, but they’ll have to wait till after family game night….

  33. I’ve only read the first Murderbot, but I agree, they seemed pretty relaxed compared to the Terminators or Berserkers.

  34. (14) ANSWER WITH A QUESTION. I finished Artemis Tuesday and it was great! Also, Rosario Dawson was perhaps the best possible narrator for Jasmine – really, really great. Occasionally her accents for other characters were a little inconsistent, but she was good with those, too. But for Jasmine, she really nailed the snarky, smart, take-no-****, take-no-prisoners, I-know-better-than-anyone attitude. A flawed but fun character that Dawson really made come alive for me.

    (17) I’M BAAACK. I did not know this was coming. Hmm.

    @JJ: Great to see your mini-reviews!

  35. Gah ajsfl;kajdfl afjdlk stupid box. Or, stupid me. Click. CLICK!

    Ah, there we go. In 5485, we still forget the box.

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