Pixel Scroll 3/23/17 I Fifth The Pixel Electric

(1) SACRIFICIAL FIRST. Camestros Felapton, who has been “Reading ‘Corrosion’so you don’t have to”, files this after-action report:

So with the tune of ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’, running in my head I descend into ‘Corrosion: The Corroding Empire Part by Johan Kalsi and/or Harry Seldon Edited by Vox Day’.

Servo is a robot working in a cocktail bar, when we meet him. Again, if only this book was a pastiche of new-romantic pop lyrics but it isn’t – I mean how would it have been to have included a cocktail bar in the story?

Instead, we get a bunch of connected not-exactly awful stories set in a technological society run by ‘algorithms’. The style is one I shall now christen ‘Puppy Clunk’. If you read some of the less appalling slated works in 2015, you’ll recognise the style. It’s not illiterate or wholly unreadable but it just sort of goes ‘clunk’ in every sentence.

(2) FLAME ON. Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibbard assures everyone that the “’Game of Thrones’ dragaons are ‘the size of 747s’ in season 7”. Is there a word in Dothraki for “bodacious”?

The dragons are bigger this season. Okay, we say that every year. But this time, they are a lot bigger.

For Game of Thrones season 7, which has Daenerys’ trio of beasts headed to Westeros as part of the dragon queen’s invading fleet, the creatures are more fearsome than ever before.

“The dragons this year are the size of 747s,” director Matt Shakman tells EW. “Drogon is the biggest of the bunch – his flame is 30-feet in diameter!”

Shakman is one of four directors helming next season (the others are GoT vets Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, and Mark Mylod). He was probably being at least somewhat approximate when comparing the dragons to the venerable Boeing airliner. But for reference, a 747 is about 230 feet long with a 210 feet wingspan. So, really big.

(3) BLIND DATE. I’ve used up my quota of free articles in the Washington Post this month, however, Daniel Dern recommends this article about The Expanse. If you are still on the free side of the paywall, treat yourself to “The best show about international relations on television right now is on – wait for it – Syfy”.

(4) OCTAVIA BUTLER. Fortunately this Boston Globe article hasn’t gone behind the paywall just yet — “Science fiction, black music meet in Toshi Reagon’s opera-in-progress”.

In the parable of the sower in the Gospels, Jesus tells his followers about different outcomes from scattering seeds. Some are cast to the side and eaten by birds, some are planted in rocky soil or among thorns and fail to grow, but the seeds sown on “good ground” will take root and provide a bounty.

Science-fiction author Octavia E. Butler called back to that allegory about the word of God with her 1993 book “Parable of the Sower,” about a young woman in an apocalyptic future America who wanders a drought-stricken landscape, planting the seeds of a new religion fueled by empathy.

Now Butler’s book is adapted into an opera that synthesizes a wide range of musical styles culled from its creators’ deep reservoir of knowledge about black music in America.

(5) TODAY’S DAYS

You get your choice:

Commemorates March 23rd, 1989, when a large asteroid missed the Earth by a mere 500,000 miles – a very near miss indeed! What would you do if an asteroid was about to hit the Earth – how would you spend your last hours, and would you even want to know?

(6) FISHER MEMORIAL. The public memorial service for mother and daughter will take place March 25.

Fans will be able to pay their respects to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher during a public memorial Saturday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills, where the late stars were buried together in January.

The joint service — described as a “celebration of life” — will begin at 1 p.m., Todd Fisher said in an announcement about the tribute for his mother and sister on his website.

“We will be celebrating their lives with friends, family members, and the people who loved them, you,” he wrote in the announcement.

The memorial will take place inside the cemetery’s Hall of Liberty, which, according to the Forest Lawn website, seats more than 1,000.

(7) GRAVE CONCERNS. Patrick Stewart is among the people campaigning to preserve a piece of Brooklyn history — “Patrick Stewart: Revolutionary War heroes are buried under empty Gowanus lot!”

Starship Enterprise captain and Park Slope resident Sir Patrick Stewart is throwing his weight behind a controversial theory that the bodies of hundreds of Revolutionary War heroes are buried beneath an vacant lot in Gowanus — and he wants a memorial placed there so that history never forgets the name “Maryland 400.”

Stewart claimed in a recent Gentleman’s Quarterly interview that the empty Ninth Street site is the final resting place of the famed band of soldiers — who died saving General Washington’s rebel army from annihilation during the Battle of Brooklyn — and said he has personally petitioned Mayor DeBlasio to install a monument to them there, to which Hizzoner replied, “I’m on it.”

(8) NEAGLE OBIT. Long-time New Orleans-area fan Robert Neagle (1955-2017) passed away March 22 from a massive heart attack. He was active in many local and regional fan groups, and a veteran conrunner. I first met him at Nolacon II 1988), where he was wearing his Porno Patrol t-shirt. Neagle was the Captain of the Porno Patrol and I remember asking for an explanation of what they did, and vaguely remember an explanation involving the French Quarter. I remember much more clearly being grateful that he and his friends were volunteering at the con which needed all the help it could get.

Neagle was chairman of Crescent City Con throughout its 20-year history, ending in 2005. He was one of the founders of the Companions of Doctor Who, chaired DeepSouthCon 37 (1999), and worked on Vulcon, CoastCon and NOSFF, the New Orleans Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival. He was a member of Area 504 and the Amalgamation of Non-Aligned Lifeforms Starfleet.

He was the first Fan GoH of the (relatively new) Gulf Coast convention CONtraflow. He was honored for his contributions to Southern fandom with the Rebel Award in 2001.

Neagle is being cremated and there are no services planned at this time.

(9) COMIC SECTION. Pearls Before Swine has a real groaner today.

(10) STIFLED DISCOURSE. Lela E. Buis, in “Intimidating People Into Silence”, comments on a political trend to threaten and bully people:

In the last blog, I reported on a group (wisely anonymous) who advanced an article challenging Cecily Kane’s 2016 Fireside article that used a statistical analysis to show anti-black bias among SFF editors. Although the anonymous authors agreed there was a bias against black authors, they disagreed on the cause. After threats, they withdrew the article. Fireside then posted the article on their site.

So, what was the problem here? Why were these authors threatened? Was it because they challenged Kane’s specific conclusions about editorial bias? Or was it because they challenged possible gains that might have been made because of Kane’s article? Is this a political issue? Are the anonymous authors misguided statisticians? Or are they really racists trying to undermine black progress?

The interesting thing is that this isn’t an isolated case of attacking and bullying people, not just for their social/political views, but also for research that might contradict the opposition’s conclusions. It’s actually a fairly common theme in US society right now….

(11) KSR H2O NYC. From Scientific American “Q&A: Kim Stanley Robinson Explains How He Flooded Manhattan”

His new book, New York 2140, explores the interplay of climate change and global finance on a warmer, wetter future world

What would you say this book is really about? It’s about climate change and sea level rise, but it’s also about the way that our economic system doesn’t allow us to afford a decent future. As one of the characters says early in the book, “We’ve got good tech, we’ve got a nice planet, but we’re fucking it up by way of stupid laws.”

Finance, globalization—this current moment of capitalism—has a stranglehold on the world by way of all our treaties and laws, but it adds up to a multigenerational Ponzi scheme, an agreement on the part of everybody to screw the future generations for the sake of present profits. By the logic of our current system we have to mess up the Earth, and that is crazy. My new novel explores this problem and how we might get out of it.

(12) WHO OF WHOVILLE. At the end of Daily Beast’s post about coverage of yesterday’s terror incident, “Londoners Reject British ‘Traitors’ Peddling Terror Dystopia on Fox News”, comes a genre reference —

James Moran, a screenwriter who worked on shows including Doctor Who and Torchwood, said the unique nature of London could never be altered.

“The only things that shut down London: (a) leaves, (b) 3 flakes of snow, (c) when you try to get on trains without letting people off first,” he wrote “Now let’s carry on being Londoners. Rude, always in a hurry, and completely ignoring each other, LIKE GOD INTENDED.”

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Stephen Burridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Raymond Boudreau, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

104 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/23/17 I Fifth The Pixel Electric

  1. 1) Poor Cam. At least get people to donate to charity in your name if you are going to jump on the err, hand grenade of reading Theodore Beale’s latest.

  2. Paul Weimer on March 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm said:

    1) Poor Cam. At least get people to donate to charity in your name if you are going to jump on the err, hand grenade of reading Theodore Beale’s latest.

    Everything is a learning experience. For example I learnt:
    1. you shouldn’t eat starch based packing peanuts because they aren’t made in food-safe conditions
    2. Synth-pop 80’s sensation, The Human League, were Doctor Who fans and produced an electronic tribute to Tom Baker
    True, neither of those were in Vox’s book but they proved suitable distractions.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2k3nug

  3. (1) I haven’t read either the original or the alleged parody in this case, but its writer(s) could, it seems to me, claim that they were indeed trying to be funny. Who’s to judge? I think we all have read stories and novels, or seen movies, that were intended to be funny parodies but didn’t raise as much as a chuckle.

  4. Oh Lela, your article needs some editing. Here’s a start:

    “Although the anonymous authors agreed there was a bias against black authors, they disagreed on the cause [made some basic analytic errors in their own analysis]. After [they claimed without showing any evidence they received] threats, they withdrew the [their anonymous and poorly supported] article.”

  5. (10) STIFLED DISCOURSE.

    Mike, I really wish you wouldn’t give this troll bandwidth. 🙄

  6. “(3) BLIND DATE. I’ve used up my quota of free articles in the Washington Post this month”
    — Ahem. Warning, rant ahead:
    We MUST support our news media. As the Post’s new (perhaps overly dramatic) motto says, “Democracy Dies in the Dark”. SUBSCRIBE, dangit!
    /rant

    @gottacook — “(1) I haven’t read either the original or the alleged parody in this case, but its writer(s) could, it seems to me, claim that they were indeed trying to be funny. Who’s to judge?”

    VD has himself said that it isn’t a parody — yes, contradicting himself. Big surprise.

  7. I’ve used up my quota of free articles in the Washington Post this month

    Delete the folder of their cookies from your browser history. (It works for me, although I don’t go there that often.)

  8. (12) Who of Whoville
    He missed ‘standing on the wrong side of the escalators’. 🙂

  9. JJ: Why, a leading figure in our field (not VD) drew my attention to it this morning. I thought I would take advantage of his unjaded eyes in this case.

  10. I don’t remember Lela E. Buis being considered a troll… Did something happen?

    Given the nature of the first example, it might have been fairer to ensure that the second example was of attempted suppression of someone on the left. Otherwise the article comes across as painting a picture of one-sided actions, which just isn’t the case.

  11. Meredith: I don’t remember Lela E. Buis being considered a troll… Did something happen?

    Yes, a whole bunch of trolling while you’ve been gone. 🙄

  12. Mike Glyer: Why, a leading figure in our field (not VD) drew my attention to it this morning. I thought I would take advantage of his unjaded eyes in this case.

    This trailing figure in our field very deliberately did not include this post or its predecessor in the set of links sent to you in the last couple of days, given that the author has a demonstrated history of a profound lack of understanding of what qualifies as “scientific research”, “bullying”, or “threats”. 🙄

  13. gottacook on March 23, 2017 at 6:11 pm said:

    (1) I haven’t read either the original or the alleged parody in this case, but its writer(s) could, it seems to me, claim that they were indeed trying to be funny.

    I may have missed something but no, I really don’t think the actual book ‘Corrosion: Collapsing Empire Part 1’ is trying to be funny. I think it is intended to be a straight Sci-Fi epic in the style of Foundation i.e. a series of short stories intended to show the outcome of historical events. Vox’s tame reviewers describe it as a straight sci-fi story also.

    I’m told John Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire is quite funny in places, though.

  14. (3) I’ve used up my quota of free articles in the Washington Post this month

    I’ve got four browsers on the machine I’m typing this on (Chrome, Firefox, MS Edge, and Brave). I’ve got at least 4 working computers in the house, plus phone, plus tablet. Sometimes, incognito windows in existing browsers can reset the cumulative article count. It’s hard to use up the quota.

  15. (10)
    @Lela’s MO is coming at a story or subject from a specific* angle and then, when engaged in discussion about said subject, claiming ignorance** about it. You can see that happen in the comments of the linked story when @Greg Hullender brings up The Bell Curve. It is slimy, to be excessively polite.

    ETA: I also agree, BTW, that Murray should be allowed to speak – that refuting people like him is important, particularly in the context of higher education.

    * right wing, okay. It’s right wing.

    ** don’t get me wrong – I believe her when she says she’s knows nothing about the subjects she is writing on – I just find that disingenuous.

  16. (7) There’s an elegant monument to the Maryland 400 in Prospect Park, at the base of Lookout Hill (which is said to be where they fought). There are some details at the Prospect Park website.

    I was at the monument last weekend, watching a young Northern Goshawk (not a usual bird in New York City), who was in the vicinity and frequently perched up in the trees on Lookout Hill.

  17. 1) Beale’s produced a complicated explanation of how it is both a parody and NOT a parody. The jist of it runs that this is an Asimov pastiche done right in contrast to Scalzi’s done wrong. That Scalzi might have had loftier goals then writing an Asimov pastiche was ignored by Beale. Likewise, the fact that he did not produce an Asimov pastiche done right.

  18. Space Oddity on March 23, 2017 at 9:19 pm said:

    1) Beale’s produced a complicated explanation of how it is both a parody and NOT a parody. The jist of it runs that this is an Asimov pastiche done right in contrast to Scalzi’s done wrong. That Scalzi might have had loftier goals then writing an Asimov pastiche was ignored by Beale. Likewise, the fact that he did not produce an Asimov pastiche done right.

    And also by that argument Day’s line of pseudo-Heinlein juveniles would count as ‘parody’.

  19. kathodus on March 23, 2017 at 8:47 pm said:

    ETA: I also agree, BTW, that Murray should be allowed to speak – that refuting people like him is important, particularly in the context of higher education.

    While I am sympathetic to the idea of refuting Murray’s various arguments, the fact that they keep being refuted and yet continue to gain traction with a major political party and are used to shape policy, I’m left with the unhappy conclusion that simply refuting weak ideas with reason and evidence is insufficient.

    Consider global warming. Since the early 1990s, the evidence of anthropogenic global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions primarily from burning fossil fuels has only grown stronger. The political direction of major conservative parties in several countries has headed in the opposite direction.

  20. Camestros Felapton on March 23, 2017 at 10:00 pm said:

    And also by that argument Day’s line of pseudo-Heinlein juveniles would count as ‘parody’.

    Hmmm.

    I can grok that.

  21. @Camestros Felapton

    While I am sympathetic to the idea of refuting Murray’s various arguments, the fact that they keep being refuted and yet continue to gain traction with a major political party and are used to shape policy, I’m left with the unhappy conclusion that simply refuting weak ideas with reason and evidence is insufficient.

    Yeah. I just don’t know the proper response, and it doesn’t seem like violence helps anyone but the VDs of the world, in the long run.

  22. Also, still thinking on this… @Camestros, your strategy for dealing with such people – humorous engagement, gentle mockery when appropriate – seems ideal to me. I understand not everyone has the energy or the fucks (spoons, if you will) to give to such efforts, but I think your approach does a lot to defuse the stink bombs *pups and their philosophical brethren like to drop.

  23. @Space Oddity: Not to mention Asimov was doing the fall of the Roman Empire, and Scalzi’s doing “What if the Age of Sail suddenly lost ocean currents?”

    But what’s over 1000 years and an entirely different sociopolitical system?

  24. (1) “…and only ex-surgeon turned rogue robot ‘Servo’ (no not the one from MST3K)…”

    /record-scratch/ WHAT? Next you’ll be telling me there’s no Croooooooow! *Book meets wall with great force*

    “[quoting the book] ‘We know all this, Caden,’ the Sixth Technocrat complained.”

    Henceforth, what was once known as “maid and butler dialog” and more recently as as “As You Know, Bob” will now be called “Making the Sixth Technocrat complain.” Or “We All Know, Caden.” I’m not picky.

    Also, I believe I am owed a Coke for the industrial-strength Human League earworm. Or a nice pot of second flush Darjeeling. Caffeine by any other name, wot?

  25. Sacrificial Sixth Technocrat!

    Well done Camestros for donating his living brain to science fiction.

    Ultravox Day: Fifth means nothing to me!

  26. Of course, like many of their late-70s, early-80s synthpop compatriots The Human League used a lot of SF imagery in their music, that and comics. Their ex-bandmates in Heaven 17 did much the same as did the closely related (in a rock family tree sense) ABC. And that was just Sheffield.

    Birmingham-born Duran Duran were even more SF-influenced and lead singer Simon Le Bons’ online book club regularly chooses SF as part of its group reads. Were he not so famous and were I no longer running cons, I’d have him as Fan GoH any day…

  27. All this talk about 80s music and SFF is making me want to play either A Rose for Iconoclastes or one of my Cats Laughing CDs.

  28. Important question for Camestros: How many Fifth Technocrats are in Corrosion? I think we’ve all come to expect a certain amount of fifths from Teddy; will not buy if the answer is less than two.

  29. Rev. Bob says All this talk about 80s music and SFF is making me want to play either A Rose for Iconoclastes or one of my Cats Laughing CDs.

    Did you know there’s a new Cats Laughing CD out? All the gangs there including Emma Bull and Steven Brust. And there’s a very cool film of the concert they did. T-shirts too.

  30. Simon Le Bon has an online book club where he reviews some SF/F and I’m just now learning of this?

    Internet you break my heart sometimes.

  31. In my opinion, Buis is not a troll. I’ve commented several times on her site, always disagreeing, and gotten civil discourse in return. Sometimes, she modifies her own opinions because of the conversations she encourages. Not very troll-like.

    “The Bell Curve” always struck me as an attempt to justify prejudice with poor science. Greg Hullender did a good job of pointing out the flaws on Buis’ site.

  32. @Kevin Harkness — “In my opinion, Buis is not a troll. ”

    I’ll agree with Kevin here.

    I’ve only had one discussion with Lela, in which I disagreed with her vehemently. I thought she was very much at fault for posting false information in a book review, and I told her so quite bluntly. Though she continued to disagree with me and did not fully admit to her mistakes, she remained civil throughout and did not censor any of my posts. I’ve also had a couple of discussions with puppyites in the past, and about them I have no such nice things to say. So — I may fight to the death against Lela’s viewpoint, but I won’t call her a troll.

    If you catch her making false statements, call her out on it — civilly. Probably best to do so on her own blog, since I get the impression that she doesn’t read file770 all that often.

  33. @Cat:

    Yes, I knew that. I used the Kickstarter to get the reunion CD and the back catalog. 😉

    That said, I think Rose wins out today. “Stream of Consciousness Blues” feels appropriate.

  34. MST3k and Asimov?

    Doomsday Satellite: Welcome! You have passed through the first three thresholds of the Isaac Asimov Literary Satellite! Enter the disarm code or enjoy the consequences. Remember, this and all literary works of the last century are the sole property of Isaac Asimov and his many affiliates. Thank you for intruding, you have five seconds.

    Crow: Quick Joel, cut EVERY wire!

    Joel: It’s not gonna work, it needs an access code.

    Servo: Try ego!

    Crow: Sideburns!

  35. @rcade: “Simon Le Bon…SF/F…” – wait, what?! I saw Duran Duran for New Year’s and it was awesomely fun. I will have to subscribe to Le Bon’s newsletter, now. 😉

    @Kevin Harkness & @Contrarius: Her comments here frequently seem to me to be drive-by trolling or sea lioning or some other form of trolling. So I’ve never been interested in reading her blog. (shrug)

  36. @Iphinome: “Like all the best books, this is edited by a gun-toting feline….” – LOL! Thanks for the link – off to read the rest.

    ETA: Whoops, I meant to say – many thanks to @JJ! 😀

  37. @kendall — “sea-lioning” is a new one on me. Will have to look that one up!

    Let us just say Buis doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the average pup I’ve run into, and we can forego quibbling about her position in relation to the borders of the troll universe. 😉

  38. @Iphonome

    I’m not sure that’s a fake review, he shows signs of having actually opened the book!
    (Props to JJ for the great idea)

    On Buis, she’s not especially trollish most of the time, she usually just does this thing of constantly posing questions to insinuate rather than just stating what she means, and conflating criticism she disagrees with, with bullying. For an example of both of these, see the linked article.
    She has thrown the occasional full-blown troll into comments here before now though.

  39. Having had a bit of a hunt around old comment sections, I think an argument could be made that Lela E. Buis occasionally dips into concern trolling, but overall the worst of it was being misinformed and refusing to admit it. I didn’t see anything which would justify keeping her blog out of Pixel Scroll roundups. There are far worse people who are included from time to time.

    ETA: And also what Mark mentions, with the insinuating questions and the defensiveness. I don’t think those are troll-things so much as just annoying, though.

    @JJ

    Not really very specific. 🙂

  40. @Mark
    On Buis, she’s not especially trollish most of the time, she usually just does this thing of constantly posing questions to insinuate rather than just stating what she means, and conflating criticism she disagrees with, with bullying. For an example of both of these, see the linked article.

    I don’t see anything in the linked article that conflates criticism she disagrees with, with bullying. (she does ask a bunch of rhetorical questions)

  41. @Bill

    I don’t see anything in the linked article that conflates criticism she disagrees with, with bullying.

    There are examples in this thread but I’m afraid it’s rather long. The gist of it was that public criticism (that Buis disagrees with), and certainly action such as withdrawing from membership or boycotting, constitutes coercion, bullying and harassment. The only acceptable criticism is a private, polite note.

  42. @Iphinome, but, but, but… that’s a REAL review. I’ve read There Will Be Walrus and I have to say that the reviewer got it spot-on!

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