Pixel Scroll 3/26/16 Who Killed Morlock Holmes?

(1) WHERE THE DEER AND ANTELOPE PLAY. BBC’s report “Grand Theft Auto deer causes chaos in game world” includes a video clip.

More than 200,000 people have tuned in to watch the deer via a video stream on the Twitch site.

Best version

The project uses a modified version of GTA V that let Mr Watanabe change the player to look like a deer. The animal wanders around the virtual 100 square miles of the San Andreas world in which the game is set.

“The most difficult thing during the creation of the project was simply teaching myself to modify GTA V,” Mr Watanabe told the BBC. “There is an incredibly active modding community and I figured out how to programme the mod through a lot of forum searches and trial and error.

“The biggest difficulty was getting it stable enough to run for 12-14 hours at a time without crashing,” he said.

He made the deer impervious to harm so it can keep on wandering despite being regularly shot at, beaten up, run over by cars and trucks, shelled by tanks and falling off buildings.

The trouble it has caused on military bases, beaches and on city streets led, at one point, to it having a four star wanted rating.

The deer regularly teleports to a new position on the game map so it does not get stuck in one part and to make sure it samples the games’s many different environments and meets lots of its artificial inhabitants.

(2) JEDI EVANGELISM. Darren Garrison wanted to be sure I knew about “Jedism in the Wisconsin State Capitol”. I enjoy running Jedi religious stories more when the concept hasn’t been appropriated for the culture wars.

Around Easter every year, the Capitol rotunda becomes cluttered with numerous religious displays, mostly of a Christian nature. This year’s the rotunda features a large wooden cross, several Christian posters promoting Jesus’ death, and pro-life displays, among many others. This time, the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (AHA) have added a Jedism poster to the mix.

The poster, designed by AHA, is based on a modern, newer religion called Jedism. Its followers worship Jedis such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, from the Star Wars movies. Their poster reads “One Man Died for All”, referring to the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The poster displays a portrait of Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Jedi, but is oftentimes confused as a portrait of Jesus. Their poster asks the following questions with respective answers: “Who is this man?” “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, “Why is it important that we remember him?” “To escape the death star”, and “How does his death help us?” “Because he comes back as a ghost at times and it can be quite surprising”.

(3) ORIGIN STORY. Andrew Liptak praises “The Innovative Jim Baen” at Kirkus Reviews.

Baen returned to Ace Books in 1977, where he began working with publisher Tom Doherty. Doherty had grown up reading Galaxy, and “I had kept reading both of those magazines,” He recalled, “I thought [Baen] was doing an exceptional job, and brought in him to head up our science fiction [program].”

At Ace, Baen continued his streak of discovering new and interesting authors. “He brought in a number of strong authors,” Doherty recalled. His time at Ace was short-lived, however: Doherty decided to venture out into the publishing world on his own, setting up Tor Books. Baen, along with Harriet McDougal, joined Tor Books, where he continued his work under Doherty editing science fiction

Baen followed “the same pattern that had revived Ace,” Drake wrote in his remembrance, “a focus on story and a mix of established authors with first-timers whom Jim thought just might have what it took. It worked again.”

In 1983, rival publisher Simon & Schuster began having some problems with their paperback division, Pocket Books. Their own SF imprint, Timescape Books, run by David G. Hartwell, wasn’t doing well, and was being closed down. They reached out to Baen, asking him if he’d like to run the imprint.

Doherty remembered that Baen wasn’t keen on joining Simon & Schuster: “Look, Jim doesn’t want to join a big corporation,” he told Ron Busch, Simon & Schuster’s president of mass-market publishing. “But he’s always dreamed of having his own company. How about we create a company which you will distribute. We’ll take the risk and make what we can as a small publisher, and you’ll make a full distribution profit on our books?” Busch agreed to the deal: he would get his science fiction line.

Baen formed his own publishing house, Baen Books, with Doherty as a partner, and began to publish his particular brand of science fiction.

(4) KEN LIU INTERVIEW. Derek Kunsken has “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories: An Interview with Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-Winner Ken Liu” at Black Gate.

You play with a lot of myths. Good Hunting and The Litigation Master and the Monkey King pull in Chinese myth. The Waves weaves the creation myths of different cultures into the narrative. State Change creates its own mythology of souls and famous people. What are your favorite myths? When writers use myth, do they only borrow that cultural and thematic gravitas, or do you think that writers today can bring to the table a new way of looking at older myths?

All cultures are founded on myths, and modern life hasn’t changed that at all. It’s important to remember that living myths are not static, but evolving, living tales we craft.

Our sense of what it means to be American, for example, depends on contesting and re-interpreting the foundational myths of America—our “Founding Fathers,” our original sins of slavery and conquest, our exceptionalism, our self-image as the city on the hill, the crucibles of the wars that gave us birth, the gods and heroes who laid down our republican institutions and democratic ideals like the bones and sinew of a giant upon whose body we make our home.

Or look at the myths that animate Silicon Valley: the idea that a single person, armed with a keyboard (and perhaps a soldiering iron), can transform the world with code; the belief that all problems can be reduced down to a matter of optimization, disintermediation, and “disruption”; the heroes and gods who founded the tech colossi that bestride the land while we scurry between their feet — some of us yearning to join them in a giant battle mecha of our own and others wishing to bring them down like the rebels on Hoth.

(5) COVERS UP. John Scalzi answers readers’ questions about writing at Whatever.

Listhertel: There’s an adage not to judge a book by its cover, but we all know people do. I know authors get little to no say in the cover art, but do you have any preferences? Painting versus digital, people versus objects, a consistent look versus variety? Are there any of your covers you particularly love or hate (including foreign editions)?

The book cover of mine I like least is the one on The Book of the Dumb, but inasmuch as BotD sold over 150,000 copies, meaning that the cover art worked for the book, this might tell you why authors are not generally given refusal rights on their covers. Cover art is advertising, both to booksellers and to readers, and that has to be understood. I’m at a point where if I really hate a cover, I’ll be listened to, but I also know what I don’t know, so I rarely complain. But it also helps that, particularly with Tor, the art director knows her gig, and they do great covers. I would probably complain about oversexualized covers, or characters not looking on the cover they way they’re described in the book, but in neither case has this happened to me.


  • March 26, 1969 — Rod Steiger stars as Carl, The Illustrated Man.

(7) TWO SPACEMEN. From George Takei:

Crossed paths Thursday with Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, at Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Experience, where I am appearing Friday and Saturday. Buzz walked on the moon 47 years ago, back in 1969. Isn’t it time someone set foot on Mars?


Takei Aldrin COMP

(8) MORE FROM SALT LAKE. “Doctors and River reunite to celebrate the infinite possibilities of ‘Doctor Who’” in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Actors from “Doctor Who,” including Alex Kingston, left, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and Matt Smith fielded fan questions and discussed the popular show among the Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX 2016 at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday….

Even a fleeting moment is going to follow Smith for the rest of his life. A fan in Friday’s audience asked Smith if he would do the Drunk Giraffe. The Drunk Giraffe is a dance move Smith’s iteration of The Doctor does, during which he throws his arms over his head and waves them around like noodles of spaghetti.

Fans count the moment — which takes up just 3 seconds of screen time — as a favorite of Smith’s run. Smith, to uproarious cheering, obliged.

“For the rest of my life, I’m going to have to do that,” Smith said. Kingston joked that McCoy and Davison should join him; alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

(9) NEEDS MORE KATSU. BBC Magazine remembers “The octopus that ruled London” at the Crystal Palace in 1871. Several stfnal references.

“It would have been a bit like a freak show for the Victorians,” says Carey Duckhouse, curator of the Brighton Sea Life Centre, as the aquarium is known today. “They would have featured models of ships in the cases for the octopus to grab hold of. They would probably have loved that, as they enjoy playing.”

One possible visitor to Crystal Palace aquarium was the writer HG Wells, who was just five years old when it opened and lived in Bromley, four miles away. Several octopus-like creatures appear in his stories.

In his 1894 essay The Extinction of Man, Wells pondered a “new and larger variety” that might “acquire a preferential taste for human nutriment”. Could it, he asked, start “picking the sailors off a stranded ship” and eventually “batten on” visitors to the seaside?

More famously, the invading Martians in Wells’s War of the Worlds have tentacle-like arms.

(10) UPSIDE DOWN IS UPRIGHT FINANCIALLY. The Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Kickstarter appeal has successfully funded. A total of $23,206 was raised from 1,399 backers.

The anthology, edited by Monica Valentinelli and Jaym Gates, is an anthology of short stories and poems that highlights the long-standing tradition of writers who identify tropes and cliches in science fiction, fantasy, and horror and twist them into something new and interesting.

(11) SANS SHERLOCK. “WonderCon 2016: HOUDINI & DOYLE Screening and Q&A” at SciFi4Me.com.

During this year’s WonderCon, there was a preview screening of the first episode of the new Fox show Houdini & Doyle, “The Maggie’s Redress”, followed by a short Q&A with Michael Weston, who plays Harry Houdini, and executive producers David Shore, David Ticher, and David Hoselton.

The series follows the two men in 1901 as they go about investigating cases that involve supposed paranormal events. Houdini, riding high on his celebrity as a magician, is the doubter, wanting to bring reason and expose those who would take advantage of people who are looking for comfort from the great beyond. Doyle, on the other hand, has just killed off Holmes and is trying to get out of that shadow, and is the believer, wanting proof that there is something more to this life beyond death. We will be recapping the series when it premieres.


(12) GRAPHIC PREFERENCES. Barry Deutsch completed review of “2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Graphic Novel Recommendations, Part 3: Crossed + One Hundred, and, Stand Still, Stay Silent”.

….Moore returns to the reinvention game with Crossed + One Hundred, a new graphic novel set in Garth Ennis’ awful Crossed universe. Crossed was Ennis’ attempt to make the zombie genre more disturbing and violent: the premise is that most of humanity population gets infected with a mysterious disease that turns them into torturing, murdering, rape-happy idiots. In many ways Crossed is the comics equivalent of the Saw movies; cheap, gratuitous, and compelling…..

(13) VOLTRON WILL RETURN. Engadget has the story and a gallery of images — “Here’s your first look at Netflix’s ‘Voltron’ series”.

As Netflix expands its suite of original programming it’s going to the nostalgia well once again. The good news here is that instead of another sitcom spinoff like Fuller House, we’re getting Voltron: Legendary Defender. Today at Wondercon 2016 its partner Dreamworks Animation showed off a teaser trailer and some artwork that confirm everything at least looks right to children of the 80s.

(14) BACK TO BASIC. The video “How to Send an ‘E mail’–Database–1984” is an excerpt from a 1984 episode of the ITV series Database where viewers learned how to send emails. Major retro future action is obtained where they get onto the net through a phone modem with a dial on the telephone… (Yes, I’ve done that, and I have the white beard to prove it…)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Darren Garrison, JJ, and Barry Deutsch for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

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325 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/26/16 Who Killed Morlock Holmes?

  1. Yes, erasure/appropriation is the problem. Horror is my original genre. Even if I read less of it nowadays, it is what I read during all my “character building years”. It is much of what defines me and how I have created my home. And yes, for me it was recategorizing whole slews of horror books as fantasy and that is what I reacted to.

    I’m not fond at all of the term Dark Fantasy for that reason, beause I feel it tries to erase the background and history of several types of books. Which is why I can accept Gothic Fantasy as an alternative.

    At least for some of what you mentioned. 😛

  2. Come to think of it, it is like that discussion if Star Wars is Fantasy or Science Fiction. George RR Martin said about this:

    “My own definition of the two genres is pretty simple. It’s all about the furniture. If it has spaceships and aliens, it’s science fiction.”

    And for me, if it has werewolves, ghosts, mummies, demons and vampies (and no orcs or elves), it is Horror. The Furniture Rule.

  3. @Hampus: “And for me, if it has werewolves, ghosts, mummies, demons and vampies (and no orcs or elves), it is Horror. The Furniture Rule.”

    Trouble is, there’s a lot of vampires and elves running around together all through UF. (Arguably, there’s even an elf on the bridge of the Enterprise.) To extend the Furniture Rule to the modern state of fiction, vampires and zombies and werewolves are no longer “spaceships.” They’re desks and lamps, suitable to lots of different kinds of story-homes. They’ve clawed their way out of the grave and into all kinds of other places.

    I mean, I get where you’re coming from, but I think you’re trying to weigh holograms here. Horror is a bad match for the Furniture Rule because the furniture isn’t the point. The horror is the point, hence the name. Why call something Horror if it’s not scary? (See also the “Gravity isn’t SF because all the science is factual” argument from people who see “speculative science” as central to SF as a concept. I’m arguing that the core of Horror is the emotion of horror, not the props used to evoke it.)

    A story about falling in love with a $SUPERNATURAL_BEING is paranormal romance. A story about fighting the evil $SUPERNATURAL_BEING who murdered your family is horror. A story about your life as a $SUPERNATURAL_BEING and coming to terms with having to murder people while still trying to be a good person is dark fantasy.

    I simply don’t see that changing $SUPERNATURAL_BEING from “vampire” to “elf” (or vice versa) makes a difference in any of that. For that matter, changing it to “alien” merely switches the overlay from “fantasy” to “SF” – it doesn’t change the story.

  4. Rev. Bob: Well, I can only say again: I don’t agree with you at all. And that is ok.

  5. @Jack Lint:
    Urbane Fantasy – Elves in dinner jackets and evening gowns discussing the latest from Noël Coward.

    Please send me your book and subscribe me to your newsletter.

  6. King Bob:

    A story about falling in love with a $SUPERNATURAL_BEING is paranormal romance. A story about fighting the evil $SUPERNATURAL_BEING who murdered your family is horror. A story about your life as a $SUPERNATURAL_BEING and coming to terms with having to murder people while still trying to be a good person is dark fantasy.

    I don’t know that I’d draw the lines in quite the same place, but I generally agree — if a vampire is on a superhero team, that doesn’t make it a horror story. To be horror is about the story, not what kind of supernatural creature is in it.

    For instance, I’d say that THE SHINING, by Stephen King, is horror, but DOCTOR SLEEP, the sequel, featuring some of the same characters and building on the same events, is dark fantasy. There isn’t a lot of dread or helplessness in DOCTOR SLEEP; it’s a good-guys-with-supernatural-powers versus bad-guys-with-supernatural-powers story, while THE SHINING is the story of a supernaturally-gifted child tormented by his gift in a corrupting and malign place. Survival is as close as things get to victory in THE SHINING, while in DOCTOR SLEEP they get to straight-up kick evil-monster ass.

    But as usual, the exact boundaries of genres like this are inexact and fuzzy.

  7. @Kurt: “But as usual, the exact boundaries of genres like this are inexact and fuzzy.”

    Couldn’t agree more. We might quibble on whether a particular story best fits here or there, but it looks like our maps are at least of the same territory. 😉

    Next up: Is the Halloween series supernatural horror with an unkillable assailant, or mundane with a really tough one? 😀

  8. Yeah, even though it contains vampires and zombies, and even though I’m generally fine with fuzzy genre boundaries, I have a really hard time trying to fit Discworld into the category of horror. Especially when you have a zombie like Reg Shoe. 🙂

  9. So much comedic UF and PNR today where vampires drink synthetic blood and people apply to become one. Shapeshifters who only eat small animals, are born not made, and live fully in the human world. The worldbuidling has the supernatural/paranormal living side-by-side with humans, humans know about them, for the most part they live peacefully except for the bad apples both human and supernatural/paranormal/fairie. I just can’t read it as horror when I’m laughing my way through the books.

    But I’m a grownup. Each to their own.

  10. Petréa Mitchell on March 28, 2016 at 7:52 pm said:
    Hampus Eckerman said:

    And I hate all the nonsense of alpha werewolves authors feel obliged to put in to their books.


    Someone told me the initial dominance studies – alpha this and that – were actually done with chickens.
    Ever after, whenever I encounter something like alpha werewolves, this starts running through my mind:
    Makes it really difficult to take it seriously.

  11. @xtifir, @Jane_Dark: Hooray! More Natalie Babbitt fans! (And, Jane, oh my god yes to “The Search for Delicious” metaphorically matching the Puppy Hugo wars, with a certain blogger who shall not be named in the role of the bitter, dishonest, trouble-stirring Hemlock.)

    Filers! Natalie Babbitt wrote the incredible TUCK EVERLASTING, but if you have not yet done so, she ALSO wrote the brilliant THE EYES OF THE AMARYLLIS (earlier 20th century ghost story set on the coast, girl and her grandmother, and the lost-at-sea grandfather), and GOODY HALL, and the highly amusing DEVIL’S STORYBOOK and DEVIL’S OTHER STORYBOOK. All recommended, highly.

  12. Just to make it clear. I have never said that “Discworld” could be horror. I have been talking about using exclusively horror furniture. Also, I doubt Discworld would be called Dark Fantasy either.

    Also, my main gripe with Dark Fantasy is that it in no way acknowledge the roots of stories about werewolves and vampires (and by this, I mean what kind of movies and stories that have made them become mainstay). When people try co co-op Interview With A Vampire or Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s books into the dark fantasy realm, I think they are missing something. Therefore the preferred Gothic Fantasy. Even if I myself place them in Horror regardless.

    Sometimes I feel like people seem to ignore my acceptance of a different fantasy label just on purpose. 🙁

  13. Lauowolf:

    Someone told me the initial dominance studies – alpha this and that – were actually done with chickens.

    I’ve heard it was on horses?

  14. @microtherion: Yup! Really, what the original researchers discovered was that wolves in captivity developed the equivalent of prison-yard sociality.

  15. Agreeing like hell about the “alpha” dynamic: if I ever write Amish Millionaire Werewolves in Love, I’m going to make that “shit that happens when new werewolves aren’t socialized properly” and not feature it in the story except as an antagonist motive, because ugh.

    My books are paranormal romance, though historical. Lots of explicit sex, because I like that sort of thing (I actually liked the LKH books better once they became poly erotica–when it was Anita being Pure and Chaste, I noped right on out*), and either shapeshifting dragons or weird magic shit in the Victorian era.

    I loathe “claiming” or whatever, and I’m not fond of “fated mates” as a trope. I can kind of see why it exists, though: the genre standards (or at least those of the major publishers, in my experience) demand a pretty explicit happily-ever-after with marriage. Most books do not cover the years of relationship it would take to make that plausible in a modern setting. So “hey it’s fate” is kind of a workaround for “no really, these people who met three months ago are totally going to make it long-term, believe me.”

    I don’t do it–but I write historicals, where “we’ve known each other for a month of really intense experiences and sex” is actually more contact than many middle-to-upper-class couples of the time had pre-marriage, so the kludge is built into the setting.

    @Jack Lint: I too would read the hell out of that.

    * I support anyone’s right to do whatever they want sexually, including waiting until marriage, but I can’t identify.

  16. @Isabel: “Amish Millionaire Werewolves in Love” and other comments

    Y’know, I think you’d get along pretty well with my author friend who wrote this last month. You seem to be on similar wavelengths, including explicit and poly (but not historical).

  17. Some say dominance is like horses.
    Others say like chickens.
    From what I’ve seen in my sources
    I tend to favor horses
    But the plot still quickens
    If the research tastes like chickens:

  18. @Hampus Eckerman

    The way I see it is that Horror and Comedy are unusual genres in that they are all about generating a feeling not about props. Not to say that there are not Horror props and Supernatural Horror props but that you can write a story without any of them and it could still be Horror and you can write a story overflowing with them but not have it be Horror.

    That is where Dark Fantasy comes in as a story that uses Horror props without going for the Horror feel. There is not a special name for the converse because it is just called Horror.

  19. Hampus Eckerman on March 29, 2016 at 11:42 pm said:

    Someone told me the initial dominance studies – alpha this and that – were actually done with chickens.

    I’ve heard it was on horses?

    This guy apparently did the first academic stuff, and so set up the terms of the discourse.
    But I suspect anyone working with groups of animals had seen their specific social structures.

    Kip W.
    Works for me.

  20. Magewolf:

    “That is where Dark Fantasy comes in as a story that uses Horror props without going for the Horror feel. There is not a special name for the converse because it is just called Horror.”

    And again, that is why I accept the name Gothic Fantasy because it at least acknowledges the background of the props.

  21. Ha! managed to find the scroll with the alpha thread on it.

    I too find the trope irritating and enjoy authors who bend/twist it (which I think Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs are both doing in their series).

    There are werehumans in Andrews’ (they usually do not do well as humans–and only one directly appeared in the narrative, but the Lycos virus can infect animals, resulting in an animal that turns into a human).

    I, erm, may have plotted out and keep trying to find time to write an alternate world fantasy novel with Shifters (protagonist is a lesbian wolf shifter) and other magical types (Elves of a sort, Healers, etc.–no mundane/non-powered humans at all).

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