Pixel Scroll 3/29/17 “Scrolls! They Were Inwented By A Little Old Lady From Pixelgrad!”

(1) GEMMELL LONGLIST VOTING DEADLINE. First round balloting on The Gemmell Awards longlist closes March 31. It is free and open to the public. Click here to cast your vote for the Ravenheart Award (best cover art), Morning Star Award (best debut novel) and the Legend Award (best fantasy novel). The shortlists for each award will be announced and voting opened on April 21.

Legend Award “Snaga”

(2) MAKING BOOK. The next Doctor Who will be….? Here’s where British gamblers are putting their money this week.

Today, DoctorWhoTV.co.uk has shared a story from Betway. This particular bookmakers reckons that Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge – who’s set to appear in the young Han Solo movie next year – is in with a shot.

“Phoebe Waller-Bridge is all the rage with the punters at the moment”, a spokesperson revealed. “Her odds of being the next Doctor Who have collapsed from 20/1 to 2/1 since Monday morning and we’re on red alert, keeping an eye out for any more telling bets.

“Kris Marshall remains solid at 2/1, but the sudden rush of support for Waller-Bridge suggests the race to become TV’s next Time Lord is swinging in her favour.”

(3) SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK LYRICIST. He’s on the road again. (Wait, that isn’t his song!) Songwriter Bob Dylan is doing two concerts in Stockholm, so long as he’s in the neighborhood… “Bob Dylan finally agrees to accept Nobel Prize for Literature”.

Bob Dylan will finally accept his Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm this weekend, the academy has announced.

The American singer was awarded the prize in October but failed to travel to pick up the award, or deliver the lecture that is required to receive the 8m kroner ($900,000;£727,000) prize.

The academy said it would meet Dylan, 75, in private in the Swedish capital, where he is giving two concerts.

He will not lecture in person but is expected to send a taped version.

If he does not deliver a lecture by June, he will have to forfeit the prize money.

(4) CHANGELINGS. Debbie Urbanski pushes the envelope of literary discussion with her post “In Which I Make Up a Categorization Called ‘Slow-paced Genre Realism”.

I had a great time this past month savoring Version Control by Dexter Palmer. It clocks in at a little over 18 hours as an audio book, but once I settled into the story, I found the slow pacing to be really wonderful. I wonder if we can create a sub-genre in science fiction or fantasy of slow-paced genre novels (or slow-paced genre realism?). Think a little Alice Munro or Karl Ove Knausgard transported into a genre setting. Into such a categorization, I’d throw some of my favorite books: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, as well as Molly Gloss’s Dazzle of the Day and Wild Life. Ah, and how about the beloved The Wall by Marlen Haushofer? My Real Children by Jo Walton? And then there is this one book I read 20 years ago, which I can not locate, no matter how many creative Google searches I do, about a regular California community and a regular woman, maybe a mother, who is just essentially living in an almost boring way–and then, in what’s maybe the last two chapters, there is a nuclear holocaust. But that is such a small part of the book, maybe even an afterthought…

I’ll stop my list now. But I do admire the authors who write this way. I think it takes some courage to straddle the line, not just in style but in plotting, between genre and realistic fiction as they do, as genre readers may find such fiction slow, and literary readers may wonder why there has to be aliens in the story….

Urbanski’s story with the intriguing title “On the Problem of Replacement Children: Prevention, Coping, and Other Practical Strategies” appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January/February 2017. Although you have to buy the issue to read it, the author interview about this story shows why that might be something you’d want to do —

Tell us a bit about “On the Problem of Replacement Children: Prevention, Coping, and Other Practical Strategies.”

I’ve been interested in the idea of speculative non-fiction these last few years: what if you took a certain emotional element of your life, put it in a speculative setting, and then wrote about it? So on the one hand, the emotions in this story capture my experience raising my son, who has autism, and my struggle to work through what I needed to work through, accept the child I actually have, and figure out how I can best be a parent to him. On the other hand, this is a fictional story about a world where children are snatched from under the lax eyes of their parents and replaced with a different child from another world….

(5) GHOST NOT INCLUDED. Who ya gonna call? The LA Times called the real estate agent — “Haunted Hollywood home of ‘Dracula’ legend Bela Lugosi for sale for $3 million”.

It’s been over 80 years since iconic cinema star Bela Lugosi slept in this stately Tudor in Beachwood Canyon, yet his reputation still haunts it. Whether it’s called Westshire Manor, Castle La Paloma, or simply the Bela Lugosi House, the remodeled mansion is now for sale for $3 million.

The hillside Los Angeles neighborhood where this mansion is perched is right under the world-famous “Hollywood” sign, and is in fact still known as “Hollywoodland,” which is what the sign said when it was first constructed.

Best known for playing Count Dracula, Lugosi moved around Los Angeles and was hard to pin down, but the best sources place him in this particular home between 1934 and 1937. Apparently he, his fourth wife, Lillian, and their large dogs, including Great Danes and a white German Shepherd, enjoyed hiking to what was the Hollywoodland sign at the time.

Lugosi wasn’t the only celebrity to inhabit the manor. Actress Kathy Bates lived there for several years. Considering her roles in “Misery” as well as “American Horror Story,” we thought Westshore Manor might have a scary actor vibe.

(6) WOTF LIVESTREAM. The Writers of the Future Awards ceremony will be livestreamed on Sunday, April 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m. (PDT).

Streaming will be live from writersofthefuture.com and Facebook.com/WritersandIllustratorsoftheFuture.

The event will open with a fire dance, featuring performers from EMCirque, a Hollywood and Las Vegas based Circus Entertainment Production Company. Concurrent with the dance, Rob Prior (creator of the poster art for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and Larry Elmore will execute a live painting on stage.

Celebrity presenters will include Erika Christensen (co-star “The Case for Christ” releasing April 2017) and Marisol Nichols (Hermione Lodge in the CW’s “Riverdale”).

…As the top names in the science fiction and fantasy world, contest judges will be on hand to present the annual awards to this year’s writer and illustrator winners as well as the grand prize winner for each contest.

Writer judges who will be attending include: Kevin J. Anderson, Gregory Benford, Dave Farland, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Nancy Kress, Larry Niven, Jody Lynn, Nye, Nnedi Okorafor, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick and Robert J, Sawyer.

Illustrator judges will include: Ciruelo, Echo and Lazarus Chernik, Larry Elmore, Val Lakey Lindahn, Sergey Poyarkov and Rob Prior.


  • Born March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless

(8) CROWNED WITH LAURELS. Alison Bechdel will be the next Vermont Cartoonist Laureate. If that name sounds familiar, then you’ve doubtless heard of the Bechdel Test named for her. The test — whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk to each other about something other than a man or boy – first appeared in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985.

Next Thursday, April 6, Edward Koren will pass the torch — er, laurels — to his successor, Alison Bechdel, as Vermont Cartoonist Laureate. In a ceremony at the Statehouse, the longtime Bolton resident, creator of the strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and author of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic will become the third cartoonist laureate in the only state to regularly appoint one. The initiative originated with the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, the professional school founded by James Sturm and Michelle Ollie 10 years ago. Bechdel succeeds New Yorker cartoonist and Brookfield resident Koren, who in turn succeeded Vermont’s very first cartoonist laureate, James Kochalka of Burlington.

“It seemed obvious she could have been the choice from the get-go — we’re lucky to have so many great cartoonists in the state,” says Sturm of selecting Bechdel. “Besides all her accolades and fame, she’s really a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Cartooning is just essential to who she is and how she makes sense of the world.”

(9) MORE SCALZI BOOK TOUR STALKERS. There is now a “Johan Kalsi” YouTube channel and a second stalker video for it to host.

Made out to “Ted” (Theodore Beale) a.k.a Vox Day, John Scalzi encounters another unidentified member of the Dread Ilk, this time in Dallas, TX


(10) CH-CHING! Meanwhile, Nick Mamatas has discovered Bookscan is part of the vast conspiracy, or is accurately reporting sales of The Collapsing Empire, (probably the latter.)

(11) PLUG-INS, Roll on cyberpunk: Elon Musk creates brain-electrode firm.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has launched Neuralink, a start-up which aims to develop technology that connects our brains to computers.

A report from the Wall Street Journal, later confirmed in a tweet by Mr Musk, said the company was in its very early stages and registered as a “medical research” firm.

The company will develop so-called “neural lace” technology which would implant tiny electrodes into the brain.

The technique could be used to improve memory or give humans added artificial intelligence. …

Specialists in the field envision a time when humans may be able to upload and download thoughts.

(12) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. While Musk’s scientists are coming up with next-generation advances, here’s what’s available today – and it’s pretty amazing. “Paralyzed Man Uses Thoughts To Control His Own Arm and Hand”.

First, surgeons implanted two electrode arrays in Kochevar’s brain. The electrodes detect signals coming from areas of his brain that once controlled his right hand and arm.

“We have an algorithm that sort of transforms those neural signals into the movements he intended to make,” says Robert Kirsch, a professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western.

But movement requires muscles. So doctors also implanted electrodes in muscles that control his arm and hand movements.

The final result was a system that could determine which movements Kochevar wanted to perform, then electrically stimulate the appropriate muscles in his arm.

(13) LEARNING CURVE. As part of getting enough English speakers in time for the Tokyo Olympics, Japan assigns Fawlty Towers and Red Dwarf as homework. Because you never know when it’s going to be necessary to tell someone they can’t drive a nail with a hamster.

Japan is struggling to make sure it has enough proficient English speakers when it hosts the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

And the classic BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers is being deployed by some teachers in an attempt to give Japanese students an example of spoken English – rather than focusing on written language and grammar.

Japan’s government and businesses want to use the Olympics to boost tourism and global trade and to present a positive image of Japan to the world.

So the government needs to ensure a supply of English speakers to be Olympic volunteers and work in the accommodation, tourism, and retail industries.

There is also a demand for professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to speak to visitors or competitors in English.

(14) BLOODSHED AND APPLE PIE. Two inseperable American traditions — Adrian Garro at Cut4.com says “Baseball is coming…and so are ‘Game of Thrones’ theme nights at MLB ballparks”.

This summer, fans of both baseball and GoT will have plenty to be excited about … because special Game of Thrones® theme nights are coming to ballparks around MLB — featuring commemorative collectibles, ticket packages, giveaways, special co-branded merchandise, social media events and a lot more.

MLB has staged promotions like this before — like, say, the trailer for “The Force Awakens” as reimagined by the Twins — but this will be on a whole other level.

HBO has yet to announce when Season 7 will get underway, but we do know it will be some time this summer. Currently, at least 19 teams are scheduled to participate, including the D-backs, Red Sox, Reds, White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Royals, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, Rays and Nationals.

Hold the door for more information coming soon about this partnership, which has to be the biggest news since Jon Snow coming back from … well, you know.

(15) OTHER MLB PROMOTIONS. Martin Morse Wooster also sent the link to Michael Clair’s article about this summer’s best Major League Baseball promotions because the author says the Noah-Syndergaard-as-Thor bobblehead is ranked as the number 1 giveaway by anybody this year.

In the original Marvel Comics, Thor inhabited Dr. Donald Blake’s body while on Earth. But that’s just a fictional story. In our actual universe, Thor inhabits Noah Syndergaard every fifth day. Thanks to the Mets and Marvel Comics, you can walk away with the depiction of this stunning transformation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

109 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/29/17 “Scrolls! They Were Inwented By A Little Old Lady From Pixelgrad!”

  1. (9) I’m trying to figure out the best dedications for these. They’re getting him to sign “SJWs Always Lie”, right?

    Here’s my suggestions:

    “You overpaid for this book, John Scalzi”

    “I’m mentioned in Chapter Five and Chapter Five, John Scalzi”

    “I made more money while signing this than Ted Beale makes in a career, John Scalzi”

    “Your omnipresent nemesis, John Scalzi”

    “Happy holidays, John Scalzi”

    “I suggested ‘green with envy’ for the cover color – oh well!, John Scalzi”

    “Will this dedication get nominated for a Hugo now?, John Scalzi”

    “There’s always the Dragon Awards, John Scalzi”

    “Actually it’s about ethics in book signing, John Scalzi”

    “This is the closest this book will get to good writing, John Scalzi”

  2. 9) We really need a better fandom nickname for them then “Dread Ilk”, even if does have an almost ‘McLovin’-ish charm.

    I propose “Dwead Elk”.

  3. We really need a better fandom nickname for them then “Dread Ilk”, even if does have an almost ‘McLovin’-ish charm.


  4. I proposed Teddy Boys a while ago, but that joke depends on knowing some slightly obscure British history.

    How about Bealy-Mouths? 🙂

  5. rcade: Most mass market paperbacks are returned by ripping off the cover and recycling/destroying the body of the book. The store then sends the covers back for credit. They used to have notes in the boilerplate of some books that if you find a copy for sale without the cover it should have been destroyed.

    Chicken Vox? I’m sticking Dead Elk until I hear something better.

  6. I’m sticking with Dread Ilk, just giving it the distinctive pronunciation you get when you pretend to have a bad taste in your mouth while saying it. Which, of course, I do.

  7. “3) That’s an interesting restriction on getting the prize. Generally fair enough, but i wonder what happens when they give the peace prize to a political prisoner?”

    Allready happened. Aung San Suu Kyi received the price while still in house arrest.

    Otherwise, the statement that Dylan has to hold his lecture before June is incorrect. If there is good reason, this may be delayed even longer. Theodore Roosevelt waited four years before giving his lecture.

  8. Anyway, it’s more the mark of Torgersens and Mad Genii to need a cutesy name or mispronunciation of a real name — CHORF, things like that.

  9. John Seavey –

    I’d think ‘Former SFWA President John Scalzi’ would be good enough, but I doubt he spends too much time thinking about it and more time on moving on to the people who are there to see him and vice versa.

    Interesting to see the TV contract, there’s seems to be a lot of competition for different channels/services trying to get SFF content to compete against each other with.

    Mike Glyer

    Anyway, it’s more the mark of Torgersens and Mad Genii to need a cutesy name or mispronunciation of a real name — CHORF, things like that

    Or Dread Elk, Evil League of Evil, etc. I sort of feel that their coming up with nicknames that sound like a 12 year old boy naming their clubhouse takes care of all the mockery already.

  10. @ Lee thank you for the reccomendation of This Alien Shore. The book blurb hooked me and I ordered it.

  11. rcade: Midlist books have an incredibly short shelf-life. I don’t know if it’s as short as three weeks, but four weeks wouldn’t surprise me — the next month’s new releases come in then, and it’s time to get rid of the “old” books. Which is why the world needs specialty bookstores.

  12. @ Kevin: Great! This is one of my Desert Island Books, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

  13. 9: well, after they get a bunch of samples of his signature, I wonder what they’re going to do with them? Apply for credit cards? sell counterfeit signed copies…send signed threatening letters?

  14. John Seavey: if you go here, you can read Scalzi’s report on his first week of sales. Let’s just say that even he was really, really surprised how well it did.

  15. If anyone’s interested, I’ve got a spare copy of the John Joseph Adams edited Cosmic Powers anthology which has, among many writers, stories by Becky Chambers, Yoon Ha Lee, Seanan McGuire and Linda Nagata.

    This offering has been approved by OGH who turned it down on the grounds his Mount TBR was already much too high, so the first one who replies yes here will get it.

    (It’s only spare because Saga Press sent another copy.)

  16. Aaron: I’d certainly look at a review by you but understand that potential new reviewers get vetted by the editing staff. And they’ve got notoriously high standards.

    If you still want it, send a mailing label to

    Cat Eldridge
    Green Man Review
    75 Sherman Street, Number 6
    Portland, Maine 04101

  17. I don’t see any point in making up names for Mr. Day and his followers. I’m perfectly content calling them what they have chosen to call themselves.

    Any connotations attached to those names, positive or negative, are, of course, derived from their own behavior.

  18. I don’t see any point in making up names for Mr. Day and his followers.

    I avoid using even the made up names they call themselves. I simply refer to them as Beale and his sycophants.

  19. I’ve seen booksellers at our local comicon rip off the covers of unsold paperbacks near the end of the con instead of sending them back to their warehouse. Also, making sure the author wasn’t in the vicinity when they were doing so.

  20. rcade: I recently read an article by Simon Owens on how tough things are for midlist authors.

    That article is kind of bizarre. He seems to be conflating authors who self-publish and sell well on Amazon, but have never been approached by a publisher, with “mid-list authors”, who by definition have had contracts with publishers. Perhaps it’s just that it’s poorly written.

    He also talks about self-pubbed Amazon authors “reliably selling thousands of copies a month, achieving high rankings on Amazon’s bestseller lists where anyone could observe their success, and not a single New York publisher tries to lure them under its umbrella”. I don’t know how he could define “reliably selling thousands of copies a month”, since the only sales figures he’s able to get are self-reported by the authors themselves, who are going to be inclined to overstate their sales — and Amazon’s “bestseller lists” are transitory and non-quantitative, and therefore pretty much meaningless.

    My observation is that most of the big-selling self-published authors on Amazon are former mid-list authors who came to self-publishing with an established fanbase, rather than self-pubbed authors who came out of nowhere.

    I would also point to high-selling self-published books by Andy Weir, Linda Nagata, Becky Chambers, and others which are indeed getting snapped up by major publishers (or by Amazon’s 47North) based on their popularity from self-publishing (and Nagata was a former mid-list author).

  21. They used to have notes in the boilerplate of some books that if you find a copy for sale without the cover it should have been destroyed.

    I’ve gotten e-books with this boilerplate still intact.

  22. Of course, the number of those “stripped” paperbacks that were actually destroyed was … less than 100%. I’ve seen plenty of coverless paperbacks in second-hand stores (not actual used bookstores, generally) and other venues.

  23. Joe H. on March 30, 2017 at 2:21 pm said:
    I worked for a couple of years at a small city landfill, and we had a couple of large grocery bags of “stripped” paperbacks in the coat closet, free to anyone who wanted some reading matter. Mostly thrillers and romances, IIRC; I think I still have one of the romances, because it wasn’t bad. Another one involved time travel where the experienced reader would notice there was an unresolved paradox. (The guy who went back was a descendant of the guy who came forward, and neither one had any kids when they changed places.)

  24. @P.J. Evans:

    And it wasn’t possible for the one who ended up in the past to settle down and have kids after the book ended?

  25. Rev. Bob on March 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm said:
    Oh, he apparently was going to do that – but that was the paradox: his kids wouldn’t be his ancestors, as they’d have had to be based on the starting premise.

  26. @Lee, @Kevin, another fan of This Alien Shore here. I probably picked it up off the used bookstore shelf because the title reminded me of a Rush lyric, and bought it because the first page was compelling.

    I was recently reminded of it because I finished reading Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace and thought, “Well, that was fun, but I liked it better when it was This Alien Shore.” (The comparison may not be entirely fair. It had been a while since my last reread of the latter. Trying to convince my husband that it should be our next read-aloud. I think he’s still in mourning since the Ancillary series ended–he didn’t want it to end ever.)

    I haven’t read anything else by Friedman – any recommendations about which book of hers to read next?

  27. @P.J.:

    I’ll have to take your word for it, but that still sounds like an iffy objection given the scant data at hand. I mean, if the dude in the past has kids in the past, they’re probably gonna be somebody’s ancestors – why not future-his?

    Granted, I have Issues with temporal paradox as a concept anyway. I prefer the branching-timelines model, despite its fundamental uselessness in plot terms. (“You’ve successfully gone back in time – and your arrival has spawned a whole new timeline, so nothing you do will fix the Great Wrong that compelled you to go back. Going ‘back home’ will either send you right back to Square One, as if you’d never left, or into a new future you’ve never seen that probably also includes a version of you, and he’s probably not going to be thrilled if you try to take his place. Oh, and if you choose the latter, eventually your friends and family back home will wonder what happened and mourn your passing. Have fun!”)

  28. Lee Whiteside says I’ve seen booksellers at our local comicon rip off the covers of unsold paperbacks near the end of the con instead of sending them back to their warehouse. Also, making sure the author wasn’t in the vicinity when they were doing so.

    If they’re MMPs, they can’t be returned to the publisher for full credit as intact books as they only want the covers to prove they’re not being sold. My local bookstore carries very few if any new MMPs as they don’t sell. Same deal holds true for magazines — strip them for proof of not selling them and get full credit.

    Midlist authors who continue to sell *prediictibly* will continue to have a publishing contract. But woe unto the author that has a bad stretch, Hell just one book selling poorly, and no more contract.

  29. The habit of destroying unsold books is caused by the Court decision that limited how much companies could write down unsold inventory.

    Which makes for an interesting juxtaposition with #15. How often do you wind up talking about Thor and Thor Power Tools on the same day?

  30. Yes, I’ve held a sharp grudge against Thor Power Tools (at least applied to books and other similar media) ever since I first heard about it.

  31. @Peer

    Mmh , I learned mainly thorugh cartoons (Inspector Gadget, Transformners) etc and my teachers all spoke American English. The problems occured when we went to England and I had a hard time understanding anything. I was genuine surprised that English could sound so different. I think its good to expose learners to different dialects.
    (Germany heavenly dubs movies though, so normally you didnt get much exposure through that media. Dont know about japan though).

    Same here via Sky Channel and its wonderful D.J. Cat Show full of all sorts of bad for you and undubbed US cartoons, back when it was still freely available via cable TV in half of Western Europe.

    But Monty Python and Fawlty Towers used to be ubiquitous in German schools, even though I find both less than ideal for teaching English. Plus, while Monty Python was at least occasionally funny, I never liked Fawlty Towers at all. I never found out why it was always Monty Python and Fawlty Towers – either the teachers really enjoyed them or those were the only undubbed videos they had.

    In my own teaching, I have used Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Wallace and Grommit for the younger crowd and random Hollywood monster and action movies for ages 12 and up. Jurassic Park was always a big hit as was Final Destination 3 with the older teens (I still know that movie by heart). Meanwhile, boys loved Chuck, because the show had lots of action and a relatable lead.

  32. Rev. Bob on March 30, 2017 at 3:59 pm said:
    The branching timeline would be a good solution – if the author had ever heard of it.

  33. Regarding the stripping of mass market paperbacks, I remember how confused my younger self was by that boilerplate about coverless books, because why would anybody rip the cover of a book and why would mising covers mean the books were stolen? I didn’t know about the returns system and the practice of destroying unsold mass market paperbacks and the idea would have horrified me, because pre-Amazon imported US mass market paperbacks were extremely expensive. An imported US mass market paperback still costs me as much as I paid during the 1980s, even though the US cover price has more than doubled, because the mark-up was so high.

  34. @Nicole, if you liked This Alien Shore try In Conquest Born, Friedman’s first novel and still my choice for her best. ICB has a sequel, The Wilding, also good but not as good.

  35. The problem is that there’s a lot less places that sell MMPs. Here in Portland, Maine there’s the airport gift shop, the local supermarkets and,.. Well that’s about it. And the ones I’ve seen are now trending towards being just a bit cheaper than trade paper editions.

    I don’t think they’ll be sold that many more years.

  36. Have I mentioned how much, I hate, hate, HATE the “new” MMP format (the ones that are about an inch taller than they used to be)?

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