Pixel Scroll 3/6/16 Life During Scrolltime

(1) MODERATE TO HEAVY PUPPIES. Standback contributes “A Moderate Conversation Re: Sad Puppies”.

So to some extent, this is a sufficient answer to Stephanie’s question. Why is there so much vitriol against the Puppies? Because we’re on the internet, where it doesn’t take a whole lot to escalate an argument over Best Brand of Pasta into virtual knifings…..

To start things off: I would say I understand the core Puppy complaints, and agree with many of them (to varying extents).

I definitely see a shift in the “focus” of the genre, even if I’d be hard-pressed to nail it down to a definition (not unreasonable, in a genre still best-defined as “what we point to when we say it”). The disproportionate influence of particular groups and fandoms has been raised and enthusiastically argued over in the past (e.g. [1] [2] [3]). And I think there’s been a lot of snubbing, condescension and ad-hominem attacks coming from non-Puppies. Which they often don’t notice, or consider justified. (Scott Alexander’s I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup springs to mind, as it so often does.)

I won’t go over the Puppy grievances one by one, but I think I can see where all of them are coming from.

(2) DAN SCHNEIDER VIDEO INTERVIEW #68. Steven H Silver says, “Yesterday, Terry Bisson and I were interviewed for a podcast about Alternate History. If you want to hear what I would sound like recording on an Edison cylinder, I imagine this is pretty much it.”

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman’s third episode of his Eating the Fantastic podcast is now live, with guest Bill Campbell.


Bill opened up about many things, including the genius of Samuel R. Delany, how Rosarium’s first book Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond gave birth to a new publishing company, the challenges of crowdfunding creative projects, why he was once blacklisted at a convention, and many other topics which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I did.

Episode four, coming in two weeks, will feature writer Tom Doyle.

(4) REQUESTING MORE CONTENTS, FEWER TABLES. Black Gate continues its Hartwell tribute with “The Books of David G. Hartwell: Visions of Wonder and The Science Fiction Century”. I’m all in favor of paying tribute to Hartwell, I’d just like to see more in these posts than the reprinted tables of contents of his collections.

(5) NAMING CONVENTIONS. Michael J. Walsh observes what a well-Cultured sense of humor Elon Musk displayed in naming his ships.

By January 2016, a total of three ASDSs have been refitted. The first ASDS, named Just Read the Instructions (JRtI), was converted from a barge in late 2014 and was deployed in January 2015 during the CRS-5 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station in order to provide a landing platform for a test flight of the returning booster stage. It was used for two landing tests through April 2015, and by June 2015, was retired as an ASDS.[1] The second ASDS, named Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), was converted from a much-newer deck barge and became operational in June 2015 to support a landing test on the CRS-7 mission.

(6) CRADLE OF SF’S GOLDEN AGE. Robert A. Heinlein’s birthplace in Butler, MO has been listed for sale. The asking price is $97,500.

Geo Rule says “The Heinlein Society will gladly accept a six figure donation to purchase it and turn it into a museum, if you’re feeling generous as well. Well, maybe seven figure to turn it into a museum…”


Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein's birthplace.

Lou Antonelli takes a selfie at Heinlein’s birthplace.

(7) STATHOPOULOS EXHIBITION. Rejects! The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a retrospective of portraits by famed Australian painter Nick Stathopoulos , runs March 28-April 15 at Project 504 Studio in St. Leonards (Sydney). Stathopoulos is a 10-time Ditmar Award winner, who also was a 1999 Hugo nominee in the Best Professional Artist category.

rejects stathopolous

(8) NANCY REAGAN OBIT. Former First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan died today, March 6, at the age of 95. Like her spouse, she had an acting career prior to living in the White House, which included a role in the genre movie Donovan’s Brain. The movie was based on a 1942 horror novel by Curt Siodmak who, showing what a small world it is, lived in those days not far from Robert A. Heinlein’s home on Laurel Canyon.


  • Born March 6, 1906 — Lou Costello. “Abbott and Costello Meet…  have to be some of the best monster movies,” says John King Tarpinian.
  • Born March 6, 1928 – William F. Nolan
William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

William F. Nolan, Forrest J Ackerman, and Ray Bradbury.

(10) ACE OF HORROR. SF Signal has “5-Time Bram Stoker Winner Jonathan Maberrry on His Prolific Career”

CARL SLAUGHTER: Which of your novels is being adapted by hollywood?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m fortunate to have several of my projects in development for film and television. My Joe Ledger thrillers are being developed by Lone Tree Entertainment and Vintage Picture Company as a possible series of movies, likely beginning with Extinction Machine, the 5th in the series. And my vampire apocalypse series, V-Wars, is headed to TV, with a brilliant script by former Dexter head writer, Tim Schlattmann. Several other properties, including Rot & Ruin, The Pine Deep Trilogy, and others, are being discussed.

CS: How long and how hard is the journey to the screen?

JM: Like most writers I’ve coasted the edges of the Hollywood experience for years. There are some frustrations, of course, but that’s part of the game. For example, back on 2007 I co-created a show for ABC-Disney called On the Slab, which was a horror-sci fi-fantasy news program. Disney paid us to develop it and write a series bible and sample script; and then there was a change of management in the department that purchased it. Suddenly the project was orphaned and therefore dead in the water. Another time producer Michael DeLuca (Blade, Magnolia) optioned the first Joe Ledger novel, Patient Zero, on behalf of Sony, who in turn took it to ABC, who hired Emmy Award-winning TV writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) to write a pilot. Then after we’d gone a long way toward seeing it launch they decided instead to focus on the reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which flubbed badly. That’s Hollywood. I don’t take this stuff personally, though. And I never lost my optimism.

(11) FRIENDSHIP CALCULUS. Adam-Troy Castro explains “How To Remain My Friend When You Really Hate My Friend”.

I guarantee you, if I am close to Friend X, I know that “Asshole” is part of his Venn Diagram. As it is part of mine. As it is part of yours. I have clearly already made my personal calculations and decided that his other aspects are more important. I may someday change my mind. But it is my mind to change, based on whatever passes between me and Friend X; possibly even depending on what I see Friend X do to Friend Y. But you, who have had a different experience with Friend X, and therefore a different reaction, cannot win this argument with me using words, no matter how eloquently you express everything you find objectionable about him. It is, however, very possible for you to lose it. You can become a bore. You can become a scold. You can just become the distasteful person who always feels obligated to piss on my pal; the guy who gives me the impression that nothing will satisfy him until I start pissing on my pal too. That makes YOU the shithead.

(12) VIRUS WITH A LIBRARY. Nature reports “CRISPR-like ‘immune’ system discovered in giant virus”.

Gigantic mimiviruses fend off invaders using defences similar to the CRISPR system deployed by bacteria and other microorganisms, French researchers report. They say that the discovery of a working immune system in a mimivirus bolsters their claim that the giant virus represents a new branch in the tree of life.

Mimiviruses are so large that they are visible under a light microscope. Around half a micrometre across, and first found infecting amoebae living in a water tower, they boast genomes that are larger than those of some bacteria. They are distantly related to viruses that include smallpox, but unlike most viruses, they have genes to make amino acids, DNA letters and complex proteins.

(13) TO BOLDLY BUILD WHAT NO MAN HAS BUILT BEFORE. Collider explains why “NASA Has Designed a Warp Ship Inspired by ‘Star Trek’s Enterprise”.

When does science-fiction become science fact? Throughout various mediums over the last few centuries, we’ve seen early versions of concepts that would eventually become a reality. Sometimes these portrayals are pretty far off base (still waiting on those flying cars), while other times they feel downright prescient. But in the case of Star Trek and one particular engineer at NASA, science-fiction actually informed science fact, with NASA engineer and physicist Harold White now actively working on a space ship that would allow travel faster than the speed of light—or, for the Star Trek inclined, warp speed.

White announced this idea a few years ago, with the concept seeking to allow travel faster than the speed of light by literally expanding space-time behind the object and contracting space-time in front of it. In reality, the object doesn’t “go fast,” but instead takes advantage of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to move between space-time.

If your head has yet to explode, sit tight—in concert with White, designer Mark Rademaker has now created a CGI design concept of the ship that would operate using this theory, which they have aptly named the IXS Enterprise. Per Rademaker in an interview with the Washington Post, the idea behind the concept art serves two purposes: to visualize their idea, and to inspire burgeoning young scientists

(14) PAGING HUGO NOMINEES. George R.R. Martin knows it’s “Nomination Time”. His short fiction recommendation is a needle in a small Venusian haystack.

Last year, however, these three categories were among those most impacted by Puppygate. The slates dominated all three, sweeping the board and shutting out all other work. In the novelette category, a disqualification allowed one non-Puppy nominee to squeeze onto the ballot, and that story ultimately won. In novella and short story, fans unhappy with the choices presented them voted No Award. Understandably, IMNSHO… still, it was not a happy ending. There was some wonderful and powerful work published in these categories in 2014, and it was a shame that none of it could be recognized. (I was proud and pleased to present Alfie Awards to Ursula Vernon for “Jackalope Wives” in short story, and to Patrick Rothfuss for “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” in novella… but we all know that an Alfie is not a Hugo, and in an ordinary year both Vernon and Rothfuss would surely have been contending for a rocket).

That’s last year, however. No amount of rehashing can change what happened. The important thing is to see that it does not happen again. And to that end, it behooves all of us to nominate the short stories, novelettes, and novellas that we enjoyed most last year… to share our thoughts with our friends… to shout our recommendations from the rooftops. Let’s make sure this year’s shortlists truly represent the best of what was published in 2015.

As to my own recommendations…

Ah, there I hit a problem. I am not making any recommendations in these categories. Problem is, I have a conflict of interest. As a writer I did not publish any original short fiction in 2015, true. As an editor, however… well, Gardner Dozois and I co-edited an anthology called OLD VENUS that came out last year, and in my (admittedly less than objective) view, that book contained several stories that are worthy of Hugo nominations, and one that is so bloody brilliant that I think it stands right up there with any story that ever won the Hugo.

I really can’t tell you which one it is, however. Or the names of the other stories in the book that I think worthy of consideration. Look, Gardner and I liked all the stories we included in OLD VENUS. If we hadn’t, we would not have purchased them (and we do reject stories for every one of our anthologies). But we’d be lying if we said we liked all of them equally. There are stories Gardner liked more than I did; there are stories I liked more than Gardner did; there are stories both of us loved, loved, loved. As editors, however, it would be unethical for us to say which were which in public. Just as parents need to maintain devoutly that they love all their children equally and have no favorites, it behooves the ethical editor to take a similar stance toward the stories they purchase and publish.

(15) GIVING KATE A HELPING PAW. Steve Davidson hated to let go to waste the effort he invested on a comment I deleted here the other day. It now has manifested as “Puppy See, Puppy Do-Do” at Amazing Stories.

Kate Paulk recently closed the comments (at the beginning of March) so that they could be compiled and a final list composed.

It’s a little late in the game, especially considering that nominators are kinda expected to read and be familiar with works they’re going to recommend (but that isn’t necessarily an impediment for organized voting), so we’ve decided to help them out a bit and give them a hand up.

We started with one of the most visible categories – Best Novel. The following list contains all of the individual works mentioned in the comments. We did not verify eligibility (although most, if not all of the works seems to meet that criteria). When judging whether or not someone recommended something, we took “Plus 1” and “Me Too” to count for a “vote”. If someone talked about a work but didn’t expressly indicate that it was something they were going to nominate, we didn’t count it.

If a “top ten” is going to be compiled, it’s pretty obvious from the counts below what we should see on the Sad Puppy IV Slate. It will be interesting to see how the final list compares.

(16) HAMMER EMCEE RAPPED. Marie Porter has some feedback for masquerade emcees, triggered by a recent bad example of the art.

I want to talk about Emcees for convention ?#?cosplay masquerades.

It feels like almost every masquerade we’ve competed in, judged, or watched – with maybe 1-2 exceptions – has had an emcee that behaves in a manner that I find disrespectful to the competitors.

As a general thing, it usually comes in the form of trying to be “entertaining”, and basically comes off like this emcee has an audience, that they are the STAR of the show, and the competitors are basically props to them. They feed off the laughs, which they try to obtain by any means necessary.

A lot of the time, it happens by cracking rude and unnecessary jokes while introducing the competitor, as the competitor leaves the stage, etc.

When it happens, it feels like the emcee has lost sight of what the show is actually about – showcasing the hard work of the competitors. It’s not the “emcee show”, no matter how much they would like to think it is.

Tonight, a few things happened that still have me mad, so let me describe it to demonstrate what I’m saying.

A friend of mine was competing in the beginner category, in a costume she SLAVED over – a Steampunk Lady Thor. I watched her build progress – she put a ton of work into it, and she had every reason to be proud of it.

As she was on stage – being judged, mind you – the emcee talked *over her provided audio* to say – and I quote

“She could hammer me any time”.

She looked horrified, and – quite frankly – like she wanted to murder the guy. Rightly so, IMHO. She basically had all of her hard work diminished into a sexual joke. It was degrading and objectifying, and had no place happening. SHE WAS COMPETING, during PERFORMANCE judging. Can you imagine being shocked by something like that, after all that work?

This is a Facebook link to video of the emcee’s “hammer” line. You can see it for yourself.

(17) UNLOOTED LOOT? Nile Magazine wonders if someone blabbed: “It is full of treasures… the discovery of the 21st century”.

Tantalising news about the ‘secret chamber’ in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

“We do not know if the burial chamber is Nefertiti or another woman, but it is full of treasures.” – Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou.

It seems that some secrets are too good to keep. Is this a phenomenal leak about what lays beyond the false wall in Tutankhamun’s tomb? Is it speculative wishful thinking? Or is this a clever boost for badly-needed tourism?

Mr. Zaazou claims that the announcement of what lays inside the secret chamber will be made in April. “It will be a ‘Big Bang’ – the discovery of the 21st century.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of the news that has wafted out of Egypt via Spain in the past 24 hours. The Spanish national daily newspaper, ABC, claims that Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, who was in Spain a few weeks ago, confirmed that there is “treasure” in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

(18) OLD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. Shortly after Ray Bradbury died in 2012, Jessica Allen wrote a retrospective for Maclean’s about the Bradbury stories Maclean’s had published, in “Here’s to you, Ray Bradbury”. Her article was adorned with photos of the title page art, including a notable typo in the credit for his contribution to Maclean’s September 15, 1948 edition.

Bradbury MacLeans the long years

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J., Walsh, Steven H Silver, Lis, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

215 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/6/16 Life During Scrolltime

  1. @Jim Henley
    See what key it’s in if you play it transposed mod7. By which I mean, switch the accidentals and subtract from 7. So if it’s three sharps, it becomes four flats, two flats become five sharps, and like that. The tricky part is that accidentals still move the note in the direction they would have in the original key. (Really, it sounds harder than it is.) Just throwing it out there. I don’t know if it would land in an easier key or a harder one.

    (I take it you’re playing on an acoustic keyboard that doesn’t have a transpose function, right? Otherwise, this becomes dead easy.)

  2. @Kip W: This Mod7 transformation seems like a fancy way to go down or up a half step? G (one sharp) becomes Gb (six flats); Bb (two flats) becomes B (five sharps) etc. Also, C seems to lead to Schrødinger’s Mod7 Transform! It becomes either B or Db depending on whether you subtract 7 flats or 7 sharps. Its tritone friend, the six-accidentals key, seems to behave similarly. If I spell it Gb, it transforms to G; if I spell it F#, it transforms to F.

    What am I missing about Modulo 7?

    FWIW, both my keyboards have a transpose function, but I am too proud to use it. Actually, the little Yamaha keyboard I keep at the hotel I do transpose, but only down an octave so I can double the left hand. The Privia digital piano at home I never mess with.

    Turner’s song is pretty much in C, FWIW. The chorus uses more of an A-minor progression (Am-G-F), but that’s rock & roll for you. Really it’s extremely diatonic for a rock song. To really make it comfortable I’d probably have to take it all the way down to F. Cause I suck!

    ETA: Damn you, WordPress! Not showing my fancy sharp and flat symbols!

  3. Jim Henley
    Sounds like you’re not the one missing things. I hadn’t realized that all transformations with the method result in the same half step, having apparently never thought about it much. I use it in playing “Red Rubber Ball” and it gives me a half step up for the third verse, but hadn’t sat down and determined the general case.

    I’ve used transpose function for things. First, used it for daughter Sarah’s clarinet pieces, so I could sightread them and see if she was playing them right. More recently, I’ve used it so I could play piano arrangements I already had of a couple of the tunes the Irish group does, mostly so I could see how what sounded. After a week or two, I went back to the tune sheets the rest of the group uses, with melody line and (usually) chord names.

    Been playing with the Monday evening Irish jam group for a little over a year now, and I’m doing better and better at making accompanying figures that don’t just sound like , say, a chord organ (though even just being able to put my hands on the chords was a triumph a short enough time ago). This thing’s been great for my musical brain. I’ve played with other people more in the past twelve months than I likely managed to play with others for the preceding almost-sixty years.

    What are you playing when you play it? An arrangement, or are you playing from a melody line and chords? It occurs to me that my mental model (“everybody plays from written-out music”) is probably less than 100% accurate.

  4. @Kip W: That sounds really fun with the Irish band! I have to get much better at playing in time before I can join other musicians. Maybe in a year (knock wood).

    Whether I play notes from a score or comps from a lead sheet depends on the song. If someone else wrote it and I can get sheet music, I’ll often play from that. My first piano teacher wrote me her own arrangement of Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood,” for instance, and I bought Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me” from SheetMusicDirect and used the transpose function to put it into A, so I could sound like the Neko Case/Steve Nieve live version. If sheet music is unavailable and I have to go by chord charts on the web plus my ears, I just play idiot block-hands comps.

    For songs I wrote myself, in a few cases I’ve written out full piano scores; in other cases I just have a lead sheet. Most of those I can’t actually play. Not being able to play your own songs is a pain in the butt. On my songs on bandcamp, my former piano teacher handles the keyboard parts. But I am working on simple comps for them, at a rate of one a month or so. 🙁

    What I absolutely can’t do is improvise comps completely on the fly, in time, the way a real piano player can. That’s the ultimate goal.

  5. Jim Henley
    We both have the same ultimate goal, it appears. I’ve been mostly a sight-reader for years (even with pieces I’ve worked up, I usually need to have the music in front of me), but now I’m starting to get an idea of harmony in my head, so that for the Irish tunes with no chord names, I can still feel my way around, or look at trends in the melody for the measure I’m in and determine the likely chord to strike. I’ve taken out some of my fake books from time to time recently and been able to creditably fake a song—if not always unfalteringly in real time. I feel like I’m almost ready to truly jam, and (beyond that) will in a foreseeable future be able to just sit and make stuff up, like (as you say) the real piano players do.

    There are other groups that meet at different times. When I feel more confident in this group, I might see about branching out. I’d love to sit in with someone doing, say, 40s pop tunes, for example. I once played with a big band, back in the Virginia days, and it was rewarding, but the bandleader was negligent about things like getting me arrangements ahead of time (I finally got the sheets and put them in a comb-bound book, and it turned out there was a page missing in one of the Ellington pieces—which I got through adequately, thank god), and after I played the first time, I didn’t hear from him for months until he had another gig coming right up, and it was all too casual for me.

  6. @JJ: Thanks for posting that; I hadn’t dug deep enough (or some stuff was more recent) to see it all. Wow, I’d been hoping-but-not-expecting that more context might help (with the assault/kicked out situation), but nope.

    The response about the emcee seemed good, though.

  7. @Kip W & @Jim Henley
    Watching the two of you talk music impresses the heck out of me. I used to play violin, then cello, flirted with piano although I never could read music properly. Knew which finger went where not that it was an A or C or whatever. Played cello well enough pass audition and be part of a special youth orchestra in MA as a teen. But it was tough going in group practices where we’d be asked to start at a certain note. I flunked music theory 3 times: grade school, high school, & college.

    So what I’m saying badly is your grasp of these concepts, ability to know where you need work, what your good at, and what your doing impresses me and you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far. It’s a hard thing to be – proud of what you’ve done/learned.

  8. Tasha Turner, Jim Henley
    Well, thanks. Believe me, I am proud, because I know how hard it’s been to get to [even] the degree I’m currently at. People talk about talent, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen examples of it, but practice and repeated failure at ever-higher levels are what seem to work for me. Periodic bouts of enthusiasm (fueled sometimes by jealousy of the accomplishments of others) have helped.

    I used to think I’d write more songs when I got to where I could, and it might still happen, but I’m fairly sure the last thing I wrote was the goddamn Cursing Polka, and that’s been a while now. Perhaps that door is beginning to show a crack of light around the edge, come to think of it.

  9. @Kip W, Jim Henley,

    if transposing is an issue – have you considered playing an instrument with an isomorphic keyboard, like for example the Harmonic table layout as used by the AXiS-49? On that, transposing is literally just moving your hand – the fingering remains the same.

  10. Christian Brunschen
    Oh, thanks, no. I’ve invested too many years in the regular keyboard by now, and it’s a bit late in the game to switch. If I did switch, I’ve always fancied the Janko keyboard (there were some pianos made with them). Interesting possibilities, certainly. I can transpose at sight a (very) little bit, but haven’t tried to do it with anything that’s already difficult.

  11. @Christian Brunschen: Thanks for making me one of today’s Lucky 10,000 on harmonic keyboards! Doesn’t look like my thing. I can transpose fine, though not on the fly – I literally can’t do anything on the fly. And it seems like the harmonic keyboard becomes problematic when you get to sus chords, crush notes and other expressive.

    @Kip W: Okay, that Janko-keyboard piano looks pretty cool actually.

  12. With apologies to “The Sound of Music”:

    Scroll, a Scroll, a Filer Scroll
    Rey, a Star Wars character,
    Mi, a Spanish word for “my”
    Fa, fa fa fa fa fa fa*
    So, do you have some pixels
    La, as MRK would say
    Ti, a very Raadch drink
    That will bring us back to do-oh-oh-oh. . . .

    * Bonus point if you know the Guster song. Anyone? Bueller? Guess it’s just me.

    AKA god-stalk, of course. Can you tell I’m punchy? Yes? Good. It’s not meant to be coherent or fit together well at all. 🙂

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