Pixel Scroll 3/8/16 I Want To Tell You About Texas Pixel And The Big Scroll

(1) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Iain Clarke’s image of astronaut Mae Jemison, created for the Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid, makes a great reminder that March 8 is International Women’s Day.

(2) THE FRANCHISE. And the BBC marked the occasion with its article “International Women’s Day: Why women can thrive in sci-fi”.

While the Star Wars expanded universe has a number of popular, female characters, the cultural impact of seeing a female Jedi’s hero journey on the silver screen can not be overstated. “For years we’ve been hearing that women couldn’t front a sci-fi/action film,” Jenna Busch, founder of Legion of Leia.

“The fallacious perception is that they just won’t sell. But, now we have Katniss, Furiosa, and Rey to prove that attitude wrong. There is something about seeing the box office numbers that might be a step in the right direction.”

(3) THERE IS ANOTHER. Last November, James H. Burns saw a van tricked out as the Mystery Machine on Long Island. Now, on the other side of the country, California authorities are seeking a different fan of the Scooby gang who’s been speeding around in her own version of those wheels — “Redding police: Suspect flees in ‘Scooby-Doo’ Mystery Machine”.

On Sunday, March 5, the Redding Police Department was alerted by Shasta County Probation Department about a subject who had allegedly violated their probation around 12:50 p.m. The subject was identified as Sharon Kay Turman, 51, Sgt. Ron Icely said in a news release.

According to the report, officers spotted Turman in the Mystery Machine, a 1994 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, at California and Shasta streets. Turman fled when officers tried to pull her over, traveling at high speeds. A CHP helicopter and Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies joined the pursuit. Turman is reported to have reached speeds of over 100 m.p.h.

(4) FAKE FAN. A fake GalaxyQuest fan site, created to promote the movie, can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine. One of its features is ”Travis Latke’s” interview with Gwen DeMarco, replete with fannish typos. (I think Travis learned copyediting from me).

TL: How do you do it? How d you deliver one blockbusting performance after another?

GDM: It’s all about the craft. As an actor I try put myself inside the head of my character. Since I sgtarted acting, I always try to become the charactere, that sometimes is very trying. For instance I once played Medea in summerstock in the Hamptons and, gosh, for weeks I hadthey nauseating feeling of having done all the bad things Medea does in the Euripides play.

With Galaxy I delved into scientific research that by the time the show was cancelled I knew enough for a PhD in astrophysics. I mean, it’s a fascianting subject. I made some great friends at the Pasadena Jet Prupolsion Lab who I still consult whenever I have a question aboput quassars and wormholes.

(5) WINE PRESS. To this day, fake fans are still being used to promote things. Hats off to Trae Dorn, who’s been drilling to the bottom of “Wine Country Comic Con’s Bizarre Litany of Lies” at Nerd & Tie. There is no end to it!

Last week we published a piece on Wine Country Comic Con. A first year convention currently scheduled for April 23-24 in Santa Rosa, CA, we were alarmed to find they were using a fake Facebook account to spam groups and talk with potential attendees.

But the more we looked into this event, the more we discovered that this story went further than just the fictional “Frida Avila.” Wine Country Comic Con organizer Uriel Brena has constructed a complex charade of lies, fake staffers, and a whole bunch of weirdness.

This rabbit hole runs deep.

A Full Complement of Fake Staffers

The first thing we found out was that “Frida Avila” wasn’t the only weirdly complex fake staffer created by Wine Country Comic Con. Thanks to some email tips (and a bit of our own digging) we found several more:….

(6) A ROBOT WITH KEANE EYESIGHT. Kirsty Styles at TNW News says “Aido is pretty much the robot they promised everyone back in the 1950s”.

Aido will be friends with your weird kid, act as a security guard, remember your schedule and project movies onto the wall to help with anything from cooking to plumbing.

This is the robot to kill all robots. With kindness.


(7) ROWLING ON NORTH AMERICAN MAGIC. Will there be anything left to say about this topic by the time I post it to the Scroll? We’ll find out. Today Pottermore ran the first installment of J. K. Rowling’s revelations about wizardry in the New World.

The first piece of writing from ‘History of Magic in North America’ by J.K. Rowling is here, and we can also give you a taster of what’s to come this week.

Today’s piece goes back through the centuries to reveal the beginnings of the North American magical community and how witches and wizards used magic before they adopted wands.

Wednesday’s piece will divulge more about the dangers faced by witches and wizards in the New World, and on Thursday you’ll discover why the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) took steps to move the magical community deeper underground.

The last piece will take us right up to the Roaring Twenties, when the magical community in North America was under the watchful eye of MACUSA President, Madam Seraphina Picquery – played by Carmen Ejogo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

These stories will give you some idea of how the wizarding world on this continent evolved over the years, and of the names and events that lay the foundation for the arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November.

(8) TROPE TRIPE. Arguing over Rowling should put everyone in the mood for Mark J. Turner’s post at Smash Dragons, “Five Fantasy Tropes That Should Be Consigned to History”.

2. The Chosen One

In fantasy books the protagonist often begins life as Mr A.N.Other, minding his own business in some nowhere village doing nothing in particular. Then we discover that he is the son of a king or a powerful wizard or warrior, and suddenly he is able to take on the world, no training required. Or if there is training, the author presses the fast forward button on the process, and our protagonist learns in a year what it would take others a lifetime to master.

And the transformation in our hero doesn’t end there. He has spent his formative years as a farm boy or a swineherd, yet for some reason that has prepared him perfectly for the demands of running a kingdom. When he rises to the throne, everyone lives happily ever after. There seems to be a sub-text in these books that in order to stop the world slipping into chaos, all you have to do is put the “right” person in charge. It’s as if the natural order is somehow disturbed if there isn’t a man or a woman ruling everything. Whereas in reality we don’t have to look too far in our own world for examples of where putting all the power in the hands of one person isn’t necessarily a good idea.

(9) ON STAGE. James Bacon reviews The Ghost Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore at Forbidden Planet. The play features segments written by authors Christopher Fowler, Stephen Gallagher, Kim Newman, Robert Shearman, Lynda E. Rucker and Lisa Tuttle, alongside a wraparound story by director Sean Hogan.

The writing is hilarious, within moments of our travellers sitting down and their unpleasantness becoming clear, the audience are laughing at dark contemporary humour, riffing off recent well-known scandals, while smart language and profanity reflect more closely the mores and morals of modern society. Using traditional ideas of what we consider horror monsters, the authors skilfully show what monsters really are, that nothing is as monstrous as humanity, and the writers with their sharp razor-like ability to find angles in people, left the audience contemplating where the horror truly lies and what being a monster really is….

The framing worked well – a fancy dress party, as one’s favourite monster on a vintage steam train, a very nice little conceit to create the right atmosphere for the portmanteau of stories. Strobe lights, sudden intrusions, the chimey tinkley creepy music as the stage went dark for the changes, the sound effects and stage work, props and masks/costumes all were just right, adding the perfect amount of tangibility for a lively suspension of belief….

(10) OVER THERE. Larry Correia’s next tour stop is —

(11) SAVE GAME OF THRONES FAVORITES. George R.R. Martin’s characters face “Danger! Peril! Death!” Only this time, it’s not because he’s writing scenes for them in his next novel.

Suvudu is doing another one of their Cage Match tournaments. This time the theme is Dynamic Duos. Jaime (one-handed) and Brienne have been paired together. In the first round they are facing Garth Nix’s Sabriel… and a pussycat.


In the first Cage Match, lo these many years ago, Jaime defeated Cthulhu (with a little help from Tyrion). Surely he cannot lose to a fluffy little ball o’ fur (and fleas). Not with the mighty maid of Tarth by his side.

(12) TYSON HOSTS DEBATE. Panelists for the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate will engage the question: “Is the Universe a Simulation?”

What may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the universe as we know it is actually a computer simulation—has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers. Join host and moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson and his panel of experts for a lively discussion and debate about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative and revolutionary idea.

The Asimov Debate panelists are: David Chalmers, Professor of philosophy, New York University; Zohreh Davoudi, Theoretical physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; James Gates, Theoretical physicist, University of Maryland; Lisa Randall, Theoretical physicist, Harvard University; and Max Tegmark, Cosmologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The debate takes place April 5 at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. Check the website for tickets. The debate also will be livestreamed via <amnh.org/live>.

(13) BOOKS SCIENTISTS LOVE. Charlie Jane Anders at io9 pointed to a forum in reddit’s Print SF Resources where scientists talk about their favorite books and the scientific problems they find in SF. Filer Greg Hullender makes an appearance there.

(14) STEAMPUNK RULES WHERE STEAMBOATS DOCKED. The Riverfront Times was there when “The Science Center Went Steampunk on Friday – and Everyone Had a Victorian Good Time”.

The St. Louis Science Center takes Fridays very seriously, with a themed evening of special events the first Friday of each month. Last Friday was no exception, as the Science Center hosted a night entirely devoted to steampunk science. The event drew everyone from families to costumed fanatics. All enjoyed a night of demonstrations (did someone say “escape artist”?), activities (where else can you try a steampunk shooting range?), films and more devoted to this take on Victorian-era science fiction.

(15) HYPNOTIC SCULPTURES. Everybody with a quarter-of-a-million spare dollars is going to want one of these.

(16) SUPERGIRL WILL BE BACK. The Mary Sue has deduced Supergirl will get a second season.

While technically nothing official’s been announced, while speaking at Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, CBS President Les Moonves pretty much stated that Supergirl is getting another season. Well, specifically he said:

We have about five new shows on this year. Of those five, I believe all five of them will be renewed, and we own four of them.

[Via Nerd & Tie.]

(17) A NEW SUIT. Another Comic Con is being sued for trademark infringement – but the mark involved is not “Comic Con,” as the Houston Chronicle explains — “Convention bureau sues comic convention over ‘Space City’ trademark”

Houston’s convention bureau is suing the operators of a popular local convention over the use of “Space City” in its name, claiming it infringes on a 12-year-old trademark.

The convention in question, Space City Comic Con, also happens to compete with a similar event that is half-owned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau itself. The bureau acquired a 50 percent stake in the more established Comicpalooza last September, spokesman A.J. Mistretta said….

Houston has billed itself “Space City,” a boastful nod to its founding role in U.S. space exploration, since the 1960s. Over the decades, dozens of local companies from plumbers to construction outfits to tattoo parlors have used the moniker as part of their name. But they are not affected by the trademark registered by the convention bureau in 2004, said Charles S. Baker, an intellectual property lawyer with Locke Lord in Houston who is representing the bureau in its lawsuit.

The trademark is narrowly constructed and applies solely to efforts that promote tourism, business and conventions in the greater Houston area, Baker said.


  • March 8, 1913 – The Internal Revenue Service began to levy and collect income taxes in the United States. (Go ahead, ask me what that has to do with sf. They’re raising money for the space program, okay?)


Born March 8, 1967 — Tasha Turner

(19) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson makes an ingenious comparison in “The 7 Levels of Recommending”.

Maimonides, a Jewish scholar and Rabbi (which are pretty much the same things: he was an astronomer too…) once developed a “hierarchy of charitable giving”.  He essentially analyzed the different kinds of charity that people extended and attempted to define the different types and then ordered them from least to most selfless.  He ended up with 8 different levels of giving.  The lowest form of charity is giving grudgingly – forced to hand over a dollar to the street bum because he’s blocking your path.  The highest form is giving before it is even needed (my father thought that included my allowance….).

I mention this because, as a result of all of the discussion regarding slates vs recommended readings lists, I thought that a similar hierarchy of the levels of recommending might be instructive.

(20) SHUT UP, PLEASE. Max Florschutz uses “The Loud Neighbor” as a social media analogy. I found his argument appealing until he decloaked his attack —

And this is where a lot of “social” groups these days get it wrong. A lot of what’s being touted online and in social circles these days is the act of calling the landlord to complain about noise, while being just as loud on one’s own, but giving one’s self a free pass to be loud because you have the “right.” It’s wanting the freedom to do what you want, produce as much friction as you want, while not being willing to extend that same courtesy to others. It’s the kind of mentality that leads to things like “safe spaces” where only individuals of one sex or skin tone are allowed entry. Freedom to produce as much friction as possible while denying others the same freedom. One group is allowed to be “loud” while simultaneously “calling the landlord” to complain that the other group needs to be silent.

Is it a perfect allegory? No. But it still holds. We can’t be as loud as we want and expect that no one else be given the same treatment. We need to extend the courtesy that we give ourselves to others. If we don’t do that, then what are we doing but putting ourselves on a pedestal and pushing those around us down?

(21) IS THIS A GOOD THING? You can now pre-order 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush, edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, at various places including Amazon. (My header, there, is just a joke. A message board I used to follow had a devoted Rush fan, and yanking his chain about it was an indirect way of expressing affection.)

Ron Collins drew my attention to the book in a promotional e-mail —

I’m super-thrilled to announce that you can now pre-order copies of 2113, an anthology of stories inspired by Rush songs that includes my work “A Patch of Blue.” I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. I’ve spent a lot of good times listening to those guys. [grin]

My story is one inspired by Rush’s “Natural Science,” which is a monstrous work in three acts that’s just cool as all get-out. It was a total blast to write, partially because I got to put it on endless loop while I did it–so, yeah, the song is pretty much indelibly inked onto my brain now.

(22) ENERGIZE – THEN DIE! This is freaking alarming — The Trouble with Transporters.

(23) RAVEN MANIAC. From Amoxtli, the poetic masterwork of the day.

A sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore:

Lenora Rose, people are bound to confuse us, given the name similarity (or not notice that our names were autocorrected to the other version, as my computer tried to do to your name just now).

As I was on the File a-tapping on my keyboard, posts o’erlapping
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
Suddenly there came a fwapping: “The Rose and Jones are not for swapping.”
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
When the accurs’d hour tolls our doom, shall we mistake the name Lenore?”
Said the Filers, “Fear no more.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, David K.M. Klaus, James Bacon, Martin Morse Wooster, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

260 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/8/16 I Want To Tell You About Texas Pixel And The Big Scroll

  1. tl;dr – Hugh Howey just popped up on my radar for the first time, and IMMEDIATELY goes on the “borrow everything he writes from library and look for paperbacks” list.

    I’ve read one Howey so far–The Shell Collector (caught my eye because I’m a shell collector and beachcomber.) It was–okay, I guess. Sort of light on story and on science fiction elements. Might be a better fit in the romance genre, but was a little light on that, too. Pretty forgettable book. But some of his other works are award-winning, and I have his Silo and Beacon 23 series on my to-be-read pile, so he didn’t get tossed into the “write him off completely” category.

  2. Jason said:

    Also, the losses due to disease during the Columbian exchange are estimated at over 50% and maybe as high as 90%.

    As high as 95%, actually.

    Urbanized parts of the Americas– stretching roughly from the Incan Empire and parts of Amazonia up to what’s now Oklahoma– are now thought to have been as densely populated as Europe at the moment when Columbus turned up.

  3. As someone (sorry, out of time) mentioned before, either the Native wizards allowed everyone to perish or they were unable to come up with solutions to the epidemics ranging through the people they lived with.

    Eh. A world where magic is real, powerful, and reality-altering, would be absolutely nothing like our world. It would be like expecting cultures, history, and habits to be the same for humans if the world was still covered with dinosaurs. That the England that Harry Potter lived in is in any way recognizable even before he encountered magic is totally nonsensical, and you could just as easily ask why Hitler. Napoleon, or Attila the Hun weren’t magic’d away by European wizards. (Or why Hitler, Napoleon, or Attila the Hun didn’t conquer the world thanks to their own wizards.)

  4. Transporter philosophy/tales.

    I vaguely recall a story I read decades ago, but don’t remember the author or title. Earth is discovered by aliens who have a transporter type technology allowing galactic travel. Everyone who wants to ally with the aliens must use this travel at least once. One man is suspicious of the technology and the requirement and refuses to participate. In the end it’s disclosed that ‘something’ is lost from the individuals who are transported and they are no longer creative or inventive. The aliens, who all use and have used this tech, don’t want to be out competed, thus the requirement for new intelligent species they meet.

    (I never said it was a good story. 🙂

    Does anyone remember the author/title?

  5. Urbanized parts of the Americas– stretching roughly from the Incan Empire and parts of Amazonia up to what’s now Oklahoma– are now thought to have been as densely populated as Europe at the moment when Columbus turned up.

    They’ve been mentioned here before, but let me once again recommend the books 1491 and 1493 by Charles C. Mann.

    The topic Rowling is discussing is taboo. It is complex, deeply tied into the Navajo cosmology, and not to be discussed, even in polite Navajo society, let alone among outsiders. Rowling’s fabrication gives offense, and so too does the constant mention of this topic in attempts to compare it to the beliefs of other nations, or to bits of popular culture.

    Do you believe that everyone is obligated to kowtow to the taboos of everyone else’s culture? (coughcharliehebdocough)

  6. BTW, on the subject of teleportation and verboten technologies, believe it or not, an innovative use of borrowed teleportation technology was a main plot point in the children’s book The True Meaning of Smeckday, the book the craptastic movie Home was “based on.” (The primary similarity between the two was that they both were forms of media that used words to convey ideas.) The book, I recommend. The movie, I don’t.

  7. dann665: Ref. (20):
    I’d like to thank the Filers that understand the point being made in that article and have therefore already adjusted their language to discriminate between folks that disagree with the content of what is currently considered award worth SFF and….quite frankly, Vox Day.

    Um, did we read different articles? Because the point of that article seems to be that we should tolerate people who behave badly and neither sanction nor condemn them, not that people have differing ideas of what constitutes award-worthy SFF.

  8. Darren Garrison,
    I believe intentionally giving offense always causes pain and shows disrespect, but that there can be countervailing reasons strong enough to justify doing so anyway in particular cases. I believe the artists of Charlie Hebdo could be criticized (and defended) in those terms.

    And I believe, since no one has brought up the idea of backing criticism with bullets in the current case, that your raising the specter of Charlie Hebdo shows precisely how little you intend to pursue the current topic in good faith.

  9. @Darren What a place to start with Howey! Definitely an outlier for him.

    There’s a lot of range in the guy. I, Zombie, for instance, is one of the only books I’ve ever started reading that was just so disturbing that I couldn’t finish it. It’s not gratuitous–it’s just such a horrifying premise.

    But the Silo books and Sand are straight-up action SF. I’ve heard very few people regret reading them.

  10. Stevie – You conveniently left out my point about normalizing stereotypes for all child readers.

    Children’s responses to books are very much my business. It’s part of my job. If a teacher asks me, for example, if Little House On The Prairie is a good read aloud for class, I will inform the teacher of the repeated line that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” I won’t prevent anyone from reading it, but, in this example, a teacher needs this information because s/he needs to assess how students will react. There are documented cases of children bullying children from marginalized groups after stories with such stereotypes are read to a class.

    But, I suspect that you don’t really care about children’s reactions to narratives. However, if you do, you should read some of the discussions surround A Fine Dessert, A Birthday Cake For George Washington, and other picture books featuring smiling slaves. A quick Google search will direct you to many of them. Aside from the immediate topic at hand, you will quickly see the ways in which community responsibility are discussed in the kidlit community. It isn’t a matter of policing emotions or censoring others. It’s a matter of being aware of content and informing potential users of these texts. Criticism is not censorship.

  11. Quoting from Native Appropriations:

    I had a long phone call with one of my friends/mentors today, who is Navajo, asking her about the concepts Rowling is drawing upon here, and discussing how to best talk about this in a culturally appropriate way that can help you (the reader, and maybe Rowling) understand the depths to the harm this causes, while not crossing boundaries and taboos of culture. What did I decide? That you don’t need to know. It’s not for you to know. I am performing a refusal.

    What you do need to know is that the belief of these things (beings?) has a deep and powerful place in Navajo understandings of the world. It is connected to many other concepts and many other ceremonial understandings and lifeways. It is not just a scary story, or something to tell kids to get them to behave, it’s much deeper than that.

    I can see how Rowling’s throwaway about skinwalkers being made up by nonmagical “medicine men” afraid of being outed as frauds would be very hurtful.

  12. Pardon my (pretty much complete) ignorance on the subject; but I think that saying that “In our culture we don’t talk about this stuff, so you shouldn’t either” isn’t a great case for saying other people can’t talk or write about it. Now, whether or not the author actually gets the facts correct is another topic.

  13. Hi JJ,


    I’m pretty sure the words were the same, but they may have been perceived differently.

    I took the intent to be, “you have to allow for a little impolite behavior if you are going to exhibit a little impolite behavior” because the alternative is “everyone just gets really far out of hand”. There’s a rhetorical parallel in “Starship Troopers” relative to training puppies* (and**) not to pee in the house.

    Taking the outrage meter to 11 for every perceived slight just encourages everyone to have an outrage meter pegged to 11 every moment of the day.


    *I’m aware that there are different opinions on canine training.

    **I get that this is funny for other reasons as well. Enjoy!

  14. Rowling’s new thing looks like a huge mistake on a lot of levels. Coherent worldbuilding was never her thing. Her world was big enough and solid enough to contain the story she wanted to tell, but if you tried to extend it further it started to fall apart. Obvious solution: don’t extend it any further. Keep your eye on the pretty scenery, don’t peak at the bare walls and exposed pipes backstage.

    But she has, and what she’s made sounds like some lazily written ‘ 90 era rpg supplement where someone’s hit an encyclopedia of world mythology, taken a couple of things at random and assigned them stats. If anyone is bothered by this I don’t blame them.

  15. dann665: I took the intent to be, “you have to allow for a little impolite behavior if you are going to exhibit a little impolite behavior”

    If you regard the slating of last year’s Hugo’s, as was done by both the Sad and Rabid Puppies, as merely “a little impolite behaviour”, then you and I are worlds apart on this.

  16. @Kendall
    re: transporter story

    JINX, sorta. I think your memory of the plot is better than mine! :^] I thought the aliens were aware of the effect, but now I’m not so sure. No one has come up with a title yet – at least as far as I’ve read in the thread. Are we the only two who ever read the story?

  17. Darren Garrison on March 9, 2016 at 2:12 pm said:

    The topic Rowling is discussing is taboo. It is complex, deeply tied into the Navajo cosmology, and not to be discussed, even in polite Navajo society, let alone among outsiders. Rowling’s fabrication gives offense, and so too does the constant mention of this topic in attempts to compare it to the beliefs of other nations, or to bits of popular culture.

    Do you believe that everyone is obligated to kowtow to the taboos of everyone else’s culture? (coughcharliehebdocough)

    I suppose it depends on whether one wishes to mock and belittle them.

    One may, of course, wish to.

    Charlie Hebdo is not pretending anything like respect or even a harmlessly neutral approach towards the taboos it broaches. By mocking them it underscores the authors’ beliefs that those taboos are in error.

    I do not think this is a similar situation.

  18. @Rose Embolism:

    and stop creating ridiculous names like “vodka”, “whiskey”, and “gin”.

    Well, ‘vodka’, ‘whiskey’, ‘akavit’, ‘aqua vitae’… just call it ‘water of life’.

  19. @ Dawn Incognito
    Is that a typical video from CGP Grey? If so I have some watching to do!

    Yes, it’s typical. Grey’s channel is very entertaining and informative.

  20. bookworm1398
    seems to me that “recreated from the backup” is a large part of the plot of “Rogue Moon,” a longtime favorite of mine which, to my way of thinking, predicted many aspects of video game play in an incidental way.

  21. K8

    I didn’t conveniently leave it out. I took one look at your assumption that Native American parents are incapable of addressing the texts with their children and realised that we were back at square one, with the condescending belief that none-white people need white people to defend them against other white people. I’ve responded to that already, and I see no reason to repeat myself.

    And since you provide no explanation for why you suspect me, nor the evidence that you base your suspicions on, it’s impossible for me to respond in any rational manner.

    These are the sorts of tactics used in countries where suspicions are deemed all that’s necessary for convictions, of whatever kinds. Donald Trump may be hellbent on turning the USA into that but fortunately I’m on the other side of the Pond…

  22. Darren Garrison: That the England that Harry Potter lived in is in any way recognizable even before he encountered magic is totally nonsensical, and you could just as easily ask why Hitler. Napoleon, or Attila the Hun weren’t magic’d away by European wizards. (Or why Hitler, Napoleon, or Attila the Hun didn’t conquer the world thanks to their own wizards.)

    Isn’t it ironic that the more you love books like Rowling’s, the more you think about the backstory, and the greater the danger that the whole thing will unravel in your brain? I rarely had trouble suspending disbelief while immersed in the Harry Potter books (or at least ignoring perceived minor discrepancies). But the Potterverse makes a poor fit with our world’s muggle history.

    For some reason this reminds me of my experience with Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, happily reading along til near the end of the book some cosmological facts were revealed and I crashed, thinking — Wait, if all the rest of this exists, and everyone knows it, wouldn’t religion have to work in this world in a completely different way than the author has shown us?

  23. @Stevie, the concern is not only for the reactions of native children. It is also for the reactions of non-native children. I would prefer not to have children reading negative, or even just inaccurate, things about other groups, with no accompanying discussion by adults. We have problems enough with the perpetuation of stereotyping and bigotry without adding to it.

    We may decide that a book is worth reading anyway, but not without a discussion of problematic elements. If I were a teacher assigning The Lord of The Rings (which I love), I wouldn’t let the sexist and racist elements go by without comment, nor the complete lack of QUILTBAG characters. Doesn’t matter whether the kids are in or not in the group in question.

  24. @Mike Glyer:

    The Harry Potter books are fun reads, but they do not hold up under examination. My friend calls things like them “cardboard worlds”, where the lightest touch pokes holes through the walls.

    I think I know what you mean about the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I enjoyed reading it, but I lost suspension of disbelief when certain things were revealed.

  25. Stevie: K8 sounds like they are talking from the perspective of a librarian, also a person with responsibility for children, who speaks to and recommends works t(written by children’s book authors, who should be the first ones to consider the probable impact of their literary efforts on children) to teachers, who are also adults responsible for children. These are people who may even be responsible for children not of their own ethnicity, at times when those parents are not present and cannot directly intervene. In many cases with schooling, the after-the-fact moment when the parent learns of something is too late.

    As such, their stance seems quite reasonable to me; this IS relevant to their work, and their work impacts upon children at a time when they are in the power of adults who are not their parents, may not be of their culture, and may not be culturally aware. That’s not condescension towards another people, that’s sensible treatment of cultural baggage. Rude treatment is to say “It’s all your problem” and heap it all on the parents.

    Your assumption that the ONLY adult ever responsible for taking a child’s experience into account and curating it is the parents, and not the teacher, the librarian, or God knows, the *children’s book author* — well, it’s not remotely my experience of the world. And my elder son isn’t even in kindergarten yet.

  26. Re Hugh Howey

    Wool and it’s sequels are excellent reads.


    Ah, Charlie Hebdo – the internet’s favorite straw man, because if you suggest that there are times that yes, they were sophomoric, disrespectful, and occasionally used a privileged position to peddle sophisticated racism, someone will triumphantly say that that means you agree with the terrorists should have killed them, no, don’t try to dismiss me, I have used Logic and Reason to show how you are morally obligated to be my straw man that shows that anyone who says we should be respectful of other cultures actually wants the terrorists to win.

    I (now speaking not sarcastically) perfectly understand why plenty of people who thought the killers were terrible people who did a bad thing were very adamant that no, they were not Charlie – they were not going to use their position of privilege to take cheap shots at those not in that position, and then call their cheap shots a sign of their enlightened, civilized natures.

  27. @TheYoungPretender:

    Knowingly violating another culture’s taboos is not a friendly act, is all I was trying to say. Whether it is an overall benign act is a different matter.

  28. And while I was typing, Lenore Jones hit another point squarely on the head. i don’t want my blond blue-eyed boys reading nonsensical stereotypes and misrepresentations of their possible classmates,* either. I would like them to have a reasonably accurate picture of the world.

    (And note, the specifics of what was done wrong are entirely unnecessary to anyone but the people whose ways are being demeaned and the writer screwing up. The rest of us mainly have to know it’s wrong and that it hurt people.)

    * Highly unlikely they would be Navajo, but it would be extremely odd not to have someone Metis, Ojibway or Cree in their class. And stereotypes about one First Nations group do hurt all First Nations groups, or why would West Coast nations be hurt by the chief bonnets and damn team name at Washington Redskins games?

  29. @Peace

    I was agreeing with you (damned tone and the internet). I think with various First Nations, there is also the problem that sometimes the appropriations is not seen as such by the people doing it – who don’t often realize that “noble savage” is not a compliment. Or the sophistication and complexity of the culture in questions gets shoe-horned into the one pop-culture related thing.

    For instance with skin-walkers, Jim Butcher (for all his flaws) did a pretty good job of portraying them as Bad News, and a uniquely terrible abomination, the one time he used them.

  30. I am of the opinion that one should try very hard not to be a dick to cultures other than one’s own. And when one is writing from the dominant culture, about a different and frequently marginalized one…one should tread as lightly as one can.

    You have the right to do many things. Merely having the right, however, does not make something the good or kind or helpful thing to do.

  31. @TheYoungPretender:

    I more or less agree with you as well. I fear purely written correspondence tends to exaggerate what might appear to be differences and disagreements.

    I sometimes think no one outside of anthropologists would have ever heard of skinwalkers were it not for Tony Hillerman’s books. Were there any fictionalized versions before his? Because if not I would lay odds every last one of them traces back to his work.

  32. There’s a rhetorical parallel in “Starship Troopers” relative to training puppies* (and**) not to pee in the house.

    One might note that the wisdom dispensed in Starship Troopers about how to train puppies is now widely regarded by dog trainers as being an exceptionally poor way to do it.

  33. 7) Re: skinwalkers, Peace Is My Middle Name on March 9, 2016 at 5:14 am said: Grabbing and trampling all over the current spiritual beliefs of an actual oppressed people is pretty unpleasant.

    Whereas trampling all over, oh, let’s say the European vampire myth is perfectly fine.

    Or, as in item 22 “Energize then die” trampling all over the concept of the continuity of the soul, is perfectly fine. That would be a current Christian spiritual belief. Also Buddhist, Mooselimb, Zoroastrian, Sikh, and quite a few more.

    Oh, and the Navajo are not an Oppressed People these days any more than the Scots or the Irish. Were they oppressed in the past? Sure were. Just like the Scots and the Irish. But now? Nuh uh.

    So sorry, but Cultural Appropriation just is not a thing. You want to get outraged about something, your military is flying spy drones over your country. That’s actually outrageous.

  34. Stevie, you seem to be putting a lot of energy into defending the idea that nobody should speak up about bias and misrepresentation unless they’re a member of the group being harmed. I disagree strongly; I think that gives the impression that nobody else cares or is paying attention and normalizes the behavior as acceptable.

    Most of the people I’ve seen criticizing this here have been signal-boosting the words of Native Americans explaining why this is problematic. People aren’t patronizingly presuming to speak for anybody else; they’re saying “the people affected are speaking about this, and more people should be listening to them.”

    Many people of different tribal affiliations have spoken to say that they find this offensive and harmful. Why is it so important to defend Rowling and argue against the members of the groups* being discussed who are saying she handled it badly?

    * “Groups” because there are many different tribal groups, although Rowling seems to have lumped them all together as one.

  35. Well, thinking it through, I suppose that I am just stunned by the fact that not one person here has commented on the contents of the script I linked to – which, incidentally, includes amongst all the other horrible things a disgusting dismissal of Native American spirituality- and it’s really, really hard to deal with that.

    I’ll get some sleep and try and forget it.

  36. I also recall “recreated from the backup” as playing a part in Terry Carr’s Cirque. Weird book, that.

  37. C’mon, Stevie, “LOOK HOW BAD THIS OTHER THING IS” is deflection. If you kick me in the shins and somebody else gets stabbed, the stabbing’s worse but I still get to say “ow” and “Why are you whining, other people get stabbed!” is not a productive addition to the conversation.

    That script was vile a year ago, when I (at least) was aware of it in real time. I don’t see the need to revisit it just to go “Yep, that’s still just as bad.” So is uranium mining and the Redskins and the horrific treatment of sexual abuse against indigenous women. But this is a road of horror one-upmanship that leads us nowhere useful. We are (many of us) fantasy authors and readers, this topic we can talk about in a reasonable fashion. I can say nothing useful about uranium mining or Adam Sandler.

  38. Excellent discussion in this thread about Rowling’s latest (I’m not buying/reading it), and related issues. I’m going to toss in some readings and general comments that I hope might be of interest to some.

    First: HIGHLY recommended (I think I may have seen her name in the thread already, if so, then seconding that rec): Debbie Reese whose work I’ve been following from years (picked up at some point during Racefail ’09).

    She was quoted in a number of the stories about Rowling’s work because she is a well-known scholar and critic of children’s literature, with a focus on “American Indians in Children’s Literature,” (the name of her blog). She’s enrolled at Nambe Owingeh

    Good for people who

    Her blog entries are an ongoing treasure: including this recent one giving the history of protests by Native people against depictions of them and their cultures in white literature which starts in 1829 and ends with Rowling’s recent publication.

    Great reading for people who want to defend a favorite writer or work: It’s OK to like problematic things.

  39. Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series features a protean gist whose a skin walker who shifts between human and a large cat of some sort. Skin walkers are common in many mythologies including the Scottish seelies and the Welsh with Bloduewedd who shifts between human and well, something not very nice as Alan Garner puts it in The Owl Service.

    I think Rowling’s just using the stone soup approach to storytelling and quite frankly doesn’t care where she gets her pieces. For my money, I’d rather read a great writer like Patricia McKillip or Emma Bull than waste my time with her pedestrian writings.

  40. Oddly enough I first learned about the uranium mining the same place I first learned of the skinwalkers, through Tony Hillerman.

  41. Peace is My Middle Name:

    Three of the films based on the Tony Hillerman Leaphorn and Chee series have just been added to Netflix. IIRC Rebort Redford bankrolled three of these but not the very first which had Lou Diamond Phillips, a quarter Cherokee, playing one of the Navajo leads.

  42. @RedWombat: But this is a road of horror one-upmanship that leads us nowhere useful. We are (many of us) fantasy authors and readers, this topic we can talk about in a reasonable fashion. I can say nothing useful about uranium mining or Adam Sandler.


    And despite all the sneers at “cultural Marxists,” the idea that the media we consume shapes our attitudes is pretty well supported by a shitload of sociological and psychological scholarship. It’s worth talking about (and doesn’t preclude individual choices to deal with the other issues as well).

  43. There’s also


    in which the very latest entry discusses exactly what K8 mentioned. The rest of the website discusses the importance of accurate portrayals in children’s literature, which affects both Native and other children’s perceptions. Lenora Rose gets it.

    The Native American portion of the blogosphere/Twittersphere is upset about this — which is where I read about it, not in some English newspaper.

    Also, please note the irony of a white British woman cheering on another white British woman’s colonialist misrepresentation of cultures of native Americans, and telling the white Americans they shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about it and should shut up about their own history and neighbors.

    White Americans not speaking up on behalf of injustices is how American Indians ended up in the terrible conditions many of them suffer from. Some of us would like to not make that mistake again. Some of us are fine with using our white privilege to signal boost links and thoughts written by Natives.

    (And some of us know that within living memory, children whose mother tongue was Scottish Gaelic were sent away to boarding schools where they were beaten if they spoke anything but English, because we have friends that happened to. Right there in oh-so-perfect Britain in the 20th Century.)

    (Also some of us think the Washington football team ought to change its name, but its owner is a complete dick in so many ways to ALL people that there’s little hope.)

    @RedWombat: I don’t think anyone can say anything useful about Adam Sandler. However, one crappy movie that only shows on one streaming video service scarcely has the reach of a multi-gazillion-selling book series, 8 or 9 successful theatrical movies, and endless merchandise either. They really aren’t in the same league; it’s like comparing a tiny campfire to a blast furnace. Sure, they’ll both burn you, but which would you rather fall into? (And plenty of people complained about that stupid movie at the time.)

    We can be concerned about more than one thing at once! I, personally, can worry about the problems of Native Americans, blacks, refugees, women, LGBTQ, disabled people, etc. all on the same day — and I do.

    Regarding Larry’s World Tour: Of course he has fans on the military base, or else the publisher (or whoever) wouldn’t be paying for him to go there! And the base wouldn’t bother to organize it. Business.

  44. Cat Eldridge: Shapeshifters are ubiquitous. Skinwalkers are a specific cultural referent, and I never heard the latter term applied to the former as a whole before all this. I certainly don’t hear skinwalker and think Bloduewedd, much less any other sort of shifting thing.

  45. Cultural Appropriation: what NOT to do

    I think that one of the *best* examples of what not to do when it comes to white writers using American Indian cultures and myths in their fantasy is Twilight.

    Disc: I have read the first one when I assigned it as one of a series of readings in a vampire creative writing course (we read novels to see range of vampire conventions, starting with Le Fanu and Coleridge and ending with Octavia Butler and Stephanie Meyer). I thought it wasn’t badly as written as some of the haterants I’d seen in LOTR fandom said it was, but I found little to enjoy in it; yeah, the gender issues, but I have had a lot of young women students over the years who shared Bella’s love for Wuthering Heights as the “Greatest Romance” ever (instead of OMG STALKER AND ABUSER which was my response to it). I didn’t realize I’d come to closest ever to having to break up a (shouting) fight in my class as the men as a group attacked it violently and the women fans pushed back (there were a lot more women than men). As I told them, first we were looking at GENRE CONVENTIONS not whether or not it was good or bad, and plus, if the good/bad aesthetics came into play, a vampire creative writing class wouldn’t be allowed to exist! Lots of stuff created for young men is crap, and doesn’t get half the hate stuff created for young women does).

    And I also introduced the topic of what I found most problematic about the novel (it wasn’t the shiny vampires–though I treasure the student who said earnestly, “real vampires aren’t shiny!”). It was Meyer’s appropriation of Quileute mythology.

    My class thought they were made up/fictional tribe.

    They aren’t.

    And although the fan tourist boom was helpful to Forks, Washington (my mom lives on the Kitsap Peninsula, sort of attached to the Olympic peninsula where Forks is located, though hours away, and I remember the local papers covering the fan tourist boom), the issue was more complicated for the Quileute. And like so much else, it’s complicated.

    What really bothered me was the shock my student showed at the idea that there were “real” Indians alive today. (We are right next door to Oklahoma, after all.)

    (I should note: I dealt with the “omg white people shouldn’t talk about X” in the early 1980s when I took my first course (and first graduate course) in American Indian literature in a program for teachers because bottom line, if the white teachers will not nor cannot talk about issues of race in American literature courses, then who the fuck will?) (I should note some of my grad students who teach in small schools in former sundown towns around Commerce have told me their principals order them not to mention race and not to teach anything in their English classes that has race in it. I understand they don’t have the freedom that I do as a university teacher.)

  46. Leonard Rose:

    Huh. I’ve run across references to Cherokee, Hopi, Utes and, of course, Navaho Skinwalkers. In fantasy literature, they’re common as, err, werewolves are. So what precisely makes the Navajo skinwalkers different from what other native tribes claim to be skinwalkers?

  47. @bookworm1398: “The question is what happens if the transporter materializes two of you at the destination.”

    You get Thomas Riker.

    @RDF: “Hugh Howey just popped up on my radar for the first time, and IMMEDIATELY goes on the “borrow everything he writes from library and look for paperbacks” list.”

    Ah, so someone pulled the Wool over your eyes? 😀

    @Stevie: “not one person here has commented on the contents of the script I linked to”

    Perhaps that’s because it’s Old News from almost a full year ago.

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