Pixel Scroll 4/12/18 But By God, Elliot, It Was A Pixel Scroll From Life!

(1) KINGFISHER. James Davis Nicoll turned the Young  People Read Old SFF panel loose on “Toad Words” by T. Kingfisher.

Young People Read Old SFF has circled back to a modern work for the final time in the phase of the project. This time the modern author is Ursula Vernon, who also publishes as T. Kingfisher. To quote her Wikipedia entry,

Digger won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story in 2012 and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 2013. She won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the WSFA Small Press Award for Jackalope Wives in 2015. Her story “The Tomato Thief” won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

I’ve read a number of Vernon’s works but not, as it happens, any of those. I have read “Toad Words”, however, and it seemed an apt choice for a modern work given what the Young People have liked in the past. But I’ve been wrong before…

(2) DEADPOOL CHOW. Adweek describes how “Deadpool’s Newest Product Pitch Takes Us Inside His Dreams, Which Center on … Frozen Food?”

Brand partnerships with superhero movies are inevitable—let’s face it, most movies are superhero movies these days—but so many of them seem like an unnatural fit. Or a lazy one, at best. There’s a car chase in the movie? Let’s use that in a car commercial! Genius!

That might initially seem like the case with Deadpool’s Devour partnership. Why would Deadpool care about frozen food? Well, he doesn’t—and that’s what makes the new 30-second spot work.


(3) POTTER RECAP. Martin Morse Wooster watched “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” last night on the CW:

This was a BBC documentary tied to an exhibit that is currently at the British Library and will be coming to the New-York Historical Society this fall, although what I gather from the Pottermore website is that there will be two exhibits with some overlap between the British and American versions.

The special, narrated by Imelda Staunton, had several parts.  One was when actors from the movies (including Warwick Davis, Miriam Margoyles, and David Thewlis) read excerpts from the novels.  A second thread consisted of curators from the British Library showing off their magical treasures of books and stuff from their collections.  In addition, we saw some witches and eccentrics who had things to donate to the exhibit, including two gentlemen named Dusty Miller XIII and Dusty Miller XIV who said they had created 7,500 magic-filled wands from sticks they collected in the woods.  Finally, J.K. Rowling was extensively interviewed and got to look at a lot of the stuff the curators had unearhed.

Oh, and there was a lot of Harry Potter cosplay.

Rowling had done a lot of research in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, such as a seventeenth-century herbal written by the great botanist Nicholas Culpeper.  She said that she invented everything to do with wands.  She also named two sources that inspired her.  One was C.S. Lewis’s THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, and if there are references to portals and libraries in that book those are the parts she found inspiring.  A second source came from an illustration Rowling made in1990 of Professor Sprout.  Rowling said that that night she was watching The Man Who Would Be King, a film with many Masonic symbols.  A simplified version of one masonic symbol was the source for the three-part symbol that denotes the Deathly Hallows in the novels.

Finally Rowling said, “I tied to steer clear of hallucinogenic drugs in Hogwarts.”  So if you’re writing fan fiction where Harry and the gang settle in for good times with some mushrooms, you should know that such scenes are NOT canonical.

(4) AUSTRALIAN CON SURVEY. Twelfth Planet Press publisher/editor and Galactic Suburbia cohost Alisa Krasnostein tweeted

If you’ve attended an SF con or event in Australia in the last 5 years, please consider taking this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TCGQB82

…The purpose of this survey is to investigate the degree of harassment being experienced at our SF conventions and events.

(5) WOTF. Vajra Chandrasekera discourages participation in the Writers of the Future Contest. His thread starts here —

(6) NEW PERSPECTIVES. Bogi Takacs has started writing a column for Tor.com about “QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics”.

…In this series of columns, I will review classics of QUILTBAG+ speculative fiction—often out of print, little-known and seldom discussed. Even novels which were acclaimed in their day are frequently ignored now, creating the false impression that all QUILTBAG+ SFF is very recent.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, QUILTBAG+ is a handy acronym of Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual / Aromantic / Agender, Gay and a plus sign indicating further expansion.

…On the other hand, I also don’t want to pigeonhole QUILTBAG+ writers and only show interest in their work if it is about their specific marginalization. I want to see minority writers write whatever they want. If they (we) want to write about cephalopods in space, I am all for that! Therefore I opted to include work either by QUILTBAG+ authors (where this is known) or with QUILTBAG+ themes. Often these two coincide, but not necessarily so.

A specific difficulty is whether to include people with non-Western, culturally specific gender, sex or sexuality IDs. Often these people also use at least some Western terms to self-identify, but sometimes they don’t—especially Indigenous people. If someone has expressed a desire not to be included in Western terms, both umbrella or specific terms, I will of course respect that. But in the absence of explicitly opting out, and also if the authors use Western terms, I decided on the side of inclusion. One of my motivations in this is somewhat self-serving: I also have a culturally specific gender / sex (though I am not Indigenous, specifically) and I am interested in other people who do too!

I aim to discuss a new book every two weeks. I will begin next week with The Gilda Stories, the queer Black / Indigenous vampire classic by Jewelle Gomez, and then follow with The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter, possibly the first SFF novel by an intersex author—which also draws a parallel between being intersex and sharing a mind with a giant whale.

(7) TRUTHINESS. Hear about “’That High Truth’: Lewis, Williams, Chesterton, and Ray Bradbury,” in this video of a lecture given at the Wade Center by Jonathan R. Eller of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies on April 9, 2018.

(8) PROGRAM IDEA. Amal El-Mohtar has a fresh angle for a panel discussion. Start the thread here:

(9) BECKETT OBIT. Alex Beckett (1982-2018): Welsh actor, death announced April 12, aged 35. His genre appearances include Spark Ark (2014), and The Aliens (two episodes, 2016).

(10) HEAR STAN LEE’S DENIAL. Io9 reports “In a New Video, Stan Lee Threatens to Sue Anyone Reporting on Claims of Alleged Elder Abuse”.

The Marvel mainstay came down with pneumonia in February and so his frequent convention appearances were understandably cut back. During this time, multiple reports emerged detailing how hundreds of thousands of dollars, and literal blood, were allegedly stolen from him. In a video sent to TMZ this week that’s copyrighted to Keya Morgan (Lee’s handler, who is currently in control of all of his communications), Lee says he’s prepared to take legal action against any and all media outlets that have reported on the claims that he’s being taken advantage of:

“Hi this is Stan Lee and I’m calling on behalf of myself and my friend Keya Morgan. Now, you people have been publishing the most hateful, harmful material about me and about my friend Keya and some others. Material which is totally incorrect, totally based on slander, totally the type of thing that I’m going to sue your ass off when I get a chance.

You have been accusing me and my friends of doing things that are so unrealistic and unbelievable that I don’t know what to say. It’s as though you suddenly have a personal vendetta against me and against the people I work with. Well I want you to know I’m going to spend every penny I have to put a stop to this and to make you sorry that you’ve suddenly gone on a one man campaign against somebody with no proof, no evidence, no anything but you’ve decided that people were mistreating me and therefore you are going to publish those articles.

I’m going to get the best and most expensive lawyers I can and I want you to know if you don’t stop these articles and publish retractions, I am going to sue your ass off.”

The subject video was reportedly sent to TMZ and is marked on their website as being copyrighted by Keya Morgan. The linked TMZ article is headlined: “STAN LEE DENIES ELDER ABUSE … Leave Me and My Friends Alone!!!” This copy is on YouTube, though who knows for how long?

(11) HUGOS AT ECBATAN. Rich Horton check off another nominated book in “Hugo Ballot Review: Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee”.

The novel is interesting reading throughout, with plenty of action (and some pretty cool battle scenes), some rather ghastly (in a good sense) comic bits, and lots of pain and angst. There is a continuing revelation of just how awful the Hexarchate is, with the only defense offered even by its supporters being “anything else would be worse”. There is genocide, lots of murders, lots of collateral damage. The resolution is well-planned and integral to the nature of this universe, with a good twist or two to boot. It’s a good strong novel that I enjoyed a lot.

(12) SERVICE TO SFF. Congratulations to 2018 Chandler Award winner Edwina Harvey! The award recognizes members of the Australian speculative fiction community, both professionals and fans.

Edwina Harvey is a worthy recipient of this year’s A. Bertram Chandler Award.  She has been an active member of Australian science-fiction fandom: writing, publishing and with her amazing artwork for 40 years.

She was one of the founding members of Astrex, the Star Trek fan club of NSW, and regularly contributed fiction to the associated fanzine Beyond Antares as well as other SF fanzines from the mid 1970s onwards. She was also an active member of The Hitchers Club of Australia (Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy Fanclub) from approximately 1984 onwards contributing to the newsletter Australian Playbeing through articles and comments and assisting with the copying and distribution of some issues of the newsletter.  Known locally as the Fund Raising Queens, Edwina has worked with Karen Auhl on organising fundraiser events for Medtrek 4, Huttcon 90 and two Sydney Worldcon bids. (Late 1980s – mid 1990s)  Edwina has been a contributing member of FOLCC (the Friends of Linda Cox Chan) which was an informal group donating monies raised to Diabetes Charities in Australia.  Linda Cox Chan was a Sydney-based SF fan artist and writer who passed away in 1991. From 2012 to the present time, Edwina has also run a lucky-dip at Australian SF conventions to raise money for FFANZ.

(13) EUROVISION IN SPACE. Learn about the author’s new novel Space Opera at Whatever: “The Big Idea: Catherynne M. Valente”.

My agent refers to it as the fastest deal in publishing. It was done and I was committed before I could catch a breath. As I was signing the contract, my fiance asked: “Does it really just say ‘Eurovision in space’? Do you actually have any idea how you’re gonna pull that off?”

“Yes, it does,” I said. “And no, I don’t.”

And I didn’t. Part of me was terrified. How the hell do you even begin to write that? I mean, you can’t play it straight. It’s too absurd. It’s obviously a comedy. Ah, but if you try to write science fiction comedy, the ghost of Douglas Adams appears and asks you with a stern expression if that’s really necessary. And even if it was a comedy, the core of Eurovision is that political darkness and artistic light. You can’t play it totally camp, either. And given the politics all around me, I wasn’t sure I was actually up to singing it out just this minute. What had I agreed to?

But the deadline approached. And I sat down at a blank screen. I laughed nervously.

And then I stopped trying to worry about whether I could do this thing at all and wrote some shit about Enrico Fermi and I was off, and off at breakneck speed.

(14) I’M HOME! Glen Weldon creates a mythic dialogue. Jump on the thread here:

(15) DIRECT FROM INTERNATIONAL FALLS. Here is Amazon Prime’s trailer advertising new episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle. [Via io9.]

The world-famous talking moose and flying squirrel are back in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, a comedy about two goofball friends who end up in harrowing situations but end up saving the day time and again. As their silly ambitions dovetail with Fearless Leader’s sinister plans to take over the world, they are set on a collision course with his notorious super spies Boris and Natasha.


[Thanks to Standback, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Errolwi, James Davis Nicoll, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWwombat.]

68 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/12/18 But By God, Elliot, It Was A Pixel Scroll From Life!

  1. @Mike —

    It’s four books altogether, of which I’ve read two so far.

    I’ve listened to the audios rather than eyes-on-the-page, and I have to admit that I haven’t noticed changes in the writing. But since Weber gets the first writing credit, I’ll make a guess that he wrote the bulk of the text and any occasional changes you notice are likely to be insertions by Ringo. But of course that’s just a guess!

  2. My observation is that the “bigger” author gets first credit on Baen collaborations — look at Flint’s collaborations, especially the 1632 books — but the secondary author does the bulk of the writing, and Flint does the editorial suggestions and polishing. It’s a “pay it forward” thing which they do to give younger authors a boost.

  3. All I can get from @Camestros Felapton’s link is one person saying several people are quitting as guests over Mean Things Ringo said three years ago. And pinging Seanan McGuire (presumably hoping she’ll join in). No replies. I can’t see the 5 retweets without being a Twitter Person (thanks, Twitter!). So, is this just meh?

    @JJ: I expect (and hope for) nothing from ConCarolinas if all they know is “Ringo said mean things about SJWs” (meh) and don’t know of harassment issues re. Ringo (gah!).

    I’m far from a Ringo fan. “OH JOHN RINGO NO!” turned me off his fiction, while his idiotic comments about Hugos, et al. in the past turned me off his non-fiction (as panelist or blogger or what-have-you).

    (which certainly looks like a deliberate move by the concom to keep it under the radar, since that page does list the Costume Special Guests)

    While to me, it looks like their Twitter/blog person and webmaster may be different people. At least, slow web site updates are A Thing (it’s only been five days). Posting to their blog and tweeting twice about him, when that seems to be where they’re most active (e.g., lots of other stuff in their Twitter feed), is hardly keeping it under the radar.

    I just see a web site that’s way out of date. #1 Their Guests page’s URL ends in -2017 (implying it’s outdated). #2 I can’t find a non-special-guests page. They’ve tweeted other guest names lately, but from their site, all I know is they have 8 people coming as guests. I doubt they’re trying to keep that under the radar, either. 😉

    Let’s not talk about the Wikipedia page, which makes it sound like 2016 is the upcoming ConCarolinas. 😛 Time warp!

  4. P.S. I see that reading any blog post, one gets previous/next post links at the top with the post titles. I can go through that back to other posts, including the John Ringo one.

    But yeah, that site’s got issues. There should be a main blog page that lists recent posts (more than 2!). Otherwise, many posts = they get lost.

    On the other paws, they have an RSS feed for the blog. If I were a ConCarolinas attendee or wanted to keep an eye on them, I’d just use the feed. (I don’t “do” Twitter, though obviously that’s also a good place.)

    It’s almost like the blog is just there to link to from Twitter, really. Too long for tweets – write a post and link to it, but Twitter is their Main Thing, methinks.

  5. Kendall: I expect (and hope for) nothing from ConCarolinas if all they know is “Ringo said mean things about SJWs” (meh) and don’t know of harassment issues re. Ringo (gah!).

    Some people did post objections citing harassment on the ConCarolinas Facebook page, but the con chair has been deleting them and locking posts from commenting. The con chair has also been going onto the walls of other people who have voiced objections saying “You’ve made yourself quite clear. If you have further concerns they may be sent to [email protected]” — in other words, “shut the hell up in public”.

    So normally I would be sure that people with negative personal experiences would be sending e-mails to the con chair describing them — but since the con chair has made it quite clear that they will have no truck with objections, I’m guessing that most people will not bother.

    The word also is that several people on the concom did not know about the Special Guestship, were blindsided by it, and are really unhappy about it.

  6. @Contrarius

    I liked the first 3 Prince Roger as milsf / planetary adventure / a coming of age story however the fourth book is a huge departure and I did not like it at all. Going along with who wrote what at the time I guessed that the fourth book was Weber letting Ringo off his chain or not having time to look over the manuscript before it was turned in. Now that was a guess on my part but (rot13) gur Rzcerff orvat ghearq vagb n zvaq-oebxra frk fynir jub rira nsgre gur tbbq thlf jba unq gb unir bar bs ure yblny thneqfzna nffvtarq gb frk ure hc ba n erthyne onfvf gb or unys jnl shapgvbany (rot13) gave me a strong hint.

  7. @JJ: Ah, thanks, I did not know about that (posts about harassment, deletions, telling peopele to shut up on their own walls, sigh, etc.). I expect better and it sounds like they’re screwing up royally. 🙁 Thanks for the additional information. I see @Mike Glyer has a post up; I’m off to read and shake my fist, methinks.

    BTW I read their harassment policy before I commented above. Can you explain which parts are “trashfire”? It’s broad, if vague, but seems no-nonsense. I like how they specifically mention they may deny membership to peope who pull stuff at other cons or on social media sites (now who does that make me think of, hmm, West Coast, 3 letters, it’s on the tip of my tongue!).

    Now the con chairs actions sound like trashfire, ignoring/undermining their own policy! Ugh.

    Anyway, thanks for enlightening me on stuff that’s not visible from where I’m sitting. ::bows::

  8. Now, harassment is a whole other beast. If there’s claims of harassment from him or his followers, that puts this into the “Probably shouldn’t have” category.

    That being said, right now I am in the most sympathy with those who’ve decided that attend anyhow and be braced to protect others from harassment (though I have definite sympathy for those, especially minorities, who simply backed out. Protector is not a role everyone can or should be thrust into, especially if in the mnore vulnerable populations themselves.)

  9. Kendall: I read their harassment policy before I commented above. Can you explain which parts are “trashfire”?

    Let me illustrate. You`re at their con, and you experience an incident of pretty severe harassment. The harasser is no longer in your vicinity. You’re upset and shaking, but you don’t really know anyone else at the con. What do you do?

    You go to their website and read their harassment policy. It says to “make a report to ConCarolinas ConCom or our security staff”. How do you know who any of those people are? How do you contact them? The policy says to call 911 if you’re in fear for your life, but if you called the police over this, they would at best laugh at you, and possibly also harass you for wasting their time and embarass you publicly. What do you do?

  10. Holy shit, upon going to their website to re-read their harassment policy, I realized that the dates and location of their convention are nowhere to be found on that page, their Home page, their About page, their Events page, their Guests page, their Hotel page, or their Contact page. I didn’t check every single page, but I couldn’t find that information anywhere. 🤯

  11. @JJ: There’s an image that says “JUNE 1st – 3rd, 2018 CHARLOTTE, NC”. I didn’t see it in text, however!
    Hotel page: “… we will be at the Hilton Charlotte University Place as our 2018 Venue”
    Maybe they just updated the page?

    I wouldn’t have used the term “trashfire” myself, but the harassment policy is certainly defective.

  12. Jeff, what browser are you using? I can`t see it in Edge, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. I guess that their webmaster skipped school the day of the Chapter on “Images: Search Engines and Accessibilty Applications Can’t Read Them, and Different Browsers and Devices Display Them Differently”.

  13. Oh, wait, now I see it; it’s in blocky, smudgy, unreadable text below the winged panther gif. Well, that’s a fail.

  14. @JJ & @Jeff Jones: I had a similar issue finding the con location/dates! I found that muddy home page graphic earlier today (before reading either of your comments tonight), but it was a near miss. 😉 There’s no excuse for not having the con location easier to read, more prominent, and on every page (someone could enter a site on almost any page).

    I also checked the hotel page earlier, ‘cuz I really wondered what I’d find. 😛

  15. @JJ: Thanks for clarifying. In contrast, I’d check the program book, pocket program, a public area like near registration where there are usually signs or maps or other info posted, etc. At a con, I rarely bother with con web sites (which frequently lag behind reality as things get closer to con anyway); most con sites IMHO are near useless at-con.

    Especially if I were panicked, their web site’s probably the last place I’d think to look, if I thought of it at all. (I don’t know whether you’re checking that ‘cuz that’s all we have right now, or if at con you’d still go to the site first.)

    Anyway, both the ConComm page and Contact page have e-mail links for security (the former has two e-mails, for the head & assistant head of security). to to me it doesn’t seem to sink to trashfire level for the policy, though we’ve already talked about the site’s flaws 😉 and more info/links is always better. . . .

    (Obviously I know zero about what their printed materials, signage, response to e-mails, etc. is at this con.)

    Anyway thanks again for clarifying.

  16. Kendall: Especially if I were panicked, their web site’s probably the last place I’d think to look, if I thought of it at all. (I don’t know whether you’re checking that ‘cuz that’s all we have right now, or if at con you’d still go to the site first.)

    If you’re panicked in the moment, and the Harassment Policy you previously read hasn’t provided any specifics, and you don’t have anyone you know with you, you might be standing there, with a blank brain, not having any idea what to do.

    Kendall: Anyway, both the ConComm page and Contact page have e-mail links for security (the former has two e-mails, for the head & assistant head of security).

    And isn’t it bizarre that they are not on the Harassment Policy page?

    It surprises me that the policy does not specify things such as:
    1) Our Security staff can be recognized by their fluoro vest / red armband / “Security” special badge or badge ribbon (I personally think that the latter is a bad solution, because I find it really difficult to read badges or ribbons unless I’m very close);
    2) Or you can go to our Info Desk, which will be located on (X) floor, at (Y) location;
    3) Or you can dial the Security phone number printed on the back of your badge / on page 1 of the Programme Book;
    4) Or you can e-mail us at these addresses (this may not be a good solution, unless those people have set their phones to ping them if such an e-mail arrives)

    Our Harassment Reporting process is this:
    1) One of our trained Response Team will meet with you and help get you to a location where you feel safe and comfortable, and if there is someone who you want to be with you for support, get them there, too;
    2) The Response Person will take a verbal statement from you, and if necessary, help you document that statement in writing;
    3) You will be able to have the Response Person and/or a support person stay with you, while the Concom reviews your statement immediately;

    etc. etc. etc.

    I mean, it’s not as if ConCarolinas has to pull this out of thin air — there’s a wealth of material on developing an effective Harassment Policy and Process at the Geek Feminism Wiki.

  17. 7. Quite an interesting lecture about Bradbury’s connection to the Inklings and related writers like Chesterton and MacDonald. I’d never thought about Bradbury’s metaphysics.

    At the end, in the questions, Bradbury’s story “The Man” came up.

    I remembered the story as being about a spaceship captain who wanted personal contact with Jesus, who keeps getting born on different planets. He’s chasing Jesus and ignoring people who need help. He thinks he’ll eventually succeed, but he’s obviously wrong.

    In the lecture, the story is described as being about a spaceship captain who’s chasing Jesus to murder Him. After he’s headed away from a planet where Jesus was killed recently, some of his crew stay behind, and are told “He’s still here”.

    I was kindly given a link to the story, which starts on p.41.

    The actual story is somewhere between my version and the lecturer’s.

    It’s not clear why the spaceship captain was on the planet– possibly prospecting.

    When he discovers that Jesus was on the planet, he becomes as greedy and obnoxious about getting contact as he is about everything else.

    He was willing to kill other explorers. Perhaps that’s where the lecturer got the idea that that the captain was trying to kill Jesus.

    We get the description of the asymptotic hunt.

    The lecturer had the punchline (Jesus is still on the planet) which I’d forgotten.

    The bit about “The Man” is at about 1:08 of the the lecture, which is full of interesting detail which I don’t trust as much as I used to.

    More Bradbury errata: There’s a story in The Martian Chronicles about fantasy authors and characters fleeing to Mars because all such have been cleansed from earth.

    The magazine version (2nd issue of F&SF) includes Lovecraft, but the paperback doesn’t. I don’t know whether that bit has ever been reprinted.

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