Pixel Scroll 4/15/16 Barkleby

AKA Dogless In The Arena


Birth.Movies.Death.’s sources are saying that the CBS All Access show will be set in the classic continuity, which is to say not in the J.J. Abrams reboot-verse. Additionally, Season 1 of the series will be set before the era of The Next Generation, but after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That covers a lot of years, and BMD’s report is not specific beyond that, but essentially what this means is that the era that could be covered spanned the time of the Enterprise-B (the one captained initially by Cameron from Ferris Bueller!) and the Enterprise-C (the one that was destroyed defending a Klingon outpost, as we learned in the classic TNG episode ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’). Not that an Enterprise will figure into the show necessarily…

(2) THE CHECK STOPS HERE. Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic with Andy Duncan, Episode 6 of the series, unfolds at the Princess Cafe in the same booth where Harry and Bess Truman had lunch one Father’s Day more than 60 years ago.

Andy Duncan and Scott Edelman.

Andy Duncan and Scott Edelman.

Andy’s an award-winning writer many times over, having won a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a Nebula Award, and three World Fantasy Awards. Plus he’s also been nominated for the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards. His collections include Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (which came out in 2000) and The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories (published in 2011).

(3) BEHIND THE THRONES. Maureen Dowd interviewed Peter Dinklage for the New York Times “Dinklage and Dragons: Will Tyrion Win the ‘Game of Thrones’?” And blabbed a secret.

So now that the global hit — Season 6 starts in two weeks — has brought his character, the wily and louche “halfman” and “perverse little imp” Tyrion Lannister, into the sun-baked realm of Daenerys Targaryen, was it fun to act with the dragons? Or were they temperamental divas who chewed — or incinerated — the scenery?

“They’re not real,” he says, looking at me solemnly with his big, droopy blue eyes.

Whaaaaa? I am shocked, given the C.I.A.-level secrecy around the HBO show — which has sometimes confiscated extras’ cellphones and this year declined to provide the press with episodes in advance — that Dinklage would let such a huge spoiler slip out. (On a less top-secret note, HBO plans to make a comedy pilot inspired by my book “Are Men Necessary?”)

“The dragons are just a projection,” Dinklage says in his melodious baritone. “Ah, working with something that is not there. Sometimes I work with some actors who aren’t fully there. The guys in the visual effects department show you pre-visualizations, pre-vis. It used to be just storyboards, but now they’re really well done on computers, and you see the whole scene with you and the animated dragons before you do it, so you get that in your head. It’s neat. It’s cool. I like it.”

(4) A CENTURY OF FORRY. Monsterpalooza, April 22-24 at the Pasadena Convention Center, will feature a Forry Ackerman centennial panel on Sunday afternoon.

Forry 100th at MonsterPalooza

(5) TELEREAD COVERS HWA CONTROVERSY. Paul St. John Mackintosh, in “Horror Writers Association endures horrific meltdown over Bram Stoker Awards juror”, catches up on the David A. Riley story at TeleRead.

Riley, meanwhile, protested on his blog that: “It has been alleged by some people that I would be prejudiced against anything written or published or edited by non-white writers/publishers/editors. Utter twaddle. Yes, I am so prejudiced that I have paid for covers on two of the books I have published by Vincent Chong – one of my favourite artists. I am also in an advanced stage of negotiating with a black British writer to publish a collection of his stories.” Following that comment, the same Facebook respondent also posted: “That’s like saying I’m not racist I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND.”

Since I’ve found that my own past writings on the previous Riley controversy are being quoted in this context – as somehow “less negative than most” – I want to be quite clear where I stand on this go-round. Editorship of a revived horror anthology franchise is a totally different ball game to serving on a jury for a major award. Lisa Morton may say that “in specific regard to HWA’s Bram Stoker Award juries, the HWA will certainly act if/when a juror’s personal views have a provable impact/bias against a writer or his/her works,” but I can’t see how a juror’s potential bias can not be an issue when appointing them to an awards jury. Would some worthy candidates boycott the Awards simply because Riley is on the jury? It’s already happened. Would the Stokers be tarnished by association? Ditto.

(6) ON THE BOTTOM. The BBC has pictures: “Film’s lost Nessie monster prop found in Loch Ness”.

A 30ft (9m) model of the Loch Ness Monster built in 1969 for a Sherlock Holmes movie has been found almost 50 years after it sank in the loch.

The beast was created for the Billy Wilder-directed The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, starring Sir Robert Stephens and Sir Christopher Lee.

It has been seen for the first time in images captured by an underwater robot.

Loch Ness expert Adrian Shine said the shape, measurements and location pointed to the object being the prop.

The robot, operated by Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime, is being used to investigate what lies in the depths of Loch Ness.

(7) INVENTED LANGUAGES. John Garth reviews A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages , edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins, is published by HarperCollins, in “Teach yourself Dwarvish: behind Tolkien’s invented languages” at New Statesman.

It is only thanks to a talk that he gave in 1931 at his Oxford college, Pembroke, that we have his considered thoughts on language invention. From its title, “A Secret Vice”, onwards, he strikes a note of embarrassment: “I may be like an opium-smoker seeking a moral or medical or artistic defence for his habit.”

It was indeed a long-standing obsession. Although the editors of this new critical edition place his earliest inventions in his mid-teens, Tolkien told one interviewer that he began when he was eight or nine. His talk is a vigorous defence of the “hobby” and, with the support of the background commentaries provided by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins, it becomes clear that the invention of languages has been a surprisingly widespread activity. A Secret Vice is a thoroughly engaging introduction for the outsider.

Tolkien describes hearing a fellow officer in a dull First World War army lecture exclaim dreamily, “Yes, I think I shall express the accusative case by a prefix!” Whether or not this is Tolkien in fictional guise, the scene is nicely conjured. “How far he ever proceeded in his composition, I never heard. Probably he was blown to bits in the very moment of deciding upon some ravishing method of indicating the subjunctive. Wars are not favourable to delicate pleasures.”

(8) GUNN REVIEWED BY LETSON. Russell Letson reviews Transgalactic by James Gunn for Locus Online.

…On one hand, SF traditionally sees itself as celebrating New Things so new that they haven’t even happened yet. On the other hand, there are the alternate history and steampunk subgenres (the latter of which quite deliberately adapts SF motifs and grafts them onto historical settings), so there is clearly an audience for retro-flavored entertainments.

And in any case, SF has worked and reworked its core materials since before the genre even had a name. With space opera, work by, say, Neal Asher, Iain M. Banks, Nancy Kress, Linda Nagata, or Walter Jon Williams is part of a tradition that goes back to E.E. ‘‘Doc’’ Smith and extends through Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, Poul Anderson, and Jack Vance. Its story-space is a galaxy populated by exotic alien species, containing one or more star-spanning polities, possibly with a dizzyingly deep history. It is a setting made for explorations, intrigues, alien encounters, and wars – arguably a futureward projection of the condition of an Earth that still had blank spaces on the map, unknown peoples and societies, and tramp steamers to visit them.

This brings me to Transgalactic, the sequel to James Gunn’s Transcendental (reviewed in December 2013), which maintains its predecessor’s backward looks at earlier genre motifs and atmospherics. Transcendental echoes Olaf Stapledon in its embedded pilgrim-tales of alien evolutionary paths and ends with scenery and action right out of the SF-pulp version of lost-city adventures. Transgalactic continues that latter line, interleaving images and gestures from earlier cycles of science-fictional storytelling with more contemporary devices and shaping the whole concoction into an old-fashioned interstellar odyssey. …


  • April 15, 1983 — New-wave sci-fi classic Liquid Sky debuts in theaters.

(10) POPCORN WILL BE SOLD. Film exhibitors were courted at CinemaCon. Variety has the details — “Warner Bros. Offers ‘Wonder Woman’ Footage, Touts ‘Expansive’ DC Comics Universe”.

Warner Bros. talked up the “expansive” nature of the DC Comics cinematic universe during a presentation to exhibitors at CinemaCon on Tuesday, while debuting footage from “Wonder Woman” that highlighted the Amazonian warrior princess beating up a platoon of World War I soldiers. There was also a brief glimpse of love interest Chris Pine atop a motorcycle, as well as Wonder Woman using her shield to deflect gunfire, and riding a horse, sword drawn and ready for action…

The DC presentation ended on a high note with an ebullient Will Smith and the cast of “Suicide Squad,” a film about a team of super villains, taking the stage.

“What if Superman decided to fly down, rip off the roof of the White House and grab the president right out of the Oval Office,” a character asks in the extended trailer shown to the audience, setting up the film’s stakes. “Who would stop him?” The answer was a rag-tag group of amoral avengers, brought together by shadowy government operatives looking for an edge in a world of metahumans.

Smith promised that “Suicide Squad” will “fill those theaters up real thick,” while director and writer David Ayer pledged that “thirsty, hungry people are going to show up.”

(11) BYE KITTY. Rachel Swirsky bids “Farewell to Carrie Vaughn’s urban fantasy series about a werewolf named Kitty”.

Poor Kitty Norville. Everyone always laughs at the werewolf named Kitty, even though, as she points out, she had the name first.

I’ve read every single one of Carrie Vaughn’s urban fantasy series staring a werewolf named Kitty. So, of course, just like Mary Robinette’s Glamourist Histories and John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, Carrie’s books ended last year.

The best one is book four. It packs a hell of a punch…

(12) STAR PROJECT. SFWA’s latest Star Project is By the Silver Wind by Jess E. Owen.

Fair winds to you!

If you’re already a member of the Gryfon Pride, please, make yourself comfortable, find a mossy rock to lounge, or go explore the amazing rewards for this, the campaign to fund the final volume of the Summer King Chronicles.

To those who are new, welcome! You’ve entered the world of the Silver Isles, where gryfons rule, dragons roam, ravens riddle, and wolves sing. I hope you’ll stay and become a member of the Pride!

The SFWA Blog explains:

This is a model Kickstarter for all self-published professionals. Congratulations!

SFWA makes small, targeted pledges to worthy Kickstarter projects by non-members, designating them  “SFWA Star Projects.” Projects are selected by the Self Publishing Committee, with coordination by volunteer Rob Balder. Selections are based on the project’s resonance with SFWA’s exempt purposes, and special preference is given to book-publishing projects in appropriate genres.

Funds for these pledges come from the SFWA Givers Fund. When pledges result in receiving donor rewards (such as signed books), these items will be auctioned off at fundraising events, to help replenish the Givers Fund.

The project has 10 days left in its campaign. All support is appreciated.

(13) 55 YEARS AGO IN THE UK. Galactic Journey’s overseas corresponded Ashley Pollard delivers “[April 15, 1961] London Calling (A Peek At UK Fandom)”.

Now a Red star has risen in the East — Vostok — aboard the ship is the first human in space: Major Yuri Gagarin, who is now a Hero of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and by extension a hero for all mankind.  The local prestige of our former wartime allies had plunged due to the recent discovery and capture of the Portland Spy Ring, causing ripples of concern over secrets lost, so having Major Gagarin take over the headlines has been welcome change — if only from one kind of paranoia to another: Reds with atomic secrets versus Reds in Space!  And because it turns my liking for all things to do with rocketry into a respectable talking point at parties.

Certainly, Thursday nights conversation at The London Circle, a meeting of like minded science fiction fans, was of nothing else.  (The London Circle was the basis for Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart.  I will not be drawn into the recent fan feud that has split the group because I attend for the absence of the pub and the chance to have a G&T with ice and a slice. How very non-fannish of me.)

Of course, this being Britain, we had to draw comparisons to Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass Experiment and the British Experimental Rocket Group and what happened to the hapless astronaut to leaven the concerns of those who see Soviet dominance in space as threat to World Peace.

As you can well imagine our conversations were more along the lines of aliens returning to Earth with Major Gagarin, and what would the Russian counter-part of Bernard Quatermass do?

(14) CHARITABLE COSPLAY. Will R. writes, “There seems to be a real thing over here–maybe it’s true in the States too–of people cosplaying for good (not to say cosplaying isn’t good for its own sake, I just mean explicitly to help others). We watched a doc one night on Star Wars cosplayers, who invest thousands in being Boba Fett or whatever, and do a lot of charity events in costume. It’s cool. Real heroes, you ask me.”

BelfastLive reports on one example — “Batman swoops into Northern Ireland Hospice to make patient’s dream come true”.

Batman swooped in from Gotham City to make a super fan’s dream come true – and share some crime-fighting secrets.

Northern Ireland Hospice patient Gary Owen – a self-confessed Dark Knight fanatic – received a very special visit from his hero today.

Gary, who is 28 and comes from Newcastle Co Down, chatted for more than an hour with the man in black, discussing movies, comics, Batman gadgets, and how to deal with villains.

The caped crusader brought special gifts from Forbidden Planet Belfast and exclusive Batman vs Superman merchandise – before Gary and his family watched The Dark Knight Rises movie.

A spokesman for Northern Ireland Hospice told Belfast Live: “Gary’s passion for Batman and super-heroes was obvious to Northern Ireland Hospice nursing staff and inspired them to create a special memory for him and his loving family.

“We created a cinema in the Day Hospice for Gary and family to watch the Dark Knight Rises, and Batman came in with gifts and comics.

“He and Gary chatted as if they had known each other for a long time. It is occasions like this that make lasting memories for families….”

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will R. and Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

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93 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/15/16 Barkleby

  1. @Aaron The Doubleclicks even wrote a song about it called Nothing to Prove.

    Love the song and video. I’m a big Doubleclicks fan.

    I believe I 2nd a recommendation for 9 Goblins as MilFant. I’m glad you enjoyed it. As to Poison Oak – given RedWombat’s plant knowledge I figured it was a Goblin thing. In my head I pictured her poking fun at Boy Scouts who run into poison ivy and react just like the Goblins. It made the scene vivid for me.

  2. Greg Hullender: As a linguist, though, I’ll tell you that we don’t believe it’s possible to have a word that “most people misuse.”

    Oh, that’s not true at all. For example, most people misuse the word “flounder”, when what they actually mean is “founder”.

  3. Greg Hullender on April 16, 2016 at 5:12 pm said:

    As for the meaning of “Mary Sue,” I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. As a linguist, though, I’ll tell you that we don’t believe it’s possible to have a word that “most people misuse.” ?

    I’m 100% with you on that last part. I just think that the term is still primarily used the way Wikipedia actually said: referring to wish-fulfillment with an element of author-proxy or author-insert.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that the only exception I’ve seen to the author-{insert,proxy} part of the definition is Rey. Of course, this may end up being enough to change the generally accepted definition, since it’s probably the first time large chunks of the population have seen the term. Similar things happened with the term “hacker”, and I’m not one of those guys who insists “crackers” and “hackers” are different things, even though I’m old enough and enough of an industry insider to remember when they were. But I don’t think we’re there yet with “Mary Sue”.

  4. @Tasha Turner

    I believe I 2nd a recommendation for 9 Goblins as MilFant. I’m glad you enjoyed it. As to Poison Oak – given RedWombat’s plant knowledge I figured it was a Goblin thing. In my head I pictured her poking fun at Boy Scouts who run into poison ivy and react just like the Goblins. It made the scene vivid for me.

    That’s right, MilFant recommendation. And an excellent one it was! The poison oak thing didn’t really bother me. I thought about it mainly because I’ve had some major issues with poison (ivy|oak) in the past, and in my experience there’s always at least a few hours (sometimes a couple days) between the encounter and the reaction. I like your Boy Scouts (or general melodramatic teenager/pre-teenager) connection.

    I’m thinking there’s an 85-95% chance that I’ll be picking up Hangnail Castle within the week.


    I’m not one of those guys who insists “crackers” and “hackers” are different things, even though I’m old enough and enough of an industry insider to remember when they were.

    I sputter in outrage at your claim! Seriously, though, the “hacker” attempting to “hack” a system a la Legend of Zelda – torching every single section of every single shrubbery and wall – using other people’s exploits within other people’s scripts, trying over and over and over without understanding what it’s doing, and then (I’ve seen this) being foiled because the server OS was FreeBSD rather than the expected Linux… that’s a cracker, not a hacker.

  5. I have a theory (it could be bunnies) about Rey’s strength in the force. Kylo Ren’s too, because we’ve never seen a force user freeze blaster fire like that. Who died in the final movie of the original trilogy? Yoda, Vader and Palpatine. That’s an awful lot of (ugh) midiclorians suddenly free from their meaty homes.

    I also think she probably absorbed a lot of Kylo’s training during the mutual mind read during the interrogation scene.

    That may not explain her preternatural skill at flying, but I wonder if young Ben Solo was also astonishingly skilled at anything he tried. That might also explain his impotent (heh) fury when he discovered a girl who was his match.

    Or maybe I’m thinking waaaaaay too hard about this 🙂

  6. Of course Rey doesn’t succeed at everything – the whole business with the monsters getting loose on the cargo ship happens because she screws up her attempt to muck around with the fuses, for example – but that’s a diversion from the real issue.

    The real issue is that Rey is no more hypercompetent than James Bond, Doctor Who or Indiana Jones, and yet somehow she’s the only character who certain audience demographics have a problem with.

    It is, how shall I put it, highly challenging to find an explanation for this that does not amount to sexism.

  7. As another linguist I will second Greg H. and say that if most people use careen where formerly the word would have been career, that isn’t an error, it’s a change in progress. “Errors” become solidified as perfectly normal parts of the language constantly.

  8. Ok, I should know this, but I’m blanking on the term. What is “OP”? I’m guessing the P is for Protagonist. Omnipotent?

  9. Am do think it’s telling that ‘OP’ is showing up so heavily in the Rey discussion because it’s an acronym that’s native to gaming communities. It is typically used in discussions about game characters and abilities. So there’s a case of the demographics that are pushing that aspect of the discussion using the terminology they are familiar with.

  10. I’d say if you’re a significant figure in the Star Wars universe, you have to be overpowered to a certain extent just to stay alive. It’s in the nature of that kind of pulpy fiction that the characters are larger than life. Star Wars is not Mundane SF; these are not the stories of Woolf’s Mrs Brown making her way through an SF universe; the stakes are high, the (illusion of) odds are long, men are real men, women are real women, and furry creatures of various sizes are real furry creatures of various sizes.

  11. Ryan H — And there’s pushback in gaming circles from those who want the phrase to mean something other than “character I’m not fond of (probably a woman)”. How much the watering down of the phrase comes from gamergater types (they’re like gaming’s Puppies, for those not in the know), I don’t know.

  12. 3) If you read what Dinklage says and ignore Dowd’s claim that it’s a spoiler, it reads like this:

    Q: What’s it like to work with dragons?
    A: Those aren’t real dragons.

    I’m not sure what Dowd is up to there, if she’s sincere but mistaken, if she’s deliberately playing dumb for effect (I don’t think Dowd does that sort of self-effacing humor), or if she’s making a joke about fans of the show who think the dragons are in-our-world real, but I’m pretty sure the dragons are in-that-world real.

    (Says the guy who doesn’t watch the show.)

  13. John A Arkansawyer: I’m not sure what Dowd is up to there.

    I took it as Dowd cracking a joke about people not being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, being used as a segue to asking what it’s like for an actor to try to act/interact with non-existent characters (which are later added in by CGI).

    ETA: Here’s How Dragons are Added to Game of Thrones

  14. Oh good grief. Anakin Skywalker excelled at everything *he* tried and he was what? Six?

    I hadn’t thought about it before but yes, 9 Goblins is definitely MilFant. There are others, like The Black Company, but I can’t think of many at the moment, and I like 9 Goblins best.


    Whoops, sorry, had a World of Warcraft moment there 😉

    (One of my proudest raiding moments involved me (kitty druid) receiving Hysteria during Bloodlust in the Festergut encounter and beating our kickiest-of-ass rogue in DPS.)

    (My proudest raiding moment was somehow preventing a wipe during Valithria by spamming my pitiful heals as all the mobs ran to murderize me. That was the best.)

    (Sometimes I miss my 10-man.)

  16. @Cat – Graydon Saunders! The March North, A Succession of Bad Days, and the latest (which I haven’t read, though I grabbed it and it’s on my TBR pile), Safely You Deliver. Highly recommended. Somewhat a Black Company vibe. The first is definitely MilFant. The second and third are kind of MilTrainingFant? Still have a military vibe.

  17. And I still have yet to see a single Rey tie-in product in the wild.

    I have a Rey drinking glass. It came as part of a set I got at Michael’s.

  18. Cat on April 16, 2016 at 7:45 pm said:

    Oh good grief. Anakin Skywalker excelled at everything *he* tried and he was what? Six?

    You’re acknowledging the existence of the prequels! I thought the whole point of Ep. 7 was that we’d never have to speak of the prequels again!

    (Excellent point, though.)

    For MilFant, how about Mary Gentle’s Grunts?

  19. Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin series has a bunch of wars going on in it, and one of the major viewpoint characters is a mercenary captain who leads a company. I’d say that puts it on the borderline of MilF, if not all the way there.

    (Also it has one of the bleakest Crowning Moments of Awesome ever.)

  20. @David Goldfarb



    BTW, which moment are you referring to? Daniel Abraham seems to excel in this, but I thought Dagger and Coin had less of those than the Long Price books did.

  21. Checking back in on the recommendations of SFF books about artists given by ULTRAGOTHA and David Goldfarb:

    Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss: This book has very minimal SFFnal content; it’s a story about the daughter of a seamstress in 15th-century Milan who is sold to a convent by her nobleman father’s wife after he dies. At first she swears she’ll escape so that she can marry and have children and a normal life. But then it’s discovered that she has considerable artistic talent, and she is apprenticed to the convent’s highly-esteemed group of painters under their Maestra, whose works are best known for their stunning Passion Blue color (the recipe for which is a closely-guarded secret), and she discovers that her heart’s desire may not be what she’s always thought it was.

    Verdict: Enjoyable; gets into some of the nitty-gritty of drawing and painting which I really appreciated; in the end, (mild spoiler) abg bayl qbrf gur unccl raqvat abg vaibyir gur lbhat cebgntbavfg trggvat zneevrq naq cebqhpvat puvyqera, fur npghnyyl tebjf gur shpx hc (juvpu cyrnfrq zr terngyl).

    The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold: This is a novel of magical realism (which therefore has considerable SFFnal content), in which the daughter of a metalsmith-magician in Renaissance Italy survives a political coup and must prevent the soul of her dead father from being eternally enslaved to do evil works for the new Duke and his sorcerer — in the meantime, discovering that what she thinks she wants may be different from what she actually wants.

    Verdict: Of the three books, this one gets the least into the details of artistry, but is the most satisfying; it’s a misfit-band-gathers-together-in-an-attempt-to-conquer-evil story with some interesting adventures.

    The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Steven Brust: This one is a bit bizarre (where “bizarre” is possibly synonymous with “literary”). It is the story of a modern-day artist and the group of other starving artists with whom he shares a studio, intertwined, in alternate chapters, with a retelling of a Hungarian folk tale which bears no relation to the other story (with the exception, perhaps, that the young man in each story is following a dream).

    Verdict: SFFnal content is limited to the folk tale. I was not terribly moved by the entire thing (the main character artist is a bit of an ass), but found the details of the artist’s creative process quite interesting.

    ULTRAGOTHA, you may be relieved to know that my HUGE tracts of land  backlog of library books from the Christmas vacation period, after a great deal of power-reading before the Hugo nomination deadline, is finally back down to 7 books checked out and in the reading queue.

  22. @Greg Hullender, @Xtifr, @Vasha
    As yet another linguist (one who had to answer a question on this topic on my Ph.D. qualifying exam in historical and descriptive linguistics thirty-very-odd years ago), I must respectfully disagree with your claim that language is a dictatorship of the majority. As I read it, that claim assumes either that (1) there is only one “language” rather than a multiplicity of speech communities with different variants within a given language or, if not, that (2) none of those speech communities’ language variants has a privileged place within society as a whole. However, as Labov pointed out about fifty years ago, while the majority vernacular in an area might regard “she don’t” as perfectly correct (or at worst an unremarkable Type III error), that don’t mean it fly on standardized tests or in academic discourse, where the gatekeepers of language will regard it as a Type II error, verging on a Type I (“barely speaking English!”). Likewise, even if the majority of speakers of a language begin to use a word in a new way, only a pure descriptivist would agree that the new meaning was necessarily the “correct” one. While the English-speaking world (lacking an Academie or similar language authority) is less prescriptive than some other linguistic entities, that neither means that NO prescription exists nor that majority usage automatically means a language change will occur that will replace the formerly-privileged usage. Vernaculars change constantly, but since the advent of printing, core linguistic change may actually have slowed down. Hence, a change in the vernacular may hit the barrier and blow through it, but the barrier may also slow it, stop it, or even send it scurrying away. Having spent much of my adult life helping first-generation college students from non-standard speech communities learn a second dialect in order to succeed in the academic and professional worlds, I’m sticking with the weak descriptivist claim, not the strong one.

  23. @Dawn Incognito

    I have a theory (it could be bunnies)


    At this point Rey’s backstory is too vague to say too much about her skills. For all we know she might have had a part time job moving ships around the junkyard or had snuck onto and sat in the Falcon loads of times. Strength in the Force seems innate anyway rather than learned, and doing things with it seems to be a case of “Clap your hands if you believe”

    Having watched the Rogue One trailer I do have a small concern that the lead seems a bit too similar to Rey, but it is just a trailer we’ll see.

    Now if you want a real Marty Sue I give you Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler’s NUMA books. Makes Bond look like a bumbling amateur with no charisma…

  24. Now if you want a real Marty Sue I give you Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler’s NUMA books. Makes Bond look like a bumbling amateur with no charisma….

    Perhaps it’s just my male heteronormativity talking, but I thought “dirk pit” was Urban Dictionaryese for vagina.

  25. @JJ – Oh good, someone else who thought the hero of The Sun, The Moon And The Stars was an ass.

    Although I’ll give Brust all the credit in the world–he was accurate to many artists I’ve known, which is probably why I found him so grating.

    Thank you all for the kind words about 9 Goblins! While I believe firmly one should not attempt to defend one’s work, I will say that I had, at the time of writing, two (now) stepsons who screamed and retreated whenever they saw a plant that had composite leaves…three, five, fifty, didn’t matter…and I won’t swear that didn’t color the experience. *grin*

    (Also, all flying insects were bees. Very small insects were “baby bees.” I was solemnly informed that those were the most dangerous of all. Picnics were journeys into the Valley of the Shadow of Death to rival the charge of the Light Brigade.)

  26. Now I’m wondering why I assumed a bunch of goblins who think rolling around in poison oak sounds a-ok would be reliable narrators…

  27. @ Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy

    As yet another linguist (one who had to answer a question on this topic on my Ph.D. qualifying exam…

    Now I’m idly curious just how many linguistics PhDs we have somehow managed to assemble in this community. (Not surprised that a literature-related community attracts more than a random sampling, but it’s not like we’re that common.)

  28. JJ on April 17, 2016 at 1:38 am said:
    Checking back in on the recommendations of SFF books about artists given by ULTRAGOTHA and David Goldfarb:
    Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss:

    There’s a second volume:

    Heather Rose Jones on April 17, 2016 at 8:54 am said:
    @ Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy
    As yet another linguist (one who had to answer a question on this topic on my Ph.D. qualifying exam…
    Now I’m idly curious just how many linguistics PhDs we have somehow managed to assemble in this community. (Not surprised that a literature-related community attracts more than a random sampling, but it’s not like we’re that common.)

    Do fellow travelers count?

  29. Not a real, official linguist, but I had to play one in undergrad English courses, where explanations of speech communities, dialects, semantics, lexicography, and such were part of the curriculum. My training was mostly historical–medievalists have to navigate everything from Old English grammar to the differences among and between Chaucer, Langland, and the Pearl Poet. “Rum, ram, ruf,” indeed.

  30. @Snowcrash: Er, yeah, so that’s why everybody was saying “MilFant”. *blushes*

    The moment I meant:
    jnf gur pbasebagngvba orgjrra Znephf Jrfgre naq gur Onfenuvc: jung gur fcvqre cevrfg fnlf, naq Jrfgre’f erfcbafr.

  31. JJ on February 4, 2016 at 11:58 pm said:

    Happy to do so. Along with sending the Evil Side-Eye to ULTRAGOTHA.

    Ha! Now, be honest, it wasn’t that bad, was it? You mowed down your TBR pile to seven! Ha!

    Though I note you haven’t read any of the *other* Stevermere books yet….

  32. @RedWombat
    So my BoyScouts picture needs replacing with step kids for the Goblins and wild oak scene. Works for me. I believe I have extended family which resembles the scene as well as BoyScouts I camped with.

    Yes I know girls weren’t allowed to be BoyScouts but I was good at finding ways around rules or finding adults who were creative. I became an “Explorer troop of 1” and they were permitted to join the scouts on trips. I learned a lot about sexism, boys doing stupid stuff to show off for girls, and how girls are seen as more responsible than boys over that weekend. So much material to mine if I ever manage the switch to fiction from non-fiction.

  33. @Russell Letson
    IMO, anyone who can handle the shifts from Old English to Middle English and explain them to UG students in Modern English certainly understands enough historical/descriptive linguistics and sociolinguistics to qualify!

    @Lauowolf Okay by me, but then again I have low standards for Type II errors.

    @Heather Rose Jones
    I think Russell Letson’s comment points to one reason–many English departments contain both lit and language (heck, the program I run is CALLED “M.A. English in Multicultural Language and Literature”), so many of those who study language at the graduate level perforce study some literature as well (and many of us love both). The opposite, alas, is not always the case–for example, I get many students in my program with B.A. degrees in English from excellent schools who were never required to take a linguistics course in those programs, nor did my own UG degree demand one.

  34. @David Goldfarb: Your mistake was a natural one. Judging by the average cover and the average plot, it’s been darn near impossible to spell MilFic without Milf.

    I liked Military SF a lot better before it became a genre, and even more before it became a marketing category (though the time between those two was thin).

  35. ULTRAGOTHA: Ha! Now, be honest, it wasn’t that bad, was it? You mowed down your TBR pile to seven! Ha!

    Oh, what I mowed down was just the 35 books (maximum at one time) that the library allowed me to check out over the Christmas vacation, plus the other 30 or so I got to check out when I finished those.

    I’ve still got over 1,200 books on Mount Tsundoku. And for some reason, no matter how many books I read, that TBR list somehow just keeps getting longer, rather than shorter. < side-eyes the entire File770 commentariat >

  36. Further to the discussion of the 501st Legion, I just ran across this bit in an Easter Egg video by a fan:

    The Resistance Base has the first live-action R2-KT, who was named after the daughter of the man who founded the 501st Legion charity group. Katie Johnson died in her sleep in 2005 from an inoperable brain tumour, and the droid was built for her as she wished she had an R2 unit to look over her in her sleep, like Padme did. R2-KT makes appearances at fan events, visits sick children in hospitals, and helps raise money for a wide variety of charities.

  37. @Kendall
    Sneaky mindreader! I had the esteemed linguist Humpty in mine when making my post. The Eggman always cracks up my introduction to linguistics students.

  38. @JJ: Oh, wow, droid straight to the emotional centers of this observer. I approve of that very much.

    I’m really freshly delighted again and again by the good work done by cosplayers, and actors off set. Bring fiction to life is so cool.

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