Pixel Scroll 4/21/16 Pixel Like It’s 1999

(1) NEW DOCTOR WHO COMPANION. ScreenRant reports the “Doctor Who Season 10 Companion To Be Revealed This Weekend” – in the middle of the BBC One Match of the Day Live soccer broadcast.

[A] new companion has now been cast, the big reveal of exactly who that companion is, will be made this Saturday, April 23rd, on BBC1.

The announcement will be made during half-time of the soccer match between Everton and Manchester United, at approximately 6pm GMT. The news will be posted on all Doctor Who social media sites as it’s announced, enabling viewers across the world to all find out who has been cast at the same time.


(2) VIRTUOUS SIGNALING. Rob Boffard at Medium says “You can talk to the International Space Station right now. Here’s how to do it”.  Do you have what it takes?

Of all the things that shouldn’t be possible but are, talking to the International Space Station ranks right up there with Steph Curry’s basketball skills and the existence of Donald Trump.

Think about it. How weird is it that NASA can put a $150bn space station into orbit, which can then be contacted by anybody on Earth? Even you? It’s one of those things that gives you pause?—?the kind of thing you’re vaguely certain is against the law, somewhere.

It’s not something you’re going to be doing tonight?—?not unless you have the relevant equipment already to hand. It takes a little bit of work. But it’s entirely possible, even for those of us who aren’t geeks….

(3) BLOWN AWAY. James Bacon highly recommends The Great British Graphic Novel Comic art exhibition at the Cartoon Museum on the Forbidden Planet blog.

This is a phenomenal experience, it exceeded my expectations and I was blown away by the calibre of the artwork on display. The Cartoon Museum has amassed the finest examples of comic art, an incredible mix of exemplary work, providing a beautiful tapestry of the history and breadth of the greatest works from Britain for public consideration….

Soon I was looking at lovely pieces, starting with Hogarths ‘A Harlots Progress’ from 1732, ‘The Bottle’ from 1847 by George Cruikshank, ‘Ally Sopers; A Moral Lesson’ from 1873, Ronald Searle’s Capsulyssese from 1955, written by Richard Osborne. All giving one a real sense of history, showing that illustrated stories are nothing new in Britain.

Then as I rounded a corner I saw a grouping of Commando Comics placed next to a full colour cover of Charley’s War, and four pages of this seminal work of the First World War. Undoubtedly Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s masterpiece is indeed a crucial addition here, but I had a feeling of true appreciation of the comic form when I saw this colour cover and four original pages lined up. Juxtaposed with this was My Life in Pieces, The Falklands War by Will Kevans from 2014. Original art, cover and concept sketch made for a great grouping….

(4) CHABON AND HASBRO? Birth.Movies.Death almost cannot be believed this time — “Michael Chabon And Brian K. Vaughan To Make Hasbro Cinematic Universe Worth Taking Seriously”. Is there a way to get G.I. Joe taken seriously?

Last December, word came out that Hasbro was going to try their hand a making a cinematic universe based on their various toy properties, namely G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. and ROM. I was a little flip about it.

But now Hasbro, lead by Akiva Goldsman, has assembled its writers room and it’s no laughing matter. The big stars of the list are The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’s Michael Chabon (who also worked on Spider-Man 2), Brian K. Vaughan, who you should know from comics like Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Saga, Runaways and a bunch of other impressive titles, and Nicole Perlman, co-writer of Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel.

(5) SPACE MARINES. If you remember Space: Above and Beyond, you may be ready for the Space: Above and Beyond 20th Anniversary celebration on Saturday, August 6 at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel.

In 1996, Fox Studios produced the TV series: Space: Above And Beyond (aka S:AAB). The show had Drama, action, mystery and followed the lives of a diverse group of U.S. Marine Space Aviators while fighting against a powerful alien force on the ground, in the air and in outer space. It was part Top Gun, part James Cameron’s Aliens, and all exciting!

This short lived show (1995 to 1996), which fell victim to scheduling conflicts like Joss Whedon’s Firefly, is considered one of the best of Military Science Fiction series to air and is deserving of a convention of its own….

VIP tickets and Premium tickets are both on sale NOW at early-bird prices, and general admission tickets will go on sale starting May 1st.

(6) BEFORE THEY WERE BOTTLED. Syfy may order a pilot for David S. Goyer’s Superman prequel series Krypton.

The series, set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s titular home planet, would tell the story of the man of steel’s grandfather as he fights to restore the family honor of the House of El after it has been shamed.

The pilot will be produced by Warner Horizon Television. Goyer — who penned the screenplays for “Batman Begins,” “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — will write the pilot with Ian Goldberg. He will executive produce through his company Phantom Four with Damian Kindler, who will serve as showrunner. Colm McCarthy is set to direct the pilot.

(7) KIT WEST OBIT. British special effects artist Kit West (1936 – 17 April 2016), known for his work in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, died April 17.


Guy Hamilton, who directed four James Bond films, has died aged 93.

Former 007 actor Sir Roger Moore tweeted that he was “incredibly, incredibly saddened to hear the wonderful director Guy Hamilton has gone to the great cutting room in the sky. 2016 is horrid”.

Hamilton directed Sir Roger in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun.

He also directed Sir Sean Connery in Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever.

…Speaking about his style of directing he said he wanted value for money.

“In the making of Bond films we are some of the meanest toughest film makers. If we spend a million dollars it had better be up there on the screen.”


  • April 21, 1997 — Ashes of  Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, journeyed into space.

(10) CAN YOU SAY “CANONICALIZATION”? Will Frank discusses “The Duties of the Hugo Administrative Team” in a MidAmeriCon II blog post.

Once nominations close at the end of March, we go through the data and process it. There are a few steps to this, the biggest one being canonicalization. We review the data to make sure that votes for, for example, “The Three-Body Problem” and “The 3-Body Problem” and “Three Body Problem” and “ The There Body Problem ” —which would all appear separately in our database—are all set up to be recognized as nominations for the same book. And if you think that’s bad, imagine what it’s like when episodes of television get nominated in Best Dramatic Presentation, where there are series title, episode title, and season and episode number, and a thousand different ways to put those together…

Once that’s done, we have our preliminary finalists. That’s when we start reaching out to nominees, letting them know they’ve been nominated, and a bit about the awards. That can be surprisingly difficult if we don’t know people’s email addresses. Sometimes, they’re public…but fairly often they’re not. There’s a certain amount of Googling, guessing, or asking people with impressive Rolodexes just to figure out a valid email address sometimes.

(11) SELECTIVE QUOTE OF THE DAY. Kate Paulk says Sad Puppies have a future, in “Miscellany” at Mad Genius Club.

In other news, this of the Puppy-related kind, I’ve heard rumors from several sources (but nothing official, alas) that more than 4000 Hugo nomination ballots were cast. I’ve also heard there are some saying that Sad Puppies 4 is a nonentity, that it’s run out of steam, it’s dead, pining for the fjords, gone to a better place… (erm, sorry?). Well, no.

Sad Puppies 4 is waiting to hear who the nominees (*ahem*. The Hugo Site says they aren’t being called nominees any more. They’re ‘finalists’ from a shortlist. Whatever) are before congratulating them for their recognition, whoever they are, and starting the next round of campaigning to boost involvement in the Hugos process.

(12) CAT PITCHER. He’s mad as a wet you-know-what! “Timothy Under Attack by SJW Warrior Feminist Filers” at Camestros Felapton.

A certain “website” which I shall not name because I shall not provide it with anymore publicity because I am sure nobody but a tiny number of far left Bernie Sanders supporters in a gated community ever read, as they sip champagne frappucinos in their la-di-da literati bookclub but whose name rhymes with smileearnestbevinbeventy, has SELECTIVELY QUOTED ME in a truly monstrous way to suggest that I am nothing but a poo-poo head! The calumny! The outrage!

(13) A MULTIPLE-CHUS PANEL. This program idea was dropped in the MidAmeriCon II suggestion box….


(14) IN FACT IT’S COLD AS HELL. Science Alert reports “An abandoned probe just discovered something weird about the atmosphere of Venus”.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express probe spent eight years collecting information on Venus before plunging down to the surface and out of range back in November 2014. But now we finally have the last batch of data it transmitted back to Earth before going offline, and there are some big surprises in all those recordings.

Turns out, the polar atmosphere of Venus is a whole lot colder and a lot less dense than we previously thought, and these regions are dominated by strong atmospheric waves that have never been measured on Venus before.

Maddie Stone from Gizmodo reports that the Venus Express probe found polar areas of Venus to have an average temperature of -157 degrees Celsius, which is colder than any spot on Earth, and about 70 degrees lower than was previously thought.

This is rather surprising, considering Venus’s position as the hottest planet in the Solar System overall.

Not only is Venus much closer to the Sun than we are, it also has a thick, dense cloud layer that traps heat. However, Venus Express also found that the planet’s atmosphere was 22 to 40 percent less dense than expected at the polar regions.

(15) FAMOUS FURNITURE. Heritage Auctions now calls it “The Chair Heard ‘Round the World”.

The online and print publicity pieces for J. K. Rowling’s chair reached over 90 countries, plus all 50 states and all news aggregator sites. It saw total media coverage nationwide, with special interest in New York, Silicon Valley, and major cities in the Midwest, as well as the nation’s capital. The chair also garnered attention with 4,428 mainstream media hits, a number that is still rapidly growing. Print media circulated to 291.7+ million, while 15.6+ billion unique viewers visited websites carrying the article.

(16) THE TRUTH MAY NOT BE OUT THERE. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with Effie Seiberg, Liar”. (Effie needs an introduction Camestros Felapton’s cat.)

4) Wait, how do I know you aren’t sneakily telling the truth?

The answer to question 3 is a lie.

5) All right, I’ll let it go. Just know that I’m aware that at any point you could be LYING. So. You studied philosophy and logic. Do you use that in your fiction?

Absolutely! There’s a long tradition of slipping philosophy into speculative fiction, especially since they’re both about exploring ideas and taking them to their logical conclusions. Some of my favorites are Italo Calvino’s “All at One Point” and Asimov’s “The Last Question” for metaphysical cosmology, Ken Liu’s “Mono No Aware” for ethics, and Roald Dahl’s “William and Mary” for epistemology, and the movies Labyrinth and Monty Python’s Holy Grail for classic logic. Also the entire Discworld series for all the philosophy ever.

(17) FARE LADY. Ann Leckie wrote about her GoH stint at Japan’s Hal-Con, including a special souvenir —

I don’t tend to take a lot of pictures, unless I’m explicitly doing research on something and think I need pics for future reference, but I did take one or two of the view out my hotel window in Numazu:… And one of some lovely fish-shaped cakes a reader gave me as a gift:…

Okay, those aren’t really cakes. The two in the middle are pancakes with bean paste inside, and the top and bottom ones are a kind of wafer-cookie sandwich, also filled with bean paste. Still. Close enough….

And I learned from her post that when cooked a coelacanth, like every other exotic creature, reportedly “tastes like chicken.”

(18) RUN A LINE THROUGH IT. “SFWA Contracts Committee Alert” at the SFWA Blog.

The SFWA Contracts Committee believes there are serious problems for writers with the non-compete and option clauses in many science fiction and fantasy publishers’ contracts. The non-compete language in these contracts often overreaches and limits authors’ career options in unacceptable ways. Writers may choose to bring out a range of books from different publishers — science fiction from one publisher and fantasy from another publisher, for example — and may have to do so in order to earn anything like a living wage.  The problem becomes even worse for hybrid authors who self-publish works in parallel with their traditional publications. Several contracts that we have seen include overlapping restrictions that could keep the author from publishing another book for more than a year….

Our recommendations:

Any limitation on the author’s ability to write new works at any time is unacceptable and should be deleted.

“Competing work” should be defined in the contract as clearly and narrowly as possible, and preferably limited to a work in the same series (whether one is planned or not). The burden should be on the publisher to prove that another work published elsewhere by the author would reduce their sales.

(19) THRONES RETROSPECTIVE. BBC devoted a long post to Game of Thrones at 20: How the saga became a TV hit”.

Still, HBO wavered over whether to make a fantasy show that would be so drastically different from their trademark series, which tended toward the grittily realistic. And even after HBO tentatively signed on, Benioff and Weiss’s original pilot episode had to be completely reshot before the show finally debuted in 2011 – another six years after the producers had first acquired the rights from Martin. But there was hope from another perspective: the rise of prestige television had paralleled the rise of cult fandoms. The passionate online exchanges among fans of books like Martin’s made them desirable targets for marketing. Suddenly, HBO had proof that a Game of Thrones series would have an intensely engaged audience from the start, and the network’s marketers knew exactly how to reach those fans – right on those websites and message boards where they gathered to discuss the minutiae of the books. If the network got particularly lucky, those fans would become ambassadors to a wider audience.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link together with these comments, “They do mention the proper title at one point, although it seems a lost cause generally. OTOH, the night before my cruise got to Dubrovnik two weeks ago, the tour manager specifically called out A Song of Ice and Fire — so some people actually know the original collective.”

(20) HEAD OF THE CLASS. Entertainment Weekly explains what went down.

On Wednesday’s episode of The Late Late Show With James Corden, host James Corden and some high-wattage Game of Thrones cast members spoofed House of Black and White’s Hall of Faces (a prominent part of the show’s season 6 marketing campaign), with a segment imagining what an obnoxious disembodied head might do to the larger group.

The sketch featured recent guests Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Alfie Allen, and Iwan Rheon…


 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Rachel Swirsky, Will R., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the Top Level Poster. On his head be it!]

110 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/21/16 Pixel Like It’s 1999

  1. [ticky]

    (11) I wonder if Kate Paulk is going to push “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”?

  2. Many of you might be interested in a discussion going on at Language Log right now, about conversations conducted in more than one language — including switching from one language to another mid-sentence.

    I’m Canadian. More than one of my fan friends has this T-shirt:


    (Text if you don’t want to follow the link: Ce moment when you start penser en deux langues at the same temps.)

  3. Re: Venus

    The Gizmodo article says that the the low temperatures are indeed upper atmospheric temperatures. The Science Alert article excerpted seems to be either erroneous or ambiguous, depending on whether you think “polar areas of Venus” implicitly refers to the surface or not. The surface temperature it seems doesn’t get below many hundreds of degrees, and the new data doesn’t add to the habitable regions described by Darren.

  4. @heather @darren
    I am reminded of the “habitable point flaw” in Niven’s Known Space probes, leading to the colonization of Mount Lookatthat in A GIFT FROM EARTH.

  5. @Vasha

    I recall a short story about a first contact which turned out to be between humans colonising the galaxy spinwise and humans colonising the galaxy antispinwise. If I’m not conflating two stories this has an old male society as a bit of background colour.

    I’m thinking that it’s by Walter J. Miller, jr., but I don’t recognise it among the titles in his bibliography, so perhaps it was by someone else.

  6. Books!

    The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R.S. Belcher: I wish someone else had written this book. It’s a fantastic idea—a secret society guarding the magical otherworlds and underworlds of the U.S. highway system—and I wanted to love it so, so badly. But the writing is slipshod and the characterization falls flat far more often than it succeeds. The plot frequently meanders in unengaging and unfocused ways, and the intriguing bits often find themselves subsumed to a joyless slog. (There’s also this weird undercurrent of male chauvinism that pops up in a couple of places, that I kept expecting to be explicitly undermined, but kind of never was.) This is the first in a series, and I might pick up the sequel . . . then again, maybe not. I think this author needed a very strong editorial hand that he wasn’t getting here. And if this is the quality of writing we’re getting on an author’s fourth novel, I’m not too confident that the quality will catch up to the promise of the premise in further books.

    In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan: Lady Trent #4, Isabella heads to the deserts of Akhia to study dragon breeding. If you loved the first three, you’ll enjoy this one. Several events that we’ve been long anticipating occur here (one of which actually felt rather anticlimactic, and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not), and overall, this was a worthy read. (It actually felt rather short, though upon checking, it seems to have the same page count as previous installments.)

    Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye: Also told in a “Victorian memoir” format, but centered around a Jane Eyre-esque serial killer rather than a dragon naturalist. (Well . . . serial killer in the literal sense. That specific term conjures up a number of connotations and tropes that end up not applying here.) I’m pretty sure I heard about this one in SFF-centric spaces, but this isn’t SFF, it’s historical fiction. It’s very well done—well-written and engaging, with a dry wit that I really enjoyed. (The narrator has in fact read Jane Eyre, and comments repeatedly on the similarities between her life and the book, but this isn’t a direct retelling of Jane Eyre.) I’ll definitely be picking up more books by this author.

    The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky: The Greek gods have fallen from their glory, and have long since left Greece. We follow the former goddess Artemis, now a long-lived woman lacking practically all her former powers, as she hunts a killer in NYC. Overall, this was a very well done debut. I especially enjoyed the focus on Greek mystery cults, a topic that I haven’t seen explored elsewhere. It wasn’t perfect by any means—I had some issues with the ending, and there was a romantic storyline that I thought wasn’t done quite as well as it could have been—but this is definitely worth picking up.

    Admiral by Sean Danker: This won’t be out until May (I got an ARC). MilSF, with four strangers (including our narrator, a man with a mysterious past that he keeps hidden from his fellow travelers and from readers), waking up aboard a ship that’s crash-landed on a strange alien planet. MilSF isn’t a genre I’ve read much of, but I enjoyed this. I thought the “narrator who keeps secrets about himself from the reader” aspect was well done (though it’s possible others will find it tedious—I suspect this will be a personal taste issue). I’m curious to see how this series (it looks like it’ll be either a series or a trilogy) will play out, if only because a sequel can’t really replicate this book’s dynamic.

  7. @Petrea Mitchell

    About “Re: ZERO -Starting Life In Another World” if you look at Emilia after she shows up at the end of the second episode you can see the flower the little girl give her in the first timeline. So she was the broke person who helped her this go around as well. Subaru really was slowing her down in the first run through.

  8. I read a story in an anthology back in the mid-seventies which I cannot identify. It involved a…thing of some sort, mechanical, that people were learning about by going into and proceeding along the previous person’s path until it killed them, using instructions like “here you have to glance to the left before stepping over that” and the like. I think it was the first story in the anthology, but I wouldn’t swear to that. I’m almost certain it wasn’t one of Judith Merrill’s. It makes me think of Lloyd Biggle, Jr., but I don’t think that’s who wrote it. Does anyone else know that story? If so, could you point me at it? I remember it being very good and I’m curious to read it again.

  9. John A Arkansawyer: All I can say is that story sounds a bit familiar, though I can’t dredge up a solid memory.

    Meanwhile I found you really do have a blog. Waiting to see how you’ll follow up your March post.

  10. It’s a very long time since I read Algis Budrys’s famous “Rogue Moon” but is it possible that that’s the story you are thinking of?

  11. JJ: Oevna Cnbar, Zbetna Fzvgu, Natryvdhr F. Naqrefba

    While I was deciphering those names it occurred to me that we could say most File 770 comments are written in rot0.

  12. @Cheryl S, I’m pretty sure that the book you’re thinking of is Algis Budrys’ Rogue Moon. But this is not a short story; it’s a short (by modern standards) novel. The murderous labyrinth is on the Moon, and it’s navigated by clones (more or less) of the hero that pass him the memory of where he went right and where he went wrong.

    (ETA: Ninja’d by StephenfromOttawa)

  13. Recently, Alastair Reynolds riffed on that sort of concept, collected in Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, and it was quite good.

  14. Mike Glyer: Oh, dear. I had the link to wordpress/ instead of the link to blog/ in some of these, didn’t I? I’ve meant to fix that, but blogging has taken up so much of my time. 😉

  15. S:AAB?

    I think scrubbing the latrine is a better use of my time than revisiting that senseless bit of crud.

  16. Yep, count me as another Canadian who knows all about concurrent languages.

    I’m from New Brunswick originally, the only officially billingual province. While it’s not where I’m from, in the city of Moncton and much of the south east of the province, there’s a wonderfully head breaking dialect called Chiac that sprinkles in english words and sometimes frenchifies simple english verbs, for example go-er instead of go. (The -er pronounced as a long ‘a’ sound). My usual example:
    “Je vais go-er chez le store pour un pop.”

    Plenty more examples here, and note they are written phonetically in most cases, not with proper french spellings.


  17. @Steward, you may be conflating two stories: Walter Miller’s “The Big Hunger”, which ends with the galaxy completely colonized, and Harry Harrison’s “Final Encounter”, in which is the story you remember.

  18. Jenora: On parle de lousy French.

    If anyone else gets the reference, it call to mind the thought that one of the few things in this world that are truly gone are defunct museum exhibits… particularly those from defunct museums.

  19. Mike Glyer wrote:

    While I was deciphering those names it occurred to me that we could say most File 770 comments are written in rot0.

    Maybe some of them, but I’ll have you know that all of mine, including this one, are encrypted with rot26! 🙂

    Re. the language thing: hearing two or more people who are fluent in multiple languages and are switching between languages at full speed while talking to each other is really amazing. It’s completely different from hearing someone who is attempting to speak a language, but isn’t fully fluent, and occasionally drops back to another one—a much more common phenomenon. I was riding the train the other day, and happened to sit near three teenage girls who were fully fluent in both English and Spanish, and were chattering at full speed, switching languages mid-sentence like it was no big thang! It was astounding to listen to. I’m not particularly fluent in Spanish, but enough so to distinguish what they were doing from what’s often called “Spanglish”. I don’t like to eavesdrop, but I simply couldn’t help it; I’d never heard anything like it before!

    The phenomenon is generally called “code-switching”, which makes sense when someone switches back and forth between sentences, but in this case, it was more like they simply had the full vocabulary and grammar of both languages available to choose from in forming sentences, and didn’t bother distinguishing which bits were which.

  20. @Bonnei McDaniel: Kate Paulk seems like a nice enough person, so I suggest we think instead of a puppy who isn’t and suggest they push it. And where to, too.

  21. Pingback: John Hertz Warned Us | File 770

  22. To muddy the waters somewhat:

    When I read “Diamond Dogs”, I was very strongly reminded of another story which I had read many years before, almost certainly in the 1970s, and which I could not identify.

    And then, two or three years ago, I came across a copy of Rogue Moon in my local library, and seized the opportunity to fill a gap in my reading. It didn’t ring any bells at all, so I’m fairly confident in saying that it’s not what the Reynolds reminded me of. In particular, I’m pretty sure that our mysterious original shared the setup with a party of explorers being picked off one by one.

  23. @stewart: contra other comments, your story sounds to me like Poul Anderson. I can hear the single-gender member of the exploring party speaking in Anderson’s pompous voice (as opposed to one of his others), in a tone I’ve never read Harrison using; the let’s-all-brood-because-we’ve-run-out-of-worlds-to-explore tone I remember is very Anderson. ISFDB has a number of possibilities that I can’t narrow down without samples.

  24. At University in North Wales I landed up in the Student Union sound and lights group (think venue roadies). Any written signage was supposed to be in Welsh and English (if possible in that order), and we got told off for taping a note that read “Broken” to be bit of malfunctioning kit. “Hmmm…” thought someone, “The Welsh for ‘No Cycling’ is ‘Dim Beicio’, ‘No Parking’ is ‘Dim Parcio’…” so from then on standard labelling became ‘Dim Workio’. Perfectly understandable but not correct in either language.

  25. @Fugue:

    To be honest, I was surprised that nobody beat me to the ChuChu Rocket joke. I tried playing the game a couple of times but couldn’t really wrap my brain around it. Give me Bomberman any day 🙂

  26. Mike Glyer: While I was deciphering those names it occurred to me that we could say most File 770 comments are written in rot0.

    Dammit! And all this time, I’ve been writing my comments in rot26!

    My apologies. I feel so bad about this, I’m going to have to go lie down for a while.

  27. Is there a con in Chattanooga that might welcome the ChuChu panel?

    I’ll get my coat.

  28. Current media consumption:

    This isn’t speculative, but it touches on a topic that’s come up a lot in SFF the last year or two: the Queer Tragedy Trope. Over the last year or so I’ve been doing a series of DVD reviews of lesbian-themed movies, and the one that came up in the queue this week was “Lost and Delirious” which is pretty much the poster child for this trope. So if you’ve ever wanted to see a detailed dissection of the sort of story that forms the background for why Queer Tragedy/Kill Your Gays provokes such strong reactions, you might want to check out my review. The point in discussing this sort of trope is not that nobody is allowed to depict bad things happening to LGBTQ people, but that stories like this were the only ones allowed to be told for the space of several centuries. So every modern echo of it carries the burden of that weight.

  29. Actually, it was Heather Rose Jones (I think) who started the listing of all-male societies the other day, not me.

  30. (4) WTF? I mean, I may not have enough WTFs on hand to react to this. Pearls before swine and too many cooks. Yep, I’m so croggled, cliches is all I have.

    (5) Didn’t care 20 years ago, have negative caring now.

    (11) To paraphrase Megyn Kelly, “Is this just math that you do as a Puppy to make yourself feel better?” Trick question: obviously math is beyond her, since she’s apparently unable to find an official announcement on the official web site (and social media) of the thing she’s talking about. Someone, show her how to find MACII’s web page, esp. if she’s still helping Sarah with the party planning for the Puppy Safe Space.

    Simon: I really like the construction “of this parish” to refer to Filers. It can be interpreted as either friendly or snarky, like us. Does that make Mike the Vicar?

    Jenora: There must be an equivalent t-shirt in the southwestern US that says the same thing in a mix of English and Spanish. Because there are even more people who do that, spread over a wider area. I hear it all the time, and even understand it sometimes.

    I read Lady Trent #4 (aka Isabella of Arabia-equivalent) last week practically straight through. Moves like a rocket, and many good things happen.

    A groan for all the Chu jokes.

  31. Bah. All you people with your once-and-done encryption methods. My posts are encrypted in five passes of of Rot13.

  32. I prefer to post using Rot(26^n)

    Where n is an integer 0 or greater and changes randomly for each character.

  33. Took the car over to Glasgow today for its service, spent the afternoon wandering along the Clyde (in the sun!) taking photos. Thought I’d pop in and buy a ticket for a gig I was interested in going to next week. Fortunately I then looked at it as I’d got the date wrong and the gig was tonight…

    Upshot of which is after 12 hours wandering around or standing at the gig my feet hurt. Gig was worth it though and I got to meet and chat with the lovely and talented Anneke van Giersbergen afterwards.


  34. @ Greg H: Change “puppy” to “pup” and the line will scan perfectly.

  35. @Heather Rose Jones, re: Queer tragedy:

    I was actually coincidentally thinking about that just now, having read JY Yang’s story “Secondhand Bodies” (it’s not a spoiler, I think, to say it ends badly, because you can tell it’s that sort of story from the first paragraph). Yang has written a bunch of other really dark stories with queer women (e.g. “Song of the Krakenmaid”), as has Megan Arkenberg (e.g. “And This Is the Song It Sings”, “Love in the Time of Markov Processes”). Quite a few of the lesbian stories I read last year were horror: there were Rachael K. Jones’s “Who Binds and Looses the World with Her Hands” and “Love Letters on the Nightmare Sea”, Carmen Maria Machado’s “Horror Story”, and Alyssa Wong’s much-praised “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers”… They are mostly really good stories and they do not feature successful relationships.

    So what distinguishes these stories from Queer Tragedy… something must, since it’s impossible that a queer writer should be unable to write a horrifying or negative story at all. It’s in the details of the writing. Crucially, in not a one of these stories do the characters ever question or regret their sexuality. Acceptance or not by society also plays little, if any, role in the stories. You also don’t have the trope where, of two lovers, one is more gender-nonconforming than the other and it is that one who goes mad or dies. That still leaves plenty of room for things to go wrong due to malignant outside forces, character flaws, or interpersonal misunderstandings…

    In “Secondhand Bodies”, the main character is pretty awful; her lover, toward whom she’s possessive and controlling, ultimately leaves her with the parting line, “You think nobody loves you because your body doesn’t fit some fucked-up definition of the perfect woman. Well, no. Nobody loves you because you’re a miserable ugly-hearted lump of shit who cares only about herself.” Fairly accurate. Out of everything that dooms the relationship in this story, it is never hinted that them both being women has anything to do with it (although them being women does have everything to do with the issues of beauty and bodies in the story).

    Horror doesn’t necessarily mean queer characters end up alone. In Priya Sharma’s “Fabulous Beasts” (which belongs to what I call the “sympathetic monsters” subgenre of horror: the main character is a monster but she’s actually not as bad as the society she’s outcast from), two women triumph together over dreadful circumstances. In Lynda Rucker’s “An Element of Blank”, the one of the three women at the center of the story who’s in a lesbian relationship fares the best (with an intact relationship) at the end of the story.

    The one story I read last year that does very much fit the tragic paradigm was “All of the People in Your Party Have Died” by Robin Wasserman. This misery-fest set in the 1980s features a deeply closeted teacher who gets involved with another woman who’s much more boldly open; the latter challenges the former to come out, she won’t, and ultimately she winds up killing the bolder woman; the story ends with her looking ahead to a long grey empty life… Is the setting in the past because the themes are a throwback?

  36. Right now, the last post I can see is the Con or Bust one, and all my links to later articles are throwing Page not Found errors (ie, “this is somewhat embarassing…” page). Previously it was one of those “site inaccesible” type errors.

    Additionally, my links to the the While you’re waiting…” post onwards are throwing up an “Account Suspended” error sometimes.

    Hope everything is fine…

  37. @Bonnie McDaniel

    If they’re doing a restore it could take a little bit though if it’s from last backup this might be it. 🙁

    Sympathies for what must have been a trying day, Mike

    So if we count from the restoration forward is the next post fifth? 😛

    ETA: New Fifth! Like New Coke, best forgotten…

  38. *wanders aimlessly through the post-apocalyptic hivescape*

    *murmurs “Second Fifth.” *

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