Pixel Scroll 5/15/23 It’s More Like A Big Ball Of Wibbly-Wobbly, Pixelly-Scrolly Stuff

(1) WRITERS STRIKE: MORE THOUGHTS ON AI. Justine Bateman tweeted this warning for SAG-AFTRA members:

(2) FREE HWA AI WEBINAR. The Horror Writers Association will host a free webinar on May 15 about what AI means for the future of writing and publishing to help writers understand the facts and realities of what AI does and what it might accomplish in the future. Register here: “Artificial Intelligence and Writing — What AI Means for the Future of Fiction Writing and Publishing”. James Chambers will be leading the panel, joined by Colleen Anderson, CW Briar, R Leigh Hennig, Matthew Kressel, John Edward Lawson, Angela Yuriko Smith, and Leonard Speiser.

AI and WRITING PANEL UPDATE: Greetings! This Monday, May 15, at 8 p.m. ET, the HWA’s Horror University Online program will sponsor a FREE panel discussion about Artificial Intelligence and Writing. This panel is open to all. You don’t have to be an HWA member to attend.

I’ll be leading a group of seven people who bring a wide range of experience and knowledge as authors, editors, organizers in the horror community, publishers, and technology experts to this conversation. We will discuss what artificial intelligence is, how it works, its limitations, how it might change, and how it might affect writing and publishing. Our goal for the discussion is to provide information and insight for writers, editors, and publishers as a springboard for further conversation and understanding and to help them navigate evolving technology so that it does not ever diminish the work of human writers.

The genesis of this panel came a few months back when I heard a lot of chatter online, in the news, and in my writing groups about AI and what this technology means for writers. The sincere anxiety and uncertainty expressed in those conversations made me think the HWA’s Horror University Online could be a good platform to open a fact-based conversation to address these very real concerns and help people wrap their heads around it.

Likewise, I thought, it would be a good forum in which to discuss what the future might hold because, whether we like it or not, we must now work in a world where AI exists. How can human writers, editors, and publishers avoid AI pitfalls? What should we expect on the business side of our industry, such as changes to contract language, submission guidelines, and so on? What are elements of AI we must watch most closely to protect what we do as writers, editors, and publishers? These are just some of the things our panel will discuss.

Among of the core missions of the HWA and Horror University are to support writers, help them develop and improve, help them succeed, share knowledge, and build community. This panel is aligned with those goals. I encourage everyone interested to register at the link below. We will be taking questions during the panel. Even if you can’t attend the live session, you may access the recording.

(3) FIYAH GRANTS. FIYAH Literary Magazine is taking applications for its Grants. Full details at the link.

The FIYAH Literary Magazine Grant Series is intended to assist Black writers of speculative fiction in defraying costs associated with honing their craft. 

The series includes three $1,000 grants to be distributed annually based on a set of submission requirements. All grants with the exception of the Emergency Grant will be issued and awarded as part of Juneteenth every year. The emergency grant will be awarded twice a year in $500 amounts.

(4) NAVARRO SHARES EXPERIENCES. The Horror Writers Association continues its thematic Q&A series: “Celebrating Our Elders: Interview with Yvonne Navarro”.

Do you think you’ve encountered ageism? If so, how do you counteract or deal with it?

Yes, I do. Thanks to self-publishing, younger authors will accept a shamefully lower amount of money for books while older, experienced authors still want to be decently paid for their work. Recently, a younger writer with less experience in a certain media tie-in universe in which I have worked extensively was chosen over me for a project. Unless someone has a mystical wand, I don’t see any way to fight this

(5) ABOUT PTSD. Francis Hamit says, “This is the best, most comprehensive article about PTSD I have ever read:  This is a condition that I’ve suffered from most of my life and, based upon observation I think that many people in Fandom are also afflicted.   Others in Fandom are unkind and go out of their way to make PTSD worse.” “Understanding PTSD in Security Professionals: Unveiling the Impact and Effective Approaches for Support and Recovery” at Security Guards.

PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It is a complex disorder that affects the mind and body, causing significant distress and impairing daily functioning. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of PTSD, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options….

(6) THE HOLE TRUTH. At Speculiction, Jesse Hudson is ready to send for the coroner: “Tailspin: The Decline of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale Series”.

…A lot of shows have plot holes, and The Handmaid’s Tale is no exception. I will not go into detail here. But I will say that they are coming faster and with more frequency. Where Atwood’s novel (aka Season 1) is a tightly wound tale in a finite setting whose pieces fit nicely together, each subsequent season frays this rope. Where characters once acted and behaved according to the personalities Atwood established, they begin to deviate in ways that seem more plot-serving than character-oriented. The show’s writers need to get Person A from point 1 to 2, so they introduce situation X, a situation that goes beyond the limits of the world already established (i.e. plot hole). Or they introduce decision point Y, which keeps the wheels of plot moving but don’t seem true to character or setting. I read a shit-ton of books. I am a forgiving person in plot-hole land. But the series has become too much. It has lost touch with the ground it grew from and now floats in the sky above, the ground only in sight. Nothing is interesting when everything is possible…


1984[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

This novel was published by Bantam the same year R.A. MacAvoy won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very fond of her as she would write The Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope.

Our Beginning this Scroll is from the first novel of the Damiano series and it too is called Damiano.  It was published by Bantam Books in 1984 with the cover illustration by Jim Burns. 

It is a fantastic series and the Beginning which follows gives you a taste of what this novel and the series as a whole is like. So let’s get started…

A string buzzed against his fingernail; the finger itself slipped, and the beat was lost. Damiano muttered something that was a bit profane.

“The problem isn’t in your hand at all. It’s here,” said Damiano’s teacher, and he laid his ivory hand on the young man’s right shoulder. Damiano turned his head in surprise, his coarse black ringlets trailing over the fair skin of that hand. He shifted within his winter robe, which was colored like a tarnished brass coin and heavy as coins. The color suited Damiano, whose complexion was rather more warm than fair.

“My shoulder is tight?” Damiano asked, knowing the answer already. He sighed and let his arm relax. His fingers slid limply across the yew-wood face of the liuto that lay propped on his right thigh. The sleeve of the robe, much longer than his arm and banded in scarlet, toppled over his wrist. He flipped the cloth up with a practiced, unconscious movement that also managed to toss his tangle of hair back from his face. Damiano’s hand, arm, and shoulder were slim and loosely jointed, as was the rest of him.

“Again?” he continued. “I thought I had overcome that tightness months ago.” His eyes and eyelashes were as soft and black as the woolen mourning cloth that half the women of the town wore, and his eyes grew even blacker in his discouragement. He sighed once more.

Raphael’s grip on the youth tightened. He shook him gently, laughing, and drew Damiano against him. “You did. And you will overcome it again and again. As many times as it crops up. As long as you play the instrument. As long as you wear flesh.” 

Damiano glanced up. “As long as I … Well, in that case may I fight my problem a good hundred years! Is that why you never make mistakes, Seraph? No flesh?” His toothy smile apologized for the witticism even as he spoke it. Without waiting for an answer, he dropped his eyes to the liuto and began to play, first the treble line of the dance, then the bass line, then both together.

Raphael listened, his eyes quiet, blue as lapis. His hand still lay on Damiano’s shoulder, encouraging him. Raphael’s great glistening wings twitched slightly with the beat of the music. They caught the cloudy daylight and sent pearly glints against the tiles of the wall. 

Damiano played again, this time with authority, and smoothly passed the place where he had to change the meter—two strokes, very fast, plucked by the middle finger. When he was done, he looked up, his face flushed with success, his lower lip red because he’d been biting down on it.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a very splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. Nor have I seen any of the later adaptations of the Oz fiction. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and some of it is slash which is a really, really scary idea. (Died 1919.)
  • Born May 15, 1877 William Bowen. His most notable work was The Old Tobacco Shop, a fantasy novel that was one runner-up for the inaugural Newbery Medal in 1922. He also had a long running children’s series with a young girl named Merrimeg whom a narrator told her adventures with all sorts of folkloric beings. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 15, 1926 Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie-based Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 15, 1948 Brian Eno, 75. Worth noting if only for A Multimedia Album Based on the Complete Text of Robert Sheckley’s In a Land of Clear Colors, though all of his albums have a vague SF feeling to them such as Music for Civic Recovery CentreJanuary 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of The Long Now and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today which could the name of Culture mind ships. Huh. I wonder if his music will show up in the forthcoming Culture series?
  • Born May 15, 1955 Lee Horsley, 68. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls as it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer.
  • Born May 15, 1966 Greg Wise, 57. I’m including him solely for being in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun.
  • Born May 15, 1971 Samantha Hunt, 52. If you read nothing else by her, do read The Invention of Everything, a might be look at the last days in the life of Nikola Tesla. It’s mostly set within the New Yorker Hotel, a great concept. I’m avoiding spoilers naturally. She’s written two other genre novels, Mr. Splitfoot and The Seas, plus a handful of stories. 


(10) MAKES YOU WONDER. “Wonder Woman’s daughter Trinity arrives in upcoming DC comic” reports Entertainment Weekly. Yeah, I’m sure you’re asking that question, too, but the article doesn’t answer it.

Wonder Woman has been a superhero, a feminist icon, and a movie star over the decades, but this year she’s going to add another title to her resume: mother.

IGN revealed on Friday that DC Comics is introducing Trinity, Wonder Woman’s daughter, in the upcoming anniversary issue Wonder Woman #800. She was created by writer Tom King and artist Daniel Sampere, who are taking over the monthly Wonder Woman comic when it relaunches with a new issue #1 this September….

(11) IT WILL TAKE YOU BY SURPRISE. Jennifer Hawthorne encourages everyone to check out this “super-cool space-themed art.” It lives up to her billing! “Astronaut sculpture from an ex-physicist” at Reddit.

(12) CSSF VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB CHOICE. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction has announced their final Virtual Book Club Event of the academic year. To join them Friday, May 19 at noon (Central) for a virtual meeting, register here.

For the month of May, the Center has chosen short story, “We Travel the Spaceways” by Victor LaValle.

Otherworldly interference in real world New York City? Or delusions? For the answer, follow two strangers in an astonishing short story of faith and hope. Grimace is a homeless man on a holy mission to free Black Americans from emotional slavery. His empty soda cans told him as much. Then he meets Kim, a transgender runaway who joins Grimace on his heroic quest. Is Grimace receiving aluminum missives from the gods, or is he a madman? Kim will find out soon enough on a strange journey they are destined to share. Available for free with Amazon Prime account. 

(13) ALTERNATE MCU. CinemaBlend eavesdrops on his commencement address at USC where “Kevin Feige Talks Forks In Life And How Robert Downey Jr. Only Landed The Iron Man Role After Marvel’s ‘Top Choice’ Passed”.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, in great, the powerhouse that it is today due to the efforts of studio head Kevin Feige and the countless individuals who work at Marvel Studios. Of course, an actor by the name of Robert Downey Jr. deserves some credit as well, as his debut performance as Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man helped to propel the film to box office success. After all these years, it’s honestly hard to imagine anyone else playing the role of the mustachioed hero except for Downey. Believe it or not though, he wasn’t the studio’s “top choice” for Stark, as the other name they had in mind passed. Feige recently recalled that situation while discussing forks in life and more during a recent speech….

Oscar nominee Clive Owen is certainly a gifted actor and could’ve been an interesting choice for Tony Stark. Entertainment enthusiasts probably know him best from his performances in CloserClose My EyesSin City and more. While the notion of him playing the character is intriguing, I don’t think he could’ve brought Tony Stark the way that Robert Downey Jr. did….

… “And that is the unwritten rule of luck – not getting your first choice might just be the greatest thing that can happen. Because you know what’s better than getting your first choice, getting the right choice. In our case, of course, that was Robert Downey Jr., and the first movie we ever made as a studio ended up being one of the best reviewed and highest grossing movies of the year.”

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This month’s Sci-Fi Sunday over at Isaac Arthur’s Futures YouTube channel is on “Hive Worlds”.

Science fiction often shows us dark, grimy, dystopian mega-cities in the future, but are such planet-wide cities possible, what would they be like, and how many people could they hold?

[Thanks to Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Randall M.]

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32 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/15/23 It’s More Like A Big Ball Of Wibbly-Wobbly, Pixelly-Scrolly Stuff

  1. First few items are a bit depressing. That’s not a complaint. They’re real news that affects sff professionally and fannishly, and we need to pay attention.

    Damiano is excellent.

  2. (7) I really should add Damiano to my wishlist. I loved Tea with the Black Dragon…

    Does anyone else remember the Damiano interactive text game that came out in the mid-1980s? (It was a text-based game with simple graphics, and you could even play it on a monochrome screen.) I don’t remember much about the gameplay — just that I was terrible at it. 🙂 If you made the wrong choice, the “good/evil” meter went closer to “evil,” and of course, that means you died and went to Hell. I don’t know how close that concept is to the original books.

    You can see a few screenshots here:

    and here:


    (8) “The Marvelous Land of Oz” certainly had a plot twist!…

    (8a) Anthony Shaffer (along with Robin Hardy) was credited as the co-author of the novelization of “The Wicker Man.” (According to Wiki, Robin Hardy wrote the book, but Shaffer was credited because his dialogue from the screenplay was used.) I encountered that book during my impressionable years…

    (8b) I really should try “The Sword and the Sorcerer” again. It was better made than many of the fantasy movies I had a love/hate relationship with. And it had a better cast. (I don’t think the famous three-bladed sword was all that useful, though.)

    (10) Maybe Wonder Woman will sculpt her daughter out of clay…

  3. (1) Yep. That’s what gives producers a hard-on: being able to turn to a computer, and say “make me a movie with a superhero who can fly and shoot rays, and a villain who wants to destroy capitalism”, and not have to deal with Teamsters, or writers, or actors, or anyone. And not share a penny with anyone.
    (4) Agism? Yes. Let me expand – younger fandom not speaking privately to an older writer or fan, but attacking them head on in public. Example #1: the Misty Lackey incident at the Nebulas. Now, “colored” was an old-fashioned usage when I was in my teens, and not something I ever thought of using. However… I’m sorry, Misty didn’t get the letter, and neither did I, that it was suddenly (as far as I’m concerned) as bad as the “n” word. When did the Academy English decide on that? Oh, that’s right, there is nothing in English like the Academie Francais.

    But we’re supposed to know (why? I’ve literally never seen this discussion until it blew up at the Nebulas).

    I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance, and I actively dislike people attacking allies as though they were declared enemies.

    Birthdays: it’s over a month late, but I don’t remember (correct me if I’m wrong) seeing Bo Hansson, who is absolutely genre for Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings – and if you’ve never heard it, it will knock your socks off (hope that phrase isn’t insulting, and assumes you’re wearing socks). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_Inspired_by_Lord_of_the_Rings_(Bo_Hansson_album)

  4. PJ Evans – it’s happening now. Or isn’t Harrison Ford going to spend part of the next Indiana Jones movie “younger”?

  5. @P J Evans CGI replacing actors has already happened, c.f. Rogue One using fake Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing instead of hiring look-a-likes.

    (10) The thing I’m wondering about — and I haven’t read a modern Big Two comic in
    over a decade — is in my experience girls named ‘Trinity’ tend to come out of pretty conservative Christian families, and it’s not a name I’d have expected for an amazon’s daughter.

  6. (1) I was thinking of the customized movies/TV shows.
    As far as using recordings of people, actors or not: requires explicit permission from them, or their estates, for each use. No universal permission, no perpetual permission. You’re treating the likeness as a person, so it requires contracts and the whole bit.

  7. PJEvens: they’ll pay the actors (or their estate) a pittance… or they’ll have younger actors sign monstrous contracts that make anything they do “work for hire” (look up the phrase) and not have to pay more, ever.

  8. 8) Growing up, the only Oz books I read (because they were the only ones I had access to) were Wizard of Oz and Ozma of Oz (the third in the series). I did when I was in grad school pick up the entire Baum series in the Del Rey paperbacks and read … some number of them before I lost momentum.

    I do recommend the film Return to Oz, which is much darker (and also much more faithful to the source material) than the MGM film (which I also love unreservedly).

  9. Joe H. says I do recommend the film Return to Oz, which is much darker (and also much more faithful to the source material) than the MGM film (which I also love unreservedly).

    I wholeheartedly agree. Of course Return to Oz has the advantage of being produced fifty years later later than first was so what audiences expect the film to be are different too.

    There have been so far thirty two adaptations of the Oz books with earliest one being in 1908. The latest is the forthcoming Gale: Stay Away From Oz which envisions Gale as an old women long separated from Oz.

  10. Surprised to see the love for Return to Oz, which I saw when it came out and disliked. I haven’t seen it since, so I can’t really discuss it, but if I remember correctly, the film ended with Dorothy not having any effect on the story at all, that whether she was there or not was irrelevant.

  11. I liked both the Tea and Damiano books, and Raphael’s Saami name: Chief of Eagles.

    (8) yes, The Marvelous Land of Oz does have an interesting twist, along with a related Aren’t Those Suffragettes Silly subplot.

  12. (8) I saw the MGM movie on TV, in glorious black and white, when I was very young; the wicked witch’s hourglass gave me nightmares and may account for my lifelong hatred of deadlines. I didn’t read the books until decades later, but some of them also have the power to creep me out, for example the Nome King turning members of the party into mantelpiece ornaments, one by one.

  13. 1) The guy is talking about using AI to save money. Digital doubles such as those of Carrie Fisher or Peter Cushing, and digital de-aging of actors such as DeNiro or Ford are incredibly expensive, painstaking and time-consuming to produce. They’re done for artistic reasons, not for cost-cutting.

    Beyond a text prompt, there’s no directability of the images that AI produces. By contrast, each frame in an animated feature or special effects shot undergoes incredible scrutiny and many many iterations based on feedback from the director. A first step for studios wanting to produce movies on the cheap would simply be to reduce this iteration time, employ less experienced artists, and have the director and/or vfx supe be less fussy about the final images.

    As for script writing, I don’t think I’ve heard of any credible plot being generated by a chat program. Anybody got any evidence to the contrary?

    All of which isn’t to say that the sudden acceleration of AI/chatbot technology isn’t simultaneously exhilarating, confusing and scary!

  14. @Cliff
    It’s really weird: chatbots’ stories or blogposts are obviously not good and yet thousands of people, businesspersons included, are fawning over them, proclaiming revolution in writing. Recent attempts to use chatbots to generate content for publications were disasters but they’re still going to this well. Wild.

    Also, the idea of training LLMs on old TV shows to produce new series reminds me of the beginning of “Elementary, My Dear Data” where Data solves every case generated by the holodeck in mere seconds because they’re just rehashes of various elements from Sherlock Holmes stories. Thankfully ChatGPT can’t create self-aware Moriarty =)

  15. 8) I grew up reading and rereading the Oz books, especially the original ones by Baum; it was really the first thing you could call me a “fan” of: I drew maps, made timelines, and so on. Over the past couple years, I’ve been reading the books to my (now four-year-old) child, and we’re currently on our thirty-seventh! https://lessaccurategrandmother.blogspot.com/search/label/series%3A%20oz

    Many of the continuations are fairly worthy, though Ruth Plumly Thompson’s idea of Oz is often pretty different from Baum’s. When you read Baum’s non-Oz fantasies, there’s occasionally a solid one (I really like both Queen Zixi of Ix and Sky Island) but you can see why Oz was the one that really succeeded where others did not. I really recommend the Books of Wonder editions of the Baum books, which reproduce the original editions fairly faithfully, including colors plates and lots of interesting textual features like sparkly green ink in Emerald City or color pages in Road to Oz.

    I find Return to Oz neat to look at; I like seeing stuff from the later books visualized, but the dark tone isn’t accurate to Baum’s books.

  16. Re: Wizard of Oz. Like many people in my generation, my husband and I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz on the tv when it was broadcast once a year (my fading memory suggests it was in springtime). When he was in college, he crammed into a dormroom with a bunch of friends to do the annual rite of watching TWoO and exclaimed, to everyone’s amusement, “wait, it’s in color?” He’d grown up with a colorblind father who saw no value in buying a color tv set; he’d just assumed the film was black and white, an assumption borne out by the first twenty minutes of the film. So he’s one of the few people not of the original generation of watchers who legitimately got the shock-and-wonder of seeing Oz for the first time, as an adult.

  17. @Cliff
    The immediate issue is not so much that writers or actors are going to be replaced wholesale, just devalued. An AI can belch up a logline and a script based on any required plotline. Executive chooses the ones that read most coherently, and hire writers to REWRITE, use the basic characters and plot but cut out whatever leads nowhere, make any weirdness make sense and punch up the action and dialog to make the characters appealing enough for an audience to care about – all at a far lesser price than they would pay to write a script from scratch.

    As for actors – while the technology might not be up to it routinely for a price that’s worth it at the moment, Bateman is not wrong that the tech will improve and the price will go down. I think she’s right that not TOO far in the future, it will be possible for a studio to hire a bunch of talented but unknown actors and overlay bought likenesses and voices of other more famous actors on their performance, cutting costs that way as well. It’s at least a plausible possibility for her to try to galvanize SAG-AFTRA with.

  18. OlegX:

    It’s really weird: chatbots’ stories or blogposts are obviously not good and yet thousands of people, businesspersons included, are fawning over them, proclaiming revolution in writing. Recent attempts to use chatbots to generate content for publications were disasters but they’re still going to this well. Wild.

    The argument I have seen is that the studio will hand a writer a script from AI, make them rewrite it, then pay them significantly less than they would for writing a script because they’re “only editing”. Even though in most cases the AI script is liable to be so bad the writer would have done better working from scratch.

  19. 1.) The concern about using AI in videos isn’t just about actors, though it’s useful to bring up in this context and if actors can lead a charge for regulation, then great. But there’s a deeper issue that needs to be considered. We’re going to be seeing it used in deepfakes, both for political uses (hmm, I feel a story stirring–down, I tell you, DOWN, there are other priorities!) and for personal/blackmail uses.

    The end result will be that we absolutely can not trust video evidence. I dread the onslaught of 2024 campaign ads–things are already bad enough, but AI just guarantees that it’s gonna look a whole lot worse. Unless the whole mess is enough for people to just not trust ads at all, which wouldn’t be all that bad.

    2.) I recently led a quite rational discussion about concerns regarding generative AI in writing for the regional independent writers group that I’m part of (Northwest Independent Writers Association). A point brought up by one member is that we need to think about ways to assist those who end up unemployed due to AI–the group includes technical writers who have turned to writing fiction as well as those of us who write fiction or nonfiction.

    However, the overall conclusion was that AI by itself is unlikely to replace humans writing fiction anytime soon. The writing quality is poor, and while it serves adequately for technical writing, it’s unlikely that large language models will ever acquire the ability to develop those leaps of intuitive reasoning that humans can.

    Parenthetical–AI matches human intelligence and perhaps can surpass it in the intelligence subgroups of crystallized (acquired) knowledge, processing speed, and memory retrieval. But until it becomes capable of fluid reasoning (the intuitive ability to create associations between groups of knowledge), it’s not a match for humans. So far that ability has not been replicated.

  20. #5: I still have nightmares about when I was doing Science Fiction Chronicle—and that was more than 20 years ago!

    L. Frank Baum: saying how much you love the first Wizard of Oz movie is like saying how much you loved the LoTR movies, and say, who is this Tom Bombadil guy anyway?

    I’ve read nearly all the Oz books—Ballantine/del Rey reprinted them in trade paper and mass market; Books of Wonder reprinted them in hardcover. The film Return to Oz is the most faithful dramatic adaptation of the books and the original illustrations.

  21. @Oleg X: Heh. I’m reminded of “Trurl’s Machine” from The Cyberiad, in which an eight story thinking machine announces that two plus two is seven and becomes belligerent and ultimately violent when contradicted.

  22. Sherwood Smith has written some Oz books, starting with The Emerald Wand of Oz in 2005. I only read that one and the second, Trouble Under Oz, but I enjoyed them.

  23. I got to read my grandmother’s early -edition Oz books summer vactioning with her. I regret that I was not able to inherit those books when she was forced to pack up her house and move in with my mother. But when Borders began selling the facsimile editions, I bought all I could. And I’ve downloaded the Project Gutenberg e-editions.

    As a child, I adored all of them unreservedly. As an adult, they have been brushed by the Suck Fairy. It’s been long enough since I picked one up I can’t explain exactly why, though.

    To this day it annoys me when someone exclaims, “I LOOOOVE OZ!” when what they mean is the MGM film and possibly the first in the series. Many times the things they love most are in the film but not the book (the Horse of Another Color, for ex). I hate to be THAT gatekeeper, but Polychrome the Rainbow’s Daughter or GTFO*.

    *to go read the rest of the books, natch.

  24. All of the recent discussion about ChatGTP and writing reminded me of this old Italo Calvino essay (Cybernetics And Ghosts) which seems particularly applicable:


    An interesting quote: “…will we also have machines capable of conceiving and composing poems and novels? The interesting thing is not so much the question whether this problem is soluble in practice – because in any case it would not be worth the trouble of constructing such a complicated machine – as the theoretical possibility of it, which would give rise to a series of unusual conjectures.”

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