Pixel Scroll 5/20/18 I Know What You’re Thinking: Did He Scroll Six Pixels Or Only Five?

(1) SAFE AT HOME. Adweek tells about an Incredibles 2 movie product tie-in: “Why The Incredibles Needed an ADT Home Security System”.

Even superheroes need a good home security system, says a fun new ad from ADT and Disney, themed around the upcoming premiere of The Incredibles 2.

In the 30-second spot, animated by Pixar, the film’s titular super-family gets a tour of their new alarm system from superhero costume designer Edna Mode.

There are, for example, water level sensors—to safeguard against “surprise attacks” if a villain is hiding, for some reason, in a full bathtub, wielding a rubber ducking, waiting to pounce. There are motion sensors with live video—useful for tracking Mr. and Mrs. Incredible’s super-fast middle child, Dash. Intrusion detection can warn of invaders—and also help keep their teen daughter, Violet, gifted with invisibility, from sneaking out.


(2) CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL. Want to know how to tank your writing career before it starts? Tony Perez offers his advice:

(3) DO GIANTS SHRINK? John Scalzi tackled a question about Robert A. Heinlein’s residual influence in “Reader Request Week 2018 #6: The Fall(?!?!?) of Heinlein”.

But the question wasn’t whether Heinlein is going to disappear; it’s whether he’s declined as an influence. I think it’s fair to say he has, if for no other reason than that in the last 30 years, the scene in SF/F has changed. For one thing, fantasy and fantasy writers are much more influential in the field and on emerging writers than they were when Heinlein was alive; there’s an entire generation now edging into their 30s who grew up at Hogwarts, and for whom people like Robert Jordan (with an assist from Brandon Sanderson) and George RR Martin loom large in their landscape. Over on the SF side William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Lois McMaster Bujold (not to mention Suzanne Collins) are much nearer influences, to name just three.

Also, as hinted above, YA authors are much more significant influences now than they were three decades ago. I can’t tell you how many younger authors count people like Tamora Pierce and Scott Westerfeld as significant in their development, and why wouldn’t they? And, yes, Heinlein wrote juvies, but the fact he wrote them is not the same as them currently being widely read and being influential. They’re not, which is not entirely surprising, as almost all of them are now sixty years old and the world they were written in doesn’t exist any more.

(4) DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS. Comics fans won’t be surprised at the wide variety of results, I suspect: “Image Comics Had Seven Different Artists Color a Black & White Todd McFarlane ‘Spawn’ Drawing”.

While we wait for more news on Blumhouse’s Spawn feature film, creator Todd McFarlane is finishing up issue #286 of the Image Comics series, which is going to printers today. For this one, Image did something pretty awesome, enlisting seven different artists to interpret a cover McFarlane drew for issue #286, in their own personal style.

The result? Seven vastly different pieces of art… which all began as the same piece.

McFarlane wrote on Facebook, “Here’s the list of AWESOME people who lent their coloring skills to Spawn issue 286 this month (in order of the covers below):

  • Jean-Francois Beaulieu
  • Nikos Koutsis
  • Moreno Dinisio
  • Frank Martin
  • Matthew Wilson
  • Owen Gieni
  • Annalisa Leoni

Pretty wild to see how much color can completely change the entire feel of a drawing…

(5) RUNNER-UP. Usually the winner gets all the publicity. Kevin Polowy, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, “Emilia Clarke calls Brad Pitt’s $120K bid to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ with her the ‘weirdest experience of my entire life'”, says she can’t talk about the anonymous bidder who donated $160,000 to watch an episode of Game of Thrones with her to benefit Haitian relief because the bidder was anonymous.  But she says that Brad Pitt bidding $120,000 was quite strange.

Clarke clearly did not want to get into details — perhaps because the bidder from Sean Penn’s fundraiser for relief in Haiti chose to remain anonymous.

But she did speak a little more about the runner-up, Brad Pitt. The actor fell short in his attempt to spend some QT with the GoT star who plays Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen. Pitt bid only $120K at the Sotheby’s event.

“It was the weirdest experience of my entire life,” Clarke, 31, said of the auction. “I thought my head was going to explode. I went bright red and couldn’t stop smiling. It was amazing. I texted everyone I knew.”

(6) DEEP CUT. Shadow And Act reports “Laura Harrier’s Role As Millie Montag Cut From Fahrenheit 451”.

Laura Harrier’s role in Fahrenheit 451 was cut from the final version of the HBO film. Harrier, who is in Cannes for Black KkKlansman, revealed the fate of her role to The Wrap.

The actress, who starred last in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, would have had the rare distinction of starring in two Cannes films in one year.

Harrier was supposed to play the wife of Michael B. Jordan’s character Guy Montag, but the character was trimmed from the adaptation due to time.

“The character definitely has a big part in the book, but because of the length of the film, (director Ramin Bahrani) decided they needed to change the storyline and the structure of the film,” she said. “And unfortunately my character didn’t fit with the storyline. It’s something you always hope doesn’t happen, but I’m not the first it’s happened to, and I definitely won’t be the last.”

(7) ISS CARGO RATES. I thought there was a popular joke among hard sf writers that Newton’s fourth law tells us “Everything costs more and works less,” but Google says I misremember…. Ars Technica headline: “NASA to pay more for less cargo delivery to the space station”. A large price increase by SpaceX will overcome a smaller price cut by Orbital ATK.

A new analysis finds that NASA will pay significantly more for commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station in the 2020s rather than enjoying cost savings from maturing systems. According to a report by the space agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, NASA will likely pay $400 million more for its second round of delivery contracts from 2020 to 2024 even though the agency will be moving six fewer tons of cargo. On a cost per kilogram basis, this represents a 14-percent increase.

One of the main reasons for this increase, the report says, is a 50-percent increase in prices from SpaceX, which has thus far flown the bulk of missions for NASA’s commercial cargo program with its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket.

This is somewhat surprising because, during the first round of supply missions, which began in 2012, SpaceX had substantially lower costs than NASA’s other partner, Orbital ATK. SpaceX and Orbital ATK are expected to fly 31 supply missions between 2012 and 2020, the first phase of the supply contract. Of those, the new report states, SpaceX is scheduled to complete 20 flights at an average cost of $152.1 million per mission. Orbital ATK is scheduled to complete 11 missions at an average cost of $262.6 million per mission.

But that cost differential will largely evaporate in the second round of cargo supply contracts. For flights from 2020 to 2024, SpaceX will increase its price while Orbital ATK cuts its own by 15 percent. The new report provides unprecedented public detail about the second phase of commercial resupply contracts, known as CRS-2, which NASA awarded in a competitively bid process in 2016. SpaceX and Orbital ATK again won contracts (for a minimum of six flights), along with a new provider, Sierra Nevada Corp. and its Dream Chaser vehicle. Bids by Boeing and Lockheed Martin were not accepted.

(8) DEADPOOL ROUNDUP. The Mary Sue’s Kaila Hale-Stern claims Deadpool 2 Has Trolled the Critics into Liking It” while scanning reviews of the movie.

There’s a personality divide where some people are just never going to like a main character like Deadpool or a movie like Deadpool 2, and that’s okay! It is, however, refreshing to hear that there’s fun to be had here for those who want to have it. If one of the worst things you can say is that a movie is “too hip” for its own good, our curiosity is piqued.

(9) JOE KUBERT STORYTELLER AWARD. The inaugural award was given this weekend. “‘Usagi Yojimbo’ Creator Wins First Joe Kubert Storyteller Award”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The first Joe Kubert Distinguished Storyteller Award was presented Saturday at Ontario’s Comic Con Revolution, and the recipient is a comic book veteran whose career has lasted for more than 30 years and multiple publishers. Stan Sakai, the creator of epic anthropomorphic historical series Usagi Yojimbo, was tapped for the honor, although he was unable to attend the ceremony.

Sakai, who was born in Kyoto, Japan, and raised in Hawaii, got his start in comics as a letterer in the early 1980s on a number of independent comic book series, including cult classic Groo the Wanderer by MAD Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones and Mark Evainer. He was soon writing and illustrating his own characters, beginning with The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy in the debut issue of the anthology title Albedo. Usagi Yojimbo followed in the very next issue, setting Sakai’s career path for years to come….

(10) HOSHI OBIT. Japanese monster movie actress Yuriko Hoshi (1943-2018) has died.

Actress Yuriko Hoshi, who was nominated for the Award of the Japanese Academy in 1997 for her supporting performance in Night Trains to the Stars, was perhaps most known for being a staple of Toho’s Kaiju films, appearing in Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and, most recently, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.

Today we’re sad to report, via Toho Kingdom, that Yuriko Hoshi passed away this week after a battle with lung cancer. Hoshi, born in December 1943, was 74 years old.

(11) SUBSEQUENT ARRIVAL. Jeb Kinnison, after reading Filers’ comments, has added a few hundred words to his article “Why ‘Arrival’ is Bad Science Fiction”, linked here yesterday.

(12) DESTINATION MOON. “Aiming for the Moon, Literally: One Foundation’s Plan for a Lunar Library” – but who’ll be there to check it out?

The Arch Mission Foundation has plans to put the entirety of Wikipedia, among other things, into an elaborate microfiche archive, then send it to the moon. And it’s not even the first time they’ve done something like this.

Wikipedia it seems, is everywhere on Earth—on smartphones and dumb phones, in countries with great internet access and in places with less.  But on the moon? It’ll be there soon, too, thanks to a nonprofit group with a mission to share knowledge across time and space.

(13) TRESPASSERS WILL BE VIOLATED. The colors on these Roman stone slabs faded long ago, but scientists have figured out what they were: “Ancient Romans Painted Horrifying Blood-Red Warnings on Wall Across Scotland” at LiveScience.

Ancient Romans used blood red, bright yellow and stunning white paints to illustrate dire warnings on the wall that separated them from the rebellious tribespeople of Scotland, a new study shows.

The painted warnings — including Roman eagles with blood-stained beaks, and the slain and decapitated bodies of the defeated victims of the victorious Roman legions — were shown alongside Latin inscriptions on carved stone slabs placed along a Roman rampart in Scotland.

Archaeologist Louisa Campbell from the University of Glasgow says the carved and painted stone slabs would have served as “Roman propaganda” to local tribespeople north of the Antonine Wall, a fortified wall built across Scotland by the Roman legions during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius in the second century A.D.

(14) SCI-FI TRAILER. 2036 Origin Unknown with Katee Sackhoff – here’s the official trailer.

(15) ARCHIE MCPHEE. A cultural icon finally gets its due in the Rubber Chicken Museum.

If you make your way to our Seattle Archie McPhee store, you’re in for a treat. Last week we premiered our new Rubber Chicken Museum! You can see the world’s largest rubber chicken and the world’s smallest rubber chicken, as well as everything in between. Our museum is dedicated to the history, cultural zeitgeist and general hilariousness of the rubber chicken. It is a must see! Plus, you can also see our new “Room 6” collection of historical novelties. You’ll get your PhD in LOL!

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day J-grizz.]

138 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/20/18 I Know What You’re Thinking: Did He Scroll Six Pixels Or Only Five?

  1. @11: I wonder where he got the idea that his definition of science fiction is the only one? The notion that it should teach does date all the way back to Gernsback IIRC, but if people think Heinlein suffers in rereading they should glance (just glance, I’m not a sadist) at some of what he published.

    @Marshall Ryan Maresca: I think I noped out around the time the main female character was telling some story about a place where everyone is doing absurd feats of strength. IIRC, that was being done by the apparently-comic-relief character being comic relief (i.e., Rufo rather than Star). IMO, GR is interesting because it doesn’t fail as RAH’s older books do, on clunky tech; he tells you with the front quotation that he’s trying to be shocking, and the result became ho-hum rather quickly. (OTOH, that quote was one of the things that got me to try to read all of Shaw — and if you ever get a chance to see the recorded Caesar and Cleopatra with Christopher Plummer, do so.)

    @Xtifr: Norton’s ideas may stand up better than RAH’s — I suspect I’d be a worse person if I hadn’t read a chunk of Norton before getting to much RAH — but to me her writing style is painful to reread. Not sure why — too much tell, not enough show, maybe?

  2. Lee: I once discovered that one of my LiveJournal posts had been cited in a Pew Report

    RedWombat: a reporter in Louisiana… interviewed [me] for an article about our neighborhood nightmare crustaceans.

    Cora: I wound up getting interviewed on Canadian radio.

    I’m still inordinately chuffed that Tor.com included my article on Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis Universe and Impersonations in one of their weekly subscriber news e-mails. 😀

  3. @Lurkertype: “I want us to sing it at a Filer get-together. Maybe not the rot13 part. Aah, what the heck, we could all try to mumble it phonetically.”

    I did make a suggestion on how to handle the ROT13 section – over here. (And I take particular pride in the way I wedged your handle into the lyrics.)

    I’m starting to wonder if I should add another middle section, just to be able to recognize more Filers and in-jokes. It’d be longer than the original song, but so what?

  4. @Chip Hitchcock: Norton’s ideas may stand up better than RAH’s — I suspect I’d be a worse person if I hadn’t read a chunk of Norton before getting to much RAH — but to me her writing style is painful to reread. Not sure why — too much tell, not enough show, maybe?
    In my experience of rereading Norton that varies a lot from book to book. At her best her prose could be very evocative – but I often find myself wanting to take a red pencil to the page.

  5. My Norton of choice was The Crystal Gryphon but there was definitely a…stiffness? Maybe?…to the writing that wandered between evocative and weirdly stilted.

  6. We invent plausible FTL, stargates, ansibles, witty AIs, and transhumans because we want them to be real to enable an expanded future and we love stories that let our imagination live there.

    We do?

    Is that why we invent marauding alien armadas that destroy the major cities, kidnap the beautiful women and rule the world?

    [The world is ours; open the door.]

  7. @Kurt Busiek: Now, now. We can invent different things for different reasons. Though that probably is why we invent the marauding aliens, etc. 😉

    @Rev. Bob: I said over on the 5/21 Pixel Scroll, but super-mega bravo on the filk, and not just ‘cuz you included my name!

  8. I checked the box. I see it, yet no e-mail arrives. The item is “pending” in WordPress. ::confirm:: Well, just in case, I’m doing it again here!


  9. I’m struggling to put it all into words but I feel like the major difference between what Kinnison will hand-wave and what he thinks is bad SF in this case seems to be that the former are external, can be understood (if not necessarily re-created) and aid colonisation while the latter is internal, can’t be fully understood (even Amy Adams’ character has only an imperfect understanding) and saves us from our own stupidity rather than help us force our stupidity onto others.

  10. In the 60s I devoured them all–Heinlein, Norton, Clark, Bradbury. If the book spine had the rocketship/atom mark, I picked it up. Or this inside cover paper–
    And not just novels; my memory is telling me that there seemed to be a lot of anthologies and short story collections in the town library. And Boy’s Life magazine would have some from time to time.
    Surely I’m not the only one who buys books from my younger days but doesn’t re-read them in case I’ve out-grown the sense of wonder and adventure it gave me.
    Lester Del Rey’s “Step to the Stars” was an early read that I came across decades later (Hard Copy!!) in a used book store. I bought it because I remembered how much I enjoyed it but haven’t re-read it yet. Older me just wants to have it just because.
    Sometimes I buy them for the covers–my Winston Science Fiction ones, for example. Or for the art from the 50s hardbacks.
    50 years from now, there’ll be parents bemoaning that their off-spring just won’t read Harry Potter or Scalzi or Jemisin, no matter how hard they try.

  11. Harold Osler: And Boy’s Life magazine would have some from time to time.

    I was pleasantly surprised to discover later on that Boy’s Life contributor Winston P. Sanders was a pseud for Poul Anderson.

  12. @Kendall:

    takes a bow
    looks around furtively
    shoves bow under jacket
    dashes for the closest exit


  13. @Rev. Bob: You worked it in so well I didn’t even notice first time through!

    I think the singer could attempt to pronounce the rot13 version for a few words, then give up, glare, and hum or “dum de dum” for the rest of that chorus, possibly making “speed it up” hand motions, singing the final line with the rot26 lyrics, whatever.

  14. Harold: It took me forever to find “Step for the Stars” again as an adult – I kept confusing it with Clarke’s “Islands in the Sky” (another early one I loved as a teen: Ben Bova’s “The Star Conquerors”).

  15. Cora:

    The next day, I got a phone call (“Someone’s speaking English on the phone. Must be for you.”)

    This reminds me of when I was at university and shared a house with two German students. The very first German I learned was “Elfie (or Georg) ist nicht zu Hause.” for all those times I answered the phone to a spate of German.

  16. @Harold Osler:

    Surely I’m not the only one who buys books from my younger days but doesn’t re-read them in case I’ve out-grown the sense of wonder and adventure it gave me.

    My New England ancestors would rise out of their graves if I did that; if I buy, it goes on the to-{,re}read shelf. That means I’m stingy; I’ve looked at books and said “That was fun at age (14,12,10,…) but I’d hate to pay more than X for it now.” When Glen Cook was doing a large used-book space at many conventions, I got yards of books from him because they were likeably-priced; these days there’s so little left that I want that I sometimes just walk by those tables. (Not to mention that I’m having to condense in order to move to a more-accommodating space.) I do get occasional shocks from rereading — The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet turned out to have elementary-school levels of plotting and dialog — but I’ve come to terms with not being who I was (cf Sturgeon’s “Bulkhead”).

  17. (5) IIRC, Ms. Clarke suggested that the winning bidder was a friend/acquintance.

    [Link to her appearance on The Graham Norton Show above in case embedding the video below doesn’t work.]

    [ETA….didn’t work]

    Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

  18. Is Star Rangers/The Last Planet the one where the Patrol have adventures, and find the lost planet Terra at the end?

    My favourites were The Beast Master (and sequel, Lord of Thunder) and Night of Masks.

    I think every time Norton hit a wall, she threw in a flash flood to shake up the story.

  19. @Niall McAuley

    That’s the one! The galactic empire is falling and a broken down patrol ship discovers the legendary Terra. It opens with a prologue about about the Roman Legion sent to march to the end of the Earth.

    Loved Beast Master, too! I was VERY disappointed at the Marc Singer movie when I found out it wasn’t Norton based.

    And then the time patrol stories, and…

  20. @ Heather, re (2): Good point. It leads me to wonder whether the editor in question was male or female.

    This Forbes article may have a bearing on that video showing people who can’t name a book and talk about not reading. If you’ve never really learned how to read, you may be functionally literate, but you’re sure not going to read for pleasure.

  21. My apologies if this posts twice. My comment seems to have been eaten or somehow vanished into the ether. I hope that our host will feel free to delete the duplicate at his discretion.

    3) I’ve only got two Heinlein books under my belt, Starship Troopers, which I enjoyed in no small part because it required me to organize my thoughts about what I believe regarding the nature of rights and responsibilities in order to articulate why I so vehemently disagreed with that book, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which I loathed utterly and already had the tools to explain why. Neither book really gives me much desire to reader further. But I am interested in discussions around Heinlein’s role as an influence, because I have read comments from people outside North America (critics especially, but not exclusively) who claim he stopped being relevant to their corner of the field a generation ago at least, and was never the giant there that he is/was here. I came to his writing in my late ’20s, about ten years ago, and I have a hard time seeing him as influential on the work I want to produce or write about, beyond presenting me with a few things I want to avoid. That’s the way it goes, though: as a 12 year old I would have held up the Belgariad as great fun; today I will only read it if my emotional state is such that I need the guiltiest of retrograde pleasures to keep me afloat. We are not what we were, any of us.

    (As to Scalzi’s comments on the film adaptation of Starship Troopers: it is so clearly a satire of the book that I think it’s disingenuous for him to take the position he does, but, uh, “whatever”.)

    11) Here I am commenting only on the film Arrival; I have purchased the book that contains the story, but my stack hasn’t exactly shrunk in recent years and I’m currently trying to wade through Gravity’s Rainbow *and* an unexpected Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin re-read, and damnit there are only so many hours in a day.

    @Stephen Granade

    I’m quite fond of the Mundane SF movement, but not as a recipe for all of SF to follow. I feel like SF as a whole benefits from having a corner of the field very consciously adopt those priorities, however. In that spirit, I don’t think the comparison is quite apt.


    You make the point I was going to more elegantly than ever I could. Far from being anti-human, this was indeed the element that most displayed its humanity.

    My definition of “good fiction” is that it is not only entertaining, but enlightening — leaving the reader with greater understanding of the world and how it and societies within it work. Good science fiction imparts some extra scientific or technological knowledge, which if it includes novel science that might plausibly be discovered, at least is coherent with foundational principles and can be assigned some nonzero probability of actually being true.

    This is certainly a way to read fiction, but I’d argue a rather shallow one that limits its possibilities severely, and it kith and kin to arguments about “hardness” in science fiction, which I am quite resistant to as a metric for quality. I have no idea who this person in beyond this one blog post, so I don’t mean to impugn their character in any way, but there is a lot in this post that points to a kind of triumphantly colonial attitude, a techno-determinist version of might makes right. This isn’t so much optimism as obliviousness, and its opposite isn’t nihilism, it’s sober, humane, and ethical introspection (all of which are things the “fiction” part of “science fiction” are quite good at). I find it quite telling that he finds such introspection the opposite of his colonialist-flavoured definition of “progress”.

    There is no one “right” way to read or judge a work of literature, but I am not interested in adopting Kinnison’s way.

  22. Chip Hitchcock on May 21, 2018 at 8:30 pm said:

    @11: I wonder where he got the idea that his definition of science fiction is the only one? The notion that it should teach does date all the way back to Gernsback IIRC […]

    But of course, SF is older than Gernsback, even if he helped codify the genre as a genre (and contributed a name that resembles the one we use today).

    Wells and Verne (to pick a couple of obvious examples) clearly had other ideas than merely “teaching kids about science”. Wells, in particular, used the future to inform us about the present. The Time Machine, for example, is the classic “if this goes on…” story. It certainly wasn’t trying to teach us lessons about advanced physics.

    Maybe he doesn’t think Wells wrote actual science fiction. But in that case, he should be much more up-front about the fact that he’s using a definition of the term which bears only a slight resemblance to the common one. 🙂

  23. @Chip Hitchcock: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet doesn’t hold up??? Well, I do seem to recall it as a children’s book, not a juvenile/YA type. I usually shy away from trying to reread true children’s books, with an exception or two like the “Narnia” books, which I’ve re-read and (more recently) re-read via audiobook.

    (I cleared my subscription to this thread and am re-Godstalking!ing. Wish me luck. Not literally.)

  24. @August

    I’m thinking Heinlein’s influence was more that of inspiring a generation of readers and writers than anything. Stylistically I’m not sure he’s brought anything unique. Tropes and ideas he introduced are pretty well explored now. There are still at least some works in conversation with him but I’m not sure reading him as an absolute foundational must the way say Tolkien is to fantasy. Probably heresy but written by an unrepentant Heinlein fan.

  25. @Kendall: “P.S. @Rev. Bob: LOL 🙂 You’re on a roll.”

    Hmm. That would explain why my chair smells like bread…

  26. @August – The Starship Troopers movie was clearly meant as satire, but I don’t think it really dealt all that much with the text of the book itself and was more satirizing then-current American culture. Remember that Verhoeven famously didn’t bother to read the book, whatever he claims now.

  27. @RBob – Thank you, that’s wonderful

    @Everyone?/Wombat – I loved CS Friedman and the… crusade in a lost colony on an alien planet with nightmare creatures trilogy. But I only came upon that in high school after having an entire shelf of Heinleins left over from my uncles when I was 11-12. That was the perfect age for so much of his stuff, even though it was already well dated by then. “Why don’t you just use the log function in your calculator?”

  28. @anybody who read the Arrival short story – I only saw the movie. Am I missing something? I don’t remember them being able to see the future *because* of their language, I thought that their language was shaped by their ability so see the future. Note- I watched this movie in at least 2, maybe 3 chunks and may have not been paying attention.

  29. But if the language was shaped by the aliens’ precognition, why did learning it allow the human linguist to see the future when she never could before? I think both the story and the movie were pretty clear on that particular point.

  30. @Maximillian.

    If you haven’t read “Arrival” I highly recommend it. The collection it’s in contains a swag of other great stories.

    As for your question, I think it’s about language shaping thinking, (see Sapir-Whorf hypothesis), and in this case, it doesn’t only shape thinking but also confers the ability to experience time simultaneously.

  31. Anna Feruglio Del Dan:

    I am not sure writers write to entertain – I certainly don’t, exactly. I don’t mind entertaining, but mostly I write because I can’t help it.

    True. I should have thought about that part of my comment more. Perhaps “(if not be entertained by)” would be better.

  32. Re Arrival

    I thoughf the movie, far from nihilistic, to be particularly life affirming. I can’t quite square this philisophically, but I got the sense the heroine *chose* her fate at the end, despite knowledge of the future. She chose love, understanding in a way from more profound than the rest of humankind that the end result will be loss. Someone else already pointed out that human relationships always end in loss. Precognition adds so much extra poignancy to this. Yet still she chose to love and to give life. This for me is the core of the movie; the science is just a means to this end and it really doesn’t matter if it’s not entirely plausible.

  33. @Cliff Ramshaw–

    Yes, that’s very much how the movie affected me, choosing life and love even though loss is unavoidable.

  34. 3) Something Scalzi doesn’t say (leaving it as an exercise for the reader, no doubt) is that few if any of Heinlein’s contemporaries are particular influences today either.

    Or so it seems to me. Are any of Heinlein’s generation particularly influential any more? Are they influential for writing? For editing and publishing? For criticism?

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