Pixel Scroll 5/20/22 With Great Pixels Come Great Scrolls

(1) AUTHORS SEND CONGRESS LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANNING. We Need Diverse Books reports on the “Letter from 1,300 Children’s and YA Authors on Book Banning” sent to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties this week.

…The letter was drafted by two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Christina Soontornvat, who was informed by a Texas school that they could not invite her to speak to students because they feared that conservative parents in their district would object to her living in a liberal city (Soontornvat resides in Austin). Alarmed by this decision and by the hateful rhetoric that has accompanied the growing list of banned books, Soontornvat decided to organize with other authors and develop a call for action….

In it, the authors condemned “the current wave of book suppression that specifically targets titles by creators who are LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”

The signers include Dhonielle Clayton, Rick Riordan, Jacqueline Woodson, John Green, Raina Telgemeier, Malinda Lo, Alex Segura, Greg van Eekhout, Cecil Castellucci, Fran Wilde, Mark Oshiro, Stephanie Burgis, and Leigh Bardugo. The letter reads in part —

…This current wave of book suppression follows hard-won gains made by authors whose voices have long been underrepresented in publishing. Just ten years ago, less than seven percent of children’s books featured characters who were Black, Indigenous, or people of color (source: Cooperative Children’s Book Center). Representation is finally increasing thanks to the work of groups like We Need Diverse Books. The current banning efforts are part of a strong and purposeful backlash against books written by BIPOC authors. Books with characters who are LGBTQIA+ have been vehemently targeted and frequently misrepresented.

When books are removed or flagged as inappropriate, it sends the message that the people in them are somehow inappropriate. It is a dehumanizing form of erasure. Every reader deserves to see themselves and their families positively represented in the books in their schools. These books are important for all children. Reading stories that reflect the diversity of our world builds empathy and respect for everyone’s humanity. At a time when our country is experiencing an alarming rise in hate crimes, we should be searching for ways to increase empathy and compassion at every turn.

A particularly insidious feature of the current attacks is the flood of accusations that anyone who seeks to give readers access to diverse books is a “groomer,” “radical,” or “pedophile.” These charges are abhorrent and without merit, and they have been leveled against not only authors, but against teachers and librarians. We strongly condemn this slander against our colleagues and our nation’s educators.

A book may not be for every student, but—as we know from the many letters we receive from young readers—a single book can matter deeply to an individual student. Nearly all campuses have an existing system to handle a parent’s concern with their own child’s reading material. Pro-censorship groups seek to overwhelm these systems by pressuring schools to pull entire lists of books from shelves “for review.” Some extremists have intimidated authors, educators, and school board members online and even threatened them with violence. This has created an atmosphere of fear that has led to “soft censorship” in many districts. Books are quietly removed or never purchased at all. Authors are never invited to speak, for fear of drawing the wrath of these groups.

Libraries are bastions of the First Amendment. They provide equal access to a wealth of knowledge and ideas for all public school students. When individuals and organizations seek to advance their own political agendas or personal beliefs by censoring books, they infringe upon students’ constitutional rights.

We call upon Congress, statehouses, and school boards to reject the political manipulation of our schools, to uphold the values of freedom and equality promised in the Constitution, and to protect the rights of all young people to access the books they need and deserve.

(2) SLOW DJINN. Camestros Felapton continues his exploration of the finalists with “Hugo 2022 Novel: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark”.

…From a Hugo perspective, there is an obvious comparison to be made with the 2021 Best Novel winner Network Effect, the novel-length Murderbot story. Although quite different genres, both novels are sequels to a successful set of novellas that have received consistent Hugo attention. Both novels are longer stories with established characters that deliver on the qualities that people admired in the earlier works….

(3) ABOUT YOUR DARLINGS. Marissa Lingen mentors writers in “From Panic to Process: What Taking Criticism Actually Means” in Uncanny Magazine.

…. For me any piece of critique, large or small, can raise two questions about a work. First, how does it bring this work into better alignment with what it was intended to be doing? Second, if it challenges or reshapes those intentions, does it do so in a good way? The former question sounds grandiose when applied to small tasks like removing vague or repetitive language, but specificity helps convey your vision. Whether they change punctuation or add entirely new characters and subplots, revisions should have some method for bringing the work closer to its originating vision.

I think the latter question is often neglected because there is a common idea that only the creator can conceive of an artistic vision, which should remain pure and untrammeled. And this is true up to a point. But it is also true that sometimes it is not the execution but the concept itself that can benefit from critique. Those cases are the exception to the rule that revision should bring works closer to their original intention—rather, the entire vision for the work can be improved….

(4) IT’S BAD. Vogon Poetry Slam 2022 will be livestreamed May 25 beginning at 11:00 a.m. Pacific. Register for the free event at Eventbrite.

For the second year running, the Vogon Slam has hacked into Deep Thought and is back to take over your computer for a night of vintage Vogon poetry!

WORST POET WINS! The Vogon Poetry Slam is part tribute to Douglas Adams, part geek-out, and part release valve for the occasional stinker that all creatives occasionally make. Come, hoopy froods, for a night of nerding, gnashing of teeth, and tortuously bad poetry.

We also have:

– Bureaucracy!

– A communal reading of Paul Neil Milne’s “Dead Swans” poem (the worst poem in the universe!)

– Our special guest, the Ambassador of the Azgoths of Kria

– A feature set from reigning Vogon Poetry Slam Champion (and actual real-life good poet) Tim Kiely!

(5) GONE TO HECK. “Hugh Jackman makes his Simpsons debut singing about middle class decline” with an intro by Entertainment Weekly.

The Simpsons has been running so long (the season 33 finale airs this Sunday) that some elements of its basic premise no longer track in the modern economic context. Modern viewers might very well wonder how an oaf like Homer (Dan Castellanata) can afford a house and car on a single income. Well, don’t worry: Hugh Jackman shows up in the upcoming season finale to explain the history of the American middle class — in song, of course! 

… In the episode, Jackman voices a janitor at the nuclear power plant where Homer works. Bart (Nancy Cartwright) has accompanied his father to the job site, where the janitor explains how the post-World War II era brought prosperity to the American middle class that allowed people like Homer to succeed despite their failings. But then “gradually, it all went to hell,” as Jackman sings.

(6) YOU’LL HAVE TO PAY A BOUNTY FOR THIS ONE. “A Boba Fett Watch Costs $120,000 Redefining Star Wars Items” is Gizmodo’s jaw-dropping headline.

…io9 is filled with writers and readers who are wild about Star Wars, but do any of us know someone who could throw down $120,000 on a Star Wars watch?

A company called Kross Studio hopes there are at least 10 of those people out there. It’s created a super high-end, super limited-edition watch inspired by Boba Fett and the recently renamed Boba Fett’s Starship. Composed of 220 parts, one of which is a one-of-a-kind, handmade mini-replica of Boba Fett’s Starship that takes 90 hours to make (each!), the watch has to be seen to be believed. So here are some images….

The photos come from the Kross Studio website: Boba Fett™ Collector Set.

One of the most enigmatic characters in the Star Wars galaxy has inspired Kross Studio’s latest creation, in collaboration with Lucasfilm. The Swiss design studio is proud to reveal a new and limited edition of ten Boba Fett™-inspired collector sets, each complete with a numbered, manual wound Boba Fett™-inspired central Tourbillon timepiece and a watch display by EFX, inspired by Boba Fett™’s famed starship.


1997 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-five years ago this evening, The Burning Zone series ended its brief run. It lasted but nineteen episodes on UPN (the United Paramount Network) and has had never been released on DVD or Blu-ray, nor licensed to an online streaming service. I’m trying to remember if it showed up on the dumping ground of genre series, Syfy, but I’m not certain it did.

It was created by Coleluck who had previously done the same with Otherworld, which I’ve never heard of, and M.A,N.T.I.S. that I’ve seen. He also did The Equalizer. (He’d write six episodes here.) He executive produced the series along with James Duff McAdams, Carleton Eastlake and Rob Gilmer. McAdams was involved on The Equalizer and M.A,N.T.I.S., Eastlake on SeaQuest DSV and Earth: Final Conflict and Gilmeron Relic Hunter and Knight Rider.

The series was the only drama ordered by UPN for the season that it was on. Everything else was a comedy including the Homeboys in Outer Space series which, yes, was genre.

Think Andromeda Strain crossed with X-Files. And not well done at that. Really I’m not kidding. So how was the reception? Some liked it, some didn’t.

Bret Watson at Entertainment Weekly said of the two genre series at UPN that “The subsequent Homeboys in Outer Space and the sci-fi schlock-fest The Burning Zone, however, have all but crashed and burned” 

Caryn James of the New York Times thought it was fine for what it was: “The idea is ‘Outbreak’ meets ‘The X-Files,’ and everyone involved in ‘The Burning Zone’ keeps a straight face. But the show’s greatest appeal is to more specialized, cultish taste; intentionally or not, it offers the loopy delights of a cut-rate, over-the-top horror movie.” 

It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes which is not surprising given it has largely if not completely been absent for viewing over the last quarter of a century. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 20, 1911 Gardner F Fox. Writer for DC comics and other companies as well. He was prolific enough that historians of the field estimate he wrote more than four thousand comics stories, including fifteen hundred for just DC Comics. For DC, he created The Flash, Adam Strange and The Atom, plus the Justice Society of America. His first SF novel was Escape Across the Cosmos though he wrote a tie-in novel, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, previously. (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 20, 1928 Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 94. Author of the Joe Grey series of mysteries. Its narrator is a feline who speaks and who solves mysteries which is definitely genre. Excellent series which gets better in characterization as it goes along. And the audiobooks as narrated by Susan Boyce are a great deal of fun listening. She also did some more traditional genre fiction, none of which I’ve read in the Children of Ynell series and the Dragonbard trilogy. 
  • Born May 20, 1936 Anthony Zerbe, 86. Zerbe played the major role of Matthias, the news anchor turned mutant albino cult leader determined to kill Charlton Heston’s Richard Neville in The Omega Man, the loosely-adapated 1971 film version of Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend. He  was the villain Milton Krest in the Licence to Kill bond film;  Roger Stuart in Steven King’s The Dead Zone; Admiral Dougherty in Star Trek: Insurrection; and Councillor Hamann in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Series wise, he showed up on the Wild, Wild West and five episodes of Mission: Impossible as five different characters, he was Dr. Charles Napier on the Asteroid series on NBC in 1997 that I never heard of. 
  • Born May 20, 1940 Joan Staley. She showed up twice as Okie Annie on Batman in “It’s How You Play the Game” and “Come Back, Shame“. She played Ginny in Mission Impossible’s two-parter, “The Council”, and she was in Prehistoric Valley (Dinosaurs! Caveman! Playboy mates in bikinis!) She also played Fiona in Brigadoon which has to be genre, isn’t it? (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 20, 1946 Cher, 76. Yes she was Alexandra Medford in The Witches of Eastwick, a film that I absolutely love and adore, (and no I’ve not read the novel) which is really her only genre credit. She did appear as Romana on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair” and she’s voicing herself in The New Scooby-Doo Movies which despite the name was actually a series, but that’s it. 
  • Born May 20, 1951 Steve Jackson, 71. The UK game designer (not to be confused with the owner of Steve Jackson Games). With Ian Livingstone, he founded Games Workshop and also the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, the two most dominant aspects of the UK games industry before it came to be essentially wiped by the advent of videogames. I’m fairly sure the only one of his works that I’ve played is Starship Traveller which I’d have been playing around the same time as Traveller.
  • Born May 20, 1961 Owen Teale, 61. Best known role is as Alliser Thorne on the just-concluded Game of Thrones. He also was Will Scarlet in the superb Robin Hood where the lead role was performed by Patrick Bergin, he played the theologian Pelagius in 2004 King Arthur, was Vatrenus in yet another riff on Arthurian myth called The Last Legion, was Maldak in the “Vengeance on Varos” episode in the Era of the Sixth Doctor, and was Evan Sherman in the “Countrycide” episode of Torchwood. He’s currently playing Peter Knox in A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, named after the first book in the trilogy. I read most if not all of that series and it’s quite excellent. Keeping with my firm belief of never watching a series based on fiction that I really, really liked, I have not seen the series. 
  • Born May 20, 1968 Timothy Olyphant, 54. He’s been cast in the second season of The Mandalorian where he might be Sheriff Cobb Vanth which in turn would mean he’d be wearing Bobo Fett’s salvaged armor. And he was Sheriff Seth Bullock in the Deadwood franchise which must be at least genre adjacent given the great love of it by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Or not. 


(10) STRANGE NEW WORLDS CAST Q&A. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] The Hollywood Reporter is publishing a series of interviews with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds actors.

I so appreciate that, right off the bat, the series deals with Spock’s exploration of his inner turmoil and conflict — trying to find his true self, as opposed to who he thinks others want him to be. You’re really pulling double duty at times in that battle.

Absolutely. I’ve been really fortunate with the level of nuance they’ve given to me in the writing. It’s also been very scary. This is such a precious character, not just to the fans, but to me. And like I said, one of the gifts of the episodic format is that every episode’s a new adventure, not knowing what Spock is going to be doing. So I feel like I’m constantly kind of searching for the character and understanding the inner details, which again is a gift.

Spock wants to be accepted by Vulcan, by his people whom he’s grown up with, but he has never been accepted because he’s half human. This is a struggle that exists on our planet, and I may not be the best representative of that, but we have amazing writers who do experience that today. I know that they contribute quite heavily to Spock’s life in that way. His human side is undeniable. He must explore it. And I think eventually his understanding of his humanness is what makes him who he will become later in the Original Series. His emotional side draws in valuable information that he can use in his problem-solving. He’s a beautiful person to be portraying and to be discovered.

What does Broadway represent to you?

Broadway has been a haven for me since I was a little girl. The opportunity to leave my troubles backstage and be whisked away to a completely different world was everything to me, especially growing up as a young Black person in predominantly white institutions. Of course, as I grew up, I learned that the things I was trying to escape are inescapable, but live theater still was a means of escape to me.

When you were auditioning for the role of Uhura, what attracted you to the character?

Fun fact, actually: I didn’t know that I was auditioning for the role of Uhura until after I booked it. Casting went about it in a very interesting way, and I think they actually gave me a bit of grace because I auditioned under a pseudonym. But her character description really got to me: She was described as a bright, young prodigy who is deciding whether or not the place that she’s in is where she wants to be right now. And as someone who is very young in this industry and is still figuring out what my explicit goal and dream is in this life, I found that a lot of her story and a lot of her mentality mirrored mine — in a different industry.

I’m glad that you talked about diving into the character. He’s so mythic in Star Trek lore. Were you given a backstory to help you develop the character, or did you develop your backstory, or was it all canon?

April was Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch back in 1964 to CBS for the captain role, but he was changed to Capt. Pike later when NBC accepted it. That was cool to discover. And then, in the 1974 animated series, he was really introduced in “The Counter-Clock Incident.” So, it’s cool how it all came together.  I’m learning a lot. I grew up a big sci-fi fan.

A friend of mine is friends with LeVar Burton, and LeVar was so kind. He sent me a video welcoming me to the franchise, and I was just so moved by his generosity. He basically said, “Welcome. We are family, and we’re just proud to have you.” He said that when Gene set out to make Star Trek, he knew that as human beings, we could get our shit together. And if we were to become a space-faring civilization, we had to solve the problems that lie in here now. That is the core of Star Trek‘s ethos. It’s about us all working together to build a better future.

The uniforms appear to be different from those on Discovery. They look more comfortable even. How were they changed for Strange New Worlds

The uniforms are a world of difference from the Discovery uniforms. (Laughs.) They’re a lot more forgiving, they fall more naturally, and there are fewer zippers involved. They are more of a throwback.

The sets are just incredible. Working on those had to make you feel like a kid in a candy store, fair to say? 

Jonathan Lee did a phenomenal job as our production designer. I feel like he really accomplished a lot of different goals, balancing a lot of different elements. You want something that pays attention to canon and is a homage to the past and yet accomplishes the scale of television today. And he then retains a very specific mid-century modern look from the 1960s. There are some pieces that you might find in a super upscale version of Macy’s in 1967. It retains that cool ’60s vibe, but in an updated way, which I really dig.

(11) BOEING BACK IN THE SPACE RACE. “Boeing successfully launches Starliner spacecraft to orbit in do-over test flight”The Verge supplies details of the May 19 flight.  

Nearly two and a half years after its first launch didn’t go to plan, Boeing’s new passenger spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner, successfully launched to space this afternoon, reaching the right orbit it needed to achieve to rendezvous with the International Space Station tomorrow evening. The successful launch marks the beginning of a crucial test flight for Starliner that will play out over the next week in space, one that will help demonstrate if the capsule is capable of carrying humans to space one day.

Starliner is a private spacecraft that Boeing developed in partnership with NASA, primarily to help transport the agency’s astronauts to and from the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. The capsule is one of two vehicles, along with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, that NASA helped to fund in order to transition space transportation from the government to commercial companies. But before NASA’s astronauts can ride Starliner, the space agency wants Boeing to demonstrate the capsule can perform all of the tasks of a normal spaceflight mission without a crew on board.

(12) LOST THEIR SHIRT. H&I has another little anecdote that explains “The Redshirt Massacre: What Really Went Down In The Enterprise Laundry Room”. Click and learn!

(13) A MARTIAN ODYSSEY. The For All Mankind Official Season 3 trailer.

In season three, the Red Planet becomes the new frontier in the Space Race not only for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but also an unexpected new entrant with a lot to prove and even more at stake. Our characters find themselves going head-to-head as their ambitions for Mars come into conflict and their loyalties are tested, creating a pressure cooker that builds to a climactic conclusion.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Chrono Cross,” Fandom Games says this is a classic “only because people have been arguing about it for 20 years.” You fight with a “battle toothpick” that’s a cross between , “a pole, a Q-tip, and that thing they fought with in American Gladiators.”  But how many games have a talking mushroom named “Funguy?”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/20/22 With Great Pixels Come Great Scrolls

  1. 7) Burning Zone.

    Our masquerade entry at Chicon 2000 was based on the first episode of the Burning Zone: an intelligent virus which once ruled the Earth, locked away and about to be freed.

    I won us our 3rd Worldcon Best in Show.

  2. Andrew (not Werdna) says Hey! I got a notification! Scrolling Frequencies are Open!

    Oh great. Now you’ll have time to work on your McKillip essay for Green Man now that you don’t have to worry about when the new Scroll is showing up. Just kidding.

    Now reading Lavie Tidar’s Neom, the sort of sequel to Central Station which was wonderful and this has the potential to be just as wonderful as well.

  3. (8) Anthony Zerbe, 86. He was in the film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend in the minor role as Irish Catholic coal miner.

    Say what? Zerbe played the major role of Matthias, the news anchor turned mutant albino cult leader determined to kill Charlton Heston’s Richard Neville in The Omega Man, the loose 1971 film version of Matheson’s novel.

  4. I got a notification!

    (8) I’ve been in a rare mood for cozies, so I’ll look for the Shirley Rousseau Murphy series. I had the first one in paperback, but it ran away from me. I wonder if this was the first mystery with a sentient cat? If not, it was certainly one of the pioneers.

    Gardner F Fox wrote some sword & sorcery novels — the Kothar series and he Kyrik series. Has anyone read them? I know I’ve seen mixed reviews about the Kothar books.

  5. PhilRm says Say what? Zerbe played the major role of Matthias, the news anchor turned mutant albino cult leader determined to kill Charlton Heston’s Richard Neville in The Omega Man, the loose 1971 film version of Matheson’s novel.

    Don’t blame me, blame the sources I used as in ever saw the film. I’ll now have OGH correct it.

  6. As you’ve commented, a notification went out for tonight’s Scroll — even though customer support hasn’t started working on the problem yet.

  7. Anne Marble asks I’ve been in a rare mood for cozies, so I’ll look for the Shirley Rousseau Murphy series. I had the first one in paperback, but it ran away from me. I wonder if this was the first mystery with a sentient cat? If not, it was certainly one of the pioneers.

    Rita Mae Brown’s Sneaky Pie Brown series has Mrs. Murphy, a sentient grey tiger cat and those novels predate Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s work by seven years. There may be older series featuring such cats but I’ve not heard of them.

  8. Olyphant was also Agent 47 in the Hitman movie, which is kind of genre adjacent since he is supposedly a clone who has been genetically engineered. He was also in The Good Place, ostensibly as himself.

  9. I read at least one of Gardner Fox’s novels – I’m too lazy to go downstairs and find it in my library, but I think if was an sf one… and I liked it, a lot. I remember liking his people, and the way the story ran. If anyone really wants, I’ll leave up this pixel scroll, and go down tomorrow.

  10. Joan Staley was also Don Knott’s love interest in his best film: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, story and first draft by Andy Griffith, uncredited.

  11. I read Gardner Fox’s two Llarn novels, which were decent enough sword & planet adventures. I also read his Niall of the Far Travels, a collection of sword & sorcery short stories, amongst the last things he wrote, which were originally published in Dragon Magazine; again, pretty solid entertainment.

  12. Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who… mysteries were originally started in 1966 and restarted in 1986, but these cats may or may not be the cats you’re looking for.

  13. (8) I own and have read “Warrior of Learn”, the 1964 Ace paperback by Gardner F. Fox. It does have a nice cover and interior illustration by Frank Frazetta, which is really cool! I don’t remember what the book was about, but I assume it was outer space sword and sorcery. I assume it survived the Great Cull of my library a few years back due to the Frazetta cover. Gardner F. Fox sounds like an interesting guy. In addition to the comic books, ISFDB notes him with a lot of pseudonyms. He did a lot of series books, sometimes with pseudonyms. There were several titles on ISFDB from a series entitled “Lady from L.U.S.T.”, featuring the “sexiest spy in the world.” I can’t tell if this was porn or a spy satire.

  14. (8) And Timothy Olyphant also co-starred in the delightfully hysterical Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix, with Drew Barrymore playing his undead wife. If you haven’t seen its abbreviated 3 seasons (thanks for your daft cancellation policies, Netflix), check it out, it’s brilliant.

  15. Timothy Olyphant was also in THE SANTA CLARITA DIET (2017-2019), which is decidedly genre, and which by coincidence I watched the first episode of tonight. (It’s been on my Netflix watchlist for a while….) Quite a lot of fun.

  16. Mere moment: John Brunner’s The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon is available from Kindle for a buck ninety nine. How many other genre novels involve chess as a plot device?

  17. Dave Hook asks There were several titles on ISFDB from a series entitled “Lady from L.U.S.T.”, featuring the “sexiest spy in the world.” I can’t tell if this was porn or a spy satire.

    The series is very much a spy series satire or perhaps parody as you can read a chapter here. I haven’t read them so I don’t know how seriously to take the mature content label here.

  18. Gardner Fox’s “Kothar” books came out in dirt-cheap electronic editions…. so I read them. And reviewed them here and here (and I really must move this stuff off LiveJournal before Putin finally pulls the plug on it.)

    (TL;DR – I wasn’t impressed.)

  19. Another Meredith Moment. Fireflood: And Other Stories by Vonda N. McIntyre is $1.99.

    @Steve Wright
    I have that edition, too. Cheapskates unite!
    Kothar’s magic sword Frostfire sounds like Kothar is on the bottom echelon an MLM company. And now I’m going to envision Kother trying to sell LuLaRoe tights…

  20. Cat
    “How many other genre novels involve chess as a plot device?”

    I can think of a bunch of short stories (Zelazny’s Unicorn Variations just being one of them) but chess in novels is rarer. It’s in Pebble in the Sky as a intelligence test, I remember.

  21. @ Cat Eldridge

    Your comment reminds me of Melissa Scott’s Burning Bright, where a role-playing game is used within the novel as a plot device. Often RPGs are used in genre novels to start or maybe frame the action (Gamers end up in fantastic worlds, etc.) but rarely is an actual RPG played within the novel itself. Only other case I can think of is the ongoing RPG played in the Dresden Files, but Jim Butcher glosses over the in-RPG action.

  22. @rob Mike Underwood’s Geekomancy, also has RPGs within the text of the novel itself.
    Also John Ford’s Scholars of Night has wargaming within the game, and so does his incomplete and now released Aspects.

  23. 8) Steve Jackson:

    Games Workshop itself is still going very strong, with quite a few high-street shops. They abandoned the general gaming market in 1986 to concentrate more or less entirely on Warhammer and its extraordinarily profitable associated line of miniatures, which are huge sellers over here although I personally have never understood the appeal.


  24. I can think of novels that are at least chess-adjacent — Burroughs’ Chessmen of Mars, obviously. (And ERB is playing actual Earth chess in the framing story.) And Cosmic Checkmate (half of an old Ace double) by Charles De Vet and Katherine MacLean features a game that’s kind of chessish.

    Oh, and Alice Through the Looking Glass! And possibly George MacDonald’s Phantastes? Although I’d have to revisit that to confirm or deny.

  25. I am surprised to see so many comments on the various birthday honorees, while nobody commented on the Pixel lead

    AUTHORS SEND CONGRESS LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANNING. We Need Diverse Books reports on the “Letter from 1,300 Children’s and YA Authors on Book Banning” sent to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties this week.

    Or maybe everybody was already so entirely behind this that they felt no need to comment. And it IS self-evident. Book banning is just plain evil. So I will just say I am so glad that actual legal attention has been sought out for this critical issue.

    (BTW Timothy Olyphant is also in Justified–not exactly genre unless you count crime drama, but it’s a surprisingly good show.)

  26. michaele: I binge-watched all the seasons of Justified a couple years ago — Walton Goggins was such an amazing foil, with all his character evolutions.

  27. There’s a Games Workshop store across from the local Mall, or at least there was three years ago which was the the last time I was out there before I had my serious knee injury and got banned from doing walks by my PCP, and I must say it was a delightfully weird affair.

    I’ve never seen that many miniatures in one places. The staff was great and I had a very interesting chat with them. I bought one miniature.

    Someday I must listen to a Warhammer audiobook. There’s at least two police procedural ones now.

  28. Justified is a fantastic modern TV western and realization of the Elmore Leonard fictional universe. Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder is the best in an amazing gallery of villains and reprobates in the town of You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive, Kentucky. I also loved Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies) and Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman). Both actors played Charles Manson in other projects.

  29. rcade: “Both actors played Charles Manson in other projects.”

    That totally makes sense!

  30. @ Cat Eldridge

    Actually, Ian Watson inaugurated Warhammer 40k fiction with his Inquisitor War trilogy (which I enjoyed thoroughly). It is space opera with an unusual old school Gothic feel. The trilogy reminded me of Poe and M. John Harrison’s Viriconium. Since the Watson novels were first, they are far away from the 40K canon (which is still evolving itself).

  31. Gardner Fox: I have two Kothar novels, and Escape Across the Universe (IIRC), and that’s the one I rather liked.

    Lady from LUST? Sexier than, say, Modesty Blaise?

  32. (8) Olyphant is good in everything. But the paragraph about his role in “Boba Fett” needs massive updating; it’s the same as last year’s. He’s been in Mando AND Boba’s shows, and got his very own post-credit scene.

    (10) This is the only new incarnation of ST I’m interested in. Not enough to get Paramount Plus, but I will watch it sometime.

    (12) After 50+ years, this is a factoid I’ve never heard! I’m one of the lucky 10K today.

    I also think “The Cat Who…” series is the first cozy cat mystery where the cats do stuff (though the stoopid hooman usually only realizes in retrospect).

    I’m partial to the “Midnight Louie” series by Carole Nelson Douglas. They go a little beyond “cozy”, violence-wise, but Louie’s narration is delightful (all the books are from his POV, third cat singular).

    There’s a Games Workshop near me in one of those sprawling conglomerations of outdoor mall. Or there was in the Before Times; it’s at the opposite end from the stores I usually go to there, so I don’t see it much — gotta be over 1/4 mile away.

    @Pierre: Unfortunately, the PTB on “Burning Zone” went with the “Noah’s Flood was totes basically true!”, and were formally, legally complained about by a Jewish employee who couldn’t handle all the overwhelming Christian proselytizing that went on in the office, being treated as lesser for not doing the Jesus thing, and scolded for wanting time off to observe Jewish holidays. They came really close to filing a civil rights lawsuit, though it was settled through internal studio/union procedures (which I don’t know — I’m guessing there was an NDA). Not cool, man.

    Have we all had our 4th Covid shot, I hope? Now that everyone’s decided to go without masks, it’s needed. I ran a ton of errands yesterday and MAYBE 10% had any kind of mask on. Grrrrr.

  33. Ian Watson had a novel called Queenmagic, Kingmagic in which there are “board game worlds” a little bit like the holiday worlds from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Two pieces from a game of chess that is ending escape the game and go through some of the other board game worlds.

  34. David Goldfarb says Ian Watson had a novel called Queenmagic, Kingmagic in which there are “board game worlds” a little bit like the holiday worlds from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Two pieces from a game of chess that is ending escape the game and go through some of the other board game worlds.

    And Queenmagic, Kingmagic is a Meredith moment as it is available from the usual suspects for a mere two dollars and ninety nine cents.

  35. @ Cat Eldridge

    While searching for Queensmagic, Kingsmagic, I discovered that a huge chunk of Ian Watson’s ebook oeuvre is between $1.99 and $4.99 on Amazon. I will probably go to town, alas.

  36. Chess is mentioned under its proper, Klingon, name of fed zha in Ford’s The Final Reflection. (I used to wish someone would instantiate klin zha and rom zha, but later in life I realized it was best if no one ever did; the undefinite is more evocative than anyone could ever realize in a product.)

  37. John Brunner said that he had always admired “Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ but it bothered him that the chess game in the book was not a very good one. He also talked about how the futuristic dream city, Brasilia, had not taken into account the people who had to move there to build it. All that lead him to write “The Squares of the City,” which is not his best novel.

    As for chess in science fiction: surely “The Fairy Chessmen,” by Henry Kuttner, has to be the most famous instance, even though it is fairy chess, a variant. In the 60s, before the onslaught of the many other games, there was quite an interest in it. I remember one variant in which the Queen piece was called “The Sly Withdrawer,” which captured by moving away from its target piece.

    As for censorship: there can be a positive use of censorship, and maybe about time it was used. I have a Tumblr account, and I have taken to simply not re-posting any thing by or about people who hope to gain notoriety by means of hatefulness. That usually means cartoons lampooning them as well, funny as they might be. My aim is to erase (as the bigots work so hard to erase those they disagree with) as much of the ‘bad stuff’ as I can. No more pictures of people I consider contemptible, no more reportage of their heinous activities. And no more laudatory material about those who have done more harm to Humanity (and the rest of the environment) than good. Goodbye Napoleon, Hello Walter Reed. Goodbye Adolf Hitler, Hello Jonas Salk.

    Its not exactly a Pollyanna approach, but I am really tired of needing hip waders to open my computer so that I can slog through all the shit.

  38. @Jon DeCles

    John Brunner said that he had always admired “Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ but it bothered him that the chess game in the book was not a very good one.

    I could swear one of the characters in Wilmar Shiras’ story “In Hiding” expressed exactly the same opinion about “Through the Looking Glass”, though I can’t look it up right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.