Pixel Scroll 5/20/24 A Pixel Of Earthscroll

(1) ENTER WORLDWIDE AWARD FOR SFF SERIES. The Sara Douglass Book Series Award is accepting entries through September 30, 2024. The Sara Douglass Book Series Award is administered through the Aurealis Awards but is a separate, special award conferred during the ceremony (like the Convenors’ Award for Excellence).

This year, the Sara covers series ending (in original publication anywhere in the world) between January 2021 and December 2023. Full details at the link.


  • For the purpose of the Sara Douglass Book Series Award, a “series” is defined as a continuing ongoing story told through two or more books, which must be considered as ending in one of the years covered by the judging period.
  • This award is to recognise that there are book series that are greater as a whole than the sum of their parts – that is, the judges are looking for a series that tells a story across the series, not one that just uses the same characters/setting across loosely connected books. It is anticipated that shortlisted works will be best enjoyed read in succession, with an arc that begins in the first book and is completed in the last.
  • The series may be in any speculative genre within the extended bounds of science fiction, fantasy or horror (that is, if a book would be considered on an individual basis for one of the novel, or possibly novella, categories in the Aurealis Awards, the series may be considered here).

(2) MCINTYRE’S PIONEERING. Geekwire’s Alan Boyle tells “How science-fiction writer Vonda McIntyre blazed a trail for diversity”.

…[Una] McCormack argues that McIntyre’s writings weren’t just about feminism. “She was extremely ahead of the curve in the representation of disability, or ‘other-bodied-ness,’” McCormack says. “In ‘The Exile Waiting’ [McIntyre’s first novel], we see a huge diversity of shape and form that humanity can take. So I think she’s ahead of the curve on a lot of things.”…

“Little Sisters and Other Stories” by Vonda N. McIntyre is set for release on May 21. Clarion West is presenting “The Roots and Future of Feminist Science Fiction,” a free virtual panel discussion focusing on McIntyre’s work and other major influences on the genre, at 11 a.m. PT on Saturday, June 8. In addition to [Una] McCormack, the panelists include Nicola Griffith, SJ Groenewegen and Nisi Shawl. Advance registration is recommended.

(3) DRAGON DO OVER. “’It came as great satisfaction to me’: George R.R. Martin Was Over the Moon With How House of the Dragon Redeemed 1 of the Most Egregious Game of Thrones Mistakes” at Fandomwire.

…He had some valid reservations about the dragons’ portrayal in the original show, which he believed improved in the prequel series, House of the Dragon. According to Martin, Game of Thrones’ dragons lacked “personality” and were all too similar to one another. 

… In House of the Dragon, viewers are introduced to a whole new array of dragons as companions to the Targaryen family, each with their own unique traits and quirks. Thus, this gave the creators of the Game of Thrones prequel a good opportunity to improve their creature effects this time….

(4) UNION EFFORTS SCORE VICTORY. “Disneyland Character Workers at California Park Vote to Unionize” reports the New York Times. “The vote determined whether 1,700 workers who play characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and who dance at parades could join the union representing other workers at the park in Anaheim, Calif.” Most of the resort’s work force was already unionized.

… The Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers, said it had exceeded the threshold it needed in a vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, winning a 79 percent majority with 953 yes votes and 258 no votes, according to a statement.

Among the key issues that brought workers together to fight for representation in future negotiations with the company were securing improvements in safety and scheduling and demanding “a living wage,” as well as other workplace benefits, the union said….

(5) TORGERSEN CRITICIZES SANDERSON. [Item by Kevin Lang.] Brad Torgersen decided to publicly attack Brandon Sanderson on both Twitter and his Facebook page over perceived religious differences involving the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS). Both instances are still publicly viewable.

Camestros Felapton has a roundup: “Torgersen v Sanderson”. It includes this X.com post by Torgersen:

So, according to Brandon Sanderson’s own web site, he’s signed on with Wokeness, vs. the official gospel principles of the LDS church. As expressed in documents like the Proclamation on the Family. Even though Brandon professes to be an LDS member in good standing. This is something the church is really gonna have to decide what to do about: these multiplying numbers of LDS Utah artists especially, who’re publicly proclaiming their support for politics and social causes which are in direct conflict with church doctrine. Either the church just keeps ignoring it, or a whole bunch of people are going to wind up being excommunicated. I honestly have no idea which way the church will go. I know which way they should go. But will it happen? Lately, I have my doubts. Too many people far too in love with being “nice” than actually making members accountable for supporting, espousing, and promoting anti-gospel ideas, groups, and movements. If Brandon and Co. are truly the ascendant voices of a new church majority, a genuine schism is inevitable. They want to remake the LDS church into just another soft Christian denomination that embraces sexual deviancy and sin, while adorning itself in rainbow fruitcake paraphernalia.

(6) TOMLINSON GETS HIS CHAIRS BACK. Patrick S. Tomlinson’s online appeal succeeded in getting his lawn furniture returned after trolls hoaxed people into thinking it was being given away.


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 20, 1928 Shirley Rousseau Murphy. (Died 2022.) Now we come to a woman who wrote about cats who talked and understood human speech, Shirley Rousseau Murphy. How could I resist such a writer?  

Shirley Rousseau Murphy

The series that I’m interested is the Joe Grey series which involves a number of felines in a small coastal California town with a thriving tourist trade who develop the rather unusual ability not only to understand human speech but to talk it as well. No, it’s not explained, nor should it be. 

In first novel, Cat on the Edge, Joe Grey, our central feline and mostly the narrator here and in all of the novels, is the only witness to a murder. As the author says on her website, “Escaping the killer, he becomes the hunted, and he’s one scared tomcat–until he meets green-eyed Dulcie, a charmer with talents to match his own.”  He also discovers shortly there’s the aforementioned talents. Weirded out at first, he’s delighted eventually. 

The writing here is better than just decent with some quite unexpected plot developments that add considerable depth to the story. Joe Grey as a cat seems a feline in his behavior, the setting is charming and makes sense, and the mysteries are reasonably good though I wouldn’t call them particularly deep. 

It obviously sold well as there were twenty-one novels before she stopped with the last, Cat Chase the Moon, published after her death. A novella, Cat Chase the Moon, which I think is a prequel also has been published only by the usual suspects. 

So all of these novels in this series I suspect based on reading the first three are all like any series of this sort such that you could read any or all of them and be entertained by what you read. Is there an explicit order to them? No idea. 

She has a number of other series, none of which I’ve read. The Fontana Duology is a paranormal series involving Satan Himself with cats again prominently involved based on the really cute orange tabbies on both covers, and also the titles are The Cat, the Devil, and Lee Fontana and The Cat, the Devil, the Last Escape

Tired of cats yet? You’re out of luck if you are as she wrote went on to pen The Catswold Portal where a young girl could transform herself into, oh guess. She actually notes on her website that she describes each cat in detail so this is a small calico.

Ok, I promise no more cats, so finally I’ll stop with dragons that I consider to be akin to cats. I really do. They probably like having their bellies tickled. 

The Dragonbards trilogy which has as its story a sleeping dragon who awakens only to find her beloved land ruled by an evil despot and the only one who can save is a bard who is not be found. It’s a YA series that got very, very good reviews. 

Need I say that she did unicorn fiction as well? I think not. 


(9) PART OF THE FORMULA. ScreenRant names “10 Things That Happen In Every Harry Potter Book”.

10. Harry Potter Stays At The Dursleys

Harry Lives With His Aunt And Uncle Over The Summers

One of the more unfortunate recurring aspects of the Harry Potter timeline is Harry’s time staying at the Dursleys. Harry’s aunt and uncle, Vernon and Petunia Dursley, raise Harry for the first eleven years of his life until he leaves to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Though Hogwarts quickly becomes the place Harry thinks of as his true home, he spends at least a couple of weeks at the Dursleys’ house in every single Harry Potter book.

The Dursleys never treat Harry particularly well, but unbeknownst to them, Harry’s ability to call the Dursleys’ residence home kept him protected from Voldemort until his 17th birthday, making his stays at the Dursleys’ crucial to his survival throughout the series. Harry might loathe every moment he’s forced to spend with his abusive relatives, but his time there in each Harry Potter book is quietly very important to the series.

(10) GO RIGHT TO THE SOURCE. “Before Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat, There Was the University of Edinburgh’s Geneva Bonnet” at Atlas Obscura.

… all graduating students, must step forward and be tapped on the head with an object he calls “the medieval space bonnet.”…

…The University of Edinburgh’s Sorting Hat-style graduation ceremony has been in place for at least 150 years, in which time the bonnet has tapped the heads of over 100,000 graduates. But the round silk and cloth bonnet is rumored to be much older than that. Legend has it that the bonnet was made from a pair of trousers that belonged to 16th-century Scottish Reformation leader John Knox….

… Beyond its ceremonial duties, the bonnet has also been to space—well, at least a part of it. In 2006, astronaut and Edinburgh alumnus Piers Sellers contacted then-principal Timothy O’Shea and asked for permission to take the Geneva Bonnet with him to the space station. While O’Shea was open to the idea, he says that university officials told him it would be “an act of extraordinary madness to take the sacred bonnet into space!” As a compromise, Sellers took a small patch of velvet embroidered with the university crest with him on his mission. This patch was later sewn into the ceremonial hat, leading to the nickname “the medieval space bonnet.”…

…Although J.K. Rowling has never acknowledged the similarities between this ancient tradition and her famous Sorting Hat, it’s clear that some graduates of the university like to think of this as their very own sorting ceremony.

(11) WHIFF IT GOOD. Fast Company says “Of course France’s new stamps smell like baguettes”.

Leave it to the French to find a way to pack the aroma of a freshly baked baguette into a postage stamp. La Poste, the French postal service, is out with scratch-and-sniff stamps of their best-known bread with art from Paris-based artist Stéphane Humbert-Basset. The stamps depict a baguette wrapped in a blue, white, and red ribbon and the text “La baguette, de pain française,” for “The baguette, the French bread.”

The “bakery” scent is made using microcapsules, according to the Le Carré d’encre, a Paris stationary shop. “The difficulty for us is to apply this ink without breaking the capsules, so that the smell can then be released by the customer rubbing on the stamp,” printer Damien Lavaud told the BBC.

(12) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SEASON FINALE. Here are a couple of genre adjacent sketches from Saturday Night Live’s season-ending show.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Now You Have The Bridge, Spock (Star Trek Parody of ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ by Pat Benatar)” — by, it turns out (and not surprisingly) The Library Bards (www.librarybards.com), who I (and others) saw in concert at Dublin 2019 WorldCon — here’s my pix (towards the bottom of the Scroll): “Daniel Dern’s Monday Dublin 2019 Photos”.

(And also, separately at the con, Spider Robinson — see the first item here, for my report notes along a video of one song from his set (posted with permission: “Dern: My Final Report From the Dublin 2019 Worldcon”.)

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Daniel Dern, Kevin Lang, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

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25 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/20/24 A Pixel Of Earthscroll

  1. First? Who’d have thought!

    4) It’s about time the characters at Disneyland got a raise! Now maybe they can stop living in their cars while making money hand over fist for the Disney Corp.

  2. (1) It’s cool that there is an award named after Sara Douglass. She was one of the best-known Australian fantasy authors. (Also, f*ck cancer.)

    (2) The first thing I thought of was the twist about the mating snakes in “Dreamsnake.” (Also, f*ck cancer again.)

    (5) Oh. Jeez. Now even Brandon Sanderson is considered “woke.” If you find Brandon Sanderson “woke,” you really have to take a step back and examine yourself.

    Also, I wonder if the eager Brandon Sanderson fans have found Brad’s post.

  3. (1) I need to check with someone about entering him.
    (2) Dreamsnake was her book that got a LOT of attention (for good reasons).
    (4) Uncle Walt must be spinning in his grave. Good for them!
    (5) Where can I get some rainbow fruitcake?
    (6) Not everyone is scum. Thanks to those folks, and glad for Tomlinson.
    Birthday: Cats, like dragons? Well, speaking as the SilverDragon, I agree. After all, we’re highly intelligent, like to play with our food, and sleep a lot. Firebreath? Every rubbed a cat in dry air?
    (13) Fun.

  4. Just got an email from a friend in BSFS: “In a significant shake up, Penguin Random House, the largest publishing house in the United States, announced on Monday that the publishers of two of its most prestigious literary imprints had been let go.

    The departure of Reagan Arthur, the publisher of Alfred A. Knopf, and Lisa Lucas, the publisher of Pantheon and Schocken, likely came as a surprise to many in the company — including, it seemed, to Lucas.

    Lucas posted on X, formerly called Twitter, that she had learned of her dismissal at 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning. “I have some regrets about spending the weekend working,” she wrote.”

    Seems to be from the NYT (unless that’s The Times, London).

  5. (4) good! Their jobs sound tough.
    (5) very impressive responses from Sanderson.
    (6) glad to hear this.
    (10) The Geneva bonnet looks like a very standard 16th century hat. Various academics and knights of the Garter wear something quite similar, often plus tassels or plumes. Not sure where Knox’s trousers would come into it.

  6. 5) Torgersen long ago gave up on using the quality of his writing to attract (positive) attention. This is another in a long string of inventing things to be mad about in order to attract eyeballs. Typical of all of the anti-“woke” creatives who spend vastly more of their time being performatively terrible than they do actually trying to improve their craft. Sad.

  7. 4) Wow! It’s about time. Walt Disney World characters have been unionized since I was hanging out with Chip ‘n Dale and company in the 80s.

  8. Anne: There is no such thing as “woke.” It’s a war on American culture and individuality.

    Also, (f*k cancer, I survived it, caught it in time–if anyone EVER gets cancer, my advice is to get a lawyer immediately. Insurance companies try to stall until the cancer is too advanced to survive treatment. Yep, they actually do that!)

    Mark: Now that I think about it, yes, Walt likely is spinning in his grave. He was vehemently against unions, and spoke out about it in the McCarthy hearings.

  9. 5) I sometimes wonder why anything Torgersen and others of his ilk say or do is considered news. We all know what they believe, we know they’re hateful right-wing kooks, and nothing they do or say is new. They’re a needle stuck on the same groove of the record (ask your parents).

  10. (1) We really need a new word for long-story-presented-in-multiple-volumes to distinguish it from set-of-standalone-stories-starring-the-same-character(s). A succinct way of answering the oft-asked question, “do I need to read this series in order?”

    Of course (and this is where this new award may have issues), there are a lot of series which fall in between these two extremes! It’s not at all unusual to have a standalone foreground story for each volume, but still have an ongoing background story which crosses volumes. It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with this.

  11. @ Xtifr
    Is there any meaningful amount of current series publishing in the old Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys formula where there’s a set status quo and no continuity? And how likely are they to compete for an award specifically about series being greater than the sum of their parts?

  12. @ Xtifr: Can’t recall where I came across it, but one descriptor for a “set-of-standalone-stories-starring-the-same-character(s)” is “template series,” a term that fits, say, episodic sitcoms, which usually can be viewed in any order because nothing and nobody ever changes from episode to episode. For multi-volume narratives, we can still use trilogy/tetraology/N-ology or sequence or (for those nostalgic for the 19th century) triple-decker (which was always a single narrative broken into chunks).

    Then there’s the pseudo-sequential series, where the narrative arc is really only an excuse for something like a template series of otherwise unconnected adventures. E. C. Tubb’s Dumarest series seems to work that way–Dumarest is searching for his homeworld and never quite gets there even in 33 volumes.

    FWIW, there’s an old (unsigned–probably by Mark Kelly) essay on series from Locus. Buried in the comment thread is my take on the Matter of Series and Sequels. (Fourteen years later, I still agree with myself.)


  13. @Ryan H: There aren’t many that are that extreme that I know of. (Though Perry Rhodan, which has been publishing weekly since the seventies might be even more extreme; I’m not sure.) But in general, a milder version is quite common for mysteries and thriller series and the like.

    As for how likely these are to compete, well, authors like awards, and readers like it when things they like win awards. So I dunno.

    But really, I’m more concerned with the things in the middle. The creators of this award seem to be trying to make a binary distinction between the end points of what seems to me to be a spectrum.

    There was a big brouhaha about the first few winners of the Best Series Hugo award. A bunch of people who had supported the category got upset because we were doing it “wrong”. There were angry attempts to change the eligibility requirements, or even cancel the category. I just hope the people behind this new award aren’t headed for similar heartbreak if it doesn’t work the way they imagined.

  14. Carl: I spent the first five months of 2001 being treated. And my doc just ran me through – never had an issue with insurance. But that was 20+ years ago…

    Troyce: There is only one groove per side of a record… It’s the changer players that wind up repeating the last song on the last record on the stack. (Ask me sometime about Fats Domino and Blueberry Hill…)

    Xtifr: um, er, IIRC, 4SJ commenting in the first translated Perry Rodan (or, as my late wife referred to him, Perry Rodent) that as of the late 70s, there were over 900 books….

    And series – my novels are all in the same future timeline, but no characters reappear (except, possibly, for a reference). I keep swearing I will never write the first book of an 18-book trilogy.

  15. @mark: Records can be made with more than one track on a side. It was generally done as a gag.

  16. Bill: I remember the first time someone played both tracks on that Monty Python album. What a funny stunt.

  17. @Russell Letson: “Template series” is a good start, but seems a tad pejorative, somehow. There’s plenty of series where the individual volumes are standalone, but the stories aren’t quite as cookie-cutter as “template” might suggest.

    The flip side of your Dumarest example, where the supposed overarching story is just an excuse, is something like the Vorkosigan saga, where the stories are mostly supposed to be standalone, but because of on-going character development and growth, fans tend to recommend a proper reading order.

    Even less template-like is something like Cherry’s Alliance-Union series, where the main commonality is simply a shared setting. Or the Known Space example you mentioned in the Locus comment.

    (And let’s not even get into Cherryh’s Foreigner series, which is best described as an ongoing sequence of trilogies. Categorizing series gets harder the further you dig. Like a lot of things in life.) 🙂

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