Pixel Scroll 5/23/24 Shhhh. The Pixels Are Sleeping, Let’s Not Disturb Them

Ellen Klages

(1) ELLEN KLAGES ON JEOPARDY! [Item by Steven H Silver and David Goldfarb.] One of the contestants on Wednesday’s episode was World Fantasy Award-winning, Hugo- and Nebula-shortlisted author Ellen Klages. Ellen came in third.  She was against a couple of guys who had strong buzzer abilities. The game recap can be found on J! Archive. At the break, she began the story of the scary ham story that she told at the Nebula Award Ceremony in San Jose in 2014.

David Goldfarb took notes on the episode’s sff references.

In the Double Jeopardy round, there was some SFF content in the clues.

Books From the Last Few Years, $1200: There are an infinite number of books in “The Midnight” this, a 2020 bestseller by Matt Haig

Amar Kakirde knew it was a library.

Books From the Last Few Years, $1600: This 2021 Andy Weir book about a plucky astronaut sounds like it may be a long shot

A triple stumper. (This was “Project Hail Mary”.)

Books From the Last Few Years, $800: Author Curtis Sittenfeld wonders what would’ve happened in Hillary never married Bill in the novel titled with this maiden name.

Returning champion Chris D’Amico knew Hillary’s maiden name: “What is ‘Rodham’?”

Not SF but amusing to note:

Already in the Form of a Question, $1600. A Daily Double, with $6000 on the line: In a relatively famous play, this 4-word question precedes “Deny thy father & refuse thy name”

Chris didn’t know it: he tried, “What is, ‘How now, brown cow?’”

(It was actually “Wherefore art thou Romeo?”)

(2) DANGER IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. At A Deep Look by Dave Hook the author is “Revisiting ‘Dangerous Visions’”. He still finds 19 of the 33 stories in the volume are “great” or “superlative”.

… With all of the circus and controversy over whether Dangerous Visions was ever as good or as important as its reputation, or whether it was overrated, or whether the Suck Fairy had visited, I approached the reread with interest, hope and no small amount of trepidation….

… I am very glad I reread Dangerous Visions, although my reactions are mixed….

Hook shares ratings and comments about the 19 stories he feels are still remarkable.

It’s worth remembering that four stories in the anthology became finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula, and of those, three won at least one of the awards:

  • “Riders of the Purple Wage” by Philip José Farmer (tied for Hugo Award Best Novella, and a Nebula finalist)
  • “Gonna Roll the Bones” by Fritz Leiber (won the Hugo and Nebula Award for Novelette)
  • “Aye, and Gomorrah…” by Samuel R. Delany (Hugo Best Short Story finalist, and Nebula Award Short Story winner)
  • “The Jigsaw Man” by Larry Niven (Hugo Best Short Story finalist)
  • “If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?” by Theodore Sturgeon (Nebula Award Novella finalist)

However, Hook points out a definite shortcoming in the anthology:

…I also observe that only three out of 33 stories (9%) were by women. I don’t know how this came to be, but it is unfortunate. It may be that Ellison heard criticism on this point for Dangerous Visions. Looking at Ellison’s 1972 anthology Again, Dangerous Visions, there is a modest improvement, with nine out of 55 stories (16%) that feature women writers….

(3) WEN-YI LEE Q&A. With “Asian Heritage in Horror Month: An Interview with Wen-yi Lee” the Horror Writers Association blog continues its thematic series.

What draws you to the horror genre?

Well, I kind of like twisted things, as a baseline. As a writer, I like that horror as a genre lets you take an abstract fear and make it tangible, and confront and take apart all its angles. I also like the big, raw feelings; I like the transportive strangeness and the sense of confrontation and catharsis. Horror and romance are Barbenheimer genre sisters, really; they’re both rooted in these big vulnerable core feelings. I love romance in my horror, or horror in my romance.

Do you include Asian and/or Pacific Islander characters and themes in your writing with purpose, and if so, what do you want to portray?

I do! The protagonist in my debut novel is Chinese American, but more often than not I write from my being Southeast Asian Chinese–specifically Singaporean–which is very different from the Asian American identity but shares enough here and there that I do resonate with Asian American work. In The Dark We Know there are elements of being unrooted compared to the white families in town that can trace their lines back generations on the land, and familial language barriers and cultural isolation are factors in the main character’s loneliness. Other times, I’m not trying to write something “cultural” and “meaningful”, but just tell a good story that happens to be rooted in a particular ethnic/cultural environment, with characters that look and sound familiar instead of the blonde/blue-eyed girls that my main characters used to be. I’m still working on putting out a true love letter to Southeast Asia’s shared iconic female ghosts…

(4) MESS CALL AT REDWALL. James Folta confesses to Literary Hub readers, “I think about the food in the Redwall books way too often.”

…Before we go any further with Redwall, an important clarification: the characters are animal-sized and their world is scaled down. Some poor, misguided folks will tell you that these books are filled with human-sized animals, but the issue has been settled by scientific polling. We’re talking about a world of whimsy here, not a freak show where some rodents fell into the Toxic Avenger ooze. And yes, I know Jacques said in a Q&A that, “the creatures in my stories are as big or small as your imagination wants them to be.” We can all agree that this is a polite smokescreen for younger readers. But we’re all adults here—the characters are small.

What seems to be most enduring about Jacques’ books for me and other readers, though, are his descriptions of food and drink. If you’ve read the books, you know what I’m talking about—no one ever just eats food in Redwall. The descriptions of food unfurl in long lists, cataloged here in impressive detail. The mice food has inspired memes, a Twitter bota drinking game, and a cookbook.

Jacques is sumptuous, even gratuitous in his descriptions of food and drink. In the first book, Jacques writes of “tender freshwater shrimp garnished with cream and rose leaves, devilled barley pearls in acorn puree, apple and carrot chews, marinated cabbage stalks steeped in creamed white turnip with nutmeg.” The Bellmaker has dishes of “turnovers, trifles, breads, fondants, salads, pasties, and cheeses alternated with beakers of greensap milk, mint tea, rosehip cup and elderberry wine.” Even a simple breakfast at the cave of a mouse named Bobbo in Mariel of Redwall is lavished with description: “Now, you will find a small rockpool outside to wash in, and I will prepare wild oatcakes, small fish, and gorseflower honey to break your fast.”…

(5) BEETLEJUICE BEETLEJUICE TRAILER. The official trailer for the Beetlejuice sequel dropped today.

Beetlejuice is back! After an unexpected family tragedy, three generations of the Deetz family return home to Winter River. Still haunted by Beetlejuice, Lydia’s life is turned upside down when her rebellious teenage daughter, Astrid, discovers the mysterious model of the town in the attic and the portal to the Afterlife is accidentally opened. With trouble brewing in both realms, it’s only a matter of time until someone says Beetlejuice’s name three times and the mischievous demon returns to unleash his very own brand of mayhem.

(6) CASTLE Q&A. The Chicago Tribune reports on the previously announced career honor: “Crete resident Mort Castle to get horror writers award”.

Mort Castle remembers being frightened when his third-grade teacher played Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Pit and the Pendulum” on a phonograph.

“I was one of the weird kids who liked being scared. I dug nightmares,” said Castle of Crete.

The Horror Writers Association will present him with a Lifetime Achievement Award on June 1 during the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony at StokerCon 2024 in San Diego.

The award honors individuals whose work has influenced the horror genre substantially….

(7) FAMILY TIES. Rich Horton is working his way through the 2024 finalists: “Hugo Nominee Review: The Saint of Bright Doors, by Vajra Chandrasekera” at Strange at Ecbatan.

… The story is told primarily from the point of view of Fetter. Fetter’s mother tore his shadow from him at birth, and as a consequence, besides not casting a shadow, he is not tightly rooted to the ground: he will float into the air if he doesn’t take care. His mother also teaches him to be an assassin, from an early age, and she prepares him to commit the Five Unforgivables, as defined by his absent father’s theology — for his father is a “saint”, the Perfect and Kind. These crimes are matricide, heresy, killing of saints, patricide, and killing the Perfect and Kind. Nice family!…

(8) WHAT’S THAT RINGING? The New York Times has done an in-depth article about a controversy recently mentioned in the Scroll: “’The Hunt for Gollum’ Is Announced, Then ‘Lord of the Rings’ Fan Film Disappears”. (The link is not paywalled.)

… In 2009, Chris Bouchard, a recent film school graduate, uploaded his 39-minute “Lord of the Rings” fan film, “The Hunt for Gollum,” to YouTube. At the time, the platform was still, in his words, full of “five-minute videos of people’s cats.”

The site promoted Bouchard’s movie on its homepage, and within 24 hours, he had more than one million views. Today more than 13 million have watched the film, cementing it as a fan favorite.

So it came as a surprise recently when Bouchard received a text from an old friend saying that Warner Bros. had announced a planned addition to its growing “Lord of the Rings” franchise. The name of the movie? “The Hunt for Gollum.”…

… After getting the text, “at first I thought he was pulling my leg,” Bouchard said of his friend. Soon, online articles were embedding the fan film in their coverage of the Warner Bros. announcement, leading younger fans to it for the first time while older ones relived its lo-fi magic.

But by the next morning, Bouchard’s 15-year-old work had disappeared from YouTube. Viewers clicking on the link were shown a message stating, “This video contains content from Warner Bros. Entertainment, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”…

… But YouTube denied the appeal. So, like eagles over Mordor, the Ringers, as the fans are known, swooped in. They wrote articles and posted heated comments on Reddit and other sites, calling the removal “deplorable” and “despicable.” Bouchard noted his disappointment on X.

Bouchard quickly received a follow-up email from YouTube: The movie had been reinstated. In an email, Warner Bros. said it had no official comment. YouTube did not reply to requests for comment….

(9) H. BRUCE FRANKLIN (1934-2024). Black Gate reports that scholar H. Bruce Franklin died May 19 at the age of 90. He was the emeritus John Cotton Dana endowed Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark and author of numerous books, essays, and exhibitions related to science fiction.  

During the 1960s, Dr. Franklin was fired from Stanford despite being tenured supposedly for inciting student anti-Vietnam war protests. A former Air Force navigator and intelligence office in the Strategic Air Command, he also resigned his commission in protest of that war.

He won the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pioneer Award for his article “The Vietnam War as American SF and Fantasy” (Science Fiction Studies Nov 1990).  He also received SFRA’s Pilgrim Award, an Eaton Award, and was named a Distinguished Scholar for the International Association for Fantastic in the Arts.


[Written by Paul Weimer.]

May 23, 1921 James Blish. (Died 1975.)

By Paul Weimer. For me, my reading of James Blish revolves around two axes.

The first is Star Trek. I’ve not read a ton of Star Trek novels and stories. I don’t consider myself that well read in them, even as I remember at one point it seemed the SFF section of Borders and B Dalton were half Star Trek novels and the like. But when you, reader, having watched lots of repeats of the original series are confronted with a book with the title Spock Must Die, reading it becomes a moral imperative.  It’s a clever book, even if I don’t like the (now distinctly non-canonical) fate of the Klingon Commander, Koloth.  I’ve also read a couple of his adaptations of episodes that he turned into short stories, which is a pretty unique way to go about things. Has anyone else done that, turning tv episodes of a series into short stories? 

James Blish on his Vespa in the Sixties.

But what I remember Blish for the most is Cities in Flight.  I came across this one by accident. Somewhere along the line, I had read Oswald Spengler, whose racial theories are pants, but I was fascinated for a long while (and still am) with his attempts to systemize history into cycles. One really can’t, and he does a lot of plates spinning to make his formulations work.  (and yet, seeing that he sees the West in a period headed toward “Caesarism” and the rise of fascism in Europe and America, I still wonder). But somewhere along the line, I came across a reference that Blish had used a Spenglerian type of history for his Cities in Flight in sequence. 

And so I had to go read it.  The idea is bonkers, outfitting whole cities to go out into space is an idea that simply should not work.  (And yet, it’s an idea which has come time and again ever since).  But the idea of the Okies culture rising, changing, growing as the cities of Earth explore the galaxy and try to make a living is a compelling one. Characters? Plots?  I really don’t remember either for the novel sequence. But the basic ideas (including a devastating nuclear weapon type), especially the spindizzy drive itself, stuck with me.  And of course, the fact that the head of the migrating cities is the city of New York, of course, warmed and warms my ex-pat New Yorker’s heart. And a novel sequence that concludes with the end (or is it the beginning of a new one?) universe is as big a stakes as you can possibly ever get. 

I’ve also read A Case of Conscience, which I feel is a prelude or an overture to the work of Mary Doria Russell, and maybe in another vein, Walter M Miller Jr.


(12) EYE-OPENING GAMES. In Nature, Sam Illingworth discusses “Why role-playing games can spur climate action”.

… Imagine you are the mayor of a coastal city. How high would you build a sea wall, for example, to offer protection from future flooding? The decision involves balancing the risks of breaches against the cost of construction, without knowing how fast seas might rise or what the wider consequences of building it might be.

It is hard to anticipate the complexity of the decisions that we will all face as the world warms. But, as a game designer and education researcher, I know that games — and, in particular, role-playing games — can be an invaluable tool for helping us think through scenarios. By getting players to deal with situations in a simulated environment, games can help us to explore options in a risk-free way.

For example, I’ve used the board game Terraforming Mars to introduce young adults to the ethics of space colonization. Players control corporations competing to transform Mars into a habitable planet by extracting resources, building cities and creating green spaces. Nearly every session evolves into a heated debate about diverting resources to make a new ‘Earth’ instead of fixing the one we have….

(13) STRANGER WILL STAY ON STAGE. “‘Stranger Things: The First Shadow’ Trailer Teases Horrific Rise of Henry Creel as West End Play Extends Into 2025”Variety tells where to find the trailer and the stage show.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow,” the stage play based on Netflix‘s hit sci-fi drama of the same name, will extend its run on London’s West End into 2025. Previously, shows were only scheduled through Dec. 14, but tickets are now available through Feb. 16.

The news comes as Netflix debuts an official trailer for “The First Shadow,” which serves as a “Stranger Things” prequel. Set in 1959 Hawkins, Ind., “The First Shadow” tells the origin story of Henry Creel, a new kid in town who later goes on to become Vecna, the villain introduced in “Stranger Things” Season 4….

(14) KEEPING TIME. Here’s another reverential look at “John Williams and the Music of ‘Star Wars’” at Take Note.

…John Williams’s neoclassical approach combines elements of classic Hollywood composers (Max Steiner’s leitmotifs and physical action, Alfred Newman’s lush string writing, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s heroic fanfares, and Bernard Herrmann’s suspenseful ostinati) as well as Americana concert composers (such as Aaron Copland and Howard Hanson), and even some of the jazzy piano-based scores of Henry Mancini. 

He is a product of his time, and he found the right collaborator in Steven Spielberg; the two represent one of the most productive director/composer relationships in history….

(15) ON THE LOOSE. [Item by Mark Roth-Whitworth.] Be on the watch for Mongo (or maybe, if we’re lucky, the planet Porno…) “Euclid telescope spies rogue planets floating free in Milky Way” in the Guardian.

Astronomers have spotted dozens of rogue planets floating free from their stars after turning the Euclid space telescope to look at a distant region of the Milky Way.

The wandering worlds were seen deep inside the Orion nebula, a giant cloud of dust and gas 1,500 light years away, and described in the first scientific results announced by Euclid mission researchers.

The European Space Agency (Esa) launched the €1bn (£851m) observatory last summer on a six-year mission to create a 3D map of the cosmos. Armed with its images, scientists hope to understand more about the mysterious 95% of the universe that is unexplained….

(16) MOMENT IN THE SUN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s Nature cover is quite nifty. Link to cover and contents here.

The Sun undergoes an 11-year cycle that results in a variation of its magnetic field, readily seen in the creation and movement of sunspots. Conventional models assert that the origins of this solar dynamo lie deep within the star, but in this week’s issue, Geoffrey Vasil and colleagues present a model that suggests the opposite is true. The researchers identify that instabilities very close to the Sun’s surface provide a better explanation of the various features of the solar dynamo. The cover is a composite of some 150 images of the Sun taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory between 2010 and 2020, capturing variations in the Sun’s magnetic field over nearly a full sunspot cycle.

There is an “Instability could explain the Sun’s curious cycleshort review item on this here (paywalled).

The primary research paper is at the link.

(17) URANUS PROBE. And in this edition there is a comment piece…. “Why the European Space Agency should join the US mission to Uranus”

Without international partnerships, NASA’s ground-breaking mission could fail to be ready in time for its optimal launch window.

This week, space and planetary scientists are meeting at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, to scope out a new flagship NASA mission — the Uranus Orbiter and Probe. Still on the drawing board, the project would entail sending a spacecraft to orbit Uranus and drop a probe into the planet’s atmosphere. The spacecraft, which could be built and launched within a decade, would investigate the nature of Uranus, including its unusual tilt and magnetic field. It would also search the planet’s moons for signs of hidden oceans and other potentially habitable environments.

Such a mission would be ground-breaking — the first to orbit an ‘ice giant’ planet. Thought to be made mostly of ices, or perhaps dominated by rocks, ice giants Uranus and Neptune have more exotic chemistry than do Jupiter and Saturn, which as ‘gas giants’ consist mainly of hydrogen and helium gas1,2. Ice giants are also the most common type of exoplanet in the Milky Way3. With characteristics that lie between those of gas giants and of Earth and other terrestrial planets, it’s crucial to learn how such systems formed and evolved.

That’s why the Uranus Orbiter and Probe was given priority status in the 2022 US Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. And NASA is set to lead it. At the Goddard workshop, scientists will scope out the mission and consider its design, technologies and costs.

The mission has been under discussion for some time, and it will be exciting to see it begin to take shape. But, to make sure it is successful and happens as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, we would like to see others involved in its design, too. As a first step, we call for the European Space Agency (ESA) to join the project by, for example, building the entry probe — a possibility that was foreseen in the decadal report and has been assessed by ESA but has not yet been agreed.


[Thanks to Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Steven H Silver, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Teddy Harvia for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

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35 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/23/24 Shhhh. The Pixels Are Sleeping, Let’s Not Disturb Them

  1. First!

    I just read one of Rusch’s Spade stories I didn’t know I had, “The Case of The Stolen Memories “. Most excellent.

  2. (9) “Inciting”? Yeah, sure, ignore the fact that every young man there was in danger of being drafted and sent there to kill and/or die, never mind we knew it was wrong, one teacher “incited” it all. Now, about the Palestinian protests…

  3. 2) If anyone wonders why there were so few women in the first Dangerous Visions anthology, I would refer them to Pier Anthony’s “In The Barn” from Again, Dangerous Visions. It will answer all your questions (whether you finish it or not).

    10) The Cities In Flight series started out great but I got helplessly lost as New York City restarted the entire universe in the endgame. And it’s worth mentioning his novel Black Easter, where black magician Theron Ware single-handedly brings us Armageddon.

  4. 7) Floats in the air?
    When I was a kid, I had a dream about that. I was trudging through a forested area on a path with a scout troop, and I got tired, so bent one of my legs so it was parallel with the ground and walked with the other leg. When that leg got tired, I did the same with it, and coasted along with the others who were walking. The odd thing about this wasn’t that I could float, it was that NO ONE even NOTICED!

    14) If you’re going to do anything, learn from the best!

  5. I would not dream of waking the pixels. They need their rest, like all of us.

    (2) I honestly don’t think there’s any mystery to why Ellison didn’t include a lot of women writers in Dangerous Visions.

    (10) I really liked Cities in Flight, and I have no desire to challenge my fond memories and risk an encounter with the Suck Fairy.

  6. (10) James Blish. My thanks to Paul for a nice writeup on Blish. He wrote more than a few works of short fiction and novels that I thought were great. Here are my recommendations.

    Short fiction
    1. “Midsummer Century”, a novella, F&SF April 1972, rated 4.2/5, or “Superlative”.
    2. “Surface Tension”, a pantropy novelette, Galaxy August 1952 novelette, rated 4.2
    3. “Earthman, Come Home”, a novelette (part of the Cities in Flight), Astounding November 1953, rated 3.9/5, or “Great”.
    4. “A Work of Art”, a short story, Science Fiction Stories, July 1956, rated 3.9
    5. “Common Time”, a short story, from “Shadow of Tomorrow”, Frederik Pohl editor, 1953 Permabooks, rated 3.9
    6. “Bindlestiff”, a novelette, Astounding December 1950, (a Richard Lupoff choice for a Hugo that year if one had been held), and part of “Cities in Flight”.
    7. “Tomb Tapper”, a short story, Astounding July 1956, rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
    8. “The Box”, a short story, Thrilling Wonder Stories April 1949, rated 3.8.

    1. “Cities In Flight”, the 1972 omnibus edition of the whole thing. Uneven in places, but I love it.
    2. “Black Easter”, 1968, superlative
    3. “The Day After Judgment”, 1971, superlative
    4. “A Case of Conscience”, 1958, great

  7. 16) I know just enough physics to suspect that the headline is a pun.

  8. (10) James Blish’s Star Trek collections were a godsend to me as a kid in the early Seventies – I had become interested in the show, but did not live in an area where the syndicated reruns were being broadcast. So reading short-story versions of the episodes was the next best thing to watching them. The only similar books that I’m aware of are the ones in Alan Dean Foster’s “Star Trek Log” series, which were based on episodes of the animated show. Also, in those days the screenplays of popular movies often got turned into paperback originals. Once things like VHS tapes, and later DVDs and streaming, became commonplace, I suspect there was just no longer a market for this sort of book.

  9. James Blish is certainly an interesting writer. I think I’ve still got all his Star Trek… err… shortstoryizations somewhere about the place. He’s a very elliptical sort of writer, capable of spanning huge chunks of time and action in a few brief sentences; let your attention wander for just one paragraph in Earthman, Come Home and you’ll find yourself centuries in the future and on the far side of the galaxy.

    Some of his stuff absolutely demands close attention, including what may be the weirdest trilogy in SFF, described as the “After Such Knowledge” trilogy. This consists of A Case of Conscience (a trad SF novel with a religious twist), Black Easter and its sequel The Day After Judgement (sometimes published together in one volume, a contemporary-set theological satire based on the Clavicula Salomonis and other occult texts), and Doctor Mirabilis (essentially the life story of Roger Bacon as a historical drama.) There’s probably a PhD thesis waiting to be written about whatever Blish was up to with that lot.

    Blish was also an SF critic, as the pseudonymous and curmudgeonly “William Atheling” – I’ve read the two Atheling collections (The Issue at Hand and More Issues at Hand) and, well, they’re a bit dated – they rely a lot on cultural references which would have been common currency at the time, but are a bit hard to get a handle on, now.

    Speaking of dating, my first introduction to Blish came via my local library, which had copies of his Heinleinesque juveniles, The Star Dwellers and Mission to the Heart Stars. On re-reading those, I find the Suck Fairy has been very busy indeed. Well, you can’t win ’em all.

  10. @Rusty — That sounds almost exactly like my experience: I knew Star Trek existed (and saw a few random episodes when visiting my grandparents in California), but none of the local stations syndicated it, so I had to content myself with obsessively rereading the Blish Star Trek Logs (and The Making of Star Trek).

  11. @Rusty: I was fortunate enough to be able to see Star Trek at least 5 times a week, but for whatever reason I never had access to the animated series, so the Fosters’ were great for me.

  12. 2) I’ve been re-reading Dangerous Visions in preparation for getting the new installment when it’s released/whenever I get around to it. and I’d say it holds up much better than 19 out of 33.

    10) Of course it is. (eye roll goes here) One day when they discover the center of the universe, New Yorkers are going to be shocked and perplexed at having to confront the fact that it wasn’t them all along.

    17) If we are going to probe Uranus (which I hear is large and gassy and is occasionally troubled with Klingons) we should definitely name the probe ‘Uranus Examiner.’ https://youtu.be/OSWszdSHkyE?si=yL5r8LkhBPQMhWxC

  13. (8) Just watched this and will never again pass a Tesoro gas station in quite the same way.

  14. (2) Being the local contrarian, I’d suggest that as few as four of the stories in the first volume of Dangerous Visions hold up particularly well today (Not just because it’s about as gender-balanced a work as Baen’s anthology The Chronicles of Davids.) Too many of the stories are from that portion of the New Wave that mistook transgression as insightfulness.

    As an aside, does anyone know what percentage of stories in The Last Dangerous Visions are not by cis-gendered male authors?

  15. With so many roofs and acres of lawn in my neighborhood, I always wonder why a bird chooses my car to drop a load on.

  16. I was always a bit meh on Dangerous Visions. It’s so often touted as this great example of New Wave SF, when a big chunk was actually older authors, many of whom scorned the New Wave. And while it had some excellent stories, it also had stories that just felt like they were trying too hard. Like old folks (and I say this as an old man myself now) trying desperately to appear young and hip. I feel like it did and still does give people a very wrong impression of what was going on at the time.

    A lot of stuff associated with the New Wave can be a bit cringy, especially in retrospect, but DV has, well, a slightly different flavor of cringiness to it. At least to me; I realize I may be alone in this.

  17. Olav Rokne: As an aside, does anyone know what percentage of stories in The Last Dangerous Visions are not by cis-gendered male authors?

    Why don’t you DM Joe Straczynski and find out? Because the ToC hasn’t been released and almost half the names haven’t become public yet.

  18. Mike Glyer on May 24, 2024 at 12:38 pm said:
    Olav Rokne: As an aside, does anyone know what percentage of stories in The Last Dangerous Visions are not by cis-gendered male authors?

    Why don’t you DM Joe Straczynski and find out? Because the ToC hasn’t been released and almost half the names haven’t become public yet.

    TBH, I don’t think it’s very likely that JMS would have the time to answer a message from a jerk like me. (FWIW, it’s a question I’ve seen directed at him on Twitter, and he’s ignored the question. As much as I think very highly of Straczynski, I’m a little worried about his silence on this point.)

    If he wanted the demographic info about the Table of Contents out there, he’d probably release it on a mainstream platform.

  19. Olav Rokne asks As an aside, does anyone know what percentage of stories in The Last Dangerous Visions are not by cis-gendered male authors?

    Some questions.

    First I’d ask why do you to want know? What effect does it have upon their writing if they are or are not such? The answer of course is generally none. And it’s certainly none of your damn concern.

    Second is why would JMS know? Why would he have any interest in knowing this?

    And you’re assuming that all individuals reveal such things when in reality, especially then, they didn’t.

  20. Olav Rokne: I just linked to a post where someone held the opinion that a bunch of stories in Dangerous Visions still seem good to him. You made that a pretext to ask people here to provide an answer about the sexual identification of authors in an as-yet unpublished book. Are you genuinely interested in the answer? Or only in the question’s value as a means of throwing shade?

    I’m not satisfied for you to disclaim some stuff about JMS not having time to answer a message you haven’t attempted to send him. He answers the questions I send him. You’re a 4-time Hugo nominated blogger and need to make the effort.

  21. Cat Eldridge on May 24, 2024 at 1:28 pm said:
    First I’d ask why do you to want know? What effect does it have upon their writing if they are or are not such?

    Well, it’s a matter of representation and of having works that include the full range of human experiences.

    But looking at the way I built that sentence, I might not have been entirely clear. What I’m asking is if there is overall gender balance; are there women as well as dudes. Is there a reasonable balance? Not just cis dudes, but cis women? Not just cis but trans?

    When it’s probably the highest-profile anthology of the year (or possibly the past few years), it matters who is getting platformed. If it’s only the same cis-gendered white dudes (or even if cis-gendered white dudes are overrepresented), then it reinforces patterns of exclusion within publishing.

    Fundamentally, who is getting the opportunities to tell stories affects the stories that are told … and consequently which stories are seen as ‘valid’ in broader culture.

    [FWIW, my name is not “Olaf.”]

  22. You said he wouldn’t have time to answer. And now you show you did, in fact, ask him. Good, that’s how the business should be handled. And then we don’t have to wonder if he’s willing to answer, do we?

  23. Mike Glyer on May 24, 2024 at 1:50 pm said:
    You said he wouldn’t have time to answer. And now you show you did, in fact, ask him. Good, that’s how the business should be handled. And then we don’t have to wonder if he’s willing to answer, do we?

    Initially you suggested sending him a DM (which I’ve not). Have checked, and I have no way to DM him, just to post things on public forums.

    He’s probably likelier to respond to DMs, which he’d receive from people he knows. And my quip about “a jerk like me,” is really about the fact that I doubt that he has any clue who I am.

  24. Olav Rokne: In my feed I see a fair amount of JMS responding to open comments on X.com. Sometimes he provides information. Sometimes he’s annoyed. He may not answer at all. But tagging him with your question was likely enough to get it read.

  25. Olav Rokne–

    Well, it’s a matter of representation and of having works that include the full range of human experiences.Well, it’s a matter of representation and of having works that include the full range of human experiences.

    Which is important!, but this is material Harlan Ellison bought in the early 1970s. There’s not likely to be anyone in it who was out as gay. Even closeted gays who are still with us, might still be closeted. It’s not JMS’s place to out them. Really it’s not.

    There won’t be any out trans people. At all. Very, very few trans people at the time even had the language and understanding to grasp what was going on with themselves. And no one would have ‘fessed up about being trans to Harlan Ellison, I’m pretty sure. That would have made them far too vulnerable, more so even than gay people.

    As in, it could have literally wrecked their lives.

    Well, it’s a matter of representation and of having works that include the full range of human experiences.

    JMS couldn’t properly balance it without buying new material written much later. Which is not what he says he’s doing. He’s publishing what Ellison bought.

    But looking at the way I built that sentence, I might not have been entirely clear. What I’m asking is if there is overall gender balance; are there women as well as dudes. Is there a reasonable balance? Not just cis dudes, but cis women? Not just cis but trans?

    You’re asking for information that, especially as regards trans people, won’t exist, and which JMS, if he’s being ethical, couldn’t possibly release. Being outed as trans can still wreck lives. And no, you can’t point to a few examples now of wealthy trans people, or people safely embedded in institutions that support them. That’s not most people. I think it’s especially not most writers, and even if they’re deceased now, their families may still care, and be hurt by it going public.

    On the trans/nontrans question, JMS absolutely had better shut up, even if he knows. Yes, this anthology is being published now, but it’s Harlan’s anthology, and the material was purchased half a century ago, when the world was very different. Some then-closeted gays may have come out since, or be okay with being outed now, but trans? No. There’s a very high possibility they wouldn’t have known themselves then, because not a lot of people even had the language and the concepts to talk about it.

    Trying to get that information, and doing anything with it if one did get it, would not be kind, at all.

  26. Cat says: “but this is material Harlan Ellison bought in the early 1970s”

    Is it really material bought in the 1970s?

    There are 11 authors who have been announced for the anthology, and I think only four of those were even writing in the 1970s (Sheckley, Fast, Broxon, and Bryant).

    The current list of the people on the publisher site is: Max Brooks, Edward Bryant, Cecil Castellucci, James S. A. Corey, Howard Fast, Patricia Hodgell, Dan Simmons, Robert Sheckley, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Mildred Downey Broxon, and Cory Doctorow. Notably, that’s eight white dudes and three white women.

    It seems unlikely that several of these stories were commissioned before 2000:

    Max Brooks (first published in 2011)
    Cory Doctorow (first published in 1990)
    James S. A. Corey (really two people, but first published together in 2011)
    Adrian Tchaikovsky (first published 1998 as a short story author, but came to prominence in about 2016)

    This is not material purchased a half century ago.

    And more to the point, it’s an anthology being published today. And it can either reinforce barriers to marginalized authors, or can platform people who might otherwise not be heard.

    This is probably the most important anthology, highest-profile SFF short fiction venue of the year (if not the decade). I want it to be awesome. I want Straczynski to succeed. And I want it to elevate our genre in all of today’s magnificent diversity.

  27. Olav Rokne: Yes, JMS announced that he acquired some new stories for LDV from more contemporary authors. And he also shed some of the ones Ellison bought which had not yet been published (though he did not name whose). Anyone can run a search on “Last Dangerous Visions” here and find the details.

  28. @OGH: I dimly recall a story of a guy who used birdseed and an appropriately colored tarpaulin to train the local birds to crap on his hated co-worker’s convertible.

  29. Olav Rockne says This is probably the most important anthology, highest-profile SFF short fiction venue of the year (if not the decade). I want it to be awesome. I want Straczynski to succeed. And I want it to elevate our genre in all of today’s magnificent diversity.

    No, no, no.

    It’s an anthology, an interesting one, yes, but “the most important anthology, highest-profile SFF short fiction venue of the year (if not the decade”, seriously? I might be in the minority on this, but I think that JMS has hyped this way beyond the overdone point.

    Go read it, enjoy it. But there’s a lot of excellent anthologies out there this year, some that are going to be more worthy of our time than this is. Or at least mine. Ellen Datlow in any given year can be counted on for that, and so can Jonathan Strahan to name but two.

    (I like short fiction. Despite my brain injury which means I can’t follow long form narrative, I can read a story from beginning to end in the time that my brain retains all of it. So short stories are truly wonderful.)

  30. There’s an author who began publishing in the 1960s and who transitioned in the 1990s (as best I am able to tell; it may have been somewhat earlier), so it’s possible that she’s one of the authors whose story that Ellison bought (though she’s not listed in the 1979 toc).

  31. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 6/11/24 A Pixel Is To Be Hugged And Sung Lullabies Lest It Grow Up Feeling Unwanted. And Then It Won’t Want To Be Scrolled | File 770

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