Pixel Scroll 5/30/19 The Pixels, My Friend, Are Scrollin’ In The Wind

(1) KIND OF LIKE A CORRESPONDENCE COURSE. BBC reports “JK Rowling to release new Harry Potter eBooks”.

JK Rowling is to release four new Harry Potter eBooks next month, offering fans the chance to “delve deeper into the rich history of magic”.

Rowling’s Pottermore website will publish the non-fiction stories, which will be devoted to all things from the “wizarding world”.

Each will be themed around lessons studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The shorts are inspired by a British Library exhibition about Harry Potter.

…The first two books, released on 27 June, will explore Defence Against the Dark Arts as well as Potions and Herbology.

The third and fourth books, which will be released soon after, will look at Divination and Astronomy along with Care of Magical Creatures.

(2) LIMIT ONE ENDING PER CUSTOMER. “Dark Phoenix Ending Was Reshot Because Another Superhero Movie Had the Same Ending” – and Movieweb tries to deduce which movie got there first.

…With the movie finally set to arrive in theaters next month, the cast has started making the press rounds to promote it. During a recent interview, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were asked about the extensive reshoots. That’s when things got interesting, as McAvoy gave anything but a typical answer. Here’s what he had to say about it.

“The end [of Dark Phoenix] changed a hell of a lot. The finale HAD to change. There was a lot of overlap and parallels with another superhero movie that came out… a while ago.”

(3) NYRSF READINGS. Chana Porter and Katharine Duckett will illuminate the stage at the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings series on June 4. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. at The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Avenue  (between Hoyt & Bond St.), Brooklyn, NY.

Chana Porter is an emerging playwright, speculative novelist, and education activist. Her plays have been developed or produced at Playwrights Horizons, The Catastrophic Theatre, La MaMa, Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, Cherry Lane, The Invisible Dog, and Movement Research. She is a MacDowell Fellow, a New Georges Audrey Resident, a Target Margin Artist-in-Residence, and Honorable Mention for the Relentless Prize. She is currently writer-in-residence at The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Chana is the co-founder of the Octavia Project, a free summer writing and STEM program for Brooklyn teenage girls and nonbinary youth. Her play LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR runs at The Flea Theater June 16-30th, directed by Tara Ahmadinejad. Her debut novel, THE SEEP, is forthcoming from Soho Press in 2019. www.chanaporter.com

Katharine Duckett is the author of MIRANDA IN MILAN, and her short fiction has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Apex Magazine, Interzone, PseudoPod, and various anthologies. She is also the guest fiction editor for the Disabled People Destroy Fantasy issue of Uncanny. She hails from East Tennessee, has lived in Turkey and Kazakhstan, and graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she majored in minotaurs. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife.

(4) JEMISIN’S SEASON AT PBS. The PBS News Hour announces “‘The Fifth Season’ is June’s pick for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times book club”.

…In the coming days, we’ll post discussion questions for “The Fifth Season,” an annotated excerpt from the book, and writing advice from Jemisin. At the end of the month, she will answer your questions on the PBS NewsHour. We hope you’ll join us and read along.

(5) THE HUGO AWARDS ON JEOPARDY! The Hugo was included in the “Awards and Prizes” category on last night’s show. Kevin Standlee shared the screen grab of the answer that the J! media team sent him.

(6) HUGO FINALIST SIGHTING. Boyd Nation is trying to get on Jeopardy! and thereby hangs the tale:

I was in a Jeopardy! audition today in Nashville, and one of the other participants was 2002 Best Novelette finalist Shane Tourtellotte.  He’s still producing the occasional short fiction piece, but he’s mostly focusing on writing for a baseball web site as a source of income these days.  

As an aside in the course of his interview, by the way, I learned that Frederick Pohl IV was a long-time writer for Jeopardy!

(7) HUGO VOTE COUNTING DEMO. Nice animation of Single Transferable Vote (STV) in the Belfast (Ireland)Telegraph’s “Election 2019” coverage that may help people trying to explain how the Hugo awards work. (Via Robot Archie.)

STV is the system used to count the Hugo final ballot and determine the winners. That’s different from EPH, which is used to count the nominations.

(8) THINKING OUTSIDE. Camestros Felapton contemplates alien aliens in “We’re going on an adventure: Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky” – beware minor spoilers.

…It is an interesting challenge to try and side step the imaginative approach, although I don’t see how that is possible. Alternatively we can delve into fiction and specifically, science fiction to explore minds quite different from our own. However, science fiction does not present us with the inner workings of alien minds as often as would be implied by its subject matter.

Science fiction aliens are often explorations of variations on human cognition, personality and culture. I don’t want to dismiss that — there is value (both speculatively and as entertainment) in thinking about the species of hyper-stoical Vulcans. Alternatively, aliens may be quite cryptic and offer a huge barrier to understanding that human characters may only bridge as the climax of a story (or in the case of Ender’s Game as a coda to the climax)….

(9) LOST AND FOUND. View the NOVA episode about the “Lost Viking Army” on the PBS website.

Forty years ago, hundreds of skeletons were unearthed in a mass grave in an English village. Bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman believes these bones are the last remains of the “Great Heathen Army,” a legendary Viking fighting force that invaded England in the ninth century and has long been lost to history. Armed with the latest scientific methods, Cat’s team uncovers extraordinary human stories from the front line, including evidence of women fighters and a lost warrior reunited with his son in death.

(10) ETCHISON FUNDRAISER. The Dennis Etchison Memorial Fund, a GoFundMe appeal, has been launched to help pay for funeral expenses.

Hi all, We are hoping to raise funds to help Kristina Etchison with costs incurred to have Dennis laid to rest. 

The cost of dying is high, sadly, and Kris can use any help here that you can afford to give. 

The final plans for memorial services, etc have not yet been made, and we will keep everyone up to date as plans are finalized in this very difficult time.

In the first six hours, people contributed $435 towards the $4,000 goal.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 30, 1914 Bruce Elliott. His fifteen stories in The Shadow magazine in the late Forties are generally held in low esteem by Shadow fans because of his handling of the character, best noted by the three stories in which the Shadow does not appear at all in his costumed identity. Oh, the horror! He also wrote three genre novels — The Planet of ShameAsylum Earth  and, errr, The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck. And he had stories in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction including “Wolves Don’t Cry”:and “The Last Magician”. (Died 1973.)
  • Born May 30, 1919 Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. British author best known for his ghost and horror stories though his first published work was the SF novel The Man from the Bomb in the late Fifties. The Monster Club, a series of linked tales, is a good place to start with him if you’ve not read him and it became a film with Vincent Price co-starring John Carradine. He won the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and also a British Fantasy Society Special Award. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 30, 1922 Hal Clement. I’m reasonably sure Mission of Gravity was the first novel I read by him though I’ve not re-read it so the Suck Fairy not been tested. And I’m pleased to see that his short fiction which collected into three volumes is still available though only in hardcover. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 30, 1936 Keir Dullea, 83. David Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. I know I saw 2001 but I’ll be damned if if I can remember seeing 2010. He’s done a number of other genre films, Brave New WorldSpace Station 76, Valley of the Gods and Fahrenheit 451. And less we forget he was Devon in Starlost.
  • Born May 30, 1948 Michael Piller. He was a writer and Executive Producer of The Next Generation, and co-creator of Deep Space Nine and  Voyager. He’s likely best known for co-writing “The Best of Both Worlds” and the pilots of DS9 (“Emissary”) and Voyager (“Caretaker”). Post-Trek, he developed a short-lived series based off of Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone, and he had a deal with WB for a series called Day One, a post-apocalyptic series based on the UK Last Train series. WB reneged on the contract.  (Died 2005.)
  • Born May 30, 1952 Mike W. Barr, 67. Writer of comics and sf novels. Created along with Jim Aparo Looker (Emily “Lia” Briggs), a hero in the DC Universe. She first appeared first appeared in Batman & the Outsiders #25. He worked for both major houses though I’d say most of his work was at DC. He wrote the “Paging the Crime Doctor” episode of Batman: The Animated Series
  • Born May 30, 1953 Colm Meaney, 66. Best known for playing Miles O’Brien in Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Other genre roles include an unnamed Cop at Tess’s in Dick Tracy, Seamus Muldoon in The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns, a recurring role as Chief Cowen on Stargate Atlantis and Father Francis on Tolkien
  • Born May 30, 1962 Kevin Eastman, 57. Best known for co-creating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Peter Laird. He’s the editor and publisher of Heavy Metal which he purchased in 1992. He’s working on a new TMNT series with IDW Publishing. 
  • Born May 30, 1964 Mark Sheppard, 55. He’s the son of actor W. Morgan Sheppard. A number of genre roles including lawyer Romo Lampkin on the Battlestar Galactica reboot, sleazy crime lord Badger on Firefly, Tanaka on Dollhouse, Reagent Benedict Valda on Warehouse 13, Canton Everett Delaware III on Doctor Who and Willoughby Kipling, member of the Knights Templar, on Doom Patrol

(12) TIME TO SLIME. In WIRED, Louise Mitsakis reports on the World Slime Congress in Hershey, Pennsylvania where 5,000 people, mostly teens, go to see what’s new in slime, “participate in slime drama,” and listen to “slime influencers” discuss the latest trends in goop creation. “It’s the World Slime Convention! Let’s Goo!”

…My first stop was the booth of Liz Park, a slime influencer whose Instagram, @slimeypallets, has more than 75,000 followers. Park has long, black hair, dyed stormy gray at the ends, and she was wearing enormous fake eyelashes and a Mickey Mouse-style headband, each ear plastered with a yellow Slimey Pallets sticker. The tween girls clustered around her booth wanted to score one of those palettes—sampler packages of six or so slimes that Park makes by hand and sells for around $18 each. I tried to step in to say hello, but a girl wearing a sparkly T-shirt pointed at me, turned to her friends, and loudly reported that I had cut the line. I retreated and watched as Park, who at 30 is much older than most of her fans, handed out slimes and signed posters, chatting and laughing.

(13) CELEBRITY BRUSH. People: “Ariana Grande Dresses Up as an Astronaut During NASA Space Center Visit — and Plays Her Song ‘NASA'”.

One small step for woman, one giant leap for woman-kind!

After performing for a sold-out crowd in San Antonio, Texas, Ariana Grande accepted the opportunity to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Saturday.

The pop star, 25, documented her tour on Instagram Story in videos that showed her dressed in an astronaut’s uniform, complete with helmet.

“Thank you for the coolest day of my life @nasa,” Grande captioned one of her videos.


(14) THE STAGES YOU’LL CROSS. In the Washington Post, Ron Charles says that Dr. Seuss’s last book, Oh, the Place You’ll Go! has become “a title as firmly associated with graduation as pumpkins are with Halloween or turkeys with Thanksgiving:”  Charles provides a list of other books he thinks would be more sophisticated presents for college graduates. (Chuck Tingle’s new Seuss-ian book of erotica isn’t one of them.) – “How Dr. Seuss’s ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’ became a graduation-gift cliché”.

…How the Seuss stole graduation is a tale that sheds light on our own aspirations. The extraordinary success of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” stems from the book’s infinitely flexible appropriateness. Like the knitted thneed in “The Lorax,” it’s a “Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!” Children leaving kindergarten respond to Dr. Seuss’s colorful drawings and silly rhymes. For teens graduating from high school, the book is a sweet reminder of their waning adolescence. College graduates accept it as a cute token of nostalgia. And all allegedly resonate to the book’s rousing invocation of adventures just over the horizon.

…Seth Lerer, the author of “Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History, From Aesop to Harry Potter,” notes that the rise of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” as a graduation gift coincides with the lengthening of adolescence for college-age people.

…That change is reflected in their graduation gifts, too. In the 1970s, Lerer recalls, new graduates commonly received a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus and a fancy pen-and-pencil set. “The belief was that when you graduated, when you had a period of transition, you needed to be ready to read and write, that the transition was a transition of literacy,” Lerer says. “What Dr. Seuss hit in ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’ and the reason it’s been adopted is because many people now think that the transition is not about reading and writing, it’s about action. It’s about doing. It’s about going places.

(15) THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING BOOK EXPO. Andrew Porter says, “Book Expo continues to implode (diagram below shows exhibits now just a portion of one floor), but I picked up a copy of a Lem story turned into graphic novel [there].” (Stanislaw Lem’s The Seventh Voyage, a graphic novel by Jon J. Muth, Scholastic Graphix, Oct. 1 2019, Age 8-12, ISBN 978-0-545-00462-6).

(16) FILMED IN BLACK AND… BLACK. They’ve restored Nevil Maskelyne’s 1900 film of a total solar eclipse in North Carolina. “Watch the oldest surviving film of a total solar eclipse” at Science News. (Via PJ Evans.) (Length of film: 1:08 – from just before totality to just after.)

Maskelyne developed a special telescope adapter for his camera to film the eclipse without frying his equipment. The 1900 eclipse was actually his second attempt. His first, an eclipse in India in 1898, was successful, but his film canister was stolen on the trip back to England.

(17) ECLIPSED BY WIL WHEATON. What did John Scalzi find out about his hometown when he checked out a unique map of the U.S. based on Wikipedia use? About what you’d predict. His explanatory post is titled: “In Which I Learn That I Live In Me”.

There’s a site out there that scraped Wikipedia entries from the last few years, and then put up a map of the United States where the place names were replaced with the person associated with that place (in apparently whatever capacity) whose Wikipedia article was looked at the most. For Bradford, Ohio, and perhaps not entirely surprisingly, that person happens to be… me. Yes, that’s correct, on this map, I live in me.

Since my own vanity knows no bounds I immediately searched Arcadia, CA – and found it is now known as Wil Wheaton. Well, I won’t be knocking him off the top of the hill any time soon. However, if I moved a mile down the street into Monrovia maybe I’d have a better chance – it’s only named for a former Boise State football player.

(18) TAKING GAS. Fast Company asks if this idea will ever get off the ground: “We’re still waiting for flying cars. This startup says hydrogen power is the answer”.

…As the efforts to build George Jetson’s robot have failed, evidence points to big barriers for his flying car. All these electric craft–be they powered by battery or hydrogen–are radically different contraptions from traditional planes and helicopters, posing a challenge for regulators trying to evaluate their safety.

Companies are hoping to lead the FAA on this process, advocating an approach in which the government sets overall safety goals that aircraft makers figure out how to achieve. But public sentiment may turn against industry-led regulation after the Boeing 737 Max crashes–possibly the result of the FAA’s light-touch evaluation of new software.

Then there’s hydrogen. While battery-powered electric cars are all over the road, fuel cell vehicles haven’t gotten beyond pilot projects. And all the same challenges faced by cars may carry over to planes. Electricity is almost everywhere in the U.S. and other developed countries. Hydrogen is not….

(19) PICARD TRIVIA QUIZ. Trek, Actually challenges fans with its “Trivia Quiz: Captain Picard Edition!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cath, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, PJ Evans, ULTRAGOTHA, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Kevin Standlee, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/30/19 The Pixels, My Friend, Are Scrollin’ In The Wind

  1. (6) I remember enjoying the works of Shane Tourtellotte quite a bit. Interesting to hear what he’s doing these days.

  2. It’s been a hard day and the William Morris book The Well At The World’s End is just what I need. Those really long sentences soothe the soul.

  3. 8) I’ve got a review myself of Children of Ruin in the works. It’s fantastic.

  4. @ Joe H.

    Oooh, that Kelmscott Press edition is flat-out amazing! My Ballentine Adult Fantasy edition of Well At The World’s End is a little on the fragile side, so I am using the Kindle app on my iPad. Also get to plug the headphones in and read to 12-string acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Robbie Basho (which is a pretty good match for Well, I must say).

  5. (11) There were 6 seasons of The Dead Zone TV series. “Short-lived” seems a little harsh.

  6. (11) “I’ll be damned if if I can remember seeing 2010.” I saw it in theaters at the end of 1984, but although I enjoyed it while it was in front of me, it was somehow instantly forgettable – perhaps because I’d been a big 2001 fan since age 11 (I wonder how someone who hadn’t seen 2001 would have reacted).

    By the way, despite contrary information that’s circulated for ~35 years, “The Year We Make Contact” is not part of the movie’s title, although all the ads and posters included the phrase.

  7. I feel like I accomplished something, today. Not sure what, though.

    Maybe identifying the point at which I needed to turn off the news?

    Hugo reading continues.

  8. @11: I don’t think you’d find Mission of Gravity to have been suck-fairy’d. However, I was taken very aback some years ago at division-of-labor-by-gender assumptions in Iceworld (my first Clement); however^2, the book is set when it was written, so it is probably reflecting the times. A mutual friend has claimed that Clement, who learned to fly (WWII) before he learned to drive, spoke of having to train himself out of an instinct to yank back on the wheel when approaching a crowded intersection. I’m not sure I believe this — I’ve had other indications that the connection is a fabulist — but it’s a cute story. He was also an all-around nice guy, at least in fandom; I wonder what it would have been like to be in one of his chemistry classes (which he taught for ~40 years). NB: if the 3-volume set you’re referring to is NESFA’s, it has selected short works (a thick book’s worth) plus all of the material related to Mission of Gravity and three other major novels.

  9. How many files to Babylon?
    Fifth score files and ten.
    Can I scroll there by pixel-light?
    Yes, and back again.

  10. @Chip Hitchcock: I met Clement (Harry Stubbs) a bunch of times; my mother was good friends with his wife, Mary. He was an all-around nice guy outside of fandom as well.

  11. PhilRM: Hal Clement was very fan friendly. A minor but funny story related to him happened when the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society voted the Forry Award to him. For some reason, that was reported by one publication as the “Folly Award.” He later won another award that came with a plaque where the “E” was left out of “lifetime achievement” (a result that sounded rather science fictional in its own way.) So in the end, he could lay claim to having won the Folly Award for Liftime Achievement.

  12. 11) I realize titles can’t be copyrighted, but The Rivet In Grandfather’s Neck is so odd and distinctive, and so closely identified with James Branch Cabell, that it seems a bit presumptuous for Elliott to use it.

    But that may just be me being old and grumpy. (Shakes metaphorical cane at the injustice of a world that doesn’t appease my every whim and preference.)

  13. 5) Jeopardy!
    It wasn’t actually a whole category, just one single question within a category devoted to “Awards and Prizes”.

  14. I loved both Children of Time and Children of Ruin. They are both awesome.

    While their stories are very distinct, Ruin builds quite heavily on the worldbuilding and the storytelling in Time, so they rather need to be read in sequence.

  15. @Rob Thornton:

    Give me that old time purple prose
    Those long sentences soothe the soul
    I reminisce about the pros of old
    And that old time purple prose

    Just take those old novels off the shelf
    I’ll read Lord Dunsany by myself
    I want some adjectives, sweet and low
    I like that old time purple prose

    Don’t try to keep me to a word count
    In ten minutes I’ll be past that amount
    I’ll savour adverbs Bulwer-Lytton chose
    In his old time purple prose

    Call it bad writing, call it what you will
    Edgar Rice Burroughs can thrill me still
    With each dependent clause my hunger grows
    For that old time purple prose.

  16. @Matthew Johnson: I think you wrote a song parody about me specifically … Excellent!

  17. @Chip: Hal/Harry was a great guy. He was a frequent attendee of my local con and I have a picture of my then-three-year-old son with Hal following a children’s program event. I’ve also heard that steering wheel story – I think it was printed on a display about Hal at MilPhil in 2001 (but I could be mis-remembering).

  18. There were 6 seasons of The Dead Zone TV series. “Short-lived” seems a little harsh.

    I was about to defend the longevity of that Michael and Shawn Piller-produced series as well. Six seasons on USA Network and consistently slightly above average. I enjoyed Anthony Michael Hall, David Ogden Stiers and the weird sound effect when Johnny Smith touched somebody and received a sudden plot transfusion.

    I tried to binge the show when it was free on Comcast Streampix but I couldn’t watch it quickly enough. The episodes needed time to breathe.

  19. @1, maybe it’s just me, but I find the concept of “non-fiction” books about wizardry in the Potterverse mildly amusing. Yes, I know, you can write non-fiction about fiction, but still…. (No, I won’t be buying them, unless I am assured that by studying them I can make my car fly.)

  20. @Matthew Johnson: most excellent indeed!

    As for The Dead Zone TV show, not only was it fairly long-lived, as TV shows go, but it was fairly decent, as far as genre TV shows go. One of the rare examples of an adaptation that worked well despite how little it had to do with the source material. 🙂

    Well, I was apparently born in Stephen King, which is no surprise, but I am a little surprised to find that I grew up in Ben Affleck.

  21. @Xtifr —

    Well, I was apparently born in Stephen King, which is no surprise, but I am a little surprised to find that I grew up in Ben Affleck.

    Ha — I was born in George Bush and grew up in Miley Cyrus and Shaquille O’Neal.

    You may pity me now. 😉

  22. I’m at about 36% for Record of the Spaceborn Few, and I’m enjoying it rather more than I enjoyed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet or A Closed and Common Orbit, so if anyone else has been dreading getting started on that one because the earlier installments didn’t do it for them: I think it’s a step up, at least so far, a nice, easy, third-novel-starting-to-hit-stride sort of feel to the prose and construction. I don’t think it will resolve my grumpiness for an earlier aspect of world-building, but it also hasn’t poked at it so overall, pretty happy so far.

    (I can’t speak for the science, though, which I recall bugged some people. As far as I’m concerned so long as the book is convinced of it and it doesn’t contradict itself, I’m good, I’m easy, I’m not going to check their work. So that might still bug people a bit during the sections where they explain how the ships work. Or it might not! I am not a science person.)

  23. 17) I was born in Winona Ryder but we moved to John Madden when I was just a year or two old.

  24. Okay, lessee.
    Can’t find the town I was actually born in, but maybe will later.

    Spent much of my childhood in Ellen Pompeo and John Adams.

    Have lived in H. Jon Benjamin, Albert DeSalvo, Mike Capuano, Robert Frost (the one in MA, not NH), and now in Bette Davis.

  25. I lived in Vanessa Ray for several years, when I was a kid. My mother was from Vivian Vance. (That map really needs a zoom control.)

  26. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 5/31/19 Moon Pixel, Wider Than A File, I’m Scrolling You In Style Someday | File 770

  27. Unfortunately, the map is only for the US, though if there were a German equivalent, I strongly assume that I’d live in Karl Dall.

    Looking at the US map, I lived for almost a year in Jessica Alba and have family in George Clooney.

  28. I spent my childhood in John Belushi. (My eldest sister was in high school with him, but was a few years younger, so they didn’t share any classes.)

  29. @Kip
    It’s not at all obvious how to zoom in, and even less obvious how to zoom out. (They’re apparently assuming everyone is looking at it on something with a touch screen. They should know better.)

  30. Ok, here we go. I was born in Jeff VanderMeer (Bellefonte, PA) while my parents were students at Joe Paterno (Penn State). We moved first to Toronto, Canada, then to Aaron Rodgers (Beaverton, OR). Then we moved to nearby Steve Jobs (Portland, OR) and then back eastward to Scott Bjugstad (New Brighton, MN). I went to college in Jenna Fischer (St. Louis, MO) while my parents moved to Matthew McConaughey (Austin, TX). I moved to George W. Bush (Houston, TX) to be nearby. Finally I moved to Elon Musk (Los Angeles).

  31. Looking for ways to make it work here. I don’t have a touch screen or a mouse, just the glide pad on this laptop. What worked for me was two fingers on the glide pad and dragging straight ‘down.’ Two fingers in the expanding motion just increases magnification of my screen without zooming in. I’m theorizing that clicking on any spot in the map with a mouse and dragging ‘down’ could give you meaningful zoom-in. I tried command and plus sign, but that’s my system’s way of making the type and graphics bigger (useless and counterproductive in this case).

    The only thing I’ve found that really zooms in for me is the ‘click on it’ (which my system does with two fingers) and drag ‘down.’ But in the last couple of minutes, I’ve found that it will rotate and do a sort of perspective shift when I click and drag with one finger. Useless but impressive.

    They should indeed know better. I have now clicked everything on the page that might or might not give any sort of explanation of how to navigate, and there’s nothing of the sort. They assume that whatever plan they’ve gone for is intuitive. How very ‘Apple’ of them. I’ve now spent an additional fifteen minutes yerking around with this thing, and none of the things I’ve tried (like the plus key and combinations with it) have gotten me any further than the thing I lucked onto early in the process. If I hadn’t hit upon it when I did, I’d likely have given up and gone on to the next thing. (This one didn’t rate much of my time. None of the names associated with my places got much beyond “Oh, I’ve heard of them” in a couple of cases, and “Who?” on the rest.)

  32. @Kip —

    Looking for ways to make it work here. I don’t have a touch screen or a mouse, just the glide pad on this laptop. What worked for me was two fingers on the glide pad and dragging straight ‘down.’ Two fingers in the expanding motion just increases magnification of my screen without zooming in.

    Huh. Maybe the guys who made it work on a Mac? If I use the two-fingers-expanding-motion on my Mac laptop’s trackpad, the map zooms in just fine.


  33. Contrarius: I’m on a MacBook Pro, which I probably didn’t mention. The expanding gesture makes the image bigger cosmetically and upsizes all screen furniture (which then squeezes out the actual info part). Bottom line for me is that I’m not all that interested in the map anyway, for reasons similar to the Eight Deadly Words. My home town had a well-known SC justice on the track team, but the searches seem to prefer a guy on a TV show I’ll never knowingly turn to. I’m just too intellectchual and sensitive for this world.

  34. @Meredith

    I can’t speak for the science, though . . . so long as the book is convinced of it and it doesn’t contradict itself, I’m good.

    I haven’t read this one, but I agree that consistency makes up for a lot. (At Microsoft, we used to joke that “consistency is better than truth.”) The “positronic brain” in Asimov’s robot stories is an example I like to cite, since, in scientific terms, it’s pretty much nonsense, but his treatment of it is so consistent and matter-of-fact, that most readers easily suspend disbelief for it–even though its properties are at the heart of the plots of most of his robot stories.

    A genuine error, though, just gets worse through repetition. (E.g. if the author thinks methane is liquid at room temperature.) I find even those are easy to forgive in older fiction where the author couldn’t have known the right answer, but not in newer stuff.

    What I get out-of-joint about is stories that are structured like hard SF but where the science is sloppy or just flat wrong. Even with hard SF, though, I’ll forgive one or (maybe) two contrary-to-fact things if they’re a) introduced promptly and b) essential to the plot. E.g. the sandstorm at the start of The Martian isn’t really possible on Mars, but it’s essential to get the plot going.

    The absolute worst are stories where the author drops in scientific-sounding nonsense for no apparent purpose other than to make the story sound more science-fictiony. Especially if it happens every few paragraphs. This seems to happen a lot in translated SF for some reason. And in TV and Movies.

  35. Mark Sheppard, my favorite genre villain, also played Crowley, the sardonic demon, on years and years of G/o/o/d O/m/e/n/s Supernatural.

  36. @ Jerry – yes, he was fantastic in that. Watched Good Omens a couple of days ago and was surprised to see another demon with the same name. I wonder if there’s any reason for this, other than a vague link with Aleister? I’m a huge fan of the Ozzy Osborne song too. Favourite line: “Won’t you ride my white horse….. It’s symbolic of course.”

  37. @Greg Hullender

    I think of you as someone who does care quite a lot (and knows a lot) about the science. Whereas I care about it on a level best described as “magic with jargon” so when I said I’m easily pleased, I really meant it. I know enough to know that the Wayfarers canon perpetual motion machines are impossible, but I don’t really care. Physics must just work differently there, I say to myself, maybe methane is liquid at room temperature in fiction-land, and I move swiftly on to whatever the plot and characters are up to. No science fiction book is ever going to get a poor review on science from me unless they change their mind about it halfway through.

    (On the other hand, I have never forgiven The Big Bang Theory for getting World of Warcraft wrong, so let it never be said that I’m consistent and reasonable about facts in fiction. But that was partly because of how they got it wrong. TBBT was weirdly enthusiastic about making geeky hobbies look bad.)

    I believe Andy Weir has talked in interviews about making up the sandstorm thing (and, iirc, being embarrassed about a scientist he admired seeing/reading it as a result), but, well, I was cool with pretending that in Martian-world it just Works Like That anyway, so even if he’d just got it wrong I’d’ve been fine with it.

  38. Greg: A fine solution for those who have a mouse, which I don’t. Still missing my old Wacom tablet with the mouse, but the company abandoned it. Presently using an Intuos pen/fingers tablet which can’t be persuaded to click since I had to replace the computer with one that wasn’t a pile of vaporous slag.

    And as the parent of an adopted child, I wish you two success. It’s not an easy process (and I’m sorry, though not surprised, to find they might be making it even harder for you than it was for us), but it’s worth it. I am pretty sure I don’t need to tell you to keep us posted.

    Meredith: There are multiple kinds of plausibility. A favorite remark of mine back when I was in an animation apa was “Wile E. Coyote would never say that!”

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