Pixel Scroll 5/28/16 The Boy Who Cried Woof

(1) WISCON GOHS. Justine Larbalestier, Sofia Samatar, and Nalo Hopkinson.

(2) AMERICAN SNARKER. John Z. Upjohn is at WisCon, too.

(3) FIVE-OH. Meanwhile, Peter S. Beagle was signing at Balticon 50.

(4) WHAT IT IS. George R.R. Martin made something clear during his Balticon 50 appearance.

(5) 1980 HUGOS. Nicholas Whyte has located a copy of the 1980 Hugo Awards voting statistics. He discusses the competition in a post for From the Heart of Europe.

The earliest Hugos for which I have been able to find full voting numbers are the 1980 Hugo awards given at Noreascon Two.  The details were release in December 1980, some months after the convention was over, and are available in a seven-page PDF here (the last two pages of the scan are in the wrong order).

563 nomination votes were received, which was a record at the time but was exceeded four times in the rest of the 1980s.  (See George Flynn’s records.)  Nominations seem to have then dipped again until the recent rise.

The 1788 votes for the final ballot were also a record at the time, and a record which as far as I can tell stood for over thirty years until 2100 voted for the 2011 Hugos at Renovation.

(Incidentally I find it fascinating that participation in Site Selection was well ahead of the Hugos for most of the 1980s and 1990s, peaking at 2509 in 1992, a tight-fought campaign between the eventual 1995 Intersection in Glasgow and a rival bid from Atlanta.)

The closest result in 1980 was for the Gandalf Grand Master Award for life achievement in fantasy writing, won by Ray Bradbury by a single vote,mailed in late from England, ahead of Anne McCaffrey, 747 to 746….

The next closest result was the Hugo for Best Novel, which went to Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradiseby 19 votes, 671 to 652 for John Varley’s Titan.  I have to feel that the Hugo voters got it right (even if Jo Walton disagrees – see also excellent comments); it’s a long time since I read Titan but I feel it was really a book of its time, whereas the Clarke is a satisfying capstone to a crucially important career in the genre. The Fountains of Paradise won the Nebula as well that year, but was only third in the Locus poll behind Titan (which won) and Frederik Pohl’s Jem.  It was also nominated for the 1979 BSFA Award but lost to J.G. Ballard’s The Unlimited Dream Company.

(6) ANIMATED ROD SERLING INTERVIEW. Blank on Blank, the PBS video series that creates animated videos from old audio-only interviews with celebrities, writers, and pop culture icons, has given the treatment to a recording of Rod Serling taking questions from Australian radio personality Binny Lum in 1963.

Well, it’s a very beautiful day, and it’s made infinitely more pleasant for me by the fact that I am going to talk to Rod Serling. So many of you have enjoyed his television shows. The Twilight Zone I think is the one that everybody talks about. I’ve just confessed to Rod that I haven’t seen it.

Believe me, Binny, some of my best friends are quite unaware of this program back in the States, including relatives, I might add….

(7) ROLLING A 770 CHARACTER. Kind words from Tim Atkinson who launches his series of Hugo nominee review posts with a look at File 770.

It helps that – occasional op ed articles aside – the blog not only links back to the original stories but quotes liberally from the sources themselves. Glyer and other contributors usually confine themselves to introducing each item rather than responding to it, although occasionally a little mild frustration can be detected.

In short – if File 770’s had an DnD alignment, it would be Lawful Neutral, or at least trying to live up to it. Which is really what you need from a news service.

The File 770 community, on the other hand, existing in a ecosystem of comments on individual blog posts, is all about opinions plural. Whether it’s taking a position on the stories of the day, swapping book or recipe recommendations or engaging in an epic comic riff about what to say to the Balrog in Moria (archived here), the threads are always insightful. Occasionally a little hot-tempered, but by comparison to Twitter (say) they’re a paragon of civility. 🙂

(8) NOT ENOUGH SPACE. Ashley Pollard steps up at Galactic Journey with “[May 27, 1961] Red Star, Blue Star (May 1961 UK Fandom Report)”

….To summarize Great Britain’s role in space, we lag far behind both United States and the Soviet Union, our government having cancelled Blue Streak early last year, which was a medium-range ballistic missile that would’ve made a good basis for a British rocket.  It was being tested at the Woomera Rocket Range in Australia (named, aptly, after an Aboriginal spear throwing aid).  Woomera has plenty of room to fire rockets into space, unlike the Home Counties or anywhere else for that matter on the British Isles…..

However, that still leaves us with Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, which I haven’t mentioned before.  He is the eponymous hero of the Eagle comic’s lead strip.  Dan Dare is the lead test pilot of the “Interplanet Space Fleet”, whose adventures in space are still delighting its readers after ten years of weekly installments.  The series was created by Frank Hampson who consulted Arthur C. Clarke on the comic strips’ science.  While lots of spaceships have been lost, favourites like Dan Dare’s own Anastasia fly around the Solar system rescuing those in need of help, and defeating the various nefarious plans of enemies like the Mekon: large headed green alien overlords from Venus (and I expect you thought I would say Mars – still green though).

(9) BUT MORE SPACE THAN BEFORE. They finally succeeded in inflating the new room at the ISS.

NASA on Saturday successfully expanded and pressurized an add-on room at the International Space Station two days after aborting the first attempt when it ran into problems.

The flexible habitat, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), slowly extended 67 inches (170 centimeters) soon after 4 pm (2000 GMT) following more than seven hours during which astronaut Jeff Williams released short blasts of air into the pod’s walls from the orbiting lab using a manual valve.


  • Born May 28, 1908 — Ian Fleming, creator of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I borrowed from the library while in junior high, assuming from the title it naturally would be another spy adventure like his James Bond.

(11) THE FUNNY PAGES. Will R. recommends this Hobotopia cartoon for a laugh.

And John King Tarpinian appreciates the references in today’s Brevity.

(12) STAY ON THE ISLAND. It’s the place to be, next time you’re in New York — “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ lair listed on AirBNB”.

An AirBNB listing is offering fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the opportunity to spend a night in the reptilian crime fighters’ secret lair.

The listing posted by the group’s very own Leonardo allows up to six guests to rent the Turtles’ three bedroom lair in Manhattan for just $10 a night.

“This high-tech dojo is fully loaded…a glow in the dark basketball court, a retro arcade, more video games with a pretty sweet tv wall…anything for hanging ninja-style,” the listing states.

While guests will get the opportunity to take full advantage of the lair and possibly even grab a bite of pizza, the Turtles themselves will not be present on the property due to their commitment to protecting the city.

(13) COMING TO VIMEO. A Neil Gaiman documentary will soon be posted online. The trailer says it can be pre-ordered for $12.99.

The documentary Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously will be exclusively shown on Vimeo, starting on July 8th. The film chronicles Gaiman’s childhood in Portsmouth UK to his initial success in writing The Sandman comic series to his more recent work with novels such as Coraline and The Graveyard Bookwhere he became the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work. His novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.


(14) ANCIENT BOMB. Entertainment Weekly tells us “Mel Brooks was ‘ready to jump off a roof’ over sci-fi fiasco Solarbabies”.

How Did This Get Made? …recruited SlashFilm writer Blake Harris to speak with the makers — or, perhaps, “perpetrators” would be a better word — of the films featured in the podcast.

Harris can now claim to have struck bona fide gold with an interview in which comedy legend Mel Brooks talks about his backing of 1986’s Solarbabies, a sci-fi movie starring Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, and Lukas Haas. Don’t remember the film? Doesn’t matter. The always entertaining Blazing Saddles director, who exec-produced the movie through his Brooksfilms production company, remembers it like it was yesterday. In particular, Brooks has excellent recall of how the budget ballooned from a modest $5 million to a jaw-dropping $23 million…

(15) IT’S ABOUT TIME. Southern California Public Radio’s “Off-Ramp” segment delivers “DIY Film Fest: 6 time-travel flicks you’ll go back to (sorry) time after time” by Tim Cogshell, of CinemaInMind.

Off-Ramp has been after me asking me to do another DIY film festival, and I’ve been asked to talk sci-fi flicks with the sci-fi nerds over at the DigiGods podcast.  They have a great audience and I know they are going to want to talk time-travel movies. Sci-fi nerds always want to talk time travel movies. So let’s kill two birds with one stone.

1. “Looper” (2012)

Let’s start with a modern film that’s fast becoming a cult classic. The nerds love Director Rian Johnson’s 2012 time-travel thriller “Looper,” and so do I.  It stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the same guy from different moments in time. What I like most about Looper is that it’s a love story wrapped in a thriller hidden in a time-travel movie.  And that it’s Johnson’s own original script. He worked it all out beat-by-beat in his head and “Looper” is tight as a drum.

(16) FANCY MEETING YOU HERE. Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison’s Unity Speech includes video clips of various pundits – including a brief excerpt from a YouTube conversation between Vox Day and Stefan Molyneux. Their snippet appears at the 2:00:10 mark.

As Cally observed, “He’s one of the few people in the video who’s actually got his name displayed; most are either anonymous people or, I suppose, people who you’re supposed to recognize on sight.”

(17) HARD SELL. Originally for those who GET HARD, this shirt is now HARD TO GET. Teespring lists the “Legends of Science Fiction” t-shirt as sold out two days ago. If you click the “I still want one” button they’ll take your e-mail address.

Tingle t shirt

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Andrew Porter, and Will R., for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

125 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/28/16 The Boy Who Cried Woof

  1. @ Galactic Journey: I have met Mr. Beagle on several occasions, and he is indeed a wonderful person. He was GoH at my home con some years back, and received some very painful news late Saturday afternoon — but you would never have been able to tell from his demeanor during the remainder of the con. He’s a real trouper.

    @ Hampus: Mileage obviously varies. I got such a strong sense of personality from the narrative in “Cat Pictures, Please” that it just dragged me straight thru the story. Hmmm… now that I think of it, “emergent AI” seems to be a class of character that really appeals to me; I just finished re-reading Janet Kagan’s HellSpark, and was delighted all over again by Maggy.

  2. Hampus Eckerman: I have no problem with first person narrative. That is not my kryptonite. My real kryptonite is present tense. There are extremely few works written in present tense that I can read. I only lasted half a page of Charles Stross “Rule 34”. The exception was Envy of Angels.

    But first person narrative where the first person has no direct interaction with anybody, there is no dialogue, no environment? I gave up on reading Cat Pictures, Please first time I tried. When it was a finalist, I had to start 3-4 times before I could finish. Clearly not my thing at all.

    I’m sorry that present tense and thought narratives don’t work for you. When they’re done well, they’re fantastic. 😐

    High-density bad grammar and spelling errors do the same to me — which is why I’ve never yet mustered the ambition to read Feersum Endjinn.

  3. @ -JJ – the trick to Feersum Endjinn is reading the funetik bits in a Scottish accent. Maybe. (I think it’s a piss-take of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, partly because that narrator is one of the nicest people to ever appear in a Banks novel but with the literary voice of a Glasgow toughie – however I don’t want to spoil the idea by checking and finding out I’m wrong.)

  4. I didn’t even notice the present tense and second person in Rule 34 the first time I read it, because it was integrated so well. Stross had it sneak up on you, by starting with an email addressed to “you”.

    Generally, I’d consider that sort of thing “stunt writing”, and wouldn’t be all that impressed, but in this case, it was done so smoothly and transparently that I really couldn’t complain at all.

    (Not to say I don’t understand why it might bother someone. I do. Just saying that it worked for me, even though I’m not particularly sympathetic to the concept.)

  5. After rereading Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth, I feel like complaints about mere tense and POV need to up their game. If one is going to be irritated at a narrative style, one might as well aim high and be irritated by an entire novel written in irregular verse.

    (Well, *I* loved it. Hence the reread. But as a first novel, that took some chutzpah.)

    (Oh, hi again, btw.)

  6. “High-density bad grammar and spelling errors do the same to me — which is why I’ve never yet mustered the ambition to read Feersum Endjinn.

    Feersum Endjinn was thrown at the wall of a hotel room in Manilla and for all I know still lies on the floor right below.

  7. I find myself drawn to 2nd person after being completely blown away by Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveller when I was younger.

    Sadly that led me to pick up The Night Circus – a book that I am very much not the target demographic for – because I read the first page and thought “woo 2nd person narrative!” I did, however, give it to my cousin once I’d ascertained that it wasn’t a book I’d be happy with, and I think she enjoyed it. So some good came of it.

    I’m also a sucker for inserts from diaries/letters etc, a la Chuck Wendig’s chapter openings in the Mookie Pearl books and interludes in Blackbirds. Sadly, this fascination led me to pick up Dreams & Shadows – which, well, wow, I don’t think I’ve been more annoyed by the prose in a book before.

  8. @Oneiros

    Letter and diary format brings up my favorite Steven Brust book (not to forget co-author Emma Bull!): Freedom and Necessity. Told entirely in epistlolary format, a former Chartist revolutionary in 19th century England finds himself on the run from the government, his former compatriots, and a supernatural conspiracy. Arguably it may be more historical fiction than SFF. The supernatural elements are never explicitly declared real and might be a mundane cult. It’s the one Brust my girlfriend and I seriously disagree on. Generally, I like Brust’s works where she loves them, but she absolutely hated this book. Personally I’d give it highest marks though. Might be worth checking out if you enjoy books framed as letters and journal entries.

  9. Nigel: the trick to Feersum Endjinn is reading the funetik bits in a Scottish accent.

    I’m pretty sure that the trick to reading Feersum Endjinn is having ready access to a winery.

    However, I will take your suggestion under advisement, should I ever be so foolish as to undertake engagement with that book. 😉

  10. I’ve never understood being unable to stand second person or present tense or whatever. They’re all just different possibilities; I love ’em all. I love third-person past, too, but it’s usually not the voice that comes to me when writing.

    But really I was going to post about a recipe book–not SFF but there’s a really good Little House cookbook that has both real recipes from the period and updated versions for people cooking today. Made me feel very aware of the wonderful variety of foods we get today, as opposed to fried cornbread three meals a day (exaggerating but not by much). Worth checking out if you’re interested in those books or that period.

    So: variety is good! I guess is my message for the day.

  11. @L

    Good point on variety! The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, and others from it’s generation, tend to favor exotic ingredients, spices, and such. I’ve wondered whether this is just the ingredients were less exotic then, or if the increased availability of foods and spices, with refrigerated transport, led to an exaggerated desire for the now available exotic.

    As a family we’ve ended up collecting recipes (informally!) from the 19th century and such. It just sort of happened. Go to a historical farm, or fort, or whatever museum and buy some of the little recipe books from the gift shop to try out when we get home. Most of them are much simpler in ingredients and spices (except of course where they aren’t) . Certain ingredients, like corn meal, tend to recur a lot. Definitely a different dynamic.

  12. Seconding L, on tense. I love present to bits and I’m only weird about second person because it reads to me like a Choose Your Own Adventure story. That may or may not be a curse.

  13. Present tense makes me feel like it is a movie manuscript.

    Detective Hardcore picks up the banana.

    * Director: No, you need more PASSION. Think of Titanic. Project the banana. RELEASE the banana.*

  14. Rail:

    “Just curious what you thought of “So Much Cooking“.”

    Sorry. Can’t read it. And by that mean that if I start to read it, I find out that I have started to do something else and forgotten about it somewhere after a few paragraphs. :/

  15. Feersum Endjinn spent a long time in Mt. TBR, because I wasn’t too sure I could cope with the language style. However, once I got going, it was fine.
    [Yes, the imagined Scottish accent is the way to go.]

  16. @Ghostbird:

    It helps (I think) if you understand it as drawing on the pulpy-but-philosophical tradition of French SF comics.

    If you want to talk pulpy-but-philosophical French SF, I’ve watched Les Maîtres du Temps all the way through. Without drugs, even.

    @Kurt Busiek:

    The one I’d rather have is a more faithful-to-the-book MARY POPPINS. She’s got a creepy side. Get Emma Thompson to write it and star…

    To which I just have to say: snakeskin belt.

    Granted, the interstitial segments with the twin babies and the crow have probably been ruined now by Look Who’s Talking.

    For all the Chitty-chitty-bang-bang movie’s flaws, it did at least get the car’s licence plate correct. (And yes, the licence plate was a plot point. GEN 11, if you’re interested. Genii, the plural of genie.)

    Though the car in the book has a bit of a nasty side as well. Button lights up reddish-pink saying ‘Push this button’. Potts doesn’t push it, wondering what is going on. Button changes to a more angry purplish-red and now says ‘Push this button, IDIOT.’

  17. @Various: I’m another who doesn’t like present tense. I used to hate it; now I just strongly dislike it. But there are exceptions; I’ve enjoyed a few present tense stories (like “Envy of Angels”). Also, listening to present tense (again, like “Envy of Angels”) doesn’t seem to annoy me quite as much as reading it. I was at a reading once and told the author at the end how I usually didn’t like present tense, but what she’d read worked great for me; IIRC, she pointed out out maybe it’s because she was reading it. I’m not sure that always helps, but that’s my current working theory.

    @GSLamb: I see several Sherlock-themed cookbooks out there. Maybe try another one? 😉 (Mostly kidding!)

    @L: Thanks for the Little House cookbook mention! Wow, it’s still in print (or back in print); it looks like it was from the 70s. Anyway, this looks like a nifty gift idea for my chef, I mean, my other half.

  18. Just read So Much Cooking. First reaction: Wow! So much wow! A Hugo worthy story if I’ve ever seen one. I’ll probably read it a second pass but need to de-maudlin first…

  19. My copy of the Little House cookbook is probably permanently broken open to the Birds’ Nest Pudding recipe. I’m not sure I ever tried anything else from it, but the description of that dish thoroughly hooked me. Wait, I think I tried making Vanity Cakes, which didn’t quite work with the whole-wheat flour my mom had.

  20. Second person does indeed have a bit of the flavor of a choose-your-own-adventure or an old computer adventure game. Which, I think, is why Charlie Stross used it in Halting State and Rule 34. Or at least part of the reason. Halting State is about a cop investigating a crime that took place in an on-line game, so second-person present-tense seems very fitting. (Which may be why I didn’t even notice it in that book until someone pointed it out.) It’s slightly less fitting in Rule 34, since there’s no actual game involved, but then it turns out there’s another reason for it, which is a bit spoilerish, but does indeed make sense if you finish the book.

    Plus, Stross was relatively subtle about it. He uses the word “you” sparingly. The first instance in Rule 34 is more than halfway down the front page. With the exception of the current-focus character, most of the writing is simply third person descriptions of the people, places, and events. It doesn’t beat you over the head with “ooh, look how clever I’m being.” At least in my opinion.

    As for funetik speling, it can be annoying, but I’m willing to attempt it if the payoff is good enough. I managed to finish and even enjoy Riddley Walker, and that not only had funetik speling but mild language drift, to really confuse matters. And Flowers for Algernon was assigned reading when I was in high school, but I managed to enjoy it anyway, and it makes very good use of the trope at times.

  21. World Weary on May 29, 2016 at 6:56 pm said:
    In my Star Trek head canon, people cook as a hobby. When you create a new interesting combination, you reverse-run it through your replicator. Celebrity chefs have 23rd century blogs announcing new creations so their Twitter-equivalent followers can enjoy the new creations. In this post-scarcity world, people only work for fun.

    That’s full canon too. Ben Sisko was an avid cook, and his father ran a restaurant on Earth.

  22. Just to update on PDFs – I’m finding that the formatting of some of the samples in the Hugo packet doesn’t convert well to Kindle; however, iBooks reads them very clearly.

  23. Nicholas Whyte: Thanks for that caution. Though I must say that your “CONVERT” instruction produced a thoroughly readable Kindle version of the packet’s Fifth Season PDF. I didn’t know that could be done before you mentioned it.

Comments are closed.