Pixel Scroll 5/28/17 No File For You Till You Scroll All Your Pixels

(1) THANKED AND EXCUSED. Mattie Brahan, in a non-public post, said her husband, Darrell Schweitzer, was told he won’t be needed as a Readercon 28 program participant –a piece of news Barry Longyear exaggerated in his public post as “banning”.

Readercon has been banning (“disinviting”) former guests from being guests, Darrell Schweitzer being the most recent about whom I’ve heard. I originally thought it was for political reasons (I was part of the Northern Maine Rebellion), but apparently the reason was age, experience, having been around for too long. It’s sort of like having an AA meeting and forbidding the attendance of anyone who has more than one year of sobriety….

Is it really because Schweitzer is too old? There are any number of men and women listed as part of the forthcoming Readercon program who are not young.

(2) THE FOREVER QUEUE. Io9 reports yesterday at Disneyland “Lines Snaked Through Entire Park for Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Ride Debut”.

Looks like the hype was real. Disney’s ride for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! opened at Disney’s California Adventure on Saturday… and the effects could literally be felt everywhere in the park.

The Pandora section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom also opened in Florida over the weekend. It took fans about two hours just to get into the Pandora park, and ride lines were averaging about three to four hours for rides. Hell, some people reporting three-hour lines to get into the damn gift shops. Insane amount of standing and slowly walking aside, fans seemed happy with both Mission: Breakout! and Pandora.

(3) OPEN CASTING. Yes, this needs to happen. Emily Asher-Perrin and Leah Schnelbach team up to answer “Who Could Play This Merry Fellow? Dreamcasting Tom Bombadil” at Tor.com.

Emily pointed out that there should have been a DVD extra of Bombadil material, and then, naturally, that led to a dreamcasting of Bombadil. We gave ourselves a few restrictions–these had to be people who would have fit the role in 1999-ish, when they would have been hired for The Fellowship of the Ring, and all of the actors have been cast on the assumption that supermodel Claudia Schiffer is playing Goldberry…

(4) NEGATORY, GOOD BUDDY. As for my own attempt to cast the next Doctor Who — “Would Hayley Atwell Take The Role Of Doctor Who? Here’s What She Says”.

Hayley Atwell is frequent on fan’s most wanted lists, and while Atwell would likely kill it in the role, what does she actually think of all this? She wants that particular role to go to someone else.

I don’t want to play it. No. It’s just not my thing, but I really respect it. I’m a big fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, though. She plays the lead in Fleabag. There were talks of her being the next Doctor, and she’s so funny and eccentric and unique; she’d be great. I can’t really see anyone other than her playing it.

Appearing at Heroes and Villains Fanfest in London (via Geekfeed), Hayley Atwell made it quite clear that she doesn’t want to be the next Doctor.

(5) WHAT YOU MISSED. Chaz Boston Baden reports on his party at this weekend’s BayCon:

“A Bear’s Picnic” closed at 3:30 am, when the last four people left. As far as I know, no noise complaints were received about out party, even when Diane Osborne started singing about her rooster being dead….

Curious as to what song that might be I Googled “lyrics dead rooster” –you’d be surprised how many songs feature them.

(6) BODY WORK. Camestros Felapton went to the movies. He has posted the autopsy —“Review: Alien Covenant”.

…Covenant and its predecessor Prometheus are both variations on the theme of the original Alien. The same elements have to appear (some of which are shared with Aliens films), the horseshoe ship and the undiscovered planet and the body horror. The tone is serious and visuals are striking.

Covenant’s cast is sufficiently good and the dialogue strong enough that while the characterisation is not deep there is at least a sense of these people having some depth of character –it’s just that we don’t get to see it before they variously die horribly. Looking back at the original film, I suppose the same could have been said of it –even Ripley….

(7) FAN FILM. The Verge says “This Harry Potter prequel fan film looks even better than Fantastic Beasts” –and they’re right, it’s pretty slick.

The story follows a witch named Grisha Mac Laggen (heir to Griffindor and original character to this film), who suspects trouble when Hepzibah Smith, a descendant of the Hufflepuff family, was found murdered. The case goes cold, but Laggen suspects that there’s some sort of dark magic at play, and she believes that former Hogwarts student and future dark wizard Tom Marvolo Riddle is involved somehow. Visually, the teaser looks stunning, with visual effects and production design that feel like they fit alongside that of the official Harry Potter films.



(9) A BIT OF FAME. Contributor Francis Hamit’s letter to the editors of TIME Magazine got a mention:

May 25, 2017


Massimo Calabresi’s May 29 story about Russia’s use of social media to influence Americans was a reminder to be “wary of the source of that liked/upvoted social post,” wrote Sanjeev Verma of Sunnyvale, Calif. However, as Francis Hamit of Sherman Oaks, Calif., pointed out, foreign attempts to sway American politics aren’t necessarily new. “It’s just that we are finally paying attention,” he noted.

Hamit adds, “What TIME used was the tag line of a longer letter about Soviet €˜active measures’ during the Vietnam War.”

(10) SHAZAM. Adweek tells about a recent public service campaign: “Shazam Suddenly Started Forgetting Song Titles to Highlight a Little-Known Fact About Alzheimer’s”.

We’re naturally inclined to attribute human characteristics to the apps that continuously follow us around, which is part of why Siri is so amusing and Alexa so charmingly useful. But for Alzheimer’s Research U.K., agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam–the ability to forget…


The purpose of the campaign was to tell young people that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just concern seniors; it can affect people as young as 40 years old. Over 40,000 people under 65 are living with dementia in the U.K. alone.

The effort ran through the month of April in the U.K. In mere hours, the agency says, “The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page. (Hopefully they remembered their credit card information.)

(11) HUGO SHORTS. Camestros Felapton continues sharing his ballot, and the reasons therefore: “Hugo 2017: Short Story”.

  1. “Seasons of Glass and Iron” Amal El-Mohtar It had a tough job against strong competition but I do think this one stood out. The story takes two elements from lesser-known fairy tales: a woman who has to live on top of a glass mountain and a woman who has to walk the earth in iron shoes until their soles are worn away. El-Mohtar captures the atmosphere of the stories but also turns them to her own purposes.

(12) HUGO LONGS. Ethan Anderton’s Twitter robots made me look, but it was later pointed out to me that the material had been thieved from Mark Kaedrin, so here’s the direct link to Mark — “Hugo Awards: The Dark Forest and Death’s End”.

Those ideas that evoke the fabled SF goal of Sense of Wonder are what make these books work. The more sociological and philosophical aspects of the story are a little less focused and successful, leading to some inconsistency in terms of characters and pacing that perhaps make the series too long and pull the books down a peg or two. I suspect some things are lost in translation here, but this is not meant as a slight on Ken Liu (who translated the first and third books in the series), just an acknowledgement that translations naturally produce, for example, awkward dialog and pacing. I’ll put this on me too, as reading a book from another culture always presents challenges that I’ll readily admit I’m not always equal to. However, most of my complaints are far outweighed by what this series gets right, and this will rank high on my Hugo ballot, though I don’t know that it will unseat my current frontrunner (which remains Ninefox Gambit).

(13) THE DAMN DOGS DON’T LIKE IT. WIRED ponders “Why Are Colleges So Hostile to Fantasy Writers?”

For decades aspiring fantasy writers have been subjected to dismissive behavior from college professors who disparage genre literature, even though such professors often admit they’ve never actually read any fantasy or science fiction. This sort of hostility is unfortunately alive and well today, as college freshman Alina Sichevaya can attest.

“I’d heard everyone else’s horror stories, because occasionally this comes up on Twitter, and people will talk about their college experience,” Sichevaya says in Episode 257 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “But I definitely wasn’t expecting such a strong response from my professor about genre fiction.”

Sichevaya says she attempted to defend fantasy, and to recommend high-quality examples to her professor, but she’s not optimistic it’ll do much good.

(14) HOW TO LOSE THE SALE. Stay away from these if you want to sell to Dave — “Dave Farland’s 10 Points to Avoid in Writing Short Fiction” at Writers of the Future.

…Seriously, though, I sometimes wish that I could explain to a young writer why I’m passing on a story. So I’m going to talk about it here.

Here are ten reasons why I reject stories quickly–usually within the first page:

  1. The story is unintelligible.Very often I’ll get submissions that just don’t make sense. Often, these seem to be non-English speakers who are way off in both the meaning of words, their context, or in their syntax, but more often it’s just clumsiness. I’ve seen college presidents who couldn’t write. But this lack of care is on a gradient scale, from “I can’t figure out what this is about” to “I don’t want to bother trying to figure this out” to “there are minor problems in this story.” For example, yesterday a promising story called a dungeon the “tombs.” Was it a mistake, or a metaphor? I don’t think it was a metaphor. The author had made too many other errors where the “almost correct” word was used.
  2. The story is unbelievable. “Johnny Verve was the smartest kid on earth, and he was only six. He was strongest one, and the most handsome, too. But the coolest part was when he found out he had magical powers!” At that point, I’m gone, and not just because there were four uses of “was” in three sentences…

(15) TROLLING. Squawks over women-only screenings of Wonder Woman in Texas.

Now unimpressed men are lambasting the idea on Facebook, claiming they are being discriminated against.

“Great, let us know when you have guys-only screenings of Thor, Spider-Man, Star Wars, etc. Let’s see you walk the walk now that you set this precedence [sic],” one man wrote.

“Very sorry if you feel excluded,” came the reply on the [Alamo DraftHouse] cinema’s official account.

(16) ALL WOUND UP. Picture of cyclones on Jupiter’s south pole: “Juno Spacecraft Reveals Spectacular Cyclones At Jupiter’s Poles”.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has spotted giant cyclones swirling at Jupiter’s north and south poles.

That’s just one of the unexpected and puzzling findings being reported by the Juno science team.

Juno arrived at Jupiter last summer. It’s the first spacecraft to get a close-up look at the planet’s poles. It’s in an orbit that takes it skimming close to the cloud tops of the gas giant once every 53 days.

(17) HOW TO TALK TO FILM CRITICS AT MOVIES. The BBC trashes the movie of Gaiman’s “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”: “This is one of the worst films ever made”.

It may seem harsh to say that How to Talk to Girls at Parties is one of the worst films ever made, given that it isn’t a cynical studio blockbuster, but an indie passion project with a budget that wouldn’t pay for the Botox on most Hollywood productions. But this shambolic punks-meet-aliens rom-com is directed by John Cameron Mitchell, the acclaimed auteur behind Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s also adapted from a short story by Neil Gaiman, it has costumes by the triple-Oscar-winning Sandy Powell, and it features Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning. If nothing else, then, it should seem vaguely professional. Instead, it’s like a shoddy school play put on by a drama teacher who thinks he’s cool for liking the Sex Pistols.

(18) MONSTROUS HIT. Carl Slaughter notes: “The Munsters wasn’t just a horror sitcom. It was a cultural phenomenon. After only 2 seasons and 70 episodes, it was buried by another cultural phenomenon: Batman.”

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Mark Kaedrin, Chip Hitchcock, Francis Hamit, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

118 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/28/17 No File For You Till You Scroll All Your Pixels

  1. lurkertype: Won’t it be wonderful?! New stuff all the time, a variety of different authors, looking to the future — why, it’ll be positively science-fictional.

    And a hell of a lot less whining and crying by spoiled babies who believe that they are entitled to demand whatever they want, and to be treated as more extra-special and important than everyone else just because it always used to be that way, back when a whole lot of other people got nothing. 🙂

  2. And going by Readercon’s guest list, which includes Gary K. Wolfe, John Clute, Ellen Datlow and John Crowley, among others, we won’t lack for experienced voices, either.

  3. Milt Stevens:

    “May you all have the fandom you deserve.”

    I had a great time at MAC2 and I expect that I will have a great time in Helsinki. And tell you what, it wouldn’t matter much to me if just about anyone missed out on a panel. Because a convention doesn’t hang on who are on what panels for me.

    The best parts for me was meeting all the filers, becoming closer friends with some of them, hanging around at the Helsinki fan table, sitting in our park, walking around looking at books, seeing a new city, being invited home by another fan, having a good time helping with the setup. And I got to squee a bit to authors that I liked.

    Panels? Actually, I could skip out on them in total and still have a good time. One person more or less on a panel does make no difference to me. And I’m a bit confused by people whose whole experience of a con hangs on if they can be on a panel or not. Don’t you speak to people outside of panels? Or do you need an audience to do it?

  4. @Bruce Arthurs: “At age six, Johnny Verve was already the smartest kid on earth, and the strongest, and the most handsome, and then he found out he had magical powers too, the rotten little shit.”

    And then the murders began…

  5. Hampus Eckerman: Don’t you speak to people outside of panels? Or do you need an audience to do it?

    With people like Del Arroz, who have a self-published book to shill, not being on a panel means less opportunity to do so. And people who are programming often get their memberships comped, so it’s a matter of financial self-interest: if they don’t get accepted to be on programming, attendees actually have to pay money for their membership like the rest of the members (boo hoo).

  6. techgrrl1972: “Bruce, I think I’d very much like to read your story! Or at least ‘borrow’ the sentence to open a fanfic I could write!

    Feel free to fanfic away! (W/accreditation to Farland’s original bad example and my revised version, please.) Not likely to do anything else with it myself.

    – – – – –

    I used to be appear regularly on panels at a local sf convention, from the time they first started in the mid-1970s. One reason I kept being invited was that the same few persons tended to be responsible for programming. Then, about the mid-1990’s, there was a deliberate effort to get new and newer people involved in running the con, including a change in programming heads. And I stopped getting invited. Not a deliberate snub, though, just that the new people didn’t have me on their personal radar.

    (By that point, I was pretty inactive as a fan, and except for my ST:TNG episode, pretty invisible as a fiction writer. This was also about the time Hilde and I started selling books & jewelry at conventions, which left a lot less time to attend programming, much less be on it, so it worked out okay.)

  7. @JJ (re “financial interest”): it is also possible that some authors use a panel appearance as demonstrating that the convention was a professional ~gig, which would make all expenses tax-deductible. I doubt this is rigorously legal in the US (AFAICT the usual requirement for deductibility involves several hours a day of professional activity) but I’ve been offered it as an explanation.

  8. A con of my acquaintance has a rather stale set of dealers, because there’s an institutional preference for giving existing dealers the chance to re-up before considering anyone on the waiting list. And yes, there is a waiting list. I have nothing against any of those dealers, as businesses or people, but it would be nice to see some new stuff once in a while.

    That same convention also makes a point of putting attending pros on programming, but with the exception of the GOHs, that’s pretty much the same crowd every year. (And some of the GOHs repeat somewhat frequently and/or attend on their own when they’re not featured guests.) Here again, on the one hand it’s nice to see people you know in the field, but after a while it starts to feel like “same con, new year.” That’s not to denounce all of the panels that tend to repeat, as one of my favorite tentpole events keeps the same structure each year but with different topics, but there’s a lot of sameness to it.

    But, hey – the con’s hitting its membership cap every year, so obviously it’s working for that audience. To me, though… it began to feel stagnant. When I worked the game room, I’d usually see the same faces year after year – meaning that my demos weren’t attracting new people (because there were very few to attract, thanks to that membership cap), but merely showing my regular crowd the new games that they’d probably already heard about.

    And that’s when I dropped out. I figured I’d let someone more enthusiastic about the event attend instead of taking up a hotel room and one of those precious membership slots. After all, the board kept talking about the challenge of getting young people interested in attending… but with the same set of panelists getting older, little new blood coming in, and that strict cap on membership, is it any wonder that the issue continued to not get solved? The young people I saw tended to be the children of the regular attendees; they would’ve been there anyway.

    I realize that it can feel like rejection to have “your programming slot” taken away after having it practically guaranteed for years, but the truth is that the error is in the perception of that entitlement. A healthy con changes and adapts, bringing new blood in and getting new ideas and perspectives with it. If there’s literally no room for that to happen – no way for new people to get in the door – then the con is decidedly UNhealthy, regardless of how many memberships it’s selling.

    The price of change is that things change. Even big things, even traditional things, have to be examined periodically to see if they’re still a good fit or if it’s just time to rotate something new in and see how it works. It shouldn’t be necessary for a perennial panelist to either die or lose interest for a space to open up in programming. My reaction to the death of a dealer shouldn’t involve relief that someone else will finally get a shot at a table in the dealers’ room after being on the waiting list for years.

    So, forgive my lack of sympathy for the people who had the privilege of being invited year after year, for long enough that they began to see it as an entitlement, when they elect to whine about the one year they weren’t extended that privilege. I’ll tell you this – if I got a say in whether the whiners got invited back in the future, my vote would be a solid NO. Whining and slandering the concom ought to be a one-way ticket to never getting invited back as a panelist. (If not “never,” then certainly for as long as it takes them to realize that a comped membership and the opportunity to be a panelist is never guaranteed and should never be taken for granted.)

    Anyway, that’s my tuppence on the subject. Note that I have named no conventions or people, and that’s by design. Speculation is not invited and will be ignored or no-commented.

  9. I’m not on Facebook, and if I click the link in (1), I get a pop-up hiding text. Has Darrell Schweitzer actually complained about this, or is the criticism all being done on his behalf by volunteers? Idle curiosity prompts my query.

  10. Kip W: Has Darrell Schweitzer actually complained about this, or is the criticism all being done on his behalf by volunteers?

    I paged back on Schweitzer’s FB wall a few weeks worth of posts without finding anything except the items by his wife and Longyear. Schweitzer wrote a couple of comments on the former, but nothing I’d describe as a complaint. I’d say his position is tacitly accepting their remarks.

  11. Kip W: I’m not on Facebook, and if I click the link in (1), I get a pop-up hiding text.

    If you click “Not Now”, that will drop to the bottom, and you can read the Facebook post.

  12. When cons invite pros to be part of their programming, but are not guests of honor, do they expect them to pay for memberships, comp the membership, comp the membership and pay for the hotel, or pay for travel expenses as well? If they even just comp the memberships, it sure seems rather whiny of someone to expect that they’re going to be invited to be panelists ad infinitum just because they’ve been panelist several times in the past. Maybe they just don’t fit this year’s theme for some reason.

    I agree with Rev. Bob, if someone makes a big deal of not being a repeat panelist to the point of the con-com is aware of it, I wouldn’t expect the programming department to ever invite them back as long as the current team is running programming. Although, if one wants to express disappointment about not getting a panel invite, it seems to me the best way to complain is to let a friend do it for you and be non committal if someone attempts to drag you into a discussion, rather than posting conspiracy theories on your blog and elsewhere about the con-com having it in for you especially after the con published their rationale for why some panelists were not reinvited this year.

    I have no idea what JDA expected to accomplish with all his anti-Baycon antics. It’s unlikely to get them to add him to this year’s panels, it’s unlikely to affect this year’s attendance, and if affects next year’s attendance and the programming department does ask him back next year, that only means he has fewer people to hawk his new books to. BTW, if I were a GOH at Baycon, and was asked to comment on his “controversy”, I’d be showing a look of disgust too, but it would be for the questioner for bringing up something I had nothing to do with, and putting me in a position of potentially saying negative things about my hosts if I even said something like “gee, that’s unfortunate”. Likewise, if it’s true that next year’s programming will be run by different people, this was likely a planned transition, and his antics will still make them think hard about inviting him back as a panelist.

  13. I will point out that Del Arroz is now harassing Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham on Twitter, trying to be their best buddy. 🙄

  14. @Bruce A: “When cons invite pros to be part of their programming, but are not guests of honor, do they expect them to pay for memberships, comp the membership, comp the membership and pay for the hotel, or pay for travel expenses as well?”

    As I recall, the con I described has a policy that once you’ve been a GOH, you get a free badge in perpetuity – but you’re expected to participate in a few hours of programming, and holding an autograph session counts. I don’t know that the situation of a former GOH showing up and not participating in programming has ever come up, so I can’t say whether those hours are required or merely expected. Only the GOHs get their expenses covered.

    At any rate, you would not believe how much programming there is for such a comparatively small convention. But then, when the pro-to-fan density is less than 1:10, the conditions above kind of dictate that result.

  15. @Bruce A, the convention whose inner workings I know best will fly in the Guests of Honor (often with a +1), provide badges, and provide hotel rooms. However, as I understand it (and I may be wrong), the Usual Suspects (pros who attend every year) are given comped badges, but not transportation reimbursement. I don’t know one way or the other whether their rooms are comped; I suspect not but I could easily be wrong.

  16. @Bruce A: If you are a guest, but not a GoH, you get your membership free. That’s it. No transpo, no meals, no room. You do get a better quality of munchies in the green room. Maybe parking validation. Some cons, you might get a membership for your +1 free; some cons it’s reduced. There’s no other reimbursement. At least at the cons I’ve been going to for decades.

    Baycon ended 3 days ago; he wasn’t suddenly added, his absence had no effect on the attendance, and he wasn’t missed. Naturally, he’s not getting invited as a guest any time in the near future, though he’s able to buy a membership and attend as a regular fan.

    Which he was free to do this year, and indeed would have benefited him and his career a lot more than conspiracy theory whining on the web does. Unless he’s decided to make a career of that and cash in on that big grievance industry of identity politics. Eh, it works for Teddy? Doubt any other cons will rush to invite him to speak either, for fear that he’ll badmouth them as well.

    IIRC, JDA was invited ONE year — last year — not even repeatedly. So he’s whining about a privilege he had once. Twice, tops. I got a feeling (no concrete evidence) that his behavior towards con staff and lack of audience draw was a reason why he wasn’t impaneled this year. Absolutely nothing to do with his politics, but entirely to do with his personality. He does not play well with others.

    @JJ: Funny, I was just looking at the photos of me partying with Daniel and Ty two nights in a row (Doug Barry’s in one of them too). Check your email. I guess I’m gonna have to apologize to Ty for bringing him to JDA’s attention. I betcha Ty’s thinking “Oh, THAT’S the guy who they were talking about who thinks he’s a more famous Hispanic SF writer than me.”

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