Pixel Scroll 5/29/16 Hell Is Other Pixels

(1) HE SIGNS AND WONDERS. From the Baltimore Sun: “’Game of Thrones’ author draws faithful crowd at Balticon 50”

The wildly popular HBO series has gone beyond the plot lines of Martin’s books, though more are in the works. In an afternoon interview with Mark Van Name, Martin said he never anticipated that the unfinished book series would end up as enormous as it has become. When he sold it in 1994 with 100 pages written, he pitched it as a trilogy. That quickly became a “four-book trilogy,” he said, then a five-, six- and seven-book series. The sixth and seventh books have not yet been published.

“It hit 800 pages and I wasn’t close to the end,” he said of writing the first book, “Game of Thrones,” the show’s namesake, which was part of a larger series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Then “Thrones” became “1,400 pages and there was no end in sight. At that point I kind of stopped and said, ‘This isn’t going to work.'”

Though Martin didn’t speak in detail about the books, he said the Vietnam War was part of what shaped his writing and the complexity of his characters.

“We have the capacity for great heroism. We have the capacity for great selfishness and cowardice, many horrible acts. And sometimes at the same time. The same people can do something heroic on Tuesday and something horrible on Wednesday,” he said. “Heroes commit atrocities. People who commit atrocities can be capable later of heroism. It’s the human condition, and I wanted to reflect all that in my work.”

Martin Morse Wooster emailed the story along with his own observations:

…Nearly all of the piece is about listening to George R.R. Martin or standing in line to get your Martin books and other stuff signed.  This morning I was standing in line for the elevator and heard that they were admitting the 1,070th person to the autograph line.

(2) TIPTREE AUCTION AT WISCON. I’d like to hear the rest of this story…

And I’d like to hear this, too.

(3) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. (In case there’s anybody who doesn’t already know it…)

Ed Green snarked in a Facebook comment:

I rather like the bonus factoid that they released this in time to help celebrate Memorial Day. Because nothing says ‘Thank you for your sacrifice!” like turning a WWII legend into a Nazi.

You rotten bastards.

Jessica Pluumer also criticized the choice in her post “On Steve Rogers #1, Antisemitism, and Publicity Stunts” at Panels.

You probably already knew that, but I’d invite you to think about it for a minute. In early 1941, a significant percentage of the American population was still staunchly isolationist. Yet more Americans were pro-Axis. The Nazi Party was not the unquestionably evil cartoon villains we’re familiar with today; coming out in strong opposition to them was not a given. It was a risky choice.

And Simon and Kirby—born Hymie Simon and Jacob Kurtzberg—were not making it lightly. Like most of the biggest names in the Golden Age of comics, they were Jewish. They had family and friends back in Europe who were losing their homes, their freedom, and eventually their lives to the Holocaust. The creation of Captain America was deeply personal and deeply political.

Ever since, Steve Rogers has stood in opposition to tyranny, prejudice, and genocide. While other characters have their backstories rolled up behind them as the decades march on to keep them young and relevant, Cap is never removed from his original context. He can’t be. To do so would empty the character of all meaning.

But yesterday, that’s what Marvel did.

Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know how comics work. He’s a Skrull, or a triple agent, or these are implanted memories, or it’s a time travel switcheroo, or, or, or. There’s a thousand ways Marvel can undo this reveal—and they will, of course, because they’re not about to just throw away a multi-billion dollar piece of IP. Steve Rogers is not going to stay Hydra any more than Superman stayed dead.

But Nazis (yes, yes, I know 616 Hydra doesn’t have the same 1:1 relationship with Nazism that MCU Hydra does) are not a wacky pretend bad guy, something I think geek media and pop culture too often forgets.

(4) BOUND FOR BLETCHLEY. The Guardian reports a discovery made by museum workers — “Device used in Nazi code machine found for sale on eBay”.

It was just such a coincidence that led to the museum getting its hands on their Lorenz teleprinter, after they spotted it for sale. “I think it was described as a telegram machine, but we recognised it as a Lorenz teleprinter,” Whetter said.

They rang the seller and drove to down to Essex to take a look for themselves. “The person took us down the garden to the shed and in the shed was the Lorenz teleprinter in its original carrying case,” Whetter said. They snapped it up for £9.50.

But the true value of their purchase was yet to become clear. It was only after cleaning the machine at Bletchley Park, where the museum is based, that they found it was a genuine military issue teleprinter, complete with swastika detailing and even a special key for the runic Waffen-SS insignia.

Is it a suspicious coincidence that this story came out the same month as Steve Rogers #1? You decide!

(5) WISCON CON SUITE. Tempting as it is, if I left now I still wouldn’t get there in time.

(6) FAREWELL FROM THE MASSES. The G has something to say “About that Castle finale…” at Nerds of a Feather.

I finally got around to watching the series finale of Castle last night, and feel the need to vent a bit.

First, let me admit that I’ve watched a lot of Castle over the years. But I didn’t watch it out of any conviction that it’s good. It wasn’t. Rather, I watched it because it was simple fun. At its best, the show took a familiar formula (the police procedural), approached it with an appealing balance of drama and comedy and then let its charismatic leads (Nathan Fillion and Stana Kati?) carry the show. All in all, that made for an enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable, hour long diversion.

Sure there was the ongoing story about an increasingly convoluted and opaque conspiracy, as well as the love story between Castle and Beckett, but at its heart Castle was an episodic show. And now that it’s gone, I realize how few watchable episodic dramas are left on TV.

Which brings me to the finale…

As soon as it was over, my wife turned to me and said “Poochie died on the way back to his home planet.”

With a hook like that, how could I not read the rest, which is an explanation of the reference?

(7) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. There will be a movie based on the Tetris video game, in which massive blocks descend from the sky. Don’t be underneath when they fly by… oh, wait, that’s a different punchline.

Larry Kasanoff, producer of films based on the Mortal Kombat video games and Bruno Wu, CEO of China’s Sun Seven Stars Media Group announced that their new company Threshold Global Studios is set to produce the film Tetris The Movie.


(8) RECOMMENDATION: REREAD THE BOOK. Gary Westfahl’s analysis, “Alice the Great and Powerful: A Review of Alice Through the Looking Glass”, is posted at Locus Online.

The visual effects are regularly creative and engaging, and there are lines here and there that might make you laugh, but overall, anyone looking for 153 minutes of entertainment on this Memorial Day weekend would be best advised to read, or reread, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) instead of watching this film, which borrows its title but none of its unique wit and charm. The work that it most recalls, as my title suggests, is the film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013 – review here), another thumb-fisted effort to “improve” upon a classic children’s book by adding new characters, new back stories for old characters, and an action-packed, melodramatic story line….


(10) CARBONARA COPY. Kurt Busiek commented yesterday about cooking a meal for his future wife using a recipe in a comic book. I thought it might be a pleasant surprise if I could find that American Flagg spaghetti fritatta recipe online. It was there, but I found more than I bargained for in Cleo Coyle’s post at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

When I first met my husband, he whipped up a fantastic spaghetti carbonara that has since become part of our menu. Because he’s part Italian, and because both his mother and father taught him how to cook, I assumed his recipe came from one of them. Not so. Marc informed me that he found the recipe in a 1980’s comic book.

The comic was Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, launched in 1983. Fans of this series include Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, who hailed Flagg as a precursor to the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.

Flagg is not for everyone. It presents a hard-boiled look at life in 2031—after nuclear war and an economic collapse leave things a tad chaotic in the USA. How bad do things get in Chaykin’s 2031? One example: The broken down piano player who inhabits the local lounge is Princess Diana’s oldest son.

As for today’s recipe, spaghetti carbonara happens to be the favorite dish of Rubin Flagg, the comic book’s hero. The recipe was published in the same issue that Rubin cooked it up. (Recipes included in fiction! Is that a good idea or what?)

Coyle says she’s married to somebody named Marc, so presumably this isn’t Kurt’s wife telling her side of the same anecdote. (I’m also sure Kurt knows his fritatta from his carbonara.) Just the same, it’s starting to sound like that American Flagg recipe is quite the love potion!


  • Born May 29, 1906 T. H. White author of The Once and Future King.

(12) SUITS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, takes you along —

While in London pitching series, Mr. Sci-Fi got a tour of the Propstore’s exclusive amazing collection of spacesuits from such films as Alien, Armageddon and Star Trek – The Motion Picture — plus he shows rare concept designs of Space Command’s spacesuit by Iain McCaig (designer of Darth Maul, Queen Amidala and The Force Awaken’s Rey). Not to be missed!


(13) WOLFE TALK. Spacefaring Kitten interviewed Marc Aramini who wrote Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 (Castalia House).

Is there a “right” answer to questions like “what has really happened between the protagonist and Suzanne Delage in ‘Suzanne Delage’” or “which one is the changeling in ‘The Changeling’”?

I’m asking this because I kind of enjoyed the ambiguous atmosphere and the weight of the unexplained in those stories, and while I was reading them I didn’t necessarily feel that there should be one comprehensive solution to be unearthed.

Yes, but you don’t have to get there to enjoy the story. I honestly believe there is a “right” answer from the author’s point of view, but that there are other authors who do not have this kind of rigid, disciplined mindset and write from a place of the subconscious or unconscious. I really do not feel that this is the case with Wolfe, and I have written about 700,000 words so far between the two volumes which argue that his mysteries have universal solutions. I think one of his tasks is using the tool-box of post-modern subjectivity and uncertainty to imply that there is still a universal structure behind the act of creation.

(14) HARDY. David Hardy has created a video tour of his famous astronomical art —

Voyage to the Outer Planets

To follow up my 50s compilation, ‘How Britain Conquered Space in the Fifties’, here is a video made from art of the outer Solar System which I produced 50 years later , for comparison. I like to think I have progressed a little! This is partly a short excerpt from my DVD ‘Space Music’ (available at www.astroart.org), which in turn was edited from German TV’s ‘Space Night’, shown in the early morning from 1994 (google it). They showed two programmes of my art, but for the DVD I added digital images from my 2004 book with Sir Patrick Moore, ‘Futures: 50 Years in Space’.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Spacefaring Kitten, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy.]

129 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/29/16 Hell Is Other Pixels

  1. Hampus Eckerman on May 30, 2016 at 3:03 pm said:
    And Danny DeVito as Elrond.

    A wise piece of casting – unlike the Scorsese version with Joe Pesci as Elrond. Although my preferred Gandalf is, of course, Samuel L Jackson in the Tarrantino version

  2. Now if you just get Tarantino to spice up the dialogue…

    “Is there a sign on my door that says supposedly dead dwarf storage!?”

  3. I just did my initial run-through of Hugo voting (and they emailed me with my submitted ballot immediately, so all systems seem to be go) and looking at it, I’m wondering if Best Related Work will be the only category to get No Awarded this year.

  4. @ Bonnie McDaniel
    Probably. It took me about one day to adjust my expectations accordingly after the finalist announcement.

  5. [Scene: Gandalf (S.L. Jackson) and Thorin (J. Travolta) have burst into the Goblin King’s chamber]
    Gandalf: There’s this passage I got memorized. Quenta Silmarillion 25:17. “The path of the righteous elf is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am of the Noldor when I lay My vengeance upon you.”

    Now… I been sayin’ that sh_t for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You’d be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherf__ker before I cut some Gondolin steel in his ass. But I saw some sh_t this mornin’ made me think twice.

    See, now I’m thinking: maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous elf. And Mr. Glamdring here… he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous elf and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. And I’d like that. But that sh_t ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Goblin King. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.

    [Spolier: It is a silmaril in that briefcase]

  6. The preferred method of bank robbing is blowing up ATMs with propane/another explosive gas.

    Or just stealing the ATM with a backhoe.

    Blowing up ATMs is extremely common in my part of the world and I’ve just seen a report that would-be bankrobbers have started using Jaws of Life previously stolen from fire stations to break open ATMs.

  7. Pure pedantry moment: In the US, stealing/from an ATM is not covered by the “bank robbery” statutes. However, it does seem like a crime tailor-made for a world where some people have superpowers.

  8. Ebook sales (for the U.S., at least; check local listings)!

    Jason Hough’s mammoth Zero World is $1.99, as is The Darwin Elevator (the first book in the series he published before Zero World). (Both have DRM.) Filer @JJ has recommended Zero World, IIRC; it was already on my shelf based on the sample I read before that.

    And in honor of the occasional appearance of @Meredith, no doubt ;-), BookBub tells me something called The Year of the Dragon books 1-4 by James Calbraith is only 99 cents (no DRM). It sounds like Queen Victoria rules much of the whole world thanks to “her unbeatable ironclad navy and Dragon Corps.” I don’t see it in the U.K. (though I believe the author’s a Polish Brit), but it has no DRM, so it might be purchasable from Amazon or Kobo by anyone. (This is from a tiny publisher – maybe just Calbraith and one or two others.)

  9. I’m currently working my way through the voting system threads. My brain. Ow. I think it atrophied while I was away. (Yet I am still forming opinions! They might be terrible opinions, because ow brain, but they’re my opinions and I think I’ll call them George.)

  10. “Glamdring. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every goblin in the cave, accept no substitutes.”

  11. Bonnie McDaniel:

    and looking at it, I’m wondering if Best Related Work will be the only category to get No Awarded this year.

    I’d say Noah Ward also lacks obvious strong competition in Fancast and Pro Artists. On the other hand those are categories people are somewhat likely to leave blank rather than rank No Award first. Anyway, yes, Noah Ward is likely to take home less new rockets than last year.

    Marc Aramini:

    Probably. It took me about one day to adjust my expectations accordingly after the finalist announcement.

    That long?

    Oh, my sweet summer child.

  12. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano

    The big money is in hacking the banks.

    Amateur! The big money is in founding a bank.

  13. @microtherion

    Cause a man with a briefcase. Can steal more money. Than any man with a gun

  14. Amateur! The big money is in founding a bank.

    Amateur! The big money is creating exotic real estate based debt obligations and selling them to the banks…

  15. You were asking about the context for “Yes, you are booing, but are you booing with your wallet??” at the Tiptree Auction. The item being “auctioned” was an old Pilates exercise video that was quite egregious about its body shaming of women being even slightly less than perfectly shaped. The auctioneer volunteered to smash the video with a hammer if the combined audience donation to do so exceeded some amount. I don’t recall the amount, but they reached it, and the video was destroyed.

  16. Nigel: They were smashing the pilatriarchy.

    What is that, the oppressive social regime which insists that women shave their legs???

  17. @Meredith: Ouch, you’re really jumping back into the deep end, aren’t you! Good luck with the 800+ comment thread. 😉 It ate my brain and then gave a long burp.

  18. However, it does seem like a crime tailor-made for a world where some people have superpowers.

    (Kitty Pryde and Vision both start whistling and trying to look nonchalant.)

  19. Catching up with comments after having been at BayCon all weekend…

    When I hear people taking a “entitled kids these days” approach to protests about what authors are doing with beloved serial characters, I seem to recall that Charles Dickens encountered similar issues.

    One of the fascinating aspects of place-holder names like “John Doe” and “Richard Roe” is that the usage dates back to English medieval court records. (Wikipedia cites examples from the 14th century, I think the earliest examples I’ve run across were from a similar era.)

  20. Speaking of reverse heists, David Langford’s The Leaky Establishment fits that description. As another former employee at the Establishment in question (though a little later than Dave), I found it not wholly implausible.

  21. Bonnie McDaniel on May 29, 2016 at 7:57 pm said:
    @Stoic Cynic

    Heh. How about Frogger: The Movie? Which race of frogs will survive, and why do they want to cross the highway in the first place, and which of our intrepid green hopping heroes will escape being smashed flat?

    Paul and Storm (of having their guitar smashed by GRRM at Comicon fame) have your back there

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