Pixel Scroll 5/31/17 I Watched TBR Piles Grow In The Dark Near Tannhäuser’s Gate

(1) THE UGLY SPACEMAN. Adam Roberts tells New Scientist readers, “If I were a Martian, I’d start running now”.

Exploration has never been neutral, and it’s hard to believe that future exploration of the cosmos will be different. So: doesn’t SF have a duty to flavour its fantasies of boldly going with a smidgen of ideological honesty? “Exploration Fiction” is, after all, better placed than any other kind of literature to explore exploration itself.

(2) IN VINO VERITAS. The Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival takes place in Waukegan on June 3. The Chicago Tribune has the story —

Ray Bradbury wrote about the happiness machine in his iconic novel “Dandelion Wine,” published in 1957 and reminiscent of his early boyhood days exploring the ravines of Waukegan.

Sixty years later, the annual Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival in Bowen Park offers participants the chance to create pictures of their own “happiness machines” for the community art project….

“The festival is an important way to honor and pay tribute to Ray Bradbury and it’s a great time for everybody to finally get over winter — spring’s here — and it kicks off summer,” Rohrer said.

Bradbury served as the festival’s honorary chairman until his death in 2012. The festival tradition ensures his legacy will live forever in Waukegan. Typically more than 1,000 adults and children come to the festival each year, Rohrer said.

John King Tarpinian says of dandelion wine, “I am told it tastes like grass.”

(3) LITERARY TOURIST. Laura J. Miller’s “Dark Futures” adapts the age-old literature vs. science fiction dichotomy as a vehicle to administer a kick to Donald Trump from a different angle. However, that still forces her to discuss actual writers and books, a discussion she ends with this malediction:

Science fiction has always promised its readers fictional wonders they can’t get in other genres, stories in which the stakes are high and the ideas are heady. What’s surprising is not that literary novelists are increasingly taking up science fiction’s tools, but that more of them didn’t try it sooner. Now, as the present crumbles away into a future that evolves more quickly than most of us can track, it seems impossible to write about contemporary life without writing science fiction. But the secret to doing it well doesn’t lie in suspenseful chase scenes, weighty messages or mind-blowing existential puzzles. That stuff can be fun, but it can also feel pretty thin without something that’s supposed to be a specialty of literary novelists: the fullest appreciation of humanity in its infinite variety and intricacy. Do justice to that, and the wonders will take care of themselves.

The article enraged a whole handful of sf writers, quoted by Jason Sanford in his rebuttal post, “Laura Miller, or what happens when a literary critic loathes genre fiction but knows that’s where the best stories are?”

So. Much. Fail. In. One. Essay. And before you believe I’m biased because I’m one of those lowly SF authors who need step aside for my literary betters, check out the reaction of other authors to Miller’s words:

Part of the problem with the essay, beyond Miller’s actual condescending words, is that she overlooks the ability of SF authors to write at the level of the authors she’s praising. She grudgingly gives William Gibson and Karen Joy Fowler minor props but ignores the stylistic and literary ability of SF masters like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gene Wolfe, N. K. Jemisin, Connie Willis and so many others.

(4) TRAINING WHEELS. The Telegraph explains “Why Harry Potter fans will like the new Bank of Scotland £10 note”.

An image of the Glenfinnan Viaduct – part of the West Highland Railway Line that was made famous by the Harry Potter movies – will remain on the reverse of the design, but with the addition of a steam locomotive hauling a heritage tourist train.

(5) BINDING PLANS. Provided they don’t let the Doctor himself navigate, “A TARDIS-inspired shared library is coming to Woodbridge” this weekend.

Fans of Doctor Who will have a new destination to check out in Detroit. On Saturday, June 3 at noon, a TARDIS-inspired shared library will be installed at the corner of Vermont and Warren.

Dan Zemke has been a fan of Doctor Who and wanted to build a TARDIS (a Police Box time machine that stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space). It can transport a person anywhere in time and space, kind of like a great book. Inspired by his brother Jon, who rehabs houses in Woodbridge and had a large mural painted on one prominent home last year, Dan decided to create a practical use for it and build it into a library. With the help of his dad, the time machine/library is now ready to be installed.

It’s big — 10 feet tall and likely weighs a ton — and they’re seeking book donations since it can hold so many. Zemke says he’d like to include a large book where people can write and share their own stories.

The public is invited to the installation at noon on June 3. And if you have some books to contribute, feel free to bring them.

(6) FOURTH STAGE LENSMAN. Joe Vasicek experiences “What it’s like to write after a life interruption”. His post takes readers from Stage Zero through Four.

Stage 0: Procrastination

I guess I should write — but first, I should check my email. Also, there’s a couple of publishing tasks I need to do. I’m also kind of hungry, come to think of it.

Wow, those publishing tasks took a lot longer than I thought they would. I could start writing now, but I’d only have half an hour, and what can I possibly get done in that time? Maybe I should just relax for a bit and play this addictive online game…

Stage 1: BIC HOC

All right, no more excuses. It’s butt in chair, hands on keyboard time!

What’s wrong with my chair? Did someone put a magnet in it? It seems like my butt gets repulsed every time I try to sit down in it. I can knock off a couple of paragraphs, but then I have to get up and pace for a while. Or do some chores. Or–

No! I’ve got to focus. But man, it feels like I’m pulling teeth. The words just aren’t coming. It’s been more than an hour, and how much have I written? Holy crap, that’s pathetic.

Well, it’s the end of the day, and I only managed a few hundred words, but that’s better than nothing I guess.

(7) BACK FROM THE SHADOWS. Carl Slaughter observes:

NBC cancelled the Constantine live action series after only one season. CW’s Arrow series brought the Constantine character in for 2 episodes. Now CW is giving the Alan Moore-created comic book character another crack at a television series through animation. Constantine actor Matt Ryan will return to voice the animated version. Here’s a history of Constantine.


(8) BERKELEY OBIT. Makeup artist Ron Dursley Berkeley (1931-2017) died May 9.

His 50-year career included working on George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960), The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, and Star Trek. He won one Primetime Emmy, and was nominated four times altogether.

His non-genre work spanned The Manchurian Candidate, Anne of a Thousand Days, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

(9) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian recommends the librarian humor in today’s Farcus.

(10) ADA PALMER. In May 2017, Ada Palmer came out with Seven Surrenders, the second in her Terra Ignota series. The Will to Battle comes out in December 2017.



In a future of near-instantaneous global travel, of abundant provision for the needs of all, a future in which no one living can remember an actual war — a long era of stability threatens to come to an abrupt end.

For known only to a few, the leaders of the great Hives, nations without fixed locations, have long conspired to keep the world stable, at the cost of just a little blood. A few secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction can ever dominate, and the balance holds. And yet the balance is beginning to give way.

Mycroft Canner, convict, sentenced to wander the globe in service to all, knows more about this conspiracy the than he can ever admit. Carlyle Foster, counselor, sensayer, has secrets as well, and they burden Carlyle beyond description. And both Mycroft and Carlyle are privy to the greatest secret of all: Bridger, the child who can bring inanimate objects to life.

(11) MARVEL INVADES GOTHAM. You can find Marvel at BookCon 2017 starting tomorrow:

This weekend, Marvel returns to New York’s Javits Center for BookCon 2017, spotlighting how Marvel continues to branch out and bridge the divide between pop culture and book buyers, librarians, and book fans of all ages.

This Thursday, June 1st, join novelists Jason Reynolds (Miles Morales: Spider-Man), R. L. Stine (Man-Thing), and Margaret Stohl (Mighty Captain Marvel) as they are joined by some of the biggest names from the House of Ideas — as well as some surprise Mighty Marvel Guests! These blockbuster creators will discuss bringing their prose skills to Marvel’s graphic fiction, bringing Marvel characters into the prose world, and the exciting universal appeal of Marvel’s new wave of graphic novels.

Can’t make it to the convention? Follow along on Marvel.com and @Marvel on Twitter.


(12) SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY. The passing of actor Roger Moore prompted Dwayne Day to consider the actor’s legacy as the face of the James Bond franchise in an article for The Space Review.

Roger Moore passed away on May 23 at the age of 89. Moore, who was born in London in 1927, was best known for playing James Bond in seven movies between 1973 and 1985, more Bond movies than any other actor. Moore’s Bond appearances included the 1979 film Moonraker, the highest-grossing Bond movie until Daniel Craig rebooted the franchise in the 2000s. Moonraker is one of several Bond movies with a space theme, but the only one where James Bond travels into space.

Moonraker often tops critics’ lists of the worst Bond movie made, although it sometimes ties for that dubious honor. Like most Bond films, it recycled a lot of over-used plot devices: the megalomaniacal billionaire bent on world destruction, lame double-entendres, blatant sexism, dumb quips Bond makes upon dispatching a bad guy, the amazing coincidence that Bond happens to possess exactly the right gizmo he needs at the moment of maximum peril, and the absurdity of a “spy”with brand name recognition whom everybody recognizes the second he walks through the door. But these were the franchise’s fault, not Moore’s…

Moonraker was made because producer Cubby Broccoli saw the box office returns from Star Wars and decided that his next Bond movie should be set in space. Broccoli was shameless, but his decision paid off handsomely, with a worldwide gross of $210 million in then-year dollars. Although Moonraker frequently rates among the worst Bond movies, it made more money than any other Bond film for the next 16 years. Moore reprised the role three more times.

(13) WHEN VENUS WAS A SOGGY MESS. A Bradbury story with sound effects — radio reinvented! “THE LONG RAIN, by Ray Bradbury, sound-designed & narrated by Alexander Rogers”.

THE LONG RAIN is my personal favorite short story from Ray Bradbury’s classic body of tales, The Illustrated Man. Written in 1950, it paints a deadly and seductive image of an interminably rainy planet of Venus. Admittedly, science now shows us Venus is more of a lead oven than a drenched rainscape, but let’s not take Venus literally in this sense. I’ve always felt that planets in sci-fi are more of a mental/spiritual arena in which to place relatable, earthly characters.

Bradbury’s writing here is so poetic and so visual, I just knew a vocal narration wasn’t enough. An audiobook like this deserves a rain soundtrack, complete with soggy footsteps and storms and rivers and shimmering things. May you enjoy the sound design as well as the characters!

(14) THE DOG DAYS. Once I read John Scalzi’s opening tweet I knew it was going to be a slow news day….

(15) REALLY FINICKY. Mashable has a funny video: “Cute kitty devastates the crew of the Nostromo in this recut trailer of ‘Aliens'”.

The spacecraft Nostromo has an unwanted guest wreaking havoc on the crew. No, it’s not a bloodthirsty Alien… but an adorable kitten? Watch what happens in this re-imagined trailer.


[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

80 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/31/17 I Watched TBR Piles Grow In The Dark Near Tannhäuser’s Gate

  1. The idea of a novelization of a movie of a novel is a bit odd to say the least!

    I’m looking forward to the first movie of a novelization of a movie of a book.

  2. A trivialist’s addition to the novel-movie-novel tangle: the book of 2001 was written “concurrently” with the movie, but had the stargate around Saturn because that let Clarke play with astronomy (IIRC explaining the two-facedness of Iapetus as a signpost for the gate). But when Clarke wrote the sequel he accepted the movie version, so both book and movie of 2010 ~return to Jupiter — which provided a great astronomical photo; in the intervening decade-plus, (now?)Brother Guy concluded that Io was covered with sulfur volcanoes, so we got to see the Discovery One covered in (sulfur) dust — justifiably, despite having spent its entire existence in space.

  3. @3: I think Sanford is going overboard; he concludes But don’t come into these genres, take the best parts of what we write, then disavow the genre and everyone in it. But this is exactly what Miller herself complains about mundane writers doing; she cuts down everything from Yuknavitch’s implausibilities (including a bit Y borrows, with even less explanation than the original, from Logan’s Run) to Mandel’s literary affectation. It’s possible that Miller could have gotten more nuance (or at least more precision) in a much longer essay — e.g. expanding on the too-pat description of dystopian fiction basing on fear and apocalyptic on desire — but starting with a flame and building to a climax from there doesn’t contribute positively.

  4. The earliest SF on colonisation that I can think of offhand is from 1897 – The War of the Worlds. Unless you count Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

  5. @Mark: “someone also took the money to write “Bram Stoker’s Dracula””

    That would be Fred Saberhagen, who wrote several Dracula novels of his own. The first three – The Dracula Tape, The Holmes-Dracula File, and An Old Friend of the Family – are quite good, and one of the later books, Seance for a Vampire, is a direct sequel to Holmes-Dracula.

    “Tape” is styled as the transcription of an eight-track (!!) tape on which the Count retells Stoker’s version of events from his own point of view, and at the end we discover exactly why Vlad is lurking about with a few hours to kill on this particular night. (The book’s even divided up as “Track One” through “Track Eight” and opens with Dracula in mid-sentence as he activates the recorder. Talk about “in medias res”!) “File” apparently stems from Saberhagen noticing that the literary descriptions of the two iconic title characters are practically identical, and he uses that as grounds to posit an illicit relationship between Dracula and the then-pregnant mother of the Great Detective. “Old Friend” brings Dracula’s narrative into the current day (at the time) when a kidnapper messes with the wrong family… one with an immortal and ruthless benefactor.

    I recall being unimpressed with at least a couple of the later volumes, but it’s worth pointing out that “Tape” came out the year before Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, rather handily nullifying the popular notion that she pioneered the vampire-as-protagonist idea. Also worth a mention is Saberhagen’s later book, The Frankenstein Papers, which is pretty much what you’d think it is given the context of this comment. No sequels to that one, though…

    @Joe H.: “the novelization of Rambo: First Blood Part 2, which was a sequel to the events as shown in the movie rather than as portrayed in the book.”

    Reminds me of 2001 versus 2010, in which the first book followed the original plan to set the action at Saturn while the second book followed the movie’s switch to Jupiter. (ETA: …as I now see Chip has explained in more detail.)

    @John A.A.: “David Morrell wrote a deeply disturbing book about a rightist militia that targets a man and his family.”

    This reminds me a bit of the 1999 movie Arlington Road, which I’m firmly convinced could not have been made three years later, and maybe not even today. I rather think 9/11 would’ve killed it, but it was very much inspired by Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City. That’s a movie with a very narrow window, and it barely made it.

    @nobody in particular:

    Speaking of novelizations, here’s an odd little detail that’s stuck in my head for no good reason. When the Dick Tracy movie hit theaters, the movie folks wanted to keep people guessing when they went to see the flick, instead of being able to spoil the experience by reading the novelization first. This is why the novelization does not reveal the identity of the masked villain; the unmasking only happens on the screen. (This may have changed in later printings, but was certainly true of the original run.)

  6. When I was in library school, the children’s lit professor had us read the beginnings of two different versions of Mary Poppins, one the original, one the novelization of the movie (on checking I think it’s the version by Mary Carey). IIRC, oddly enough the novelization was much more “literary” sounding.

  7. @nickp
    I have not seen the movie and haven’t read Jumper: Griffin’s Story. I have read, and enjoyed greatly, Jumper, Reflex, Impulse, and Exo

    Many of the qualities that make me enjoy Jumper and its direct sequels are also present in Jumper: Griffin’s Story. So, if you like the ones you’ve read, you’ll probably like Griffin. But it’s not a sequel. (and FWIW, I found the movie of Jumper to be quite watchable, although it did have its problems.)

  8. In the category of novelization of the film of the short-story, written by the original author, we also have Robert Sheckley’s The 10th Victim, which actually predates 2001 by a couple of years. I didn’t know when I saw the film, so I thought they simply followed the plot of the book more closely than most movies do. “They even left in the oddball religion, unlike Blade Runner,” thought I. 🙂

    (It’s actually an entertaining little film, though it’s very sixties.)

  9. Aaaand, I see Chuck Tingle has now published “Pounded In The Butt By Covfefe”.

  10. Aaron on June 1, 2017 at 12:16 pm said:
    Well, Neflix has cancelled Sense8, which is a disappointing turn of events. I liked that show quite a bit.

    Good show, but I can imagine it being relatively expensive to produce.

  11. Good show, but I can imagine it being relatively expensive to produce.

    I believe the figure cited was about $9 million per episode, so $99 million for an eleven episode season.

  12. A little bit of Best Series trivia:


    That link is to a video of British MP Keir Starmer talking to Owen Jones while taking a stroll round Kentish Town. I’m told* that the housing estate they’re standing in early in the interview is the Peckwater Estate, home of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant.

    So now you know. Or something.

    *by my elementary-school best friend, whose family moved to London after 6th grade, and who now lives in that district — his street appears later in the piece.

  13. TFW…you’re discussing novelizations, and suddenly someone brings up Chuck Tingle. 😀

  14. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. That includes a beautiful piece of rhetoric:

    Letter: Wonder Woman

    On May 26, 2017, the Mayor received this email:

    I hope every man will boycott Austin and do what he can to diminish Austin and to cause damage to the city’s image. The theater that pandered to the sexism typical of women will, I hope, regret it’s decision. The notion of a woman hero is a fine example of women’s eagerness to accept the appearance of achievement without actual achievement. Women learn from an early age to value make-up, that it’s OK to pretend that you are greater than you actually are. Women pretend they do not know that only men serve in combat because they are content to have an easier ride. Women gladly accept gold medals at the Olympics for coming in 10th and competing only against the second class of athletes. Name something invented by a woman! Achievements by the second rate gender pale in comparison to virtually everything great in human history was accomplished by men, not women. If Austin does not host a men only counter event, I will never visit Austin and will welcome it’s deteriorati on. And I will not forget that Austin is best known for Charles Whitman. Does Austin stand for gender equality or for kissing up to women? Don’t bother to respond. I already know the answer. I do not hate women. I hate their rampant hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the “women’s movement.” Women do not want gender equality; they want more for women. Don’t bother to respond because I am sure your cowardice will generate nothing worth reading.

    Richard A. Ameduri

    Today he responded:

    Dear Mr. Ameduri,

    I am writing to alert you that your email account has been hacked by an unfortunate and unusually hostile individual. Please remedy your account’s security right away, lest this person’s uninformed and sexist rantings give you a bad name. After all, we men have to look out for each other!

    Can you imagine if someone thought that you didn’t know women could serve in our combat units now without exclusion? What if someone thought you didn’t know that women invented medical syringes, life rafts, fire escapes, central and solar heating, a war-time communications system for radio-controlling torpedoes that laid the technological foundations for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS, and beer? And I hesitate to imagine how embarrassed you’d be if someone thought you were upset that a private business was realizing a business opportunity by reserving one screening this weekend for women to see a superhero movie.

    You and I are serious men of substance with little time for the delicate sensitivities displayed by the pitiful creature who maligned your good name and sterling character by writing that abysmal email. I trust the news that your email account has been hacked does not cause you undue alarm and wish you well in securing your account. And in the future, should your travels take you to Austin, please know that everyone is welcome here, even people like those who wrote that email whose views are an embarrassment to modernity, decency, and common sense.

    Yours sincerely,

    Steve Adler

    The good mayor forgot to mention that women invented the paragraph break.

  15. I kind of got the complete opposite impression from the Miller article. Miller seems to be poking a bit at the literary establishment for writing implausible or shabby sci-fi works and thinking they could do it better by making it ‘beautiful’. Stanford complains that she doesn’t list enough great sci-fi writers, but she doesn’t list them because that’s beside the point. The point is to review a handful of new books by writers who don’t consider themselves sci-fi writers. She only mentions Gibson to contrast his works with Void Star, which gets to be classified as literary fiction when Gibson’s works don’t.

  16. Aaron on June 1, 2017 at 12:16 pm said:

    Well, Neflix has cancelled Sense8, which is a disappointing turn of events. I liked that show quite a bit.

    Haven’t seen Season 2 yet, and I really enjoyed the first season, but not entirely surprised. There was a lot of drama and budget issues for filming in many different countries during the filming of season 2 that cause speculation if it would ever get finished.

    Hopefully Season 2 has a more conclusive ending than Marco Polo Season 2, or that they might at least to a one off to tie up lose ends.

  17. Hopefully Season 2 has a more conclusive ending than Marco Polo Season 2, or that they might at least to a one off to tie up lose ends.

    Nope. The season ends on a complete cliffhanger.

  18. Nope. The season ends on a complete cliffhanger.

    OK, I really need to call shenanigans on them for that, and for Marco Polo. Yes, I understand the whole “It’s too expensive to produce and/or doesn’t get the viewership we were hoping for” thing, but Netflix in particular should be able to make these decisions in a timeframe that lets them give us some kind of closure, either at the end of the existing season or with some kind of brief follow-up thing.

    Yes, I’m dreaming, aren’t I?

  19. @Kurt: Also the large sign that says “Peckwater Estate”. 😉 Looks pretty nice for lower-income housing.

    @JAA: I like that mayor.

    @Xtifr: is there a wrong time to mention Dr. Tingle?

    re: Sense8 — so much for the superiority of streaming services over regular TV channels. You still get things cancelled on cliffhangers with no warning. If I wanted that kind of treatment, I could watch over the air TV for free, and get more episodes per year to boot!

  20. Oh, novelizations. Now I’m reminded that I have a paperback of Dr. Strangelove… that’s credited partly to Peter George, who wrote another book that provided background for the movie, and which suggested the movie to Kubrick, but which was not at all like the movie’s plots and pratfalls.

  21. lurkertype on June 1, 2017 at 6:13 pm said:

    @Xtifr: is there a wrong time to mention Dr. Tingle?

    No, absolutely not. Just intrigued by the juxtaposition, and wondering what sorts of novelizations he might offer us. 😀

    Re: the Wonder Woman in Austin deal, one of the best things I’ve seen about that (other than hizonner’s brilliant response) is this article, which was forwarded to FB by Greg Bear’s wife Astrid. Well worth a read.

  22. I’m not sure how many mass-market, big-budget, heavily merchandised films involve pounding in the butt, which I think would limit Chuck’s suitability for novelizations. OTOH, I don’t think Alan Dean Foster is any good at surreal gay porn, so there’s that. Everyone has their own talent.

    (I keep forgetting “Greg Bear’s wife” and thinking “Poul and Karen’s daughter”.)

  23. Novelizations often add things that weren’t found in the movie. And honestly, while I’m not all that into butt-pounding myself, I can’t help but think that it could only improve, say, Batman v Superman. 😀

  24. (10) UK readers might be interested to know that ebook editions of the first two volumes will be published on 1 July.

  25. Stuart Gale on June 2, 2017 at 12:03 am said:
    (10) UK readers might be interested to know that ebook editions of the first two volumes will be published on 1 July.

    Hurrah! Finally.

  26. On Sense 8 canceled by Netflix

    I found this article

    “CNBC anchor Julia Boorstin nonetheless pushed Hastings (Netflix CEO Reed Hastings) to back up his claim of having too many hits, noting that it’s hard for those who cover the service to figure out what’s working and what’s not. And in a bit of a surprise, Hastings offered a hint about how Netflix now determines success or failure. “You can tell when we cancel a show,” he said, essentially admitting that how many people watch a Netflix series is part of the formula the streamer uses to determine renewals. While Netflix has previously suggested that keeping and increasing subscriber counts were its most important metrics, Hastings on Wednesday seemed to say eyeballs mattered. “It’s a mix [of viewing and subscriber growth],” he said. “Mostly, it is how many people watch. But those are very connected.”

    I would not count the show out, just yet. The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski might very well decide to shop the 3rd season around to other streaming services and or cable channels, to keep the show alive. If I remember correctly, this is exactly what the producers of Longmire did when AMC canceled that show after two or three seasons.

  27. In re. “Sense8” – I guess this gives me time to finish watching season 1 and getting to season 2. ::blush::

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