Pixel Scroll 5/3/17 As The Pixel Is Bent, So Grows The Scroll

(1) DUBLIN IN 2019. Life is short. Bid is long. “Reflections From the Bid Chair: James Bacon”. He tells about the genesis of the Irish Worldcon.

Even at this early stage, people at home and far afield were willing to spend time and effort on the concept of a Worldcon in Ireland. Prepared to keep a secret. By Octocon the same year, it was clear that a bid would be viable, and a moment I will never forget was when Gareth Kavanagh with a level of seriousness that was impressive, asked for videos to be halted, recording devices turned off, and at the closing ceremony in front of a large chunk of Irish fandom, I asked the room to keep a secret. Even with site visits, with huge levels of engagement and public gatherings, no one spoke. No one publicised it, hundreds were now so committed to the idea of a Worldcon in Ireland, but they kept it quiet.

Five years after that meeting in the CCD, it is now 100 days until the vote in Helsinki.

There is a lot of work going on right now, and there will be a lot more in the next 100 days.  Thanks to work by so many people we are where we are, looking at a place where we could be a seated Worldcon.

(2) KEEP ‘EM COMING. James Davis Nicoll has another request for the next round of Young People Read Old SFF:

MY current Young People suggested it might be an idea to toss in a handful of modern stories — let’s say post 2000 — so they can see where the field is. Also open to suggestions on that.

(3) I KNOW THAT NAME. T. Kingfisher’s highly-awaited new collection Jackalope Wives And Other Stories is available. Feel free to buy it under a pseudonym of your own.

From award-winning author T. Kingfisher comes a collection of short stories, including “Jackalope Wives,” “The Tomato Thief,” “Pocosin,” and many others. By turns funny, lyrical, angry and beautiful, this anthology includes two all-new stories, “Origin Story” and “Let Pass The Horses Black,” appearing for the first time in print.

(4) EISNER CORRECTION. Yesterday’s Eisner Awards list has been updated with a new nominee.

Following the announcement of the nominees on May 2, the IDW Publishing/DC Comics anthology Love is Love has since been added in the “Best Anthology” category. Eisner Awards organizer Jackie Estrada said that the book was originally overlooked due to Amazon listing it as a January 2017 release, despite being on-sale with comic book retailers on December 28, 2016 – just inside the cut-off for these awards, which are for 2016 releases. The original list of nominees below has been amended to include Love is Love.

I have made the change to the File 770 post “2017 Eisner Award Nominees”.

(5) CASSINI TAKES A DIVE. These images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft show the view as the spacecraft swooped over Saturn during the first of its Grand Finale dives between the planet and its rings on April 26.

As the movie frames were captured, the Cassini spacecraft’s altitude above the clouds dropped from 45,000 to 4,200 miles (72,400 to 6,700 kilometers). As this occurred, the smallest resolvable features in the atmosphere changed from 5.4 miles (8.7 kilometers) per pixel to 0.5 mile (810 meters) per pixel.

“The images from the first pass were great, but we were conservative with the camera settings. We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 28 that we think will result in even better views,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team based at Caltech in Pasadena, California.


(6) LUCKY FOR US. Flyover Fandom has the first part of an interview with Walter Jon Williams, who never planned to become a science fiction writer.

DAF: You brought up the Maijstral series which was the first series of science fiction you converted to ebooks. What is it that brought you to science fiction? Because you first started with historical fiction right?

WJW: Yes, I started with historical fiction. I started writing it because I was qualified for it, and secondly there was a historical fiction boom in the late 70s.  I wrote five books of a projected ten-book series, and then the boom turned into a bust and I had no work. So I madly started sending off proposals in all directions for books that I thought I might be able to write: literary novels, mysteries, historicals with a different approach, and then there was this old science fiction proposal that had been bumping around for a few years. And the science fiction proposal was the one that sold.

I honestly hadn’t intended to become a science fiction writer, but it turned out lucky that I did—  the response I got to all my other proposals is that they were just too weird. You hardly ever hear that as a criticism in science fiction.

(7) POLISHED PROS. Nerdlacquer is offering nail polish colors named for SF authors (apparently inspired by color schemes for their book covers). Here’s screen full of samples to look at. So, you can wear Abercrombie, Scalzi, Corey, Leckie, Le Guin, Jemisin. Or, if you don’t like authors, Ithaqua, Azathoth, Cthulhu, General Effing Leia, Kylo, etc.

File 770 covered this in May 2016, but with John Scalzi tweeting images of his polished nails this week, a reminder is timely.

(8) FATAL PERSONAL PRODUCT. The Book Smugglers have released the second title in their Novella Initiative – and you can buy it or try to win a free copy here — “Reenu-You: Michele Tracy Berger on Inspirations & Influences (& Giveaway)”

What if a hair product harbored a deadly virus?

Reenu-You, a sci-fi thriller novella from newcomer Michele Tracy Berger, opens on a summer morning in 1990s New York City. Five women of color wake up with disfiguring purple lesions all over their bodies. Though doctors dismiss it as skin rash, caused perhaps by a new hair product known as Reenu-You, hysteria grows as this unknown disease spreads throughout the city.

At the center of a looming epidemic, these women begin to develop strange powers while medical providers face charges of conspiracy, cover-up and coercion from minority communities as this new malady begins to kill.

Inspired by a true story of company negligence and reminiscent of the early AIDS crisis, ?Reenu-You tackles important ideas about hair, identity, and minority women. Berger also explores friendship and the hidden strength of unlikely heroines forced to confront their deepest fears to save themselves—and their city.

(9) ALSO APPEARING. Who can you see at Worldcon 75? The con has posted a list of program participants with nearly 150 names.

The following are just some of the people who we expect to appear at Worldcon 75. This may include appearing on panels, holding signing sessions, participating in literary beers and Kaffeeklatsches, or taking part in Strolling with the Stars. We will publish more detailed information in the programme guide shortly before the convention.


Paranormal Day

How to Celebrate Paranormal Day There are lots of fun and interesting ways to spend this day. If you’re a fan of scary movies, you’re in loads of luck because ghosts, unidentifiable monsters and aliens are among the most popular horror movie topics in existence. In fact, there is even a movie you may have heard of titled Paranormal Activity about a couple witnessing increasingly disturbing paranormal occurrences in their house. You may have never thought a sheet could be scary, but you may well change your mind after and evening spent watching this movie in the dark!

(11) ANOTHER TV OPTION. “Hulu launches Live TV beta”SixColors’ Dan Moren has the story.

As anticipated, streaming site Hulu has officially launched its Live TV service—albeit with a “beta” tag hung on it because, you know, it’s a web service and that’s just the way those things are done—offering a large slate of channels for one $40-per-month price tag….

But one place where Hulu has set itself apart from its competitors is by bundling in access to its extensive library of on-demand shows. When you sign up for the Live TV plan, you essentially get the Hulu service—which costs $8/month on its own—for free.

Sadly, it’s not the commercial-free plan; you’ll still get ads unless, it seems, you pony up the additional $4 monthly fee to go without them. (And even if you do, you won’t be able to skip commercials in the Live TV content; for DVR shows, you’ll need to pay extra for the “Enhanced DVR” plan which also includes more storage.)

(12) GETTING CONNECTED. Doug Ellis at Black Gate explains “Why You Should Go to Conventions”, especially if you’re an art collector. Not all con art shows are what they once were, however, there’s another big reason to go:

In thinking about it further, I think that my answer was unintentionally deficient in one regard, tied in to conventions. While conventions are often a great place at which to find art, perhaps even more importantly, they’re an incredible place to meet dealers, artists and fellow art collectors and make friends. A network of collecting friends is invaluable if you want to collect; I think that’s likely true no matter what it is that you collect. At least I’ve found that to be true when it comes to collecting pulps – my first collecting passion – as well as illustration art. I’ve probably bought or traded for dozens of pieces of art (and bought thousands of pulps), not at conventions, but through friends that I made at conventions.

(13) THE CREATORS. The Society of Illustrators in New York will have “Drew Friedman’s Heroes of the Comics” artwork on exhibit from May 2-June 3.


Drew Friedman’s two recent books Heroes of the Comics and More Heroes of the Comics, published by Fantagraphics books, depicted the great early comic book creators who entered into the dawn of the business between 1935–1955, a milestone in the early history of comic books. The Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators is proud to present 100 original, meticulous color illustrations from Friedman’s two books.

Among the colorful subjects are comics pioneer Max (M.C.) Gaines, the creators of Superman Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Superman publishers Harry Donenfled and Jack Liebowitz, and comic book legends including Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Will Eisner, (the subject of a large concurrent exhibition also at SI celebrating his 100th birthday), Jack Kirby, Martin Goodman, Harvey Kurtzman, Stan Lee, Wally Wood, William M. Gaines, C.C. Beck, Joe Kubert, Jack Cole, Steve Ditko, Al Jaffee, Carl Barks, Jules Feiffer, James Warren, and many more. Also included in the gallery will be several early female creators including Marie Severin and author Patricia Highsmith who began her career writing for comics, and several African American creators, among them Matt Baker, Alvin Hollingsworth  and Orrin C. Evans. The greats and the near greats, many long forgotten with the passage of time but who deserve recognition for their work, now revived in Friedman’s two books and this exhibition.

(14) KEEP CALM. ScreenRant sends word that “Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water Receives an R Rating”. Why is that news, you wonder, because when did Del Toro ever make a G-rated movie? Well, that track record seems to be creating issues with the picture he’s making this time.

Del Toro announced on his Twitter account on Tuesday that the Motion Picture Association of America has officially given The Shape of Water an R rating. Perhaps to quell concerns about the movie venturing into horror territory, del Toro later clarified on Twitter that The Shape of Water is not a horror movie but a “bit of a fairy tale” and a “fable set in early 1960’s America.”

(15) OKAY, DON’T KEEP CALM. Terence Eden is plenty pissed-off about “Amazon Alexa and Solar Panels”. People who write software will probably enjoy his rant the most, but even I understand this part —

This isn’t AI. Voice interfaces are the command line. But you don’t get tab-to-complete.

Amazon allow you to test your code by typing rather than speaking. I spent a frustrating 10 minutes trying to work out why my example code didn’t work. Want to know why? I was typing “favourite” rather than the American spelling. Big Data my shiny metal arse.

(16) A DIFFERENT VELDT. WWF Hungary–Paper World, on Vimeo, is an animation in which pieces of paper turn into large animals, and was done for the Hungarian branch of the World Wildlife Fund.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day clack.]

79 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/3/17 As The Pixel Is Bent, So Grows The Scroll

  1. @JJ

    I’m sure the element you rot13ed is set up earlier in the book, but I’ll have to try to remember where.

  2. Mark: I’m sure the element you rot13ed is set up earlier in the book, but I’ll have to try to remember where.

    Well, I read it over 2 consecutive evenings, so you’d think I wouldn’t have forgotten it, but I was like, where the hell did that come from, did I miss something? I haven’t taken the book back to the library yet, so I’ll flip through it again tonight to see if I can find it, but I’m not optimistic. I’m not going to read the book again, it’s 400 pages long and I’ve got the other 5 sitting here waiting.

  3. @JJ

    The magic of searching on kindle helped me find:

    Cntr 255 va zl irefvba, Avtugvatnyr gryyf uvz Zbyyl pna qb unrzbznapl naq rkgraq uvf frafr bs irfgvtvn, urapr uvf yngre qrrc qvir vagb irfgvtvn. Cbffvoyl vg’f n ovg zber fcrpgnphyne guna jung unf orra frg hc, ohg ur qrsvavgryl xabjf fur pna qb fbzrguvat gb uryc uvz.

  4. Mark: The magic of searching on kindle helped me find:

    Well, I do remember reading that — but I think it’s a huuuuuuuuuge stretch to get from that to Grant working out a plan that he could do what he did, based on that comment.

    I call that “pulling an Agatha Christie” — setting up a result which there is no way that a reader could get to themselves, based on the clues actually given. 🙄

  5. Come on and tick it.
    Tick another little piece of my scroll now, baby.

  6. If anyone’s interested, you can hear Kage Baker reading The Empress of Mars here. It was recorded by her to be included a limited run of The Empress of Mars that Nightshade was to do but alas that project fell through.

    I’ve got a freebie today, McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld which is being reprinted by Tachypn. We reviewed it many years ago hence this being a freebie. Email me here if you’re interested.

  7. Arifel: you’re not entirely wrong on War For the Oaks (European faerie transplanted without comment), but it’s not so much to North America, in truth, as “to Minneapolis”. Which being geographically smaller (and pretty white) makes it more palatable.

    I also give it a demi-pass* for being one of the first elves and rock n’ roll style urban fantasy books, period. I think even Charles de Lint was pretty thin on remembering to include Indigenous/First Nations stuff in the 80s, though he occasionally went to cultures other than strictly Celtic early on, and he was one of the first (white) authors to even try, a bit clumsily, to include such folklore.

    *demi-pass means I acknowledge it is problematic but consider it less of an issue than I do in things from post 2000. It’s that historical era angle. YMMV and I respect those who find it more problematic and don’t like it on that basis.

  8. @Kendall:

    I’ve read Six-Gun Tarot and enjoyed it. I found it to be a sort of weird-west crossover between Lovecraft and the Revelation of John. Fun stuff, and I plan to buy the sequel if I can find it in paperback.

  9. Randall on May 4, 2017 at 7:14 pm said:


    I’ve read Six-Gun Tarot and enjoyed it. I found it to be a sort of weird-west crossover between Lovecraft and the Revelation of John. Fun stuff, and I plan to buy the sequel if I can find it in paperback.

    I thought that one and the sequel Shotgun Arcana were fun, but I really disliked Nightwise which felt like a bunch of disconnected Constantine fanfic that wasn’t sure if it was trying to be amusing or serious and doing both badly.

  10. @JJ: Grant’s descriptions don’t taper off; that’s part of the rhythm of the story, describing London, how London police work, etc., so if you’re already tired of it, you may or may not last. I enjoy it, even though I don’t know London, so it doesn’t really stick. (Plus I’m listening to the wonderful narrator, heh.)

    As far as the “deus”: V qba’g oryvrir ur xarj sbe fher ubj vg jbhyq jbex bhg – whfg xarj fur pbhyq uryc naq cvaarq uvf ubcrf ba vg. V rkcrpgrq fbzrguvat zber yvxr ur’f or noyr gb genpx jung ur arrqrq naq gura unir gb tb gurer culfvpnyyl. Ba gur bgure cnj, VVEP Avtugvatnyr qvq znxr vg fbhaq yvsr-guerngravat, juvpu frrzrq bqq sbe whfg fbzrguvat gb uryc uvz whfg genpx be rkcnaq uvf frafrf. Pyrneyl vg jnf jnl zber guna gung, fb gura vg znqr zber frafr gung vg jnf qnatrebhf. Ohg V pna frr ubj vg zvtug srry bire gur gbc.

    Anyway, I hope you try the next one (it sounds like you will). Someone else here said it was weaker and then the third improves again, but I didn’t find #2 weaker, and I’m enjoying #3.

    @Randall: Cool, thanks – I’ll check out the sample. FYI the third one is coming out either this year or next (I forget now).

    ETA: @Matt Y – thanks for the feedback!

  11. Kendall: Grant’s descriptions don’t taper off; that’s part of the rhythm of the story, describing London, how London police work, etc.

    Oh, those descriptions are fine. They’re great, even. I enjoy those descriptions.

    What I’m referring to are his descriptions of how he reacts physically when any female of any species wanders within 10 pages of the current scene. I mean, by 50 pages in, we’ve been told repeatedly how he’d love to get his colleague in the sack, but she’s not interested, but wow, he’s really into her and he would really like to get laid, but she’s not interested, blah blah blah — which is why I asked Mark for reassurances that the phrase “Friend Zone” was not going to appear. Oh, look, here’s a loving description of a river spirit naked in the water with nipples, a woman brushing up against him and him getting an erection, and oh isn’t this female’s proximity really getting him aroused, and REALLY DUDE WE GET IT YOU’RE SO HORNY AND YOU’D REALLY LIKE TO GET LAID CAN WE GET ON WITH THE STORY NOW?

    That is the part I find rather tedious.

  12. @Camestros: My work here is done. Look on the bright side, the alcohol in the wine cleaned out your nasal passages.

    @Arifel: I LOVE the Lady Trent books. I wish they’d gotten 1/10th the buzz that Temeraire did — the characters are so great, and the almost-but-not-quite our world allows for much more suspension of disbelief than Temeraire does.

    @Rose Embolism: Seconding those stories, with or without shellfish. The kids (who seem to be not that conversant with… a lot of things) will understand them.

    If you want to get in the big ‘Thu, a good modern one is “The Litany of Earth”, free online and undoubtedly eating abalone.

    @JJ: Both the plotting and Peter get better.

  13. Kendall: rot13

    It wasn’t that I thought the deus ex machina was over-the-top; it was that he “told her what his plan was and went upstairs to get ready”, and then he came back down and implemented the plan and it worked — but there was nothing in the story up to that point — except for the 1 word rot13ed by Mark-kitteh — to even hint that such a plan might be possible.

    It’s as if there was some foreshadowing exposition earlier in the story which had been mistakenly cut out by an editor for being “extraneous” text, so that the ending came completely out of the blue and the reader is thinking, “uh, wha – where’d he get the idea that might be something that would work?”

    lurkertype: Both the plotting and Peter get better.

    I’m delighted to hear that. I am really enjoying the dry, witty, BlackAdderish dialogue and descriptions.

  14. @JJ: OH! Sorry, I thought you were referring to two different things. Hmm, he’s still in his early 20s, but I didn’t really notice much along those lines after book 1. But FYI (minor spoiler) ur trgf vagb n eryngvbafuvc va obbx 2, naq vg trgf fjrngl. But that’s (I feel) different.

  15. @JJ: I think the first book was really just to intruduce everything (like the first Potter), the second is better, even if you might say, its the first done right 😉
    The third I found tedious so it took a while till Ive tackled the fourth, but Ive read that and the fifth back-to-back, because they were both quite good.

    I think you can tell they are written by someone used to write for Dr. Who – They have a “Tv series-feel” to them regarding the structure of several “episodes” and a “season spanning arc”.

  16. @JJ

    I think the final result was a stretch, but Peter definitely knew that something helpful would happen – and so he planned to use it – just that he couldn’t have known quite how plot-resolvingly helpful it would be. It’s a stretch but I don’t think it’s beyond the bounds of dramatic licence.
    That said, having just re-read the whole series (you lot are a terrible temptation) one of my observations is that the conclusions tend to be quite swift and stretch the plot unexpectedly, and sometimes based on off-screen events. The way the narrative sticks to Peter like glue means that sometimes the logical result is that he actually misses things – which is realistic but sometime frustrating.
    (Bad pun and spoiler: the resolution in book 5 is n qrhf rk fgrnz znpuvan)
    My general observations for the series are that its main strengths lie in the narrative voice and the dialogue, which is light, witty and very moreish. It’s the kind of series you can just melt into and enjoy being back with the characters, and while no single book is brilliant they build into a great series.
    Peter growing up (a bit, and rather unevenly) is portrayed well over the series. There’s not enough time passing in the series for him to get over his laddishness completely, but you can see him growing. It’s probably inevitable that some people will bounce off him though.
    The way the magic gets developed through the series via Peter’s desire to Science the Crap out of it is really interesting, and the author does a good job of not letting power levels escalate out of hand – there are no uber-powerful plot tokens used to solve book 2 that you then wonder why they aren’t used in book 3.
    The other thing I really like – and often feel UF series miss – is the sense of place. Peter is written as very aware of the urban landscape, the buildings, and the communities growing around them.

  17. @Mark: I agree. For me the Rivers of London books are like the Discworld novels in that sense that I dont need to read them right away when they come out, but I always like to go back to them, knowing it will be a pleasant reading experience.

  18. @jrlawrence

    I’ve exhausted my abilities to mangle Latin so I’m just going to nod wisely and agree 🙂

  19. @Andrew: I saw that article, and I’ve read Jaynes. The article came across to me as a fun but pointless dorm-room conversation, which falls apart instantly unless you ignore that 1. Jaynes’s notion is entirely unsupported by anything other than his curious interpretations of ancient literature, and 2. even if you take it on faith anyway, Jaynes was saying something much more specific and complicated than “ancient people weren’t conscious”— there is nothing Borg-like about his idea.

  20. @Peer Sylvester: In contrast, my other half read #3 pretty quickly but is finding the first half of #4 a bit slow. It’s possible he just needs a change of pace, though it doesn’t sound like it.

    /GrantStalk! 😉

  21. Eli: I saw that article, and I’ve read Jaynes. The article came across to me as a fun but pointless dorm-room conversation, which falls apart instantly unless you ignore that 1. Jaynes’s notion is entirely unsupported by anything other than his curious interpretations of ancient literature, and 2. even if you take it on faith anyway, Jaynes was saying something much more specific and complicated than “ancient people weren’t conscious”— there is nothing Borg-like about his idea.

    Agreed (I never read Jaynes – but I did hear him speak in the 1980s when he came to my university to speak). I’ve always found his idea to be one of those concepts to be fascinating to think about even though it’s almost certainly wrong; I’d love to see a story with aliens with Jaynes’ type of pre-conscious minds.

  22. I’d love to see a story with aliens with Jaynes’ type of pre-conscious minds.

    Would Blindsight by Peter Watts be close enough?

  23. Turtledove wrote a book in which Jaynes’ concept is central. Let’s see if I can recover the title. Back soon, hopefully.

  24. “Between the Rivers”, though, does have actual visible, physical gods in.

  25. Lis Carey: Bluff, published in Analog in 1985, explicitly references The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes, and is discussed at http://turtledove.wikia.com/wiki/Bluff

    There are a few Turtledoves that I missed in that era because I was only subscribed to Asimov at the time; I’ll look for it.

    Darren Garrison: Would Blindsight by Peter Watts be close enough?

    That one has been on my list for ages – I’ll move it forward. Thanks.

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