Pixel Scroll 6/18/23 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) STOKERCON 2024. Next year the Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in San Diego, CA from May 30-June 2. Here’s the Eventbrite listing: StokerCon 2024 Tickets.

(2) 3-BODY TRAILER FROM G-O-T CREATORS. “3 Body Problem: Netflix Show From Game of Thrones Creators Has Trailer” reports Variety.

At long last, Netflix has revealed the first footage of its highly anticipated sci-fi epic from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — their first large-scale project at the streamer since signing a mega overall deal in 2019 — and Alexander Woo.

Based on the book series by Cixin Liu, the eight-episode drama, which recently wrapped production, will launch in January 2024.

Per Netflix’s logline for the sci-fi series, “A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time to a group of brilliant scientists in the present day. As the laws of nature unravel before their eyes, five former colleagues reunite to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.”…

(3) BAD B.O. “Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ Falls Flat, Adding to Worries About the Brand” opines the New York Times.

Pixar is damaged as a big-screen brand.

That was one of the rather glum takeaways from the weekend box office, which found “Elemental,” a $200 million-plus Pixar original, arriving to a disastrous $29.5 million in domestic ticket sales. “The Flash,” a Warner Bros. superhero spectacle that cost about $200 million, also struggled, taking in a lethargic $55.1 million, according to Comscore, which compiles ticketing data.

“Hard to sugarcoat this,” said David A. Gross, a film consultant who publishes a newsletter on box office numbers.

Questions about Pixar’s health have swirled in Hollywood and among investors since last June, when the Disney-owned studio released “Lightyear” to disastrous results. How could Pixar, the gold standard of animation studios for nearly three decades, have gotten a movie so wrong — especially one about Buzz Lightyear, a bedrock “Toy Story” character?

Maybe pandemic-worried families were not quite ready to return to theaters. Or maybe, as some box office analysts speculated, Disney had weakened the Pixar brand by using its films to build the Disney+ streaming service. Starting in late 2020, Disney debuted three Pixar films in a row (“Soul,” “Turning Red” and “Luca”) online, bypassing theaters altogether.

By streaming standards, those three movies were runaway hits. But Pixar’s most recent box office success was in 2019, when “Toy Story 4” took in $1.1 billion worldwide…

(4) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE PIECE THEATRE. Cora Buhlert has posted a new Masters of the Universe toy photo story — or rather two short ones in time for the US Father’s Day: “Two Links and a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Double Feature: ‘New Dad’ and ‘Orko Interruptus’”.

…This version of King Randor is based on the 2002 cartoon, where Randor was protrayed as a somewhat younger and more active character than his Filmation counterpart. While the Filmation Randor mostly set around on his throne and occasionally gave a speech, the 2002 Randor charged into battle alongside his warriors on occasion and also seemed to do more actual governing. The 2002 cartoon also established that Randor was captain of the guard, i.e. Teela’s current, before he became king. All in all, I’d say that the 2002 cartoon features the best overall King Randor – and Randor is a difficult character, because his raison d’etre is to be the parent who does not understand or even see their child – though the Netflix CGI features the best version of Randor as a father. In case you’re wondering which version of King Randor is the worst, that would be the King Randor of Masters of the Universe Revelation, who narrowly missed winning the 2021 Darth Vader Parenthood Award

(5) AGENT OF CHAOS. But trolls have made Father’s Day rough for Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as he told Twitter readers:

Hows my Father’s day going? Saw @virtuallyleslie wrote a racist manifesto where she said I only get attention cuz of political correctness. Her supremacist cult friends are on it, including the one impersonating my dead father who was gruesomely murdered, to defame & harass me

Patrick S. Tomlinson also has commented on what Leslie Varney wrote, and the significance of it coming from an agent. Thread starts here.

Leslie Varney wrote a reply thread that starts here.

(6) ONCE UPON A BIRTHDAY. Brian Murphy profiles Lin Carter for what would have been his 93rd birthday: “Lin Carter: Enthusiast of the Fantastic” at Goodman Games.

…. I love Carter’s illuminating and occasionally gushing introductions to the volumes he edited. Introducing readers to William Morris in the BAFS, Carter makes a compelling case that his The Wood Beyond the World (1895) was the first-ever novel of heroic fantasy ever written in a true secondary world, quipping that “it was the first of all such tales of adventurous wanderings through the marvelous landscapes of worlds which have somehow managed to avoid the wear and tear of ever having actually existed.”…

(7) FREE READ. Issue 7 of Whetstone Amateur Magazine of Sword and Sorcery has just come out and is available as a free download: Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Pulp Sword and Sorcery: Issue 7.


1999[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in The Sky is our Beginning this Scroll.  It won a much deserved Hugo at Chicon 2000 along with a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and a Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. It was also nominated for a HOMer and a Nebula as well. Damn impressive I’d say.

The novel is a loose prequel and is set twenty thousand years earlier to his A Fire Upon the Deep which was published previously. 

So let’s get to the Beginning…

The manhunt extended across more than one hundred light-years and eight centuries. It had always been a secret search, unacknowledged even among some of the participants. In the early years, it had simply been encrypted queries hidden in radio broadcasts. Decades and centuries passed. There were clues, interviews with The Man’s fellow-travelers, pointers in a half-dozen contradictory directions: The Man was alone now and heading still farther away; The Man had died before the search ever began; The Man had a war fleet and was coming back upon them. 

With time, there was some consistency to the most credible stories. The evidence was solid enough that certain ships changed schedules and burned decades of time to look for more clues. Fortunes were lost because of the detours and delays, but the losses were to a few of the largest trading Families, and went unacknowledged. They were rich enough, and this search was important enough, that it scarcely mattered. For the search had narrowed: The Man was traveling alone, a vague blur of multiple identities, a chain of one-shot jobs on minor trading vessels, but always moving back and back into this end of Human Space. The hunt narrowed from a hundred light-years, to fifty, to twenty—and a half-dozen star systems. 

And finally, the manhunt came down to a single world at the coreward end of Human Space. Now Sammy could justify a fleet specially for the end of the hunt. The crew and even most of the owners would not know the mission’s true purpose, but he had a good chance of finally ending the search.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 18, 1917 Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet almost all of you have never seen it. (It gets a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Of course his major non-genre role was as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel which I’ve seen every episode of at least three times. Really I have. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 18, 1931 Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 18, 1942 Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in XeroYandro and many other zines such as KippleParsection and Psi-Phi. At university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish  autobiography is  How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him in a obituary here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 18, 1958 Jody Lee, 65. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology from DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her most stellar website is here.
  • Born June 18, 1960 Barbara Broccoli, 63. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which or may not be genre depending on how you view each one of them. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago. 
  • Born June 18, 1947 Linda Thorson, 76. Best known for playing Tara King, the only actual spy in The Avengers. For her role in that series, she received a special BAFTA at the 2000 BAFTA TV Awards along with the other three actresses from the series, Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. She’s also been in Return of the SaintTales from the DarksideStar Trek: The Next GenerationKung Fu: The Legend ContinuesF/X: The Series and Monsters
  • Born June 18, 1949 Chris Van Allsburg, 74. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it. 


(11) ROLLING THE CREDITS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Descendants of Jack Kirby seem none too happy about the recently-released Disney+ documentary on Stan Lee’s life. Granddaughter Jillian Kirby has published a statement from her father Neal Kirby at the latter’s request. 

Among other things, Neil provides an analogy for Lee having an idea for a character to others bringing the character to life. “In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence—their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David—his genius, his vision, his creativity.” “Jack Kirby’s Son, Neal Kirby Responds to Stan Lee Disney+ Documentary” at Bleeding Cool.

The following is an excerpt of the statement from Neal Kirby, son of the late Jack Kirby.

…I (000ps!) understand that, as a “documentary about Stan Lee,” most of the narrative is in his voice, literally and figuratively. It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters. Stan Lee had the fortunate circumstance to have access to the corporate megaphone and media, and he used these to create his own mythos as to the creation of the Marvel character pantheon. He made himself the voice of Marvel. So, for several decades he was the “only” man standing, and blessed with a long life, the last man standing (my father died in 1994). It should also be noted and is generally accepted that Stan Lee had a limited knowledge of history, mythology, or science.

On the other hand, my father’s knowledge of these subjects, to which I and many others can personally attest, was extensive. Einstein summed it up better; “More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.”

If you were to look at a list and timeline of Marvel’s characters from 1960 through 1966, the period in which the vast majority of Marvel’s major characters were created during Lee’s tenure, you will see Lee’s name as a co-creator on every character, with the exception of the Silver Surfer, solely created by my father. Are we to assume Lee had a hand in creating every Marvel character? Are we to assume that the other co-creator never walked into Lee’s office and said, “Stan, I have a great idea for a character!” According to Lee, it was always his idea. Lee spends a fair amount of time talking about how and why he created the Fantastic Four, with only one fleeting reference to my father. Indeed, most comics historians recognize that my father based the Fantastic Four on a 1957 comic he created for DC, “Challengers of the Unknown,” even naming Ben Grimm (The Thing) after his father Benjamin, and Sue Storm after my older sister Susan.

Though the conflict between Lee and my father concerning creator credit gets glanced over with little mention, there is more attention paid to the strife between Lee and Steve Ditko, with Lee’s voice proclaiming, “It was my idea, therefore I created the character,” Ditko’s rebuttal being that his art and storyline is what brought life to Spiderman. In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence – their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David – his genius, his vision, his creativity.

I was very fortunate. My father worked at home in his Long Island basement studio we referred to as “The Dungeon,” usually 14 – 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the artists, writers, inkers, etc. worked at home, not in the Marvel offices as depicted in the program. Through middle and high school, I was able to stand at my father’s left shoulder, peer through a cloud of cigar smoke, and witness the Marvel Universe being created. I am by no means a comics historian, but there are few, if any, that have personally seen or experienced what I have, and know the truth with first-hand knowledge.

My father retired from comic books in the early 1980s and of course, passed away in 1994. Lee had over 35 years of uncontested publicity, much naturally, with the backing and blessing of Marvel as he boosted the Marvel brand as a side effect of boosting himself. The decades of Lee’s self-promotion culminated with his cameo appearances in over 35 Marvel films starting with “X-Men” in 2000, thus cementing his status as the creator of all things Marvel to an otherwise unknowing movie audience of millions, unfamiliar with the true history of Marvel comics. My father’s first screen credit didn’t appear until the closing crawl at the end of the film adaptation of Iron Man in 2008, after Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber. The battle for creator’s rights has been around since the first inscribed Babylonian tablet. It’s way past time to at least get this one chapter of literary/art history right. ‘Nuff said.

(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] On Thursday’s episode there was a full category of “21st Century horror novels”, which the contestants took in order.

  • Returning champ Holly Hassel
  • Kiran MacCormick
  • Suzanne Goldlust

$200: Christina Henry’s “Looking Glass” is the last book in a chilling trilogy about a woman with this 5-letter name

Returning champ Holly Hassel tried: “What is Megan?”

Her name was Alice. (As in “Through the Looking-Glass”….)

$400: In Grady Hendrix’ “How to Sell” this place, it has a sealed attic & creepy puppet collection & Redfin will be no help

Suzanne Goldlust knew or guessed: “What is a haunted house?”

$600: The Scooby Gang was often accused of being these, the title of a book by Edgar Cantero about 4 teens with a telepathic pooch

Suzanne said, “What are meddling teens?”

Holly tried “What are those meddling kids?” but this was not accepted, as the title of the book was just “Meddling Kids”.

$800: Megan James pays homage to this horror master & his creation Cthulhu with her graphic novel “Innsmouth”

Holly knew this one.

$1000: Clive Barker’s “Scarlet Gospel” revisits the Hellraiser universe where this prickly priest of Hell mans the pulpit

Holly knew this one too: “Who is Pinhead?”

In the Double Jeopardy round, there was one:

TV Criminals, $800: The villainous supe Homelander on this series is the leader of The Seven, a group of some not-so-super heroes

This was triple stumper: nobody was familiar with the comic “The Boys” or its Amazon Prime adaptation. (I quibble with the question here. The Seven are super enough! It’s the “hero” part that should be getting the “not-so-“.)

(13) TURA SATANA. [Item by Steve Green.] Tura Satana, whose movie credits included The Astro-Zombies (1968) and its 2004 ‘reimaging’, is now an action figure, based upon her role in the 1965 cult classic Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill!

Ms Satana, who died in 2011, was smart enough to trademark her own likeness, and this is apparently the first officially-licensed figure. It’s a collaboration between White Elephant Toyz and the publisher PlaidStallions (as Odeon Toys). “Tura Satana Action Figure Pre-Orders now open!”.

… This limited edition action figure is 8″ tall and features a detailed outfit, natural hair, motorcycle gloves, and boots. Tura is ready to kick your other action figures’ asses.

Each Tura Satana Action figure comes in vintage style packaging with striking artwork by Joseph Michael Linsner, creator of “Dawn.”…

(14) FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN IN SPACE. The National Air and Space Museum remembers “Sally Ride”.

40 years ago today, Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, launching aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission.

Dr. Sally Kristen Ride was a physicist, astronaut, educator, and advocate for young people in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Best remembered as the first American woman in space, Ride’s tenure as an astronaut was but one chapter in a long and impactful career.

Ride was accepted to the astronaut corps in 1978 as a member of Astronaut Group 8—NASA’s first astronaut class to include women. On June 18, 1983, when Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, she challenged long-held stereotypes about who would make a good astronaut. Ride spent more than two weeks in space over the course of two missions, STS-7 and STS-41G. Ride operated one of the Space Shuttle’s most important tools—the robotic arm—and loved taking photos of Earth from space.

When Ride retired from NASA in 1987, she dedicated herself to educating and inspiring learners. For more than 18 years she taught physics at the University of California San Diego. In 2001, Ride founded Imaginary Lines (now Sally Ride Science) with her partner, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, to inspire girls and young women to explore science careers.

(15) ANKYLOBITERS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A new dinosaur has been found on the Isle of Wight so the BBC reports.

Don’t worry, it’s dead! So we are all safe. (Phew.) If you do go to the Isle of Wight to hunt for dinosaurs (they really all are dead) then I recommend a beer and food at the Crab and Lobster Inn. The view from outside to the left is mainland Brit Cit while straight ahead and left is the English Channel with a view of The Nab tower a few miles offshore and transatlantic liners going around the point.

But if you can’t be bothered then there is the primary research paper.

…It is the first new species of armoured dinosaur to be found on the island since 1865 and belongs to the same family – the ankylosaurs.

Though fearsome in appearance with its blade-like armour, the giant reptile – which has been named Vectipelta barretti – only ate plants.

It was discovered in rocks dating back between 66 and 145 million years….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Here’s the teaser trailer for One Piece.

Here’s a first look at the live action adaptation of the most popular manga in history, written by Eiichiro Oda. ONE PIECE sets sail on August 31st only on Netflix.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, David Goldfarb, Steve Green, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

33 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/18/23 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

  1. (8) One of my all time favorites – I don’t know how many times I’ve read it (at least 6 times).

  2. (3) On the other hand, I’ve started seeing columns suggesting that superhero movies are losing their luster.
    (5) Condolences to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.
    Birthdays: Richard Boone – for those who’ve never seen him, I’ve friends who’ve commented he couldn’t be a star today – he was very much not handsome. But… in Paladin, which my family watched religiously, he played a fixer. “Problems solved”… and often not with his six-gun.
    (12) Not-so-super-heroes… but who else but me remembers the Inferior Five?
    (14) Didn’t mention that I don’t know who didn’t have a crush on her.

  3. @Mark, re (12), I remember the Inferior Five, loved those initial issues as they first appeared (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inferior_Five), enjoyed the “related” Angel And The Ape, loved Grant Morrison cameo’ing MerryMan in an issue of Animal Man. I’ll have to re-read the WikiP entry to then see about finding those other appearances in DCU’s streaming library, which, like pretty much all the online comics offerings, ain’t as good-searchable as I’d like.

  4. (5) Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki does not deserve nor warrant all of the hate and vitriol that has been thrown at him since he has emerged as one of the bright lights of sff literature this past decade.

    It truly sickens me to think that people seem to think less of his talents, accomplishments and him as a person because of the color of his skin and his pride of his African roots.

    It’s incidents and behavior like this that make me think that these people are more representative of the early 20th century than the current one, which, intellectually speaking, is quite a comedown for them.

    The should, and will be, roundly condemned…

  5. @mark: I certainly remember them. I liked Phil Foglio’s take on them best.

  6. 12) Someone should tell them he really hates being called ‘Pinhead’.

  7. 2) “Three Body Trailer”–On seeing that, the first thing that came to my mind was one of those obnoxiously long semis pulling three trailers.

  8. 3) IIRC, there were concerns about Pixar surviving as a viable and independent studio when it was purchased by Disney.

    8) I recall enjoying “A Fire Upon the Deep” immensely. “A Deepness in the Sky”, not as much. My favorite Vernor Vinge works are the Realtime series.

    To have peace with this peculiar life; to accept what we do not understand; to wait calmly for what awaits us, you have to be wiser than I am – M.C. Escher

  9. (3) I read a really good review of “Elemental” somewhere — a review that said it ranked with the best of Pixar. But it doesn’t have a chance. It would suck if this movie flops over “reasons” only to become celebrated and beloved later. Yes, maybe putting movies on Disney+ after a very short waiting time was not a good idea…

    (5) What the front lawn?!

    (9a) I am one of the few who saw Richard Boone in “The Last Dinosaur.” Appropriately enough, I saw it with my Dad. 🙂

    (9b) I love the Jody Lee Valdemar covers. I know some don’t like them at all — well, you do you. (If you don’t like how the horses look, keep in mind that they are not really horses. 😉 ) I came across someone in a writing community who disliked the covers so much that she refused to read any Mercedes Lackey books because she assumed the books would be “like the covers” or something, whatever that means. Talk about wrongheaded — also, talk about not understanding much about publishing and the part an author plays in picking a cover (usually very little).

  10. @Chris M. Barkley
    Some of them are more insidious than the trolls. They’ll take part in actual discussions — but then they’ll say that “such-and-such” is not a good writer. They won’t give evidence to back it up. They will confuse (willfully or not) “I don’t like him” or “I didn’t understand that story” with “He’s a bad writer.” And too many others will lap that stuff up without having to think for themselves.

    @Patrick Morris Miller

    Someone should tell them he really hates being called ‘Pinhead’.

    It’s a real … puzzle…

  11. I remember enjoying THE INFERIOR FIVE’s initial appearances in SHOWCASE and the first six issues of THE INFERIOR FIVE ongoing series; I thought those six issues were some of Mike Sekowsky’s most effective work. (Sekowsky’s art usually left me going “meh”.) The artistic team changed with issue #7, and the new artwork did not work for me at all, and I stopped reading. (Goes to show that even when written by the same writer, different artists can give the presentation of those words completely different effects.)

  12. Maybe part of the reason “Elementals” numbers were low was a lack of advance publicity? I wasn’t even aware of the film’s existence until a couple of days ago, much less than it’s being in theaters.

    (Had the same experience with “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” earlier this year. Finally watched it on streaming a few weeks ago and found it a lot of fun. Actually enjoyed it better than the first “Shazam!” film.)

    If “Elementals” had had half the publicity “Black Adam” was given (teasers and trailers months in advance), pretty sure its numbers would have been much better.

  13. I’ve been seeing ads non-stop for “Elementals”. (Can’t say they’ve wanted me to see it in the theaters, though. I’ve been a huge fan of Pixar films over the years, but this doesn’t feel like a Pixar film.)

  14. @Bruce Arthurs
    They did that with “John Carter of Mars”, also: little publicity, then whining about poor performance.

  15. @Anne Marble
    I dunno, I think there’s a case to be made that “I didn’t understand the story” is evidence that “He’s a bad writer”. It’s all subjective.

  16. @ P J Evans
    I concur. The only places I (in the UK) saw any publicity for John Carter of Mars was (a) an ad on the ‘Miniclip’ (mostly children’s) games site (which I believe was/is fairly obscure), and (b) a mention of it on the blog/webcomic of Sidney Padua (The Amazing Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage), who happened to have been one of the film’s animators.

  17. “Can’t say they’ve wanted me to see it in the theaters”

    Whoops, that should have read “Can’t say they’ve made want to see it in the theaters.”

    Sorry for the incoherent sentence.

  18. “…made me want to see it…” (My browser decided to post the message in its own before I could correct that.)

  19. @bill: I dunno, I think there’s a case to be made that “I didn’t understand the story” is evidence that “He’s a bad writer”. It’s all subjective.

    There’s an equal case to be made that “I didn’t understand the story” is evidence that “You’re a bad reader” (The “You” not referring to you, here.)

    One of my favorite quotes from a writer is from John M. Ford (I believe I read this on James Davis Nicoll’s website at some point):

    Editor: You’re not making it easy on the reader.
    Ford: I’m not interested in making it easy on the reader.

  20. This post is the first time I’ve heard anything about Pixar’s Elemental. We’re big Pixar fans in this house and have a Disney+ subscription, but never saw any ads about it online or on streaming channels. Or never noticed them.

  21. I’m not the target audience for Pixar movies, but I had no idea that Elemental even existed until I saw a review a few days ago. Meanwhile, I saw plenty of promotion, trailers, tie-in toys, etc… for Lightyear, which also underpeformed.

  22. @bill: I dunno, I think there’s a case to be made that “I didn’t understand the story” is evidence that “He’s a bad writer”. It’s all subjective

    There’s an awful lot of readers out there who are not particularly good at picking up what any given author is putting down, so all else being equal if someone says “I didn’t understand the story” I tend to assume it’s on them. In this case it’s very much all else not being equal, and if someone says they didn’t understand a Tomlinson story I’m going to admit the possibility that they’re malicious.

    I personally have never read anything by Tomlinson, but he has more than several books out from a major publisher (or publishers, I didn’t look that closely), and it’s hard for me to credit that he could do that without being at least ‘good enough’ in getting things across to most readers. There’s always the possibility that he’s the kind of author whose prose is dense and subtle and rewards close reading, like Wolfe or Cherryh or, as PhilRM says, John M. Ford, or so on, but if that’s the case his blurbs are doing him an incredible disservice and I’d have to wonder how nobody in my friend groups — who, like me, like this kind of stuff — have missed it.

  23. Like I said, it’s all subjective. There’s no objective way to show that a writer is good, or not good. So it boils down to each reader’s opinion. If I like a story, the writer is good. If you dislike the same story, or you don’t understand it, or it doesn’t reach you in some way, then the writer (in the specific relationship that exists, in the confines of that story, between the writer and you) failed. And that is as good a definition of a bad writer as one who doesn’t spell well, or has flat characters, or creates plot holes, or writes ungrammatical sentences.

    Two contradictory opinions about the same writer don’t mean that either is wrong, because every reader experiences a story, and its writer, differently.

    All of this is a reaction to the idea that there is “evidence” that supports or disproves the idea that “X is a good/bad writer”.

  24. I’m sad to hear people say they hadn’t heard about Elemental. We were told that it was going to be marketed aggressively. It was shown at Cannes and the reviews I read afterwards were pretty lukewarm. However, I saw it on Sunday and really enjoyed it.

  25. @bill: And that is as good a definition of a bad writer as one who doesn’t spell well, or has flat characters, or creates plot holes, or writes ungrammatical sentences.

    While I don’t agree with that at all, and don’t think your usage of “good” and “bad” is particularly apt in this case, let’s ignore all that. You’re the one who said “I think there’s a case to be made that ‘I didn’t understand the story’ is evidence that ‘He’s a bad writer’.” Full stop. By your own argument, there’s no such thing as a good or bad writer. The only statement you can make is “He’s a bad writer for this particular reader.”

  26. I get the impression Disney isn’t all sure how to reach people in these social media days, because I saw the same issue with Strange World; people patently in the exact target audience missed all the previews, while others, not necessarily in that audience, felt inundated by it. I think that the difference is partly streaming vs tv, and which social media place they use as their base, but I also feel like there are fewer posters and such out and about.

    (I’ve seen a bit more advertising for Elemental than Strange World, but the difference is mostly promoted content on Twitter.)

    It’s also up against Across the Spiderverse; I can say I am planning a movie outing this week or next, and it isn’t to Elemental…

  27. Re: Bad reader/bad writer

    There are absolutely cases where the writer is the problem just as there are cases where the reader is the problem. And sometimes, it’s both! The writer wrote something that is clear, and the reader is capable but perhaps had different expectations when they picked it up.

    bill’s punch list of writerly flaws is a pretty good one.

    flat Characters – (my preferential description is “cardboard” FWIW)
    Plot holes

    Minor failings in any category are forgivable. Non-trivial failings in more than one of those categories (an SGCP score, if you will) drive down my enjoyment on an exponential basis.

    Re: Elemental

    I was well aware of the movie but didn’t see much that was of interest to me. It sounded a bit like Inside Out but with less charm. My awareness of the movie may be a bit odd as I rarely watch anything that involves ads. Maybe their YouTube budget was strong.

    The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing. – Isaac Asimov

  28. I just saw Elemental and it’s good. Really really good. But I can see how it could be difficult to market. Not really a kids’ movie, or one with a built in audience.

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