Pixel Scroll 6/14/16 The Scroll Above The Port Was The Color of a Pixel, Encoded in a Dead Website

(1) BIG CON BUSINESS. At ICv2 Rob Salkowitz analyzes “Three Convention Trends We Could Do Without”, art scammers, pay to (cos)play and –

Indifference to fan experience. The rising prominence of cons means more and more families and individuals plan vacations and big-ticket trips around these experiences. The expectations are higher, and more at stake for the business in delivering great experiences.

Naturally, each year, there are always a few bad cons, and bad moments at good cons. These are complex events to organize, and well-meaning folks can get in over their heads. I find it’s best to never attribute to malevolence what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

But as the industry becomes more competitive and conventions become more templated, it’s easy to see how organizers can get so focused on the “best practices” for separating fans from their money that they lose sight of the big picture: that this whole business is built on fun and passion.

The more shows become dependent on tightly-booked celebrities, the more likely that some fans will get the runaround. It’s already astounding to me how much some fans will put up with – and spend – to get a few seconds and a photo with a famous media personality. But when cons lose control of this process, either because they are not following through on little details like whether the photos actually came out properly, or because they are having a behind-the-scenes business dispute with their talent, as happened at Houston’s Space City Comic Con a few weeks ago, it’s the fans who suffer.

(2) THREE BODY. Carl Slaughter delivers another awesome interview: “Liu Cixin, The 3 Body Problem, and the Growth of SF in China”. Where? Here!

CARL SLAUGHTER: Why was science fiction not taken seriously in China until several years ago?

LIU CIXIN: Actually, the 80s was a peak period for Chinese science fiction.  Some books during that period sold as many as 4 million copies.  When public officials deemed parts of science fiction socially unhealthy, publishers went through a slump.  In the 21st century, science fiction in China made a comeback.  This might be related to China’s modernization.  Modernization focuses people’s attention on the future.  They see the future as full of opportunities, as well as crisis and challenges.  This set the stage for the development of science fiction and an interest in this literary form.

(3) GAMER. In “Guest Post: Better Sci-Fi Through Gaming, by Yoon Ha Lee”, the author talks about growing up gaming, for the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Not that I needed writing a novel an excuse to play games, mind you. But it made for useful background. One of the major characters in the novel basically is a game designer; he comes  from the Shuos faction, which likes using games and game design in its pedagogy. It’s something I can trace back to my excellent 8th grade teacher Mr. Capin, who taught social studies and made use of simulations. I’ll never forget the Middle East sim, in which the class was divided up into different nations. I was assigned to “Israel.” Mr. Capin also played the role of the USA, and from time to time, the “USA” would drop “foreign aid” on us. The other groups hated us instantly. Another time, we did the “Roman Senate,” with Mr. Capin playing the role of “Julius Caesar.” He gave me the opportunity to try to stop him, so long as I didn’t spoil what was to come. I was insufficiently persuasive, and he assassinated me. (I have never been prouder to have a teacher announce, “Senator Yoon is dead.” God knows, that’s the closest I’ll ever come to a government position!) It was very visceral, and I’ve never forgotten how vivid the lessons became in that format.

(4) GHOSTBUSTED. “Doc” Geressey, a fixture at cons in NC, SC, and VA for several years, known for having a very exact Ghostbusters replica vehicle and dressing up as a Ghostbuster with friends, has been charged with soliciting a child on social media.

The Gaston Gazette reports:

Michael “Doc” Robert Geressy, 36, of South New Hope Road, has been charged with soliciting a child for sex act by a computer and appearing to meet a child.

Detectives with the Lincolnton Police Department conducted an undercover sting operation involving Geressy. An officer posed as a 14-year-old child on social media. Geressy reportedly discussed meeting to engage in sexual activity.

When Geressy arrived at the predetermined location and was arrested, he was wearing a black suit, tie and sunglasses, police said, like characters in the movie, “Men in Black.” Geressy showed up driving a 1987 Ford Crown Victoria that is a replica of the car used in the movie, according to reports. The vehicle had emergency light equipment as well as after-market toggle switches to replicate the car seen in the movie, police say.

Another member of The Carolina Ghostbusters told the reporter that the group disbanded a year ago, however, they were advertised as appearing at XCON World in Myrtle Beach last month.


(5) MESZAROS OBIT. Michu Meszaros, an actor who brought the titular alien in ’80s sitcom “Alf” to life, has died reports Variety. He was 76.

I had no idea – I thought Alf was a puppet….

(6) TEMERAIRE. Kate Nepveu reviews the series finale: “The Temeraire Series Sticks the Landing: Non-Spoiler Review of League of Dragons”, at Tor.com.

Let me put the conclusion up front: League of Dragons sticks the landing, and if you like the series overall, you should read it. It handles gracefully the general challenges of concluding a long series, and it has lots of the best parts of the series to date, and not that much of the worst.

The general challenges are, by this point, fairly well known. The final book of a long series has to address long-standing problems, without being boringly obvious; surprise the reader, without being unfair; maintain continuity, without letting past decisions unduly constrict the story; and give the reader a satisfying sense of where the important characters wind up, without overstaying its welcome.

I think League of Dragons does well on all these fronts.

(7) A PG-RATED DRAGON. Disney dropped the official trailer for Pete’s Dragon today.


  • June 14, 1938 — The first Superman comic book — Action Comic No. 1 — was published


  • June 14, 1909 – Burl Ives, the voice of Gepetto in a Pinocchio TV movie, and Sam the Snowman in Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, who also had a role in an episode of Night Gallery.
  • June 14, 1949 – Harry Turtledove

(10) WHY WAIT FOR THE MOVIE? Based on viewing the trailer, BBC popular culture writer Nicholas Barber gives the Ghostbusters remake a thumb’s-down, but only for the “right” reasons: “Why the sexists get Ghostbusters wrong”.

Fast-forward 32 years, and it doesn’t look as if much of that innovation and counter-cultural grubbiness has made it into the new film. From what we have seen of it so far, Feig’s version will be a slavish copy of Reitman’s – right down to the cameos by Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man – except with bright and shiny CGI replacing practical effects, and all-for-one togetherness replacing cynical opportunism. But the one thing it has got right is its casting. After all, the Ghostbusters were always meant to be unconventional underdogs. They were meant to be the last people you would expect to save the world from demonic forces – just as the film as a whole was meant to challenge your preconceptions of what a summer blockbuster could be. And one ingenious way to give both the new film and its protagonists that pioneering freshness is to have women in the lead roles.

(11) RADIANCE. Speculiction hosts Jesse Hudson’s “Review of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente”.

Working with the art of filmmaking, the relationship between the fictional and the real, and Hollywood of old, Radiance is a novel that possesses every ounce of Valente’s literary awareness and fervor for language. Paul Di Filippo calls it “uncategorizable fantastika,” which is, in fact, a shortcut from Valente’s own more complex but accurate description: “a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery.” Dynamic to say the least, the milieu is never allowed to desiccate into simple retro-pulp homage, going further to tell a rich, multi-faceted tale of one woman’s life and legacy in Hollywood’s Golden Age—or what it would have been were the solar system alive with humanity.

(12) MONEY IN HAND. Buy a first edition of Logan’s Run, signed and decorated by Bill Nolan, from Captain Ahab’s Rare Books.

  1. Nolan, William F. and George Clayton Johnson. LOGAN’S RUN – INSCRIBED TO HERB YELLIN. New York: The Dial Press, 1967. First American Edition. First Printing. Octavo (23cm); red pebbled paper-covered boards, with titles stamped in black on spine; dustjacket; [10], 134pp. Inscribed by the author to his long-time friend and publisher on the half-title page: “A GEN-U-INE LOGAN 1ST!! / To Herb, with hand, and with friendship, Bill Nolan / June 4, ’80.” At the center of the page Nolan has drawn an open hand with crystal disc in red, blue, and black ink; he has also tipped a typed 41-line bio of himself (measuring 2.75″ x 3.5″) onto the opposite page. Pinpoint wear to spine ends and corners, with upper rear board corner gently tapped (though still sharp); very Near Fine. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $3.95), lightly shelfworn, with a few short tears, shallow loss at crown, with a few small chips along edges of front panel; an unrestored, Very Good+ example.

Nolan’s best-known work, a novel which takes place “after a strange act of nuclear terrorism, forcing the remaining population into underground keeps; a youth culture takes over, instituting the dystopian rule that all those over twenty-one must be killed to combat overpopulation” (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction). Basis for Michael Anderson’s Oscar-nominated 1976 film, starring Michael York and Farrah Fawcett. Sargent, p.144.             $1,750.00

Logans Run nolan auto

(13) SIMAK FAN. The Traveler at Galactic Journey is excited about this recently-completed serial: “[June 14, 1961] Time is the simplest thing… (The Fisherman, by Clifford Simak)”.

If you’re a fan of Cliff’s, you know that he excels at writing these intensely personal stories, particularly when they have (as this one does) a rural tinge.  The former Fisherman’s transformation into something more than human is fascinating.  Blaine’s voyage of self-discovery and self-preservation is an intimate one, a slow journey with a growing and satisfying pay-off.  The pace drags a little at times, and Simak adopts this strange habit of beginning a good many of his sentences with the auxiliary words “for” and “and,” which lends an inexorable, detached tone to the proceedings.

Still, it’s an unique book, one that I suspect will contend for a Hugo this year.  It single-handedly kept Analog in three-star territory despite the relative poor quality of its short stories and science articles.

I won’t spoil things for The Traveler by blabbing about what else came out in 1961 if you won’t….

(14) THE SPY WHO SLAGGED ME. James Bond vs Austin Powers – Epic Rap Battles of History – Season 5.

[Thanks to Laura Haywood-Cory, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/14/16 The Scroll Above The Port Was The Color of a Pixel, Encoded in a Dead Website

  1. (2) Okay, but I was a bit confused by the lead-in and the picture following.

  2. @Iphinome

    I like getting my books autographed and I like to sew, though my costumes are nothing like the elaborate stuff heavy

    I get that and I’m not questioning how any one should have fun at a con. I know people who are hardcore cosplayers and the stuff they do is unbelievable. I just don’t really want to get my picture taken with them to save.

    As for autographs, I have a few books but they were all from readings I attended and actually got to talk to the writer or artist or whomever. There’s a connection there. Where as standing in line and paying $100 to exchange a couple of pleasant words and get an autographed picture? That just doesn’t have any real value to me personally.

  3. For me, autographs are a tangible representation of a connection to an author who (at least vaguely) knows me and I know them.

    A GRRM signature? Meh. Not interested. Not even the signature of beloved deceased authors I never met, like Zelazny or Vance. Not my bliss.

    Now, I treasure the signed ARC of Poisoned Blade that Kate Elliott sent me. I met her at Loncon, I like her, she likes me. We chat online. That signature is gold, to me., YMMV.

  4. The day I found a copy of one of my books had the autograph of its previous owner, possibly the best young poet in America till the SOB killed himself, I was pretty thrilled. I never met the man myself, as that was twelve days before I moved to town, but I sure am glad to have that book anyway.

  5. My attitude to signatures: I have about a dozen books autographed by Charles de Lint. The ones I bought that way (At the time, I could not find his older books any other way), especially the one with someone else’s name in it, are fair game to trade in. The ones with my name in them, from not one but several meetings, back in the day when I also corresponded with him by snail-mail, are not going anywhere, even if I have gone a little off his writing.

  6. @Paul

    Now, I treasure the signed ARC of Poisoned Blade that Kate Elliott sent me. I met her at Loncon, I like her, she likes me. We chat online. That signature is gold, to me., YMMV.

    I have similar sentiments towards my signed copies of a couple of John Scalzi’s works. Although we didn’t do much more than shake hands and make a little small talk while he was signing.


  7. I have a bunch of the early Honor Harrington books signed by David Weber, one of which that includes a threat against my person. I considered that fair, as I had gotten him arrested by Klingons that particular day. I stopped following the series after it stopped being the French Revolution In Space!, but I still have fond memories of meeting him.

  8. @Sunhawk:

    (1) from the article If I were a professional artist, I’d be pretty concerned about this. Making table at shows is always uncertain. Is it helpful when cons roll out the red carpet for amateur competitors?

    I think this sort of attitude towards other artists is at best unhelpful and really just not the sort of hostility I want to see from other artists. He’s right, making table at shows is a tricky thing, but it’s not a problem solved by treating the other artists around you as competition

    I could keep quoting but then I wouldn’t stop. This. Other artists are your competition sometimes, but also your proteges and mentors, your community, your peers, your collaborators, your support in times of need, your fellow fans, and people who share the same love of art and fan-stuff you do. They may even share your love for the same characters.

    Yes, sometimes, on an individual fan level, you are competing briefly for the same one fan’s dollars, but the truth is, most of the time, you’ll be drawing the attention, and money, from different fans.

    And the better the art show overall, the more buzz it gets, the more people go to look, and the more people have a chance of spending money. The way to get a better art show? More artists. Established artists and new artists, Good and “bad” artists.

    Yes, “bad” artists. Because art is subjective. In a recent non-sf themed art show set up in a manner a lot like an SF con, the artist who won fan favourite for one piece was an artist I thought was blatantly amateur and sure enough, it was her first show. Her work was, kindly put, rough. But there was that one piece that showed very real potential and really didn’t need the caveat “It’s good for where she is in her career” the way some of the others did.

    The art show would have been rather poorer with fewer artists because someone said, “Sorry, not good enough”. (And I’m not against juried shows, but they are a different beast with a different expectation, and they are generally not as commercial).

    And I thought, “I remember being her.”

    It helps that one of the fully professional comic artists and colourists I know, and someone who enthusiastically gets into the legal ins and outs of fan-art (IE, on panels) is ALSO a maker of occasional works of art that show other peoples’ characters, but are most definitely her own compositions and commentaries on the characters. She sells those right beside original art and design, but because they are unmistakeably HER art, nobody has ever suggested she’s not a real professional.

  9. Not an autograph hound, but some are worth treasuring. When we lived in Virginia, Colleen Doran got some kind of award that included a trip to Japan to lecture with some other creators, including Jules Feiffer. As a favor to me, she brought my copy of The Great Comic Book Heroes along and got it signed (and she later said that the book turned out to be the solution to the fact that nobody brought along any Golden Age examples). I’ve had that book for decades. It got me into old comics.

  10. (6) I’ve been saving the last few for now. Glad to hear the ending is worthy. I have all previous volumes in paperback and by the time I’m ready (hugoreading, hugoreading, hugoreading), the last one should be. Or I’ll at least be able to get it from the library, where I’m sure the waiting list is a mile long.

    (11) I did nominate it and cheerleaded for it here. It was amazing. “Radiance” and “The Fifth Season” were the novels that most orbited my socks last year. I was actually left light-headed and stunned when I finished “Radiance”. My brain had been pulled into a slightly different configuration.

    It’s walruses all the way down.

  11. I’m doing my Hugo reading too. I had already read all five nominated novels and three of the five retro-Hugo novels so I’m working on the novellas. I nominated Penric’s Demon but hadn’t read any of the other four.

    Binti – I really enjoyed this. The only (major character) human in the story is from one of the ethnic groups in Namibia (at least, so I gathered from the afterword). I found her culture interesting and the aliens that she interacts with are also interesting. I found the ending a bit too forgiving but that might be my own issue. I really enjoyed the idea that different cultures still exist on a future earth. So far, this and Penric’s Demon are vying for my top slot.

    The Builders – I found the characters lacking in characterization. Each is a different animal and I couldn’t even remember which character was which animal. The story line is sort-of a heist and sort-of a revenge tale but I didn’t find it interesting. This was a slog for me. I hope others enjoy it more.

  12. Today the mailman brought me The Aeronaut’s Windlass in the UK trade paperback edition. Oh my, that is one brick of a book.

    Signed books: Most of the signed books I own are things like random poetry collections or regional crime novels written by authors who are personal friends from the time I used to hang out in the local literary scene. The others are signed copies of novels by authors who read and did Q&A sessions at my university

    Signed books of SFnal interest are a personally inscribed copy of an early non-genre novel by Jane Rogers who would go on win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Testament of Jesse Lamb. I got it after ferrying her around town in my ancient Volkswagen Jetta, when she gave a reading at the university. Normally, the professor picked up guests of the university, but he was busy that day and since I was the only student in his class with a car of my own, albeit an ancient one, I ended up doing it.

    Also from my university days, I have a signed edition of Looks and Smiles, a non-genre novel by Barry Hines. We’d read the novel in class and the author later visited the university to discuss his book with the students, which is where I got my edition signed. Years later, I learned that Barry Hines had also been the screenwriter for the classic 1980s nuclear war drama Threads. I’m still knicking myself that I didn’t know about that at the time or I would have had a lot more interesting questions to ask during the Q&A session.

  13. @WorldWeary
    I had a similar experience with The Builders.. I found the characters flat and the story dull. In fact, I would have probably placed it in fifth place, except that I found the Brandon Sanderson novella even more unmemorable to the point that I keep forgetting the title.

    The top spot is currently a struggle between Penric’s Demon and Binti with Slow Bullets (which was a pleasant surprise, considering Alastair Reynolds’ work normally doesn’t do much for me) in third place.

  14. Sean O’Hara: There are cosplayers who’ve achieved mini-stardom within fandom. There’s one couple who show up at cons dressed as the Joker and Harley Quinn

    Yaya Han is another.

    But cosplayers who get so famous and popular that they can command free rides to cons and/or photo fees from fans are few and far between, compared to the A-list and B-list actors who are the main recipients of that largesse.

  15. @World Weary, Cora Buhlert:

    I thought Penric’s Demon was a solid first place for novella (although it would not be on my shortlist for novel, where the competition was much stronger; I’ve read 70 novels and 32 novellas from 2015 at this point).

    Slow Bullets had its flaws, but I thought it was better than the rest of the list. I liked a lot of things about Binti, but found the ending an abrupt deus ex machina which really detracted from my appreciation for it.

    The Builders, an anthropomorphic retelling of The Magnificent Seven was in my opinion predictable and unremarkable. It was good. It just wasn’t anywhere close to great.

    Perfect State was such a disappointment. I loved The Emperor’s Soul, and was hoping for a comparable work. I was sad to find that PS is just a very pedestrian story.

  16. I’m still kind of cranky that Wylding Hall didn’t make the novella shortlist. Or the novel shortlist, as the case may be. I’ll be curious to see where (or if) it appears on the nomination list after the awards are announced.

  17. Just read: Traitors Blade by de Castell and was quite impressed. The first chapter made me think this was going to be a ridiculously black and white world, but other shades got filled in as we went along. While it doesn’t achieve the complexity of ASOIAF, it’s good enough. And character wise there are some very moving scenes, including one that made me cry.

  18. Well… I bought Ninefox Gambit yesterday. Very much looking forward to reading it. But first: Samurai! (Totally not SFF other than its reference to how Japan and the samurai have influenced modern pop culture – including Star Wars).

  19. @Bookworm1398

    While it doesn’t achieve the complexity of ASOIAF, it’s good enough. And character wise there are some very moving scenes, including one that made me cry.

    I thought the end of

    Traitor’s Blade

    wiped me out emotionally. That was nothing compared to this year’s

    Saint’s Blood

    . I darn near couldn’t finish that book over how badly it broke me up.


  20. @Joe H: I’m still kind of cranky that Wylding Hall didn’t make the novella shortlist.


  21. Joe H: I’m still kind of cranky that Wylding Hall didn’t make the novella shortlist.

    PhilRM: Likewise.

    I must be about 10 years too young for that book to really strike a chord with me. I know that the folk group/ indie band culture was a thing; I just was never part of it. Sarah Pinsker’s “Our Lady of the Open Road” has a similar theme, and that one, while a decent story, didn’t really strike any chords with me, either.

  22. I nominated “Wylding Hall” too. So atmospheric, particularly in the juxtaposition of the perfect rural summer with the growing unease.

    The nominated works, for me, ran the gamut from “meh” to “ugh”. Not thrilled about any of them.

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