Pixel Scroll 6/24/16 Porcupine Tree’s Yellow Pixel Dreamscroll

(1) BREXIT. J. K. Rowling’s response to the Brexit voting reports was –

“Death Eaters are everywhere,” said Micheline Hess.

(2) BRIXIT. Caption: “Live scenes from the Channel tunnel.”

View post on imgur.com

(3) BEAT THE RUSH. Buzzfeed found “19 People Who Are Moving To Australia Now That Britain Is Leaving Europe”. One of them is ours.

  1. This person who was so prepared to move to Australia that they already did it.

(4) AUF WIEDERSEHEN. So who’s cheering the outcome? Vox Day, naturally: “England and Wales choose freedom”.

The Fourth Reich is rejected by a narrow margin, 52 percent to 48 percent, thanks to the actual British people, who outvoted the invaders, the traitors, the sell-outs, and the Scots….

(5) IMPORT DUTY. And Marko Kloos has his joke ready.

(6) THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE. Darth Vader will be back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and James Earl Jones will be back as Darth’s voice.

The original Sith Lord is back. A new cover story from Entertainment Weekly confirms plenty of details for this winter’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but there’s one long-rumored detail that’s sure to have fans breathing heavily: Darth Vader will return in the new film.

It only makes sense that Anakin Skywalker would once again plague the Rebellion in Rogue One. The plot of the film sees a band of ragtag Rebel fighters tracking down plans for the Death Star from the original Star Wars trilogy. The planet-sized weapon was Vader’s pet project, so seeing him again isn’t a total surprise. Still, it’s nice to finally have the information 100% locked in after months of speculation.

Update: It gets better. EW has also confirmed that James Earl Jones will be returning to voice Vader in Rogue One. Jones reprised the role for the animated Star Wars Rebels recently, but this will mark a big return to the silver screen. However, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy cautioned fans not to expect Vader to be a prominent presence in Rogue One. “He will be in the movie sparingly. But at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.” Well, he only had 12 minutes of screen time in the original Star Wars, and look how that turned out.

(7) PAT CADIGAN UPDATE. Yesterday Pat Cadigan told about a great doctor’s report in “Yeah, Cancer––Keep Running, You Little B!tch”.

My oncologist was smiling broadly  even before she called my name.

The level of cancer in my body has fallen again, this time very slightly. The rest of my tests are perfect. Unquote; she said perfect. She also likes my I’m Making Cancer My B!tch t-shirt. I am killing this cancer thing.

Maybe people’s reaction was too effusive. Pat thought they got the wrong idea, so today she wrote, “I Think I Have To Clarify Something”.

Which is to say, I still have cancer, and unless something miraculous happens, I will always have cancer. Recurrent endometrial cancer (aka recurrent uterine cancer) is inoperable, incurable, and terminal. There are something like four different forms (I think it’s four) and I have the one with the worst prognosis.

However, it is treatable. My cancer cells have progesterone receptors, which means that doses of progesterone can keep it stabilised at a low level. For how long? Impossible to say. Could be months. Could be a few years. Could be more than a few years. Nobody knows…just like someone without cancer. Technically, I’m still terminal but now the more accurate term would be incurable. My own preference is incorrigible.

(8) HE SAYS GIVE THANKS. Peter David has this take on the Star Trek fan film guidelines.

So thanks mostly to the efforts of the “Axanar” people, the guys who raised a million bucks to produce a “Star Trek” based film which resulted in a lawsuit, Paramount has now issued specific guidelines for anyone who wants to make a Trek fan film. And naturally fans are unhappy about it.

My response?

You guys are damned lucky.

When I was producing a “Star Trek” fanzine back in the 1970s, Paramount issued a decree: No one could write “Star Trek” fanfic. It was copyright infringement, plain and simple, and not to be allowed. At one convention I attended, Paramount lawyers actually came into the dealer’s room and confiscated peoples’ fanzines from right off their tables.

The fact that they loosened up to the degree that they have should be something fan filmmakers should feel damned grateful for….

(9) MEANWHILE CAPTAIN KIRK IS OUT OF WORK. At the Saturn Awards, William Shatner told a reporter he’s up for it.

Shatner, 85, spoke to reporters at the Saturn Awards in Los Angeles, and confirmed that he will not appear in “Star Trek Beyond,” according to the Belfast Telegraph.

But when asked about future movies, the actor was willing.

“We’d all be open to it, but it’s not going to happen,” he said. “”The fans would love to see it. Have them write to [‘Star Trek Beyond’ producer] J.J. Abrams at Paramount Studios.”

(10) COMIC BOOK ART. M.D. Jackson continues answering “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? (Part 3)” at Amazing Stories. By now, things are looking up –

[At Marvel] The artists excelled at creating dynamic panels. More than just men in tights who beat up bad guys, the Marvel heroes had depth and the art reflected that. Unusual angles and lighting effects were explored and the character’s expressions had to relay the complex emotions they were feeling (even when they were wearing a mask).

(11) WHERE THE BOYS ARE. Vox Day saw the Yahoo! Movies post about the Moana trailer disguising that it’s a princess movie (guess where?) and made a trenchant comment in “The Disney bait-and-switch” at Vox Popoli.

Boys don’t want to see movies about princesses. Boys don’t want to read books about romances either. But rather than simply making movies that boys want to see and publishing books that boys want to read, the SJWs in Hollywood and in publishing think that the secret to success is making princess movies and publishing romances, then deceiving everyone as to the content.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 24, 1997 — The U.S. Air Force officials release a 231-page report dismissing long-standing claims of an alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, New Mexico, almost exactly 50 years earlier.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 24, 1947 – Peter Weller, of Buckaroo Banzai fame.

(14) TODAY’S TRIVIA

  • Bela Lugosi’s appearance in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) would be only the second time he appeared as Dracula on screen. It would also be his last time to do so.

(15) BY JOVE, I THINK THEY’VE GOT IT.

(16) RULES OF THE ROAD. Alexandra Erin, in “The Internet Is Not Your Global Village”, experiments with a solution to a chronic shortcoming of social media.

Now, I don’t have a detailed set of guidelines or proposed social mores for interacting with people online to go with this observation. I can tell you this: the ones we use for offline interactions don’t work, and any proposed rule needs to take into account the vast differences between online interactions and offline ones.

So let’s take a quick stab at formulating some….

You Having Something To Say Is Not The Same As Me Having Something To Hear

If you and I are having a conversation and what I say sparks some kind of personal connection with you, then by all means, you take that tangent and you run with it. I mean, there are nuances and shades… if I’m talking about the time my true love got caught in a bear trap along with a bear who mauled them to death while a swarm of bees enraged by the bear stealing honey stung them both, further aggravating the bear, and you say, “Yeah, speaking of pain, that reminds me of the time I got a paper cut. Hurt like anything, it did!”… well, I think most people would say that’s a bit boorish.

But if we’re just talking, and I mention a frustration and you’re like, “I know what that’s like, [similar experience]”… that’s a conversation.

(17) TESTING FOR TWANG. When an author decides to have nasal surgery, it’s always nice to have it reviewed in full multimedia fashion as Mary Robinette Kowal does in “What do I sound like after surgery? Like this…”

I’ve been very pleased that I still look like myself. The swelling will keep going down, albeit more slowly. The big question though is… what do I sound like? As an audiobook narrator, this was one of the things I was worried about since mucking about with the nose and sinuses can change resonance.

So, here, for your amusement, are four recordings of me reading the same piece of text….

(18) ANIME NEXT. Petréa Mitchell brings the harvest home early with her “Summer 2016 Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories.

Just when you’re all settled into the routine of one anime season, it’s time for another! Here’s what the sf world will get to see from the anime world in July.

(19) FRANK OR VITRIOLIC? the Little Red Reviewer asks a question to begin “On writing negative reviews”

Hey blogger buddies – do you write negative reviews? And what I mean by a negative review isn’t “this book sucks”, it’s “this book didn’t work for me and let me tell you why”. A well written negative review tells you just as much information about the book about a positive review. When I write critical / negative reviews, it’s mostly to talk about why I bounced off a book, or why I though the book was problematic. Oftentimes, it’s a book that the majority of readers really enjoyed, perhaps the book even won a ton of awards, but really, really didn’t work for me. Any of my friends will tell you I’m not the kind of person to sugar coat. If I think something didn’t work on some level, I’m going to say so. If I was offended by something, or thought it was boring, or thought the POV switches weren’t clear, I’m going to say so. If a book made me, personally, feel like the world of that book is not a world I would be welcome in, I’m going to say that too.

I do not write negative reviews to dig at an author, or to convince others not to read that author’s books…

(20) SHOULD WE? Krysta at Pages Unbound Reviews asks “Why Aren’t We Talking about Religious Diversity?”

However, religious diversity is regularly glossed over in discussions of representations or is regularly dismissed by those who find a character of faith to be “too preachy” or don’t want religion “shoved down their throats.”  This attitude does a disservice to the many people of faith throughout the world who would also like to see themselves reflected in characters in books.  It assumes that the presence of an individual of faith is, by nature, overbearing, unwelcome, and oppressive–that is, apparently an individual is allowed to have a faith as long as no one else has the misfortune of knowing about it.

However, despite the lack of characters of faith in modern and mainstream literature, a majority of the world identifies with some form of religion.  The Pew Research Group in 2010 determined that 16.3% of respondents were not affiliated with any sort of religion.  The other ~83% identified with a religious group.  That is, in any group of ten people, you could theoretically assume eight were religious.  And yet religion remains absent in most YA and MG books.

But, for many individuals, religion is more than an abstract belief in a higher deity.  Religion is something that affects one’s philosophy, one’s actions, one’s daily life.

(21) MAYBE A LITTLE AFRAID. Yahoo! Movies describes the Ghostbusters theme remake.

Paul Feig’s reboot of Ghostbusters gives everything a full redo — including, it turns out, the classic, catchy, campy theme song by Ray Parker Jr. The theme song as revamped by Fall Out Boy with Missy Elliott, released this morning (hear it above), abandons the bright pop past in favor of a darker guitar-heavy dose of alternative/mid-2000s emo angst. Be prepared to hear this song in various Hot Topics for the next couple of weeks/months/years.

 

(22) THE MYSTERIOUS EAST. A surprising objective of Russian technological research? The BBC explains in “Beam me up, Prime Minister”.

A popular Russian paper said that a governmental working group was meeting up to discuss the national technological development programme. The programme envisages, among other things, that by 2035 Russia will develop its own programming language, secure communications systems and… teleportation.

For the initial stage of the programme development, 2016-18, the agency responsible is seeking about 10bn roubles (£100m) in financing.

There was an online reaction to this bold statement. Russian internet users reacted in all kinds of different ways, from disbelief, to amazement to sarcasm.

…In another typical comment, popular user “Dyadyushka Shu” joked about money being “teleported” away from Russia: “Experiments in teleportation have been going on in Russia for a long time – billions of dollars have already been successfully teleported to Panama offshores.”

Spoiler Warning: Chip Hitchcock explains, “Really only at the quantum level, but handled so clumsily that the satirists had a field day.”

(23) QUEASINE. Is this what Death Eaters snack on?

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Simon Bisson.]

208 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/24/16 Porcupine Tree’s Yellow Pixel Dreamscroll

  1. Regarding Welsh heritage:

    I have Welsh ancestors. They left Wales in 1711 for the New World. I also have English, Irish, Scottish, Swedish, French, German, and if family legend is true possibly even Jewish ancestors. (I’m actually skeptical about the Jewish story, based on context. Let’s leave it at “I have an ancestor named Isaac about whom later generations made assumptions.”) But despite the origins of the Jones family line, it would be inappropriate of me to make any sort of representational claim for the current land of Wales.

    Now, what I do have is several decades of studying the Welsh language (the medieval one), linguistics history, literature, and in particular historical personal names. So if you want to know something about the syntax of early medieval Welsh compound prepositions, I can probably help you out. If you want someone to weigh in on current Welsh politics, I’m not the right person

  2. Charon D. on June 24, 2016 at 10:27 pm said:
    As a non-Hawai’ian from Hawai’i, I am very much looking forward to Moana and all that bright blue digital water (as well as a mythos that tends to get totally ignored by major media).

    Not only Hawai’i, it’s Polynesian. As New Zealander, I’m familiar with the Maori version. Also, in Maori, Moana means ‘the Sea’.

  3. When it comes to puns on early British History, I like to play all the Angles.

  4. @Heather Rose Jones I have an ancestor named Isaac about whom later generations made assumptions

    LOL yeah no Christians use names from the bible for their kids… LOL

    I’m waiting for my family to get me the paperwork to prove I’m eligible to join Daughters of the Revolution (I’ve seen it). I’m also waiting on the genealogical proof of our Wabanaki Indian nation ancestor (my aunt has it). Add my Orthodox Jewish conversions and marriage and I have a background where I can talk about what my ancestors did to my other ancestors – persecution, mostly wiped out, recently reinstated as a nation (VT), debated going to war to prevent genocide (my husband’s grandfather was in Kristallnacht – his grandparents, father (8?), and aunt came to America immediately upon his release). We used to think we were pretty mixed European without anything but least interesting president Grover Cleveland in our background – although I haven’t seen a family tree to confirm and every time I ask for copies no one sends them…

  5. Soon Lee: Not only Hawai’i, it’s Polynesian. As New Zealander, I’m familiar with the Maori version. Also, in Maori, Moana means ‘the Sea’.

    Also, the script for Moana was written by Māori New Zealander Taika Waititi (director of Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, What We Do In The Shadows, and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok).

  6. @JJ,
    Yup. And Waititi also wrote the screenplay for “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” which has been getting rave reviews, and which I must see soon.

  7. @Soon Lee and JJ, point taken. I have always been impressed by the way Polynesian language and mythos held together over four-plus-thousand nautical miles of small islands, in contrast to continental peoples that seem to develop a new language every twenty or thirty kilometers.

    I haven’t seen any confirmation that the move is set on any particular island, but I do know the voice actress for Moana, Auli’i Cravalho, is an ethnic Hawai’ian girl from Mililani, Oahu. Plus Disney has a beach resort on Oahu which is probably going to be heavily festooned with Moana PR this holiday season.

  8. @Charon D.,
    According to the Wiki entry, Moana’s home island is ‘Motunui’ which isn’t a Pacific Island as far as I can work out, though it is a Polynesian name.

    I suspect Waititi is making an elaborate joke: Motunui is a settlement in the North Island of New Zealand most famous for having a plant for converting the gas from the Maui gas field into synthetic petrol.

  9. Soon Lee on June 25, 2016 at 9:00 pm said:

    @JJ,
    Yup. And Waititi also wrote the screenplay for “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” which has been getting rave reviews, and which I must see soon.

    I’m really looking forward to Hunt for the Wilderpeople 🙂

  10. @Cora:

    However, the excerpt of Too Like the Lightning still presumed a centrality of religion, oddly enough in a world where it’s supposed to be banned, that didn’t sit well with me.

    How would you feel about a story presuming a centrality of alcohol, in a period where it’s supposed to be banned 😛

    For me, that element worked really well. The banning of religion makes sense because religious worlds are what’s previously torn this world apart. The sensayer system makes sense because, as you say, a personalized, keep-it-to-yourself approach to religion is a direct extrapolation of current norms. And the centrality of religion makes sense because (A) people still ARE religious; it’s just that they can’t discuss their (highly personalized) faith out loud; (B) the sensayer system KEEPS it central, conflating into one position the roles of psychologist, ethicist, and spiritual advisor, all as a constant companion. (And bear in mind, that’s exactly the kind of combination that religious figures usually embody for their community.)

    Also remember that they only bring Carlisle in under durress, as he’s already discovered their secret. It wasn’t their first choice… And, to be honest, “OMG, this child wreaks havoc on my understanding of reality, I’d better speak to my psychologist about this” strikes me as an unusually healthy reaction:-P

  11. Went to see what the Elk were saying about the Aaron vs. VD GoT and warfare debate and was compelled to eyerolling at how in their universe GRRM is to blame for all of the things they find wrong with this season of the HBO adaptation, as if the series were actually depicting the way battles and such will take place in the unpublished novels TWoW and ADoS.

    Given the fairly obvious ignorance of history displayed by their leader, I’m unsurprised that they are upset by a series that takes many of its inspirations concerning battles from actual history.

  12. While she is not, I think, a citizen of Wales, I believe Heather Rose Jones is of Welsh ancestry. Or at least can fake it well.

    I have some Welsh ancestors (along with Scots and Irish, though all of them are minor compared to the English and German lot).

    I once saw a description of 1066 that said something like the Anglo-Saxons couldn’t get away from the Normans because the mountains were full of people with spears longer than their memories.

  13. One handling of religion that I actually quite liked was the Confucianism in Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds books–the second one springs to mind, when one of the characters destroys his ancestor’s skeleton and says something to the effect that to go to any lower of a hell, he’ll have to either kill his sister or fail to return for his father’s funeral. Which is macabre! But there was a permeation through the whole series of religion and the ramifications that wasn’t just convenient magic system, (though some of that) but actually was things the main characters discussed casually and clearly treated as part of their daily lives and worldview.

    No idea how wildly inaccurate it may have been as a reflection of real-world theology, but the characters treated it as real in rather the same way that my grandmother treated the saints, and so it rang very true for me reading because they acted like people I know act who are culturally part of a religion without being intensely religious, if that makes any sense.

  14. @Heather Rose Jones I have an ancestor named Isaac about whom later generations made assumptions

    LOL yeah no Christians use names from the bible for their kids… LOL

    In Germany, Old Testament names all but died out for 40 years after the end of the Third Reich, because the Nazis used “suspicious” names to hunt for converted, lapsed or otherwise “hidden” Jews. My grandparents almost couldn’t get married, because my great-great-grandmother was named Isidora Weiss, a name that sounded Jewish to Nazi ears, and had to provide documents (sent all the way from France, whence my great-grantfather hailed) to prove that she wasn’t. And so my Mom still has the baptism certificate of Isidora Weiss, born sometime in the mid 1860s, handed down from her mother with instructions to keep it safe, just in case it’s needed again.

    Old Testament names only made a comeback from the 1980s on, when the children of those who’d been kids during the Third Reich started having babies. Coincidentally, my Mom (born in 1942) was shocked when my cousin decided to name his daughter Sarah, because to her that was the sort of name that’s bound to get you harrassed (even though by the late 1990s, Sarah was one of the most popilar girl’s names).

  15. @standback

    How would you feel about a story presuming a centrality of alcohol, in a period where it’s supposed to be banned ?

    For me, that element worked really well. The banning of religion makes sense because religious worlds are what’s previously torn this world apart. The sensayer system makes sense because, as you say, a personalized, keep-it-to-yourself approach to religion is a direct extrapolation of current norms. And the centrality of religion makes sense because (A) people still ARE religious; it’s just that they can’t discuss their (highly personalized) faith out loud; (B) the sensayer system KEEPS it central, conflating into one position the roles of psychologist, ethicist, and spiritual advisor, all as a constant companion. (And bear in mind, that’s exactly the kind of combination that religious figures usually embody for their community.)

    Also remember that they only bring Carlisle in under durress, as he’s already discovered their secret. It wasn’t their first choice… And, to be honest, “OMG, this child wreaks havoc on my understanding of reality, I’d better speak to my psychologist about this” strikes me as an unusually healthy reaction:-P

    I guess this is another cultural difference at work, because in the US (and as far as I know, Palmer is American) both priests/other religious figures as spiritual advisors and therapists are a lot more central to the culture than in Germany. We do have all sorts of religious figures who will offer spiritual help, if needed, but with 34% of us not affiliated with any religion and many of the remaining 66% people who never bothered to leave religion, but are non-practicing or only visit the church/other house of worship for high holidays, priests as spiritual advisors aren’t that important as in the US. And seeing a therapist is also a lot rarer than in the US, too, partly due to a lingering stigma against mental illness (and psychotherapy is strongly associated with mental illness here, because it’s so rare) and partly because our health insurance doesn’t pay for therapists except in extreme circumstances. Indeed, a lot of Germans find the endless therapy scenes in US TV shows very eyerolling, because most of us have never seen a therapist’s office from the inside and those who have often don’t talk about it.

    So basically, to me the idea of being forced to meet with a therapist/priest every week to bare my soul and discuss spiritual questions sounds like dystopia (not a fan of everybody is living in communes either). And I don’t think it’s supposed to be one.

  16. So basically, to me the idea of being forced to meet with a therapist/priest every week to bare my soul and discuss spiritual questions sounds like dystopia (not a fan of everybody is living in communes either). And I don’t think it’s supposed to be one.

    Ah, no, I disagree with you there.

    I think the sensayers are very much supposed to be… well, maybe not dystopian, but: Oppressive. Stifling.

    It’s a concept which is in some senses seen as A Good Idea (imagine the stigma was gone; imagine the care was not only affordable but accessible as a basic necessity; imagine therapy as a commonplace, unremarkable mental health adviser, available to all…), and in other senses a Really Bad One (it’s mandatory; it’s clandestine; it’s invasive; it’s got no accountability…).

    I’ve seen people discussing Too Like The Lightning in terms of utopias and dystopias. I find that terribly misjudged; IMHO it’s neither.

    It’s not presented as perfect; it’s not presented as horrific. It was, perhaps, developed by some utopian people, but hey, so’s our world. In my eyes, it’s an intriguing extrapolation of what kind of society and culture might come out of current trends, values and ideals – a truly global society; communities defined more by shared passion than by familial or geographical ties; faith and gender as things that mustn’t emerge into public conversation or view.

    Those elements don’t turn the world into a “utopia” if you’re concerned about gender bias or into a “dystopia” if you’re concerned about freedom to express your religious beliefs. It’s just… a specific world, developed and built in a certain way, with good-but-imperfect reasons for the way things are.

  17. @Hampus: I haven’t seen that one before. Ergggg. Feels.

    I’m Orthodox Jewish.
    I wear a kippah on my head.
    Keeping kosher sets sharp limits on what and where I can eat (“Hey Ziv, want to come to lunch at $PLACE?” “Sorry, no, it’s not kosher.” “Hey Ziv, welcome back from lunch! Want a cup of coffee?” “Sorry, no, I just ate meat.”).
    And so on.

    And I know full-well that people can be on-edge with me, wondering what I consider beyond the pale. Can they tell a dirty joke when I’m in earshot? (Yes, but I probably won’t find it funny.) Can a woman shake my hand? (Yes.) Can a woman hug me? (By halakha no; I make an exception for very close non-religious friends.) These are all absolutely legitimate questions, because other Orthodox Jews who look and speak and act exactly like me are likely to answer them differently.

    So… the idea I can just keep being religious private does not really work for me.

    And… I’m aware of the discomfort. I do what I can to ease it and navigate around it; my religious choices are mine and it’s not up to the people around me to accommodate my choices and restrictions. But I know there’s a fundamental discomfort I can never do away with, simply because I make choices that are different than theirs, and we are always, always going to affect one another. And also, because stereotypes stubbornly remain a thing that exists, and when somebody religious meets somebody non-religious, they’re going to wonder at very minimum: “To what extent is this person going to fit the stereotype I’m familiar with?”. Which is, well, a pretty legitimate worry.

    So, @Hampus, I don’t really know your thoughts and feelings about that specific cartoon. But what I can definitely take from it is the feeling of being watched. Of being judged. Of feeling like the elephant in the room.

    This certainly isn’t unique to religion in any way. To pick the obvious examples, I’m sure LGBT people and POC generally feel like The Elephant much, much more strongly in non-friendly environments. Wearing a Pride T-Shirt to an Orthodox synagogue probably wouldn’t go over too well :-/

  18. And honestly… even beyond that, being religious is a fundamental part of my life.

    Reading Torah commentaries is a part of my life. Celebrating holidays is a part of my life. Searching hilariously for a kosher restaurant in an area that has none, is part of my life. Cracking up over internet memes of Harry Potter studying Talmud is part of my life.

    I think I’m a decent enough judge of when it’s appropriate or inappropriate to mention these things. (I also know a lot of other people aren’t, and have burned away a lot of social credit.) But I don’t think “Never appropriate” is a good solution. “Awareness and good judgement” is much better, for everyone.

  19. Standback:

    There are people who are that religious in Sweden, absolutely, and it is partly a regional thing. But mostly people, and that includes me, find that kind of religious commitment scary.

    I’m involved at a large forum where someone added a picknick for believers (any religion) to the calendar and the reactions were totally over the top. The person adding it sent out a general invite to all members of the network for meetups and the calendar event was soon filled by comments from offended and angry atheists, all of them ridiculing the poor woman who created the event. I can really understand why religious people in Sweden try to stick together and not bring up religion somewhere else.

    Atheists are just as prone to bullying as anyone else.

  20. @Standback
    Oh yeah. Everything you said.

    When I visit family we have to do a variety of dances to fit my kosher and Shabbos restrictions into our schedule and plans. Before my hysterectomy both my family and in-laws had issues with times I couldn’t touch my husband. Prayers I say, even the ritual washing of my hands before eating bread, causes pain to some family members who believe I’m going to burn in hell for eternity so I find ways to do them unobtrusively – no need to make loved ones hurt. Same with candlelighting Friday night. But my practice starts from the first words out of my mouth in the morning through the last ones before sleep. Depending on the time of year and where I am people know at a glance what religion I belong to by my dress or I stand out like a sore thumb. Orthodox Judaism isn’t a religion which can be practiced privately.

    One of my early introductions to fandom and Judaism intersecting was the discussion over whether Superman can convert. My husband and I used to pause TV shows to discuss the impact Halacha (Jewish law) would have on the situation. Shabbos meals in our house frequently turn to SFF and Jewish questions we come up with related to them. We’re told it’s why are guests stay all afternoon – our lunches can last 6+ hours.

  21. Heather Rose Jones: I have an ancestor named Isaac about whom later generations made assumptions

    Tasha Turner: LOL yeah no Christians use names from the bible for their kids… LOL

    The ancestor in question lived in Sweden in the 18th century, so I’d have to do some research to determine whether the name would have been unusual for an 18th c Lutheran (the presumed default). Most of my Swedish ancestors seem to have been long strings of alternating Sven’s and Jens’s who could be traced in their frequent movements by means of their police records. So I don’t know that it would be an edifying connection for poor Isaac, whatever his origins.

  22. RedWombat said:

    One handling of religion that I actually quite liked was the Confucianism in Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds books–the second one springs to mind, when one of the characters destroys his ancestor’s skeleton and says something to the effect that to go to any lower of a hell, he’ll have to either kill his sister or fail to return for his father’s funeral.

    Not kill his sister… [runs to other room to grab omnibus edition for exact wording]

    “According to Tsao Tsao, my next step on the path to damnation is either to violate my sister or fail to return for my mother’s funeral, but I can’t remember which comes first,” he said.

    “The mother,” said Master Li, “takes precedence, but I wouldn’t be so sure about damnation if I were you. Prince, this time the criminals have made a very bad mistake, and the mummy of your ancestor puts the seal on it. You and I have something interesting to talk about.”

    My personal favorite bit about Confucianism is Master Li’s tirade about the neo-Confucians and their approach to painting techniques.

  23. “The ancestor in question lived in Sweden in the 18th century, so I’d have to do some research to determine whether the name would have been unusual for an 18th c Lutheran (the presumed default). “

    It would not have been unusual.

  24. P J Evans on June 25, 2016 at 9:56 pm said:

    I once saw a description of 1066 that said something like the Anglo-Saxons couldn’t get away from the Normans because the mountains were full of people with spears longer than their memories.

    Except in 1066, the Anglo-Saxons weren’t anywhere near places with mountains. The Battle of Hastings was on 14 October and William spent the rest of the year either being ill in Dover or beating his way to London, where he was crowned King at Christmas.

    Harold Godwinson’s sons fled to Ireland where they tried twice to regain their father’s kingdom. Then they and one of their sisters went to Denmark where their cousin was king. (Ole Crumlin-Pedersen wonders if the Skuldelev 2 viking ship found at Roskilde Denmark and build in Dublin in 1042/3 might have brought fleeing Anglo-Saxons from Ireland to Denmark.)

  25. Camestros Felapton on June 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm said:

    I often wonder, in alt-history sort of way, if events in 1066 had worked out a bit differently and if the actual Viking army had beaten the Saxons rather than the secondhand Frenchified former Viking army, whether Britain would have ended up being more like the Scandanavian nations or even counted as one of those countries that aren’t technically in Scandanavia but are effectively Scandanavianish.

    It occurs to me that a better Point of Departure for this sort of scenario is in 1069 when King Sweyn of Denmark invaded England with support from Malcom of Scotland, Edgar the AEthling, and Earls Morcar and Edwin. If that had been successful, possibly Edgar would have been crowned King (having been elected by the Witangamot once already) with support from Scotland and Denmark. If he married Sweyn’s daughter that would have given a more Scandinavian flavor to England.

    THERE. All tied back to the original EU discussion. 😉

  26. It occurs to me that a better Point of Departure for this sort of scenario is in 1069 when King Sweyn of Denmark invaded England with support from Malcom of Scotland, Edgar the AEthling, and Earls Morcar and Edwin.

    Cool!

  27. ULTRAGOTHA on June 26, 2016 at 10:24 am said:

    It occurs to me that a better Point of Departure for this sort of scenario is in 1069 when King Sweyn of Denmark invaded England with support from Malcom of Scotland, Edgar the AEthling, and Earls Morcar and Edwin. If that had been successful, possibly Edgar would have been crowned King (having been elected by the Witangamot once already) with support from Scotland and Denmark.

    So, had to go away and read about all that – which was fascinating. Joys of having people who comment here with a wide range of skills and knowledge. Didn’t know any of that previously.

  28. @Tasha Turner:

    LOL yeah no Christians use names from the bible for their kids… LOL

    We named our younger son Jakob as a name which should be cool with Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike.

  29. @Cora Buhlert

    In Germany, Old Testament names all but died out for 40 years after the end of the Third Reich, because the Nazis used “suspicious” names to hunt for converted, lapsed or otherwise “hidden” Jews.

    At first, I thought you surely must be hyperbolic, but looking at the name statistics, there definitely seems to be big discrepancy between Germany and Switzerland in that respect: “Daniel” was the second most popular boy’s name in Switzerland in the 50s and 60s, and does not make the top 100 in Germany. “Jakob” was top 50 in Switzerland in the 1940s, not in the top 150 in Germany. “David” far more popular in Switzerland. Even “Josef” with an extremely strong catholic tradition was far more popular in Switzerland. The one exception I can think of was “Michael” which was #1 in Germany in the 1950s and #2 in the 1960s, not quite as popular as in Switzerland.

  30. @K8

    The ones that really fascinate me, though, are the Amish Christian fiction stories

    Now you’ve made me think of Amish Space Opera, where all space travel gets done by late adolescents during a period of rumwarpa.

  31. Speaking of fantasy with Jewish themes, anyone here have an opinion in Rachel Swirsky’s “The Grand Jete (The Great Leap)”? It seemed to me that it was a brilliant mix of Jewish culture and mythology and–well–other stuff, in that the characters are clearly observant Jews, the daily rituals increase the emotional impact of the story, and there’s even a hint (I think) of the golem legend in the central plot-twist . . . I’d love to hear what someone else thought of it.

  32. So, had to go away and read about all that – which was fascinating. Joys of having people who comment here with a wide range of skills and knowledge. Didn’t know any of that previously.

    Google often gets quite a workout from me after reading here. Its one of the reasons I love all y’all.

  33. @20: I’m not seeing anyone discussing her argument’s biggest hole: the equation of race, gender, QUILTBAG, etc. with religion. All of those categories represent something that people are; a religion is what people believe — or at least profess when a pollster comes around, because being areligious in many parts of this country is seriously unpopular.
    Note that the cited poll (even with the move cited by @SLM) doesn’t cover what fraction of those who profess belief actually have it anywhere near as close to the center of their lives as any of the identities Krysta wants ]parity[ with. I know there are people for whom religion is central; how many of them are willing to admit that every one of them had to be \taught/ their particular religion (as opposed to any general capacity for awe)?
    Yes, I’ve noticed responses from Tasha et al about Orthodox Judaism permeating their lives. Judaism is an amalgam of religion and ethnicity, but Orthodoxy is taught.

    @lurkertype: I agree with your response to @Lis Carey: I see no reason for Pern to have been infected with religion. Yes, that’s a prejudicial term; based on personal experience, I stand by it. Religion on Darkover seems more plausible to me, since it’s clearly imported and reflects immediate catastrophe (personal as well as general).

  34. @Mary Frances Speaking of fantasy with Jewish themes, anyone here have an opinion in Rachel Swirsky’s “The Grand Jete (The Great Leap)”?

    Just read it. Creepy but enjoyable. The a Golem reference wasn’t true to mythology but was an appropriate ethical question to wonder about given the circumstances. Definitely worth a read. I think is a good example of how religion can be included in a story without being preachy. Thanks for pointing me towards it. 😀

  35. @Chip Hitchcock I’m not seeing anyone discussing her argument’s biggest hole: the equation of race, gender, QUILTBAG, etc. with religion. All of those categories represent something that people are; a religion is what people believe.

    I think it depends on the person. For me being Jewish is as much who I am as being a woman. Same with many of the Muslims and Hindus I know. For my stepfather being catholic is an essential part of who he is – it’s part of what defines him.

  36. What you’re overlooking is any objective study of the history of religion, and what archaeology tells us.

    Also what McCaffrey actually tells us about what the Pernese have and haven’t retained from their offworld ancestors. That inheritance doesn’t include, for a variety of reasons, any intellectual framework for understanding Threadfall, or any intellectual framework or ethical/philosophical basis for a non-religious moral structure.

    And death rains down on them from the sky, at intervals mostly but not completely predictable (by the time the Long Interval started, they no longer retained enough knowledge to remember over that interval that it wasn’t permanent, for instance), and they need to maintain a second, very expensive, otherwise useless aristocracy to protect against Threadfall.

    The invention of religion happened early and everywhere because it enabled humans to cooperate in much larger groups, and with people who would otherwise be “outsiders”. Hate it all you like; prior to the advancement of science and social systems to critical points, religion provided a tool that let humans to drastically outcompete our fellow great apes and all the other critters that were otherwise bigger, stronger, more dangerous than we were. Cooperation. Cooperation with individuals who aren’t at all closely connected to you, except that they share a set of religious beliefs and practices that allow the creation of a sense of unity and fellowship.

    Modern mostly-secular and religiously diverse societies function because of the invention of alternative ways of achieving those goals. And we see zero indication of any secular moral/ethical/philosophical basis for the society on Pern to function and support its feudal aristocracy and the expensive extra aristocracy of the Dragonriders. They’ve just inherited the structure, and they have no framework that explains why this is The Right Way. Or why Threadfall happens.

    And that’s not plausible. Humans tell stories. Humans see patterns–whether they exist or not.

    And in the absence of enough knowledge to explain their world scientifically, they’ll invent religion to explain it. An angry divine being is a lot more “rational” in the absence of the scientific knowledge the people of Pern don’t have than “it just happens for no reason we know.”

    As the “modern” Dragonriders, and the Harpers, start recovering some of that knowledge, the possibility of more secular explanations starts to emerge. But at the beginning? After the long centuries without their ancestors’ knowledge, Thread falling on them, and the need to keep the system as it was functioning in the face of all the reasons it was otherwise stupid?

    Sorry. They’d have had religion, probably involving blood sacrifice. And that would have been another reason tolerance for the Dragonriders was fading, after two centuries (if I’m recalling correctly) without Threadfall.

  37. Lis Carey: They’d have had religion

    I agree with you. In the absence of sufficient technological background to understand the reason for Threadfall, they’d have invented one (especially with that angry planet growing bigger and bigger in their sky), the same way the Greeks and Romans developed mythology to explain a lot of natural things for which they did not yet have a causal understanding.

  38. Hey, since we’re talking about portrayals of religion in fiction…

    If an early 19th century character in a western European urban center has had it suggested that her academic reading (broadly understood) should include more Jewish authors, any suggestions for specific names to mention? I have a couple penciled in based on Wikipedia research. This is a throwaway line and the specifics don’t have any further consequences, so I’m curious what people would suggest.

    Not specifically looking for authors who write on religious topics. Ideally, names that maybe one reader in twenty might recognize.

  39. @Tasha: Yes, but you weren’t born Jewish, is Chip’s point. You decided to become that, and Orthodox instead of Reform even. You used to be some other or no religion. In the future, you might change your mind again — my mom knew a guy who, some time after he was bar mitzvahed, decided it wasn’t working for him. So he became a Protestant minister, and ended up a very high ranking one. Certainly religion was central to his life and psyche throughout — but not the one his parents chose for him. He remained male and straight. People change religions all the time, and they’re often just as strongly a part of their identity before and after the change. If conversions didn’t happen, we’d all still be worshiping Zeus or Baal or such, and no one would be monotheist.

    Look at your average southern Spaniard through the past 2000 years. They were mostly various sorts of pagan, then they were Christian, then they were Muslim, then they went back to being Christian. I’m sure they were devout (or not, as people are) in each phase.

    Being black or gay isn’t something you can change by going through ceremonies and thinking/believing real hard about. It’s genetic.

  40. lurkertype: It’s genetic.

    Was it really Chip’s point that only genetically-sourced distinctions between humans are worthy of broader representation? Good luck selling that.

  41. @Chip:

    I definitely agree that religion isn’t equivalent to race, gender, and QUILTBAG.

    I do think that there are some parallels, though. Some of the same considerations apply, albeit IMHO with far less urgency.

    For example, I don’t feel that religious people are systematically discriminated against (maybe in some instances, depending on where specifically and what religion, but in America and in Israel, organized religious oppression of others are huge issues).

    But there are other arguments that do apply.

    The argument of people who have grown up, never seeing any stories about them, acknowledging them, treating them with respect, portraying them as anything other than irrational zealots.

    The argument of the media presenting an inauthentic world, blithely ignoring the existence of an enormous portion of humanity.

    The argument that media representation helps form and reinforce stereotypes and thought patterns, perpetuating a simplistic, derogatory view of religious people as a group.

    I don’t see how saying that religion is a choice helps with any of that.

    “Western media never acknowledged my existence and treats my culture as zealots and bumpkins; but I can choose leave my religion behind and then that won’t be aimed at me personally, I guess?”

    I kind of don’t see why “We’d like to see more and better representation of religion” should be reduced to “Well, you could stop being religious.”

    Again; it’s a much less acute problem than many others. For many reasons. When it comes to representation, I’m the first to say that religion comes at the tail-end of a long line. But I don’t see any reason to say “This shouldn’t be a concern at all“; that’s pretty dismissive.

    And, another thought… if we had a magical button that turned people cis, white, and heterosexual, would we say “OK, we’ve solved racism and representation”? We would not. That would be a horrible erasure.

    So, I’m not really seeing how “but religion is a choice” actually addresses the argument “people who have chosen religion are poorly represented.”

  42. @Hampus:

    There are people who are that religious in Sweden, absolutely, and it is partly a regional thing. But mostly people, and that includes me, find that kind of religious commitment scary.

    I understand that reaction.

    It’s sad to me – not your words specifically (which I appreciate you saying plainly and discussing), but the wider phenomenon (which I’m well aware of, and is generally much less open 😛 ).

    I understand it. I understand where it comes from. I think I react pretty much the same way to religious enthusiasm that’s outside my comfort zone.

    I think it’s sad that things should be this way, and wouldn’t it be nice if everybody was just perfectly understanding and yet we were all able to get along. 🙁

  43. My current D&D setting is inspired by Sumeria, in the sense of city-states with manifested gods being how things are done. Gods are territorial things, and much of the setting is built on one god failing to follow that pattern: She’s permitted a diverse spiritual ecology within her domain, to no stated end. She’s also consumed some of her foes, and some believe that she tolerates these other gods because she eats them, too, now and then, when no one is watching.

    Personally, religion is easy to work with in fantasy settings: I can invent a faith and move on. For a past Eclipse Phase campaign, I spent some time researching Islam in order to get an NPC right. It was important to me to create a believable Muslim person, who also lived on Mars. She prayed towards the Sun, like other members of her (heretical) sect, instead of the more common Earth or grand mosque containing a fragment of the Ka’aba’s black stone, of which there were several.

    I’m an atheist and it’s easy to work with characters who are also atheists. I come from a Christian background and though it’s been a while I can work with a Christian mindset (for some value of Christianity) as well. I could craft a member of the Worldwide Church of God prior to its atomization (post-Garner Ted, pre-Tkach Jr) without trouble, but a Catholic would take some work, as examples. Another faith entirely would be a trip to the library.

    Devotion is tricky. I was never devout and can’t rely on personal experience to create a character given to a faith in that way. The best I can do is study and do my best, there.

  44. Hampus Eckerman on June 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm said:

    I’ve actually thought of writing a post of these buddhist hells (of which the Japanese seem quite close).

    Speaking of Buddhist hells and manga, a couple of examples that come to mind:

    Jigokuren:
    A drunk 27-year-old slacker named Rintaro falls to his death and finds himself in hell. Each sinner is assigned their own personal demon guide and torturer. (His demon—of course—happens to be a cute young girl demon on her first assignment.) The way sinners earn money to buy basics (food, clothing, etc.) is to accept torture—the worse the pain, the more money they receive. They also slowly work off their sin-debt in the hopes of eventually being allowed to move on to heaven or reincarnation. Sounds grim, but it is fairly light humor with some (but not a lot) of fanservice. Has a complete run in 18 chapters.

    Jigoku Koi Sutefu
    :
    This hell looks very similar to the real world, except for each person is given an ironic curse specific to them. The manga centers on a few students and their school life. One is cursed with constantly falling in love with people (and animals, and possibly objects) that don’t love her back. One is cursed with everyone else falling in love with him while he isn’t interested. One is cursed with constantly eating carrots even though she hates them, etc. It is even lighter than Jigokuren. Unfortunately, it was abruptly canceled and there is only around 160 pages of material even when padded with lots of bonuses.

    Also, there is a “dying and going to hell” dream sequence in Ichigo Mashimaro volume 6, chapter 54. (There is also an OVA of that chapter.) Not exactly accurate, but it touches on some of the mythology (Enma as the ruler of Hell, for example.)

  45. @steve davidson:

    and I for one can not ever remember reading a story that even mentioned Rastafarianism

    Neuromancer was mentioned above; and while it’s not a story as such, the SF RPG Blue Planet explicitly mentions a significant Rastafarian population. Granted, given that the planet in there is something like 95% water on the surface and the land consists of a sequence of archipelagos, the fact that at least one island would effectively become ‘little Jamaica’ isn’t surprising.

  46. @Standback

    How would you feel about a story presuming a centrality of alcohol, in a period where it’s supposed to be banned

    Well, depends how universal that centrality is presented as. If specific subcultures or groups depicted in the story revolve around alcohol in spite of its prohibition, that’s one thing. On the societal level, however, I would conclude that either the author hadn’t done enough research or the society in question has institutions which are less effective than those of ~1920 America and a societal mood that, again, is very unlike that of ~1920s America.

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