Pixel Scroll 6/29/17 Strong Enough for a Scroll, But Made for a Pixel

(1) IN TIMES TO COME. Stephanie Lai’s eye-opening post about strategies for coping with microaggressions on panels and elsewhere at sff cons, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts”, is not merely advice, it may be a forecast of what will be happening at cons in the immediate future.

Interrupting micro aggressions in a social setting

Sometimes micro aggressions happen in a panel, but sometimes they occur in the bar or in a conversation or in passing. No Award recommends a few techniques. These are applicable to both the people being aggressed at, and those friends who want to have our backs.

For the extremely non-confrontational or when you just don’t have the patience, go the non-sequitur and change the subject: “Do you like cats? Would you like to look at pictures of mine? Please tell me in detail about your pets.” Always have your cat pictures ready to hand for quick whipping out. You can do this one, I believe in you.

A bit more confronting: “Gosh, I wouldn’t have said that.”

Really lean on in to it: “Wow, that’s an anecdote. How would you relate that to the topic we’re talking about?”

Go for it: “Wow, that’s racist.” “Wow, do you think that’s appropriate?” “Wow, don’t ever talk to me ever again.” GO FOR IT. Make it uncomfortable. They already have.

Please manage this institutionally

This note is specifically directed at my white friends who want to fix the thing. It is also applicable if you are some other sort of not-marginalised voice, such as if you are straight. When you find something that needs to be fixed, please understand that it cannot be fixed by my friend, it has to be fixed by the convention committee. It cannot be fixed by my friend because that’s not how institutional change works. And when we talk about micro aggressions, when I talk about micro aggressions, I’m talking about institutionalised racism.

It’s nice that I have your friendship — and I really value it — but what I really want is the promise of the institution, not the individual.

(2) SPUFFORD INTERVIEW. Gavin Edwards interviewed “Francis Spufford: The Benign Dictator” for Barnes & Noble Review. Spufford, has many sff devotees because of Red Plenty, and such a rich and entertaining discussion of long-ago Manhattan is well worth reading. Gavin Edwards is the New York Times-bestselling author of many books, most recently The Tao of Bill Murray.

BNR: So how did you end up writing about Manhattan in the 1740s?

FS: A random effect of visiting New York: suddenly realizing that once you got down below the grid, the southern tip was strangely like the city of London, down to the same street names. And like the city of London now, also burned down by great fires. So you’ve got a pre-modern net of lanes with enormous glass temples of international finance growing out of them. And I thought, heavens, this is still haunted by the city that was.

I got a photocopy of an eighteenth-century street map and tried to walk lower Manhattan to see if it was still there. And it kind of is, apart from the fact that the shoreline has gone outwards about a block all the way round. There’s nothing above ground level so far as I could see, apart from the tombs in Trinity Church and Bowling Green — which has the same railing around it, although the crowns were snipped off the top with the Revolution….

BNR: There’s a line in the musical Hamilton that New York City is “the greatest city in the world.” While that’s flattering to Broadway audiences, I don’t think most people in the eighteenth century thought of New York as the greatest city in the world.

FS: They didn’t. The strange thing is that it was urban in feeling, even though there was hardly any of it. But Philadelphia was the financial center; New York was this slightly provincial place that exported flour to slave plantations down in Barbados and Jamaica. And in return, turned sugar into rum. Not cosmopolitan. On the contrary, rather suspicious and narrow, Anglo and Dutch and African and very suspicious of the outside world, particularly if it spoke French.

In some ways, satisfyingly the opposite of everything you associate with New York City now. Very small rather than huge, ethnically exclusive rather than a vast melting pot. Very pious rather than being possibly one of the secular places on earth. Very closed and paranoid about the outside world rather than open and curious. And yet, to my fascination, I could still see a recognizable New York?ness in the New York of the 1740s. Even when you can walk end to end in ten minutes, even when everybody in it thinks they’re British or Dutch, there is still something about it as a deal-making city living on its wits, already sure that it’s the center of something, even if they don’t know what yet.

And at his own blog Gavin Edwards put up a bonus bit where he talks about why Red Plenty is appealing to sci-fi fans: “The Golden Age of Francis Spufford”.

(3) LOOKING BACK. Steve Mollmann of Science’s Less Accurate Grandmother reviews The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers” before moving on to the author’s Hugo-nominated sequel.

I also felt very uncomfortable with the way the majority of the crewmembers impose their moral views on one character and their way of life, in a book that was otherwise about celebrating the joys of multiculturalism and (what I guess you might call) multibiologism. I don’t think the book sufficiently made the case that a particular character was being exploited to justify what was done to them against their will.

(4) HALFWAY MARK. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog makes its picks of “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far”.

These 25 novels represent the finest SFF this still young year has to offer. They’re smart, scary, uplifting, terrifying, thrilling, prescient, unforgettable. At the bookstore, at least, it’s been a very good year…so far. Here’s looking at six months’ worth of the best science fiction & fantasy books of 2017.

One of them is –

Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty A locked-room mystery nestled comfortably inside a big-idea sci-fi premise, Lafferty’s latest is a interstellar page-turner, building a compelling future world of human clones and interstellar travel, and rewriting the rules of the crime novel accordingly. Societal and climate collapse drives humanity to send 2,000 cryo-frozen people to a distant, Earth-like planet on a ship crewed by six criminals who volunteer to be cloned again and again as they shepherd their precious cargo to its final destination. Every time the crew is cloned, they maintain their collective memories. When they wake up at the beginning of the novel, however, their former bodies are dead—brutally murdered in various ways; the ship is in shambles (gravity is off, the controlling artificial intelligence is offline, and they’re off-course); and their memories (and all other records) have been erased. The six have to clean up the mess—but they also have to figure out who killed them and why, and how to survive within a paranoid pressure-cooker of a ship. Lafferty steadily ramps up the tension from the jarring first pages to the nail-biting conclusion. We dare you to stop reading it. Read our review.

(5) SENSE8 NOT ENTIRELY DEAD. SciFiStorm reports Sense8 will return, at least temporarily…

After getting canceled by Netflix earlier this month with some things unresolved, Lana Wachowski, via the official Sense8 Twitter account, explained why she hasn’t said much, but also why she is talking now


  • June 29, 1979 Moonraker was released.


  • Born June 29, 1920 – Ray Harryhausen

Harryhausen receiving his Oscar:

(8) BEEP BEEP KA-CHING. The Associated Press, in “‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 Droid Sells for $2.76M at Auction”, reports that auctioneer Profiles in History sold an R2 D2 made from “parts” of droids used in the Star Wars films for $2.76 million.

A Darth Vader helmet and a Luke Skywalker lightsaber sold for lower sums says The Wrap:  

Other “Star Wars” items that were up for auction include Mark Hamill’s “Luke Skywalker lightsaber used in the first two films, which sold for around $450,000 and original concept art by Tom Jung that were used to inspire the movie posters. A Darth Vader helmet from the original film sold for $96,000.

(9) GENRE IN ASIA. In another post at No Award, Stephanie Lai contrasts Western and Asian horror writing in “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics”.

We talked a lot about how horror is not considered a genre when you think about Asia, in large part because the things that are classified as horror in the west are actually just a daily part of life. The telling of ghost stories is very social. We talk about them all the time, like a description of the car that overtook us at the lights or the reason we rejected that house in the cul-de-sac, like the aunty who always compliments your hair.

Mia spoke about finding Australians and people in general less superstitious when she moved to Australia; nobody saying ‘excuse me’ to ant hills. She BEAUTIFULLY described ghost stories as being stories about neighbours you never acknowledge but you know are there. It’s true. I talk a lot about how the unspoken spirits and ghosts rule my family life (the ghosts of Alzheimer’s and accidents; the spirits of bankruptcy and the fire in the oven that never lights first try). It’s a bit like following superstitions just in case, which Mia, Devin and I all agreed we do; but it’s a bit like knowing the ghosts believe in you.

(10) 90 MINUTES LIVE. Videos of two author interviews from 1978 have been posted to YouTube.

Harlan Ellison

Kurt Vonnegut

(11) SF AUTHOR CARD GAMES. Darrah Chavey is here to introduce Filers to Buddyfight, a Japanese and English card game, of the general genre of Magic: The Gathering or (more accurately) Yu-Gi-Oh!.

What makes this card game more interesting to us is that several of the card characters are the last names of SF authors. So you could put together a game deck consisting of (Arthur C.) Clarke, (Ray) Bradbury, (Ursula) Le Guin, (Robert) Heinlein, (Brian) Aldiss, (Edgar Rice) Burroughs, (Andre) Norton, (Robert F.) Young, (James) Tiptree, (George Alec) Effinger, and (Alfred) Bester.

Each of the characters comes with a “flavor text”, which seems to play to the author. Tiptree is saying “Hehe, I wonder what I should write next…”, and Burroughs says “I’ll survive anywhere as long as I have this sword with me.”

At the following link are sample images of some of the author cards. The Bradbury and Effinger cards are shown below. I have no doubt George Alec Effinger would have been pleased to see himself represented as a figure in a deck of magic game cards.

(12) CHAMBERS. I don’t think I mentioned the announcement earlier this month of Becky Chambers’ next novel, coming out in 2018:

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, and Elizabeth Fitzgerald’s Earl Grey Editing blog for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day clack.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/29/17 Strong Enough for a Scroll, But Made for a Pixel

  1. (1) I can totally do the cat thing.

    (12) Will it be the original crew, or a story like that i.e. traveling, lots of species, etc?

  2. (9) Not much of a horror fan, but right now much of western modern literature is rather rigidly compartmentalised, with both clear and unspoken labels, and western critics and readers have trouble navigating any literary space where those labels and genres aren’t adhered to.

    Which in and of itself isn’t a trouble, except that right now western culture acts as the norm for the rest of the planet, and instead of using the other literary traditions to expand our own understanding, it is far easier to apply the old labels or sometimes invent new ones (like magical realism).

    I’m reminded of Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad’s article This is the Muslim tradition of sci-fi and speculative fiction. I read it happily, but to me it read more as a sample of Arabic works that fit within the speculative fiction paradigm than an exploration of a tradition in Arabic literature.

  3. @Aaron: Nice review 🙂

    I also found Paper Girls interesting, but disappointingly lack coherence. I think you describe and analyze it very well – both what didn’t work, and what was well-done, or intriguing.

  4. @4 Arrrgh! I haven’t finished my Hugo reading for the upcoming deadline and I haven’t STARTED my Hugo reading for next year’s ballot…. (But that Lafferty novel looks fascinating…)

    <diving into books frantically>

  5. 3) Agree with the reviewer about ‘the Long Way’ — can’t remember when I read a more treacley book.

    All these mild, terribly nice people always embracing each other joyfully, celebrating their differences yet recognizing their essential oneness, encountering these small-scale, tension-less incidents — I kept waiting for something compelling to happen, and it never quite did.

    Great title, though.

  6. “I am an Acme pixel, as lonely as can be.”
    “Don’t cry, pixel, I’ll keep you com-pa-ny.”
    “Say, fellow, pixels, would three be a crowd?”
    “All together pixels, SING REAL LOUD!”
    (all) “FNORRRD…!”

  7. 4) I’d have to think hard (and stop and think) what my favorites of 2017 so far are.

    The Last Good Man (which was a runner up on the B&N list, and I reviewed at B&N) would be high on that list. If she sticks the landing, Fran Wilde’s Horizon (still my current read) is looking to be as well thus far.

  8. Kip W & Ingvar: In our original universe, it was called Scrollenstain’s Pixel.

  9. 4 – Glad to see Conjuring of Light, Borne, Six Wakes and City of Miracles all on there. While I really enjoyed Conjuring, the other three are on another level and I don’t envy different voters of different awards next year for having to chose between those three. I don’t know that I could do so and the year isn’t even over yet and there are some potential heavy hitters in the second half of the year. I’ve got Walkaway and 2140 sitting at the library still. Kings of the Wild looks like something I’d enjoy.

    5 – Awesome! I don’t think there is any way they’re going to be able to continue the show after that unless they use the two hour special to find a way to bring them to one central location to film from and figure out how to reduce the costs otherwise. But hey they might also be able to do that. Awesome to see when a show impacts the viewers so much that they’re able to help pull off a resolution and good on Netflix to take the risk to spend more on another 2 hour block of it. They produced so many things so quickly it’s not surprising they’re canceling expensive of low viewership things but it’s still great that they’ll listen to their viewers and try and provide some sort of closure.

    10 – Ellison’s is interesting just because of he wants to argue and the interviewer does a good job with challenging his statement. Vonnegut is awesome.

  10. Matt Y: I haven’t heard any inkling of anything past the 2 hour special… but a 2 hour special to wrap things up is *Still* a gift enough to warrant Wachowski’s lovely letter.

  11. (1) I can attest from personal experience how it complicates being a panel moderator to have to deal with panelist micro-agressions (or even macro ones). Especially from people who have no idea that what the started saying was offensive and want to litigate it with you, either during the panel or afterward. And that’s apart from being nimble enough to spot them coming in the first place and not getting the deer in the headlights “I can’t believe they’re saying that” reaction.

  12. Haha, omg. I’m a moderator of one of the largest forums on a site for alternative sexuality. And so many times, I can see the start of a thread and think that “oh shit, they used that word. And in that context. Queue the screaming eels!”.

    There are a few words that are so easy to use for newbies, but have such a destructive history that you know that there will full of sarcastic and micro aggressive comments a plenty. And many of them is only avoided by lurking around and see someone else step in it before you do it yourself. Just try to use “genuine” about sexuality in a way that excludes others.

    Oh, the humanity!

  13. Lenora Rose on June 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm said:

    Matt Y: I haven’t heard any inkling of anything past the 2 hour special… but a 2 hour special to wrap things up is *Still* a gift enough to warrant Wachowski’s lovely letter.

    Absolutely! In her letter she stated that for beyond the special anything was possible. But unless the episode does something narative like move them to a central location which would reduce the per episode costs of filming it worldwide I don’t think it has much of a chance beyond that episode.

    But allowing a last shot at all is pretty incredible.

  14. (4) HALFWAY MARK

    If Six Wakes ever makes it to UK ebook, I’ll be right there. I’ve read perhaps half a dozen of that list, with a few more on the tbr. The one I’ve read most recently is Borne, which was….is it redundant to say a Jeff Vandermeer book was weird? Probably.
    I thought the set up was fascinating, and the very sparse tone really sold the atmosphere, but it didn’t stick the landing at all. I didn’t think the final revelations really followed on from the rest of the book, which was a bit disappointing.


    Good review. I didn’t find Papergirls that satisfying – that sort of slow burn, drip-drip of explanation works quite well for an episodic work, but when you’re making a slightly arbitrary cutoff and calling it a graphic novel the result is a bit unsatisfying. I’d read a volume 2 to find out more, but taking volume 1 as an independent work leaves it a bit below par. It’s going towards the bottom of my ballot I think.

  15. To wax Shakespearean :

    Tell me where are pixels bred, in the scroll or in the head?

  16. Into the pixel of death scrolled the File hundred.

    Does your scrolling gum lose its pixels on the File post overnight?

    Short pixels got no reason to scroll.

    Scroll on, you crazy pixel.

  17. Actually, let me modify my own above:
    The File-arious Scroll of Pixelstein.

  18. I didn’t find Papergirls that satisfying – that sort of slow burn, drip-drip of explanation works quite well for an episodic work, but when you’re making a slightly arbitrary cutoff and calling it a graphic novel the result is a bit unsatisfying. I’d read a volume 2 to find out more, but taking volume 1 as an independent work leaves it a bit below par.

    For the sake of info:

    PAPER GIRLS vol 2 has been out since late last year, and vol 3 comes out in August.

    Vol 2 opened things up and got weirder, and I liked it just as much as vol 1, which I liked a lot. Looking forward to vol 3.

  19. @Paul Weimer: Nagata’s Last Good Man is definitely one of my favorites of the year so far. I appreciated how Nagata never took certain retrograde narrative shortcuts, how even the “villains” had complicated motives. And the thoroughness with which automation was factored into the combat reminded me of how well Scott Westerfield imagined scientifictional battle.

  20. @Aaron: Good review of “Paper Girls”. I really wanted to love it, but it was such a mess and I couldn’t distinguish the characters easily. It left me hanging. By contrast, “Monstress” Vol. 1 has a complete arc, even though it obviously continues. “Ms. Marvel” is a solid completed storyline in that one volume.

    (5) Never saw it, but am glad the fans are getting a wrap-up. Lovely letter, Lana!

    (4) I’ve read “Winter Tide” and it’s on my next year Hugo list. So is Tenfox“Raven Stratagem”, NY 2140, Refrigerator Monologues, Murderbot, and River of Teeth.

  21. Oops. Darn that HTML. (I was cross-checking here and my Hugo list)

    (1) A very polite way of saying it might be “Dave, did you mean for that to come out the way it sounded?” People do occasionally have attacks of derp, particularly in public speaking. I’d suggest this would be a fruitful approach to take with old SWM who aren’t used to ever being questioned and would go off very badly if you came right out and said “Whoa, racist much, Dave?”

  22. When I worked for Amex, we had corporate mandated diversity training. That was actually a very useful day. One of the bset tips was using “oops” and “ouch.” When you realize that you said something boneheaded, you say “oops, I didn’t mean it that way.” When someone says something that strikes you as racist or sexist, you say “ouch!” This gives everyone non confrontational ways of dealing with people who are trying to get along, the well-meaning but thoughtless masses. Of course, it’s no help in cases of deliberate unkindness.

  23. When someone says something that strikes you as racist or sexist, you say “ouch!” This gives everyone non confrontational ways of dealing with people who are trying to get along

    I’m not saying that that couldn’t be helpful, or that I have a better idea, but… it also strikes me as a way to enable passive-aggressive trolling. That is, someone who doesn’t really care about bias, but who knows that others in the conversation do, could now just emit random “ouch”es and watch everyone squirm, and have plausible deniability because: “oh I didn’t say you said anything bad, I just said ‘ouch’…”

  24. No, I see it working well. If someone feels hurt, they say “oooowch.” If they want to encourage someone to do their best, they say “bee good.” If they want to reassure someone that they will stand up for them, they will say “I’ll bee right here.” If someone needs to make an urgent personal call, they will say “phone hoooome.”

  25. PAPER GIRLS vol 2 has been out since late last year, and vol 3 comes out in August.

    I have Volume 2, but the review was of Volume 1. On its own, Volume 1 isn’t a complete (or even very coherent) story.

  26. I have Volume 2, but the review was of Volume 1.

    Yes, and Mark said, “I’d read a volume 2 to find out more.” So I figured it was worth noting that there was a volume 2 already available, in case Mark didn’t know that.

    On its own, Volume 1 isn’t a complete (or even very coherent) story.

    No, more of an opening act.

    But I was responding to Mark, for the reasons noted.

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  28. Thanks for the shout-out! I do feel compelled to point out that my last name has two N’s; it’s a good German name (or it was at some point, when it still had the umlaut).

    @Clack: I really did want to like it; diverse group of people on a spaceship having wacky adventures is probably my favorite sf subgenre. I was surprised how much I ended up liking the second one after bouncing off the first; my review of that one is written but not yet posted.

  29. Steve Mollmann: I have restored your second “n”. Keep reviewing and I will shout out again soon!

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