Pixel Scroll 6/6/16 You Don’t Send Me Pixels Anymore

(1) MIDWIVES OF THE CURSED CHILD. In “Why J.K. Rowling Endorsed ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ for the Stage” the New York Times presents edited excerpts from a conversation between Colin Callender and Sonia Friedman, producers; Jack Thorne, the playwright; John Tiffany, director; Jamie Parker, who plays Harry; and Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione – in which they spoke “about everything but the plot.”

You both share story credit with J. K. Rowling. How did it work having three writers in the mix?

John Tiffany Jo Rowling was incredibly generous. I met her first, and I already had a soft spot for her because she used to write in the cafe of the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh when I was the director. It was only after the first book came out that I realized it had been her, nursing one cappuccino for four hours. When we met to talk about the play, she asked, “What do you think the Harry Potter stories are about?” I said, “Learning to deal with death and grief.” There was something in her eye — I thought, we didn’t say it’s about transformation or magic or flying on brooms, and we’re on the right track.

Thorne We all met in Edinburgh and as the day developed, we knew we would take the epilogue of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as a starting point.

Tiffany All the seeds are there; we start with that scene in the train station. Am I allowed to say that? Anyway, it was clear that she was going to let us take those characters and have our own ideas.

Callender Of course, Jack came to the table with an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry, so that helped.

Thorne All right, I’m a nerd. With abandonment issues.

(2) YOUR NAME HERE. Cat Rambo tells how to win a Tuckerization in one of her stories.

This month my newsletter subscribers and Patreon supporters have a chance to win a Tuckerization in one of my stories. It’s not too late to get next week’s newsletter with details about how you can enter.

If you haven’t heard of a Tuckerization, that means you supply the name of one of the characters for a story – you may want to name them after yourself, a friend, or someone else you want to pay tribute to. I will offer you your choice of three possible genres, and do reserve the right to reject names that will not work with the story. In such cases I will work with you to find an acceptable name.

(3) SARKEESIAN. “Lingerie Is Not Armor” on Feminist Frequency, a video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian.

The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects.

Click here for the full transcript, links and resources for the episode.

(4) BEWARE SPOILERS. The latest installment of Slate’s series about the nastiest folk in Game of Thrones “This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: The High Sparrow”.

After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 6, we’ll be answering a crucial question: Who is currently the worst person in Westeros? This week, technology and culture writer Jacob Brogan is joined by Slate pop critic Jack Hamilton.

Brogan: Hi, Jack. Thanks for joining me to talk about “The Broken Man.” Last week, Dan Kois and I declared the waif the worst, with Dan going so far as to claim that she is, in fact, the worst person “in all episodes in which she appears.” While that’s a bold statement on a show that includes the (still mercifully absent) Ramsay Bolton, this episode went a long way toward proving Dan right. She shows up briefly, using mere seconds of screen time to repeatedly stab Arya in the stomach. While I have little doubt that the girl-formerly-known-as-the-girl-with-no-name will survive, I’m mostly looking forward to her doing a little stabbing of her own at this point.

(5) WORLDBUILDERS. The charitable fundraiser Geeks Doing Good 2016 is in full swing.


Worldbuilders was founded in 2008 by New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss to bring the geek community together to make the world a better place. We work hard to raise money for reputable charities while giving back to the community who supports us with things like giveaways, auctions, and our online store.

To date, Worldbuilders has raised just shy of $5 million for charities like First Book, Mercy Corps, and Heifer International, and this year, we’re continuing  to expand our fundraising efforts.

In addition to our annual end-of-the-year fundraiser, we have another tradition: the week-long Geeks Doing Good summer campaign. This is different from our usual lottery and auction set up, where you might win fabulous prizes, or you pay top-dollar at auction for something rare or limited. Instead, for this summer fundraiser, we’ve taken the chance out of it.

When you donate during this Geeks Doing Good campaign, you are guaranteed to get the advertised reward. They’re affordable, they’re cool, and there’s no guesswork. You pledge at the soap level, you will get a bar of beautiful, handmade soap. Wha-BOOM! Hit in the face with Awesome!


(6) SHE REALLY DUG DINOSAURS. “Unearthing History: Mary Anning’s Hunt for Prehistoric Ocean Giants” from the Smithsonian Libraries Unbound blog.

You may not have realized it, but you’ve been acquainted with Mary Anning since you were young. “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Remember this grade school tongue-twister? What you probably didn’t know is that this nursery rhyme is based on a real person who not only sold seaside curiosities by the seashore, but became world renowned for her fossil discoveries.

(7) LEGACY. Steve Vertlieb invites people to enjoy his post “Careening Spaceships & Thundering Hooves’ … Children’s Television in the 1950s & The Legacy of Buster Crabbe”: “Here’s my affectionate remembrance of children’s television during the comparative innocence of the 1950’s, the early days of televised science fiction and cowboys upon a deeply impressionable young boy, and the towering influence of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion, all of whom both looked and sounded like the personification of celluloid heroism…Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe.”

When I was a little kid, prior to the Civil War, I had an imagination as fertile and as wide as my large brown eyes, dreamily filled with awe and wonder.  My dad brought home our first television set in 1950.  It was an old RCA Victor TV with a screen not much bigger than my youthful head, but I was glued to its black and white imagery like flies on butter.  I was but four years old. In those early days of television, programming didn’t even begin until late afternoon or the dinner hour, but I would sit in front of the little brown box staring longingly at the Indian head portrait frozen in Cathode promise.

(8) QUINNFUNDING. Jameson Quinn’s YouCaring appeal to fund his trip to MidAmerCon II has raised $580 of its $1400 goal at this writing.

For the past two years, a minority of slate nominators have managed to pick a majority of the Hugo finalists. Last year, I helped propose an improvement to the voting system, E Pluribus Hugo (EPH). I raised funds to attend Sasquan, and I was there to help explain the proposal, which passed the Business Meeting by a 3:1 margin after extensive debate; if we ratify it this year, we can start using it next year.

This year, my coauthor Bruce Schneier and I were given access to last year’s nomination data in order to see how EPH would have worked. We found that it would have helped significantly, ensuring that at least one nominee in each category was slate-free. But we also found that there would still have been several categories without a choice between two or more slate-free nominees.

There are several ways we could deal with this. We could use just EPH, and live with the possibility of only one slate-free nominee per category; we could strengthen slightly it using a proposal called EPH+, which would tend to raise that number to two; we could pass a proposal called 3SV, to allow voters to disqualify disruptive slate nominees before they become finalists; and there are other, related, proposals that have been floated. I believe that there will be at least two new proposals on the table this year, and I think that, as with last year, my voting systems expertise could be valuable in helping the Business Meeting understand the implications of these options and decide what to do.

So, again, I’m raising funds to go to Worldcon this year (MAC II). I’m also hoping to raise extra money for The Center for Election Science, an incorporated charitable organization which supports reforming election systems more generally. (I’m a board member for the CES, and of course I feel that we do good, important work.)

(9) ART SHOW There’s been some discussion of Arisia 2017’s art show space and pricing policies.

Applications for space in the 2017 art show are now open.

New for Arisia 2017, we will be allocating space by lottery. More information is available on the reservations page.

Unlike most other science fiction convention art shows, sales at Arisia 2017 will be at fixed price only.

Since I don’t know the answer I thought I’d throw open the question – are these policies unusual, or increasingly common?

(10) TENTACLE TIME. Gamespot’s introduction to a new Independence Day TV commercial points out a fresh alien image:

It might have taken twenty years, but the sequel to ’90s blockbuster Independence Day finally hits cinemas in a few weeks. Independence Day: Resurgence sees the human race once again forced to defend itself against extra-terrestrial invaders, and the latest TV spot provides a first look at the aliens’ queen.


(11) TART SENTIMENTS. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Horses is keeping an eye on Indiana Jim.



(12) THE LUCHA LIBRE APPROACH TO SCHOLARSHIP. “Mexican ‘Spider-Man’ weaves web of knowledge for science students” – Reuters has the story.

A Mexican science teacher has come up with a novel way to get his students’ attention – giving lessons dressed as Spider-Man.

Moises Vazquez, 26, said he was inspired to pull on the tight blue and red suit of the superhero after reading in comics that the Marvel character behind the mask, Peter Parker, worked as a science teacher after his time as a freelance photographer.

“I do the same job as anyone else, I don’t think it’s the best class in the world just because I put on a suit. But I assure you I want to be the most honest and dedicated there is, I just want to make the classroom a better place,” he said…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Dave Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John M. Cowan.]

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142 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/6/16 You Don’t Send Me Pixels Anymore

  1. @Chip Hitchcock – d’oh I knew was getting something mixed up lol

    Well I can only offer how things go for art shows as an artist with the one convention I did for a number of years put art up in the Art Show and that was for AnimeNorth, and I do know that AN is a weird convention in that there’s a lot of strange discouragement of “professional” artists (and lots of arguments about what exactly makes one a professional artist) in favour of amateur artists. In fact, there was one year where I swear they almost changed the name of the AA to Amateur Alley. This I think has to do more with anime culture, in that there is an assumption that “professional artist” means someone actually published by a real company as manga or animated series and therefore their art is more “merchandise” and those artists “should” be in the vendor area and not the AA. Confused yet? lol

    I basically stopped doing the Art Show for two reasons: a) it was too exhausting and complicated to both be in the Art Show AND have a table in the AA, and b) I sold very little in the Art Show, and I definitely tried all sorts of types of art to see if anything did better and I’m not really a print person and maybe at AN that’s more what people want. Now if it had just been B by itself I might still be doing the Art Show, but I had to make a decision to prioritize plus I still sell a lot of the same stuff at my table, I just find it’s easier to sell the original art while I am right there to talk about it and get people excited. Whether that says something about my lack of super duper art skills or my perhaps impressive sales skills, who can say? lol

    But I do remember seeing some really gorgeous original art without any bids on them, which made me really sad, I think for the older more traditional non-anime Art Shows, there is more of a built-upon history of amazing artists in a tiny space that just have more tempting art in there. The last time I went to Ad-Astra, it seemed to be more like that AND the art also seemed to be selling better for everyone, which is great especially since Ad-Astra is much smaller than AnimeNorth!

    @Heather Rose Jones – I get what you mean about your appreciation of the handmade, the last con I went to I bought a felt dragon that wasn’t perhaps the most polished sculpture but there was something about it that spoke to me so I nabbed the cutie little lady and took her home with me. And on the artist side, sometimes in the past I’ve run out of business cards at my table so I start doodling little scraps of paper with my website and my name and like a cute gryphon head sorta like my icon and I tell you I am always surprised how they fly off the table as fast as I can draw them. One girl said they appealed to her because I did them right in front of her and it was like a mini original sketch, to which I say – hey that’s great, whatever works for ya! lol

    I got no beef with digital art itself, if nothing else because I’ve done the digital thing as much as the traditional artist thing, heck that was even my degree from uni. There are some digital artists out there whose works blows my mind and leaves me in awe of their patience and skill with the programs, they are like rendering and digital painting wizards! 🙂

  2. Heather, I was trying to be light-hearted yet enthusiastic about it. I was hoping that the “chicks” comment would be seen as the “throwback” that it was.

    I’ve not had forum discussion lead to publishing opportunities; but I have received thoughtful commentary by folks who have a lot of experience with the writing and publishing biz; I solicited for contest judges in the forums and got 3; I’d certainly use them to mention looking for stories and I’m positive that members have found critique groups, co-authors, editors & etc., through them,

  3. @ Heather and L: Thanks – the collective action aspect of SFWA is important, and is something I hadn’t really considered. (In my day job, professional associations are very bad at collective action.)

  4. @kathodus: I have voted perfectly pleasant books below NA before, simply b/c they did not rise to the level of Hugo-worthy. I have voted many a slated work below NA. The combo does not bode well for Mr. Butcher getting my vote this year. I’m sure he’ll cry all the way to the bank.

    I suspect the dying-off of art shows is due to lack of money and lack of wall space. All my space is filled with bookshelves, and I live in a fairly large house. When people are having to downsize, cram more and more roomies in, or moving back to mom and dad’s, you don’t have a place to put it. Old pharts are downsizing; young’uns got no walls.

    However, dropping the silent auction is bad for artists (fewer people bidding = less money) and buyers (what if they can’t go to the first day of the con?).

    @Heather: unless you’ve changed a lot in the past 10 days, you are neither bearded nor pipe-smoking, so apparently your SFWA pro-ship doesn’t make chicks dig you.

  5. @ Bruce Baugh:

    Bruce, you’re much more polite than I am, and far more precise in your language- I don’t think I could refer to RPGPundit without using terms like “ambulatory piece of slime”. Besides you, the creep has harassed several other personal friends, and a lot of brilliant game writers- including you. That man is poison to the rpg community- he has nothing worth saying.

    And, and…sorry, I have to go watch a British bake-off for a while and calm down..

  6. @Stoic Cynic: Awesome filk on page two!!! 😀

    And now for something completely different:

    Every scroll is sacred
    Every scroll is great
    When a scroll is wasted
    Mike gets quite irate

    (Apologies to Mike and Monty Python!) (Uh, and if this one’s been done before, apologies to everyone.)

  7. @kathodus: A phrase like that once every 10 pages actually does seem like a lot.

    that maybe sagged a bit in the middle

    At my age, pal, we all sag a bit in the middle. 😉 (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

    @Johan P: Mentioning something specific like the Prius in a story really dates the story, IMHO. I haven’t read it yet; is it set in the present day or very near future?!

    ObSFReading: Ugh, had to wipe my phone to unlock it, and it didn’t sync everything, so I haven’t listened to The Fifth Season in two days. ‘Cuz it’s taking for freaking ever (no, not two days, and yes it should be done tomorrow…uh, I think). ARGH! Anyway, as my reaction indicates, I’m enjoying it. 😉 Yup. I’m able to overlook my “who are these people how do they relate” ever-so-minor annoyance (folks hear said It Shall Be Revealed); I’m really surprised how much I’m enjoying it, actually. And I still love the narrator; she does some accents inconsistently (e.g., Alabaster), but she’s great.

    Time permitting – which it doesn’t (my own fault) – I’m also reading The Invisible Library which, so far, so good (I’m very, very early in the book).

    ObScrollTitle: One day my Pixel will come! (One day my scroll will come? Pixel starts with a ‘p’, but scroll is the correct number of syllables. Hmm.)

  8. Kendall: Mentioning something specific like the Prius in a story really dates the story, IMHO

    … not to mention emphasizing the 2×4 on the author’s shoulder.

    Robert J. Sawyer’s most recent release, Quantum Night, is absolutely rife with pop culture references; several to Star Trek and Star Wars, and others both old (the song “Classical Gas”) and new (Taylor Swift). I personally found it a bit much. It may wear fine now, but in 20 years, I think it will make the book seem very dated.

  9. @Johan P: Mentioning something specific like the Prius in a story really dates the story, IMHO. I haven’t read it yet; is it set in the present day or very near future?!

    Yeah, that’s also a little odd … I don’t think there’s an exact date for the events, just some slightly contradictory hints. But overall I got the impression that the professor’s Prius must be getting old.

    The central conceit involves tech is something you could concievably pretend exists in secret labs already, but realistically I would put it at least a decade into the future. There are a couple of references to things happening in 2014 and 2015 (I think) and based on the context that’s the recent past from the story. But there are also some consumer-available technology that I would put at least 5 years into the future – specifically, when the professor drives home in his Prius, the door to the parking garage opens automatically by license plate recognition and then when he enters his apartment the front door have face recognition tech.

  10. In fairness Toyota started making a car called a Prius in 1997 (Japan only) and it is on its 4th generation. It has a lot of brand recognition so I doubt they’ll drop the name any time soon.

  11. Speaking of Seven Kill Tiger, can any if the more scientifically enlightened Filers speak to whether it would even be possible to target a population that way? Especially such a huge and varied population?

  12. JJ writes: It may wear fine now, but in 20 years, I think it will make the book seem very dated.

    And then, some years later, it will be a wonderful period piece with evocative details.

    Consider the Lord Peter Wimsey books. These were set in the then present day when written in the 1920s and 30s. I love those books, but to me they are historical novels with period details.

    I remember that my mother, who was born in the 1920s, never liked them. She thought they were horribly old-fashioned, but she remembered the 1930s, they were not historical, they were set in the years she was growing up!

  13. It’s a pickle. It’s hard to write a novel about the present age – any age, probably – that doesn’t grapple with how we soak in popular culture. That does mean that a time will come when the references get obscure. But if you’re writing for “the youth of today, the critics of tomorrow and the professors of ever afterward” you’re probably okay.

  14. LunarG on June 8, 2016 at 5:27 am said:
    Speaking of Seven Kill Tiger, can any if the more scientifically enlightened Filers speak to whether it would even be possible to target a population that way? Especially such a huge and varied population

    To be honest I wouldn’t expect too much scientific validity from a Castalia House story.

  15. @JJ: “… not to mention emphasizing the 2×4 on the author’s shoulder.”

    LOL, definitely

    “Robert J. Sawyer’s most recent release…”

    I noticed this in a lesser way rereading-via-audiobook the first Neanderthal book. He had things like specific car models that just felt like too many little unnecessary background details (who cares that character X drives a Y?). Not song/movie stuff mostly, but just little things that seemed like background clutter. I chalked his stuff up to overdoing background details for worldbuilding or making it seem very grounded and realistic or something. But at this point I was just like “who cares that she’s rented a Y?!” 😉

    For me, they didn’t set the period or anything; it was just a little tedious. But then, I think part of it was also that he seemed to over-describe little background details in a way that (for me) grated. So, maybe the author of the short story @Johan P mentioned does it better (or maybe not), and/or maybe Sawyer does some of this a little better now.

    @Johan P: Thanks for the additional info!

    @Niall McAuley: But did those books use brand names? 😉 Period detail is good, but doable without reliance on brand names. For me, actually, it feels a little like name-dropping; does it really set the period to mention a Prius or a Coke or a Nissan, or is it sufficient to refer to a hybrid or a soda? YMMV and maybe I’m being too picky ‘cuz it just annoyed me in Sawyer’s book, so seeing a Prius reference mentioned here made me think it’d feel the same.

    But again – maybe I’m just too picky. I will say, though – Star Wars references work better for me (and feel more eternal) than a pop star like Taylor Swift (much as I love 2 of her songs!). 😉

  16. Darren Garrison on June 7, 2016 at 1:10 am said:

    “Mexican Spider-Man” is actually quite offensive to people familiar with it as a sexual position.

    Mike Glyer on June 7, 2016 at 8:35 am said:

    Darren Garrison: I’m not usually blessed by this degree of innocence. I don’t plan to look up the reference either.

    Well, it involves an attractive young woman and an older Chinese man… wait, I can just show you a video!

  17. Kendall: It’s what comes to mind when I think of female author + pipe. Probably the most despised Irish author ever as her dreary tale of tough peasant life had to be swallowed and regurgitated for exams by many generations of Irish teens. Apparently in person she was good company but her po-faced son edited out any interesting bits from her autobiography.

  18. Speaking of Seven Kill Tiger, can any if the more scientifically enlightened Filers speak to whether it would even be possible to target a population that way? Especially such a huge and varied population?

    I haven’t read the story in question, but from your description and a short review from Lela E. Buis I googled up, I get the gist of it. I’m assuming it is a story about a custom virus targeted at a specific human population?

    A virus has proteins on its surface that are complementary to specific proteins on the membrane surface of target cells–think of it like “viral velcro” that allows the virus to get a grip. (Wiki) This is part of the reason that some viruses can be specific to individual species while others infect multiple species–viruses of the former type may attach to surface proteins found only in a single species, while viruses of the second time may attach to a protein that is found in multiple species. It is also why viruses have specific symptoms–HIV, for example, targets a protein found on the membrane surface of a certain class of blood cell (that also happens to be crucial to the function of the immune system.) The common cold targets a protein found on the membrane surface of a type of cell in the respiratory tract. (If HIV figured out how to infect the lining of the respiratory tract while also continuing to target macrophages, it would be A Very Bad Thing.)

    So, to tailor a virus to infect a specific human population, a good method would be to find a cell surface protein that is widely present in that population and entirely absent in other human populations. It would also need to infect some cell type (such as the lining of the nasal passages) that allows casual transmission, and it would also have to effect more than just those cells because a “mild case of the sniffles” virus instills terror in exactly no one.

    If you can’t find a suitably specific membrane protein another theoretically possible route would be to engineer a virus that uses a more common protein target for entering the cell, but has some sort of gene that allows the virus to replicate only in the presence (or absence) of some other protein or gene in the target population (possible situations, virus is “on” by default, switched off if x is present, virus is “on” by default, switched off if x is absent, virus is “off” by default, switched on if x is present, virus is “off” by default, switched off if x is absent)

    To elaborate on that point, some proteins or other biomolecules are needed only in specific circumstances or in specific amounts. There are feedback systems that allow that gene expression to be regulated. For instance, it would be a waste of resources to produce an enzyme for digesting a specific sugar if none of that sugar is present. So a protein is “clamped down” around the gene for producing that enzyme by default, preventing its production. But the clamping gene is shaped so that if a molecule of that sugar attaches to it, the clamp opens up and allows the gene to be activated–anthropomorphizing it, the gene to digest the sugar is activated when the cell “knows” that the sugar is there. There are also clamps that work the opposite way–they are open by default allowing gene expression, but “clamp down” if a molecule is present–a way of saying “okay, you’ve made enough of this, now stop.” (See this and this, though they are pretty technical.) I imagine it would be possible to build a virus that could be activated/deactivated in a similar manner based on specific conditions.

    Would it be possible to find a specific gene that is present in one ethnic group and absent in all others? It would be hard to find an absolute universal (today, at least) because there has been so much interbreeding between human populations. But if you are willing to have some level of collateral damage, I suppose you could find some gene that if present (or absent) could activate an engineered virus.

    But (even putting morality and ethics aside) it would be a very, very bad idea because viruses mutate much more rapidly than cellular life. Not only do the sequences of their genes change, but they can dump genes entirely or swap genes with other viruses that happen to be infecting the same host. So any limitations or kill switches you build into the virus can very quickly and easily be disposed off, allowing the virus to turn around and bite it’s creator in the ass.

  19. I assure all that my reference to SFWA membership attracting chicks was also all in good fun! (Although I seem to have had better luck getting dates via academic conferences, based on my current girlfriend.)

  20. Thank you, Darren! That is exactly the level of scientific detail I was hoping for in an answer! 🙂
    That’s also kind of what I’d guessed with respect to viruses. Naq gelvat gb gnetrg rirel angvir rguavp tebhc va Fho-Fnunena Nsevpn jvgu bar ivehf… Abg unccravat, V fhfcrpg, tvira ubj cbbeyl jung jr guvax bs nf enpr genpxf jvgu trargvp inevngvba.

  21. Of course SFWA membership may also attract an adoring entourage of doe-eyed young men. I should try advertising it, the boys could fetch me coffee and whatnot, maybe.

  22. Naq gelvat gb gnetrg rirel angvir rguavp tebhc va Fho-Fnunena Nsevpn jvgu bar ivehf… Abg unccravat, V fhfcrpg, tvira ubj cbbeyl jung jr guvax bs nf enpr genpxf jvgu trargvp inevngvba.

    Jung gur fgbel qrfpevorf vf zhpu yvxr perngvat n ivehf gb xvyy cbbqyrf, terng qnarf, orntyrf, onffrg ubhaqf, fune-crv, terlubhaqf, Serapu Ohyyqbtf, Fnvag Oreaneqf, Qborezna Cvapref, pbyyvrf, naq Ehffvna Jbysubhaqf juvyr abg uhegvat Ynoenqbe Ergevriref. Znlor gurbergvpnyyl cbffvoyr,ohg V jbhyqa’g ubyq zl oerngu.

    Take a look at this article. You might also want to at least skim these two wikipedia entries.

  23. And then, some years later, it will be a wonderful period piece with evocative details.

    As a kid in the 70s, I loved the original Bobbsey Twins series – the early 1900s were as alien as any SF! But the “upgrade” to the 60s was terribly boring; their fantastic new stuff was old junk to me.

  24. I’ve ripped four Mickey Mouse Club LPs, all in horrid condition. Two of them are ones that were in my family as early as I can remember (I will guess that we got them used, since we tended to do that), and two are ones I found at thrift shops in the late 70s. None of them have sleeves. Anyway, the two thrift shop ones (or maybe just one of them—I didn’t keep the albums separate much) have a couple of updated versions of the Mickey Mouse Club March: one is an egregious mambo (we’re talking attempted ethnic voices here), and the other is a disco version that’s no better than it should be. (Neither compares with Julie London’s very personal cover version, of course.)

    I guess the stakes of updating franchises can be high. If you succeed, you have a whole existing body of material to work from. Sometimes they succeed.

  25. As an artist, I find the change in the Arisia art show interesting.

    I’ve noted that my work either sells via “quicksale” (aka, the “buy it now” price, which is sometimes several times my minimum) or the minimum bid. I also sell art out of my studio, in galleries, and at the farmer’s market (just the pottery). In those venues, of course, I have fixed & posted prices; I do tend to raise them a bit for galleries because the gallery takes a cut (15%-40%, depending). I will sometimes negotiate on price with open studios visitors, but only slightly.

    For my buyers, what this means is that I will price my art higher at Arisia–no bargains, because there’s no hope of it being bid up. Not quite to quicksale levels, but close. Which will probably hurt my sales numbers, but not my bottom line.

    I’ll note the art director at Arisia has a wife who is a professional artist (she usually doesn’t do cons), so he’s going for a gallery model. It took a long time for the East Coast art shows to catch on to quicksale; I wonder if the single-price gallery model will catch on? As an artist and art buyer, I will miss the thrill of bidding.

  26. @LunarG: That makes it even MORE ludicrous! Fho-Fnunena Nsevpn unf gur terngrfg inevngvbaf va uhzna trabzrf. Gurl ner gur yrnfg yvxryl crbcyr gb or gnxra bhg jvgu bar gnvyberq ivehf. All morality/humanity aside. (<– Motto of C. House?)

    It Does Not Work That Way, as Darren explained. It's completely impossible now, and there's a good chance it might be impossible forever.

    But c. House is really hung up on phenotype.

  27. Art shows! Yes. I have discussed this in the past, I think. Nevermind, I have a mojito, I shall discuss again!

    Art shows are, depending on who you ask, either dying the long lingering death or finding a new equilibrium. I was just at a con, the art show was…errm…well, they meant well. I have a con in the near future, and it will be a large and epic art show where I shall very likely make money…but less than I used to. And the art show will not make money for the con, it will cost the con money, it has cost the con money for the last fifteen years, but the con chair says, with a shrug, that people are used to it and it’s an institution and getting rid of it would be hard.

    Myself, I can tell you that the adult section is dead as a doornail, that the all-ages section has gone from “pieces will go for over a thousand” to “most pieces go for minimum bid.” My husband does auctioneering at the con, and last year, they got an auction where literally no one bid. They worked their butts off on stage, they had patter, but nobody was bidding. Every single piece went for the last price on the bid sheet. (Why even show up?! I ask at this point.) I took them to the bar afterwards. You’ve never seen two more crushed auctioneers.

    I bucked the trend for a few years by virtue of being, well, me–I have a small, wild fan base whom I love, and who love me in return–but the money slides down every year from an easy thousand in the art show to $800…then $600…then $400…and now it’s basically just a habit. I could, were I so inclined, focus my efforts on ways to extract more money from said fan base, but my books make enough to live on and this is my convention I do mostly for love, so I am not currently so inclined.

    And that’s a furry art show. Furries spend money on art like you would not believe, it’s a community amazingly supportive of its artists. I’ve gone to ONE general SF/F con art show that was not a going-through-the-motions thing in the last ten years, and it was near Santa Fe, which is a major art market.

    Honestly, I think it’s the internet.

    This makes me sound like Old Wombat Yelling At Clouds, but back in the day, if people saw a piece of art they liked, and they wanted to see that piece of art again, they had to buy the print. So we had this whole culture of people buying prints and having print books that they could flip through when they ran out of walls and so forth.

    Now, of course, if I saw a piece of art I liked and wanted to see it again, I merely have to remember enough details to google it and I can look. It’s a rare piece that I love so much that I will take it home and put it on the walls. So as our people who were used to buying prints aged, we didn’t get a new pack of consumers to buy prints, we got people who wanted merch. Merch is what is currently selling–or wee little prints that people can buy for $5, or postcards, because that’s a thing you can store easily and enjoy and isn’t the commitment of Buying Art. Everybody’s out of wall space, everybody’s trying to de-clutter, nobody has room, and that’s just how life is right now.

    I’m honestly philosophical about it all–I moved to selling lots and lots of mini prints, to printing postcards and so forth, I write books, I do fine–but every art show I’ve been involved with has slid down, down, down over the years, and that’s how it is. Que sera, sera…

  28. Art shows are one of my favorite things at SFF cons. We’ve bought plenty of original art (and some prints) over the years, including a few expensive pieces. But, well, we own a lot of freaking artwork – too much to display. So these days, I love to go, but very rarely buy. Seriously, we own a lot of freaking artwork. 😉 We occasionally joke about needing to be able to afford a mansion with many rooms to display all our artwork. We’ve both taken a couple of pieces to our drab work walls to hang there (not the expensive pieces!).

    Of course, framing frequently costs more than the artwork. (groan)

    Anyway, I love SFF art. 😀 Auctions, not so much, especially where sometimes people just bid you up to “help” the artist (but in reality, sometimes just make me give up). I prefer the Quick Sale (internet-speak: Buy It Now) method, or the “minimum X bids, but X+Y bids take it to auction” method. These days, since we own too much artwork, we rarely buy at cons, as I said, but we’re always on the lookout for something unusual and original that trips our triggers.


  29. I have a pile of artwork needing framing or reframing. Then I need to figure out where to put it as bookshelves take up so much of our wall space. New artwork I buy currently goes into a folder. I’m hoping on the next visit home I can get nieces, nephews, friends kids to start picking out what they’d like, I’ll keep it in a portfolio for them, when they move into their first place we’ll go through and pick a few things to frame, and they can take over storing the rest. I’ll may pay for framing of additional pieces. A few pieces are limited signed prints, almost all are from Kickstarters, I had planned on passing along sooner but parents have vetoed that plan. For similar reasons to why I have no place to put up all the prints I have. @_@

  30. Oh complicating our art situation (I know, embarrassment of riches, first world problems, etc.), my parents had to do this massive downsizing into a small apartment the size of a postage stamp, so we now have some of their artwork – which we wanted! – but I think I may have to just start putting my art up in random houses to make sure it’s actually appreciated and not just tucked away. 😉

    ObSFReading: I finally got a clue and started listening to The Fifth Season via the Audible app. And tonight I discovered wow, if I remove the stupid USB 4-port expansion…my phone syncs very, very quickly. Gah, don’t I feel doubly foolish now. 😉 I’m more and more impressed with The Fifth Season as I go on.

  31. lurkertype

    It Does Not Work That Way, as Darren explained. It’s completely impossible now, and there’s a good chance it might be impossible forever.

    Definitely does not work that way now. May be impossible forever. I’ve given it more thought, and I can imagine a way that might work in the future, at least enough for me to suspend disbelief enough for a SF story.

    The known viruses that infect humans are of the traditional type–incredibly tiny packages with a handful of genes. They don’t have the complexity to contain markers targeting a diverse group of people while avoiding a subgroup. But the more recently discovered gigantonormous-style viruses can contain from high-hundreds to low-thousands of genes, which is enough to (in theory) customize them sufficiently to fit the target groups, if suitable target characteristics can be found. The giant viruses aren’t (yet) known to infect humans directly, but there is no reason (in theory) that they couldn’t be adjusted to do so. Doesn’t this sound potentially weaponizable?

  32. Seriously, we own a lot of freaking artwork. ? We occasionally joke about needing to be able to afford a mansion with many rooms to display all our artwork.

    You should sell the artwork so that you can buy a bigger house suitable for displaying it. Then write a short story about it, under a pen-name such as Clarke Bar or Butterfinger.

  33. Lurkertype – Yeah, that does kinda seem like a good truth in advertising motto for CH.

    Darren – Thank you for the links, and for thinking about my question seriously! Much appreciated, though I was happier with the answer before you had the megavirus thought. Though those would be at least as susceptible to the losing the killswitch/limiter or adding new attachment taegets that make new populations vulnerable as regular viruses, correct? It sounds like they are just as prone to DNA sharing and swapping. It would still be an insanely risky thing to do, all ethics and morality aside?

  34. @Darren: I guarantee that just in this thread, you’ve put more work and thought into it than the writer did.

    C. House, est. 20XX
    “All Ethics and Morality Aside”

    (sub-motto: “We’re Not Too Good With Logic, Either”)
    (sub-sub-motto: “Phenotype Is Destiny!”)

  35. Though those would be at least as susceptible to the losing the killswitch/limiter or adding new attachment taegets that make new populations vulnerable as regular viruses, correct? It sounds like they are just as prone to DNA sharing and swapping. It would still be an insanely risky thing to do, all ethics and morality aside?

    These viruses are pretty newly known (and pretty weird, from the traditional POV on viruses) so I don’t know if research has been done on the mutation rate–but whether it is as fast as “classic” viruses or slower like cellular life, there is no question that it is subject to mutations, and I see no reason that they shouldn’t swap genes (other viruses do it, bacteria do it, something sorta between viruses and bacteria should do it.) So yes, tinkering with weaponizing this would also be about as safe for the creator as keeping a pocketful or coral snakes to toss at your enemies.

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