Pixel Scroll 6/8/16 A Wrinkle in Tingle

Loot Crate

(1) GEEK SERVICE. LA Times covers “Loot Crate”, a service that sends buyers a monthly package of mystery merchandise.

In a single town, there might not be enough sci-fi and comics fans to sustain a shop. But across the world, they’ve got plenty of buying power.

The pop-culture-themed T-shirts, dolls, posters, flashlights, magnets and other nicknacks that come stuffed in the Loot Crate box are sometimes available at other online shops. But Loot Crate has separated itself by cultivating relationships with major entertainment companies.

That’s enabled Loot Crate to curate the most interesting products and land at least one big-ticket or highly sought item in every goodie box. Those one-of-a-kind offerings, such as a special “The Walking Dead” comic, often sell for many times the price of the box on EBay.

Entertainment and toy companies sometimes provide Loot Crate with merchandise at a bulk discount and view inclusion in the box as a crucial marketing tactic. Since customers worldwide receive the box around the same date, cool products can spur a blast of social media chatter about, for example, a new movie.

“It’s a virtuous circle of content, commerce and experience with incredible potential for fans and creators alike,” Bettinelli wrote on his blog last week.

(2) STARTING YOUNG. Thoughts on child rearing by Elizabeth Cady in “Raising Your Young Geek” at Black Gate.

A few weeks ago, I was playing with my daughter, who is on the brink of turning four.

“Come here you little demon,” I said.

“I’m not a demon! You’re a demon!” she shrieked before pulling an imaginary sword and shouting “WINDSCAR!!!”

Yup. I got full on Inuyasha-ed by a four year old pixie child….

(3) THAI SCORE. In Episode 10 of Eating the Fantastic Scott Edelman and Mary Turzillo share great food and great conversation at a spot in Las Vegas once dubbed “the best Thai restaurant in America” by Gourmet magazine.

Mary Turzillo and Scott Edelman

Mary Turzillo and Scott Edelman

We talked about whether there’s a Venn Diagram overlap between her horror and science fiction readership, how her Cajun Sushi Hamsters from Hell writers workshop got its name, why she won’t be self-publishing her unpublished novels, what Gene Wolfe taught her about revising her fiction, and much more.

In podcasts to come: four-time Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Linda Addison … followed by Gene O’Neill, Fran Wilde, and Cecilia Tan.

(4) GHOSTBUSTERS WHEELS. The new Ecto-1 is the perfect vehicle for delivering your loved ones to the grave, and returning them to it when they come back to haunt you.

(5) WHO SPOILAGE: BEWARE. ScienceFiction.com has a reason for asking “’Doctor Who’: Will We See Clara Return In Season 10?”.

At the Washington Awesome Con this past weekend during a panel featuring both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, Capaldi was asked how the Doctor would be getting along now that his companion is gone:

Capaldi: “I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe his mind. In fact I just did a … I was about to tell you something I can’t tell you.”

Coleman: “I just noticed that. Good save. Good save. It’s something to look forward to.”

Trying to salvage his almost faux paux as well as give a little tease to the attendees, Capaldi added:

“I just shot something… Clara was still there.”

Here’s the video that inspired the article.

(6) WHO’S GOT THE MOST DOE? David Klaus recommends Bjorn Munson’s blog Crisis of Infinite Star Treks: “This man has done an excellent job of detailing all the issues involved in the CBS/Paramount v. Axanar lawsuit, along with timelines.” Munson’s latest post, 22nd in a series, is “Axanar Lawsuit: The Counterclaim and the Road Ahead”.

You’ll see we’re coming up to June 8th where additional defendants, known as “Does” will have to be named or be dropped from the lawsuit (this amounts to a card the Plaintiffs have to play or lose).

There is much speculation about which Does will be named and what their defense lawyers will do. We’ll also know what CBS/Paramount thinks of the counterclaim above by Monday, June 13th.

I’ll save further speculation and observations for others or when I get more information. For now, I mainly wanted to write this post for friends and fellow filmmakers who wanted to know the Axanar lawsuit timeline and how nigh impossible it will be for Axanar to win the case should it go to trial.

I know they’re not going to admit that. That’s playing a card they don’t have to. But they’re going to settle. It’s just a question of when.

(7) RECOVERING AT HOME. Unfortunately, George R.R. Martin came home from Balticon 50 with the con crud. Best wishes for a quick rebound.

I am back home again in Santa Fe, after two weeks on the road in Baltimore and New York City.

Great trip… but I seem to have brought the plague home with me.

Some kind of con crud was going around at Balticon. My assistant Jo was stricken with it, as was my friend Lezli Robyn, though in both cases it did not manifest until after the con. Coughing, fever, headache, congestion, more coughing.

I got it too, albeit a milder case. And then my assistant Lenore was stricken. (So far Parris has been spared, knock wood).

(8) ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ELROND. Hampus Eckerman sent the link to a HowStuffWorks quiz

Can you spot the prescription drug names among Elf names from J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium? Test your Elven race IQ.

I scored very badly….


  • June 8, 1949 — George Orwell’s novel of a dystopian future, Nineteen Eighty-four, is published. The novel’s all-seeing leader, known as “Big Brother,” becomes a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy.
  • June 8, 1984 Ghostbusters was released.


  • June 8, 1910 – John W. Campbell, Jr.

(11) NO OCTARINE. Remember the petition to honor the late Terry Pratchett by giving element 117 the name Octarine — “the color of magic” from Pratchett’s fiction? Well, they didn’t. From SF Site News we get the link to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announcement:


Following earlier reports that the claims for discovery of these elements have been fulfilled [1, 2], the discoverers have been invited to propose names and the following are now disclosed for public review:

  • Nihonium and symbol Nh, for the element 113,
  • Moscovium and symbol Mc, for the element 115,
  • Tennessine and symbol Ts, for the element 117, and
  • Oganesson and symbol Og, for the element 118.

(12) CALLING YOU. Alexandra Erin is offering prizes: “De-Gendering Stories: A Challenge”

I’d love to see more writers exploring this kind of writing, so here we come to my challenge: write a story of any length with at least two characters and no references to their gender.

There are many ways to do this, none of them wrong. You can simply avoid using personal pronouns in the narration, as most of the stories I referenced above do. You can use a gender neutral pronoun. You can write it in first or second person, allowing one of the characters to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns such as I/me or you. The lack of gender can be part of the story (agender characters, distant characters communicating via text, a character whose identity is obscured and unknown) or it can be incidental. It can be a short vignette or dialogue, it can be a classic story with a beginning, middle, and end. It can be a story where the lack of gender is the point, or it can be a story where it’s incidental.

If you undertake this challenge and you post your story somewhere (your blog, Tumblr, a fic archive), please send a link to it to my email address blueauthor (Where? At…) alexandraerin (Neither Wakko nor Yakko, but Dot) com, with the subject heading “Gender Free Writing Challenge”. On August 1st, I’ll post a round-up of links to the stories I have received by that point.

To encourage participation, let’s make it interesting. I will award prizes of $25, $15, and $10 to the story I enjoy the most, second most, and third most, respectively. Depending on how many responses I receive, judging and award of the prizes may not happen until later in the month. As English is the only language in which I am a skilled enough reader to judge stories, I can only provide prizes to stories that are in English or have an English translation. I know there are languages in which the challenge portion of this challenge is trivial, but to be considered for the prize, the English version must also be gender neutral.

(13) OUT OF MY MIND. M.P. Xavier Dalke reviews John Brunner’s 1967 short story collection Out of My Mind at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature.

Out of My Mind, thankfully, doesn’t contain any of the chaff; nor does it, however, show any great ambition or artistry that Brunner later exhibited along the lines of Stand on Zanzibar (1968) or The Sheep Look Up (1972). The best stories in this collection, comparatively, soar far above such dreck as “No Other Gods But Me” (1966). At the same time, they have an aura of whim exuded by the author—many of them aren’t serious in nature, yet are cleverly based on the kernel of an idea that Brunner ran with. This doesn’t always translate well as it feels just like that: this is my seed of my idea (which may be good or bad, depending on the reader) and this is the roughly textured chaff that surrounds it (sometimes good, sometimes bad, too).

(14) ALL THE BIRDS. Camestros Felapton brings us “Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders”.

When we first meet Patricia Delfine she is a young child and her story slips very quickly from realism into fairy-tale with talking birds and unnecessarily cruel parents and sibling. It is unclear what is reality and what is simply the work of an over-active imagination but Charlie Jane Anders’s first novel doesn’t stop to discuss this. Instead she leaves the reader with a choice – to take Patricia’s story at face value (talking birds and magical trees amid the petty tyrannies of school and childhood) or to reject it just as her peers and the adults around her reject it.

Which takes us to Laurence. Anders presents us with a choice here as well, but rather than fairy tales Laurence’s apparent escape into fantasy is via science-fiction. He has built himself a two-second time machine and is using broken up bits of old games consoles to create a super-computer. …

Read the review for the verdict.

(15) ALL FELAPTON ALL THE TIME. Do we need File 770 when there are so many Felapton gems to reblog? “A Special Commission for Brian Z (based on an original idea by Dave F.)” – such artistry, Van Gogh would slice off his other ear from sheer envy.

I couldn’t manage a direct pastiche of John Harris’s covers but why not just have a cover based on the core idea of an army of tea drinking, AI-controlled zombie ancillary walruses?

(16) AFTERLIFE AUTOGRAPH SESSION. Paul Davids will read from his new hardcover about Forrest J Ackerman’s posthumous, paranormal adventures An Atheist in Heaven: the Ultimate Evidence of Life After Death? at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale on June 11 from 2-4 p.m. (The book is co-authored by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.) Davids says, “Forry friends, living or dead, please come!!”

Paul Davids ad5 556 KB


Davids other works will be available, too, DVDs of The Life After Death Project and The Sci-Fi Boys.

Cover artist L.J. Dopp will be signing the hardcover and his prints, and reading from his upcoming, satiric fantasy-genre comic book, Tales of The Donald: The Billion-Dollar Time Machine.

Mystery & Imagination is at 238 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91203.

(17) COLLECTIBLE COMICS RULE. And mothers world-wide tossed them out…. “High-value comic books are outperforming traditional investments” reports Yahoo! Finance.

Gocompare.com collected information on comic books to determine those that have appreciated the most in price since 2008 compared to the S&P 500’s performance. The top performer was DC’s Batman Adventures #12, first published in 1993. The original cost of the issue was $1.25, and in the last eight years, it has appreciated in price to $800, making a 26,567% return.

“We saw it really take off in terms of rising in value on news that a Suicide Squad spin-off might be in the cards. Then it really rocketed when the producer signed up in 2014, and it was confirmed. That particular comic features Harley Quinn, who we know is going to be one of the main characters in Suicide Squad,” said Nilsson. Suicide Squad will be released in August.

(18) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. Future War Stories lists the Top 10 Critical Elements of Good Military Sci-Fi.

1. An Convincing Enemy

In the real-world, wars and conflicts are fought between groups that have their own philosophies, society, culture, strategies, and point-of-view on the conflict. Rarely, are the parties involved in armed conflict irregular and loosely aligned..even street gangs, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS have their own interior culture and strategies. However, the same cannot be said of the “enemies” seen in science fiction. At times, they are paper-thin antagonists and merely targets for our heroes to shoot at. Creators will forge their protagonist and their side of the conflict in lavish loving detail, but nearly ignore the antagonist side of the conflict. In works like Enemy Mind, Footfall, ROBOTECH, HALO, Killzone, and even Star Trek we see well-developed antagonist to an conflict with the audience seeing more as a fully formed part of the work’s interior universe. This only adds layers to your military sci-fi, making it more memorable and enduring.

However, we have works like Destiny, GI Joe, Armor, Starship Troopers, Edge of Tomorrow, and Oblivion; where we see that the story is mostly centered around the protagonist(s) and their side of the conflict. While Destiny answered some of the questions over the Darkness, the Fallen, the Vex, the Hive, and the space turtle Cabal via Gilmore Cards, they lack any real substance in the actual game besides being targets. And this lack of development leads to a less convincing setting for our military sci-fi universe and for the audience.

There are times, when the story is more about the “good” guys of the story than the enemy, like my book Endangered Species, but I still developed the enemy enough via my characters experiences with them, like the crew of the Nostromo in ALIEN. There has to be a careful balancing act in those kinds of stories. This can also be applied to stories and settings where the enemy is largely unknown for plot and dramatic purposes, like Space: Above and Beyond, ALIENS, and Predator. These types of stories allow the audience a sense of good mystery and wonder about the antagonists, allowing for the work to endure in the minds of the audience. This is the way I felt about the Xenomorphs, the Yautja (Predators), the Skinnies from SST, and the Chigs; I wanted to know more about them and that was compelling, making these enemies more convincing to the fictional universe. Also, an convincing enemy can say more about your protagonist and our fictional universe than you original thought.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, David K.M. Klaus, Andrew Porter, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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147 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/8/16 A Wrinkle in Tingle

  1. they made it prohibitive to keep using classic Napoleonic era tactics — even though that’s exactly what Civil War generals preferred to do.

    Not just Civil War generals. Napoleonic charges were used up until World War I – the last Napoleonic style charge took place in the Battle of the Marne.

  2. If anybody is interested in a time-out from war talk… I use Qvar. It’s an asthma inhaler. Unless I am personally taking a drug, I am probably not going to know it’s not an elf.

    A couple of teeny tiny ticky tacky typos, if that matters:

    (14) “Which takes us to Laurence. Anders present us…” should be “presents.” And later in that sentence, “Laurence apparent escape into fantasy is via science-fiction” should either be “Laurence’s apparent escape” or “Laurence apparently escapes into fantasy via science fiction.” I realize those are Camestros’s typos, not OGH, but I thought I would point them out nonetheless for reasons I’m not exactly clear on. My pedantic nature, I suppose. Or because I’m tired of war and I wanted to focus on ticky tacky typos to get off the trench warfare.

    (15) Commission is missing an M.

  3. @Mike: “I’d suppose it was the advances in rifled and repeating firearms were key”

    A Civil War hardware expert of my acquaintance points specifically to the Rollin White patent on the bored-through barrel – which allows cartridges to be breech-loaded – as critical. He has quite the collection of CW relics, enough that he turned the basement floor of his house into a museum, and among them are several firearms (and even some of the ammunition for them!) that attempted to get around that patent.

    The Colt Peacemaker went on sale in 1873, soon after the RW patent expired, and it had what can only be described as a historic effect. Without that patent in effect, the Civil War might have gone rather differently. (I don’t pretend to be qualified to say much more than that, aside from my opinion that it would’ve been an even bloodier mess.)

  4. Jim Henley said:

    Petersburg, the iconic trench-warfare setpiece from the US Civil War

    Apparently not iconic enough for me to recognize the name. 🙂 One of the ironic effects of living with someone who knows the Civil War in great detail is that I’m hardly ever able to commit anything about it to memory, because there’s someone I can ask if I ever need to know.

  5. BigelowT: If anybody is interested in a time-out from war talk… I use Qvar. It’s an asthma inhaler. Unless I am personally taking a drug, I am probably not going to know it’s not an elf.

    The image of inhaling elves suggests a variation on Tim Powers’ Expiration Date.

  6. BigelowT: And congratulations! You are File 770’s first Savior Proofreader of the Day Missionary to Someone Else’s Blog. Appertain yourself a drink and send the bill to Camestros. I have made all your suggested edits. (I went with “Laurence’s” because it arguably parallels the construction of the preceding paragraph about the other character.)

  7. Not all Civil War Generals on either side. Grant used the wilderness area to good effect in making superior numbers count without mass charges (not that he eschewed mass charges, but he was not enamoured of them), and both Nathan Bedford Forest and Sheridan used cavalry slash and run tactics to great effect. Some generals have always adapted to new weapons and tactics quicker than others.

  8. Unless I am personally taking a drug, I am probably not going to know it’s not an elf.

    The image of inhaling elves suggests a variation on Tim Powers’ Expiration Date.

    Haven’t read that one. I’ll have to look it up. Inhaling elves had me thinking of Stars Won’t You Hide Me? by Ben Bova.

    The only free online copy I’m finding to the Bova looks dodgy. In lieu, I’ll post Sinner Man by Nina Simone. Stars Won’t You Hide Me uses it as a framing device. Besides, Nina Simone!

  9. My own father was in the US Navy in WW2, serving in the South Pacific, and like many others noted here rarely spoke about his wartime experiences. I know he served on two ships that were sunk, but that’s -all- I know about his combat experiences. He probably saw friends and shipmates die, so that’s understandable.

    The only actual story I remember him telling about those days was when he and several shipmates had shore leave, and, uhh, “requisitioned” a US Army jeep to get back to their ship on time. It was a supply ship, and they were still feeling the effects of the liquid refreshment they’d imbibed on shore, so they used the cargo winch to swing the jeep up onto the deck of their ship. But the captain made them put it back before they sailed.

  10. And congratulations! You are File 770’s first Savior Proofreader of the Day Missionary to Someone Else’s Blog.

    *sadface* But I saw the misplaced “an” in the first comment!

    That post is full of “an” in front of consonants, enough that I don’t think typos are to blame. Weird; even people who are fuzzy on their/they’re or can’t tell if they want a loose canon or to lose cannons tend to get that.

  11. My own military service, US Army 1972-1975, was mostly spent at Fort Lee, Virginia, which is right next to Petersburg National Battlefield.

    Literally right next to it. At the time, I could leave my barracks, go past a few other buildings, cross a grassy field, and step into the heavily wooded PNB’s territory.

    (I would expect they’ve probably fenced off the border to make the base more secure post 9/11, if not sooner.)

    It was, I found, a very peaceful place to stroll around, after a century plus to recover. It was only when you learned about the actual wartime conditions and fighting that you could realize what a terrible experience it was for the actual participants.

    – – – – –

    Stoic Cynic’s video of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” reminds me that Tom Ellis, who plays Lucifer on LUCIFER, holds his own with a version of “Sinnerman” from episode 106. (Some of Ellis’ singing is overlapped by the episode’s dialogue; a “clean” version would be nice.)

    If you haven’t been watching LUCIFER, Ellis plays him as the World’s Most Charming Asshole. (Viewers’ mileage tends to vary widely.)

  12. Jamoche: How incredibly unfair! And to make it worse I haven’t corrected the “an”…. Let’s raise a glass to world peace!

  13. Maybe if Martin stayed home and finished his series, everybody would be happier…

    I’m confused about the genderless-story contest. She says she’s only considering stories in English, or translated thereto, but since English nouns aren’t gendered, wouldn’t any story in English qualify as long as you didn’t use the gendered pronouns?

  14. @Pogonip: “since English nouns aren’t gendered, wouldn’t any story in English qualify as long as you didn’t use the gendered pronouns?”

    English nouns aren’t gendered, but characters and people usually are, as you yourself illustrate:

    Maybe if Martin stayed home and finished his series, everybody would be happier…

    She says she’s only considering stories in English…

    The gender-free story challenge is about telling a story with at least two characters, but no indication of their genders. Those boldfaced words would thus disqualify your comment. (I told J.B. about the challenge, only to find out that they’d already seen it and submitted a link to a suitable vignette written in October.)

  15. Personally I’d put the advent of modern warfare at the Franco-Prussian War and Moltke’s innovation of the general staff. So… Trains.

    Anyhoo, I’m off to sell my copy of New Mutants #98 and use part of the proceeds to buy frame-worthy copies of Bill Sienkiewicz’s run on the series. I read my comics digitally these days and only want hardcopy comics I’d be willing to hang on my walls. That means no Rob Liefeld.

  16. @MC Simon:

    I’ve also been doing a lot of digital comics reading of late. Amazon’s acquisition of comiXology has played a major role in that, as have some of Marvel and DC’s bundle sales. Most recently, I’ve been chewing through an Elseworlds bundle I picked up in November – several good ones, but Wonder Woman: Amazonia fell rather flat to me. At least part of it was the art style, but the oppressive story didn’t help.

    Are you the “subscribe for unlimited” or “buy now, read whenever” type? (Purely the latter, here.)

  17. @Rev.Bob,

    The Comixology Unlimited seems way too “the first hit is free” for me to continue it. I’ll continue to peruse their sales, where the first one is usually pretty cheap anyway. If I can’t use the unlimited to binge read something, what’s the point?

  18. Re: the gender-neutral story challenge

    I’ve been involved in MUDs and MUCKs for years (so online text adventure games/chat servers). Back when I was still in University, one of the MUDs I was a regular on at the time decided to hold a masquerade ball for Hallowe’en: they created an entirely new MUD running on the same machine, with just a few rooms for ballrooms, and everybody who was a regular could create new characters under new names. At the end of the night, everybody would unmask themselves as who they were on the original MUD, and people could see how good they had been at guessing who others were.

    I decided to go all in with this, with my character cross-dressing and being deliberately androgynous, as well as mute. Which meant I had to spend a few hours typing in mostly third-person descriptions of activity without ever referring to my character’s gender via pronouns.

    It was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated when I started that night, at least to do it without sounding incredibly stilted.

  19. @alexvdl:

    I wish comiXology had bundle completion of some kind. For instance, the new “Elseworlds: Batman” compilation includes several stories I already have (from that bundle), seven more issue-length stories I can get for $2 each, and one more that is only (digitally) available in that compilation. With the compilation priced at $20-$25, is it unreasonable to wish for some kind of “upgrade” pricing?

    The same goes for a couple of other bundles they offer. I mean, it’s nice that they’ll show you how much of the bundle you already own, but why not go the extra step and pro-rate the bundle price accordingly? “Hey, you’ve already got half of this – get a deal on the rest!”

  20. Just as a note, if GRRM wants to go to a con, he should go to a con. Just cause someone catches a cold on a trip doesn’t mean they wish they’d never left home.

  21. BigelowT on June 9, 2016 at 11:15 am said:

    You do get the standard typo-spotting drink in this case but given the context it has to be tea and delivered by zombie space walrus. That’s just the rules.

  22. @Jamoche,

    In an hour’s time, coming to a discussion thread near you, an historical examination of an indefinite article: an human perspective.

  23. Rose Lemberg recently published a genderless love story, “The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar”. It is entirely in the form of an exchange of letters. Although the writers sometimes talk about themselves, one thing they don’t happen to mention is their gender; they fall in love and decide to meet in person without ever knowing that about each other, and the reader never knows.

  24. You do get the standard typo-spotting drink in this case but given the context it has to be tea and delivered by zombie space walrus. That’s just the rules.

    Tea is fine by me. (Hence my name.) I await my zombie space walrus. (The one in the picture is pretty adorable.)

    I worked two parentheticals into one short comment. I consider that a moral victory.

  25. Re: #15 & Re: Hypnotosov –

    I, for one, welcome our new syllogistic overlord. I appreciate the ebb in puppy related content; if it comes with more walrus-related content, than I will raise my cup of tea to Mike Glyer and drink to world peace. (The tea is a variety from Japan a friend sent me; it’s called Rosé Royal and smells like strawberry jam, but does not taste like it.)

  26. Yea, Now/Whenever with them so far. Tempted by the unlimited sometimes though.

  27. Jamoche: That post is full of “an” in front of consonants, enough that I don’t think typos are to blame. Weird; even people who are fuzzy on their/they’re or can’t tell if they want a loose canon or to lose cannons tend to get that.

    It’s pretty apparent that the author of that piece has English as a second language. I try not to be too nit-picky in those cases.

  28. Well, if what she meant was to conceal the sex of the characters, why didn’t she say so? Harrumph.

    You could do it in English or Spanish by having the story be about “I” and “you.”. And “it” if you wanted to throw in a monster.

  29. @Pogonip: “Well, if what she meant was to conceal the sex of the characters, why didn’t she say so? Harrumph.”

    She, um, did. Right there in the excerpt: “write a story of any length with at least two characters and no references to their gender.” (With the caveat that sex is not necessarily the same as gender.)

    You could do it in English or Spanish by having the story be about “I” and “you.”

    As she mentioned in the second paragraph of the excerpt: “You can write it in first or second person, allowing one of the characters to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns such as I/me or you.”

  30. I didn’t do so well on the elf/drug thing either, but it did remind me of “Bored of the Rings”, which used a lot of drug names for characters, so that was fun.

    That means no Rob Liefeld. is a good rule for all parts of life, MC Simon.

  31. The thriller writer Ross Thomas pulled the “trick readers into seeing a woman differently by not mentioning she is one” thing back in 1984: the prologue of Briarpatch recounted the death of a police officer, written so that you wouldn’t notice there were no pronouns. (I fear that it wasn’t just three decades ago that readers needed help getting past a stereotyped response to a woman in danger — could use it even now.)

    This option wasn’t available to the person who translated the novel into German, where all words for occupations have gendered forms. As I recall, the translator simply went with “der Polizist” (the policeman), which made the reveal that “he” was a woman confusing rather than “oh yeah”.

  32. I enjoyed watching this short film Sunspring at Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2016/06/an-ai-wrote-this-movie-and-its-strangely-moving/).

    It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn’t the product of Hollywood hacks—it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that’s what we’d call it. The AI named itself Benjamin.

    Pat Cadigan turns up briefly in the article: “I’ll give them top marks if they promise never to do this again.”

    The film is nine minutes long and nearly makes sense – you’ve probably watched far worse.

  33. Hey, let’s see!

    1.The Fools in Town Are on Our Side
    2. Chinaman’s Chance
    3. Briarpatch
    4. Out on the Rim
    5. Ouch: Pick one of The Mordida Man, Yellow-Dog Contract, Missionary Stew, Ah, Treachery.

  34. Pogonip on June 9, 2016 at 5:22 pm said:
    Well, if what she meant was to conceal the sex of the characters, why didn’t she say so? Harrumph.

    We know Breq’s sex and she still doesn’t have gender applied to her since the Radchaii lack sex-role stereotypes. They make nasty assumptions about people based on class instead (and ethnicity on Atholek.)

  35. A propos of GunNutCon:

    (CNN) — A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that there is no Second Amendment protection for concealed weapons — allowing states to prohibit or restrict the public from carrying concealed firearms.

    The 9th Circuit held 7-4 in the case, Peruta v. County of San Diego, that the restrictions on concealed carry are constitutional, ruling that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not provide a right to carry concealed arms.

  36. Don’t anybody contribute to this thread any more. Tickybox just doesn’t want to work for me. I’m sure you understand.

  37. A small drop of advice for those wondering about veterans and war.

    Go ask ’em for their thoughts if you haven’t already. Ask a question…preferably not one loaded with preconceptions….and then listen to the answer.

    A good opportunity might be next Veteran’s Day in the US or Remembrance Day in the anglosphere. I know they will appreciate your taking the time to participate in the ceremonies.

    IME, folks are generally surprised by the breadth of experiences and opinions. However, I think it is pretty common to hear echoes of John Stuart Mill in their thoughts.


  38. If I want to know about wars, I will not ask english or american soldiers. I will ask the people in whose countries the wars are waged.

  39. 25/30. A bit disappointing really, I ought to have made 28/30, but clicking too quickly without spending enough time to remember those more obscure elvish names… Congrats to all the higher scorers, especially those >28!

    >not ask english or american soldiers

    A strange idea given the topic. In the Great War, the fighting was substantially in France, where the British soldiers were allies of the French. And later, so were the Americans. (Unless, as is likely, you mean other wars. Some of them we were invited in – and the people in the country yet rely on us for support; one might reasonably surmise that their beef is not with the fact that their allies came to support them. OTOH the various wars of aggression are all crimes against humanity and should be deplored.)

    Back on the (earlier topic of) WW1 (well, that’s what I thought it was, anyway…) Britain after the Great War was very anti-militaristic. Not so surprising when you read what the War Poets had to say. (There not being so many left that remember the Great War, recourse to writings and historical analysis is the order of the day.) Certainly many of the returning soldiers were not gung-ho for war, but more importantly, the majority of the general public was not. That the Americans came back from the GW all in favour of more war is the surprising thing to me. Maybe they missed out on enough of the horrifically pointless deaths charging machine-gun nests with bayonets that they did not get so soured on the whole idea. Anyway, the public distaste for war in Britain was a major factor in the UK side on the events leading up to WW2. People had to be persuaded… (I do not dispute Jim Henley’s points about the situation in the USA; I was not previously aware, but it is horribly plausible.)

    Another thing, I don’t think that at that time, the German public reached quite the same level of disgust with war that the British did. So of the “winning side”/”losing side”, there was apparently at that time not so great a correlation with public favour of war.

    Sadly after WW2 all the winners seem to start thinking that war was a good idea all the time. That is, the countries on the winning side, not necessarily the soldiers. For that matter, maybe the countries on the losing side might have been in favour of further wars had they not been ground into the dirt and had their right to have armies substantially taken away from them. It says cynically, or not so much cynically as without hope for humanity.

    P.S. Yes I know this is an old thread and don’t expect any replies, but I’ve been away and felt the urge to say something…

  40. @Lurker in the Dark:

    (I do not dispute Jim Henley’s points about the situation in the USA; I was not previously aware, but it is horribly plausible.)

    It sounds like you think I said something other than what I actually said. I was talking about postwar proto-fascist veterans’ organizations in numerous countries. It would of course be ridiculous to say the USA as a whole came out of WWI avid for more war, and I didn’t say that at all. Inter-war history would have been radically different if it had. These groups included the Stallhelm in Germany, the Croix-de-Feu in France, the American Legion in the USA, and various other groups across Europe.

  41. The American Legion membership is falling off greatly, due to WWII veterans dying off. Younger folks not being joiners? Not being religious? Not having fought a “good war”? Moving around more? Who knows.

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