Pixel Scroll 7/26/20 I Feel My Temperature Rising, Higher Higher, It’s Pixelling Through To My Scroll

(1) RETRO ROCKET. [Item by Jeffrey Smith] A documentary crew’s attempt to find a 100-year-old rocket: “Space Oddity” in The Washington Post Magazine. This one has special interest for me because this is where I live — not Venus, but Hampden. In fact, I was on Morling Avenue today when I went out to pick up our dinner. I’ve eaten at Holy Frijoles, but not at Rocket to Venus, though it’s been here long enough and we’ve eaten everywhere else, so I don’t know why not.

… Now, three longtime friends living in Baltimore — John Benam, Brian Carey and Geoff Danek — along with a film crew, are trying to fill out the story of Robert Condit and his rocket for a documentary titled “Rocket to Venus.” In January, they retraced Condit’s movements to Miami Beach, where they learned he had taken the rocket after leaving Baltimore. Condit had made international news when he announced that he would launch himself into space from the Florida beach, including a December 1927 mention in The Washington Post under the headline “A Jaunt to Venus.”

“Time and again some hardy soul hoped to reach the stars,” the article read. “Never, so far as is known, has the feat been attempted: but no one had possessed a machine such as Mr. Condit has developed.”

…“It will not be very long until we know just what we have for neighbors,” Condit wrote about space travel in a 1928 lecture discovered by the filmmakers, “and in the course of the next few years, we will probably be doing business with Venus as casually as we now transact our affairs across the ocean or go for an aeroplane ride of a few thousand miles before breakfast.”

(2) EVEN HOTTER THAN WASHINGTON D.C. All the rocketship did was blow up in his garage, but the technology Condit used was not that different from rockets built at the time by Robert Goddard and Hermann Oberth. What would Condit have found if he’d made it? “Likely active volcanoes found on Venus, defying theory of dormant planet” says The Guardian.

Scientists have identified 37 volcanic structures on Venus that appear to have been recently active – and probably still are today – painting the picture of a geologically dynamic planet and not a dormant world as long thought.

The research focused on ring-like structures called coronae, caused by an upwelling of hot rock from deep within the planet’s interior, and provided compelling evidence of widespread recent tectonic and magma activity on Venus’s surface, researchers have said.

Many scientists had long thought that Venus, lacking the plate tectonics that gradually reshape Earth’s surface, was essentially dormant geologically, having been so for the past half billion years.

…The researchers determined the type of geological features that could exist only in a recently active corona – a telltale trench surrounding the structure. Then they scoured radar images of Venus taken by Nasa’s Magellan spacecraft in the 1990s to find coronae that fit the bill. Of 133 coronae examined, 37 appear to have been active in the past 2m to 3m years, a blink of the eye in geological time.

(3) DOCTOR TOO. “Tade Thompson: full-time doctor who finds energy for full-on writing career” – profiled in The Guardian.

After Anton Chekhov and Arthur Conan Doyle, Tade Thompson is the latest in a long line of medical doctors who have become writers.

Thompson is a full-time hospital psychiatrist, who writes science fiction, fantasy and crime thrillers that have received rave reviews and prizes, but he has no intention of giving up the day job, somehow fitting in everything by writing in the early hours.

A fierce bidding war has finally concluded over the film rights to his Molly Southbourne novellas, a nightmarish psychological story about a girl who, when she bleeds, creates duplicates of herself who want to kill her.

The rights have gone to Complete Fiction, the film company the director Edgar Wright and the producer Nira Park set up with their long-time collaborators the writer-director Joe Cornish and the producer Rachael Prior. They will transform the stories into a multi-season television series in collaboration with Netflix. Thompson is executive producing it and may write an episode or two…

(4) SPORTS SECTION. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Where else would you expect to find a mention of Gene Wolfe except in an article about an Argentine football manager published on an Indian website? “Marcelo Bielsa: Genius That’s Hard to Miss, Harder to Notice, Impossible to Fathom”.

In April last year, at the age of 87, the writer Gene Wolfe died of heart disease in Illinois. For science fiction fans, Wolfe was a cult figure, a modern day savant whose writing only a few could understand, and yet unanimously admired. His books never sold much, and yet he is widely regarded as the greatest American science fiction writer of all time. All his obituaries, while admiring and respectful, had an underlying theme, a question that invariably also followed a huge amount of his literary work. His writing, and its implications, were so challenging and polarising that everyone seemed to question what kind of greatness it was.

The reason to bring up Wolfe is because Marcelo Bielsa is back in business. Talking about Bielsa even more so. The mad stories, legends and myths about this football obsessed, workaholic, crazy, maniacal Argentinian cult figure, spoken about in hushed tones (and loud yells) in football circles across the world, have become mainstream over the past few years….

(5) AT THE ALTER. Lucas Adams reviews the exhibition in “Worlds Apart: Sci-Fi Visions of Altered Reality” in the New York Review of Books.

… Attempting to rework the past, at least on paper, has been the outlet of artists and authors for as long as people have been wishing for different endings. “As If: Alternative Histories From Then to Now,” an exhibition at the Drawing Center, presents eighty-four works from 1888 to the present that “offer examples of how we might reimagine historical narratives in order to contend with the traumas of contemporary life.”

…Among them is Futurian War Digest by J. Michael Rosenblum, a British science fiction zine the conscientious objector made during World War II, featuring spacefaring adventurers, robot love affairs, and more. The police kept an eye on Rosenblum during the war, out of concern that he was “publishing seditious materials and of collecting contraband ink and paper,” the museum wall text explains, but one look at its simple but fanciful black-and-white illustrations, and it’s clear this was simply a creative outlet in the midst of a war.

Also on view is work by Herman Poole Blount, better known as the Jazz musician Sun Ra, one of the pioneers of Afro-futurism. In the late 1930s, Sun Ra experienced a life-altering vision in which he went to Saturn and met aliens, and discovered he was not an Earthling, but actually a citizen of outer-space. Ra’s creation of a new identity allowed him to free himself from societal constraints, or as the exhibition’s free zine puts it: “As an interstellar visitor, Sun Ra wasn’t subject to racial violence–he was someone, from somewhere, else.”

(6) SAXON OBIT. Actor John Saxon, known for his roles in three Nightmare on Elm Street movies and Enter the Dragon died July 25 at the age of 83 reports the Chicago Sun-Times. His horror résumé also includes two films for Roger Corman: Queen of Blood (1966) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), playing a tyrannical warlord.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 26, 1968 Mission Mars premiered. (Called Murder in the Third Dimension in the U.K.) Directed by Nick Webster, it was produced by Everett Rosenthal from a screenplay by Mike St. Clair with the story being written by Aubrey Wisberg. The cast was  Darren McGavin, Nick Adams, George De Vries and Michael DeBeausset. Not a single critic at the time like it with one saying it was just a “conventional monster movie” and another commenting that it was “plodding, dull and amateurish“. There’s no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 26, 1856 – George Bernard Shaw.  This great playwright, radical, and wise guy did some SF; Man and SupermanBack to MethuselahAndrocles and the LionToo True to Be Good, a few more; two dozen short stories; outside our field, essays, music criticism, plays, preachments.  “My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.”  Nobel Prize.  (Died 1950) [JH]
  • Born July 26, 1885 – Paul Bransom.  Illustrated The Wind in the WillowsJust-So Stories; comic strip The Latest News from Bugville for The New York Evening Journal.  Fifty books of wildlife subjects.  Many fine Saturday Evening Post covers.  Clinedinst Medal.   Here are Ratty and the Wayfarer from Willows, and here is Pan.  Here is “The stork was as hungry as when she began” from An Argosy of Fables.  Here is Buck leaping in the air from The Call of the Wild.  Here is a cover with Joseph Gleeson for Just-So Stories.  (Died 1979) [JH]
  • Born July 26, 1894 – Aldous Huxley.  Many know his masterpiece Brave New World, with everything wrong and people made to love it, translated into Bulgarian, Dutch, French, Galician, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish; some, his other SF e.g. After Many a Summer Dies the Swan; his last, Island, with everything right, may be weaker.  More novels, essays, short stories, plays and screenplays, poetry, travel.  Pacifist and psychedelicist.  (Died 1963) [JH]
  • Born July 26, 1928 —  Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just too damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The ShiningBarry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.) (CE)
  • Born July 26, 1929 – Lars-Olov Strandberg.  Co-founded SFSF (Scandinavian SF Ass’n); chairman, secretary, or treasurer of its board continuously 1965-2011.  Life-long photographer, thus documenting SF cons (see e.g. this fine photo of Kathy & Drew Sanders’ entry in the Masquerade costume competition at Seacon ’79 the 37th Worldcon).  Linked Swedish fandom to Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom.  Alvar Appeltofft Award.  Fan Guest of Honor at Swecon 2, Interaction the 63rd Worldcon.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born July 26, 1939 – Steve Francis, 81.  Some become all-round fans from fanzines; he, from the Dealers’ Room.  With wife Sue, mainstays of Rivercon during its twenty-five years; together, Fan Guests of Honor at MidSouthCon 10, Marcon 27, DeepSouthCon 33, Con*Stellation XX.  Rebel and Rubble Awards.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates.  Big Heart, our highest service award.  Scheduled to be Fan Guests of Honor at the cancelled 14th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) this year.  [JH]
  • Born July 26, 1945 M. John Harrison, 75. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s not published deep in digital form at this time. (CE)
  • Born July 26, 1945 Helen Mirren, 75. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellers’ last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (CE)
  • Born July 26, 1969 Tim Lebbon, 50. For my money, his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden, though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably. (CE)
  • Born July 26, 1971 – Mary Anne Mohanraj, Ph.D., 49.  Co-founded Strange Horizons, editor four years; editor for ten issues of Jaggery. One SF novel, three others; two dozen shorter SF stories of which three in Wild Cards, a dozen others; essays in SHFantasyUncanny; interviewed in LightspeedLocusMithila; edited WisCon Chronicles9.  Gardener and cook.  [JH]
  • Born July 26, 1978 Eve Myles, 42. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. (CE)
  • Born July 26, 1978 – Elizabeth Tudor, 42.  Azerbaijani lawyer and SF author.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories.  Here is her Authors Guild page.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Tom Gauld:

(10) RNZ BOOSTS THE SIGNAL. Here’s a first taste of Worldcon coverage in New Zealand’s mainstream media: “World Science Fiction Convention hosted by NZ” at RNZ. Hear audio of the broadcast at the link.

Ten years of planning have gone into New Zealand’s first time hosting the World Science Fiction Convention. Several thousand ardent fans, guests and speakers were due to come to Wellington from around the world – about now.

But organiser Lynelle Howells says the show must go on – and it will this Wednesday to Sunday, in the virtual realm – more than 750 planned talks, sessions and workshops will be beamed out around the world online.

“The world science fiction convention is held in a different city every year, so for it to come down to New Zealand is a really big deal; then of course Covid happened. It’s the first time anybody’s tried to run a WorldCon virtually, but needs must,” she says.

(11) WORDLESS IN GEHENNA. At The Wertzone, Adam Whitehead reports “Patrick Rothfuss’s editor confirms she is yet to read a single word of THE DOORS OF STONE”.

In somewhat surprising news, Patrick Rothfuss’s editor Betsy Wollheim has reported that she is yet to read any material from his next novel, The Doors of Stone, the third and concluding volume in The Kingkiller Chronicle, and notes a lack of communication on the book’s progress.

Rothfuss shot to fame with the first book in the trilogy, The Name of the Wind, in 2007. With over 10 million sales, The Name of the Wind became one of the biggest-selling debut fantasy novels of the century. The second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, did as well on release in 2011. Nine years later, the third book remains unpublished.

The Doors of Stone is probably the second-most-eagerly-awaited fantasy novel of the moment, behind only George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, which it actually exceeds in waiting time (though only by five months). Martin has provided updates on The Winds of Winter, albeit extremely infrequent ones, but has recently reported much more significant progress being made. Rothfuss, on the other hand, has maintained near constant zero radio silence on the status of book in recent years, despite posting a picture of an apparently semi-complete draft in 2013 that was circulating among his beta readers….

(12) THE GREATEST STAR TREK SERIES YOU’RE NOT WATCHING. So says Space Command creator Marc Zicree.

I’m the author of The Twilight Zone Companion and also a writer for such shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, Sliders and many others.

Recently, I’ve been shooting a new show that I wanted to share with you. And if you can share it with your fans, that would be great (and let them know we have a Kickstarter campaign going in order to shoot more).

It’s called Space Command,

The Kickstarter is to fund the fifth episode, which is a little bit confusingly called “SPACE COMMAND Episode 4 – FORGIVENESS PART 2”. As of today they’ve raised $26,798 of the $48,000 goal, with 17 days left to go.

The show’s cast (with some of their previous genre credits) includes Doug Jones (Star Trek Discovery, Shape of Water); Christina Moses (A Million Little Things); Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos); Mira Furlan (Lost, Babylon 5); Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek); Robert Picardo (Star Trek Voyager, The Orville); Mike Harney (Orange is the New Black, Project Blue Book); Bruce Boxleitner (Supergirl, Babylon 5, Tron); Bill Mumy (Lost In Space, Babylon 5); Ethan McDowell (Doom Patrol); Barbara Bain (Space: 1999, Mission Impossible); Armin Shimerman (Deep Space Nine, Buffy).

  • The Pilot Episode
  • The Animatic Prequel —  (combining the completed audio play with the work-in-progress graphic novel).
  • Our Special Two-Part Pandemic Episode

(13) WANDERERS. In Ken Kalfus’ story “In Little America” at N+1 Magazine, Americans become the world’s illegal migrants.

…For ten months or so I belonged to a crew on a container ship flying a flag of convenience. My passport wouldn’t allow me ashore in most ports. The borderless, visa-free ocean was my home.

The American catastrophe had meanwhile entered a new phase that drained the world of any cruel pleasure it had taken in our downfall. Now the overwhelming sentiment was pity. I followed the news with averted eyes….

(14) YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON. “Human-sized robot presents lottery winner with check in Quebec”.

The first in-person check presented to a lottery winner in Quebec since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was presented by an official immune to the disease — a human-sized robot.

Loto-Quebec said it employed the use of a robot designed by a student club at the Montreal-based Ecole de Technologie Superieure, in partnership with Centech, to present Guylaine Desjardins with her check for $4.47 million.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Steven H Silver, Errolwi, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Ttle credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

77 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/26/20 I Feel My Temperature Rising, Higher Higher, It’s Pixelling Through To My Scroll

  1. (8) Huxley’s nonfiction Brave New World Revisited is also an interesting read – it’s relatively rare for an SF writer to comment on their work in this way.

  2. (8) Evidently, Stan Lee was reading Huxley’s non-fiction psychedelics book The Doors of Perception in his Doctor Strange cameo!

  3. 8) I remember Helen Mirren in Lindsay Anderson’s “O Lucky Man!”, described by Wikipedia as “ a 1973 British comedy-drama fantasy film, intended as an allegory on life in a capitalist society.” I only saw it the once, on its original release, when I was a teenager, but Mirren made an impression.

  4. (8) Shaw was also arguably a character in SFF, as the villain Weston in C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet is partly based on Shaw or at least talks suspiciously like him, standing in for a kind of progress-minded but fascist-curious intellectualism that Lewis considered a pernicious influence (Weston in the sequel ends up getting possessed by the devil).

  5. @8 (Shaw): I challenge Too True to Be Good; the germ is an outside commentator, and so unnecessary that the Stratford production I crewed for left him out. OTOH, Caesar and Cleopatra produced an epigram for Glory Road — IIRC the first I’d heard of Shaw. (Knight was crueler: “Don’t know what it is about a Shaw bird; can’t shut they up.” — from “Natural state” IIRC.)

    @Rob Thornton: IIRC, Wolfe credited The Doors of Perception for the title of There Are Doors. (Dim memory of the hardcover — my pb copy doesn’t show anything.)

    edit: Fifth!

  6. @8 (Shaw): I challenge Too True to Be Good; the germ is an outside commentator, and so unnecessary that the Stratford production I crewed for left him out. OTOH, Caesar and Cleopatra produced an epigram for Glory Road — IIRC the first I’d heard of Shaw. (Knight was crueler: “Don’t know what it is about a Shaw bird; can’t shut they up.” — from “Natural State”.)

    @Rob Thornton: IIRC, Wolfe credited The Doors of Perception for the title of There Are Doors. (Dim memory of the hardcover — my pb copy doesn’t show anything.)

  7. (Weston in the sequel ends up getting possessed by the devil).

    Having read that book recently, I can state that Weston literally asked for it. I was slightly impressed with how Lewis set it up.

  8. @Nancy Sauer, I’ve never been clear on whether Lewis planned out the story more than a book at a time and I felt like Weston was a pretty thin character, but he does kind of become retroactively more interesting in Perelandra because what’s become of him is so horrifying – like, yikes, that guy was pretty bad but did he really deserve that, even if he did sort of ask for it? It makes him more of a tragic figure, and less just “Here’s why I think certain British writers are misguided.” Whereas his assistant who’s more deliberately unethical (was Devine also a parody of anyone in particular?) is also a little more careful and weasels his way along to a somewhat less awful fate.

  9. (4) Gene Wolfe… is widely regarded as the greatest American science fiction writer of all time.

    🙄

  10. @StephenfromOttawa, O Lucky Man! is such a trip. About 80% of it is a picaresque social satire in a fairly recognizable world, but a couple of subplots are totally SF/horror. I guess I’m not surprised that it’s not talked about as much as If… because it’s so seemingly arbitrarily plotted and very long, but there’s something about its dream-logic that I really enjoy. Mirren has one of the funniest line deliveries in the movie when the protagonist, having met her earlier as a socialite heiress, finds her living on the streets with a semi-conscious derelict guy and asks why she didn’t marry the Duke of Belminster: “This is the Duke of Belminster!”

  11. 4) Gene Wolfe… is widely regarded as the greatest American science fiction writer of all time.

    Really? Anderson, Asimov, Blish, Heinlein… All In their own way could claim that title! Twenty years from writers such as Bear likewise.

  12. 11) try the 12 or more yrs-long time between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings publication; what it was longer than 12 years. Yes, they (publishing details/negotiations delayed it) took 4-5 yrs long to publish after it was written in 1949.

    Wollheim seems disingenuous here to me, if Rothfuss had completed 1-3 and sold Kvothe’s story as a 3 book completed manuscripts; wouldnt she or whoever edited/bought it have read such? If it wasnt publishable, isnt she being disingenuous or passive-aggressive now?
    Only Asimov seems to hv had absolute trust in Doubleday after the debacle of his Foundation trilogy going out of print in the 1950s. The other examples of Last Dangerous Visions and Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire also seem to have laid at their feet (to me) the editor/publisher’s PR/marketing push not to diminish sales: if you market only the published/to be published books, say like Bujold or Brust-just the latest book in the Westeros saga now out without promising there will ever be any more-that would dampen expectations/sales. N also horseshit like these posts, imo. Tho im not sure the conclusions reached by whitehead nor am i gonna reread. (Unless im wrong/misunderstanding sth.)
    These r less than (iicc) a dozen examples of works being anticipated for yrs/decades out of how many millions of un-demanded works available/finished/unfinished. To me, this means that all these expected examples are superlative (including King’s Tower{tho ymmv, i dint read more than a few sentences/words of the first page} n other completed/uncontinued works). Tat there hv been works continued by others; Dune n Ghormenghast spring to mind, just means there are more than enuf works to read in this world. Rothfuss n Martin shd just keep writing(or not writing, watever the case may be), and the readers can chose whether to read or not to read; but not to attack the authors, nor the editors/publishers passive-aggressively scold the authors to others; if in contract violation-renegotiate or communicate first(there was no sign of tat, so if wollheim n rothfuss r in communication n he was fine being commented on like tat, i apologize- theres agents n emails/telegram{the app not the old-timey communication over wires}/whatsapp too.)
    Tldr-read/buy or dont read/buy the authors books/work. Just dont attack them personally for doing other stuff/not completing in ur timeframe; commenting on finished books/released chapters is fine, ig.

    Tltldr-ill buy n read the next kingkiller n asoiaf books.
    (Ill just post this now. I hv more thots but this is already too long.)

  13. @MixMat In any case, she and the publisher seem to have made plenty of money on Rothfuss work to date. It seems odd to me that she would want to openly antagonize him the way she did.

  14. @rochrist exactly, this too. But i do think rothfuss is a bit of a git not hetting in touch with daw/wollheim, too. Plenty of stuff here on both sides. Just tat my opinion is not abt the amount of writing he’s done-overall communication with his publisher/editor here, tho (re-)reading abt author/editor/publishers in autobio books during lockdown, asimov n anthony plus shatner n nimoy troubles with studios/directors/screenwriters etc, i speculate he may (or may not), just be burnt out (or want out of his contract/hv writers block), or some other thing where hes incommunicado (which imo) he shd communicate. Or hv his contract nulled n return his advance, blah blah blah. Just tat there’s not much(or any) upside for DAW if kingkiller is publically suspended/nulled contract. Which is why i stated earlier its so passive aggressive to put it outright that the editor/publisher hasnt read word one of bk 3. Sigh.
    Not everyone can be Tad Williams prolific level from their first book for DAW. (But tats why you nurture n support younger talent like Rothfuss n communicate with them {or their agent}, ig.) I had such a good opinion of DAW n rothfuss before writing this reply, tho. Im just depressed thinking abt both sides communication issues with each other now. As i wrote in my previous post,
    Tldr-ill buy n read the next kingkiller n asoiaf books immediately that come out.

  15. @Cat Eldridge

    I’d pick LeGuin if I had to make a case for just one, I think. But I don’t begrudge a bit of hyperbole in an article that’s not really about SF.

  16. @ Cat Eldridge

    From the SF Encyclopedia:

    Though never the most popular with readers, nor the most influential on other professionals in the sf field, Wolfe remains quite possibly sf’s most important author qua author, both for the intense literary achievement of his best work, and for the very considerable volume of work of high quality he produced from the beginning of his active career in 1965.

  17. Rob Thornton: From the SF Encyclopedia

    You realize that’s just John Clute’s opinion, right?

    I don’t think that there’s any doubt that Wolfe is one of SF’s greats. But he’s one of many greats.

    Because of the subjectivity of peoples’ opinions and the wide range of styles employed by a significant number of hugely-important SF writers — all of whom can rightfully be described as “one of the great SF writers” — for anyone to single out one SF writer and claim that they are “the greatest American science fiction writer of all time” is just ludicrous — and when someone makes that claim, it calls into question the veracity of everything else they say, too. I read that and thought, “Okay, so what you’re telling me is that you’re so biased that I can’t trust your judgment on anything you say here.”

  18. (6) The first John Saxon movie I remember watching was Gene Roddenberry’s “Planet Earth” TV movie, which came out in 1974.

    I’m not sure how that storyline would hold up today… (“Women’s lib? Or women’s lib gone mad…”) A 1970s view of gender relations and a post-apocalyptic matriarchal society. Eek! In retrospect, it might be better that it wasn’t picked up as a regular series…

  19. JJ notes Because of the subjectivity of peoples’ opinions and the wide range of styles employed by a significant number of hugely-important SF writers — all of whom can rightfully be described as “one of the great SF writers” — for anyone to single out one SF writer and claim that they are “the greatest American science fiction writer of all time” is just ludicrous — and when someone makes that claim, it calls into question the veracity of everything else they say, too. I read that and thought, “Okay, so what you’re telling me is that you’re so biased that I can’t trust your judgment on anything you say here.”

    Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction is one of the standard go-to sites for compiling the Birthdays. That said, I don’t trust his opinion on anything as he holds strong views on damn near every author there is. He’s not quite full of merde but he’s damn close to being so.

  20. Cat Eldridge: I don’t trust [John Clute’s] opinion on anything as he holds strong views on damn near every author there is. He’s not quite full of merde but he’s damn close to being so.

    Yeah, I pretty much lost all respect for him when I saw that he’d written an SF Encyclopaedia entry for Armin Shimerman as if he was actually a bona fide author rather than just someone who had lent his name to ghostwritten books. 😐

  21. The longest I’ve ever had to wait for a promised sequel was 24 years — Glen Cook’s An Ill Fate Marshalling (in his Dread Empire series) was published in 1988 (and ended on a huge cliffhanger) and we didn’t get the next & final book (A Path to Coldness of Heart) until 2012.

    There were extenuating circumstances, though — apparently, sales were not great, especially compared to his other ongoing series (Black Company and Garrett, P.I.), and some “fan” stole the manuscript of the original version back in the late 80s/early 90s, so he just kind of stepped away from the series until Night Shade brought them back in print and convinced him to rewrite the next volume (and to wrap the series up in that volume; the original plan was for another four or five books, I believe).

  22. 12 years between Seeker’s Mask (1994) and To Ride A Rathorn (2006) by P. C. Hodgell

    11 years between The Outskirter’s Secret (1992) and The Lost Steersman (2003) by Rosemary Kirstein

    12 years between Water Logic (2007) and Air Logic (2019) by Laurie J. Marks

    10 years between The Keeping Place (1998) and The Stone Key (2008) by Isabel Carmody

    12 years between The Palace of Love (1967) and The Face (1979) by Jack Vance

    24 years between Faust Part I (1808) and Faust Part II (1832) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Sometimes a series just takes as long as it takes.

  23. (10) I was rather surprised this morning when my postman (in the UK) dropped my copy of the CoNZealand souvenir book through my front door. In 33 years of off-and-on mostly-supporting memberships of Worldcon, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever had the souvenir book before the con has actually taken place!

  24. @ Cat Ethridge

    Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction is one of the standard go-to sites for compiling the Birthdays. That said, I don’t trust his opinion on anything as he holds strong views on damn near every author there is. He’s not quite full of merde but he’s damn close to being so.

    While I was taken aback by JJ’s comment about the Armin Shimerman entry (that’s new to me), I do think that the word merde is awfully strong here. When I have browsed through the SF Encyclopedia, I tend to learn more than I scoff. Obviously, I have some respect for Clute’s work or I wouldn’t be citing it.

  25. Rob Thornton says While I was taken aback by JJ’s comment about the Armin Shimerman entry (that’s new to me), I do think that the word merde is awfully strong here. When I have browsed through the SF Encyclopedia, I tend to learn more than I scoff. Obviously, I have some respect for Clute’s work or I wouldn’t be citing it.

    It’s his opinions on damn near ever work that I find to merde. His cultural and political bias impact his opinion far too often. Straight forward space operas become a matter of deep political thought, and woe unto to you if you’re at all conservative-in bent. And it gets presented as fact, not opinion.

  26. @kyra more recent than faust, since the item in the pixel scroll is abt incomplete(so far) instalments of a series, 150 yrs (or thereabouts) so far since pt 6 of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens {only dickens iv read is classics illustrated comics, probably only great literature at all actually}.
    I wonder how the paying audience responded-having paid a shilling each installment after finding out they got gypped out of an ending; the comments on the wertzone make me glad in retrospect tat there were no internet in those days[tho it wouldnt effect dickens, being dead and all]. Ooth i hv great admiration for jordan’s fandom being respectful(afaict) after his death and responding based on the work to Sanderson finishing wot rather than how pissed ppl today might react(if it happened now). Just my thots.

  27. @Eli, I think we are meant to find Weston to be tragic; Ransom seems to be horrified when bits of the real Weston are allowed to surface in monologue, and at the end he goes to the trouble of carving out a grave marker. But I think Weston is the same kind of tragic as people who go out on wilderness expeditions without researching the terrain and listening to the experts on how to prepare for it, and die as a result. There’s a reason why Pride is considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

  28. Andrew says to me: Didn’t Wolfe describe himself as a conservative?

    No idea. I’m not really interested in the politics of an author beyond knowing if their beliefs are deeply offensive to me, or conversely that their views are ones I can agree with. I was never interested enough in Wolfe as a person to track down what his beliefs were.

    And conservative used to mean something entirely different from what it does today.

  29. I’m still waiting to find out what happens to Prometheus!

    Spoiler alert: Cebzrgurhf jneaf Mrhf nobhg Gurgvf, juvpu hygvzngryl yrnqf gb n erpbapvyvngvba orgjrra gur gjb qrvgvrf.

  30. 7) Your sign of quality sci-fi: an unrelated bikini pic on the movie poster.

  31. @MixMat: LotR is a separate story, not part 2 of The Hobbit. (A good thing, too; the twee elves of the earlier work wouldn’t play very well in the pomposity of the later.) I find no sense in your comment about Wollheim; care to unpack? Note that Rothfuss and Martin are both in the middle of stories with clear arcs and endpoints; this is not true of many of your examples. While it’s true that (as Gaiman has put it) “…Martin is not [our] b***h”, there is some … anticipation … that the story will all be told.

    @Rob Thornton: “most important” != “greatest”; the former can also include influence on the field.

    @Kyra: finally some hard data! Although I’ll note that there are widely-varying circumstances:
    * Hodgell IIUC had a career to take care of.
    * Marks may have had to focus more on both job/career and her spouse’s health; from this distance I don’t remember how the dates line up.
    * Vance produced a trilogy and a tetralogy in the interim — and ISTM (from 40-years-past recollection) that the Demon Princes have only slightly more arc than Dumarest; IIRC the revenger is the only continuing character. (And his first non-DP book was from a different publisher; I wonder whether #3 just didn’t sell and he got dropped.)
    As far as we’ve heard, none of these apply to either Martin or Rothfuss. (Marginal exception: Martin’s career as a TV ~producer probably slowed his prose fiction, cf Hodgell.)

  32. @Rose Embolism: I was wondering about that, but have zero interest in seeing whether Martian women actually wear bikinis in the movie.

    Taking SF extremely seriously: the LRB’s free-from-archives series has a “review” of Time Travel: The Popular Philosophy of Narrative. It ends up going too far down philosophical rabbit holes for me to finish, but the reviewer sounds like he knows genre without making Clutean everything-must-mean-something assumptions.

  33. @Kyra
    We may see “Door into Starlight” (D Duane) in the next few years, FSM willing. The last one to appear was “Door into Sunset”, in 1992.

  34. @ Chip Hitchcock

    @Rob Thornton: “most important” != “greatest” the former can also include influence on the field.

    Oh of course. Determining “who is best” is not a hill that that I will metaphorically die on, but I will admit that Wolfe is probably my topmost SF/F writer (possibly tied with Le Guin).

  35. @Kyra & Prometheus: Was that a reference to the Adkins books, or were such goings-on from earlier works?

    I’m sort of waiting for The Universal Pantograph, but I think Panshin is retired from writing now.

  36. Rob Thornton says Oh of course. Determining “who is best” is not a hill that that I will metaphorically die on, but I will admit that Wolfe is probably my topmost SF/F writer (possibly tied with Le Guin).

    Le Guin would be my clear choice as best American genre writer.

  37. @Nancy Sauer Exactly. As far as I’ve ever been able to tell, this was Lewis’s default reaction to anyone he considered ‘fallen’. He was never angry at them and generally tried to show it as a tragedy. It’s actually one of the saving graces of his religious writings. People create their own hells, and they have the power to get out of their own hell at any time, and yet so few of them (in his eyes) do manage to get out.

  38. 7) The artwork they have for the theatrical release poster on Wikipedia has the same bikini clad women, but in a different location and with different astronaut artwork.

    The movie is available on YouTube. I didn’t get very far, but as far as I can tell, the benefit of having spaceflights leaving from Florida is that Florida has lots of beaches and beaches mean the wives of astronauts may, at times, wear bikinis. So maybe one woman (Heather Hewitt who plays Darren McGavin’s wife) in a bikini frolicking on a beach in the first ten minutes is somehow worth putting on the poster.

    Mars Needs Pixel Scrolls

  39. John Hertz repsonds by carrier pigeon:

    @CHip

    Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra is indeed wonderful. Here she is in Act IV.

    When I was foolish, I did what I liked, except when Ftatateeta beat me; and even then I cheated her and did it by stealth. Now that Caesar has made me wise, it is no use my liking or disliking; I do what must be done, and have no time to attend to myself.

    Alas, I wonder if anybody has read Glory Road. When I said it was a feminist tract – and a superb one – people stared.

  40. (12) A lot of folks on Twitter have complained about Zicree’s marketing, which seems to involve scraping SFWA contact information and spamming the membership.

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