Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

(1) OH, PUH-LEEZE. Hoping to prove his superiority to his critics, Simon Pegg resorts to the Quantum Defense as he justifies a gay Sulu, in “A Word About Canon”

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear…..

Wouldn’t he have done better to skip that part and go right to his closing argument?

…I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality.

(2) BIG BOOK LANDS TOMORROW. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction will be released July 12, 750,000 words and 1,216 pages.

(3) THE PACE OF FEAR. At the Horror Writers Association blog, Mac Childs begins his series “And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I” with this advice —

Whether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares to implant in the fertile minds of your young readers.

First, you’ve got to figure out the best times for your horrors to strike. For this, you need to keep two axes (plural of axis, not axe) in mind: the external, physical timeline of pages experienced by the reader between scares, and the in-story time passage experienced by the characters. While it’s great when these two lines meet and overlap (e.g. during a tense scene when the protagonist experiences time in slow motion, with a reader savoring the moment), too much intersection becomes narratively unsustainable easily, or for some audiences unfeasible, because of the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

(4) IT COULD BE VERSE. Bertie MacAvoy discusses ”Poetry and Song”.

I don’t think that, prior to the wide use of the printing press, there was any distinction between poetry and song. It was only when a person could buy an edition of someone’s poems, and read them – not knowing at all how the writer had meant them to sound aloud – that a branch of poetry that consisted of interesting mind pictures could exist.

And that explains my preference over the poetry of Yeats to that of Eliot….

(5) ERRATA. Lee Gold sent me a link to Jack Bennett’s poem “Ben Ali the Egyptian” which appeared in 1893 in St. Nicholas Magazine, having just learned the authorship was misattributed to Randall Garrett in the collection Takeoff Too, which was assembled when his medical condition did not allow him to be consulted. I see the Internet Science Fiction Database already captured that information. Though as long as I had the link I took a look at the poem and now I understand its fannish appeal.

(6) DEFINING ACTIVISM. John Scalzi answers another writer’s question in “Activism, and Whether I Do It”.

My answer to her was no, I don’t really consider myself an activist. The reason I gave her was pretty straightforward: I’m too lazy. Which is to say that while I have my beliefs and principles and largely follow them (sometimes imperfectly), and will happily tell others what those beliefs and principles are, the sort of committed action that to me defines activism — and the continued proselytization for a belief that activism often requires, including the desire to inspire others to take moral action — is not something I usually undertake.

There are other reasons for this besides laziness, including work and the desire to have other interests in my life, but laziness really is a large part of it. Activism is work. I’m glad other people do it, and admire their effort. But it’s not something I put much effort in.

But you write here all the time on political and social topics! Yes I do. But this is not a blog for activism, it’s a blog for whatever I feel like writing — or, when I’m writing a book as I am now, what I have time for writing. The blog is like me; all over the place and a bit pixelated….

Good Lord, it’s contagious!

(7) GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA PEOPLES. National Geographic reports on the unique discovery of a Philistine cemetery at the site of ancient Ashkelon in Israel.

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

(8) LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR POLISH WRITER. Piotrek celebrates “Andrzej Sapkowski with World Fantasy Award” at Re-enchantment of the World.

Andrzej Sapkowski is a big guy in Polish fantasy. The big one. Was big long before The Witcher games. Well, some young people might disagree. There are some more popular authors now. But he is… GRRM of our fantasy? Terrible movie/tv series adaptation of Witcher being as good Game of Thrones as our tv is capable of delivering … At a first glance a bit of Tolkien in him as well, adapting folklore for his stories. But if you read it – definitely a post-tolkienite.


  • July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith

(10) OH YES JOHN RINGO. Ringo told his Facebook followers —

It got announced at closing ceremonies that I’m to be the LibertyCon guest of Honor for LibertyCon 30. (I was in a meeting at the time so couldn’t make it to closing) They are calling it XXX. I hope there is no connection implied.

Here is the link to LibertyCon.

(11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT. Jeb Kinnison has a gallery of photos to go with his account of attending his first LibertyCon.

…One obvious difference at LibertyCon — it’s a Red Tribe con, meaning most attendees are in the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US away from the coastal urban enclaves. Since I grew up with those people and understand them well, I’m not frightened by guns, blades, military uniforms, seared meat, or the occasional less-than-sensitive remark….

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC, DONUT EDITION. Scott Edelman found it was easy to get more than a dozen authors at Readercon to participate in his podcast, with an assist from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I planted myself in the lobby (as captured in the photo below by Ellen Kushner), where I offered free donuts to the first 12 random passersby willing to give brief interviews about their favorite Readercon memories.

I had no idea who might wander over, but knew that something entertaining would surely come out of this sugary experiment. And it did! I ended up with 15 guests digging into those 12 donuts—the differential being because there were three who eschewed—in a “lightning round” 13th episode I’ve decided to call the Readercon Donut Spectacular. Surprise visitors included Greer Gilman, Maria Dahvana Headley, Rajan Khanna, plus a dozen more.

Guests—some of whom had attended nearly every Readercon, and some for whom this was their first—shared their peak Readercon moments, many of which revolved around Samuel R. Delany.


(13) BUSIEK PRAISED. At Black Gate, Nick Ozment pays tribute to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Also Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, and a tangent on Modernism”.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of my favorite superhero comics. It consistently delivers brilliant, funny, poignant, human stories in a colorful, wonderfully idiosyncratic comic-book world. It is Busiek’s magnum opus — like Bendis’s Powers, it towers above his other work for the big publishers using their branded characters. He brings the sensibilities he honed in the groundbreaking Marvel miniseries Marvels to his own universe and, beneath all the ZAP! BANG! POW!, weaves tales you will never forget.

What Marvels did that was so fresh in 1994 is it “lowered the camera” from the god-like supers knocking each other through buildings and focused in on the ordinary humans down here at street level, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching it happen. What impact did the existence of such powers have on their day-to-day lives?

(14) TOIL, TEARS, AND SWEAT NOT ON OFFER. “Finally, you can buy Richard Garriott’s blood” reports Ars Technica.

Richard Garriott selling vials of his blood for thousands of dollars is one of those stunts.

Yes, Lord British himself, the 55-year-old creator of the Ultima series and noted space tourist, is auctioning off samples of his actual blood to raise money for his new fantasy RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The six reliquaries—which we’ll note again are full of Richard Garriott’s actual blood—are being marketed as limited-run art pieces, “made of bakelite, copper, nails, glass, and mirrored glass that can be hung on your wall.”

…Bidding for the vials starts at $5,000.

The items originally were offered on eBay, then were removed, speculates Ars Technica “ quite possibly because it’s a violation of eBay’s policy against selling human remains and body parts.”

The listings have been moved to Shroud of the Avatar‘s own Make a Difference store, where two reliquaries have already sold for $6,000 and $8,000 each, and another is still available for $11,000.

(15) ACCEPTING FOR. While researching the Geffen Award, I came across these humorous tweets from a 2015 accepter –



(16) MAGIC MAKEOVER. The Sun interviewed a family that’s redone its dining room Harry Potter-style. (I was charmed all to heck by the replica of Dobby, looking like a mummy that’s seen better days…)

Charlotte, 31, her husband Andrew, 39, and kids Eleni, three, Max, four and Kiri, six, are all massive fans of the magical movies.

After visiting Warner Bros. Studios: The Making of Harry Potter, the family decided to splash out on some renovations to their home.

It wasn’t a quick turnaround though – the family spent 18 months perfecting the room, which now boasts a sorting hat, props from the films, wooden panelling and a large table…..

“We have a lot of replica props and two original props from the films.

“We have one of the letters thrown through the fire place which we bought from a dealer, which cost us about £200.

“We also have a witch in a jar which was from Professor Lupin’s office in the third film. That cost £350.”

One of the most exciting items are the ‘moving pictures’ – which show the kids riding broomsticks and were cunningly created using an iPad.

In all, the Harry Potter dining room has cost the family a whopping £13,004.72.

(17) TOY DEPARTMENT. On sale soon, Game of Thrones stuffed direwolves:

With this year’s Comic-Con right around the corner, details are spilling out as to what goodies you’ll find down in San Diego this year. Factory Entertainment has just revealed some of their OMG products for this year’s line-up, and our favorite product is by far the collection of direvolves. ALL SIX OF THEM! FOR ALL SIX STARK CHILDREN!

The Stark direwolves come in three sets, priced depending on how many direwolves you’re getting for your dollar. The first set is $30, and includes Shaggydog, Summer, and Lady. Set two is $40 and now includes GHOST! The last set, and the best set, has all six dogs for a steal at $55. You’ll get Rickon’s Shaggydog, Bran’s Summer, Sansa’s Lady, and now also Arya’s Nymeria, Robb’s Grey Wind, and of course, Jon’s Ghost.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Cat Eldridge, and DMS for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.] 

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

125 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

  1. Hampus,

    You may not know that there are three different definitions of “barbeque” in the United States:

    1) To cook something on the grill (the most common definition)
    2) To smoke and cook meat using the “low-and-slow” technique
    3) To cook something with barbeque sauce

    The second definition is often linked to the Southern states (especially Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) as well as Kansas City. Each state has its own approach to making barbeque, which is obviously superior to all the other states.

    (I am a Marylander but I prefer Texas barbeque myself.)

  2. Thank you for the explanation, Rob!

    My father was together with an american woman for a while (from Seattle). What I remember was that she was very paranoid about food safety and wanted the meat grilled right through, not a hint of red. Was kind of depressing for a while. :/

  3. @Rob Thornton


    One of the accusations leveled at Trump early on by US foodies was that he preferred his steak cooked well-done. This led to articles like this from the Washington Post (“The most depressing thing about how Donald Trump orders his steak”):


    Now I think Trump is a horrible person, but he’s not a horrible person because of his food preparation preferences. And this article is beyond condescending, e.g. it insinuates that people who prefer their meat well done are older, poorer and lower educated.

    Maybe people like their meat well done, because that’s just how they like it. Maybe this flavour killing thing is a feature, not a bug, for them, because they don’t like the taste of meat. Maybe they are worried about food safety (not without reasons – the US was slower to adopt trichinosis inspections than other western countries). Maybe they have digestion issues and can digest meat better, when it’s cooked all the way through (this is my reason for eating meat very very well done, because that’s the only way my body can handle it).

    At any rate, it is no moral failing to prefer meat well done any more than it is a moral failing to like it half-raw. After all, no one is calling people vampires for prefering their steak bloody, so why does this article call them stupid for prefering meat well done.

  4. 11) I’d always wanted an easy shorthand to describe how I feel about LibertyCon as it has evolved over time, and “Red Tribe con” is perfect. It’s full of people who see science fiction as being the antithesis of what it’s always meant to me.

    @ Steve Davidson: I can tell you why there’s a membership cap, because I was living in the area and heavily involved with its fannish community at the time. This was when Chattacon was routinely running between 1,000 and 2,000 people, and Uncle Timmy thought that was too many people, and that it was getting unruly. He wanted a smaller, more intimate atmosphere like a lot of the other regional cons of the era, which ran more in the 500-1,000 range. So he set out to build one for himself. I suspect the tribalism aspect came along later — back then, the political divisions between fannish groups had not yet been strongly articulated.

  5. Cora,

    I will never deny that there is a serious classist twist to that article. I was simply trying to note that not every American likes their meat well-done. However, there is an aesthetic element as well to this issue. There are restaurant chefs who refuse to cook steaks to well-done because they say it ruins the meat. Here’s an explanation from Uproxx:


  6. As for Sulu being gay: Doesn’t the movie have something else to offer, like a plot?

    Oh, you sweet summer child.
    (Translation for the LibertyCon folks: Bless your heart.)

  7. Lee said:

    He wanted a smaller, more intimate atmosphere like a lot of the other regional cons of the era, which ran more in the 500-1,000 range. So he set out to build one for himself.

    And there are still people looking for that– I’ve seen illogiCon described by one of its founders as, “We wanted to create something like LibertyCon but without the politics.”

  8. @4: I don’t have enough historical knowledge for certainty, but I very much doubt MacAvoy has it right. I know there are musical manuscripts (from chant to “Sumer Is I-cumen In”) from well before the first printed books, so the lack of musical notation in (e.g.) The Canterbury Tales or Le Morte D’Arthur suggests that there was a difference between poetry and song before any printing, let alone the printing of poetry. My recollection of my last lit classes (45+ years ago) is that there was poetry of mental pictures long before the authors she cites; whether a poet-in-excess was didactic or just overblown seems to me to have been more of a personal bent.

    @Chris S: why start a war between styles of two regions applied to different meats? Vinegar goes on Carolina “pulled pork [shoulder]”; sweet or hot sauce goes on whole meats (beef brisket, pork ribs), if desired. And you left out mustard for sausage. (The local prize, Redbones, has several homemade varieties in rotation.) None of them involve dried-out meat if the cook is competent.

    @Hampus: that’s uncommon for a USAian, but not unknown. The late Ross Pavlac (1982 Worldcon chair) liked well-done; so did my sister’s godparents, but they’d gotten the habit while in South America (which IIRC did not then meet the US standards for meat, but served a lot of it).

    @Cora: trichinosis was never an issue for beef, which was the subject.

  9. Rob Thornton on July 12, 2016 at 4:33 pm said:

    Each state has its own approach to making barbeque, which is obviously superior to all the other states.

    On the west coast, the most popular style is: the style from my home state (or country)! The rare natives simply revel in having such a wide variety of things called BBQ! 🙂

  10. Re BBQ — if your BBQ meat is dry and chewy, it’s been cooked wrong. Falling-off-the-bone tender is the goal, and the sauce of your choice is just a condiment. (My personal preference is sweet/hot, and that’s hard to find done well at any commercial establishment; my partner makes a version to die for.)

  11. I will out myself as an American who likes well-done steak, although my definition of “well-done” is “fully cooked” not “dried out and has no flavor left”.

  12. Re: BBQ. The word is spelled barbecue, however weird that looks. I spelled it wrong in a spelling bee when I was about 10 and I have never forgotten it.

  13. @ RDF: The difference between “Red Tribe” cons and “Blue Tribe” cons, as far as I can see, is that people who report back from the latter don’t spend good chunks of their reports bitching about how dreadful they imagine the other Tribe is…

    *snerk* Very true. It often seems as though the Puppies define themselves only in relation to those they view as SJWs — almost as if, without that fantasy to hurl themselves against while barking hysterically, they have no existence or meaning at all. They have made us the center of their own universe, and they don’t even notice having done so.

  14. @Lee They have made us the center of their own universe, and they don’t even notice having done so.

    When I was growing up I wanted to be Ruler of the Universe. At least someone is making me (ok us) the center of the universe. A step on my way to total control. Evil plan started in 4th grade is slowly coming to fruition. cackles evilly Soon I will rule everyone… Shh it’s a secret so don’t tell anyone. @_@ bwahaha

  15. @IanP: I did say “less” likely. Perhaps it’s something to do with distance from coast vs. overall size of country… I’m an ideas woman. 😉

    @rob_matic: You know how this works, silly; if you’re a Red Blooded ‘Murcn Man, the things you say are automatically true and not offensive! If you’re a woman from the coasts, you’re WRONG and butthurt will be taken.

    @HRJ: Neato.

  16. @ RDF:

    The difference between “Red Tribe” cons and “Blue Tribe” cons, as far as I can see, is that people who report back from the latter don’t spend good chunks of their reports bitching about how dreadful they imagine the other Tribe is.

    Of course not. We have comment sections for that purpose.

  17. @Hampus

    Lutefish BBQ, recipe in swedish:

    I’m sure that should be banned under some sort of Hazmat regulations. Or possibly chemical warfare limitation treaties.

    I do remember watching the Swedish Rally, back when you actually got proper coverage, and the spectators were amusing themselves while waiting for the cars by barbecuing and practicing their axe throwing… Proper two handed axes too.

  18. @James Moar: Make sure you don’t move to England as that’s where my swords are 🙂 (don’t worry, I wouldn’t ever throw them… not the katana anyway. Maybe the wakizashi 😉 )

  19. @Rev Bob.

    I’m always a little suspicious when vague “tax concerns” are tossed out for reorganizing a non-profit. When CVG was considering adding an ombudsman-like position, vague concerns about the tax consequences were raised. One of the people raising them was viewed in some quarters as the concoms most noted trans-phobe, others had gotten some criticism due to some reg and management errors, and so on. The attorneys who do tax law viewed it to be bogus.

  20. The legal entity that the WSFS Mark Protection Committee set up to deal with registering the WSFS service marks outside of the USA (most countries having difficulty dealing with the concept of an “unincorporated association” like WSFS holding title to anything) got its start as a non-profit corporation set up for a slightly different purpose. When it was preparing to wind down its operations, we noticed that striking just a few words from the articles of incorporation (relatively easy to do and much less expensive than starting a new non-profit/tax-exempt/501c3 corporation from scratch) would create an organization that would do what we wanted. So the old corporation did everything for the shut-down except actually dissolve, then elected the members of the WSFS MPC as the new Board of Directors (I was the only director in common between the old and new groups), and we did some relatively tedious but not terribly expensive letter-writing to the California Secretary of State, the California Franchise Tax Board, the California Attorney General, and the US Internal Revenue Service. None of these agencies batted an eye at our name change or slight change of direction.

    Now writing an attendance cap into your articles of incorporation/charter strikes me as an awful idea to begin with, but if it’s there, changing it probably shouldn’t affect one’s tax-exempt status.

    IANAL. I’m only familiar with California’s (and to a lesser extent, Alberta’s) non-profit/public-benefit corporation procedures. Laws and processes vary by state/province/local jurisdiction.

  21. @TYP: “I’m always a little suspicious when vague “tax concerns” are tossed out for reorganizing a non-profit.”

    Notice that I said nothing about the validity of the explanation I was given. It’s irrelevant to me whether the “scary paperwork” thing is or is not true. The board all behaves as if it is, and that’s significant. If it’s a smoke screen, it’s one that at least some of the board members aren’t in on.

    Sincerity differs from fact, and in asking whether someone is deliberately lying, one must account for the possibility that they sincerely believe something whether it’s factually correct or not.

    @Kevin: “writing an attendance cap into your articles of incorporation/charter strikes me as an awful idea to begin with”

    Not if it’s something you see as a core part of your mission. Then hardcoding it there so it’s harder to change makes sense: “no, really, we MEAN it!”

Comments are closed.