Pixel Scroll 7/20

Eight stories, two videos, some smack and a snack in today’s Scroll.

(1) What does John King Tarpinian eat each year to commemorate the July 20th anniversary of the first Moon landing?


And if anybody asks John “Where were you that day?” he has a good story to tell them.

I was just 15 and my father took a buddy, Mike, and me to Zuma Beach and he returned home.  My parents and Mike’s parents were so engrossed in the landing they forgot about us.  This was in the olden days with no cell phone and the pay phone was broken so we could not call them to remind them about us kids.

There was a group of people with a 9” B&W TV watching the landing on the beach so we joined them.  The battery eventually drained so I took it upon myself to lift up the locked hinged viewing door of a lifeguard station to get at the electrical outlet so we could plug-in the TV and watch Neil and Buzz.

In John’s honor, here’s a Bradbury bonus:

(2) Vox Day did a little housekeeping on his blog to address a chronic problem in a clear, direct and motivating way:

For the love of all that bleeps and bloops, stop whining about spell-checker mistakes and autocorrect errors in your comments already! It’s considerably more annoying for the rest of us to read the inevitable follow-up post explaining that of course you know how to spell whatever word you just misspelled, it’s just that whatever device or software you are using introduced the error without you noticing it before hitting the blue button, than it is to simply skim past the misspelled word itself.

Drawing everyone’s attention to your claim that you really know how to spell a word that you observably didn’t know how to spell correctly is simple pride and vanity, and worse, it’s completely misplaced vanity.

Here’s why. It doesn’t make you look any less stupid to be knowingly using a device that regularly introduces errors than it does to make the occasional spelling error or typo in the first place. In fact, it makes you look at least twice as stupid, because first, either you don’t know how to turn autocorrect off or you actually rely on it. And second, given how often these errors are introduced, you are probably making more spelling mistakes due to using it than you would if you simply relied on your own spelling capabilities.

If you use a spellchecker, that’s fine, but then own it. If it screws up, it’s on you. Deal with it already and stop talking about the stupid things. To quote the VFM, WE DON’T CARE.

I see little of this at File 770 since I installed the editing option, so don’t take it as an oblique message. I just enjoyed the rant.

(3) Check out Joe Phillips’ posters recasting Old Hollywood stars in modern superhero movies.


If you’re curious to see what Marilyn Monroe would look like as Power Girl, or Humphrey Bogart as Hellboy, wonder no more! Joe Phillips’ Silver Screen Heroes series has brought this vision of a better world to life. Phillips not only has a good eye for likenesses, but also a good eye for casting. Clark Gable as Tony Stark is an especially inspired choice!

(4) George R.R. Martin’s plea on Not A Blog for fans to vote in the Hugos was picked up as a news item in the Guardian.

George RR Martin is urging “every true fan” of science fiction to vote in the Hugo awards before the ballot closes at the end of July, for what the Game of Thrones author said was “proving to be the most controversial and hotly contested Hugo race in the award’s long history”.

Larry Correia endorsed the voter participation message and gave it a signal boost:

For once I agree with GRRM. Everybody should vote. The deadline is coming up fast.


Since we wrote a novella worth of giant blog posts back and forth, GRRM knows damned good and well the Sad Puppies campaign wasn’t motivated by racism or sexism, but that doesn’t stop him from casually tossing the “neo-nazi” accusation out there… but you should believe him when he says there was like totally never any political bias in the system.

(5) Dr. Kjell Lindgren, Sasquan’s Special Guest, is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this Wednesday, July 22. Glenn Glazer reports NASA will be covering the launch on television. It will be at 5:02 EST.

Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:02 p.m. EDT (3:02 a.m. Thursday, July 23 in Baikonur). NASA TV coverage will begin at 4 p.m.

The trio will ride to space in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which will rendezvous with the space station and dock after four orbits of Earth. Docking to the space station’s Rassvet module will take place at 10:46 p.m. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 10 p.m.

The crew will open the hatches between the Soyuz and the station around 12:25 a.m. Thursday, July 23. Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos, as well as Flight Engineers Scott Kelly of NASA and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos, will greet Lindgren, Kononenko and Yui. NASA TV hatch opening coverage begins at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Lindgren, Kononenko and Yui will remain aboard the station until late December. Kelly and Kornienko, who have been aboard since March 27, will return to Earth in March 2016 at the end of their one-year mission. Padalka, who also has been aboard since March 27, will return to Earth in September, leaving Kelly in command of Expedition 45.

(6) On the SFWA Blog, Lynne M. Thomas, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University, discusses the importance of archiving. She is responsible for collections that include the literary papers of over 70 sf and fantasy authors as well as SFWA’s official archives.

(7) Adam-Troy Castro’s “That Sledge-Hammer was Always Meant To Hit There: A Hugo Theory” reacts to Michael Z. Williamson’s announcement that he is voting No Award in all the Hugo categories.

So far I’ve only seen the rant from {Moronic Massacre-Mocker}, who is being given a time-out from Facebook for hate speech.

But if we permit consideration of the possibility that it has become a meme, it represents a serious shift in strategy and a complete rebranding of the desired goal.

We wanted the ship to sink. We always wanted to make a point about icebergs.

We wanted our village to be sacked. It proves our moral superiority to the huns.

Yes, I just slammed myself in the balls with a sledgehammer. I meant to do that.

Maybe they know how many supporting memberships they paid for and how many they did not. Maybe they’ve convened in panic and discussed how to still pull a nominal victory out of all this. Maybe they’ve said, “We have to sell the premise that if we go down in flames, it’s what we always intended.”

Maybe they’re terrified.

This is just a conspiracy theory, mind you. It might or might not have any validity. But the shift from, “VOTING NO AWARD IS A TERRIBLE THING TO DO!” to “WE ARE NOW VOTING NO AWARD EVEN IN OUR OWN CATEGORIES!” does give me pause….

(8) Michael Z. Williamson’s FB timeout, referenced by Castro, presumably was triggered by the grotesque “joke” MZW posted after the Charleston church shootings.

Although MZW is temporarily banned from posting to one account he is rolling along posting his usual fare as “EH Michael Williamson”.


[Thanks to Craig Miller, Glenn Glazer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories.]

219 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/20

  1. Hope this gets in under the wire:

    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    I haven’t read either, but I’ve seen the movies, and I much prefer George Pal’s WotW

    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    I’ve read Childhood’s End, but only the once; it didn’t even grab me as well as Imperial Earth. Whereas I haven’t read Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus, but I have read a lot about it. Also, it had a great movie.

    Iain M. Banks: Use of Weapons
    Banks! Always, and forever, Banks!

    Robert Heinlein: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    For all the reasons it was proposed as a replacement. Also, though I liked the first two-thirds of SiaSL, it’s getting as dated as Brave New World, as though Mad Men had spaceships and flying cars.

    Joanna Russ: The Female Man
    Because Russ doesn’t get enough love these days. Also, LeGuin doesn’t need this bracket, since she’s bound to get a Nobel one of these days.

    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    I’ve re-read Neuromancer a couple of times, and rebought it after my library disaster, but I never reread or rebought tHT.

    Samuel R Delany: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
    A substitution because I’m considering giving this a reread, because I started thinking about it in the context of he/she pronouns.

    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    Because it’s Lord of Light.

  2. I am declaring voting on this round of the bracket closed. NelC gets in the last vote! Results will be posted shortly.

    The differentials between the votes were much greater than they were in the previous round, at least in part because far more votes were cast. A typical bracket in Round 1 had around 20 votes. Brackets in this round often had well over twice that, and the difference between the scores tended to grow in consequence.

    The next round will be a seeded round. Because previous rounds have not been seeded, this might (or might not), result in a couple of lopsided contests for one round, but the ultimate result should be that the works with the strongest support will be the ones battling it out in the final two rounds.

  3. WINNER: H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds – 31 baskets
    Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 – 21 baskets
    Wells opened up a huge lead early on, but quiet, steady support for Bradbury brought Fahrenheit 451 close to catching up several times – but never quite enough to tie or pass. The Golden Age masterpiece put up one of the fiercest fights of this Round on the strength of its themes, but ultimately could not best the “grand-daddy of the alien invasion story”.

    WINNER: Mary Shelley: Frankenstein – 40 baskets
    Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End – 9 baskets
    Frankenstein continues its domination of the court, handily besting Clarke’s classic. Although Clarke definitely had supporters, this wasn’t a close contest. Frankenstein will be the first seeded candidate next round.

    WINNER: James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories) – 32 baskets
    Iain M. Banks: Use of Weapons – 13 baskets
    Banks fared better than Clarke, but that only means that Tiptree was kept below a 20 point lead. Tiptree had a closer contest last round against 1984, but has clearly been established this round as one to watch. I will note, however, that Excession and Player of Games each received a couple of votes, so “Banks vs. Tiptree” might have been slightly closer than it appears. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever will be the fourth seeded candidate next round.

    WINNER: Frank Herbert: Dune – 36 baskets
    Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire – 11 baskets
    Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land – 6 baskets
    Robert Heinlein: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – 6 baskets
    Even if the votes for Heinlein were combined, even if they were further combined with Asimov, Dune is the clear winner here; splitting the vote was not the issue. Nonetheless, both Asimov and Heinlein got much love from their voters, including the biggest write-in campaign so far for one of Heinlein’s works. But while Dune has its detractors, as it did last round when it went against Ellison, here it’s clearly pulled away from the pack. Dune will be the third seeded candidate next round.

  4. WINNER: Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness – 34 baskets
    Joanna Russ: The Female Man – 4 baskets
    This lopsided contest is probably best seen as testimony to the strength of the Le Guin rather than any particular weakness in the Russ; in fact, many people mentioned that this one was close or difficult. But however close or difficult it was, almost everyone eventually ended up on the side of the Le Guin, and it continues its powerful mastery of the bracket court. Le Guin will be the second seeded candidate next round.

    WINNER: William Gibson: Neuromancer – 28 baskets
    Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale – 19 baskets
    A close contest until the end, when Neuromancer pulled ahead with a convincing lead, albeit the smallest lead of this round. Both books had some strong supporters, but it remains to be seen whether that support is broad enough for Neuromance to go the distance. One voter suggested that there were other works not even on the bracket that might be stronger than either …

    WINNER: C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station – 23 baskets
    Samuel Delany: Dhalgren – 10 baskets
    This bracket started close, but ended with a convincing lead for Downbelow Station as Cherryh slowly but steadily pulled ahead; the million-selling puzzle-box Dhalgren will advance no further. Other books were suggested as better representatives for each author, but none enough to have wide support.

    WINNER: Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light – 32 baskets
    Aldous Huxley: Brave New World – 12 baskets
    Huxley actually started by opening up a lead, but wasn’t able to maintain it or even keep close. Although it just missed being seeded, the popularity of the Zelazny cannot be underestimated, and more than one person has mused that it could be one of the ones that make it to the final round …

    I will start putting together the bracket pairs for Round 3.

  5. Correction — because of NelC’s vote, which I had incorporated into the vote scores but not the seeding statistics, Lord of Light will be the fourth seeded candidate next round instead of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. (Obviously, they were pretty close to each other, there.)

  6. Hmm … No general purpose post up for the 21st yet … should I simply post the Round 3 bracket here?

  7. Kyra, the general purpose posts usually go up about an hour from now, give or take a bit. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed. So if you’re willing to hold off a bit, there’ll probably be a place to put it…..

  8. And it only now occurs to me, because Kyra capitalized “Bracket” in a recent comment, that it’s a real shame that Leigh Brackett wasn’t in the bracket.

  9. Brackett Bracket:

    1. Bradbury. Sorry, H.G.
    2. Ouch. Gotta go with Shelley.
    4. Heinlein. Never liked Dune, Foundation was okay, Stranger opened my eyes.
    6. Gibson by a whiff of burning chrome.

    Abstaining from the other bouts.

  10. @Bruce: “I admit that people as prone to violent language as Williamson scare me. Most of them won’t actually act on it, but some will, and I like not being around people who make me think “And will you be the one?””

    In person, MZW’s the class clown with absolutely no boundaries. To him, everything is a joke and sensibilities or triggers are signs that you just lack a sense of humor. A lot of his un-PC gags depend greatly on the delivery – which means that online, where that element is wholly absent, they utterly flop. He does not appear to grasp that… or, alternately, he simply doesn’t care. Those who know him probably give his comments more leeway because they read his personality and delivery into them.

    This isn’t intended as an apologetic, merely the perception of someone who’s met and spoken with him more than once.

  11. Rev. Bob: Yeah, I’m aware of the role, it’s just that I’ve seen far too many case of people growing up or down into language they originally put on as a joke.

  12. And I’ve watched people take courage and example from witnessing other people saying horrible things. “See, HE agrees with me! I’m obviously right, because I’m in the majority! After all, you don’t see anybody important objecting….”

  13. Shorter @Brian Z:
    “I am so very CONCERNED about the state of the Hugo nominations”

    It’s nice to see someone who cares so very much. Perhaps you should put together a listserve

  14. @Mark

    Admittedly, short story is the place to focus if you want to justify pessimism about keeping slates from dominating the ballot in 2016. Best Short Story in particular may well be a lost cause, though we’ll be in a better position to assess that after this year’s Hugos are awarded and the nomination data is released.

    That said, I think it’s worth unpacking your ” Assuming the same distribution from non-slate voters (including assuming that they nominate in that category)…” and thinking about possible reasons the assumptions therein might not hold.

    – based on all the people pledging to read more short fiction in order to be able to nominate in the short fiction categories next year, it seems very likely the dropoff in vote numbers from the novel category to the shorter fiction categories will be much reduced, perhaps nearly entirely eliminated

    – new voters in the short fiction categories presumably won’t be exactly like past voters and may not distribute their votes as diffusely, because as a group they have more populist tastes than the super-readers of yore, because despite their best efforts they may fail to read as widely as the super-readers and will more strongly tend to nominate stories that appear in more prominent outlets, because there may well be a lot more online discussion of what is worth reading/nominating than there ever has been in the past and the circumstances may encourage people, consciously or not, to give their votes to stories that online discussion indicates have large constituencies rather than to stories they personally love but realise aren’t widely popular,, because… I’m out of guesses for the moment but in many ways we’ll be in terra incognito so assuming the future will resemble the past can hardly be expected to work as well as it usually has.

    Not, as far as I can see, that anyone is giving in to despair and saying they won’t even bother participating in the nomination phase of the 2016 Hugos since the final ballot is bound to be puppy-dominated no matter what fandom collectively does.

  15. @Jon

    Interestingly, while Novel has high support for the top nominee, it quickly gets more diffuse. The volume of voters helps it in general, of course.

    You are quite correct about my assumptions, which is why I was careful to state them. On the point of distribution of New voters, you could also speculate that they might be less diverse in short fiction, and focus on works from novelists they recognise, such as Scalzi (who has 4 eligible novellas making up The End Of all Things). As you say, speculation may be much easier after more stats are released.

    I think everything needs to be done: encourage new voters, talk about short fiction to improve participation, try to show why slating is wrong, and get EPH passed.

  16. There’s also the fact that BT showed up here to tepidly defend Wisdom …

    Where did Torgersen defend Wisdom from My Internet, one of the worst Hugo nominees of all time? I’d like to read that. History will want to know what Torgersen said to defend his selection of that pile of rancid tripe for SF’s most prestigious award.

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