Pixel Scroll 7/21/16 Faster, Pixelcat! Scroll! Scroll!

Spent Thursday escorting DUFF delegate Clare McDonald to the Huntington Library and the LASFS meeting, so there needs to be a short Scroll today….Short but charmingly illustrated, thanks to Camestros Felapton.

(1) MENTAL RIVALRY. Kameron Hurley says she has not yet achieved a state of Zen consciousness about her career in “What About Me? Dealing with Professional Jealousy”

Oh, you published a bestselling book that critics thought was crap? Oh you’ve won awards but not sold millions, oh, you sold millions, but didn’t win awards? Oh, you’ve sold well but never got a movie deal. Oh, you’ve sold well and got a movie deal but the movie tanked? Oh, you sold well and got a movie deal and the movie did well but didn’t win Best Picture. Boo-hoo.

You see how your measure of “success” can keep going up and up and up until you’re just never happy, ever. My spouse often shakes his head at me because I move my bar for success all the time. What I have is never enough. For me, this works, because if I was satisfied in my professional life I wouldn’t be inspired to do anything. But for my own sanity I did have to make my own definition of success. I had to create my own career goals so that when I did turn down opportunities or choose to do one project instead of another, I would stop second-guessing myself.

(2) DIFFERENT VIEW OF HOMER. M. Harold Page has an intriguing review at Black Gate: “Was Homer a Historian After All? A Look at The Trojan War: A New History”.

Better yet, modern archaeology has found a much larger Troy — Schliemann only discovered the citadel  — and also uncovered a general collapse consistent with foreign invasion. Finally, recent finds have dissolved away Homer’s apparent anachronisms in military equipment.

So Homer could be true. Not as true as, say, Froissart, but truer than Malory. Think how Saving Private Ryan or The Longest Day treated the Normandy landings, and you have a sense of how accurate we’re talking about.

All that said and done, Strauss settles in to tell us the story as it might/could/probably/should have happened.



(4) FOR PEACE OF MIND. James Davis Nicoll is doing a fundraiser sale at his book review site to help with a recently-deceased fan’s final expenses.

I’ve known Stephanie Clarkson since she was a young teen hanging around my game store. I saw her grow up and find her place as an adult. Recently, she struggled with major health problems. Just as she seemed to have turned the corner on that, she was diagnosed with cancer. Stephanie died on July 19th, 2016.

Patricia Washburn is raising funds for Stephanie’s final expenses. To help her in this, I am running a seventy-two hour sales: commissions are half off ($50 a review) and all funds raised from reviews commissioned between now and 10 AM, July 24rd will be forwarded to Patricia.

Aside from price, the usual terms apply.



  • July 21, 2007 — The seventh and final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released, with an initial print run of 12 million copies in the United States alone.

(7) PAULK ON HUGO NOMINEES. Kate Paulk reached The Big One in her survey: “Hugo Finalist Highlights – Best Novella and Best Novel”. I picked this excerpt because it marks an occasion where I had pretty much the same thoughts about the story, although I thought the author achieved what he set out to do.

The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com) – This offering nearly broke me in the first sentence. Note to authors: you will not go far when you give a character with no discernable Spanish or Portuguese traits the name “Reconquista”. Especially when someone with more than zero historical literacy reads your work. The second-rate knockoff of the Brian Jacques Redwall-style stories does not help the cause.

(8) ANTICIPATION. Doris V. Sutherland predicts the 2016 Hugo winning novella after reviewing all five nominees. She begins with —

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Mankind has spread to the stars and encountered alien races, but not all of humanity is eager to explore space. The Himba of Southern Africa remain a close-knit and traditional people, one that prefers to remain on Earth. Binti, a sixteen-year-old Himba girl, is an exception: when she is granted a scholarship at a university on another planet, she eagerly hops on board a spaceship and begins the journey.

Binti finds herself travelling alongside members of another ethnic group, the Khoush, who mock her Himba adornments: she smears her skin with a mixture of oil and red clay, wears heavy anklets and has her hair elaborately braided….

(9) THESE ARE THE SNORES YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. The Daily Telegraph headline claims “Evil doll’s sleeping secrets unmasked”.

SLEEP-deprived parents are paying triple the price of a best-selling doll which puts babies to sleep using a heartbeat and breathing “like Darth Vader”.

A bidding war pushed the price of one Lulla doll on eBay to $350, while thousands of parents are on a waiting list.

Developed by a group of Icelandic mums, the soft doll plays a recording of a yoga guru in a deep meditative state wired up to a heart monitor.

Despite a shipment arriving last week, Australian distributor Michelle Green predicted she would be sold out of the $99 doll within days. “It’s crazy,” Ms Green said. “I’m packing and they’re going out the door as fast as I can get them.”

“It does sound like Darth Vader but, as I tell mums, most toddlers and babies haven’t seen Star Wars.”


(10) WHEN YOUR CHURCH BECOMES A POKESTOP. In “Popular Mobile App Brings Visitors to Church Facilities”, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints Church News recommends a response to Pokémon Go players who come to its sites:

  1. View any visit as an opportunity.

Recognize that it is good for people to want to visit Church buildings and sites, even if it’s just part of playing a game. Signs in front of our buildings clearly state, “Visitors welcome.” Consider any visit as an opportunity to improve relationships with members of the community and help others feel positively about the Church.

  1. Be friendly and welcoming.

The visit to a meetinghouse may be someone’s first and only contact with the Church, so remember to be friendly and welcoming. Hosts and missionaries serving at visitors’ centers, Church historic sites, temple grounds could welcome and invite game players—as they do all visitors—to enjoy the displays, learn about the site, and perhaps even listen to a simple gospel message….

(11) BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY’VE BEEN. The LA Times knows what you should be eating at the Orange County fair: Nutella, Game of Thrones-inspired hot dogs.

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, Dave Doering, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JohnFromGR.]

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86 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/21/16 Faster, Pixelcat! Scroll! Scroll!

  1. Paul_A:

    1. Hurley’s remarks come across as yet one more person with no confidence trying to convince themselves that they’ve turned a corner.

    Disagree — I think Hurley is extraordinarily honest and brave about the business of writing. She says things I’ve never seen other writers dare to say.

    Rob Thornton:

    Interesting. I am reading Junot Diaz’s story “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” on the New Yorker site. Inside the tale, he namechecks Arrakis, Neuromancer, and (I think) Doomsday Book. SF has arrived, I guess.

    Diaz has always been into sf. Check out his book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is about an sf geek from the Dominican Republic, among other things.

  2. While considering the scope of sea-mammal-related remakes, how can we possibly forget Star Walrus?

  3. how can we possibly forget Star Walrus?

    Or the sequel, Narwhals: The Beluga Strikes Back?

  4. Cassy B asked:

    While considering the scope of sea-mammal-related remakes, how can we possibly forget Star Walrus?

    We were distracted by Starfish Trek?

  5. (I caught part of a Ben Hur trailer the other day when half-watching TV, and said to my husband, “wait, what? Isn’t that Ben Hur? Why would they remake Ben Hur.…?????)

    As surprised as I was to hear about yet another version of Ben-Hur, I was much more astonished to see that they’ve made a film about Florence Foster Jenkins (who I know of thanks to Doctor Demento).


  6. Is it actually true that this year’s nominations include a lot of recurring names? The novel ones do – largely not Mr Day’s fault, though the appearance of Jim Butcher two years in a row clearly has something to do with him. But the other categories do have quite a lot of new names – partly because of the Castalia House phenomenon, but also because Mr Day, in the bits where he didn’t have any special agenda to push, did actually attempt to introduce some variety.

    As to why names do recur – well, yes, writing is a skill that people retain, but I don’t think that can be a complete explanation, since there are more talented writers than people who appear regularly among the Hugo finalists. I think it’s basically that people tend to vote for writers they are fans of: not for any sinister reason, but because they are more likely to read writers they are fans of. You can’t reasonably expect everyone to survey the whole field and find what is ‘objectively’ the best – you need a juried award for that. And the same kind of repetition is found in the more broadly based and popular Goodreads choice awards

  7. 11) The LOTR dog should have taters on it. 🙂
    (Trivia point: Potatoes and tobacco are the only New World plants found in LOTR.)

    @ Hampus: Swedish Church policy on Pokemon seems to be that it is ok to catch Pokemon in the church yard, but there is sanctuary inside the church, even for Pokemon.

    That seems both consistent and fitting. I like the idea of reinforcing the concept of Sanctuary, and this is something that really gets the point across.

    @ Paul A: I’m nearly done with Hurley’s Geek Feminist Revolution, and it’s very clear in that book that she constantly struggles with Impostor Syndrome. So you may be right.

    Re The Magnificent Seven: If they did a reboot of that with an all-female cast, I might actually be curious enough to go see it!

  8. @lee. Also the tomato is a New World plant in the LOTR verse.

  9. John Lorentz: I was much more astonished to see that they’ve made a film about Florence Foster Jenkins (who I know of thanks to Doctor Demento).

    Thanks for that link. You cleared up some serious confusion on my part. I’ve been seeing billboards around town for the Meryl Streep movie and obviously confused the title character’s name with that of a famous woman athlete of the 1980s, who could not reasonably be played by Meryl Streep.

  10. Sea-mammal-related remakes: I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned The Seventh Seal.

  11. @Cheryl

    Why is nobody protesting the upcoming remakes of Ben Hur and The Magnificent Seven? Is it just because they don’t have girl cooties?

    I’m sure they could generate a massive amount of drama quickly if they turned the movie into The Magnificent Seveneves

  12. @Cassy B

    While considering the scope of sea-mammal-related remakes, how can we possibly forget Star Walrus?

    Or the S.R. Algernon-penned script to Starfish Troopers.

  13. I’d be more interested if they remade the source material for The Magnificent Seven, although Shichinin no Onna-Bugeisha doesn’t have an amazing ring to it.

  14. @ Cally – Oh lord, no, if they listen to the podcast they’ll discover how much I censor myself online and that I am perhaps not as good a person as I pretend to be!

    …ok, the Reaper episode is pretty funny. I warn you though, it’s basically a culinary snuff film soundtrack, so if other people’s pain makes you uncomfortable, PLEASE give this one a pass. Kevin has a real thing about spicy food and eats these things deliberately, but those Reapers were unholy. I gave them all to the guy that makes Cackalacky sauce for his special anniversary sauce, because you couldn’t cook with them. They didn’t even have flavor, they just had pain. Growing them is weird. I am better at growing peppers than nearly anything else, and I’m proud of how potent they are, but I didn’t get into gardening to make chemical weapons.

    We had to get out the Tecnu to get the Reaper oils off Kevin’s face. He was dying.

    As for Sea Mammal SF, I think “The Manatee from UNCLE” has a lot to recommend it.

  15. Today’s read — The Child Eater, by Rachel Pollack

    Fantasy — in the past and the present, people contend with an immortal evil whose name has been forgotten. This is told in Pollack’s almost fairytale-like prose, which I always find enjoyable. The characters are (often significantly) flawed, but I never stopped caring about the story because of it. Readers who are extremely familiar with the meaning of Tarot (which I am not) might find another layer to enjoy here, but understanding or appreciating the story doesn’t require this. A minor pet peeve is that this story comes too close to my liking to an “everything was destined” plot, but it does avoid it to a decent degree by making a key moment about a choice a main character makes. It doesn’t reach the heights of Pollack’s greatest works, but I nonetheless found it a perfectly good read.

  16. Oddly I can’t think of any SF sea-mammal titles – I guess I’m too busy listening to this recording of Wagner’s opera about cute critters blocking a river with ladders:

  17. @Camestros Felapton:

    *wild applause*

    @Soon Lee:

    Thanks, it was actually pretty simple. The most difficult part was when I had to breathe rapidly for three minutes. Now comes The Waiting Game, which is a remarkably stressful game considering the rules are “be patient and see the neurologist in a month”.

    ObSF: 200 pages in to Seveneves and I dislike all the characters. That’s impressive in a way. The dialogue is really awkward, too; do people actually talk like this?

  18. 200 pages in to Seveneves

    That’s about 190 pages more than I managed. I have trouble with the idea that those seven very large chunks of rock would not come back together under the influence of their one masses. (The Moon is a planetoid, after all.)

  19. 200 pages in to Seveneves and I dislike all the characters. That’s impressive in a way. The dialogue is really awkward, too; do people actually talk like this?

    That’s about how far into I am. I have several problems with the book already. And no, people don’t actually talk like that.

  20. I saw a trailer for the new “Ben-Hur” a few months ago and thought “That looks awful.” And I like the old one. You know the chariot race is going to be all epileptic-provokingly edited and plenty of CGI instead of real Canutt-style stuff. Also looks like it’s going to be way more Evangelical/Fundie oriented (No intimation of Messala and Ben Hur’s past relationship, then).

    I will watch any of the sea mammal remakes, though.

  21. My partner has opined that a gender-flipped remake of The Magnificent Seven with Sister Sarah (of “Two Mules for…”) as the central character would be highly interesting.

  22. Sea-mammal-related remakes: I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned The Seventh Seal.

    I’d love to see a CGI movie about Navy SEALs starring blue pinnipeds. Having them go after an enemy named O’salmon might take it too far, though…

  23. There is a recording of Florence Foster Jenkins’ version of “Queen of the night” somewhere on the internet. I’ve never been able to listen to it all the way through. I am partially deaf, and even with this handicap, it tells me this is no movie I want to see.

  24. 7) I find it amusing that Kate Paulk, self-appointed co-leader of a movement that praises the Heinlein juveniles as the model for what science fiction should be, dislikes Binti, the closest thing to a Heinlein juvenile I’ve read in ages.

  25. Actually I did like Magnificent Seven even though it is remake. Well, more than a remake I guess, a re-imagining. But the original is better… of course I would say that….

    Mostly I have avoided “modern” (i.e. boring) remakes of classics though…

    Dawn Incognito wrote

    200 pages in to Seveneves and I dislike all the characters. That’s impressive in a way. The dialogue is really awkward, too; do people actually talk like this?

    Well done. I did not get that far in before disliking all characters. Not only dialogue is awkward but so is the supposed “science”… do people actually think like this? I hope not… probably in vain…

    … I agree that a gender-flipped re-imagining of Seven Samurai could be very interesting. but I am not holding my breath. I have doubts about simplistic Holyword remake… whether flipped or not.

    Edited to say; I see that as not unusual I am behind the times. Oh well.

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