Pixel Scroll 7/22/17 On The Fifth Day She Scrolled Five Tidbits About Ray Bradbury

(1) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? CNN’s Brian Lowry is not impressed: “‘Valerian’ turns French comic into epic mess”.

A feast for the eyes and positively numbing on the brain, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” makes an early bid for worst movie of the year — or at least, the most ostentatious waste of money, given the lavish trappings of this comic-book adaptation from French writer-director Luc Besson.

Visually sumptuous, Besson has approximated the scale of a “Star Wars” epic, albeit one wholly populated by versions of Jar-Jar Binks….

(2) GUARANTEED INCOME. Fast Company considers “Could Hawaii Be The First State To Offer A Basic Income?” Shades of Mack Reynolds!

With trials already underway in Kenya, Finland, and Oakland, and several others planned elsewhere, basic income is starting to get a thorough testing. The idea of direct cash transfers to meet basic human needs has been getting a lot of attention in the media, from Silicon Valley leaders, and among academics and think tanks. It can’t be long before a city or state in the United States experiments with basic income for itself (Oakland’s pilot is run by Y Combinator, a startup incubator)….

(3) SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM. And what will Hawaiians buy with their guaranteed money? Well… “‘It’s flavourful as hell’: Welcome to Hawaii’s annual Spam festival”

Not even the drizzle can deter the crowds unspooling along Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach. As late April showers fall upon Kalakaua Avenue, the roads are lined three-deep with sunburned tourists, surfer bros and silver-haired pensioners. Their colourful T-shirts, flower garlands and fancy dress costumes are soaked by rain, but eagerly they wait. Suddenly, a chorus of tiny ukuleles starts to play. The procession begins. Are they waiting to pay homage to a visiting dignitary or religious leader? No. They’re here to celebrate Hawaii’s favourite food: the immortal luncheon meat called Spam.

I join snaking queues for seemingly endless food stalls, each dish more absurd than the last: Spam pizza, Spam fried rice, Spam crackers, Spam pho, deep-fried mac and cheese bites (with Spam) and, of course, Spam fritters. I spot some Spam-infused macadamia nuts, and a slab of grilled Spam atop sticky rice, doused in soy and bound with seaweed: Spam sushi. There’s even Spam dipped in chocolate.

(4) CELEBRATING AFRICAN SF. The University of Manchester’s The Manchester Review has published a special issue on African SF: “Manchester showcases African sci-fi writers, including the author of an ‘African Game of Thrones’”.

This edition of the review is edited by the multi-award winning Geoff Ryman, a Senior Creative Writing Lecturer at The University of Manchester. His own work has won the Arthur C Clarke Award, the Philip K Dick Award and the British Science Fiction Award, and his passion for African science fiction has led him towrite a series interviewing 100 writers from the continent.

Ryman says:

The number of African science fiction stories being published is now too great to do anything other than list. Right now, this wave of creativity reminds me of Elizabethan England at the time of Shakespeare – the power is rising, and the literature with it.

(5) CHAOS DENIED. A spokesperson for former Doctor Who Peter Davison complains the actor’s comments on the new Doctor were quoted out of context:

Since there’s been a flurry of out of context and editorialized articles from various tabloids today (they do love to create chaos), here’s a transcript of Peter’s actual comments from a press interview at #SDCC2017 (the “breaks” were apparently pauses for questions which were edited out):

I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for her and I think that it will be hard for some fans to adjust to it. As I said before, it’s difficult to adjust to any new Doctor, but I think the important thing is that those are uncertain fellows, those who are uncertain should be encouraged to watch it with an open mind. I don’t know, I feel… I think the time for discussion about that is past. They’ve made the announcement. Jodie Whittaker is the next Doctor and that’s great!


I feel.. if I feel any doubts about it, it’s the loss of a role model for boys, who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you’ve got to open it up, so that’s absolutely fair enough. So she has my best wishes and full confidence. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job.


As a viewer, I kind of like the idea of the Doctor as a boy, but then maybe I’m an old fashioned dinosaur. Who knows? But I think that’s irrelevant now. The time for discussion is over. We have a new Doctor. And let’s give her our full support.


I would encourage them to watch. I think there’s too much… you know on the internet… there’s too much bile coming from both sides. And too many people are being horribly sexist about it, and too many people are saying, ‘Well, we don’t care about you. You’re old fashioned. Go away and watch something else.’ I think fans who are doubtful, who are uncertain should be encouraged and welcomed. And just approach it with an open mind.


Oh yeah, of course. I mean, she’s a terrific actress. And you can absolutely understand it. Look, someone rings you up… I know this feeling… someone rings you up one night. You’re sitting at home and they say ‘how would you feel about being the next Doctor Who?’ It’s a fantastic opportunity, so of course, she grabs it with both hands. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job!”


(6) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. This is the last weekend LA’s Harry Potter-themed store Whimsic Alley will be open — “Miracle Mile’s Whimsic Alley Closing”. It says something about social media – don’t ask me what – that a store with over 18,000 Facebook “likes” has bit the dust.

Both a shop and a popular party and entertainment venue, with a castle-like Great Hall event space and a retail area resembling a Dickensian streetscape, the business has been catering to fans of the Harry Potter books and movies — as well as fans of other popular entertainments such as Game of Thrones, Dr. Who, Outlander and even Downton Abbey — in its current location since 2008 (and it was located in Santa Monica for five years before that).  It sells books, costumes, toys, magic wands and other character-related accessories, and has hosted hundreds of birthday parties, tea parties, costume balls, murder mystery dinners, fantasy-themed craft fairs, day camps and even weddings.  For many years before Potter-themed attractions opened at Universal Studios, fans from all over the world would trek to Whimsic Alley for its one-of-a-kind items and atmosphere.

“New multi-million dollar theme parks and exhibitions are awe-inspiring,” owner Stan Goldin said in the closing statement, “But for many years, Whimsic Alley filled a void that no one else seemed interested in filling. Our staff enjoyed serving our clientele as much as they hopefully enjoyed their experiences. As a result, we developed close friendships along the way which we hope will continue for many years to come.”

But Goldin told the Buzz that those new theme park attractions, along with other factors such as the rise of online shopping, and perhaps also traffic and parking disruptions from local subway construction, may be what finally sealed the fate of the beloved store. Business has fallen off dramatically in the last year or so, he said, and “we can only speculate why.”

(7) HALF OF SIXTEEN TONS AND WHAT DO YOU GET? Yahoo! Celebrity’s piece “Comic Book Superfan’s Collection Weighs More Than 8 Tons” tells about Bob Bretell, an LA guy who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having 103,000 comic books, including Amazing Fantasy 15.

Martin Morse Wooster sent the link with a comment: “I remember there was a discussion in File 770 back in the day about fans who were moving their collections and discussing how many tons of books they had.  I remember some fans had more than one ton, but I don’t think anybody had two.  Well, this guy has eight tons of comics!”

(8) CONVERSATIONS WITH CREATORS. Thieved from John Scalzi’s Twitter feed.

(9) WUT? Camestros Felapton has scored another technological breakthrough, the sound-free podcast. It’s guaranteed to be as pleasing to the deaf as it is to the dumb: “The Book Club Roundtable Discussion Club Non-Audio Podcast Club”. Features Camestros, Timothy the Talking Cat and a radiant guest star —

[Camestros] Well, I’m glad you asked. Coming all the way from the distant past and the far future is Susan the triceratops! A big round of applause for Susan!

[Susan the Triceratops enters from the wings] Hi.

[Camestros] Hi Susan. Now for the viewers at home can you tell us more about yourself?

[Susan] Viewers? Isn’t this a podcast?

[Timothy] The government is always watching us Susan. They fear my outspoken commitment to freedom and privatising healthcare.

[Susan] Thank you for the clarification small mammal predator. Well, as you know, I’m originally from the distant past but due to a time-travel accident I ended up in the far future where I now live in Fungus Town, home to the post-apocalyptic Fungus civilisation. In my spare time I defend the city in my superhero identity: Triceracopter.

(10) SHUFFLE UP. Bibliophilopolis tells how fans can “deal themselves in” to “An All-Bradbury #24in48 Readathon!”

From the readathon’s home page, here are some details: “If you’re new to 24in48, this is the basic gist: beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, participants read for 24 hours out of that 48-hour period. You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, four hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six four-hour sessions with four hour breaks in between, whatever you’d like.”

What am I Reading?

Now “the rest of the story” is that most participants don’t actually read 24 entire hours, but rather have that as a goal.  In the past, I’ve participated by reading 24 short stories, which is harder than you think.  This year, though, to up the ante, I’m going to try to read 52 stories, all by the master storyteller, Ray Bradbury.  Why? Many reasons, not the least of which being I really enjoy reading his stories. He also doesn’t write many “long-ish” stories, so they might average a short enough length for me to complete 52 in a weekend. The most important reason, though, is that I am hoping to “raise awareness” about a local (for me) literary treasure, The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Pay them a visit at the link, and also check out their Facebook page. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Center on a couple occasions and it is chock-full of Bradbury artifacts and documents, and a re-creation of his office space. Including his seat of choice, a director’s chair (see photo below).

(11) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY. From John King Tarpinian’s 2009 Comic-Con photos:

Here is a picture I took, my friend Robert is in the middle.  The other two are Jerry Robinson & Ray Bradbury.  If you don’t know who Jerry was then you do not deserve to be in San Diego this weekend.

(12) FIVE YEARS AGO. And in 2012, John photographed George Clayton Johnson’s image on the screen at Comc-Con’s Bradbury eulogy session.

George Clayton Johnson

(13) COMIC SECTION. John  King Tarpinian got a laugh from today’s Off the Mark.

(14) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE, SOMEWHERE. One good book cover deserves another. And another.

The Martian by Andy Weir (Feburary 2014)

John Glenn: America’s Astronaut (April 2014)

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space (June 2014)

Scott Parazynski: The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, and Speed (August 2017)

(15) FAN MAIL FROM SOME FLOUNDER. The Daily Beast’s Erica Wagner remembers the family business: “Inside the Secret World of ‘The Muppet Show’”.

“Dear Kermit the Frog,” begins the letter from a young fan, framed on the wall of the new Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. “How is show business? When are you and Miss Piggy getting married? Tell Miss Piggy I saw a bride dress.”

I’d guess from the handwriting that the scribe was 6 or 7 years old. But at the top of the page is handwriting that I recognize—my mom’s, making a careful note of just how many letters like this there were the pile of mail requiring her attention. Because when I was growing up, my parents’ job was answering all the fan mail the Muppets received.

(16) VIEW FROM A PUPPY. In what Dr. Mauser says will probably be his last Sad Puppies blog post, he presents his version of recent history: “The Claw!”

….Now if the goal of the Sad Puppies were to probe how deep the fix was in in the Hugo electorate, the goal of the Rabid Puppies was to Win. The organizer has a bit of a beef with the SF community, to put it mildly, and taking one of their awards would be a coup. The first attempt was no real master stroke. Having seen how effective Larry’s fanbase had been in getting nominees on the ballot in SP2, the easiest, no effort way to get in was to hijack the list, add himself and a few of his house’s authors to the list at the top, knock off the bottom items to fill out a slate, and mobilize his fanbase as well. With so much commonality to the lists, it would be impossible to sort out whose supporters were whose. Which as a tactic to make his influence appear larger than it was, was successful. SP and RP got conflated and slammed in the social media, and the real media, by design. Some people still can’t tell them apart. But good Tactics sometimes make bad Strategy, and the backlash the organizer engendered resulted, as I said, in one of the most toxic Hugo ceremonies ever, as well as in rules changes designed to make the Hugo nomination process even more opaque than the final vote process.

It wasn’t much better the next year, when his spitefulness towards the fandom made him pollute the nominations with crude gay porn titles. If he couldn’t win, he was going to ruin the whole thing. It merely cemented the backlash, but it didn’t require the overkill numbers unleashed the year before to shut him out, thus those excess no-award voter accounts were released.

Skipping ahead to this year. It becomes really simple to see why he sent an acolyte to announce he was commandeering the helm of SP5. Clearly he believed that the Sad Puppies had an army of followers and if he could co-opt them to his cause, he could finally win, or at least do real damage.[1] The Kickers, on the other hand, had rigged the game even more, making it harder for any small group to dominate the nominations, but a sufficiently large one, like say, tor.com fans, with properly distributed votes, could capture a large number of nominations, and they did. And in the coming years, another fix is going in that will allow any sufficiently large cabal to de-nominate anything they don’t like[2] (They call it 3 Stage Voting, or 3SV, but it’s NOTHING like what I proposed).

I don’t think though that this is going to stop him from shoving more and more quarters into the damned machine, trying to grab that Trophy. The Sad Puppies have proven their point, and are off to chase more good fiction. The Hugos don’t interest them any more. The Rabids though, they’re out to win, no matter how much the game is rigged, and how destructive the results end up being. That’s a feature to them, not a bug.

(17) CONFEDERATE. Vulture’s Josef Adalian in “The Producers of HBO’s Confederate Respond to the Backlash and Explain Why They Wanted to Tell This Story” has an extended interview with showrunners Benioff and Weiss, including why they brought in two African-Americans, Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman to be co-showrunners.

So Malcolm and Nichelle, take me back to how David and D.B. first came to you with this. How did you decide to get involved?

MS: They first called me and said they wanted to take us to lunch and talk about a project they had. They took me and Nichelle out to a restaurant and told us the history of it: They had this script, the movie version, but they felt taking it to TV would be better. And they knew they needed black voices on it. There was already a comfort level between all of us. I feel like me and Nichelle, both separately, have a great pedigree — her particularly — and so it made sense.

For me and Nichelle, it’s deeply personal because we are the offspring of this history. We deal with it directly and have for our entire lives. We deal with it in Hollywood, we deal with it in the real world when we’re dealing with friends and family members. And I think Nichelle and I both felt a sense of urgency in trying to find a way to support a discussion that is percolating but isn’t happening enough. As people of color and minorities in general are starting to get a voice, I think there’s a duty to force this discussion.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: When we initially sat down, we made the joke, “Oh, this is going to be a black Game of Thrones spin-off! This is gonna be awesome.” And then [Benioff and Weiss] got into what the story was about, and I just remember being so excited — and absolutely terrified at the same time. I can’t remember the last time I approached any story like that. So Malcolm and I left the lunch and couldn’t stop talking about it the entire way home. And immediately that night, this chain of emails just started. Like, “Have you read this? Have you read that? What about this piece of history? How can we bring this all into a present-day story line.”

And immediately what the conversation turned into is how we could draw parallels between what has been described as America’s original sin to a present-day conversation.

(18) NOT EVERYONE’S A BELIEVER. It’s easy to be cynical in Hollywood.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, mlex, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

105 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/22/17 On The Fifth Day She Scrolled Five Tidbits About Ray Bradbury

  1. Someone ought to compile all the different Official Histories of the Puppies as presented by the Puppies. With links and screenshots.

  2. @JJ, Meredith:

    hey, I liked Star Trek: Beyond (especially Sofia Boutella)

    [tiptoes quietly away]

  3. @ Rob Barrett
    Allow me to present you with this Internet.

  4. Trailer just been on BBC 1 following tonights episode of Poldark. New series called “Trust Me” about a former nurse pretending to be a doctor.

    Lead character played by Jodie Whittaker…

  5. Are we still on food!? 😀

    I was a little frightened of spam sushi the first time I saw it, but not too frightened to try it. Not bad. Would eat again. And have. (Available on the mainland at L&L Hawaiian BBQ in San Francisco, among other places.)

    Hawaii is also, if I recall correctly, the only place where you can get spam at McDonald’s. Certainly the only place where McDonald’s offers a “Plate lunch” (two scoops of rice and one of macaroni salad, plus meat).

    Re. #11: While I mildly sympathize with the position, saying “if you don’t recognize X, you don’t deserve to be in San Diego this weekend” smacks a little too much of fandom-policing/”fake fan” shaming. (And honestly, SDCC is really only a comic con in name these days, like it or not.)

    Where have all the pixels gone? Long time scrolling.

  6. @ Bonnie: Abrams didn’t direct ST:B. The last movie he did was Into Darkness.

    @ Xtifr: I thought the same thing about that crack. Who died and made him Head Gatekeeper?

    Every Pixel must get Scrolled…

  7. Some of us have face-blindness. That guy could be anyone, for all I know… <wry> It takes an enormous amount of exposure for me to learn a face. For example, I can now reliably recognize Mr. Trump, but that was not necessarily the case two years ago….

    (I went to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with my husband and some friends. Fun popcorn flick, exactly what it says it is on the tin. Anyway, partway through, my husband started elbowing me in the ribs and grinning at me. “what?!?” I finally hissed at him. “fezzes are cool” he whispered back. Then, and only then, I realized the character that had been onscreen for the last ten minutes was being played by Matt Smith….)

  8. JJ’s experiences suggest a party game: Who is each of us a sock puppet for? How do we each give ourselves away by indulging in that person’s bad habits and mannerisms? 🙂

  9. Matt Y: The response of ‘but that’s just for fun, your people want to physically hurt me’ is weird. An strange admission that he does encourage it (fake news!), but it’s fun to harass people for a reaction so it doesn’t matter, and a weird paranoia that some people wish him physical harm so he might be an asshole for the lolz but there are some people out there that are worse or something.

    I still have no idea who Jon del Arroz is claiming wants to hurt him physically. I haven’t seen any physical threats against him. No doubt it’s just one more of his lies.

    He posted some comments over on Camestros’ blog (as well as here on File 770 before the banhammer dropped) where he kept whining, “But you’ve never even met me! How can you say bad things about me!” as if he believes that his malicious asshole online behavior shouldn’t reflect on him as a person, and that people shouldn’t consider what he does online as a demonstration of his bad character and extremely un-Christian behavior.

    It’s just bizarre.

  10. (11)

    I had skipped over this because I’m never interested in celebrity photos. Having gone back and read it, I can say with complete certainty that I have no idea who Jerry Robinson was, and that John King Tarpinian can kiss my lily-white gamer ass. I will go to cons on my decision, not his.

  11. 1) Saw Valerian today and quite enjoyed it. Very comix, very French, very Besson, with a touch of Avatar with a better story thrown in. Didn’t mind the two leads, although they aren’t going to be winning any academy awards. 9/10 would watch again.

  12. Nancy Sauer: that John King Tarpinian can kiss my lily-white gamer ass. I will go to cons on my decision, not his.

    This incredible rudeness is not warranted over a bit of hyperbole. And it was in the Scroll by my decision, and I have no plans to smooch your ass no matter what color you paint it.

  13. Today’s vocabulary lesson:
    When a man engages in gatekeeping it’s “a bit of hyperbole”; when a woman objects she’s showing “incredible rudeness”.

  14. I have been reading comics continuously since I was three years old. I had to Google Jerry Robinson. John King Tarpinian’s position seems to be that because I haven’t paid enough attention to the things he thinks are important, I don’t count as a comics fan. That’s more than “a bit of hyperbole”, and frankly, I’m with Nancy.

  15. Nancy Sauer: when a woman objects she’s showing “incredible rudeness”.

    That’s pathetic.

    Several people managed to object to John’s sentiment without being insulting.

  16. Mike, who is Jerry Robinson?

    Because there’s a lot of assumptions in that item that could use unpacking.

  17. @Nancy Sauer: A side note about “kiss my lily-white gamer ass,” which bugged me, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining or misremembering something. Sure enough, “lily-white” has racist connotations beyond the literal meaning of the words (see meaning #2). Not what you intended, no doubt! But FYI, in case you weren’t aware.

    @P J Evans: No Google access where you live?

    @Various: Robinson’s known for work on Batman, Robin, & Joker – co-creating the latter two – but I had to look him up, ‘cuz . . . I’ve never been a Batman comic fan! (Heck, I probably couldn’t tell you who the original creators of my fave characters where, either.) And yet, despite that and being a comic fan for many years, I took Tarpinian’s comment as hyperbole, not an insult to my comic street cred or an attempt to bar me from Comic-Con for the shame of not knowing one of his heroes.

  18. Batman has a sidekick? I must have missed that movie! 😀

    Seriously, SDCC hasn’t actually been about comics in a long time.

    And Mike, I understand wanting to defend your friend, and I’m sure he didn’t mean to sound (or be) offensive, but you (like me) are white-and-nerdy enough that we almost certainly never had to experience the sort of gatekeeping that some jerks do. So neither of us is really in a good position to judge just how offensive the comment might have been. Yes, I managed to point out the potential offensiveness without being insulting…but that was easy for me, since I wasn’t the target.

    For someone who has been? I think a little overreaction may well be justified.

  19. Dr. Mauser, in comments on (16):

    From the WorldCon POV, they have successfully defended themselves, and have used it to consolidate their grip on the awards.

    I attempted a couple snarky comments regarding that quote, but I couldn’t do better than the man himself, so I’m leaving it without comment other than this one.

  20. Xtifr: Let’s try that again. My attitude, when somebody speaks insultingly, is that they have decided to handle their business themselves, not invite my empathy. People are entitled to handle their business themselves. What you’re really doing here is asking me to treat Nancy Sauer as someone who doesn’t have agency to make that choice.

  21. @Mike Glyer, where you see hyperbole in JKT’s comment, I see SSDD male nerd gatekeeping. I don’t actually care, because male nerd gatekeeping drove me away from comics before I was old enough to drink legally and I’m not interested in the event anyway, but, yeah, the dividing line between hyperbole and rudeness might depend on something other than knowing the context for the person making the comment.

  22. I saw gatekeeping as well, and said so. Nancy’s comment differed from mine only in degree, not in kind — and not by much. It’s the word “deserve” that’s the problem; that’s not a call he gets to make for anyone else.

  23. I do think both JKT and Nancy Sauer made unnecessary comments. But have empathy for both of them. As JKT, I sometimes use too strong wording for what I really feel for. And as Nancy, I sometimes react strongly when feeling excluded as not worthy.

  24. Maybe when they dubbed Valerian into other languages, they improved the acting? That’s what most of the bad reviews on Rotten Tomatoes say. It’s also too long.

    Spam is a tasty thing. I avoid it nowadays because of salt and fat. But this makes me wanna go to the Hawaiian BBQ place and get some Spam musubi.

    Gatekeeping, mansplaining, and tone policing are what they are.

    @JJ: I thought you were Jimmy JJ Dynomite Walker?

  25. @lurkertype: “Spam is a tasty thing. I avoid it nowadays because of salt and fat.”

    Which is why Spam Lite exists. 😀

    (No, seriously, it does. Along with several other varieties, some of which are baffling… like Turkey Spam.)

  26. I’ve never had spam. Given a few weird food things, namely a chronic inability to eat anything that’s very rich, very bland, very greasy, or generally something that leaves you with that gross blah feeling from eating unhealthy stuff (I can sometimes get around some of those things by adding salt and/or lots of spices or herbs, but otherwise it’s a one-way trip to nausea-ville in two bites) – is it worth getting hold of some? And which preparation would be best?

    I’m still stuck on the idea that attending a weekend event is something that someone “deserves” to do. It’s only a convention, it isn’t something you have to earn entry to except in the purely monetary sense. There’s no merit badge involved.

    Perhaps nostalgia would be better expressed by appreciating the memories rather than deciding that people who don’t have similar ones should be shut out of the clubhouse?

    I think it’s unfortunate that what could have been a nice photo and a nice memory for everyone who did recognise the people in it instead ended up getting marred by rude gatekeeping that cast a value judgement on anyone who didn’t know a single piece of trivia.

    (No criticism is implied for including the caption in the Scroll. John King Tarpinian is responsible for his own words, and can surely clarify or apologise or explain or defend them if he wishes.)

    @Bonnie McDaniel

    I also like Star Trek Beyond! It was on my ballot, even (although I’m mostly bitter about Zootopia missing out). I have every respect for Justin Lin’s ability to do good work with ensemble casts (yay, Fast&Furious woo). Into Darkness, however, was awful, and was the last film that Abrams directed before wandering off to direct Star Wars instead (yay, no repeat of Into Darkness woo).

    I’m hoping Sofia Boutella gets a much better lead role than The Mummy soon. She was great in Beyond.


    They still don’t get that the Hugo’s are literally Worldcon’s awards, do they?

  27. @Cora: the local reviewer said we’d be better off if we could just get what’s in Besson’s head instead what makes it to the screen. A lot of what I’ve seen amounts to the script being d-u-m-b DUMB (~”I deeply resent that I can’t get back the time I spent watching this movie”), which may or may not reflect on the source. It only opened last Friday in the US, so I’m not sure it’s had time to be called under-reviewed.

    @John A. Arkansawyer: two words in response to that long quote: Dinesh D’Souza. Being black doesn’t mean they won’t take a ~conservative line that will be (at best) hurtful to many others who can make the same claims of blackness and/or supportive of the worst strains in the U.S.

    @OGH: I suggest you reread your own SF story — and then reflect how the Worldcon would be hurt by a similar quote (e.g., substitute Gernsback or Campbell).

  28. @Chip Hitchcock: The point is that people are treating the two black writers of the show as though they have no agency. Perhaps the problem isn’t the obviously odious Dinesh D’Souzas of the world, but the Roxanne Gays, who feel free to trash other black people working as writers in the most insulting way possible–pretending they don’t exist.

  29. @John A Arkansawyer

    I think a more obvious conclusion would be that Roxane Gay saw the headlines saying that the two dudes from Game of Thrones* were making a new show and assumed it meant that the two dudes from Game of Thrones were making a new show. Blame the headline writers for erasure, maybe, but blaming the people who believed them seems a bit much.

    *A show without the best reputation for handling race.

  30. @Chip Hitchcock: So she went off on something over the headline, without even bothering to read further? That’s kind of irresponsible. From that article:

    One thing left out—or minimized—in many of the critiques is the fact that while Benioff and Weiss will be the official showrunners and creators of the new show, HBO’s announcement also prominently noted the presence of two other writers/executive producers on Confederate, husband and wife Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire). The GoT duo noted in the press release that the Spellmans, who are black, would be their partners, not just part of the writing team.

  31. I’ve been linking to articles on the Confederate controversy on my FB recently, and the issue of the African-American writers/ producers/ showrunners led to some discussion there. I’m lightly editing my comments and reposting here along with links.

    First: an interview that was released to “respond to the backlash and explain why they wanted to tell this story”:


    The second paragraph of the interview emphasizes the presence of the Black producers which, the interviewers imply, ought to have been taken into account by those critics who criticized the idea: my emphasis (bold) is added.

    One thing left out — or minimized — in many of the critiques is the fact that while Benioff and Weiss will be the official showrunners and creators of the new show, HBO’s announcement also prominently noted the presence of two other writers/executive producers on Confederate, husband and wife Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire). The GoT duo noted in the press release that the Spellmans, who are black, would be their partners, not just part of the writing team.

    Did they?

    That claim led me to look for the original HBO release to see what information had been, well, released.

    I decided this was likely the first release, and after reading it, I don’t think that the summary above is accurate (and I grade a LOT of student summaries in my work):


    Here’s my exegesis from FB, tweaked a bit.

    The title is “HBO ANNOUNCES CONFEDERATE, A NEW DRAMA SERIES CREATED BY DAVID BENIOFF AND D.B. WEISS” (sic). The two white guys are prominently identified as the CREATORS.

    Then comes some additional text: “Series Will Be Executive Produced And Written By David Benioff And D.B. Weiss; Nichelle Tramble Spellman, Malcolm Spellman, Carolyn Strauss And Bernadette Caulfield Will Also Executive Produce”

    The two white guys are still foregrounded (English syntax rule: most important stuff comes first in a clause/sentence). Then, there are the “will also executive produce” people [English teacher wince at “executive produce” being made into a verb, ACK]: there are FOUR more names given.

    The first two are the African-American writers/producers in the interview: Strauss and Caulfield were NOT interviewed (which makes me think they are white). So, prominent? Not really.

    It is true that Tramble Spellman and Spellman are identified as writers AND executive producers in the release. But there are only three sentences (out of fourteen) who talk about them: again, I’m not sure that they are “PROMINENTLY noted.”

    The beginning paragraphs of the HBO release focus almost entirely on the white dudes (only people quoted) and the concepts: the last three paragraphs are where that “prominent” noting happens of two of the four “also executive producing” people:

    Blois (president of HBO programming): “we are honored to be adding the talented team of Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman to the mix.”

    Benioff and Weiss: “There won’t be dragons or White Walkers in this series, but we are creating a world, and we couldn’t imagine better partners in world-building than Nichelle and Malcolm, who have impressed us for a long time with their wit, their imagination and their Scrabble-playing skills.”

    Final paragraph text: “Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“Justified,” “The Good Wife”) and Malcolm Spellman (“Empire,” the forthcoming “Foxy Brown”). Carolyn Strauss (“Game of Thrones”) and Bernadette Caulfield (“Game of Thrones,” “Big Love”) will also join as executive producers.”

    So from that, we are supposed to get that The GoT duo noted in the press release that the Spellmans, who are black, would be their partners, not just part of the writing team.

    Hmm. Now “who are black” is a parenthetical (defined as providing additional interesting information rather than required information to identify the noun phrase modified—in this case, the Spellmans), but I read the sentence as claiming that the white dudes “noted” that their partners are “black.” But what they “note” in their quote is “their wit, their imagination and their Scrabble-playing skills.”

    Now, people who are fans of the shows Tramble Spellman and Spellman were involved with *might* know they are African American, but neither of them was quoted in the press release, nor identified beyond Scrabble and the shows they’ve worked on. I’m assuming it’s the typical colorblind belief (on the part of HBO and the white guys) that mentioning race—which is only done for people of color—is racist.

    So: sloppy summarizing on the interviewers part, defensive implication that the critics of the idea who are “blaming” the white guys (where HAVE I heard that before: I had to block the white guy who showed up in my comments to talk about censorship of poor white writers) are kinda racist themselves because OMG BLACK WRITERS/PARTNERS/PRODUCERS!

    (Others have already noted the problem with “there are Black people involved—we’re not racist”—which, yeah, think Clarence Thomas.)

    Oh, and a second point in the interview that irks me when I compared it to the press release: in the interview, the white dudes say they don’t have characters, so why are they being criticized.

    The press release says: “The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”

    Sounds like characters to me (and likely to be primarily white given oh the entire history of Hollywood casting).

    And Spellman and Tramble Spellman both emphasize: “the imagery should be no whips and no plantations.”

    No whips and no plantations in the world the characters above inhabit? There may be different spaces and punishment mechanisms, but….that doesn’t really address the criticisms about the concept.

    Oh, and for people saying “but it’s just like The Man in the High Castle, here’s a good response:


    p.s. it took a while to write this up–seeing the comments that question “did they only read the headline” — I don’t think so. I think that the original release and stories written on it might not have included the information about the Spellmans.

  32. @robinareid:

    Now, people who are fans of the shows Tramble Spellman and Spellman were involved with *might* know they are African American, but neither of them was quoted in the press release, nor identified beyond Scrabble and the shows they’ve worked on.

    If all I knew from that article was this–“Malcolm Spellman (“Empire,” the forthcoming “Foxy Brown”)”–I’d have more than a hunch that Malcolm Spellman was black.

  33. I would have definitely ID’d Malcolm as black from his credits; Nichelle’s credits could easily be for a white person, but I’d guess from her first name that she’s black, because to my brain “Nichelle” automatically equals “lovely and talented black woman who can sing and knows her Federation hailing frequencies”.

    Still, I think @robinareid is correct; the Spellmans got tossed in there with the “also producing” people in the original release and weren’t PROMINENTLY mentioned, weren’t quoted, and if you didn’t read their credits, weren’t easily identifiable as African-American.

    Now, the Spellmans are probably swell people and talented writer-producers (or they wouldn’t have gotten this far), but it doesn’t mean I can’t think the whole project is a dumb idea.

    There are a lot of alt-hist scenarios that haven’t been done to death. It’d be neat to see something like the black slaves revolting and starting up a socialist republic, or Haiti not being kept poor (so not invaded or Papa Doc’d) and becoming the core of a black empire.

  34. That’s nice. If I’d been reading that press release, I wouldn’t have had an idea who if anyone was black or that those two were particularly significant. Considering that one of the first questions I had was “Are they even looking for black writers?” Not noting their race actively, not passively by assuming one will know the other projects y name or repute, is a massive faux pas.

    Even with a black couple in collaboration, it sounds like a massively terrible idea, it just sounds like it has some potential to prove us wrong.

    I won’t be watching it in its first run no matter what, but this makes it vaguely possible that if a lot of black reviewers say it’s a worthy project after all, I might look for it in second run or home release.

  35. I’m not going to direct this at anyone in particular, because I’m ignorant of a lot of stuff myself that you might think I should know all about. And you’d probably be right.

    That said, if you are interested in television and black people, and you don’t recognize Empire, I’m not sure you’re paying attention. I don’t watch it because I don’t watch much of anything, but I’m aware of it, I’ve seen bits of a couple of episodes, and I’ve read about it.

    And I really don’t care much about television.

  36. John A Arkansawyer – That said, if you are interested in television and black people, and you don’t recognize Empire, I’m not sure you’re paying attention.

    I agree with this, but the corollary to that is not and obviously someone with a credit for that show is black. Leaving aside whether having black people as part of the creative team is an automatic get out of jail free card in a discussion of whether something is a good idea, it’s probably not true that only black people who would be interested in telling stories about black people. Nor does it automatically follow that, black or white, being part of the creative team for Empire means that you will create unobjectionable content in a very different story.

  37. > “That said, if you are interested in television and black people[…]”

    Hmm. I would add and are American to that list.

  38. I didn’t pay much attention to the Confederate announcement, because I have zero intention of watching it, even if it comes to our shores. But I saw Weiss and Benioff prominently mentioned and didn’t notice any other people mentioned at all (which might be due to media bias, such as the recent announcement that Who Fears Death has been optioned for TV, which prominently mentioned GRRM, but omitted Nnedi Okorafor). Nonetheless, pushing the Spellmans forward now seems very much like an excuse.

    Frankly, I think that Confederate and The Man in the High Castle are both equally unnecessary, though The Man in the High Castle at least has the advantage of being based on a decent novel.

    Also, if you remember that horribly offensive ad campaign for The Man in the High Castle complete with swastika bedecked subway cars (which no one responsible seemed to be aware was offensive, until people complained), I shudder to think what Confederate might come up with.

  39. Nobody else remembers the tv show The Governor and JJ? Guess because it wasn’t a Walking Dead spinoff. : -)

    “I’m still stuck on the idea that attending a weekend event is something that someone “deserves” to do. It’s only a convention, it isn’t something you have to earn entry to except in the purely monetary sense.”

    Meredith, the thing about SDCC is that for the last several years, those in the general attendee class* have to make it through an effective lottery to get to buy a ticket and attend. I’ve heard the odds are 50% if you attended last year, 6% if you didn’t (different lottos). Personally, I’m perfectly happy to be called a gatekeeper if you consider my opinion that folk who attended and worked on the con in the early years should get the opportunity to buy a ticket every year if they want to as such (they don’t).

    *There are classes, such as Professional, Press, Exhibitor, etc. that either don’t have a lottery or have different ways of being validated as part of that class, with respect to getting to buy or obtain tickets.

  40. Tom: I don’t know why you want to stand out in the storm with a lightning rod as an SDCC gatekeeper.

    As for me, I was helping perpetrate a joke which was wildly unsuccessful for a number of regulars — the kind of joke that could only work if people believed it was very far from anything that would be seriously advocated by the editor. I submit to the fact that not everybody has that belief, and that some have had enough bitter experience they are not going to be amused regardless.

  41. @Tom Galloway

    Whether SDCC’s ticket policies fail to show sufficient respect to longtime attendees is hardly the fault of any younger or less knowledgeable fan who just happens to get lucky in the lottery. I don’t see how anyone benefits from trying to keep those fans out.

    @Mike Glyer

    Most people eventually end up making a joke that works fine for friends and not so fine for relative strangers. Something of an internet hazard.

  42. Meredith, if, say, 500 SDCC old-timers, were assured tickets, that’s 500 tickets that don’t go in the lottery and 500 relative to whatever degree newbies who don’t get to go that year. So my saying I think the old-timers, particularly people who worked on the con back when, should have a guaranteed ticket for the years they want to buy such, does in effect prioritize them and keeps newbies out.

  43. @Tom Galloway

    There is a difference between saying “okay, these people should get priority but everyone gets a chance” and “if you’re not one of these people you’re undeserving”.

  44. @Mike: I didn’t think that the statement was something that you were advocating.

    In terms of JKT’s beliefs, seeing that I don’t know him from Adam, I had zero reason to believe, or even suspect, that he wasn’t completely sincere. Poe’s Law applies.

    And I think you have to admit that if it wasn’t said jokingly, the appropriate reply was, “**** you and the horse you rode in on.”

  45. I think the real test of Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman, will be whether or not they will be provided tasers to be used on D&D whenever those two have an idea. Outside of that, based on Game of Thrones, I have absolutely no faith in D&D being able to pull this off in anything other than a massively clumsy fashion.

    Which is quite aside from the question of whether putting a “Confederacy wins” movie out is a good idea in the first place. I personally have even less tolerance for the concept than for “Nazis win” stories.

  46. I felt like the joke was obvious, but also cringed when I saw it. It’s the kind of joke that only works among friends.

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