Pixel Scroll 8/15/18 I Just Scrolled Into San Jose And Boy Are My Pixels Tired

(1) ROAD TRIP. Made it to San Jose, delayed by a flat tire coming down the Grapevine, which led to getting help from AAA and buying replacement tires in Bakersfield (the temporary spare has limited mileage). I had time to realize that I was on the I-5 just about opposite where Bruce Pelz’ van had a flat on the return trip from the Vancouver Westercon of 1977. Fannish symmetry.

(2) IT’S LIT. Now all I need is an explanation….

(3) NOT YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll continues to flip the script, having “old people” read and react to Amal El-Mohtar’s “”Seasons of Glass and Iron”.

The third piece in Old People Read New SFF is Amal El-Mohtar’s 2016 Seasons of Glass and Iron. To paraphrase Wikipedia:

Seasons won the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Short Story, the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, and the 2017 Locus Award for Best Short Story. It was also shortlisted for the 2017 World Fantasy Award—Short Fiction, the 2017 Aurora Award for Best Short Fiction, and the 2017 Theodore Sturgeon Award.

A fairy tale—two fairy tales—retold to modern sensibility, it scratched the same itch for me Tanith Lee’s Red as Blood did decades ago. It was therefore almost certain that I would enjoy it. The laundry list of awards suggested that I was not alone in this. If there is one thing I’ve learned from this ongoing project, it’s that reality and expectations often diverge. What did my Old People actually think of this story?

(4) CLARION W. Frank Catalano tells GeekWire readers about Clarion West: “How this workshop creates some of the world’s top sci-fi and fantasy writers, inside a Seattle house”.

This and every summer around the first of August, 18 students leave a house in Seattle’s University District, after an intense six weeks in a crucible of creativity. Graduates over the past three decades have gone on to write bestselling novels, win science fiction and fantasy’s major awards, and become well-respected editors.

The Clarion West Summer Workshop may be the least-showy, most-influential contributor to the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in the universe.

“Probably our most famous current grad is Ann Leckie because her first book, right out the door, got the Nebula, the Clarke Award, the Hugo and the British fantasy and science fiction award,” said Neile Graham, Clarion West workshop director since 2001.

Catalano says, “I felt Clarion West is an under-appreciated gem in both Seattle proper, as well as in the tech community in general. So I wanted to draw attention to its decades of work.”

(5) DIRDA COLUMN. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda says “This is getting weird: Critics on horror, science fiction and fantasy”:

Fantasy, horror and science fiction are porous genres, allowing for, and even encouraging, cross-fertilization. H.G. Wells’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” for instance, could be classified under any of these three rubrics. To circumvent so much categorical fuzziness, John Clute, the theoretically minded co-editor of “The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction,” came up with the useful umbrella term “fantastika.” What follows here, then, is a briefly annotated list of some recent critical books about fantastika.

No one knows more about M.R. James, author of the best ghost stories in English, than Rosemary Pardoe. In The Black Pilgrimage and Other Explorations (Shadow Publishing) she collects her “essays on supernatural fiction,” many of which reflect her careful research into the textual complexities and historical context of James’s imaginative writing.

(6) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. Sci FI Bloggers’ Alice Rosso picks the “TOP 5 Ways to Destroy New York City”.

Number 1: Apocalypse, The Day After Tomorrow.

Man has pushed it too far; because of a non-returning point reached in the Global Warming, the earth is doomed to experience a new Ice Age, in which waters and freezing temperature will devastate the entire planet. The first scene that comes to mind when thinking about this movie is the gigantic wall of water that invades New York City, destroying everything on its way, soaking the Statue of Liberty and trapping our protagonists in the famous Public Library. The world is devastated by nature and New York is the first to become an icicle.

(7) DUNE ON TABLETOP AGAIN. Eric Franklin says, “It’s been about twenty years since we had a new licensed Dune game (the Dune Collectible Card Game was released in 1997, the RPG was released in 2000), so it’s about time.” IcV has the story: “Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Comes To Tabletop”.

“This is only the beginning of our big plans in tabletop for this captivating franchise,” said John-Paul Brisigotti, CEO of GF9. “Dune is a rich and wonderful universe, and we expect to produce an equally expansive and inspired line of games for years to come.”

“Gale Force Nine has consistently demonstrated a skill and passion for building successful tabletop game series alongside category leading partners and we are thrilled to announce this exciting addition to the Dune licensing program,” said Jamie Kampel, Vice President of Licensing & Partnerships for Legendary. “Legendary looks forward to a fun and meaningful contribution to this revered legacy property.”

The full range of products, including board and miniatures games, are scheduled to release just prior to the upcoming Dune theatrical release in 2020. GF9 plans to align with other game companies in numerous categories and formats for future releases as well.


  • Born August 15, 1896 – Leon Theremin. Inventor of the instrument figuring in such genre films as The Thing From Another WorldThe Day The Earth Stood Still, The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. TForbidden Planet, Batman Forever, Mars Attacks! and Ghostbusters.
  • Born August 15 – Zeljko Ivanek, 61. First genre role was on The X-Files, some of his other genre appearances include Millennium, From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, Hannibal, Twilight Zone, Lost, Heroes, Revolution, True BloodX-Men: Apocalyse and Twelve Monkeys. 
  • Born August 15 – Natasha Henstridge, 44. Genre work includes series such as Homeboys in Outer Space, The Outer Limits, Time Jumper (anyone seen this?), The Secret Circle, the newest Beauty and the Beast and Medinah.
  • Born August 15 – Jennifer Lawrence, 28. First genre role was in the Medium series, also has appeared in the Hunger Games and X-Men film franchises.

(9) HE LIKES THE BUS. James Davis Nicoll (working overtime today!) told Tor.com readers “Not On Your Life: Six Means of SF Transportation I Would Not Use”. He does not want to be a plasma jet / He would not ride that on a bet…. Here’s an example:

Subatomic Particle Energy

Bob Shaw’s A Wreath of Stars (1976) and Gregory Benford’s The Stars in Shroud (1978) use similar conceits, if for rather different purposes. In Wreath, conversion from regular matter to anti-neutrinos3 affords its protagonist escape from an irate dictator. He finds himself in an intangible world (which is doomed, so it wasn’t much of an escape). In the Benford novel, conversion to tachyons allows faster than light travel. In addition to issues I will discuss in a later essay, both of these technologies have the same apparent drawback, namely: unless the process is absolutely instant (I don’t see how it could be) this would probably shear all the complex molecules and chemical structures in one’s meatsack body, as different bits are converted at slightly different times. Do not want to be converted to mush, fog, or plasma. No thanks.

(10) 1948. Pros at the first Toronto Worldcon.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Rang-Tan: the story of dirty palm oil” on YouTube is a cartoon narrated by Dame Emma Thompson about orangutans produced for Greenpeace

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, amk, JJ, Eric Franklin, James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

84 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/15/18 I Just Scrolled Into San Jose And Boy Are My Pixels Tired

  1. Cora notes And these days, a wailing Theremin is a sure sign that the murders are about to begin due to a Theremin being prominently used in the theme of the Midsomer Murders.

    Love that series, — I’ve seen every episode, many multiple times. I was going to include it and should of as they’ve done at lest one UFO story.

  2. (5) Ok, why exactly do we need yet another new term for Speculative Fiction? Or is “Fantastika” a mix of SpecFic and mundane Horror? (And if so, isn’t the name rather misleading?)

    (7) I remember the old Dune board game, and it was actually pretty good for the time–but that was pre-Eurogame revolution.

    I’ve also still got (and recently played) the old Dune II video game. Which pretty much launched the whole real-time strategy (RTS) genre.

  3. Doctor Science – Will there be someone inside the convention center selling back massages? Where would I find them? Asking for a lower back.

    There is! To the right of the big B sign in Creators Alley. Speaking as a professional bodyworker, they seem to know what they’re doing, too. 😉

    No auto-populate, but only four years to 2140, so that’s fun.

  4. @Xtifr

    The old Avalon Hill Dune game was pretty good. It even had expansions! In that way, it was well ahead of its time. But there were a number of rules, timing, and balance issues, too.

    I need to dig my copy out again and see if I can get some friends over to play.

  5. I spent about an hour researching and writing a post on theremins last night that disappeared. The tl;dr version:

    The documentary Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey is recommended, and you get to hear several amazing performances by Clara Rockwell. I think it’s on YouTube.

    Forbidden Planet‘s soundtrack was composed by the wife/husband team Bebe and Louis Barron, who invented all their own instruments — so it did not use a theremin.

    Ghostbusters also used something other than a theremin. It used an ondes martenot, an electronic instrument of the same vintage. I am going to get to see an ondes martenot in use, as it is one of the featured instruments in Messiaen’s Turangalila-Symphonie, which the Baltimore Symphony will be performing in January. A massive work, 80 minutes and over 100 musicians, rarely performed. I’m really looking forward to it, even with not being a huge Messiaen fan.

  6. @ Jeff Smith

    The ondes martenot was also used in Good Vibrations. Thanks for mentioning the Messiaen, I live in that area and am a fan of the composer. While we’re talking electronic music, I’ll give a shoutout to Delia Derbyshire. Not only did she create the legendary arrangement of the Doctor Who theme, she was an electronic music pioneer and composer in her own right.

  7. @Rob
    From what I’ve read, the electronic sound on “Good Vibrations” was an electro-theremin, a modern variation on the original theremin.

  8. @Joe H. : 39 for me, and a few more on my TBR pile – it does look like a pretty good list, classics mixed in with good contemporary stuff. (And a few I bounced off, but that’s true of any list, I think.)

  9. I am at Forager with OGH and some lovely Filers … BUT the world’s worst metal band is here until 8 …. we are discussing moving elsewhere (between songs) .

  10. @11: not content with endangering orangutans, the palm-oil mongers are now encroaching on African primates

    @3: IMO, Nicoll stacks the deck a bit by asking his contemporaries whether they like a new story he likes. It would be interesting to see whether his “young” panel could agree on some works to be read by his “old” panel, and what the “old” reactions would be. (The “young” panel seems honest enough not to pick stories simply to épater la bourgeoisie; I remember finding interesting a story recommended by one of the participants who also looks in here.)

  11. Does Hamlet count as genre? There’s a ghost, after all. Zeljko Ivanek was the best Hamlet I’ve seen. It was at the Guthrie Theatre in maybe 1988. Julianne Moore was his Ophelia.

  12. @Chip Hitchcock: @3: IMO, Nicoll stacks the deck a bit by asking his contemporaries whether they like a new story he likes.

    How so? Are you suggesting that there is a commonality of taste based on age?

  13. @Eric Franklin: “Marvel Legendary is quite good.”

    Yes! That’s the one I mentioned whose name I couldn’t quite recall. My spouse & I like Marvel Legendary a lot.

    @Joe H.: I’ve heard good things about Jade City and it’s on my “try the sample” list. Good to hear you’re enjoying it!

    Also, thanks for the NPR link. Considering I’m no horror fan, it’s not too shabby that I’ve read and/or watched 13 or so of those NPR items. I’m giving myself full credit for partial reads, items I saw but didn’t read, etc. 😉

    @Charon D & @Mike Glyer: Thanks for updating us non-attending Filers! 😉

    @Kathryn Sullivan: Oh lordy, because of course.

  14. Regarding the Turangalila-Symphonie (1949): There is a marvelous version with the National Youth Orchestra of Britain, amazingly well played, recorded, and edited, with lots of close-ups of the instrumentalists including the featured Ondes Martenot and piano soloists. There’s a subtitle for each of the 10 movements. If no time for the whole thing, check out the climactic 2 minutes of the 8th movement, “Développement d’amour,” around 1:00 to 1:02:


    The continued availability of this video alone justifies the existence of YouTube, in my opinion.

  15. BTW Meredith Moment related to @Joe H.’s comment about Jade City! It’s $2.99 right now, as are some other Orbit titles

  16. @Doctor Science:

    how old are the Old People?

    When James was recruiting, he put the bar at 50, which meant I got in just under the wire.

  17. @PhilRM: Dunno about a commonality of taste based on age, but there could be something based on lack of familiarity with older material. (Or newer material, for that matter. Cuts both ways.)

    I mention this because earlier today I had to explain Woodstock to a pretty sharp twenty-something guy who was also a bit vague about the importance of Jimi Hendrix*. (O the irony of the old jazz fan having to act as the Voice of Sixties Rock!)

    * In fairness to him, he’s not a guitar guy–though he’d heard about Hendrix from a friend who is. And I don’t know jack about rap. Or metal. Or emo, whatever that is. (Wasn’t there a comic by that name? Now where did I put my slippers?)

  18. For ondes martenot, I quite like what Martinu did with it. One of my favorite composers, prolific and delightfully neoclassical as all get-out and much too forgotten.

  19. Russell Letson:

    I mention this because earlier today I had to explain Woodstock to a pretty sharp twenty-something guy who was also a bit vague about the importance of Jimi Hendrix*. (O the irony of the old jazz fan having to act as the Voice of Sixties Rock!)

    I remember maybe 10 or 12 years ago, when I was working the equipment desk at the student gym (hey, three hours a week in return for free use of the facilities), one of our regular patrons, a saxophonist in the jazz program at the music school, asked who I had playing. I said Dexter Gordon. He said, “Who?” I thought, “What?” But yeah, education can’t hit all the highlights at once. Though a week later he thanked me for introducing him to his music and had, I gather, already absorbed three of his albums and was working on incorporating his essence. So, yeah, doing my bit by spreading the word.

  20. @Russell Letson: Dunno about a commonality of taste based on age, but there could be something based on lack of familiarity with older material. (Or newer material, for that matter. Cuts both ways.)

    The former is easy to understand, but it only cuts both ways if the Old People mostly don’t read new SF. I haven’t seen any evidence presented for that.

  21. Make No Bones opened tonight with a spirited cover of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child; if you missed it, count yourself fortunate.

    I think cultural touchstones like everybody knowing Hendrix only really happened for people who grew up in the narrow window when media was all about three networks and one top 40 station.

    We had a great substitute meetup eating dinner at Bo Town.

  22. @All: Sorry about the unwelcome Forager appearance of said musical stylings of Make No Bones. I had been told in advance of today that there wasn’t going to be any music this evening, but someone obviously was misinformed. Anyway, it was delightful seeing people at Bo Town.

  23. @Rick I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the 130 db of badness that was Make No Bones. I suspect one or both of them is related to the owner. Sorry to harsh on them so repetitiously but all the other terrible bands I’ve ever seen have been a lot quieter.

  24. @Eric
    ” I’m not currently buying Modiphius products,”

    Why not? Did I miss something?

  25. @Kendall
    I figured it was Marvel Legendary. Their Legendary Buffy is not as good, but is still fun. Their Legendary Big Trouble in Little China is awesome. The Legendary Encounters (Alien, Predator, and Firefly) are also a ton of fun.

    @Paul Weimer
    My post on why is the first post on page 2 of this thread (which the link should take you directly to). The TL;DR is they hired someone who I’m boycotting, promised to let buyers know in advance which books he worked on, and then “forgot” to include his name in the credits. Twice. And I do not appreciate being lied to.

  26. @PhilRM: the theme-as-I-read-it of Nicoll’s series has been “Here’s a great old story; watch young people react to it.” The problem is that “great old story” is usually something he (and many of us) still(?) think of as commendable. ISTM that a symmetrical test would be to find out what his youth pool finds commendable and see how older readers (including him) react, rather than starting with something he already likes. This does assume that his pool can agree — but I’m not assuming age-based tastes, just thinking about what constitutes a plausible test of the question of whether such tastes exist, versus such counterproposals as “the suck mosquito [a smaller-scale version of the suck fairy] has visited stories we elders hold up as examplary”, or at least “even something claiming to be about the future was irretrievably about the time when it was written” (a truism to some, but Clute explicitly disavowed the idea of the ~”true year” of a work recently, after proposing it some time ago).

  27. @Chip Hitchcock: Thanks for expanding on that.

    I don’t quite agree with your criticism, however. James picked his Old SF stories largely because they were award-winning or were written by major figures back in the day (frequently both). That is not the same as having a group of – ahem – Not-Young People select a list of stories that they think are great – who is to say that such a list would be dominated by “Old” SF? Most of the stories James selected for his original YPROSF group were published before I was even born. (I’m not even going to comment on stories published in the 1980s being considered Old SF… sigh.)

    I do think that your version would be really interesting, although I suspect that trying to get them to agree on a set of stories would be like trying to herd cats – just as it would be to set up the counter-experiment.

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