Pixel Scroll 8/15/19 Some Kind of Zebra Camel Hybrid

(1) JEMISIN PROMOTES INDIES. “N.K. Jemisin Named 2019 Indies First Spokesperson”Shelf Awareness has the story.

Science fiction and fantasy author N.K. Jemisin will be the spokesperson this year for Indies First, the campaign supporting independent bookstores that takes place on Small Business Saturday, which this year is November 30, Bookselling This Week reported.

Jemisin the first author in history to win three consecutive Hugo Awards for Best Novel, all for her Broken Earth trilogy. She is also the winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Sense of Gender Award for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first volume in her Inheritance Trilogy. She is published by Hachette’s Orbit imprint.

In November 2018, Jemisin published How Long ’til Black Future Month?, a collection of short stories that, BTW said, “sharply examine modern society with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.” The paperback edition was published on Tuesday.

Jemisin has already created a video, in which she encourages viewers to visit their local indie on November 30, the seventh annual Indies First Day. Appropriately the video was filmed at the Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, N.Y.

(2) SELECTED RETRO STATS. Pending the appearance of the full 1944 Retro-Hugo voting statistics, Nicholas Whyte offers lots of illuminating observations in his “Retro Hugo summary”. For example –

Closest results:
Best Fan Writer, where Forrest J. Ackerman beat Wilson “Bob” Tucker by 18 votes.
Best Fanzine, where Le Zombie beat Futurian War Digest by 23 votes, after several rounds of very close eliminations.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, where Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman beat I Walked With a Zombie by 25 votes

(3) PRACTICAL SFF. “Sci-fi as a potent political tool: How popular fiction shapes policy debates” – analysis in Asian Correspondent.

IN 2017, Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed all leaders be required to read science fiction to help them understand the past and future of science and technology as well as how new innovations might affect human society.

Similarly, in 2015, his predecessor Ian Chubb said science teachers could learn a thing or two from the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory about making science fun.

This isn’t just Australian contrarianism. Britain’s former science minister Malcolm Wicks suggested in 2007 that teachers use scenes from Doctor Who and Star Wars to kickstart discussion in science classrooms.

Just last year American vulcanologist Jess Phoenix ran for Congress on a platform of linking science-based environmental action to the values of the Star Trek universe.

It may seem outlandish to talk about real science and popular fiction in the same sentence, and doing so frequently creates clickbait headlines, but there’s surprising depth to this connection….

(4) WITH GROWING HORROR. Rob Latham remembers the powerful impact of his first encounter with Dennis Etchison’s fiction in an article at LA Review of Books: “Grim Hints and Nervous Portents: On Dennis Etchison”.

…I can still remember, with piercing clarity, my first experience of reading Etchison’s work. Indeed, I can even recall precisely the place and time: a stifling summer night in 1983, in a two-room apartment in Lake Worth, Florida, with insects buzzing at the screen and the fan cranked up high. The book was the 1982 Scream Press edition of The Dark Country, the author’s first collection, and I passed from the clutching terror of “It Only Comes Out at Night,” in which a driver slowly realizes he is being tracked by a killer, to the creepy elusiveness of “The Nighthawk,” whose young heroine comes to suspect that her brother may be a shapeshifting monster, to the unremitting grimness of the title story, wherein a pack of nihilistic expats in Mexico fritter away their days and their sanity, in a sustained, breathless epiphany.

It is hard to say why Etchison connected with me so powerfully on a visceral level. Perhaps Karl Edward Wagner offers a hint, in his introduction to the next Scream Press collection, Red Dreams (1984): “Etchison’s nightmares and fears are intensely personal, and his genius is to make us realize that we share them.”

(5) BEST SF. Paul Tassi advances his 7 picks for “The Best Science Fiction Books of All Time” at Forbes. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is one of them.

Science fiction is my favorite literary genre by far—I’ve written five sci-fi books myself—so making this list was going to be difficult. I ended up going with some of my favorites, while weighing against the larger scale of some of these novels and their impact on the genre overall.

There are some truly massive series in here, as well as all-time greats that any literary fan should read, regardless of their favorite genre. Here are some of the best science fiction books of all time:


August 15, 1939 The Wizard of Oz premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, in Hollywood, on this day.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 15, 1858 E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than sixty books of children’s literature including the Five Children Universe series. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organization later affiliated to the Labour Party. (Died 1924.)
  • Born August 15, 1906 William Sloane. Best known for his novel To Walk The Night which Boucher, King and Bloch all highly praise. Indeed, the latter includes it on his list of favorite horror novels. It and the Edge of Running Water were published together as The Rim of Morning in the early Sixties and it was reissued recently with an introduction by King. (Died 1974.)
  • Born August 15, 1932Robert L. Forward. Physicist and SF writer whose eleven novels I find are often great on ideas and quite thin on character development. Dragon’s Egg is fascinating as a first contact novel, and Saturn Rukh is another first contact novel that’s just as interesting. (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 15, 1933 Bjo Trimble, 86. Her intro to fandom was TASFiC, the 1952 Worldcon. She would be active in LASFS in the late 1950s onward and has been involved in more fanzines than I can comfortably list here. Of course, many of us know her from Trek especially the successful campaign for a third season. She’s responsible for the Star Trek Concordance, an amazing work even by today’s standards. And yes, I read it and loved it. She shows up (uncredited) as a crew member in the Recreation Deck scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Bjo and her husband John Trimble were the Fan Guests of Honor at the 60th Worldcon, ConJose.
  • Born August 15, 1934 Darrell K. Sweet. Illlustrator who was best-known for providing cover art for genre novels, in which capacity he was nominated for a Hugo award in 1983. He was Illustrator GoH at 71st Worldcon, LoneStarCon III. He was also a guest of honor at Tuckercon in 2007, at the 2010 World Fantasy Convention in 2010, and LepreCon in 2011. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 15, 1943 Barbara Bouchet, 76. Yes, I’ve a weakness for performers who’ve shown up on the original Trek. She plays Kelinda in “By Any Other Name”.  She also appeared in Casino Royale as Miss Moneypenny, and is Ava Vestok in Agent for H.A.R.M. which sounds like someone was unsuccessfully emulating The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It will be lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000
  • Born August 15, 1945 Nigel Terry. King Arthur in Excalibur. Now there’s a bloody telling of the Arthurian myth.  He’s General Cobb in the Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Daughter” which occurs during the time of the Tenth Doctor, and on the Highlander series as Gabriel Piton  in the “Eye of the Beholder” episode. He even played Harold Latimer in “The Greek Interpreter” on Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 15, 1957 David Henry Hwang, 62. Writer of 1000 Airplanes on the Roof which is a melodrama in one act by Philip Glass with projections by Jerome Sirlin. The opera premiered on July 15, 1988, at the Vienna Airport in Hangar #3. The initial performance featured vocals by Linda Ronstadt. 
  • Born August 15, 1958 Stephen Haffner, 61. Proprietor of Haffner Press which appears to be largely a mystery and genre reprint endeavor though he’s published such original anthologies as Edmond Hamilton & Leigh Brackett Day, October 16, 2010 and the non-fiction work Thirty-Five Years of the Jack Williamson Lectureship which he did with Patric Caldwell.
  • Born August 15, 1972 Ben Affleck, 47. Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League which I’ll admit I’ve not watched. IMDB claims he shows up in a uncredited spot in Suicide Squad as well. He’s Matt Murdock aka The Daredevil in Daredevil which I have seen — it’s pretty crappy. He’s actually in Field of Dreams, too, as a fan on the stands in Fenway though he’s not credited. 

(8) CATCHING UP WITH OBAMA.  A bit of sff shows up on Barack Obama’s summer reading list —

(9) CHOOSE YOUR OWN HORROR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SYFY Wire: “Alexandre Aja to helm choose-your-own-adventure horror flick from Hill House writers”.

Amidst all the big-budget mega-blockbusters this summer, Alexandre Aja managed to carve out a respectable performance from his horror flick Crawl, your timeless tale of human vs. alligator vs. hurricane.

Now, the director behind High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, and Piranha 3D is staying firmly in his horror lane as he’s signed on to make a haunted house feature for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. But unlike most horror movies that get a theatrical release, this one will ditch its linear story and instead embrace a sprawling ‘choose your own adventure’ narrative (one seemingly unrelated to any of the actual Choose Your Own Adventure series of books). 

Mike Kennedy says, “In my opinion the true horror is all of the theatergoers using the special voting app on their smartphones continuously during the movie. You know half of them will be live-tweeting the movie and the other half getting update after update after update from the ones’ tweeting.”

(10) IS IT MORE BLESSED TO GIVE? “Someone left old TVs outside 50 homes in Virginia while wearing a TV on his head. No one knows why.” — The Washington Post has video.

It was kind of like Christmas — except it was August, the only presents were vintage television sets, and Santa had a TV on his head.

Residents of more than 50 households in Henrico County, Va., woke up this weekend to find old-style TVs outside their doorsteps, said Matt Pecka, a lieutenant with the local police department. Pecka said police began receiving reports about the TVs early Sunday. By the morning, their phones were clogged with calls.

…The givers had TVs instead of faces.

The videos reveal at least one of the deliverymen: a man dressed in a blue jumpsuit, black gloves and what appear to be brown hiking-style boots. He wears a TV set on his shoulders, positioned so it obscures his face…

(11) ROMAN SORCERER’S TOOLKIT. According to the art website Hyperallergic, archaeologists at Pompeii have discovered a wooden box full of sorcerer’s implements. They believe that the box was owned by a Roman sorceress. “A ‘Sorcerer’s Treasure Trove’ Uncovered in Pompeii”

The sorcery items include crystals, amber and amethyst stones, buttons made of bones, amulets, dolls, bells, phallic amulets, fists, human figurines, and a miniature human skull. A glass bead depicts the head of  Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility. Another glass amulet features a dancing satyr.

“The high quality of the amber and glass pastes and the engraving of the figures confirm the importance of the domus owner,” Osanna continued. But since none of the objects in this “sorcerer’s treasure trove” was made of gold, a material favored by Pompeii’s elites, they most likely belonged to a servant or a slave rather than the owner of the house, Osanna assessed in an interview with the Italian news agency ANSA .

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Contrarius, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern with an assist from Anna Nimmhaus.]

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33 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/15/19 Some Kind of Zebra Camel Hybrid

  1. @7: Bjo’s Fancyclopedia entry confirms my recollection that she started the tradition of art shows at conventions. As someone who has run art show hangings builds for ~70 conventions (and documented a popular style of hangings) I don’t know whether to cheer or grumble — life would have been quieter (and probably more boring) without them.

  2. Red Panda Fraction on August 15, 2019 at 7:36 pm said:

    YMMV – but some of the books in those series are pretty good, even if others are gawdawful.

  3. On that list: I’ve read some of all of them, and all of some of them.
    Completed: The Sprawl Trilogy, Broken Earth, Snow Crash.
    Of the others, I’ve read at least the first two books and am unlikely to read any more.

  4. I think Portnoy has it wrong when he says the alternative answers are “adequate, but not clever.” Subversion of audience expectation is at least as clever as a bad pun.

  5. 7) I have many of Haffner Press’ reprint volumes of Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton, amongst others, and he puts out lovely, lovely books.

  6. PJ Evans — It’s not that the books listed are bad, it’s that that list is supposed to be the greatest sf EVER. It’s a sad list in that respect.

    I finally watched the Le Guin documentary tonight, and it was even better than I expected it to be. I found it very moving. And I was utterly surprised to get a little shout-out in it, with the title page of my 1975 Women in Science Fiction symposium featured in one shot. (I’ll extend the shout-out to Judith Weiss, who did the drawing and calligraphy on display.)

    Scrolls from Topographic Pixels


    What’s an inidie? 😉

    5) Well, I’ve read at least one book in all of those series, haven’t read Snow Crash.

    Very odd that a list purported to be the best sf BOOKS of all time nearly exclusively focuses on series.

  8. (5) There is a non-trival amount of fantasy in that grouping of sci-fi works. Dune is infused with religious mysticism. The Fifth Season read a bit more like fantasy than sci-fi to me as well. Both are great series, but not exactly wholly dependent on science.

    Give the American people a good cause, and there’s nothing they can’t lick. – John Wayne

  9. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction is available from Amazon for $2.99.

  10. Andrew says I think Forward’s book was Saturn Rukh” vice Rush.

    One sec… yep that’s what I sent in. Mike, your spellchecker changed it. Please fix.

  11. 1) Bookstores can use all the help they can get. Good for NKJ.

    10) This is deeply creepy. The video of the TV-headed man is… unsettling.

  12. One More Meredith Moment: Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand, which is one of my favorite fantasies, is available for $1.99 at all of the Usual Suspects.

  13. Cat Eldridge: Rukh

    Aargh. I’m supposed to be fixing errors, not introducing new ones!

  14. Mike Glyer says Aargh. I’m supposed to be fixing errors, not introducing new ones!

    Well I did have to check the sent emails to make my email app hadn’t corrected it which it well could have. And that batch was done overnight so I wouldn’t necessarily noticed it had done so.

  15. (1) I have recently discovered that I can buy audiobooks from my favorite independent bookstore via Libro.fm. Since I love independent bookstores generally, and that one in particular, but don’t buy hardcopy books anymore, this is a real joy.

    They let you pick the independent bookstore of your choice.

  16. (5) Well, its a list. It contains some good books. It doesn’t say what „Best SF“ even mean, these lists never do. Although its hard to argue against Broken Earth ( 3 Hugo winners), Dune or Neuromancer-Triology by any Useful definition. The rest? Mmh.

  17. Ben Affleck starred in the 2003 movie ‘Paycheck’ based on the Philip K Dick story of the same name. It seems a lot of people don’t think much of this picture. I liked it. Although there’s no denying that as a sci-fi / action movie it’s a lot heavier on the action.

  18. Jee Jay says Ben Affleck starred in the 2003 movie ‘Paycheck’ based on the Philip K Dick story of the same name. It seems a lot of people don’t think much of this picture. I liked it. Although there’s no denying that as a sci-fi / action movie it’s a lot heavier on the action.

    I missed that. Good catch!

  19. Beki Taylor, who huckstered in the Baltimore/Washington area, died this past Tuesday night. Services will are being arranged in Maryland, and I’ll post the date/time when they’re settled.

    Please get the word out in fandom.

    Her daughter Sara can be reached at http://www.facebook.com/thedreamymoon.

  20. @Lis —

    (1) I have recently discovered that I can buy audiobooks from my favorite independent bookstore via Libro.fm.

    That’s a great idea. Expensive, though. They charge $14.99 per book, while I pay $9.56 per book max through Audible (cheaper with sales and Daily Deals and so on).

  21. @Contrarius–

    That’s a great idea. Expensive, though. They charge $14.99 per book, while I pay $9.56 per book max through Audible (cheaper with sales and Daily Deals and so on).

    You’re paying for a more expensive Audible plan than I am.

  22. @Lis —

    You’re paying for a more expensive Audible plan than I am.

    Yeah, and the credits on the biggest plan only last me for a few months — so then I have to buy even more credits. But I’m not addicted, really — I could stop anytime I want! 😉

    I did check out libro.fm, and they have a great deal right now — you can get THREE books for $14.95 if you sign up with the code “SWITCH”. That’s essentially your free sign-up book, plus two at $7.50 each. So I did that, downloaded three books, and then put my new account on hold so I won’t get charged for next month. My town didn’t have an independent bookstore on the list to send the credit to, so I picked a store in another town not too far away.

    You might also want to check out Scribd, if you haven’t already. It’s $8.95 or $9.95 per month, I forget which. It’s supposedly as many books as you want to listen to, but after three or four books they drastically limit your choices for anything else you want to listen to during the month. And you don’t get to keep the book files — it’s more like a lending library. I try to switch between Scribd and Audible to limit the number of new Audible books I have to pay for. And no, my local library isn’t a good alternative — they have like 10 sff books TOTAL in their audio catalog. Sigh.

  23. @Contrarius–

    Yeah, there are limits to the public library. I might be a little better off than you in that respect, since due to state law plus regional library consortia, my public library effectively includes not just my town, but most of the towns in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts, plus the Boston Public Library.

    And there is still not enough selection to make me happy!

    Because of my blog and Goodreads, I’ve connected with a few authors plus one narrator who are happy to offer me their stuff to review. It was two narrators, until one of them sent me his most recent project and it turned out to be a romance set in a Nazi concentration camp, with the romance being between a prisoner and the commandant’s assistant. There were nontrivial details that made it a little less bad than that bare description–but not enough less bad. That narrator has at best poor judgment, and I’m not going to take his most recent.

    The fantasy and sf that reaches me as audiobook review requests is welcome but varies wildly.

    There’s also Chirp, which is sort of like Bookbub but for audiobooks, which can be a source of good deals, some of them sff.

    Serial Box also has some good offerings that are cheap or free to listen to, and I’ve gotten one for review so far. Maybe there will be more.

    Basically, I’ve become a bit of a scavenger for low cost audiobooks that I’ll enjoy.

    I tried Scribd years ago, and now retain just a vague sense of not having liked it. Not sure it included audiobooks at the time? Maybe it’s time to give it another try, if it’s working for you.

  24. @Lis —

    Scribd is definitely getting better — I can see improvements in their catalog even within the last year, since I first became a member. I wouldn’t be happy with it as a substitute for Audible, because of that 3-4 book limitation on their most popular books, but as a supplement it works well. And if there are months where I’m not going to use it, it’s easy to cancel for the month and then pick it back up later — no yearly contract. If you do try it, do your searches by author — not by title. Their search engine is AWFUL, and it frequently misses title searches. Oh, also — just this month I started experimenting with how to get around their 3-4 book bottleneck, and I found out that if you turn off cellular data for the Scribd app, and you don’t allow your phone to automatically connect with external wifi sources, then you can keep reading as many books as you like (if you’ve already downloaded them to your phone, which Scribd does allow) until the next time you connect with their server. So keep that in mind too.

    I haven’t heard of Chirp or Serial Box. Will check them out!

  25. Oh, P.S. —

    You may also be aware that these days a lot of KU books also have audio with them, also free as long as you have KU. There’s some good ones there, and when Audible has sales I always check to be sure that I can’t listen to it free on KU before I buy it from Audible, because their sales books are there fairly frequently.

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