Pixel Scroll 8/17/18 I Heard Him Say In A Voice So Gruff, I Wouldn’t Read You ‘Cause You’re So Tough

Super short tonight!

(1) BETSY WOLLHEIM HONORED. Penguin Random House has announced that DAW Books Publisher Betsy Wollheim will be awarded the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, for demonstrating outstanding service to the fantasy field.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman welcomes you to a fish and chips place with John Langan in episode 74 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

John Langan

John Langan wrote the poetic horror novel The Fisherman, which was probably my favorite book of 2016. And I obviously wasn’t the only one who felt that way, because it won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel the following year. His short fiction has been published in magazines such as Lightspeed and Fantasy & Science Fiction, anthologies such as Lovecraft’s Children and Poe, plus many other venues.

His debut short story collection, 2008’s Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, went on to become a Stoker Award nominee. He and I may be the only two people in the history of the planet to write zombie stories inspired by Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”—his 2008 story “How the Day Runs Down” and my 2001 story “Live People Don’t Understand” tackle that theme in very different ways. He’s a co-founder and on the Board of Directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards.

We discussed how reading Conan the Barbarian comic books as a kid made him hope he’d grow up to be a comic book artist, why his evolution as a writer owes as much to William Faulkner as it does to Peter Straub, what he learned about storytelling from watching James Bond with his father and Buffy the Vampire Slayer with his wife, the best way to deal with the problematic life and literature of H. P. Lovecraft, the reason his first story featured a battle between King Kong and Godzilla, his process for plotting out a shark story unlike all other shark stories, why a writer should never fear to be ridiculous, what a science experiment in chemistry class taught him about writing, his love affair with semicolons, that time Lucius Shepard taught him how to box, the reason the Shirley Jackson Awards were created, and much more.


  • Born August 17, 1879 – Samuel Goldwyn. Producer, The Unexplained series pilot (1956) which was titled ‘The Merry-Go Round’ and which Bradbury reused in the Something Wicked This Way Comes film. Also The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Hans Christian Andersen.
  • Born August 17, 1917 – Oliver Crawford. Screenwriter for episodes of Star Trek, The Wild, Wild West, Terry and The PiratesVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaOuter Limits, I SpyLand of the Giants, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman.
  • Born August 17 – Robert DeNiro, 75. Ok, I’m surprised in that he has at least three genre roles, to wit Fearless Leader in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle; also in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in a role… well you decide, and in Brazil as well. Also in the forthcoming Joker film.
  • Born August 17 – Helen McCrory, 50. A lead in the Penny Dreadful series, also Dr. Who, the Harry Potter film franchise, a gender bending sf version of Frankenstein and Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.
  • Born August 17 – Taissa Farmiga, 24. Lead role in American Horror Story, voice work in the animated Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Justice League vs. Teen Titans.

(4) END RUN. James Davis Nicoll pleads, “When Will SF Learn to Love the Tachyon Rocket?” at Tor.com.

Readers of a certain age may remember the excitement stirred up when various physicists proposed to add a third category of matter to:

  • A. matter with zero rest mass (which always travels at the speed of light), and
  • B. matter with rest mass (which always travels slower than light).

Now there’s C: matter whose rest mass is imaginary. For these hypothetical particles—tachyons—the speed of light may be a speed minimum, not a speed limit.

Tachyons may offer a way around that pesky light-speed barrier, and SF authors quickly noticed the narrative possibilities. If one could somehow transform matter into tachyons, then faster-than-light travel might be possible.

(5) RETRO HUGO BASE. At the official Hugo site, a picture of the prototype awarded on Thursday.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/17/18 I Heard Him Say In A Voice So Gruff, I Wouldn’t Read You ‘Cause You’re So Tough

  1. 4) Do your particles change their flavor in the chamber overnight?
    Do you put ’em in with left-hand spin and take ’em out with right?
    Do you change them into tachyons which exceed the speed of light?
    Do your particles change their flavor in the chamber overnight?

    ETA: I learned about tachyons from Spock Must Die! by James Blish.

  2. @Lee

    I keep thinking of “Beep”, myself, but I can’t remember if that was tachyons or quantum entanglement?

  3. 2) John Langan is a damn fine horror writer, and I wish more of his work (The Fisherman, f’rexample) was findable on my side of the Atlantic. (Hint, hint to his agent and publishers.)

  4. @Lee
    (My mother used to sing the original, about chewing gum and bedpost. So of course I can hear yours in my head.)

  5. Bill Higgins has a version with a similar chorus, which he came up with independently. But his verses are better than mine.

  6. John Langan’s “Mr. Gaunt” was one of the most frightening horror stories I’ve read in recent years.

  7. I too was a purchaser of Blish’s Spock Must Die! (I wonder whose title that was; can’t believe it was Blish’s choice) in 1970 when that novel constituted the only way to get new Star Trek content.

  8. (4) I first learned about tachyons in an essay by Asimov I read in a magazine (The Saturday Review?) when I was about 12. Loved Asimov’s science essays.

  9. @John M. Cowan: I got caught reading collections of Asimov’s science essays under my desk in class when I was in high school. The one about tachyons was probably “The Luxon Wall”

    “We can Remember Your Login Credentials for You, Wholesale”

  10. (1) BETSY WOLLHEIM HONORED. How wonderful! Congratulations!

    (5) RETRO HUGO BASE. I look forward to better photos of this and the 2018 trophy over time. It seems like lighting conditions and the award design of the Retro one aren’t ideal for photos.

    @Lee: “Do your particles change their flavor in the chamber overnight? . . .”

    Yay, that was cute! 😀 NOTE: I may be wrong about the tune, but I’ll just go with what’s running through my head.

    @Andrew: “We can Remember Your Login Credentials for You, Wholesale”

    LOL, how much is this wholesale service? Asking for a Filer. 😉

  11. I think the tune for … particles … is ultimately Turkey in the Straw, which has been adapted for all kinds of purposes.

  12. One of my Facebook friends has just posted that one of his program items for today (a concert set with another filker) was so completely erased from the convention’s program reference sources that he’s finding it hard to believe it was a simple mistake. Who should he approach on the concom to find out what went wrong?

  13. @Sophie Jane: IIRC, neither is explicitly called out in “Beep”. Tachyons couldn’t have been — the story first appeared in 1954, while Wikipedia says tachyons were first proposed in 1962; quantum entanglement (extensively discussed in 1936) could have been referenced — and the Wikipedia explanation builds on the work of Dirac, after whom the communicator was named — but I don’t think QE is mentioned. IIRC, we’re never told how the communicator works; it’s a given, while the maguffin is the fact that gur rcbalzbhf orrc gung nccrnef gb or abvfr (qrfcvgr nccrnevat whfg ng gur ortvaavat bs rirel zrffntr) vf va snpg nyy bs gur bgure pbzzhavpngvbaf gung rire unccrarq be rire jvyy unccra — juvpu qbrfa’g svg nal qvfphffvba bs DR, juvpu vf cheryl ng-gur-fnzr-gvzr.

    @4 It’s amusing that Tor.com put up this article immediately after the JDN article about travel methods he wouldn’t use (which is linked to in this one).

    @1 isn’t news even here; Mike published it when it happened over 3 weeks ago, albeit with less fanfare/framing. I guess Penguin figured they’d get more noise from touting their very deserving winner during the Worldcon.

  14. @Lee: I was thinking “Turkey in the Straw,” too, so thanks for the link!

    Good luck to your friend in getting that sorted out; how frustrating and disappointing for him. I am confused by “so completely erased . . . hard to believe it was a simple mistake,” though. Presumably W76 uses a central Programming database instead of making changes in 10 places any time there’s an update, in which case, yes, one simple mistake would do it. (I’m guessing, obviously; I have no idea how W76 does programming, but something database-driven seems likely.)

    Anyway, hopefully he can get an explanation and get something worked out like a reschedule, if feasible.

    @Chip Hitchcock: LOL, some of us have short memories. Over 3 weeks? I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. 😉

  15. My earlier Godstalk! on this thread (earlier this evening, I mean, not just now) didn’t seem to work; let’s try again.

  16. @Kendall: and most of us remember better what we’re involved with. I may be the only regular WFC attendee on this list; I remembered Mike running the release, but I had to look up when it happened.

  17. I read about tachyons in Smithsonian in the mid 1970s. When I told my mother, she had a bit of a religious crisis: she had thought God was the speed of light, because both were unreachable. And then there were tachyons…

Comments are closed.