Pixel Scroll 8/31/18 The Credential, The Cryptomancer, And The Credenza

(1) #BACKTOHOGWARTS. Warner Bros. kicked off the weekend with a behind-the-scenes featurette for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Excited about #BackToHogwarts tomorrow? Watch J.K. Rowling and the cast of #FantasticBeasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald reminisce over their favourite Hogwarts memories.


(2) FIRST DAY OF FALL. Bill Capossere’ gives the new release a favorable review, “The Fall of Gondolin: A welcome addition to Christopher Tolkien’s close looks at his father’s work”. He also explains to Fantasy Literature readers:

As with Beren and Lúthien, with regard to the stories themselves (as opposed to the analysis), there is little “new” here; the various versions can be found in others of Christopher’s HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH books. What the stand-alone offers that those books do not is a single-minded focus on one story, allowing us to trace the tale’s evolution more fully and in more detail. I’ve personally found that singular focus to be well worth the purchase price despite owning the versions in other books. Also, I should note that both the publisher and Christopher are (and have been) quite upfront and transparent about this. There’s been no attempt to present these as “new” texts.

And about one part, The Last Version, he says –

Unfortunately, cruelly even, Tolkien abandoned this version, what Christopher calls “this essential and (one may say) definitive form and treatment of the legend,” just after Tuor passes the last gate. I’m with Christopher when he confesses that for him it “is perhaps the most grievous of his many abandonments.”

(3) TANSY RAYNER ROBERTS REVIEWED. At Fantasy-Faction, Richard Marpole praises the novella “Cabaret of Monsters by Tansy Rayner Roberts”.

Rayner Roberts’ writing style is lively and conversational, she doesn’t shy away from grown-up words or a bit of satire here and there either. Evie’s attempts to get away with wearing trousers in a city still mired in traditional gender roles adds a pleasant dash of feminist commentary to proceedings. (Though, among the Creature Court and the bohemian set at least, alternative sexualities and genders seem to be well represented and completely accepted in Aufleur, which is always nice to see.) There are plenty of pretty descriptions and well-turned phrases here, but they don’t slow down the pace.

(4) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. NASA is waiting for a call. Engadget has the story: “Mars Opportunity rover will have 45 days to phone home”.

As a planet-wide dust storm enveloped Mars, many were concerned about the fate of the Opportunity rover. After all, Opportunity is dependent on solar panels; the opacity of the dust storm meant that she wasn’t getting enough light to stay powered. The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory last heard from Opportunity on June 10th. Now, the storm is lifting, and once its opacity reaches a tau level of 1.5, the little rover will have 45 days to respond to the team’s signals. Otherwise, NASA will stop actively listening for the rover.

The tau measures the amount of dust and particulate in the Martian atmosphere. The team hopes that, once the skies have cleared enough and the rover has recharged its batteries, Opportunity will be able to hear and respond to the signals that Earth is sending its way. If 45 days have passed without a response, the team will cease its active efforts to recover the rover. “If we do not hear back after 45 days, the team will be forced to conclude that the Sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to cause some type of fault from which the rover will more than likely not recover,” said John Callas, Opportunity’s project manager, in a statement.

However, that does not mean they will abandon all hope, as the article goes on to explain.

(5) MORE WORLDCON 76. Stephanie Alford’s report includes some good panel notes.

While WorldCon76 was my second worldcon, it was my best con ever!  Big backpack stuffed with con survival gear (food, books, journals, pens, etc.), bowler hat squarely on my head, I wandered the convention center with a big smile on my face.

1001 Years Later – What Happened to Arabian FictionShayma Alshareef and Yasser Bahjatt

SETI:  What Do We Do When We Find Them? – Andrew Fraknoi Guy Consolmagno, SB Divya, Douglas Vakoch, Lonny Brooks

(6) PIXLEY AT WORLDCON. Joy Pixley explains the con’s distinctive features in “Back from Worldcon!”

Worldcon is much more oriented toward books than other large fan cons like Comic Con, that have huge movie trailer premieres and feature famous celebrities.  I mean, Worldcon does have celebrities, it’s just that we readers and writers think of authors as being big celebrities, not actors.  So it doesn’t have quite the glitz or the production value of commercial cons, but then, the guests of honor actually walk around the convention center and go to talks and sit down for drinks, just like everyone else.  To me, that makes it feel so much more inclusive and approachable.

(7) SEVERIN OBIT. Marie Severin, who was a pioneering woman in comics, mostly for Marvel, died August 29. The Washington Post’s Matt Schudel marked her passing: “Marie Severin, versatile Hall of Fame comic-book illustrator, dies at 89”.

Ms. Severin spent more than 50 years as an illustrator, handling all three of the major visual tasks in comic-book production: penciling, inking and coloring. She worked closely with Marvel’s editor in chief Stan Lee for decades and in 2001 was named to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame.

In the 1970s, Ms. Severin was a co-creator of Jessica Drew — better known as the superhero Spider-Woman — and designed the character’s skintight red-and-yellow costume.

“Marie Severin did it all — penciler, inker, colorist, character creator,” historian and publisher Craig Yoe, the former creative director of Jim Henson’s Muppets, wrote in an email. He called her “one of the last of comics’ greatest generation.”

(8) ZADAN OBIT. He brought musicals to live TV, some of them genre: “Craig Zadan, 69, Dies; Produced Musicals for Stage, Screen and TV”.

Craig Zadan, an ebullient showman who helped engineer a revival of Broadway musicals on television with live NBC broadcasts of “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “Hairspray” and “The Wiz,” died on [August 21st] at his home Los Angeles. He was 69….

The success of “Gypsy,” broadcast in 1993, led to ABC, where [he] produced “Annie” (1997), with Kathy Bates and Alan Cumming, and “Cinderella” (1999), with Brandy Norwood in the title role and Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother….

(9) HEATH OBIT. Russ Heath (1926-2018), a long-running comic artist, although less known in genre, who drew for Hero Initiative (fund that helps comic book artists in need), died August 23. The New York Times obit is here: “Russ Heath, Whose Comics Caught Lichtenstein’s Eye, Dies at 91”.

Heath seemed to feel his comics had done more than just catch the renowned pop artist’s eye.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1890. E.E. “Doc” Smith. Writer, the Lensman and Skylark Universe series, each of which has a lot less novels in them then I thought they did, but which have influenced a number of later genre works including the Babylon 5 series. I admit I’ve not read them, so are they worth reading?
  • Born August 31 – Steve Perry, 71. Apparently there’s quite a living to be made in writing genre fiction that’s based in universes created by someone else as he’s written novels in the Predator, Aliens, Aliens versus Predators, Conan, Indiana Jones, Men in Black and Star Wars franchises. Not to mention both books based on both work by Leonard Nimoy snd Tom Clancy. And Isaac Asimov. not sending a lot of originality here.
  • Born August 31 – G. Willow Wilson, 36. Writer of such work as Air, Cairo, Ms.Marvel and Alif the Unseen. She won the World Fantasy Award for the latter and a Hugo Award went also to Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal.


(12) RETURNING THIS FALL A Superheroes Fight Back Trailer from the CW to let everyone know their new season starts October 9.

(13) EPISODE IX CASTING. ScienceFiction.com learned “‘Star Wars Episode IX’ May Be Looking For Another Female Lead!”

A character breakdown for the upcoming ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ has been released, and it teases a new female character who could be joining the cast soon! It was previously reported that the film was on the hunt for two new female leads, one being a 40-50 year old female to play a character being called “Mara”, and the other being an African-American actress, age 18-26, to portray a character by the name of Caro.

That Hashtag Show reported that the film is now looking for another actress age 27-35, for a character being called “KARINA.” The character breakdown describes the supporting role as:

“A younger Charlize Theron with street smarts and a sharp wit… a good sense of humor, solid comedic timing and a strong voice.”


(14) THE CONTINENTAL. If people still put destination stickers on their luggage, John Scalzi’s bags would be accumulating a new batch next year.

(15) QUICK SIPS. Charles Payseur gives Tor.com’s short fiction a whirl in “Quick Sips – Tor dot com August 2018”.

Two short stories and a novelette round out the SFF originals from Tor this month, with a definite focus on science fiction, on futures of humanity interacting with the universe and, perhaps more importantly, with the Earth. Whether that means dealing with the touch of climate disaster and change, or working to move beyond the bounds of our terrestrial home through uploading and flight, or gaining a new and non-human presence to co-inhabit the planet with, the pieces look at how humans see the Earth, and how that perspective shifts as the gaze becomes less incorporated in a human body. It’s a month full of strangeness and longing, risks and looming dangers, and it makes for a fascinating bunch of stories. To the reviews!

(16) MARVEL SHOWS HEART. Several stars of Marvel films have sent short videos — as themselves — to a teenager who has terminal brain cancer. Josh is a particular fan of Deadpool, causing actor Ryan Reynolds to lead the charge. He’s also recruited Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) to make videos of their own. You can see all five at “Marvel stars line up crossover to send powerful vibes to teen with terminal cancer” on SYFY Wire.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Tink by Mr. Kaplan on Vimeo is a short film about an animated Rube Goldberg machine.

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

80 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/31/18 The Credential, The Cryptomancer, And The Credenza

  1. 27 or 28 of the ones on that list, for me. But then, I’m not into horror or grimdark, and most of the ones I haven’t read…don’t appeal to me. (I’ve read other books by some of the same authors, though.)

  2. @ Kendall: Refreshing to see such a list that doesn’t have more books from over 50 years ago than from the past 50 years! I do think calling it (or any other such list) “the best X of all time” is a bit of a misnomer, though; between All The Books and Mileage Varies, there’s never going to be a definitive list of that nature.

  3. Lee: Refreshing to see such a list that doesn’t have more books from over 50 years ago than from the past 50 years!

    Indeed, very refreshing.

    I’ve read 51 — but at least a couple of those I would not recommend for a “Best of” anything.

  4. 47 and a fraction (I’ve read “Weyr Search” in The Hugo Winners Vol. 2, so I’m giving myself half credit there).

    I also liked that there was a decent amount of short fiction represented.

  5. 56 from that list. Definitely a mixed bag. Definitely a terrible title for such a list. But enough good ‘uns, both old and new, that I can’t fault it too much.

  6. 35 from the list. Possibly 35 1/2, depending how much of the contents of The Big Book of Science Fiction I’ve read elsewhere separately.

  7. @Lee: Yeah, it was nice to see a good mix in the list!

    I don’t feel “best” is a misnomer; it should be understood that “best” is a matter of opinion (e.g., the Hugo “Best Novel” award). It’s obviously the ones the people making the list or whoever was polled feel are the best.

    Of course, then I see things like the guy who commented on the post I linked to, who said he stopped reading the list when he saw a particular book wasn’t on the list. And I think, “Le Sigh.” 😉

  8. The discussion of E.E. Smith’s work here may have been what motivated me to buy a copy of THE MEDIC SERIES, a collection of Murray Leinster stories, at CoKoCon earlier today.

    (I was only at CoKoCon briefly, mostly to let people know Hilde’s surgery had a successful result. Hilde didn’t feel quite up to going out yet, even for a few hours, so stayed home with Tabbi, her caregiver when I’m at work or out.)

    I never read much of Leinster’s work, even way back when I was trying to ground myself in SF history and its significant authors. Some of that lack on my part may have been because: 1) Leinster had SO much work published, 2) there was no central core of work that stood out from the rest strongly enough to make people say “Oh, yeah, Murray Leinster. He wrote those ______ books.”

    At least in regard to his novels. Some of his short stories, like “The Runaway Skyscraper”, “First Contact”, and others are still pretty readable and regarded as important parts of SF history. But I can’t think of any Leinster novels as highly regarded.

    (Incidentally, if you’re interested in older paperbacks, especially from the 50’s thru the 90’s, Alice & Marty Massoglia’s dealer tables at cons is a primo place to find them. Unless I’m feeling stone broke, I always find something to buy. Marty also has an encyclopedic knowledge of SF books.)

  9. 53/100 on the list, and several others are recent enough to be still on my to-read pile. There’s some I wouldn’t recommend (but tastes differ) and some others that, while interesting, I wouldn’t put on a “hundred best” list myself (Shikasta, for instance, is something of an acquired taste.) Still. Interesting list, and some things made the “should read that sometime, then” list inside my head.

  10. I would like to speak up for Steve Perry. First, getting work in media-tie-ins is not particularly easy, usually involves tight deadlines, and editorial control is much tighter than in non-media work. Second, let’s look at the list of otherwise notable SFF authors who have done media-tie-ins: Walter Jon Williams, Diane Duane, John M. Ford, Ben Aaronovitch, Paul Cornell, Alastair Reynolds, Timothy Zahn, David Gerrold, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, George Zebrowski, Roger MacBride Allen, Kevin Hearne, Chuck Wendig… this is by no means a comprehensive list.

    Third, as previously mentioned, he has done quite a bit of non-tie-in work, and some of it is really good.

  11. Hmm, 25.
    A few on the list that are on my “must try that sometime” list.
    A few more on my “way too soon to think of reading that” list.
    Quite a few others are on my “avoid at all costs” list.

    Still, it’s a list. It’s not so bad.

    “Shikasta” I’ve read and belongs on the list I think. At least as much as some others as least.

  12. Interestingly, I think I’ve read a higher proportion of the “older” books on that list than the more recent ones. That’s mostly due to certain quirks about my current reading habits. (I’ve heard of pretty much all of the recent ones, they just haven’t tended to intersect with my reading list.)

    I’m a strong proponent of labeling lists “favorite” rather than “best”. “Favorite” carries an inherent sense of subjectivity and specificity. It can only exist within a context of a specific chooser implementing personal taste and opinion. “Best” carries an inherent sense of impersonal objectivity. A judgement that exists outside the tastes of the person drawing up the list.

  13. I have read 49 of the books, and there are some I haven’t heard of before and may check out. To me this is a more interesting list than most of them.

  14. Steve Perry’s Matador series overlapped with my time doing martial arts, so that’s what I know him for. Hadn’t even been aware of the tie-ins.

  15. Kendall on September 1, 2018 at 9:57 pm said:

    Of course, then I see things like the guy who commented on the post I linked to, who said he stopped reading the list when he saw a particular book wasn’t on the list. And I think, “Le Sigh.” ?

    In order to see that a book wasn’t on the list, he must have reached the end of the list. So, he stopped reading when he reached the end…

    Funny thing. So did I. 🙂

    I’d even venture to guess that nobody read farther in the list than this guy did! 😀

  16. @Xtifr: Sadly, no; the list was alphabetized by, IIRC, title. So he hit the Cs, didn’t see the title, and wrote off the list. But he jumped to the bottom to comment! 😛 Laudable of him, don’t you think? 😉

  17. @Kendall: I don’t think Lord Darcy was particularly derived from Holmes; to start with, he’s civil (and a solid officer rather than a genius), and the character beside him (sorcerer Sean O’Lochlainn(sp?)) isn’t there just to have things explained to him. (Note that Too Many Magicians has a nod to Rex Stout — but it’s just a nod in a book full of them, as noted here within the last year.) ISTR that Darcy, like Lije Bailey, was an answer to Campbell’s claim that fair mysteries weren’t possible in genre.

    @Dr. Strangelobe: …Epsom steeplechase course. [Snortle]

  18. @Chip Hitchcock: Thanks. I’m showing how unfamiliar I am with Sherlock Holmes, eh. 😉 ::blush::

  19. @Chip Hitchcock: Oh, Lord Darcy was most definitely an homage to Holmes. Garrett was very open about that. He was a big fan of Holmes, and was angry about how the movies portrayed Watson as a bumbling fool who was just there to listen to Holmes and say “wow!” In the stories, he was a lot more than that. So he played up the competence of Darcy’s “Watson” a bit–but the original Watson was an intelligent and skilled doctor with military experience, so it wasn’t really played up that much.

  20. @Xtifr: do you know where Garrett made that statement? I see that Wikipedia claims that Darcy resembles Holmes, without reference; the only resemblance I see is that they’re both above average perception, which ISTM is necessary for anyone who is a detective first and a man of action only when necessary (e.g., not Travis McGee). Darcy is a deferential man of hierarchy throughout rather than an independent cuss; while the movies may have made Watson less intelligent, O’Lochlainn never sits dumbfounded while Darcy extracts pounds of information from an ounce of a clue (cf Holmes’s analysis of Watson’s brother’s(?) watch). I see Wikipedia also compares Darcy/O’Lochlainn to Wimsey/Bunter, which is more plausible as Bunter (like O’Lochlainn) does the forensic lab work in that partnership; OTOH, while Sean is not a blueblood, he’s also not responsible for seeing that Darcy is properly dressed each morning.

  21. @Chip Hitchcock: Several times, it comes up (I believe from O’Lochlainn) that Darcy seems to be able to figure things out from minimal facts by skipping the intervening steps. Not jumping to conclusions, but more like intuiting things, because he always figures out the explanation and the results always match later-discovered facts. He theorizes that Darcy does this by a magical talent that is just impossible to detect as such. Darcy scoffs each time it comes up. But yes, Darcy regularly figures things out that stump O’Lochlainn, based on the minimal evidence and knowledge of the people involved. The books regularly have scenes with Darcy explaining in response to O’Lochlainn’s “but how could you know that, my lord?” IIRC.

    That’s my recollection from listening to all the audiobooks in the past year or two, at least. This isn’t definitive proof, of course. I’d originally just figured, smart detective that can figure things out on clues that leave others stumped, educated sidekick, must be a Holmes-Watson thing – but, unfamiliar with the source and not having read interviews with Garrett, I really had no idea.

    Hell, he even has a Mycroft-style cousin in one or two of the books. I am unfamiliar with the original character, but Wikipedia describes Mycroft thusly:

    He is described as having abilities of deduction and knowledge exceeding even those of his brother, though their practical use is limited by his poor physique and dislike of fieldwork.

    This sounds a lot like Darcy’s cousin, though ISTM Darcy’s put on equal footing with his cousin (with some rivalry thrown in).


  22. “von Horst-Shea process” was one that sneaked up on me, leaving me amazed and appalled in equal measure (fortunately, I had read Lewis Thomas’ discussion of that poem a few decades earlier, and it had stuck in my mind). The bridge references that the Wikipedia article mentioned went over my head, but the Man from Uncle stuff I caught.

  23. Chip Hitchcock on September 3, 2018 at 7:21 am said:

    @Xtifr: do you know where Garrett made that statement?

    Do you mean, is it written down somewhere? I have no idea. But I knew him fairly well–I was his page in the SCA. As I said, he was quite open about it, and was more than happy to explain the connections if someone asked. All these years later, I don’t necessarily remember all the details of the homage, but there were quite a number of them.

    As Kendall mentions, there was even a Mycroft analogue.

    Garrett is the reason I first read the Holmes canon. His copy, in fact. At his insistence. He was quite a fan.

  24. @Xtifr: that’s certainly evidence of what he was thinking. I think what he came up with was not strongly connected — ISTM that the waspish intellect is the clearest signifier of Holmes — but he apparently saw someone very different.

    @Kendall: I had not remembered Darcy dumbfounding O’Lochlainn in that fashion, despite rereading Too Many Magicians recently. I would think that magical intuition is cheating, or at least lazy writing (versus Doyle’s laying out deductive chains in considerable detail) in the framework of a fair mystery, but I’m not enough of a mystery fanatic to claim my reading is the only one.

  25. I think he may be more Holmes-like in the short stories. Too Many Magicians was intended to also be an homage to Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe. (“Too Many X” was a title Stout used several times: Too Many Cooks, Too Many Women, Too Many Clients.)

    In any case, as far as I recall, Watson really doesn’t spend much time going “oh my god, that’s astounding, Holmes” in the original stories. Once or twice in early stories, but after that, it was more likely to be other people saying that. Watson was more like, “yeah, he does that.” 🙂

    I dunno. It’s been a while since I read either one, but it seemed pretty obvious to me at the time. But then I also knew it was supposed to be when I started, which may have skewed my perceptions.

  26. @Chip Hitchcock: Well, as I said, Darcy scoffed at that idea. This may have been Garrett messing with people. 😉

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