Pixel Scroll 9/14/20 Istanscroll Not Constantipixel

(1) MIYAZAKI EXHIBIT WILL KEYNOTE ACADEMY MUSEUM OPENING. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles announced the work of Hayao Miyazaki will feature in its inaugural temporary exhibition when the museum opens to the public on April 30, 2021. It will be the first North American museum retrospective dedicated to the acclaimed artist and his work.

With more than 300 objects, the exhibition will explore each of Miyazaki’s animated feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and the Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away (2001). Visitors will travel through the filmmaker’s six-decade career through a dynamic presentation of original imageboards, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, posters, and cels, including pieces on public view outside of Japan for the first time, as well as large-scale projections of film clips and immersive environments.

From there, visitors move into the Creating Worlds gallery, a space that evokes Miyazaki’s fantastical worlds. The gallery will capture the contrast between beautiful, natural, and peaceful environments and the industrial settings dominated by labor and technology that are also often featured in Miyazaki’s movies. Visitors can view concept sketches and backgrounds that offer insight into Miyazaki’s imagination, including an original imageboard from his first Ghibli film Castle in the Sky (1986) and artworks from subsequent Ghibli features. Other areas explore Miyazaki’s fascination with complex vertical structures, such as the famous bathhouse in Spirited Away, and the underwater world of Ponyo (2008), as well as Miyazaki’s interest in flying, as seen in Porco Rosso (1992) and The Wind Rises (2013). As a highlight of the exhibition, visitors can enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation in the Sky View installation, addressing another frequent motif in Miyazaki’s films: the desire to slow down, reflect, and dream.

Next, the Transformations gallery affords visitors the opportunity to explore the astonishing metamorphoses often experienced by both characters and settings in Miyazaki’s films. In Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), for example, the protagonists go through physical transformations that reflect their emotional states, while in other films, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki creates mysterious and imaginative ways to visualize the changes that humans impose on the natural world.

Visitors then enter the exhibition’s final gallery Magical Forest through its Mother Tree installation. Standing at the threshold between dream and reality, colossal, mystical trees in many of Miyazaki’s films represent a connection or gateway to another world. After passing through the installation, visitors encounter the spirits of the forest, such as the playful Kodama from Princess Mononoke, through an array of storyboards and mixed media. Visitors exit through another transitional corridor, which guides them from the imaginative worlds of Hayao Miyazaki back into the museum.

(2) ATTEND A VIRTUAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE EXPANSE. Register here for the opportunity to hear news about the ninth and final book in the Expanse series on Wednesday at 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT. Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will be answering questions following the announcement.

(3) NEW HONOR FOR ATWOOD. Margaret Atwood has won the Dayton literary peace prize reports The Guardian.

Margaret Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes The Handmaid’s Tale, a depiction of a nightmarish totalitarian future for the US, has won a lifetime achievement award that celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.

The Canadian writer will receive the Richard C Holbrooke distinguished achievement award, officials of the Dayton literary peace prize officials announced on Monday. The award is named for the late American diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city.

Atwood, a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays and comic books , has in recent years drawn a new round of acclaim for her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after a theocratic group overthrow the US government. The television adaptation, starring Elisabeth Moss, saw the book return to bestseller lists around the world, while some readers saw similarities to the leadership of authoritarian Gilead in the rise of US president Donald Trump…

(4) SLF STILL TAKING GULLIVER GRANT APPLICATIONS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking submissions for the Gulliver Travel Research Grant until September 30. Full guidelines on the website.

The SLF Gulliver Travel grants are awarded annually, since 2004, to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. They are not currently available for academic research, though we hope to offer such funds in the future. We are currently offering one $1000 travel grant annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.

(5) HOME (DELIVERED) COOKING. “Why did it take so long?” you’ll ask. Scott Edelman invites listeners to down dumplings with the legendary Irene Vartanoff in Episode 127 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Irene Vartanoff

This episode, I was able to totally fulfill the mandate of this podcast, and lose myself in a meal as I sat across a table face to face with a creator. That’s because I’ve known this guest for 46 years plus a few months — and have been in constant conversation with her for almost all of that time. She’s been a part of comics and science fiction fandom several years longer than I have, and worked in comics longer than I did, too. When I started at Marvel Comics on June 24, 1974, she’d ready been there for a couple of months. She has many fascinating things to say about her time in comics — and her decades working in the romance field as well.

I’m of course talking about my wife — Irene Vartanoff — or as she was dubbed by Stan Lee — “Impish” Irene Vartanoff. Her novel Hollywood Superheroine — the final book in her comics-inspired Temporary Superheroine trilogy — was recently published, so this is the perfect time to have a chat about it all.

We discussed how she’d never have gotten into comics if not for her father’s cigar habit, what made a comic book reader become a comic book fan become a comic book professional, the “heartbreaking” advice given to her by Julie Schwartz during her teen visit to DC Comics, why her reputation as a famed letterhack meant she didn’t face the same sexism as other women in comics, what it was like working for Roy Thomas at Marvel and Paul Levitz at DC (and why she respected them both), how critiquing romance manuscripts for 25 years was like being at Marvel all over again, the secret origins of her Temporary Superheroine character, how politics changed Hollywood Superheroine, the final novel in her trilogy, why pantsing works better for her than plotting, the reason she decided to go the indie publishing route, and much more.

(6) LE GUIN DISCOVERY. Sean Joyce-Farley finds worlds of meaning in Ursula LeGuin’s revision to a passage The Left Hand of Darkness, as explained in a post for Library of America, “Are You There Ursula? It’s Me, Sean”.

Knight Library lies tucked into the west side of the University of Oregon campus, just by the cemetery: a dark four-story brick building. Inside, sunlight falls into the Paulson Reading Room through the tall windows at my back. Rigged up in a mask, I look like a harbinger of things to come—but it’s the fall of 2019, and I just have a dust allergy.

There are no pens in the Special Collections, and no water. UO students periodically approach the desk only to learn that they need to take a different staircase to get to the other second floor, which is somehow not connected to this second floor. I take in camera, laptop, notebook, pencil. Grey boxes with my name on them—literally, stuck on in post-its—neatly line the shelf behind the librarian’s desk. The first box is number 77; inside, folders three to five house the handwritten manuscript of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). I lift up the lid, and let the light in….

(7) GOT THAT RIGHT. “It’s Not Easy Being a BookTuber” on WIRED is an introduction to an episode of WIRED’s “Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy” podcast which has an interview with Daniel Greene, who makes his living reviewing sf and fantasy books on YouTube.  Greene discusses how he gets 20-30 requests from self-published authors to plug their books and how he has to keep reviewing bestsellers to satisfy YouTube’s algorithms.

Daniel Greene makes a full-time living off his YouTube channel, discussing fantasy authors such as Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and Jim Butcher. Talking about your favorite books all day might sound like a dream come true, but Greene says that building a successful channel is harder than people think.

“For a few years I was doing a video every day of the week, seven days a week, which was insane, while also being a software engineer,” Greene says in Episode 431 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I’m a workaholic.”

(8) MORE SAND. MovieWeb alerted readers to a French-langauge variant of last week’s Dune trailer with some additional shots.

While the majority of the Dune trailer is the same as the one that debuted a few days ago, this version is slightly shorter and has been restructured. The trailer is in French but, while you may not have much idea what they’re saying, there are a few new shots included, giving us a further look at the likes of Gurney Halleck, played by Josh Brolin, who is seen preparing for battle, as well as a little more of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides enduring the excruciating pain of the Gom Jabbar Test.


  • September 2000 — Twenty years ago this month, the online magazine Strange Horizons posted its first issue. It does short stories, poetry and reviews, essays, interviews, and other material as tickles its fancy. It was founded by writer and editor Mary Anne Mohanraj. Susan Marie Groppi who took over in 2004, won the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional in 2010 for her work as the Editor-in-Chief. Other editors have followed; the current one is Vanessa Rose Phin. Several of the stories first published here have been nominated for Hugos, Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” and Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s “The House Beyond Your Sky”. It was a finalist for the Best Website Hugo Award in two years, and for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine every year from 2013 through 2020. You can find it here.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 14, 1927 – Martin Caidin.  His Cyborg was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.  Thirty novels for us, half a dozen nonfiction books about rockets and Space travel; eighty fiction and nonfiction books all told, a thousand magazine articles; an authority on aviation and aerospace.  Restored to full airworthiness a 1936 Junkers Ju 52, toured extensively with her.  Flew with the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron (U.S. Air Force), honorary member of the Golden Knights parachute demonstration team (Army).  Twice won Aviation/Space Writers Ass’n Award for outstanding aviation author.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1931 – Ivan Klíma, 89.  Kafka Prize and Magnesia Litera award.  A Childhood in Terezin (in German, Theresienstadt; WW II holding ground for deportation to death camps e.g. Auschwitz; few survived) about his own experience.  Biography of Karel Capek (software won’t allow the diacritical mark over the showing it’s pronounced like ch in English church) translated into English, also memoir My Crazy Century.  Penguin Classics ed’n of R.U.R. has his introduction.  Three dozen other books.  [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1932 Joyce Taylor, 88. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.LE., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series. (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1936 Walter Koenig, 83. Best known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester (named in homage of that author and a certain novel) on Babylon 5Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there. (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1941 Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them on as Dr. Jeff Brenner.  He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1948 – Elizabeth Winthrop, 72.  Five dozen books, mostly children’s fiction.  Fisher Award (after Dorothy Canfield Fisher; adults choose master list, children vote) for The Castle in the Attic; it and two more ours.  Jane Addams Peace Prize for Counting on Grace.  Sarah Lawrence alumna.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1961 Justin Richards, 60. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certainly say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. There’s another nineteen novels written there.  And he had other series going as well including being one of the main scriptwriters for the Jago & Litefoot  Big Finish series, the characters being spin-offs from the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Wang Chiang”.  And then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.  (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1962 – Leigh Cunningham, 58.  Lawyer with three Master’s degrees.  Her Being Anti-Social (2013) a Best Indie Book.  Two novels for us.  Ranks Nineteen Eighty-four above The Sound and the Fury.  [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1964 – Lorie Ann Grover, 56.  Firstborn for us (Kirkus starred review); verse novels; board books; The Magic Cup with Howard Behar former president of Starbucks.  Illustrations: “I’m putting these up for fabbity publisher types to see my samples…. copyright…. Just ask me if you’d like to share them.” [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1972 Jenny T. Colgan, 48. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date with several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City. (CE) 
  • Born September 14, 1989 Jessica Brown Findlay, 31. She appeared as Beverly Penn in the film version of Mark Helprin‘s Winter’s Tale novel. She’s Lorelei in Victor Frankenstein, a modern take on that novel, and plays Lenina Crowne in the current Brave New World series on Peacock. Finally I’ll note she was Abi Khan on Black Mirrior’s “Fifteen Million Merits“ episode. (CE) 
  • Born September 14, 1986 – Rick Griffin, 44.  Co-authored, and illustrates, the Hayven Celestia universe, where the admirable geroo and various others suffer under the wicked krakun.  Recently Tales of Hayven Celestia (in Gre7g Luterman’s name, the is silent).  Four more covers.  [JH]


(12) SOMETHING’S IN THE AIR. “Astronomers see possible hints of life in Venus’s clouds” reports Yahoo! News.

Astronomers have found a potential sign of life high in the atmosphere of neighboring Venus: hints there may be bizarre microbes living in the sulfuric acid-laden clouds of the hothouse planet.

Two telescopes in Hawaii and Chile spotted in the thick Venusian clouds the chemical signature of phosphine, a noxious gas that on Earth is only associated with life, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature Astronomy.

Several outside experts — and the study authors themselves — agreed this is tantalizing but said it is far from the first proof of life on another planet. They said it doesn’t satisfy the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” standard established by the late Carl Sagan, who speculated about the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus in 1967.

“It’s not a smoking gun,” said study co-author David Clements, an Imperial College of London astrophysicist. “It’s not even gunshot residue on the hands of your prime suspect, but there is a distinct whiff of cordite in the air which may be suggesting something.”

(13) VENUS IF YOU WILL. By an interesting coincidence, on a day when a paper has been released indicating the discovery of a biosignature in Venus’ atmosphere, James Davis Nicoll offers “Five Science Fiction Books Featuring Floating Habitats” a Tor.com.

Venus is so inconsiderate. It presents itself as a sister world, one that would seem at first glance to be very Earth-like, but… on closer examination it’s utterly hostile to life as we know it. Surface conditions would be extremely challenging for terrestrial life, what with the toxic atmosphere, crushing pressures, and blast-furnace-like temperatures.

That’s at the surface, however. Just fifty kilometers above the surface, there is a region with terrestrial pressures and temperatures, a veritable garden of Eden where an unprotected human would not be almost immediately incinerated but instead would expire painfully (in just a few minutes) due to the lack of free oxygen and the prevalence of toxic gases….

(14) STAR WARS MUSICS HELPS CELEBRATE MILESTONE. [Item by David Doering.] Nice to see the Tabernacle Choir chose Star Wars to celebrate their 110 years of recordings:

Legendary film composer John Williams wrote the music for each of the nine Star Wars saga films, spanning more than forty years from 1977 to 2019. For Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Williams composed “Duel of the Fates” for orchestra and chorus, accompanying a climactic lightsaber duel. The words are a fragment of an ancient Welsh poem that Williams had translated into Sanskrit—he then rearranged the syllables himself to make the text essentially meaningless, while still retaining a forceful chant-like power. He intended the choral singing itself to give the scene an explicitly religious feel, as if it were a ceremony of some kind. “Duel of the Fates” went on to become a defining musical feature of the prequel trilogy, a symbol of the saga’s broad focus on the cosmic struggle between darkness and light.

The choir music was also used to demonstrate the first stereophonic recording made back in 1940.

Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.

(15) GOING FOR THE JUGULAR, WITH A KICK TO THE GROIN. In a post for This Way To Texas, “Libertarians nominate Lou Antonelli for Congress”, Antonelli spotlighted the political battles he’s been waging.

…The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday, Sept. 5, rejected a Republican attempt to remove 44 Libertarians from the November ballot, according to the Texas Tribune.

Groups affiliated with both major parties have gone to court in recent weeks to remove from the ballot non-major-party candidates perceived to be a threat. In general, Libertarians are believed to peel votes away from Republicans, while the Green Party is thought to siphon votes from Democrats.

The GOP sued because the Libertarians didn’t pay their filing fees. But the state Supreme Court said Republicans missed the deadline to kick them off the ballot.

Antonelli, running in the 4th District, is one of the candidates the Republicans sought to block.

He’s trying to get Republican nominee Pat Fallon to join him in a public forum or debate, meantime trying to score off Fallon for not living in the district he wants to represent.

… Fallon lives in the Denton county portion of Prosper, an outer suburb of Dallas, which is just outside the 4th’s boundaries.

Even Wikipedia, the largest and most popular general reference work on the World Wide Web, notes Fallon’s position: “Fallon’s state senate district includes much of the eastern portion of the congressional district.”

However, regarding the 4th Congressional District, Wikipedia continues: “While candidates for the House are only required to live in the state they wish to represent, longstanding convention holds that they live either in or reasonably close to the district they wish to represent.”

The Libertarian Party candidate in the election, Antonelli said “A number of candidates who lost to Fallon in the district convention seem to feel his victory was due to arm-twisting by himself and Senator Ted Cruz, and they resent it and have told me so,”

“The residency requirement for the U.S. House is in the Constitution, so Fallon has done nothing illegal,” said Antonelli. “But Texas deserves congressional leaders who do better than just skirt the law.”

Antonelli is doing his best to leave no stone unthrown.

(16) THE UNSEEN HAND – AND EVERYTHING ELSE. The Cut introduces “The Designer Who Sent Ghost Models Down the Runway”.

While stuck inside during quarantine this past spring, designer Anifa Mvuemba began playing around with 3-D technology. Soon, an idea struck: What if she held a virtual fashion show in which her feminine, curve-friendly designs glided along on invisible models? She’d been working on her line Hanifa for eight years but had never held a runway show — maybe it was time.

On May 22, she premiered the collection, called Pink Label Congo, on Instagram Live. The digital runway show featured ghostlike 3-D figures strutting sinuously down the runway in the collection.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Using Cuts as a Visual Effect” on Vimeo, David F. Sandberg explains how cutting can be just as effective a way to produce special effects as more expensive CGI. WARNING: Many scenes from gory horror movies.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Contrarius, James Davis Nicoll, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

71 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/14/20 Istanscroll Not Constantipixel

  1. 14) Mike Glyer says:

    Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.

    Oh yes, yes they are. Add in shipping plus risks of breakage and my policy is CDs over LPs always.

    Now Playing: Give My Love To Kevin (acoustic) by The Wedding Present

  2. (7) GOT THAT RIGHT.

    Blog and website reviews of books have become increasingly useless in recent years because the reviewers are doing it for pay or for free books, and therefore are not willing to say anything negative for fear of losing their income/perks. It’s sad but not surprising to hear that video reviews have the same problem.

    It makes me value the honest opinions of the commenters here even more.

  3. OGH says Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.

    Before all local small retail stopped with The Pandemic, Bullmoose, our local media chain, was making more off vinyl than CDs but DVDs were also outselling CDs too. But their average piece of vinyl was thirty dollars according to the manager and their average CD was under ten dollars.

    (An aside: I’m missing local retail. Hell I’m missing getting outside and just going walkabout. And coffeeshops too.)

    I do streaming only these days as it’s just more convenient. So far, I’ve found everything I listen to on Apple Mudic save some very obscure bands.

    Now playing: Warren Zevon’s “Numb as a Statue” which fits my mood today.

  4. Now I know the world is ending — I can’t get onto the Amazon website on my laptop right now. The End Is Nigh!

  5. @JJ (7)–I’m always honest in my reviews. I try to select for books I’m going to actually enjoy, but if I don’t, I’m going to say so, and say why.

    What they get for giving me a free book is that I’ll probably review it, without guilt. Even negative reviews help them more than no reviews. I’m not going to say I like something I don’t. Currently reading something that unless something changes quickly, is going to merit explicit mention of the fact that the only thing saving it from hitting the far wall with great force is that it’s an ebook.

  6. David Doering: Thanks for that Mormon Tabernacle Choir clip, which I thought was very cool.

  7. Lis Carey: I’m always honest in my reviews

    I know you are, Lis, and I really appreciate it.

    When I check Amazon reviews for a book, I look first at the 3-stars and then at the 2- and 4-stars. (5-stars are generally what I call “Family and Friends” reviews, and 1-stars are generally hate reviews which may or may not actually reflect the quality of the work, so I tend not to give either any weight.)

    I noticed some time ago on Amazon that the verbiage on a lot of reviews doesn’t seem to align with the corresponding star rating. For instance, there’ll be a 3-star rating, but the “review” says only good things and not what they didn’t like (and frequently it will include the “free book in exchange for a review” verbiage). I decided that this is a result of the reviewer being more honest with their star rating, but not being willing to put anything negative in their review for fear of losing access to free books.

  8. JJ says I noticed some time ago on Amazon that the verbiage on a lot of reviews doesn’t seem to align with the corresponding star rating. For instance, there’ll be a 3-star rating, but the “review” says only good things and not what they didn’t like (and frequently it will include the “free book in exchange for a review” verbiage). I decided that this is a result of the reviewer being more honest with their star rating, but not being willing to put anything negative in their review for fear of losing access to free books.

    That language is apparently the result of the belief among certain publishers that the US federal government, the FTC to be exact, requires that a reviewer who gets product in exchange for a review must note that in the review. It may be true but I’ve refused to do it on Green Man Review, period.

    I’ve only had one publisher insist upon it and I told their publicist that we wouldn’t do it. As we get far more books and CDs than we can possibly review, it was no big deal if they didn’t send anything. We do however review every Folkmanis puppet we get.

    Now reading: Gareth Powell’s Ack-Ack Macaque trilogy

  9. Cat Eldridge: It may be true but I’ve refused to do it on Green Man Review, period.

    Better watch out, or you’ll be getting a MAGA hat from the Trump campaign as a reward.

  10. Typo spotted:

    (And thanks for the Title Credit!)

    @Paul Weimer,
    I tried for a filk, but didn’t manage to get any further than the Pixel Scroll Title.

    Why did Constantipixel get the works?
    That’s nobody’s business but the Lurks(-ers)

    Nope, doesn’t quite work.

  11. Mike Glyer says to me: Better watch out, or you’ll be getting a MAGA hat from the Trump campaign as a reward.

    Eh? I read the FTC regs. It was a proposed rule that never got enacted. On such matters, I’m a small l libertarian and think that such imposed socially created rules are not to be followed. I have enough rules I have to live by without adding in stupid ones.

  12. Back in the days of Gamergate I witnessed people making two arguments:

    To review something you’ve paid for is unethical.
    To review something you received for free is unethical.

    Both parts of their “ethics in gaming journalism” pose. (They also had “to put your opinion in the review is unethical” and “to give a game less than 8/10 is unethical” and “to review a game by someone you’ve met is unethical” at which point you might wonder if their ultimate goal was to prevent professional game reviews entirely. The answer isn’t yes, but only because the whole thing really had very little to do with journalism at all.)

    A blog/fashion journalism website I follow stopped accepting free items for review after several of the brands had tantrums over the reviews, as the brands felt that sending a free product should have purchased them advertising instead of the honest and thorough review they got. Now the site gives all their reviewers a budget for purchasing items. (Sometimes there are still tantrums, though. Some small business owners take criticisms very hard.)

    As far as video reviews go, there are a few determinedly honest reviewers out there, but it’s a tricky thing. I’m always wary of clicking on unknown reviewers when the video is obviously negative because so often it ends up being whinging about political correctness, or is just negative for negativity’s sake which I find tedious (also, last time I did that I got a dude who slagged off puns in a totally serious manner and not the traditional groaning appreciation, which I cannot forgive in a reviewer because we clearly do not have similar tastes)…

    I haven’t found a great, honest, purely-or-even-mostly-books video reviewer to my taste yet. Dominic Noble does both books and film but his main focus is on adaptations, so there’s not a lot of just-books content or recent books. Films and television content is easier to find, at least for me.

    One of my favourite video reviewers is The Bard of BardicBroadcasts, but he only really reviews models and other merchandise, collector’s editions and so on. (He calls them cracking unboxings.) Unfortunately he’s not exactly prolific, usually months between videos. (Also, his “Why Heroquest is so Great” video, although not precisely a review, is one of my favourites on all of youtube.)

  13. Soon Lee: Thanks for the correction. As your reward, would you rather appertain yourself your favorite beverage, or have a chance to wear Cat’s new hat?

  14. That Duel of the Fates video makes me wistful. A year and a half ago, the Houston Symphony did a pops concert of John Williams music. Last year, they announced they were doing another one this year…but with a chorus! Well, what prominent Williams piece couldn’t be in the first concert because of the chorus?

    I was really looking forward to hearing it done live, and then the concert didn’t happen.

  15. @Mike,

    I’d much rather risk alcohol poisoning!

    At the weekend, we had a bunch of not very smart people protesting against lockdown* and pictured in the article is a person wearing a MAGA hat. I really don’t know what that has to do with the political situation in New Zealand, but there you are.

    *We are not currently under lockdown, but have restrictions against mass gatherings, but clearly that has gone over the heads of some of my fellow citizens. If we get a spike in COVID19 cases, it’ll be from this sort of thing.

  16. @10) Moontrap was a serviceable “it’s 11:00 at night and nothing else’s on” movie back when it was possible for there to be nothing else on. It comes by its 28% honestly.

    @10bis) If I may be pedantic: “Weng-Chiang”. It’s coming up soon on my Blu-ray schedule and I’m looking forward to it.

    @15) Shades of Monty Python’s Election Night sketch.

  17. Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.

    I refuse to get on board the vinyl buying trend. It’s expensive, heavy (I have a load of techno vinyl from my clubbing days and it’s a real pain to move around) and the sound quality isn’t necessarily very good.

    On the expense, a jazz LP will probably set me back about a day’s wages in Turkey.

    I’m quite happy buying CDs, ripping a FLAC copy and listening to it anyway using my Plex server. No Spotify subscription either.

  18. I’d feel weird reviewing something I’d been given but I don’t think it is a problem in general. People who review a lot of books provide a useful service for everybody and free books are a minor reward really.

    (8) The majority of next weeks Pixel Scroll will be the same but slightly shorter and in French.

    (15) At some point, he will literally jump over a shark

  19. Camestros Felapton: I’d feel weird reviewing something I’d been given but I don’t think it is a problem in general. People who review a lot of books provide a useful service for everybody and free books are a minor reward really.

    The problem isn’t that free books are a major reward. The problem is that a lot of reviewers do it for the free books or for compensation, and will hold back from giving honest negative reviews because they think it might cause their flow of free books/compensation to stop.

    I periodically request ARCs from NetGalley, but they’re generally books I’m pretty sure that I’m going to like based on the synopsis and/or the author. And generally, that’s the case, but in the latest instance, the synopsis wasn’t honest about the book’s content and I really hated it. So I gave muted feedback to the author on NetGalley, but posted my full honest opinion here, and if I post a review on Amazon, it will be honest there, too.

    But the thing is, I am able to get almost all new SFF releases through my library, and the few that I can’t get that way, I can afford to buy in e-book. So I don’t have to worry about getting the flow of free books cut off, and I have a day job which pays reasonably well, so I don’t rely on my reviews for compensation.

    I can sympathize with the people who do hagioreviews because they want to keep the free books/compensation coming — but they made doing the Hugo Review Roundups just too damn hard to do. I had to read at least 7 or 8 “reviews” for every one that was actually worth linking to (and if it hadn’t been for Steve J. Wright (no relation), the ratio would have been a lot worse). And anytime I want to read genuine reviews for a book, I have to do a lot of searching to find a few that are meaningful.

    So I have a fair bit of resentment toward all of the people posting “reviews” that are instead just advertising which will continue to get them free books or ad revenue or other compensation.

  20. Re: the title: given this crowd, I’m surprised nobody has yet pointed out that “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” is actually wrong. It was called Istanbul, or something close to it, before the Turkish conquest in 1453; the name comes from a Greek phrase meaning “to the city.”

    For whatever reason TMBG did not correct it when they performed it as they did with “Where Does the Sun Shine” but The Breeders, of all bands, did a song about its actual etymology:

  21. @Soon Lee:

    Why did Constantipixel get the works?
    That’s nobody’s business but the Lurks(-ers)

    I was toying with something like

    “Why did Constantipixel get the works?
    That’s the business of the New-Wave Young Turks”

  22. Mickelgard has had many names in simultaneous use, but I think the inspiration for the song was the end of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of the Turkish Republic, when “Constantinople” became no longer an acceptable address for incoming mail and telegrams.

  23. @JJ I suspect that the reason for those laudatory-text three-star reviews is that you’re far from the only person who reads 3- and 4-star reviews but skips the 5-star ones. If someone’s motivation is to have their words read, they have an incentive to game the system that way. (As noted, there’s not much money in posting reviews to Amazon.)

    Does anyone find “more than X 5-star reviews on Goodreads” to be an incentive to buy a book?

  24. In sadly unsurprising disappointments, Rowling has a new book out – though this commentary identifies it as genre of a sort:


    J.K. Rowling’s new book imagines a fantasy world where she is right about trans people

    EDINBURGH, UK – Author J.K. Rowling, who has previously dreamt up a world of wizards and magic in the Harry Potter series, has stretched the bounds of imagination in order to conjure up a new fantastical universe in which her toxic opinions on trans people have any basis in logic.

    The novel in question, Troubled Blood, was written under her pen name Robert Galibraith and is 900 pages long due to the amount of rhetorical somersaults required to achieve the ambitious goal of depicting such an impossible setting.

    [ … ]

  25. given the current discussion:

    Why did Constantipixel get the works?
    That’s part of the business – just the perks

  26. @ Christian Brunchen

    In sadly unsurprising disappointments, Rowling has a new book out – though this commentary identifies it as genre of a sort:

    In a bizarre twist, Rowling has written that book under a male pseudonym.

  27. @Soon Lee

    . . . and pictured in the article is a person wearing a MAGA hat. I really don’t know what that has to do with the political situation in New Zealand . . .

    It is explained in a photo of a protestor’s sign, further down in the article: “Make Aotearoa Great Again” — Aotearoa being the Maori name for New Zealand.

  28. For me, a review copy means they will likely get a review. Granted, there are books that fall into “Meh” land that I don’t review, but if I really don’t like a book, I will say so. I mostly manage to read books I like but sometimes an author and premise just don’t play out. A review I wrote this weekend (not naming names, because that’s not the point and its not coming out for a few months and the book itself is not out yet) was a major disappointment for me, and I said so in the review.
    I take no pleasure in telling people about books I did not enjoy. I WANT to like your book and if I love your book, I will trumpet it to the skies. If I do not, I will still say so but won’t be so vocal – I publicize my negative reviews far less enthusiastically than I do positive ones.

  29. I hate writing bad reviews. Reviews where I genuinely felt I wasted my time reading the book. It’s not fun and makes me feel icky.

    It’s a lot more fun where I largely enjoyed the read, want to share and point out what I liked and in some cases where it could have gone better. Those are fun.

  30. Re ‘ethics in journalism’, of which it’s clear the gamergaters understood nothing:
    My brother and I were both computer journalists in the 90s. Prior to that we’d developed games together. By the 90s, games were turning into big business, and my brother was editor of one of the UK’s most successful game magazines for one of the most popular platforms. At the time, roughly half a magazine’s revenue came from advertising, the rest from the cover price.
    It’s certainly true that the bigger games publishers would court the journalists: booze-ups, launch parties, fancy dinners, etc. The most extreme I remember was my brother and a bunch of other journalists being flown out from the UK to Las Vegas for the launch of The Godfather III game. So yeah, the games were free, and to the reviewers, and an insignificant cost to the publishers.
    And yet the magazine was fiercely independent. There was a long-anticipated and much-hyped game by one of the magazine’s biggest advertisers. My brother’s magazine published a damning review, and the game publisher was very unhappy. Things got worse the following month, when the mag printed a reader’s letter talking about how disappointing the game was. A staff writer pulled out a particularly provocative quote from the letter and used it (as was the magazine’s style’ as a heading about the letter. The game publisher was furious, threatened to pull their advertising (which would have been a lot of money across all of the magazine publisher’s games magazines), and demanded that my brother be fired. Fortunately, the magazine publisher stood behind him. And they retained the adverts.

  31. I do include the “I received a free copy of this book book and am reviewing it voluntarily,” because it’s both true, and no skin off my nose to included it.

    And it just feels especially honest and necessary when I’ve accepted an audiobook for review from a favorite narrator, and I know I get lots of them from her because her voice and narration style make me feel good and more inclined to like what she sends me.

  32. I didn’t mind getting review copies via the newspaper. That put an intermediary between me and their business. I didn’t mind getting comped to write about shows, either. That didn’t take any money out of their business. Two entirely different functions which I thought about two entirely different ways. I’m still okay with them both.

    I am perfectly aware both decisions benefitted me.

    In other news, many thanks to those who convinced me that not only was it trashier to not hang fly strips in a kitchen that needed them than it was to hang them in the first place, but that it was the wrong kind of trashy!

    So I put one up. It’s slowly accumulating the corpses of my enemies. That feels good. I think I’m ready to serve in office.

    But here’s what I haven’t figured out: How do you prepare them?

    I know (in theory) how to roast grasshoppers and boil crawfish, and have (in theory) eaten rattlesnake, but this has me stumped.

    The only suggestion I’ve seen so far that made any sense was to hang the strips horizontally inside an oven and heat at 250 degrees with a cookie sheet underneath. When the adhesive gives way, the fly is well-done*.

    But what about the ones on the other side?

    [At this point, the author appears to lose touch with reality, to the extent he was in touch to begin with. –Editor’s Note]

    Seriously, how do the ones on the other side prepare their alternative post-apocalyptic protein sources?

    Just because our clan has sworn a past-death vengenance on their warlord and CEO, and they tried a hostile takeover with mortar fire last year, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from their experiences with the locusts.

    *I’m not going to eat even a medium-well fly, let alone one rare. It’s bad enough when I slap a mosquito too late for both of us.

  33. @Rob Thornton
    In a further twist, that pseudonym is part of the same name as a controversial psychiatrist who, among other ethically sketchy experiments with electrodes to brains, reported a conversion therapy for homosexuality using aforementioned implanted electrodes to brains.

    Robert Galbraith Heath

  34. When I was doing a music zine in the early 90s, working between the poles of honesty, being friendly, and maintaining relationships between artists/distributors/labels was always on my mind. I never got the hang of the balance, so one day I criticized the wrong band at the wrong time in an interview with the local alternative paper and got thoroughly scorched as a result.

    So criticism of any sort can be a tough row to hoe, especially when you don’t have all of the spoons as well as social and perceptual tools that are needed to stay afloat in the rough sea of creative commercial struggle.

  35. Paul – you’re doing the rest of us a service with your reviews. I’m sorry you have to write reviews of bad books.

    Vicki Rosenweig:
    Does anyone find “more than X 5-star reviews on Goodreads” to be an incentive to buy a book?

    I find it a reason to be very suspicious and look at the description, then sample the lower starred reviews.
    If all they can say is they’ve got a lot of review, but not why or not much about what the book is about I walk away.

    And it’s why I’m seriously considering migrating to Kobo and/or Google Books because the self published stuff at Amazon is drowning out the published work with good editing and editorial contributions.

  36. I see Lou Antonelli’s found another election to lose. He reminds me of the former titans of industry who retired to my neighborhood in Florida. They would raise hell all the time in the HOA and write ferocious group emails about the tennis courts, drainage, speedbumps and driveway weeds. Everything was a battle with them.

    But I do think this is a good battle to pick. Every Congressional race should have third-party candidates running.

  37. @Bravo agreed. Writing a review where I disliked the book is like pulling teeth for me.

    I have a little different take on that, I guess–I don’t mind writing bad reviews (and I don’t get any freebies at all; everything I review is something I bought. I’ve had a couple of offers for freebies from self-pubbed authors, but I don’t have time for anything other than my own TBR) because I like drilling down into a book and figuring out exactly why I like or don’t like it. I figure most authors are smart enough (or should be smart enough) not to read their reviews if they can’t handle bad ones.

  38. I give out very few five star reviews, and when I do, it’s because I really liked it, enjoyed it, felt good about it, with a mostly happy disregard for whether anyone else will feel the same way. Those books are a treat.

    I have occasionally patiently explained to someone that my three- or four-star review is a Good Thing for them, because it shows that some of the positive reviews are coming from real readers, not just family and friends.

  39. John Hertz responds by carrier pigeon:

    I think it’s worth noting that “Istanbul” (J. Kennedy, N. Simon) was written in 1953, the 500th anniversary year of Constantinople’s falling.

    I also commend to you the Jack Benny radio program of 21 February 1954.

  40. @Carrier Pigeon

    I also commend to you the Jack Benny radio program of 21 February 1954.

    And why, pray tell, is that? Does Clarence “Ducky” Nash do a guest voice appearance? Is the script by Berthold Brecht? Did Dave Brubeck do the music, in 11/16 time? Did Orson Welles burst in during taping to talk about Paul Masson wine? Did Benny thrash his violin into splinters and take up the hammer dulcimer? So many possibilities . . .

  41. @ reviewing in general:

    In pre-Amazon and internet days, “book reviewer” was a job category, or at least a description of someone who did it on a professional basis**. (Not that there was ever much money in it.) And the books were always supplied by the publishers rather than purchased. And selling one’s review copies as a significant income-generator (about which I used to hear with some frequency) is certainly no longer a factor–ARCs (advance review copies) have near-zero resale value (Half-Price Books will not accept them), and recently I’m seeing mostly e-ARCs in any case.

    **Yes there were amateur reviewers writing for fanzines, but that was a niche activity.

    I started reviewing in 1978, and even when I was writing on assignment, there was a certain amount of negotiation with my editors as to what titles I would take on. When I started at Locus, the deal was that I reviewed only what I wanted to (though Charles felt free to nudge me into looking at a book), and that meant a book I was willing to finish. Life is too short to wade through a book that is not delivering some degree of enjoyment or interest, and I get nothing out of writing a careful explanation of why Book X failed to please me and might not please some other reader–especially when some of those other readers will like the book just fine.

    So: My reviews are not consumer-advice efforts but accounts of my reactions to books and reflections on their place in our genre. I don’t assign stars and I am uncomfortable with X-best lists or rankings. And book reviewing, at least as I practice it, is a different activity from product reviewing, of which I did a fair amount in the 1990s–computer gear and software, which I was expected to put through its paces and report on my findings. At the same time, I was reviewing recordings for a guitar magazine, and there the job was pretty much the same as for books: what was this performance like, how skillful was it, how did it affect me, how did it fit into the musical landscape and history?

    In my music and book reviewing experience, there has always been more “product” than time to absorb and write about it, and only so much page-space for the reviews anyway, so the triage process has always been severe. For every book I review, there are many I don’t–not because they are bad, but because they don’t engage me sufficiently or quickly enough, or because I can tell immediately that I’m not going to find them appealing. (I’m not naming names, but there are wildly popular titles and authors I find quite unappealing and have set aside in a very few minutes. Life’s too short and I’m too old and in any case I really do know something about art and what I like.)

    My job is to report on my reactions and understandings. Every review is a kind of recommendation. I won’t elaborate on what I don’t like, though I have indicated what categories I generally find uninteresting–horror, commercial fantasy, and routine military SF, for example. And then I run across a string of mil-SF titles that grab me (Linda Nagata, Greg Bear) or horror in SF/F drag (Charles Stross) and have to explain myself to myself. That explaining is the heart of reviewing.

  42. There’s supposed to be a footnote asterisk on that second paragraph, but I can’t make it stick. Drat.

    And now my entire post has vanished.

  43. I tend to look at the curve of reviews on Goodreads and then apply a highly sophisticated heuristic. Sometimes I read a few 5 star reviews and a few 1/2 star reviews. Sometimes I read some 3/4 star reviews. Sometimes I do an interpretive dance while skyclad and hope the neighbors are out of town.

    I think a coffee warning should have gone in there someplace.

    More seriously, a book with over 1000 reviews (give or take a couple hundred) that are mostly 4/5 stars that also has a strong elevator pitch is pretty easy to buy without reading a ton of reviews. I read more reviews if the “peak” is in the 3/4 star range; sampling a few of each with an eye towards a common theme to any negative comments.

    The lads from Queen are currently pining for Somebody To Love. Up next, John Mellencamp knows this guy Jack and his wife Diane…

    M. de Lamartine wrote me one day: “Your doctrine is only the half of my program; you have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity.” I answered him: “The second half of your program will destroy the first half.” And, in fact, it is quite impossible for me to separate the word “fraternity” from the word “voluntary.” It is quite impossible for me to conceive of fraternity as legally enforced, without liberty being legally destroyed, and justice being legally trampled underfoot

  44. There was a fanzine called Mystery & Detective Monthly that I wrote for back in the day. I did a column listing forthcoming books. I subscribed to Publishers Weekly out of my own pocket to get some of the info, and wrote to all the publishers asking to receive the publicity they sent to bookstores so the stores knew what to order. A few did, but almost everybody sent me the books. I wrote again, saying I needed the information before the books were published, not the published books themselves. I got even more books. For years I was inundated with copies of mystery books. But I figured I had done my part, I wasn’t receiving them under false pretenses, and whether I added them to my collection, sold them, or gave them away, they were mine to do with as I pleased. (I still have cartons of them down my basement that I haven’t managed to dispose of yet. I have also, of course, bought copies of books that I didn’t care about at the time but got interested in later.

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