Pixel Scroll 9/20/18 The Mad Pixels Have Kneed Us In The Scroll

(1) SAN DIEGO 2049. The School of Global Policy and Strategy is celebrating its 30th anniversary by partnering with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to produce San Diego 2049, “a series of programs through 2018-19 that will use the imagination and narrative tools of science fiction to stimulate complex thinking about the future and the ways we could shape it through policy, technology, innovation, culture, and social change.”

If we are to leave the earth in better shape than we found it, successful social choices will require us to imagine distant alternate futures that reflect our best knowledge about how humans behave and evolve socially, politically, and cognitively. Science fiction gives us the needed space for long-range speculation and the complex interactions of technological, political, and social change.

Imagining the future helps us react to unanticipated situations–futures that we did not imagine. This competition and event series foster diverse visions for San Diego in 2049 from UC San Diego graduate students and draws on research by faculty across divisions. By bringing together students, science fiction writers, faculty, policy makers, and industry experts, we aim to foster the kind of multi-modal, boundary-crossing thinking that we need today to anticipate the potential shape of the world thirty years from now.

The Opening Events include a lecture by Vernor Vinge that is free and open to the public, and a workshop with Ann Pendleton-Jullian that is limited to participating UCSD graduate students.

Opening Events:



October 12, 5 – 7pm, Robinson Auditorium, UC San Diego

Free and open to the public; RSVP required (click here)

Light reception to follow

Learn about the complex process of science fiction worldbuilding to construct a dynamic future scenario with one of the masters of the field, Vernor Vinge.

The much acclaimed science fiction writer Vernor Vinge is author, among other books, of Rainbows End, which takes place, in part, on a future UC San Diego campus. Vinge has won five Hugo Awards, including one for each of his last three novels, Upon the Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999), and Rainbows End (2006). Known for his rigorous hard-science approach to his science fiction, he became an iconic figure among cybernetic scientists with the publication in 1981 of his novella “True Names,” which is considered a seminal, visionary work of Internet fiction and cyberspace. Dr. Vinge is Emeritus professor of mathematics and computer science at San Diego State University and also noted, among other things, for introducing the term “the singularity.”

(2) HARD SF 2017. Rocket Stack Rank has compiled its annual short story selection of “Outstanding Hard Science Fiction” from 2017.

There are 33 outstanding stories of hard science fiction from 2017 that were either finalists for major SF/F awards , included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies , or recommended by prolific reviewers  in short fiction (see Q&A). That’s 33 out of 95 hard science fiction stories from that year, and out of 279 outstanding SF/F stories from 2017.


(3) HELP WANTED. Social media help, that is. SF2 Concatenation is seeking to approach scientists (those with a BSc degree in science, technology, engineering, maths/medicine [STEM]) who are also professional SF authors: those published by a commercial SF/F genre imprint, to contribute to a special series of articles — “SF authors who are scientists wanted”.

We at SF2 Concatenation have been running a series of short articles by SF authors (folk who have had at least two or more SF books commercially published) who have a degree in science, engineering, mathematics of medicine.  These identify the top ten scientists born in the 20th century that have inspired the scientist SF authors (and by implication perhaps part of their science fiction writing?).

…What we would like you – our readers – to do is to let any SF authors you know who have a science/maths etc, degree know of this series by sending them the link to this page and then they can get in touch with us.  And/or you can get in touch with us yourself and nominate a potential contributor to this series.

You can also spread the word on your social media linking to this article.

Potential scientist authors need not currently be working in science but must have a science degree.

(4) MOOMIN PICTURES. Nicholas Whyte tells why he enjoyed “Five Moomin books, by Tove Jansson”, including Comet in Moominland —

This was the first full Moomin novel, pubished in 1946 but written in the shadow of war, and it’s not too difficult to see the metaphor of the world-altering disaster threatened here in the shape of a comet aproaching the Earth. Against this ominous background, Moomintroll, who is the central character of most of the Moomin books, along with Sniff (who fulfills a younger sibling role) and Snufkin (the Best Friend) go to the Observatory to ask advice from the Astronomer. On the way they make friends with two more siblings, the Snork and the Snork Maiden. After a series of adventures (including a dragon and a carnivorous tree), they get to the Observatory and there the Astronomer nonchalantly informs them that there is no hope – the comet will destroy everything. They return home across a devastated landscape with scurrying refugees, and at the last moment as they prepare for the end, all comes right and the world is saved.

(5) DO MORE THAN JUST RUB TWO STICKS TOGETHER. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s Ross Johnson declares that How to Invent Everything Is a Hilariously Essential Guide for Would-Be Time Travelers”.

…The book is purportedly a guide for time travelers, made from futuristic materials and discovered embedded in pre-Cambrian rock. At some point in the future, a Chronotix Solutions will invent the FC3000(tm) personal time machine. Individuals may lease the machine for travel to any point whatsoever in history and, given the particular theory of time travel at play here, do whatever they wish in the past. Since visits to the past generate alternate timelines, there’s no conceivable way to do any damage to the traveler’s original timeline. Successful journeys return the Traveller to their original frame of reference, but the stranded will find themselves stuck in a newly created timeline branching off from the moment of their arrival.

The book suggests a novel solution for the stranded: figure out when you are, and then rebuild civilization from the literal ground up as a means of making life bearable…

(5) PUMPING THE BRAKES. ScreenCrush says “Disney Plans Star Wars Franchise ‘Slowdown’”:

[CEO] Iger says he now believes Disney’s approach to Star Wars was “too much, too fast.” And there will be an adjustment moving forward:

I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn’t mean we’re not gonna make films. J.J. [Abrams] is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven’t been specific about. And we are just at the point where we’re gonna start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.’s. But I think we’re gonna be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.

(6) KGB READINGS. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from Fantastic Fiction at KGB’s September readings:

Patrick McGrath read from his most recent novel, a ghost story titled THE WARDROBE MISTRESS and Siobhan Carroll read excerpts from a short story she recently finished.


Patrick McGrath and Siobhan Carroll 2

(7) GETTING READY FOR IRELAND. Something of general interest, and possibly a bit of prep a person might do before traveling to Dublin 2019 — “Free Online Course on the Book of Kells starts next month”.

A new, free, online course developed by Trinity College Dublin will allow learners worldwide to explore the history of Ireland through the remarkable Book of Kells — one of  the world’s most famous medieval manuscripts.

… Now members of the public around the world will have the opportunity to learn more about this precious manuscript through a new four-week online course. The “Book of Kells: Exploring an Irish Medieval Masterpiece” course will start on October 8th, 2018 and is run in partnership with Futurelearn, the social learning platform. The free online course is aimed at anyone with an interest in Ireland, medieval studies, history, art, religion and popular culture.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1878 – Upton Sinclair. Writer of — and would I kid you? — The Gnomobile: A Gnice Gnew Gnarrative With Gnonsense, but Gnothing Gnaughty. They’re gnomes which makes them genre. And Walt Disney himself produced it as a film shortly before his death. Mind you it was released as The Gnome-Mobile. 
  • Born September 20, 1916 – Bradford M. Day. He’s best known as an early bibliographer of science fiction and fantasy. Some of his pubs which are archived in the University of Texas System include The Complete Checklist of Science-Fiction Magazines which is complete up to the late 50s, Edgar Rice Burroughs Biblio: Materials toward a Bibliography of the Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Talbot Mundy Biblio: Materials toward a Bibliography of the Works of Talbot Mundy. Anyone recognize the last author?
  • Born September 20, 1935 – Keith Roberts. Best known I think for Pavane where the Catholic Church holds brutal rule over England after the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I. It like most of his novels were a series of linked short stories. There’s a rather good collection of ghost stories by him, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, that has an introduction by Robert Holdstock.
  • Born September 20 – George R.R. Martin, 70. Setting aside A Game of Thrones which is hardly limited to those novels, there’s The Armageddon Rag and Dying of the Light set in his Thousand Worlds universe which I really l like among his myriad novels. There’s a very nice compilation of his excellent short fiction, Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective (not a typo) and I recommend A Song for Lya as well as it’s a collection focused on his early short fiction. Awards? Hugos and  Nebulas, Bram Strokers and so forth almost beyond count.
  • Born September 20 – James P. Blaylock, 58. Writer of the Balumnia trilogy which the author says was inspired by The Wind in The Willows and The Hobbit. Other works include the Narbondo series which has two Victorian London steampunk novels which are wonderful. All of the these stories are collected in The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives. He won World Fantasy Awards for his “Thirteen Phantasms” and “Paper Dragons” stories.

(9) MAJOR PICTURES. Michael Dooley publicizes the just-released DC Comics Before Superman: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s Pulp Comics in his post “Pulp Fiction Facts: the Secret Origin of Comic Books”:

If you’re a fan of Golden Age comic book stories with plenty of action thrills, you should know about the military intelligence officer Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Here’s how Jim Steranko, Silver Age superstar artist on Captain America and Nick Fury, describes him: “He adventured around the globe, from hunting Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa with famed General John Pershing to fighting with Cossack warriors across Russia during WWI. … As one of the youngest cavalry members serving his country, Wheeler-Nicholson faced enemies from the Philippines to Siberia.” This character could have been the star of his own comics during those early, anything-goes 1930s and ’40s, or the hero of numerous 1920s and ’30s pulp fiction tales. And in a way, he was both….

Most of the first comics publishers came from a background in pulps, but as salesmen. The Major was the only one with the kind of creative background that greatly enhanced his understanding of genre fiction and story structure. It also gave him empathy for his artists and writers, as he crusaded for their financial equality and ownership rights. Nicky’s text provides background details as seen through her eyes and research. They’re interspersed throughout the book, which primarily displays the Major’s seldom-seen comics, drawn by a variety of artists including Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, whose careers he was instrumental in launching….

“Jerry Siegel was submitting the Superman story in many different places in the attempt to get it published. … Many people in the burgeoning and close-knit industry knew about the comic, and several had turned it down. There was only one person in that publishing arena who believed in Superman from the very beginning: Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. … Jerry Siegel would later remark, ‘And so, because Nicholson had not tossed away the wrapping paper sketches, Joe and I broke into print.’”

(10) SET PHASERS TO EPONYMOUS. Space.com makes note that a planet has been found in the canonical place for Mr. Spock’s home (“Hey, Spock! Real-Life ‘Planet Vulcan’ Orbits Sun Featured in ‘Star Trek’“).

“Star Trek’s” planet Vulcan, ancestral home of Spock and his species, just became a little more real, thanks to a team of exoplanet scientists.

Because “Star Trek” creators eventually associated planet Vulcan with a real star, called 40 Eridani A, scientists have wondered for years whether a factual equivalent of the beloved science fiction planet exists, with or without pointy-eared inhabitants. And now, a team of scientists has said that the star really does host at least one planet.

“This star can be seen with the naked eye, unlike the host stars of most of the known planets discovered to date,” Bo Ma, lead author of the new research and an astronomer at the University of Florida, said in a statement. “Now, anyone can see 40 Eridani A on a clear night and be proud to point out Spock’s home.” …

(11) CONGRATULATIONS. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus takes time out for “A Word From Our Sponsor”.

Last month, I transitioned from amateur author to professional.  My first published short story, Andy and Tina, is the lead novelette in the anthology, Tales from Alternate Earths 2 (sequel to the Sidewise Award-winning Tales from Alternate Earths).

My piece starts in 1963 and features some fascinating elements of the Space Race.  I’m told by folks who aren’t even related to me that it’s a great read, as are the other nine stories in the volume.  I would be absolutely delighted (and I think you will be, too) if you would purchase a copy.  If you like my prose, and you must if you’re still here, you’ll love this book.

So go get yourself a copy!  You’ll be supporting the Journey, and you’ll be the proud owner of a fantastic book.

(12) INSPIRED HOMAGES. Scott Edelman’s “Tell Me Like You Done Before” is on sale from Lethe Press:

Wonderful and wry pastiches! Scott Edelman’s newest collection brings together his fiction inspired by master storytellers – Edgar Allan Poe, John Steinbeck, Alice Sheldon among others. Herein can be found the Shakespearean riff of a living son of the mayor of New York City falls in love with the daughter of the zombie king, a Bradburyesque aged carnival attraction who promised patrons immortality, and a Wellsian figure deals with the impossibility of miracles. The collection features notes by Edelman that offer insight into each story’s birth and the importance of the storyteller he sought to emulation.

I’m confident in guessing “The Final Charge of Mr. Electrico” is the Bradbury one.

(13) THE ATLANTIC’S DOPEST CRUSTACEANS. My question is how somebody who’d worry about this could convince themselves to eat a lobster at all — “Maine restaurant sedates lobsters with marijuana”.

A growing body of scientific findings suggest that not only lobsters but other invertebrates, such as crayfish and crabs, are able to feel pain.

The owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound, Charlotte Gill, says eating the sedated lobster will not make customers high and using marijuana leads to better quality meat, as the animal is more relaxed when it dies.

(14) ANOTHER REEFER PLAN. “Jellyfish robots to watch over endangered coral reefs” — can look for reef damage without doing damage itself the way a drone with a propeller would.

A fleet of robotic jellyfish has been designed to monitor delicate ecosystems, including coral reefs.

The underwater drones were invented by engineers at Florida Atlantic University and are driven by rings of hydraulic tentacles.

The robots can squeeze through tight holes without causing damage.

One expert praised the design but warned that the man-made jellyfish might be eaten by turtles.

(15) APEX MAGAZINE. They need a basic number of subscribers to keep their print edition going – if you want to be one of them see details here.

(16) LET ROVER COME OVER. BBC reports “Hayabusa-2: Japan’s rovers ready for touchdown on asteroid”.

Japan’s space agency is preparing to deploy two robotic explorers to the surface of an asteroid.

On Friday, the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft will despatch a pair of “rovers” to the 1km-wide space rock known as Ryugu.

Rover 1A and Rover 1B will move around by hopping in Ryugu’s low gravity; they will capture images of the surface and measure temperatures.

Hayabusa-2 reached the asteroid Ryugu in June this year after a three-and-a-half-year journey.

(17) SORTING OUT SESAME STREET. John Scalzi analyzes the perpetual Bert and Ernie controversy as part of “The Whatever Digest, 9/20/18”.

I posted the tweet above the other day about the recent contretemps regarding whether Bert and Ernie are a gay couple, which was prompted by one of Sesame Street’s former writers noting he always wrote them as if they were a gay couple, which in turn prompted but Sesame Workshop and Frank Oz (creator of Bert) to aver that they were not, which in turn made Twitter explode, because, well, Twitter….

It can be truly said that Frank Oz, when he created him, did not think of Bert as being gay; it can also be truly said that at least one writer on Sesame Street, when writing Bert and Ernie, wrote them as a gay couple; it can also be truly said that the Sesame Workshop, at least publicly, doesn’t want Bert and Ernie to be considered as beings with sexuality at all….

(18) TO BE NAMED LATER. SYFY Wire brings news of a new female led ABC series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“Marvel is developing a female-centric superhero show at ABC”)—they just don’t know what superhero will take the lead.

…Marvel is apparently looking for more female heroes on the small screen. Now, with the MCU currently thriving on Netflix, Hulu, and Freeform, an all-new female-fronted Marvel series is in the works at ABC.

According to Deadline, a new superhero show is being developed by the network, which launched the TV side of the MCU with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in 2013. Allan Heinberg, who wrote DC’s big screen adaptation of Wonder Woman, will be writing the series. Details are still scarce, but it’s reported to be an hour-long drama focusing on lesser-known female superheroes in the Marvel canon.

The complete lack of info on the lead didn’t stop the article’s writer, Christian Long, from taking a few guesses:

An obvious guess would be A-Force, the first all-female Avengers team that resulted from a Secret Wars crossover in 2015. They were also led by She-Hulk, who would certainly be a welcome addition to the MCU. Another possibility is Lady Liberators, who, despite a tone-deaf one-off appearance in Avengers #83 in 1970, was re-launched in 2008. It’s worth noting that they were also led by She-Hulk.

There’s also the Fearless Defenders, though they were led by Misty Knight and Valkyrie. The former is a major character in Netflix’s Luke Cage, played by Simone Missick, while the latter is portrayed on the big screen by Tessa Thompson, so neither character would likely be available.

(19) CUMBERBATCH VOICES DR. SEUSS CHARACTER. The Grinch Movie comes to theaters November 9.

The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism. Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Eric Wong, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/20/18 The Mad Pixels Have Kneed Us In The Scroll

  1. Why do scrolls keep slandering pixels?

    I’m absolutely sure that’s a pattern I’ve noticed.

    Might be falling asleep now. Or not. Who can say? Here in 5194, these things are a bit arbitrary.

  2. 13) I liked the story I read yesterday about scientists giving MDMA to octopi who then proceeded to behave like hippies at Woodstock.

  3. 8) GRRM’s 70th birthday was even mentioned in my local newspaper (which normally prefers to ignore that SFF exists), together with a nice profile.

    One line raised my eyebrows, though, when the author of the article wrote that “judging by the pictures on his website, George R.R. Martin seems to visit a lot of fan gatherings in the American hinterland.”

    Me: “That’s not a nice way to describe WorldCon 76.”

  4. @1: the mutilation of Vinge’s title A Fire Upon the Deep is in the original — sloppy of them.

    @8: and a fonto merges The Armageddon Rag (which AFAICR shows no connection to any other GRRM work) with The Dying of the Light.

    @Cora: there have been Worldcons in the hinterlands; 76 was not one of them. I guess the writer had no idea that San Jose is now more populous than San Francisco. (To be fair, I have no idea which German cities are most populous….)

    edit: Fifth! Am I coherent? will check back in a few days….

  5. (15) APEX MAGAZINE.

    At $8 **per month**, I’m not surprised they’re having trouble selling the print-edition subscriptions. OTOH, I did buy a Kindle digital subscription ($1.99/mo), which was very reasonable.


    As someone already pointed out somewhere today: Kermit and Miss Piggy clearly do have sexuality, so the “they’re puppets, and puppets don’t have sexuality” rationalization handed out by SS doesn’t hold water.

  6. Here in SF we consider SJ to be very firmly in the hinterlands, as immortalized in “Do You Know The Way To San Jose.” However, some consider SF to be full of people who are so pleased with themselves they sniff their own farts, so there’s that.

    I wish the press would stop salaciously conflating marijuana and CBD in their all consuming thirst for clickbait. CBD is strictly the “body high” portion of the formula, and equating it with the psychoactive THC portion hurts people in no-cannabis states who don’t necessarily want to cop a mellow buzz but wouldn’t mind some pain relief. I’m thoroughly carnivorous but I am definitely in favor of reducing animal suffering (and I’ve avoided select-your-own-live-seafood restaurants since the day I was in a Chinese restaurant waiting for a table and a fish hurled itself out of the tank and bounced off my shoulder) (kill them in the back room please, and do it as quickly and painlessly as possible).

    HBD GRRM!! My favorite book by him is Fevre Dream, which had a romantic dashing crush-worthy vampire prior to Vampire Lestat (and decades before Edward Cullen). I finally got him to sign my copy a couple Worldcons ago. It should be a movie IMHO.

  7. I saw the Japanese movie of Comet in Moominland without having heard of the books–I found it especially weird, what with the talking (apparent) hippos, the unidentifible creatures and the small but loud and shrill talking (apparent) doll.

    ETA: wow, that wiki article really needs editing.

  8. 8) — Talbot Mundy was another writer of adventure fiction back in the 1920s & 1930s (like Harold Lamb) — many of his stories (which I admit I haven’t read, for the most part) featured a character nicknamed Jimgrim and were set in then-contemporary Afghanistan and similar parts. He also wrote King of the Khyber Rifles, likewise set in that part of the world. I believe a lot of his books had a certain amount of 1920s-style occultism or spiritism in them.

    His other big series (which I did read) was Tros of Samothrace, a druid(?) helping Britons fight against Julius Caesar and invading Roman legions. (The Tros series was reprinted in the 1970s by Zebra; in their inimitable style, they misnumbered the books, and blurbed them as “Heroic fantasy in the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Conan” despite the fact that Mundy was actually one of Howard’s influences, not the other way around.)

    All other things being equal, I prefer Harold Lamb, but Mundy’s not bad, and a good chunk of his work is available for free via Project Gutenberg.

  9. I also really like Fevre Dream. Vampires on paddle wheelers along the Mississippi is a nifty concept. My SO and I used to have a thing where we’d read each other alternating chapters out of a book at bedtime. That was one of the best ones to get that treatment.

    Another one of the birthday boys mentioned, James Blaylock, is the co-creator (with Tim Powers) of the famous poet William Ashbless, author of On Pirates, which was illustrated by Gahan Wilson. (Most of Ashbless’s other works are as elusive as the man himself.)

  10. The differences between San Jose and San Francisco are pretty profound. San Jose is the older city you go to if you want wide streets that don’t smell like pee and crap. San Francisco on the other hand, has a rich tradition of diversity and and eclectic street life…which it destroyed and replaced with a patchwork switching between upscale mall and refugee camp.

    San Francisco long ago hit its limits for area growth. San Jose on the other hand, gobbles up neighboring communities like a phagocyte. Seriously, if you look at it on a map, it’s kinda bizarre.

  11. 1) Vinge has won five Hugo Awards, including one for each of his last three novels

    Have we all agreed to forget that The Children of the Sky happened?

  12. A scrollover between 1) and 4): A Deepness in the Sky reminded me of Moominland Midwinter when I first read it: everyone in Moominland/Spiderworld hibernates for the long Winter, but our hero wakes up and sees the frozen world which is not as empty as he expects.

  13. I seem to have a lot of comments on today’s scroll.

    7) Be warned that the actual Book of Kells is like the Crown Jewels – locked in a display case with a stream of tourists queuing and filing past the glass. You will not get to examine it closely.

    But the visit is worth it to see the Jedi Archives.

  14. My favorite book by him is Fevre Dream, which had a romantic dashing crush-worthy vampire prior to Vampire Lestat (and decades before Edward Cullen).

    Interview With the Vampire was published in 1976. Fevre Dream was published in 1982.

  15. (8) GRRM’s Wild Cards series/universe also merits mention, and I’ll help myself to a wee nip by stating with great confidence my conviction that he probably won Bram Stoker awards.

  16. 1) I love the picture of the UCSD library, which (as you know Bob) features prominently in Vinge’s Rainbows End.

  17. @James Davis Nicoll

    Interview With the Vampire was published in 1976. Fevre Dream was published in 1982.

    Well, yeah, but Lestat in Interview with the Vampire was just a dick, not the dreamboat Anne Rice later retconned him into. /pedant

  18. @James Thanks for the ‘splain but the novel The Vampire Lestat (by Anne Rice) came out in 1985. That’s the one where Lestat became a romantic rock star of a hero; he was a character in Interview With The Vampire but he wasn’t nearly as dashing. He suddenly got that way after GRRM’s book about Joshua York came out. Rice has said in at least one interview she also based him on rock star Robin Zander, at least as far as appearance.

  19. @Contrarius: Kermit and Miss Piggy are from the main group of Muppets, the ones owned by Disney (basically, the Muppet Show Muppets). Bert and Ernie are owned by Sesame Workshop (the Sesame Street Muppets). There’s only limited crossover between the two groups.

    That said, even some of the Sesame Street Muppets of long-standing are known to have romantic interests: Oscar the Grouch’s girlfriend is Grungetta (not sure of the spelling of her name), while the Count Von Count’s love interest is Countess von Backwards.

  20. Well, alllrighty, then. That still works out to “it was a dumb excuse”, so I’m satisfied. 😉

  21. If there is Sesame street, there should be an alphabet song :

    A is for Atreides, the house that rules in Dune
    B is for books, because, well, obviously
    C is for The City and also for the City
    D is for Death Star, a well named piece of prop
    E is for Endor, a planet known for pelts
    F is for Frodo, the one who drops the ring
    G is for GlaDos, a computer that went mad
    H is for Hal, which is another one
    I is for If you were a dinosaur my love, just to annoy the Pups
    J is for Jemison who scored the biggest hattrick
    K is for Klaatu, whos not a pokemon
    L is for Lensmen, although maybe not
    M is for Montag, a fireman burns books
    N is for Neuromancer, where the internet has no trolls
    O is for Oceania, who was always at war with eastasia
    P is for Pern, because Dragons can be SF too
    Q is for Q, because why the hell not?
    R is for Riverworld an underused concept
    S is for Slartibartfast, the inventor of fjords
    T is for Thursday, the women who died a lot
    U is fot Uthacalthing, the TImbrimi ambassador
    V is for Vimes, who cherishes his boots
    W is for the Warden, because the moon IS a harsh mistress
    X is for the variable you try to add to Venus
    Y is for Yulsman, just so I can mention Elander Morning
    Z is for Zanzibar, where you would try to stand on

  22. Rev. Bob says correctly GRRM’s Wild Cards series/universe also merits mention, and I’ll help myself to a wee nip by stating with great confidence my conviction that he probably won Bram Stoker awards.

    Yep. Now you tell my brain that. Post-dying and coming back to this reality it has an interesting tendency not to notice such minor things. Now if someone wants to volunteer to edit Birthday citations in early evening for correctness before they go to OGH I’d be very happy.

  23. @Cat, early evening in what time zone?

    @Peer, that’s wonderful! (If it gets reprinted, J should be Jemisin)

  24. @Peer
    B is for Bravo!

    Regarding the journalist of the local paper mistaking San José for the American hinterland, I suspect he had no idea how big San José really is and didn’t think to look it up either.

    Some time ago, I chanced to look up the biggest US cities and noticed to my surprise that San José ranks fairly high on that list, much higher than I expected. Though I do know that San Francisco is smaller than its reputation would suggest.

    Besides, in Germany the biggest cities are usually also the ones you’d expect, because they are well known. In the US, however, I find that beyond the top three, which are obvious, a lot of the biggest cities are not really the ones that are best known. For example, I’d never have expected San Diego, San Antonio and San José to land anywhere near the top ten (and I’ve been to San Antonio, albeit a long time ago, and it looked like a small town), whereas cities like Boston, New Orleans, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, etc… which I would have expected to find in the top ten rank further down the list.

  25. The City and County of San Francisco is about 800k people — not even a million. Most of it is buildings of three stories or less. A lot of the coast is landfill subject to liquefaction during quakes. A lot of the inland is steep hills that make building challenging (we have streets over 30% grade). It’s only recently that engineers have figured out how to deal with these challenges and not always successfully — Google the “Millenium Tower” and laugh at the 58-story building that has sunk over a foot, has developed a 15 inch westward tilt, has become a prime engineering-fail tourist attraction … and has 2bedroom condos that go for over $2million. Go figure. [/civicpride]

  26. Cora: I have no idea how Germany marks city boundaries, but it’s worth noting that in the U.S. those boundaries have major social entanglements. The city limits of Boston, for instance, enclose perhaps a quarter of the population of what a high-altitude view would suggest is a contiguous metropolis, because many abutting communities were able to refuse to be incorporated; in other areas this is not possible, and the city has incorporated many of the abutting communities. (See a comment above about San Jose’s expansion.) DC is a special case: its boundaries are described in our Constitution (except that the return of a third of it to Virginia was never noted), but construction has flowed over those boundaries, making them less than visible. (It used to be you could see them for a couple of weeks each year, because DC allowed the sale of fireworks; I don’t know if this is still true.)

  27. @Cora Buhlert–Boston really is a typical, the smallest major city in the US. Part of that is due to idiosyncratic local historical reasons. There was a period when American metropolitan center cities were absorbing their smaller neighbors into larger, in many ways more rational for modernizing transportation and communication, municipal entities. Houston was especially successful at this, but it happened in most places.

    That process started in Boston, and many Boston “neighborhoods” used to be separate towns. Then the next town on the list to be absorbed was Brookline–and Brookline decided it would not be absorbed. They fought Boston to a standstill, and that was the end of Greater Boston’s urban consolidation. There’s also, of course, the Charles River, with Cambridge on the other side. I’m not aware of river-separated cities merging in the US, though I have the impression it has happened in Europe.

    The other unexpectedly small “major cities” likely have their own local historical and geographic oddities keeping the legal municipality smaller than the generally perceived city. However, it’s also pretty common for a state’s capital city to be fairly small, and some other city to be the big one in the state. Boston is unusual in that respect, too: the capital of Massachusetts, and also the largest city not just in Massachusetts, but in the entire six-state New England region.

    Making its relative smallness even more unexpected for the unprepared…

  28. @Charon D.: I have to give San Francisco this, it’s difficult geography makes it one of the most distinctive cities in America. It’s a natural subject for pictures, and it’s worth it to travel up 101 and reach the south end of the city right at sunset, and watch the lights of the skyscrapers come on, possibly with fog pouring over the hills. It’s incredibly beautiful then.

    I admit that though they have history just as long, San Jose and Sacramento don’t have that very visible distinctiveness. It’s why I describe San Jose as San Francisco’s older, more respectable and less stylish sister city.

    Which now makes me think of the SF&F cities with equal visual distinctiveness…

  29. San Francisco has some pretty severe physical limitations, being at the end of a peninsula, with the only way to grow being vertical – and much of the north and east shores are made land, and require extra engineering for construction. (I understand that Millennium Tower is becoming a tourist attraction.)
    Los Angeles is another example of growth by absorption, made more obvious because so many of the areas absorbed maintain their old names (easier for the post office) and still have business districts, occasionally fairly large ones.
    Here in 2659, we’re still trying to sort out some of the messes that made.

  30. @Chip Hitchcock
    We also have several cities which have metro areas that are a lot bigger than their official borders. Bremen is one fairly extreme example, especially since the surrounding metro area is actually part of a different state. I live about 6 kilometres outside the Bremen city limits in the metro area, but in a completely different state. Menawhile, the Ruhrgebiet is one huge metro area of several very big cities basically bleeding into each other.

    This causes frequent issues with regards to the distribution of taxes, payment for services… Quite often, the problem is that a lot of the services for the entire region such as hospitals, theatres, museums, universities, etc… are concentrated in the city, whereas a lot of people live in the suburbs and many business and industrial estates are also outside the city limits, which means basically that the city has to pay for the services, but the tax base is outside. This is also why it’s difficult for cities to officially gobble up neighbouring communities in the metro area, because the county these communities belong to doesn’t want to let lucrative communities go. For example, I live in a county called Diepholz. The county seat is 60 kilometres away, while the Bremen city limits are 6 kilometres away. And though the county is called Diepholz, the vast majority of its inhabitants live in a couple of communities just outside the Bremen city limits. But Diepholz sure as hell isn’t going to let us go, because we bring in the tax money.

    Historically, German cities have gobbled up neighbouring towns and villages, e.g. Hamburg gobbled up Altona, Blankenese, Willemsburg and many others. However, the big cities haven’t really expanded their territory post 1945, even as their metro areas grew. We did have a bunch of reforms in rural areas in the 1960s/70s, where several small villages were combined into bigger communities (I grew up in a construct of 7 villages artificially combined sometime in the 1970s) and sometimes even smaller counties were combined. For example, the county Diepholz, where I live, resulted from a merger of the counties of Diepholz, Hoya and Syke sometime in the 1970s. For reasons no one understands, the new county was called Diepholz, even though Syke and Hoya were more populous.

    A lot of times, these newly created communities and counties cut through historical borderlines. For example, the seven village construct in which I grew up straddles the borderline between the old kingdoms of Hannover and Oldenburg, which a lot of older people didn’t like at all. The new county Diepholz straddles the borderline between a historically Catholic and a historically Protestant area. People often don’t identify with these entities either.

  31. @Chip Hitchcock DC is a special case: its boundaries are described in our Constitution
    No, the Constitution said that a Federal District may be established, and limited its size (not over 100 square miles). Its location and boundaries were established by later statutes.

  32. I wonder in what alternate universe an urban coastal area which is the center of a world-changing industry is a hinterland?

  33. (If it gets reprinted, J should be Jemisin)

    Aargh! I checked three times, but some things always slip through… Sorry!

  34. @Cora (et al.): “We also have several cities which have metro areas that are a lot bigger than their official borders. Bremen is one fairly extreme example, especially since the surrounding metro area is actually part of a different state.”

    I’m quite familiar with that situation myself. Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in Tennessee, at least by population, and it sits right on the junction of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. The metro area extends into all three states, and the city proper occupies both sides of part of the Tennessee River.

    On top of that, the TN-GA state line runs right through Lookout Mountain, meaning one can move a few streets over and change states while staying in the same city and on the same mountain. (Okay, yes – technically Lookout Mountain, TN and Lookout Mountain, GA have all sorts of low-level differences owing to being on opposite sides of the line, but driving through the place, you’d never know.) The Chattanooga metro area is quite the sprawl, but it pales next to Atlanta, which I imagine you’re more familiar with; it incorporates most of central Georgia. Chattanooga’s metro is just (IMO) more interesting in that it straddles so many borders.

    Here’s the funny part. The literal cities of Chattanooga and Atlanta are about 120 miles apart – two hours by car, sometimes three if traffic is bad – but their metro areas are only separated by a few miles, if that much. The southernmost county in Greater Chattanooga and the northernmost in Greater Atlanta both abut the same two counties. Those counties, in turn, share a tiny border, and that short gap is all that separates the two sprawls.

    It is not likely to be very long before one metro area or the other gets extended into one of those counties (probably by Calhoun, GA getting added to one of them) and “Chatlanta” becomes a serious concept.

  35. I think that sort of situation is getting more and more common. Refer to Kansas City, KS/Kansas City, MO and Memphis, TN/West Memphis, AR and so on.

    And yes, I always get a chuckle when driving around the borders of Chatt — “Welcome to TN!” “Welcome to GA!” “Welcome to TN!” every few minutes. 😉

  36. I live in northeast NJ, which is part of Metro NYC. Southwest NJ is part of Metro Philadelphia. The Northeast Corridor in the U.S. includes Metro DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, NYC, Hartford, Boston. Probably some smaller urban areas I left out. But it all kind of runs together.

  37. I grew up in and still live in Orange County, California. It was a mostly rural and agricultural area with a bunch of small cities like Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, etc. when we moved here in 1955. There is almost no agriculture left and all the cities run together without gaps, just a sign like ‘Welcome to Anaheim’ to let you know where the borders are.

    Almost all the cities in Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and LA counties have just become part of the Los Angeles metro sprawl, although they retain their individual names and bureaucracies. The actual City of the Angels has near 4 million residents, the Greater Los Angeles area (includes all surrounding counties) is pushing 18 or 19 million.

    We probably won’t merge with San Diego County any time soon because of the huge Pendleton Marine Base between us and them, plus the whole desert thing to the east of all of us.

    We ARE urban sprawl only beaten in population, in the US, by NY. Traffic is a nightmare, but I wouldn’t move. This is my ‘hometown’, too old to start over, the weather’s still better than most places, many fewer insect pests, can sit out on patio for drinks and food almost all year, just about everything and anything is available 24/7 and most of my friends are still here.

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