Pixel Scroll 9/20/19 Pixels Are Finite, Scrolls Are Infinite

(1) TIPTREE BIOGRAPHER COMMENTS FURTHER. Julie Phillips, author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon blogged about “On Tiptree and naming” on September 17.

A number of people are reading the manner of Alli and Ting’s Sheldon’s death as an instance of caregiver murder, in which a person with a disability is killed by a person responsible for caring for them. There is a pattern of murders like this being downplayed or dismissed as “understandable” because the caregiver “must have been under such strain.” This is extremely upsetting and hurtful to people living with disabilities. You can read more about this here and here. (Content warnings: suicide; Americans’ appalling lack of access to heath care.)

Mostly I’ve been asked for factual answers: Did it happen? Did it not happen? It may be that a name that calls up painful associations should be changed in any case. But I believe it matters to talk about what we know and don’t know, and here are some thoughts about Ting’s and Alli’s choices.

(2) GETTING WARMER. Andrew Liptak chronicles sff’s track record with other issues before asking “Does Science Fiction Have a Moral Imperative to Address Climate Change?”

… Topics such as pollution, overcrowding, and a warming Earth began to appear more frequently within the genre. Harry Harrison’s 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! (later adapted—and firmly embedded in pop culture consciousness—as Soylent Green) examined the plight of an overcrowded Earth, though today the main drivers of climate change are far less attributable to rising populations in less developed areas of the world and far more to do with mass consumerism in the developed world.

J.G. Ballard’s 1962 novel The Drowned World specifically imagines a post-apocalyptic 2145 in which global warming (caused by solar wind heating the atmosphere, rather than specifically fossil fuel emissions) lead to sea-level rise, ruining London. Even nearly 60 years ago—long before “climate change” had become a source of widespread anxiety, it was a stark vision; reviewer Peter Brigg noted, “Ballard created in this novel the most pervasive demonstration of the frailty of ‘technological’ man.”

(3) NEW SFF COMPETITION. The Clarke Award is publicizing “A New Science Fiction Competition For Young People”. 

The Rumble Museum, in association with the Arthur C. Clarke Award, is delighted to announce a national science fiction competition for young people who would like to see their ideas turned into a short story by a professional science fiction author.

Anyone 15 years or younger can enter, and full entry details can be found here. Deadline for entries October 31.


To enter, please submit a premise and opening lines for a science fiction short story. We would like to see a description of the world or society your story is set in, an outline of the main characters and plot, and first 350 words or first page.

(4) SIXTY-FOUR ON THE FLOOR. Galactic Journey contributors assemble! A trio of reviewers comment on the latest (in 1964) novels from PKD, Leiber, Bulmer and Farmer in this omnibus post: “[September 20, 1964] Apocalypses and other trivia (Galactoscope)”. Jason Sacks begins —

…Like many fans, I first became really aware of Philip K. Dick after he won the 1963 Hugo Award for Best Novel for his remarkable The Man in the High Castle. That book dazzled in its chronicle of an alternate history in which the Nazis and Japanese won World War II (which opened up many areas of thought and conversation for me and my friends) as well as in its brilliant world-building and the fascinating, multifaceted characters at the heart of Dick’s award-winner.

High Castle was also an amazingly tight novel, packing a dense plot into its mere 240 pages. As many of us Dick fans have learned, not all of his works are quite so tightly plotted. I adored his Martian Time-Slip and Dr. Bloodmoney from last year, but those books tended to both delight and annoy in their meandering, nearly stream-of-consciousness styles.

The newest Philip K. Dick novel, The Penultimate Truth (just out in paperback from Belmont) fills a bit of the gap between his ’62 masterpiece and the challenging ’63 books. This thoroughly delightful book wanders a bit but always held me in its comforting grasp.

(5) LID O’CLOCK ROCK. Alasdair Stuart’s newest Full Lid embraces the profoundly weird career of Gerard Butler, examines the Hot Zone and attends the Battle of Big Rock: “The Full Lid 20th September 2019”

(6) IT’S THE PITTS. NPR’s Chris Klimek reports that “‘Ad Astra’ Soars”

With its austere surfaces and jaundiced view of humanity’s interplanetary destiny, James Gray’s stirring sci-fi epic Ad Astra can’t help but evoke Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the paterfamilias of all “serious” space movies. But in fact it’s a closer cousin to another long-delayed, wildly over-budget spectacle that initially fared better with ticket-buyers than critics, only to be revealed in time as a masterpiece: Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.

Like Coppola’s surreal Vietnam War movie, Ad Astra is told to us by a haunted man on a mission into the unknown. After a thrilling set piece involving an unplanned high-altitude skydive from the “International Space Antenna,” Brad Pitt’s Major Roy McBride is dispatched to investigate the cause of a series of destructive cosmic ray bursts emanating from Neptune.

McBride is given the task because his superiors believe these disruptions might somehow have been caused by his father (Tommy Lee Jones), commander of an exploration mission that was presumed lost some 16 years earlier. In the event the old man has somehow survived and gone all Colonel Kurtz on them, they’re hoping his baby boy might be able to talk him down.

One needn’t have seen 2001 — or for that matter, last year’s undervalued Neil Armstrong biopic First Man — to grok that emotional availability is the one area in which McBride is seriously deficient. (His heart rate has never risen above 80, his dossier says.) In space, no one can hear you cry…

… though they are sometimes privy to your internal monologue. “We are the world-eaters,” McBride laments in voiceover as he takes in the Applebees and Hudson News shops that pimple the near side of the moon in the mid-to-late 21st century. The only thing Ad Astra shares with the comparatively upbeat adventure The Martian is a notion we might be wiser to leave space exploration to our robots. We see McBride file a psychological self-evaluation each time he’s getting ready to launch; only if the A.I. concurs with his assessment that he’s fit to fly is he permitted to go.


  • September 20, 1979 — The film version of Buck Rogers was edited for television as “Awakening” to serve as the very first episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It would last two seasons.
  • September 20, 2006 Jericho aired its pilot episode on CBS.  It was cancelled after its first full season, because of poor ratings. A fan campaign persuaded the network to bring the show back for another season, of seven episodes, after which it was cancelled again. IDW has done two seasons in comic book form. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything else by him, so do tell me about other works please. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 20, 1940 Jonathan Hardy. He was the voice of Dominar Rygel XVI, called simply Rygel, once the royal ruler of the Hynerian Empire, on Farscape.  He was also Police Commissioner Labatouche in Mad Max, and he had a one-off in the Mission: Impossible series that produced in his native Australia in the “Submarine” episode as Etienne Reynard. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 20, 1948 George R. R. Martin, 71. I’ll admit that I’ve only read the first two volumes of ASOFI.  I loved The Armageddon Rag and think that he’s a wonderful short writer.  And no, I’ve not watched A Game of Thrones. 
  • Born September 20, 1955 David Haig, 64. He played Pangol in “The Leisure Hive” a Fourth Doctor story. He also showed up on Blake’s 7 in “Rumours of Death” as Forres, and was Colonel Bonnet in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Tales of Innocence. He’s also General Vandenberg in the 2006 film remake of A for Andromeda. Finally, I should I should he’s The Player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back. 
  • Born September 20, 1959 James Blaylock, 69. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives whichcollects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. 
  • Born September 20, 1986 Aldis Hodge, 33. He plays Alec Hardison on Leverage. Ok, I know it’s not SFF but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use are technology of that series are keeping with MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking Dead, Star Trek Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…)
  • Born September 20, 1989 Malachi Kirby, 30. He shows up on Doctor Who as Gastron in “Hell Bent”, a Twelfth Doctor story, and he’s on Black Mirror as Stripe in their “Men Against Fire” episode. 

(9) MAKER MAKES NEWS. In the Washington Post, Patti Restivo profiles cosplayer Kyle Wilhelm, whose crosstitiching on his costume as “Wolf Shaman” at the Maryland Renaissance Festival was so good that he got an apprenticeship at Outback Leather, whose clients include  the Renaissance Festival, Medieval Times,  a nearby horse racing track, and several motorcycle clubs. “A costume wizard brings his skills to Maryland Renaissance Festival”. Photo gallery here.

…Like Sargent, Wilhelm describes himself as mostly self-taught. He said he trained as a blacksmith and in animal care-taking, and previously worked part-time gigs as an actor, model and stuntman.

For at least a decade, the 29-year-old said he did leather crafting in his basement before landing at Outback Leather with Sargent and finding his calling.

“Ron’s like my second dad,” Wilhelm said.

(10) HUGO LONG LIST. David Steffen says his “Long List Anthology Volume 5” Kickstarter has now raised enough money to acquire all the stories he could get the rights to.

After the Hugo Awards each year, the World Science Fiction Society (who administer the award) publishes a longer list of works that fans cast nomination votes for.  The works on the ballot get a lot of attention, the purpose of this anthology is to get more readers for these other stories that were also loved by so many fans.  The result each year is a big and ecclectic collection of fiction very different in tone and theme that can act as a sampler for work enjoyed by the Hugo voting audience.

This project is not endorsed by nor affiliated with the Hugo awards, WSFS, WorldCon, or any associated entities. The Hugo name is used with permission.

(11) ALL WET. LAist shows why it’s only natural that a 20-minute theme park show would be more successful than the namesake 3-hour movie: “What Universal Studios’ Waterworld Got Right About A Stunt Show, Wrong About Climate Change”.

“It’s a really odd situation where I think the attraction is far more popular than the movie, in most ways,” Shawn Marshall of theme park site Parks And Cons said. “Probably for a lot of theme park fans, when you say ‘Waterworld,’ we’re all thinking of the Universal show moreso than the movie at this point.”

If you haven’t seen the show, it simplifies the movie’s story and packs it into 20 minutes of pure action. After a pre-show getting the crowd hyped and explaining/showing that you may get very, very wet if you’re in the splash zone, a deep voice comes on over the loudspeakers to explain the story.

(12) THIS IS GENIUS. Richard Paolinelli sent a DMCA takedown notice to the Internet Archive requiring them to remove all saved copies of pages from his blog. And they did. What a hack! Who would have thought he had it in him.

(13) HUNGER GAMES FOR ADULTS. NPR’s Jason Heller finds that “‘The Divers’ Game’ Depicts An Unimaginably Unjust, All Too Believably Cruel World”.

Dystopian stories are, in essence, thought experiments. And few come as thoughtful as The Divers’ Game.

The latest novel from acclaimed author Jesse Ball depicts a world both unimaginably unjust and all too believably cruel: Society has been split into two distinct halves, the pats and the quads, with the former group given unchecked supremacy over the second. It isn’t the most original premise in dystopian fiction, but Ball clearly isn’t trying to reinvent any genre tropes. Rather, he’s plumbing the depths of a familiar conceit, attacking it from a fresh angle, and constructing a parable that’s jarring in its subtle complexity and profound, horrific revelation.

…Ball’s bombshell is undisguised and unapologetic: He’s taking dead aim at current U.S. policy in regard to immigration and the detention of asylum-seekers, and the repercussions he speculates upon leave no doubt as to his standpoint on the topic — even as he expresses them in nested sequence of vicious satire. But his series of modest proposals culminates in the second section of the book, in which the titular’s divers’ game is unveiled. It’s a game played by quad children, and it’s as much of a Shirley Jackson-esque premise as it is an exquisite probe of liminal zones and psychogeography between the privileged and the oppressed.

(14) “…WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS”. “Remake The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!”

Another week, another set of divided opinions online about, well, almost everything.

But this week one thing seemed to unite most people – if Twitter is anything to go by, at least.

Remaking the classic 1987 film The Princess Bride is a bad idea. An even worse idea, in fact, than getting involved in a land war in Asia.

The debate was started by an interview by Variety with Norman Lear, the film’s producer.

He said “very famous people, whose names I won’t use, but they want to redo The Princess Bride.”

Even that tantalising hint was enough to make many fans reach for the gifs.

(15) SHE’S A WONDER. SYFY Wire pens “An ode to Robin Wright, from princess to queen”.

Robin Wright’s breakout role as Buttercup in The Princess Bride left a mark on a lot of childhoods, and it would be difficult to dismiss the importance of that role in her film career going forward. While she’s gone on to play a wide variety of complicated characters, it is also true that the no-nonsense and self-possessed attitude of Buttercup would be a defining characteristic, not just of Wright’s career, but of Wright herself.

More recently, Wright had the chance to play a new icon of feminine power for audiences of all ages with her role as General Antiope in Wonder Woman. In many ways, these are two incredibly different characters, but they both carry with them that sense of sustained defiance that audiences have come to admire in many a Robin Wright role.

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

76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/20/19 Pixels Are Finite, Scrolls Are Infinite

  1. (2) There was also Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965), in which, from the first pages, it’s clear that Earth (or at least the urban environment of the northeastern United States) is terribly hot.

  2. (6) IT’S THE PITTS.

    I’ve just seen Ad Astra at the SuperMegaSoundScreen, and here are my thoughts:
    1) Science and astrophysics purists may find parts of this move infuriating, perhaps to the extent of choosing not to see it. There were some real eye-rolling moments for me, and I’m not even a rocket scientist.
    2) The opening skydiving scene is kickass. Especially if you’ve ever skydived. People with acrophobia should consider themselves content-warned.
    3) The cinematography and effects are spectacular. This movie is a love letter to space exploration.
    4) Brad Pitts gives a convincing performance of someone finally learning to open up emotionally and grow as a human being over the course of the story (and I’m not exactly Pitts’ biggest advocate in terms of his acting skill, so this is saying something, coming from me).
    5) Ruth Negga is transcendent.
    6) Donald Sutherland plays Donald Sutherland.
    7) Tommy Lee Jones plays Tommy Lee Jones.
    8) The score is damn near perfect, to the extent that I’m purchasing it for my own listening.

    If you’re up for a visual feast, and can overlook the scientific implausibilities, go see it, on the biggest screen you can find.

  3. (8) I find I have liked Keith Roberts’ work in fits and spurts, and I prefer his short stories to his novels. Anita is fun for what it is, but the titular witch seems to me more a man’s idea of a boy-crazy young witch than a boy-crazy young witch in actual fact, though some of the stories (especially the ones without boys) are good. I like the stories in Kaeti & Company better–Kaeti is another recurring character who in the framing bits is a sort of character actress who collaborates with the author to put on the stories in the collection, a nice trope, and the first story is a cut above the rest. I also liked the collections The Lordly Ones (I loved the story “Diva” when I read it–a funny bit of fun), Winterwood and Other Hauntings (a collection of weird tales, some extremely good), and Machines and Men (“Boulter’s Canaries” I especially liked, and several of the others as well). The novel I remember best, Molly Zero, had some very good bits here and there but felt like a mess at the end. He had a number of themes that got tiresome–the UK government nuked Manchester in at least two of his stories, if memory served; his trope of the Primitive Heroine (as I understand it) had both good and bad sides to it in how it showed up in his stories for another; and so on.

  4. 8) GRRM may still be sensitive about The Armageddon Rag and its negative impact on his career, judging from his grumpy response to my autograph request at Balticon 50. That hurt because he was one of my favorite authors long before Game of Thrones. Interestingly enough, I bounced off the first ASoIaF novel and, like Cat, I’ve never watched Thrones.

  5. JJ on September 21, 2019 at 12:14 am said:
    (6) IT’S THE PITTS.

    The action scenes were spectacular — I loved the moon buggy chase.

    But that plot was weak sauce.

    And the narration. There was way, way too much Brad Pitt monologuing.

    Ruth Negga was good, but she is underused. She speaks something like seven lines … and no other female character has more than two or three.

  6. 2) I can recall when I finally read Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Lathe of Heaven how surprised I was that the culture was undergoing global warming and related climate change.

    One of the prevailing (untrue) climate change denial narratives at that particular moment was that spec fic and science writing of the late 60s – early 70s was all “Ooh we’re heading for a new Ice Age,” which was being used to discredit all science and thus all present warnings of global warming. (The reason I was surprised was how easy it was to find counterexamples.)

    Regarding the same item, I recently ran across a well-founded argument that anyone these days who still uses the “overpopulation” argument is being an unwitting or deliberate advocate for genocide.

    Apparently the problem never was overpopulation, but rather an inefficient allocation of resources and food. We have enough on this planet to support more people than we have now in relative comfort, if only we turned our attention to getting some to them.

    (The more I look at it, the more “Overpopulation” seems to be a postwar dog-whistle connected to white flight to the suburbs and increasing rage at the existence of nonwhite human beings with human rights.)

    It’s interesting that many of the people shouting loudest about overpopulation (always in nonwhite areas, it would seem) are also shouting about the decreasing birthrate in white people leading to a risk of being “swamped” by (darker-skinned) immigrants. One logically concludes that their sole interest is in having fewer nonwhite people in the world, and when that is the sole goal, war, genocide, and / or unimaginable cruelty are always the means, unspoken or not.

    One has only to look at China’s now-disgraced “One Child Policy” to see the appalling misery that any such policy causes.

    There are proven, lasting ways to reduce population without causing untold suffering.

    Educating women has a tremendous effect on birth rate, lowering it and raising the standard of living for everyone.

    So does giving women ready voluntary access to birth control.

    Anyone claiming an interest in overpopulation who does not advocate for women’s education and ready access to birth control is a hypocrite.

    And better allocation of resources is a better way of approaching the situation than war and genocide anyway. Makes the world better instead of infinitely worse, sort of thing, makes people healthier, happier, and more capable instead of turning the world into a charnel house.

  7. “… anyone these days who still uses the ‘overpopulation’ argument is being an unwitting or deliberate advocate for genocide.”

    Some are, but some are not. It is possible to believe that human population size is adversely affecting levels of wildlife extinction, wildland destruction, and fossil fuel extraction and other factors that contribute to global warming, while ALSO advocating for women’s education and ready access to birth control, and WITHOUT thinking that (a) this is a problem that only, or even primarily, applies to poor or nonwhite areas of the world (believing instead that the regions that use the most resources per capita are likely the greatest problem), and also without (b) thinking that anyone, anywhere should be murdered because of this.

  8. Rob Thornton says GRRM may still be sensitive about The Armageddon Rag and its negative impact on his career, judging from his grumpy response to my autograph request at Balticon 50. That hurt because he was one of my favorite authors long before Game of Thrones. Interestingly enough, I bounced off the first ASoIaF novel and, like Cat, I’ve never watched Thrones.

    I’m reasonably sure, though I’ve no recollection due to the missing years due to the brain trauma, that I read two of them, before deciding theu just weren’t my cup of Early Grey hot. I did try to revisit them by listening to them but I found the Roy Dotrice narration to absolutely appalling.

  9. Camestros Felapton says OK – I hope that wasn’t due to my speculation about the nature of archive sites.

    He does knowthat you can easily block the search engines from archiving your sites? Oh my bad. He’s not that smart, is he.

  10. But, does Ad Astra end on a depressing note? If it does, that combined with acrophobia issues would mean I should probably skip it.

    Remaking The Princess Bride? No. Good movies don’t need remakes, and it’s rare that a remake of a good movie finds anything original and interesting to say.

  11. 6) The reviews I’ve read make this out to be “Daddy Issues: The Movie”, so hard pass from me.

    8) Count me among the Armageddon Rag fans. Does anyone else think <rot13>gur ohyyrg gung xvyyrq Uboovg<rot13> came from where I think it came from?

    8bis) If not formally SF, Leverage is most certainly SF-adjacent.

  12. Patrick Morris Miller: The reviews I’ve read make this out to be “Daddy Issues: The Movie”, so hard pass from me.

    I would classify it as “damaged person finally works through a lot of their damage, starts to heal, and becomes a more full, open, and somewhat happy human being” movie. If some science/astrophysics issues won’t drive you absolutely up the wall, I really, really recommend it.

    (Olav is right; while three women have non-trivial roles and there are a few women in incidental roles, it’s disappointing that all of the major roles are men.)

    Lis Carey: But, does Ad Astra end on a depressing note? If it does, that combined with acrophobia issues would mean I should probably skip it.

    Lis, there’s some violence and a number of deaths. I found the skydiving scene (a freefall from a miles-high space antenna which explodes) really exhilarating, but I’m a speed junkie. So those are definitely things to be considered. But I found the ending really hopeful and uplifting. And the cinematography and the effects are magnificent.

  13. The one novel by GRRM that I’ve read is “Dying of the Light”. I haven’t read (or seen) GoT, and don’t plan to do so.

  14. (6) There was a review of Ad Astra whose headline was Space Pitt. A missed opportunity. I tweeted they should have gone with Pitt’s in Space! He did used to look a bit like Link Hogthrob.

    (7) At the time, the rumor was that they had intended to show Buck Rogers as a TV movie to launch the series, but decided to cash in on the demand for SF movies by showing it in theaters. I had intended to see it in the theater, but dodged a bullet and missed out. The second season wasn’t as bad.

  15. It wouldn’t necessarily be a remake as much as a re-adaptation. Maybe they could use some of the material Goldman cut from the original S. Morgenstern masterpiece.

    But seriously, I could get behind a new Princess Bride movie only if it were a musical.

  16. @Lis Carey

    it’s rare that a remake of a good movie finds anything original and interesting to say

    I’m not trying to be contrary here, but it does happen. I think all of the following remakes are better than the original film, or are pretty darn good in ways that the original film was not.
    The Fly – Jeff Goldblum version (Jeff Goldblum enhances any film)
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Jeff Goldblum version (see above; likewise Donald Sutherland)
    The Departed
    Escape from Witch Mountain (cause it had The Rock)
    Ocean’s Eleven
    To Be or Not to Be (Mel Brooks vs Ernst Lubitsch)
    Little Shop of Horrors
    The Thing
    True Grit
    The Magnificent Seven
    Scarface (One can only lament that Edward G. Robinson never said “Say Hello to mah lil fren”)
    Cape Fear (and kudos to Scorsese for going for the Hitchcock vibe by reusing the orginal Bernard Hermann soundtrack and getting Saul Bass to do the titles)
    Casino Royale

    Arguing about things like this is exactly what the internet was made for. So if you are still feeling contentious, but are worn out by the AO3 discussion, feel free to challenge anything on this list.

  17. (1) From the linked article:
    ““Murder” is a heavy charge to put on someone without proof. I can’t accept it.”

    Is there any doubt that, if Alice had done what she did all the way up to pulling the trigger on herself, but had stopped short of that, she would have been tried for murder? And found to have done it?

  18. And while the original film adaptation of The Maltese Falcon has its own charm, it’s the re-adaptation with Bogart, Greenstreet, Lorre, etc., that gets all of the praise.

  19. @bill–I said it’s rare, not that it never happens. You are free to make your own list, as long as you like and with whatever reasons you favor. I’m not interested in having an argument just because you feel like being argumentative and, yes, contrary.

    Now, if you haven’t got something better to do than argue, go play with our “visitors.”

  20. @bill

    Is there any doubt that, if Alice had done what she did all the way up to pulling the trigger on herself, but had stopped short of that, she would have been tried for murder? And found to have done it?

    That’s two different questions. The first one – yes, absolutely, she would have been tried for murder. The second?

    Yes, it’s likely she would have been found guilty of murder, since the insanity defense in the US is almost never successful. But that doesn’t mean such a verdict would necessarily be just in her case.

    It IS possible for a person with severe mental illness to be justly found guilty of murder (as happened with Andrew Goldstein who killed Kendra Webdale, as in Kendra’s Law in New York).

    It is also sadly possible for people with severe mental illness to be condemned unjustly for murder when they absolutely could not have met the criteria for criminal responsibility of McNaughten’s rule – as Andrea Yates was condemned for murder in her first trial, for killing her children while suffering from a clear case of postpartum psychosis.

    The difference is important, and can only be distinguished by a careful examination of evidence in each case…what the witnesses said, (like in Sheldon’s case the police who visited the house on the night of the killing and spoke to both Alice and Ting Sheldon), what the victim said, and what the accused said, both before and after the killing. In Sheldon’s case, we will never be able to go over that evidence. So the doubt will remain.

  21. Good gosh, Lis, that was an attempt at light-heartedly saying “let’s have a discussion about movies instead of continuing the tedious back and forth about Hugos and AO3.” I am not looking for an argument, I’m looking for a discussion, and framing as “a better subject for argument than AO3 and Hugos” apparently was a mistake.

    If it came across as “I disagree with Lis, and dammit here’s why she’s wrong”, then I did it poorly and I’m sorry.

    In attempts to start over, can I try: “Oh, I don’t know. Are there any movies you find to be an exception to the general principle, which I agree with? Here are a few I find to be improvements, or at least, quality restatements.”

  22. 8) Perhaps if GRRM looked grumpy when asked to sign The Armageddon Rag, that’s less because of The Armageddon Rag than because he usually presents himself as grumpy. I found it a captivating novel, far more interesting than Game of Thrones (the first book, which is as far as I got), though I like his early short fiction best of all.

    12) Internet Archive says on its site that it will take down any page at the request of its owner. You don’t need a DMCA takedown notice to receive this service.

  23. @jayn
    Ever since this subject has come up, in my comments I have tried to be careful to frame the act as “murder”, rather than framing Alice as a “murderer.” I don’t know enough about her mental state to assert she was culpable, and I can certainly see the argument that she was not.

    My initial draft of the comment finished “found guilty” instead of “found to have done it”, but I changed it because of the possibility she was not sane at the moment it happened.

    But there is no doubt in my mind that the unchallenged facts about what she did, i.e., willfully consciously taking the life of Ting, was (by any reasonable definition of the word) “murder”. Even if at the moment it happened, he was begging her “please do this”, it was murder.

    I continually see people ducking this when discussing it, as if there is a possibility that it was somehow justified, and thus was not murder, or she was not responsible because of her own illness, and it was not murder. Whether or not you think it was morally or ethically justified (I don’t, but I won’t deny your right to think so), what she did was still murder. “The victim was in pain”, “the victim wanted to die”, etc., does not change that. And my relatively-uninformed opinion is that she did not meet the McNaughten standard of not knowing the difference between right and wrong [oversimplification, but . . .] thus she was guilty. YMMV, and mine could too, if I had some currently-unknowable facts about the day. But even if she legally was insane, that’s only a defense to the charge. It doesn’t change the event itself.

    The act itself was murder. Phillips was evading the issue, and I was responding to that.

  24. Whether or not Sheldon was legally of sound mind seems to me to be very much a red herring, at least so far as the award name goes. Either she was competent and murdered her disabled husband or she was not competent and still murdered her disabled husband.

    I think if one is objecting to the name of the award on the grounds that we are valorizing a caregiver murderer, the key bit is really the guy who was murdered, not Sheldon’s mental health.

  25. DB: 12) Internet Archive says on its site that it will take down any page at the request of its owner. You don’t need a DMCA takedown notice to receive this service.

    Wouldn’t that mean Richard Paolinelli, then, isn’t a genius for thinking of doing it with a DMCA takedown notice? Huh. I’m disappointed.

  26. @8: I’ve read Pavane; it grows on one. I’ve read two Keith Roberts collections, The Grain Kings and Kaeti & Company. The former has a couple of stories (that I remember — there may be others) that are contemptuous of and/or degrading to the female characters; the latter is … strange, but ISTM the character sometimes has agency (and sometimes is put in non-agent situations to make the author’s point, e.g. his lack of support for capital punishment.) Anita is much lighter, but very much of its time. (Sample punch line: from the first story, when she’s sent out to do mischief after being brought into her powers: Granny: Did you Turn anything? Anita: I turned a perfectly lovely motorcar into a side lane.” cf @Ferret Bueller’s comment about a man’s idea of a witch — although I’d add the question of why she’s boy-crazy at all (a 1960’s assumption?).)

    also @8: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back” also starred Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz. I saw a local video-relay of that show; I was not utterly blown away by it (I saw the original Player King, John Wood, live in a revival) but it was a very good production.

    also also @8: Blaylock is almost as strange as his pal/coconspirator Tim Powers; IMO he’s not as good, but that leaves a lot of room to be good in.

    @11: I’m amused that they claim the movie as a profitable[sic] title because of the number of people who have seen the live show; the attendance they quote would make a middling-successful (at best) movie these days, especially considering the ongoing payroll, and AFAICT there’s no separate admission fee for the show so any claim of revenue from it amounts to handwaving. It does look spectacular, thought — too bad WFC is on the far side of the metroplex from the tour.

    @Peace Is My Middle Name: what @Kyra said. And the resource-distribution argument is debatable; among other issues is that energy (unlike tangible resource) is not trivially storable — making sure food gets to hungry people before it spoils is easier than making sure they have energy sources that don’t make their lives worse. (Yes, I know there are tech samples, some of which have been very successful. Scaling up requires both capital and education.)

    @Patrick Morris Miller: I don’t know what you think. If you think it was gur ~cebqhpre’f cybl gb trg zbarl bhg bs abfgnytvn jvgubhg gur vapbairavrapr bs na npghny tebhc, you’re hardly alone.

    The local paper gave Ad Astra a meh review — 2.5 stars, and grumbles about how long some of the scenes were — but I get the feeling the reviewer wouldn’t have liked 2001 either if they’d seen it originally rather than after the accumulation of reputation.

    @David Shallcross: you monster! (And considering what the left-out parts are supposed to be like, I can’t imagine somebody wasting time with them.)

    @bill: some of those are debatable, but Little Shop of Horrors just doesn’t belong on the list as it’s a musical adaptation rather than a remake. And a number of the others were originally made cheaply (although none as cheaply as LSoH), so remaking with a decent budget could be expected to give good results; aside from the ROUSes, I don’t see anything that modern tech could improve on.

  27. I don’t disagree about budgets, and that modern tech improves on what old tech can do. But I included it because I think it is simply a better movie, irrespective of the resources that the filmmakers were able to bring to the production. The original is interesting because it was able to be watchable at all on a minuscule budget; I don’t really consider it to be a particularly “good” movie otherwise. The Rick Moranis (Rick Moranis! Steve Martin! Bill Murray!) version is an okay movie, though.

    And the ROUS are perfect as they were filmed. As is every other frame of Princess Bride. There is no reason to remake the movie, unless you want to announce “I’m a Philistine!” Cary Elwes said it best.

  28. Keith Roberts published a number of shorts in New Writings. (I have 8 of them, but none of the titles jog any recollection of their contents.)

  29. @Red Wombat
    Julie Phillips’ post explicitly disassociated itself from the decision about the renaming of the award, expressing only confidence in the decision made by the board in charge of the award (who did rename it).

    Neither did my post to bill make any reference to the award. FWIW, I also agree that the award should be renamed. But I don’t think that’s relevant to bill’s question that I was answering regardiing Sheldon, not the award that used to be named after her pseudonym.

  30. @Jayn – Sure, but none of this would even be on any of our radar this week if not for the award name situation.

  31. Chip Hitchcock says Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back” also starred Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz. I saw a local video-relay of that show; I was not utterly blown away by it (I saw the original Player King, John Wood, live in a revival) but it was a very good production.

    I endeavour where possible to include theatre undertakings for Birthday Honours where they’re genre or genre adjacent. Sometimes they’re easy to find, sometimes they’re not.

  32. OGH says Wouldn’t that mean Richard Paolinelli, then, isn’t a genius for thinking of doing it with a DMCA takedown notice? Huh. I’m disappointed.

    Well he’s not a genius by any measurable standard. And why did he have them take his site down anyways? Was he that embarrassed by what’s up at his site which admittedly has some of the most idiotic ravings I’ve ever seen?

  33. @bill
    I certainly don’t believe (nor do I think I implied) that Alice Sheldon’s killing of Ting Sheldon was in any way “morally or ethically justified” any more than I think Andrea Yates’ killing of her children was “morally or ethically justified” when I brought it up as a paralel. I don’t see how you can get that from what I wrote.

    What I DO take exception to is the attitude that Sheldon is absolutely and without question a cold-blooded murderer and that ANY discussion of her mental illness at the time regarding that conclusion is offensive and obscene in itself. (I’m not saying that’s necessarily YOUR attitude, bill, but it’s one I’ve seen a lot of in the wake of the Tiptree award contoversy.) That attitude that “mental illness is a bullshit excuse! S/he absolutely WAS legally responsible!” is the kind of kneejerk unthinking confidence that will get future jurors to unjustly condemn future Andrea Yateses. Less dramatically but still damagingly, the “mental illness is just a bullshit excuse!” attitude is used every day to judge and condemn people with mental illness because society considers they are just maliciously shirking their responsibilities when they plead for help and support. That’s why I feel I have to speak out against that attitude.

  34. P J Evans says

    (makes mental note to avoid Paolinelli’s books)
    (wonders if shoggoth would like them)

    Well I’ve already blacklisted him from getting Birthday Honours. I do have my standards and he in no way meets them. Besides he hates our OGH and the very existence of File 770, so I’m returning the favour.

  35. @Chip Hitchcock: I suspect that gur ohyyrg sverq ng gur erhavba pbapreg, juvpu jnf arire sbhaq, geniryyrq onpx va gvzr naq uvg Uboovg. No, I have no idea how it managed to pull that off.

  36. @RedWombat

    I’m sorry, I’ve been trying to stay away from this issue, for my own mental health, but your comment that the only important thing is that Sheldon murdered her disabled husband has me trying to figure something else out. If you don’t want to engage further, that’s okay; feel free to ignore.

    Is there a significant difference in these two scenarios?

    #1 — Two people make a suicide pact. One day, one is told he has only a short time to live. “Hmm, how odd, I feel fine.” The other shoots both of them.

    #2 — Two people make a suicide pact. One day, one is told he has only a short time to live. “Hmm, no wonder I feel so terrible and can barely manage to struggle through each day.” The other shoots both of them.

    These are fictional scenarios, I’m not claiming this is what happened. I’m trying to wrap my head around why people feel what they feel. Thanks.

  37. (13) I haven’t read this yet (just picked up a copy this afternoon), but Ball is a brilliant writer, many of whose novels are either genre or closely genre-adjacent.

  38. @Hampus: 8) Fevre Dream is my favourite GRRM. One of the best vampire books ever written.

    Totally agree. And the epilogue to that book is one of the most perfect endings to any novel I have ever read.

  39. Good news! On a random impulse, I checked the Kindle Store for S.P. Somtow’s Chronicles of the High Inquest, and all four books are there! He has other miscellaneous works on Kindle as well. Unfortunately, the Riverrun trilogy is incomplete. But having digital copies of Light on the Sound and company is extremely pleasant, especially I only have two out of the four books in meatspace.

  40. On further thought, a version of The Princess Bride set in West Africa might be worthwhile, if only so that Florin and Guilder could be neighbors to Guinea.

    ((It’s a currency thing))

  41. @bill–You said,

    I’m not trying to be contrary here, but it does happen.

    (Note that I hadn’t said it didn’t happen; only that I find it to be rare.)


    Arguing about things like this is exactly what the internet was made for. So if you are still feeling contentious, but are worn out by the AO3 discussion, feel free to challenge anything on this list.

    And, after days and days of heavily contentious “discussion,” which I have mostly, though admittedly not entirely, avoided, precisely because too much of this is very distressing to me (which doesn’t mean I never get drawn in, because I continue to act as if people can be reasoned with, despite a lifetime of experience to the contrary). I commented on something that surely couldn’t be on occasion of nasty contention.

    And you respond, quite literally, by suggesting I might “still” feel contentious…

    And you can’t figure out why I wouldn’t have instantly responded to what you think was an obviously friendly gesture…

    I have had a lifetime–literally, since the birth of my younger sister–of being expected to pour out soothing oils on any waters of contention, being blamed when it doesn’t work, and being blamed when the toddler the adults around us found unusually difficult to manage, would barrel out of nowhere to slam into me when I was holding something that shouldn’t be spilled or dropped. ‘Cause, see, I was ten years older, and… And what I don’t know. No one could ever tell me why I was supposed to have magical powers the adults didn’t have.

    And yeah, if something reads hostile, I tend to assume it’s hostile.

    My sister eventually grew up. As long as my mother lived, I never ceased being held responsible for problems caused by manipulative skills my sister had developed by the time she was two. My sister is smart. She is capable. She has great family loyalty…though I remain the least important member of her family. But against what she perceives as an outside threat? The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.

    But I’m still wrong about 90% of the time, even when she reaches the exact same conclusion that I did previously.

    But, hey, that’s not real abuse, right?

    (Probably I have rambled way off the point.)

  42. Started to read Cultivation Chat Group, a silly, ridiculous and fun take on Cultivation stories (i.e the chinese genre of people honing their bodies with techniques and potions to handle qi and grow powerful). The base plot is that an 18-year old student is by accident added to a chat group of ancient cultivators. Not knowing why, he lurks in the group wondering if the other participants are LARPing or if they are insane in some way, growing vary when they start talking about making potions from what he sees as poisonous herbs.

    It is a kind of slow moving plot, but it is goofy, sweet and it is fun to read about these ancient cultivators talking to each other with emoticons. Not sure if it is the best entry into the cultivation genre, but I will stick to it.

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