Pixel Scroll 9/24/23 The Decimated Pixel Of Doom

(0) WGA/AMPTP REACH DEAL. Shortly after the Scroll was posted, I received this news item reported by Variety: “Deal! WGA, AMPTP Agree to Deal After 146-Day Writers Strike”.

Hollywood heaves a sigh of relief. The WGA and major studios and streamers have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that promises to end the 146-day strike that has taken a heavy toll across the content industry.

Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the finish line Sunday after five consecutive days of negotiations. Day 4 on Saturday mostly involved lawyers for the guild and AMPTP hashing out the fine print of language around complicated and groundbreaking additions to the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement. The nitty-gritty details of language around the use of generative AI in content production was one of the last items that the sides worked on before closing the pact.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA Negotiating Committee wrote in an email to sent to members at 7:10 p.m. PT (Full text below).

The three-year contract will be sent to WGA members for a ratification vote. After nearly five months on strike – the work stoppage began May 2 – it’s highly likely to pass muster with the WGA’s 11,000 members, especially with the enthusiastic endorsement of WGA leaders. As momentum built this week, negotiators began to look at the approach of the Yom Kippur holiday on Sunday as a soft target deadline….

(1) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE. Voting for 2023 Hugo Award, Astounding Award and Lodestar Award closes less than a week from now on September 30 at 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian Time.  Don’t miss your chance to cast and update your ballot before the deadline.

(2) YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM. I dreamed last night I was watching a stand-up comic perform. He got to part of a story where emergency vehicles were responding to a situation and he was imitating the siren/bell/electronic squawks they made — which was surprising (and possibly unlikely) he could do with his voice alone, but it was mentally up to me to decide when he had made enough different noises to be funny but without doing too many to kill the joke. Apparently I woke up at the point I decided he’d done enough.

(3) FIFTH ELEMENTS. New Scientist presents “Five of sci-fi’s best corporate villains, according to author John Scalzi”. Read fast – New Scientist lets you read for a few seconds before blocking with a request that you register for an account to continue reading.

In my latest novel Starter Villain, the book’s protagonist, Charlie Fitzer, inherits his mysterious uncle’s vast corporate empire – only to discover that underpinning it all is a supervillainy business that rivals anything that James Bond’s adversaries might have ever imagined.

While my book takes place in today’s world, there are definitely unexpected elements (wait until you meet the cats!) that make for a mash-up of wild science fiction and modern corporatised evil. But of course, Starter Villain isn’t the first work to blend the two concepts.

Submitted below, for your approval, are five cinematic (non-007) works from across several decades that have offered up the sort of villains who show up in my novel….

One of his choices is:

Aliens(1986): In the original Alien (1979), it is clear that the Weyland-Yutani corporation that has sent the crew of the Nostromo to pick up a murderous, extraterrestrial egg values its military branch’s profits more than humans. But in this excellent and rather tonally different sequel, that corporate ethos is given a face in Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), a striving middle-management type who just doesn’t understand why Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) can’t see the financial opportunity the aliens offer the company. Appropriately, it’s the aliens themselves who eventually show him the error of his ways.

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Chengdu Science Fiction Season. I’m not sure how officially these are associated with the Worldcon, but there have been a few events under the “2023 Chengdu Science Fiction Season” branding, which include the Chengdu Worldcon name and panda logo on their photos and videos.

On September 15th, writer 泽泽 / Ze Ze gave a talk at a Chengdu primary school about the history of SF, which apparently went as far as explaining the difference between hard and soft SF.

This is another talk to schoolkids, this time by La Zi (aka Latssep), who works at SF World magazine, and co-edited one of the Best Fanzine finalists.  This line caught my eye:

First of all, [La Zi] started by talking about three “major science fiction events” that happened around us, the World Science Fiction Conference, The Wandering Earth, General Secretary Xi’s speech…

That’s the Google Translate rendering, but I also put that text through the DeepL and Vivaldi Lingvanex translators, and they all came out with similar results.

This took place on September 16 in Chengdu, and featured Best Short Story finalist Lu Ban alongside a moderator and a couple of others.

I’m not sure when exactly this took place.  The Friday post talks about an event that happened this afternoon (Sunday 24th), but has a video of the panel, so whatever happened today can’t have been that panel?  (I think that panel may have been streamed live, per the text in the top right of the video?)  The panelists include one of the Worldcon division heads, and a couple of writers who’ve had  stories published in English translation.

The people on stage, from left:

  • The lady hosting the panel is  / Chen Yao aka Sara Chen, who works at SF World magazine, and is one of the Worldcon division heads.
  • The guy in the black North Face polo shirt is 谢云宁 / Xie Yunning, who won the Xingyun Best Novel award in 2021, but doesn’t seem to have had anything published in English.
  • Third panelist (guy with glasses) is 阿缺 / A Que, who has had several stories published in Clarkesworld, and also one in the Sinopticon anthology.
  • The lady in the blue top is 程婧波 / Cheng Jingbo, who has also had a few stories translated into English, and has an SFE entry https://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/cheng_jingbo
  • Fifth panelist (guy with glasses)  天瑞说符 / Tianrui Fu, webnovelist. He has a translation of one of his works available on Amazon ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Die-Mars-Chinese-science-fiction-ebook/dp/B07YH2HXR7 ), but from a very quick skim, it doesn’t look like anyone who was a native speaker was involved in the translation.
  • Rightmost panelist: 张玉乐 / Zhang Yule, president of a university SF society

Early on, after giving an overview of what Worldcons are, and a bit of background about the Hugos, between 17:45 and 20:05, Chen Yao namechecks all the Hugo finalists that SF World has published, has scheduled to publish in the future, or employs (in the case of the editor finalists), all of which were on the recommendation list mentioned in the Scroll a couple of months ago. I’m sure none of that is an attempt to influence Hugo voters….

(5) THE GODS THEMSELVES. “Krapopolis Review: Dan Harmon Sitcom Off to Promising Start” declares Variety.

Ever since the success, demise, rebirth and extended afterlife of the NBC-turned-Yahoo sitcom “Community,” the showrunner Dan Harmon has largely avoided the strictures of network TV. With his cynical streak and meta references, Harmon’s niche sensibility was always an awkward fit for a mass audience; even when “Community” was on the air, it was perpetually on the verge of cancellation. As television expanded rapidly in the 2010s, Harmon found a more natural home in cable and streaming. Despite the departure of “Rick and Morty” co-creator and star Justin Roiland amid allegations of sexual assault, the hit show is now entering its seventh season on Adult Swim; earlier this year, Harmon helped adapt the web comic “Strange Planet” into a series for Apple TV+.

With the animated half-hour “Krapopolis,” however, Harmon makes his official return to a broadcast network. Airing on Fox, “Krapopolis” is at least guaranteed the stability “Community” never enjoyed; ahead of its premiere on Sept. 24, the show has already been renewed through Season 3. And due to the ongoing strikes, “Krapopolis” is now, by default, one of the tentpoles of its network’s fall schedule, with new live-action series postponed until further notice.

That’s a heavy load to bear for an amusing, high-concept riff on the family sitcom set in an extremely loose rendition of ancient Greece. Physically weak and intellectually arrogant, 29-year-old Tyrannis (Richard Ayoade) is a man ahead of his time, so he’s recruited his warrior sister Stupendous (Pam Brady) and scientist half-brother Hippocampus (Duncan Trussell) to help him build a modern city-state. (“He tells powerless people they’re powerful and they like that, so they give him all their power,” one citizen says of Tyrannis’ skill set.) But first, Tyrannis must persuade the skeptical, not least among them his own parents: vain goddess Deliria (Hannah Waddingham) and Shlub (Matt Berry), a manticore-like hybrid of several different creatures….

(6) SFF THAT IS UNEXPECTEDLY PREDICTIVE. Gizmodo says this is “The Summer That Reality Caught Up to Climate Fiction”.

…What once sounded outlandish, like material for a dystopian novel, is looking more and more like reality. So what is a writer of fiction supposed to do? For decades, authors have speculated what the world might look like when the climate from hell arrives. Consider American War by Omar El Akkad, set in 2074 during the outbreak of a civil war set off by a ban on fossil fuels, when Florida is erased from the map and Louisiana is half-underwater. In the six years since the book’s publication, the United States has become the most deeply polarized democracy in recent history; the intensity of heat waves and other disasters have eclipsed expectations. Earlier this year, the magazine Writer’s Digest called American War an “all-too-realistic cautionary tale.”

But El Akkad never intended it to be realistic at all. I asked him if it felt like the novel was starting to come true. “I thought that the way I had structured it was enough of an extrapolation that I wouldn’t have to deal with precisely the question you’re asking,” El Akkad told me. “And that has been obliterated in the last few years. That, to me, is terrifying.”

Extreme weather has melted the distinction between fact and fiction. As El Akkad described it, global warming doesn’t feel slow and steady; it feels more like falling down the stairs, with big drops that shake your expectations. One moment, you’re taking a nap in your house; the next, you’re running for your life from a wildfire. This year, a naturally hotter weather pattern called El Niño started setting in, adding extra heat on top of the climate change we’ve become accustomed to. July was the planet’s hottest month on record, clocking in at 1.5 degrees C (2.4 F) warmer than the preindustrial average. The disasters this summer serve as a preview of what the world could see during a typical year in the early 2030s. We no longer need authors or scientists to imagine it; real-world experience does the trick for anyone who’s paying close attention…..

(7) HWA LATINX INTERVIEW SERIES. “Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Javier Loustaunau” is the latest in the Horror Writers Association blog’s series.

What inspired you to start writing?

I grew up in a house surrounded by books so there was never a moment where I did not think I was going to write, it felt like everyone must write for there to be this many books. Really, I was just impatient to grow up a little and become a better writer, somebody who did not have to lean so hard imitating other writers. One thing that helped me as a writer was when I reached out to the Marvel editorial asking for help on becoming a comic book writer and I got a response from Stan Lee (or more likely his assistant) telling me it does not matter what I write but I need to write every single day if I want to improve. So I wrote letters, I wrote reviews, I wrote poems, I translated, I journaled… but I made sure I always wrote every single day. 

(8) SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. Rebecca F. Kuang shares literary and cultural recommendations with the Guardian in: “On my radar: Rebecca F Kuang’s cultural highlights”. The second item is —

2. Fiction

Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

A few months ago, I hosted a friend from Colombia who was touring my university. After a morning walk in the cemetery, we ended up at the campus Barnes & Noble, where we picked out favourite novels for the other to read. Rather predictably, we went for the Nobel laureates – I chose for her Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and she chose Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. She also included a random bonus pick – a short, translated novel by Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, which I enjoyed so much I have since copied out the following passage about writing in several letters to friends: “All this, yes, the story is history. But knowing beforehand so you never forget that the word is the fruit of the word, the word must resemble the word. Reaching it is my first duty to myself. And the word can’t be dressed up and artistically vain, it can only be itself. Well, it’s true that I also wanted to arrive at a sheer sensation and for it to be so sheer that it couldn’t break into a perpetual line.” The word can only be itself. Good advice for every time I sit down to write….

(9) REST IN PEACE TACO CAT. Cat Rambo shared this sad news today:

Earlier this year Taco was part of our Cats Sleep on SFF series in “Proud Pink Sky” – photo at the link.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 Bert Ira Gordon. He not only wrote but directed such films as Serpent IslandKing DinosaurThe Amazing Colossal ManEarth vs. the SpiderVillage of the Giants and Empire of the Ants. Aren’t those truly deliciously pulpy SF film titles?  (I need more adjectives, I truly do.) Forrest J Ackerman nicknamed him “Mr. B.I.G.” a reference to both his initials and his films’ tendency to feature super-sized creatures. (Died 2023.)
  • Born September 24, 1930 Jack Gaughan. Artist and illustrator who won the Hugo several times including once for Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist in the same year. Most of his work from 1970 onward was for Ace and DAW. He illustrated the covers and hand-lettered title pages for the unauthorized first paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings which Ace released in 1965. Here’s those covers he did for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 24, 1934 John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches, (yes I know it’s now considered misogynistic) The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. (I think they really did far too many Muppets films.) (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 David Drake, 78. I’d say his best-known solo work was the Hammer’s Slammers series. He has also written the Royal Cinnabar Navy series which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels which i be not read. Opinions please on if I should do so. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. Usual suspects for those of you are curious being Apple Books, Kindle and Kobo. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 Ian Stewart, 78. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1957 Brad Bird, 66. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films, a most excellent role indeed. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 Richard K. Morgan, 58. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series that I’ve read at least twice which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is still on my TBR To Be Listened To pile. I read the first of the Black Man series and will admit that I was far from impressed. 


  • Bizarro is kind of a police procedural. Sort of.
  • Brewster Rockit is a didactic strip about the OSIRIS-Rex mission, with a surprise twist at the end.
  • Tom Gauld reveals another benefit of reading.
  • And Tom Gauld knows something about co-workers’ social lives.

(12) SHRINKING COMICS SECTION. Cartoonist Dave Kellett on X reports Gannett Newspapers is cost-cutting and has limited ALL its 200 papers to just these 34 comics.

The Daily Cartoonist has a list of “The Gannett 34”.

The USA TODAY Network/Gannett group has released a list of the selected 34 comic strips and panels that local editors and publishers will* choose from to run in their newspapers – not all will run in all (any?) of the papers.

The chosen strips and panels:

Group 1: Blondie, Zits, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, Hagar the Horrible, Dennis the Menace

Group 2: Garfield, Peanuts, For Better or Worse, Baby Blues, Pickles, FoxTrot

Group 3: Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start, Ziggy, Marmaduke, Non Sequitur, Crabgrass

Group 4 Crankshaft, Luann, Baldo, Frank & Ernest, The Born Loser   

Group 5: B.C., Wizard of Id, Close to Home, Argyle Sweater, Mother Goose, Rose is Rose

Group 6: Hi & Lois, Mutts, Curtis, Shoe, The Lockhorns

(13) DRAGONSLAYER. On the “DARK DISNEY – Part 1: Dragonslayer (1981)” episode of Erik Hanson’s Cradle to the Grave podcast the host is joined by guests Clay McLeod Chapman, Junot Diaz, and Stephen Bissette.

Have you ever wanted to see a Disney movie where the Princess gets her foot chewed off by a baby dragon? Well, look no further, Dragonslayer has you covered! Here to chat about said foot-chewing are 3 of the biggest Dragonslayer fans I could find: Author Clay McLeod Chapman, Author Junot Diaz, and comic book writer / artist Stephen Bissette. Together we dive deep into the era known as “Dark Disney” and come to the realization that Disney has ALWAYS BEEN DARK!

(14) I COULD HAVE HAD A V-2.  The National Air and Space Museum blog article “Restoring the Museum’s V-2 Missile” goes into fascinating detail about the history of the components in the museum’s V-2, and the painstaking research to explain which of the paint jobs applied over the years might be the most historically accurate.

One of the icons of the Museum’s location on the National Mall has been the black-and-white German V-2 ballistic missile. Ever since the building opened in July 1976, it stood in Space Hall, which in 1997 was revised to become Space Race. That rocket, currently off display, will return in a new guise, with green camouflage paint, when the hall reopens in a few years as RTX Living in the Space Age….

In a parallel project, Duane Decker of the Preservation and Restoration Unit redid the V-2 launch stand, which is original German mobile launch equipment transferred by NASA Marshall in 1975. Painted black, it was used to support the missile in Space Hall/Space Race. When he stripped it, he found no original paint. I consulted with Tracy Dungan, who supplied 1944 images that showed German stands painted in “dark yellow,” the late-war Wehrmacht vehicle camouflage. Duane painted ours in that color and it will once again support the rocket when it goes back on display in RTX Living in the Space Age. 

This time the stand and rocket will be on top of a pedestal in the Missile Pit, the hole in the center of the gallery floor that allows taller rockets to fit under the roof. Lifted up to floor level, visitors will be able to see the stand and the rocket much as they would have looked during the V-2 campaign of 1944-1945. I very much look forward to the day when we again assemble and mount this important and deadly icon of the missile and space age.

The Museum’s V-2 rocket in the Space Race exhibition in 2006.

(15) SUCCESSION. The Guardian says “Studio Ghibli to be acquired by Nippon TV after struggle to find a successor to Miyazaki”.

Weeks after the celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki made his long-awaited comeback, the studio he founded almost four decades ago has secured its long-term future, easing concerns over its struggle to find a successor.

Studio Ghibli said this week that the company would be acquired by the private broadcaster, Nippon TV, which promised to continue building on Ghibli’s global success.

Miyazaki – widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest animators – founded Studio Ghibli in 1985, leading it to a string of successes, including an Oscar in 2003 for Spirited Away.

The studio built a loyal following around the world with films like My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, while Miyazaki was nominated for two further Academy Awards – for Howl’s Moving Castle in 2006 and The Wind Rises in 2014 – the same year he was chosen to receive an honorary Oscar.

The agreement with Nippon TV, which will become Ghibli’s biggest shareholder, came after Miyazaki, 82, and its president, 75-year-old Toshio Suzuki, failed to persuade Miyazaki’s son to take over the running of the studio….

(16) HONEY, I’M HOME. “In a first, NASA returns asteroid samples to Earth”NBC News has the story.

A capsule containing precious samples from an asteroid landed safely on Earth on Sunday, the culmination of a roughly 4-billion-mile journey over the past seven years.

The asteroid samples were collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which flew by Earth early Sunday morning and jettisoned the capsule over a designated landing zone in the Utah desert. The unofficial touchdown time was 8:52 a.m. MT, 3 minutes ahead of the predicted landing time.

The dramatic event — which the NASA livestream narrator described as “opening a time capsule to our ancient solar system” — marked a major milestone for the United States: The collected rocks and soil were NASA’s first samples brought back to Earth from an asteroid. Experts have said the bounty could help scientists unlock secrets about the solar system and how it came to be, including how life emerged on this planet….

And — “NASA collected a sample from an asteroid for the first time — here’s why it matters”The Verge will be happy to explain.

(17) A PART OF ONE PIECE. Gizmodo thinks “Jamie Lee Curtis May Have Achieved Her Dream of Being in One Piece” based on this Instagram.

(18) ANIME EXPLORATIONS. The prospect of Jamie Lee Curtis being cast in One Piece is also one of several topics taken up in episode 12 of the Anime Explorations Podcast, “Shirobako”. Another is Anime industry figures referenced in Shirobako. And Vampire Hunter D.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Steven French, Alexander Case, Kathy Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/24/23 The Decimated Pixel Of Doom

  1. (9) Aww. 🙁

    (10) David Drake also wrote “Old Nathan” stories — which were anthologized in the “Old Nathan” collection. Has anyone read these tales? The character was inspired by John the Balladeer, and I’m wondering how closely he captured that vibe. (Looking over his Wikipedia page, I’d forgotten how much fantasy David Drake has written.)

  2. Brad Bird: and who could forget Edna Mode’s Mantra of “No Capes!”
    BTW Edna bears more than a passing resemblence to Edith Head the great Hollywood Costume Designer, from the short stature, the bangs and the large glasses.

  3. 12) My hometown newspaper (which I’d had an online subscription to until earlier today*), is not going to run any of the comics strips in groups 5 or 6, just the first four groups.

    (* The announcement today reminded me that I’d been meaning to cancel my subscription, which I’ve done now. The paper has been abysmal since Gannett took them over.)

  4. (9) Commiserations to Cat Rambo.

    (12) My local papers (non-US) have done away with the comics page almost completely. The big city paper has recently dropped all its comics (the selection had been dwindling for years), and the local paper now has just one strip (down from six).

  5. 12) Comic strips vanished from German newspapers well before I was born.

    14) Interesting. Every V-2 I’ve ever seen on display – at the Peenemünde museum, the London science museum, in Huntsville, Alabama – has had the black and white pattern. Peenemünde’s V-1 missile and launch ramp are camouflage green, but I’ve never seen a V-2 in that colour scheme.

  6. The guy in my dream looked like John Mulaney — however, he wasn’t doing a Mulaney style of story.

  7. (10) Ian Stewart’s two genre novels (both written with biologist and Science of Discworld co-author Jack Cohen) are very good, especially Heaven, which features some really entertaining and original aliens! But both books are smart and witty, and it’s easy to see how both authors became part of Terry Pratchett’s circle.

    Stewart also did an annotated version of the 19th c. mathematical fantasy Flatland by Edwin Abbott, as well as a sequel of sorts called Flatterland, but I haven’t read either one. (That is, I’ve read Flatland, but not the annotated version.)

    I have read his non-fictional Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities, which was quite entertaining if you like mathematical curiosities.

  8. @Anne Marble

    I enjoyed the Old Nathan stories a lot but I wouldn’t say they have the same feel as John the Balladeer exactly. They’re tooted in folklore but Drake’s eye for detail and cynicism about human nature come through as strongly as you’d expect.

    In any case, I think they were in the Baen Free Library when that was a thing, so it should be possible to find free e-copies online if you want to give them a try. I do recommend them

  9. @Cora — when were you in Huntsville?

    I’ve seen the V-2s in Dayton, Washington DC, White Sands, El Paso, and the two here in Huntsville.

    Given that the importance today of the V-2 is its role in the development of liquid-fueled rockets for space craft, and not its importance as a ballistic missile (it was, relative to its costs and what the money could have otherwise been spent on, ineffective), it is strange that Neufeld chose to restore it to its appearance as a weapon and not a test vehicle (as Durant had originally chosen).

  10. (10) I also remember Jack Gaughn for the many illustrations he provided to fanzines. His professional and fanzine art is included extensively in Outermost: The Art + Life of Jack Gaughn by Luis Ortiz, 176 pages, nonstop-press, 2010.

  11. 1) Next year again, where I will be an attending member.
    12) @Cora: A local newspaper has a comicstrip again, Calvin and Hobbes on the kidspage.

  12. @ Bill – let’s also not forget its importance as a precursor to the nuclear ICBMs which still threaten mass destruction.

  13. 12
    That’s a shame. I always thought the funny pages were a draw for newspapers. They’re the best wrapper for the newsstand.

    I have read many Ian Stewart books. My favorite is probably Figments of Reality, with Jack Cohen. It’s about snooker as it relates to ontology.

  14. (10) I read Flatterland and The Collapse of Chaos (with Jack Cohen). I’ve also read Stewart’s “Displaced Person” and “Captives of the Slavestone” which take place on the same very strange planet.

    I didn’t get a notification. Was that just me?

  15. Condolences on the loss of Taco. My last cat, a lynx point Siamese, died at the age of 26. One never forgets a cat!

    Jim Henson was a genius. He had both a high IQ and and a high CQ (Creativity Quotient, and yes, there is such a thing).

    It took all five of his kids to do the work he did. The Disney Corp has not done justice to the Muppets.

    My small homage to his genius and to the amazing work on “The Dark Crystal” can be found at

  16. Yesterday astronaut Eileen Collins did a book signing here in Huntsville, at the US Space and Rocket Center. During a Q&A, a young girl asked what to do to prepare herself to become an astronaut. Amongst other things, Collins said “read a lot.” She mentioned that when she was a teenager, she read tons of science fiction and specifically called out Clarke and Asimov as favorite writers.

  17. Ian Stewart. I remember his syntei stories, later fixed up into The Living Labyrinth and Rockstar. I enjoyed them both, mainly for his playing with wormholes.
    His Jack of All Trades fix up was another I remember. I’m afraid the nostalgia goggles didn’t work so well with it.

  18. @ Brown Robin “They’re the best wrapper for the newsstand”

    I don’t see a lot of newsstands around these days.

    (4) “I’m sure none of that is an attempt to influence Hugo voters….”

    This, but unironically. (I’m sure it’s an attempt to sell more magazines)

  19. The first five books of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy series are excellent. Great characters. The plots are based on classical Greek and Roman history, not the Napoleonic War, and the politics are complex and tense. The pace never lags. It is a tremendously fun series. Book five was, unexpectedly, a comedy of manners, deeply ironic, perfectly executed. After that, the series went on, but I felt that it became repetitive. Not bad, and worth reading if you like the characters. The first five books, though, are second to none.

    David Drake wrote some excellent non-fiction articles in the New York Review of Science Fiction. What makes his military SF so good is his deep knowledge of history, and his thoughtfulness and empathy. Those qualities make his non-fiction worth seeking out too.

  20. WRT #10 and Jim Henson.
    A Muppet Christmas Carol was excellent. We watch it every year. It’s got great songs and great lines.

    As for #12? I can’t say I’m surprised by Gannett’s decision. The people who understood how to run a newspaper (local! local! local!) disappeared long ago. Closing copy desks so all the copy editors for fifteen papers operate out of a single location?
    Printing only three days a week?
    Getting rid of local, old-time reporters who knew the local movers and shakers?
    Paying attention to LOCAL news?
    Quitting your Saturday edition and expecting your elderly audience to follow you online?

    Why, you’d think they want their industry to fail!

    Our LOCAL newspaper, a weekly called The Sun, is actually growing its subscription base (you can buy a mail subscription). They do it by reporting LOCAL news which you can’t get anywhere else.

  21. When it comes to the rest of David Drake’s oeuvre I think I like Voyage best, and perhaps the early Hammer’s Slammers stories. There’s an intensity to them that comes from a need to communicate what he experienced in Vietnam and it’s refreshing to find anyone who understands war stories are necessarily horror stories.

    I have a soft spot for Skyripper too. Some of the same intensity, plus it’s interesting to see his outlook on life applied to a technothriller

  22. Another fantasy series by David Drake I recommend is The Elements, set in a slightly modified version of the Roman Empire and (of course) rich in authentic detail. For the record, I’m very fond of the Old Nathan stories. But the book I wish he’d turned into a series is his charming YA fantasy THE SEA HAG.

  23. Belated thanks to Mike for picking my suggestion for a pixel scroll title at the end of July. I was chuffed, let me tell you!

  24. 10) I prefer David Drake’s short stories over his novels. They have a stronger intensity and force to them. Wish he’d write more at that length, but when novels pay the bills, you’re primarily a novelist.

    Sophie Jane wrote: “war stories are necessarily horror stories.” My favorite David Drake short story is “Something Had To Be Done”, which is one of those slow-build horror stories that ends with a realization of what’s actually been happening until now. It’s another of Drake’s “Vietnam” stories, although not itself set in Vietnam.

    12) Ugh. The local alternative, Phoenix New Times, was something I used to pick up religiously every week because their comics page had strips regular newspapers didn’t or wouldn’t carry. (Matt Groening’s Life In Hell, for one.) When they started dropping strips (and eventually eliminating them altogether), well, picking up a New Times wasn’t as essential anymore. (Other positive aspects of PNT were also diminished over the decades; I think it’s been several years since I bothered to pick up a new issue.) (And also haven’t subscribed to the regular newspaper, the Arizona Republic, for many years.)

  25. @P J Evans: That’s a shame – until the recent discussion of his career, I had forgotten he was in “Invisible Man” back in the day

  26. @bill
    I visited Huntsville a long time ago at the age of five. My Dad was very interested in the V-2, since he was a kid during WWII. Personally, I found the bigger rockets and the Apollo capsule, the moon rocks and a space shuttle (I think it was the Enterprise going by the timeline) a lot more exciting.

    The V-2 I saw most recently was the one in Peenemünde, when I was at a conference at the nearby university of Greifswald a few years ago. I think it’s a replica, especially since it’s outdoors. The Peenemünde museum is well worth a visit, especially since it has to walk the tightrope between museum of technology and rocketry and concentration camp memorial, I think the museum manages the challenge well, but there is constant criticism with some people wanting more rockets and others wanting more concentration camp memorial.

    And if you ever find yourself in Peenemünde, hope over to the other side of the bay to Prora on Rügen, which is home to a never finished Nazi monster holiday resort, which is fascinating. Don’t bother with the chalk cliffs, they are nigh inaccessible. In fact, I consider the chalk cliffs false advertising.

    There are a few more V-2s on display in Germany. The Deutsches Museum in Munich has at least one, but I’ve never been. The German Historical Museum in Berlin also has one, but it was sadly closed the last time I was in Berlin.

  27. Currently reading Willis’ The Road to Roswell and panicking about the impending Hugo deadline…

  28. Andrew (not Werdna): I’ve been reading Nona the Ninth which starts very, very slowly. Felt like I’d been at it so long I must be getting near the end. Instead my Kindle says I’ve only read 18% of the book.

  29. Regarding David Drake … I would recommend the three book collection of Mark Geston that he put together for Baen titled “The Books of the Wars”. The first book – “Lords of the Starship” was published when Geston was 21 or so.

    John Clute writes of that first novel that it “describes a depressive centuries-long attempt to construct an enormous Spaceship, whose completion would transform the fortunes of everyone involved and mark a phase of rebirth. The project is, however, a shambles and a sham,…”

    Anyway, it’s a remarkable set of books.

  30. @OGH: I’m going to reread “Harrow” before I get to “Nona,” just to refresh my memory.

  31. @bill It’s possible. I was a young kid and I remember seeing the shuttle through a large window in some kind of hangar facility. I think people were working on it at the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.