Pixel Scroll 9/11/16 Infinite Pixels in Infinite Scrolls

(1) THAT FONT. The following video about comics lettering is via Mark Evanier’s News From ME, who recommended it while also offering one correction:

The gent who did it knows a lot about his subject but no one seems to have told him that nobody in the business ever refers to the shape around the words as a “bubble.” It’s a “balloon.” The word “bubble” refers to the bubble shapes that serve as a pointer on a scalloped-edge thought balloon (one that tells us what someone is thinking rather than what they say).


(2) 9-11 THEME. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler (Gideon Marcus) has just seen a new 1961 sf movie — [September 11, 1961] Newest Child of The Bomb (The Flight that Disappeared).

The Bomb.  Since its creation and use in 1945, it has overshadowed our world.  For the first time since we descended from the trees a million years ago, humanity had the means to destroy itself in one blow.  It can’t help but influence our culture, our politics, our nightmares.  It is no surprise that atomic holocaust has figured prominently in our visual and printed media.

Last weekend, at a pre-premiere in Los Angeles, my daughter and I watched The Flight that Disappeared, the latest film to draw inspiration from the universal fear that is nuclear annihilation.

(3) COMMUNITY STANDARDS. I learned from Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s reaction comment that a Jim Wright post had been taken down.

What the fuck, Facebook, deleting Jim “Stonekettle” Wright’s eloquent post against the death cult of compulsory 9/11 “patriotic” observance for “not meeting community standards.”

I was here in NYC when the towers came down. Their ashes fell on my neighborhood. Facebook can kiss my New York ass.

(4) FACEBOOK UNDERWHELMS. Jim Wright himself commented about Facebook’s action in “Renegade 911” at Stonekettle Station.

I made a Facebook post about 9-11.

It went viral.

It wasn’t even the first viral post I wrote this week, or the first to offend a certain segment of America.

And many people were offended.

Oh, yes, they were offended.

Those who beat their fleshy chests and wave the flag in righteous unending fury and bleat most bitterly about “Freedom” and “Liberty” and “Patriotism” were the most offended.

Because aren’t they always?

Aren’t they?

They attempted to hack my Facebook account.

When that didn’t work, they complained to Facebook in righteous anger, furiously waving their little flags.

Because that’s what you do when you love “Freedom” and “Liberty” and “Patriotism” — not the real freedom and liberty and patriotism but the jack-booted goose-stepping version where everybody is lined up and made to salute the flag with a gun to the back of their necks.  The kind of “Freedom” that’s administered by serious men of pure Aryan descent with death’s heads and lightning bolts on their collars.

Eventually these patriots  succeeded in convincing Facebook’s idiot mechanical brain to remove my post for “violation of community standards,” even though nothing I wrote violates Facebook’s community standards in any way

Wright’s new post quotes the text that was taken down, which reads in part:

They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.

8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.

We’re still here. They aren’t.

We win. USA! USA! USA!


You goddamned right. We. Win.


Every year on this day we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.

It’s funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.

(5) GOOD TASTE IN PODCASTS. Scott Edelman posted three more episodes of Eating the Fantastic while the Scroll was on its medical hiatus.

Episode 15: Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan

Cecilia and I discussed how her self-published Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords gave birth to the Circlet Press empire, the advice she received from Tor publisher Tom Doherty, her love for the Legion of Super-Heroes, the lesson you should learn from the fact mass market publishing finally caught up with what she’d been doing all along, and much more. Plus a few things you might not know about her, such as her teen presidency of the largest Menudo fan club in the English-speaking world!

Episode 16: Resa Nelson

Resa Nelson

Resa Nelson

Joining me was Resa Nelson, whose story “The Dragonslayer’s Sword” I published in the first issue of Science Fiction Age. My decision to purchase the story was validated when at the end of our first year, I tabulated thousands of subscriber surveys and discovered readers had voted that tale their second-favorite story—and their #1 fantasy.

We discussed how the short story of hers I’d published in Science Fiction Age grew into not just a single novel, but a series of novels, why she watches the Japanese movie The Mystery of Rampo before beginning any new writing project, what she learned from the hundreds of film interviews she did for Realms of Fantasy magazine, and more.

Episode 17: Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford

So when it came time to seek out a good setting in Quincy, Massachusetts to chat during Readercon with six-time World Fantasy Award-winning and three-time Shirley Jackson Award-winning writer Jeffrey Ford, whose new short story collection A Natural History of Hell was recently published by Small Beer Press, I looked for something off-site and more authentic.

And found it in McKay’s Breakfast and Lunch. When I read a review about “a popular townie joint” that served food which was “simple and straightforward (no creme brulee French toast or maple ganache cinnamon bread here),” I knew I’d discovered a spot with some character. So that’s where I took Jeff.

We talked about how being edited by Jennifer Brehl made him a better writer, what it was like to be taught by the legendary John Gardner, why he admitted “I don’t really know dick about science fiction or fantasy,” and much more.

Edelman says upcoming episodes already recorded include F. Brett Cox, David D. Levine, Adam-Try Castro, Alyssa Wong, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Robert Reed.

(6) LOOKING SHARP. Just spotted Heather Rose Jones’ tweet for the first time – it made me think there’d been an MGM musical version of the Hugo acceptance speeches.

(7) EGOSCANNING. Hey, I also got a call-out from John Z. Upjohn!

(8) EISNER SELECTION. All this discussion of Dragon Con’s new Dragon Awards led me to remind myself how San Diego Comic-Con’s Eisner Awards are picked. The nominees are juried.

Who votes for the Eisner wards, and how are vote cast?

Once the nominees have been chosen, voting will open on the online ballot site, www.eisnervote.com. This usually occurs in mid-April, with a voting deadline in early June. Voting is open to comic book/graphic novel/webcomic creators (writers, artists, cartoonists, pencillers, inkers, letterers, colorists); all nominees in any category; comic book/graphic novel publishers and editors; comics historians and educators; graphic novel librarians; owners and managers of comic book specialty retail stores.

(9) RAISING AWARENESS. On Facebook, Gail Martin has set up a group and enlisted a large number of authors to support an initiative:

What happens when more than 75 sci-fi and fantasy authors start a nd conversation about mental wellness, mental illness, depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD treatment and related issues?

We don’t know, but we’re going to find out.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Among the authors participating so far are: Robin Hobb Jody Lynn Nye Cat Rambo Seanan McGuire Laura Anne Gilman Chuck Gannon Kameron Hurley Catherine Asaro Gaie Sebold Karen Miller Rowena Cory Daniels David B. Coe Marc Tassin Marc Jonathan Oliver Jeanne Adams Nancy Northcott Aaron Rosenberg Jennifer St. Giles Mark L. Van Name Juliet E McKenna Jennifer Brozek Darynda Jones Christopher Golden Clay Griffith Susan Griffith Alyssa Day Gregory Wilson Josh Vogt Darin Kennedy Jon Sprunk James Maxey Karen Gallagher-Taylor Justin Gustainis Misty Massey John Hartness Gail Z. Martin Jean Marie Ward Jaym Gates Laura Taylor Weston Ochse Ronald Garner Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons, Mari Mancusi Leanna Renee Hieber Davey Beauchamp Author C.L. Wilson/Cheryl Wilson Rod Belcher Travis Heermann Author Cara Santa Maria Michael J. Allen Joshua B. Palmatier Mud Mymudes Tera Fulbright, Nicole Kurtz, Emily Leverett, Tamsin Silver Stuart Jaffe Danielle Ackley McPhail, Eric Asher, Rick Gualtieri, Chris Kennedy, Ken Schrader, Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Valerie Wllis, Alexandra Christian, Jake Bible, Matthew Saunders, Jay Requard Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon, Jeremy F. Lewis, Sascha Illyvich, Kelly Swails, Bishop O’Connell, Sherwood Smith, Peter Prellwitz, Tracy Chowdhury, Trish Wooldridge and more….

[Thanks to Scott Edelman, Tak Hallus and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cally.]

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131 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/11/16 Infinite Pixels in Infinite Scrolls

  1. Naming the not-Hugo YA award. Thought I’d float the idea before submitting. I wanted to stay away from people’s names/books/series to avoid possible problems (estates, turns out *ist issues, etc.). Wanted a theme which would be both SF & F. Hopefully not controversial. Not tied to any culture.

    Dwarven Pluto Award – let’s you play with a planet and dwarves making a pun on little Pluto the planet that was + science and fantasy


  2. @Lis: you are most welcome. It’s a lesson it took me too long to learn and I want to help others save time.

    @JJ: I loved that review. More than I would have liked the book. That prose is beyond purple and into ultraviolet or possibly X-ray.

  3. ooo
    The review was enough for me.
    There may be a day I am powerful enough to cope with that prose, but that day is not today.
    You probably do need some comfort reading now.
    Do you have an old favorite that might do?
    Me, I’d be grabbing Book of Night with Moon, or some Diane Wynne Jones.
    But The Raven and the Reindeer might work well too.
    Definitely a pot of tea, and settling down in a different spot.

  4. lurkertype: I loved that review. More than I would have liked the book.

    Even had I wanted to (and I do not), I could never read that book now. Because I would spend the entire novel picturing the Heat Miser. *snicker*

  5. @rcade

    Since there’s a 9/11 topic in the scroll today, I thought I’d ask something that was on my mind yesterday: What are the post-2001 works of SF/F that were most influenced by the attacks and subsequent societal changes, either explicitly or implicitly?

    I’m surprised that nobody has brought up Matt Ruff’s The Mirage yet, which is very obviously 9/11 based alt-History. Not quite as good as this year’s Lovecraft Country, but still worth reading.

  6. @Mark: just applying NIven’s “Kzinti” solution (via Puppeteers) to humans.

    I think the point of brain maturity is that they are incapable of reliably making rational decisions. Though of course that applies to most everyone on the planet, so I concede your point.

    Sorry. Very, very down on “people” these days. I keep on getting reminded that the problem is not that a candidate like Trump is running a viable campaign, its that there are enough people out there buying into it, for whatever reason, that makes it a viable campaign….

    I’d seriously consider taking the “off world colonies” option, even if advertised as “where life is nasty, brutish and short”….if it were available

  7. I’m now reading The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal. Being set during WWII with no sffnal elements puts an outside limit on the scale of disaster possible, and she doesn’t do purple prose. 😉

  8. Regarding Howl’s Moving Castle: I actually see that it could be read either as children’s or as adult humorous fantasy; I have great difficulty seeing it as YA. It doesn’t seem to me to fit the typical YA approach at all. (Which isn’t to say teenagers shouldn’t read it, of course. Teenagers should read children’s books, and adult books.) Anyway, in the UK it, like most of DWJ’s books (that are still in print) is sold as children’s.

    Now, in trying to work out what class a book belongs to, I’m relying on the practice of UK bookshops, and a. This may not work internationally; while UK ‘9-12’ or ‘8-12’ or ‘older children’s’ clearly occupies the same sort of space as US ‘middle grade’, I’m not sure the limits are exactly the same, and b. For many people the practices of bookshops are no longer relevant, and while, when deciding what shelf to put a book on, you have to make dichotomous decisions, for online sales you don’t; you can tag a thing as children’s and YA and old adult if you want to. Both of which things mean that deciding which class a thing belongs to for award purposes is an impossible task.

  9. Both of which things mean that deciding which class a thing belongs to for award purposes is an impossible task.

    Which is why it’s a good thing that the YA/Youth Award is Not A Hugo, so that a strict definition of what constitutes YA isn’t needed. (the YA Award Committee pointed this out in their report)

  10. Not quite as good as this year’s Lovecraft Country, but still worth reading.

    I recently finished LOVECRAFT COUNTRY and thought it was a good book but disappointing in one major way: it wasn’t very Lovecrafty.

    The book overall was good, and the exploration of racism was well done, with interesting character and incident. But the Lovecraft bits were empty — no cosmic dread, no unsettling chaos beyond our comprehension, no sense of a hostile universe of vast and inimical powers.

    There were bits that were meant to be Lovecrafty, touchstones to the Mythos, but underneath, they felt like just ordinary magic. There were wizards, but they were squabbling men out for political gain, not people wielding forces that would corrupt their minds and souls. There was a weird Massachusetts village, but it felt more like the magically-protected village of British fantasy, not the eldritch menace of HPL. There was another planet, but it was…another planet. Not a terribly Lovecrafty experience.

    I get that part of it was that the racism of the villages surrounding the mystic village was meant to be creepier. But I don’t think the way to do that was emptying HPL of its menace, creating a world where lingering ghosts are just odd people you can get to know, or shapeshifting is more of a superpower than a threat to your sanity and soul.

    It’d have been great to read a book where the unsettling, corrupting Lovecraftian “other” was white people, but this didn’t get there. It was a good novel about racism in a setting involving magic. But it wasn’t Lovecraft country.

    Plus, having kids in the early 1950s head off to the local comic book store (with comics in the name, no less) is a jolting anachronism, at least for some of us. But that was a minor detail.

  11. @Kurt Busiek

    Lovecraft Country gave me a sense that the characters were living with the knowledge that more powerful beings could abuse or even kill them with very little thought and with no way to prevent it. That’s very Lovecraftian to me, it’s just that it wasn’t monsters they were afraid of.

    But I agree that the explicitly Mythos elements weren’t particularly played to be scary. It was Lovecraft as metaphor, not Lovecraft as horror.

  12. Mark —

    I can see that, but I think it was done in a flat way that required the reader to bring in an awareness of Lovecraft from other reading, rather than understanding the metaphor from the book itself. I think there are better ways to bring that through.

    I think THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor LaValle, while it had structure problems, managed to braid the nightmares of racism and Lovecraft well, though it didn’t try to move the “other” place over to whites.

    Plus, the fact that they kept outwitting or outmaneuvering the powerful figures undercut the metaphor for me. The dangerous white people were the sheriffs and such; the wizards were white, too, but they were a logic problem rather than an existential threat. They weren’t compelling enough as Lovecraftian or as entrenched white privelege.

    For a very different take on Lovecraft, Kij Johnson’s THE DREAM QUEST OF [NAME I CAN’T RECALL JUST NOW] was satisfying in a creepy fairy-tale way. Built on HPL’s sexism more than racism, it’s less a critique than a what-if, a repair that looks at things Lovecraft shied away from and adds them in rather than directly critiquing him.

    And there weren’t any comic book stores in it.

  13. @ Steve D: If this were NIven’s Known Space Universe, I’d be encouraging the US to engage in as many land wars as possible; this would accelerate the elimination of highly aggressive individuals (whose fear response causes them to get so unthinkingly patriotic that they’re willing to “travel to distant lands, meet interesting people, and kill them”), thus raising hope that fewer of the amygdala-challenged will be reproducing.

    I’ve sometimes wondered whether the progressive leap forward in the 60s and 70s might not be at least partly related to the number of American soldiers who died in WWII. The problem with your proposal, of course, is that it reduces everyone else in the world to the status of spear-carriers. But that would be why you presented it as an option for a fictional universe.

    @ Ken R: Nobody ever remembers the second half of that quote. It’s “My country, right or wrong — when right, to be kept right, and when wrong, to be SET right.” It’s a declaration of responsibility, not even remotely the carte blanche that the jingoists make it into.

    (Not specifically directed at you; this is one of my personal hobby-horses.)

    @ Seth: And here I was thinking about ABO fanfic. (A sub-genre in which humans are divided into 3 categories of sexuality, and I haven’t read enough of it to be able to go into any more detail than that.)

    @ JDN: There were a lot of people in the early 2000s drawing notice to the parallels between Heinlein’s description of the Crazy Years and what was happening in the world around us. And the only really significant difference I see between Scudder and Trump is that the latter is building his campaign around jingoism and bigotry rather than religion.

  14. @Kurt Busiek

    I think you are right about Lovecraft Country needing external knowledge. Obviously it worked for me, but it might lack a certain something for someone else.

    I’ve read Ballad of Black Tom and Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe – quite a Lovecraft theme this year, it seems. It seems to me there’s a joint theme of repurposing the elements of Lovecraft they don’t like while building on the parts they do.

  15. I read Vellitt Boe and enjoyed it highly. Johnson clearly “Gets” the Dreamlands.

  16. I’m going to read Vellit Boe soon, within a week.

    Call the Not A Hugo a “Youth Award” for a short title (till it gets a name, then it’s the X Award For Youth Fiction), and in the description say “children’s, middle grade, older children’s, YA”. Then the voters can put whatever they want in there, regardless of what publishers or bookstores have to say. Is it a book aimed at/suitable for/enjoyable by persons 0-18? Ta-da. Grownup appeal is a bonus.

    (I say age 0, because who knows, someone might come out with a mind-blowing board book on an SF or fantasy topic.)

  17. @Lee: That version of the quote is due to Carl Schurz, and was a response to Stephen Decatur’s original, half a century earlier. Decatur’s version, according to Wikipedia, was “Our country – In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, and always successful, right or wrong” – still somewhat nuanced, but much closer to jingoism.

  18. Kathryn Sullivan: Certainly once the ‘not a Hugo’ thing is established, we don’t need a strict definition; my worry is about whether we even have a vague definition clear enough to determine what ballpark we should be looking in. I think that what for some people are central cases of YA are for other people not YA at all.

    lurkertype: I agree. Indeed, that is what I have been saying all along. Now that there seem to be at least three of us who agree on this, should we start putting together a proposal for some future business meeting?

    Curiously, this is exactly what was proposed in 2013 (except that at that point it was meant to be a Hugo).

    And I realise my weird facts about the concept of YA are getting rather boring, but just in case anyone’s still interested, I have discovered an even weirder fact. According to the 2013 proposal the title of the award would be ‘Best Youth Book’, and the text of the proposed rule said ‘for young adults, middle readers or children’. But the title of the motion was ‘YA Hugo’. Which I think demonstrates than no one knows what YA means. (I don’t mean ‘everyone else has got it wrong’. I mean no one knows. Including me. The concept is a mystery.)

  19. Lurkertype, I like Youth Award. I’ve been suggesting the Worldcon YA Award as a title, but Youth Award works better. Or the Worldcon Award for Youth Fiction.

  20. jonesnori and lurkertype: My worry is that WSFS has already approved the regulation, and that says it’s for young adult fiction, so it would be problematic simply naming it the Youth Award. It wouldn’t be impossible, clearly – both the SFWA and the Dragons have awards where the title doesn’t fit the regulation – but it would add to the confusion in the world. If – as I think we are agreed – it would be better to have a youth award (recognised by all as such), I fear it would require another amendment to the constitution.

  21. Andrew M, the wording is “a book published for young adult readers in the field of science fiction or fantasy”, so you may have a point, although the Committee report and discussion were specific in not defining that further, with the intention of leaving it to the nominators and voters.

  22. I think the ‘not defining further’ thing was mainly meant to quell worries about the upper bound, the border with adult fiction, which is what people have in fact largely been worried about, since if this had been an actual Hugo it would have created a demarcation problem. I haven’t until now seen much discussion about the lower bound. Yet that seems to me to be much the bigger issue; it’s just the occasional book which is debatably YA or adult, but there are whole swathes of literature, including the most successful young people’s series of this century, which are debatably YA or children’s. There isn’t a demarcation problem there, but there is room for endless conflict about what the award is for, which could be avoided if it were just a youth book award.

  23. Andrew M, those are all good points. Is the committee taking input other than names?

  24. I don’t think it’s really possible now for them to consider anything other than names; the wording of the change to the constitution is fixed, except for the name which was purposely left blank.

  25. jonesnori/Lenore Jones: Andrew M, those are all good points. Is the committee taking input other than names?

    Andrew M: I don’t think it’s really possible now for them to consider anything other than names; the wording of the change to the constitution is fixed, except for the name which was purposely left blank.

    The committee has been taking input for at least a couple of years.

    Changes other than the name could, of course, be made; however, they would probably not be considered “lesser changes”, which means that the approval process would have to start over at Year 1.

    I don’t see why any boundaries are needed for this award. Hugo voters will make of it what they will, just as they have done with the Best Related Work category, just as they have done in deciding what qualifies as SFF for the fiction categories.

    It will take a few years to see how it shakes out. If Worldcon members end up unhappy about the books which the award ends up recognizing, they will either participate in greater numbers, make some changes to the award definition, or eliminate the award entirely.

  26. JJ: Why, there I am in Entertainment Weekly. Not that it’s on my bucket list, I just never conceived of doing anything they would cover.

  27. Mike Glyer: JJ: Why, there I am in Entertainment Weekly. Not that it’s on my bucket list, I just never conceived of doing anything they would cover.

    It would be interesting to know whether the EW article was the result of a Press Release by the Hugo Marketing Committee / MidAmeriCon II, and if not, what triggered it.

  28. Thanks for the shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight! We’re up to 100 authors, and I’ll also be posting updates with links to all the blog posts on MagicalWords.net and on DisquietingVisions.com.

  29. If it was in a press release, Entertainment Weekly should have done a cut-and-paste to avoid misspelling “Beijing”…. (I guess major Chinese cities don’t come up much in EW’s area of expertise.)

  30. JJ:

    I don’t see why any boundaries are needed for this award.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting we establish boundaries What some of us are suggesting is that it would work better with a label which made clearer its unbounded nature.

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