Pixel Scroll 9/17 Second pixel to the left and straight on till Worldcon

(1) Curbed LA is not alone in thinking “The New Look of the Petersen Automotive Museum is Really Really Bad”.

petersen automotive museum

Shawn Crosby hit the nail on the head – “It looks as if the Petersen had skinned Disney Concert Hall Buffalo Bill style and is wearing its bloody outsides like a dress.”

(2) A critical headline also provides the first clue that Io9’s Germain Lussier is down on another project — “The Latest Stephen King Book To Become a Fatally Disappointing TV Show Is…”

The Mist is about how a group of citizens react when—you guessed it—a mysterious mist takes over their town, filled with horrible monsters. Both the movie and novella mostly take place in a isolated supermarket but the TV show will only use that as inspiration, and will have a larger scope.

(3) Anne and Wil Wheaton are hosting “Fancy Dinner: Burgers, Beer, and a Book” on October 20 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Crossings restaurant in South Pasadena. Admission is $100 per person. Click on the link for menu and other details.

At the end of the evening, you will get your own, autographed, advance copy of our book “A Guide To Being A Dog by Seamus Wheaton.” Proceeds from this event will be donated by Crossings to the Pasadena Humane Society to support our participation in the Wiggle Waggle Walk.

(4) This is a good example of what people look to SFWA for — Jennifer Brozek discusses “How Do You Ask For A Blurb?” on the SFWA Blog.

How do you ask for these blurbs without making a nuisance of yourself? You do your research. Many professional authors have “blurb and review” policies in place on their websites, mostly out of self-defense. An author can read only so many books when they are not writing or doing their own story research. Some of these policies may be “No. I will not blurb your book.” Some of them may be “Talk to my agent.” Whatever the posted blurb policy is… follow it. That’s the polite and correct thing to do.

If you have an agent, you can talk to them about talking to the agent of the author you’d like a blurb from. Your agent should have a decent handle on who can be approached and who should be avoided. If you don’t have an agent, you need to do things the old fashioned way: ask.

(5) Steve Davidson harkens back to his Crotchety Old Fan days with “The Things Robert Heinlein Taught Me” at Amazing Stories

What this little episode did remind me of is the fact that, in many ways, Bob served as a surrogate grandfather for me.  Both of mine passed before I’d been on this planet five years, and as anyone who has read Time Enough For Love can tell you, a rascally, unrepentant and self-assured grandfather is a must have in the proper development of the creatures we euphemistically call little boys.

And of course it then occurred to me that there were quite a few humorous (and not so humorous) lessons to be had from all of Heinlein’s books and, lacking the kind of social restraint that would undoubtedly have been passed on to me by a real-life grandfather, I have decided to share some of them with you.

(6) “The Cold Publishing Equations: Books Sold + Marketability + Love” is Kameron Hurley’s latest autobiographical post based on her royalty statements.

Being above average is important, because being average sucks —

The average book sells 3000 copies in its lifetime (Publishers Weekly, 2006).

Yes. It’s not missing a zero.

Take a breath and read that again.

But wait, there’s more!

The average traditionally published book which sells  3,000 in its entire lifetime in print only sells about 250-300 copies its first year.

But I’m going indie! you say. My odds are better!

No, grasshopper. Your odds are worse.

(7) Wallpaper Direct has a fun infographic about Doctor Who villains through time.

The role of The Doctor has been assumed by 12 respected actors, each bringing their own quirks and characteristics to the programme. Along with his Mark I Type 40 TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), the time travelling rogue has blasted his way across space, but not without gaining some enemies in the process.

From the Daleks to the Cybermen, we take a look at the most notable enemies from the Dr. Who franchise.

And they’d be thrilled to see you some wall covering from their Dr. Who Wall Mural collection.


Officially licensed wallpaper murals based on the latest BBC series with Doctor Who starring Matt Smith as the Time Lord – from the company Black Dog Murals. The mural is easy to hang – paste the wall product and each is supplied in a box, with full hanging instructions. Please read the hanging instructions carefully. The mural is supplied in pre-cut lengths. The lengths are sometimes reverse rolled due to the manufacturing process. If you are in any doubt regarding direction of pattern please refer to website.

(8) Steve Davidson is back with another installment of what’s eligible for the Retro Hugos that will be voted on by next year’s Worldcon members – Part 4 – Media, specifically, the Long Form category.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, is well served in 1940.  Not necessarily because there were a lot of worthy films, but only in comparison to Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, which has to settle for serial episodes and cartoons.  Television shows were still almost a decade away.

However, when it comes to film there are a few interesting contenders, and, fortunately, the vast majority of eligible works are known and viewable, thanks largely to the Internet Archive, Youtube and copyright law.

I’m looking forward to short form, where there should be a trove of radio shows and phonograph records, too.

(9) Steven H Silver saw this today on Jeopardy!

Category:  “E” Readers

Daily Double Answer: This novel by Sinclair Lewis caused and uproar for its satiric indictment of fundamentalist religion

Question from returning champ: What is Ender’s Game?

Lost $2000.

(10) Francis Hamit’s new book Security Matters: Essays On Industrial Security is available in a Kindle edition from Amazon. Says Francis:

It’s hard reality actually from the security industry; the experiences that inform some of my fiction.  There are some dramatic moments and instances recounted and the writing is some of my best. If it were a poetry book you’d at least look at the sample.

The volume is edited by Leigh Strother-Vien and Gavin Claypool.

A collection of “Security Counterpoint” columns that originally appeared in Security Technology & Design Magazine between 1993 and 2001 about problems and concerns that are still relevant today. Francis Hamit spent 21 years in that industry in operational, sales and consulting positions.

(11) A tough day for the let’s-you-and-him-fight crowd – because John Scalzi begins “How Many Books You Should Write In a Year” with this preamble:

Folks have pointed me toward this Huffington Post piece, begging self-published authors not to write four books a year, because the author (Lorraine Devon Wilke) maintains that no mere human can write four books a year and have them be any good. This has apparently earned her the wrath of a number of people, including writer Larry Correia, who snarks apart the piece here and whose position is that a) the premise of the article is crap, and b) authors should get paid, and if four books a year gets you paid, then rock on with your bad self. I suspect people may be wanting to have me comment on the piece so I can take punches at either or both Wilke or Correia, and are waiting, popcorn at ready.

If so, you may be disappointed. With regard to Correia’s piece, Larry and I disagree on a number of issues unrelated to writing craft, but we align fairly well here, and to the extent that I’m accurately condensing his points here, we don’t really disagree.

(12) “Here’s how the first humans will live on Mars –and why traveling the 140 million miles to get there will be the easy part” – despite the headline, it’s not a story about The Martian. It’s a pointer to an eye-grabbing infographic based on TED speaker and technologist Stephen Petranek’s book on How We’ll Live on Mars.

[Thanks to Mark, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

177 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/17 Second pixel to the left and straight on till Worldcon

  1. @junego

    I’m not currently under a rheumatologist because when I moved away from London (which has hypermobility clinics) the local ones didn’t want to know. Their position on it was it wasn’t rheumatoid and they didn’t want to know. At least I already knew what was wrong by then and could work on managing and researching things myself, but it does worry me that people who live here might struggle to find out what’s wrong.

    It’s probably good I only had 1 child. Pregnancy seemed to start my back and digestive issues at 20. It just got slowly worse as I aged.

    Yes, pregnancy seems to be a big instigating factor for worsening/starting of symptoms of a lot of people. The hormones released during don’t help at all. On the plus side, labour is usually fast and easy, but that’s not much of a comfort if you never get back to normal.

    I want a Star Trek type medical couch with wand that tells exactly what’s wrong and can effing FIX IT!!

    I’d definitely contribute to that kickstarter…

    @Rev. Bob

    Anytime. 😉

    @Lori Coulson

    To be terribly unhelpful… It varies. Mine are a general slowness, acid reflux, constipation, feeling full very quickly, plus an interaction with the autonomic nervous system issue which means I often get very light-headed and need to lie down for awhile after eating. Mostly manageable by sticking to a healthy balanced diet and smallish meals most of the time.

    Plus I’ve been avoiding getting digestion things investigated/diagnosed because there’s a limit to how much of that I can take at any one time and there’s almost always been something more urgent – like getting achilles tendonitis+plantar fasciitis diagnosed. I’m going to get to it eventually… Probably next time there’s a flare-up of digestion-related symptoms, because it’s an absolute bugger trying to get anything diagnosed when stuff is working well-ish, which is a shame because when things aren’t my cope and spoons for dealing with medical professionals are very limited (or non-existent, which is why I still have no idea why I spent a month and a half with narcolepsy-esque symptoms earlier this year, or why they went away again, but being asleep except for meals was pretty boring and I hope it doesn’t come back).

    One of my sister’s has IBS, and I know diagnosed bendies who have that. I know bendy people who have Crohns, others who have partially paralysed stomachs and/or intestines (NSFW, but Mandy Morbid’s twitter feed is a good place to look to see how nasty that can be), others who have lots of food sensitivities and allergies, others who have things like hiatal hernias, others who have to eat a low-histamine diet to manage MAST issues. So… Whatever can go wrong, really. 🙂 There are studies into prevalence of hypermobile joints amongst gastro patients and the percentage is much higher than in healthy populations, even though not all of those hypermobile people have the joint pain.

    Fibromyalgia is a common comorbid AND a common misdiagnosis for Ehlers Danlos.

  2. I’d like to thank the native zebras for giving me an origin for a technology on which I intend to base a story. Imagine temporary mind-swapping as a medical diagnostic tool, to let a doctor spend some time in the patient’s body and check out the symptoms from within.

    I love this idea. I want to read the story. Please let us know when it’s published.

  3. @Tasha:

    Full disclosure: While that’s the tech’s origin, the story I have in mind is not a medical one. As I said:

    by the time the story rolls around, the tech will have moved beyond that into Uberish territory – recreational and for-profit swaps. Naturally, that’s when something will have to go wrong…

    The protagonist I have in mind is much closer to an Uber driver or Craigslist junkie. He’s someone who hires out to do things for people who aren’t motivated enough to do them for themselves. A prime example would be the personal trainer who, instead of wasting time motivating you with words, swaps into your body long enough to do the routine himself.

    The obvious complication is, what happens when the “return trip” doesn’t happen as scheduled?

  4. Rev. Bob, as in, the poor guy in rehab decides he wants to keep the personal trainer’s body? Or the poor guy in rehab has a heart attack in the personal trainer’s body, so the personal trainer has no body to go back to?

  5. @Cassy B.:

    I’ve been thinking more along the first line than the second. More inherent drama and plot potential, I think. Not that “marooned” is bad, but “stolen” opens up all kinds of questions of why and how that a simple accident lacks.

  6. Gosh, that would be tempting. I mean, I’m not an awful person, I wouldn’t steal someone’s body frivolously, but wow. New, healthy body? Picked from a pool? Damn. I can see the appeal.

  7. @Meredith:

    I’ve been thinking about safeguards, and it’s an odd kind of thing. On the one hand, my security side wants to design something bulletproof, and if this is a commonplace, mature technology, it ought to be. On the other hand, there has to be a flaw somewhere for the story to happen.

    For instance, consider the problem this creates for security… on both sides. The whole concept of biometric security is based on the idea that mind and body are one. Everything from surveillance videos and ID cards to fingerprints and retina scans has just gone out the window. There would need to be some obvious and unspoofable way to show that a body’s not under the control of its original owner, but the plot will demand a way to subvert it.

    Then there’s the idea of deliberate, consensual, permanent swaps. I could imagine a service specializing in treating dysmorphia by matching up candidates who would feel more like themselves in each other’s bodies. I mean, the response from the trans community alone…

    That, in turn, reminds me that this would tie into the kink scene in some truly intriguing ways. It adds a whole new dimension to everything from wife-swapping to cross-dressing, and that’s only the beginning.

    In sum, while this tech would get created as a medical tool, it would change the world when it went mainstream. I have to figure out how before I can reasonably consider the plot on any level more specific than “the return trip doesn’t happen, and the protag is either out to get their body back or faced with what to do when that proves impossible.” Then again, there’s the flip side: the return trip DOES happen, but the mindswap system insists it didn’t. Everybody’s where they should be, but the logs show an abort instead of a completed transfer. How do you prove that the system’s data is wrong and you’re not a bodyjacker?

  8. *shifty eyes* Despite comments above, Avatar pissed me right the fuck off, with its “oh noes disability ruined his life” and “magical goddamned disability fixes”. Which. Um. Are both controversial subjects in the disability community, to say the least. (Think Lock In, if you’ve read that, cure versus adapt.)

  9. Thanks… I’m on the IBS end of things, and let’s just say at its worst things transit VERY rapidly and with a great deal of discomfort. I’ve had most of the symptoms you’ve mentioned and lately there have been more bad days than good. (I should buy stock in Imodium.)

  10. Look, I didn’t say my feelings about my body and its limitations were logical and consistent! :p

    The trans stuff would be very interesting, though, especially with the people whose relationship to their bodies is complicated by how people view them rather than how their bodies actually are.

  11. @Meredith: (mindswaps, Avatar, trans issues, disabilities)

    Actually, I was thinking that I oughta watch Avatar as an example of a popular work featuring mental relocation tech, regardless of its other problem areas.

  12. @Rev. Bob

    Oh, sure, it’s worth watching for that. I wasn’t trying to discourage you. Just don’t expect to get anything deep out of it, because that film is as shallow as a paddling pool.

  13. As regards ED, I came across one description of a technique used for taking a blood sample from such a patient, which might help if you need to give blood.

    The doctor suggested the patient be lying down, using a light tourniquet and a 23G (blue) butterfly needle and inserting the needle from the proximal not distal direction. This ensured the suction served to open the valves of the vein and facilitate flow, so it didn’t need a tight tourniquet to create back pressure

  14. Rev Bob,

    I habe a half memory of a story where they used storage cubes for short term identity storage when transfering a identity between a one body and another(the second body may have been a robot). In the story the transfer was done so people could do things like go to Africa without having to do the dull(and energy inificent) stuff like transporting bodies around.

    In the story the protags body is lost and because cubes have short storage lives he is downloaded to the company’s main-frame while they look for it.

  15. @Meredith:

    Believe me, there are reasons I haven’t watched Space Pocahontas yet…


    I definitely want it to be an exchange, as opposed to piggybacking or anything that leaves one of the participants “on ice.”

    Basically, I’m looking at the dev path as doing a swap first. The next step would be refining it enough to allow a “rider” to watch/experience the body owner’s life – a better diagnostic tool, not to mention the possibilities involved with celebrity or “adult” participation. Combining those technologies would also allow the reverse, where the fitness trainer can swap into your body before you piggyback back in to get a feel for the routine without having the option to give up. Finally, you’d reach what I think of as the “Firestorm” level, with the rider and owner able to communicate.

    At story time, v1 has gone mainstream and v2 has just hit the market, but it’s only caught on in a few sectors. (If you think adult film stars and “cam girls” are popular now, wait’ll people can buy “ride-along” time while they shoot a scene!) Some fringers may have figured out the v3 possibilities, but v4’s still in its initial trials and has significant risks involved.

    I think Heinlein had the line about imagining not just the invention of the car, but the social impact of drive-in movies. That’s where I’m at now: trying to parse the ripple effects so the world feels authentic.

  16. @Tintinaus: “I habe a half memory of a story where they used storage cubes for short term identity storage when transfering a identity between a one body and another(the second body may have been a robot). In the story the transfer was done so people could do things like go to Africa without having to do the dull(and energy inificent) stuff like transporting bodies around.”

    By any chance, was that Zahn’s Soulminder? Open Road has it on sale for $2.99 today, and the “storage cube” treatment looks very similar. That’s a story about a grief-driven scientist, and it mentions mind-swaps, but the “resurrection machine” angle is one of the reasons I want to avoid any sort of storage medium.

    I have already thought of the CEO who attends meetings from halfway around the world by “Skyping into” a minion’s body, though. Sounds like just the sort of thing a 0.01-percenter would think of, write into his hiring contracts, and surprise a flunkie with.


    What, you’ve never heard the Avatar/Pocahontas comparison before?

  17. Tintinaus may be thinking of Varley’s Overdrawn at the Memory Bank ? Not sure (it’s been a while since I read it), but it involves body-swapping, and the protagonist’s mind getting stored in a mainframe thanks to some sort of glitch, so maybe it fits.

  18. Rev. Bob: What, you’ve never heard the Avatar/Pocahontas comparison before?

    Hadn’t. Can not now unhear it. 😉

  19. What, you’ve never heard the Avatar/Pocahontas comparison before?

    I’ve always heard the comparison as being Dances with Na’vi.

  20. Yep! Overdrawn at the Memory Bank it was.

    Even with the title I still wasn’t sure so hunted down a synopsis online to check.

    My first search pulled up the film which A: I didn’t know existed; B: sounds terrible; and C: got a Mystery Theatre 3000 treatment(the only way I would watch it even though it stars Raul Julia)

  21. I seem to recall Avatar being referred to as “Smurf Gully” (referencing FernGully and of course the blue skin; and of course it has been satirized by South Park as “Dances with Smurfs”).

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