Pixel Scroll 9/21 For the Scroll is Hollow and I have touched the Pixel

(1) Today’s birthday boys:

Born 1866: H.G. Wells

H. G. Wells in 1943.

H. G. Wells in 1943.

Born 1912: Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones

Born 1947: Stephen King

StephenKing_0 COMP

Born 1950: Bill Murray

Bill Murray

Bill Murray

And as a bonus, also on This Day in History:

1937: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit published

(2) Grotesque parody news story of the day: “Game of Thrones Cast Murdered Following Emmy Victory”.

FANS of popular HBO fantasy series Game Of Thrones were this morning trying to get over last night’s shocking post-Emmy massacre, where virtually the entire cast and creative team were brutally murdered in cold blood.

… “One minute Peter Dinklage was standing with his Emmy and a big smile on his face, the next minute his head went sailing through the air,” said one eyewitness to what is now being referred to as the ‘Red Emmys’.

“Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner were stabbed through the heart, and the big lad who plays Sam got it in the neck. Even by Game of Thrones standards, it was fairly over the top”.

With so many members of the cast and crew slaughtered, fans are now fearing that next year’s season will focus mainly on Bran Stark as there’s basically nobody left at this stage.

(3) Constructed languages are the topic of a forthcoming documentary, Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues .

Featuring an overview of the history of constructed languages up to and through the amazing creations and initiatives of those who actively invent new tongues today, this film tells the rich story that has expanded far beyond Tolkien’s “secret vice.” It’s being made by the people who know the craft intimately for language lovers and a general audience alike.

 

And All Things Linguistic has an interview with the creators of the documentary in the Conlangery #112 podcast.

(4) Add this to the list of “Han Solo in Carbonite” products — a huge vinyl sticker for your door.

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(5) This year Gen Con featured another official beer, Drink Up and Prosper, from Sun King Brewing. According to the Indianapolis Star, not only was the brew available at the con, but it was put in cans and sold in stores.

sunking-genconcan

This will be the fourth year the brewery has partnered with the world’s largest gaming convention, and the fourth beer brewed specifically for the event….

Previous beers included Froth of Khan (2014), Flagon Slayer (2013) and Ale of Destiny (2012).

(6) The Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team recently dressed up as superheroes “in the greatest baseball-themed comic book crossover of all-time.”

After the Pirates defeated the Dodgers, 4-3, the team dressed up as superheroes before boarding their flight to Colorado — like, for example, Superman with an expert hair curl hanging out with Bane that came complete with appropriate Zack Snyder lighting.

A squadron of Marvel’s cinematic heroes hung out with either a Na’vi or a really off-brand Nightcrawler: …

 

(7) The Tor boycott continues to fade to invisibility as a news story. Here’s what I found searching Twitter for “Tor boycott” today.

It was the hyphenated “Doc-Tor” that triggered the result.

(8) And by strange coincidence, Adam-Troy Castro has written some good advice in his new blog post, “Writers: The Long-Term Benefits of Not Being An Ass”.

For the vast majority of artists, being an asshole to the people who give you money is not a good career move. You are not indispensable unless you’re an eminence of such towering fame that they are willing to bend heaven and Earth to keep you. And sometimes not even then. Fame is fleeting.

So one guy I’m thinking of, who has come out and described himself as one of the greatest writers of his generation, who says that his work is reeking with literary virtues that any number of others would give their left tits to be even shelved next to, who has been abusing his publisher in public and attacking his editors as people and in general making himself a horse pill – I think he’s in for a surprise, sooner or later, probably sooner. Writers who can sell the number of copies he sells, or more, are not exactly thin on the ground, and the vast majority of them will not be rallying their readers to send hate mail.

But this is not about him. This is about you, the struggling artist. And to you I have some strong advice.

Be a sweetheart.

Be the kind of artist who, when dropping by the publishing house, brings cookies. Or if not cookies, then at least a warm smile and a gracious manner.

(9) The Clarion Foundation has received a $100,000 donation from a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous. Clarion will use the donation to launch an endowment fund in support of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, held annually at UC San Diego.

Karen Joy Fowler, president of the Clarion Foundation, expressed profound appreciation for this generous gift. “This is tremendously important to all of us who have worked with, for, and on behalf of Clarion over the years. For us, the workshop is a labor of love. Having these funds in hand allows us to plan for the future in a way we’ve never been able to before. This gift provides a solid foundation on which we can build.”

“Our global civilization is now embarked on an unconstrained experiment in long-term sustainability, which we have to get right for the sake of the generations to come,” says Clarion Foundation Vice President Kim Stanley Robinson. “Science fiction stories, ranging from utopian to dystopian, are what we do now to imagine outcomes that help us evaluate our present practices. The Clarion workshop nurtures and trains writers to change the ways we think about the future, and it helps to connect the sciences and the arts at UC San Diego and around the world. We’re thrilled with this gift, which enables us to continue that crucial work.”

The Clarion Foundation partners with UCSD in the delivery of the workshop, with the foundation managing faculty selection and the admissions process and UCSD managing the six-week summer workshop. The foundation has annually conducted fundraising campaigns that allow it to provide about $12,000 in scholarships each year and to cover expenses.

(10) Aaron French compares horror traditions in “Past and Future: Esoteric and Exoteric Philosophy in Weird Fiction” on Nameless Digest.

As with everything else, the philosophy behind dark, weird, and horrific fiction has evolved over time. This philosophical evolution of horror fiction arguably began in earnest with Edgar Allan Poe – though Poe also nurtured a sense of romantic love, which conquers, as well as defeats, his harshest poetry, e.g. “Alone.” Bleaker still, and more callous in disregard of the human race, is H. P. Lovecraft, grandfather of the grim, who described his philosophical position as the following: “…by nature a skeptic and analyst… [I] settled early into my present general attitude of cynical materialism.”

….But if we turn our attention to the postmodern, a new speciation occurs in the writings of Thomas Ligotti, representing a philosophy so hopeless, malicious, and unorthodox that it gives readers pause, unintentionally flipping mental levers and bringing about unwelcome psychological changes.

(11) Here’s somebody else who has definitely flipped his mental levers — “Man angers neighbors by shining ‘alien’ fighting spotlights”:

Neighbors in the Virginia Road area of Hermitage said Arthur Brown, 78, shines the spotlights outside his foil-wrapped house at all hours of the day and night because he is afraid of extra-terrestrial attacks.

(12) From June of 1992, a YouTube clip from Arsenio Hall with guests William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who are too funny. Shatner enters using a walker and a nurse pushes Nimoy in a wheelchair.

James H. Burns further comments:

Shatner and Nimoy even pitch their convention appearances at the Creation cons of my old pals, Gary Bermand and Adam Malin–

And most amazingly, Shatner talks about his hopes for Star Trek Seven, which he later helped turn into a pretty good Trek novel!

 

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rose Embolism.]

387 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/21 For the Scroll is Hollow and I have touched the Pixel

  1. I avoided reading the Vorkosigan books for a very long time because they were always recommended to me with a sort of wild-eyed religious fervor. And I’ve always been wary of anything that all my friends like. I’m funny that way. (As it turned out, I’d read Falling Free quite some time before that and not made the connection, but nether had I found it particularly compelling.) After giving the series a try finally, I came to a better understanding of where that wild-eyed religious fervor came from. But I also was very unsettled by the way the series could make me deeply identify with character that–in the cold light of day–I considered monstrous. I still have very mixed feelings about those books.

  2. @various: (Taming of the Shrew)

    Frankly, I think the best thing about that play was the episode of Moonlighting based on it…

  3. The last version of Taming of the Shrew I saw, (and the only one using Shakespeare’s dialogue, though cut down to 75 minutes*), Had Petruchio as a hired assassin who decides to play with his victim now he’s kidnapped her. Except that Kate’s “capitulation” speeches were ironic, as she turns the tables on her captor and murders him and escapes. I could barely get through it — and now don’t think I’d be able to watch it played straight.

    *I’ve seen “Kiss Me, Kate”, “10 Things I Hate About You”, and excerpts of the play performed as comedy, but never the whole start to finish.

  4. My take on Bujold is —

    I LOVE the Cordelia books and think they are amazing. I’m very much looking forward to the new one coming out.

    I enjoy the Miles books, and her other SF like Ethan of Athos and Falling Free, and I think they are great fun. And I do like books that are great fun, very much. But … I don’t think they’re the Best Things Ever. A Civil Campaign is a possible exception, though, I’d likely put that on the level of the Cordelia books.

    I liked the Chalion books OK, but am honestly a bit baffled by how beloved they seem to be. And Sharing Knife really did nothing for me.

    In all honesty, the 21st century fantasy bracket is probably the one where my tastes have diverged most from the general file770 opinion. I did think all eight of the ones remaining were very good books, it’s not like I hated them or anything. But there’s only three of the eight remaining that I would have put in a My 21st Century Fantasy Top 20 list. And I strongly suspect two of those will be gone before next round.

    Welp, such is taste.

  5. Heather Rose Jones: I also was very unsettled by the way the series could make me deeply identify with character that – in the cold light of day – I considered monstrous. I still have very mixed feelings about those books.

    May ask which character that is?

  6. Paladin of Souls was the first fantasy novel I can remember reading where it was a kind of coming-of-age story with a middle-aged woman as a protagonist. Usually when someone is discovering who they are and their place in the world, it’s a teenager, which makes sense (and usually a teenage boy), but making the protagonist a middle-aged woman who finally gets to do that? Priceless.
    And, of course, it’s extremely well-written.

  7. I finished City of Stairs and omg so good! Would recommend! A lot! *flail* Great world-building, and the characters feel like people (if often unusual people), and ruminations on what makes a monster, and I really, really liked it, yep.

    Although, Anna, when you said there was a dragon I assumed it would be on-screen and not just mentioned in roughly three sentences. /cheated out of dragon /sulk

  8. Re Bujold. Like many others, they didn’t really appear on my radar because of those awful covers. But then someone insisted I read Barrayar and gave me a free copy. That was enough for me to read the rest. I found the early Miles books to be merely good, not exceptional. Then I read Memory. I adore Memory. It hurts to re-read, but that and the ones following chronologically are the ones I re-read when I re-read them.

    I love Chalion for the way she built the plot, but prefer Paladin for Ista. The third book isn’t bad, but I never feel compelled to re-read it.

    As for Sharing Knife, I have them, I read them, I enjoyed them, I don’t re-read them very often.

  9. So … your favorite dragon? Fafnir, Smaug, Eustace Scrubb, Yevaud, Ruth, Katla, Jim Eckert, Gleep, Falkor, Shimmer, Heart’s Blood, Mayland Long, Errol, Maur, Morkeleb, Skysong, Norbert, Lorn, Tintaglia, Orma, Temeraire, one not listed?

  10. @ JJ

    I dropped an “s” from “characters” — pretty much the whole military-politico structure of Barrayar is monstrous, from my political point of view. It may be historically motivated. It may be pragmatically functional. It may be better than any other immediate option. But still, these central characters whose fates we’re supposed to care deeply about are monstrous because the system the work in and operate within requires them to be so.

  11. The Chalion books are among a fairly small number of fantasy novels that takes its world’s religion seriously, and doesn’t treat the religion as a fraud and the believers as dupes. Bonus extra, it’s not a cheap knockoff of Christianity or anything else, but something that makes real sense in the context of the world and the culture.

  12. Regarding the Vorkosigan books: I should note that I consider it a triumph of the writing craft that Bujold can, indeed, make me care deeply about the deeds and fates of monstrous human beings. But I find it deeply unsettling and am suspicious of my reactions.

  13. But the characters Bujold asks us to care about not only know the system is monstrous, but are working hard to change that, as fast as they can make the change happen without gratuitously killing people.

  14. Heather Rose Jones: these central characters whose fates we’re supposed to care deeply about are monstrous because the system the work in and operate within requires them to be so.

    Thanks for taking the time to elucidate. I haven’t done a full read of the series since Cryoburn came out in 2010, but I’m going to do a full re-read over Christmas since the latest entry in the series, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, will be coming out in February. I will read with an eye to what you’ve said — though, from what I recall, it’s as Lis Carey says: the characters Bujold asks us to care about not only know the system is monstrous, but are working hard to change that.

  15. @ULTRAGOTHA
    RedWombat – Wait, isn’t Bob the sourdough?

    No, Bob’s your uncle.

    @Microtherion
    Now I have this mental image of Johnny Cash singing:

    I Hoyt myself today
    To see if I still feel…

    It’s all about Hoyt Feelings.

    I’d say What’s-‘is-Name’s odd characterization of 1984 is driven by his belief that great SF must by definition celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, ergo, ipso facto, et cetera.

  16. @Cassy B: I pointed this out to a Shakespeare professor. She was Not Happy with me. (She considered the play romantic, of all things…)

    ICK!

    I have had a fair number of students claim WUTHERING HEIGHTS is the most romantic novel ever and want to write on it…..ditto TWILIGHT.

    ICK in both cases!

  17. @Richard Brandt:

    I can say with certainty that I am nobody’s uncle, not even ULTRAGOTHA’s. 🙂

  18. Kyra on September 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm said:
    So … your favorite dragon? Fafnir, Smaug, Eustace Scrubb, Yevaud, Ruth, Katla, Jim Eckert, Gleep, Falkor, Shimmer, Heart’s Blood, Mayland Long, Errol, Maur, Morkeleb, Skysong, Norbert, Lorn, Tintaglia, Orma, Temeraire, one not listed?

    I sense another bracket incoming!

  19. Once again a tough round where every single work got double-digit votes (and one for Bold As Love.) Still, there was …

    1. EIGHT MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY
    WINNER (seeded): Night Watch, Terry Pratchett – 34 votes
    Perdido Street Station, China Mieville – 16 votes
    … a clear victory for Night Watch …

    2. THE SWORDSWOMAN AND THE PALADIN
    WINNER: Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold – 30 votes
    The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner – 13 votes
    … a clear victory for Paladin of Souls …

    3. MOVING HOUSE
    WINNER (seeded): The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison – 45 votes
    Coraline, Neil Gaiman – 12 votes
    … a clear victory for The Goblin Emperor, and …

    4. STORIES OF HISTORICAL FACT
    WINNER (tie): Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton – 25 votes
    WINNER (tie): Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke – 25 votes
    … the big surprise here is the tie in matchup four! In the great showdown between Dragons and Napoleonic Alt-History, the winner turned out to be both.

  20. Kyra: In the great showdown between Dragons and Napoleonic Alt-History, the winner turned out to be both.

    Well, that will make Meredith happy. 😉

  21. Other dragons for your consideration:

    Ancalagon the Black
    Dagurashibanipal
    Drogon
    Errol
    Faranth
    Rhaegol
    Viserion
    Haku
    Mushu
    Tiamat
    Bahamut
    Aliera e’Kieron (metaphorically?)
    Anomander Rake (is a dragon at least part of the time, right?)

    My vote, unless it gets disqualified as not dragony enough, is Loiosh from the Vlad Taltos books.

  22. Re: favourite dragons.

    Mine would be a toss-up between Errol & Glaurung for different reasons: the former as the little dragon that could & the latter as a truly intelligent but malignant dragon.

  23. Will R,

    I had read the appendix to 1984 and Brian Z is still wrong.

    All the appendix says is that the regime didn’t last. Well just in case Brian is unaware of the fact, the Roman Empire didn’t last either. No regime lasts. It is one of the benefits of an electoral system that regimes can fail on a regilar basis without anarchy.

    There is no hope offered by the story of Winston. He is a Christian sentenced to death who walks into the arena praising the Emporer even as the lions are eyeing him uo for lunch.

  24. @tintinauson On the post, Hoyt agrees with a commenter who says “On the Beach” is a ” is a good example of “what to avoid'” because, the commenter says, “the message was if you survive the Atomic War, kill yourself because otherwise you’ll have a more painful death.”

    It’s hard for me to see 1984 as qualitatively different, even with the appendix.

  25. Favourite dragon: R. Dragon from Rosemary Manning’s Green Smoke(1957). I read Green Smoke when I was 10 and still wanted to go to places and do things I had read from the book when I went to the UK when I was 39.

  26. Kyra on September 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm said:

    So … your favorite dragon?

    There can be only one: THE SOUP DRAGON!
    In this video we learn about the reproductive cycle of the soup dragon.

  27. Will R.: On the post, Hoyt agrees with a commenter who says “On the Beach” is a good example of “what to avoid’” because, the commenter says, “the message was if you survive the Atomic War, kill yourself because otherwise you’ll have a more painful death.”

    <facepalm>

    These people are like kindergartners, whose parents have to protect them from scary movies, because they’re not capable of handling adult themes and context.

  28. Rrede:

    I have had a fair number of students claim WUTHERING HEIGHTS is the most romantic novel ever and want to write on it

    Have you read the mandatory Wuthering Heights characters Anger Management workshop scene in one of the Thursday Next books? Reader, I LOLed.

    Kyra:

    In the great showdown between Dragons and Napoleonic Alt-History, the winner turned out to be both.

    That would be His Majesty’s Dragon, right?

  29. I agree with Heather, that the characters in trhe Vorkosigan saga are mainly people that if I were told their story flat, I would assume they were the villains of their story. I was about to say that my main exception is Ethan, as he seems to be a humane person in a world which has normalized from a monstrous beginning (and I have usually thought that was a major point of the story). But then I thought about what he’s about to do at the end, and the implicatiom of it for the human universe beyond them, and I thought maybe he’s a monster too.

    That soup dragon video is wonderful, thank you!

  30. I’m catching up after a few days away. Do people know that there’s a free audio production of Nahum Tate’s Lear? It’s on LibriVox; I’m in it, as Cornwall. Here’s a link.

  31. Am I the only one who thinks “Human Wave” is either

    A) that thing you do in the stadium during the dull parts of the football game
    OR
    B) reminds me of the Afterschool Special of my youth called “The Wave”

    Neither which inspire me literarily.

  32. So … your favorite dragon? Fafnir, Smaug, Eustace Scrubb, Yevaud, Ruth, Katla, Jim Eckert, Gleep, Falkor, Shimmer, Heart’s Blood, Mayland Long, Errol, Maur, Morkeleb, Skysong, Norbert, Lorn, Tintaglia, Orma, Temeraire, one not listed?

    Puff?
    Ollie?
    Savage?

  33. “So … your favorite dragon? Fafnir, Smaug, Eustace Scrubb, Yevaud, Ruth, Katla, Jim Eckert, Gleep, Falkor, Shimmer, Heart’s Blood, Mayland Long, Errol, Maur, Morkeleb, Skysong, Norbert, Lorn, Tintaglia, Orma, Temeraire, one not listed?”

    Horatio Dragon.

  34. @MDW: LOL, yes, a Dragon Bracket. I could actually vote in some of these, I’m pretty sure. Hmm, Eustace or Fafnir. . . . 😉

    Though really, you’re forgetting Ruth from Pern, sniff. And maybe Menolly’s Beauty, if we could count fire lizards. But yeah, Ruth. 🙂

    Or someone else. . . .

  35. @Brian Z. I’d agree that’s a reinforcing echo there, but it’s her he’s just “sold,” and the point is made by its being the “kissing” line he changes.

    For me, his tears are tears of failure; they don’t prove his ongoing humanity, but the fact that Big Brother has completely stolen his humanity from him. Winston regretted Rutherford but could do nothing to act better this time; in fact, he acts much worse. But we know Big Brother doesn’t mind people having regrets. Guilt is helpful. Big Brother doesn’t want robots: it wants crushed, powerless people. Which is what it gets.

    So I’m still not sold, though I concede Winston is probably better than the average person in his world.

  36. I love On the Beach. News flash: everyone we know is going to die someday, with or without a nuclear war. What interests me is what people do with that.

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