Pixel Scroll 9/29/16 “–We Also Stalk Gods”

(1) THERE’S A SKILL I’D LIKE TO HAVE. It sounds like something you’d see in a movie about dope dealers, says The Hollywood Reporter, but it’s behind the scenes at for-profit fan conventions — “Stars Getting Rich Off Fan Conventions: How to Take Home ‘Garbage Bags Full of $20s’”.

Fan conventions, where stars can take home hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a few hours of time, once were the domain of has-beens and sci-fi novelties. But the business has become so lucrative — think $500,000 for Captain America‘s Chris Evans or The Walking Dead favorite Norman Reedus to appear — that current TV and film stars are popping up at events like Salt Lake City Comic-Con and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. The demand has become so overwhelming that agencies including WME, CAA, UTA, ICM, APA, Paradigm and Gersh have in the past three years added “personal appearance” agents to sift through the hundreds of annual events, book talent and (of course) score their 10 percent commission….

Here’s how it works: Actors typically ask for a price guarantee — often paid up front — to show up, sign autographs, pose for photos and sometimes take part in a panel discussion or two. Most conventions charge an entry fee, collect $5 for every autograph and $10 per photo (with a photographer taking another $10). The stars — who receive luxury travel and accommodations — pocket the rest. Anything over the guarantee is icing on the cake….

According to multiple sources familiar with convention deals, the basic guarantee rate for genre stars is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range per appearance — with leads on such current TV series as The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Netflix’s Marvel shows and The CW’s DC Comics fare commanding anywhere from $35,000 to $250,000 and up, depending on their popularity and the frequency with which they appear. At top conventions, it’s not uncommon for a star to earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 on top of their guarantee (more if they spend extra time signing)…..

As if the conventions weren’t already lucrative enough, many stars also are contacted independently by autograph dealers looking to arrange meet-ups outside of events and can score anywhere from $6,000 to $250,000 to sign a few hundred items that will wind up on eBay. That’s one reason why Hamill and other stars are especially sensitive about fakes and are backing a new California bill that would require autographed collectibles sold in the state to come with a certificate of authenticity (yet another extra charge at conventions)….

Three big companies dominate the paid-convention space: Wizard World, Informa and ReedPop (each with about 20-plus events set for 2017), all of which are publicly traded. But while conventions are rewarding for attendees and talent, the financial picture for those running them often is less rosy.

(2) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. From A.V. Club we learn that Timeless creators are being sued for allegedly stealing premise for their show”.

Now it’s NBC’s turn to deal with the litigious, as Deadline reports that the creators of Timeless are being sued for allegedly absconding with the idea for their show, not unlike how Goran Visnjic does with a time machine in said show. NBCUniversal and Sony have also been named as defendants.

The suit was filed by Onza Entertainment for breach of contract and copyright infringement. The Spanish company that claims its idea for a government-backed team of time-machine-thief hunters was pinched, if you will, by Timeless creators Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural and Revolution). The suit lays out Onza’s premise for the show, and how it “relates to the adventures of a three-person government team (consisting of one woman and two men) traveling through time to thwart undesired changes to past events.” Timeless does feature its own group of timeline monitors, similarly comprising one woman and two men, though they have more academic backgrounds. Abigail Spencer plays a history professor, Matt Lanter her muscle, with Malcolm Barrett rounding out the ensemble as an engineer.

(3) THE PRICE FOR MARS. In “Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance – or maybe all three” on Ars Technica, Eric Berger says that Elon Musk’s plan to put a million people on Mars is actually technically plausible provided Musk raises $30 billion, which he isn’t going to be able to do without substantial government help.

Elon Musk finally did it. Fourteen years after founding SpaceX, and nine months after promising to reveal details about his plans to colonize Mars, the tech mogul made good on that promise Tuesday afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over the course of a 90-minute speech Musk, always a dreamer, shared his biggest and most ambitious dream with the world—how to colonize Mars and make humanity a multiplanetary species.

And what mighty ambitions they are. The Interplanetary Transport System he unveiled could carry 100 people at a time to Mars. Contrast that to the Apollo program, which carried just two astronauts at a time to the surface of the nearby Moon, and only for brief sojourns. Moreover, Musk’s rocket that would lift all of those people and propellant into orbit would be nearly four times as powerful as the mighty Saturn V booster. Musk envisions a self-sustaining Mars colony with at least a million residents by the end of the century.

Beyond this, what really stood out about Musk’s speech on Tuesday was the naked baring of his soul. Considering his mannerisms, passion, and the utter seriousness of his convictions, it felt at times like the man’s entire life had led him to that particular stage. It took courage to make the speech, to propose the greatest space adventure of all time. His ideas, his architecture for getting it done—they’re all out there now for anyone to criticize, second guess, and doubt.

It is not everyday that one of the world’s notables, a true difference-maker, so completely eschews caution and reveals his deepest ambitions like Musk did with the Interplanetary Transport System. So let us look at those ambitions—the man laid bare, the space hardware he dreams of building—and then consider the feasibility of all this. Because what really matters is whether any of this fantastical stuff can actually happen.


(4) FREE EVERYTHING. In an article at Democracy, a liberal public policy journal, Joshua Holland reviews Manu Saadia’s Trekonomics, which explains what Star Trek has to say about economic principles, particularly automation and the idea that while we won’t have replicators we may be at an era where a lot of goods are costless — “Can We Live Long and Prosper?”

Saadia doesn’t believe we’re likely to achieve a future that looks like Star Trek. For one thing, hyperspace travel, he says, is incredibly costly, and will offer humanity little reward for the effort. So he doesn’t see us exploring strange new worlds, or seeking out new life and new civilizations in the next few hundred years.

Thus tethered to Earth, Trekonomics is ultimately an argument that economic growth and good governance can lead us to enjoy a standard of living that’s almost unimaginable today. At its heart is the concept of “post-scarcity economics”—a world where technology is an unalloyed good that meets all of our material needs. Competition for finite resources has been a constant since early humans started scratching out a living. It’s shaped not only our economic systems, but our cultures and societies in really fundamental ways. The core argument of Trekonomics is that technology will eventually allow us to produce goods and services in excess of what we need, and that freedom from want will, in turn, lead to a radically different social contract—and new norms of governance—that are difficult to imagine today. In a Trekonomics economy, those at the top would have no incentive to grab an ever-larger slice of the pie because the pie would be infinitely large.

(5) SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO PROTECT COPYRIGHT. Francis Hamit has made a video to generate support for proposed legislation to create a copyright small claims court, HR 5757 or The CASE Act of 2016.  He adds, “There are many ways to support passage of this important legislation.  One way is to buy and wear this t-shirt that you can get from Tfund by following this link.” — http://www.tfund.com/CASEAct

As Hamit explained in a post here:

Now a bill is before the House called the CASE Act (or Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act of 2016.)

It is not law yet, and it needs your support. Write and/or call your Congressional Representative and urge a favorable vote. It is not a perfect solution to the problem, but it’s pretty good.

The CASE Act establishes a Copyright Claims Board with three claims officers and a minimum of two full-time attorneys to examine small cases. Cases must be brought within three years of the infringement, and the plaintiff(s) must have a copyright registration certificate in hand. If the registration was within or before 90 days of publication, the maximum damages are $15,000. If not, then $7,500. No single case will generate statutory damages of more than $30,000. Or, you can roll the dice and go for the actual damages, which may be very hard to prove. You pay your own attorney’s fees. Hardly a bonanza in other words. You can still move the case to a Federal District Court, but my own experience tells me that copyright cases are considered a complicated horror show there.

This court will be centralized as an office at the Library of Congress. While you might make a personal appearance, the emphasis is in resolving claims by mail and/or telephone. You may be able to do this without an attorney, or certified law student, but it’s probably not a good idea.


(6) TWILIGHT ZONE TRIVIA. I learned all kinds of new things while reading “11 Timeless Facts About The Twilight Zone . The first is funny —

There were almost six dimensions.

While recording the opening to the pilot episode in 1959, Serling exclaimed there was a sixth dimension to explore. When a network executive overheard the introduction, he asked Serling what happened to the fifth dimension. Serling assumed there were already five dimensions, not four. Luckily, the mistake was corrected before the episode aired.

(7) X-15. Here’s a BBC article about the X-15 program and efforts to restore the B-52 that ferried the experimental craft to launch altitude – “The bomber that paves the way for the Moon missions”. (One of the cool things I got to do as a kid was attend a science-themed event on the aircraft carrier Kearsarge where X-15 pilot Scott Crossfield was on the program).

Joe Walker could be one of the greatest astronauts you have never heard of.

On 22 August 1963, Walker strapped into the cockpit of an X-15 experimental rocket plane for his final flight. He took off into the clear skies above Edwards Air Force base in sou thern California, his needle-shaped aircraft strapped beneath the starboard wing of a B-52 bomber.

At around 50,000ft, the X-15 dropped from the wing, Walker lit his engine and rocketed into the sky. When the plane ran out of fuel two minutes later, he was travelling at 5,600ft-per-second and the sky had turned from blue to black.

In another two minutes, Walker had reached 354,200 feet – 67 miles – above the Earth and beyond the air we breathe. He was no longer flying a plane but a spacecraft. 11 minutes and eight seconds after release, he was back on the ground – having glided at hypersonic speeds to a perfect landing on a dried-up lake bed

(8) IT IS GETTING TO LOOK LIKE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND. The Halloween Tree, inspired by a Ray Bradbury story, is back in season at Disneyland.

The four masks on the plaque are artwork done by Joseph Mugnaini. The oak tree is in front of the saloon in Frontierland.



(9) COMIC BOOK TRICK OR TREAT. Comic publishers invite fans to the Halloween ComicFest on October 29.

Celebrating its fifth year, Halloween ComicFest is an annual event where participating comic book specialty shops across North America and beyond celebrate the Halloween season by giving away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. The event takes place on Saturday, October 29th and is the perfect opportunity to introduce friends and family to the many reasons why comic shops are a great destination for Halloween themed comic books, products and merchandise. From zombies, vampires, monsters and aliens to costumes and more, comic shops have it all when it comes to Halloween fun!

Click here to see the offerings – and to download free sample pages.

(10) THE MIND BEHIND THE MASK. Popular Mechanics tries to argue “Why Westworld Matters” in an entertaining little article, however, my memory is rather different – I don’t think it had much influence because sf writers were already feverishly turning out warning stories of this type – anything from Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” to Bradbury’s “Downwind From Gettysburg.”

The Line Between Human and Android Keeps Shrinking

Crichton told American Cinematographer at the time of the film’s 1973 release that he was inspired by going to Disneyland and watching an animatronic Abraham Lincoln recite the Gettysburg Address. “It was the idea of playing with a situation in which the usual distinctions between person and machine—between a car and the driver of the car—become blurred, and then trying to see if there was something in the situation that would lead to other ways of looking at what’s human and what’s mechanical,” he said.

In Westworld, even the park’s administrators aren’t quite sure what their robots are capable of. Ominously, one overseer announces, “These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms. … We don’t know exactly how they work.” It becomes clear that Brynner’s gunslinger has gone rogue at least in part because he’s tired of letting park patrons shoot him full of holes just to satisfy their he-man cravings. He’s not a piece of furniture. He’s become sentient, and he wants a say in what happens to him.

Everything from Blade Runner (based on the late-’60s Dick novel) to A.I. (based on the late-’60s short story from Brian Aldiss) has grappled with the ethical questions inherent in making computers that duplicate human characteristics. How will we be able to tell if it’s man or machine?

(11) ISLAMIC SF COLLECTION. Islamicates Volume I: Anthology of Science Fiction short stories inspired from Muslim Cultures is available as a free download in many electronic formats.

Better late than never I always say, the wait is over, I give you the Science Fiction short story anthology based on the first Islamicate Short Story contest. There are a total of 12 stories in the anthology and the first three stories are also the ones which won the best story awards. The anthology is titled Islamicates: Volume I Science Fiction Anthology of Short Stories inspired by Muslim Cultures. It is titled Volume I because we hope to continue this series in the future. It was eight years ago that the first anthology based on Science Fiction inspired by Islamic cultures was released. Not only has the Geek Muslim community increased in numbers considerably but interest in Islam and Muslim cultures has increased to a great extent in pop media in general. We hope that our readers will greatly enjoy the anthology. As always comments, suggestions, questions and feedback in general will be greatly appreciated.

(12) PYTHON-RELATED PROJECT. Matthew Davis recommended a video: “Reading about the recent death of the actor Terence Baylor (who appeared in assorted Monty Python-related projects) reminded me that he was in a Terry Gilliam-directed advert for Orangina which was only ever broadcast in France.”

(13) RIDLEY SCOTT ADS. Davis also pointed out some other advertising history.“While Ridley Scott’s 1984/Apple commercial is famous with film and sf fans I don’t think his very Blade-Runner-esque series of adverts for Barclays bank in 1986 are remembered at all.”

[Thanks to Matthew Davis, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

74 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/29/16 “–We Also Stalk Gods”

  1. So that’s why I’ve had Lobachevsky going through my head while I took out the garbage and triaged some dishes.

    Tick, boxes, tick!
    Tick and post!
    Tick in the pixels of our gracious host!

  2. 5) At first blush, this sounds useful, but I’ll reserve judgement until I can read the bill itself. The devil is in the details and I don’t have time to read 51 pages of a bill tonight.

  3. How Much For Just the Pixels?

    Speaking of which, the Salt Marsh Opera is performing this next weekend:

    The Abduction from the Seraglio–composed by Mozart but performed as a brilliantly witty, Star Trek-themed parody”

    The Viking Ship Draken Harold will also be at Mystic Seaport the same weekend. Double Bill!

  4. “The Abduction from the Seraglio–composed by Mozart but performed as a brilliantly witty, Star Trek-themed parody”

    I’d love to see that. The Abduction from the Seraglio is my favourite opera and a Star Trek version sounds fabulous.

  5. (6) TWILIGHT ZONE TRIVIA – Wait. Network exec interference leading to greater accuracy? What is this I don’t even…

  6. Thanks for the link, Mike. That performance looks like a lot of fun. And “Oh, how will I triumph” is pretty much perfect for being belted out by Klingons.

  7. Kudos to the title. It is perfectly us.

    (1) CreationCon did “garbage bags full of $20s”, but it went to the organizers. The stars did okay, but not like nowadays. This is why I like fan-run cons; you’re a member, not a ticket buyer, the autographs are free or cheap, and you’re treated less like cattle going to the slaughter.

    (2) I like the first comment under that. “Harlan Ellison is suing, too, just because he feels like it.”

    I can’t think of anyone but Harlan who’s won one of these cases. The idea is so much like so many other TV shows, movies, and stories I don’t think they can win, particularly since NBC and Sony have more lawyers to throw at it. Submit some DVDs of “Quantum Leap” and “Voyagers”, and a stack of SF pulps, boom, done.

    I’m going to a con this weekend, so y’all are going to have to stalk gods and fives without me. Might see a couple of you there?

  8. The facebook posts for Trek Against Trump are really drawing out the people who apparently never noticed that Trek has always been political at times. Some really nasty ones for Wil Wheaton. I don’t even want to see how bad it is on twitter.

  9. Those of you in New York and not going to NYCC, Penguin Random House will have a post con meet and greet the Monday after the con at their New York offices.

    Details at http://www.unboundworlds.com/2016/09/announcing-2016-post-nycc-author-coffee-klatsch/ . RSVP is needed.

    Authors will include Katherine Arden, Chuck Wendig, C.A. Higgins, Connie Willis, Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole, Daniel Jose Older, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Kuhn, Aaron McConnell, and Bill Schweigart.

    For full information on Connie’s events in October, including NYCC, check out http://azsf.net/cwblog/

  10. (7)
    I’ve seen B52 #7, which was wearing a lot of drop symbols on its side. (X15: 120 drops) I suspect that’s the one at Edwards, as that’s where I saw it.

  11. @Lee: That sounds like a very fun event.

    @Lee Whiteside: It’s amazed me, these past few years, how many people managed to miss all the political stuff in “Star Trek”. Guess Gene and co. were much more subtle than they thought. Or than I thought; who the heck could miss the blatant message of the half-black/half-white species? Felt like being hit by a big stick sometimes.

  12. I have never understood the autograph thing, except as an excuse to say hi to a creator you respect but have no idea what you’d say to.

  13. El Pistolero on September 29, 2016 at 6:06 pm said:
    Looks around….Don’t think I’m supposed to be here

    We’re very friendly really. Talk to us. We probably won’t bite. Much.

  14. Reading update:

    So, An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows. 2016 release! So much to like! Fascinating world full of tons of well-rounded, diverse (mostly female) characters and interesting relationships and political intrigue…

    …And yet, I wasn’t convinced. The weak link here I think is the portal fantasy aspect, in which our cast of secondary world characters are joined by an extraordinarily insightful and politically sensitive white 16-year-old Australian girl as an audience substitute/unlikely hero subversion. Saffron, who I assume was born around 2000, is familiar with the politics of Margaret Thatcher and with the Brixton riots, immediately recognises all instances of ableism and cissexism and racial bias in herself and the world around her without prompting, is completely and unquestioningly comfortable with all aspects of the new world which are more taboo on earth, and misses home fairly constantly but in a weirdly abstract way – all of which is to say, she’s probably the most fantastic element of the book (which also has riding kangaroos and interdimensional portals and magic Duolingo and qentbaf, just saying). Her role in the first half of the story seems to mostly be as a convenient infodump point for different worldbuilding points, but it felt odd to draw attention to some of the social differences in such an explicit way (rather than just having a secondary world story where nobody questions or draws attention to the status quo, so the audience accepts it too) but have them have no impact on the main character’s growth, when it seems so unrealistic that a teenager from our world growing up in an average family would not have any culture shock or unrecognised biases to overcome. The way that the worldbuilding and character introductions are handled also slows the book down quite significantly in the first half, while still leaving some elements (e.g. Saffron’s earth life, some of the immediate history about the ruler) oddly vague.

    Things picked up substantially in the second half, which makes me hopeful that sequels will be a punchier ride building on all the awesomeness of the world that Meadows has set up. Despite the moan I’m super optimistic about this series and want there to be more stuff like it! So… recommend on potential but with the caveat that I’m not sure it’s quite reaching it. Yet.

    (I also read Seraphina before this which was so great that I can’t form sentences about it, so. There’s that.)

    Next up:
    Reading: Swordspoint
    Listening: Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl
    On the Computer: Summer in Orcus
    Also: Cymbeline (’cause I want to get in Shakespeare mood before checking out Monstrous Little Voices)
    Box: Ticked

  15. You’ll be amused to know who killed the laugh track

    Umm, for an article on the BBC website it’s very wrong about BBC programmes. The BBC never allowed canned laughter, only reaction from an actual live audience. It was permitted to move the reaction between takes of the same scene (when the audience had seen something 4 times in a row you might only have a slight chuckle on the version actually used) but not between different jokes. The BBC also insisted on a laugh-track free version of MASH for its transmissions. One series was delievered with the US laugh track still in place, viewing figures plummeted until the correct versions arrived. HHGTTG from what I can remember (I worked on various bits) was too complex for an audience show so no reaction was present.

  16. Elon Musk is very, very, very, very full of shit. I’d maybe believe 10 to 30 billion to R&D and build one of those most phallic of all rockets ever envisioned. But he wants a fleet of them ferrying off a million people to Mars? A planet where the nicest spot makes the worst spot in Antarctica seem like a vacation in Hawaii? And make it self-sustainable? Yeah, good luck with that.

    Even if he did get some sort of commercial interplanetary transportation going, here’s what you get for your $200,000 ticket (if they get the price that low.) You spend the rest of your life huddled in a small underground module hiding out from the lethally cold, nearish-vacuum carbon dioxide atmosphere, while also trying to avoid the toxic, perclorate-contaminated soil. If you aren’t a scientist or engineer (who will be struggling every day to make sure that something doesn’t go catastrophically wrong killing everyone) you will be doing heavy grunt labor or tedious factory work producing all of the necessities of life currently produced by Chinese sweatshops. After a number of years of this high-quality life, you will die young from radiation-induced cancer, assuming that you don’t die even earlier when one of the aforementioned scientists or engineers fails to adequately foresee the solution to one of the aforementioned catastrophes.

    Real life isn’t Star Trek, it isn’t Star Wars, and it isn’t The Martian.

  17. Getting to Mars isn’t the problem, it’s just a matter of money. Living on Mars will be the challenge and there doesn’t seem to be any plans for testing scenarios, building self contained habitats in this plan.

  18. Anthony said:

    HHGTTG from what I can remember (I worked on various bits) was too complex for an audience show so no reaction was present.

    I saw a documentary some years ago that said a laugh track was recorded for the first episode (they showed a clip from the pub scene with the laugh track included) to see how it worked, and the decision was made on the basis of that.

  19. I’m really enjoying Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds. I don’t remember seeing it mentioned here.

  20. HHGTTG from what I can remember (I worked on various bits) was too complex for an audience show so no reaction was present.

    I saw a documentary some years ago that said a laugh track was recorded for the first episode

    Hmmm, I know once in a while they’d show a completed programme to an audience and record that for reaction which is probably what happened there. With my ex-BBC engineer hat on though, in technical terms that’s not a laugh track.

    BBC sit-coms had very little time for post-production, an episode of Yes Minister would typically have camera rehersals during the afternoon on a Sunday, audience would arrive about 19:15, recording would be finished by just after 22:00, it would be in editing on Monday and on air Tuesday evening. It’s probably easier to use a real audience than try and run in canned laughter on the fly during recording.

  21. @1 – Awesome! If it pays to meet with the general public you get more of it. Uninterested Fans don’t participate. Charging something decreases the casual individual from those who feel it is valuable.

  22. @Joe H

    Ninja’d me!

    I think running Best Series as a special category is a good idea, in that it allows testing of all the tricky concepts it entails without having to set the wording in constitutional stone.

    Scalzi’s suggestion of awarding it less frequently, with a longer eligibility period, strikes me as worth exploring.

  23. StephenfromOttawa on September 30, 2016 at 7:48 am said:
    I’m really enjoying Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds. I don’t remember seeing it mentioned here.

    I’ve read the first in the series, and thought it was decent, but haven’t gotten around to the others yet. I guess I should bump up the wishlist priority!

  24. Uninterested Fans don’t participate. Charging something decreases the casual individual from those who feel it is valuable

    Nope, that’s not a classist statement at all.

    (Non-sarcastic reply–charging for something doesn’t filter out those “who don’t feel it is valuable”–charging filters out those without enough disposable income.)

  25. StephenfromOttawa on September 30, 2016 at 7:48 am said:
    I’m really enjoying Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds. I don’t remember seeing it mentioned here.

    First book is in my TBR, quite near the top but probably after Caliban’s War.

  26. @Anthony: feel free to file a complaint about the BBC link; it sounds like you have the credentials to make them listen. I suggest starting with http://www.bbc.com/news/contact-us/editorial.

    Today’s ~interesting links:
    The possibility of dragons: lots of running around re individual characteristics that could conceivably come together.
    Translators cite the world’s quirkiest phrases. I suspect most Filers know #1, but some of the others are also entertaining.
    New fodder for Turtledove? Coins showing Emperor Constantine found in Japanese ruins. I remember Star Rangers (one of the first Nortons I read) basing on a Roman who ordered a legion to go east forever; maybe not the same period but with a little fiddling….

  27. @Anthony: feel free to file a complaint about the BBC link; it sounds like you have the credentials to make them listen.

    Deletes ranty-rant about current BBC. TL;DR, no, they wouldn’t…

  28. New fodder for Turtledove? Coins showing Emperor Constantine found in Japanese ruins. I remember Star Rangers (one of the first Nortons I read) basing on a Roman who ordered a legion to go east forever; maybe not the same period but with a little fiddling….

    For some reason your link looks right, but misdirects. Let’s see if mine does the same thing.

    The find is very interesting but not surprising. Trade goods traveling between Europe and Eastern Asia has been going on for literally thousands of years. A coin can pass thorough a lot of hands in a thousand years. I suppose the fact that the coin survived that long without being permanently lost, melted down, or corroded to dust is more of a surprise than the distance that it traveled. It could have entered a hoard and been later rediscovered more than once–it could have been recovered from the debris of old ruins more than once. If only psychometry were real…

    (And here is where I morn for my Constantine II coin–in much better shape than the Japanese find–that I somehow managed to lose in my own house even though it was in a 2×2. Maybe in a few hundred years someone else will find that one.)

  29. The Poseidon’s cycle has a strong start and a strong close; the middle volume has parts that are not as strong as Reynolds usually.


    If a three person team, 2m 1f, traveling through time to key historic events is a copyrightable premise, my brother and I did it back in ’69 with our homeschooling term project The Travels of a Time Machine.

  31. Speaking of time travel TV series, MeTV has recently began airing The Time Tunnel. (And Land of the Giants–I have to confess that I had never heard of either of them before. Neither is quite up to the standards of today’s best SF, but they aren’t steaming piles of crap like Lost in Space, either.)

  32. @Darren Garrison

    In the UK Channel 4 aired Land of the Giants in a weekend lunchtime slot during the early 90s (umm, memory may be badly wrong on that date) so I’ve actually seen quite a few. I’m not sure why they were showing it – I think they’d had some cultish success showing Lost in Space and were casting around for a followup. Or maybe it was dirt cheap. They also ran American Football and Kabaddi in the morning, so go figure.

  33. I don’t actually remember the earlier volumes as well as I’d like, as it has been a while, but I think Poseidon’s Wake is great.

  34. @Arifel

    I sort of drifted off An Accident of Stars after about a quarter of it. There was much to take my interest, especially in the setting, but it seemed clear I was going to get it explained way too often. I’ll probably return, especially if you say the second half perks up.

    Incidentally, I’d recommend her novelette Coral Bones from Monstrous Little Voices (or available as a singleton) from earlier this year.

  35. @Darren Garrison

    Elon Musk is very, very, very, very full of shit.

    Yeah, I don’t think his numbers add up, but it’s still cool to see someone dreaming big. New technology could help with a few things.

    More sensible would be to use it to build proper lunar bases that operate like our existing Antarctic bases. Governments would have reason to pitch in for that, he’d get to work the bugs out of his hardware, we’d learn if 1/6 g is as bad as zero g, and we’d get practice with underground stations in a place where people were never more than three days from home.

    After doing that for twenty years, we really would be ready to talk about Mars outposts.

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