Pixel Scroll 9/7 Recount, Harlequin…

(1) Henge proliferation. Now a huge ritual arena has been discovered near Stonehenge. You almost end up thinking Stonehenge, which used to seem quite big in itself, was nothing but the cherry on top….

Researchers find hidden remains of massive Neolithic stone monument, thought to have been hauled into position more than 4,500 years ago

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape project has transformed how archaeologists view the ancient site, which sprawls over 4 sq miles of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. The main monument stands at the heart of a landscape rich with burial grounds, pits and chapels. Last year, researchers found the remains of 17 new chapels and hundreds of other archaeological features scattered across the site.

Two huge pits have been discovered in a two mile-long monument called the Cursus that lies to the north of Stonehenge. The pits seem to form an astronomical arrangement: on midsummer’s day, the eastern pit’s alignment with the rising sun and the western pit’s alignment with the setting sun intersect where Stonehenge was built 400 years later.

The rise and fall of the newly discovered monument at Durrington Walls suggests that buildings were modified and recycled since the first stones were laid around 3100BC. A large timber building encased in chalk is thought to have been a house of the dead where defleshing was performed as a burial ritual.

(2) This unnaturally leads us to Dr. Faustus AU’s The Call of Cthulhu – for beginning readers at Deviant Art.


(3) I sure didn’t score very well on Revolvy’s The Batman 1960s TV Show quiz. Must have missed more episodes attending choir practice than I thought.

(4) You won’t need an alarm to wake up once you have the spider clock – you’ll be too scared to go to sleep.

In Arachnophobia, the clock has been reimagined as the body of a spider, its mechanical movement engineered to sit partially outside the body as the spider’s head, where it can be viewed and admired as it sits on a table, or mounted to a wall.


spider clock

(5) Idaho Public Radio offers advice for writers from science fiction author David Levine.

David D. Levine is the author of the upcoming novel ‘Arabella of Mars’ (Tor 2016), as well over fifty science fiction and fantasy stories. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo Award.

We spoke with Mr. Levine at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane this August, and asked him what advice he had for aspiring writers. “Persistence is the only thing you cannot do without,” he said.

(6) Galactic Journey’s idea is intriguing —

Imagine living through the post-Golden Age of science fiction and fantasy. What would it be like to experience this journey at the plodding, one day per day pace?

Though I’m a bit disappointed with its 1960 Worldcon report — [September 6, 1960] The 1960 WorldCon in Pittsburgh!

Of course, I wasn’t actually present at the con, it being held some 2500 miles away on the 17th floor of the Penn Sheraton in Pittsburgh.  But I know people, and I have access to a million-dollar ‘fax machine.  Thus, even though the custodial staff is just barely finishing its sweeping up after some 300 attendees had a roaring great time, I am already able to bring you this report:

The primary purpose for a convention is to allow fellow fen (plural of fan) to mingle.  Gordon Dickson likens it to a Gentleman’s Club where adventurers can meet and compare notes before heading off back into the wild.  Fred Pohl calls it a family gathering.

It looks like the demographics of fandom match that of publication: women are in the distinct minority, but they are present and often outsizedly significant.

Not sure what the point is of a report that doesn’t acknowledge the names of anybody but the pros (not even all of those pictured are named).

If somebody is writing a throwback account of everyday life in the genre, I’d expect to see more evidence of research from sources that aren’t available online. Harry Warner Jr., anyone?

(7) Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon has worked up a new estimate of the number of Sad and Rabid Puppies based on the 2015 nominating data released at Sasquan.

(8) Django Wexler has coded an E Pluribus Hugo simulator.

Important Caveat: I am not a voting theory expert! Smarter people than me have thought about this. However, I am a programmer of sorts, and interested in this stuff. So, I wrote up a thing that runs the EPH algorithm on test data. (I obviously don’t have access to actual Hugo data!) I thought other people might get something out of it, so I’m posting it here.

Here is the EPHConsole project as a Visual Studio ’13 project.

Here is the compiled self-installer for the EPHConsole project.

Here is the EXE file, which should work if you have .NET installed on your machine.

Here is an example data file.

(9) I like Joe’s attitude.

(10) Chuck Wendig has found the silver lining in all those one-star reviews people have dumped on his new novel Star Wars: Aftermath.

Others have suggested that there may be a campaign by some Legends fangroups to “raid” the book’s reviews to tank its ranking with these one-star reviews — an interesting tactic that does indeed tank its actual review score, but not its sales ranking given that Amazon algorithms are interested not in the quality of the reviews but rather the attention that the reviews and the book get. (Meaning, a passel of negative reviews actually elevates the book’s overall sales ranking. Which in turn garners it more sales. Amazon reps have been clear with me on this point: buyers buy books with reviews, period. Not good reviews, not bad reviews. But rather: quantity of reviews impress buyers to make purchases. So, leaving a ton of bad reviews actually increases the book’s sales. Ironic, and not likely what anyone supporting such a campaign intends.)

Ben Lindbergh at Grantland outlines the basic problem for Extended Universe fans:

It’s an apt title for a story at the intersection of two climactic events concerning the galaxy far, far away. The in-universe aftermath is the power struggle that succeeds the destruction of the Second Death Star and the loss of the Empire’s Sith-heavy C-Suite at the end of Return of the Jedi. But the book also arrives amid a meta-aftermath: the Alderaan-like extinction of the old Expanded Universe, which started as a supplement to the movies and soon outstripped them in scope, sprouting into a story-surrounding-the-story that spanned thousands of years and unfolded via hundreds of books, comics, and video games from 1976 until 2014, when Disney decided to clear the decks for future films by declaring all that came before non-canon.

(11) Police are circulating the photo of a person of interest in a sexual assault at Dragon Con this weekend.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta police are asking for the public’s help identifying a man who may be connected to a sexual assault at the popular sci-fi convention Dragon Con.

Officer Kim Jones said the female victim was in town for the convention and was sexually assaulted early Sunday “by a white male wearing an FBI baseball cap.” The man reportedly introduced himself as “Gary from Marietta.”

Police also released a photo of the suspect. Further details about the incident were not immediately available.

Dragon Con draws tens of thousands of people to Downtown Atlanta each year, many in costumes and other paraphernalia celebrating comic books, movies and pop culture. This year’s festivities began Friday.

In an emailed statement, Dragon Con media relations director Don Carroll said it is the convention’s policy not to comment on “specific incidents.”

“Dragon Con is proud to offer a safe and inclusive convention for its members that is free of harassment or assault of any kind,” the statement said. “We work with the Atlanta Police Department all year to develop and install procedures to prevent issues such as these. If and when they occur (we) insure they are handled by the appropriate authorities. APD is on site throughout the convention.”

Anyone with information about the alleged assault or the person of interest is asked to contact Detective R.C. Sluss at 404-546-4260. Tipsters can also remain anonymous — and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000 — by contacting Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS and crimestoppersatlanta.org.

[Thanks to JJ, Andrew Porter, Eric Lindsay, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

334 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/7 Recount, Harlequin…

  1. And then there was the geneticist-turned-textile-artist who decided to corner the market on saurian wool for her husband…

    If Ewe Were A Dinosaur, My Love

    (Too obvious.)

  2. Occy on September 8, 2015 at 7:53 pm said:

    Hi Pogonip,

    If only you had a DLSR camera with a nice macro lens in your hands. 🙂

    No, no it should be
    “If you were a DSLR my love”

  3. These Swirsky takeoffs are like the Feghoots of the 21st century…

    Now that’s a word I haven’t heard in a very, very long time. Grin.

  4. Mike Glyer: These Swirsky takeoffs are like the Feghoots of the 21st century…

    I’m too young to have read the originals — but I do remember the ones in “Mr. Peabody’s Improbable History” from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

    It will be interesting to see Rachel’s reaction, if there is one…

  5. I am reminded of the historical costumer who tried to have a relationship with an SF costumer.

    “If you wore a camisol, my love!” She cried. “We could get on so splendidly!”

  6. @All,

    Nothing stopping me from adding recent additions, which I have done.

    ETA: I am not editing so you get the collection in all its, uh, glory?

  7. Okay, so there was a composer and he had decided to do a symphony in honor of the plant kingdom. He puts in everything. Great towering orchestrations for the redwoods and little tinkly notes for daisies and crashing cymbals for the day lilies and somber bassoons for the irises. It’s huge. It’s epic. The movement about sorghum involves artillery.

    Problem is, there are a lot of plants. The damn thing is twelve hours long. He has to cut here, pull stuff out here. His wife, the conducter, convinces him that as lichen are not entirely plants, he can cut that, and maybe consolidate the ferns a little, and the thing with the lotuses can go in a different symphony entirely. They get it cut down a lot. At last, it’s almost playable length, they just need a few more minutes removed.

    So she turns to him and says “if Yew were a minor score, my love…?”

  8. A lover of literature looks at the price of a Swirsky story and cries out:

    If you were a dime at Tor, my love…..

  9. And then there was the Beany and Cecil episode about a voyage to a far island, searching for the ‘Singing Dinah-Shor”. It was a sauropod, doing a fair imitation of guess who?

    If I remember correctly, that was the same episode with the “No Bikini Atoll” and “The Kingston Tree-O”.

    I have that episode on video tape somewhere, but it would mean hooking up the VCR again.

  10. Wow, kinesthesia is a thing, isn’t it? I’m remembering “a gritty pearl is Michael, LLD” and “a furry with a syringe on top” and I can almost feel that odd-format paperback in my hands. (I’m a lucky second-generation geek/nerd, who spent many happy hours reading Dad’s books and multiple shelf-feet of back issues of F&SF. Gotta mention to him that unless someone else has called dibs, I very much hope to inherit that particular volume.)

  11. @RedWombat:

    If Ewe Were A Dinosaur, My Love

    (Too obvious.)

    If Ewe Wore A Dinosaur, My Love?

  12. Mike Glyer: Today somebody made a second recommendation — Declann Finn recommended himself.

    That’s remarkably pathetic.

    One wonders if all of this Puppy-like behavior is just a result of poor parenting.

  13. Today somebody made a second recommendation — Declann Finn recommended himself

    Clearly the rush of volunteers had been nobbled by the vast SJW conspiracy.

  14. Ok, I cannot resist.

    Seems a gentleman in southern India who traveled extensively, yet always came home to his forest with great relief, because (as he explained), “if you love a pine grove in Mysore, you would.”

  15. Allan Quatermain, trudging through the jungle, finds an ancient pitcher left as a way-marker.

    “This ewer’s a cynosure, by Jove!”

  16. I thought it was a typical love note from the Pups, “F U, Swirsky Dinosaur, My Gawd!”

  17. These Swirsky takeoffs are like the Feghoots of the 21st century…

    My dad was a constant source of Feghoots when I was growing up. Now my inner 13-year-old is rolling her eyes and saying, “Da-ad!”

  18. @Cassy B: “Granted, some publishers insist on changing what they’re calling the series name midstream (I’m looking at you, Ring of Fire/Ashanti Shards!)”

    Not to be too nitpicky, but the two series aren’t identical. Assiti Shards contains all the Ring of Fire material (which all stems from the impact of a single Shard), but it also includes Time Spike and at least two more forthcoming books… bringing the total number of different Shards to four so far.

    In short, Flint’s set up an array of alt-history lines that are independent of each other (and can thus be read separately) but share the same ultimate cause. 1632/RoF is one of those lines, but Assiti Shards is the whole set of them. Personally, I don’t even use the Assiti Shards header when I relabel those books. I find it a mostly useless label that eats up title space. 🙂

  19. @Pogonip — Reginold Bretnor, under the pen name Grendel Briarton, had a long-running series of short-shorts, typically just a few paragraphs, featuring Ferdinand Feghoot, an agent of the Society for the Aesthetic Re-Arrangement of History. The entire short story was a buildup to the pun that was the last line of it.

    And that’s a Feghoot. 😉

  20. Pogonip on September 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm said:

    What’s a Feghoot?

    A super-short story (typically 500 words or less) whose sole excuse for existing is the pun in its last line. The original Feghoots were written by “Grendel Briarton” (anagrammatic pseudonym of Reginald Bretnor), and published (in various magazines, starting with The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. These super-shorts are known as “Feghoots” because Bretnor’s all shared the “umbrella title” of Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot, Feghoot being the nominal protagonist of the lot.

  21. @various: (ebook archival/storage methods)

    For DRM-free* books, I’ve practically got this down to a science. The first thing I do, if it’s not already an EPUB, is convert it into one and run a cleanup routine on it that performs a decent amount of code debloating. Once that’s done, I’ve got a few code snippets stored as macros so I can standardize the metadata without introducing calibre’s proprietary gunk into the mix. Between Amazon and Goodreads, it’s usually not difficult to fill in any missing pieces. That’s the easy part.

    The more time-consuming part is taking the ebook and cleaning up the Pages And Pages of weird CSS styles. Some of this is just personal aesthetics, like my preference that paragraph indents be 1.5em instead of some other strange value; 1em is too short, and 2em is too long. (For the uninitiated: 1em is the width of the “m” character in the active typeface.) Some of it I believe to be common sense, like removing references to unused fonts and rescaling as needed so that the average text paragraph is set to the default font size (canonically “medium”). There are a few other bits, like removing excess specifications and bubbling default font specifications to the highest structural level instead of repeating them in Every Single Rule, but that’s the gist of my cleanup efforts.

    You would be amazed at how much cleaner an average ebook’s code can look after that treatment. Seriously, it’s astonishing. Sometimes I’ll touch up a few other things – combining text-indent and center-justify makes me grind my teeth, I can’t stand deliberately itty-bitty text, and I have my own recipe for drop-caps – but those are personal quirks.

    Anyway, once all that’s taken care of, I copy the “clean” book to either two or three places. First, if I haven’t read the book or I want it on my reader (a Kobo) for some other reason, it goes there, into the correct folder. Second, it goes into the corresponding folder on my external hard drive, which is divided into on and off of the Kobo. Third, it goes into the unified “I don’t care whether it’s on the reader or not” library on a special USB stick. If I’m feeling particularly sparky, I’ll use this opportunity to back up both that stick and the Kobo, in case of a crash.

    The special USB stick is really the key to the whole operation, because it has its own battery and wifi router built in. If I want to browse a book that’s not on my reader, all I have to do is turn it on, connect my iPad to its network, and navigate to the book’s folder. Open it in iBooks, and away we go. Instant, permanent, personal cloud storage. The stick is actually a microSDXC reader, too, so if my library gets too big, I can upgrade to a larger card – but for right now, 64gb is plenty for my ebooks, graphic novels, and gaming PDFs.

    In short, if every cloud-based library I’m connected to – Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, RPGnow, and now BAM – were to get vaporized tomorrow, not one of my DRM-free ebooks would be affected. Even my archive of DRM-locked books (see next paragraph) would survive. I should probably set up an off-site physical backup just in case of various disasters, but that kind of feels like gilding the lily at this point. 🙂

    As for DRM’d books, the main type I have to deal with are Adobe EPUBs. Turns out that as long as you download those while signed into your account, the protected books can be backed up and restored just like any other files. No reason to keep ’em on the wifi stick, but it’s good to keep an archive on a removable hard drive.

    * Because removing DRM is a Bad Thing that nobody ever does, right, guys? And since it would be crassly suggestive to point out that removing DRM from a book would make it DRM-free, let’s not do that…

  22. I am writing a story about an apatosaurus with an unrequited crush on another sauropod. It’s called: “If you were a love, my dinosaur.”

  23. Simon Bucher-Jones on September 9, 2015 at 12:46 am said:

    A true Feghoot is not just a pun in the last line, the pun is the name of a well known sf author or fan.

    Considering how many of Briarton’s Feghoots cannot meet your criterion, I think I’m safe in saying that the terminal pun must be on the name of a well-known SF personage is merely a preference of yours, not a necessary qualification for the form.

  24. I ran a magazine with my significant other. It was very eclectic and covered a specialist subject each print run. We were trying to remember a particular edition – involving the ranking of the more unusual kinds of African mega fauna. When we both remembered the theme we said
    “Issue: weird rhino sort, my love”

  25. I bought a book on Google Play the other day — I say “bought” but it looks like I’m only renting it, as I can only view the thing through a browser connected to the internet, and there seems to be no way of downloading it that I can see. Which to my mind rather defeats two of the main features of ebooks: of portability, and being able to read them off-grid. Somebody at Google deserves a good kicking for coming up with this idea.

  26. @Meredith:

    If the money was right and I could work from home (as I currently do), I’d certainly be up for the gig. Actually, keeping me out of the office might be a selling point, as it would prevent me from any temptation to berate the people responsible for certain inanities. 🙂


    I will second Christian here. I occasionally purchase from Google Play, and the first thing I do is download the EPUB with Adobe. The Viggle rewards store makes the download link even harder to find – I had to create a Stylish hack to make it work on Firefox – but it also allows EPUB downloads.

    (For those unfamiliar with Viggle, it’s an app that gives you points for checking into songs and TV shows, watching ads, and playing trivia games. It is possible, with effort, to gain 12,000 points in a day. As a point of comparison, Chuck Wendig’s Zer0es costs 35,000 points… a bit more for me, because I have to deal with sales tax, but that’s a detail. Three days of spare-time screen-tapping for a new release ain’t bad, but I wish Hachette wasn’t the only Big Five publisher in their store.)

  27. Daniel Dern:

    Pyramid Books once managed to publish the Skylark novels out of order, labeling ‘Skylark of Valeron’ #2 and ‘Skylark Three’ #3. Since they’d done it correctly before, someone obviously looked at the series and thought, “Oh no, we’ve been doing it wrong all along. Good thing I’m here to fix it!”

    (For the uninitiated, Skylark was what the scientist-hero called his spaceships. The first book, ‘The Skylark of Space,’ was about the first two ships, Skylark and Skylark Two. The second book was about the next-built one.)

  28. @Rev. Bob

    Right, how do I talk to to get you hired!?

    (Not that anyone is likely to listen to a noobish nobody like me.)

  29. And, yes, indeed, downloads of Google Books EPUB files will be DRM-free when from a DRM-free source – I do so fairly regularly so that I can read them on Cool Reader.

  30. NelC: I bought a book on Google Play the other day — I say “bought” but it looks like I’m only renting it, as I can only view the thing through a browser connected to the internet, and there seems to be no way of downloading it that I can see. Which to my mind rather defeats two of the main features of ebooks: of portability, and being able to read them off-grid. Somebody at Google deserves a good kicking for coming up with this idea.

    I was waiting for a punchline such as “If you were a cloud e-book, my love”.

  31. Meredith: @Meredith: Please don’t write how when you mean who.

    I read the notification for this comment via e-mail and thought, “Hey! Who’s being a dick to Meredith??!”…

    then looked up at the top of the e-mail to the poster’s name and thought, “Oh, never mind.”

  32. @Rev Bob, ok, I cleanup (and proofread!) my ebooks on a regular basis, but I’m a piker compared to you. I’ve barely stuck my toe into CSS editing (I use Sigil, if that matters) and I’m still tentative and nervous about it. How do you put in paragraph-indents, for those books that don’t have them? (I’ve been putting in non-breaking spaces at the start of each line, which is, I know, an incredibly clumsy work-around.) Also, how do you, after you get the paragraphs properly indented, get the extraneous space between paragraphs to go away? I want my ebooks to look like BOOKS, not web pages…

    And as long as I’m picking your brains, I scanned-for-my-own-use a book I have in dead-tree copy, and followed the directions I found somewhere online for dropcaps, which displayed just fine in Sigil but not on my Kobo….

  33. @JJ

    I’m typo’ing all over the place! It’s terribly embarrassing. I think the lack of good sleep and unusually high pain levels of the last couple of weeks are getting to me (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

  34. Yep, it is indeed possible to download Google Play ebooks. I occasionally get one or two for free by using my Surveys credits but that can take a while to build up.

    On a related note I generally shove all my ebooks into Google Books, as I read them on my android tablet. Only exceptions are comics which are often larger than Google’s upload limit, so they go into a different reader. (Moon reader maybe? I can’t remember what it’s called and my tablet is elsewhere at the moment.)

    ETA: the vast majority of my reading is done in dead tree format. Most of my short story reading has now migrated to ebook form though, and thanks to storybundle and the Humble Bundles I’m building up a surprisingly large stock of DRM free ebooks very quickly for very cheap.

  35. I bought a book from Google Play, and it probably took me a half an hour of googling, frustration, rage, and resentment before I was able to make it download. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you how I did it, now. I think I just cursed at the screen until it obeyed me….

    (It was Grayden Saunders’ A Succession of Bad Days, which is on my current short-list for Hugo novel nominees. The book was worth the irritation)

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