Pixel Scroll 9/8/17 The Heinlein Appertainment Collision: Pixel, The Cat That Walks Through Scrolls

(1) HINES ARC GIVEAWAY TO SUPPORT DISASTER RELIEF. Jim C. Hines is doing a giveaway of an advance copy of Terminal Alliance to encourage people to donate to flood/hurricane relief: “Disaster Aid and Terminal Alliance Giveaway”:

Two weeks ago, Sophie received advance review copies of Terminal Alliance. I’ve been meaning to do a giveaway, but I was struggling to come up with a good way to do it.

Then I started seeing the damage reports come in from hurricanes and flooding. The devastation they’ve left in their wakes, and the devastation yet to come. A million people without power in Puerto Rico. Record-breaking rain and flooding in the southwest U.S. 41 million affected by flooding and landslides in South Asia.

And now I know how I want to do this giveaway. You want to win an autographed ARC of Terminal Alliance? There are two things you need to do.

  1. Donate to one of the organizations helping with disaster relief.
  2. Leave a comment saying you donated.

(2) USE YOUR OWN DARNED IMAGINATION. Bestselling fantasy writer Mark Lawrence tells his fans “Why you’re not getting a map”.

A question posed to me on this blog.

Q: When are you going to draw a map for Book of the ancestors series? I’m dying to read Red Sister but can’t bring myself to do it without a map.

A: I’m not going to. If you can’t read a book without a map I guess it’s not a book for you.

I’m often asked: “Did you draw the map first or as you wrote the book.” This is frequently by people who haven’t read any of my books.

There is an assumption there … fantasy books have maps. Which is odd, since I have read hundreds (possibly thousands) of novels without maps, many of them set in regions I’m unfamiliar with. The fact is that for a great many works of fiction maps are irrelevant, they are about what people are doing in their lives, if Sarah goes to visit her uncle in Vostok it is sufficient for me to know it took her several hours on the train and when she got there the forests were covered in snow. I don’t need to look it up on a map. It doesn’t matter.

(3) SELLING SHORT. Charles Payseur begins a new series of posts with “MAPPING SHORT SF/F: Part 1, A Key to the Kingdom” at Nerds of a Feather.

Really, the reasons I want to do this can be broken down thusly:

  1. To provide a tool for readers to break down short SFF into meaningful, manageable chunks that will help them locate stories they will hopefully love.
  2. To counter the narrative that short SFF is either too massive, too disparate, or too opaque to be successfully navigated.
  3. To talk about short SFF, which is one of my great loves.
  4. To highlight publications, authors, and trends within short SFF.

…One last thing before I close this down. People often come to me to ask how to find stories. How to refine their search. While I hope to help through this series, there are some tools that are available to you right now, and I find that not everyone thinks of this when they’re considering where to look as readers for particular genres/styles/etc. Your best resource as a reader is…submissions guidelines. Yes, they are written for writers, but if you want to know what a publication is interested in, submissions guidelines are where to look. Skip the About Us section of publications. Read what they want. See if they have a diversity statement. Check to see what other tactics they might have to encourage marginalized writers to submit. This is a really easy “cheat” for readers to get a feel for a publication without checking out reviews or reading sample stories. And using a tool like The Submissions Grinder at Diabolical Plots allows you to search by genre, by length, by basically whatever you want. It’s not what it was designed for, but it is amazing for searching out venues and stories to read.

(4) SINGULARITY SINS. Rodney Brooks has written an excellent article explaining in detail why the future of AI isn’t going to be quite as scary or as exciting as most SF stories would have you think: “The Seven Deadly Sins of Predicting the Future of AI”. Here’s an excerpt from one of his seven main points.

Some people have very specific ideas about when the day of salvation will come–followers of one particular Singularity prophet believe that it will happen in the year 2029, as it has been written.

This particular error of prediction is very much driven by exponentialism, and I will address that as one of the seven common mistakes that people make.

Even if there is a lot of computer power around it does not mean we are close to having programs that can do research in Artificial Intelligence, and rewrite their own code to get better and better.

Here is where we are on programs that can understand computer code. We currently have no programs that can understand a one page program as well as a new student in computer science can understand such a program after just one month of taking their very first class in programming. That is a long way from AI systems being better at writing AI systems than humans are.

Here is where we are on simulating brains at the neural level, the other methodology that Singularity worshipers often refer to. For about thirty years we have known the full “wiring diagram” of the 302 neurons in the worm C. elegans, along with the 7,000 connections between them. This has been incredibly useful for understanding how behavior and neurons are linked. But it has been a thirty years study with hundreds of people involved, all trying to understand just 302 neurons. And according to the OpenWorm project trying to simulate C. elegans bottom up, they are not yet half way there. To simulate a human brain with 100 billion neurons and a vast number of connections is quite a way off. So if you are going to rely on the Singularity to upload yourself to a brain simulation I would try to hold off on dying for another couple of centuries.

(5) LUCASFILM HELPS DESIGN REAL WORLD MISSION PATCH. In space no one can hear you squee.

Taking a modern twist on a longstanding spaceflight tradition of mission patch design, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) partnered with Lucasfilm to blend iconic images from the Star Wars franchise with a real-world space station for its latest mission patch.

BB-8 meets ISS

Though it should come as no surprise that the intersection of space science and science fiction fans is quite large, it isn’t often the two areas come together in such overt fashion, even with something as basic as a patch. Indeed, mission insignia are usually designed by astronauts or engineers involved with a particular mission, not an outside organization.

CASIS, however, has a history of engaging third parties to influence – or outright design – its ensigns. Before the current collaboration with Lucasfilm, CASIS worked with Marvel to design its 2016 mission patch. That work featured Rocket Raccoon and Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy looking upwards toward the International Space Station (ISS).

(6) TECHNOLOGY AND FREEDOM. Coming September 17 at the Brooklyn Historical Auditorium: “Structures of Power: Politics, Science Fiction, and Fantasy presented by the Center for Fiction”

Science fiction and fantasy are uniquely positioned to explore structures of power. Four authors examine how power struggles impact individuals and collectives, intersections between technology and politics, and methods of resistance to oppressive governments and technologies. N.K. Jemisin (The Stone Sky), Eugene Lim (Dear Cyborgs), Malka Older (Null States), and Deji Bryce Olukotun (After the Flare) will discuss how science fiction and fantasy respond to our hopes and fears for the future, offers alternatives to conventional politics, and examines how technology affects freedom. Moderated by Rosie Clarke.

(7) BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. Here’s the first of “11 Deep Facts About The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” from Mental Floss.


It all started with a roar. One night, while he was living near Santa Monica Bay, legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury was awakened from his sleep by a blaring foghorn. Moved by the mournful bellow, he quickly got to work on a short story about a lovelorn sea monster. Called The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (later retitled The Foghorn), it was published in The Saturday Evening Post on June 23, 1951.

At roughly the same time, Mutual Films was developing a script for a new action-packed monster movie. The finished product would ultimately bear more than a slight resemblance to a certain Saturday Evening Post story. For instance, both of them feature a scene in which a prehistoric titan lays waste to a lighthouse. According to some sources, Mutual had already started working on its marine creature flick when studio co-founder Jack Dietz happened upon Bradbury’s yarn in the Post. Supposedly, he contacted the author without delay and bought the rights to this tale.

But Bradbury’s account of what happened behind the scenes is totally different. The other co-founder of Mutual was one Hal Chester. Late in life, Bradbury claimed that when a preliminary script for what became Beast had been drafted, Chester asked him to read it over. “I pointed out the similarities between it and my short story,” Bradbury said. “Chester’s face paled and his jaw dropped when I told him his monster was my monster. He seemed stunned at my recognition of the fact. He had the look of one caught with his hand in the till.”

In any event, Bradbury received a $2000 check and a shout-out in the movie’s opening credits.


Star Trek Day

[The anniversary of when the first episode aired in 1966.]

“I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity; I know nothing.” ~ James T. Kirk, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Long ago, in the depths of the cold war, America had a prophet arrive. He spoke not of religious texts and damnation, but instead provided us with a vision of the future so hope-filled, so compelling, that it has indelibly marked the imaginations of man-kind ever since. Star Trek Day celebrates that vision, and the man who created it, Gene Roddenberry.


  • September 8, 1966 — Original Star Trek series debuted on television.
  • September 8, 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series premiered. (Talk about coincidences.)


  • Chip Hitchcock rightly says, “Today’s Rhymes With Orange is for the strong of stomach.”
  • John King Tarpinian found a funny about cosplay – today’s Lio.

(11) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is giving out his annual Galactic Stars – this time in the TV category: “[Sep. 8, 1962] Navigating the Wasteland (1961-62 in (good) television)”. These awards are not limited to sff – Route 66 and The Andy Griffith Show made the list – but The Twilight Zone a couple other genre series made the list.

Other stand-outs include:

Mr. Ed 1960-: despite being overly rooted in conventional gender roles, one can’t ignore Alan Young’s charm, the fun of the barbed banter between Young’s married neighbors, or the impressive way they make a horse appear to talk.

Supercar 1961-62: this British import is definitely kiddie fare, but it’s still fun to watch Mike Mercury and his two scientist associates defeat criminals and triumph over natural disaster.  Of course, the acting’s a bit wooden…

(12) WHEN BRUCE WILLIS ATTENDS YOUR OFFICE PARTY. Io9 reports “The Best Christmas Movie of All Time Is Being Turned Into a Must-Have Children’s Book”. I was thinking, A Christmas Story? Miracle on 34th Street? I was wrong….

It’s unfortunate that Die Hard, the best Christmas movie of all time, isn’t really a film you can watch with your kids. But this year, instead of suffering through Elf once again, you can spend some quality time with your PG-rated family members by reading a new holiday children’s book based on the adventures of John McClane.

A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic, written by comedian Doogie Horner, and illustrated by JJ Harrison, was inspired by the classic Christmas poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas. But instead of detailing Santa’s attempts to deliver presents to good boys and girls, the book tells the timeless tale of a New York police officer single-handedly taking down a gang of European terrorists.

(13) THE IT FACTOR. The children’s movie about a clown with a red balloon did well. SyFy Wire says “The weekend’s only starting, and IT has already broken 4 box office records”.

According to Deadline, the R-rated IT’s record-breaking take of $13.5 million means it had:

  • The largest gross for a horror pre-show gross.
  • The largest gross for a R-rated preview gross.
  • The largest gross for a September preview, ever.
  • The largest gross for a movie based on a Stephen King novel.

This Thursday night preview kicked the stuffing out of the R-rated Deadpool, which only earned $12.7 from its pre-show screenings. Experts are predicting more record-shattering as the weekend progresses.

(14) KOWAL SIGNED FOR NARRATION. Parvus Press has contracted with Mary Robinette Kowal to perform the audiobook narration for the upcoming title Flotsam by R J Theodore. The book will be released in digital, print, and audio on January 30, 2018.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to work with a world-class talent like Mary Robinette Kowal on this title,” said Colin Coyle, Publisher at Parvus Press. “We know that this book is going to find a dedicated fan base and we want to bring it to as many readers and listeners as possible.”

…R J Theodore couldn’t be more pleased with Parvus’ choice for FLOTSAM‘s narrator. She says, “Mary’s voice is a complex bourbon that bites with a wry humor on the way down. I am very excited to hear it applied to FLOTSAM’s narration.”

Cat Rambo, author of “Beasts of Tabat”, describes FLOTSAM as “Combining the best elements of steampunk and space opera,” and promises “[P]laced in a lavishly detailed and imagined world, Flotsam will hold you firmly till the final page.”

…Mary Robinette Kowal, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters.

(15) NEXT TURN OF THE WHEEL. Although the blog has devoted years to teaching indie authors how to put together and market their books, Mad Genius Club’s Peter Grant has a new message: “It’s time to face facts: online lending and streaming media is, increasingly, the future of books”.

I’ve written before about the threat that streaming media poses to traditional book sales.  I’ve had a certain amount of pushback about that, particularly from those who don’t like the thought of their income from writing declining to such an extent.  Some have even refused to make their books available on streaming services such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.  Now, however, the signs are clear.  We have to face up to the reality of streaming media in our future – or be swept aside.

Those signs are most clear in other areas of the entertainment industry.  Let’s not forget, that is our industry, too.  We’re not selling books.  We’re selling entertainment, and our products (books and stories) are competing with every other avenue of entertainment out there – movies, TV series, music, games, the lot.  If we don’t offer sufficient entertainment for consumers’ dollars, they’re going to spend them on another form of entertainment – and we’re going to starve.

(16) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. At Phys.org they ask: “Are we being watched? Tens of other worlds could spot the Earth”.

Thanks to facilities and missions such as SuperWASP and Kepler, we have now discovered thousands of planets orbiting stars other than our sun, worlds known as ‘exoplanets’. The vast majority of these are found when the planets cross in front of their host stars in what are known as ‘transits’, which allow astronomers to see light from the host star dim slightly at regular intervals every time the planet passes between us and the distant star.

In the new study, the authors reverse this concept and ask, “How would an alien observer see the solar system?” They identified parts of the distant sky from where various planets in our solar system could be seen to pass in front of the sun – so-called ‘transit zones’—concluding that the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are actually much more likely to be spotted than the more distant ‘Jovian’ planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), despite their much larger size.

“Larger planets would naturally block out more light as they pass in front of their star”, commented lead author Robert Wells, a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast. “However the more important factor is actually how close the planet is to its parent star – since the terrestrial planets are much closer to the sun than the gas giants, they’ll be more likely to be seen in transit.”

(17) THE MARTIAN HOP. Stephen Baxter is featured in “Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: A Sequel to ‘The War of the Worlds’” at the New York Times.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

The work that Wells put into the original; the development it went through. There are some surviving drafts, at the University of Illinois. What really surprised me was how the narrator evolved. In the initial drafts, he’s a much more competent character, much more purposeful. He loses his wife to the Martians; they destroy the town he lived in. He becomes enraged and wants revenge, so he falls in with the resistance, and he’s going to blow up the Martians, like a suicide bomber.

But Wells clearly wasn’t happy with that. In the final draft, the narrator is burned, wounded, but he follows the Martians in a way that’s more “get it over with.” Then he goes into a fugue, a kind of three-day dropout. I think Wells was groping for a prediction of shell shock, which wasn’t a recognized condition until the First World War, 20 years later. So it’s a tremendous prediction, which I think is underrated by critics. That discovery, of how much Wells worked on the book, was a real revelation for me.

(18) ANOTHER GLIMPSE. Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, in “My Late Post regarding the 2017 Hugo Awards”, shares  great photos from the ceremony.

(19) BEARS DISCOVER EMAIL. End of a bizarre story: “Judge dismisses email invention claim”. The plaintiff was looking not for royalties on email but for libel damages for a story doubting his claim to have created the “definitive” email program — the modern equivalent of claiming to have invented fire?

Shiva Ayyadurai sued news website Tech Dirt earlier this year after it published several articles denying his claim….

Mr Ayyadurai’s controversial claim revolves around a program he wrote in 1978, called EMAIL, that was used by staff at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He was granted a copyright for this program in 1982.

Many news websites have published detailed rejections of his claim.

Tech Dirt was one of the most vocal critics of Mr Ayyadurai’s campaign to establish his software as the definitive version.

Technology history suggests that modern email programs have a lot of influences, but much of the work was done prior to 1978 by many different developers.

Ray Tomlinson is widely acknowledged as the programmer who, in the early 1970s, first used the “@” symbol as a way to describe a particular user on a particular network.

(20) RIDE WEST, YOUNG MAN. Adweek tells about this bit of fictionalized history: “Lyft Travels Back to 1836 With Jeff Bridges in First Brand Work From Wieden + Kennedy”.

Man invents the wheel. Man walks on the moon. Man calls a car to the East Village on a Friday night, when you can’t flag a yellow cab to save your life.

These are some of the major developments in the history of human transportation, according to Lyft, whose big new brand campaign is set to debut during NFL games this Sunday.

…W+K made a splash with a summer activation in which Lyft “took over” an Los Angeles car wash, but the new work is even more ambitious. In the first spot, “Riding West,” Jeff Bridges relays a few lessons about the importance of choice that are as relevant today as they were to the wagon trains of the early 19th century.


There are a few more videos at the link. I also like this one:

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Greg Hullender, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

52 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/8/17 The Heinlein Appertainment Collision: Pixel, The Cat That Walks Through Scrolls

  1. 2) I respect Mark’s opinion on the matter, but of course, my pro-Map stance is a matter of the public record. 🙂 I can read a book without a map, and I do read Lawrence’s work, so…

    8) Star Trek day! Star Trek TOS reruns, like Doctor Who reruns, was some of the earliest SF I consumed.

  2. 2) Without a map, it’s hard to argue that the author made an error and Cat and Tyrion could not possibly have gotten to the inn at the same time. And it makes writing consistent fan fiction also more difficult. Readers of epic fantasy are often looking for a world they can immerse themselves in, not just a story. I wouldn’t expect a map when reading a mystery eg, but for his kind of books, I would like one.

  3. My AI prof in 1986 tried to convince us that it would be happening real soon now – while we wrote our Lisp homework on paper because none of the computers supported it.

    Still not convinced.

    You don’t have to publish a map, but it’s still a good thing to have around for reference. Just ask any Chicagoans who have read the Dresden books.

  4. A few years before that, I was trying to get LISP programs to work on one of the school computers. (What I got out of that class was mostly how to count parens.)

  5. 15)
    Quote Peter Grant:

    Some have even refused to make their books available on streaming services such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.

    Self-published authors must be exclusive with Amazon in order for their books to be included in the Kindle Unlimited subscription service. So it’s not that authors are refusing to make their books available at Kindle Unlimited, but rather that they’re refusing not to make their books available at B&N, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, etc… as well as at other subscription services such as Scribd, Playster and 24symbols.

  6. @Ultragotha

    I am in one of those photos. On top of GRRM’s hat.

    Wut? Is GRRM taking fans and mounting them as trophies now? The fiend!

  7. Mark on September 9, 2017 at 12:16 am said:

    Wut? Is GRRM taking fans and mounting them as trophies now? The fiend!

    Now? Where have you been?

  8. 2) I like maps, but I don’t regard them as essential – at least, for the readers. I think the author should have all the locations firmly placed somewhere, even if it’s only on the inside of their head. But, so long as they know where everything is, and are consistent about it, that’s fine by me.

  9. 2) I’m with Mark Lawrence here. When a book has a map, I mostly do not do any more than glance at it as I flip past it to get to the text. As Steve Wright (no relation) says, as long as the author is consistent within the text and reasonably descriptive, I can imagine the geography just fine.

    I can forgive some geography issues if the plotting and characterization are well done. But if they aren’t, no amount of meticulous mapping and geographic / locational description will redeem a book for me.

  10. Ah, the trick to parens is to line the closing ones up under their match if they don’t close on the same line. Best I can do with a non-monospaced font:

    I’m more likely to look at a map in a paper book – 144 pixels is enough to make text readable, but it still doesn’t work too well for maps. e-readers really need to allow zooming on images. Plus you can’t just stick a finger in the ebook and flip back to it as needed – if the Kindle app has a bookmark I’ve yet to trip over it.

  11. Count me as part of the “maps are pretty but not essential” crowd, as well as seconding Cora’s point that indie enrollment in KU requires exclusivity. Multiple ebook stores and streaming platforms exist; when possible, it is unwise to rely completely on a single retailer… no matter how big they are. Monopolies are a fast ticket to bad deals.

    Finished watching Game of Thrones a few hours ago, and I have decided to henceforth refer to the series as Medieval Zombies On Ice (MZOI). I think they need to give Roger Waters a cameo next season, as the Wall could certainly use a lot more bricks. I also hope James O’Barr got paid for the story of a black-clad “crow” getting killed, coming back to life, and getting justice by slaying his killers.

    Speaking of MZOI, I think it’s worth mentioning that if the books are anywhere close to being as explicit as the show, they would be unpublishable as indie fiction – due to the terms of service of the biggest platforms. Detailed depictions of incestuous, nonconsensual, and/or underage sex acts are strictly forbidden, and MZOI has all three in copious quantities. (See the proliferation of “pseudoincest” stories – change the partner from a blood relative to a step-relation and you’re on the right side of the Terms.) I’m curious as to how the “down with tradpub” fanatics feel about that little detail…

  12. 17) Got your reference to “The Martian Hop,” a great doo-wop record by the Ran-Dells, their only recording as far as I can determine. They may or may not have been a real group, and I’ve heard that studio production on this one track rivaled “Good Vibrations.”

  13. I’m a part of the maps-are-necessary-for-some-books-but-not-for-others crowd. In the same way as it is necessary for some books with too many characters in to keep a list, so you can lookup who the hell that was, the same with some books where you are supposed to remember a lot of places.

    With too many geographical descriptions I tend to skip then, only to curse later when I can’t make sense of what everyone are talking about or when I can’t understand why a character is heading in that direction. Or why they can suddenly bump into someone I thought was on the other end of the continent.

    Maps can sometimes save a book from being closed with a sigh and placed at the roots of Mount Tsundoku.

  14. That patch: Of course, R2-D2’s rockets were on the sides of his “legs” (when extended), not in the center of his “body.” That patch shows R2-D2 farting.

  15. @Rev. Bob
    I’m not sure about the puppies, but a lot of indie authors are well aware that books like A Song of Ice and Fire would not be publishable, if traditional publishers had to adhere to the same guidelines as indies. Ditto for incest heavy literary classics such as Waelsungenblut or Homo Faber, both of which are on highschool reading lists in Germany.

  16. The Martian Hop lyrics:

    We have just discovered an important note from space
    The Martians plan to throw a dance for all the human race
    Papa ooh mir mir papa ooh mir mir papa ooh mir mir papa ooh mir mir
    Ee-ee-ee ee-ee
    I got into my rocket ship to see the Martian Hop
    I saw the planet shining red so there I made my stop
    But as I opened up the door and climbed the ladder down
    I saw the Martians on the floor a-dancin’ to this sound
    Ee-ee-ee ee-ee the Martian Hop ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee

    I saw I was the first one there and so I was surprised
    To see the Martians twist and stomp before my very eyes
    They did the locomotion and the hully-gully too
    I couldn’t name a single dance the Martians couldn’t do
    Ee-ee-ee ee-ee the Martian Hop ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee

    Now right around the stroke of twelve the dance had just begun
    The Earth kids parked their spaceship down on Mars to have some fun
    And so I left my friends, the Martians, stomping on the ground
    And even though I’m back on earth I still can hear this sound.
    Ee-ee-ee ee-ee the Martian Hop ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee

    @Jamoche…ahhh yes, indenting parens

  17. The Ran-Dells were a real group. They released two follow-ups to “Martian Hop” (“Sound of the Sun” and “Beyond the Stars”) but neither charted. Not sure how innovative the sessions were but the opening sine-wave generator bit was an uncredited sample from Dutch musique concrète outfit The Electrosoniks’ “Moon Maid” released a year earlier which did heavily use electronic instruments, resampling and tape-cutting techniques Brian Wilson would later apply to “Good Vibrations”.

  18. I only look for a map when it feels like there’s an inconsistency in the text that stands out. But otherwise I don’t look at them ever, but for those that do it’s not like it hurts my reading if it’s there or not.

  19. bookworm1398 on September 8, 2017 at 6:56 pm said:
    2) Without a map, it’s hard to argue that the author made an error and Cat and Tyrion could not possibly have gotten to the inn at the same time. And it makes writing consistent fan fiction also more difficult.

    As a writer of fanfiction in a world with both inconsistent maps and no defined year, I will say it hasn’t slowed us down.

    This fictional world is in the early 19th century, so I try to be consistent with canon, and real world history regarding technology, but as far as physical geography goes, I simply publish my assumptions about the timeline, “In this headcanon, event A happened on date A, and x months have passed.” and handwave some distance things, “three days sailing from the capital”, and check how far a horse can reasonably be expected to travel in a day and you know what? So do all the other authors, and not much is consistent between us, and IT DOESN’T MATTER if the story and characterizations are good and suck the reader in.

    In all the reviews I’ve gotten, no one, NOT ONE, made a comment on either my dating, or travel times, in the stories where it was relevant.

    In ‘real’ fiction, (i.e. stuff that is published and I have to pay for) unless the author is REALLY sloppy, like having established that two points are 1,000 miles apart in a horse and buggy era, and then has the protagonist get there in 3 days on foot, a map isn’t something I care about.

    Actually, if an author, fanfiction or ‘real’, is that sloppy, it generally means the story will be sloppy or bad in other ways, too.

    YMMV, of course.

    [side comment: the reason I put ‘real’ in airquotes is because a lot of fanfiction is written better than a lot of stuff that gets published by the “Big 5”. So I am not going to denigrate fanfiction authors, even though I don’t claim to be really good at it.][Although my fans seem to like the stuff I write.]

    [SFNal reference: One of my favorite fanfictions stories is titled “Captain and Queen” by Elf Sternberg, a crossover between ‘Frozen’ and David Weber’s Honorverse. Excellent story all around, and perfect characterizations.]

  20. After the “worst movie”-discussion I thought, What is the worst sequel, independent of the medium?
    For me its Asterix and the falling sky. Whats yours?

  21. I think the roadblock to selling isn’t so much streaming. It’s the tsunami of complete crap Amazon has buried the world under. It’s kind of amusing watching the titles flailing around to show off their genre micro-niche. Another thing Amazon has brought us. Who knew how many people wanted to be taken by the billionaire alpha shifter?

  22. Jamoche on September 9, 2017 at 2:36 am said:

    Ah, the trick to parens is to line the closing ones up under their match if they don’t close on the same line.

    That would make many LISP files become insanely long.

    I just went to one of the many Emacs system subdirectories on my system. It contains 189 LISP files. I searched for instances of at least five closing parens in a row. Found over three thousand. Tried with eight, and still got over three hundred! Ten gave 75 hits. There were three lines with exactly fifteen closing parens in a row, and one that had even more (I lost interest in counting at that point). 🙂

    And that’s just in one medium-sized subdirectory of many in my Emacs installation. There’s a reason people sometimes claim that “LISP” stands for “Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses”. 😀

  23. Xtifr on September 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm said:
    It *is* really heavy on the parens.
    The trick I learned was to start at zero; every left paren is +1 and every right paren is -1. If you don’t have zero at the end, there’s at least one unmatched paren in there.

  24. Jamoche etc re maps in ebooks
    On a few occasions when I’ve decided that I want to follow along on the maps (e.g. Juliet McKenna’s Aldabreshin Compass series, set in an archipelago) I’ve saved the jpg externally from my reader app on my phone. Then I can switch between reader and map without worrying about bookmarks, and having better zoom controls than the reader app.

  25. Hmmmm … Was just checking the Kindle store and I see that now Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts’ Empire trilogy (Daughter of the Empire, etc.; the books set in the Kelewan empire that run approximately concurrently with the first Riftwar series) are now available. My relationship with Raymond Feist is … complicated, but the Empire books are first-rate, and I’m pretty strongly tempted …

  26. @PJ Evans: Emacs itself has all sorts of tricks to help you deal with parens, including: flashing the opening paren whenever you type a closing paren; allowing you to bounce between matching opening and closing parens with a single keystroke; and complaining loudly if you type a closing paren which doesn’t have a matching opening one.

    Since Emacs is (mostly) written in LISP, I believe these were some of the first features added, and quite possibly the main justification for creating it in the first place. 🙂

  27. Xtifr on September 9, 2017 at 2:38 pm said:
    I’ve met editors that put in both ends of a pair of parens/brackets/tags when you key in the first one. It’s handy.

  28. @Errolwi Or use an editor designed for use with Lisp. Preferably not emacs. Whose lisp isn’t really proper lisp anymore.

  29. Xtifr:

    Emacs itself has all sorts of tricks to help you deal with parens, including: flashing the opening paren whenever you type a closing paren.

    MATLAB uses tricks like that as well to help people with their parens.

    P.S. “Alien vs. Editor: ReScrollium”

  30. “That would make many LISP files become insanely long.”

    A line per set of matching closes isn’t any worse than the C style that puts every curly brace, open or close, on its own line, and more whitespace usually means more readable.

    But there is that old joke about the hackers who claimed to have broken into a government computer, and as proof they produced the last page of the code they found there: a full page of nothing but close-parens.

  31. @Jamoche: snap! (even if more abstruse than the chapter of Lord of Light hiding in some government document, as proof it was never read…).

  32. James Davis Nicoll: when I tried the link, I got “Your search did not match any products”.

    It still works for me. So I tried signing out, and then I got what you got. Try logging in to Amazon first, and then clicking the link.

    (If that still doesn’t work, it might be because you are in Canada.)

  33. I think Wells was groping for a prediction of shell shock, which wasn’t a recognized condition until the First World War, 20 years later. So it’s a tremendous prediction, which I think is underrated by critics.

    17 – Sorry, no. The same/similar condition was around in the American Civil War under another name (they called it Soldier’s Heart iirc). I’d consider it likely enough that Wells learned about it in the course of his research, but I wouldn’t call it a prediction.

  34. Tom Disch and John Sladek set their novel Black Alice in Baltimore, with no knowledge of the city, but a road map for reference. Anybody who didn’t know Baltimore could probably follow the story easily, but it really made my head hurt trying to picture what was going on where. It would have been kind of cool if they’d included a version of the map in the book.

  35. My favourite annoying map appears on the endpapers of Ngaio Marsh’s mystery novel Clutch of Constables, centred on a river cruise in some unspecified English countryside. There’s much early description of a clump of vast “power-houses” (I imagine them as cooling towers) which as the river winds appear on one side and then the other, and at one point very close indeed. Unfortunately this highly conspicuous feature isn’t on the map, and that easily identifiable stretch of the river isn’t shown as winding at all (though a later one is). And so on …

  36. @rochrist: While Emacs’s internal flavor of Lisp is not standard Lisp, Emacs has support for standard Lisp and related languages like Scheme and Guile. (And, of course, a wide variety of unrelated languages like C/C++, Java, Javascript, Perl, Python, Ruby, Fortran, Pascal, Lua, and dozens more.)

    @jamoche: “A line per set of matching closes isn’t any worse than the C style that puts every curly brace, open or close, on its own line”

    Except that Lisp uses parens for everything; it can use six sets of nested parens for something that only requires one or two sets of braces in C. A simple statement like “x = y + 3” becomes “(setq x (+ y 3))”. And if we had a multiply in there, it would require another set of parens…

    It’s a wonky language. Elegant once you figure it out, but seriously wonky.

  37. @Xtifr:

    It occurs to me that, were one to combine Lisp and Forth, both languages would have the normal amount of parentheses.

  38. Heh, you could try, but I’d be afraid that mixing Polish notation with Anti-Polish would cause some sort of gigantic explosion.

    Or you might just end up with Postscript; I’m not sure. 😀

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