Pixel Scroll 8/11/23 The Secret Diary Of Pixel Scroll, Aged Four And Five Fifths

(1) PUBLISHER STRUGGLES TO GET AMAZON TO LIST “JEWISH FUTURES” ANTHOLOGY. [Item by Michael A. Burstein.] Fantastic Books and I are having trouble getting Amazon to list the Jewish Futures: Science Fiction from the World’s Oldest Diaspora edited by Michael A. Burstein ebook on Amazon.

Fantastic Books publisher Ian Randal Strock told Facebook readers:

Amazon.com has decided to “block [the ebook version of Jewish Futures] from being sold on Amazon.” Apparently, the fact that Fantastic Books published the print version means that Fantastic Books submitting the ebook version to publish through them violates… something. I have no idea. So, if you use a Kindle ebook reader, and you’d like to read an electronic version of Jewish Futures, we recommend you buy it directly from Fantastic Books. Doing so will get you both the epub and the mobi versions of the book.

Amazon provides a number of ways to load your eBooks on to your Kindle. For instance, you can email it to your Kindle address. Click the link in the first comment for their email instructions, however the “Other Ways to Send” column on the right side of the Amazon page also shows you the other options available to you.

Also, they seem to have finally realized that the trade paperback version of the book is available.

Lezli Robyn amplified:

Amazon has decided to block the ebook edition of Jewish Futures from being published after multiple emails where the publisher, Ian Randal Strock, tried to find out why and how he can get the ebook listed on their website (the paper and hardback editions are up there!), and they said they will “uphold” their decision to block it from publication.

Ian will try to find out tomorrow why they made this decision and attempt get it reversed, but if there is ever a time to buy a book directly off of the publisher’s website to support them and their authors, this is it. So much blood, sweat, and tears go into publishing a new title and everyone in the book world knows how important sales numbers are in the first week!

I’ve even emailed Amazon’s CEO but haven’t heard anything. We’ve had to remind people they can buy the ebook from the publisher directly or from Barnes & Noble.  

We’ve also heard that Amazon has delayed getting the print books shipped out, even though the week before it was #1 in a few pre-order categories.

Here is the anthology’s Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Jack Dann
  • Shema by Samantha Katz
  • Mission Divergence by E.M. Ben Shaul
  • Rachel Nussbaum Saves the World by Esther Friesner
  • One Must Imagine by Harry Turtledove
  • Into Thin Heirs by Susan Shwartz
  • Proof of Alina by Riv Begun
  • Baby Golem by Barbara Krasnoff
  • Frummer House by Leah Cypess
  • Moon Melody by SM Rosenberg
  • Initial Engagement by Steven H Silver
  • Matzah Ball Soup for the Vershluggin Soul by Randee Dawn
  • The Ascent by S.I. Rosenbaum and Abraham Josephine Reisman
  • The Aliens of Chelm by Valerie Estelle Frankel
  • The Kuiper Gemara by Shane Tourtellotte
  • Legend Born by Robert Greenberger
  • The Last Chosen by Jordan King-Lacroix

If anyone is in Boston on August 23, we are having a book event at Brookline Booksmith with the editor, publisher, cover artist Eli Portman and three writers, E.M. Ben Shaul, S.I. Rosenbaum, Abraham Josephine Riesman.

(2) SHERIDAN AND DELENN. “Warner Bros. Releases New ‘Babylon 5: The Road Home’ Clip”Animation World Network has the story.

…In anticipation of the all-new original animated movie, a never-before-seen clip from the film, “Standing In The Shadows” has just been released! In the clip, John Sheridan (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner) expresses his second thoughts about leaving Babylon 5 to his wife, Delenn (voiced by Rebecca Reidy)….

(3) PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO COURT IN SUIT AGAINST INTERNET ARCHIVE. “Copyright: Publishers, Internet Archive File Court Proposal” at Publishing Perspectives. “A proposed judgment bars Internet Archive from of offering ‘unauthorized copies’ of book publishers’ copyrighted content inside and outside the United States.” There’s also an unspecified payment involved.

This afternoon (August 11), the Association of American Publishers is confirming to Publishing Perspectives that the publisher-plaintiffs in the June 2020 lawsuit of the Internet Archive have submitted to the US District Court in the Southern District of New York a joint, negotiated proposal for Judge Koeltl’s consideration.

As our readers will remember, the plaintiffs—Hachette Book Group; HarperCollins Publishers; John Wiley & Sons; and Penguin Random House—received on March 24 an adamant ruling against the Internet Archive for its “Open Library” lending activities. In that ruling, the court deemed Internet Archive as liable for copyright infringement.

Today’s proposed consent judgment provides for a “stipulated permanent injunction,” according to the AAP’s media messaging, “preventing Internet Archive from offering unauthorized copies of the plaintiffs’ books to the global public under the manufactured theory of ‘controlled digital lending,’ and indicates that the parties have reached a confidential agreement on a monetary payment, all subject to Internet Archive’s right to appeal the case.”…

(4) ZOOM CHANGES ITS MIND. According to Gizmodo, “Zoom Backtracks on Training Its AI on Your Calls”.

After massive backlash over its wishy-washy communication regarding training artificial intelligence with customer data, Zoom wants to set the record straight. Today, Zoom issued an update to its previous announcement on its plans for AI to formally claim that the company will not use audio, video, chat, or similar data to train its AI models.

Zoom issued the update today to its original blog post, published earlier this week by Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim. Zoom’s terms of service stated that the company could use Customer Content—which is what Zoom calls audio, video, chat, attachments, screen-sharing, etc.—to train its own in-house or third-party AI models. On Monday, however, the blog post from Hashim promised that Zoom wouldn’t use Customer Content to train AI (except in some cases). Today, the company has updated Section 10 of its terms of service to no longer retain the legal right to use Customer Content to train any AI models. Zoom did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on what data sources these AI features will, in fact, be trained with…..

Here’s the opening paragraph of the Zoom Blog’s post “How Zoom’s terms of service and practices apply to AI features”.

It’s important to us at Zoom to empower our customers with innovative and secure communication solutions. We’ve updated our terms of service (in section 10) to further confirm that Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models. In addition, we have updated our in-product notices to reflect this.*

Zoom is still offering users access to a pair of AI features:

…two powerful generative AI features — Zoom IQ Meeting Summary and Zoom IQ Team Chat Compose — on a free trial basis to enhance your Zoom experience. These features offer automated meeting summaries and AI-powered chat composition. Zoom account owners and administrators control whether to enable these AI features for their accounts.

We inform you and your meeting participants when Zoom’s generative AI services are in use….

(5) I AM I SAID. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss looks into a service capitalizing on a topical concern in “Dear Author, Are You Human? Certifying Authenticity”.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that where there is an issue of concern for writers, someone will find a way to monetize it….

In this fraught environment, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with the idea of a service to certify or authenticate human authorship, and invite creators buy into it. This post takes a look at two such services.

The Authenticity Initiative

The originator of The Authenticity Initiative is Eliza Rae, who also offers social media, brand management, and PR services for authors. The Authenticity Initiative provides a seal to authors who pledge not to use AI-generated content in their work, along with a number of additional perks, including a newsletter and promotional opportunities. The cost: $50 per year.

Of course, as illustrated by the Bob the Wizard kerfluffle (in which a cover artist who swore their art was not AI-assisted turned out to be fibbing) as well as a general knowledge of human nature, the question is the degree to which a voluntary promise is actually equivalent to certification. I reached out to Eliza for comment, and you can see her response to that question in the Q&A below.

WRITER BEWARE: The Authenticity Initiative seems to rely on authors to self-certify that their work contains no AI-generated content. Do you have any concern that some authors may not be honest?

ELIZA RAE: Yes, that’s exactly correct. While technology and laws that govern AI are limited, we decided that a trust based platform for authors and readers to come together was the best way to service this aspect of the community until more legislation and/or publishing platforms have caught up to technology issues and the pitfalls of what is and is not considered legal to scrape or use to train generative AI software….

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. StarShipSofa’s Tony C. Smith made an announcement to the District of Wonders email list.

…Some of you might know, some maybe not but I thought it only best to let you all know.

I have cancer (that feels so horrid to write). Bladder cancer.

As you can imagine this came as one f–king huge shock. Then it was discovered there might have been something on my lung… thank god… that was not the case… so just bladder cancer.

I go into hospital on the 15th August to have my bladder removed and from then on I’m on a bag. Total lifestyle chance but hopefully one I can put behind me and move on when it’s done.

One neat SF thing, the operation will be done by robot – the future is here!

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on Fettuccine Alfredo with Howard Bender on Episode 204 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Howard Bender

Eating the Fantastic moves on to Pittsburgh for the first of three episodes harvested due to this year’s StokerCon taking place in that city. My conversation this time around didn’t take place because of that main event, though, but only because I remembered my guest happens to live in Pittsburgh, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reminisce with him about the old days.

I met Howard Bender 49 years ago, the year we both began working in the Marvel Comics Bullpen. He worked as a letterer and artist in the Marvel Comics production department from 1974–1980, and then moved on to DC Comics in the same role, where he worked from 1981–1985. He’s drawn Superman stories in Action Comics, Dial H for Hero stories published in The New Adventures of Superboy, Ghostbusters for First Comics, and a variety of series for Archie Comics. He also collaborated with Jack C. Harris on a Sherlock Holmes comic strip in the ‘90s. These days, he can be found at markets and fairs all across Pittsburgh working as a caricature artist.

We discussed how desperate Marvel Comics must have been to have hired young kids like us, his role in founding the Pittsburgh Comics Club (and the way he paid homage to that club down the road in Dial H for Hero), the day he showed Stan Lee his art portfolio over dessert, how he started his career at Marvel using Jack Kirby’s taboret, the fact neither of us would have become who we turned out to be without Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, how terrified we both were of production manager John Verpoorten, our first meetings with the late, great Johnny Romita, the important life lesson he learned from inker Mike Esposito, what he was glad he remembered you shouldn’t talk about with Steve Ditko, how Marie Severin inspired him in his current career as a caricaturist,  and so much more.

(8) NYT SFF CRITIC. Amal El-Mohtar reviews “Witches, Robots and Martial Artists, Ready for Battle” — new books by Juno Dawson, Emma Mieko Candon and Alexander Darwin — in the New York Times.

(9) BSFS BEAUTIFUL. Congratulations to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society on their revived clubhouse space. (By gosh, there’s a Dalek on the balcony!) See the photos at Facebook.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack BinderThrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1923 Ben P. Indick. A member of First Fandom and prolific fanzine publisher. He wrote a handful of short genre fiction and two serious non-fiction works, The Drama of Ray Bradbury and George Alec Effinger: From Entropy to Budayeen. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 11, 1928 Alan E. Nourse, 1928 – 1992. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann.  His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester  Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid, like all of these novels. is available from all the usual suspects. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1949 Nate Bucklin, 74. Musician who has co-written songs with Stephen Brust and others. He wrote two Liavek anthology stories, “Dry Well” and “Strings Attached” He’s a founding member of the Scribblies, the Minneapolis writer’s group, and is also one of the founding members of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society, better known as Minn-stf. He spent four years as a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation or N3F, and his correspondents included Greg Shaw, Walter Breen, and Piers Anthony. He’s been a filk guest of honor at five cons.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 61. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GENERALIZATION ALERT. BookRiot’s Alice Nuttall asks, “Science Fiction Is Inherently Rebellious — So Why Don’t Some of Its Fans Think So?”

My husband and I are currently watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, me for the first time, him for about the billionth. After watching one episode where religious fundamentalists insist that the space station’s school teach their holy stories instead of scientific fact, and bomb the school when the teacher doesn’t agree, my husband leaned over to me and commented “But you know, Star Trek was never political.”

“[Sci fi story] was never political” is a running joke of ours, usually said with an eye roll and a bitter laugh at the complaint du jour about sci-fi stories that dare to centre anyone who isn’t a white, cishet man. Sci-fi has been decried as “political” for telling stories about people of colour or women (and predictably, some of the worst backlashes have come when a central character happens to be a woman of colour). Stories have been panned or banned for including LGBTQ+ people and relationships.

Writers who share the marginalisations of their characters are at the greatest risk of being harassed and attacked for daring to publish in a space that reactionary gatekeepers see as “theirs”. The ‘Sad Puppies’ campaign was a coordinated attempt by right-wing, “anti-diversity” pundits to influence the results of the Hugo Awards and push works by authors of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ people to the sidelines. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful — and not only because it was a clumsy, transparent attempt at attacking diversity. The fact is that sci-fi has never been a white, cishet, male, or conservative domain. It has always been a space for subversion, radical thinking, and rebelliousness — and marginalised people have been there from the beginning….

(13) PUMP BROTHERS, PUMP WITH CARE. This idea sucks, but does that mean it’s actually no good? “U.S. to Fund a $1.2 Billion Effort to Vacuum Greenhouse Gases From the Sky” reports the New York Times.

The Biden administration will spend $1.2 billion to help build the nation’s first two commercial-scale plants to vacuum carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere, a nascent technology that some scientists say could be a breakthrough in the fight against global warming, but that others fear is an extravagant boondoggle.

Jennifer Granholm, the energy secretary, announced Friday that her agency would fund two pilot projects that would deploy the disputed technology, known as direct air capture.

Occidental Petroleum will build one of the plants in Kleberg County, Texas, and Battelle, a nonprofit research organization, will build the other in Calcasieu Parish on the Louisiana coast. The federal government and the companies will equally split the cost of building the facilities.

“These projects are going to help us prove out the potential of these next-generation technologies so that we can add them to our climate crisis fighting arsenal, and one of those technologies includes direct air capture, which is essentially giant vacuums that can suck decades of old carbon pollution straight out of the sky,” Ms. Granholm said on a telephone call with reporters on Thursday.

The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law included $3.5 billion to fund the construction of four commercial-scale direct air capture plants. Friday’s announcement covered the first two.

Oil and gas companies lobbied for the direct air capture money to be included in the law, arguing that the world could continue to burn fossil fuels if it had a way to clean up their planet-warming pollution….

(14) CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CLUCKY KIND. What does that mean? You’ll understand after you see the video of this unidentified flying coop on Tumblr.

(15) MAN OF A THOUSAND FLAVORS. Here’s another exotic collectible, the Chaney Entertainment Hot Sauce 5-Pack from Jade City Foods.

Here’s a close-up of one of the labels.

(16) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. “’Futurama’ meets ‘Dune’ in action-packed, exclusive clip” at Mashable.

The beloved sci-fi comedy Futurama is no stranger to Frank Herbert’s Dune, featuring nods to stillsuits and space worms. But with its newly launched 11th seasonFuturama takes its Dune tributes to a whole new level.

In an exclusive clip from the upcoming episode “Parasites Regained” (a spiritual sequel to Season 3’s “Parasites Lost,” perhaps?), we see Fry, Leela, Zoidberg, and Bender struggling to brave a mysterious desert landscape. There, they encounter a fearsome sandworm that looks like an oranger, fuzzier version of the show-stealing sandworms of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. We also get Futurama‘s version of the powerful spice melange, a psychedelic drug that turns Leela’s eyes orange instead of Dune‘s classic blue-within-blue….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Kathy Sullivan, Nickpheas, Michael A. Burstein, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/25/16 Phantom MacSpaceface O’Trollington

(1) SOLID NUMBERS. “So How Many Books Do You Sell?” is the question. Kameron Hurley dares to answer.

It’s the question every writer dreads: “How many books have you sold? ”

It’s a tricky question because for 99% of the year, those with traditionally published books honestly have very little idea. But two times a year – in the spring and in the fall – we receive royalty statements from publishers, which give a sometimes cryptic breakdown of what has sold where. So for those keeping track here with my “Honest Publishing Numbers” posts, here’s an update.

(2) HAND JIVE. Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration Honors Leonard Nimoy’s Artwork”.

More than 50 pieces will be featured during a 50th-anniversary Star Trek art exhibit honoring a half-century of exploring the final frontier. That includes the final piece of art created by original series star, the late Leonard Nimoy.

The event, which San Diego Comic-Con attendees will arrive just in time for, opens on July 21 at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts in San Diego, CA. It will then travel to Las Vegas, Toronto, and the UK.

The official Star Trek site is rolling out all the pieces bit by bit, but the artistic work of the beloved Nimoy was one of the first released. The piece, which depicts multiple images of Nimoy’s hand giving the “Live Long and Prosper” salute, was created for the Star Trek Art Exhibit.

The red, yellow and blue motif is a nod to the uniform colors worn by the Star Trek cast of characters in the original show.

(3) LISTEN UP. In “These hearing aids aren’t just for show A.k.a. This message speaks volumes”, Swedish fan Feeejay describes how her being hard of hearing impacted her experiences at the 2014 Swecon, her coping strategies, and how we can assist them.

What can you do to help? In social situations:

Face me when talking.
Repeat or double check that I’ve got the important information.
Help me sit in the center so I can hear everyone.
Speak clearly, and if I ask you to repeat yourself, try to raise your voice just a tad, but mostly speak slower and more clearly.
If you have a induction loop in a facility, use it.
Microphones should always be used, and if an audience microphone is available, use it too.
Alternatively, have the moderator repeat the questions.

When I’m at conventions, I always sit in the front row. If I’m in a panel I prefer to sit in the middle. This is what works for me — if you don’t know what works for someone else, try asking!

And how did it go at the Steampunkfestival?

Some panels went just fine, if I was placed in the center and didn’t get an audience question. Some panels worked less fine if the moderator forgot to repeat the audience question before someone answered it.

In one panel, I got an audience question and waited for the moderator to repeat it. My silence was interpreted as confusion or not having a good answer, so other panel members answered instead, while I looked like a question mark. I felt really stupid.

(4) THE MAGIC NUMBER FIVE. Lavie Tidhar, interviewed by Shelf Awareness, is asked a numerical question.

Your top five authors:

The writers who most influenced me (for good or bad) are probably Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler, Cordwainer Smith (the pen name of Paul Linebarger, who was an intelligence specialist and the godson of Sun Yat-sen and wrote the most extraordinary and peculiar science fiction stories). Tim Powers–I still remember discovering him for the first time and being so blown away. T.S. Eliot.

It’s a sort of Hardboiled Five, isn’t it? It’s more a list of people who directly influenced my writing in some way than anything else.

(5) READ COATES. Rachel Swirsky makes a “Favorite Fiction Recommendation: ‘Magic in a Certain Slant of Light’”

I met Deborah Coates when I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa. She and I were in a writers group together with a lot of other people. We called it Dragons of the Corn.

Deb writes beautiful magical realism, fantasy and science fiction. At one point, she was tossing around the term “rural fantasy.” Her prose is lovely, and the moods she creates are delicate and pervasive.

“Magic in a Certain Slant of Light” is one of my favorites of her short stories….

(6) HAMNER. Earl Hamner, Jr.’s family thanked everyone for their condolences on Facebook, and at the post provides addresses of charitable institutions he supported.

We have been asked about a memorial or service and all I can tell you at this time is that Dad was emphatically opposed to the idea. He even made my mother promise him not to even consider the idea! So, we are respecting his wishes, but at the same time trying to imagine a way to remember him that he would like. (I.e., we all meet at the James River in Virgina and go fishing and drink a lot of Jack Daniels.) In the meantime, if you feel you need to do something to honor him, you will find below a list of organizations that Dad supported. A charitable gift in his memory would make him proud.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 25, 1956 — Lon Chaney stars as “Butcher” Benton, The Indestructible Man.

(8) RED MARS HITS RED LIGHT. Deadline reports “Spike TV ‘Red Mars’ Series On Pause After Showrunner Exits”.

Spike TV has pushed the pause button on Red Mars, its 10-episode straight-to-series drama adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s best-selling “hard” science-fiction trilogy. The move comes as executive producer/showrunner Peter Noah has exited the project, produced by Skydance TV.

…. I hear Straczynski, who had written the pilot script out of his passion for the books, had the option to stay on as showrunner or leave and keep an executive producer credit. The writer, who had been busy in features and TV, opted for the latter, and Noah came in as showrunner. He has now departed too over what I heard were creative differences with Spike.

(9) THE MESSAGE. Chris Van Trump is “Back In The Sad-dle Again” at Shambling Towards Bethlehem.

…What bothers me about the whole Sad Puppies situation is how often the existence of talent in the opposition has been denied, by both sides in this small battlefield of the culture war. Obviously that was Correia’s point in kicking off the whole affair; to expose what he considered to be ideological filtering in the Hugo nomination and voting process.

Personally, I think he was right. Not because of some grand cabal of liberal hypocrites willing to trash good authors on the grounds of political dissent, but because communities develop specific cultures, and those cultures create preferences.

And WorldCon has its own subculture, and as a result its own preferences, and those preferences lean towards the kind of pretentious twaddle that bores me to tears. But hey, it has the right messages, and that’s what’s important.

Or is it?

You see, there’s something that bothers me more than the denial of talent on the grounds of ideology, and that is the degradation of talent in the service of ideology.

One of the problems you run into, and this is something I’ve seen in other mediums as well, is that when you place the perceived political and social value of a work over its artistic value when determining merit, you get, well, precisely what you deserve. Passive, politically-correct-for-your-critical-lens pablum. A checklist of boxes to be marked off, with the expectation of accolades if enough boxes are checked.

You get boring message fiction. Or games. Or art of any kind….

(10) ON THE DOGS. Lela E. Buis, in “Discrimination against the Puppies?”, applies the thoughts from her recent posts about multiculturalism to the Puppy dilemma.

But, is Kate Paulk telling it straight? I don’t quite think so. Unfortunately I’m not going to have time to read the whole list of recommendations before the award nominations are due, but I have worked through the short stories and some of the related works. I can’t speak for the novels, but much of what I’ve read are not neutral recommendations. If you’re keeping up with my reviews, these works are slanted to present the Puppies side of the recent conflict. That means they are written by SJW’s on the Puppy side.

Who’s right? I suspect the SFF community needs to consider the Puppies’ point of view. If you’re reading along on my social commentary, you’ll note that the 50-year era of multiculturalism has closed, and we are now entering a period where community is becoming more important. This means the actions of divisive activists will be less well received than in the past—on all sides. I know people like to fan the flames, but wouldn’t community building be time better spent?

(11) PERFECTION. Sarah A. Hoyt begins “Perfectly Logical” with an epic autobiographical introduction to justify her view about why people asked off the Sad Puppies 4 List.

….It wasn’t a stupid fear.  It was real.  Even though writers can’t control who reads them and likes them, if you’re liked by the “far right” you must be using “dog whistles” — and thus the blacklisting starts.

So those people asking to be removed from the Hugo recommendations which were made by fan vote?  Perfectly logical.  Getting tainted by association is a thing in their circles.

The people proclaiming that we: Larry, Brad, myself, John C. Wright, I don’t know if they were stupid enough to include Kevin J. Anderson and Butcher in that, but definitely everyone else in the list, had “ruined their careers” are right.  For their world and their definition of career.  None of the big four will ever publish us again, except Baen.

They are stuck in the old push-model days in their head.  They think that everyone down the chain will now boycott us.  And they want to make d*mn sure it doesn’t splash on them.

Meanwhile we’re living in a different world.  We’ve tried indie, and it worked.  (Even though in my case it was just toe dipping.  More to come once internet is fixed and bedrooms, kitchen and office unpacked. (It’s all we’re unpacking in this house.)

We’re living in a world where we can be rude to whomever we please, love our fans whoever they are, and have our own opinions.  Because NYC publishing is NOT the boss of us….

(12) CASTING DUDES. “’Why Can’t We Have One White Superhero?’ Said No One Ever” is the topic today at Angry Asian Man.

Many of us who were following the casting of Marvel’s upcoming Iron Fist Netflix series were disappointed when news broke that some white dude named Finn Jones would play the title role of Danny Rand.

Inspired by this thoughtful plea by Keith Chow of The Nerds of Color, over the last two years a vocal fan movement had swelled and rallied around the possibility of an Asian American Iron Fist. While Danny Rand has traditionally been depicted as white in the comic books, there is no legitimate reason why he had to be played by a white actor. This could have been an interesting opportunity to cast an Asian American actor in the lead role, and complicate and reclaim some of the more problematic, orientalist elements of the character’s mythos.

It was a nice thought. But alas, Danny Rand will be white and it’s business as usual. Some people had some gripes about that. And of course, some people had gripes about the people with gripes.

Comic book creator Joshua Luna, best known for his work as a co-creator and writer of such books as Ultra, Girls and The Sword with his brother Jonathan Luna, recently posted a funny comic offering his take on the Iron Fist casting. Imagine, if you will, an alternate dimension…

(13) BEST SF TV. Adam Whitehead offers his list of the 20 Best SF TV shows of all time at The Wertzone.

In the grand tradition of Gratuitous Lists, here’s a look at the twenty Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time (that I can think of today). The list is in alphabetical order, not order of quality, nor is there a #1 choice as I’d probably have a totally different choice tomorrow. So rather than argue about arbritary placements on the list, you can instead yell at me at what got left off.

In case you’re wondering, the list contains only overtly science fictional TV shows. No fantasy (that’d be another, different list) and no anime, as I’m not well-enough versed in the field. After some debate, also no superhero stuff as the SF credentials of those shows can vary wildly and there’s enough of them now to make for another list.

(14) LEGO ACTORS. The LEGO Batman Movie – Batcave Teaser Trailer.

(15) DO YOUR DAMN DUTY. The Onion has a jaded view of the Batman v Superman experience:

Promising that it would be best to just buy a ticket and take care of the unpleasantness right away, a new Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice promotional campaign launched this week reportedly urged filmgoers to simply get this whole thing over with. “Listen, you all knew this day was coming, so just go sit your ass in the theater, stare up at the IMAX screen for a couple hours, and be done with this shit once and for all,” said Warner Brothers marketing strategist Elizabeth Harris, who encouraged fans to make plans with friends right now so they could all bite the fucking bullet over opening weekend.

(16) PRE-SUMMER HUMMER. No matter what you may have heard about the movie, Deadline says Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice set the cash registers spinning.

East coast registers are winding down and Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still on track to be the biggest pre-summer opening day with $80.5M (beating Furious 7‘s $67.4M) and weekend with $169.5M (outstripping The Hunger Games $152.5M) at 4,242 theaters. In sum, this is $20M better than where the industry originally estimated the film to be.

(17) THEME SONG. Darren Garrison’s salute to the late Garry Shandling takes a peculiar turn:

This is the theme to Glyer’s blog,
The theme to Glyer’s blog.
Glyer tweeted me and asked if I would write his theme song.
I’m almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far?
How do you like the theme to Glyer’s blog?

This is the theme to Glyer’s blog,
The opening theme to Glyer’s blog.
This is the music that you hear as you read the comments.
We’re almost to the part of where he starts to Pixel Scroll.
Then we’ll read Michael Glyer’s blog.

This was the theme to Michael Glyer’s blog.

For those scratching their heads (starting around 30 seconds in):

(18) FLAME ON. Stoic Cynic rocked this verse.

With apologies to BOC:

You see me now a veteran
Of a thousand Usenet wars
I’ve been living on the edge so long
Where the posts of flaming roar

And I’m young enough to look at
And far too old to see
All the scars are on the inside
I’m not sure if there’s candy left in me…

[Thanks to Karl-Johan Norén, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 11/27 The Pixel Scrolled Back from Nothing at All

I’m off to Loscon for the day — so a very early Scroll.

(1) ARTISTS AND NEW WFA. Several tweets of interest about the call for submissions of World Fantasy Award designs.

The first three of nine tweets by John Picacio responding to discussion of his blog post “Artists Beware”.

(2) FAN CRITICS OF TOLKIEN. Robin Anne Reid’s “The question of Tolkien Criticism” answers Norbert Schürer’s “Tolkien Criticism Today” (LA Review of Books).

Fans can and do write critical commentary of Tolkien’s work, and not all critics/academics distance ourselves from being fans, a distancing stance that was perhaps once required to support the myth of academic objectivity. I suspect, given Schürer’s commentary on Tolkien’s work and style as well as his conclusion, that he would not identify as a fan. But his idea that the primary audience for Tolkien scholars is only fans (instead of other Tolkien scholars) strikes me as bizarre as does the idea that fan demands would affect what a critic would say:

Just as importantly, Tolkien should not be treated with kid gloves because he is a fan favorite with legions to be placated, but as the serious and major author he is (para.22).

Since the quote above is Schürer’s conclusion, he provides no evidence for this claim that critics treat Tolkien “with kid gloves” for fear of these legions of fans.

(3) REACHER. Andy Martin observed Lee Child writing the Jack Reacher novel Make Me from start to finish. Martin, a University of Cambridge lecturer, and the author have a dialog in about their experience in “The Professor on Lee Child’s Shoulder” at the New York  Times Sunday Review.

MARTIN I was sitting about two yards behind you while you tapped away. Trying to keep quiet. I could actually make out a few of the words. “Nothingness” I remember for some obscure reason. And “waterbed.” And then I kept asking questions. I couldn’t help myself. How? Why? What the…? Oh surely not! A lot of people thought I would destroy the book.

CHILD Here is the fundamental reality about the writing business. It’s lonely. You spend all your time writing and then wondering whether what you just wrote is any good. You gave me instant feedback. If I write a nicely balanced four-word sentence with good rhythm and cadence, most critics will skip right over it. You not only notice it, you go and write a couple of chapters about it. I liked the chance to discuss stuff that most people never think about. It’s weird and picayune, but obviously of burning interest to me.

MARTIN And the way you care about commas — almost Flaubertian! I tried to be a kind of white-coated detached observer. But every observer impinges on the thing he is observing. Which would be you in this case. And I noticed that everything around you gets into your texts. You are an opportunistic writer. For example, one day the maid was bumping around in the kitchen and in the next line you used the word “bucket.” Another time there was some construction work going on nearby and the next verb you used was “nail.” We go to a bookstore and suddenly there is Reacher, in a bookstore.

(4) ACCESSIBLE CONS. Rose Lemberg adopts a unified approach to “#accessiblecons and Geek Social Fallacies”.

“Geek Social Fallacies” are in themselves a fallacy. There are many people – not just the disabled -pushed away from fandom.

It’s not expensive to get a ramp in the US with pre-planning. Most hotels have them ready because they are ADA-compliant. If you invite a person in a wheelchair to speak at a con, and there is no ramp, you ostracized them. Own it.

It’s not because it’s too difficult, too expensive, it’s not because the fan did not ask nicely or loudly or politely enough. It’s because you did NOT accept them as they are. It’s because you ostracized them. Will you own it?

Year after year, I see defensiveness. I see the same arguments repeat. It’s too pricey. It’s the disabled person’s fault. Where are our Geek Social Fallacies when it comes to access? Can we as a community stop ostracizing disabled fans already?

(5) LON CHANEY. Not As A Stranger (1955) will air on Turner Classic Movies this Thursday December 3 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern; Lon Chaney cast as Job Marsh, father of Robert Mitchum, a moving portrayal that ranks among his very best.

(6) SF SCREENPLAYS. Nick Ransome, “Writing Science Fiction Screenplays” at Industrial Scripts.

Sci-Fi is the only genre, apart from the Western, still to resist the post-modern impulse. This could be due to the fact that Sci-Fi is not a genre at all, but the actual reason that Sci-Fi so completely resists the post-modern relativity of time and meaning is because that is what it was always about in the first place. There are no realities or meanings more relative than those revealed by Science Fiction.

In its purest form, the Sci-Fi narrative presents a polarity of moral choices and asks the most difficult of existential questions. This polarity is encapsulated by the utopian (ordered, no conflict, boring) and the dystopian (messy, intriguing, human).

LOGAN’S RUN is the best example in terms of story theory because although the action begins in a utopia, we soon realise that in fact we are in a dystopian nightmare (the Act One reversal). Films like BRAZIL, DARK CITY and THE MATRIX may start with a semblance of reality (the world as you just about know it) but then fairly swiftly make us aware that we are actually in a version of hell (or rather an allegory of the world as it really is).

(7) CIXIN LIU. A Cixin Liu interview about “The future of Chinese sci-fi” at Global Times was posted August 30, however, I believe this is the first time it’s been linked here.

GT: Some Chinese fans have said they want to band together to vote on the World Science Fiction website next year. What’s your opinion on this? Liu: That’s the best way to destroy The Three-Body Trilogy. And not just this sci-fi work, but also the reputation of Chinese sci-fi fans. The entire number of voters for the Hugo Awards is only around 5,000. That means it is easily influenced by malicious voting. Organizing 2,000 people to each spend $14 is not hard, but I am strongly against such misbehavior. If that really does happen, I will follow the example of Marko Kloos, who withdrew from the shortlist after discovering the “Rabid Puppies” had asked voters to support him.

GT: Many fans believe that even if The Three-Body Problem had benefited from the “puppies,” it still was deserving of a Hugo Award. Do you agree? Liu: Deserving is one thing, getting the award is another thing. Many votes went to The Three-Body Problem after Marko Kloos withdrew. That’s something I didn’t want to see. But The Three-Body Problem still would have had a chance to win by a slim margin of a few votes [without the “puppies”]. After the awards, some critics used this – the support right-wing organizations like the “puppies” gave The Three-Body Problem – as an excuse to criticize the win. That frustrated me. The “puppies” severely harmed the credibility of the Hugo Awards. I feel both happy and “unfortunate” to have won this year. The second volume was translated by an American translator, while the first and third were translated by Liu Yukun (Ken Liu). Most Chinese readers think the second and the third books are better than the first, but American readers won’t necessarily feel the same way. So I’m not sure about the Hugo Awards next year. I’m just going to take things in stride.

GT: It’s not easy for foreign literature to break into the English language market. What do you think of Liu Yukun’s translation? Liu: Although only my name is on the trophy, it actually belongs to both myself and Liu Yukun. He gets half the credit. He has a profound mastery of both Oriental and Western literature. He is important to me and Chinese sci-fi. He has also introduced books from other countries to the West. A Japanese author once told me that the quality of Japanese sci-fi is much better than China’s, but its influence in the US is much weaker. That’s because they lack a bridge like Liu Yukun.

(8) RETRO COLLECTION. Bradley W. Schenck is pleased with the latest use of his Pulp-O-Mizer.

I ran across a post at File770.com featuring the third volume of a collection of stories eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards at next year’s Worldcon. The collection is an ongoing project by File770 user von Dimpleheimer.

Since the third volume is a big batch of stories by Henry Kuttner and Ray Cummings I followed the link and grabbed a copy, only to discover that von Dimpleheimer had made the eBook cover with my very own Pulp-O-Mizer. This put a smile all over my face. Like, actually, all over my face.

So I went back and downloaded the first two volumes and, sure enough, they had also been Pulp-O-Mized. This may be my very favorite use of the Pulp-O-Mizer to date.

(9) TEASER. A new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser was posted on Thanksgiving. I’m leery of viewing these TV spots because I’m already sold on the movie and don’t want to dilute the experience of watching it. YMMV.

The minute-long teaser, dubbed “All The Way,” debuted on Facebook, but will also appear as a TV spot. IT finds Andy Serkis’ Supreme Leader Snoke character telling Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, “Even you have never faced such a test.”

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

Saving Stage 28

The walls of Stage 28 at Universal Studios, constructed in 1924 for Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Sr., are still paneled with the recreation of the Paris Opera House auditorium made for that famous silent movie. But how much longer will they remain? Rumors say Stage 28 is slated for destruction and those who cherish Hollywood’s oldest surviving set have petitioned the White House to save it, asking that the place be given “the unique and staying distinction of National Historic Landmark Status.”

The petition was posted August 26 but at this writing has only 827 signatures.

How one of Phantom’s most dramatic scenes was engineered on Stage 28 is described at Silents Are Golden:

The chandelier, which the Phantom cuts loose upon the unsuspecting audience, was an exact replica of the one in the Paris opera house. Weighing in at 16,000 pounds and measuring 40 feet in diameter, the chandelier was an impressive sight and, no doubt, probably caused a few extras in the audience to question the strength of the chain holding it in place (the set could seat up to 3,000 extras). When it came to filming the crash of the great chandelier, Universal was obviously not thrilled with the prospect of letting a very expensive set decoration be destroyed, not to mention the potential hazard to the extras seated below. Cameraman Charles Van Enger solved the problem by having the chandelier lowered to just above the extras’ heads. When the cameras started cranking away, at a very slow speed, the chandelier was pulled back up to the ceiling. The shot was reversed in the developing lab so that when it was projected at the proper speed, the chandelier appeared to come crashing down upon the audience, yet the extras and the huge ornament emerged without a scratch!

Thestudiotour.com has an excellent photo gallery of Stage 28. Here is a good YouTube video of the interior.