Pixel Scroll 12/10 Plan Whine from Outer Space

(1) SPOILERS SPOIL. You know this. “Spoiler alert: Story spoilers can hurt entertainment” at EurekAlert.

While many rabid fans may have scratched their heads when a 2011 study showed that spoilers could improve story enjoyment, a recent experiment, conducted by researchers Benjamin Johnson (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Judith Rosenbaum (Albany State University), shows that narrative spoilers can ruin a story. Their findings show that spoilers reduce people’s entertainment experiences.

“Our study is the first to show that people’s widespread beliefs about spoilers being harmful are actually well-founded and not a myth,” says Johnson. Furthermore, in a follow-up study, Johnson and Rosenbaum found that the effects of spoilers are actually linked to people’s personality traits. Johnson: “While the worry and anger expressed by many media users about ‘spoilers’ in online discussions or reviews is not completely unfounded, fans should examine themselves before they get worked up about an unexpected spoiler.”

(2) DOCTOR VISITS HOSPITAL. Radio Times has a heartwarming video — “Peter Capaldi surprises young Doctor Who fan in hospital, stays in character the whole time”.

“There’s a new Doctor on the ward and it’s me…”



(3) SATURDAY SIGNING IN GLENDALE. Mystery and Imagination Bookshop‘s Christine Bell says “Call it a mini HORROR SLAM.” This Saturday at 2 p.m. in the store’s upstairs room, Peter Atkins and Dennis Etchison will read a couple of stories, talk about writing, take questions, and sign books.

Oh, the wonderfulness of being famous literary smart guys. Could this be the start of a new Saturday afternoon tradition? It’s all free and it won’t hurt a bit. After that it’ll still be daylight, so…Porto’s is just across the street! I mean, really, what more could you ask for? See you there?

The address is Mystery and Imagination & Bookfellows Bookshops at 238 N. Brand Blvd.

(4) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve Davidson has the latest installment of “Scide Splitters: 1941 Retro Hugo Eligible Novelettes” posted at Amazing Stories, which focuses on humorous stories such as “Butyl and the Breather” by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1940).

Although this story can be read as a stand-alone, it is a sequel to Sturgeon’s 1939 short, “Ether Breather,” and I do think it is more enjoyable if you read that one first.

Ted Hamilton, a writer and central character in the original story, still feels guilty that about telling the Ether Breather to stop messing up color television. It has been a year since the incident and the Breather has refused to respond to any attempts to contact it. Mr. Berbelot, perfume tycoon and television hobbyist, is still mad at Hamilton for exactly that incident and refuses to speak to him. But Hamilton has come up with an idea to get the Breather to respond and Berbelot reluctantly agrees to hear him out.

(5) BROOKS OBIT. Actor Martin E. Brooks died December 7 at the age of 90. Brooks played scientist Dr. Rudy Wells in two 1970s TV series, Six Million Dollar Man and its spinoff, The Bionic Woman.

His other genre work included episodes of The Wild Wild West (1967), Night Gallery (1971), Planet of the Apes (1974 – I’d managed to forget this was also a TV series), and Airwolf (1985).

He also was in the movies Colossus: The Forbin Project, T-Force, and TV’s Bionic Ever After?

While Brooks probably didn’t think he was ending his career at the time, IMDB shows his last role was symbolically the “Man thrown off the roof” in Street Gun (1996).

(6) A NOT-STUPID. Ethan Mills at Examined Worlds poses the philosophical question “Is Violence the Answer” in “Like Avatar, but Not Stupid: The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin”.

Okay, Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest is actually not that much like Avatar, but there are similarities.  Some militaristic Terrans come to steal resources from a forest planet inhabited by small, furry humanoids called Athsheans.  The Athsheans end up fighting the technologically superior but numerically inferior Terrans.  There’s a Terran anthropologist who comes to almost understand the Athsheans (but he doesn’t quite go full Avatar). One of the villages of the furry guerrillas fighting an imperial power is called Endtor.  Maybe George Lucas owes Le Guin some royalties, not just James Cameron. But as an American book published in 1972, the real background seems to be the war in Vietnam.

(7) BLOOM NOMINATED. Rachel Bloom is a Golden Globes nominee for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Ray Bradbury would be thrilled.

(8) THE XANATOS QUESTION. Larry Correia put his spin on last night’s game show reference to Puppygate:  “Sad Puppies: The Hugos Lost On Jeopardy”.

Some Puppy supporters didn’t like how it was phrased, with “scandal” having negative implications. Personally, I like it. Especially the part where they used “Rocked”. Damn right. Rocked you like a hurricane. The scandal was the part where the CHORFs ran a lying media smear campaign, and handed out wooden butt holes, while block voting No Award to keep out barbarian Wrongfans having Wrongfun.

(9) PUPPY TIME. And coincidentally, at Mad Genius Club Kate Paulk has declared “It’s Time”.

Because yes, it is time to start Sad Puppies 4 in Earnest. And Houston. And Philadelphia. And Back-o-Beyond. You get the idea.

Nominations will open in January 2016, and probably close in March (the closing date hasn’t been officially announced). I’m planning to have The List posted mid to late February (depending, as always, on just how feral my work schedule happens to be). Recommendations have been trickling in, but we need more. MOAR!

(10) WRIGHT IN. John C. Wright, commenting on Vox Day’s post about Jeopardy!, told the Dread Ilk he is prepared to make the sacrifice of being a multiple Hugo-nominee again in 2016.

“Does anybody know if Wright is willing to be a lightening rod again? “

Lightning rod for the sputtering sparks of CHORF energy? I get a bigger shock from petting the cat on a dry day after rubbing my stocking feet on the carpet. I was pleased in a dark and evil way to see the Morlocks burn their own cities rather than allow me be elected mayor. I would have been MORE pleased had he Hugo Awards kept even a modicum of decency and honesty, and actually received the awards I earned, but I cannot expect powerdrunk patheticos to give up on power. I did not expect schoolboy wooden anus jokes, however. That was pathetic. Numbers wise, I am not sure if we can sweep the nominations again, but I would like to see the Hugos either returned to the old worth, or destroyed utterly. Leaving them in the clammy webbed hands of Christ-hating America-hating, Science-hating, Literature-hating Morlocks is unimaginable to me.

(11) HAN TALKS CHEWIE DOWN. Must have missed this in November  — Harrison Ford settled his feud with Chewbacca on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

(12) IN MEMORY YET GREEN. Chris Taylor analyzes “How Star Wars Conquered the Galaxy: The economic power of the greatest movie franchise ever” at Reason.com.

…Even before the December release of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise pulled in an estimated $42 billion total in box office, DVD sales and rentals, video games, books, and related merchandise. And that’s just the amount flowing into officially sanctioned channels; the unofficial, unlicensed Star Wars economy has generated untold billions more.

Some $32 billion of that staggering revenue was derived from physical stuff rather than an audio-visual experience. Like Davy Crockett, the Star Wars universe made its biggest economic impact in the realm of merchandise—clothing, accessories, food and drink, housewares (Darth Vader toaster, anyone?), and especially toys. But unlike Walt Disney, George Lucas devised a way to pocket much of that money himself. That helped buy editorial freedom, which helped this obsessive creative make the rest of his movies how he saw fit, for good and ill, until Disney bought the rights to the franchise in 2012 for $4.06 billion. Lucas and Star Wars created a category of economic activity that previously did not exist, and in so doing forever changed the face of entertainment….

(13) FOUNTAIN OF LOOT. Here’s some of that Star Wars merchandise – a series of fountain pens that sell for $575 apiece. Jon Bemis tells why he’s a happy customer in his review “Why I Bought the Cross Townsend Star Wars Limited Edition Fountain Pens” at The Pen Addict.

…While it looks like a standard brass pen body from a distance, close up the C-3PO is fluent in over six million forms of beautiful. It is gold (of course) and covered with accent lines recalling the curves and circles etched on Threepio himself. The clip is centered in a ring of concentric circles like those in the center of the protocol droids chest, and the caps finial looks like his eye….


C3PO style Cross pen.

C3PO style Cross pen.

(14) JUST PLAIN BILL. The Captain of the Enterprise is still out there hustling every day, too. Vulture has a new interview with William Shatner, who is hard at work marketing Priceline. He talks about his new book project and tells a Nimoy story he says he’s never told before.

What’s a piece of science you’ve come across lately that was particularly interesting to you?

I’m writing a novel with a writer named Jeff Rovin that will be out next year called Zero-G, and I suggested we use something in it that I had read about. I read that microbial life dries up and seems to be dead and then, with the addition of water thousands of years later, can come back to life. That’s astonishing. Thousands of years! These are scientific concepts so mysterious that they beggar our imagination. I saw a photograph yesterday of a black hole absorbing a star, and it burped energy back out! A black hole cosmic-burped dust out the other way! What is more intriguing than that? Perhaps a good pasta.

(15) SMACK BACK. For those who are fed up with Kirk there’s an alarming site — Slapkirk.com – that lets users control an animation of Kirk slapping himself, and with a kind of slap-o-meter that tracks how many slaps have been delivered, at what rate per second. Those who get it going fast enough are rewarded with the “Red Alert” sound effect…

(16) MUTANT TRAILER. A trailer is out for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, coming to theaters June 3, 2016.

(17) LET KYRA EXPLAIN. Kyra’s comment makes the taxonomy of fantasy fiction as clear as is the summer sun...

Look, it’s very simple —

Urban Fantasy: Fantasy set in a city
High Fantasy: Fantasy set in the mountains
Low Fantasy: Fantasy set in the Netherlands
Fantasy of Manners: Fantasy set in manors
Epic Fantasy: Fantasy in the form of a lengthy narrative poem
Fairy Tale Fantasy: Fantasy about fairies with tails
Science Fantasy: Science fiction but there’s an annoying pedant in the seat behind you saying that it’s fantasy because FTL travel isn’t real plus the Force, what about that
Sword and Sorcery: The party must include a magic user, a cleric, a fighter, and a thief
Weird Fiction: Like, the characters know they’re in a book and some of the text is upside down and stuff like that
Steampunk: Everyone has cybernetic enhancements but get this, they’re CLOCKWORK
Dieselpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements require diesel fuel
Mythpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements have tiny gods in them
Grimdark: When the superheroes change their costumes so that now they’re in dark colors, weird
Magic Realism: Like when your aunt actually believes that if you put the knife under the crystal pyramid, it will totally get sharper
Paranormal Romance: Fantasy with naughty bits
Young Adult Fantasy: One of the above genres marketed to a group that will actually buy it

See? Easy.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Where No George Has Gone Before

George Clayton Johnson and artist L.J. Dopp.

George Clayton Johnson and artist L.J. Dopp.

By John King Tarpinian: Today was the 86th birthday party for George Clayton Johnson. My head count was 52 souls. Some old friends, some fans. The surprise guest, who came up from that little convention down in San Diego, to wish George well was William F. Nolan. How’d Bill and George meet? Why at Charles Beaumont’s house, of course. Bill was impressed that George had just finished this movie script for Frank Sinatra, Ocean’s Eleven. They have been fast friends ever since.

They reminisced about their stay in that little hotel in Malibu while co-writing Logan’s Run. They talked about their acting in The Intruder, the only Roger Corman movie to have lost money at the box office. How they would make funny faces when standing behind the lead actor, William Shatner, as he spoke his lines. (If you have not seen this film you’d be surprised at how well it has held up, not to mention Shatner did a pretty good job acting.)

Denning Etchison and Peter Atkins read a few passages from George’s works. Many more stories where shared.  Questions were asked and answered.  Laughs were had by all.

George is one of those people who when you say his name a blank stare usually follows. Then you rattle off a short list of what he has done and eyes widen while smiles appear.

Report on del Toro Signing
at Mystery & Imagination

Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Atkins and Dennis Etchison in back of Mystery & Imagination Bookshop.

Guillermo del Toro, Peter Atkins and Dennis Etchison in back of Mystery & Imagination Bookshop. Photo by John Sasser.

By John King Tarpinian: Guillermo is a kind, unassuming, down to earth man. When he heard a local bookshop, Mystery and Imagination, was just getting by in this age of internet sales and big box book stores he volunteered to do what turns out to be his only official signing of his new book, Pacific Rim, as a fund raiser. Even with his busy schedule of promoting the film he made time to lend a helping hand. The extent of his kindness is best reflected in that the following morning he was off to Japan for the Pacific Rim premiere.

Considering the event was at 6:00 p.m. on a Thursday in L.A. there was a great turn-out. Not sure the body count but Guillermo signed for over three hours.

Wanting to meet him was two writers in their own right who had never done so, Dennis Etchison and Peter Atkins. It was a warm reception; Guillermo knew of and collected their works. We went upstairs to the signing area to do some preliminary stuff while the new friends got acquainted.

Once the event got started Guillermo was more than affable with all in attendance. He spoke with everybody, shook everybody’s hand. Guillermo was great with kids, a few of which had drawn their versions of the Kaiju. He’d stop and look at the drawing showing real appreciation at their attempts.

More than a few people in attendance worked for some of the companies that worked on Pacific Rim. One for the company that did the 3D conversion and another that worked on the musical score. Two students were given permission to miss their film school class to meet Guillermo. One bought the Pacific Rim book, the other the Puss N Boots book, both coffee table books. They made sure to get a trade paperback of The Strain for their instructor. Guillermo wrote an absentee excuse in the book for the instructor. What I’d not seen before were people who brought blank 8×10 canvases, which Guillermo obliged them with sketches.

I’d guess that a quarter of the people who came had been to San Diego last weekend, bringing in their only-available from Comic-Con items. There were posters galore and dozens of Pacific Rim action figures.  I have to admit I did something mean; when they’d hand over their sealed items (knowing that Guillermo would sign the package) I’d pretend to take the figurine out of the box. The looks on their faces was worth it. (Bad John)

The three hours went by very fast. Everybody involved was pleased, the fans and Guillermo. Two bankers-boxes were needed to haul away the gifts people brought. Not to mention that Guillermo was generous enough to give of himself to help out a bookshop he has frequented many times over the years.

Signing Jim's copy of Pacific Rim. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Signing Jim’s copy of Pacific Rim. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Tarpinian: Birthday Party for Earl & George

Earl Hamner Jr. and George Clayton Johnson at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop. (Photo by John King Tarpinian.)

By John King Tarpinian: The bookshop, Mystery & Imagination in Glendale, CA, hosted a dual birthday party on July 22 for two Twilight Zone legends, Earl Hamner, Jr. & George Clayton Johnson. The upstairs area of the bookshop was standing room only. Earl wrote eight TZ scripts while George wrote six. Earl and George credited Ray Bradbury for introducing them to Rod Serling.

Both talked about their lengthy careers and even lengthier marriages. They talked about the industry they were swept up in, the lessons they learned along the way.

Earl followed his TZ adventures with the movie, Spencer’s Mountain starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara which then turned into the TV show, The Waltons. His next venture was Falcon’s Crest. Earl talked about going to studio meeting now with the “twelve-year-old executives” and how the industry has changed. He read a piece he recently wrote about being eighty-nine years old.

George also talked about his career starting with writing the original Ocean’s Eleven for the RatPack, then his TZ episodes. Among them, working with a very young actor Robert Redford to Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters. Not to mention Steven Spielberg selected his Kick the Can for the TZ movie. Having the luck of the first aired original Star Trek being his The Man Trap.

There were a few other authors who attended to pay their respects, Peter Atkins (The Hellraiser movies), Horror Writer and TZ radio writer Dennis Etchison, mystery writer and comic expert Michael Mallory.

It was a lovely afternoon honoring two men who have given us so much enjoyment over the decades.