Pixel Scroll 8/13/23 Make Your Scroll Kind Of Pixel Even If Nobody Else Scrolls Along

(1) TICKET AGENCY OFFERS CHENGDU WORLDCON ADMISSIONS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The SF Light Year Weibo account posted on August 11 that Chengdu Worldcon tickets would be put up for sale on a Ticketmaster-style service. [Screencap of computer-translated post.]

Damai listing page which has much the same info. [Screencap of computer-translated post.]

Here’s a 2017 text story in Google’s cache confirming that Damai is a Ticketmaster equivalent: “Alibaba acquires China’s biggest ticket seller Damai”.

In itself, I don’t think this story is particularly controversial or bad, but just another indicator that this is a Worldcon like no other before…

(2) SOMETHING BORROWED. WorldCat identifies the “Top 25 books requested via interlibrary loan January through June 2023”. There are at least three sff books including R.F. Kuang’s Babel.

Here are the 25 books most frequently requested for interlibrary loan from January through June 2023 through the OCLC resource sharing network of 10,000+ libraries worldwide.

(3) SUPERMEN BEFORE SUPERMAN. Bleeding Cool remembers when “George Bernard Shaw Sent Lawyers After DC Comics About Superman”. The post is based on the “Superman 1939 Jerry Siegel Internal Memo Memorabilia” up for auction at ComicConnect.

…But back in 1938, there were other accusations in play. Readers have noted that Superman bore some resemblance to the lead character of Philip Wylie‘s Gladiator novel from 1930. Less than a year after Superman debuted in Action Comics #1, National Comics executive Jack Liebowitz was sending this letter to Siegel that suggests that Wylie had actually acted upon his threats of a lawsuit. And that the same attorney was also representing George Bernard Shaw, author of the play Man and Superman, suggesting George Bernard Shaw he was also being represented in legal negotiations with National Comics….

(4) ROUND TWO. {Item by Mike Kennedy.] Here’s a companion piece for the ongoing Internet Archive book copyright issue. “Record Labels File $412 Million Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Internet Archive” at Rolling Stone.

Complaint claims organization’s “Great 78 Project,” which includes music from Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and more serves as an “illegal record store”

Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol, and other record labels filed a copyright lawsuit on Friday against Internet Archive, founder Brewster Kahle, and others over the organization’s “Great 78 Project,” accusing them of behaving as an “illegal record store.” The suit lists 2,749 pre-1972 musical works available via Internet Archive by late artists, including Frank SinatraElla FitzgeraldChuck BerryBillie HolidayLouis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby, among others.

The suit, which was filed in federal court and reviewed by Rolling Stone, claims the Internet Archive’s “Great 78 Project” — launched by Internet Archive as a community project for “the preservation, research and discovery of 78rpm records,” according to its blog — has violated copyright laws. By “transferring copies of those files to members of the public, Internet Archive has reproduced and distributed without authorization Plaintiffs’ protected sound recordings,” the suit alleges.

The Internet Archive blog’s explanation of the The Great 78 Project says in part:

…We aim to bring to light the decisions by music collectors over the decades and a digital reference collection of underrepresented artists and genres. The digitization will make this less commonly available music accessible to researchers in a format where it can be manipulated and studied without harming the physical artifacts. We have preserved the often very prominent surface noise and imperfections and included files generated by different sizes and shapes of stylus to facilitate different kinds of analysis.

78s were mostly made from shellac, i.e., beetle resin, and were the brittle predecessors to the LP (microgroove) era. The format is obsolete, and just picking them up can cause them to break apart in your hands.  There’s no way to predict if the digital versions of these 78s will outlast the physical items, so we are preserving both to ensure the survival of these cultural materials for future generations to study and enjoy…

(5) REASONS TO LISTEN. [Item by Steven French.] Interesting review of a BBC Proms – Prom 36: A Space Odyssey, a concert available on BBC Sounds until October 9th:

The Guardian’s Tim Ashley says: “Prom 36 A Space Odyssey: LPO/Gardner review – unsettling and awesome”.

Strauss’s Zarathustra, meanwhile, was rich in drama and detail, the playing finely focused and sensually immediate. We can easily forget that, like 2001, it deals with human evolution. But it also has points in common with Ligeti’s Requiem, notably its comparably ambivalent ending, oscillating between keys to an irresolute silence and asking more questions than it can ever answer. Ligeti was apparently uncertain about their juxtaposition. Kubrick, you realise, knew exactly what he was doing in putting them together.

(6) A TELE-ALL BOOK. Tom Easton and Frank Wu have a new book coming out – ESPionage: Regime Change — Frank’s first novel, Tom’s 13th. It’s about psychics in the CIA battling Russians trying to assassinate the US President. Pre-order the ebook  on Amazon.com, or order the paperback edition when it’s available on August 28.

There’s mind-reading, telekinesis, and telepyrosis! Love and romance! Guns & explosions! A gun hidden in a camera! A fighting style based on 70’s rock! A bad iPhone game that’s really spy software! Secret messages sent in a Paul Simon song! Excitement and action action action!  

Amazing Stories did a Q&A with Frank in honor of the occasion: “Unexpected Questions with Frank Wu”. It includes a whole alternate history scenario built around the career of astronaut John Glenn.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 13, 1895 Bert Lahr. Best remembered and certainly beloved as The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, as well as his counterpart who was a Kansas farmworker. It’s his only genre role, though in the film Meet the People, he would say “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” which was later popularized by a cartoon character named Snagglepuss. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 13, 1899 Alfred Hitchcock. If he’d only done his two Alfred Hitchcock series which for the most part was awesome, that’d be enough to get him Birthday Honors. But he did some fifty films of which a number are genre such as The Birds and Psycho. Though I’ve not yet read it, I’ve heard good things about Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life. (Died 1980.)
  • Born August 13, 1909 Tristram Coffin. He’s best remembered for being Jeff King in King of the Rocket Men, a Forties SF serial, the first of three serials featuring this character. He showed up on the Fifties Superman series in different roles, sometimes on the side of Good, sometimes not. He played The Ambassador twice on Batman in “When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play” and “A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away”. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 13, 1922 — Willard Sage. He showed up on Trek as Thann, one of the Vians in “The Empath”. He was Dr. Blake in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and had roles in The Land of GiantsInvadersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Outer Limits and The Sixth Sense. (Died 1974.)
  • Born August 13, 1932 John Berkey. Artist whose best-known work includes much of the original poster art for the Star Wars trilogy. He also did a lot of genre cover art such as the 1974 Ballantine Books cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (I read that edition), and the 1981 Ace cover of Zelazny’s Madwand which I think is the edition I read. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 13, 1965 Michael De Luca, 58. Producer, second Suicide Squad film, Childhood’s EndGhost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of VengeanceDracula Untold, Lost in SpaceBlade and Blade IIPleasantville and Zathura: A Space Adventure which is not a complete listing. Also writer for an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the first Dredd film (oh well), the Freddy’s Nightmares series and the Dark Justice series which though not quite genre was rather fun. Anyone remember the latter? I liked it a lot. 
  • Born August 13, 1977 Damian O’Hare, 46. Though you might know him from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Curse of the Black Pearl and On Stranger Tides where he played Gillette, I know him as the voice of John Constantine on the animated Justice League Action. He also showed up in Agent Carter.
  • Born August 13, 1990 Sara Serraiocco, 33. She plays the complex role of Baldwin on the Counterpart series which I finally got around to watching and it’s absolutely fascinating. I will also admit it’s nice to see a SF series that’s truly adult in nature with realistic violence.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) SUGGESTED PROTECTIVE CONTRACT LANGUAGE. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Deborah Beale — who, in addition to being married to Tad Williams, has a substantial background in the business side of genre publishing — posted a useful boilerplate statement for authors concerned about large language models based on something in one of Mercedes Lackey’s contracts.

(10) MAKE A CRITICAL ROLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Herein is the tale of how one man turned being a D&D Game Master into a full time job and a multi-million dollar business. “The Game Master” at Slate.

…Today he is, without question, the most famous Dungeons & Dragons player in the world. Every Thursday, he and a group of friends gather in a studio for the latest episode of Critical Role—a show, broadcast on the livestreaming platform Twitch, which doubles as Mercer’s weekly tabletop RPG campaign. The structure should be familiar to anyone who’s palmed a 20-sided die in their youth: Mercer, as Game Master, is the primary storyteller. He provides the narrative elements, motifs, and obstacles for his players, who reciprocate by embodying a band of high-fantasy ne’er-do-wells who explore the world he’s created. (There’s been Pike the gnomish cleric, Vex the half-elf ranger, and Grog the Goliath barbarian to name a few.) Together—seated around a set made to look like the torchlit halls of a stone-wrought castle—they roll dice, slay monsters, and dream up their very own Lord of the Rings–sized epic. In one episode, the crew descends into a labyrinthine sewer system to fight off a massive spider. In another, they infiltrate a royal ball that exists between dimensions. Dungeons & Dragons is essentially an exercise in collaborative storytelling, which means Critical Role is unedited and unscripted—those who tune in watch the saga unfold in real time.

This was a radical premise when the show launched in 2015. Dungeons & Dragons was not considered to be spectator entertainment—much less an entrepreneurial enterprise—at any point throughout its previous 40-year history. Nobody, least of all Mercer, expected Critical Role to be a hit….

(11) I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW. “How The Witcher Will Explain Geralt Changing from Henry Cavill to Liam Hemsworth Seems Clear Now” according to Redanian Intelligence. Their theory is at the link.

The Witcher Season 4 will replace its titular character, Geralt of Rivia. Henry Cavill will no longer don the ash-white wig, the suit of armor, and the twin swords. The Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth will step into Cavill’s very large shoes and become the new Geralt starting with Season 4. Though we reported not long ago that filming of Season 4 has been delayed to 2024 due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, Netflix is still very much determined to produce this next season of the show. One of the few officially confirmed plot points of this fourth season involves Geralt of Rivia’s new face….

(12) AI UP TO BAT. [Item by Steven French.] “’Only AI made it possible’: scientists hail breakthrough in tracking British wildlife” reports the Guardian. If they help us spot more pipistrelle bats, then I for one welcome our AI overlords!

…“Bats almost certainly use railway bridges for roosting,” Dancer told the Observer. “So if we can get more detailed information about the exact locations of their roosts using AI monitors, we can help protect them.”

This point was underlined by Strong. “In the past, we have had to estimate local wildlife populations from the dead animals – such as badgers – that have been left by the track or the roadside. This way we get a much better idea of population sizes.”…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Ersatz Culture, Rich Horton, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/30/17 Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Scroll

(1) WAX TREK. The Orange County Register’s Keith Sharon should get a Pulitzer Prize for the first line of his article “$80,000 later, why this trio gave up their ‘Star Trek’ wax figures, Enterprise replica”:

Mr. Spock’s head cooled in a wooden crate for 10 years before someone noticed something was wrong.

Equally good is the rest of the article — about the fate of the wax Star Trek crew since the defunct Movieland Wax Museum sold its exhibits in 2006.

Steve and Lori had 24 hours to decide whether they wanted to pay about $40,000 for Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Dr. McCoy, Chekov and Scott. Or they could buy just one, or just a few.

They went to Don Jose’s restaurant and had margaritas over dinner. They knew other people wanted to buy the individuals in the crew. One guy wanted to put Spock in a bar. Another guy wanted to put Captain Kirk in his house. So they decided to buy them all, to keep the crew together. They made it their mission to save the crew of the Enterprise.

“Let’s protect them,” Steve told Lori.

“We took them home and put them in our dining room,” Lori said.

That’s when it got weird. Steve couldn’t stand the life-like eyes looking at him all the time.

“We put paper bags over their heads,” Steve said.

 

Steve Greenthal puts on the head of his Captain Kirk wax figure at the Fullerton Airport before donating them to the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The figures were purchased when the Movieland Wax Museum went out of business. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

(2) NOT ENOUGH HAMMER. Ursula K. Le Guin reviews Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology for The Guardian and finds it very well-written but wanting in some ways:

Gaiman plays down the extreme strangeness of some of the material and defuses its bleakness by a degree of self-satire. There is a good deal of humour in the stories, the kind most children like – seeing a braggart take a pratfall, watching the cunning little fellow outwit the big dumb bully. Gaiman handles this splendidly. Yet I wonder if he tries too hard to tame something intractably feral, to domesticate a troll.

… What finally left me feeling dissatisfied is, paradoxically, the pleasant, ingratiating way in which he tells it. These gods are not only mortal, they’re a bit banal. They talk a great deal, in a conversational tone that descends sometimes to smart-ass repartee. This chattiness will be familiar to an audience accustomed to animated film and graphic narrative, which have grown heavy with dialogue, and in which disrespect is generally treated as a virtue. But it trivialises, and I felt sometimes that this vigorous, robust, good-natured version of the mythos gives us everything but the very essence of it, the heart.

(3) FROM BUFFY TO BATGIRL. Joss Whedon is in talks to do a Batgirl movie says The Hollywood Reporter.

Whedon is in negotiations to write, direct and produce a Batgirl stand-alone movie for Warner Bros., adding another heroine to the studio’s DC cinematic universe.

Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich will oversee the project, along with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns….

Batgirl will be the second female superhero stand-alone in Warner Bros. DCU (Wonder Woman will hit theaters on June 2). Whedon has long been credited as a pioneering voice for female-focused genre fare, having created the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer two decades ago.

(4) DIETZ ESTATE SALE. Over 300 sf/f collectible books and other items from Frank Dietz’ are for sale on eBay. Dietz passed away in 2013.

He was chairman of the first 14 Lunacons, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 2007 Lunacon. His activities as “Station Luna,” an effort to record the proceedings of many World SF Conventions, continued for many years. He recorded events at the 1951 Worldcon in New Orleans.

(5) WOTF IN TOWN. Ron Collins reports on Day 2 of the annual Writers of the Future Workshop.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” Andrew Peery told me during a break after the opening session. He meant it in a good way. Peery, from North Carolina, is the 4th quarter first prize winner. The group had just walked through the Author Services Hall of Writers and been given a presentation of past judges throughout the contest’s history. People here have asked me how things have changed in the 18 years since my last visit. One thing that’s different is that the list of judges has gotten a little longer and a little more prominent. It’s very cool to think about.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the purpose of the workshop.

“Our goal in this workshop is to help you train yourself to be a professional writer,” Dave Farland said in his opening remarks. He and Tim [Powers] then covered several topics, focusing on things like how to develop writerly habits, how stories are structured, and how to create and use suspense. And that was just before lunch. Along the way the two of them did a little brotherly bickering about the speed with this things should be done. “If you’re here, we already know you’re good,” Dave said. “But now we want to help you think about producing that good work more quickly.” Tim, followed that up with: “My first drafts take forever and are never any good.” Then he explained why that was just fine by him. I’ve seen that before, but, yeah, it holds up on second viewing! It’s always great to see how creativity is different for two such high-caliber artists.

Other authors have written about Day 1 and Day 3.

(6) EGYPT IN SF. Tim Powers was recently interviewed by Rachel Connor and described his preparation.

Rachel: I was first introduced to your work when I read The Anubis Gates, a historical fiction with time-travel, Victorian corruption and ancient Egyptian folklore. Can you tell us a little about your approach to historical fiction? What is it about a certain period of time that intrigues you?

Tim: A novel for me generally starts with something I stumble across in recreational non-fiction reading. I’ll notice some peculiarity — like Edison working on a phone to talk to dead people with, or Albert Einstein going to a séance — and I’ll start to wonder if a story might not be built around what I’m reading.

If I come across another oddity or two — like Edison’s last breath being preserved in a test tube in a museum in Michigan, or Einstein turning out to have had a secret daughter who disappears from history in 1902 — I’ll decide that this isn’t recreational reading after all, but research for a book.

For The Anubis Gates, it was a note in one of Lord Byron’s letters. He said that several people had recognized him in London at a particular date in 1810, when at that time he was in fact in Turkey, very sick with a fever.

I wondered how he might have a doppelganger, and started reading all about Byron, and his doctor in Turkey, and London at the time, looking for clues

(7) EVERY JOT AND TITTLE. Tom Easton and Michael Burstein’s collaborative short story Sofer Pete” has been published in Nature

The visitors were crowded against one wall of bookcases, facing a large table on which was stretched a long piece of parchment. An inkwell filled with black ink sat off to the side. A hand holding a traditional goose-quill pen moved over the parchment, leaving rows of Hebrew characters behind it more quickly than a human hand ever could.

Because the hand did not belong to a human. The gleaming metal hand belonged to a humanoid robot seated on the other side of the table. Its name was Pete.

(8) THANKS DAD! Most people know Joe Hill’s father is Stephen King. Here’s what happened when young Joe turned to him for advice….

(9) “EVERY WINDOW’S A SEAT”. How much will people pay to be in space for a few minutes? “Jeff Bezos just revealed a mock-up of the spacecraft his rocket company will use to take tourists into space”.

Each launch will rocket a handful of wealthy tourists more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth on a roughly 11-minute trip.

Near the top of a high arc, the rocket will detach from the space capsule, which will fall toward the ground, granting passengers about four minutes of weightlessness and letting them take in an incredible view of the fringes of our planet’s outer atmosphere.

(10) GHOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST. The BBC says the animated Ghost in the Shell was good, but the live-action is better.

The Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell isn’t just one of the most acclaimed science-fiction cartoons ever made, it’s one of the most acclaimed science-fiction films, full stop. Conceptually and visually breathtaking, Mamoru Oshii’s cyberpunk detective flick bridged the gap between analogue blockbusters and digital ones, between Blade Runner and The Terminator, with their cyborgs and androids, and The Matrix and Avatar, with their body-swaps and virtual realities. The makers of The Matrix, in particular, were happy to acknowledge that they were following in Oshii’s future-noir footsteps.

The question is, then, is it worth bothering with a belated live-action version? Considering that the cartoon is now a cult classic, and that several other films have taken its innovations and run with them, can a mega-budget Hollywood remake have anything of its own to offer? The answer to both questions is a definite yes.

(11) RELAUNCH. First reuse of a SpaceX recoverable boosterNPR reports:

SpaceX launched a communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket stage that has already been to space and back. SpaceX is betting that this kind of recycling will lower its costs and revolutionize space flight.

(12) NOT FIVE? At the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog, Corinna Lawson shares the four rules that tell her “How to Know When It’s Okay to Read a Series out of Order”.

  1. When the character arcs are resolved by book’s end

In Sins of Empire, there are three leads, and all set out on emotional journeys that are fully resolved by book’s end.

Meanwhile, ASoIaF readers are still waiting to see what happens via-à-vis Jamie Lannister’s redemption arc, whether the Khaleesi will ever seize her birthright, if Tyrion’s suffering will amount to anything, or if Jon Snow will ever stop flailing about and realize who and what he is.

In Bujold’s The Warrior’s Apprentice, a young man who dreams of being a soldier finds more than he bargained for, and, at the end, his journey has a resolution, despite a fair dozen books that follow.

But Bishop’s Others, series, well, readers have been waiting for four books to see what happens with Simon and Meg, and though their patience is rewarded, it took four other books to get there.

(13) REVIEW HAIKU. Aaron Pound begins with a 17-syllable plot summary, then goes on to tell why he loved Kelly Sue DeConnick’s graphic story Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike.

Full review: I must confess that I obtained this book almost solely because it was written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and at this point I am pretty much willing to at least take a look at anything she writes. Pretty Deadly not only met the high expectations I have for work from DeConnick, it exceeded them. This is, quite bluntly, mythic storytelling that manages to be both epic in scale and simultaneously intensely personal. Told via a combination of tight and brilliant writing from DeConnick and stunningly beautiful and evocative artwork from Emma Rios, this story presents a violent and visceral enigma shrouded in mystery wrapped up in magic, gunfights, and swordplay.

(14) THREE SHALL BE THE NUMBER THOU SHALT COUNT. This is a public service announcement from N.K. Jemisin.

(15) KORSHAK COLLECTION. An exhibit from “The Korshak Collection: Illustrations of Imaginative Literature” will be on display April 10-May 16 at the Albin O Kuhn Library and Gallery on the University of Maryland Baltimore County campus. The collection, now owned by Stephen Korshak, was started by his father Erle Korshak, past Worldcon chair and founder of the imprint Shasta Publishers, and has its own impressive website.

Truly a vision of the fantastic, this exhibition is an amazing exploration of both illustrative art and the evolution of the visual landscape of science fiction and fantasy literature. Featuring work by both American and European artists and spanning more than a century, these vivid illustrations bring to life adventures, beings, and worlds conjured in novels such as Don Quixote, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Tarzan, and pulp magazines including Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Fantastic Adventures, and Wonder Stories. Accomplishing far more than simply guiding readers in their explorations of new and sometimes bizarre realms, the range and impact of these illustrations is far-reaching.

The exhibition will also include books, pulp magazines, and other items drawn from UMBC’s Rosenfeld Collection, revealing how the illustrations in the Korshak Collection were meant to appear when encountered as artifacts of material culture.

(16) BEYOND ORWELL. The 2084 Kickstarter has funded. The collection —

features 11 stories from leading science fiction writers who were all asked the same question – what will our world look like 67 years from now? The anthology features new and exclusive stories from:

Jeff Noon, Christopher Priest, James Smythe, Lavie Tidhar, Aliya Whiteley, David Hutchinson, Cassandra Khaw, Desirina Boskovich, Anne Charnock, Ian Hocking, and Oliver Langmead.

(17) BOOKS WERE SOLD. This is John Scalzi’s executive summary of The Collapsing Empire’s first week:

So, in sum: Top selling science fiction hardcover in the US, second-best-selling audio book in the US, my highest debut on the USA Today bestseller list, and a TV deal.

That’s a pretty good week, y’all.

Fuller details at the post.

(18) JURY CALL. The Shadow Clarke Jury continues to review its Clarke Award picks.

I put this novel on my shadow shortlist after reading the opening chapters on Amazon, because I was fascinated by the premise: the seemingly inexplicable overnight irruption of masses of full-grown trees into our familiar world. I said, when I explained my choices, that I was intrigued because it reminded me somewhat of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, in which the world is transformed, first by meteors, which cause mass blindness, and then by the apparently coordinated escape of the triffids, seizing the opportunities afforded by this new blindness. I was curious to see how much The Trees might be in conversation with Triffids more than half a century on.

De Abaitua wrote one of the most complex and difficult novels from 2015, If Then, and I still find myself wondering about it at random times. I was so taken by that strange novel about an algorithmic society in decay—a novel that feels so uneven on the surface, yet so complete in substance—I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough to write a decent review. Since then, The Destructives has been on my “most anticipateds” list. Placed on a Clarke award shortlist only once before, for The Red Men in 2008, de Abaitua was unaccountably left off the list for If Then in 2016. The Destructives is the latest piece in this abstract thematic series and, given its scope, it seems primed to make up for last year’s Clarke snub.

Any work of fiction is a formal exercise in the controlled release and withholding of information. What is withheld and for how long is a key element in how we read the work and even how we classify it. To give an obvious example, in a detective story in the classical mode it is essential that the identity of the killer is withheld until the last page, the structure of the novel is therefore dictated by the need to steadily release information that leads towards this conclusion without actually pre-empting it. How successful the novel is depends upon the skill with which this information is managed. If too much is given away so that readers can guess whodunnit too early, the work is adjudged a failure; similarly, if too little is revealed so that the denouement comes out of the blue, it is seen as a cheat and again the work fails.

In a recent article for the Guardian, ‘How to build a feminist utopia’, Naomi Alderman briefly sets out some pragmatic measures for helping pave the way to a world in which genitals, hormones and gender identification don’t matter because ‘everyone gets to be both vulnerable and tough, aggressive and nurturing, effortlessly confident and inclusively consensus-building, compassionate and dominant’. Among suggestions such as trying to establish equal parenting as the norm and teaching boys to be able to express their emotions, she also proposes teaching every girl self-defence at school from the age of five to sixteen. In effect, this is what happens in The Power when it becomes apparent that a generation of teenage girls across the world have developed the capacity to emit electric shocks. The only difference is that this doesn’t just allow the girls to defend themselves against male violence but instead enables them to become the aggressors.

(19) STATUARY GRIPE. Copied to Twitter, a grumpy letter to the editor from a “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” type about a proposed Terry Pratchett statue.

(20) TV IS COMING. HBO’s latest series promo, Game of Thrones Season 7: Long Walk.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, rcade, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, David K.M.Klaus, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]