Your Darn Near Hugo-Free Auxiliary Pixel Scroll 4/27/16 Scrolljira!

Gluten-free, too!

(1) SF HALL OF FAME VOTING. The EMP Museum has opened public voting on the 2016 finalists for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The deadline to cast your vote is May 11.

In honor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary, we invited the public to submit their favorite Creators and Creations. After tallying up your nominations (nearly 2,000 submissions!), a committee of industry experts narrowed down the list to the final twenty nominees.

SF Site News observed:

It is the first time the EMP will be inducting a second class into the Hall of Fame, comprised of “Creations” as well as the “Creators” who have traditionally been honored.


  • Douglas Adams
  • Jorge Luis Borges
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Stephen King
  • Stan Lee
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Lana & Lilly Wachowski


  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
  • The Star Wars media franchise, created by George Lucas
  • The Star Trek media franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry
  • “Space Oddity,” by David Bowie
  • The Twilight Zone TV series, created by Rod Serling
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

(2) OWN ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST SF COLLECTIONS. Ebay is asking for best offers on what is billed as the “World’s Best Science Fiction Small press and Pulp Magazine Collection – High Grade”.

The owner is willing to sell it outright for US $2,500,000.00.

Details about  World’s Best Science Fiction Small Press and Pulp Magazine Collection High Grade

20,000+ Books Complete Sets Arkham House Fantasy Press

You are bidding on the most extensive, highest graded, complete set of all Small Press Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror books as well as the most extensive very rare pulp magazine collection in the world. Many of the sets below are the best in the world. A few are the only ones in the world, let alone in “like new” condition. Many are also complete (or near complete as some authors were dead at time of publication) signed sets.

You aren’t just buying a bunch of books, you are buying the rarest, and you are buying the best.

There is also a long Q&A section.

How can these things be in such high grade? Are there any fake dustjackets or facsimile reprint books?

EVERYTHING IS ORIGINAL. They are in such high grade because that’s what I go after. I have bought most of the books in the small press collection (for example) 2-4 times a piece. I love to marry high grade dustjackets to high grade books. I regularly buy the highest graded copy of any book that comes up for sale online from any of a couple dozen different book sites) as well as buy from older collectors with long time private collections. My record for any individual book is having bought it 13 times before finding a very high grade copy. Virtually none of these books came from collections I bought as a dealer. I had to buy them all individually. Most of the books I bought individually several times a piece. I’ve assembled all but one of these sets personally….

How large is the collection and book store?

Imagine a three car garage completely full from floor to ceiling, front to back without walking room in between, completely full of books. It’s the equivalent of about 350 to 400 “comic long boxes”, and will take the majority of an 18-wheeler for transportation purposes….

Why sell the personal collection and store together?

There is a lot of cross over interest, and frankly if I own even one book after this auction is over, I’ll just end up buying more….

(3) HAILED INTO COURT. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with S. B. Divya, Defense Attorney for the Oxford Comma”.

1. Your bio says that “S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma.” I am here to tell you that the Oxford comma has, unfortunately, been put on trial for its life. However, you are its defense attorney! Make your case.

Your honor, I humbly present the Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma. It is abastion of orderliness in a sea of grammatical chaos. This comma is an exemplary citizen, always obeying a simple rule: that it follows each item in a list until the last. Let us not create an exception to the rule! Let us not say, “It follows each item in a list except for the second to last and the last, which shall be joined by a conjunction.” Nay, let us stand fast against such unwieldy rule-making – such convoluted thinking – and embrace the simplicity that is embodied by this innocuous punctuation mark.

(4) CLASSIC FANZINE DIGITIZED. Linda Bushyager’s 1970s newzine Karass has been scanned and put online at FANAC.ORG.

They currently reside at” Go there for a blast from the past (1974-1978). Lots of good artwork too, especially in the final Last Karass issue. If you don’t remember it, Karass was a SF fan newszine I published. My thanks go to Joe and Mark for doing this.

Basically, Karass passed the torch to File 770 at the end of its run. Wasn’t that awhile ago!

(5) CHINA PRESS COVERS HUGO NOMINEE. The South China Morning Post ran this story: “Young writer’s fantastical tale of class inequality in Beijing earns her Hugo Awards nomination”

Hao Jingfang says her sci-fi novelette ‘Folding Beijing’ aims to expose society’s injustices…

The nomination of Hao’s work comes after Chinese author Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem – depicting an alien civilisation’s invasion of earth during the Cultural Revolution – won best novel at the Hugo Awards last year.

Folding Beijing is set in the future, where Beijing folds up so different groups occupy different levels. The protagonist, a waste worker from the Third Space, is hired by a student in the Second Space to send a love letter to a girl in the First Space, despite strong opposition from the girl’s family due to their class difference.

(6) FAN MAIL. Kurt Busiek tweeted a fan letter he once sent to a Marvel comic calling on them to revive the quality of their letter section.

(7) BOOKMARKED. Rachel Swirsky interprets her story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” in a comment at File 770.

“If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love has the clear implication that the author desires violent justice towards people who beat the narrator’s lover into a coma over either their sexuality or their ethnicity.”

OK, author talking about their own story follows. Feel free to skip.

Desires it, sure, but then is like “wow, that would suck and leave victims like me which is not okay.” Or: “I have a base desire to hurt you despite my understanding that it is morally and ethically wrong and would have terrible consequences, and I can’t even really fantasize about it without being overwhelmed by that knowledge and returned to the reality of the real world where nothing helps, nothing changes things, and certainly not revenge.”

(To a certain extent, isn’t that the *same* point Wright makes about homosexuals and tire irons? It’s his impulse, he says, but he’s not doing it, so presumably he’s aware that it is wrong–I hope–or at least that it has social consequences he doesn’t wish to encounter.)

I’m not suggesting you didn’t understand this in your comment. Just that it is a thing that confuses and bugs me about the revenge reading that’s been put forward, since it’s specifically an *anti-revenge* story.

It is an *anti-revenge* story because one of my intimate relations had recently uncovered a history of childhood physical and sexual abuse, and fuck if I didn’t fantasize about stopping or revenging it. But the damage is done. It is incontrovertible. And there is no revenge to be had; the abuser is still around, but what’s the point? It’s been thirty years. The person who did it, and the moment when it could have changed, are gone. All that’s left is the reality of the abuse and its long-lasting damage.

Not that I realized that was the impetus when I was writing it. I didn’t put it together until a lot later, that the story, and the angst I was going through over that, were related.

(I continue to have no problem with people who dislike it based on actual literary criteria, personal definitions of SF, or for sentimentality or manipulation. I would ask the folks in category two to consider noting that “it’s sff” or “it’s not sff” is actually a matter of opinion, not fact, since there is no reifiable SFF; it’s not like it’s a platonic thing that can be identified and pointed to. It’s a mobile boundary, interacting with a lot of other things. In this case, the interaction occurs around conditional tense and storytelling, which has a long history of being considered SFF in cases like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and folklore, but I suspect there are also works that are considered realist that use the device. I don’t actually have an investment in whether it’s SFF or not, as I cannot be moved to give a damn about genres, but I think both positions are valid.)

OK, done, thanks, needed a rant.

(8) GET YOUR SECRET DECODER RINGS READY. The signal is on its way from John Scalzi —

(9) HAIR TONIGHT. King Gillette never used this for a commercial.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, and Michael J. Walsh, for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the second shift, Brian Z.]

181 thoughts on “Your Darn Near Hugo-Free Auxiliary Pixel Scroll 4/27/16 Scrolljira!

  1. Russell Letson on April 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm said:

    @Camestros Felapton: Wouldn’t that depend on how important the order of ingestion was?

    Than that should be indicated overtly e.g.
    The cat first ate my parents, then it ate Mahatma Gandhi and the Shah of Iran.

    While commas are cheap, words are not terribly expensive either 🙂

  2. I expect this will be the last happy gallbladder surgery update. For those not interested skip. I’m starting to feel like I think the world revolves around me but as a couple people asked to be updated I’m doing so. Today I saw my surgeon for my one and only post-surgery exam.

    We went over what I can and can’t eat (anything according to her – my digestive system disagrees) as well as activity limits now and changes in 6 weeks where the final limits are lifted.

    She removed the glue and a bunch of scar tissue around my belly button. Wow does that feel & look better if not completely healed. She asked a few questions I was pronounced fine & recovering as I should be.

    For kicks and giggles:
    Gallbladder was 4.9 cm x 3.0 cm
    Gallstone was 3 x 3 cm O_o

  3. PhilRM on April 28, 2016 at 9:41 am said:
    @Matthew Johnson: The current plan for the em-drive is to build an en-drive and then make it slightly longer.
    I think there’s a kernel of truth in there.

    So you’re saying it was justified, right?

  4. @Matthew Johnson

    So you’re saying it was justified, right?

    Heh, I see what you did there.

  5. Tasha Turner, reminds me of the conversation I had with my husband’s surgeon after his gallbladder surgery. (His was full of gravel, rather than one large stone). “Here’s a picture of his gallbladder. As you can see, it’s a nice healthy shade of pink. Which is not as good as it sounds, because gallbladders are supposed to be green….”

    Glad you’re recovering well. My husband has some trouble with acid reflux after eating very fatty foods (fried foods, ice cream) but is usually fine unless he makes the mistake of lying down within an hour after eating. Hope all goes equally well for you, and that cheese is on your menu again soon!

  6. Matthew Johnson: So you’re saying it was justified, right?

    This whole exchange between you and PhilRM — standing ovation.

  7. Tasha Turner on April 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm said:

    For kicks and giggles:
    Gallbladder was 4.9 cm x 3.0 cm
    Gallstone was 3 x 3 cm O_o

    Ouch. I’m glad your gallbladder has stopped engaging in geology and hopefully will stick with pleasant biological exercises from hence forth. 🙂

  8. @ Tasha

    Gallstone was 3 x 3 cm O_o


    My mom’s gallstone was only the size of a small marble. Since her mother also had them, I’ve been living in expectation of gall bladder problems, but seem to have escaped them so far. Though I suspect my overall diet is rather different than theirs was.

  9. After my husband and I lost our gallbladders (same surgeon, a few years apart) we were each told that fatty and spicy things might cause issues and we should probably avoid them at least at the start, just to be safe. I had been in the hospital for a few days by the time I had it out, so I was starving (I think liquids and a few saltines were all they let me have in the hospital) and I ate a bratwurst as soon as I was out. That would be both fatty and spicy, so it was probably stupid, but I really felt fine.

    Your gallstone was about the same size as the two or three my husband had. Mine were more like beebees and his were more like golf balls. His scars were much larger, too, obviously, and he took a bit longer to heal. But he took a great deal of pride in the huge gallstones he’d generated.

  10. Follow up on single-gender cultures in sff discussion: the anthology of gay and lesbian sff came, and I am so glad I got it–it was published in 1986 (I never heard of it), and has some of my favorite authors’ stories reprinted in it (Joanna Russ!), as well as two original stories–one by Jewelle Gomez (a new Gilda story! Worth much more than I paid for the used copy of the anthology) and the other “Full Fathom Five” by Rand B. Lee which Vasha recommended.

    I read Lee’s story this morning and while it’s fascinating on an intellectual level, it’s one of the most horrifying stories I’ve ever read in terms of toxic masculinity and rape culture. I’ll have to wait a while and re-read and think about it, but yikes–given that the anthology was focused on the idea that the shift in culture generally and sff culture specifically with the authors of the 1970s moved away from the simplistic stereoptyes and demonization of homosexuals, I cannot figure out how this story ended up being chosen. Lee’s published other stuff according to Google, but I have no desire to read any of it. It does nothing to contradict my general sense that Bujold’s EofA is one of the few if not only male-only world that does not descend into every horrific stereotype of masculinity ever.

  11. Kyra on April 28, 2016 at 11:39 am said:
    I’m, going to put, commas wherever I damn well, want to.
    You are not, the boss, of me.

    Everyone remain calm. Kyra’s escalated to using Shatner Commas…

  12. @Matthew Johnson: So you’re saying it was justified, right?
    That was indeed my point.

  13. @Cassy B: It’s hard to say – you have to change with the times. When in Rome…

  14. Vasha, you encapsulated what I loved about Every Heart a Doorway perfectly. I made the mistake of reading some sample chapters posted on io9, and… Hang the high price (for an eBook), I had to have the rest. Right then.

    Re: commas… I always thought there was some room for personal style variation in their use? Some places require one, some places forbid one, but there are locations where one may comma to taste? But perhaps I am in error. It happens.

    Tasha, I saw my doctor today, and told him your story about sitting on the floor in order to get your computer-using doctor to face you. The exam rooms at our teaching hospital are set up so that the patient can see the doctor’s face, quite well from the chairs, less well from the exam table. He said this was deliberate, trying to encourage eye contact. He appreciated your story and may use it in teaching. 🙂

  15. Kyra on April 28, 2016 at 11:39 am said:

    I’m, going to put, commas wherever I damn well, want to.

    You are not, the boss, of me.

    That literally made my teeth hurt. Ow. Don’t DO that.

  16. (8) Hey! I just my Little Author Scalzi decoder ring in the mail today. I got “Be sure to eat your burrito.” Is that correct?

  17. PhilRM on April 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm said:

    @Matthew Johnson: So you’re saying it was justified, right?

    That was indeed my point.

    I’m glad — I was worried that it was only marginally relevant.

  18. @Matthew Johnson: I’m glad — I was worried that it was only marginally relevant.
    Not at all – we’re definitely on the same page.

  19. @PhilRM on April 28, 2016 at 3:23 pm said:

    @Matthew Johnson: I’m glad — I was worried that it was only marginally relevant.

    Not at all – we’re definitely on the same page.

    Personally I would have given my comment a 3, maybe a 4. But I’m glad it papered over our differences.

  20. @BigelowT:

    After my husband and I lost our gallbladders (same surgeon, a few years apart) we were each told that fatty and spicy things might cause issues and we should probably avoid them at least at the start, just to be safe.

    Losing one gallbladder may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

    @Ryan H: Thank you for the link to the mordantly funny Steve Rogers fanfic. That was the most fun I’ve had in days.

  21. Camestros, what’s this about Timothy eating people? You didn’t go swanning off on holiday without leaving him enough catfood?

  22. @Heather Rose Jones
    First I love your new Gravatar.

    Whimpers is right. Luckily laparoscopic worked. There was concern they’d have to go traditional *shudders*. May you never get any gallstones and be as healthy as possible for the rest of your life.

    I’m definitely taking pride in the size. I meant to ask if she’d taken pictures and if I could get one but this surgeon is not a people person. Yes I’m weird. If I could have gotten my gallbladder to talk I might have gotten her to focus on me rather than her quick list.

    Glad your doctor found it helpful. The doctors and nurses throughout the gallbladder surgery were fantastic at working with me to make sure I could hear them. It’s a teaching hospital and it’s a mixture of good and bad setups. Chairs were moved or doctors/residents took hand notes while talking facing me, turned input them, at end would have me confirm notes when I could move next to computer in bad rooms.

    Next things: hematologist for anemia, osteoporosis shot, cardiologists for strange heartbeat, 6-8 tests for new neurologist. When those docs feel things are ok eardrum/titanium bone fixing surgery & cervix removal surgery to schedule in MA where mom can baby me afterwards LOL. Then hopefully Helsinki as a treat for being a good girl this year. So much to look forward to this year I just don’t know how I’ll handle all fun. Just thankful none of it is life threatening. If we get lucky might solve chronic fatigue by the end of it all which would be super cool as it’d give me my life back.

  23. @Niall McAuley on April 28, 2016 at 8:54 am said:
    The Oxford comma can also make a sentence less clear.

    The problem there isn’t the Oxford comma; rather, it’s that people forget that you can enclose appositives in ways OTHER than commas (parentheses or dashes, for example). Use all of the punctuation that the Gods of Writing bequeathed upon us!

  24. Matthew Johnson, Phil RM and Will R are engaging in wordplay of an entirely new type – I’m not sure I can face it.

  25. Ryan H on April 28, 2016 at 10:25 am said:
    This is a lovely and droll short fiction written from the pov of Steve Rogers/captain America’s public relations person. It’s a great five minute read.

    Thanks for pointing me to that, you were right.

    A lot of the time, I look at contemporary American politics and feel a lot like this Steve Rogers: “WTF? Aren’t these battles that we’ve already WON – and that were won decades ago?”

  26. Mike Glyer on April 28, 2016 at 4:05 pm said:

    Jonathan Edelstein: You could even say they have taken the lead.

    If I have run faster, it is by standing on the shoulders of slugs.

  27. If every writer actually thought about the meaning being conveyed, we wouldn’t need to worry about Oxford (serial) commas. Thus, various authorities such as the AP Stylesheet and The Times endorse including it only when ambiguity ensues without the comma. However, when we in the teaching racket decided to teach that as the “rule” several decades ago, we successfully produced a generation of writers who NEVER include said comma, and many of them in turn taught others that “rule.” The advancement office and IT team here at our university follow the AP and routinely create sentences which I have to beg them to change (for example, “Those attending the Poetry Slam included the student poets, Dr. B and Rep. L” when the latter were the distinguished visitors, not student poets). Realizing our despair, many handbooks in the U.S. returned to recommending the Oxford comma simply because fewer ambiguities result from inclusion than from exclusion.

  28. @ Tasha

    Thanks for the “like” on the gravatar. It isn’t actually new — it’s a variant of the icon I’ve been using on my blog for Alpennia posts. (That one has “Alpennia” splashed across it.) When I first saw the cover design for Daughter of Mystery, I loved the book + rose concept so much that I did a massive photoshoot with various volumes and flora lying around the house until I got a combination I wanted to use for a personal logo. Now I’m trying to remember which of the early 19th century books in my library I ended up using. (It’s either the Welsh bible or the Finnish mathematics text. Don’t ask.)

  29. @ Phil RM: I am merely the courier who spreads news of your greatness.

  30. @Heather Rose Jones Now I’m trying to remember which of the early 19th century books in my library I ended up using. (It’s either the Welsh bible or the Finnish mathematics text. Don’t ask.

    Do you know how hard it is not to ask when you put it that way? It’s like a dare dropped. But I think I’ve created enough arguments and flounces for today so I’m gonna behave.

  31. @Robin: Well, you’re welcome. It was not much more recently than 1986 that I read that anthology, and I still remember that my reaction to that story was “Ew”. I thought you’d find it interesting, though.

  32. Jonathan Edelstein on April 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm said:

    @ Phil RM: I am merely the courier who spreads news of your greatness.

    MIRANDA: What brave new world that has such picas in’t!

    ARIAL: A sign o’ the times. Be not over-bold.

    TRINCULO: Then I’ll lose face, and be a comic sans.

  33. @Mark: I actually read “Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass” before Every Heart a Doorway, and thought it fell awfully flat. Gur cbffvovyvgl bs gheavat guvf jbeyq vagb n jbaqreynaq jnf boivbhf sebz gur fgneg bs gur fgbel, naq lrg gur grqvbhf urebvar qvqa’g frr vg hagvy vg jnf cbvagrq bhg gb ure ol gung zna. There just wasn’t a lot of development of what wonderlands meant to people, and the basic premise was too obvious to carry the story on its own. On the other hand, character development is what Every Heart a Doorway excels at.

    Children’s fantasy seems to be a bit of a hot topic nowadays — there’s been a saying going round and round Twitter and Facebook: “Don’t be TOO upset if you didn’t get your Letter to Hogwarts, because as we all know, Voldemort wiped out all the Ministry’s records of muggle-born wizards and witches born from 1985-1998.” Those born during the earlier part of that period would be “Milennials” — Charles Payseur has a rather interesting essay speculatiing about what effect desperate dissatisfaction among Milennials has on fantasy, and portals are part of it.

  34. I had never seen the term “virtue signalling” before the Puppies started using it. Have never seen it since, apart from this discussion and people commenting on the Puppies’ use of it.

    In that context, my understanding of the phrase “virtue signalling” is that it’s a phrase that Puppies use when someone has clearly expressed a desire to have nothing to do with the Puppies, the Puppies cannot accept that this is due to straighforward rejection of Puppy rhetoric and behavior, and so the Puppies fabricate elaborate nonsense to force another interpretation onto the person’s decison.

    Thus, if you say “take me off your slate, I want nothing to do with it or with you,” you are not refusing to be drafted into the Puppy practice of slating for the Hugos. Nay! Your position obviously cannot be about you rejecting Puppy practices, let alone rejecting the Puppies themselves because you find them unprofessional or even repugnant. Impossible! It must be about you “virtue signalling to SJWs” for some ludicrous “reason” the Puppies invent. It must be about YOU being flawed, cowardly, hypocritical, needy, craven, etc. It cannot possibly be about you being a reasonable adult who looks at the Puppies and their behavior and thinks, “Blegh.”

    IOW, I will forever find the phrase “virtue signalling” utterly idiotic, silly, and dishonest, since I encountered it first-and-repeatedly in that context.

  35. @Laura

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking about the phrase all day, since Scalzi’s remark and the discussion here, and I think I’m coming around to setting it aside.

    I mean, I still do see the behavior it describes. It’s all over the Internet, for example, wherever there’s an in-group that values solidarity and defines that solidarity through contempt for outsiders. The kind of thing that I’ve been seeing from “conservative” culture warriors for decades now, for example. “I’m not like Those People, see how much I despise Those People, see what a good member of the tribe I am?”

    As you say, “Blegh.”

    But yeah, terms pick up baggage from the people who use – and abuse – them, and as I’ve discovered today, this one seems to have been specifically created as a tribal marker for “conservatives.” Not to mention that it often becomes self-demonstrating as a result. So I’ll concede that we need a different vocabulary.

  36. I remember Vivien Raper using “virtue signaling” to contrast everyone else here besides Hampus, who obviously didn’t really care about Anders Breivik, with Hampus, who had been personally affected and therefore was allowed to express his feelings. All the other uses of the phrase that I have seen have been similarly appalling.

  37. @Matthew Johnson:
    MIRANDA: What brave new world that has such picas in’t!

    ARIAL: A sign o’ the times. Be not over-bold.

    TRINCULO: Then I’ll lose face, and be a comic sans.


  38. The whole “Oxford” comma thing is silly. Commas won’t magically fix your ambiguity. As already pointed out, the Cambridge comma can fix cases of ambiguity caused by the Oxford comma as readily as the reverse. And the simple fact is that there are sentences which are ambiguous no matter which you use:

    “…his ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Duvall[,] and Lenny Kravitz.”

    No matter which convention you use, that can be misinterpreted.

    Furthermore, the term “Oxford comma” is misleading. Yes, it’s recommended by Oxford U. Press, but they’re one of the few places in England to do so. Really, it would be more sensible to describe it as the American comma, because it’s more-or-less standard in America. That, and no other reason, is why I use it. I’m an American, and I primarily write for American audiences, so I follow common American style in this, if not in everything.

    Of course, calling it the Oxford comma sounds posher than calling it the American comma. But in my opinion, that’s actually a problem with the name, as it causes posh-wannabes to overvalue it.

    Ms. Swirsky’s defense of the American/Oxford/serial comma is amusing. I hadn’t seen that one before. But it ultimately fails, because she ignores lists of two where her rules suddenly break. The English/Cambridge/standard comma is consistent for lists of any length. Even two. It doesn’t require any fancy special case exceptions like the American comma.

  39. Re avatars: I used to be active on a forum where I’d change my avatar every few weeks or less as a new image interested me, but that forum used 160×160 pixel images. Finding an avatar that is distinguishable at 68×68 pixels is much harder. Small objects and fine details disappear, so you have to go very simple.

    On a related note, when the mood hits me I like to play around with Photoshop-compatible plug-in filters (I have literally thousands of them accumulated from the internet over multiple years.) I’ve considered posting on how you can create spacey images (possibly even good enough for self-published book covers) using filters and requiring almost no artistic skills whatsoever. So here’s a brief (ish) sample of what you can do with little more than playing around with specialized filters and layering them together.

    Plug-ins by Flaming Pear: Solarcel and Lunarcel (used to produce close-up stars and moons/planets.)

    Plug-ins by Universe: Interstellar Gas, Nebula, Stars, Textured Stars, Galaxy (names pretty self-explanatory)

    Genesis V2 Pro: lots of lens filters, with “sun with secondaries” as an option.

    (Where you might come up with these filters I leave up to you. Googling Genesis V2 Pro, for example, shows me that it is at least 15 years old–wherther it is still legally available or if the publisher is even still in business I don’t know.)

    Link to sample images.

    In spacescene01.jpg, the star is created with Flaming Pear Solarcel, the planet with Flaming Pear Lunarcel, and the small moon created with Lunarcel and then distorted out of a circular shape with various distorting brushes. The city lights on the dark side of the planet were added by hand (by mouse?) The gas is a mixture of Flaming Pear Interstellar Gas and Flaming Pear Nebula, the distant galaxies in the upper left are from Flaming Pear Galaxy and the stars from Flaming Pear Stars.

    In spacescene02.jpg, I wasn’t happy with the look of the star, so I replaced it with a “Sun with Secondaries” flare from Genesis V2 Pro.

    In spacescene03.jpg, I put a couple of black circles over the star to suggest a “hot Jupiter” and large moon eclipsing the star and tweaked the asteroid/moon around the planet.

    The plug-in Flaming Pear Lunarcel allows you to customize the appearance of the planet (including the position of the day/night line) and save it as an image and has the ability to export the planet to a layered Photoshop file, with separate layers for the geography, the cloud layer, the city lights if you use those, and several other layers. I discovered that export feature only after making a world I really liked. That world has a large lake or inland sea that reminds me of the Mandlebrot set (it was land-locked, but I added a “river” or channel to connect it to the ocean) and would IMHO make a nice setting for a story. Unfortunately, I didn’t produce a layered Photoshop file for it, so all I have is a single image. I wanted that planet in spaceimage04.jpg, and since the lighting angle is different from the earlier images, I had to remove the star from the image. I also replaced the “asteroid” moon with the original undistorted version. I also added closer/brighter stars with rays using Flaming Pear Textured Stars. The Pleiades-like cluster of blue stars was made by creating a separate image with all blue textured stars, then cropping out an interesting grouping of them for this image.

    What makes this relevant to the mention of avatars (and not just a general tip) is that before I settled on the flexicalymene trilobite for my current avatar, I was considering using one based on spacescene04.jpg, which is spacescene05.jpg.

    (I’ve been playing around with designing a spaceship in Maya to go in the image, but that requires much more work and is still in progress.)

  40. Too late to edit, but in the descriptions of the images, I attribute Interstellar Gas, Nebula, Galaxy, Stars. and Textured Stars to Flaming Pear. They are actually all published by Universe, as I said in the filters list.

  41. Re commas and when to use them: It basically doesn’t matter, just as long as you’re relatively consistent. Use the Oxford comma or don’t use it; just make sure that you keep to the same convention. And proofread any sentences where the structure could lead to people misconstruing the information in “hilarious” ways.

    commas don’t misinform people; people misinform people.

  42. @Vasha : definitely interesting and definitely EW! I am happy to have it but still. I was definitely surprised at the gap between intro and that story.

  43. @ Tasha Turner
    Delighted to hear gall bladder surgery went so well. When I had it, everyone said that I could subsequently eat anything I wanted. I found that was true if I added “if you don’t care about the digestive havoc that may follow”. A few painful lessons showed me I had to change my diet, which I did, to the great benefit of my health. Best of luck with your recovery!

  44. Darren Garrison on April 28, 2016 at 7:35 pm said:
    Plug-ins by Flaming Pear: Solarcel and Lunarcel (used to produce close-up stars and moons/planets.)

    This looks fun. I’ve tried to get this to work with Affinity Photo for Mac – which claims to be able to run Photoshop Plugins – but with no luck 🙁

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