Pixel Scroll 8/2 Something Pixeled This Way Comes

It’s a party. It’s a dog party! But don’t drink the punch. That’s the advice in today’s Scroll.

(1) Well, that was brutal. HitchBOT the hitchhiking robot met its fate in Philadelphia.

The now-destroyed robot hails from Port Credit, Ontario. It completed a successful 26-day journey in 2014 in which it “traveled over 10,000 km from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia.” Then in early 2015, hitchBOT moved onto a 10-day German adventure, followed by a three-week jaunt in the Netherlands.

Three countries. Zero incidents. But once hitchBOT made it stateside, it didn’t even make it past the Mason-Dixon line before getting the wiring kicked out of him.

Buzzfeed linked to a vlog recorded in Philly made during hitchBOT’s final hours.

This video from YouTubers BFvsGF shows them discovering hitchBOT Friday night. The researchers said the vloggers are the last known people to have seen hitchBOT.

 

(2) Nichelle Nichols may wind up the Star Trek cast member who came closest to reaching outer space, all despite her recent health setbacks.

The actress who played Lt Uhura in Star Trek is to blast off on a mission for US space agency NASA aged 82 – and three months after suffering a stroke.

Nichelle Nichols, who has been an ambassador for NASA since portraying the groundbreaking character in the 1960s, will fly on the SOFIA space telescope in September.

While the telescope – housed in a specially converted Boeing 747 – doesn’t quite go to the final frontier, it makes it as high as the stratosphere, around 50,000 above the Earth.

(3) Numerous features of Pluto and Charon are being given names from science fiction and fantasy. Kowal Crater on Pluto, just north of the right side of the heart, is not named for Mary Robinette Kowal (which would have been cool), but rather Charles T. Kowal, who discovered a new class of object in the solar system (centaur asteroids, which cross the orbits of major planets).

Showalter told BuzzFeed Charon is the first solar system body to have features named after geography and characters from both Star Wars and Star Trek. Darth Vader got a dark rimmed crater, while Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker both got lighter-rimmed craters.

Doctor Who is well-represented. Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords in Doctor Who, is intersected, fittingly, by a chasm named Tardis, the Doctor’s time machine and space ship.

On the Star Trek side of things, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Lt. Uhura, Lt. Sulu, and the Vulcans all get shout-outs in Charon.

“We felt strongly as a mission team that we stood on the shoulders of giants,” Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, told BuzzFeed Science, and that they needed to “honor the missions and the engineers and scientists who figured out how to do space exploration, because we could have never pulled off New Horizons without their experience.”

(4) Some of you should plan on going to Pluto – in person! That’s Brad Torgersen’s recruiting pitch on Mad Genius Club today.

Okay, kids, wake the hell up. I know you’ve been sitting in those desks since zero-four-hundred, wondering what the hell is going on, but never forget that you volunteered to be here. Nobody is making you do this. If you want to, you can go directly out that door in the back of the room, call your mommy or your daddy to come pick you up, then go home to your comfy little beds . . . No?

Right. Good. Now, pay attention. This is your official inprocessing brief.

A few days ago, the New Horizons probe did a close fly-by of the (dwarf) planet Pluto. Did you see the news? The pictures? I know, Pluto kinda gets lost in the shuffle — what with all the politicized, hyperbolic, narrative-laden bulls*** they cram into your brains all day. If it’s not the snooze news, it’s social media — where the way you change the world is by clicking your mouse, then giving yourself a hug. Because you care so much. No, don’t bother denying it. You’re children of your era, I know that’s how the game works. Virtue-signaling. Slacktivism. Never get your hands dirty.

Well, be prepared to get some soil under your nails, boys and girls. Because Pluto is where we’re ultimately headed. And beyond. Not with robots. But with human beings.

(5) The Radchaai do not believe in coincidences, and neither does Lou Antonelli.

(6) Inside Out – How It Should Have Ended.

(7) Hugo voting has closed and here is John Scalzi’s valedictory to the Puppy movment.

It does seem to me that the all the Puppy bullshit ran down and out of steam there at the end; at a certain point there was nothing left to say, there was just the voting, and you voted or didn’t. The last bit of nonsense I saw from the Puppy environs was some of their nominees rage-quitting the Hugos and deciding to “No Award” themselves, and at least one of them saying that was the plan all along, because apparently when you have no idea what you’re doing, every outcome, no matter what it is, is a victory condition. At which point you just roll your eyes, pity the sad and meaningless sort of existence where being the turd in the punch bowl is a legitimate life goal for a presumably adult human, and move on.

Doesn’t “Floating in the punchbowl” scan about the same as “rolling on the river”? I won’t take that idea any farther…

[Thanks to Steven H Silver and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

292 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/2 Something Pixeled This Way Comes

  1. Here’s hoping the rest of MGC takes up Brad’s initiative and sets out for the Kuiper Belt.

    And also… first?

  2. Well my days of being unimpressed by Torgersen’s writing are certainly coming to a middle.

  3. I hesitated to reply to this but maybe I can help jump start a discussion…

    I hope I’m not out of line to mention here a WSFS amendment I just proposed:

    “To Amend the WSFS Constitution to make the eligibility time window for ‘specific work’ categories two years rather than the current one year, …”

    There’s been enough EPH discussion in these comments that I hope this is welcome, and not spamming, to campaign.

    It’s a great idea. We are suffocating under the weight of all these pixels – we need time to think.

    There is a danger. We are facing the rise of higher-octane-fueled campaigning, and this would give campaigns two full years to amass.

    Any compromise? An eligibility period from September to August?

  4. Thanks Brian, I forgot to reply to that post of Paul’s. I’ve posted my views in the previous Pixel thread.

  5. Read Theodore Beale’s rather thorough explanation of why “No Award” was really his preferred result all along, in spite of never saying it was, implying it wasn’t, and posting his own ballot which mostly did not include it.

    Anyway, I read that and came to a realization: he was probably one of those kids you’d run into on the playground while having fun and you’d zap him and say “got ya!” and he’d go “Nuh-uh, I had a zap-proof vest on this whole time!”

    Really hated those kids.

  6. Read Theodore Beale’s rather thorough explanation of why “No Award” was really his preferred result all along, in spite of never saying it was, implying it wasn’t, and posting his own ballot which mostly did not include it.

    …and explicitly asking his minions not to vote No Award, except in one category.

    Apparently, he still has hopes of RP nominees winning something. But RP minions and non-Puppies both voting No Award would be far too likely to result in what he now claims he wanted all along, so we can’t have that.

  7. Hey, nobody told me there was a character named Hugo Gernsback in Tomorrowland.

    1. You can’t get away from this even at a Disney movie. And
    2. That there’s a character named Hugo should not trick you into seeing this movie, which was thin at best.

  8. We could go through the whole list of works and substitute pixel or scroll the way we did with puppy etc. but I’m inclined to put a premium on phrases without pixel/scroll. Clever nonsequiturs. References to topics currently under discussion. See what strikes your fancy.

  9. Pixelmancer

    Scrollerlock

    Scroll My Tears, the Policeman Said

    Tom Swift and His Positronic Pixels

    The Pixels of Karres

    Midnight at the Well of Scrolls

  10. Crisis in Infinite Victories

    (I’m a mostly Marvel reader, but I gotta say, on average DC has historically had the better name for it’s mega cross-overs, the current spate of endles Crises notwithstanding)

  11. Beale appears to have confused Xanatos with a Jon Lovitz SNL character.

    “I was aiming for No Award the whole time! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

    Riiiight. Sure you were…

  12. I got as far as Punch Bowl of Heaven before realizing that we might do better to start riffing on the day’s hot topics… tomorrow.

  13. While you’re doing that tomorrow, Brian — you’ve admitted to being most worried for how novelettes will fare at the Hugos, seeing that you think they’re the life blood of the genre, and have said that your favorite novelettes of late have been “the Chinese ones.”

    Since you missed it when Ursula asked you in the 7/30 thread, missed it again when she asked you again in the 7/31 thread and apparently missed it again when I asked in the 8/1 thread, which Chinese novelettes have been your favorites? Anything you’d consider nominating in the Hugos, seeing as how you want more people to nominate stuff, and this is the form you’re most worried about?

    Since you care so much about SF and the Hugos and all.

  14. Since you missed it when Ursula asked you in the 7/30 thread, and missed it again when she asked you again in the 7/31 thread, which Chinese novelettes have been your favorites? Anything you’d nominate in the Hugos, seeing as how you want more people to nominate stuff, and this is the form you’re most worried about?

    Since you care so much about SF and the Hugos and all.

    Kurt, I do enjoy the idea of dancing when you fire your six-shooters at my feet, but I’ve got a bit more reading and thinking to do before I propose a 2016 ballot. If you are eager to catch up on your reading, though, thanks for giving me a chance to remind you of my recommendation of Hao Jingfang in these pages about a month ago – as well as more or less everything translated by Ken Liu. She’s a writer with a firm grasp of science and social observation, an exquisite sense of wonder, an infectious interest in a variety of forms and influences, and she’s clearly still refining her craft. I’d love to be able to read her novels. Meanwhile, “Folding Beijing” is tentatively penciled in on my draft ballot.

  15. Man, and it only took four tries!

    Maybe that other question people have been asking Brian to answer for even longer stands a chance!

    Hope springs eternal.

  16. Kurt: I believe I answered that particular question somewhere around July 8th – what a summer! – but thanks for playing. In the spirit of collegiality, though, and of shared love of LITRACHEWER, have any novelettes impressed you so far this year? If you name one or two I’d be pleased to go have a look at them – and feel free to have a look at Hao Jingfang and come let us know what you think. It hadn’t occurred to think of it this way before – and anyway she wrote her novelette long before “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” so the superficial similarity is pure coincidence – but she’s produced a veritable master class on how to improve on the work of Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

  17. I note to Mr. Torgersen, on the assumption that he’s reading, that a bunch of us liberals and lefties used social media to share around every scrap of info coming in from New Horizons, and to ooh and ahh over them with great enthusiasm, and to talk about all kinds of related stuff. Just as we’ve done with all preceding planetary encounters, and with ongoing missions. Because we love the exploration of the universe, and unlike some we don’t feel obligated to hide away from looking at (for instance) the actual conditions of our own planet’s climate, or lessons from it for other worlds and vice versa. Just so he knows.

    (For me it’s a family thing. I can turn my head to look at Dad’s retirement gift – a pair of bookends containing a bolt and nut from the old main dish at the Goldstone tracking station when they upgraded it to 70 meters. Dad designed ranging systems for the DSN, and so the direct descendants of his work helped make all those encounters possible. He was a World War II veteran (a photo-reconnaissance P-38 pilot) and a life-long Democrat, opponent of wars of choice, and supporter of the New Deal, a strong social safety net, and social justice, too.)

    I confess that I don’t actually feel any tearing zeal to go send people to Pluto. I approve of human presence in orbit (partly so they can oversee that evil terrible climate science), but there’s a lot yet to learn, I think, before it’s sensible to do much mission planning for long voyages. There was something to the mid-20th century vision of stepping stones, building on a stable orbital presence to reach the Moon again, and so on out.

  18. Brian, you’re dissembling again. You didn’t answer a question asked a few days ago before it was asked, so let’s not have another stupid dance as you tie yourself into knots trying to justify yourself. You didn’t answer Ursula’s question until asked four times, even if you’d mentioned a story in the past. But as long as you’re answering questions, even by time travel, how about that other one? I’m sure someone would be willing to link you to it again, since they’ve done it so often already to stony response.

    As for me, I haven’t made any notes about novelettes for next year at all — but then, I haven’t been the one claiming to be terribly worried about what will happen to them under EPH to the point of wishing to keep the category even more vulnerable than it would be under that system but apparently doing nothing to encourage the additional nomination participation you say is so crucial.

    I’ve read some short fiction — I read all the Tor.com offerings, and this and that else — but don’t recall offhand which of them are novelettes. That’ll give me more work to do when nominating next year, but at the moment it helps me meet current deadlines, so.

  19. Kurt Busiek: I’m dancing, I’m dancing! Fire away: please ask an honest, serious question, and let’s remember that we’ve been schooled by our cruel, heartless moderator about the proper care and feeding of trolls, the off-label use of prescription medications, and the unexpected consequences of holing up in old stone lighthouses when the fog rolls in.

    Which of the Tor.com offerings do you think may go on your Hugo ballot?

  20. Which of the Tor.com offerings do you think may go on your Hugo ballot?

    No idea, as yet. Just as I haven’t been taking notes about novelettes, I haven’t been taking notes about any other part of the ballot either.

    As for the question you’ve been dodging, it wasn’t my question. I’m typing on an iPhone at present, so I’m not going to scan through old threads to find it at present, but I expect someone’ll pop up with it later in the thread now that you seem willing to acknowledge it.

  21. I don’t actually believe you, Brian. I don’t disbelieve you either, but you’ve abused the idea of sincerity to the point that your assurances mean less than nothing.

    If I do mention stories I’m impressed by here, I’m sure there will be people interested. I just don’t think you’re interested in much beyond whatever stance you’ve temporarily adopted at the moment.

    Usually, when I’m impressed by a story I read online, I’ll mention it on Twitter and Facebook. Like Mary Robinette Kowal’s recent piece about the fairy tale “curse,” the name of which slips my mind. It wasn’t at Tor.com, though, maybe Uncanny?

  22. As for the question you’ve been dodging, it wasn’t my question. I’m typing on an iPhone at present,

    Well, I’ve also made a solemn promise to repent for my trollish ways. I’ll bend it for a valiant knight of your great stature, but at this point, let’s all try to contribute something fresh to the discussion.

  23. The two guards watched as the newcomer entered the arena. He’d been selected by popular acclaim as one of the only ones who might stand a chance going in at this point.

    “Who was that, then?” the first one asked.

    The other checked description on the schedule. “A swordsman. Duelist, it looks like. St. Vier.”

    “Who’s he going up against?

    “Let’s see … the archmage.”

    The first guard blinked. “I hope he’s a very good swordsman, then.”

    “Supposed to be the best.”

    “Well. I guess we’ll see.”

    The great doors slammed shut behind the swordsman with an echoing boom.

    BRACKET

    Part IV

    You may vote for either member of a pair, a tie, abstain, or vote for a work off the bracket entirely (any fantasy published up until 1999). Seeded works were given their own slot, then all other works were matched with them by random dice roll.

  24. 1. UNICORN VARIATIONS
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    2. THE DISPOSSESSED
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
    Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner

    3. FOOL’S RUN
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip
    Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

  25. 1. UNICORN VARIATIONS
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

    2. THE DISPOSSESSED
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
    I feel sorry for Swordspoint, but not enough to vote for it.

    Since there are going to be an odd number of survivors, is the next round where Lord of the Rings comes in?

  26. 1. Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    2. The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin

    3. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

  27. > “Since there are going to be an odd number of survivors, is the next round where Lord of the Rings comes in?”

    That’s one option. Another, which I’m currently leaning towards, is to make the next round a three-way match and bring out Tolkien for the winner of that one.

    I’ve avoided three-way matches in earlier rounds, but it makes more sense at the end when it would be the Battle of Three Titans. The problems I had with the three-way match in the sci-fi round wouldn’t be an issue in an all-finalist match.

Comments are closed.