Pixel Scroll 11/28/16 As Some Day It May Happen That A Pixel Must Be Found, I’ve Scrolled A Little List

(1) NOM DE GLOOM. Turns out nobody will ever voyage to Alpha Centauri – because the astronomical equivalent of the post office has given it a change of address – “Alpha Centauri Gets a New Moniker as 227 Star Names Are Clarified”.

Alpha Centauri” is getting the boot. The longstanding star name has been displaced by its ancient counterpart in a new International Astronomical Union (IAU) catalog that designates 227 official names for different stars in the sky.

The move was intended to reduce confusion, according to the IAU. For instance, a star like Fomalhaut has at least 30 different names, so it’s difficult to figure out what to call it — or even how to spell it. Variations over the years have included Fumalhaut, Fomalhut and even the unusual Fomal’gaut.

The IAU, which is the official arbiter of astronomical names, chose single names to refer to those stars that have historically had many. Some of the decisions may rattle longtime observers, however. For example, the binary star Alpha Centauri, which lies 4.35 light-years from the sun, is now known officially as “Rigil Kentaurus,” the ancient name for the system.

(2) WHELAN ART PROJECT. Michael Whelan has a Kickstarter going for a new book with Baby Tattoo. The book is being published to coincide with an exhibition of Michael’s art at the Riverside Art Museum in Southern California in February.

It’s actually done very well already – the target was $10,000, and $54,056 has been raised with 22 days to go.


(3) DON’T SPOON FEED THE AUDIENCE. Misha Burnett made a good point in a comment at Mad Genius Club.

I think that “overbackstorying” is one of the signature literary sins of our age. During the after-film discussion with my roommate after we had we had seen “Dr. Strange” the subject came up of filmmakers not trusting audiences to pick up on subtleties.

I can just imagine a remake of “Citizen Kane”.

“Come in now, young man–you can’t stay out there with your new sled, which is called ‘Rosebud’ all day!”

“But I love my new sled, which is called Rosebud! No matter what happens for the rest of my life, this will be the moment I’ll remember on my deathbed!”

(4) YOU CAN TALK TO THE HORSE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY OF COURSE. Fantasy Faction reposted Aaron Miles’ insightful article “A Question of Technology”.

How fantasy elements interact with technology is another aspect of worldbuilding to consider. Necessity is the mother of invention, the creation of a tool to aid in a task. But when you have characters that can make it rain at will, it seems pointless to dig ditches for irrigation. Does your world have magical solutions instead of technological ones, how prevalent is magic and its availability in solving daily problems? The opposite can be true as well, does your world have technological solutions to magical problems? Has a castle population built giant net launchers and long range crossbows to help defend themselves from dragon attacks? Perhaps they’ve developed fire resistant armour and building materials. This is an example of the necessity point in action, it’s human nature to try and counter a hostile force. In a world ruled by magic users, perhaps a resistance has created mechanical devices that negate their powers; maybe your heroes need them to complete a quest?

The level of technology in your work can influence the plot and what kind of solutions the writer can present to their characters. Is a character sick or injured? Is there a medical cure, it is easily available or a rarity? What about travel, does your world have domesticated horses, are there paved roads that allow them to make good time?

(5) WISHLIST OF A FAN’S DREAMS. Corrina Lawson made a list of “Fictional Presents We’d Love to Receive This Holiday Season” for B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Translation Microbe (Farscape) Lots of translation devices pop up in science fiction universes, including the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but you have to stick that leech-like thing in your ear. Ew. The Translation Microbe from Farscape also has to be sent into the body (via injection), rooting itself at the base of the brain. But it’s painless, aside from the initial injection, and there’s nothing living in your head. As for Star Trek‘s universal translator? That’s a machine that can be lost or destroyed, and you don’t want to be caught out as a stranger in a strange land.

(6) ATKINS OBIT. Lon Atkins (1942-2016) has died. Guy Lillian III sent this tribute about the legendary fan.

Lon Atkins, lost either yesterday or just this morning, was a titan in our Southern fannish world. His Rebel Award, his Fan GoHship at the DSC, were beautiful if finally inadequate reflections of his contribution to our early days as a regional fandom and our growth into the vibrant and important segment of SFdom we’ve become.  He was Official Editor of SFPA for four years and kept it going through its slimmest days.  His fabled battles at the Hearts table with his great frtiend Hank Reinhardt were not only legendary, but entertaining, helping to build the sense of community that marks the region and its game.  He did the best apazines — the best-written, the best-reproed, the most comprehensive — I have ever seen.  And he was a gentleman.

I am lost in regret.  Lon was a mentor and a model for how a good man conducts himself in science fiction fandom.  MELIKAPHKAZ forever!

(7) JIM C. HINES RESUMES FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS. He took a few days off for the holiday, but Jim C. Hines today is taking bids on an autographed, personalized series from Sherwood Smith.

Welcome back to the third of 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions.

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.

Auction number three is for a personally autographed hardcover set of either the  INDA or DOBRENICA series, by author Sherwood Smith. Sherwood is also willing to personalize the books if the donor wishes — doodles, notes about something they’re interested in on the text, etc.

(8) FOR THOSE WHO COULD NOT MAKE IT IN PERSON. The exhibit ended its local run yesterday, and will be moving on to other cities. Steve Weintraub has done his best to show Collider readers what they missed — “Over 150 Pictures from the Cool & Unusual ‘Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters’ LACMA Exhibit”.

As you’ll see in the pictures below, not only will you notice things from his films like Cronos, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and Crimson Peak, you’ll see the 1907 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, original Moebius artwork, original comic book pages from Alan Moore’s From Hell, concept art from films like Walt Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, James Cameron’s Aliens, Drew Struzan’s poster for Pan’s Labyrinth, his love of all things Dracula, Frankenstein, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, and so much more.

Since most people will never be able to check out the At Home with Monsters exhibit, while walking around I took a ton of pictures. Even though I snapped over 150 high-resolution pics, trust me when I say I didn’t come close to capturing everything there and if you’re near the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Minneapolis Museum of Art when the exhibition opens in either city, I strongly suggest stopping by and seeing it for yourself.

(9) WORLD FANTASY PROGRAM. From Tor.com we learn that the 2017 World Fantasy Con is gathering program ideas. The convention’s theme is Secret Histories – The Use of History in Fantasy. Use their online form.

(10) THE MAGICIANS ON SYFY. This is no fantasy. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians returns for Season 2 on January 25.

(11) THE HOLE YOU SAY. Cards Against Humanity raised over $100,000 on Black Friday by broadcasting a video of a giant hole and asking its users to throw the money in!

This has raised a lot of questions in NPR’s newsroom, some of which Cards Against Humanity endeavored to answer on its site:

What’s happening here?

Cards Against Humanity is digging a holiday hole.

Is this real?

Unfortunately it is.

Where is the hole?

America. And in our hearts.

Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?


What do I get for contributing money to the hole?

A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?

Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?

Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Is the hole bad for the environment?

No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.

How am I supposed to feel about this?

You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.

How deep can you make this sucker?

Great question. As long as you keep spending, we’ll keep digging. We’ll find out together how deep this thing goes.

(12) JONATHAN LIVINGSTON YODA. CinemaBlend makes sure were there when a “Star Wars Bad Lip Reading Video Turns Empire Into Hilariously Funky Seagull Song”.

The folks at Bad Lip Reading have produced some stellar videos over the course of the last few years, but this one might actually be their magnum opus. Reimagining Luke Skywalker’s time with Yoda on Dagobah, the video follows the mismatched pair as the ancient Jedi master sings to a clearly annoyed Luke. Using the speech of the Yoda puppet as a template, the video features a voiceover that replaces the wise teachings of the alien warrior with utter nonsense about seagulls, logs giving birth to sticks, and getting hit in the neck with a hacky sack. It’s undoubtedly one of the weirdest Star Wars related videos that we have ever seen on the Internet, but it’s also that weirdness that makes it so utterly awesome.


[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Guy H. Lillian III, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/28/16 As Some Day It May Happen That A Pixel Must Be Found, I’ve Scrolled A Little List

  1. (1) NOM DE GLOOM. Just to confuse me?! They didn’t rename Proxima; why rename Alpha? Oh well, it’s centaur either way, fortunately. 😉

    (2) WHELAN ART PROJECT. He is still one of my favorite artists. 🙂 BACKED!


  2. Chinese newspaper Global Times has an interesting piece on Hao Jingfang from 25 November, talking about reception of Folding Beijing’s Hugo win in China among other things. Certified puppy free.

    (Sorry if this was already covered and I missed it!)

  3. 1)Rigil Kentaurus? hmm. The line from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about “real furry creatures from Alpha Centauri” still has the same cadence, but I suspect I am going to be resistant to this change.

    Also, I suspect that Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri would not have sold anywhere near as well if it was called Sid Meier’s Rigil Kentaurus

  4. In a scroll in the ground there lived a pixel.
    The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to pixelate all its contents.
    Hwæt! Wé Filena in pixelscroll

  5. 1) I’m inclined to think this is a bit of a non-issue, given that a) Alpha Centauri has always been known alternatively as Rigil Kentaurus (well, for a good number of centuries, at least), and b) it’ll still be the brightest star in Centaurus, so the term “Alpha Centauri” will still be accurate and applicable. I guess it will only affect official publications, really. Stars have always had a multiplicity of names – some of them Arabic names which don’t easily transliterate into the Roman alphabet, which is probably where all the variant spellings of “Fomalhaut” come from.

  6. I suspect Rigil Kentaurus will be a name like Apatasaurus – official but not widely used, while the more popular Brontosaurus and Alpha Centauri live on.

    I wonder why they went with Rigil for “foot” here, when the better known Rigel in Orion is spelled with an ‘e’.

  7. See earlier point about Arabic names not always transliterating consistently into Roman characters… for further details, just consult the late Colonel Gaddafi. Qadaffi. Khadaffy. Whatever.

  8. Well, sure, but the point of picking one “official” name is to settle on a standard. Yet here they choose Rigel in Orion and Rigil in Centaurus?

  9. Well, if they try to change that name, the inhabitants of Rigel II, III, IV, V, VII, X and XII will be down on them like a ton of bricks. And that’s just from “Star Trek” alone. (If memory serves, didn’t Rigel have 26 inhabited planets in Jack Vance’s Demon Princes series?)

  10. 4) want to see how it’s done? (with a heaping helpful of mixing and comparing magic and science thrown in for free)

    Read Larry Niven & David Gerrold’s novel The Flying Sorcerers/The Mispelled Magishun.

    No cheating – see if you can identify all of the SF personalities hidden in there.

  11. Is the IAU soon going to tell me that I need to called David and not Stever, like 80% of my coworkers do? Give me a freakin’ break. By the way, I’m still calling Pluto a planet; it’s what we refer to as ‘common usage’, and so is Alpha Centauri.

  12. @Soon Lee

    Psst, when is it ok to post Christmassy stuff?

    Not until the Pixel of Scrolls Future has made it’s appearance.

    (Or is it The Scroll of Pixels Future?)

  13. Rigil K. was Alpha Centauri.
    Now it’s Rigil K, not Alpha Centauri.
    Been a long time gone, Alpha Centauri.
    Why did Alpha Centauri get the off?
    That’s nobody’s business but the profs!

  14. Now we can all argue on how to pronounce the g in Rigil!
    Some say soft, some say hard. I say we pronounce it “Tyneside.”

    For God’s sake, let us blog upon the web.
    And file sad columns of the scroll of pixels.

    (And, for the sake of convenience, let’s take it as read that I have just repeated all my anecdotes about the 2000 production of “The Mikado” at CNU. Ta.)

  15. The Yule Goats smaller brother has received a promotion. The brother has been created by Swedish high school students and is usually placed at a distance from its bigger sibling. It will now take its brothers place with the same surveillance.

  16. I just misread Lis Carey’s comment as “I do not accept the rearming of Alpha Centauri.” Too much recent reading about interstellar politics and war I guess.

  17. The profs had to admit they were wrong on brontasaurus/apatasaurus.

    I sympathize on Pluto, but really, Pluto has always been a Kuiper belt object, and always will be.

    I say we pronounce Rigil “Alpha.”

  18. [Ticky tock you don’t stop!]

    Will you still need me
    Will you still scroll me
    When I’m pixel-four?

  19. I do not accept the renaming of Alpha Centauri.

    Make Alpha Centauri great again!

    (Sorry, its all I could do on such a short scroll)

  20. 2) I love Whelan. His work is excellent and he’s one of the better artists in the sense that his covers are fairly informed by the work itself.

  21. Just to be absolutely clear, I absolutely support the rearminig of Alpha Centauri. I am shocked, shocked that StephenfromOttawa would suggest otherwise! As Peer Sylvester says, make Alpha Centauri great again!

  22. Lis Carey, but… but.. .but… what about the re-legging? Sure, let Alpha Centauri have arms, but, you know, CENTAURS. Four legs are already two too many!

    (Two legs good; four legs bad…)

  23. Raised a simple engineer on a software farm in a village on old Earth, Niall is caught up in a wild interstellar adventure when it is revealed that he is the last heir of the Rearminig of Alpha Centauri!

  24. #1: aw. This time, unlike the prolonged brontosaurus/apatosaurus brouhaha there can’t be any confusion about what’s referred to — which makes me wonder whether they tried to determine how widely used each of the alternates was (especially when I see that “Vega” was unchanged — is that really the oldest name?).

    @James Davis Nicoll: The authors created a non-human primitive society with major inequality, then blew it up; I’m don’t see that as “horrible treatment”, although it might need trigger warnings for victims of abuse (and maybe colonialism). Even calling it “competence porn” is a stretch.

    Links of possible interest:
    NPR on the Webb Space Telescope “some assembly required”: video of assembly-in-space via a link in the story.
    The BBC lists things other than asteroids that could have caused mass extinctions — interesting summary if you’re not current on latest thoughts.
    BBC reports early research on why astronauts vision changes. tl;dr: excess CSF buildup; how to deal with it to be researched.
    The Natural History Museum of London (via BBC) shows its top wildlife photos for this year, including (wrt a previous thread) a turkey confronting its reflection in a car door (scroll ~halfway down, or search for “turkey”)

  25. (3) As with most comments about “our age” versus the good old days, this one cherry-picks outliers to a ludicrous degree to make its point. CITIZEN KANE did not resemble other movies of 1941, and audiences of the time didn’t like it nearly as much as critics did; it’d make more sense to compare it to one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s less crowd-pleasing works like THE MASTER, not to DOCTOR STRANGE. I’ve seen only one (I think) of the top 22 US box-office hits of 1941, but I’m going to take a wild leap and say that maybe they were not so full of subtle storytelling.

    (Honestly I didn’t think the expository dialogue in STRANGE was particularly bad, so maybe I’m just a debased inhabitant of “our age” with no standards. If you want some incredibly clunky redundant exposition, though… I just started watching PERSON OF INTEREST, which was discussed here a little while ago, and hoo boy. I have it from reliable sources that this show got 1,000,000 times better after the early episodes, and I sure hope that’s true. They’re constantly saying things like “You have to stop Badguy– he knows that Goodguy is the only one who knows about Secret, so he’s going after Goodguy! To keep him quiet! By killing him!”… after we learned the same thing twice prior to the last commercial break.)

  26. OBTW: the science.com page linked to in #1 came close to hanging my Firefox; this was probably partly due to high Kaspersky activity checking all the crap the page was pulling in, and partly due to my keeping open way too many tabs — but my load went way down once I dismissed it. Normally I open links in separate tabs and let them load while I continue reading; I wouldn’t advise that for this page. (I’ve had issues before, but usually not when the browser has only been running a couple of hours.)

  27. Be a Lert, your star system needs Lerts!

    Centauri is mis-splet even before the IAU got at it, as “Cenaturi ” in the first line of “Nom De Gloom”.

    (Moose wanders off to appertain a Double Chocolate Stout.)

  28. Scene: a group of brontosauruses standing round an ftl drive.
    “Ok we strap this thing onto Pluto and then fly that bad-boy all the way to Alpha Centauri”
    They all try to hi-five and fall over .

  29. For those of us slowly and cheaply making our way through Simak’s works, Volume 8 in Open Road’s “The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak” series – Goodnight, Mr. James: And Other Stories – is on sale at Amazon (US) for $1.99.

    Also, I suspect this will make certain Filers happy:

    (I suspect most of us are seeing these news links pop up right about the same time, but figured I’d bring it up anyway)

  30. Was the site down for the last half hour or so, or was it just me?

    Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s Christmas season yet*, but apparently it’s Award Eligibility Post season already.

    *(Duck season! Wabbit season!)

  31. Mark: Was the site down for the last half hour or so, or was it just me?

    It was mostly down for me, too.

    Tor.com linked to my post about Impersonations and WJW’s Praxis universe in their weekly newsletter (!) which I received a few hours ago. I don’t know if that’s why, but it seems like a good guess.

    Never mind being Slashdotted. We’ve been Torked. 😉

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