Pixel Scroll 3/4/17 A Pixel That Scrolls For A Day, Replaced Next Morrow

(1) THE WEED OF CRIME. The Washington Post has an article by Rachel Weiner about Amil Chaudry being sentenced to nine years for identity theft, visa fraud, and money laundering.  Prosecutors said that Chaudry was part of a ring that charged $25 million on phony credit cards, and when banks challenged the charges used phony passports to back the claims.

“The scheme was uncovered in part because an FBI agent recognized actress Laura Vandevoort in one of these passports,” Weiner reports.  “The image was taken from a scene from the television show ‘V’ involving visas, authorities said.”

Vandevoort also played Supergirl in “Smallville” and Indigo in “Supergirl.”

(2) AN EVEN LISTIER LIST. Von Dimpleheimer has updated his ebook compilation of people’s lists of 2017 award recommendations. The latest version adds the File 770, Shadow Clarke, and SFWA recommendations and the finalists of the Asimov’s Readers’, Crawford, and Phillip K. Dick awards. JJ has approved his handling of the File 770 entry. The ebook is available as a free download.

(3) LEARN ABOUT AFRICAN SFF.  Geoff Ryman’s “100 African Writers of SFF” series continues at Strange Horizons.

Jennifer Nansubaga Makumbi

(An earlier version of this chapter was published at Tor.com in November 2016.) In Part Two of 100 African Writers of SFF, you’ll meet: a crime writer whose grandfather was a king—one who made a Western artist a priestess in the Ogun religion. A white South African anti-apartheid activist whose sister was tried under the security laws—and introduced him to the work of Joanna Russ. A Rastafarian from Zimbabwe whose experience of life under Mugabe has made him a free-market neoliberal. A South African rap/ jazz-rock star, illustrator, and author who models his look on the Wicked Witch of the West.

In Part Three of 100 African Writers of SFF, you’ll meet the editors of Cape Town: the people who make things happen. They include Constance Myerberg/Jenna Dann, co-founder of Jungle Jim; Kerstin Hall, founder of Luminous Worlds; Nerine Dorman, writer and editor of the anthology Terra Incognita; Ntone Edjabe, founder and editor of Chimurenga; and Rachel Zadok, a force behind Short Story Day Africa.

(4) BAD GUYS WHO WEREN’T VERY GOOD. Factory seconds from the comic book industry — The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains explores ill-thought comic book bad guys”.

Sometimes even comic greats can have terrible ideas — and in a fascinating new book, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Criminals from Comic Book History, author Jon Morris explores the history of ill-thought and sometimes laughable antagonists you’ve probably never heard of. Below, check out a few highlights, complete with captions Morris has written for EW exclusively, to get a sneak peek before The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains hits shelves on March 28.

For example:

MIRROR MAN Created by: Mike Sekowsky and an uncredited writer Enemy of: Captain Flash Debuted in: Captain Flash #1 (Sterling Comics, November 1954)

© 1954 by Sterling Comics

The courageous Captain Flash fought a surprising number of menaces in his abbreviated career, but none quite as deadly, implacable and likely to jump out of a medicine cabinet as Mirror Man. A silicon-starved, glassy nogoodnik from a malevolent dimension, Mirror Man comes to Earth to destroy its finest scientific minds. Why? It’s never explained, but at least it gives Captain Flash something to do while running out the clock on his short-lived series. Boasting the ability to disappear into any reflective surface, and to appear from any other, Mirror Man is one of the first alien menaces to make his initial salvo against Earth from the convenience of a men’s restroom.

(5) A FINE POINTILLIST. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Bob Mankoff, who is ending his tenure as the New Yorker’s cartoon editor in April.  Mankoff discusses how he created the Cartoon Bank to provide another income source for cartoonists and how he imagines his late mother being asked about his job and told, ‘They paid you for that?”

Since he became editor, “the biggest change was that cartoons, even of the very benign variety that appear in the New Yorker, now have great power to offend — at least among the easily offended, a class whose numbers grow even as I write,” Mankoff says. “Now, even Canadians take offense at being stereotyped as polite.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 4, 1952 — Ernest Hemingway completes his short novel The Old Man and the Sea. He wrote his publisher the same day, saying he had finished the book and that it was the best writing he had ever done. The critics agreed: The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and became one of his bestselling works.
  • March 4, 2017  — People read the above and demand to know why Mike is posting this item about a non-genre work.

(7) GONE BATS. Given enough time, critics will talk themselves into redeeming the irredeemable — “Why this ridiculous 1966 Batman movie is the most important Batman movie ever” by Greg Cwik in The Week.

You may look back affectionately on Batman’s innocently zany antics of the 1950s and early ’60s. But Batman was almost ruined by those robots and radioactive big bugs and kitschy toys and gimmicks and the definitely not-gay Bat-Family of Bat-Hound, Bat-Girl, Batwoman, Bat-Mite, and Mogo the Bat-Ape. Sales sunk. In fact, “they were planning to kill Batman off altogether” in 1964, said co-creator Bob Kane.

But then editor Julius Schwartz took over, and tried to save the comic by eradicating the Bat-Family. He was aided by artist Carmine Infantino, who redesigned Batman to be “more realistic.” Sales went up. But ironically, it was another gimmick-laden endeavor that truly rescued the Dynamic Duo: the Adam West-starring camp comedy Batman, which premiered in 1966, the year Kane retired.

Batman fans, particularly Frank Miller acolytes, like to say West’s show and movie “ruined” Batman. Actually, the parodic depiction made Batman a cultural icon after a decade of mail-in toys and cynical strategies. It presented a starkly different kind of Batman, at once refuting Wertham’s provocations while slyly embracing them through its ostensible innocence.

A genuine fad, the show and movie came and went in 26 months. But its influence altered the legacy of the Caped Crusader. The movie, which came out July 30, 1966, was the first official Batman movie since the serials of the 1940s. A generation of television viewers and moviegoers, unfamiliar with Kane and Bill Finger’s brooding detective (Batman killed people — by noose, by gun, by defenestration) now knew Batman only as a campy crusader with painted-on eyebrows and a syncopated delivery that sounds, to modern ears, like a lascivious cross between William Shatner and Jeff Goldblum. The juxtaposition between Walter Cronkite’s 1968 Vietnam expose on the dinnertime news and Burt Ward yawping, “Holy Diversionary Tactics!” must have been dizzying.

(8) BEAU OF THE BALL. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard will appear in Game of Thrones.

According to Ken Davidoff at the New York Post, Syndergaard filmed his cameo in Spain in November when he had some free time after the Mets were eliminated from the postseason in the NL Wild Card Game.

“They just know that I’m a fan and they invited me to do that,” Syndergaard told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. “I couldn’t say no.”

(9) NERDS IN HELL. Nerds of a Feather is launching an ambitious series on dystopianism in SF/F that will continue for the next two months.

This series, conceived of as a sequel to Cyberpunk Revisited, seeks to explore questions of what dystopianism is and what purpose(s) it serves. What are the tropes and conventions of modern dystopian fiction? How have dystopian visions evolved over time, both in terms of approach and theme? And what do dystopian visions about the points in time and space in which they are written?

Equally, we will ask questions about why we like to read about dystopias. Is it possible that we even find them comforting, and if so, why?

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we will consider dystopianisms’s complex relationship to its forebear, utopianism. We will explore works where dystopianism serves to negatively define utopia, as well as those where dystopia and utopia are presented side-by-side. Just how essential or intrinsic is the concept of utopia to that of dystopia?

We will explore these and other questions through a series of essays and dossier-style reviews, including of works not commonly associated with dystopianism, but which present dystopian themes. Our dossiers will have the following subheadings:

Filetype: whether the work under review is a book, film, game, etc.

File Under: whether the work presents a statist, stateless, fantasy or hybrid-form dystopia.

Executive Summary: summary of the plot.

Dystopian Visions: discussion of dystopian themes/content present in the work.

Utopian Undercurrents: whether and to what degree the work’s dystopianism underlies a utopian understanding of politics, society, etc.

Level of Hell: a quantitative rating of how terrible the presented dystopia is, from first to ninth—with an explanation of the rating.

Legacy: the importance of the work in question within its field.

In Retrospect: an editorial commentary on how good/not good the work is, from the vantage point of 2017.

Interspersed with these dossier reviews, we and a selection of guest writers will explore how to contextualize dystopia and dystopianism within literature and other media, as well as the moments in time and space when it has surged forward into popular consciousness.

(10) ACTING WITHOUT THE ACTOR. What if Leonard Nimoy’s Spock could be digitally resurrected for appearances in future productions of the Star Trek franchise? Here’s what Adam Nimoy has to say about it at CinemaBlend.

Adam Nimoy, who directed the 2016 documentary For The Love Of Spock that focused on his father, made this admission to Trek Movie.com, insisting that he wouldn’t have a problem with seeing his dad up on screen again as Spock. He also admitted that he was blown away by what Rogue One had achieved with Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher. Adam Nimoy remarked,

Yeah I think it’s an interesting idea. I loved what they did in Rogue One. I thought it was pretty clever, and I was blown away by it, frankly. All of the stuff that Peter Cushing was doing was mind-boggling to me. I’m a sucker for that stuff. I think it should certainly be explored, but I’m not the final arbiter as to whether it’s going to happen, but I think it’s a great idea, personally.

There’s every chance that an opportunity to resurrect Leonard Nimoy, who died back in 2015, as Spock could present itself in the near future. As the question was being posed to Adam Nimoy, the interviewer explained that Star Trek: Discovery will take place a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series, during which time Spock served under Captain Pike on the Enterprise.

(11) THINKIN’ UP SH*T. This reminds me of Bruce Willis’ line in Armageddon about what he assumed NASA spent its time doing. ASU’s workshop where “AI Scientists Gather to Plot Doomsday Scenarios (and Solutions)” is covered by Bloomberg Technology.

Artificial intelligence boosters predict a brave new world of flying cars and cancer cures. Detractors worry about a future where humans are enslaved to an evil race of robot overlords. Veteran AI scientist Eric Horvitz and Doomsday Clock guru Lawrence Krauss, seeking a middle ground, gathered a group of experts in the Arizona desert to discuss the worst that could possibly happen — and how to stop it.

Their workshop took place last weekend at Arizona State University with funding from Tesla Inc. co-founder Elon Musk and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Officially dubbed “Envisioning and Addressing Adverse AI Outcomes,” it was a kind of AI doomsday games that organized some 40 scientists, cyber-security experts and policy wonks into groups of attackers — the red team — and defenders — blue team — playing out AI-gone-very-wrong scenarios, ranging from stock-market manipulation to global warfare.

Horvitz is optimistic — a good thing because machine intelligence is his life’s work — but some other, more dystopian-minded backers of the project seemed to find his outlook too positive when plans for this event started about two years ago, said Krauss, a theoretical physicist who directs ASU’s Origins Project, the program running the workshop. Yet Horvitz said that for these technologies to move forward successfully and to earn broad public confidence, all concerns must be fully aired and addressed.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Von Dimpleheimer, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/4/17 A Pixel That Scrolls For A Day, Replaced Next Morrow

  1. (7) Gone Bats–

    I’m fond of that movie, mostly because my life can frequently be summed up with the line, “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”

  2. Not frozen!

    This despite outside temperature of 7° Fahrenheit, feels like -8°, and two little dogs whom I taught, possibly in a fit of insanity, that they need to do their pottying outside.

    So, maybe third, if someone isn’t typing faster than me.

    Really liked Call of the Herald:Dawning of Power, by Brian Rathbone. I mean, I could list its flaws at length, and will at least mention them in my review, but it’s just a really likable book.

  3. Not genre?!? I distinctly recall that shark had a laser beam…

    (Major third?)

    (Nope. Surrendering that honor to Lis. Sacrificial fourth!)

  4. (6) TODAY IN HISTORY

    I’ve got $5 that says Hemingway is an old buddy of yours from a fanzine APA.

  5. @ Nancy. Yup, that one line makes that movie palatable for me (and of course the entire absurdity of poor Batman carrying that bomb, looking for somewhere, anywhere to dispose it).

  6. JJ: I’ve got $5 that says Hemingway is an old buddy of yours from a fanzine APA.

    I made that crack pre-emptively because the reason I included the item is I remembered reading the book in high school.

    A trufan, however, would put in some smoke and mirrors connecting this to Joe Haldeman’s Hugo-winning “The Hemingway Hoax.” Like I just did. 🙂

  7. Mike Glyer: A trufan, however, would put in some smoke and mirrors connecting this to Joe Haldeman’s Hugo-winning “The Hemingway Hoax.” Like I just did.

    I toldja I was just a baby slan. I’ve got The Hemingway Hoax somewhere about halfway up Mount Tsundoku. 😀

  8. (11) I worked with Eric Horvitz when I was at Microsoft, and he’s a great guy. When I wanted to go back to school and get a Master’s degree, he vouched for me with the University of Washington. It’s nice to see him being the voice of reason at an AI conference.

  9. My favorite villian was Earth – IIRC it was Flash Gordon who battled Earth. Earth fought against mankinds abuse. It was a take on the Gaia hypotheses. Earth was killed.

  10. ‘Is there anyone there?’ said the Pixeler, knocking on the moonlit scroll.

  11. 7:

    like a lascivious cross between William Shatner and Jeff Goldblum.

    . That is freakin perfect!

    I rode that fad. Emptied my piggy bank to buy a whole box of the collector cards with two “giant” posters printed on their backs! learned for the first time in memory that words coming out of parent’s mouths may not mean what you think they mean: “when we said that was your money to spend any way you wanted, we didn’t mean to waste it all on Batman cards!”. I think we got 3 or 4 complete sets plus some for trade. My friends all got complete sets…mine ended up in the fire place.

    By the time the feature film hit the theaters, it was all over…that film took too long to get into the theaters. Instead of being cool and campy, it was just plain stupid.

    I remember no dissonance caused by watching Walter K and then Batman, and I know I must have because I was a big news hound back in those days.

    Holy Pixels, Scrollman!

  12. (11) and when they burn out from thinking up all that sh*t, they can go to Normal Head, from “Normal” by Warren Ellis. Read that recently and it was a mind-bending ton of verbose profane fun. Where “fun” is the end of the world as we know it.

  13. Standback on March 5, 2017 at 10:44 am said:

    FYI, Rabid Pups have begun to bay.
    My office has released the following vital press release:

    “Meh.”

    can confirm: “meh”

  14. Apparently there’s an oversight in JJ’s list of Eligible series. (Or maybe not. Seems to have only two parts.)

    Otherwise… joining the choir of Meh.

  15. re: mehs

    Wow, is that ever a busted balloon…or a whipped puppy. (And, of course, the inevitable admission that Rules Changes Have Consequences.)

  16. Not-at-all-meh: I went to see Hidden Figures (it’s only been on UK release for a couple of weeks) and enjoyed it immensely. I probably can’t add much to earlier discussions but good story, great performances, clearly an excellent Dramatic Presentation and worthy of recognition as such.

    @Dawn Incognito

    Hey, I’m not the only person to have read that now! I mentioned it here. I think it probably had a bit too much of an overwhelming flow of ideas to stop and put them together properly, but a fun ride.

    @GiantPanda

    I’d suggest that if we spot any apparent flaws in the Masterplan we keep quiet about them until it’s too late.

    (4) BAD GUYS WHO WEREN’T VERY GOOD

    Seems appropriate today 🙂

  17. Even as only sometimes poster here “Meh”. I think we can ignore the rapids pretty much that year.

  18. I suppose the Rabid Puppies (or at least one of them) are more worried about the Left being controlled by Witches** than with the Hugo awards this year.

    **No, seriously. If you can stomach it, go visit Mr. Wright’s blog. Witchcraft.

  19. I guess that VD and JCW have not yet gotten tired of being No Awarded. Apparently some people just can’t get enough humiliation.

    Fifth meh.

  20. @Giant Panda: seems that Teddy has trouble with 3 as well as 5.

    “I am a Beale of Very Little Brain, and big numbers Bother Me.”

  21. Mark: I’d suggest that if we spot any apparent flaws in the Masterplan we keep quiet about them until it’s too late.

    Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if Filers didn’t help the Rabid Puppies out in that way this year?

  22. @JJ

    I guess that VD and JCW have not yet gotten tired of being No Awarded. Apparently some people just can’t get enough humiliation.

    Depends on your definitions though doesn’t it? I don’t think Rabid Pups has ever actually been about winning. It’s about marketing. Even more particularly: marketing a 7th rate publishing house as an edgy culture warrior dojo worthy of financial support from the alt-right. Heck if he were to win how ever could he rally the troops and scream SJW oppression?

  23. 2017 Rabid Squirrels Hugo Slate

    Novel: There Will Be Walrus, by Timothy The Talking Cat
    Novella: A Cat Reviews La-La Land, by Timothy The Talking Cat
    Novelette: The Cat Equations, by Timothy The Talking Cat
    Short Story: The Thermodynamic Model for Distinguishing Fictional Science from Fictional Magic, by Timothy The Talking Cat
    Series: Book Cover Award Thing 2016, by Timothy The Talking Cat
    Related Work: The Squirrels Do All The Work Survey, by Timothy The Talking Cat
    Professional Artist: Timothy The Talking Cat
    Fanzine: Timothy The Talking Cat’s Blog
    Fan Writer: Timothy The Talking Cat
    John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Timothy The Talking Cat

  24. JJ: 2017 Rabid Squirrels Hugo Slate

    Whew! It’s a good thing I got out before the kitchen got too hot!

  25. @JJ

    I’m sensing a theme to that list, but I just can’t put my finger on it…

  26. Hang on, did I miss a There Will be Walrus novel? I greatly enjoyed The First Volume 5 anthology, for with Timothy surely deserves a nomination as Editor, Short Form.

  27. nickpheas: Hang on, did I miss a There Will be Walrus novel? I greatly enjoyed The First Volume 5 anthology, for with Timothy surely deserves a nomination as Editor, Short Form.

    Let’s not tip TTTC off to any ineligible entries, shall we?

  28. While scrolling through the barks and bays
    In a dreary dreary state of meh
    I was taken by surprize
    By a slate of roguish ayes
    The talking cat my poor heart has stole away

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