Pixel Scroll 3/7/17 I Will Play The Wild Pixel No More

(1) NEW SCIENTIST’S NEW REVIEWER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum who is now writing a column for New Scientist.The first installment discusses three space operas: Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, Joe M. McDermott’s The Fortress at the End of Time, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: Home.

At the moment we are inundated with intriguing, often envelope-pushing space opera, and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is exemplary. Where most space opera, acknowledging its icy origins in Last and First Men, exists at a chilly remove from humanity, The Stars Are Legion is fleshy and messily organic.

(2) NAMIBIA. From the BBC, “The astonishing vision and focus of Namibia’s nomads”. Some of these names will ring a bell if you read Binti. The article analyzes whether people’s response to optical illusions is a cultural artifact.

Nestled in a grassy valley of north-eastern Namibia, Opuwo may seem like a crumbling relic of colonial history. With a population of just 12,000, the town is so small that it would take less than a minute to drive from the road sign on one side of town to the shanty villages on other. Along the way, you would see a hotchpotch collection of administrative offices, a couple of schools, a hospital and a handful of supermarkets and petrol stations.

For many of the people living in the surrounding valley, however, this small town is also the first taste of modern life. The capital of the Kunene region, Opuwo lies in the heartland of the Himba people, a semi-nomadic people who spend their days herding cattle. Long after many of the world’s other indigenous populations had begun to migrate to cities, the Himba had mostly avoided contact with modern culture, quietly continuing their traditional life. But that is slowly changing, with younger generations feeling the draw of Opuwo, where they will encounter cars, brick buildings, and writing for the first time.

How does the human mind cope with all those novelties and new sensations? By studying people like the Himba, at the start of their journey into modernity, scientists are now hoping to understand the ways that modern life may have altered all of our minds. The results so far are fascinating, documenting a striking change in our visual focus and attention. The Himba people, it seems, don’t see the world like the rest of us.

(3) WEIN OUT OF SURGERY. All those well-wishes and prayers did some good for Wolverine co-creator Len Wein. Sent from his Twitter account after he came out of the ICU —

(4) LONE WOLVERINE AND CUB. Daniel Dern sent along a mini-review of Logan:

A man re-unites with the daughter he hadn’t known he had, and they take a road trip, discovering shared interests en route.

Way bloody violent, but no infrastructure (e.g. NYC bridges) damaged. A

nd preceded by a Deadpool squib.

(5) EASTER COMES EARLY. “All the hidden eggs, ties  to ‘X-Men’ and more in ‘Logan’” from Good Morning America.

It goes without saying, spoilers ahead, don’t read if you haven’t seen the film!

Wolverine’s past as a cage fighter seen in 2000’s “X-Men” — When he gets angry, Charles brings up how the team took Logan in all those years ago, when Logan was lost and fighting for money. Hard to believe that was 17 years ago, and since then, we’ve not only had multiple films, but duplicate versions of Sabretooth, Professor X, Storm and Magneto, among others.

(6) K.O.’D. And for those of you needing a memory-jog, CheatSheet lists “10 Marvel Characters Who Have Defeated Wolverine”. First on the list –


Who can win in a fight between invincible fighters? Both Wade Wilson and Wolverine are blessed with healing powers that have made their many face-offs truly unpredictable. Each hero (or anti-hero?) has won his fair share of fights. But in one memorable instance, while Wolverine’s healing abilities were still recovering from an encounter with Magneto, Deadpool outlasted his handicapped opponent, and eventually defeated him by stabbing his lungs with a sword

(7) MYTHCON GUESTS. Mythcon 48 will celebrate 50 years of the Mythopoeic Society with the help of two newly announced GoHs:

The Mythopoeic Society and Mythcon 48 are pleased to announce that William Fliss, Archivist at the Marquette University Special Collections and Archives, and Laura Schmidt, Archivist at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, will be our Guests of Honor for this very special conference. Mythcon 48 will be held July 28-31, 2017, in Champaign, Illinois. The conference theme is All That Is Gold.

Gold in fantasy:

  • Greed for gold:
  • Tolkien’s dwarves and gold lust, economic systems in fantasy and fantasy gaming
  • Gold as a color: color symbolism in fantasy and heraldry
  • Gold as an element: gold and other fantastic elements and materials like mithril, octarine, meteorite metal, unobtanium, or the list of semi-precious gems in Tolkien’s “Errantry”…
  • The Golden Age: in fantasy and myth, of fantasy as a genre

Digging for Gold in the Archives:

  • Primary and secondary materials about the Inklings and other fantasy authors in the archives at Marquette University, the Wade Center, Oxford University, and other locations
  • Fan material and society archives
  • Materials in collections at the University of Illinois, especially the Center for Children’s Books
  • Archives, libraries, writing, and research IN fantasy

(8) A SUCCESSFUL BOOKSELLER. Detroit Bookfest has a long interview with the owner of “John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit, internationally voted one of the World’s Best Bookstores!”. It’s just full of anecdotes like this —

“When we can, we try to shake each book to see if any stray ephemera falls out. Sometime in the late 1980’s, our employee Tom Schlientz was shaking out a book one day and some Mark Twain photos fell out. These ended up being personal unpublished photos that were taken by Twain’s friend. The photos featured Twain riding in a wagon with a little girl and a horse. They were taken sometime around the turn of the century in Hartford, Connecticut. We sold the photos.”

(9) PUT THIS ON YOUR MEDIEVAL RADAR. Steven H Silver heard that Michael Flynn would like more people to be aware Medieval Science Fiction edited by Carl Kears and James Paz and published in 2016 by Boydell and Brewer, an academic press in the UK. The site where it can be downloaded requires registration for a “one month trial account” — here – and I don’t know how many fans are going to want to do that.

(10) THE TOOLKIT OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION. Young Neil Gaiman was sure he could lift it — “Looking for Thor’s Hammer: Neil Gaiman On ‘Norse Mythology’”.

Neil Gaiman was 6 years old when he first met the Norse god Thor — although he wasn’t the red-bearded hammer-slinger of legend. “Marvel. Marvel’s Thor came first,” he says. “I was reading the reprints of Marvel’s Thor in an English comic called Fantastic. … Dr. Don Blake found this stick in a cave, banged it down and transformed into Thor, and the stick transformed into the hammer.” Gaiman says he spent a lot of his first decade looking for likely sticks, “just on the off chance that they might the Thor stick, and might transform into a mighty hammer. But none of them ever did.”

Not long after that, he picked Roger Lancelyn Green’s classic Myths of the Norsemen to learn more about his favorite characters — and found himself fascinated by a vision of Asgard that was nothing like Marvel’s sci-fi space palaces. “It was a bunch of huts with a wall round them. Thor was now red-bearded, irritable, muscly, zooming around the sky in a chariot pulled by goats, and not necessarily the brightest hammer in the bag.”

(11) FOLDING MONEY. A story at ecns,com, the official English-language website of China News Service, mentions the Hugo — “Hugo Award winner Hao Jingfang releases interactive fiction” – while publicizing the author’s new non-sf work.

Hao Jingfang, who won the last year’s Hugo Award, has released a piece of interactive fiction she composed with five other authors in Shanghai.

The story,”The Beginning of Han,” was uploaded to an interactive literature website qiaobooks.com late last week. It cost 9.9 yuan (about 1.4 U.S. dollars) to read.

With 400,000 characters, it is about Liu Bang, founder of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). Through different option, readers can find their way to nearly 50 endings.

“Interactive literature is increasingly accepted by readers,” Hao said. “While we are talking about different possibilities, we acquire new knowledge.”

Hao won the Hugo Award with “Folding Beijing” in the category of best novelette at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention. She plans to donate the gains from the new fiction to a welfare project in Tibet.

The writer said she is interested in an earlier dynasty, the Qin (221 – 207 BC), and did not rule out the possibility of writing another interactive fiction based on that history.

(12) CAMPBELL OBIT. William Campbell (1920-2017) has passed away, reports Andrew Porter. Campbell was a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, the creator of the “Weird-ohs”, “Silly Surfers”, and “Frantics” plastic model kit series for the Hawk Model Company, which were popular in the early 1960s.

(13) COMIC SECTION. In Soonish, a character finds the safest place to announce his shameful secret: “Moonshot”.  

(14) WHAT TO SAY? Theodora Goss, in “Writing in Troubled Times”, says she’s been finding it difficult to write for social media.

I’ve never found it this hard to write before. Oh, I’m writing . . . I have a book due, and I work on that! I’m working on it as fast and hard as I can. But I’ve always found it easy to write, and to write all sorts of things. Now, all I want to do is work on the book, which allows me to go in deep, to disappear into another time and place, to spend time being my characters rather than myself. All I want to do is escape into my own writing. Not communicate.

Perhaps the problem is, I don’t feel as though I have any particular wisdom to offer.

The sorts of problems I see in the news, I can’t fix, and have no fix for. I’m not the right person to tell you, call your congressman. Yes, call your congressman, but what I write about, what I think about, are deeper systems of values. I write about trees, and rocks, and birds. I write about fairy tales. I write about schools for witches. My writing is about what we should value, about the deeper magic of life. Not political positions, or not immediate ones, although I think politics infuses my writing. How could it not, when I was born behind the Berlin Wall, when my parents lived through 1956 in Hungary, when my grandparents lived through World War II? It’s always there . . . but I have little of value to say on current legislation.

(15) FORERUNNER. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one reason we have a Best Dramatic – Short Form Hugo. But its impact was far greater than that — the BBC says “We should thank Buffy for today’s ‘Golden Age of television’”.

But Buffy had another destiny as well – as the harbinger of the current ‘Golden Age of Television’. When the show premiered in 1997, it seemed at worst a joke, at best a novelty destined for a short life. Instead it contained the seeds of a startling number of trends to come for the medium. Of course, Buffy was a watershed moment for the portrayal of young women on television, giving us a witty, smart heroine uniquely equipped to do no less than save the world. And it brought vampires back well before the age of Twilight. But it also innovated in more artful ways: combining fantasy and grounded realism in a way that prefigured everything from Alias and Lost to Jane the Virgin and the many superhero shows we have today; displaying a postmodern self-consciousness that’s ubiquitous in current programming; and experimenting with the form of television itself via a silent episode and a musical episode. In short, Buffy showed us what television could do, and was about to do.

(16) TONGUE TWISTERS. John Boyega raises suspicions that star gibberish will make a comeback in the next Star Wars movie — “John Boyega Hints ‘The Last Jedi’ Carries On ‘Star Wars’ Tradition of Making Actors Wrestle With Awkward Dialogue”.

Judging by star John Boyega‘s latest tongue-in-cheek Instagram post (see below), the tradition of saddling its actors with serious mouthfuls of sci-fi-speak promises to continue with The Last Jedi, this winter’s highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s The Force Awakens:


(17) BRINGING BOOKS TO THE UNSUSPECTING. Well, I guess we all do that. But we don’t all get on TV. Emma Watson tells about her work as a “book ninja” on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

(18) HELP UNWANTED. It was one thing for Hermoine to help Harry and Ron with their homework, and quite another to help Dan and Rupert with their lines. Kimmel razzed Watson about an embarrassing habit she had as a kid, as illustrated in an old outtake of her shooting a scene for Harry Potter.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mark-kitteh, Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

136 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/7/17 I Will Play The Wild Pixel No More

  1. And this one wouldn’t fit in a single tweet:

    Among the world-girdling fortifications of a planet distant indeed from star cluster AC 257-4736 there squatted sullenly a fortress quite similar to Helmuth’s own. And then the murders began.

  2. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Then the murders begun.

  3. Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? And then the murders began.

    Disturbingly appropriate for the Fifth Season.

  4. nickpheas: And what’s a “Five year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before” if not an arc?

    That’s a theme — or as we know now (the term not having yet come into vogue in 1966) a mission statement.

    There’s no story arc in the original Star Trek.

  5. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend
    of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
    Howth Castle and Environs. And then the murders began.

    … not quite seeing it, to be honest.

  6. “A screaming comes across the sky. And then the murders began.”

    Nope. Not buying it.

  7. To boldly go where no man has gone before.
    And then the murders will begin.

    (Thats basicly “Star Trek for psychpaths”)

  8. “We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. “The wildlings are dead. And then the murders began.”

    Hmmm, you might have a point.

  9. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. And then the murders began.”

  10. @Heather Rose Jones:

    Yeah, it’s not a new problem in any way; Snorri Sturlasson had to grapple with it himself, when he wrote the Prosaic Edda in the 13th century. What I think is new is however that a writer like Neil Gaiman acts with both great reach, and in an environment where many of the myths he is interpreting are less well known, and where we are far more removed from the original context and values expressed in them.

    I get eg the impression from reviews that Gaiman is expressing Tor as a buffoon and a near simpleton, which is very far from how the people living here in the 10th century viewed Tor. (In a way, I have less trouble with Marvel’s interpretation, since it’s so very far removed in every way from the original known myths).

    @Mark, regarding Voyager, Star Trek, et c: Yeah, to me there is a difference between an arc (which is basically a plot that lasts over several different installments) and a framing (like “getting home” in Voyager). The arc has an internal and interdependant structure, the framing can be filled with just about anything.

  11. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. And then the murders began.

    There was a razorstorm coming in. And then the murders began.

    I always get the shakes before a drop. And then the murders began.

    seems legit!

  12. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel And then the murders began…

    ETA: Ninjaed by clif.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. And then the murders began…

    And now I imagine Mr. Darcy, the serial killer, taking out Mrs. Bennett and other mothers trying to marry off their daughters to him.

  13. All this happened, more or less. And then the murders began.

    The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel

    So a really really bright blue? 😀

  14. Scrolls, the pixels unfurled. And then the murders began.

    Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. And then the murders began.

  15. “I get eg the impression from reviews that Gaiman is expressing Tor as a buffoon and a near simpleton, which is very far from how the people living here in the 10th century viewed Tor.”

    On the other hand, it was kind of close to how tales from my schoolbook described him and Peder Madsen showed how great that interpretation can be in his comic Valhalla.

  16. Before the sun burned, before the planets formed, there were chaos and the comets. And then the murders began.

    Not too bad.

  17. Cora, given all the Austen pastiches out there, i suspect that’s a book someone have already written.
    (I just checked P&P&Zombies, it starts with “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of a brain must be in want of more brains.” I think a “And then the murders ..”-version would have been a stronger start.)

    The body lay naked and facedown, a deathly gray, spatters of blood staining the snow around it. And then the murders began.
    She was going to die because of the rutabagas.
    And then the murders began.
    Once upon a time, there was a boy born with frost in his eyes and frost in his heart. And then the murders began.
    Also, in tribute to Meredith, let me mention that Angry Robot Books are having a sale of books by female authors. Not sure for how long, may end at midnight GMT which is approaching.

    (My new years resolution of staying away from book sales, and to not buy books unless I have an immediate plan to read them, is going poorly.)

  18. I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army. And then the murders began.
    (Old Man’s War)

  19. Just to be contrary I’m trying to think of some first lines that already contain a murder, but I’m not feeling very clever today…

    “Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him. And then the murders began.” (Brighton Rock)

    “Not everybody knows how I killed old Phillip Mathers, smashing his jaw in with my spade; but first it is better to speak of my friendship with John Divney because it was he who first knocked old Mathers down by giving him a great blow in the neck with a special bicycle-pump which he manufactured himself out of a hollow iron bar. And then the murders began.” (The Third Policeman)

  20. There had been something loose about the station dock all morning, skulking in amongst the gantries and the lines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint. And then the murders began.

    Kinda changes the whole feel.

  21. @Johan P

    The Angry Robot sale is excellent, thank you for mentioning it. Includes brand new books from Kameron Hurley and Alex Wells for a mere pound.

  22. His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before. And then the murders began.

  23. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. And then the murders began.

  24. Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. And then the murders began.

    That pretty much does describe that story.

  25. A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. And then the murders began.

    (Dune — Frank Herbert)

  26. “I get eg the impression from reviews that Gaiman is expressing Tor as a buffoon and a near simpleton, which is very far from how the people living here in the 10th century viewed Tor.”

    We’ve got very little in the way of sources about how the people in the tenth century viewed the Aesir, since what there is was actually written down by thirteenth century Christians.
    I don’t have something to quote immediately to hand, but the closest I can think of is an incident in the Vinland Sagas where one of Lief Eriksson’s crew sacrifices to the Red Bearded God to celebrate their arrival in the New World, and is immediately struck down by did paining, much to the amusement of the followers of the White Christ.

  27. The sun touched the end of the bay, the end of a good day. And then the murders began.
    (Tracker, C J Cherryh)

  28. NickPheas: and is immediately struck down by did paining

    I’m not parsing that at all. #damnyouautocorrect

  29. Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
    Law is the one
    All gardeners obey

    And then the murders began.

  30. @ BGrandrath: Or, “Imagine if The Pride of Chanur had been written as a murder mystery.” I’d read that remix!

  31. Cora: And now I imagine Mr. Darcy, the serial killer, taking out Mrs. Bennett and other mothers trying to marry off their daughters to him.

    And Then There Were None by Jane Austen.

  32. Marley was dead: to begin with. And then the murders began.

    The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. And then the murders began.

    The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. And then the murders began.

    Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it. And then the murders began.

  33. Psych and Psychopathy

    I was thinking that David Copperfield would work for this murder meme, but you’d have to add it after the first two sentences. Well, Dickens did tend to go on.

    Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. And then the murders began.

  34. But dare we cross the conversation streams? –

    Wild was Vingthor when he awoke,
    And when his mighty hammer he missed;
    He shook his beard, his hair was bristling,
    As the son of Jorth about him sought.
    And then the murders began.

  35. “Evelyn Couch had come to Rose Terrace with her husband, Ed, who was visiting his mother, Big Momma, a recent but reluctant arrival. And then the murders began.”

    @Greg Hullender – Oh darn, darn, darn! I was eagerly reading through, thinking “nobody’s done Genesis yet, nobody’s done Genesis yet…”

    @Darren Garrison – that’s the opening to Nightwatch, right? I just finished that book. It’s currently my favorite Discworld novel. Man, the series hit a critical mass for me somewhere around Hogfather, to the point that I’m sad I only have 15 more books and stories to go before it ends.

    Currently reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I had the paperback years ago (but never read it, as I’m very procrastinatory about non-fiction), at least if it’s the same book – it was titled X, but I couldn’t find that one, so I assume the title was changed to make it more searchable in digital age.

    Not sure where I’m going after that. I’ll probably start in on a novel before I finish my current read, as it’s pretty long and I know I’m going to want a little escape. May head toward the Xeelee.

  36. This explains a lot about why it took me four tries to get going on Anne of Green Gables.

    Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof. And then the murders began.

  37. @Darren Garrison – that’s the opening to Nightwatch, right?

    Yep. I wished that the book after Nightwatch, The Wee Free Men (you reading that now?) would fit: “Tiffany Aching was lying on her stomach by the river, tickling trout. And then the murders began.” Sadly, there was a brief prologue before that scene.

  38. The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the third age by some, an Age yet to come, an age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning. And then the murders began.

  39. And what’s a “Five year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before” if not an arc?

    A premise. The mission.

    Calling it an arc is like calling “to protect and serve” an arc. Or “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

  40. kathodus on March 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm said:
    It had the longer title when I met it, back in the late 60s. I’d describe it as worth reading.

  41. “At the far end of town
    where the Grickle-grass grows
    and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows
    and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…”

    And then the murders began.

    The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

  42. Anna Nimmhaus has entered the tournament —

    In 1815 Monsieur Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne.  And then the murders began.

  43. Wait, wait! I’m contributing editor again! I seem to be on some kind of roll here. Scroll that, all you pixlies!

  44. Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. And then, the murders began.

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