Pixel Scroll 10/2/17 The World Will Always Welcome Pixels As Time Scrolls By

(1) HERALDRY. The former astronaut, now Governor General of Canada Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, has an official Coat of Arms.

Arms

A symbol of exploration and liberty, an open wing embodies our desire to reach higher and expand our horizons. As with birds protecting their young, the wing also conveys the strength and safety of family ties. Moreover, it represents Ms. Payette’s career as an aviator and astronaut. The Royal Crown symbolizes the viceregal office and service to all Canadians.

The astronaut’s helmet represents the never-ending quest for knowledge, a quest that extends beyond the frontiers of the known world.

(2) FEATHERED FRIGHT. Chloe N. Clark begins a new series of posts for Nerds of a Feather with “HORROR 101: An Introduction to Fear”.

Welcome to Horror 101. This will be an ongoing series of essays about the horror genre: from analysis about the elements of horror to using monster theory to in-depth looks at individual works of horror….

So as a writer and reader I loved what horror could give me. As a teacher and scholar, though, I wanted to look under the hood. I became interested in exploring how horror operates on a level of mechanics as well as how it operates as a means of communicating ideas. What was the rhetorical value of horror? After studying monster theory, a fairly new form of critical study that looks into monsters and horror from the analytical perspective, I began to think even more deeply about the value of monsters and using them both in writing and in teaching. I’m lucky to teach at a university that allows me to shape my composition courses and this allowed me to create a class that teaches multimodal composition and communication through the theme of Monsters. Monsters are a fun way to get students thinking about much deeper issues. By exploring the ideas of monstrosity, we’re able to look at acts of othering and monstering that permeate history: racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the list goes on. My students began to pick up on these ideas and tropes in various media they consumed. They realized it wasn’t just a “genre” thing as they could point to the language of othering and monstering in the speeches of politicians.

(3) INKY AWARDS. The winners of the 2017 Inky Awards were announced October 2. The award recognizes achievement in young adult literature, with nominees and winners selected by voters under the age of 20. Some of the shortlisted titles were of genre interest, though it’d be a stretch to say that about either winner.

The Gold Inky for Australian titles went to Words in Deep Blue, and the Silver Inky for international titles to Radio Silence..

(4) WHAT A LOAD OF BOVRIL. The Royal Albert Hall website, in a 2016 post, claimed to have hosted the first sff convention in 1891 — “5-10 March 1891: Bovril and the first ever Sci-Fi convention, at the Royal Albert Hall”. It was a fancy-dress ball for charity, that’s all.

Widely regarded as the first ever sci-fi convention, the ‘The Coming Race’ and ‘Vril-Ya’ Bazaar and Fete was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 5-10 March 1891.

This costumed fund-raiser was themed on a 1871 science fiction novel, The Coming Race by Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in which the Earth is threatened by the ‘Vril-ya’. This superior and winged master race find the source of their power in ‘Vril’ – a latent source of energy akin to electricity. The Coming Race was a pioneering publication of the sci-fi genre, and extremely popular in popular culture in the 1890s.

In the model of modern comic-cons, visitors were encouraged to come in fancy dress, filling the Hall with various ‘Coming Race’ characters and generally ‘exotically’ costumed fans of the book; many donned wings. The character of Princess Zee, from the novel, was played by a young lady wearing a black satin dress and silver flower tiara that glowed with electric lights.

With Vril-ya architecture having been described as similar to that of ancient Egypt, Sumeria and India, the Hall was bedecked in flowers, palm leaves and ferns. A grand ‘Pillar of the Vril-ya’ was erected in the arena, modeled on Cleopatra’s Needle. Vril-themed magic shows, a fortune telling dog, musical entertainment and grand feasts were held in the auditorium, while winged Vril-ya mannequins flew above….

(5) DIEHL OBIT. The founding editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Digby Diehl, died September 26. With many publishing credits as a reviewer, he also wrote celebrity bios and a history of EC Horror Comics series Tales from the Crypt. He was 76.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 2, 1959The Twilight Zone premiered.
  • October 2, 1976 Ark II aired “The Robot.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 2, 1895 – Bud Abbott, whose resume includes Abbott and Costello Go To Mars (1953).
  • Born October 2, 1906 – Willy Ley

(8) COMICS SECTION.

This is sick humor I tell you, John King Tarpinian — today’s Off the Mark.

(9) PRAISE FOR BARDUGO. NPR’s Jason Sheehan approves of Leigh Bardugo’s The Language of Thorns: “‘The Language Of Thorns’ Will Ensnare You With Dark Magic”.

Good fairy tales balance sweetness and nightmares. They are candy apples with razorblades inside; kisses touched with poison. Bad ones are nothing but sweet. They coddle and muffle and take all the sharp, dangerous edges off of the dirty business of learning important lessons in a world that’s rarely as nice as we want it to be. The bad ones sing Careful what you wish for and Sometimes pretty isn’t as important as smart with choruses of cute mice and bluebirds. But the good ones don’t end before there’s blood on the knife.

The good ones understand that scars are the best teachers.

(10) CURRENT EVENTS. NPR considers, “Winter Is Coming. What If Roads And Runways Could De-Ice Themselves?”.

Starting in 2002 and working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, he ran a five-year test on a 150-foot-long bridge near Lincoln, Neb. He says a 208-volt current running through electrodes kept the bridge free of ice during 15 major snowstorms at the “amazingly low” operating cost of about $250 per storm.

The conductive concrete involves adding steel fiber and carbon to the concrete mix, he says. While regular concrete costs $120 per cubic yard, the conductive concrete costs $350-$400 per cubic yard. But in the long term, Tuan says the conductive concrete means fewer de-icing chemicals in the ecosystem, and concrete that lasts longer and costs less to maintain.

(11) FAST FORENSICS. A practictioner discusses the “The computers being trained to beat you in an argument”

It has long been the case that machines can beat us in games of strategy like chess.

And we have come to accept that artificial intelligence is best at analysing huge amounts of data – sifting through the supermarket receipts of millions of shoppers to work out who might be tempted by some vouchers for washing powder.

But what if AI were able to handle the most human of tasks – navigating the minefield of subtle nuance, rhetoric and even emotions to take us on in an argument?

It is a possibility that could help humans make better decisions and one which growing numbers of researchers are working on.

The next thing they’ll need after that is a computer that knows what to do when humans ignore their superior arguments – Facebook should give them lots of practice.

(12) STILL NEWS TO THEM. Geek Girl Con managed to produce a bubble in time – Galactic Journey filled it — “[Oct. 2, 1962] Women of Washington, Unite!  (The Seventh Geek Girl Con in Seattle)”.

Ah, Geek Girl Con.  Every year, Seattle’s clarion call of intellectual feminine fandom calls us to attend Washington’s signature science fiction/fantasy event.  It is an intimate (but growing) gathering of sff devotees with a fascination for things both creative and technical.

This year, as with last year, the Journey was invited to speak on the last 12 months in fandom, and boy did we have a lot to relate.  From coverage of Marvel Comics’ slew of new superheroes to a report on this year’s Hugo winners, and with a special piece on the woman pioneers of space exploration, our four panelists ensured that our several dozen attendees left educated and excited.

(13) CUFF INFO. Kent Pollard tells his plans for moving the Canadian Unity Fan Fund history to a new home.

The cometedust.ca website hasn’t been used for anything else in half a decade, and the hosting has become pointless for me. rather than have it drop off the net completely, I’m going to transition the pages into a blogger account. the domain name itself is sufficiently inexpensive that I will retain it and point it that blog when I can (The Canadian Internet Registration Authority being privacy-aware requires all .ca domains to have private whois information, which must be manually removed before Google will accept a transfer of the name control.) The existing site will function for an un-defined period. Eventually (I hope), cuff.cometdust.ca will point to cufffanfundery.blogspot.ca. for the moment, users can go directly to that blog if they are seeking old info about the Canadian Unity Fan Fund.

(14) DIVING AGAIN. Kristine Kathryn Rusch told fans today that WMG just published the latest Diving novel, The Runabout. “Also, I finished the next novel in the series. That’ll appear next year, but bits and pieces of it (as well as a standalone novella) will start appearing in Asimov’s in 2018.”

The Runabout

A Diving Novel

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A graveyard of spaceships, abandoned by the mysterious Fleet thousands of years earlier. Boss calls it “the Boneyard.” She needs the ships inside to expand her work for Lost Souls Corporation. Yash Zarlengo thinks the Boneyard will help her discover if the Fleet still exists.

Boss and Yash, while exploring the Boneyard, discover a small ship with a powerful and dangerous problem: the ship’s active anacapa drive.

To escape the Boneyard, Boss must deal with the drive. Which means she’ll have to dive the ship on limited time and under extremely dangerous conditions. And she can’t go alone.

(15) FISHLIPS. Is this a threat or a promise? The Verge reports “Big Mouth Billy Bass will soon work with Amazon Alexa”.

The tacky-but-classic Big Mouth Billy Bass will soon be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa assistant, according to Business Insider. This means the fish will be able to pair over Bluetooth and then lip sync and dance when music plays. I’m sure this is just what you all wanted: a connected, dancing silicon fish.

In case you didn’t know —

The Big Mouth Billy Bass is a classic of novelty shops and Wal-Marts, designed to sing “Take Me To The River” or “Don’t Worry Be Happy” when its motion sensor is activated. There’s no built-in microphone, so presumably Billy is running off some off-camera offboard microphone.

 

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

35 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/2/17 The World Will Always Welcome Pixels As Time Scrolls By

  1. Episode 3 of ST:D worked much better for me as a pilot than the actual pilot did! It introduces the actual series, the premise, lays the foundation.

    Still a bunch of stuff bugging me. But I did really enjoy the introduction to all the new characters. Burnham gives them a sharp provocation to respond to, and I like how they all respond to her in different ways. It’s the beginning of, well, relationships and dynamics. And the dynamics they’re seeding here look like interesting ones.

    In general, the character writing here is miles better than the pilot’s bombastic dialogue, where every line felt like naked exposition and plot-forcing.

  2. Standback on October 2, 2017 at 10:54 pm said:
    Episode 3 of ST:D worked much better for me as a pilot than the actual pilot did! It introduces the actual series, the premise, lays the foundation.

    This is exactly what my wife and I said when we watched it last night.

    For me the sinister/mystery aspects are more of an interesting contrast with previous series than the pew-pew-pew jihadi Klingon angle, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

    The science is a bit cringe-y, but that’s Star Trek I suppose.

  3. Standback on October 2, 2017 at 10:54 pm said:

    Episode 3 of ST:D worked much better for me as a pilot than the actual pilot did! It introduces the actual series, the premise, lays the foundation.

    I agree – the first two episodes were more of a prologue. Still, they gave Michael’s encounter with the Discovery crew more emotional weight.

  4. @Camestros:

    Maybe?

    I’m really annoyed at the whole bit with (ROT13:) Oheaunz’f abgbevrgl, gur jnl rirelobql’f fnlvat “Oheaunz fgnegrq gur jne”; gung’f n evqvphybhf rknttrengvba. (Zber yvxr: “Gur _Xyvatbaf_ fgnegrq n jne, naq Oheaunz qvq fbzrguvat ernyyl onq gung unq onfvpnyyl ab nssrpg ba gung.”)

    In general the pilot fell really flat with me, particularly in terms of emotional effect. Trying to lean on its events will still work for me, but on its emotion — not so much.

  5. Yes, I found Ep 3 working a lot better. Basically, I just pretended that Burnham’s character had been coherently established in 1&2 and it all went much more smoothly. That’s not to say it was up to Trek standard yet – the episode spent a lot more time on introductions and didn’t really conclude much. Also, of all the directions they were going to go, I wasn’t expecting Unys Yvsr.

    @Standback

    Arire haqrerfgvzngr bhe pncnpvgl gb cvpx naq crefrphgr fpncrtbngf.

    —-

    On the subject of Episode 3’s, I watched the latest of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, #3 “The Commuter”, and it was the first one to genuinely impress me on all levels. It really got PKDs ability to leave you profoundly disturbed about reality. (Also, featuring the excellent Timothy Spall as the lead never hurts.)

  6. @Mark: True enough, but I’d like it to be presented as such. I think everybody’s just accepting [n snyfr aneengvir bs riragf, vapyhqvat Oheaunz urefrys]. Without framing it, it looks like either cheap angst and/or a cheap “revelation” later on.

  7. I definitely started to warm to Discovery over episode three. Captain Lorca, who is obviously barking mad, should drive the show in interesting directions.

    @Standback: Univat fnvq gung G’Xhizn’f qrngu jbhyq znxr uvz n znegle naq fgneg n jne, Oheaunz gura fubg G’Xhizn. Fb, jryy, vg vf nyy xvaq bs ure snhyg, n ovg. (Cbbe vzchyfr pbageby frrzf gb or bar bs ure punenpgre synjf – gubhtu fur nyfb frrzf gb or yrneavat sebz ure zvfgnxrf, juvpu vf tbbq.)

    @Mark: I liked “The Commuter” rather a lot. Timothy Spall fits my mental picture of “a typical Dick protagonist” rather better than Harrison Ford or Arnold Schwarzenegger did. The whole Electric Dreams thing seems to be a serious and respectful take on Dick’s stories, possibly slightly handicapped by budget (the twenty extras pretending to be a riot in the first one, for instance) and by a slow pace… which is the same problem (IMO) they had with the Jeremy Brett version of Sherlock Holmes: the production, scripts and performances were impeccable, it’s just that many of the stories weren’t actually substantial enough to fill a one-hour time slot.

  8. @Standback

    True, there’s nothing to frame it as such. I think I’m just accepting that I’m going to have to do a lot of the work myself in this series!

    @Steve Wright

    A British series limited by its budget? Surely not!

    I’ve decided to read the shorts after seeing each episode. They seem to be picking stories that had a central idea that PKD didn’t flesh out very much, and then fleshing/spinning them up to an hour of TV – which is probably better than cutting down, I suppose. Ep 2 just sort of bulked up the existing narrative and added a rather waffy explanation, but Ep 3 totally reskinned the story and added an extra element that really lifted it. Spall sold the whole thing despite the slow pace.

  9. (11) – This is how the Meme Wars started in John Barnes “One True”/”Resuna” universe (yikes!)

  10. @Steve Wright:

    > Univat fnvq gung G’Xhizn’f qrngu jbhyq znxr uvz n znegle naq fgneg n jne, Oheaunz gura fubg G’Xhizn. Fb, jryy, vg vf nyy xvaq bs ure snhyg, n ovg.

    V jbhyq svezyl pbagraq vg’f gur “snhyg” bs jubrire gubhtug gung n tbbq ahzore bs crbcyr gb whzc, cunfref noynmr, vagb na rarzl irffry shyy bs shevbhf Xyvatba jneevbef, naq pncgher gurve pbzznaqre nyvir,

    jbhyq or GJB

  11. @Mark:

    True, there’s nothing to frame it as such. I think I’m just accepting that I’m going to have to do a lot of the work myself in this series!

    Well, for me, willingness to do work myself is really an issue of trust.

    It’s kind of whether you’re assuming the writers and producers did a generally good job (but missed a spot) or are just leaving gaping holes ‘cuz they aren’t able or willing to do any better than that.

    When within two episodes, you have a list of flubs that includes:

    * [tbvat ba n pevgvpny pbzong zvffvba jvgu gjb crbcyr, bar bs jubz vf pheeragyl hafgnoyr]
    * [nggrzcgvat gb zhgval jvguva gur 60-frpbaq fcna gung n areir-cvapu nccneragyl nyybjf, jvgubhg nal nggrzcg gb shegure vapncnpvgngr gur crefba]
    * [Xyvatbaf irel irel natel ng gur Srqrengvba sbe nffvzvyngvat gurz gbb zhpu, onfrq ba bar uhaqerq lrnef bs univat ab pbzzhavpngvba jungfbrire jvgu gurz]
    * [Oheaunz havirefnyyl abgbevbhf nf n zhgvarre jub fgnegrq gur jne, rira gubhtu ure zhgval *snvyrq* naq qvq *abguvat* gb fcnex gur jne, naq abobql frrzf gb zragvba va jung jnl gurl *qb* guvax fur jnf gur fcnex]

    …then I don’t feel like I’m nitpicking, or headcannoning a few gaps. I feel like the production is just telling me what I should be feeling (“Excitement! Now Sorrow! Now do Angst!”) and expecting me to turn my brain off for the duration :-/

  12. @4: And here I thought “vril” came from some unmemorable post-WWII novel (possibly Bradley’s The House Between the Worlds?). I wonder if the author knew of the prior use?

    trivia to go with @7: Ley’s Hugo (IIRC one of the hood-ornament trophies) is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s big-things annex (officially the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center). It’s out by Dulles Airport instead of on the Mall, but well worth a visit.

    @11 typo (repetition): A practictioner discusses the “The …

  13. @Chip: The wikipage for “Vril” notes that “Bovril”‘s name is a reference to “Vril”!

  14. Self-deicing roads: While we were in Iceland, we took the “Golden Circle” tour that included the big geothermal plant, where they told us that many of the streets and sidewalks in Reykjavik have pipes running under them with hot water from the geothermal sources; this keeps the streets clear of ice in the winter.

  15. Some sf fans may be disappointed to learn that those are lynxes on the coat of arms, not Hani.

    Some people may be confused about the role of the GG. The position is a hold over from the olden days, when communication and travel was much slower. The GG acts in the monarch’s stead when she* is not in Canada, which is almost always. Basically, the GG is Rick Jones (or Billy Batson) to the Monarch’s Captain Marvel.

    Traditionally, the two never appeared together at official functions. This rule was waived in the aughts, just another of the several plausible dates for Canadian independence**.

    * The monarch is almost always a woman. Occasionally a man gets in but then we get stuff like WWI, the Great Depression, a soft-on-nazis King and WWII.

    ** Off the top of my head:1867, 1931, 1939, and 1982 can all be defended as dates on which Canada crept ever closer towards independence. Oh, and whatever date it was our rules of succession were decoupled from the British.

  16. James Davis Nicoll on October 3, 2017 at 8:37 am said:

    Basically, the GG is Rick Jones (or Billy Batson) to the Monarch’s Captain Marvel.

    That line really should be in every Canadian civics textbook.

  17. The GG acts in the monarch’s stead when she* is not in Canada, which is almost always. Basically, the GG is Rick Jones (or Billy Batson) to the Monarch’s Captain Marvel.

    Or Lord Auditor Vorkosigan to the Monarch’s Emperor Gregor (with the difference that the GG is responsible for a particular _place_ when the Monarch isn’t there, while the Lord Auditor is responsible for a particular _situation_ while the Monarch isn’t there.

    P.S. “Ramans Scroll everyPixel in Fifths”

  18. @James —

    Miles would last about five minutes before kicking off a constitutional crisis of some sort…

    Constitution? What Constitution? We don’t need no steenkin’ Constittion!

    😉

    Or the Filer version:

    Pixels? What pixels? We don’t scroll no steenkin’ pixels!

  19. Well yes, the 3rd episode was more Startrekish at least. Although no series focused on one character as much before, it was always the team (of course they often focused on key members, like Kirk, but this story so far is told from one perspective only).

    Ertneqvat abgbevrgl: V guvax vgf zber ehzbhef ng guvf cbvag. Gur bssvpref (naq gur pncgnva) unira’g punetrq ure jvgu fgnegvat gur jne, whfg jvgu zhgval.” Fur nggnpxrq na bssvpre naq gur jne fgnegrq” vf cebonoyl jung crbcyr xabj naq gur pbapyhfvba vf boivbhf (rira vs vgf jebat).

  20. Or Lord Auditor Vorkosigan to the Monarch’s Emperor Gregor

    Actually Viceroy and Vicereine Vorkosigan to the Monarch’s Emperor Gregor. Vice-Roi, like a Vice-Chairman. Which thinking about it means calling Cordelia a Vicereine is incorrect, the -roy or -reine suffix refers to the Monarch, not the Vice.

  21. it never worked like that historically. Queen Victoria’s representative in India was called the Viceroy, and his wife was called the Vicereine.

  22. @Anthony —

    Which thinking about it means calling Cordelia a Vicereine is incorrect, the -roy or -reine suffix refers to the Monarch, not the Vice.

    Think of it in the same vein as Lead Actress and Supporting Actor. Even when a male actor is supporting a female lead, he’s still called “Supporting Actor” rather than “Supporting Actress”. The Vicereine is the female support to the crown, whether the crown is male or female.

  23. I need to get rid of some books. First batch is SF&F, plus the Sharpe books. Anyone in–or willing to drive to–northern NJ want to pick them up? No cost but your time and effort to come get them. Photos here.

  24. Standback on October 3, 2017 at 5:01 am said:
    * [Oheaunz havirefnyyl abgbevbhf nf n zhgvarre jub fgnegrq gur jne, rira gubhtu ure zhgval *snvyrq* naq qvq *abguvat* gb fcnex gur jne, naq abobql frrzf gb zragvba va jung jnl gurl *qb* guvax fur jnf gur fcnex]

    I find this last one quite plausible though. It is how stuff like that works. Resentment and blame focused on an individual can be like that.

  25. Hmmm, probably still wrong for Cordelia though because she is jointly governing Sergyar with Aral and not just there due to being his wife? (I will weasel myself out of this. :-))

    Bleargh, the perils of working in higher education. Feels like Freshers Flu is striking…

  26. @Anthony —

    Hmmm, probably still wrong for Cordelia though because she is jointly governing Sergyar with Aral and not just there due to being his wife? (I will weasel myself out of this. :-))

    No, even if she had never married Aral she would still serve as vicereine. But nice try!

  27. @James Davis Nicoll

    Miles would last about five minutes before kicking off a constitutional crisis of some sort…

    Too true.

    @Anthony on October 3, 2017 at 12:26 pm said:

    Actually Viceroy and Vicereine Vorkosigan to the Monarch’s Emperor Gregor.

    I’m not sure how Viceroys work on Barrayar, but Auditors are specifically considered to speak with the Emperor’s voice

  28. I wrote:

    The wikipage for “Vril” notes that “Bovril”‘s name is a reference to “Vril”!

    And if I had read the original article, I would have seen that that fact was prominent there. D’oh.

  29. Hmmm….What if Bel Thorne were to be appointed to represent the emperor? Title?

  30. @Camestros:

    I find this last one quite plausible though. It is how stuff like that works. Resentment and blame focused on an individual can be like that.

    If it had been portrayed as “These people are making a bad story worse,” I’d have been on-board with that.
    When it’s portrayed as “Everybody hates her because–“, not so much.

    Put it a different way. How many episodes do you think it’s reasonable for Burnham to leave the exaggeration unchallenged, unmentioned, if we’re meant to understand it as a cruel exaggeration?

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