Pixel Scroll 1/4/18 By Klono’s Scintillating Scrolls And Prismatic Pixels!

(1) SPACED OUT LIBRARY. The Toronto Star remembers how it all began — “Sci-fi author Judith Merril and the very real story of Toronto’s Spaced Out Library”.

As the Vietnam War raged on, science-fiction author and editor Judith Merril — disgusted with the violence hurled against anti-war demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago — packed her books and bags and immigrated to Canada.

Already well-respected in the science-fiction writing world, Merril was in her mid-40s when she landed in Toronto in 1969 with an extensive personal collection of books and unpublished manuscripts of science fiction. She settled into Rochdale College, the 18-storey hippie haven at Bloor and Huron Sts. with her grown daughter, Ann Pohl. Merril taught nondegree subjects in exchange for room and board at the free university, which was an experiment in student-run education and co-operative learning.

Merril became known as Rochdale’s resource person in publishing and writing. She founded the Rochdale library, which later was called the Spaced Out Library.

She lived in Rochdale for a year. One year later, in 1970, she would donate the Spaced Out Library and its 5,000 items to the Toronto Public Library….

(2) LIBRARY STATS. Here are links to the Boston Public Library’s report of most-borrowed books for 2017:
Adult: (genre at 3 and 9, Underground Railroad and Handmaid’s Tale)
Teen: (media-related genre at 1, 3, and 10)
Childrens: (media-related genre at 1 and 4; Dr. Seuss at 8 & 10)

(3) HOLY FATHER, BLESS MY MIDICHLORIANS. From American Thinker we get an impassioned Catholicism-rooted jeremiad by Ojel L. Burgos against the movie The Last Jedi as an attack by the New Atheism movement against all that’s holy — The Last Jedi and the New Atheism”

Some may say atheism does indeed give hope, but it’s a hope constrained within scientism and empiricism – better explained, a hope placed solely in what humanity can control.  As Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Saved by Hope argued, despite failure, a sense of purposiveness, and suffering, the power of hope in God sustains us.  Luke Skywalker’s initial hopelessness and the subsequent revival of the power of hope give us the strongest indication that atheism’s triumph is society’s downfall.

(4) GETTING PAST JEDI. After The Guardian’s Ben Child suggests that The Last Jedi was —

a smart, intelligently curated yet ever so slightly soulless example of machine-honed franchise film-making. It ticked every box for fans of the venerable space saga, without ever really pushing the envelope; a movie that eventually made the Kessel Run, but 40 years or so after Han Solo and Chewie had already achieved that legendary feat.

— he gives thought to what movies will push the SF envelope in the coming year. The suggestions, with justification and some trailers, are Alex Garland’s “heart of darkness” Annihilation in February, Steven Spielberg’s virtual reality Ready Player One in March, Josh Boone’s superhero The New Mutants in April, Rupert Wyatt’s post-alien invasion Captive State in August, Christian Rivers’ steampunk Mortal Engines in December, and Duncan Jones’ “Moon” successor Mute sometime in 2018. — “Future shock: unearthing the most cutting-edge sci-fi movies of 2018”.

(5) WHICH HE DIDN’T ACTUALLY WRITE. Smithsonian.com reminds us about “Thomas Edison’s Forgotten Sci-Fi Novel”.

When Thomas Edison died in 1931, he held more than 1,000 patents in the United States alone. He was credited with inventing, or significantly advancing, electric lighting, storage batteries, the motion picture camera, the phonograph and even cement making—among many other things.

Edison nearly added another item to his résumé that’s all but forgotten today: Progress, a science-fiction novel he began working on around 1890. Although the inventor abandoned the project before it could be finished, he wrote pages and pages of notes that a collaborator, George Parsons Lathrop, would eventually turn into a work of futuristic fiction, In the Deep of Time, published in 1896.

…According to the 1908 biography Thomas Alva Edison: Sixty Years of an Inventor’s Life by Francis Arthur Jones, Edison told Lathrop that he “would rather invent a dozen useful things, including a mechanical novelist who would turn out works of fiction when the machinery was set in motion, than go any further with the electrical novel.”

Lathrop proceeded all the same, and In the Deep of Time, now more novella than full-length novel, appeared as a serial in several U.S. newspapers in December 1896. The English Illustrated Magazine ran it in two installments the following spring. It was bylined “by George Parsons Lathrop in Collaboration with Thomas A. Edison.”

(6) UNLIKE PREVIOUS TREKS. Variety profiles DS9 — “‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ at 25: Through the Wormhole With the Cast and Creators”.

“DS9” allowed “Trek” writers the chance to delve into that conflict like never before. Over the course of its run, the show tackled complex subject matter including the ethics of war, faith, cultural identity and the often subtle distinction between a freedom fighter and a terrorist in dark and surprising ways that the previous two series had not.

(7) ANANSI BOYS. Over Christmas, Radio 4 broadcast a new, six-part adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s mythical fantasy “Anansi Boys” about the trickster God Anansi and his unsuspecting son Fat Charlie. The episodes are available here. (But for how long?)

(8) SOME CAMPBELL-ELIGIBLE WRITERS. Rocket Stack Rank’s 2018 Campbell Award-Eligible Writers page is up now. It is not intended to be all-encompassing (as it says at the post) —

Here are 166 short fiction writers reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank who are eligible for the 2018 Campbell Award. They were selected from the 746 stories reviewed by RSR in 2017 as well as the 821 stories reviewed in 2016. There are many more new writers than the ones in this list, but their stories weren’t reviewed by RSR so they’re not included here.

Greg Hullender writes:

As ever, it only includes writers whose stories appeared in the magazines and anthologies that we reviewed, and the eligibility dates were calculated using isfdb.org. We welcome and appreciate any error reports!

(9) CANDLE POWER. Steven H Silver announced his new project —

I’m posting a series of short story reviews on Black Gate.  Each day (well, most days, some days I can’t find anyone who fits the requirements), I’ll be posting a review of a short story by an author whose birthday it is.

He began New Year’s Day with “Birthday Reviews: E.M. Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’”.

(10) WEIR SEARCH. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination podcast Into The Impossible continues with Episode 13: Life on the Moon.

It’s the end of 2017, but we’ll spend this episode living, imaginatively, in the 2080s, on the first lunar city, called Artemis. Artemis is the invention of Andy Weir, the author of The Martian and another of the great science fiction writers to have come through UC San Diego. We welcomed him back to campus earlier this month, and we have the live conversation to share with you today.

(11) RAW SCIENCE. And the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is a partner of the 4th annual Raw Science Film Festival, to be held this year in Santa Barbara, CA, on January 6 and 7th, 2018.

The festival honors the best media centered on science and technology from around the world. The mission of the festival is to celebrate science media and ensure fact-based experts stay at the forefront of popular culture. This “Bridge between Science and Media” will honor luminaries and celebrities in science, technology, media, and entertainment and showcase best-in-class films.

The culmination of the three day event is a black-tie red carpet awards ceremony on Saturday, January 6 at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, CA. The 100th birthday of Sir Arthur C. Clarke will be celebrated with inspiring experts on interstellar travel, human longevity, scalable healthcare, the ethics of space travel, and lunar colonization! Recent Nobel Prize winner Kip Thorne will roll down the red carpet via Beam robot to present the annual Kip Thorne Gravity Award. The three day event also includes a VIP reception, film screenings, exhibitions, lab tours, and sci-comm workshops. The festival brings science fiction to life and to work in an inspiring weekend of fun, entertainment, and public service.

(12) INDUSTRY BIAS. In a BBC interview, “Rosamund Pike says actors won’t ‘play second fiddle’ to actresses”.

Pike continued: “Many, many actors are coming out saying we want more female-driven stories, we want fantastic roles for women… so the next consequence is, if you want those to come, then the boys have to play second fiddle.

“That’s just the way it is. Until that happens, there will be fewer films with female leads made,” she added.

Films with leading female stars and supporting male actors are not as common as the other way round.

But there are some well-known examples, including 2013’s Oscar-winning film Gravity, with Sandra Bullock playing the lead alongside George Clooney, and sci-fi flick Arrival (2016), with Jeremy Renner in a supporting role alongside Amy Adams.

Note that the two exceptions cited are both genre.

(13) ACROSS THE STRAITS. NPR reports In “Alaskan infant’s DNA tells story of ‘first Americans'”.

Genetic analysis of the child, allied to other data, indicates she belonged to a previously unknown, ancient group.

Scientists say what they have learnt from her DNA strongly supports the idea that a single wave of migrants moved into the continent from Siberia just over 20,000 years ago.

NPR observes that the excavation was done with the cooperation of Native American groups — “Ancient Human Remains Document Migration From Asia To America”.

They conclude that the ancestors of these infants started out in East Asia about 35,000 years ago. As they traveled east, they became genetically isolated from other Asians. At some point during the last ice age they crossed a frozen land bridge from Siberia to Alaska called “Beringia.”

Potter says during this great migration, either before or after they crossed the land bridge, this group (which the researchers call the founding population for all Native Americans) split again, into two populations. Scientists had suspected this and surmised that one group stayed put in and around Beringia. They call them Ancient Beringians.

The two infants are the first hard evidence that they did indeed do that.

The ice age was still on, but these people hunkered down and made the best of what was there in this arid, frigid landscape, says Potter. “Bison, horses, mammoth. Big grazers were very common.”

The other group moved down into North and South America and are believed to be the direct ancestors of current Native Americans.

(14) APPLY FOR CLARION. Applications are now open for the 2018 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop! Eighteen students will be selected to spend six weeks at UC San Diego, writing, studying, and workshopping with leading writers from the field. The deadline to apply is March 1.

The 2018 writers in residence: will be Christopher Barzak, Holly Black, Mat Johnson, Kij Johnson, Kelly Link, and Gavin Grant.

(15) THE PEN. How writing destroyed civilization as they knew it…. Arthur Chu’s thread begins here —

(16) NOTES FROM A HIGHER POWER. Nick Confalone, in “Are The Aliens Wearing Life Jackets?  And Other Questions From Kids’ Network Standards and Practices”  on Slate, has some inane comments from Standards and Practices types, including, “When we first see the aliens along the beach, we should see that they are clearly wearing life jackets.”

Equating a raccoon’s family’s misfortune to a real-life human scenario that begins with unemployment and escalates to homelessness, lack of funds for medicine, and a child having to drop out of school to help support the family seems inappropriate, despite their admission that they love living in a garbage can. We don’t want to give the misperception that we are making light of or trying to derive humor from a tragic, human situation.

(17) BEWARE FALLING GODS. Here’s The New Legends of Monkey: Extended Trailer.

Inspired by the 16th Century Chinese fable Journey to the West, ABC ME’s The Legend of Monkey is 10-part half-hour series that follows a teenage girl and a trio of fallen gods on a perilous journey to bring an end to a demonic reign of chaos and restore balance to their world. Coming to ABC ME January 28.


[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rick Moen, Darrah Chavey, Bill, Cat Eldridge, Rose Embolism, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

42 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/4/18 By Klono’s Scintillating Scrolls And Prismatic Pixels!

  1. The episodes are available here. (But for how long?)

    Click on the episode and it tells you.

    Episode 1 is available until the 24th of January.

  2. I don’t mind a woman being the main character of Monkey (as a change from the male Buddist monk), but I do think that removing the original goal of the journal (to retrieve the tripitaka of Buddhism) sort of cheapens the idea to just being any ol’ random journey

  3. (3) in ourselves we have longing for fulfillment, true and lasting happiness – in other words, the characteristic that wouldn’t exist in an atheist society.  This characteristic is called hope. …atheism’s triumph is society’s downfall

    People opining at great length on subjects about which they have not bothered to educate themselves seems to be the order of the day. 🙄

  4. I have my doubts about Ready Player One pushing SF anywhere in particular except into a celebration of how awesome it is to use eighties trivia to get out of poverty thanks to the perverse whim of a dead billionaire. Reading the book, I was entranced by the notion of a generation facing a global dead-end going back, plundering and appropriating eighties (US) nostalgia as an escape, just as that generation plundered the future, but nostalgia as a sterile trap, as an opiate, as a diversion of otherwise disruptive energies. I’ve also since come to think it would probably a lot weirder and scarier than portrayed, getting more into the tone of freakier and more disturbing corners of YouTube stuff. None of that was in the book, a perfectly readable and serviceable thriller that doesn’t withstand much scrutiny, and I doubt that it’ll bleed into the film.

  5. 12 – Also both those examples featured grieving mothers. The tragedy was intrinsic to the story and central theme of Arrival, and did give emotional weight to Gravity (as it were) but I’d hate to think it’s going to become the go-to trope for adding development to strong central female characters.

  6. (15) As I recall, Socrates considered writing to be a not-particularly-good thing.

    P.S. Scroll in the place where you live, Godstalk north.

  7. 17) That trailer seems to give more than a few nods to Monkey, the (ahem) seminal TV adaptation by NTV in the late Seventies (in which the male role of Tripitaka was played by a woman, Masako Natsume). If so, this is a Good Thing.

    If you don’t know the NTV adaptation… seek it out. Seriously. An English dubbed version was broadcast on the BBC, and it brought many a smile to my face, believe me. (If you’ve seen it, you will know why.) I’m not sure that better SFX will actually improve it… but I suppose it can’t hurt.

    I might note, incidentally, that the Chinese classic Journey to the West isn’t entirely serious either – I had reason to read the whole thing (in English translation) aloud, a couple of years ago, so I think I can safely say I know what I’m talking about.

  8. I do think that removing the original goal of the journal (to retrieve the tripitaka of Buddhism) sort of cheapens the idea to just being any ol’ random journey

    Who knows what they’ll come up with next, a version where they’re collecting balls to summon a dragon?

    Switching Tripitaka’s gender is most likely inspired by the 1978 Japanese TV series, where he’s played by a woman. The dub was shown in the UK as well as Australia and NZ.

    EDIT: I write so slowly that Steve Wright’s post wasn’t up yet.



    No, wait, I’ll try that again.

    Atheists are the Empire? Wut?!?

  10. 16: Please make sure that the coyote catches the road runner as constant failure is not something children should be encouraged to emulate. Further, once the coyote catches the road runner, please have them engage in activities that clearly indicate they are friends just playing a game.

    Also “beep! beep!” is very suggestive, please substitute another, less suggestive sound.

    Finally. Please reduce the height the coyote drops from; replace the coyote’s silence as he falls with a frightened scream. Children should not be encouraged to fall or jump from great heights into canyons.

  11. 15) Game changing technology stories can be set timelessly. I don’t remember the author or the title, but I remember an old SF story about a society, whose tech level is carefully not shown, talking about a game changing technology that makes war and conflict completely different, and nothing will ever be the same, et cetera…

    …the technology is a bow and arrow.

  12. Hey Joe H, thanks for your recent recommendation for Giant Days. I somehow got through the first six volumes over the festive period. It made me nostalgic for my own uni days, even if I am from a slightly older generation.

  13. As I recall, Socrates considered writing to be a not-particularly-good thing.

    That is true, at least, according the the writings of his most prominent pupil.

    (Though certainly he did not write, at least for publication – that is true of many notable ancient philosophers – so there is probably some truth in it.)

  14. Quick Meredith moment – M.H. Boroson’s The Girl with Ghost Eyes is 1.99 on the Kindle right now, and is a fun urban fantasy set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1898. I enjoyed it a lot.

  15. steve davidson on January 5, 2018 at 4:55 am said:

    Also “beep! beep!” is very suggestive, please substitute another, less suggestive sound.

    Well, yeah.

  16. @Cat Rambo: Heh, I came here to mention that Meredith Moment (Boroson’s first novel). It’s also on sale other places (e.g., iBooks & Kobo).

    I mini-reviewed it here two years ago. Short version: interesting world building and magic, but some clunky descriptions and the protagonist was a bit tiresome. But I’d definitely read what he does next!

    Hmm, Goodreads refers to the book “Xian Li-lin #1,” but I only see one reference (someone else’s comment on his Facebook page) to there being a sequel coming. So I don’t know if that’s accurate or not.

    He has a short story with the main character which he’ll only send to someone who leaves an Amazon review. That’s a new one on me and I find it super irritating; I guess I’ll never read the story, since I don’t review on Amazon. (Also, I’d feel uncomfortable pointing him at my review to get the story, since my review would be a little mixed.) Do other authors do this?

  17. Meredith Moment: Book Barbarian’s discount-ebooks offerings today include the anthology THE GUARDIAN, edited by Alasdair Shaw, for $0.99. The reason it caught my attention is that it includes a story by our very own Filer Cora Buhlert. (Yay, Cora!) Links for Kindle and Nook. Also available from Apple, Smashwords, and Kobo.

    (It strikes my mind, not for the first time, that the Venn diagram of independent and traditional publishing doesn’t overlap much. There are lots of indie-pubbed anthologies, and it’s pretty rare that I recognize the names of any writers included. I sometimes wonder if I’m missing out on work by writers who might be the indie equivalent of, say, Ken Liu, Robert Reed, or Kristine Kathryn Rusch.)

  18. Also in Meredith Moments: Kobo, at least, has Raven Strategem for $0.99. (You wouldn’t recognize it from the description at BookBub, though.)

  19. @Kendall Amazon sales are strongly correlated with number of reviews, but only weakly correlated with average review. That is, any review is a good review as long as they spell your name right.

    Amazon usually frowns on authors offering incentives for people to leave reviews, though.

  20. Nigel on January 5, 2018 at 3:47 am said:
    12 – Also both those examples featured grieving mothers. The tragedy was intrinsic to the story and central theme of Arrival, and did give emotional weight to Gravity (as it were) but I’d hate to think it’s going to become the go-to trope for adding development to strong central female characters.

    Yes, the theme of the Miracle of Motherhood ™ was I think the most tiresome element of Blade Runner 49, and the one that made it jump the shark for me.

  21. (3) You know, the reason you believe in God is that you have thought about it and actually do believe that there is a supernatural being that is omnipotent, omniscient, benign, and has said that humans should heed a certain amount of things He has made us know about in various ways. It’s not that it would be nicer if it were so. That means hoping in God, not believing in God. If you have thought about it and have concluded than on the balance of things the existence of the nice guy upstairs is not likely (as I have), not amount of arguing about how NICE it would be if he existed is going to matter.
    As for hope, I will just quote the immortal words of Emperor Ezar Vobarra in Shards of Honor: “I’m an atheist myself. A simple faith, but one that has been a great comfort for me in these last few years.”

  22. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan
    This must be true, because I’ve long felt the same way. You* believe in something because on some basis [factual is my first choice] it is proven true, not because it’s the nicest thing you can think of.

    *The first-person “you.” Can also be first-person omniscient “you” that means everybody in the universe, based upon my own perfect knowledge. Ahem.

  23. LeGuin’s “Western Shore” books have a plot including an oral society that believes books and anything written is evil. They clash with the book-writing society.

    The new “Wonder Woman” movie had a female lead with a wonderful supporting male role. It was my favorite role for Chris Pine to date.

    Cheers everyone… it’s Friday afternoon here.

  24. Greg Hullender says Amazon usually frowns on authors offering incentives for people to leave reviews, though.

    Amazon in theory has a lot of practices it frowns upon but short of receiving a complaint has little way of knowing anything has been done that violates their guidelines. And even a complaint doesn’t always correct things as Peter Beagle and his legal folk can tell you.

  25. 5) That author-machine WAS eventually invented; his name is James Patterson…8-)

  26. 5) This is the second time this week I’ve seen or heard something that reminded me of the same Clifford Simak short story.

  27. #1:
    And, as noted in the story, the Spaced Out Library is now officially known as ‘Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy’ back in 1990. From what I heard from Lorna Toolis, who recently retired as the head librarian of the collection, the renaming was at least in part because it was difficult to get grant requests taken seriously when they came from the ‘Spaced Out Library’. Though their newsletter is still called ‘SOL Rising’ in reference to the original name.

    I need to re-join the Friends of the Merril Collection at some point. It’s been a while.

  28. Huh. For years, I’d assumed Judith Merril was UKish, since the first thing I think of when I hear the name is the classic New Wave collection England Swings SF. Which I haven’t read in oiks, but which the Goodreads page suggests may have actually aged fairly well. (Based on the one, count it, one review.)

    (Based on my somewhat fuzzy memories, it’s kind of what I wish people would think of when they think “New Wave”, rather than the somewhat pretentious, over-the-top, and tries-too-hard Dangerous Visions.)

    (12) INDUSTRY BIAS. I can’t help but think that naming names could do a lot of good here. “So-and-so was offered a part in the upcoming movie Thingie, but didn’t want to play second fiddle to a woman” would be a great headline! Of course, it would have to be done with some care–and there are surely some actors who wouldn’t want to play second-fiddle to anyone, male or female. But still, it’s something that should be done.

    (17) BEWARE FALLING GODS. I’ve seen several adaptations or derivatives of Journey to the West (or parts thereof), and have enjoyed them all enough that I’m more than willing to see another one. I’m sure they’ll take liberties, but I’m honestly not sure how well a straight adaptation would play for western audiences, so I can kind of understand it. Plus, it’s a story with plenty of room for creative reinterpretation and playing around.

  29. Andrew M and Darren Garrison: Thanks for confirming my memory (though the link Darren gave seems to be broken). Looking at the twitter thread, I see that someone did refer to Socrates (and also mentioned the Turtledove story I was thinking of).

  30. @Cat Rambo: “@Kendall I think it was your mention that made me pick it up last year.”

    Groovy! 😀

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