Pixel Scroll 4/22/18 The Inevitable Filer Recursion: A Meteorologist In Florida Named “Pixel Scroll”

(1) GONE OVERBOARD. Polling geek site FiveThirtyEight analyzes BoardGameGeek’s top rating for Gloomhaven: “Players Have Crowned A New Best Board Game — And It May Be Tough To Topple”.

…A new game now tops those rankings: It’s called Gloomhaven, and it’s the current BoardGameGeek No. 1, having taken over the top spot this past winter. The game has won scads of awards, including more than a handful of Golden Geeks and a Scelto dai Goblin — the goblins’ choice. Its place atop the BoardGameGeek list cements its status as a flagship of the current golden age….

In Gloomhaven (which retails for $215), “players will take on the role of a wandering mercenary with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this remote corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins.” The game’s website likens it to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. Just don’t forget your swords or spells. Childres attributes his game’s success, at least among the hardcore denizens of BoardGameGeek, to the way it improves on the appeal of the roleplaying of Dungeons & Dragons, in which crawling dungeons can become rote. In Gloomhaven, you have special abilities that you can use over and over, and once you use them, you can watch them make cool stuff happen. It’s heavy on the fun stuff, rather than the grind of repetitious orc slaying, and as the BoardGameGeek leaderboard shows, gamers are appreciative.

(2) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. ConStellation 9 in Lincoln, Nebraska says funds raised this weekend put John Picacio’s Mexicanx Initiative over the top.

(3) DPP DELAYED. The German SFF event Phantastika 2018 has been cancelled, and taken with it this year’s Deutscher Phantastik Preis ceremony. Event organizer Mike Hillenbrand told an interviewer the award will still be given, at a time to be determined:

MH: …The DPP will be back this year, and we hope to get a grant as well. The joke is that we already had a name sponsor and several category sponsors for the award ceremony, and last year we had well over 600 guests at the ceremony – and I think the DPP is too important to call it off. How, where and if there will be a ceremony, but of course we have to discuss with the editors of phantastik-news.de and then someone will make known. Soon. 🙂

English version via Google Translate.

(4) BID ‘EM UP. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is taking bids on this item til 5 p.m. April 26: “Stephen Hawking Signed Book From 1973 — One of the Scarcest of Signatures”.

Stephen Hawking book signed from 1973, shortly before Hawking was not able to write his name due to ALS. Hawking signed this book, ”The Archaeology of the Industrial Revolution”, along with several other members of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at Cambridge University, on the occasion of an employee leaving his job as a computer operator. Hawking signs the half-title page, ”Stephen Hawking”, in stilted, but legible writing, below the signatures of other faculty members and below the gift inscription, ”With gratitude and best wishes from the friends of the IOA computer staff.”

It was at the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at Cambridge where Hawking, as a research scientist, made some of his earliest scientific breakthroughs regarding black holes and quantum mechanics. Also in 1973, he published his important first book, ”The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time” which is now considered a classic and has been printed many times over. It was also at this time that ALS was overtaking Hawkings physically, and he would be confined to a wheelchair by 1975.

(5) BLACK PANTHER IN CHINA. Carl Slaughter says: “In this man on the street survey, Chinese people really open up about the Black Panther movie.  Easy to read subtitles with grammatically correct translation is a major bonus.” The takes are of varying sophistication.

(6) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. The Verge’s space reporter Loren Grush has written a story about commercial spaceflight — with emphasis on commercial: “Product launch: a trip to the Taco Bell Space Station”. It’s satire, but is it so far from Delos Harriman’s efforts?

Over my headset, I hear the flight controller counting down on the launch live stream.

“T-minus five minutes to liftoff.”

I don’t think my heart has ever pounded this hard. I’m strapped into a seat inside one of SpaceX’s SpriteDragon™ capsules, sitting on top of a Pepsi™ Falcon 9 rocket. And I’m just 300 seconds away from my first trip to space. With every second that ticks away, my nerves send an electric shock throughout my body. I’ve never been more exhilarated or more petrified….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 22, 1953 Invaders from Mars was released.

(8) GOTTESMAN OBIT. Star Trek fan Regina Gottesman (1948-2018) died April 17 reports Fanlore. A fanwriter and fanzine publisher, in 1982, she was nominated for a FanQaward. In a bio written at that time Gottesman said about herself:

She was involved with the New York STAR TREK conventions (The Committee Cons) from their inception, has worked on Lunacons (this year she edited the Program Book), and has attended many cons, both media and sf. TIME WARP was her first “official” ‘zine experience’, and, although no longer associated with TIME WARP (as of issue #6), she now co-edits COMLINK The STAR WARS and Media Letterzine, and has started her own’ zine, ERRANTRY….

(9) WINDOW ON GREEN TOWN. Atlas Obscura would like to show you around “Ray Bradbury’s Waukegan”.

Spend an afternoon visiting Bradbury’s greatest muse—the town now known as Green Town.

Ray Bradbury is a towering legend in the world of science fiction and horror, a man among the greats of American literature. Whether his stories were set in futuristic dystopias, nightmarish carnivals, or abandoned Martian cities, in Bradbury’s mind they all happened in Green Town—the pseudonym he gave to Waukegan, Illinois— his hometown.

Come see Waukegan, Illinois, through the eyes of Ray Bradbury with the Atlas Obscura Society Chicago. You’ll get a peek into the mind of the author as we are guided to places that toe the line between his life and his fiction. Walk the streets that both Ray and his characters walked, while seeing the places that molded the mind of one of the most creative authors of the last century.

(10) MOMENTUM. John Seavey’s Storytelling Engines: How Writers Keep Superhero Sagas Going and Going! comes out May 16. Here’s what readers will learn:

Every continuing series has an engine…

This engine is a collection of ideas, characters, and settings that help writers to generate good stories. STORYTELLING ENGINES examines comics from Fantastic Four and Superman to Spider-Woman and Dial H for H-E-R-O to find out which parts of that engine make a series easier to write, and which parts make a writer’s life miserable!

  • Why did Alfred the Butler have to die?
  • How did the Comics Code create Eclipso?
  • What do Aquaman and Thor have in common?
  • How does Conan the Barbarian resemble Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Find the answers to these questions and many more in STORYTELLING ENGINES!

(11) POETRY JUDGE. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association has named John W. Sexton as the judge of its 2018 Speculative Poetry Contest. The contest opens June 1st. More details can be found here.

John W. Sexton was born in 1958 and lives in the Republic of Ireland. He is the author of six poetry collections, the most recent being the imminent Futures Pass, from Salmon Poetry. His earlier collections include Vortex (2005), Petit Mal (2009) and The Offspring of the Moon(2013). He also created and wrote The Ivory Tower for RTÉ Radio, which ran to over one hundred half-hour episodes from 1999 to 2002. Two novels based on the characters from this series have been published by the O’Brien Press: The Johnny Coffin Diaries and Johnny Coffin School-Dazed, which have been translated into both Italian and Serbian. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons of Shiva,which has been released on Track Records. He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem “The Green Owl” won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. Also in 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. (Photo of John W. Sexton courtesy of Niall Hartnett.)

The contest chair is Holly Lyn Walrath:

The SFPA is honored to have Holly Lyn Walrath as our 2018 contest chair to coordinate this process. She is a writer of poetry and short fiction. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Liminality, Eye to the Telescope, and elsewhere. She is a freelance editor and volunteer with Writespace literary center in Houston, Texas. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath or at hlwalrath.com.

(12) DEADPOOL SCOOPS. ScreenRant guides you to “25 Deadpool Easter Eggs And Secrets Only True Fans Noticed.”

(13) WIN BY A HEAD. NPR’s Jason Sheehan likes the new Scalzi: “In ‘Head On,’ Killer Robots, Dogged Gumshoes … And A Very Important Cat”.

I love that the entire plot of John Scalzi’s newest novel, Head On, hinges on a cat.

I mean, it’s such a stupid idea. It’s a gimmick that’s been played straight, played crooked, played backwards and forwards in so many stories that there’s just no trope-life left in it. Cat as McGuffin. Cat as material witness. Cat as embodiment of damsels in distress. It’s the literary equivalent of Scooby Doo and the gang pulling the rubber mask off old Mr. McGillicutty the groundskeeper because he was the pirate ghost all along.

And I love that Scalzi did it anyway. Mostly because he found a new way to use it (in addition to all the old ways in which he absolutely uses Donut the cat) which, in conforming so literally to the defining nature of science fiction, somehow makes it seem new and fresh. The #1 thing that defines science fiction — that separates I, Robot from War and Peace — is that technology (no matter what it is) must play a pivotal role in the development of the plot. Read: It ain’t enough just to have spaceships, the spaceships have to matter, get it?

(14) THAT OTHER FIRST LADY. Dear to many fannish hearts: “The master blender who is Scotch whisky’s First Lady”.

Rachel Barrie is one of the few women ever to hold the title of Scotch whisky master blender.

In her 26-year career, Rachel has sniffed or sipped 150,000 different whiskies.

She is a trailblazer in what was traditionally a male-dominated industry, having held the coveted title since 2003.

As arguably the most prominent woman in her field, Rachel can reasonably be described at the First Lady of Scotch whisky.

(15) FIAT LUX. The BBC considers the question: “Is ‘bisexual lighting’ a new cinematic phenomenon?”

The under-representation of bisexuality on screen has been debated for a number of years, and some have seized on bisexual lighting as an empowering visual device.

Reflecting this, the Pantone Color Institute named Ultra Violet as its colour of the year for 2018, referencing the influence of “Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix”.

But is it really a tool to represent bisexuality, or are people reading too much into neon-tinged stylisation?

(16) THIRD ROBOT THEME. “Europe’s Mars rover takes shape” — it can wheel-walk out of sand traps that ended Spirit. They’re building three: one to stress-test, one to send, and one to test fixes on. Chip Hitchcock asks, “Wonder if anyone’s hoping it will be used for signaling as in The Martian)?”

So, here it is. Europe’s Mars rover. Or rather, a copy of it.

This is what they call the Structural Thermal Model, or STM. It is one of three rovers that will be built as part of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars 2020 mission to search for life on the Red Planet. And, no, we’re not sending all three to the Red Planet.

The STM is used to prove the design. It will go through a tough testing regime to check the rover that does launch to Mars – the “flight model” – will be able to cope with whatever is thrown at it.

What’s the third robot for? It stays on Earth and is used to troubleshoot any problems. If mission control needs to re-write a piece of software to overcome some glitch on the flight rover, the patch will be trialled first on the “engineering model” before being sent up to the Red Planet.

(17) TO BOLDLY MEDDLE. This is funny. See the image at the link. (Because it might not be polite of me to gank an image belonging to a Deviant Art artist. I’m not sure.)

A repaint of the Galileo shuttle as the Mystery Machine. Now comes the question of what those Meddling Kids would be in the Trekverse.  Velma, of course, would be a Vulcan but I’m not sure as to what the rest would be.  Any ideas?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Andrew Liptak, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

75 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/22/18 The Inevitable Filer Recursion: A Meteorologist In Florida Named “Pixel Scroll”

  1. Here in 6719, it seems like a good time for a quick reminder that International Tabletop Day is coming up this Saturday, the 28th. (At least for those of you still back in 2018.)

  2. Kendall:

    “The cooperativeness of it is the main thing that interested me about it.

    Same here. I have stopped playing most other boardgames, as I do not really enjoy winning that much, but I hate losing.

  3. @Kendall September 23 is also “Bisexual Visibility Day”. There’s a campaign to make raise awareness of it, as many a bisexual ninja assassin at the start of their career has been caught out by suddenly losing their invisibility.

  4. Huh. The page crashed after the first comment, so I reloaded to see if it had made it, and it hadn’t, so I wrote a new one. After which the whole site went down.

    What are the bisexual ninja assassins trying to hide!?!!!?

  5. @Joe H et al (re long setup times) sounds like a poor payoff (3 hours play for 1-2 hours pre- and post-). I don’t know how long setup took, but I remember (40+ years ago) a gamer coming into the MITSFS and saying to another “Let’s go over to SGS [Strategic Games Society, on the other end of campus] and make a [Drang Nach Osten] move.”, suggesting that this was a game that could take much longer to play than Diplomacy. I wonder whether anyone outside college campuses still plays such games; it would be difficult without a permanent space and a ~captive player group.

  6. The problem of long setup/breakdown times are one of the reasons I love to see board games get translated into apps. That whole problem evaporates when starting a new game takes only a tap on the screen. Way harder to lose pieces, too!

  7. @Lurkertype —

    The important thing about KJ Charles is, when is the sequel to “Spectred Isle” arriving?!

    I haven’t read the first one yet!

  8. @ O. Westin:

    “What are the bisexual ninja assassins trying to hide!?” their lesser-known vulnerability to strong UV light. It doesn’t hurt them, it just removes all their stealth. That’s why they prefer to operate during the night, as the moon does not shine nearly as bright in UV as the sun does.

  9. @Ingvar Ah, that explains it. I knew there was a reason Bisexual Ninja Assassins could charge more than Vampire Ninja Assassins – less UV susceptibility.

  10. @Hampus Eckerman: A couple of my good friends mostly like cooperative or cooperative with traitor games. To me, these are wildly different – almost opposite. I don’t really like “traitor” games; I find it stressful just waiting to find out if I’m the traitor, and then stressful to be the traitor (and I feel like I’m horrible at it).

    I like competitive fine (but I like cooperative a lot!). I especially like competitive games where we don’t directly attack each other, though I don’t mind those.

    @O. Westin: Ah! Thanks. Yes, uh, the day I hide in the basement. 😉 Reading the Wikipedia page, the day sounds kinda random, so okay, huh. I’m a bad bisexual; I’m not really familiar with this Day of Visibility. ::blush::

    I would love to have ninja assassin powers, though. Mostly the ninja part. ::wistful::

  11. @ Xtifr

    Here in 6719, it seems like a good time for a quick reminder that International Tabletop Day is coming up this Saturday, the 28th. (At least for those of you still back in 2018.)

    How delightfully convenient since the 28th is my youngest brother’s birthday and he, another brother, and our father will be gathering at my house to play board games and celebrate. (In a family full of often not-very-communicative introverts, board games are how we manage family gatherings that aren’t simply all of us sitting in the same room working on our laptops.)

  12. @ Kendall:
    I quite liked playing, uh, Camelot? The King Arthur game with a traitor and set-collection to resolve a variety of things to win swords. But I think that’s because it was one of the first “coop-with-traitor’ I played, and I was the traitor, and I won, and no one suspected me of being the traitor until I revealed myself and won on the next turn.

    But, then, I wasn’t fond of Dead of Winter‘s “everyone behaves as if they’re the traitor, because everyone has selfish win criteria” (plus an actual traitor). But that may have been because zombies.

  13. Speaking of co-op games, I’ve recently bought “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle” and found that it’s a fun co-op deckbuilding game. It has seven levels of difficulty corresponding to the seven years at Hogwarts (the first two “years” are basically introduction-to-deck-building games; they get more complicated from there). It’s perfectly playable with only two players, but it has a maximum of four.

    Also fun: “Flash Point”, a co-op fire-fighter game where you’re trying to save the residents of a burning building. (The building *will* burn down, no matter how hard you try to save it; the mechanics of the game does structural damage to the building on a regular basis. Try to rescue everyone before it actually collapses….) Every player has a different role, and can change roles during the game if they want to.

  14. @Cassy B

    I’ve been thinking about getting the Hogwarts Battle game, to play with my daughter. I like the Pathfinder card game, and my daughter tends to like co-op games (e.g. Forbidden Island) and is a big HP fan, so would you recommend it?

  15. Mark, yes, I would recommend it. (I’m unfamiliar with the Pathfinder card game, so I can’t speak to that). It has a buy-cards-into-your-deck-and-keep-running-through-it mechanism like, say, Dominion. And I’ve played it (and enjoyed it!) with only two players, so even if it’s just you and your daughter it’ll work fine. The problem is if there are five of you; it has (at least right now) a hard limit of four players: Harry, Hermoine, Ron, and Neville. Each character has strengths and weaknesses; Harry is something of a generalist, Hermoine is a spell-specialist, Ron is good a dealing damage to the bad guys and Neville is good at healing everyone.

    (edit to add): I first played it at a science fiction convention with experienced players, so I can’t speak to how well or poorly the instructions are written. But if you start with Year One, it’s a good learning level. Be aware that at (say) Year Four, you’re using the spell decks from Years One, Two, Three, and Four, and the Villain and Dark Arts deck likewise all years up to Four, but the Location deck is JUST Year Four. And the character cards change (with more powers) every few years, so check the year-specific instructions to see which ones you use. At the end of each game, I’d recommend sorting the cards out by years again so you can play at whatever level you like next time. Hope this helps. )

  16. @Heather Rose Jones–

    How delightfully convenient since the 28th is my youngest brother’s birthday and he, another brother, and our father will be gathering at my house to play board games and celebrate. (In a family full of often not-very-communicative introverts, board games are how we manage family gatherings that aren’t simply all of us sitting in the same room working on our laptops.)

    What, what? Are you suggesting there’s a problem with family gatherings where everyone is working on their laptops?

    Is everyone reading also bad?

    [wanders off, worried]

  17. @Cassy

    Thanks, that’s really helpful. The player limit won’t be an issue for what I have in mind, but it’s good to know. It’s also come down in price since I first looked at it, so I’m going to take that as a sign!

  18. At (I think) Year Three, the heroes get individual powers (this is, for example, where Neville comes into his own as a healer). At Year… Five? Six? the heroes’ powers get stronger. This is good because some of the villains *really suck*.

    Actually, pretty much every year past Year Two adds some new mechanic. At Year Four (I think), there are special dice… But if you start at Year One, the new mechanics are added gradually over the years so it’s not overwhelming to learn.

    The nice thing, especially when playing with a younger person, is that nobody actually dies. The worst that can happen to your hero is that they get “stunned” for a round; they lose some cards and the Losing Condition gets advanced by one, but it’s not “too bad, so sad, go read a book while we finish this game”.

  19. @Cassy

    That has some parallels to the Pathfinder card game, where you go through various expansion levels which add more powerful cards to the deck (both good cards you can collect for your character decks, and tougher monsters/traps etc) and you also activate new character powers as you go.

  20. My gaming group enjoys Pathfinder immensely, for the character design element as much as the games. There are several versions with different themes and characters, each with some slightly altered mechanics to fit the setting – Rise of The Runelords is your standard fantasy adventure, Skull & Shackles is !pirates! (and is very fun, possibly my favourite), Wrath of the Righteous is standard fantasy again but with a demonic invasion (my least favourite so far but still okay), and Mummy’s Mask is (shockingly) Egyptian flavoured (we’re in the middle of this one and it’s good so far). Be aware that each base set only provides the first Adventure with 6 scenarios to play through, you then buy the further adventure decks (each with higher level cards and 5 more scenarios) separately. You can also buy a character add-on pack with more characters and enough extra cards to support up to 6 players (the base set suggests no more than 4, although you have more characters than that to choose from)
    You get a choice of pre-designed characters who you customise somewhat by what cards you select for your hand, and also in advancement choices, and you also get to make a specialism decision between two options midway through the campaign.
    The design isn’t always perfect, and there’s a lot of errata on the website, but when they do more “special” scenarios than just the standard one of closing the locations that have been laid out they tend to be very good indeed.
    If that sounds like your sort of thing then I certainly recommend it.

  21. “It is by Scroll alone I set my Post in motion. It is by the juice of the Snowy Tavern Tea that Gods acquire Stalks, the shelves acquire Books, the Books become a Mountain. It is by Scroll alone I set my Post in motion.”

  22. Pathfinder Adventures is also available for smartphones (first hit’s free), so you could have a look at how it plays. I’ve enjoyed playing it all by my lonesome, so I’d recommend at least giving it a look.

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