Pixel Scroll 2/9/18 Pixel, Pixel, Scrolling Bright, On The Servers Through The Night

(1) THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE. Evil Mad Scientist has released downloadable “Evil Mad Scientist Valentines: 2018”.

This year’s set features parallel lines, friction, and activation energy:

What could be more romantic than telling someone that the second derivative of your potential energy is at its minimum when you’re around them?

Evil Mad Scientist has been doing this for awhile:

You can download the full set here, which includes all 36 designs from all six years (a 1.6 MB PDF document).

(2) WHERE APES HAVE GONE BEFORE. There will be a “50 Years of Planet of the Apes Exhibit and Film Retrospective” at the University of Southern California in LA through May 13.

The USC School of Cinematic Arts has partnered with 20th Century Fox Film to host an exclusive exhibit and retrospective celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Planet of the Apes franchise titled 50 Years of Planet of the Apes.

A vast collection of props, costumes, photos, posters and artwork from across all iterations of the longstanding franchise will be on display in the Hugh Hefner Exhibition Hall at USC this spring. The exhibit will be available to visit as a work-in-progress from January 26th – February 8th and all final displays will be open from February 9th through May 13th, 2018. A series of panels and screenings will complement the exhibit, including all feature films from the Planet of the Apes universe.

The exhibit is in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the 1968 release of the first Planet of the Apes film, the original installment of the still expanding franchise that now includes four sequels, a TV series, an animated series, comic books, merchandise, and 20th Century Fox Film’s highly successful prequel film series Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and War for the Planet of the Apes.

There is a schedule of associated film screenings at the link.

(3) ROOSTING. Watch the two Falcon Heavy boosters come booming back to Earth in this video at digg: “Seriously Cool Amateur Footage Of The Simultaneous Falcon Heavy Booster Landing”.

(4) ROASTING. Falcon Heavy’s third booster didn’t make it home intact: “SpaceX confirms it lost the center core of the Falcon Heavy”.

What’s more, it landed the two flanking boosters in perfect synchronized formation. But the fate of the core booster was unclear; now it appears that the center booster, which was supposed to land on a drone ship, was lost.

Elon Musk said on a conference call with reporters that the launch “seems to have gone as well as one could have hoped with the exception of center core. The center core obviously didn’t land on the drone ship” and he said that “we’re looking at the issue.” Musk says that the core ran out of propellant, which kept the core from being able to slow down as much as it needed for landing. Because of that, the core apparently hit the water at 300MPH, and it was about 100 meters from the ship. “It was enough to take out two thrusters and shower the deck with shrapnel,” Musk said. That should be worth seeing on video: “We have the video,” Musk confirmed, “it sounds like some pretty fun footage… if the cameras didn’t get blown up as well.”

(5) SFWA AUCTION. Steven H Silver tells about a SFWA fundraiser:

Did you miss our charity auctions in December? Good news! SFWA will be auctioning off five new items every month on Ebay. Available items in February include an autographed uncorrected proof copy of Fevre Dream by George RR Martin, uncorrected proof  13th Annual Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (signed by Ellen Datlow), and a rare signed copy of This Island Earth by Raymond F. Jones.

The bidding began on February 5th and will run through February 12: Ebay.com/usr/sfwa65

All auction proceeds will be earmarked for the SFWA Givers Fund which is used to disperse grants to deserving applicants, along with bolstering the existing Emergency Medical (EMF) and Legal Funds.

For more information about our funds and what they support, please visit sfwa.org/donate. If you have items you would like to donate for future SFWA Charity Auction fundraisers, please contact Steven H Silver at steven.silver@sfwa.org for more information.

Use this search to find items.

(6) BOSKONE PROGRAM. Look forward to the panels and participants discussing “Black Science Fiction at Boskone”, February 16-18 in Boston.

This year Boskone features a program with a strong selection of panels and discussions dedicated to black science fiction authors, publishers, and fans. Our program includes everything from black publishers and Afrofuturism to works by authors such as Octavia Butler, science panels that include the future of medicine, writing discussions that tackle young adult fiction, and much, much more!

Here’s a quick list of some of our program items with an emphasis on black science fiction and the authors who will be joining us from across the country. For the full set of program items, view the Boskone 55 program….

(7) VOLCANO IN TOWSON. Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast visits with Norman Prentiss to sample the volcano shrimp at a Chinese restaurant in Towson, MD.

And who is this episode’s guest? Why, it’s Norman Prentiss, who won the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction for Invisible Fences, and the 2009 Stoker for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction for “In the Porches of My Ears.” His powerful, personal fiction has been reprinted in both Best Horror of the Year and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and his poetry has appeared in Writer Online, Southern Poetry Review, and A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock.


Norman Prentiss

We discussed the day he wowed the other kids on his school playground by reading them Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the movies a Catholic Church newsletter’s warnings made him want to see even more, the supernatural superhero comic that led to a lawsuit against Harlan Ellison, the upside and (surprising) downside of having won a $35,000 college writing prize, how the freebies he got at a Horrorfind convention goosed him to start writing fiction again, why he wrote the last part of his novel Odd Adventures with Your Other Father first, how he’s been able to collaborate with other authors without killing them, what can be taught about writing and what can only be learned, why he ended up writing horror instead of science fiction, and much, much more.

(8) WONDER ANNUAL POWERS, ACTIVATE! Rich Horton announced the contents of
The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2018 Edition so Jason went to work at Featured Futures and finished his “Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!)”

Last year, I collated and linked to the webzine stories picked by Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan for their annuals. This year, I’ve collated all the selections. (I’ve also noted whether I’ve read them and, if so, whether they got an honorable mention, a recommendation, or were recommendations which made my Web’s Best Science Fiction or Web’s Best Fantasy.)


  • Born February 9, 1960 – Laura Frankos

(10) FRANKOS. Steven H Silver celebrated Frankos at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: Laura Frankos’s ‘A Late Symmer Night’s Battle’”.

… When a follow-up attack of reremice occur, the fairies must question what they are fighting for and what makes a race worthwhile. While Frankos could have told the story with tremendous amounts of gravitas, the venue for its publication was looking for more lighthearted fare and she managed to deliver, sprinkling her tale with wonderful puns….

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY UNIVERSE. The BBC has the snapshot: “Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrates its 10th birthday with an epic cast photo”.

Over the past decade Marvel has brought us 18 films, starting with Iron Man in 2008 and including Thor, The Avengers and Captain America.

The class photo of 76 actors appeared on Twitter on Thursday.

It includes major players in the films like Robert Downey Jr, Vin Diesel, Scarlett Johansson and Letitia Wright.

The picture was shortly followed by a behind the scenes video.

It begins with Thor’s Chris Hemsworth saying: “It was sort of like being at the Academy Awards or something, every person had been in one or all of my favourite films.”



  • Mike Kennedy asks, “Is Gumby genre? Perhaps so…” — The Flying McCoys.
  • And Mike learned from  Basic Instructions, “If you wish to be an evil Emperor, do not waste time taunting your nemesis. Especially in falsetto.”
  • Cath found another cat/book/humor connection in today’s Breaking Cat News.
  • Cath also knows I need proofreading advice —

(13) YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW. Is the work of comic book colorists inherently apolitical?

(14) MORE ON ACKERMAN. Adam-Troy Castro heard about Forrest J Ackerman’s behavior in 1997:

Yes, I knew about Forry Ackerman twenty years ago.

I was part of the committee that gave him the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award. I need you to know that I was outvoted. We were giving two awards that year and the Ackerman partisans were given what they wanted in order for those who were against the citation to be given what they wanted. Even so, the hell that went on behind the scenes was intense and lasted for months after the official announcement was made. But yes, one of the things that came up during the hellish brouhaha that followed was that he had, quote, “a house full of child pornography.”

The months of invective that went on, back and forth, behind the scenes, amounted to the worst period of my writing career….

(15) WET WORK. Beneath the waters of the Gulf: “Long-Buried Ice Age Forest Offers Climate Change Clues”.

Scientists say it’s a remarkable discovery.

“The underwater forest is like the Garden of Eden underwater,” says Christine DeLong, a paleo-climatologist at Louisiana State University. She says tests date the forest to be between 50,000 and 70,000 years old.

“It’s a huge deal,” DeLong says. “Because here we have this like perfectly preserved time capsule of an ice age forest.”

(16) LIGHTEN UP. Thanks to French scientists and a NASA probe, “Secrets of solar flares are unlocked”.

Flares can occur on their own, or be accompanied by powerful eruptions of plasma (charged gas) from the Sun.

If charged particles from these eruptions reach Earth, they can create havoc with infrastructure, such as satellite systems and power grids.

Now, researchers in France say the interaction of distinct magnetic structures controls these outbursts from our star.

Generally speaking, solar eruptions are caused by a sudden, violent rearrangement of the Sun’s magnetic field.

At a deeper level, the process is controlled by two types of structures that form in the magnetic field of the Sun: ropes and cages.

The rope is confined within the magnetic cage. If the cage is strong, it can contain the rope’s contortions, but when the cage is weak, an eruption can take place.

(17) WATER SIGN. Sydney has a unique solution to trucks trying to get into tunnels they’re too tall for: a water wall as a screen for a giant projected STOP sign. (Video at the link.) “That will stop them in their tracks! Virtual barrier made from curtain of water halts lorries from driving through too small tunnels”.

They had tried flashing signs, neon signs and staggered signs.

But when lorry drivers continued to keep on driving their over-sized trucks though low tunnels, Australian authorities took the extreme measure of warning drivers with water signs.

Drivers are greeted with a curtain of water falling from the entrance of tunnels with a huge ‘stop’ sign projected on to them….

Laservision said that the Sydney Harbour Tunnel has experienced more than 10,000 incidents of vehicles hitting the structure since it opened.

The damage caused by too large vehicles crashing into the overhead of the tunnel affected up to 12,000 motorists at peak time, the company said.

There’s also this TV clip of the sign in action –

And the manufacturer’s writeup: “Activated 8 times in 8 weeks, with 100% success!”

(18) BUGEYED. “What Scientists Learned From Putting 3-D Glasses on Praying Mantises”: The Atlantic has the story.

One might assume that any animal with two forward-facing eyes would automatically have stereopsis, but that’s not true. It’s a sophisticated skill that requires a lot of processing power and a complex network of neurons—one that not every animal can afford to build. Indeed, after stereopsis was first confirmed in humans in 1838, it took 132 years for scientists to show that other species had the same ability. Macaque monkeys were the first confirmed member of the stereopsis club, but they were soon joined by cats, horses, sheep, owls, falcons, toads—and praying mantises. In the 1980s, Samuel Rossel placed prisms in front of these insects to show that they do triangulate the images from both eyes to catch their prey.

When Jenny Read, from Newcastle University, first read about this, she was amazed. How could an insect pull off such a complicated trick with a brain that contains just 1 million neurons? (For comparison, our brains have 100,000 times that number.) To find out, she and Nityananda set up their mantis 3-D cinemas….

They presented the insects with screens full of black and white dots, with a slightly different pattern projected to each eye. Against these backgrounds, a small circle of dots—a target—would slowly spiral inward from the outside. “It’s meant to be like a little beetle moving against a background,” says Read.

By tweaking the dots, the team could change how far away this target would appear to the watching mantises. And they found that the insects would start to attack the target when it seemed to get within striking distance. Clearly, the insects have stereopsis.

But their stereopsis is not our stereopsis. We use brightness as a cue to align and compare the images that are perceived by our two eyes. Scientists can confirm this by presenting one eye with an image that’s a negative of the other—that has black dots where the other has white ones, and vice versa. “For us, that’s incredibly disruptive. We really can’t match up the images anymore, so our stereopsis falls apart,” says Read. “But the mantises are completely unfazed.” Brightness clearly doesn’t matter to them.

(19) THUMBRUNNERS. I’m not sure “parts is parts” when they’re human — “Special Report: U.S. body brokers supply world with torsos, limbs and heads”.

Demand for body parts from America — torsos, knees and heads — is high in countries where religious traditions or laws prohibit the dissection of the dead. Unlike many developed nations, the United States largely does not regulate the sale of donated body parts, allowing entrepreneurs such as MedCure to expand exports rapidly during the last decade.

No other nation has an industry that can provide as convenient and reliable a supply of body parts.

(Larry Niven once said he preferred Alexei Panshin’s “thumbrunners,” but having been beaten to the term, he’d come up with his alternative, “organleggers.”)

(20) SPACE MOUNTAIN. You get a glimpse inside the illusion created by a popular Disneyland attraction in this Orange County Register piece: “Space Mountain fan gets the roller coaster’s 87-year-old designer to ride it one last time at Disneyland”

How fast do you think you’re traveling when you’re in the rockets on Space Mountain?

Think of the speed of a car on the freeway. Is Space Mountain faster than that? Slower? Is it 100 miles per hour, like Bill Watkins has heard people telling each other?

Watkins contemplated the speed question for years in the early- to mid-1970s. He built his first Space Mountain at Walt Disney World in Florida. But it was bigger – a 300-ft. circle on two tracks. When the Disneyland Space Mountain opened in 1977, Watkins had completed what he always saw as a giant math problem.

Space Mountain is a gravity coaster. Unlike the Matterhorn, which relies on thrusters to help move its vehicles forward, Space Mountain simply starts up and goes down. Technically, it’s 75 seconds of free fall.

At its maximum speed (which can vary slightly depending on the combined weight of the riders) the car you’re riding in Space Mountain is traveling about 40 feet per second.

That’s 27.27 miles per hour.

That seems really slow.

But Watkins somehow made it just right. More than 250 million people have ridden Space Mountain since it opened. And while it’s unclear if it’s the best – Disneyland’s public relations department would only say that Space Mountain is, according to guests, “a top 10 attraction” – how many are better?

It is certainly arguable that Bill Watkins created the most popular roller coaster of all time.

“I seldom meet anyone who hasn’t ridden it,” he said.

(21) BEST PRO ARTIST RESOURCE. Rocket Stack Rank’s  “2018 Professional Artists” page is designed —

To help people make nominations for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist, we have set up a “lightbox” system to let fans quickly flip through the works of over 113 artists listed below and to set aside the ones they particularly liked.

Greg Hullender says —

This is aimed at helping people pick artists to nominate, based on covers for magazines and for books containing original novels or anthologies. We don’t have pictures for reprints.

Where possible, we have links to the artists’ portfolios, so readers can get a broader idea of any particular artist’s work. To simplify that a bit, for eligible artists who had just a few works published in 2017 we’ve padded their list of pictures with their art from earlier years. (They’re marked by date for the benefit of those who only want to see works published in 2017.)

(22) ROBOTECH RETURNS. Titan Comics will publish a new graphic novel based on the classic Robotech saga.

A mysterious ship crashes on a remote island… 10 years later, the ship’s ‘Robotechnology’ has helped humanity advance its own tech. But danger looms from the skies and an epic adventure is set to begin…

The world-famous, fan-favorite animated epic returns to comics with a classic transforming-jetfighters-versus-giant-aliens adventure! Written by Brian Wood (Star Wars, Briggs Land, X-Men), with art from Marco Turini (Assassin’s Creed) and colorist Marco Lesko! Return to the fan-favorite Macross Saga that began the classic Robotech franchise, as hotshot Veritech pilot Roy Fokker and skilled rookie Rick Hunter are pulled into an intergalactic war when the Earth is invaded by the insidious Zentraedi! Whether you’ve seen the classic cartoon to the point you can quote every episode, or whether you’ve never experienced Robotech before, this graphic novel collection is for you!


[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cath, Andrew Porter, Will R., David K.M. Klaus, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day evilrooster.]

Why The Evidence Should Be Examined

Well, that was a disappointment.

John C. Wright’s “Heinlein, Hugos and Hogwash”  begins —

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is.

With a hook like that I naturally expected him to deliver some kind of cogent argument. Instead, his Heinlein reference was a bait-and-switch.  Readers expecting to learn something about the contemporary reception of Robert Heinlein find themselves subjected to a belligerent rant about the critics of Larry Correia, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Moon, Theodore Beale and the SFWA Bulletin. Heinlein is just some talismanic figure whose name, once invoked, never appears again after the opening paragraphs of the article.

How does fandom actually regard Heinlein? When Steve Davidson tried to tackle all this in a rambling answer on Amazing Stories blog he only got the back of Wright’s hand for his effort

I am taken to task for daring to say Heinlein would not win the Hugo these days.

I regard the observation as unexceptional; a sufficient number of Leftists denounce Heinlein as a fascist and sexist, and who (by their own admission) do not vote on the merits of the author’s work but on his ideological purity, to defeat a nomination.

All the blogosphere’s disapproving comments about the people Wright defends in his article show nothing about contemporary Hugo voters’ willingness to honor Robert Heinlein. How do we know it shows nothing? Because Heinlein has been voted three Hugo awards in this century!

In 2001, when Worldcon members awarded Retro Hugos to works published in 1950, the winners included Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky for Best Novel and “The Man Who Sold The Moon” for Best Novella. Then, for good measure, Destination Moon won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo, made from a screenplay co-written by Heinlein based on his novel Rocketship Galileo.

Heinlein’s track record of winning Hugos does not mean there has ever been at any time a monolithic and approving view of Robert Heinlein. Let no one be deluded by this other ridiculous claim in Wright’s article — “But in his [Heinlein’s] day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas.” The period when Heinlein won his original four Hugos (1956-1967) was by no means some kind of golden age where nobody ever questioned his political views or criticized his work. Don’t kid yourself! He’s always been controversial within fandom. If you want to know what those days were really like, start by reading Alexei Panshin’s article about Heinlein’s attempt to stop publication of his literary biography Heinlein in Dimension.

Sound and Fury Signifying Trivia

Today’s trivia question: Every winner of the Best Fan Writer Hugo has made at least one professional sale, but two winners have never sold a science fiction story. Can you name them?

The winners since the creation of the category in 1967 are: Terry Carr, Richard E. Geis, Mike Glyer, Dave Langford, Cheryl Morgan, Alexei Panshin, John Scalzi, Bob Shaw, Wilson Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., Ted White and Susan Wood.

Most of the names are easy to rule out because their record in the sf field is so well known.

Wilson Tucker won the 1970 Best Fan Writer Hugo, then had Year of the Quiet Sun nominated as Best Novel in 1971.

Scalzi’s novel Old Man’s War and its sequels have received Hugo nominations.

Dave Langford’s “Different Kinds of Darkness” won Best Short Story in 2001.

Bob Shaw’s classic short story “Light of Other Days” received a Hugo nomination in 1967. He didn’t get around to winning the Best Fan Writer Hugo until 1979 (and again in 1980.)

Ted White’s first novel was written in collaboration with another Best Fan Writer winner, Terry Carr. Invasion from 2500 (1964) was published under the pseudonym Norman Edwards. Ted went on to write lots of other novels under his own name.

Terry Carr, in the middle of a run of seven other nominations for his fan writing and fanzines (Fanac, Lighthouse) had a short story nominated for the Hugo in 1969, “The Dance of the Changer and the Three.” The year Terry finally won the Best Fan Writer Hugo, 1973, he was also nominated for Best Professional Editor (in the category’s debut), and it was as an editor he won his last two Hugos (1985, 1987).

Alexei Panshin won the first Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1967. He declined his nomination in 1968, hoping to set an example for future winners. He also had great success as a pro. His novel Rite of Passage received a Hugo nomination in 1969 and won the Nebula.

Harry Warner Jr. had 11 short stories published in the mid-1950s (and grumbled when that was discovered by his neighbors in Hagerstown — see the link below in comments).

Richard E. Geis has sold any number of erotic sf novels.

I trail this parade at a respectful distance, with one pro sale that appeared in Mike Resnick’s Alternate Worldcons.

That leaves two winning fanwriters to account for: Cheryl Morgan and Susan Wood. Cheryl has made nonfiction sales, but the Locus index lists no fiction. Susan Wood published scholarly work about the sf field, but no stories. So Morgan and Wood are the answer. (Subject to correction, as always…)

Update 10/12/2009: Of course Harry Warner sold short stories — text corrected. Thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the assist. Update 10/13/2009: And to Dave Langford for catching mistakes about Shaw’s story I have been helplessly repeating since, oh, 1967, although they ought to be avoidable  — I can always remember the exact year “Neutron Star” won its Hugo. 10/18/2009: Alexei Panshin’s comment gives the real reason he turned down his Best Fan Writer nomination in 1968.

My First Fanzine

I was a young teenager on the way to summer day camp, sometime in the late Sixties, riding in the back seat of the camp leader’s Ford station wagon. Among the junk on the floor of the car was a copy of Galaxy magazine, a name I recognized from H. L. Gold’s various Galaxy Reader short story collections, though Analog was the only pulp magazine I followed in those days. I picked this one up and paged through it until an ad caught my eye. Something named Science Fiction Review announced that it published articles by and interviews with a whole list of SF writers – including my personal favorite, Poul Anderson. What a revelation! It never occurred to me that these people talked to anybody but John W. Campbell, much less held their conversations in a nonfiction magazine that I could read.

I didn’t have the money to subscribe to SFR, or else I might have discovered fandom right away. Instead, the concept of such a magazine remained like a banked fire in my memory.

Around the same time, the Young Adult librarian at the local branch of the LA Public Library announced she was starting a science fiction discussion group. An eclectic handful of us came to the meetings, ranging from Richard Wadholm, the only one of us truly in tune with the Sixties, in his appreciation of rock music and Alexei Panshin, to Kent Halliwell, a conservative who read every issue of The Plain Truth and seemed disturbingly unsurprised the afternoon the librarian mentioned that the library’s most-stolen book was Mein Kampf.

After we’d been meeting for a couple of months, the librarian said the LAPL was willing to put some modest resources behind things the group wanted to do. I told them about my idea for a magazine, and the idea caught fire. As I mentioned, though I’d seen an ad for SFR we’d never seen a fanzine, or heard that word, so we tried to produce an imitation Analog. I wrote Campbellesque, pro-space editorials. Bryan Coles and Kent Halliwell produced political satires about the Galactic Congress. Richard Wadholm wrote short fiction and reviews. Mark Tinkle wrote poetry.

My parents contributed to a critical part of the plan when they agreed to make a Sears ink drum mimeograph a kind of family Christmas present.

The LAPL xeroxed the cover art, and I cranked out the rest of the pages on mimeograph.

That SFR ad had also fostered my ambition to get contributions from real pro writers. It implied they had all kinds of ideas and opinions they wanted to put in front of the public – which was true enough – so I naively offered them space for this purpose in our publication. I checked the LA phone books and located addresses for Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury. They actually answered, with brief, encouraging notes turning down my offer. They weren’t intended as contributions, obviously, yet it seemed a pity to waste them. So I began printing these in the “Rejection Slip” department, where the tables were turned and writers rejected a magazine.

Harlan promptly responded with another – surprisingly patient – note which essentially said, don’t do that again. So I didn’t.

And that is how our group started as a self-invented pocket of science fiction fandom.

It was not very long before our library-based fanac brought us in contact with mainstream fandom. We heard about LASFS from some Granada Hills High School students. Then, I finally did subscribe to Science Fiction Review and not only got to see that fanzine, but contacted one of its readers, Florence Jenkins, a local woman who had offered to give away her fanzines to someone who would come and pick them up. I came away with a carload of Granfalloons, Beabohemas, Yandros and other genzines of the day. I began to learn a lot about fannish culture. Before long, I was ready for new challenges – like LASFS poker.