Pixel Scroll 10/4/17 A Hollow Voice Says “Pixel”

(0) WE INTERRUPT THIS SCROLL. I will be taking the train to New Mexico to attend my mother’s 91st birthday celebration over the weekend. I leave Thursday evening and get back Tuesday morning. The train won’t have wi-fi and once I get there I’ll be with the family, so I won’t be able to write Scrolls some of these days (any of these days?) I plan to set up in advance a daily stub with hope that some of you will do-it-yourself, as you did so magnificently when I was offline a year ago. Thanks also to Carl Slaughter who has also chipped in some short video roundups that will be unveiling each night.

(1) VANDERMEER DEAL. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak hears from “Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer on how his next novel is inspired by our dystopian present”.

Annihilation and Borne author Jeff VanderMeer signed a “major deal” with publisher FSG for his next novel, Hummingbird Salamander, and an untitled short story collection. The deal is for over half a million dollars, and VanderMeer tells The Verge that it’s inspired in part by his concerns over the state the world when it comes to right-wing politics, climate change, and national security.

(2) BEHIND BARS CON. Utah author Brian Lee Durfee (with Simon and Shuster) works at the Utah State Prison. With strong support from the facility’s administration, Brian is launching a convention to be held at the prison for the prisoners. Maze Runner author James Dashner will be there. Durfee told his plans and hopes for it on Facebook.

Good idea? Bad idea? COMIC CON inside a prison. Yup! I arranged it. Not as easy as one might think either. I’m calling it PRISON CON…..I will give you a moment with that) . Anyway, as many of you know I’m a Sergeant at the Utah State Prison. I also teach creative writing inside the prison. I also write novels and meet other famous authors in my travels. And I also have WILD ideas that just take root & wont let go. So on Oct 17 all my various worlds will collide! James Dashner (author of the Maze Runner series) and I are putting on a little mini convention for the Inmates. I must thank Dashner for donating his time to this event and Warden Benzon for agreeing to the craziness of it all. Inmates will be Cosplaying as…well…DOC Inmates. I will be in a Darth Vader suit. Not really. But on a serious note, the inmates LOVE books and LOVE reading, and many are even talented writers. It might not seem like much, two writers discussing books and Maze Runner movies, but letting those who are locked up feel as if they are part of normal society for even an hour or two is a huge deal. They are excited for this. So lets hope its a success because I want PRISON CON to grow and become an annual thing. I truly believe going out of your way to make a difference and to give others hope (even if its just in your own small corner of the world) is important to the future of us all. Thanks also to Director Jensen and Sgt Preece and Officer Halladay and all the programming staff and SWAT guys that will be helping. I always wanna promote the positive things that are happening on the inside.

(3) IN MINNESOTA. Cory Doctorow and Charlie Jane Anders will appear together at the Twin Cities Book Festival. Also appearing are cartoonist Roz Chast, and the Lemony Snicket guy, Senator Al Franken and others.

Twin Cities Book Festival, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Friday, October 13, 2017: 6-7pm Reception; 7-8pm Opening Night Talk

Saturday, October 14, 2017: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

(4) RECONSIDERED. I thank Nerds of a Feather, who took down the post that led off yesterday’s Scroll and issued an apology.

We made the editorial decision to pull a recent post on the video game Destiny. In the post, the author discusses at length the various weaponry used in the game and why some are more effective than others.

Like most of our pieces, this one was written more than a week ago and pre-scheduled by the author. And in normal times, this would just be another piece on video games. But these are not normal times. Two days before the Destiny piece posted, a man used an arsenal of real weapons to murder more than fifty people in Las Vegas, whose only “crime” was attending a music festival.

We do not believe that violence in video games has any more relationship to actual violence than violence in film, comics or pen-and-paper RPGs. But the timing of our post was nevertheless problematic. Like many of you, we are in deep shock and grief over what happened, and are angry that the US government does nothing to prevent these kinds of incidents. Thus we apologize for posting something that appears to treat these issues lightly, and just days after the massacre occurred.

-G, Vance and Joe

(5) WORKADAY WORLD. Galactic Journey, in “[October 4, 1962] Get to work!  (The Mercury Flight of Sigma 7)”, notes that excitement about space missions seems to decline in proportion to their frequency and successes.

Five years ago, satellite launches were quarterly events that dominated the front page.  Now, the Air Force is launching a mission every week, and NASA is not far behind.  The United Kingdom and Canada have joined the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the orbital club, and one can be certain that Japan and France aren’t far behind.  It’s truer than ever that, as I’ve said before, unmanned spaceflight has become routine.

Yesterday, the same thing happened to manned missions.\

39 year-old Navy Commander Walter M. “Wally” Schirra blasted off early the morning of October 3, 1962, flew for six orbits, and splashed down safely in the Pacific near Midway Island less than half a day later.  His Sigma 7 capsule was in space twice as long as Glenn and Carpenter’s Mercury ships and, to all accounts, it was a thoroughly uneventful trip.  Aside from the whole nine hours of weightlessness thing.

While the newspapers all picked up the mission, radio and television coverage was decidedly less comprehensive than for prior flights.  Part of it was the lack of drama.  Shepard was the first.  Grissom almost drowned.  Glenn’s mission had the highest stakes, it being our answer to the Soviet Vostok flights, and his capsule ran the risk of burning up on reentry.  For a couple of hours, Carpenter was believed lost at sea.

(6) CATNIP. John Scalzi spent a busy day telling trolls how he feels about them, a series of tweets now collected in “A Brief Addendum to ‘Word Counts and Writing Process'”.

Although I can see why Solzhenitsyn would come to mind, writing about oppression is the very reason Solzhenitsyn’s name is known. Wouldn’t it have been a comparative loss if he’d been, say, an untroubled but prolific creator of musical comedies?

(7) PURLOINED PARAGRAPHS. Lou Antonelli, the gift that keeps on taking! After File 770 announced a Storybundle with his book in it this afternoon, Lou ganked the text and put it on his blog without attribution. Admittedly all I had to do was write a frame for Kevin J. Anderson’s description of the project, but I guess a Dragon Award nominee like Lou couldn’t spare five minutes away from his next contender to write a frame of his own.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 4, 1961 Attack of the Puppet People premiered in Mexico.
  • October 4, 1985The Adventures of Hercules premiered and staring Lou Ferrigno.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SATELLITE

  • Launched October 4, 1957 – Sputnik 1

(10) MORE ON SPUTNIK. NBC says “Soviet satellite embarrassed America but also gave U.S. science education a big boost.” — “Sputnik Shook the Nation 60 Years Ago. That Could Happen Again”.

It was the size of a fitness ball, but its effect was bigger than that of any bomb.

Sixty years ago, on Oct. 4, 1957, the world awoke to learn that the Soviet Union had launched a satellite into orbit — the first nation to do so. Sputnik 1 was nearly two feet in diameter and weighed as much as a middle-aged insurance salesman. Most people were stunned.

Why was this so disturbing? The idea of artificial satellites had been around for a while. Indeed, sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke had written up a prescient scheme predicting the use of geosynchronous satellites for communications as early as 1945.

The shock, of course, was because Sputnik was launched at the height of the Cold War.

(11) COMICS SECTION

John King Tarpinian found a space fashion statement in today’s Speedbump.

(12) FROM BINTI TO MARVEL. Nnedi Okorafor will be writing for Marvel’s Black Panther.

(13) A BUNDLE THESE COST. On eBay, golden Yoda cufflinks, baby! A mere $3,999.95! (Tax and shipping mumble).

(14) CANADIAN SFF HALL OF FAME. The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association (CSFFA) added three inductees to the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2017: Charles de Lint, Lorna Toolis, and Elisabeth Vonarburg. The announcement was made September 23 at Hal-Con. [H/T Locus Online.]

(15) I INHALED. Fast Company profiles Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After by Jody Jean Dreyer, who worked for the Walt Disney Studios and Disney Parks Division for 30 years in “The Secrets Of Disneyland: A Company Vet Explains How The Magic Happens”. I knew there was an artificial “new car smell” but I didn’t know Disneyland had similar concepts for its attractions.

Provide A Complete Experience—Aromas Included

Think back to your favorite Disneyland ride. Maybe it’s the dusty rock-filled Indiana Jones Adventure, or the rickety, open-air Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Whatever your attraction of choice, your memory of it might include a smell: the stuffy, musty attic air of the Haunted Mansion or the leathery dampness of the Pirates of the Caribbean, with just a hint of gunpowder and sea salt.

“That is on purpose,” says Dreyer.

Disneyland’s Imagineers–the creative force behind Walt Disney Parks and Resorts–rely on a scent-emitting machine known as the Smellitzer (patented by Imagineer Bob McCarthy), which produces specific sweet, savory, or mundane smells to accompany various park attractions. Imagineers understand that smell is hardwired to our brain, specifically the area that handles emotions. In her book, Dreyer writes, “That’s why smell can transport us to a time and feeling that we’d long forgotten.”

So whether you’re shopping for a stuffed Donald Duck or clutching your safety bar on Space Mountain, you’ll get a whiff of whatever the Smellitzer crafted to make your experience complete. Even the wafts of popcorn along Main Street U.S.A. are by design.

(16) GOING PUBLIC. Regardless of whether they will be attending, some fans are upset that YaoiCon is letting a Vice Media crew shoot video at the con. The thread starts here.

(17) OUR PAL. Two days next week the Turner Classic Movie channel will run a series of George Pal movies.

(17) FOR YOUR FILES. How could I fail to mention a new product called Pixel Buds? Put them in your ears and they control your mind! Wait, that’s something else.

Loud, proud, wireless.

Google Pixel Buds are designed for high-quality audio and fit comfortably in your ear.

(18) CAT PICTURES. This clever design is available on a variety of products: Cat’s Eye of Sauron (Barad-pûrr).

“The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.”- The Fellowship of the Ring

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Dave Christenson, Tom Galloway, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 6/25/16 All My Kzins Remembered

(1) PHOTOS FROM THE LOCUS AWARDS.

File 770 was a Locus Award finalist in the magazine category and I did arm someone with an acceptance statement in case I unexpectedly won. It never occurred to me to dramatize my feelings about losing, however, I see First Novel nominee Sylvia Moreno-Garcia refused to admit defeat. (Or was that just her reaction to Nick Mamatas?)

My designated accepter, Suzle Tompkins, stands at the right of this photo.

(2) THUMB UP. Gary Westfahl delivers his verdict at Locus Online: “The Fogeys of July: A Review of Independence Day: Resurgence”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Since I was recently complimented at a conference for writing “honest” film reviews, I feel obliged to begin this one by conveying my honest reaction to Independence Day: Resurgence: although I was bored and appalled by the original Independence Day (1996), and utterly baffled by its tremendous popularity, I somehow found its belated sequel to be surprisingly engaging, even moving, despite some obvious issues in its logic and plausibility. Perhaps this indicates that I am finally becoming senile, unable to distinguish between worthwhile entertainment and reprehensible trash; perhaps this is a sign of the times, so that a film modeled on a film that stood out in 1996 for its risible inanity and clumsy manipulativeness now seems, amidst scores of similar films, merely typical, or even a bit superior to its lamentable competitors. Perhaps, though, it is simply a better film than its precursor, the theory that merits some extended exploration.

(3) ONLINE COMICS. David Brin is back with “A look at Science Fiction webcomics: Part 3”.

Crowded Void, by Mike West offers one of the more unusual concepts. Finding Earth too crowded and people rather distasteful, Vincent Foxwell thought he could find peace when he took a job on a cargo vessel, hauling junk in space, with only an AI for company. Space turns out to be more crowded than he imagined…. when his spacecraft is swallowed by a massive space worm, where there is already an intestinal civilization of over a million humans and aliens, jockeying for position in the worm’s digestive cycle. He must find a way to escape… before digestion is complete. But first he must deal with the The Joint Intestinal Monarchy, which controls the worm, harvesting parts from spaceships. No end of good material for humor… a new theory of wormholes? Start at the beginning here.

(4) BANDERSNATCH. Charles de Lint reviewed Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch in the July/August Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Yes, there is a wonderful font of information about the Inklings, but it also provides one of the better guides to the collaborative process, including a chapter with the end about how to get the most out of a group set up in a style similar to that of the Inklings.  I think one of the best  pieces of advice she gives is the difference between “I don’t personally like this’ and ‘This isn’t any good’ in critiquing a manuscript.

To writers setting up a writing group, I recommend Bandersnatch wholeheartedly,  That said, those who simply love to read–especially those who particularly appreciate the work of Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams–will find much to enjoy as well.

(6) EAU DE MIDCHLORIAN. When you wear Star Wars Perfumes, the Force is with you….

The trilogy of futuristic “must have” perfumes transfers the essence of the Star Wars universe skillfully into a fascinating world of fragrances, which represent the best-known elements and characters from the saga.

The products are presented in a luxurious and lavish flacon which draws upon the symbolism of probably the most emblematic element of the movie – the lightsaber.

There’s Amidala, for women, and Jedi, and Empire for men.

AMIDALA inspired this fragrance through her royal elegance as well as by her strong, indomitable will. The elegant and sensual notes of vanilla, musk and patchouli are complemented by a fruity top note of apple and tangerine and merges into a sovereign seductive aura for any situation by day and by night; a floral perfume with oriental and powdery notes, which makes its wearer irresistible.

Should you want to smell like Darth Vader, spritz yourself liberally with this stuff —

EMPIRE covers you with an aura of masculinity and power. A scent that captures the dark side of the Force; mystical, formidable and superior. It starts with a sparkle of fruity notes from lime and apple. Powerful chords of amber, patchouli and tonka-bean characterize the powerful heart and base note that refine the composition. The result is a distinctive, oriental, seductive fragrance – perfect for the night, made for men which one better does not get in the way.

I just love that The Mary Sue kicks off its post about these perfumes with a GIF from the first Star Wars movie showing our heroes in the garbage bin and Han Solo demanding, “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered.”

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 25, 1951 — On this day in 1951, CBS aired the first commercial color television network broadcast. At the time, no color TV sets were owned by the public. The broadcast was seen on color TV sets in public buildings. (Emphasis on commercial – there were other network broadcasts in color the previous year, 1950.)
  • June 25, 1982 — John Carpenter’s The Thing, seen for the first time on this day.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, whom some remember from Lassie, while fans remember her from Lost in Space.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 25, 1903 – George Orwell

(10) MARK THIS DATE: Neil Gaiman will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers next Friday night, July 1.

(11) HARD TO WIN. Chuck Tingle had a good excuse for not getting a Locus Award.

(12) BREXIT DEBRIEFING. Camestros Felapton registered his disapproval of Brexit by refusing to art containing a notorious Leave supporter.

Not doing cat pictures because Timothy is still running around the house wearing a mop and pretending to be Boris Johnson whilst shouting “effinEurolosers” at squirrels.

(13) FREE SPEECH. The July Harper’s Magazine excerpted the brief the Language Creation Society filed in the Axanar lawsuit claiming that CBS and Paramount did not have copyright over the Klingon language.

Plaintiffs claim copyright over the entire Klingon language.  The notion is meqHutlh (‘lacking reason.’)  If this court commits this qab qech (“bad idea”), an entire body of thought will be extinguished.  Hoch jaghpu’Daj HoHbogh Suvwl’ ylvup-‘ (‘Pity the warrior who kills all his enemies.’)  By Plaintiffs’ account, everyone who translates something into Klingon, writes a poem in Klingon, gives a speech or presentation at a Klingon Language Institute meeting or Star Trek convention, or gives lessons on how to speak Klingon is a copyright infringer. Qam ghu’vam, loD!  (“This will not stand, man!”)  Plaintiffs’ argument that ‘a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate’ is an insulting assertion.  Many humans speak Klingon.  People get married in Klingon.  Linguist d’Armond Speers spent three years teaching his infant son how to speak Klingon. Speaking and writing in Klingon is not simply a matter of transposing words from a different language, either.  The Sesame Street theme-song lyric ‘Sunny day, chasing the clouds away’ translates into Klingon as jaj pen puQmo’, chaw’nIS je Jaj ‘ej Haw’raDchen, or ‘Day of the daytime star, the clouds are filled with dread and forced to flee.’  Klingon is not just a language, but a state of mind.

(14) TEMPLE GRANDIN. A Blank on Blank animation of an interview with Temple Grandin contains lots of food for thought for geeks and nerds. (Don’t be thrown off by the Squarespace ad about 4:30, because Grandin resume talking for another 90 seconds when it’s done.)

(15) RAINING ON A PARADE. Jesse Hudson, in a review of Alastair Reynolds’ Chasm City for Speculiction, compares its execution unfavorably with an Iain Banks standby.

This is important to note given the bifurcated storyline, and its intended effect. Seemingly an emulation of the narrative structure of Iain Banks Use of Weapons, Reynolds’ adherence to plot above character does not allow the big reveals to be very big. I will not spoil the story for those unable to put one and one (not even two and two) together, but suffice to say the underlying reality of the situation is telegraphed in the least subtle ways the length of the novel, emphasized by the lack of complete coherence at the character level. Where Banks’ story resolves itself in surprising fashion upon the final chapter, a surprise that feeds logically back through the entire book, I have doubts Chasm City does the same for the majority of readers—this coming from a person who is terrible at predicting endings

I’m not implying any defect in Hudson’s opinion of Reynolds’ book, but I have to say I saw the ending of Use of Weapons coming from a long way off. To me, Banks’ success was in delivering the expected “surprise” in an elegant way.

(16) TOM REAMY. Joachim Boaz reminds readers about a strong award contender, now forgot, Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices (1978), at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.

Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices (1978) was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and BFSA awards and came in second in Locus voting for best novel in 1979.  Posthumously released, Reamy died of a heart attack while writing in the fall of 1977 at 42.  His take on small town America transformed by the arrival of a traveling circus and its array of wonders will stay with you for years to come.  The science fiction elements (revealed more than halfway through the novel) interlace and add to the elegiac and constrained fantasy feel.  The specter of sexuality and violence spells cataclysm.

(17) OLD SCHOOL FAN. In a piece cleverly titled “Trexit”, Steve Davidson says “Get off Star Trek’s lawn!”

Alec Peters, you asked for it and you got it.  A set of fan work guidelines for the Star Trek universe that pretty much kills everything except maybe Lego animations. (Which are fine for what they are, but…)

I don’t personally do fanfic, fan films, fan art, etc., I’m sufficiently happy to stick with the originals, lament the lack of “more of the same”, and to spend some time dithering over whether or not I want to invest in the latest whatever released by the franchise holders.

But maybe that’s because I’m an old school fan with old school ideas about how one goes about engaging with someone else’s property….

(18) A LIZARD WITHOUT THUNDER. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is falling out of love with one of the major prozines: “[June 25, 1961] The Twilight Years (July 1961 Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Like Victorian ladies’ hats, the dinosaurs became increasingly baroque until they were too ungainly to survive.

I worry that The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is heading in that direction.  I’m all for literary quality in my sf mags, but F&SF has been tilting so far in the purple direction that it is often all but unreadable.  I present Exhibit A: the July 1961 “All-Star” issue.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]