Pixel Scroll 3/12/17 The Band Played Scrolling Matilda

(1) ALL WISDOM, Last October, The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar interviewed Talmon Marco, CEO of Juno, a ride-hailing app that is trying to take business from Uber and Lyft by offering its drivers more pay and stock options.

When I asked Marco why he was so sure that Juno would still be around, he said, half jokingly, that he had acquired all the wisdom he needed by reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. “Oh, my God,” he said. “It’s the Bible.  Everything is there.”

…I asked Marco to share what he had learned from the book, and he hesitated.  “Now you’re really putting me on the spot,” he said.  After thinking for a few seconds, he went on, “It claims the math never works in a restaurant, which explains why the bill never adds up.” He wasn’t sure if that was still true, because, he said, he stopped looking at restaurant checks a long time ago — preemptively handing your credit card to the server saves the five minutes it takes to get the bill, look at it, and send it back with the payment.

“It was a very popular book, especially when I was growing up, among geeks in the eighties and nineties,” Marco went on.  “You have to ask the founders of Snapchat.”

(2) A BOOK OF HER OWN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Gabby Rivera, whose “Latina, queer, superpowered and superpopular character” America Chavez has made appearances in the Marvel books Young Avengers and The Ultimates and has now appeared in her own comic book from Marvel, America.

 “Superhero comics seemed so out of my league that I never even imagined it as something I could do. But the second the opportunity came my way, it felt so right,” Rivera told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’ve always dreamt up wild, powerful and carefree superheroes that look like me and my family: thick, brown, goofy, beautiful. And now I get to see them come to life. ‘America’ is going to be all those things and it’s [going to] be wild.”

Before beginning to write “America,” the new solo series (illustrated by Joe Quinones) that debuted in print and digitally last week, Rivera dived into stacks of comic books featuring the superstrong heroine who can fly and punch star-shaped dimension-hopping holes into the air. Rivera called it her “crash course” on all things America.

(3) PODCASTING TIME LORD. Scott Edelman writes, “I was very pleased to have gotten live on the second weekend of March 2017 an episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded the second weekend of March 1995! How? You’ll see.”

Episode 31 is a 1995 World Horror Con Flashback:

So prepare to time travel back to a 1995 mall food court lunch as I talk about my first job at Marvel Comics, how I broke into writing for Tales from the Darkside, and the beginnings of Science Fiction Age magazine, while Adam-Troy Castro reveals how he created the first story in the first issue of that magazine, as well as how a cab ride he feared he wouldn’t survive turned into one of his most memorable works of fiction.

(4) AS THE TWIG IS BENT. Crooked Timber is running one of their seminars on Ada Palmer’s “Terra Ignota” books — Too Like the Lightning, and the just-released Seven Surrenders. So far they have posted –

Ada Palmer’s new book – Seven Surrenders – is out today. So too is our seminar….

Almost all science fiction, as J.G. Ballard remarked in the introduction to Vermilion Sands, is really about the present day. This is certainly less true today than it was in 1971, but it is still often the case that the relationship between our present and the future world that is depicted – or between the present of the imagined world and that future’s past, when anyone inside the story decides to look back – is oddly straightforward and uninteresting. This is certainly not something that can be said of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota books.

In the genres of science fiction and fantasy, when a book is written in an unusual mode, it’s usually either a gimmick or window-dressing. Window-dressing is when for instance a Victorian feeling book has a faux Victorian style as part of that feel. An example of this would be Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where Heinlein doesn’t have to tell us that the English spoken on the moon is heavily influenced by Australian and Russian, he gives us a first person narrative devoid of articles and peppered with Russian borrowings and Australian slang. It’s great, but really it’s just scenery, everything else would be the same if he’d chosen to write the book in third with just the dialogue like that. It’s quite unusual to read something where the mode is absolutely integral to what the book is doing. In Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence, the decaying grammar and vocabulary of the first person narrator, Lola, mirrors the disintegration of society around her, and we the reader slowly move from a near future with a near normal text to a complete understanding of sentences that would have been incomprehensible on page one, in a world that has also changed that much.

Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders tell the story of beautiful, brilliant, compassionate people who are also terribly vulnerable. They are Eloi who have convinced themselves Morlocks do not exist; they are victim-beneficiaries of two hundred years of willful ignorance of growing rot. Like the dragon Smaug, they’ve rested on their hoard for centuries, adding layer after layer to their invulnerable bejeweled armor—but they cannot see the armor’s chink, the soft space waiting for Bard the Bowman’s arrow.

The arrow is shaped like God.

(5) AMERICAN GODS. The creators of the American Gods TV series told attendees at a SXSW panel the show has new meaning in “a climate that vilifies immigrants”.

When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods comes to television next month, it’s going to look a little different than fans of the book remember — and its creators hope they’ll take away a subtle political message alongside the myths and magic.

“Our first task of adapting is to make the show that we wanted to see as an audience member,” said Bryan Fuller, one of the showrunners. But “it’s definitely a different show than we set out to make, because the political climate in America shat its pants,” he said. “We are now telling massive immigration stories in a climate that vilifies immigrants. And so we have a strange new platform to start a different kind of conversation.” Fellow showrunner Michael Green agreed. “The book is joyful, it celebrates a lot of things that we love about America, and have since become weirdly odd about America,” he said.

Neil Gaiman echoed the sentiment on Twitter after the panel. “I don’t think we preach,” he told a fan. “And we didn’t think we were making a politically relevant show, just adapting a book about immigrants and America.”

(6) POLITICAL ACTION FIGURES. You may or may not ordinarily be interested in a review and photos of Pinhead Hellraiser III 1/6th action figure by ThreeZero, but Cat Eldridge predicts many readers will be entertained by the political statement at the very end of the review…

(7) NAFF. The National Australian Fan Fund, to send one Australian fan to the Natcon, has opened voting. The winner will attend Continuum 13 in Melbourne, June 9–13.

There are four candidates from three states:

  • Jason Fischer (SA)
  • Talitha Kalago (QLD)
  • Fe Waters (WA)
  • Jay Watson (WA)

More details available here. Voting ends April 16.

(8) AT THE BACK OF THE PACK. Rolling Stone has ranked all the cast members from Saturday Night Live since the beginning of the show in the 1970s. Although he went on to have a hugely successful acting career in the Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man movie franchises, this fellow came in last place —

  1. Robert Downey Jr.

Era: 1985-1986

Robert Downey Jr. is a comic genius. Making him unfunny stands as SNL’s most towering achievement in terms of sucking. How do you fuck up a sure thing like Downey? He’s funny in anything. I mean, dude was funny in Weird Science. He was funny in Johnny Be Good. He was funny in Iron Man. But he met his Kryptonite, and it was SNL, where he spent the 1985-1986 season sucking up a storm. His greatest hit? A fart-noise debate with Anthony Michael Hall. In a perverse way, the Downey Fail sums up everything that makes SNL great. There are no sure things. No rules. No do-overs. No safety net — when you flop on SNL, you flop big. And that’s the way it should be. The cameras roll at 11:30, ready or not. Live from New York — it’s Saturday Night.

(9) COSTUMING HISTORY. A video compilation of Kat Bushman’s convention masquerade entries from 1967-2000.

(10) LONG-LASTING HORROR. On Fivebooks, Darryl Jones, who teaches at Trinity College in Dublin, is asked to recommend the best horror stories. He turns to 1897 and reminds us why The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Great God Pan are still worth reading.

Can you give some examples?

One of the best places to look for examples is late-Victorian England. Think of 1897, the year of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which marks the zenith of the British Empire.

1897 also saw the publication of a number of landmark works which were very anxious about the status and lasting power of the British Empire. These works often envisage colonial or intergalactic Others coming to invade London, the imperial metropolis. London gets invaded, London gets destroyed.

(11) KEEP ON TINGLING. A reworking of a popular meme —

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Standback, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 6/20/16 The Knights Who Say “Pi(xel)”

(1) SPOILERIFFIC GAME OF THRONES RECAP. Lots of GoT recaps online and I tend to read them at random. I found much to recommend Ben Van Iten’s “The Game of Throne Awards, Season 6, Episode 9: Two Battles for the Price of One!” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog which ends with a holiday-appropriate joke —

The “GIRL POWER WHOO!” award goes to the newfound alliance between Dany and Yara. They bonded over a number of subjects, but mostly how terrible their dads were. Happy Father’s Day?

(2) CILIP KATE GREENAWAY MEDAL. Chris Riddle has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, The Sleeper and the Spindle. Riddell is the award’s first three-time winner, and also the first reigning  Children’s Laureate to win.

(3) PEAKE RETURN. Chip Hitchcock recommends a BBC post, “Watching Tim Peake return to Earth”: “Describing Tim Peake’s landing — much more rugged than most authors talked about: The nearest to this I can remember is the arrival on Earth of Manny and the Professor in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — but they were definitely traveling in economy class….”

Next to emerge was Tim Peake. Pale-faced from six months without sun, he was grinning and relaxed and apparently well.

But the sudden exposure to the baking summer heat obviously left him uncomfortable, medics offering him sips of water and mopping his brow.

Having met him a number of times over the past seven years, I felt moved to welcome him back to Earth. He smiled and said he’d been so well trained that the descent was fine and he was loving the fresh air.

You would never have known he’d just spent a few hours crammed into an agonisingly small spaceship and endured the perils of descent with scorching temperatures and violent swings.

(4) TED WHITE PULPFEST GOH. PulpFest today reminded everyone Amazing Stories editor Ted White will be its 2016 Guest of Honor. (A full profile appeared in January).

PulpFest is very pleased to welcome as its 2016 Guest of Honor, author, editor, musician, and science-fiction and pulp fan Ted White. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 1968 and nominated as Best Professional Editor or for Best Professional Magazine throughout most of the seventies, Mr. White will speak about his career, AMAZING STORIES, science fiction fandom, the pulps, and much, much more on Saturday evening, July 23, from 7:30 to 8:15 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.

We look forward to seeing you at “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” from July 21 through July 24 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency and the city’s spacious convention center in the exciting Arena District of Columbus, Ohio. Please join us as editor emeritus Ted White helps PulpFest celebrate ninety years of AMAZING STORIES!

(Our guest of honor continues to publish professionally after more than sixty years of practicing his craft. His short story, “The Uncertain Past,” appeared in the March & April 2014 number of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION — featuring front cover art by Kent Bash — while “The Philistine” can be found in the October 2015 issue of ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 20, 1975 Jaws was released.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau
  • June 20, 1952 — John Goodman

(7) FORECAST DENIED. Henry Farrell tells Crooked Timber readers “The Age of Em Won’t Happen” and advises author Hanson to read Hannu Rajaniemi and Ken McLeod.

Tyler Cowen says that the predicted future of Robin Hanson’s Age of Em – a world in which most cognitive and much physical labor will be done by emulations of brain-scanned human beings – won’t happen. I agree. I enjoyed the book, and feel a bit guilty about criticizing it, since Hanson asked me for comments on an early draft, which I never got around to giving him (the last eighteen months have been unusually busy for a variety of reasons). So the below are the criticisms which I should have given him, and which might or might not have led him to change the book to respond to them (he might have been convinced by them; he might have thought they were completely wrong; he might have found them plausible but not wanted to respond to them – every good book consists not only of the good counter-arguments it answers, but the good counter-arguments that it brackets off).

(8) HOW GREAT IS THE SLATE? Lisa Goldstein has launched her 2016 Hugo nominee review series with “And So It Begins: Short Story: ‘Asymmetrical Warfare’”.

In “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon, Earth is attacked by starfish-shaped aliens, who then wonder why the Earth warriors they killed aren’t regenerating.…

(9) BIG GUEST LIST AT GALLIFREY 2017. Shaun Lyon alerted the media today – here are the big names coming to the next Gallifrey One convention:

It’s time for our first guest block announcement for 2017! First, Gallifrey One is delighted to welcome back to Los Angeles our confirmed guests Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Daphne Ashbrook (Grace) and 1970s producer Philip Hinchcliffe, as well as guest actors Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), Prentis Hancock (“The Ribos Operation,” “Planet of the Daleks”) and Michael Troughton (“Last Christmas”), costume designer June Hudson, the voice of the Daleks and Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs, Dalek operators and writers/actors Nicholas Pegg and Barnaby Edwards, composer Dominic Glynn, Big Finish managing producer Jason Haigh-Ellery, and writers Paul Cornell, Gary Russell, Richard Dinnick, Scott Handcock, David J. Howe, Sam Stone and Tony Lee.

Next, we have a special treat for British TV fans, as we welcome actress Hattie Hayridge — known best as the female Holly in the long-running sci-fi comedy “Red Dwarf” — for her first appearance in L.A.

And that’s not all. It is with great pleasure that we are finally able to welcome one of the last few principal cast members of the classic Doctor Who series we haven’t had before… Lalla Ward (Romana II) joins us for her first and only North American event in 21 years! In conjunction with Ms. Ward’s appearance, we are happy to announce that the beneficiary of Gallifrey One’s 2017 charity auction will be Denville Hall, the UK-based actors’ retirement home for which Ms. Ward is the trustees’ chairperson. We’re thrilled to once again bring our attendees this unique guest experience courtesy our friends at Showmasters Events, who are sponsoring both Ms. Ward and several of our guests listed above.

(10) ENJOY LIFE TO THE HILT. This design-your-own lightsaber system, funded by $1.2M raised on Indiegogo, can now be ordered online. They have shipped over 4,000 to Indiegogo and Kickstarter supporters.

Adaptive Saber Parts are an easy to use modular system that lets anyone construct their very own movie quality custom saber. we have lowered the barrier to entry, now you don’t need expensive machinery, soldering equipment, or years of prop building experience to make your very own custom saber, all you need is your imagination, and Adaptive Saber Parts.

To go along with our ground breaking ASP system, we designed a three dimensional virtual saber builder that allows you to create and modify your custom saber in a digital saber workshop.

 

(11) FIGHTING ‘BOTS. At Future War Stories, “FWS Topics: Miliart Robots and Robotic Soldiers”.

The Near Future of Military Robots

One element of military robots that P.W. Singer raised in his 2009 TED talk was that while America is one of the first to put armed UAVs into the modern battlefield, we do not dominate the field of military robotics. Islamic extremist groups have been using drones, remote controlled explosives with grim effective in Iraq and with off-of-the-shelf hobby drones, more military robots will be accessible to all, even those who want to do harm to the US and her allies. We will see more nations, PMCs, and groups using military robotic systems for surveillance and combat within the next few decades. Nations like the United States, will create more advanced military robots that will be tasked support and combat, unmanning more of modern warfare, downsizing the scale of military organizations. Some warfighters, as with UAV drone pilots today, will never get their boots dusty on foreign soil, but will be engaged in actual warfare. These remote control operators will command battlefield units, in the air, ground, and even sea from thousands of miles away….

(12) LO-TECH FX. The “Melting Toht Candle” is not on my wish list….

melting-toht-candle_2378

If you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s probably one scene that really sticks in the memory. No not that gigantic boulder tumbling after Indy, nor when he shoots that sword-twirling nutter in the market square, nor even when he has that uncomfortable staring contest with a cobra…

No, we’re talking about when ruthless Gestapo agent Toht gets his gory comeuppance at the end of the film…

  • Celebrate the greatest special-effects death in movie history
  • Wax replica of sadistic Gestapo agent Toht – specs, fedora n’ all
  • Thankfully it melts a lot slower than his face does in the film
  • Doesn’t emit a blood-curdling screech as it burns

(13) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Nicole Hill at B&N Sci-Fit & Fantasy Blog declares “New Pompeii Is a Popcorn-Worthy Summer Thriller”.

Refreshing in its straightforward appeal, Godfrey’s plot rests largely upon the shoulder of Nick Houghton, a down-on-his-luck history scholar who, through mysterious machinations, is offered the job of a lifetime. Novus Particles, one of those monolithic corporations that seem to exist solely to manufacture ethical quandaries, has long mucked about with controversial technology able to transport matter from the past to the present. To varying degrees of success, Novus has brought forward things and people from events at least 30 years in the past. (Time travel, in this world, has its limitations, chiefly in the form of tinkering with the recent past.)

Now, the company has covertly created its crown jewel: a replica Pompeii, populated by residents transported in time moments before their preordained deaths at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Hapless, brainy Nick has been tagged to take over as the company’s historical adviser, a position designed both to study the displaced culture of Pompeii and to subdue the natives’ unease by maintaining the pitch-perfect authenticity of their surroundings.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Stephen Burridge, Chip Hitchcock, Lisa Goldstein, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]