Pixel Scroll 4/12/18 But By God, Elliot, It Was A Pixel Scroll From Life!

(1) KINGFISHER. James Davis Nicoll turned the Young  People Read Old SFF panel loose on “Toad Words” by T. Kingfisher.

Young People Read Old SFF has circled back to a modern work for the final time in the phase of the project. This time the modern author is Ursula Vernon, who also publishes as T. Kingfisher. To quote her Wikipedia entry,

Digger won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story in 2012 and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 2013. She won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the WSFA Small Press Award for Jackalope Wives in 2015. Her story “The Tomato Thief” won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

I’ve read a number of Vernon’s works but not, as it happens, any of those. I have read “Toad Words”, however, and it seemed an apt choice for a modern work given what the Young People have liked in the past. But I’ve been wrong before…

(2) DEADPOOL CHOW. Adweek describes how “Deadpool’s Newest Product Pitch Takes Us Inside His Dreams, Which Center on … Frozen Food?”

Brand partnerships with superhero movies are inevitable—let’s face it, most movies are superhero movies these days—but so many of them seem like an unnatural fit. Or a lazy one, at best. There’s a car chase in the movie? Let’s use that in a car commercial! Genius!

That might initially seem like the case with Deadpool’s Devour partnership. Why would Deadpool care about frozen food? Well, he doesn’t—and that’s what makes the new 30-second spot work.

 

(3) POTTER RECAP. Martin Morse Wooster watched “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” last night on the CW:

This was a BBC documentary tied to an exhibit that is currently at the British Library and will be coming to the New-York Historical Society this fall, although what I gather from the Pottermore website is that there will be two exhibits with some overlap between the British and American versions.

The special, narrated by Imelda Staunton, had several parts.  One was when actors from the movies (including Warwick Davis, Miriam Margoyles, and David Thewlis) read excerpts from the novels.  A second thread consisted of curators from the British Library showing off their magical treasures of books and stuff from their collections.  In addition, we saw some witches and eccentrics who had things to donate to the exhibit, including two gentlemen named Dusty Miller XIII and Dusty Miller XIV who said they had created 7,500 magic-filled wands from sticks they collected in the woods.  Finally, J.K. Rowling was extensively interviewed and got to look at a lot of the stuff the curators had unearhed.

Oh, and there was a lot of Harry Potter cosplay.

Rowling had done a lot of research in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, such as a seventeenth-century herbal written by the great botanist Nicholas Culpeper.  She said that she invented everything to do with wands.  She also named two sources that inspired her.  One was C.S. Lewis’s THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, and if there are references to portals and libraries in that book those are the parts she found inspiring.  A second source came from an illustration Rowling made in1990 of Professor Sprout.  Rowling said that that night she was watching The Man Who Would Be King, a film with many Masonic symbols.  A simplified version of one masonic symbol was the source for the three-part symbol that denotes the Deathly Hallows in the novels.

Finally Rowling said, “I tied to steer clear of hallucinogenic drugs in Hogwarts.”  So if you’re writing fan fiction where Harry and the gang settle in for good times with some mushrooms, you should know that such scenes are NOT canonical.

(4) AUSTRALIAN CON SURVEY. Twelfth Planet Press publisher/editor and Galactic Suburbia cohost Alisa Krasnostein tweeted

If you’ve attended an SF con or event in Australia in the last 5 years, please consider taking this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TCGQB82

…The purpose of this survey is to investigate the degree of harassment being experienced at our SF conventions and events.

(5) WOTF. Vajra Chandrasekera discourages participation in the Writers of the Future Contest. His thread starts here —

(6) NEW PERSPECTIVES. Bogi Takacs has started writing a column for Tor.com about “QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics”.

…In this series of columns, I will review classics of QUILTBAG+ speculative fiction—often out of print, little-known and seldom discussed. Even novels which were acclaimed in their day are frequently ignored now, creating the false impression that all QUILTBAG+ SFF is very recent.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, QUILTBAG+ is a handy acronym of Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual / Aromantic / Agender, Gay and a plus sign indicating further expansion.

…On the other hand, I also don’t want to pigeonhole QUILTBAG+ writers and only show interest in their work if it is about their specific marginalization. I want to see minority writers write whatever they want. If they (we) want to write about cephalopods in space, I am all for that! Therefore I opted to include work either by QUILTBAG+ authors (where this is known) or with QUILTBAG+ themes. Often these two coincide, but not necessarily so.

A specific difficulty is whether to include people with non-Western, culturally specific gender, sex or sexuality IDs. Often these people also use at least some Western terms to self-identify, but sometimes they don’t—especially Indigenous people. If someone has expressed a desire not to be included in Western terms, both umbrella or specific terms, I will of course respect that. But in the absence of explicitly opting out, and also if the authors use Western terms, I decided on the side of inclusion. One of my motivations in this is somewhat self-serving: I also have a culturally specific gender / sex (though I am not Indigenous, specifically) and I am interested in other people who do too!

I aim to discuss a new book every two weeks. I will begin next week with The Gilda Stories, the queer Black / Indigenous vampire classic by Jewelle Gomez, and then follow with The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter, possibly the first SFF novel by an intersex author—which also draws a parallel between being intersex and sharing a mind with a giant whale.

(7) TRUTHINESS. Hear about “’That High Truth’: Lewis, Williams, Chesterton, and Ray Bradbury,” in this video of a lecture given at the Wade Center by Jonathan R. Eller of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies on April 9, 2018.

(8) PROGRAM IDEA. Amal El-Mohtar has a fresh angle for a panel discussion. Start the thread here:

(9) BECKETT OBIT. Alex Beckett (1982-2018): Welsh actor, death announced April 12, aged 35. His genre appearances include Spark Ark (2014), and The Aliens (two episodes, 2016).

(10) HEAR STAN LEE’S DENIAL. Io9 reports “In a New Video, Stan Lee Threatens to Sue Anyone Reporting on Claims of Alleged Elder Abuse”.

The Marvel mainstay came down with pneumonia in February and so his frequent convention appearances were understandably cut back. During this time, multiple reports emerged detailing how hundreds of thousands of dollars, and literal blood, were allegedly stolen from him. In a video sent to TMZ this week that’s copyrighted to Keya Morgan (Lee’s handler, who is currently in control of all of his communications), Lee says he’s prepared to take legal action against any and all media outlets that have reported on the claims that he’s being taken advantage of:

“Hi this is Stan Lee and I’m calling on behalf of myself and my friend Keya Morgan. Now, you people have been publishing the most hateful, harmful material about me and about my friend Keya and some others. Material which is totally incorrect, totally based on slander, totally the type of thing that I’m going to sue your ass off when I get a chance.

You have been accusing me and my friends of doing things that are so unrealistic and unbelievable that I don’t know what to say. It’s as though you suddenly have a personal vendetta against me and against the people I work with. Well I want you to know I’m going to spend every penny I have to put a stop to this and to make you sorry that you’ve suddenly gone on a one man campaign against somebody with no proof, no evidence, no anything but you’ve decided that people were mistreating me and therefore you are going to publish those articles.

I’m going to get the best and most expensive lawyers I can and I want you to know if you don’t stop these articles and publish retractions, I am going to sue your ass off.”

The subject video was reportedly sent to TMZ and is marked on their website as being copyrighted by Keya Morgan. The linked TMZ article is headlined: “STAN LEE DENIES ELDER ABUSE … Leave Me and My Friends Alone!!!” This copy is on YouTube, though who knows for how long?

(11) HUGOS AT ECBATAN. Rich Horton check off another nominated book in “Hugo Ballot Review: Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee”.

The novel is interesting reading throughout, with plenty of action (and some pretty cool battle scenes), some rather ghastly (in a good sense) comic bits, and lots of pain and angst. There is a continuing revelation of just how awful the Hexarchate is, with the only defense offered even by its supporters being “anything else would be worse”. There is genocide, lots of murders, lots of collateral damage. The resolution is well-planned and integral to the nature of this universe, with a good twist or two to boot. It’s a good strong novel that I enjoyed a lot.

(12) SERVICE TO SFF. Congratulations to 2018 Chandler Award winner Edwina Harvey! The award recognizes members of the Australian speculative fiction community, both professionals and fans.

Edwina Harvey is a worthy recipient of this year’s A. Bertram Chandler Award.  She has been an active member of Australian science-fiction fandom: writing, publishing and with her amazing artwork for 40 years.

She was one of the founding members of Astrex, the Star Trek fan club of NSW, and regularly contributed fiction to the associated fanzine Beyond Antares as well as other SF fanzines from the mid 1970s onwards. She was also an active member of The Hitchers Club of Australia (Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy Fanclub) from approximately 1984 onwards contributing to the newsletter Australian Playbeing through articles and comments and assisting with the copying and distribution of some issues of the newsletter.  Known locally as the Fund Raising Queens, Edwina has worked with Karen Auhl on organising fundraiser events for Medtrek 4, Huttcon 90 and two Sydney Worldcon bids. (Late 1980s – mid 1990s)  Edwina has been a contributing member of FOLCC (the Friends of Linda Cox Chan) which was an informal group donating monies raised to Diabetes Charities in Australia.  Linda Cox Chan was a Sydney-based SF fan artist and writer who passed away in 1991. From 2012 to the present time, Edwina has also run a lucky-dip at Australian SF conventions to raise money for FFANZ.

(13) EUROVISION IN SPACE. Learn about the author’s new novel Space Opera at Whatever: “The Big Idea: Catherynne M. Valente”.

My agent refers to it as the fastest deal in publishing. It was done and I was committed before I could catch a breath. As I was signing the contract, my fiance asked: “Does it really just say ‘Eurovision in space’? Do you actually have any idea how you’re gonna pull that off?”

“Yes, it does,” I said. “And no, I don’t.”

And I didn’t. Part of me was terrified. How the hell do you even begin to write that? I mean, you can’t play it straight. It’s too absurd. It’s obviously a comedy. Ah, but if you try to write science fiction comedy, the ghost of Douglas Adams appears and asks you with a stern expression if that’s really necessary. And even if it was a comedy, the core of Eurovision is that political darkness and artistic light. You can’t play it totally camp, either. And given the politics all around me, I wasn’t sure I was actually up to singing it out just this minute. What had I agreed to?

But the deadline approached. And I sat down at a blank screen. I laughed nervously.

And then I stopped trying to worry about whether I could do this thing at all and wrote some shit about Enrico Fermi and I was off, and off at breakneck speed.

(14) I’M HOME! Glen Weldon creates a mythic dialogue. Jump on the thread here:

(15) DIRECT FROM INTERNATIONAL FALLS. Here is Amazon Prime’s trailer advertising new episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle. [Via io9.]

The world-famous talking moose and flying squirrel are back in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, a comedy about two goofball friends who end up in harrowing situations but end up saving the day time and again. As their silly ambitions dovetail with Fearless Leader’s sinister plans to take over the world, they are set on a collision course with his notorious super spies Boris and Natasha.

 

[Thanks to Standback, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Errolwi, James Davis Nicoll, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWwombat.]

A Bradbury Link Omnibus

(1) IN LETTERS OF FIRE. Book Riot’s Nikki Vanry presents “19 of My Favorite Fahrenheit 451 Quotes”.

“‘Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.’”

(2) INCREASED SPACE. The Indianapolis Monthly records “A New Chapter for IUPUI’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies”.

Following Bradbury’s 2012 death, the collection grew to include his personal library, writing desk, and 40 years of correspondence with presidents, filmmakers, and other writers. Much of the archive temporarily languished in storage: 20,000 pounds of boxes and furniture stacked floor to ceiling.

This month, the Center celebrates its move to a space three times larger in Cavanaugh Hall with a show at IUPUI’s Cultural Arts Gallery, Ray Bradbury’s Magical Mansions, which draws from the Center’s extensive collection. It’s an unusual repository for this or any university campus. Aside from smaller science fiction collections at a few college libraries, and occasional class offerings, academic acceptance of Bradbury’s genre has been scarce. Archives like the one at IUPUI could change that. Bradbury’s chance meeting with Eller all those years ago gave the professor his life’s work. In return, Eller is giving Bradbury what science fiction writers never had: a place of honor in academia.

…[Jonathan] Eller, with now-retired IUPUI Professor William Touponce, co-wrote the first university press book on Bradbury. Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction (Kent State University Press, 2004) laid the groundwork for founding the Center and archive in 2007. Though the 510-square-foot basement location wasn’t set up for tours, Eller would often drop what he was doing to show curious visitors around. This summer, Eller began the laborious task of moving the archive to an impressive new 1,460-square-foot location in Cavanaugh Hall. It includes a room for Bradbury’s recreated office: a blue metal desk and work table, a globe of Mars given to him by NASA, and a Viking 76 paperweight made with material from the lander. Bookshelves and file cabinets line every wall. Eller and his wife, Debi, spent months readying the space: hanging pictures, cleaning shelves, and cataloging the large book collection. “At this point in most academics’ lives, they’re getting ready to retire,” Debi says. “But Jon is trying to preserve the effects of a man he respected so much.”

The Center’s new outpost offers room to shelve the 20,000 pounds of materials previously stacked floor to ceiling, and perhaps more importantly, a much more public face. Eller sees the Center as a resource for teachers, librarians, and scholars who want to pass on Bradbury’s importance to future generations, and it gives Bradbury and science fiction academic credibility. And it might be just be the beginning: In addition to finishing the third volume of his biography, the professor eventually hopes to acquire even more space and funding to expand the Center into a full-fledged museum.

(3) BRADBURY BIO REVIEWED. “Bradbury: between dystopia and hope”, at Spiked.

Ray Bradbury, by David Seed, is published by the University of Illinois Press.

As David Seed observes in this meticulously researched and affection tribute to the author, ‘Bradbury conceived his early science fiction as a cumulative early warning system against unforeseen consequences’. As the author himself said: ‘technological science fiction, as put in motion by human beings, can either shackle us with the greatest totalitarian dictatorship of all time, or free us to the greatest freedom in history. I mean to work for the latter in my science-fiction stories.’

Like the best writers who imagine the worlds of tomorrow, Ray Bradbury talks to contemporary society. The Martian Chronicles features a tale of America’s ‘niggers’ parting en mass by rocket to the Red Planet to escape racism and servitude in the United States, in their own kind of ironic Mayflower. This story speaks to readers now as much as it would have 70 years ago. While the recurrent themes in The Martian Chronicles of environmental catastrophe and the perils of colonisation will resonate with concerned minds today, they spoke foremost to 1950s readers for whom the Dust Bowl was in living memory. It’s no coincidence that Bradbury gives his colonies on Mars mid-Western names such as Ohio or Illinois.

(4) RAY ANTICIPATED LIFE ONLINE. You may have thought that Ray Bradbury had nothing to say about the rise of social media and the way the virtual world often obliterates the real one. Financial Times columnist Nilanjana Roy, in “Back To Virtual Reality”, would disagree:

Perhaps an internet historian could better pinpoint when the digital world became the real world, but the truth is that our “real”, physical-world selves are so intimately, inescapably layered with virtual experiences that it may no longer be possible to split the two. The price you pay for digitally detoxing is to step outside the mainstream, and that has profound consequences. An obvious example might be that I feel less connected to old friends who are not on Facebook, for example, because I don’t see them, or see pictures of their kids. More subtly, if you unplug from the running streams of news, you also disconnect yourself from dinner-party, workplace, or even friendly conversation.

In Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Pedestrian” (1951), a man arouses police suspicion because he is the only person to take walks while his neighbours stay at home, the flickering blue light of televisions playing on their walls. If he’d been writing today, Bradbury might have made more of the disconnect between the walker and his neighbours, the widening gap between the few who turn away from news-streams and social media immersion, and the many who are shaped by these.

(5) A SPIRITUAL MAP OF BRADBURY. J. W. Ocker just completed a week of superb blog posts inspired by and about Ray Bradbury.

1) Ray Bradbury’s Ravine

September 26, 2016 — It was night, and the thunderstorm that followed me from the hotel had calmed into light rain and thunderous sky flashes. My hair was sodden, my shirt and jeans were sticking uncomfortably to me, and I was at the slippery edge of a black ravine, ready to disappear into its depths. All for Ray Bradbury.

2) Ray Bradbury’s Waukegan

September 27, 2016 — This was a big one for me: Waukegan, Illinois—the hometown of Ray Bradbury. But it was more than just his hometown, more than the mere place where he was born. It was the very geography of his imagination. The place where so many of his stories were set. So many of his characters lived. On his pages, he rechristened the city Green Town. And I was going to see it all, both the real Waukegan and the fictional Green Town. We’ve got a lot to pack into this one, so let’s get going.

3) Thoughts on Ray Bradbury’s Statue

…But the one thing I didn’t find was a statue of him. I mean, there was one of comedian Jack Benny, another Waukeganite, but not one of Ray Bradbury. And that’s because I was in town too early. The city’s been working on a statue project for him for about a year and half and, by the time of my visit, had narrowed the 40-odd submissions it had received to three. In fact, mere days after I returned from my trip to Waukegan and other points along the shores of the Great Lakes, the city announced the winning design.

4) Ray, Halloween, the Witch and Salem

September 29, 2016 — I don’t know if Ray Bradbury ever visited Salem, Massachusetts. But I can tell you that a piece of his life did. Because I took one there myself. I brought it with me during my Salem October last year. And good thing too, as that piece, of its own power almost, provided an anecdote that allowed me to write the name “Ray Bradbury” a few times in my account of that Salem October, A Season with the Witch. Below is the relevant excerpt from the book:

5) Strange Stuff fromo my Study: The Halloween Tree Sketch

September 30, 2016 — In this episode of Strange Stuff from My Study, I dig into my Ray Bradbury collection to show you an original 50-year-old sketch by an artist named Joseph Mugnaini, a sketch that he did as a test layout for one of the fantastic interior illustrations for Bradbury’s 1972 book, The Halloween Tree.

(6) MARTIAN PENSEES. Tyler Miller undertakes to prove “How Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Martian Chronicles’ Changed Science Fiction (And Literature)”.

Unlike his peers, Bradbury didn’t care much for the future either. Though The Martian Chronicles deals ostensibly with a future inhabitation of Mars, Bradbury’s tales are clearly a lens through which to study the past. He is not interested in the mechanics of space flight or the geographic terrain of the Red Planet. Technology is laced through the book, but it is the technology of a Flash Gordon comic strip, not based in actual mathematics and engineering. These stories are not realistic in the least. They are metaphors.

“Do you know why teachers use me?” Bradbury once said, in an interview for the Paris Review. “Because I speak in tongues. I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember.”

However, I have to say Miller is thoroughly wrong when he says, “Sherwood Anderson, Shakespeare, St. John Parse, Ernest Hemingway. These were hardly the writers inspiring usual 1950s science-fiction.” Plenty of them tried to tap into Shakespeare and Hemingway — Papa’s economical prose was regarded by many as the ideal 50 years ago.

(7) TRUFFAUT. Released this month: The New Ray Bradbury Review, No. 5, edited by Phil Nichols and Jonathan Eller.

Fahrenheit 451—American science fiction meets French New Wave cinema

As a highly visual writer, Ray Bradbury’s works have frequently been adapted for film and television. One of the most stylized and haunting dramatizations is François Truffaut’s 1966 film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. For this fifth volume of The New Ray Bradbury Review, guest editor Phil Nichols brings together essays and articles that reflect upon Bradbury’s classic novel and Truffaut’s enduring low-tech science fiction film, fifty years after its release.

French film director and writer François Truffaut was a major force in world cinema. Beginning with his first days as a firebrand film critic and early years as a highly original director, Truffaut sustained a career that brought him numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. Yet Fahrenheit 451—his only film in English and his only foray into science fiction—is often overshadowed by the considerable triumphs of his other works, like The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, and Day for Night. Similarly, while science fiction scholars often present the film as a significant work, they sometimes see it as a flawed adaptation, somehow less than its source, Ray Bradbury’s classic 1953 novel of book-burning firemen.

The articles in this volume represent the first scholarly investigation of Truffaut’s film and Bradbury’s novel together. They lay out the key critical issues in comparing book and film and novelist and filmmaker, discuss various aspects of Bradbury’s and Truffaut’s nar­rative strategies in creating a world where books are systematically burned, consider the film’s screenplay and Bradbury’s own creative reactions to Truffaut, and examine the reception of the film among various audiences and critics.

(7) CARTOON TIME. Melville House recommends two cartoons a Soviet director made based on Bradbury’s short stories “There Will Come Soft Rains” and “The Veldt.”

Ray Bradbury: science fiction author, namesake of a patch of Mars, and Last Interview series participant. In 1950, a twenty-nine-year-old Bradbury published There Will Come Soft Rains, which would become one of his signature short stories. It depicts a California morning in the year 2026, as a robotic house wakes itself up and begins preparing its residents for a busy day: making them breakfast, laying their clothes out, and so forth.

There is, naturally, a twist, and one fun way of learning what it is (besides reading the story), is to watch this Soviet cartoon adaptation, Budet Laskovyj Dozhd’, made by the Uzbekfilm studio in 1984, and directed by Nazim Tulyakhodzhayev. It’s a beaut — austere, creepy, and oddly warm. Do yourself a favor:

At the post are links to both videos on YouTube.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, J. W. Ocker, and Martin Morse Wooster for these stories.]