Pixel Scroll 4/7/18 The Secret Diary Of Pixel Scroll, Aged Four And Five Fifths

(1) HUMANITY. Marko Kloos describes his reaction to “The Münster incident”.

There was a vehicle-based attack in Germany today. It happened in the city of Münster, which is where I spent much of my childhood. I went to kindergarten and elementary school there, and my family still lives in the surrounding area, so they are in the city a lot.

You want to know a Xanax moment? Try texting your siblings after learning of a terror attack in the city where they go to school and do their weekend shopping trips. Today was a sunny day, the first really nice day of spring, and the sidewalk cafes were full. Some asshole with a box truck intentionally crashed it into one of those sidewalk cafes, killed two people, and injured thirty more (six of which are still in critical condition.)

To the dismay of some of the German right-wing party members, the attacker wasn’t a Muslim. He was a 27-year-old German with no police record, but he had a history of mental illness. So nobody gets to make much hay out of this incident–just a brain wired wrong. The perpetrator killed himself with a gun right after he had plowed into the crowd, so this was clearly a suicide that was supposed to make a statement.

…But I keep looking at that picture, taken a minute or so into the incident. The first police car has just arrived on the left edge of the picture, and one of the civilians is hurrying over to them to let them know the situation. But look at the people by the van. They don’t know the background of the attack or the motivation of the driver (other than the fact that it was clearly intentional.) They don’t know if the driver is armed, or if there are explosives in the van. But before the authorities even get there, they are busy helping the injured and each other.

(2) LGBTQ INITIATIVE. Inspired by John Picacio’s success with the Mexicanx Initiative, Chuck Serface has launched the “LGBTQ Initiative for Worldcon 76”.

Recently, John Picacio raised enough money to send 50 deserving Mexicanx professionals and fans to Worldcon 76 happening in San Jose, California from August 16-20, 2018. Let’s replicate that success by opening the door for interested members of the LGBTQ community.  Welcome to the LGBTQ Initiative for Worldcon 76!

You can participate in two ways.

As a Donor

Your donation will fund sponsored memberships for LGBTQ science-fiction and fantasy professionals and fans. We’ve begun accepting gifts already. So far we’ve gathered $1135, enough to fully fund seven memberships.  Help us keep that momentum rolling!  We’d like to help 50 individuals.

Click here to give: http://www.worldcon76.org/donations

As a Sponsored Membership Recipient

To apply for sponsored memberships, send an email to lgbtqworldcon@gmail.com telling me about yourself and why you want to attend Worldcon 76.

You must identify as LGBTQ.

You can be a professional writer, artist, or any kind of performer in the science-fiction and fantasy realm. Why do you want to attend Worldcon 76? Show me your enthusiasm!

You can be a fan. If so, why do you want to attend Worldcon 76? Let’s see that passion!

I, Chuck Serface, will review submissions and select recipients.  Please keep your statements under 500 words. I may ask follow-up questions, however.  If you’re a professional, links to examples of your work would be helpful.

We realize that marginalized groups have felt reticent about joining us, and understandably so. But we need more representation from the LGBTQ community in science fiction fandom! Bring it!

(3) THE TWILIGHT ZONE’S PAST GLEAMING. Galactic Journey’s Natalie Devitt covers “[April 7, 1963] The Twilight Zone, Season 4, Episodes 9-12”.

What is the price you would pay for one last chance at achieving a dream? That is the question that Douglas Winter, played by Robert Sterling, has to wrestle with in Printer’s Devil. Douglas is the editor of a failing newspaper called The Courier. Faced with the possibility of the paper, to which he has dedicated his life, folding, Douglas contemplates suicide. He drives himself out to a local bridge in the middle of the night, hoping to end it all there. At the bridge, he meets a mysterious stranger named Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith is played by Twilight Zone favorite Burgess Meredith. Mr. Smith offers Douglas everything he needs in order to keep The Courier in business. In no time, the paper is beating its competition to the latest scoop. In this surprisingly strong update of Faust, Douglas begins to question if his paper’s success is worth the price he will have to pay Mr. Smith, who is really the devil in disguise.

(4) RULES TO LIVE BY. Stephen L. Carter shares “My own 12 rules of life: Drawn from science fiction but a good fit for reality”.

Like so many other scribes, I have been inspired by psychologist Jordan Peterson’s fascinating book to sketch my 12 rules of life. But mine are different, because each is drawn from canonical science fiction. Why? Maybe because this is the literature on which I grew up, or maybe because I have never lost the taste for it. Or maybe because the sci-fi canon really does have a lot to teach about the well-lived life.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • “Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of ‘wrong’ ideas.” (Octavia Butler, “Kindred.”)

Butler, of course, means this the other way around: that a society’s taste for getting rid of “wrong” ideas is a mark of its repressive nature. The time-traveling narrator is explaining the need to get rid of an inflammatory book in the antebellum South — inflammatory in this case meaning that it might spark a slave uprising. Whether the “wrong” ideas that must not be expressed are ideas we love or ideas we hate, the same mischief is afoot. Better by far for us to trust each other to draw the right answers from the wrong books….

  • “The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’?” (Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451.”)

As Bradbury notes, a crucial reason to read is that we can be surprised, upset, offended, turned in a different direction. Books at their best make us think. We don’t live in a thoughtful age, and for just that reason, reading books that challenge us has become more important than ever. When we read seriously and thoughtfully, we run the risk that we might change our minds. That’s good. One of the worst things in the world is conformity, which is another word for intellectual cowardice.

(5) EVANGELIZING READERS. Here’s video from this weekend’s Science Fiction Outreach Project at Silicon Valley Comic Con.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 6, 1933 King Kong premiered theatrically. (Trivial Trivia: Upon a re-release of the movie, in 1938, Ray Bradbury & Ray Harryhausen took double dates to see King Kong.)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY TWONKY

  • Born April 7, 1915 – Henry Kuttner

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy says, “I don’t believe Spielberg got his start like this Bloom County might imply.”
  • Mike also admits, “This Non Sequitur isn’t clearly genre, but given how much Cat Fancy has been going on at File 770, I thought you’d want to see it.”

(9) RADCH AND OTHERS. Glyn Morgan, in an essay for LA Review of Books, devotes a great deal of attention to the Imperial Radch trilogy before exploring the questions “Where Have We Come From? Where Are We Going?: Identity and Self in Ann Leckie’s ‘Provenance’”.

…In Provenance, too, Leckie diverts us toward quieter, more introspective fare, expanding the size and complexity of her universe while retaining the character-driven focus that has become her trademark. Indeed, much of the novel’s success or failure rests on how the reader warms to its protagonist, Ingray Aughskold. At the opening of the novel, Ingray hatches a plot to rescue convicted thief Pahlad Budrakin from the prison planet euphemistically known as “Compassionate Removal” in order to identify the location of the priceless Budrakin vestiges, historical artifacts prized by Ingray’s Hwaean people for their connection to the past. Recovering these vestiges, Ingray hopes, will give her the edge on her brother Danach in the siblings’ lifelong competition to succeed their adoptive mother, the aristocratic Netano, as heir.

The Budrakin vestiges are particularly valuable because they date back to the ancient arrival of the Budrakin ancestors on Hwae. Vestiges of lesser value include party invitations, event tickets, and myriad souvenirs and mementos whose values increase with connection to important figures. It quickly becomes apparent that the Hwaean people’s obsession with vestiges goes far beyond a reverence for momentous artifacts like the Magna Carta or The Declaration of Independence: instead, it resembles a mania for collectibles and memorabilia. This mindset knowingly evokes an environment familiar to science fiction fans and attendees at conventions, some of whom pay significant sums for autographs and photographs of even minor actors from their favorite shows….

(10) HE’S ON THE COVER. At Not A Blog, George R.R. Martin shared his latest triumph as a “Cover Boy” on the Chinese edition of Esquire.

(11) FEED YOUR HEADSET. The TechCrunch headline “MIT’s new headset reads the ‘words in your head” dramatizes things to the point of misrepresenting what this headset actually does. See if you can figure it out:

“The motivation for this was to build an IA device — an intelligence-augmentation device,” grad student Arnav Kapur said in a release tied to the news. “Our idea was: Could we have a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?”

The school tested the device on 10 subjects, who essentially trained the product to read their own neurophysiology. Once calibrated, the research team says it was able to get around 92 percent accuracy for commands — which, honestly, doesn’t seem too far off from the accuracy of voice commands for the assistants I’ve used.

The MIT Media Lab says:

AlterEgo is a wearable system that allows a user to silently converse with a computing device without any voice or discernible movements — thereby enabling the user to communicate with devices, AI assistants, applications, or other people in a silent, concealed, and seamless manner. A human user could transmit queries, simply by vocalizing internally (subtle internal movements) and receive aural output through bone conduction without obstructing the user’s physical senses and without invading a user’s privacy. AlterEgo aims to combine humans and computers—such that computing, the internet, and AI would weave into human personality as a “second self” and augment human cognition and abilities.

 

(12) D&D&FUD. C.J. Ciaramella admires “The Radical Freedom of Dungeons & Dragons”, a retrospective on Gary Gygax and D&D at Reason.com.

D&D is a deeply libertarian game—not in a crude political sense or because its currency system is based on precious metals, but in its expansive and generous belief in its players’ creative potential. It’s collaborative, not competitive. It offers a framework of rules, but no victory condition and no end. The world you play in, and how you shape it, are entirely up to you.

In the afterword to the original D&D manuals, Gygax encouraged players to resist contacting him for clarification on rules and lore: “Why have us do any more of your imagining for you?”

(13) BUT WAS IT WEARING A KILT? More on the Skye discovery: “Giant dinosaur tracks found in Scotland reveal the secrets of the Jurassic period”.

The discovery is being lauded for how much it can tell us about the Middle Jurassic Period, in particular, an important time in dinosaur evolution when meat-eating tyrannosaurs and the first birds came exist. The find was made at Brothers’ Point on the north-east coast of the Island of Skye. While it is now a collection of craggy ridges and stunning rocky beaches, the area used to be subtropical in the days of the dinosaurs, with lagoons and rivers.

(14) POKEMON INFILTRATED? The keen-eyed Hampus Eckerman asks –

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

Dublin in 2019 Plans Books Outreach

The Dublin 2019 Worldcon Bid will be supporting a science fiction and fantasy books Outreach program, where they give away free new and secondhand books at various conventions and events in the UK and Ireland, and encourage people to attend conventions such as Worldcon, Octocon and Eastercon. The Bid Team has been gathering donations from publishers as well as secondhand books from fans.

The bid’s first giveaway will be at Dublin Comic Con, August 8-9.

Books Outreach began in 2008 with James Bacon and John Dowd promoting Eastercon LX in 2009, at London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) and then Thought Bubble.

In the US, events have been coordinated as Science Fiction Outreach by Helen Montgomery since 2010. The first event was at Wondercon in April 2011, and the most recent at Emerald City Con.

The Dublin in 2019 press release explains:

Books Outreach is important to us both as a Bid team and as supporters of our local convention scene, since it allows us to talk to fans, especially those who might not initially consider attending a science fiction and fantasy convention. In doing so, we can also encourage everyone to read more science fiction and fantasy – something that is obviously very close to our hearts! For those who prefer a good rummage, the secondhand section provides a huge variety of books, and we love recommending old classics and previously undiscovered authors to new readers.

Dublin 2019 and the Outreach team are indebted to the publishers who have already donated many thousands of books, and we’re really looking forward to giving these away! In alphabetical order, we have already received books from Angry Robot, Gollancz, Hodder, O’Brien Press, Penguin and Tor, with further donations of graphic novels from Forbidden Planet International. Many of our supporters are also helping by recycling books they have read and may not have space for. We give out thousands of books every year, so having these people behind us is not only appreciated, but an essential part of the project.

We look forward to seeing you from behind piles of books at our stands and hope you are as excited about this as we are! We will of course, get a sneaky word in about our fantastic bid to bring Worldcon to Ireland for the first time ever (it’s about time!), and enthuse about the other conventions in the UK and Ireland. And, if anyone is interested in donating (as a publisher or with secondhand books – we love both equally), please get in touch with us at admin@dublin2019.com, and we’ll see if we can arrange collection.

Montgomery: Science Fiction
Outreach Project
Does Dallas

Our improvised Friday setup.

Our improvised Friday setup.

By Helen Montgomery: This year, with Worldcon being in San Antonio, the SFOP decided to head on down to Dallas Comic Con to give away books and tell attendees about LoneStarCon 3.

Our saga begins on Wednesday, May 15.  Three of us were heading down from Chicago – but Mother Nature intervened with a bunch of tornados.  We were all grateful that we weren’t stuck in the storm, but it certainly threw off our stride!  We finally all arrived at the convention center on Thursday, ready to move in our three pallets of books and shelving.

There had apparently been a miscommunication along the line, and instead of having our expected two 8′ x 10′ booths, we had two 8′ x 7′ booths.  Having only 14′ feet of width is a problem when your shelves are 16′ all by themselves!  We scrambled a bit and came up with a layout that involved only half our shelves and two tables with shelves built up on them.

Friday went well, but we were a tad anxious how the smaller space would work on Saturday.   Fortune smiled upon us though, and the people who had the booth across the aisle from us never showed up.  Our friends from Fencon / WhoFest had the booth next to us and they were able to move across the aisle which allowed us to expand to our full set up using their booth space.  They were also delighted with the move, as they now had space to bring in their full-sized Dalek.  All is now well in the universe!

 

Our usual setup -- hooray!

Our usual setup — hooray!

Saturday went fabulously well.  We gave away a lot of books and talked a lot about Worldcon.  As usual, our booth was crowded the whole day  with people coming back over and over, bringing along their friends.  It was great to see strangers chatting and recommending books to each other.  Kids and teenagers had a great time going through their special boxes.

Typical scene for the weekend.

Typical scene for the weekend.

We did it all over again on Sunday.  Towards the end of the day we had more boxes left than we had anticipated (largely due to being able to put out significantly less on Friday that we usually do), and a few people asked if they could take away full boxes – without even knowing what was in them!  Apparently they figured that a box of authors with last names starting with “C” was a good bet!

One of my favorite stories of the weekend involved a boy who was probably around 10 years old.  He came by on Friday, and chose a book called “100 Cupboards”.  I commented to him that I had read the back and thought is sounded really interesting.  I asked if he was coming back the rest of the weekend, and when he said yes, I asked him to go home that night and read the first few chapters, then come back and tell me if it was as good as it sounded.  On Saturday afternoon, a man came up and said that the boy had needed to leave earlier, but insisted that Dad come over and tell me that the book was excellent.  Dad said he didn’t stop reading until they forced him to so he could go to bed!  On Sunday, the boy himself came by and asked if I remembered him.  He then proceeded to say “It was so good!  I couldn’t put it down!”

That, folks, is why we do what we do.  A new fan has been brought into the family!

Thanks, as always, to everyone who donated books over the last year.  We thank the conventions that sponsored book drives, and the publishers who sent us books, and the groups that gave us grant money to pay for our expenses.  We would also like to thank Brad Foster for our new tip jar artwork!

Brad Foster's tip jar art.

Brad Foster’s tip jar art.

We’re planning to head across the pond next year to help our SFOP compatriots in London at one or two comic conventions there, which will help promote Loncon 3.  We are exploring options for an event in the U.S. as well, but have not finalized any plans.

Please feel free to email us at sfoutreachproject@gmail.com if you’d like to donate either books or money, and don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook (Science Fiction Outreach Project – USA).

Ed-u-cate!  Ed-u-cate!  (Dalek courtesy of FenCon / WhoFest)

Ed-u-cate! Ed-u-cate! (Dalek courtesy of FenCon / WhoFest)

Help Wanted as SF Outreach Prepares for Dallas Comic Con

SF Outreach logoBy Helen Montgomery: Some of you are familiar with the Science Fiction Outreach Project (SFOP), which was started a few years ago to help promote science fiction fandom to comic book fans. Headed up by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Spike, and Helen Montgomery, we went to WonderCon in San Francisco in April 2011 to help promote Renovation. Last year, headed up by James and Helen, we went to CE2 in Chicago to help promote Chicon 7.

This year, the SFOP is going to Dallas Comic Con to help promote Texas fandom and LoneStarCon 3.

We give away books. Between 5,000 and 6,000 of them in three days. That’s the hook – find the readers or potential readers of SF, and talk to them about our fandom. It’s a ton of fun, meeting lots of people, seeing how excited people get when they find a good book or see a Hugo Award in person (we’ve been able to borrow one to display in past years, and will this year as well), finding out about Worldcon…

It’s a big endeavor, and we are looking for volunteers who are able to join us in Dallas.

(1) Book Sorting: We need to sort alphabetically all the books that have been donated. We are going to be doing this on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5. We will be at the Animefest “clubhouse,” 675 N Glenville Dr, Suite 165, Richardson, TX (Dallas area). We’ll start at 10 a.m., we will provide lunch for volunteers, and we finish up when we all get hungry and tired and go to dinner.

(2) Dallas Comic Con (DCC): Move in is Thursday, May 16 and the morning of Friday, May 17. The actual convention is the afternoon of Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19. We need folks who are willing to do some manual labor for Move-in on Thursday/Friday, and again for Move-out on Sunday night. We also need folks who will be willing to help fans find books, chat up Texas fandom and LSC 3, and generally be cheerful and welcoming during the convention itself.

If you are interested in helping us out on either weekend, please email Helen at sfoutreachproject@gmail.com to let her know. Once we know who is interested, we’ll send out more details as they fall into place.

Thanks!
The SFOP

P.S. We are still also accepting book donations! If you have gently used SF/F (all age groups), please contact Helen at the email above to make arrangements to get them to us.

James Bacon: C2E2 Outreach Ready

Outreach at C2E2

By James Bacon: With support from Baen, Tor, Penguin as well as fans from as far afield as Arizona, California and Boston, the Science Fiction Outreach Project had a massive boost from Midwest fans and now has over 5,700 books to give away!

Financial support has been amazing from within fandom and so we are all set up here at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), for a busy weekend.

Helen Montgomery and Terrence Miltner led the charge with Sondra, Leane, Dave, Geri and myself helping and we even had time to check out the show (and I held a real Captain America shield.)

All books have a bookmark, listing websites of all the amazing supporters and we are hoping for a busy weekend.

SF Outreach at WonderCon

John O’Halloran, Helen Montgomery Leane Verhulst, and Chris O’Halloran, ready for business on Day One.

By the Science Fiction Outreach Project TeamJames Bacon, Chris Garcia and Helen Montgomery 

It was an incredibly brilliant experience. We benefitted hugely from teamwork and generosity of fans.

Between a variety of book drives, donations and even people turning up at WonderCon (April 1-3) with small bags, we had between 5,500 to 6,000 books.  Borderlands, Berkshire Books, Locus Magazine, and Half Price Books (in both the Bay Area and the Chicagoland Area) also donated books.

We had boxes of Locus and SF and F to give away as well.

We had bookmarks made, and every book had one inserted prior to shelving.

We were able to shelve around 1400 books at a time in the space we had, and had stacks of flyers for other cons on both tables, promoting a wide variety of cons as well as progress reports for Renovation.

We set up on Thursday, after spending Monday through Wednesday sorting books, picking up books, and then loading a truck, etc.

On Wednesday after loading the truck, we popped into the Moscone Convention Center, and this was fortuitous as we got our badges and met our contacts, and they were real nice.

Thursday we built our shelving, the Freeman move-in experience was a good one, as was the whole set up.

Friday — well it was interesting, we were all set up and within minutes of opening our booth area had about 6 people in it, and from then till close we never had less, and frequently had too many.  This was the pattern for the rest of the weekend as well.

A continual information dump from the team (we had 7 on hand at opening and this increased throughout the weekend) to the attendees, and then longer time taken to explain what cons are (I know, but wow – you should have seen their faces when they realized what else is out there!), what Reno is, what Worldcon is and what we were doing meant at all times we were busy.

There was much interest, and people from the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Reno especially interested in the World Science Fiction Con coming to somewhere nearby or Westercon or Loscon, while folks from further afield were pointed at cons in their states and generally anyone who wanted to know about something local to them was satisfied.

The diversity of people calling into the booth was much more varied than our experience at book conventions, and yet all folks wanted to do was talk about books, get recommendations or talk about these “book conventions” that we were promoting. Everyone was super friendly (well, the books were free) but the interest in the overall hobby was noticeable.

Also, the knowledge of people was superb, many of these people were genuine SF readers – who just are not aware of what’s going on in the SF fannish community.

Friday we cleared the bookshelves, and on Saturday and Sunday both days we refilled throughout the day and managed the books well, and so by Sunday night we ended up with only 80 books not taken.

It was real hard work, it was an incredibly fun thing to engage with people about books and our wider hobby and we are pretty sure we can call it a success.

Helping out the core team were: Dave Gallaher, Dave Clark, Mike Ward, John O’Halloran, Chris O’Halloran, Kevin Standlee (who brought a Hugo statue for us to display!), Steve Libbey, Tom Becker, Lynda Wentzelberger, “Hitgirl” (a random attendee who decided what we were doing was cool and started to help), Jo Mead, and Leane Verhulst. 

We would also like to thank Kimm Antell and Meredith Branstad for helping to design bookmarks and postcards and banners for us.

We really, really, really want to thank Colin Harris for updating our Facebook page throughout the weekend (despite us being on the Pacific coast, and him being in London, England!), which got us some great comments from folks who were there, found us, and went to find us on FB later!  (Have you “liked” us on FB yet?  We are “Science Fiction Outreach Project – USA”)

Highlights for us included:

  • Seeing the looks on people’s faces when they realized the books really were free
  • Watching people light up when they heard about SF conventions
  • Watching people get so excited when they realized they could be part of the Hugo Awards process
  • Watching people recommend books to each other
  • One of us recommended a book that was already taken, and another person overheard and said “Yup, it’s great. I was going to take it but you have it.” (This happened more than once, including adults giving some stuff over to teenagers just getting into the genre.)
  • People being happy to hear that Worldcon is coming to a town near them
  • Young adults getting even more excited when they learned about the YA discount and the options about volunteering to make Worldcon affordable
  • Writers and publishers who had their own booths at the convention coming over and donating books for us to give away (especially Archaia Publishing, who gave us a big box of comic books to give to kids)

It was quite honestly one of the most amazing experiences some of us have ever had in fandom.

WonderCon is only just over – but we’re already gearing up for what comes next!  We have a few ideas of what we would like to do, and will keep the readers of File 770 updated as we go.

We cannot thank you all enough for your support, it was a great weekend.  I truly believe we got our message out and in a good way, and that fandom will benefit from this for sure.

Many thanks,
The Science Fiction Outreach Project Team (James, Chris, and Helen)

Day Two, with Hugo rocket.

Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The final remains on Day Three.