Pixel Scroll 1/16/21 I Was Deleted You Won The War, Pixel Scroll, Promise To Read You Forevermore

(1) LE GUIN IN PERSPECTIVE. “It’s not Jung’s, it’s mine: Language-Magic” at the London Review of Books, Colin Burrow offers an overview of Ursula Le Guin’s career.

…But in the hands of an author like Ursula Le Guin, science fiction ‘isn’t really about the future’, as she put it in The Last Interview. ‘It’s about the present.’ It changes one or two structuring facts about the world as it is and asks: ‘What would humans do if this and this were true?’ The questions Le Guin asked were big, and her answers to them were subtle. Half a century ago she wondered: ‘What if people were gender-neutral most of the time, but changed between male and female at random when they came on heat, so that you could write sentences like “The King was pregnant”?’ (as in her Left Hand of Darkness). Or, ‘what if a capitalist planet had a moon on which there was a society with no laws and no private ownership?’ (as in her Dispossessed). Alongside these large questions her fiction also poses less visible challenges to its readers. Are you so unconsciously racist that you didn’t notice this woman or this wizard was brown-skinned? Didn’t you realise that the person you thought was an alien is actually from Earth?

For Le Guin these questions almost always led back to one core idea about people. They get stuff wrong even when they want to get it right, and the more they think they’re in control the worse the mistakes they’re likely to make. In The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (first published in 1988 and now reissued with a thoughtful introduction by Donna Haraway), she described her writing as a ‘great heavy sack of stuff, my carrier bag full of wimps and klutzes … full of beginnings without ends … full of space ships that get stuck, missions that fail and people who don’t understand’. Her modesty downplays how deeply her fiction gets inside the darker parts of the human mind….

(2) CLASS ACTION. “Amazon.com and ‘Big Five’ publishers accused of ebook price-fixing” in a recently-filed class action lawsuit reports The Guardian.

Amazon.com and the “Big Five” publishers – Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – have been accused of colluding to fix ebook prices, in a class action filed by the law firm that successfully sued Apple and the Big Five on the same charge 10 years ago.

The lawsuit, filed in district court in New York on Thursday by Seattle firm Hagens Berman, on behalf of consumers in several US states, names the retail giant as the sole defendant but labels the publishers “co-conspirators”. It alleges Amazon and the publishers use a clause known as “Most Favored Nations” (MFN) to keep ebook prices artificially high, by agreeing to price restraints that force consumers to pay more for ebooks purchased on retail platforms that are not Amazon.com.

The lawsuit claims that almost 90% of all ebooks sold in the US are sold on Amazon, in addition to over 50% of all print books. The suit alleges that ebook prices dropped in 2013 and 2014 after Apple and major publishers were successfully sued for conspiring to set ebook prices, but rose again after Amazon renegotiated their contracts in 2015….

(3) URSA MAJOR AWARDS. [Item by N.] The furries are at it again. No virus can hold them down. I mean this as a positive. Nominations for the 2020 Ursa Major Awards have opened and will continue until February 13. Click here to participate.

What’s eligible? Consult the Recommended Anthropomorphics List.

(4) A DISH NAMED WANDA. Camestros Felapton screens the latest Disney+ offering: “Review: WandaVision Ep 1 & 2”

…We are primed for an genre mash-up of superheroes, sit-com pastiche and surreal horror. On the one hand, that is a bold move and on the other hand what we have is essentially a kind of “holodeck episode” in which familiar characters are placed in a contrasting genre for sci-fi or fantasy reasons. Your tolerance for holodeck episodes may vary but they can be fun — the bold choice here is making it the premise of the series and centring two characters who have limited time to develop their characters in the movie…

(5) ROLE YOUR OWN. StryderHD presents Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown as Princess Leia in this #Deepfake video.

At some point in time we are going to either recast or totally CGI parts of actors if you ever want to see them younger or a prequel of a movie they were in or unfortunately great actors we have lost, maybe to ever see them again. In this specific video everyone voted to see who would play a good Princess Leia Organa in a possibly TV series/prequel in the Star Wars universe and you all picked Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things” fame as well as being in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and other things. What do you all think of her as playing the part?

(6) DIE BY THE DICE. SYFY Wire says to expect a “Dungeons & Dragons live-action TV series by John Wick creator Derek Kolstad”.

Tread carefully with torch in hand, because there’s a new Dungeons & Dragons TV series reportedly around the corner — and it’s coming from a creative mind with a whiplash action pedigree.

John Wick creator and screenwriter Derek Kolstad is reportedly rolling the 20-sided dice as the newly-recruited writer for a live-action D&D series from Hasbro & eOne, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Kolstad, who helped propel Keanu Reeves to new levels of action stardom as the mind behind John Wick’s fast-paced brand of slick secret-society infighting, will reportedly write and develop a pitch for the as-yet unnamed D&D series.

(7) MISSING INGREDIENT. Don’t hold your breath expecting it to happen, but Tim Allen would still like to do the film. “Tim Allen Offers Update on Galaxy Quest 2” at ComicBook.com.

…”It’s a fabulous script,” Allen said in an interview with EW, “but it had a hiccup because the wonderful Alan Rickman passed. So it all got very sad and dark because [the script] was all about [Lazrus] and Taggart. It was all about their story. It doesn’t mean they can’t reboot the idea, and the underlying story was hysterical and fun….I haven’t reached out to anybody in the last week, but we talk about it all the time. There is constantly a little flicker of a butane torch that we could reboot it with. Without giving too much away, a member of Alan’s Galaxy Quest family could step in and the idea would still work.”

Allen also maintained that the years between the film and now, or five years from now, wouldn’t have any huge effect on their ability to make the sequel either, adding: “[The sequel] could happen now or in five years and it doesn’t matter at all because when you travel at light speed, when you come back it can be like only 20 minutes, but 20 years have passed, right? That part is wonderful for the sci-fi freak in me. But right now it’s in a holding pattern.”

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2001 — Twenty years ago, Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio wins the Nebula Award and would also win the Endeavour Award. It was nominated for the Locus and Campbell Awards as well the same year. It was followed by a sequel, Darwin’s Children which would receive nominations for the Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • January 16, 1895 – Nat Schachner.  Chemist, lawyer, author.  President of American Rocket Society.  Director of public relations, Nat’l Council of Jewish Women.  History and historical fiction e.g. The Mediaeval Universities, biographies of Burr, Hamilton, Jefferson, The Wanderer about Dante and Beatrice.  For us two novels, a hundred shorter stories.  (Died 1955) [JH]
  • Born January 16, 1905 Festus Pragnell. Ok, he’s here not because he had all that a distinguished a career as a writer or illustrator, but because of the charming story one fan left us of his encounter with him which you can read here. Festus himself wrote but three novels (The Green Man of KilsonaThe Green Man of Graypec, and The Terror from Timorkal), plus he wrote a series of stories about Don Hargreaves’ adventures on Mars. Be prepared to pay dearly if you want to read him as he’s not made it into the digital age and exists mostly in the original Amazing Stories only. (Died 1977.) (CE) 
  • Born January 16, 1943 Michael Atwell. He appeared in Doctor Who twice, first in a Second Doctor story, “The Ice Warriors”, and later in the in the Sixth Doctor story, “Attack of the Cybermen.” He also voiced Goblin in the Labyrinth film, and had a recurring role in Dinotopia. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born January 16, 1945 – Russell Letson, age 76.  Journalist and technical writer.  Plays acoustic guitar, wrote about Hawaiian slack-key (Aloha Guitar, 2014).  Taught English awhile.  Book reviewer for Locus since 1990.  Introduced the Gregg Press edition of Leiber’s Wanderer.  Filer.  [JH]
  • Born January 16, 1948 John Carpenter, 73.  My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York.  His gems include the Halloween franchise, The ThingStarman (simply wonderful), The Philadelphia ExperimentGhosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to done that you like, or don’t like for that matter? I’m not fond of Escape from L.A. as I keep comparing to the stellar popcorn film that the previous Escape film is. (CE)
  • Born January 16, 1952 – Cy Chauvin, age 69.  Fan Guest of Honor at Fan Fair III, at Lunacon 27, see here.  Edited the Wayne Third Foundation’s clubzine.  Co-founded MISHAP.  Stippler.  Reviewed for Amazing.  Anthologies A Multitude of Visions (criticism), The Tale That Wags the God (Blish’s only).  Letters, essays, fanart, in AlgolJanusMatrixNY Rev SFRiverside QuarterlySF CommentaryVector.  [JH]
  • Born January 16, 1958 – Marla Frazee, age 63.  Illustrated It Takes a Village, three dozen more including eight Borrowers, wrote some of them.  Two Caldecott Honors, Boston Globe – Horn Book Award.  “Study the genre and the best books of the time.  Read all the time.  Read everything you can.  Be passionate and honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it.”  Has a little Free Library in her front yard.  Here is The Planetoid of Amazement.  Here is Bed-Knob and Broomstick.  Here is The Farmer and the Monkey.  [JH]
  • Born January 16, 1961 – Karen McQuestion, age 60.  Eight novels for us, a dozen others, sold a million copies.  “I believe in almost everything, which makes the world seem both miraculous & terrifying.”  Her home-office has a mahogany desk, a recliner, bookcases, framed prints from one of her illustrators, and an electric fireplace “which some of my family think is tacky, but I don’t care.”  [JH]
  • Born January 16, 1968 – Rebecca Stead, age 53.  Lawyer, married another; spent a few years as a public defender.  Vassar woman (as was my grandmother).  Newbery Medal; The Guardian prize (first winner outside the Commonwealth).  For us, four novels including both of those prizewinners, one shorter story.  [JH]
  • Born January 16, 1970 Garth Ennis, 51. Comic writer who’s no doubt best known for  Preacher which he did with illustrator Steve Dillon, and his stellar nine-year run on the Punisher franchise. I’m very fond of his work on Judge Dredd which is extensive, and his time spent scripting Etrigan the Demon For DC back in the mid Nineties. What by him should I be reading?  (CE) 
  • Born January 16, 1974 Kate Moss, 47. Yes, she’s done SF. To be precise Black Adder which we discussed a bit earlier. She played Maid Marian in “Blackadder Back & Forth” in which as IMDB puts it “At a New Millennium Eve party, Blackadder and Baldrick test their new time machine and ping pong through history encountering famous characters and changing events rather alarmingly.” You can watch it here. (CE)
  • Born January 16, 1976 Eva Habermann, 45. She is best known for playing the role of Zev Bellringer on Lexx. She was succeeded in her role by Xenia Seeberg. Ok, I’ll confess that I’ve never seen the series which I know exists in both R and not so R versions. Who here has seen it in either form? She was also Ens. Johanna Pressler in Star Command, a pilot that wasn’t to be a series that was written by Melinda Snodgrass. And she had a role in the Code Name: Eternity series as Dr. Rosalind Steiner. (CE) 

(10) HOT SHOT. “Don’t Miss the Hot Fire Test for NASA’s Artemis Moon Missions” – Well, it already happened this afternoon, but the video will be replayed today at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on NASA Television. Which is probably just minutes away by the time the Scroll will be posted.

Editor’s note: This advisory was updated Jan. 16 to update the window for the hot fire test, as well as start time for NASA TV coverage. Because test preparation is running ahead of schedule, NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:20 p.m. EST for a test start time of 4 p.m.

NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 4 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 16, for the hot fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Live coverage will begin at 3:20 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed by a post-test briefing approximately two hours after the test concludes.

(11) JEOPARDY! John King Tarpinian proudly snapped this while watching Jeopardy! on Friday night.

(12) LOCAL CHOW. BBC Sounds has audio of The Food Chain episode “The arctic eating adventure”.  Andrew Porter urges everyone to listen to the show and watch the linked video.

When the only road into her town was blocked by a landslide, documentary filmmaker Suzanne Crocker was shocked by how quickly supermarket shelves went bare. It set her mind racing; would her remote Canadian town – just 300km from the Arctic circle – be capable of sustaining itself? She decided to undertake a radical experiment: an entire year of eating 100% local. 

Emily Thomas hears how she grew, hunted, foraged and negotiated her way through the seasons with a cupboard bare of salt, sugar and caffeine. How did she persuade three hungry teenagers to come on board, and what did a year of eating local do to family dynamics? 

Suzanne’s film about the experience is available on FirstWeEat.ca until February 1.

(13) THE PROGNOSTICATORS LOOK UP. At Literary Hub, Rob Wolf  interviews the author to find out “Why Kim Stanley Robinson Wrote a New Cli-Fi Novel… in Which Things Actually Get Better”.

Rob Wolf: The book opens with a heat wave in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh. We see it unfold through the eyes of a Western aid worker, Frank May. Could you talk about what happens, what this disaster is and how it sets the story in motion?

Kim Stanley Robinson: I began to read about wet-bulb temperatures, which is a heat index that combines heat and humidity. Everybody who watches weather channels is already familiar with heat indexes, and everybody who lives in humid areas knows about the heat and humidity in combination. There’s been discussion amongst a certain portion of the people trying to think about climate change that maybe we just have to adapt to higher global average temperatures. They aren’t so worried about crossing the 2-degree centigrade Celsius rise in global average temperature and all that. We’ll go to three. We’ll go to four. We’ll just adapt.

But the problem is this wet-bulb 35 is only about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, plus 100 percent humidity, and human bodies can’t deal. They die. You would have to be in air conditioning. And in heat waves like that, power systems and grids often fail, in which case there would be mass deaths. There’s been a wet-bulb 34s all over the tropics and even in the Chicago area, and a few wet-bulb 35s have already been seen for an hour or two across the globe. They’re going to be more and more common.

What it suggested to me was that we can’t actually adapt to a three- or four-degree average rise because we’ll be getting these heat waves that will be deadly and power grids will fail and millions will die. So I thought, well, okay, let’s follow that thought into a novel where one of these happens and everything gets radicalized, everything goes crazy. What would that look like? And can I start from that and actually thirty years later come to a better place?

(14) TROLL BRIDGE ‘CAUSE WE’RE COMIN’ TO A TOWN. Snowgum Films has posted their 2019 Pratchett tribute Troll Bridge: The Moving Picture on YouTube.

Cohen the Barbarian was angry. Angry that he never died in battle, angry that the world had forgotten him, and angry that his knees were starting to play up in the cold. He was also angry that his faithful mount had been gifted the ability of magical speech. The horse was insisting that they had made a wrong turn back at Slice. He was also angry that the horse was probably right. This was not how it was supposed to end for the barbarian. This was not how the Discworld’s greatest hero imagined it at all.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Godzilla–The Soul of Japan” on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian says the original Japanese version of Godzilla was a powerful anti-nuclear allegory (Godzilla’s head is shaped like a mushroom cloud, and he has no scales so his skin looks like radiation burns) but the film was re-shot and censored for its substantially different American release.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, N., Danny Sichel, Nina Shepardson, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

32 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/16/21 I Was Deleted You Won The War, Pixel Scroll, Promise To Read You Forevermore

  1. 9) Not only does John Carpenter direct movies, he also wrote soundtracks for most of his movies. His best known soundtrack was for the original Halloween in 1978.

  2. (9) I learned of Nat Schachner from Asimov’s books – I think Schachner was included in Asimov’s *Before the Golden Age”.

  3. Flattered to have my birthday noted. Full disclosure, though: the slack key book is still, um, in progress. I started writing it 20 years ago, and the publisher, in a fit of optimism, issued an ISBN that now haunts Amazon’s databases, the internet, and my conscience. Another 15,000 words and it’s done. 20,000, tops. Honest. Though another research trip to Hawai`i would help. . . .

  4. 9) Eva Habermann is 45, not 35. Lexx was actually her debut, though she subsequently had a lengthy TV career in Germany. Very little of it is genre, alas.

  5. Russell Letson says Flattered to have my birthday noted. Full disclosure, though: the slack key book is still, um, in progress. I started writing it 20 years ago, and the publisher, in a fit of optimism, issued an ISBN that now haunts Amazon’s databases, the internet, and my conscience. Another 15,000 words and it’s done. 20,000, tops. Honest. Though another research trip to Hawai`i would help. . . .

    I once saw an article that estimated that between forty and sixty percent of all listings on Amazon are ghost listings of books that never got published or have long since gone out of publication. Hence they are ghost publications that cannot be ordered.

    Now watching: the “Buzz Kill” episode of CSI on the other iPad

  6. (5) ROLE YOUR OWN.

    I agree that these deepfake videos are very impressive CGI, but I really don’t get what the point is in doing them.

  7. It is my ambition to finish the book before I become a ghost myself. (Though I wonder whether the publisher thinks I’m already one. I hope to surprise them.)

  8. Russell Letson says It is my ambition to finish the book before I become a ghost myself. (Though I wonder whether the publisher thinks I’m already one. I hope to surprise them.)

    I’ve faith that you will.

    Oddly there was once a ghost novel called The Moon Wife announced from a well known fantasy author by her publisher even though the writer had no idea why as she hadn’t begun to write it. Nor did the novel ever got written.

  9. The Garth Ennis work I’ve most enjoyed (of that portion of his considerable ouvre that I’ve read) was his run on the HITMAN comic. Varying from dark noir to utter slapstick, or a mixture of both.

    One of my favorite bits of HITMAN dialogue was:

    [naked man running down crowded sidewalk] “Get out of my way! They’re trying to kill me!”

    [hired killers Tommy and Natt, chasing after] “Get out of our way! We’re trying to kill him!”

    Also, zombie penguins.

  10. 6) It’s my belief that the best TV series to capture the D&D experience would have three danger budget and polluting stroller as say, Red Dwarf or The Young Ones.

    The only set would just be one long hallway that would represent different rooms through different camera angles, and lighting effects. The cast would be four garbage adventurers, dirty, hungry and more than half crazy. They would split their time between looking for treasure, trying to find a way out, and squabbling with each other. And every episode they would all die.

  11. 9) Add me to the Dark Star fan club roster – “Benson, Arizona” is one of my filksing standards, and the last con in Tucson I went to, I hopped off the highway in Benson just to take a picture of a road sign on Dark Star Road. I’m also fond of They Live, The Fog, and Prince of Darkness.

    9bis) Lexx is what a dick joke would look like if it subscribed to Scientific American, if Sci Am hadn’t turned to shit back in the Nineties or so.

  12. No discussion of John Carpenter is complete without a mention of They Live, his bizarre action/horror/sci-fi/comedy/thriller mess, best known for its skull-headed aliens, its “OBEY!” billboards, and the immortal line (later stolen by the makers of the video game Duke Nukem): “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum!” Honestly, it’s both a brilliant movie and a very flawed one, which makes it very hard to rate, but I definitely like it, for the most part.

  13. (7) I dont think Id want to see a Galaxy Quest without Rickman, but Im pretty sure I dont want to see anything with Tim Allen.

    “This title scroll was used on File 770 on the 19th of january 2021”

  14. @JJ – I guess the creators are just having a bit of fun.

    As for this: “At some point in time we are going to either recast or totally CGI parts of actors if you ever want to see them younger or a prequel of a movie they were in or unfortunately great actors we have lost, maybe to ever see them again.”

    To quote BSG, all of this has happened before. ILM did the de-ageing thing for The Irishman (I think Benjamin Button may be the first example of this), and they re-animated Carrie Fischer and Peter Cushing for Rogue One. MPC recreated a young Sean Young for the recent Blade Runner. Etc etc.

    None of these examples used deep fake tech, however. If you pause the video for 5) and compare left with right, you’ll see the deep fake is an uncanny sharpness whereas Leia always has a softness about her face. The lighting on the face is often not quite there, and the highlights in the eyes are quite wrong. In the shot of Leia on Endor with the blaster in front of her face, the blaster becomes quite garbled. This tech is not art directable as yet, which is essential for movie production, and its not without its glitches.

  15. No love for In the Mouth of Madness? Or Big Trouble in Little China ?

    I remember when Scanners came out and it was sold on the exploding head effects. I think it deserves a bit more consideration than that – it’s not Carpenter’s best but it isn’t just a gore-fest.

  16. I just had a question that I thought folks here might be able to answer.

    What were the last major in-person conventions before the COVID lockdowns?
    And which were the first to go all-virtual?

  17. Going by the US/Canada Convention spreadsheet, the DemiCon held the first weekend of May 2020 looks like it might have been the first virtual convention. (It was a fan-run con the last time I heard about it — when Tadao Tomomatsu was a regular.)

    As for cancellations, I ran two summary posts about those —

    Coronavirus Threat Causes Some Conventions to Cancel or Reschedule

    Convention Cancellations Accelerate as Public Health Restrictions Announced

  18. @Paul King: Big Trouble in Little China was mentioned in the birthday listing. And Scanners (which I agree is not just a gore-fest) is not a Carpenter film – it was written and directed by David Cronenberg.

  19. @Lis Riba, I can’t answer your question categorically, but I can answer it personally. The last in-person convention I went to was CapriCon 40, February 14-16, 2020 in Illinois. The last convention my twin sister went to was the JoCo Cruise, which she joked after returning may have been the last cruise ever held (all cruises subsequent to her sailing were cancelled). That was March 5-12. She came home with “con crud”; probably a norovirus, and self-quarantined for two weeks, and before that period ended, Illinois’ governor issued the first lock-down order on March 21.

  20. @Bruce Arthurs:

    May I share that on my FB page? It’s particularly good because of the casual comment, “Also, zombie penguins.”

    With attribution, of course, but I’d rather leave out the context.

  21. Regarding Festus Pragnell: There are numerous scans of pulp-era AMAZING STORIES available for download on archive.org and while the metadata for the uploads are generally terrible sorting by title will put the magazine issues in more or less chronological order.

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