Pixel Scroll 1/21/18 Right Here In File City, Trouble With A Capital T, That Rhymes With P, And Stands For Pixel

(1) COMPOSING SPACE OPERA. In this Twitter thread Cat Rambo captured the highlights of the Ann Leckie Space Opera class.

(2) WORLDCON 76 ACADEMIC TRACK ADDS PRIZE. The Heinlein Society’s Board of Directors has authorized a $250 cash prize to be awarded to the “Best Paper Presented at the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention’s Academic Track.”  President Keith Kato says “The final evaluation process is under discussion, but will likely involve a judging panel.”

The concom has extended the deadline for Academic Track papers to March 1 as a result.  This prize is not the William H. Patterson, Jr., Prize which is evaluated annually by the Society for the best Heinlein-related academic paper in a particular calendar year.

In addition, The Heinlein Society will be teaming with the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation for Academic Track papers, and possibly other con activities.

(3) HOW CAN THEY EVER RESPECT US AGAIN? She blabs a trade secret to The Guardian: “Margaret Atwood: ‘I am not a prophet. Science fiction is really about now’”.

“I’m not a prophet,” she says. “Let’s get rid of that idea right now. Prophecies are really about now. In science fiction it’s always about now. What else could it be about? There is no future. There are many possibilities, but we do not know which one we are going to have.” She is, however, “sorry to have been so right”. But, with her high forehead and electric halo of curls, there is something otherworldly about Atwood. Dressed in one of her trademark jewel-coloured scarfs and a necklace of tiny skulls, she cuts a striking figure outside the cafe in Piccadilly where we are huddled.

(4) OUTSIDE SFWA. Vox Day’s post “SFWA rejects Jon Del Arroz” [at the Internet Archive], in which the expelled member condemns and reviles the organization’s decision to refuse admittance to JDA, publishes what is represented to be the text of SFWA’s notification to JDA.

(5) DILLMAN OBIT. Actor Bradford Dillman died January 16 at the age of 87. Some of his better-known roles included Robert Redford’s best friend in 1973’s The Way We Were, and two appearances in Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies.

His genre work included TV shows like The Wild, Wild West; Mission: Impossible; Thriller; Wonder Woman; The Incredible Hulk; and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In the movie Escape From The Planet Of The Apes he was the kind Dr. Dixon who helps Cornelius and Zira evade capture. He also starred in Bug, and appeared in Swarm, and Pirhana.


  • John King Tarpinian didn’t look to see if this was really in the Old Testament, he just laughed: Bizarro.
  • Chip Hitchcock has his eye on the same cartoon series. He noted that this Bizarro shows new job opportunities, and another Bizarro tells us that even ~gods apprentice:

(7) DREAM HOME. In a hole in the ground there stayed a tourist — “Calling all ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans! You can spend the night in a real-life hobbit hole”.

Wolfe relied on the construction know-how she’d picked up from her parents — her mother remodeled houses when Wolfe was a child — and brought in a backhoe to clear the land. Wolfe needed to ensure the hobbit hole could hold the foot of dirt she planned to place on the roof, so she used marine-grade, pressure-treated wood.

“Any time you put dirt on top of a house, when that dirt gets wet, it’s basically having a swimming pool on top of your house,” she added. “It’s a lot of weight.”

Up next: an entrance fit for a hobbit. Wolfe wanted a signature round entryway, which she created using an industrial-sized cable spool. She enlisted a local designer to craft the hinges and the opening to the 288-square-foot space. He repurposed a trailer hitch to build the door handle.

When guests enter through the circular portal, they immediately stand in the bedroom. To the right is a fireplace, which helps heat the home in the winter, along with a woodworker’s bench. To the left is the bathroom, complete with a large wooden tub…


(8) WHO OWNS WHAT? THIRD BASE! At Plagiarism Today, they take on “The Strange Copyright of Doctor Who”.

Exterminate… Exterminate the copyright!

….It’s a bizarre show, even for science fiction. However, a recent news story highlighted an even stranger part of the series.

Shortly after the airing of the 2017 Christmas Special, which marked the end of Peter Capaldi’s run as The Doctor and introduced Jodie Whittaker, the series first female Doctor, a copyright controversy arose.

According to The Mirror, the estate of Marvyn Haisman, the creator of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, took issue with the episode introducing a new character that turned out to be Lethbridge-Stewart’s grandfather. Lethbridge-Stewart is popular character from the series that they hold the rights to.

Though later reports have downplayed the dispute, the story raised an interesting question: Why was one of the series’ most popular characters not controlled by the BBC, which produces the show?

It turns out though that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is far from alone in his bizarre copyright status. Many of the show’s iconic characters are controlled, at least in part, by outside entities. The list includes both the robotic dog K9 and even The Daleks themselves.

How did this happen? The answer is both complicated and simple at the same time but it all centers around how the series was written during its early years.

(9) WE INTERRUPT THIS MAELSTROM. Here is the kind of thing people discuss on days when the news cycle isn’t spinning like mad. Or if they need a break on a day when it is.

(10) MOONDUST AND SAND. Andy Weir was the subject of a podcast with Tyler Cowen (“Conversations With Tyler.”) Martin Morse Wooster says, “I’m sure it’s good because Cowen is a good interviewer.”

Martin adds: I learned about this by listening to Cowen’s podcast with New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, which has quite a lot of sf content.  Douthat explained that he wanted to be a fantasy novelist, but settled for being an opinion journalist.  He talks about how Watership Down is his favorite fantasy novel, and about ten minutes of the hour and a half podcast is devoted to a discussion of Dune with an emphasis on the Butlerian Jihad.  The interview revealed that, along with Paul Krugman, there are two New York Times columnists who know a great deal about sf.” — Ross Douthat on Narrative and Religion (Ep. 32).

[Thanks to JJ, Keith Kato, Cat Rambo, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

106 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/21/18 Right Here In File City, Trouble With A Capital T, That Rhymes With P, And Stands For Pixel

  1. Actually, I think the title VD has and del Arroz aspires to is “Oh, that asshole.”

    I don’t. At least, not outside of a fairly small pond.

  2. Foz is Timothy! Up is down! Scrolls are pixels! Scalzi is six cormorants in a trenchcoat! Glyer controls the Illuminati! SOYLENT SFWA IS MADE OF PEOPLE

  3. Bunch of whiny doubters. They checked. And you know what they found?
    Camestros has an IP address.
    The other guy also has an IP address.
    Coincidence? I think not.

  4. @3: a fascinating (continued) turnaround from complaints about space squid.

    @6: I’d have thought an accordion would be more effective, but it would probably die in the sand.

    @9: I can’t imagine trying to karaoke with Shatner; the fragments I’m still trying to scrub out of my mind suggest he has no sense of rhythm, which would make a duet hell. Can anybody link to something he’s done plausibly? Stewart, OTOH, was impressive in the video linked here recently; I’d want to do either “Hereupon We’re Both Agreed” (from Yeoman of the Guard) if he was up for something more elaborate, or “Guys and Dolls” (transposed down a bit, but I’d still take the low part on the divisi) just for fun.

    @Ann Leckie: surely that’s “One File makes you…” (keeping up the theme) — but as an ancient Airplane fan I love that and am ticked I never thought of it.

    And best wishes to @OGH and his family. There usually aren’t easy decisions, just ones you can feel you did your best at. (Which isn’t even assured — I have in-laws who didn’t speak for years over such case; here’s hoping everyone keeps working in the same interest.)

  5. @Kip W:

    For the Tin Woodman, Christopher Walken.

    … That is just too perfect. I am never going to be able to unsee that now. Nobody does a half-gainer dive into the Uncanny Valley the way Walken does.

  6. @Chip Hitchcock
    Oh, you’re right. It should totally be “One file makes you pixel and one file makes you scroll”

    Mike, I’m thinking of you and your family, and sending good wishes for your mom.

  7. @Kip W, that’s a cool list, but surely there’s no reason the Lion, Scarecrow, or Tin Man have to be played by male actors? And color seems even less relevant than usual to actor choice.

    I’m not going to suggest names because I am hard of hearing and rarely go to movies, and I also watch a lot less tv than many folks, even though captions have made a huge difference there.

  8. (1) Oh, this is going to make Camestros angry:

    Creating the space opera backdrop: planets are not monocultures. Our own Earth has thousands of cultures. Can't go w/ "planet of the hats" approach, i.e. "On this planet everyone wears big hats." pic.twitter.com/T15A2lgsJ7— ?RainbowRiotRambo? (@Catrambo) January 21, 2018

  9. Lenore Jones, no, no reason, except that the ones I put on the list were in those categories. Perish the thought that it represents any sort of myopia on my part. Heh. (I also thought of Jerry Lewis for the Lion, years ago when I first started thinking about this. Almost as disruptive as Bert Lahr.) I would confess, however, that I don’t know a heck of a lot about people making movies now.

  10. Contrarius, whenever I step into the kitchen in the dark, I fan the wall trying to turn on a light. The wrong wall. Always. And I can’t even figure out what kitchen I think I’m in. It’s a moment (a crucial one) from a Philip K. Dick novel.

  11. Kip W, I’ve been going to a con in the same hotel for over twenty years, and I still reach for the elevator buttons on the wrong side. (New rule: Elevator buttons should be on both sides. Humph.)

  12. New book alert – “I’m Going to Outer Space” https://www.amazon.com/Going-Outer-Space-Timothy-Young/dp/0764353853 – a picture book for your little SF lover (and for the adults who will delight is spotting the Enterprise, a Space1999 Eagle, a preliminary (pre-broadcast) design for the Enterprise, and a Jupiter-Two among the spacecraft in illustrations, and Bender, Robby, “the Robot,” Daleks, Maria, and many other old friends among the robots in the illustrations).

  13. @Kip W.

    Contrarius, whenever I step into the kitchen in the dark, I fan the wall trying to turn on a light. The wrong wall. Always. And I can’t even figure out what kitchen I think I’m in. It’s a moment (a crucial one) from a Philip K. Dick novel.

    No, it’s actually a sign you’re from the mirror universe. Or in the mirror universe.

  14. Point me to sites/articles/books teaching writers how to plot out a mystery story. The Elder Offspring has been kicking around Urban Fantasy ideas, and most of the genre is organized as mysteries (or romance, which is right out).

  15. Ah, my phrasing makes it sound like I should have lefted instead of righted, or some such. In actuality, the switch I want is farther into the room on a wall 90° over.

  16. @Doctor Science: I’m not a writer, but I love Borges’ essay on the rules of detective fiction. It’s almost certainly dated and I can’t remember if it’s “The Detective Story” or “The Labyrinths of the Detective Story and Chesterton” but it’s in Selected Non-Fictions and it’s really good.

    Elmore Leonard also published his 10 Rules of Writing. Again my memory is bad and I can’t remember if I read it or something like it also written by him but it’s probably worth checking out.

  17. @Doctor Science: I like The Puppet Show for crime writing advice. Margot Kinberg’s blog is also a good source of mystery/crime writing advice.

    For classics, there’s always Ronald Knox’s famous Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction. They date from the 1920s and it shows, but still good for a basic overview.

    Finally, the weekly link round-up at one of my sites, the Indie Crime Scene, might be helpful. I have a section for writing advice links, though much of it isn’t specific to crime fiction and mysteries, as well as a research section with links to news about forensics, the criminal justice system, etc… The other sections might be of help as well.

  18. Lenore Jones / jonesnori on January 22, 2018 at 6:46 pm said:
    The medical building I spend a lot of time in has two elevators, and the cars are mirror images. One has buttons on the left and the other on the right, and the doors open in opposite directions. I always get the wrong side for the buttons.

  19. @Doctor Science,
    When I read “The Elder Offspring has been kicking around Urban Fantasy ideas” my mind’s eye immediately pictures Surly Teenage Cthulhu…

  20. (1) Oh, this is going to make Camestros angry:

    Creating the space opera backdrop: planets are not monocultures. Our own Earth has thousands of cultures. Can’t go w/ “planet of the hats” approach, i.e. “On this planet everyone wears big hats.” pic.twitter.com/T15A2lgsJ7— ?RainbowRiotRambo? (@Catrambo) January 21, 2018

    In total agreement. Planets should have at least TWO things. For example the planet of hats AND also the planet of woven placemats.

  21. Supportive wishes for the Glyer family.

    @Soon Lee: Is Surly Teenage Cthulhu more punk or more emo, do you think?

  22. Best wishes to you and your mom, Mike.

    Big thanks to JJ for stepping in.

    Picard in a heartbeat. Any song, really, although I’ve personally and for no good reason been obsessively memorizing the two vocal lines in New Pornographers’ “High Ticket Attractions”. And very little beats “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” for classic karaoke duet cred.

  23. Hipster Cthulhu only accepts organic vegan sacrifices made with artisan daggers (that must be quenched in kale and rhubarb smoothies).



  24. @Doctor Science – One of the things Connie Willis suggested to my Clarion West class for mystery plotting was to go to the used bookstore and buy an armload of Agatha Christie to analyze. A book that I’d recommend to someone working on a mystery is Phyllis Whitney’s Guide to Fiction Writing. (King’s On Writing is going to be handy too, and it’s an interesting read.)

  25. @Kip —

    “Contrarius, whenever I step into the kitchen in the dark, I fan the wall trying to turn on a light. The wrong wall. Always. And I can’t even figure out what kitchen I think I’m in. It’s a moment (a crucial one) from a Philip K. Dick novel.”

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. I always know exactly what I’m doing. At every moment of every day. Without fail.

    /wishful thinking

  26. For all the directionally-challenged: I’m the one in the partnership who always knows which way to go to the car, the store from a random location, … but on a recent trip I was invariably the one who turned the wrong way down the corridor to our room, which my partner always got right. Twelve !@#$%^&*!! days we were there and I was still going wrong at the end!

  27. @Chip —

    “… but on a recent trip I was invariably the one who turned the wrong way down the corridor to our room, which my partner always got right.”

    Especially inside of buildings, I have absolutely NO sense of direction. I constantly get lost in things like doctor’s offices and whatever. I do somewhat better outside, but not all that much.

    I lived in Salt Lake City for five years. One thing I loved about living there was that it was nearly impossible to get lost. There are visible mountains to the east, different visible mountains to the west, and the entire city (a flat bowl amidst the mountains) is laid out on a carefully numbered grid — so you always know where you are. Very handy!

  28. I still miss that about northern Colorado. Mountains = West. Plains = East. And there are major roads at one mile intervals outside the towns that run straight till they end. Amen.

  29. @Doctor Science, I don’t agree that Agatha Christie’s books have held up well. There are a lot of old-fashioned gender roles, cardboard characters, classism up the wazoo, racism, and severe anti-adoption bias, among other things, and some of her books seem to be nothing but dialogue filling pages, with nothing happening for too long. Not to say I hate them, but I sure have noticed a lot on rereads. My favorite is “Death Comes as the End”, which is set in Ancient Egypt, so many of the problems become instantly less noticeable (unless you are knowledgeable about Ancient Egypt, I expect).

    Of course, you’ll find gender role and class problems in a lot of books, particularly older ones. That’s hard to escape. But at least Dorothy Sayers writes better characters.

  30. I gather that there was an old guide book to Chicago that was called “The Lake Is East”. A quick google doesn’t find it, but then, I was told about it some forty years ago….

  31. Rob Thornton: If I have a link for the next Pixel Scroll, should I still send it to Mike?

    You can send it to me at JJFile770 at the gmail place. Any links contributed by Filers which I don’t use in a scroll today or tomorrow will be forwarded on to Mike.

    My thanks to all the Filers who’ve helped out with stories and links. 🙂

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