Pixel Scroll 1/3/19 Up Pixelscope

(1) NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON TALK SHOW PULLED. Variety’s Michael Schneider, in “Nat Geo Pulls Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s ‘Star Talk’ Amid Misconduct Allegations” says that the National Geographic Channel has suspended Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show StarTalk with only three of its 20 episodes broadcast because of the sexual harassment allegations against Tyson.  One of the unaired episodes was an interview with George R.R. Martin.  “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” the sequel to “Cosmos” is still scheduled to air on Fox starting March 4, because Tyson is such an integral part of that show that it would take massive recutting to take him out of it.

(2) BANDERSNATCH FEATURETTE. Netflix has posted an overview of its hit interactive TV production.

(3) THE FAR SIDE. China has announced that their far-side Lunar rover, Chang’e 4, has landed (CNN: “China lunar rover successfully touches down on far side of the moon, state media announces”).

In an historic first, China has successfully landed a rover on the far side of the moon, Chinese state media announced Thursday, a huge milestone for the nation as it attempts to position itself as a leading space power.

China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) landed the Chang’e 4 lunar probe at 10:26 am Beijing time on Thursday, in the South Pole-Aitken Basin which is an impact crater, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

It made its final descent from a landing orbit 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) above the moon’s surface.

State media reported the rover transmitted back the world’s first close range image of the far side of the moon. No other details were immediately available.

The 6-wheeled rover is fairly small (1.5x1x1 meters, not counting the foldable solar arrays). Communication with Earth is via a satellite put in Lunar orbit earlier in 2018. 

(4) A CITY OF COMICS CREATORS. With DC moving its headquarters to LA, and Marvel making movies there in Hollywood, there’s a rationale for caring about “The 10 Best Mainstream Comic Books By LA Creators Right Now” (LAist) even though it’s a thoroughly international industry.

Doomsday Clock goes deep into DC Comics lore, bringing back the legendary Watchmen team who had largely remained untouched since their creation by Alan Moore in the 1980s. L.A.-based writer Geoff Johns has always had a soft spot for the history of DC, bringing back the past to give new life to characters old and new.

He’s doing that again here with frequent teammate Gary Frank. Frank’s intricate style has put Doomsday Clock on an every-other-month schedule, which can make it harder to follow along, but the book looks gorgeous. It’s a meticulous art style combined with a meticulously written book, with little details to capture your imagination. It’s also bringing back other long lost DC characters, integrating them all in a giant blockbuster story that also manages to focus on character.

(5) LOSS OF A HOME LIBRARY EVOKES BOOK MEMORIES. From the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Datebook” — “Revisiting the ruins of a home — and its library of 2,000 books — lost in the Camp Fire” by Jaime O’Neill.

…The public library in Paradise was spared by the fire that leveled that town on Nov. 8. The fire that spared the town library didn’t spare mine, however. Since those books burned, I have spent some time taking a rough inventory of the books I lost, imagining the pages curling in the heat, the shelves that held them collapsing, the smoke from all those books joining with the smoke generated by everything else that was under our roof.

… There were books I’d given my wife for Christmases and birthdays, and books she’d given me on similar occasions. There was a novel I’d read more than four decades ago on a Christmas higher in the mountains, a modern ghost story by Kingsley Amis — “The Green Man” — that offered up its pleasures as I sat by the Franklin stove, snowed in, with nearly 4 feet of snow on the ground outside. There were books half-read, set aside when my fickle attentions were drawn to other books, but books I meant to return to, nonetheless, like a remarkable book about the Teapot Dome scandal by Laton McCartney, a story rich in parallels to our own time, with very rich con men pillaging at will under the stewardship of an incompetent and amoral president….

(6) STAYIN’ ALIVE. John Scalzi got a good post from interacting with points made in Lindsay Ellis’ video about “The Death of the Author” literary theory: “The Death of the Author! Maybe!” (He links to the video in his post.)

4. Authors know more about their worlds than you do, but maybe don’t have all the answers. …as it happens, sometimes writers and readers don’t find the same things important, with regard to the worldbuilding. As a result, readers sometimes think about certain things more than the authors have, and the authors get caught flatfooted when readers want to know more about that particular thing. Alternately sometimes the author kind of bullshits through something because they don’t think it’s important and later it comes back to bite them and has to be explained away. In Old Man’s War, I didn’t do any sort of real worldbuilding for Earth because I knew I was going to leave it in a chapter, and I didn’t think about whether I would ever write any sequels.

And then one day I was asked to write a sequel, and readers were asking why future Earth seemed exactly like now, and I had to recon my way out of my own laziness. It worked out okay (indeed the explanation became a seed for much of the series onward), but the point is, at the time of the original writing, there was no deep-seated reason for doing it other than “it doesn’t matter, so why bother.” Guess what! It mattered.

(7) FERGUSON OBIT. [By Guy H. Lillian III.] Eric Ferguson, Florida fan and onetime member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, was found deceased on January 3, 2019 in his home on Merritt Island, Florida. I personally spoke to the officer in charge, who merely told me that the investigation into Eric’s death was ongoing. No cause of death is yet known. He had been known to have suffered from severe intestinal troubles in the past, and hadn’t been active in fandom in some years.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. So what was the first work by him you read? For me, it was The Hobbit which I fell in love and still find terribly engaging in a way that I don’t, and no throwing rocks please, find The Lord of The Rings. I think it’s that it’s far me easier to lose myself in the work and enjoy what happens than struggle through the story of the latter. I’m also fond of The Road Goes Ever On, a song cycle taken from The Lord of The RingsThe Father Christmas Letters which a local Theater group enacted one year, and The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. (Died 1973.)
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft, 79. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here?  Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work.
  • Born January 3, 1956 Mel Gibson, 63. I know the first thing I saw was genre wise involving him was The Road Warrior  in a cinema which would some forty years ago. Likewise I saw Mad Max 2 and  Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome  in cinemas, but I admit have mixed feelings about both of those films. And I never even knew Mad Max: Fury Road existed until now, so it missed its released. He’s in FairyTale: A True Story, a look at the the Cottingley Fairy photographs of the 1920s, and voices John Smith in Pocahontas. He plays Hamlet in Hamlet but I really don’t think I can call that genre…
  • Born January 3, 1973 Dan Harmon, 46. Aside from being the creator of the hit animated series Rick and Morty, his series HarmonQuest has helped to bring Dungeons and Dragons to a new audience. Other credits include Community, Heat Vision and Jack, and Monster House. His work as a writer and executive producer for Channel 101 and Acceptable.tv has inspired many filmmakers that comedy and sci-fi/fantasy don’t have to be separate.
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 44. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in Young Justice. It’s starting its third season on the fourth of this month on the DC Universe service and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it. 
  • Born January 3, 1984  — Brooke Williams, 35. For recurring roles, she’s been Catania in The Shannara Chronicles and Hannah in 12 Monkeys. She had a recurring also as Jennsen Rahl on Legend of the Seeker which is off novels by Terry Goodkind. She also played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at  the Globe Theatre In London. Remember we agreed this was fantasy. Indeed she’s been in Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk, both in New Zealand productions! 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville titles this strip “The Captain Pike Series Lemont Always Wanted.”

(10) FANZINE ON JEOPARDY! It happened January 1, and Andrew Porter, supplied a picture of this epic moment:

Answer: “Zine” is a short form of “Fanzine”, first associated with this genre; the Hugo Awards have honored zines since 1955.

Correct question: “What is Sci-Fi”?

And here’s the image off my TV:

(11) NO HUGOS, PLEASE. Camestros Felapton does his best to let us down easy – but he doesn’t want to be nominated for Best Fan Writer again: “So, I’m not doing an eligibility list this year…sort of…”

Put another way: the nomination etc WAS fun and nice but it made writing the blog less fun and less nice. Not in any terrible angsty torture like way but enough that I’ll skip the experience for 2019. That’s not a ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ just a ‘the view is lovely but I’m a bit puffed out from walking up this hill and tomorrow I’d like to stay in the pub and look at the next big hill from below in the beer garden, thanks’. It was also a bit like eating celery but that analogy requires more explanation and really doesn’t help get the point across.

(12) MORE NOT CHEERY STUFF. Trailer for season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher

He isn’t the one who dies. He’s the one that does the killing. Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher debuts exclusively on Netflix January 18.

(13) LET’S GET THAT CLEARED UP. Snopes.com, in their “Daily Debunker” for Jan. 2nd writes:

“Did CBS Report That ‘Elites Are Lining Up to Ingest the Blood of Children’?”

A report that went viral after supposedly appearing on CBS News says that “world leaders and elite businessmen” routinely ingest the blood of human children to achieve “eternal youth.” … We feel absurd having to point this out, but no one outside of characters from mythology and vampire fiction consumes blood to keep from aging.

(14) ONE OF THE GREATEST ARGUMENTS IN POP CULTURE? SYFY Wire: “Debate Club: The 5 best sci-fi/horror remakes”:

Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.

[…]  this week for Debate Club, we look at the best sci-fi and horror remakes, movies that did their own thing in their own way by working with something we already knew.

The five movies they chose are:

5. I Am Legend (2007)

4. War of the Worlds (2005)
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
2. The Fly (1986)
1. The Thing (1982)

The article includes a rationale for each choice. Let your debates begin.

(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. The newest exotic Oreos flavor has arrived says Delish: “Carrot Cake Oreos Are Here So Much Earlier Than We Thought They’d Be!”

It’s a 2019 miracle! After Carrot Cake Oreos were rumored to be dropping this spring, some shoppers have taken to Instagram to share that the newest sandwich cookie flavor is already on shelves.

If we’re to take the Instagrammers’ words for fact, it’s looking like these babies are available at both Targets and Walmarts—though no word on whether they’ve hit every store yet.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Funny or Die asks what would it be like “If The Lord Of The Rings Was A Sitcom.” For one thing, it would be called Northern Expo-Shire. For another, it would have a laugh track. Of course. And, it would be on at 8PM Mondays.

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

82 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/3/19 Up Pixelscope

  1. @Jack Lint
    Mad Max was definitely released in the US before Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. (The Imdb has the release date as February 15, 1980 in Seguin, Texas.)

    @Mike Glyer
    it’s even possible to pull up a digital copy of the Seguin paper for that date and see an ad for the movie

    The Jan 31 1980 LA Times has an ad for the movie running in La Jolla (probably starting the next day, a Friday); and the Feb 1 1980 edition has an ad for it in San Diego.

  2. Meredith Moments:

    Volume one of Liz Williams’ Detective Inspector Chen novels (including Snake Agent, Demon And The City, Precious Dragon) is available in ebook format from the usual subjects for $3.99.

    Elizabeth Hand’s Winterlong Trilogy (Winterlong, Aestival Tide, Icarus Descending) is available in ebook form for $3.99.

    Volume one of Philip Jose Farmer’s World of Tiers (Maker of Universes, Gates of Creation, A Private Cosmos) is also available in ebook format for $3.99 from, again, the usual suspects.

    And some more again:
    Elvissey by Jack Womack @ $1.99
    Case of Conscience by James Blish @ $1.99
    Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers @ $1.99
    Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz @ $1.99
    Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling @ $1.99
    Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick @ 1.99

  3. Hampus: I had no idea Tove Jansson illustrated THE HOBBIT. Thanks for the information!

  4. I read The Hobbit between The Two Towers & Return of the King. I’d borrowed both from the library but when I went to get Return of the King it wasn’t available! So my first read through of LOTR hits a huge cliffhanger and then goes on an extended flashback.

  5. hey mike,

    i have a list of Meredith Moments in moderation–used too many at signs, i’m afraid. 🙂

  6. For those who might be interested, there’s a 4-CD audio set available that’s mostly JRRT reading from his own works (the longest section is “Riddles in the Dark” from The Hobbit, plus other bits & bobs from LotR and some of the poems from Adventures of Tom Bombadil); it also includes one disc of Christopher Tolkien reading excerpts from The Silmarillion.

    https://www.amazon.com/J-R-R-Tolkien-Audio-Collection/dp/0694525707

  7. @Kip

    He put a disgusting bug in Hamlet Sr’s ear, and when Senior was under his power, he had him jump out a window. ‘Strewth!

    If there’s a disgusting bug on the mantelpiece, it must be put into someone’s ear before the end of the play: that’s Chekov’s law.

  8. I loved both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings . I can easily see someone liking one and not the other, but I liked both.

    Had something else to say. Clearly not important. Spent some time Adulting, calling insurance, dealership, other insurance, all for things loosely connected to my crash last month.

  9. Good thing I didn’t check Box Office Mojo first which says Mad Max was released on March 21, 1980. Maybe that was for widespread release. My memory was that it was more of an early summer film, but who knows.

    BOM also says that its US gross was $8,750,000 which seems too round a figure. (Also less than I would have guessed, but that was 1980s money.) Just above Jackie Chan in The Big Brawl in the 1980 rankings.

    And the Pixel Scroller? That was the last we ever saw of him. He comments now only in my memories.

  10. Rob Thornton said:
    FYI,, there is a 1967 Caedmon LP (i.e. vinyl record) called Poems and Songs of Middle Earth.

    Is this the one?

  11. I am one of those people who never caught Tolkien fever.

    I think I was a sophomore in high school when the big Hobbit craze went around my very small high school. Wondering what everyone else was so gaga about, I read it, and my response was, “okay, sure, nice fantasy tale but a bit juvenile”. At that point, I had been reading adult science fiction for years (and had read the Earthsea Trilogy long before).

    So it wasn’t until years later that I bothered reading LoTR, and my reaction was similar to that of Robert Whitaker Sirignano’s wife: it was a very big and overly long boy’s book — worth reading once, and I’ve never had any desire to read it again. I presume that so much is made of it because it was the first fantasy of that type; certainly I’ve read other epic high fantasy series which I think are much better-written.

    < waits for the torches, pitchforks, and stones >

  12. If anyone’s debating whether to see Mary Poppins Returns: I enjoyed it, though it has some frustrating aspects. If you liked the first one, you’ll probably like the majority of this. If you didn’t, you probably won’t. More thoughts here.

    (I realize that the gritty realism of the Mary Poppins films disqualifies them as genre works for some people, but I would argue that they qualify as SF/F due to the alternate-universe English accents used by Dick van Dyke and Lin-Manuel Miranda)

  13. Apropos of nothing, in his Fire & Blood, at one point George R.R. Martin has a Lord Elmo succeeded by his son, Lord Kermit. Who has a brother, Ser Oscar.

    As god is my witness, I am not making this up.

  14. (5) Reading this was almost too painful. It’s easy to say books are just things, but as O’Neill says a physical book can be a tangible memory of people and places. I lost a bunch of books and fanzines to a flood in 2016 and I still miss them; I can’t imagine how it would feel if I had lost them all.

    And I might as well throw in my “first Tolkien” experience. I got a LOTR paperback set for my 14th birthday. Read them and loved them immediately. For several years, I kept track of how many times I had read them; eventually stopped counting when it passed about 10 or so. I’ve never really warmed to The Hobbit” although I liked it well enough to read it a few times.

  15. @JJ
    I understand that. I first read LotR when I was college age, and while it’s worth reading at least once, I didn’t feel any need to go watch Jackson’s versions.

  16. P J Evans says I understand that. I first read LotR when I was college age, and while it’s worth reading at least once, I didn’t feel any need to go watch Jackson’s versions.

    I watched the first at home when it came out on DVD and thought it was, errrr, ok. That was not enough to make me want to watch the next two instalments. I’m not much for seeing films made from literature that I really liked so I’m not likely to see the forthcoming Dune either as I’ve read the novel a half dozen times and have pictured everything in my mind. So something like The Guardians of The Galaxy is much more to my liking as it’s an original story.

  17. Jackson’s movies would be lovely were they stand along original fantasy. As a rendition of Tolkien’s work, they’re lacking in many ways. Although he did get the scenery right.

  18. Meredith Moment: Gardner Dozois’ Book of Swords anthology (which has some great stuff in it) is $1.99.

  19. @Heather Rose Jones: Neither experience was what I’d call a suck fairy event, just realizing that I’d read the books at exactly the time I ought to have read them. This.

    @Andrew: I had completely forgotten the messy details of how longevity became generally available. (I haven’t forgotten that 5-10 years ago I thought I would see the end of a need for red-cell transfusions, but that seems to have receded into the indefinite future.) I do remember the you-must-have-a-secret hysteria of early in the story (and repeated at the end); I suppose desire will continue to overwhelm reason for many.

    @David Shallcross: the question of fantasy in Shakespeare depends at least partly on the definition of fantasy. ISTM that many of us take it to mean this isn’t — but wouldn’t it be interesting if it were, where Shakespeare’s audience probably treated those plays as true. (IIRC Macbeth specifically pandered to James VI&I’s paranoia about witchcraft.) I would be more inclined to point to several Gilbert&Sullivan works as fantasy, but I’d be guessing about Victorian attitudes.

    @Kevin Harkness: my English class was not knowledgeable enough to reach a conclusion. Matters might have been different a few years later when the school started offering AP biology.

    @Kip Williams: cute, but IIRC Sr’s died in his sleep.

  20. Chip: Thanks for trying to set me straight and all, but I think someone has mistaken “his leap” for “his sleep.” Of course, I won’t point any fingers.

  21. When it comes to LotR, I’m going to horrify people by saying that I prefer the Jackson movies to the books. Which is really, really unusual for me–I almost always prefer the book. But I thought the books were a mess–albeit an entertaining one. I mean, I have read them over a dozen times. It’s not like I hate them. On the other hand, there are big sections I usually just skip over when re-reading, because the whole thing is just such a mess. So…mixed review? 🙂

    And, of course, the movies aren’t perfect either–far from it–but overall, I think they’re a lot less of a mess than the books. I have a laundry list of complaints about the movies, but I think that on the balance, they end up improving on the books slightly more than they do the opposite.

  22. In Birthdays:

    Born January 3, 1940 – Kinuko Y. Craft, 79. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here? Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover she did.

    Am I overlooking the link, or is in in fact not actually there? I’d love to read that review.

    I’m particularly partial to her covers for Ombria in Shadow and Alphabet of Thorn. The way she fits so many plot and character details into her intricate covers is delightful.

  23. Oh yeah, Craft’s stuff is awesome! Even if I weren’t a huge McKillip fan (which I am), I would have been strongly tempted to buy a lot of her books just to own the covers!

    Even more awesome: I just now discovered that a bunch of her stuff is available as jigsaw puzzles!

  24. I’m late on catching up with this —

    @JJ —

    I presume that so much is made of it because it was the first fantasy of that type; certainly I’ve read other epic high fantasy series which I think are much better-written.

    Burn the witch!

    ;-D

    I read LOTR in high school, I think. That or late middle school. I had been reading sff for years before that. I loved it to death, and I’ve read and/or listened to all four books (counting The Hobbit) several times. I could do without Tom Bombadil, but otherwise I think it’s marvelous.

    OTOH, it did take me THREE tries to get past the first 50 pages of Hobbit. I ended up having a lot of fun with it, but those first 50 pages were deadly boring!

  25. @ Martin Wooster: It’s lovingly referred to as “the Moomin Hobbit” (her art style is quite distinctive, and if your early meeting of that style were Moomin stories, every Tive Jansson illustration looks like a Moomin illustration).

  26. Hmm, I seem to be the only one who loved Farmer Giles of Ham as much as anything else of Tolkien’s. And I’m glad someone else loves The Monsters and the Critics enough to mention.

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