Pixel Scroll 10/19/21 He Learned Almost Too Late That Man Is A Scrolling Pixel

(1) TOR.COM DEFCON DOWNGRADED. Reddit has updated yesterday’s warning that Tor.com was hacked and spreading malware to say the site is now “safe-ish” to use.

It appears that Tor.com has taken action and cleaned up the file mentioned in this post, meaning the information below is now outdated and Tor.com should currently be safe-ish to use.

Safe-ish, as the vulnerability that allowed the hack to happen may still exist, along with any possible backdoors the hackers left behind. So until Tor.com confirms that the problem is completely resolved, it is possible that malware might re-appear on the site.

(2) IT’S CROSSOVER SEASON. [Item by Daniel Dern.] This season/year’s Flash/Arroverse crossover will span five episodes across several shows, starting with The Flash, on November 16. Gizmodo has the story: “The Flash: Armageddon First Trailer for New Crossover Event”.

Despero first appeared in  Justice League of America #1 (October 1960) (via Despero – I knew he was initially a JLA villain and was early Silver Age, since I’m pretty sure I remember buying (or borrowing) and reading it when it came out, for a dime… and the TV preview/trailer’s brief chess images around the 15-second mark are, I’m sure, an homage to JLA #1’s cover.) Despy has returned many times over the decades; in more recent manifestations, all muscle-bulked out. I also realized that I was briefly conflating him, JLA-comic-villain-appearance-wise, with Kanjar Ro, my bad. Based on the trailer, in this cross-over, he’ll look like a human being, no head-fin, etc.

Here’s File 770’s roundup of two past crossovers.

2019:

2017: The musical one

And here’s CBR’s summary of the Arrowverse cross-overs: “Every Arrowverse Crossover, Ranked”.

(3) HARROW & VALENTE ONLINE. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid invites you to joing them for “Tor-rific tales: Alix Harrow and Catherynne M. Valente in conversation with Anna Milon” on Thursday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. British Summer Time. Free. Register here.

Offering fresh, feminist perspectives and chilling, creepy visions in their reimaginings of beloved stories, the authors will discuss craft, favourite tales, and of course, their latest novellas. So grab a hot drink and a copy of A Spindle Shattered by Alix E. Harrow and Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente.

(4) RAUM AT THE TOP. The next two articles in Cora Buhlert’s episode-by-episode review of the West German science fiction show Space Patrol Orion are live at Galactic Journey.

Here’s episode 2, “Planet Off Course”: “[October 18, 1966] Moral Dilemmas and Earth in Peril: Space Patrol Orion Episode 2: ‘Planet Off Course’”.

… So far, science fiction had had no presence on West German TV, so professional TV critics were mostly baffled, to put it politely. The Berlin tabloid B.Z. called Orion “pseudoscientific nonsense” set in a “brainless utopia”. The magazine Kirche und Fernsehen (Church and Television) lamented that the dialogues were too complicated for the viewers to understand, at least viewers not used to science fiction and gadget speak….

And here’s episode 3, “Guardians of the Law”: “[October 19, 1966] Routine Missions and Asimovian Robots: Space Patrol Orion Episode 3: ‘Guardians of the Law’”

After pulling out all the stops in episode 2, what would Raumpatrouille Orion do for an encore? Well, instead of threatening the entire solar system this time around, writer Rolf Honold and W.G. Larsen have opted for a more low-key adventure for the Orion 8 and her brave crew.

And so episode 3 “Hüter des Gesetzes” (Guardians of the Law) opens with that most routine of situations, namely a robotics training course for Space Fleet personnel, including the Orion crew. The Orion crew seems bored, but my interest perked up once robotics specialist Rott (Alfons Höckmann) mentioned the Three Laws of Robotics. Yes, Isaac Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics exist in the Space Patrol Orion universe….

(5) FIRST CONTACT. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Great little twitter thread from Farscape star Claudia Black about her encounter with a young James McAvoy. Bit of a long read (best to see the quote about her in the linked article first, to give context), but it’s just heartwarming. (“James McAvoy, Son Of Dune, Has Advice For His Father, Dune Star Timothée Chalamet” at Slashfilm.) Twitter thread starts here.

(6) HEROIC NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA. [Item by Andrew Porter.] After over a year’s worth of work, Jess Nevins completed the expansion and conversion of his Encyclopedia of Print Heroes (2017) to an online edition. Table of Contents here. Introduction here:

The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes is intended to be a kind of sequel to my Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana: an attempt at providing a panoptical view of the characters of genre culture from across media and around the world, spanning the years from 1902 to 1945. But as was the case with Fantastic Victoriana the title of Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes is likely to be misleading, and some explanation of what the book is and what it is not is necessary. 

Pulp Heroes is an encyclopedia. However, any book with the word “encyclopedia” in the title is at least implicitly laying claim to both authority and exhaustiveness. I’ve made a reasonable attempt at the former, but the latter was beyond my capabilities, and perhaps beyond anyone’s. As I documented in my Pulp Magazine Holdings Directory, time has been cruel to the American pulps. 38% of all American pulps no longer exist (at least in libraries), and 14% of all American pulps survive in only scattered (less than five total) copies. It’s theoretically possible that pulp collectors own large numbers of these missing pulps, but collectors are hard to locate and many are uncooperative when it comes to letting outsiders view their collections (or even to sharing information). [1] Only a handful of academic libraries have more than one or two issues of the longer-lasting and better-known pulps, and more obscure pulps, like Spicy Screen StoriesThrilling Mysteries, and Zeppelin Stories, are completely unavailable. And the rarest pulps of all, Spicy Gorilla StoriesHobo Romance, and Two-Fisted Quaker Mysteries, are not mentioned in even the most in-depth reference works.…

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1954 – Sixty-eight years on this date, Ballantine Books first published Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It would be awarded a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4.  It would also be voted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. Though most reception at the time of publication was extremely favorable with the Galaxy reviewer Groff Conklin saying the novel was “among the great works of the imagination written in English in the last decade or more”, some were not at all pleased with the P. Schuyler Miller review for Astounding saying that it was “one of Bradbury’s bitter, almost hysterical diatribes”. It would later be made into a well-received François Truffaut film which has a strong rating of seventy-two percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. A remake which was made three years ago fares much worse garnering a rating of just thirty- three percent. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1934 Peter Weston. He made innumerable contributions  in fan writing and editing, conrunning, and in local clubs. He was nominated for a number of Hugo awards but never won, including a nomination for his autobiography Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom. Since 1984, those awards have been cast by the car-parts factory which Weston owned and managed until he retired. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 81. Actor of Stage and Screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films). He also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary ReillySleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson HourDoctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller and possibly tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. FoxPaddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger. 
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 76. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the HendersonsShrekRise of the Planet of the ApesInterstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh, and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! He of course is Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun.  And for true genre creds, he voiced the character of Yoda in the  NPR adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Born October 19, 1943 L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 78. Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. He won a Neffy for his Endgames novel, and a Utah Speculative Fiction Award for his Archform: Beauty novel. 
  • Born October 19, 1946 Philip Pullman, 75. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries, both the original versions and the Billy Piper-led series, far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North as the shortness of them works in their favor.
  • Born October 19, 1955 Jon Favreau, 66. I can’t possibly list everything he’s done so I’ll just singly my favorite things he’s done or will do. He’s the creator of The Mandalorian, and he’s serving as a director and executive producer for its spin-off series, The Book of Boba Fett. He was executive producer of The Avengers and the first and only great Iron Man film where he made his appearance as Happy Hogan, a role he’s reprised several times. 
  • Born October 19, 1990 Ciana Renee, 31. Her most known genre role is as Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl  on Legends of Tomorrow and related Arrowverse series. She also showed up on The Big Bang Theory as Sunny Morrow in “The Conjugal Configuration”, and she played The Witch in the theaterical production of Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.  She was also Elsa in the theaterical production of Frozen.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THE PRICE FOR CHALLENGING SCIENCE CLAIMS. [Item by Brown Robin.] Is there (scientific) method to this madness? “Bik And Raoult Hydroxychloroquine Feud Exposes Tensions” at Buzzfeed.

Days after a mysterious new illness was declared a pandemic in March of last year, a prominent scientist in France announced that he had already found a cure.

Based on a small clinical trial, microbiologist Didier Raoult claimed that hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old antimalarial drug, was part of a 100% effective treatment against COVID-19. Then–US president Donald Trump promptly proclaimed that the finding could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

But the study seemed off to Elisabeth Bik, a scientist turned science detective living in Silicon Valley. Bik has a sharp eye for spotting errors buried in arcane scientific papers, particularly when it comes to duplicated images. And much about Raoult’s paper looked fishy, as she later noted on her blog. Unfavorable data was left out, and the trial’s timeline was mathematically impossible. “Something does not seem quite right,” she wrote.

Before long, Bik would learn the price of raising such concerns. Raoult and a coauthor went on to call her a “witch hunter,” a “mercenary,” and a “crazy woman” on Twitter and in the press. Then, in April 2021, Raoult’s collaborator announced that they had filed a criminal complaint against Bik and a spokesperson for PubPeer, a website where she and others post scientific criticism, accusing them of blackmail, extortion, and harassment. He tweeted out a screenshot of the complaint, revealing her home address to the world….

(11) TOURING IMAGINARY WORLDS. [Item by David K.M. Klaus.] Rick Steves is / was my / Nila’s favorite travel writer and PBS travel program TV host, and we wished we could have gone on one of his marvelous European tours. I never saw anything specific until this very article, but he always set off my fannish radar. “Rick Steves Casually Reviews Dangerous Fantasy Locations” by Kurt Zemaitaitis at McSweeney’s.

… The Shire used to be the best-kept secret of Middle Earth, but tourists have been flocking there lately because of their famous “second breakfasts.”…

(12) AMBIVALENT OPTION. Kotaku says “Classic Doom Is Now Playable Via A New Twitter Account”. Yeah, I don’t know – I’m still traumatized from playing it on the network in the Loscon game room years ago and being repeated killed by the same teenager before I’m 30 seconds into the game…

Are you bored, sitting in some waiting room? Maybe, instead of just doing nothing you want to play some Doom? Well you could download the fantastic mobile ports of Doom or play it on Switch. Or, why not play Doom using Twitter via short commands and videos?…

(13) CONFLATION. Yeah, I can sort of see how this might cross someone’s mind. This Dune meme is a callback to the poster for the 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car?

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Every Sean Connery Bond” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on the six Sean Connery Bond movies (Never Say Never Again doesn’t count).  They note that Connery is “England’s best Scottish spy” and Connery fights “like a drunk stepdad.”  But he’s up against SPECTRE, whose limited range of evil plans results from all the henchmen who keep getting killed off.  Also, for “peak evil performance” you need “the physique of an egg.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Eric Franklin, David K.M. Klaus, Brown Robin, Ben Bird Person, Cora Buhlert, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day m.c. simon milligan.]

44 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/19/21 He Learned Almost Too Late That Man Is A Scrolling Pixel

  1. It’s good the immediate problem, at least, at Tor.com has been fixed.

    Tired. Feeling much better than recently, due to the plan to pick up Cider on Thursday. I even have my ferry reservations made.

    But still, tired.

  2. (5) FIRST CONTACT.

    That’s a great story. And I love that the Claudia Black Fan Account was able to come up with a photo of the 3 actors together on the night in question – 18 years ago.

  3. Scott Edelman: Good correction. I have performed a birthday transplant and put his listing back on October 9 where we’ll be reminded next year.

  4. 8) Michael Gambon was also the narrator on the original BBC version of Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire (the version that aired on Comedy Central, and which is currently up on iTunes, was heavily edited and had the narration redone by Chris Parnell, I believe it was), a show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.

  5. Joe H: It would be interesting to compile a list with everybody’s idea of “a show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.”

    If I can reach back to another age — Time Tunnel, for me.

  6. (1) Unrelated to the defcon, but I’ve been curious about the difference between “Tor.com” and “Tordotcom”. I thought they were the same thing, but the 2020 Nebulas use both phrases for different works. Is it a branding change?

  7. 1) This sort of thing is why I dislike websites that straight-up don’t function if you disable javascript. If I have entirely disabled scripts I can usually avoid having unfortunate consequences if this has happened to a website I’m visiting.

  8. @Bartimaeus: I’m not 100% sure, but I believe that tor.com is simply the website for Tor Books, while tordotcom is Tor’s on-line ebook publishing wing. It is a bit confusing, though. I even get a regular newsletter from one or the other of them, and yet I still haven’t quite sorted it all out. 🙂

  9. Mike Glyer on October 19, 2021 at 9:02 pm said:
    Joe H: It would be interesting to compile a list with everybody’s idea of “a show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.”

    If I can reach back to another age — Time Tunnel, for me.

    Hmm. Moonbase 3, I think.

  10. Joe H: It would be interesting to compile a list with everybody’s idea of “a show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.”

    If I can reach back to another age — Time Tunnel, for me.

    I have a soft spot for Time Tunnel as well, since it was my first contact with the concept of time travel (during a rerun on German TV in the late 1970s), which is mindblowing when you first encounter it, even if the vehicle is not so great.

    Also the original Battlestar Galactica. It may not have been Star Wars, but it was as close as you could get on TV. Plus, Richard Hatch was one of my early SF crushes along with Harrison Ford and Walter Koenig (and Morten Harket as a non-SFF crush).

  11. 8) Philip Pullman – I’m surprised you think that, Cat. When I read Northern Lights/Golden Compass, I was amazed by the wealth of imaginative ideas it contained.

  12. It would be interesting to compile a list with everybody’s idea of “a show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.”

    For me, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

  13. 6) Okay, I see how “Spicy Gorilla Stories” could arise out of the “Spicy” line, which was quite a thing in the thirties. It also serves as an indication that all those DC comics covers weren’t as much of an outlier as it might seem. “Hobo Romance” makes a tiny amount of sense given Great Depression culture, but “Two-Fisted Quaker Mysteries” sounds like it was created by a random title generator, or at least is about as niche as possible. I assume it really existed, but suspect not for long.

  14. @Steve Leavell — Though if they are unavailable, and not mentioned in reference books, how can we be sure that they really existed? They might have the same status as Disturbing Cell-Phone Tales.

  15. @David Shallcross–“Disturbing Cell-Phone Tales” deserves a place on the list of “things I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.”

  16. I watched very little television during the seventies and eighties, and mostly avoided SF shows in particular unless they came highly recommended (which, in practice, meant watching almost no SF shows). And, sorry fans of the show, but I bounced off of B5, despite several tries. Which means that until Farscape came along, Trek was pretty much it for me.

    However, there was one show, I think it was from the late eighties, that I ended up watching a bit of, and enjoyed more than it deserved, but I can’t remember the name. The protagonist was an alien stranded on Earth in the guise of a young woman, and the main things I remember at this point are that she got drunk on…milk, I think? And she was obsessed with teeth for some reason? It was a weird show, didn’t last long, pretty dumb, but didn’t take itself seriously.

  17. @xtifr — Could that have been Alien Nation? That’s what I get with a brief Googling for “alien milk tv”, and the results look promising.

  18. My show would probably be Xena: Warrior Princess. Great performances (minus Joxer) and it was very well written, given that it was a syndicated show that filled in late-night and weekend afternoon niches.

  19. So I’m thinking of listening to Ringworld as I’ve not visited that novel in I think twenty years. Anyone read it of late? Has the Suck Fairy been kind to it?

  20. (2) The Justice League had a lot of villains with names ending in -o in their early years. Despero, Kanjar Ro, Amazo, Starro…

  21. My show would be Eureka. Good premise with very interesting characters. It’s on Peacock, one of the streaming services I get, so I may do a rewatch this winter.

  22. I’m pretty sure tor.com is the website and tordotcom is a name for a line of novellas Tor publishes both as ebooks and real books.

  23. @ Cat Eldridge

    For some reason, I started into Ringworld a few months ago and I didn’t feel like the Suck Fairy hit it too hard (though the lack of female agency is problematic). The other factor was that the twist kinda takes away from the ending rather than enhancing it. If you keep those items in mind and remember that it is from the 70s, I say it would be ok.

  24. Robin of Sherwood is my “Love it more than it possibly deserves”. Although I also think it might have deserved it at its best, it did have some random Deus Ex Machina moments and weirdness, and not all of it aged well.

  25. @Cat Eldridge
    I some some of Eureka. It was interesting, especially the way the plot twists changed the view of what was going on.

  26. Spicy Gorilla Stories, Hobo Romance, and Two-Fisted Quaker Mysteries,

    Is it wrong that I want to use those titles, whether real or fake, as a writing prompt?

  27. Camestros: Thanks! It probably was coffee, and I’m probably misremembering it as milk because of Alien Nation (which is definitely not the show I was thinking of, but thanks to all those who made that reasonable suggestion).

  28. “It would be interesting to compile a list with everybody’s idea of “a show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves.””

    As a fourth-grader in the mid-80s, I was fortunate to be present for that space-time rift through which certain Thames Programming shows aired on the U.S. channel Nickelodeon, and thus got utterly fascinated with The Tomorrow People.

    I attempted a rewatch as an adult, starting with Season 1, and found it … bad. Only got a few episodes in before it got too painful. But at the same time I didn’t recognize anything of what I was seeing. So my guess is, the episodes I got hooked on were from a later season. If I never track them down, I’ll never have to face that the suck fairy visited them as well. (But then I’ll never know what happened after that one episode that ended on a cliffhanger!)

  29. ‘A show I enjoy possibly more than it deserves’ is a 1998 Fox series called “Brimstone”. Peter Horton as a NYC cop back from Hell on a mission for the Devil, And John Glover as the particularly malicious/delicious Devil.
    Cancelled after 13 episodes for -wait for it- low ratings after Fox showed the first episodes out of order and then moved it around on their schedule. Sound familiar? (cough-Firefly-cough)

  30. Jess Nevins completed the expansion and conversion of his Encyclopedia of Print Heroes (2017)

    I think not.

  31. A show I enjoyed possibly more than it deserves was a Robin Hood spoof called “When Things Were Rotten”. I don’t remember much concrete about it; I was maybe eight or nine years old. I do remember it had cringeworthy puns I found hilarious, like Prince John wanting a “royal seal” that turned out to be the aquatic mammal…

  32. I was going to go with “Quark” as my overappreciated show, but upon reflection inspired by this scroll title, it has to be Mystery Science Theater. Good show with serious flaws, but not nearly as titanic an achievement as I once held it to be. Better in concept than execution, possibly the first hip-hop tv show (yes, I’m aware of the irony), and a great party activity for the right crowd, but ultimately not 100.

    Enjoyed Quark, but it probably needed to be cancelled.

  33. @JeffWarner

    John Glover as the particularly malicious/delicious Devil.

    John Glover as the devil? Yeah, I could see that . . . .

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