Pixel Scroll 10/8/19 Clop, Clop, Clop Went The Pixel. Zing, Zing, Zing Went The Scroll

(1) ROBOTECH. Titan Comics launches its new Robotech comics on October 16.

A new Robotech saga starts now with Robotech: Remix, a gripping series that will take beloved characters and iconic mecha to places fans have never seen before! Featuring new writer Brenden Fletcher (Motorcrush, Isola) and anime ace Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron).

(2) HOUR OF THE WOLF. Has Jim Freund’s legendary radio program clocked out for the last time? Andrew Liptak explains the crisis in “Science Fiction Talk Show ‘Hour of the Wolf’ Goes Offline Amidst Studio Dispute” at Tor.com.

Jim Freund’s radio talk show Hour of the Wolf has been a fixture within the New York science fiction community on WBAI 99.5 FM for nearly half a century. On Monday, the station’s parent company, Pacifica Across America, abruptly shut down the station and replaced its local programming with shows from its other holdings, citing “financial losses,” according to Gothamist and The New York Times. The move leaves the future of the long-running program in question.

…The turmoil is a blow to the show, which began in 1971, and has been continually hosted by Freund since 1974. “Hour of the Wolf” was an early-morning talk show that aired between 5AM and 7AM, Freund explained, telling Tor.com that the live, call-in show was a way for the general public to learn about the science fiction and fantasy community….

Here’s the New York Times article: “Layoffs and Canceled Shows at WBAI-FM, a New York Radio Original”. A left-leaning station can’t stay afloat in New York? Amazing.

…In an interview, Mr. Vernile said WBAI — which, like the network’s other stations, is listener supported — had fallen short of its fund-raising goals in recent years. He added that the station was unable to make payroll and other expenses, forcing the larger Pacifica Foundation network to bail it out.

“Listeners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, D.C., have been supporting the efforts in New York,” Mr. Vernile said. “It has gotten to a point where we can no longer do that.”

Liptak’s post also includes the information reflected by this update from The Indypendent:

N.Y. State Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo has granted an injunction against the Pacifica Foundation’s attempt to close WBAI. Regular programming should resume today. Both parties are currently due to appear before Justice Nervo on Friday, Oct. 18. Just after 10:30 p.m. on Monday, the following statement was issued by Berthold Reimers, WBAI General Manager, to all producers and staff at the station:

WBAI managed to get an injunction to stay the takeover of the station. This means the station is legally back in the hands of WBAI’s personnel. All programs are back on and there is much to be done and we have no time to waste. The producers of WBAI have organized a meeting tomorrow night [Tuesday, Oct. 8] at 6:30 PM at 325 Hudson Street near Van Dam.

(3) NOBEL PRIZE. The LA Times has the story: “Nobel Prize in physics goes to three scientists for their work in understanding the cosmos “.

A Canadian American cosmologist and two Swiss scientists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work in understanding how the universe has evolved from the Big Bang and the blockbuster discovery of the first known planet outside our solar system.

Canadian-born James Peebles, 84, of Princeton University, was credited for “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and Switzerland’s Michel Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, both from the University of Geneva, were honored for discovering “an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,” said Prof. Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Peebles, hailed as one of the most influential cosmologists of his time, will collect half of the $918,000 cash award, and the Swiss men will share the other half.

The Nobel committee said Peebles’ theoretical framework about the cosmos — and its billions of galaxies and galaxy clusters — amounted to “the foundation of our modern understanding of the universe’s history, from the Big Bang to the present day.”

The BBC adds this quote from one of the winners:

Reacting to the news, Prof Queloz told BBC News: “It’s unbelievable,” adding: “Since the discovery [of the first extrasolar planet] 25 years ago, everyone kept telling me: ‘It’s a Nobel Prize discovery’. And I say: ‘Oh yeah, yeah, maybe, whatever.'”

But in the intervening years, he more-or-less “forgot” about the discovery: “I don’t even think about it,” he said. “So frankly, yes, it came as a surprise to me. I understand the impact of the discovery, but there’s such great physics being done in the world, I thought, it’s not for us, we will never have it.

(4) DEFYING DOOMSDAY. The winners of the 2018 D Franklin Defying Doomsday Award were announced October 6. This award is for media that deserves recognition for work in disability advocacy in SFF literature.

  • R.B. Lemberg for “Sergeant Bothari and Disability Representation in the Early Vorkosiverse,” in Strange Horizons
  • Ace Ratcliff for “Staircases In Space: Why Are Places In Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?” in io9.

The judges felt that R.B. Lemberg’s article was important because it noted how easy it is to veer away from criticising the representations that we do see throughout the Vorkosigan series because honestly, we’re just glad there’s something focusing on disability at all. But ignoring these issues means we risk having these continue, now and in the future. R.B acknowledges the importance and value of these books, but also encourages us to question them. In fact, the article encourages everyone to question books and the representations in them; this shouldn’t be something readers wish to avoid, simply because we have been desperate for visibility for so long.

(5) TOP HORROR. Rocket Stack Rank has posted itsannual “Outstanding SF/F Horror of 2018”, with 30 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 8, 1993 Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes premiered.  Two years ago, Stallone’s filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the disbursement of profits from the film. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 66% score. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 8, 1920 Frank Herbert. I’ll confess that I enjoyed Dune and Dune Messiah that’s as far as I got in the series. The other Herbert novel I really liked was Under Pressure. (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 8, 1927 Dallas Mitchell. He played Lieutenant Tom Nellis on Star Trek in the “Charlie X” episode. He one-offs on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Six Million Dollar Man, The Invaders, Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea and Mission: Impossible. (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 8, 1943 R.L.Stine, 75. He’s been called the “Stephen King of children’s literature” and is the author of hundreds of horror novels including works in the Goosebumps, Fear Street Mostly  Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room series. Library of Congress lists four hundred and twenty-three separate entries for him.
  • Born October 8, 1949 Sigourney Weaver, 70. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and  lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre. 
  • Born October 8, 1949 Richard Hescox, 70. An illustrator who between the Seventies and early Nineties painted over one hundred and thirty covers for genre books,and is now working exclusively in the games industry and private commissions. His website is here. Here’s one of his covers. 
  • Born October 8, 1963 David Yates, 56. Director of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows (both films), The Legend Of Tarzan, and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. So who’s seen the latter films? 
  • Born October 8, 1979 Kristanna Loken, 40. She’s best known for her roles in the films Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleBloodRayne and the Painkiller Jane series.
  • Born October 8, 1993 Molly Quinn, 25. I first heard her voicing the dual role of Kara and Supergirl most excellently on Superman Unbound (John Noble voices Brainiac) and I see ventured in the MCU as well as Howard’s Date in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She was also Jenny on the Avalon High film, and she’s contributing to the Welcome to Nightvale story podcast.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range shows how you can improve any tabletop game by adding Godzilla.
  • Frank and Ernest find that the Earth has a sense of wonder.
  • Bizarro shows how a candy bar got its name.

(9) WHAT GREAT EARS YOU HAVE. Kate Pacculia’s “A Gothic Education:  Or, How I Learned To Love The Dark” on CrimeReads is worth reading if only because of its description of “Bunnicula” which sounds like a classic kids’ book.  Most of the books she picks are supernatural.

The gateway text. The classic tale of a vegetable-draining vampire bunny adopted by the unwitting Monroe family and actively dealt with by their housepets, genial dog Harold and megalomaniacal cat Chester—the best feline in literature (fight me)—isn’t very scary, and isn’t trying to be. Harold’s first person narration is an outrageously clever and charming feat of point-of-view that generates real sympathy for the titular monster bun. This was something I absorbed rather than realized at the time: that the beats of a genre are made to be remixed.

(10) TAKING A READING. Paul Weimer hosts the Q&A feature “6 Books With K V Johansen” at Nerds of a Feather.

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?

Re-reading is interesting. Sometimes it’s just a quiet impulse, or you pick up something because you’d like to enjoy that again or remind yourself of it in some way, but sometimes it’s an intense craving. When it’s the latter, it can be a need to escape into something familiar from some stress or worry or heavy weight on you, but often I find that the thing I felt such an urgent desire to re-read turns out to have something in it that resolves some quandary that I’ve been wrestling with in my current work — it’ll be something to do with the narrative approach, or how difficulties in a character are set up, or a way of touching the story, that reminds me of what I need to be doing or sparks off something that solves my problem, shines a bit of moonlight on the path I’ve been stumbling in the dark to find. It’s like some underlayer of my brain knows what’s missing or where I’ve gone wrong in the WiP but doesn’t have any words of its own, so it points me at something that will show it to me. I’ve had that experience with LeCarré and Bujold, though most often it will be Diana Wynne Jones or Cherryh. The thing I most recently had an intense desire to reread was McKillip’s Kingfisher, which I’ve read a couple of times, but this time I bought the audiobook because I felt like I needed to have it read to me. Aside from the sheer enjoyment of the work, which is one of her best, what I’m taking from it on this re-read is a reminder of her lightness of touch, something I’m trying to achieve in my current project.

(11) AO3. Archana Apte sets out reasons “Why This Fanfiction Site’s Prestigious Literary Honor Is a Win for LGBTQ Representation” at Newnownext. Tagline: “Archive of Our Own, a volunteer-run, queer-inclusive fanfiction repository, scored a Hugo Award earlier this year.”

When I was barely in fifth grade, I felt too nerdy, too disabled, too brown, and secretly too queer to be accepted by my white, homophobic town. I escaped this alienation by turning to books. But as much as I loved Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief, and the other novels I flicked through at my town library, I never saw myself in the protagonists, who were mostly white, heterosexual men.

I didn’t realize how deeply this affected me until I got an iPod Touch and stumbled upon fanfiction. Across the internet, fans of particular works were rewriting popular stories however they liked: coffeeshop romances between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, time travel re-do’s of Disney movies, what-if’s about the protagonist from Wicked having twins. I couldn’t be openly queer, but I could read about Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley falling in love.

I soon created accounts on fanfiction sites and talked to authors—many of whom were themselves queer—about the same-sex relationships they wrote about. I slowly accepted the parts of myself that made me feel alienated from my peers, and I carried that newfound self-acceptance throughout my high school years….

(12) RECORD ECLIPSED. “Saturn overtakes Jupiter as planet with most moons” – BBC has the count.

Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the planet with the most moons, according to US researchers.

A team discovered a haul of 20 new moons orbiting the ringed planet, bringing its total to 82; Jupiter, by contrast, has 79 natural satellites.

The moons were discovered using the Subaru telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii.

(13) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BRINE. Yahoo! News tells how “NASA’s Curiosity rover found a weirdly salty ‘ancient oasis’ on Mars”.

“We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars,” William Rapin, of Caltech, the lead author of a study of their findings, published Monday in Nature Geoscience paper said in a statement.

(14) BEYOND POKEMON. “University of Northampton ‘virtual sculptures’ a UK first” – with photos — unfortunately no before/after comparisons.

A “virtual sculpture trail” at a university’s £330m campus is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Visitors to the University of Northampton can use a mobile phone to view 3D sculptures created by students.

The six augmented reality pieces of art around the Waterside campus are visible through an app made by a media agency.

Iain Douglas, from the university, said: “This was a valuable opportunity to bring a real-life collaborative project to the students.”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “James Bond Theme For Boomwhackers (Fall 2014)” was done at Harvard five years ago but it’s still fannish!

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric Wong, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Harold Osler, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner.]

27 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/8/19 Clop, Clop, Clop Went The Pixel. Zing, Zing, Zing Went The Scroll

  1. 6) I love that movie so much that my recently adopted six-month-old kitten was named after Sandra Bullock’s character in Demolition Man.

  2. (3) I have a faint memory that James Peebles was a consultant on Star Trek – googling… (no, darn it – I’m thinking of Sam Peebles, who wrote “Where No Man Has Gone Before”).

  3. 7) R.L. Stine also edited 8 issues of a magazine called Weird Worlds for the Scholastic book club back in the late 70s/early 80s — mostly a mixture of reprint fiction, articles about upcoming movies, and pieces about UFOs, psychic powers., etc. One issue was my first encounter with Lovecraft (a reprint of “The Outsider”); another had Jack Finney’s “The Third Level”, another story that stuck with me for years even though I didn’t really remember what it was or where I’d encountered it.

  4. (7) My favorite Herbert is “The Godmakers”. Interstellar intrigue (and possibly-odd religion).

  5. @2: Listener support for radio seems to be getting more and more fragile, judging by the fraction of air time a local station has spent begging the past ~week.

    @7: Under Pressure wasn’t really my cup of tea — too much paranoia-in-a-closed-space — but I’m still thinking about The Santaroga Barrier, where he took some of the drug ideas glanced at in Dune (IIRC the first genre novel to be even vaguely positive about psychoactive drugs) and ran away with them. And I might want to reread Whipping Star just to find out whether there’s substance behind that weirdness.

    @7bis: I’ll live with that choice for Weaver, especially when she turns against her bimbo role: “This episode was badly made!”

    also also @7: I’ve seen both of the Fantastic Beasts films; neither impressed me for plotting, but there were interesting moments of character here and there.

    @10: Johansen has excellent taste.

    @12: I didn’t catch the typo (“Maunekea”) in the BBC story — will have to ping them for unusual carelessness.

    edit: fifth!

  6. @Chip: The Santaroga Barrier, where he took some of the drug ideas glanced at in Dune (IIRC the first genre novel to be even vaguely positive about psychoactive drugs)

    Not sure if this counts, but The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch came out in the same year as Dune (at least, Dune in novel form), and while the drug that puts you in touch with Palmer is pretty bad news, the earlier drug that it replaces is depicted semi-positively. It’s true that a Can-D trip is kind of a silly experience because you enter the lives of basically Ken and Barbie dolls, and it’s promoted for purely escapist reasons because life on Mars is so crappy, but at least it’s a communal experience that you can share with friends and people genuinely enjoy it.

    And today I learned that you can read Robert Silverberg’s “Drug Themes in Science Fiction” (1974) online! https://www.erowid.org/library/library_bibliography1.pdf …Silverberg cites a 1962 Huxley novel that I haven’t read, Island, as being fairly drug-friendly; also the 1964 short story “Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming” by Doris Pitkin Buck, where there’s a fairly benign drug that lets you imagine you’re a dinosaur.

    Also in 1965, but later than both Dune and Eldritch, there’s “The Peacock King” by Larry McCombs and Ted White, in which LSD gives you the mental resilience you need to survive hyperspace.

    Anyway, I really love The Santaroga Barrier. Besides being one of Herbert’s most tightly-written and elegant shorter novels, it’s an interesting example of reflecting counterculture ideas through a medium of social conservatism to suggest that those are orthogonal to each other: the Santarogans may be constantly tripping balls, but they behave like cheerful small-town conformists and part of what their dive into the collective unconscious helps them achieve is to destroy outsiders. You could read it as a horror story about people losing their free will to a drug-fueled hive mind, or you could say that these people’s refusal to acknowledge their shadow side is what keeps them from exercising free will over it. I like that Herbert doesn’t spell it out.

  7. “Bunnicula” (1979) and its sequels were very funny books; I got it/them for my son when he was a youngster, and he enjoyed reading them or (earlier) having them read to him–gosh, more than a third of a century ago now. I recommend them.

  8. Apropos of nothing for the second day in a row, I watched Yesterday yest…um, last night, and found it charming and touching, with at least two twists I did not expect. I doubt it’ll win a Hugo, but I hope it at least becomes a finalist. Comedy generally gets overlooked at awards time, but I think that’s less true of SF awards than the Oscars.

    I do think I liked the alternate ending slightly better, but not enough to complain.

    (I also found it amusing to hear Ed Sheeran described as John the Baptist, since I’m working on a song that says exactly the same thing of another current musician.)

  9. The exoplanetologist I am married to is pretty pumped about the Mayor/Queloz Nobel Prize.

  10. @Eli: interesting — I shouldn’t be surprised that Silverberg in a paper came up with things the Boskone panel on Dune couldn’t when I raised this point. I’d say Dune is a step beyond the Dick or Buck cites as spice is a positive tool (cf the McCombs/White) rather than just recreation, but that’s a division outside what I originally said. OTOH, ISTM that the point of Santaroga is that the people are not just “cheerful small-town conformists”; like The Coca-Cola Kid decades later (when the proposition was less radical) the initial drive of this sotry is somebody trying to crack open a place that seems impervious to modern marketing. (“The Wizard of Pung’s Corners” runs the same line, but it’s a radically different setting, and played for satire rather than realism.) Note particularly the opening, in which the lead sees that the residents aren’t performing the standard conformism of watching TV — which points to the difference between this and standard horror tropes: here, the town is defending its sanity against the outside, not its ant-like conformity. It’s not a complete inversion, but (in my decades-past recollection) the residents aren’t (e.g.) pod people.

  11. I’m wasn’t aware Spice was a psychoactive drug. Where does Herbert describe it as such? I know the Guild uses it to navigate, and Muad’Dib uses to see the future but there wasn’t a lot of time spent in the novel actually describing what Spice did if my memory serves me right.

  12. @Chip: Maybe conformist is the wrong word, but what I was getting at was that the Santarogans have no obvious countercultural markers – they look like the residents of any other inland northern California town in the late 60s, the only difference being that their conversations have more references to consciousness expansion and science, and their social and cultural institutions are still pretty much the same. That wasn’t unusual for people in Herbert’s own generation who were interested in psychedelics, but it’s very different from the popular imagination of 1968 and I’m sure he was aware of that.

    Also, I don’t think we’re meant to take the “defending their sanity” thing completely at face value. That’s how they see it for sure, but it still manifests as destroying the outsider: if you stay there and you don’t assimilate, you’ll probably end up dead. And I think it’s significant that they can’t consciously acknowledge that they’re doing this, so it’s open to question whether their collective unconscious really understands the kind of rational motive you’re describing, or if it’s only aware that they don’t trust this visitor.

  13. (2) How did I not know about a New York radio show all about SF? I really want to hear this…
    (5) Dale Bailey wrote up a storm in 2018. Fantastic stuff.

  14. I’ve just watched the recreation of Mission To The Unknown a lost episode of Doctor Who from the 9th October, 1965. Basically a university drama department got permission to recreate it with students as actors (fortunately the episode did not feature any of the regular cast) and technical crew so as to learn period techniques.

    It is available on youtube to watch.

  15. Never read Santaroga Barrier but now I will. The ConSentiency books that I have read (Whipping Star and The Dosadi Experiment) are quite odd even though they seem like straightforward SF on the surface. They are both good used purchases, but I would start with Whipping Star first.

  16. @Andrew Leighton
    That was fun. Kudos to the students of Central Lancashire University.

    Like Standback, I also had never heard of The Hour of the Wolf, though it sounds like a great program. I hope it can be saved somehow.

  17. It’s been a long time, but I remember being quite fond of The Santaroga Barrier back in the day, along with Whipping Star and Hellstrom’s Hive. No idea how well any of those would hold up today.

    (12) RECORD ECLIPSED. If you’re willing to count really tiny things as moons, then Saturn was already the big winner, what with all the tiny bits and bobs that make up its rings… 😀

  18. @Cat Eldridge: I would consider giving true visions of both space and time a form of psychoactivity; as I answered Eli, it’s drug-as-tool rather than drug-as-entertainment (both differing from the drug-as-destroyer-of-mind-and/or-body stories that were 99% of the views before Dune).

    @Eli: I see your points about apparently-normal community and reaction to an intruder, but I’m not recalling it being a townwide reaction rather than a few edge individuals (although I suppose you could argue that the edge individuals are merely the visible cutting edge of the subconscious/unacknowledged protective reflex). There’s also the question of whether the reaction is merely excessive rather than outright paranoid, as he does come to Santaroga to make them buy what they wouldn’t from simpler sellers; just as in the other works I cited, the town is shown as being at least as much correct as touchy. I guess I’ll just have to re-read the book. Oh shucky-darn.

  19. If they can downgrade Pluto then I think there’s a case for coming up with a new name for an irregular rock less than 10km across. It’s not what anyone thinks of as a moon.

  20. I remember reading The Dosadi Experiment and being quite confused. I recently looked up the plot description on Wikipedia, and remembered almost none of it. I guess it must have gone over my head. What I do remember, though, was the idea that computer-based democracy was open to corruption. Being a young computer nerd at the time, this flabbergasted me. Now I know better.

  21. @Nick

    That would mean relabeling a lot of satellites, including the shepherd moons of the Saturn rings. And, unless you drew the lines very carefully, Mars’ only two moons. Whether Saturn has 10 moons, 20, or 70 may not matter to people; taking away Phobos and Deimos and leaving Earth as the only terrestrial planet with a satellite feels like a big change.

  22. Nothing’s going to stop Phobos and Deimos being satellites, but are they Moons.

    Still people have to adjust to changes in science. When I was a lad we had nine planets and we had brontosaurus damnit.

    (and yes, I know that we have the brontosaurus back now. But how long are they going to let us keep them?)

  23. @nickpheas: Nothing’s going to stop Phobos and Deimos being satellites, but are they Moons. Donald Wollheim and the Winston Co. thought the public did, and Tempo Books agreed with them.
    Or you could argue that there is just one Moon, and all the others are moons — but I wouldn’t care to get in a scrap with (e.g.) Titan over what it’s called. Absent such a copyediting nitpick, I’d say something that differentiating between “moon” and “[non-artificial] satellite” is a mug’s game.

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