Pixel Scroll 10/8 The Legend of Slatestroke

(1) Just finished Ancillary Mercy tonight. What a cast of characters!

“Ohg, lbh xabj, lbh’er nyy bhg bs svfu fnhpr. Naq V qba’g guvax V’ir rire frra n jne orsber!”

“V’z tbvat gbb,” fnvq Fcurar.

“Rkpryyrag!” ercyvrq Genafyngbe Mrvng. “V’yy tb cnpx.”

(2) The ultra-premium all-access pass to the Salt Lake Comic Con is pricey, but not as much as the cost of getting indicted for trying to scam your way into its VIP area.

A federal grand jury has indicted a Layton man, accusing him of impersonating a federal agent to get VIP access to Salt Lake Comic Con.

The indictment, handed down late Wednesday, accuses Jonathan M. Wall, 29, of pretending to be a Special Agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah said Wall then demanded Salt Lake Comic Con allow him in “under the ruse that he was entering the VIP area to apprehend a wanted fugitive.”

Wall attracted the attention of a retired Salt Lake City police officer who was providing security for the event, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The officer questioned Wall and notified the Air Force, who also came to question him.

Wall is charged in the indictment with impersonation of a federal officer and making a false statement to a federal agent. If convicted, he faces a combined seven years in prison and a potential $250,000 fine for each count. Wall has not been arrested, but a summons will be issued for him to appear in federal court, prosecutors said.

Incidentally, the indictment reveals that the “false statement” he made was lying about asking for ONE pass when he actually asked for TWO!

(3) And to think no one will be indicted for telling the even bigger whopper that there are people who think The Martian is a true story.

(4) It’s a Big Idea, but it’s also a great news story – how did Ctein and bestselling detective novelist John Sandford wind up collaborating on an sf book, Saturn Run?

That Big Idea led to a Big Problem. How the hell do you get a ship to Saturn in under six months, not to mention building it in under two years? No “wantum mechanics” (Greg Benford’s wonderful term for totally-made-up science shit); it’s not much of a hard bolts-and-rivets thriller if people know you’re faking it. It wasn’t an unsolvable problem. John could research it. In his former life he was a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and has written forty or so thrillers, so he knows research. It’d just take several years of his life to get himself fully up to speed, that’s all.

The hitch was, John’s steady gig is turning out two novels (plus change) each year like clockwork. His readers expect it. He can’t take off a couple of years to explore himself as an author. This led to John’s second Big Idea, the crazy one.

Why not write it jointly with his friend, me?

Ctein includes an entertaining version of his phone call when Sandford talked him into collaborating.

Saturn Run cover

(5) Joe Tonelli on Digg advises about “The Best (And Worst) Movies To Watch On Paramount’s New YouTube Channel”.

Trigger Warning: Splash page has a big movie poster image that looks like Dolph Lundgren auditioning for the role of Aatr’s tits….

Mark no-last-name says, “For some reason the reviewer needs no less than 3 choices for worst SF movie. I can’t argue with him about Masters of the Universe though, even at a young age I could tell how badly that movie stank.”

One of the free sf films in the Paramount Vault is Conquest of Space , which is somewhat hideous despite being based on Willy Ley’s classic book with illustrations by Chesley Bonestell.

(6) SF Site News reports artifacts from the collection of Ray Harryhausen will go up for auction on October 17.

Harryhausen was known for his work in stop-motion animation and worked on films such as Clash of the Titans, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and Jason and the Argonauts. Auction items include models, paintings, and cameras, many of the objects autographed by Harryhausen.

There are loads of photos of the items at Dangerous Minds.

(7) Congratulations to Taral Wayne for placing his William Hope Hodgson tribute “The Canaries in the Dark” in the second volume of The Yellow Book from Oldstyle Press. There’s no pay, he says. However, I was one of the people that recommended he try it on a fiction market instead of settling for a fanzine appearance, so I say well done.

(8) In “Stephen Hawking answers July questions on Reddit AMA” we are reminded about a truth we already know – these memories are indelible for the fan, not the celebrity.

He responded to just nine questions, taking time to answer one from a Canadian poster who said he’d seen Hawking in 1995 as a boy at a video rental store in Cambridge, England, where Hawking lives. The poster asked if Hawking remembered watching “Wayne’s World 2” on a store monitor while parked for about 5 minutes next to two kids. He answered simply, “No.”

(9) The “Stunning New Mockingjay Part 2 Poster Comes Loaded With Hidden Secrets”.

Non-book readers might want to look away now while we break down the hidden context of the new one sheet.

According to Wired who debuted the poster yesterday, the image serves a dual purpose as a propaganda poster for the District 13 rebellion in the movie, as well as promoting the IMAX release of the film which is actually coming to the UK a day early on 19 November.

(10) A one-minute video about “Guillermo del Toro’s House of Horrors” accompanies the New York Times article.

The director of fantasy and horror films keeps his collection of books, gory props and mannequins where he can see, and be inspired by, them.

The door swings open and there, surrounded by blood-red walls, is a hellhound with four hooded eyes and gaping fangs. The head of Frankenstein’s monster floats, disembodied and huge, a story above it. Peering at you from the living room, his fingers paging through a book, is the early-20th-century horror novelist H.­P. Lovecraft. On a Victorian sofa, a demented doll stares down a bronze gargantua, Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie.

Welcome to Guillermo del Toro’s imagination.

Bleak House is what Mr. del Toro, the Mexican filmmaker known for the terrifying fantasy of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and American action-horror series like “Hellboy,” christened this pad, which serves as repository and inspiration. He writes there, and when he is in production, a handful of designers work in the repurposed garage. “We draw, draw, draw,” he said, every frame as detailed as animation.

(11) Here’s a candidate for the most expensive toy of the coming Christmas season — Disney’s $120 attempt to make your kid feel like Iron Man.

iron man gauntlet COMPThe starter pack for Disney’s first line of Playmation toys, based on the Avengers, costs $119.99, and requires 12 AA batteries. The main toy is the Iron Man arm gauntlet, but you’ll also get two action figures and electronic bases for them to stand on while they interact with you.

Skeptic John King Tarpinian thinks, “With twelve batteries the kid could not lift his arm.”

(12) And toys for the grown-ups include HP’s Star Wars- inspired laptop and Stream notebooks.

HP has today in Barcelona announced a number of new devices, including the George Lucas-honouring Star Wars inspired Special Edition Notebook.

While we aren’t exactly short of Star Wars products popping up prior to the big movie release, HP does win our “coolest new laptop of the year award” hands down. And only Star Trek fans will probably disagree.

Featuring a “battle worn” finish which is supposed to remind you of how crummy the Death Star is, the Special Edition is also embellished with Aurebesh typeface. Even the touch pad “mirrors the X-Wing Star Fighter Guidance System” while the keyboard features red backlit keys.

(13) There were quite a few Equicons over the years. The first four, 1971-1974, were run by Bjo Trimble in Los Angeles.

Here is some celebrity footage from Equicon in 1974. George Takei, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Gene Roddenberry, Arlene Martel, Mike Farrell, Robert Foxworth, Larry Vincent, D. C. Fontana, Kirk Alyn, David Gerrold, George Clayton Johnson, and Bjo Trimble.

Mike Farrell and Robert Foxworth are in the Equicon assemblage, because they had just starred in the Roddenberry pilot, The Questor Tapes.

The members of S.T.A.R. San Diego ran Equicon 75 at the El Cortez Hotel, with most of the Star Trek cast attending as guests. The “Captain” in the TV ad is now-famous science fiction author Greg Bear.

[Thanks to Dave Doering, Will R., James H. Burns, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

108 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/8 The Legend of Slatestroke

  1. @Stevie: Ken has a passage explicitly discussing the consequences part of assessing the risk of talking to the police. He argues that the extreme end of consequences of talking can be more extreme than the consequences of not talking.

  2. @Mark: Ah, the days when computer game boxes had escalated to gargantuan proportions. They used to shove all sorts of junk in there to justify the size.

    The amazingly large (and mostly empty) boxes were designed to cut down on theft. My local store that sells games now has locked cases for damn near everything game related as someone will try to stealk just about anything related.

    Hell the local Borders in its day was hit by professional game thieves who distracted store staff while one of them opened the locked case and renmpved the most precisely items in there.

  3. And as Jonathan M. Wall, 29, of Layton has decidedly demonstrated, he badly assessed the risk of speaking to the police. They’ve now charged him with lying to them over what might well have been a misstatement.

  4. @Matt,

    I echo Simon.

    I will come to the defense of Masters of the Universe. Frank Langella’s Skeletor makes up for the rest of the movie. If there was ever a case of making something out of nothing, this was it. And I also recall him suggesting one time that he took the part as a gift to his son, which I can respect.

    As for Street Fighter, it’s noted as Raul Julia’s last performance, isn’t it. Jeez, that’s got to keep his spirit restless.

    Silly But True

  5. I may or may not be online this weekend, so I’m just going to leave these cases of Genuine Official Bracket Forehead Cloths here, with an honesty box for payment.

    Don’t forget, the Dice are watching you….

  6. Silly but True on October 9, 2015 at 8:57 am said:

    As for Street Fighter, it’s noted as Raul Julia’s last performance, isn’t it. Jeez, that’s got to keep his spirit restless.

    Similar to Frank Langella, he took Street Fighter because his kids were big fans of the game,

  7. I mean, I suppose an actor can come to something like Masters of the Universe a couple of ways. Hey you got my name, now let me have my check. Or they can realize that A studio ponied up $22m on a project loved by millions of kids and served as the professional livelihood of hundreds or thousands and appreciate the role and have fun with it.

    It’s clear to me Langella’s effort is in that latter category.

    Nice. Did not know that.

    Silly But True

  8. Jim, Ken does indeed; unfortunately, if you use a phrase like ‘negative risks’, as Ken does, then people get more and more confused, and are more likely to end up thinking that they understand the situation when they really don’t.

    What they should be thinking instead is that they need to consult someone who knows what they are doing; again, that can be quite difficult for some people because their egos get in the way.

    At the moment I am involved in a purely civil matter, viz my rights to light, and I have been surprised to learn that quite a few people think they can dispense with a lawyer, even in a horrendously complicated area of the law – and I speak as one who made my living in a completely different horrendously complicated area of the law- which really is baffling.

    Even in 5477, when our gene sets are maximised for realism, our egos need to be kept under control, but it looks as if Mr Wall is going to learn that lesson the hard way…

  9. I quite enjoyed the Masters of the Universe movie, I recall. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but the acting was solid, and there were some surreal moments to Skeletor’s invasion of American suburbia that I liked. By coincidence, I was reading the other day that the producers ran out of money just before the last scenes were shot, explaining the bizarre change of tone in the final fight scene. I can’t recall it now; I may have to look the movie up again.

    On the batteries for the Iron Man glove*, I may be taking hyperbole too seriously, but AA batteries aren’t exactly heavy. Would twelve of them add up to even a pound of weight? It is a lot of batteries, though.

    *Or possibly a vambrace?

  10. Re: 3: Alan Beatts at Borderland Books once said that when he left the theater after seeing The Fellowship of the Ring a woman asked him, “Was that…history?” I guess you can take that as a tribute to Tolkien, and not as an example of how glaringly awful our schools are.

  11. The Pixels that Fall on You from Nowhere
    To Say Nothing of the Pixels
    A Scroll for Ecclesiastes
    The Scrolls of His Face, The Pixels of His Mouth
    The Pixels Who Walk Away from Scrolls

  12. “I swear to Almighty God in His pearly Heaven, if Ancillary Mercy turns out to be written entirely in ROT-13, I am leaving this planet to grow pootatoes with Matt Damon on Mars.”


    Of course, it’s also possible that pushing it back through ROT-N might reveal gender tags. Or hidden dinosaurs (e.g., the dappled steganosaurus).

    Or La Belle Dame Sans Ancillary Merci
    Or perhaps ancillary dinosaurs.

  13. As a He-Man and She-Ra loving kidlet I didn’t dislike the Masters of the Universe film, exactly, but I also didn’t watch it more than a couple of times. Even as a wee thing I could tell it just wasn’t all that good. For comparison, I must have seen The Secret of the Sword, She-Ra’s intro-film, dozens of times and I regret nothing. I think I’ll go and track down the theme music on YouTube…

  14. In the United States today, as soon as you start talking to an on-duty police officer, you are at their mercy. They can arrest you, and even saying “what’s the problem, officer?” can be presented as you obstructing them by not obeying their orders.

    Always ask for a lawyer – its the only thing you can say to them that is protected.

    Yes, it’s fucked up. But what this you say, didn’t I hear about this tea party that is very in favor of Constitutional Rights? Don’t they go purple in the face about government tyranny at the drop of the hat?

    Oddly enough, they are the same people who are most vocally defensive of the police’s ability to shoot you out of hand. Funny that.

  15. @Nigel

    I swear to Almighty God in His pearly Heaven, if Ancillary Mercy turns out to be written entirely in ROT-13, I am leaving this planet to grow pootatoes with Matt Damon on Mars

    As I understand it Ancillary is encoded in ROT-26. As any cryptographic expert will tell you: that makes it AT LEAST twice as secure as ROT-13.

  16. “Also, via Urban Dictionary:
    mashed pootatoes”

    Thanks sooooo much. Now I have that earworm…”la, la, la, doin’ the mashed pootato, la, la, la.”

  17. Masters of the Universe is the best live action Fourth World movie ever made.

    I watched it when it was first released and thought that it was a lot more like a New Gods story then anything with He-Man. And I found out later that that was on purpose.

  18. Well (not yet having read the new book, waiting for my library to let me know my reserve is waiting for me), if things get down to just one remaining ancillary, we could get…

    Little Orphan Ancillary


  19. That’s a great article by Ken; I am even more privileged than he is, since I live in a country where police officers are not routinely armed, and very rarely shoot people. If they do shoot someone there will at least be an investigation, and sometimes more than one if the first one is obviously biased towards the police officers.

    And then they will be acquitted.

  20. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan on October 9, 2015 at 12:58 pm said:
    One Thousand Pixels standing on the wall…

    You dastardly earworm giver you!

    Do your earworms hang low, do they echo to and fro?
    Can you tie minds in knots, can you wrap them all aglow?

  21. Jim Henley on October 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm said:

    At Capclave. Realizing we have intentions for a File 770 meetup but no plan!

    OK, we can science the shit out of this. First, do you, by chance, have a vacuum sealed bag of potatoes?

  22. Another Future in Review ends, this year with Ramez Naam and Cory Doctorow looking back from 2020. A fascinating few days of living in the future.

    As we are currently in 5863, we can bring air gum to these rarified heights in Utah.

  23. I really enjoyed Sorcerer to the Crown although finding a copy of it in 9704 was a bit difficult. The magic and world of fairie were fun. Loved the familiars, humor, and some of the big issues it tackled. It kept me up when I should have been sleeping.

    It was a nice antidote to The Sword of the South which I’m slogging my way through. I reminded my husband no more David Weber unless it’s an ebook which would have saved me from this book. Feels like I’m reading D&D style fantasy just longer. This new spinoff has less rape (yay) than the original series but it’s still very “men go on adventures & fight the big bad”. I’m having a hard time remembering this author writes great women in the Honorverse. If I’d read this side of him first I don’t know if I’d have trusted my husband and read any of the Honor Harrington books which would have been too bad.

  24. Just weighing (heh) in to point out that that Iron Man bracer comes with two action figures with some sort of electronics; figure a pair of AAs for each of them out of the total leaves only eight on the armpiece; 1/3 less weight than folks upthread were worrying about, and like as not quite manageable, even for relatively tiny tykes.

  25. Anna

    Indeed; juries tend to give the benefit of the doubt to police officers. This is all the more reason to stalwartly defend the continuation of our long standing policy that police officers are not armed except in a rare number of cases; if they don’t have guns they can’t shoot us, and they can’t shoot themselves either.

    Of course, in 1508 we don’t have police officers, and guns are in their infancy…

  26. Camestros Felapton: OK, we can science the shit out of this. First, do you, by chance, have a vacuum sealed bag of potatoes?

    Did anyone else notice that rather than divvying up the potatoes by sectioning them into segments which each contained an eye, he just cut them in half? While still ending up with way more plants than (# of potatoes x 2)?

    I’m obviously a geek, because that bugged the hell out of me.

  27. emgrasso:

    Little Orphan Ancillary

    Hey, I like that a lot. In fact, I think it’s about to turn into the title of the Ancillary-Mercy-with-Spoilers thread here.

  28. Dammit, I’m first on my library’s waitlist for this book, but the copies they ordered haven’t arrived yet.

    You’all are going to force me to shell out for the Kindle version just so I can share in all the love, aren’t you???

  29. One of the principal characters in The Sword of the South is a woman, introduced about halfway through the book, and it looks as though she will figure in the following books as well (and I don’t mean Bahzell’s daughter).

    I thought that the book came in as mid-level Weber; it seems to be largely free of the bloat which afflicted not only some of the later HH books but also War Maid’s Choice.

  30. Having been way too old to care when “He-Man” came on, I was able to enjoy the MOTU movie as a WTF campy classic, particularly Langella’s scenery-chewing.

    Wondering whether to mention either to the folks here in 8009.

  31. @BethZ: And I pick – tomorrow! 🙂

    I was actually in the bar for quite awhile but missed your note, and now I’m home. The bar constituted a very micro File 770 meetup, though, since it was me and Michael J. Walsh. You and Aaron can tweet me (@UOJim), or I’m sure Mike Walsh would let us coordinate things through his dealer’s table. I did look at the physical message board but it seemed configured almost exclusively for party announcements.

    I did go to two panels, Utopias/Dystopias and Writing Across Genres. The Utopias/Dystopias panel had a genuine OH WHITE PEOPLE NO! moment that had a number of us literally crying aloud. But on both panels, Sunny Moraine made some great contributions.

  32. “Is this a true story?”

    I once got into a much-longer-than-I-expected discussion with a coworker who insisted the character played by Nathan Fillion on CASTLE was based on a real person. “No, Richard Castle is a actual person. He writes all those Nikki Heat books. You can find them in the bookstore if you don’t believe me.”

  33. @JJ: Yes! I think I’m going to have to skip Michael Dirda’s workshop on reviewing because of this stupid cold, which is sad because it’s like missing a free-throw camp taught by Tim Duncan.

    Funny File 770-related moment. I attended a panel with David Walton, and couldn’t remember if his book Superposition was one people here hated or loved. Or split on.

  34. Jim Henley: I attended a panel with David Walton, and couldn’t remember if his book Superposition was one people here hated or loved. Or split on.

    Auuuuggghhhh! I first read that as “spit on”. 😯

    I recall someone the other day saying that they couldn’t finish it. I’ve got Superposition and Supersymmetry sitting here from the library, but the 2015 Hugo Longlist Novellas which I hadn’t yet read have been taking priority, and Jemisin’s Sixth Season will likely come first as well.

  35. I’m at Capclave this weekend myself. Should be around all day tomorrow, although as a filthy Luddite I’ll probably not be easily reachable by net. I suppose I’ll keep an eye out for familiar names on badges.

  36. Got the concluding Ancillary book yet am feeling like I need to reread the first two to appreciate it fully. Working to slot them in among the nonfiction reading and the non-genre palate-cleansing reading. (Lately been on a Margery Allingham kick, starting from Mystery Mile and currently up to Flowers for the Judge. There are some moments that clang horribly to a modern perspective, and it’s interesting to try to interpret certain character descriptions in terms of “how would this behavior be interpreted in 2015?”)

  37. Lately been on a Margery Allingham kick

    Hers are interesting in having women who are definitely not appendages for the men.

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