Pixel Scroll 11/14/21 Tension, Apprehension, And Pixellation Have Begun

(1) PLEASE STAND BY. File 770 was repeatedly offline for hours today. According to my ISP’s customer support, their outage report said “that the host machine the VPS is on became unresponsive and needed to be restarted.” That fix took effect about midday locally.

However, my home internet service always craps out several times a day, so it’s been a challenge to have access to download material for the Scroll when I could also edit things on the blog. Today’s Scroll, therefore, is a bit shorter than it would be if that time could have been used productively.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled pixels.  

(2) THE DAYS DWINDLE DOWN TO A PRECIOUS FEW. DisCon III asks: Have you made your choices for the 2021 Hugo Awards? There’s still time!

The deadline for voting for the Hugo Awards is November 19, 2021, 23:59 Pacific Standard Time (November 20th at 02:59 Eastern Standard Time, 07:59 Greenwich Mean Time, and 20:59 New Zealand Daylight Time).

You must be a member to vote. Vote online at members.discon3.org or use a paper ballot (but note that paper ballots must be received by DisCon III no later than the voting deadline.)

(3) A TRANS-ATLANTIC PHONE CALL, HURRAH! Bill Burns anticipates he’ll be an on-air expert commentator in the “Cable Across the Sea” episode of the new (USA) History Channel series “The Engineering That Built the World”. He says, “I did a three-hour video studio interview with the production team a couple of months ago.”

The episode is on Cyrus Field and the first Atlantic cables, and the producers also used material from Bill’s website History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy.

(4) STAND BY TO LAUNCH. Cat Rambo’s book You Sexy Thing comes out from Tor Macmillan on November 16. The elevator pitch is “Farscape meets the Great British Bake-off.”

It’s the story of a band of former mercenaries who’ve opened a restaurant on a space station and are doing well, so well that a critic may be about to bestow a coveted Nikkelin Orb on the restaurant.Then a mysterious package arrives, things start exploding, and they have to steal a ship to escape. But that ship’s intelligent, and it’s not so sure it wants to be stolen.

Pre-orders can be taken any number of places, including Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Audible.

There’s plenty of places to leave reviews, and if you do it on GoodReads, you can enter the giveaway for a special copy with an enamel pin here.

There are a lot of online events where you can catch up with Cat Rambo this week:

Cat will also be appearing live at Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle and Writers with Drinks in San Francisco in December.

(5) UNIONIZING AMONG BOOKSTORE EMPLOYEES. “Pandemic sparks union activity where it was rare: Bookstores” – the Brooklyn Eagle has the story.

Britta Larson, a shift leader at Half Price Books in Roseville, Minnesota, has been with the store for nearly 12 years but only recently thought about whether she wanted to join a union.

“With the pandemic going on, we all were just weary of the constant dismissals we got when we raised concerns about staffing and workload to upper management,” said Larson, noting that the staff had been reduced when the store shut down for a time and was “stretched extremely thin” once it opened again.

“Before the pandemic, I’d say we would have kind of just thought ‘Things aren’t great’ because it was all we had ever known. The pandemic forced us to do some things differently and we learned from that.”

…“I think COVID-19 was a rude awakening for bookstore workers, and really anyone who works with the public,” says Owen Hill, a buyer at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, which unionized earlier this year. “We were given no say regarding safe working conditions, even though we were risking our health by showing up for work. We had to organize in order to be a part of the conversation around worker safety.”…

(6) MAYER OBIT. Petra Mayer, a books editor on NPR’s Culture desk, died unexpectedly November 13 in a Maryland hospital. She was a fan of sf and comics, and not shy about letting her love of the genres into her work.  NPR’s obituary makes that clear – here are a few quotes.

…Mayer was a proud nerd with a penchant for science fiction, comics and cats, said fellow books editor Meghan Sullivan.

She shared those passions with readers and listeners through her reviews of sci-fi, fantasy, romance, thrillers and comics, her trusty on-the-scene reporting at Comic-Con, and her contributions to the Book Concierge, NPR’s annual literary-recommendation tool. She brought her zeal to the guest chair on occasional Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast episodes.

Prior to joining the NPR Books team in 2012, she was an associate producer and director for All Things Considered on weekends, and also spent time as a production assistant for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday.

…”She was the best and rarest species of nerd, whose enthusiasm was eager and sincere and open and inviting,” tweeted Glen Weldon, an NPR culture critic and a host of the network’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. “She wanted you to love the stuff she loved, and supplied you hard incontrovertible evidence to support her thesis.”Mayer traced her nerd-dom back to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, which she happened to read in 1984 when she was 9 years old.

“My dad handed me his old college copy of the book and said, ‘Here, I think you’re ready to read this,’ ” she said in a 2018 “Faces of NPR” interview. “I was hooked, and started reading all the dystopia I could get my hands on, and the rest is history.”…

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years ago, the Fahrenheit 451 film premiered. Based on Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 novel that has since picked a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, it was directed by directed by François Truffaut. The screenplay by Jean-Louis Richard off a story that he wrote with the director. It starred Julie Christie, Anton Diffring, Oskar Werner, and Cyril Cusack. It was produced by Lewis M. Allen who was has previously done The Lord of The Flies. Though critics at the time really, really didn’t like with some claiming that Julie Christie couldn’t act and Truffaut couldn’t direct, Bradbury liked the film mostly and time has shown that both later critics and audiences like it. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather good seventy-two percent rating. It wasn’t a box office success making only a million dollars combined in the United States and France against its very small one point five million budget. A reboot was made three years ago, which gets a twenty-three percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 14, 1907 Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i LönnebergaKarlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s 18th most translated author, and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.  There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter was an animated series in Japan recently.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 14, 1950 Elliot S. Maggin, 71. A writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics where he helped shaped the Superman character. Most of his work was on Action Comics and Superman titlesthough he did extensive work elsewhere including, of course, on the Batman titles.
  • Born November 14, 1951 Beth Meacham, 70. In 1984, she became an editor for Tor Books, where she rose to the position of editor-in-chief. After her 1989 move to the west coast, she continued working for Tor as an executive editor which she just retired from.  She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction.  At L.A. Con II, A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy that she co-wrote wrote Michael Franklin and Baird Searles was nominated for a Hugo. And she was nominated on her own for a number of Hugos for Best Editor Long Form.
  • Born November 14, 1959 Paul McGann, 62. Yes, he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television film but that role he has reprised in more than eighty Big Finish audio dramas and the 2013 short film entitled “The Night of the Doctor”. Other genre appearances include The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in TortureAlien 3, the excellent FairyTale: A True StoryQueen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers
  • Born November 14, 1961 D. B. Sweeney, 60. Actor who’s been lead cast in two genre series, neither of which lasted very long. The first was as Chance Harper in Strange Luck that lasted but seventeen episodes; the second was as Mike Pinocchio in Harsh Realm that last an even briefer nine episodes. He also had roles in Tales from The CryptThe Outer LimitsJerichoLeverage and The Legend of Korra.
  • Born November 14, 1963 Cat Rambo, 58. All around great person. Really. Recently finished up a term as SFWA President.  She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional nomination. A story of hers, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain”, was a Nebula Award finalist.  Her first novel, Beasts of Tabat, is the beginning of what I suspect will be an impressive fantasy quartet. Hearts Of Tabat came this year.  She also writes amazing short fiction as well.  The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is her long-standing school for writers that provides her excellent assistance in learning proper writing skills both live and on demand as well. You can get details here.  Her latest, You Sexy Thing, is just out, and I’m looking forward to listening to it starting in a few days! 
  • Born November 14, 1969 Daniel Abraham, 53. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which won a Hugo at CoNZealand. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series.  Abraham collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. A frequent collaborator of Martin, Abraham adapted several of Martin’s works into comic books and graphic novels, such as A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, and has contributed to Wild Cards anthologies. By himself, he picked up a Hugo nomination at Denvention 3 for his “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” novelette. 
  • Born November 14, 1976 Christopher Demetral, 45. He played the title character on the oh so excellent The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne series which still isn’t on DVD or streaming services, damn it. (Ok, oh ahead and contradict me please. I’d be delighted). He shows up in the “Future Imperfect” episode of Next Gen, and had the recurring role of Jack on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

(9) TEA & TENTACLES. In Sunset Distortion: The Pyramid At The End Of The World by Paul Bahou uses his rock band experience to craft an intergalactic adventure.

Lazer is an almost made it, middle-aged guitarist who plays in an 80’s hard rock cover band at a Sunset Strip dive bar. While not quite a rock star, he plays to a packed house nightly. His blissful inertia is disrupted one night however when he is abducted by aliens and given a strange imprint on his hand: A key which will send him on an intergalactic journey in search of an artifact that gives its possessor “infinite life.” With the help of his new friend Streek, a timid floating octopus-creature with an English accent, Lazer will have to survive encounters with monsters, robots, alien pirates, inter-dimensional brain leeches and much more. Will Lazer get back home? What does ‘infinite life’ actually mean? And why does everybody in space speak English? All answers await at the pyramid at the end of the world.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

(10) YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. Here’s an excerpt from Frequently Asked Questions about the Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson discussing “Why we can’t ‘beam ourselves up’ Star Trek-style” from Yahoo!

…Information has to travel through space just like everything else, and the fastest anything can travel in this universe is the speed of light. Really, the speed of light should have been called the “speed of information” or “the universe’s speed limit.” It’s baked into relativity and the very idea of cause and effect, which are at the heart of physics.

Even gravity can’t move faster than light. The Earth doesn’t feel gravity from where the Sun is right now; it feels gravity from where the Sun was eight minutes ago. That’s how long it takes information to travel the ninety-three million miles between here and there. If the Sun disappeared (teleporting off for its own vacation), the Earth would continue in its normal orbit for eight minutes before realizing that the Sun was gone.

So the idea that you can disappear in one place and reappear in another place instantly is pretty much out of the question. Something has to happen in between, and that something can’t move faster than light.

Fortunately, most of us aren’t such sticklers when it comes to the definition of “teleportation.” Most of us will take “almost instantly” or “in the blink of an eye” or even “as fast as the laws of physics will allow” for our teleportation needs. If that’s the case, then there are two options for making a teleportation machine work…

(11) TWO SINGLES, ONE HOMER. That’s how John A Arkansawyer scored this week’s Saturday Night Live. Click through to see History Channel parody “March of the Suitors” or faux Syfy show “Strange Kid Tales” (I kind of like that one). Or watch John’s fave here —

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John A Arkansawyer, Jim Meadows III, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

20 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/14/21 Tension, Apprehension, And Pixellation Have Begun

  1. (11) TWO SINGLES, ONE HOMER.

    Chloe Fineman does a great impersonation of Miranda Richardson impersonating Queen Elizabeth I in “March of the Suitors”.

  2. Sexy Young Thing is also out on Audible on the same day that is published which is unusual as there’s usually some lag between the time that a novel is published and when the audio version comes out.

  3. Juan Sanmiguel says His credit in the comics was Elliot S! Maggin. There is an explanation of this in his wiki entry.

    The exclamation mark sometimes showed up in the comics but not always. I couldn’t establish that he always used it so I went with just the S. And no, I don’t trust wiki to be absolutely authoritative.

  4. 8) Paul McGann. As it happens, we just watched FairyTale: A True Story last night (for the first time). We enjoyed it a lot more than we expected to. Ann wanted to know where we’d seen McGann before. Well, we never saw his Doctor Who, but we did recently see Withnail and I, in which he played I.

    FairyTale: A True Story is about the Cottingley Fairy photographs that Conan Doyle believed were real. I looked at the pictures afterwards, and I am amazed that they fooled anybody. A more innocent time…

  5. Jeff Smith: “A more innocent time.” Reminds me that decades ago I read the autobiography of a Canadian lawman of the late 19th century. He would find stuff out just by going out to talk to rural people and asking questions. And they’d tell him. A very different culture.

  6. There was no exclamation point on the book cover where I first saw Maggin’s name: Superman: Last Son of Krypton, published as a mass-market paperback in 1978 in lieu of a movie novelization. The cover is pictured at the novel’s Wikipedia entry. (As I noted about a year ago, anyone familiar with Brandeis University at the time would be amused by certain in-jokes.)

  7. 4
    This sounds delightful!

    5
    I’m not surprised. I worked for HPB for many years, and it was not the same culture at the end of my tenure as at the beginning. Good luck to them!

    8
    Daniel Abraham made an immediate impression on me with his early short fiction. My fave–probably–The Buddha Box.

    10
    Those are some adorable little dinos. I love that so many of us render such fearsome beasts into cuddle buddies. We just want to be everyone’s friend, like baby shark.

    11
    The robot comedian was pretty good. He had a tough act to follow.

  8. I was this week old when I learned that Carol Burnett occasionally did a science fiction sketch on her program

    (be sure to stick around to the end).

  9. To add to the Petra Mayer obit: She was also supposed to be the Special Guest at this year’s Balticon before it was overcome by events. I met her once, when my son, Dave Chalker, organized a river tubing trip down the Shenandoah near Harper’s Ferry. She was a delightful companion on that day, and I am so sorry she is gone. I am also sorry for her housemate, Josh’s, loss. I know him a bit better and it must have been a fun place to live with the two of them there.

  10. Two questions: Did anyone make a fanfilm with Wallace Shawn called “My Dinner with Andre’ the Giant”? 2nd question: Why not?

  11. @Andrew (not Werdna)
    “2nd question: Why not?”

    Possibly because the 1983 film “My Breakfast with Blassie” (starring Andy Kaufman and pro-wrestler Classy Freddy Blassie) sucked all the wind out of any continuing movement to parody or otherwise pay homage to “My Dinner with Andre”?

  12. Melanie Stormm says Adding You Sexy Thing to my cart because I must read this. Cah-lick!

    It’s the one of Best Things that I’ve read this year. It certainly is going to make my long list for Hugo nominations. Now of course Ten Little Fen is also likely to make my nomination list as well if only for the setting as Con based novels just aren’t that commonplace.

  13. I put it in my cart the other day. It’s quite a ride! (And there are hints of more to come)

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