Pixel Scroll 11/23/16 A Pixel On All Your Houses

(1) COVER GIRL. Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff continues her critique of the clothing (or lack of it) depicted on sff book covers in “There’s a Bimbo on the Cover, Verse 2: The Bimbo Wears Black Leather” at Book View Café.

I may be outvoted, but so far the winner of the award for Wardrobe Malfunction is the Dutch cover of Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake (Droomslang in Dutch). Vonda assures me that she has no problem with full frontal nudity. She does, however, have a problem with full frontal nudity that is nowhere in the book.

(2) ELLISON KICKSTARTER. Jason Davis, needing to squeeze out another $17,000 to reach the Harlan Ellison Book Preservation Kickstarter’s $100,000 goal, sent an e-mail to his list reminding them about the donor perks. This one’s my favorite —

$300 — A Piece of the Puzzle, signed by Harlan: In the earliest days of HarlanEllisonBooks.com, Harlan entrusted to me an unusual item: a book of New York Times crossword puzzles. All the puzzles were completed between 2010 and 2011, and Harlan had signed and dated each page.

(3) HINES CONTINUES CHARITY AUCTION. Jim C. Hines fundraiser for Transgender Michigan is in its second day, auctioning a Tuckerization and Autographed ARC from A. M. (Alyx) Dellamonica.

Full details and bidding instructions at the site.

(4) BRANDON SANDERSON’S BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE. Tachyon Publications knows where you can find Brandon Sanderson on the road, from Seattle to Hoboken.

(5) THE SOUND AND THE FURY. The print edition is on the way for a novella that, unusually, was first offered as an audiobook: “Subterranean Press Announces Print Edition of John Scalzi’s The Dispatcher (Tor.com).

As promised, John Scalzi’s new novella The Dispatcheroriginally released as an audiobook from Audible, will also be available in print. Subterranean Press announced today that it will publish The Dispatcher in May 2017, in both trade hardcover edition as well as a limited signed hardcover edition.

Subterranean Press shared the cover, by Vincent Chong, who also handled interior illustrations. The trade edition is a fully cloth bound hardcover edition; 400 limited-edition versions are signed numbered hardcover copies, bound in leather.

(6) KOWAL’S LADY ASTRONAUT PROGRAM. Tor.com also brings word of a “New ‘Lady Astronaut of Mars’ Book Series Coming, Based on Hugo-Winning Novelette”.

Tor Books is happy to announce that author Mary Robinette Kowal will build on the universe of her Hugo Award-winning novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” with two new books coming in 2018!

From Kowal: “I jokingly call the Lady Astronaut universe ‘punchcard punk’ because it’s rooted in the 1950s and 60s. It’s a chance to re-imagine the science-fiction of Ray Bradbury and Cordwainer Smith, where all of the science was very physical and practical.”

The novels will be prequels, greatly expanding upon the world that was first revealed in “Lady Astronaut”. The first novel, The Calculating Stars will present one perspective of the prequel story, followed closely by the second novel The Fated Sky, which will present an opposite perspective; one tightly woven into the first novel.

(7) THORNTON OBIT. From The Hollywood Reporter: “Ron Thornton, Emmy-Winning Visual Effects Guru on ‘Babylon 5,’ Dies at 59”:

Ron Thornton, an Emmy-winning visual effects designer, supervisor and producer who worked on such shows as Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Voyager, has died. He was 59.

Thornton, often credited with bringing the power of CGI to television visual effects, died Monday at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., after a short battle with liver disease, his friend, veteran VFX supervisor Emile Smith, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Thornton received his Emmy for the 1993 telefilm Babylon 5: The Gathering (the pilot for the series) and also was nominated for his work on episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and on the 2002 telefilm Superfire.


  • Born November 23, 1887 – Boris Karloff

(9) THANKSGIVING DAY TV MARATHONS. The Los Angeles Times says “’Mystery Science Theater 3000′ returns with new blood for the Turkey Day marathon”:

Twenty-eight years ago the little science fiction show that could, “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” premiered on Thanksgiving Day. It all started with one Earthling, series creator Joel Hodgson, and his gang of lovable robot puppets. Together they drifted through space in the “Satellite of Love,”…

In Los Angeles, we also have KTLA’s annual 18-episode marathon of Rod Serling’s classic anthology series “The Twilight Zone.” 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

RETRO MARATHON MAN. This will be the first Thanksgiving since File 770 contributor James H. Burns passed away. If he were still with us I know he’d have come up with a brand new way for me to point to his trilogy of articles at The Thunder Child about the era when a New York City TV station persuaded whole families to park in front of the set on Thanksgiving and watch King Kong for the zillionth time.

King Kong in the City: A Thanksgiving Tradition: Burns tells about his father’s affinity for the famous ape movie, and his personal memory of discovering the film on Saturday morning TV in the Sixties. The station was New York’s channel 9 (the former WOR-TV) and in the next decade it broadcast the movie every Thanksgiving, before long adding the sequel, Son of Kong, and 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, another stop-motion animation picture from Kong’s creators. The annual tradition lasted until 1985.

Chris Steinbrunner: A Renaissance of Fantasy: Chris Steinbrunner, an executive with WOR-TV, is according to Burns “one of the great unsung heroes of fandom, who helped run many of his era’s conventions, was an Edgar-award winning author, wrote one of the very first books on science fiction and fantasy movies, published many books (with Centaur Press)… and produced what may well be a lost 007 special!…”  Burns says, “My old pal was a pretty neat guy, and a while ago, I was stunned that save for a short Wikipedia entry, there was virtually none of Chris’ history on the web.” Articles like this surely will keep him from being forgotten.

One of the great times Chris and I were together came early one morning in 1983 when we ran into each other high atop the Empire State Building, gathered on the Observation Deck for a special press party commemorating King Kong’s fiftieth anniversary. With the men in suits and the ladies elegantly attired, champagne was poured as we looked towards the bi-planes in the distance, booked especially for the event, that buzzed as though in a dream, above the shores of Manhattan.

When someone asked Chris about Kong Thursdays, he replied, as he almost always did, with a quick pause, a sudden smile, and said:  “King Kong on Thanksgiving…? Whoever would have thought of such an odd idea?”

Meanwhile, At the Empire State Building: The third installment is about the Empire State Building and Fay Wray.

(10) BANG BANG. Jonathan McCalmont of Ruthless Culture delivers two cheap shots for the price of one tweet.

(11) A BEASTLY MOVIE. Book View Café’s Steven Harper Piziks has seen it – “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–An Extensive Review” (beware spoilers).

Is there good stuff?  Sure.  It’s fun to see the Harry Potter world in 1920s America.  The movie focuses on magical animals instead of spells and potions, a potentially fun new area to explore.  The effects are lovely.  Dan Fogler as Mr. Kowalski is a delight as the stand-in for the audience as he’s accidentally thrust into a wizardling world he can barely understand but gamely does his best to master.


The movie has serious pacing problems.  Things take forever to get moving in the beginning. We  spend too much time dealing with unimportant issues, like the annoying niffler’s thieving and the preparation of food in a witch’s kitchen, and not enough time on actual plot points, like what the villain wants and how he intends to get it.  The latter is annoyingly muddled and confused.  Less time on special-effects creatures and more time on human character development would have been a better scripting choice.

(12) EVERYBODY NEEDS A HOBBY. “Mr. Night Has The Day Off,” on Vimeo, is a charming cartoon from Lithuania about what happens when Night wanders around during his day off and zaps things (cars, clothes) black.

(13) THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT. Is there anyplace where the grapes have more wrath than Westeros? Now you can buy Game of Thrones wine, albeit at Lannister prices.

Vintage Wine Estates announced that they’ve partnered with HBO to release three different officially licensed Game of Thrones wines—a Chardonnay (suggested retail $19.99), a Red Blend (suggested retail $19.99) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (suggested retail $39.99). We haven’t heard Tyrion mention a preferred varietal, but based on his wine habit it seems safe to assume he’d back all of these.



(14) THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS GIFT PAST. A computer that can fit in your pocket – if you’re Captain Kangaroo – and at such a reasonable price! Of course, that’s back when $169.95 really was worth $169.95…


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

98 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/23/16 A Pixel On All Your Houses

  1. (10) BANG BANG. – Sigh. In order to not normalise fascism, how about not frickin’ using it as shorthand for Stuff That I Do Not Like?

    ETA: Also, First!

  2. 10) I didn’t know he was tweeting again and then noticed he preemptively blocked me. Guess he’s still sulking about that argument we had ten years ago.

  3. @7 – It is sad to Ron Thornton passed away. Babylon 5 had amazing special effects. Some of the Buffy effects were also wonderful. Babylon 5 and Buffy were the last shows that ran multiple seasons that I watched all of the episodes when they came out.

    He also worked on Commando – which is one of the best comedy films of the 1980s.

    He was relatively young (59). But you never know how many days you have. A little more than a year ago I almost died from heart blockage, but modern medicine makes that (often) easily correctable.

    May God have mercy on his soul.

  4. airboy: May God have mercy on his soul.

    Isn’t this something you say when a horrible person has died? It sounds to me as though he was a decent guy. I don’t know why he would be in need of mercy.

  5. JJ: I don’t know why he would be in need of mercy.

    You talk like airboy cursed the guy instead of blessing him.

  6. RIP Ron Thornton. What an amazing fellow. However, we are probably not related (though I did own an Amiga at one point).


  7. (10) I’m making a grrr noises and rolling my eyes at the same time.

    I don’t know if making sense of the Sads versus the Rabids is helping anybody else make sense of the events of 2016 in non-Hugo, non-actually-fictional-dystopias news, but it certainly helped me. If anything this coverage of what in the grand scheme of things was a minor fuss in one corner of literary genre helped show how relatively mainstream conservatives and libertarians could be exploited in a culture war by a different set of people who actually hate conservatism and libertarianism and who are actually fascists.

  8. Mike Glyer on November 23, 2016 at 8:35 pm said:

    JJ: I don’t know why he would be in need of mercy.

    You talk like airboy cursed the guy instead of blessing him.

    I think I associate the phrase with a scary judge uttering a death sentence – hence it did look odd. But you are quite right obviously – it is literally a blessing.

  9. Yes, a blessing. And taken together with the rest of airboy’s post, clearly intended as one, despite the fact that that particular blessing is often used in a context that makes it sound odd here. Sometimes we just over-analyze things.

  10. Camestros Felapton: I think I associate the phrase with a scary judge uttering a death sentence

    True. But I figured if airboy had been using it in the Hollywood way, he wouldn’t have preceded it with a paragraph about his own mortality.

  11. @Mike Glyer – You talk like airboy cursed the guy instead of blessing him.

    Er, maybe because it’s not just in Hollywood that scary judges say things like that. It’s the traditional outro after a death sentence is pronounced.

    Also, @airboy, I’m glad your medical issue resolved so well.

  12. Cheryl S: Er, maybe because it’s not just in Hollywood that scary judges say things like that. It’s the traditional outro after a death sentence is pronounced.

    I have seen the line delivered in movies and tv episodes — has anybody has ever seen documentary footage of a judge actually saying this in court? I think people’s impression is entirely formed by Hollywood in this case.

  13. Mike Glyer: You talk like airboy cursed the guy instead of blessing him.

    Pretty much the only time I have ever heard this phrase used was when someone horrible had died, or as Cheryl S. says, someone horrible had been condemned to prison or death.

    I had a protestant upbringing, and I don’t recall this ever being said as a blessing at a funeral or about someone who had died (unless they had been a horrible person).

  14. @Mike Glyer, it’s been a lot of years, but memory says a book of transcripts from famous British murder trials is where I first encountered the phrase. I also just checked Wikipedia. The article (which I won’t bother linking, because no matter how good it looks, the link won’t work) on the phrase says it originated in the beit din of ancient Israel and eventually showed up in English courts.

  15. Cheryl S: That’s okay, I read that same article a little while ago. 😉 It’s still up in the air how often real-life judges say that phrase as an “eff you” or a prayer. (The Wiki article mentions an early history of it being a type of prayer, though the closer you get to the present the more likely it is to be a formality.)

  16. (1) COVER GIRL

    Good Show Sir (covered here before) featured another classic of the “where’d her top go?” genre of book covers yesterday.

    (10) BANG BANG

    Sigh. I’ve read a fair amount of McCalmont either from Interzone or on his blog, and he’s capable of good points and clever analysis, but he seems to have this urge to project himself as some sort of SFNal enfant terrible but he just comes off as SF’s Jeremy Clarkson instead. For example, he recently did a mini-review of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet in his Interzone column where he had some interesting* points to make, but felt the need to dial the whole thing up to 11 and use it to put the boot in to capitalism, the middle class, and a couple of other convenient targets.

    (*interesting in the “don’t necessarily agree but find the argument interesting to follow” sense)

    RETRO MARATHON MAN is missing a number. Appertaining myself something from (13)….

  17. (1) COVER GIRL: thanks for this; I enjoyed it very much. I remember that Whelan’s covers for Cherryh’s Faded Sun books showed the women in gauze: not too practical for a desert. And the cover of the first Morgaine book I bought (that was a long time ago) had her in a steel bikini and Vanye in a bearskin jockstrap: neither terribly comfortable for riding.

    (10) BANG BANG – Que?

    @ airboy – glad you’re still here!

    @ all USians – have a happy Thanksgiving!

  18. (6) Looking forward to seeing other short works getting expanded treatments.

    A Swirsky/Tingle trilogy about Dinosaurs & love?

    Kevin Costner starring in a blockbuster adaptation of The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere?

  19. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Filers!

    14) That ad was of that moment when science fiction writers of a certain generation were breaking into wider consciousness. It reminds me of the Arthur C Clarke tv ads for Omni magazine, and the mentions of SF authors en passant during V.

    Speaking of V, I think *that* is on my rewatch list, given current events. Not the second miniseries or the short lived series, just the original.

  20. I tried rewatching V a while back, since it scared the bejesus out of me when it first aired (to be fair, I was 7). It did not quite live up to my expectations.

    However, it’s always good to be prepared when the Lizard People get into power.

  21. Why did Radio Shack have to use the model number TRS-80 on so many completely unrelated products? Made it really annoying to track down the year of the featured ad. (Byte, February 1982.)

    Adjusted for inflation, that $169.95 is $425.72 in 2016 dollars. Add in the $79.95 cassette recorder and $127.95 printer with cassette recorder interface, and you are at $946.50 (both figures from here.) The desktop model he advertised here comes out to $6,730, and the version that the same page mentions that they loaned him comes out to $8,764.

  22. Babylon 5 had amazing special effects.

    Does that still stand, or is it subject to the suck fairy? Because one of my main visual impressions of Babylon 5 is how incredibly fake the CGI space station looked. (As for actually watching the series, I bailed after the first episode after seeing that it featured an entire species of Grampa Munster.)

  23. On a good day, I thought, the visuals on Babylon 5 looked like a Chris Foss cover come to life. (Which I persist in thinking is a good thing.)

    Of course, they still looked fake. The CGI at the time wasn’t really good enough to make the alien spaceships full of lizard people look realistic. If that’s what you want in alien spaceships full of lizard people (it’s maybe not as high on my list of priorities as it should be.)

    On the whole, I rather like Babylon 5. It had ambition… it might well have wound up biting off more than it could chew, both effects-wise and story-wise, but it certainly had ambition.

  24. I’m Catholic. It is common to ask God to have mercy on the soul of the departed. Among others, I pray for the souls of my parents every week.

    Catholics believe we are all sinners and all of us need divine mercy after our deaths.

  25. As a Catholic I have to back airboy up here–he is correct on this point of Catholic doctrine. I pray for my deceased relatives every time I attend Mass.

  26. happily the faster obsolescence has diminished.

    Not really anything to be happy about. It means that the pace of technological improvement in processing power, memory, and storage is slowing to a crawl as hard physical limits are met. (Making a mockery, BTW, of SF fears of runaway superhuman AI.)

  27. @airboy, @Nancy Sauer:

    Thanks for the clarification. I read airboy’s post, and it hit me like a ton of bricks that the beginning of every Catholic mass I’ve sung has been the Kyrie. Lord, have mercy/Christ, have mercy/Lord, have mercy.

    I’ve interpreted this passage as “Lord, have mercy upon me at the hour of my death,” as the requiem masses begin differently. Is this generally interpreted as a prayer for deceased loved ones?

  28. (1) I remember when Baen started printing P C Hodgell’s Kencyrath books – and got Clyde Caldwell to do the covers. Jame, the heroine, is described as flat-chested. The bimbo on the cover was rather obviously not.

    Credit to Baen for bringing the series back into print, but their choice of cover artist was less than ideal..

  29. @ Darren: You might want to go back and take another look. Like many series, it took a while to really find its momentum; I suggest starting with the second-season episode “The Coming of Shadows” and then working your way forward from there (and back as necessary). By that time the characters were all well-established, and that particular episode wraps up a couple of story lines and sets up several more, while still having surprisingly little in it that needs back-story information to grasp.

    And then there’s the two-minute recap

  30. As a somewhat lapsed Catholic, ‘Ah sure God have mercy on their soul’ would have been a common refrain particularly amongst the older generations.
    There. Now you’ve been Godsplained.

  31. BravoLimaPoppa: Please forgive me for not googling, but who is McAlmont and why should we care?

    McCalmont is a self-appointed cultural gatekeeper who tells people I am courting Vox Day and supporting fascism by linking to the Mad Genius Club.

    But unlike McCalmont, a lot of readers want to be aware of what’s actually happening in this field.

  32. @Dawn
    “I’ve interpreted this passage as “Lord, have mercy upon me at the hour of my death,” as the requiem masses begin differently. Is this generally interpreted as a prayer for deceased loved ones?”

    My understanding that when you die your choices end. This includes the choice to do good or evil, and to repent of your sins or not. I’ve read that it is “possible” that nobody is in hell forever. That at the moment of their death everyone could repent. Of course, Catholics believe that if you were really evil that you could spend a long time in purgatory having your soul purified before you could reach heaven.

    Catholics often pray the Marian line about “Lord, have mercy upon me at the hour of my death.” All Catholics (and most Christians) hope for this.

    Catholics also have “the book of the dead” where parishioners can write in the name of anyone who died since the previous November 1 (All Saints Day or All Hallows Day). We frequently have an intercession to pray for all deceased love ones and “everyone in the book of the dead” in my parish.

    But in a requiem mass you are praying post-hoc for God to have mercy on the deceased.

    My wife knows more about this than I do. But I think this is accurate.

  33. @Stoic Cynic

    I was kind of meh on V the mini-series but liked the novelization by A.C. Crispin. Wonder if it’s held up?

    I still have the paperback edition from the 1980s, purchased from Donner Books in Rotterdam, a bookstore that appeared to have been designed by Time Lords. Might have to reread it some day.

    I remember liking Babylon 5 a whole lot back in the day, but I haven’t dared rewatching it.

    I rewatched V a few years ago. No longer quite as thrilling as it was when I first watched it as a teen, but I’ll alays have a soft spot for it. V has the distinction of being the first thing I watched, once private TV came to our neighbourhood and the number of three mostly boring TV channels was suddenly doubled to six.

  34. @Darren Garrison

    Why did Radio Shack have to use the model number TRS-80 on so many completely unrelated products?

    Well, the original 1976 TRS-80 was a Tandy/Radio Shack machine with a Zilog Z80 processor.

    Of course, as you note, they then started using ‘TRS-80’ as a brand name even for machines with no Z80 processor, just to play off the name recognition. This included the TRS-80 Color Computer (later the Tandy Color Computer) which used a Motorola 6809. It also included the ‘Model 100’ which was an early ‘hip-top’, and the ‘Model 1000’, which was one of the least compatible ‘IBM-compatibles’ ever marketed.

    So I guess I don’t really have an answer to your question other than ‘it must have seemed like a good idea at the time to somebody at Tandy’.

  35. I thought McCalmont was just doing his usual pot-stirring act, but he’s clearly not appreciated today’s comments (everyone wave!) and this tweet appears to come from an alternate reality.

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