Pixel Scroll 12/26/18 And The Fur Suit Of Happiness

(1) NEW BUJOLD NOVELLA ON THE WAY. Bujold announced it on Goodreads — a “new Lakerwalker novella impending”.

…I am pleased to report that I have finished the first draft of a new novella in the world of The Sharing Knife. Functionally a novella, anyway; its length, at the moment, is a tad over 49,000 words, so it’s technically a short novel. This falls in an odd limbo in categorization — the official cap for a novella is 40k or 45k words, but the minimum contractual length for a commercially published novel is usually 100k. (It was 80k back when I started, but word-count inflation has occurred since then.) Since it’s headed for original e-publication, I don’t have to care, so the main concern is to label it so readers won’t charge in expecting something twice as long.

The working title was “Barr & Lily”, which is also its subject matter, being a sort of slice-of-Lakewalker-life character study. However, that won’t do for the final, since it sounds a bit too much like the name of a tea company. The current front-runner is “Knife Children”, but I’m not sure yet if that is going to stick.

It takes place about a dozen years after the events of the tetralogy, but should be perfectly readable as a stand-alone. (Old readers will gratify me if they can refrain from fending off potential new readers by telling them they have to read four other books first.)…

(2) 9W HIATUS. On December 22, London’s Nine Worlds convention governance committee made a response to some recent critical tweets, and acknowledged there will be no 9W in 2019. Thread starts here.

(3) WHATEVER’S NUMBERS. While John Scalzi’s annual statistical roundup shows it’s getting very hard to measure anyone’s social media reach, I still read these breakdowns in rapt fascination: “Top Whatever Posts and Social Media Stats, 2018”.

 Every year I post stats on traffic for Whatever, and every year it gets harder to see how it accurately reflects my actual readership, because of the way people read things I post here. Bluntly, relatively few people visit the site directly at this point in time — As of this moment, for 2018, Whatever has had 2.82 million direct visits in 2018, down from last year’s 4.1 million, and substantially down from the 2012 high of 8.16 million. At the same time, Whatever has 30k+ followers through WordPress and email, another 10k+ on Feedly and other RSS aggregators, a few thousand though social media feeds, and there an unknown number of people reading the site’s content on mobile, through AMP versions of the site. None of those impressions/reads get tracked through the WordPress stats suite.

(4) SANS SERIF FACTOR THREE, MR. SULU. Hyperallergenic contends that “Many Stories Are Told Through the Typography in Science Fiction Films”.

In film, there is a shorthand for the future, the typeface Eurostile Bold Extended. It appears on the interface screens of the time-traveling Delorean in Back to the Future (1985), and in the logo of Lunar Industries at the lonely lunar station in Moon (2009). It adorns the exterior of the USS Enterprise starship in the Star Trek franchise, and the Federal Colonies intergalactic megacorporation branding in Total Recall (1990). It gives both the Battlestar Galactica series title and the credits of District 9 (2009) an ultramodern tone.

As blogger and designer Dave Addey explains in his new book Typeset in the Future, out now from Abrams, he first noticed the ubiquity of the typeface in 2013. 

(5) THE YEAR IN SCIENCE. BBC picked its “Ten big science stories of 2018”. Second on the list —  

The earliest animals

The one-million-plus animal species alive today are staggeringly diverse, from the giant oceanic blue whale to the wriggly earthworms beneath our feet. But their early evolution from single-celled ancestors remains shrouded in mystery.

In the hunt for the earliest animal life, much attention has been focused on a group of enigmatic life forms – known as the “Ediacaran biota” – from more than 500 million years ago. These were some of the first complex organisms to appear on Earth.

But their position on the tree of life is difficult decipher. These curious creatures have been variously categorised as lichens, fungi, and even as a halfway house between plants and animals.

In September, scientists were able to extract molecules of cholesterol from a fossilised Ediacaran life form called Dickinsonia, which resembled a flat jellyfish. Cholesterol is one of the molecular hallmarks of animal life, clearly demonstrating that the Ediacaran biota were animals.

(6) THE SIGN OF THE ZERO. A.V. Club is impressed, in a negative sort of way: Holmes & Watson crack the case of the 0 percent Rotten Tomatoes score”.

Entering into a robust fraternity of cinematic triumphs that includes such highlights as Gotti and Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly’s new comedy Holmes & Watson has joined the storied pantheon of movies rocking a 0 percent “rotten” score on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. For those unfamiliar with the site’s system, that means that not a single one of the 15 critics currently being polled for the film’s merits have said it’s even marginally worth the 89 minutes of your life it would take to watch, making this a real anti-Paddington 2 situation.

(7) DOA ON BAKER STREET. Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s contribution to the funeral cortege: “‘Holmes & Watson’: Film Review”.

You can feel the flop sweat emanating from the third onscreen pairing of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Making their previous vehicles Step Brothers and Talladega Nights seem the height of comic sophistication by comparison, Holmes & Watson features the duo parodying Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous characters to devastatingly unfunny effect. Numerous talented British thespians are wasted in supporting roles in this Christmas turkey that, not surprisingly, wasn’t screened in advance for critics. Although making them troop out to theaters Christmas morning is something of which even Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t have approved.

(8) EISENBERG OBIT. Scientist and sff author Larry Eisenberg achieved his greatest fame writing limericks in comments to the online New York Times over the past decade: “Larry Eisenberg, 99, Dead; His Limericks Were Very Well Read”. Eisenberg died December 25 from complications of acute myeloid leukemia.

Dr. Eisenberg joined Rockefeller University in 1958 and later became a director of its electronics laboratory. Early in his tenure at Rockefeller, he helped develop a transistorized, battery-operated cardiac pacemaker, which was considered a vast improvement over the wire-laden earlier models. He taught at the university until 2000.

As a science-fiction writer, Dr. Eisenberg was best known for his short story “What Happened to Auguste Clarot?” The comic tale of a disappearing Parisian scientist, it was published in “Dangerous Visions” (1967), the noted anthology edited by Harlan Ellison.

He was also known for his stories featuring Prof. Emmett Duckworth, an amiably hapless Nobel Prize-winning scientist. (Duckworth’s inventions include an intensely addictive aphrodisiac containing 150,000 calories per ounce.)

…In a 2011 feature, Dr. Eisenberg was asked by The 6th Floor, a Times Magazine blog, to supply a brief biographical summary for readers. He replied — a mere 20 minutes later — in the form he knew best:

A nonagenarian, I,
A sometime writer of sci-fi,
Biomed engineer,
Gen’rally of good cheer,
With lim’ricks in ready supply.

(9) ISAACS OBIT. Boston area conrunning fan Fred Isaacs died December 26 after a long battle with COPD. Just a few items from his extensive resume — he chaired Boskone 9 (1972), and was co-inventor of the concourse format of organizing exhibits and fan tables for the 1989 Worldcon, which was frequently emulated by later Worldcons.  

(10) GRAU OBIT. Jorge Grau (1930-2018): Spanish screenwriter and director, reportedly died today, aged 88. Best known for the horror film The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974, aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie). Also directed The Legend of Blood Castle (1973, aka The Female Butcher) and Violent Blood Bath (1974).

(11) MOSIMAN OBIT. Billie Sue Mosiman (1947-2018) has died. She had her first fiction published in the 1980s, and went on to become an Edgar nominee for her novel Night Cruise and a Stoker nominee for Widow. She authored eight suspense novels and more than 150 short stories, and coedited six anthologies.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 26, 1911Milton Luros. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines from 1942 to 1954 (yes I’ve expansive on what I consider to be to the Golden Age). His work graced Science Fiction Quarterly, Astounding Stories,  Future Combined with Science Fiction StoriesFuture Science Fiction StoriesDynamic Science Fiction and  Science Fiction Quarterly. He had an amazing ability to illustrate women in outfits in hostile environments that simply were impractical such as one for Science Fiction Quarterly (UK), October 1952 cover had a cut out in her spacesuit so her décolletage was bare. (Died 1999.)
  • Born December 26, 1930Donald Moffat. Yes he just passed on several days ago but his Birthday is today so he gets written up. Yes The Thing indeed was first SF undertaking followed by License to KillThe Terminal Man, Exo-Man, Monster in the Closet and Earthquake films, plus The Twilight Zone and Six Million Dollar Man series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 26, 1961 Tahnee Welch, 57. Daughter of Raquel Welch, she has  shows up in Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return; also in Sleeping Beauty, Johnny 2.0 and Black Light. She also appears in a SF video game called Ripper that took place in 2040 NYC and uses Jack as the basis for the plot there.
  • Born December 26, 1974Danielle Cormack, 44. Performer of New Zealander status so you can guess what that means — Ephiny on  Xena: Warrior Princess, a one shot as Lady Marie DeValle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Ephiny on the same series, Katherine on Jack of All Trades (which I’ve mentioned before was one of Kage Baker’s fav shows), Raina on Cleopatra 2525 and Shota on the Legend of the Seeker. Genre television has been very, very good for the New Zealand economy! 
  • Born December 26, 1986Kit Harington, 32. Jon Snow on Game of Thornes of course but also voiced the Eret character in the How to Train Your Dragon films, a considerably lighter affair I’d say. Also played Bill Bradley in Seventh Son and is voicing Sir Gadabout In Zog, yet another dragon-centred film, I gather. 
  • Born December 26, 1960Temuera Morrison, 58. New Zealand performer known for being Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (and Commander Cody in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. He also voiced the clone troopers in both films. He is also voiced Chief Tui, the father of the title character in Disney’s Moana, and for playing Arthur Curry’s father in Aquaman.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • XKCD on feathered dinosaurs.

(14) SOMEDAY MY PRINTS WILL COME. Io9 has a cool décor suggestion: “Hang Iconic Doctor Who Moments on Your Wall With These Fantastic Framed Prints”.

Over the past few months, Classic Stills has been capturing high-res moments from genre faves like Jurassic Park and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as artsy prints you can frame on your wall. Now, it’s turning its hand to TV, in the form of another genre icon: 55 years of Doctor Who’s adventures in time and space….

(15) DO YOU PREFER LEINSTER OR JENKINS? Now’s your chance to find out. Murray Leinster’s daughter recently put together a short collection of mainstream short stories published under his real name of Will F. Jenkins which was, as Bruce D. Arthurs notes, was “Apparently the actual majority, and bread-and-butter, of his writing career.” Intro by Michael Swanwick. Available on Amazon. Link to Swanwick’s blog post: “The Mainstream Murray Leinster”.

…In a career that began in 1913 and ended with his death in 1975, Jenkins published some 1,800 stories in more than 150 periodicals, as well as 74 novels and collections. Only a small part of his output was science fiction — and that was written over the horrified objections of his agent. (SF didn’t pay as well as the slicks, which were his usual markets.) But Jenkins loved science and wrote science fiction for the fun of it, utilizing the Leinster pen name to protect his other fiction….

(16) SUCCESSFUL DEMONSTRATION. NPR asks “What’s Next For Tiny Satellites?” but doesn’t really have much of an answer yet.

On Nov. 26, as the probe known as InSight plummeted through the Martian atmosphere on its way to the planet’s surface, two miniature spacecraft — known collectively as MarCO — relayed telemetry from InSight to Earth, assuring all those watching that the landing of the probe was proceeding successfully and was soft.

In the past, spacecraft were only able to transmit back to Earth simple tones during a landing. Those tones would change for major milestones, such as parachute deployment, the firing of landing rockets or touchdown.

This time, as InSight team member Christine Szalai called out altitudes from the control room in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, she was reading off actual data from InSight’s onboard radar. It was live play-by-play, bearing in mind that the radio signal from Mars took approximately eight minutes to reach Earth.

… After its relay mission was over, the MarCOs sailed past Mars; they’ll go into orbit around the sun. Marinan says the research team on Earth will check in on the cubesats from time to time, just to see how long they last.

(17) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. A crossover comic brings together two characters played by actor Bruce Campbell: “Interview: Scott Duvall on How Ash Meets Bubba Ho-Tep in Dynamite’s New Army of Darkness Crossover”.

Worlds collide this February when Ash meets Elvis and a foul-mouthed mummy in Dynamite’s latest crossover Army of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep. The four-issue mini-series not only brings together two beloved cult classics, it also pits Bruce Campbell’s infamous character against another of his best personas (the actor played Ash in the Evil Dead series as well as Elvis Presley in Bubba Ho-Tep in 2002).

Written by Scott Duvall (They Called Us Enemy, Heavy Metal) and with art by Vincenzo Federici (Grimm Fairy Tales), the story follows Ash on a road trip through Texas in search of Elvis, who is rumored to be alive and taking down evil mummies. With a time-traveling Elvis jumpsuit and a new evil Book of the Dead, Ash must then come face to face with Bubba Ho-Tep, the soul-sucking mummy.

(18) THIS SCEPTRED ISLE. For those of us beyond the range of Her Majesty’s broadcast, Camestros Felapton helpfully supplies a transcript: “And now a message from the Queen to her commonwealth”.

When the creatures of the void break through the veil of cosmogyny and come to rend your essence from your bones and then marke sport with your skeleton while your howling soul looks on, to whom would you turn? Your milquetoast post-modernist professors? Your “Jeremiah Corbills”? Your “republicans” and constitutional reformers?

Or instead will you turn to a family that are the heirs to Boudicca, King Arthur, William the Conqueror, or my namesake Glorianna herself Elizabeth the First?

(19) TRANSFORMATIVE MURDERBOTS. Meredith advised:

For those who may not be aware: Transformative works fandom has a yearly secret santa gift exchange called Yuletide where people write small-fandom fanfiction for each other, and book fandoms usually make quite a good showing. This year’s collection can be found here.

(It’s also one of several fannish endeavours founded by Astolat, who also writes some really excellent and Hugo-nominated books when she’s not writing fanfic.)

Then JJ discovered –

There are 8 Murderbot fics!

And one of them features Timothy!

[Thanks to Steve Green, Bruce Arthurs, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Meredith, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Gary Farber, ULTRAGOTHA, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

40 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/26/18 And The Fur Suit Of Happiness

  1. The hectograph needs a fresh stencil,
    so the annish is more than ‘potential’,
    But more vital still,
    We say with a will,
    is a furry and friendly credential.

  2. Carrying on from a past Scroll, this time it wasn’t the drone’s fault: Suffolk farm drone in near-miss with Tornado jet. Having been buzzed on a scenic road by an RAF jet, I have very little sympathy for this pilot — and that only because he might have been ordered to do something low-level in a civilian area.

    Meanwhile, I’m wondering whether anyone has read Peter Hamilton’s latest, Salvation. I’d been periodically annoyed by his treatment of female characters, but was so turned off by a couple of not-so-old works that I’m reluctant to invest the several hours one of his doorstops would take despite the very high ratings I’ve seen for it. Comments?

  3. 12
    I thought Jon Snow was a character in Game of Thrones.

    15
    And I seem to remember reading a science-fact article in Analog, many years ago, about front-projection systems, which he invented.

  4. @andrew

    Hey, that’s cute, and it actually fits in here too, with (8).

    Anybody watch Netflix’s adaptation of Watership Down? I was rather pleasantly surprised, especially with ep. 4. Finally got to watch Bigwig say, “Silflay hraka, u embleer rah.” Although I can’t figure out why they showed the Black Rabbit of Inle instead of El-ahrairah.

  5. (7) A zero rating? Wow. Which only goes to show you that you can make even the worst of the worst look good with a decent trailer. While the trailer didn’t make it look like great art, it did look like it might be a fun slapstick-level film. At least from the early reviews, it appears otherwise.

  6. Steve Simmons: Sorry, but I smelled the flop sweat in HOLMES AND WATSON in the trailer. I’m sure the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is right and this film is a major turkey.

  7. Car. I have one again. 2015 Nissan Sentra, white, because of course it is because I made the mistake of thinking “not white,” 21,432 miles on it. With a fresh, new MA inspection sticker.

    (7) The trailer was enough to convince me I want to go nowhere near it.

  8. (4) I knew I wouldn’t want to see Watchmen as soon as I glimpsed its title in Futura Extra Bold Condensed. Instant turnoff.

    (I would buy the book if it weren’t $40.)

  9. Having seen clips of Will Ferrell being “funny” I can honestly say I’m entirely not surprised that his new film is a massive flop.

  10. Bonnie McDaniel:

    Finally got to watch Bigwig say, “Silflay hraka, u embleer rah.”

    Weird. I always remembered it as “Silflay hraka, u embleer homba,” but judging from Google, it looks like I misremembered it.

  11. Alas, the perfection has been forever sullied by New York magazine and Vulture‘s Jake Edelstein, who inexplicably liked Holmes and Watson, raising its Rotten Tomatoes score to the giddy heights of [checks notes]… 4 percent “fresh”

  12. New York magazine and Vulture‘s Jake Edelstein

    Less than ten seconds after the Edit window closed (of course), I noticed it was David Edelstein. Jake Adelstein is a reporter on all things Japanese, not a film critic per se.

  13. Ray Radlein notes As for Donald Moffat, I will forever remember him as “Rem” in the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be Logan’s Run TV series

    Damn I missed that! Thanks for catching it! I’m reasonably sure I saw the series when it was on the first time but it’s been so long that I cannot say that I really remember that much of it. And I don’t remember ever seeing it again in syndication.

  14. I know I saw Logan’s Run, and I don’t remember it that well, either. I remember UFO for being awful; I assume that means Logan’s Run wasn’t awful, whatever else it was.

    6/7) Whether you like Will Ferrell’s style of humor or not is a matter of taste, but that he can be very funny is hard to dispute. This never fails to kill me:

  15. I have very vague recollections of seeing the Logan’s Run TV series, and mostly being upset/confused that it didn’t have all of the exact same actors as the original movie (which I had seen on broadcast TV) — how were they allowed to DO that?

  16. Warning, nitpick ahead:

    (1) NEW BUJOLD NOVELLA ON THE WAY. Bujold announced on it Goodreads — a “new Lakerwalker novella impending”.

    For anyone who might be induced to Google or at least search Amazon, it’s actually “Lakewalker”. However, the typo is in LMB’s original post, not a mistake by OGH.

  17. Joe H.: I have very vague recollections of seeing the Logan’s Run TV series, and mostly being upset/confused that it didn’t have all of the exact same actors as the original movie (which I had seen on broadcast TV) — how were they allowed to DO that?

    I’m presuming that this is a rhetorical question. 🙂

  18. @Mike —

    But I will fix “on it” to “it on”….!

    Ha — I didn’t even notice that one!

    Appertain yourself a beverage, I missed it!

  19. @JJ — Well, when I was 8 or 9 years old, it was less rhetorical than it is these days … 🙂

  20. 15 – I knew Will Jenkins was Murray Leinster’s real name, but I did not know that there were hundreds and hundreds of his stories that I’ve never read. Today is a good day.

  21. @Bonnie McDaniel, re: Watership Down – I’m one episode in, and I’ve alternately appreciative and bemused by some of the changes in pacing and tone and content they decided to make. I think my greatest disappointment so far is the way they wrecked that beloved punchline, “You’ll have to bless my bottom.” Which means I’m not too terribly disappointed, really. But I’m finding some of the changes they’re making entirely inexplicable, if mostly inoffensive (the reinterpretation of the “shape” in the well, for instance).

    Will probably get a chance to watch ep 2 this weekend.

  22. Hi everyone! The holiday flu has got hold of me, so I won’t be able to write a Scroll today. Add whatever you think should have been in it!

  23. @jayn: How about this?

    Gully File is my name
    770 is my nation
    Pixels are my dwelling place
    The scroll my destination

  24. For those people seeking a Netflix bingewatch recommendation for their time off, there is a new Turkish produced urban fantasy series on there which we quite enjoyed, called The Protector (Muhafiz). It has a fairly typical storyline of a young guy unknowingly inheriting the responsibility of protecting Istanbul from evil immortals who live among us, but it’s quite enjoyable.

    Turkish television drama usually requires an epic time commitment, with episodes typically being 2 hours long, but this has been condensed to Western audience-friendly 40 minute episodes. However, it still retains some key Turkish elements, such as a fair amount of manly crying and beautiful people in implausible romances. It also has a great female sidekick Zeynep, who kicks ass admirably.

    For us, it’s nice to see a vision of Istanbul on Netflix which isn’t the orientalist, minarets and misplaced Arabs version that you see in Western movies and TV.

  25. I’m certain I watched bits of the Logan’s Run TV series, but I was young enough (about 7 I think based on the UK air date in Wikipedia) I only remember fragments.

    @John A Arkensayer

    I remember UFO for being awful

    Heathen.

  26. @IanP: I think I saw Logan’s Run a few times when I was young (probably while visiting some cousins), but don’t recall much either.

    P.S. Get well soon, Mike!

  27. Just finished Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction. To say it is highly readable would be an understatement. It is very well researched and the subject matter, you can’t make this stuff up. Nevala-Lee treats the women as seriously as the men. For example, Campbell’s great writing as “Don A. Stuart” owed much to Campbell’s wife Doña Stewart. Which makes it even more heartbreaking when Campbell was abusive towards Stewart.

    Scalzi wrote of Heinlein as a titan who has to some extent been overthrown by newer gods. I think that is very true of all four men in the biography. But titans are not just ur-creators. They are deeply problematic. Our community is still coming to grips with legacy of the beloved monsters who did so much, both good and bad, to shape it. Astounding is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the science fiction field. It is also a book you’ll have a hard time putting down.

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