Pixel Scroll 12/31/18 Three…(Click)…Two…(Click)….One…(Click)…Godstalk!

(1) DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL AIRS TOMORROW. And you can preview the New Year’s Day Special Doctor Who: Resolution.

The Doctor Who cast talk about what to expect in the New Years Day Special, Doctor Who: Resolution.

(2) THE YEAR’S MOST WTF. ScienceFiction.com is right – there were plenty: “The Most WTF Moments Of 2018”.

There were a lot of memorable moments in pop culture in 2018, including many highs, as well as a few lows.  But in addition to that, there were a few events that were just weird or shocking, to the point that some folks are still reeling months later.   Yes, there were many deaths.  There were also a large number of sexual misconduct accusations.  But omitting those, here are a few other moments that you may recall.

Their list begins with —

12. Netflix Dropped A Surprise Movie, ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ After The Super Bowl

(3) 2018 MOST INFLUENTIAL SFF WOMEN. At SYFY Wire, the Fangrrls column lists their “2018’s most influential women in genre.”

This was a hard year. For many of us, 2018 was surreal, and for many more, it was deeply painful. But in the face of adversity, as always, it is the women who made us feel we can survive, thrive, and make a difference. 

In 2018, women like Christine Blasey Ford stood firm against a wave of screams attempting to silence, dismiss and discredit her. But firm she stood. For better or worse, and still experiencing attacks and threats, she and so many other women reminded us that we are strong. Often because the world has given us no choice. But it’s what these women do with that strength that is empowering, inspiring, and life-changing for those of us their lives touch. 

The genre world is no different. This year, we were still told, constantly and from people who should know better, that there is simply not room at the table for us, or, possibly worse, gaslit into believing there aren’t enough of us capable or even willing to do the work men are handed with far less experience

These women inspired us to say “f*ck that” and be everything the world says we can’t be. And we are eternally grateful.

Details are in the article for about each selectee. The list (along with an attempt to distill the roles for which each woman was selected) is:

* Eve Ewing (academic, author, visual artist)—selected by Sara Century

* Jody Houser (comic book author)—selected by Riley Silverman

* N.K. Jemisin (author, activist)—selected by S.E. Fleenor

* Jodie Whittaker (actor)—selected by Jenna Busch

* Laila Shabir (founder/CEO of Girls Make Games)—selected by Courtney Enlow

* Margot Robbie (actor, producer)—selected by Jenna Busch

* Janelle Monáe (musician)—selected by Clare McBride

* Ava DuVernay (director)—selected by Tricia Ennis

* Natalie Portman (actor, activist)—selected by Emma Fraser

* Tessa Thompson (actor, singer, songwriter)—selected by S.E. Fleenor

* Christina Hodson (screenwriter)—selected by Jenna Busch

* Brie Larson (actor, activist)—selected by Carly Lane

(4) GOING TO HAVE TO REFILL THE MIRROR. A.V. News says “Bandersnatch was so complex that season five of Black Mirror has been delayed”.

We never would’ve guessed this, but it turns out that developing an interactive movie with tons of branching paths and alternate endings is kind of difficult. Perhaps that’s why most movies only have the one narrative and end the same way no matter how many times you watch it?

…The movie has so many different variations based on what choices you make that Brooker (the creator of Black Mirror) says he has “forgotten” how many different endings there are, going so far as to reject producer Annabel Jones’ claim in a Hollywood Reporter interview that there are five “definitive” conclusions.

That Hollywood Reporter piece goes deep into how Bandersnatch was made and some of the behind-the-scenes magic that allows it to work, but the biggest reveal is that Bandersnatch required such an “enormous” amount of time and work that the fifth season of the oppressively dark sci-fi horror series has been delayed….

(5) NEW BUHLERT POSTS. Galactic Journey has published Cora Buhlert’s review of Andre Norton’s Ordeal in Otherwhere (her first Norton), as well her original 1960s recipe for spaceman’s punch, a New Year’s party favorite.

Cora also has a poem in Issue eleven of the poetry webzine Umbel & Panicle, out today, which also features photographs by Paul Weimer and Elizabeth Fitzgerald.

(6) EVOLVED GINGERBREAD. Aftonbladet reports how “Caroline’s gingerbread makes success”. Hampus Eckerman translated the first part of this Swedish-language article for Filers to enjoy:

In Caroline Eriksson’s family, it has always been a tradition to build gingerbread houses.

But over the years, Caroline began to get tired of “just” building houses.

This year she has built a 130×90 centimeter replica of Alien – made in gingerbread.

For three and a half weeks, Caroline Eriksson, 31, has worked with the gingerbread during evenings and weekends.

Building gingerbread houses always used to be a tradition in Caroline’s family during her childhood in Tyresö. But in recent years, the gingerbread cookies have become increasingly advanced.

– After a few years I got tired of doing houses and started to do more special things like boats and some movie creations, says Caroline.

For several years, Caroline has lived in Oslo. In 2013, she participated in a gingerbread competition in Norway and since then the gingerbread cookies have become more extreme.

– Then I built Optimus Prime, the transformer robot, in gingerbread. I won the competition which was super cool and after that, the tradition of making a gingerbread figure every year continued. I try to challenge myself and make more crazy creations every year, says Caroline.

(7) SIR JULIUS VOGEL AWARDS YEAR KICKS OFF. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, and will be taken until the window closes on March 30, 2019.

The awards recognise excellence and achievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2018 calendar year.

…Anyone can make a nomination and it is free! Get busy reading NZ authors and watching NZ movies to find work to nominate. The awards will be presented at Geysercon – the 2019 National SF&F Convention.

(8) AMONG THE RUINS. Harvard Gazette’s ‘Stepping inside a dead star” offers “A virtual reality experience of being inside an exploded star.” You’ll need the VR hardware to try this out.

Cassiopeia A, the youngest known supernova remnant in the Milky Way, is the remains of a star that exploded almost 400 years ago. The star was approximately 15 to 20 times the mass of our sun and sat in the Cassiopeia constellation, almost 11,000 light-years from earth.

Though stunningly distant, it’s now possible to step inside a virtual-reality (VR) depiction of what followed that explosion.

A team led by Kimberly Kowal Arcand from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the Center for Computation and Visualization at Brown University has made it possible for astronomers, astrophysicists, space enthusiasts, and the simply curious to experience what it’s like inside a dead star. Their efforts are described in a recent paper in Communicating Astronomy with the Public.

The VR project — believed to be the first of its kind, using X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory mission (which is headquartered at CfA), infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and optical data from other telescopes — adds new layers of understanding to one of the most famous and widely studied objects in the sky.

(9) ROMAN OBIT. NPR reports: “Nancy Grace Roman, ‘Mother Of Hubble’ Space Telescope, Has Died, At Age 93”. She defied a guidance counselor who asked “what lady would take math instead of Latin”; joined NASA when it was 6 months old.

When Nancy Grace Roman was a child, her favorite object to draw was the moon.

Her mother used to take her on walks under the nighttime sky and show her constellations, or point out the colorful swirls of the aurora. Roman loved to look up at the stars and imagine.

Eventually, her passion for stargazing blossomed into a career as a renowned astronomer. Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA, where she served as the agency’s first chief of astronomy.

Known as the “Mother of Hubble,” for her role in making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality, Roman worked at NASA for nearly two decades. She died on Dec. 25 at the age of 93.

(10) LUSK OBIT. SYFY Wire reports the death of classic Disney animator Don Lusk:

Don Lusk, longtime Disney animator and Hanna-Barbera director, has died. The multi-hyphenate artist behind dozens of iconic characters roaming throughout animation was 105. His longevity was only matched by his output, as Lusk’s six decade career saw him make the faces of Alice in Wonderland, Charlie Brown, Babar, Papa Smurf, and Goofy familiar to an entire culture.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 31, 1958 The Crawling Eye showed up at the drive-in.
  • December 31, 1958  — The Strange World Of Planet X made for a good double bill at the drive-in.
  • December 31, 1961The Phantom Planet appeared in theaters.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 31, 1937  — Anthony Hopkins, 80. I never know what I’ve going to find when I look these Birthday possibilities so imagine my surprise when I discover his first genre role was Ian McCandless in Freejack followed soon by playing Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula! He went to have a number of genre roles including being C. S. Lewis in Shadowlands, the lead in The Mask of Zorro, the narrator of that stink, stank, stunk How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Odin in three Thor MCU films. 
  • Born December 31, 1943 Ben Kingsley, 75. First SF character he played was Avatar in Slipstream, later roles included Dr. John Watson in Without a Clue, Minister Templeton in Photographing Fairies, The Great Zamboni In Spooky House, Specialist in A.I., Man in the Yellow Suit in Tuck Everlasting,  Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and that’s just a partial listing. God he’s had an impressive genre history! 
  • Born December 31, 1945Connie Willis, 73. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even I who isn’t generally impressed as you know by Awards! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the DogDoomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there.
  • Born December 31, 1949Ellen Datlow, 69. Let’s get start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which, yes , I know, it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories for them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor, something she’s also done at Nightmare MagazineOmni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzine and Subterranean Magazine
  • Born December 31, 1958 Bebe Neuwirth, 60. Ok she’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself is apparently still ongoing. 
  • Born December 31, 1959Val Kilmer, 59. Lead role in Batman Forever where I fought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the reboot of Knight Rider.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • In this Brewster Rockit, Cliff Clewless may have the right idea—retroactive New Year resolutions.

(14) ON TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter, Jeopardy! game show genre reference correspondent, spotted another:  

Double Jeopardy Answer, for $3,000: He wrote 1899’s “Father Goose”; he came up with a “Wonderful” adventure the following year.

Wrong question: “Who is [Upton] Sinclair?” [which cost the contestant $3 grand]

Correct question: Who is L. Frank Baum?

(15) POOP QUIZ. Meanwhile, Daniel Dern is proposing his own game show – “Today’s SF and SF-adjacent Pop Quiz.”

What (a) SF story, and (b) folk song (story, more precisely) do these articles make you think of:

“Maine woman who makes artwork out of moose poop might be getting a TV show”

which in turn refers back to —

“People love this Maine woman who makes artwork out of moose poop”

Stay tuned to ROT-13 for the answers —

a) Gur Ovt Cng Obbz ol Qnzba Xavtug

b) “Zbbfr Gheq Cvr,” ol gur yngr Oehpr “H. Hgnu” Cuvyyvcf, Gur Tbyqra Ibvpr bs gur Terng Fbhgujrfg naq “Nzrevpn’f Zbfg-Srnerq Sbyxfvatre,” bevtvanyyl ba uvf TBBQ GUBHTU nyohz — urer vg abj

<uggcf://jjj.lbhghor.pbz/jngpu?i=0mo1dfIdwjt>

Abgr, V ybir gung n jro frnepu gheaf hc uvgf yvxr:

    Fubc Zbbfr Gheq Cvr: Nznmba

Gur FS-nqwnprag nfcrpg: Cuvyyvcf jnf n thrfg (TbU, creuncf) ng ng yrnfg bar FS pbairagvba — ZvavPba?

And that’s the name of that tune!

(16) KSR’S LATEST. Vidvuds Veldavs totes up the pluses and minuses about Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Moon for readers at The Space Review.

[Note: the review contains spoilers regarding the novel.]

Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel, Red Moon, is set in 2047. China has become the dominant player on the Moon with large-scale operations at the South Pole. The US and other players have facilities at the North Pole. China achieved this position using the experience of massive infrastructure projects to mount an operation possibly larger and more intensive in scope than the U.S. Apollo project. According to the novel, President Xi Jinping secured the commitment of the Chinese Communist Party at the 20th People’s Congress in 2022 to the goal “… that the moon should be a place for Chinese development, as one part of the Chinese Dream.” Insofar as 2022 is still more than three years into the future, Robinson may be advocating for such a future. Xi Jinping is highly praised in the book for his Moon declaration as well as for the environmental cleanup that takes place on Earth. The hills surrounding Beijing in 2047 are green and the air is fresh and breathable as a result of the environmental policies of Xi.

(17) A DIFFERENT KIND OF YEAR IN NEWS. The BBC’s “2018 in news: The alternative end-of-the-year awards” features videos of masterfully-incompetent criminals, and of an attempt to stifle press questions that got shown up by a phone app.

(18) YOUNG JUSTICE. The final trailer of Young Justice Season 3: Outsiders has been released. The TV series will premiere January 4.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rich Lynch, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

56 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/31/18 Three…(Click)…Two…(Click)….One…(Click)…Godstalk!

  1. Happy new year!

    Mike: in the Val Kilmer birthday item, I’m guessing that “fought” should be “thought.”

  2. Eli says Mike: in the Val Kilmer birthday item, I’m guessing that “fought” should be “thought.”

    Yeah, that’d be my mistake. Mike, do fix please when you get a chance.

  3. @Cassy B
    I’m wondering how you can even figure out how to build it. (Gingerbread construction wasn’t part of my family’s traditions.)

  4. @Kip —

    Goddammit, now I’ve been earwormed.

    Happy Earwormy New Years to all!

    Oh, P.S. — New Year’s reading: I’m in the middle of the second Spellslinger book by Sebastien de Castell, Shadowblack. These really are delightful books, and in the audio version Joe Jameson is wonderful. More folks should try them out!

  5. Happy New Year everyone, buckle up, because things aren’t going to slow down.

    5) Ordeal in Othewhere was the second Andre Norton I read, after Jargoon Pard. That would make the hardback the third book I ever checked out from the library. So I have a soft spot for the book, and the fact at I read it before Storm over Warlock (and followed it with Three Against the Witch World) probably helped me think Norton was more female character oriented than otherwise.

  6. Closed out 2018 with board games — Dice & Dragons and Carcassonne — and I’m starting 2019 with the third season of The Expanse, so whatever else the year holds, at least there’s that.

    Also still reading George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, but need to be finished by 01/12 when C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance Rising magically appears on my Kindle.

  7. My mistake: Alliance Rising is out on 01/08! (And I almost certainly won’t be done with Fire & Blood by then.)

  8. @Joe H
    I understand it turned out to be much longer than expected, so it got split into two books.

  9. @P J Evans — I will very, very, very happily take two Alliance/Union novels in place of one.

  10. Happy new year to everybody here!

    5) Thanks for the links, Mike.

    12) Either Anthony Hopkins’ birth year or age are wrong, cause if he was born on December 31, 1937, he would be 81.

  11. Cora says Either Anthony Hopkins’ birth year or age are wrong, cause if he was born on December 31, 1937, he would be 81.

    No, you’re right. For some reason, my email app cut off the one at end of the sentence, so my bad.

  12. @12: maybe I like “Fire Watch” because I realized on later reading just how much I’d missed/misread the first time through. Maybe I like it because it’s a terrific story that isn’t about any of the things we’re told happen in it. I would recommend it to anyone; it’s not facile or trivial like some of her popular work.

    @12 ctd: I didn’t think much of Kilmer’s work — but he didn’t have the greatest script, and he was better than George Clooney.

    @16: The hills surrounding Beijing in 2047 are green and the air is fresh and breathable as a result of the environmental policies of Xi. And I am Marie of Rumania.

    @P J Evans (re how to build gingerbread): if there was an app to decompose designs into Lego blocks over 5 years ago (cf the construction at LSC 3), there’s got to be a gingerbread-construction app by now.

    And on top of the new facet of Cherryh’s universe, Foreigner #19 is coming out tomorrow. Carry me back to Mt. Tsundoku; I’ve owned trilogy #6 for something like a year and not gotten to it.

  13. And I’m confident that Alliance Rising will set of a pretty substantial Alliance/Union reread (including Chanur); and I’m also reminded I still haven’t read Regensis (the sequel to Cyteen), so it’ll probably time to do something about that.

  14. @Chip
    I think you’re off on what’s due out: Foreigner #19 came out last year. Alliance Rising: The Hinder Stars is supposed to drop next week. Foreigner #20 hasn’t been scheduled yet, AFAIK.
    (I know what the Large South American River says. I also know I’ve read Emergence more than once in the last year.)

  15. 12) Love Connie Willis’ novels–Bellweather, especially.
    My favorite short stories– “A Letter from the Clearys” and “Even the Queen”.

  16. (16) KSR’S LATEST.

    I have just finished Red Moon, and I can say this:

    1) That’s not a review. It’s a plot summary. And the “reviewer” seems to have missed some pretty significant points about the book.

    2) What I liked: KSR has some interesting ideas: about reforms which China and the U.S. could implement that would make the economy, the environment, and the general living conditions for humanity much better than they are today. He also describes some interesting possible technology and colony configuration options for the Moon.

    3) What I didn’t like: As usual, KSR’s characters are thoroughly chewable cardboard, although his elderly Chinese man seems to at least approach some resemblance to 3-dimensionality. (I would be interested to hear the opinions of Chinese people on KSR’s Chinese characters.)

    One of the main characters is a very neuroatypical man who is brilliant at mathematics and quantum mechanics, but has the social development, awareness, and savvy of a child. We are expected to believe that his employer would send this extremely naïve, easily-manipulated person on his own, to the Moon, to deliver half of an immensely expensive ansible device to a Chinese leader in a political environment just as fraught as Chinese politics have always been… sorry, I’m not buying it.

    It becomes clear that the reason this main character who knows nothing about anything was chosen was so that the author could have an excuse for the other characters to engage in info-dumping to him on such topics as politics, economics, environment, sociology, and philosophy. The author’s ideas are not without merit; however, this makes for a somewhat slow-paced, tedious 450-page book.

    Another character is a strong, intelligent woman in a position of power who spends all of her time internally monologuing petty grievances and competitiveness against another character. Seriously, this is the best characterization he can come up with?

    The book’s “ending” is as abrupt a non-ending as that of Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, and had I actually been emotionally-invested in the characters, it would likely have met the wall; however, it merely elicited an eyeroll, a headshake, and a sigh from me.

    Fans of KSR’s other books are likely to enjoy this one as well. Readers who have been disappointed with the lack of plotting and character development in other KSR books are not going to find anything to change their minds in this one.

  17. Chip Hitchcock: maybe I like “Fire Watch” because I realized on later reading just how much I’d missed/misread the first time through. Maybe I like it because it’s a terrific story that isn’t about any of the things we’re told happen in it. I would recommend it to anyone; it’s not facile or trivial like some of her popular work.

    While I think that Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and several of Willis’ shorter fiction works are excellent stories, I consider Fire Watch to be her masterwork.

  18. Cora says Either Anthony Hopkins’ birth year or age are wrong, cause if he was born on December 31, 1937, he would be 81.

    He’s eighty one. Mike, do fix, my bad.

  19. @Harold Osler: I read “A Letter from the Clearys” when it first appeared in Asimov’s, and just didn’t get it, but when I reread it years later in “Firewatch” it blew me away. “Bellwether” was my first Willis novel, and I still love it.

  20. @P J Evans: gah, misread ‘8’ as ‘9’ — and I’m not even the one in this house dealing with conjunctivitis. I keep telling myself to check twice after a long day(*) and not remembering it when it matters.

    (*) spaghetti Bolognese for dozens, from scratch, leavened with watching a Cooper’s hawk at dinner in the backyard of what I would have thought was way too urban an area.

  21. weird genre connection: some of you may have noticed the death of the lyricist of “Killing Me Softly” (BBC lead) or “The Girl from Ipanema” (less noted because another writer had done the Portuguese original). The Washington Post obit notes that the latter was originally written for Blimp, a failed musical about an alien visiting South America.

  22. @Chip: I noticed that too (and dropped Mike a line about it). The obituary also notes that Norman Gimbel wrote the theme for the 1970s Wonder Woman.

  23. @Cat Eldridge: Wild Palms started out stylish, surreal and intriguing, descended rather quickly into “hunt the Macguffin with submachine guns” in a cyberpunk-ish dystopia. I thought it was rather a disappointment.

  24. @Chip
    Cooper’s hawks fit into urban areas quite well – I’ve seen them in my area, with and without dinner. I still remember walking past the middle-school field where a flock of blackbirds was feeding, just as a Cooper’s dropped on them from the other side. We were all at the same point in the fence: I on the sidewalk, and all the birds on the other side. (The hawk was last seen flying off with a blackbird clutched in its talons.)

  25. “The Girl from Ipanema” (less noted because another writer had done the Portuguese original).

    In fact, the original composer was interviewed during the Rio Olympics coverage. (It was an interesting interview.)

  26. @Cat: Imagine Oliver Stone pretending to be David Lynch, adapting Neuromancer as a miniseries. That’s Wild Palms.

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