Pixel Scroll 1/21/17 Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling, Keep Those Pixels Scrolling, File-wide….

(1) ON THE MARCH.

(2) GRAPHIC NOVEL WINS DIVERSE BOOKS AWARD. The Washington Post’s Ron Charles says that Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin have won the Walter Dean Myers Award (or “Walter”) for Outstanding Children’s Literature for March: Book Three.  The award is sponsored by We Need Diverse Books, which promises to buy 2,000 copies of the graphic novel and donate them to libraries.

Responding to the news that he had won the Walter, Lewis said via email: “I am deeply moved for our book to receive this award. It is my hope that it will inspire more people to read and to use their pen to inspire another generation to speak up and speak out.”

(3) BREAKTHROUGHS. Barnes & Noble SF/F blog has listed “20 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with a Message of Social Justice”.

From the Time Machine to Kirk and Uhura‘s unprecedented kiss, speculative fiction has often concerned itself with breaking barriers and exploring issues of race, inequality, and injustice. The fantastical elements of genre, from alien beings to magical ones, allow writers to confront controversial issues in metaphor, granting them a subversive power that often goes unheralded. On this, the day we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., let us consider 20 novels that incorporate themes of social justice into stories that still deliver the goods—compelling plots, characters you’ll fall in love with, ideas that will expand your mind. Let’s imagine a day when the utopian ideals of Star Trek are more than just the stuff of science fiction.

(4) SEER. Nature profiles Arthur C. Clarke in honor of his 100th birthday (last month).

In 1945, Clarke inadvertently launched a career as a futurologist with his outline for a geostationary communications satellite. In a letter (‘V2 for ionosphere research?’) published in February’s issue of Wireless World and inspired by the German V2 rockets then landing on London, he made a revolutionary proposal:

An ‘artificial satellite’ at the correct distance from the earth would make one revolution every 24 hours; i.e., it would remain stationary above the same spot and would be within optical range of nearly half the earth’s surface. Three repeater stations, 120 degrees apart in the correct orbit, could give television and microwave coverage to the entire planet.

Clarke realistically concluded: “I’m afraid this isn’t going to be of the slightest use to our postwar planners, but I think it is the ultimate solution to the problem.” He followed up with a more detailed piece in Wireless World that October, envisioning “space-stations” that relied on thermionic valves serviced by an onboard crew supplied by atomic-powered rockets.

(5) SCIENCE THE SH!T OUT OF THIS. Is dome living worse than dorm living? Six simulated Hawaiian Martians will find out — “Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome”.

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods — with a rare treat of Spam — and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.

The simulated stay on Mars with a carefully selected crew of researchers embarked on a mission Thursday to gain insight into the psychological toll a similar real-life voyage would have on astronauts. It’s part of a NASA-funded human-behavior experiment that could help the space agency send humans to the red planet in the next 20 years.

The man-made dome that the four men and two women call home is outfitted with futuristic white walls and an elevated sleeping platform on the world’s largest active volcano in Hawaii. The vinyl-covered shelter spans 1,200 square feet, or about the size of a small, two-bedroom house.

A video released by the group shows the six scientists in matching red polo shirts arriving and entering the dome to farewell handshakes from program associates

(6) THE WORST. AlienExpoDallas forwards its picks as the “Top 5 Villains of Sci-Fi”.  Did they get it right?

Just like the clothes make the man, the villain makes the hero! (Unless you’re Batman — then you make the villains… in any case, I digress.) Today we live in a world where the villain gets his due — specifically villains of the sci-fi variety. Villains in sci-fi have a special gravitas where no matter how evil the scheme or horrid their actions, you somehow find yourself rooting for them. So with that, here are our top 5 villains of sci-fi!

Number 5 is Ozymandias, from Watchmen.

(7) VISITED BY THE MUSE. Amanda Palmer posted this photo on Instagram yesterday.

neil gaiman writing down ideas for his new novel as 9,000 people exit the nick cave show in sydney.

 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 21, 1789 — First American novel, The Power of Sympathy, published in Boston

(9) PEER REVIEWED. Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame, co-authored a paper on AI/machine learning, based on a short film she directed.

The Twilight actress recently made her directorial debut with the short film Come Swim, and in it used a machine learning technique known as “style transfer” (where the aesthetics of one image or video is applied to another) to create an impressionistic visual style. Along with special effects engineer Bhautik J Joshi and producer David Shapiro, Stewart has co-authored a paper on this work in the film, publishing it in the popular online repository for non-peer reviewed work, arXiv.

(10) FIFTH OF KONG. There’s a new series of TV spots for Kong: Skull Island. In keeping with Scroll tradition, I picked #5.

(11) F.U.D. People are getting pretty good at recognizing fake news. Like Brian Niemeier’s insinuation about this year’s Worldcon supporting membership rate.

Worldcon 75’s supporting membership rate was fixed when the four rival bids for 2017 set the cost of a site selection voting membership in the summer before the 2015 Worldcon. It’s not a recent decision.

And have a look at the supporting membership rates for the five most recent Worldcons.

  • LoneStarCon 3 (2013) supporting membership: $60
  • LonCon 3 (2014) supporting membership: $40
  • Sasquan (2015) supporting membership: $40
  • MidAmeriCon II (2016) supporting membership: $50
  • Worldcon 75 (2017) supporting membership: $40

A $40 rate is a typical rate, not a cut rate.

(12) DEE GOOTS. In Andi Gutierrez’ The Star Wars Show episode “Rogue One Secrets Explained”, she interviews Leland Chee, Pablo Hidalgo, and Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group, delving into Star Wars Rebels Easter eggs, production details, and much more.

(13) THE COOLEST PROJECT. Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Refrigerator! Do you want one badly enough to make it yourself?

Frank Ippolito unveils another dream build! His Han Solo in Carbonite refrigerator is exactly the kind of brilliant idea that’s not easy to execute. We walk through the build process and show how Frank sourced accurate parts from the Star Wars replica prop community and added awesome features like glowing lights!

 

(14) INSTANT CLASSIC. Camestros Felapton wove together several recent memes as replacement lyrics for an Otis Redding tune.

Oh the Gorn may be weary?
Them Gorns they do get weary
Wearing those same old metallic shorts, yeah yeah?
But when the Gorn gets weary
Try a little pixelness….

[Thanks to Rose Embolism, Rob Thornton, Gregory Benford, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

38 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/21/17 Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling, Keep Those Pixels Scrolling, File-wide….

  1. 111) I somehow think the term “banishment” is being used in a way by Mr. Niemeier that is not in accordance with most modern dictionaries,.

  2. “Worldcon 75’s supporting membership rate was fixed when the four rival bids for 2017 set the cost of a site selection voting membership in the summer before the 2015 Worldcon. It’s not a recent decision.”

    Pesky, pesky facts.

  3. (6) well those might be the worst sci-if film villains, but there are others in print that are worthy of consideration.

  4. (11) It also suggests that some people still don’t realize that “Worldcon” isn’t really singular. There’s no single “Worldcon” entity that decides rates like that. There are a series of individual, independent conventions all organized under a common set of rules, and each of them gets to make their own decisions, all libertarian-like, within that common framework.

    I sometime wonder if some people simply can’t believe that Worldcon is really that loosely organized. They are such strong authoritarians that the idea that WSFS could possibly have such weak central authority won’t register. In their world-view, it’s impossible, so there must really be a Strong Central Authority That Makes All the Decisions. Although to be fair, there are a lot of people of all political persuasions who, when presented with the way Worldcons and WSFS work, can’t believe it.

    London’s price was so high because WSFS rules at the time they were selected more or less forced the price to be that high. When the members of WSFS voted to modify those rules to allow Worldcons to lower their supporting membership rates, they promptly did so.

    As it happens, given the current Advance Supporting (Voting) fees most recent Worldcon bids have agreed to charge during Site Selection voting, $50 is practically the highest amount Worldcons since London could have charged. KC decided to raise their price to $50, while Worldcon 75 declined to do so, although they could if they so choose.

  5. Not dead.

    Worth mentioning because of how I was driving in an advanced state of mental and physical exhaustion late Friday. The police were very kind and helpful, and I got home safely.

    After sleeping get most of Saturday, now listening to myself squeaky-breathe. That’s not good, but it could be worse. I remember the Urgent Care nurse who insisted I wasn’t even wheezing, and when I insisted on a breathing test, concluded that I wasn’t moving enough air to wheeze.

    So while it’s not good, I have verifiable been much worse.

    I could have so much more energy, if I didn’t have to waste so much on breathing… My mom used to get so upset at me for saying that…

    I still cherish the Heinlein juveniles I dare not reread anymore.

    Recently finished Girl of Fire by Norma Hinkens. Solid enjoyment; some obvious flaws. Will not be an award winner, or nominee, but I did like it.

  6. 3) Does it feel to anyone else that the list is pretty evenly split between books that are several decades old and books from the past 5 years or so? Was there a longish gap during which social justice themes just didn’t get written, or didn’t get any critical notice?

    11) ISTR that the supporting rate for the 2012 Chicon was $50. I wonder why LoneStarCon was so high?

    @ jayn: *snerk*

    @ Dann: I was thinking much the same thing. Even if you confine yourself to comics, they missed a few really strong ones. I mean, really — no Galactus?

  7. Was diheartend to know that 9 was not about me.

    If you are a pixel and you know it, scroll this file!

  8. Lee: LoneStarCon was an unopposed bid for 2013. Perhaps that made them feel free to hike the cost of a voting membership. Or was an insurance move, in case being unopposed caused a fall-off in the number of votes (and only 760 were cast) which could reduce the starting bankroll.

  9. @Lee: I’ve noticed that sort of split (really old and really recent with nothing inbetween) on a lot of lists. It’s like the old stuff has become “classic”, so you have some of it, and new stuff is new, so everyone remembers it, but the stuff in between just gets lost.

    I’m pretty sure I can find significant Social Justice Bard works from just about any decade of the last century.

  10. (1) Proud to be one of the approx. 4 million marching for women yesterday.

    @ Lis Carey
    I hope you move from not dead to positively well as soon as possible.

  11. (3) Confusing how the list only gets to 20 books if you count all the individual works in each series.

    @Lee & Xtifr: Interesting observation on how lists gets built. On the other hand, this is from a bookseller (so focused on books in print), which can explain this pattern. Lists in magasines or other types of web sites might give another pattern.

    It is also interesting that this list managed to get a female majority, lots of PoC, and at least one queer writer on it.

  12. @Lis Carey

    🙁

    Sending best thoughts and hopes your way. Not dead is better than the alternative but wish you to move to full on living again as rapidly as possible. Take care of yourself!

  13. @Mike: that was my reaction (re LSC3) to your table, with the thought that similar might apply to MACII.

    @Kevin: why is $50 the highest practical? A concom that feels its supporting costs were not covered (as LACon 2 complained when I tried to lower the fixed voting fee) could join with an uncontested bid to set any value they like, as I read the rules, since there’s no longer a fixed amount specified. Do you think a public outcry would drive down such an action?

    @Dann: factual re @6, but what would you offer in print? There’s something about visuals that makes villainy stand out (or perhaps carry over implausibilities?). I’d start by looking over Iain M. Banks titles (e.g., [trigger?] gur qvpgngbe jvgu n gehgu-frehz tynaq(?) arkg gb uvf cebfgngr fb ur pbhyq encr cevfbaref naq vawrpg gurz fvzhygnarbhfyl), but the cold Duke of Coffin Castle (from Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks) deserves notice, even if a former henchmen sneers at him as “the most aggressive villain I ever met”.

  14. (11) The two things that continue to astonish me about modern fascism is the way they lie to such a breathtaking extent and then turn around and accuse their opposition of being the liars. I continue to fail to understand how so many people are taken in by it.

  15. Five memorable SFF villains in print? Off the top of my head:-

    Steerpike (Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan and Gormenghast)
    Dr. Toto Smilax (John Sladek’s The Reproductive System)
    Baron Harkonnen (Frank Herbert’s Dune)
    Marc C. Duquesne (“Doc” Smith’s Skylark series)
    …. and all five of Jack Vance’s Demon Princes can have one slot. Time share or something.

    That’s off the top of my head. I’m sure everyone else will be able to come up with some better candidates.

  16. I was not going to go into so much “inside baseball,” but you did ask:

    Chip Hitchcock on January 22, 2017 at 7:29 am said:

    @Kevin: why is $50 the highest practical?

    Because the Advance Supporting Membership (Voting) Fee for their elections were $40. (That rate was set by unanimous agreement of the administering Worldcon and the bid(s), per WSFS Constitution section 4.2.2.) Section 1.5.6 prohibits Worldcons from charging more than 125% of their ASM for supporting memberships until 90 days prior to their convention. Therefore, as long as there is a political consensus to charge no more than $40 to cast a site selection ballot, supporting memberships aren’t going to cost more than $50.

    The higher costs for the ASM and thus the Supporting Membership were caused by the “multiplier” in Section 1.5.5 that set the maximum amount that Worldcons could charge voters for Attending Memberships for the first 90 days after their election. This amount is currently 4x the ASM/Voting Fee, but it used to be 2x. (Going back into the early 1990s, it was 1x.) In order to protect themselves from being forced to sell attending memberships for less than the likely variable cost of providing them, Worldcon runners familiar with how the various sections of the Constitution interacted and forced them to charge more than they wanted advocated to raise the multiplier. This allowed bidders to charge less to vote while still selling attending memberships at the same prices.

    (Yes, the result of raising the multiplier was to lower the cost of supporting memberships. This was not intuitive to some people, including some Worldcon runners of long experience, who assumed that committees would always charge the highest possible amount they could charge.)

    The current cost of supporting memberships is a function of how much it costs to buy an Advance Supporting Membership in order to vote on that Worldcon’s site selection, including how much the administering Worldcon will allow the bids to charge. It would appear that most Worldcon bids currently don’t want to charge much more (or less) than $40 to vote.

  17. (6): T-1000 was pretty scary – agreed. But he couldnt hold a torch for Yul Brynner in Westworld imho.
    With novels – How about Rife from Snow Crash?

    – Kong: I am not interested in the movie, but it does feature two of my favorite actors: Jackson and Goodman and so I might fold.

  18. Forgive me for not footnoting everything I write. The current rules of the World Science Fiction Society are on the Constitution/Rules page of the WSFS web site. You can also get to that page by going to wsfs.org and clicking on “Constitution/Rules” on the main menu bar that runs along the top of the page.

  19. Even though the villain is more interesting, social conventions require that the hero is the main character. Which is too bad; the villain rarely gets the quantity and depth of characterization we would like.

    In The Death of the Necromancer (by Martha Wells) Nicholas Valiarde, is a criminal mastermind, obsessed with revenge. He is a classic villain. And he is the main character. How is it that we can have our cake and eat it too? Simple: This is a fantasy novel and there are far worse things than mere mortal villains.

  20. @ Karl: I was expecting that. It’s not that white male writers don’t get into those themes, but the books that get the buzz tend to be from female and/or PoC authors.

  21. @Tom Becker: I interpreted The Death of the Necromancer as, roughly, a Sherlock Holmes story from the viewpoint of Moriarty.

  22. (11) Niemeier is clearly getting enthusiastic about this new idea of “offering alternative facts”.

  23. Peter J: (11) Niemeier is clearly getting enthusiastic about this new idea of “offering alternative facts”.

    What is so amusing is how the Puppies, having passed into irrelevance at this point, still keep desperately trying to make the Hugos be about them. 😀

  24. 1) When I was at the assembly point for the San Jose march, I saw a woman wearing a James Tiptree Junior Award jacket. She looked more than a little familiar, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her, and didn’t see her again. I’m still wondering who that was.

    6) For literary SFF, I would pick the following:
    Baron Harkonnen (Dune)
    The Lady (The Black Company)
    Dracula
    Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
    Dr. Impossible. (Soon I will be Invincible)

  25. @Kevin: Going back into the early 1990s, it was 1x. I’m pretty sure it was 1990; 2x (on top of the supporting membership) was first passed in 1989, relating to my one foray into WSFS rules. Ted White probably said something stupid about it (as he did about the very modest amount of money that N2 took home in 1978), but by that time nobody was listening.

    @Peter J: you mean, like the Trumpster’s press secretary offering alternative turnstile counts for the DC subway?

  26. Chip Hitchcock on January 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm said:

    @Kevin: Going back into the early 1990s, it was 1x. I’m pretty sure it was 1990;

    Yes. I’m sorry I didn’t give more footnotes. I started to write, but left out:

    The 1990 Worldcon site selection in The Hague selected the 1993 Worldcon (San Francisco), which was the the last covered by the 1x multiplier as I recall. Consequently, my future wife ended up being the very last person to buy a Worldcon attending membership at 1x the voting fee, when I sold it to her at Norwescon just before we closed sales and the price went up. The 1990 Site Selection voting fee (we hadn’t yet changed the name to Advance Supporting Membership) was US$22. (It was also GBP18.50 or NLD48; no, it wasn’t a round figure in any of the three accepted currencies, for complex reasons that made sense at the time. Because no provision was made for making change, I ended up taking several hundred guilders in fifty-guilder bills down to the hotel where I was staying, which had a casino attached, putting on my suit jacket (you had to wear a suit to get into the casino), and getting the notes changed into guilder coins so we could make change for all of the people trying to vote with 50-guilder notes.)

    So Lisa’s attending membership (like anyone else who voted and converted before the price went up) to the 1993 Worldcon was a mere $44, which is about $83 today.

  27. Peer Sylvester: re “he couldn’t hold a torch for Yul Brynner in Westworld imho” — I think you’re confusing the expressions “couldn’t hold a candle to” and “carrying a torch for.” The former appears to be what you mean.

  28. @Jim Parish: Absolutely, Nicholas Valiarde is based on Moriarty. And Inspector Ronsarde is Ile-Rien’s own Sherlock Holmes. But the plot is very different from a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Bar bs gur qrgnvyf V sbhaq zbfg qryvtugshy vf gung Avpubynf vf n gbgny Vafcrpgbe Ebafneqr snaobl.

  29. @Chip,

    While not trying to define a “top 5” or some such thing, I’d use these as examples of some more nefarious characters from literature.

    Old School – Big Brother from 1984. Anyone that can get you to enthusiastically claim that two plus two equals anything but four is downright evil.

    Newish School – Bayaz, First of the Magi from Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy. He is presented as more of a protagonist through most of the series, but when you look back on his actions……not a nice guy.

    Also, as I just finished Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption, Konig Furimmer and Erbrechen Gedanke. [shiver] Their delusions cross a lot of red lines as do their demands on their followers.

    Regards,
    Dann

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