Pixel Scroll 12/22 I Saw Mommy Reading Pixel Scroll

(1) IN SFWA TIMES TO COME. Cat Rambo in “What I’m Hoping For SFWA in 2016” tells about the organization’s accomplishments and shortfalls in 2015, and what the future holds. Here’s an excerpt from each category —

SFWA’s 2015 Accomplishments

We hammered out membership criteria that didn’t just include writers publishing independently or with small presses but made us the first organization to consider crowdfunded projects as a publication path. That’s led to an influx of new members and fresh energy that’s been delightful to be part of….

Some Bad Stuff

The lack of a plan behind the 50th Anniversary Anthology finally sank that project when our CFO and I realized that the books would have to sell for 84.50 each in order to break even….

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

M.C.A. Hogarth has been a terrific Vice President, proactive and self-guided. One of her projects is a guidebook for SFWA members that explains everything: how to join the discussion forums, how to nominate for the Nebulas, how to participate in the Featured Book Program on the website, who to mail with directory issues, etc. That will appear in 2016 and I think it will be a bit of a revelation to us all….

Rambo ends with Henry Lien’s anthem “Radio SFWA,” which I must say I am a huge fan of, whatever it may do for anybody else…. (The lyrics appear when you click “show more” at the song’s YouTube page.)

(2) RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands unprecedented award nomination” reports Polygon.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already shattered plenty of box office records, but the movie has also made history by reportedly earning an unprecedented nomination from the Broadcast Critics Association.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Association made the historic move to include the film as the eleventh contender for their Best Film award. The nomination list had come out eight days before The Force Awakens was released, effectively shutting the film out entirely. Usually, films must be submitted during a specific voting period and those that don’t meet the deadline aren’t considered at all.

(3) GOOD FOR A QUOTE. Academic Henry Jenkins, who appeared as a witness in The People Vs. George Lucas, explains “What We Talk About When We Talk about Star Wars” at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

This blog post might be subtitled “The Pretentious Ass Strikes Back.” Here’s a story we tell in my family.

In 1977, Cynthia Ann Benson, an undergraduate at Georgia State University, has signed up for a class on film theory and criticism, with some nervousness about whether it will take the pleasure out of going to the movies. On the first day of class, the instructor — Jack Creech — is late, and a group of students are gathered outside the classroom. This guy — you know the one — another undergraduate student  is standing around making assertions about gender, race, and technology in the recently released Star Wars movie to anyone who will listen and to many who would probably rather not be listening. She goes off after class and writes a letter to her best friend describing “this pretentious ass pontificating about the social significance of Star Wars” as summing up everything that made her fearful of cinema studies.  It took me several years to overcome that unfortunate first impression and get her to go out on a date with me. We’ve now been married for almost 35 years.

So, it was some ironic glee that I accepted the invitation of the media relations folks at USC to be put on a list of experts who could talk to the media about Star Wars. I found myself doing some dozen or more interviews with reporters all over the world in the week leading up to the release of A Force Awakens, filling them in about the impact which the Star Wars franchise has had over the past few decades.

(4) HE’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK FOLKS. James H. Burns sent an email to ask: “Hey, Mike, do you know why I’ll be wearing a deerstalker cap on the 25th?”

The answer: “Because I’ll be Holmes, for Christmas.”


(6) HIGH CASTLE TO CONTINUE. Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle has displaced Titus Welliver-starrer Bosch as its most-watched original according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The show’s pilot also has been streamed more times than any other pilot in Amazon history. The company announced a few days ago it has renewed the show for a second season.

(7) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Pit your wits against “Orbit’s Ultimate 2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Quiz” at Playbuzz. Multiple choice questions, for example:

Fans visited the Discworld for the last time this year, with Terry Pratchett’s final book, The Shepherd’s Crown, released in August. If you were to visit Ankh Morpork, how would you recognise the city’s crest? It contains…

JJ says, “In my opinion, it’s way too heavy on media (Film, TV, comics) and Game of Thrones, but I’m sure a lot of Filers will do well on it.”

(8) BIG NAME ZOMBIE WRITERS. Jonathan Maberry and George Romero are joining forces to edit Rise of the Living Dead, an anthology of all-original stories set in the 48 hours surrounding Romero’s landmark film.

Rise of the Living Dead will be published by Griffin, and will include stories by Brad Thor, Brian Keene, Chuck Wendig, David Wellington, George Romero, Isaac Marion, Jay Bonansinga, Joe Lansdale, Joe McKinney, John Russo, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mike Carey, Mira Grant (pen name of Seanan McGuire), Neal Shusterman & Brandon Shusterman, and Sandra Brown & Ryan Brown.

(9) LEWIS PART THREE. Matthew David Surridge unveiled “Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part III: Dymer” at Black Gate.

In 1922 C.S. Lewis recorded in his diary that he had “started a poem on ‘Dymer’ in rhyme royal.” His phrasing’s interesting: a work “on” Dymer, as though it were a well-known subject. “Dymer” was already a familiar story to him. He’d written it out in prose in 1917, one of his first mature prose works to use modern diction and avoid the archaisms of William Morris’ novels. Late in 1918 he wrote in a letter that he’d just completed a “short narrative, which is a verse version of our old friend Dymer, greatly reduced and altered to my new ideas. The main idea is that of development by self-destruction, both of individuals and species.” Nothing of this version seems to have survived in the 1922 poem, which was finished in 1925 and published in 1926 to mixed reviews.

(10) HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS. After viewing “Boston Dynamics’ Robo-Dogs Pulling a Sleigh is a Terrifying Glimpse of Christmas Future”, Will R. asked, “Do electric puppies dream of…wait…where was I?”

I love the possibility of a Christmas battle royal between the Robo-Dogs and the regiment of parading Krampuses – it would be the real life equivalent of that Doctor Who episode where the Daleks fought the Cybermen….

(11) PARTYARCHS. Because the MidAmeriCon II Exhibits team will be helping people throw parties in the Worldcon’s event space, rather than have them in hotel rooms, they are inviting people to an advance discussion —

Hi all you party throwers!

At MidAmeriCon II, we are going to have a different party setup and we have some questions to ask of you and answers to share with you.

Please subscribe to our party-discussion mailing list by sending an email to party-discuss-join@midamericon2.org with the subject line of SUBSCRIBE.

Even if you aren’t going to throw a party, we are interested in your insight and advice.

(12) BOND ON ICE. James H. Burns calls”Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” from the sixth James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “Perhaps the most unusual song in a James Bond film.” Nina Van Pallandt is the singer.

The song played behind this action scene:

(13) RECOMMENDATION SITE. Ken Marable’s 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season is working its way through every category week at a time. It just wrapped up the Best Fanzine recommendations.

Previously covered – Best Semiprozine, Best Fan Writer, Best Professional Artist, and Best Editor (Short Form). See the schedule at the site for when others will be covered.

(14) BOIL’EM, BAKE ‘EM, STICK ‘EM IN A STEW. Peru’s Centro Internacional de la Papa will learn how to grow “Potatoes on Mars”.

A team of world-class scientists will grow potatoes under Martian conditions in a bid to save millions of lives.

The experiment, led by the International Potato Center (CIP) and NASA, is a major step towards building a controlled dome on Mars capable of farming the invaluable crop in order to demonstrate that potatoes can be grown in the most inhospitable environments.

The goal is to raise awareness of the incredible resilience of potatoes, and fund further research and farming in devastated areas across the globe where malnutrition and poverty are rife and climbing….

By using soils almost identical to those found on Mars, sourced from the Pampas de La Joya Desert in Peru, the teams will replicate Martian atmospheric conditions in a laboratory and grow potatoes. The increased levels of carbon dioxide will benefit the crop, whose yield is two to four times that of a regular grain crop under normal Earth conditions. The Martian atmosphere is near 95 per cent carbon dioxide.

(15) FISHER. “Han Jimbo” (James H. Burns) says this interview with Carrie Fisher from earlier in the month is just delightful.

(16) CINEMATIC COAL LUMP. ‘Tis the season to remember what is generally regarded among the worst movies ever made.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians can be viewed free online. (As if you would pay to see it!)

(17) WAY OF THE HOBBIT. Ebook Friendly draws our attention to the “Following the Hobbit trail (infographic)”.

Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia, has released a fantastic infographic that will let you study the timeline of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The visual was prepared for Quirk Books by Michael Rogalski.


[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., James H. Burns, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Gregory N. Hullender for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

134 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/22 I Saw Mommy Reading Pixel Scroll

  1. I think “Song in a Minor Key” is the only Northwest Smith story whose plot James Nicoll wasn’t able to summarize with the sentence “Things end badly, but not for Smith.”

    See also ‘Quest of the Starstone’, where Smith’s mansel In distress gambit fails completely on Jirel, who has, after all, fed better men than Smith to demons.

  2. @Joe H.: Possibly! The movie in question would’ve been hitting a small-town Pennsylvania theater in the early 1970s, possibly as a holiday rerun, possibly as a first run. If it’s the one you linked, it must exist in a dubbed edition.

    I also missed a dramatic pause! It was “Christmas! Is not coming! I think!” The vowel in “think” was definitely drawn out toward more of a long-e sound, so a native-Spanish speaker is a possibility.

  3. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” was given a special showing in the small city where I was growing up, when I was somewhere around 7-9 years old, not in one of the 2 local cinemas but in the new theatre where stage plays and such were presented. I remember it was kind of a neat event, a theatre full of kids in nice new seats, but I don’t remember much about what I made of the movie. Funny to see all these references to that film, which I had just about forgotten.

  4. @Camestros: That card is amazing. Thank you!

    @David Shallcross:

    What do people like for the Fancast Retro-Hugo?

    As god is my witness, I read that as “Fascist Retro-Hugo.” And you know, for the 1941 award that would be quite a contest.

    Re Plan 9: I wrote a poem about it years ago, and IIRC someone published it, but I can’t find a copy online. Oh well!

  5. @Jim Henley — Yes, a dubbed version exists. More importantly, an MST3K version (which is how I saw it) exists.

  6. @Bruce: yeah, I love how kittens,watch you like they’re fascinated by evey little thing you do! Stared at intently while watering the plants… Wait till you try to sweep and they’re chasing the broom around the floor.

  7. Saw the new Star Wars film and wasn’t overly impressed. It was better than the prequel movies in most respects, but the fact that a rank novice almost instantly mastered things that took previous force masters years, even decades, to master was tough to swallow. Add to that the fact that she was also portrayed as an equal pilot to Solo despite living the majority of her life as a scavenger on a desert planet and an equal mechanic to Chewbacca despite the fact that the MF was a customized antique from her perspective and it made it even worse.

    Rey, for all intents and purposes, is the dreaded Mary Sue character writ large.

  8. Xtifr said:

    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians may be the worst Christmas movie ever, but there are definitely worse movies.

    MST3K even tracked down a worse Christmas movie a few years later: Santa Claus, a Mexican movie in which Santa competes with a demon for the faith of a little girl.

  9. @Petréa: That is evey kind of awesome, and I say that as someone who doesn’t even like Star Wars.

  10. Petréa Mitchell on December 23, 2015 at 9:30 am said:

    Has everyone read Star Wars: A New Hope told as an Irish legend yet?

    That is excellent. Inevitably but also preemptively, ‘Luke’ is recast as ‘Finn’ but the name I like best is in this bit: and possessed a great hound, Cú Bhacca.

  11. CU BHACCA! Thank you, Petrea.

    And merry Christmas to you to, Camestros, and Glob bless us every one.

  12. I’m blurring my eyes but I think I might have seen SPOILERS IN THE TWO POSTS ABOVE.

    I might have just made a fool of myself, but if, as that sorta kinda looked like, that was SPOILERS, please keep them in the spoilers thread.

  13. Sorry if I quoted spoilers! I haven’t seen it yet myself, so I didn’t really think about it. (To be honest, the Mary Sue accusation seemed so predictable from the minute the character was announced that it didn’t occur to me. I can’t name a girl in a lead role in twenty years who hasn’t been called a Mary Sue.)

  14. As for Rey and her Mary Sue-ness, I agree with Amoxtli – she’s no more a Mary Sue than any of the other characters in the series.

    Not to mention, there’s some not too subtle hints that there might be a bit more to her backstory than “was dumped on a desert planet, scavenged to survive until BB-8 rolls up.” I might be reading into it, but especially with the Force powers, it seemed less “sudden mastery” and more “reawakened skill.”

  15. Amoxtli: I reposted the two comments in the spoiler thread.

    Thank you, Mike. I probably won’t follow it there until I’ve seen the thing myself, but I’m glad to know it’s been escorted to a safe location. 🙂

  16. Aw man, been discussing the movie in enough “spoiler safe places” that I realized my comments are a bit spoilery as well. Hopefully nothing more than you get watching the trailer and knowing she’s a main character.

    If Mike (or other admins if there are any) want to nix my comment, that’s understandable. It’s too late for me to edit it, otherwise I would to either delete it or make it more vague.

    Edited: Just saw your post Mike. That’s fine either way. Personally, if I could, I would go back and delete my comment. I was so firm in avoiding spoilers before I saw the movie (even avoiding watching any trailers!), and it was nice. I hate to spoil that fun for anyone else.

  17. Ken Marable: I agree that the comment contains no info that isn’t apparent in the trailer. It’s fine where it is, so long as additional discussion of Mary Sue-ness moves to the spoiler thread.

  18. I have to say – and I haven’t seen the film myself, yet – that the revelation that a main character in a Star Wars movie is extra-specially amazingly special in extra-amazing special ways… doesn’t entirely come as a surprise.

    (If the discussion goes into specifics, though, I will put my fingers in my ears and hum. Which will not help much if I’m reading posts, but hey, it’s the principle of the thing.)

  19. This is going to be a late scroll day. I have to leave for my brother’s birthday celebration now. (He was one of the kids who had to deal with having a birthday so close to Christmas.)

    Try not to burn the place down! And keep those spoilers in the right thread….

    Also, George Clayton Johnson is in hospice care and may pass today (if he hasn’t already, though I am waiting for reliable word of that — many obits were published yesterday and he was still alive then). That’s definitely weighing in some of our thoughts, too.

  20. @Bruce – good luck leveling those noob battle pets.
    @Camestros – awesome animation!
    @Petrea – that was truly epic.

    Happy holidays, everyone, and now I’m so full of holiday cheer or Nyquil or something that all the fire has gone out of my “Rey is NOT a Mary Sue” counterargument; whether she is one or not, I like her anyway.

  21. In a few short hours I am due to set out on a lengthy drive that will culminate in my being ensconced in a house with a baker’s dozen of children. If I don’t get back on here before the 25th rolls around, I’m taking this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas.

  22. I haven’t seen Force Awakens yet, but I think that Luke was a bit of a Gary Stu back in Star Wars. After all a boy who had never left his outback farm can suddenly expertly fly a X-wing? A boy who in one scene seems really happy and surprised that he shot a tie fighter, later blows up the Death Star? Thinks hitting the exhaust hole while flying and avoiding enemy fire will be easy as shooting a rat(that I presume isn’t firing back) from a stationary position?

    Yup, I am calling it, Gary Stu! Gary Stu!

  23. I’d think that Luke did his bullseye shots on the womp-rats from some sort of speeder or flyer.

  24. The womp rat really needs to make an appearance in a Star Wars movie if it hasn’t already. Or don’t they exist much like the rodents of unusual size?

  25. I always figured Luke’s T-16 that he used to bull’s-eye womp rats in was some sort of civilian trainer for the X-Wing T-65. (I think that’s the right number. My memory’s not what it was, you know.)

  26. A friend of mine likes to claim that “womp rat” is actually a racial slur against Sand People.

    He also likes to claim that Wedge is the real hero of the movie. He had an elaborate and weirdly convincing narrative on it which of course I cannot now remember.

  27. Just arrived today so I’ve only skimmed it: Dry Season Only A Creative Sojourn A creative treatise of visions, words, and thoughts returned from the hinterlands of Botswana. Lots of great photos, drawings, and journals/stories by 11 artists, photographers, and storytellers of their trip in April 2015. One of the artists/storytellers is our very own Ursala Vernon whose illustrations are fantastic as you’d expect. Somehow I opened the book right to her drawings of donkeys… I mean birds (if you read it you’ll get the joke).

  28. @Camestros: How lovely! It’s officially the best Christmas card I’ve received.

    (3) I’d be more impressed with his BNF SW status if he could spell the names of the main characters correctly. “Hans” and “Lea”?! The hell, dude? I hope when he’s professoring, he doesn’t take off points when his students misspell stuff, or else he’s a giant hypocrite. Hmph.

    (6) I just now got Amazon streaming access, and as much of an SF geek as I am, I’m still watching “Bosch” first. PKD will have to wait. I don’t binge (I never watch more than 2 episodes of anything in a row, unless it’s a party), so it’ll be a while.

    (7) QUIZ. Waaay too much GoT. We don’t all have HBO or overseas equivalent.

    Am not yet ready to declare even a partial slate (hee hee hee) of Retro Hugos. Will be reading vonD’s files between Christmas and New Year’s.

    @Ken Marable: “If-Then-Else”, from “Person of Interest”. The Machine is a main character as well as the premise of the show — this is the first episode almost entirely from its POV. We see how it thinks, how it works, how it runs scenarios, and how it thinks of the people it works with. There are great bits of humor along the way. And the ending is… gah… (no spoilers) all the feels.

    @Wombat: and the axolotl is the second-best Xmas card!

    @Petrea: brilliant! Needs to be in the next Scroll, Mike. I even got most of the Irish ballad references. Cu Bhacca, LOL.

  29. @lurkertype

    +1 on PoI: If-Then-Else. This is at the top of my list for BDP: Short Form.

    I’m also trying to home in on an individual episodes of Daredevil (prob Cut Man), Jessica Jones (prob Smile) and Sense8 (no idea, possibly I Can’t Leave Her?), because though I think they work better as an entire season this year has been an embarrassment of riches for Long Form, and there are so many 800 pound gorillas there that I just can’t bring myself to inflict those poor shows in the same cage as them.

    I’ve also been really impressed with The Expanse, and Into the Badlands, but Man in the High Castle or Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell will probably wind up rounding up the top 5.

  30. Mike

    Take good care of yourself, watch out for all the drunken drivers, and remember that this wretched hive of scum and villainy has worked damn hard to earn this recognition of our proud tradition, and I, for one, feel that our Battle Flag deserves a few awards. Admittedly we need to create a Battle Flag in the first place, but I can assist should others feel their talents are not, as yes, ready for the task.

    Many and varied are the contests and challengers we have crushed below our chariot wheels, particulary when Boudicca was in town, and yet we go on. So, please don’t worry about us. Enjoy the birthday; I sympathise with your son for all the the reasons he mentioned.

  31. To OGH, and all Filers everywhere, who have provided so much entertainment and good fellowship since I began lurking here back in April – my best wishes for a thoroughly enjoyable time, however you choose to celebrate this Scrollstice season.

    And on that note, I shall get my coat and head homewards.

Comments are closed.