Pixel Scroll 2/14/21 Oh Mandalorian, You Came And You Gave Without Taking That Too-Cute Baby Yoda

(1) UNBOXING DAY. Juliette Wade’s copies have arrived!

(2) IF IT WASN’T FOR THE HONOR OF THE THING. John Scalzi unpacks his “General Unstructured Thoughts On ‘Being Cancelled’” at Whatever.

…2. ‘Canceling’ is certain people discovering that capitalism doesn’t love them as much anymore. I don’t want to say that capitalism is value-neutral, because, whoooooo boy, it is not, buuuuuuut it is pretty much 100% percent accurate that capitalism will always, always, follow the money. And where is the money? Well, in America two decades into the 21st century, the large capitalist structures have decided that the money will be multicultural* and socially inclusive* and politically liberal*, and all those asterisks are there because it should be understood that the capitalist take on each of these concepts is heavily modified and strained through the “to the extent we can make money off this” filter, i.e., don’t expect capitalism to lead us to a multicultural American utopia, just expect it to be happy to rent-seek inclusively on the way there….

(3) ANCESTORS. Ann Leckie is interested in genealogy. Look who fell out of her family tree —

(4) IT’S NOT BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND. At Vector, Paul Kincaid tries to deduce the elusive answer to “When Was Westworld?”

There is no particular issue with the timeline of the original 1973 film, Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton. It is set in the then near future, 1983, and the linear action takes place entirely within the Delos theme park. But when the film became the basis for the television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld (2016-present), time became a complex and confusing issue.

Nolan had already displayed a rather cavalier attitude towards time in his earlier television series, Person of Interest (2011-2016). The first series, first broadcast in the autumn of 2011, was set in 2012, but contained multiple flashbacks to events over the previous decade. Although these flashbacks are often dated, it can be difficult to construct a coherent timeline for the two principal characters, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) and John Reese (Jim Caviezel). But when it came to Westworld, that tendency to play fast and loose with chronology became an often understated but defining characteristic of the series.

To date there have been three series of Westworld (it has subsequently been renewed for a fourth season)…each of which presents time in a different way, even though theoretically each is a direct sequel to the series before….

(5) GOONAN MEMORIAL SCHEDULED. There’ll be a Zoom memorial held for Kathleen Ann Goonan on March 7 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Register here. Those who wish to speak should reach out to Kathy.committee@gmail.com.

(6) SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE. HBO Max released a new trailer for The Snyder Cut of Justice League which includes new footage of Jared Leto as the Joker.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 14, 1988 — On this date in 1988 on BBC 2, the Red Dwarf series premiered. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor and it aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999, and on Dave since 2009. It is a sort of a SF comedy. We think. It’s based off Dave Hollins: Space Cadet, a BBC Radio 4 series. The official website explains the convoluted cast changes over three decades far better than we could. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent rating of eighty percent. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 14, 1906 – John Gould.  Three hundred interiors for us; much else in a long career for the pulps (so called because printed on cheap wood-pulp paper) and others e.g. RedbookThe Saturday Evening Post.  Advertising and fine art too.  Here is a cover for The Spider (no, not that one).  Here is an interior from the Jan 31 Astounding (illustrating C.D. Willard, “The Eye of Allah”).  Here is a 1948 toucan.  Here is a 1960 page for General Electric’s celestial-guidance system.  (Died 1996) [JH]  
  • Born February 14, 1919 – Dave Kyle.  A Pictorial History of SF and The Illustrated Book of SF Ideas and Dreams – a title which is like him.  Three novels, ten shorter stories.  A dozen anecdotes of “The Worldcon from the Beginning” (1939, 1956-57, 1962-63, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1982, 1986-88) in the souvenir book for Noreascon Three the 47th Worldcon; chaired NYCon II the 14th, was Fan Guest of Honor at ConStellation the 41st; by 2011 had attended more Worldcons than anyone else fan or pro.  Two dozen fanhistory articles in Mimosa; see here.  Big Heart (our highest service award; later administered it, 2000-16; after his death, named for him).  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  Notes by me here.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1925 – J.T. McIntosh.  A score of novels, a hundred shorter stories.  Journalist under another name.  I wish I could tell you that “Men Like Mules” was about Bel Riose, or even that “200 Years to Christmas” was about Eratosthenes, but it’s not so.  Nevertheless his early work warrants revival.  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 79. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a  novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time  and a novella, “The Calling” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone. (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1951 John Vornholt, 70. I was musing on the difference between fanfic and profic (if such a word exists) when I ran across this writer. He’s written in a number of media properties with the most extensive being the Trek verse where he’s written several dozen works, but he’s penned works also in the Babylon 5BuffyverseDinotopiaEarth 2Marvel metaverse… Well you get the idea. All authorized, but really no different than fanfic on the end, are they? Other than they pay a lot better. (CE) 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 69. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts she did when she was Winter Queen at Green Man. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading. (CE) 
  • Born February 14, 1954 – Jeff Easley, age 67.  A hundred covers, two dozen interiors.  Here is the Jul 84 Amazing.  Here is the Dec 98 Dragon.  Here is Legions of Space.  Here is Empire of Imagination.  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 58. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting as it that excellent series. (CE) 
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 51. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the new Star Trek franchise. His first foray into genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late gernre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise. (CE) 
  • Born February 14, 1972 – Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, age 49.  A novel (won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize) and two shorter stories for us; another novel, eight other shorter stories.  “I’m always looking and hoping for the swerve [alluding to Joan Retallack].”  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1975 M. Darusha Wehm, 46. New Zealand resident writer who was nominated for the Nebula Award and won the New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel Award for The Martian Job novel. They say it’s interactive fiction. You can read the standalone prequel novella, Retaking Elysium, on their website which can be found here. (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1991 – Roshani Chokshi, age 30.  Nine novels (three NY Times Best-Sellers), half a dozen shorter stories; two poems in Strange Horizons and Uncanny.  Top of her class in law school, so dropped out and wrote.  Greek and Hindu myth, magic in 19th Century Paris.  Has read EmmaFrankensteinIvanhoeLolitaMoby-Dick, M. Tatar’s Annotated GrimmComplete Stories & Poems of Lewis Carroll.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows how kaiju celebrate Valentine’s Day.
  • Sarah C. Andersen thinks the action really happens on Valentine’s Night.
  • Lar De Souza depicts the surprising truth:

(10) NOTES FROM A BOSKONE 58 INTERVIEW.

(11) THE JETSONS. SYFY Wire eavesdrops as “SpaceX founder Elon Musk teases a lofty Tesla upgrade in the future” in a podcast.

During a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Musk commented that he’d love to have upcoming Tesla Roadster hover “like a meter above the ground.”  Musk always makes the most of his visits to Rogan’s online program and it’s usually a treasure of interesting antics and sound bites.

“Maybe it can hover like a meter above the ground, or something like that,” he explained to the popular comedian and host. “If you plummet, it’ll blow out the suspension, but you’re not gonna die.”

Clearly not completely satisfied with the Roadster’s current roster of options, Musk has previously claimed that a next-generation version might be offered with a SpaceX package with rocket-like thrusters employing pressurized air to assist in acceleration, deceleration, and handling.

(12) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. “Archaeologists unearth world’s oldest known beer factory in Egypt”Yahoo! has the story.

American and Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed what could be the oldest known beer factory at one of the most prominent archaeological sites of ancient Egypt, a top antiquities official said on Saturday.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the factory was found in Abydos, an ancient burial ground located in the desert west of the Nile River, more than 280 miles south of Cairo.

He said the factory apparently dates back to the region of King Narmer, who is widely known for his unification of ancient Egypt at the beginning of the First Dynastic Period (3150BC-2613BC)….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “How Wonder Woman 1984 Should Have Ended” on YouTube, the How It Should Have Ended team takes on the many problems of Wonder Woman 1984.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Scott Edelman, JJ, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

44 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/14/21 Oh Mandalorian, You Came And You Gave Without Taking That Too-Cute Baby Yoda

  1. 2) There are two things that often get referred to as “cancel culture” and I think they get conflated a lot to their detriment– one is “Evidence has surfaced that Celebrity is terrible; I won’t give them money anymore!” and the other is the internet harassment mobs going after smaller creators in a way that’s well out of proportion to whatever the perceived wrong is. I was initially confused by Scalzi’s essay because my primary mental referent for “cancel culture” is the second thing.

    11) And yet, no one ever seems to feel the need to call Musk on his obvious grandiosity and promising of things that will never happen. The correct response was “Right, like you promised a functioning fully-autonomous car?”

  2. (3) You can find a lot of genealogies on the internet that get into mythology, just because legends (and storytellers like Geoffrey of Monmouth) have lists of names. Don’t believe them. Genealogists haven’t been able to take European ancestry back that far – though you can certainly get back a long way.
    (Insert story about the guy who showed up at a genealogy society meeting and was preening on having proved he was a descendant of Charlemagne…and got miffed when people snickered. Because if you can get to just about any royalty in Europe, you can get to Charlemagne. It’s the people you find in between who are interesting.)

  3. Cora Buhlert says Simon Pegg is one of only two actors who managed the geek hattrick and appeared in Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who. The other is Deep Roy.

    I heard this before and I must say I was surprised that it’s such a small number given the vast number of performers on all three franchises, especially the secondary characters. I often find that those performers show up on multiple genre productions.

    Now watching: season thirteen of CSI

  4. There are plenty of people who’ve been in two of the three franchises, but only two who were in all three.

    The one actor they really need to cast in Star Trek is Julian Glover, cause he was not only in Star Wars and Doctor Who, but also in Game of Thrones, the James Bond series, Harry Potter, The Avengers (John Steed and Emma Peel, not the Marvel ones) and lots of other things, which would make him the king of geek media.

  5. @12. “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Attributed to Dr. Benjamin Franklin.

  6. Cora Buhlert says The one actor they really need to cast in Star Trek is Julian Glover, cause he was not only in Star Wars and Doctor Who, but also in Game of Thrones, the James Bond series, Harry Potter, The Avengers (John Steed and Emma Peel, not the Marvel ones) and lots of other things, which would make him the king of geek media.

    Oh and he showed up in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Blake’s 7, For Your Eyes Only and Space: 1999 as well to name some of his other genre roles. He’s been around a lot.

  7. (8) Simon Pegg also co-wrote and co-stars in the genre pub-crawl movie The World’s End (2013), and is co-creator/writer and appears in the immensely entertaining Truth Seekers (2020), with Nick Frost leading a terrific cast. I hope we get a second season.

  8. (12) proving that beer has been around since shortly after people found barley. It had to have been popular, for a brewery that size!

  9. What Franklin said was (translated from a letter he wrote in French),

    Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!

    .

  10. 11) And yet, no one ever seems to feel the need to call Musk on his obvious grandiosity and promising of things that will never happen. The correct response was “Right, like you promised a functioning fully-autonomous car?”

    What, fully reusable rockets that land themselves on barges the size of postage stamps in the middle of the ocean isn’t enough for you?

  11. (8) Simon Pegg also co-wrote the genre-drenched tv series Spaced with co-star Jessica Hynes.

  12. Stealthy new Trigger story appeared at the beginning of the weekend, and may have been missed by people (over in Susan’s Salon, there was at least one who’d missed it).

    In re Pegg, I must be well out of touch, because I had forgotten that he’s in the new Star Trek (I think this is because I am actively trying to forget that JJ Abrams and anything he’s made actually exists). I think of him as “the Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz / The World’s End / Paul” guy (he was also in a sitcom I have seen a few episodes of).

  13. 11) Elon Musk has said he is a fan of the Culture books, which he has demonstrated by naming some of his SpaceX drone vehicles in Banks’ outlandish fashion. But obviously some people (including me) question whether he understood the novel’s pro-socialist messages.

  14. Ingvar says In re Pegg, I must be well out of touch, because I had forgotten that he’s in the new Star Trek (I think this is because I am actively trying to forget that JJ Abrams and anything he’s made actually exists).

    Are you forgetting that he’s responsible for the most excellent Hugo nominated Fringe series?

  15. @ Cat Eldridge:

    I have seen scattered episodes of Fringe and was curious to watch more, until I realised that JJ Abrams was attached to it.

    My understanding is that the usual JJA pattern applies. There’s lots of things that gets piled on top of one another, without anything like a “long-term plan” and eventually, most of the questions you want answer to are left unanswered and the sheer weight of unanswered things makes everything bog down.

    This is what made me stop watching that “people saw a glimpse of the future” TV serial, that otherwise seemed promising. This is why I lost interest in watching Lost. Until it was revealed that Nolan was being Person of Interest, I could’ve sworn that it was a JJA production, because I saw the first 2-3 episodes of the first season, and the same pattern was evident.

    I am happy that his story-telling style works for other people. Me, it leaves pretty cold (and, yes, I am aware that he’s been working on some of the “third trilogy” Star Wars films, I am actually unlikely to re-watch them).

  16. (3) I know that the ^Anglo-Saxon Chronicle* gives descent from Woden to several of the royal lines of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, including ancestors of the current British royal family (at one point the Normans married descendants of the Anglo-Saxons). Does anybody know, offhand, a source for descent from Joseph of Arimathea?

  17. Probably unsurprisingly, the ancestral path that led to Joseph was British–the path led from Boudicca to her mother, a supposed daughter of his. I had never before run across that particular detail in the legendary versions of JoA’s visit to Britain, and a casual Google doesn’t run across any other mention of it, so I kind of wonder if someone decided to enter it into a database somewhere on a genealogical whim.

    Incidentally, I have at least two paths to Odin, but only one of them runs through Sigfried Fafnirsbane.

    I don’t know, I kind of get the feeling the family tree isn’t entirely accurate.

  18. @Rob Thornton: Musk gets to personally experience living in a post-scarcity economy. The rest of us, not so much.

  19. @David Shallcross
    None that have a basis in reality. In western Europe, almost everything before 800CE is myth. (A lot of the genealogies of the 17-19th centuries are unreliable – they paid for connections, so they got them.)

    I hang out in the medieval genealogy news group; they’re good at sorting things out based on documents and what can reasonably be inferred from them.

  20. 10) For the record, it was Joe Hill. Mur wanted to fangirl but was embarrassed. She asked me how I’d do it, I said “I dunno, let’s find out!” and dragged her over, introduced us both, and with very little prompting launched into my Exciting Hyena Facts spiel, which he listened to politely while Mur attempted to sink into the ground and die.

    I keep telling her that she now has the best conversational opening in perpetuity—“Hi, I’m the one whose friend told you about how hyenas give birth through erectile clitorises, I really want to apologize,” but some people just aren’t grateful.

  21. @Ingvar: Abrams wasn’t associated in any way with FlashForward, and he was basically uninvolved with Lost after the first season. Since the meandering story of Lost is the main thing people cite in these “Abrams ruined TV storytelling!” arguments, I can’t help thinking that they’re a wee bit misdirected.

    TV drama used to be much more episodic, then serialized story arcs became more of a thing, and now they’re expected. An unsurprising consequence of this trend is that now if a show with a flexible genre premise starts out not having a very specific ultimate plot goal to aim at, it will end up piling on a lot of mysteries early on to get people hooked, and will probably be unable to follow through on many of them, leading to the kind of viewer frustration you’re talking about. Abrams was in no way the inventor or leading practitioner of this; Twin Peaks and The X-Files were there way ahead of him, and it had been a thing in comic books for long before that, since they’d gone all-in on overlapping serialized story arcs long before TV did.

    Tl/dr: Abrams has been associated with some projects that have this issue not because he’s the causal agent, but because he’s been associated with a lot of genre TV projects and it’s a common issue in genre TV in general. And because, when asked about story structure at one point, he used the phrase “mystery box” to describe this fairly common approach and lots of people assumed that must be a thing he invented.

  22. @Ingvar – I don’t mean to pick on you in particular, yours is a very commonly expressed opinion, I just find it frustrating. I am more perplexed by your reference to Person of Interest, to the point where I wonder if you’re confusing it with another show, because the first season was a pretty straightforward procedural case-of-the-week show with one big genre element (computer predicts crimes) and one totally standard bit of mystery in the setup (spy/cop/soldier has traumatic past) and not the slightest hint of the complicated SF conspiracy show it would later become.

  23. @Rochrist: The impressiveness of Musk’s existing accomplishments doesn’t detract from the fact that he keeps promising accomplishments that are unrealistic. Remember Hyperloop?

    @Eli: Twin Peaks going off the rails was a problem of the network executives mucking with the director’s intended storyline, not one of not having a storyline– the director had intended for the point to be the murder never being solved and how the characters dealt with the unsolved murder; the executives thought that was unsatisfying and forced him to change it, which he did halfheartedly because he didn’t want that to be the story he was telling.
    (And the one I cite for Abrams is Alias, which actually was heavily involved in.)

  24. @kit harding Ah, but they’re only unrealistic until they aren’t any longer. I’d be willing to be that people told him he couldn’t reuse a booster a dozen times while landing it after every flight on a barge in the middle of the ocean. Until SpaceX did it. Obviously he makes grand predictions and many of them don’t come to fruitition but he’s definitely pushing the envelope forward. Obviously, he’s a pretty repellent person, I just think his accomplishments shouldn’t be dismissed because of it.

    Re: hyperloop, there seem to be an awful lot of companies investing an awful lot of money in it to dismiss it just yet. For example: Vigin Hyperloop

  25. I loved Fringe and wouldn’t say that it was evidence of J.J. Abrams having no long-term plan. It was just a plan that got more complicated and goofy as time went on. It also had one of the most entertaining mirror universes in SF television, an enjoyable preoccupation with Jacksonville in its backstory and the genius of John Noble.

    As Eli said, Person of Interest began as a much different show than it finished. The first season was a straightforward save-the-random-person drama. I stopped watching in a later season before it changed. Friends who watched to the end keep telling me it was great.

  26. 12) all that experience and still Egyptian beer is the only stuff I’ve ever given 1 star to on untapped.

  27. @rochrist
    His ideas tend to start out big and then get smaller. Hyperloop was going to have trains, and now it’s more like small cars. Same with his Big Tunnel Idea: it’s gotten much smaller. (The problem he ran into in CA was not getting the permits before he started construction.) He’s good on ideas, but the execution tends to require him to get out of the command structure so people who have a clue can run it.

    Teslas have a problem with getting repaired. The parts aren’t available, because everything goes into building new ones, not fixing the broken ones (some of which have been waiting for months if not years). That needs to change before they become more than “rich guy’s display toy”.

  28. Fringe was a great show that wandered further and further from a clear plotline and an enjoyable conclusion, and definitely lost its way in the end. A flaw hardly exclusive to Abrams (Battlestar Galactica remake, anyone?)

    Person of Interest was a decent show that got better until I loved it, which mostly stuck the landing, and where it got clearer as it went that much of it had been planned out.

  29. Spent this last weekend at virtual Boskone, which was a lot of fun, though of course not the same as it would have been in-person. I got to attend Kaffeklatches with Oor Wombat and Rebecca Roanhorse, a reading by Joe Hill and Paul Tremblay, and an interesting panel on extreme astronomical events (black hole collisions and such) that featured Alastair Reynolds.

  30. @P J Evans: I wasn’t expecting a basis in reality, but perhaps a legend that pre-dated the 20th century, even if not as old as the Anglo-Saxon descents from Woden. But Thomas Malory, for example, has Joseph of Arimathea appearing to Galahad and claiming to be virginal (and so probably not having any children).

  31. David, that story goes back at least as far as the 13th century. (It got expanded over time.) Geoffrey of Monmouth gets a lot of blame for his stories about connections to ancient Rome. (Pretty sure the Romans didn’t all leave, but there aren’t any records that can show connection even to the legends. There are a lot of people who would like to have those connections, though.)

  32. Re Twin Peaks: There was a interview back during its initial run with Mark Frost and David Lynch, the two creators. The interviewer asked “Do you have this all plotted out or are you making it up as you go along?” Frost answered “it’s all plotted out” and Lynch said “we make it up as we go along.”

  33. I just finished Gwyneth Jones’ book about Joanna Russ (in the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series). Happy belated birthday, Gwyneth, and thank you for the present. It’s excellent.

  34. @ Eli,

    My start in watching “TV serials building to a final goal” was Babylon 5. Anything made more than 5 years later no longer has the excuse of “this has never been done before”.

    Honestly, I can’t at this point tell you what made me point out Person of Interest, apart from a recent mention in File770, where I could’ve sworn it was an Abrams thing and being surprised it wasn’t. Because it had that very same feel to it.

    I suspect it’s just a mode of story-telling that just does not work for me. I mean, I had a similar reaction to “Once upon a Time” (which, TTBOMK, has nothing to to with Abrams).

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