Pixel Scroll 2/8/20 Why Are There So Many Scrolls About Pixels, And What’s On The Other Side

(1) BRADBURY CENTENNIAL. Tomorrow at the 53rd California International Antiquarian Bookfair in Pasadena, Ray Bradbury will be celebrated by panelists Steven Paul Leiva, author, film producer, and long-time friend of Ray Bradbury, is the author of Searching for Ray Bradbury (2013), John F. Szabo, City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library and Chair of the OCLC Board of Trustees, Tim Powers, two-time winner of both the World Fantasy and Philip K. Dick awards, and Obadiah Baird, owner of The Book Bin in Salem Oregon, and editor/publisher of The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy.

Sunday, February 9

SOMETHING WONDERFUL THIS WAY CAME: 100 YEARS OF RAY BRADBURY
12:00 PM: Honoring the centennial of the celebrated science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s birth, our panel of experts explores his mastery of the subject and enduring legacy. This event is moderated by David Kipen, former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kipen opened the Boyle Heights lending library Libros Schmibros in 2010, contributed to multiple volumes of California cultural history, and teaches in the UCLA writing program.

(2) ALTERNATE HISTORICAL EXHIBITS. Patrick Coleman, Assistant Director of the Clarke Center, writer, and a former curator, will deliver a lecture at the San Diego Museum of Art titled “Imagination and the Museum: Alternate Interpretations” on February 21, 2020.

The talk will explore various alternate interpretations and practices within the museum experience that expand our definition of what is allowable knowledge in these spaces, making a case for that unique and sometimes misunderstood form of knowledge — imagination — as a key force for creating meaning in the museum experience.

The talk begins at 10:00 a.m. in the James S. Copley Auditorium of the San Diego Museum of Art. Tickets here.

(3) JEMISIN COMING TO SAN DIEGO. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in partnership with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host An Evening with N.K. Jemisin reading from her new novel The City We Became on April 3, 2020.

Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Jemisin will read from her latest and answer questions, with a signing to follow. Shelley Streeby (Professor at UC San Diego and Director of the Clarion Workshop) will introduce Jemisin. The event runs from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the MET Auditorium at UC San Diego. Tickets are required; $30.17 for one or two seats + one signed copy of The City We Became. Tickets are available here.

(4) GOING UP. CoNZealand’s Adult Attending Membership rate will increase from NZ$425 to NZ$450 on midnight, February 15, 2020 (NZT).

The cost of the other classes of memberships will remain the same. They are available for purchase through CoNZealand’s website.

(5) WHEN IN ROME. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes gets you current (in 1965) with Doctor Who: “[February 8, 1965] Roman Holiday (Doctor Who: The Romans)”.

This month, we’ve got a bit of a surprise in Doctor Who: comedy. Yes, comedy. Do not adjust your television set. We’ve got Dennis Spooner back in the writer’s chair, and it seems that Mr. Spooner is having a little experiment with the format. Does it work, or like the reign of so many emperors, does it fall apart and die an undignified death? Let’s find out.

(6a) CONRAD OBIT. Robert Conrad, who rode to genre fame playing a presidential agent with a private train car in The Wild Wild West, died February 8 at the age of 84. He also was in a few episodes of Mission: Impossible, otherwise throughout his prolific career he was usually cast as a detective, prosecutor, or Marine (Black Sheep Squadron).

(6b) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 8, 1964 Doctor Who premiered the first episode of  “The Edge of Destruction”.   Originally aired in two episodes, this was the first story to take part entirely with the TARDIS. Sometime referred as “ Inside the Spaceship”, it was commissioned as a filler episode in cased the show wasn’t renewed after its initial run. The premise is that something is inside the TARDIS causing The Doctor and his Companions to turn on each other. David Whitaker wrote it in two days and Verity Lambert and  Mervyn Pinfield were the producers for it, with Richard Martin directing the first episode and Frank Cox the second episode. It is recommended by Charlie Jane Anders at io9 as an excellent example of the classic series for new viewers to watch. 
  • February 8, 1968 Planet Of The Apes premiered at the Capital Theater in NYC. Based  on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 La Planète des singes, translated into English as Planet of the Apes, it was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and produced by Arthur Jacobs. It starred, as you well know, Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall,  Kim Hunter and James Whitmore. It was exceedingly well received then by reviewers and audiences alike, and currently holds a 90% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It was also a box office success Earning back twice what it cost to make on its initial release. And in 2001, Planet of the Apes was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 8, 1828 Jules Verne. So how many novels by him are you familiar with? Personally I’m on first-hand terms with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. That’s it. It appears that he wrote some sixty works and a lot were genre. And, of course, his fiction became the source for many other works in the last century as well. (Died 1905.)
  • Born February 8, 1905 Truman Bradley. He was the host of syndicated Science Fiction Theatre series which ran from 1955 to 1957. It aired its last episode on this day in 1957.  On Borrowed Time, a fantasy film, is his only other SFF work. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 8, 1918 Michael Strong. He was Dr. Roger Korby in the most excellent Trek episode of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” He also showed up in Green Hornet, Mission Impossible, I Spy (ok, I consider that genre even if you don’t), Galactica 1980, Man from Atlantis, The Six Million Dollar Man, Planet of The Apes, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Immortal. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 8, 1938 Ned Brooks. A Southern fan involved for six decades in fandom and attended his first Worldcon in 1963. Brooks’ notable fanzines included It Comes in the Mail. He wrote two associational works, Hannes Bok Illustration Index and Revised Hannes Bok Checklist back in the days when print reigned surpreme. ISDBF shows that he was quite the letter writer. Mike has an appreciation of him here. (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 8, 1944 Roger Lloyd-Pack. He was John Lumic in the “Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Steel”, both Tenth Doctor stories. (He was the voice of the Cyber-Controller in these episodes as well.) He was also Barty Crouch, Sr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And he played Quentin Sykes in the Archer’s Goons series. (Died 2014.)
  • Born February 8, 1953 Mary  Steenburgen, 67. She first acted in a genre way as Amy in Time After Time. She followed that up by being Adrian in A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy which I suppose is sort of genre though I’ll bet some you will dispute that. She shows up next in the much more family friendly One Magic Christmas as Ginny Grainger. And she has a part in Back to the Future Part III as Clara Clayton Brown which she repeated in the animated series. And, and keep in mind this is not a full list, she was also in The Last Man on Earth series as Gail Klosterman.
  • Born February 8, 1962 Malorie Blackman, 58. Her excellent Noughts and Crosses series explores racism in a dystopian setting. (They’re published as Black & White in the States.) She also wrote a Seventh Doctor short story, “The Ripple Effect” which was published as one of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary e-Shorts. She’s readily available on all digital platforms. 
  • Born February 8, 1969 Mary Robinette Kowal, 51. Simply a stellar author and an even better human being. I’m going to select Ghost Talkers as the work by her that I like the most. Now her Forest of Memory novella might be more stellar.  She’s also a splendid voice actor doing works of authors such as John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire and Kage Baker. I’m particularly amazed by her work on McGuire’s Indexing series. So let’s have Paul Weimer have the last words on her: ‘I thought it was Shades of Milk and Honey for a good long while, but I think Calculating Stars is my new favorite.’
  • Born February 8, 1979 Josh Keaton, 41. He voiced the Hal Jordan / Green Lantern character in the most excellent Green Lantern: The Animated series which is getting a fresh series of episodes on the DC Universe streaming service. Yea! I’m also very impressed with his Spider-Man that he did for The Spectacular Spider-Man series. 

(8) HALF AN HOUR FROM TARZANA. In “Edgar Rice Burroughs and The City of Los Angeles”  on CrimeReads, Steph Cha, in a preface to a new edition of The Girl From Hollywood, explains why Burroughs’s 1919 novel is an important book about Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Hollywood’s culture of sexual harassment.

…Burroughs’s outrage is strong and apparent. He recognizes the vulnerability of young naïve women trying to make it in Hollywood, and condemns the industry men who abuse their position and power. Unsurprisingly, though, his attitudes are far from feminist. He wants men to behave honorably and protect women: “It brought the tears to her eyes—tears of happiness, for every woman wants to feel that she belongs to some man—a father, a brother, or a husband—who loves her well enough to order her about for her own good,” and for women to maintain their sexual purity.

Burroughs has a lot of sympathy for Shannon, and that sympathy makes her a substantial protagonist, a flawed female character who is easy to root for—a bit of a feat for a pulp writer in the 1920s. …

(9) ON THE MENU FOR ARMAGEDDON. Eater chronicles “The Doomsday Diet: Meet the all-purpose survival cracker, the US government’s Cold War-era nutrition solution for life after a nuclear blast”. Wow. I remember coming across stacked cartons of these in the storage area of a department store where I worked in 1976.

…Other experiments were little more than publicity stunts, dreamed up by entrepreneurs who seized on public hysteria to market survival kits for basements and prefabricated shelters for backyards. Bomb Shelters, Inc., convinced Melvin Mininson and his new bride, Maria, to spend their honeymoon in Miami, 12 feet below ground in an 8-by-14-foot steel-and-concrete bunker; the pair emerged hot and dusty after 14 days, then promptly left for a real, company-paid, two-week honeymoon in Mexico. All told, during the peak of the fallout shelter craze, from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, the government tallied that some “7,000 volunteers had participated in over 22,000 man-days of shelter living in occupancy tests ranging from family size to over 1,000 people.”

These experiments ultimately produced enduring national standards for underground shelters, such as a minimum of 10 square feet of space per person — which, while only half the space allotted inmates in crowded jail cells, was more than three times the amount of space given to prisoners at the Nazis’ Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and six times as much space per person as inside the notorious Black Hole of Calcutta, the government explained helpfully in one report on shelter life. The tests also zeroed in on answers to fundamental questions that had plagued doomsday planners for more than a decade: What’s the minimum level of sustenance one needs to survive the apocalypse, and how do you get that to some 50 million hungry survivors?

…“This is one of the oldest and most proven forms of food known to man,” Paul Visher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civil defense, explained to Congress as he presented a plan to mass-produce the crackers. “It has been the subsistence ration for many portions of the earth for thousands of years. Its shelf life has been established by being edible after 3,000 years in an Egyptian pyramid.” After millions of dollars and years of research, it turned out that after a nuclear apocalypse, the remnants of the American civilization would survive by chowing down on whole-wheat crackers. The government dubbed its creation the “All-Purpose Survival Cracker.”

(10) SWEET MADNESS. Gastro Obscura tells what happens to people who gobble dow “Mad Honey”.

When bees feed on the pollen of rhododendron flowers, the resulting honey can pack a hallucinogenic punch.

It’s called mad honey, and it has a slightly bitter taste and a reddish color. More notably, a few types of rhododendrons, among them Rhododendron luteum and Rhododendron ponticum, contain grayanotoxin, which can cause dramatic physiological reactions in humans and animals. Depending on how much a person consumes, reactions can range from hallucinations and a slower heartbeat to temporary paralysis and unconsciousness.

There have been no modern deaths recorded from eating mad honey. But as rhododendrons flourish at high altitudes, and as the bees often nest on sheer cliffs, gathering the honey may be more dangerous than consuming it. In Nepal, honey hunters make dangerous vertical climbs—while enduring stings from enormous bees—to harvest mad honey. 

(11) DUALING GENRES. At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutigliano asks “‘The Outsider’ Is a Classic Monster Story. So Why Disguise It as a Detective Show?”

HBO’s new ten-episode miniseries The Outsider, based on the recent Stephen King novel of the same name, fundamentally operates on the requirement of doubleness: the principle that one thing can exist in two versions, similar in outward aesthetics but differing in nature and method. About a beloved small-town English teacher who is caught having committed a child-murder but who has an airtight alibi and fervently denies any connection to the violent, deplorable crime, The Outsider quickly suggests an explanation to its own impossible gambit: that there exists a shape-shifting doppelgänger-monster capable of taking on the exterior identity of another to easily pursue its own nightmarish agenda. Though there are lots of characters who inhabit peripheral spaces, this monster is the most likely candidate for the “Outsider” of the show’s title, partially for its being a stranger to the town, and partially for its being a stranger to this metaphysical realm, but also because of its behavior: indeed, it literally steals ‘outsides’ that belong to other people, in order to accomplish what it wants. 

[Thanks to PJ Evans, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

20 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/8/20 Why Are There So Many Scrolls About Pixels, And What’s On The Other Side

  1. @7 (Verne): I’ve also read The Green Flash (not genre, and very sappy), and IIRC The Mysterious Island (unclear it would be genre if not for the cameo+ by Captain Nemo).

    @7 (Kowal): I thought Shades of Milk and Honey interesting but slight; the series continued to improve, but Of Noble Family (much longer and something of a wrapup) was a major leap upward. OTOH, I wouldn’t argue against the Lady Astronaut books being her best work — until something new comes out, as ISTM she’s still growing as an author.

    @10: I remember Leslie Fish mentioning rhodendron honey as toxic in one of the last songs on her after-the-crash ~double-length cassette — although it required help from “amanita stew” to be fatal. Sounds like it’s a parallel to fugu in the eating, although AFAIK fugu is easier to harvest.

  2. Pixeling on the other side, where only Scrolls Hide.

    5th!

    Re Kowal (very kind to reference me). I still stand by that. I like to try and find the essential or entry book for an author, the one that as much as one with large oeuvre can do, speak about the author. Calculating Stars is that for Kowal, as I think Ancestral Night is for Bear (used to think that was Carnival but no longer).

  3. @Chip —

    @7 (Kowal): I thought Shades of Milk and Honey interesting but slight; the series continued to improve, but Of Noble Family (much longer and something of a wrapup) was a major leap upward.

    Yeah? I enjoyed the first couple of books in that series, but I never pursued it further. Maybe I should.

    OTOH, despite all the awards, I was not all that thrilled with Calculating Stars. The MC was waaaaaaay too much of a whiny Mary Sue for me, sorry!

    And I gotta be honest and say that Kowal’s narration on audiobooks gives me hives. In particular, she really should know better than to do any books that require accents — she has a completely tin ear so far as accents go. It’s downright embarrassing.

  4. 7) Mary Steenburgen’s most recent genre appearance was a cameo in the finale of The Good Place, where she played Ted Danson’s guitar instructor. (She’s Danson’s wife in real life.)

  5. (7) Minor correction: It’s “Archer’s Goon” (singular). There was only one ‘series’ as it was a straight adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ wonderful novel – and it’s a pretty good version of what is a modestly intricate story (hey, it’s DWJ, what would one expect?!) Although, as with many BBC shows, I’m not sure it’s ever been repeated or officially released?

  6. 7) I also did read From the Earth to the Moon, Around the Moon, The Mysterious Island and Michael Strogoff. Fond memories of them all.

  7. Has anyone noted the passing of Orson Bean a couple of days ago? He had a long career with a fair number of genre roles (including Dr. Lester in Being John Malkovich), but to me he’ll always be the voice of Bilbo Baggins from the 1977 Hobbit cartoon.

  8. @PJ —

    @Joe H
    I saw it, but didn’t think many people remembered him.

    Showing my age — I remember him best from reruns of old game shows. 🙂

  9. I remember those survival crackers. There were several enormous metal containers filled with them stored in my building’s basement, and when they got rid of them in the 1970s, I got one. Laboriously opening it with a screw driver, hammer and can opener, I lived on the contents for several months. They were wrapped in wax paper. Some of the crackers were broken, but they were all edible. They weren’t delicious, but they weren’t meant to be. I think they were made by Nabisco.

    This was in a period when I’d quit my job and was trying to live on the income from Algol and doing freelance proofreading and stuff. A very frugal time.

  10. Meredith Moment:

    Stephen R. Donaldson’s 2017 book, Seventh Decimate, is currently available for $1.99 at Amazon US.

  11. (7) I can’t recall the plot of a single episode of Science Fiction Theater, which I saw in reruns as a kid, but I’ve never forgotten Bradley’s distinctive voice and appearance from the intros and outros.

  12. PhilRM says I can’t recall the plot of a single episode of Science Fiction Theater, which I saw in reruns as a kid, but I’ve never forgotten Bradley’s distinctive voice and appearance from the intros and outros.

    Other than a single use of a Jack Finney story, “Such Interesting Neighbors”, it doesn’t appear that they, unlike say Outer Limits, made use of known genre authors.

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