Pixel Scroll 4/14/19 Pixel Scroll Title Lacks Gravitas

(1) PULL THE TRIGGER. NPR follows up on a recent Pixel: “‘Uncharted Waters’: Union Tells Hollywood Writers To Fire Their Agents.”

Thousands of Hollywood writers have been told by the Writers Guild of America to fire their agents — a drastic move that could impinge the production of new TV shows and films.

The abrupt directive on Friday followed a breakdown in negotiations over proposed changes to the agreement that has guided the basic business relationship between writers and agents for the past 43 years.

With talks stalled ahead of a midnight deadline, the WGA sent its 13,000 writers an email with instructions to notify their agents in writing that they cannot represent them until signing a new code of conduct.

…At the center of the conflict is a complaint among writers that their agents are not just drastically out-earning them, but preventing them from receiving better pay. The dispute threatens to hinder production at a time when the major broadcast networks are typically staffing up for their fall lineups. It could also lead to job losses in the industry.

“This whole fight is really about the fact that in a period of unprecedented profits and growth of our business … writers themselves are actually earning less,” said Goodman.

A main point of contention involves what are known as packaging fees, the money that agents get from a studio when they provide a roster of talent for a film or TV project. Traditionally, agents would earn a 10 percent commission for the work their clients receive from a studio. But with packaging fees, they are compensated by the studios directly. “They are not incentivized to increase the income of those writers,” Goodman said.

(2) TIME SCOUTS KICKSTARTER. “The Time Scouts Handbook” is the focus of a Kickstarter launched by 826LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.  They’ve raised $15,978 of their $20,000 goal with over three weeks to go.

Introducing THE TIME SCOUTS HANDBOOK, your guide to traveling the whatever of whenever from 826LA. Filled with over 80 pages of time travel tips, writing prompts, and other useful scout tips like space knots, the Time Scouts Handbook has been lovingly designed to explore the most important place in space and time – your imagination. 

With your help, we’ll not only create a print version of this manual for 21st century consumption, you’ll fund access to Time Scout programming for students across Los Angeles. 

Time Scouts and this handbook are part of 826LA, a very real nonprofit dedicated to supporting students and teachers across Los Angeles. It is definitely not a front for an intergalactic, time-traveling adventure organization called Time Scouts. Who told you that? Was it Frida? 

(3) SNAPCHAT GIMMICK. Is there a dragon landing pad on the roof of Tor.com headquarters?

(4) COMING ATTRACTIONS. You better believe it – there’s bank to be made! The Hollywood Reporter tells readers “Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy on Planning “Next 10 Years” of Star Wars Films”.

“We are looking at the next saga. We are not just looking at another trilogy, we’re really looking at the next 10 years or more,” Kennedy said.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson is developing a trilogy of films, while Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are crafting their own trilogy. 

“This [movie] is the culmination of the Skywalker Saga; it’s by no means the culmination of Star Wars,” said Kennedy. “I’m sitting down now with Dan Weiss and David Benioff…and Rian Johnson. We’re all sitting down to talk about, where do we go next? We’ve all had conversations about what the possibilities might be, but now we’re locking it down.”

This summit is on the calendar for next month, Kennedy said.

(5) SPACE COMMAND. Marc Zicree’s latest Mr. Sci-Fi video – “He Met Star Trek’s Uhura When He Was 10 — and Shows Her His Scrapbook 50 Years Later!”

Mr. Sci-Fi shares a very special moment on the Space Command shoot with Nichelle Nichols!

(6) PETS, PITS, AND SIR PAT. Dann sent a pair of pet-related items: “So I ran into a link about optical illusions increasing pet adoptions. The first wasn’t as genre-tangential as I thought it might be.” — “Brilliant Optical Illusions Inspire Families To Adopt Rescue Pets”.

To promote a recent pet adoption event, the Mumbai, India-based group World For All commissioned a visual campaign aimed at encouraging families to find a place in their lives for a needy animal — and what resulted couldn’t be more brilliant at doing just that.

The images are optical illusions, showing people framed in such a way that they form the shape of a pet in the empty space between them, along with the simple tagline:

“There’s always room for more. Adopt.”

“But the next story in the cart was about Patrick Stewart fostering a pitbull and a pitbull mix.  And hey!  Patrick Stewart!” “Patrick Stewart’s New Foster Dog Can’t Stop Smiling At Him”

Many people might say that Sir Patrick Stewart is famous for his iconic roles in television, movies and even on stage — but dog lovers know that one of the most important parts Stewart has played is as a homeless pit bull’s foster dad in his real life. 

This was back in 2017 — and Ginger has since been adopted by a loving family.

But now Stewart is at it again. 

(7) MAKING THE TABLE ROUNDS. And another knight has been out doing good. “Ian McKellen spotted at The Hobbit pub” was an item in the BBC’s April 11 roundup.

Acting legend Ian McKellen stopped by The Hobbit pub in Southampton yesterday.

The Lord of the Rings actor stepped in to help pay a copyright licence fee in 2012 so the pub could carry on trading as The Hobbit after Hollywood film firm the Saul Zaentz Company threatened it with legal action.

At the time Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf, described the company’s actions as “unnecessary pettiness”.

The pub posted a picture of the actor on Instagram, prompting one user to reply: “I have never been more jealous in my life.”

Terry Hunt sent the link with a note, “The Hobbit is a LoTR-themed pub, particularly popular with students, which I’ve been visiting occasionally for around 25 years: see http://thehobbitpub.co.uk. In 2012 the film franchise sitting on the rights (who notoriously failed to pay the Tolkien Estate anything from the films’ earnings – not sure what the state of play is on that story) threatened the pub over its use of the name, etc., but apparently arrangements were made as it continued trading as before: at the time I missed the relevant report: (see here). I hadn’t realised until now that Sir Ian McKellen/Gandalf had been the co-payer, along with Stephen Fry, of the necessary fee.”


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 14, 1925 Rod Steiger. Carl in The Illustrated Man which is specifically based on three stories by Bradbury from that collection: “The Veldt,” “The Long Rain,” and “The Last Night of the World.” Great film. Genre-wise, he also was Father Delaney in The Amityville Horror, showed up as Charlie on the short-lived Wolf Lake series, played Dr. Phillip Lloyd in horror film The Kindred, was Pa in the really chilling American Gothic, played General Decker in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (really, really weird film), Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in Modern Vampires and Peter on “The Evil Within” episode of Tales of Tomorrow  series. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 14, 1929 Gerry Anderson. English television and film producer, director, writer and if need be, voice artist.  Thunderbirds which ran for thirty-two episodes was I think the best of his puppet-based shows though Captain Scarlet and the MysteronsFireball XL5 and Stingray are definitely also worth seeing. Later on, he would move into live productions with Space: 1999 being the last production under the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 14, 1935 Jack McDevitt, 84. If you read nothing else by him, read Time Travelers Never Die as it’s a great riff on the paradoxes of time travel. If you’ve got quite a bit of time, his Alex Benedict space opera series is a fresh approach to conflict between two alien races.
  • Born April 14, 1954 Bruce Sterling, 65. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things. He edited Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology which is still the finest volume of cyberpunk stories that’s been published to date. 
  • Born April 14, 1958 Peter Capaldi, 61. Twelfth Doctor. Not going to rank as high as the Tenth Doctor or the Seventh Doctor on my list of favourite Doctors, let alone the Fourth Doctor who remains My Doctor, but I thought he did a decent enough take on the role. His first genre appearance was as Angus Flint in the decidedly weird Lair of the White Worm, very loosely based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name. He pops up in World War Z as a W.H.O. Doctor before voicing Mr. Curry in Paddington, the story of Paddington Bear. He also voices Rabbit in Christopher Robin. On the boob tube, he’s been The Angel Islington in Neverwhere. (Almost remade by Jim Henson but not quite.) He was in Iain Banks’ The Crow Road as Rory McHoan (not genre but worth noting). He played Gordon Fleming in two episodes of Sea of Souls series. Before being the Twelfth Doctor, he was on Torchwood as John Frobisher. He is a magnificent Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers series running on BBC. And he’s involved in the current animated Watership Down series as the voice of Kehaar.
  • Born April 14, 1977 Sarah Michelle Gellar, 42. Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes I watched every episode. Great show. Even watched every bit of Angel as well. Her first genre role was as Casey “Cici” Cooper in Scream 2 followed by voicing Gwendy Doll in Small Soldiers. Her performance as Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions is simply bone chillingly scary. I’ve not seen, nor plan to see, either of the Scooby-Doo films so I’ve no idea how she is Daphne Blake. Finally she voiced April O’Neil in the latest animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.
  • Born April 14, 1982 Rachel Swirsky, 37. Writer, editor, poet and podcaster. She was the founding editor of the superb PodCastle podcast and served as the editor for several years. As a writer, she’s a master of the shorter form of writing, be it a novella, a short story or a poem. Indeed her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” won a Nebula Award. Her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” won another Nebula Award for Best Short Story. She’s the editor of People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy


(10) ONE BEST FAN WRITER TO ANOTHER. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid – April 12 edition features a review of Una McCormack’s excellent new novella The Undefeated and a look at the movie adaptation of Tim Lebbon’s The Silence, as well as the first of a planned series of Hugo spotlights on Charles Payseur.

Best Fan Writer finalist (Like me! That still sounds AWESOME) Charles Payseur is a writer, poet and a major part of the ongoing redemption of short fiction as an art form worthy of discussion. That sounds a touch high faluting I know but it’s true, short stories continue to enjoy a renaissance triggered by podcasting (Such as these fine shows) and the massive rise in digital magazines (Such as these fine magazines). The weird thing is that for the longest time that surging market has been largely overlooked by critics. Charles is not one of those critics.

(11) PSA. “RIKER IPSUM” delivers random messages that appear to be quotes from ST:TNG’s Riker:

I can’t. As much as I care about you, my first duty is to the ship.

(12) PC PROGRAMS. A BBC story reports “US lawmakers to probe algorithm bias”.

Computer algorithms must show they are free of race, gender and other biases before they are deployed, US politicians have proposed.

Lawmakers have drafted a bill that would require tech firms to test prototype algorithms for bias.

(13) DRONE CRIME. “Gatwick drone attack possible inside job, say police” – BBC has the story.

The drone attack that caused chaos at Gatwick before Christmas was carried out by someone with knowledge of the airport’s operational procedures, the airport has said.

A Gatwick chief told BBC Panorama the drone’s pilot “seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway”.

Sussex Police told the programme the possibility an “insider” was involved was a “credible line” of inquiry.

…Police told the BBC they had recorded 130 separate credible drone sightings by a total of 115 people, all but six of whom were professionals, including police officers, security personnel, air traffic control staff and pilots.

(14) HIKARU. CBR.com’s “Comic Legend” series confirms “How Vonda McIntyre’s First Name for Sulu Became Canon”.


Peter David’s comic book adaptation of Star Trek VI helped to get Vonda McIntyre’s first name for Sulu made canon.



The world of science fiction lost a great voice when the amazing Vonda McIntyre passed away earlier this month. McIntyre was a multiple Nebula Award-winning author, with her novel, Dreamsnake, capturing both the 1979 Nebula Award AND the 1979 Hugo Award….

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.  Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

51 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/14/19 Pixel Scroll Title Lacks Gravitas

  1. (8) My first exposure to Gerry Anderson wasn’t Thunderbirds, etc., but rather the feature film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, which used to appear on TV in the 1970s – haven’t seen it in forever, but it has some memorable scenes.

  2. Title Credit woohoo!

    It’s also tangentially related to Peter Capaldi (one of the birthdays) by way of Iain (M.) Banks.

    “The Crow Road” TV adaptation has Capaldi in a non-genre role, while “The Crow Road” is a non-genre Iain (M.) Banks. It also has my favourite opening sentence: “It was the day my grandmother exploded.”

  3. gottacook: My first exposure to Gerry Anderson [was] rather the feature film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun

    I saw that as a young’un, as a fan of UFO which was being shown on Public Television back then — and it blew my mind. Ed Bishop! Parallel Universes!

    Years later, I got to see it again, and was grievously sad to find that it had been visited by the Suck Fairy, who left an entirely different movie in its place. I still want the movie I originally saw back. Damn that Suck Fairy.

  4. Sweet scrolls ’til stun-beams find you
    Sweet scrolls that leave all furries behind you
    But in those scrolls, whatever they be
    Scroll a little scroll of me

  5. 8) Last night I decided it was finally time to start getting caught up on Capaldi’s last season of Doctor Who (so that I can watch Jodi Whittaker’s episodes for Hugo voting). I do like his performance as cranky older Doctor; it’s a nice contrast to Tennant and Smith. And Bill is a good companion. I just wish he’d been given stronger scripts to work with.

  6. “Scroll in the sky keeps on turning
    And I don’t know where I’ll file tomorrow….”


  7. @ Andrew

    I really enjoyed Sterling’s Schismatrix as well.

    Me too. That’s top-notch 80s SF in my book. I’m also quite fond of Distraction. The other books are solid but I’m not really enthusiastic about them.

  8. In Local Hero, Peter Capaldi’s character falls in love with a mermaid so I consider that his first genre role. I suspect all Bill Forsyth films are stealth genre.

    Years later there was a story about how young Capaldi had blown his earnings from acting in Local Hero on take away curries and cans of beer.

    My parents were Hungarian immigrants. They took the name PixelScroll ’cause they thought it sounded more American!

  9. @8: ah yes, Space: 1999, in which the actors did their best to emulate the Andersons’ marionettes….

  10. I do still like the design of the Eagles in Space: 1999; and one episode (Dragon’s Domain) is probably at least partially responsible for my unease when I go through an automatic car wash. But yeah, that’s a show that was MUCH better when I was about 7.

  11. Meredith Moments:

    All of these are Amazon US.

    Game of Thrones is $1.99
    The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisen is $2.99
    The Girl In the Brown Ring by Nalo Hopkinson is $1.99
    The Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick is $2.99

  12. n.b. — the $2.99 Inheritance Trilogy omnibus also includes a couple of related short pieces.

  13. Goodbye, Mr. Wolfe. You expanded my vocabulary; you’re one of the few writers that had me checking the dictionary on a regular basis. And your worldbuilding was par excellance. You’ll be missed.

  14. Chip Hitchcock says ah yes, Space: 1999, in which the actors did their best to emulate the Andersons’ marionettes….

    Sir, you are insulting the marionettes who by and largecshowerd far more personality and acting ability than did the the entire cast of Space: 1999. I never saw a series in which the cast seemed so disinrestested in actuallly showing that they cared about the show they were acting on.

  15. @Lis

    You are most welcome. Making your day has made mine.

    We’re born with success. It is only others who point out our failures, and what they attribute to us as failure. – Whoopi Goldberg

  16. Wasn’t there recently a scroll item about how you could make any Wikipedia article dystopic by changing “is” to “was” throughout the article? It wasn’t XKCD, and I’m not seeing it again.

    Anyway, I’m just thinking about the update for the Notre Dame article…

  17. The cause of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral Is still unknown, but one of the locals has a hunch.

  18. For those interested in Gene Wolfe who listen to podcasts, I recommend Alzabo Soup. They’re currently about two thirds through The Citadel of the Autarch and plan to go all the way to the Long Sun, which will take them a good long time; they’ve also done (and no doubt will do) other Wolfe, such as The Fifth Head of Cerberus, and as palate cleansers between books such titles as The Word for World is Forest and The Book of the Dun Cow.

  19. Lis Carey Oh, hell, no. This day really has to start over, and make a better effort.

    Back in the Eighties while on a layover at the expense of Uncle Sam, I explored the Cathedral. The sheer scale of it can’t grasped unless you’ve actually been inside it as among other things it actually generates its own weather. Latest news reports suggests that it might be a total loss, at least the wooden structure aspects of it. A true heart wrenching loss.

  20. Apropos of nothing, I just stumbled across an amusing new twitter feed that some folks here might find interesting. It’s called @JustSaysInMice, and it reposts selected news stories about science with the comment/reminder “IN MICE”. 🙂

  21. @Cat
    I’ve seen one report that the artwork and relics inside may have been saved – but no confirmation of that. (That would, obvs, be the movable stuff.) They were getting ready for an evening mass, it being Monday of Holy Week, so there were a lot more people around than usual.

  22. The most recent update I’ve seen:

    French officials are telling the French media that the structure of Notre Dame has been saved “in its entirety,” including the north belfry, but that two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed.


    Which, if true, is actually better news than I had expected. There’s a link in the tweet to a Le Monde article for anyone who (unlike me) reads French.


  23. @Joe H.
    It now says that the overall structure of the cathedral was saved in its entirety, including the two big towers, but two levels of the roof were completely destroyed.

  24. P J Evans notes hopefully I’ve seen one report that the artwork and relics inside may have been saved – but no confirmation of that. (That would, obvs, be the movable stuff.) They were getting ready for an evening mass, it being Monday of Holy Week, so there were a lot more people around than usual.

    Almost everything save the tombs and such is the quite freestanding and decidedly mobile, so given enough trained staff should be easy to get out. They’ll still lose every bit of the glass, all the wood detail and and much of the stone will crank beyond repair in the heat being generated,

    The caveat is that the fire itself is creating extremely dangerous conditions — fire, heat, falling debris, smoke and even of course ash everywhere. Volunteers simply can’t used in those conditions. And it looks like a goodly portion of the Cathedral has already, just hours in, rendered itself, beyond the safe point of being. The photos I’m seeing suggest that there’s no space inside that’s now not extremely hazardous.

  25. @Greg

    Hope this isn’t too soon, but I hope that you will consider using Grimdark Magazine as a replacement for Apex in your lineup. They had a pretty good year last year.

    Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong. – Calvin Coolidge

  26. Macron is giving a very moving speech about rebuilding the cathedral. There will be a national appeal for contributions.

    The rector says there’s still no word on the status of the window glass or any of the artwork. I’m not holding out a lot of hope, though.

  27. Greg Hullender says The rector says there’s still no word on the status of the window glass or any of the artwork. I’m not holding out a lot of hope, though.

    Nor I. Even the water and fire fighting chemicals applied at high pressures will cause irreparable damage to the glass and other artwork. There’s just no way to quell fire, any fire of this size, without causing damage.

  28. Speaking of the Dread Suck Fairy. I’ve been enjoying The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which surprisingly has not been visited by that friend though I fullly I expected it would be. I though of the series because it comes up fairly often in the Birthday notes I put together and I remember enjoying it many decades ago. I checked and it was on iTunes so I’ve been enjoying it during my in-hospital stay.

    The acting is fine, the stories are not at all Cold War troped and it’s reasonably well paced. Our two main actors actually look like like they’re have fun. Unlike modern series, there’s no continuity that develops over the course of the season so it’s simply a matter of picking a show that sounds appealing.

  29. They seem to have saved both towers of Notre Dame, and the facade.

    Beyond that, I find it oddly comforting that, according to Wikipedia, a lot of the cathedral as it was before the fire is the result of 19th-century restoration work.

  30. @Dann665

    Hope this isn’t too soon, but I hope that you will consider using Grimdark Magazine as a replacement for Apex in your lineup.

    We definitely welcome suggestions. Thanks!

    In general, a key consideration for us is to pick magazines such that we can recommend a fair number of their stories. It’s no fun writing a bunch of negative reviews, and if we added a magazine but then never recommended any of their stories, it would look like we were picking on them.

    One of the first things we look for when we look at a prospective magazine is how long their stories are. We like stories with sophisticated plots, creative worldbuilding, and good character development. Stories under 3,000 words struggle to accomplish any of these, so magazines with a big emphasis on flash aren’t a good match for us.

    Taking a look at the submission info for Grimdark, I see they have an upper limit of 4,000 words, and Duotrope reports that they publish a significant amount of flash. That probably rules them out for us.

    Thanks for the suggestion, though, and if you have more ideas, we’d love to hear them!

  31. @Greg,

    Thanks for the consideration. I have several issues along with their “Evil is a Matter of Perspective” in my Kindle library. I’m sure we could work something out if you would like to borrow anything. The anthology is really very good.

    I say that knowing that you might be looking for something more/different. You never know.


    And apparently, Jonathan Frid of Dark Shadows fame has passed.

    Here in 4664, the reconstruction of Notre Dame is holding up nicely, but they say it isn’t nearly as nice as the original.

    “We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher

  32. @Cat Eldridge: with due respect to your rightful indignation, I note that I said the actors did their best; that can leave a lot of room for improvement. (cf a review, probably by Dorothy Parker, in which an actor’s emotions were said to run the gamut from A to B.) I recall a speculation, perhaps contemporary, that the show’s greatest expense was novocain (these days we might say botox) to keep Barbara Bain’s face immobile. (They certainly weren’t spending money on effects.) And while we’re recalling well-placed barbs, Mark Chartrand’s “<Space:1991 — marked down from 2001” should not be forgotten.

  33. @Cora



    Adrian Collins, owner of GdM, has approved my request to share my copies of GdM with you and Eric. As I’m unable to find an email address for you, please stop by my place and send me an email. I’ll forward my mobi files.

    Thanks again.

    I’ve loved reading all my life. – John Wayne

  34. Well, to look at the positive side of things, Frid had a good… sorry; he had a couple of good runs there, and now maybe he can just relax and enjoy staying dead for a while.

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