Pixel Scroll 4/16/19 I Have No Clicks And I Must Swear Mightily Underneath My Breath

(1) ORIGIN STORY. Rudy Rucker posted drafts of two presentations he’s giving at the IOHK Summit in Miami Beach on April 18. The first is — “Cyberpunk Use Cases”.

…My best-known novel is Software, written in 1980. It was one of the earliest cyberpunk novels. The idea behind Software seems simple now.

  • It should be possible to extract the patterns stored in a person’s brain,
    and transfer these onto a computer or a robot.

You’ve seen this scenario hundred movies and TV shows, right? But I was the first one to write about it. In 1980, “soul as software” was an unheard of thought. Hardly anyone even knew the word “software.”

To make my Software especially punk, I made the brain-to-software transfer very gnarly. A gang of scary-funny hillbillies extracted people’s mental software by slicing off the tops of their skulls and eating their brains with cheap steel spoons. One of the hillbillies was a robot in disguise, and his stomach analyzed the brain tissue. Did I mention that I grew up in Kentucky?

(2) BAG ORDINANCE. The Anime News Network posted a wise suggestion “Anime Boston Attendees Remember to BYOB: Bring Your Own Bags”. (Via Petréa Mitchell.)

If you’re heading out to the Anime Boston convention this weekend with the intention of picking up merchandise and art prints from the Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley, you could run into some trouble if you don’t have reusable bags handy.

Artist Alley and Dealer’s Hall merchants were caught off guard on Monday after convention staff alerted them that the only permissible types of bags must be reusable, recyclable, or compostable with handles. The restriction is due to an ordinance that went in effect in Boston on December 14, 2018. Plastic bags with handles are not allowed and retailers are required to charge customers an additional US$.05 per bag unless the customer brings their own.

(3) HISTORIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Eugene Grant reminds people of Judy-Lynn Del Rey’s impact on the field of sff. Thread starts here.

(4) EVERMORE PARK. The summer opening of the “Mythos” theme adventure at Evermore Park in Utah is tentatively scheduled for May 29, says David Doering, “though this could slip.”

MYTHOS

An enchanted festival of fantasy and magic, celebrating the wondrous grace of dragons. Coming Summer 2019.

(5) WOLFE’S BEGINNINGS. The Guardian’s Alison Flood added her tribute to the late author: “Gene Wolfe, ‘magnificent’ giant of science fiction, dies aged 87”.

…When he was named a grand master of science fiction and fantasy by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 2012, Wolfe recalled living “paycheck to paycheck” with his wife Rosemary and children, and getting three “not terribly good” stories published in a college magazine.

“Then it was time for school to start again, and Rosemary began badgering me for money for school clothes,” he said. “Another story, Car Sinister, sold, and instead of depositing the check I got the manager of the hardware store to cash it for me. I took it to Rosemary: ‘Here’s every dime I got for that story. That’s how much you have for school clothes.’ A few days passed, and I was sitting on the kitchen floor trying to mend a chair. Rosemary came up behind me and said, ‘Shouldn’t you be writing?’ That’s when I knew I was a writer.”

(6) COLE OBIT. Noted sff writer Allan Cole died March 29 reports the SFWA Blog.

Allan Cole, international best-selling author, screenwriter and former prize-winning newsman, died March 29, 2019, of cancer in Boca Raton, FL. He was 75.

Cole was probably best known for the Sten science fiction series, which he co-authored with his late partner Chris Bunch, as well as the critically acclaimed Vietnam novel “A Reckoning for Kings” about the Tet Offensive of 1968.

(7) GARRIOTT OBIT. “My home town astronaut died,” wrote John A Arkansawyer. “My first job was at an all-night gas station on Owen K. Garriott Road (formerly Market). I never met him, but I benefited from his presence in our small city. My kid and my kid’s mom and I went back for a visit the summer after my dad died and spent a great day here: Leonardo’s – Interactive Children’s Museum in Enid, OK. He and his former wife founded it and it’s still going strong.

Dr. Owen K. Garriott, scientist/astronaut, died April 15: “Enid-born astronaut Owen K. Garriott dies at age 88”.

Garriott’s initial space flight on Skylab 3 was from July 28 to Sept. 25, 1973, according to OHS. On this mission, he and his two crewmates conducted major experiments in science and medicine for a total of 1,427 hours in space. In three separate space walks outside the Skylab, Garriott spent 13 hours and 43 minutes.

Helen Walker Garriott, co-founder of Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, died in 2017.

His son, Richard Garriott, was also an astronaut (he made a pot of money on video games and bought a ticket), and they were the only father-son pair to fly to space (so far).

(8) REED OBIT. Les Reed wrote several Top-40 hits. And at least one genre tune —

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 16, 1917 William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for Birthday Honours as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel.  Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip.  (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 16, 1921 Peter  Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both  Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. (Died 2004.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a radio and television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 Kingsley  Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that everything including the hauntings were in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work but he did write Colonel Sun: a James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction published in the late Fifties, he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube. (Died 1995.)
  • Born April 16, 1954 Ellen Barkin, 65. She played Penny Priddy in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film that should neither get remade nor get sequels, both of which have been proposed. And to my knowledge, her only genre credits are Into the West as Kathleen, and in The Cobbler as Elaine Greenawalt. 
  • Born April 16, 1962 Kathryn Cramer, 57. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through thirteen with as well. 
  • Born April 16, 1975 Sean Maher, 44. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DAC films, to wit Son of BatmanBatman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen TitansTeen Titans: The Judas Contract and Batman: Hush. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) THE ROLLING STONES. Not just the stones, the builders also traveled — “Stonehenge: DNA reveals origin of builders”. Yes, technically everyone traveled over long-enough time — but they’ve found that Stonehenge was built by relatively recent arrivals.

The ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge travelled west across the Mediterranean before reaching Britain, a study has shown.

Researchers compared DNA extracted from Neolithic human remains found across Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe.

The Neolithic inhabitants appear to have travelled from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to Iberia before winding their way north.

They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Details have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The migration to Britain was just one part of a general, massive expansion of people out of Anatolia in 6,000BC that introduced farming to Europe.

Before that, Europe was populated by small, travelling groups which hunted animals and gathered wild plants and shellfish.

Here a link to the original paper in Nature.

The roles of migration, admixture and acculturation in the European transition to farming have been debated for over 100?years. Genome-wide ancient DNA studies indicate predominantly Aegean ancestry for continental Neolithic farmers, but also variable admixture with local Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Neolithic cultures first appear in Britain circa 4000?bc, a millennium after they appeared in adjacent areas of continental Europe….

(12) UNDER THE HAMMER. Here are a couple of the interesting lots in Heritage Auctions’ April 23 Illustration Art Signature Auction.

(13) SFF MOVIE COLLECTIBLES. And Bonhams is running the “TCM Presents … Wonders of the Galaxy: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Film” auction on May 14 in Los Angeles. The catalog is here.

They expect this poster from the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame movie to go for $150,000-$200,000.

(14) CATTY REMARKS. Timothy the Talking Cat resumes his autobiography in “Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 2”.

Chapter 2: Tim Cat’s Schooldays

Bortsworth Grammar School for the Boys With Fathers Off in the Colonies was an august institution but was also open in other months. For two hundred years it had taught the male offspring of the British Empire’s far flung civil servants. The school specialised in latin, bullying, it’s own idiosyncratic form of Rugby football and petty tyranny and often all four at the same time.

I boarded the school train at Bortsworth Station and immediately got off again as it had reached its destination….

(15) FLAVOR LOST IN SPACE. From Behind a paywall at The Week comes this item:

An Englishman launched a Big Mac hamburger into the stratosphere using a weather balloon–then ate the ‘spaceburger’ upon its return to the ground.  Thomas Stanniland said he accomplished the feat with the aid of four canisters of helium, a GoPro camera, a GPS tracker, a polystyrene box, and superglue.  After the balloon popped and the burger floated back,he recovered it.  ‘It’s been outside, so it’s been a bit crumbly,’ he said after taking a bite.  Overall, he described the taste as ‘not nice.'”

(16) THE PROBLEM OF PAIN. That’s a reference I thought of when someone told me the next episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is titled “The Eggplant, The Witch & The Wardrobe Trailer.”

(17) HUSKY ROBOTS. Boston Dynamics puts a bunch of their “SpotMini” robot “dogs” together in harness to pull a BD truck… Gizmodo has the story: “These Robodogs Are Even Scarier When They Start Working In a Pack”.

That sound, that sound, as they come marching.

When it’s not frightening the world with videos of back-flipping cyborg supersoldiers, Boston Dynamics likes to have a bit of fun with their robotic creations. Presumably inspired by last month’s Iditarod, the company strapped ten of its SpotMini robots together but instead of pulling a sled, these robo-pups have enough strength to pull a massive diesel truck. Did I say fun? I meant terror-inducing.

That last linked phrase is to a YouTube video:

It only takes 10 Spotpower (SP) to haul a truck across the Boston Dynamics parking lot (~1 degree uphill, truck in neutral). These Spot robots are coming off the production line now and will be available for a range of applications soon. For more information visit us at www.BostonDynamics.com/Spot.

[Thanks to David Doering, Avilyn, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John A Arkansawyer, Bill, Steve Green, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/16/19 I Have No Clicks And I Must Swear Mightily Underneath My Breath

  1. 9) John Christopher’s Tripods books (the original trilogy, that is) were some of my first — I remember checking them out incessantly from the elementary school library; the card in the back (as was done in those times) had my name listed in an almost unbroken string.

    I also have fond memories of his novel The Lotus Caves, about a weird cavern complex on the Moon.

  2. Kingsley Amis wrote The Alteration which is definitely genre.

    Kathryn Cramer is credited with David Hartwell as editors of Year’s Best SF 16, which I happen to have right here, so she definitely was involved later than 13.

  3. (9) (Kingsley Amis) — Kingsley Amis wrote LOTS and LOTS of genre stuff. Besides the works you cite, a whole lot of his short fiction qualifies as genre. For example, “Mason’s Life” appeared in the Harrison/Aldiss Best of the Year. “Something Strange”, an exceptional story, appeared (as a reprint) in F&SF in 1961.

    Other novels include a couple out and out SF novels — The Alteration, one of the great alternate history books; plus Russian Hide and Seek (a future in which Russia has occupied England.) Somewhat more ambiguous, both The Anti-Death League and Ending Up are also SF (the first about the development of a super-weapon, the second about a elderly people in a near future milieu.)

    Amis also edited several SF anthologies — the five Spectrum books, with Robert Conquest (these are excellent), and also a book called The Golden Age of Science Fiction.

  4. UK Filers: Amazon currently has the excellent Swordheart by T Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon, aka Oor Wombat) on sale for 99p.

  5. (1) There’s no way Rucker was the first to ever use that concept, unless he’s got some private definition of it that’s more specific than what he said. This article has a bunch of examples and I can think of a few more: Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980), A World Out of Time (1976), The Müller-Fokker Effect (1973)… I mean, not that it really matters who was first, but that was an odd statement.

  6. @9: I see other Filers were quick to jump on the other instances of Amis genre fiction that I know of. I don’t think The Green Man is intended to be a hallucination; ISTM that it’s a modern form of a classic haunting story. There is at least one physical effect reported (very near the end), although since he never asks anyone “didn’t you see that?” there is room for argument. I would also note that New Maps of Hell is the book version of a set of lectures he did at Princeton in the 1950’s — he was a vigorous voice in favor of SF and against all the halfwitted putdowns of it at a time and place where such a stand was … unexpected.

    @Rich Horton: I binged on Amis in ~1976; I don’t recall anything in Ending Up that sets it in the future — it seemed to me an entirely contemporary novel, but I could have missed something. The Anti-Death League is definitely SF — the story is not an adventure around a techno-toy but a question of what to do with the toy now that it works. I know a splitter who mistook the plague sideplot (which is never shown to work) for the reason I was calling it genre, and it’s also contemporary — but it’s about the intrusion of new tech. Granted that the people intruded on have so many other troubles they don’t always notice this one — but that’s a common thread for Amis.

  7. Scott Edelman: I have never heard “Who’s Doctor Who” before but I enjoyed listening to it, so thanks for posting it.

  8. (17) Those things are so creepy. That noise belongs in a nightmare, or some kind of post-apocalypse robot zombie story.

  9. re Swordheart – is it important to have read the Clocktaur Wars duology before reading it or does it stand alone? (either way I’ve bought it so I’ll get to it eventually…)

  10. (9) Kingsley Amis also wrote an absolutely hilarious Hemingway send-up titled Hemingway in Space which is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s in his Dear Illusion collection of short stories (which also contains a sequel of sorts to The Green Man).

  11. 7: The Garriots were not even the first multi-generational pair to fly in space. Sergei Volkov, son of Aleksandr Volkov, was already on board the ISS when Richard Garriott made his trip. Thw two returned to Earth together in Soyuz TMA-12.

  12. Ellen Barkin starred in 1991 movie Switch: After his early death, a misogynist guy is balanced between being sent to Heaven or Hell, and is sent back to Earth as a woman (Barkin) to see if he can learn the error of his ways.

    Electronic downloads of brains may be more recent in fiction, but transplants of actual brains into robot bodies have been around SF for a long time. (Is there much of a difference?) My first thought was of the “Professor Jameson” stories by Neil R. Jones, first written in 1931.

  13. I was a big fan of Richard Garriot’s Ultima roleplaying video games. I had no idea he and his father were astronauts.

  14. (9) No, not that Captain Marvel, but the one who got renamed for trademark reasons and is now known as Shazam!

    That they are currently competing at the box office is rather pleasing to me.

  15. Thanks for the title credit!

    Currently reading Genevieve Cogman’s latest Invisible Library book (The Mortal Word) and the going is very slow. However, I love the series, so I’m going to stick it out and see what happens.

  16. I see Cramer is credited as an editor on the cover of Year’s Best SF 17, but not 18.

  17. As I recall, Lotus Caves was also where I first started to get the idea that books were actually written by regular people — one of the characters (I think they were adolescent boys) spends time talking about a pirate adventure novel he’s been writing, although I think he spends more time talking about it than he does actually writing, and THAT may have been the chief lesson I took away from it in retrospect …

  18. Up waaaay too early to fly out to Seattle for Norwescon. On the upside, the Hiroshima Carp finally won another game,

  19. @Patrick Morris Miller: I’m also going to Norwescon, but my flight isn’t until this evening.

  20. KasaObake on April 16, 2019 at 8:57 pm said:

    re Swordheart – is it important to have read the Clocktaur Wars duology before reading it or does it stand alone? (either way I’ve bought it so I’ll get to it eventually…)

    There are some very minor (IMO) spoilers for the duology, but no characters or situations in common. It’s very readable as a stand-alone.

  21. Re (16) THE PROBLEM OF PAIN. That’s a reference I thought of when someone told me the next episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is titled “The Eggplant, The Witch & The Wardrobe Trailer.”

    Either the close-quote is one word off, or the last word is an interloper — the title has no “trailer” in it. I don’t know if the episode has a “wardrobe trailer,” we’ll have to wait and see.
    Meanwhile, ComicBook.com notes that while the title is. of course, a CSLewis/Narnia reference, ”

    …but the graphic on the script Shimizu shared hints that Legends’ episode will be a fair bit different than that wholesome book. The image features the title spelled out in emojis and, yes, it uses THAT emoji — after all, many use the eggplant as a stand-in for a specific part of the male anatomy.

  22. I read a lot of Christopher books as a teen, and to my mind now, they were the epitome of cynical, depressing 1979s SF. The most optimistic endings were pretty much “We’ll keep fighting to make this horrible world better”, with no sign things works get better. He even managed to pull that sort of ending out of the victory in the Tripods trilogy.

    On the other hand, he did an excellent job at portraying more complex, flawed protagonists than the standard run of YA. In fact in some cases his protagonists were incredibly, obtusely determined to be flawed. Which, for YA SF even in the 70s was unique.

  23. @Rose Embolism:

    I read a lot of Christopher books as a teen, and to my mind now, they were the epitome of cynical, depressing 1979s SF. The most optimistic endings were pretty much “We’ll keep fighting to make this horrible world better”, with no sign things works get better.

    Apparently, SF does predict the future, because there’s a very strong strain of that in some social justice-type work the last decade or so. I get the need to be realistic about prospects, but I also wonder who signs up for a movement that has nothing to say other than we’re all going to die anyway, so what’s the use?

    On the other hand, “The Battle of Abaco Reef” and “Three Days at the End of the World”–the latter so pessimistic–left just the opposite taste in my mouth.

  24. @Eli: The first two examples that occurred to me were not: Who is simple cyborging and “No Woman Born” is a transplant of a whole brain (not just a consciousness) to a metal body (cf @Bruce Arthurs). But the Wikipedia article you link to reminded me that Pohl had at least one other example of (in this case temporary) transplanted consciousness, “The Day the Icicle Works Closed” (1960). I’ve never been impressed by Rucker; I can’t tell whether this article is bluffing or just unreasonable ignorance.

    @Martin Wooster: “Who’s Dr. Who” is strange and tacky (perhaps not quite as clunky as “In the Year 2525”), but at least it’s still playable, unlike “Delilah” (which was cited in Tom Jones’s BBC tribute to Reed).

    @PhilRM: I’d never heard of that Amis story. (Beetles off to interlibrary loan to fetch a copy.) Thanks!

    @Daniel Dern: the eggplant is a stand-in? Isn’t that a little … boastful? (Or maybe not; the Harvard Lampoon parody of Cosmopolitan included an advice columnist’s statement that a man should be able flexible enough to mimic anything from a lightbulb to the Baja California pensinsula.)

  25. Robot Man in DC’s Doom Patrol series was created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani in 1963. From the beginning, he consisted of a brain transplanted in a robot body after a horrible accident.

    The new Doom Patrol series on the DC Universe service is well-worth watching as as long as you’re aware that Grant Morrison is its main influence which is fine if you like his weirdness which I do mostly. If you don’t, skip it.

  26. Varley’s Eight Worlds stories had consciousness transfer in the 70s as well.

  27. 1) I remember original Star Trek did impression of human engrams on a computer (The Ultimate Computer) back in the 60s’.

  28. @ jayn: 1) I remember original Star Trek did impression of human engrams on a computer (The Ultimate Computer) back in the 60s’.

    Also, in one episode Kirk’s memories were copied into an android.

  29. @Chip H – Re

    the eggplant is a stand-in? Isn’t that a little … boastful?

    Chip, it depends on, among other things, the eggplant. Our CSA grows a variety of shapes’n’sizes — roughly like these

    @Cat Eldridge — at some point in DOOM PATROL — either during or post-Grant Morrison (I could look it up, they’re all in a box downstairs), Cliff Steele’s brain (contents) got digitized. Whether it get back into its wetware I don’t remember.

  30. Daniel Dem say — at some point in DOOM PATROL — either during or post-Grant Morrison (I could look it up, they’re all in a box downstairs), Cliff Steele’s brain (contents) got digitized. Whether it get back into its wetware I don’t remember.

    The current live series use the brain in robot body premise and suggest strongly that Cliff Steel might not have been injured that badly but rather that Dr. Niles Caulder needed a subject for his experiments…

  31. Re DOOM PATROL: The live series — which I’m enjoying a lot — is (doing a great job of) picking from the various authors, arcs, etc. IIRC, one post-Morrison arc (Giffen?) did indeed suggest that Doc C didn’t just find people to save, but was more, ahem, pro-active. Calder certainly has a lot of ‘splaining to do! (Once they find him.)

  32. Transfer of a human consciousness into android bodies was also a staple device of Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comics in the ’60s. (It’s worth repeating that Comic Book Plus, the public domain comics archive, has every Tower comic published available for online reading and/or download. Great stories—ahead of their time in many ways—and some fab art from Wood, Williamson, Crandall, Ditko, Kane, Tuska, Whitney, Sekowsky, and others.)

    Interestingly, it seems the longest series Tower had was Tippy Teen, who I’m guessing was their real breadwinner, and who made it possible to keep doing the superhero secret agents for as long as they did.

    But I’m getting away from the whole human consciousness in an android thing here. Oh well. I don’t suppose Tippy Teen ever… nahhh.

  33. @Daniel Dern: I’m quite aware that there are a lot of kinds of mutant eggplant, but are they emojis? Or is the only emoji something like the standard vaguely-pear-shaped variety?

  34. @ULTRAGOTHA: thanks for the heads-up re (minor) spoilers for Clocktaur – it’s still floating up near the top of my TBR, but I’ve got a couple of things that have priority at the moment (like Mark Lawrence’s next “…. Sister” novel and some non-fiction on birds)

  35. Of course, the eggplant emoji isn’t really necessary. The Egyptian Heiroglyph section of Unicode includes two perfectly good penises: U+130B8 and U+130BA.

    (Some people probably don’t want to see them, so I’ll just include the codepoint, which should be enough for anyone who is actually interested to look them up.)

  36. Chip Hitchcock on April 17, 2019 at 7:25 pm asked me:

    @Daniel Dern: I’m quite aware that there are a lot of kinds of mutant eggplant, but are they emojis? Or is the only emoji something like the standard vaguely-pear-shaped variety?

    @Chip – Dunno, even damfino. All I know is what I copied-and-posted (with, of course, attribution). Probably not The Eggplant That Ate Chicago (which is a song, not an emoji). Nor I have one grunch but the eggplant over there (another line familiar from MAD magazine which, like crackers/dropsy/snide, turns out to have a non-MAD origin.

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