Pixel Scroll 4/17/21 Parsley Scrolls Are Filed In Thyme

(1) CLI-FI COMPETITION UPDATE. Grist’s “Imagine 2200” contest has received over 1,100 entries. They will be judged by authors Adrienne Maree Brown, Morgan Jerkins, and Kiese Laymon. These short stories “envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress.” First prize is $3,000, second prize $2,000, and third prize $1,000. Nine additional finalists will receive $300.

(2) RAISED EYEBROW. I’m shocked, I tell you. WIRED reports“Turns Out, Spock Is Kinda Bad at Logic”.

Julia Galef, host of the Rationally Speaking podcast and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, is not impressed with the hyper-rational Vulcans on Star Trek.

“Spock is held up as this exemplar of logic and reason and rationality, but he’s set up, in my opinion, as almost a weak caricature—a straw man—of reason and rationality, because he keeps making all these dumb mistakes,” Galef says in Episode 462 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “That’s the show’s way of proving that, ‘Aha! Logic and reason and rationality aren’t actually all that great.’”

In the franchise, Spock makes confident predictions based on his superior Vulcan mind. Galef was curious to see exactly how often these predictions pan out. “I went through all of the Star Trek episodes and movies—all of the transcripts that I could find—and searched for any instance in which Spock is using the words ‘odds,’ ‘probability,’ ‘chance,’ ‘definitely,’ ‘probably,’ etc.,” she says. “I catalogued all instances in which Spock made a prediction and that prediction either came true or didn’t.”

The results, which appear in Galef’s new book The Scout Mindset, are devastating…. 

(3) MISTAKES WERE MADE, SHORTS WERE FRIED. Why do copies of this 1940 fanzine have a bit clipped out of one page? First Fandom Experience knows: “The Hole Story: Fake News and Parenting in Early Fandom”. John W. Campbell, Jr. is somehow at the bottom of it all! Scans of all the relevant zines and a complete historical narrative are at the FFE site.

… Campbell also kept an eye on leading fanzines. Fantascience Digest received a threatening letter from Street & Smith and promptly printed a polite retraction….

The Maine Scientifiction Association had also printed the offending story and had to hit the brakes!  

It appears that the MSA was in the midst of mailing issues of the January 1940 issue of the Bulletin when they became aware of the transgressionWhat to do with the fanzines they’d already printed? With an impoverished treasury, we believe the club elected to salvage the run by clipping out the offending article.

(4) YOU ARE NUMBER SIX FIVE THOUSAND. The site of many Lunacons, Star Trek conventions, comics conventions, the 1967 Worldcon, even Nebula banquets is about to get flattened: “So Long to the Hotel Pennsylvania” in Curbed.

…Eight years ago, Roth said that he was planning to renovate and turn it into something great, but we live in a different economic climate now, and the empty air above that giant site at 401 Seventh is apparently just too tempting to resist. A 1,270-foot tower, bearing the not-at-all-phallic name of PENN15, is its likely replacement.

There is inevitably, when a building of this age is about to come down, someone who wants to landmark it. Frankly, the Hotel Pennsylvania is a building that could be made handsome and appealing again, but it’s just not quite significant enough to fight over. Architecturally, it is like a lot of early-20th-century midsize hotels and office buildings around the city, only larger; it is surely a better-quality example from its period, designed by McKim, Mead & White, but it’s bulky enough that it already takes up a big bite of light and air, so you can’t make much of a case regarding scale. Even if you’re a hardcore preservationist, your energies might be better spent elsewhere….

Fancyclopedia’s entry focuses on the fanhistory made there when it was known as the New York Statler Hilton Hotel, and traces the names it went by:

It was opened in 1919 as the Hotel Pennsylvania of “PEnnsylvania 6-5000” fame and renamed the Hotel Statler in 1948. In 1954, Hilton bought it and renamed it the Statler Hilton, which is how it was known when its history crossed with fandom’s. Starting in the early 80s it went through various owners and names: The New York Statler, the New York Penta, and finally back to Hotel Pennsylvania….

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 17, 1923 Lloyd Biggle Jr. He was the founding Secretary-Treasurer of Science Fiction Writers of America and served as Chairman of its trustees for many years. Writing-wise, his best known series were the Jan Darzek and Effie Schlupe troubleshooting team, and the Cultural Survey. His “Monument” story published in Analog was a finalist at Chicon III for a Short Story Hugo. I find it interesting that he wrote his own Sherlock Holmes stories from the perspective of Edward Porter Jones, an assistant who began his association with Holmes as a Baker Street Irregular. There’re are two novels in this series, The Quallsford Inheritance and The Glendower Conspiracy. (Died 2002.) (CE)
  • Born April 17, 1923 – T. Bruce Yerke.  Joined LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society) in 1937, for a while its “perennial secretary”.  Recruited Ray Bradbury.  First editor of Imagination! which won the Best Fanzine of 1939 Retrospective Hugo.  Thought one of the best fanwriters of the 1940s.  Memoirs of a Superfluous Fan began 1944, never finished, reprinted 1991; see it and fandom of those days here (PDF).  More here.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born April 17, 1924 – Gerard van Straaten.  Four dozen covers, as many interiors, for Dutch SF, like this; particularly the series Euro-5, about which Alex van Oostenrijk of Independent Software in Mozambique has written, with color images, in English, here. (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born April 17, 1942 David Bradley, 79. It’s his Doctor Who work that garners him a birthday honor.  He first showed up during the time of the Eleventh Doctor playing a complete Rat Bastard of a character named Solomon in the “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” episode. But it was his second role on the series as actor who was the First Doctor that makes him really worth noting. He portrayed William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, then played the role of the First Doctor again in “The Doctor Falls” and “Twice Upon a Time”, both Twelfth Doctor stories.  He is also known for playing Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film franchise, Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and Abraham Setrakian in The Strain. (CE) 
  • Born April 17, 1949 – Martyn Godfrey.  Five novels, one shorter story for us; three dozen all told; millions of books sold.  Bilson Award for historical fiction.  After his death the Young Alberta Book Society began an award in his name (2021 deadline extended to June 25th), see here.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born April 17, 1958 – Carolyn Clink, age 63.  Five dozen poems in e.g. Canadian GingerImaginariumOn SpecStar*Line; two collections.  One Aurora Award.  Edited Tesseracts 6 with husband Robert Sawyer; here is her photo of him for Foundation 80.  [JH]
  • Born April 17, 1959 Sean Bean, 62. His current role that garners him recognition is his performance as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, but he’s been in our area interest a long time.  His first genre role was in GoldenEye as the the antagonist of Bond, Alec Trevelyan (Janus).  Next he shows up as  Boromir in the first of The Lord of the Rings films. He played Dr. Merrick in the horror SF film The Island and was James in horror flick The Dark high purports to be based off Welsh myth. Following in the horror vein, he’s Chris Da Silva in Silent Hill (which gets a sequel later in Silent Hill: Revelation) and in yet more horror is John Ryder in the remake of the The Hitcher. (Was it so good that it yearned for a remake? I doubt it.) Black Death — yes more horror — and the character of Ulric ensued next. Finally something not of a horror nature in playing Zeus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief happened. I’m going to forgo listing the subsequent horror films he’s in and just finally note that he’s in The Martian playingMitch Henderson. (CE)
  • Born April 17, 1971 – François Roca, age 50.  Four covers for Michael Hoeye’s tales of a watchmaker mouse – thus titles like The Sands of Time and Time Stops for No Mouse.  [JH]
  • Born April 17, 1972 Jennifer Garner, 49. Back before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were Marvel Comic movies which have not been retconned into the MCU reality. Such was the case with Elektra and its lead character of Elektra Natchios. Don’t remember anything about the film anymore. She also had the same role in Daredevil which was at best an OK film though I’m fond of the Kingpin character. (CE)
  • Born April 17, 1973 Cavan Scott, 48. To my thinking, there’s somewhat of an arbitrary line between fanfic and professional writing. (Ducks quickly.) Which bring me to the world of fiction set in media universes where a lot of fanfic is set. This writer has apparently specialized in such writing to the extent that he has novels in the universes of Doctor Who (including the full blown subgenre of Professor Bernice Summerfield), Blake’s 7, Judge Dredd, Skylanders Universe, The Tomorrow People, Star Wars and Warhammer Universe. Judge Dredd?  Novels? Who knew? (CE)
  • Born April 17, 1985 Rooney Mara, 36. She first shows up as Mary Lambert in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, a slasher film, followed by being Nancy Holbrook in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and then Tiger Lily in Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan. Since then, she’s been M in A Ghost Story, and lastly is Molly Cahill in Nightmare Alley. (CE) 
  • Born April 17, 1991 – Ryn Katryn, age 30.  Two short stories (under another name), several hundred covers for us; other fields too.  Here is One Little Spell.  Here is Dim Glows the Horizon.  Here is Ashes of Chadanar.  Here is Humble Beginnings (showing Far Reach Space station).  [JH]

(6) NOT VERY NICE. ScreenRant nominates them as “The 10 Most Powerful Sci-Fi Villains Ever, Ranked”. Checking in at number 10 —

10 The Daleks (Doctor Who)

The Doctor’s oldest and most powerful opponents, the Daleks didn’t start out as intimidating as they would become. At the start, they were confined to their city on their home planet Skaro and were reliant on static electricity to stay alive.

From there, however, they overcame all their early deficiencies and spread out to create a Dalek Empire across space and time, to the point where even the god-like Time Lords were no match for them. If it wasn’t for their many terrible masterplans, their penchant for in-fighting, and how helpless they are against the Doctor, they would have subjugated the universe.

(7) WHEN IN THE FUTURE. At GeekTyrant, “The Sci-Fi Timeline Infographic Shows Us When Popular Sci-Fi Films and Games Take Place”.

We’re all used to seeing movies and games set in the future, but often the date can seem a bit abstract.

We’ve brought together some of our favourites to show yo the timeline and where they all fit. There were some surprises!

See for yourself, and decide if the writers got it right!

(8) DIVERSITY ONE OF THE GOALS. “NASA Picks SpaceX to Land Next Americans on Moon” says the NASA press release.

NASA is getting ready to send astronauts to explore more of the Moon as part of the Artemis program, and the agency has selected SpaceX to continue development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface. At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon. Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of color on the lunar surface.

The agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for their multi-day journey to lunar orbit. There, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the surface of the Moon. After approximately a week exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth.

The firm-fixed price, milestone-based contract total award value is $2.89 billion.

(9) THE MARTIAN HOP. “NASA to Attempt First Controlled Flight on Mars As Soon As Monday” says the space agency.

NASA is targeting no earlier than Monday, April 19, for the first flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at approximately 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT).

Data from the first flight will return to Earth a few hours following the autonomous flight. A livestream will begin at 6:15 a.m. EDT (3:15 a.m. PDT), as the helicopter team prepares to receive the data downlink in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Watch on NASA Television, the agency appwebsite, and social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.

If the flight takes place April 19, a postflight briefing will be held at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT).

(10) TYRANNOSAURUS CENSUS. The Conversation wants to know “How many ‘Tyrannosaurus rex’ walked the Earth?”

During 2.4 million years of existence on Earth, a total of 2.5 billion Tyrannosaurus rex ever lived, and 20,000 individual animals would have been alive at any moment, according to a new calculation method we described in a paper published on April 15, 2021 in the journal Science.

To estimate population, our team of paleontologists and scientists had to combine the extraordinarily comprehensive existing research on T. rex with an ecological principle that connects population density to body size.

From microscopic growth patterns in bones, researchers inferred that T. rex first mated at around 15 years old. With growth records, scientists can also generate survivorship curves – an estimate of a T. rex‘s chances of living to a given age. Using these two numbers, our team estimated that T. rex generations took 19 years. Finally, T. rex existed as a species for 1.2 to 3.6 million years. With all of this information, we calculate that T. rex existed for 66,000 to 188,000 generations….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Redshirts Always Die invites fans to “Watch: DeForest Kelley read his poem for Star Trek’s 25th anniversary”. Starts at 4:23.

DeForest Kelley appeared at a Creation Entertainment convention in 1994, and the audience had the pleasure of listening to him read his final hilarious and poignant ode to the show, cast, Gene Roddenberry, and others who’d made the show possible. Kelley provided tongue-in-cheek updates on the actors’ lives in his Southern drawl. He even throws in a few snide comments here and there that make the poem that much better. (Especially when he’s talking about a certain green-blooded individual)

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

27 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/17/21 Parsley Scrolls Are Filed In Thyme

  1. (3) MISTAKES WERE MADE, SHORTS WERE FRIED.

    Hoo boy, I hope Gideon Marcus over at Galactic Journey is prepared from the nasty lawsuit by JWC which is surely coming his way! 😀

  2. (5) It was also the birthday of Rowdy Roddy Piper (born Roderick George Toombs in 1954) who was most famous as a professional wrestler, but starred in They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown, a bunch of C movies and managed a guest spot in The Highwayman.

    Also Nick Hornby (b. 1957). Some of his work has SF elements. I seem to recall a short story involving a VHS player that allowed you fast forward through time which of course would now be looked on sadly by people who don’t recall the joy of trying to find a particular scene on a VHS tape. Also did some music with Ben Folds. “Some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know – he’s got his own blog.”

    Through all the tumult and the strife
    I hear yon twitter trolling
    It lights a pixels in my file
    How can I keep from scrolling?

  3. 5) Garner was also the lead in Alias, a Jar Jar Abrams-helmed spy show that ended up spending a lot of time dealing with the works of a fictional Italian Renaissance type who was a little bit Leonardo, a little bit Tesla-except-his-inventions-actually-worked.

    @Jack Lint: I have come here to scroll pixels and kick ass, and I’m all out of pixels,

  4. Linda Deneroff noted:
    My first convention was at the Statler-Hilton (1971 Lunacon).
    Likewise, my first Con was at the Statler-Hilton a few years later (one of John Townsley’s Star Trek conventions).

  5. (2) I’m not sure if the commentary about Spock being bad at estimating odds is an attempt at humor based on pretending one doesn’t understand how fiction works, which isn’t my favorite kind if humor, or just an example of actually not understanding how fiction works. When Spock says “there’s almost no chance this plan will succeed” and then it succeeds, that’s not the screenwriter’s way of saying Spock was wrong. That’s the screenwriter’s way of impressing us with how heroic and/or lucky the heroes are, because Spock was right to say they had almost no chance and yet they made it anyway. The fact that this one-in-a-million success keeps happening in lots of stories is evidence only of popular dramatic devices being popular.

  6. (2) TV Tropes has a page about straw men used to prove that emotion is better than logic. Unsurprisingly, they call it Straw Vulcan. (Though to be fair, they point out that Spock doesn’t always match the trope. It depends on the writer.) The discussion of the various different ways the trope is used, and the various justifications offered is pretty interesting, though.

    (Fair warning: TV Tropes is a full-blown wiki covering all sorts of fiction, and can be an incredible time sink if you’re not careful!)

  7. Eli: It would be amusing to have a Spock story in which he notices that he keeps living through situations that have enormous odds against him – and thus deduces that he’s in fiction.

  8. 9) … all the rising helicopters
    do a dance called the Martian Hop….

    Unlock your wings and get them spinning
    Set the engineers a-grinning, (for the)
    Ingenuity of a Martian Hop!

    (stymied here a bit by the limited set of rhymes for “helicopters”)

  9. @David Shallcross: Ornithopter should be useful; diopter possibly less so.

    @Everyone: I’d never seen this before. It’s kind of prophetic–but what isn’t?

  10. Andrew (not Werdna): It would be amusing to have a Spock story in which he notices that he keeps living through situations that have enormous odds against him – and thus deduces that he’s in fiction.

    A corollary of Redshirts?

  11. @Mike: Yes. A Redshirts where the main characters figure it out. (Kirk comes close – in the Star Trek universe, solving a Kobayashi Maru scenario the way he did demonstrates a practical talent – being able to amuse the godlike beings that control the scenarios of life into letting you get by).

  12. In one of the Discworld books, I forget which one, the characters make a point of saying “It’s a million to one chance, but it just might work.” Loudly and to no one in particular.

    Spock’s odds are always computed to a ridiculous number of significant digits.

  13. “Guards, Guards!” I think. The one that has characters carefully adjusting their attempt so the odds were very close to a million to one, so that success was guaranteed.

  14. (Fair warning: TV Tropes is a full-blown wiki covering all sorts of fiction, and can be an incredible time sink if you’re not careful!)

    At one point, for this reason, it was traditional to accompany links to TV Tropes with “Warning: Link goes to TV Tropes”.

  15. (2) I can’t help but think that Spock is teasing them with those overly-precise numbers.

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