Pixel Scroll 4/24/20 Fillie And The Poor Gods Are Stalkin’, Bring A Pixel, Scroll Your Feet

(1) MURDERBOT SPEAKS. Tor.com readies us for the May 5 release of Martha Wells’ next Murderbot book by hosting a dialog between two important characters: “Feelings REDACTED: What Happens When Murderbot and ART Talk to Instagram”.

The pair talked love, hate, fanfiction, feelings, quarantine tips, lemon cake, human flesh, dogs, robot babies, and, of course, Sanctuary Moon….

What really happened on episode 231 of Sanctuary Moon?
MB: It was clearly a dream.
ART: You’re wrong.
MB: So when the Mech Pilot was attacked by his evil duplicate who tried to hit him with a giant hammer and then disappeared, you think that was supposed to be real?
ART: It was an artistic choice.

(2) TRAVIS MCCREA APOLOGIZES. In the aftermath of John Van Stry’s court victory over book pirate Travis McCrea, McCrea has tweeted an apology. Take it for what it’s worth. Thread starts here.

(3) FANFICTION ETIQUETTE. The Mary Sue built a good story around the author’s recent Twitter thread: “N.K. Jemisin Reminds Us of the First Rule of Fanfiction”.

No, the first rule of fanfiction is not “we don’t talk about fanfiction.” Many writers happily discuss reading and writing fic—as evidenced by N.K. Jemisin, the three-time Hugo Award-winning novelist, describing how she still writes and reads it herself. The first rule of fanfiction is “you do not try and get the original creator to read your fanfiction.” How quickly we forget our Internet history.

… In explaining how these things are, Jemisin is not discouraging fans from making their own fanworks centered around her creations. She just cannot be personally involved, and it’s a serious breach of fandom etiquette to ask.

(4) BRUCE PELZ WOULD HAVE LOVED THIS. Bob Byrne is passing the time with this inventive tribute to Rex Stout’s famous sleuth: “Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days 5, 6, and 7”. Which means seeing everything from Archie Goodwin’s viewpoint. For example —

DAY SIX – 2020 Stay at Home (SaH)

It was a pleasant spring morning, so I took my delayed walk today. It was good to stretch the legs and breathe the freshest air I’ve inhaled since moving here many years ago. I was out for two hours, enjoying open space – and the absence of Nero Wolfe. I saw other people walking and jogging, mostly keeping the required distance. It’s going to take some time for me to get used to the lack of noise. The buzz of conversation and the traffic ruckus just aren’t there. It’s not bad – just different.

I wasn’t in the office when Wolfe got down from the plant rooms at 11, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was at his desk, reading a thick book about Huey P. Long. He acknowledged my arrival and resumed reading. That was fine with me. I let him know I would be in the basement for a while and departed.

We keep a small file cabinet down there, which contains files related to unsolved cases. I’ve never written one up, but yes, there were occasions when the great Nero Wolfe didn’t get the bad guy. Or at least, couldn’t prove the issue. I’ll admit, his batting average was much better than Ty Cobb’s, but still, it did happen. And it rankled me at least as much as it did him. I’m the one who gathers the clues. I can’t help thinking, on some of them, that if I’d gotten one more piece of something, it might have made all the difference….

(Heading explained: It was from Bruce Pelz I first heard of Nero Wolfe.)

(5) WHO WAS THAT MASKED FAN? The New Yorker chronicles “The Superfans Springing Into Mask-Making Action”.

In the pandemic economy, face masks are like bars of gold. Hoarders are hoarding them. Governors are bartering for them. Hospital workers desperately need them. New Yorkers, ordered by Governor Cuomo last week to cover their faces in public, are repurposing bandannas and boxer shorts. In Rosie the Riveter fashion, Americans with crafting skills—among them quilters, Broadway seamstresses, sportswear manufacturers, origami artists, and grandmothers—have sprung into action. But one group has special mask-making powers: cosplayers, the superfans who specialize in making and wearing costumes. Never has the ability to whip up a Spider-Man mask or a Stormtrooper helmet been so useful.

“Cosplayers have big hearts,” Monica Paprocki, a thirty-five-year-old accountant in Chicago, said. Paprocki, who runs the fandom site Geeks A Gogo, started cosplaying in 2014 and taught herself how to sew by watching YouTube videos. She dressed as Princess Jasmine at Wizard World Chicago in 2019, the year after her Phoenix Monster costume, from the board game Rising Sun, won the Golden Needle Award at a gaming convention in Indianapolis. “It had articulated wings that I controlled with a remote control,” she said. This June, she was going to dress as Buzz Lightyear at the Origins Game Fair, in Ohio, but it had been postponed until October. When she saw a Facebook group requesting homemade medical supplies, she recruited fellow-cosplayers. “Before everything closed down, I had a stash of cotton fabric and materials here in my house,” she said. “I work my regular nine-to-five job in accounting. Right after that, I start sewing.”

(6) BESTSELLERS TALK AMONG THEMSELVES. Via Shelf Awareness comes word that Stephen King and John Grisham will hold a free online conversation discussing their new books on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 PM Eastern.

“In lieu of admission, the authors hope attendees will consider donating to the Bookseller Industry Charitable Foundation. You can register at grishamking.eventbrite.com or watch on Stephen King’s YouTube channel. Questions for the authors can go use #AskKingandGrisham

(7) VALUE ADDED. “The Stockbrokers Of Magic: The Gathering Play for Keeps”WIRED tells how.

…A whimsical experiment in bartering kickstarted that evolution in 2010: A few years after the viral “one red paperclip” experiment—a Craigslister traded a single red paperclip for a series of increasingly valuable items until he managed to trade up for a house—a Magic player named Jonathan Medina embarked on a similar quest. Medina would trade from one random $4 pack of booster cards and keep trading up until he acquired one of the game’s legendary Power Nine cards— phenomenally rare cards widely considered very, very good. A pavement-pounding card trader, Medina blogged his experience in a widely read series of articles called “Pack to Power.” He would spend no money and, using just his wits, research, and networking skills, maneuver his $4 pack of cards into Magic wealth.

After opening his pack, Medina, in his words, began “hitting the streets to flip my cardboard.” By the time he’d traded with fellow players at gaming conventions and stores a total of 98 times, he had assembled an impressive binder stacked with valuable cards. It was at Gen Con, on a Saturday four months later, when Medina, groggy from playing Magic until five in the morning the previous night, handed over his binder in exchange for the $359.99 Mox Pearl card—a Power Nine.

“At the time, people were still trading based on nonmonetary metrics,” Medina says. “So when people read the small stories of the trades and looked at the math, they realized that they could be getting more out of their cards. This collective rise in awareness led to an interest in the financial side of the game. 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 24, 1955 — The X Minus One radio program aired on NBC for the first time. Written by Ray Bradbury, “And The Moon Be Still As Bright” is the tale of Mars expedition which finds the Martians extinct due to chickenpox brought to them by previous expeditions. The crew save one decide to destroy all Martian artefacts. Ernest Kinoy wrote the script from the story by Bradbury, and the cast included John Larkin and Nelson Olmstead.  The show would run from now until January 8, 1958 with many of coming from well-known SF authors including Anderson, Pohl, Asimov, Blish, Leiber, Heinlein and Simak to name just a few. You can hear this episode here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 24, 1930 Richard Donner, 90. He’s credited in directing Superman which Is considered by many to be the first modern superhero film. H’h. Well I’m instead going to celebrate him for ScroogedThe Goonies and Ladyhawke. Not to mention the horror he did — Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. Oh, and the first X-Men film which was superb. 
  • Born April 24, 1936 Jill Ireland. For her short life, she chalked up in an amazing number of genre show roles. She was on Star Trek romancing Spock as Leila Kalomi In “This Side of Paradise” episode. She had five appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as being on Night Gallery,  My Favorite MartianVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Voodoo Factor and the SF film The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything based on the 1962 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. (Died 1990.)
  • Born April 24, 1946 Donald D’Ammassa, 74. Considered to be one of the best and fairest long-form reviewers ever. His Encyclopedia of Science Fiction covered some five hundred writers and as can two newer volumes, Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction and Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction are equally exhaustive. I can’t comment on his fiction as I’ve only ever encountered him as a reviewer.
  • Born April 24, 1947 Michael Butterworth, 73. Author of, with Michael Moorcock naturally, two Time of the Hawklords novels, Time of the Hawklords and Queens of Deliria. He also wrote a number of Space 1999 Year 2 novels, too numerous to list here. He also edited Corridor magazine from 1971 to 1974. He also wrote a number of short fiction pieces including one whose title amuses me for reasons I’m not sure, “Circularisation of Condensed Conventional Straight-Line Word-Image Structures“. 
  • Born April 24, 1950 Michael Patrick Hearn, 70. Academic who has some of the best annotated works I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. I wholeheartedly recommend both The Annotated Wizard of Oz and The Annotated Christmas Carol, not to overlook Victorian Fairy Tales which is simply the best collection of those tales.
  • Born April 24, 1953 Gregory Luce, 67. Editor and publisher of both the Science Fiction Gems and the Horror Gems anthology series, plus such other anthologies as Citadel of the Star Lords / Voyage to Eternity and Old Spacemen Never Die! / Return to Earth. For a delightful look at him and these works, go here. Warning: really cute canine involved! 
  • Born April 24, 1955 Wendy S. Delmater, 65. She was nominated at Sasquan for a Best Semiprozine Hugo for editing the exemplary Abyss & Apex webzine. It’s particularly strong in the areas of speculative poetry and small press genre reviews. She herself has written a lot of genre centered essays, plus a handful of genre stories and poems. 
  • Born April 24, 1983 Madeline Ashby, 37. California-born Canadian resident writer whose Company Town novel created an entire city in an oil rig. Interestingly In 2013, she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer but recused herself on the grounds that her pro  career started with her ‘09 publication of a short story in Nature, so  her eligibility period had expired in ‘11. And her Machine Dynasties series is simply brilliant, and resonates with the later Murderbot series.

(10) HAPPY BIRTHDAY HUBBLE. “Hubble telescope delivers stunning 30th birthday picture”

It’s 30 years ago to the day that the Hubble telescope was launched – and to celebrate its birthday, the veteran observatory has produced another astonishing image of the cosmos.

This one is of a star-forming region close to our Milky Way Galaxy, about 163,000 light-years from Earth.

The larger object is the nebula NGC 2014; its companion is called NGC 2020.

But astronomers have nicknamed the scene the “Cosmic Reef” because it resembles an undersea world.

(11) AND IN MOTION. Hubble’s 30th anniversary image has been turned into a 3D “spaceflight” experience.

Experts created this visualisation showing the Giant Red Nebula and its smaller blue neighbour, which lie in a satellite-galaxy of the Milky Way.

(12) IN ONE SITTING. “The chairs of Blake’s 7” is a vast collage of furniture and show highlights assembled by the author of the Watching Blake’s 7 blog:

…So, here is a compilation all the identifiable seating seen in Blake’s 7.  In addition, I have thrown in a handful of tables, desks, lamps and other things that showcase how bloomin’ stylish Blake’s 7 was, and how the BBC props store contained a wealth of magnificent design artefacts.

First on the list —

Folding chair
Fred Scott, for Hille International
1960’s
Seen in ‘Animals’

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful moments in Blake’s 7, and a reminder of the sheer effort to get the series broadcast on time and on budget.  Sure, Avon slips at the end of this shot, and there’s no time for a retake, but let’s not forget the attitude in which he knocks the chair over.   I’m delighted to report that Fred Scott designed something robust enough to withstand the dirtiest ‘Dirty Harry’ kicking seen on screen up to that point.  Chair vandalism, or quality control?  You decide.

(13) SACRILEGE! The Chewie Millennial System: “Library books rearranged in size order by cleaner”.

A well-meaning cleaner who took the opportunity to give a locked-down library a thorough clean re-shelved all of its books – in size order.

Staff at Newmarket Library, Suffolk, discovered the sloping tomes after the building underwent a deep clean.

James Powell, of Suffolk Libraries, said staff “saw the funny side” but it would take a “bit of time” to correct.

“It looks like libraries will be closed for a while so we’ll have plenty of time to sort the books out”, he said.

“The cleaner is lovely and does a great job in the library. It was an honest mistake and just one of those things so we would never want her to feel bad about it,” he added.

(14) RIGHTFUL PREY. Let Atlas Obscura show you the elusive “Fremont Troll”.

AN 18-FT. tall troll made of cement clutches an old VW car underneath an overpass in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The car is an actual Volkswagen Beetle encased in concrete, which used to be red and bear a California license plate.

The Troll was constructed in 1990 after winning a Fremont Arts Council competition for designs to improve the freeway underpass, which then was a dumping ground….

(15) A MOBY FILE. “Oregon Park Rangers Decided to Bury a Perfectly Dead Whale Instead of Blowing It Up” grumps the Willamette Week. Tagline: “Do we really want to live in a state that won’t explode giant animal carcasses when given the chance?”

… On Saturday, the carcass of a 40-foot grey whale washed up on the shore of the Sand Lake Recreation Area north of Pacific City. For longtime Oregonians, news of a dead whale appearing on a local beach should ring a few alarm bells…

… In case you don’t know the story, in November 1970, a sperm whale of roughly the same size washed up on the beach in Florence, Ore. Local officials considered several methods of disposing the body, like dragging it out to sea. Ultimately, they went with the most exciting option available—blowin’ it up real good.

It was a bit of a disaster. The dynamite blew chunks of whale flesh 800 feet in the air, raining viscera down on bystanders and destroying a car in the adjacent parking lot. 

Which gives everyone on the internet an excuse to repost one of the most viral videos of all time:

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “No Maps For These Territories:  A William Gibson Docufilm” on YouTube is a 2000 documentary, directed by Mark Neale, of conversations held with Gibson during his book tour for All Tomorrow’s Parties.  It includes interviews with Bruce Sterling and Jack Womack and Gibson remembering that when he read “Burning Chrome,” one of the first cyberpunk stories, at Denvention II in 1981, he had an audience of four.

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

63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/24/20 Fillie And The Poor Gods Are Stalkin’, Bring A Pixel, Scroll Your Feet

  1. Mike Glyer: The Instagram image is supposed to display in my post.

    It does, but there are a whole string of those Murderbot Instagram posts by Tor.com, and non-Instagram members can only see 3 of them before being blocked by a “sign in or create an account” nag.

  2. When people say “this or that has never been nominated”, they’d do well to remember that the Final ballot consists of “Finalists” and that a whole heck of a lot of other people and works were “NOMINEES” – they just didn’t make the final cut.

    So there are really four categories of works out there, and it’s a classic pyramid:

    Base – everything eligible that no one placed on a ballot – GREAT UNWASHED
    2nd Level – everything that got named on a ballot at least once – NOMINEES
    3rd Level – the 5/6 Finalists in each category – FINALISTS
    4th Level – Category Winner – HUGO WINNER

    Numbers? You want numbers? If you’ve never been nominated for a Hugo, you’re in the LARGEST category, your ranks are mighty!

    What they are really complaining about is, they didn’t get handed an award they believe they deserved. THAT’s the flaw in the entire argument.

  3. @Cat Eldridge: I hear ya re. mask issues; I have to wear my glasses when shopping, and moisture from my breathing can fog up my glasses a little, making reading labels/seeing details tougher. Ugh! I thought maybe I was wearing it too tightly, but then if I loosen it, that’s at cross-purposes to the point of wearing it.

    @Bonnie McDaniel: I could post a photo of our masks (I’m too shy for photos). 🙂 My spouse made my masks and they are nice, though!

    Hmm, “Masked Filers Reading SFF” a la “Cats Sleep on SFF? Masked photos of Filers with their current read/listen! Coming soon to a File 770 near us, probably. 😀

    @Cora Buhlert: That sounds very stressful (mask breathing difficulties, etc.). I’m confused, though; why do you have to take the mask off (just) when driving? Is that really required? Related to the no-mask/bandana law? It seems an odd conflict in requirements just now. 🙁

  4. Kendall: Hmm, “Masked Filers Reading SFF” a la “Cats Sleep on SFF? Masked photos of Filers with their current read/listen! Coming soon to a File 770 near us, probably.

    Great idea!! Send those photos to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

  5. @Kendall: in theory, fogging glasses mean the mask isn’t tight enough — breath is escaping between the face and the top edge of the mask instead of going through. In practice (IME) what’s required is not eye-popping tightness but shaping the mask around the nose (with a wire insert, or by using stretchy material) — or maybe making the mask of some sufficiently puffy material that any gap is filled. A recent NPR article showed masks enhanced with a piece of nylon stocking pulled over them (over the entire head, like a throat warmer not pulled down to the neck) and reported some tests showing the result to be as effective as an N95.

  6. @Chip Hitchcock: Thanks. I figured fit/shape and positioning could be related, too, or that maybe I needed the part in front of my mouth to have more space (while keeping the outline as tight as I could). Ugh, more complicated than the simplistic patterns and videos make it look, IMHO.

    The designs I’ve seen have no wire inserts or head stockings, so it seems like other homemade masks must be imperfect like this, too?! And/or I breath too heavy or something. I just looked at a few images online and see gaps where I guess I have them. . . . (ETA: I mean what look like gaps sometimes, anyway, at the top near the eyes.)

    Anyway, my spouse is going to have another go at making masks. I’ll see if we have some kind of wire or similar materials. He used to costume years ago, so who knows what’s in the dusty old bag o’ tricks.

  7. @Kendall, I’ve been making masks for family and friends out of materials I have around the house. I’ve found that a straightened-out paperclip makes a reasonable top-wire for the mask. These are standard-sized paperclips, not large heavy-duty ones.

    In an effort to keep the ends from poking through the fabric (I have an old sheet I’m cutting up), I straighten the paperclip as straight as possible, lay it on top of the middle of a piece of electrical tape a little longer than the wire, and fold the electrical tape around it (ends in first, then sides together, then a tiny piece over each end again). Then, when I sew it into the mask, I sew through the tape, which holds the wire in place. This step may not be necessary; it’s probable that you can just sew the wire in place. But it makes me feel better and nobody’s reported being jabbed by the wire.

    So far, this system has held up to repeated laundering, for what it’s worth.

  8. @Kendall, I should add, THIS VIDEO is the pattern I’m using. There’s a link to a printable .pdf with cm and inch scale of the pattern (so you can confirm your printer isn’t printing it too big or too small), and the video is simple and easy to follow even for non-sewers.

    She doesn’t show inserting a wire. After I turn the whole thing right-side-out but before sewing the side seams with elastic, I just run the paperclip right up against the top seam (on the inside) and sew it in place. (Sewing through the electrical tape “tab” formed where the tape is doubled on itself.)

    For elastic, I use two hair ties (I have long hair so I have a lot of hair ties lying around), one on each side, but since that makes the loops uncomfortably small, I actually cut the hair tie (so it’s a single strand), tie a knot right at the end on each end, and sew the ends top and bottom to make a slightly larger loop than if I’d left the hair tie intact. (The knot makes it easier to sew securely in place.)

    My husband has a full beard and mustache; to accommodate this, I extend the pattern one inch down (I designate which side is down arbitrarily). It covers his full beard admirably and the folks at his workplace (he’s “essential personnel” — he’s a network administrator) say he looks a little like Hannibal Lector…. (The sheet I’m using for material is a plain solid gray.)

    Hope this helps!

  9. @Cassy B.: Thanks for the tips and video link! I’ll pass them on to my tailor, I mean, my spouse. 🙂 If he hasn’t completely given up. I have long hair but no long hair ties, but we have other things to use for ties, so that’s okay. I have a beard and mustache, too, BTW, heh, so that tip is appreciated.

    I’m sorry your husband can’t work remotely. I hope some folks at his company can, so he’s got fewer people around, or hopefully he can hole up in his office or something!

    @Chip Hitchcock & @Cassy B.: I talked with my spouse briefly and said I’d send him the information from your comments. He mentioned a more duck-like pattern he’d seen (making the area in front of the mouth larger, while still trying to fit to the face) and Cassy’s link seems like that style of mask.

    Anyway, thanks a lot!

  10. @Kendall, you’re very welcome! Tell your spouse that I just cut out the pieces first and then sew them; the lady in the video pre-sews the curved seam before cutting it out but that’s not necessary unless your spouse thinks it’ll make it easier for him. A sewing machine makes it all go faster and easier, of course, but all of it can be hand-sewed with minimal effort. Who cares if a seam is perfectly straight on a face-mask? <smile>

    Yes, my husband works on-site so that others can work remotely; he has to keep the servers running and the computer infrastructure intact. Probably 2/3 of his company work from home, but there’s still an extensive warehouse staff that CAN’T work remotely.

    The class divide is brutally obvious here. The high-paid salaried workers, who have houses and savings, can work, for the most part, from home, with a few exceptions like my husband. (He’s not in the “high-paid” category, exactly, but he gets a comfortably middle-class salary.) The hourly minimum-wage workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck have to risk their health and lives every day to pay their rent. And then they go home to more crowded living conditions with fewer ways to socially isolate from family and neighbors. And since class in the US is highly correlated to ethnicity, it’s not at all surprising that the death rates among African-Americans is so much higher per capita than that of white Americans.

  11. @Cassy B.: Mask successfully made last night. It came out small; I mean the printout was small, but he make it larger to compensate and still it seems small. On the other paw, it doesn’t seem like I really need my chin wrapped around (my breathing hole is not on my chin). . . . Still, I suggested if he makes another, to make it even larger. 🙂

    @Cassy B. & @Chip Hitchcock: My spouse also put a twisty in this one to help me mold it to my face. (ETA: Like the kind used on some bread bags.) It’s our first with elastic (ETA: instead of just ribbons to tie it), so it isn’t 100% perfect, but my glasses didn’t fog up in testing! Yay! He updated my other two masks, one to put in a large paperclip (way too stiff but works fine) and the other I forget if he put in another twisty or what. So yay! Thanks again, y’all, especially Cassy for the link & added suggestions. 😀

    Cassy, re. the rest, 🙁 is all I can say.

  12. @Kendall, I saw my pulmonologist Wednesday (his office is in a hospital, so it was more than mildly nerve-wracking to visit). He complemented me on the mask I was wearing (same design as the one I sent you) saying that it was a good design because it didn’t leave side-gaps like the pleated kind often do (here he gestured to his own paper hospital-issued facemask. So there’s a professional endorsement of the design from someone who should know…

    My masks, and the larger ones I made for my husband to cover his beard, wrap inward under the chin by a little bit… maybe, I dunno, half an inch? It has the effect of directing any stray breath that doesn’t go through the mask more-or-less towards me, rather than out away from me, if that makes sense.

    The advantage of making them at home is you can tweak the pattern until it fits just right!

    “Regular” sized paperclips, rather than large ones, are flexible enough to bend into shape without being way too stiff, But a large paperclip is better than no wire at all. My husband suggests doubling the very ends of the straightened paperclip back on itself with plyers if you can, to help keep it from poking through the fabric.

    I didn’t consider bread twist-ties; are they strong enough to hold the shape?

    In any event, SOME kind of wire is essential for us glasses-wearers, otherwise, as you’ve noted, your glasses fog up immediately.

  13. I’ve been considering using a straightened-out paper brad for the nose wire – it’s already flat, it’s just the button in the middle that’s a problem, and if you put the opening there, , even that goes away. (Some of them it may even be possible to take the button off.)

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