Pixel Scroll 4/26/21 In A Scrolling Way, It’s About That Pixel

(1) INTRODUCING BEST EDITOR. During last night’s telecast: “Harrison Ford uses Oscar soapbox to get some Blade Runner complaints off his chest”.

“I’d like to share some notes, some editorial suggestions that were prepared after the screening of, uh, a movie I was in,” joked Ford. “Opening too choppy. Why is this voice-over track so terrible? He sounds drugged.”

“Were they all on drugs? Dekker at the piano is interminable. Flashback dialogue is confusing. Is he listening to a tape? Why do we need the third cut to the eggs? The synagogue music is awful on the street. We’ve got to use Vangelis. Up to Zora’s death, the movie is deadly dull. This movie gets worse every screening.

(2) TRUST ME, IT DIDN’T WIN. EscYOUnited, in “Eurovision Movie’s ‘Húsavík’ does not win 2021 Oscar for Best Original Song”, admits its fans are disappointed, but notes how many other honors the movie has received – including a Hugo nomination.

…Sadly things did not go in Fire Saga’s favor, as H.E.R., Dernest Emile II, and Tiara Thomas won the award for their song “Fight For You” featured in Judas and the Black Messiah. Even without tonight’s Oscar, the Eurovision movie is still a two time award winning film. Prior to tonight the music editor team won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Musical for Feature film and “Húsavík” won the award for Outstanding Original Song for Visual Media….

(3) REMEMBERED. The Oscars 2021 In Memoriam video included Ian Holm, Max Von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Wilford Brimley, Ron Cobb, Hal Holbrook, Helen McCrory, Carl Reiner, Brian Dennehy, Diana Rigg, Sean Connery, Chadwick Boseman, and others with genre credits.

(4) BONUS MURDERBOT. Tom Becker pointed out Tor.com’s post of “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory”, by Martha Wells.

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory was originally given free to readers who pre-ordered Martha’s Murderbot novel, Network Effect. The story is set just after the 4th novella,Exit Strategy.

(5) MARTHA WELLS PROFILE. The Orange County Register’s Erik Pedersen tells “How ‘Murderbot Diaries’ author Martha Wells overcame a career in crisis to create the killer series”.

There was a time before Martha Wells created Murderbot, the character that narrates her award-winning science fiction series “The Murderbot Diaries,” when she thought her career might be dead.

After a successful start in the ‘90s, things had cooled down by the mid-2000s. When the final book in her “Fall of Ile-Rien” trilogy was published without fanfare, the soft-spoken Texan wondered if that was it for her.

“I was kind of at that point in my career where, you know, women writers my age were supposed to quietly fade away. It’s like, ‘Well, you had your shot, and that was it, and now go away.’ So I was not real optimistic about being able to continue to be published,” says the now 56-year-old novelist during a call from her College Station home, which she shares with her husband and three cats.

“I could not sell another book,” says Wells. “I knew my career was in a lot of trouble.”

But she refused to give up. Over the next few years, she got a new agent, started a new series, found a new publisher.

“That kind of got me back going again. I ended up also doing a Star Wars novel and did some work on some stories for Magic the Gathering,” she says, describing herself as plugging away but not soaring during that period. “I thought, ‘Well, this is probably about as high up as I can go,’ you know? It’s like, I’m not gonna win awards, and I’m not gonna be, you know, super popular or anything like that. But if I can keep going at this level, I’ll be okay.

“And then Murderbot just hit big,” she says….

(6) EUROCON. Eurocon 2021 in Fiuggi, Italy will be an in-person con the committee announced.

Just had green light for Eurocon in-person!

All attendees will have to be vaccinated or pre-tested for Covid 19.

If the con were to be held today, we could accommodate a little more than 200 guests. We are confident that it will be possible to increase this number in July. Hope to see you in Italy!!!

(7) B5 WAS THE PROTOTYPE. TechRadar boldly asks “Is Babylon 5 secretly the most influential TV show of the past 25 years?”

… If most TV viewers had no idea what a showrunner was back in the ’90s, even fewer could name one. Only superstar producers such as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue creator Steven Bochco were big enough to occasionally eclipse their brands. However, the name of J Michael Straczynski was all over Babylon 5, as synonymous with the show as Minbari, Narn and Vorlons – just as much as The West Wing was Aaron Sorkin’s creation or The Sopranos David Chase’s, Babylon 5 was his. Arguably more so, in fact, seeing as he wrote 92 of the show’s 110 episodes, including the entirety of seasons 3 and 4. 

Babylon 5 was an auteur’s vision on an epic scale. On the rare occasions guest writers were brought in, they were often genre legends such as Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison and regular Star Trek writer DC Fontana – this show was never scared to embrace the harder edges of science fiction. And just as would later become the norm with showrunners such as Russell T Davies on Doctor Who or Dave Filoni on The Clone Wars, Straczynski was the public face of his show, becoming one of the first writers to talk directly to the fanbase via the internet.

A veteran of ’80s cartoons such as She-Ra: Princess of Power, The Real Ghostbusters, and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Straczynski always had big plans for Babylon 5. He set out to tell a story taking in space battles, political intrigue, epic mythology and more, and wanted to do it over the course of five years. 

That may not feel unusual now, when shows such as Breaking Bad, Lost and even comedies such as Schitt’s Creek make a big thing of spreading their stories over multiple seasons. But in the mid-’90s, the Babylon 5 approach was seriously radical. Most of the TV of the era was built on standalone episodes, with serialization kept to a minimum to ensure episodes could be watched in any order once they ended up in syndication. That Babylon 5 should so brazenly break the mould was a big shock to the system for ’90s viewers…

… It was ‘Westeros in space’ before George RR Martin had even published his first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, a show that rewarded viewers who tuned in for every installment. Babylon 5 was a show purpose-built for streaming and binge-viewing, trapped in the era of broadcast and cable….

(8) ESSENCE OF WONDER. “Strategy Strikes Back: Star Wars And Modern Military Conflict” will be the topic on Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron on May 1 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

Strategy Strikes Back authors Lt. Col. Matt CavanaughMax BrooksAugust Cole, and Steve Leonard join Gadi and Karen to discuss Star Wars and modern military conflict. In the book, they made understanding strategy fun by the use of a common global language – The love of Star Wars. We’ll be happy to share that love with them.

(9) BILLIONS AND BILLIONS. What Carl Sagan used to say about the number of stars this fellow says about his bank account. SpaceX’s Elon Musk will host Saturday Night Live on May 8 reports NPR.

Saturday Night Live doesn’t usually have business executives host its show, but as pointed out in a story by The Associated Press, Musk is far from a stuffy corporate type. He regularly jokes around on Twitter, where he has nearly 52 million followers and has gotten into legal trouble for making disparaging remarks about critics and hinting that he might lead a buyout of Tesla that resulted him getting fined $20 million by stock market regulators.

… Not counting news interview shows and press conferences, Musk has made guest appearances on the CBS shows Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory. His voice has also been heard on the animated shows South ParkThe Simpsons and Rick and Morty. Plus he made a cameo in the film Iron Man 2.

(10) WOLFE SPEAKS. Colombian author Triunfo Arciniegas reposted Lawrence Person’s 1998 interview with Gene Wolfe yesterday: “DRAGON: Suns New, Long, and Short / An Interview with Gene Wolfe”.

LP: You have literally dozens of characters in The Book of the Long Sun, yet many times you have scenes with a number of characters all speaking in turn, without being identified, and yet their speech patterns are so clearly and cleverly differentiated that we’re never confused about who’s talking. Just how do you do that?

GW: (Laughs) I’m certainly glad that you were never confused! There are two things. Obviously, you have the speech patterns. Spider does not talk like Maytera Mint. And if you understand speech patterns, you should be able to put in any statement Spider makes, certain characteristic phrases or mistakes, or whatever, that will identify him as the speaker. The other thing is, that if you’re doing it right, the speech that, oh, let’s say, Maytera Marble makes under a certain circumstance, is not the speech that Blood would make under that circumstance. When Maytera Marble talks, she is saying something that only Maytera Marble would say. When Blood speaks, he is saying something that only Blood would say. And so the reader, if the reader is intelligent, knows who said that from what was said.

(11) HWA POETRY SHOWCASE. Horror Writers Association is taking submissions from members to its 2021 Poetry Showcase.

The HWA is proud to announce that it will call for submissions from its members for the Poetry Showcase Volume VIII beginning April 1. Stephanie Wytovich will be the editor for the volume. This year’s judges, along with Stephanie, will include Sara Tantlinger and Angela Yuriko Smith.

Only HWA members (of any status) may submit. The reason for this can be found in the word “Showcase.” The HWA is very proud of the tradition of poetry in the horror genre and of the HWA’s support for poetry. This volume is designed to showcase the talents of HWA members which is why it is now limited to members….

(12) WILLIAMS OBIT. Charlie Williams, a long-time Nashville fan, passed away April 25 reports Tom Feller. He had been residing in a nursing home/rehab facility after being hospitalized for pneumonia.  He is survived by his wife Patsy and sister Jennifer.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

[NOTE: He is a different Charlie Williams than the fanartist from Knoxville.]

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 26, 2008 — On this date in 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered on the Cartoon Network. created by George Lucas and produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the series ran for seven seasons. It’s currently airing, as is all things Star Wars, on Disney+. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 26, 1914 – Horace L. Gold.  One novel (with Sprague de Camp), twoscore shorter stories.  Edited Galaxy (insistence on taking SF in a new direction resulted in “You’ll never see it in Galaxy!”) and If; a dozen anthologies.  A Best-Prozine Hugo for Galaxy; Life Achievement Award from Westercon 28; Forry, Milford Awards.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1922 A. E. van Vogt. I admit it’s been so long since I read him that I don’t clearly remember what I liked by him though I know I read Slan and The Weapon Makers.  I am fascinated by the wiki page that noted Damon Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of him? (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born April 26, 1925 Richard Deming. I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellasor in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were writers who penned novels in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series.(Died 1983.) (CE) 
  • Born April 26, 1939 Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic HorrorFrankenstein: The Monster WakesDick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born April 26, 1950 Peter Jurasik, 71. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes, spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5— Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film. (CE)
  • Born April 26, 1943 – Bill Warren.  Three stories, three poems; best known as a student and critic of SF film, see his Keep Watching the Skies!  Fan Guest of Honor at Ambercon 3, VCON 11, Loscon 11, MisCon 6.  Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS, Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.), Sampo Award (unsung-hero service).  Edited 15 posthumous issues of Bill Rotsler’s Masque. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born April 26 [Year unknown] – Miriam Lloyd.  Various fanzines under Goojie Publications as M. Dyches; Klein Bottle and Fanac as M. Carr with first husband Terry Carr; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie as M. Knight with second husband Jerry Knight; see here.  (Died 2020) [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1948 – Marta Randall, age 73.  Eight novels, a score of shorter stories.  Fanzine, Mother Weary.  Edited Nebula Awards 19, New Dimensions 11-13.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  Toastmaster at Norwescon VII, Baycon ’87, Windycon XIII, ConFusion 14, Chicon IV & V the 40th and 49th Worldcons.  Master of Ceremonies at Con*Stellation V.  Pro Guest of Honor at ConClave VIII, WisCon 7, Lunacon 29.  First female President of SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).  [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1952 Peter Lauritson, 69. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Trek films. (CE) 
  • Born April 26, 1955 – Brad W. Foster, age 66.  Widely-applauded fanartist.  Eight Hugos.  Chesley.  Rebel, Neffy (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), Rotsler Awards.  Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 10, Loscon 18, Westercon 49, Norwescon XX, Conestoga 9, ReConStruction the 10th NASFiC (N. Amer. SF Con, since 1975 held when Worldcon is overseas), Sasquan the 73rd Worldcon.  [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1967 – Nicholas Whyte, age 54.  Hugo Administrator twice and still alive; at it again this year and Worldcon Site Selection too.  Dr Who fan which is less nearly unique.  Reads 200-300 books a year (“in non-plague times, I have a long commute”).  Announced as Fan Guest of Honour for Eastercon 72 (April 2022).  Helpful fan with catholic (I know I didn’t capitalize that, go look it up) taste.  [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1969 Gina Torres, 52.  The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And of course Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine? (CE) 

(15) I’M JUST DREW THAT WAY. Daniel Dern found the excuse to give this item its title in io9’s production news roundup “Marvel She-Hulk Filming Pictures Sees Tatiana Maslany on Set”:

Tom Swift joins Nancy Drew in the synopsis for “The Celestial Visitor” airing May 12.

TIAN RICHARDS (“BURDEN,” “DUMPLIN”) GUEST STARS AS TOM SWIFT – As things begin to go haywire at The Claw, a striking stranger appears looking for Nancy (Kennedy McMann), and announces himself as the billionaire Tom Swift (guest star Tian Richards).

(16) BIG CHAP. Yahoo! Entertainment’s Ethan Alter discusses a rare find: “’Alien’ Day: The terrifying, long-lost Xenomorph prototype never before seen in public” – photos at the link.

Here’s an #AlienDay reveal that’ll make you happier than a long-haul space tug crew member headed back to Earth: A piece of ultra-rare Alien memorabilia that was blasted out of the airlock four decades ago has been salvaged and is now up for sale. On April 29, Julien’s Auctions is unveiling a long-lost early prototype of H.R. Giger’s classic Xenomorph design as the centerpiece attraction in a genre-themed “Hollywood Legends” auction. Known as “Big Chap,” this version of the franchise’s signature creature features a translucent design that’s distinctly different than the opaque acid-spitting monster we know and love. 

It should be noted that bidding on the Big Chap starts at $40,000. But you can get a closer look at the big guy for free courtesy of our exclusive virtual experience, which allows you to zoom in on Giger’s original vision for the Xenomorph, which evolved out of the Swiss artist’s pioneering “biomechanoid” designs. (Giger died in 2014.)

(17) WARP FACTORY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Here is a ten-minute physics briefing on some recent research of SFnal relevance from the wonderful PBS Space Time: there are “NEW Warp Drive Possibilities”.

That Einstein guy was a real bummer for our hopes of a star-hopping, science-fiction-y future. His whole “nothing travels faster than light” rule seems to ensure that exploration of even the local part of our galaxy will be an excruciating slow. But Einstein also gave us a glimmer of hope. He showed us that space and time can be warped – and so the warp drive was conceived. Just recently, a couple of papers contend that these are not pure science fiction.

This briefing builds on another PBS Space Time video from five years ago that introduces the notion of an FTL warp drive asking “Is The Alcubierre Warp Drive Possible?” Since then it has racked up 2.4 million views.

Inspired by Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, physicist Miguel Alcubierre set out to transform one of the cornerstones of science fiction iconography, the Warp Drive, into reality. But is it even possible? Can we “warp” the fabric of reality so that we can break the speed of light?

(18) THREE’S A CHARM. Ingenuity buzzes Mars again. CNN has the story — “Ingenuity Mars helicopter achieves fastest, farthest flight yet”.

… Ingenuity exceeded speeds and distances beyond what it proved capable of doing during testing on Earth before launching to Mars.

The helicopter flew at 1:31 a.m. ET, or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time. Data and imagery began streaming into the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, at 10:16 a.m. ET Sunday. The Perseverance rover captured an image of the helicopter in flight and shared it shortly after.

(19) AND GNAW, THE GNEWS. Another Dern special, inspired by Gizmodo’s article “Beavers Take Down Canada Internet Service After Chewing Cables”.

…Tumbler Ridge, a tiny municipality in northeastern British Columbia with a population of about 2,000 people, lost service for roughly 36 hours in what Telus described as a “uniquely Canadian disruption!”

“Beavers have chewed through our fibre cable at multiple points, causing extensive damage,” said Telus spokesperson Liz Sauvé in an email to Gizmodo. “Our team located a nearby dam, and it appears the beavers dug underground alongside the creek to reach our cable, which is buried about three feet underground and protected by a 4.5-inch thick conduit. The beavers first chewed through the conduit before chewing through the cable in multiple locations.”

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that one character’s gratuitous dancing was put in the series “because people enjoyed memes of Thantos twerking.” This spoiler-filled video dropped today.

[Thanks to Tom Becker, Rich Lynch, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Gadi Evron, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/26/21 In A Scrolling Way, It’s About That Pixel

  1. (7) I loved B5 almost in spite of myself – l caught little pieces of episodes in the 2nd season and one day realized I was hooked and it had become appointment watching.

  2. Reading, working the backlog.

    The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood.

    Csorwe is a young orc in the temple dedicated to the unspoken–an eldritch abomination and one of the gods in this multiverse–and she’s going to be sacrificed to it in a few years. She’s afraid but goes along with it. What else can she do, head out and starve or freeze to death?

    Enter Sethennai, he offers her another choice, comes with him and help him in his quest to find the McGuffin and reclaim his city–on another world–from an usurper. It’s a better deal than being a human sacrifice.

    First few chapters. This is pretty neat, like the setup how will Csorwe… Oh, a time jump.

    I guess I need to get myself into the story again. Kind of feels like starting from scratch, okay, hmm, Csorwe’s gained some skills over the years let’s see what she can do.

    Oh that happened rather fast, I suppose they’ll have to spend a lot of time dealing with… Oh, another time jump.

    I guess I need to get myself back into the story again, again. Right so even more new people and we get to tie back to the beginning.

    The thing! The McGuffin there it is, this is going to be aweso… oh, uh expectations subverted, I guess.

    You go Csorwe, you take your shot.

    It’s odd, both time jumps nearly bounced me out of the book but every time I got my head back into it, I had a good time. It’s slightly gonzo? multi worlds connected with portal-paths kind of setting. The magic is costly, Csorwe is a treat.

    Three and a half stars rounded up to four. Recommended.

    Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor. The adopted daughter of the angel of death, or at least that’s the story people tell about her. She has an inbuilt defense mechanism that casts power word kill when she’s threatened or when she chooses to use it. People either hide away or give her whatever she wants, in a Marvel flick this would be a villain origin story but the people here treat her as something between a witch and a holy woman depending on who you ask.

    She’s searching for something.

    Then we flashback and at this point, I started to bounce but pulled myself back into the story, we learn about the events that lead to her power and what she’s searching for. The story moves forward from there following till she reaches the opening chapter and then beyond.

    The ending was a bit sudden, short works can do that to you.

    The protagonist was interesting, the near future African setting was a welcome bit of variety, the prose nice. I liked it.

    Three and a half stars rounded up to four.

    The Dark Archive (The Invisible Library Book 7) By Genevieve Cogman.

    Book six had gone down a bit of a silly road, this installment brings us back into more familiar territory. Irene has a new apprentice, a fae though no fae has ever entered the library. She’s interesting and kind of funny.

    The assassination attempts start or restart. Irene has to travel to a different world and figure out who her new–or very old–enemy is and resolve the issue while training her apprentice and having sexual tension with Kai.

    Honestly, there’s little to say about this one, it followed the formula of the other six books, if you were into them you’ll read this, if you were getting bored then there’s little new to keep you invested save for the epilogue which teases something of the library’s origins and sets the stage for the next book.

    Three stars, the book is exactly what it’s advertised as, nothing more nothing less.

    Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark. Name contains some accent marks I don’t know how to make. Apologies.

    Lovecraftian horror with heroes that would have horrified Lovecraft; sexually liberated Black women.

    The Birth of a Nation contained dark magic. It turns people who already have hate in their hearts into beasts, the literal sort. Doglike monsters with a human glamor. Maryse can see them for what they are and she can summon a magic sword–useful trick that. But how can you constantly fight creatures of hate that hate you without falling into hate yourself?

    She who fights monsters.

    The horror aspects aren’t really my thing and having certain spoken accents spelled out in the text threatened to bounce me a few times, makes it hard to read. Still, it’s good, the action and breathing space even out, nothing drags, the themes are timely, the imagery striking.

    Three stars. Maybe deserves more, horror is hard to rate. Recommended.

  3. Here.

    Won’t be awake long.

    Have been relearning the downside of disturbing dust. Specifically, makes it hard to breathe. At least for me.

    Type quietly, please. You’d think we’d have better soundproofing in 9863.

  4. 14) Gina Torres: Cleopatra 2525 is criminally underrated. It started with the same level of silly charm that Xena had and then the plots improved.

    And then it was gone.

    @Mike Glyer 🙂 or a trick, bwahahahahaha. Probably not, though.

  5. Iphinome says Gina Torres: Cleopatra 2525 is criminally underrated. It started with the same level of silly charm that Xena had and then the plots improved.

    And then it was gone.

    Cleopatra 2525 was a great series that deserved to last a lot longer than two seasons it did. But then the Bruce Campbell series, Jack of All Trades, that it was paired with and which Kage Baker was madly, deeply in love with was also rather great.

    (Kage used to be on my chocolate gift list. She used to get CDs and books too.)

  6. 7) Babylon 5 fandom was really important to me personally. I made life-long friends in a B5 chat back in the 90s, they were there when I needed them, and a lot of that affection transfers onto B5.

    It’s the glue.

  7. I just finished Beowulf: A New Translation and I don’t see why it was nominated. The translation is uneven and not terribly good. The new-ish slang and current terminology weren’t blended well into the rest of her style. And, frankly, I didn’t think her style was all that great to begin with. Don’t even get me started on ‘Bro!’ as a translation of ‘Hwaet.’ I seldom put things under No Award, but I think this may be one.

    I’m open to contrary views, though, so if anyone out there really loved it, I’d like to hear your thoughts. It may give me a new perspective.

  8. Lorien Gray says I just finished Beowulf: A New Translation and I don’t see why it was nominated. The translation is uneven and not terribly good. The new-ish slang and current terminology weren’t blended well into the rest of her style. And, frankly, I didn’t think her style was all that great to begin with. Don’t even get me started on ‘Bro!’ as a translation of ‘Hwaet.’ I seldom put things under No Award, but I think this may be one.

    My favorite translation of Beowulf Is the one done by Seamus Heaney some twenty years back. I particularly recommend the oral version read by Seamus himself as the Irishness of his story comes out in his telling of it. It got nominated for a World Fantasy Award.

  9. I can remember being more excited about B5 than about any TV show before, or since — round about the opening episodes of season 2, for the curious. I don’t think it’s aged as well as I hoped it would. (And I’m not at all bitter that I posted a question on Usenet, and JMS said he’d work the answer into an episode, and then never did.)

    The article rings a bit oddly where it says that Ellison was brought in as a guest writer: he was credited as “Conceptual Consultant” throughout the series, but never actually wrote an episode. People in later seasons sometimes asked if he would. For myself, I figured that if it were going to happen at all it already would have by the end of season 1.

    (Okay, maybe a tiny bit bitter.)

  10. Ellison is credited with co-writing the season 5 episode “A View from the Gallery” (with Straczynski) – IIRC, he also appears briefly in the series, as an unnamed Psi-cop.

  11. @Steve Wright

    He also voiced Sparky the Computer in the third season episode Ceremonies of Light and Dark

  12. And in one episode, Ivanova is reading Ellison’s autobiography [1] and laughing.

    [1] which does not actually exist

  13. Lorien Gray on April 26, 2021 at 8:04 pm said:
    I just finished Beowulf: A New Translation and I don’t see why it was nominated.

    Because the writer is familiar to the Hugo crowd?

  14. Iphinome on April 26, 2021 at 7:12 pm said:
    Reading, working the backlog.

    The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood.

    I had some similar reactions. Liked the main character and the bit of romance, got thrown by the pacing. Overall I was probably left a bit more cold by it, perhaps because I saw the hype about it and had higher expectations.

  15. @ Iphinome
    Agree about The Dark Archive, which I liked.

    @Cat Eldridge
    Yes! Heaney’s version of Beowulf is terrific. I’d love to hear him read it.

    Thanks for posting the In Memoriam video from the Oscars. Remembering so many actors who did great work in multiple media throughout their careers (e.g. Holm, Von Sydow, Rigg) and the extraordinary Indian summer of Plummer’s work in the last part of his long life, it’s painful to think that actors such as McCrory and Boseman won’t have that chance, and we won’t get to see the great work they could have done.

  16. I really wanted to like B5, but by the end of it the infodump episodes just killed it for me.

    I always got the impression that it was a roleplaying game, one where the the GM has put years into worldbuilding and none of the players is quite as into it as the GM is. You can even spot the point where the GM gets a new girlfriend and needs to tool up an NPC so that she can be part of his game. And indeed the point where the two big bads get to confront each other, leaving the GM talking to himself in two different silly voices (and so does his throat in) while the player characters watch.

    Pretty sure that as a GM I have done both.

  17. Kindle just downloaded Chaos on Catnet for me – now which app downloads more hours in the day to read?

  18. @Andrew (not Werdna): You’d have an extra 40 minutes per day if you used Martian time. NASA has a java application here.

  19. @NickPheas – lol!

    I only saw it recently – my wife is a big fan and she wanted to rewatch it. I was hooked. by the end (well, actually the penultimate season – it seemed to lose steam in the last season), but I found some parts of it embarrassingly bad. Am I right in thinking the creator is the same who went on to reboot BSG? That show, I think, had a lot more gravitas appropriate to the circumstances.

  20. NickPheas on April 27, 2021 at 4:29 am said:
    I don’t think BSG and B5 are in any way connected.

    Now I have to go and check if any BSG ships made it into Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning.

  21. Meredith moment: Michael Swanwick’s most excellent Vacuum Flowers novel is available today from the usual suspects for a buck ninety nine. And yes, I grabbed a copy for myself.

  22. NickPheas says i don’t think BSG and B5 are in any way connected.

    JMS had absolutely nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica. He don’t think I’ve even ever heard him comment on that series.

  23. (7) It took an effort to watch Babylon 5 during its run. Broadcast on syndication-oriented and half-assed cable channels, the broadcaster and channel for every season had to be tracked down anew–and not infrequently during the season.

    At least one run of episodes I recall was being broadcast after midnight. Thank God for VCRs!

  24. @Cliff — Apologies if you already knew this, but part of the reason for the weird pacing in S4 and S5 is that for much of S4 they didn’t know if there would be and S5, so JMS did a lot of shifting so that the major arcs would all be resolved by the end of S4, which meant that S5 ended up containing a lot more of the interstitial filler stories that would have probably worked better if they’d been interspersed between larger stuff across two seasons. (I still kind of hate the telepathic hippie commune arc.)

  25. @ Joe H – thanks, yeah – so my wife explained to me.
    @ all – thanks for the correction about B5 vs BSG. Not sure where I picked up that notion.

  26. What the creator of the rebooted BSG did have was a history with Star Trek.

  27. @Cat Eldridge – I just finished rereading Vacuum Flowers. Surprising how well it’s held up for me.

  28. Babylon 5 was sometimes a hard show to track down.

    It wasn’t playing anywhere we had access to in Winnipeg for its first two seasons (it might have been on some cable channel nobody who wasn’t rich bothered with…), but a friend of a (now ex-)friend was copying and mailing VHS tapes of the episodes from BC. He sent the entire first season, and the first two episodes of season 2…. then stopped, leaving a whole cluster of people who were now doing regular viewing nights stranded at, shall we say, an immensely frustrating point.

    Fortunately, a new SF cable channel did pick it up in time for season 3, and even showed the first two seasons over first. Plus the now ex-friend who was getting the tapes ordered VHS copies from the company, which were ridiculously expensive but as good quality as you could get of a recording in those days (A tiny fraction better than we got from BC). So the viewing parties resumed and persisted through at least most of the way to the end, in shifting forms. (The final season is shakier than 4, but it has enough moments, mostly centred around G’Kar and Londo, to make it worth being a near-completionist.)

    The random BC friend? Eventually moved back to Winnipeg and even joined some of these viewing parties, and remains a longstanding JMS and B5 fan. He claims credit for suggesting to JMS the obvious solution for sneaking in reminders of ongoing events when the series was brand new, a solution which the show wouldn’t have been the same without; having the characters watching news broadcasts.

    Oh. Yes. And I married him.

  29. Trying to watch B5 in New Zealand was a challenge. IIRC it was on free to view TV but on Saturday afternoons, but over a year after US release. At the time I was new to Usenet, so it was a frustrating, wanting to take part in discussions but not wanting to be spoiled for episodes I wouldn’t be seeing for at least a year…

    I see B5 in a similar way to older Dr Who: yes the effects are clunky, but the stroytelling was innovative & that counted a lot more.

  30. Babylon 5 was one of the first TV shows I really watched, followed in any sense of the world; started when I was 13. I loved it at the time, and I still have very warm feelings for it. Heck, the fact that it could give its arcs time to breath is something I miss in this new world of 10-12 episode show season where the plot is laid out at break-neck speed. I liked how sometimes the big plots moved the background, and wasn’t front and center all the time. All the praise mentioned here I agree with.

    I also think there was another element though. Frankly, if a show with B5’s uneven levels of quality could keep people coming back for multiple seasons of serial and plot, it showed that someone with more money and casting muscle could do the same and more. Because people did keep coming back, even though the guest-star quality could be a coin toss between Outstanding and The Pain from episode to episode, the production value had… gaps… and JMS was much better at some kinds of writing than he was at others. And even when finding who had it was an odyssey.

  31. The only show I think that outdid Babylon 5 in terms of its writing was Farscape which frankly was just frelling amazing. To this day, I’m stunned with what that series did and the fact that they wrapped the series up in the stellar Peacekeeper Wars finale was most excellent.

  32. TYP wrote:

    Heck, the fact that it could give its arcs time to breath is something I miss in this new world of 10-12 episode show season where the plot is laid out at break-neck speed.

    Happy to hear somebody else ping on this point. With binging you lose the time-scale of the production. IIRC, there’s a scene where Zathros walks away through a doorway mumbling his usual unhappiness. The next season Zathros pops out a different door (on B4?) and completes his grumbling. An actual real life year had occurred! I was stunned by JMS’s forward planning to pull that off. The ‘SensaWonder’ at the closing of the time loop was fantastic!

  33. JeffWarner says Happy to hear somebody else ping on this point. With binging you lose the time-scale of the production. IIRC, there’s a scene where Zathros walks away through a doorway mumbling his usual unhappiness. The next season Zathros pops out a different door (on B4?) and completes his grumbling. An actual real life year had occurred! I was stunned by JMS’s forward planning to pull that off. The ‘SensaWonder’ at the closing of the time loop was fantastic!

    If I remember correctly, JMS wrote every episode save the one that Gaiman wrote, “Day of The Dead”. That’s incredibly rare in modern series.

  34. Cat Eldridge: Not quite that many. there’s roughly 18 episodes he didn’t write (I did a quick look and it would be easy to miscount), plus one he cowrote with Harlan Ellison (he gets the screenplay credit but they share the story credit. How that translates work-wise is hard to say. The vast majority of non-JMS episodes are in season 1, and a few in seasons 2 and 5.

    But yes, controlling 111 episodes almost in their entirety gives it a strong feeling of auteurship, and the ability to set things up well in advance. I’ve seen some modern shows pull off that kind of long term set-up (Steven Universe comes to mind) but all the others still involved teams.

  35. Lenora Rose says But yes, controlling 111 episodes almost in their entirety gives it a strong feeling of auteurship, and the ability to set things up well in advance. I’ve seen some modern shows pull off that kind of long term set-up (Steven Universe comes to mind) but all the others still involved teams.

    Creator controlled and written series are almost completely unknown which is what makes Babylon 5 so different. Even though JMS didn’t write a handful of episodes, he wrote far more than is typical for this sort of series. In contrast Farscape which managed to have a high degree of excellence in its writing used a multitude of writers. And Doctor Who in the modern era does rely heavily on its showrunners for scripts but also uses outside writers.

  36. I was lucky enough to be living in the San Francisco Bay Area while B5 was airing, so I had none of the issues with finding it that other people had: the TV stations that served Silicon Valley knew very well that SFF programming was a good thing for them. (There was a PBS station based in San José that ran episodes of Doctor Who daily on weekdays, with stitched-together full serials late at night on Saturday, and a full evening of anime on Sunday.)

  37. Late to the party to say:

    (5) MARTHA WELLS PROFILE. Great article/profile! Murderbot on-screen makes me hopeful but nervous.

    @Iphinome: Yay, more review-like items, thanks! The time jumps in The Unspoken Name sound a little frustrating, but I’m still intrigued.

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