Pixel Scroll 5/19/19 Pixelvision: Dare to Scroll

(1) FINE DESIGN. The Nebula Award is truly a thing of beauty! (As was the winner’s dress.)

(2) SPOILER OF THRONES. Daniel Dern says, “I guarantee that, alas, this WON’T Be the closing scene in the Game of Thrones finale.”

WE SEE JON SNOW IN BED.

NEXT TO HIM, WE SEE THE BACK OF A WOMAN WITH LONG WHITE HAIR WITH LOTS OF FANCY BRAIDED HAIR ON THE BACK OF HER HEAD.

JON REACHES OVER AND TAPS HER ON THE SHOULDER. “Daeny, wake um. You won’t believe the dream I just had.”

SHE ROLLS OVER.

Vg’f Fhmnaar Cyrfurggr.

(And a tip of the hat to this classic.)

(3) BANNED BOOKS. Die Kasseler Liste/The Kassel List is a huge database of banned books which grew out of an art project exhibited at the documenta 14

Die Kasseler Liste is a growing database that presently comprises 125,000 data sets. It documents the global scale of censorship. Book bans persist across the world, on all continents, with varying reach and intensity, depending on political and social contexts.

Die Kasseler Liste covers vast territories and a large time frame. The earliest entries are taken from the „Index Librorum Prohibitorum,” which the catholic church first published in 1559 and which is represented in the database in its final version from 1948. It is but one example for censorship originating not only from government institutions. Civil and religious institutions similarly have their own history of systematically infringing on the right to freedom of expression. The Catholic lay organization Opus Dei, also featured in Die Kasseler Liste, is another case in point, where rigid and coercive reading directions provide the members with a tiered index. On the other hand, school districts and school libraries in the United States of America also have a record of systematically banning books from their collections.

(3) BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE. Cora Buhlert recently took on the Retro Hugo novelette finalists and concluded that “The Golden Age Was More Diverse Than You Think”.

…But even taking the known problems with the Retro Hugos into consideration, the breadth and variety of stories on the 1944 Retro Hugo ballot is astounding (pun fully intended), as is the fact that quite a few of them don’t really fit into the prevailing image image of what Golden Age science fiction was like. And this doesn’t just apply to left-field finalists such as Das Glasperlenspiel by Hermann Hesse in the novel category or Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Magic Bed-Knob by Mary Norton in the novella category, neither of whom I would have expected to make the Hugo ballot in 1944, if only because US science fiction fans wouldn’t have been familiar with them. No, there also is a lot of variety in the stories which originated in US science fiction magazines.

So let’s take a look at the novelette category at the 1944 Retro Hugos….

(4) HISTORY OF TOXICITY. In “‘The Phantom Menace’ at 20: How the first episode of the ‘Star Wars’ saga created toxic fandom” on Yahoo! Entertainment, Ethan Alter interviews Simon Pegg as part of an article about how the reaction to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 1999 was the first sign of “toxic fandom.”

…The message of The Phantom Menace is that even the most stable of societies can topple with the smallest push — in this case a minor trade dispute that sets the stage for the rise of a previously obscure senator with imperial ambitions. As he did with A New Hope, Lucas cloaked that larger lesson in a PG-rated adventure that’s made with children in mind … but not the children who saw Star Wars in theaters in the ’70s. And so — unhappy with a Star Wars movie that wasn’t the Star Wars they remembered — a sizable segment of the fanbase made their displeasure known, embracing an image of themselves as the keepers of the flame, which meant that their opinion of Star Wars was the only correct opinion of Star Wars.

They found an outlet on the still-young medium the internet, where like-minded critics could congregate and launch their arguments or personal attacks anonymously out on the franchise’s creator and other fans as the prequel series continued…

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.

One of these movies did not feature Jar Jar Binks. I hope it isn’t too toxic of me to point that out.

  • May 19, 1966 The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters premiered in theaters.
  • May 19, 1999Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released theatrically.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 19, 1944 Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens, before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 19, 1946 Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of all-time favourite films. Also an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero and The Six Million Dollar Man. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 19, 1948 Grace Jones, 71. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last genre role to date was Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl
  • Born May 19, 1948 Paul Steven Williams. Editor, Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon and the PKDS Newsletter. Writer, The Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick of Philip K. Dick and Theodore Sturgeon, Storyteller. (Died 2013.)
  • Born May 19, 1966 Polly Walker, 53. She’s performed on Caprica as Clarice Willow and on Warehouse 13  in the recurring role of Charlotte Dupres, as well as performing the voice work for Sarkoja in John Carter. And she was in Clash of the Titans as Cassiopeia.
  • Born May 19, 1966 Jodi Picoult, 53. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder).

(7) TO THE MOON. Oliver Morton connects sff with the ambitious efforts to reach the Moon in “Lunacy: how science fiction is powering the new moon rush” at the Guardian.

…The robot vanguard has already set forth. Later this year India will attempt to become the fourth nation to land a probe on the moon; an Israeli attempt to get there failed in April, but its backers plan to try again. China has landed two robot rovers on the moon’s surface in the past five years. One visited the near side, the familiar pockmarked face seen from Earth; the other went to the overflown-but-never-before-visited far side. The Chinese space agency has talked of sending humans in their wake, perhaps in the early 2030s.

They may be beaten to it. Last year Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur and art collector, signed a contract with SpaceX, the rocket firm founded by Elon Musk, for a flight around the moon. He intends to take a crew of as-yet-unspecified artists with him…

(8) TOUGH TOWN. Today’s celebrity accident:

(9) REMEMBER ME TO HAROLD SQUARED. Andrew Liptak tells readers of The Verge that “A Memory Called Empire is a brilliant blend of cyberpunk, space opera, and political thriller”.

…That setup is the start to a stunning story that impressively blends together Martine’s fantastic and immersive world, a combination political thriller, cyberpunk yarn, and epic space opera that together make up a gripping read. Mahit’s situation is the perfect introduction to an unfamiliar world, as Martine moves her through the gilded halls of the Teixcalaanli capitol, meeting the politicians she’s been sent to interact with, the fantastical technologies installed in the city, and the poetry that represents the pinnacle of high culture for the empire.

(10) WOMEN IN SFF. Library of America publicizes editor Lisa Yaszek’s collection “The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin”.

Bending and stretching its conventions to imagine new, more feminist futures and new ways of experiencing gender, visionary women writers have been from the beginning an essential if often overlooked force in American science fiction. Two hundred years after Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, SF-expert Lisa Yaszek presents the best of this female tradition, from the pioneers of the Pulp Era to the radical innovators of the 1960s New Wave, in a landmark anthology that upends the common notion that SF was conceived by and for men….

Visit the companion website for more on these stories and writers, including author biographies, appreciations by contemporary writers, original pulp covers and illustrations, adaptations into other media, press coverage, and more.

(11) WHEN IN CRETE. Israeli author Yakov Merkin is not impressed. I recognize his name as someone JDA interviewed for his YouTube show.

(12) CRUMB CONTROVERSY, In “Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics” in Reason, Brian Doherty looks at pioneering underground comics artist R. Crumb and the vigorous debate about whether he should still be read or is so irretreivably racist and sexist that he should be “cancelled.”

…The brief against Crumb is both specific to his famous idiosyncrasies and generally familiar to our modern culture of outrage archeology. His art has trafficked in crude racial and anti-Semitic stereotypes, expressed an open sense of misogyny, and included depictions of incest and rape. Crumb’s comics are “seriously problematic because of the pain and harm caused by perpetuating images of racial stereotypes and sexual violence,” the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) explained last year when removing Crumb’s name from one of its exhibit rooms.

Such talk alarms Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics, the premiere American publisher of quality adult comics, including a 17-volume series of The Complete Crumb Comics. “The spontaneity and vehemence” of the backlash, Groth says, “surprised me—and I guess what also disheartened me was, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people booing Crumb are not familiar with his work.…This visceral dislike of him has no basis in understanding who Crumb is, his place in comics history, his contribution to the form.”

(13) END OF A THEORY. Yahoo! Entertainment carried many articles about The Big Bang Theory series ending, several linked in the opening paragraphs of “Sarah Michelle Gellar’s ‘Big Bang’ Finale Cameo: Here’s How It Came Together”.

In the end, Big Bang Theory‘s unluckiest lovebird lost his girlfriend but gained a Buffy the Vampire Slayer, staking claim to one of the series finale’s biggest moments in the process.

As previously, lightly teased, Sarah Michelle Gellar made a surprise cameo in Thursday’s swan song (read full recap here) as Raj’s date to Sheldon and Amy’s Nobel Prize ceremony….

(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Walter Lantz, Woody Woodpecker’s creator, did the opening sequence animation along with the animation of Bella Lugosi’s Dracula turning into a bat for Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. 

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

46 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/19/19 Pixelvision: Dare to Scroll

  1. 2) I don’t think that would work very well, given that the required actress has been dead for over a decade.

  2. 2) My original thought for the Won’t-Go-This-Way end was to bcra jvgu Obo Arjuneg va orq jvgu fbzrbar, naq jura fur gheaf bire, vg’f Qnrarelf…

  3. @6: Two giants in the same day! (I hope everyone has had a chance to at least skim As You Wish, Cary Elwes’s memoir of making The Princess Bride; there are many other good things in it, but his loving portraits of Andre the Giant are a feature.)

    @7: I’m still working through this — it’s a very meaty essay — but the opening paragraphs are a wonderful antidote to Ian McEwan’s recent idiocy, averring that SF is everything twits like him claim it isn’t.

    @12: Perhaps Groth needs to read other recent history, substituting “Crumb” for “Lovecraft”.

  4. 2) 11PM EST…So I was right…the final scene I posited was NOT what happened. 🙂

  5. (11) The irony of a Puppy calling anyone else a cretin is priceless.

    Note that this is also the guy who is such a huge Israeli fan of SF that he had no idea who Lavie Tidhar is. 🙄

  6. (13) FYI, the Big Bang Theory finale doesn’t play in the UK until Thursday. I dare say British fans would appreciate a moratorium on spoilers like this until they get a chance to watch it.

  7. 6) Polly Walker was also Atia of the Julii in HBO’s Rome, which isn’t genre but which feels like a first draft of many of the things they’d subsequently do in Game of Thrones.

  8. A large number of Rome actors turned up in John Carter. That movie really should’ve been better than it was.

  9. 12) Always the arrogance when defending old artists. I’ve read a lot of Crumb and found some of his comics about nostalgia for old music heartwarming and it is impossible to ignore his influence. But even with that, you can’t really ignore some of the misogyny. He depicts rape in his autobiographical works. It is one thing to make comics about fantasies, being an edgelord or playing on taboos, but again, in his autobiographical work.

    It is also true that some knowledgeable like comics artists, Spike Trotman, have criticized Crumbs work on afro-american women. Pretending they don’t know anything about Crumb is just ridiculous. Just because Angelfood McSpade is called “satirical” doesn’t mean that even the satire contains racism and misogyny. Which it does. He used to sell Angelfood McSpades chocolate bars.

    I do recommend reading the parts from interviews here to see that it is not only comics, but how Crumb has been speaking and acting in real life.

  10. And to make it clear. I am very much a defender of freeedom of speech in comics. 35 years ago, we had a one of our longest trials in Sweden against the Comics publisher Horst Schröder. He was accused of selling child- and violence pornography and among the comics on trial was Neil Gaimans version of the Bible and Dori Seda’s feminist fantasies of revenge on her boss. Wittnessing for the defense was among others swedish superfan John-Henri Holmberg.

    Schröder was declared innocent, but that was the death of the golden age of swedish comic book publishing.

    So I know my comics, I know enough of Crumb, I’m even enough involved in the BDSM-community to enjoy the stuff thaw would cause severe trigger warnings in others here.

    But Crumbs trouble has a lot to do with him. How he as a person has acted and spoken towards others. As en example when defended Donald Trumps sexual harassment. It has to do with him. I think even the racist and anti-semitic stuff would in a way be “tolerated” if he had made clear that those were different times. Hell, we have forgiven Sex Pistols for wearing swastikas.

    But Crumb has in several interviews spoken about assaults and what is now seen as rape on women and his comics echo that.

    I still find him a genius. Just as Asimov. But on the other hand, I still haven’t read anything by Harlan Ellison, because I heard of his treatment of Connie Willis before trying him.

    So keep on selling Crumb comics. Keep on appreciating the good stuff and find the pearls even in what isn’t seen as good stuff. But also accept people speaking out against him and acknowledge that they have very good reasons for that.

  11. JJ on May 19, 2019 at 8:11 pm said:
    (11) The irony of a Puppy calling anyone else a cretin is priceless.

    More than a Sad Puppy, Yakov Merkin has leapt to the defence of Vox Day before. Day, of course, regularly post anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and holocaust denial arguments.

  12. (2) Is that Newhart first? I only really know him as the man who introduced smoking to Queen Elizabeth.
    My immediate reaction to that description is Bryan Cranston (as his Malcom in the Middle character) waking up having dreamt that he shaved his head and became evil.

  13. nickpheas: “He awoke and it had all been a dream” — if it wasn’t already a cliché before (which I am convinced it was) there’s things like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the 1939 Wizard of Oz and Season 9 of the TV show Dallas that have all used that trope one way or another.

  14. @Jamoche I noticed that too, when watching it. It was “Wait, and wait what?” It felt like they decided to model Helium on Rome 🙂

  15. I had hoped The Big Bang Theory would turn out to be a dream. There’s an unaired pilot where Sheldon and Leonard meet a girl (Katie) on the street who has been kicked out of her apartment by her ex-boyfriend. They invite her to stay with them and that’s the basis for the show. I was hoping they would wake up to find her sleeping on the couch in the final episode of the current series.

    (6) May 19th was the birthday of Colin Chapman who founded Lotus Cars. I’ve always thought Lotus cars on their own were fairly genre, but the soon to be No. 6 is driving a Lotus Seven Series II (KAR 120C) at the start of The Prisoner. James Bond had a Lotus Esprit (sorta) in The Spy Who Loved Me.

    James Laimbeer was also born on May 19th. You may still hate him from his days with the Detroit Pistons, but when he was a high school student, he played a Sleestak on Land of the Lost.

    The Pixel Who Was Death

  16. 9) While I completely agree with Liptak that A Memory Called Empire is a very good book, I find his descriptors (“a combination political thriller, cyberpunk yarn, and epic space opera”) two-thirds inaccurate. And as reluctant as I am to disagree with as smart a writer as Ann Leckie over a mere cover blurb, the novel is not a space opera.

    I know, it’s just review/cover-copy marketing talk, but this particular pebble won’t leave my shoe: just because a setting includes a multiplanet polity of some kind–even an empire–with routine space travel and a space-going military, it’s not automatically a space opera, and as a matter of practical product description, readers expecting, say, The Expanse or some version of military SF are going to be frustrated when the only space-based action involved is travel from Station A to Planet B. And the on-screen violence is mostly assassinations and riot control. Space-opera-level action exists in the back story and is threatened in the present action but is not actually depicted. And “cyberpunk” exists in one bit of neurological tech and a quasi-AI system, both of which have become conventions all over SF. (The “punk” part of that label is even harder to see in this Le Guinian drama of cross-cultural confusion.)

    This book feels like the first of a series (I hope it is), and subsequent entries could easily include for-real space operatics and maybe even punkish treatment of neurological enhancements and world-straddlings AIs, but this volume has an entirely different set of delights. My navigational markers for prospective readers: Le Guin, Cherryh, Leckie, Eleanor Arnason, and Walter Jon Williams.

    On the matter of only-a-dream endings: St. Elsewhere has an even stranger version.

  17. @ Russell Letson

    I would like to add my voice to the chorus of praise for A Memory Called Empire. And I would agree with your post—you have properly IDed the book.

  18. @Mike: I’m not sure what you mean about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court having an “it was all a dream” ending. The book ends with the protagonist having returned to the present but deliriously imagining that his present life was a dream. There’s no indication that the time-travel story didn’t happen.

  19. I haven’t seen the movie version of the Twain, but based on the Oz ref I think @OGH is speaking of movies rather than books; the book version of The Wizard of Oz makes clear that everything really happened. The it-was-all-a-dream approach would make most of the sequels impossible; the movie Return to Oz worked around this by taking bits and pieces from the first few, ignoring how Aunt and Uncle end up living in Oz.

  20. @John Winkelmann — fascinating, but Ghu was that cheesy; thanks for reminding me why I never watched that show.

  21. Glad to hear so many compliments on A Memory Called Empire. I’d had it in my Audible wish list for some time; now it is in my library. 🙂

    @Russell —

    My navigational markers for prospective readers: Le Guin, Cherryh, Leckie, Eleanor Arnason, and Walter Jon Williams.

    Aaaaaand now I have to go look for some Arnason and Williams books!

  22. There were a number of film adaptations of Connecticut Yankee. I’ve only seen the 1931 version with Will Rogers, in which it was presented as having been a dream. I wouldn’t be surprised if other adaptations do this differently.

  23. If I remember correctly, the Bing Crosby version begins with Sir Boss pointing out a bullet hole in a suit of armor in a museum before telling his tale, which explains the hole.

    PS. Wikipedia tells me that that’s the end of the movie not the start.

  24. @sundry: I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Hewium named Pixew Scwowwus…

  25. The All Just a Dream page of TV Tropes says it all goes back to Zhuangzi in 3rd Century BC. Probably goes back further. How would paint it was all just a dream on the cave wall?

    The System of Doctor Scroll and Professor Pixel

    (I keep thinking it should be something like Professor Pixl)

  26. Andrew: What I had in mind was Mark Twain’s book, which doesn’t specifically use a dream, but has the Boss somehow getting sent from the 19th century to Arthurian times by being brained by an angry employee, and claiming to have been returned to the present by Merlin to get rid of him. So the reader can either take it as history, or infer that it only happened in the character’s mind.

  27. Chip Hitchcock — I could have been clearer — I was thinking about Twain’s book version, but the movie Oz.

  28. @OGH: It’s been many decades since I’ve read the Twain; I don’t remember details, but considering it a dream seems plausible as Merlin is shown as an utter faker — so how could he actually send Sir Boss into the future?

  29. Well, we’re all moving into the future.

    Merlin took advantage of the old trope “utter fake turns out to be capable of one trick” to chg Fve Obff vagb n ybat fyrrc.

  30. How would paint it was all just a dream on the cave wall?

    Human figure with thought balloon containing a picture of a mammoth hunt, obviously.

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