Pixel Scroll 5/3/18 In Space, No One Can Hear Your Shirt

(1) SAVING THROW. A replacement pop-up con for Universal Fan Con served vendors and a thousand fans in Baltimore: “How The Creators of Wicomicon Executed A Blerd Convention In A Week”Black Enterprise has the story.

Karama Horne was moved to tears when she entered the room at 1100 Wicomico St. in Baltimore on Saturday morning. She knew people were going to show up but just how many, she wasn’t sure. The week prior, one of the largest, blackest, most diverse fan-organized conventions, Universal FanCon, had indefinitely postponed its 24-hour event leaving fans stranded with hotel bills and plane fares they couldn’t get out of. Knowing the financial hole people were in, but also understanding the longstanding stigma and perhaps the consequences of the cancellation of the convention, prompted Horne and her friends to band together to create and hold WICOMICON on the same day Universal FanCon was supposed to be held.

(2) LET THE AI WIN. Dr. Janelle Shane has been at it again, this time with D&D character names  At lewisandquark: “D&D character names – generated by a neural network”. Some are pretty good. Not these —

Other names made perhaps less sense.

  • The Cart – Kenku Rogue
  • Nine Case – Dark Elf Fighter
  • Rump – Kenku Cleric
  • Gubble Daggers – Tabaxi Monk
  • Bog – halfling wizard
  • Jameless – Dwarf Champion Barbarian
  • Rune Diggler – Halfling Rogue
  • Borsh the Bardlock – Human Paladin
  • Spullbeard – Dwarf Fighter
  • Tovendirgle – Human Ranger
  • Pinderhand The Bugs – Gnome Wizard
  • Rune Wash – Human Wizard
  • Stumbleduckle – Human Paladin

(3) DEADPOOL AND DION. ScienceFiction.com says “Celine Dion And Deadpool Make Beautiful Music In ‘Deadpool 2’ Trailer”.

Deadpool 2’ has brought back the music video in its own weird way by having Celine Dion sing a song for the upcoming film. The music video gives us a glorious shot of Deadpool in heels dancing to the music.


(4) THE ROMANCE IS OVER. Digital Reader reports the pushback being given to Dragon Con about a guest: “DragonCon Invites the Infamous Lori James of All Romance eBooks as Author Guest”.

All Romance eBooks was at one time a leading romance ebook retailer, but by the time it shut down in late 2016 it was clouded in scandal…

ARe owner Lori James is being sued by a class of authors, so one would think she would maintain a low profile.

… According to the DragonCon website, Lori James has been invited to attend the con as an author guest. She will be coming under her pen name, Samantha Sommersby, but no matter what you call her this is still the same person who owes authors hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

DragonCon was first made aware of this situation 3 weeks ago by authors who belong to the (closed) FB group Pissed Off former ARe Authors

Dragon Con says they’re looking into it.

(5) PART ROLLER COASTER, PART VIDEO. A VR sci-fi theme park in China:

Looking for an out of this world experience during your next theme park adventure? Well, today we get our first look at China’s massive new Sci-Fi virtual reality theme park, the ‘Oriental Science Fiction Valley.’ This unique part is found in Guizhou, China, spanning over 330 acres while allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a futuristic world. The park features everything from VR attractions and much more, offering 35 rides in all for guests to enjoy.

The highlight of the park is the huge mecha at 174 feet tall that weighs 700 tons. CEO Chen Jianli said in a YouTube interview “There’s fierce competition in the theme park market right now.” He went on to add “We are trying to give customers a new experience by combining modern technologies such as VR and [augmented reality] with traditional recreational facilities.


(6) WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA. A “New Film Festival Planned In Beverly Hills” will feature the premiere of a new restoration of 1953 sci-fi classic War of the Worlds.The Hollywood Reporter says —

The City of Beverly Hills will be the home of a newly-created film festival aimed at bridging Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach.

While planning is still underway, the debut The Beverly Hills Infinity Film Festival is slated to take place Nov. 1-4 with The Paley Center for Media as its home base. Additional intended locations include the Writers Guild Theater and various private screening rooms at Beverly Hills-based talent agencies. Organizers also hope to attract Beverly Hills hotels for participation and various retail storefronts to host pop-ups for exhibitions and installations.

The first two days will feature screenings and programming for industry professionals. At press time, organizers confirmed that Paramount Pictures intends to premiere a new restoration of its 1953 classic War of the Worlds, which won an Academy Award for special effects, at the festival….

(7) TRIBUTE TO LE GUIN. Literary Arts announced tickets are now available for the Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin on June 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. Click here to reserve your free seat. Tickets are for General Admission (open seating). Reservations will be limited to 2 tickets per person.

This event will include tributes from fellow writers and close friends of Le Guin, including Margaret Atwood (by video), Molly Gloss, Walidah Imarisha, Jonathan Lethem, Kelly Link, China Miéville, and Daniel José Older. The tribute will also include rare documentary footage of Le Guin, along with photos and images from her life and work

(8) PROTTER OBIT. Literary agent Susan Protter (1939-2018) died on May 3. Andrew Porter recalls, she was the agent for many SF writers, including Rudy Rucker, Terry Bisson, David Nighbert, Michael D. Weaver, and David Hartwell. More info here.


  • Mike Kennedy and John King Tarpinian saw how the world ends in Non Sequitur.

(10) PREDATORS ON DISPLAY. Visit “Fran Wilde’s Museum of Errant Critters” at Terrible Minds. Exhibit includes her cartoons of each specimen.

Welcome to The Museum of Errant Critters – Established somewhere between 1812 and 2018 to catalog and archive mind-creatures that often behave in creatively destructive ways.

Visit our exhibits to learn tips and tricks for Critter Management… (results not guaranteed). In particular, we’ve found that identification and discussion helps with management of many of these critters. At least, it helps with identifying the gnawing sounds in the dark of night….

Guilt Gorilla

The gravity well near most Guilt Gorillas is extensive and can drag down even a stalwart creative. Feeds on: pre-existing feelings of not doing enough, overwork, and lateness. Distraction devices include planning calendars, reminding yourself to stand up and stretch once in a while, and that yes even you should take a @!%$#@ vacation now and then.

(11) DESPERATELY SEEKING SNORTS. Yes, this is what we’re talking about:

(12) COLLECTIBLES. If only you’d ever owned one of these in the first place, right? Syfy Wire chronicles “Awesome Stuff We Want: The original Star Wars toy vouchers are insanely valuable now”.

There is no shortage of Star Wars toys and paraphernalia these days; the franchise is an industry unto itself, with branded merchandise that spans from action figures to toiletries, and just about anything else you can imagine. But back when the first movie premiered in 1977, Lucasfilm and Fox had no idea how big of a hit it would be and what kind of demand it would create for Star Wars toys. They had to scramble to catch up, and so they issued vouchers that fans could redeem for toys when they were ready.

Up for grabs on eBay is one of those Star Wars Early Bird Certificate packages, which has remarkably never been opened. It’s just an envelope from 1977 that promises a handful of the first Star Wars action figures to arrive in the middle of 1978 — and it is now way more valuable than any of those toys. All it will cost you is $12,950.

(13) OH, NUTS! The Popular Mechanics headline reads: “Screws and Washers Are Falling Off NASA’s Multi-Billion Dollar Space Telescope”.

On anything that moves, from vehicles to rolling office chairs, you need to be wary of bolts rattling loose over time. Thread-locking fluids and tapes are a great way to make sure your suspect bolts stay where they should, and nyloc nuts can also keep components snug and secure.

Northrop Grumman might need to look into something along these lines, because apparently “screws and washers” are falling off the spacecraft and sunshield it is building to carry NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Space News reports that NASA’s JWST program director, Greg Robinson, said that hardware was found underneath the spacecraft element of JWST (everything but the mirror and instruments) after it was moved from an acoustic testing chamber to a vibration testing chamber.

“Right now we believe that all of this hardware—we’re talking screws and washers here—come from the sunshield cover,” Robinson said today at the National Academies’ Space Studies Board in Washington D.C., according to Space News. “We’re looking at what this really means and what is the recovery plan.”

And the Space News story has more details: “JWST suffers new problem during spacecraft testing”

(14) 24 KLEENEX PER SECOND. MeTV asks you to “Pick: What’s your favorite cartoon tearjerker?”.

Who got you to turn on the waterworks: Dumbo or Mufasa?

Some cartoon movies are so good, you could cry. In fact, many of them set out to make you do just that. But which cartoon tearjerker inspired the most waterworks for you?

Log your vote below for your favorite cartoon tearjerker to make your choice between classics like Bambi and those emotional Pixar movies that dependably dampen faces today. See how many others wept along with you!

(15) SCARCE AS HEN’S TEETH. There was a time when they weren’t so rare — “How birds got their beaks – new fossil evidence”.

Scientists have pieced together the skull of a strange ancient bird, revealing a primitive beak lined with teeth.

The “transitional” bird sheds light on a pivotal point in the pathway from dinosaurs to modern birds.

Ichthyornis dispar lived in North America about 86 million years ago.

The seagull-sized bird had a beak and a brain much like modern birds, but the sharp teeth and powerful jaws of dinosaurs like Velociraptor.

“It shows us what the first bird beak looked like,” said Bhart-Anjan Bhullar of Yale University, a study researcher.

“It’s a real mosaic of features, a transitional form.”

(16) ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONE. More Solo: A Star Wars Story promo – “Tour The Millennium Falcon with Donald Glover”

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

93 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/3/18 In Space, No One Can Hear Your Shirt

  1. #1) Even living in Baltimore, I hadn’t heard about the replacement convention, but I am seriously impressed that they were able to put anything together in a week. Congratulations to an amazing group!

  2. (1) Seriously good and impressive work there.

    (4) Lots of minor thoughts on this one. a) I think the trend of a shitton of guests gives skewed perspectives for both guests and fen, especially for cons with a more fannish bent (where I include Dragoncon, no matter that it’s probably largely run as a commercial enterprise nowadays). b) No matter who you invite, they are likely to have done some shitty thing; we shouldn’t treat or expect our guests as if they’re infallible. c) That said, our cons should probably become better at judging the political and cultural impact of the guests.

  3. 2: Here in 3800 Rune Diggler is the world’s most popular I-pop (Icelandic pop) band.

  4. Love those neural networks.

    @Karl-Johan: there’s “shitty things” and then there’s “breach of contract and embezzlement”. All of which is available with a quick web search.

  5. @Karl-Johan: there’s “done shitty things” and then there’s “breach of contract, fraud, and embezzlement”. All available with a simple web search. I’m pretty sure with the enormous money DC brings in, they can afford to pay someone to google their potential guests. Maybe then think “eehhh, should we invite someone involved in a massive lawsuit regarding the business they’d be speaking about?”

  6. Consarn it, the shoggoth’s up to it again. Well I’m gonna show it by going to bed.

  7. Yay, my last operation done! Lets hope I can get rid of my infection now with evil tubes and kidney stones gone.

  8. Kenku? Tabaxi? Clearly, in not playing D&D since 4th edition, I’ve missed some races that are now PC races…

  9. (2) Wasn’t Tovendirgle the Ranger a character in one of Dennis McKiernan’s books?

  10. (4) FWIW most articles on this haven’t mentioned that Lori James also owned OmniLit, which sold ebooks of all genres.

    The closure was also run in a way that was very controversial. The notice gave writers and readers alike with little time to act — a few days IIRC. And during a busy holiday season. Writers were screwed the worst, but so were readers. From what I’ve read, some readers lost thousands when the site closed — in credits they could no longer use, backups they couldn’t download, preorders that would no longer be fulfilled, etc. I’ve seen ebook publishers I loved go down, and most did a far better job at allowing access to downloads.

    But it happened nearly two years ago, so to some people on the Internet, I guess it’s already ancient history. :/ After all, it’s All the way at the bottom of the first page of Google results, so how was DragCon to know?…

  11. The AI can’t do worse than my novel favourites, Allanon and Aileron.

  12. @Karl-Johan
    4) As Anne Marble and Lurkertype mentioned, Lori James behaved very badly during the surprise closure of AllRomance e-books/OmniLit two years ago. There was about a week’s notice that they would close and the site had been selling advertising only a few days before the close-down notice. Plus, they took all of the 4th quarters earnings for authors and publishers with them and many readers could no longer access books they had bought and paid for. I am one of the authors who lost money, though in my case it was only a few dollars. However, I know of authors who lost thousands.

    Businesses fail, but the behaviour of Lori James was really beyond the pale. I can understand that people are outraged. Besides, the case was pretty well publicised and heavily discussed and not just in romance circles either, so it’s not as if DragonCon could have easily found out.

  13. (4), @Lurkertype et alii: I think you are attributing opinions to me that I don’t hold.

    First, I myself would be very loathe to put Lori James on any panel given what I know about her, since it would easily turn into a grievance panel, which isn’t good for anyone.

    Second, what exactly does being a “guest” of Dragoncon entail? From what I can see it’s little more than being a programme participant with a comped membership fee. If Lori James had been called a “programme participant”, would anyone have cared outside of a single panel trainwreck? To me, this is another indication that we should limit the word “guest” to the GoHs.

  14. 11) Followed the quote to his twitter feed and he has a new book coming out soon and I think I just fried some falafels myself.

  15. @13: the more-detailed story suggests they’re not worried enough — and given where the JWST is going (if I’m reading the math correctly), it wouldn’t be repairable the way the Hubble was even if we still had the Shuttle. I would hope that the acoustic testing was measurably more severe than what will happen during launch, but this is worrisome. At least they’re putting on more QA ~supervisors; we can hope they understand the work well enough that they’ll catch problems.

    @Arifel: cute, but maybe optimistic? (When I was flying small planes, I got several earfuls about bad radio practices….)

  16. For the Fourth, iFixit is doing a number of teardowns (inside hardware looks) of Empire/Jedi tech. I like iFixit because they helped me with a proprietary Apple tool once, and will make it possible for me to replace the battery in my Android tablet when I need it. I heartily recommend this event or product!

    To be perfectly clear, I am suggesting this item for possible inclusion in a Pixel Scroll.

    Never gonna scroll you down.
    Never gonna make you file.

  17. Matt Y: 11) Followed the quote to his twitter feed and he has a new book coming out soon

    Yes and I have a copy of it MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  18. 2) Rune Diggler is a fine name. Just ask anyone who has played Dungeons of Dredmor (along with Kingdom of Loathing/West of Loathing one of the great comedic RPGs).

  19. @1 is seriously impressive — not just pulling it off but getting the people who did have resources (time, leverage) to pitch in. I note the chance that the con will happen next year; it will be interesting to see whether a realistic view of attendance (and the absence of someone reported connected to multiple ~frauds) will produce something that doesn’t need subsidy every year. It will also be interesteing to see whether Universal FanCon ever happens, given that its plausible market has found a convention organization to trust.

    @Karl: what should we make of No matter who you invite, they are likely to have done some shitty thing; we shouldn’t treat or expect our guests as if they’re infallible. in response to the story? The point may be generally true, but in context it certainly looked to me (and several others) like trivializing. This isn’t a case like Doherty being assailed at MAC1 (1976) right after he’d taken over Ace; this is the founder disappearing with the loot.

  20. Hearing about cases like AllRomance is the reason why I utterly refuse to buy any ebook that I cannot download and keep offline on my own computer (with my own backups). I’ve spent too much on my e-library to lose it to a company failure. And even enormous companies like Amazon can be problematic; Sony shut down their ebook division years ago.

  21. I think I’m lucky I didn’t lose money on preorders when ARe folded.
    But here in 3894, it’s been taken care of by time.

  22. JJ on May 4, 2018 at 6:53 am said:

    Yes and I have a copy of it MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Oh yeah well I have…just a bunch of jealousy. Crap.

  23. Notes on recent reading:

    Gladstone’s latest Craft novel, Ruin of Angels, is not something to read casually (I tried); it’s much bigger (565 pages) and starts with two apparently-disconnected plots (an investment banker looking for opportunities, and a “delver” who retrieves bits of the city that used to be on the current site and still breaks through randomly) plus a bunch of subthreads and bits of backstory. (The back cover tells me one of the leads was in Full Fathom Five, which I remember none of.) I thought it was worth my time, especially once the pieces started coming together; some readers who don’t know the Craft Sequence may be annoyed by Gladstone’s sociopolitical slant.

    Curtis Craddock’s An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is a first novel, labeled “Book One in The Risen Kingdoms”. The political framework is too directly derived from early-modern Europe (particularly France and Spain) with a layer of wouldn’t-this-be-neat (the lands are floating with no obvious mechanism — the atmosphere below is undefinedly deep — so ships have both topsails and turvysails) and a layer of overly-systematized magic (each country’s nobility has a particular power — the first we see are travel-by-mirror and a sort of non-contact vampirism). The story, however, is good: a powerless scion, left to her own devices, has grown up self-driven and brilliant, supported by a skilled, cynical bodyguard who I found individual rather than the cutout that description suggests; the two get pitched into international politics when she’s given in an alliance marriage, and have to cope with many people trying to advance their own and/or larger interests, none of which they’re open about. I was wary of this given the Sanderson endorsement on the front, but the mechanics of the magic system are not nearly as obtrusive as I find them in his novels; I will be reading Craddock’s next one whenever it comes out.

  24. Meredith Moments:

    The Collapsing Empire is on sale at Amazon US for $2.99 as part of the ADD, along with quite a few genre titles (too many for me to type).

    Budayeen Nights by Geo. Alec Effinger is on sale at Amazon US for $1.99.

    @Hampus: Congratulations and all best wishes!

    14) My favorite cartoon tearjerker isn’t a feature. It’s a short called Father and Daughter by Michael Dudok DeWit:


    A lot of Frederick Back’s work makes me cry as well.

    Here in 5576, we’ve brought back the dodo and other birds, but we still don’t have flying cars (people still drive into buildings when they’re on the ground).

  25. To go back to an earlier scroll, it’s all your fault that I ended up buying *three* Seanan McGuire books last night. 😉

    But first I have to finish Scalzi’s “Head On.”

  26. 1) It’s been really encouraging to see how many groups stepped up and tried to help salvage something from the UFan Con disaster for the people who were hurt worst by it. Fandom can be a weird and ugly place sometimes, but its redeeming aspect has always been when it steps up as a community to support each other.

  27. Hampus, I’m glad to hear you made it through you last surgery in good form.

    Rest up, follow your doctor’s orders, and I hope you have a smooth and speedy recovery. 🙂

  28. Matt Y: Oh yeah well I have…just a bunch of jealousy. Crap.

    If you’re on NetGalley, it’s available for request there. And it doesn’t look as though they’ve specified a preference for UK or US reviewers, as is quite common. They just prefer people who have a blog or other site where they post reviews.

  29. @Kip —

    For the Fourth, iFixit is doing a number of teardowns (inside hardware looks) of Empire/Jedi tech.

    iFixit is great. I’ve used them for years whenever I wanted to tinker with one of my Macs.

    @Hampus —

    Glad to hear the worst is over. I hope your recovery goes well!

  30. @CassyB —

    Hearing about cases like AllRomance is the reason why I utterly refuse to buy any ebook that I cannot download and keep offline on my own computer

    I bought lots of books from ARe — didn’t lose any of them, because I downloaded them. So I don’t see the connection here. Same with Amazon — I download and save copies of all my Kindle purchases.

    Calibre is your friend. 🙂

    The company I won’t do business with any more is Kobo. Too many glitches in their system, too annoying to try to download, too many ebooks lost through faulty download links.

  31. Yay! I got my Hugo email! I no longer feel bereft and already have two categories submitted. Woo hoo!

  32. 2) Honest trailer have just made an honest trailer using an AI like that. Its delightful weird… (linking is difficult because Im using my phone right now, but its easy to find.)

  33. @Karl-Johan: perhaps generalizing was your intent — but your intent was not clear given that context (including your lack of separation between peculation and peccadillo).

    @me: I wasn’t clear that the Craddock, although it says “Book 1”, appeared to be reasonably complete. (Filers may have noticed I hate reading books that stop in the middle of the story.) We’ll see what he comes up with next for the leads to deal with, but most of threads started are wrapped up.

  34. Yay, title credit! Yay for coordinating with Arifel’s shirt!

    Best post-op wishes to Hampus!

    Now reading: Space Opera. Lives up to all expectations. I’m the precise target for this. I keep near-involuntarily bursting into several sentences of reading aloud because I’m enjoying the prose so much I have a deep need to feel and hear the words come out of my own mouth. (As of right now I have gotten to the middle of the bit about wormholes.)

  35. Robert Reynolds, Father and Daughter is just lovely. And I did cry. Thank you.

    Hampus, I hope the rest of your recovery will be easy.

Comments are closed.