Pixel Scroll 5/5/19 Endgamesters Of TriPixelion

(1) CALL FOR CLEANUP ON CHANNEL 3. TechCrunch has an eye-opening story — “Walmart’s Vudu shows off original content and shoppable ads, hints at interactive shows”.

…[Vudu Senior Director Julian] Franco had more details to share when it came to Vudu’s plans for non-interactive, original content. He announced that the service is producing (in partnership with eOne and Bell Canada) “Albedo,” a science fiction detective series from “Rampage” director Brad Peyton that will premiere next year, and will mark “Lost” star Evangeline Lilly’s return to TV. In addition, the first three episodes of Nickelodeon’s remake “Blues Clues & You” will premiere on Vudu before they air on linear TV.

Also in the works are unscripted shows like “Turning Point with Randy Jackson” and “Friends in Strange Places,” a travel show with Queen Latifah.

In total, the service will be premiering around a dozen original movies and TV shows later this year, Franco said.

As for those shoppable ads, Vudu Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product Scott Blanksteen said the service is already testing them. These are ads that allow you to purchase the featured products through a pop-up window. He added that these ads are dynamic, changing based on viewer preferences.

(2) WESTEROS SPINOFFS. Although Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman told The Hollywood Reporter in April that his time with the franchise is over for now—because the spinoff series he was attached to is officially scrubbed, George R.R.Martin had this to say on his blog

Oh, and speaking of television, don’t believe everything you read.   Internet reports are notoriously unreliable.  We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term “spinoffs”) at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely.   The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer.   What are they about?  I cannot say.   But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of FIRE & BLOOD and come up with your own theories.

(3) WILDE MOVES INTO ACADEME. Western Colorado University’s “Graduate Program in Creative Writing” has appointed writer Fran Wilde as Director of their Genre Fiction MA / MFA Program.

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We have one more piece of exciting news to share this week. We're thrilled to announce the appointment of acclaimed writer Fran Wilde as Director of our Genre Fiction MA / MFA Program! Fran is an award-winning author of books for adults and children – including Riverland (Abrams, 2019), The Bone Universe series (Tor 2015-2017), The Gemworld series (Tor.com 2016-2019) – and numerous short stories and poems that have appeared in publications including Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, Fireside, multiple anthologies and The Best Dark Fantasy of 2017. Her work has won the Nebula Award, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award, and the Compton-Crook Award, and has been a finalist for three additional Nebulas, two Hugo Awards, two Locus Awards, a Rhysling Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Her non-fiction appears in publications including The Washington Post, Tor.com, iO9.com, and Clarkesworld. Fran succeeds outgoing Genre Fiction Concentration Director Russell Davis. Russell guided the Genre Fiction program for 9 years and has decided to step down to pursue other projects. Of Fran, Russell says "As I step away, I'm very excited for the future of the program, knowing that it's in Fran Wilde's more-than-capable hands, and that she'll bring a new energy and excitement to the role." Fran will work with Russell in the coming months and into the first half of the summer residency to ensure a smooth transition. We're excited to welcome Fran to the program and agree with Russell: "She's going to be amazing!" Please join us in welcoming Fran! To learn more about Fran and her groundbreaking work, visit her website: http://www.franwilde.net/. To learn more about our program and to apply, visit our website.

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(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 5, 1908 Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon. also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 5, 1926 Richard Cowper, penname of John Middleton Murry Jr. Christopher Priest in his obit says ‘His best SF is found in the novel The Twilight of Briareus and the books in the White Bird of Kinship series, but most of his short stories were also remarkable. His work always stood out in the SF genre: he was anachronistic, but he dazzled with his elegant, precise, bountiful prose.’ (Died 2002.)
  • Born May 5, 1942 Marc Alaimo, 77. Best known for his role as recurring villain Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine. He was also a security officer in Total Recall named Captain Everett, and the human form of an alien in The Last Starfighter
  • Born May 5, 1942 Lee Killough, 77. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? 
  • Born May 5, 1943 Michael Palin, 76. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. Though decidedly not genre, I going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
  • Born May 5, 1944 John Rhys-Davies, 75. Known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood,  Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, Macbeth in Gargoyles, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. 
  • Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne M. Valente, 40. The list thing I read by her was The Refrigerator Monologues which is a lot of fun. Space Opera is in by TBR pile and I’d like to know what y’all thought of it. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man
  • Born May 5, 1983 Henry Cavill, 46. Best known portraying Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  and Justice League. He appears next in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He did early in his career as Mike in Hellraiser: Hellworld and was The Hunter In Red Riding Hood, an interesting musical. 

(5) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range tells a story about Noah that was left out of Genesis.
  • Frank and Ernest have questionable advice for scientists searching for extraterrestrial life.

(6) STARFLEET CREDENTIALS. SYFY Wire introduces the new recruits: “Felines join Starfleet in Chronicle Collectibles’ cool new line of Star Trek Cats”.

“To Boldly Go Where No Cat Has Gone Before” is a motto that Texas-based Chronicle Collectibles has taken to heart with its wonderfully whiskered new line, the Star Trek Cats Collection, which is based on the whimsical feline artwork of Jenny Parks.

(7) YODA, HOW YOU’VE GROWN! Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia dressed up as Yoda on Star Wars Day and helped give out bobbleheads at the park before the game.

(8) FAN MAIL FROM A FLOUNDER? Galactic Journey has reached the publication date of a fan letter by one of its contributors — [May 2, 1964] The Big Time (May 1964 Analog).

Many people harbor a desire for fame — their face on the screen, their star on a boulevard, their name in print.  That’s why it’s been so gratifying to have been given plaudits by no less a personage than Rod Serling, as well as the folks who vote for the Hugos. 

But it wasn’t until this month that one of us finally made the big time.  Check out this month’s issue of Analog, for in the very back is a letter whose sardonic commentary makes the author evident even before one gets to the byline.  Yes, it’s our very own John Boston, Traveler extraordinaire.

Bravo, Mr. Boston.  You’ve got a bright future.

As for Analog… there the outlook isn’t so clear….

(9) WHEN THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME. John Scalzi weighs in with his (spoiler free) “Review: Avengers: Endgame”.

With that said, “watchable” and “entertaining in the moment” are not precisely the same thing to me as “fun” and “enjoyable.” Watching Endgame to me felt like being on a forced march through a checklist of plot points and character moments, and after a (very short) time I began to be rather conscious of all the scenes that existed not to be an organic moment of story but to be fanservice for a particular character (or set of characters), or to make sure some barely-remembered loose end was tucked in. By the third act and its climactic and overstuffed battle scene, it stopped being clever and started being exhausting. I felt like a kid on vacation being dragged to all the sights on a tour, with no time to really enjoy any of them because look, we’re on a schedule here.

(10) HEAVY METAL. Camestros Felapton returns from his mountaintop experience with a series of Hugo nominee reviews, such as — “Hugo 2019 Novels: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik”.

Spinning Silver is not “Uprooted 2” but it shares common features: based on folk tale tropes and using a (sort of) Eastern European setting to tell an original story with familiar aspects. Instead, we get a story of multiple characters navigating a world of promises, oaths and bargains and the consequences of ambiguous terms.

(11) GETTING READY TO LAUNCH. Astronaut Scott Kelly advised a New York Times reporter about “How to Prepare Yourself for Space”.

“You’ve been trying not to pee in your pants your whole life,” says the retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who wore a diaper for liftoff and landing on all four of his space missions. Going into orbit will require you to confront your body in ways you don’t have to on Earth. Get over decades of conditioning by rehearsing basic bodily functions on land: Put on a diaper, lie on the floor with your legs up on the couch, and practice urinating without shame or gravity’s assistance. (Don’t, and you’ll risk damaging your bladder when your body won’t relieve itself in space.)

Leaving Earth is dangerous; you might die, and you should acknowledge and grapple with that before you go. Kelly has spent a total of 520 days in space. Before departing, he always wrote letters to his loved ones to be opened only in the case of his death. Seek help beforehand. Don’t step foot in a spacecraft without some counseling….

(12) AN APPEAL FOR MORE MASSIVE MEDIA. The opening of BBC’s article “Why David Cameron set Tina Fey a secret mission to change British TV” is followed by interesting nitty-gritty discussion of differences in approach and economics.

It’s not unusual for TV fans to wish that their favourite shows would carry on (Fleabag anyone?). But it seems viewers who long for more have an unlikely ally – former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Speaking on David Tennant’s podcast, US writer and actress Tina Fey revealed that, while leader, Mr Cameron implored her to lobby the British TV industry to churn out as many episodes as US shows do.

“Come and convince our showrunners that they can’t just make six episodes of things. Like you guys, they should make 200 episodes,” she recalled him saying.

Fey rejected the request, however, explaining that US writers were, in fact, jealous of the less-is-more British approach.

(13) FUSSIN’ & FEUDIN’. The cold opening of last night’s Saturday Night Live is a Family Feud episode pitting the Game of Thrones against the Avengers.

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

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/5/19 Endgamesters Of TriPixelion

  1. Thanos with the mourning, Thanos in new Eden, Thanos: it’s Super time.

  2. @4: I have been fascinated by everything of Cowper’s I’ve read, even when I suspected there underpinnings he assumed readers would see and I didn’t.

    @4 ct’d: I wouldn’t say I’ve read deeply of Killough, but outside your list I remember a couple of striking arts-related stories and The Deadly Silents, which may have been in the Brill/Maxwell universe but involved different characters and setting.

    @4 also ct’d: I think you have to be a fan of Eurovision and think Douglas Adams wasn’t nearly crazy enough in order to appreciate Space Opera — but I haven’t seriously liked anything I’ve read of Valente’s, so I’m not the best judge.

  3. (4) I think Space Opera is very very marmite–you either love it or hate it. Since I am not a fan of overwrought, over-the-top absurdist humor or hundred-word sentences, I definitely fall into the latter camp.

  4. I loved Space Opera, but yeah, seems very much a marmite thing. Give it a try, and don’t be shocked if your reaction is “What is this thing?”

  5. I am currently slogging through Space Opera and pretty much hating every single word. I’m trying to convince myself to read 100 pages before I nope out, seeing as how it’s on the Hugo ballot, but I may fold before I get that far.

  6. Cheryl S.: I am currently slogging through Space Opera and pretty much hating every single word. I’m trying to convince myself to read 100 pages before I nope out, seeing as how it’s on the Hugo ballot, but I may fold before I get that far.

    Sez I: Life is too short, and Mount Tsundoku is too tall. You’ve given it a fair go; give yourself permission to move on to something you’ll enjoy.

  7. 4) I really liked Henry Cavill in the recent Man from U.N.C.L.E. film, which is at least genre-adjacent. I’ll be very curious to see his turn as Geralt of Rivia in the upcoming Netflix Witcher series. And I’ll note that he was also Humphrey (Victoria’s suitor) in Stardust.

  8. JJ: Life is too short, and Mount Tsundoku is too tall.

    For my 40th birthday, my gift to myself was to never go past 50 pages of a book I didn’t like. I was trying to make an exception, because it is a Hugo nominee and I want to be fair in my voting, but you’re right. Life is too short.

    Thanks!

  9. Cheryl S. says For my 40th birthday, my gift to myself was to never go past 50 pages of a book I didn’t like. I was trying to make an exception, because it is a Hugo nominee and I want to be fair in my voting, but you’re right. Life is too short.

    My brain injury is such that I now can only listen to most novels. That unfortunately limits me to two novels or so a month so I must choose carefully. Short fiction and novellas are fine but longer narritives just are too elusive foit. It sounds like I’ll skip this book by Valente.

  10. I liked Space Opera a lot… but Valente has a very distinctive style, and it’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes (and nobody has to read a book they don’t like, do they? Most of us aren’t in school any more.)

  11. I’m in the pro-Space Opera camp, but it is the very epitome of a marmite book. I’d say that the first page will let you know if you think it’s delightful or not, it pretty much tells you what the rest of the book is going to be like.

  12. I haven’t tried Space Opera, but broadly speaking, I think “should this get a Hugo?” is a higher standard than “should I keep reading this?” If you’re bored by or actively dislike a story, it’s fine to stop: at least for you, that is not the best novel, movie, etc. of the year.

  13. @Steve Wright: and nobody has to read a book they don’t like, do they? Most of us aren’t in school any more. Has to, no — but I’m trying to keep my mind widening even as my body slows down, so I slogged through Space Opera (and at least 3 previous by Valente — maybe there’s such a thing as a mind that’s too open…) to see if I could get why people were going gaga over it. At this point I think I’m done — at least until someone says of a new work “I didn’t like other Valente but I liked this.” (That’s a useful measure; I picked up the two “Mordant’s Need” (Donaldson) books because a clerk at an SF bookstore said (when I boggled at them being a store selection) ~”No, really — I hated Covenant too!”.)

  14. It isn’t school, no, but I was undecided how much of a book I disliked I needed to read to fairly place it either at the end of my ballot or off altogether. It was helpful to be reminded that I could just…stop.

    I really liked The Refrigerator Monologues, which took a while to take hold, so that did play a role in my indecision.

  15. New trailer for Spider-Man: Far from Home.

    Note that it contains some pretty major spoilers for events from Avengers: Endgame, so calibrate your watching decision accordingly.

  16. (4) I only made it about 5 or 6 chapters in before Space Opera took a trip on flight 770 of Dorothy Parker Airlines. I’m glad to see I’m not alone. The short version is that the blurbs were selling a funny and smart book. It wasn’t…..at least not for me.

    (10) Whelp. I don’t have to write my review anymore…. Thanks, Cam! Spinning Silver is probably going at the top of my ballot. One of the best things I’ve read in recent years. Anything better will have to be literally mind blowing.

    WRT when/if to stop reading a book, I don’t think finishing a book that is failing at the core task of entertaining or engaging a reader is a requirement. It is an imposition. I’ve had a hard time coming to grips with the idea that it is acceptable to leave the rhetorical vehicle before it comes to a full and complete stop.

    Pretty much, when a I start being more interested in noting the editing/plotting flaws, I figure that I’ve stopped being a reader and started being something else. Unless there is an engaging character or plot choice to be resolved, I head for the next thing on Mount TBR.

    Record of a Spaceborn Few is bit of a rarity in that I like the characters and like Ms. Chambers’ writing enough to really want to finish it, but some of the underlying plot/messaging points so poorly executed that I might not. Kind of on the bubble on my ballot as well.

    Regards,
    Dann
    You’ve got to vote for someone. It’s a shame, but it’s got to be done. – Whoopi Goldberg

  17. Writing style is a very individual thing, and appreciation of writing style is also very individual – there’s no one right or wrong way to read a book, and what some people think is beautiful styling will strike others as tiresome or affected. For that matter, the same reader can change their mind about things, over time – the first time I opened up Lawrence Durrell’s Justine, for example, I read the first paragraph (which is Durrell at his most [ahem] highly coloured), slammed the book shut, and didn’t pick it up again for two years. But the second time, I persevered, and on the whole I’m glad I did.

    Durrell is another one, like Valente, with a very noticeable personal style… some of these things work for me, some don’t. I love the majestic mock-Jacobean prose of E.R. Eddison, for instance, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get into Henry James. (Writers whom I can read, and can respect, have explained what appeals to them about James’s prose… so, fine, I can appreciate that James commands respect as a writer, but whatever it is he’s doing, it leaves me cold.)

  18. Space Opera was hit or miss for me. It had some hilariously funny bits, but quite a bit of drag.
    So, probably marmite then – I like it on occasion, but not usually.

  19. May 5th is Delia Derbyshire’s birthday. Her pioneering efforts in electronic music made the Doctor Who theme what it was. She really didn’t get the proper credit from the BBC until the 50th anniversary of the show.

    Also Pat Carroll who was the voice behind Ursula in The Little Mermaid. (Also did the voice of Granny in the Disney dub of My Neighbor Totoro.)

    And Adam Hughes who has the most appropriate signature (AH!) for a cover artist/comic artist/pinup artist.

    Roland the Headless Pixel Scroller

  20. For my 40th birthday, my gift to myself was to never go past 50 pages of a book I didn’t like.

    I also have a page 50 test. I think I got the inspiration from someone on here. There are at least 40 novels in my office I’ve been planning to read and another 40 in the garage. It is a sad state of affairs.

    The novel I’m currently reading, Elizabeth Bear’s Blood and Iron, passed the 50-page test without much trouble.

    I’m thinking about another test for books I own but have decided to sell or donate instead of reading: Give them 10 pages to change my mind.

  21. Space Opera was reasonably entertaining. It definitely drew a lot of inspiration from Douglas Adams. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Valente’s previous novel Radiance, which I absolutely loved.

  22. Describing Space Opera as a Marmite Book is brilliant. I’m on the “hated it” end of things.

    I’m still reading Spinning Silver.. I like it better than I liked Uprooted, but, as I barely made it through a full chapter of that one, it’s a low bar to meet.

    Trail of Lighting was … okay. I like some of the ideas and the worldbuilding, but some of the writing and the characterization bugged me.

    The Calculating Stars was solid. It’s hanging out at #2 on my ballot.

    Right now, Revenant Gun is living at the top of my ballot, even though I fear it doesn’t stand alone as well as most of the other nominees, and that will likely hurt its overall chances.

  23. In re (8), weirdly enough, I was just in a discussion with someone about the quotation “Fanmail from a flounder” — we couldn’t remember whether it was “a flounder” or “some flounder”. Luckily, internet to the rescue, it’s “some.”

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