Pixel Scroll 6/30/21 Imagine There’s No Pixels

(1) HELICOPTER OVERVIEW. In “How Twitter can ruin a life: Isabel Fall’s complicated story” at Vox, Emily VanDer Werff’s interview with author Fall is threaded throughout a wide-ranging commentary about the ways “Isabel Fall’s sci-fi story ‘I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter’ drew the ire of the internet” and what happened next. The article begins —

“In a war zone, it is not safe to be unknown. Unknown travelers are shot on sight,” says Isabel Fall. “The fact that Isabel Fall was an unknown led to her death.”

Isabel Fall isn’t dead. There is a person who wrote under that name alive on the planet right now, someone who published a critically acclaimed, award-nominated short story. If she wanted to publish again, she surely could.

Isabel Fall is a ghost nonetheless.

In January 2020, not long after her short story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” was published in the online science fiction magazine Clarkesworld, Fall asked her editor to take the story down, and then checked into a psychiatric ward for thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

The story — and especially its title, which co-opts a transphobic meme — had provoked days of contentious debate online within the science fiction community, the trans community, and the community of people who worry that cancel culture has run amok. Because there was little biographical information available about its author, the debate hinged on one question: Who was Isabel Fall? And that question ate her alive. When she emerged from the hospital a few weeks later, the world had moved on, but she was still scarred by what had happened. She decided on something drastic: She would no longer be Isabel Fall….

(2) AND THE WINNER IS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The public has selected “Commander Moonikin Campos” as the official name of the manikin to be launched on Artemis I, the uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft around the Moon. The launch is currently scheduled for later this year. The namesake of the moonikin is Arturo Campos — electrical power subsystem manager for the Apollo 13 lunar module — who was a key player in bringing that mission safely back to Earth. ”Public Names ‘Moonikin’ Flying Around Moon on NASA’s Artemis Mission” at NASA.

The final bracket challenge was between Campos and Delos, a reference to the island where Apollo and Artemis were born, according to Greek mythology. 

… The other six names under consideration were:

  • ACE, for “Artemis Crew Explorer.”
  • DUHART, a dedication to Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at Kennedy Space Center from 2000 to 2010.
  • MONTGOMERY, dedication to Julius Montgomery, first African American to work as a technical professional at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now known as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
  • RIGEL, a giant superstar in the Orion constellation.
  • SHACKLETON, a crater on the Moon’s South Pole, which is named after famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.
  • WARGO, a dedication to Michael Wargo, NASA’s first chief exploration scientist.

The Moonikin is a male-bodied manikin previously used in Orion vibration tests. Campos will occupy the commander’s seat inside and wear an Orion Crew Survival System suit– the same spacesuit that Artemis astronauts will use during launch, entry, and other dynamic phases of their missions.

Campos will be equipped with two radiation sensors and have additional sensors under its headrest and behind its seat to record acceleration and vibration data throughout the mission. Data from the Moonikin’s experience will help NASA protect astronauts during Artemis II, the first mission in more than 50 years that will send crew around the Moon….

(3) MORE OMENS. Good Omens has been renewed For Season 2 at Amazon reports Deadline. Neil Gaiman fills in the details at his blog in “Really Bloody Excellent Omens…”

It’s been thirty-one years since Good Omens was published, which means it’s thirty-two years since Terry Pratchett and I lay in our respective beds in a Seattle hotel room at a World Fantasy Convention, and plotted the sequel. (I got to use bits of the sequel in the TV series version of Good Omens — that’s where our angels came from.)

Terry was clear on what he wanted from Good Omens on the telly. He wanted the story told, and if that worked, he wanted the rest of the story told.

So in September 2017 I sat down in St James’ Park, beside the director, Douglas Mackinnon, on a chair with my name on it, as Showrunner of Good Omens. The chair slowly and elegantly lowered itself to the ground underneath me and fell apart, and I thought, that’s not really a good omen. Fortunately, under Douglas’s leadership, that chair was the only thing that collapsed. 

… So that’s the plan. We’ve been keeping it secret for a long time (mostly because otherwise my mail and Twitter feeds would have turned into gushing torrents of What Can You Tell Us About It? long ago) but we are now at the point where sets are being built in Scotland (which is where we’re shooting, and more about filming things in Scotland soon), and we can’t really keep it secret any longer.

There are so many questions people have asked about what happened next (and also, what happened before) to our favourite Angel and Demon. Here are, perhaps, some of the answers you’ve been hoping for. 

As Good Omens continues, we will be back in Soho, and all through time and space, solving a mystery which starts with one of the angels wandering through a Soho street market with no memory of who they might be, on their way to Aziraphale’s bookshop. 

(Although our story actually begins about five minutes before anyone had got around to saying “Let there be Light”.)

(4) KNOWN UNKNOWNS. Asimov’s does a “Q&A with Ursula Whitcher”, whose poem “Ansibles” appears in the current issue. The intro says Whitcher “is ready to fight for the honor of being the second-most-famous SF author named Ursula” – something definitely to aspire to, but I think at the moment that space is already filled.

Asimov’s Editor: The first line of your poem is, “I can’t explain gravity without using gravity.” Have you ever actually tried to explain gravity?

UW: I have! As well as being a poet, I’m a mathematician. My research is inspired by the physical theory of string theory, which offers one way to unify quantum physics and general relativity. I took more classical courses in general relativity as a graduate student, so I’ve spent quite a bit of energy working out equations for possible shapes of spacetime.

(5) THE BRADBURY LEGACY. The American Writers Museum in Chicago is hosting an exhibit called “Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable” through May 2022.

Ray Bradbury is perhaps best-known for writing Fahrenheit 451The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man. He was much more than those stories though: a screenplay writer, a friend to Walt Disney, and an amateur painter, just to name a few.

From a young age, Ray was obsessed with finding a way to live forever. He will certainly be remembered for his writing, but his influence elsewhere may surprise you.

To explore the virtual exhibit, click on the link. To visit in person, see the information about Chicago Museum Tickets & Hours.

[Visit] the American Writers Museum in Chicago, your ticket into the interactive, inspirational, and surprising world of American writing of all genres. Learn about the history of writing in the United States and how it has shaped our lives through exhibits that stretch your imaginations and appeal to all 5 senses.. Then, explore the intricacies of language through games and try writing something for yourself on a vintage typewriter!

(6) LESS CURSE, MORE FILLING. The New York Times says “‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ to Slim Down Before Broadway Return”.

…The show will continue to run in two parts in London; Melbourne, Australia; and Hamburg, Germany, but will be a single part in New York, San Francisco and Toronto. It was not immediately clear how long that single part would be; the two parts have a total running time of about 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Structured essentially as a stage sequel to J.K. Rowling’s seven wildly popular “Harry Potter” novels, the show was the most expensive nonmusical play ever to land on Broadway, costing $35.5 million to mount, and another estimated $33 million to redo Broadway’s Lyric Theater. Before the pandemic, the play was routinely grossing around $1 million a week on Broadway — an enviable number for most plays, but not enough for this one, with its large company and the expensive technical elements that undergird its stage magic.

The play, a high-stakes magical adventure story with thematic through lines about growing up and raising children, was written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, based on a story credited to Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany. Thorne and Tiffany said they had been working on a new version of the show during the pandemic, which, they said, “has given us a unique opportunity to look at the play with fresh eyes.”

The writers did not say what kind of changes they would make, but the production promised that the new version would still deliver “all the amazing magic, illusions, stagecraft and storytelling set around the same powerful narrative.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” began its stage life in London, opening in the summer of 2016, and winning nine Olivier awards — the most of any play — in 2017. It arrived on Broadway in 2018, picked up six Tony Awards, and initially sold very strongly, grossing about $2 million a week. But the sales softened over time, as average ticket prices fell, apparently because of a combination of the lengthy time commitment and the need to buy two tickets to see the whole story, which made it particularly expensive for families….

(7) GAMING CONS ISSUE BANS. There are two different companies using the TSR name. The one known as TSR™ on Twitter is associated with Ernest Gygax as Vice President, who made news with some transphobic comments (which are discussed in GeekNative’s post “The new TSR Games clarify position as key names appeared to distance themselves”.) Two major gaming cons have now said they are closed to Gygax’s company.

The GenCon gaming convention made with this statement:

The Origins Game Fair has said the Gygax-connected TSR company is also unwelcome at their event.

(8) BOUCHARD OBIT. Detroit area fan and fanzine publisher Alexander Bouchard was killed yesterday in an automobile accident. Al produced a fanzine called The Lightning Round. He also liked to post political comment videos on his YouTube Channel AlexanderFilmWorks — the last two in January criticizing the attack on the Capitol. He is survived by his widow, Megan. A GoFundMe appeal has been opened by their friends Kimberly and Miki Ivey: “Al Bouchard’s burial and help for his wife Megan”.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 30, 1971 – On this date fifty years ago, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory premiered. It was directed by Mel Stuart and produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. It was based off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The exemplary cast consisted of Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone, Denise Nickerson, Dodo Denney and Paris Themmen. Some critics really didn’t like it, some kind of liked it and most were very fond of it. It really didn’t do well at the box office though not even making back production and marketing costs. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a very superb rating of eighty-seven percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 30, 1902 — Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who was half-brother of Gordon R Dickson. He wrote a biography of H G Wells, H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. (Died 1987.)
  • Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series  for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Addams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
  • Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con in what was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, he edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. First Fandom named its award for collecting after him. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 62. His long running-role is Dective  Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent which is in no way genre. He was Kingpin in the Daredevil film, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film to date and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye.
  • Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 60. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History
  • Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 58. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on that Sherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The MothTwelve MonkeysKrypton and Return of the Saint
  • Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 55. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. 
  • Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 49. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The SentinelHighlander: The SeriesPoltergeist: The Legacy,  Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz tries to for maximum reading efficiency.

(12) LOOK OUT BELOW. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] Third Planet Sci-Fi and Fantasy Superstore in Houston is suing the hotel next door to them because guests at the hotel keep dropping junk on top of the bookstore’s roof, and recently caused a lot of damage.  The suit is being presented in an unusually nifty format though!  To see the entire comic, skip down to page six of the Plaintiff’s Petition. (Screencaps from Above the Law’s post “Comic Store Includes Graphic Novel Of Allegations In Filing”.)

(13) CLARION CALL. The Clarion West Write-A-Thon is under weigh, but you can still get on board.

Here’s part of the FAQ:

2. How does the Write-a-thon work?

Participating writers sign up beginning June 7. They set writing goals, put up excerpts of their work, and use social media to let people know that they’re writing for a good cause. There are all kinds of writing goals—from the manageable “write for five minutes a day” to the ambitious “finish a novel” or “finish six short stories.” Every writer in the Write-a-thon chooses a goal that works for them.

This summer, writers may participate in additional online events, including affinity groups, writing sprints, (recorded) craft talks, and more. See [page] for the full list of perks.

After the Write-a-thon kicks off on June 20, friends and family can visit the Write-a-thon site, choose a writer or writers they would like to support, and use the button on each writer’s page to sponsor them. Every week, writers get a report on who’s donated to them, allowing them to communicate with their supporters. Many writers send their supporters updates on their progress, or show off their completed work at the end of the Write-a-thon, but it’s not required.

3. Am I too late to join?

The 2021 Clarion West Write-a-thon runs from June 20 to July 31. But no worries if you got here midway through; there’s no last day to sign up as a participant, and you can donate until August 31. 

(14) YOUR FIRST. Clarion West is also doing a panel about “Releasing Your First Book” on July 5 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific. “Releasing your first book is tough any time. Hear from four Clarion West alumni who did it last year and learn what their journey was like.” Register here.  The panel features Elly Bangs, Lauren Dixon, Emily Skaftun, and E. Lily Yu. 

On Monday, July 5, we’re hosting our first live panel: Releasing Your First Book. Learn what the journey was like from four Clarion West alumni — Elly Bangs (CW, ’17, author of Unity, Tachyon Publications), Emily Skaftun (CW ’09, author of Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas, Fairwood Press), Lauren Dixon (CW ’10, author of Welcome to the Bitch Bubble, Hydra House Books), and E. Lily Yu (CW ’13, author of On Fragile Waves, Erewhon Books) — who released their books last year.

(15) NOT DEAD YET. This one is airplane hijackers v. vampires–and it’s in French! Blood Red Sky on Netflix.

Nadja and her ten-year-old son are on an overnight flight from Germany to New York when a group of terrorists violently take control of the plane and threaten the lives of the passengers. Suddenly Nadja faces an impossible choice – should she reveal her dark side and the inner monster she has kept hidden from her son for years in order to save him? The hunters become the hunted in this action-horror from director Peter Thorwarth.

(16) STAR HEIST. James Davis Nicoll recommends “Five SFF Characters To Help You Execute the Perfect Caper” at Tor.com.

…The core members of such a team might include a mastermind (to plan the heist), a thief (to get past any security devices), the driver (to orchestrate exfiltration), the muscle (in case something goes horribly wrong), and of course, the distraction (because it is much easier to get away with stuff if everyone is looking in the wrong direction). Speculative fiction offers numerous candidates who would combine the required expertise with the necessary moral flexibility. Here are the five SFF characters I’d pick for my retrieval team.

The Driver: McGill Feighan (The Journeys of McGill Feighan series by Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)

McGill Feighan is a “flinger,” a teleporter whose reach spans the Milky Way. He is also one of the very few flingers to escape the Flinger Network’s methodical conditioning, which prevents flingers from doing anything untoward. Although he is not criminally inclined, he is at the centre of a compelling mystery—why did the terribly mysterious Far Being Retzglaran orchestrate McGill’s kidnapping as a baby?—and if you can convince him the job will somehow get him closer to answering that question, he may turn a blind eye to certain legal niceties. With him by your side, the entire galaxy is within reach.

Note: The vast criminal gang known as the Organization would also like an answer to McGill’s question. They play rough, so try not to attract their attention. Or the attention of the Far Being Retzglaran, for that matter.

(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed these stumbles on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Final Jeopardy: 20th Century Novels

Answer: British biochemist J.B.S. Haldane’s essay on ectogenesis, birth outside the womb, helped inspire this 1932 novel.

Wrong questions: “What is ‘Metamorphosis’?” and “What is ‘Steppenwolf’?”

Right question: “What Is ‘Brave New World’?.”

(18) WE SEE EXOPLANETS. HOW DO THEY SEE US? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] One of the best ways we currently detect exoplanets is when their orbit intersects our line of sight with their host star: these exoplanets transit their star. As said, this only works when observer, planet and star are all aligned. However, just as we can this way detect exoplanets, so exoplanets about stars in the plane of our Earth orbiting the Sun can similarly detect the Earth!

Assuming aliens have at least the same technology as us, how many of these are there?

Two US astronomers, using data from the Gaia mission that takes into account the movement of stars, have worked out how many stars could detect an Earth transit of the Sun.

It turns out that over the past 5,000 years there were some 1,715 stars within 100 parsecs (~350 light years) of the Earth that could detect us using the transit method. Currently, today, there are 1,402 stars that could detect the Earth using the transit method with our level of technology. Of these 128 are G type stars like our Sun.

The astronomers also estimate, taking a pessimistic view of our current exoplanet catalogue, and applying a probability based on that, that there 508 rocky planets in the habitable zone of these stars.

Finally, assuming that we have been generating significant radio waves for about a century, they calculate 29 of these potentially habitable rocky planets could, were there aliens there listening, be in a position to also detect our radio signals.

(See Kaltenegger, L. & Faherty, J. K. (2021) “Past, present and future stars that can see Earth as a transiting exoplanet” Nature, vol. 594, p505-7.)


(19) MARTIAN HOPS. Also from open access articles in Nature: “Mars Helicopter Kicks Up Dust Clouds – And Unexpected Science”.

Ingenuity, NASA’s pint-sized Mars helicopter, has kicked up some surprising science on its flights over the red planet. When whizzing through the Martian air, its blades sometimes stir up a dust cloud that envelops and travels along with the tiny chopper. In several videos of Ingenuity’s flights, planetary scientists have seen dust whirling beneath the helicopter’s rotors — even when Ingenuity is flying as high as 5 metres above the Martian surface. That suggests that dust can get lifted and transported in the thin Martian air more easily than researchers had suspected….

(20) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan, actors who played hobbits in The Lord of the Rings movies (Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck), appeared on The Late Show to promote their podcast “The Friendship Onion.” Host Stephen Colbert referred to it as completing his set of Hobbits as he has previously interviewed Elijah Wood and Sean Astin—as well as many other LotR actors. There was singing, trivia, and banter plus a video appearance by Peter Jackson.

Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd share stories from the set of the “Lord of the Rings” movies and get our host to join them in singing a Hobbit drinking song. You can hear more from them in their new Lord of the Rings podcast, “The Friendship Onion.”

Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, and special guest Peter Jackson try to find a “Lord of the Rings” trivia question that will stump our host. And to up the stakes, they have a special LOTR prize for Stephen if he can get it right.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Justin Busch, Lloyd Penney, Robin A. Reid, Jennifer Hawthorne, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day microtherion.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/30/21 Imagine There’s No Pixels

  1. (7) The gaming ban tweets sure brought out some interesting replies on Twitter.

    (10) In the genre adjacent department, Vincent D’Onofrio also played Robert E. Howard in the movie “The Whole Wide World.” The ending was, of course, very sad.

  2. (2) A close reading of the NASA article reveals “The final bracket challenge was between Campos and Delos”, in addition to the six listed that lost in earlier rounds. That it, it was a full set of eight candidates, rather the seven currently implied by the news item here.

  3. Lis Carey says The heat is too much.

    You think? It’s eighty two in my apartment right now, down eight degrees from earlier today. The weathers not supposed to break here in coastal Maine until Friday morning when the high will be in the mid sixties.

    I had to take all the chocolate and put in the fridge otherwise it’d melt down.

  4. @7, Huh. Actions have consequences. Who’d’a thunk it? This is my surprised face.*

    (As a female D&D player since 1978, I am well aware of the toxic misogyny baked into the first several instantiations of the game. So having a Gygax exhibit transphobia is, alas, a disappointment but no shock.)

    *Translation: I’m not even slightly surprised.

  5. David Shallcross: That can be fixed. Voila! Thanks for catching the mistake.

  6. (3) Good news

    (9) Willy Wonka’s yearly appearance on TV was one of the universally celebrated events when I was a kid – you could assume that everyone else on the playground had seen it as well (just like The Wonderful Wizard or Ruldolph).

  7. “The Clarion West Write-A-Thon is under weigh”

    Feel the heft of this writer’s workshop! No lack of gravitas here!

    (1)
    I am saddened by what happened to Isabel Fall.

    (3) MORE OMENS.
    Happy days!

  8. Andrew (not Werdna) says Willy Wonka’s yearly appearance on TV was one of the universally celebrated events when I was a kid – you could assume that everyone else on the playground had seen it as well (just like The Wonderful Wizard or Ruldolph).

    It’s truly one of those films that’s perfect in every detail. I do wonder why they though a reboot of it in the form of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Depp as Willy Wonka was ever a Good Idea. It’s a truly dreadful film.

  9. @1
    The frustrating thing from my perspective is that this story is really good. I’m glad it got a hugo nom, and I’m glad OGH pointed it out when it disappeared shortly after publication because I honestly would never have read it otherwise. It’s reminiscent of what I love about eighties sf, the engagement with the zeitgeist, the gritty uber realism, the personal yearning within a bleak, exploited landscape, etc. The whole…thing that happened makes me sad. I hope it wins the rocket, and I hope Fall has a helluva life and career.

  10. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is one of those films that you can watch over and over again and it doesn’t lose its charm. “The Wizard of Oz” is another.

    “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was not only an unnessary remake, I found it actually repellant. I remember reading that Johnny Depp based his performance as Willy Wonka on Michael Jackson, which only served to make the movie even creepier.

    NPR had a piece yesterday (Tuesday) about the making of Willy Wonka, it seems that Road Dahl was supposed to write the script, but what he turned in was an outline of the story and what he believed should be used in the movie. It turns out he had no idea how to write a movie script. Since it had been much publicised that Dahl was writing the script, the producer, David Wolper, went to a screenwriter he knew, and made him a deal: write the script and don’t take a screenwriting credit, and Wolper would produce the script and let him direct the movie he (the screenwriter) wanted to direct. The deal was struck and he was literally delivering the script pages to the studio the day before they were shot….

  11. 7) A few years ago a twenty-something coworker asked me if there was a connection between Pathfinder and D&D*. I don’t think Gencon is going to have too many problems with TSR(TM) fans staging a boycott in protest.

    *Yes, this did make me feel incredibly old, having started roleplaying with AD&D.

  12. “It turns out [Dahl] had no idea how to write a movie script.”

    Is that really what NPR reported? In the five years before Wonka was in theaters, Dahl was credited with the screenplays to You Only Live Twice (which I haven’t seen) and the loathsome Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, which I sincerely doubt Fleming would have let him get away with if he were alive at the time because it either tosses overboard or ruins every aspect of Fleming’s book, save the car itself. In any case, he was not without experience.

    I would also defend many things about the Burton version, in particular the Oompa-Loompa numbers (featuring multiples of Deep Roy) whose lyrics are much closer to those in the book. Depp’s performance and the section about Wonka’s upbringing were bad choices, though.

  13. (10) Small correction: Sam Moskowitz was a chair of the 1939 Worldcon, but not the only chair. The convention was run by a so-called ‘Ruling Triumvirate’, the others being James V. Taurasi and William S. Sykora.

  14. 12) I am having trouble with the idea of someone throwing a fire extinguisher out of a hotel window. What is wrong with these people?

  15. Rich Lynch: I see the Long List of Worldcons strangely lists Moskowitz alone in the table of chairs, but has a note that references the “Ruling Triumvirate.” I wonder why the makers of the table did that.

    Their note says:

    The convention was controlled by a so-called ‘Ruling Triumvirate’ whose other members were William S. Sykora and James V. Taurasi.

    Does “so-called” mean the makers of the table were skeptical about there being more than one chair?

  16. 12) Third Planet is in the news. But not for what I’d expect. I hope they win.

  17. Meredith Moment: S A Chakraborty’s The Empire of Gold, third in the Daevabad trilogy, is currently £1:99 on Amazon UK’s Kindle store.

  18. 12) I didn’t know Third Planet was still operating. Looked closed the last time I passed.
    Knowing that land in central Houston is now incredibly valuable and other old buildings in the store’s neighborhood are vanishing, I wonder how accidental this damage to the store roof is. The hotel and the store are right next to a huge, heavy-traffic freeway and Houston is roastingly hot for most of the year, so why would anyone open a window in the hotel, in view of the heat, noise and particulate matter that would come in, to throw anything out?

  19. (10) Small correct to Vincent D’Onofrio entry: he was Kingpin in the Daredevil Netflix series, not the movie. The gone but always remembered Michael Clark Duncan played Kingpin in the 2003 movie.

  20. 1) I’m with Soon Lee and Brown Robin, obviously – what happened was sad and I hope Fall goes on to have a great life and a great career. And I’m sorry for the trans people who were part of the backlash too, even though they were wrong and did real harm, because I think the outrage and the paranoia came from a place of trauma, where it’s hard to see anything but threats. I personally found the story hard to read because of that paranoia, until I got far enough in to be comfortable that I understood it.

    Beyond that, I think I’d emphasise that framing really does matter – even a note from Clarkesworld to say the story had passed a sensitivity reading would probably have helped – but there were wider factors too. People were paranoid because transphobia is pervasive on Twitter, where a commitment to engagement metrics and “free speech” amplifies anything likely to cause outrage; trans people are particularly vulnerable to pile-ons because bigots and misogynists are always happy to join in and spread the word; and the vast majority of people who are neither trans nor bigots don’t really know enough to understand the risks and vulnerabilities in a situation like this.

  21. I’m hoping someone here can help me out. I got into a ‘discussion’ with somebody online who claimed that anything can travel faster than the speed of light according to General Relativity. I confess I’m out of my depth here, having never studied the subject and finding my eyes glazing over whenever I try to read the Wikipedia page.
    Anyway, after some back and forth between us, it seems that the crux of his argument is that in GR, not only is translational motion relative, but also rotational motion. Therefore, one can imagine the earth being still at the centre of the universe while the distant stars orbit earth at one revolution per day. To do so they must necessarily travel very many times the speed of light.
    Where’s the flaw in his argument? (Assuming I’ve represented it correctly.)

  22. (Oh, and – the inevitable late afterthought – help from bigots aside, I think there was a lot of pent-up fear and anger and frustration in some of the Twitter trans communities and the helicopter story became an easy outlet, for another layer of ugly and sad in the whole mess.(

  23. As a female D&D player since 1978, I am well aware of the toxic misogyny baked into the first several instantiations of the game.

    Yeah. I remember the gender-based strength maximums. Ugh.

  24. Meredith moment: Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise which won a Hugo at Noreascon I. It was popular reading material among the younger ex-pats when I was there in the early Eighties who hoped to see him in Columbo where he he lived. The US ambassador told me that he visited him.

  25. @Cliff
    It’s been a long time since I studied any physics, but:
    Rotational movement needs acceleration, acceleration depends on mass, mass at light speed is infinite – you can’t reach or keep the FTL orbit.

    You’d also need a lot of gravity to have a rotating object at high velocity and distance. Something like a superheavy black hole might work (back-of-the-envelope estimate says Uranus orbiting the M87 black hole in place of the sun), but would produce some interesting side effects.

  26. @Cliff: This article by the Bad Astronomer might be of help
    https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/geocentrism-seriously

    relativity says the math has to work out if you change a frame of reference, so if you do the detailed relativistic equations to look at the motion of distant objects, it still works. Things actually can move faster than light relative to the coordinate system, it’s just that things cannot move past each other with a relative speed greater than light. In the weird geocentric frame where the Universe revolves around the Earth, that is self-consistent.

    See also https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2005/10/03/does-the-earth-move-around-the-sun/

    TLDR – yeah, technically, you can set up a coordinate system where things appear to be moving faster than light relative to the coordinate frame – but there’s still no local violation of the speed of light.

  27. Lis Carey says To add to Cat’s comment, the Amazon price on Fountains of Paradise is currently $1.99.

    I got called into my PCP appointment and forgot to say that it was available at all the usual suspects for that price. Now waiting to give blood before getting yet another x-ray of my right shoulder.

  28. Cliff, your “someone online” is not even wrong. Apparent motion is not motion. Distant galaxies aren’t wheeling through the cosmos at infinite speeds,.the earth is simply spinning. It’s a perception koan, if you will.

    As for the rest, light speed is another way of saying the rate of causality. Photons carry data about mass and distance to surrounding objects. You can’t arrive before your presence.

    Ask this person why there is a speed of light. Is it an arbitrary number? Is there something special about the specific speed? The measurements of the expansion of space at FTL suggest there are answers currently beyond our grasp, but an object subject to GR cannot “travel” FTL. Any solution will involve “space” rather than “matter.”

    This may not help, but there’s no math!

  29. Thanks all for the answers. The articles Andrew linked seems to cut to the heart of the matter, but I think they lack enough mathematical meat to make them convincing to the guy I’m arguing with. (And if they had that meat, I probably wouldn’t understand it anyway.)

    I’m not entirely sure what his position is (there’s an element of trolling, I think), but I don’t think he’s a creationist. He’s very educated on the history of physics. He strongly dislikes General Relativity, that’s for sure. His dislike seems to stem from a) it re-introduced the notion of aether (turns out Einstein himself said one could think of space-time as similar to the concept of ‘aether’) and b) the fact that GR allows for geocentrism. Perhaps he’s simply foiled by the same misunderstanding I am about apparent motion versus real motion.

  30. Sophie Jane, your points and concerns are why I’m sticking to calling the Fall story situation a “thing” because I don’t want to prejudice anyone or assume anything. I agree that lots of POVs were acting in good faith yet at cross purposes.

    The story, from the title on down to the blackout line, is such a barricade hitter, a very 20th century kind of story that doesn’t read the same in this century due to all the context and pretext of the intertoobs, and, yes, alas, the trolls.

    I hate to think the barricade hitting short story is passe, and perhaps your suggestion of editorial introduction might help preserve it.

    Maybe we can turn this thing into a win for everyone. I’m rooting for Fall, though I admit I would based solely on my speculation that the nom de plume was inspired by an Ian R MacLeod story. If true, good taste!

  31. @Brown Robin

    We’re in complete agreement, I think – it’s just that I’ve done a lot of thinking about what went wrong and this was a chance for me to put my thoughts in order.

    I don’t know Ian R MacLeod’s work very well, though – what was the story?

  32. @Cliff
    My ancient memory of physics is fuzzy, but I remember learning that Maxwell’s equations have the speed of light baked in – the product of two of his constants is 1/c**2.

  33. Sophie Jane, “Isabel of the Fall.” It originally appeared in Interzone.

    It’s set in the “breathmoss” universe.

  34. @P J Evans

    That’s true. Maxwell’s Equations have the speed of light baked into them because, fundamentally, light is a kind of electromagnetic wave and they all travel at the same speed.

    (Although, critically, it’s the speed of light in the current medium, which can be slower than the speed of light in vacuum. When you dig into the equations that explains why, for example, lenses focus light or rainbows form–the speed of light in water and glass is slower than the speed of light in air.)

    And depending on what unit system you’re working in, the constants can rearrange themselves so the speed of light shows up explicitly. One lecturer called the system where it’s most obvious “God’s units” because “In any other unit system the speed of light disappears from Maxwell’s Equations, and that’s a sin.”

  35. I think it was the Minkowski diagram that finally convinced me that you can’t move faster than light without appearing to travel backwards in time according to SOMEONE’s point of view.

  36. If you aren’t reflexively scared of math, The Einstein Theory of Relativity by Lieber & Lieber is transformative. This book combines simple, clear writing with wacky cartoons to lead you to actually understand Special, and then General relativity. No easier way to learn tensors exists! My grad school roommate had a copy he had stolen from his high school library, I xeroxed the whole thing, and it re-wired my brain. I’m pleased as punch that it’s back in print.

  37. (20) I saw the Colbert episode with Monaghan and Boyd. Watching a genuine LOTR geek talk show host geek out with Merry and Pippin was just a delight to watch.

  38. 15) Thanks! Netflix does a pretty good job of identifying non-US-based work that is worth watching. Warrior Nun is another property that I thought was pretty good.

    Regards,
    Dann
    I don’t think I’ve met anyone with a stronger work ethic than Ray Charles. – Clint Eastwood

  39. @Cliff

    He strongly dislikes General Relativity,

    It’s an odd position to take, to “like” or “dislike” a scientific theory. A theory either makes useful predictions (and thus is a model of some natural phenomena), or it doesn’t, and whether or not anyone likes it is irrelevant.

  40. One more FTL loophole in GR – the distance between particular parts of space-time can expand or contract, such that an object apparently in free space can end up in a location far from its original location in less than the time required to travel through space at c. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive for more; note use of this drive may void the warranty on causality or the arrow of time in your vicinity (and may anger the Eschaton).

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