Pixel Scroll 7/14/19 Scroll On, Pixel Off

(1) NEXT BOND. Metro reports “Lashana Lynch will be ‘introduced to Bond 25 audiences as the new 007’”.

Captain Marvel star Lashana Lynch’s role in Bond 25 will reportedly have audiences dropping their popcorn in shock. Lashana’s role has been kept underwraps but sources close to the production have now claimed that Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s rewrite of the script will see the 31-year-old be introduced to audiences as 007. Now that is a moment we can’t wait to see. James Bond fans will know that the spy retired at the end of Spectre and as Bond 25 opens he will be living a life of luxury in Jamaica.

(2) ONE DERN MINUTE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A good way to tote more reading during Worldcon travel, if you’ve worked your way through the Hugo reading… 3 months Kindle Unlimited for free.

Technically/arguably part of Prime Day, but (a) the offer is available through, I think, the end of July, and (b) it’s not a physical item, so if not ordered during Prime Day(s), arguably not breaking the Prime Day Boycott.

Available only to Amazon Prime members — and be sure to cancel before the 3 months are up unless you decide you want to then spend the regular $9.99/month

(3) USE THE BRAKES, LUKE. ComicBook.com sheds a little light on these helpful fans — “Star Wars Fans Direct Traffic With Lightsabers During New York Blackout”.

On Saturday night, a power failure in New York City left the West Side of Manhattan in the dark. Some of the city’s denizens became trapped in subway cars. Others had to navigate the roads of the city without the aid of streetlights or stoplights. Some good Samaritans took to the streets, using what light sources they could find to help direct traffic through the city. These included cell phones as well as lightsaber blades.

(4) I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY. It seems Attorney General William Barr’s father, Donald Barr, wrote a science fiction novel, Space Relations: “When all the galaxies are colonized, John Craig, a young space diplomat, is captured by interplanetary pirates and sold into slavery.”  But there’s more!  Donald Barr also hired Jeffrey Epstein to teach at the Dalton School, despite that fact that Epstein was 20 at the time and didn’t have a degree.  The news just gets stranger and stranger these days. Thread starts here.

(5) NOW OPEN TO TOURISTS. Los Angeles locals can check this out — “LA’s Wormhole To The Heavens Is High In The Angeles Forest — And Open To The Public”: LAist has the story.

For road bicyclists like me, reaching the summit of Mt. Wilson is a leg-breaking test of climbing endurance — the ride to the top is about 25 miles and 6,000 feet up from my home.

Once there, my only thought is filling up on water and heading downhill (which is a lot more fun). But now, there’s a good reason for all of us to stay a while, regardless of how we choose to get up there.

The mountain’s observatory complex, officially known as the Mount Wilson Observatory, recently opened the doors to its 100-inch telescope to the public for stargazing.

This summer on the summit there’s also an ongoing concert series, science lectures and astronomical events — with some programs tied to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. And you can even get a bite to eat at the appropriately named Cosmic Cafe.

(6) MORE SF COMING TO NETFLIX. Space.com is there when “Netflix Unveils 1st Trailers for Sci-Fi Series ‘Another Life'”. Airs beginning July 25.

The first trailers for the series, a teaser and full look, just debuted this week. 

Katee Sackhoff stars as Commander Niko Breckinridge in a no-nonsense role that she looks perfect for. Sackhoff is certainly no stranger to sci-fi, not only did she play Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace in “Battlestar Galactica,” but she also starred in “The Flash” and provided the voice for Bo-Katan Kryze in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels.”

The YouTube caption says:

When a mysterious alien Artifact lands on Earth, Commander Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) has to lead humanity’s first interstellar mission to its planet of origin, while her husband (Justin Chatwin) tries to make first contact with the artifact back on earth. Another Life explores the miracle of life, how precious life is in a universe mostly empty of it, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

  • The 1963 television series The Jimmy Dean Show gave Jim Henson and the Muppets their first national media exposure.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 14, 1904 Zita Johann. She’s best known for the lead performance in Karl Freund’s 1932 film, The Mummy which also featured Boris Karloff. She wouldn’t show in another horror film for another fifty-four years when she was in Raiders of the Living Dead as a Librarian. (Died 1993.)
  • Born July 14, 1906 Abner J. Gelula. One of the many authors* of Cosmos, a serialised novel that appeared first in Science Fiction Digest July 1933 and then has a really convoluted publication history that I won’t detail here. It was critiqued as  as “the world’s most fabulous serial,” “one of the unique stunts of early science fiction,”and conversely “a failure, miserable and near-complete.” The entire text, chapter by chapter, can be read here. (Died 1985.)

*To be precise, Earl Binder, Otto Binder. Arthur J. Burks,  John W. Campbell, Jr., Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Ralph Milne Farley, Francis Flagg, J. Harvey Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, M.D., Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, P. Schuyler Miller, Bob Olsen, Raymond A. Palmer, E. Hoffmann Price and Edward E. Smith. 

  • Born July 14, 1926 Harry Dean Stanton. My favourite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 14, 1939 George Slusser. He was a well-known science fiction scholar and critic. He wasn’t fond of the later work of Heinlein, but then who was? However, he wrote two books on him, Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land (1976) and The Classic Years of Robert A. Heinlein (1977). And more essays about him than I can possibly list here such as “Novellas (The Classic Years of Robert A. Heinlein)”. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 14, 1943 Christopher Priest, 76. This is the Birthday of the One and and True Christopher Priest. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound? 
  • Born July 14, 1949 Nick Bantock, 70. This is a bit of a puzzler for me. He’s the creator of The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and The Morning Star Trilogy, a series of faux letters and postcards telling a story between two individuals. ISFDB lists it as genre but I’ve never heard it described as such before. Who’s read it here? 
  • Born July 14, 1964 Jane Espenson, 55. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode. She was on the the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica. 
  • Born July 14, 1966 Brian Selznick, 53. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) ARRIVAL. ShoutFactory TV has The Prisoner series available for viewing. In color, no less. (OK, maybe you’re not old enough for that last part to be a big deal.) Click here — http://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/the-prisoner.

(11) FIELD TRIP. According to Newsweek, “Ancient Tree With Record of Earth’s Magnetic Field Reversal in Its Rings Discovered”.

An ancient tree that contains a record of a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field has been discovered in New Zealand. The tree—an Agathis australis, better known as its Maori name kauri—was found in Ngawha, on New Zealand’s North Island, during excavation work for the expansion of a geothermal power plant, stuff.nz reports.

The tree, which had been buried in 26 feet of soil, measures eight feet in diameter and 65 feet in length. Carbon dating revealed it lived for 1,500 years, between 41,000 and 42,500 years ago.

“There’s nothing like this anywhere in the world,” Alan Hogg, from New Zealand’s University of Waikato, told the website. “This Ngawha kauri is unique.”

The lifespan of the kauri tree covers a point in Earth’s history when the magnetic field almost reversed. At this time, the magnetic north and south went on an excursion but did not quite complete a full reversal…

(12) DRAFT EULOGY. Although it is well-known, this bit Apollo 11 history may be new to you: “The speech Richard Nixon would have given ‘in event of moon disaster’” in the Washington Post.

Safire’s undelivered speech lay hidden for nearly three decades before I found it. In the late 1990s, researching a book on America’s opening to China, I was rummaging through the archives of the Nixon administration (then in College Park, Md.) when my eyes suddenly fell on something I wasn’t looking for. It was a memo from Safire to White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman titled, “In event of moon disaster.”

The short text still brings tears to the eyes. It begins, “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.” It ends with the words, “For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

(13) ORDERING PIZZA IN KLINGON. Let Laughing Squid remind you about – “A 1994 ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Pizza Hut British TV Commercial Spoken Completely in Klingon”. (And they put out another in 1995, which you can view at the link.)

In 1994, Pizza Hut UK aired the very first non-English advert on British television stations. The scene featured three Klingons who looked like Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and only spoke in their native language. Luckily a compassionate employee was able to help them without words.

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

72 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/14/19 Scroll On, Pixel Off

  1. To be sure, Chiasson doesn’t “condemn” William Barr, but he certainly is suspicious of him by some chain of association (tweet: “if Epstein was running a protection racket, what does he have on [William] Barr?”)

    So what? It’s speculation. I don’t see how he should be faulted for asking a question based on the available facts and reporting, which are fairly characterized as suspicious.

  2. @BravoLimaPoppa: it’s very much a selling point for me too, though I may need to go back and re-read my copy of Monkey to see if I’m missing some parallels. From what I recall, I like how he’s using elements from the Wu Cheng’en’s telling in a sci-fi format though.

  3. (8) Nick Bantock — I always considered the Griffin and Sabine series magical realism. The correspondence between the characters is strongly philosophical; the Griffin character in particular deeply considers the divide between reality and the fantastical. But yeah, it’s the sort of fantasy more along the lines of, ‘Are you possibly writing from a parallel universe?’ rather than wizards casting spells.

  4. Dunno if Cat is still reading this, but I’ve read the Griffin and Sabine trilogy (which, in the manner of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is actually up to like 5 or 6 books now) by Bantok. It’s an epistolary novel, and starts with the character Griffin receiving a letter from the mysterious Sabine, who lives on the other side of the world. They’re both visual artists, and she can somehow see what he’s painting as he’s painting it, but he can’t see anything of hers. Eventually they decide to try to meet but keep getting foiled by potentially dark forces. The story itself is okay, though I liked the first few books the best and then the story sorta falters. The biggest strength of the books is that Bantok is a painter himself, and so he made these beautiful paintings and facsimiles of Griffin and Sabine’s letters and postcards to each other which, in the book, are purported to be handmade by Griffin or Sabine. They’re all short, too, so if you’re curious about them they don’t take up that much time. I know my public library had them but I don’t know how many of the letters fell out of their envelopes and were never seen again.

  5. men says I always considered the Griffin and Sabine series magical realism. The correspondence between the characters is strongly philosophical; the Griffin character in particular deeply considers the divide between reality and the fantastical. But yeah, it’s the sort of fantasy more along the lines of, ‘Are you possibly writing from a parallel universe?’ rather than wizards casting spells.

    Thanks, that explains the series nicely. And Becca, I read every post to very end.

  6. That Klingon ad accurately describes the rumbling I get every time I go to Pizza Hut. Thanks for posting it.

  7. @Cat Eldridge:

    eight Muppets films available plus the awful reboot series

    Which reboot series? MuppeTelevision from the Jim Henson Hour? Muppets Tonight? ‘the muppets‘? (I mostly assume you mean the last of the three, which is also the one I have not seen any of. MuppeTelevision was kind of a different beast, and Muppets Tonight mostly seemed to suffer from trying too hard.)

    On a vaguely related note, I was at Ad Astra this weekend in Toronto. Artist GoH was Lar de Souza, and one of the pictures he had up in the art show was ‘Doctor Teeth and the Timey-Wimey Mayhem’, which involved all of the band members dressed up as different Doctors. Animal as Tom Baker, Floyd as Peter Troughton, Janice as Jodie Whittaker of course… don’t remember who Doctor Teeth himself was dressed as.

  8. Jenora Feuer asks
    Which reboot series? MuppeTelevision from the Jim Henson Hour? Muppets Tonight? ‘the muppets‘? (I mostly assume you mean the last of the three, which is also the one I have not seen any of. MuppeTelevision was kind of a different beast, and Muppets Tonight mostly seemed to suffer from trying too hard.)

    ABC attempted a reboot of the Muppets a few years back called, errr, The Muppets. Think the 21st Century version of the original show. It’s was bloody awful. Bad scripts, worse premise, even horrid puppetry.

  9. @Chip Hitchcock

    William Barr is not merely a member of the Trump administration; he was picked because he was more willing to twist the law (as he has already publicly done) than Sessions.

    In that case, he’s an awful person, too. I just didn’t know very much about him, so I did not want to call him an awful person without evidence. After all, there were a couple of not quite so awful and semi-reasonable folks in the Trump administration, though most/all of them are long gone,

  10. A couple of thoughts re: W. Barr, D. Barr, and Epstein, and then I will let it go.
    1. It may have been a bad idea to hire anyone who did not have a college degree. But D. Barr left the school before Epstein came on board, and Epstein was there for at least two school years. So apparently the new headmaster (who could have easily said, “no, not gonna do this”) and the Board of Directors were okay with the hire as well. I don’t know what practices were 45 years ago for private schools.
    2. To paint D. Barr with the brush of Epstein’s perversions is ludicrous, unless you assert that Epstein was already pimping out underage girls before he was hired, and you also assert that D. Barr was aware of this and it didn’t stop him (assuming that he was involved in the hire, which is certainly possible, but it is a fact not in evidence).
    3. To paint W. Barr with that same brush is even more ludicrous. Is there any evidence that he has ever even met Epstein?
    4. There is nothing on the record about D. Barr or W. Barr (or his brother) that justifies having “to wonder what kind of environment William Barr grew up in” when that speculation is directly in the context of a discussion of sexual misconduct.

    And, to get away from tawdry politics and back to SF:

    Spider Robinson’s Galaxy review of Space Relations:
    “Space relations was disturbingly good. How do I go about praising a book about interstellar S&M? Well, I can tell you that it’s exceptionally well-written, tastefully handled, entirely engrossing, reasonably plausible and populated by real people, I guess. Voracious aliens called Plith are approaching inhabited space, and scattered human planets are forming a Treaty Organization in self defense. Kossar wishes to join — but the Organization charter forbids slavery, on which Kossar’s economy appears to depend. The problem is solved by what has to be the ultimate extrapolation of the masochist-hero theme — a secret agent who engages in an undercover mission involving the classic mistress-slave relationship with a Kossarian noble-woman, only to discover that he loves it.

    I liked the book. It was . . . how shall I say it? . . . disquietingly enjoyable. Let’s see more from Donald Barr.”

    A story by Donald Barr.

  11. bill: Spider Robinson’s Galaxy review of Space Relations: “Space relations was disturbingly good. How do I go about praising a book about interstellar S&M? Well, I can tell you that it’s exceptionally well-written, tastefully handled”

    Having read Time Pressure, I will take an endorsement from Robinson in this arena as a “DANGER: Terminal Eye-Rolling Risk” warning label.

  12. @bill: as I noted before, your point #1 is bull; faculty appointments, even at prep schools rather than college, can be made well before the teacher begins work. e.g.: my father, who taught at Los Alamos Ranch School for most of its existence, was hired around (possibly before) graduating from college; he paid his rent around NYC that summer by summarizing ~classic novels (appropriate work for an English major) for movie execs looking for filmable properties, before moving to New Mexico (and a starting paycheck) just before the Fall term began.

    Also: Robinson was an utterly uncritical reviewer of later Heinlein, and generally prone to random enthusiasms rather than reliable evaluations; I wouldn’t say that Time Pressure is by itself a reason to ignore all his fiction, let alone his reviewing, but his approval of anyone else’s work means very little.

  13. Chip Hitchcock: Robinson was an utterly uncritical reviewer of later Heinlein, and generally prone to random enthusiasms rather than reliable evaluations; I wouldn’t say that Time Pressure is by itself a reason to ignore all his fiction, let alone his reviewing, but his approval of anyone else’s work means very little.

    My reference to Time Pressure is in the sense that I’m not willing to accept Robinson’s assessment that any book’s sexual content is “exceptionally well-written and tastefully handled,” because his standards for that are obviously very different from mine.

  14. “…that any book’s sexual content is “exceptionally well-written and tastefully handled,”

    If that’s true for the content, you might as well leave it out.

  15. Meredith Moment: I don’t know how much longer it’s available for free, but Jennifer Foehner Wells’ Fluency, the first novel in a series about which Kendall and I have raved, is currently $0.00 on Amazon US and possibly other Usual Suspects.

  16. Hampus: Did you just imply that “exceptionally well written and tastefully handled” sex scenes can’t be hot? Because that’s not my experience. I’m fairly sure neither of us is quibbling with the first half of the clause, about being well-written (my experience with less well written sex scenes is not unlike the disappointment with not very good sex itself…).

    So I suppose it depends what you mean by tasteful. But I have most definitely had, shall we say, a positive reaction, to a scene in which the language was subtle and clever, and there was surprisingly little, or no, description of genitalia (Often ones in which the psychological and emotional reactions are more key). It’s by no means the ONLY way to go, and sometimes for a sex scene to do what the author intends, it has to NOT be tasteful or subtle — though still well written — but I would never suggest that being tasteful is in itself disqualifying.

    (There also exist scenes in books in which characters have sex, and some event therein matters too much to skip, but the reader isn’t supposed to be turned on or involved in that level, but when the discussion started with a book starring sex slavery, I’m pretty sure this is NOT the case we’re concerned with.)

  17. Lenora:

    I’m sorry, but I’d had to go into trigger warning territory to explain my preferences into any depth, and I do not think this is the forum for that.

  18. That’s fair for personal preference (and might be true for me as well), but you were stating your “might as well leave it out” as if it were a more universal truth, and that was what I was curious to discuss.

  19. Well, honestly, “tastefully handled” sounds like “highbrow and boring” to me. There’s something in the word “tasteful” that raises my hackles, especially when it comes to sexual content. Trying to handle writing “tastefully”, sounds to me like filing down all corners as to not offend anyone. Thereby offending me. 😛

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