Pixel Scroll 7/25/20 There’s A Troublesome Gap In The Middle 11 Billion Years

(1) BRADBURY CENTENARY PODCAST. Phil Nichols’ BRADBURY 100 podcast starts today! His guest on episode 1 is author Steven Paul Leiva.

I first met Steve at Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday party in 2010, which was held in Glendale’s Mystery & Imagination Bookshop. For many years Ray would gather friends and fans here for book signings and talks. Up the stairs of the bookshop was a wall signed by various authors and celebrities who had visited. Steve and I searched for his previous signing, and we also found the spot where Ray Bradbury had signed several years earlier.

(2) LEGACY FULFILLED. World Fantasy Con co-chair Ginny Smith shares “How Salt Lake City Won the Honor of Hosting WFC 2020 – and How We Lost It”.

… The board room doors opened. Mike Willmoth, our board mentor, walked into the hallway, stuck out his hand to me and said, “Congratulations.” Tears sprang to my eyes. And they were not tears of joy! We’d done it. And now, we had to do it!…

(3) ZOMBIE SOCIAL DISTANCING. “Zombies and Coronavirus:  Planning For The Next Big Outbreak” on YouTube is a panel from Comic-Con featuring Max Brooks, who says Americans born after World War II “don’t have the muscle memory and gut fear of germs” which left them ill-prepared for the pandemic.

(4) PURITY OF ESSENCE. Charles Stross is not prepared to trust Worldcon site selection voters, you see. They might do anything. Like vote for another Worldcon in the U.S.

(5) WORKING. ScreenRant has collected a list of “Star Trek: All Roles (& Voiceovers) Played By Majel Barrett”.

… From TOS onward, Barrett became a vital part of Star Trek, lending her voice to Star Trek: The Animated Series, appearing in the original Star Trek movies, and guest-starring in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Majel Barrett is a true example of Star Trek royalty, and the following is every live-action role she played in the franchise, as well as how ubiquitous her voice has been to nearly every incarnation of Star Trek.

(6) NIPPON INTO SPACE. The Diamond Bay Radio podcast has a new interview on the history of Japanese Rocketry and space programs with Subo Wijeyeratne (PhD in History of Science, Harvard): “Japanese Rocketry”.

They also discuss Subo’s science fiction anthology, Tales from the the Stone Lotus, and his unpublished novel, Triangulum.

(7) CLEIN OBIT. Hollywood publicist Harry Clein died June 18 at the age of 82The Hollywood Reporter has an extended profile.  

Clein … consulted for Pixar and Steve Jobs on Toy Story (1995); for Tim Burton on Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992) and Ed Wood (1994); and for other filmmakers including … Wes Craven. He also… wrote the press notes for Star Wars (1977)….

(8) GRAHAM OBIT. “Ronald L. Graham, Who Unlocked the Magic of Numbers, Dies at 84” reports the New York Times.

Ronald L. Graham, who gained renown with wide-ranging theorems in a field known as discrete mathematics that have found uses in diverse areas, ranging from making telephone and computer networks more efficient to explaining the dynamics of juggling, died on July 6 at his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 84.

The cause was bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition, according to a statement from the University of California, San Diego, where Dr. Graham was an emeritus professor.

“He created a lot of mathematics and some really pretty cool stuff,” said Peter Winkler, a mathematician at Dartmouth College. “This occurred over many years, and so it’s only now that we get to sort of look back and see all the stuff that he did.”

One thing he did was develop methods for worst-case analysis in scheduling theory — that is, whether the order in which actions are scheduled wastes time. On another front, with his wife and frequent collaborator, Fan Chung, an emeritus mathematician at the University of California, San Diego, he developed the idea of quasi-random graphs, which applied numerical preciseness in describing the random-like structure of networks.

Dr. Graham’s research was detailed in about 400 papers, but he never fit the stereotype of a nerdy mathematician. Soft-spoken but garrulous, he leavened his talks on high-level equations with silly jokes and sight gags. He was also an expert trampoline gymnast and juggler, a side pursuit — he was elected president of the International Jugglers’ Association in 1972 — that in his hands also lent itself to mathematical analysis. At one point Dr. Graham and three other juggling mathematicians proved an equation for the number of possible ball-juggling patterns before a pattern repeats.

(9) ROËVES OBIT. Actor Maurice Roëves, who appeared in two iconic genre TV series (details below) has died aged 83 reports The Guardian.

…Handsome, with piercing eyes and a granite jawline, he played tough guys, steely villains or stalwart military figures with directness, authenticity and spiky energy.

He also had the rare distinction of appearing in both Doctor Who and the Star Trek franchise: in the former he brought genuine grit to his turn as a murderous gun runner in The Caves of Androzani (1984), frequently voted the best story in the show’s long history. His alien Romulan in Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of his many forays into American television, which also included a stint on the soap Days of Our Lives (1985-86) and parts in Baywatch (1992), Cheers (1993) and Murder, She Wrote (1994).

(10) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.

  • July 25, 2009 — Robert Holdstock’s Avilion would be published. Set in his Ryhope Wood series, it was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It would be the final work from this author as he died in-hospital at the age of sixty-one  from an E. coli infection on November 29, 2009. He would be honored with The Karl Edward Wagner Award from the British Fantasy Society the following year.  And they would rename their British Fantasy Award for best novel in his honor the next year. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 25, 1870 – Maxfield Parrish.  Two dozen covers for us, as many interiors if you count uses after he died; far more beyond, maybe higher numbers if we reach: I’m willing to leave out Ecstasy (see here); the medium matters for The Lantern Bearers (see here) – you don’t get the fantastic effect without glazing, on canvas it’s just globes – yes, I know it was done for Collier’s; but what about The Pied Piper (see here)? or Humpty Dumpty (see here)? and he illustrated The Arabian Nights (see here).  He was a master of make-believe.  He weighed whimsy; he was not ridden by, but rode, reality.  (Died 1966) [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1907 —  Cyril Luckham. He played the White Guardian first in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Ribos Opperation”, part one and then twice more in the two-part Fifth Doctor story, “Enlightment”.  He was also Dr. Moe in the Fifties pulp film Stranger from Venus, and also showed up in The Omega FactorA Midsummer Night’s DreamRandall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Tales of The Unexpected. (Died 1989.) (CE) 
  • Born July 25, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories about a Buddhist crime fighter  whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. Kindle has a really deep catalog of his genre work. (Died 1981.) (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1922 Evelyn E. Smith. She has the delightful bio being of a writer of sf and mysteries, as well as a compiler of crossword puzzles. During the 1950s, she published both short stories and novelettes in Galaxy Science FictionFantastic Universe and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her SF novels include The Perfect Planet and The Copy Shop. A look at iBooks and Kindle shows a twelve story Wildside Press collection but none of her novels. (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1932 – Paul Weitz.  Naval aviator, 7,700 hrs flying time, five Air Medals.  Piloted the first crewed Skylab.  Commanded the maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Challenger; its primary payload was the first Tracking & Data Relay Satellite, revolutionizing low-Earth-orbit communications.  NASA Distinguished Service Medal.  Fellow, Amer. Astronautical Society.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1948 Brian Stableford, 72. I am reasonably sure that I read and enjoyed all of the Hooded Swan series a long time ago which I see has been since been collected as Swan Songs: The Complete Hooded Swan Collection. And I’ve certainly read a fair amount of his short fiction down the years. (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1971 Chloë Annett, 49. She played Holly Turner in the Crime Traveller series and Kristine Kochanski in the Red Dwarf series. She was in the “Klingons vs. Vulcans” episode of the Space Cadets sort of game show. (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1973 Mur Lafferty, 47. Podcaster and writer. Co-editor of the Escape Pod podcast with Divya Breed, her second time around. She is also the host and creator of the podcast I Should Be Writing which won a Parsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Escape Artists short fiction magazine Mothership Zeta. And then there’s the Ditch Diggers podcast she started with Matt Wallace which is supposed to show the brutal, honest side of writing. For that, It won the Hugo Award for Best Fancast in 2018, having been a finalist the year before.  Fiction wise, I loved both The Shambling Guide to New York City and A Ghost Train to New Orleans with I think the second being a better novel. (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1950 – Cortney Skinner, 70.  A score of covers (some with Tom Kidd) for us, seven dozen interiors; more for others.  Here is the Jul 79 Galileo.  Here is the Mar-Apr 91 Aboriginal.  Here is The Hogben Chronicles.  Here is a bookworm (sculpture, from his Website).  Here, a cover for a Sherlock Holmes book.  [JH]
  • Born July 25 – Dick Smith.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate (with wife Leah Zeldes Smith).  Active in various apas (amateur press associations) including our first and greatest, FAPA (Fantasy Am. Pr. Ass’n); earned the Vorzimer Award in The Cult.  Fanzine, STET.  Collects copying devices, e.g. letterpresses, hectographs.  To balance this he is a computer consultant; Fred Pohl dedicated All the Lives He Led to him.  [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1967 – Ann Totusek, 53.  Chaired Minicon 51-52, Duckon, DemiCon.  Served on the Super-Con-Duck-Tivity Board, i.e. giving the Golden Duck awards.  Chief of Hospitality and of Volunteers at Demicons.  Chief of Hospitality at Minicon’s Golden Anniversary; at Chicon 7 (70th Worldcon), and thus of the after-Hugos reception at Renovation (71st).  Worked in Operations, one of our most thankless and demanding tasks, at Interaction (63rd Worldcon), Anticipation (67th), Loncon 3 (72nd), some Eastercons (U.K. nat’l convention).  Has been Minn-Stf (from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) president.  Taught making sugar-cube castles at Minicon 55.  When I asked her “What else should I tell them?” she said “Tell them Ann says Wear a mask.”  She should; she’s an R.N.  Stood for TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) this year, platform “Vote for Mike [“Orange Mike” Lowrey, the other candidate],” which we did.  [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1977 – Shana Muldoon Zappa, 43.  Actress, designer; married Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet; they in the family tradition named their daughter Halo Violetta Zappa, their son Arrow d’Oro Leon Zappa.  SMZ and AZ invented Star Darlings (Disney); 14 novels about them so far, four on the Scholastic 100.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) SDCC AT HOME. Comic-Con@Home 2020’s item with the cast of The New Mutants can be viewed on YouTube and comes recommended by John King Tarpinian.

Writer/Director Josh Boone and the cast of Twentieth Century Studios and Marvel Entertainment’s The New Mutants, including Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga discuss the upcoming original horror-thriller moderated by Ira Madison III.

(14) RADIOACTIVE BIOPIC. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] NPR says “Like Her ‘Radioactive’ Elements, Marie Curie Didn’t ‘Behave’ As Expected”. I saw this on a sneak preview courtesy of membership in the local science museum. It’s not perfect but is IMO worth seeing.

Like the elements that she discovered — polonium and radium — Marie Curie was “unruly,” says actor Rosamund Pike. Pike plays the famous scientist in the new biopic Radioactive.

The film, streaming on Amazon Prime, is about the power of science and how it can be harnessed in both positive and destructive ways. Curie’s discoveries led to medical breakthroughs, but they were also weaponized — into bombs and poison.

“[Director] Marjane Satrapi and I both had a vision of her as quite an ‘unruly element’ that does not behave as it should …” Pike explains. She and her fellow filmmakers were “interested in really pushing how challenging we could make her, how much we could make her not conform to traditional standards of femininity.”

Interview Highlights


On starring in a movie about science in the midst of a global pandemic


I’m very excited because I think there’s been a huge rise in people’s interest in science. And I think people are suddenly very, very curious as to who scientists really are. Who are these people who suddenly hold life in their hands?

On what she learned about Marie Curie preparing for the film


She was really little more than a name that I recognized, if I’m perfectly honest. … I started having chemistry lessons … which was exciting as a female in film. Historically, a lot of my preparation has been involved, getting myself physically fit. And it was a really refreshing change to be having to get myself mentally fit.

(15) MASK YOUR PUMPKIN. FastCompany is watching as “COVID-19 claims another victim: Halloween”.

Universal Orlando announced on Friday that it’s canceling its annual Halloween Horror Nights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horror Nights 30 was supposed to take place from September 10 through November 1. Large gatherings aren’t a good idea at this time, and Halloween enthusiasts are bummed. There was a time—back in the spring—when people imagined that we could be emerging from this nightmare by now. Many people had hope, back then, that popular Halloween gatherings were going to unfold this year as they have in the past, but with people wearing masks for the most ironic but necessary reason ever.

However, it’s time to give in to the notion that Halloween (along with probably all large gatherings for the rest of the year) is canceled….

[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and Andrew Porter for these my joints. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/25/20 There’s A Troublesome Gap In The Middle 11 Billion Years

  1. I’ve been something of a Brian Stableford fanboy ever since discovering the Dies Irae trilogy at an impressionable age – the first two volumes are very thinly disguised retellings of the Iliad and the Odyssey, while the third goes off in a more interesting direction. I very much enjoyed the “Hooded Swan” and “Daedalus” series, as well as standalones like War Games and The Walking Shadow.

    More recently, I found the Emortality books impressive – longer thoughts available at my old LJ, here and here – but I suppose I could see people bouncing off the “Genesys” and “Lydyard” trilogies, both of which demand close attention from the reader. The Lydyard books, a sort of metaphysical thriller series in a world where reality can be overwritten by spontaneous “acts of creation”, is right up my particular street, but my street doesn’t get all that much traffic, sometimes….

  2. Cora Buhlert: Thank you for the background on why there probably won’t be a German Worldcon bid.

    Chris Rose: My reading of the FINANCIAL TIMES piece on Chinese sf is that while the Chinese bid is not organized by the Chinese government that they are keenly aware of the bid because China is bad at projecting “soft power” and they are pleased that a Chinese organization is attracting foreign interest. I welcome your evidence that the Chinese government neither knows or cares about the Worldcon bid.

  3. [Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and Andrew Porter for these my joints. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

    Umm…“these my joints”? I can’t figure out what you typed that ended up “my joints.”

    I do like the phrase, though.

  4. Martin, I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re asking me that for. Also, “I invite you to prove a negative at a nation state level” is some amazing bullshit.

  5. Henry V, act 4, scene 3:

    …Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald.
    They shall have none, I swear, but these my joints,
    Which, if they have, as I will leave ’em them,
    Shall yield them little.

    (Does this provide any useful context for the phrase? Who knows?)

  6. Jeff Smith: Umm…“these my joints”?

    Just a bit of silliness, intentional, not a typo (for a change).

    And no wonder this prompted questions. Lee Pierson warned me in high school, “Intentional mistakes are meaningless when true errors abound.”

  7. @chris rose @martin morse

    About the Chinese bid and involvement of govt, I took a look at the Beijing SF conference held in Nov 2019, and the people officially listed as the organizers. My opinion was that Beijing certainly seems to be taking an active interest in the SFF field, and that both economic and political factors are the motivations.

    see; http://yunchtime.net/ARTS/China-Science-FIction-Conference-2019/

    Also worth considering is the role of Liu Cixin, certainly the most famous living Chinese SF author. He has been the vice-chair of the party writers bureau in Shanxi, which is an official state office that oversees (approves or censors) writers in the province. According to Liu, this is purely honorary and he has no actual role or responsibilities, but we can surmise that he is at least accomodating (or acquiesing) to the govt that wants to include him in their own efforts.
    see https://www.cqcb.com/headline/2019-04-15/1563050_pc.html

    There’s a really good overview of Liu’s career and sensibilities in the South Reviews article here: https://www.nfcmag.com/article/6961.html
    Which somebody ought to translate….

  8. Chip to me: ugh. Cheers for a private room, at least.

    I’m told it’s the largest private room on the Unit. It certainly makes things A Lot Better given the length of the stay. As the fall now has me confined to bed with an alarm if I get up without notifying nursing staff.

    Staff is really, really paranoid about another fall.so I can’t do anything unattended, (Yes anything.) Hopefully the cardiologists will figure out what meds I need to be taking…

  9. @Cora Buhlert–I’m totally sympathetic to being unhappy about three US Worldcons in a row. There are a range of really solid objections to a US Worldcon right now, and we at least need to have a good outcome in the November election before that can even start to change.

    But if plausible non-US bids don’t happen, it’s kind of tough to vote for them. And US fans can’t make those bids happen.

    Jeddah is a bid by people who don’t know what they’re doing, in a country that is potentially really unsafe for fans from all the world, and who don’t appear to even understand the questions people are asking them. You say they obviously have no chance, so all the criticism is pointless…and I’m sitting here in the US, with The Orange One is our president, in part because of all the damnfools who “knew” he had no chance, and didn’t take seriously anyone telling them that he did, and that this was no time to not vote or to cast protest vote.

    So, no, not buying the idea that we don’t have to talk about what’s wrong with Jeddah, especially when the issues with the US are also real.

    Same with Chengdu, when that becomes the current issue. (This assuming we have a good outcome in November. If not, all bets are off.)

    But more generally, we want regular non-US Worldcons even if the US becomes paradise on Earth, and the only way we can reasonably sure of that is for fans in other countries to organize them. Bitching and moaning about too many US Worldcons won’t change anything. Only strong non-US bids can do that.

    Oh, and there are complaints every year, about every Worldcon. Goes with the territory. There will be complaints about CoNZealand and its choice of online platforms this year, guaranteed, and they’ll come from all directions.

    The bids need to happen.

  10. Lis Carey: I will heartily support any “strong non-US bid” for a Worldcon.

  11. @Cora Buhlert:
    * only a handful of cities also have an airport with overseas connections. So? AFAICT, most US fans got to Glasgow by changing in Heathrow or Gatwick (although I know some who changed in Toronto, and some who at least threatened to get to 2014 in London by changing in Amsterdam for London City). After Reno, San Antonio, and San Jose (on top of your list), US fans have no grounds for complaint about connections to get to European cities. If they do complain, ignore them; if European fans are pre-disqualifying themselves, they shouldn’t.
    * a convention centre built by a Pritzker Prize winning architect was not good enough for some people due to some architectural peculiarities. ISTM that architectural awards are given for cute containers rather than usable spaces; if your response to “this CC is a nightmare” is to tout the architect’s fame, I’ll start telling you about Kresge Auditorium, the Sydney Opera House, and other stunning buildings that are grotesquely unsuited for their functions. (Irritate me enough and I’ll tell you how much of a pain it was to design exhibits in Spokane, whose hall was supposed to look like a native watercraft — but mostly affected me and the decorator; IMO it was a great hall for attendees.) Being thin-skinned is not an asset for a con-runner — there will always be complainers; not being aware enough to notice issues or resourceful enough to deal with them doesn’t help either.

  12. mlex: About the Chinese bid and involvement of govt, I took a look at the Beijing SF conference held in Nov 2019, and the people officially listed as the organizers. My opinion was that Beijing certainly seems to be taking an active interest in the SFF field, and that both economic and political factors are the motivations.

    Back in November, I pointed out that the supposed “sponsoring” organizations for the Chengdu bid don’t seem to actually exist, and that the Beijing SF conference to which a bunch of Worldcon conrunners were given free trips, and the big Chinese SF publication, are both run by a Chinese governmental organization.

  13. @Colette H Fozard: you describe a very limited case — sounding a bit like why “Randy Scouse Git” was a poor name for a Monkees song — as if it’s general. If you had extrapolated solely to attacks on racial/ethnic/gender/… identities you might have a case; however, ISTM you’re ignoring the fact that two of the bids are in places where speech that threatens only power, not people, is forbidden. ISTM this goes far beyond learning interesting things via travel.

  14. Pingback: Top 10 Stories for July 2020 | File 770

  15. As a math professor, I was pleased to see your obit of Ron Graham here. One important role that Graham filled was the organizer for visits from Paul Erd?s, one of the more famous mathematicians of our time. Erd?s published over 3000 papers, almost all with collaborators. He would visit math departments, ask if anyone had interesting questions, usually solve them on the spot, then let the other person write up the paper with that solution. But Erd?s couldn’t handle money, arrange flights, find places to stay, etc., so Ron did all that for him. (And wrote several math papers with him.)
    We had Graham visit our college once, to give an “academic” talk, but knowing his skills in juggling, I arranged for him to give a workshop to our Juggling Club (of which I was the advisor). He taught them all how to flip a coin and guarantee that it came up the way you wanted it to 🙂

  16. @Darrah Chavey
    “[Ron Graham] taught them all how to flip a coin and guarantee that it came up the way you wanted it to.”

    Steve Martin (who performed as a magician before he became a comedian) had a small contribution to the 1980 book “Impromptu Magic from the Magic Castle”, in which he teaches the same skill.

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