Pixel Scroll 7/31/21 So You Want To Be An Orc’n’Scroll Star

(1) RETURN OF A MAN CALLED CHUCK. Chuck Tingle’s Twitter account has been restored. He tweeted thanks to some who helped him along the way.

(2) SMITHSONIAN FUTURES EXHIBIT. Octavia Butler, one of her typewriters, and some newly commissioned art, will be part of the Smithsonian’s “Futures That Unite” exhibit that opens in November reports Smithsonian Magazine: “The Pioneering Sci-Fi Writer Octavia E. Butler Joins a Pantheon of Celebrated Futurists”. The complete set of Nettrice Gaskins’ images can be viewed here.

…In developing science fiction writing as her craft, after disparaging a campy sci-fi flick, Butler became a master storyteller whose unique works revealed how members of the African diaspora could use their own power to shape alternative futures. Butler is one of the futurists who will be honored in the Smithsonian’s expansive “Futures” exhibition, which will mark the Institution’s 175th anniversary and will debut in the Arts and Industries Building late this year.

“Anchoring her in the exhibition in the hall that we call ‘Futures That Unite’ is really important because her books have united people across time and space and ages and identities,” says Monica Montgomery, the exhibition team’s social justice curator. While many of Butler’s works are dystopian in nature, “We know that ultimately, her work aims to unite and go from what does the future of sorrow look like to what does the future of strength look like.”…

A Smithsonian artifact—an Olivetti typewriter—from the collections of the Anacostia Community Museum will represent Butler’s life in the “Futures” show. The museum received it directly from Butler in 2004, when it went on view in the exhibition, “All the Stories Are True,” explains Jennifer Sieck, the museum’s collections researcher. “Octavia Butler was one of the invited authors, and not only did she generously share her presence, but she also donated the typewriter to the museum, along with the ribbons.”

…In addition to the typewriter, Butler will be represented by a newly commissioned work of art by digital artist Nettrice Gaskins, who uses algorithms meant to be employed in machine learning to produce artworks. She will provide a series of portraits of featured futurists, including herself. Others include author and disability rights advocate Helen Keller, American sculptor and political activist Isamu Noguchi, and National Farmworkers Association co-founders Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, frontline researchers in the global race for a Covid vaccine Barney Graham and Kizzmekia Corbett, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, non-binary professional skateboarder Leo Baker, the multi-disciplinary educator Buckminster Fuller and the civil rights activist Floyd McKissick.

“I used styles that corresponded with each futurist,” Gaskins says. “When I created the futurist portraits, I collaborated with the A.I. [artificial intelligence] and fed the machine different styles to see what the results would be, then I chose the ones that captured what I imagined.” Mirroring characters in Butler’s Parables series, “I’m finding ways to use A.I. to recognize my own power to affect and direct change or chance,” she says….

(3) 2022 WORLDCON HIKING MEMBERSHIP RATE. Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, is raising its attending membership rate to $190 on August 1. So if you want to beat the deadline, click here: Memberships – Chicon 8. The new rate will be good until December 20, 2021.

(4) SELF-PUBLISHING DURING THE PANDEMIC. Mike Allen is interviewed by Melanie Stormm at the SPECPO blog: “The Uncertain Journey of Shirley Jackson Finalist, Aftermath…”

…“I came to horror as a way of wrestling with the darkness in human nature, the darkness in my own nature,” Mike said, speaking to the autobiographical quality of some of his poems. “I had to make peace with my understanding of the world. The fact that the things Edgar Allen Poe was writing about were not alien, but part of the human experience.”

When he announced this, it hit me and made things plain. I understood my own tendency to like dark things: they seemed to tell the truth and I turn to fiction and poetry as much for truth as I do for adventure. These sorts of work found all the things our minds want to reject as part of life and wove them into the narrative. It’s about acceptance and not only thrill. I found myself reflecting internally on the kind of catharsis that comes from reading work like Aftermath and on my own desire to escape the Jeremiad news cycle. And yet, in the middle of the pandemic, life had been stressful for me, but I found that I wasn’t suffering from the same psychological horror that others I cared about suffered from. I felt strangely spared the extent of shock and sleepless nights others had, spared the existential crisis, the headlines (and very real events) created in others. Not because I was brighter or wiser or more resilient. In fact, it felt as though the level of peace I had was gifted to me.

As though reading the new question in my mind, Mike said: “In a way, horror inoculates you. There’s an addictive quality to it as it produces a lot of chemical activity in your brain, but it also inoculates you.” Mike paused, wondering whether ‘inoculate’ was the best word given the situation the world faced. Then, after a moment, he nodded. “Yeah, it inoculates you. You come to accept that the worse can happen, and that idea maybe shocks you less than it does other people.”…

(5) STAN’S ORIGIN STORY. J. Hoberman chronicles “Marvel’s Ringmaster” at the New York Review of Books. “Under Stan Lee’s guidance, Marvel marketed not only its characters but also the men who created them.” The first part of the article is open, but the rest is behind a paywall.

…The comic book industry was largely created by first-generation Americans. Lee’s Romanian immigrant father was a fabric cutter in New York City’s garment industry; the family struggled during the Great Depression. Skipping grades, the faster to finish his education and get a job, Lee attended DeWitt Clinton, a huge all-boys public high school in the Bronx that produced many distinguished alumni. Lionel Trilling, Irving Howe, A.M. Rosenthal, and William Kunstler were graduates. Lee’s classmates might have included the future playwright Paddy Chayefsky, the disgraced studio boss David Begelman, the Get Smart actor Don Adams, and (before he dropped out) the champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, as well as Richard Avedon and James Baldwin. Lee worked on the school literary magazine, less as a writer or editor than a self-appointed publicity director….

(6) LEARNING FROM WRONG GUESSES. Simon Evans discusses “What Sci Fi novels can teach us about uncertainty” in The Spectator.

…Literature has no single golden age, but some genre fiction does, and Science Fiction had a long one, stretching from the mid-30s all the way up to the mid 50s – up, perhaps, to Crick and Watson and the genuinely astounding discovery of DNA with which it briefly struggled to compete. Soon, we’d been to the moon too, and the race to speculate before science could accumulate became a lot tighter. 

Sci-Fi thrives off society’s sense of the unknown. The fiction of this era is worth reading as much to register the blind spots, as to applaud the bulls’ eyes. These are generally by way of under estimating the societal changes which were to sweep across the West after WW2. Many authors anticipate nuclear annihilation, and subsequent genetic mutation, but there does not appear to be a single one who saw feminism coming. 

Instead, stories by Asimov, Heinlein and the like bristle with square jawed 21st century heroes, wise cracking journalists, distracted academics and Blondes, Blondes, Blondes. Some of the predicted innovations in tech are hauntingly accurate, but the action remains firmly rooted in a social milieu Raymond Chandler would recognise. But this is instructive in itself and tells us something about the business of understanding what can, and cannot change, and how quickly. Many people envisaged the rise of a global pandemic at some point in the future but not many paused to consider its social implications – plus ça change. …

(7) VAMPIRE CLEARANCE SALE. FX dropped this trailer for season 3 of What We Do In The Shadows.

An evil bucket that’s great for collecting evil. See how the vampires are decluttering for the all-new season premiering Sept 2nd on FX.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

July 31, 1992 – Twenty-nine years ago the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film premiered. Written by Joss Whedon, it was directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and produced by Howard Rosenman and Kaz Kuzui. The cast was Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer and Luke Perry. It got middling reviews from the critics and currently holds a rating of just forty-three percent at Rotten Tomatoes. It neither made nor lost money at the box office.

It of course would spawn the later Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Angel series as well. The former was both a critical and rating success. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer series would win a Hugo at Torcon 3. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 31, 1932 Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. If you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek, and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the “The Corbomite Maneuver” episode and the Gorn in the “Arena” episode. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair” episode, he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. And failed magnificently. (Died 1979.)
  • Born July 31, 1951 Jo Bannister, 70. Though best known as a most excellent British crime fiction novelist, she has three SF novels to her credit, all written in the early Eighties — The MatrixThe Winter Plain and A Cactus Garden. ISFDB lists one short story by her as genre, “Howler”, but I wasn’t at all aware that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine printed genre fiction which is where it appeared first though y’all corrected me when I ran this Birthday note first several years back. 
  • Born July 31, 1955 Daniel M. Kimmel, 66. His essays on classic genre films were being published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction from 2005–2010 and are now in the Space and Time magazine. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association.
  • Born July 31, 1956 Michael Biehn, 65. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He was also The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run. Though not even genre adjacent, he was Johnny Ringo in the magnitude Tombstone film. Likewise he was in The Magnificent Seven series as Chris Larabee.
  • Born July 31, 1959 Kim Newman, 62. Though best known for his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88,  a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten. He’s also a prolific genre writer and his first published novel, The Night Mayor, sounds very intriguing. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1962 Wesley Snipes, 59. The first actor to be Blade in the Blade film franchise where I thought he made the perfect Blade. (There’s a new Blade actor though they name escapes right now.) I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man. And he was Aman in Gallowwalkers, a Western horror film that is really, really bad. How bad? It gets an eleven percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born July 31, 1976 John Joseph Adams, 45. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West which he did. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed and Fantasy magazines since the early part of the previous decade.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Alley Oop isn’t ready for this cosmic discovery.

(11) HAMILTON DROPS OUT OF THE TREES. Netflix dropped a trailer for the animated movie Vivo. Arrives August 6.

A one-of-kind kinkajou (voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda), embarks on an unforgettable, musical adventure to deliver a love song to Marta (voiced by Gloria Estefan) on behalf of his owner Andrés (Buena Vista Social Club’s Juan De Marcos).

VIVO is an exhilarating story about gathering your courage, finding family in unlikely friends, and the belief that music can open you to new worlds.

(12) WELL, THAT WAS EXCITING. That new Russian module at the International Space Station got a little rowdy. The maneuvering thrusters fired accidentally, pushing the whole station out of position. The mis-orientation was bad enough that the ISS lost radio communication with ground controllers for about 11 minutes. One thinks that Roscosmos will have some explaining to do. “International Space Station briefly loses control after new Russian module misfires” at CNN.

An unusual and potentially dangerous situation unfolded Thursday at the International Space Station, as the newly-docked Russian Nauka module inadvertently fired its thrusters causing a “tug of war” with the space station and briefly pushing it out of position, according to NASA flight controllers.

Nauka — a long-delayed laboratory module that Russian space agency Roscosmos’ launched to the International Space Station last week — inadvertently fired its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station Thursday morning.

NASA officials declared it a “spacecraft emergency” as the space station experienced a loss of attitude (the angle at which the ISS is supposed to remain oriented) control for nearly one hour, and ground controllers lost communications with the seven astronauts currently aboard the ISS for 11 minutes during the ordeal. A joint investigation between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos is now ongoing.

(13) HE CALLED IT. It always gives John King Tarpinian a warm feeling inside whenever Einstein is proved right. Yahoo! has the latest instance: “Einstein right, again: Researchers see light ‘echo’ around black hole”.

For the first time ever, scientists have seen the light from behind a black hole.

Black holes are regions in space-time where gravity’s pull is so powerful that not even light can escape its grasp. However, while light cannot escape a black hole, its extreme gravity warps space around it, which allows light to “echo,” bending around the back of the object. Thanks to this strange phenomenon, astronomers have, for the first time, observed the light from behind a black hole.

In a new study, researchers, led by Dan Wilkins, an astrophysicist at Stanford University in California, used the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR space telescopes to observe the light from behind a black hole that’s 10 million times more massive than our sun and lies 800 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy I Zwicky 1, according to a statement from ESA.

The light “echo” was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, published in 1916….

(14) STRAY CAT STRUT. Nerdist says we have something to look forward to: “STRAY The Sci-Fi Game About a Stray Cat Debuts Early 2022”.

…In Stray, you play as an injured cat who has been separated from his family. He’s searching for a way back to them through the winding alleys of a decaying “cybercity.” Humanoid robots that lend an air of melancholy to the neon-lit streets are the only residents of this strange city. On his journey, the cat will find and befriend a small drone named B-12. They’ll work together to survive and get back home….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/31/21 So You Want To Be An Orc’n’Scroll Star

  1. First!

    (8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY. did not see Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the Theater as it’s not a film that though charming would be enhanced by being seen on the big screen.

  2. Not to defend Roskosmos too much, but the last time United States did something close to Nauka was Skylab, and it too ran into a lot of trouble. Shuttle carrying US modules up to ISS has given many people a little wrong idea how easy building a space station is. The building of the future Gateway station on halo orbit around the Moon might be a rude awakening to many people now scoffing at Roskosmos’ (many) troubles with Nauka, which in the end is not much more late than the JWST… 😉

  3. About Chuck Tingle… I’m currently a couple hours from the end of my three day jail. I’ve read Fecebook’s “community standards”, and have no idea what this “community” is. Is it the community of self-proclaimed “Christians”, for whom naughty words and nudity are “THINK OF THE CHILDREN”, but violence, hypocrisy, and fascism are fine? Is this the “community” of Former Guy supporters?

    And then there’s the “appeal”, where you are not told what you said invoked the jail, no opportunity to delete it, and NO OPPORTUNITY to defend yourself. In fact, the question is what percentage of appeals are upheld – 50%? 10% 1%? We don’t know, and Zuckerberg’s not telling up.

    It’s a fraud.

  4. @Raimo Kangasniemi
    Yes, building space stations is hard. But mastering “Making sure rockets fire only when they are supposed to” should be on the easy end of the spectrum, one would think. At any rate, it’s important enough that “scoffing” at agencies who don’t have it under control isn’t entirely unwarranted.

  5. I think it was mct about how the Olympic judges who were “handicapping” the gymnast because she was so good she’d make others feel bad, and that they should be stripped naked and hung by their heels. I suspect it was the work “hung”.

  6. @Raimo
    Skylab lost a piece of sunshield and one set of solar panels during boost. They held up launching the astronauts until they had a fix figured out. Different situation entirely.

  7. I now have a plan to meet my potential new dog, next weekend.

    She won’t be coming home with me next weekend, but by the time the visit is over I should know if she will be coming home to me, sometime in the fall.

  8. 3) I’m looking at the membership list of Chicon and not seeing many authors on it. I have great memories of the last Chicon, my first visit to Chicago, and was planning on attending this one. But if my favorite authors aren’t going to go, then there’s not much point.

  9. Ita: I’m looking at the membership list of Chicon and not seeing many authors on it. I have great memories of the last Chicon, my first visit to Chicago, and was planning on attending this one. But if my favorite authors aren’t going to go, then there’s not much point.

    Chicon 8 is more than a year away, and DisCon III doesn’t happen for 4.5 months yet. Most authors are probably trying to figure out if and how they can manage DCIII right now as well as holiday expenses.

    I wouldn’t expect Chicon 8’s membership list to give a reasonable idea of who’s attending until at least next February.

  10. I wouldn’t expect Chicon 8’s membership list to give a reasonable idea of who’s attending until at least next February.

    You’re right, of course. And we could have variants worse that the delta. I was just a wee bit disappointed.

  11. Just to add that for a lot of authors, attending the convention counts as a business expense and they therefore tend not to pay for it until the start of the relevant calendar year.

  12. I also rate The Quorum, though I thought The Night Mayor was pretty good, too. Other works connect to The Quorum Mostly shorts (such as The Original Doctor Shade). but then there’s “choose-your-own-adventure style book Life’s Lottery.

    He’s also got a lot of fun LOEG-like works (although he did it first in Anno Dracula including a take on Sherlock Holmes stories (you might think the main characters are Holmes and Watson at first but no) and stories where The Phantom of the Opera does “Charlie’s Angels”.

  13. Lis, it’s so good to hear that you are looking forward to the future. May it be good to you.

    I was unexpectedly hospitalised at the end of March and it’s salutary realising how much it takes out of you and how long the recovery takes. Please take care for yourself.

  14. Cheesy as the Buffy film was, I will always treasure it for Paul Reuben’s performance, especially the line “Kill him a lot” and his mid-end-credits easter egg.

    Wasn’t this pretty much his first public performance after his arrest?

    I haven’t seen the movie since it was released, but I recall it having been an okay film. Not great, not bad.

  15. Meridith moment: Imago by Octavia Butler (book 3 in the Xenogenesis series) and In the Drift by Michael Swanwick are $1.99 at the usual suspects.

    It’s just a scroll to the left.

  16. bill says of Paul Reubens Wasn’t this pretty much his first public performance after his arrest?

    No, that would have been Batman Returns in which he played Tucker Cobblepot, the father of Oswald Cobblepot. I can’t place him in it but I only watched it once, so I’ve not much of a memory of it.

    (My preferred video Batman is the first animated series. None of the films has done anything for me.)

  17. Cheesy as the Buffy film was, I will always treasure it for Paul Reuben’s performance, especially the line “Kill him a lot” and his mid-end-credits easter egg.

    Same here. He’s the best part of the movie, and that’s not faint praise from me because I think it’s a pretty entertaining B movie. It deserves better from the critics and audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

  18. Andrew (not Werdna) says Interesting. Reubens also played Penguin’s father in Gotham

    Interesting. I watched the pilot for Gotham and wasn’t impressed, so never watched it. My problem, errr, situation is that I always have far more entertainment to be engaged in than I have time.

    Now listening to Charles de Lint’s Someplace to Be Flying

  19. @Cat

    Interesting. I watched the pilot for Gotham and wasn’t impressed, so never watched it. My problem, errr, situation is that I always have far more entertainment to be engaged in than I have time.

    Gotham had its ups and downs, but the stories of Penguin and Riddler were my favorite good parts.

  20. Andrew (not Werdna) says Gotham had its ups and downs, but the stories of Penguin and Riddler were my favorite good parts.

    As I said, the problem was, as always and y’all know this all too well, there’s far too much of interest and not enough time to pay attention to it. I’m just stumbled unto a fascinating series on Paramount+ called The Good Wife which I’ll be watching for awhile. If I’m consuming that, I’m not consuming something else.

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