Pixel Scroll 8/12/18 Let My Pixels Go

(1) NINE WORLDS. London’s Nine Worlds wrapped today, and the leadership has announced plans to move on:

Nine Worlds is beginning a process of reconstitution. This means that the current ownership will be dissolved, and the assets, liabilities and necessary data transferred to a new entity. The purpose of this is to a) ensure that its continued existence is sustainable and rewarding for those involved in it, and b) allow me (Dan) and the other shareholders to step away from the company and our responsibilities to it….

Why is this happening, and why now?

The current organising model is not sustainable for those on the organising side of it. A lot of people gain a lot from the event, but certain roles reliably cause harm to the people performing them or exploit them, and there’s a treadmill effect that leads to organisers carrying on until they burn out and / or do something that can’t be reconciled with continued involvement. I include myself in that: I’ve been working without choice and without pay for over two years now.

Additionally, the mix of cultures and people involved has embedded tensions that may benefit from a more concretely agreed purpose and identity. This has been causing issues from the event’s beginning, and while the intent to create a big platform that still kept high expectations of behaviour and support was positive, I’m not sure that the event will be able to meet a standard that’s acceptable to all those who attend and take part in organising, without being clearer who it’s for, what it stands for, and what people should expect, and letting people choose whether to engage in that knowledge.

And finally, I’ve invested a huge amount of time, money and my heart in Nine Worlds, but I’ve done so as a job, often working all the time for months at a time. My ’employer’ hasn’t paid me in years and imposes working conditions that would be illegal in any volunteering or employment context, and I’ve been wanting to move on for some time.

The reason I’m doing it right now is that I couldn’t do it two years ago, as an attempt to change the organisation in a different way three years ago failed hard, and necessitated an intervening two years of steady steering.

2016 put Nine Worlds Ltd far enough in debt that I couldn’t guarantee the end result of any process to reconstitute. We were reliant on future sales to cover the running cost of the current convention, and failure to transition (or attempting to close down) would result in the business failing and being unable to repay the future event sales to ticket holders.

I now have enough money to cover the shortfall without opening future ticket sales, and the event’s financial position has also improved, so I can start this process without trying to sell tickets for an undetermined event with unknown leadership to cover the gap.

(2) SPIDER TRACKS. Worldcon 76 is running a travel blog about one of the guests of honor — “The Worldcon 76 – Bound Peregrinations of Spider Robinson.” But the first entry sounds pretty disturbing.

Day 1: Victoria to Port Angeles

The trip began with a 4 AM call.

“Steph. I don’t think I’m gonna make it”

The Worldcon 76 Guest of Honour was white as a sheet and barely able to stand. It was my job to get him from Canada to San Jose in one piece and it was looking like the trip was going to be over before it began.

After six hours in the emergency room, we got the all clear and Spider finally got some needed sleep. Luckily so did I.

The spirit of Fandom and SF must have been watching over us, because when he woke up he was his old self and willing to try to make the trip after all. (I on the other hand was about ready to pass out from stress and worry).

(3) MCMOVIE. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story, “‘Mac and Me’ at 30: ‘Ronald McDonald’ remembers his infamous 1988 movie” notes that this is the 30th anniversary of Mac and Me, a cheesy ripoff of E.T. in which Ronald MacDonald teams up with alien “MAC” (or “Mysterious Alien Creature”.)  Squire Fridell, who played Ronald MacDonald at the time, tells stories about the production and wishes that the Razzies had mailed him his award for Worst New Actor.  Paul Rudd has a long-running gag on Conan where he promises an “exclusive new clip” from whatever movie he is promoting and then shows something from Mac and Me.

The trailer turned out to be a bit of a bait-and-switch, and not just because it made the movie look halfway entertaining. While Ronald presents himself as an equal co-star with the titular bug-eyed alien, his actual role in the Stewart Raffill-directed movie is little more than a glorified cameo.


(4) ASK THE PRIMATES. BBC profiles “Primate speech: How some species are ‘wired’ for talk” — since we don’t have soft tissues from our own ancestors, looking at evolution of speech by studying vocalization in existing species.

A new study has compared different primate species’ brains.

It revealed that primates with wider “vocal repertoires” had more of their brain dedicated to controlling their vocal apparatus.

That suggests that our own speaking skills may have evolved as our brains gradually rewired to control that apparatus, rather than purely because we’re smarter than non-human apes.

Humans and other primates have very similar vocal anatomy – in terms of their tongues and larynx. That’s the physical machinery in the throat which allows us to turn air into sound.

So, as lead researcher Dr Jacob Dunn from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge explained, it remains a mystery that only human primates can actually talk.

(5) SOMEHOW STILL HERE. In “Coral reefs ‘weathered dinosaur extinction'”, new studies say that corals go back 160Myrs, not just 60.

Corals may have teamed up with the microscopic algae which live inside them as much as 160 million years ago, according to new research.

The two organisms have a symbiotic relationship, meaning they need each other to survive.

But this partnership was previously thought to have developed about 60 million years ago.

The new findings suggest that reef algae may have weathered significant environmental changes over time.

This includes the mass extinction that wiped out most of the dinosaurs.

Algae’s resilience to temperature changes has been of concern to scientists recently, as warming events on the Great Barrier Reef have seen the coral “bleached” of its algae.

(6) TALK TO THE ANIMALS. How hot was it, Johnny? “Cows allowed to visit Swedish nudist beaches in heatwave”.

The government in southern Sweden have granted permission for cows to visit nudist beaches during the prolonged summer heatwave, despite complaints from locals, it’s reported.

According to The Local news website, nudists have been complaining to officials in provincial Smaland about livestock visiting their beaches, saying that their presence is “unhygienic and could pose a health risk”.

It says the roasting summer heat affecting much of continental Europe has led to drought throughout the country, and has meant that farmers have been struggling to feed their animals.


  • August 12, 1939The Wizard of Oz receives its world premiere in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, on this day.
  • August 12, 1941 – Premiering this day, Dr.  Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Spencer Tracy.
  • August 12, 1943 – Universal’s Phantom of the Opera debuts. At one point in pre-production it was planned for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello to star.


  • Born August 12, 1881. Cecil B. DeMille. Yes he did some genre work as Producer: When Worlds Collide, The Ghost Breaker (a silent horror film now lost) and the 1953 War Of The Worlds which he’s not credited for as Executive Producer.
  • Born August 12 — William Goldman, 87. Writer and / or screenwriter of The Princess Bride, The Stepford WivesMemoirs of an Invisible Man, Dreamcatcher (horror film) and a short video based on The Princess Bride with apparently none of the original cast.
  • Born August 12 — Sam J. Jones, 64. Flash Gordon in the 1980 film of that name, Krebb in the later Flash Gordon series.
  • Born August 12 — Bruce Greenwood, 62. Lead in the Nowhere Man series, the Sleepwalkers series, I, Robot, voice work in animated Class of the Titans series, Christopher Pike in Star Trek and voices Batman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and Young Justice. Not the same Batman mind you
  • Born August 12 — Claudia Christian, 53. Babylon 5 of course, and genre roles also in the possibly forthcoming Space Diner Tales in which the year is 2075 and an alien race is set on conquering Earth, the Upworld detective series complete with a talking gnome, Space Rangers, Relic Hunter and Starhyke, a truly awful sounding series.


(10) NOTCONJOSE II. George R.R. Martin will be there: “Worldcon Time!”

I have cut way down on the number of cons I attend, due to the press of work, but there’s no way I’d miss a worldcon, by any name.   I’ve only missed one in the last thirty years.   Dragoncon and San Diego Comicon and GenCon and many other cons are now much bigger, but worldcon remains the original, and the best, the heart of the fannish community.   Worldcon is like a family reunion.   And yes, like any large family, we have our share of drunken uncles, loony cousins, and snot-nosed kids… but still, family is family.   I’ll be there for the whole con.  I hope to see many of you in SanJose.  Worldcon is great time for getting together with old friends and making new ones.

(11) JUST ONE THING MISSING. Andrea discusses “Nexhuman by Francesco Verso” at Little Red Reviewer.

#sorrynotsorry, I’m going to give you a spoiler right out of the gate:

Nexhuman will offer you enough ideas and discussion topics and thought experiments to keep you busy for the next ten years. In fact, an entire Convention programming track could be built just around the questions and ideas in this book.

What Nexhuman does not offer is concrete answers to any of the questions that are brought up.

(12) FRESH OFF THE 1963 NEWSSTANDS. Galactic Journey’s John Boston finds a little gold-dust among the grit in the new issue of Amazing: “[August 12, 1963] WET BLANKET (the September 1963 Amazing)”.

But the issue opens with Poul Anderson’s Homo Aquaticus, illustrated on the cover by a swimmer with a menacing look and a more menacing trident, next to a nicely-rendered fish, in one of artist Lloyd Birmingham’s better moments.  This is one of Anderson’s atmospheric stories, its mood dominated by Anglo-Saxon monosyllables.  No, not those—I mean fate, guilt, doom, that sort of thing.  The story’s tone is set in the first paragraph, in which the protagonist “thought he heard the distant blowing of a horn.  It would begin low, with a pulse that quickened as the notes waxed, until the snarl broke in a brazen scream and sank sobbing away.”

This is rationalized as the wind in the cliffs, but we know better.  The good (space)ship Golden Flyer and its crew have been sentenced to roam the galactic hinterlands after some of their number betrayed other ships of the Kith, a starfaring culture separated from planetary cultures by relativistic time dilation.  Right now they’re looking at what used to be a colony planet, but all they see is ruins, until their encounter with the colony’s descendants, as given away by the title.  In the end, doom and fate are tempered with rationality and mercy.  Three stars, but towards the top of Anderson’s middling range.

(13) LECKIE LIKES THESE. Ann Leckie recommends three books in “Some things I’ve read recently” beginning with —

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Look, you should just read this. Rivers is nominated for the Campbell (Not a Hugo) this year on the strength of this book. It would have been an entirely worthy Best Novel finalist, quite frankly. I was late to it partly because I have lots of things to read and very little time to do it in, and also because I was aware that it would be a difficult read–as in, full of violence and death and heartbreak. That’s all true. This is a fabulous book.

(14) A CONVERT. Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds says he now understands what the Stephenson hype was about: “Philoso-monks Save Some Worlds: Anathem by Neal Stephenson”.

A few times while reading this book, I tried to explain the basic premise to friends. The best I could do is something like this: weird monks on an alien planet or maybe another dimension talk about philosophy, science, and math. This does not in any way do it justice, of course, but it’s really hard to explain this novel.

Of course, for hard core Stephenson fans, the name on the cover is enough. And for philosophers such as myself, those weird alien philosophical monks are irresistible (which is why this novel made a lot of the lists of philosophers’ picks for best philosophical SF compiled by Eric Schwitzgebel). I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some other lovers of this book who sometimes dream about a life as a monastic entirely dedicated to intellectual pursuits, or who maybe just liked Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Others who might love this: people who love immersive world building and massive tomes that come with with a glossary (no maps here, but there are a few calcas – explanatory appendices for those who need even more nerdish detail).  As I am at least an occasional member of all of the above groups, my love for this book is present in all nearby possible worlds.

(15) SAVED. Much truth in this.

(16) BATWOMAN LEAVES TWITTER. Yahoo! Lifestyle reports “Ruby Rose Apparently Left Twitter Following Harassment over Her “Batwoman” Role”.

Ruby Rose has apparently removed her Twitter account after continued social media harassment that centered on her upcoming role as Batwoman.

As noted by SyFy, the Orange is the New Black star’s absence from Twitter was spotted by fans on August 11. Ruby also appeared to allude to a potential leave of the platform on Friday, August 10, tweeting: “Where on earth did ‘Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can’t be Batwoman’ come from — has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with ‘she’s too gay’ how do y’all flip it like that? I didn’t change.” Her account appears to have been removed soon after the tweet was made.

Ruby’s Instagram remains active, but SyFy reports that she seems to have limited what comments appear. Her last Instagram post was shared on August 10.

(17) DIOP TURNS OFF COMMENTING. Another actress facing toxic social media: “‘Titans’ Star Anna Diop Disables Instagram Comments”ComicBook.com has the story.

The first trailer for Titans brought its cast into the spotlight this week, and it looks like that has had some major effects.

Anna Diop, who is set to play Koriand’r/Starfire on the DC Universe series, recently disabled comments on the vast majority of her Instagram posts. Her Instagram, which you can check out here, features only six photos that have been posted since May 11th. The latest post, where Diop announces that she has a role in Jordan Peele’s Us, is the only one that currently allows comments.

While it’s unknown exactly why Diop essentially cleaned house on her Instagram, some have speculated that it is due to the negative backlash from the first Titans trailer. The trailer, which debuted on Thursday, features several brief glimpses of Starfire using her powers, which have appeared to only continue the racist and sexist remarks surrounding Diop’s casting.

Earlier this year, a series of leaked set photos provided the first look at Diop and her co-stars in costume, which earned backlash for not being “comic accurate”. At the time, Diop actually used Instagram to fire back at the negativity, posting a passionate response to her followers.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In The New York Public Library’s Collections of Weird Objects on Vimeo, The New Yorker shows viewers some weird things that have ended up in the library’s collections, including a paw from one of Charles Dickens’s cats!

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

83 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/12/18 Let My Pixels Go

  1. (8) — I’m inclined to say that DeMille’s Ten Commandments also qualifies as genre, at least as an edge case.

  2. 8) Claudia Christian also does voice acting for video games, Skyrim and Diablo III among others.

    Most recent reads – Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (loved it, looking forward to the sequel), Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire, which was very engaging; currently in the middle of No Man of Woman Born, by Ana Mardoll, which I’m enjoying.

  3. #16 & #17: I really hate the haters. ;-(

    @Rob Thornton & @Mike Glyer: Great Pixel Scroll title! 🙂

    @Anyone: Here’s a XKCD SFF strip for Pern fans (or former fans). (Don’t forget to mouseover for the kicker text; I forget how one sees it on mobile, sorry.) I discovered one of the RSS feeds causing my reader heartache was XKCD and I’ve started catching up . . . slowly! And that’s one of the latest one’s I’ve read, I have like 100 more to go before I’m caught up.

  4. (4) I don’t understand how going to the nude beach will help feed or water the cows. Yes, they might be able to cool off, but they can’t drink the water or eat the sand.

    (15) Good dog.

    Title (regarding also birthdays): have we already done “Let My Pixels Scroll”?

  5. I must admit, I’m sometimes tempted to watch Starhyke, if only to see if it could possibly be as bad as Space Rangers. (Claudia Christian sure knows how to pick ’em – although, to be fair, she was only a guest star in one episode of Space Rangers.)

  6. Joe H. Says I’m inclined to say that DeMille’s Ten Commandments also qualifies as genre, at least as an edge case.

    Good point. I almost included it but decided it wasn’t quite genre unless one declares Christianity itself to be a fantasy.

  7. Steve Wright says I must admit, I’m sometimes tempted to watch Starhyke, if only to see if it could possibly be as bad as Space Rangers. (Claudia Christian sure knows how to pick ’em – although, to be fair, she was only a guest star in one episode of Space Rangers.)

    It liked Space Rangers as it seemed to be fully aware that it was very, very awful. Interestingly there’s a photo I spotted somewhere of her in character for Starhyke and her uniform looked very much like her B5 one…

  8. I would definitely class the Book of Exodus as legend, and a legend with fantastical elements at that. Whether that makes it fantasy or whether it makes Christianity (or Judaism) fantasy are separate issues (I’d go for “Yes” and “No” respectively).

  9. 8) Yes! Claudia Christian was quite memorable as the voice of Morrigan in the first Dragon Age game.

  10. Paul Weimer says Yes! Claudia Christian was quite memorable as the voice of Morrigan in the first Dragon Age game.

    I should note that I don’t put everything In these Birthday notes as that’d make some of them rather long. I do enjoy quite a bit y’all commenting on them!

  11. Point of information – Morrigan was voiced by Claudia Black. Ms. Christian has done a fair amount of voice acting for video games, but not for the Bioware studio as far as I can determine.

  12. @1: I suspect there are other views of this shuffle — but at least the speaker sounds as if he’s trying to act responsibly rather than burn done something that isn’t going his way.

    @Joe H: the question of whether Biblical events, or the modern portrayals of them, are genre is … theological. My first approximation is that genre is acknowledged fiction(*) where most of the Bible is presented as either fact or metaphor, but I don’t spend much time trying to draw general boundaries.
    (*) let’s not talk about Whitley Strieber

    @Lurkertype: The picture shows a small wave, suggesting it was taken on the coast — but the story mentions a municipality (Växjö) that is almost midway between the east and west coasts of southern Sweden, so ISTM that the cows could at least drink while cooling off.

  13. @Cat Eldridge & @ Chip Hitchcock — Yes, I probably wouldn’t regard most Biblical films as genre; to the degree that I might rope in Ten Commandments it’d be specifically for some of the big SPFX scenes (parting of the Red Sea being the major one); as I said, an edge case. (Speaking of which, did anyone else ever take the tram ride at Universal Studios in California that went through the “Red Sea”?)

    Also, by coincidence, I’m currently replaying Dragon Age: Origins for the first time since 2009 or so, and yes, Claudia Black is great as Morrigan.

  14. 17: “Not comic accurate” is, of course, code for “she’s black.” Perhaps the producers should have scoured Hollywood’s tanning salons for a bright orange actress instead?

    Of course, the Titans show looks lousy for many reasons unrelated to casting, and I can only hope it doesn’t damage anyone’s career too badly.

  15. @Jon F. Zeigler: Sad news — I have fond memories of Winter of the World from back in the day.

  16. In all the hundreds of books I’ve read, none has featured cows at the beach. Clearly a lack of imagination.

  17. Jon F. Zeigler on August 13, 2018 at 5:29 am said:
    Point of information – Morrigan was voiced by Claudia Black. Ms. Christian has done a fair amount of voice acting for video games, but not for the Bioware studio as far as I can determine.

    You are right. I AM AN IDIOT.

    Thanks, Jon.

  18. Meredith moment (probably UK only) – Juliet E. McKenna’s new book The Green Man’s Heir is 99p on Kindle UK. I haven’t read it so can’t recommend it as such but I’ve heard good things.

    @Jon F. Zeigler

    Ah, sad news. I have old copies of Winter of the World et al somewhere.

  19. @Shem: They want someone wearing the same spray tan that Trump uses.

    I’ll be honest, though, that not having kept up with the DCUniverse stuff, my first thought on “not comic accurate” was that she’s probably wearing too much costume.

  20. (6) never mind hygiene, I just hope the cows don’t see anything that would curdle their cream.

  21. @ microtherion: I’m quite sure that cows don’t have human hangups about nudity, nor for that matter the belief that they have the absolute right not to be offended by having someone they consider unattractive anywhere in their field of vision.

  22. @bookworm1398: I see you haven’t come across Mary Renault’s “The Bull from the Sea”.

  23. I’d like to pretend that DeMille’s Madam Satan is genre, but the wild costume party on a Zeppelin doesn’t, I think, actually make it so.

  24. @Steve Wright: Don’t watch Starhyke. It was free on Amazon Prime, and so I did, and it was bad. And not in that fun kind of way, either.

    Time I will never get back.

  25. @Lenore Jones: Thanks! I need to commit that to memory so I can link to it in a mobile-friendly way or link both ways or something.

    I dislike special mobile URLs/sites. It’s much better IMHO to use CSS, et al. to make a page work for both (and XKCD is a simple-enough site for that).

    Thanks again!

  26. Two Fifths High and Scrolling Down?

    Whenever I hear Turtles I always assume Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles* these days. Did they ever do music? Seemed like all the cartoon shows I watched as a kid had the main characters singing at some point. You try to explain the Groovy Goolies to kids today and they look at you like you’re crazy.

    * Let me tell you about the time I stopped at the comic shop and the owner said I should look at this new indy comic they just got in, but they were out of it and they weren’t getting copies in from the other shop until next Tuesday and I had to go back to college…

  27. (6) This appears to be a bit of a whispering game going on. It’s the case of a single beach just outside Växjö (which is surrounded by three lakes), where a public (nudist) beach is on private property, and due to the heat and a faulty fence the cows have visited the beach as well. The municipal authorities have asked the owner of the cows to keep the animals under control and repair the fence, but are not demanding actions right now due to the excessive temperatures and dryness.

    It is not a general invasion of bovines on Swedish nudist beaches, amusing though that might be.

  28. @Mike Glyer
    I see in the “Protests at Worldcon76” thread at least 4 of us are not getting our info autofilled. Did one of your updates flip a switch? Like a switch that says “autofill on” or something?
    It’s annoying, especially on mobile.
    Thanks for your help on this.

  29. Did they ever do music?

    There were a couple of singles when the original film was released.

  30. Happy Birthday Sam Jones! Flash Gordon was the greatest artistic achievement the human race has ever produced, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise!

    Except my wife. We’ve simply agreed to disagree. The foundation of every healthy relationship.

  31. Is there a dedicated post for the Filer meetips yet? If not, could we get one? I’m traveling, so it’s a bit hard to keep track of things. Thanks!

  32. Obligatory responses:

    @Karl-Johan Norén: “It is not a general invasion of bovines on Swedish nudist beaches, amusing though that might be.”

    I, for one, welcome our new [ETA: should I say “nude”? “new nude”?] bovine overlords. 😉

    @JJ: The first rule of Filer Meetup is you don’t talk post about Filer Meetup!

    Sorry, all my comments are unoriginal. Possibly because I’m jealous of random nude cows meeting up with Filers on San Jose beaches in Sweden or something.

  33. Mike Scott Rohan’s Run To The Stars was a precursor of the New Space Opera. It remains a favourite book too this day. He was also a decent bloke, I met him a few times at UK fan events. He will be missed.

  34. I’d like to pretend that DeMille’s Madam Satan is genre, but the wild costume party on a Zeppelin doesn’t, I think, actually make it so.

    Surely the escape pods on the Zeppelin are some sort of fantasy element?

    “Madam Satan”, like all great art, makes the viewer ask questions. For me, those questions were “What drugs were they on?” and “Where can I get some?”. It starts out as a staid domestic drama, but 2/3 of the way in Reality decides it’s had enough and leaves.

    De Mille made The Ten Commandments twice – the Heston version is the remake. The original is a silent with two distinct halves: the first part is the biblical 10 Commandments story, the second is a modern piece about a man who decides to break all of them.

    Cows on a Beach: I have some fabric printed with cows wearing beach towels and life preservers. I haven’t the slightest idea what to do with it, but it’s the kind of thing you don’t see every day.

  35. Mike Scott Rohan’s Spiral stories, specifically “The Gates on Noon” hit me in all the feels. A fantasy novel, that uses South East Asia in its setting? Never encountered that before & I was entranced. (Quite a different feel to the Winter of the World series which I also enjoyed.)

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