Pixel Scroll 8/14/21 WandangerousVisions

(1) VOX DAY MOVES AGAIN. Three days after being shut down by Blogger Vox Day has migrated his blog to a second URL — “voxday.net”. The mirror blog he opened at “milosbookclub.com” was temporary and hasn’t been updated since August 12. 

The new site isn’t accepting comments, a deficiency Vox covered with a blustery attack on a critic at Anonymous Conservative [Internet Archive link] — “Comments Gone, Gammas Hardest Hit” [Internet Archive link]. Here are the first two of his four progressively more remarkable justifications:

…First, I have made it perfectly clear since 2003 that I don’t care about the comments. I permitted them as a courtesy, nothing more.

Second, it is a distinct pleasure to no longer have to spend any time moderating the hundreds of spam and troll and wise and insightful comments. I had no idea how much time I was wasting on it until I suddenly didn’t have to think about it anymore…

(2) CONVERGENCE COVID WARNING. The CONvergence 2021 committee announced on Twitter they received a report that someone who attended the con a week ago on Thursday and Friday has tested positive for COVID-19. Thread starts here.

(3) MIDDLE-EARTH FALLOUT. New Zealand is rocked by Amazon’s decision to move Lord of the Rings production to the UK reports Variety: “New Zealand Reacts to Shame of Losing ‘Lord of the Rings’ Mega-Series”.

…“It’s a shame and I feel for everyone who has put their hearts into this production. Season two was expected to begin later in 2022, so our role now is to work hard to keep the Kiwi screen sector employed,” said David Strong, CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission. He said that the series’ departure “opens the door wider to others to come in” and that the NZFC will continue to work closely with government on assisting these productions to shoot in the country.

New Zealand offers one of the most generous location incentive schemes in the world. This includes a 20% rebate scheme and, for especially large productions that deliver an infrastructure or other long-lasting benefit to the country, there is a discretionary additional subsidy known as an “uplift” equivalent to a further 5% of location spending.

According to government documents published in April this year, Amazon was estimated to be spending about NZ$650 million ($455 million) filming the first season of the show. It would have been eligible for a rebate of about NZ$162 million ($114 million), the government said, though it later reduced that figure.

Amazon’s statement makes it clear that it will walk away from the NZ$33 million ($23.1 million) of uplift that was agreed in April, when the company indicated, but did not commit to, shooting the second season in the country….

(4) UK CLUB REUNITES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] After 17 months the Northumberland Heath SF group had its first meeting. The event, held August 12 at the Heath’s Duchess of Kent in the Beer Garden, took place at the height of the Perseid meteor shower and an observation duly took place.

There was also a free SF/F book giveaway courtesy of a sponsor.

In addition to over a year’s worth of catch-up there was the usual wide-ranging SFnal chat with topics including —

Whether or not regular (the 2nd Thursday of the month) meetings will resume depends on whether CoVID cases reduce. Fingers crossed.

Attached picture of group and the books member’s chose for their free book give-away (courtesy of a group sponsor).

(5) TOON TUNES. SYFY Wire shares the music: “Animaniacs: Watch exclusive lyric videos from Hulu reboot”.

…Both musical numbers come from the reboot premiere and revolve around how much has changed since Animaniacs left the airwaves more than 20 years ago. Presidents and cultural norms may have shifted, but the core creative team behind the iconic property — save for creator Tom Ruegger — has not. Steven Spielberg is still an executive producer, while Yakko, Wakko, and Dot continue to be voiced by the trio of Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, and Tress MacNeille. Maurice LaMarche rounds out the OG crew as the voice of Brain, the megalomaniacal lab mouse who is always trying to take over the world with the dim-witted Pinky (also Paulsen).

(6) STEVE PERRIN (1946-2021). Legendary game designer Steve Perrin died August 13 at the age of 75. Perrin helped create RuneQuest, published in 1978. While working at Chaosium he contributed to Thieves’ World (1981), Worlds of Wonder (1982), and Superworld.

Steve Perrin

George R.R. Martin notified all the Wild Cards writers of Perrin’s death because Superworld was the inspiration for the Wild Cards universe and Perrin just had his first Wild Cards story published in the latest volume, Joker Moon, which came out last month.

Chaosium posted a tribute: “Vale and farewell, Steve Perrin”.

…To sum up all that Steve was to the Chaosium family cannot be typed up in a few sentences. 

He is one of our Great Old Ones. An innovative genius who helped pave the way for us to exist today, delighting gamers while they sit around a table, in person or online, exploring stories and adventures together, weaving new tales of derring-do. RuneQuest and Superworld were his children, and his imprint on so many of our other games is indelibly present.

Many of us grew up playing his games. He was the uncle we admired, envied, and listened to for his wise counsel. In the last few years, as a new edition of RuneQuest was born he was there, his wisdom and experience reminding us of the simple, pure, and wondrous origins of the magic of roleplaying. How can you say thank you for that?…

The other projects he worked on during his career can be seen in his Wikipedia article.

Perrin also was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism in Berkeley in 1966. The SCA is where he met his wife, Luise, who survives him. Unfortunately, Luise is in ill health, and last month Steve opened a GoFundMe to help pay for her care,

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2009 – Twelve years ago, District 9 premiered. It was produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, and directed by Neill Blomkamp in his feature film debut. Written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell. Adapted from Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg short film. It starred Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Vanessa Haywood, Mandla Gaduka, Kenneth Nkosi and David James. Critics including Ebert loved it, the box office for it was fantastic as it earned over two hundred million against a thirty million budget and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent eighty-two percent rating. The screenplay was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 but the Moon screenplay won. Why were the screenplays nominated instead of the films? 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1910 Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. It won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 which she shared with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers. It was awarded after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in the usual suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin, 81. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 71. Setting aside long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB notes a SF link  that deserve noting. The Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association’s clubzine Warp ran his cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor” in the March 1991 issue.
  • Born August 14, 1951 Carl Lumbly, 70. I first encountered him voicing the Martian Manhunter on the Justice League series and he later played M’yrnn J’onzz, the father of the Martian Manhunter on the first Supergirl series.  His first major genre role was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Parker, and he later had a number of voice roles in such films as Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. He of course was the lead in the short lived M.A.N.T.I.S. as Miles Hawkins. 
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 65, Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga 56. Writer, producer and creator for the Next GenVoyagerEnterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes in the Trek franchise than anyone else with one hundred nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo (1995), along with Ronald D. Moore.
  • Born August 14, 1966 Halle Berry, 55. Her first role genre was not as I thought Miss Stone in The Flintstones but a minor role in a forgotten SF series called They Came from Outer Space. This was followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchiseand Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) RUN. Atlanta Magazine did a feature about Rep. John Lewis’s posthumous graphic novel. “The next chapter of John Lewis’s legacy”.

Back in 2013, the debut of a memoir in comic-book form by civil rights figure and longtime Atlanta congressman John Lewis seemed an unlikely format for a legendary activist with gravitas to spare. But Lewis’s March trilogy—co-authored with aide Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell—proved to be a juggernaut, landing on bestseller lists, securing a place on high-school and college curricula, and ultimately earning a National Book Award.

The March trilogy chronicles Lewis’s early life and involvement in the civil rights movement, ending with the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Lewis had planned to continue the work, and before the congressman’s death in July 2020, he and Aydin had drafted the script for the Run series. The first volume of Runpublished in August by Abrams ComicArts, covers the tumultuous events of 1965-1966, including schisms between established civil rights leaders and Black Power activists, the history-making election of Julian Bond to the Georgia Legislature. Just in March, the book does not shy away from unvarnished accounts of history. It opens with a fearsome scene of Klan intimidation and closes with Lewis’s departure from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Today, with political storms swirling around both the issues of expanding voter access and teaching the country’s racist history, Run feels more timely than ever. “The fight that’s happening today is a direct continuation of the fight that began on August 7, 1965, immediately after the signing of the Voting Rights Act,” Aydin said….

(11) REMEMBERING. JJ admires the Dedication from Matt Wallace’s new book, Savage Bounty, released July 20:

(12) REACHING OUT. And I love this title:

(13) SPEAK, MEMORY. MSN.com tells how “AI recreates actor Val Kilmer’s voice that was lost to throat cancer”.

A British artificial intelligence (AI) company has recreated Hollywood actor Val Kilmer’s voice – with amazingly realistic results. 

London-based firm Sonantic used the actor’s voice recordings from throughout his career, which were fed to their AI to create the lifelike yet artificial mock-up.  

Film producers could potentially use the tool – described as ‘Photoshop for voice’ – for voiceovers if they have a role in mind that would be suited to Kilmer’s tones. 

Kilmer, whose career has spanned nearly four decades, has starred in blockbusters such as Top Gun, Willow, The Doors, Tombstone and Batman Forever. 

But after undergoing a tracheotomy in 2014 as part of his treatment for throat cancer, Kilmer’s voice is now barely recognisable. 

Luckily, Kilmer himself is also able to use the AI tool in his personal life, to help him communicate, rather than relying on a voice box to speak.

Somatic, the company that did it, has its own article about “Helping actor Val Kilmer reclaim his voice”. And there’s a video where you can listen to a demonstration of the result:

(14) TROUBLESHOOTING REQUIRED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Boeing is having trouble fixing a valve issue on their Starliner space capsule which was due for an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station. They’re now planning to remove the craft from its booster to continue troubleshooting. This will ground the Boeing program for an indefinite time. The Crew Dragon from SpaceX will continue for now to be the only US spacecraft cleared for crewed trips to the ISS. Ars Technica reports: “Boeing to ground Starliner indefinitely until valve issue solved”.

Boeing said Friday that its Starliner spacecraft will be grounded indefinitely while it continues to investigate problems with the valves in the propulsion system.

In the 10 days since Boeing and NASA scrubbed the launch in Florida, technicians and engineers have sought to open 13 valves that control the flow of dinitrogen tetroxide (NTO) oxidizer through the service module of the spacecraft. There are 24 oxidizer valves in the propulsion system, which is critical both for in-space travel as well as launch emergency escapes.

Boeing has been able to open nine of the valves, said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. The other four remain stuck. As a result, the company plans to de-stack the Starliner spacecraft from its Atlas V rocket and move it to the nearby Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility for deeper troubleshooting…

(15) MARS RETURN TO SENDER. Science details the probe that will be “Searching for life on Mars and its moons”.

Sample-return missions will look for extraterrestrial life and biomarkers on Mars and Phobos

The planned Mars Sample-Return (MSR) mission of NASA and the European Space Agency should reveal more about the habitability of Mars by helping to determine the geologic evolution of Jezero crater and its surrounding areas, which are believed to be the site of an ancient lake… The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will attempt to collect samples that will allow scientists to explore the evolution of Jezero crater and its habitability over time, as well as samples that may contain evidence of biosignatures. A high-priority science objective for MSR returned-sample science is to understand the habitability of Mars and look for potential signs of both extinct and extant life.

(16) TRAILER PARK. Doom Patrol Season 3 begins streaming September 23 on HBO Max.

Go through the looking glass with a super-powered gang of outcasts (including Matt Bomer as Negative Man, Joivan Wade as Cyborg, Brendan Fraser as Robotman, and more). Last seen at a decrepit amusement park where Chief (Timothy Dalton) witnessed his metahuman daughter, Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) engaged in a fiery face-off with “The Candlemaker,” an ancient evil deity who will stop at nothing to fulfill his world-ending destiny, join the #DoomPatrol for an action-packed third season.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Lee Gold, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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.]

71 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/14/21 WandangerousVisions

  1. VD (how I love that he picked a nom de plume with those initials! I guess the “superintelligence” couldn’t think through the obvious jokes implicit in two letters) is right about one thing – turning off comments doesn’t have any significant effect on traffic. Ran two blogs back in the blogging heyday and this was my experience. Also you can comment if you subscribe to his social media site. Since a few more of his “Dread Ilk” will now sign up, this seems like a business move to me more than anything else.

    Here’s my guess – his money is starting to dry up and he’s looking for new revenue streams. He maybe inherited some money, maybe made some decent scratch back in the day as a game designer and writer but now he’s radioactive and no one will work with him. He lives in Europe and that’s expensive. So he needs to monetize his fan base and this is the next step.

  2. But maybe if we focus on people who actually care about science fiction and the Hugos enough to participate, we’ll recognize more innovative and groundbreaking works.

    No, “recognize more works” is directly antithetical to “only recognize creators who buy Worldcon memberships”. You’re shooting yourself in the foot, here.

  3. @Tom Becker–

    It’s true that giving the award only to people who actually care about it would be a change. It would diminish our self-perceived stature as ultimate arbiters of quality.

    I’m not interested in giving Hugos to works Hugo voters don’t consider the best, just because the creators buy a WorldCon membership and the creators of works those voters consider better, didn’t.

    Which, yes, is what you said.

  4. I don’t love the dramatic presentation categories, generally speaking (and speaking of unfortunate acronyms…), given the challenges involved when I want to watch things, and the shortlist is often an odd mix of “whatever the biggest box office/watercooler hits were this year” and “that one wildcard that a small group of fans just absolutely loved”, but they’re high participation categories that a lot of WSFS members enjoy very much, and enjoy the winners of very much, so my mild grouching shouldn’t get in the way of people celebrating their squee.

    A fair few people think the short fiction categories should be cut and since they’re my favourites I have no intention of entertaining the idea any time soon, so I’m not going to expect dramatic presentation fans to care much what I think about their nominations and votes and categories existing.

  5. The good examples from the past are when the studio sent two (2!) people. One should be enough. We’re trying to avoid zero.

    You cannot avoid zero, because purchasing a membership does not actually impose or require participation.

    If someone with zero interest in Worldcon is told “You have to plunk down at least $50 for a supporting membership to have your work win a Hugo award”, they’ll probably say “Eh, seems like a shakedown”. If they’re interested in the possible financial boost of having a Hugo award, they might consider the $50 an investment, but that doesn’t require them to actually have anything else to do with Worldcon.

    Or they’ll ignore the Worldcon as they are predisposed to do, and their fans will be forced to make the purchase for them, an extra hoop to jump through that will piss them off. If the fans fail to make the purchase for whatever reason (jumping through extra hoops may require spoons they don’t have), the work will be disqualified, and the fans will be pissed off.

    So you’re proposing a policy that will not solve the problem you want it to solve, and will probably piss off fans of the works that you seem to want to propose the policy for. You’re shooting yourself in both feet.

  6. I think that’s a terrible proposal. Cause this would not just affect the dramatic presentation categories (and usually, there is someone on site to accept the award, sometimes an actors, sometimes a screenwriter or director and sometimes a studio representative), but also all other categories. Writers and particularly fan creators are often cash strapped plus a lot of people don’t buy an attending membership for a Worldcon they can’t attend for geographical reasons.

    And for dramatic presentation, the creators of that small innovative indie film that you want to win may be the ones who can’t afford a membership. Big Hollywood studios usually can afford a membership for a studio representative.

  7. @P J Evans on August 16, 2021 at 7:59 am said:

    Ah, another person who wants the Hugos run to suit them.

    I proposed the idea because maybe it might make the Hugos better for everyone. You don’t have to agree.

    @Lis Carey on August 16, 2021 at 9:23 am said:

    I’m not interested in giving Hugos to works Hugo voters don’t consider the best, just because the creators buy a WorldCon membership and the creators of works those voters consider better, didn’t.

    Well alright then. You consider the judgment of the Hugo voters more important than finalists participating in the convention. I can’t argue with that. If it came to a vote at the Business Meeting, majority rules, as it should.

    @Cora Buhlert on August 16, 2021 at 12:23 pm said:

    Writers and particularly fan creators are often cash strapped plus a lot of people don’t buy an attending membership for a Worldcon they can’t attend for geographical reasons.

    That is obviously a concern, which is why I said crowdfunding should be encouraged. The point is to increase participation, not reduce it.

  8. Tom Becker: That is obviously a concern, which is why I said crowdfunding should be encouraged. The point is to increase participation, not reduce it.

    In other words, you want to force finalists who can’t afford to pay for an attending membership to beg other people for money, just so they can stay on the ballot. 🙁

    I don’t think such a change would have the effect you claim it would.

  9. @Tom Becker
    It denies awards for no good reason. It also assumes more money in fandom than may actually exist.

  10. Well fine. We should keep raising Worldcon membership rates, and use the money to pay for more goodies for people who aren’t attending and don’t really care. Because fandom doesn’t have the money. Makes total sense.

  11. Tom Becker: Well fine. We should keep raising Worldcon membership rates, and use the money to pay for more goodies for people who aren’t attending and don’t really care. Because fandom doesn’t have the money. Makes total sense.

    Well, that went from 0 to 60 Strawmen Per Hour in less than 10 seconds. 🙄

  12. @Tom Becker

    For me, the point of the Hugos is Worldcon members (and the wider fannish circle, members or not) reading and watching and listening and discussing and celebrating. Whether someone turns up to accept isn’t really all that relevant to me, honestly, although it’s nice if they’re happy and if we get a good speech.

    And it’s, like, two categories. I doubt they’re breaking the bank.

    Sometimes we come up with what we think are neat ideas that other people don’t like very much. It happens. I’m sure you’ve felt similarly about someone else’s proposal to the business meeting at some point, and will feel so again. Don’t take it too personally.

  13. @JJ, that’s not even the first strawman that raised my hackles.

    Conflating “People who choose not to, or can’t afford to, attend Worldcon” with “People who don’t care about the Hugos” struck me as enormously hostile toward, oh, a whole lot of people, like those without much money, those lacking travel flex time, those not in the country where that year’s Worldcon is hosted and who can’t safely travel there for any number of reasons (some needlessly inflicted by the hosting country via local legislation and/or vicious border patrol/”customs” practices), those who simply don’t have the fortune to live within bodies that allow them to travel with ease and without pain… the list goes on. Also sexual harassment and bullying at cons remains a thing, despite recent improvements to codes of conduct, such that the number of fans who will not ever go to a con again because of bad experiences along those lines is still unfortunately non-zero.

    As for limiting which works may receive a Hugo Award to those by creators who have money and can travel–I mean, see again the above list of those more likely to select out. Do you want less diverse Hugos? Because that’s how you get less diverse Hugos.

  14. Not keen on the distinction between supporting and attending memberships either tbh but since I’m against a membership rule in general it seemed a bit extra to bring it up. But, y’know, creating a second class citizen aspect beyond the realities of there/not there is not something I’d be a fan of.

    (Or the idea of requesting massive corporations start buying voting rights – which is what a membership conveys – because, uh, that’s not a road we want to go down if we want the integrity of the award to remain intact.)

    All that being said, I think this might be a case of putting forward a not-well-thought-out idea and then a defensive digging in of heels in the face of criticism. Taking a breath and backing down from some of the more inflammatory aspects of later comments is always an option.

  15. As a historical note, Alice Sheldon won a Hugo in 1974 for “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”, when all that anyone knew was a byline wrapped in a P.O. box. Does anyone happen to know who accepted that? My googling is coming up empty.

  16. Well fine. We should keep raising Worldcon membership rates, and use the money to pay for more goodies for people who aren’t attending and don’t really care. Because fandom doesn’t have the money. Makes total sense.

    Being unable to attend a Worldcon does not equal not caring about the Hugos. There are lots of reasons why a finalist might be unable to attend a Worldcon, e.g. financial issues, health issues, travel issues, family issues, lack of vacation time, etc… Also, in my admittedly limited experience the overwhelming majority of Hugo finalists care very much, even if they are unable to attend for whatever reasons. Even the dramatic presentation finalists do care. The Good Place, much as I dislike that show, send a lovely thank you video featuring two of the stars to Dublin and the producers accepted virtually at CoNZealand. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse had two young ladies from Sony Ireland accepting in Dublin, who were very happy to be at the ceremony. GRRM has usually accepted for Game of Thrones and frequently brought an actor or two along.The Expanse always has someone accepting, whenever they’re nominated.

    As a historical note, Alice Sheldon won a Hugo in 1974 for “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”, when all that anyone knew was a byline wrapped in a P.O. box. Does anyone happen to know who accepted that? My googling is coming up empty.

    Jeffrey Smith might know.

  17. Jim Janney: I was there but my memory isn’t good enough to remember that, and I don’t seem to have written a con report despite the fact that I was publishing a newzine and a big genzine at that time. At Fanac.org I paged through some other newzines that came out after the 1974 Worldcon, and they only report the winners, not who accepted.

  18. I love to see the Big Fan Brain in action!

    Also, thanks for the Hoffman rex, Bruce Arthurs. If I get.around to Hoffman’s westerns, I have a place to start.

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