Pixel Scroll 8/22/21 Ain’t No Mount TBR High Enough

(1) RAY BRADBURY’S 101ST. John King Tarpinian commemorated Ray Bradbury’s birthday, as he does each year, with a visit to the writer’s burial place:

Left Ray some Montag typing paper & a Faber pencil.  Plus a half-bottle of Dandelion Wine & a skate key from the Chicago Roller Skate Company.

(2) CHICAGO HONORS WOLFE. The late Gene Wolfe will be among those inducted to the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on September 19.  As a former Fuller Award honoree he gained automatic induction upon his death. (Via Locus Online.)

(3) THE PLANETS OF SWEDEN. Ingvar livetweeted his latest tour of the inner planets of Sweden’s Solar System model . Ingvar’s thread starts here. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are in Stockholm. The rest of the model is spread across the country.  

(4) AUSSIE NATCON CANCELED. Conflux, the annual Canberra convention which was also designated this year’s Australian national convention, won’t be held due to COVID concerns: “Conflux 2021 Cancelled” reports SFFANZ. See the announcement at the Conflux website.

Conflux is a speculative fiction convention held annually in Canberra. Like many conventions, Conflux in 2020 and 2021 have had to be cancelled due to the global pandemic. 

We will refund all registrations in the coming weeks, and the Rydges Hotel cancellation policy includes a full refund as long as you cancel more than 24 hours in advance.

We are currently working on how we can host the Ditmars and will advise further once we have everything in place for that.

(5) TINGLE PROVES LOVE TO HUGO VOTERS. Camestros Felapton’s autopsy of the 2016 Hugo Awards includes one lively memory — “Debarkle Chapter 58: Hugos and Dragons and Puppies Again”.

…If the impact of the Puppies was more ambiguous in 2016 it was still no less visible. There had been hope that the huge numbers of people who had joined Worldcon and voted against the Puppies in 2015 would translate into overwhelming numbers at the nomination phase. However, without a coordinated slate, a large number of people voting for a wide range of different things will not necessarily out vote a much smaller number voting for a slate. Over four thousand nomination ballots had been cast and of those maybe less than 10% were people following the Rabid Puppy slate[6] but in more popular categories, Day included more “hostages” on his slate and concentrated his more controversial picks on down-ballot categories….

With the Sad Puppies largely absent from the fight and with most of the substantive arguments having already played out in 2015, the 2016 award season was less riven with feuding disputes. There was a degree of pressure on some finalist who had been on the Rabid Puppy slate to withdraw but few did. Included in those who had been asked to withdraw was erotic humorist Chuck Tingle whose short story Space Raptor Butt Invasion had been slated by Vox Day in an attempt to mock the Hugo Awards. Tingle didn’t withdraw but instead turned his attention to mocking Vox Day and rolling the whole process of being nominated into his bizarre metafictional book titles….

(6) STINKERS. Buzzfeed lists “18 Movies That Were Completely Worthless” based on a Reddit thread. Would you like to guess how many are sff? Some of them are hard to classify – like the one below.

We all know that feeling. You finish a movie, and you can’t believe you just wasted two hours of your life that you’ll never get back…

8. The Emoji Movie

“It was a soulless corporate husk of a movie built on ads. Literally, ads the movie. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about the movie. It’s morally, creatively, and ethically bankrupt. I’m actually angry remembering I wasted two hours of my life watching that fucking movie.”

(7) RAIN ON YOUR ALIEN PARADE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post Magazine, Joel Achenbach, who wrote a book (Captured By Aliens) about “the search for extraterrestrial life,” takes a deep dive into the evidence for space aliens and conclude we’re alone in the universe and should work on problems we can solve instead of daydreaming about space aliens. “It’s time to stop UFO mania”.

…I’m wary of returning to that strange universe, because anything I write is guaranteed to be unsatisfying for everyone involved. My strong suspicion is that the number of UFO sightings that involve actual alien beings, from deep space, with the tentacles and the antennae and so on, is zero. I would put the likelihood at 0.0000 and then add some more zeros, before eventually, begrudgingly — because I’m so intellectually flexible — putting in a little 1 out there somewhere to the right, a lonely sentinel, because who knows? (Yes, I’m saying there’s a chance.)

This skeptical take, however, is the boring take. A better story would be that, after all these decades as a skeptic, I’ve converted, because the recent rash of UFO sightings has persuaded me that these are, in actual fact, spaceships from somewhere else in the universe, or perhaps from the future, and could even be future humans, such as grad students getting their PhDs in paleoanthropology. Much better story.

Science journalists regularly disappoint people by refusing to confirm really cool things like UFOs, past-life recall, astral projection, telekinesis, clairvoyance and so on. When I wrote my aliens book I made a disastrous marketing mistake by not including any aliens in the story, focusing instead on people who believe in aliens. Thus it was a major disappointment for readers who bought a copy after finding it in the “Occult” section at Barnes & Noble….

(8) ELLISON ON THE AIR. J. Michael Straczynski has made available, in a now-unlocked Patreon post, a recording of one of the Harlan Ellison-hosted episodes of Hour 25 aired in 1986 by LA radio station KPFK.

Meanwhile, here’s an exclusive treat for Patrons who are/were fans of Harlan Ellison: his HOUR 25 interview with best-selling horror author Clive Barker.  (Harlan copyrighted the shows he hosted under the Kilimanjaro Corporation and I don’t believe this has been heard anywhere since its initial airing.)  It’s vastly entertaining, educational for writers, and very funny in places.  This is the broadcast exactly as it went out on at 10 p.m PST, August 30th, 1986, with roughly 90 minutes of the most engaging conversation you’re apt to hear this month.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2001 – On this day twenty years ago, the Legend series ended its very brief run on UPN. A sort of steampunk Western, it was developed by Michael Piller, who is best known for his contributions to the Star Trek franchise, and  Bill Dail who is responsible for Sliders. It really had only two primary characters in the form of Ernest Pratt / Nicodemus Legend as played by Richard Dean Anderson and Janos Bartok as played by John de Lancie. It would run for the briefest of times as I noted, just twelve episodes before being cancelled. Every critic compared it to The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., some favorably and some not. The New York Post critic called it “a gorgeous amalgam of science fiction and old-fashioned Western”.  It, like so many short run series, has no Rotten Tomatoes rating. Nor does it exist on any of the streaming services. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 22, 1907 Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek. It must be decades since I’ve seen that episode but I still remember liking it a lot, silly though it be. It’s kind of the ancestor to the holodeck, isn’t it? McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born August 22, 1919 Douglas W F Mayer. A British fan who was editor for  three issues of Amateur Science Stories published by the Science Fiction Association of Leeds, England. He was thereby the publisher of Arthur C. Clarke’s very first short story, “Travel by Wire”, which appeared in the second issue in December 1937. He would later edit the Tomorrow fanzine which would be nominated for the 1939 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo. (Died 1976.)
  • Born August 22, 1920 Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite work by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit, with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to works by him. Though he won no Hugos as his best work predated them, he’s won six Retro Hugos for a best novel, two best short stories, twice for fan writer and one for best fanzine. The Martian Chronicles film was nominated for a Hugo at Denvention Two, the year The Empire Strikes Back won; Something Wicked This Way Comes would go up against the Return of The Jedi which won at L.A. Con II. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 22, 1925 Honor Blackman. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”. Genre adjacent, she was in the film of Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary as Rita Vandemeyer. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 22, 1931 Douglas Cramer. He produced twenty-four episodes of the original Trek, and he was Executive Producer of Wonder Woman. His only writing credit was for The Cat People. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 22, 1945 David Chase, 76. He’s here today mainly because he wrote nine episodes including the “Kolchak: Demon and the Mummy” telefilm of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. He also wrote the screenplay for The Grave of The Vampire, and one for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Enough Rope fur Two”, which he also directed. And yes, he wrote many of the scripts for Northern Exposure which is at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born August 22, 1955 Will Shetterly, 66. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, which were both nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature , and his sort of biographical Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing as you’ll spot Minnesota fans in it. Emma as the Elf Queen is definitely something to behold! 
  • Born August 22, 1963 Tori Amos, 58. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams, and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman series is based on her. 

(11) TAKING THE LID OFF. The table of contents has been revealed for What One Wouldn’t Do: An Anthology on the Lengths One Might Go edited by Scott J. Moses. Comes out October 5.

With dark fiction from J.A.W. McCarthy, Avra Margariti, Marisca Pichette, Stephanie Ellis, Christina Wilder, Donna Lynch, Katie Young, Scott J. Moses, Angela Sylvaine, tom reed, Cheri Kamei, Shane Douglas Keene, J.V. Gachs, Tim McGregor, Emma E. Murray, Nick Younker, Jennifer Crow, Joanna Koch, Lex Vranick, Laurel Hightower, Eric Raglin, Eric LaRocca, Daniel Barnett, Bob Johnson, Simone le Roux, Hailey Piper, Bryson Richard, Jena Brown, and Christi Nogle.

(12) NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S ANIMATRONICS. The New York Times wants to know, “Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots?”

Not an imitation Groot conjured with video or those clunky virtual reality goggles. The Walt Disney Company’s secretive research and development division, Imagineering, had promised a walking, talking, emoting Groot, as if the arboreal “Avengers” character had jumped off the screen and was living among us.

But first I had to find him. GPS had guided me to a warehouse on a dead-end street in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb. The place seemed deserted. As soon as I parked, however, a man warily appeared from behind a jacaranda tree. Yes, I had an appointment. No, I was not hiding any recording devices. He made a phone call, and I was escorted into the warehouse through an unmarked door behind a dumpster.

In the back near a black curtain a little wrinkled hand waved hello.

It was Groot.

He was about three feet tall and ambled toward me with wide eyes, as if he had discovered a mysterious new life form. He looked me up and down and introduced himself….

…The development of Groot — code-named Project Kiwi — is the latest example. He is a prototype for a small-scale, free-roaming robotic actor that can take on the role of any similarly sized Disney character. In other words, Disney does not want a one-off. It wants a technology platform for a new class of animatronics….

(13) AS THE STEM IS BENT. NASA entices scholars with a loaded webpage: “Launch Back to School With NASA: Student and Educator Resources for the 2021-2022 School Year”.

As students across the country are saying goodbye to the summer and the new school year is kicking off, NASA is gearing up to engage students in exciting activities and thought-provoking challenges throughout the year ahead. The agency offers many resources to inspire the next generation of explorers, and help educators and students stay involved in its missions.

“Back-to-school season is a really exciting time for NASA. It represents the beginning of a new year of opportunities to connect with students, and the families and teachers who support them,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer this variety of activities and options for students from K-12 to the collegiate level, whether they’re returning to a brick-and-mortar school or a virtual classroom at home.”

Below, NASA has prepared a long list of mission-related resources and opportunities for students, educators, and families to utilize during the 2021-2022 school year. Follow NASA STEM on Twitter and Facebook social media channels using the hashtags #BacktoSchool and #NASASTEM for additional content and updates….

(14) CELEBRATE LANDSAT. At another page, “NASA Invites You to Create Landsat-Inspired Arts and Crafts”.

Share Your Earth-Inspired Art – For 50 years, Landsat satellites have collected images of Earth from space. On Sept. 16, Landsat 9 is scheduled to launch and continue this legacy. Crafters of all ages are invited to share Landsat-inspired art creations.

How?

  1. Search the Landsat Image Gallery for an image that inspires you.
  2. Get crafting! This can be anything from watercolor paintings to knitted accessories to a tile mosaic – whatever sparks your creativity.
  3. Share your creation with us on social media using the hashtag #LandsatCraft

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In 2018, Jay Leno’s Garage did a demo of Jay driving Doc Brown’s DeLorean.

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

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/22/21 Ain’t No Mount TBR High Enough

  1. First!

    (1) RAY BRADBURY’S 101ST. I’ll be re-reading Something Wicked This Way Comes this Autumn as I so often do as it’s one of my favorite novels. The Suck Fairy has gotten nowhere near it.

  2. FIRST

    (2) “My pen halts, though I do not. Reader, you will walk no more with me. It is time we both take up our lives.”
    —Gene Wolfe, Citadel of the Autarch

  3. (9) There was another short-lived steampunk Western called QED with Sam Waterston- with Legend, Brisco, and Wild Wild West, that makes an oddly popular subgenre.

  4. Andrew (not Werdna) says There was another short-lived steampunk Western called QED with Sam Waterston- with Legend, Brisco, and Wild Wild West, that makes an oddly popular subgenre.

    Huh. I’m seeing that it was a Victorian England set, not a Western according to Wiki. Still sounds fascinating. And I see it only lasted six episodes.

  5. (5) TINGLE PROVES LOVE TO HUGO VOTERS.

    LOVE IS REAL!

    (Honestly, watching Vox’s nomination of Chuck Tingle backfire so spectacularly was delicious. A silver lining from the whole debacle.)

  6. 12) Didn’t Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom havr a subplot involving the animatronic robots there? I read it so long ago that I admit that I might be misremembering that bit.

  7. 6) The problem with these sort of lists is they are never long enough. For instance, Inspector Gadget and The Flying Claw aren’t on that list.

  8. (10) TORI AMOS – The artistic interactions between her and Neil Gaiman are countless. One of my favorites is his short story included in the tour book for her Scarlet’s Walk tour. There’s also an off-page cameo by Tori from the Books of Magic spin-off comic (not the original quartet penned by Gaiman, but the long-running Vertigo title) which is very touching.

  9. Browsed thru the SPSFC Cover Contest images. Can’t say I’m a fan of the simple 1-10 rating system. Designing (and judging) book covers is rather more complicated and complex than that.

    I’m reminded of the monthly Cover Design Awards the late Joel Friedlander ran on his The Book Designer site. There, Joel (and/or a guest judge) would comment on some of the entries, and readers could share their own input in the comments.

    Generally, the quality of self-published book covers has improved greatly over the last decade. I attribute this to more and more self-publishers realizing that paying a professional cover designer (tho’ there are quite a few “cover designers” of, let us say, nominal expertise who tend to plug stock images into a template, with minimal manipulation to blend the elements into something more than merely acceptable) (but there are also standout designers like Damon Za, who regularly produces excellent and striking cover designs) is a good investment.

    Overall, the SPSFC covers look pretty good. Very few that I actually cringed at. Some are kinda tired set-pieces that have appeared on many covers before. (A spaceship! In space! And a planet too!) A few had art I thought could have used another polish. Several where the typography didn’t work well. But there were a good number I really liked, and thought worked well.

  10. Bruce Arthurs: Browsed thru the SPSFC Cover Contest images. Can’t say I’m a fan of the simple 1-10 rating system.

    I tried to rate them and was told I had to “sign in”. I understand that the SPSFC is trying to reduce spam voting, but no, I won’t be giving them my information.

  11. In re 3), the Jupiter representation is a light fixture in a hotel at Arlanda Airport. Which is awkwardly hard to get to and from (quickly) with public transport, if you’re doing the planets in order. Best route I am aware of from Mars to Jupiter is “catch the tube back to Stockholm, catch a commuter train that stops at Arlanda, pay the 100 SEK airport extra fee, then pay it again to go back”.

    In total, that would probably have added about 2-3 hours to the tour, and what with needing to catch a train home, I did NOT want to take that risk.

    The Sweden Solar System web site has all the info that you need.

  12. There’s a significantly smaller solar system model running for ten miles south of York. Should I document that? It’s about ten miles, an easy enough cycle ride.

  13. @ NickPheas:

    I would hesitantly say “yes”. One of the reasons I’ve visited this one multiple times is that solar system models are inherently cool. But, then, I have also visited Ytterby Gruva for its significance in chemical history (it’s about an hour on the bus, each way, from central Stockholm, then maybe 15-20 minutes’ walk from the closest bus stop, and you’ll have to change buses in the middle of nowhere, which was both kinda cool and kinda “eh, what happens now?”), so I am not entirely sure I am a reliable measure for what constitutes a good way to spend time.

    FWIW, the one time I visited Ytterby Gruva was in the time window between “plane landed in Stockholm” and “ferry left for Helsinki” as I was making my way to WorldCon 75 in Helsinki.

  14. JJ on August 22, 2021 at 11:04 pm said:

    I tried to rate them and was told I had to “sign in

    You can vote as guest without creating an account. It will ask for a name, but the name can be anything.

    Have to agree with Bruce, covers have come a long way. When I look at a cover, I’m looking for more than just a cool image. I’m interested in the overall design, how well the elements were picked to work together, the fonts chosen, and if it illuminates anything about the story, genre, etc. Many of these are indeed excellent, but quite a few are also “nice images but tired old cover tropes.” But there’s some really creative stuff going on in there, worth your time to look and vote.

  15. “And if there is a way to find you, I will find you,
    but will you find me if Neil makes me a tree?”
    — Tori Amos, “Horses”

    This cryptic-seeming line is a reference to Stardust where…Neil made her a tree. (Exactly what it says on the tin.) Some of you may even remember the tree, even if you didn’t know it was based on a real person.

  16. @Cat:

    Huh. I’m seeing that it was a Victorian England set, not a Western according to Wiki. Still sounds fascinating. And I see it only lasted six episodes.

    Thats me, confusing QED with Legend, apparently. Sorry.

  17. 12) You’ve got to listen to me! Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.

  18. Andrew (not Werdna) says Thats me, confusing QED with Legend, apparently. Sorry.

    It was a nice idea. And QED itself does sound fascinating, all six episodes that it lasted.

  19. @Cat Eldridge

    I don’t remember sentient animatronic robots in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but there’s a Howard Waldrop story (Heirs of the Perisphere) that has them coping with a post-apocalyptic world, and might be what you’re thinking of?

  20. Sophie Jane says to me I don’t remember sentient animatronic robots in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but there’s a Howard Waldrop story (Heirs of the Perisphere) that has them coping with a post-apocalyptic world, and might be what you’re thinking of?

    Could be. A lot of fiction just blurs together after awhile. So remembering just where I read a certain storyline isn’t always clear. Tens of thousands of stories down the decades so far…

  21. I read a story in the 1980s (in Amazing Stories, I think) about animatronic robots that become sentient. Trying to find the title, but ISFDB is timing out on me.

  22. NickPheas: Would you want to take pictures and do a post about that one? Sounds interesting.

  23. @ Mike Glyer:

    Mostly went to (and from, as it were) Mars on a tube train. Although, indeed, getting from Mars to Jupiter would definitely start with going by tube.

    I also went from Mercury to Venus by tube. Sun to Mercury was a mix of tube and tram, as there was a delay on the tube line. Maybe I shoudl have included more of the travel? Ah, well, maybe another year.

  24. Stephen Gallagher’s “The Boy Who Talked to the Animals” from F&SF February 1985

  25. NickPheas: Would you want to take pictures and do a post about that one? Sounds interesting.

    I’ll get something done in the next couple of days.

  26. It was a nice idea. And QED itself does sound fascinating, all six episodes that it lasted.

    I thought it was fun. I dig out the recordings I have of the series every decade or so and watch them again.

  27. “Where are the Velvets / when you’re coming down”
    -Tori Amos, Hotel, referencing Neverwhere

    I think there’s a Neil Gaiman or related reference in pretty much every album, at varying lengths and with varying subtlety. In the title track on The Beekeeper, Death sings the chorus in the title track.

    “‘Do you know who I am?’ she said,
    ‘I’m the one who taps you on the shoulder
    When it’s your time. Don’t be afraid, I
    Promise that she will wake
    Tomorrow, somewhere.'”

  28. Well, hell, Gaiman could have been thinking of VU when he invented the characters of the Velvets for Neverwhere – as they certainly were Underground, or at the very least in London Below, and, if I recall correctly, heading even further under/below at the time we meet them. (Not being a huge fan of VU myself, I never thought of that connection.)

    It has been way too long since my last Neverwhere reread.

  29. So, did he make the Dandelion Wine himself or has somebody begun to make it commercially. If so, I would happily buy it and if it is good would continue to do so.

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