Pixel Scroll 8/27/21 A Very Merry And Pippin Unbirthday To You

(1) WHERE THE BOOKS ARE. Claire North has written an open love letter to libraries in “Dear Library”.

…Hey Barbican Library, I know it’s a bit unusual, but I really love how you can stand on the edge of Crime and Thrillers and look down into the halls below, so often full of jazz and dancing; or pop downstairs to the music library that remains one of the best in the city and just lose yourself in history and sound. The Barbican was built as a social experiment – the result is a glorious maze of unhelpful painted yellow lines and mysterious corridors twisting back to unknown places. It divides travellers into two types: those who know every nook and cranny, and can find three different routes to the library’s door, and those who avoid the Barbican like the plague, knowing it to be a geographical trap from which no one can emerge unscathed. I love the Barbican, and for me the library has always been, and will always be its heart.…

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman asks listeners to bite into a Baltimore camel burger with Michael R. Underwood in episode 152 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Michael R. Underwood

This episode you’ll be traveling with me to the Baltimore neighborhood of Fells Point, where we’ll take a seat at a picnic table outside The Abbey Burger Bistro with writer Michael R. Underwood.

Michael’s the author of more than twelve books, including the Ree Reyes urban fantasy series (GeekomancyCelebromancyAttack the Geek, and Hexomancy), Born to the Blade (an epic fantasy serial with former guest of the show Malka Older, Cassandra Khaw, and Marie Brennan), as well as Shield and CrocusThe Younger Gods, and the Genrenauts novella series, which was a finalist for a r/Fantasy Stabby Award. He has also been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fancast with the Skiffy & Fanty Show. And his geek cred goes way back, for he tells me he was taken to see Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi in theaters at the age of one, though his memories are murky.

We discussed how his tango past impacts his writing of action scenes, his early love for Star Wars and Spider-Man, how reading Joseph Campbell ignited his desire to write fiction, what he learned about publishing as a kid and how that affected his career expectations, the lessons the late Graham Joyce taught him about the best way to revise novels, the balance you must keep in mind when inserting Easter eggs into your stories, how he constructed his Genrenauts universe and why he returned to it after a long absence, the importance of found family, his advice for successful collaborations, and much more.

(3) THRU THE HEAVY METAL GATEWAY. A fun article by Michael Gonzalez, packed with personal details, at CrimeReads: “A Personal Journey Through the World of Alternative Comics in 1970s New York City”.

…Certainly, Heavy Metal was an introduction for many comic book fans to a world beyond Marvel and DC, but it also served as a gateway to the many alternative publications I bought a few months later at the Creation Convention in my hometown of New York City. Held over Thanksgiving weekend, I bypassed Hulk and Batman, and instead bought various underground comixs (Air Pirates, Zap) fanzines (Infinity, RBCC) and art books (Ariel: the Book of Fantasy, The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta). It was also at that con that I discovered the self-proclaimed “ground level” comic Star*Reach. A California-based publication that began publishing in 1974….

(4) VALUE OF JEOPARDY! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in a column about the “Significance of ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mike Richards Resignation” for The Hollywood Reporter, “argues that the media focus on Mike Richards’ insensitive comments misses a deeper issue with the host search that ‘suggests the problem may not be just a bad branch, but a rotten root.’”

…Though Alex Trebek may have started hosting the show with the background of just another placid game show host, he evolved with the show and became the kindly face of the part of America that venerates knowledge. That’s why choosing the right host to replace him is about more than simple entertainment values, it’s about respecting what the show represents to American culture. It’s about acknowledging Jeopardy!’s significance as an enriching leader in promoting the joys and benefits of education.

This is especially important considering the assault against intelligence and critical thinking the country has faced in recent years. The introduction of the scientific method in the 17th century lifted humanity out of the fetid and superstitious Dark Ages into the bright and vibrant Age of Enlightenment. The simple idea that we objectively gather verifiable evidence before reaching conclusions is the infrastructure of our civilization, both in our scientific achievements and social advancements. It’s the basis of our legal code and our moral code….

(5) A REALLY BIG PATCH. Secret Los Angeles trumpets that “Tickets To Haunt O’ Ween’s 150,000-Square-Foot Halloween Playground Are Now On Sale!”

“Haunt O’ Ween LA” is wasting no time in resurrecting pre-covid traditions with a dazzling 150,000-square-foot Halloween wonderland this October. This 31-day walk-thru adventure features large-scale multi-sensory scenes, new haunting characters, pumpkin-picking with carving stations, trick-or-treating and a glowing Jack-O-Lantern tunnel.

Your journey into this haunted (but family-friendly) haven begins on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, from October 1 and will run through October 31. Get your tickets here before they vanish and the FOMO haunts you forever!

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1993 – Twenty-eight years ago on this date, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. premiered on FOX. Created by Jeffrey Boam who wrote the screenplays for Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeInnerspace and The Lost Boys, and Carlton Cuse who’d later be best known for the Lost series, but at this point had only done Crime Story. It was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that got this series greenlit at Fox. Cuse served as show runner and head writer. Boam, who served as executive producer, also contributed scripts for the show. It was a weird Western unlike any other Western. It starred Bruce Campbell, Julius Carry, John Astin, Kelly Rutherford and Christian Clemenson.  Though the critics loved and it did very well initially in the ratings, it quickly dropped off, so FOX cancelled it after the one season run of twenty-seven episodes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 27, 1922 Frank Kelly Freas. I’ve no idea where I first encountered his unique style on a cover of a SF book, but I quickly spotted it everywhere. He had a fifty-year run on Astounding Science Fiction from the early Fifties and through its change to the Analog name — amazing! There doesn’t appear to a decent updated portfolio of his work as the last one, Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction, was done in the Seventies. He won ten Hugos for Best Artist or Best Professional Artist. (Died 2005.)
  • Born August 27, 1929 Ira Levin. Author of Rosemary’s BabyThe Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. All of which became films with The Stepford Wives being made twice as well having three television sequels which is overkill I’d say. I’ve seen the first Stepford Wives film but not the latter version. Rosemary’s Baby would also be made into a two-part, four-hour miniseries. He got a Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 27, 1945 Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. The only short stories of his that I’m familiar with are the ones in the Wild Cards anthologies. He won two Nebulas, both for short stories, “Stone” and “giANTS”.  (The latter was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon Two.) Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 27, 1947 Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 74. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me.  (A Roger Moore Bond film.) One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also in. It’s where they first hooked up. She was in The Unseen, a horror film, with Stephen Furst. She retired from acting in 1986. 
  • Born August 27, 1952 Darrell Schweitzer, 69. Writer, editor, and critic.  For his writing, I’d recommend Awaiting Strange Gods: Weird and Lovecraftian Fictions and Tom O’Bedlam’s Night Out and Other Strange ExcursionsThe Robert E. Howard Reader he did is quite excellent as is The Thomas Ligotti Reader. He did a Neil Gaiman reader as well.
  • Born August 27, 1957 Richard Kadrey, 64. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and The Everything Box. I’ve got The Grand Dark on my interested in listening to list. He just concluded the Sandman Slim series with the King Bullet novel. 
  • Born August 27, 1962 Dean Devlin, 59. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a web site. The team then produced Independence Day, the rather awful Godzilla reboot and Independence Day: Resurgence. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted just thirteen episodes, and The Triangle.
  • Born August 27, 1978 Suranne Jones, 43. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa in “Mona Lisa”. Yes that Mona Lisa. More importantly, she’s in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She’s Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS. She’s Eve Caleighs in The Secret of Crickley Hall series, an adaption of the James Herbert novel.

(8) MYTHBUSTERS PROP AUCTION FUNDRAISER. Adam Savage talks about how he is honoring Grant Imahara’s memory. “’MythBusters’ alum Adam Savage talks death of Grant Imahara” at Yahoo!

…It’s been more than a year since former MythBusters host Grant Imahara died suddenly of a brain aneurysm, and Adam Savage, who worked with him on the phenomenally popular Discovery Channel show still misses him deeply. 

“Like everybody else, I was gut-punched by Grant’s passing last year,” Savage tells Yahoo Entertainment. “It felt like almost too much in the face of all the other existential crises that were going on. But those of us that were lucky enough to know Grant knew him as a lovely man of honor, who wanted to share his knowledge with everybody.”

To that end, the team behind the show about testing whether certain events could actually happen in real life is auctioning off the props used during its 15-year run, from 2003 to 2018, now through Sept. 1 in an online event hosted by Prop Store. Proceeds from the sale of all the items, including different versions of Buster, the test dummy who stood in for humans in dangerous stunts, and blueprints of many of the creations, will go directly to the Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation, whose mission is to inspire emerging talent and empower underserved youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math education by offering mentorships, grants and scholarships….

(9) I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, MR EINSTEIN. “Hubble Captures a Stunning ‘Einstein Ring’ Magnifying The Depths of The Universe” at Science Alert.

Gravity is the weird, mysterious glue that binds the Universe together, but that’s not the limit of its charms. We can also leverage the way it warps space-time to see distant objects that would be otherwise much more difficult to make out.

This is called gravitational lensing, an effect predicted by Einstein, and it’s beautifully illustrated in a new release from the Hubble Space Telescope….

(10) SPECIAL DELIVERY. E. E. Knight knows there’s a long way to go and a short time to get there.

(11) GUILALA LAND: Art by the artist Martha Womersley of the star monster from the 1967 classic The X from Outer Space.

(12) TRAILER PARK. Netflix is bringing Maya and the Three this fall.

In a mythical world, where magic is real and four kingdoms rule, there lives a brave and rebellious warrior princess named Maya. Maya embarks on a thrilling quest to fulfill an ancient prophecy but can she defeat the gods and save humankind?

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

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/27/21 A Very Merry And Pippin Unbirthday To You

  1. First!

    (1) WHERE THE BOOKS ARE. Claire North’s letter is wonderful. What’s your favorite genre piece of fiction that involves a library? I’m fond of the Library in the Sandman series.

  2. Twenty-eight years ago on this date, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. premiered on FOX. Created by Jeffrey Boam who wrote the screenplays for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Innerspace and The Lost Boys, and Carton Cuse who’d later be best known for the Lost series ->Carlton Cuse

    It’s Day 11 of Level 4 lockdown here (New Zealand’s most stringent). We got a case of the Delta variant in the community so the whole country went into lockdown. That initial one case is now 347 but most of those are people passing it to other members of their household. I’m getting used to spending lockdown on my own. Thank goodness for the internet!

    Meanwhile many Reply Guys are openly deriding New Zealand’s COVID response saying that we need to learn to live with COVID. Dudes, I can read and the overwhelmed hospitals in countries taking that approach tells me me that living with it is actually dying with it.. The New Zealand vaccination program was slow to start but is now ramping up (~20% of the population vaccinated) and even under lockdown conditions, the vaccination rate is surpassing the rates of countries like the UK which was able to roll out its vaccinations really quickly.

    I recently binged on “Solos” on Amazon. It’s an anthology of SFnal episodes, each featuring one character/actor, except the last one. It’s very much in keeping with my lockdown mood of being human, being on your own. Highly recommended.

  3. There was a time when I went to the Barbican often enough to know my way around it…. I was also reminded of the despairing walkie-talkie exchange in Edge of Darkness, during a chase sequence through the Barbican complex…

    “I’m on the roof!”
    “Follow the signs marked ‘Exit’.”
    “I did! I’m on the roof!”

    It really is that sort of place.

  4. (6) Brisco County was the start of my “If I like it, it will be cancelled” streak.

  5. An RN with MaineHealth, our largest health care system, wrote a letter to the local paper explaining that she had to resign her job because she was being forced to be vaccinated by MaineHealth for Covid-19. She’s with a group called Mainers against Medical Mandates. (Google is a wonderful thing.) Of the over hundred folk who wrote comments in response, exactly one person supported her.

    (Nurses in this state are required to be vaccinated for quite a few other things. Failure to do so is grounds for termination.)

  6. The dog whom I semi-patiently await, Cider, who recently gave birth to three puppies, has adopted four more. They are Lowchens. Their birth mother was doing an epically bad job–she immediately began stepping on them. One died, another is badly injured and at the vet, and Cider adopted the other four.

    Apparently, Lowchens are noted for being bad mothers. 50% of them will crush at least one in the litter. Which, I’m told, is why they’re on the path to extinction.

  7. @Lis,
    Cider is doing good work!

    @PJ Evans,
    Thanks! It’s hard being in lockdown but I’d much rather we take this community based approach than everyone for themselves.

  8. (1) I remember visiting the Museum of the City of London back during the London Docklands Worldcon. I think that is in the Barbican area. The elevated walkways around there made for a bit of a 3-D maze. I didn’t see the Library, however.

  9. (7) Any list of Ira Levin’s genre novels Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil should also, I believe, include This Perfect Day (1969). When I first read it at age 12, I didn’t care that [spoiler alert] Uni, the central computer for the whole planet, didn’t have a backup (as absurd as that would seem now) and thus could be successfully attacked with explosives.

  10. Modern libraries look like coffee shops, the Salt Lake City main library even has a coffee shop in its atrium. I can sort of see the point, but still prefer the older model of dimly lit rows of stacks crammed with as many books as possible. You never knew what you might find in there…

    The Netflix animated series Hilda has mysterious librarians, some helpful, others decidedly not.

    @gottacook: that’s what happens when computers are so vast and hugely expensive that you can only afford to build one.

  11. @David the Museum is indeed there at the Barbican it was the second time I had visited the Museum, the first time was in the early 90’s on my other trip to London.

    Missed the library, too…

  12. @gottacook Unicomp had a decoy that was a tourist attraction, and whenever terrorists would attack it, the programmers of the real Unicomp would welcome them into the fold and take them to live in luxury at the real deal. Our “hero” opts for destroying the real one once he’s on the inside, crippling travel, logistics and traffic lights, and probably more.

    I was oddly fascinated with that book when I was a kid too, although the Suck Fairy keeps reminding me about the rape-positive scene. Later on when I found Ayn Rand’s Anthem I experienced This Perfect Day-ja-vu.

  13. So has anybody here read A. J. Hackwith’s The Library of the Unwritten A Novel from Hell’s Library? I’ve got it up next on my to be listened to on Audible as it sounds really cool.

  14. @Jim Janney
    The L.A. Central Library converted one of its halls to a cafeteria with several fast-food places, when they got the new “annex” done (six floors of books, plus stacks somewhere). The cafeteria has library-themed walls.

  15. Rich Lynch says What became of Pete’s piece?

    Nothing really. I didn’t list any of the storyline’s here so I didn’t include the actor who played Pete Hutter in the cast credits. Had I done this as a Post, I’d gone into much greater detail.

  16. Regarding This Perfect Day a little further: Many American readers (including my parents) received it as a mainstream (not genre) book club selection in 1970, and probably it was the first dystopian novel many of them had ever read. So it was a significant novel despite its flaws, which perhaps weren’t so obvious then. I even recall it being promoted at the time as a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby (as in, I guess, “this is the world that will follow from the birth of the baby”).

  17. Charon Dunn: Unicomp had a decoy that was a tourist attraction, and whenever terrorists would attack it, the programmers of the real Unicomp would welcome them into the fold and take them to live in luxury at the real deal.

    … because??? How did the author rationalize that? That seems to be a particularly stupid thing to do.

  18. Lis Carey: The dog whom I semi-patiently await, Cider, who recently gave birth to three puppies, has adopted four more.

    Cider seems to be the perfect loving dog for you, and I’m so glad for those puppies. How long does she need to nurture the adoptees? Will this delay her arrival chez Carey?

  19. @JJ–It probably will delay their arrival, because the Lowchen pups are two weeks younger than her own. But it’s in a good cause!

  20. @JJ Because according to the elderly Chinese dude who runs the show, only people with enough gumption to try to destroy Unicomp deserve to program it. Plus he steals their body parts so he can live forever, only his head is OEM. Pretty sure hundreds of years of being the only available senior IT tech for the world’s only computer (which runs everything) has driven him around the bend.

    Levin was definitely a formative genre influence on me but more for his sense of horror in Boys From Brazil, Rosemary’s Baby and Stepford Wives. He’d bury you in comforting banal details while building suspense and then suddenly throw in a spectacular evil plot twist. He also wrote a couple of the very few mysteries I’ve enjoyed, Kiss Before Dying and Deathtrap (a play which also has been consorting with the Suck Fairy).

  21. Frank Kelly Freas…There doesn’t appear to a decent updated portfolio of his work as the last one, Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction, was done in the Seventies.

    Not so. I have FRANK KELLY FREAS: AS HE SEES IT, which was published in 2000. Hardcover portfolio of his work with text by Frank Kelly Freas and Laura Brodian Freas, and an introduction by Tim Powers. Signed by all three too. A lovely book. The cover features the iconic 1953 painting “The Gulf Between” that was later adapted to become the cover for Queen’s album NEWS OF THE WORLD.

  22. Christopher Kovacs says and I’m delighted that he does: Not so. I have FRANK KELLY FREAS: AS HE SEES IT, which was published in 2000. Hardcover portfolio of his work with text by Frank Kelly Freas and Laura Brodian Freas, and an introduction by Tim Powers. Signed by all three too. A lovely book. The cover features the iconic 1953 painting “The Gulf Between” that was later adapted to become the cover for Queen’s album NEWS OF THE WORLD.

    Most excellent. I’ll have to look for a copy of it. Thanks for correcting me.

    Now listening to Elizabeth Bear’s Machine which is definitely worth the third listen.

  23. @ Cat Eldridge:

    I am quite fond of the Library in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series.

  24. Ingvar says I am quite fond of the Library in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series.

    Yeah I’ve read at least three of those novels. Quite entertaining. I need to get back to that series. There’s a young dragon lord in that Universe if I remember correctly.

  25. @ Cat Eldridge:

    There is, indeed, a young dragon lord. Seven books, so far, with an eighth scheduled for later in the year.

  26. Ingvar says There is, indeed, a young dragon lord. Seven books, so far, with an eighth scheduled for later in the year.

    Yeah he was an interesting character. It’s a series worth a Hugo nomination I’d say. Is it on JJ’s list?

  27. Cat Eldridge asks Is it on JJ’s list?

    I though the aswer was “yes”, but also thought I would double-check. And the answer from the double-checking is still “yes”.

  28. Ingvar says I though the aswer was “yes”, but also thought I would double-check. And the answer from the double-checking is still “yes”.

    I discovered post-brain trauma that double checking such assumptions is always a great idea on my part as what I assumed was reality isn’t always so. I went looking once for a novel in my Library I swore that had been released but it turned out was forthcoming instead even though I swore I read it.

  29. @Cat Eldridge-
    I listened to Library of the Unwritten and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would love to read more set in that world.

  30. Avilyn says I listened to Library of the Unwritten and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would love to read more set in that world.

    There’s one more novel out in the series now, The Archive of the Forgotten, and The God of Lost Words is coming out this November. She refers to it as a trilogy on her Twitter feed so it may be the last novel in the series.

  31. As far as libraries go, it’s really hard to beat Pratchett! But Jim C. Hines’s Magic Ex Libris series is pretty entertaining.

  32. From the Book of the New Sun:
    “From time to time, however, a librarian remarks a solitary child, still of tender years, who wanders from the children’s room … and at last deserts it entirely. Such a child eventually discovers, on some low but obscure shelf, The Book of Gold. You have never seen this book, and you will never see it, being past the age at which it is met.”

    “The child, as I said, in time discovers The Book of Gold. Then the librarians come—like vampires, some say, but others say like the fairy godparents at a christening. They speak to the child, and the child joins them. Henceforth he is in the library wherever he may be, and soon his parents know him no more”

    There’s also a library that only Brights can find, in Clifton’s “Star, Bright,” if I remember correctly

  33. @Cat Oooooh, I was unaware of the follow ups! Off to see if Audible has the sequel. Thanks!

  34. Avilyn exclaims Oooooh, I was unaware of the follow ups! Off to see if Audible has the sequel. Thanks!

    It’s there.

    I expect the third story will be going up for pre-order soon as well.

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  36. Thanks for this note about Kelly.
    “As He Sees It” is pretty good (if I say so myself) and published only a few years before his death.
    I just looked at Amazon and Abe Books. Both have copies for sale.
    I’m still working on a Website for him but you can look at it now.

  37. cathy wrote: Meredith moment: Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education is currently $1.99 on amazon US.

    I keep having to set this down while I giggle gently to myself. Does this make me a bad person? I think so.

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