Pixel Scroll 8/7/21 Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Scroll

(1) STAR POWER. Nicholas Whyte puts “Contact, film and book” in perspective at From the Heart of Europe.

Contact won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1997, beating four other films (the first time since 1992 that no TV episode was on the ballot, and only the second time since 1992 that a cinematic film won). The losers were, in order, Men in BlackGattacaThe Fifth Element and Starship Troopers. I have seen Men in Black and Starship Troopers, and I really like them both, but I actually think Contact is better. IMDB users are not as impressed, rating it 13th of the year’s films on one system and 19th on the other, with all the other Hugo finalists ahead of it on the latter ranking and all but one on the former. Top IMDB spot for the year goes, of course, to Oscar-winner Titanic, on both rankings….

(2) NEXT TOLKIEN SEMINAR. The Tolkien Society has announced a call for papers for its third online seminar of the year: “Autumn Seminar: Translating and Illustrating Tolkien” which will be held November 6. (Probably won’t get as much press as the second, “Tolkien and Diversity.”) The event will be free for all. See the full guidelines at the link.

Tolkien’s appeal has led to his fiction and non-fiction being translated into over fifty languages. The art of translation is immensely complex and when discussing the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien himself saw the task as “formidable”, offering his own supportive intervention to achieve a satisfactory result…..

Papers may consider, but are not limited to the following:

  • Translations/illustrations of Tolkien’s fiction/non-fiction
  • The role of the translator/illustrator
  • Translations/illustrations and their context
  • Translations’/illustrations’ reception

(3) PLAYING WITH YOUR HEADLINES. “Fake news video gives taste of what we’ll see in Season 3 of Amazon’s ‘The Boys’”SYFY Wire frames the picture:

Amazon gave us a tease today, however, of what we can expect for the Seven, Vought’s handpicked superheroes that help bolster their corporate image.

The five-minute clip is a newscast from Vought’s own channel, the Vought News Network (VNN for short). In a style that evokes Fox News, the “reporter” provides an update on its parent company’s Seven superheroes.

(4) READING OF THE WILL. Scholastic Corporation CEO M. Richard Robinson Jr., who died in June, had an unexpected heir: “Children’s book publishing tycoon wills $1.2B company to Toronto woman instead of his family” reports National Post.

The unexpected death of the head of the children’s book publishing giant behind Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Clifford the Big Red Dog, produced a surprise ending of his own: He left control of his $1.2 billion company and all his possessions to the company’s chief strategy officer, a Toronto woman he reportedly had a romance with.

That M. Richard (Dick) Robinson Jr. left everything to Iole Lucchese rather than to his former wife, two sons, or his four siblings is causing alarm, family drama and potential high-stakes legal action, which is more than enough for a sequel to any story, according to reporting in The Wall Street Journal.

(5) ORVILLE HAILS HULU. Deadline says the show has finally broken radio silence: “’The Orville’: Hulu Scripted Chief Jordan Helman Gives Update On Seth MacFarlane’s Sci-Fi Drama”.

Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi drama, which moved from Fox to Hulu in 2019 for its third season, was hit by the pandemic disrupting production, meaning fans were in for a pretty long wait after the second season premiered in 2018.

However, Jordan Helman, head of scripted originals at Hulu, has provided an update on progress. He said that he’s seen cuts of the show coming in and is hopeful of a premiere sooner rather than later.

“The past year and a half has been complicated on a variety of levels as it pertains to production,” he told Deadline. “I can’t share a launch date, but we’re really excited about what we’ve seen thus far.”

MacFarlane and Jon Cassar are directing episodes of the third season. Filming initially began in October 2019 but was halted in March 2020 with the arrival of Covid-19 with around half of production completed. Production resumed in December 2020 but was suspended again in January 2021 due to a surge. Filming resumed in February….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1986 – Thirty-five years ago this weekend, Knight Rider ended its four-year, ninety-episode run on NBC. Arguably a more successful talking car series than My Mother the Car was in the Sixties which lasted but a single season, it had as its leads KITT the AI controlled car (voiced uncredited by William Daniels) and David Hasslehoff as Michael Knight. (You can decide which had a more vibrant personality.) This was his first genre role though he’d later play Nick Fury in Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a rather awful version of that character I’d add. It was created by Gary Larson who also responsible for Battlestar GalacticaBattlestar Galactica 1980,  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Caprica,  AutomanMagnum, P.I (which some of you have argued here is genre) and Manimal. Yes, Manimal.  If you watched the series and had the jones for more fiction set in that universe, Larson and co-writer Roger Hill wrote five novels set there. The series somewhat inexplicably holds a ninety-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 7, 1918 Jane Adams. Actress who showed in the Forties Batman and Robin film as Vickie Vale, Girl Reporter. (That’s how she’s created at the time.) Other genre credits were House of DraculaTarzan’s Magic FountainMaster Minds (eat too much sugar and you can see the future) and the Adventures of Superman series. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 7, 1933 Jerry Pournelle. I first encountered not his fiction but his BYTE column for computer users. That said, I did read a lot of his CoDominium Universe though I suspect the Suck Fairy might judge it harshly now. His best work certainly is the one he co-wrote with Larry Niven, The Mote in God’s Eye, which was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon One. Did you know he won a Astounding Award for Best New Writer? Well he did. And he and Niven were joint winners of the Robert A. Heinlein Award from the Baltimore SF Society. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 7, 1944 John Glover, 77. He’s got a wealth of genre roles, so I’m going to be highly selective. (Go ahead and complain.) he was Brice Cummings in the Bill Murray fronted Scrooged, he voiced a great Edward Nygma who was The Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series, in Brimstone, he was both The Devil and The Angel. 
  • Born August 7, 1957 Paul Dini, 64. First he is largely responsible for the existence  of Batman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: The Animated SeriesThe New Batman/Superman AdventuresBatman Beyond, and yes, Duck Dodgers and Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cardigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it.
  • Born August 7, 1960 David Duchovny, 61. Obviously Fox Mulder on X-Files. Now has he done any other genre? Well he was Dr. Ira Kane in Evolution, a comic SF film, and then there’s Denise Bryson, formerly Dennis Bryson, played by him, who’s a transgender DEA agent on the Twin Peaks series. He also voices Ethan Cole in Area 51, a first person video game shooter.
  • Born August 7, 1960 Melissa Scott, 61. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver
  • Born August 7, 1979 Eric Johnson, 42. Scifi’s Flash Gordon on the series of that name that aired from  August 10, 2007 to February 8, 2008. Look I’m used to Flash Gordon series that are nearly a century old so I had no idea no one had been done recently. Anyone see this? I’ll be writing it up as the Anniversary in a few days.
  • Born August 7, 1957 —  Lis Carey, 64. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)

(8) D&D GETS A MUSEUM. “Lake Geneva Dungeons & Dragons-themed museum officially open to the public” – Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva Regional News has the story.

Artifacts and memorabilia related to Dungeons & Dragons are now available for public viewing in the city where the popular roleplaying game was created.

The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, 723 Williams St. in Lake Geneva, officially opened, July 21. The museum features books, games, figurines, magazines, artwork, gaming dice and merchandise related to Dungeons & Dragons.

Jeff Leason, curator, said many Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts have toured the museum since it has been open to the public.

“We had a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, and they said, ‘We can’t believe we walked by and you were open.’ They were so excited,” Leason said. “It’s been wonderful. There hasn’t been anything negative that I’ve heard.”

…Most of the items either were donated by museum staff or former Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) employees. The museum building was TSR’s first commercial location for Dungeons & Dragons.

Leason said one of the more rare items at the museum is a boxset of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, which is worth about $10,000. He said another notable item is a full set of “Strategic Review,” which was an early Dungeons & Dragons publication….

(9) EXPLICATE! EXPLICATE! On Twitter, @Dunemovie challenged people to “Explain Dune in one sentence.” About one-third of the responses took it seriously, for example –

And about two-thirds did not. An example of those —

(10) SELECTED LONG AND SHORT SUBJECTS. Todd Mason, curator of “A night at the movies…”, seeks an audience for his repaired 2014 post, full of (mostly somewhat macabre) cartoons and such wrapped around a double-feature of Night Of The Eagle and The City Of The Dead (and links to “alternate” features Castaway with Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed and Testament Of Orpheus), with Harlan Ellison in-joke references at the headnotes…

(11) A SWING AND A MISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA has announced that Perseverance’s first attempt to gather a rock sample apparently failed. The titanium sample tube was left empty. There are 42 more tubes available to try to find the ultimate answer. “NASA’s Perseverance Team Assessing First Mars Sampling Attempt”.

“While this is not the ‘hole-in-one’ we hoped for, there is always risk with breaking new ground,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “I’m confident we have the right team working this, and we will persevere toward a solution to ensure future success.”

Perseverance’s Sampling and Caching System uses a hollow coring bit and a percussive drill at the end of its 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm to extract samples. Telemetry from the rover indicates that during its first coring attempt, the drill and bit were engaged as planned, and post-coring the sample tube was processed as intended.

“The sampling process is autonomous from beginning to end,” said Jessica Samuels, the surface mission manager for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “One of the steps that occurs after placing a probe into the collection tube is to measure the volume of the sample. The probe did not encounter the expected resistance that would be there if a sample were inside the tube.”

(12) WE’RE NOTHING SPECIAL? MIT Press book offers an excerpt from Wade Roush’s new book Extraterrestrials in “Alien Dreams: The Surprisingly Long History of Speculation About Extraterrestrials”.

… Materialist interpretations of the cosmos eventually began to take the place of mythological ones. But the idea that there might be other beings in the sky has stayed with us, and it found its first protoscientific roots in Greece in the sixth century BCE.

Anaximander, a philosopher who lived in Miletus in modern-day Turkey, contributed one key idea. He was the first to propose that Earth is a body floating in an infinite void, held up by nothing. For someone who lived 2,200 years before Isaac Newton, this was a stunning insight. The philosopher Karl Popper called it “one of the boldest, most revolutionary, and most portentous ideas in the whole history of human thought.” Anaximander also thought Earth was a cylinder with the continents arrayed on one flat end, so he wasn’t right about everything. But he did invent the idea of space, a place with no absolute up or down. And just as important, Anaximander’s system was the first to leave open the possibility that there are other worlds like ours. (Though, to be clear, he may not have believed that these worlds existed elsewhere in space. He may have thought they preceded or would succeed Earth in time or perhaps coexisted in some parallel universe.)…

(13) SHARP POINTY TEETH. The second Venom: Let There Be Carnage trailer has dropped. In theaters this Fall.

Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of MARVEL’s greatest and most complex characters. Directed by Andy Serkis, the film also stars Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson, in the role of the villain Cletus Kasady/Carnage.

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

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/7/21 Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Scroll

  1. I never saw the show, but I’m pretty sure the actor in Knight Rider was named David Hasselhoff, not Hasseldorf.

    I didn’t care for Pournelle’s solo fiction, or any of it that I read, but for me those Byte columns were highly readable, even though I wasn’t very interested in the products he discussed.

  2. (5) Eagerly awaiting The Orville

    (6) I think William Daniels voice acting was a key to Knight Rider’s success.

  3. 7) re: Melissa Scott. I’m fond of her Silence Leigh trilogy, for the innovative star drive, apparently based on alchemy, or something like that.

  4. StephenfromOttawa says I never saw the show, but I’m pretty sure the actor in Knight Rider was named David Hasselhoff, not Hasseldorf.

    You’re right, I did that from memory. I’ll have OGH fix it. Thanks much!

  5. StephenfromOttawa says I didn’t care for Pournelle’s solo fiction, or any of it that I read, but for me those Byte columns were highly readable, even though I wasn’t very interested in the products he discussed.

    I admittedly read his solo fiction so long ago that I don’t remember a lot about it. I know read three or so of his Falkenberg’s Legion series but then I read a lot of fiction every week back in my twenties. It wasn’t really all that discriminating about what I read to be honest.

  6. @StephenfromOttawa: for me those Byte columns were highly readable, even though I wasn’t very interested in the products he discussed

    They were only readable if you weren’t interested in the technology, because he didn’t know much about the technology. I was just a 12-year-old hobbyist kid who had rarely gotten to play with any of this stuff, and even I could tell that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Dave Barry’s summary here is fairly accurate from what I remember: https://imgur.com/zDlBggk

  7. Of Pournelle’s fiction I remember mainly “A Spaceship for the King” in Analog, not well, just the impression it made, a long time ago.

  8. I enjoyed Melissa Scott’s Astreiant (Point) series, and I really enjoyed her novel Finders*, which I wish she’d extend with further stories.

    *Not to be confused with Suzanne Palmer’s also-excellent novel Finders

  9. it had as its leads KITT the AI controlled car (voiced uncredited by William Daniels) and David Hasslehoff as Nick Knight. (You can decide which had a more vibrant personality.)

    Oh, it was definitely KITT. Though Hasselhoff was nice to look at.

    Happy birthday, Lis!

  10. Thanks to all for the birthday wishes!

    I met a dog. The dog who has been previously mentioned, but I am asked now not to use her current name online. Other people have asked for that dog, whom the breeder would rather not have know precisely what happened.

    So, there is now a very good likelihood she will join me in about ten weeks. For now, she is The Dog To Be Renamed Later.

  11. 7) I watched an episode or two of that 2007 Flash Gordon series and remember it being kind of terrible; not least because instead of rocket ships, they used gates to travel between Mongo and Earth. Beyond that, details are blessedly sketchy.

  12. (7) My favorite Melissa Scott novel from the 1990s is Dreaming Metal, which rocks on several levels. But then in 2018 Finders came out. It’s a perfect space opera with great characters, excellent world-building and plotting, and a real sense of wonder. My only complaints are nowhere enough other people are reading it, and where are the sequels.

  13. According to Pournelle’s introduction to Starswarm, he worked on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs as an engineering psychologist, operations research specialist, and system engineer. “We were helping to make the dream come true!”

    He was SFWA president from 1973-74.

  14. I liked much of Jerry’s stuff, both his own and that in collaboration with Niven; Janissaries series was a particular favorite, as were the Falkenburg’s legions stories.

    I first personally encountered him at Iggie in 1978, responding to a radio call that one of the author guests needed assistance at the front desk (actually “Jerry Pournelle is having a meltdown at the front desk”). Dr. Pournelle was quite purple at the time, having learned that the hotel could not find his reservation.

    I sent him off to the bar after assuring him that things would be rectified, his bags taken to his room (and that the responsible parties would be publicly flogged).

    Many years later I used a brief reminder of that incident to cajole a review copy of Escape From Hell out of him, the sequel to Inferno, both of which I enjoyed, though the first volume is superior.

    Jerry was a pip is about all you can really say about the man. And no, I’m not going to explain what that means.

  15. @Joe Best those details stay that way. Cat, I do remember that series….not an unalloyed blessing.

  16. Paul Weimer says Cat, I do remember that series….not an unalloyed blessing.

    A lot of casual fiction goes the way it did in Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love — completely flushed out of my system. I read them, they were mildly interesting and I’ve long forgotten anything about them. The only novel by him that I remember anything about is not surprisingly Mote in God’s Eye. Now The Gripping Hand I’ve read once and quite forgotten… And yes, I know both were co-wrote with Niven.

  17. @Cat Oh I was referring to the Flash Gordon TV series in that comment to Joe. (that you were thinking of doing an anniversary item for soon)

    As far as Pournelle, I did used to like his fiction more…but my taste for him has declined severely over the years. I still do like MOTE, and Footfall, but other novels have not aged so well for me.

    I think I mentioned it here before, but the “What I did on my Summer Vacation” title for my DUFF report is a direct reference to something in THE GRIPPING HAND, since it is ALSO the title of Kevin Renner’s report on his visit to the Mote solar system.

  18. Happy Birthday, Lis!

    On the subject of William Daniels – A few weeks ago I was talking to a younger friend about early 1980s TV which she was a bit too young for, particularly the somewhat gritty dramas that were popular then, like “Hill Street Blues” and “St. Elsewhere” – so of course I mentioned Daniels as the leading doctor from St. Elsewhere. Since she was unfamiliar with that show, I explained that Daniels played John Adams in “1776” – which was too old a reference for her. I mentioned that Daniels was the teacher from “Boy Meets World” (too recent a reference). Finally I said that he was the KITT’s voice on Knight Rider – a reference that was just right.

  19. Happy birthday, Lis Carey, and best wishes for much happiness with the Dog to Be Named Later.

  20. Paul Weimer says Oh I was referring to the Flash Gordon TV series in that comment to Joe. (that you were thinking of doing an anniversary item for soon)

    Oppps. Well I will do an anniversary item on it as it’s the last Flash Gordon series to date save possibly an anniversary series.

    As far as Pournelle, I did used to like his fiction more…but my taste for him has declined severely over the years. I still do like MOTE, and Footfall, but other novels have not aged so well for me.

    Yeah same here. I think it’s more a matter that my tastes have vastly evolved over the decades. He was entertaining than, at least mildly.

  21. @steve davidson, whereas, I was a teenager working the Green Room for a comped badge at Worldcon in 1982… and Pournelle had a melt-down at me, for things out of my control and beyond the scope of my duties. He literally backed me into a corner and yelled at me for ten or fifteen minutes (it felt like an age) about how the convention was disrespecting him because they (gasp) made him CHECK HIS BAG when he entered the Art Show. (Just like everyone else.) He also intimated that he was carrying a firearm (concealed carry was illegal in Chicago at the time). I heard later from other staff at the convention that Pournelle badmouthed everyone and everything about the convention EXCEPT for the Green Room. I can only assume it was because I was too terrified to talk back…

    I was scared to death. I never bought another Pournelle novel again.

    “Pip” is not the word I’d use for him. “Bully” seems more accurate.

    (Larry Niven, by contrast, was a perfect gentleman; when I was sent out for donuts for the Green Room he volunteered to come with me and help me carry them.)

    Cassy

  22. Happy birthday, Lis!

    @StephenfromOttawa: I have vague, fond memories of A Spaceship for the King; I suspect not rereading it is the best way to preserve those. The Kelly Freas cover for the first installment in Analog was also quite memorable.

  23. (6) Michael Knight, not Nick Knight

    (7) Getting yelled at by Jerry Pournelle used to be a rite of passage for new SFWA members. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the last few to experience it.

  24. I read a few Pournelle back in the day, but it was mostly the CoDominium stuff, which I backed into via Mote in God’s Eye, and the first couple Janissaries books. Plus pretty much all of the other collaborations with Niven, which at this point I’m kind of scared to revisit.

  25. I remember listening to Jerry telling stories about his days in school, which were entertaining. (The instructor who liked to whack his desktop with a ruler, so Someone treated the blotter with nitrogen tri-iodide, which goes bang when it’s hit; and the bat that lived in one of those old “cathedral” radios, and which was fed oatmeal, are the two I recall hearing.)
    His hearing was impaired (probably due to too much time in loud places), which was part of why he was so loud.

  26. There’s a new War World book out, by the way in the CoDominion universe by Doug McElwain

  27. Joe H. says I read a few Pournelle back in the day, but it was mostly the CoDominium stuff, which I backed into via Mote in God’s Eye, and the first couple Janissaries books. Plus pretty much all of the other collaborations with Niven, which at this point I’m kind of scared to revisit.

    I’ve never listened to Mote in God’s Eye so I should as it’d be an interesting listening experience. Problem is that my listening queue is long enough as is without adding in books that I’ve already experienced. Though Bear’s two White Space novels did get re-listened to.

  28. As someone who certainly had her share of problems with Jerry Pournelle, I’d like to point out that he mellowed considerably in his later years after surviving brain cancer.
    I respected his toughness dealing with his health and aging issues. I greatly regret not taking the time to tell him so before he died.

    Jerry’s hearing was damaged by artillery barrages during his service in the Korean War.

    The Freas ASF cover for A SPACESHIP FOR THE KING was a portrait of John Campbell.

  29. Andrew (not Werdna) says There’s a new War World book out, by the way in the CoDominion universe by Doug McElwain

    That’d be Andromeda War which frankly is priced outrageously in hardcover at thirty six dollars. That makes no sense for a two hundred and fifty page novel.

  30. Happy birthday, Lis!

    Turns out I have a favorite Melissa Scott that is different from everybody else so far: the SF intrigue/LGBTQ novel Burning Bright. It is so smooth it doesn’t miss a step.

  31. Rob Thornton notes that Turns out I have a favorite Melissa Scott that is different from everybody else so far: the SF intrigue/LGBTQ novel Burning Bright. It is so smooth it doesn’t miss a step.

    Turns out that it is available from the usual suspects for a mere three dollars and ninety nine cents, so I just grabbed a copy. Thanks for the recommendation!

    PS — A lot of her fiction is available from the usual suspects for very reasonable prices.

  32. @Rob Thornton: I haven’t read enough Melissa Scott for it to be very meaningful, but Burning Bright is my favorite by her so far, too. I thought it was absolutely wonderful! And you left out the gaming aspect of it! 😉 It’s a very big book to have so few pages, isn’t it?

  33. Whenever five fans get together, there are at least ten different opinions on which Melissa Scott book is the best. All of them, of course, are correct. And she keeps writing more.

  34. 7) Flash Gordon TV series. Incredibly bad dreck, bearing little resemblance to the Alex Raymond strip, Buster Crabb serials, or the theatrical film from the 80’s. It was to Flash Gordon what David Hasselhoff was to Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury.

  35. Troyce says Flash Gordon TV series. Incredibly bad dreck, bearing little resemblance to the Alex Raymond strip, Buster Crabb serials, or the theatrical film from the 80’s. It was to Flash Gordon what David Hasselhoff was to Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury.

    Yep, I deep dived into the series and found that was indeed true, so it doesn’t get a write-up as we mostly don’t feature bad series or films. The anniversary that day will instead be for the end of the run of Futurama.

  36. I’m pretty sure the last halfway decent attempt at a serious Flash Gordon was the 1979 Saturday morning cartoon series (first season only, please) and/or Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure, the animated theatrical release that used some of the same animation, and which I think is sadly only available as a YouTube upload these days.

    EDIT: I love the 1980 live action Flash Gordon movie unreservedly, but it was anything but serious.

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