Pixel Scroll 9/27/21 A Pixel Scroll Title That Turns Out To Have Been Used Before

(1) B5. Variety reports J. Michael Straczynski is working on bringing back his keynote show: “’Babylon 5′ Reboot in Development at The CW From Original Creator”.

… Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski is onboard to write the project. He will also executive producer under his Studio JMS banner. Warner Bros. Television, which produced the original series, will produce the reboot.

The new iteration of the sci-fi series is described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot.” In the series, John Sheridan, an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.

Which all makes sense of Straczynski’s cryptic tweet of two weeks ago.

(2) LDV NEWS. Today Straczynski also tweeted a brief update about the status of Last Dangerous Visions.

(3) TWO TO TANGO. James Davis Nicoll is there “When Authors Collide: Five SFF Works of Collaborative Fiction” at Tor.com.

The writing of prose is often depicted as a solitary activity, an occupation suited to hermits sealed into poorly lit garrets, sliding their manuscripts out under their front door, receiving flat food under the same door. Now this can be a perfectly functional approach to writing…but it is not the only one…..

(4) READERCON. The Readercon committee announced the next con will be in 2023. Rose Fox will be interim con chair leading their “year of renovation.” Readercon 32 Moved to July 13–16, 2023.

There will be no Readercon in 2022. But don’t panic! We’re not going anywhere! We just need some time to recharge and get our house in order.

The last two years have been a doozy for everyone. We all need some rest. And Readercon as an organization needs an opportunity to revamp back-end processes, update and streamline old systems, and recruit new volunteers to fill key positions. Just as you can’t fix your car’s brakes while you’re driving, we can’t make all those changes at the same time as putting on a convention. So after much behind-the-scenes discussion, we’re officially taking 2022 as a Renovation Year!…

(5) CORFLU. The convention for fanzine fans, Corflu 39 Pangloss, still aspires to run on its March 18-20, 2022 date – and toward that end has published Progress Report #1 with all the info about venue, membership, and who’s on the committee.

We live in parlous times. There is great confusion under heaven, and the conditions are excellent.  Which is to say, thanks to border closures, travel restrictions, economic wobbles, and ongoing pandemic uncertainty, much of what we can tell you about Corflu 39 is aspirational, provisional, or pending better data with the unfolding of future events.  But we step out in hope, and choose to be optimistic that all our Corflu wishes will come true.  Thus, Corflu Pangloss….

(6) CITY PICKS BUTLER BOOK. The city of South Pasadena (CA) has voted its One City One Story book for 2021 – Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. The South Pasadena Public Library will hold an in-person discussion on October 21 and a Zoom discussion on November 10 – register at the links.

One City One Story is the South Pasadena Public Library’s Citywide Reading Program. Community voting took place for a title from September 1-10. The winning book, Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, was announced on September 27. We encourage South Pasadenans to read it to engage with this year’s theme, “Navigating Nature”. Dive even deeper with community discussions and themed programs.

(7) BANKS TV ADAPTATION PLANNED. Producer Matthew James Wilkinson (Yesterday) is teaming up with Poldark and Endeavour exec producer Tom Mullens on a TV adaptation of The Business by Iain Banks – Deadline has the story: “’Poldark’ & ‘Yesterday’ Producers Team For Iain Banks Adaptation”.

The Business follows Kate Telman, a working-class Glaswegian who has risen through the ranks to become a senior executive in a secretive super-corporation, known only as The Business. Telman discovers that The Business is planning to buy a small country in order to secure a seat on the UN and that, despite the benevolent image and democratic structure it presents to the world, the company will stop at nothing to increase its influence. So begins a dangerous personal reckoning as Telman travels the globe from Scotland to the Swiss Alps, the American Midwest, Pakistan and the Himalayas, determined to uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the shady company she works for.

…Mullens and Wilkinson said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to adapt Iain Banks’ wickedly satirical The Business for television. As relevant today as when it was first published, we look forward to honouring Iain’s work with a powerful, entertaining thriller.”

(8) THE EFFECTS THAT WON THE AWARDS. This ILM look at season 2 of The Mandalorian dropped last week: “The Emmy-Winning Special Visual Effects Of The Mandalorian: Season 2”.

Join Visual Effects Supervisor, Richard Bluff, as he shares a peek behind the curtain of the effects of The Mandalorian: Season 2, winner of 7 Emmy® Awards including Special Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Prosthetic Makeup, Stunt Coordination, Stunt Performance, and Music Composition. For its sophomore outing, Lucasfilm’s hit Disney+ series built upon the groundbreaking technical and artistic achievements accomplished during season one, combining traditional methodologies, with ever-advancing new technologies. The team also increased the physical size of the ILM StageCraft LED Volume which would again be used for over half of all scenes. This season also marked the debut of ILM’s state-of-the-art real-time cinema render engine called, Helios. The high-resolution, high-fidelity engine was used for all final pixel rendering displayed on the LED screens and offers unmatched performance for the types of complex scenes prevalent in today’s episodic and feature film production. Practical creature effects have been a vital part of the aesthetic and charm of the Star Wars universe since 1977, and for season two, the effects team realized over 100 puppeteered creatures, droids, and animatronic masks, which included the beloved Tatooine Bantha, realized as a ten foot-high puppeteered rideable creature. Practical miniatures and motion control photography were used once again for scale model ships, as well as miniature set extensions built for use in ILM’s StageCraft LED volume. Stop motion animation was also utilized for the Scrap Walker at the Karthon Chop Fields. The greater krayt dragon on Tatooine was realized as a six-hundred-foot computer-generated creature that would swim shark-like through the sand environment by way of a liquefaction effect, wherein the sand would behave like water.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago this evening on CBS, My Living Doll, a SF comedy, first aired. Another production of the Desilu Studios, My Living Doll was rather unusual in that it was purchased by the network without any pilot at the request of CBS’s president, due to the success of Chertok’s previous series, My Favorite Martian. The series starred Bob Cummings as Dr. Bob McDonald, a psychiatrist who is given care of Rhoda Miller, an android who was played by Julie Newmar who would later be Catwoman on Batman. Unlike My Favorite Martian which ran three seasons and over a hundred episodes, it would last a single season of twenty six episodes. It is available on DVD but not on streaming services. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 27, 1927 — Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one for the Buck Rogers franchise as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels. The Six Million Dollar Man film was nominated for a Hugo at Discon II which Woody Allen’s Sleeper won, and Marooned was nominated at Heicon ’70 when TV Coverage of Apollo XI was chosen for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 27, 1932 — Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd as he appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion.” I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd too. He also had one-offs on I-SpyMunstersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but cannot be confirmed that he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
  • Born September 27, 1934 — Wilford Brimley. His first genre role was as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cocoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. (Died 2020.)
  • Born September 27, 1947 — Meat Loaf, 74. He has a rather tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the CryptThe Outer LimitsMonstersMasters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars. I think one of his songs, particularly the video version, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” qualifies as genre. 
  • Born September 27, 1956 — Sheila Williams, 65. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction, the past fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor at Renovation and Chicon 7. (She’s nominated this year again.) With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s RobotsIsaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing.
  • Born September 27, 1966 — David Bishop, 55. In Nineties, he edited the UK Judge Dredd Megazine (1991–2002) and 2000 AD (1995–2000). He wrote a number of Dredd, Warhammer and Who novels including the Who novel Who Killed Kennedy which is a popular Third Doctor story.  He’s written Big Finish stories in the DreddSarah Jane and Who lines. Dredd audio drams. Huh.
  • Born September 27, 1970 — Tamara Taylor, 51. Best remembered I’d say as Camille Saroyan in Bones which is at least genre adjacent being connect to Sleepy Hollow. Genre wise, she was in season seven of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the primary antagonist, Sibyl. She also appeared in Lost, as the former girlfriend of Michael and mother of Walt, Susan Lloyd. And she has a brief appearance in the Serenity film just listed as Teacher.

(11) TONY AWARDS. The American Theater Wing presented its Tony Awards over the weekend. A Christmas Carol won five of them.  “Tony Awards: The Full List Of Winners”.

(12) DUCK! There’s four days left to bid on the original “Duck with a Pearl Earring” by Omar Rayyan, offered by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver with all proceeds going to benefit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bidding was up to $16,351 last I looked.

This is an original oil on paper painting, commissioned by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The painting was entered in the 2021 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, in which the winning entry is turned into a duck stamp and sold to raise funds for conserving the nation’s wetlands and other wildlife habitats. It is a take on a classic painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring. But there is one significant difference between the two works of art: ours is good, because it is a duck.

Shockingly this masterpiece did not win, but you can still help conserve habitats for birds and other wildlife in our National Wildlife Refuge System by bidding on the painting here.

(13) START AGAIN. “New Limits Give Chinese Video Gamers Whiplash” reports the New York Times.

China’s video game industry is booming. But it sure doesn’t feel that way to Stone Shi, a game designer in China.

Mr. Shi, 27, got his first job in 2018, when Beijing temporarily suspended approval of new games. The next year, the government placed new limits on minors’ playing time. A few weeks ago, the rules got stricter still. People under 18 can now play just three hours a week, during prescribed times on weekends.

“We never hear any good news about the gaming industry,” Mr. Shi said. “We have this joke, ‘Each time this happens, people say it’s doomsday for the video game industry.’ So we say, ‘Every day is doomsday.’”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Mr. Shi remains employed and hundreds of millions of Chinese continue to play games each day. Minors still find ways around government blocks. Chinese tech companies, like Tencent, are cornerstones of the global gaming industry. The country has also been quick to embrace competitive gaming, building e-sports stadiums and enabling college students to major in the topic.

(14) MUSH-A-BOOM. Jaya Saxena takes the opening of the Ratatouille ride at Walt Disney World on October 1 as the excuse for a culinary experiment: “Disney Made Me Do It: The Lightning Mushroom From ‘Ratatouille’” at Eater.

…Remy is, of course, an animated talking rat, and this is a movie that presumes, among other things, that a human body is an elaborate marionette operated by hair. I know the lightning cheese mushroom is not realistic. But it looked so enticing, like a crunchy balloon, or like if Eleven Madison Park made a Cheeto. I would very much like to taste an exploded mushroom. So to that end, I nearly set my house on fire.

…There aren’t many recipes for applying lightning to mushrooms, but some people have tried to approximate what this might taste like. My first attempt at distilling the flavor of a storm came from Disney itself, which published a recipe for “Lightning-y Mushrooms” adapted from Fiction-Food Café. Already I saw a problem, though: This recipe calls for fresh, spreadable chevre, which is whipped with herbs and honey and stuffed into mushroom caps. But in the film, Remy is enthralled to find not fresh chevre, but Tomme de Chevre, a semisoft cheese with a grey rind that’s been aged for at least seven weeks. I opted to follow in Remy’s footsteps, and ad-lib where I could.

…I decided I needed to employ some actual electricity. But short of sticking a mushroomed fork in a socket and hoping I didn’t die, I had no idea what to do. So I called Chris Young, co-author of Modernist Cuisine, hoping he had come across something like this in his experiments.

Young explained what I was trying to do is called ohmic cooking, which is actually quite common, especially in the dairy industry. Picture how a power cord plugged into a wall tends to heat up. That’s because it’s a conductor for the electricity, and because a wire is not a perfect conductor, the resistance begins to generate heat. The same thing can happen with food when you essentially make the food the wire…. 

(15) ACRONYMS. Brought to you by Harvard.edu, “Dumb Or Overly Forced Astronomical Acronyms Site (or DOOFAAS)”. This is the kind of thing we’re talking about:

SMIRFSSub Millimeter InfraRed Fiber-feed System (or something)
SMOGSpitzer Mapping of the Outer Galaxy
SMUDGESSystematic Multiwavelength Unbiased catalog of Dwarf Galaxies and Evolution of Structure 

(16) TRAILER TIME. Netflix dropped a trailer for its animated series Arcane.

From the creators of League of Legends comes a new animated series, Arcane. Set in the utopian region of Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun, the story follows the origins of two iconic League champions-and the power that will tear them apart.

And while I’m not that wowed by the trailer for Muppets Haunted Mansion people keep sending me the link, so what do I know?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Marc Criley, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, Jerry Kaufman, Bill Burns, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

40 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/27/21 A Pixel Scroll Title That Turns Out To Have Been Used Before

  1. Admittedly, you could tighten up the 5 year arc, and maybe do 5 years of 12 episodes of Babylon 5. It would not be the original but the original still exists.

    “The new iteration of the sci-fi series is described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot.” In the series, John Sheridan, an Earthforce officer…”

    And I see that poor Commander Sinclair is excised from that description.

  2. 15
    Aww, come on! Taking away tortured acronyms from astronomers would be akin to taking away macabre puns from mystery titles, or barberous wordplay from hair salons.

  3. I’d be a damn sight happier if JMS had decided to continue the story instead of rebooting the existing narrative. He certainly could have done that.

    Now listening to Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World

  4. (9) “It is available on DVD but not on streaming services.”

    A quick search shows that My Living Doll is available on Tubi, a free ad-supported streaming service owned by Fox Corporation. I’ve watched quite a lot of stuff on Tubi. They have a good assortment of obscure genre content.

  5. Dennis Howard says of The Living Doll that A quick search shows that My Living Doll is available on Tubi, a free ad-supported streaming service owned by Fox Corporation. I’ve watched quite a lot of stuff on Tubi. They have a good assortment of obscure genre content.

    Thanks, I missed looking on that service as I do not have that app installed on my iPad. I’ll have to check it out sometime. Is it ad free?

  6. The Gone-Away World blew me away back in the day. I hope you enjoy it.

    I am settling down to read Powers Bewilderment.

  7. Cat, Tubi has ads.

    BTW I did the search using the search function on my Roku, which basically searches across all (or at least a lot of) streaming services.

  8. Brown Robin says The Gone-Away World blew me away back in the day. I hope you enjoy it.

    Ive had it in my To Be Listened queue for quite sometime now. I’m expecting to be a fantastic listen as the narrator, Kirby Heyborne, is quite amazing.

  9. I saw my new apartment today when I signed all the leasing paperwork. It’s substantially bigger than one I have so I’ll have room there for both a comfy large couch and a dining room table which I do not have here. It’s got three closets as opposed to a rather small one here.

    I move on Saturday. Yea!

  10. I thought I’d report in on my book giveaway. I got about 2/3 of the boxes mailed before my eye surgery. Now that I have temporary glasses and have been cleared to drive, I have been going to the post office again. Almost all boxes are now out, and the last few will go this week.

    Two people, Jack Rosenstein and Martin Wooster, never sent me addresses. If you want your boxes, send your address to
    smith1339 (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. Every year, I buy four of the Best American anthologies: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, The Best American Mystery and Suspense, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and The Best American Travel Writing. (Some years I also buy The Best American Short Stories or The Best American Essays, if that year’s editor is someone whose books I would buy anyway, but not too often.)

    I rarely finish these books, and I have dozens of them with bookmarks in them somewhere. I decided to finish three of them, and pulled three at random: Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, Short Stories 2005, and Travel Writing 2015. (Two from the same year was just a coincidence.)

    The sf volume , edited by Joe Hill, was very good. My particular favorite was “Windows” by Susan Palwick, a character study of a woman whose daughter had gone on a long deep space mission. I also loved Nathan Ballingrud’s “Skullpocket,” and enjoyed stories by Carmen Maria Machado, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and many others.

    But the short story volume, edited by Michael Chabon, blew me away. This didn’t even have a bookmark in it; I’d never started it. There was one story I didn’t like, two or so I thought were okay, and all the rest were way up in my estimation. Sff writers included Kelly Link, Cory Doctorow, and Tim Pratt. (Carol Emshwiller had two listed in the “other distinguished stories” pages but didn’t make the cut.) if I had to choose a favorite, it might be “Justice Shiva Ram Murthy” by Rishi Reddi, about an elderly Indian man trying to navigate the America he had recently moved to, but there are so many here that I loved. It’s one of the most satisfying anthologies of any type that I’ve ever read. I am so happy I finally got into it.

    I’m about halfway through the travel book, and that’s been as good as usual. The new ones come out in a couple weeks, so that means four go into that stack to replace the three that came out. The never ending battle.

  12. 1) I’d be more enthusiastic if it were HBO or Amazon or Apple doing this rather than the CW. I have horrified imaginings of everyone being a gorgeous young person.

  13. I listened to Banks’ THE BUSINESS on audiobook some years back. (It was on DVDs from the library, so probably sometime in this century’s first decade, before I was able to switch to downloaded audiobooks.) Enjoyed it, and it’s somewhat genre-adjacent, since “The Business” has been wheeling and dealing for thousands of years. (They owned the Roman Empire for about a month around the first century A.D.) The audiobook also made me a fan of Barbara Rosenblatt’s narration skills. (She’s also narrated the Amelia Peabody series and other books.)

  14. Bruce Arthurs:

    I don’t listen to audiobooks, but if I did I’d be reluctant to listen to Barbara Rosenblatt. No aspersions on her talents, but my initial exposure to her was such a negative.

    At a Malice Domestic, probably in the 90s, the con brought her in to do “film clips” at their award ceremony. As each nominee was announced, Rosenblatt read an excerpt from it. An interesting idea. Alas, whoever selected the excerpts chose very lengthy bits, five minutes or more from each book or story in multiple categories. We listened to Barbara Rosenblatt read to us for a loooong time. I was near a deaf fan who had a sign language interpreter with her, and that worthy’s fingers flew giving her charge all the text that was being read — until the fan just looked at her in dismay and signaled for her to stop. There was no such relief for the rest of us.

  15. 13: What doesn’t usually get mentioned in these ‘China bans video games’ things is that by and large the things that are restricted are those free-to-play things that are fine tuned to create and exploit a gambling addiction.

  16. Meredith moment: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven which was nominated for a Hugo at for the first L.A. Con is available from the usual suspects for just a buck ninety nine.

  17. Paul Weimer says Congrats Cat!

    Thanks. Right now, I’m living in a mass of boxes and not much else. The flat even overlooks the ocean which is really nice as both of the very large windows look that way.

    Now listening to Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair

  18. @Bruce Arthurs: I was just thinking of The Business the other day. I read it a couple of years ago and liked it quite a bit; the one executive who has an idea for a brilliant science fiction story that he doesn’t realize will cause an international incident has always stuck in my mind

  19. I notice the Variety article about B5 mentions its two Hugo awards in passing and without explanation — the writer expects his audience to simply know what the Hugo is. Truly we are living in the future!

  20. 1) The CW is … a choice. On the plus side, they regularly renew shows that … aren’t great. For example, there were at least two seasons of Arrow that were pure garbage, and that show lasted for eight seasons!
    One of those two seasons, BTW, was S1. The other was … S4, I think. Might have been S5.
    But the CW’s reluctance to cancel shows means that we’re more likely to get something approximating the full story. Even if B5 will need to be tweaked to be a High School about Pretty or Popular People Problems.

    9) According to Just Watch, My Living Doll is on Tubi and Hoopla for free (although they may be ad-supported). It’s also available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video and in the Google Play Store. I followed the link on Just Watch to confirm, and it is on Amazon Prime Video ($16.99 for the season in the US).
    Note that many of the links from Just Watch are affiliate links.

  21. Eric R Franklin says According to Just Watch, My Living Doll is on Tubi and Hoopla for free (although they may be ad-supported). It’s also available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video and in the Google Play Store. I followed the link on Just Watch to confirm, and it is on Amazon Prime Video ($16.99 for the season in the US).
    Note that many of the links from Just Watch are affiliate links.

    Ok I’m impressed that it’s availed that widely.

    So who’s actually watched it? I never saw it, so have no idea how it worked either as science fiction or as comedy. Admittedly I’m not the greatest fan of SF comedies.

  22. Cat Eldridge:

    Ok I’m impressed that it’s availed that widely.

    I’m constantly amazed by what pops up when you know to look for it – and what still remains tantalizingly out-of-reach.
    For example, I’d love to see Max Headroom streaming. Or Misfits of Science.

  23. Eric R Franklin says I’m constantly amazed by what pops up when you know to look for it – and what still remains tantalizingly out-of-reach.
    For example, I’d love to see Max Headroom streaming. Or Misfits of Science.

    Yeah it surprises Max Headroom isn’t streaming anywhere, nor can it be purchased on iTunes for that matter. I still think it one of the most best SF series ever done. I was surprised it never got nominated for any Hugo Awards.

  24. Cat, I remember watching a few episodes of My Living Doll back when I was around 12. As I recall, it was… okay. Beyond the robot-babe gimmick, a pretty standard sitcom, just one using a science-fictional gimmick.

    Not as good as, say, My Favorite Martian, another show where the premise was that an odd person’s actual origin and abilities had to remain secret.

  25. If JMS is going to do a reboot, then my hope is that we will get the full grand vision that he had for Babylon 5 in the first place. That show cemented him in my pantheon as one of the gods of TV writing. His later work, such as (the again unfinished) Sense8 gave me to understand that he might very well be The Best writer of SF for television that we have.

    When I try to find the Country Western network nothing turns up, but I guess I just don’t available myself of the write acronymns.

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