Pixel Scroll 9/22 Several species of small, furry animals gathered together in a cave and scrolling with a pict

(1) Sasquan GoH and ISS astronaut Kjell Lindgren knows what day it is —

It’s Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday!

(2) But that’s not today’s only important birthday. Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer announced the arrival of their “humble bundle” —

He was born at 8:37 in the morning on September the 16th, which is, I am told, the commonest birthday in the US.  It was a long but rewarding labour. The name on his birth registration is Anthony, but mostly I call him Squeaker. He makes the best noises in the world, mostly squeaks and peeps and snuffles.

Amanda is an amazing mother. I am changing nappies (or diapers, if you are not English) and enjoying it much too much. This is wonderful.

(3) George R.R. Martin has something of his own to celebrate — “A New Record”:

For now, let it suffice to say that the Emmy looks very good in my TV room, and while it IS an honor just to be nominated (as I have been, six times before), it’s even cooler to win.

(4) Today in History:

1986 – The TV show “ALF” debuted on NBC.

2004 – The pilot episode of “Lost” aired.

(5) Run away! Run away! “Burger King’s Halloween Whopper will be its first intentionally frightening burger”:

We’ve seen a lot of scary fast food over the years but now Burger King is reportedly coming out with a new Whopper that’s intentionally frightening. Fast food blog Burger Lad seems to have obtained some leaked pictures of a special Halloween Whopper that will feature pitch-black buns. As you can see in the photo above, this does not look like an appetizing burger — it rather looks as though Burger King has slapped a slab of beef and some vegetables in between two large pieces of charcoal.



(6) I don’t like that grub, but I do like this garb!

(7) I’ve been waiting for this – Steve Davidson’s latest look at “The 1941 Retro Hugo Awards (Part 5 — Dramatic Presentation Short Form)”.

So far as radio plays go, there’s plenty to listen to, though again, many of the originals are simply not archived anywhere accessible.  Superman is an obvious choice;  an episode or two from Lux Radio or Mercury Theater may whet your appetite.  Don’t forget to check out the Blue Beetle too, as well as taking the opportunity to compare the Green Hornet’s radio appearances against the serial show.

(8) The “’Star Trek’ virtual tour will recreate every deck of the Enterprise” comes with a nice 12-minute animation.

You’ve probably seen a few attempts at recreating worlds in game engines, but never at this level of detail. Artist Jason B is working on the Enterprise-D Construction Project, an Unreal Engine-based virtual tour that aims to reproduce all 42 decks in the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. While it’s not quite photorealistic, the attention to detail in this digital starship is already uncanny — the bridge, shuttle bay and other areas feel like lived-in spaces, just waiting for the crew to return. Jason is drawing on as much official material as he can to get things pixel-perfect, and he’s only taking creative liberties in those areas where there’s no canonical content.


(9) Mothership Zeta officially launches in October, but Editor Mur Lafferty, Fiction Editor Sunil Patel, Non-fiction Editor Karen Bovenmyer have posted sample Issue 0 at the website. The magazine will be a quarterly, “crammed with the best, most fun speculative fiction.” Read Issue 0 now, containing work from:

  • Ursula Vernon
  • Rhonda Eikamp
  • John Chu
  • Andrea G. Stewart
  • Elizabeth Hand
  • Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

(Note: “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon originally ran in Apex Magazine in 2014.)

(10) The Star of the Guardians Indiegogo Campaign has raised over $20,000. Thanks to our contributors,we can now fund the conceptual artwork and the illustrated storyboard book. We can also ensure that all of our amazing perks will be delivered to all of our contributors.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $55,000.

Star of the Guardians

(11) Joe Haldeman is interviewed by Brian Merchant in “The Author of Our Best SF Military Novel Explains the Future of War”.

Now, it’s becoming closer to reality—3D printers may soon allow anyone with the right hardware to manufacture deadly weaponry at home. Obscene weapons are increasingly obscenely easy to find. “Once we have that access to abundant materials, and anyone can print out a hydrogen bomb, we’re about an hour away from total destruction,” he says. “We are just a hair’s thread away from a large disaster.” The future of war is distributed, in other words. But we are just as ill-equipped to deal with our violent impulses now as we were four decades ago, Haldeman says.

“I don’t think we’ve learned any fundamental thing about solving the problem. We’ve learned more about why people do seek violent solutions,” he says. “That doesn’t mean we have the social mechanism to address it.” His words resonate, depressingly, when you consider that the US now averages one mass shooting per day, and that the trend is only accelerating upwards.

“We have people who just go down to the K-mart and just buy ammunition, and they could kill a few dozen people before we can do anything,” he says. “[M]ore brute force is available to individuals, with no obvious improvement in the individual’s ability to responsibly apply that force. Or decide not to use it.” War, it seems, has been distributed.

Hence the forever warring, in smaller theaters.

(12) “Hear Radio Dramas of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy & 7 Classic Asimov Stories” at Open Culture.

If you’re thinking that the epic scale of Asimov’s sprawling trilogy—one he explicitly modeled after Edward Gibbon’s multi-volume History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—will prove impossible to realize on the screen, you may be right. On the other hand, Asimov’s prose has lent itself particularly well to an older dramatic medium: the radio play. As we noted in an earlier post on a popular 1973 BBC adaptation of the trilogy, Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card once described the books as “all talk, no action.” This may sound like a disparagement, except, Card went on to say, “Asimov’s talk is action.”

(13) The supermoon lunar eclipse happens this weekend:

The supermoon lunar eclipse of 2015 will occur Sunday, Sept. 27, and is a confluence of three events: a full moon; a lunar eclipse, in which the Earth blocks the sun’s light from hitting the moon; and lunar perigee, when the moon is in the closest part of its orbit to Earth. The last time such a confluence happened was in 1982; there were just five instances of it in the 20th century. This time around, viewers looking from the Americas, Europe, Africa, western Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean will have a chance to see the show.

(14) A new Mars exploration tool — “’Mars Trek’ Is Google Earth for the Red Planet” on Motherboard.

If you are one of the thousands of people who would like to start a new life on Mars, you might want to get an early start on scouting out some premium real estate options. Fortunately, NASA has created a new Google-Earth-style web app for the red planet, providing the Mars-eyed among us with a way to virtually explore their fantasy destinations in stunning detail.

“Working with our expert development team at [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory], we have just released our latest product, Mars Trek,” said NASA project manager Brian Day in a video about Mars Trek released today. According to Day, this “web-based portal allows mission planners, scientists, and the general public to explore the surface of Mars in great detail as seen through the eyes of a variety of instruments on a number of spacecraft.”

… Beyond these experiments, you can also calculate the trip time between two points on Mars, explore the adopted homes of NASA rovers and landers, and, if you are feeling really ambitious, 3D-print full sections of the online map. Day and his team also plan to add more features soon, including speculations about landing sites for future projects like the Mars 2020 rover.


[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GSLamb.]

310 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/22 Several species of small, furry animals gathered together in a cave and scrolling with a pict

  1. @anna (and everyone else talking Traitor Baru Cormorant)

    TBC really frustrated me. I thought parts of it were brilliant…and other parts really really disappointed me. My review of it is still being massaged by my editor.

  2. JJ. hang on, we’re going for sympathy, right? Shouldn’t we be the Poor Possums? (“Aw, poor dead possum….”)

    And… <looking nervous> honestly, I’m not sure of the efficacy of playing dead around Ravens… <one paw protectively thrown over eyes>

  3. Bracketage (agh, agh, agh):

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
    The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

    (1) Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
    (3) Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
    (2) Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

    2. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
    1. Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

  5. Leo Grin’s Nihilism essay is at about the tail end of the pushback against the rise of “dark fantasy” which by the time of his 2011ish postings had merely not just established its beachhead in fantasy literature but had beheaded the last king of fantasy and was sitting firmly on the iron throne.

    His criticism is not new. People had long been making his same points since the turn of this century re: rise in popularity of Mieville, Stover, GRRM, Greg Keyes, Swanwick, Tim Powers, and perhaps even the (now not recent at all) Tad Williams. Also Anita Blake series can reasonably tossed in.

    But it was stupid to begin with. It has its own venerable model: Moorcock, who’d been shaking thing up since the 60s. Sapkowski had been writing the Witcher stories since the 80s. Martin’s Game of Thrones was in 1996.

    I mean where was Grin in 2001? Four years ago, he was about ten years late to that “dark fantasy is too grim for my tastes” party.

    Where was he in 1999 when the best example to date in the brewing clash of cultures was Del Rey bringing in “the grandmasters of Dark Fantasy” to kill Chewbacca, torture fan favorite characters, and turn Han Solo into a drunk over a multi-author 19 book series that still draws battle lines in SW fandom.

    With the massive pop culture success as symbolized by Game of Thrones, we now have the answer to those questions critics of this new emerging sub-genre were asking: does this dark fantasy thing have any legs?

    Silly but True


    The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

    1. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
    2. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
    3. Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

  7. Hypnotosov:

    JCW’s version of Catholicism has very little to do with the real thing, which is unfortunate since he often acts as if he himself is the chosen representative of God and final arbiter of theological matters (Nielsen Hayden? a heretic! Evolution? bunk! Global Warming? Another hoax!).

    Has he said anything about the Pope speaking in plain English, not just a boring old encyclical, yesterday and today, about climate change? I’ve not heard that he’s one of those More Catholic Than The Pope scismatics like Mel Gibson, so it’ll be interesting to get his reaction.

  8. Brackets:

    1. The Goblin Emperor, but only because Nine Goblins was omitted from the brackets.

    2. Night Watch
    Well, if we are going to do ranking then Night Watch would be followed by No Award, because it’s in a class of its own, but if No Award is verboten then
    Paladin of Souls
    Tooth and Claw

  9. Paul: That seems depressingly familiar language from anti-union, pro-capitalism, pro-death penalty, pro-war Catholics.

  10. @bruce.


    Also I find it interesting that, under, Pope Benedict, “Cafeteria Catholics” were denigrated…but now are suddenly in vogue by those uncomfortable with Francis’ apparent more leftist stances.

  11. Re JCW

    Perhaps someone should explain to him that the Vatican has a press office all of its very own…

  12. Paul:

    John did have a post recently where he says he is not in conflict with the Pope and doesn’t see any daylight between him and this Holiness. He thinks the press misquotes Francis to their own benefit.

    The Pope has now spoken in plain English in front of lots of cameras and microphones. I wonder if he’ll claim the Pope has misquoted himself?

  13. I demand a recount. (I don’t care that you haven’t counted yet, it’s clear there is going to be a conspiracy.) Both clones voted against JS&MN. Clearly, there has been voter fraud. And collusion. Clearly.

    Also, I’ll take that forehead cloth with lavender, please. Make that a case.

  14. I listened to the Pope’s speech before Congress on the radio, so I no doubt missed many nuances. Was it my imagination that there was sustained, loud applause when the Pope spoke of the sanctity of all life, and markedly less so when he clarified that to mean that the death penalty was bad?

    I pictured a bunch of anti-choice pro-death-penalty Republicans suddenly sitting down and looking sheepish, but that’s based on nothing more than supposition…

  15. 1. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

    2. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold – 1
    Night Watch, Terry Pratchett – 2
    Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton – 3

    (my forehead has exploded and will never be the same again)

  16. doesn’t see any daylight between him and this Holiness

    Ooo-er missus!
    I’m pretty sure that despite the SCOTUS ruling and the recent Irish “Fuck Yeah” referendum, that sort of hot-JCW-on-Pope action is still frowned upon by the RCC…

  17. Mark Dennehy:

    I’m pretty sure that despite the SCOTUS ruling and the recent Irish “Fuck Yeah” referendum, that sort of hot-JCW-on-Pope action is still frowned upon by the RCC…

    Did you have to put that image in our minds? Stocks of brain bleach are going to be running dangerously low.

  18. SJW Version: MAD MAX: FURRY ROAD


    Ooo I’ve never inspired a filk before. 🙂 Brilliant!

    @LunarG and Kevin Hogan

    Happy Anniversary!


    I would join Sad Possums only I’m considering reviving Disconsolate Dragons to protest the clear anti-DRAGON bias in the brackets.

    @Silly but True

    Nice take-down.


    The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

    Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
    Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
    Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

    help how do i vote for all of these

    um um DRAGONS as tie-breaker, coin flip…

    1. Tooth and Claw
    2. Night Watch
    3. Paladin of Souls

  19. Lydy:

    @Cally: Special lavender? I hope it’ll be friendly.

    Oh, it’s “friendly” all right….

  20. Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) on September 24, 2015 at 2:44 am said:

    @anna (and everyone else talking Traitor Baru Cormorant)

    TBC really frustrated me. I thought parts of it were brilliant…and other parts really really disappointed me. My review of it is still being massaged by my editor.

    I think it feels a lot like a first book, in a way that Watchmaker didn’t. As we used to say at Clarion, I love what you’re trying to do here… Farah Mendlesohn calls this kind of novels “court intrigue” I think – at least she so defined The House of Shattered Wings. Novels in which every character is powerful and involved in some way in the intrigue. She said it’s not for her and I am not too fond of the subgenre either. After a while the fact that everybody was playing a highly subtle game with everybody else and every line of dialogue had a second meaning that was the real one annoyed me very early on.
    There is also the fact that Oneh yvirf ure jubyr yvsr va gur rssbeg gb fnir ure pbhagel, ohg sbe fbzrguvat fb ybat-grez fur unf ab erny cyna OHG n greevoyr frafr bs hetrapl. Vg arire pbaivaprq zr. Ure zbgvingvbaf nyjnlf frrzrq zber fgngrq guna sryg – jura gur Pynevsvrq gryyf ure fur’f n cflpubcngu n ybg bs guvatf nobhg ure znqr frafr, ohg vg qvqa’g rkycynva jul fur jnf na vqrnyvfg, gbb. N shaal xvaq bs vqrnyvfg, gbb – fur jnagf gb fnir n pbhagel gung rssrpgviryl qbrf abg rkvfg nal zber, fb vg’f uneq gb frr jung vf guvf fgrryl qrgrezvangvba gb juvpu fur fnpevsvprf rirelguvat ryfr.
    V jnfa’g fhecevfrq jura fur orgenlrq gur eroryyvba – bs pbhefr fur qvq. V jnf rkcrpgvat vg. Naq gur jubyr guvat nobhg ure svany zrrgvat jvgu Gvra Uh jnf zneerq sbe zr ol gur jubyr “ol sbepvat lbh gb xvyy zr V jva”, “ab ol sbepvat zr gb znxr zr xvyy lbh lbh npghnyyl ybfr… ab jnvg n zvahgr…”

  21. I’m abstaining from this round of voting. I am a sad possum. If you need me, I’ll be dead-like but watching you fearfully out of the corner of my eye.

    The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
    I am among those who couldn’t finish JS&MN

    1.Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
    2.Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
    3.Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

  23. Lydy Nickerson on September 24, 2015 at 8:22 am said:

    I demand a recount. (I don’t care that you haven’t counted yet, it’s clear there is going to be a conspiracy.) Both clones voted against JS&MN. Clearly, there has been voter fraud. And collusion. Clearly.

    You should demand that votes for Jonathon Strange are counted separately from votes for Mr Norrell.

  24. Oh, for once I made it here in time to actually vote!

    The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

    1. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
    2. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
    3. Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton

  25. RE: Popinions & Popaliticizing

    The Pope began his speech by identifying with the home of the free, noted Moses as chief lawgiver, recognized the importance of hardworking people who value a days work, and noted that new immigrants to our land hadn’t always respected the people already here.

    Right leaning media outlets report: “Pope to Congress: I am a Tea Partier Who Despises Obama’s Lawlessness, the Laziness of the 47%, and You Need to Build Your Wall Now”

    The Pope condemned capital punishment, addresses the sanctity of all life and made an in depth extended focus on the Golden Rule.

    Left leaning media outlets report: “Pope to Congress: I am a Socialist Who Believes #AllLivesMatter, those who can work should support those who cannot, and you need to take better take in and support all the refugees From Mexico.”

    Silly but True

  26. SBT’s been a pretty good citizen lately. I think he’s being simplistic, but at least his comment is germane to the subthread about Wright’s claims about him and Francis being totally sympatico.

  27. Lis,

    I take it you probably haven’t read JCW’s blogpost at the heart being discussed in this thread, or actually care about that discussion at all.

    His point was essentially that the Pope is misrepresented in the media versus what he actually says.

    My post directly addresses his point regarding why he doesn’t see any difference between his views and the Pope’s, because the way the Pope’s views are reflected in media across the political spectrum is skewed to the tastes of a particular outlet.

    He suggests that those surprised by his complete agreement are then informed, incorrectly, by an understanding of how the media presents the Pope’s words rather than what the Pope actually said.

    Silly but True

  28. No, Silly, my mind just wasn’t on that subthread. From my perspective, at least, the conversation has gone elsewhere, and you didn’t mention JCW and bring that connection to the fore for me.

    As to the substance, the problem for JCW’s view of his complete alignment with Francis is that the Pope clearly and explicitly, and quite strongly, espouses positions he doesn’t share as much as positions he does share. The Pope talked about the sanctity of life today–and highlighted the need to end the death penalty, rather than the need to end abortion (though he also supports that, of course.) He’s washed the feet of Muslim and female juvenile delinquents. He’s not going to change Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, but he equally clearly doesn’t share JCW’s stated belief that a man’s “natural” reaction to a gay male couple is to want to beat then to death with tire irons. Francis might well have welcomed the opportunity to attempt to dissuade Sir Terry from ending his own life or advocating that others in similar circumstances be able to consider it, but he would not have approved JCW’s regret at not having punched Sir Terry in the face. I could go on, but you get the idea. There are too many matters on which the Pope has clearly stated, in public and in his own voice, positions JCW does not share, as well as positions JCW does share.

    But the biggest divergence is not on specific issues. It’s how differently the two men’s respond to people holding views they disagree with on moral issues.

  29. > “(ETA: Scratch that – I see it’s not released for another month).”

    Ian — yep, clearly I haven’t. 🙂

    Goldschmidt’s “The Falling Sky” was kind of a must-read for me, what with my beloved being an astrophysicist at the University of Edinburgh (started working there after Goldschmidt left, though, so we never met her.) Interestingly, she didn’t like the book quite as much as I did; she had a hard time getting past Jeanette’s unethical behavior and that made it difficult for her to sympathize with the character.

  30. Heather Rose Jones on September 24, 2015 at 1:35 pm said:
    So I know it’s kind of become a running gag for me to refer to The Privilege of the Sword as the book that broke my heart with its near-perfection. I’ve finally gotten around to blogging what I mean by that so that I can finally move on and re-read the book.

    There is that odd phenomenon of the book you love so much, and have such a highly fraught discussion with inside your head, that you can’t read it again until/unless you get it all sorted.
    I’m glad that writing two novels has enabled you to potentially return to it.
    Though that does set the bar for fixing the problem a bit high.
    (Btw, I just finished Daughter of Mystery. Wow, just wow. Lovely.)

  31. would join Sad Possums only I’m considering reviving Disconsolate Dragons to protest the clear anti-DRAGON bias in the brackets.

    Ohh I like the name Disconsolate Dragons. I also like Dragons. I’m joining. Sorry Sad Possums but your name & playing dead just wasn’t working for me.

  32. I have a long-time relationship with a clan of possums.
    I’ve managed to keep the current generation from coming in the cat flap, but they are still a constant presence on the porch at night.
    (And how do you keep them from using the cat flap?
    You block it off until all the elders who understand it die off without passing along the information.
    Years of playing doorman for the cats, but worth it to avoid possums colonizing the laundry room.)

    I just can’t with possums, sad or not.
    Or raccoons, shudder.
    But I’m happy to become a Disconsolate Dragon, since we haven’t had an infestation of them.
    Maybe if I left kibble on the roof though…

  33. Well, I’m not one to judge how JCW and the Pope align in their religious views, nor measure the conformance of how either interpret Catholic doctrine, and sort of find such discussions silly. I also generally find it suspect when those invoke the Pope’s name in support of their own pet cause.

    To the extent that JCW notes a difference between news media’s lazy headline sensationalizing versus the real meaning, I am sympathetic to his point across a much wider area than just how church leaders are presented in the media.

    The reason why in my opinion why anyone’s had the audacity to question JCWs opinion of the Pope or why he felt the need or desire to respond to such a request for clarification or why people might feel there may be a disconnect now than with Pope Benedict is that media’s lazy sensationalizing of Pope Francis’ positions has really reached unprecedented silliness. But I also first started paying more attention to such things when in 2010 it was widely reported that Benedict advised African male prostitutes to start wearing condoms.

    Silly But True

  34. @ Lauowolf

    Well it’s a bit more complicated that that (as everything always is). I avoided re-reading TPOTS while I was writing my first couple of books specifically because of the thematic similarities. I worried about cross-contamination of my imagination. (For that matter, I didn’t read much fiction at all while working on Daughter of Mystery for a combination of that reason and a sort of monomania.) After that, I can attribute the putting-off to my peculiar fascination with process and analysis. I wanted to do the “review of my memory of reading the book” without the contamination of a fresh read, but every time I thought about doing it, I got scared of baring my soul that much. I often have to build up to soul-baring with a few good rounds of self-mockery. I don’t expect this sort of contortion from anyone except myself, so there’s no bar to get over.

    (Glad you enjoyed the book.)

  35. @Kyra: Jeanette’s unethical behaviour in Falling Sky bothered me to exactly the same extent as the superstar supervisor ignoring the talk and asking the nasty question: I might wish it didn’t happen but I’ve seen it enough to identify with both – I’d almost worry more about it being a cliche.

    I spotted so many characters and situations that I “knew” that I felt the whole thing was “morally true”. It reminds me of the review on the front of Banks’ Espedair Street: “the funniest, truest rock biopic yet”. I’d certainly put Falling Sky as the truest scientist biopic – just not particularly funny.

    It says something that I have only recommended this book to a couple of people, and they’re all astrophysicists, mind…

  36. I know alliteration isn’t true to the original, but I really like alliteration and since it’s my joke-campaign for joke-cause of the moment (I think I’m up to three entirely different ones now), the Disconsolate Dragons it is.

    (I’m sure the reason for using ‘Dragons’ is obvious.)

    All volunteer minions hoardlings recruits welcome, of course. 😉

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