Pixel Scroll 11/25 Have Space Suit, Can’t Get Through Babylon 5 TSA

In response to a suggestion I am adding subtitles to go with the item numbers. Some feel that will make cross-references to Scroll topics less confusing when they are talking about, say, item 8 from two days earlier.

(1) Royal Treatment. File 770 doesn’t get a lot of press releases, just the quality. Today I received the announcement of a second round of tickets for sale to those wanting to attend the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday in May 2016.

(2) Radio SFWA. Henry Lien’s instructional video, demonstrating the choreography for his anthem “Radio SFWA”, is rockin’ and ready for you to witness in this public Facebook post.

(3) Read The Comments. The New York Times published a feature about some of its most valued regular commenters. One of them is 95-year-old sf writer Larry Eisenberg.

Larry Eisenberg. Photo by Chad Batka.

Larry Eisenberg. Photo by Chad Batka.

Mr. Eisenberg has made a name for himself by commenting in poetry.

“Today the kind of poetry you see is primarily a prose form of poetry, you rarely see anything of a rhyming nature that’s published,” Mr. Eisenberg said, citing hip-hop music as an exception. “My own feeling is that people like rhymes. There’s something attractive about them.”

He said his poems were inspired by the fight against racism and inequality. “That’s something that really disturbs me,” he said. “The killings that are taking place, that are primarily racially directed.”

“I do get people who say they love what I wrote,” Mr. Eisenberg, who served as a radar operator in World War II, added. “They found it very enjoyable, or they got a laugh out of it. That’s of course very pleasant for me to read.”

Intelligence failure my eye!
A Cheney-Bush-Condi baked Pie!
Media abetted,
The lies weren’t vetted,
And boy, did this mess go awry!

Larry Eisenberg

Larry Eisenberg was an active sf writer in the 1960s-1970s who had a story picked by Harlan Ellison for Dangerous Visions (“What Happened to Auguste Clarot?”), 20 published stories in his “Emmett Duckworth” series, and had his story “The Time of His Life” (1968) included in The Arbor House Treasury of Modern Science Fiction edited by Silverberg and Greenberg.

(4) Loscon 42 is this weekend in LA. The full program is now online.

(5) Once More With Joshi. S.T. Joshi restates his arguments at greater length in “November 24, 2015 – Once More with Feeling”.

It appears that my recent blogs have been somewhat misunderstood: I suppose in this humourless age, where everyone feels at liberty to be offended at anything and everything, satire and reductio ad absurdum are dangerous tools to employ. (How I wish more of us could adopt Lovecraft’s sensible attitude: “I am as offence-proof as the average cynic.”)

Here are three of his 11 points – I suspect many sympathize with #7, if none of the rest:

7) It would help if the World Fantasy Convention committee had presented some—or any—explanation as to why the award was changed. The secrecy with which this matter was handled has done a disservice to the field.

8) No fair-minded reader could say that my discussion of Ellen Datlow in any way constituted “vitriol.” I was raising a legitimate query as to why she has turned against Lovecraft after profiting from anthologies that could only have been assembled because of Lovecraft’s ascending reputation. Similarly, my comment directed at Jeff VanderMeer was in no way insulting to him. It is simply the plain truth that his offhand comment does not begin to address the multifarious complexities of this issue.

9) I do not question the sincerity of those individuals (whether they be persons of colour who have been the victims of race prejudice—as I have been on a few occasions—or others who are concerned about the continuing prevalence of prejudice in our society today, as I certainly am) who genuinely believe that changing the WFA bust might have some positive results in terms of inclusiveness in our genre. I happen to think they are mistaken on that particular issue, but that is a disagreement that I trust we can have without rancour or accusations of bad faith. (I am, however, not convinced that Mr. Older is one of these people.)

(6) Carrie Fisher. CinemaBlend knows “The Blunt Reason Carrie Fisher Returned To Star Wars”.

Leia, who we now know has traded out the Princess tag for General, is one of those roles that is difficult for an actor to escape—much like Luke Skywalker, it casts a long shadow—and this played a part in Fishers decision. But her choice also had a lot to do with a bigger issue in Hollywood, the lack of quality roles for aging actresses. When Time caught up with the 59-year-old actress and asked if her decision making process was difficult, she said:

No, I’m a female and in Hollywood it’s difficult to get work after 30—maybe it’s getting to be 40 now. I long ago accepted that I am Princess Leia. I have that as a large part of the association with my identity. There wasn’t a lot of hesitation.

(7) Attack of the Clones. Michael J. Martinez continues his Star Wars rewatch reviews in Star Wars wayback machine: Attack of the Clones”.

…No, my issue is Padme, as in…what the hell are you thinking?

Anakin is utterly unstable. It’s apparently widely known that Jedi aren’t supposed to get romantic or emotional. So there’s your first tip-off. The stalkerish leering and horrid attempts at flirtation aren’t helping, either. But then, right in front of Padme, he confesses to slaughtering an entire tribe of sentient beings — women and children, too! Sure, the Sand People killed Anakin’s mom, but do you really just sit there and say, “Hey, Anakin, you’re human. We make mistakes. It’s OK. Hugs?”

Hell, no, Padme. You call the Jedi Council on Coruscant and let them know they got themselves a massive problem….

(8) We Missed A Less Menacing Phantom. Meanwhile, we learn “Ron Howard could have saved us from The Phantom Menace, but chose not to” at A.V. Club.

Way back in the mid-’90s, George Lucas apparently exerted some mental energy trying to decide whether he’d rather create a trilogy of bloodless films in order to experiment with his new computer-imaging software, or hire some real filmmakers and make some decent Star Wars movies. He ultimately went with the former option, but—at least according to Ron Howard—it could have easily gone the other way.

“[Lucas] didn’t necessarily want to direct them,” Howard explains in a recent interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and me. I was the third one he spoke to. They all said the same thing: ‘George, you should do it!’ I don’t think anybody wanted to follow up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting.”

If this story is true, that is some criminally negligent counseling from some of Lucas’ supposed friends.

(9) Theme v. Message. Sarah A. Hoyt works on a practical distinction between theme and blunt message in storytelling, in “Threading The Needle” at According To Hoyt.

Theme, plot and meaning in your work.

Yes, I know, I know.  You’re out there going “but aren’t we all about the story and not the message.”

Yeah, of course we are.  If by message you mean the clumsy, stupid, predictable message you find in message fiction….

So:

1- Figure out the theme and thread it through WHERE APPROPRIATE.

2- Figure out the sense of your novel and thread it through WHERE APPROPRIATE and not in people’s faces.

3 – If your sense of the novel fits in a bumpersticker, you iz doing it wrong.

4- most of 1 and 2 come down to building believable characters that fit the story you want to tell, and then not violating their individuality.

5- if you end in a line saying “the moral of this story is” it’s likely you’re over the top and turning off readers.  Also it’s possible Sarah A. Hoyt will come to your house and hold your cats/dogs/dragons hostage till you stop being a wise*ss.

(10) Today In History.

  • November 25, 1915 — Albert Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity

(11) Supergirl, Spoiler Warning.  Polygon reports “Superman to finally be introduced on Supergirl”

Audiences have gotten quick glimpses of the superhero, but there’s never been an official first look at the man of steel.

Now, however, Superman is set to make his official first appearance on the show, according to a new report from TV Line. Casting has already begun for the character, although some may be surprised to find out that CBS isn’t looking for a handsome, leading man to fill the role, but a 13-year-old boy.

(12) Game of Thrones Spoiler Warning. The Street asks, “Did HBO Just Tease That Jon Snow Is Alive in This Awesome ‘Game of Thrones’ Promotion?”

GoT left off in the Season 5 finale that Snow had been killed by his brothers of the Night’s Watch who rebelled against him as the commander of the group. Avid fans across the world cried and took to social media in outrage.

But since the season finale last June, fans have tossed around lots of theories on whether Jon Snow is actually dead. A prominent theory — at least in the TV series – is that Snow’s eyes change color just before the camera cuts off in the episode’s last scene. Could it mean that while Jon Snow may be dead, he will emerge as a new person, ahem, Jon Targaryen? Or was the eye color change just a trick of the camera?

As well, Game of Thrones blogs and various media articles have noted that Kit Harington, the actor who plays Snow, was seen on the show’s set while filming earlier this year for Season 6.

Still HBO hasn’t confirmed that the character will be returning. And following the season finale in June, HBO insists that Jon Snow is indeed — dead.

(13) Rex Reason Passes Away. Actor Rex Reason died November 19.

Rex Reason, the tall, handsome actor with a lush voice who portrayed the heroic scientist Dr. Cal Meacham in the 1955 science-fiction cult classic This Island Earth, has died. He was 86.

Reason died November 19th of bladder cancer at his home in Walnut, California, his wife of 47 years, Shirley, told The Hollywood Reporter….

In This Island Earth, distributed by Universal-International and directed by Joseph M. Newman, Reason’s Dr. Meacham is one of the scientists recruited by a denizen of the planet Metaluna to help in a war against another alien race. Russell Johnson, the future Professor on Gilligan’s Island, also played a scientist in the Technicolor movie, which at the time was hailed for its effects….

After a few years at MGM and Columbia, Reason landed at Universal and worked alongside Rita Hayworth in William Dieterle’s Salome (1953). He later starred as another scientist in The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), appeared with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier in Band of Angels (1957) and toplined Badlands of Montana (1957) and Thundering Jets (1958).

(14) Blue Origin. Yesterday’s Scroll ran a quote about the Blue Origin rocket test, but omitted the link to the referenced Washington Post story.

(15) Hines Review. Jim C. Hines reviews “Jupiter Ascending”.

I’d seen a bit of buzz about Jupiter Ascending, both positive and negative. I didn’t get around to watching it until this week.

The science is absurd, the plot is completely over the top, and about 3/4 of the way through, I figured out why it was working for me.

Spoilers Beyond This Point

(16) Cubesats. “United Launch Alliance Reveals Transformational CubeSat Launch Program” reports Space Daily.

As the most experienced launch company in the nation, United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced it is taking CubeSat rideshares to the next level by launching a new, innovative program offering universities the chance to compete for free CubeSat rides on future launches.

“ULA will offer universities the chance to compete for at least six CubeSat launch slots on two Atlas V missions, with a goal to eventually add university CubeSat slots to nearly every Atlas and Vulcan launch,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO.

“There is a growing need for universities to have access and availability to launch their CubeSats and this program will transform the way these universities get to space by making space more affordable and accessible.”

(17) Nazi Subway Ads. The New York Post article “Amazon Pulls Nazi-Inspired Ads from Subways” has more photos of the subway cars, inside and out.

Andrew Porter’s somewhat Joshi-esque comment is: “The concept of a USA under German and Japanese occupation is apparently beyond the comprehension of most subway riders, and politicians. Note that no actual swastikas appeared anywhere! Next: toy stores will be forced to remove World War II German model airplanes….”

(18) Testing for Feminism: The dramatic title of Steven Harper Piziks’ post “The Impending Death of Feminism” at Book View Café obscures his finely-grained account of a classroom discussion. The comments are also good.

Every year my seniors read Moliere’s Tartuffe. In that play is a scene in which Orgon orders his daughter to break off her engagement with the man she loves and marry the evil Tartuffe.  She begs him not to force this and asks his permission to marry the man she wants.

“Haw haw haw!” I chuckle at this point.  “Tartuffe was written in the 1600s.  Nothing like this happens today!”

Or . . . ?

I bring up a web site on my SmartBoard that asks questions and lets the students text their responses so we can see how the class as a whole answered.  The answers are always a little shocking

(19) Mockingjay 2. Tom Knighton reviews Mockingjay Part 2:

…Now, let’s talk about performances.  Jennifer Lawrence is phenomenal, like she always is.  Personally, I like her better as Katniss than Mystique, but mostly because I prefer rooting for her characters and I just can’t with Mystique.

This is the last film we’ll ever see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in, and that is truly a tragedy.  So much talent, but he had a demon he couldn’t tame and it cost him his life.  To get political for a moment, this is something we should be discussing how to prevent.  Frankly, the threat of prison didn’t stop him, so maybe we should figure something else out for a bleeding change.  </politics>

Liam Hemsworth is great as well.  He’s a young actor I can’t wait to see do more.  My hope is that someday we’ll get a great action movie with Liam and his big brother Chris.  Gail and Thor on the big screen…yeah, I can see it….

(20) Bottled In Bond. James H. Burns recommends, “As folks are celebrating Thanksgiving, they could have a drink, like that other JB….!“ He means, of course, James Bond. For ideas, consult Burn’s article “007’s Potent Potables”.

The virtual explosion of surprise over James Bond drinking a beer in Skyfall was a bit absurd, and played almost like some practical joke from one of the spy’s arch enemies seeking to display just how gullible the media can be. (“Is that a SPECTRE I see over your shoulder?”) Call it a vast victory for product placement: The kind that not only gets the brand a major slot in a movie, but gets folks–including “The NBC Nightly News”–buzzing to the tune of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS of free publicity, for both the film, and the endorsement. But Ian Fleming’s secret agent 007 has been having the occasional brew almost since his very beginnings in the author’s bestselling series of espionage novels, which commenced in the early 1950s!

(21) Trivia. J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was one of the seven people that Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott wrote to in the final hours of his life during his ill-fated return journey from the South Pole. Scott asked Barrie to take care of his wife and son. Barrie was so touched by the request that he carried the letter with him the rest of his life.

(22) Gratitude. “The SF/F We’re Thankful for in 2015” at B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog.

Andrew: Space opera seems to be coming back in a big way. Books such as Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey, Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, The End of All Things by John Scalzi, and The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers have been earning acclaim from all corners of the internet. I’ve always been a big fan of stories about expansive galactic empires, ragtag starship crews, and adventure far out into the cosmos, and the genre’s recent resurgence is both exciting and terrifying: there’s not nearly enough time to read all of them!

(23) Scalzi’s Thanksgiving Prayer. John Scalzi has recorded an audio of his science fictional thanksgiving prayertext first published on AMC in 2010.

… Additionally, let us extend our gratitude that this was not the year that you allowed the alien armadas to attack, to rapaciously steal our natural resources, and to feed on us, obliging us to make a last-ditch effort to infect their computers with a virus, rely on microbes to give them a nasty cold, or moisten them vigorously in the hope that they are water-soluble. I think I speak for all of us when I say that moistening aliens was not on the agenda for any of us at this table. Thank you, Lord, for sparing us that duty….

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Jim Meadows, rcade, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Credit for this holiday travel-themed title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]