Pixel Scroll 5/7/16 All True Scrollaroos Meeting At Worldcon Hinder Pixelman Agenda

(1) HOPEFULLY INCURABLE. Rhianna Pratchett reacted to the news item that also inspired #12 in yesterday’s Scroll (“Nailsworth teacher claims Harry Potter books cause mental illness”):

(2) CRAZY EX RATED. On NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, “Not My Job: Actress Rachel Bloom Gets Quizzed On Crazy Ex-Boyfriends”.

Since she’s the expert on crazy ex-girlfriends we’ve decided to ask her three questions about some well-known crazy ex-boyfriends in a game called “No! Really! This time I’ll change!”

She mentions Ray Bradbury, subject of her 2011 Hugo-nominated song.

Rachel Bloom meets Ray Bradbury in 2010. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Rachel Bloom meets Ray Bradbury in 2010. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

(3) GO AHEAD AND JUMP. David K.M. Klaus predicts, “Someday some Harry Potter fan is going to invent a practical personal jet pack or anti-gravity belt, just so he or she can play Quidditch.” ‘Til then we’ll make do with these skydiving Quidditch players from a Colombian phone commercial.

(4) PARTLY IMMORTAL. Fantasy Faction reposts “Foundations of Fantasy: The Epic of Gilgamesh”.

More than any other genre, fantasy tends to examine ancient epics. Whether it’s the study of archetypes and ectypes, or a historical understanding of narrative itself, or simply a desire to experience myths and legends that have lived for ages, these books remain alive to us. This series of posts will be about some of the more important mythic texts in history, and how they relate to modern fantasy.

The Story Behind the Story

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest books we have on record. Original stories regarding the character date back as early as the eighteenth century BCE. The primary text was written between the 13th and tenth century BCE, in cuneiform on stone tablets. Then, it was lost for thousands of years, until it was rediscovered in 1850 in the excavation of Nineveh. Even then, it took decades to be translated into English.

Translations are tricky when dealing with situations like these. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was one of the first people to read it translated. John Gardner (who also wrote the fantastic novel Grendel, a retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s point of view, and The Art of Fiction: Notes on the Craft for Young Authors) made a much more accurate, yet difficult to read translation, making certain to note each place the actual text was missing. Penguin Classics put out a two-volume translation by Andrew George which has received considerable acclaim. For a more poetic, if less rigorous version, Stephen Mitchell’s translation is quite readable, and uses inferences and the aforementioned earlier stories of Gilgamesh to fill in the missing gaps….

(5) GOOD STUFF. See Rachel Swirsky’s recommendation, “Friday read! ‘Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters’ by Alice Sola Kim”.

One man watches the world evolve as he passes, sleep by sleep, into the future, trailing after his generations of descendants….

Hwang’s Bilion Brilliant Daughters” by Alice Sola Kim…

(6) THE MARQUIS OF TENTACLE RULES. Is the beer as good as the label? Octopus Wants To Fight IPA from Great Lakes Beer.

Octopus-Wants-to-Fight_can_label

It pours a beautiful burnt gold edging into a dull orange, like a orange creamsicle complete with a tight white head. As you can imagine, lots of tropical fruits abound from the glass with the first whiffs, followed by a walk in the woods as pine, evergreen and some herbaceous notes are picked up. The first sip provides some sweetness, some dank grass combined with pine needles and then onto “juicy fruit”.  Soft body with some middle mouthfeel bitterness that tastes like another.

The Story “Our pet octopus is a bit of a jerk. He’s that guy who has a couple then either tells you how much he loves you or threatens to fight you. So we brewed this IPA, with 8 varieties of hops and 8 types of malt. We targeted 88 IBU and 8.8% to appease him. Sadly, when he found out that we’d fabricated all of the above info, it only made him more volatile. We are starting to realize that Octopus was a poor choice for a pet.”

Food pairing recommendations

Calamari…

(7) DRAGONSCALE. Mark Yon has a fine review of Joe Hill’s The Fireman at SFFWorld.

The arrival of the latest book by Joe Hill has generally been seen as one of the highlights of the publishing year, and has been much anticipated here at SFFWorld.

Joe has said that The Fireman is his take on his father’s masterwork The Stand. I can see what he means, though the end-results are clearly different. Whereas The Stand begins with the spread of a killer flu germ (‘Captain Trips’), The Fireman begins with the dispersal of a 21st century equivalent – a spore named Dragonscale, of unknown origin, possibly weaponised, that has spread to the general public. The symptoms occur suddenly and are quite striking – a strange dark tattoo, interlaced with gold, appears on the body,  often followed by spontaneous combustion of the person infected….

(8) FELLOW ARTISTS. Rudy Rucker blogs about recent visits to SF MOMA and other cultural events, accompanied by plenty of photos and wry commentary.

I was happy to see they have Arneson’s “California Artist” on display, wearing shades whose lenses are holes revealing, oho, that he has an empty head, California artist that he is. I first saw this sculpture when we moved to California in 1986, and I was, like, yeah, I’m a California artist too. I just didn’t realize that before. It’s high time I got here. Solidarität!

(9) FREE WEIRD. From Europa SF I learned about the English-language magazine Finnish Weird:

Finnish Weird is a free magazine published by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society. It introduces the concept of “Finnish Weird”, showcases a few writers and also includes short stories by Johanna Sinisalo, Anne Leinonen, Helena Waris, Leena Likitalo and Magdalena Hai. The printed version will be available on select occasions (come and look for the Finnish party at Worldcon!), but you can also read the zine online or get an electronic version, either as a pdf or an ebook (epub).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 7, 2010 — The Marvel Cinematic Universe gets its first sequel in Iron Man 2.

(9) LET IT RAIN. The Kickstarter for Quench seeks $20,312 to fund the creation of a computer game that allows players to control the weather and help herds of animals restore their home. Coming to PC & Mac in 2016.

Controlling the Weather

Using your divine powers over the weather, you will provide for your herds, help them as they take up their great pilgrimage, and ultimately restore the world.

Summon rain to bring life to withered plants, quench fires and calm enraged spirits.

Create gusts of wind to hurry your animals along, confuse attackers, and shift great dunes of sand.

Quake the earth to break open chasms and fountains, stun smokebeasts, and clear boulders blocking the way.

Strike lightning to start fires, revive fallen animals and obliterate foes. But don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature!

There’s also an option for people to vote yes to greenlight the game on Steam.

(10) MORE ABOUT BLACK GATE. Rich Horton’s thoughts about the impact on fiction categories comes before this excerpt in his Black Gate post The Hugo Nominations, 2016; or, Sigh …”.

Of course Black Gate was nominated as Best Fanzine last year, due to Rabid Puppies support, and John O’Neill quite rightly withdrew its nomination. This year we again were (unwillingly) on the Rabid slate, and again John has decided to withdraw.

We discussed what to do – though the choice was always John’s – and there was a definite split. Many of us – myself included – at first inclined to the notion that perhaps we should stay on the ballot. I had four reasons for this: 1) I am certain that Black Gate got a good amount of support from non-Rabid nominators (but we have no way, for now, of knowing how much); 2) I though perhaps the point had been made last year; 3) I felt that withdrawing was ceding even more influence to Vox Day, and also was to an extent disenfranchising the non-Rabid nominators; and 4) I really do think Black Gate is a worthy choice.

But John made two very strong arguments in favor of withdrawing, arguments that now have swayed me so that I believe his decision is correct. First, and most important, by withdrawing it is guaranteed that there will be an entry on the Final Ballot not chosen by Vox Day. Second, in John’s estimation, it is likely that Black Gate wouldn’t have won anyway. I don’t think that’s nearly as important – but it’s probably true. (Alas, the very possible win for whoever replace Black Gate will be somewhat tainted as well if it’s perceived that it won as a default choice.)

(11) CAUSES ME TO TINGLE. Rachel Swirsky said if her Patreon reached $100 by the end of May she would write and send “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” to everyone who subscribes. Well, soon after this tweet, it did, and donations are still coming in. The funds will be given to Lyon-Martin health services.

(12) OF TWO MINDS. Damien G. Walter’s vlog, titled “Why is writing hard?”, never mentions Chuck Tingle, missing a golden opportunity. He previews the actual topic on his blog —

“Damien gets passionate about writing, and talks about the thing that makes it hard, the clash of two very different sides of our personality, the conscious mind and the subconscious imagination. OR. The crazy old hippy VS the corporate middle manager in all of us.”

 

(13) THREE GOLDEN MINUTES. Kendall turned us on to the amazing 2012 short film “The Device.”

[Thanks to Sunhawk, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, ULTRAGOTHA, Kendall, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 9/26 10 Things I Slate About You

(1) Pablo Vazquez has identified himself as another San Juan in 2017 NASFiC bid committee member — he is one of the bid chairs — so you can add his name to the list.

The formal launch is at ContraFlow/DSC in New Orleans next weekend. There is a Facebook page – San Juan in 2017.

(2) A great read about trying to make a game based on Lovecraft that wasn’t so dismal as to be unplayable – “Lovecraft on the Tabletop”.

The story of the development of this tabletop RPG of Lovecraftian horror, soon to be renamed Call of Cthulhu, is one of the more fascinating and inspiring case studies in the annals of gaming history. The end result reverberates to this day not only through the world of tabletop gaming but also through its digital parallel.

(3) An archaeological find has added 20 lines to the Epic of Gilgamesh:

The new T.1447 tablet, according to the article Back to the Cedar Forest: The beginning and end of Tablet V of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgameš published in June, 2014 is:

  • The revised reconstruction of Tablet V yields text that is nearly twenty lines longer than previously known.
  • The obverse (columns i-ii) duplicates the Neo-Assyrian fragments which means the Epic tablet can be placed in order and used to fill in the gaps between them. It also shows the recension on Tablet V was in Babylonia, as well as Assyria and that “izziz?ma inappat? qišta” is the same phrase that other tablets being with.
  • The reverse (columns v-vi) duplicates parts of the reverse (columns iv-vi) of the late Babylonian tablet excavated at Uruk that begins with the inscription “Humb?ba pâšu ?pušma iqabbi izakkara ana Gilg?meš”.
  • The most interesting piece of information provided by this new source is the continuation of the description of the Cedar Forest:
  • Gilgamesh and Enkidu saw ‘monkeys’ as part of the exotic and noisy fauna of the Cedar Forest; this was not mentioned in other versions of the Epic.
  • Humbaba emerges, not as a barbarian ogre, and but as a foreign ruler entertained with exotic music at court in the manner of Babylonian kings. The chatter of monkeys, chorus of cicada, and squawking of many kinds of birds formed a symphony (or cacophony) that daily entertained the forest’s guardian, Humbaba.
  • The aftermath of Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s slaying of Humbaba is now better preserved.
  • The passages are consistent with other versions and confirm what was already known. For example, Enkidu had spent some time with Humbaba in his youth.

(4) Sigourney Weaver is in the Ghostbusters reboot – a cameo, presumably, but nobody has revealed whether she’s reprising her original character.

(5) “Bing Watney Home!” is not a File 770 typo, though you could be pardoned for thinking so.

Bing Maps is doing “real time” tracking of Astronaut Mark Watney’s journey across Mars to the Schiaparelli Basin, a stage in the effort to rescue and bring him back to Earth.

And Microsoft is promoting itself and The Martian movie with a contest called “Hacking Mars”.

It’s the year 2035. Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. The best minds on Earth are joining together to help him survive. What would you do? One small, unmanned spacecraft will carry the winning solution to Mars.

Check out how to #HackMars and bring Watney home. Submit your design for a chance to win $25,000 and a trip to Microsoft to experience HoloLens. Deadline for submissions is October 13, 2015, 11:59PM EST.

There are three challenge categories. The first is —

Stay alive

A primal human motivation is survival. We all have physiological needs like air, water, and food.

Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars. He has no way to contact Earth or his crew. It’ll be four years before a manned mission can reach him. Watney doesn’t have nearly enough food to last that long. He has to make a decision, survive on Mars or perish.

Mars is incredibly cold, unpredictable, and has many ways that it threatens human life. If an emergency comes up Watney must either solve it or die.

For this challenge, design a solution that helps Watney sustain the basic things that every human being needs to survive. This could include ways to grow food, filter air, and produce water.

(6) Back in the dismal real world, claims are being made that the bones of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa have been discovered.

Historical records suggest that Gherardini, who spent her last years in the Sant’Orsola convent in Florence, was laid to rest at the site. On Thursday, researchers announced that carbon-14 dating showed the bones they found in the convent date from around the time that Gherardini died, in 1542, when she was 63.

“I’m convinced it is her,” Silvano Vinceti, an art historian who led the research team, told The Telegraph.

The next stages of the investigation will prove highly challenging. Some scholars say that as dozens of bodies were buried beneath the convent over several decades, the remains could belong to someone else. So, DNA samples will need to be taken from the bone fragments and compared with DNA extracted from the remains of two of Gherardini’s children. Those remains have been badly damaged by flooding in the tomb in the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

And even if the bones are proved to belong to Gherardini, scholars are divided over whether she really was the model for the “Mona Lisa.” The absence of a skull has also thwarted efforts to reconstruct the face of the noblewoman, making it nearly impossible to compare it to the painting.

Your mileage may vary, but I find this to be nothing more than a grotesque job of grave robbing. The notion of finding a skull to reconstruct in order to compare it with the face in the painting seems a pretty dim piece of scientific wishfulness – as if the reconstruction could surpass the work of a painter who had the living subject available.

(7) Amanda S. Green devotes a whole post on Mad Genius Club disputing John Scalzi’s analysis of the Author Earnings Report but refuses to link to his post, drawing all her Scalzi quotes from Chris Meadows’ TeleRead article instead. Is this some kind of pretentious purity ritual? Like people who will only quote Vox Day based on what’s transcribed here? I’m not a big fan of laundered quotes. If you want to reference the person, link the primary source. You’ve quoted the guy – his words are in your head. You get no credit for cooties avoidance.

(8) The National Endowment for the Arts blog has listed “Our Top Ten Ray Bradbury Quotes”.

  • “‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.’”
  • “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
  • “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
  • “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”
  • “I spent three days a week for ten years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of ten years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
  • “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
  • “I’m never going to go to Mars, but I’ve helped inspire, thank goodness, the people who built the rockets and sent our photographic equipment off to Mars.”
  • “Don’t worry about things. Don’t push. Just do your work and you’ll survive. The important thing is to have a ball, to be joyful, to be loving and to be explosive. Out of that comes everything and you grow.”
  • “I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”
  • “You’ve been put on the world to love the act of being alive.”

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