Pixel Scroll 9/9/16 Pixel Trek: The Search For Scrolls

(1) WORKING. Global News reports “Majel Barrett may voice ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ ship computer”.

But wait, you’re thinking. Barrett died in 2008. How is that possible?

It turns out that just before her death, Barrett recorded an entire library of phonetic sounds for future usage. It’s so thorough that it’s already been used, most recently in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot. Technically, Barrett could be the voice of Starfleet for eternity.

(2) UNDERSTANDING EPH. Karl-Johan Norén writes: “Not that it matters that much now that things are settled for another year, but I wrote down a walkthrough how EPH works: http://kjn.livejournal.com/65023.html Hopefully it can help fen understand better what EPH sets out to accomplish and how it goes about it.”

Right now I see a bit of pushback against the newly ratified E Pluribus Hugo rules (see eg Jed Hartman and Rachael Acks). In part this is because the test runs on prior Hugo nominations didn’t yield as good results as some may have hoped for, another might be that many fans do not feel they can exactly understand how EPH works. FPTP may be unfair, but it’s simple to understand. At its core, E Pluribus Hugo isn’t about selecting the works with the most “support”. It’s more about selecting the set of works that generates the most voter happiness, where happiness is defined as “getting a work onto the final ballot”. I think this framing has gone missing from the discussion. But in order to help with understanding, no, grokking how EPH works, here is my manually run example…

(3) PAWPROOF. In a comment, Lee calls our attention to software designed to detect when your SJW credentials are using your keyboard, which can then prevent inadvertent posting, expensive unintentional eBay purchases, or data destruction: Pawsense.

When cats walk or climb on your keyboard, they can enter random commands and data, damage your files, and even crash your computer. This can happen whether you are near the computer or have suddenly been called away from it.

PawSense is a software utility that helps protect your computer from cats. It quickly detects and blocks cat typing, and also helps train your cat to stay off the computer keyboard.

Every time your computer boots up, PawSense will automatically start up in the background to watch over your computer system.

Even while you use your other software, PawSense constantly monitors keyboard activity. PawSense analyzes keypress timings and combinations to distinguish cat typing from human typing. PawSense normally recognizes a cat on the keyboard within one or two pawsteps.

(4) FANHISTORY. Petréa Mitchell noted in a comment  that in honor of Star Trek’s anniversary, Revelist has a surprisingly well-researched article about early Star Trek fandom.

Long before becoming part of a fandom was as easy as starting a Tumblr account, female Trekkies (or Trekkers, as some older fans of the series prefer) not only dominated the “Star Trek” fan community but helped to create that community in the first place.

“It redefined the classic nerd to be much more inclusive. There were more women involved,” Stuart C. Hellinger, one of the organizers of the first ever fan-led “Star Trek” conventions, told Revelist. “The entire show was diverse in many ways, including the people that worked on the show. You had women writers and women story editors, and that wasn’t as common back then. A lot of different areas were opened up because of Gene [Roddenberry]’s vision, and a lot of the fannish community took that to heart, which is a very, very good thing.”

The framework that these women and men and wonderful weirdos put into place not only extended the legacy of “Star Trek” into what it is today, but became the basis for many aspects of fandom that modern people take for granted.

(5) EDITING AN ANTHOLOGY, STEP BY STEP. Joshua Palmatier, author, and editor of anthologies including Clockwork Universe, Temporally Out Of Order, and Aliens and Artifacts, has started a series of blog posts on “How to Create an Anthology.” The first entry is about finding a good concept.

This is the first of a series of blog posts that I intend to do in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, the small press that I founded in order to produce anthologies. It’s basically a behind-the-scenes look at the process, which will be covered in multiple parts. Obviously, this is only how I produce an anthology and there may be other roads to follow in order to produce one. Keep that in mind. So the first step in creating an anthology–at least a themed anthology, like the ones Zombies Need Brains creates–is to come up with a concept. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Ideas are a dime a dozen and can be found on every street corner. The problem is that not every idea will actually work as an anthology theme. There are some key aspects to the idea that need to be present in order for the anthology to work.

(6) MIDAMERICON II PROGRAM. I’m a big fan of con programming, which also seems the hardest part of the Worldcon to find out about afterwards. All those smart and creative people, all the different topics. Seems like once missed, it’s gone forever. Except for Jake Casella at PositronChicago blog who has posted recaps of numerous MACII panels. You’re a lifesaver, Jake!

(7) A DIALOGUE WITH GIBRALTAR APES. Kate Paulk scientifically proved the Worldcon is dead, and has always been, in a Mad Genius Club post “Worldcons and Hugos by the Numbers.” But standing out from the anti-Worldcon comments she elicited was Ben Yalow’s personal testimony about what he gets from his continued attendance. It made me want to stand up and cheer, as someone said in an old Frank Capra movie.

…The Worldcon was still full of those magic moments, despite being an enormous amount of work.

But watching a real astronaut accepting the Campbell for Andy Weir bubbling about how he got the science right was magic. And looking at the original typewritten correspondence between the previous KC Worldcon (in 1976) and Heinlein (the GoH that year). And walking into the exhibit hall, and seeing Fred, our 25 foot high inflatable astronaut — knowing it was named Fred because the funds to get it were donated by a Texas club in memory of Fred Duarte, a friend of mine for decades, and Vice-chair of the first Texas Worldcon, who died much too young last year. And having a video of a panel from 1976, with Jon Singer showing how a mimeo works by kneeling on a table and having the other panelists crank his arm. And watching the Business Meeting tie itself up in knots, and going through a long parliamentary routine, so as to let Kate Paulk ask Dave McCarty (this year’s Hugo Administrator) to state his opinion on the wisdom of EPH at a time when that question wasn’t in order (and, as expected, he was able to answer that he was opposed). And seeing Robert Silverberg at the Hugo ceremony, realizing that he’s been to every one of them since the first one in Philadelphia in 1953. And — I could go on for a long time, but won’t.

And watching, and being part of, a team of volunteers from around the world get together to make it all happen. We agreed on some things, we disagreed on others — but it all happened, and lots of people went home with their magic moments. And that’s what’s important to me.

(8) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT ALFIES. George R.R. Martin writes about his first Hugo Losers Party, and its latest sequel, in “Our Kansas City Revels”.

The night before, at the awards ceremony, I had lost two rockets (one to Larry Niven, one to Roger Zelazny, fwiw). The affair began as a modest little party in a modest little room, with some peanuts and cheese curls and whatever booze we had been able to scrounge from other parties. But as fate would have it, my room was next to the pool deck, which allowed us to overflow the confines of my double, which we soon did, to become the loudest, largest, and most memorable party of the con. Gardner Dozois was our ‘herald,’ announcing each guest as they appeared, and naming them either a winner or a loser. Losers were cheered and welcomed, winners were booed and cursed and pelted with peanuts… unless they told a good story about they were really losers. (Which Alfie Bester did most memorably). Thus did that first Losers Party pass into fannish legend.

Martin’s next post details the Alfie awards ceremony – “Losers and Winners”. Here’s part of his commentary about the Alfies given in the fan Hugo categories.

Aside from two ‘committee awards’ (I am the ‘committee’), I do not choose the Alfie winners. The fans do, with their nominations. The Alfies go to those who produced outstanding work in 2015, but were denied a spot on the ballot, and thus the chance to compete for the Hugo, by slating…..

One of my special ‘committee awards’ went to BLACK GATE, which had 461 nominations in the Fanzine category, second among all nominees and good for a place on the ballot. But Black Gate turned down the nomination, just as they did last year, to disassociate themselves from the slates. Turning down one Hugo nomination is hard, turning down two must be agony. Integrity like that deserves recognition, as does Black Gate itself. Editor John O’Neill was on hand to accept the Alfie.

Our Alfie for BEST FAN WRITER went to ALEXANDRA ERIN, whose 213 nominations led all non-slate nominees in this category. (I note that I myself got 103 nominations in the category, good for thirteenth place. What the hell, guys, really? I thank you, but… I know professionals have won in this category before, but I’m really more comfortable leaving the Fan Writer awards for fans).

JOURNEY PLANET, by James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia, had 108 nominations for BEST FANZINE, and took the Alfie in that category. Have to say, I loved Bacon’s enthusiasm (and he’s the calm, quiet, shy one of the two).

(9) NEW EPIC SUPPORTED BY PATREON. Two authors launch a vast fictional project, which they hope readers will back with regular contributions.

Authors Melissa Scott and Don Sakers had always wanted to collaborate on a project, but each attempt produced sprawling ideas and enormous casts of characters that couldn’t easily be confined to a conventional series of novels, much less to any shorter format. As electronic publishing opened up new formats and lengths, it became possible to imagine serial fiction again — and not just serial fiction, but the kind of serial fiction that would allow novelists to explore the sort of expansive, elaborate universes more commonly seen in comics. For the first time, Scott and Sakers could work at the scale their story demanded, without sacrificing character, setting, or idea.  What’s in the story? Pirates. Judges. Weird physics. Desperate refugees. Struggling colonists. Missing persons and a mystery ship. A quest for human origins in a pocket universe. A thousand individual stories that together create a much larger tale.

Thanks to websites like Patreon to handle payments, and open-source website building tools like Drupal, the sprawling serial space opera The Rule of Five launches in September 2016, taking full advantage of the enormous canvas available on the web. Each month, Scott and Sakers will post an episode of at least 2000 words — a solid short story. All subscribers will be able to see each month’s episode plus the previous episode. Subscribers at higher levels can get a quarterly ebook compilation, access to all past episodes, and even a print editions containing each completed Season, as well as public acknowledgement for their support. For readers joining the series in progress, quarterly and seasonal compilations will always be available to bring them up to speed.

Taking advantage of change, The Rule of Five offers a new kind of serial science fiction, borrowing structure from comics and series television, but firmly grounded in classic space opera. The prelude is open to all at http://donsakers.com/ruleof5/content/prelude. Readers can subscribe to The Rule of Five at http://patreon.com/ruleof5.

[Thanks to Rogers Cadenhead, JJ, Petréa Mitchell, Karl-Johan Norén and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark-kitteh.]