Pixel Scroll 12/2/16 Scrolls, Mr. Pixel, Zillions Of ’Em!

(1) I ROCK, I RAN, EUPHRASIA. Amazing Stories’ Jack Clemons answers the question “Killer Asteroids: Can We Stop Them?”

In an earlier post I talked about the ongoing risk of a sizable asteroid impacting Earth, causing atomic bomb-like destruction, and the still-nascent technologies we’ve developed so far just to track asteroids. So an obvious question is, if we did discover one headed for a bullseye with Earth, and if we had enough time to react, what could we do about it?

The answer at this point is: not much. In the words of NASA administrator Charles Bolden, “If it’s coming in three weeks, pray.” The difficulty comes from attempting to stop, slow or even deflect a massively destructive boulder, which might range in girth anywhere from the size of a tractor-trailer to a planetoid hundreds of miles in diameter, traveling at 40,000 miles per hour.

That’s not to say no one is worrying about it. In fact, several of NASA’s finest have given the problem a lot of thought and so far they’ve come up with three options they’ve labeled “Nuke”, “Kick” or “Tug”.

(2) RING OUT. Moshe Feder calls it bad news for Rob Hansen and everyone who loves bells. Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the UK’s oldest manufacturing business, founded 1570 – and reportedly where fanhistorian Rob Hansen works – is is closing down. The announcement earned the business a long profile in Spitalfields Life.

It is with deep regret that I announce the closure of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the world’s most famous bell foundry and Britain’s oldest manufacturing company. Below you can read my interview with Alan Hughes, the last in a line of bell founders stretching back to 1420, who will retire next year at sixty-eight years old when the foundry closes in May 2017 and the building is sold – meanwhile, negotiations for the future ownership of the business are underway.

Feder says, “I hope someone buys and saves it, even if it has to move.”

(3) MURDER MOST FOUR. Dave Langford’s Ansible Editions has published an ebook edition of Yvonne Rousseau’s The Murders at Hanging Rock (first published in 1980). Mystery multiplied!

murders-at-hanging-rock

What really happened at Hanging Rock on St Valentine’s Day in 1900?

Picnic at Hanging Rock is the source for this erudite literary entertainment, which will be enjoyed and appreciated by all scholars and lovers of unsolved mysteries. In The Murders at Hanging Rock, Yvonne Rousseau offers four logical, carefully worked-out but thoroughly tongue-in-cheek explanations of the fate of the missing picnickers from Appleyard College.

Now reprinted with a foreword by John Taylor which casts yet more light on the subject, The Murders at Hanging Rock is an essential and amusing companion to Lady Lindsay’s classic story.

  • • •

In 1987, the long-suppressed Chapter 18 of Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock was published as The Secret of Hanging Rock, a chapbook to which Yvonne Rousseau contributed a further ingenious commentary which has been added (with a new Preface of its own) to the Ansible Editions ebook of The Murders at Hanging Rock.

(4) RETROSPECTIVE. Randy Byers, just about the nicest person in fanzine fandom, looks back on his first year of fighting a cancer that tore his life apart and reassembled it in a new way.

A lot has happened in the last year and I’m hopeful that there’s more amazement to come, but I thought it was worth marking that a year ago I walked through a door into an examination room and exited a stranger in a strange land that had such people in it.

(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #7. The seventh of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed novel and half a pound of specially roasted coffee beans, from Leah Cutter.

Today’s auction is for a signed copy of THE RAVEN AND THE DANCING TIGER, and half a pound of specially roasted coffee beans, both from author and coffee geek Leah Cutter.

About the Book:

Peter worries about just three things: dancing, finding a girlfriend, and hiding his raven soul.

Peter is a raven warrior, an ancient race known for their assassination and fighting skills. Through secrecy and strict teaching, they’ve learned to cope with the modern world.

When Peter meets Tamara, he knows she’s different. Special. He doesn’t learn until too late that she has secrets too. Tamara is a tiger warrior. And her kind are only interested in killing his kind.

About the Coffee:

Leah will be in touch with the winner to determine what type of roast you want. (Light? Dark? Espresso? Uncertain blend? Decaf? Etc…)

(6) HARLAN IS #1. Digital Trends reviewed all the iterations of Star Trek and picked the top episode from each: “From time travel to Tribbles: Here are the best Star Trek episodes from every series”.

Over its five decades, no science-fiction property has had more of an effect on the genre than Star Trek. Five television series, an animated cartoon, and a dozen movies have captivated Trekkies for generations. While the show has occasionally produced some kitschy dialogue and plot lines that are cringe-worthy, there are many episodes that withstand the test of time as some of the greatest sci-fi adventures ever put on a screen.

In preparation for the forthcoming new series from CBS, Star Trek: Discovery, we glossed hundreds of episodes from each live-action series and picked some of our favorites for you to enjoy, whether you’re new to the franchise or a life-long fan. We’re sure this will cause a lot of discussion, but if you really want to go where no sci-fi adventure has gone before, here are the 20 episodes you’ll want on your watch list.

Star Trek: The Original Series

Set in the 23rd century, Star Trek: TOS follows the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise, with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer and half-Vulcan Spock, the ever cantankerous ship’s Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelly), Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols), Sulu (George Takei), and the rest of the gang, alongside a host of alien species.

The winner

Season 1, episode 28: The City on the Edge of Forever

The final episode of the original series’ first season gets our nod for its solid storyline. Some of the episodes of TOS seemed to suffer from gimmicky — if not corny — plots, but Roddenberry and his team thread the needle well in this one. In fact, it was good enough to receive the 1968 Hugo (the Emmys of sci-fi) for Best Dramatic Presentation.

In this episode, Kirk and Spock must travel back in time to go after McCoy, who, in a fit of delusion following an accidental overdose of Cordrazine, transports down to the nearest planet. This planet is home to a time portal, and McCoy enters the portal. The incident alters the time line, causing the Enterprise and the entire Federation to disappear. Kirk and Spock bargain with the “Guardian of Forever” to enter the portal, which takes them back to 1930s New York City. What unfolds is a story about timelines that might have been, a device later used by J.J. Abrams in the series’ cinematic reboot.

(7) IT’S CONTAGIOUS. Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay was named to AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2016.

Today, AudioFile Magazine named THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER as one of the BEST AUDIOBOOKS of 2016. Took our breath away. We wanted to share this amazing news with you, because without you, there would have been no audiobook. There are thousands of books produced every year, and it is deeply moving that CITY was included on this prestigious list. And that brings us back to thanking all of you again and again for your outpouring of love and financial support. Bless you one and all during this Holiday Season.

(8) SACHS OBIT. Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has died reports the BBC.

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, who played hapless Spanish waiter Manuel in the BBC sitcom, has died aged 86, his family has confirmed.

Sachs, who had been suffering from dementia for four years, died on 23 November and was buried on Thursday.

On his role of Manuel, he told the BBC in 2014: “It was just a part I was playing and people seemed to laugh.”

….Manuel was one of the most imitated comedy characters of the 1970s.

The waiter, who famously hailed from Barcelona, often said little more than the word “Que?” to generate laughs, but arguably his most famous line was “I know nothing”.

Fawlty Towers co-writer Booth, who played hotel maid Polly Sherman in the series, said Sachs “spoke to the world with his body as well as his mangled English.”

She said he was a “universally beloved figure”, saying it was “a privilege and an education to work with him”.

Writing in the Guardian, she also compared the pairing of Cleese and Sachs to that of Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy.

(9) CARTOON AMERICAN. Gizmodo’s Casey Chan thinks this is true: “Why Bugs Bunny Is the Ultimate Animated American Icon”.

Mickey Mouse is obviously more well-known than Bugs Bunny. But there’s a kitschy globalization aspect to Mickey that Bugs has somehow managed to avoid ,even though they both served as mascots for their companies (Disney and Warner Bros., respectively). How did Bugs do it?

Kaptain Kristian breaks down the difference between Mickey and Bugs as such: Bugs is cool, slick, funny, defiant, and in control. Mickey is tame, inoffensive, and, well, corporate as hell. Bugs is who most Americans want to be (even if we’re meek li’l Mickeys inside), Mickey is just a safe brand that gets stamped around the world. And while Bugs is a character, Mickey is a company.

Instead of running down Mickey Mouse, Chan needs to justify picking Bugs over Homer Simpson. The aggressively credulous Homer is our neighbor, our nightmare, and – if never to be admitted – sometimes ourselves.

(10) INDIE OR NOT TO INDIE. When asked “Why even have a publisher?”, Fynbospress gave this answer in a comment at Mad Genius Club:

For us, the value of a publisher is as follows:

1.) Exploitation of rights that would otherwise lay fallow. Namely, audiobook, because I personally don’t care for the medium, and therefore am crippled when it comes to trying to put out a good quality product.

2.) additional fanbase. Publishers like Baen and Castalia have cultivated a fanbase that is willing to buy a new author based solely on the publisher – and whether you’re a newcomer to the field or trying to expand into a new market, these are additional sales and market penetration above what we can easily reach. (Note; do research on your publisher. Nobody ever says “Oh, boy, I can’t wait for the next Penguin Putnam release!” So the majors are actually less attractive this way.)

3.) additional marketing efforts. Again, due diligence is required, but if the publisher is willing to commit to pushing your book, that’s more work the author doesn’t have to do. If the press is big enough that your editor has to run this past a marketing department, then it’s critical to get this in the contract.

4.) Someone else to carry the ball. We’ve had some interesting medical adventures over the last couple years. The ability to hand a manuscript off, and not have to do anything else (even though the publisher did ask us for approval / suggestions on cover and blurb), was the difference between getting Brings the Lightning out or not. And when we’re more concerned with the surgeon saying “Unfortunately, due to shrapnel in his body, we can’t put your husband in the MRI to see if complications X or Y will ensue…” having a publisher who will get a royalty check to us is much nicer than having 70% of nothing.

Note that these reasons are very individual to us and our circumstances; they do not necessarily apply to all authors.

(11) AWARD FOR NON-ALTERNATE HISTORY. Pornokitsch tells us that once upon a time there was such a thing as “The Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize”.

Something else I’ve learned this week – the existence of “The Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize”. This was proudly emblazoned on the spine of Zemindar, which I promptly bought for £2. See, awards do sell books!

Sponsored by Corgi Books and The Bodley Head, the Georgette Heyer Historical Fiction Prize ran from 1978 to 1989. It was for discovering “new talent in historical fiction writing” – and not solely Heyer’s stomping ground of the Regency period, as shown by the list of winners below….

There’s a great article about the prize on Reading the Pastwhere Sarah Johnson has done a terrific job of piecing together the award’s history.

(12) RIOT BEGINS IN 3, 2, 1…. Peter Burfeind pokes all those sensitive places in an article for The Federalist, “Aliens Don’t Exist, But They Tell Us A Lot About Atheists”.

In his movie “Expelled,” Ben Stein challenged Richard Dawkins about the remarkable phenomenon of life on planet earth: how could life arise given the sheer magnitude of its improbability? Dawkins suggested aliens possibly deposited life on earth.

Dawkins, we recall, is an atheist, a scientist directed only by provable facts. Yet he’s willing to posit the source of earthly life to a concept lacking any evidence.

Of course, Dawkins is guilty of nothing more than a thought experiment, something great scientists do all the time. Accordingly, a galaxy without aliens would be like a valley producing no life decades after a massive volcano covered it with volcanic ash—eventually some seed will find its way into the hard crevices, and though difficult, life will find a way.

(13) BACK TO THE BIG BANG. Beware – CinemaBlend tells “What Christopher Lloyd Did On The Big Bang Theory”.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory.

The Big Bang Theory has become known, in its 10 seasons on the air, for enlisting the help of several guest stars to enhance the stories the show tells of the group of funny friends we’ve all come to know and love. It was announced a few weeks ago that tonight’s episode, titled “The Property Division Collision,” would feature a guest appearance from iconic actor Christopher Lloyd, but we didn’t know who he’d be playing or how his character would feature into the main plot. Episode 10 of The Big Bang Theory saw Christopher Lloyd playing Theodore, Penny and Leonard’s new oddball roommate.

(14) FOR AN INCREASE IN CHRISTMAS CHEER.  The Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar podcasts run from thirty seconds to five minutes (so far).

Advent Calendar 2016 – Day 1

Whimsy, silliness and festive cheer! The Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar begins with a card and gift from the Harper Voyager Publishing Director Natasha Bardon!

Advent Calendar 2016 – Day 2

Day 2 of the Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar features a card and gift from Sebastien de Castell. A song is mentioned in the episode that you can listen to here.

(15) IT GETS VERSE. A magnificent effort by Peer Sylvester: http://file770.com/?p=32198&cpage=2#comment-513386

I scrolled myself today
To see if I still file
I boxticked on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The pixel tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to scroll it all away
But I remember everything

(Rest of the day: Try to get the song out of my head again)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]