Pixel Scroll 1/18/18 It’s Pixels All the Way Down!

(1) ADAPTING L’ENGLE. “Realizing A Wrinkle in Time” behind-the-scenes featurette. Opens in theatres on March 9.

From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.


(2) TITANCON GOH. TitanCon 2018, to be held August 24-26 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has announced its first guest of honour – Kit Cox.

Memberships will be on sale soon! If you’d like to find out more about the venue, dates and Guest of Honour, please click the link below to our website.

Kit Cox is known to most as the author of the Union-verse novels but this move to the written word came after many years of working in illustration, concept design and fine art.

A regular cartoonist for national papers; as well as a prolific illustrator in many RPGs, magazines and periodicals, Kit is one of the many creative names who goes silently hand in hand with more public figures. Always happy to place pencil to paper and try new things, Kit’s love of horror movies led him to the film industry working on many concepts for screen monsters and makeup designs; aided by a long academic study of casualty simulation and anatomy for that added realism.

(3) HAYDEN PLANETARIUM. Upcoming programs at New York’s Hayden Planetarium include —

January 22 – Spend an evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson as he reviews headline stories in the Universe, drawn from breaking news in 2017.

February 5 – Join astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker as she discusses the structures and features of exoplanets, and their potential for harboring life.

(4) WISH UPON A STAR. Paul Gilster discusses interstellar travel without getting lost in “Pulsar Navigation: Mining Our Datasets” at Centauri Dreams.

Visualizing a Pulsar Navigation Network

Using millisecond X-ray pulsars (MSPs) for galaxy-spanning navigation raises more than a few questions, especially when we try to predict what an artificial pulsar navigation system might look like to outside observers. If we are willing to posit for a moment a Kardashev II-level civilization moving between stars at relativistic velocities, then we would make as one of our predictions that such a system would be suitable for navigation at such speeds. In following the predictive model of Vidal’s paper, we would then check through our voluminous pulsar data to see how such a prediction fares. The answer, in other words, is in our datasets, and demands analyzing the viability of pulsar navigation at high fractions of c.

To my knowledge, no one has yet done this, making Vidal’s paper a spur to such research. The key here is to make predictions to see which can be falsified. But a quick recap for those just coming in on the discussion. What Vidal (Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) offers is an examination of millisecond X-ray pulsars as navigational aids, of the sort we’re already beginning to exploit through experiments via NASA, Chinese efforts and studies at the European Space Agency.

(5) AN UNASSUMING AWARD. Mark Hepworth calls the judges of the Subjective Chaos (Kind of) Awards, “A group of book bloggers with an entirely trophy-free award but looks kinda fun anyway. I particularly like the ‘blurring the boundaries’ award.”

The writer of Bethan May Books introduces these sff awards with the admission, “Not really an award. There is no prize. Or a ceremony. I will be drinking though.”

Once upon a time, there was a book blogger, struggling to work out instagram and keep up with threads on twitter.

‘Just like me’ you may be thinking, ‘Who is Chuck Wendig anyway?’ right?

One day this hapless book blogger found herself invited to take part in an adventure of alarmingly increasing proportion.

The Wise Sage from The Middle Shelf declared ‘Come! Join us on our quest to discover the Best Books Released in 2017! There will be nominating, there will be shortlists, there will be endless twitter notifications the likes of which you’ve never seen before. But there will also be companionship, reknown, and most importantly; new books to read!’

And so our brave book blogger ventured forth into this new, daring fellowship. What perils await them as they forge through C’s categories? Will they conquer the towering mountains of books? And will their bonds prove strong enough to reach an agreement in the end?

These are The Subjective Chaos (Kind Of) Awards*

Do you dare follow the adventure?

Follow the link to their shortlist – your Mount TBR may grow!

(6) KEEPS ON TICKING. It’s awfully hard to get rid of them you know — “Amazon’s ‘The Tick’ Renewed for Second Season”.

The new season of 10 more episodes of the half-hour superhero series will premiere in 2019.

Amazon Studios has handed out a renewal to The Tick for a second season.

The new season of 10 more episodes of the half-hour superhero series will begin production in 2018 and is set to bow in 2019 exclusively on Prime Video in over 200 countries. The Tick is based on the acclaimed comic about an accountant who realizes his city is owned by a global supervillain long thought to be dead. He falls in with a strange blue superhero as he uncovers the conspiracy.


  • January 18, 1644 — John Winthrop documented the first known unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in North America.
  • January 18, 2008Cloverfield premiered. An Easter egg in the movie is a picture of the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in a side view mirror of a car.


  • Born January 18, 1882 — A.A. Milne


(10) COMMUNITY BUILDING. Chuck Wendig calls these “Assorted Thoughts On Impostor Syndrome, Gathered In A Bouquet”.

…When I got there, arriving a bit early for the event, I went into the green room and I was alone.

Except for Neil Gaiman.

Neil Fucking Gaiman. Good Omens! Sandman! The Ocean at the End of the Lane! Stardust and Coraline and American Gods and Neverwhere and…

(C’mon. Dark poet, elegantly mussed hair, you know him, you love him.)

And I stood there for a moment, utterly frozen. He was, if I recall, looking at his phone.

And I said: “I can go.”

Because I thought, I should leave him alone! I don’t belong here. THIS IS RARE AIR AND I DO NOT DESERVE TO BREATHE IT.

And then he Tasered me and called security.

*checks notes*

Wait, no.

He smiled warmly and invited me in and was friendly and delightful and made me feel like I belonged. The other authors welcomed me too and it was awesome, even if I (even now!) still feel like a stowaway on that boat.

As writers we so often have the feeling like we are a Scooby-Doo monster about to be unmasked. I don’t think you ever really lose that.

BUT — and here is a vital part of the lesson — you can help diminish that feeling in other writers by making them feel welcome and a part of the tribe.

Recognize other writers feel like impostors too — and you can combat the feeling in yourself by helping them combat it when you welcome them. In this, community blooms.

You’ll never lose it. But you can help others feel like they belong. And when community grows you feel less alone

(11) THE JOY OF PULP. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler wishes Betty White a happy 41st birthday (for no particular reason at all) before taking up the latest F&SF — “[January 17, 1963] Things of Beauty (February 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.

One entity that has not stopped aging, and whose aging I have whinged upon quite frequently, is Fantasy and Science Fiction, a magazine now in its 14th year and third editor.  Editor Avram Davidson has given me a decent issue this time around, for which I am grateful.  See if you enjoy the February 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction as much as I did…

Counter Security, by James White

Ah, now this is what I read sf for.  This largely autobiographical piece features a young, underemployed night watchman in a British department store who must solve the mystery of (what appears to be) a spiteful, peppermint chewing, floor-spitting, Black-hating skulker before the staff quit en masse from worry and fear.  I finished this novelette in one sitting on the beach at Waimea as the sun rose, and I’m not sure a more perfect half hour was ever spent.  Five stars.

(12) SAY CHEESE. Pictures of “DNA in action”: “Chemistry ‘Van Gogh’ could help with cancer”.

Human DNA contains the genetic instructions for building and running the human body.

It is RNA polymerase III’s job to come along and read the genetic instruction manual.

The team at the Institute of Cancer Research used a technique called cryo-electron microscopy, which won the 2017 Nobel Prize for chemistry for revolutionising biochemistry.

They purified RNA polymerase III, immersed it in water and then rapidly froze it.

This preserves the microscopic structure of objects and even captures them mid-movement.

A beam of electrons is then used to take images from lots of angles, which are then built up into a detailed 3D image.

Dr Alessandro Vannini, who published the findings in the journal Nature, told the BBC: “You don’t get the structure all at once, you just see individual strokes and it takes a while to see the big picture.

“It was definitely a Van Gogh.”

The researchers caught the molecular machinery binding to DNA, unzipping it and reading the information in the genetic code.

(13) FIRST SCAN. Neither snow, nor ice, nor gloom of night will keep these satellites from their appointed rounds — “ICEYE’s ‘suitcase space radar’ returns first image”. Works through clouds and at night, and is cheap enough that they could put up large numbers of satellites, allowing the same area to be photographed several times a day.

Finnish start-up ICEYE has released a “first light” image from its novel radar satellite, which was launched to orbit last Friday.

The picture depicts a region of Alaska incorporating Noatak National Preserve.

ICEYE is taking a radical new approach to satellite radar, shrinking the size of what have traditionally been big, power-hungry spacecraft into a volume similar to that of a suitcase.

The Helsinki-based firm plans to launch a large network of these platforms.

This will enable multiple radar images a day to be acquired over the same location on Earth – a service that has not previously been available.

(14) QUEASINE. And you thought crottled greeps sounded strange—the BBC reports “In Iceland, food is a challenge, not a meal”. Warning for graphic food descriptions!

Bringing people up-close to the source of their food is admirably rational, but that rotten fish seemed anything but. And as I ate my way down to and across capital city Reykjavik, eating more rotten, sour and dung-smoked foods, it occurred to me that Icelandic food culture was not only odd, but possibly unique. Though eating cheaper and often less-obviously appetizing parts of animals and plants is common, every other national cuisine I’d tried took pride in how good they were able to make their calf stomach (Bulgarian shkembe), sheep’s brain (Moroccan mokh mchermel) or cows’ tails (Jamaican oxtail stew). But Icelanders like Gísli, it seems, revel in how bad their traditional food is.

(15) IMPERVIOUS DIGESTIONS. New Tiptree Fellow Ineke Chen-Meyer is noted for nonfiction pieces like this one from 2016 — “Which Secret Superpower Do All Historical Fantasy Heroes Have?”

Nope, the most freakish physical attribute of the historical fantasy protagonist isn’t their catlike vertical leap or ability to absorb multiple blows to the head without CTE. It’s their immunity to death by diarrhoea. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly okay with trading historicity for a compelling story. It’s just that… well, if you specialise in killing off vast numbers of named characters, I’m surprised none of them have ever suddenly died of a communicable disease, throwing a spanner into the works of whatever elaborately engineered plan the rest of their faction had come up with. I know, it’s not as dramatic as a stabbing. But it’s also a rich, mostly-untapped source of dramatic irony: you can be the best in every aspect it’s possible for a person to control—the perfect warrior, the cleverest sage—and still get undone in the most unglamorous, most human of ways.

(16) PLUTOCRAT’S PICKS. From CNBC: “Bitcoin backer Cameron Winklevoss shares his 2 favorite science fiction books”. Not these two —

When a Reddit user asked if Winklevoss has read two other science fiction novels, “Cryptonomicon” or “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, Winklevoss responded he’s checked those off of his list too.

(17) SUIT UP. Marvel says you’re invited to the Wedding of the Century – X-Men Gold.

(18) TOMB RAIDER. MGM has released Tomb Raider – Official Trailer #2.

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Tomb Raider is the story that will set a young and resolute Lara Croft on a path toward becoming a global hero. The film stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl) in the lead role, under the direction of Roar Uthaug (The Wave), with Oscar-winner Graham King (The Departed) producing under his GK Films banner. The film¹s production begins on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the wildly popular videogame franchise from Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal.


[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Will R. and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

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61 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/18/18 It’s Pixels All the Way Down!

  1. 15) I think it was Warhammer RPG that had a table you could roll to see what physical disfigurations you had, like boils or running sores. Just to make it more realistic. I do not think we ever rolled on that table, it didn’t feel that heroic.

  2. Not Fifth.

    But Title Credit woohoo!

    The Tick’s about an accountant? Isn’t that like saying that Iron Man is about an AI named Jarvis, or Spider-Man is about an elderly Aunt, or Batman is about a butler named Alfred, or Superman is about a reporter named Lois. Actually that last one might be worth a go.

    (14) QUEASINE.
    Cool article. I’m fascinated by traditional foods where little to nothing is wasted. The whole nose-to-tail fad is actually a return to more frugal practices of earlier times when it took a lot more effort to get food. I’m all for it. Though to be fair, unlike (it seems) these Icelandic dishes, most traditional dishes made from less desirable parts of animals tend to be delicious too.

  3. @ Soon Lee: (6) is a pretty accurate description of this incarnation of The Tick on TV though it seems to assume the comic story is told the same way (it isn’t). At least for the first half-season Arthur is very much front and centre – the main protagonist, though not the narrator – and his issues with The Terror drive him and much of the story. The Tick blunders into Arthur’s story and just won’t leave.

  4. Okay, 15 genuinely cracked me up. I can’t wait to find stories like that.

    I do remember a Regency romance in which Our Hero was terrified of bees because his father died of a bee sting (given the period, they didn’t understand that it was an allergic reaction), but that’s not quite the same.

  5. 14) I mildly dispute the assumption that tripe, oxtail, and brains are “less-obviously appetizing” foods. And, now I think about it, it’s interesting that the examples given are Bulgarian, Moroccan, and Jamaican, and not French or English.

  6. “TANSTAAFP – There Ain’t Such A Thins As A Fixed Pixel” (mostly because everyone knows that pixels scroll)

  7. I didn’t know oxtail soup was specifically Jamaican – as a British person, I’ve had gallons of the stuff. I’ve also seen some strange reactions by Americans to delicacies like steak and kidney pie… not to mention the traditional lobscouse which me mam used to make. There’s nothing actually wrong with traditional British cuisine, you know – most of the culinary horror stories I’ve eaten have just been down to errors in preparation, which can happen in any sort of cookery. (We won’t go into how my grandmother cooked bacon and eggs, for example.)

  8. (We won’t go into how my grandmother cooked bacon and eggs, for example.)

    Hard-boiled in the shell wouldn’t be too bad, if only it were the eggs….

  9. Icelanders have a unique way of seeing that everything gets eaten. They sell the rotten stuff to tourists as “traditional’

  10. @Steve Wright There’s nothing actually wrong with traditional British cuisine, you know

    Counterpoint: “Meat in Batter” from the Penguin Cookery Book, or Mrs Beeton’s suggested times for boiling vegetables. (12 to 18 minutes for asparagus!) But I’ve just been reading a couple of American cookbooks from the 1960s that are at least as horrific in their own way.

  11. I’ve got nothing against hard-boiled eggs. It only takes a tap or two with a teaspoon to get the shell off…. I’m not sure how to describe what my grandmother did to the eggs. I suppose “baked” might be the closest descriptor.

  12. MrDalliard and Soon Lee – There’s also a question hanging over whether The Tick is somehow a manifestation of Arthur’s subconscious. It’s not really dwelled on but The Tick is primarily about an accountant oddly enough

  13. @15: good points (including the chart of death causes in Game of Thrones. One quibble: the author doesn’t understand what it means to weaponise a disease. And I wonder how the incidence of disease varies between the privileged classes (and their hangers-on — ISTM that these together account for a larger-than-statistical fraction of fantasy characters) and the rest of the population. This isn’t automatic — there’s a tomb in Dunblane of three high-born sisters who were the only fatalities at a banquet, probably because they were served something special — but I’d love to see numbers.

    @Soon Lee: the nose-to-tail bit is one of the more realistic elements in Quillifer (so far — I’m less than half-way done); I was struck by the description of the complete use of a butchered animal, even trying to kill it in a way that the blood is usable.

  14. Meredith Moment:

    Stranger In a Strange Land is on sale as an ebook for $1.99 at the usual suspects.

    The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy is also $1.99, certainly at Amazon and I think also in other locations.

    The Robot Who Looks Like Me by Robert Sheckley is $0.99 at Amazon

    Here in 3817, our feline overlords have taken away our flying cars.

  15. 15) I think it was Warhammer RPG that had a table you could roll to see what physical disfigurations you had, like boils or running sores.

    GURPS Goblins had several pages of such tables, and a very fine read they are to.

  16. 15) It’s historical, not fantasy, but one major character in Dorothy Dunnett’s King Hereafter did succumb (off-screen) to the flux.

    In M.A.R. Barker’s original Tekumel campaign, I believe one of the imperial heirs (Eselne, an NPC) died similarly; if I’m remembering the story correctly, I believe it was the result of a couple of really unsuccessful saving throw rolls.

  17. Mrs Beeton’s suggested times for boiling vegetables. (12 to 18 minutes for asparagus!)

    American cookbooks were the same way – but when you find out they were dealing with “mature” vegetables, it makes a lot more sense. The veggies we eat now would have been considered to be too young to eat then (they called the maize that we like “green corn” – it was underripe by their standards).

  18. Oh! 15 again — The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Lots of important characters dying of plague in that one!

  19. @P J Evans American cookbooks were the same way – but when you find out they were dealing with “mature” vegetables, it makes a lot more sense.

    Up to a point. Asparagus is something of an outlier, but the cooking times for (say) brussels sprouts, young spring cabbage, or broccoli all suggest a preference for soft-boiled veg.

  20. Also in Meredith Moments: MacAvoy’s Book of Kells, $1.99 at Kobo, and presumably at the other Usual Suspects.

  21. Plenty of snow, ice and glo m of ni t here, though no Mrs Cake (don’t arsk) or horrible green things with teeth.

    Sovereign remedy for the glom is:

    Two fingers of whisky
    Slice of lemon studded with a few cloves
    Slice of ginger
    Bit of cinnamon stick
    Star anise
    Couple of teaspoons honey
    Top up with hot water…

  22. I particularly like the ‘blurring the boundaries’ award.

    I think any awards process which has both a science fiction award and a fantasy award should also have this. (Though from the finalists I know, they seem more concerned with the boundary between genre and mainstream.)

  23. We recently started watching sense8 and got to ep 1×04, “What’s Going On” last night. We were *blown away* — Mr Dr shed real tears of joy, and I find it *scandalous* that it never made the Hugo ballot. Does anyone know if there’s a fandom consensus about which ep from S2 to nominate for the Hugo this time around?

  24. @IanP: that reminds me of my grandmother’s cold remedy: hot tea with honey, lemon, and “a good slug of whisky.”

  25. @Doctor Science — I’m sad to admit I haven’t watched S2 yet, but on my ballot, at least, the entirety of S1 got a BDLF nomination.

  26. @Steve Wright
    Oxtail soup is pretty common in Germany as well, both canned and hopefully made from scratch in restaurants. It’s also no problem finding liver at the butcher’s and in restaurants, though kidneys have gone out of style. In older cookbooks, you can also find recipes involving all sorts of offal. Plus, Brägenwurst or brain sausage used to be a North German specialties until new regulations to stop the spread of BSE did away with it.

    We eat lobscouse, too, in North Germany, but then it is a traditional sailor’s meal.

  27. @Doctor Science – That particular episode was on my ballot (just double checked). And I loathe that song. My reaction to the episode was pretty much the same as yours sounds.

  28. @Joe H but one major character in Dorothy Dunnett’s King Hereafter did succumb (off-screen) to the flux.

    “Flux” — had to look that one up. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

    An abnormally copious flowing of blood, excrement, etc. from the bowels or other organs; a morbid or excessive discharge. spec. An early name for dysentery; also red flux, flux of blood, bloody flux

    I’m starting to understand why authors leave this feature of life in Olden Tymes out . . .

  29. “They sell the rotten stuff to tourists as “traditional’”

    Ah, like Foster’s or Lone Star beer.

  30. I’m not sure if people have seen this yet on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SFFCGuild/status/9533931983232819200

    The Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild: Apparently a future 501c Organization’s organizers jumped the gun putting up their website and Twitter Account before the site was finished.

    Bonus: It’s built on the premise of bring Sci-Fi back to its roots when it was “good” and “without politics”.

  31. @various,

    Confession: I haven’t seen the new version of the Tick and had assumed (given the title) that it would be about the Tick.

  32. Lanodantheon – it was discussed here a fair bit two or three days ago. I found out about it on twitter then and had a look this evening here for any more details. So if you go back and have a look on Wednesday or so you can find information.

  33. For what it’s worth, You Want a War? is going to be my personal pick for Sense8 on the Hugo ballot this year.

  34. Thoughts on comments: Historical books also don’t consider that you could only get locally grown fruits and vegetables in season and preserving food was much harder.

  35. bookworm1398 on January 19, 2018 at 4:03 pm said:
    They certainly had pickling and salting (those go all the way back); drying was iffy in a lot of climates, and canning was limited before reliable jars and seals.

  36. There was a reason November used to be called Blotmonath (Blood-Month): it was when you slaughtered the animals you wouldn’t be able to feed over the winter.

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