Pixel Scroll 1/28/18 I Say We Take Off And Pixel The Entire Scroll From Orbit – It’s The Only Way To Be Sure

(1) DUFF DEADLINE. Down Under Fan Fund nominations for the 2018 race close January 31.  If you’re interested, or have someone else lined up, hop to it!

Nominations are now open for a Down Under Fan Fund delegate from Australia or New Zealand to travel either to San Jose, California, USA for the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, 16–20 August 2018, or to other major conventions in North America in 2018.

(2) EARLY COSPLAY AND THE LA WORLDCON OF 1946. SyFy Wire’s Carol Pinchefsky goes beyond the Ackerman/Douglas collaboration in “Firsts: The first cosplay took place at the first-ever con… in 1939”, drawing on other anecdotes collected by John. L. Coker III, sf historian and editor of the nonfiction book Tales of the Time Travelers: The Adventures of Forrest J. Ackerman and Julius Schwartz:

Coker interviewed other First Fans for Tales of the Time Travelers. Author and fan Len J. Moffatt discussed yet another “first” … the first recorded cosplay fail, which took place at the fourth Worldcon, in 1946:

“[Fan] Dale Hart [pictured above] was an excellent Gray Lensman in a silver-gray form-fitting costume like the Astounding cover by Rogers. The problem was that it was so tight that he could not sit down or dare to bend over.”

Moffatt may also have created another “first” at Pacificon I, the first cosplay routine:

“While at Slan Shack on Bixel Street earlier, I had borrowed some of Myrtle’s green make-up, combed my hair over my ears and turned up my jacket collar to become a comical vampire. I made a better impression earlier when friends carried me into a meeting hall and deposited my rigid body on some lined-up folding chairs. I lay there a long time with eyes closed and hands folded on my chest listening to the wondering remarks of passers-by.”

(3) WRATHFUL SPEECH. Middle-Earth Reflections documents “His sharp tongue or Fëanor’s talent to insult”:

Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’s eldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.

(4) BESPOKE AWARD. Charles Payseur unveils he fifth and final category winners: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2017! The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” Sippy for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF”

The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” 

Sippy Awards for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF

What does it mean? Well, part of the point of this category is…I’m not sure. These are stories that defy conventional definitions and categorization. These are the ones that slip between genres and expectations. They’re…well, a lot of them are weird, but beautiful. Haunting, but fun. Deep and complex and brilliant in the ways they innovate and inspire. So without further delay…

(5) LEADING BY EXAMPLE. Lisa Goldstein’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin tells how much she meant to girls who wanted to write science fiction and fantasy:

…Her characters were so real and rounded they became people you wanted to know.  She wrote beautifully, in a field where most writing ranged from serviceable to awkward.  And she was not just smart but wise, someone who could get to the heart of a subject with a few well-chosen words.  I was looking through my copy of The Language of the Night this week and found this: “Fantasy is true, of course.  It isn’t factual, but it is true.”

So I began to think that I could actually do this science-fiction thing.  After all, here was a woman who was, IMHO, doing it better than any male writer.  (And around the same time there were also Joanna Russ and Kate Wilhelm and Carol Emshwiller — and James Tiptree, or course, but we didn’t know her secret then.)  She gave me, and any number of other girls reading science fiction in those years, the courage to try….

(6) TV ARCHEOLOGY. Echo Ishii, in “SF Obscure: Planet of the Apes TV”, discusses two TV adaptations, one live, one animated.

The live action TV series has two new astronauts stranded on future/parallel earth.  In this version, there are human villages-not quite as primitive as the original movies movies-ruled over by Apes as governors and guards. The two astronauts are assisted by another Ape who believes humans are capable of more. It’s a run of the mill action adventure with the planet of the apes spin. Entertaining, but not outstanding. It was, unfortunately, an expensive show and cancelled after 14 episodes.

(7) BEST OF 2016. Greg Hullender notes Rocket Stack Rank is continuing their analysis of the best science fiction and fantasy short fiction from 2016. In the latest installment, they turn their attention to  —“2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Authors”.

Out of 602 authors, fully 74% had only one story published in our survey of 887 stories, so we’re picking from a huge diversity of authors.

On the other hand, there’s remarkable consistency among our pool of recommenders: 72% of recommendations went to the top 20% of authors, and 40% got no recommendations at all. It’s true that different reviewers have different opinions, but it’s also true that there’s a sort of broad consensus around who the best authors are.

(8) WHOHIKER. Andrew Hickey reviews Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, the book by James Goss based on a possible Doctor Who film script by Douglas Adams. It is a positive review with a caveat:

So you can be fairly sure that if you’re the kind of person who would even vaguely consider maybe reading a book like this, you’ll come away having read a book that at least matches your expectations, and maybe exceeds them.

(9) NOT APOLITICAL. How some people were spared persecution in WWII. The thread starts here –

And here’s one of the reasons you’ll want to read it:

(10) SMITH OBIT. Mark E. Smith, the leader and singer/songwriter of influential British post-punk band The Fall, died January 24 at the age of 60. In his last interview a reporter for The Guardian asked whether he saw the most recent Blade Runner since he was a “big fan” of Philip K. Dick movies. As usual, Smith was not exactly diplomatic:

I think the original Blade Runner is the most obscene film ever made, I fucking hated it. The Man in the High Castle is one of my favourite books; how they fucked that TV show up I don’t know. It gets blander and blander. In the book the level of comprehension of that world is fucking astounding, in the show it’s just everybody going around normally except they’ve got swastika armbands on. The only good Philip K Dick film is Total Recall, it’s faithful to the book. Arnie gets it. I was physically sick watching A Scanner Darkly, it was like an episode of Cheers painted over except they all smoke dope and imagine women with no clothes on.


  • January 28, 1986 — At 11:38 a.m. EST the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, then explodes.


  • Born January 28, 1959 – Frank Darabont
  • Born January 28, 1981 – Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies.


  • Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian all saw what happens when a young writer picks sf, in Non Sequitur.
  • John King Tarpinian found a mock terrifying surprise in Lio.

(14) OKORAFOR SAGA. NPR’s Amal el-Mohtar says “Binti’s Story Is Finished — But Don’t Expect Completion”.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy is now complete: The Night Masquerade is the final instalment in a series she’s described as “African girl leaves home. African girl returns home. African girl becomes home.” It’s a beautiful proposed structure, a Hero’s Journey that rings truer for me than Joseph Campbell’s, resonating deeply with my experiences of diaspora, roots, and community. Binti left her Himba family on Earth in order to travel to Oomza University, far beyond the stars; she left Oomza in an attempt to manage her trauma and find herself again in the deserts of her home; and there, in the desert, she incorporated new revelations about her history into the anthology of herself, before being shocked into an awareness of impending doom.

(15) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? NPR’s Scott Tobias on “‘The Maze Runner: The Death Cure’: Nice Guy Finishes, At Last”:

The Maze Runner is the rare series that has improved with each installment, expanding beyond the organic pen of the first film into a bigger and more thrillingly realized science fiction sandbox. Though its young leads are mostly blah, the franchise has steadily accumulated character actors to liven things up, like Gillen, Esposito, and Pepper in the second film and now Walton Goggins in the third as the deformed leader of the Cranks. While Ball tries for too much in the needlessly protracted finale, he’s supremely confident in staging the action sequences, which usually rely on a meticulously orchestrated set of circumstances.

(16) IT’S NOT FICTION. BBC reports about “Of Mice and Old Men: Silicon Valley’s quest to beat ageing”.

To understand what’s happening in the tech world today, you need to look back to the mid-1800s, when a Frenchman named Paul Bert made a discovery that was as gruesome as it was fascinating.

In his experiment, rodents were quite literally stitched together in order to share bloodstreams. Soon after he found the older mice started showing signs of rejuvenation: better memory, improved agility, an ability to heal more quickly. In later years, researchers at institutions like Stanford would reinforce this work.

The extraordinary technique became known as parabiosis, and forms the basis of efforts at Alkahest, a California start-up that is banking on being able to apply those rejuvenative effects to people, rather than mice. It’s an idea so fantastical it wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Silicon Valley, the HBO send-up of the start-up scene.

(17) HELPING WATER TAKE SHAPE. An article about digital effects in The Shape of Water: “How visual effects studio Mr. X helped create ‘The Shape of Water’ and its lovable merman”.

It turns out that Jones’ impressive costume and makeup (and his equally impressive performance) only accounts for part of what we see on-screen. Trey Harrell, CG supervisor at visual effects house Mr. X, told me, “Every single shot of the film where you see the creature is a visual effects shot.”

After all, Harrell said that while “Doug is an amazing actor,” his face was also hidden under “an inch of and a half of foam latex.” So at the very least, Mr. X had to create the merman’s eye and face movements. In other instances, like when the merman was viewed swimming inside the lab’s capsule, Mr. X was responsible for the entire creature.

(18) ACCUSATION. Someone has made a claim about the source of the story — “Guillermo del Toro accused of stealing story of ‘Shape of Water’ from 1969 play” reports the New York Daily Post.

Guillermo del Toro has been accused of stealing the storyline of “Shape of Water” from Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Zindel.

David Zindel, the son of the playwright, who died in 2003, claims del Toro’s story is taken from his father’s 1969 “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” about “a female janitor in a research laboratory who bonds with a captive dolphin and tries to rescue the creature.”

“We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights,” Zindel told the Guardian.

… Fox Searchlight denied that the “Shape of Water” storyline was stolen.

“Guillermo del Toro has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form. Mr. del Toro has had a 25 year career during which he has made 10 feature films and has always been very open about acknowledging his influences,” a spokesman told the Guardian.

(19) I’M FEELING BETTER! Scott Tilley was listening for something else when the unexpected happened: “Amateur astronomer discovers a revived NASA satellite”.

After years in darkness, a NASA satellite is phoning home.

Some 12 years since it was thought lost because of a systems failure, NASA’s Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) has been discovered, still broadcasting, by an amateur astronomer. The find, which he reported in a blog post this week, presents the possibility that NASA could revive the mission, which once provided unparalleled views of Earth’s magnetosphere.

The astronomer, Scott Tilley, spends his free time following the radio signals from spy satellites. On this occasion, he was searching in high-Earth orbit for evidence of Zuma, a classified U.S. satellite that’s believed to have failed after launch. But rather than discovering Zuma, Tilley picked up a signal from a satellite labeled “2000-017A,” which he knew corresponded to NASA’s IMAGE satellite. Launched in 2000 and then left for dead in December 2005, the $150 million mission was back broadcasting. It just needed someone to listen.

(20) RARITY. Offered on eBay for $2,000 – the NAL paperback of The Day After Tomorrow signed by Robert A,. Heinlein to his publisher:

HEINLEIN, ROBERT A. The Day After Tomorrow. New York: Signet – New American Library, 1964. First Paperback Edition. Signed and inscribed by Robert A. Heinlein with a superb inscription to his publisher: “To Kurt Enoch, President of N.A.L. With books as with icebergs it is the unseen 7/8-s which permits the 1/8 to be seen. Thanks! Bob Heinlein”. Originally published as Sixth Column, this copy is enclosed in a custom cloth clamsell box. Paperbound, very good clean copy. From the library of Dr. Kurt Enoch (1895-1982) who was a noted German publisher, forced to flee the Nazis, landing in New York in 1940. In 1948, Dr. Enoch co-founded and became President of New American Library – Signet Books which became one of the successful and acclaimed post-war publishing houses. Enoch went on to become one of the most highly regarded figures in American book publishing.

(21) YOUR MOVE. The mention in yesterday’s Scroll about Richard Paolinelli asking someone to guess his chess ranking inspired this parody of “One Night in Bangkok” (from Chess) by Matthew Johnson (and the last two lines by Soon Lee):

Twitter’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than if you go
To San Jose for a cruddy old Hugo

I don’t see you guys making
The nine-dimensional move I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But our Gargoyles DVDs would not excite you

So you’d better go back to your Files, your SFWA forums,
Your cat cafes

One night in genre and worlds are your oyster
The Scrolls are Pixels and the comment’s free
My pups are friendly and their noses moister
No politics in SF history
I can feel Bob Heinlein walking next to me
His mistresses are harsh, and his lunch ain’t free.

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

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33 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/28/18 I Say We Take Off And Pixel The Entire Scroll From Orbit – It’s The Only Way To Be Sure

  1. Well, I know which Down Under fan I’d like to meet. Even if he doesn’t run, though, I have the consolation that we’re all just a Little Bit Camestros Inside.

    (Speak of the devil! He’s ninja’d me!)

  2. Currently reading Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe, by Richard Dee.

    Upside of taking Sudafed: Not congested now. Can breathe.

    Downside: Nerves racing.

  3. (16) IT’S NOT FICTION. Or is it? Replacing blood was part of Heinlein’s hand-waving for life extension at the end of Methusaleh’s Children.

    (18) ACCUSATION. It’s not that weird for people to come up with vaguely similar ideas independently. Ask me about how happy/disappointed I was to read my first Xanth book (my idea didn’t involve any puns, and had other differences).

    Sacrificial fourth?

  4. And I’m finally caught up with the scrolls!

    I’ve spent about the last week in a haze of slightly-variant editions of manuscripts, complicated by shoulder pain that is stubbornly refusing to go away. (My right shoulder feels like I’ve wrenched it somehow, and has been getting steadily worse for several days now. I’m presently staying in bed, flat on my back, reading 770 on my tablet while trying to arrange a couple of pillows to see if I can get more comfortable. But I got the manuscript discrepancies taken care of!)

    13: I must confess that “what happens when a young writer picks sf” had me imagining an orchard as a library. Pick all you want for one low price!

  5. (18) Unless the lady in the play has sex with the dolphin and/or a social justice credential gets eaten, I doubt that The Shape of Water has any connection to this.

  6. 21) Hehehehehe

    1) Yep, the deadline is nigh. If you are an Australian or New Zealander, here is your last chance to get on the ballot!

  7. (5) “She wrote beautifully, in a field where most writing ranged from serviceable to awkward.”
    (*bingo lightboard explodes*)

    (9) Wow. I’m very glad to read Rene Camille’s story, which is increasingly relevant today.

  8. Matthew Johnson: (21) Soon Lee deserves co-credit (at least): she wrote the first two lines of the last verse, which inspired me to write my version around them.

    Soon Lee is a he, and you both deserve applause for your awesome Chess filks. 🙂

  9. @17: To me the most fascinating thing is not the Creature shots (the gills in particular seemed too realistic to be appliances) but the amount of apparently-live scenery that was patched in. I’d known that this was being done even in mundane movies (e.g., the harbor scene in The Birdcage) but this clip makes me wonder whether location filming is obsolete — and whether the divide between stage acting and screen acting will get even bigger as more screen acting requires working realistically with a green screen instead of sets and props. Not that the divide is new — I recently read Christopher Lee’s autobiography, in which he’s quite frank about his short time on stage (done as part of his film training) — but will there come a time when acting in both forms is seen as impossible?

    OTOH, the soundtrack for the clip emphasizes a comment on the Rosza story about modern accompaniment sounding like videogame looping; I assume it was also patched, but I’ve forgotten how repetitious (or non-) the original was.

  10. [“Clickety clack, don’t scroll back!”]

    I’ve read Collapsing Empire and my verdict is a definite meh. Decent enough book but nothing exciting—neither characters, nor plot, nor worldbuilding. Kinda boring.

  11. I’m looking for a reviewer for Tim Cooper’s The Reader: War for the Oaks<Book for Green Man. I’m assuming that y’all are more than capable of writing a fine review, especially if you’ve read the novel. I’ll even toss in some good dark chocolate, one of Emma’s fav foods, with the book.

    Email me at [email protected] if you’re interested.

    I have multiple copies of the novel, one signed before she broke both forearms at a RenFaire, one some months afteards. It’s Rather obviously one of my fav novels.

  12. Matthew Johnson:
    (21) Soon Lee deserves co-credit (at least): she wrote the first two lines of the last verse, which inspired me to write my version around them.

    Soon Lee is a he, and you both deserve applause for your awesome Chess filks. ?

    Matthew Johnson:
    @JJ: Yeah, I realized a few minutes ago that I might have misgendered him. @Soon Lee: Apologies for that (and thanks for the inspiration).

    No apology necessary Matthew. It happens from time to time because the more well-known examples of “Soon Lee” are women. I actually find it a bit of a compliment that my writing comes across as relatively gender neutral.

    As for the Chess filk, inspiration provided me with only two lines, so I was delighted that you could use that as a launch pad to produce something that brought a huge smile to my face.

    Thanks for amending the credit.

  13. Just finished Raven Stratagem, which to my mind is Childrens of Dune for Ninefox Gambit – in a good way.
    But what I wanted to mention here is a side note: I liked that the author added things we cannot understand. I mean most SF stuff is futuristic, but its things we can imagine. Its mainly things that makes sense: faster transportation, better weapons etc. It makes sense that a far-future has invented things we cannot just not understand, but not even imagine. In Ninefox Gambit there is these calendar things that is “normal”, but we dont even know what it is. I like that.

  14. I’m still chortling over this:

    So you’d better go back to your Files, your SFWA forums,
    Your cat cafes

  15. 15) & 16): I’m more than a little bemused that a YA dystopia is right above a technology that if widely implemented would result in a YA dystopia.

    I mean, I can absolutely see an agent saying “A story where teens have their blood drained to keep the wealthy from aging? Don’t you think the metaphor is a little heavy-handed?”

  16. 5)

    Before I got to writing, or when writing got to me,
    I looked to find examples in the field of scifirry.
    I saw many books much stronger than my work would ever be
    And I thought perhaps the field was not for me.

    But still I stayed and read the writing ’til one figure stood apart,
    With worlds that were new-fashioned, and a gift of words and heart
    But each point was made with honour, and a lightness of the heart,
    And so I took that step which soon became a part.

    She was lady-like and lively, not the type you would expect
    With a braver heart than many and an impact to respect.
    I guess she’d once decided this was where she’d like to be,
    And I thought if she could do it, why not me?

  17. @Ky

    And though I’ll never sing beside her at the Tiptrees side by side
    Because of her I type my words with pride.

  18. @Rose Embolism

    15) & 16): I’m more than a little bemused that a YA dystopia is right above a technology that if widely implemented would result in a YA dystopia.

    Wow! I didn’t even notice that when I sent those in. I wonder if anybody at NPR noticed it when setting up that day’s news….

  19. Ky, Iphinome, now I’m going to have that stuck in my head all afternoon.

    Anne Sheller: Nope! Heather is good people as well as good musician.

  20. (18) Seems to me that the plot of “laboratory staff member bonds/sympathizes with captive [supernatural creature] and possibly plots its rescue/escape” is kind of everywhere. Carrie Vaughn has a short story in her collection Straying from the Path that fits the template; hell, the latter half of the movie Splash could be said to fit the template. Also ET. It’s kind of a staple of urban fantasy, where supernatural creatures keep a low profile often specifically to avoid being forced into the starring role in scientific experiments. (Secondary world fantasy too, sometimes; I seem to recall it being a concern of Pratchett’s Nac Mac Feegle.)

    This seems as spurious as that Muggle kerfuffle from years back.

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