Pixel Scroll 1/6/19 The Million-Year Teddy Bear Picnic

(1) PICK AN SFF MAGAZINE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Gregory Hullender has a new tool for sff readers: “We just posted a detailed article aimed at helping people find SF/F magazines to subscribe to. The focus is on the eleven magazines we regularly review, but we do invite people to contribute info about other ones.” — “Finding a Science-Fiction/Fantasy Magazine to Subscribe To”

‘If you’re the editor of a magazine outside our eleven (or just a fan of such a magazine), please feel free to add a comment to this article to plug your magazine. Include the name, a link to subscription instructions, and a few paragraphs explaining why it’s special. Don’t worry about “self-promotion”; this one time, we want you to self-promote!’

Hullender concludes, “It should give us a good answer going forward when people ask ‘what magazines should I subscribe to?’”

(2) BRUNNER. At Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett features a John Brunner article in which “he goes into vast detail about the economics of being an author in the sixties. Fascinating reading for anybody who likes to dig into the nuts and bolts of publishing” — “John Brunner – The Writer In Black”.

Perfect freedom is reserved for the man who lives by his own work,
and in that work does what he wants to do.

I think it was in an installment of his Noise Level column that John Brunner made the claim that when science fiction authors got together they mostly talked about money. Now I’m not about to disagree with a statement like that given Brunner wrote science fiction for a living and was certainly in a position to know what his fellow authors said and did. Even so I do have to wonder if his views were biased by his own preoccupations. He certainly did write about the financial aspects of being a published author more than any other SF professional I’m familiar with….

(3) MINUS WORLD. Yahoo! Entertainment says there was more waiting to be discovered about this 80’s video game: “A hidden world in the NES ‘Legend of Zelda’ was just uncovered 30 years later”.

Now seeing as how the original Zelda game is more than 30 years old at this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every single part of the game has already been discovered and conquered. Alas, you’d be mistaken.

In something of a fascinating story, a developer recently managed to access the game’s “minus world,” essentially another part of the game where developers could try out different gameplay dynamics. Naturally, developers implemented code to prevent players from accessing the game’s “minus world”, but a YouTuber with the handle SKELUX managed to figure out a way around it.

(4) GET YOUR NOMINATIONS IN. Through January 31, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is taking entries in the Norma K Hemming Award for works published in 2018.

Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award is now open for entries.

The award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work. Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.

Two prizes will be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.

Nominations are open to all eligible work produced in 2018. Entries will close on January 31, 2019. We encourage immediate entry for all eligible and appropriate 2019 work.

For more information and to stay up to date, please see the new Award website at https://normakhemmingaward.org  or find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NKHAward/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/NKH_Award  

(5) NEW MEXICO CONNECTIONS. From the New York Times: “Winter TV Preview: ‘True Detective,’ ‘Carmen Sandiego’ and 19 More Shows to Watch”. Some of the genre shows include —  

‘Roswell, New Mexico’

Fans of the original “Roswell” sent network executives bottles of Tabasco sauce to save their beloved emo-teen-alien series, but it lasted only three seasons (1999-2002) on WB and then UPN. Their pleas have been answered, finally, with this new series, which is also based on the “Roswell High” young-adult book series but adds what now seems obvious: an immigration theme. Jeanine Mason plays a daughter of undocumented immigrants who returns home to Roswell and discovers that the guy she liked in high school is from even farther away. (Jan. 15, CW)

‘Carmen Sandiego’

The fourth TV show (and first in 20 years) spawned by the Carmen Sandiego educational-video-game franchise is an animated “Mission Impossible”-style adventure that’s more adult than its predecessors but still abundantly lighthearted. After a few episodes that provide a new origin story (and moral compass) for the master thief Carmen (voiced by Gina Rodriguez), the series gets back to using crime capers as a vehicle for geographical and cultural lessons. (Jan. 18, Netflix)…

‘Game of Thrones’

Spoiler alert: In the last six episodes of the epic climate-change allegory, the steady rise in dragon fire warms the atmosphere, winter is averted and the White Walkers settle down peacefully in the now-temperate north. Overcome by their good fortune, many characters stop wearing clothes altogether. (April, HBO)

(6) SOLARIS AUTHOR. Rich Horton recommends “The Beautiful Mind-Bending of Stanislaw Lem” at The New Yorker. Here’s a brief quote:

The idea of a private world spilling over unsettlingly into reality is also at the heart of his novel “Solaris,” from 1961, about a sentient ocean with the power of “seeing into the deepest recesses of human minds and then bringing their dreams to life,” as the Lem fan Salman Rushdie once described it. The massive popularity of “Solaris”—made into a film by Andrei Tarkovsky, in 1972, and then again in 2002, by Steven Soderbergh, as a moody near-future love story with George Clooney—helped Lem become one of the most widely read science fiction writers in the world. Yet his writing reached far beyond the borders of the genre. In addition to many novels and stories, he composed a huge philosophical treatise on the relation of human beings and machines, a good deal of pungently argued literary criticism, a volume of reviews of nonexistent books, a stochastic theory of narrative fiction, an experimental detective novel, speculative essays dealing with artificial intelligence, cybernetics, cosmology, genetic engineering, game theory, sociology, and evolution, radio plays and screenplays. Such staggering polymathic curiosity over such a vast range of material, all of it explored with lucidity and charm, gives his writing a unique place on a Venn diagram in which the natural sciences, philosophy, and literature shade into one another with mutually intensifying vividness and fascination.


  • January 6, 1973Schoolhouse Rock! premiered.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 6, 1955 Rowan Atkinson, 64. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which gave him I think the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor.  Other genre appearances were scant though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates. 
  • Born January 6, 1984 Kate McKinnon, 35. Dr. Jillian “Holtz” Holtzmannon in the recent Ghostbusters film. Voice of Nikki and Margaret Fictel in The Venture Bros. and she played Mother Goose on Sesame Street. I kid you not. 


  • In this Monty, “Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”
  • Some people just can’t be trusted with simple tasks. (Brewster Rockit).
  • Real Life Adventures gives a familiar TV househunting show a stfnal twist.

(10) WHAT’S THAT NOISE? Musicradar reports “The BBC is letting you download more than 16,000 free sound effect samples from its archive”.

There can be few organisations that have used more sound effects than the BBC, so there’s bound to be great interest in the news that the corporation has now made more than 16,000 of its FX available for free download.

These are being released under the RemArc licence, which means that they can be used for “personal, educational or research purposes”.  

(11) BABY, IT’S DARK OUTSIDE. AND INSIDE. We already knew that the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy were destined to collide; now it seems the Large Magellanic Cloud may beat Andromeda to the punch (Ars Technica: “Milky Way to face a one-two punch of galaxy collisions”).

If our knowledge of galaxy structures was limited to the Milky Way, we’d get a lot of things wrong. The Milky Way, it turns out, is unusual. It’s got a smaller central black hole than other galaxies its size; its halo is also smaller and contains less of the heavier elements. Fortunately, we’ve now looked at enough other galaxies to know that ours is a bit of an oddball. What’s been less clear is why.

Luckily, a recent study provides a likely answer: compared to most galaxies, the Milky Way’s had a very quiet 10 billion years or so. But the new study suggests we’re only a few billion years from that quiet period coming to an end. A collision with a nearby dwarf galaxy should turn the Milky Way into something more typical looking—just in time to have Andromeda smack into it.

The researchers behind the new work, from the UK’s Durham University, weren’t looking to solve the mysteries of why the Milky Way looks so unusual. Instead, they were intrigued by recent estimates that suggest one of its satellite galaxies might be significantly more massive than thought. A variety of analyses have suggested that the Large Magellanic Cloud has more dark matter than the number of stars it contains would suggest.

(12) ENGAGE! CBR.com: “20 Star Trek Relationships That Make No Sense” — Just In Case™ you might be interested.


I might get some push back on this one, as many found this unlikely pairing enjoyable. I would argue that it was forced and lacked any sort of real buildup. Rumor has it, Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax) and Michael Dorn (Worf) pushed the writers to create a romance for their characters on Deep Space Nine.

I think what viewers might have liked was that these were two of the series’ favorite characters. Sure, the couple managed to convince many of their compatibility, but in actuality I would say it was a toxic relationship. The couple managed to bring out the worst in each other and it seemed they were endlessly arguing. I think the relationship detracted from what we like about them in the first place.

NOT ERGOT. BBC asks: “Can auto-immune illness explain the Salem witch trials?”

There are now compelling reasons to think that at least one of the girls may have suffered from a much-misunderstood neurological condition.

‘Their limbs wracked and, tormented so … their arms, necks, and backs turned this way and that way, and returned back again. Their mouths stopped, their throats choked. They had several sore fits.’ – A contemporary description of cousins Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, the first of the afflicted at Salem.

Their speech was garbled and their limbs contorted, they wailed and howled and convulsed. It was 1692. Betty was nine and Abigail was 11.

Reverend Samuel Parris was advised by a doctor that the girls, his daughter and niece, respectively, were bewitched. Soon, at least five other girls in Salem Village developed similar symptoms and began to accuse locals of witchcraft including Tituba, a slave, and Sarah Good, a homeless beggar. A flurry of accusations followed, with residents piling on to denounce over 200 people. “Persons of ill-repute” and dedicated churchgoers alike were imprisoned and Bridget Bishop, “known for her gossipy habits and promiscuity”, was the first to be hanged on 10 June. Twenty people were put to death in total with several others dying in prison.

(14) PLUME. Yahoo! Entertainment covers this astronomical event: “Volcanic Plume Rising From Jupiter’s Moon Io Spotted by Juno Probe”.

While performing its 17th flyby of Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft witnessed a volcanic plume erupting from the surface of Io, the most geologically active of the gas giant’s 79 known moons.

As detailed in a Southwest Research Institute press release, the flyby occurred on December 21, 2018. Mission controllers had no less than four instruments honed in on Io in an effort to study the moon’s surface, especially its polar regions. These instruments included the JunoCam, the Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVS). An hour was budgeted for the survey, and it just so happened that a volcanic eruption occurred during this time.

(15) HEAR IN MY CAR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I’ve been known to use Walmart’s grocery pickup service when I just can’t carve out the time (or energy) to shop at my preferred grocer, which happens to be much closer to my house. I haven’t been to Wally World for grocery pickup that often, so maybe I just missed all the times that Ecto-1 or the Mystery Machine were there. SYFY Wire has the story (“Walmart ad uses genre’s most famous cars to promote new grocery pick-up service”), though they do get it a bit wrong by calling it a new service. It is a new commercial.

Over the years, pop culture has given us some pretty iconic modes of transport, from Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean to Michael Knight’s talking Pontiac Firebird.

In a stroke of marketing brilliance, Walmart took advantage of the [instant] recognizability of these cars to promote the company’s new grocery pick-up service.

Set to the ’80s-era jam of Gary Newman’s “Cars,” the one-minute ad shows some of genre’s most famous vehicles […]

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.] d Table 7 Col

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48 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/6/19 The Million-Year Teddy Bear Picnic

  1. I have a collection entitled The Complete Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens, edited by Peter Haining, which is about 400 pages in the Washington Square Press paperback. I believe some of the stories are pretty well known, e.g. “The Signal-Man”.

    My favourite of the several film versions of “A Christmas Carol” I’ve seen is the one with Alastair Sim as Scrooge. In fact it would be near the top of a list of my favourite movies ever. I watched it again this past Christmas eve and was again blown away. A wonderful movie which I find deeply moving.

  2. Rowan Atkinson also did genre work in Black Adder, specifically “Black Adder’s Christmas Carol,” where he plays Ebenezer Blackadder, “The Nicest Man in London,” who is visited by a Spirit (Robbie Coltrane) who shows him visions—they used to use black and white line art, but the visions were much more effective—of other Blackadders, including the far-future one.

    By the way, my article (see last PS) got like 38 page views from your plug, Mike. Thanks again!

  3. 8
    Bleak House is almost genre: one character spontaneously combusts (off-screen, so to speak).

  4. Btw if memory serves Charles Dickens’s father’s name was John. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the name given as “Charles Dickens, Jr” before.

  5. I thought Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870. I think Cat Eldredge got the dates wrong.

    I thought Kim Huett’s reprinting of the John Brunner piece was really interesting. I always liked Brunner’s pieces in SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW back in the day.

  6. Aha, Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, eldest son of the novelist, was born January 6, 1837.

  7. 8) Another birthday: British folk singer Sandy Denny, who sang with Fairport Convention and Fotheringay, amongst others, and had a solo career before dying far, far too young.

    Genre connection: She’s the female vocal track on Led Zeppelin’s Battle of Evermore, which song is rife with Lord of the Rings-inspired imagery.

  8. Martin Wooster saysI thought Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870. I think Cat Eldredge got the dates wrong.

    My bad. Mike, please fix. Btw you spelled my named with the southern Msine vairiant.

  9. And it’s very early in the morning and my brain couldn’t spell anything right…

    My bad. Mike, please fix. Btw you spelled my name with the southern Maine variant

  10. Blackadder Back and Forth was also genre, since it was all about time travel.

    I haven’t seen the Johnny English movies but based on what I know they’re genre-adjacent at the very least.

    And of course there was the famous “Hell” sketch

  11. (7) Now to get Kevin Standlee to write an update of “I’m Just a Bill” about WSFS constitution amendments.

  12. No, the shortest lived Doctors, if you count Atkinson, were the later ones played in the same parody by Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, and Hugh Grant, all of whom live a matter of seconds due to a series of accidents with a death ray.

  13. 7) Although some of the history ones are cringeworthingly bad in this day and age, I still can get earwormed by many Schoolhouse Rock songs.

  14. LondonKdS says correcting me No, the shortest lived Doctors, if you count Atkinson, were the later ones played in the same parody by Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, and Hugh Grant, all of whom live a matter of seconds due to a series of accidents with a death ray.

    I forgot that one which is why I did include the “I think statement when it.

  15. @Lis: don’t start your day by talking to any medical companies (says the person now in the 7th month of a coding dispute…).

  16. @2 is certainly fascinating, not just for the nuts&bolts but also for Brunner’s personality, which could vary widely. I remember his sometime-informational, sometimes-strident columns in Geis’s zine (originally The Alien Critic, later Science Fiction Review due to a ~trademark dispute) — although the stridency was sometimes justified (as in the copyeditor who thought to be fixing a name inconsistency but instead required a single character to be in KC and the west coast at the same time), and he was easy to work with when I co-edited the songbook he did for his GoH-ship at the 1983 Worldcon.

    @6 is interesting, but the writer seems a bit too in love with the sound of his own prose. I’ve read bits of Lem, and bounced off some of it; when a local book group picked The Cyberiad (which I think took at least some stories from the essay-mentioned Fables for Robots), I didn’t finish it (despite having liked it 4 decades before), as the stories of tyrants with political police started getting repetitive. I don’t remember even starting Solaris; I may look for the new edition that someone (IIRC here) mentioned as a better translation, but I suspect it’s still beyond(?) me.

  17. @JoeH — I think the genre connection for Sandy Denny is pretty weak, but who cares! What a spectacular singer. When you consider Fairport had the best guitarist and the best singer in rock/pop/etc. at that time, it’s pretty remarkable.

  18. @Rich Horton — And, now that I think about it, Sandy Denny sang on Fairport Convention’s version of Tam Lin, which traditional ballad was the basis for Pamela Dean’s novel in the Adult Fairy Tale series.

    Which is also kind of a tenuous connection, but such a great song by such a great band …

  19. Kip Williams on January 6, 2019 at 7:46 pm said:

    Rowan Atkinson also did genre work in Black Adder, specifically “Black Adder’s Christmas Carol,”

    In addition to that (and “Blackadder Back and Forth” which someone else mentioned), the first series of Blackadder could easily be considered Alternate History, what with Richard IV (played by the inimitable BRIAN BLESSED!*) ascending the throne instead of being murdered in the Tower.

    It’s more usually classified as “secret history”, but that’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away from genre itself.

    * His name should never be spelled in lower-case.

  20. (8) a couple more . . . .
    Carl Sandburg (1/6/1878 – 7/22/1967). Mostly known for being Abraham Lincoln’s biographer and for his poetry, wrote a series of “American Fairy Tales” — a book of children’s stories called Rootabaga Stories. Steven Spielberg claimed that ET’s face was based on a composite of Sandburg, Hemingway, and Albert Einstein.

    John C. Lilly (1/6/1915 – 9/30/2001). Neuroscientist. Characters based on him were portrayed by George C. Scott (Day of the Dolphin) and William Hurt (Altered States). He studied human-dolphin communication, developed sensory deprivation tanks, tripped on LSD in the guise of “research”, gave LSD to dolphins, and worked on SETI in 1961.

    Wayne Barlowe (b. 1/6/1958). Interior and cover artist for hundreds of SF works. You probably recognize some of them.

  21. @ Joe H.

    Another connection between SF/F and early 70s British folk-rock is Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall, which is a fantasy about a band similar to Fairport, Steeleye Span, or Pentangle.

  22. Yes! Seldom (well, other than Revenger) have I read a book that aimed itself with such laser-like intensity DIRECTLY at my interests as Wylding Hall!

  23. I loved WYLDING HALL as well, and I read it the very MOMENT I was in the midst of a massive re-immersion in Fairport Convention. (Never liked Steeley Span or Pentangle as much, though some of Pentangle’s songs in particular are quite beautiful, and both Jacqui MacShee and Maddy Prior are pretty exceptional singers.)

  24. By the way, Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death may be viewed in its entirety on YouTube:


    (I used to have a copy of the commercial videotape release, but donated it to a charity auction some years back–mainly because I knew I could watch it on YouTube.)

  25. Sandy and Dennys are Meg’s twin brothers in “A Wrinkle in Time” (and sequels), which by nominative transference make Sandy Denny very genre indeed.

  26. And I had a hole to fill whilst waiting for Alliance Rising to appear on my Kindle, so I filled it with Seanan McGuire’s Beneath the Sugar Sky and holy cow, that was a good entry in a great series.

  27. @Rich Horton – best rock/pop guitarist!? Who is this person? Better than Paige, Beck and Blackmore? (And those are just from the U.K. Santana comes to mind as a US contender.)

  28. both Jacqui MacShee and Maddy Prior are pretty exceptional singers

    For another genre connection, Maddy Prior has an X-Men character named after her.

  29. @ James Moar

    I think he’s referring to Richard Thompson, who is certainly in the hallowed hall of great guitarists (of course *the* best guitarist is always up for debate).

    I guess the genre connection is that he played on Fairport Convention’s “Tam Lin” (the song that inspired Pamela Dean).

  30. @Rob – thanks. I confess iI’ve not heard of that guy before. I’ll check him out. (Agreed about ‘best’; I wasn’t being entirely serious.)

  31. @Cliff — I can almost promise that you’ve heard Richard Thompson’s songs before — he’s one of those guys whose songs have been covered by everyone over the years.

    (Including, but not limited to: Tear-Stained Letter; Waltzing’s for Dreamers; Dimming of the Day; and he’s also done some great covers of other people’s songs, including a version of Oops! I Did It Again that takes on an entirely different tenor when sung by a bitter, middle-aged old man)

  32. @ Joe – the only one of those songs I’ve heard of the is Brittney one :). I thought I knew all about *both* types of music: rock *and* metal.

  33. @Joe H.: Dean notes Fairport’s version in her afterward, but calls it “rather sedate by their later standards”. Given that it’s a guitar-heavy 13-beat piece (almost as metal as Boiled in Lead’s version of “Newry Highwayman”), I wonder what Fairport did later. (I saw an alleged incarnation opening for Steeleye Span in 1982 or 1984 — good, but no wilder than Liege and Leaf.)

  34. @Cliff — as noted, of course I was referring to Richard Thompson. And obviously claiming anyone as “The Best” is very subjective! But, yes, the best is Richard Thompson for me.

    One more song by him that’s rather well known is “’52 Vincent Black Lightning”. And, from the Fairport days, “Meet on the Ledge”, written when he was 19. (About the same age Sandy Denny was when she wrote “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”.)

  35. And among Richard Thompson’s songs, you can’t skip “Beeswing.” Which was inspired by Ann(i)e Briggs, supposedly, who also inspired Maddy Prior and was the dedicatee of a song by Sandy Denny. Indeed, the album that “Beeswing” is from, Mirror Blue, is my favorite of his, though that’s a tough call. (Some of his songs are very dark though–violence, murder, other crimes, murder, violence, murder, and more crime.)

  36. While I’m not too familiar with Thompson’s entire oeuvre, one song with genre relevance is “Now That I Am Dead,” in which a musician passes away and discovers that now they can “finally make a living.” (on Live, Love, Larf, and Loaf by French Frith Kaiser Thompson).

  37. Thanks all. Some very beautiful songs there, no doubt. And I don’t believe I’ve heard of any of them before. It’s funny, because two old friends of mine were very heavily into the English folk and bluegrass scenes. One of the songs reminded me of Chris’s playing here:

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