Pixel Scroll 10/14/19 Two Little Pixel Scrolls, Staring At The Sun, One Had A Filtered Lens, So Then There Was One

(1) BIGGER ON THE INSIDE. Linden A. Lewis advises writers “How to Create a Novel from a Short Story” at the Odyssey Writing Workshop blog.

Step 2: Expand the world based on feedback

Short stories are short because there aren’t a lot of characters to interact with or places to go or things to do; otherwise, they’d be too long. Since long was my goal, I let myself daydream about the world around the spaceship. Who were these warriors? Who were they at war with? What was their culture, and how did it conflict with their enemy’s? Why did this priestess’ religion forbid speech?

I came up with anything—and many things that didn’t make it into even the first draft—to fill out the world. I didn’t limit myself at all. I added more characters and gave existing characters more goals based on more detailed backgrounds. I wrote what I now call the Worldbuilding Bible, a 30-page document of information on science, locations, and the histories of the two societies in humanity’s far future. And when I finally started writing the novel, I had a ton of characters on the board who would be sure to create conflict.

(2) ABOUT THE OTHERWISE AWARD. Keffy R.M. Kehrli explores his complex reaction to the decision to rename the Tiptree Award. Thread starts here.

(3) BOUNDARIES IN COSPLAY. Trae Dorn’s Nerd & Tie post “Dear Congoers of the World: Why Do I Have to Tell You Not to Do Blackface?” mainly focuses on the title issue, but ends with this corollary:

…And look — yes, you can cosplay characters of other races. Most anime characters are asian, and no one’s asking white cosplayers to stop playing those characters. Heck, a white cosplayer can cosplay a black character. The important thing is you just don’t alter your skin color. That’s all you have to do. And if you don’t think you can accurately cosplay a character without doing so, maybe don’t cosplay that character. Or, y’know, just be okay without being perfectly “accurate.” Cosplay exists within a real world context, and maybe you should make sure you think about that context before suiting up.

Is that what I should be getting out of the wider discussion, that if I chose to dress as Black Panther without tinting my skin, everyone should be find with that? I wonder what Filers think.

(4) WE CONTROL THE HORIZONTAL. It’s 1964 and at the end of the first month of the new fall TV season four Outer Limits episodes have aired. Natalie Devitt tells Galactic Journey readers why she’s a little worried about the show: “[October 14, 1964] Back in Session? (The Outer Limits, Season 2, Episodes 1-4)”.

The second season of The Outer Limits is now underway! As someone who is pretty devoted to her favorite shows, I anticipated the return of the science fiction anthology show with excitement. But something seems different. Could it be the result of the departure of producer Joseph Stefano, who contributed his creative vision and a number of scripts? Maybe changes in the show’s budget, time slot or its music? Read on, and tell me if you share my concern.

(5) WORKING. At Plagiarism Today, Jonathan Bailey uses Voyager to illustrate legal and ethical issues: “Copyright in Pop Culture: Star Trek: Voyager”.

…Last week I shared an article about Copyright and Artificial Intelligence looking at the complications that artificial intelligence is bringing to copyright and the challenges we may face when machines, not people, are creating the bulk of our works.

However, as a serious Star Trek fan, I realized that the conversation wouldn’t be complete without an examination of episode 20 of season 7 of Star Trek: Voyager, entitled Author, Author. The episode involves an artificial intelligence writing a creative work and then having to fight to retain control over it as his infringers believe he doesn’t qualify copyright protection.

It’s a rare mix of science fiction, legal wrangling and debates over humanity that could only come from the latter episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. However, as we slide into more and more autonomous artificial intelligence, it may not be long before we have our own story like this one to ponder.

(6) BLOOM OBIT. Critic Harold Bloom died October 14. The New York Times obituary is here — “Harold Bloom, Critic Who Championed Western Canon, Dies at 89”. I mention him primarily because his eye-opening description of how many ways you can trace artists’ influence on one another – the similarities between their works being merely one possibility – had a big impact on Diana Glyer’s first Inklings book.


  • October 14, 1926 — A. A. Milne’s classic, Winnie-the-Pooh, was published in the UK.
  • October 14, 1977  — Starship Invasions premiered. Released as Project Genocide in the UK, it starred Robert Vaughn and Christopher Lee.  It scored 39% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • October 14, 2011 The Thing, the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing went into general release in the US. It was a financial and critical flop with rating at  Rotten Tomatoes of 35%.
  • October 14, 2008  — Journey To The Center Of The Earth premiered on home video.  It starred Greg Evigan of TekWar fame and Dedee Pfeiffer. It rated 29% at Rotten Tomatoes. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint from for most of the Sixties. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau! (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 73. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 70. And then there are those who just disappear. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his People of The Monolith was publishedin Cthulhu Cultus #13 . Prior to that, he edited Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995, and wrote a handful of what I’ll assume is Cthulhuan fiction. No surprisingly, he’s not to be on iBooks or Kindle. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 66. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer, mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no series or show. Kindles and iBooks have a goodly number of story collections available.
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 66. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. 
  • Born October 14, 1956 Arleen Sorkin, 63. To my ears, still the best Harley Quinn as she voiced her on the Batman: The Animated Series
  • Born October 14, 1956 Martin Millar, 63. Among his accomplishments was the novelization of the Tank Girl film. Apparently it’s even weirder than the film was! He won the World Fantasy Award for best novel with his book Thraxas, and the entire Thraxas series which are released under the name Martin Scott are a lot of not-too-serious pulpish fun. 
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 55. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
  • Born October 14, 1968 Robert C. Cooper, 51. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate  series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed!


(10) PRESENT AT THE CREATION. In coming up wth “Marvel: The 10 Most Important Stan Lee Creations Ever”, CBR.com had a lot to choose from.


In 1962, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created a superhero based more on the classic Universal Horror monster ideals. While someone like The Thing looks like a monster, he still maintained his intelligence and was a true hero. However, Hulk was like a mixture of Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf-Man.

As a matter of fact, early versions of The Hulk had him only changing at night like the Wolf-Man. Hulk was a monster that the world feared but someone who was a hero at the end of the day — despite the collateral damage he caused. He was so popular that it was Hulk that gave Marvel one of their earliest live-action TV shows.

(11) HONK IF YOU LOVE GAMING. Adri Joy performs the desirable writer’s magic trick of transmuting time wasted playing video games into an accumulation of valuable research in “WE RANK ‘EM: Villagers from Untitled Goose Game (House House)” at Nerds of a Feather.

Having sunk a significant amount of time into the goose uprising – learning the ways of the village, its routines, and what happens to all the items I’ve been throwing down the well – I have decided, rather than undertaking a review, to resurrect a hallowed Nerds of a Feather institution: the We Rank ‘Em post. I now bring my extensive goose game expertise to bear on the objective ranking of the villagers of goose game, from my omniscient perspective as the objective arbiter of their destinies. This ranking has been cross checked using the most advanced scientific principles available to game character analysts today, and was also compiled while I was hungry and therefore very motivated to put down the most straightforward, no-nonsense reasoning I could so as to get on with the more important business of reheating leftover noodles and maybe making a mug cake. With these factors in mind, I present to you: the definitive ranking of untitled goose game villagers….

(12) POLITICAL CARTOON. When Vietnamese officials saw this scene, they got very animated: “Vietnam pulls Abominable film over South China Sea map”.

Vietnam has banned the new DreamWorks film Abominable from cinemas because of a scene involving a map illustrating China’s claims in the South China Sea.

Abominable, about a Chinese girl who discovers a yeti on her roof, is a joint China-DreamWorks production.

The map shows China’s unilaterally declared “nine-dash line”, which carves out a huge area in the sea that Vietnam lays claim to.

China and Vietnam have been locked in a recent standoff in the region.

The latest dispute started in July when China conducted an energy survey in waters controlled by Vietnam.

(13) SPYING LESSONS. Well isn’t that a surprise. “China’s Study the Great Nation app ‘enables spying via back door'”.

The Chinese Communist Party has gained the ability to spy on more than 100 million citizens via a heavily promoted official app, a report suggests.

Analysis of the Study the Great Nation app found hidden elements that could help monitor use and copy data, said phone security experts Cure 53.

The app gives the government “super-user” access, the security firm said.

The Chinese government denied the app had the monitoring functions listed by the cyber investigators.

Released in February, Study the Great Nation has become the most downloaded free program in China, thanks to persuasive demands by Chinese authorities that citizens download and install it.

The app pushes out official news and images and encourages people to earn points by reading articles, commenting on them and playing quizzes about China and its leader, Xi Jinping.

Use of the app is mandatory among party officials and civil servants and it is tied to wages in some workplaces.

(14) FLYING STEEPLEJACK. “Robotic inspectors developed to fix wind farms”.

Fully autonomous robots that are able to inspect damaged wind farms have been developed by Scots scientists.

Unlike most drones, they don’t require a human operator and could end the need for technicians to abseil down turbines to carry out repairs.

The multi-million pound project is showing how the bots can walk, dive, fly and even think for themselves.

…Aerial drones are already used offshore to inspect hard-to-reach structures.

But this one goes further: it can manoeuvre to attach itself to vertical surfaces and has a robotic arm.

A drone like this could fly to a wind turbine, not just to inspect it but to deploy a sensor or even carry out a repair.

(15) PAPERING THE VAPERS. Pirated Thoughts reports on a battle of the behemoths: “Disney Looks to Extinguish E Cig Named ‘Jedi’”.

The Force is strong in this trademark opposition. Disney is fighting a multi-million dollar tobacco company’s attempt to register the trademark JEDI in association with its line of e-cigarettes.

The word “Jedi” has no other meaning that being associated with the Star Wars franchise as it was coined by George Lucas and the mark first appeared in the 1977 film, Star Wars: A New Hope. Since this time, Lucasfilm has used the mark continuously in its movies, television shows, video games, and on merchandise. Lucasfilm even owns 22 registered ore pending trademarks for the JEDI mark. There can be no doubt but that when you hear the JEDI mark you automatically associate it with the Star Wars franchise.

Godfrey Phillips India Limited is an India-based tobacco company with reported annual revenue of $640 million. That’s a lot of cancer bucks…. 

(16) ASSISTED SPEECH. Well, it’s the Sun, so the dramatic headline obscures the more likely factual claims of the story: “Terminally-ill scientist with motor neurone disease ‘transforms into world’s first full cyborg’”.

  • A laryngectomy has separated Peter’s oesophagus and trachea. The operation prevents the risk of him swallowing and choking on saliva, but removes his voicebox.
  • Though he’ll no longer be able to speak with his biological voice, he’s instead banked his voice on a computer, meaning his new voice will be able to speak emotively – and in other languages if he wants.
  • Scientists have also designed a face avatar, which he can use to show expressions if he loses muscle control.
  • An electric wheelchair enables him to be upright, sitting or laid down.
  • He is fed through a tube and has a catheter and colostomy bag attached so he doesn’t need to eat or use the toilet.

(17) DOGWATCH. Snoopy in Space is coming November 1 to the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.

Blast off with Snoopy as he fulfills his dream to become a NASA astronaut. Joined by Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang, Snoopy takes command of the International Space Station and explores the moon and beyond.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/14/19 Two Little Pixel Scrolls, Staring At The Sun, One Had A Filtered Lens, So Then There Was One

  1. “And the Canon resulting from the subjective aggregate total of those biases, at least in the West, is comprised largely of the works of white males.”

    Keyword is “subjective”. And from whose biases it is aggregated.

    “We are talking about the most influential authors on Western Civilization.”

    No. You are talking about the subjective idea from one conservative white christian american on what he thinks has influenced his part of something he has deemed to call “the western civlization”.

  2. Hampus Eckerman: Harold Bloom would have been surprised to hear himself confidently referred to as a “christian”.

  3. Any one person’s opinion would of course be subjective. But it is an objective fact that Shakespeare has had a greater influence on Western Civ than any woman or non-white author you can name.

    Given that for the last 500-1000 years white men have been driving the Western Civilization train, it doesn’t seem particularly controvertible to suggest that the Canon is mostly written by them. It’s a numbers game.

    But things are changing, and if in the year 2500 some future Bloom comes up with a Canon from 2000-2500, I would be surprised if it was so dominated by white males.

  4. Yes, you can pick Shakespeare. But why would Geoffrey Chaucer be an obvious name above women authors? Samuel Johnson? James Joyce? Why would they get a free pass above Mary Shelley?

  5. Chaucer, given a “free pass”? Read the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry and say that again. It would be hard to envision a Canon that did not include him, or Johnson. Joyce is not, in my mind, such a slam-dunk, but Bloom justifies the choice.

    Mary Shelley is indeed a big deal within the literature of the fantastic, and her influence on current popular culture may be greater than Chaucer, Johnson, or Joyce. But that is not the standard by which Bloom, or other serious critics, judge an author to be Canonical.

    Bloom lays out his rationale for including Chaucer, Johnson, Joyce, and the others; and they strike me as reasonable standards. When judged by them, Shelley does not displace these authors. If you think she does, make the case — how is she important and influential to Western Civilization (as a whole, not just to SFF) — especially moreso than those whom you claim got a free pass?

  6. Yes, I will say that again. A free pass. I can imagine a lot of canons without him, Joyce or Johnson. Unless you by “western civilization” mean “english speaking civilization”?

    So Bloom sets his own subjectivr standard for what should be excluded and a woman is left out. Target me surprised.

  7. And it is also something not accepted by many, which means that there are many expansions and alternatives. Even Blooms publisher wanted an expansion, so Bloom was against his will forced to add an appendix with more works.

    In Sweden, we do not care at all for that canon and are instead discussing creating our own.

  8. There are so many layers of subjectivity and manipulation that have gone into the question of “which writers have been influential to western culture” that it’s hard to take seriously any position that treats it as a matter of objective fact.

    “These are the authors I know about and talk about.” Subjective.

    “These are the authors I choose to acknowledge as having influenced my work.” Subjective and filtered.

    “These are the authors I have chosen to teach others about, resulting in those people being most familiar with these authors.” Subjective and manipulated.

    “These are the authors who write what I am willing to identify as ‘serious literature’ and those authors over there–no matter how popular and how frequently read–are Not Serious and therefore I will decline to treat them as such and those who listen to me will share my opinions.” Subjective, filtered, and manipulated.

    Every person who talks about “the literary canon” is participating in the biased and subjective creation of that canon. And that’s before you start on the questions of whose writing was deliberately suppressed from publication and distribution or consciously eliminated from the conversations that raised up or swept away particular works.

    I mean, really, it’s impossible to take any opinion seriously that does not engage with all these factors and practices. There’s no point in debating individual authors if one hasn’t challenged the entire premise and process of identifying a canon.

  9. @Hampus

    In Sweden, we do not care at all for that canon and are instead discussing creating our own.

    If Shelley ends up in it, and Chaucer does not, I’d sure love to see the standards by which authors are included.

    So Bloom sets his own subjectivr standard for what should be excluded and a woman is left out.

    A particular woman was left out (as were many particular men). But Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf are included. Like I said, if you think a missing author should have been included, make the case. But simply repeating that Shelley’s absence invalidates the whole idea of a Canon, or even this assessment of it, is not persuasive.

    And [the Western Canon] is also something not accepted by many, which means that there are many expansions and alternatives.

    Of course this is true. Bloom’s whole book is a response to the idea that there is no Western Canon. (it sounds like you don’t believe there is one, which makes it silly to complain that Shelley is not in it . . . )

    @Heather Rose Jones

    There are so many layers of subjectivity and manipulation that have gone into the question of “which writers have been influential to western culture” that it’s hard to take seriously any position that treats it as a matter of objective fact.

    That Shakespeare has been the preeminent and most influential author in Western Civilization for the last 500 years is an objective fact. If you disagree, it is straightforward to demonstrate its falsity by naming another author who has been more influential, or at least is not on his short list. I’ll wait.

    It doesn’t sound as if you accept that there is a Western Canon; or that if there is, it is so because critics like Bloom have declared it so. That’s not what is going on. Bloom surveys literature and identifies the influences. That’s what his book is about — influence. Shakespeare is Canonical because of his influence on others, not because Bloom likes him. Same with Chaucer and the other writers he identifies. These aren’t the only 26 authors he finds canonical; he is clear that 26 is a pretty arbitrary stopping point so that his book is of manageable size.
    “Critics do not make canons, any more than resentful networks can create them, and it may be that poets to come will confirm [authors he doesn’t find important] as canonical by finding them to be inescapable influences.”

    whose writing was deliberately suppressed from publication and distribution or consciously eliminated from the conversations . . . it’s impossible to take any opinion seriously that does not engage with all these factors and practices.

    Bloom is describing the Canon as it is; not how it would have been if more women or black writers had been active. The 19th (or 15th) century housewife who was told to put away her stories by her domineering husband never got published. Likewise the Alabama slave of the 1830s who was kept from learning to read. How could they be canonical?

    Bloom says “here are authors whose influence is important”. He doesn’t need to go into the factors that kept huge swaths of society from ever being able to make that list to write the book. If that is the book you want, this isn’t it, but that doesn’t mean his argument is not serious. (Just that you have chosen not to engage it)

    These are the authors who write what I am willing to identify as ‘serious literature’ and those authors over there–no matter how popular and how frequently read–are Not Serious and therefore I will decline to treat them as such

    So an author’s popularity should justify their inclusion in the Canon? How puppy-adjacent of you.

  10. But it is an objective fact that Shakespeare has had a greater influence on Western Civ than any woman or non-white author you can name.

    Saul of Tarsus? I mean we can’t know he wasn’t white but given where he came from and when it would seem unlikely.

  11. Of course, any kind of canon is always arbitrary to a high degree. A canon is not something that just falls from the sky, it is compiled by humans. And these humans, even if they try to be objective, bring their own biasses to the canon they compile. And if generations of students, some of whom will be the next generation of critics and literature professors, are taught that these books are important and worthy and those books over there are forgettable trash, these biasses are passed down from generation to generation, until someone decides to see if “that forgettable trash” really was as forgettable as everybody claims. Also, books and authors who are deemed important are reprinted more frequently, assigned in schools and universities, foisted on generation upon generation of students.

    Also, canons aren’t immutable. Sir Walter Scott was once considered a hugely important author and definitely part of the canon, but his star has been sinking for decades now to the point that choosing Sir Walter Scott is an exam topic was considered eccentric, when I was at university. Or take Felix Dahn and Gustav Freytag, 19th century German writers of historical fiction whose works were on every school reading list up to the mid 20th century. Nowadays, Dahn is completely forgotten and Freytag mainly remembered as the first person who described the dramatic arc of rising action, climax and falling action. Their books, who once were part of the canon and on every school reading list, were out of print by the time I wanted to read them at university and I had to search used book stores to acquire a copy.

    Pretty much everybody would agree that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller belong in any western canon (Germans usually include Gotthold Ephraim Lessing as well). However, their contemporaries August von Kotzebue and Goethe’s brother-in-law Christian August Vulpius, both of whom were more famous during their lifetimes, are largely forgotten these days. Kotzbue fell from grace for his political views, while Vulpius is dismissed as a writer of trivial adventure stories. But was a novel about a rebel bandit trying to free Corsica from French rule, published 1799, really so trivial? Also, it’s interesting that Vulpius’ fame survived him for several decades. Herman Melville briefly refers to Vulpius’ most famous novel Rinaldo Rinaldini, while a performance of a play by Kotzebue plays an important part in Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

    Regarding the often systematic exclusion of women writers with a handful of exceptions from “the western canon”, “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” by Joanna Russ may be an eye-opening read to everybody who believes that canons are just about literary merit. Two really notable omissions from Bloom’s western canon are Charlotte and Emily Bronte (and Anne Bronte, for that matter). Meanwhile, Joanna Russ recalls that even in the 1970s, there wre debates whether the Brontes were relevant enough at all to show up on university reading lists – after all, they were just spinsters writing gothic novels. At the time, Jane Eyre was the only of Charlotte Bronte’s novels that was still in print, while poor neglected Anne was completely out of print.

    As for Mary Shelley, until very recently she was dismissed merely as the lover/wife of Percy Shelley, the great poet, and viewed as an unimportant writer of gothic novels, a genre that everybody knew was overly silly and melodramatic. At university in the 1990s, I was taught that the gothic novels from the late 18th century, many of whom were written by women, were silly and melodramatic and not worth bothering – by a female professor who was something of a canon rebel herself. Yet she uncritically accepted that all gothic novels were silly and irrelevant, because she’d been taught they were. Nowadays, very few people except maybe the late Harold Bloom will deny that Mary Shelley made important contributions to western literature, even though Ann Radcliffe, queen of the gothic novel, is still dismissed.

    Many of the most popular and bestselling authors of the Victorian era were women. “The Wide Wide World” by Susan Warner a.k.a. Elizabeth Wetherell, “The Lamplighter” by Maria Susanna Cummins or the many novel of E.D.E.N. Southworth were some of the biggest sellers in the US in 19th century. This was the mob of scribbling women who so infuriated Nathaniel Hawthorne. Meanwhile in Germany, the rising bourgeoisie was devouring the novels of Eugenie Marlitt, much to the anger of male writers like Theodor Fontane (though Mark Twin praised one of Marlitt’s novels, which he apparently encountered in his attempt to learn German). Nowadays, Hawthorne and Fontane are part of the canon, while Marlitt is dismissed as a writer of trivial romances and Warner/Wetherell, Cummins and Southworth are almost completely forgotten. I have read both Eugenie Marlitt and Susan Warner and neither deserves being forgotten. Marlitt in particular is something of a proto-feminist and was concerned with social issues, while Warner wrote about the strictures imposed on women during the Victorian era. Unimportant trivial writers? I think not.

    Taking a look at our own genre, recall how the Cyberpunks, most notably Bruce Sterling, dismissed the SFF of the 1970s as unimportant, uninteresting and insular and everybody accepted this as gospel. Until you actually start to look at SFF of the 1970s and find a lot of feminist SFF.

  12. bill:

    “A particular woman was left out (as were many particular men). But Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf are included.”

    And for some reason, a canon over western civilization did not even include one German, Spanish or French woman author. No Sisters Bronté? Christine de Pizan? Madame de Lafayette?

    Harold Bloom is defending an academic conservative canon from what authors are big in US. Not a western canon. In Sweden, we would without a doubt have added Selma Lagerlöf. Other countries would have added their known authors.

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