Pixel Scroll 10/17/23 The Pixel Of Durian Grey

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

  • Online platform launched

The con website has a page about the online/streaming functionality, with a link to the online site, and a list of which panels and events will be streamed.  There are several broken images at the bottom of that page though, which I think are the instructions on how to use the online site, which were fortunately also posted to Facebook.

Only 18 programme items will be streamed — not including the online only events that were listed in the previously-published schedule – and several of them run in parallel to each other.  Around half look to be very businessy and corporate, and none other than the Hugo Ceremony strike me as fannish in nature.

Wednesday 2023-10-18

  • 09:30-12:00 The 81st Worldcon Sci-fi Design Summit
  • 13:00-15:30 “Future is Here”: Multi-dimensional Exploration of a New Pattern of User Experience in the Sci-fi Industry
  • 13:00-15:30 Forum on the Development of Intellectual Property Rights and SF Industry
  • 20:00-21:20 Opening Ceremony

Thursday 2023-10-19

  • 09:30-10:30 Sci-fi Narratives of Advanced Spaceflight
  • 14:30-17:00 “Grasping the Future”: Annual Selection of the Outstanding Performers in Sci-fi Fields

Friday 2023-10-20

  • 09:30-12:00 First Industry Development Promotion Conference
  • 13:00-15:30 Sci-Fi x Space – Connecting the Past and Future of Humanity and the Universe
  • 16:00-18:30 AIGC: A Creative New World

Saturday 2023-10-21 

  • 09:30-12:00 Science Fiction VS Science Facts
  • 09:30-12:00 Science Fiction Film & TV VFX Summit
  • 09:30-12:00 Songs of Space Engineers: A Discussion of Engineering Science Fiction
  • 13:00-14:00 How to Interpret the “Symbiosis Era”: A Conversation with Robert Sawyer
  • 14:00-17:00 Three-Body Global Fan Event
  • 19:00-21:00 Hugo Award Ceremony

Sunday 2023-10-22

  • 09:30-10:30 Launch Event of the Top Ten Future Tech in Science Fiction
  • 09:30-12:00 Believe in the Future: A Conversation Between Rising Sci-fi Stars of Chengdu and Sci-fi Giants
  • 18:00-19:00 Closing Ceremony

The online functionality is accessed via a videogamey 3D environment with avatars, which seems designed for use on a phone or tablet rather than a PC, and seems to have insufficient functionality to justify its existence.

  • Press conferences and interviews in Chengdu media

On Monday 16th there was a “Press Briefing for Preparations of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon”, with coverage from Red Star News/chengdu.cn here.

There was also a press conference about a series of open-air screenings of SF movies in Chengdu, although this doesn’t seem to be officially connected to the Worldcon.

Astounding Award finalist Maijia Liu was also interviewed by Chengdu Daily Jinguan News, as was Best Short Story finalist, Lu Ban.

There is a page on the chengdu.cn website dedicated to Worldcon articles; I assume more will be added as the con progresses.

  • A couple of Bilibili videos

A local SF writer tours the museum, and interviews a director of Zaha Hadid architects and someone from the construction company.

Here’s a short (sub one-minute) video of the Worldcon-branded light rail train in action.  Given that it follows tracks that cross a street, I’m wondering if it would be more accurately classed as a tram?  I’m sure there will be Filers who are also transport buffs, and can clarify the difference.

A short video of the Hugo Hall, and a drone show outside.

  • Some photo galleries

Best Fan Writer and Best Fanzine finalist RiverFlow posted on Weibo photos of the con’s welcoming/information team at the airport, and later on photos at the hotel, with a number of Chinese and Western writers and fans in attendance.

On Xiaohongshu, this gallery shows a couple of exhibits and signage that I haven’t seen before, and there are a couple more showing the drone show (1)(2).

  • Worldcon-branded “cyberpunk” restrooms

Xiaohongshu video.  A transliteration of cyberpunk – 赛博朋克 / “Sàibópéngkè” – is indeed how they are described in the text of the Xiaohongshu post.

  • A dozen new items of merchandise available

Three posts on Xiaohongshu – (1)(2)(3) – show images of twelve new pieces of merchandise.  These focus on the Kormo mascot, but a few do have Chengdu Worldcon branding.  The images here are the items which either have the Chengdu Worldcon logo and/or strike me as the ones that File 770 readers are most likely to be interested in.  They are:

  • Pillow book (Imust confess I’m not sure exactly what this is)
  • Square notebook
  • Phone case
  • Laptop bag
  • Aluminium file
  • Clipboard

Unfortunately the posted images aren’t enough to see any details – such as which models of phone the cases are designed for – and there are no links to any online stores.

  • Silvana’s Twitter thread

Indonesian fan Silvana has arrived on site and has started a Twitter thread, in English and with plenty of photos.  So far everything has gone smoothly for her, and she received a warm welcome from the locals.

  • Three-Body Global Fan Event

The Three-Body Universe licensing company posted on Weibo a series of 3BP-related events to be held at the Worldcon.  Robert J. Sawyer is a panelist on one of these events, but it’s unclear to me what his connection is to 3BP.

Also, just following up on a comment in a recent Scroll about the precise name of the con venue, the image in the post gives the Chinese name as “成都科幻馆” (Chengdu Kehuan Guan / Chengdu Science Fiction Museum), but the English name as “Chengdu Science (Science Fiction) Museum”.

  • A better look at the articles in the Hello Chengdu magazine feature

This was briefly covered in an earlier Scroll, but I belatedly noticed that this Facebook post from the con’s account has images that show the articles are bilingual, and in high enough resolution for them to be readable if you have a big monitor.

  • New promo video

The Chengdu Plus YouTube and Bilibili accounts posted a new promo video.  It shows lots of drone shots inside and outside the museum.  A word-of-warning: the English language voiceover is a Caillou-ish adult-pretending-to-be-a-child thing, which I personally find akin to nails-on-a-chalkboard.

  • Local food options

There have been a few Xiaonhongshu posts about street food catering in the area around the museum; I’m not sure how far away they are though, as the museum isn’t visible in any of the photos.  Posts onetwothree.  Note: I’m not sure if these are actually from two different locations, maybe someone who is already on site can clarify?

  • Staff badge

Following on from yesterday’s member badges, here’s a look at a staff badge, with the completed Wandering Earth “Benben” vehicle in the background.

  • Members of the con team meet up at the SF World offices

Yao Haijun, deputy editor-in-chief of SF World and a Best Editor Long Form finalist, posted a few photos of when Ben Yalow, Helen Montgomery and Carolina Gomez-Lagerlof visited the SF World office a few days ago.  He also includes a few historical photos.

  • Another video of Ben Yalow and Carolina Gomez Lagerlof visiting the Hua-ai school

This Xiaohongshu post shows the visit to the school just over the road from the science museum, covering more of the activities that the students showed to the two visiting members of the con team than the earlier video.

(2) ANOTHER LEARNEDLEAGUE SFF ONE-DAY. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The site just had a quiz about Star Trek: Lower Decks. I’ve never watched it, so didn’t try the questions, but anyone who wants to see them can find them here.

(3) MARINDA DARNELL DIES. Chicon 8 told their Facebook page readers yesterday that fan Marinda Darnell has died.

Marinda was always there for Chicago Fandom, particularly Capricon (which she chaired in 2016) and then Chicon 8. She was so generous with her time and such an important part of our team at C8. She started with a small job, was amazing, and then just kept taking on more things. At the convention she stepped up when one of our area heads was ill and handled IT. She got a Hero of the Convention medal, and was one of the people I gave a shout out to at closing ceremonies. She was a force.

She was fierce and passionate and loved Chicago Fandom. I/We have no words to express how much she will be missed. Our condolences to all who loved her.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 17, 1914 Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 89. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazingly superb! There’s a BBC video series of the latter but I’ve not seen it.
  • Born October 17, 1946 Bruce McAllister, 77. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his three novels.  His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War with a definite SF take to it. His Dream Baby novelette was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, and his “Kin” short story was nominated at Nippon 2007.
  • Born October 17, 1950 Michael Tolkin, 73. Of genre interest, he directed Deep Impact, and he had uncredited writing in the first Punisher film and the same for Dawn of the Dead. Likewise The Haunting. Is that a form of ghostwriting? EoSF notes, “He also wrote and directed the adaptation of Robert A Heinlein’s ‘Jerry Was a Man’ (October 1947 Thrilling Wonder) for the Television Anthology Series Masters of Science Fiction (2007).”
  • Born October 17, 1958 Jo Fletcher, 65. British editor who, after working for Gollancz for 16 years, founded Jo Fletcher Books in 2011. Interestingly ISFDB says she’s done two World Fantasy Convention souvenir books, Gaslight & Ghosts and Secret City: Strange Tales of London, both with Stephen Jones. She also wrote with him the British Report aka The London Report for Science Fiction Chronicle. Appropriately for the approaching holiday is that one of her anthologies is Horror at Halloween.
  • Born October 17, 1966 Mark Gatiss, 57. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll note he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.
  • Born October 17, 1971 Patrick Ness, 52. Best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls. He’s also the creator and writer of the Doctor Who spin-off Class series. And he’s written a Doctor Who story, “Tip of the Tongue”, a Fifth Doctor story. He won The Otherwise Award for The Knife of Never Letting Go, and his Monster Calls novel won both a Carnegie and a Kitschie as well being nominated for a Stoker and a Clarke.


(6) TRON. “‘The helmet made my hair fall out’: Jeff Bridges on making cult sci-fi film Tron” in the Guardian.

Jeff Bridges, played Kevin Flynn/Clu

In the late 1950s my father, Lloyd Bridges, starred in a TV series called Sea Hunt, about a diver. He played the part so well that people thought he was a real diver. So in the early days of my career, I was always looking for scripts that were unusual. Scripts like Tron feel risky but it’s actually much harder to fail when you’re doing something so innovative. There’s nothing for the film to be compared to.

We shot in 70mm and in black and white. The sets were all made of black duvetyne, a matt, light-blocking fabric, with white adhesive tape to make the lines. Our costumes were black and white, too. Being on set was the oddest feeling – your eyes would adjust to the black and white, then you’d go outside and the colour of the every day would zoom into your eyes. It was amazing. After we shot, the footage went to Korea where women hand-painted every frame. It was very primitive and very advanced all at the same time.

I looked to the director, Steven Lisberger, for inspiration. Since he co-wrote the story, I figured my character, Flynn, was very Steven-like. I can’t remember why, but I decided to curl my hair for the part. For the scenes of me inside the computer, I had to wear these white hockey helmets. My hair had been bleached to get the curl in, and I remember it falling out because of the helmet. The peroxide would get hot and the roots would break.

Steven lined the walls of the soundstages with video games you could play for free – and, man, we studied them big time! I got into one called Battlezone that was very Tron-like. I got some high scores and had this big battle with the makeup man, which he ended up winning. They’d call me for a shot and I’d say: “No way, man! The actor is preparing!” And I’d just be on Battlezone. They’d have to yank me off – but Steven understood….

(7) LAVA LAVA, LAVA LAVA, LAVA LAVA, DUCK [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s turning 60, but is the lava lamp from manufacturer Mathmos genre? OK, sure. Or at least it could be. First, there’s the generally rocket shape of many of the lamps. Then, there’s the Doctor Who and The Prisoner connections. Plus you have the Mathmos in Barbarella. Heck, the company is even bringing out a new version developed with pop group Duran Duran—another Barbarella connection.

Well, genre or not, we can still congratulate Mathmos—a small British company still cranking out products after 60 years. “‘Ingrained in the fabric of British society’: the iconic lava lamp turns 60” in the Guardian.

…When Ringo Starr popped into a shop in Birkenhead in 1963, little did he know that his visit would help change the future of what was to become a celebrated British brand.

The Beatles’ drummer had stopped off to buy a lava lamp, the brightly coloured interior piece that has hypnotised millions over the years with its slow-moving exchange of liquid and warmed wax inside a glass cylinder. After the Birkenhead shop announced its celebrity visit, sales of the lamp rocketed.

Then came lava lamp appearances on episodes of Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton era and in the 1965 film Dr Who and the Daleks starring Peter Cushing. It also featured in the 1960s/70s TV hit The Prisoner, and soon its role as a cultural mainstay was established.

Now the brand is turning 60, and, against all the challenges of a changing audience, economic downturns, the rise of online shopping and Brexit, sales are still going strong….

(8) SNL MAKES THE ATTEMPT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The writers strike is over. Saturday Night Live is back on TV. And here’s a skit from the first episode of the season, broadcast October 14. (It’s rather meh. Maybe the writers need more practice.)

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] “Star Trek: The Silent Skies” is a collection of visuals that purport to be a 1920s film era reimagination of Star Trek. Just images and a few scenes. No dialogue. 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Lise Andreasen, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/17/23 The Pixel Of Durian Grey

  1. Update on my mother: Despite her bloodstream O2 and CO2 numbers being very good — that was supposedly the problem two weeks ago — she is not rebounding. I was told she has congestive heart failure. Waiting to find out more tomorrow.

  2. (0) Mike – how’s your mom?
    (1) There’s waaaayyyy too much commercialization of Worldcon, and I’m not happy with it.
    Birthdays: Alan Garner, YES! Wonderful storyteller.
    (6) The number of major plot holes in Tron… The Jersey Turnpike, approaching NYC, could be driven through them.
    (7) Are you telling me you don’t have a lava lamp? (I really need to replace the red that my late ex got rid of, to go with the blue I have….)
    (9) Video of the day… I WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE!!! The WHOLE thing! (And I want that starship.)

  3. Thinking of you and your mother, Mike.

    Yes, TRON had plot holes you could drive a Recognizer through, but I don’t care — the visuals and the music were just mind-blowing back in the day (and still are today, for that matter).

  4. Sorry to hear about your Mom, Mike. Sending good vibes.

    Regarding RiverFlow’s Chengdu photos, I found it very amusing to see German candy like Haribo Goldbären and Krügerol throat lozenges among the photos.

  5. I should’ve noted that Garner wrote his first novel in almost a decade, Treacle Walker, which is getting either fantastic reviews or what the f— ones. But the novel before that, Bineland, had the same reception.

  6. (9) That video is one of a rather large collection (over 100 in total, I believe), under the Shortyverse “brand” on YouTube. Collectively they define their “1920 Universe”. Some of the videos are available in both the “original“ black-and-white plus a “colorized“ version. Most of them are visually gorgeous, just like the one linked above.

  7. 1)

    The online functionality is accessed via a videogamey 3D environment with avatars.

    Facepalm. Just give people the data, you idiots.

    6) I saw Tron about a zillion times at the dollar theater t
    when it came out.

  8. (1)

    a) Way too boring and corporate, but even in a People’s Republic, you gotta tack on a completely unrelated thing to get the money/permission to do it, I guess? And that’s what gets streamed, instead of things actual human beings (of any nationality) would be interested in. Makes the US look less capitalist by comparison. I don’t recall Raytheon demanding their products get any daily timeslots, much less most of them.

    b) Can I LOL at China having anything to say about IP other than “we will never enforce it”?

    c) The online portal: another case of just because you can doesn’t mean you should. What’s wrong with static web pages for that? Much quicker for everyone.

    d) I think a pillow book is a diary. (It looks like a diary.) And it’s also a rather naughty movie.

    (9) Is that a 1920s-authentic screen shape?

    Still thinking of you, Mike.

  9. (3) Marinda Darnell worked on Pemmi-Con and was amazing. A lot of positive energy. It was a sad day when she had to resign for health reasons. We were all hoping she would beat the cancer. She will be missed.

  10. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is a sort of personal journal – in this case, one kept by Sei Shonagon, a lady of the imperial court in Heian era Japan. It’s called a pillow book because you keep it in your pillow – a traditional Japanese pillow being a block of wood, sometimes with a small compartment for keeping personal items. So that’s what a Japanese pillow book is, anyway – whether the Chinese mean the same thing, I couldn’t say.

    (Sei Shonagon has diacritics, but I can’t do diacritics on my Kindle, sorry.)

  11. (1) I have been hoping since the bid won that Chengdu would be a successful Worldcon. I have been watching throughout the process, worrying that it would not work out. Last night I told myself that the time for worrying was over, it’s time to see what the team can do – let’s have a Worldcon.

    And then I spent over an hour trying to engage with the Virtual Worldcon event. I failed. Once I finally figured out that it’s designed for mobile use (found data that more Chinese use phones than computers to access the internet), I was able to get around it a little better. Of course, that’s because I’m sighted – anyone using a screen reader, as many SFF fans do, is shut out from the virtual event entirely.

    But the only things I could find to do were the “Live Planet” (where I checked out the design summit, which was only in Chinese) and the “Conference Planet” (where the Humor in SFF panel did not seem to be working). There was no content for me to engage with as a non-Chinese speaker. I found a bunch of Chinese text on the “Business Planet” but in their system it’s not selectable, so I can’t put it through a translator. On the “Social Planet” I can see people waving at me, and I can mime taking a drink, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to talk to anyone. Even if there were, all names appear to be randomly assigned characters, and you cannot change them, so who is anyone?

    I would very much like to know what the Chinese social media sites are saying about this online experience, because as a non-Chinese I have no idea what is going on and cannot engage in the convention. I hope the experience is better for Chinese fans who are not attending in person.

  12. When Worldcon (hopefully) comes to Los Angeles in 2026, things will be different.

    The nationalistic approach in China this year is as a result of the way all things are handled in China. I’m not at all surprised by this.

    If you want commercialization, go to San Diego Comic Con. It used to be a small, comic book oriented convention. I went in 1980. I will NEVER go to the overcrowded, stand-in-line for hours to see a “star” or a “panel.”

  13. I’m sorry to hear about your mother, Mike. I will light a candle, say a prayer
    and hope there is good news in the offing.

    1) “Future is Here”: Multi-dimensional Exploration of a New Pattern of User Experience in the Sci-fi Industry.
    What the fuck does that even mean? I’ve heard of world salad before, but this is like goddam word spaghetti or something.
    Also 1) “Forum on the Development of Intellectual Property Rights and SF Industry” Yeah, I can’t wait to hear the CCP’s opinion on intellectual property rights given their historic and rigorous respect for them thus far.
    Also also 1) “…and seems to have insufficient functionality to justify its existence.” To be fair, you could also say the same thing about at least 50% of the federal government.

    4) This might be super basic but Superman has never left my top three favorite superheroes, perched comfortably up there with Batman and Captain America. They’re all aspirational, in different ways.
    Also 4) ‘Jekyll’ is an underrated gem that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as it deserves.

  14. @Mike
    Here’s hoping you get good news.

    My mother must be improving because she just called to ask to swing by with her good toothpaste and toothbrush. And more shirts.

    (1) It’s like a WorldCon crossed with the Olympics crossed with a ComicCon.

  15. 1) “The online functionality is accessed via a videogamey 3D environment with avatars.”

    It’s been awhile, but a small con I went to a few years ago had this same type of interface; it was kind of cheesy, but you didn’t need to use it for everything. Can’t remember the name of the app…

    Best wishes for your mom, Mike!

  16. @ja.- Perhaps it was Gathertown? They’re a 2-D videogamey environment that some small cons have used. I dislike it very much, but I would much rather the Chengdu event were there than in the completely incomprehensible system it’s in.

    Mike, sorry I overlooked it – best wishes to your mom.

  17. (6) Battlezone! That was my “go to” video game in college! (Personal best: 1,196,000 in about 30 minutes) Nice to know Jeff and I were sympatico on that–and I did enjoy Tron.

  18. (1) subpoint 9: It doesn’t really matter what size your monitor is; the photos can be expanded to the maximum either through FB’s zoom/magnifying glass icon, or your browser’s “Show Image”.

  19. The Chengdu “train” is indeed a “tram” or “light rail vehicle” to Americans. Although I did walk past the tram stop on the day before the convention, I did not get to see the specially-branded tram.

    I’d worked out a transit route between TFU airport and the hotel (three metro/subway lines, then the tram), but that wasn’t needed when they sent a car to collect Donald Eastlake and me from the airport for the roughly 100 km trip, for which I’m grateful.

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