Pixel Scroll 10/28/22 Captain Pixel Versus The Winter Solistice

(1) TUNE IN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] On the B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 this week we had…

Radio play. It is the day after tomorrow. The NHS is history and the Artificial Intelligence health app Medpatch has ushered in a new era of diagnosis and treatment. As ex-health workers adjust to a vanished career, Jenna, a former doctor, finds herself employed on a new frontier of public health. And she’s about to make a discovery. Thriller about healthcare and technology.

Drawing on the revolution in remote, smartphone led diagnostics and advances in health AI, it’s a thriller about how much of ourselves we’re willing to hand to the private sector. And as corporations vie to become the Google of Health – Welcome to Medpatch considers questions about technology and healthcare which may have to be answered sooner than we think.

Radio play. A Hallowe’en adventure for the immortal mediator. Pilgrim donates an impossibly valuable artwork to Timbermoor museum, to keep it open and maintaining a particular shabby exhibit…..

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Rachel Pollack publicly announced to Facebook readers that she is in remission.

Important Announcement

I want to share with everyone, especially the many many people who have sent prayers and healing energy and spells—I am in remission. The oncologist had told me this over the phone but I really needed to hear it in person and today I saw him. The treatment was hard and it’s going to take some time to recover but the mass is gone!

A special super thank you to all the amazing people who contributed to the Go Fund Me campaign. It’s made such a huge difference and will continue to as I heal and grow stronger. Thank you!

(3) SF READER IS KILLED. A murder victim’s affinity for the work of Isaac Asimov is a detail in The Daily Beast’s coverage: “Kansas City Cops Want Alexa Audio After South American Medical Researchers’ Murder”.

…Behrensen, an Isaac Asimov lover with a penchant for middle-distance running, was described as “a brilliant young woman with a vibrant intellect” by colleagues and faculty at the Stowers Institute….

The information came from the Stowers Institute directory: “2020 Predoctoral Researchers | Graduate School of the Stowers Institute”:

“Camila Behrensen might have Isaac Asimov to thank for her love of science. Growing up, Asimov was her favorite author, in part because of how he was able to explain complicated concepts in ways that everyone could understand. “

Authorities believe they have identified the man who murdered Behrensen: “Shock Slaying of Two Medical Researchers Tied to Grisly Discovery in Missouri Woods” at MSN.com.

Police investigating the murder-suicide of a man and a woman found in Missouri woods made another shocking discovery: one of them was responsible for a double murder of two researchers two weeks earlier….

(4) LONGSTOCKING SHORTHAND. There a project to “decrypt” shorthand pads of writer Astrid Lindgren, famous for Pippi Longstocking, Ronja the Robber’s daughter etc. She wrote all her first drafts in shorthand. Here’s a report about it: “Secretaries at Work: Accessing Astrid Lindgren’s Stenographed Manuscripts through Expert Crowdsourcing”.

…The Astrid Lindgren Code project [3] explores Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s original manuscripts in Melin shorthand (stenography). Lindgren’s stenography has for long been considered “undecipherable” [4, 5] and has therefore never been subjected to study, making manual interpretation the only existing possibility of accessing the material as well as providing training data for future research [6]. Nevertheless, crowdsourcing has proven to be unexpectedly successful in producing transliterations of Lindgren’s stenographed notepads. With 170 volunteers signing up for decoding, prolific attempts during the Spring of 2021 have resulted in a full transliteration of the drafts to novel The Brothers Lionheart (1973) in approximately five weeks….

(5) THIS JUST IN. It is reliably reported that “George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman Hate Hollywood Changing Source Material”. Can you imagine? Variety heard them say it.

George R.R. Martin reflected on his literary and Hollywood career, and shared stories about book tour mishaps and Hollywood “morons,” in a conversation with “The Sandman” author Neil Gaiman at New York City’s Symphony Space Thursday night.

Martin was promoting his book “The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One,” a massive “deluxe reference book” about Westeros’ most powerful family…. 

…As someone who has been on both sides of screen adaptations of literature, Martin discussed the “obligation to be faithful to the written material,” which he said is a “controversial” issue in Hollywood. The author made it clear where he stands: “How faithful do you have to be? Some people don’t feel that they have to be faithful at all. There’s this phrase that goes around: ‘I’m going to make it my own.’ I hate that phrase. And I think Neil probably hates that phrase, too.”

“I do,” Gaiman responded. “I spent 30 years watching people make ‘Sandman’ their own. And some of those people hadn’t even read ‘Sandman’ to make it their own, they’d just flipped through a few comics or something.” Gaiman added that it was a “joy” getting to make Season 1 of “The Sandman” on Netflix, and Martin energized the crowd by saying, “We want Season 2!”

Martin continued, “There are changes that you have to make — or that you’re called upon to make — that I think are legitimate. And there are other ones that are not legitimate.”…

(6) RED PLANET SYMPATHIZER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Although Bradbury and Asimov are mentioned in this book excerpt the emphasis of the piece is on the FBI’s investigation of Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre. “Dracula vs. the FBI” at CrimeReads.

…Several figures who continue to shape the American tradition of horror, fantasy, and science fiction received the FBI’s unwonted concern. Ray Bradbury, with his tales of an America perpetually facing a thing at the top of the stairs, had forty pages of material assembled by agents who suspected his then-genial liberalism hid communist sympathies.(13) The report included the contention that “he has been described as being critical of the United States government.” In a memo, now available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FBI copied their colleagues at the CIA, violating the agencies’ proscription against surveillance and investigation of private American citizens. Large portions of Bradbury’s file are redacted, but what we can read makes clear that the FBI worried that the author planned to travel to Cuba and take part in a writer’s conference “whose [sic] goal of action is to obtain unity in the fight against anti-imperialism.”

What interested the FBI in Bradbury to begin with, particularly given that his file admits “there is no evidence” he ever “ joined the CP”? For the FBI, the idea that Bradbury suggested in The Martian Chronicles that humans came to the red planet as “despoilers and not developers” sounded a bit too much like a critique of imperial America, both in its frontier past and Cold War present….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1953 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-nine years ago It Came From Outer Space premiered, the first in the 3D films released from Universal-International. It was from a story written by Ray Bradbury. The script was by Harry Essex.

Billed by the studio as science fiction horror and I’ll get to why in the SPOILERS section, it was directed by Henry Arnold who would soon be responsible for two genre classics, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man, the latter of which of course won a Hugo at Solacon (1958).

HORROR, ERRR, SPOILERS, ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN. BEWARE!

Amateur sky watcher (as played by Richard Carlson) and schoolteacher Ellen Fields (as played Barbara Rush) see a large meteorite crash near the small town in Arizona. Being curios and not at cautious (who is in these films?), they investigate.

Putnam sees the object and knows it is a spacecraft but everyone else laughs at him. People start disappearing. (Cue chilling music.) The sheriff opts for a violent answer, but Putnam wants a peaceful resolution.

In the end, a Bradburyan solution happens, atypical of these Fifties pulp SF films and the aliens get what they need to leave without anyone, human or alien, dying. 

YOU CAN COME BACK NOW.

The screenplay by Harry Essex, with extensive input by the director Jack Arnold, was based on an original and quite lengthy screen treatment by Bradbury. It is said that Bradbury wrote the screenplay and Harry Essex merely changed the dialogue and took the credit. There is no actual written documentation of this though, so it may or may not be true.

It made back twice its eight hundred thousand budget in the first year. 

Many, many critics took to be an anti-communist film about an invasion of America. However Bradbury pointed out that “I wanted to treat the invaders as beings who were not dangerous, and that was very unusual.” 

Final note: It Came from Outer Space is one of the classic films mentioned in the opening theme (“Science Fiction/Double Feature”) film of The Rocky Horror Show and the film.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 28, 1944 Ian Marter. Best remembered for his role as Harry Sullivan, a companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors. After leaving the series, he wrote nine novels, plus a look at his time there. He died suddenly of a diabetic heart attack on his forty-second birthday. (Died 1986.) 
  • Born October 28, 1951 Joe Lansdale, 71. Writer and screenwriter whose DCU Jonah Hex animated screenplays are far superior to the live action Hex film. Bubba Ho-Tep, an American comedy horror film starring Bruce Campbell, is his best-known genre work though he has done a number of another works including The God of The Razor and Reverend Jedidiah Mercer series which are definitely Weird Westerns. 
  • Born October 28, 1951 William H. Patterson, Jr. Author of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, a two-volume look at Heinlein which arguably is the best biography ever done on him. He also did The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This Tribute to Bill Patterson by Mike with comments by Filers is touching indeed. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 28, 1957 Catherine Fisher, 65. Welsh poet and children’s novelist who writes in English. I’d suggest The Book of The Crow series of which Corbenic won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Her Incarceron and Sapphique also earned a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature nomination. 
  • Born October 28, 1958 Amy Thomson, 64. Writer of four novels, including Virtual Girl. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her short fiction “The Ransom of Princess Starshine” appeared in 2017 in Stupefying Stories, edited by Bruce Bethke.
  • Born October 28, 1967 Julia Roberts, 55. How can I resist giving Birthday Honors to Tinker Bell in Hook? Not to mention she was in the seriously weird Flatliners that I saw at a virtually empty theater. Of course, there’s the even weirder Mary Reilly with her in the title role. For something more charming, she voiced Charlotte the Spider in Charlotte‘s Web. I’m going to skip her as a Smurf I think…
  • Born October 28, 1982 Matt Smith, 40. The Eleventh Doctor of course. My third favorite of the modern Doctors behind Ten and Thirteen.  His first-ever role was as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North. (Billie Piper was Sally Lockhart.) He was the physical embodiment of Skynet in Terminator Genisys. Huh. And he played a vampire in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe spin-off film Morbius where he was Milo. Finally I’ll note as Daemon Targaryen in the series House of the Dragon. 

(9) BOOK BAN EFFORTS PROLIFERATE. “Panel Explores Surge in Book Bans, Policies Targeting the LGBTQ Community” at Publishers Weekly.

With a wave of book bans and educational gag orders still surging across the country, an online panel this week explored how the bans are targeting and impacting the LGBTQ community—and how concerned communities can push back. Sponsored by ACLU People PowerHachette Book GroupLambda Literary, and We Need Diverse Books, the timely discussion (the issue of book bans featured in gubernatorial debates this week in a number of states ahead of the mid-term elections) the discussion was led by the ACLU’s Gillian Branstetter and featured BookRiot writer Kelly Jensen; Stephana Ferrell, co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, and authors Mark Oshiro and Lev AC Rosen.

Kicking off the discussion, Branstetter asked Jensen to break down the widely-reported statistics showing a sharp spike in attempted book bans and educational gag orders across the country over the last two years. Jensen, a former librarian who has been reporting widely on the surge in book bans in communities across the country for BookRiot, wasted no time in pulling the figures into focus, arguing that the bans are impacting as many as four million students across the country.

“That’s four million students who are having books taken from them, and it’s happening everywhere in the country,” Jensen said…. 

(10) MOOMIN APPROPRIATION. Yle Uutiset reports:“Moomin features in anti-Finland propaganda on Moscow streets”.

Propaganda posters mocking two of Finland’s and Sweden’s most popular children’s characters have been recently spotted on the streets of Moscow, Russia.

The posters show an illustration of Uncle Sam, representing the United States, holding two puppets — Moominpappa and Pippi Longstocking.

The now-iconic characters were created in the mid 1900s by Finnish artist and author Tove Jansson and Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.

The poster’s text, in Russian, warns: “Don’t be toys in the wrong hands!”

Below the illustration appears to be a quote from Jansson’s sixth children’s book, Tales from Moominvalley.

The poster’s message ostensibly refers to claims by some in Russia that Finland and Sweden would become puppets of the United States after the two Nordic countries join Nato….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Ahrvid Engholm, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

14 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/28/22 Captain Pixel Versus The Winter Solistice

  1. Paul Weimer says Once again, second to you, Cat

    Oh, did the Package come?

    Yes this afternoon. I was busy as Mike can tell with medical matters earlier. It’s a brilliant Autumn, so thank you much!

  2. Andrew not Werdna, the third

    And to think we changed you to “Andrew (not Werdna)” to keep you from getting confused with the other people signing themselves Andrew — and now there are three of you!

  3. Every time I start on hating when Hollywood changes stories, people come down on me. Now that GRRM and Gaiman have said the same, maybe some of you will admit that at least some of the time, I’m right in what I’m saying? I mean, really, if someone makes a new film of, say, The Old Man and the Sea, every review will compare it to the book. But SF, or fantasy? Oh, not, that doesn’t matter, they had to do that…..

    Thanks, btw – I didn’t know, or at least didn’t remember Stupifying Stories. Now there’s another market, when they open for submissions again… and what’s in the current issue looks like stuff I will enjoy reading.

  4. @Mike

    And to think we changed you to “Andrew (not Werdna)” to keep you from getting confused with the other people signing themselves Andrew — and now there are three of you!

    I believe i started Andrew (not Werdna) on this road long ago by asking if he were the same Andrew from an earlier Scroll, so i just have to jump in and state:
    He’s not a 3rd Andrew here, just Andrew (not Werdna) the third, meaning son of Andrew (not Werdna) Jr, son of Andrew (not Werdna) Sr!!

    Too pedantic/nitpicky? I’ll show myself out.

  5. Multiple Andrews… I know a Scottish fan, Nojay Sneddon. The Nojay indicates he is not the one with a middle initial “J”, and he was using it when we met him at Magicon….

  6. @mark

    Make some room for me on that “Told you so” bench will ya? I was getting tired of standing next to it all the time.

    It’s the attitude, the arrogance, the belief that their dollars entitle them to that degree, that is the catalyst. It is so aggravating, it can cause otherwise semi-sane authors to leap across board room tables in attempts to grab throats.

  7. From contexr, it reads as if Camila Behrensen was a fan of Asimov’s pop-science essays more than of his fiction, but still a useful and horrible matter to have memorialized here. I always liked his essays on chemistry, astronomy and the history of science better than all but the best of his fiction. (For whatever reason, despite finding extreme mathematics intensely interesting, his essays on math always struck me as among his weakest.)

  8. 1) BBC Radio 4 have been doing really good audio drama. I’m particularly fond of The Lovecraft Investigations, which resets three of HPL’s better stories in our foul times, and Tracks, a conspiracy thriller/medical horror which is not for the squeamish.

  9. Changing the original story when adapting a work varies from necessity to respectful departure to new examination of the core themes to rescuing the good parts of something from the bigotry of its time to a complete travesty. The last, the one Gaiman and Martin are discussing, tends to happen when someone tries to change it purely from commercial motive and without a deep love for the source material. And evil necessity usually came from trying to compact 3-400 pages into 120 screen pages.

    However, there are exceptions enough to the “must be a faithful adaptation or it’s all wrong” worth discussing — Stardust, Practical Magic and Howl’s Moving Castle all have their film partisans and only Stardust seems to also have rabid detractors, and then there’s stuff like the Watchmen show — to make taking it as an absolute declaration ridiculous. Where the MCU films and shows are weakest doesn’t necessarily correlate to where they are the least faithful to a cribbed comicbook storyline, though I would be willing to entertain the idea that it can be where they most fundamentally or wilfully misunderstand the characters.

    I do know that being a smug snob about it gets nobody anywhere when it comes to figuring out how to get more and better adaptations and fewer travesties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.