Pixel Scroll 10/3/23 Midnight At The Oasis

(1) My mother’s mental state was actually back to about normal today. And putting together even this short Scroll will do wonders for mine.

(2) AFROPANTHEOLOGY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki & Joshua Uchenna Omenga provide an “Introduction to Afropantheology” at Public Books.

African cosmologies recognize two spheres of existence—the physical and the spiritual—between which there is an inseparable link, as well as constant interactions. Each sphere of existence is connected to the other: the living to the dead, the born to the unborn, humans to the deities. “A community develops its mode of relating to its ancestors and the gods, harmonizing the interconnectedness of everything,” according to Dr. K. C. Nweke. “Each community has its spiritual exclusiveness through its relatedness to the ancestors in the underworld who oversee the ephemeral world.”1

Today, many works of African fiction reflecting African cosmology are themselves fictional reflections of these African realities of life. Yet this can make it easy to mislabel such literary fiction as mere fantasy.

The genre of fantasy (part of the broader category of speculative fiction) can simply mean imaginative fictions involving outlandish characters, magical elements, and often set in created worlds. It is often a genre of escapist literature, in which readers must suspend their belief to enjoy. As such, “fantasy” can be an ill-fitting term, when describing many literary works of similar rendering from the African continent. In response, a new term was conceived to capture this gamut of African literary works, which, though having fantasy elements, are additionally imbued with the African spiritual realities: Afropantheology….

(3) ALEX SCHOMBURG ART AUCTION ON OCTOBER 6. Susan Schomburg sends word that artwork by her grandpa, Alex Schomburg, will be auctioning through Heritage this Friday, October 6. Here is a search link to his lots: Search: Alex Schomburg.

And here is a link to his original art for “World at Bay”.

 (4) MY INDIANA BAT HOME. “Your FIRST LOOK at America’s Only Permanent BATMAN ’66 MUSEUM” at 13th Dimension. (The museum’s own website is here: Fiberglass Freaks Batman Museum.)

October will be a helluva month for Batman ’66 fans: It will feature the opening of the only permanent museum dedicated to the 1966 Batman TV show.

The Batman Museum in Logansport, Indiana — which is reminiscent of the popular Hollywood Museum exhibit from several years ago — will be operated by Fiberglass Freaks, Mark Racop’s company that builds the only officially licensed full-scale Batmobile replicas.

But the museum will be more than just about the greatest version of Batman’s ride — it will feature displays of costumes, real and replica; set reconstructions; memorabilia; a theater; props; other vehicles; a gift shop; and more.

… Fiberglass Freaks’ Batman Museum is located at 525 East Market Street, Logansport, Indiana, 46947;

Hours will be 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 1 p.m. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

(5) ADS SUBTRACT. Cory Doctorow takes readers through “Google’s enshittification memos” at Pluralistic.

…When I think about this enshittification curve, I often think of Google, a company that had its users’ backs for years, which created a genuinely innovative search engine that worked so well it seemed like *magic, a company whose employees often had their pick of jobs, but chose the “don’t be evil” gig because that mattered to them.

People make fun of that “don’t be evil” motto, but if your key employees took the gig because they didn’t want to be evil, and then you ask them to be evil, they might just quit. Hell, they might make a stink on the way out the door, too…

Google is a company whose founders started out by publishing a scientific paper describing their search methodology, in which they said, “Oh, and by the way, ads will inevitably turn your search engine into a pile of shit, so we’re gonna stay the fuck away from them”:


Those same founders retained a controlling interest in the company after it went IPO, explaining to investors that they were going to run the business without having their elbows jostled by shortsighted Wall Street assholes, so they could keep it from turning into a pile of shit:


And yet, it’s turned into a pile of shit. Google search is so bad you might as well ask Jeeves. The company’s big plan to fix it? Replace links to webpages with florid paragraphs of chatbot nonsense filled with a supremely confident lies,,,

How did the company get this bad? In part, this is the “curse of bigness.” The company can’t grow by attracting new users. When you have 90%+ of the market, there are no new customers to sign up. Hypothetically, they could grow by going into new lines of business, but Google is incapable of making a successful product in-house and also kills most of the products it buys from other, more innovative companies…

(6) CAN*CON COULD BE FOR YOU. Derek Künsken recommends:

If you are a writer in some far off place without access to other writers, editors, agents (like my early career), I really recommend you check out the virtual program of


that will run 14 and 15 October. It’s got a lot for aspiring and leveling-up writers!

CanCon registration is at their website here.

(7) WORD POWER. Steve Erikson did a five part essay on “The Language of Magic and the Magic of Language” on Facebook.

…Oxford Dictionary:




1. the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

“suddenly, as if by magic, the doors start to open”

Okay, let’s look at this definition. There are three key words here: ‘influencing,’ ‘mysterious’ and ‘supernatural.’ Now, I’m not going to back up still further to define ‘mysterious’ or ‘supernatural,’ and if ‘influencing’ is in any way baffling, I can’t help you.

Anthropology examines ‘magic’ in cultures with an emphasis on the ‘influencing’ aspects, specifically in terms of the material component. Why? Because that is the only component of ‘magic’ that can be explored in a pseudo-scientific sense. The rest is metaphysical. Ethnology can add a narrative element, of course, when, for example, shamans explain stuff to the ethnologist, who in turn records the details. Those explanations may be accurate or entirely made up. They can be well-established (tradition) or invented on the fly. Even shamans can have a sense of humour.

All human cultures possess some ideation of magic, of the miraculous and the unseen. I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t. Large elements of even the Western world hold to these notions in some iteration, whether blanketed under ‘religion,’ ‘faith’ or ‘spiritualism.’ Atheism rejects the whole shebang in favour of a strictly mechanistic universe, but atheism is a minority position dwelling within a larger, global culture of belief.

No, really, it is. …


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1874 Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which is only genre production he appeared in save three chapters of a Forties Batman serial in which he played Ken Colton. (Died 1949.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 3, 1933 Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopaedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966.  I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 79. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them. Her Polar City SF mystery novels (second written with Kate Daniel) sound fascinating. Only the first, Polar City Blues, is available from the usual suspects.
  • Born October 3, 1964 Clive Owen, 59. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 50. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 
  • Born October 3, 1988 Alicia Vikander, 35. She was Ava, an artificial intelligence, in Ex Machina, spooky film it was. Several years later, she starred as Lara Croft in the rebooted Tomb Raider. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., she plays Gaby Teller. Finally she’s The Lady / Esel in The Green Knight, a retelling of the story of Sir Gawain.  

(9) DUBAI YANKS THE WELCOME MAT OUT FROM UNDER. The International Association of Library Associations and Institutions announced today that “Invitation to host IFLA WLIC 2024 in Dubai withdrawn”. Bruce Arthurs says, “This reminded me of some of the travails past & ongoing about SF/F cons being held in morally objectionable countries. The big difference here is that it was the host city itself that yanked the rug out, rather than the conference committee.”

IFLA has been informed of the decision to withdraw the invitation to hold the 2024 World Library and Information Congress in Dubai.

The decision was communicated to us by the Emirates Library and Information Association who led the bid to support the development of the field and wider region.

The Association has underlined its ongoing commitment to IFLA, and keenness to find other ways to bring librarians from the country and region closer to the global library field. IFLA is grateful to the Association for the work that it has done, and firmly believes that this provides a strong basis for building engagement in other ways going forwards.

Acknowledging the reservations expressed about holding the Congress in Dubai, we recognise the disappointment that many in the region and beyond will feel. IFLA remains committed to finding ways to engage with and support the librarians in MENA and the surrounding regions who were looking forward to experiencing the vibrancy of a World Library and Information Congress. Continuing our work in this area is vital if we are to be not just an international, but a truly global Federation.

As Dubai was the only viable bid, there will now not be a World Library and Information Conference in 2024.


  • Worldcon COVID preparations

The Health Bureau of the Pidu District of Chengdu carried out a number of checks and inspections in August and September, and these will continue in the run up to the con.

Photo of a meeting held September 25th, the first four characters on the LED display read “Science Fiction Conference”.  Source: https://weibo.com/3339983832/Nl50S16Up

Photo of what I assume is a ventilation check at the con venue.  Source: here (presumably taken from elsewhere, but I’ve not been able to track it down.)

On September 26th, local media in Sichuan province published an interview (in Chinese) with Ben Yalow.  Here is an extract via Google Translate:

Reporter: What do you think of Chengdu’s bid and preparation process?

Ben Yalow: I first heard about the Chengdu bid when I met a group of Chinese fans at the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin 2019. It’s always fun to meet a new fan base. This group of people in the Chengdu circle have worked hard to present a successful World Science Fiction Convention, and now things are going smoothly.

  • Zhejiang University SF club weekly newsletter

Both of the above stories came from the Zhejiang University SF club newsletter, edited by File 770 commenter Zimozi Natsuco.  Besides items about the Chengdu Worldcon, there are lots of items about other SF activities in China and other parts of the world, and is well worth checking out (via Google Translate or similar tools) if that interests you.  NB: the current issue namechecks the Chengdu coverage that has been published here on File 770, so this is perhaps a biased opinion…

The current issue can be found here, and a list of earlier issues here

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Rob Thornton, Susan Schomburg, Bruce D. Arthurs, 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 OGH.]

27 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/3/23 Midnight At The Oasis

  1. (1) I’m glad to hear better news.

    (8) I have been meaning to read the Deverry books for an eon. I like the fact that the series involves incarnations of the characters throughout different times — even in the same book.

  2. 8) I’m giving you a choice: either put on these pixels, or start scrolling that trash can.

    8bis) I love the Deverry books. Most of the repeatedly reincarnating characters are easy to spot in each generation, so it’s not necessary to do that thing with index cards, thumb tacks, and red yarn; that said, eventually Kerr provides charts and some of the supporting characters’ rebirths surprised me. And the running feud between the author – who is not Kerr – and an obnoxious academic that develops in the appendices of successive books makes me smile.

  3. (1) Glad to hear your mother is doing better, Mike.

    (8) I really enjoyed the first few Deverry books, and then one went someplace I didn’t want to. Wasn’t the writing. May not even have been the story. Might just have been my tastes changing direction and chasing something else. She certainly wrote other good books after that.

  4. (7) Patricia McKillip’s handling of magic fully fits that definition. Truly a magical writer, and it’s sad that she’s no longer with us,

  5. Edit this one’s title into “Midnight at the Scrollasis!”

    (9) As a friend often says on Twitter, “Abolish all monarchies, beloveds.”

  6. 9) The article doesn’t say why the cancellation. I suppose people who are involved with the association already know but it would be nice of them to explain.

  7. 8) Kerr’s Deverry stuff respects the underlying faith system in a way which is not always true of “Celtic-based fantasy.” (I name no names, but some of it is the American fantasists’ version of what the actual Irish call the “Plastic Paddy” syndrome.)

  8. 4) I’m down for a trip to the Batman Museum, especially if there’s a diner nearby I could get a BatBurger at before or after.

    7)The best definition of magic I’ve ever heard, and I’m not sure if it came from John Constantine or Terry Pratchett is ‘Magic is just knowing one more thing than everybody else in the room.’

    “This group of people in the Chengdu circle have worked hard to present a successful World Science Fiction Convention, and now things are going smoothly.” Sounds legit. Blink twice if you can’t speak freely, Ben.

  9. 6) Regarding Can Con, the link is to the former Twitter (now X), and it flickered annoyingly. No thanks.

    Madlyn Rhue had multiple sclerosis. I saw her at the Women in Show Business Celebrity Benefit Ball (I wrangled a couple of tickets, as Jim Henson was the honoree at that event). Ms. Rhue was there, and in 1985, she walked with crutches.

    In order for her to keep her insurance, she had to work, and when word got out about her disability, friends in the industry made sure she got all kinds of guest spots in TV shows that accommodated her limited mobility.

    Her last days were at the Motion Picture Home, which aids those in the film and television business who need managed care. It accepts donations from the public, and in fact, for at least one year and likely more, any profits from Bjo Trimble’s Equicon conventions went to the home. Their website is: https://mptf.com/

  10. Carl Andor: @CanCon is a Twitter URL. The “Registration is here” link is to the CanCon website, not Twitter.

  11. I don’t know if this counts as a Meredith Moment as these are not even genre-adjacent (except for some of the short stories). But if you’ve been wanting to buy some Agatha Christie, several titles have been discounted at multiple retailers, including the following:

    Marple: Twelve New Mysteries; Midsummer Mysteries; Murder on the Orient Express; The Pale Horse; Death on the Nile; Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories; and even Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories (which rarely gets discounted).

    Plus there is a discount on Closed Casket, one of the authorized Poirot novels by Sophie Hannah.

  12. Stephen Granade says Yay to the shout out for Lena Heady’s role in Dredd! She was also great in the underrated The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    I actually think she was a better character than Dredd was — more fleshed out, more interesting.

  13. From my phone it looks like editing the URLs helped but didn’t get things back to 100%.

  14. 1) I’m glad to hear your Mom is doing better.

    8) Lena Headey was also excellent as Evil-Lyn in Masters of the Universe: Revelation and will repeat the part in the upcoming sequel Masters of the Universe: Revolution. According to showrunner Kevin Smith, Lena Headey was a Masters of the Universe fan from childhood on (we’re the same age, so it tracks) and was therefore thrilled to play the part. In fact, Masters of the Universe Revelation has an amazing voice cast, at least partly because many of the actors were longtime fans.

  15. So there was a scroll last night (after I went to bed).
    (1) Glad to hear the positive news about your mom, Mike.
    (5) Yep. Around ’12, using it at work, was about when I started getting more noise than signal. By the mid-teens, it was bad, and it was clear that marketing had taken control. (Really, google? I say I’m looking for men’s boots, exclude women, and you show me an ad with women’s boots, with the letters men bolded?) Now – you can’t even use exclude in shopping. If only there was a better choice.
    (7) My preferred definition of magick (magic being stage prestidigitation) is similar to the late Isaac Bonewitz’ (B.A., Thaumaturgy, yes, for real, UC Berkeley): a series of psychological techniques intend to change reality (one way or another).

    @PaulKing: I second your scroll title!

  16. RE Mike “@CanCon is a Twitter URL

    Yeah, I know. I was hoping to see some info before going to the reg link, but since all I got was a flash of an “X” and then strangely flashing and wavy stuff, I decided it wasn’t for me. I didn’t bother with the reg site. Thanks.

  17. Carl Andor: I don’t think whatever problem your browser is having with viewing X ought to be blamed on Can*Con.

  18. Mike, Mike, Mike. Kick back and relax! You’ve had a rough week.

    Poor internet speed is one of the most common reasons behind problems related to browsers. Yup. I have that. I have no browser issues with the vast majority of internet sites in general.

    I don’t use social media, as it holds no fascination for me, nor do I have time to wade through the 90% that is garbage, to find any gems. I’m also not interested in conspiracy theories or “influencers.”

    “If you were a writer in some far off place without access to other writers, editors, agents…”

    While I am a writer, I’m not in a far off place, I do have friends who are writers as well as readers. I have an excellent editor, and I’m not in need an agent at the moment. While I have nothing against Can Con or Clarian Writer’s Workshop, or Loscon’s many workshops on writing, they’re not of interest to me at this time.

    I checked out the twitter link, it didn’t work for me, likely due to the slow speed, so I shrugged and moved on. I’m sure Can Con, and the other sources for writer’s workshops will be of value to many aspiring writers. If your readers are aspiring writers, sure, go for it!

    It’s certainly possible they’ll find the ideal agent, the best editor for them (I’ve been through several until I found the one I’m working with), and the practical advice on writing, querying, and the other necessary steps after writing that novel. I look forward, as most SF and Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery readers do, to reading the finished book!

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