Pixel Scroll 10/4/20 This Space Intentionally Left Blank

I was at my brother’s retirement party all day, so this will be a bit short!

(1) TAKE IT WITH A GRAIN. Inverse is proud to say: “There Are No Aliens In Dune. Here’s Why.”

……But the Third Stage Guild navigator is not an alien. That’s a human who has been mutated by longterm exposure to the Spice. Outside of extraterrestrial animal life, there are precisely zero space aliens in Dune. Arguably, this fact is part of what makes Dune so successful. Common science fiction ideas don’t really drive the story of Dune, mostly because alien life is totally left out of the equation. Here’s how that works, and why Dune’s world-building is super-reliant on a lack of aliens.

(2) FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. [Item by Dann.] Grimdark Magazine’s issue #24 dropped a few days ago.  There were a couple of non-fiction pieces that might be of interest.


  • A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian
  • Berzerker by Matthew X. Gomez
  • How Not to Invade a Country by Anna Stephens
  • The Hunt by Matthew Ward


  • An Interview with Richard K. Morgan by Beth Tabler
  • Review: Persephone Station by Stina Leicht
  • Robert E. Howard: Godfather of Grimdark? by Matthew John
  • An Interview with David Wong by Beth Tabler

(3) STAR TREK SHORTS. Ranker reveals “Wardrobe Secrets From Behind The Scenes Of ‘Star Trek'”.

The ‘TNG’ Uniforms Nearly Caused Permanent Damage To The Cast

To an observer, spandex may seem like the world’s easiest garment to wear. Super stretchy, light, and form-fitting, it looks like it should be comfortable. But looks can be deceiving, according to designer Robert Blackman:

Jumbo, or Super Spandex, whatever you want to call that heavier weight stretch, will stretch from side to side or top to bottom, depending on how you cut the garment. So the costume would dig into the actors’ shoulders, wearing them 12 or 15 hours a day.

Blackman explained that pressure from the spandex led to back problems among the cast. Patrick Stewart, who starred as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, was told by his chiropractor that he should sue Paramount for the “lasting damage done to [his] spine.”



[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 4, 1904 – Earl Binder.  First half of Eando Binder (second being E’s brother Otto 1911-1974), credited author of a dozen novels, twoscore shorter stories.  Pioneering stories of robot Adam Link.  Collection Anton York, Immortal about protagonist attaining immortality and then what?  E quit about 1940; O developed a solo career.  (Died 1966) [JH]
  • Born October 4, 1908 – Al Ashley.  During the 1940s, among the top two dozen active fans.  Fanzines En GardeNova, sometimes with wife Abby Lu.  The Ashleys made their house in Battle Creek, Michigan, a co-operative dwelling for fellow fans; those were the days of Van Vogt’s Slan and the self-depreciative joke “Fans are slans” (as in “Wassamatta you, you think fans are –?”), so the house was the Slan Shack.  Later, lived in Los Angeles.  I assume Al has gone to After-Fandom, but I have not learned when he left.  [JH]
  • Born October 4, 1917 – Donn Brazier.  Charter member of N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n).  Army Air Corps during World War II, mustered out as a Major, his remains buried in Jefferson Barracks Nat’l Cemetery.  Leading fanzine Title; later Farrago.  Guest of Honor at AutoClave 1, first SF con devoted to fanzinery (1976).  Early adopter of photocopy.  See two appreciations of him in File 770 142 pp. 12-13 (PDF).  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born October 4, 1923 Charlton Heston. Without doubt, best remembered for playing astronaut George Taylor in the Planet of the Apes. He retuned to the role in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. He’s also Neville in The Omega Man based off of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. By the way, he once at the LA Music Center played Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood, opposite Richard Johnson as Dr. Watson. His IMDB credits show him as being on SeaQuest DSV in the “Abalon” episode. ((Died 2008.) CE) 
  • Born October 4, 1928 Alvin Toffler. Author of Future Shock and a number of other works that almost no one will recall now. John Brunner named a most excellent novel, The Shockwave Rider, after the premise of Future Shock. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born October 4, 1946 Susan Sarandon, 74. She makes the Birthday list just for being Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but she’s also been in Enchanted as Queen Narissa, The Witches of Eastwick as Jane Spofford, The Lovely Bones as Grandma Lynn and The Hunger as Sarah Roberts. An impressive genre list indeed! (CE) 
  • Born October 4, 1946 – Val Ontell, 74.  Chaired Lunacon 29 & 32, Conjecture 2010, World Fantasy Con 2011.  Fan Guest of Honor (with husband Ron Ontell) at Lunacon 45, Westercon 70.  The Ontells have conducted fannish travel expeditions on the occasion of Worldcons: Britain (1987), Scotland & Ireland (1995, 2005), Melbourne (1999, 2010), Yokohama (2007), London (2014), Helsinki (2017), Dublin (2019); see their Website.  [JH]
  • Born October 4, 1975 Saladin Ahmed, 45. His Black Bolt series, with Christian Ward as the artist, won an Eisner Award for Best New Series and  the graphic novel collection, Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, was a finalist at Worldcon 76 for Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. His first novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, won a Locus Award for Best First novel. (CE)
  • Born October 4, 1979 Caitriona Balfe, 41. She is best remembered  for her lead role as Claire Fraser on Outlander. Her first genre role was as Elizabeth Lamb in Super 8, and she has two other genre credits, one voicing Tavra in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and the other playing Breena Sheehan in the H+: The Digital Series in which the singularity has come and gone. (CE) 
  • Born October 4, 1984 – Sara Bickley, 36.  Poetry, some ours, in Red Sky (anthology); Best of Every Day PoetsHaiku JournalPunchnel’sThe SameThree Line PoetryTrinacria.  Poetry editor of The Germ awhile.  Short stories in Cover of DarknessDrabblecast B-SidesNot One of UsTales of the Talisman.  [JH]
  • Born October 4, 1988 Melissa Benoist, 32. Kara Danvers / Supergirl In the Arrowverse. It was recently announced that the Supergirl series is ending with the next season. She also voiced Overgirl in the animated Freedom Fighters: The Ray series. (CE) 
  • Born October 4, 1990 – Carlyn Worthy, 30.  Photographer, cook, author, Afrofuturist.  One story for us I’ve found published so far; and see this interview.  Other work, see this article about her University’s centennial.  [JH]

(6) HORROR FOR YOUR EARS. Podcast Review calls these “9 Terrific Horror Podcasts That Should Not Be Overlooked”. First on their list:


This podcast is now in its third season, but it just doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The series is curated by writer Tonia Ransom, who intended Nightlight to highlight Black authors telling Black stories, and in doing so the show is releasing some of the very best horror stories out there. Some tales veer into romance, some into sci-fi, and some are more standard horror fare, but each story is haunting and unforgettable. Genre faves like reluctant werewolves and murderous mermaids embrace tropes while turning them on their head to give us something new. Each episode runs about half an hour, making it a great lunchtime listen.

(7) HARRYHAUSEN 100. Coming soon at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art: “Ray Harryhausen | Titan of Cinema” – October 24, 2020-September 5, 2021. Highlights include the Medusa model from Clash of the Titans.

Film special effects superstar Ray Harryhausen elevated stop motion animation to an art. His innovative and inspiring films, from the 1950s onwards, changed the face of modern movie making forever. For the first time, highlights chosen from the whole of Ray’s collection will be showcased, which will be the largest and widest-ranging exhibition of his work ever seen, with newly restored and previously unseen material from his incredible archive.

Ray Harryhausen’s work included the films Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad films of the 1950s and 1970s, One Million Years B.C. and Mighty Joe Young, and a wider portfolio including children’s fairy tales and commercials. He also inspired a generation of filmmakers such as Peter Jackson, Aardman Animation, Tim Burton, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg, and his influence on blockbuster cinema can be felt to this day.

This exhibition is in collaboration with the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday year. 

 (8) EAU THAT MAN! Is this product’s message: Who doesn’t want to smell like Captain Kirk? “Star Trek Tiberius Cologne”.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Jeffrey Smith, Dann. and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH, who cannot guarantee it hasn’t been used before.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/4/20 This Space Intentionally Left Blank

  1. 5) For me, Heston will always be Moses and/or Judah Ben Hur (and both of those films are at least associational and The Ten Commandments probably has enough actual fantastical elements to be considered straight-up genre, if you’re so inclined).

    Do like Planet of the Apes as well, though.

  2. 5) I surprised myself with the flood of memories that arose in reading about the anniversary of Donn Brazier’s birth. I was at peak teen-age letterhacking fanac when Donn sent me an early issue of Title. I was definitely drawn in by the fanzine’s format, which encouraged discussion by grouping letter-writers’ comments by subject, similar to the way blogs and social media do today. The only other publication I saw doing anything like that at the time was the short-lived 1970s version of Harper’s Weekly (not a fanzine) published by Harper’s Magazine — and their editors lacked the unguarded friendliness of Donn Brazier. Probably the last time I gave Donn Brazier much thought was 2002, when I read the eulogies to him in your publication, but the memories were just waiting to be triggered again by this mention of him.

  3. (5) There’s a Alfred Ashley (1908-1974) in the mausoleum at Mountain View cemetery in Altadena. No guarantee it’s the right one, of course.

  4. (7) HARRYHAUSEN 100. Cool! Oh wait, it’s in another country from us. Rats; my spousal unit is a big fan. I’ll tell him anyway. 😉

    . . . . .

    Any fans of “Leif & Thorn,” the most excellent webcomic, FYI Erin Ptah is running Kickstarter for Volume 3! (Okay, if you’re a fan, you already know.) It’s just “funded” line, but another few hundred and the book will have MOAR. Hint, hint! From the About page: “A sparkly queer bilingual fantasy comedy. Featuring trauma recovery, slow-burn romance, cross-cultural communication, and baby unicorns.”

    ETA: Sacrificial first fifth, in honor of it being October 5th.

  5. I remember that the paperback edition of Future Shock (I think Bantam, but tonight I’m too lazy to look it up) came in six different editions, each a different cover color. Very innovative at the time.

  6. Seems like we could mention that Throne of the Crescent Moon was shortlisted for the Hugo, too.

    (Ahmed made one choice in it that I found quite strange: to have an antagonist who gets no characterization at all. He does evil things, so far as I could tell, purely for the sake of being evil, and even though he does appear “on stage” he gets no dialogue.)

  7. 1) I assume the real answer is the same as in Foundation: the author was uninterested in writing the kind of as aliens that would meet Campbell’s edicts.

  8. (1) Yeah, that’s a really strained definition of sf, from someone who likely isn’t aware that some big names who wrote for Campbell because he paid the best rates, didn’t write aliens for Campbell because the compromises to make them acceptable were a bridge too far.

    Also, they’re saying that Dune isn’t sf because Herbert did really good worldbuilding. Which is a point of view. A point of view on the level of the one Domino’s employee in the ad whose idea is to Frisbee the pizzas to customers’ cars, but, certainly a point of view.

  9. (1) The article also highlights a plot hole in Dune I hadn’t thought about before: if interstellar travel is only possible using spice how did humanity get to Arrakis to obtain it in the first place?

    (5) My favourite Charlton Heston film has to be Soylent Green.

  10. @Stuart Hall: IIRC, there are other drugs which can create the prescient trance needed for FTL navigation in the “Dune” setting (I think this comes up in the big throne-room scene at the end of the book, the one that goes on forever), but melange is more effective, and also, once you take it, the others stop working for you.

  11. (1) “Outside of extraterrestrial animal life, there are precisely zero space aliens in Dune” – the book’s plot and world-building are driven by an alien ecology, but as long as there are no intelligent aliens, it’s not really SF. Sigh.

    Wait til he reads “Flowers for Algernon.”

  12. Stuart Hall: Perhaps that was before the Butlerian Jihad, and they used computers to navigate.

  13. (1) Not only is that person wrong about SF requiring aliens, but they’re wrong about Dune not having any! They’re quite prominent, in fact. (In multiple senses.) And reportedly rather fun to ride… 🙂

    Edit: Bah, I guess that’s covered under “animal life”. But that seems like a silly distinction. They’re still aliens!

  14. 5) Charlton Heston also during the same play performed opposite Jeremy Brett as Watson in LA.

  15. Hey guys, sorry I haven’t been around, I miss you all!

    I do have a question and you guys might be able to help–for some STRANGE REASON I’m in a discussion of stories like “The Masque of the Red Death” and I read one in the last couple of years that I can’t remember title or author of but it’s stuck with me. It’s a modern day Red Death situation with wealthy people holed up in a house riding out some horrible contagious disease. There’s a young female servant–I think black or POC–who they basically force out to go get something from the nearby village. By the time she returns she realizes she is infected and gets revenge by throwing herself into the well under the house, knowing that she will infect everyone inside.
    Sound familiar? It was a powerful story.

  16. 6) While the Horror Show with Brian Keene has ended formal recording as a podcast, Brian will be recording interviews on his YouTube channel in an irregular basis. The audio portion will be added to the HSwBK podcast listing.

    There won’t be any bumper music or industry news, but for those interested in horror sub-genre related interviews, it might be appropriate to subscribe (or just stay subscribed) to the HSwBK podcast.

    Now playing V: The Stand (Man or Machine) by The Protoman. The entire album has a heavy genre influence. Pretty decent music, too.

    Wisdom includes not getting angry unnecessarily. The Law ignores trifles and the wise man does, too. – Job:A Comedy of Justice

  17. @ Stuart Hall; Computers. Arrakis was discovered long before the Butlerian Jihad. It’s not the FTL itself that requires Spice-enabled precognition, it’s the safe navigation of fold-space that, in lieu of advanced cybernetics, necessitates it.

    In the later books the Ixians introduced navigation machines (that skirted the ban on thinking machines by being single-purpose devices) which once again made space-travel safe for non-prescient navigation.

    @ Steve Wright; it’s the Bene Gesserit previous lives thing that worked with other drugs, not the Guild Navigator precognition. This is why the BG are still big into Spice in the later books while the Guild is a non-entity ruined by the no-ships with navigation machines.

  18. (3) First no bathrooms on the Enterprise, now you can’t even wear the uniforms. There go all my illusions.

  19. The peeps over at Now Smell This had some fun speculating about notes (scent components) for future releases in the comments about that perfume.

  20. (3) They should have gone with multi-way stretch fabrics. Those have been around for at least 40 years – swimsuits use them. (There’s also this thing called “ease” – that’s how loose the garment is. Some things, like socks, have negative ease because they’re supposed to be tight but flexible, but most clothing has positive ease.)

  21. cmm: I’m in a discussion of stories like “The Masque of the Red Death” and I read one in the last couple of years that I can’t remember title or author of but it’s stuck with me.

    There was the novella Masque of the Red Death by Cory Doctorow, which fits your description, but I don’t remember the last part being in it.

    (Doctorow has a habit of using titles from famous stories, or wordplays on those titles, for his own stories.)

  22. (1) Duncan Idaho is clearly an alien. It is a name like “Ford Prefect” that has obviously been chosen by an alien trying to blend in. Also, the book acts like he is a major character but he doesn’t really do anything or have any particular personality or character arc.

  23. @cmm, this is not the story you inquired about, but a similar sort of story to “Masque of the Red Death” and to the story you describe is the Seanan McGuire July 2020 Patreon story “Ratting”, where gur ryvgr yvir va pnershyyl (zbfgyl) cynthr-serr rapynirf, juvyr gur aba-ryvgr yvir va jung nzbhag gb fyhzf bhgfvqr, jurer gurl qb nyy gur fphgjbex gung xrrc pvivyvmngvba tbvat. Gur cynthr vf encvq naq yrguny (vg’f ovbratvarrerq). Fb Bhe Cebgntbavfg ernyvmrf gung fur’f unq pybfr pbagnpg jvgu n cynthr ivpgvz jub jnf vasrpgrq ol n pneryrff gubhtugyrff rapynire, naq tbrf “enggvat”; fur oernxf vagb gur arnerfg rapynir naq qryvorengryl fgnegf fcvggvat ba naq pbagnzvangvat nf zhpu nf fur cbffvoyl pna orsber fur qvrf bs gur cynthr. Vg’f gur bayl eriratr fur pna gnxr ntnvafg gur fbpvrgl gung’f gerngrq ure nf fhouhzna ure ragver yvsr orpnhfr fur jnf obea ba gur jebat fvqr bs n jnyy.

    It’s a VERY dark story, and very well told.

  24. Camestros Felapton: Duncan Idaho is clearly an alien

    How many sff characters have states as part of their names? Indiana Jones, of course (even if he was named after the dog.)

  25. @Mike Glyer: “How many . . .”

    Answer: Too many! 😉

    In Peter Clines’s excellent Dead Moon, one of the main characters is Cali Washington; you can guess her first name, which she never uses. (IIRC in the entire book, it’s never spelled out.) Her parents were big into maps/geography and saddled all their kids with names like this (not just state names, but other location names from around the world).

  26. @Mike Glyer

    How many sff characters have states as part of their names?

    Patricia Arquette plays Alabama Whitman in the movie True Romance (it’s got the ghost of Elvis in it — genre enough for me)

    If singing frogs count, there’s Michigan J. Frog.
    There’s Tex Jarman in Heinlein’s Space Cadet (probably many others named Tex out there).

  27. In the course of doing genealogy, I’ve seen geographical given names on real people. Missouri and Tennessee were fairly common, but Florida and Arizona also show up. (My favorite may be the guy named “San Francisco”.) Nearly all of them were mid- to late-19th century.

  28. Thanks to those who suggested possible stories…neither of those are the one I was thinking of, though both sound interesting.

    As for SFF characters with state names, does FBI agent Canton Delaware from several episodes of Doctor Who count? or is it only first names?

  29. cmm: I’m willing to count Agent Delaware, just because, although that’s a name that could also be sourced to European nobility — but then, the state’s name is too, so why draw a distinction?

  30. I’m named after a geological feature, indirectly (I’m named after my great grandmother, who was named after the feature). But am I genre? Perhaps I’m a figment of 770’s imagination? Hmmm…

  31. @P J Evans

    (My favorite may be the guy named “San Francisco”.)

    Mandy Patinkin played the alien “Sam Francisco” in Alien Nation.

  32. @Kendall —

    @Contrarius: LOL, surely you’re genre-adjacent, which is enough. ?

    I’m certainly adjacent to a lot of genre, in any case!

    (Just to add some flavor to the story — I’m named after a lake, which has now dried up. So I’m named after a dead lake. Whoopie?)

  33. Patrick Morris Miller: Sparks Nevada

    That’s the kind of names we’re looking for!

  34. Jon DeCles: If you can distinguish between religious drama and genre, then why on Earth did you include Jason and the Argonauts as genre?

    If there were people in 1963 for whom the movie was a dramatization of their faith, then I guess I can’t.

Comments are closed.