Pixel Scroll 10/12/17 O, Brave New Scroll, That Has Such Pixels In ‘t!

(1) SECOND BITE OF THE APPLE. Steve Davidson left a comment telling File 770 readers about a turnaround in Amazing Stories’ situation with NBC since yesterday’s social media offensive:

Folks, I am officially “in discussions for a resolution” with NBC.

This was a DIRECT result of the tweeting and commenting that took place all of yesterday:

Specifically, NBC’s attorney requested that my attorney ask me to “stop tweeting” because certain people and certain giant corporations were “very upset”.

I had my doubts that my yelling about a toe stepped on would bring results, but in fact it took less than 12 hours for the story to get picked up and, while I have complied with the request (seeing as how we are talking again), the ripples are still going, so people on the west coast are going to continue to experience upset for a bit longer.

We’re very close to an agreement…very close..but not quite there yet.

I’m hoping we will finalize things today – 10-12.

I’m sure that an association with “Spielberg” and “Apple Inc” gave this story traction, but it would not have gone anywhere if fans didn’t pick it up and run with it. I think we can count this as a minor example of the “Star Trek” effect.

(2)THE PAST THROUGH YESTERDAY. Jo Walton has updated her “Revisiting the Hugo Awards” at Tor.com with a post on the newly-discovered 1956 Finalists: “Revisiting the Recently Rediscovered 1956 Hugo Awards Ballot”.

When I wrote my post in 2010 about the Hugos of 1956, the nominees for that year were lost in the mists of time. Last month they were found again, by Olav Rokne in an old Progress Report, which is very exciting, because it gives me the chance to compare what I thought they might be to what they really were. It’s great to be wrong, and goodness me I was wrong!…

(3) THE YOUNG AND THE RUTHLESS. For the newest installment of Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll unleashed his panel on “The Women Men Don’t See” by James Tiptree, Jr.

The story was not a hit with Jamie –

This was weird and slow and racist. Also sexist. The whole thing was uninteresting in general, the pacing was glacial, and the main character was a maddeningly horrible person who can seemingly only thnk about sex and whose first thought upon meeting aliens was to attack them and steal their stuff.

(4) REDDIT AMA. Two genre figures participated in Reddit “Ask Me Anything” sessions today.

G. WILLOW WILSON: Oh my God. It took Sana and I NINE MONTHS to settle on this power set. It was by far the most difficult part of the planning phase. Marvel came to me with a total tabula rasa–they wanted to do an all-ages series about an American Muslim girl (the idea was inspired by Sana’s own stories about her childhood) but this character had no name, no background, no power set, no nothing. I didn’t want her to have pretty powers–no sparkling, no floating in the air, no “I have a headache” telepathy. So that ruled some things out. And giving her violent powers–your laser beams, your plasma bolts–would be read as a political statement. (This is a whole ‘nother AMA.) So we had to get very creative. It had to be something useful and adaptive and fun to look at on the page. Getting to this specific variety of polymorphism took quite awhile.

GARDNER DOZOIS: For writing short fiction, my advice would be to immediately start with an interesting character in an interesting situation faced with a problem, rather than starting with landscape descriptions or details about how the society works. It’s hardwired in us to want to know what happens to that character NEXT, once you’ve involved us with them.

No real horror stories about fans sending me things, although I did once open a slush manuscript and had a big cardboard finger sprong up out of it, giving me the bird. A writer so certain his story was going to be rejected that he was taking his revenge in advance.

(5) COME CELEBRATE. Here’s a video of Pulphouse mascot Stomper doing a cartwheel to celebrate hitting their Kickstarter’s $15,000 stretch goal:

(6) BRADBURY RE-EULOGIZED. Paris Review ran Margaret Atwood’s “Voyage to the Otherworld: A New Eulogy for Ray Bradbury” in August.

This original essay by Margaret Atwood was composed specifically for the re-release of Sam Weller’s interview book companion to his authorized biography of Ray Bradbury. Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, in a new hardcover deluxe edition, will be released this October by Hat & Beard Press in Los Angeles.

… What Sam and I were discussing was the launch of the collection, which was to be published by HarperCollins, and was to be called Shadow Show—from the 1962 Bradbury novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ray himself had written an introduction, and it was hoped that he could be present at the grand celebration that was to take place at Comic-Con—the vast gathering of graphic artists, comics writers, and their fans, plus related enterprises and genres—that was slated for San Diego in mid-July. Five of us were going to do a Bradbury panel there: Sam, Mort Castle, Joe Hill, me, and Ray himself.

But Ray had been feeling a little frail, said Sam; it was possible he might not make it. In that case, the four of us would do the panel, and Sam and I would visit Ray in his home, webcast him to the world, connect him with his fans, and ask him to sign some covers of the book for them on the Fanado.com website I’d been involved in developing. Ray was keen to do it, said Sam, despite his qualified distrust of the Internet. His enthusiasm for his many devoted readers and his fellow writers never waned, and if using the questionable Internet was the method of last resort, then that is what he would do.

I was greatly looking forward to meeting a writer who had been ?so much a part of my own early reading, especially the delicious, clandestine reading done avidly in lieu of homework, and the compulsive reading done at night with a flashlight when I ought to have been sleeping. Stories read with such enthusiasm at such a young age are not so much read as inhaled. They sink all the way in and all the way down, and they stay with you.

But then Ray Bradbury died. He was ninety-one, but still….

(7) RIGHTS OF FAN. The Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor covered Steve Davidson’s side of the trademark dispute on Wednesday — “‘Amazing Stories’ trademark owner says Spielberg, Apple proposal ignored him”.

…Davidson said he’d always had dreams of doing more with the name, and he said he signed a contract with NBC in 2015 giving the company rights to option the “Amazing Stories” name.

His plan was to use the money to expand the online magazine, which he said now has “upward of about 4,000 unique views a day,” paying for one piece of new fiction every week, then bundling it all at the end of each quarter into print-on-demand and electronic editions.

However, he said Wednesday that NBC never paid him, leading him to file a notice of breach of contract and termination of the contract in May. He said he and NBC have recently reopened discussions, but Tuesday’s news changed his opinion.

“I don’t want to have anything to do with NBC,” he said. “I want the notice of breach and termination to be put into effect – they have no rights – so I can go out and do what I need to do.”


  • Born October 12, 1968 – Hugh Jackman, an actor whose roles include Wolverine.

(9) KEEPING THE PUN IN PUNCHEON. Crave interviews the author of a stfnal bartending guide — “New Book Unites Cocktail Drinkers and Sci-Fi Fans”.

Alcohol and sci-fi movies are two of Andy Heidel’s favorite things. In his new book The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy, the owner of Brooklyn bar The Way Station brings both his passions together in over 100 out-of-this-world cocktails. Pop culture touchstones like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Game of Thrones become imbibe-able through his pun-derful recipes. Heidel makes it easy to play mixologist at home with just a few ingredients, minimal accouterments, and easy instructions. He also slips in a few “Heidel Hints” so booze-drinking rookies don’t embarrass themselves at the bar. Comic illustrations throughout make this a visually intoxicating read as well.

(10) WHERE’S YOUR TOWEL? SF Site News carried a report that a sixth series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will be broadcast next year, using a combination of the original radio and the television casts. According to the Telegraph, the new series will air in on BBC Radio 4 in 2018.

The series is to be based on Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer’s spin-off novel And Another Thing…, but will also include previously unpublished material by original writer Douglas Adams, who died in 2001.

Simon Jones is to reprise his starring role as Arthur Dent, the mild-mannered Englishman who finds himself dragged across the universe, after the Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass.

Other returning cast members include Geoff McGivern as Ford Prefect, a travel writer for the titular guide, Mark Wing-Davey as two-headed alien Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Sandra Dickinson as astrophysicist Trillian. Jane Horrocks is to guest-star as Arthur’s love-interest, Fenchurch.

(11) UNMANNED FOOD TRUCK. Subtler bodega-killers? BBC’s The Disruptors covers potential changes to shopping in ”How May I Help You?”

Imagine you’re in a crowd pouring out of a late night concert. Tired and hungry, you remember the cupboards at home are bare. Do not despair.

In the brave new world of retail this won’t necessitate a trek out to the nearest late night supermarket. Instead the shop can come to you.

With the touch of an app button, you hail a low-slung electric vehicle, like a glass-sided motorhome, which quietly glides into a parking space near you.

You enter the shop by swiping your mobile phone at the door, pick up your wares and swipe out again. There’s no cashier or sales assistant, and no-one to clean up if you drop a carton of milk on your toe.

(12) A WAY TO MAKE A BUCK-BUCK. What an eggs-ellent idea — “How chicken feathers could warm our homes”.

Where there are people, there are chickens. Pretty much every country on Earth has poultry or their eggs on the menu.

So, from Norway to New Zealand, and Cuba to Cambodia, chickens root around even the most isolated settlements, and fill giant farms in their thousands.

One result of a huge chicken population is a huge amount of chicken feathers, which are normally burned or taken to landfill, polluting the environment.

Ryan Robinson, a biology graduate from Imperial College London, is one of a duo that believes it might have come up with a different solution for this feathery waste.

Along with designer Elena Dieckmann, Robinson has discovered a way to turn feathers into an insulating material for buildings or a packing material for food or medicine.

(13) VERDANT VERTICALS. Not the Jetsons’ future: “Why Milan is covering its skyscrapers in plants” – there’s a gallery at the link.

(14) DIRTY BIRDS. After dendrochronology, ornithochronology? “‘Sooty birds’ reveal hidden US air pollution”.

…Cities were soon coated in sooty air thanks to the unregulated burning of coal in homes and factories.

While the huge impact of black carbon on the health of people living in urban centres has been recognised for decades, it is only in recent years that scientists have understood the role it plays climate change.

When it is suspended in the air, the substance absorbs sunlight and increases warming in the atmosphere.

When it hits the ground it increases melting of snow and ice, and has been linked to the loss of ice in the Arctic region.

US researchers have struggled to find accurate records of the amount of black carbon that was emitted in the manufacturing belt of the US, around Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century.

This new study takes an unusual approach to working out the scale of soot coming from this part of the US over the last 100 years.

The scientists trawled through natural history collections in museums in the region and measured evidence of black carbon, trapped in the feathers and wings of songbirds as they flew through the smoky air….

(15) A VR PR DISASTER. Is that Facebook or Facepalm? “Virtual Zuck fails to connect”.

It must have seemed like a good idea. As a taster for a big announcement about Oculus VR on Wednesday, send Mark Zuckerberg on a little virtual reality trip, including a stop in Puerto Rico.

But the reviews are in – and they are not good.

The sight of Mr Zuckerberg using VR to survey the devastation of an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria may have been meant to convey Facebook’s empathy with the victims.

The fact that he was there in the form of a cartoon seemed to many the perfect visual metaphor for the gulf in understanding between Silicon Valley and the real world.

Sure, he was talking about all the activities which his company had initiated to help the island, from helping people tell their families they were ok using Safety Check to sending Facebook employees to help restore connectivity.

But cartoon Zuck showing us a 360 degree view of a flooded street before zipping back to a virtual California just seemed a little, well, crass. Is Facebook really concerned about the plight of Puerto Rico, or is it merely a handy backdrop to promote Oculus, whose sales have so far proved disappointing?

(16) HE’S GOT IT COVERED. From the “news to me” archives, a Doctor Who fan performing a rather formidable challenge on British TV game show You Bet!

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

32 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/12/17 O, Brave New Scroll, That Has Such Pixels In ‘t!

  1. “Specifically, NBC’s attorney requested that my attorney ask me to “stop tweeting” because certain people and certain giant corporations were “very upset”.”

    Heh. Just like NBC begging Roddenberry to call off Bjo and the hordes…

    And another title-credit! Two in a row – I’m very proud.

  2. Clickity.

    Wish me uninterrupted sleep, and a successful apartment hunt.

    Because yes, I am ready to start apartment-hunting.

    Massachusetts, because while some of you others have nice states, too, it’s in Massachusetts that both parties are invested in maintaining full health care. Merrimack Valley/northeastern MA for preference, because its where I’ve lived the longest, except the immediate Boston area, and I can’t afford the immediate Boston area.

    Worcester area is also good.

    If you hear of anything, point me at them.

  3. The chicken feather story is interesting and maybe chicken feathers pressed into bricks actually do insulate.

    But Chinese rip-offs of goose down coats often use chicken feathers instead of goose and it’s part of the reason they don’t work the same against cold weather…

  4. 10) So did anyone ever see any positive review or evidence anyone really liked the effective Hitchhiker fanfic follow-on book? I recall it hitting the remainder shelves in very short order, and that there hasn’t been another one indicating it didn’t work out. While people did love the characters, that was a series where folk mainly liked it for Adams’ writing style and imagination so I really didn’t expect work by another to go over well. So surprised they’d be doing this with it, and getting original cast for it.

  5. @3: As usual, the comments surprise and dismay. I suppose I can understand Jamie’s bouncing, considering the trouble I had the first time I met Giraut Leones (although I liked the Tiptree enough to include it the one time I taught SF, when I was 26); I wonder whether Mikayla wrote her comments after reading about Weinstein….

    @10: I loved the original radio series, and the books; I thought Colfer’s work was dreadful. I’m not optimistic about the scripts — or about how well the actors will be able to revive 40-years-past voices.

    @Lenora Rose: the down coats I’ve seen were all thinner than bricks; I suspect that in brick thicknesses even chicken feathers are effective. I don’t know whether they could be handled more easily than fiberglass, which is nasty stuff even when surfaced with paper.

  6. The Sroll, the File, and the Pixel, and possibly its sequel For a Scrollful of Pixels. Maybe even directed by Pixelco Scrollicone.

  7. (3) Always encouraging to see signs of progress. To steal from Joanna Russ:

    “Go, little book … . Do not complain when you become quaint and old fashioned … do not mutter angrily to yourself when young persons read you to brooch and hrch and guffaw … .
    Rejoice, little book!
    For on that day, we will be free.”

  8. 3: Kids! they’ll learn

    1 & 7: Yes, thanks to David Brooks at the Concord Monitor, who has been very keen on Amazing pretty much since I started this journey. He does a news/blog/thing called The Granite Geek if anyone wants to check him out.

    11. if the display had been of 50s, 60s and 70s US SF paperback covers, I could have done that!

    1&7 again. I’d like to be able to channel Harlan Ellison here, but there’s no table….

  9. 10) So did anyone ever see any positive review or evidence anyone really liked the effective Hitchhiker fanfic follow-on book?

    I don’t have a charitable opinion of the book myself. If you want a book that feels like it was written by Douglas Adams, you need to read The Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens instead.

  10. The Pixels – Where is my Scroll?

    ETA: It strikes me that I’ve done this. Probably. (And I kept typing TEA while I was trying to type ETA. Must be a sign.)

    Pixel Scroll Not

  11. 10) So did anyone ever see any positive review or evidence anyone really liked the effective Hitchhiker fanfic follow-on book?

    I loathed it. It had all of the sadism of Adams’ last Arthur Dent book but none of Adams’ charm.

  12. 1 – Glad to see progress is being made! I hope it leads to something that satisfies everyone.

  13. 10) I loved the original Hitchhiker radio show, but after all the adaptations and less successful sequels extracted every last drop of joy and wit and charm from the intellectual property, I sort of gave up on it. I didn’t even bother with Colfer’s authorised sequel, and I doubt I will bother with this next adaptation either.

  14. 3) I read a collection of James Tiptree with my college roomies. We’re all feminists and milleniels. We loved them and didn’t find them dated. I’m a little dismayed to see that a couple of the readers didn’t seem to get that the narrator being sexist and racist is different than the story being sexist and racist.The fact that the narrator is horrible ( and also unreliable) is in fact the point. I do tend to think this would not be a great week to read Tiptree and if that influenced Mikayla’s reading of the story.

  15. And another thing started well, I thought (at least it picked up reasonable were the last ended), but quickly detoriated. The only good thing were the entries of the Hitchhikers guide. The story itself…

  16. (3) I assumed from the pulled quote that the readers didn’t get the context, but it appears they generally did. I still disagree with the negative assessments, but not as vehemently as I expected to.

    (10) I only recently discovered there are spin-offs of the Hitchiker series. The only person I can imagine doing that justice is no longer with us, and if he were, I’d prefer more Discworld novels.

    Tangentially, I see that Starship Titanic is available on Steam for $6. Any opinions on its quality?

    Currently reading: Mongrels, by Stephen Graham Jones. I don’t know if I bought this due to a recommendation from a Filer or due to an award article on File770. Either way, I blame OGH. I started this yesterday after finishing a somewhat recent horror collection by Paul F. Olsen, as a counter to the Arendt I’m currently working through – can’t read about mindless bureaucratic Nazis all the time. Anyway… I’m loving this book. It reminds me a little of the 80s vampire flick Near Dark, but the “monsters” are even more sympathetic. I don’t read much werewolf fic, so I have no idea if Jones is reinventing werewolves a la Anne Rice in Interview with a Vampire or just slightly tweaking existing tropes. The plot moves along quickly, and Jones does not take every possible dark turn, making for a very fun read. Given the horrific fires just North of us, the ongoing dumpster fire in DC, and everything else, Mongrels is a moving story of a family working hard to stay together and keep going on in difficult situations.

  17. In unrelated news, my niece-who-lives-2000-miles-away-whom-I’ve-therefore-never-actually-met had her 10th birthday yesterday. I sent her the fourth Hamster Princess book by Oor Wombat (I’ve send the first three for various birthdays and Christmasses past). Her parents are not readers; I’m informed (second-hand, via her grandmother, my mother-in-law) that I’m known in that household as “The Book Aunt”, as apparently I’m the sole source of books for the kids in that household.

    I never get any feedback from parents or children as to how presents are received, which leads to considerable angst on my part. (Am I being That Aunt, who sends dreadful presents that are hated but dutifully thanked-for? I don’t actually know my niece; I may never really have the opportunity to really get to know her.)

    Anyway, her grandmother, my mother-in-law, called me up last night to report that she had been on-hand for the Ceremonial Opening Of The Birthday Box From Amazon, and that my niece literally SHRIEKED with delight when she saw what her present was. (“Oh, wonderful! I was hoping Aunt Cassy would send the next Hamster book!!”) So I want to take this opportunity to thank RedWombat for her dedication in drawing hundreds and hundreds of hamsters; judging by the reported decibel level of shrieking, it’s not unappreciated!

    (Niece is getting a copy of Summer in Orcus for Christmas. <smug Kickstarter-backing look>)

  18. @Cassy B – Yay! That is some excellent auntery!

    Regarding my previous post about Mongrels – I forgot to put a warning about animal cruelty. There is a lot of it, which I can kind of chalk up to werewolves having predatory attitudes, but still find nasty.

  19. Cassy B: Also consider Nine Goblins for your niece if she has an ereader–not sure if there is a physical version. My 9-year-old hamster princess fan loved it and enjoys reciting favorite bits out loud at the dinner table (despite the no reading at the table rule).

    I didn’t know that there was a Summer in Orcus book. Must have missed the kickstarter notice. I’ll definitely add that to the birthday/Christmas list for the kiddos.

  20. Combining 3 and 6:
    Has their ever been a Bradburystory in Young People Read Old SFF?
    From the clasics I allways like his works a lot and it would be interesting how Young readers react to him. (I also was more interested in Asimov than in Heinlein)

  21. Nick P, given that her parents are not readers, I rather doubt that Niece has an e-reader. But I’ll see if I can find a dead-tree version of Nine Goblins; thanks for the reminder!

    (Actual comment from Grandmother-of-Niece: “I think her shriek could have broken glass….”)


  22. @Cassy: applause! Every now and then I’m reminded how fortunate I was to have grown up in a bookish family; if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had rescuing relatives, as they were all very … mundane.

  23. Alice: I do tend to think this would not be a great week to read Tiptree and if that influenced Mikayla’s reading of the story.

    Chip Hitchcock: I wonder whether Mikayla wrote her comments after reading about Weinstein

    It is a mistake to think that Weinstein is something unusual (though his “outing” certainly is). The way I read Mikayla’s comment was, “I have to live this shit every day of my life, with men with whom I interact, why would I want to read about it?”

    The story is intended as a wake-up call for people who don’t realize that this is a common occurrence — and I’m sure that it is a catharsis for some of the women who constantly have to deal with it, but that it is also a “yeah, what’s your point?” story to lots of those women.

  24. I kind of took for granted that it was a common occurrence–you don’t get the phrase “casting couch” from nowhere.

  25. The phrase “casting couch” usually came with implied or overt contempt for the (usually) woman involved. Our contempt belongs with the harasser, not the harassed, so I’m glad that language and attitudes seem to be slowly changing.

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