Pixel Scroll 10/6 Beyond the pixelated event horizon

(1) Put together “William Shatner” and “flying” and I’m going to think of the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of The Twilight Zone. Not Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond — he thinks of a different Shatner role when he flies, and it got him into trouble.

Alex Salmond found himself in a bizarre situation with airline staff after booking on to a flight under the name James Kirk – the captain of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.

The former Scottish first minister caused confusion when British Airways initially refused to let him board a flight at Heathrow under the sci-fi alias.

The Mail on Sunday reported that it took a series of telephone calls for the senior politician to persuade the airline that he should be allowed on board.

Salmond said he often travelled under a false name for security reasons and as a Trekkie – as fans of the show are known – he liked to use Kirk’s name, partly as a joke but also because it was easy to remember….

He told the Mail on Sunday: “It was all sorted out. I just wanted BA to ‘beam me up, Scotty’.”

(2) “Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers” by Jennifer Simonson on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

[Last 3 of 9.]

“Skip to the end!”

“That is the sound of ultimate suffering.”


(3) Ursula K. Le Guin will appear at UCLA on Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. Tickets from $19-$49.

Incomparable storyteller and worldweaver Ursula K. Le Guin joins us for a conversation celebrating her incredible oeuvre, hosted by Meryl Friedman, CAP UCLA Director of Education and Special Initiatives.

(4) A report on Diana Pavlac Glyer’s talk about the Inklings’ “dangerous friendships”, by Scott Keith.

I recently finished the C. S. Lewis biography authored by Alister McGrath entitled, C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. I highly recommend it. Over the weekend, I also attended The Great Conversation (TCG) C. S. Lewis symposium. At the symposium, Diana Pavlac Glyer, professor of English at Azusa Pacific University gave a talk on the influence of the Inklings on the thought of C. S. Lewis. I am struck by the extent to which great writers like Lewis and Tolkien seemed to use what McGrath calls, “midwives” when writing their great works. Or as Glyer put it, “We all need dangerous friends.”….

Gradually, the schedule of Inklings’ meetings became regularized, so they generally met on Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child pub (which they called the “Bird and Baby” or just the “Bird”) and at Lewis’s study rooms in the college where he was an Oxford Don, Magdalen College, on Thursday evenings. At the pub they smoked their pipes, drank, and had good food almost like hobbits. While they sat in the bar, they talked about language and literature. Others in the group included Owen Barfield, Warren Lewis, Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and Charles Williams.

As it is described by those in the know, the Inklings were not afraid to mix it up a bit. These men were not all alike. Lewis was brash and boisterous. Tolkien seems to have been more reserved and introspective. They did not agree on many things. Tolkien is said to have believed that Lewis’s use of allegory in his Ransom Trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia, was perhaps too obvious. In fact, they often disagreed on issues of morality. McGrath explains that Tolkien believed that Lewis’s view concerning civil marriage was against the teaching of the church. Thus, the evidence points to the fact that Tolkien disapproved of Lewis’s marriage to Joy Davidman.

(5) Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank has responded to Neil Clarke’s recent editorial “The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews”, where Clarke opined that short-fiction reviews are of little value.

In Hullender’s RSR post “Getting More From Short Fiction Reviews” he draws a distinction between a review system and a recommendation system. While conceding that Clarke is probably right that reviews alone aren’t worth a lot to most people, he argues that as part of a recommendation system, reviews can be very valuable indeed.

(6) Scientists think they may soon be able to answer “What color was the T-Rex?”. From NPR –

INSKEEP: That’s Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol in Britain. Vinther and scientists from Virginia Tech confirmed traces of melanin in fossils dating back millions of years, and that melanin may provide a vital clue.

VINTHER: The kinds of hair colors that we see in humans, ranging from black to ginger, are made by melanin.

MONTAGNE: Bits of melanin are found inside cells, and the shape of those bits says something about the color of the creature.

VINTHER: If you have a black melanosome, they’re shaped like a sausage whereas if you have a red melanosome, then they’re shaped like a little meatball.

INSKEEP: Turns out, this meatball and sausage theme is pretty consistent across nature.

VINTHER: I myself is quite sort of ginger in my appearance. My beard is very, very sort of reddish. And if you took a look at the melanosomes in my beard, they will be shaped like little meatballs. And then if you have, for example, an American robin, they have this reddish-brown chest and they would also have these kinds of meatballs.

MONTAGNE: So the researchers are presuming the shapes may also have matched the color of creatures from the distant past. The team checked the melanin from two species of bat that lived almost 50 million years ago. They were a reddish-brown color.

(7) The Western Science Fiction Association maintains a convention listing page, and Stephanie Bannon invites conrunners to send their events for inclusion. Contact info at the site.

(8) It never occurred to me the Archie characters were based on anybody in particular. A documentary filmmaker tracked down the real life Betty.

In 1939, 18-year-old Betty Tokar Jankovich briefly dated, and quickly dumped, a comic book artist named Bob Montana. Though she quickly forgot about the young illustrator, he never forgot about her. More than seven decades later, Jankovich was shocked to discover that an ex-boyfriend she only vaguely remembered had named a character after her: She was the inspiration for Betty Cooper from the Archie comics.

Jankovich would likely never have known about her Archie connection if not for filmmaker Gerald Peary. A documentarian, journalist, and Archie super-fan, Peary decided to research the real-life inspiration for the comic book characters. He didn’t expect to actually meet any living real-life members of the gang—he just wanted to find out if they’d really existed.

(9) Sales prices of some items in Profiles in History’s recent Hollywood Auction have been made public.

The “slave Leia” costume worn by Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi sold for $96,000.

The costume — once colorfully described by Fisher in a Newsweek article as “what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell” — came with a certificate of authenticity from Star Wars designer Richard Miller.

CBS News has results for 22 other pop culture items. Among them:

  • The 16-inch miniature Rebel Blockade Runner, seen in the opening moments of Star Wards (1977), sold for $450,000.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s velour tunic from the second season of the original Star Trek series went for $84,000.
  • George Reeves’ gray knit wool costume from The Adventures of Superman, when it was filmed in black-and-white, fetched $216,000.
  • The signature stylized “S” insignia is in dark brown on a field of crème. An “undersuit” made of durable synthetic satin-like fabric featured a sculpted rubber muscles. Also includes a molded fiberglass “flying pan” to hold Reeves when he flew, after he refused to hang from wires.
  • The duck that dropped down when someone said the secret word on Groucho Marx’ You Bet Your Life brought $16,800.
  • Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones fedora from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade sold for $90,000 and his bullwhip, used in the first three movies, sold for $204,000.

(10) John Ringo, who has said before there will be a continuation of the March Upcountry series, co-authored with David Weber, had a status report on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed the series so I’m glad to hear it, although fans should expect to wait another couple years before seeing more of Empire of Man.

(Another funny. David had just broken his wrist and was just starting to use voice-to-text to write. So at one point in an email I got the line ‘I’m looking forward to senior manuscript.’ Took me forever to figure out ‘senior’ was Dragon’s attempt to translate a Southern accent saying ‘Seeing your.’) 🙂

Anyway, most of the ‘middle stuff’ is politics. So I’m going to write what I know (blowing shit up) and send it to David then say ‘David, this is your specialty. You figure it out. Looking forward to senior manuscript.’ 🙂

I’ll probably end up writing it, Junior Author’s job, but it will give David a skeleton to hang the ‘politics’ on and come up with some ideas. 🙂

So the answer to ‘what next’ is Empire of Man. But don’t get your hopes up. It will only be about half done when I’m done and currently the schedule is blocked with other stuff out to 2017.

(11) Previously unreleased Apollo photos, rather spectacular in places — “8,400 High-Res Images From The Apollo Moon Missions Were Just Put Online – Here Are The Best”.

Apollo 9

Apollo 9

(12) In a news flash apropos of our latest round of brackets, Deadline.com ran an article “HBO Confirms ‘Preliminary Discussions’ For ‘Watchmen’ TV Series”. HBO has spoken with Zack Snyder, director of the 2009 movie Watchmen, about a potential series.

(13) Pepsi will release Back to the Future Part II-inspired Pepsi Perfect, but like Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the price will be sky high.

Pepsi announced it is paying tribute to Back to the Future Part II with the release of Pepsi Perfect, the formerly fictional beverage featured in the film.

The company announced Pepsi Perfect, which contains Pepsi Made with Real Sugar and features packaging consistent with the beverage served to Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II‘s fictional version of 2015, will be available starting Oct. 21.

The company said fans thirsty from a hard day riding on their hoverboards will be able to buy the limited-edition Pepsis at a price of $20.15 for a 16.9-ounce bottle and visitors to New York ComicCon will have an opportunity to get their hands on the collectable beverages early starting Oct. 9.

Must be the law of supply and demand at work — they’re making only 6,500 bottles.

(14) Today is election day at North Pole, Alaska and a familiar name is on the ballot. Seriously. So they say.

Santa Claus is running for the North Pole City Council.

The North Pole Clerk’s office announced on Thursday that the former North Pole Chamber of Commerce president, whose driver’s license really does bear his legal name of Santa Claus, is one of two candidates who have launched write-in campaigns for City Council. The other is La Nae Bellamy.

The North Pole City Council has two seats up for election this year, but no one filed for office during the regular filing period. Candidates run as a group for the at-large seats, with the top vote-getters declared the winners. Claus and Bellamy will need voters to write in their names next Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The lack of candidates appears to be a problem throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The two candidates for the Fairbanks City Council are uncontested, as are two school board seats. North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward is also uncontested in his re-election bid.

[Thanks to Mark sans surname, Locus Online, Ansible Links, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

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133 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/6 Beyond the pixelated event horizon

  1. Thanks for the audiobook suggestions earlier. It turns out I can only get Audible Studios audiobooks for review, and I picked Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The description and the sample seem promising.

  2. You don’t see a difference between clearly identified fanfic and adaptation, which still bears the name of the work it purports to be adapting?

    Not in a way that accrues to Moore’s benefit. I don’t consider fanfic writers to have much ownership of what they do.

    Moore took other people’s characters, jammed them together, made them behave massively out of character, had them have sex with each other, etc, etc… I don’t think he has much standing to argue about how his work should be treated.

    Let’s put it this way: if someone writes a “Hurr hurr hurr Snape/Ron have sexx” fic, and someone says “Hey, can I make a film of it?”, he doesn’t have much ground to complain when the film guy says “Yeah, we’re gonna remove this massively racist section here, and we’ll change this “hurr” to “neer””.

    TL:DR Someone treated Moore’s work with the same respect and accuracy with which he treated the original works, and he evidently can’t see the irony.

  3. @Jim Henley

    “Ancillary Mercy: Done. Loved it. Loved the ending. Not a spoiler, but I teared up a little when I came to the keystone sentence of the entire trilogy, its six little words.”

    I’m sometimes really dense about ‘keystones’ or philosophical insights or whatevers, but I saw 3 or 4 sorta thematic summations there near the end. Only one of the ones I saw could be made 6 words long. It’ll be interesting to get your take when the rot13 discussion starts.

    Agree about loving it and tearing up. :^] I went back and reread the last few chapters to let the ending sink in better. My initial reaction was “Hunh?”, then “Hunh!”, then “HmmmmMM!!” I’m very articulate. :-p

  4. @Susana S. P. I take it you liked them?

    I liked them all very much, and I also liked Annihilation, which filled my quota for weird-but-satisfying for the month of September. The one that resonated most was The Long Way to…, because kindness was woven through it, and I am a sucker for kindness in books (hence my boundless appreciation for The Goblin Emperor). I think the Gladstone series looks good, but I’ll probably start with the first book. Not this week, though.

    Next up is The Traitor Baru Cormorant and then I think either Sorcerer to the Crown or Felicia Day’s autobiography, because while Mt. File 770 is currently in the foreground of my TBR mountain range, it isn’t the largest peak.

  5. I haven’t read The Traitor Baru Cormorant, but Dickinson’s short story “Please Undo This Hurt” is quite amazing. If he manages to write that beautifully for a whole novel, it would indeed be something.

  6. @Watts:

    I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer: “clearly identified fanfic” was meant to refer to Moore’s borrowing (and subverting) of characters, which Rose was equating to adaptations of Moore’s work (like the film of LoEG, or Snyder’s Watchmen movie. I see those things as fundamentally different, so that the one taking away his standing to criticize the other makes no sense to me.


    I won’t argue the specifics of LoEG, which I have no great love for (I read part of the first volume, and watched the movie, which mostly bored me), and I certainly respect your (or anyone’s) feelings that characters were betrayed. I feel like that about the Hobbit movies.

    It’s just that I see the line between fanfiction and, well, fiction as a very blurry one. I like the soup of story, like retellings, remixings, reinterpretations, subversions. Some of them don’t work, some may even be offensive, but they don’t take away that first story, aren’t pretending to be that story.

    The difference between that and adaptation, especially books into films, is the way in which the new thing tends to stand in for the old, and, when badly done, actively keep people from seeking out the original.

  7. I have alas finished Ancillary Mercy. Rot13 V nz tynq gb xabj gung Nannaqre Zvnannv jbhyq unir orra gur svefg ntnvafg gur jnyy jura gur eribyhgvba pnzr vs guvf unq orra gung xvaq bs obbx; nf vg jnf, V jvyy pbagrag zlfrys jvgu gur snpg gung rira gur tbyqsvfu fheivirq naq Qnhtugre bs Svfurf vf abj cebivqrq ol n pbyyrpgvir bs grn jbexref. 😉

  8. Michael Eochaidh on October 7, 2015 at 4:17 pm said:
    I thought I was Anna Feruglio Dal Dan. You mean I’m not?

    I’m… almost positive. I don’t know. I certainly seem to be able to speak Italian, but if you are certain you are Anna Feruglio Dal Dan…

    This household is out of fish sauce. Do you happen to have any?

  9. I didn’t like Baru very much, but one good thing about it is the emphasis about forensic accountancy, which was something my father was talking to me about very entertainingly (for values of entertainingly including “this fucked up our family and landed 5,000 people on the street but we can laugh about it now”) yesterday.

    Ancillary Mercy also has a delightful aside about the importance of meetings to decide what to talk about in meetings. “But setting the agenda IS important!” I suspect that would send the puppies up the walls more than the Genitalia Festival.

    Also, chalk up Breq as somebody who would never characterise what she does as “badass stuff to bad people”, although she would have quite a lot of justification to.

  10. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan (or possibly someone else) wrote:

    Ancillary Mercy also has a delightful aside about the importance of meetings to decide what to talk about in meetings. “But setting the agenda IS important!” I suspect that would send the puppies up the walls more than the Genitalia Festival.

    That reminded me so strongly of the recent Worldcon Business Meeting. It must be a general feature of meetings, since the book must have been at the printers by then, but still.

  11. @Junego @LordMelvin

    The Traitor… is on my Hugo longlist, and it’s pretty high up on it (top 3 currently are Seveneves, Uprooted, & Nemesis Games). There’s a couple tied at 4th as well as 5th, and I’m not too sure where Traitor fits in yet.

    Let’s see if Breq makes the decision easier.

  12. @Rose,
    Thanks for better clarifying your position. I understand to a point, and it actually is at the heart of copyright protections afforded by laws.

    I’ll take a bit different position. The point of Public Domain is to say a thing belongs to no one, or rather everyone.

    Allen Quartermain was in the Public Domain.

    Mina Murray was in the Public Domain.

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Nemo) was in the Public Domain.

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was in the Public Domain.

    Due to court resolution Sherlock Holmes has been confirmed to be now (but perhaps not at original point when Moore created the initial stories) in public domain.

    For me, it’s not remotely a question of ethics/principles regarding ownership. The basis of copyright says the the public good is best served by allowing — after a reasonable period to elapse for the creator to fully exploit his or her creation — a creation at some point to be able to be exploited by everyone.

    The characters Moore used in LXG are in that group. Moore’s own creations he felt were molested via adaptations are not.

    -Silly but True

  13. Fabulist:

    For those nominating for the Hugos, Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon for Kindle dropped to 2 bucks today on Amazon US.

    Lagoon was published in 2014. Okorafor’s Binti is from 2015, though, and is beautifully written – it’s firmly on my novella longlist.

  14. Lagoon was published in Canada and the UK in 2014; it didn’t get a US publication until 2015, which makes it eligible again this year.

  15. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan

    “I have alas finished Ancillary Mercy…”

    Jryy, gur obbx vf anzrq Napvyynel ZREPL.

    ETA: correct spelling of Anna’s name. Sorry, Anna

  16. @Silly but True:
    Though once Moore moved out of the Victoria era, things became a lot less clear. The Black Dossier wasn’t released outside of the U.S. at first, in part because of the rather complicated copyright status of 1984, which is public domain in some countries but not in others.

  17. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan

    I didn’t like Baru very much, but one good thing about it is the emphasis about forensic accountancy

    If you like forensic accountancy in your novels, I can warmly recommend Neptune’s Brood, if you haven’t read it yet.

  18. @snowcrash

    “The Traitor… is on my Hugo longlist, and it’s pretty high up on it (top 3 currently are Seveneves, Uprooted, & Nemesis Games). There’s a couple tied at 4th as well as 5th, and I’m not too sure where Traitor fits in yet.

    Let’s see if Breq makes the decision easier.”

    I guess everyone does lists differently. Mine are more longish lists from which I’ll winnow out my top 5 next year. I don’t even have 5 in novels yet, but (in no particular order) my list is Uprooted, The Fifth Season, & Ancillary Mercy.

    Haven’t read Seveneves, Nemesis Games. I had never started The Expanse series, do you think Nemesis can stand alone? Seveneves is high on the TBR soon pile.

    I’ve read several other books that I either didn’t like that well or weren’t what I’d consider quite Hugo level (say 4 instead of 5 star). The 4*s include The Long Way… & Sorcerer to the Crown. I do have Becky Chambers on my Campbell list, though.

    I bounced off Karen Memory once, but I’ll try again…generally love Bear’s writing, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood at that moment to take the particular ride a story offers.

    Besides Aurora, does anyone have any other SF Hugo novel recs? I have a number of Fantasy books, including Traitor, Lagoon, and Watchmaker, left to try, but would like a deeper SF field.

    Oh, last question, does anyone know if The Red by Nagata is eligible for the Hugo? Am starting the second in that series, because it did come out for the first time this year. As IUI, though, Red was originally self pub’d in 2013 but got a rewrite and tradpub rerelease this year, so ???

  19. “Lagoon was published in 2014. Okorafor’s Binti is from 2015, though, and is beautifully written – it’s firmly on my novella longlist.”

    Well, $&@%. Thought I had checked that date. ::sigh:: I still have Binti in the TBR pile.

    ETA: Just read another comment that Lagoon IS eligible. So cool!! But think I’ll stop babbling and read more of the overnight comments before responding anymore.

  20. I was going to comment on the discussion equating making use of the public domain to fanfic and doing so meaning you can’t object to anyone who uses your own non-PD characters you thought you were going to regain control of when you made the deal, but I find I’m just rolling my eyes too hard.

    Sorry. The rolling eyes apparently made my knee jerk. I’m okay now.

  21. I honestly wasn’t talking about non-Public Domain characters, I was specifically referencing LoEG and the PF characters therin. I do find Moore’s comments on Watchmen somewhat disingenuous, since he appallingly signed away the rights, but that’s a different matter.

    Now if he had used the Charleston characters in Watchmen like he originally wanted, then he would have much less of a cause to complain. But he Watchmen characters are his characters, and he can do what he wants with them. Including signing away all rights.

  22. @Jenora,

    A fair point, but it’s not any adaptation of The Black Dossier that raised Moore’s hackles.

    Besides — and I’m only half-serious, but that’s still a fair half — who’s to say Jimmy and Billy are who we think we are. Stranger arguments and decisions have been made in copyright cases (Superman and Superboy being different people or court ruling on Marv Wolfman’s Black Nova and Nova, for example). I recall there being a conscious decision by Moore to ensure that encroaching elements were sufficiently diluted to fend off a claim of stolen IP, or at most amount to a wink and a nod. So technically they need not be or aren’t the same people at all in the same way that Nemo IS supposed to be Nemo.

    They never got the chance to know whether they were successful in excising enough offending elements as it was DC corporate who didn’t want to test the case and end up paying big.

    But I don’t think Black Dossier renders Moore’s criticism of the LXG movie adaptation invalid. For that matter, I also think Ian Fleming’s estate is fully within its right to criticize Black Dossier

    Silly But True

  23. junego at 10:15:

    Besides Aurora, does anyone have any other SF Hugo novel recs? I have a number of Fantasy books, including Traitor, Lagoon, and Watchmaker, left to try, but would like a deeper SF field.

    I perhaps controversially read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street as historical science fiction, and I haven’t read Lagoon but I understand that it’s an alien first contact story, so it sounds like you may have more SF in your queue than you realize! Watchmaker is on my own likely nominee list. In terms of traditional spacefaring fiction, I enjoyed Carolyn Ives Gilman’s Dark Orbit; it was a bit uneven (mostly the attempts at mysticism didn’t work for me), but consistently inventive, and when it was on, it really sparkled.

  24. > “Besides Aurora, does anyone have any other SF Hugo novel recs?”

    The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan was pretty good. It’s in the #3-ish slot on my current list, although I have a lot of reading left to do yet.

  25. @Andy H

    Your right, I had Lagoon in the wrong queue. I will check out Dark Orbit and will have to read Watchmaker to see if I want to be ‘controversial’ too. :^]

  26. @Kyra

    Thank you. Gracekeepers has been added to the TBR-Hugo. Blurb looks interesting. Incidentally, one of the categories Amazon lists it under is “Magical Realism”!

  27. Huh. Poking around the web, it appears to be one of those books where there is disagreement as to whether it is fantasy or sci-fi.

  28. @Kyra
    “Huh. Poking around the web, it appears to be one of those books where there is disagreement as to whether it is fantasy or sci-fi.”

    This is one of those cases where ‘speculative fiction’ may apply best. A good tale by any other name…

  29. Thanks to all who recommended Sorcerer to the Crown. I read it last night/today and really enjoyed how it played with magic, fairie, women, race, and familiars.

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