Pixel Scroll 11/27/22 A Long Time Ago, When Pixels Scrolled The Earth, A Filer Was Climbing Mount Tsundoku

(1) BROADCAST MUSIC. Rolling Stone assures us these are the 100 “Best TV Theme Songs of All Time”.

WE APOLOGIZE IN advance for all the TV theme songs we are about to lodge back into your heads. Or maybe we should preemptively accept your thanks?

Despite periodic attempts to contract or outright eliminate them, theme songs are a crucial part of the TV-watching experience. The best ones put you in the right mindset to watch each episode of your favorite, and can be just as entertaining in their own right as any great joke, monologue, or action sequence. So we’ve decided to pick the 100 best theme songs of all time — technically 101, since there are two as inextricably linked as peanut butter and jelly — and attempted to rank them in order of greatness….

John King Tarpinian has scouted ahead and says these numbers are genre: 77, 75, 65, 54, 42, 39, 33, 29, 24, 18, 17, 11, 06.

The highest sf TV show theme is from The Twilight Zone. It lodges at number six between the themes from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Speaking of number six – I’m shocked to learn that the theme from The Prisoner is not on the list at all.)

P.S. I’m sure John would want me to mention that the theme from Rachel Bloom’s TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is even higher, at number four.

(2) BEYOND GOOSEBUMPS. LA Review of Books hosts ”Stine Still Scares: A Conversation with R. L. Stine”.

DANIELLE HAYDEN: So, could you please tell me a little more about the upcoming comic series, Stuff of Nightmares? And I know some of your earliest work was comics. So how does that feel?

R. L. STINE: Well, yeah, when I was nine, I did comics.

Well, yes, I just mean, like, kind of, full circle now.

You know, I’m having a lot of fun. I’m working with BOOM! Studios in Los Angeles. And I did a series of comic books for them called Just Beyond, which was sort of Twilight Zone for kids. And it became a Disney+ series. We had eight episodes. That was fun. Now I’m doing this for adults; I’m actually writing something for grown-ups. And it’s really gruesome stuff. It’s like my version of Frankenstein. And so, I’m having fun with it. Comic books are fun to write. Forces me to be more visual, you know?…

(3) CSSF VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The next title in the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club is Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria. This debut novel about a merchant’s journey to the distant land of Olondria where he finds himself haunted by a mysterious force is the 2014 winner of the World Fantasy Award. 

…We hope it’ll be a wonderful read for folks who have ever been “the new person,” or experience homesickness or wanderlust.

Join them on December 16 at noon (Central Time) for our virtual meeting. Register here. Also, this programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.

(4) THE WORDS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING. Today I learned that Chris Weber published Sentient Chili and Stranger Filk: Lyrics to 107 Songs of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fandom this summer. Good work!

“Filk” is the term applied to the fan music of science fiction and fantasy. Readers and viewers of the genre will find familiar faces and tales. These lyrics cover topics from movies and television to books and original stories. Much of the collection leans towards humor, while touching other emotional chords as well. The stanzas have the feel of ’80s nostalgia but are not exclusively from that era.

The collection is like the contents of the proverbial box of chocolates, bite-sized and filled with surprises.

(5) IGLESIAS INTERVIEW. “Three Questions for Gabino Iglesias Regarding His Novel ‘The Devil Takes You Home’” at LA Review of Books.

DANIEL A. OLIVAS: The hero (or antihero, if you will) of The Devil Takes You Home is a man who has suffered unspeakable personal loss, not to mention a self-inflicted rupture in his marriage. He feels deep remorse and guilt, yet he is hopeful that one big score will restore some of what he’s lost. Could you talk about how you created Mario and what you wanted to explore through his journey?

GABINO IGLESIAS: One of the things I love the most about horror and crime fiction is that both genres share a heart: at their core are good people who are thrown into bad situations. Mario is all of us — far from perfect but not bad. He’s desperate and the system doesn’t offer him many options. Most people know what that feels like. I wrote about 45,000 words of The Devil Takes You Home while writing for various venues, teaching high school full-time, and teaching an MFA course at SNHU at night. Then I lost the high school teaching gig and my health insurance along with it, and this happened in June 2020, just as the pandemic was raging. I would read about people getting sick and then receiving astronomical medical bills. I was angry and worried, and I injected all of that into Mario. Hopefully that will make him resonate with people, especially with those who understand that good people sometimes do awful things for all the right reasons.

(6) BOOGIEPOP. The second episode of the Animation Explorations Podcast is “Boogiepop & Others (2019) – Breaking it all Down”.

This month, David, Tora, and Alexander Case look at the 2019 adaptation of the successful adaptation of some of the Boogiepop light novels

(7) GOING BACK TO WAKANDA. “Ryan Coogler talks Black Panther sequel ‘Wakanda Forever’” at NPR.

…The film has clearly touched a chord with audiences. It’s already earned more than $300 million in the U.S. and is expected to top the Thanksgiving weekend box office. So we wanted to talk with director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He says the film, although about grief, shows the sort of rebirth that occurs in the face of insurmountable loss. And he began by telling me what it was like to reimagine the film’s story, which had already been written before Boseman died.

RYAN COOGLER: It was really complicated. It was difficult technically, because Joe and I had a lot of work to do to figure out what this new movie would be without him and without the character. But it was also complicated because me and everybody involved were navigating our own emotional journey, how to deal with losing our friend. So it was admittedly like the most difficult professional thing I’ve ever done and probably the most difficult personally as well….

(8) MAGNIFYING SMALL PRESS PUBLISHING. Cora Buhlert posted “Small Press – Big Stories: Some of Cora’s Favourite Small Press SFF Books of 2022”, an overview done as part of Matt Cavanaugh’s project to highlight small press SFF. First on Cora’s list:

Mage of Fools by Eugen Bacon

African-Australian writer Eugen Bacon is clearly a rising star in our genre. Yet the first time I heard of her was, when I was asked to feature her novel Claiming T-Mo, published by Meerkat Press, at the Speculative Fiction Showcase back in 2019.

Eugen Bacon’s latest release is Mage of Fools, also published by the good folks of Meerkat Press. Mage of Fools is a unique science fantasy tale set in the dystopian world of Mafinga, a polluted hellhole where books, reading and imagination are forbidden by law. Protagonist Jasmin is a widowed mother of two young children as well as the owner of a forbidden story machine. Possessing such a machine is punishable by death and when Jasmin’s story machine is discovered, she faces execution. However, she gets a temporary reprieve… for a terrible price. Because the queen of Mafinga, who cannot have children of her own, wants Jasmin’s children…

Mage of Fools is a great SFF novel, that manages to be both grim and hopeful at the same time. And since Eugen Bacon is also a poet, the novel is beautifully written as well.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderland

I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.) — Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands

One of my frequently re-read novels is this one. It’s a comfort read in every meaning of that word. And yes, I do have a personally signed as I do of Bone Dance as well. Of course they’re on the chocolate gifting list.

Emma released this novel on Tor twenty-eight years ago. It’s one of three novels done on the shared world created by Terri Windling, a ruined city sharing a Border with the Fey. Most of the fiction here is short stories, novellas and poetry. This novel and two done by her husband, Will Shetterly, Elsewhere and Nevernever, are the only novels done. His are also excellent.

So why do I like her novel so much that I’ve read it at least a dozen times?

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY THEY DO. GO GET A DRINK IN THE DANCING FERRET.

First, it has a first-person narrator in Orient, a young male, who has the psychic ability to find anything if the right question is asked. So when his elf friend, Tick Tock, asks him to find her missing wrench in exchange for supper, little does he know that his life will become the whim of others. There are plenty of characters, all well-fleshed out, and all moving the story along.

Second, it has a compelling story weaving two apparently disparate plots that are here into a single thread that makes perfect sense. And Emma pulls no punches; bad things will happen to folks no matter how central they are to the story including what happens TO Tick Tock which made me cry. A lot of story get packed into its just over three hundred pages and it moves smartly along.

Third, Emma does the best job in this long running series of making the central setting (naturally called Bordertown) feel as if it were an actual place, a neat trick as too many such places feel not quite real. The short stories quite frankly fail at doing this as they focus more on making the characters be Really Cool.

Everything here really does feel as if you could walk down Mock Avenue, have a drink in the Dancing Ferret, and hear the Horn Dance perform as they came down the street on their magic fuelled wheeled motorcycles.

COME BACK NOW, THE HORN DANCE HAS LEFT FOR NOW.

If you like this, I suggest the newest anthology, Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands, which Holly Black and Ellen Kushner edited a decade or so back, is well worth your time as are the older anthologies. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de CampThe Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon 2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willy Ley. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  Wiki has her script editing and appearing in a fan-made episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006, which is notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the granddaughter of the First Doctor. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 27, 1940 Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda M. Snodgrass, 71. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation while serving as the story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for SlidersStrange LuckBeyond RealityOdyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s a co-editor of and frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 65. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 61. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. 
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 48. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield but nothing major.

(11) BOOP BOOP A DOOP. ScreenRant knows this question has been on your mind: “How Does Luke Skywalker Understand What R2-D2 Says In Star Wars?”

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 have several interactions together, but it’s not entirely clear how the Jedi learned to understand what the astromech droid is saying. Droids have always been a key component of the Star Wars franchise, with some of them being so intelligent they can speak multiple languages, such as R2’s companion, protocol droid C-3PO. Artoo, however, has only ever spoken in the default droid language known as “Binary,” which contains a mixture of whistles, chirps, and beeps, both loud and quiet…. 

(12) KSR DROPPING. A little credit gets directed at Kim Stanley Robinson in the New York Times’ article “Douglas Brinkley Would Like to Invite Thoreau to Dinner”.

The historian, whose new book is “Silent Spring Revolution,” would also invite E.O. Wilson and Rachel Carson: “We could talk about the 11,000 bird species the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is helping to conserve in the face of climate change.”

What’s the last great book you read?

During the pandemic I was transfixed by George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides,” perhaps the most frightening doomsday thriller of all time. Most of American civilization collapses because of a strange disease, but a Berkeley ecologist is one of the rare survivors of the epidemic. Stewart wrote the book about 75 years ago, but his description of empty cities and the power of nature unleashed seem very contemporary in a world of Covid and climate change. It holds up well, and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a fine introduction for the 2020 edition.

(13) BANG BANG. “San Francisco police consider letting robots use ‘deadly force’” reports The Verge.

…As reported by Mission Local, members of the city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee have been reviewing the new equipment policy for several weeks. The original version of the draft didn’t include any language surrounding robots’ use of deadly force until Aaron Peskin, the Dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, initially added that “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person.”

However, the SFPD returned the draft with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with the line that gives robots the authority to kill suspects. According to Mission Local, Peskin eventually decided to accept the change because “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.” San Francisco’s rules committee unanimously approved a version of the draft last week, which will face the Board of Supervisors on November 29th….

(14) INSTANT MUSIC VIDEO. Boing Boing told readers that “Gifaanisqatsi generates Koyaanisqatsi-style montages with random GIFs and sets them to Philip Glass’s looming score” – and what they’d like to see next.

Gifaanisqatsi is outstanding. Click it and off it goes, grabbing random GIFs and setting them, with a little treatment (such as time-lapse and slow-mo) to Philip Glass’s score to Koyaanisqatsi. The result is comically nihilistic, confirming both the trivial universality of the movie’s sentiments and that the sense of the awe commanded by the filmic tone poem format is now available at zero marginal cost.

Suggestion: a “Qataaniskoysi” option that restricts the GIFs in use to cats.

(15) FEEL FREE TO LOOK OUT THE WINDOW. “See the Far Side of the Moon: Incredibly Detailed Pictures From Artemis I Orion Close Lunar Flyby” at SciTech Daily.

…On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moonpassing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/27/22 A Long Time Ago, When Pixels Scrolled The Earth, A Filer Was Climbing Mount Tsundoku

  1. Sprague De Camp. you can’t forget Incomplete Enchanter. (Yngvi is not a louse!).
    And I’ve long said that having been introduced to fandom early, I don’t get intimidated by anyone, whatever their office, having met so many famous authors, and learned that they’re not seven feet tall with voices like thunder… well, except maybe for Sprague.

  2. 10) On Verity Lambert; Susan (Carol Ann Ford) played the Doctor’s granddaughter, not his daughter.

  3. 4) No link? No publisher information?
    EDIT: I see, it’s self-published (Smashwords, I think, is the platform).

  4. Orange Mike: It’s available on Amazon. But what happens if I put in the link to Amazon? Then I get a comment complaining that I put in a link to the Terrible Amazon Corporation, and not six other sites. Or I can treat everybody like an adult capable of finding a book they’re interested in.

  5. Rolling Stone seemed to ignore every TV series that came out of the U.K. So not only did The Prisoner get ignored, but also The Saint, The Avengers, Thunderbirds, and Space: 1999, just off the top of my head.
    They also skipped over some major genre themes, like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Airwolf, Stargate: SG-1, and Battlestar Galactica (either one).

  6. @Orange Mike
    I did a fast search, saw links to both B&N and the large South American River, and decided to check Kobo.

  7. Orange Mike: I get the same complaints when I give streaming options for some of the series that I essay. So I’ve decided just to include the major ones like Amazon, Paramount + and Peacock. My essays, my choices.

    Books are much easier—I just check Apple Books, Kindle and Kobo.

  8. I loved The Green Hornet. And although Batman also came up in the conversation, for some reason the memory is attached to The Green Hornet. My parents were commenting in how unrealistic it was that these costumed crime fighters solved all their cases. I said they obviously didn’t, but there would be no point in making episodes about their failures.

    And they laughed at me, because I was according to them defending the perfection of my TV heroes…and I honestly don’t see how that follows. I was saying that they weren’t perfect. That they told the stories about their successes.

    Was I not supposed to have noticed, at 10, that people would rather talk about their successes, and that stories with positive endings are more likely to be popular?

    (13) Yup. Skynet’s plans are back on track.

  9. Yes, The Prisoner isn’t there because that was 100 top TV theme tunes from US tv shows only. I think the most egregious genre omission caused by that is actually Doctor Who; incredibly influential in the development of electronic music as well as being an absolutely iconic theme tune.

  10. 1) I protest the absence of Lalo Schifrin’s Theme to Mannix. It’s not genre but excellent nonetheless.

    Iain noted:
    Rolling Stone seemed to ignore every TV series that came out of the U.K. So not only did The Prisoner get ignored, but also The Saint, The Avengers, Thunderbirds, and Space: 1999, just off the top of my head.

    I have a soft spot for “High Wire” the theme to Danger Man (genre -adjacent to The Prisoner)

    This Bruce Lee clip however is genre as hell:

    YouTubeStalk!

  11. 1) Rolling Stone: John King Tarpinian seems to have left off his scouting at #80. There are several genre shows in the 100-80 range:
    100 (WandaVision)
    93 (I Dream of Jeannie)
    90 (The Walking Dead)
    88 (Stranger Things)
    86 (The Flintstones) (although I could be persuaded that this one is really just a domestic sitcom like The Honeymooners, dressed up with a gimmick, and not really genre)

    And I’d say that if Scooby Doo and SpongeBob SquarePants count as genre, then so does 70 (Phineas and Ferb).

  12. (1) This seems to be quite random, when something as iconic as Mission Impossible is quite far down the list. But it maybe skewed, because Im not American. I personally miss Fall Guy (in addition to all the Non-US-shows) and wonder if Losts soundeffect could be considered a theme song at all?

  13. Mm-further to both Alison and to Orange Mike’s comments re TV theme tunes, yes there were –for the 1 hour “Danger Man”/”Secret Agent” series– two tunes: one for the US version and a completely different one for the UK version. (The earlier, 1/2 hour “Danger Man” series used the same theme for both UK and US.) And omitted in previous listings above is the excellent but haunting theme for ITC’s “The Persuaders” (Roger Moore/Tony Curtis). The same composer (John Barry) also did another but earlier haunting theme-from “The Human Jungle”.. best wishes.

  14. One of de Camp’s most interesting books is his autobiography, Time and Chance, which deals not much with his SF/F writing but a good deal with what we would now recognize as neurodiversity. I met him a few times at cons and was struck by his rather grave reserve (in marked contrast to his wife Catherine’s liveliness), and his account of how he managed to cope with his social awkwardness explained what I’d observed. Robert Silverberg had (I thought) jokingly described de Camp at social gatherings taking notes on jokes that worked–and the autobiography confirmed that he actually did something like that, in an attempt to craft a persona that would allow him to navigate a social world that he had to decode rather than just intuitively understand. I found that part of his story kind of heroic.

    BTW, I have good memories of his historical novels, all set in the pre-Roman Mediterranean world. Not as striking as, say, Robert Graves’ work, but a nice vision of the preclassical world as a place filled with practical folk: engineers, craftsmen, and merchants.

  15. Late to the party, but I wanted to note that, apropos of Alison Scott’s spot on observation about the Dr Who theme, Delia Derbyshire day was this past Wednesday.

    From the website (deliaderbyshireday.com): DD Day is on 23 NOVEMBER because this is the date Delia’s revolutionary realisation of Ron Grainer’s Dr Who theme first beamed into British living rooms (in 1963).

  16. I can give one personal example of Mr. de Camp-Sir not being reserved in public. Back at some Worldcon room party in the 80s, I stopped on the way out to give him a goodbye kiss. (We did such innocent things in the old days, children.) He turned it into something rather more spectacular by bending me back over his knee until I was upside down and squeaking “please don’t drop me, sir” before bestowing a smooch worthy of Errol Flynn. Mrs. de Camp-ma’am was graciously amused, the rest of the room likewise. Pity there were no smartphones then. Bear in mind that he was in his 70s and I was not petite.

  17. De Camp was an early read of mine (Lest Darkness Fall, Incomplete Enchanter). I’ve said loudly for years that I wish that the Planet Krishna stories and novels would get collected by NESFA or somebody and re-released.

    The Ancient Engineers forever cured me of “aliens built ancient monuments” nonsense.

  18. @Lis Carey: Your explanation reminds me of what Raymond Burr supposedly said when a viewer complained to him about Perry Mason winning all his cases. “But madam, you see only the cases I try on Saturday.”

  19. I’m also a fan of de Camp’s nonfiction — Ancient Engineers & its companion (whose title escapes me), his Atlantis book, and especially Great Cities of the Ancient World, which also included some first-rate illustrations by Roy G. Krenkel.

  20. 1) Another genre omission that slightly surprised me is Lost in Space
    I think that Johnny Williams had real promise as a composer 🙂

  21. Didn’t he have something to do with that film they made from that Alan Dean Foster book? Too bad that never went anywhere.

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