Pixel Scroll 12/1/19 That Is How Pixels Scroll When They Are Excited

(1) BRING ME THE HEAD OF C-3PO. Art Daily announces “Return of the auction: Sotheby’s announces second sale dedicated to Star Wars”. A ‘Return of the Jedi’, Promotional C-3PO helmet (1983) might bring £15,000-25,000.

Following a sell-out auction in 2015 from the collection of NIGO®, Sotheby’s will now host its second sale dedicated to ‘Star Wars’ collectibles, titled ‘Star Wars Online’. Encompassing around 100 lots from the acclaimed franchise, the online-only sale, open from 29 November to 13 December, offers the opportunity to acquire a piece of pop culture history just days ahead of the highly-anticipated release of the final film in the sequel trilogy, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’.

(2) CLARION CALLS. Applications for the 2020 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop are open now through March 1, 2020. The workshop will be held June 21, 2020 – August 1, 2020 on the UC San Diego campus.

(3) ANOTHER SATISFIED MURDERBOT CUSTOMER.  Ann Leckie reports on “Books I’ve Read Recently”.

First off, just to make you all jealous, I’ve read Martha Wells’ Network Effect–you know, the Murderbot novel that’s not out till next May? Yeah, that one.

“When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

“Drastic action it is, then.”

Yeah, it’s just as awesome as you’re hoping it is….

(4) STAR TREK CATS. Today, the Spock Cat. “Live long and prospurrr…”

  • Based on the artwork by Jenny Parks
  • Officially-licensed Star Trek collectible
  • Part of the Star Trek Cats Collection
  • Limited Edition
  • Doesn’t React to Any of Your Jokes
  • Transporter-Inspired Base with Star Trek Logo

(5) A BETTER MOUSE, ER, READER TRAP. Renay turned criticisms of a Barnes & Noble aisle-end book display into a great thought experiment and post for Lady Business“Let’s Get Literate! Building Better Book Endcaps”.

Book presentation is itself a complicated art, using data and knowledge of trends. It’s why I love browsing indie bookstores, when I get to go somewhere with one (ha ha rural life is so dire). You can look at their endcaps and displays and see patterns, and if you’re well read in a genre, you can also see those indie folks making jokes, critiquing, showing books in conversations with each other. This is the part that Unregulated Capitalism can never replicate. What I saw happening in this photo made my soul leak from my body to pool on the floor of B&N, defeated.

Then I thought: I could give this a shot and drag some friends along for the ride. I claim no expertise in building endcaps like the pros in indie bookstore culture. I just wanted to cheer myself up and create a dream endcap that would make me happy to see. So everyone gets a book tag!

(6) LE GUIN ON SALE. Grasshopper Films is selling “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” for $14.97, down from $29.95. Sale ends Monday night, NY time.


  • December 1, 2012 Dragon Wasps premiered.  Starring Dominika Juillet, Nikolette Noel and Corin Nemec, this Little Dragon Productions currently rates 12% at Rotten Tomatoes and doesn’t appeared to have any published reviews. You can see the trailer here.
  • December 1, 2017 Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1 premiered. Directed and written by Christian Pasquariello,  it starred  Iwan Rheon as S.U.M.1, André Hennicke as MAC and Rainer Werner as V.A.X.7. Filmed in Germany, the English language version rates 18% as its audience score at Rotten Tomatoes.  You can see the trailer here.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 Rex Stout. He did several genre or at least genre adjacent novels, to wit How Like A GodThe President Vanishes and his lost world tale, Under the Incas. Though I’ve read lots of Stout, I’ve not read these. ISFDB also lists Rue Morgue No. 1 as genre but this appears to be mysteries or possibly straightforward pulp tales that he co-edited with Louis Greenfield. (Died 1975.)
  • Born December 1, 1905 Charles G. Finney. It’s rare that I pick writers that have done one work one that has defined them but his one such work is, well, phenomenal in this regard. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, won one of the inaugural National Book Award for the Most Original Book of 1935, is most decidedly fantasy. Bradbury would so like the novel that he included it in The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories which is rather obviously named after it. It is said the Circus in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 1, 1928 Malachi Throne. You’ve likely seen him if you watched genre television on the Sixties and Seventies as he had roles on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Star Trek, Next Gen, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Outer LimitsThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Batman,  and The Six Million Dollar Man. He provided the voice of the Keeper in Trek’s first pilot episode “The Cage”. Throne was cast in another role in “The Menagerie”, Commodore José I. Méndez, so his voice was altered in his “Cage” role. (Died 2013.)
  • Born December 1, 1936 Melissa Jaffer, 83. Likely you best remember her as Utu Noranti Pralatong on Farscape though she was also in Mad Max: Fury Road where she played Keeper of the Seeds. And she was Annie in the Good Vibrations series.
  • Born December 1, 1942 John Crowley, 77. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his new crow-centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet?
  • Born December 1, 1954 Douglas Niles, 65. He was one of the creators of the Dragonlance world and the author of the first three Forgotten Realms novels. I’ve not played it as I was into Travellers’ Aid Society when I was gaming. So how was it as a game system? 
  • Born December 1, 1964 Jo Walton, 55. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other.   Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth.  Among Others she says is about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. 
  • Born December 1, 1956 Bill Willingham, 63. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not having been a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals,  and he later wrote the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC.
  • Born December 1, 1971 Emily Mortimer, 48. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther


  • Dilbert does a nice take on the Robot Apocalypse.
  • Non Sequitur presents the writer’s version of the infamous tombstone.
  • Tom Gauld charts this year’s reading experiences.

(10) PROBES ON THE WAY. Mars is on the menu in 1964 as Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus serves up the news: “[December 1, 1964] Planet Four or Bust! (What we know about Mars)”.

…This week, humanity embarked on its most ambitious voyage to date.  Its destination: Mars.

I use the term “humanity” advisedly, for this effort is a global one.  On November 28, 1964, the United States launched Mariner 4 from Cape Kennedy.  And just yesterday, the Soviet Union’s Zond hurtled into space.  Both are bound for the Red Planet, due to arrive next summer. 

He gives a great overview of the Mars portrayed in sf and popular science – all of which is about to go by the boards.

….Such was our understanding of the planet perhaps a decade ago.  Recently, ground-based science has made some amazing discoveries, and it may well be that Mariner and Zond don’t so much revolutionize as simply enhance our understanding of the planet.

I just read a paper that says the Martian atmosphere is about a quarter as dense at the surface that thought.  This isn’t just bad for breathing — it means NASA scientists have to rethink all the gliders and parachutes they were planning for their Voyager missions scheduled for the next decade.  Observations by spectroscope have found no traces of oxygen and scarcely more water vapor.  The planet’s thin atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.  The ice in the polar caps may well be mostly “dry”.

(11) DEADLY CUTENESS. “Baby Yoda Duels Palpatine in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Fan-Edit”ScreenRant sets the scene:

Baby Yoda fights Emperor Palpatine in a brilliant new Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith fan edit. After months of anticipation, The Mandalorian finally hit Disney+ earlier this month, and fans everywhere immediately fell in love with the show’s breakout character, a tiny alien child unofficially christened “Baby Yoda” who made a surprise first appearance in the kickoff episode (a “twist” that was immediately spoiled by Twitter).

(12) THE MAGIC IS BACK. “In ‘Children Of Virtue And Vengeance,’ Magic Has Returned. Now What?” – NPR interviews Tomi Adeyemi.

Children of Blood and Bone was an instant success last year.

The young adult fantasy novel by then-24-year-old author Tomi Adeyemi has so far spent 89 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. It made countless best books lists, and it was optioned for a movie by Disney. It spoke to people.

“I always pitched it as Black Panther with magic,” Adeyemi says. “It’s this epic young adult fantasy about a girl fighting to bring magic back to her people.”

And now there’s a sequel: Children of Virtue and Vengeance. The heroine, Zélie, has succeeded in her quest to bring magic back to her people, the maji, and the land of Orïsha. But the nobility and the military now have powerful magic, too. And civil war looms.

For Zélie and her ally Amari — a runaway princess who has joined the rebellion, so to speak — the question becomes: Now what? And how will their personal traumas play out?

(13) ANTICIPATORY MUG SHOTS. BBC reports “China due to introduce face scans for mobile users”

People in China are now required to have their faces scanned when registering new mobile phone services, as the authorities seek to verify the identities of the country’s hundreds of millions of internet users.

The regulation, announced in September, was due to come into effect on Sunday.

The government says it wants to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”.

China already uses facial recognition technology to survey its population.

It is a world leader in such technologies, but their intensifying use across the country in recent years has sparked debate.

What are the new rules?

When signing up for new mobile or mobile data contracts, people are already required to show their national identification card (as required in many countries) and have their photos taken.

But now, they will also have their faces scanned in order to verify that they are a genuine match for the ID provided.

China has for years been trying to enforce rules to ensure that everyone using the internet does so under their “real-name” identities.

(14) DARWIN WINNER? “Booby traps: Man in Maine killed by own device”.

A 65-year-old American man who rigged his home with a booby trap to keep out intruders has been killed by the device.

Ronald Cyr called police in the town of Van Buren in the state of Maine to say he had been shot.

Police found a door had been designed to fire a handgun should anyone attempt to enter. Mr Cyr was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.

It is not uncommon for home-owners to install such traps – but it is illegal.

Police in Van Buren, which borders the Canadian province of New Brunswick, said they responded to a 911 call in the early evening of Thanksgiving, last Thursday, from a man who said he had been shot.

“Following an extensive investigation that lasted into the early morning… it was determined that Mr Cyr had been shot as the result of the unintentional discharge of one of his homemade devices,” the police department said in a Facebook post.

(15) E.T. BUY PHONE. CNN backgrounds a nostalgic commercial: “Phone home! E.T. reunites with Elliott and viewers in a Thanksgiving TV ad”.

If you suddenly burst into tears during a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commercial break, your younger family members might’ve been startled. But they probably never dreamed of taking flight on a bike with an alien in the basket.

E.T. — yes, THAT E.T.! — made a surprise appearance in commercial for telecommunications company Xfinity. Only this time, he landed on Earth on purpose, and he’s learning about tablets and playing in the snow.

[Thanks to Rich Horton, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

32 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/1/19 That Is How Pixels Scroll When They Are Excited

  1. I thought E.T. was horribly manipulative (and the projector at the theater where I saw it ~agreed, burning a hole in the film in the middle of one of the sappiest scenes) — so I’m not surprised it was used as the base for a commercial. I suppose it would be a boring world if our tastes were all the same….

  2. Martin: Yes, that is Henry Thomas.

    Chip: Would you have preferred Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and his Dog?” 🙂

  3. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Shadows series that he spun off of Fables.

    That’s JACK OF FABLES. Co-written by Lilah Sturges (then as Matthew Sturges).

    JACK OF SHADOWS is Zelazny.

    His House of Mystery was rather good as well.

    That was Lilah Sturges’ (again, then as Matthew Sturges) HOUSE OF MYSTERY.

    Bill wrote a few backup stories early on, to help launch the book, but Lilah was the core writer.

  4. Chip Hitchcock: I thought E.T. was horribly manipulative….

    I don’t think I can deny that, much as I enjoyed the movie. I’ve had bantering discussions with various fans who more-or-less liked the movie, and when they scoffed at one of the more manipulative scenes I’d turn it back on them and ask, “Would you really rather see E.T. die?” Better science, but worse fiction!

  5. I was a teenager when I read it so I don’t know if my judgement would hold up, but I remember William Kotzwinkle’s novelisation of E.T. did a pretty decent job of being less saccharine and manipulative without changing the story. A bit more focus on the character’s interior states and some writing from E.T.’s perspective to make them less child-like made a big difference.

  6. @Chip Hitchcock & OGH, I remember walking out of E.T. absolutely FURIOUS. I was angry at the transparent emotional manipulation. (Yes, I cried when everyone else did.) The thing is, I recognize that emotional manipulation is kind of what you sign up for when you go to a movie… but this was so BLATANT that it felt… I dunno. Disrespectful. Condescending. It’s hard to put into words. But I’ve never seen E.T. again, nor do I ever intend to.

  7. 8) I think you’re off on Bill Willingham’s birthday by ten years. I went to college with him in 1975.

  8. In the unlikely event that anyone doesn’t have an eBook copy of Lord of the Rings, but wants one, the single-volume edition is currently $2.99 on Kindle.

  9. I think you’re off on Bill Willingham’s birthday by ten years. I went to college with him in 1975.

    Depends. Do you remember him as being very short with quite a high voice?

  10. I’m still a bear of a little more brain than usual, so, Amazon UK ebook sales located since yesterday’s Scroll:

    Semiosis, by Sue Burke
    Nominated for the Clarke. The plants of Pax are smart – smart enough to domesticate, and even slaughter, its many extraordinary creatures.

    Asylum, by Madeleine Roux
    For sixteen-year-old outcast Dan Crawford, the summer program at New Hampshire College Prep is a lifeline. Even if that means staying in a dorm that used to be an old asylum.

    A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett
    Tiffany Aching expects spells and magic – not chores and ill-tempered goats! Surely there must be more to witchcraft than this?

    Much of Maria V Snyder’s Chronicles of Ixia series is on offer, as well as the first in her The Healer series, Touch of Power.

    The Rage of Dragons: The Burning, Book One, by Evan Winter
    The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for generations.

    Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, by David Gemmell
    Three lives will change the destiny of nations.

    The Assistant, by S. K. Tremayne
    What would you do if your home assistant turned evil?

    I’ve also been told that our own Charon Dunn’s One Sunny Night and Retrograde Horizon are or will be on offer today.

    As always, if anyone can help out their fellow Filers with a rec or opinion on any of these, I’d be most grateful!

  11. @Meredith —

    I’ve only read one of the listed books this time —

    Semiosis, by Sue Burke

    I very much enjoyed this. And I’ve got book 2 on my “sooner than later” TBR. IMHO the sentient plant is too human, but there’s still plenty of interesting stuff, including making you think about who is really in charge in all sorts of relationships. This is really a series of connected novellas more than a novel, but it all hangs together very well.

    The Rage of Dragons: The Burning, Book One, by Evan Winter

    Haven’t read this one, but I want to. Dragons!

    Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, by David Gemmell

    Also haven’t read this one, but I hear that I should.

  12. Joyce Reynolds-Ward says I think you’re off on Bill Willingham’s birthday by ten years. I went to college with him in 1975.

    Could well. I usually check the Birthday numbers thrice but this way I repeat from last year and I assume it was correct the. OGH, Could you you correct it 1956 please?

  13. @jkt: why should I prefer A Boy and His Dog? Or anything? A critic doesn’t have to offer an alternative — and if I did, it would be a straightforward commercial of legitimate length, instead of this sprawl.

    @OGH: I’m not that vengeful; I figure it would have been a “heartwarming” movie in any case, but they didn’t have to have (e.g.) the scene where Mom is looking over dear departed Dad’s clothing — that’s the one the projector barfed on.

    @Cassy B: yep, that’s about the size of it.

    @Meredith: I loved all the Tiffany Aching books. The only problem with A Hat Full of Sky is that it’s #2 in a moderately discrete series; I read them as they came out, so I can’t say whether starting with this one would be jolt. OTOH, it’s a good thing to stick on the TBR pile. (I’ve got one Pratchett saved for when I’m having an absolutely horrible week, because I know that will be the last one I can ever read for the first time. I just hope I don’t wind up in an inversion of “That Hell-Bound Train”…)

  14. @Chip Hitchcock: The commercial that I’ve been seeing (somewhat ad nauseum) during hockey games has been a short (~30s) clip from the commercial, followed by a suggestion to watch the whole thing on Xfinity’s site. The first time I saw it I was expecting it to be a promo for a new E.T. series on one of the streaming services.

  15. Apropos of nothing: When I was young there was that rumor in Germany that E.T. Was banned in Sweden.
    The commercial reminded me and apparently it was restricted for under 11 year olds. Now I know!

  16. Happy birthday to two of my favorites: John Crowley and Jo Walton! I remember taking Little, Big on a transatlantic flight to get uninterrupted time to read it. As I was getting to the ending, tears streaming down my face, a flight attendant asked me if I was all right. “I’m fine,” I sobbed, waving the book at her. “It’s just so beautiful!”

  17. Reading “Semiosis” now, and liking it quite a bit. I bought it after chatting with Sue Burke at Windycon last month. Charming person. (She was nice enough to compliment the story I wrote that won the ISFiC writing contest and was printed in the convention program.)

  18. (8) Rex Stout’s Under the Incas should read Under the Andes. I looked but couldn’t find a variant title using “Incas.”

  19. @Meredith

    Much of Maria V Snyder’s Chronicles of Ixia series is on offer, as well as the first in her The Healer series, Touch of Power.

    I’ve read the “Study” (Poison Study, Fire Study, etc…) and Glass (Sea Glass, Storm Glass, etc…) subseries of the Chronicles of Ixia and enjoyed them quite a bit. They’re not romances, but do have romantic elements, so if that bothers you (general you), they may not be the books for you.

  20. Minor correction: Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy is post-WWII, both in our timeline and its.

    @Peer: E.T. was banned for under 11? That seems like it would eliminate a huge chunk of the target audience!

    As for it being blatantly manipulative, @Chip and others, I mean, yeah, that’s sort of what I expect from movies aimed at kids. Subtlety does not seem to be a winning formula in that market. And at least they didn’t start by shooting E.T.’s mom! 🙂

  21. @Xtifr: I think in the first two Small Change novels, Germany and the Soviets are still slugging it out on the Eastern Front, so the war is ongoing even if the UK and US aren’t involved.

  22. I don’t mind a bit of deliberate tear jerking so long as it doesn’t feel that the creator is being mean about it. Since I’ve never seen E.T. (yeah, I know) I can’t express an opinion on the specifics, though! I’m sure I’d’ve liked it just fine as a kid.

    Thanks everyone for any and all book opinions! I consider them to be the best part of doing those roundups.

    @Cora Buhlert

    I more or less file the Ixia books under “comfort reads” (of the angst/adventure/magic variety) for myself but they would need some big flashing content notes for sexual violence if I were ever to write up a proper rec. It’s mostly offscreen, iirc, but there still manages to be a lot of it.


    I couldn’t tell if there were really any dragons in it from the summary, and I have been burned by metaphorical dragons before… (Still, it does sound pretty neat even if there are no dragons. But I reserve the right to be miffed about being promised dragons and not getting any.)

    @Chip Hitchcock

    Yeah, the ongoing series thing is why I generally don’t include series works where I don’t recognise them from discussions here and only book number(s) whatever are on sale and not the first one. I’m sure I sometimes don’t include stuff that someone would love to know is on sale as a result, but those roundup comments tend to be more than long enough as it is and I have to make up arbitrary rules to keep it at least vaguely reasonable somehow..! But if it’s something I know has been mentioned here or is a classic author/work I’ll include it in case people just haven’t picked up an ebook copy yet, or haven’t got around to that one, or whatever. Pratchett certainly qualifies, but I’m grateful to you for adding extra context that this particular Pratchett might not be one to jump in on for a first read. Tracking them down and compressing the summaries uses up too much brain at the moment for me to add much personal opinion even for stuff I’ve read.

  23. wrt the Small Change setting: I’m not sure the Germans still slugging it out with the Russians (in the first book) can be considered a continuation of WWII, since IIRC everything else has been settled. (And if that part of the struggle is the criterion it fails, because Russia does; I remember asking before the 2nd book came out how Russia could stand against an undistracted Germany and being told it didn’t.) (I forget whether what happened to Pearl Harbor is made clear; if not, an obvious handwaving is that Lindbergh was so obviously isolationist that Japan didn’t see the need to try shock-and-awe on the US.

    But I’m not sure it matters; is “The Downfall of Frenchy Steiner” or The Sound of His Horn WWII, or post-WWII, and exactly why? One could argue that WWII is merely in abeyance here; the rulers of the Reich are no better (in mind or body) than in our history, and it’s unclear the Reich will hold together as they fade. Or one could find a broader term; the Matter of Europe would be amusing considering Walton’s background….

  24. Kevin Harkness say correctly: Rex Stout’s Under the Incas should read Under the Andes. I looked but couldn’t find a variant title using “Incas.”

    You didn’t but my brain did.

  25. @ Cat Eldridge

    Brains are cool that way, expanding our universe right into some other universe.

  26. @xtfr
    Yes, apparently many Skandinavian countries felt the role of the parents in the movie were inappropriate for kids

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