Pixel Scroll 12/17/18 One Dream, One Soul, One File, One Scroll, One Pixeled Glance Of What Should Be

(1) NO ESCAPE CLAUS. John Scalzi reveals that when it comes to who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, litigation can play a role: “An Interview With Santa’s Lawyer”. There also are some surprising revelations about elvish labor law:

If elves don’t qualify as human under the law, what are they?

Under Canadian law, they’re technically animals.


Yes. Just like reindeer. And technically, under Canadian law, Santa’s Workshop qualifies as a federally inspected farm, the oversight of which is handled by Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

So, technically, Santa’s elves have as many rights as veal.

I’m offended at this comparison, and also, yes.

 (2) IT’S MORTAL. Deadline saw the B.O. numbers and administered last rites — “‘Mortal Engines’ Conks Out At The B.O. And Is Poised To Lose At Least $100M+: Here’sWhy”.

There is nothing more daunting right now in the current franchise-obsessed box office marketplace than launching an original piece of sci-fi/fantasy. This weekend, we’re seeing the Peter Jackson-produced,$110M+ Mortal Engines a casualty of its own ambition to create a brand new world on screen, with a disastrous opening of $7.5M and a running worldwide total of $42.3M.

(3) THE ACADEMY AWARDS. Variety shares some preliminary 2019 Oscar nominee sorting — “Oscars: Film Academy Narrows the List of Contenders in Nine Categories”. Below are the contenders of genre interest. (Click on the link for the complete list.) The official nominations for the 91st annual Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.


“Black Panther”



“Avengers: Infinity War”

 “Black Panther”

 “Fantastic Beasts: TheCrimes of Grindelwald”

“First Man”

 “Isle of Dogs”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

 “Ready Player One”


 “All The Stars” from“Black Panther”

 “The Place Where LostThings Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”

“Trip A Little Light Fantastic” from “Mary Poppins Returns”

 “A Place Called SlaughterRace” from “Ralph Breaks the Internet”


“Age of Sail”

“Animal Behaviour”



“Bird Karma”

“Late Afternoon”

“Lost & Found”

“One Small Step”

“Pépé le Morse”



“Ant-Man and the Wasp”

“Avengers: Infinity War”

“Black Panther”

“Christopher Robin”

“First Man”

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

“Mary Poppins Returns”

“Ready Player One”

“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

“Welcome to Marwen”

(4) LET THE YEAR’S BESTS BEGIN. Jonathan Strahan has announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume 13 and Jason has added links to the contents as the start of Featured FuturesCollated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2018 Stories, Links).

Welcome to the third annual linked collation of annuals or “year’s bests.” As the contents of the Afsharirad, BASFF,Clarke, Datlow, Guran, Horton, Shearman/Kelly, and Strahan science fiction, fantasy, and horror annuals are announced, they will be combined into one master list with links to the stories which are available online. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy some of them and that will help you decide which annual or annuals, if any, to purchase.

(5) HELLBOY ON THE WAY. IGN News has the scoop: “Hellboy: Check Out a Brand New Poster, Plus Trailer Debut Date – IGN Premiere”— 

Not only can you check out an exclusive new poster for the upcoming David Harbour-starring movie, but we can also confirm that — at long last! — the first trailer for Hellboy is coming this Thursday.

Additionally, IGN can confirm that Hellboy will be releasing in IMAX theatrically.

(6) PALEO ANKLEBITER. National Geographic, in “New species of incredible ‘living tank’ dinosaur unveiled”, assures readers, “Even fierce tyrannosaurs would have been afraid of Zuul, a club-tailed Cretaceous beast known as the ‘destroyer of shins.’”

On the second floor of Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, the skeleton of an older, ganglier cousin of Tyrannosaurusrex stands tall. But if the creature were alive today, it might be limping. More than 70 million years ago, this Gorgosauruswould have been an apex predator in what are now the badlands of Montana and western Canada. Apex doesn’t mean invincible, though. The animal’s right shin is a mess of broken bone that healed over in life.

What broke the poor tyrannosaur’s leg? Short of hopping in a time machine, researchers can’t be sure. But elsewhere in the same museum, visitors can get a glimpse of one of the best—and most exquisite—suspects in this Cretaceous cold case.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 17, 1945Ernie Hudson, 73. Best known for his roles as Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters films, and as Sergeant Darryl Albrecht in The Crow. I’m reasonably sure his first SF role was as Washington in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a few years before the first Ghostbusters film. Depending on how flexible your definition of genre is, he’s been in a fair number of films including Leviathan, Shark Attack, Hood of Horror, Dragonball Evolution, voice work in Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, and, look there’s a DC animated movie in his resume!, Lucius Fox in Batman: Bad Blood.
  • Born December 17, 1944 Jack L. Chalker. I really, really enjoyed his Well World series, and I remember reading quite a bit of his other fiction down the years. I find it impressive that he attended every Worldcon from except one, from 1965 until 2004. One of our truly great members of the SF community. (Died 2005.)
  • Born December 17, 1953 Bill Pullman, 64. First SF role was as Lone Starr in Space Balls, a film I’ll freely admit I watched but once which was more than enough. He next appears in The Serpent and the Rainbow which is damn weird before playing the lead in the even weirder Brain Dead. Now we come to Independence Day and I must say I love his character and the film a lot. Post-Independence Day, he went weird again showing up in Lake Placid which is a lot of fun and also voiced Captain Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. film. Which at least in part was written by Joss Whedon. He reprises his Thomas J. Whitmore character in  Independence Day: Resurgence
  • Born December 17, 1975 Milla Jovovich, 43. First genre appearence as Leeloo de Sabat in The Fifth Element, a film which still gets a WTF? from me when I watch it. She was also Alice in the Resident Evil franchise which is five films strong and running so far. I see she shows up as Miliday de Winter in a Three Musketeers I never heard of, and plays Nimue, The Blood Queen in the forthcoming Hellboy


  • Paging Col. Mustard. Col. Mustard please report immediately to Brewster Rockit aboard the R.U. Sirius.

(9) HOW TO TROLL FOR FUN AND PROFIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]Somehow,when the title of the upcoming Avengers movie was announced, the studio had neglected to buy the domain names AvengersEndgame.com and AvengersEndgameMovie.com.That’s when Twitter user @AGuyInChair sprang into action, snapping up those domains and redirecting them… to the website for Once Upon a Deadpool. That, in turn, spurred Deadpool himself—well, OK, Ryan Reynolds—into action to send a reward to @AGuyInChair. CinemaBlend has the story (“Ryan Reynolds Sent The Coolest Gift To The Guy Who Redirected Endgame Domains To Deadpool”). Reynolds swag for@AGuyInChair was cool, and all, but not what the latter wanted.

So what did @AGuyInChair want? Why, a pair of tickets to the Avengers: Endgame premiere naturally. Apparently not having scored those, the two sites have since been re-redirected to “a video of Santa Claus (possibly the user himself?)addressing ‘that naughty boy’ [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige to trade the websites for those two golden tickets to Avengers: Endgame.”

(10) BLACK METAL HONORS. Summoning, a Tolkien-inspired Austrian black metal duo, has been recognized in “Bandcamp’s Best Metal Albums of 2018” for their latest album With Doom We Come:

Apart from maybe the Bible (the Satan parts, anyway), no work of literature has inspired more metal bands than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Middle-Earth has been the setting for all of the Austrian black metal duo Summoning’s albums, and their synth-driven, often minimalist songs truly sound like they could be echoing from an Uruk-hai cave. With Doom We Come is another superb entry in the band’s rock-solid discography. Guitarist Protector’s lo-fi tone is still straight out of the ’90s Second Wave, and he and bandmate Silenius have never sounded better as vocal foils for one another. Closing track “With Doom I Come” repurposes a verse of Tolkien’s poem Beren and Lúthien to create what’s arguably the catchiest vocal hook in Summoning’s career.

(11) THERE AND BACK AGAIN. This SJW Credential wasn’t named Bilbo, not quite, but Baloo did go There and Back Again. The Huffington Post has the story: “Cat Mistakenly Shipped More Than 700 Miles From Home After Sneaking Into Box.”

A curious cat named Baloo was mistakenly shipped more than 700 miles away from his home in Nova Scotia, Canada after crawling into a parcel destined for Alberta.

The tabby’s owner, Jacqueline Lake, told CTV News that the mischievous,1-year-old cat had secretly sneaked into the bottom of a package containing tire rims. The day after the parcel had been sent, Lake began searching for the missing family pet. 

“We knocked door-to-door, we searched the woods, we searched under decks, in garages, under steps … he was gone,” she said. 

Baloo was later discovered by a delivery driver in Montreal, 17-hours into his cross-country road trip. 

A local SPCA shelter managed to track down the feline stowaway’s owners using the parcel’s tracking code. 

Baloo returned to his family, safe and sound, on Saturday evening.

(12) MORE ABOUT CHRISTMAS DRAGONS. Diana Rowland’s “controversial” dragon lawn decorations reported in Sunday’s Pixel Scroll have attracted national attention (Vice: “These Dragon Christmas Decorations Are Tearing a Neighborhood Apart”).

A Louisiana woman’s unusual Christmas decorations have inadvertently ignited a beef on her street—because they’ve apparently got her boring-ass neighbors worried that she’s a member of a “demonic cult.”

Author Diana Rowland just wanted to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season by, naturally, setting up a bunch of inflatable dragons on her front yard. Of course, dragons are an appropriate and welcome addition to a lawn at any time of the year, bringing a nice Khaleesi vibe to an otherwise routine patch of grass—but one neighbor wasn’t having it. 

[…] “Your dragon display is only marginally acceptable at Halloween,” the note reads. “It is totally inappropriate at Christmas. It makes your neighbors wonder if you are involved in a demonic cult.”

[…] Thankfully, Rowland apparently did consider the true meaning of Christmas, and came to the conclusion that it meant “add more dragons to your lawn and give them halos for good measure,” because that’s exactly what she did

(13) LATE LOGGING IN. Just in time for Christmas Mike Kennedy discovered this… From 2016, but it’s news to me!

Do you need a Yule Log video to help lift everyone’s spirit when gathered for the family Christmas? Maybe this isn’t it. WarnerBros. Home Entertainment had helpfully(?) provided a 5-hour video of the “Eye of Sauron Yule Log” on YouTube, complete with the crackling noise one would expect from a nice(?) fire. There’s even a surprise(?) ending.

(14) PIXEL SCROLL ROCK. Camestros Felapton shared this instant classic in comments:

Pixel scroll, pixel scroll, pixel scroll rock
Pixel scrolls swing and pixel scrolls ring
Scrolling and linking up bushels of fan
Then the pixel hop had began

Pixel scroll, pixel scroll, pixel scroll rock
Pixel scrolls rhyme in pixel scroll time
Cosplaying and straying in pixel scroll land
To the sounds of the pixel scroll band

What a bright time, it’s the right time
To web surf the night away
Pixel scroll time is a swell time
To get caught up in a fandom array
Giddy-up pixel horse, pick up your feet
Scroll around the clock
Mix and a-mingle in the pixeling feet
That’s the pixel scroll,
That’s the pixel scroll,
That’s the pixel scroll, rock

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

38 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/17/18 One Dream, One Soul, One File, One Scroll, One Pixeled Glance Of What Should Be

  1. (7) Jack was incredibly welcoming when a friend and I stopped by the BSFS clubhouse back in (gosh) 1998.

  2. Is it true that Chalker wrote The Identity Matrix as a book to push all of (IIRC) Betty Ballantine’s buttons so he could get out of a contract that basically gave Ballantine first crack at everything he wrote until they rejected one?

  3. Clickity.

    Think car for Lis. Think financing approval.

    Do not think, say, type, smoke signal, or in any way transmit ideas suggesting that this is in any way a done deal tmuntil it’s a done deal.

  4. 7) The only Chalker I know I’ve read is The Web of the Chozen, which was … unexpected. I remember seeing other paperbacks of his on the library spinner; and these days I frequently see the hex grid Well of Souls map tweeted by that fantasy maps Twitter account.

  5. (7) Chalker was one of my first favorite science fiction writers, and I’m bummed that I’ll never get to meet him. He did a standalone albeit episodic novel called And The Devil Will Drag You Under that I really liked, in which the hero has to jump into various bodies living on various planets to steal artifacts for an alcoholic devil.

  6. There should also be birthday wishes for that most SFnal of retro technologies, manned flight, born 17 Dec 1903. Pushed by two world wars, it arguably advanced more rapidly than any technology until the semiconductor.

  7. ||: Pixel scroll, pixel scroll,
    pixel all the way.
    Oh what fun it is to file,
    in a fifth-place comment sleigh :||

    Meh, not entirely happy with it, but it is the season, so it’ll have to do. Probably OK for a few-minute effort, though.

  8. 12 “Tearing a neighborhood apart” is awfully clickbait dramatic, isn’t it?

    7) I wish I had had the chance to meet Jack Chalker, too. Alas.

    7) I had forgotten The Serpent and the Rainbow had Pullman in it. And oh yeah, that was a crazypants movie.

    Just one pixel of scrolls is better than a lifetime alone.

  9. (1) Labour law and agricultural law in Canada are provincial responsibilities.

    But interestingly, in some jurisdictions, those laws have some severe and weird omissions. For example, here in Alberta agricultural workers had absolutely no labour rights until 2016 because they were omitted from the legislation. In many ways, they had *fewer* protections than livestock.

    In fact, prior to 2016, if Santa had wanted to really exploit workers, he’d have set up shop in Northern Alberta …

  10. 10) With Doom We Come is on my end-of-year list for sure. Really good & dynamic album, and as the reviewer says, not just bog-standard black metal that happens to have some lyrics about orcs and shit. They’re very committed to the Tolkienesque aesthetic.

  11. Peter Jackson ought to move away from world creation and do something small. Otherwise, he just might go the way of WATERWORLD’s Kevin Costner (or Kevin Costmore).

  12. It’s been 25 years at least since I read any Chalker but the way I remember it is they were full of a lot of weird sex stuff and not in a good way. (Also the villains at the end of Flux&Anchor were the ‘Samish’ which to a northwest Washington kid seemed particularly strange : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samish )

  13. GiantPanda on December 18, 2018 at 9:32 am said:
    More murderbot! (Very short)
    “I can always kill the humans after the next series ends.”

    Eight science fiction authors imagine the future of work in Wired magazine, yet not a single one of them mentions the word “union,” or any mechanism for protecting the rights of workers. It’s disappointing.

  14. @1: very cute.

    @2: maybe they should have spent $112+M and gotten a decent script? Or maybe the idea just wasn’t good enough….

    @7: Pullman also has a major role in the movie Casper [the Friendly Ghost] — leans on his oh-shucks persona, but it works.

    @7 ct’d: I remember Chalker talking about his first novel at a Pghlange; I’d have had even more trouble figuring it out without his comments. Bits of his later work were fun (cf Devil as @Charon D notes), but a lot sounded too … mechanical? … for my taste. I met him several times, but too briefly to speak to his personality.

    @12: It makes your neighbors wonder if you are involved in a demonic cult. And it makes your neighbors wonder if you have a hole in your head. Demonic cults? Really? In this day and age? These days we don’t call them cults, or demonic; they’re the worshipers of the great Chee-To. And as for tearing the neighborhood apart: would it have happened if this twit had kept their trap shut?

    @Olav Rokne:

    Eight science fiction authors imagine the future of work in Wired magazine, yet not a single one of them mentions the word “union,” or any mechanism for protecting the rights of workers. It’s disappointing.

    Were they dreaming, or projecting? Given current efforts in various countries and businesses, a lack of unions might merely be grim realism.

  15. Chip Hitchcock on December 18, 2018 at 10:26 am said:
    Were they dreaming, or projecting? Given current efforts in various countries and businesses, a lack of unions might merely be grim realism.

    Honestly, it read to me like most of the authors didn’t actually ask questions surrounding the rights of workers, or how those rights might be promoted or exerted.

    The paucity of realistic representations of unions in SF has political implications: it reinforces the suggestion that there is an absence of alternatives to neoliberal capitalism.

    (I’ve actually been researching the subject of labour unions in science fiction lately, so this is really my main axe to grind right now. Working with several people to write a series of blog posts on the subject.)

  16. Cora Buhlert on December 18, 2018 at 11:26 am said:
    @Olav Rokne
    Have you read Windswept and Like a Boss by Adam Rakunas? SF with unions and a labor organiser protagonist.

    😀 Yes! It’s actually an excellent example. After the “Working Class In Science Fiction” panel at Worldcon 76, someone from the audience mentioned it to me. So I read Windswept in September.

    Windswept is referenced in the second of the blog posts, as well as in the list of depictions of unions. (The first post, which I hope to post later today, is mostly focused on the years from 1940-1990.)

  17. I would chalk the lack of unions up to the same impulse that gives us monarchies in space.

  18. I always thought Chalker was fun, but after a while, I started to notice that most of his stuff seemed to be based on two very similar (albeit interesting) premises: putting minds in new bodies, or modifying minds.

    Both of them raise fascinating questions about the nature of the self. Which definitely lead to some interesting stories. But after a while, they began to feel a bit too all-the-same to me, and my interest started to wane. Still, I definitely enjoyed it until I reached that saturation level.

  19. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few SF stories about labor issues and unions. Most of them don’t turn out well for the workers. There’s Asimov’s Strikebreaker (in which a visitor to a space habitat temporarily replaces a native worker who had been on strike for decent training) and Heinlein’s Roads Must Roll (a union of road workers is being converted into a quasi-military organization in which the workers are the equivalent of enlisted personnel). In John Shirley’s “A Song Called Youth” the technical workers on space habitats are basically serfs (and in M. K. Wren’s future history “The Phoenix Legacy” 90% of the future population are slaves, and the revolutionary organization is moving very slowly to fix that (their approach is to make sure that the aristocracy enslaving people are the _good_ aristos and to discourage worker rebellion at all costs). I’m probably forgetting a lot of examples, but those are the ones that occur at first thought.

  20. @Olav: One SF reference to labor unions that always stuck out in my mind: Larry Niven (!) makes a quick reference to union membership in a short story. I’d have to check my copy, but I think it was in “A Relic of the Empire,” published back in 1966.

    The viewpoint character is a former aristocrat whose family lost everything, so that he had to learn to live poor for a long time – and among the things he learned was that unions and union membership were a necessity for survival.

    I’ve always wondered where that strong statement came from. Not that I necessarily disagree, it’s just that it stood out in that context and from that author.

  21. Jon F. Zeigler on December 18, 2018 at 3:22 pm said:
    @Olav: One SF reference to labor unions that always stuck out in my mind: Larry Niven (!) makes a quick reference to union membership in a short story. I’d have to check my copy, but I think it was in “A Relic of the Empire,” published back in 1966.

    Oh wow. That one I wasn’t aware of. May need to make an edit to the draft article that I’ve been working on for the past month.

    Thank you for the heads-up on that!

    Andrew on December 18, 2018 at 3:19 pm said:
    There’s Asimov’s Strikebreaker …

    Yes. Asimov brings up labour unions quite often, and always in a negative light. This is the most disappointing thing I’ve noted so far.

  22. @Jon F. Zeigler:

    Niven’s early work including “A Relic of Empire” was edited by Pohl, who might have influenced Niven’s thinking on the subject.

  23. Aha. Now I’m home and can get to my digital copy of Neutron Star. Yep, it was in “A Relic of the Empire” . . .

    You have to learn not to buy luxuries before you’ve bought necessities. You can starve learning which is which. Necessities are food and a place to sleep, shoes and pants. Luxuries are tobacco, restaurants, fine shirts, throwing away a ruined meal while you’re learning to cook, quitting a job you don’t like. A union is a necessity.

    Now that I’m looking at the story, it does have quite a bit of commentary on social class and poverty, in the middle of a neat tale of adventure. Interesting.

  24. Hampus Eckerman on December 18, 2018 at 7:43 pm said:
    Cory Doctorow’s “For The Win” is all about unions and labour rights.

    Doctorow was on the “The Working Class in Science Fiction” panel at Worldcon 76, and spoke about that novel.

  25. There’s more to union membership in Heinlein than “The Roads Must Roll”. Unionism is taken for granted in much of the early Future History. Consider how a shop steward keeps Brooks McNye on the space station, or how Fatso Konski points out to the beancounter what his proper pay should be, with the full expectation of getting it.

    There’s an interesting contrast between that and the appearances of unions and guilds in “Let There Be Light”, “Magic, Inc.”, and Starman Jones. In the first, a union is prodded to cause trouble for the protagonist; in the latter two, unions are more guild-like and seen as having both good and bad aspects.

    I’m tempted to leave it there, but I can’t resist mentioning the use of unions in I Will Fear No Evil. Mostly they’re background touches. But the one I love best is the Private Police, Guards, and Security Drivers (AFL): CONS BEST COPS SEZ FUZZ PREZ. There is a world of truth buried in that headline.

  26. @GiantPanda: “More murderbot! (Very short)”

    Over three weeks late and I’m here to say thanks for the link! It was good to read a little Murderbot vignette. 🙂

    This sort of thing is one of the many reasons why I keep up, not just with File 770 and especially Pixel Scrolls, but with Pixel Scroll comments! (Yes, I’m still catching up on a month of File 770!) [ETA: And I was behind before I even went on vacation in December.]

Comments are closed.