Pixel Scroll 12/19/17 Good King Pixel Scroll Looked Out On The Feast of File

(1) VISUAL SCIENCE. Nature brings us “2017 in pictures: The best science images of the year”.

The spectacular total solar eclipse that swept the United States dominated headlines as it delighted scientists and the public alike in August 2017 (the composite image above shows the event’s progression as seen from Perryville, Missouri). The year also brought innovations in spaceflight and surprising insights into species past. Here are the striking shots from science and the natural world that caught the eyes of Nature’s editors.

Here’s one —

BACK-SEAT OCTOPUS: This interspecies piggyback ride was caught by photographer Michael Hardie in the waters off Hawaii. The image was a finalist in the annual Smithsonian.com photo contest.

(2) SCIENCE HEADINLINES. Nature also posted this roundup — “2017 in news: The science events that shaped the year”.

From political chaos to cases of sexual harassment, scientists have had a tough year. But there were also bright spots, including approval of a new type of cancer treatment and the detection of gravitational waves from a neutron-star collision….

On 12 July, an iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg broke free from the Antarctic Peninsula. It carried away roughly 12% of the surface area of Larsen C — Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf. The shelf’s fate remains unclear but, if it collapsed, Larsen C could unleash glaciers containing enough water to boost global sea levels by a centimetre.

(3) VISIT FROM THE GRINCH. Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link’s Small Beer Press, which has published work by such authors as Ursula K. Le Guin and Sofia Samatar, and Sarah Rees Brennan, received its “Worst Business Holiday Present Ever”.

Our distributor Consortium/Ingram just finished negotiations with Am*zon for the next year and forwarded the results. Ouch. After the distro’s fee, we will now receive less than 1/3 of the retail price on each book sold on Am*zon. (The details are confidential and not be shared — which is fine, it’s all fine.)

It is hard to pay printing, royalties, artists, advertising and marketing, rent, etc. with less than 1/3 of retail.

I know not everyone has a good local bookstore, a local branch of a chain, or a decent library, but if you have, *please* consider buying/borrowing books there. Am*zon still want to crush all competition (Bezos’s first name for the business was Relentless dot com) in all markets that they enter. They are fantastic at customer service, especially compared to some local businesses, but they are terrible for everyone else, suppliers, intermediaries, etc.

The discount creeps up a little more every year — something has to give. I suppose it won’t be Am*zon. Guess it will be us Small Gazelle Presses who want to publish interesting books, work with a wide range of people and artists, and see if we can send these weird things out into the world and find readers.

(4) EAVESDROPPING. Luckily they loved her part — “Kelly Marie Tran surprises fans discussing ‘Star Wars’ at the next table”.

At long last, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has hit theaters, and those of us who were hyped for our girl Kelly Marie Tran as Rose finally got to see her get her Resistance on and join the fight in a galaxy far, far away.

So what’s the verdict on The Last Jedi? What are people saying? Sure, you can go read some critics’ reviews, log on to some message boards or jump in on a discussion thread on your Facebook wall. Or you can listen in on people talking about it at the next table. That’s what Kelly Marie Tran did.


(5) PRESCRPTION. Jason Sanford considers “Why the red pill doesn’t wake people to our world’s true reality”.

“If you are not one of us, you are one of them.” That’s a hell of a political statement. That’s the type of statement embraced by history’s worst political movements, movements which have killed millions in pursuits of their goals.

The Matrix is a great SF film, one of the best of the last few decades. But as political theory the film is extremely simplistic. After all, there’s a word for people who go through life with such an extreme “us or them” attitude: psychopaths.

While simplistic “us or them” arguments resonate with many people, our greatest achievements come when we put this attitude aside. When we stand with those we have disagreements with but with whom we can still find common ground.

And it’s this human determination to reach for common ground which makes me stay optimistic about the future. Because I believe in people. I believe most people try to do good and try build a better world….

(6) THE AXE. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ Canceled at BBC America”.

Never a ratings breakout, viewership was down year-over-year compared with season one. Season two averaged slightly less than 250,000 total viewers. The decision to cancel Dirk comes after BBC America bid farewell to critical darling Orphan Black in August.

(7) TV HOPES. Guy Gavriel Kay reports his The Fionavar Tapestry will get a shot at television:

Short version: I’ve entered a development agreement with the really impressive production company that did “Orphan Black” – to produce The Fionavar Tapestry as a television series.

There are many stages to any project as big as this one will be, but I’m genuinely happy – these are really good people, several of them with a personal passion for the trilogy (including Kris Holden-Ried, who was all-in some time ago, as it worked its way through the ‘process’).

He posted a full press release which includes this description of the work:

The Tapestry tells the tale of five young men and women who are brought to Fionavar – the first of all worlds. Told they are simply to be guests for the 50th anniversary celebration of a king’s ascension to the throne, each of the five discovers they have a greater, dangerous role to play as they’re thrust into a war between the forces of good and evil, whose outcome will affect all worlds, including our own.

Kay draws upon a variety of creatures and mythologies, predominantly Celtic and Norse, to create the world of Fionavar, and the saga also features the legendary story of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere, heroes of medieval literature.

(8) CEBULSKI STORY GOES MAINSTREAM. Marvel Comics editor C. B. Cebulski’s previous life as a Japanese comics writer, mentioned in recent Scrolls is a story that now has been picked up by the Washington Post: “The curious tale of the Marvel comics editor who pretended to be a Japanese writer”.

Although it was long-rumored in the comic book world that Yoshida was, indeed, Cebulski, no one investigated deeply. Since he retired the pseudonym fairly quickly, the rumors might have died.

But in November, Cebulski was named the editor in chief of Marvel Comics, arguably the most prominent job in his industry, and the rumors resurfaced. Since the comic book industry is often criticized for its lack of creators of color, the fact that its new figurehead was a white man who had pretended to be an Asian writer drew outcry.


  • December 19, 1871  — Mark Twain received a patent for suspenders. (We’ll file this under “Things writers do when they should be writing.”)
  • December 19, 1958 — The first known radio broadcast from outer space was transmitted when President Eisenhower’s recorded voice issued a holiday greeting for the whole world from the Atlas satellite which was launched the previous day.
  • December 19, 1972 — Apollo lunar-landing program ends when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splash down.
  • December 19, 1986 Little Shop of Horrors, the movie, was seen for the first time.


  • John King Tarpinian learned that Yoda has day job – from today’s Brevity.

(11) GOLDEN AGE COMIC STRIPS. Garry Trudeau reviews Cullen Murphy’s My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe in the New York Times Book Review:

With harlots in fish-net stockings hanging on each arm, a self-satisfied grandee, shades and ascot in place, struts down a city sidewalk. A policeman clears the way, and as he kicks a blind beggar into traffic, he bellows, “Out of the way, you swine! A cartoonist is coming!”

To the few hundred American oddballs who draw funny pictures for a living, there’s never been a more hilariously inapt portrait of a cartoon professional than the one described above, inked by the great B. Kliban late in his career. Many of us have a copy pinned to our walls, not to keep us humble (we have no choice), but to celebrate our forced distance from the more conventional metrics of success. As Cullen Murphy admits in his warm and graceful memoir, “Cartoon County,” comics creators have long been among the most dimly perceived of celebrities, and when they venture out into society, they are usually sized up as dentists or insurance adjusters long before the awful truth comes tumbling out.

(12) TOP MOVIES. Three critics caucus to produce “NPR’s Favorite Movies Of 2017”. Genre callouts: Blade Runner 2049, Coco, Get Out, The LEGO Batman Movie, Logan, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Your Name. Also of interest: Ex Libris (Wiseman documentary about the NYC public library).

(13) STRAIGHT TO FANS. Blockchaining as a way to connect artists directly to fans: “How did music producer Gramatik raise $2m in 24 hours?”

Gramatik – real name Denis Jasarevic – is a Slovenian electronic music producer and DJ with a worldwide fan base.

He’s become the first music artist to “tokenise” himself using the Ethereum application, Tokit. It allows users to embed their intellectual property rights, revenue and royalties into a programmable digital token.

Fans and investors who “buy” the token using the Ether cryptocurrency can then – potentially – share in the revenue from an artist’s work.

… When his GRMTK token was launched in November it raised $2.25m (£1.65m) in Ether digital currency in just 24 hours.

“I’m cool with being the guinea pig,” Gramatik explains. “This tech has the potential to change the industry.”

(14) HIDDEN TREASURE. Not just a cigar: “Interstellar object may hold ‘alien’ water”

The body showed no signs of “outgassing” as it approached the Sun, strengthening the idea that it held little if any water-ice.

But the latest findings suggest water might be trapped under a thick, carbon-rich coating on its surface.

(15) MAKING BOOK. Congratulations to John Scalzi for winning DecNoWriMo –

(16) HAVE YOU NO DECENCY? Andrew Husband, in “Porg Recipes For The ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Fans In Your Life” on Uproxx, says that porgs are not only cuddly, they’re also tasty as he shares recipes for Porg in Green Milk Sauce and Fire-Roasted Porg.

Yes, you read that right. Despite being protected by several national and international conservation organizations, puffins are considered a rare delicacy in Nordic countries. And seeing as how The Last Jedi‘s porgs are based on the puffins writer/director Rian Johnson saw while filming at Skellig, it makes sense their preparation would be similar. Like “Porg in Green Milk Sauce” (as opposed to blue milk), a slight variation on an Icelandic dish in which the arctic birds are cooked with a buttery sauce rich in creamy dairy and some sweet additions.

(17) OMG! The horror! Atlas Obscura investigates “Why Chuck E. Cheese’s Has a Corporate Policy About Destroying Its Mascot’s Head”.

Several weeks ago, a local Patch report in Illinois revealed a seemingly disturbing underpinning of the Chuck E. Cheese universe: A former employee told the paper that a company policy required them to demolish branded items, among them the cartoon character’s head, which is part of the costume. A Patch video captured two former employees of the recently-shuttered Oak Lawn location bashing Chuck’s brains in with a sledgehammer.

Why did executives at CEC Entertainment, Inc. establish a policy mandating the destruction of their business’s beloved namesake?

(18) JEDI. Love the title: “Rian Johnson Murders the Prequels – A Spoiler Soaked Review of the Last Jedi” by Camestros Felapton. It’s a spoiler post, but here’s a non-spoilery excerpt:

Luke does not bring balance to the force (yet). By implication Anakin did not bring balance to the force. Kylo Ren can barely bring balance to his emotional state for hour-long stretches. Maybe Rey will but who knows? Putting the prequels and the original trilogy together, it was always unclear how Anakin, even by killing the Emperor, brings balance to the force. If he did somehow do it, it clearly wasn’t worth the price of firstly a galactic war and then a galactic Empire

(19) LE GUIN. NPR’s Jason Heller reviews Ursula K. Le Guin’s No Time To Spare — “Ursula K. Le Guin’s Voice Rings Out In New Nonfiction Collection”.

Le Guin’s clinical, theoretical way of framing complicated social and literary ideas makes sense. Her parents were the noted anthropologists Alfred Louis Kroeber and Theodora Kracaw — a fact that doesn’t usually come up in her nonfiction. She makes an except in “Indian Uncles,” one of The Wave in the Mind‘s most heartfelt essays. She originally delivered it as a lecture in 1991 at the University of California at Berkeley, where her father taught and her mother studied. Le Guin recounts, from her point of a view, part of the events surrounding the famous case of Ishi, a member of the Native American Yahi people who became the subject of Kracaw’s 1961 book Ishi in Two Worlds.

Ishi died in 1916, thirteen years before Le Guin was born, but in “Indian Uncles” she writes eloquently and intimately about the how Ishi’s time with her parents inspired and haunted them throughout their lives, and how her own life was shaped by this invisible “uncle.”

(20) EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL. The Shape of Water “Making of” featurette.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Man” is a cartoon by Steve Cutts on YouTube giving a very nasty history of the last 500,000 years.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill, David K.M. Klaus, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

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47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/19/17 Good King Pixel Scroll Looked Out On The Feast of File

  1. It was the 19th this afternoon when I was writing a check.
    But having two Dec 18ths doesn’t seem to be a bad idea.

  2. ”But having two Dec 18ths doesn’t seem to be a bad idea.”

    Look! It’s the Pixel Scroll Repair Man!

  3. …and now I’m wondering why there aren’t more trans narratives in transhuman/posthuman SF. Transhumanism was big in the 1990s and so was genderqueer so you might expect some spillover, but I can actually think of more examples from the 60s and 70s. Maybe I missed it?

  4. @ghostbird. Of course, the ur-example of “Day Million” by Pohl does have a trans narrative, but the actual Transhumanism wave…yeah, I think you are right.

    7) I sure hope Kay’s novels make it to the screen.

  5. @Paul Weimer

    “Day Million” and John Varley’s Ophiuchi Hotline sequence were both on my mind as early examples, yes. My working theory is that the early stuff links to 1970s pansexual hedonism and mostly ends with the HIV epidemic and conservative backlash in the 1980s. And I suspect transhumanism mostly ignores gender issues because it comes from cyberpunk as a backlash against women’s writing in SF.

    But these are all part-formed ideas, obviously, and I’m happy to be proved wrong.

  6. @1: so octopuses are smart enough to hitchhike? Kewl…

    @11: Fascinating; I’ve seen that cartoon with a variety of skills inked in (would you believe “bassoonist”?), but never knew what the original was. Something else piled on Mt. TBR.

    @Steve Wright re @16: is that more or less Scandinavian than eating lutefisk? I suspect it’s more Icelandic than generic-Scandinavian.

  7. I saw a paper copy of “The long list anthology. Volume 2” on my local library shelves yesterday. Nice to see it’s getting around.


    “When the Scroll is called up yonder, I’ll File there”

  8. @ Chip Hitchcock: Lutefisk is specifically Norwegian, but can be spotted in (at least) Sweden, even among people without obvious Norwegian heritage. Puffin-eating seems to be a more-Icelandic-than-anything-else thing, though.

  9. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein–who is a Filer, I believe–is being sold for $1.99 at the usual suspects. It is highly recommended.

  10. At some time in the past (which I am not going to investigate) John C. Wright griped about Gormenghast being published as fantasy, and prompted in response this terrific essay on the subject by Tom Simon.

  11. 6) Bummer. My Dad and I really enjoyed the show, especially Fiona Dourif’s Bart. Anyone want to write up some Bart fanfic for me?

    7) This series deserves to be much better known, so I am cautiously optimistic.

  12. Rob Thornton, can you tell me a bit about Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon? Genre? Maybe a review or a link to one? The name is intriguing.

  13. @Dann I think those chains in (13) are made of flimsy imported 1’s and 0’s and not the heavy steel links it would take to beat Amazon into submission.

  14. (11) I caught an old rerun of a Dick Cavett show last night and they had on some of the cartoonists from The New Yorker including George Booth and Charles Addams. They also had on Lee Lorenz who was the art director of the New Yorker from 1973 to 1993. He was talking about how there were fewer opportunities for cartoonists after the death of a lot of the weekly and monthly magazines. I’d hate to think of what it’s like now.

    I sent off my Christmas cards this week and is tradition they were Kliban cat cards. On the back they had his bio and I didn’t realize he had died at 55. I remember his Cat book and his other slim books being everywhere. Certainly had legs given you can still buy a Cat calendar every year. Maybe seeing the same artwork reappearing ever few years is reassuring.

  15. @Niall: Applause!
    I’ve been waiting for a commenter with suitable letters, but no luck…

  16. Niall McAuley: Darnit! I saw her name in Rob’s Meredith moment, solved it, and went to say so, only to find you already gave up on anyone else getting it and offered up the answer.

    Good job on that one.

  17. Cassy B — “The name is intriguing.”

    Thanks! It comes from a poem by Thomas Nashe:
    “…a company of ragged knaves,
    Sun-bathing beggars, lazy hedge-creepers,
    Sleeping face upwards in the fields all night,
    Dream’d strange devices of the sun and moon…”

    For a while it looked like Tor would publish this book in the same month as a reprint of James Tiptree’s Brightness Falls from the Air, and there would be two books out with titles taken from Thomas Nashe. But alas, it was not to be.

  18. Dirk Gently: Too bad about the cancellation, but there was IMHO a big drop in quality from the 1st season to the 2nd anyway.

  19. @Iphinome

    Sears (& Roebuck) was once considered to be an unassailable titan of commerce. Other examples exist as well.

    I’m not suggesting that taking Amazon down a peg or two will be easy. Just that it is possible.

    It isn’t necessary for Amazon to end to have things get better for authors. Just a bit of competition from a source that provides better compensation for better writing.


  20. Wow, yes, that’s kind of an amazing bundle. I do find it a bit irritating that they split the Wrede books amongst different tiers, but at least they do so in series order.

  21. (5) Has my stress of the last few days made me confused about who Jason Sanford is? Or will I really, really regret it if I clicked through to read the rest of his screed?

  22. There’s only one in the bundle that I have, and only one I’m really not interested in. That’s a better score than usual….

  23. Two of the books in the Humble Bundle not available in the UK this time, though Sunshine by Robin McKinley appears to have been in an earlier Bundle and the Sturgeon is differently available.

  24. @Dann: Sears(*) had the disadvantage of having gone from mail-order to a huge bricks-and-mortar investment. (As discussed in Up the Organization, their internal-social policies let them outlive Montgomery Ward substantially — but that tied-up capital is now catching up to them.) IIRC Amazon is trying very limited B&M as well, but selling the sizzle (experience) as much as the steak — and with (so far) poor results. AFAICT, Sears never had the market dominance that Amazon has; there were plenty of other local chains (some later national) to service the better-heeled, while Amazon has been able to offer extra service to attract a wide spectrum of customers (not to mention the raw advantage of a small number of fully-stocked warehouses vs a large number of randomly-stocked stores); we will see whether somebody invents something even more satisfying to customers, or federal anti-trust forces step in, or we all wind up in a sort of giant company town.

    (*) , Roebuck and Co. — comma, no ‘&’

    @Andrew: aural memory says it’s “need”, not “want”; the first four sites that quote the lyrics agree, but they all seem to be transcriptions of An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, so he may have performed it differently on other occasions.

    @Niall McAuley: I didn’t follow that essay all the way down JCWrong’s rabbit hole (especially after seeing W’s serious use of classification methods that I thought were satire in Borges), but what I followed was fascinating; thanks for the link.

    @OGH: at this point I’ve lost track of whether I’ve been incorrectly credited or uncredited more often. “Chaos is King, and Madness is loose in the world!” <winky>

  25. @Chip: You’re right. I should listen to my Lehrer CDs more often (I do have the book of lyrics “Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer with Not Enough Drawings by Ronald Searle” somewhere in the house, too).

  26. Niall McAuley: Fascinating essay about Gormenghast (the Tom Simon one, that is). I keep thinking I should reread the books. Maybe 2018 will be the time?

  27. (1) VISUAL SCIENCE. Beautiful, at times bizarre images. 🙂

    (7) TV HOPES. This is one of my favorite trilogies/series of all time. The audiobooks are great, too. It would be wonderful to see a good TV treatment of it (I can’t imagine it as a movie or even mini-series), though I’m a little scared how it could be butchered. Of course, whether it even happens – who knows, but that would be very cool!

    (9) TODAY IN HISTORY. “Don’t blame this sleeping satellite. . . .”

    (16) HAVE YOU NO DECENCY? Uh, okay. My puffin story from Iceland is that we went on a tour to see them at this little island off the coast of Reykjavik, and we asked our guide (a biologist who studied them) whether shed ever tried them. She looked embarrassed as she admitted she had, and when we asked if they were any good, she looked even more embarrassed to say they were. 😉 As it happens, on our last night in Iceland, we went to a nice restaurant that had a puffin breast appetizer. Well, we couldn’t resit that! It was a tasty little treaty (though honestly, almost any beast would be tasty, prepared right), I don’t blush to admit. 😛

    @Joe H.: “…they split the Wrede books amongst different tiers…” – Well, the point is to get people to spend more, and if that’s all you’re after, it’s still a deal. 😉 They did the same with Butler’s books in the same bundle. As usual, I have some of these books in various formats, but it is a nice line-up.

  28. Jack Lint on December 20, 2017 at 9:17 am said:

    (11) I caught an old rerun of a Dick Cavett show last night and they had on some of the cartoonists from The New Yorker including George Booth and Charles Addams.

    I saw an old rerun of Dick Cavett a few days ago with James Earl Jones. I thought it was interesting to see him on TV 5 years before the world ever heard of Darth Vader. (In an interesting scheduling choice, the guest just before Jones was this guy.)

  29. I’m guessing Randy Newman doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to sing Rednecks anymore.

    Dark Matter did make a/the Rolling Stone’s list of best albums of the year so he hasn’t gone totally over to the Pixar side. (The last Pixar movie he worked on was Monsters University?)

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