Pixel Scroll 12/3/17 There Are Certain Scrolls Of New York, Major, That I Wouldn’t Advise You To Pixel

(1) NEXT SMOFCON. Santa Rosa will host Smofcon 36 in 2018. The con will be held November 30-December 2. Bruce Farr will chair, and Patty Wells will organize programming. Their hotel will be The Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa.

(2) ORIGIN STORY. The International Costumers Guild revisits “The Futuristicostume” worn by Forry Ackerman at the first Worldcon in 1939.

We started our research by going back to the beginning, back to the first convention costumers Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle Douglas.

Everyone is familiar with their photos. Most know the how and the why of their costumes. But how were they made? What color were they? We now have some answers and some theories along with new, never seen photos.

We now know his “futuristicostume” still partially exists. Most of the cape probably has not survived, but the pants and shirt are in the hands of a private collector. The shirt appears to be pale gold. As you can tell even in the black and white photos on line, the pants are most likely WWI military surplus. The most interesting story is about the cape. We found 2 references describing it as green. New photos from Ackerman’s personal collection recently came to light, so we snapped them up for the Archives. We understand that the cape he is wearing in them is a recreation, but it would appear to verify our references. However, in the book “House of Ackerman: A Photographic Tour of the Legendary Ackermansion”, by Al Astrella, James Greene and John Landis, there’s a color photo of what’s left of the cape, where it appears to be an antique gold. We are 90% certain we know the reason why. The clue was found in analyzing Myrtle’s costume…

(3) DARK. Camestros Felapton is watching: “Review: Dark – Netflix”.

It is no spoiler to say this is a time-travel/time-slip mystery. From the beginning elements such as clocks are underlined, we get repeated quotes from Einstein, snippets of lectures on Black Holes, and an old guy warning that ‘it is happening again’. On top of that, we get an opening title sequence that (very effectively) uses reflections to create a disturbing view of the normal and a teacher lecturing his class on the use of symmetry and foreshadowing in the work of Goethe. I wonder if the producers entirely trusted their audience to follow where the show wanted to go.

The pay off comes at the end of episode three when the connections between 2019 and 1986 characters are made overt. What was an initially a confusing set of characters becomes clearer as the set of families involved and the relationships between them become clearer. Betrayals and loss and teenage romance form a web and events between the two eras become more entwined.

(4) CUBESATS. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents its latest Into the Impossible podcast — Episode 12: Speculative CubeSats.

How can CubeSats—the small, standardized satellites paving the way for the democratization of space—change our sense of the possible? We dive into two projects: the Planetary Society’s Lightsail 2, with Director of Science and Technology Bruce Betts, and with MacArthur Genius grant-awardee Trevor Paglen, we discuss Orbital Reflector, the first satellite to be launched purely as an artistic gesture.

(5) SHUGGOTH. At Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett added a James Blish cat story — “Tales Too Good To Forget #1”.

…Luckily for us the young James Blish published quite a few fanzines and thus inadvertently provided for anybody fortunate enough to read these evidence that he was far more than a cold and forbidding intellect.

Well okay, to be perfectly honest a lot of his early fanzine writings are indeed as earnest and po-faced as William Atheling, Jr. might lead you believe the real Blish was. But while some of this material might come across as every bit as pompous as the pronunciations of a high art maven (if you don’t believe me then go look for an issue of Renascence, but don’t say I didn’t warn you) in between the bouts of earnestness is another Blish, a wittier, lighter Blish who knew how to not take himself too seriously. The best place to look for this James Blish is in the material which he published for the Vanguard Amateur Press Association. It was here, in Tumbrils #4, that he wrote one of my favourite cat stories. Read this and you will never think of James Blish as po-faced ever again…

(6) DELIVERED IN HALF AN HOUR OR IT’S FREE. The “Astronauts show how to make pizza in space”.

Astronauts at the International Space Station created a video of themselves making pizza in zero gravity.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli tweeted that he “casually” told ISS chief Kirk Shireman that he missed pizza and Shireman managed to get pizza ingredients into space.


(7) A BOOK YOU CAN’T BUY ON AMAZON. Lurkertype went shopping for a copy of Camestros Felapton’s There Will Be Walrus on Amazon, and found the Big River was able to sell everything but —

I just searched Amazon for TWBW and got no result (since it’s only on Smashwords), but was suggested a plush stuffed walrus, walrus artworks, a tacky walrus shirt, several doodads for “Rock Band: Beatles”, and a Barry White mask.

(8) I FEEL WOOZY. Andrew Porter cautions before clicking this link – “Memories and possibilities are even more hideous than realities”.

Warning: this may cause you to tear out your eyeballs. Extreme psychedelic stuff might cause seizures in people with epilepsy….

(9) JAMES GUNN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. At Locus Online, “Russell Letson reviews Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fiction by James Gunn”.

I hope I might be excused for injecting personal notes into a review of James Gunn’s autobiography, Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fiction. As I read it, I couldn’t help noticing how many times and in how many ways my life in SF was affected by Gunn’s work as writer, editor, and academic activist. One of my earliest book purchases, around 1957, was the Ace paperback (Double Size! 35 cents!) of Star Bridge, the space opera he co-wrote with Jack Williamson. (I still have a double-autographed copy of a later Ace printing, the original having long since succumbed to pulp rot.) Before that, I had listened to the 1956 X Minus One radio adaptation of his short story ‘‘The Cave of Night’’. (It’s still available online.) Years later, the third volume of The Road to Science Fiction was one of the reliable anthologies for my SF course, and a few years after that I wrote a dozen entries for The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction that he edited. By that time, Gunn had been president of both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association, started the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and worked for years as a promoter of the study and practice of science fiction.


  • John King Tarpinian sends along today’s horrible pun from Brevity.
  • And an interstellar mission doesn’t quite make it in Herman.

(11) CLARKE CENTENNIAL. Clarke Award Director Tom Hunter reminds all that “Saturday 16th December will mark Arthur C. Clarke’s centenary anniversary, and we’ve been prepping a few special moments to help celebrate the occasion across the month.”

They include:


2010: The Year We Make Contact
Saturday 16th December 2017 (Sir Arthur’s birthday)

The Royal Observatory Greenwich will be hosting a special planetarium screening of 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) starring Roy Scheider, John Lithgow and Helen Mirren + a cameo from Sir Arthur himself.

Before the film, we’ll hear from Director of the Clarke Awards, Tom Hunter, and ROG Astronomer Brendan Owens about the influence of Arthur C Clarke on both science fiction and science fact. This event includes a free beer per person on arrival courtesy of Meantime Brewing Company.

There will also be a Kickstarter-funded stunt anthology, 2001: An Odyssey in Words, where every story is precisely two thousand and one words long.

On the fiction front, we started by putting out a call to our past winning and shortlisted authors, and have received almost thirty fantastic submissions back from writers including Chris Beckett, Gwyneth Jones, Jeff Noon, Rachel Pollack, Jane Rogers and Adrian Tchaikovsky, picking six names not at all at random because six is the same number as we have on our shortlist every year, and because all of these authors happen to be past winners.

…We’ll also be featuring some choice bits of non-fiction in the collection, including an essay on Clarke’s legacy by our own Chair of Judges, Dr Andrew M. Butler, and a remembrance of the judging experience itself from one of our more well known past judges, Neil Gaiman.

(12) BEAR FACTS. Well, phooey. “DNA Evidence Shows Yeti Was Local Himalayan Bears All Along” says Gizmodo.

The yeti, or abominable snowman, is a sort of wild, ape-like hominid that’s the subject of long-standing Himalayan mythology. Scientists have questioned prior research suggesting that purported yeti hair samples came from a strange polar bear hybrid or a new species, though. The analysis “did not rule out the possibility that the samples belonged to brown bear,” according to the paper published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Lindqvist and her team analyzed DNA from 24 different bear or purported yeti samples from the wild and museums, including feces, hair, skin, and bone. They were definitely all bears—and the yeti samples seemed to match up well with exiting Himalayan brown bears. “

(13) YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF THE GAME. My Pappy always told me, never gamble, stick to thermodynamics: “Unesco adds Sir Isaac Newton’s papers to world register”.

More personal items in the collection include a notebook written during his time as an undergraduate, in which he lists how much he has spent on items such as wine, the shoestrings that cost him one shilling and 10 pence, and his four shillings and sixpence stockings.

He also appears to have lost 15 shillings at a card game, according to his own accounts.

(14) NOWHERE PEOPLE. “Where is the remotest spot in the United States?”. “A pair of scientists from Florida, and their eight-year-old daughter, are visiting the remotest spot in every US state.”

They settled on “the furthest distance from a road or town”. But then, they say, “it got trickier”.

What is a road? Anything paved, unpaved, public, or private, they decided. For example – beaches that allowed cars counted as roads.

They also decided the remote spot must be “high and developable”. It can’t be in the middle of a lake, and it can’t be a flood plain.

(15) JUDGMENT CALL. Bleeding Cool actually did what I decided not to do — made an entire post of Amal El-Mohtar’s tweets about her ordeal getting through TSA airport security the other day: “What Happened to Canadian Sci-Fi Writer Amal El-Mohtar’s Phone at US Customs?”

(16) ARE THEY SURE? The Los Angeles Times recently published this errata —

(17) LIGHTSABER EXERCISES. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Training Featurette” is a look at how hard the cast of The Last Jedi trained for the film.

(18) OUT IN FORCE. Daisy Ridley and the cast of The Last Jedi appeared on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!

That same night there was a “Star Wars’ Chewbacca Christmas Tree Unveiled on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live'”.

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

42 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/3/17 There Are Certain Scrolls Of New York, Major, That I Wouldn’t Advise You To Pixel

  1. Sacrificial fourth:

    Am I the only one that looked at the Ackerman costume and thought it was a Firefly prop?

  2. My first thought, seeing the Ackerman costume, was of the famous “Skylark” cover from Amazing Stories featuring Dick Seaton swanning around in midair.

    Though you’d also need jackboots, leather aviator helmet, cheesy grin and copper-powered total conversion backpack to complete the ensemble, I guess.

  3. 6) I guess, in space, Boboli would do for pizza. Even for me.

    14) I do like that shot in Wyoming. You can really get into the backcountry in Yellowstone. Haven’t tried that myself but I admire that sort of grit.

  4. “Am I the only one that looked at the Ackerman costume and thought it was a Firefly prop?”

    Nope, was my first thought too. Just add long brown coat and instant Captain Tightpants.

  5. As kids, we lived for the free thrill of seeing the latest display in Anderson’s Jewelry’s window. These would be electric automata that did repeated or continuous actions that reminded young brides and grooms, relentlessly and with gentle humor, that diamonds were pretty much the key to lasting marital romance. A bride and groom on a Ferris wheel, and a small plaque on front with something akin to a pun (perhaps, “Be a Big Wheel with a Diamond”) to contemplate as we watched it for some portion of a minute before we got bored.

    I told my sister I’d been thinking of them, and we reminisced. She still knows the jeweler’s daughter, and said she might ask her about it next time they speak. I resumed internet searches, and finally hit upon a keyword that brought me the information I’d been wanting. They were made by Baranger Studios, and there are over a hundred of them at the House on the Rock, which might actually be enough to get me there some day. The links at the wiki seem mostly, if not totally, dead, but I was able to find them, first at Pinterest, and then at YouTube.

    Here’s a diamond nuclear reactor!

    Amazon seems to have a book of them, with this jolly UFO shown, unmoving, on the cover.

    Here’s my favorite, so far (though the reactor is a strong contender), a rocket to the moon, which cries out for the Ames Brothers as a sound track:

    So away we steal in a space-mobile
    A supersonic honeymoon
    Leave your cares below, pull the switch, let’s go!
    Destination moon!

    (This reminds me of Bud Webster’s “Sci-Fi Hi-Fi” slide/tape presentation that he used to give at our local convention. Where are those slides now? Where’s the cassette tape that was in my favorite AM/FM/SW/tape machine when it died five minutes into the show?)

    I’d write more now, but Time’s winged chariot is bumping me again, and I have to get ready for school. Semester’s almost over! I leave you with the words of Omar the Costumer:

    The Scrolling Finger files, and having filed,
    Moves on: nor all thy Fannishness nor Pith
    Shall woo it back to retract half a Line,
    Nor all thy Links undo a Pixel of’t.


    Interesting thoughts about what the costume reminds us of, but what was Ackerman thinking of when he made it? For example, the big shoulders leading to the cape on the full costume look a bit like some costumes from Things to Come (1936) if you ask me.

    (3) DARK

    I’m 3 episodes in and yep, it’s very very dark. At the start it felt like I was watching Hannibal or a Scandi Noir show. For me, the Stranger Things comparisons I’ve seen elsewhere are off the mark – any similarities are fairly superficial.

  7. Update from the request for a friend: (Books like Wheel of Time)
    She bought something, as present for her mon, so she could read it afterwards.
    It was Pratchett (seemingly every book that has somethink to do with the Watch).
    Since she like on the Wheel the worldbuilding and that she could stay some time in there, Pratchett is not wrong.
    Other things read from the File 770 list: Canavan and the City of … books, she will keep the list and look at it at a latter time.

    Interesting comments: She did read for a time only books with female protagonist, that was a reason she like “The Hunger Games” (but not much of a SF-Fan only Fantasy)

  8. Mm- some comments (for those who dont know) re 2001’s sequel (“2010”) mentioned above -Arthur C Clarke himself appears twice therein: (1) watch near the beginning when the two actors are talking on a park bench (at one end) in front of the White House: the man with a newspaper at the other end is ACC himself; (2) ACC ‘s picture is used as a still of the US President. (BTW IMO the SFX (for its time) –esp the use of the solar wind round Jupiter– is quite neat.) best.

  9. @7: fun shots! I’m surprised it hasn’t come up before; pizza is just the sort of self-adhesive food (at least if made with wraps as apparently here rather than crisp dough) that is safe for the ISS. OTOH, comments in Scott Kelly’s Endurance suggest that the focus is on foods simpler/faster to assemble — although ISS residents also take time for more expansive meals occasionally.

    @Hampus Eckerman: Rocketeer — of course. I was thinking the rig looked familiar and couldn’t place why.

    @Mark: we’ll probably never know what Ackerman was thinking; since he was heavily into media I assume he would have seen TTC, but ISTM that the loose shirt and flapping-sides pants were part of the general consciousness at that point (cf the recreation in Rocketeer. Does anyone know what those pants are called and how/why they developed?

  10. Does anyone know what those pants are called and how/why they developed?

    They are riding breeches. The loose fit on the thighs was supposed to allow for more lateral movement when riding a horse. They were commonly worn by cavalrymen, and since many early military aviators were drawn from the ranks of cavalrymen, the style shifted over to early aviators.

  11. Those pants with wide thighs are jodhpurs, the extra room at the thigh is useful in horse riding.

  12. Chip Hitchcock, those flared-at-the-thigh-and-tight-at-the-calf slacks are called “jodhpurs” and they were developed for horse-riding. (I do not know what that particular design is good for horse riding. I’d guess that the loose-cut thigh makes it easier to spread the legs around a horse and the slim fit at the calf would allow them to be tucked into riding boots. But that’s pure conjecture on my part.)

    These riding pants were adopted by WWI pilots, for style reasons. (I recall hearing that some WWI pilots actually wore spurs on their boots, despite the risk to the doped fabric that made up the majority of the aircraft, but I do not know if that is true.)

    Edit to add: Ninja’d by both Aaron and Niall McAuley. That’ll teach me to write a long explanation when a short one will do….

  13. I don’t think pilots wore jodhpurs just for style, it was partly because officers rode horses, so officers uniforms tended towards the horsey with swords and pistols instead of rifles and backpacks, and aviators were all officers.

  14. Just an air-warfare-nerd niggle: There were NCO pilots in both the British and German WW1 air corps.

    The jodhpur-style riding-breeches component of military uniforms seems to derive from cavalry gear–though polo players introduced them to the UK, and from there they entered the general upper-crust-outdoorsy-ridin’-and-shootin’ world.

  15. My grandfather just barely missed being a WWI pilot; he’d finished training and was scheduled to leave for England when peace was declared. When I was a child, my mother showed me his leather flying helmet, silk scarf, and jodhpurs. I have no idea what happened to any of them, alas.

    (He also just barely missed dying in the Spanish Flu epidemic; he’d been triaged as “dying – no treatment” by the overworked hospital employees, was left to die in a hallway (there were no beds to spare), and only the fact that his identical twin brother, my great-uncle, stayed by him and nursed him (presumably making sure he had food and water) kept him alive.)

  16. Mark: but what was Ackerman thinking of when he made it?

    Just a tangential question to the main discussion — didn’t Morojo make the costume?

  17. @Mike

    I’ve no idea, so I’d trust your own recollections over whatever I write!
    Anyway, I was just interested in what the design language of the costumer might have been influenced by, and I assumed that movies might have been influential – along with book/magazine covers perhaps?

  18. Meredith moment, transatlantic edition: Orbit are having a debut author sale – US page, UK page.

    I’ve read Strange Practice and have Kings of the Wyld on the tbr, but would anyone rec any of the others?

  19. IanP: instant Captain Tightpants

    It seems to me that this is something I should be able to find at the grocery store on the shelf next to the instant coffee.

  20. @JJ

    It seems to me that this is something I should be able to find at the grocery store on the shelf next to the instant coffee.

    Start with plenty dairy and top up with confectionery and your pants will be tighter in no time.

  21. IanP: Start with plenty dairy and top up with confectionery and your pants will be tighter in no time.

    Yeah… my expectation is that reconstitution will get me the Captain with the tightpants. 😉

  22. What happened to Amal El-Mohtar is something to keep in mind as we debate whether to keep hosting WorldCon in the United States. We have to ask how many people we are willing to have subjected to this treatment, how many we are willing to have turned back at the airport after the expense of travel.

    And frankly, given the direction an unchecked ICE is headed, we may ask if it’s worth the risk of the worst case scenario in dealing with ICE.

  23. (11) Unless the prints themselves have been altered in the intervening years, the title of the 1984 Peter Hyams-directed 2001 sequel is simply 2010 (whereas Clarke’s novel has the subtitle “Odyssey II”). I don’t understand how an advertising/poster tagline (i.e., “the year we make contact”) became elevated to de facto title status, in this or analogous cases such as X2 (aka X2: X-Men United).

  24. (3) Halfway through Dark I realized I’d have to rewatch the series and soon; I may have to actually make my own wall-of-photographs-and-string to keep track of the interrelationships.

    I recommended it to a friend, who replied that they couldn’t handle the bad English dubbing – turns out that (at least for us) you have to manually select the original German audio (my religion requires me to avoid dubbed media). I suggested this to my friend and next thing I knew they were two episodes ahead of me.

    (Posting from 1367, which cannot easily be reached via [SPOILER].)

    They scroll you up, your mum and dad.

    They may not mean to, but they do.

    They fill you with the files they had

    And add some pixels, just for you.

  25. Rose Embolism: What happened to Amal El-Mohtar is something to keep in mind as we debate whether to keep hosting WorldCon in the United States. We have to ask how many people we are willing to have subjected to this treatment, how many we are willing to have turned back at the airport after the expense of travel.

    As I pointed out in the previous scroll, there are also probably a lot of people in fandom who dare not leave the U.S. to attend a Worldcon, for fear of what might happen when they return to the U.S..

    I guess the least-worst solution right now is to try to alternate hosting Worldcons in and outside of the U.S., so that in a 2 to 4-year span, most fans would have the opportunity to attend at least one.

    I long for the day when this unbelievable national nightmare will be over. 😐

  26. Re Jade City: bit of a stretch to call Lee a debut author when she’s already an award-winning author.

    Sounds interesting though, as do a couple of the others.

    Edit: so apparently the IP of the cafe from which I work is blocked by the spam blocker, yet strangely my VPN works fine.

  27. And now the Supreme Court has decided to allow Trump’s Muslim ban, in the face of immediately-demonstrated prejudice, while the cases get formally brought up. This is the ban that Trump claimed would only be in place a few months while “better” procedures were worked out; I wonder if someone in ICE (i.e., the manager cited in the CBC story who claims there is no racial profiling) thinks they have, but AFAICT the administration has done squat.

    I do not expect the nightmare to end; even if Trump’s giveaway-to-the-rich blows up the economy the way Reagan’s and Shrub’s did, I’m afraid there’s too deep a bloc of unthinkingly fearful people for this to be fixed.

    Thanks to all the people who pointed out jodhpurs — which I should have remembered from growing up in vaguely-horsy country. I’d love to see a mechanical analysis of whether flaps at the lower thighs really help and if so why; I don’t see how they would. Or are they low enough that knees get extra room?

  28. JJ:

    It seems to me that this is something I should be able to find at the grocery store on the shelf next to the instant coffee.

    No, the blowup dolls are in a different kind of store.


  29. Chip Hitchcock: If nothing else, bending your legs (especially when supporting your body weight on them) will definitely make your thigh muscles swell, and trousers that are very tight over the thighs definitely hinder your mobility. I have at least one pair that I can happily walk and sit in, but not run or fence in.

    I really can’t speak for horse riding (I have been on the back of a sedately moving horse, a few times, but I don’t think anyone who rides would call that “riding”), but I suspect some of the same considerations would make baggy thigh sections really useful.,

  30. @Chip, the bulge in the trousers may also be exaggerated for fashion reasons. That’s common enough with clothes – a feature that starts out functional ends up bigger than necessary. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  31. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: 12/10/17 Double Edition - Amazing Stories

Comments are closed.