Pixel Scroll 12/24 Yes, Virginia, There Is A Pixel Scroll

(1) A DREAM. Pat Cadigan on Facebook:

It’s Christmas Eve, and you know what that means––it’s time for my favourite Christmas story!

One night, Confucius had a dream about chopsticks…..

(2) THE CASE FOR EMAIL. NASA calculated the surprising amount of money it would cost to send a Christmas card to Mars.

Next: they can calculate how much it will cost to send someone to receive the card on Mars. (With and without potatoes.)

(3) DECK THE TARDIS. Alex Kingston and Matt Lucas kick off the holiday.

(4) THAT SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR. And the Doctor Who Christmas Special is just hours away. Here are two previews.

The Doctor reunites with River – The Husbands of River Song – Doctor Who Christmas Special – BBC


“Are You The Surgeon?” – The Husbands of River Song Preview – Doctor Who Christmas 2015 – BBC


(5) ART APPRECIATION. An sf art collector discusses a cover artist of the Golden Age — “Hubert Rogers’ Astounding Covers — And His Fascinating Correspondence with Robert A. Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp” by Doug Ellis at Black Gate.

At IlluxCon this past October, one of our major purchases was a pulp painting by artist Hubert Rogers. Rogers was Astounding Science Fiction’s primary cover artist from late 1939 to early 1952, with a break from 1943 through 1946 due to World War II (which he spent in Canada painting war posters and other paintings related to the war). We’d made arrangements over the summer to buy it from a friend of ours, who had owned it for many years, and he drove it up to IlluxCon with him so we could complete the deal.

Ellis maximizes the visual interest of his post with copies of the covers, and reproductions of several letters from L. Sprague De Camp and Robert A. Heinlein.

One of the Heinlein’s 1941 letters to Hubert Rogers says —

I will be interested to see how you have conceived the character Lazarus Long in my new serial I thought of him as looking a good deal like Carl Sandburg, earthy and robust, but not tall. My wife says he likes like an Uncle Sam with a dash of Doctor E. E. Smith. We are anxious to find out what he actually does look like.

(6) Today In History

  • December 24, 2011 – Cheetah, chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan movies of the 1930s, died on this date. Your monkey’s mileage may vary.

(7) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • December 24, 1910 – Fritz Leiber

(8) SPACE CHOW. “Christmas dinner on the International Space Station: What do the astronauts eat?” in The Independent.

Nasa tends to dominate the operations on the ISS, so the Christmas food is more typically American – turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes and cornbread are staples, and they’re all served out of small plastic packages that can be heated up in a special onboard oven.

However, Russia also has a strong presence in space, so there is some regional variation – Cloeris said the Russians have some “really good mashed potatoes,” as well as excellent cranberry sauce.

(9) AND FOR DESSERT. “Oh, Just a Gingerbread House Rendition of the Overlook Hotel from ‘The Shining’” at Messy Nessy Chic.

Nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like a cult horror movie turned miniature winter wonderland in the form of everybody’s favourite Christmas cookie!  Come play with us…

(10) THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS I’M LOOKING FOR. Why would George R.R. Martin (“Puppies at Christmas”) endorse Sad Puppies 4 in advance of seeing what they actually do, unless he believes the power of suggestion can make it so?

For decades now, LOCUS and NESFA and other fan groups have produced reading lists at year’s end, long lists generated by recommendations from their editors/ members/ etc. If at the end of this process, Sad Puppies 4 puts forth a similar list, one that has room for BOTH Larry Correia and Ann Leckie, I don’t think anyone could possibly object. I won’t, certainly. A list like that would not be a slate, and the whole “slate voting” thing will become moot.

And that would be great. That would mean no Puppygate II. That would mean a spirited literary debate about writers and books without the acrimony and the name-calling. From that debate a truly democratic and diverse ballot could emerge, one that represents all tastes. That would mean no ‘No Awards’ at Big MAC II, and the Hugo ceremony could once again become a joyous celebration of the best and brightest in our field.

In my post-worldcon blog post last August 31 (( http://grrm.livejournal.com/440444.html )) I expressed the hope that the ugliness of 2015 could be left behind, that Fandom and Puppydom could coexist in peace. That’s still my hope. And right now I am feeling a little more hopeful than I was in August. People are talking books, not trading epithets…

(11) DOCTOR HOOEY. Or will this turn out about as well as people expect? In the comments on Kate Paulk’s “Hugo Category Highlight: Best Fan Writer”, Dr. Mauser pleads for even more attention….

(12) PRODUCTION NUMBER. “California Christmastime,” from Rachel Bloom and the cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

130 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/24 Yes, Virginia, There Is A Pixel Scroll

  1. I am braving the perils of Paulk’s Tavern on audio narration. I have 2 books to read/listen before I can read Mercy.

    It’s good so far. I don’t know how anyone could think this was not science fiction.

  2. I mean, everyone’s gonna nominate “Ancillary 3: This Time It’s Lapsang Souchong”, so I don’t need to.

    If you genuinely believe that Ancillary Mercy is in your top 5, then I encourage you not to take that approach.

    I’ll +1 this. Regardless of what you is the popular favourite or what you think everyone else may vote for, I think in you should vote for your Top 5, whatever they are – obscure or otherwise. That’s how I see the “wisdom of the crowds” working, which I see as a key element of the Hugo noms, and which was what previous SPs distorted.

    It’s why I find Paulk’s comments regarding SP4 about voting for “mathematically probable items” to be nuts. Vote for what you liked, not what someone else (or a whole host of someone elses) liked.

  3. I slept through most of the day and I can’t remember if I already said it, so: Happy Christmas, everyone.

    Star Wars is facing, um, other Star Wars and Hal is facing KHAAAAN in the semi finals of the Science Fiction Movie Bracket! Get your Christmas vote in. 🙂

    One of my pain medications is also on the auto-mod list, probably because the pain med in question is popular with people who want to misuse it. I imagine it features in a lot of spam.

    I think part of the reason for Tank Marmot’s name being an auto-mod is because, due to his general ability to be a complete and total jerk, some people were feeling the need to escalate their own jerkishness in response. People @ing him were more likely to be behaving in a way that would get them modded so it was easier to pre-emptively mod both Marmot himself and anyone @ing Marmot in order to slow down the escalation – until he got banned entirely, of course.

    Re: SP4

    I’ll believe it isn’t a slate when I see it.

  4. It’s good so far. I don’t know how anyone could think this was not science fiction.

    Well, you could do what many Pups have done and opine on the book without having read it.

  5. Merry Christmas to all, or alternatively Happy Whatever You Celebrate.

    I had a lovely goose dinner with friends last night, and a lovely dinner with different friends at Legal Seafood today. I have my dogs,around me, and ice cream in the freezer.

    I suppose this is the wrong day to hurl imprecations at publishers who provide ebooks with a fixed font size which is far too small for me to read without physical pain?

    Note that these were provided for review, so I’m not out any money for these physixally unreadable books. It’s just the frustration of going through multiple books to find one I could read.

  6. Happy December 25th!

    SP4 will be what it will be. I’d love for GRRM to be right. But I’ve found holding my breath makes me pass out and get severe migraines so I’m going to believe it when I see it.

    I’m going to keep reading, updating my list, nominate, and vote as I see best (no special strategy – only difference this year is I’m nominating). Sometime soon I’ll have to start finding time to switch to reading more 2016 releases. I’ve had an Amazon wishlist going for 6 months at least to help me track (and a number of things pre-ordered). Magazine subscriptions should help keep me up with shorter stuff. I’ve backed a number of anthologies on Kickstarter so I’ll be on top of short stories and novellas.

    @Liz Carey I’m with you on the font complaint. It’s an ebook let me modify it for my poor eyes. A galley/review copy should feel like the final book. I’m always suspicious if they’ve locked stuff like that in the review copy – will it be locked in the final copy because someone forgot to take it off or thinks it’s better to force readers to see it their way without understanding why we are able to change so many things in our ereader settings for each book?

  7. Shambles: I am braving the perils of Paulk’s Tavern on audio narration. I have 2 books to read/listen before I can read Mercy.
    It’s good so far. I don’t know how anyone could think this was not science fiction.

    I don’t know how anyone could think it’s not good.

    I envy you, reading it for the first time. I’ve read the first one three times now; the subsequent reads were wonderful in their own way, especially for noticing things I hadn’t noticed before. But nothing equals the marvel of reading it for the first time.

  8. @Amina–Merry Christmas!
    The ham is in the oven though no one in this household of Jews, Muslims, communists, and northerners has any idea how to cook it.

    My midwest family (Iowa) uses a glaze of mustard and Coco-Cola. Gives it a nice crispy shell.

  9. @lurkertype (who doesn’t want to nominate Ancillary Mercy without having read it): Well, y’know, there’s a couple of months yet before the nominating period closes. You could go ahead and read it.

  10. JJ on December 25, 2015 at 1:27 pm said:

    Vivienne Raper: How come a name gets moderated out?

    In particular, because he had posted so many vile things here at File770 (some of which were thinly-veiled threats of violence) that the moderator here added his last name to the list of words which would kick a post into moderation. Filers figured this out and figured out how to get around it. The moderator eventually got tired of having to wade through the trash in his posts and finally just banned him.

    I thought it was also because the person in question trawls the internet for appearances of his name and has a tendency to show up wherever it is mentioned.

  11. lurkertype on December 25, 2015 at 3:27 pm said:

    “Ancillary 3: This Time It’s Lapsang Souchong”


  12. Haven’t read much of the thread. Just Merry Christmas everyone.

    So, Christmas eve was reading Castle Hangnail. Christmas day was reading Hamster Princess! I laughed aloud so many times…. and promptly loaned both to Mom, who will probably enjoy them as much as I do, and who sadly got no books for Christmas this year (that never happens!). (I should note that even before I offered she was asking for Hamster Princess)

    (Alas that my copy of Bryony and Roses is electronic.)

    Need to finish Shadow Scale before I., too, reach Ancillary Mercy. Having a blast with that, too.

    And if you’re one of those people who actually likes at least some Christmas music (religious traditionals and thoughtful modern, plus a few yule based or open of faith. No Apocryphal Santa kitcsh), my facebook has multiple youtube tracks linked publicly. (My facebook name is the two you see here plus my surname, which is identical to the given name of Mr. Rothfuss and Mr. Nielsen Hayden.)

  13. Speaking of Byrony and Roses, we’re about to start a book discussion on it over on Compuserve. It’ll take place in sections, over the course of about a month. You can email me at (rot13) [email protected] for details. Filers… and wombats… welcome!

  14. @Lis Carey I suppose this is the wrong day to hurl imprecations at publishers who provide ebooks with a fixed font size which is far too small for me to read without physical pain?

    Is it possible for you to open it in a reader like Calibre and adjust the size there?

  15. I am calling on fans with musical talent to make a Grok Me Larry Correia video. Man is feeling unloved. Would be automatic for a hugo nomination

  16. JJ:

    WordPress has a default filter set up. Blog owners can add to or change this.

    More than 3 links will get a post sent to moderation. So will mention of Red Sea Pedestrians and World War II German Nationalists and popular pills to assist sexual experiences.

    Mention of socialism and socialists used to get sent to moderation because those words contained the name of an aid to a healthy sex life, but Mike fixed that after we pointed it out.

    The short history of File 770 moderation! You’ve been very observant.

    I have changed some of these without necessarily making a big deal of it, so here’s a precis —

    Eight or more links in a post sends it to moderation.

    A long list of prescription drug names will send a post to moderation. But not, as you say, the one contained in the word socialism. This is a holdover from my early efforts to block spam — except it doesn’t block it. If more people were using these names in real comments I’d probably change the filter but it never seems to come up.

    I no longer filter for Tank Marmot or his real name. However, I am fond of seeing him called Tank Marmot. Kind of a File 770 tradition.

    I don’t filter for Red Sea Pedestrians, either. I did for awhile because some of our drive-by traffic would say something dubious, then the people refuting it would copy the same language as a citation, and it was not okay with me to see these kinds of statements in the first place, much less over and over…

    Finally, use of Vox Day’s or John Scalzi’s favorite nicknames for one another will send a comment to moderation — and it won’t be approved. Another case that is almost never an issue, you might be surprised to know. I think it’s only come up two or three times since April.

  17. Christmas surprise – I got my Kickstarter Order of the Stick custom art! My suggestion was a non-spoilery scene with Kazumi and her child, with some life advice about avoiding the fate of unnamed NPCs. I got Kazumi, Daigo, and baby, with Kazumi saying “I know remembering 37 names will be hard, but someday you’ll thank us”

  18. Guess: I am calling on fans with musical talent to make a Grok Me Larry Correia video. Man is feeling unloved.

    Nah, Correia’s not interested in grokking anyone but himself and he’s already gotten way more attention than he deserves in the last 3 years.

    It’s the holidays. There are a lot more enjoyable things to do than cater to Puppy egos.

  19. I watched the Doctor Who Christmas ep earlier today and really enjoyed it. Lots of good goofy fun with excellent well acted heart-felt moments.

    In other words — just what a DW Xmas special should be.

  20. @Tintinaus:

    You know, I thought River was a bit off in that. Almost like she didn’t really have her head in the game.

  21. @Rev Bob:

    I thought she was pretty good. There may have been moments where she wasn’t completely on song but they were few and far between.

  22. Actually, this episode of Doctor Who got me irritated at either BBC America or Comcast. It turns out that although all of the On Demand episodes are available in HD, the actual BBC America channel itself is SD-only. So, if I want to see the show in HD, I have to wait for it to hit On Demand a day or two later. This seems like a bizarrely perverse incentive.

    On the upside, though, I did figure out how to turn on closed captions and get a full-HD signal instead of the 720p the box was giving me by default. That cable box’s hidden menu comes in handy.

    (Yes, I finally joined the rest of the civilized world in getting an HDTV. I actually skipped the entire “closed captions are handled by the TV” era; the previous set was an old console model that defined “cable-ready” as “no channels higher than about 66.”)

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  24. Amina on December 26, 2015 at 8:02 am said:

    Enh, I wasn’t impressed with the Doctor Who special. All banter, no substance.

    They tend to pitch the Christmas specials (with notable recent examples) as being lighter and for a wider audience.

    Having said that I really enjoyed that they let Capaldi loose with his more comical abilities. His sarcastic version of the bigger-on-the-inside was fun.

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