Pixel Scroll 12/30/16 Use File 770; It Softens Your Pixels While You Read The Books. You’re Scrolling In it!

(1) OUR NEIGHBOR. It’s official —

A team of astronomers composed of P. Kervella (CNRS / U. de Chile / Paris Observatory / LESIA), F. Thévenin (Lagrande Laboratory, Côte d’Azur Observatory, France) and Christophe Lovis (Observatory of the University of Geneva, Switzerland) has demonstrated that Proxima, the nearest star to the Sun, is gravitationally bound to its neighbors Alpha Centauri A and B. The nearest stellar system to the Earth is therefore a triple star. Proxima is known to host the nearest exoplanet, a telluric planet orbiting in its habitable zone. This discovery implies that the four objects (Alpha Cen A, B, Proxima and Proxima b) share the same age of ~6 billion years.


Paul Gilster discusses the discovery at Centauri Dreams.

Now as to that orbit — 550,000 years for a single revolution — things get interesting. One reason it has been important to firm up Proxima’s orbit is that while a bound star would have affected the development of the entire system, the question has until now been unresolved. Was Proxima Centauri actually bound to Centauri A and B, or could it simply be passing by, associated with A and B only by happenstance?

(2) THE REPRESSION INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM. YouTube’s Nostalgia Critic demands to know “Where’s the Fair Use”?

(3) PAYING TO VOLUNTEER. While it’s commonly expected at the conventions I’ve worked that volunteers will be members of the con, this is a new one on me – having to join a secondary group in order to volunteer. “Phoenix Comicon announces changes to volunteering; paid fan group membership required” reports An Engishman in San Diego.

Square Egg Entertainment, the organisation behind Phoenix Comicon, today announced a sizeable change to its practice of staffing – and pooling volunteers for – their three annual events:  Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, and Keen Halloween. Square Egg will no longer be staffing these shows with hired hands, instead now filling those roles from the organising committee and paid membership of the Blue Ribbon Army (which originally started out as a fan group for PHXCC, and has subsequently become a social club with 501(c)(7) status).

Members of the Army have to be at least 18 years old and – here’s the kicker for a number of fiscally-minded volunteers – they also do have to become fully paid-up members of the fan group, with membership prices to join starting at $20 per year and going up to $100 per year. That’s right: you effectively have to now pay to become a Phoenix Comicon volunteer.

For what it’s worth, the Blue Ribbon Army leadership isn’t being compensated

Are your board members paid?

All Blue Ribbon Army board members are unpaid volunteers. All financial information, as required by law for a 501(c)7 organization, will be posted.

(4) BOTTOM OF THE GALACTIC BARREL. Love this article title — “15 Star Wars Characters Who Are Worthless At Their Jobs” from ScreenRant.

  1. Storm Troopers – Just Bad At Their Jobs

They just had to be here, as they’re cinematic legends when it comes to utterly failing at your job. Imperial Stormtroopers, as we’re told, are precise. The Empire has access to vast resources, so you’d think its military force would be well up to scratch. Stormtroopers even get a pretty good showing the first time we see them, managing to take over Princess Leia’s ship with only a few casualties. And then almost every time after that we see them, they’re getting destroyed like they put their helmets on backwards and their armor is made of tinfoil….

(5) BILLIONAIRE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Three of the “10 Books Elon Musk – ‘Tesla Founder and Billionaire’ wants you to read” are SFF, beginning with –

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Back when Elon Musk was a moody teen growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, he went looking for the meaning of life in the work of grumpy philosophers. It didn’t help. Then he came upon The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which taught him that the hardest part was to properly phrase the question but that once this was done the answer was easy. It changed his whole perspective.

(6) A CRACKED THEORY. Cracked brings all its scholarly powers to bear in “Snow White is a LOTR Sequel: A Mind-Blowing Theory”.  

Mortal man Beren and elf maiden Luthien Tinuviel (of the New Jersey Tinuviels) are forebears of the kings of Numenor and Gondor. Seeing as how the love story of Beren and Luthien echoes through the millennia in their great-great-many-times-great-grandchildren, it comes as no surprise that a similar fate awaits Aragorn and Arwen’s descendant, Snow White.

The family resemblance would only be uncannier if Steven Tyler cast her in inappropriately weird videos during her early teens.

At this point you may be thinking that we’re smoking too much of that pipe with Gandalf, but have you noticed Snow White’s rapport with the birds and beasts of the wild? The way they listen and respond to her?

Doesn’t this suggest a deep connection with nature, as someone with Elvish blood would have?

(7) COMING ATTRACTIONS. Plenty of genre flicks on Film School Rejects’ “The 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017”.

…[Our] 52 Most Anticipated Movies list is always a big hit because it operates under a simple premise: if you’re going to see one movie for every week of the new year (and you should), these are the ones on which we’d stake a claim. Because we spend a great deal of time thinking about upcoming movies and an even sadder amount of time researching them, we’re exactly the kind of people who are qualified to give out said advice. Qualified enough to say, with confidence, that these 52 movies are likely to be worth your time. They may not all turn out to be great, but they will be worth seeing and discussing throughout the year….

Beauty and the Beast (March 17)

Neil Miller: If we’re being honest?—?and we are at all times?—?Disney’s live-action parade of remakes is actually turning out to be a better idea in practice than it was on paper. Both Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book gave us an interesting take on their respective stories. Neither was the disaster that many, perhaps out of a dedication to an anti-remake stance, had predicted. This is what gives us further hope for Beauty and the Beast, the success of which will rest mostly on the shoulders of Disney’s live-action effects teams and Emma Watson, both of which have proven track records. Six weeks ago, Disney released a trailer that showed off both of these things in action. The Beast effects that cover up Dan Stevens’ handsome mug look good and Emma Watson looks right at home as Belle. We’re still not sure of those CGI housewear items with anamorphic features, but we’ll see how that pans out in the final product.

(8) DUFF VOLUNTEER. Paul Weimer has announced his candidacy for the Down Under Fan Fund.

(9) REMEMBERING RICHARD ADAMS. In 1843 Magazine, Miranda Johnson, an environment correspondent for The Economist, discusses her grandfather Richard Adams, including how Adams’s experiences fighting in Operation Market Garden in World War II informed the battles in Watership Down, how her family all became characters in her grandfather’s novels, and what happened when Adams had lunch with Groucho Marx.

He also never forgot friends he made during his service. One in particular, Paddy Kavanagh, stuck with him for his fearless defence of the Oosterbeek perimeter as part of Operation Market Garden during September 1944. Paddy gave his life so that my grandpa’s platoon could escape. So my grandfather brought him back in the character of Bigwig in “Watership Down”, who stands alone to defend a tunnel in the rabbits’ new warren. Originally in the story, Bigwig also died. But my mother and aunt protested so much that my grandpa changed the tale. “We said nobody must die,” my aunt recalls, “except for Hazel, because it seemed an important part given his old age.”

(10) HOLLYWOOD MEMORIAL. ULTRAGOTHA found the story and JJ tracked down a photo —

Carrie Fisher doesn’t have a Star on the Walk of Fame, so fans appropriated a blank one and are leaving tributes. Including two cinnamon buns.

(11) WWCD 2017. Redbubble is selling merchandise with the WWCD art and giving the money to charity —

100% of the proceeds will be donated to bipolar disorder through the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation: https://bbrfoundation.org/



  • December 30, 1816 — Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft were married.


  • Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku
  • Born December 30, 1982 — Kristin Kreuk.


  • Born December 30, 1865 – Rudyard Kipling

(15) PRINTS IN THE FORECOURT. Filmmaker Roger Corman, a former Worldcon GoH, has been immortalized in concrete at a slightly less well-known theater than you usually think of when it comes to this sort of thing —

Roger Corman may not be a household name, but among movie fans he’s a cult hero.

In October, a tribute was held at the Vista Theatre to celebrate his 62-year career.

The legendary filmmaker was immortalized October 12th in the cement of the Vista’s forecourt with a handprint ceremony, alongside those of Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid; James Bond girl Honor Blackman; special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and Cassandra Peterson—also known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

“I think it’s kind of fun that [my handprints] will be out there forever,” said Corman before burying his hands deep in a patch of cement on the edge of Sunset Drive.

(16) MARS. Charles E. Gannon was part of a Dragon Con panel reported in Space.com“Space Colonies Will Start Out Like the Wild West, Grow Family-Friendly”

Like in the Old West, the goal would be for the colony to become self-sustaining, the panel said. Once a colony could support itself, it would no longer need to rely on materials from Earth to survive. When asked if an organization on Earth could realistically hope to control what was happening on Mars, Davis said, “If they’re still getting their caloric intake from someplace else, yup, you can.” [Poll: Where Should Humanity Build Its First Space Colony?]

Gannon named the biggest challenge facing a colony that aimed to grow independent from the people back home: the supply of volatiles, particularly oxygen and water. The first explorers would need to find a way for colonists to harvest those on the new world, Gannon said.

“If you have to ship those to the colony, it will be both economically and physically dependent and probably never be profitable or really safe,” Gannon said.

Even if an underground colony relied on rocks to shield itself from deadly radiation, it would still need enough water for similar shielding during vehicular missions, he said, making ice harvesting crucial to the colony’s survival.

“There are plenty of other [challenges],” he said. “But this is the minimum ante for long-term self-supportability.”

(17) PLANET NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. NPR tells us “Astronomers Seeking Planet 9 Hope To Soon Catch A Glimpse”.

On the top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea mountain Thursday, astronomers will point the large Subaru Telescope toward a patch of sky near the constellation of Orion, looking for an extremely faint object moving slowly through space.

If they find what they’re looking for, it will be one of the most important astronomical discoveries in more than a century: a new planet in our solar system.

Technically, a new planet hasn’t been discovered since Neptune was spotted in 1846. Pluto, discovered in 1930, was demoted to “dwarf planet” a decade ago. If a new planet is found, it will be the new Planet Nine.

(18) TRADING INSULTS. Huffington Post’s “Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word”  by Laurie Gough, “Award-winning author of three memoirs…a journalist and travel writer”, begins —

As a published author, people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say.

I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish.

The rest of the article carries on in the same condescending tone which so aggravated Larry Correia that he stormed back from a self-imposed internet vacation to write a reply, “Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing” for Monster Hunter Nation. (Gough’s article is quoted in italics. Correia’s replies are bold. Of course they are…)

The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers.

Nope. The problem with self-publishing is that there are so many competitors that the challenge is to differentiate yourself from the herd. Sure, lots of them are crap (I can say the same thing for tradpub too), but if you find a way to market yourself and get your quality product in front of the right market, then you can make quite a bit of money.  

From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature.

From what I’ve seen, I’d say the same thing about the Huffington Post.

As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can.

As an actual editor who gets paid for this stuff, that sentence reads like garbage.

I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.

Only you just described exactly how most real working bands got their start. Add a couple of kids with a guitar and drums, set up in your buddy’s garage, and start jamming. Eventually you will get good enough that you can book some local gigs, and if people like you, they will give you money for your stuff.

Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician.

Nobody gives a crap about “validation”. Validation don’t pay the bills.

(19) MEDIA FAVES. It’s Aliette de Bodard’s turn to bestow Smugglivus year-end cheer at The Book Smugglers.

In media, the most striking thing I watched this year is actually from last year: it was the masterful Doctor Who episode “Heaven Sent”, a tour de force by Peter Capaldi that slowly starts making horrifying sense throughout its length (and that I actually paused and rewatched just to make sure it all hung together — it does and it’s even more impressive on a rewatch). I haven’t had time to consume things from this year: most of my watching has been old things, like Black  Orphan (I can’t believe it took me this long to find out about it, it’s so good, and Tatiana Maslany is just amazing playing all the clones), and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, period mysteries featuring the awesome Phryne Fisher (and her amazing wardrobe).

(20) CATCHING UP WITH CAMESTROS. Doctor Who was on Camestros Felapton’s telly on Christmas — “Review: The Return of Doctor Misterio – 2016 Dr Who Christmas Special”.

In the 2016 Christmas Special, Moffat lays out a gentle Richard Curtis-like romantic comedy but about superheroes and alien brain parasites. No puzzles and an evil invasion plot from the bad guys that echoed both Watchmen and the Aliens of London episode from series 1 of the reboot. A wise choice that made for a funny and light episode.

The episode was not a deconstruction of the superhero genre but played the tropes simply and straight but also at a relatively shallow level. Primarily a play on the Clark Kent/Lois Lane, secret identity, romance angle but with an added play on romantic comedy trope of the woman who somehow can’t see the man she actually is looking for is standing right next to her.

(21) CAMESTROS IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT. Then he dashed out to see the new Star Wars movie – “Review: Rogue One”.

Well, that was fun in a Blake’s 7 sort of way.

What I liked about the film was it had a certain freedom to it. The story has one simple job: by the end of the plot, the plans for the Death Star have to be on a Rebel spaceship pursued by Darth Vader. How to get to point B is undetermined and indeed where point A is to start with nobody knows. Indeed, the film initially is a bit confused about where A is, flitting from one plane to another. However, after some initial rushing around the galaxy, the story comes together.

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, captures a nice sense of both bravado and cynicism as the daughter of the man who designed the Death Star. Her emotional journey isn’t complex but given the number of genre films in which people appear to act incomprehensibly it was nice to have a character whose motivations were personal and direct. Her shift from reluctant rebel to a leader of a commando force is shaped overtly and plausibly by plot events.

(23) CAN’T END TOO SOON. By then the year 2016 was just about done – and Camestros designed the most suitable container for its farewell journey.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, Michael J. Walsh, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]  

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

124 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/30/16 Use File 770; It Softens Your Pixels While You Read The Books. You’re Scrolling In it!

  1. My main housekeeping for the end of 2016 has been getting all of my data off of Livejournal. It’s going to be interesting to see how compromised it will be in the future.

    I confess the coming year terrifies me, but at least places like this will be around. Be safe everyone, and good luck..

  2. Couldn’t go out on NYE due to illness–lost my voice for a few days. Now at home watching That’s Entertainment.

    As I watched amazing performances by Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly, and others, I was reminded of the recent Filer debate about editing. The artists in that film spent hours and hours rehearsing their craft until the execution became wonderfully effortless. That’s the effect I want from the books and stories that I read.

    2 hrs 20 mins till 2017. I’ll probably be asleep by then so say hello to the new year for me.

  3. Sheri S. Tepper’s last book, Fish Tails was badly betrayed by the editor–I think it was probably a version control issue, based on my own publishing experience, but the Prologue is literally word for word identical to a large chunk of a later chapter. Not even a critical bit, just…pages and pages of duplicate text. Some of Tepper’s books have been major emotional touchstones of my life, and yet I still haven’t finished this one because…well, largely the editing, but partly then it will be over.

    It was a lousy year for me for reading fiction. I read a good bit of non-fiction, but I don’t think I topped a dozen novels. I was delighted with Roses and Rot and A Green and Ancient Light and recommend them highly. And for older books, Peter Cline’s 14 kept me glued to the page, Mostly, though, I’m in one of those stretches when it seems like I have seen practically everything already and nothing feels really different enough to be worth the effort. Which is far more about me than the books! Just too many deadlines layered on book tours layered on cons layered on horrible news. At such time, I often wind up with non-fiction. Usually gardening.

    Also, err….I finished my webserial Summer in Orcus a few days ago! You can read it free! It’s neat!

  4. I can’t help thinking that the All Romance eBooks debacle is another aspect of the mainstream/indie/self-pub continuum. Distribution is a major crux of indie/self-pub success. And without access to the more stable, long-established distribution systems available to “traditional” publishing, there are a lot of pitfalls in trying to get your book out to a wide readership. The vulnerabilities of monopolistic outlets like Kindle Direct on the one hand, and the fragility of now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t operations like ARe on the other. We’ve seen that fragility many times before in indie presses that differ from ponzi schemes only in idealistic intent. The Wild West atmosphere that offers enticing opportunities can leave a lot of broken bodies in its wake.

  5. @Everyone: Happy New Year from me, my other half (if only he knew), and Duran Duran, whom we saw tonight. 😀

    SF Reading Count: I read around 30 “books” this year (mostly novels, several novellas, and perhaps inadvertently counting a few short stories). This doesn’t count a few items I probably forgot to mark as read (or mark when I read them); I found a couple like that, so there may be a few more. This includes a few audiobook rereads, but doesn’t count several books I’m partway through. And I’m not sure I was recording stuff great at the start of the year. On the plus side, I found the comment I made here when I finished Johnston’s The Void, which I hadn’t marked as read, so now it’s marked as a 2016 read. 🙂

  6. @Steve Wright: City of Blades was very good; I recommend it! 🙂 There’s some love.

    @Mark: Thanks for the Writertopia update notice. I forgot John Ayliff might be eligible! I liked Belt Three a lot, so now I have two Campbell nominees (him and K.B. Wagers), yay!

    @Cora: “And then there was the Harlequin romance where the heroine had a “look of raptor” on her face during the sex scene. And no, it was not a Chuck Tingle story.”


    @JJ & @Cora: I was very bummed to hear about AllRomance/OmniLit. Not least for the authors, publishers, etc., of course! But as a reader, I liked their site, so I liked buying from them. They always had excerpts, sometimes had small sales on ebooks I bought, etc.

    @RedWombat: Cline’s 14 was awesome! I was sorry I hadn’t discovered/read it in the year of publication, so I could’ve nominated it for a Hugo.

  7. JJ:

    “(a fact-check of this list was performed here)”

    Someone needs to fact-check that fact-check. From the article:

    ““Wild wolves — back in Europe” — True, but it happened in 2015. According to the Telegraph, wild wolves were spotted north of Hamburg, Germany, for the first time in 18 years in February 2015. They had previously been hunted to extinction in Europe.”

    Only if you limit Europe to Germany. Wolves have never been extinct in Sweden nor in several other countries.

  8. And while wild wolves aren’t normally seen around Hamburg (an area which has very little in the way of woodlands and is therefore not exactly suited to wolves), they have been present in other parts of Germany, particularly in the East and South, for more than twenty years now. Wild wolves returned to Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain and they had never been extinct at all in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

  9. 2016: bad to the end
    William Christopher (“Father Mulcahy”).

    And, as it happens, our furnace…

  10. Alas, it is completely dead, and will need to be replaced.

    Just another gift from 2016…

  11. Just wanted to second the recommendation for Our Wombat’s Summer in Orcus. If you don’t hate portal fantasies, it’s definitely worth your time.

  12. Cora on January 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm said:

    My mother said once that well-pumps always go out when you have company. (That time, it was actually the electrical line to the pump. Easy to fix and cheap, for a change. The pump on that well was about 70 meters down.)

  13. @Kyra: Sharing the love for Blake’s Interior Life. I think it is completely unique and brilliantly done.

    I need to get Chambers’ second book…..(NOTE TO SELF).
    Agreeing with you on Obelisk Gate, Mother of Souls, Every Heart a Doorway

    You’re one of the people who inspired me to start trying to track my reading–one of many in this post! *impressive*

    One of my “best reads in 2016 that wasn’t published in 2016” is Meg Elison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife : the second (and completing) novel in the series is due out late February 2017! This is one of the best feminist dystopias (so warning for violence and rape) out there.

    @Arifel: Great list—you reminded me of some I’d forgotten I loved (esp. T. Kingfisher’s The Raven and the Reindeer and Lost Child of Lychford). Moriarty’s series sounds fascinating—I bought the first one! Thanks!

    @Steve Wright: re: Joyce. I admire “Dubliners” immensely; could never make it through Ulysses (hit this brick wall about page 300, and even though it was on my doctoral comps exam list, I couldn’t get past it), and in my wild’n’crazy youth thought if I took Finnegan’s Wake with me on a four day train trip across Canada, I’d be able to concentrate enough to read it. HA! I didn’t make it past page 10.

    Agreeing 150% with your assessment of Tiptree: brilliant work that I can only read in small bits (though unlike Joyce, I read for pleasure—I only read Joyce for classes).

    @Jack Lint, Mike Glyer: title age issue. I remembered Madge immediately when I saw the scroll title (I’m 61). There are a gazillion ads I don’t remember, but hers always stood out because of the focus on women (who were not presented as sex objects). I suspect I’ll remember Flo in the Progressive ads quite a while too for the same reason.

    Red Wombat: re Tepper’s Fish Tails Yes—I was bemused as heck when I saw that repetition. I did finish it (and have re-read it) for my piece on Tepper (which went off to Mike today, after taking over my brain). I’ve been thinking about Tepper’s presence in my life since the early 1980s quite a bit lately.

    Also loved Roses and Rot.

    *Puts Summer in Orcus on list now it’s finished!

  14. Arifel: Arrival of Missives is high on my novella reading agenda based on your review, though I am still hoping the ebook will become more reasonably priced first!

    Well, the publisher, Unsung Stories, was quite chuffed about my review and linked to it on Facebook, so I am kind of hoping that they got my cluehammer about it being too expensive for a lot of SFF readers, and will put it on sale shortly so that it can get a wider audience (really, they’re not doing the author any favors by not discounting it, at least briefly, to increase the readership of it if they’re really hoping for some awards love).

Comments are closed.