Pixel Scroll 2/1/23 By Scrollthar’s Pixel

(1) HUGO I.O.U. The Chengdu Worldcon’s Chinese-language website added a post today with the (computer-translated) headline: “The 2023 Hugo Award call for nominations is opening soon”. But there’s only a headline, no article – plus a playable 15-second audio sound effect.

No corresponding post was made to the convention’s English-language website.

(2) SPSFC UPDATE. Rcade’s Team ScienceFiction.news, in the midst of the second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, is “Announcing Our SPSFC Semifinalists”. The titles are revealed at the link.

Each of the 10 teams judging the Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) chooses three books from their allotments to be semifinalists.

After two months of reading, the ScienceFiction.news team has selected these three books as tribute. They will be sent to the Capitol, where they will engage in ferocious battle against the 27 books chosen by other teams until only one book remains standing.

Even a young adult book can be sent into battle in the SPSFC Games….

(3) TODAY IN HISTORY. The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on 1 February 1, 2003. It had been in use since 1981. 

In the BBC’s “Witness History – Columbia space shuttle disaster”, Iain Mackness spoke to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. The admiral’s report led to the ending of the American space shuttle program in 2011. 

The BBC World Service first broadcast this episode in 2019. 

(4) OMERTA IN THE CINEMA. Dayten Rose chronicles the “Spoiler Alert History: No Alarms and No Surprises, Please” at Tedium.

…When “spoiler warnings” got out of hand

Alfred Hitchcock got what he wanted.

On set, he had a reputation as a manipulator. That’s according to Diane Baker, as quoted in Tony Lee Moral’s Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, alongside other accounts of his abusive relationship with Tippi Hedren.

Out of context, Hitchcock’s obsession with preserving the secrecy of Psycho looks a lot like a publicity stunt. He bought as many copies as he could of the novel he had adapted; he hired the famously non-controversial (sarcasm) Pinkerton security guards to bar late entry to the film; there were no private screenings; there were no pre-release interviews.

In the context of Alfred Hitchcock, his controlling air set a dangerous precedent for the future of Hollywood. The modern media embargo is the crater left behind by his meteoric ego….

(5) DIRECT FROM KRYPTON TO YOUR HEART. “Superman in Starring Role as DC Studios Unveils Strategy” reports the New York Times.

Superman is returning to theaters — only now, along with saving the world, he has to prove that Warner Bros. has finally, without question, it means it this time, found a winning superhero strategy.

DC Studios, a newly formed Warner division dedicated to superhero content, unveiled plans on Tuesday to reboot Superman onscreen for the first time in a generation, tentatively scheduling the yet-to-be-cast “Superman: Legacy” for release in theaters in July 2025. James Gunn, known for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is writing the screenplay and may also direct the movie, which will focus on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing.

“He is kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old-fashioned,” said Peter Safran, chief executive of DC Studios, a title he shares with Mr. Gunn.

Moreover, “Superman: Legacy” will begin a story that will unfold (Marvel style) across at least 10 interconnected movies and TV shows and include new versions of Batman, Robin, Supergirl, Swamp Thing and Green Lantern. Those marquee DC Comics characters will be joined by lesser-known personalities from the DC library, including Creature Commandos and Booster Gold, a time traveler. One of the shows will explore Themyscira, the mythical island home of Wonder Woman.

The 10 projects will roll out over four to five years — at which time a second batch of related films and shows will be announced, expanding the “Superman: Legacy” saga to nearly a decade and perhaps helping David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, to keep a promise to Wall Street about growth….

(6) MIC DROPS OF KNOWLEDGE. Jean-Paul L. Garnier advises writers about “Mic Technique for Live Readings and Panels” at the Dream Foundry.

As an author, you will probably find yourself reading live at events at some time or another and it’s important to make yourself heard by your audience Paying attention to how a microphone works can greatly enhance your performance, and the audibility of your reading. After all, you are there to share your work with an audience, so it is worth doing what you can to make sure that they can hear you well and enjoy the performance without straining. It can be the difference between coming off as a professional rather than an amateur….


1958 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

A bit of bookkeeping: though I called this series First Paragraphs last Scroll, but I’m renaming it Beginnings as I want to quote more than the first paragraph if need be. Such will be the case with the selection tonight if the beginning of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time

This rather short novel, which is my favorite work by him, won a Hugo at Solacon.  I think it’s the only work I’ve read that takes place in a single location, but it really does strongly resemble a theater piece. 

It was published originally in two parts by Galaxy Magazine in March and April 1958 issues with illustrations by Virgil Finlay. 

Ace Books published the first paperback edition in 1965, and Gregg Press would eventually do a hardcover edition which I know I owned at some point. 

My name is Greta Forzane. Twenty-nine and a party girl would describe me. I was born in Chicago, of Scandinavian parents, but now I operate chiefly outside space and time—not in Heaven or Hell, if there are such places, but not in the cosmos or universe you know either. 

I am not as romantically entrancing as the immortal film star who also bears my first name, but I have a rough-and-ready charm of my own. I need it, for my job is to nurse back to health and kid back to sanity Soldiers badly roughed up in the biggest war going. This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers—in fact, our private name for being in this war is being on the Big Time. Our Soldiers fight by going back to change the past, or even ahead to change the future, in ways to help our side win the final victory a billion or more years from now. A long killing business, believe me. 

You don’t know about the Change War, but it’s influencing your lives all the time and maybe you’ve had hints of it without realizing. 

Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to be bringing you exactly the same picture of the past from one day to the next? Have you ever been afraid that your personality was changing because of forces beyond your knowledge or control? Have you ever felt sure that sudden death was about to jump you from nowhere? Have you ever been scared of Ghosts—not the storybook kind, but the billions of beings who were once so real and strong it’s hard to believe they’ll just sleep harmlessly forever? Have you ever wondered about those things you may call devils or Demons—spirits able to range through all time and space, through the hot hearts of stars and the cold skeleton of space between the galaxies? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, you’ve had hints of the Change War.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1884 Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into Russian a number of H.G. Wells’ works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Dispossessed and Brave New World. No idea if this passes the straight face test. What do y’all think of this claim? (Died 1937.)
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Animator, film director and producer. Let’s see…  Destination MoonWhen Worlds CollideThe War of the WorldsConquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Bibi Besch. Best remembered for portraying Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre-wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors (SF). She died much, much too young following a long battle with breast cancer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. His later films include Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. It’s worth noting that he wrote the screenplay for the original Labyrinth screenplay but it’s thought that nothing of that made it to the shooting script. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called   Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 69. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre role was at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie he’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” Then in Bewitched he’s Darrin the Boy  in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before Our Gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here except to say that’s it’s still happening as it just happened again and damn well shouldn’t be happening, should it? (Died 1993.)

(9) THE PITS. SYFY Wire cheers as “NBC Keeps The Sci-Fi Sinkhole Open! Time Travel Mystery Series ‘La Brea’ Renewed For Season 3”.

NBC will once again head down the primordial rabbit hole in a third season of La Brea, the network has announced….

Described by NBC as an “epic family adventure,” La Brea revolves around a group of characters fighting for their survival after a mysterious sinkhole in downtown Los Angeles sends them to a primeval land forgotten by time. A second storyline takes place “above ground,” where those who did not fall into the strange pit attempt to solve the mystery of what caused it to open up in the first place. The story has only gotten more ambitious and sci-fi as its unfolded, with everything from future conspiracies and time travel now playing a part in the narrative.

“This story is about this family that’s been separated. Half the family falls into the sinkhole, while the other half stays behind in modern Los Angeles,” creator and showrunner David Appelbaum told SYFY WIRE after the series premiere. “And what was really important for the storytelling is that you have ways to connect these two stories. Even though they’re separated, we find different ways that we can connect the story. In this search for how do we tell it in a unified story, that was really the genesis of [the series] idea.”…

However, Deadline thinks they might not get a full season: “NBC’s ‘La Brea’ Likely To End With Abbreviated Season 3 As Networks Start Building Strike Contingency”.

… I have learned that the pickup is for six episodes and that it was influenced by the possibility of a writers and/or directors and actors strike, with this likely being the show’s final chapter. Filming is slated to begin in March in Australia.

With the current WGA contract expiring May 1 and the DGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts up June 30, a potential work stoppage could impact the start of production on the new broadcast season, leaving the networks without fresh episodes of scripted series for the first few weeks of the fall.

Possibly with that in mind, I hear NBC approached the cast of La Brea about doing a short third season. Because the series regulars have a 10-episode minimum guarantee (meaning that they have to be paid at least 10 episodic fees a season regardless of how many episodes are produced), the network and sister studio Universal Television asked the cast to reduce their contractual minimum guarantees to six episodes, sources said. In exchange, I hear the actors were offered a release from the show after Season 3 — which they took — making them available to take other jobs. (A typical broadcast series regular contract is for six seasons.)…

(10) RARE EARTHS. In case you weren’t around in 1977 and would like to know… “Star Trek: Leonard Nimoy explains How Television Works – 1977 vintage tech electronics”.

The following film is an excerpt from a rare 1977 documentary on How Television Works, featuring Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy as the narrator and presenter. The film is in full color with animation and excellent vintage footage of early television technology, including early video tape recording (VTR) machines. The original film is about 22 minutes long. We have obtained a 16mm print and will preserve it. This is a 7 minute excerpt highlighting Leonard Nimoy’s narration of the technology behind early television up to the 1970’s.

(11) WHAT PEOPLE WATCHED IN JANUARY. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 lists for the month of January.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceSeverance
2M3GANThe Peripheral
3NopeThe Rig
4Jurassic World DominionDoctor Who
6InterstellarStargate SG-1
7Spider-Man: No Way HomeQuantum Leap
8Strange DaysThe X-Files
9Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindWar of the Worlds
10VesperThe Handmaid’s Tale

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(12) DARTH’S BROTHER HAL. ScreenRant tempts readers to click through with its take that “2001 As Directed By George Lucas Is A Very Different Movie”.

…In 2001: A Space Odyssey Directed By George Lucas?, Kubrick’s famously glacial and brooding movie about a mission to Jupiter is transformed into a whiz-bang action movie. In this version of 2001, Dave Bowman has commandeered one of the Discovery One’s shuttles for an all-out battle against psychotic computer HAL 9000, climaxing in a moment that would make Luke Skywalker proud….

Made me smile, but not laugh out loud: “’2001: A Space Odyssey’ directed by George Lucas”.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Stalled, a man goes to a public restroom — and gets trapped in a time paradox.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Ingvar.]

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25 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/1/23 By Scrollthar’s Pixel

  1. 1st !!

    Bill Mumy reprised the role of Anthony Freeman on the UPN Revival of The Twilight Zone in 2003 in an episode entitled “It’s Still A Good Life” featuring his daughter Lianna as Anthony’s daughter who is even more powerful than Anthony
    I remember him in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1961 entitled “Bang, You’re Dead” where he played a young boy who found a loaded pistol in his uncle’s suitcase and thinking it is a toy intended as a gift, takes it and begins playing cowboy. His mother and uncle discover the missing gun and franticly search for him before he shoots someone.

  2. Billy Mumy–“Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” was his I Dream of Jeannie episode. “Junior Executive” was his Bewitched episode, playing the young Darrin Stevens, husband of Samantha Stevens.

    Barely functional right now, leaving my brain free to kick up picky details and annoy all

  3. 12). The George Lucas 2001 is FAR superior to the original. Kubrick was a hack who’s movies moved at glacial speed, making them boring (exceptions to Dr. Strangelove and Spartacus). I will never forgive him for the bloated monstrosity of Barry Lyndon.

  4. (5) But we just passed the season when people all over the world lament that their favorite alien is missing.
    No El, no El
    No El, no El
    Where is the son of Lara and Jor-El?
    (6) Lesson #1: SWALLOW THE BLOODY MIKE! Do not hold it a yard from your mouth.
    (9) Half the family vanishes, and the other half doesn’t. And now they’re trying to figure out what happened. Nope, nothing at all like a small mining town in WV disappearing, and folks here trying to figure out what happened….
    (12) No. 2001 was perfect as it was. Not every damn thing on film has to be all about Explosions! And Fist Fights!….

  5. Lis Carey: One of my best mistakes ever. I went to IMDB to check the I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched credits because what we had looked backwards, discovered that it was, then blithely went on without fixing the mistake I just checked. Glyer, remember to switch on brain!

  6. We really should mention on of Bill Mumy’s most famous roles–that of Art Barnes in the singing duo Barnes & Barnes, the creators of Fish Heads:

  7. 8) I’ve heard of Conquest of Space, but am not sure if I’ve seen it. I have vague recollections of reading some kind of comic book or a magazine with photo illustrations, but I’m not sure if it was from Conquest of Space or if it was from the Disney 1950s live action space stuff.

    (Also, there seems to be some kind of duplication in Pal’s film credits?)

  8. Lis Carey says Possibly your brain needed some caffeine? Or ice cream. Mmm. Ice cream.

    Speaking of ice cream, I actually finally bought a pint of the Ben & Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream ice cream. I won’t say it’ll be added to my regular rotation of ice cream pints but it wasn’t bad. Just not great either.

  9. 7) My favorite aspect of The Big Time is the crazy mixture of speaking styles and idioms, just what one should expect given the nature of the cast. Particularly the Cretan saying everything in measured cadences.

    12) Now wait for the revised Director’s Cut, in which Lucas carefully excises everything that made the original version popular, for reasons no one else can understand.

  10. 11) I recommend The Rig. It starts out looking like it’s going to be horror, but becomes more.

    @Troyce: I’d submit Full Metal Jacket as being well-paced. I think the first half is the best work of his that I’ve seen.

  11. I’ll be interested to see what James Gunn does with DC, I watched the video ( https://youtu.be/wY8XcmrIujE ) and am not exactly sure. Peacemaker was good fun, Joker excellent but when I look at the output to date from DC there’s been amazing work but overall personally it’s so much miss rather than hit, which is a shame. It’s a big step up too.
    And who can better Terrence Stamp as Zod…

  12. (8) For the longest time I thought Mumy had played “Uncle Martin’s” Martian nephew Andromeda (Andy) in My Favorite Martian but that was a fellow named Wayne Stam.

    “This year, let’s go to Heimdall’s Bed and Bifrost for vacation”

  13. Yevgeny Zamyatin… I can see points in common between We and both Huxley’s and Orwell’s dystopias – as with Huxley, sex in Zamyatin’s dystopia is a state-mandated distraction, but, as with Orwell, it’s also an opportunity to be subversive (because during sex is the one time you’re allowed any privacy at all in this panopticon state.) The Dispossessed is more of a reach – the protagonists are both dissident scientists, I guess, and the Anarres system of naming everyone by a machine-generated random combination of syllables might have something in common with We, where no one has a name, just a serial number (the heroic protagonist is called D-503). Other than that, though, Le Guin’s Anarres and Zamyatin’s One State are very different places indeed.

  14. 8) I agree with our nameless Wiki writer with respect to Nineteen Eight-Four and Brave New World. I’ve yet to read The Dispossessed. We was also a criticism of the newly created Soviet Union’s abusive policies. It was the first book (or one of the first books) banned by the Soviet censorship board and, coupled with his other works, led to Zamyatin fleeing the country.

    When I was 14, I thought, ‘How wonderful to be a science fiction writer. I’d like to do that.’ I have never lost touch with that ambitious 14-year-old, and I can’t help chuckling and thinking, ‘You did it, and you did it right.’ – Robert Silverberg

  15. Fritz Leiber’s “The Big Time” is one of those books I have six or eight copies of already and look at them on the shelf and think, “Is this all there are?” And go out and buy another one. It’s that good a book, that brilliant a concept. No one but Fritz Leiber would have the guts to take a concept that spans all of space, all of time, and confine the telling of its tale to one room — and turn it into a locked room mystery, to boot!

    Like many others, I’d love to see it performed live on stage. Seems to me the way to do it would be to have two performers playing Greta Forzane., costumed and made up identically, one playing the character on stage, the other as the narrator who roams the audience. And because the Changeworld is such a weird place, at times they would change places without warning.

    And now I want to read the book again.

  16. Mm-re George Pal (another one of my cinematographic heroes), I do love in his 1960 version of “The Time Machine”, the hero speeds up time and then looks out the window at the store opposite. The quickly, ever changing, hemlines (as fashions change) on the model in that store, always amuses me….

  17. The Chinese language website may have had a Hugo announcement (with at least on my computer an unplayable audio snippet) but to me the photo of the book that had an English subtitle of An Oral History of Chinese Science Fiction looked very interesting. Unfortunately, I could not find evidence that it has been translated into English or any other language that uses the Latin alphabet.

  18. Zamyatin certainly influenced Orwell (although his is a very different kind of dystopia, and carries different messages, some that fit better our age than 1984), that’s acknowledged. ‘We’ as a novel is much better than the rushed ‘Brave New World’, which falls apart as a work of art. Huxley claimed he had never read Zamyatin, and that could well be true, what he apparently had read and been influenced by was another dystopia, ‘What Not’ by Rose Macaulay.

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