Pixel Scroll 2/16/18 There Are Six Pixels On This Scroll: Two At The Rear, Two At The Front And Two Over The Tick Box

(1) 2017 HUGO VIDEO. Worldcon 75 Hugo Ceremony video has been posted. Due to technical difficulties, it omits the first 15 minutes of the event and the first winner presented (Best Fan Artist). They did capture the remaining two-plus hours of the ceremonies. (Oor Wombat’s “Whalefall” acceptance speech begins at 1:48.)

(2) INSPIRED.SPECPO catches up with a longtime poet — “Fairy Tales and Finding Poetic Inspiration: An interview with Ruth Berman”.

Ruth Berman

How did you get started as a writer?
When I was about five, the family took a train trip to Florida during winter vacation.  Looking out the train window at the full moon shining on a lagoon, I felt that it was so beautiful that had to compose a poem about it. As I did not know how to write, I dictated the result to my oldest brother to write down for me so that I could keep it until I could read. (No, I won’t quote it. Five-year-olds don’t compose very good poetry.)

Who are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy influences?
The members of the Twin Cities Sf Poetry writing group and of the Aaardvaark writing group. Anthony Boucher, Poul Anderson, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, Avram Davidson, Terry Pratchett, Fritz Leiber, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll.

What keeps you going as a writer?
Sometimes nothing does. But at some point when I haven’t had any ideas for a long time, something will set me off again, so I try not to worry during the dry spells. I read a lot of non-fiction in the fields of mythology, folktales, history, and science, looking for ideas — sometimes find some in the process, sometimes not. Also sometimes get ideas from other people’s fiction, especially if I disagree with a story. Sometimes, if the situation calls for characters to have coats of arms, it helps to stop and ask myself what a character’s coat of arms is — which I seem to find more helpful than the more usual prompts of asking what music the character likes or hates, what foods, books, clothes — that sort of thing.

(3) LE GUIN TRIBUTE IN PORTLAND. Ursula K. Le Guin’s family says a public tribute is being planned, date to be determined.

Dear readers and friends,

We are deeply honored by the outpouring of affection and admiration for Ursula and her life’s work.

Many have asked whether we are planning a public event to commemorate and honor Ursula; others have asked where one could direct donations in her name.

We are working with Literary Arts to plan a tribute, to be held in April or May 2018 in Portland, free and open to the public.

(4) NO BOOM. The LA Review of Books considers an atomic scientist’s spec-fic story: “Listening to the Dolphins: Leo Szilard on Nuclear War”.

LEO SZILARD’S short story “The Voice of the Dolphins,” published in 1961, imagines a history of the world written in 1990. The story begins with the sentence, “On several occasions between 1960 and 1985, the world narrowly escaped an all-out atomic war.” One of the 20th century’s greatest physicists, Szilard knew whereof he spoke: along with Enrico Fermi, he was responsible for creating the first nuclear chain reaction in 1942. Szilard understood very well the history, physics, and destructive power of the Bomb. He could have chosen to write a tense record of the 1945 explosion at Hiroshima, along the lines of John Hersey’s classic study, or he might have related the history of the Bomb’s invention à la Richard Rhodes. Instead, he chose to write a piece of fiction — dry almost to the point of tedium — about the geopolitical future of the Atomic Age.

His choice is fascinating, not least because it suggests that Szilard’s interests as a man of science extended far beyond the domain of physics into the social and political spheres. His actions belie the sort of caricature of scientists found in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) and other midcentury texts — an autistic tinkerer who leads the world to the brink of destruction by solving a military problem without any thought for the consequences. On the contrary, Szilard’s fiction is a serious attempt to grapple with the ethico-political impact of the epochal invention he in large part helped to author.

(5) CLAIM TO FAME. Kim Huett says, “Time to take it down a notch after writing such a serious post last week. You will note that I am the first person to ever combine Walt Willis and Mystery Science Theater 3000. (I’m possibly the only person who could.)”

Can Huett live up to this boast? Read “The Notorious Bert I. Gordon” and see.

Okay, so now we all know that MST3K is a TV show that revolves around showing a movie of dubious quality and providing a humorous commentary which, in this, the future world of today, is a little thing we like to call riffing. I doubt riffing is a new or revolutionary practise, I imagine people have been moved to talk back to the screen ever since the very first bad movie was shown in front of an audience. I even have evidence of a primitive form of movie riffing happening at a British science fiction convention. Consider this quote from Walt Willis writing about the Loncon in Quandry #22 (edited by Lee Hoffman, August 1952). This particular Loncon (there has been more than one SF convention called this) was held 31 May & 1 June, 1952 and in London of all places:

The final event was a showing of Metropolis, which in a way was the best part of the official programme. This was because there was no incidental music to drown fan comment on the action, some of which was brilliant. Dan Morgan shone especially. When the hero suddenly mimed exaggerated alarm the way they do in silent films and dashed madly for the door Dan remarked “FIRST ON THE RIGHT”. That started it and the whole worthy but rather dull film was enlivened by a ruining commentary from the audience which I wish I had space to quote…

(6) LAST RESTING PLACE. Atlas Obscura has photo features of a number of gravesites, including those of two Inklings —

The bones of C.S. Lewis, one of the 20th century’s literary greats, rest within a peaceful cemetery. Nearby, an etched glass window bearing characters from his most famous fantasy world adds a whimsical touch of childhood magic to the churchyard….

The grave of C.S. Lewis lies within the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry just outside of Oxford. He was buried there in November of 1963, and even today it’s common to find flowers placed atop his tombstone.

The names Lúthien and Beren can be found inscribed on the shared grave of the famous writer and his beloved wife and muse.

The final resting place of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892–1973) and Edith Mary Tolkien (1889-1971) is covered in an abundance flowers, plants, and offerings from fans in the verdant cemetery of Wolvercote in Northern Oxford. They are buried together in a single grave in the Catholic section of the cemetery.


  • February 16, 1923 — In Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen.

(8) THE HORROR. Gizmodo may have violated the Geneva Convention by posting this online — “Man Redefines Horror By Building a Singing Furby Organ”.

(9) AMUSING CONCEIT. Here’s the Black Panther trailer done as an 8-bit game video:

(10) SUPERHEROES LIKE ME. The Washington Post’s David Betancourt interviews Ryan Coogler, who talks about how he has loved comics since he was a kid and how he was brought into the MCU by Nate Moore, Marvel’s only African-American producer: “‘Black Panther’s’ Ryan Coogler has always been searching for superheroes who look like him”.

“I went to the comic book shop that was by my school and asked if they had any black characters,” Coogler recalled.

That was the moment Coogler discovered the Black Panther.

While in film school at University of Southern California, where he graduated in 2011, that love of comics remained — and after Marvel Studios started its connected cinematic universe with 2008’s box office hit “Iron Man,” Coogler began imagining that one day he might direct a superhero movie.

Betancourt has another article about how he is half African-American and half Puerto Rican and is excited about a superhero movie featuring people who look like him: “I’m a 37-year-old Afro-Latino comic nerd. I’ve waited a lifetime for ‘Black Panther.’”

Imagine waiting a lifetime for a hero, at times thinking he’ll never come. Imagine being there when he finally shows up.

That’s the feeling for many of us — fans of color who love superhero culture — as we anticipate the live-action movie debut of the Black Panther, indisputably the greatest black superhero of all time.

In Marvel Cinematic Universe years, it’s only been a decade since 2008’s “Iron Man” introduced a new era of epic, interconnected storytelling on-screen. But for those of us who discovered Black Panther in the comics — the character first appeared in 1966 — the wait has been much longer.

(11) SETI SLOWDOWN. First they need to find intelligent life on earth – the BBC reports “Crypto-currency craze ‘hinders search for alien life'”.

Scientists listening out for broadcasts by extra-terrestrials are struggling to get the computer hardware they need, thanks to the crypto-currency mining craze, a radio-astronomer has said.

Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers want to expand operations at two observatories.

However, they have found that key computer chips are in short supply.

“We’d like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]… and we can’t get ’em,” said Dan Werthimer.

Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining.

“That’s limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, ‘Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?’,” Dr Werthimer told the BBC.

“This is a new problem, it’s only happened on orders we’ve been trying to make in the last couple of months.”

Mining a currency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum involves connecting computers to a global network and using them to solve complex mathematical puzzles.

Here’s an even more direct measure of the impact of this currency mining — “Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm”.

Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.

This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centres is likely to exceed that of all Iceland’s homes, according to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson.

He said many potential customers were keen to get in on the act.

(12) SEVENTH DOCTOR WHO RETURNS. BBC Worldwide Americas and Titan Comics are bringing back the Seventh Doctor for a new three-part comic series stars the Seventh Doctor, as played by Sylvester McCoy, alongside classic companion Ace (Sophie Aldred).

Hitting stores and digital platforms in June 2018 with a double-sized first issue, DOCTOR WHO: THE SEVENTH DOCTOR #1, written by Seventh Doctor script editor and showrunner Andrew Cartmel, and writer Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London). Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor expands Titan Comics’ hugely popular and critically acclaimed Doctor Who comics line.

Actor Sylvester McCoy starred as the Seventh Doctor from 1987 to 1989 anchoring hundreds of novels and comic strips before regenerating in the 1996 TV movie. As well as this new comic, the Seventh Doctor’s era lives on in a tremendously successful series of audios from Big Finish. McCoy’s portrayal as the Doctor was, at first, a light-hearted eccentric who darkened into a secretive, mysterious, and cunning planner across the course of his tenure.

In Titan Comics’ new mini-series, an unknown alien intelligence in orbit around the Earth. Astronauts under attack. A terrifying, mysterious landing in the Australian interior. The future of the world itself at stake. Counter Measures activated. The Seventh Doctor and Ace are slap bang in the middle of it all! This is OPERATION VOLCANO!

(13) EVIL EMPIRE. Eric Chesterton, in the MLB.com piece  “The Yankees Will Give Away An Aaron Judge Jedi Bobblehead For Star Wars Night,”  have a picture of the Coveted Collectible that all Filers who are Yankees fans will have to have!

(14) DESPITE POPULAR DEMAND. The irresistible charm of exactly what? explains why “Michael Fassbender is starring in a feature-length sequel to Kung Fury”.

The retro ’80s mash-up short Kung Fury made the improbable leap from kitschy Kickstarter project to the Cannes Film Festival, and now it will be getting a feature-length sequel starring Prometheus and Steve Jobs star Michael Fassbender. Variety reports that the creator and star of the original Kung Fury, David Sandberg, is also set to appear in the movie as the titular hero. David Hasselhoff, who had a role in the short, is also expected to return.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., Rev. Bob, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, Kim Huett, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/16/18 There Are Six Pixels On This Scroll: Two At The Rear, Two At The Front And Two Over The Tick Box

  1. 12) “Who are you calling *small*?”

    Who doesn’t love Ace? Willing to take on Dalek’s with a supercharged baseball bat? Heck, I think you need to go back to Jamie and Barbara (who drove over a Dalek as I recall) for that level of companion badass.

  2. 14) I misread it and thought, “How did I miss the first Hong Kong Fuey movie?” Then after my brain kicked in, I thought, “Why has there not been a Hong Kong Fuey movie?”

  3. Mourn with me the death of my Boskone plans for tomorrow.

    Rejoice with me that my variant SJW credential, Dora, is clearly recovering from her dietary indiscretion and subsequent upset tummy.

  4. (5) The scene in “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” where the rude mechanicals are performing Pyramis and Thisbe, while its audience criticizes it in real time is very much a prototypical MST3K.

    I had a time like that myself once, when Somtow Sucharitkul came to a comic shop (Mega City in the Norfolk, VA, area) in the late 80s, and showed his movie, THE LAUGHING DEAD, and seemed to quite enjoy the running commentary his audience provided. We didn’t do any skits, though.

  5. Why is May 4th “naturally” when the Star Wars bobblehead is given away?

    “May the Fourth be with you”?

  6. 5):

    the whole worthy but rather dull film was enlivened by a ruining commentary from the audience

    May I just say that I am in love with the phrase “ruining commentary” although I expect that wasn’t actually what was intended …

    (which, to be clear, “ruining” is in the original linked article as well)

  7. Paul Weimer on February 16, 2018 at 6:32 pm said:
    12) “Who are you calling *small*?”
    Who doesn’t love Ace?

    Me, for one. I found her “I’m a Cockney rebel as written by middle-class BBC scriptwriters” schtick very wearing after about the first five minutes. There was, IIRC, some discussion at the time about who the Doctor’s new companion was going to be, and I always wished they’d picked Rachel from “Delta and the Bannermen” instead – her bag of tools offered much more potential than Ace’s bag of bombs….

    However. They did do some interesting things with Ace’s character (though it’s telling, I feel, that she’s at her most interesting when she’s being psychologically manipulated by the Doctor to the point of actual abuse), and it’d be good to see more of Cartmel’s grand designs.

  8. 11) As someone on Mastodon put it last year… for a time, Earth’s spare computing power was being used to search for alien intelligence. Then a shadowy figure who has never been properly identified or seen in public introduced bitcoin, and diverted all that effort elsewhere.

  9. I happened to read Sophie Aldred’s piece on voice acting work in Uncanny issue 18 yesterday.

    She’s writing about the work in general, not just Who, but she does have a fun description of what she has to do, to get in the zone to do a Sylvester McCoy voice.

  10. We always scrolled in the castle

    I still don think a featurelomg Kung Fury is a good idea. There is just an upper limit on senselessness before its get boring. But lets see.

  11. @Greg:

    Maybe that’s the plan – using Bitcoin to build up the amount of computing power in the world as a home for our future cyber-overlords (whom, I, for one, welcome).

  12. (11) Frisbie was telling me about it Wednesday at lunch – he’s building a matched pair of PCs for himself and his wife, and wants the high-power graphics cards for reasons. ISTR he said there was a limit of one from the supplier, so each of them ordered one. There’s other parts also in short supply, but part of it is him wanting stuff that’s compatible with older hardware and software. (Most people aren’t going to be doing tape backups with their PCs.)

  13. I have a question for this well-informed group. Can you think of specific books that include, at the back, some kind of discography or play list that represents either what the author was listening to when they wrote the book, or perhaps an imaginary soundtrack for the story? In a recent conversation with a friend, I was amazed to learn that she had never heard of such a thing. I thought it was fairly common, but I’m embarrassed to admit that now I can’t think of any specific examples.

  14. Estee: soundtracks.

    I would have to dig through my shelves, but my general recollection is that they ones I’ve seen are mostly by women authors writing urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

  15. @estee: All of the Kitty Norville books by Carrie Vaughn have lists of songs that Vaughn was either listening to while writing the books or are thematically associated with the action of the book (or possibly both). I think George R. R. Martin’s “Armageddon Rag” also has a list of songs he was listening to (or thinking of) while writing that book, though I’m not sure.

  16. @ Estee

    Playlists or references to specific artists do happen but for the life of me, I can’t remember any specific examples either. Offhand, the only thing I can think of Richard Kadrey embedding actual real-life band references in his Sandman Slim series. It’s nice to see another Birthday Party fan in SF/F.

  17. To chime along with @robinareid, Yasmine Galenorn’s urban fantasy books have extensive playlists.

  18. @estee: I remember reading one of Robert Rankin’s novels which had a suggested soundtrack, but I forget which one and none of the books are nearby to check. Possibly A DOG CALLED DEMOLITION, but possibly that’s just me pinning this recollection to the first of his novels I ever read.

  19. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon, with thanks to Dr. Strangemind for Canberra days:

    Telling us of Walt Willis, Metropolis,
    Kim Huett thought it would top the list.
    They decried 4e’s taste,
    But they’d better make haste
    Lest the Ackerghost cry out “I’ll stop all this!”

    * * *
    Your fan,

  20. Not SFF but I’m relatively certain George Pelecanos at least mentions some of what he was listening to while writing his novels.

  21. (11) SETI SLOWDOWN. Sad. I recommend people use BOINC instead, to contribute spare computing power “to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research. It’s safe, secure, and easy.” You can even help SETI, though I contribute to the World Community Grid projects.

    @estee: I’m familiar with authors mentioning this information on their web sites; I may have seen it listed in a book once or twice, but can’t recall. Though Saturn Returns (Astropolis #1) by Sean Williams goes a bit further; Williams named one character, Render, from a Gary Numan song title, and everything Render says comes from Gary Numan lyrics. It’s sort of is a very specialized subset, in a way, of what you’re asking about. 😉 (He does list a bunch of Gary Numan music and explains it, in an appendix at the end of the book.)

  22. @ Greg Hullender

    The problem with that is that they are running the GPU’s maxed out 24 hours a day. The cards are not designed for that so even if the bubble does not burst anytime soon they are going to start flooding the secondary market with burned out crap in a few months.

    It’s like I told a friend of mine. “Bitcoin is actually made by running computer parts through an arc furnace and minting the slag.”

  23. Emma Bull gave a bit of a playlist recommendation at the end of Bone Dance. I know I’ve seen other examples, but I’m having trouble placing them at the moment.

  24. Can you think of specific books that include, at the back, some kind of discography or play list that represents either what the author was listening to when they wrote the book, or perhaps an imaginary soundtrack for the story
    As soon as I read this, I knew that I had read some but then for the life of me couldn’t think of one. It seems to me that something I read by Harlan Ellison mentioned music he listened to while writing (the guy who wrote the music to those Italian westerns springs to mind) .
    I think the ones I did read were full of music listings by bands and musicians I either didn’t know or didn’t like, so I just grazed by them.

  25. Oddly enough, when I read or write, I stop hearing whatever might be playing. I no longer bother to put on a CD when I have work to do–I’d hear the first track or two and then nothing until I took a break and noticed the silence.

  26. von Dimpleheimer: “Why has there not been a Hong Kong Fuey movie?”

    They tried. As live-action, with Eddie Murphy voicing the title character. They failed. So did the attempt to do likewise with Marvin the Martian.

    I remember seeing the test footage for both, which is still findable on YouTube. I don’t recommend the experience.

  27. Re: playlists. Emma Bull would at minimum mention a song or two in her bio at the back of her books, has included track lists and has named chapters after pop songs. These days I think writers are more likely to put such info on their blogs. I know Elizabeth Bear did.

    I think the most striking thing of that sort in my recollection was Charles De Lint putting the actual sheet music for some Celtic jigs and reels etc at the back of the Little Country.

  28. @Joe H, Lenora Rose:
    Considering that Emma Bull was a member of the band Cats Laughing, along with Steven Brust, Jane Yolen’s son Adam Stemple, and others, I would be more surprised if she hadn’t given playlists.

  29. I think some of Seanan McGuire’s books come with playlists (printed in the back, not integrated into the text the way some of the music is woven into War for the Oaks. .

  30. At least one of Eleanor Farjeon’s fairy tale books has an appendix describing the children’s song and game on which the story was based. I’m pretty sure there was music included. And she was writing many decades ago.

  31. Jenora Feuer: I was actually meaning aside from the songs she’s written herself, which are to me a different kettle entirely from the songs she was listening to as inspiration to write. Although having mentioned de Lint including compositions I suppose did muddy those waters.

    (I’m more of a Flash Girls fan than a Cats Laughing one by far.)

  32. @estee: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home had a soundtrack of music composed as imagined how the protagonist far-future people would have played it (on instruments invented for the occasion).

Comments are closed.