Pixel Scroll 2/16/23 My AI Is Up Here

(1) MISPLACED FEAR. Behind a paywall in The Atlantic, Margaret Atwood tells the answer to “Who’s Afraid of The Handmaid’s Tale?” Chosen as the magazine’s “One Story to Read Today”, her piece was given this introduction:

A Virginia school board recently demanded the removal of The Handmaid’s Tale from school-library shelves. Its author, Margaret Atwood, replied in the form of an Atlantic essay this past weekend, arguing that trying to stop young people from reading something will only make them want to read it more. “Has sex become too readily available?” she writes. “Banal, even? A boring chore? If so, what better way to make it fascinating again than to prohibit all mention of it?”

The article begins:

It’s shunning time in Madison County, Virginia, where the school board recently banished my novel The Handmaid’s Tale from the shelves of the high-school library. I have been rendered “unacceptable.” Governor Glenn Youngkin enabled such censorship last year when he signed legislation allowing parents to veto teaching materials they perceive as sexually explicit.

This episode is perplexing to me, in part because my book is much less sexually explicit than the Bible, and I doubt the school board has ordered the expulsion of that. Possibly, the real motive lies elsewhere. The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family generated the list of “unacceptable” books that reportedly inspired the school board’s action, and at least one member of the public felt the school board was trying to “limit what kids can read” based on religious views. Could it be that the board acted under the mistaken belief that The Handmaid’s Tale is anti-Christian?…

(2) IMAGINARY PAPERS. Today the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

In this issue, environmental humanities scholar Pamela Carralero writes about the Scottish climate fiction graphic novel IDP: 2043, computer scientist Judy Goldsmith writes about ethics-focused approaches to E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” and futurist Suzette Brooks Masters writes about a new report on imagining better futures for democracy.

(3) SPEAK SOFTLY. “Michael Dorn trolled Star Trek haters with Worf voice in elevator” at EW.

Dorn — who, as Klingon character Worf, had to routinely endure hours of prosthetic makeup — recalled the interaction Thursday as part of The View‘s special Star Trek: The Next Generation cast reunion. The reunion was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, who reprised her role as Guinan from the series as the ABC set transformed into the sci-fi show’s Ten Forward lounge….

(4) FOSTER Q&A. Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff conducts “The Big Interview” with Alan Dean Foster.

Alan Dean Foster is a living legend of science fiction and fantasy. He has written over 60 novels across multiple original series but is perhaps best known for his novelisations of film scripts including Star Trek, The Thing, Alien, and of course, he was the ghostwriter for the original Star Wars novel.

(5) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA has released episode 60 of Simultaneous Times on all streaming services including Podomatic. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Turf War 2200” by Matthew Sanborn Smith – with music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier
  • “Dinosaur Personal Ads” by Sarina Dorie – with music by Fall Precauxions. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier


1908[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

There are classics in children’s literature, and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is definitely one of them. 

It was first published by Methuen in 1908. Most of you probably know the Arthur Rackham illustrated version but that isn’t the quoted edition as that was the Limited Editions Club in 1940 which was, errr, a limited edition with a slipcase. This has a frontpiece illustrated by Graham Robertson as shown below. No other illustrations.

No, I don’t know what young children or Eden have to do with The Wind in the Willows but it’s been a long time since I read it.

I think that it’s a quintessential English novel of manners with animals representing the various English human characters you’d find in other novels. The closet comparison I think of oddly enough is the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Not sure why. 

I’ve read it a number of times and it’s always a delight. The characters are well drawn, the setting is fun and the situations are humorous to say the least. 

And now the Beginning…

THE Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said, “Bother!” and “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

“This is fine!” he said to himself. “This is better than whitewashing!” The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 16, 1938 Chuck Crayne. An important conrunner who died before his time. (I’m quoting Mike there, so please don’t complain.) He was a LASFS member who was most active during the Sixties and Seventies. You can read Mike’s full post on him here. (Died 2009.)
  • Born February 16, 1953 Mike Glyer, 70. I decide to let one of y’all give him Birthday greeting so let’s hear Paul Weimer do it: “I first became of the inestimable Mr. Glyer because of seeing his name in Locus, multiple times, for something called File 770. When I found it online and started to read the blog, I only stepped in the middle of a stream of decades long science fiction fandom that has been his pole star. Mr. Glyer’s fandom has been an inspiration and model for myself, and doubtless, many others. I am glad that I have helped in my own small way to help with the edifice of SF fandom that he has created and in a very real way, embodies. Although I still have not yet managed to meet him in person, I am proud to call him a friend. Happy Birthday Mike!”
  • Born February 16, 1954 Iain M. Banks. I’m certain I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas, are also my favs. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 16, 1957 Ardwight Chamberlain, 66. The voice of Kosh on Babylon 5. And that tickles me, as I don’t think they credited it during the series, did they? Most of his other voice work English dubbing versions of Japanese anime including Digimon: Digital Monsters and The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island.
  • Born February 16, 1964 Christopher Eccleston, 59. The Ninth Doctor who’s my third favorite among the new ones behind David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker. Other genre work includes 28 Days LaterThe SeekerG.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraThor: The Dark WorldThe LeftoversThe Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre


(9) BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A few more “Happy 100th, Charles Schultz” comic strips that I’m told were not in the Schulz Museum tribute list previously linked.

(10) IT COULD BE SFF. [Item by Alan Baumler.] A snippet from a review by Abigail Nussbaum which made me, at least, want to read the book. “Telluria by Vladimir Sorokin” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

I’ve been waiting a while for Strange Horizons to run my review of Vladimir Sorokin’s 2013 novel Telluria, published last year by NYRB Classics with a translation by Max Lawton. I wasn’t familiar with Sorokin, a Russian writer who began his career poking at the foibles of the Soviet Union, and has continued to do the same with Putin’s Russia, before picking up this book. But the premise intrigued me, not least because it seemed to intersect with science fiction. Telluria is part of a loose sequence of novels which all take place in a post-post-Soviet setting which Sorokin has dubbed the New Middle Ages, in which familiar geopolitical entities have fractured and new battle lines have been drawn. In this novel, Sorokin introduces the titular drug, which produces euphoria by transporting users to a world where their deepest desires are realized—desires that can be political or ideological as well as personal.

(11) GOOD ITALIAN WOOD, GOOD ITALIAN IRON. “Factory Photos Show Fully Private Space Station Under Construction” at Futurism.

Space startup Axiom Space is making significant progress on its all-private space station dubbed Axiom Station, which it claims will be “the successor to the International Space Station.”

Images shared by former NASA astronaut Micahel López-Alegría, who was part of the startup’s first all-private astronaut mission to the ISS last April, show massive segments of the Axiom Station being fabricated at a factory in Italy….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Alan Baumler, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Kathy Sullivan, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/16/23 My AI Is Up Here

  1. 7) Christopher Eccleston is my FAVORITE DOCTOR OF ALL TIME, bar none. At the moment…

  2. Hope it was a happy birthday indeed, Mike.
    (1) Not “anti-Christian”, but rather anti-what-they are.
    (11) Good Italian wood, good Italian iron”. sigh I sincerely hope they have a metallurgist or three involved. My late ex, who was an engineer at the Cape for 17 years, told me about the Italian module back in the nineties that she had to reject, and have them rebuild part of, because they had used the wrong metal (aluminum? brass? been too many years) to fasten to stainless, and it would have corroded, the metals being incompatible. (For example, https://www.monarchmetal.com/blog/galvanic-corrosion-common-questions-answered/ )

  3. (7) Mike Glyer – happy birthday and best wishes.
    (7) Iain M. Banks – although published as non -genre in the UK as by Iain Banks in 1984, and identified as non-genre on ISFDB, I contend that his first novel “The Wasp Factory” is psychological horror. It’s pretty damn good for a first novel.

  4. Happy birthday, Mike!

    Nicky claims Cider sent you a picture, but he’s a monkey, and you know what gossips and storytellers primates are.

  5. 4) Also the novelization of Dark Star.

    7) Chamberlain was credited, albeit in the end credits rather than the main credits.

  6. Seventy rings around the Sun for OGH! One Scroll to rule them all, and with these Pixels File (770) them!
    Happy Mirthday, Mike!

  7. (7) As usual, I’d like to raise a glass to Iain Banks, who was born on the same day as Iain M. Banks. He said The Bridge is his best novel. It is surreal, moving, and has some very funny takes on fantasy and science fiction. It would make a great movie.

  8. Happy Birthday Mike. Some illustrious company too.

    In other news, an email I received today suggests that Chengdu is nearly ready to open Hugo nominations – page in final testing.

    Currently reading ‘Ghostwritten’ by David Mitchell, his debut. Catching up on my Palmer Eldrich on audio and reading Uncle Wiggly with Patti Smith on substack.

    So a pretty decent day

  9. Happy Birthday, Mike. We met for the first time 45 years ago, when the world, science fiction, and Fandom were much different. It’s always been a pleasure taking this ride with you.

    4) so good to see Mr. Foster looking and sounding so good. I was unaware that we shared a favorite author and favorite bookby the same (Russell, Men, Martians and Machines, as well as both believing that Next of Kin would make a great film).

  10. Happy birthday, Mike!

    The Bridge may be my personal favourite Banks novel – you can see quite a bit in it that prefigures the Culture novels (and Feersum Endjinn, too.)

  11. (7) Iain M. Banks – although published as non -genre in the UK as by Iain Banks in 1984, and identified as non-genre on ISFDB, I contend that his first novel “The Wasp Factory” is psychological horror. It’s pretty damn good for a first novel.

    The Bridge is definitely genre, and Walking On Glass has string genre elements.
    I found it a bit disappointing when he adopted the M and his novels became far more clearly genre/mainstream instead of blurred edged he started with.

  12. Indeed Mr File 770 (1), many happy returns indeed, youngster (2) ..oh and many many more of them!! [ (1) Only recently discovered the reason for the title : Room 770 at a long-ago (and apparently notorious) SF party. Ahem I wasnt there..; (2) many of my SF colleagues are much younger than moi (ahem, my now being 73y +3 m).. ]

  13. @Tom Becker: The Bridge is a very close second for my favorite Banks novel, with or without the M.

  14. @nickpheas

    He submitted Wasp Factory as Iain M Banks but his editor asked to drop it.

    Transition (2009) is clearly blurring the edges of genre and was published as Iain Banks, though not in the US where it gained the M. So I don’t think it is as clear cut as you are making out.

    I used to see him on the train into Edinburgh sometimes, crossing the Bridge in the process.

    Massively entertaining speaker too, would go off on massive tangents to an asked question. Before nipping back and answering it succinctly.

  15. Slightly belated birthday wishes, Mike. May your slice of cake be the tallest and widest and most delicious.

  16. Banks’ The Business (an M-less work) also walks the genre/non-genre line. I liked it a lot.

  17. Sorokin is indeed a remarkable writer, but the earlier Day of the Oprichnik is generally recommended as a better entry point to his late fantastika.

    “Komiaga is a powerful man in a dystopian Russia in the year 2028. As a high-ranking Oprichnik, he is an elite thug in the service of the czar, responsible for crushing dissent and eliminating, through violence and intimidation, the political enemies of His Majesty. Like all Oprichniki, he wears the finest clothes and an expensive wristwatch, drives his red government-issue Mercedes in the official-business-only express lane, and tops off a successful day of raping and killing with a long night of drug use and debauchery. But government work has its challenges, especially when his nation’s moral fiber is at stake. Playfully reimagining Ivan the Terrible’s feared Oprichnik operatives in a future Russia that has turned inward (save for its dealings with China, the world’s major power) and lapsed into authoritarianism, Sorokin’s novel packs a hefty satirical punch that will show American audiences why the author has been so controversial in Russia”

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