Pixel Scroll 2/18/23 I’ve Got The Rocket Pneumonia And The Wookie Cookie Blues

(0) I’m visiting my brother’s family overnight where we’ll hold a birthday celebration. So Cat and I have done a “seed” Scroll, and also invite you to add links in comments to things you know other sff fans would like to read. Til Sunday, as I read in Pooh, “Bizy Backson”!

(1) HPL FANS NEED A LIFT. The group that puts on NecronomiCon and carries out other activities is in a pinch and asks for donations to their GoFundMe: “Lovecraft Arts & Sciences 2023 Winter Fundraiser”. They’d raised $9,820 of their $20,000 goal as of yesterday.

…Given the obstacles presented by the pandemic and the related economic slowdown, we’re faced with a grave financial threat to our organization. NecronomiCon, for one, ended up being much more expensive than usual – all prices seemed to increase, from venue fees to printing costs, and at the same time Covid policies lead to us curtailing pass sales and fewer folks could join us anyway due to economic stress. So, while the event helps to pull in funds to sustain us through the long dark retail winter, we are coming up short much sooner than we’d normally – just as we experience some of our worst visitor days in years, even worse than much of the height of the pandemic. During those days, though, we were fortunate to receive some help from the government to sustain us, via a couple payroll protection program loans – but those days are long gone now and we’re needing to sustain ourselves, and hope for help from our community.

Right now, the situation is dire, we’re faced with making even harder decisions. This is compounded by the fact that our home building for the past seven years, the historic Providence Arcade, is still far less active than it used to be in The Before Times. A new coffee shop has opened, but we remain the only retailer in the building – a grim situation to be in.

In 2020, you, our amazing weird fiction community, stepped up and really helped us when we needed it so badly. A little over two years later, with many of the same hurdles before us, we humbly extend our hat once again – knowing full well that a lot of you are struggling, too, and realizing there are many other worthy potential recipients of your generosity. But given the existential obstacles we face, we truly need a little bit of your help….

(2) PREPPER, SERIES 1. From BBC Radio 4,PrepperSeries 1, Episode 4 of 4: The last episode of the series with Sue Johnston and Pearl Mackie.

Trump. ISIS. The Courgette Crisis. Signs of civilisation’s fragility are all around. No wonder the Doomsday Clock just nudged closer to midnight. In this fearscape, more and more ordinary people are wondering how they’d cope if everything we take for granted (law and order, access to healthcare, iceberg lettuces in Sainsburys) was taken away.

Preppers – a large and rapidly growing global community – have taken this thought one step further. They’re actively skilling-up, laying down supplies and readying themselves for the end of the world, in whatever form it comes. Indeed, a prepping shop just opened in Newquay. And if people in Cornwall are prepping, it’s time to worry.

Episode 4: “Bugging In”.

In this week’s 28 minute episode Sylvia takes Rachel in the boot (trunk?) of her car to her secret bunker. Yes, if it does look a little familiar, that’s because its design is based on Hitler’s. Politics aside, Hitler knew how to design bunkers. Meanwhile, both Sylvia and Rachel extol the virtue of having many separate food caches. Though Rachel found it s struggle carrying a 30 kg bag of rice wrapped in a carpet… and she got many funny looks while she was burying it in a field…

Prepper explores how two women live with the possibility of the end of days, and how they bond over their determination to survive. And fend off zombies.

This week – home defence.


LitHub follows up with “Some of the Best Stories from a Century of Weird Tales (That You Can Read Online)”. Here are two examples:

Ray Bradbury, “The Scythe” (Weird Tales, July 1943)

Quite suddenly there was no more road. It ran down the valley like any other road, between slopes of barren, stony ground and live oak trees, and then past a broad field of wheat standing alone in the wilderness. It came up beside the small white house that belonged to the wheat field and then just faded out, as though there was no more use for it.

Robert Bloch, “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” (Weird Tales, July 1943)

I looked at the stage Englishman. He looked at me.


1984[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I love Charles de Lint’s Moonheart with all my heart. 

It was published by Ace in both trade paper and hard cover thirty-nine years ago. There’s a very nice edition with illustrations by Charles Vess by Subterranean Press. And that edition is available in an epub edition at the usual suspects.

It was written back in the days previous to him prior to him creating his city of Newford, so it’s set in Ottawa where most of his early novels are set. 

In case there’s someone here who still has not read this most excellent novel which has a sequel of sorts, I will say nothing of the story therein. We did of course review it at Green Man and those of you who want to know more about this novel can go read that review. Of course that is decidedly not spoiler free. 

And now for the Beginning…

Sara Kendell once read somewhere that the tale of the world is like a tree. The tale, she understood, did not so much mean the niggling occurrences of daily life. Rather it encompassed the grand stories that caused some change in the world and were remembered in ensuing years as, if not histories, at least folktales and myths. By such reasoning, Winston Churchill could take his place in British folklore alongside the legendary Robin Hood; Merlin Ambrosius had as much validity as Martin Luther.

The scope of their influence might differ, but they were all a part of the same tale. Though in later years she never could remember who had written that analogy of tale to tree, the image stayed with her. It was so easy to envision: Sturdily rooted in the past, the tale’s branches spread out through the days to come. The many stories that make up its substance unfold from bud to leaf to dry memory and back again, event connecting event like the threadwork of a spider’s web, so that each creature of the world plays its part, understanding only aspects of the overall narrative, and perceiving, each with its particular talents, only glimpses of the Great Mystery that underlies it all.

The stories on their own are many, too myriad to count, and their origins are often too obscure or inconsequential on their own to be recognized for what they are. The Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero said it best: “The beginnings of all things are small.” Though he lived and died some two thousand years before Sara was born, and though the tale was so entangled by the time she came into it that it would have been an exercise in futility to attempt to unravel its many threads, Sara herself came to agree with Cicero. Years later she could pinpoint the exact moment that brought her into the tale. It was when she found the leather pouch with its curious contents in one of the back storerooms of her uncle’s secondhand shop.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 18, 1908 Angelo Rossitto. An actor and voice artist who had dwarfism. His first genre role was in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in GalaxinaThe Incredible HulkJason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The RingsAdult FairytalesClonesDracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 18, 1919 Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 94. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. It deals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.
  • Born February 18, 1930 Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations which are gathered in a superb two volume collection, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on  A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 18, 1968 Molly Ringwald, 55. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’s The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there.

(6) MORE TWITTER SHENANIGANS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There’s been a fair bit in File 770 recent months on changes at Twitter. In this week’s Science journal it seems that scientists are dismayed at the thought of losing a key tool they use for social media analysis, application programming interface (API). “Twitter’s plan to cut off free data access evokes ‘fair amount of panic’ among scientists”.

When Twitter announced on 2 February that the social media platform would end free access to its application programming interface (API) in a week, meaning tomorrow, a clock began ticking for Jean-Philippe Cointet. Like other researchers interested in topics such as political polarization or how misinformation spreads, the social scientist at Sciences Po uses the API to freely gather data on the hundreds of millions of tweets sent daily. If Twitter tries to charge a significant price for such information, some of his projects will not be possible. “When we got the news last week, we started to rush on a few data collection projects,” he says.

Other scientists who rely on Twitter’s data are also anxious.

(7) LOOK AND SEA. “The Little Mermaid teaser glimpses Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula” reports EW.

Cue “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” as Disney has released a glimpse of Melissa McCarthy‘s Ursula the Sea Witch in a sinister new teaser for the upcoming The Little Mermaid live-action movie….

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

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26 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/18/23 I’ve Got The Rocket Pneumonia And The Wookie Cookie Blues

  1. (0)Enjoy the family time, Mike.
    Birthdays: The Shape of Things to Come may not resemble Well’s, but having not read the book, I loved the movie as a teen.

    How ’bout some content? I’ve made a couple of posts on my website (https://mrw.5-cent.us) about what is it that folks want to read. The question relates to what seems to be a fracture in f&sf, that “charater-drive” stories are different than “plot-driven”, and it seems to me that a lot of what’s being published now is the former.
    Which I find a problem, because I want to read stories, not merely what goes on in someone’s head. It’s not just me, either – WSFA, at our twice-monthly meetings, have a session after the business meeting, discussing serveal big ‘zines – F&SF, Asimov’s, Lightspeed, and last night was Clarkesworld. It struck me, as we were winding down, that the stories that most of the people in the discussion liked were ones with stories, which I’m assuming is more plot-driven.
    As a (now) writer, to me, plot lets me see the character of my characters. Consider Dr. Who, where so many of his Companions become far more than they had ever imagined of themselves. Or, for that matter, George Takei, who became far more than “just” an actor.

    So, tell me folks, what do you want to read?

    One last thing, speaking of things to read: in reading some of the submissions for the BSFS Compton-Crook award, I read Burn Down, Rise Up. by Vincent Terado. If you like NK Jemison recent City stories, of NYC, you’ll like this. Well-written, and strong. I couldn’t stop reading it.

  2. (5) Jack Palance, his first genre appearance is in 1967’s “Torture Garden” a horror anthology film from Amicus in Britain. His first SF work is “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” from 1968. “The Shape of Things to Come” is from 1979. He also starred as Count Dracula in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” 1974. Both Jekyll and Hyde and Dracula were produced by Dan Curtis of “Dark Shadows” fame with Curtis directing Dracula. Jekyll & Hyde was produced for the “ABC Wide World of Mystery” a late night anthology on the ABC Network and reused a number of music pieces that were produced for “Dark Shadows”.
    Dracula is I believe the first Dracula movie that connects the character directly to Vlad the Impaler and the idea that Dracula was pursuing a reincarnation of his long lost love.

    I think Palance’s best line in any movie is from “City Slickers” where Billy Crystal asks him, “Kill any one today, Curley?” to which Palance replies menacingly “Day aint over yet”

  3. (0) The scrolled, or pixelaceous backson…

    (5) For many years Gahan Wilson’s monthly cartoon in F&SF was the highlight of the issue for me. He sometimes reviewed books there as well.

    Meredith moment: Jim Butcher’s Fool Moon, the second Harry Dresden novel, is $1.99 at the usual suspects. As is The Short Novels of John Steinbeck, which does not appear to be genre but may be of interest anyway.

  4. @mark. My favorite are Big Idea stories. I also love humorous ones assuming the humor works for me. By their nature though both of these types of stories are limited.
    Among character and plot, what I would like is a balance with some of both. I agree that a lot of critically acclaimed/ award winning stuff lately leans too much towards character. But there are plenty of plot stories out there, especially in the self published section. There certainly isn’t a shortage.

  5. 1) A mostly abandoned shopping district–reminds me of Innsmouth. I do wonder what is in those shadows . . .

  6. @mark–I like a good plot, but if I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about the story. If I have to choose between the two, I’ll take characters.

    @Mike Glyer–Enjoy your family visit!

    Boskone is now ongoing. I am exhausted, Cider is exhausted, but we met Nalo Hopkinson, and enjoyed talking to her.

  7. HAP AND LEONARD, the remarkably good 3-season tv adaptation of several Joe Lansdale novels featuring the disreputable duo, will be leaving Netflix on March 5th. Watch now while you still can.

    Also leaving Netflix, at the end of February, are the first three seasons of MIRACULOUS: TALES OF LADYBUG AND CAT NOIR, a French animated series about teen superheroes in Paris both Hilde and I enjoyed. (Disney+ still has the full five seasons; Season 6 is in production.)

    Personal news: 1) Sold a new short story, “Lucky Day”, dark crime fiction, to BLACK CAT WEEKLY. 2) Had my second cataract surgery done. Going around mostly without glasses for the first time in 62 years feels kinda naked. (Still use reading glasses for close work like reading & typing.)

  8. 5) Palance was the bad guy in one of the better episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (That show got a lot of good guest talent.)

  9. 5) I would say that Molly Ringwald’s role as Miranda in the 1982 film Tempest would count as at least genre adjacent–a wonderful underrated film IMHO.

  10. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: February 19, 2023 - Amazing Stories

  11. Why not re-read Kindred?

    I just did, largely because the TV show didn’t feel quite right to me. And, I admit, I had forgotten a lot. But did the TV show match up? I would say, not really.

    General plot-line — Dana finds herself mysteriously transported to a plantation in the early 19th century where she is instantly confronted with a little white boy drowning. Of course she leaps in to save him, and applies mouth to mouth to get him breathing again — only to be viciously lambasted when his frantic mother arrives on the scene, and is horrified to see a black woman touching her son so intimately. Won’t tell you more, since you may be one of the few who have not read it. Certainly, you can see where this is heading.

    But. . . about how it gets there . . .
    I should mention that Ms. Butler told the story as a flashback, from Dana reporting a peculiar injury to a modern hospital, in the company of her husband (who is, of course, wrongly suspected of hurting her.) So I do not feel it is an inappropriate spoiler to say that Dana is not trapped forever as a slave in the past.

    From then on, Ms. Butler’s tale is a thoughtful examination of slavery. How does it happen? Why do the enslaved submit? Is it just the slaves that are damaged? How do the enslavers explain the process to themselves? And what are the psychological consequences of their justifications? What are overall effects of that mind-set, not just on the individuals, but on the resulting culture.
    This thesis is intertwined with the mystery of what is happening to Dana. This being SF/F, the how is never explained. But other questions remain: Why Dana, why this plantation? Is there a connection between them?

    Most of this is not in the TV show. I would not have minded a few minor details being changed. (She is not married to the male lead, has not even known him long, so we can have a seduction scene.) But I was very much grieved to see that the mysterious connection between Dana and the plantation has been drastically rewritten, into something that would have been more PC back in 1979, and today, I would say is simply unnecessary — that particular battle has been largely won. (The writer boasts that he spoke at length with Ms. Butler during her lifetime & has worked hard to create something she would have approved. I do NOT think she would have approved of this change.)

    Almost all the thematic material has been ditched. I understand that thematic material can be difficult to present visually, but surely some of it should have been retained. After all, it was Ms. Butler’s point, her reason for writing. Without it, the drama of the story is reduced to melodrama. “Look! Slavery was bad!” And yes, that is, and always has been, true, but we already knew that. Ms. Butler examined it for causes and consequences. The TV show does not.

    The TV show does not complete the story — it leaves the characters at a dramatic cliff hanger, presumably in the hope of a second season. Maybe they felt they had to start out with splashy stuff to pull in an audience, and intend to include the more meaningful material in the second season. And I’ll probably watch it, in that hope. But I’m not sanguine. Their changes have already made the original ending impossible.

    While we wait to see if they do that, why not re-read the original? It’s a classic!

  12. You provided a flash of Weird Tales finest artist: Margaret Brundage.
    There’s a fabulous book on her, showing ALL her Weird Tales covers and many others.

    Look for The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pinup Art.

    But not everyone appreciated them. Here’s H.P. Lovecraft himself on the subject of magazine cover art:

    “About WT (Weird Tales) covers — they really are too trivial to get angry about. If they weren’t totally irrelevant and unrepresentative nudes, they’d probably be something equally awkward and trivial, even though less irrelevant … I have no objection to the nude in art — in fact the human figure is as worthy a type of subject matter as any other object of beauty in the visible world. But I don’t see what the hell Mrs. Brundage’s undressed ladies have to do with weird fiction. ” H.P. Lovecraft.

    They sold magazines, Mr. Lovecraft. That’s what they had to do with weird fiction.

  13. I’m going to be somewhat heretical here and say that you need BOTH plot and character driving a story to make it great, especially longer stories from novelette to full-blown novel length. Plot-driven stories with cardboard characters bore me. I’m not gonna finish a book where I can’t engage with the main characters in some way. And I would argue that much of what gets maligned as character-driven stories without plot is based on a misconception of plot as events external to the character’s interior life.

    That’s the real division–external conflict (plot-driven) versus internal conflict (character-driven). What gets mocked as trivial, character-driven stories without plot overlooks the reality that those stories feature some sort of change–or resistance to change–in the status of the primary characters. The conflict is often internal and may be quiet, may be all in the character’s head. But it is there, and I would argue that the process of resolution or lack of resolution of the conflict constitutes a plot in and of itself.

    Of course, you can have both internal conflict and external conflict. That leads to a very good story, in my book.

    Sadly, my perception is that those who holler that they want “plot-driven”–i.e., external conflict as the primary plot–really want nothing more than swashbuckling Great Man stories (no girly cooties) with no introspection. I find those stories boring. When I revisit many of those stories from my youth, I find that the Suck Fairy has tainted a lot of those pages.

    For a non-not-so-Suck Fairy (though dated with problematic elements) example, while I like me some E. R. Eddison, my preference is for the Zimiamvian stories (especially A Fish Dinner in Memison) and not Ouroboros, delightful though it may be, which is probably an indication of my inclinations. I’ll pick that trilogy up more frequently to skim through than Ouroboros, as much for the Machiavelli-based ruminations as well as the other philosophical speculations as anything else. Oh, and a dose of Fiorinda plus the occasional Rosma and Lady Mary Lessingham. I don’t agree with a lot of Eddison’s assumptions, but damn can he ever lay out some complex internal conflicts.

    Then again, I don’t care for action movies, either. Never seen Die Hard and probably never will.

  14. @Joyce Reynolds-Ward – I really like the idea of internal vs. external conflict. Feels like it allows for more nuance than simply plot vs. character. In my reading experience, internal-conflict stories seem to be better written, likely due to the care and attention to detail necessary in crafting believable and sympathetic characters.

  15. One of the things that I really liked about Charlie Jane Anders’ novel The City in the Middle of the Night was that it combined three types of stories: it was character-driven, it had an action-adventure plot, and there was a transcendental ending.

  16. (5) @Thomas the Red: Dracula [1974] is I believe the first Dracula movie that connects the character directly to Vlad the Impaler and the idea that Dracula was pursuing a reincarnation of his long lost love

    I believe you’re right that it’s the first movie that specifically explained Dracula’s fascination with Mina by connecting her to his dead wife. However, the idea that Dracula is specifically into Mina on more than an appetite level goes back to Nosferatu, where he [a.k.a. Orlok] fixates on the portrait of Mina [a.k.a. Ellen] that Harker [a.k.a. Hutter] has brought along, and immediately develops a telepathic connection with her.

    The connection to Vlad the Impaler is in the original novel, even though Stoker doesn’t use that name. When Van Helsing describes Dracula, he throws in a bunch of biographical stuff that as far as I know is completely made up (e.g. that he was an alchemist) but also says “He must indeed have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk.” There was only one person who was a Voivode (prince/warlord) called Dracula and was known for fighting the Turks. Stoker may not have known much more than that, but he was definitely referring to the historical character in a hand-wavey way.

  17. Also, Jack Palance indirectly starred as Dracula in a different medium: in Marvel’s very enjoyable Tomb of Dracula comics (where Dracula returns in the present day and is pursued by descendants of the novel’s heroes, in a somewhat Hammer Films style plus some science fiction trappings) that appeared from 1972 to 1979, the artist Gene Colan used Palance’s face for the title character. Palance hadn’t actually played that role yet when the comic started, Colan just liked his features.

  18. @Jeff Smith: I’m not sure I would characterize The City in the Middle of the Night as action-adventure. It is very slow in parts, and when action occurs it tends to be disastrous. Sophie as the main character requires a great deal of patience. But I really loved the book. Sophie is tough and good in ways that I as a reader didn’t expect, and certainly nobody around her expected. It is diamond-hard SF, with excellent historical and cultural extrapolation that you rarely get in hard SF. And the transcendence is positively Clarkean.

  19. Mm re the late Jack Palance: he was the lead in a very strange SF-related western “Welcome To Blood City” (1977). With Keir Dullea (“2001″/”2010” etc) and the late Barry Morse (“Whoops Apocolypse”, Gerry Anderson’s (IMO awful) “Space 1999” + of course the non genre “The Fugitive” (TV) as Lt Gerard)..

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