Pixel Scroll 2/22/17 Scroll Me A Pixel And I Reply, Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie

(1) EARTH ][. Or maybe Seveneves for Seven Brothers. “NASA Telescope Reveal Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star”

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”


(2) COMMON SENSES. Mary Robinette Kowal did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today where someone asked her opinion of this writing advice —

“Include all five senses on every single page of your manuscript. That’s every 250 words.”

This is stupid. Yes, you should include all five senses, but at that pace, it becomes muddy. Plus your main character probably isn’t running around licking the walls.

When you’re there, check the schedule of upcoming AMA’s on the right-hand side of the page. An almost-relentless list of heavy hitters, including Yoon Ha Lee on March 30, Aliette de Bodard on April 25, and Gregory Benford on May 16.

(3) SF HALL OF FAME IS BACK. “Prepare to party like it’s 3001” may not scan very closely with Prince’s lyrics, but that’s how MoPOP is inviting people to attend the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame which opens March 4 in Seattle.

Join MoPOP for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Celebration honoring the Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary.

  • Featuring guests of honor: Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency); Wende Doohan, wife of the late James Doohan (Star Trek); Robyn Miller (Myst co-creator); and more
  • Live performances by Roladex, DJ Kate (False Prophet), and the all-female Wonder Woman-loving marching band, Filthy FemCorps
  • Trek Talk panel exploring Star Trek’s 50-year impact on pop culture, fandom, and geekery
  • Hall of Fame spotlights on the mammoth Sky Church screen
  • Costume parade, MovieCat trivia, gaming, and activities
  • Stellar photo ops, themed food and drink specials, and beyond

Tickets include admission into MoPOP’s Infinite Worlds of Science FictionFantasy: Worlds of Myth & Magic, Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds, and the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame gallery.

(4) TECHNOLOGY SHOULD NOT BE MUSHED UP. The future is not yet: UPS drone has glitches.

The delivery firm UPS has unveiled a drone-launching truck – but the event did not go completely to plan.

One aircraft failed to launch properly and was then nearly destroyed….

The Horsefly octacopter involved was made by Ohio-based Workhorse Group.

The initial test went well, with the aircraft launching from a platform built into the truck’s slide-open roof.

But a second attempt was more problematic.

The drone tipped over when it tried to take off, rocked back and was then nearly crushed when the truck’s roof began to close over the launch pad where the machine was still sitting.

(5) BUGS MR. RICO! This Saturday is the annual Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois here in Champaign-Urbanana (typo intentional). Jim Meadows explains:

The festival is put on by the university’s entomology department, using cheesy insect sf movies with bad science, to educate the public through reverse example.

This weekend, their guest is University of Illinois alumnus Paul Hertzberg, executive producer of the two movies being shown:  “Caved In” (2006) (with nasty beetles, I think) and 2016’s “2 Lava 2 Lantua” (nasty tarantulas — a sequel to “Lavalantula” which was shown at the festival last year).

The SyFy cable channel and its commissioning of cheap TV movies, often involving bugs, has been a godsend to the Insect Fear Film Festival, giving it a fresh supply of insect sf movies to draw from.

(6) BRYANT’S WILD CARDS INTERVIEW. George R.R. Martin has online the video recorded at MidAmeriCon II of Ed Bryant talking about the Wild Cards series.

After we heard about Ed’s death, I contacted Tor to ask them if Ed had been one of the writers they had talked with in Kansas City. I am pleased to say he was, and we can now present his interview to you complete and uninterrupted.

All those who knew and loved him will, I hope, appreciate the opportunity to see and hear from Ed one last time… but I should warn you, there is a bittersweet quality to this tape, in light of what was coming. Sad to say, Ed never did finish that last Wild Cards story he was working on, nor any of the other tales that he hoped to write.

Sooner or later, all of us have to see The Jolson Story. Be that as it may, for one last time, I am honored to present my friend Edward Bryant…



  • February 22, 1630 — Popcorn was first introduced to English colonists by Native Americans.

(8) SPAM OF THE DAY. Daniel Dern tells the story —

I got this PR email (not unreasonably, since I’m a tech journo):

Subject: Feb. 2017: Marketing Tech Secrets Powering Unicorns

To which I replied: Why do I feel this is a Peter S Beagle / Cory Doctorow mashup novel?

(9) EXTRA CREDIT READING. Yes, I should mention The Escapist Bundle again.

You see, the eleven fantastic books in this bundle come from authors tied together by, among other accolades, their inclusion in a single volume of Fiction River, in this case a volume called Recycled Pulp. For those of you unfamiliar with Fiction River, it’s an original anthology series that Adventures Fantastic calls “one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

With 22 volumes published so far, Recycled Pulp proves one of the most creative volumes. Inspired by the fantastic, escapist pulp fiction of the last century, the amazing authors in this volume were tasked with creating modern escapist fiction from nothing but a pulp-inspired title. The results were fantastic, indeed.

The initial titles in the Escapist Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Waking the Witch by Dayle A. Dermatis
  • Hot Waters by Erica Lyon
  • Recycled Pulp by Fiction River
  • The Pale Waters by Kelly Washington
  • Isabel’s Tears by Lisa Silverthorne

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • A Death in Cumberland by Annie Reed
  • Neither Here Nor There by Cat Rambo
  • The Slots of Saturn by Dean Wesley Smith
  • The War and After by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Revolutionary Magic by Thomas K. Carpenter
  • Tales of Possibilities by Rebecca M. Senese

This bundle is available for the next 22 days only.

(10) VIRGIN FIELD EPIDEMIC. Steven Brust thinks con crud has been around for awhile.

Yes – that’s practically the Curse of King Tut’s Tomb.

(11) OH THE HUMANITY. “Two Huge Sci-Fi Novels Were Snubbed by the Nebula Awards” and Inverse contributor Ryan Britt is overwrought:

On Tuesday, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America released its nominees for the 2016 Nebula Awards and there were two glaring omissions in the category for Best Novel. Cixin Liu’s Death’s End and Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey. Does the nominating committee of the Nebulas have something against science fiction that everyone loves?

(12) STICK YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR EARS AND GO ‘LA LA LA’. Can Arrival win? Inverse skeptically takes “A Historical Look at Why Science Fiction Always Gets Screwed at the Oscars”.

1969’s 41st Academy Awards is a kind of patient zero for how respectable science fiction movies would be treated at the Oscars for the rest of time. The Academy had to acknowledge some good special effects and makeup, and at least give a shout-out to original writing. Science fiction received a pat on the head in 1969, but 2001: A Space Odyssey — maybe the best sci-fi movie ever made — didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture. And, like 1969, 2017’s intelligent sci-fi movie, Arrival, is pitted against an Oscar-bait favorite: the musical La La Land. In 1969, the musical Oliver! won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Art Direction. Clearly, the Academy prefers singing and dancing to thoughtful reflection on the meaning of existence.

Although when you put it in those terms, who doesn’t?

(13) NO COUNTRY FOR OLD SPACEMEN. Woody Harrelson has had a pretty good career, and will soon add to his resume an appearance in a spinoff from Star Wars. The first picture of the Han Solo film team was released the other day. (Westworld star Thandie Newton will also have a role in the film, though she is not in the photo.)

L to R: Woody Harrelson, Chris Miller, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo (as Chewbacca), Phil Lord and Donald Glover

(14) BRUNCH. Not to be outdone, Twentieth Century Fox issued a photo of the Alien: Covenant cast. Unfortunately, they didn’t furnish a handy key telling who’s who. Maybe that’s less important because so many of these characters will probably get killed before the end of the movie? That’s what we expect to happen in an Alien movie, anyway.

(15) STAR CLICKIN’. ScreenRant found it easy to remember “17 WTF Things Captain Kirk Did”. Here are some of the subheads from the middle of the list. How many of them can you associate with the right episode or movie even before you look?

  1. Threatened To Spank a Planetary Leader
  1. Took Scotty To A Bordello To Cure His “Total Resentment Towards Women”
  1. Created the Khan Problem in the First Place
  1. Didn’t Tell Anyone Else He Knew They Weren’t Really “Marooned For All Eternity”
  1. Cheated on a Test — And Made It Really Obvious
  1. Pissed Off “God”

(16) PROPOSED WORLDCON 75 PANEL. It isn’t the joke, it’s how you tell it.

The Rosetta Stone for deciphering this cryptic exchange is Ursula Vernon’s 2012 blog post “In Which I Win A Hugo And Fight Neil Gaiman For Free Nachos”.

…Pretty much the minute I handed the Hugo to Kevin and sat down, the fact that I was running on a mango smoothie and crabcakes hit me, and I wanted a cheeseburger or a steak or something RIGHT NOW. The Loser’s party had a small free nacho bar. It was very tight quarters, and I had to squeeze past a curly-haired man in a dark suit who was….ah.


“I shall dine out for years,” I said, “on the story of how I shoved Neil Gaiman aside to get to the free nachos.”

He grinned. “When you tell the story, in two or three years, as you’ve added to it, please have me on the floor weeping, covered in guacamole.”

“I think I can promise that,” I said.

(17) MEANWHILE, BACK IN 1992. Tom Hanks frames a clip of Ray Harryhausen receiving the Gordon E. Sawyer Award from Ray Bradbury at the Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards.

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

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76 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/22/17 Scroll Me A Pixel And I Reply, Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie

  1. @Mark

    Part of the problem is population density and the resulting infrastructure requirements. It costs more to build a road in a place like Falls Church than it does in a more rural setting. And you generally end up needing more roads with more lanes than are required in a rural setting. It costs more to hire teachers, cops, etc. Then there are the needs for more inspectors and other government bureaucrats and functionaries.

    That gets cross-coupled with the fact that people earning higher incomes generally demand that government provide more services (parks, zoos, etc.). Not every such activity can be 100% self funding.

    Lastly, higher density areas general experience a higher crime rate. So more police, more courts, bigger jails, etc.

    Obviously there are other factors that are in play, but these are important as well.


    LOL. I was wondering where that was coming from…..


  2. Dann: JJ: LOL. I was wondering where that was coming from…

    I have no idea what you’re on about here. Care to offer some context?

  3. @Dann

    Well, yes, in our hypothetically identical settlements with different values then the more expensive one would generally pay higher wages to acquire the same services etc etc, but it’s not a straight line relationship – double property values don’t mean double the wages for e.g. the road crews or the teachers. (There’s some interesting links between localised property booms and the ability to commute from cheaper areas that lead from this.)
    The rest of what you say is why I was questioning what decisions have been made locally about the rate – if as an area they’re really expensive but there’s nothing forcing them to be that expensive, are they deliberately choosing to bring in more income For Reasons? To run that zoo? To pay down some local problem?

    Anyway, improving my knowledge of US-specific systems is interesting but not actually helpful to Ted White, so I hope someone close to him helps him out with the longer-term problem

  4. @ Mark: Yes, we have them here, and the one we have used is quite reputable — although I’m sure that there are scamsters out there as well. Right now we’re holding on by the skin of our teeth for my partner to reach age 65, when we can lock in the valuation, and hoping that we won’t be priced out of the house before then. It’s an old house on a lot large enough that a developer could raze the existing building and put in 6 or 8 townhouses with a common driveway down the middle, and less than 15 minutes from downtown Houston even in average rush-hour traffic.

  5. To OGH: My partner borrowed the page to make his comment, and when I took it back I changed my e-mail address from the one I’d been using. This is still me, but with the address I will be using henceforth.

  6. Also: Scalzi’s take on Britt’s first article.

    I like someone’s idea upthread of everyone having their own awards. Also, various people’s idea that Britt needs a clue (personally, among other things, I feel like he’s confused about the purpose of awards, not all of which – if any of which – are to provide reading lists for the mass reading public.)

  7. “Meanwhile at Inverse, Ryan Britt doubles down and declares that all awards are bullshit anyway.”

    I was following along until this puppyish sentence–
    So, in a closed-minded move, the science fiction publishing establishment just ignores these books instead of celebrating them.
    He forgot ‘gatekeepers’.
    Which is too bad because I did enjoy “Luke Skywalker Can’t Read. .”

  8. So the Hugos are bad because they ignore the popular stuff. And the Nebulas are bad because they ignore the literary stuff. And the popular stuff.

    Yeah, okay.

    But this idea that a list of 5 or 6 books should celebrate everything out there that’s worth reading, should be one-stop shopping for excellence in the entire field, that’s a little goofy.

    Maybe the nomination lists are stuff that’s worth reading AND looking beyond those lists is a good idea too.

  9. Ryan Britt: So, in a closed-minded move, the science fiction publishing establishment just ignores these books instead of celebrating them.

    Citation fucking needed.

    Just because Britt doesn’t pay attention to how the science-fiction publishing industry promoted these books, he assumes that the promotion didn’t happen.

    Gah, he’s just like a Puppy, especially the Appendix N sort of Puppy: “If I don’t know about something, obviously no one else knows about it, either!”

    I’ve got a question for you, Ryan: Just how many books does an award have to have on their final ballot, for you to not claim that they’re “ignoring” all the good books? 20? 50? 100?

    How many books on a FINAL award voting ballot would be an acceptable number for you???

  10. Kurt –

    Maybe the nomination lists are stuff that’s worth reading AND looking beyond those lists is a good idea too

    Pffft, I only have time for 5 books in a year and they better all be on that nominee list or I don’t get the point of having a nominee list. I only read the best five books, all other books are just fake books and people who vote for those were paid to do so, I’ve heard many people say so.

  11. Meredith Moment a.k.a. ebook sale (U.S., at least):

    Patrick Ness’s YA novel The Rest of Us Just Live Here is on sale for $1.99 from HarperTeen (uses DRM). Basically it’s about some friends who aren’t the Chosen One/Special People (mostly? the write-up mentioned the protagonist’s best friend is worshipped by lions) – the side kicks/background people. I just skimmed a few pages and was interested enough (despite not usually reading YA) that I’m going to read the full sample to see if it really grabs me.

    Filer Notes: Kyra rec’d this last year. Meredith made a now-cryptic (to me) comment about it – not sure if she read it, loved it, hated it, or what. 😉

  12. you mean there are More than 5 books out there? Inconcieveable!

    Yeah, but the other one’s just an omnibus edition of the first five.

  13. Of course there are some kinds of work that tend not to be considered for Hugos and Nebulas – one award, or even two, can’t cover everything. But the choice of Death’s End and Babylon’s Ashes (both sequels to works that have been shortlisted, and in one case won a Hugo, before) to illustrate this point seems really weird.

    I agree we need lots of awards. I look forward to a properly-run and widely-participated Dragon award, which will provide a nice counterpoint to the existing awards, though no doubt there will be complaints about how it is ridiculous that the Dragon committee is neglecting so and so.

    I have sometimes felt that there is room for a ‘dog show’ style award, where the Best in Show is chosen from among the winners of Best in Class. That might actually seek to cover the whole field. It would probably have to be juried, though, as a poll couldn’t ensure the right sort of breadth of coverage.

  14. @Dann: I’d say that’s a WTF for the series, not Kirk specifically; Rand can ask for a transfer, but any action Kirk could take (from attempting an apology through offering Rand a transfer to asking Starfleet to transfer her) will probably make matters worse. And even blaming the series is questionable in context, as there was little or no connection between episodes; I forget whether writers were specifically told they had to put back everything the way they’d found it, but IIRC this was a decade or more before TV episodes had consequences for future episodes.

  15. @ Kendall

    I like someone’s idea upthread of everyone having their own awards.

    At some point in the last couple of puppy-filled years, I tweeted about everyone having their own “You Go!” awards to supplement the Hugos, where we all present virtual awards to works that we think deserve acclaim. I handed out a number of You-Go!s in that thread.

  16. @Chip

    Aren’t they all the Kirk/WTF moments for the series at the end of the day? Kirk is only Kirk within the context of the series. But I take your point about it being somewhat more than just a Kirk quirk in this particular case.

    You are correct about the lack of connection between episodes. Everything essentially reset at the beginning of the next episode with the exception of the designated redshirt of the day.

    I recommend The Post-Atomic Horror Podcast for all things Star Trek. They are reviewing every Star Trek TV episode and movie ever made. It is quite an undertaking and they do an excellent job of it. They will be on my Hugo short list without question. Al and Matt are in turns funny, insightful, and informative.

    The podcast it relevant now as I can only recall first watching this episode and seeing Yeoman Rand in the background at the end. I had this feeling in the back of my young skull that something wasn’t quite right about the “neat” wrap-up to the story.

    Al and Matt covered that issue for me quite nicely several decades later.


    I think the thing that might have been glossed over is that relative cost of living can be a multiplier when it comes to local government costs. Your thought about wages for road crews/teachers vs. property values not being 1:1 is probably right. But wages alone do not cover all of the extra costs involved with the larger government that comes with higher population densities. Larger government builds larger (and more expensive) buildings and has extra layers of management/bureaucracy. Those extra layers raise additional issues as the people at the top of each pyramid demand higher wages because they are on top of a larger pyramid. Are they creating additional value? No. They just have more people in their department and (at least within the US) the convention is that the person with the larger department/budget gets a larger salary.

    With regards to Mr. White, I also hope that someone close to him can help him make the difficult but obvious decisions that need to be made. I’m having to help family go through the same process. It isn’t easy.


  17. @Dann

    You seem to be ignoring that my hypothetical (which isn’t needed anymore anyway, so I don’t really propose to interrogate it it in depth) was for towns identical other than for property values – an effect easily achieved by having them in different value areas. Instead, you seem to be trying to import an ideological argument about urban v rural and the wastefulness of big government. If you wish to discuss that, then I suggest you assemble your evidence and put it in front of someone who is interested in arguing the point with you.

  18. @Mark

    Your initial response suggested to me a measure of incredulity that property taxes could force someone into that position.

    IME, this situation is not rare. It is a logical and predictable result. I suppose I could have just said that without further explanation. That seemed a bit callous.

    Now understanding that your position is based on a hypothetical case that has little basis in reality, I’ll just move on.


  19. @Dann

    I honestly can’t see where you got incredulity from. However, I suspect that rather than reacting to something I actually wrote, you’re reacting to your attempt to spark an irrelevant ideological tangent being headed off.

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