Pixel Scroll 3/21/20 Social Distancing Warriors

(1) UK EASTERCON CANCELLED. Concentric, the 2020 Eastercon, was cancelled today. The con was to have been held April 10-13 in Birmingham, UK. Thread starts here.

(2) SERLING’S BASEBALL DRAMA TO AIR. “Rod Serling’s lost baseball show to make return” – the Fifties show has been re-created by students and Anne Serling will narrate.

If there’s one thing we could all use right now, it’s baseball — in any form. Well, how about a baseball story written by none other than “The Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling?

On March 25, when we would otherwise be preparing for Opening Day, Cincinnati’s WVXU-FM will be streaming Serling’s radio drama, “O’Toole From Moscow.”

Written in 1955 — four years before “The Twilight Zone” debuted — the show is set during the Cold War and follows a Soviet Embassy worker who loves the Brooklyn Dodgers and skips town with a “comrade who suddenly becomes the greatest slugger ever for the Cincinnati Reds” — no word on if this slugger also ripped off his sleeves the way Ted Kluszewski did.

… The drama, which featured an appearance from Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, only aired once on NBC, and no recordings were ever made. Fortunately, Cincinnati journalist John Kiesewetter managed to hunt down the original script, and then edit it into a radio drama. With help from actors at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Anne Serling — Rod’s daughter — to provide the narration, the show was recorded in November and now awaits its debut.

(3) FILLING THE VACANCY. K. Tempest Bradford and Lou Antonelli have been exchanging barbs over his write-in candidacy to become a SFWA director-at-large. Bradford’s thread starts here.

Antonelli’s comments include —

(4) BOOKSTORE GOFUNDME. Nancy Hanger’s Star Cats Books in Vermont hopes to raise $7,500: “Save Star Cat Books in the time of Covid-19”.

Don’t let Covid-19 kill this bookstore!

Most Vermonters have already decided to shelter at home, and even at mid-day roads are close to empty. Fixed costs continue. The owner of Star Cat Books has a compromised immune system, but fears she must stay open for the few people who are looking for books for their kids or themselves. “Just closing” for two months, which is the shortest period the experts project this to last, guarantees the store will close forever. Even if two months is enough to end the risk, business will not return to normal at once.

(5) ORDER UP. Meanwhile, Jeff VanderMeer is lending a hand to his local Tallahassee bookstore Midtown Reader with sales of signed copies of his books, plus this special offer to receive a unique autographed item —

(6) TIME AGAIN TO POP THE LID. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid barrels onward – here a link to the issue for 20th March 2020.

This week, there’s a look at how Netflix often write genre fiction kids very well, focusing on Lost in Space, Locke & Key and October Faction. We’ve also got a look at Marieke Nijkamp, Manuel Preitano, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles’ excellent Barbara Gordon YA graphic novel The Oracle Code. An interview with Marieke is planned for a future issue too (Although it did sneak into the Contents page here. Barbara Gordon folks, best hacker in the business). 

We’re also ramping up Signal Boost as multiple creatives and creative industries struggle under the growing changes to the fabric of modern life. If you have a project you’d like over 500 extra sets of eyes on, do get in touch.

(7) FREE PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Forthcoming issues and a lot of digital archives can be accessed free announced PW’s President, George Slowik.

We will make the digital magazine available to everyone regardless of whether you subscribe starting with the current issue (March 16, 2020).

Everyone can now access the digital edition of PW from www.digitalpw.com or from the PW app on iOS and Android.

Additionally, articles, past bestsellers lists and the reviews database, which includes a search feature and the reviews listed by genre, will be made available to all.

And last, I am very pleased to share access to our recently launched archive database. The archive includes 7,597 past issues, 676,133 pages, 400,000 book reviews, 5,000 author profiles and interviews and, beginning in 1895, bestseller lists.


  • March 21, 1989 Gor II, also known as Outlaw of Gor, premiered. It is a sequel to Gor and is directed this time by John Cardos. It is based on the Gor series by John Norman, but varies quite a bit from the original Outlaw of Gor novel. It starred Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, Donna Denton, Russell Savadier and, yes, Jack Palance. You can see it here as lovingly critiqued on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1915 Ian Stuart Black. British screenplay writer best known for scripting two First Doctor stories, “The Savages” and “The War Machines” (with Kit Pedler and Pat Dunlop) and a Third Doctor story, “The Macra Terror”. He wrote thirteen episodes of The Invisible Man as well as episodes of One Step BeyondThe SaintStar Maidens and Danger Man. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1944 Lorene Yarnell. She was actually part of Shields and Yarnell, a well-known mime team, but you will know her as Dot Matrix on Spaceballs. She had a few previous genre appearances including being a villain named Forimicida on Wonder Women, and Sonia on The Wild Wild West Revisted. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1944 — Hilary Minster. He appeared twice on Doctor Who, one in a Third Doctor story, “Planet of the Daleks” and before that in a Second Doctor story, “Genesis of the Daleks.” He also was in “Achilles Heel”, an episode of The Tomorrow People, and he had a minor role in The Girl in a Swing film based on the Richard Adams novel. Finally, he was Fritz, a German soldier, in Timeslip, a children’s SF series. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 74. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and License to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now!  He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials.
  • Born March 21, 1946 Terry Dowling, 74. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Minnight which I’ve not read. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but Kindle has this plus several story collections. 
  • Born March 21, 1947 Don Markstein. He was the creator and sole maintainer of Don Markstein’s Toonpedia which is subtitled A Vast Repository of Toonological Knowledge. It is an encyclopedia of print cartoons, comic strips and animation started in  2001. He said, “The basic idea is to cover the entire spectrum of American cartoonery.” (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 64. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books and is well known for her and husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Making Light superb weblog, Back in the Eighties, they published the Izzard fanzine. And she has three pieces in The Essential Bordertown, edited by Delia Sherman and Terri Windling. 
  • Born March 21, 1985 Sonequa Martin-Green, 35. She currently plays Michael Burnham on Discovery which is now I believe in its third series. She had a brief recurring role as Tamara in Once Upon a Time, and a much longer recurring role on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams but I’ve never seen her there as zombies hold no interest to me. Well Solomon Grundy does…  And she was in the Shockwave, Darkside film.


(11) COMIC BOOK EVENT POSTPONED. Free Comic Book Day is also a casualty of the coronavirus outbreak — “Free Comic Book Day 2020 Postponed”.

As the impact and spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, Diamond Comic Distributors is aware that Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) will be impacted to varying degrees throughout the world. With that in mind, Diamond Comic Distributors has made the difficult decision to postpone the event to a date later in the Summer.

“The severity and timing of the impact of the COVID-19 virus can’t be predicted with any certainty, but the safety of our retailer partners and comic book fans is too important to risk. As always, we appreciate your enthusiasm for and support of the comic industry’s best event and look forward to celebrating with you later in the Summer,” said Diamond Founder and CEO, Steve Geppi.

Free Comic Book Day 2020 offers a selection of 47 titles available absolutely free at participating local comic shops across the United States and around the world….

(12) TOO LATE THE PHYSICIAN. AP reports: “China exonerates doctor reprimanded for warning of virus”.

China has exonerated a doctor who was officially reprimanded for warning about the coronavirus outbreak and later died of the disease, a startling admission of error by the ruling Communist Party that generally bodes no challenges to its authority.

The party’s top disciplinary body said the police force in Wuhan had revoked its admonishment of Dr. Li Wenliang that had included a threat of arrest.

It also said a “solemn apology” had been issued to Li’s family and that two police officers, identified only by their surnames, had been issued “disciplinary punishments” for the original handling of the matter.

(13) ESCAPE. Atlas Obscura illustrates “How Soviet Science Magazines Fantasized About Life in Outer Space”.

A tall stele rises from a deeply cratered surface, casting a long, ominous shadow past a row of smaller towers. Straight lines connect the structures to each other, like streets on a map or the projected moves in a game of cosmic chess. The Earth floats serenely in the dark sky, next to the logo that reads Tekhnika—molodezhi, Russian for Technology for the Youth, a Soviet popular science magazine that launched in 1933. The magazine cover, from 1969, illustrated an article highlighting photographs from Luna 9, the Soviet unmanned spacecraft that was the first to survive a landing on the Moon a few years earlier.

This imagined moonscape is one of more than 250 otherworldly images from the upcoming, visually delightful book, Soviet Space Graphics: Cosmic Visions from the USSR, by Alexandra Sankova, director and founder of the Moscow Design Museum, which collaborated on the book with her. 

(14) SEEN YOU SOMEWHERE BEFORE. ScreenRant matches up “10 Pairs of Famous Movies That Used The Same Set”.

5 Blazing Saddles & John Carter – Vasquez Rocks

Key examples of both include Blazing Saddles, which used the rocks to portray the harsh terrain of the Western desert, and John Carter, which used them to convey the harsh terrain of Mars.

Speaking of Star Trek, one of the first uses of this location was in the original series, when Kirk had to go down to an alien planet and battle a lizard-human to death. The episode made the locale a common go-to for Westerns and science fiction films looking to create foreign landscapes.

(15) LAURENTIANS, REASSEMBLE! BBC reports “Diamond samples in Canada reveal size of lost continent”.

Canadian scientists have discovered a fragment of an ancient continent, suggesting that it was 10% larger than previously thought.

They were studying diamond samples from Baffin Island, a glacier-covered land mass near Greenland, when they noticed a remnant of North Atlantic Craton.

Cratons are ancient, stable parts of the Earth’s continental crust.

The North American Craton stretched from present-day Scotland to North America and broke apart 150m years ago.

Scientists chanced on the latest evidence as they examined exploration samples of kimberlite, a rock that often contains diamonds, from Baffin Island.

(16) YIELD OF THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS. The outbreak inspired France24’s English-language service to look at the ways genre creators have already thought about the problem in “Dystopia vs reality: Sci-fi movies are helping us gain a critical outlook on society.”

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the world, we take at a look at certain sci-fi movies and dystopian novels that had perhaps predicted certain consequences of such an outbreak. In this edition, we also explore the influence and the critical outlook that TV series can have on science and innovation but also politics and society at large.

(17) NO STATUE OF LIMITATIONS? I don’t feel too broken up about the predicament as stated in the NBC Sports headline, but they did get me to click and find out about the “curse” – maybe you will too. “Coronavirus could prevent Hanshin Tigers from breaking the Curse of the Colonel”.

…The finger-lickin’ curse was placed on the team following their triumph in the 1985 Japan Series over the Seibu Lions. Revelers took to the streets of Osaka in celebration of their favorite team’s first championship, and many of them gathered on Ebisu Bridge for a familiar ritual.

Japanese baseball fans are like soccer fans. They don’t stoically sit in the grandstand and only make noise when prompted to by organ players or jumbotrons. They have chants and songs for all sorts of occasions and for every player, with brass instrumental accompaniments. Japanese baseball, you see, actually encourages fun.

So there upon the bridge, they sang the songs for each of the victorious players and selected a member of the crowd who most looked like each of the players, and gave them the honor of jumping down into the canal below. This was all well and good until they got to Randy Bass, who had just won the series MVP award for the Tigers. There weren’t any Caucasian guys in the crowd, so the revelers purloined a statue of Colonel Sanders from outside of a nearby KFC and tossed it into the canal.

This has since been regarded as a karmically poor decision, as the Tigers proceeded to finish under .500 for the next 18 years.

The idea that the team had been cursed by making the Colonel sleep with the fishes quickly spread. Numerous attempts were made to recover the statue to no avail, and the proprietor of the KFC outlet was apologized to, but nothing could seem to cure the team’s misfortune….

[Thank to Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kenned, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Rich Lynch, Alan Baumler, Mlex, Alasdair Stuart, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/21/20 Social Distancing Warriors

  1. Lou Antonelli: I explained to you about the situation with Gerrold and WorldCon in 2015. If you don’t get it, it’s not my problem.

    Dude, there is nothing that you could “explain” about what you did to David Gerrold and Sasquan that would make it less awful than it actually is.

    There is nothing that you could “explain” about what you did to Camestros Felapton and Foz and Toby Meadows that would make it less awful than it actually is.

    There is nothing that you could “explain” about what you did to Carrie Cuinn that would make it less awful than it actually is.

    There is nothing that you could “explain” about what you did to Aaron Pound that would make it less awful than it actually is.

  2. @10: I’ll bite: what’s the specific reference? (Feel free to rot-13 so others can continue to cudgel their brains.)

    @12: I was brought up to think it’s wrong, but ISTM that in the PRC “I was only following orders” really ought to be a defense — especially given a recent London Review of Books article on how much the civil service exam has to do with proving you have the Party mindset (to the extent that it requires a mind…). Of course, there’s no telling where that could stop; subjects might start to question everything about the system….

    @15: very cute headline on a fascinating story.

    @17: as someone who arrived in Boston who arrived in the middle of an 84-year drought, I think of a curse that has lasted only 35 years is pretty small potatoes — even if drowning a graven image of the purveyor of grease might be considered praiseworthy when compared to selling a star player to finance a tacky show.

  3. Chip Hitchcock: @10: I’ll bite: what’s the specific reference?

    Gurl’ir whfg pbzcnpgrq gur Gva Zna sebz Gur Jvmneq bs Bm.

  4. That “O’Toole From Moscow” recreation sounds great and I hope people outside Cincinnati get a chance to hear it!

  5. Svengoolie seems to have made an appeal on his TV show tonight for people to vote for him in the Rondo Awards. They crashed the Rondo site, and I guess people are Googling alternatives, which is how I explain that for a brief while File 770 had over 150 active users online, and the February post with the Rondo nominees now has a thousand hits. Good grief!

  6. With the cancellation of the Eastercon, my 2020 TAFF voyage as originally plotted is now officially completely killed. That just means we’ll have to start planning anew Real Soon Now. I will go on, and the TAFF Subcommittee of the Secret Masters of Fandom are encouraging me to do so.

  7. (9) Timothy Dalton was also in The Rocketeer (1991).

    Whenever I see Rot13, I think of the Damon Knight story Babel II, in particular the guy repeating to whoever will listen, “Mip-piqvak opoyfl!” (or, in Rpt13, “Tbq-qnzarq vqvbgf!”)

  8. I found the Knight story in Google Books (Infinite Jests anthology) and the correct spelling is “Myp-piqvap opoyfl!”. (It’s being shouted repeatedly by the protagonist, to a crowd in the lobby of the NY Public Library. At least, that’s how they’re hearing it.) In Knight’s transformations, vowels stay vowels, unlike Rot15.

  9. (14) The Bradbury Building was also used for an Outer Limits episode (Demon with a Glass Hand?). And don’t forget Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park. It has been used for hundreds and perhaps thousands of movies and TV shows.

  10. (9) Matthew Broderick’s birthday. Some of his early work was genre. They’ve been showing WarGames on one of the antenna networks and it holds up pretty well if you ignore the computer tech. Also did Ladyhawke and Project X at the start of his career. Eventually played Feynman in Infinity and provided the voice for Simba and Despereaux.

    Are there any other current horror movie hosts other than Svengoolie? Elvira still at it? Wikipedia lists 11 for the 2010s, but I only recognize those two plus Joe Bob Briggs and MST3K which are slightly different.

    Life scrolls pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss pix.

  11. (14) Vazquez rocks was also used in an Outer Limits episode, The Zanti Misfits; this was pre-Star Trek.
    @Stephen Fritter: yes, the Bradbury building was used in Demon with a Glass Hand, from season two.

  12. Given all the activity with Concellation 2020, is it too soon to start planning a 2021 or 2022 event themed around diseases, plagues, and epidemics? Or possibly a WorldCon bid so themed? I think it’s a killer idea myself, and I even have the name for it: CONtagion. Who’s in?

  13. @Daniel Dern & @Mike Glyer: I love the “Social Distancing Warriors” scroll title! 😀 Brilliant!

    (5) ORDER UP. I can’t imagine buying a physical book right now. I can wipe down or wash almost anything else I bring into the house, but a book’s tougher to clean without damaging it. (This is a general comment; this pixel just reminded me of my concern.)

    (8) TODAY IN HISTORY. There was a second “Gor” movie?! Okay then.

  14. @Kendall —

    (5) ORDER UP. I can’t imagine buying a physical book right now. I can wipe down or wash almost anything else I bring into the house, but a book’s tougher to clean without damaging it.

    Fortunately, you don’t really need to. The virus only lives for a day or two on surfaces. If you get a book in the mail, for instance, just leave it in its packaging for two days and you’re golden.

  15. @Kendall I had thought they filmed the two Gor movies simultaneously and then released them separately. They’re both about 90 minutes long. Can’t find much production info in the usual places.

    There’s an IMDB note that Jack Palance only shows up for 3 minutes in the first movie. Wikipedia quotes Norman saying that Ballantine refused to do movie tie-ins with either film.

    Pixel Scroller of Gor

  16. I just hope that there is a bid committee who were planning on revealing a bid for the 2021 Eastercon and will be able to do so by other means. Unlike Worldcons, the whole Eastercon succession has been a bit ropy as long as I’m aware of them. I am told that the constitution says that a new Con should be in place two years in advance, but I’ve only ever known a con to be announced for the following year.

  17. JJ Wrote:

    There is nothing that you could “explain” about what you did to Carrie Cuinn that would make it less awful than it actually is.

    You link there is bringing up a 404, and searching the blog for Antonelli doesn’t show anything.
    I’m aware of Lou’s other crazinesses, and slightly loathe to ask, if Carie has decided this isn’t something she wants to say more about, but can you provide a quick precis?

  18. Meredith Moment:

    The Kill Society, book 9 of the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey, is currently available for $1.99 from Amazon US — or free with KU.

    This series is a ton of fun, and this book was one of the better installments, IMHO. I wouldn’t really recommend any of them as standalones, but it might be worth a try if you just want to get the flavor of the series.

  19. Vasquez Rocks was also “Mintaka 3” in the Trek: Next Gen ep “Who Watches the Watchers. Cast & crew were initially thrilled at the notion of shooting there, not just for the place’s iconic SF & Trek history, but also because Next Gen rarely went on location and everyone was sick of the smoky soundstage Planet of the Cardboard Rocks. However, on the day, a heat wave hit and Vasquez was over 100 degrees. And those costumes — well, there’s a lot of wool in ’em. So if nobody seems to be moving ALL that fast when they’re running around ‘chasing’ Riker, now you know why.

    (That ep had an AMAZING guest cast including Ray Wise, Kathryn Leigh Scott, James Greene, and a young fireball named Pamela who lit up the set with her energy, professionalism, and humor; Hans and I predicted Good Things for her, but the amazing Pamela Adlon has given us BETTER THINGS, currently in its fourth season on FX and Hulu, in which she stars/writes/directs, and it’s brilliant, go watch!)

  20. @Mike: You’re correct: I am surprised! I don’t recall anything resembling the rocks in either of those films (although I haven’t seen either of them in quite some time). IMDB also says that the Vazquez rocks area was used in the 1940 Victor Mature/Carol Landis One Million B.C.

    Of the 412 titles IMDB lists as having filmed at Vazquez rocks, 161 predate The Zanti Misfits and 195 predate Arena, including a previous Star Trek episode, Shore Leave.

  21. Kendall asks 8) TODAY IN HISTORY. There was a second “Gor” movie?! Okay then.

    It was. It wasn’t really a sequel to the first, nor was It that accurate to the novel it supposedly based on, but it has swords, sorcery, and lots of almost scantily clad female performers. A nerd fantasy as one critic pit it. John Norman disowned it which tells you a lot about it.

  22. @Contrarius: I list “books” with “hard surfaces” in my head, and viruses can live for quite a bit longer than 1-2 days on hard surfaces. I realize a dust jacket or trade cover isn’t as hard as a counter or table, but it makes me nervous.

    But that’s a good point about leaving it in the package for a while. I’ll keep this in mind, thanks. My spouse is doing that with some soda already. I suppose I’m too used to tearing into a package to get my grubby little paws on books immediately, heh, so that didn’t even cross my mind!

    @Jack Lint: “Pixel Scroller of Gor” 😀

  23. “Vasquez Rocks” is also a good description of that woman in Aliens with the big gun! 😀

  24. (8) and the direct-to-punchtape sequel sequel, IN-LAWS OF GOR.
    (Not to be confused with the LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS cross-over with HOUSEPLANT OF GOR…)

    Glad you liked this title!

  25. @PhilRM My guess for Dracula is when Jonathan Harker is going to Castle Dracula his coach has to go through a mountain pass at some point. Maybe it was filling in for the Carpathian Mountains.

    I haven’t a clue on Frankenstein. The monster does scale some rocks at some point, but I had thought they were in the studio. Maybe it’s like the Wilhelm Scream in that once you start looking for it, you find it everywhere.

    The Wilhelm Scroll

  26. Mike Walsh:

    Re Antonelli and SFWA …in case I missed it, don’t you have to be member of SFWA? And is Antonelli a member of SFWA?

    Yes, he is.

  27. @Contrarius: I knew I’d trip on my casual phrasing. Yes, I was thinking of Coronavirus even though I said viruses, since I’d read something very recently about how testing of surfaces had shown Coronavirus lingering longer. (I mean the current Coronavirus; yes, there are others, I know.)

    Anyway, clearly what I read was out of date or plain incorrect, so thanks for the link! Book covers are probably closer to cardboard than to plastic. Well, okay, I don’t know how they laminate book covers, but still, that means 1-2 days, tops, which is nice to hear. Thanks!

  28. Contrarius says Viruses are not all created equal. Some can live on surfaces for longer than others. Coronavirus doesn’t last very long.

    At the food pantry, our new clients, of which they’re have been many these past two weeks, fill out a form and deposit it in a box in the the unheated foyer where it’ll stay until the coming Friday. We’re told by the State CDC that’s more than enough time to kill any coronavirus that might be on the firms from them. So yes, a book in a sealed package from Amazon should be safe after several days.

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