Pixel Scroll 3/23/19 Pixelon File Was Dream Given Scroll

(1) OUT OF SCHOOL. Nineties throwback comedy series Schooled did an episode last week about the premiere of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. LA fan Shawn Crosby made an appearance, and several 501st and Rebel Legion members were extras, portraying costumed Star Wars fans at the theater audience.

Shawn is here holding a Yoda puppet —

Here’s a snippet:

Here’s a one-minute scene.

(2) TOOL RECOGNITION. Kristine Kathryn Rusch uses the comma to pry open a discussion of a writer’s “voice”: “Business Musings: Punctuation, Voice, and Control”

…Writers feel like they got enough of that “grammar crap” in school, when they probably got very little at all. And what they did get, usually, was a turgid discussion of hard and fast rules which aren’t really hard and which certainly aren’t fast.

So, (she writes, with an introductory comma and a second grammatically unnecessary comma), here’s the short version of my comma rant.

The manuscript you have just finished writing is not your story. Your story lives in your mind. The manuscript is a tool that takes the story from your head and puts it in my head.

The very best writers use that manuscript tool so effectively that readers can actually hear the writer’s voice as they read. That’s why so many readers have a visceral response to writers like Stephen King or Nora Roberts. (Oh, I hate them. They can’t write. Or Oh, I love them. They could tell me stories forever.) That’s why so many English students and unsophisticated writers will complain that certain bestsellers “can’t write their way out of a paper bag.” Those reviewers, students, readers, and writers are all reacting to upper-level voice, without realizing it.

(3) WHO’S TO BLAME? (Re)Generation Who 5, a Doctor Who convention due to be held in Rockville, Maryland next weekend, just canceled today, less than a week ahead. Their short. rather detail-lacking press release here blames the decision on cancellations by the actors.

As a result of a string of last minute cancellations, we see no alternative but to cancel (Re)Generation Who 5. We want to apologize for this as we tried every way possible to move forward, but could not find a way to produce an event of the quality you have come to expect from us.

We will be working with our team to determine if there are any options moving forward.

Please note you will need to contact the hotel directly if have guest room reservations.

Onezumi Events inc.

Names were not specified apart from Paul McGann, the only actor cancellation announced on the convention’s website.

(4) FEARSOME POET. From the Horror Writers Association blog, “Nightmares and Haiku: An Interview with Bram Stoker Award Winning Poet Christina Sng”.

A: The home I grew up in was situated opposite a World War II torture chamber. Long had there been rumors about it being haunted, with one aunt refusing to ever return when she saw a spectre and another hearing chains being dragged down the hallway. You can imagine what effect this had on a child. It was a shadowy apartment unit on the ground floor and I was often left to play by myself in the large bedroom my siblings and I shared. It was sectioned in parts by tall cupboards that seemed to loom over me. I had lots of imaginary friends and time to think and ponder about life, which perhaps has influenced how I write and the stories I tell.

(5) GUIDED DETOUR. Andrew Liptak, who already posted links to the stories that inspired the short films, has made additional reading recommendations at The Verge: “Want more Love, Death + Robots? Read these 17 short stories online”.

Last week, Netflix released its 18-episode animated anthology Love, Death + Robots, a decidedly NSFW series that adapted a number of short stories from well-known science fiction authors. It’s clear from watching the series that there’s a nearly endless supply of source material out there for another season, if Netflix green-lights one. While we wait to see whether that happens, we’ve rounded up some recommendations for a good season 2, and we’ve got 17 recommendations that you can read online now (along with a couple of deep cuts that you’ll have to hunt for.)


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 23, 1904 H. Beam Piper. I’m reasonably sure that the first thing I read and enjoyed by him was Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen followed by Little Fuzzy and related works which are damn fun reading. Didn’t Scalzi write a new novel in this series a few years back? (Died 1964.)
  • Born March 23, 1934 Neil Barron. Certainly best known for Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction which actually is still a damn fine read. If memory thirty years on serves me right, his Fantasy Literature and Horror Literature guides were quite good too. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 23, 1935 Michael Emmet Walsh, 84. He’s been in a lot of genre work, some of it good and some of it not, Blade Runner being great, Wild Wild West being just plain shit and The Iron Giant being fantastic. In the latter, he voices Earl Stutz, a sailor and the first man to see the robot. He also had appearances on Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits, X-Files and Adventure Time
  • Born March 23, 1952 Kim Stanley Robinson, 67. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that he’d written, he’d rank among the best sf writers ever. But then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. I won’t say everything he writes I consider top-flight, the Science in the Capital series just didn’t appeal to me. His one-off novels I think are without argument The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140. I should note he has won myriad awards I including the Hugo Award for Best Novel, BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. And the Heinlein Society gave him their Robert A. Heinlein Award for his entire body of works! 
  • Born March 23, 1957 Amanda Plummer, 61. Best known for her work in as Joe Versus the Volcano, The Fisher King and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. And she apparently was in Freejack as a Nun. 
  • Born March 23, 1976 Michelle Monaghan, 43. Best known I’ve no doubt for playing Julia Meade in Mission: Impossible III, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Mission: Impossible: Fallout but she was in In much more hardcore genre film, to wit Constantine as Ellie. Now admittedly it was initially an uncredited cameo but… now she does get credit for her work in Justice League: War for voicing Wonder Woman. She also Violet van Patten in Pixels, a very strange SF film.


Here’s a bouquet of Bob the Angry Flowers:

(8) CRAVING HISTORY. MeTV sighs, “Oh, how we want these 8 Hostess snack cakes to come back”. Number 3 includes a Marvel reference —

The official Hostess site touts its Cherry, Apple and Lemon varieties of Fruit Pies. That’s great and all, but what about Blueberry, Blackberry, Peach and Pineapple? 

(9) MYTHING IN ACTION. Time to go back — “Planet Venus: Hopes rise of new mission to the hothouse world”.

The longstanding idea that Venus is geologically dead is a “myth”, scientists say.

And new research may be on the verge of ending that perception forever.

Hints of ongoing volcanic and tectonic activity (activity in the planet’s outer shell) suggest that, while different to the Earth, the planet is very much alive.

Now scientists are building new narratives to explain the planet’s landscape.

This includes an idea that proposes the existence of “toffee planets”. This theory incorporates knowledge accumulated through studying exoplanets.

(10) SCIENCE WITHOUT THE -FI. The editorial in this week’s Science brings together some sff with science: “The future of science in film”.

Film is a universal language of modern societies. Larger-than-life images, stories, ideas, and characters portrayed in films can speak across the globe. This makes science and technology—which have shaped the modern world but remain little understood and poorly integrated into mainstream culture—a rich subject for film and a goldmine for filmmakers.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Mythos” on Vimeo, Stephen Kelleher gives short animations of classic Greek myths.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cath Jackel, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dale Arnold, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/23/19 Pixelon File Was Dream Given Scroll

  1. 6) Scalzi wrote Fuzzy Nation (2011), a “reimaging” of Little Fuzzy.

    There are a number of other sequels to Piper’s works. John F. Carr has written a long series of sequels to Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, for example. There are three different sets of sequels to Space Viking.

    Oh, and First!

  2. (3) WHO’S TO BLAME?

    I’m going to bet that the actor guests were cancelling because their advance hotel and airfare reservations hadn’t been paid.

  3. Joseph T Major says Scalzi wrote Fuzzy Nation (2011), a “reimaging” of Little Fuzzy.

    That’s the one I remember as it drove the the Puppies of all pissing sorts nuts as they firmly believed a liberal was the wrong person to continue this libertarian adventure.. And of course being a Scalzi novel, it wouldn’t sell worth shit. I won’t say it was his best work by a long shot but it was reasonably entertaining.,

  4. The birthday article about Stan Robinson seems to imply that Three Californias came after the Mars trilogy. In fact those are his first three published novels.

    Tonight I went to see Star Wars play, with a live symphony orchestra playing the soundtrack. (Including the 20th Century Fox fanfare! But not including the cantina band music, alas.) That’s the most fun I’ve had watching a movie since I don’t remember when. Still my favorite of them, the one that started it all. Might also help that it came out when I was nine years old.

  5. I really enjoyed Robinson’s The Gold Coast. I slogged my way through the Mars trilogy, but can’t say I enjoyed it. Shortly afterwards I started allowing myself to not finish books I didn’t like. I still remember an entire paragraph full of slightly different words for shades of red used to describe a sunset.

    Re 2) ‘Writers feel like they got enough of that “grammar crap” in school’ What kind of professional writer wouldn’t want to continue to improve their craft?

  6. David Goldfarb says The birthday article about Stan Robinson seems to imply that Three Californias came after the Mars trilogy. In fact those are his first three published novels.

    Fussy, fussy. Brain injuries are such thst recognising duch orders are rather difficult. I though Mars was first therefore it was first. No sense trying to tell it otherwise. Mike, do reverse their order please!

    It’s 4.15 and I’m just 45 minutes away from my first IV antibiotics of the day, it’s given six times a day. It’s day twelve of what I’m now told is likely to be 45 days here as that’s the anticipated recovery time.

    It must be done in-hospital due to to the nature of the infection and the sheep panopticon nature of the surrounding medical treatment. The nursing staff is scare shitless at the likelihood of a secondary infection, one I’ve probably already got but hasn’t fully debeloped yet.

    I’m going to get something of my SF collection brought such as maybe Dune as i just something physical here to read. Time off the iPad is needed.

  7. @Steve: Just what I was going to ask – maybe what is meant is “Return of the Jedi” (1983) or even “Empire Strikes Back” (1980).

  8. The Wikipedia entry says the series is a 90s-era show. Obviously very late 90s, since Phantom Menace was released in 1999.

  9. 6) I also recall that there were additional novels iand stories n Piper’s Lord Kalvan series done by Pournelle and others.

    Also 6) Michele Monaghan w as also in SOURCE CODE.

  10. @JJ: That makes sense.

    I guess I read Robinson all out of order – the first one of his I read was “A Memory of Whiteness” and I didn’t read the Californias trilogy until a few years later.

  11. @1: I see a few people have already commented on the typo — should @Steve Green and @JJ split a beverage, since one spotted first and the other supplied the correction?

    @2 makes a lot of good points, but I choked over

    We all understand delivery systems. When the system breaks down, you’ll need a new and different system. (You don’t try to patch the old system.)

    Has she never been employed by a corporation? If so, has she never even heard horror stories thereof? Has she paid no attention to the Boeing 737 Max issue? (That’s looking like the overarching problem was the attempt to stretch a design further than it could go, because keeping it was cheaper and faster to market than starting from scratch.) Delivery systems (however you define them) are just as subject to this as is anything else that time and money have been invested in. I can see her point — that sometimes a manuscript has to be rewritten from scratch rather than tweaked — but her attempt to generalize is broken.
    I get her point that fiction is expressive (rather than merely expository like a tech manual), but I note in opposition that a common argument in the arts is that would-be artists should learn the rules so they know what they’re doing when they break them. (Amis uses this very effectively in the middle of The Alteration to show us that Hubert has more potential as a composer than as a castrato.) Writing does have the issues that (a) it is taught as exposition rather than art and (b) the rules are — put kindly — not universal. (See, e.g., Lynne Murphy’s The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship between American and British English, which IIRC doesn’t call out prescriptivists like Lynne Truss by name but clearly has little time for them.) I’ve discussed voice (not explicitly but in terms of “Do you really want this odd construction”) with a couple of authors back when I was editing for NESFA Press; ISTM it’s a delicate balance, in which Rusch is giving feeling absolute priority over clarity.

    @6: As @Joseph T. Major notes, Scalzi didn’t write a new Fuzzy novel; he did a punked-up remake of the original. To me it read like a parody of the way avant-garde directors were said to be planning to “update” Shakespeare not by resetting the story (as, e.g., Ten Things I Hate about You) but by overlaying their modern beliefs on medieval settings. (Yes, revising our once rose-colored view of the future is plausible — but Scalzi massively overdid it.) Piper, OTOH, is also famous for “Omnilingual”, in which a periodic table of the elements serves as a Rosetta Stone because much basic science is universal.

    @6 ctd: If KSR is beyond argument, it’s because a lot of people (me included, but see also several other Filers’ comments) have given up on him. Everyone has the gout. (aka YMMV.)

    @David Goldfarb: The liner notes to the soundtrack album said that the cantina music was the one bit that was heavily electronically processed; the orchestra may not have felt up to the task. Or they may just not have wanted to bring in a steel drum and sound like a swing band….

    @JJ re @3: we’ve recently seen a lot of inexperienced people starting up cons with ridiculous attendance expectations, then crashing before their first con when the money doesn’t show. That shouldn’t have been the case here — the “about” suggests this is the 5th Who con they’ve run — but they could have tried to step up a level (more or more-distant guests?(*) ) and not been conservative enough in their planning. As someone who grew up in that area, I am unimpressed by their hotel name(**) and wondering if the con similarly overpolished its expectations.
    (*) I’ve heard from older NESFen how nervous they were about making the numbers with their first trans-Atlantic guest; the convention grew enough to support the cost, but that was when SF conventions in general were growing (early-to-mid-1970’s) and the market wasn’t so stuffed.
    (**) There’s no such thing as Bethesda North, but Bethesda is a happening toffy suburb right next to DC while Rockville is the more-removed county seat that is probably still trying to dust off a once-gritty image that includes a failed mall that cored its downtown, so Marriott went for the more-glamorous name

  12. Ardath Mayhar wrote at least one sequel to Little Fuzzy, says the totally-not-a-Little Fuzzy-fan. Ignore the Michael Whelan portrait on the wall behind me.

    And since it’s the year 6231, I can definitively state that Little Fuzzy remains just as popular now, thanks to Scalzi and his ilk.

    (Almost Third Fifth)

  13. @ Chip Hitchcock,

    I grew up on Rockville Pike and you are spot on about Bethesda North.

  14. Actually the hotel calls itself “Bethesda North” while other businesses, real estate agents, et al. call it “North Bethesda”; the latter name is often used in the westernmost stretch of Kensington as well as southern Rockville. Bethesda’s pretty wealthy, as is Potomac (which likewise has an adjacent “North Potomac” for similar reasons). These and almost all other parts of Montgomery County are unincorporated, with a few exceptions such as the Town of Kensington (which includes only part of “Kensington”) and the City of Rockville.

    The co-narrator of John Varley’s novel Millennium, the FAA investigator, describes his home in Kensington, but whether Varley ever visited the area, I don’t know.

  15. Both The Goldbergs and Schooled say in the opening that they are set, respectively, in “nineteen-eighty-something” and “nineteen-ninety-something.” The shows don’t necessarily progress chronologically (or consistently) and I’ve never really tried to match up dates with real events therein. I don’t think the writers really care that much if it suits the story. Look at them as an alternate timeline fantasy.

  16. I enjoyed Fuzzy Nation a good deal, but have dim memories of rolling my eyes at a few bits.

    (2) Clarity matters. That certainly doesn’t mean prescriptivists rule, but you need to keep them in a handy drawer for use when the feeling you intended isn’t going to get through without an added dash of clarity.

  17. @Cat Eldridge

    Joseph T Major says Scalzi wrote Fuzzy Nation (2011), a “reimaging” of Little Fuzzy.

    That’s the one I remember as it drove the the Puppies of all pissing sorts nuts

    Puppies weren’t a thing yet in 2011, were they?

  18. And Michelle Monaghan is also in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which may not be genre, but is very meta. And it has Val Kilmer playing “Gay Perry”. Sample dialog:
    [Val Kilmer] Look up “idiot” in the dictionary. You know what you’ll find?
    [Robert Downey Jr.] A picture of me?
    [Val Kilmer] No! The definition of the word idiot, which you fucking are!

  19. Chip Hitchcock on March 24, 2019 at 7:05 am said:

    a common argument in the arts is that would-be artists should learn the rules so they know what they’re doing when they break them.

    Part of the problem with that is that many of the so-called “rules” in the arts are unclear and/or simply wrong. They’re frequently invented from whole-cloth by people who aren’t actually very good at self-analysis, even if they are skilled at the art in question.

    I mean, yes, it’s important to learn the fundamentals of your art. Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious what those fundamentals are, despite many (confusing, contradictory) claims.

    I spent years being confused about the passive voice, because I’d been told that The Elements of Style was an excellent guide. So every time I thought I was starting to get a handle on pv, I’d go back and look at TEoS and end up confused all over again. It wasn’t until a linguist, Geoffrey Pullum, pointed out that three of White’s four examples of the “bad passive voice” didn’t even use the passive voice that a great light dawned on me.

    (Learning that White and Orwell actually used the passive voice in their own writings more frequently than most other writers do–about 20% vs. the average of around 17%–was gravy at that point.) 🙂

    So, summing up, it’s easy to say “learn the rules first before you attempt to break them”, but there’s so many nonsensical pseudo-rules out there that this is a lot more difficult than it sounds. And if great writers routinely break a supposed rule, it’s a lot more likely that it wasn’t actually a rule in the first place than that they’ve all just learned how to get away with breaking it.

  20. Something that almost eluded me – and I backed the previous Kickstarter – that I’d like to mention here, now that I’ve backed the new-and-almost-complete Kickstarter.

    The Kickstarted comic BLACK has a sequel being Kickstarted right now: WHITE. The micro-description is: “How does a nation struggling with a history of racial inequality cope in a world where only black people have superpowers?” BLACK was very good and I recommend it. You can Kickstart WHITE and get access to BLACK as well, in fact! It has a week left and is close to its $39,999 goal. Fingers crossed!

    In other news, uh . . . I got nothing else right now. Still OCDishly trying to catch up here, one post at a time, but I’m thinking I need to just give up and be current. But . . . must . . . read . . . all . . . File 770. . . . 😉

  21. Kendall, I’m in the same boat. When my dad died the same November week that I started a new job, my schedule went haywire, and I’ve never really recovered.

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