Pixel Scroll 3/12/16 Crosseyed and Pixelless

(1) A TERRAN ECLIPSE. Click to see the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 11

This snapshot from deep space captures planet Earth on March 9. The shadow of its large moon is falling on the planet’s sunlit hemisphere. Tracking toward the east (left to right) across the ocean-covered world the moon shadow moved quickly in the direction of the planet’s rotation. Of course, denizens of Earth located close to the shadow track centerline saw this lunar shadow transit as a brief, total eclipse of the Sun. From a spacebased perspective between Earth and Sun, the view of this shadow transit was provided by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC).

(2) GROKKING THE FULLNESS. In “Fandom Needs to Change to Insure Its Future Survival”, Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson devotes 3,500 words to thinking outside his box on the subject of Worldcons.  (The newer ideas are in the last half of the piece.)

Fandom is growing.  It’s growing tremendously.  Unfortunately, the major percentage of that growth is taking place under the auspices of institutions and organizations that are not themselves fannish (or are fannish so long as being so is in service to making a profit).

As fans, we like to say that we’re not in “competition” with events such as SDCC or Dragoncon.  Not only do we dismiss Anime conventions and multi-media cons as doing something that we’re not doing, we discount the experience that attendees and staff gain from these events.  In our minds there is a difference between the conventions that are connected to fan history and largely follow fannish traditions (you buy a membership, not a ticket;  we don’t pay guest to appear;  we’re focused on the literature; those aren’t real conventions) and those that aren’t.  We go to great pains to try and distinguish the bona fides of small ‘f’ fans and large ‘F’ fans.

But here’s the problem:  the non-traditional conventions are offering the vast majority of “fannish experiences” these days.  Traditional conventions have such a small footprint in national awareness that so far as most potential fans are concerned, non-traditional events ARE fandom.

In short, it is non-traditional events that are educating the public about what fandom is and what it’s all about.  Not traditional fandom.

(3) INCOMING. Neil Clarke analyzed the “2015 Clarkesworld Submissions Stats”, complete with beautiful graphs.

In 2015, we received submissions from 109 different countries. In the above chart, the blue bar represents the percentage of total submissions for that country. The green bar indicates the percentage of all acceptances. (Reminder: The Chinese translations are handled by a separate process and not included in these numbers.)

Note: If you feel inclined to proclaim that this data indicates that I have a bias towards international submissions, perhaps you should read this editorial. That said, it pleases me that Clarkesworld has a more global representation of science fiction. There’s a lot of great work written beyond our shores.

(4) AND A DEAFENING REPORT. James H. Burns had a blinding insight.

Hanging out at Joe Koch’s comics warehouse the other day, it suddenly occured to me, that if Barry West was Catholic, he would have no problem with Lent.

(Or, if he were Jewish, no problem with Yom Kippur.)


Because the Flash is the FASTEST man alive.

(5) SILENT SPRING AHEAD. Matt Novak has a clever question – “What Time Is The End of The Daylight?”

What time is the end of the daylight? The sun is expected to die in roughly 5 billion years. But humans—provided we survive any number of ecological, nuclear, or alien-based disasters—are only expected to last about another 1 billion years on Earth.

So technically the “daylight” will be over for humanity in 1 billion years, which is again, predicated upon the absurd assumption that we make it that long anyway.

(6) YA WORLDBUILDING. Alwyn Hamilton picks “The Top 10 invented worlds in teen books” for The Guardian.

8) Crown & Court Series by Sherwood Smith

I have recently been led to understand that the world in Sherwood Smith’s brilliant duology is supposed to be ours, set far in the future on a distant planet, where the magic is alien science. This would certainly explain why they share many touchstones with our world, while also having two moons for the characters to gaze up at and trees willing to exact revenge. But the true magic in these books for me is in the complexities of the ballroom. Smith has created a complete court to rival Versailles in intrigue, with fan language, complicated symbolism woven covertly into jewelry, long lineage that gives you the feeling every character does have a twisting family tree, and old traditions so tangible you’re sure they must have been in fashion once in our world too.

(7) CHICKENS, NOT POTATOES. This week’s The Simpsons has a Bradbury-esque title: “The Marge-ian Chronicles.”


  • March 12, 1971 The Andromeda Strain opens in theaters.


  • Born March 12, 1923 – Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra.

(10) UNCORK NO ALIEN BEFORE ITS TIME. Io9 will hook you up: “Orson Welles Hosted a NASA Documentary About Aliens in the ’70s and It Is Amazing”

It is damn near impossible to explain the joy that comes from watching Who’s Out There, a documentary on aliens made by NASA in 1975 starring real scientists, regular people, and then Orson Welles, pontificating into the camera. I cannot emphasize this enough: Spend half an hour watching this.

(11) FEARSOME. “11 Books That Scared The Master of Horror, Stephen King, And Will Terrify You, Too” from Bustle.com.

King obviously has a way with words, and his Twitter is no exception. Full of hilarious thoughts and weekly answers to reader questions, it’s always entertaining. He alternates between adorable tweets featuring his dog, Molly (aka The Thing of Evil), and recommending the books he’s reading. Being the master of horror that he is, I consider him an authority on recommendations in that genre. You could make an entire reading list based on Stephen King recommendations, and be set for a long time.

Here are 11 books that scared the unshakable Stephen King, and so are pretty much guaranteed to keep you up at night and/or give you nightmares. But hey, that’s the fun part!

(12) RAGE SHORTAGE. Lela E. Buis dropped a post about J.K. Rowling into the well of the internet but never heard it splash —  “No comments on cultural appropriation?”

Since I’ve not gotten any comments on this question at all, I’m going to assume either 1) it’s Saturday and everyone is out enjoying the spring weather or 2) there’s not much interest in what J. K. Rowling publishes on her Website.

Besides this, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of concern about cultural appropriation except as a tool to attack people who are perceived as targets in some way. I expect Native Americans are fairly used to being abused, so another semi-fictional essay on skinwalkers isn’t going to affect their social outlook one way or the other.

(13) THE LONG VIEW. “11 Amazing Discoveries By the Mars Orbiter”  at Mashable.

4. Fresh craters

The MRO has also treated scientists to views of relatively fresh craters on Mars.

One crater — which appeared in photos in 2010 — was not in images taken in 2008, meaning that whatever impact created the crater happened in between those years.

(14) THE ZERO LIFE. “Fukushima’s ground zero: No place for man or robot” from Reuters.

The robots sent in to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima’s nuclear reactors have “died”; a subterranean “ice wall” around the crippled plant meant to stop groundwater from becoming contaminated has yet to be finished. And authorities still don’t know how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site.

(15) BATMAN SINGS. In the episode of The Hollywood Palace originally aired October 8, 1966 Adam West sings “The Orange Colored Sky” and “The Summer Wind.”

(16) IT’S GOT CHARACTER. “Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9’ Studio To Be Preserved” says LA Weekly.

A storied Hollywood building once used by late pulp film director Ed Wood will be preserved by its new owners, said the sellers’ agent, Kay Sasatomi of Silver Commercial Inc.

That’s good news for fans of the low-budget auteur and for fans of the low-budget building.

The 13,650-square-foot Ed Wood structure on a seedy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood is said to have also been used as rehearsal space by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Guns N’ Roses.

The director housed his Quality Studios at the address, and classics including Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda were filmed there, according to Silver Commercial.

The building features a ground-floor dive bar, Gold Diggers, that plays home to Thai bikini dancers.

The residential hotel next door is a flophouse made famous when a suspect in the Beverly Hills murder of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen committed suicide as police descended upon the block.

There’s a lot of character here.

(17) STICKING IN HIS TWO CENTS WORTH. Spider-Man appears in the last seconds of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – Trailer 2.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

119 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/12/16 Crosseyed and Pixelless

  1. @Heather Rose Jones
    I don’t teach promotion. Social media is about building relationships not marketing. I’m more about making sure your making the best of where you hang out for people to find your stuff. Are links findable? Are you thinking like a fan/consumer with labels? Are you having fun?

    The only promotion I do teach is how to get over the fear of saying hey I just put out a new x on places like this where people have asked to be kept updated. 😉

  2. Re: TV Flash’s name and upbringing. I’m pretty sure various characters have mentioned Barry’s two (or even three, if you toss in Earth-1 “Harrison Wells” during his mentor stage) dads. But Barry’s always referred to himself as “Barry Allen”, and I can’t recall anyone referring to him as “Barry West”. I can’t imagine Barry being willing to take anyone else’s last name, no matter how much he came to love them, during the period when his father was in jail and Barry was convinced of his innocence.

  3. @Tom: (“Barry West”)

    There’s also the matter of the voiceover which starts every single episode (although sometimes they tinker just a little for effect):

    “My name is Barry Allen, and I am the fastest man alive.”

  4. “They provide a comment non-trolls can argue against without too much trouble or fear of looking stupid.”

    We have met the enemy, and he is us.

  5. Further on the “cultural appropriation” issue:

    What really seems to be setting people off about Rowling’s use of skinwalkers was not that she mentioned them, but she picked them out specifically to say “in my world, this is an evil lie, while European superstitions are true”.

  6. I think Steve Davidson is arguing that “traditional fandom” deserves some kind of primacy among genre fandoms.

    Whatever he is or not, I’ve definitely seen that attitude, to the detriment of local conventions.

    During the planning meetings for Westercon Sacramento, there was a lot of enthusiasm and suggestions for interesting events to bring in, ranging from a live band, to gaming. Then a woman who was evidently high up in the south bay cons stoodd up, and said in a voice dripping with contempt “I thought Westercon was a Science Fiction, not a media convention.”

    I found out later she was involved with Silicon, which managed to stay pure and free of media influence, up to the point it collapsed. I remember when I attended in 2010, I, in my mid-40s, was the youngest person on the party floor Saturday night. It was very free of overstimulation- only the Con Suite and the Klingon Bar was open, and even the letter seemed sad and tired.

    The Con Suite was dead silent, and pretty much blocked off by a circle of tables where bearded guys were scowling at their laptops, most likely writing livejournal entries about how Science Fiction is Doomed.

    So basically, tell me more about these media contaminated conventions.

  7. @Rose Embolism So basically, tell me more about these media contaminated conventions.

    I don’t think anyone here suggested contaminated by media. But I don’t think all conventions need to be the same. Different conventions for different people or different times.

    I’ve said before I’d like to hear less of the we tried it 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago and it didn’t work so no sense in trying it again. The world hasn’t stood still so something might work & what’s being proposed might not be exactly what was tried x years ago but a new take on it.

    What are the younger voices involved in volunteering at regional cons and Worldcon saying? What are they looking for? Too many times I’ve seen assumptions made for what young folk or POC or newbies want. It doesn’t match what the people I talk to or the blogs by those groups say they want. Listening to their full ideas including how they would implement and why they feel it would improve the con would go a long way. But the concom must be honestly committed and able to listen without automatically going into defense mode. This is hard when you’ve devoted large chunks of time and money and feel criticized for the good work you’ve done.

  8. Cat on March 13, 2016 at 5:22 pm said: Speaking as someone who goes to the woods for peace and quiet, my sympathies lie with the finger-long inedible rodent.

    Indeed. Many of these social justice and ecological interests seem to go together with a profound disinclination to leave other people alone, hence my comment.

  9. This discussion of conventions prompts me to pick the giant brains (tasty brains…ahem) of the Filers.

    I’ve been looking into Toronto and area cons and have found two literary ones: Ad Astra and SFContario. Does anyone have experiences from these? Any other smaller area conventions that I’m missing?


  10. @The Phantom Indeed. Many of these social justice and ecological interests seem to go together with a profound disinclination to leave other people alone, hence my comment.

    I’ve noticed this same problems with trolls. I disinclination to leave other people alone. Maybe you could try bucking the trend. Be a trendsetting troll. Leave other’s alone.

  11. I used to think there were two types of conventions. I grew up in fandom—attended my first Westercon at age 3. When I was in my teens, my best friend’s dad took us both to a Star Trek convention, and I hated it! I didn’t feel like a participant; I felt like a consumer. So I decided: literary conventions good; media conventions bad. But then, several years later, I went to an Anime con, and it was a proper fan convention. We were participants. And I’ve tried a few other media conventions over the years, and have come to realize that there really is a whole range. And it certainly isn’t determined by anything as simplistic as literary vs. media!

    That said, Worldcon is definitely at the large end of the type of convention I prefer. The larger the convention, the harder it is to feel like a participant, rather than a consumer. Which is still, probably, the most important factor to me. Last Worldcon I was at, I found myself chatting with an author I love. And we really were just chatting. He wasn’t on stage, there wasn’t any particular audience. No moderator, no time limits. We were just talking about mutual interests over drinks. That’s the sort of thing I love about conventions, and at the huge conventions, that basically doesn’t happen, because there’s too many people demanding too much of the time of the interesting guests.

    So, no, I don’t want Worldcon to get too much bigger. 🙂

  12. As far as missed-seeing-them-when stories go, I missed seeing the Dead Kennedys on their final tour in 1986 because they were playing on the bad side of town and my mom wouldn’t let me go.

    The bad side of Chico.

    [For those not familiar with Chico: at the time it was a smallish (35k) town, oriented around the state university campus and largely agricultural otherwise. Not a hotbed of crime or bad behavior, even with oh-so-scary San Francisco punk bands visiting.]

    My husband’s story: in 1984, at L’Amour (“the rock capital of Brooklyn”, he informs me) he and his friends head-banged to a bill of Armored Saint, W.A.S.P., and “Metalli-who? Let’s go get ice cream.”

  13. The bad side of Chico.


    I was unaware of any such place, and I lived there for five years, going to college and working there after college. (B.Sc. Computer Science, CSU Chico, 1988) I was living there during the Pioneer Day Riots (out-of-control parties), but I’d spotted that trouble was coming and left town to visit my grandparents in Sutter for the weekend.

  14. @Dawn Incognito:

    I’ve been looking into Toronto and area cons and have found two literary ones: Ad Astra and SFContario. Does anyone have experiences from these? Any other smaller area conventions that I’m missing?

    Ad Astra is the old con that’s been going on since the 1980s. I’ve generally had fun with it when I’ve gone; they’ve got a good mix of events. The last few years they’ve even had people from the local Lego User’s Group show up with their own ‘gallery’.

    I’ll admit I haven’t been going as much the last few years because it’s no longer held inside Toronto proper and transit access up to Highway 7 is less reliable. This year I’ve pre-registered and I’m getting a hotel room… because the convention is actually closer to where I work than to where I live, meaning it’s a lot less time involved for me to just spend the weekend up in York Region and head to work directly from the hotel Monday morning.

    SFContario is the relative newcomer, somewhat smaller in size and held closer to downtown, and started by a number of serious old-school fans. Several of the organizers were also involved with Sasquan, and as a result SFContario has been seeing rather less organizational attention this last year or two, and is pretty much a relaxacon this year.

    There have also been some complaints about SFContario; I believe it was James Nicoll who posted this previously here: https://michaelmatheson.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/why-im-not-attending-sfcontario-or-sasquon-worldcon-2015-hydras-hearth-part-ii/

  15. Oh, and I’m not aware of any other smaller cons in the Toronto area. (Doesn’t mean there aren’t any, just that I’m not aware of them.) Several bigger ones, from the overwhelming corporate-run FanExpo to the more specialized fandom cons such as Anime North and Furnal Equinox. Toronto Trek/Polaris shut down a few years ago, and I don’t see much of anything from the organizers since 2014.

    Haven’t seen any gaming cons in Toronto ever since Pandemonium collapsed some years back.

  16. Thank you, Jenora. I’ve been to the overwhelming FanExpo and the not-quite-as-but-still-overwhelming Anime North. (Turns out I prefer to watch anime at home with my better sound system and no need for sudden hand checks.)

    Thanks for the information and the link. I remember having read that post earlier, so had a recollection of problems at Canadian cons. I was also aware of the Rene Walling situation. That was why I was wondering if anyone here had experiences at these cons, good or bad.

  17. @Dawn Incognito:
    Well, as mentioned, I’ve generally had fun at Ad Astra. It’s also next month. That said, I can’t claim to be the best person about noticing problems. I haven’t personally witnessed problems at SFContario, but I haven’t gone to many of them either.

    I did forget to mention one other smaller local con, though it’s also a relatively specialized one: FilKONtario, which is obviously a convention specializing in filk. That’s in a couple of weeks.

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