Pixel Scroll 3/8/17 And Then The Murders Began

(1) THE SMOOCH ASSUMPTION. The Washington Post knows sexy cavedellers sell, hence the headline “Neanderthal microbes reveal surprises about what they ate – and whom they kissed”.

If it’s true that “you are what you eat,” then there is perhaps no better way to understand someone than by looking at his or her teeth. Especially if that person has been dead for more than 40,000 years.

This is the philosophy of Keith Dobney, a professor of human paleoecology at the University of Liverpool and a co-author of a new study that draws some remarkable conclusions about the lives of Neanderthals by peering beneath their dental enamel.

Teeth are the hardest parts of the human body, and are more likely than any other tissue to survive centuries of corrosion and decay. And dental calculus — that mineralized plaque you get admonished about at the dentist — is particularly good at preserving the bits of food, bacteria and other organic matter that swirl around inside our mouths.

… Weyrich pointed to one eyebrow-raising discovery from the new study: a near-complete genome sequence for a strain of Methanobrevibacter oralis, a simple, single-celled organism that is known to thrive in “pockets” between modern humans’ gums and our teeth (often with not-so-pleasant results).

Weyrich says this is the oldest microbial genome ever sequenced, and it suggests that humans and Neanderthals were swapping spit as early as 120,000 years ago. The find supports the growing consensus that prehistoric hanky-panky was not uncommon between Neanderthals and ancient humans. But it also suggests that these interactions were intimate, consensual affairs.

I may not be a paleoecologist or even a good kisser but I have produced a lot of spit in my time and I can think of some other ways one person’s spit might wind up in another person’s mouth. Like, what if a Neanderthal ate some meat off a bone then handed it to the next person to finish?

(2) YOUR TYRANNOSAURICAL DUNGEON MASTER. Speaking of bones that have been eaten clean (I love a great segue) — “Fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex starts D&D campaign on Twitter”.

That’s right, SUE the Tyrannosaurus, the oldest female apex predator ever unearthed and sold at auction, has begun leading her own Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Using her surprisingly popular Twitter account, SUE is taking willing adventurers on an epic quest to free the land from brigands, evil mages and the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

With a bright yellow 20-sided die, 58 “dagger-like teeth” and her 5th edition Dungeon Masters Guide to… guide… her, SUE is weaving a tale of intrigue and treachery.

Here’s an example of a move:

(3) WHEN WORLDS DON’T COLLIDE. Just coming on my radar, though given for the first time last year, are the Planetary Awards. And if Declan Finn hadn’t mentioned them today I still wouldn’t have heard about them.

The inaugural awards for 2015 work were posted in May 2016 –

  • Best Novel: Torchship by Karl Gallagher
  • Best Short Story: “Something in the Water” by C.S. Boyack

Although any book blogger, podcaster, or “booktuber” is eligible to nominate, I detected a strong puppy flavor to this year’s Planetary Awards shortlist (for 2016 works), which proved to be the case. The names of nominators include Jeffro Johnson, Jon  del Arroz, Brian Niemeier and The Injustice Gamer.

Short Stories / Novellas

  • “Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Thune’s Vision
  • “Awakening” by Susan Kaye Quinn
  • “Edge” by Russell Newquist, found in Between the Wall and the Fire
  • “The Gift of the Ob-Men” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova #1
  • “The Glass Flower” by George RR Martin, found in Volume 2 of Dreamsongs  [DISQUALIFIED]
  • “Images of the Goddess”by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova #2
  • Paper Cut by Aeryn Rudel, found in Issue 1 of Red Sun Magazine
  • “Purytans” by Brad Torgersen, found in the July-August issue of Analog Magazine


  • Arkwright by Allen Steele
  • Babylon’s Ashes by James SA Corey
  • The Girl with Ghost Eyes by MH Boroson [DISQUALIFIED]
  • Hel’s Bet by Doug Sharp
  • The Invisible City by Brian K Lowe [DISQUALIFIED]
  • Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani
  • Murphy’s Law of Vampires by Declan Finn
  • The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier
  • Swan Knight’s Son by John C Wright

The awards are administered by the “Planetary Defense Commander” whose real name is – surprise! – shrouded in secrecy.

Although the nominees were chosen by the book bloggers, any blogger, podcaster, or youtuber may vote for the winners.

(4) SHADOW CLARKE JURY ACTIVITY. Three new entries —

This is a color-coded table of all the jurors plotted against each other, with the color scheme giving how many books each juror had in common with the others. The blue diagonal set of boxes running from top left to lower right shows that every juror has 100% overlap with their own shortlist. Also, the table is symmetric about that line, i.e., you can look at either the rows or the columns to see how each juror overlapped with the others, as they contain the same information. So, for example, Nina had 3 books in common with Megan, none with Victoria, 1 with Nick, 2 with Maureen, etc.

And there’s two book reviews –

Matthew De Abaitua’s third novel The Destructives is the final part in a loose trilogy begun in 2008 with The Red Men and continued in 2015 with If Then. Although each of the three novels can happily be read in isolation from the others, the parallels and resonances between them – not to mention a few continuing characters – make for fascinating contemplation. Above all, it is the world shared by the three – De Abaitua’s vision of catastrophic digital meltdown in the year 2020, leaving the world’s ecosystems lethally compromised and the human species stripped of its agency – that makes these novels significant in terms of their science fiction.

Written in a tight first-person perspective with neither sub-plots nor inserts to break psychological continuity Whiteley’s novel begins by introducing us to a precocious young woman on the verge of adulthood. Born to an ambitious land-owner and educated to a standard then uncommon in farmers’ daughters, Shirley Fearne is a young woman with firm opinions and a confidence that allows her to express them quite openly. In the novel’s opening section, she often holds forth on subjects such as the importance of education, the backward opinions of fellow villagers, and the important role that women will play in helping to rebuild the country after the horrors of war.


  • March 8, 1972  — Tales from the Crypt makes its screen debut.

(6) AUDIO BRADBURY. Phil Nichols’ site dedicated to Ray Bradbury includes a page listing radio shows based on Bradbury stories produced anytime from the 1940s til just ten years ago. Many are free downloads from Archive.org.

(7) ODE TO THE UNSUNG. Annalee Newitz of Ars Technica says “Fireside Fiction Company is science fictions best-kept secret”. Her praise even extends to an unsung hero who keeps their website working smoothly.

You may not have heard of Fireside Fiction Company, but it’s time you did. Packed with excellent free science fiction stories, the Patreon-supported publication has been going strong for five years. There are many reasons you need to start reading Fireside, not the least of which is its recent upgrade to GitHub Pages.

You could spend days immersed in Fireside’s back content. Editors Brian White and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry curate quality work from well-known writers and rising stars, including Chuck Wendig, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Daniel Abraham (one half of the Expanse writing team known as James S.E. Corey), Cassandra Khaw (whom you may know from Ars), Ken Liu, Daniel José Older, and more. But it’s not just White and Sjunneson-Henry’s good taste that has earned Fireside a sterling reputation among writers. Unlike many small publications, Fireside pays good rates for fiction. It spends almost all the money it gets from Patreon on its authors and artists.

Fireside Fiction Company also publishes a limited number of books and hosts special projects. One these projects was #BlackSpecFic, a special report on black voices in science fiction. #BlackSpecFic fits into Fireside’s overall commitment to inclusivity, publishing stories by people from a diversity of backgrounds and places.

Another way that Fireside is different from your average publication is its commitment to good code. Design and Technology Director Pablo Defendini, who helped launch Tor.com, has kept Fireside’s back-end as spiffy as what you see in front….

(8) WHIZZING THRU SPACE. Plans for a trip to Mars include scienceing the piss out of problems, too. “Why a German lab is growing tomatoes in urine”.

A fish tank brimming with urine is the first thing you see when you enter Jens Hauslage’s cramped office at the German space agency, DLR, near Cologne. It sits on a shelf by his desk, surrounded by the usual academic clutter of books, charts and scientific papers.

Rising from the centre of the tank are two transparent plastic cylindrical columns – around a metre in height. Spreading from the top of each tube is a bushy, healthy-looking tomato plant with green leaves, flowers and even a few bright red tomatoes.

(9) FROM HARRY POTTER TO HARRY THE KING? The BBC discusses a former Harry Potter star’s latest turn on the live stage in “After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, is Daniel Radcliffe ready for Hamlet?” Or if not Hamlet, why not Henry V?

Daniel Radcliffe says he is really keen to be in a Shakespeare play – although he admits he’s no expert on the Bard.

The Harry Potter star has been praised for his latest role in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at London’s Old Vic.

Tom Stoppard’s comedy, first performed in 1966, centres around two minor characters from Hamlet.

The article quotes several critics’ opinions of Radcliffe’s performance, and one’s opinion of the audience — “The Daily Mail‘s Quentin Letts … noted, some Harry Potter fans who have bought tickets may struggle with the play as a whole.” About that Chip Hitchcock, who sent the link, asked, “I wonder if he’s heard about growing up.”

(10) COMIC SECTION. And making for a smoother segue than the one that started this Scroll is an installment of Frank and Ernest, submitted by John King Tarpinian, which asks what if Shakespeare had been a baseball umpire?

(11) LISTEN. It’s a Vintage News story, which means it’s been floating around the internet for awhile, but never before have I encountered this bit of history — “Before Radar, they used these giant concrete ‘Sound Mirrors’ to detect incoming enemy aircraft”.

Dr. William Sansome Tucker developed early warning systems known as ‘acoustic mirrors’ around 1915, and up until 1935, Britain built a series of concrete acoustic mirrors around its coasts. The acoustic mirror was the forerunner of radar, and it was invented to help detect zeppelins and other enemy aircraft by the sound of their engines.

The British used these devices and with their help, they managed to detect many enemy raids. The acoustic mirrors could detect an incoming aircraft up to 15 miles away, which gave English artillery just enough time to prepare for the attack of the German bombers.

A number of these structures still exist.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, JJ, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day – Soon Lee.]

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47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/8/17 And Then The Murders Began

  1. @Mike Glyer

    But do where do cavedellers dwell when not delling their caves?


    Well, I guess it’s better than drinking the stuff… 😛

    (Aaaaah…and then I read the article and they actually do that aboard the International Space Station! “Today’s urine is tomorrow’s coffee….” That was just way too much information for me tonight.)

  3. @8: good intro — I didn’t see it coming. wrt @8: @Bonnie McDaniel: you missed! I wasn’t drinking!

    @10: somewhere on the net is a video of a couple in Elizabethan costumes doing “Who’s on First?” ala Shakespeare. IMO much better than the Star Wars Shakespearean rewrites; the joke only lasts so long.

  4. It’s been hit or miss for my alertness level the last few days, and I may have dropped the ball on a conversation or two. Baxter, I think?

    But still here. Currently listening to Grave Witch, by Kalayna Price, a very decent urban fantasy about a witch who can raise the shades of the dead. It’s a somewhat alternate world, as the return of magic, witches, and the Fae had a political and practical impact on how the world works. It’s the kind of thing that endear a book to me–along with the fact that the protagonist has,a Chinese Crested dog named PC. The very best dogs. <3

  5. Hmm, I have to confess that I was a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead fan before I was a Harry Potter fan. I suspect that Daily Mail writer might be surprised to discover how many people are fans of both.

    Oh. Wait. Daily Mail. Never mind. They’ll just make something up and blame it (whatever it is) on the immigrants. 🙂

  6. “You are in a file, scrolling some pixels. A bearded Kzhin aproaches you. What do you do?”

  7. Peer Sylvester: “You are in a file, scrolling some pixels. A bearded Kzhin aproaches you. What do you do?”

    Begin the murders.

  8. Peer Sylvester: “You are in a file, scrolling some pixels. A bearded Kzhin aproaches you. What do you do?”

    Begin the murders.

    Done. You gain 325 Experience points.

  9. ‘But do where do cavedellers dwell when not delling their caves?’

    The roam the plains, watching out for charging mammoths, so basically they worry about roaming charges.

  10. Over the weekend I picked up a physical copy of Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey. Just started reading it this morning. Only 50 pages in but a really nice read so far.

    It looks like original publication was done in parts online in 2015 though print publication was in 2016. I’m assuming it’s out of eligibility for this year’s Hugo’s based on the ebook pub?

  11. RE: 9: Actually, I would love to see Daniel Radcliffe in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN. I’ve seen him twice on stage in two very different roles, in CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN and EQUUS. I’m glad to see him push the envelope as an actor rather than rest on his HP laurels.

    Aside: I was re-reading some of the Bracket threads, and they are hilarious! And a reminder of just how many wonderful books are out there.

  12. @Aaron
    I had a totally different reaction to The Stars are Legion. I wrote a post about it the other day. https://file770.com/?p=33729&cpage=1#comment-570764

    In short, I thought there were way, way too many flaws, too many cliches, and too many holes in the store and characters and as the days go by, I find my distaste for this book growing even more.

    On other reading, I just finished Every Heart a Doorway and while I thought it was pretty enjoyable, I’m not over the moon about it as so many others were. I definitely have issues with Eleanor and how she handled things, and the overall idiotic response to the situations as they unfolded.

  13. @ Stoic Cynic. I want to hear your thoughts on the last chapter on Beacon 23 when you get there. No, its not eligible this year – the collected ebook was published in 2015.

  14. @ Chip Hitchcock

    @10: somewhere on the net is a video of a couple in Elizabethan costumes doing “Who’s on First?” ala Shakespeare. IMO much better than the Star Wars Shakespearean rewrites; the joke only lasts so long.

    Some SCA friends of mine who do Commedia worked up a “Who’s on first” skit about the personnel at a court, but the kicker was that the names were mostly in Latin. Not that many audiences you could pull it on!

  15. @Xtifr

    I have to confess that I was a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead fan before I was a Harry Potter fan.

    Same here. That snarky comment in the Daily Mail is amazingly silly and condescending.

  16. On other reading, I just finished Every Heart a Doorway and while I thought it was pretty enjoyable, I’m not over the moon about it as so many others were. I definitely have issues with Eleanor and how she handled things, and the overall idiotic response to the situations as they unfolded.

    I enjoyed it, even if it did not quite reach it’s full potential. I am really looking forward to Down Among the Sticks and Bones, a prequel telling the tale of Jack and Jill’s time living in the Universal Monsters/Hammer House of Horror world.

  17. Xtifr: considering that Potter started 31 years after the Stoppard premiered, I suspect your experience is common in Pixel-Land. OTOH, it’s useful to be reminded about the Daily Mail; I’ve known as far back as The Trouble with Lichen that clips from English newspapers can often be recognized by their attitudes, but tend to lose track of the pairings.

    @Ghost Bird: fascinating!

    @Heather Rose Jones: I’d have paid money to see that….

  18. Many years ago–I think it was on the Ed Sullivan Show–the Canadian comedians Wayne & Schuster did a skit about a Shakespearean baseball game including such lines as “A hit, a very palpable hit!” and “So foul a fair I have not seen.” W&S were very funny guys,

  19. 2) At least with a Tyrannosaur and a tavern the party will know they’re not in a sci-fi setting.

  20. Those who liked Every Heart a Doorway and who enjoy good fanfic will probably like this fic — it reads like a novella-length sequel.

  21. Recent reading:
    Into Everywhere, Paul McAuley
    Category: Hard SF
    My rating: Stellar

    Into Everywhere is a somewhat distant sequel to McAuley’s 2015 novel, Something Coming Through. Although I liked the earlier novel (McAuley seems to be incapable of writing a bad book), I didn’t think it was quite on the level of his superb The Quiet War/Gardens of the Sun duology, which is one of the hard SF masterpieces of the last decade. Both novels are centered on the effects on humanity of the arrival of the alien Jackaroo, sometime in the early 21st century, who helped clean up the mess we’d made of things and gifted Earth with access to fifteen worlds. These worlds are littered with the remnants of at least a dozen previous civilizations, all of whom were also clients of the enigmatic Jackaroo, all of whom – despite the Jackaroo’s insistence that they only want to help – have disappeared from the universe. Most of this technology is incomprehensible, and much of it is dangerous, especially the eidolons – in effect, alien code that can run itself on human minds.

    The present novel has two alternating narrative strands: one involving a woman who used to make a living hunting for alien artifacts until she and her husband were infected by some kind of powerful eidolon in an incident they can’t remember, the other the disgraced son of a once-powerful family in an abortive human interstellar empire (itself enabled by alien technology) who is on the hunt for new technology of his own.

    Although the structure of the book is a little too rigid for it to be a truly surprising novel, at the end McAuley expands the scope dramatically into something remarkable, and the two novels make up a whole that is greater than the individual parts. (NB: although you will appreciate it more if you’ve read the earlier novel, Into Everywhere can easily be read on its own.) Highly recommended.

    I have no idea why McAuley doesn’t have a US publisher, but hard copies, at least, are available at reasonable prices from the Book Depository, which is pretty much my go-to store for books from the UK.

  22. The Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project has a page dedicated to the Wayne and Shuster Shakespearean baseball with a link to a video, but I can’t watch it because it’s in some strange format my Mac doesn’t want to open.

    There’s also a video on YouTube which might be more recent.

  23. Cross-posting from an old scroll (accidentally posted in a scroll few people are still reading):

    I’m looking at my Hugo longlist, and I realize I have plenty of novels and short stories, and almost no novelettes and novellas. Recommendations (with links, if online, and name/date of publication, if hard copy; I’ve got a good public library) are humbly solicited from interested Filers; I promise I’m reading before nominating and I DON’T want a slate; I want several choices. But since I don’t have a lot of time left, I’m asking others to recommend the best of the best (in their opinion) to help me and others in my boat. My tastes are eclectic; I’m willing to read darn near anything. Although horror squicks me out (I can handle “dark fantasy”, and, yes, I know that’s a blurry line).

  24. Shakespearean Who’s on First: Beyond the Fringe did a hilarious parody of Shakespearean history plays, in which Jonathan Miller ran one of the others through and said, “O saucy Worcester …”
    *runs for door*

  25. @Cassy B
    One of my favorite novellettes was Valente’s Snow Day, which you can get from Uncanny Magazine for free.

  26. (For suggestions for Cassie from the old scroll see here)

    I didn’t say much about novellas. The Novellapalooza thread has many great suggestions. To be honest, I strongly suspect the Tor.com line will do very well this year (again!) and browsing their line for some that take your fancy might be quite productive.
    Other novellas that I liked include:
    The Vanishing Kind by Lavie Tidhar, F&SF July/August (Imagine SS-GB with added noir, a downer of a story but very good)
    Even in the Cannon’s Mouth by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Monstrous Little Voices, as mentioned in the other thread. More humourous and boisterous than some of the others in that set)
    The Coward’s Option, by Adam-Troy Castro, Analog but helpfully available for free here.
    The Iron Tactician by Alastair Reynolds, Newcon Press (fun space adventure, the main character is a bit of an ass though)
    Lazy Dog Out, by Suzanne Palmer, Asimovs but available from their site (an adventure story set on a space station)

  27. @PhilRM

    I second the recommendation of ‘Into Everywhere’, which is a very satisfactory expansion of the Jackaroo sequence. There’s a fine discussion by Grant Hutchison with links to some of the eight other related short stories here

    Into Everywhere is on my Hugo ballot.

  28. Mark on March 9, 2017 at 2:36 pm said:

    I’ll second the rec for “The Coward’s Option”. It was one of the best stories I’ve read in Analog in the last few years, and one of the very few worth nominating.

  29. Thanks for mentioning the Planetary Awards. I hope some of your readers will be inspired to vote.

    I’m working towards getting a few short stories published, and if I’m successful, I’ll update my about page with my top-secret name.

  30. 9) Remember when stories about Leonard Nimoy all seemed to say “Sorry to disillusion you, Trekkies, but Mr. Spock doesn’t really have pointed ears!”?

  31. I had a totally different reaction to The Stars are Legion.

    That’s not entirely unexpected. Different people like different things. I saw your comment earlier, and I suppose it will come as little surprise that the things you called out as problems were not things that I saw as problems, and some of them I thought were strengths of the book.

  32. @Cassy B
    Rocket Stack Rank’s 2017 Hugo Award page is my first stop when looking for anything Hugo related.

    These are the novelettes from the File 770 2016 Recommended SF/F Page:

    “I Married a Monster from Outer Space,” Dale Bailey Asimov’s March 2016

    “Teenagers from Outer Space,” Dale Bailey Clarkesworld 119 August 2016

    “Touring with the Alien,” Carolyn Ives Gilman Clarkesworld 115 April 2016

    “Coral Bones,” Fox Meadows Monstrous Little Voices

    “The Dancer on the Stairs,” Sarah Tolmie Strange Horizons

    “Alone, on the Wind,” Karla Schmidt Clarkesworld 119 August 2016

    Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan Strange Horizons 08 Aug 2016

    “The Future is Blue,” Catherynne M. Valente Drowned Worlds

  33. Planetary Defense Commander: if I’m successful, I’ll update my about page with my top-secret name

    You know that your real name is all over the internet and easily-findable with a Google, right?

  34. PhilRM, thanks for your comment. While it had some good elements, I was disappointed by Something Coming Through and was not really sure I wanted to invest the time in reading Into Everywhere. I’ll definitely do so now, but unfortunately that will probably not happen until after the nomination deadline.

  35. >>>>WHEN WORLDS DON’T COLLIDE. Just coming on my radar ……I still wouldn’t have heard about them…..
    …But they DID, Mike!!! Not only did they collide, (in a parallel SF universe, on March 27, 1935), but the classic story continues. The most SF fun I’ve had reading recently has been from the pen of one Jeff Deischer, whose two sequels Beyond Worlds Collide and War of the Worlds Collide came out in the past year ( and apparently are doing well enough that more sequels and even prequels are planned). They may not win any awards, and may just draw sneers from the literary crowd and the Locus crowd, but they’ll bring back the old sense of wonder for anyone who read WWC and AFC years ago………

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