Pixel Scroll 4/13/24 A Penchant For Multisyllabic Words

(1) MURDERBOT THEMES. Martha Wells has posted the text of the “Jack Williamson Lecture 2024” she delivered on April 12 in Portales, NM. Here are the opening paragraphs:

I’ve always been drawn to non-human characters, both as a reader and a writer. I’ve been writing them for most of my career. From Kade Carrion, the daughter of the Queen of Air and Darkness, in my first novel The Element of Fire, through the post-human Krismen in City of Bones, to my ant-lion-lizard-dragon-bee people in the Books of the Raksura series. But Murderbot was my first machine intelligence.

There are a lot of people who viewed All Systems Red as a cute robot story. Which was very weird to me, since I thought I was writing a story about slavery and personhood and bodily autonomy. But humans have always been really good at ignoring things we don’t want to pay attention to. Which is also a theme in the Murderbot series.

(Here’s an aside. (I do asides a lot, because Murderbot’s way of thinking was based on my own brain, except my attention span is a lot more limited.) One of the major publication reviews for Artificial Condition wondered why Murderbot was so wary of humans considering they were all so nice to it. That was also the novella where one of the characters was a ComfortUnit, which Murderbot called a sexbot, but I don’t know, maybe that was too subtle. So I’m not exaggerating about the way some readers ignore the fact that it was a story about enslaved people.)…

(2) ALL ABOARD THE TARDIS. The actor is making the jump from the Star Wars universe to the Whoniverse: “Varada Sethu to join Doctor Who in role as second companion” reports the Guardian.

Varada Sethu will join Doctor Who as one of the Doctor’s two companions for Ncuti Gatwa’s second series in the role, it has been confirmed.

She will appear onscreen in 2025, alongside the former Coronation Street actor Millie Gibson after speculation over her character Ruby Sunday’s future on the sci-fi show.

Sethu, who recently appeared in the Disney+ Star Wars series Andor, said it was an honour to be part of the long-running BBC series.

She said: “I feel like the luckiest person in the world. It is such an honour to be a part of the Whoniverse, and I’m so grateful to the whole Doctor Who family – because that is what they are – for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel so at home.

(3) POTUS PACKS A PUNCH. “‘Captain America: Brave New World’: Harrison Ford’s POTUS Wants Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson To Rebuild The Avengers In First Look At CinemaCon” says Deadline.

…Fanboys will have to wait until San Diego Comic Con to see footage from Marvel Studios‘ 2025 release Captain America: Brave New Worldbut exhibitors do not. On Thursday during Disney‘s closing CinemaCon session, the studio showed off the new Anthony Mackie movie that picks up after the events of the 2021 Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. In that series, Sam Wilson takes over the shield left behind by the late Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)….

… In the clip, Harrison Ford’s POTUS wants Sam Wilson to rebuild the Avengers. He’s impressed what the hero did down in Mexico. However, Wilson wonders what happens if they disagree on how to manage the new team. Next scene: Ford is making a presentation to a room full of authorities. However, a couple of people in the crowd become possessed — Carl Lumbly’s Isaiah Bradley and a general — and turn on the crowd, in particular Ford’s character. A la Air Force One, he’s a tough POTUS and punches the military guy in the face….

(4) SUNDAY MORNING TRANSPORT. “I Am Not the One Who Gets Left Behind” by Eric Smith is a free read at Sunday Morning Transport to inspire new subscriptions.

When I can smell my wife’s apple cinnamon French toast, I know the monsters are outside.

I peer out of our third-floor window to the darkened street below, and for a second, just a second, I can almost taste it again, but I know it’s all a lie. A trick. I lost my sense of smell after hitting my head in a car accident years ago. I’ve made it too long, and they’re not gonna get me….

(5) FARSCAPE WINS THE LONG GAME. “Farscape’s Ben Browder, Rockne O’Bannon on Series Legacy, Revival Ideas” at Syfy Wire.

…It’s taken a quarter of a century for Farscape to achieve the respect and appreciation that it boasts today. At launch, Sci Fi the channel was still growing so if you didn’t have basic cable TV that carried the network, there was no other way to access the series. But for those who had access and loved unique sci-fi storytelling, Farscape was like discovering a tingly aura morph. 

Brian Henson told SYFY WIRE that it’s been such a singular experience to watch the series go from niche audience, to convention darling and now well-respected series by both critics and audiences.

“It’s so interesting because we live in an industry where I’ve heard year after year after year, that you know you have a hit after the opening night. In my company, that has been 100% not true,” Henson laughed. “Well, I guess the first Muppet Movie was a hit on the first night. But other than that, everything grew on people because what we do is always very original. And that means nobody knows what to expect which always takes longer to find a fan base. And the fan base of Farscape just gets bigger and bigger.”…

(6) ESCAPE FROM OZ…TO GLENDALE. “The Oz Escape Experience” arrives in Glendale, CA on October 26, 2024. Tickets at the link. Learn when it’s coming to other locations, or about the company’s other experiences, at Questo: Play & Explore Fun Tours by Local Storytellers.

The magical world of Oz arrives to the streets of your city in the form of an outdoor escape room-style experience.

You will use your phone to follow hidden clues, solve witty puzzles and complete fun challenges as you walk around the city.

Follow the story of the iconic team of misfits trying to escape from Oz before the witch has her way! The event is entirely based on the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel by L. Frank Baum.

You can play at your own pace or against the clock to compete with friends or hundreds of other teams parading their fantastic costumes (wearing costumes is optional at the event).


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 13, 1950 Ron Perlman, 74. Hellboy of course as we all well know. I was surprised that the Hellboy movie wasn’t nominated for a Hugo but Hellboy II: The Golden Army was at Anticipation. Both are excellent in different ways. 

Ron Perlman was in my opinion the perfect performer to be Hellboy. Not only did he have the physicality to pull off the role but he had the presence to pull off that role even though he was under Harbour’s makeup prosthetics to the point that he had to express himself by overcoming the limitations that those prosthetics placed upon his natural facial expressions. And he did that magnificently. 

Of course his voice was a major aspect of it. That deep, resonating voice. Perfect for a demon that liked a lot of cats. He used that voice later when there were two Hellboy animated films and a short, all quite well done.

Everything about him worked here. The outfit, the gun, the cigar, his backstory. Yes, I know it all came from Mike Mignola but getting it to the screen that way was amazing, it really was. And I have read all of the all Hellboy stories up to the last decade when it stopped really being interesting though I did keep reading the Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. series as I think that really fantastic.

The movie was likewise fantastic as I thought it was just perfect with everything being stellar. Well almost. I wasn’t thrilled by the Tom Manning character but I’m fairly sure that I wasn’t supposed to be.  So I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it, at least a half dozen now. 

Hellboy II: The Golden Army was excellent though a quieter film if that’s the right word for it. The absolute highlight here is the spectacular Goblin Market. I’ve not looked to see but is this based off a particular Mignola graphic novel? 

So now for other genre work. I’m only including that where he’s in makeup as I’ll be including images of him in each of those makeups. 

He was in The Island of Doctor Moreau film of the same name as the story by H. G. Wells. His character was a juicy role indeed, the Sayer of the Law, a blind sheep/goat/human hybrid who is the priest figure among the hybrids. 

He’s Deiter Rheinhart, a pureblood vampire and a member of the Bloodpack, a group of vampires specially trained by the House of Damaskinos to hunt Blade in Blade II. Need I say he comes to a bad end?

He’s the Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. Reman Viceroy was the title of Romulan Praetor Shinzon’s Reman adviser, Vkruk.

And of course, there’s the beloved by many Vincent in the Beauty and the Beast series. Loved the series, wasn’t at all fond of the way that they wrapped it up. 


(9) STRANGE OLD WORLD. “Star Trek: Scotty played by Scottish actor for first time” enthuses BBC News.

For the first time in almost 60 years Star Trek character Scotty is being played by a Scottish actor.

Previously the role has been filled by Canadian actor James Doohan and Englishman Simon Pegg.

Now Scottish actor Martin Quinn is portraying a younger version of the character in the prequel series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Martin jokingly told BBC Scotland News, “We are rebranding him, he’s from Paisley now.”

(10) CREATURE COMFORTS RIDES AGAIN. “Claymation Magic: Aardman Teams with the BBC on ‘Things We Love’”Animation World Network tells where the dialog comes from.

Creature Comforts is a wonderfully inventive adult stop-motion comedy mockumentary franchise created by Nick Park and Aardman Animations. It originated with Park and Aardman’s hilarious, Oscar-winning 1989 animated short film of the same name, which matched animated zoo animals with voices of people talking about their homes, making it appear as if the animals were being interviewed about their living conditions. The film later became the basis of a series of television advertisements for electricity boards in the United Kingdom, and in 2003, a television series in the same style was released.

Things We Love is similar in that there was no script, so you don’t know exactly where you’re going with the short until you start to interview people,” shares Webber. “We got some lovely warmth, comedy, and natural conversation. We started with only a few questions and then let the conversation go where it wanted to go, keeping an ear out for possible animated scenarios or animals that would be a good fit for conveying what’s being said and who’s saying it.”

Aardman has created six short films in total for the BBC’s Things We Love campaign, transforming the interviewees into Claymation animals, from pigeons to hamsters. …The sixth and final short – which centers on an older and younger brother as mice – [was released] Saturday, April 6. 

You can watch all the released shorts here.

Here’s an earlier one about pigeons.

Mice Watching TV is the latest:

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Robin Anne Reid, Lise Andreasen, Kathy Sullivan, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

23 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/13/24 A Penchant For Multisyllabic Words

  1. First?!

    (0) Ah, multisyllabic words, like the video Eschew Obfuscation.
    (1) I certainly see that. Look at all the nut cases screaming about, say, a woman Doctor, then a black one… when HE’S A BLOODY ALIEN WITH TWO HEARTS….

  2. (7) My now-wife and I watched “Beauty and the Beast” back when we were dating. Great stuff.

  3. 1) From what little I’ve read from the Murderbot series, the protagonist seems so similar to Asperger types that sympathetic readers might miss the details that Martha discusses. That’s just my guess, mind you.

  4. (1) I can imagine people reading the Murderbot stories and thinking, “Oh, it’s a cute story about a robot. Sort of like the people who were shocked to learn that “Rage Against the Machine” is political.

    And yet surely some people read the stories and think, “Cute story about a robot.” And then read some news story about a corporation misbehaving and think, “Oh, I get it now!”

    (7) There was a wrap-up to “Beauty and the Beast”? I thought that existed only in fans’ nightmares. 😉

  5. Anne Marble says There was a wrap-up to “Beauty and the Beast”? I thought that existed only in fans’ nightmares. ????

    Yes, they wrapped it up. Not at all well, but they none the less they did. It was a truly shitty ending I thought not at all in keeping with the true greatness of most of the series.

  6. Chris R – well, I have sci-finance in my Becoming Terran…. (note that a major secondary character is a forensic accountant…)

  7. So would Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and the Coin series be classed as finantasy? (Which description I’m pretty sure would also work for some of K.J. Parker’s novels.)

  8. (3) The author of this article doesn’t appear to be aware Ford is playing President Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, previously portrayed by William Hurt.

  9. Thank you for the link to Eric Smith’s “I Am Not the One Who Gets Left Behind.” It’s really a very good story, and reminds me of how I felt after watching the original 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” movie.

    Also a good link to Martha Wells’ speech at the annual Jack Williamson Memorial Lecture. I’d already been clued into reading that by a comment that Walter Jon Williams (another habitual attendee of the event) made on his Facebook page. And Connie Willis was this year’s event host! Makes me wish there was a transcript of the entire event. And thanks for the link to the new AArdman Team Claymation Videos. I’m a little sad that Art Widner, who was a great fan of “Chicken Run,” isn’t around anymore to see them.

    But, while I’m here, I want to say again that Cat Eldridge does an excellent job in his Birthday section of the Scroll of profiling the career of a single notable member of the s-f community each day. However, I really miss the days when the Birthday section also contained a brief list of as many less-notable members of the community as he was able to find with birthdays on that date. That was my favorite feature of the Pixel Scroll and I made sure to check in on it every day. “This Is Us,” as Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant would sing.

    I suppose that Cat eventually decided compiling that list every day was too much work for too little reward, but I really wish he could bring it back — maybe get an assistant to round up the birthdays before listing them.

  10. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: April 14, 2024 - Amazing Stories

  11. (10) Things We Don’t Love About the BBC: UK television viewers being forced to buy a BBC licence to watch live broadcasts, even when they don’t watch any BBC channels. It’s akin to enjoying a great meal at an Indian restaurant, then getting a shakedown outside by the owner of the pizza parlour next door. Its CEO’s latest suggestion is to replace the licence fee with a tax on broadband, which would mean taking money from people who don’t even have a television set.

  12. Anne Marble says: Sort of like the people who were shocked to learn that “Rage Against the Machine” is political.
    Or the people who’ve complained at various points about Star Trek “suddenly” becoming “woke.”

  13. Just read Martha Wells’ speech, and it is good.

    Let me note that I am a computer professional, and spent decades in the field. So in my novels, and in upcoming ones, the ‘bots ARE NOT SENTIENT, which I make clear, in some cases explicitly. There is NO REASON for, say, a row-bot that is used on a farm to go down the row, weeding and feeding plants, to be sentient. It’s a lot cheaper, and simpler to construct, if it’s not. And sentient things might argue with you… So robots to do labor – do you really need a sentient Roomba ™? Why?

    For anyone writing with robots, you have to have a reason for making any sentient, full stop. Justify to the MBA running the company why.

  14. @mark: at some point it might turn out to be cheaper and easier to buy an off-the-shelf sentient ‘bot and do some minimal training than to design and program a custom specialized non-sentient one. Remember back in the 1970s when microprocessors started showing up in appliances? They were usually overkill for the tasks at hand but benefited from mass production.

    Of course, at the moment the pendulum has swung in the other direction and everyone is going with custom silicon.

  15. Jim Janney: nope. For most jobs, it would be a standard thing. I mean, do you buy a pair of speakers designed to work just with your computer… or do they make ’em for everything, from players to computers? Adequate programming would set them up to do what they’re needed, then when you buy them, they d/l the specific job programming. With very explicit exceptions, you don’t buy the operating system for specialized hardware, you run it on what you’ve got, and add programs. You don’t need all the extra overhead… and all the extra power consumption, so that it can play games in it’s CPU while mopping your floor.

    Actually, let me rephrase that: are you going to go out and buy a top of the line GPU card, for, oh, maybe $10k, that needs a special m/b and power supply, and a lot of additional cooling, something good enough to mine crypto, for 99% of what you do on a computer?

  16. @mark: Actually, there is a scene where Murderbot explains why the Corporation made SecUnits sentient. I could look up the quote, or try to paraphrase what it said, but it’s better if you read it for yourself.

    Coincidentally, the example you give of an agricultural row-bot, there are some in Network Effect (book five). They are not portrayed as sentient.

  17. There are gradations in sentience. From a shuttle bot all the up to ART. It seems to vary based on how much the robot needs to interact with humans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.