Pixel Scroll 4/16/22 Or Is It But A Pixel Of The Mind, A False Creation, Proceeding From The Scroll-Oppressed Brain?

(1) SCRIPT DOCTOR. “Ditch the Tardis! Seven ways Russell T Davies could revive Doctor Who” according to the Guardian. Here’s one of the ideas on their list:

A ‘Doctor of the week’ every week

What if there was no one new Doctor? With a quick narrative device to produce an unstable regeneration, you could have a new high-profile Doctor every week. Suddenly it’s possible to hire Hugh Grant, Judi Dench or Riz Ahmed at the Tardis controls, when you only need to persuade them to do a few weeks’ filming – rather than a three-series commitment. Plus, you get all the publicity of the reveal of a new Doctor, over and over again.

(2) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. Rosemary Jenkinson is missing the old verbal slapfights between literary writers: “A Room with a Feud” in The Critic Magazine. Well, we still have plenty in genre, but if they stopped would you miss them?

Oh, where to find the fabulous spats that used to enliven every writers’ circle? It’s no coincidence that the drab rise of cancel culture has contributed to the demise of colourful literary disagreements. In my own case, my publisher, Doire Press, rescinded their offer to publish my debut novel after I wrote an article contending that Northern Irish authors should focus on contemporary matters rather than the Troubles. As the Sunday Independent rightly questioned in the aftermath, “Is the Irish literary world really so fragile and full of itself that it can’t cope with the odd dose of healthy impertinence?”

Many of the writing greats enhanced their reputations with a critical bon mot. As the poet and critic Dorothy Parker vaunted, “The first thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue,”… 

…Naturally, no one wants to see hatchet jobs on writers, but one can’t help wondering where the entertainment is in a bland anodyne literary world. Many writers don’t have the robust constitution to engage in the art of the literary skirmish, but the difficulty for the few who do is that those they write about are likely to claim victim status…. 

(3) SAWYER HEALTH UPDATE. Robert J. Sawyer told Facebook followers in a public post today that he tested positive for Covid-19, but has “no symptoms to speak of.” Best wishes for him to continue feeling well.

(4) UKRAINE BIRD STAMP. A stamp featuring the image of an armed and armored Ukrainian soldier with his middle finger raised to a Russian vessel went on sale this week. Borys Sydiuk says they’re already sold out. “Ukraine postal service issues ‘Russian warship, f***k you!’ stamp” in the Jerusalem Post.

…”Russian warship, f***k you…!” was the response to demands to surrender given to Russian naval forces by Ukrainian border guards stationed on Snake Island early in the war. The Ukrainian marine who uttered the phrase, Roman Grybov, was present at a ceremony issuing the postage stamp along with the illustrator….

(5) ROOTS FOUND. Damon Lindelof and Regina King appeared on the April 12 episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “’Lost’ and ‘Watchmen’ screenwriter Damon Lindelof gets emotional learning about his family’s tragic Holocaust story” at Jewish Telegraph Agency. (PBS offers that Finding Your Roots episode “Watchmen” for viewing online at the link.)

Acclaimed screenwriter Damon Lindelof learns that several members of his family tree died in the Bialystok ghetto during the Holocaust on Tuesday night’s episode of the celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots.”

With help from the archives at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, the “Finding Your Roots” team found six pages of testimony detailing the fate of a branch of Lindelof’s family.

Lindelof, who created HBO’s 2019 “Watchmen” series and co-created “Lost,” reads from the show’s compiled pages about his family tree, repeating “circumstances of death: ghetto Bialystok” after several relatives: his great-granduncle — the brother of his great-grandmother — and his wife and their four children.

(6) GHOSTING. Past HWA President Lisa Morton recommends “The best collections of classic ghost stories” at Shepherd.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I’ve discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening….

(7) TRANSPORTATION FUTURES. Arizona State University’s Future Tense will host an online event “Imagining Transportation Futures with Sec. Pete Buttigieg” on April 20 (10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Pacific). Register at the link.

Future Tense is asking Sec. Pete Buttigieg what role imagination plays in managing a federal department as sprawling and impactful as the Department of Transportation. We’re also asking three of our accomplished Future Tense Fiction authors to talk about how they see their work inspiring visions of futures that might come to pass.  

Featuring:

Pete Buttigieg, @SecretaryPete; U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Annalee Newitz, @Annaleen; Author, When Robot and Crow Saved St. Louis, Future Tense Fiction Author, Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Linda Nagata, @LindaNagata; Author, Ride, Future Tense Fiction Author, Pacific Storm

Tochi Onyebuchi, @TochiTrueStory; Author, How to Pay Reparations: A Documentary, Future Tense Fiction Author, Goliath

Moderators: Paul Butler, President, New America; Ed Finn, @zonal; Founding Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University

(8) MORE ABOUT CHRISTINE ASHBY. [Item by David Grigg.] Christine Ashby, long-time Australian fan, died at home on Tuesday 29 March 2022. She was 70 years of age. She is survived by her husband Derrick Ashby.

Christine was a member of the Monash University SF Association, alongside such well-known names as John Foyster and Carey Handfield. After graduating as a lawyer she began work as a solicitor and developed considerable expertise in legal costings. 

She was involved in organising and running several Melbourne SF conventions in the 1970s and 80s and was the Guest of Honour at Q-Con in Brisbane in 1973. She and Derrick were members of ANZAPA for many years.

Christine was Treasurer of two Worldcons: Aussiecon in 1975 and Aussiecon Two in 1985.

Outside of fandom, Christine served for several years on the board of the Paraplegics and Quadriplegics Association of Victoria and for a short while was its Chairperson.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Fifteen years ago, a special citation went to Ray Bradbury from the Pulitzer Board for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.

But the Pulitzer Board doesn’t give out such an Award without picking a specific work and this is the full language of their announcement:

Bradbury came of age as a writer before the postwar ascendancy of the paperback book as a publishing medium. Instead, during the Golden Age of Science Fiction, short stories published in pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories stood at the forefront of the field. As such, many of his novels are actually “fixups”—a term coined by SF legend A.E. van Vogt to describe novels assembled from previously published short stories that were buttressed with new interlinking material.   

Culled from Bradbury’s late 1940s output, The Martian Chronicles is a sweeping account of the colonization of Mars amid nuclear war on Earth. Its literary structure (patterned after Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio) earned plaudits from such notable critics like Christopher Isherwood, who read the book after a fortuitous encounter with the younger writer (and fellow Angeleno) at a bookstore. In his review, Isherwood deemed Bradbury “a very great and unusual talent,” a tastemaking assessment that charted the course of the rest of his career.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger (on the left) presents Michael Congdon (accepting for Ray Bradbury) with the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 16, 1905 Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was a Hugo finalist at Loncon II and won one of the inaugural National Book Awards, the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included it as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born April 16, 1917 William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for birthday honors as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel.  Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip. You can watch the first chapter, “Curse of The Scorpion,” here. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 16, 1921 Peter Ustinov. I’ve done his Birthday in the past and profiled his extensive genre work there but I’m going to limit this write-up to just one role he did. In half a dozen films, he played Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, first in Death on the Nile and then in Evil Under the SunThirteen at Dinner (a television film), Dead Man’s Folly (another television movie), Murder in Three Acts (yet another television movie), and finally in Appointment with Death.  An impressive take on that role indeed! (Died 2004.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being so. (Died 1995.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 16, 1962 Kathryn Cramer, 60. Writer, editor, literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine, and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well.  They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website Kathryncramer.com.
  • Born April 16, 1975 Sean Maher, 47. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly ‘verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of  animated DCU films, to wit Son of BatmanBatman vs. RobinBatman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen TitansTeen Titans: The Judas Contract,  Batman: Hush and Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. He also had a one-off on Warehouse 13 as Sheldon in the “Mild Mannered” episode. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys illustrates a problem caused by something you can easily understand Superman wouldn’t know he was doing.

(12) A FAN FUND AUCTION OF YESTERYEAR. Fanac.org’s video time machine has returned from 1976 with a clip from the first MidAmeriCon.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976.  In this very short video excerpt from the Fan Funds Auction at Big Mac, auctioneer Rusty Hevelin shows just how far fans will go to be supportive of the Fan Funds.  In this clip, it’s not books or vegemite up for bid, but currency. The second item is the one to watch, with Rusty skillfully extracting bids from the crowd. You’ll also see fellow auctioneer jan howard finder making a brief appearance…

This video is brought to you by the FANAC Fan History Project, with video from the Video Archeology project (coordinated by Geri Sullivan, with technical work by David Dyer-Bennet).  

(13) IT’S BEEN AWHILE. Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment interviews Ke Huy Quan, who starred in Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom and The Goonies as a teen, dropped out of acting, and is now back as a lead in the new sf film Everyone Everywhere Everything At Once. “Ke Huy Quan looks back on ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘The Goonies’ and reveals what made him finally return to acting”.

Was it strange to go from being the only child on the set of Temple of Doom to being constantly around other young actors while making The Goonies?

It was weird, because coming off of Indiana Jones … I got all the attention versus being on a set with six other kids, and honestly they were all hams! [Laughs] They really knew what they were doing. So I found myself constantly having to fight for attention. But that was very familiar to me, because I grew up in a big family and that’s what my home was like. I got some great friendships out of that movie, including Jeff Cohen, aka Chunk. He’s my entertainment lawyer and we’re great friends, as I am with Sean [Astin] and Corey [Feldman]. We’re Goonies for life…

(14) NOSFERATU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nigel Andrews reflects on the centennial of F.W. Murnau’s great horror film Nosferatu.

The film’s poetry of terror comes from real locations, mostly shot in daytime.  Cityscapes:  the unforgettable, hollowed-out tenement building (filmed in Lübeck) in which the vampire finds his last-act townhouse.  Nature: dark monuments and bristling forests.  castles:  the stone arches and beetling walls of Nosferatu’s Carpathian home.  Those arches become a master touch.  In shot after shot, Max Shreck’s hideous Count, dressd to kill and made up likewise, emerges from the inverted U of dark tunnels or from frame-fitting Gothic doorways, like a creature serially birthed or rebirthed from vertical coffin-wombs.

Schreck was a distinguished stage actor made out for the movie. The nightmarishly thin body (for which he dieted), with long arms and extended fingers,is crowned with a rat-toothed bat-eared head, bald and cadaverously thin.  The dark, hollowed eyes are a premonitory rhyme with the Lübeck buildings.  The frock coat is like a sartorial shroud, which seems sewn straight on to the skin.  Sometimes he wears a skewy turban-style nightcap:  a touch of bleak farce among the grand guignol.

(15) JUST A PINCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Apollo 11 sample return bag saga gets another chapter.  “The bizarre drama behind a pinch of moon dust that just sold for $500,000” at National Geographic.  

Today’s auction is the culmination of a sordid saga involving Apollo astronauts, multiple lawsuits, and scientists aching for a chance to study rare lunar materials.

…NASA has long maintained that the lunar rocks and dust collected during the Apollo missions are government property that’s not allowed to be owned by private citizens. The space agency has gone to great lengths to recover any stray lunar materials, including a sting operation in 2011 that seized—from a 74-year-old woman in a Denny’s Restaurant—a rice-size moon rock embedded in a paperweight.

The lunar dust that sold today is a rare exception to the rule, a quirk due in part to a combination of fraud, mistaken identity, and a series of legal disputes….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Jurassic World Dominion, two generations of cast members unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill.

From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, David Grigg, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/16/22 Or Is It But A Pixel Of The Mind, A False Creation, Proceeding From The Scroll-Oppressed Brain?

  1. (4) An early pic of Russia’s new Slava-class submarine!

    (I’m sorry for all the crew that died. No centralized fire-fighting system, poorly-trained crew, and the ship was old and not well maintained.)

  2. (2) Let’s you and him fight.
    Let’s not, especially as Jenkinson seems to want to use “feuds” to complain about “cancel culture”. In the bad old days, for example, Norman Mailer assaulted Gore Vidal at a literary event. Vidal gave a witty riposte – “Words fail you again, Norman.” – but we can get those without people getting punched.

  3. 9) Caption messed up; should fix
    12) All who knew Rusty miss him enormously, and not just because of how he could milk a fan-fund auction crowd. Thinking of him as I TAFF-travel at Eastercon.

  4. 14) Shreck, of course, was delightfully played by Willem Dafoe in Shadow of the Vampire, about which I shall say no more in case someone has not yet seen it.

    Thanks for the credit!

  5. 1) That’s a really awful idea. Let’s make sure to have no character development whatsoever.

    Edit: In fact, ALL those ideas are pretty much universally horrible.

  6. (14) I saw Nosferatu with a live performance of the original score by the Club Foot Orchestra. Wonderful music. The film … has issues. I think Howard Waldrop nailed it in “Der Untergang des Abendlandesmenschen”.

  7. (2) Let’s you and him fight.

    Well, the puppy wars are not over. We’re still highly polarized and bad-talking the other side. I see the puppy wars as the first sign of the political schism which culminated in the 2016 election.

    I’ve struck puppy authors off my reading lists and removed/blocked delusional conspiracy nuts from my life. Even close relatives. Life’s too short.

  8. (2) Frankly, she sounds exhausting and I have no time in my life for people who like to live in a festering cauldron of continual drama. No, life isn’t livelier due to professional bru-ha-ha’s. It’s a fucking nightmare for everyone around you insufferable twits. And we no longer live in an insular world where the only ones you heard from were your circle of peers and your critics. Everyone is connected, and cancel culture is just PEOPLE telling you what we always thought: you’re a bunch of assholes.

  9. (10) Ah, John Christopher! I loved the Tripod series when I was a kid and his “The Lotus Caves” too.

  10. @Andrew

    I loved The Lotus Caves as a kid, too, though the post-WW2 conservatism is a bit obvious in hindsight.

    I also remember an interview in the Radio Times back in the day where he rather sniffily said he didn’t use FTL in his stories because he wrote SF, not fantasy – which I thought went rather oddly with a sentient telepathic plant on the moon 🙂

  11. (10) Kingsley Amis also edited, with Robert Conquest, the Spectrum series of five SF anthologies.

  12. I’ve got to disagree with rochrist. I think having a series of revolving Doctors is a great idea. It reduces the pressure to find the ‘perfect’ Doctor (remember the anguish at recent turnovers?) and the pressure on any individual actor to be the ‘perfect’ Doctor (impossible). There are still many TV show that feature ‘guest stars’ playing characters that are only scripted for one episode, (although they can be brought back if they are popular and the character hasn’t been killed) and the writers (well, the good ones) still somehow manage to imbue their characters with individuality. This would give the writers room to be a little playful with their Doctor image, to try out concepts that might never get to air if they had to be presented as long term commitments. It would also give the writers/producers a chance to see public reactions and figure out what fans really want to see. And, since the rotation was occurring without the current Doctor actually dying, if one Doctor (or even several) proved really popular, they could be revived. Another benefit of having the Doctor frequently regenerate without dying, we would be spared the long, dreary episodes, in which the doomed Doctor wanders around the planet, saying a tearful good bye to everybody and everything, and everyone is so busy weeping and eulogizing that there’s no room for any actual story.

  13. Amis also wrote a novel called “Russian Hide and Seek” about a Soviet-occupied Britain.

  14. (2) Jenkinson starts off badly by blaming something on cancel culture. I have found this is never a good sign. Then she proudly tells of the time she decided to tell other writers what they should and shouldn’t write about, which tells me everything I need to know about who is being self-important in that particular issue.

    And then there is this:

    …Naturally, no one wants to see hatchet jobs on writers, but one can’t help wondering where the entertainment is in a bland anodyne literary world

    Maybe if literary writers wrote entertaining fiction they wouldn’t need to resort to fisticuffs and foodfights.

  15. 1) Odd to be telling Davies to ditch the angst when the angst was one of the things he brought to the new series that helped make it a success — and unlike DC. they did not make the grit the centre at any time.. Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor was coming off a time war and felt it. He also danced and grinned.

    Weirder to be saying to make the show for 12 year olds at this stage in its life, or to focus on history alone ; neither of these sounds like a way to make the show better (those would involve writing better scripts, making actual good use of your ensemble cast, and better ones for your guest stars, figuring out stakes so it isn’t always about cheating death, and trying to bring back a sense of wonder) but it does sound like a way to lose more audience who tune in expecting one kind of experience and get another.

    The “doctor of the week” idea is one of the less painful ones in that article. The best one is the last: let Davies do what he wants.

  16. 2.) Frankly, let’s not. Literary dramatics are often rooted in alcoholism, macho posturing, and narcissism. Not always, but frequently enough that it’s not worth the bother.

    I suppose it’s one way to gain visibility, but it’s not one I particularly care to endorse or use.

  17. Lenora Rose, I have to admit that I, too, would like the Doctor to move away from angst. I’m not saying you’re wrong–Davies did the show a great service by bringing in angst, but he brought it in as mindset background, giving depth and reality to a figure who’d grown excessively god-in-a-box. (The Doctor Dances was one of the best shows ever!) But now the angst has become so overdone it’s draconian. Endless weeping about how tragic it is to be the Doctor. Beginning to think the Doctor needs therapy. So the angst needs to be put back down into its place.

  18. What I’d like to see in Doctor Who is a focus on the guest stars – adventures in which characters who are experiencing the emotional and physical crises are not the Doctor (even though the Doctor is instrumental in helping or hindering them). Examples would be “The Doctor Dances” where Nancy admits her relationship with the Empty Child and Jack becomes a hero rather than a scavenger. Doesn’t have to be a “Doctor-lite” episode – just one in which the story is about the characters that we don’t know will survive the episode.

  19. I also approve of moving the Doctor’s stories back into the past. History is full of excitement, and adventure, and it’s a waste of a time machine not to use it for time travel. Jodie Whittaker’s best shows were the ones in the past, ‘Rosa’ and ‘The Demons of Punjab’. And not just Jodie–many of the most memorable shows have taken place in the past. (Matt Smith’s ‘Vincent and the Doctor’, David Tennant’s ‘Girl in the Fireplace’, and the above mention Chris Eccleston’s ‘The Doctor Dances’. Even William Hartnell’s ‘The Aztecs’.) Okay, it doesn’t have to be every show, but still, you’ve got it, so why not use it, instead of making up yet another cardboard alien planet and/or future dystopia.

  20. 2) Speaking of feuds, isn’t The Critic Magazine the one that threatened Geis with a lawsuit unless he changed the name of his ‘zine?

    But if Ms. Jenkinson wants to see feuds, literature is not the best place to look. She should try politics, or television, if there is a difference anymore.

  21. I see the puppy wars as the first sign of the political schism which culminated in the 2016 election.

    Culminate isn’t the right word. Escalated is a better one, and one that still applies. The situation continues to escalate.

  22. (13) IT’S BEEN AWHILE.

    Short Round grew up. Also: I am going to see “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and I am looking forward to it, though not quite shivering with antici…

  23. You think it’s going really well? I’ve been addicted to Doctor Who since 1985, but now I’m seriously contemplating blowing it off.

  24. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 4/24/22 Story Day, Sweepin’ Boredom Away, On My Way To Where Genre Fans Meet, Can You Tell Me How To Get? How To Get To Pixel Scroll Street? | File 770

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