Pixel Scroll 4/17/24 Root/File; Droppixels

(1) SECOND TIME AROUND. Rebecca F. Kuang brings us “The Poppy War (Becky’s Version)”. See the new cover at the link.

…I did the best I could for that book. I didn’t know how to ask for things. I made compromises. I knew I didn’t want the cover art to play into Orientalist tropes, and I knew I didn’t want a generic, European, epic fantasy cover, but I didn’t know how to communicate or negotiate something in between. I latched onto the first concept that wasn’t dreadful. I thought that if I said anything more, then I would hamstring my career before it had gotten off the ground. At twenty, I was scared of my own shadow.

We’ve grown a lot since then.

Last year, my editor asked me: if we could reissue The Poppy War again today, what would I change? How would the cover look? How would the interior art look?…

(2)  THE SUMMER OF ’24. The Clarion West Writers Workship has announced their Six-Week Workshop Class of 2024.

(3) DOCTOR WHO REJECTS AND SALVAGE JOBS. Den of Geek discusses “Doctor Who’s Unmade TV Episodes”. Here are two examples.

…. In 1964 Victor Pemberton submitted ‘The Slide’ (in which the Doctor discovered sentient, mind-controlling mud) to the Doctor Who production offices. The story was rejected and so Pemberton adapted it for BBC radio. ‘The Slide’ was then adapted back into a Doctor Who story that swapped the mud for seaweed in 1968’s ‘Fury from the Deep’.

Donald Cotton, who wrote two Hartnell stories, submitted a third which contained the idea that the Loch Ness Monster was of alien origin. ‘The Herdsmen of Venus’ suggested that the Loch Ness Monster was in fact a type of space bovine, bred by the titular herdsmen, and raising the very real possibility of a space helmet for a cow. Cotton’s story was rejected by the a new production team who felt Doctor Who should be a serious show, though seemingly conflicting alien origins for the Loch Ness Monster would appear in 1975’s ‘Terror of the Zygons’ and 1985’s ‘Timelash’….

(4) THE BASIC UNIT OF SOCIETY. Joe Vasicek by no means styles himself a liberal thinker, however, it’s thought-provoking to read his explanation for this change: “Why I no longer consider myself to be a libertarian” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

… Families don’t just happen. They take a lot of work to build and to maintain, and unless they are planted in a culture that nourishes them, they will wither and die. Libertarianism does not foster that kind of a culture, yet it depends on families in order to raise the kind of people who can make a libertarian society work. People from broken families often lack the mental and emotional maturity to take upon themselves the personal responsibilities that come with personal liberty—in other words, they lack the capacity for personal independence which libertarianism depends on…. 

(5) WHEN IT’S TIME TO RAILROAD. “The U.S. is exploring a railroad for the moon. It has a good reason.”Mashable has the story.

… The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA — an ambitious federal innovations division — has begun collaborating with over a dozen companies on potential future lunar technologies, including a moon railroad. It’s called the 10-Year Lunar Architecture Capability Study, or LunA-10, and its mission is to find technologies that will catalyze a self-perpetuating lunar economy….

… DARPA recently chose the aerospace and defense giant Northrup Grumman to create the concept for the railroad. “The envisioned lunar railroad network could transport humans, supplies, and resources for commercial ventures across the lunar surface — contributing to a space economy for the United States and international partners,” the company wrote. They’ll aim to develop a railway that limits the human footprint on the largely still pristine lunar surface, and design a system that anyone could ride or load cargo on (such as with standardized, moon-worthy equipment that can withstand huge temperature swings)…

(6) CONAN IN 1969. Cora Buhlert is among the reviewers who contribute to Galactic Journey’s post “[April 16, 1969] The Men from Ipomoea (April 1969 Galactoscope)”.

Conan with a Metafictional Gimmick: Kothar, Barbarian Swordsman, by Gardner F. Fox

There has been an invasion at my trusty local import bookstore, an invasion of scantily clad, muscular Barbarians, sporting furry loincloths and horned helmets and brandishing gigantic swords and axes, while equally scantily clad maidens cling to their mighty thews….

(7) SOVIET NOSTALGIA? Gizmodo gripes and cheers: “The Greatest Sci-Fi Show You’re Still Not Watching Is Getting a New Season—and a Spinoff”.

The world of For All Mankind was forever changed when the Soviet Union arrived on the moon before the United States. That one event changed the course of the show’s alternate history, and now we’ll get to see exactly how it happened.

Apple TV+ has just announced that not only is For All Mankind coming back for a fifth season, it’s also getting a spinoff called Star City that will tell the story from the Soviet point of view, starting with them beating America to the moon….

According to Deadline:

…Apple is billing Star City is “a propulsive paranoid thriller” which will explore a key moment in the alt-history retelling of the space race — when the Soviet Union became the first nation to put a man on the moon. But this time, it will explore the story from behind the Iron Curtain, showing the lives of the cosmonauts, the engineers, and the intelligence officers embedded among them in the Soviet space program, and the risks they all took to propel humanity forward….


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 17, 1959 Sean Bean, 65. Today’s Birthday is that of Sean Bean whose most well known role is either Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark in Game of Thrones or Boromir in Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings trilogy (though his scenes in The Two Towers are only available on the extended version.) I really liked him as Boromir in The Fellowship of The Ring which I’ve watched a number of times. 

Sean Bean in 2016.

If you count National Treasure as being genre adjacent, and I certainly do given its premise, he’s Ian Lowe there — a crime boss and treasure hunter who is a former friend of Benjamin Gate, the character Nicolas Cage plays. 

He’s James in The Dark, a horror film based off Welsh mythology with connections to the Welsh underworld Annwyn.  

He’s done a lot of horror films — Silent Hill is his next one in which he’s Christopher Da Silva, husband of Rose, and it’s a haunted mansion mystery as its sequel.  He played Ulric in Black Death. Guess when that is set?  

Genre wise, there’s Possessor where he’s a mind jumping assassin. Hey it’s also listed as being horror! Then there’s Jupiter Ascending where he’s Stinger Apindi, Over there we find The Martian where he’s Mitch Henderson, and in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief he’s Zeus.   

More interestingly he was Inspector John Marlottin The Frankenstein Chronicles, an ITV series about a London police officer who uncovers a corpse made up of body parts from eight missing children and sets about to determine who is responsible.

Lastly I’ll note that he was in the Snowpiercer series as Mr. Wilford. I’ve not seen it. So how is it? 


(10) BURSTING BACK INTO THEATERS. Comicbook.com tells fans “Original Alien Returning to Theaters This Month for Alien Day”. (Check Fandango for Alien 45th Anniversary Re-Release (2024) Showtimes.)

Just in time to celebrate 45 years since its release, Ridley Scott’s Alien is coming back to theaters this spring. Coming on “Alien Day” — that’s April 26 — the movie will screen at theaters across the U.S. Over at Fandango, you can see where screenings are, order tickets, and browse other merch like an homage poster, collectables, books, apparel, and more. The screenings on Alien Day will also feature an exclusive conversation between Scott and Alien: Romulus writer/director Fede Alvarez….

(11) ANOTHER HELPING OF GOOD OMENS, PLEASE. Radio Times intercepts the signal as “Neil Gaiman confirms when Good Omens season 3 begins filming”.

…Speaking in an interview with Deadline about post-strike Hollywood, Gaiman reflected on his upcoming projects – and in the process, offered up a timeline for Good Omens season 3 production.

He said: “That being said, you know, Dead Boy Detectives comes out in 10 days. I’ve seen half of Sandman season 2, and it’s astonishing. I’m writing Good Omens season 3, and we start shooting that in January.”…

(12) CLOSING THE BOOKS. San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. announces “Costume-Con 39, Westercon 74 Committees Discharged”.

At its March 16, 2024 meeting, the SFSFC Board of Directors discharged the standing committees previously established to operate Costume-Con 39 and Westercon 74. Both conventions have completed all of their tasks. This action means that both convention committees will close their financial books and turn over any remaining surplus assets to the SFSFC corporate general fund. Any residual responsibilities of these committees have similarly been absorbed by the corporation’s general fund.

SFSFC continues to maintain both conventions’ websites. Anyone with questions about either committee can still contact the organization through those convention’s general-information inquiry addresses or they can contact SFSFC directly.

(13) PET PUSHES THE BUTTON. This news item involving a dog continues a line of interest we began by covering Mary Robinette Kowal’s cat who talks using buttons. “Dog uses sound buttons to communicate with owner that she’s unwell” at USA Today.

A golden retriever turned into a doctor when he diagnosed his owner with an illness before she got sick.

Christina Lee, a software engineer from Northern California, taught her dog Cache to talk to her by pressing buttons on a communication device.

The device is pre-programmed with words such as “food,” “friend,” and “mom.” But when Cache pressed a button saying “sick,” Lee was initially skeptical as she felt fine. However, five hours later, she began to feel unwell.

“This is the first time that he’s predicted when I would get sick ahead of time,” says Lee. “I think he could smell it on me or something.”

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Kathy Sullivan, Kevin Standlee, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

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32 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/17/24 Root/File; Droppixels

  1. First!!

    Soviet Nostalgia?? Well in the eastern part of Germany they have Ostalgie, nostalgia for the DDR. I saw a video on Youtube about it and one about the consumer products that have survived reunification. Some of the brands have even thrived in BDR.

  2. (1) I’ve seen a lot of hardcovers with new covers and sprayed edges — and that may be one of the coolest.

    (8) I think I first saw Sean Bean in the “Clarissa” miniseries. Sean Pertwee is in it, too. And I think you can guess what happens to Sean Bean in this one…

  3. 6) Thanks for the link, Mike. The Kothar books don’t have a very good reputation, which is why I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  4. (0) What is this commend from DOS/Unix/LInux, droppixels?
    (1) Congratulations to her. We’ve all heard so many stories about art directors with no clue. (I was lucky – for Becoming Terran, the guy arranging for the cover got one that he knew was terrible, and let me give him a lot of input.)
    (4) Mike, thank you very much for this link. He and I are still far apart, and some of his comments are… strange. (Transition kids without telling the parents?), but his train of thought is one I think I’ll pass on. (And yes, of course I left him a comment.)
    (5) Of course. No one’s going to build roads on the Moon (you break down, you’re dead). And when are they going to design the rail launch system?
    (6) Pretty sure I have Kothar. I liked Gardner Fox, his fantasy and sf was fun (but no one took it seriously).
    (7) Sooner or later, I’m going to have to watch that, if I can find it other than on appletv.
    (13) I really like this.

  5. @ Mark. The train breaks down, you are still dead. Moon’s going to be dangerous for a good while

  6. @Mark

    You can buy the season 1 Blu-Ray of For All Mankind at the Big River (and, I presume, at other retailers). They also have the other seasons, but as of right now they’re just for Region 2 players.

  7. BonnieMcD – of course you can only buy it in the UK, and I dunno if a modern DVD player has the Sekret Controls that VHF players did, where you could change your region.

    bookworm1398: Unless it derails, it doesn’t just “break down”. And if it did, they’d send another loco to pull it. Also, one assumes that they would pay a lot more attention to the condition of the loco and cars than, say, at least 50% of drivers do to their cars. You know, like my Dearly Beloved Departed ’86 Toyota wagon, that we got in ’88, and we know the oil was changed once, around 5000 mi, because of the sticker. We looked inside… and changed the oil every month for like four months, because they hadn’t.

    At any rate, a railroad also implies that they’re going to have flying vehicles for emergencies.

  8. (4) It’s good he’s noticed, I suppose.

    (7) I was never able to warm to it. I’m probably missing a lot.

    (13) Yes. Both dogs and cats can smell things we can’t. If your smell is off enough, in the wrong ways, they may try to tell you.

  9. 7) I strongly recommend For All Mankind.

    8) Not genre, but I recently saw Bean in the Sharpe adaptations, which I liked a lot.

  10. (8) Bean started out with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he played Romeo. I prefer the roles where he doesn’t die: Spencer in The Fair Maid of the West (with Imelda Staunton in the lead!) and Sharpe.

  11. And mark says Sooner or later, I’m going to have to watch that, if I can find it other than on appletv.

    Other than purchasing it on DVD, I don’t that happening as it’s highly unlikely that Apple will make the series it has spent tens of millions of dollars on available for streaming elsewhere as they certainly don’t need the the revenue that they’d make from doing so. Four trillion companies rarely do.

  12. 4) My experience is that libertarians generally shift right-authoritarian over time, as here. I think it’s because the main attraction of libertarianism for a certain kind of person is the dream of having complete control over what’s “theirs” – possessions, money, employees, indentured workers, children…

  13. 8) Yes, I first ran across Bean in the EXCELLENT Sharp’s Rifles series. Not the least bit genre, but damned good series of tv films. The series also featured two other actors with genre connections: Alexi Denisoff, Giles’ replacement as Watcher on Buffy the Vampire series, and Assumpta Serna, who played an occult store owner in The Craft.

  14. Sean Bean, who was in two episodes of Jim Henson series, The Storyteller. He portrayed a prince on both occasions.

  15. I still think that dust skiing and dustboarding will have a role on the Moon…as I mention in the last two books of my Netwalk Sequence series. Not just as recreational activities but as potential getting around tools, means of accessing difficult areas for rescue purposes, and so on. Plus…setting up self-contained shelters along certain routes for refuge as needed.

  16. Sean Bean was also in the 2012 tv series MISSING. I only watched the first episode, where Bean’s character was, OF COURSE, killed. But he apparently recovered in later episodes. (We didn’t actually see his car-bombed corpse in that first episode.)

  17. 4) I got to “Leftists want to destroy the family and put the state in charge of raising and educating children, in order to make them obedient to government authority” and burst out laughing. Should I bother reading any further?

  18. 8) Since historical fiction is genre-adjacent for non-fantastical reasons (list available on request), it’s worth noting that Sean Bean’s portrayal of Richard Sharpe in the TV versions of the Napoleonic War novels made Bernard Cornwell reshape some aspects of his series character in Bean’s image (and accent).

    Has anyone already noted a shoutout to Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” and her CatNet books in yesterday’s Wonkette?


  19. The thing about the Sharpe series is I reached a point where I couldn’t stand another novel with the chronic villain in it. Then I came back to read Sharpe’s Waterloo. The villain isn’t in it, so I enjoyed it.

  20. 8) I read the Sharpe books after C.J.Cherryh recommended them on her website, so genre adjacent.
    @ OGH yeah, the chronic villain got tiresome, I preferred when the villain was the British Army system in a Catch 22 kind of way.

  21. Joyce R-W: I haven’t read those, but I think I’ll have to get to them. I agree – I can see people skiing in the dust (once we figure out how to deal with the sharp-edged dust).

    Doctor Science: Do read the rest. The middle, with that utterly bizarre stuff, goes past, and he moves away from it.

  22. Thanks, mark. For the record, the dust skiing comes up in the first story in Learning in Space, “Tranquility Freeriders” (which was a WOTF semifinalist) and in the following book, Netwalking Space. They should be available in libraries as well as at the usual ebook suspects.

  23. mark…that is exclusively Heinlein. I don’t think anyone else could get away with it–it’s too well-known!

    (I wrote those skiing sequences when I was skiing regularly at Timberline and had regular contact with ski and snowboard bums, including some of my middle school students who dreamed of being the next Shaun White–the Flying Tomato. And one of these days I’ll resurrect the story I wrote for the Jay Lake cancer anthology–“Jay Lake and the Ski Bum Zombies.” A bunch of my students gave me input on that one…unfortunately, not the ones he visited a few years later, a few months before his death.)

  24. “Gentlemen, be seated” is a Heinlein story. A Fall of Moondust, aside from the setting and the technical details, is an extremely conventional slick suspense/rescue novel. I’m almost surprised The Reader’s Digest didn’t pick it up.

  25. Jim Janney: A Fall of Moondust, aside from the setting and the technical details, is an extremely conventional slick suspense/rescue novel. I’m almost surprised The Reader’s Digest didn’t pick it up.

    When I read A Fall of Moondust for the first time (2015-2016?), it read to me like The Poseidon Adventure on the Moon.

    I can see why it was considered revolutionary when it was published, but it has aged very, very badly.

    My ability to enjoy the story was hugely impaired by all the sexism and racism in it. If it hadn’t been a library book (and a rather dilapidated one, at that), it would have been thrown against the wall repeatedly.

    The first horror is that no one reading it at the time saw a problem with it — and the second horror is that there are a lot of people who, if they read it now, would still not see a problem with it. 😐

  26. @JJ — “all the sexism and racism in it”
    Do you mean that there are sexist/racist characters in it? I read books all the time with characters who have loathsome qualities. Fiction reflects the human experience.
    Or is there something about it that makes you think the author is racist/sexist?

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