Pixel Scroll 4/2/23 It’s All Together Ooky, The Pixel Scrollery

(1) NICK FURY. The official trailer for Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion series dropped today. It streams June 21 on Disney+.

(2) STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS BEFORE. “Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary Has a Big Idea He Thinks Will Help Prevent School Shootings” at MSN.com.

…”It’s really hard to watch an event like this become a partisan debate. It’s really, really hard,” O’Leary said on Fox Business March 30. “I actually think it’s triggering and going to trigger a new narrative, and this is going to be a difficult one to deal with, that could have been avoided.”

O’Leary suggested that artificial intelligence tools could possibly be used to detect people with violent motives.

“Are you willing, in America, to allow AI to scrape social media and target you to law enforcement?” O’Leary asked. “If we said yes to that, those people wouldn’t be dead.”

“All of these shooters generally post hours before they do the deed on some social media here or there,” he added. “In China, for example, a combination of face recognition with AI scraping of all the social media would identify this individual hours before they did their move into the school, and they could have been apprehended”.

In this case, messages sent by the shooter on Instagram hinted at the attack before it happened. O-Leary thinks these online conversations can be detected and that action could possibly prevent future shooting events….

Chris Barkley sent the link with this comment: “Apparently, ‘Mr. Wonderful’ has never seen Minority Report. Fortunately, we have.”

(3) BLUER ON THE OUTSIDE. “Tan, teal and aliens – has Wes Anderson really made a sci-fi movie?” asks the Guardian’s Ben Child.

Sci-fi is a genre that appears to be getting less fun by the decade. In the early 1900s, George Méliès imagined that the moon was populated by lunar goddesses, stripy, insectoid aliens and giant, psychedelic mushrooms. These days we’re fully aware it’s just a boring rock in space that even Nasa hasn’t bothered to visit in 50 years. Nobody believes in aliens except far-out conspiracy theorists and Khloé Kardashian.

Why then has arch-eccentric Wes Anderson chosen now to debut his first sci-fi movie? Asteroid City, the new trailer for which dropped this week, centres on a 1955 convention of young stargazers in a fictional US desert town. It features just about every indie actor from the past half a century or so; from Scarlett Johansson to Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton to Bryan Cranston, and teases the possibility of some kind of alien intervention among the geeky Americana and whistling sand dunes.

But is this really a sci-fi movie at all? And even if it is, will it be remembered as such?…

(4) FUNGUS AMONG US. In the New York Times, Dr. Neil Vora says, “‘The Last of Us’ Is Right. Our Warming Planet Is a Petri Dish”.

“The Last of Us,” a postapocalyptic television thriller, recently concluded its first season with a stunning finale. However, as a physician and horror superfan, I found the show’s beginning more striking: A 1960s talk-show host asks two epidemiologists what keeps them up at night. “Fungus,” one replies.

He’s worried about a real-world species of Ophiocordyceps known to hijack the body and behavior of ants. Fast forward to the show’s central, fictional drama: a pandemic caused by a type of that fungus, which mutated as the world grew warmer. The new version infects humans and turns them into ravenous, zombielike beings whose bodies are overtaken by mushrooms.

Fungal epidemics in humans are infrequent, in part because human-to-human transmission of fungi is rare, and I am not aware of any involving zombielike creatures. It’s far more likely that the next pandemic will come from a virus. But the idea that climate change is making the emergence of new health threats more likely is solid. Could it cause a fungus ubiquitous in the environment to morph into a lethal pathogen in humans? It’s possible.

Scientists like me worry that climate change and ecosystem destruction may be creating opportunities for fungal pathogens to grow more infectious, spread over larger distances and reach more people. For example, Candida auris, a drug-resistant yeast that can be deadly in hospitalized patients, may have gained the ability to infect people thanks to warmer temperatures, according to some scientists. On March 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Candida auris has spread at “an alarming rate” in health care facilities and is “concerning.”…

(5) SCORED OF THE RINGS. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] As the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952-2023) passed away recently, I thought maybe this would be a nice piece of ephemera to commemorate his lesser-known work: “Nokia 8800 ringtones [in honor of Ryuichi Sakamoto”.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2023[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Beginning for this Scroll is rather different as it is for a novel — Devil’s Gun (The Disco Space Opera Book 2) — that isn’t out yet. It’s the sequel to Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing, one of my favorite novels of recent times.  

As you know, we have an excerpt here from You Sexy Thing, one selected by the author set in the kitchens of the Last Chance Restaurant.  It’s way cool. And tasty too. 

 You Sexy Thing had  characters well worth hanging out with, detailed settings that felt quite real and a fascinating story. I expect no less out of its sequel given how extraordinarily good its author is.  

Devil’s Gun will be released on Tor Macmillan, August 29th, and here’s a preorder link. Audiobook should available at the same time according to her. The cover art has not yet been revealed by Tor. 

Here’s the Beginning as provided by the author. Thanks Cat! 

Over the course of her military career, Niko Larsen had awoken to all sorts of conditions, including firefights, battlestorms, unexpected evacuations, and last minute musters. This was, however, the first time she had awoken to the cries of a panicked bio-ship.

“Captain Captain CAPTAIN!”

The words came from all around her, nearly blasting her out of her bunk. You Sexy Thing might have been a supra-intelligent being but right now it seemed reduced to far below that by panic. “They’re INSIDE me!”

Niko rolled out of her bed in one easy motion, and didn’t bother with anything other than a gun and its belt. Still strapping it on, she raced down the corridor towards the central control room. The other members of the crew were less awake, startled faces appearing in doorways as she flashed past.

Her mind flipped through possibilities as fast as her footsteps. How could someone have gotten aboard? The ship was docked, but still double-locked. Surely the ship would have alerted them the moment someone tried to cut their way in. Was this the blow from Tubal Last she’d been expecting, or some other, entirely new, threat?

She hit the doorway running, prepared for anything except what she saw…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 2, 1921 Redd Boggs. Los Angeles fanzine writer, editor and publisher. The 1948 Fantasy Annual was his first zine with Blish as a contributor, with Discord being nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo. He was nominated for the Retro Hugo for Best Fan Writer, and Sky Hook was nominated for Best Fanzine. Boggs was also a member of First Fandom. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 2, 1926 Robert Holmes. Scriptwriter who came up with some brilliant Doctor Who stories including the Fourth Doctor-era The Talons of Weng-Chiang, one of my all-time favorite tales, which he collected in Doctor Who: The Scripts. He was the script editor on the series from 1974 to 1977 and was in ill health during much of that time. He died while working on scripts for the second and final Sixth Doctor stories of The Trial of a Time Lord. (Died 1986.)
  • Born April 2, 1933 Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator of genre covers during the Seventies. Glyer has a most excellent look at him here in his obituary posting. I’m very fond of his cool, diffuse style of illustration that made it seem as if the subject of the cover was just coming into focus as you looked at them. Here’s the first edition of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 2, 1939 Elliot K. Shorter. Fan, bookseller, and Locus co-editor once upon a time. He was attending conventions by the early Sixties and was a major figure in Sixties and Seventies fandom, and involved in a number of APAs. And as Mike notes, he spread his larger than life enthusiasm wide as he “belonged to the Tolkien Society of America, Hyborean Legion, the City College of New York SF Club, ESFA, Lunarians, Fanoclasts and NESFA.” He was involved in the Worldcon bid and helped run Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon which came out of the bid. All of this is particularly remarkable as he was one of the very few African-Americans in Sixties fandom. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 2, 1940 Peter Haining.  British author and anthologist responsible for a number of really cool works such as The Sherlock Holmes ScrapbookThe Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Spring Heeled JackDoctor Who: The Key to Time A year by year record (which covered all of classic Who) and James Bond: A Celebration. He was responsible for some one hundred and seventy books in his lifetime. (Died 2007.)
  • Born April 2, 1948 Joan D. Vinge, 75. Best-known for The Snow Queen which won a well-deserved Hugo and a sequel plus a related work, her most excellent series about the young telepath named Cat, and her Heaven’s Chronicles, the latter which I’ve not read. Her first new book in almost a decade after her serious car accident was the novelization of Cowboys & Aliens. And I find it really neat that she wrote the anime and manga reviews for The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies.
  • Born April 2, 1978 Scott Lynch, 45. Author of the Gentleman Bastard series of novels. I know I read The Lies of Locke Lamora but who here has read the entire series to date?  And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) SUNDAY MORNING TRANSPORT. Darcie Little Badger’s “Those Hitchhiking Kids” is a free read this week at The Sunday Morning Transport, so feel free to share it.

What does wanderlust mean when you’re a ghost? Find out by joining Darcie Little Badger’s wonderfully intrepid Corey and Jimena on the road. 

The Sunday Morning Transport is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our authors’ work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

(10) RUSS COLLECTION PREVIEWED. Samuel Delany reminded Facebook readers about a Joanna Russ collection that’s on the way.

Coming this October: Here’s the first volume from the Library of America’s assemblage of the works of my dear friend Joanna Russ (22 Feb., 1937—29 April, 2011) which contains all of her fiction except her 2nd (And Chaos Died) and her last novel (The Two of Them). You’ll all of her stories. Its wonderfully researched chronology is the closest thing we’ll have to a biography for a while. Edited by Russ scholar, Nikole Rudnik, it’s a fuckin’ fine job!

A second volume, if the gods smile on the country and publishing’s profits go above 6%, will, include the missing novels, *And Chaos Died* [1970] and The Two of Them* [1978] as well as a healthy handful of her crusading criticism—especially “How to Suppress Women’s Writing,” and the late collection of early essays, What Are We Fighting for. Easily they could throw in the best and wittiest of her reviews, and a heaping good handful of her Byronically bountiful letters, and another of her as yet uncollected—though published-—early tales.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by N.] Socratic debate on the nature of Doctor Who’s queer representation. It’s a long’un (~48 mins). “Doctor Who Was Queerbait”. This video particularly focuses on “Thasmin”, the pairing of the Thirteenth Doctor and companion Yasmin Khan, whether it delivers what it seems to promise, and the question of its canonicity.

The Doctor and the Valeyard’s lesser known second trial, with Thasmin on the stand.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Ben Bird Person, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]


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24 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/2/23 It’s All Together Ooky, The Pixel Scrollery

  1. Did you know what happens when Pixels go walkabout? Well I don’t either.

    And no, this is not a First at all as it has nothing at all to do with those Pixels…

  2. (2) So, how many freedoms are they willing to give up, other than guns?
    (4) Sure, fungus gets transferred between humans. Can you say “athlete’s foot” (or, for fen and rocket engineers, missle toe)?
    Birthdays: and Elliot was a nice guy.

  3. 10) That is the best cover design We Who Are About To… has ever had.

  4. (2) There are so many ways this could go wrong. Will go wrong.

    (3) I haven’t clicked through, which is probably very bad of me, but it sounds like the writer of that article might not like sf and has very limited ideas of what’s an acceptable sf plot.

    In other news, a half hour ago I opened my apartment door to take the laundry out for morning pickup, and found I had mail. One of my neighbors must have brought it in.

    Included was The Way Home, by Peter Beagle. Hardcover. Publication date April 4.

  5. (10) “For the first time, all of Russ’s “Alyx” stories are reunited, showcasing the unforgettable, time-traveling adventures of her hero-assassin from Ourdh.”

    This is interesting to me since I have the Timescape edition of The Adventures of Alyx, comprised of “Bluestocking”, “I Thought She Was Afeard Until She Stroked My Beard”, “The Barbarian”, Picnic on Paradise, and “The Second Inquisition”. Are there other stories I don’t know about?

  6. Now that I think about it and if I remember correctly, the unnamed woman in “A Game of Vlet” might be Alyx.

  7. About to get on a plane – way too early in the morning. See you on the other side (of the country).

  8. (2) Its apt that this follows “Secret Invasion”.
    Can AI … No, it cant. Its easily gaslit.

  9. 2) Predictive policing tools are already being used by various police departments in the US and in Europe. So far, their effectiveness is questionable. In the example given here, how would you identify that this threat on social media was serious and the thousand other similar ones posted that day were not?

  10. I wonder if Library of America will have an editor’s note on the Alyx stories explaining who Fafhrd is. (They had a fling; Leiber confirmed that)

  11. @Paul Weimer: I’ve been there, and it totally has that used bookstore vibe. It’s great. Of course, it’s at Orange MKE airport.

  12. @Paul Weimer: that’s not just any random person, that’s Frank Cifaldi who’s been doing great work these last few years as a videogame historian and archivist: https://gamehistory.org (It’s a small world sometimes, especially on Boerchan)

  13. Jon Meltzer:

    I wonder if Library of America will have an editor’s note on the Alyx stories explaining who Fafhrd is. (They had a fling; Leiber confirmed that)

    There are always Notes. I’m sure this will be one.

  14. Well, in “Bluestocking” we have

    “I remembered,” said Alyx, “one week in spring when the night sky in Ourdh was hung as brilliantly with stars as the jewelers’ trays on the Street of a Thousand Follies. Ah! what a man. A big Northman with hair like yours and a gold-red beard–God, what a beard!–Fafnir–no, Fafh–well, something ridiculous. But he was far from ridiculous. He was amazing.”

    This was before shared universes became popular but Ourdh, with its Street of Heaven and Hell and its Street of Conspicuous Display, does seem a bit like Lankhmar.

  15. Elliot Shorter was a good friend.
    One year I found myself stuck at a convention with no way home and no money. Elliot introduced me to his father, a man equally charming, who was a lawyer and who had been in the same city at a convention of Bridge players. Said father allowed as how I could ride with them, but that I would have to pay a portion of the gas. I noted that I was out of money and he said that was fine, I could pay it in installments as I acquired cash.
    The trip was fascinating as Elliot’s father mixed humor with his excitement about the Bridge tournament and any number of other things. I think it was a year or so before Heinlein wrote “Farnham’s Freehold,” and it was this trip alone that gave me to understand that, yes, Bridge players would indeed continue to play Bridge right through a nuclear holocaust.
    We had a lovely correspondence as I slowly paid off the trip, and he always addressed me as “My favorite judgement debtor” until it was paid off. He also sent me birthday cards.
    When I moved West I lost touch with Elliot and his dad because our relationship had always been personal, not one of correspondence or fanzines. It was sad when he made the Great Gafiation because he was always a wonderful presence and a brightness.

  16. And now that I bother to look (no one will accuse me of being an energetic researcher), in the collection The Zanzibar Cat Russ introduces “A Game of Vlet” with

    It’s also the last story I wrote about my character Alyx, the last, the last, the last. I’m sorry, readers who want more of her, but there ain’t no more.

    So this will indeed be the first appearance of all the Alyx stories in print. In any case, forty years later is not too early to bring out a new edition.

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