Pixel Scroll 4/20/24 Was Cheops A Very Large Cat? Only The Builders Know

(1) UKRANIAN WOMEN IN SF. Michael Burianyk’s English-language roundtable interview with Ukrainian Science Fiction and Fantasy writers Daria Piskozub, Svitlana Taratorina, Iryna Hrabovska, Natalia Matolinets and Nataliya Dovhopol has just been published in the British Science Fiction Association blog, Vector: “Ukrainian Women in SF: A Roundtable Conversation”. The wide-ranging discussion, on Ukrainian Science Fiction and Fantasy, literature and culture, language and translation, women’s writing, is insightful and often touching and even harrowing at times.

There is a strong trend of more Ukrainian SFF being published. Why did you think this was happening?

Nataliya It’s mainly about escapism. After spending the night in a bomb shelter and doom scrolling all day, one needs something less traumatic. Yet, SFF can also help to cope with feelings, to project one’s own experiences on those in the stories. Then the ban on book imports from Russia and a growing interest in Ukrainian culture has created more of a demand for domestic literature….

(2) HORROR UNIVERSITY OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT. StokerCon has announced the 2024 Horror University Online workshop schedule. From May 30 to June 1, they will present nine live, in-person workshops at StokerCon 2024 in San Diego, CA. See items at the link.

HORROR UNIVERSITY is designed for horror writers interested in refining their writing, learning new skills and techniques, exploring new writing formats, or better understanding the genre. These workshops are taught by some of the most experienced voices in horror. Full descriptions and registration information for our STOKERCON 2024 Workshop Schedule is available in the Horror University School on Teachable: https://horror-university.teachable.com/courses/category/stokercon-2024.


Registration for each workshop is $65 for non-HWA-members. HWA members receive a 15% discount on individual courses or a 20% discount on registration for five or more courses. Log into the Members Only area of www.horror.org and check the discounts page for codes. General registration for StokerCon does not include Horror University programming; additional registration is required so that the Con is able to compensate each instructor for their workshop and support the cost of the program.

(3) FIVE FOR YOUR MT TBR. Lisa Tuttle’s roundup of “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror” for the Guardian reviews Calypso by Oliver K. Langmead; Someone You Can Build a Nest In by John Wiswell; The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo; The Underhistory by Kaaron Warren; and The Universe Delivers the Enemy You Need by Adam Marek.

(4) GAY FURRY HACKERS. Them reports“Gay Furry Hacker Group SiegedSec Breached Far-Right Media Outlet Real America’s Voice”.

The gay furry hacker group SiegedSec has done it once again, this time claiming responsibility for leaking the data from a far-right media outlet.

In a Monday post to its Telegram channel, the group announced that it had hacked the app for Real America’s Voice, a right-wing media outlet founded in 2020 that regularly features far-right activists like Steve Bannon and Charlie Kirk. The outlet also frequently platforms conspiracy theories and transphobic rhetoric.

As part of SiegedSec’s ongoing hacktivism campaign OpTransRights, the group said they released the personal information of over 1,200 users on the app, including their full names, phone numbers, and email addresses. The group also said they “went poof on their files,” wiping user data from the app’s API and its cloud storage.

“[T]hroughout our attacks on transphobic entities, we have received concerns that our attacks will be used to label the LGBTQ+ community as ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals,’” the group wrote in a Telegram message. “[T]he thing is, these types of people will blame the LGBTQ+ community regardless of what we do. they will look for a reason to hate, they won’t listen to reason, they want to spread lies to shun people different than them.”…

(5) COPYRIGHT’S WOBBLY LEGAL LINE. “Author granted copyright over book with AI-generated text—with a twist” reports Ars Technica.

…The novel draws from Shupe’s eventful life, including her advocacy for more inclusive gender recognition. Its registration provides a glimpse of how the [Copyright Office] is grappling with artificial intelligence, especially as more people incorporate AI tools into creative work. It is among the first creative works to receive a copyright for the arrangement [emphasis added] of AI-generated text.

“We’re seeing the Copyright Office struggling with where to draw the line,” intellectual property lawyer Erica Van Loon, a partner at Nixon Peabody, says. Shupe’s case highlights some of the nuances of that struggle—because the approval of her registration comes with a significant caveat.

The USCO’s notice granting Shupe copyright registration of her book does not recognize her as author of the whole text [emphasis added] as is conventional for written works. Instead she is considered the author of the “selection, coordination, and arrangement of text generated by artificial intelligence.” This means no one can copy the book without permission, but the actual sentences and paragraphs themselves are not copyrighted and could theoretically be rearranged and republished as a different book. [emphasis added]

(6) GLASGOW 2024 NEWS. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon “In Memoriam” list is being constantly updated by Steven H Silver. They ask of you know of someone you believe should be included, please let us know.

(7) DUNE MUSICAL AT WORLDCON. Glasgow 2024 also invites members to “Prepare for a unique twist on Frank Herbert’s masterpiece with Dune! The Musical. Solo artist Dan Collins will take you on a whimsical one-hour journey across Arrakis with humour and song.” There will be a performance at the Worldcon.

A memoir in song by the Earl of Caladan, trusted adviser to the Padisha Emperor and beloved troubadour-warrior, the bard Gurney Halleck.

Following the success of his work on “A Child’s History of Muad’Dib” Gurney will perform hits from his back catalogue and introduce never-before-heard songs from his time among the Fremen.

Sing along with little Paul Atreides on his journey to Sietch Tabr; can he tame the worm, save the world and get the girl?

Forget everything you know about Arrakis and get ready for Dune! The Musical…


[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 85. [By Paul Weimer.] It’s Rankin and Bass’ fault that I got into the work of Peter S. Beagle.  As a voracious young reader, I saw The Last Unicorn in the library and somehow, even given my small “c” catholic tastes in SFF, saw that it was somehow not going to be for me. So I didn’t pick it up. I passed it by.

Fast forward to the mid-1980’s. NYC’s Channel 11, an independent TV station, aka “New York’s movie station”, introduced me to a gigantic swelter of movies.  

One of them, by accident, was the 1982 animated version of The Last Unicorn. I remember not remembering at the time or realizing at the time that it was based on the Beagle novel, but after I was transported and transformed by the adaptation, I went and sought out the original novel.  As fine and charming as the movie is, the novel truly gave me a sense of the power and lyric nature of Beagle’s work.

I was hooked.

Peter S. Beagle

I came across my favorite Beagle, The Innkeeper’s Song, in the mid 90’s. I was in a strong fantasy vein at the time and was interested in a variety of narrative forms. The Innkeeper’s Song, with its multiple first-person narration, was a revelation in escaping the usual multiple third-person points of view that were the norm at the time. Even today, Innkeeper’s Song feels fresh and unique in its approach to narrative, point of view, and literary interest. Even before Gene Wolfe, I think Beagle’s fantasy was my first real immersion into what one might call literary fantasy.

But even more than literary talent or line by line skill, what Beagle’s work does to me, from the Last Unicorn to today, is make me feel. I think his shorter fiction is where the distillation of his skill, craft, mood and the ability to evoke emotion is at its best in the short form.  “Two Hearts”, a sequel to The Last Unicorn, is a particular favorite, because Griffins. His TNG written episode “Sarek” is one of the most moving pieces of Star Trek to this day. And yes, to this day, The Last Unicorn, the movie, brings tears to my eyes.


(10) CLOSING WORDS. GiantFreakinRobot discusses “The Last Essay Ray Bradbury Wrote Before He Died”.

…At points, he describes how his librarian would get upset with him because he’d check out so many books when she didn’t think he’d read them all. But he did, he read every word he could get his hands on. As Bradbury explains, books “are the building blocks, the DNA, if you will, of you.”

Reading fed Ray Bradbury’s appetite for knowledge and his curiosity, which led to his understanding of writing and imagination. He expressed his love for books throughout his work, including, famously, in his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, which describes a future world where books and reading is against the law.

Having his last essay be about the art of reading in general is more than a little fitting for Ray Bradbury. It acts as something of a career summation, an explanation for why literature and the act of reading are just so very important for us as humans. There really is no better sendoff for the writer, an inspiration for all us.

(11) BLUEY. Chris Barkley assures me sff fans will want to know this news: “’Bluey’ Drops Surprise New Episode on Disney” at The Hollywood Reporter. I’m guessing Chris knows this show exists because he has kids in his life. When my daughter was young I knew about Blue’s Clues and Mister Rogers Neighborhood in detail. Now kids’ TV is an undiscovered country for me.

… The new episode comes a week after “The Sign,” a special, 28-minute installment of the beloved kids’ show debuted (most Bluey episodes run under 10 minutes). The special drew waves of critical praise for its emotional storyline centering on the Heeler family possibly selling their home and moving to another city where dad Bandit would take a new job, as well as a wedding between the Heelers’ Uncle Rad and Frisky.

Coupled with the preceding episode, “Ghostbasket,” the special spawned widespread speculation that Bluey was ending. While the long-term future of the show, originally commissioned by Australia’s ABC and the BBC in the U.K. hasn’t been decided — “the BBC has asked for me never to talk about the kids’ voices or the future of Bluey,” creator Joe Brumm told The Hollywood Reporter in 2023 — “Surprise” ensures that “The Sign” isn’t the last episode of the series.

Bluey has been a breakout hit for Disney+ in the United States. It’s the most streamed show in the country this year in terms of total viewing time, according to Nielsen’s streaming ratings, after ranking second in 2023 and sixth in 2022….

(12) LESSONS FROM THE UKRAINE. The New York Times asks “Do Tanks Have a Place in 21st-Century Warfare?”

… Despite their power, tanks are not impenetrable, and they are most vulnerable where their heavy plated armor is the thinnest: on the top, the rear engine block and the space between the hull and the turret. For years they were mainly targeted with land mines, improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles, like “shoot and scoot” shoulder-fired systems. These were widely used early in the Ukraine war because they could strike tanks from above and hit them up to 90 percent of the time.

The drones that are now being used against tanks in Ukraine are even more accurate. Known as first-person view drones, or FPVs, they are equipped with a camera that streams real-time images back to their controller, who can direct them to hit tanks in their most vulnerable spots. In several cases, the FPVs have been sent in to “finish off” tanks that had already been damaged by mines or anti-tank missiles so that they could not be retrieved from the battlefield and repaired, Colonel Reisner said.

Depending on their size and technological sophistication, the drones can cost as little as $500 — a paltry investment for taking out a $10 million Abrams tank. And some of them can carry munitions to boost the impact of their blast, said Colonel Reisner. These could be rocket-propelled grenades, he said, or self-forging warheads known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, that were widely used in roadside bombs during the war in Iraq. Colonel Reisner has collected videos of tanks in Ukraine being chased down by the drones or drones flying into their open turrets.

“Welcome to the 21st century — it’s unbelievable, actually,” said Colonel Reisner, a historian and former armor reconnaissance officer who oversees Austrian forces’ training at the Theresian Military Academy….

(13) MILITARY AI. “’Machines set loose to slaughter’: the dangerous rise of military AI” – a 2020 article from the Guardian.

The video is stark. Two menacing men stand next to a white van in a field, holding remote controls. They open the van’s back doors, and the whining sound of quadcopter drones crescendos. They flip a switch, and the drones swarm out like bats from a cave. In a few seconds, we cut to a college classroom. The killer robots flood in through windows and vents. The students scream in terror, trapped inside, as the drones attack with deadly force. The lesson that the film, Slaughterbots, is trying to impart is clear: tiny killer robots are either here or a small technological advance away. Terrorists could easily deploy them. And existing defences are weak or nonexistent.

Some military experts argued that Slaughterbots – which was made by the Future of Life Institute, an organisation researching existential threats to humanity – sensationalised a serious problem, stoking fear where calm reflection was required. But when it comes to the future of war, the line between science fiction and industrial fact is often blurry. The US air force has predicted a future in which “Swat teams will send mechanical insects equipped with video cameras to creep inside a building during a hostage standoff”. One “microsystems collaborative” has already released Octoroach, an “extremely small robot with a camera and radio transmitter that can cover up to 100 metres on the ground”. It is only one of many “biomimetic”, or nature-imitating, weapons that are on the horizon…

(14) NO SIRENS ON TITAN. “Dragonfly: NASA Just Confirmed The Most Exciting Space Mission Of Your Lifetime” enthuses Forbes.

NASA has confirmed that its exciting Dragonfly mission, which will fly a drone-like craft around Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, will cost $3.35 billion and launch in July 2028.

Titan is the only other world in the solar system other than Earth that has weather and liquid on its surface. It has an atmosphere, rain, lakes, oceans, shorelines, valleys, mountain ridges, mesas and dunes—and possibly the building blocks of life itself. It’s been described as both a utopia and as deranged because of its weird chemistry.

Set to reach Titan in 2034, the Dragonfly mission will last for two years once its lander arrives on the surface…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nearly 200,000 views and not even out for two days…. Matt O’Dowd over at PBS Space Time wonders “Why Is The World Rushing Back To The Moon?”

The Moon has been one of the most important theoretical stepping stones to our understanding of the universe. We’ve long understood that it could also be our literal stepping stone: humanity’s first destination beyond our atmosphere.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Michael Burianyk, Francis Hamit, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

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29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/20/24 Was Cheops A Very Large Cat? Only The Builders Know

  1. First!!!

    The Dune Musical sounds like giving Dune the Anna Russell treatment.
    (If you don’t know who Anna Russell is, she’s a comic and musician who would do comedy bits about classical music. One of her best was her re-telling of Wagner’s Ring Cycle which is both hiliarous and dead on.)

  2. 11) Yes, I would put Bluey as tangentially related to SF/F, especially since the young’uns and their parents frequently explore the world of the imagination together. Like M. Glyer, I discovered the show because my very young niece Sadie is quite fond of Bluey and once you start watching Bluey, the quality of the show keeps you coming back. A fun place to start is the episode Daddy Robot, which is exactly about what you might think. 🙂

  3. (14) But they don’t have the money to keep the Chandra X-Ray telescope alive for the 10 more years it’s expected to last.

  4. (0) I trust Edifice, he was good enough for Cleopatra, he’s good enough for me.
    (3) Now, if the Guardian didn’t make it so damn hard to get books to her to review…
    (7) Oh, Ghu, say it ain’t so… (we’ll be there).
    Birthday: and I hope it’s a happy birthday. I don’t need to add more about his writing.
    (12) Of course, the next step will be tanks with a cloud of their own micro-drones to defend them…
    (13) Waiting for the deadly swarms to be used by “terrorists” to hit the offices of the companies who build them.
    (15) Maybe they weren’t there when we went the first time. Maybe they don’t remember when the entire bloody world held its breath while Apollo XIII was out of touch behind the Moon. We’ve been waiting to go back for 40+ years, damn it.
    Here’s the video to answer:
    And yes, it is the National Anthem of Fandom.

  5. (15) Because it’s the nearest place we can get to, without a years-long trip that we can’t do. They’ve missed the decades of work it took to get there in the first place – and much of that work was unmanned satellites and landers. There were Surveyors sent to see that we could land, and one of the Apollo missions check out a site where one Surveyor landed, and brought back a part of it.

  6. 12) The Ukrainian people prefer their country’s name not be preceded in English by the definite article, as that construction is used to name regions and not sovereign nations.

  7. @Thomas the Red
    “Do ya remember Alberich?”

    Is a Humble Bundle considered a Meredith Moment? There is a “Dune: The Universe Collection” Humble Bundle that’s available right now.

    I know that few Dune fans like the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson Dune books with the passion of a thousand sandworms. OTOH it’s $18 for 17 Dune books, and it helps charity. So if you like the extended Dune universe, go for it. If you want to read them to decide for yourselves whether they’re worthy or not, here’s your chance. And the full bundle includes “Dreamer of Dune” (a Frank Herbert biography).

  8. We were somewhere on Barsoom around the edge of the desert when the pixels began to scroll.

    (4) That this happened is certainly news, and it is not remarkable that it is reported here. But why repeat SiegedSec’s self-justification, uncritically?

    Patrick Morris Miller on April 20, 2024 at 9:27 pm said:
    “The Ukrainian people prefer their country’s name not be preceded in English by the definite article …”

    Thanks for pointing this out Patrick, I admit I didn’t even notice. We’ve more or less won the war of “the”, but it sometimes does raise its definitive head.

    One other point is the use of “the Ukraine war”. Some consider it offensive not because of grammar but because it totally ignores the perpetrator.

    Finally, somewhere in the vast amount of doom scrolling I do, I read that the majority of Russian tanks that have been destroyed have been by Ukrainian drones. By the way, some estimates put the losses of Russian armour (tanks and APCs) at well over 50% of pre-invasion stocks.

  10. (7) “Dune, or the Sand of Music” was performed at the 1995 Worldcon in Glasgow. At some point we should have a convention where we put on all of the Dune musicals.

  11. (10)

    his librarian would get upset with him because he’d check out so many books when she didn’t think he’d read them all.

    Words from my childhood.

  12. 8) I agree with Paul that Peter S. Beagle really shines in his short fiction. I absolutely loved his collection The Overneath.

  13. TomBecker: NO. I am reminded of the day, decades ago, when the late Gene Shay, the DJ who did the Folk Show in Philly, decided to do seven version, back to back, of Seven Yellow Gypsies, Oh (and all the other names for it). I like the song, but three quarters of an hour?

  14. 12) It’s Russia’s war on Ukraine.
    There is a way people can donate to their cause. There is a US based nonprofit, which goes toward support for refugees, medical aid, reconstruction, you name it. It is:

    I checked it out with the Ukranian consulate, and it is legit. Some sites out there are Russian run, pretending to be Ukraine. Some donations (and they tell you which) can be tax deductible.

    RE: John Trimble’s passing yesterday: I recall File770 posted an address for people to send cards for Bjo’s birthday. Can that be re-posted so we can send condolence cards to Bjo and family?

  15. 8) The genius of The Last Unicorn is that you can read it either as straight fantasy or as a knowing sendup of the genre — and it works both ways.

    My favorite short story is probably “Lila the Werewolf”, just because.

  16. @mark: The main point I wanted to make was the musical has been Dune before.

    Seven versions of a song, for three quarters of an hour? I must be made of sterner stuff than you. The Maximum Louie Louie special played 823 versions and went for 63 hours. I lived within range of the radio station and listened to it, when I wasn’t asleep or at work. So I was spared the full impact. The song, of course, was always the same, but the variety of the arrangements was amazing.

  17. TomBecker: sterner stuff? Hell, I remember working in a factory, long ago, forced to listen to Top40 radio…. (and for those who don’t remember, that’s 40 songs, hit replay, forever, or at least the rest of the month, until a new top 40….

  18. Bill wrote: “But why repeat SiegedSec’s self-justification, uncritically?”

    To be fair to Mike, he merely linked to an article on the Them website, which presumably feels in political accord with this particular group of cyber-vandals.

  19. Speaking of Dune & music, there have been artists who paid tribute to the novel:

    —There was an ‘80s Eurosynth band named Bene Gesserit.
    —Legendary ‘70s synth player Klaus Schultze had an album called Dune.
    —There was a techno track called “Mindkiller” by Eon about you-know-what.
    —In tribute to Lynch’s take on the novel, a guitar pedal company named Way Huge created a “weirding module” guitar pedal called the Atreides:


  20. (5) Not actually that surprising. That’s how it works with, e.g., anthologies of public domain stories. The editor can get a copyright on the selection and arrangement, but not, of course, the individual stories.

  21. @mark
    I worked one year doing electronics assembly, with pop radio. They tried “no talk” radio, but no one liked that. We wanted to hear from the outside world: weather and especially traffic (because we all came from other areas). That was the year there was a major crash just off Moffett Field…

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