Pixel Scroll 5/18/24 Come On You Pixels, Do You Want To Scroll Forever?

(1) R. F. KUANG’S BABEL WINS AWARD AT A CEREMONY AT THE CHENGDU SF MUSEUM. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The Chinese edition of R. F. Kuang’s Babel, as translated by Chen Yang, won the “Best Translated Work” category of the Xingyun (Chinese Nebula) Award.  The award ceremony took place in the Hugo Hall at the Chengdu SF Museum on Saturday May 18.

China.org.cn have published a brief English language article on the awards; a longer Chinese-language report, including all the winners, was published by the Xingyun Award account on WeChat/Weixin, which is where the pictures below are taken from.   A five-and-a-half-hour long video has also been posted to Weibo.

Judging by the logos in the hall and on photos from the event, the awards appear to have been sponsored by Guojiao 1573, an alcohol brand.  The aforementioned WeChat/Weixin report mentions that a member of the Pidu district local government gave a welcoming speech, but the report does not mention if there was any discussion of the 10-year science fiction plan.

(2) TRIPLETS. “Red Dwarf ‘returning to TV with 3 brand new episodes’” promises Radio Times.

It has been reported that long-running sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf will be returning for a new set of three specials in 2025, the first time the show has been seen on-screen since 2020.

British Comedy Guide has reported that one feature-length instalment will be split into three episodes, with filming set to begin in September, and stars Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn all returning.

Robert Llewellyn reportedy confirmed the news on his Fully Charged YouTube channel, saying: “We knew we were going to do more Red Dwarf, and we’re actually now doing it in the middle of October to the middle of November this year.

“A 90-minute special, three half-hours. So yes, we are making more. I can’t believe I’ve agreed to do it, I’m insane. I’m much too old.”

He previously told the channel: “We’ve all agreed to do more. We’re not going to do a new series, but we’re making something and it should be fun.”…

(3) BEAGLE Q&A. “Peter S. Beagle on his new novel, the hero’s journey, and why villains talk so much” at NPR.

[SCOTT] SIMON: Let me ask you about the wizard in the book ’cause he can’t keep his yap shut about what he’s hellbent on doing. Why is that?

BEAGLE: Well, you can’t possibly blame him. After all, he has been destroyed and come back. He has ridden with dragons. He knows so much about dragons, just not the important stuff. But because of his experience, he thinks he knows more than he does. And that’s fatal. I know that myself.

SIMON: That’s happened to you?

BEAGLE: It has. It has. Not with dragons, particularly….

(4) READ THE ANTHONY AWARD FINALISTS. The 2024 Bouchercon recently posted the Anthony Award Shortlists, and where one can read the short story finalists online.

(5) BWAH! Gizmodo’s James Whitbrook contends there are “25 Great Things About The Phantom Menace”. (Maybe you had trouble thinking of even one?) Seventh on his list —

I have to put “Sound Design” as one item on this list, because if wasn’t, 90% of this list would be me trying to find the onomatopoeia for practically every noise in this movie. The thrum of podrace engines, the clack of droideka feet, the little wibble Gungan energy shields make under fire, and yes, the Naboo blasters that go “bwah!”.

Especially the Naboo blasters that go “bwah!”.

(6) AND BLAB! “Did a Star Wars Producer Just Reveal the Title For James Mangold’s Movie?” asks Collider.

In a recent interview with SFX Magazine, Emanuel referred to the movie with a new title that could signal a significant shift in its direction. He said, “James Mangold’s Jedi Prime is set thousands and thousands of years before [the original trilogy], and I’m really excited to see what happens there.” While that quote does not officially confirm a title change, Emanuel’s use of “Jedi Prime” suggests exciting possibilities for the upcoming film.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born May 18, 1930 Fred Saberhagen. (Died 2007.)

By Paul Weimer: I came to Fred Saberhagen through epic fantasy.  I came across a reference to his Empire of the East series in a piece discussing science fantasy and the mixture of the two.  So I sought out that series and started to devour it. The idea of a post apocalypse America now ruled by magic, but the protagonist finds an old tank, and then goes on to find the “g0d” that was once a supercomputer fighting a demon that was once a nuclear bomb…the appeal to me of this was obvious from the start. 

Fred Saberhagen. Photo by Patricia Rogers.

After Empire of the East, I fell into his Books of Swords stories (which are in the same verse although the connection between the two was very very thin), and then, once I had gone with all of those, looked to see what else Saberhagen had written. 

If you are a sophisticated reader, you are probably wondering where Saberhagen’s Berserkers came in. It actually took me a while to make my way to Saberhagen’s most famous creation, with stops in Dracula, Frankenstein, and more before I would finally come across the ultimate killer AI stories. When I watched a Babylon 5 episode that referenced Berserkers, I was absolutely delighted. Beserker’s Planet is probably the oddest one of the whole series, which is much taken up with the ultimate MMA tournament where fighters of different skills from across the planet compete to be the champion (this is all secretly run by a half broken berserker, but for a lot of this book you have no idea it’s even there)

My favorite Saberhagen, overall, though, is a novella, “The Mask of The Sun”, which is about an absolutely interesting artifact that almost works like magic, showing probabilistic results from actions when you put it on. The main character gets hold of this, and it turns out two timelines and timeline/time travelling empires want that same artifact, at any cost. The interesting fillip for me, back then, was that it was timelines and polities based on the Aztecs and the Inca, rather than (at the time) more usual choices.  A Time War with the Inca and Aztecs pushes a LOT of my buttons. And I vividly enjoyed the main character trying to figure out how to have the Inca defeat Pizzaro and the Spanish, sustainably, once he wound up in 16th century Peru. His solution is ingenious and it makes a lot of sense, and overall, the story has a strong playground of the imagination, and shows Saberhagen at his best. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) LIBRARY’S STAR TURN. TrekMovie.com takes us “Inside How ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Transformed A Toronto University Library Into The Eternal Archive”.

Last week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Labyrinths,” featured an unusual location: the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. Star Trek fan Michael Cassabon, the Director of Advancement for the University of Toronto library system, assisted the production team on site and wrote about his experiences with the show and what makes the Fisher Library so unique.

… Modern-day Toronto is part of Trek canon (SNW: “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow”); for those of you keeping track, the library complex is a few blocks away from where the child Khan Noonien-Singh — the notorious ancestor of La’an — lives, and where an alt-universe Captain Kirk was killed trying to restore the timeline.

It is almost unheard of for filming to take place at the Fisher Library, but a rare exception was made for Star Trek: Discovery. Our library’s leadership believed that this collaboration would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the enduring relevance of libraries in the human quest for meaning. Libraries connect people to the information they seek in their quest for knowledge. The executive producers dedicated the episode with thanks “to librarians everywhere, dedicated to the preservation of artifacts, knowledge, and truth.”…

(10) LEARNING FROM THE SEVENTIES. Francis Hamit recommends Ken Miyamoto’s ScreenCraft article “25 Years Later: Why The DAZED AND CONFUSED Script Works”.

…So with no major character arcs being explored, surely there’s a compelling plot that takes us through the whole eventual film?

Not so much. Dazed and Confused is lacking in significant plot motivations and devices. There is no conventional plotting of moments beyond the overarching conflict of first-year students getting paddled by seniors. That is the sole piece of evidence of any consistent plot.

Instead, we follow the characters through their first day and night of summer. They drive in cars and bob their heads to now-classic seventies tunes, they play baseball, they smoke pot, they drink, they fight, they make out, and that’s about it….

The script teaches us that not every story needs broad character arcs, crucial plot points, and pinpoint structure. If you have stories that involve multiple characters, you can:

  • Engage the reader and audience by showcasing a specific world that attracts attention and interest
  • Offer characters that are void of the clichés we’ve already seen in multiple films and television series
  • Focus on small story windows to enhance the conflicts and drama
  • Use the multiple characters in creative ways to cut between scenes and showcase small character moment windows
  • Find creative ways to break up the dialogue to heighten each and every word that is spoken
  • Learn when too much is too much in scenes during the rewrite process
  • Set up the collaboration process by writing great characters that call for great casting

So go do likewise in your scripts and just keep livin’. L-I-V-I-N.

 (11) MONTY PYTHON. Eric Idle is fond of this take on King Charles’ portrait:

(12) DYSON SPHERES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There may be seven Dyson spheres within 1,000 light years!

A collaboration of eight, primarily Swedish-based, astronomers have identified seven Dyson sphere candidates within 300 parsecs (about 1,000 light years) of Earth.  The astronomers looked a data from ESA’s Gaia satellite, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and 2MASS of around five million stars.

A Dyson sphere is a theoretical concept seriously developed in 1960 by Freeman Dyson, but actually originating from the novel Star Maker (1937) by Olaf Stapledon. The Dyson sphere is a construct that completely surrounds a star and so captures all of, or most of, its visible light. Similarly, a Dyson swarm is a multitude of small orbiting bodies about a star that captures the majority of its light. While Dyson spheres and Dyson swarms capture visible light, they in turn warm and so give off infra-red (IR) and this IR excess might be considered a ‘techno-signature’ of an extraterrestrial civilisation.

Combing through the Gaia, WISE and 2MASS data, the astronomers come up with 7 possible candidates for Dyson spheres/swarms. The nearest is 466 light years away. All are M-type stars or red dwarfs. The astronomers do point out that there are several alternate natural explanations to the Dyson sphere/swarm suggestions but none of them fully explain the spectra seen from these candidate stars.

See   Suazo, M. et al (2024) Project Hephaistos – II. Dyson sphere candidates from Gaia DR3, 2MASS, and WISE. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. vol. 531 p695–707.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The “Young Frankenstein Movie Documentary (with Mel Brooks)” is a 2002 documentary. A bit self-adulatory, but worth it for the amusing anecdotes.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is a 1974 American comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder. Wilder also starred in the lead role as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and Peter Boyle as the monster. The film co-stars Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman. The film is a parody of the classic horror film genre, in particular the various film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus produced by Universal Pictures in the 1930s. Much of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film Frankenstein. To help evoke the atmosphere of the earlier films, Brooks shot the picture entirely in black and white, a rarity in the 1970s, and employed 1930s’ style opening credits and scene transitions such as iris outs, wipes, and fades to black. The film also features a period score by Brooks’ longtime composer John Morris.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Ersatz Culture, Joel Zakem, Francis Hamit, Lise Andreasen, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dann.]


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12 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/18/24 Come On You Pixels, Do You Want To Scroll Forever?

  1. Third!

    5) Phantom Menace is the only movie that meesa has ever walked out on.

  2. (1) Good for them. And a refutation of the mess of last year.
    (3) My villains don’t talk, esp. to heroes. They plot in private…
    (5) Looks to me more like a list of bads… And the pod race was, as I was in the theater watching, “oh, geez, soon to be a ride at their amusement park”.
    (9) That’s seriously cool.
    (10) On the other hand, never saw it, and just reading that, I have zero desire to spend money and time ever watching it.
    (11) ‘E needs a hat!

  3. 1) Yes, I can just TASTE the irony all the way across the Pacific Ocean…

  4. (12) Is this neighborhood zoned for Dyson Spheres? I shall have to consult the board.

  5. (12) Think of all the traffic problems these Dyson Spheres will cause – they’ll have to get the Vogons to construct a bypass.

  6. Just when you thought Dave and Ben couldn’t sink deeper into the cesspool…

  7. Pingback: Phantom Faceoff Challenge | File 770

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