Pixel Scroll 5/2/24 Gather Ye Pixels While Ye May, Scrolled Time Is Still A-Filing

(1) HOLY CATS! “Greta Gerwig’s Narnia Confirmed: Production Status & Everything We Know” at ScreenRant.

Acclaimed director Greta Gerwig has been tapped to helm a new reboot of The Chronicles of Narnia, and the upcoming film series is already beginning to take shape. Based on the beloved series of young adult novels by English writer C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia is set within the fantastical realm of fantasy and magic and tells an epic tale of war and peace within the kingdom. The novels first began publishing in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 2005’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that Lewis’ vision arrived on the big screen for the first time….

… Even though little news has come regarding casting or a potential release date, Netflix’s Chronicles of Narnia is officially confirmed. Gerwig was attached in mid-2023, but the Netflix and Narnia timeline stretches back to 2018 when the streamer acquired the rights (via Rolling Stone). In the intervening years, Netflix made little mention of their Narnia aspirations until they landed Barbie director Greta Gerwig. The streamer’s long-term goals are also not known, as Gerwig has only signed on to direct the first two movies, which leaves five potential films on the table, assuming Netflix tackles all seven novels….

(2) BBC RADIO 4’S “UNCANNY”. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We over here in Brit Cit do wonder about goings-on the other side of the Black Atlantic in the land of the Mega-Cities and the Cursed Earth. So it has been good that BBC Radio 4 has stepped up with a new series… The truth is out there, or some such…

From ghostly phantoms to UFOs, Danny Robins investigates real-life stories of paranormal encounters. So, are you Team Believer or Team Sceptic?

You can download the first programme here.

(3) BEST OF BRITISH. Ian Whates today posted the table of contents for Donna Scott’s The Best of British Science Fiction 2023.

  • Introduction – Donna Scott
  • Detonation Boulevard – Alastair Reynolds
  • Vermin Control – Tim Lees
  • Personal Satisfaction – Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Scent of Green – Ana Sun
  • Gauguin’s Questions – Stephen Baxter
  • So Close to Home – Andrew Hook
  • Boojum – Angus McIntyre
  • The Station Master – Lavie Tidhar
  • Art App – Chris Beckett
  • The Blou Trein Suborbirail – L.P. Melling
  • Blue Shift Passing By – David Cleden
  • And if Venice is Sinking – Fiona Moore
  • Muse Automatique – Jaine Fenn
  • Little Sprout – E.B. Siu
  • A Change of Direction – Rhiannon Grist
  • Thus With a Kiss I Die – Robert Bagnall
  • Tough Love – Teika Marija Smits
  • The Brazen Head of Westinghouse – Tim Major
  • Skipping – Ian Watson
  • Pearl – Felix Rose Kawitzky

(4) DISNEY CARTOON ART ON THE BLOCK. Heritage Auctions will run “The Heartbeat of a Cartoon II – The Art of Vintage Disney Animations Drawings” on May 11-12. Preview the lots at the link above. Here’s one example:

Mickey’s Fire Brigade Mickey Mouse, Long-Billed Donald Duck, Goofy, and Clarabelle Cow Animation Drawing (Walt Disney, 1935). Mickey and his fire brigade rush to save an oblivious Clarabelle Cow from a burning building in this 12 field 2-peghole animation drawing from the Ben Sharpsteen-directed short Mickey’s Fire Brigade. The animation premiered on 8/3/1935 and was the first short to feature this iconic trio in color. The three can be found later in the short at around the 6:31 mark as Mickey and Donald use Goofy as a battering ram to charge into Clarabelle’s bathroom. Things don’t go well for them, but they are able to finish their mission and rescue the distressed cow from the surrounding inferno. 

(5) BINDING AND LOOSING. May Haddad shows writers the ropes (literally) in “Tie Up the Loose Ends: A Writer’s Guide to Sailor’s Knots” at the SFWA Blog.

Knot tying (“nodology” in Latin, “kompology” in Greek) is a time-honored skill honed in seafaring for millennia. Its history intertwines with maritime exploration, naval warfare, and the development of trade routes all over the world. Even as synthetic ropes replaced natural fibers, knots used by sailors centuries ago remain in wide use today. Considering the popularity of “faring” in speculative fiction, whether by sea, sky, or space, featuring knot-tying in your writing is a must for authenticity.  Not only are you required to know your knots and how to tie them, but you also need to understand the lingo….

(6) PLAYING IN THE FUTURE. The Center for Science and Imagination has posted a new episode of “CSI Skill Tree: Mass Effect: Andromeda with Souvik Mukherjee and Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay”. The series “examines how video games envision possible futures and build thought-provoking worlds.”

In this episode, we discuss themes and dynamics of colonialism in video games, focusing on Mass Effect: Andromeda, a space opera roleplaying game from 2017.

Our guests are Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, principal investigator and lead for CoFUTURES, an international research group on global futures at the University of Oslo, and coeditor of the book Indian Genre Fiction: Pasts and Future Histories, and Souvik Mukherjee, assistant professor in Cultural Studies at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and author of Videogames and Postcolonialism: Empire Plays Back and Videogames in the Indian Subcontinent: Development, Culture(s) and Representations.

Here’s a YouTube playlist with all 15 Skill Tree episodes thus far.

(7) RICK LAI (1955-2024). [Item by Anne Marble.] On April 30, the Lovecraft Ezine reported that pulp historian Rick Lai passed away. He won the 2022 Munsey Award for his “erudite and insightful scholarship” in pulp fiction. “Our dear friend Rick Lai passed away in his sleep last night.”

The family obituary is here:

…Retired software engineer and well-recognized published author, noted for his insightful scholarship, brilliant storytelling, and encyclopedic knowledge in pulp and adventure fiction. While he enjoyed film, reading, and writing, his greatest love was his family. He cherished any time spent with friends and family and was a compassionate and doting father and grandfather….

Rick Lai was interviewed for the PulpFest website in 2021: “The Shadow of Rick Lai”.

Rick Lai:  I became interested in Doc Savage due to the Bantam paperbacks with their stunning artwork by James Bama. I bought my first Doc Savage novel — The Thousand-Headed Man — in October 1967. I was twelve years old. By the time I was fifteen, I was reading paperback editions of the works of such pulp authors as Burroughs, Howard, Lovecraft, Mundy, E. E. “Doc” Smith, and Clark Ashton Smith. I didn’t get interested in The  Shadow until I read Philip Joê Farmer’s The Adventure of the Peerless Peer in 1977. The pulp crimefighter meets Sherlock Holmes in that book…


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 2, 1925 John Neville. (Died 2022.) Anybody here who hasn’t seen John Neville in Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen where he played the title role? Well the ConFiction nominees certainly saw it as it was indeed nominated for a Hugo that year. That was the year that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade won the Hugo.

John Neville as Baron Munchausen

And what a character he played. The film starts off with the Turkish army laying siege to a European city where a theater production about the extraordinary heroics of famed German aristocrat Baron Münchhausen is underway. A man steps forward to object that the performance is a lie, not what really happened, and that he is the real Baron. So the Baron as portrayed as Neville begins to tell a series of tales, each equally improbable. Really improbable. 

He was a marvelous storyteller telling his tale with a deft hand. But then I expected no less as he’d already been in A Study in Terror back in the Sixties where he made a most excellent Sherlock Holmes. For my viewpoint, this role as The Baron was definitely the best by far of his career.

Later genre roles were including the recurring role in the X-Files as The Well- Manicured Man. He was there for a total of eight episodes but I must confess that I’ve not seen all of the series, and yes it’s on my to be watched in its entirety list, so I’ve not seen this role. Or at least I don’t remember him. 

He had an appearance in the Trek universe on Next Generation as Isaac Newton in “Descent”.  Likewise if you saw The Fifth Element, and I’ve seen it at least four times, he’s General Staedert there. 

That’s I wanted to note although there’s a lot more that he did, so feel free to tell me what I should have noted. I know you want to. 


(10) CEASED BUT NOT DECEASED. “Creators Getting Cease And Desists Over Conan And Red Sonja” reports Bleeding Cool.

Earlier this year comic creator of Bad Machinery and Giant DaysJohn Allison, posted to his website about a new webcomic strip. “A new story starts next week, in three parts – CONAN: THE BLOOD EGG. Welcome to my new Hyborian Age, an epoch that lasts 21 weeks, or 22 if I have to have a week off between chapters at some point. While this move into the thrilling, tempestuous, and most importantly, public domain world of Conan may seem jarring, perhaps there is something about this cover image that will hint at a certain familiarity to the cast.”

The cast of Bad Machinery there. But a little while afterwards, it was not to be. The strips were removed and Allison posted, “Following a cease and desist notice filed on behalf of Conan Properties International (CPI) LLC I have taken down my Conan & The Blood Egg comic. While to the best of my understanding, Conan The Barbarian is in the public domain in the UK (where I live and work), I do not have the time or the energy to contest this. I made this story for my own and your amusement and it has – I think understandably – ceased to be amusing. I apologise for the break in updates, and that you won’t get to see the remaining half of the story. I was ten pages (of 66) off finishing drawing it. In retrospect, my mistake was starting to draw it in the first place.”

Conan is in the public domain in the UK. However, posting it online means that it is also considered to be published wherever it is read, including the USA, where it is not public domain until 2028….

(11) USE THE FROSTING, LUKE. [Item by Scott Edelman.] Astro Donuts & Fried Chicken is will be selling Star Wars-themed donuts on May 4th.

(12) GOT PETAFLOPS? “Here’s your chance to own a decommissioned US government supercomputer”Ars Technica tells you how.

On Tuesday, the US General Services Administration began an auction for the decommissioned Cheyenne supercomputer, located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The 5.34-petaflop supercomputer ranked as the 20th most powerful in the world at the time of its installation in 2016. Bidding started at $2,500, but it’s price is currently $27,643 with the reserve not yet met.

The supercomputer, which officially operated between January 12, 2017, and December 31, 2023, at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, was a powerful (and once considered energy-efficient) system that significantly advanced atmospheric and Earth system sciences research….

(13) SHADE ON ORION. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] An Inspector General’s report at NASA has cast doubt on the readiness of the Orion capsule to support crewed missions. “NASA moon capsule suffered extensive damage during 2022 test flight” in the Washington Post.

The heat shield of the Orion spacecraft intended one day to carry astronauts to the moon under NASA’s Artemis program suffered unexpected damage in more than 100 places as the spacecraft returned to Earth during an uncrewed test flight in 2022, according to a watchdog report released late Wednesday.

While the capsule withstood the fiery tumult of reentry, when temperatures reached 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it plunged through the atmosphere at nearly 25,000 mph, the damage the heat shield suffered was far greater than NASA engineers had expected and more severe than NASA had revealed previously. Photos of the heat shield in the report showed gouges that look like small potholes.

“Should the same issue occur on future Artemis missions, it could lead to the loss of the vehicle or crew,” the report, by NASA’s inspector general, concluded.

Earlier this year, NASA announced that the next flight in its Artemis moon program, which would send a crew of four around the moon in the Artemis II mission, would be delayed to no earlier than September 2025, largely because officials wanted to study the heat shield issue further and understand why it eroded as it did.

The IG report provides the most detailed description of the issue to date. It also highlighted other problems with the spacecraft that could create significant challenges for the space agency as it seeks to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time in more than 50 years.

Portions of the heat shield “wore away differently than NASA engineers predicted, cracking and breaking off the spacecraft in fragments that created a trail of debris rather than melting away as designed,” according to the report. That, in turn, “could have caused enough structural damage to cause one of Orion’s parachutes to fail.”…

(14) WALLY MCWALLFACE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] If you were an astronaut on the Moon, would you want to run around something called the “wall of death“ in order to keep fit for your return to Earth? I’m betting even seasoned professionals would prefer it have a different name. And I bet we all know what it would be called if NASA left it open to a public vote. “Astronauts could run round ‘Wall of Death’ to keep fit on moon, say scientists” in the Guardian.

As humans prepare to return to the moon after an absence of more than half a century, researchers have hit on a radical approach to keeping astronauts fit as they potter around the ball of rock.

To prevent lunar explorers from becoming weak and feeble in the low gravity environment, scientists suggest astronauts go for a run. But, this being space, it’s not just any kind of run – researchers have advised astronauts run several times a day around a “lunar Wall of Death”.

Using a rented Wall of Death – a giant wooden cylinder used by motorcycle stunt performers in their gravity-defying fairground act – a 36m-high telescopic crane, and some bungee cords, researchers showed it was possible for a human to run fast enough in lunar gravity not only to remain on the wall, but to generate sufficient lateral force to combat bone and muscle wasting….

(15) SCREENTIME. JustWatch ranks the most-viewed streaming movies and TV in April 2024.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Anne Marble, Daniel Dern, Joey Eschrich, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

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11 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/2/24 Gather Ye Pixels While Ye May, Scrolled Time Is Still A-Filing

  1. (1) Interesting. I’m most fond of the previous Silver Chair production (on TV) because it had Ton Baker as Puddleglum.

  2. (1) Narnia and Greta Gerwig seem like an odd combination. But why not? 🙂

    I’d love to see Greta Gerwig directing “The Light Between Worlds” by Laura E. Weymouth. It’s a YA book that Publishers Weekly called a “love letter to portal fantasies and Narnia.” In this book, two sisters were once pulled into another realm. After the adventures are over, one sister keeps trying to go back, and the other tries to escape her memories by being more worldly — until her sister goes missing. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds like a great (and heavy) book.

    (7) If you want to read some of Rick Lai’s pulp work, Rick Lai’s Secret Histories are available in both paper and ebook format from Amazon, B&N, and others. He also wrote some new pulp novels.

  3. @1, my favorite of the Narnia books was always The Horse And His Boy, which I must have re-read a dozen times as a kid

    But I’ve not read it in over forty years and I’m grimly certain that the Suck Fairy has trampled all over it. As memory serves, it had deeply problematic portrayals of alternate-universe Arab culture….

  4. (10) The idea that any country can exercise a worldwide copyright veto on the Internet is annoying. I’ve provided online accompaniment for several silent films, including Metropolis, which is out of copyright in the US but still in copyright in Germany. While I’m too small to bother with, the Murnau Stiftung could have made trouble for me if they wanted.

  5. (3) Judging by the song titles he’s used as story titles over the years, Alastair Reynolds and I have very similar tastes in music.

  6. Thanks for the title credit, Mike!

    1)I’m sure Gerwig will do a great job, but part of me rebelled with the thought that the recent Narnia movies were perfect and why couldn’t she do The Silver Chair to continue that series…then I realized that The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie was released almost 20 years ago and not therefore ‘recent’, and I crumbled into dust (I’ve noticed that’s happening more lately).

  7. If I’m not watching tv, I’m listening to music. I have a 6-cd changer, and change out one cd a day, in rotation, so a disc will stay in for six days before being replaced. Today’s mix is Dave Brubeck (2), Al Di Meola, The Doors (2), and Yes. Sometimes I play them straight through, most often I play them on shuffle. A favorite Doors track just came on, so:

    Pixels on the Storm

  8. Conan is in the public domain in the UK. However, posting it online means that it is also considered to be published wherever it is read, including the USA, where it is not public domain until 2028.

    This situation is not as broad as the above statement suggests.

    If someone in a country where Conan is public domain wanted to publish new adventures of the character, they could limit sales to customers in countries where it wasn’t currently under copyright.

    If someone wanted to publish new adventures online, they could limit the site to visitors in those countries.

    In both scenarios they would have to take care not to use current Conan trademarks in their titles or marketing, assuming those marks are active in their country.

    Ben Dunn’s Blue Sonja was a derivative of the chainmail-bikini version of Red Sonja, who was introduced in 1970s comics and won’t be public domain until 2066. That version was based on Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya, who is public domain but is a lot different than the 1970s version. For one thing she was from the 16th century, not a sword-and-sorcery age.

    Dunn’s only opportunity to publish his character in that form was to make it a parody.

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