Pixel Scroll 5/23/19 Cirque Du Scroll

(1) A NICE ROUND NUMBER. Air New Zealand just might take up George R.R. Martin’s suggestion to fly a bunch of his fans to next year’s Worldcon, CoNZealand.

(2) CONZEALAND. Here’s an interview with the 2020 Worldcon chair recorded not long ago, but before the events in the first item.

We are back with our video coverage from Wellygeddon 2019, this time we talked to Norman, one of the awesome people behind CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, which is happening on 29th July – 2nd August 2020, and they are looking for volunteers!

(3) NO CHESSIECON THIS YEAR. Chessiecon 2019 has been cancelled. The convention had been planned for November 29-December 1, 2019 in Baltimore. Refunds are promised. The committee says the con will return in 2020. Chair Joshua Kronengold explained:

None of us wanted this outcome. However, lack of responsiveness from the hotel, combined with information from current and former staff about its current state, has led us inexorably to a lack of confidence that the Red Lion is capable of hosting a convention to our standards. This hotel has been used by first Darkover since 1988 and Chessiecon from the start, but over the years we have received an increasing number of complaints about it, and this year the problems have become untenable. The committee discussed the options in considerable depth before reaching this decision, but see no way to continue for 2019 without sacrificing the quality of our convention. We decided it would be more productive to focus our energies on future years….

(4) THEY’LL BE BACK. Terminator: Dark Fate comes to theatres November 1, 2019.

Welcome to the day after Judgment Day. …Linda Hamilton (“Sarah Connor”) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (“T-800”) return in their iconic roles in Terminator: Dark Fate, directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and produced by visionary filmmaker James Cameron and David Ellison. …Also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Diego Boneta.

(5) NEXT KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Chuck Wendig and Keith R.A. DeCandido on Wednesday, June 19th.

Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, Zer0es/Invasive, and Wanderers coming in July 2019. He’s also written comics, games, film, and more. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, an alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and served as the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com, and books about writing such as Damn Fine Story. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.

Keith R.A. DeCandido

Keith R.A. DeCandido is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his fiction writing career. His media tie-in fiction — which earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 — covers 33 different universes, from Alien to Zorro. His original work includes stories set in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End and Super City, as well as the somewhat real locales of New York and Key West. His 2019 novels include Mermaid Precinct, the latest in his fantasy police procedural series; Alien: Isolation, based on the classic movie series; and A Furnace Sealed, launching a new urban fantasy series taking place in the Bronx, where Keith currently lives with assorted humans and felines.

The event takes place Wednesday, June 19, starting 7 p.m. at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY

(6) DOLLARS AND SENSE. Patch O’Furr winds up a three-part series in “How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 3)”.

“Resistance” can mean something unintentional, like friction. It doesn’t necessarily mean a deliberate anti-commercial mission. At the roots of fandom, noncommercialism probably meant doing DIY things the mainstream wasn’t doing. Now, when some furries make a living from business with other fans, you can call it organically indie. That’s not exactly a coordinated alternative, like socialistic co-ops….

How commercialism creeps in and complicates the fandom: There’s an exchange when fandom had roots in the mainstream, built an alternative place, and then influences the mainstream back. To win over fans as consumers, outsiders might tiptoe up to a line between respectable and weird, but not cross it. They may get resistance while the line protects independence. In fandom or out, engaging can be shaky for projects that need serious support (like a movie that needs a budget to get made right.) Worthy projects can fail because you can’t please all the people all of the time. Others can succeed by pleasing people while scamming or exploiting the base that made it possible.

If furry is commercializing, it can be seen in success of furry game devs, Youtubers, or Esports stars (like SonicFox). On the outside, furries show up in commercials/ads and music videos of non-indie artists. Psuedo-fursuits at Walmart or cheap knockoffs at DHGate may rise closer to fandom quality….

(7) AMONG THE STARS. The Harvard University Press does a “Q&A with Jo Dunkley, author of Our Universe: An Astronomer’s Guide”, which includes a shout-out to a Dublin 2019 guest of honor:

The book features many of the great names we would expect to see—the Galileos and Einsteins—but you also draw attention to unheralded and underappreciated astronomers, many of them women. Is it fair to say that some of the lost remarkable work done over the past 100 years has been done by women, either as individuals or in teams, like the Harvard Computers?

They have had a huge impact. The Harvard Computers in the early twentieth century, including Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and later Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, were responsible for making sense of the different types of stars, understanding how to measure vast distances in the universe, and figuring out what stars are actually made of. Other pioneering women include Vera Rubin, who solidified the evidence for invisible dark matter, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She discovered an entirely new type of spinning star that is so dense that a teaspoonful would weigh as much as a mountain.

(8) FANAC FOR THE MASSES. SF fan Louis Russell Chauvenet coined the word “fanzine” in 1940. It has since permeated popular culture – witness  the LA Zine Fest (happening May 26) which encourages people “make a fanzine about a band, artist, activist, organizer, writer…anyone who inspires you!”


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 23, 1921 James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in FlightA Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he pumped them out — nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
  • Born May 23, 1933 Joan Collins, 86. Edith Keeler in the “City of the Edge of Forever” episode — initial script by  Harlan Ellison with rewrites by Gene Roddenberry, Steven W. Carabatsos and D. C. Fontana. I see she’s done a fair amount of other genre work including being Baroness Bibi De Chasseur / Rosy Shlagenheimer in the “The Galatea Affair” of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Siren Lorelei in the “Ring Around the Riddler” and “The Wail of the Siren” episodes of Batman
  • Born May 23, 1933 Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 23, 1935 Susan Cooper, 84. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and just plain fun. I’d also recommend Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent.  
  • Born May 23, 1979 Brian James Freeman, 40. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November Storms, This Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
  • Born May 23, 1986 Ryan Coogler, 33. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed, as he will Black Panther 2. Producer, Space Jam 2 (pre-production) 


  • Brevity comes up with another delightfully dreadful Game of Thrones-themed pun.

(11) THE GODFATHER MEETS THE FAIRY GODMOTHER. The way Steph Post sees it, “Fairy Tales Are Really Just Hard-Boiled Crime Stories” – at CrimeReads.

…Modern crime fiction has nothing on the ingenuity, brutality and sheer bizarreness of the offenses committed in classic fairy tales. Moreover, fairy tales are ruthless. Our contemporary crime novels have the monopoly on moral ambiguity, true, but fairy tales take no prisoners and often offer no redemption. Mercy is not a hallmark of the genre and even the kindest, most benevolent maid-turned-princess isn’t afraid to take out her wicked stepmother.

(12) SYMBOLS OF THE RENAISSANCE. Mlex writes, “I recently had an opportunity to interview Prof. Arielle Saiber, author of Measured Words.” Hear what they had to say in this podcast — “On Measured Words: Computation and Writing in Renaissance Italy”.

A conversation with Arielle Saiber, Professor of Romance Languages at Bowdoin College. Covering topics that range from hallucinatory landscapes to Dante’s primum mobile, our conversation touched on the quest for harmony between the computational aspects of math and the physical aspects of writing, printing, and typography. Based on the lives of four scholars who lived during the Italian Renaissance, we explore their use of symbols and codes, their modes of teaching and expression, and the interdisciplinary nature of their work.

(13) THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING. At Death Is Bad, Eneasz Brodski explains his reasons for thinking the “Final Episode of Game of Thrones was kinda good, in a way”.

…But when you take it all together–the amazing series, the precipitous decline, and the absolute travesty of Season Eight… it final episode comes through as a good mood piece. This episode was the final death rattle of a show we once loved. It was a funeral for vision and beauty. Everything was dark and dreary and awful, and even the sunny day at the end was basically a spiteful sun-god laughing at all men’s follies; rather than cheerful.

(14) CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE (AND EVERY OTHER) MAN. This robotic delivery concept is making news today:

Ford is teaming up with Agility Robotics to explore how the company’s new robot, Digit, can help get packages to your door efficiently with the help of self-driving vehicles. Not only does Digit work collaboratively with self-driving vehicles, but it can also walk up stairs and past unexpected obstacles to get packages straight to your doorstep.

(15) EXECUTIVE CREDENTIALS. BBC recalls “The cat who saved a Japanese rail line”.

Not only did Tama’s sweet nature and photogenic features make her popular with commuters on the Kishigawa railway, but the ‘cat master’ became so famous she was knighted.

On a bright May morning at Japan’s Idakiso train station, a small cat basked in the sun as her photo was taken by a group of tourists before getting a tummy tickle from a toddler. While the white, tan and black kitten purred and meowed in the arms of a visitor, one of the station workers looked on with a grin, interjecting only to gently reposition the cat’s brimmed conductor hat whenever it threatened to slip over her eyes.

“Having her around the station makes everyone happy,” he said, as the cat playfully swiped at a tourist’s iPhone. “I sometimes forget that she is my boss.”

Meet Yontama, the latest in a line of feline stationmasters that has helped save the Kishigawa railway line in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture, a largely mountainous and rural part of the country famous for temple-studded hillsides and sacred pilgrimage trails.

This story began in the late 1990s with a young calico cat called Tama. The kitten lived near Kishi Station – the final of 14 stops on a 14.3km line that connects small communities to Wakayama City, the region’s hub ­– and would frequently hang out by the railway, soaking up affection from commuters.

(16) A MOST ROBORATIVE BEVERAGE. Archeologists anticipated two possible outcomes when they did this — “Israeli researchers brew ‘ancient beer’ with antique yeast”.

Israeli researchers have unveiled a “breakthrough” beer made from ancient yeast up to 5,000 years old.

Researchers from the Antiquities Authority and three Israeli universities extracted six strains of the yeast from old pottery discovered in the Holy Land.

It is believed to be similar to beverages enjoyed by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

The team said it hoped to make the drink available in shops one day.

“I remember that when we first brought out the beer we sat around the table and drank… and I said either we’ll be good or we’ll all be dead in five minutes,” said Aren Maeir, an archaeologist with Bar-Ilan University. “We lived to tell the story”.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Anvil on Vimeo, Geriko tells about a young woman downloading her brain in preparations for the afterlife.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Andrew, Keith Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

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42 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/23/19 Cirque Du Scroll

  1. (9) Susan Cooper’s works were very important to me when I was a lad (I talked the librarian into ordering Silver on the Tree before it was published and waited out the several months before it came in very impatiently).

  2. 9). For Blish novels, I’d suggest “A Case Of Conscience” (Hugo Award, 1959) or, perhaps, “Black Easter.”

  3. Lo these many eons ago a friend told me that in one of the stories in one of Blish’s Trek books there was a reference to Cities in Flight.

    As for what to read, I think Case of Conscience is an important book. As for Black Easter it’s part of a sequence called After Such Knowledge. In 1991 it and the three other novels in the sequence were published as a single volume in the UK. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?182949

  4. 9) I think the only James Blish I’ve read is his Star Trek adaptations (n.b. — I think most of the ISFDB listings are for short story-length retellings of individual episodes — there were about a dozen Star Trek Log volumes that each had novelizations of several episodes). When I was young, none of the local TV stations had syndicated Star Trek reruns, so I’d only see the occasional random episode when I was on vacation or something; otherwise, I had to content myself with obsessively reading the Blish Star Trek Logs.

    I still love those covers.

  5. (9) The Trek adaptations weren’t really novels. They were short-story length, something like six or eight per paperback. Except Spock Must Die, of course. They permitted us Trekkers to enjoy the series between weekly showtimes in those dark days before Fotonovels.

    (Ninja’d while watching TV. That’ll teach me to read TV instead.)

  6. My favorite Blishes are the shorter works such as “F Y I,” “A Work of Art,” “Common Time,” “Darkside Crossing,” and (despite its 1969 attitudes toward female characters) the both comical and poignant novella “We All Die Naked.”

    I read his first book of short-story episode adaptations before ever seeing an episode, and I still have the not-bad Bantam novel Spock Must Die! (1970) – he couldn’t possibly have chosen that title, could he? For several years, until the cartoon series began in September 1973, Spock Must Die! was the only widely available new Star Trek content.

    (The “Star Trek Log” books were adaptations of the cartoons, stretched out to great length by Alan Dean Foster – a separate series from Blish’s.)

  7. (9) As Kip said, the Trek stuff Blish did was mostly in the form of anthologies, each story being a fairly literal adaptation of a TOS episode (although some diverged from the TV version a bit, often because they were based on early drafts). I probably experienced about 75% of the series first in that format (just as, before video rental, I experienced most classic movies first in Mad Magazine parody form).

    Anyway, a while ago in a thrift store I found a copy of STAR TREK 5, a special copy in that someone had annotated the table of contents in pencil, as you can see here. It’s a bit hard to read but here are their summaries:

    Whom Gods Destroy: “crazy aslyum” [sic]
    The Tholian Web: “Kirk disappear + assumed dead he ghost”
    Let That Be Your Last Battlefield: “black/white”
    This Side of Paradise: “plants that ‘highs’ people”
    Turnabout Intruder: “Janice Lester/Kirk” [I love how this assumes that “Janice Lester” could be a meaningful description to anyone who wasn’t already watching or reading that episode]
    Requiem for Methuselah: “waltz + robot girl as classic beauty + man who live 6 thousand years”

    And of course…

    The Way to Eden: “hippies”

  8. @10: Less-known but very worthwhile Cooper: King of Shadows, built around the premiere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  9. I’d endorse gottacook’s short story recommendations, plus another late novella, “A Style in Treason”, and stories like “Beep” and “Tomb Tapper”. The novel VOR is also interesting, and I enjoy the rather slight YA novel Welcome to Mars.

    As for the Pantropy series, it really was not originally published under the name “Arthur Merlyn” (a name that sure screams pseudonym, though!) The very first story, “Sunken Universe”, was indeed published as by “Arthur Merlyn” in Super Science Stories for May 1952 (reprinted in the November 1950 Super Science Stories.) But all the subsequent stories were under his own name. “Sunken Universe” was eventually combined with the more famous “Surface Tension” in a significantly rewritten form, in the book appearance. The book is The Seedling Stars, and I think it’s excellent. I particularly like the closing short story, “Watershed”. My review is here: The Seedling Stars.

  10. (3) As a long-time Chessiecon (and before that, Darkovercon) member, I have to say that, while disappointing, the announcement is not entirely surprising. The hotel (even across multiple changes of ownership) has been physically declining for years. I believe it was last year that the convention began with no heat in the function/dealer rooms.

    I first started attending the convention back in the early 1980s when it was being held in Delaware. It may seem an odd pick for a California resident, but I’d become close friends with the con chair, and there was the added attraction that–with the original focus being the Darkover series–there were a number of recurring guests from the Berkeley SFF community whom I already knew, which made this shy introvert a little more at home. (It also helped that for a long period it had a strong SCA heraldic presence, which gave me other connections.) Another attraction was that the convention had a quiet but consistent policy that the GoHs were always women writing SFF that had strong female representation.

    While I was in grad school in the 1990s, I skipped a number of years because the convention fell right before exams (and because I had an unfortunate habit of coming back with con crud, right at the worst time of the semester). But in my post-doc period, I think the only year I skipped was the one when my mother died right before the con.

    Darkovercon/Chessiecon has always been very supportive of me as an author (including me in programming at a rate far above what my actual authorial status would warrant) and I was really looking forward to celebrating the release of Floodtide there this year. I rather doubt that the timing had any influence on my publisher in selecting a release date. Mother of Souls was also a November book with a Chessiecon release celebration. But it was a convenient coincidence. I have no idea what I’ll do for public book release activities since I no longer have any local bookstores that carry my books. (For Daughter of Mystery, I held a debut party at Other Change of Hobbit. For The Mystic Marriage, I did a reading at Laurel Bookstore. Both of them are now gone.)

    I will be quite happy to tell Chessiecon to roll over my 2019 membership toward whenever the next site is secured.

  11. We read The Dark is Rising in school when I was 10 years old, and I got my dad to take me to a local toy store / kid’s book store and bought the rest of them. Silver on the Tree was in hardcover. I was too young to know about publishing schedules.

    15) Executive Credentials: It’s probably worth noting that “Tama” means “Jewel”. I’ve just yesterday finished watching the anime series Inu-Yasha, in which the “Jewel of Four Souls” (shikon no tama) plays a major role.

  12. (4) THEY’LL BE BACK.

    Ooo, Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis. Shut up and take my money. 😀

  13. 9) Yay, SUSAN COOPER! I never read anything else by her apart from the Darkness Rising series, but still. SUSAN COOPER.

    I get happy just by hearing the name or one of the titles if her books. It is a mix if nostalgia and worthy nostalgia, because I re-read the books and still loved them. They have a special feeling of seriousness behind them and that kind of bittersweet ending that remains inside of you long after you have finished the books. Yes, a bit of a YA power fantasy, but not only fun and games, but with real threats and real issues about how far you will have to go.

    Yesyesyes. I think time for yet another re-read. *fansquee*

  14. Does anything by Judith Kerr, who dies yesterday at the age of 95, count as genre? The Tiger Who Came to Tea is surely an early work of Magical Realism. Wikipedia says that she worked on special effects for Quatermass, written by her late husband Nigel Kneale, so that counts surely.
    Mog the Forgetful Cat is a role model for all.

  15. Still fond of Blish’s SURFACE TENSION.

    The biographical material on Nigel Kneale said he and his wife, Judith Kerr, worked the hand puppets on the first Quatermass serial for BBC, but it was not filmed. The Washington Post carried an extensive obituary of her, barely mentioning her husband.

  16. Blish canon and Star Trek: I think he mentions the Vegan Tyranny (from “Cities in Flight”) in the adaptation of the time travel episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday”. I still have all those Trek adaptations, err, somewhere… perhaps I should take a closer look.

  17. @Steve Wright – you are correct. When the Enterprise is thrown back in time, they say that’s the one galactic power they have to look out for.

    @Robert Whitaker Sirignano – “Surface tension” is in my top five sf short stories. I love it so much.

  18. Also worthy of mention are Blish’s critical writings under the pseudonym of William Atheling, Jr., and collected as The Issue at Hand and More Issues at Hand.

  19. Heather Rose: I was at the earliest Darkover conventions when they were held in Wilmington Delaware. I think it was under the direction of Judy Gerjoy. I wasn’t a Darkover fan, but had met Marion Zimmer Bradley at a Lunacon in 1973. She asked me “how mch can I get for this book?” a tome she’s picked up for a dime in Berkeley, and she showed me a copy pf Clark Ashton Smith’s OUT OF SPACE AND TIME. She wanted to buy lunch. I suggested if she was sharp and careful, she could get a few dinners out of it.

    I rambled.

  20. 1) That’s nice of them. Maybe they can pick by lottery from applicants to the Down Under Fan Fund?

  21. The Brain in a Box is quite good. I own one. It is out of print, though and often lists for 3 digit figures when it can be found. There is one currently for sale on ebay for $39.99. Cheaper than new.

  22. bookworm1398: Maybe they can pick by lottery from applicants to the Down Under Fan Fund?

    Yeah, a lot of the responses on Twitter are about how they should send this or that Mega-Game-Of-Thrones-Fan. I really hope they don’t select them that way. Many of them won’t be people who are actually interested in Worldcon or this segment of fandom, which generally tries to treat authors with some respect and give them some personal space. They’ll just want to go gaga over GRRM to the point of cringeworthy embarrassment, and not give a shit about any of the rest of it.

    I hope that if AirNZ does follow through on it, it will be by working with GRRM and/or CoNZealand to select people who would actually want to go to a Worldcon regardless of whether GRRM is there, but can’t afford it. Perhaps work with Con-or-Bust, or take applications from people from countries that normally don’t get Worldcons close by.

  23. @JJ @bookworm1398

    And here i was wondering how many people I will actually get as serious applicants to DUFF–although I suspect it will be more than my year, where I was the only nominee.
    (and folks, that is coming this fall, the Race will begin).

  24. May 23rd is Richard Moog’s birthday. Think of all the movies and TV shows that used his synthesizers to sound futurey. I’ve always thought his name might have helped with that. (Though I’ve heard he pronounced it with a long o. Ruins the title of “The Plastic Cow Says Moooooog.”)

    While my credentials gently sleeps

  25. Also worthy of mention are Blish’s critical writings under the pseudonym of William Atheling, Jr., and collected as The Issue at Hand and More Issues at Hand.

    I’m getting rid of books – does anyone want my copies of these two?

  26. Just finished A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell; near-future dystopian American Holmes/Watson pastiche where our heroes are African-American women. If I’d read it while Hugo nominations were still open, this would have been on my ballot.

  27. Cassy B – She’s coming out with a sequel this year. If you like it as much you can nom for next year.

  28. Neglected to mention one of Cooper’s less well-known facets: writer for a couple of decades for the Christmas Revels, where she did everything from an acting version of Anya-who-was-sent-for-strawberries-in-midwinter (she meets the twelve months all together; January passes the staff down the line to the one who can bring strawberry season) to the poem “The Shortest Day“.

  29. I have fond memories of reading James Blish’s Star Trek novelizations as a kid. More recently, I enjoyed “Surface Tension”, which I came across in Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s The Big Book of Science Fiction.

  30. @Ultragotha, I preordered the sequel immediately on completion of A Study In Honor.

  31. @Paul, you got an ARC? Because Kobo says that The Hound of Justice will be available on July 30, 2019. Or is there another volume in the series?

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