Pixel Scroll 5/31/24 Scroll Dol! Pixel Dol! File A Dong Dillo!

(1) ARISTOTLE! In 2017 The New Yorker considered “Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them” Aristotle isn’t the only one who had an opinion.

Consider the yeti. Reputed to live in the mountainous regions of Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal. Also known by the alias Abominable Snowman. Overgrown, in both senses: eight or ten or twelve feet tall; shaggy. Shy. Possibly a remnant of an otherwise extinct species. More possibly an elaborate hoax, or an inextinguishable hope. Closely related to the Australian Yowie, the Canadian Nuk-luk, the Missouri Momo, the Louisiana Swamp Ape, and Bigfoot. O.K., then: on a scale not of zero to ten but of, say, leprechaun to zombie, how likely do you think it is that the yeti exists?

One of the strangest things about the human mind is that it can reason about unreasonable things. It is possible, for example, to calculate the speed at which the sleigh would have to travel for Santa Claus to deliver all those gifts on Christmas Eve. It is possible to assess the ratio of a dragon’s wings to its body to determine if it could fly. And it is possible to decide that a yeti is more likely to exist than a leprechaun, even if you think that the likelihood of either of them existing is precisely zero….

(2) IGLESIAS REVIEW COLUMN. Gabino Iglesias reviews four new horror books in the New York Times, Stephen King’s You Like It Darker: Stories (Scribner), Layla Martínez’s debut novel, Woodworm (Two Lines Press), Christina Henry’s The House That Horror Built (Berkley) and Pemi Aguda’s Ghostroots: Stories (Norton).

(3) SOME PIG! [Item by Dann.] Author Paul Hale has released the first episode of his next series for the Cinema Story Origins podcast.  This time around, he will be comparing and contrasting the book and movie versions of “Charlotte’s Web”. “Charlotte’s Web Part 1”.

(4) SPEED UPDATING. The latest in Joe Vasicek’s continuing series at One Thousand and One Parsecs is “How I would vote now: 2018 Hugo Award (Best Novel)” – a decision made easier by the fact that he didn’t read three of the books at all, and only read “the first couple pages” of a fourth.

How I Would Have Voted

  1. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
  2. No Award

Everything else from this year is pretty much terrible, in my opinion. I skipped The Stone Sky, Provenance, and Raven Strategem because those were all series that I had already DNFed….

A fourth finalist that he actually started was Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2140.

(5) CCB CASE ANALYZED. At Writer Beware a guest post looks over a case involving “Disney, Books, and the Copyright Claims Board”.

Writer Beware has been covering the Copyright Claims Board since it started accepting cases in 2022. A small claims court for copyright matters, the CCB offers an alternative to the expensive court battles that previously were the only path to resolving copyright disputes, providing creators with a streamlined, inexpensive method of adjudicating cases of infringement, misuse, and other alleged malfeasance…..

Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today says:

…Overall, the CCB did a good job. Though it cited the most recent Supreme Court ruling, which was handed down just four days before this final determination was published, the CCB didn’t get bogged down needlessly in the injury rule/discovery rule debate. Instead, it turned to the Raging Bull case, allowing the case to move forward but only looking back three years.

That filing delay deeply hurt the claimant. Not only did the vast majority of the alleged infringement take place during the excluded time, but much of the relevant evidence was also from then. Key pieces of that evidence were simply gone.

As the CCB pointed out, the burden of proof is on the claimant. While Disney may have some responsibility, there wasn’t enough (or any) evidence to prove it. If the case had been filed before 2018, things might have progressed very differently.

It is a frustrating case. As small as the infringement may have been, it feels like someone should be held responsible for it. However, the evidence simply didn’t support holding Disney accountable. If this case had been filed earlier or targeted Hoopla directly, there might have been a different outcome.

Ultimately, I think the CCB made the right call, even if my sympathies lie with the author and her publisher….

(6) FANS B.C. Atlas Obscura finds that “Before ‘Fans,’ There Were ‘Kranks,’ ‘Longhairs,’ and ‘Lions’” – a study that encompasses sports, theater, and finally, science fiction.

THE EXACT ORIGINS OF THE modern term “fan” are disputed, but most look to the 1880s, where it was first used by American newspapers to describe particularly invested baseball enthusiasts. But “fan” was just one of the words the press, leagues, clubs, and baseball enthusiasts themselves were using at the time. They were called “enthusiasts,” but also a whole host of other names, from “rooters” to “bugs” to “fiends” to “cranks,” sometimes spelled—as in the German word for “sick”—as “krank.”…

… This, of course, stretches across the history of fandom: Differences like age, geography, approach, and values can lead to different groups forming around the same thing. Trekkies versus Trekkers, for instance, or Holmesians versus Sherlockians. “How you name yourself says a lot about what you think of yourself and your very intense passions,” Cavicchi says. “But at the same time, another name or variation on the name, or another use of your name, maybe in a derogatory sense, may say something about what the culture thinks about you.” Modern fandom terms like “stan” and “fangirl” can connote very different things depending on the speaker—overly emotional and uncontrollable to a critic, or a term of in-group recognition to fellow fans….

(7) TAKING POPCORN OUT OF THE MOUTH OF A SUPERHERO. Does this popcorn bucket need a trigger warning? Consider it given. “Ryan Reynolds unveils hilarious ‘Deadpool and Wolverine’ popcorn bucket” at Entertainment Weekly.

Dune began this war, but Ryan Reynolds isn’t backing down from it. Following the popularity of the Dune: Part Two custom popcorn bucket (which was shaped like the gaping jaws of a sandworm), Reynolds unveiled Deadpool and Wolverine‘s own bucket on Thursday….

…Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige teased that the bucket would be “intentionally crude and lewd” at CinemaCon, and now we get to see it for ourselves.

Similar to the Dune bucket, the top of the Deadpool and Wolverine popcorn container is shaped like a mouth — Wolverine’s mouth, that is. If you’ve ever wanted to shove your hand down the clawed mutant’s throat…well, now’s your chance….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

May 31, 1993 Total Recall, the one and only true Total Recall, premiered on this date in Los Angeles thirty-four years ago. So let’s talk about it.

As you most likely know, it’s based off Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” which not surprisingly can be found in the We Can Remember It for You Wholesale collection. 

Ronald Shusett who wrote the original script for Alien, not the one that was filmed, bought the film rights to it fourteen years prior to it making it to the screen. It went through at least four studios over sixteen years, some forty script drafts, seven different directors and a potential cast of what seemed like hundreds. In other words, what is called development hell. 

It didn’t get better as it was being film when the De Laurentiis company went bankrupt. Oh well. 

Schwarzenegger wanted to play that role but had been dismissed as inappropriate for the lead role by, well, everyone including the De Laurentiis company, but he convinced the Carolco Pictures to purchase the rights and develop the film with him as the star.

In 2024 terms, the film cost two hundred million dollars.  Quite a bit given that Foundation is only costing Apple five point five million an episode for the current season.  Cost overruns were so common that the bankers gave up trying to figure out what it’d cost to make it. No, none jumped out windows but I bet they thought about it… 

Shusett was the co-director here along with Frederick Feitshans. Why him? Because he’d directed Schwarzenegger on Conan the Barbarian and he wanted him here. If you’re getting the idea, that is a vanity project of Schwarzenegger, you’re not far off as the shooting script was also approved by him. 

Setting him aside, it had a lead cast that you’ll (mostly) recognize— Rachel Ticotin,  Sharon Stone,  Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox. Each went to be a major star save Rachel Ticotin. The other three you’ll know as being in any number of genre films though Stone is best known for Basic Instinct which cannot ever be stretched under any circumstances to be genre adjacent and shouldn’t even be really considered for its police procedural angle really. Seriously no one went to see it for that. 

It’s an entertaining film that I like. I’m amazed Gary Goldman, a film producer, director, animator, writer and even voice actor, was able to make sense of the nearly forty scripts that everyone had a hand in – even Dan O’Bannon at one point. But he did. He even went back to the original script based off the Dick work. Verhoeven read each one of these, bless him, and highlighted those he wanted Goldman to reference.

Yes, the specials effects by Industrial Light & Magic were extraordinary, as is the actual physical work that had to done like The Earth train station which was filmed in the Mexico City Metro and all of the exterior Mars scenes took place at the Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada. 

The critics were mostly either unfavorable or meh on it with a few impressed. Even when they praised the production values and Schwarzenegger’s performance, they really, really criticized the violent content. 

It turned to be one of the year’s most successful films. On its release, the film earned approximately $261.4 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year.

I rewatched it a few years back. Does it hold up well? The Suck Fairy says yes and I agree. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit reports there are some things everyone must watch.
  • Non Sequitur demonstrates a problem that might be unfamiliar today.

(10) TEDDY HARVIA CARTOON.

(11) DON’T LOSE YOUR WAY WHEN YOU CHOOSE YOUR WAY. “These Maps Reveal the Hidden Structures of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books”Atlas Obscura unveils an example.

Reading a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book can feel like being lost in a maze and running through twists and turns only to find dead ends, switchbacks, and disappointment. In the books—for those not familiar with them—you read until you come to a decision point, which prompts you to flip to another page, backward or forward. The early books in the series, which began in 1979, have dozens of endings, reached through branching storylines so complex that that trying to keep track of your path can seem hopeless—no matter how many fingers you stick into the book in order to find your way back to the key, fateful choice. You might end up back at an early fork again, surprised at how far you traveled only to reemerge at a simple decision, weighted with consequences that you couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.

The last installment of the original “Choose Your Own Adventure” series came out in 1998, but since 2004, Chooseco, founded by one of the series’ original authors, R.A. Montgomery, has been republishing classic volumes, as well as new riffs on the form of interactive fiction that seemed ubiquitous in the 1980s and ’90s. The new editions also carry an additional feature—maps of the hidden structure of each book….

…The meat of “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories are gender-neutral romps in worlds where there are no obviously right or wrong moral choices. There’s danger around bend, usually in the form of something like space monkeys, malicious ghosts, or conniving grown-ups. Even with a map, there’s no way to find out what really comes next without making a choice and flipping to another page….

(12) BROOKER Q&A. “Black Mirror Season 7: Charlie Brooker Talks AI, USS Callister Sequel” in The Hollywood Reporter.

…In the conversation below, Brooker reveals what inspired him to create the episode (while musing about what a sequel could look like) and weighs in on the AI conversation now, while also discussing the upcoming seventh season of Black Mirror and the show’s first-ever (and highly anticipated) sequel to the Emmy-winning season four “USS Callister” episode.

***

The timing of the release of “Joan Is Awful” may be the most Charlie Brooker thing that has ever happened. What was it like to watch that play out as the AI conversation began to explode?

It was really odd. So, I must have written it in June-July in 2022. When we shot it, it was September-October. It was just before ChatGPT launched. I think it was about a week later that ChatGPT came out and suddenly, everyone was talking about generative AI and how all creative jobs were going to be replaced, pushed out or automated. There’s also a lot of raw animal panic that takes over as a writer as soon as you see some of that generative AI output. I’d seen some of [AI chatbot app] Midjourney, the image generating stuff.

For a while I had wanted to do a story about a news network that bills itself as satire that isn’t showing news but is showing satirical content, which is photorealistic imagery of political figures either being humiliated or looking heroic. And the idea that was a strange way of doing propaganda that they could claim was satirical, but that was ridiculous and absurd. It was a funny and disturbing idea, but I couldn’t work out quite what the story was.

Then I was watching The Dropout, the Hulu drama about the Theranos scandal starring Amanda Seyfried, with my wife and we were discussing how weird it would be — because it was dramatizing very recent events — if you were Elizabeth Holmes watching this and it’s getting so up to date that in a minute, she’s going to put the TV on and see The Dropout. And so those two ideas kind of glommed together: of AI-generated imagery starring real figures — and a dramatization of somebody’s life that’s depicting them in a terrible light. (Laughs.)

As “Joan” came out, I knew it was timely. That season was originally going to be a season of all horror stories called Red Mirror. I was part way into the season and then I had this idea and I thought: It’s not horror. I mean, it’s existentially terrifying, but it’s not horror. It’s definitely a very Black Mirror idea. So I thought, “Fuck it, OK” [about the Red Mirror idea]. I felt like it had to be done now. I definitely couldn’t wait for another season to do it. So when the ChatGPT conversation caught fire and when it became a huge issue because of the strikes, I was slightly wiping my brow with relief that we got the episode out before. The timing of it was surreal. Hopefully, it added to the conversation….

(13) ANOTHER ENTRY RAMP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] …On the infinite helical slide into the bottomless pit. “Hollywood Nightmare? New Streaming Service Lets Viewers Create Their Own Shows Using AI” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Fable, the studio behind the viral AI-generated ‘South Park’ clips, has announced a streaming platform that allows users to create their own content.

Generative artificial intelligence is coming for streaming, with the release of a platform dedicated to AI content that allows users to create episodes with a prompt of just a couple of words.

Fable Studio, an Emmy-winning San Francisco startup, on Thursday announced Showrunner, a platform the company says can write, voice and animate episodes of shows it carries. Under the initial release, users will be able to watch AI-generated series and create their own content — complete with the ability to control dialogue, characters and shot types, among other controls.

The endeavor marks the tech industry’s further encroachment onto Hollywood as it eyes the exploitation of AI tools embroiled in controversy over their potential to streamline production and the possibility they were created using copyrighted materials from creators they could eventually displace. Amid the industry’s historic dual strikes last year, in which the use of AI emerged as a contentious negotiating point, Fable released an AI-generated episode of South Park to showcase its tech. While some mocked it for its comedic misses, others pointed to the video as a leap forward in the tech and proof of concept that AI tools will soon allow viewers to more actively engage with content, possibly by creating their own. It also demonstrated the threat the tech poses to creators whose labor could be undermined if it’s adopted into the production pipeline.

“The vision is to be the Netflix of AI,” says chief executive Edward Saatchi. “Maybe you finish all of the episodes of a show you’re watching and you click the button to make another episode. You can say what it should be about or you can let the AI make it itself.”…

(14) CAN THE NEXT MUMMY BE A WHALE OF A TALE? World of Reel reports “’The Mummy’ Sequel in the Works, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz to Return”.

According to Daniel Richtman, “The Mummy” franchise has a new sequel in development over at Universal — Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz set to return in their respective roles. If you remember, the franchise abruptly ended after 2008’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” — budgeted at $175 million— barely made a profit.

The 1999 original was written and directed by Stephen Sommers and was a remake of the 1932 film of the same name. Despite mixed reviews, it was a commercial success and grossed over $416 million worldwide. The film’s success spawned two direct sequels, 2001’s “The Mummy Returns,” and 2008’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”

“The Mummy” was an incredible success for Universal on home video, selling 7 million units on VHS and 1 million on DVD, making it that year’s best-selling live-action VHS and second best-selling DVD. This all resulted in Universal grossing over $1 billion in home video sales. It seemed as though everyone you knew owned a copy of this movie.

Fraser is hot right now and is in the comeback phase of his career. In 2023, he won an Oscar for “The Whale” and has been piling up projects ever since….

(15) VOYAGER NOW. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal there is a look at the Voyager probe, its recovery from computer failure and the mystery region of space it is now entering.  It appears that pulses of Solar plasma are hitting the interstellar medium boundary causing reverberations or it could be plasma clouds from another star…. “Voyager 1 science resumes after interstellar crisis”.

Before a computer crash, venerable NASA probe entered mysterious new region of space Voyager 1, the first earthly object to exit the Solar System may be traversing a plasma cloud from another star.

[Thanks to Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Chris Rose, Andrew (not Werdna), Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Steven French for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]


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20 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/31/24 Scroll Dol! Pixel Dol! File A Dong Dillo!

  1. (13) Urgh. There’s something unpleasant about the idea of being able to have exactly and only the creations that you have asked for. As the critic in Ratatouille said “Surprise me!”

  2. (1) How silly. For me, the question is will we have time after Glasgow to go north, and I wonder what Nessie would like to be fed…
    (6) I’ve added my own phrase: “franchise fans”. They overran the faceplant group concellation. I got fed up when I tried to open the gate, as it were, to books, and got jumped on by about seven people who called me the gatekeeper, and didn’t want more than the franchise they followed. The one that really got me was someone asking if “everyone would hate them if they jumped fandoms”. (shakes head.)
    (13) I see, so you can create your own fanfic, without ever actually, you know, thinking.
    (14) He’s, um, coming back to the franchise 25 years later… Only saw the first, enjoyed it. But…
    (15) Wonderful news. And, well, it is science.org, so they correctly use “interstellar”, not “InterGalaxative!”

  3. 4) considering his obvious Maga delusions, who does anyone care how he would have misused his Hugo votes for 2018?

  4. Number four. So “he didn’t read three of the books at all, and only read “the first couple pages” of a fourth”?

    WTF? I dion’t read novels anymore as you know that I can’t follow written narrative for that long but I do listen to anything I plan on considering for the Hugo novel.

    What an idiot.

  5. 4) Another mook I’ve never heard of wants to make sure I know how much he hates John Scalzi.

  6. (4) Leckie doesn’t create fantasy genders. Jemisin isn’t anti-life, though she may well be anti the forced-birth movement, which I gather this jerk approves of. The Collapsing Empire doesn’t even vaguely resemble Star Trek, beyond them both being sf set in space with a form of FTL travel. This remains true whether you love, hate, or just pleasantly enjoy either or both of them.

    And why does he think anyone on the planet beyond his nearest and dearest, cares how he would have voted in the 2018 Hugos, or what he thinks of John Scalzi?

  7. Lis Carey says And why does he think anyone on the planet beyond his nearest and dearest, cares how he would have voted in the 2018 Hugos, or what he thinks of John Scalzi?

    Certain individuals, dare I call them puppies, or at least puppy adjacent if they’re not actually certified puppies with their papers registered with the proper authorities, are obsessed with Scalzi in a most unhealthy manner. I think we were talking about this awhile back as Cider slept by your side on her bed.

    They resent his success, they resent his popularity, they resent his politics, they resent, well, everything about him. He’s the writer that they just don’t think should have been as successful as he is as damn it he’s not one of them. It’s Neil Gaiman all over again.

  8. (4) He seems to have a very limited idea of SF. And is missing some very good stuff. His problem, not mine.

  9. @Cat Eldridge–All of that, and they think Scalzi should be one of them, because milsf, dammit! White. Fifties. Lives in Ohio, in a rural area.

    How dare he not be one of them!

  10. 8) Avoid the remake; it’s godawful.

    Thanks for the title credit!

  11. (4) If I recall correctly, the fantasy genders that Leckie invented in the Ancillary series were “men” and “women” – I wonder what gender JoeJoe is, if men and women are fantasy in his world. But I don’t wonder much…

  12. This seems an interesting story, mentioned by Derf Backderf on Bluesky…apparently a graphic novelist, Miriam Libicki, was banned from VANCAF, a comic arts festival, because she had emigrated to Israel at 17, did her obligatory military service, and wrote a graphic novel about the experience in 2008, after she left Israel to live in Canada. Apparently she agreed not to display or sell her early army- related work at the con, but was banned anyway as a ‘safety’ concern, though she is pro-Palestinian state, anti-settler expansion and anti-Netanyahu.

    https://thecjn.ca/news/miriam-libicki/

  13. (4) Reminds me of a cereal ad from infinity years ago.

    Man, dubiously: What’s this?
    Woman: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and canned peaches.
    Man: I don’t like it.
    Woman: You’ve never. Even. Tried it.
    Man: I haven’t tried it because I don’t like it.

    People who enjoy SF can get their corn flakes with any garnish they like. Or eat granola with yogurt and blueberries, or a full cooked brekkie with hash browns on the side. Let him make his own damn breakfast.

  14. @jayn

    This seems an interesting story, mentioned by Derf Backderf on Bluesky…apparently a graphic novelist, Miriam Libicki, was banned from VANCAF, a comic arts festival, because she had emigrated to Israel at 17, did her obligatory military service, and wrote a graphic novel about the experience in 2008, after she left Israel to live in Canada. Apparently she agreed not to display or sell her early army- related work at the con, but was banned anyway as a ‘safety’ concern, though she is pro-Palestinian state, anti-settler expansion and anti-Netanyahu.

    VanCAF has just apologized for the tone of their statement, including apologizing directly to “the individual directly affected by our first post” (strange not to mention her by name). But the statement does not explicitly say whether or not the ban is still in place.

    (One of VanCAF’s sponsors is the Canada Council for the Arts — I wonder what their policies are, and if discriminating against Libicki in this fashion is a violation of them.)

    Even if you believe, as the VanCAF people seem to, that the Israeli side of the conflict is entirely at fault, this could be a case study in “how not to”.

  15. 4) That is an interesting take. I enjoyed Six Wakes a great deal. But my ballot looked like this:

    The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
    Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee
    Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
    No Award
    The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
    Provenance by Ann Leckie
    New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

    [More commentary at the link. My ranking was based on my experience with the work rather than any thoughts about the author. Pity that more folks can’t set aside personal thoughts about the author and just deal with the work that was nominated.]

    A couple more thoughts.

    First, I found the following books to be better than the ones that I put below “No Award”.

    Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell
    The Core by Peter V. Brett
    All Good Things by Emma Newman
    Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

    Second, I’ve changed my approach to the novel category. Any novel that is part of a series, but not the first book in the series generally will be below “No Award” on my ballot. The award is for a novel. A novel is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and conclusion. A book that is part of a larger series is generally an incomplete story. Exceptions may arise, but they will be quite exceptional.

    @Lis Carey

    And why does he think anyone on the planet beyond his nearest and dearest, cares how he would have voted in the 2018 Hugos, or what he thinks of John Scalzi?

    He is a fan of genre fiction. His opinion has no greater or lesser value than any other fan.

    @Jayn

    This seems an interesting story,….

    Yes it is. Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of ‘loyalty’ and ‘duty.’ Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute, get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. – Robert Heinlein

  16. Joe Vasicek mostly seems to be playing the troll to draw in eyes and sell you some of his routine SF adventures. Good luck with that marketing strategy dude.

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