Pixel Scroll 5/9/22 Listen: There’s A Hell Of A Good Pixel Next Door; Let’s Scroll

(1) RAMBO ACADEMY. Cat Rambo asks:

Want to move from promising rejections to actual acceptances? The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers offers live and on-demand classes as well as a virtual campus featuring daily co-working sessions, weekly story discussion, and other Zoom-based social events and a Discord server for chatting with other writers and exchanging story critiques.

She has just released the latest round of classes, and people can find details here She will also be adding a Nisi Shawl class on August 25, which will be up on the website as soon as possible). There’s also a giveaway for a live class. “All the June-August Classes, Plus Some Others! And a Delightful Giveaway.”

(2) BLUE WATERS. Variety introduces “’Avatar 2′ Trailer: James Cameron’s Long-Awaited Sequel”.

After 13 years and numerous delays, 20th Century Studios has finally released a glimpse into James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” due Dec. 16. This marks the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. The sequel’s official title is “Avatar: The Way of Water.”…

(3) CORA BUHLERT NEWS. Best Fan Writer nominee Cora Buhlert’s Hugo Voter Packet submission is now online as a free download for those who want to check it out or get a headstart on their Hugo reading: 2022 Hugo Voter Packet.

Cora also has been a guest on the Retro Rockets podcast and was interviewed by Andrea Johnson of Little Red Reviewer: “RetroRockets With Cora Buhlert”.

(4) A RIVERDALE UPDATE. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] BEWARE SPOILERS. Riverdale is currently under the control of Percival Pickens, an evil British person who became mayor with the aid of Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper. Pickens has decided he wants Archie and the gang to return overdue library books, and if the characters don’t return an exact copy of the book they checked out decades ago they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and possibly serve prison time.  He asks all of the characters to give him something personal as collateral–Archie’s guitar, Betty’s diary.  Jughead offers to give up his signed copy of Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but instead gives a copy of a book written by his grandfather.

Pickens is a sorcerer who uses these personal treasures as tools to control Archie and his friends.  Luckily Jughead uses his internet skills, and fans of Manhattan’s Strand Bookstore will find the Strand is namechecked here. Jughead finds copies of the overdue books, and Pickens returns the items. Cheryl Blossom says the only way to break the spell is for everyone to throw the possessed items in a fire and burn them.

Jughead doesn’t want to burn his grandfather’s book.  “It’s a book and I won’t burn it,” he says. “What would Ray Bradbury say?”

(5) MERRIL COLLECTION PODCAST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The new season of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast kicks off with host Oliver Brackenbury discussing sword and sorcery with Brian Murphy: “Sword & Sorcery”.

Upcoming subjects on the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast are:

  • Scifi Digests
  • Haunted Houses
  • Norse Mythologies
  • Alternate Histories
  • Graphic Novels
  • Beyond Lovecraft
  • Folklore and the Four Winds Storytellers Library

New episodes drop every two weeks.

(6) LAUNCHING A MAGAZINE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] On his personal podcast So I’m Writing a Novel, Oliver Brackenbury interviews Nat Webb, who just started a new fantasy magazine: “Founding a Literary Magazine, with Nat Webb”.

Returning champion Nat Webb joins us to discuss his recent founding of a literary magazine, Wyngraf!

Their discussion covers alternate titles for the magazine, defining cozy fantasy & backpack fantasy, conflict in stories and other things that can drive story, writing delicious food scenes, the cozy fantasy scene on Reddit and elsewhere, getting into short stories, his first submission and rejection and what he learned from it all, self-publishing a novel, discovering a love for the technical side of publishing, taking submissions in for the first time, putting one of your own stories in your own magazine, being transparent about the numbers behind your business, paying forward all the writing advice you’ve been given, working with an artist on a cover commission, choosing to pay authors and how much, deciding how often to release new issues, the importance of actually finishing a project, knowing when to stop with a project, Legends and Lattes and other reading recs, refreshing sincerity vs ironic distance, “coffee shop AU” explained, “numbies” explained, how sometimes the thing you bang out quickly resonates with people far more than the thing you slaved over forever, ins and outs of the Kindle Select program, the merits of publishing flash fiction, and more!

(7) JEWISH HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association blog has posted two more Q&As in one of its thematic interview series:

What has writing taught you about how to express your Jewishness or the experiences you’ve had as someone who is Jewish?

I have been writing about stories for as long as I can remember. As a student, I took many courses analyzing literature, and one thing that always came up was applying a “Jesus” lens to stories. As a kid who grew up in the Jewish tradition, spending 2 days a week at Hebrew school, and having most of my family’s social life revolve around the synagogue, I had to teach myself about Jesus in order to keep up in these classes and add to the discussion. Interestingly, I never thought of this as problematic; it was just the way things had to be, I thought. This is a common issue for those with marginalized identities; systemic oppression means we must conform, and yet we don’t question that we have to.

Do you make a conscious effort to include Jewish characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

The book I wrote immediately after Bird Box is called Bring Me the Map, and with that one I was thinking in terms of “Jewish horror story.” I was thinking lofty then, that I might write the essential Jewish horror novel, as The Exorcist seems to be that for Catholics. But the book changed organically as it went, and became less about Judaism and more about this family affair, but still, Jewish characters, all. And one of my more recent books, Forever Since Breakfast, is absolutely Jewish-centric. I’m hoping both these books come out soon. And, yes, it was a conscious effort to highlight Jewish characters in both. No doubt. And it felt good to do so. I should probably examine what that means and do it more often.

(8) DELANY IN NYT. [Item by Steven Johnson.] “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” is a feature/interview on Samuel Delany in the New York Times T Magazine, April 24. The quote I liked best: “My library makes me comfortable.” And I do not recall the anecdote about reading Bob Kane Batman comics at a critical age. 

(9) PÉREZ FAREWELL. The New York Times has published its obituary for a famous comics writer and artist: “George Pérez, Who Gave New Life to Wonder Woman, Dies at 67”.

…Mr. Pérez was also at the helm of the 1986 reboot of Wonder Woman, which presented the character, who had originally appeared in 1941, as a new superheroine. His version was younger, and he leaned into the Greek mythology rooted in her origin story.

“Wonder Woman had to rise or fall based on me,” Mr. Pérez said in a telephone interview in December. “It was a great success that gave me an incredible sense of fulfillment.”

His editor on the series, Karen Berger, said in an email, “What set George apart on Wonder Woman was that he really approached the character from a woman’s perspective — I found her relatable and authentic.” Patty Jenkins, the director of the “Wonder Woman” films, cited this version of the character as an influence…

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1973 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, Soylent Green was in general distribution in the States. (It had premieres earlier in LA and NYC, respectively, on April 18th and April 19th.) 

The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who had previously directed Fantastic Voyage and Doctor Doolittle, and, yes, the latter is genre. Rather loosely based off of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! Novel, it starred Joseph Cotten, Chuck Connors, Charlton Heston, Brock Peters, Edward G. Robinson in his final film role, and Leigh Taylor-Young. 

The term soylent green is not in the novel though the term soylent steaks is. The title of the novel wasn’t used according to the studio on the grounds that it might have confused audiences into thinking it a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy. Huh? It’s worth noting that Harrison was not involved at all in the film and indeed was was contractually denied control over the screenplay. 

So how was reception at the time? Definitely mixed though Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune liked it: “Richard Fleischer’s ‘Soylent Green’ is a good, solid science-fiction movie, and a little more. It tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green.” 

Other were less kind. A.H. Weiler of the New York Times summed it up this way: “We won’t reveal that ingredient but it must be noted that Richard Fleischer’s direction stresses action, not nuances of meaning or characterization. Mr. Robinson is pitiably natural as the realistic, sensitive oldster facing the futility of living in dying surroundings. But Mr. Heston is simply a rough cop chasing standard bad guys. Their 21st-century New York occasionally is frightening but it is rarely convincingly real.“

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a sixty percent rating. It was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon II, the year Sleeper won.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other.  I have heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg who wrote a detailed remembrance in Locus. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. Clute at EoSF says that “He was one of the potentially major writers of Genre SF who never came to speak in his full voice.” (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1926 Richard Cowper. The Whit Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading.  It appears that all of here are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a really deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. A deeply strange affair. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 9, 1951 Geoff Ryman, 71. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel. 
  • Born May 9, 1979 Rosario Dawson, 43. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Woman in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe. She played Ahsoka Tano on The Book of Boba Fett on Disney + in “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” which has led to her being the lead in upcoming Ahsoka Tano series on the same streaming service. (Editorial comment: I wish I liked the Star Wars universe well enough to subscribe to Disney + to see all of this stuff  but I really don’t.) 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WHICH IS IT? “Whether you think it’s one of the best sci-fi movies ever or one of the worst, you’re never going to forget it.” An Inverse writer considers the possibilities: “25 years ago, Bruce Willis made the most divisive sci-fi movie ever”.

… The initial response to The Fifth Element, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on May 7th, was divisive. It was recognized just as much at Cannes and the Oscars as it was the Razzies. Even those who appeared in its gleefully insane world have contrasting opinions, with Milla Jovovich hailing it as “one of the last hurrahs of epic filmmaking” and Gary Oldman admitting he “can’t bear it” and only signed up for the paycheck….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In which SNL host Benedict Cumberbatch discovers the multiverse is real. At least in TV Land. “The Understudy”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steve Johnson, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

26 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/9/22 Listen: There’s A Hell Of A Good Pixel Next Door; Let’s Scroll

  1. I want the record to show that I have not been and am not now waiting for the sequel to Avatar.

  2. I used to live some 20-odd miles NE of the actual Watership Down. I drove there once to see if I could spot any rabbits….

  3. 10) Soylent Green actually premiered on my birthday.

    13) I don’t recall any controversy surrounding The Fifth Element. Everybody in my circle liked it and the critics who didn’t were the ones who hated every SF movie anyway.

  4. @Cat Keep in mind that when you subscribe to Disney+ you’re also getting all of Pixar and all of Marvel. And all of the Disney animation too of course. For that matter, Disney has done some really landmark nature photography over the years.

  5. Watership Down is still one of my all-time favorites, for the way it out-cliffhangers 90% of the movies I’ve seen where the entire planet is threatened over the question of whether some rabbits can relocate to a new warren a few yards away. I have vague warm fuzzies about the sequel but I’d have to dive back in for specifics.

  6. 4) Drugs are for people who can’t handle Riverdale, I guess.

    11) I liked both animated Watership Downs.

    Thanks for the credit!

  7. 4) Okay, I’ve never watched the Riverdale tv series, so I need somebody to clue me in on whether this scroll item is parody or a genuine synopsis. Because that is NOT the Archie comics I grew up reading.

  8. I’ve not read Watership Down in about 15 years, but it held up then,

    The film is great, but mis-classified. It got a U certificate, meaning unaccompanied kids could be left to watch it (would anyone do that now? But they did in 1978) and I saw it at a half term screening in a cinema near a shopping centre where many parents had left their five year olds while they went to the shops. There was much screaming.

    My parents had read the book and knew to stay with us.

  9. 10) Pshaw! A bitten thumbnail and an index finger to Weiler! Edward G. delivered one of his best performances in that film, and it wasn’t owing to typecasting, it was owing to legendary acting chops!
    (In a police procedural, you’d want the lead, who is playing a detective, to act like a police detective.)
    I lived in and around NYC when this film came out. I saw this film IN NYC when it came out. We actually had to step over people going up the subway steps, and the city was still picking itself up from the 1968 garbage strike of five years before….you better bet NYC was accurately and futuristically scary!
    (My suspicion is that the reviewer pool at the NY Times used to fight over who would be assigned the SF films, because they used the time to take a nap, not watch a film. They knew they could phone it in and no one on staff would double check them.)

  10. (11) I read Watership Down, Shardik and The Girl in the Swing (which is a rather old-fashioned ghost story). WD is the best of the three, but the others were worth reading.

  11. I am with Nancy Sauer (above). The world did NOT need a sequel to Avatar. Or even want one. Or in my case, accept one with a disinterested shrug. Avatar was gorgeous. Other than that it was a really stupid movie. He should have left out his tired, derivative excuse for a story and made it an alien travelogue with Zoe Saldana as the tour guide.

  12. Albert Finney also starred in Dennis Potter’s final two TV productions, “Karaoke” and “Cold Lazarus” – the latter being explicitly SF, set in the 24th century and centring on Finney’s character’s cryonically preserved head. Well worth a look.

    I got to see him live as Macbeth at the National Theatre back in the 70s… I remember thinking it was good….

  13. Well, the talk about family in the Avatar-trailer makes it clear , that this is really a Fast and the Furious- Crossover. Just not with cars, but with animals.

    Does anyone knows anything about Scott Hawkins? I was just checking if he would be working on a new book, since I really enjoyed The library of Mount Char. But his website and his blog hasnt been updated since 2019 (when he apparently was working on a book) and his Twitter seems dormant since at least 2020 (or longer, 2020 seems to be an automated post). Of course, writers just working and not showing life signs are nothing special, but still, Id like to check, pandemic and all.

  14. If I’m honest: I still haven’t seen the first Avatar! But I have read the complete works of William Tenn. I consider that an acceptable tradeoff! 🙂

  15. (07) If you scroll to the beginning of the month, you’ll discover quite a few interviews.
    For Jewish heritage, I’ve counted ten interviews so far (in no particular order):
    1. Josh Malerman
    2. Becky Spratford
    3. Brenda S. Tolian
    4. Aden Polydoros
    5. Maxwell Bauman
    6. John Palisano
    7. John Baltisberger
    8. Elana Gomel
    9. Nicholas Kaufman
    10. Maxwell. I. Gold

  16. Good. Ever since Patrick posted that potential scroll title in the comments, I’ve been waiting to see it used.

  17. Geoff Ryman’s Air is one of my all-time favorite novels. There is some magical realism to it that even people who love the book tend to gloss over (or try to pretend it’s not in there) but I even like that.

  18. Peer, there’s a note on Scott’s blog that makes it clear that he almost completed a new novel back three years ago which was not a sequel to his first novel and after that… well, nothing. He’s not been active at all in promoting The Library at Mount Char, nor do anything else but of course there’s the small matter of The Pandemic.

    As regards his blog not being up to date, he’s hardly the only author doing that. I can name over a dozen writers, some very well known, who’ve not updated their blogs, in years. I notice them as I do the Birthdays.

  19. Bruce Arthurs: I accurately described the events in Sunday’s episode of Riverdale.

  20. As regards his blog not being up to date, he’s hardly the only author doing that. I can name over a dozen writers, some very well known, who’ve not updated their blogs, in years.

    Of course! Its nothing unusual, even going off Twitter. Its just quite a clear cut after the Con he mentioned (both there as on Twitter), and I just wanted to check.

  21. Absolutely couldn’t stand The Fifth Element, apart from the Blade Runner joke. So yes, it is divisive. I had generally liked Luc Besson films, so it was particularly disappointing.

    Rosario Dawson is also in the entirely reprehensible Clerks II, which is not SF but does (as with Smith’s other films) feature Star Wars jokes.

  22. I reread Watership Down at least once or twice a year. It holds up fairly well, I think, though different readers will have different tolerances for the “bucks view the does primarily as breeders and that’s OK because they’re rabbits” plot point.

    (I’m actually bothered more by the portrayal of the Nuthanger Farm humans than by the “rabbits, so it’s not sexism” thing, and even then I’m only bothered towards the end of the book when the author insert character shows up to be all educated and well-spoken compared to the unsophisticated dialect-speaking farmer folk. It just feels, to me, unpleasantly like the author actively looking down his nose at them.)

    BUT. It is a lovely book. If you loved it years ago, I think you will still love it now.

    As to the animations, the older film is vaguely faithful but weirdly incoherent, though I give it due credit for the “mythical” animation style during the storytelling bits. I would happily rewatch it any time. The recent Netflix adaptation I found weirdly and offensively unfaithful, with completely unnecessary injections of Hollywood-style tropes, and whole-cloth invented additions that didn’t add nearly enough to make up for what they chose to leave out. Will not be rewatching.

    I am aware my opinion on the Netflix series is only mine and apparently not widely shared. (For what it’s worth, I was also terribly disappointed with the Annihilation film: pretty eye-candy aside, the main character was NOT the Biologist, dang it, and I loved the character of the Biologist.) I don’t actually need adaptations to be faithful scene-by-scene and dialogue-by-dialogue, but I do expect them to be true to the spirit of the original in terms of characterization and atmosphere and what kind of story it is, and I guess I can be really picky about that.

  23. @Graham

    the entirely reprehensible Clerks II

    Reprehensible? I suppose. But in a good way.

  24. But in a good way.

    Oh, absolutely. I’m a huge fan, which probably makes me reprehensible too.

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