Pixel Scroll 5/20/16 Is That a Pixel In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Glad To Scroll Me?

(1) BBC RADIO 4 SF. BBC Radio 4 is presenting Dangerous Visions, a series of science fiction radio plays, both original and adaptations of classic works, beginning May 22. Adapted works include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Worlds, Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes, William Morris’ News From Nowhere, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

The list of upcoming episodes is here. They’ll be available for listening to online “shortly after broadcast” for a limited time (usually 30 days).

(2) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. The BBC’s Dangerous Visions site also offers lessons in “How To Speak Sci-Fi”, a selection of 10 popular taglines.

It takes a LOT of training to be a fully-fledged, proud sci-fi nerd. If someone can speak fluent Italian, they’re revered (assuming they’re not actually Italian) but fluent Klingon? You’re considered a joke. We’re here to set this right….

3. “If I can just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow…”

Try saying that when you’re fighting with the automatic checkout at the supermarket and every Doctor Who fan within earshot will snigger. Jon Pertwee said it originally but it’s used by fans as general shorthand for the Doctor’s more unlikely technological experiments.

(3) CHESTERTON. Elsewhere on BBC Radio 4, they’re in the middle of an adaptation of Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. The first 4 (of 13) episodes are available for online listening so far — GK Chesterton – The Man Who Was Thursday – Episode guide – BBC Radio 4 Extra.

(4) HITCHCOCK AND LUCAS. If the two famous directors combined forces the result would be nothing like Darth By Darthwest but who cares?

(5) EAT THE ADS. Tor.com explains why “We Are Sad That We Cannot Go to Japan and Eat Captain America: Civil War Ramen”.

What’s inside these familiar-looking decorative bowls, you ask? Civil War in a soup! Marvel teamed up with the popular Japanese ramen chain Ippudo in May to give the public a dose of superhero-themed food.

And we are very sad that we do not live in Japan right now.

RocketNews24, the source for Tor’s item, has additional details and photos.

cap america ramen


(7) CORNELL RECLAIMS CRICKET. In each episode of Unjustly Maligned, comics and games writer Antony Johnston asks a new guest to explain why that thing you hate is actually really great. Episode 51 is “’Cricket’ With Paul Cornell”

As St George’s Day approaches, gentlemen in England’s green and pleasant land take to the field for a game that can last five days, yet still somehow end in a draw…! Author Paul Cornell goes to bat to spread the good word of cricket.

(8) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. MiceAge has news about a Disneyland ride makeover.

This Elevator Travels Directly To . . . The Marvel Zone

Elsewhere in DCA, a wild rumor got out earlier this spring about a plan to remake Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy ride. We can tell you that the Guardians of the Galaxy rumor is true, and TDA’s executive suite was furious when the rumor leaked out from Glendale-based sources. The plan is for the original Twilight Zone backstory to be removed entirely, and replaced with an all new show based around the Collector character from the Guardians movie franchise. WDI had been testing and experimenting with the new show in the elevators for months and the Tower of Terror hourly CM’s were all aware of what WDI had been cooking up since this winter. But when the plan finally leaked online in April, the TDA executive suite hit the roof in anger.

The current plan for Tower of Terror is to close the attraction this fall and give the entire building a full interior and exterior refurbishment so that the new version of the ride can open next May, with the Guardians of the Galaxy movie premiere held at DCA the same week the new ride opens. Assuming this gets the green light by August, and a disastrous Shanghai opening summer is about the only thing that could derail it at this point, the CM’s will be treated to another round of approved Talking Points that will somehow explain that they can now believe what they read online about Guardians of the Galaxy taking over Tower of Terror. The hourly CM’s, of course, are already several steps ahead of TDA.

This Tower of Terror proposal is part of a multi-year plan to get more Marvel into DCA, being pushed heavily by Bob Chapek. Since Chapek arrived a year ago as the new Parks Chairman, he’s been shocked to learn that after five years of owning Marvel there still isn’t a new Marvel ride in the California parks, and that the only thing TDA has done with Marvel is slap together some cheap meet n’ greets over the years.

(9) PRESERVED IN AMBER. Theodore Krulik, creator of the encyclopedia of Roger Zelazny’s Amber novels, The Complete Amber Sourcebook, dips into his trove of quotes and stories about the author in a post at Tor.com.

He had allowed me into his home that November day to conduct a week-long series of interviews for Roger Zelazny, the literary biography I was writing for Frederick Ungar Publishers in New York. My interviews with him at his home and in later interviews over the next ten years were much more than simple Q&A. Roger didn’t stop at a brief statement to anything I asked. He responded with deep insights that revealed experiences and perspectives that he rarely talked about anywhere else.

The final anecdote is a wry revelation about where Zelazny supposedly got his ideas.

(10) HERE KITTY KITTY. JJ calls Tom Gauld’s New Scientist cartoon “SJW Credentials Gone Wild”. The official intro is “Why science needs more funding…”

(11) IS IT A SINKING FEELING? The Travel goes to the movies at Galactic Journey — “[May 19, 1961] One of our Continents is Missing! (Atlantis: The Lost Continent)”.

Without giving too much of the ending away, I can confirm that the sinking of Atlantis does occur, and it is magnificent.  Some excellent model work mixed with clever optical effects makes for a satisfying conclusion.  Other noteworthy elements are the score (though there is some recycling of motifs from The Time Machine) and the acting, particularly the performances turned in by John Dall (Zaren, who was in Spartacus) and Paul Frees.  The latter is never seen; rather, his vocal talents are evident throughout.  The versatile Frees, who you’ve assuredly heard in prior films, and will hear in films to come, is the film’s narrator and the looped-over voice of many of the characters.

(12) NO, IT’S A TINGLING SENSATION. This offer could easily be over by now, as I’m sure people raced to take their pics —  “Chuck is nominated at this year’s Hugo Awards, the most prestigious award in science fiction. Help show your support!”

 The first 20 people to post a photo on Instagram or Twitter with this flyer hanging in their favorite bookstore will get a free Audible code direct messaged to them for Chuck’s classic tale BUTTCEPTION: A BUTT WITHIN A BUTT WITHIN A BUTT. The poster of 1 photo (best or most creative), as chosen by Chuck himself, will receive the honor of appearing by name as a side character in an upcoming tingler. Post your photo with the hashtag #BelieveInChuckTingle to enter!  Below is the flyer, which can be printed in black and white on standard 8.5 by 11 paper.

(13) BLUE AUTHOR. Alexandra Erin outlines a crowdsourced future in “Okay. So. Business plans”.

So the details are still firming up in my brain and probably won’t settle completely until after WisCon, but starting in June, my creative and insightful output is basically going to, in some form, be shaping up into Alexandra Erin: The Crowdfunded Zine. I’ll still be writing and posting stuff to my blog or directly to Patreon throughout the month, but I’m going to be collecting, collating, and polishing it as I go so that at the end of each month I have a shiny package I can give to my patrons and sell to anyone else who wants it, and that I myself can look at with pride, knowing that yes, I definitely accomplished things this month.

(14) IF YOU WERE A PATREON MY LOVE. Rachel Swirsky’s Patreon is raising money this month by Making Lemons into Jokes. Greg Machlin has a progress report.

ATTENTION! Talented sci-fi writer Rachel Swirsky has been getting harassed ever since she wrote an award-winning short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.” She’s now doing a patreon fundraiser for an LGBT health group, Lyon-Martin.

The patreon’s at $437/month. If she hits a $900 stretch goal, the prize is a satirical essay by ME. Please donate. I’d love to write it!

Meanwhile, Swirsky has announced some other stretch goals.

We have achieved the $400 stretch goal: “If You Were a Cuttlefish, My Love.” I showed it to Mary Robinette Kowal and a few other folks, and she gave me an unintentional blurb: “I LOVE THIS WITH THE LOVE OF A THOUSAND CUTTLEFISH EGGS.” I hope y’all enjoy it, too!

We’re partyway to the $500 stretch goal when Liz Argall will make an original comic in her series… Things Without Arms and Without Legs… and Without Butts?

(15) FINDING GOOD STUFF. On her blog today, Swirsky did her weekly recommendation post — Friday Read! “The Migratory Patterns of Dancers” by Katherine Sparrow.

In a future where birds are extinct, genetically modified men take their motorcycles around the country to perform dances that remind people of the migrations that once took place.

Katherine Sparrow is one of my classmates from Clarion West 2005, and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since. In addition to her lovely and lyrical short stories, she also writes young adult novels which center on the theme of collective action.

(16) INCONSISTENCIES. Cracked wants to change the way you watch seven wildly successful sci-fi films – and not in a good way. BEWARE SPOILERS GALORE. It’s sort of How It Should Have Ended using still photos.

(17) SMOFCON 34. The 2016 Smofcon has opened online registration. The con will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont (the Chicagoland area) December 2-4.

(18) HEINLEIN AWARD ACCEPTANCE VIDEO. Dr. Jerry Pournelle told Chaos Manor readers, “The National Space Society award ceremony in Puerto Rico was a bit too far for me to travel to, but we did make a video for the acceptance.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Bruce Arthurs, JJ, Will R., Brian Z., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day BigelowT.]

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78 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/20/16 Is That a Pixel In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Glad To Scroll Me?

  1. Just finished: “Windswept” by Alex Rakunas. It’s such a goddamn relief to read a science fiction or fantasy novel that doesn’t focus on aristocrats of some sort. “Windswept” is tropical-colored noir, with the focus on people who do dirty, hard work and don’t get paid enough to do it. Our protagonist, Padma Mehta, is a union rep with a (highly-specific) alcohol problem, trying to take care of her people while keeping more than half an eye on her plan to retire and run a distillery. The planet she’s on, Santee, is part of the underbelly of interstellar civilization, growing sugarcane for the molasses that’s a basic chemical feedstock. It really makes you think about the kind of work that has to go on behind the scenes of your favorite space adventure, and how unsung the people doing it tend to be.

    I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, coming out next month. My only uncertainty is whether I’ll get a hardcopy (paperback) or an e-book. The paperback of “Windswept” is set in a font just a bit smaller than my old eyes are comfortable reading — I can do it, but it makes my vision blurry if I read for more than a couple hours. I’ll probably get the e-book if the rest of Casa Science doesn’t care for “Windswept”, but a paperback if the others want to read it, too.

  2. It’s all downhill from here, isn’t it?

    Reminds me of the moment in Aguirre, the Wrath of God where the expedition has just struggled through the Andes and is about to descend into the jungles and Aguirre says happily, “It’s all uphill from here!” and another character, who thought he was speaking literally, stares at him and says “No, it’s all downhill” and is both literally and metaphorically correct…

  3. @ Lisa Goldstein

    Years later we watched it on video and couldn’t figure out what had been so scary.

    I had a similar experience with an amusement park ride once. (The “haunted mine train” at Old Tucson.) After the first five seconds, I had my eyes tightly closed for the entire rest of the ride, but I couldn’t tell you know what it was I didn’t want to see. (I *suspect* it was more of a general sensory-overload thing than a specific stimulus.)

  4. just finished Borderline …. I liked it a lot but am not quite sure what to make of it.

  5. @James Davis Nicoll

    Sarcophagus was always one of my favourite Blakes 7 episodes, even if Tanith Lee took a few liberties with the characters. One of the first I remmber watching when they first aired too.

    Personally I doubt Avon would care if had to shoot Tarrent down in front of everyone though. In fact he nearly does in Terminal and you only see the gun he’d palmed as he’s putting it away.

  6. BigelowT

    It’s getting late on this side of the pond, so before I read a couple of chapters of a dead tree book I’d like to point out that your editing edit is still pretty impressive, and in response to the Zelazny piece I should note that, until today, I didn’t know that The Changing World existed.

    It may not seem like a big deal, but for me, finding a Zelazny novel I haven’t read is manna from heaven, if not downright miraculous. Thank you!

  7. Re the “Archies go to space” vibe: This is a side effect of trying to turn Star Trek into a superhero movie. Think about it — the first reboot was effectively an origin story for the entire crew, and superhero movies have to have origin stories. (And sometimes they have them over and over and over again — Spider-Man, I’m looking at you.) But in the original series, we came into it in medias res, and it gradually became obvious that people had been in the Enterprise crew for varying lengths of time. Which, of course, is how things actually work, so the entire “everyone in the crew was in Starfleet Academy at the same time” schtick was a load of hooey from the beginning.

    And that, in turn, was a direct side effect of handing the franchise over to someone who was not a Star Trek fan and didn’t have any idea what it was supposed to be about. Abrams should never have been let anywhere near that movie, and it showed. It showed even more in the second one, and I don’t have any particular expectations about a third now that the path has been set.

  8. > “Amazon UK has Frances Hardinge’s A Face Like Glass available for the Kindle at 99p today and tomorrow.”

    I will second the recommendation for this.

  9. @James Davis Nichol

    I don’t know what your definition of “not widely known” is, but we’ve raved here about Becky Chambers’ The Long Way To a Small Angry Planet.

    If you’re into YA, I really liked the Starbound trilogy, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light). I just finished the final book, and I think it’s one of the better space opera sagas out there.

  10. Stevie on May 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm said:
    It may not seem like a big deal, but for me, finding a Zelazny novel I haven’t read is manna from heaven, if not downright miraculous. Thank you!

    I see what you did there

    BTW, I think you meant “The Changing Land”.

  11. @James Davis Nicoll
    We seem to have similar tastes based on your reviews, so here are some recentish space operas I enjoyed:

    Have you read Rachel Bach’s Paradox trilogy? At any rate, I didn’t see it in your review index? The series has a lot of things going for it, adventures in space, a ship with a motley crew, an engaging heroine, a love interest that’s not your typical alpha male (and when he behaves badly, the heroine doesn’t immediately forgive him), lots of big secrets and even some sly metacommentary on genre conventions with digs both at Campbellian SF and the New Wave. The books came out in 2013/14, the first one is Fortune’s Pawn.

    Sara Creasy’s Scarabaeus duology Song of Scarabaeus and Children of Scarabaeus is not entirely recent, the books came out in 2010/11, but it’s very good and surprisingly little known. It’s got some unusual worldbuilding, engaging characters and plays with gender clichés, since the protagonist is a terraforming tech who’s not your stereotypical kickarse heroine, while her reluctant bodyguard, who would be the action man hero in a more conventional novel, gets to be the damsel in distress, who is repeatedly threatened to make the protagonist cooperate. He also gets to sit out the climax of both novels (quite literally in one case, since he’s unconscious), while the protagonist faces off against a female antagonist instead.

    Ann Aguirre is another author to try, if you haven’t read her already. The Dredd Chronicles is space prison trilogy which came out in 2013/14/15 and is a spin-off of sorts the Sirantha Jax series, which is also very good with the caveat that I didn’t particularly care for the protagonist’s love interest, who suffers from overbearing jerk syndrome at times.

    Bonnie already suggested Becky Chambers. I’d second that suggestion, if you haven’t read her already.

    Another newish space opera (published in late 2015) I read recently is Shadow of Empire by Jay Allan, book 1 in The Far Stars series. It was fun enough, but couldn’t really hold a candle to the other books listed above. The main problem IMO was that Allan focussed too much on the gruff space captain with dark secrets in his past, who is of course a stock character in this sort of book. The other space operas have this guy as well, but only as a supporting character (and sometimes antagonist), where he works much better IMO.

    Other recent space operas currently residing on Mount TBR: The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel, which is up next, Abendhau’s Heir by Jo Zebedee, Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi, Ancestral Machines by Michael Cobley and Dark Run by Mike Brookes, which I have on preorder. Will report back once I’ve read them.

  12. Thanks to JJ and Peter J for their respective suggestions for additions to my TBR pile. Duly purchased. Bought Volume 2 of Invisible Library a couple of months back, so pleased to obtain Volume 1. And I never miss the opportunity to sample titles which reference snatches of famous lyrics

    Current reading ‘The Aeronaut’s Windlass’ and finding it….s l o w. It lacks the verve and forward momentum which were the redeeming virtues of ‘Skin Game’.

  13. James Davis Nicoll said:

    If I may appeal to the hive mind, what are some good recent space operas not already widely known?

    I also need a definition for “widely known”. Also “recent”, and “space opera”. But here are a couple suggestions that I don’t think get enough attention, to start with:

    * The “Theirs Not to Reason Why” series by Jean Johnson, starting with A Soldier’s Duty. I like it in so many ways, but the biggest is that the author has put an order of magnitude more thought into considering how psychics could coexist with a technologically advanced society that respects the rule of law than I’ve ever seen before or since.

    * All of Peter F. Hamilton’s space operas starting from the “Night’s Dawn” trilogy. (Fallen Dragon, which predates it, is a space opera too, but not nearly as good. Though if you get really into Hamilton’s work, it’s interesting to see some ideas that he revisited later and better in their original forms.) The most recent is The Abyss Beyond Dreams, and you can start with that if you want, and holy crap it’s good, and I’m trying not to think about how many months it still is until we get the second half of the story…

  14. (15): Flaws
    Terminator: My assumption is that the moment Skynet developed time travel, it knew it would lose. After all, if at any point it won, it would have centuries to send back terminators to help with the war. It also knew it would keep trying, so I figure by the time Genesys rolled around, it was mostly making a perfunctory effort.

    Ex Machina: any problem with Nathan’s actions can be explained by his being an insane sadist who watched too many of the wrong anime.

    Star Trek: I got nothin’.

  15. Lee on May 21, 2016 at 4:10 pm said:

    I have intentionally not seen the reboots, but I did very much enjoy one piece of fanfic that came out of them: ‘Graduate Vulcan for Fun and Profit’.
    It feels much closer to the original.

  16. @Lee:

    Think about it — the first reboot was effectively an origin story for the entire crew, and superhero movies have to have origin stories. (And sometimes they have them over and over and over again — Spider-Man, I’m looking at you.)

    My son and I have made endless deadpan jokes in the wake of Civil War along the lines of, “But wait – we have no idea how this Peter Parker kid got these powers or why he feels like he has to use them to help people! Why won’t they tell us? Also, is his Aunt married?”

    We find each other quite amusing, you know.

  17. @P J Evens

    I’m still wondering what Vulcan knitting patterns are like

    Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations of course.

  18. P J Evans on May 21, 2016 at 8:53 pm said:
    Lee, I’m still wondering what Vulcan knitting patterns are like.

    Stretchy yet grippy in your fingers. Or was that vulcanized knitting patterns?

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  20. “Darth by Darthwest”…

    Sounds more like Chip Hitchcock than Alfred Hitchcock to me. But then, I share a fondness for many of the same jokes as Chip.

  21. Cora Buhlert on May 21, 2016 at 5:58 pm said:
    Ancestral Machines by Michael Cobley

    Ooooh, Wiki tells me that’s a new book in the Huimanity’s Fire series. I ran hot and cold on the initial trilogy, but it had a lot of great moments and Cobley’s writing style was enjoyable.

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