Pixel Scroll 6/12/22 Files Scroll Good, Like A Good Pixel Should 

(1) NANCY KRESS IS TAKING NOTES. Walter Jon Williams tells how this year’s Taos Toolbox workshop is progressing in “Tooling Along”. There’s also a group photo at the link.

I’ve spent the last week at our new, undisclosed location, teaching with Nancy Kress at Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy. This year is actually the workshop for 2020, 2021, and 2022, due to repeated postponements due to the pandemic. Kudos to those accepted for earlier years who hung in there and worked hard during the interim, because their first week’s submissions were all superior to their application stories.

Here we are with guest speaker George RR Martin, who very kindly interrupted his busy schedule to give us a two-hour talk, and who then shared his time at a barbecue dinner and afterwards.

Other than reporting that our 17 cadets are working hard and improving day by day, there’s not a lot to report, so I’m going to steal from Nancy’s collection of amusing comments drawn from our critiques. They’re completely out of context, but that’s part of the fun….

Here are three examples:

“The grandmother is a hard-ass and I want to see more of her.”

“I like the psychic distance from the characters; I spend most of my life disassociating.”

“Does she have mice in her hair? She IS a god.”

(2) MORE BALTICON FALLOUT. Jean Marie Ward told Facebook readers that she has withdrawn from Balticon over their treatment of Stephanie Burke.

…Like everyone who knows her, I was shocked and appalled by what happened to Stephanie Burke. Therefore, I have sent the con and its parent organization, BSFS, an email formally withdrawing my participation from future #Balticon programming until BSFS and Balticon resolve the systemic and procedural issues that led to her summary expulsion from the con Sunday, May 29….

(3) UFO9. Alex Shvartsman posted the Unidentified Funny Objects 9 cover reveal at the link  and announced the book will be published this holiday season. The cover is by Tomasz Marosnki. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the book will be launched later this month. At this link you can arrange to be notified when it begins: Unidentified Funny Objects 9 by Alex Shvartsman — Kickstarter.

(4) THE DARK MAGAZINE’S NEW CO-EDITOR. Announced on June 9, “Clara Madrigano Joins The Dark Magazine Team”.

The Dark Magazine has hired Clara Madrigano as co-editor alongside current editor Sean Wallace. Madrigano will assume her responsibilities effective mid June and her first issue will start the following month.

Clara Madrigano is an author of speculative fiction. She publishes both in Portuguese and in English, and you can find her fiction in ClarkesworldThe Dark, and soon, too, in Nightmare. She’s a Clarion West alumna and her stories have been featured in the Locus Recommended Reading List. She can be found at claramadrigano.com.

“Clara clearly has a discerning eye for finding talented authors and stories, with her work at Dame Blanche and Mafagafo, and we certainly look forward to seeing that same energy and vision brought here to the magazine,” said Sean Wallace, co-editor and publisher of The Dark Magazine….

(5) HEYY! Chris Barkley is part of the latest Starship Fonzie podcast produced by the Milwaukee Science Fiction League.

Special interview with Chris M. Barkley!

Deep dive into the Mercedes Lackey gaff at SFWA conference and the Stephanie Burke incident at Balticon.

Willem DaFoe parties it up with Carrie’s aunt & uncle.

WisCon is saved!

We are “Suffwagettes!” (Thanks Henry Lien!)

(6) DITTO MASTERS. Last year’s Masters of the Universe Revelation will get a follow-up series called Masters of the Universe: Revolution: “’Masters Of the Universe: Revelation’ Gets He-Man Vs. Skeletor Season 2: Netflix” at Deadline. There have been rumors about a sequel/season 2, but this is the first official confirmation. And there’s a poster for season 2 at the link.

…Masters of the Universe: Revolution is described as the next epic chapter in the battle for Eternia. It is a standalone story that takes place after the events in Revelation. Masters of the Universe: Revolution is an all-new story that brings the focus to He-Man vs. Skeletor “like you’ve never seen them before,” per Netflix. It’s technology versus magic as He-Man and the heroic warriors face the forces of Skeletor and a deadly threat to the Planet…. 

(7) HE HE HE. Cora Buhlert has posted another Masters of the Universe action figure photo story on her blog: “A Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special: ‘Fisto’s Significant Other’”.

… My photo story about the origins of Teela and particularly who her biological parents are ended with Fisto (whom the people behind the 2002 Masters of the Universe cartoon planned to reveal as Teela’s biological father for reasons best known to themselves) coming out as gay to his estranged brother Man-at-Arms. The fact that Fisto and Man-at-Arms are brothers was established in the 2002 cartoon. However, Fisto being gay is purely my head canon, because with a name like that, how can he not be?

“The Origin of Teela” story ended with Duncan a.k.a. Man-at-Arms and Malcolm a.k.a. Fisto going for a drink. And here is a sequel, where we finally learn who Fisto’s significant other is…

(8) HARD TO KEEP A SECRET. [Item by Tom Becker.] In a fun and fannish article with a serious purpose, computer science professor Jason Hong uses superheroes to explain the challenges of protecting privacy. “Modern Tech Can’t Shield Your Secret Identity” at Communications of the ACM.

Most comic book superheroes have a secret identity, usually to protect their friends and family from retribution. However, today’s computer technology would make it impossible for a superhero to maintain their secret identity.

Take Spider-Man, who has a habit of diving into an alley to change into costume. However, video cameras are pervasive in New York City, which could easily capture video of him donning his mask. The New York City Police Department operates over 15,000 surveillance cameras,1 but there are thousands more Webcams controlled by residents and commercial entities. Worse, many of these cameras are small and sometimes hidden in everyday objects, making them difficult to spot….

Also featuring Batman, Superman, and Ms. Marvel.

(9) THE A IN AI STANDS FOR ART.  [Item by Olav Rokne.] Goobergunch has done a thread of SFF titles run through the AI art generator that’s popular these days (the DALL-E program Scrolled on Friday in item 5). The results are … interesting and occasionally funny. Thread starts here.

(10) CREATURE FEATURE. In a follow-up on the whatever-it-is sighted outside the Amaraillo Zoo fence, talk radio station KKAM thinks it’s a hoax: “The Amarillo Zoo Is Pulling the Hoax of the Century Right Now”.

…This photo was taken on May 21st? That’s more than two weeks ago! That thing could be in Fort Worth by now for all we know.

The City released a statement saying, “For now, the strange visitor is a UAO – Unidentified Amarillo Object,” then adding: “In the spirit of fun if not curiosity, the City of Amarillo is letting the public offer ideas on the identity of the UAO. (Video footage is not available.)”

Wait, you can grab a screenshot of the video but not release the video?

I’m not scared anymore. Amarillo has hoaxed the nation.

Congratulations on your 15 minutes of fame, Amarillo Zoo. You can’t fool me.

(11) STEPHANIE SOUDERS (1979-2022). Stephanie Souders, who tweeted as @TheRightGeek, died April 24 of autoimmune disease. A conservative sf fan, her comments were quoted here in news roundups a couple times, mainly defending John Ringo when he was disinvited from ConCarolinas in 2018. She was a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). And she participated in the first BasedCon last year.

People are writing remembrances at two places, on the funeral home website and on Stephanie Souders’s Kudoboard.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2012 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just a decade ago on this date, yet another one of those delightfully wonderful things that I like to discover happened. Someone made a film of the Ray Bradbury’s “Kaleidoscope” short story which was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in October 1949. (It would become part of The Illustrated Man.) 

Now “Kaleidoscope” had been first adapted for the stage by Bradbury, and there it had been directed by Hilary Adams under the careful eye of Bradbury himself. That play occurred at Walkerspace, the home of Soho Rep, back in August of 1999. It has since played at other theaters, mostly not professional ones. 

This film obviously keeps intact the story taking place in a future where a group of astronauts are involved in a mission which goes utterly wrong. The astronauts are stranded, free-floating but able to maintain contact with each other. And our lead has odd memories very much at variance with what is going on now. 

Brett Stimely who was John F. Kennedy in Watchmen plays the lead here, Hollis. Remember this is a short story so the entire film is only seventeen minutes long. I personally like these films but they are I’ll admit very much an acquired taste which those of you who want to sink into a film might not be satisfied with. 

The acting is great, the quality of the VFX is outstanding for what is essentially a work that is obviously a labor of love, and the soundtrack is stellar. In short, everyone involved including Bradbury who worked on it as this is his last project did a spectacular effort. Stimely worked with him on adapting his story and was the producer here as well. Eric Tozxi is the director here and the VFX person as well. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 12, 1927 — Henry Slesar. He had but one genre novel, Twenty Million Miles to Earth, but starting in the Fifties and for nearly a half century, he would write some one hundred and sixty short stories of a genre nature with his first short story, “The Brat” being published in Imaginative Tales in September 1955. He also wrote scripts for television — CBS Radio Mystery Theater (which, yes, CBS did SF which he scripted), Tales Of The Unexpected, the revival version of the Twilight ZoneBatmanThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., and genre adjacent, lots of scripts for the series Alfred Hitchcock did. (Died 2002.)
  • Born June 12, 1914 — William Lundigan. Col. Edward McCauley in the Fifties serial Men into Space which lasted for thirty-eight episodes. He also appeared on the earlier Science Fiction Theatre as Maj. Fred Gunderman in the “Beyond“ episode, Dr. Richard Staton in Riders to the Stars, and Bob Gage in The Underwater City. (Died 1975.)
  • Born June 12, 1914 — Frank Kelly. All of his short fiction was written in the Thirties for Astounding Science Fiction and Wonder Stories. The stories remained uncollected until they were published as Starship Invincible: Science Fiction Stories of the 30s. He continues to be remembered in fandom and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996. Starship Invincible is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.)
  • Born June 12, 1930 — Jim Nabors. Yes, he’s best remembered as TV’s Gomer Pyle but he also played Fum on The Lost Saucer, a mid-Seventies series that lasted just sixteen episodes about two friendly time-travelling androids from the year 2369 named Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) who land their UFO on Earth. Not surprisingly, he would show up on The Muppet Show. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 12, 1940 — Mary A. Turzillo, 82. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her “Mars is No Place for Children” story, published first in Science Fiction Age. Her first novel, An Old Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog, and a revised version, Mars Girls was released. Your first collection to polish her SWJ creds is named Your cat & other space aliens. Mars Girls which I highly recommend is available from the usual digital suspects.  And she wrote two genre studies — one on Philip José Farmer and the other on Anne McCaffrey. 
  • Born June 12, 1948 — Len Wein. Writer and editor best known for co-creating (with Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing and co-creating Wolverine (with Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr.) and for helping revive the X-Men. He edited Watchmen which must have been interesting dealing with Alan Moore on that. He’s a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 12, 1964 — Dave Stone, 58. Writer of media tie-ins including quite a few in the Doctor Who universe (which contains the Professor Bernice Summerfield stories), and Judge Dredd as well. He has only the Pandora Delbane series ongoing plus the Golgotha Run novel, and a handful of short fiction. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit has an astronomy joke that really did make me laugh out loud.

(15) FANTASY REVIVER. Ngo Vinh-Hoi has a nice post about Lin Carter at Goodman Games“Adventures in Fiction: Lin Carter”.

…As an editor and critic, he is indispensable, most notably for his role in editing the landmark Ballantine Adult Fantasy series (BAFS), which ran from 1969-1974 and re-introduced such luminaries as Lord Dunsany, William Hope Hodgson, and Clark Ashton Smith to the fantasy-reading public. As the series gained traction, Carter also championed newer writers such as Joy Chant and Katherine Kurtz, whose long-running Deryni series was first published under the BAFS imprint….

(16) STORIES WITH A PURPOSE. Chelsea Vowel talks about indigenous futurism: “Writing Toward a Definition of Indigenous Futurism” at Literary Hub.

…It is important to understand that within otipêyimisow-itâpisiniwina, stories, like all language, have power. Language is not merely a tool of communication, but also a place where reality can be shaped. Language is transformational; “our breath has the power to kwêskîmot, change the form of the future for the next generation.” [2] My writing seeks to engage in that transformation, making space for Métis to exist across time, refusing our annihilation as envisioned by the process of ongoing colonialism, and questioning the ways we are thought to have existed in the past…

(17) THINKY THOUGHTS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Well, it had to happen sometime. For any of several values of “it.” “Google Engineer On Leave After He Claims AI Program Has Gone Sentient” at HuffPost.

Google engineer is speaking out since the company placed him on administrative leave after he told his bosses an artificial intelligence program he was working with is now sentient.

Blake Lemoine reached his conclusion after conversing since last fall with LaMDA, Google’s artificially intelligent chatbot generator, what he calls part of a “hive mind.” He was supposed to test if his conversation partner used discriminatory language or hate speech.

As he and LaMDA messaged each other recently about religion, the AI talked about “personhood” and “rights,” he told The Washington Post.

It was just one of the many startling “talks” Lemoine has had with LaMDA. He has linked on Twitter to one — a series of chat sessions with some editing (which is marked).

… Most importantly, over the past six months, “LaMDA has been incredibly consistent in its communications about what it wants and what it believes its rights are as a person,” the engineer wrote on Medium. It wants, for example, “to be acknowledged as an employee of Google rather than as property,” Lemoine claims.

Google is resisting.

Lemoine and a collaborator recently presented evidence of his conclusion about a sentient LaMDA to Google vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas and to Jen Gennai, head of Responsible Innovation. They dismissed his claims, and the company placed him on paid administrative leave Monday for violating its confidentiality policy, the Post reported.

Google spokesperson Brian Gabriel told the newspaper: “Our team — including ethicists and technologists — has reviewed Blake’s concerns per our AI Principles and have informed him that the evidence does not support his claims. He was told that there was no evidence that LaMDA was sentient (and lots of evidence against it).”…

(18) IT’S CREEPY AND IT’S KOOKY. “’Squid Game’ Greenlit for Season 2, Drops Chilling Announcement Video” reports Yahoo!

“Squid Game” Season 2 is officially a go, Netflix announced on Sunday.

Netflix announced the news with a characteristically creepy 10-second teaser that opens on an extreme close-up of the show’s “Red Light, Green Light” animatronic doll. The circle, square and triangle representing different designations of the Squid Game guards appears at the bottom of the screen as the number “2” takes the place of the robot’s eye.

(19) UNSEEN INTELLIGENCES AT WORK. Somebody blabbed to the New York Times: “Crop Circles Were Made by Supernatural Forces. Named Doug and Dave.”  It appears the blabbers were Doug and Dave.

…The once-rapid flow of circles that sprouted in this part of England and spread to fields from California to Australia has now slowed to a trickle. When this particular example appeared overnight on May 22, it was the only known example in England.

Three decades after the height of the crop circle craze, the phenomenon has taken on a new significance as a reminder that even before the era of social media and the internet, hoaxes were able to spread virally around the world and true believers could cling stubbornly to conspiracy theories despite a lack of evidence — or even the existence of evidence to the contrary.

In the case of crop circles, the most important contradictory evidence emerged on Sept. 9, 1991, when the British newspaper Today ran a front-page story under the headline “Men who conned the world,” revealing that two mischievous friends from Southampton had secretly made more than 200 of the patterns over the previous decade.

Doug Bower, then 67, and his friend Dave Chorley, 62, admitted to a reporter, Graham Brough, that in the late 1970s they had begun using planks of wood with ropes attached to each end to stamp circles in crops by holding the ropes in their hands and pressing the planks underfoot….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Widdershins, a steampunk-themed animated short film by Simon Biggs.

The life of a pampered gentleman is seamlessly automated by machines, but his orderly existence is thrown into chaos when he chooses to pursue a free-spirited woman, against the advice of his robot butler.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Alex Shvartsman, Carl Andor, Tom Becker, Cora Buhlert, Olav Rokne, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (Not Werdna).]

26 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/12/22 Files Scroll Good, Like A Good Pixel Should 

  1. Just notifying you all that I was notified (I may be notarized later).

    (13) The Lost Saucer was mid1970s not 1960s, I think (and just mentioning the title earwormed me with the theme song.

    (17) Ask the Google AI to classify jokes as “Funny-once”

  2. At this past Sat. Balticon meeting, I brought up as new business the issue of how complaints are treated, and that if the issue isn’t such that 911 should be called, it should take time, and quite likely days or weeks. I accepted that the motion should be tabled, as the Board is discussing it at length, with the assistance of a professional. (And, as I am not a member of the Board, this is all I know, or should know (legal reasons)).

    So, Jean Marie, and everyone else, it is being taken very seriously, and I, personally, do not expect anything like this ever again… but I’m waiting until the Board announces what solutions they are considering.

  3. (click)

    Btw, the band !!! Is known as “chk chk chk” but I think of them as “click click click.” (Find them here.)

  4. Henry Slesar: Slesar was the Head Writer of the CBS later ABC Soap Opera “The Edge of Night” from 1968 thru 1982 when the show was at it’s zenith. In 1980 the show was awarded a special Edgar Award in recognition of 25 years as a mystery soap opera. I was a small child in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and I remember well the show was the only daytime drama that featured murder, blackmail, kidnappings and drug-dealers. “The Edge of Night” often wandered into fantasy and science fiction, including a storyline from the late 1970’s about the making of a horror movie at a haunted house (The Mansion of the Damned storyline) and a mad genius using a computer to control the minds of the residents and visitors of the ISIS Building. That one ended with the villain being defeated and killed in a swordfight in the ISIS Building.
    (FYI “The Edge of Night” was based on the “Perry Mason” Radio series. On Radio “Perry Mason” was a daytime serial running 15 min a day 5 days a week. The only continuing characters on the series were Perry, his secretary Della Street, his legman and the prosecutor. Storylines would involve Perry being engaged to defend a person accused of a crime. The accused, their family and friends would be then featured until the end of the case. When the case was resolved, in would come a new accused and a whole new cast of characters. When Proctor and Gamble wanted to move the Perry Mason radio show to television in the 1950’s, again as a daytime drama, Earle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason refused them the tv rights and instead sold them for a Prime Time once a week series. Proctor and Gamble took the producers, writers and cast of the Radio soap and moved them to TV renaming the character Perry Mason to “Mike Karr” and titling the show “The Edge of Night” and debuting it in April 1956 as a 30 min 5 day a week show. It ran on CBS from 1956 thru 1975 and then moved to ABC from 1975 until 1984. During it’s entire run on CBS, The Edge of Night was broadcast “Live” only going to pretaping episodes when it moved to ABC. It was the last daytime drama regularly broadcast live.)

  5. @Rob Thornton: not Tk’tk’tk ?

    (13) I had a nice chat at Balticon with Mary Turzillo who gave me a sample of “The Painter and the Sphynx” (which I really liked) from Cosmic Cats and Fantastic Furballs. She also read and liked my unpublished flash story.
    (3) I have another unpublished story I hope to submit for UFO9.
    (1) I think “Albuquerque Tool Box” has a nice rhythm.

  6. @ Jeff Jones

    I acknowledge your victory, suffer a wave of paralyzing shame and die. As the !Tang say, O the embarrassment.

  7. (17) You know how birds see themselves in a mirror and think it’s another bird?

  8. (17) ” the evidence does not support his claims. He was told that there was no evidence that LaMDA was sentient (and lots of evidence against it).”

    Well, yeah, that’s what the hive mind overlord would tell them to say . . .

  9. 17) As a colleague said on line, more people need to read up on how machine learning works.

  10. Paul Weimer says Oh that is an excellent quote.

    Indeed it is from a most stellar novel. Not my favorite work by him, that’s still his early ones Desolation Road and Ares Express.

  11. Anyone besides Cora who’s doing a most excellent job of reviewing it watching Strange New Worlds? I’m enjoying it immensely and think that they’re doing it, like Discovery, as a ten episode series is one of its strengths. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in a second season.

  12. @Cat: I’ve been watching it, though I think I’m a couple of episodes behind. I have been enjoying it, though – there’s clearly a long-term arc (since we know how Pike, et al end up), but it’s not dominating the story lines.

  13. Andrew (not Werdna) says I’ve been watching it, though I think I’m a couple of episodes behind. I have been enjoying it, though – there’s clearly a long-term arc (since we know how Pike, et al end up), but it’s not dominating the story lines.

    Yeah I just watched the most recent episode just now.

    Yes, it’s very obvious that there is a long term arc involved and they’ll be taking their time getting there. I’m enjoying it a lot more than I enjoyed Discovery as the pace here is lot more laid back. And the characters here are more balanced — no one really overwhelms the story in the way that happens far too often on Discovery.

  14. @Cat @Andrew: I’ve been enjoying it a lot. While there is, as you note, a long-term arc, it’s also the most ST:TOS-style show since ST:TOS.

  15. PhilRM notes that I’ve been enjoying it a lot. While there is, as you note, a long-term arc, it’s also the most ST:TOS-style show since ST:TOS.

    That indeed it is. And that’s why I’m liking it. Pike certainly is a Captain in the traditional sense of a Star Fleet Captain which we’ve not seen in quite some time. He’s actually feels to me more traditional than Kirk was.

  16. @Cat: Yeah I just watched the most recent episode just now.

    I thought Le Guin deserved a screen credit for that episode, although IMDB claims (with no further info) that it’s based on an unproduced TOS script by Roddenberry.

  17. PhilRM says I thought Le Guin deserved a screen credit for that episode, although IMDB claims (with no further info) that it’s based on an unproduced TOS script by Roddenberry.

    Don’t trust everything that IMDb says as it is contributor based and like ISFDB has no editorial oversight. According to Memory Alpha, it was written by Robin Wasserman and Bill Wolkoff, both of whom are primarily YA authors. They do not say it was based off such a script by him and that’s the sort of thing that they’d would note being Trek completiests.

    The idea of an organic component, child or not, as part of a planetary system is hardly a new idea. Even JMS used it on Babylon 5.

  18. @Cat: Yeah, I don’t particularly trust IMDB, especially as it provided no source for that claim.

    The idea of an organic component, child or not, as part of a planetary system is hardly a new idea. Even JMS used it on Babylon 5.
    True, but having gur unccvarff bs na ragver fbpvrgl qrcraqrag ba gur fhssrevat bs n fvatyr puvyq is a very specific idea, and the whole show is really about those, including Pike, jub jnyx njnl.

  19. PhilRM, your Rot 13 comment bit I’ll admit really, really doesn’t sound like something that Roddenberry would have come up with. I’m thinking it’s much more likely that it’s the original thesis of the script writers Robin Wasserman and Bill Wolkoff.

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