Pixel Scroll 6/12/24 Pixels Were Scrolled

(1) TED CHIANG WINS PEN/MALAMUD AWARD. Ted Chiang is the winner of the 2024 PEN/Bernard and Ann Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, which recognizes writers “who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in the short story form.” He will be honored at the annual PEN/Malamud Award Ceremony, held in partnership with American University, on December 6. 

Ted Chiang

“Ted Chiang’s stories are an absolute wonder to behold,” said Jung Yun, PEN/Malamud Award committee chair. “Not only do they demonstrate his exceptionally high standards for creativity and construction, they also invite readers to think, imagine, and explore unique worlds beyond their own. Whether set in an alternate version of the past, or one possible version of the future, his work prompts important questions that are deeply relevant to how we live today. In doing so, Chiang exemplifies Bernard Malamud’s belief that a short story can produce ‘the surprise and effect of a profound knowledge in a short time.’ “

Chiang’s fiction has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and six Locus Awards, and has been reprinted in Best American Short Stories. His first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, has been translated into 21 languages, and the title story was the basis for the Oscar-nominated film Arrival. His second collection, Exhalation, was chosen by the New York Timesas one of the 10 Best Books of 2019.

“I cannot overstate how surprised and delighted I am to be a recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story,” Chiang said. “The short story has played a central role in the history of science fiction; I grew up reading anthologies where every story contained a different world, and I feel privileged to be a part of science fiction’s growing acceptance in the wider literary world. As a writer I appreciate the way the short story allows me to focus on a single idea or moment, and it’s wonderful to receive an award that celebrates the form.”

(2) NYRSF READINGS. Barbara Krasnoff told Facebook readers today the New York Review of SF Readings are back. Susan Emshwiller will guest at the next one on June 20. See it on Jim Freund’s YouTube channel.

First, we apologize for the long wait for our NYRSF Reading with Susan Emshwiller — because of health and tech issues (things always pile up, don’t they?), we had to postpone.

However, we’re planning to make up for it with a wonderful reading and interview with the multi-talented Susan Emshwiller about her great new book All My Ancestors Had Sex (love the title!) on Thursday, June 20th, at 7 PM ET, on Jim’s YouTube channel. I am hosting, Jim Freund is running tech, and Amy Goldschlager will be your faithful audience wrangler. See you online soon!

(3) THE FINAL EPISODE ON THE FINAL FRONTIER. Galactic Journey’s Janice L. Newman and others tuned in for the final episode of Star Trek – in 1969. What did they think of it? “[June 12, 1969] Heavy on the Bitters (Star Trek: Turnabout Intruder)”.

The mood was bittersweet as we gathered to watch the final episode of Star Trek. It also held a hint of trepidation: would we get another instant classic, like All Our Yesterdays, or another disappointment, like the string of episodes before it?

As it turned out, the final episode of Star Trek, probably the last new one that will ever be aired, was compelling, well-acted, well-paced, well-directed…and disappointing for an entirely different reason….

… The plot that then unfolds is simple: Kirk must try to convince his crew that he is himself, despite being in Lester’s body, while Lester must convince them that “Janice Lester” is dangerously insane and that she is Captain Kirk. Lester is hampered by the fact that she is emotionally unstable, to put it mildly, and clearly unfit to be a starship captain. Spock uses Vulcan telepathy early on and believes Kirk, and the rest of the crew slowly come to support him as well, despite no medical tests showing anything off about Kirk (this is another implausible point—surely brain scans, psychological tests, or gauges of emotional stability should have shown that something was different.)…

…There are a couple of ways to interpret this story. You could, as we tried to do, simply say that Lester sees sexism where it none exists, blaming an outdated concept for why she couldn’t get promoted rather than her own mental and emotional instability. Unfortunately, this is undercut by Kirk’s agreeing with her statement that, “It’s not fair,” and Kirk’s own final words that her life could have been as rich as “any woman’s”.

On the other hand, taking it at face value seems wildly counter both to previous episodes and to current (present-day) trends. “Number One” from The Menagerie was a woman, and even acting captain of the Enterprise back in Pike’s day, years before Kirk was put in charge. Perhaps there hasn’t been a female starship captain yet (there are only 13 Enterprise-class ships, per Tomorrow is Yesterday) but you don’t make someone First Officer if there’s no avenue for them to eventually become a captain. And in “our world”, two world leaders are women: Golda Meir became the Prime Minister of Israel just two months ago, while Indira Gandhi has been Prime Minister of India since 1966!…

(4) EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE A PLAN FOR THEIR COLLECTION …  [Item by Mike Ward.] …for their death… Or even just for forgetting to pay the fee for the storage unit.

Don’t let this happen to you:

Dusty Riach is one of the people on Storage Wars, but this video is one he himself put on YouTube a couple of years ago.

Someone with a storage unit in Bloomington, California, let it lapse. It was full of SF/Fantasy; a pile of stuff that seems to have come from Forry Ackerman’s estate; and hundreds of LP and other records.

There was a box of fanzines that included an APA-L for instance. Lots of other stuff that someone had put together over the years.

The video runs half an hour. The collector’s name is not given, and perhaps not even known, but someone in LA fandom probably knew them.

(5) RECURSIVE BOOK BAN. [Item by Cliff.] “Book about book bans banned by Florida school board” – the Guardian sorts it out.

A book about book bans has been banned in a Florida school district.

Ban This Book, a children’s book written by Alan Gratz, will no longer be available in the Indian River county school district since the school board voted to remove the book last month.

Gratz’s book, which came out in 2017, follows fourth-grader Amy Anne Ollinger as she tries to check out her favorite book. Ollinger is told by the librarian she cannot, because it was banned after a classmate’s parent thought it was inappropriate. She then creates a secret banned-books library, entering into “an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read”, according to the book’s description on Gratz’s website.

In a peculiar case of life imitating art, Jennifer Pippin, a parent in the coastal community, challenged the book….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Born June 12, 1916 Irwin Allen. (Died 1992.) So let’s talk about Irwin Allen. While he may be best known for that most spectacular of ocean disaster movies, The Poseidon Adventure, he’s done more than done a reasonable share of genre work.

Irwin Allen, 1974

The first series that he created in the Sixties was Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, was based off his film of the same name, that would air on ABC from the fall of 1964 to the spring of 1968 making it the decade’s longest-running American science fiction television series with continuing characters. The one hundred and ten episodes produced included the first thirty-two shot in black-and-white, and last seventy-eight filmed in color. 

Next up for him was Lost in Space. Saying it’s based off Johann David Wyss’ The Swiss Family Robinson is really, really stretching things, isn’t it? Be that as it may, the show ran for eighty-three episodes over three seasons on CBS.

Remember The Time Tunnel? Yeah he was responsible for it too. The show ran for one season of thirty episodes from 1966 to 1967 on ABC.  

His run of SF series would be concluded with Land of the Giants, a one-hour series that aired on ABC from the fall of 1968 to the spring of 1970. It was filmed in color. It’s worth noting that five novels based on the television series, including three written by Murray Leinster, would be published while the series aired. 

A decade later, we have a miniseries on that took Robert Bloch and six other scriptwriters to please Irwin Allen, The Return of Captain Nemo (theatrical title when a shorten, possibly more coherent version had a screen run was The Amazing Captain Nemo).  It has been considered an attempt by him to duplicate the success of his Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It didn’t. 

Finally I’ll note that he was responsible for it happening in all aspects possible, a music version of Alice in Wonderland. It aired on CBS over two nights in 1985, and it had an amazing cast of Natalie Gregory (Alice here), Red Buttons, Anthony Newley, Jayne Meadows, Carol Channing, Sammy Davis Jr., Roddy McDowall, Ann Jillian, Pat Morita and Robert Morley. It has an extraordinary rating of eighty-five percent over at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) SPAM OF THE DAY. I got an email from the IMF today. My immediate reaction was, “What a wonderful scam – an email from the Impossible Missions Force!” But I was wrong. They were only pretending to be from the International Monetary Fund, offering to let me tap into a 850,000 Euro victims compensation fund. Since the email was not going to self-destruct in five seconds, I helped it along.

(9) HOW DO IT KNOW? (To borrow a line from an old comedy routine.) “The puzzle of emergence asks how regularities emerge on macro scales out of uncountable constituent parts. A new framework has researchers hopeful that a solution is near.” “The New Math of How Large-Scale Order Emerges” in Quanta Magazine.

A few centuries ago, the swirling polychromatic chaos of Jupiter’s atmosphere spawned the immense vortex that we call the Great Red Spot…

…A complex system exhibits emergence, according to the new framework, by organizing itself into a hierarchy of levels that each operate independently of the details of the lower levels. The researchers suggest we think about emergence as a kind of “software in the natural world.” Just as the software of your laptop runs without having to keep track of all the microscale information about the electrons in the computer circuitry, so emergent phenomena are governed by macroscale rules that seem self-contained, without heed to what the component parts are doing.

Using a mathematical formalism called computational mechanics, the researchers identified criteria for determining which systems have this kind of hierarchical structure. They tested these criteria on several model systems known to display emergent-type phenomena, including neural networks and Game-of-Life-style cellular automata. Indeed, the degrees of freedom, or independent variables, that capture the behavior of these systems at microscopic and macroscopic scales have precisely the relationship that the theory predicts….

(10) ALL MUST CHOOSE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] If you don’t like the menu, please don’t behead the servers! The Mile End Deli in Brooklyn will offer House of Dragons-themed food on Father’s Day:

(11) DORNE TO THE SEA IN SHIPS. Meanwhile, “A ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel Has Been Revived, Says George RR Martin” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Martin revealed that the Princess Nymeria prequel Ten Thousand Ships is alive again and making progress under a new writer — Eboni Booth, who won a Pulitzer Prize in May for her play Primary Trust.

“She’s an amazingly talented young playwright, and a joy to work with; when not writing and producing her prize-winning plays on- and off-Broadway, she has been kept busy by me and HBO, working on a new pilot for Ten Thousand Ships, a Game of Thrones spinoff about Nymeria and the Rhoynar,” Martin wrote on his blog. “We’re all very excited about this one … though we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to pay for 10,000 ships, 300 dragons and those giant turtles.”

Set 1,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series tells the story of warrior queen Princess Nymeria — the founder of the kingdom of Dorne — and the surviving Rhoynars who traveled from Essos to Dorne following their defeat by Valyrian and their dragons. HBO had no comment on the update….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And making the rounds this week: “Elijah Wood Gets a Burger Master Class” at Burger Bucket List.

How do you impress a world-class eater like actor Elijah Wood? Go crazy with research, find out what he wants, and make it happen. Trust us, we dug deep for this tasting menu: Japanese luxury, pizza nostalgia, and the ‘One Burger to Rule Them All.’ We think Frodo and the other hobbits would approve. From a Lord of the Rings surprise, to a Wilfred cameo, this career-spanning meal packs it all in. Welcome to the Elijah Wood Burger Omakase.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Mike Ward, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Cliff, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]


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24 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/12/24 Pixels Were Scrolled

  1. Yesterday’s post wouldn’t let me. Today, it let me post the word test, but nothing more.
    (3) Consider it in its time. Don’t expect it to think the way you do now.
    (5) Can’t a parent challenge a challenge?
    Birthday: Nick Pollata was the program at a PSFS meeting in the late 70’s. He spoke of the special effects on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and leaning, ran one way, then leaning the other, ran the other way. Seat belts? What?
    (8) What, you didn’t register for them to give you money? Whyever not…?

  2. @Paul Weimer
    I don’t think that’s a brioche bun – it looks like some kind of garnish speared on top.
    It does look a little overfilled, though.

  3. 6) No, LiS was not based on Swiss Family Robinson.
    However, Gold Key published a comic called Space Family Robinson beginning in 1962, which was derivative of Swiss Family R.
    Did Irwin Allen know about it?
    Well: Allen was certainly aware of Gold Key, because in December of 1964, Gold Key began publishing a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea comic, and, per Wikipedia, LiS was “conceptualized” in 1965. It undoubtedly took some time for Allen and Gold Key to reach an agreement on the Voyage comic, and more time to design, write, and draw that first issue. And, early in the negotiations, Gold Key would have provided Allen some samples of their “product” to show that his show would be in good hands with them.
    Last bit of evidence: Gold Key considered suing Allen over LiS, but, not wanting to lose the Voyage comic (and, possibly, because LiS spiked sales of Space F.R. somewhat), they ultimately decided against it. The successors as copyright holder to the comic also considered suing over the 1998 movie of LiS, but — for whatever reasons — again decided against it.

  4. @P J Evans
    “I don’t think that’s a brioche bun ”
    The menu says “Brioche Bun”.
    Sure doesn’t look like it ought to be $15, though.

  5. (3) Whether or not the Federation and/or Starfleet is sexist, that particular episode is deeply sexist.

    (6) Irwin Allen was responsible for more of my 1960s entertainment than I want to admit. Those shows were a lot of fun, for someone whose critical faculties weren’t fully developed yet, okay?

  6. (3) @mark–No, “Turnabout Intruder” was an effing sexist episode by any standard, even if it had aired in the 50s, never mind the late sixties. Janice Lester was written as determined to be a starship captain because she couldn’t accept that, as a woman, she was obviously unsuited to the role.

    And remember, I was an 11yo in a family with fairly traditional ideas in many ways.

  7. (8) I once received an email that claimed to be from “Z. Beeblebrox.” As I commented at the time, I wouldn’t have trusted that one even if I wasn’t sure it was spam.

  8. (3) That wasn’t one of their better episodes, in a season that isn’t noted for good episodes.

  9. (3) As I recall it, “women can’t be starship captains” was presented as a self-evident fact of nature, the only problem being Lester’s hysterical refusal to accept that (how like a woman). It was condescending and sneering for its time and has not improved since.

  10. (3) The noxious premise of Turnabout Intruder was thankfully retconned into oblivion by subsequent series of the franchise. In particular, ST: Discovery, which begins as a prequel to TOS, thoroughly refutes it by giving us a female captain in its very first episode, as well as female admirals at Starfleet Command (some of whom probably served as captains of starships previously in their careers).

  11. The levels of irony in that cycle of bans go deep. The school board members supporting the ban accused it of “teaching rebellion of school-board authority.” I assume they meant rebellion “against school-board authority” and would have said that if they were better educated. A group that calls itself “Moms for Liberty” wanted to exclude books that teach rebellion.

  12. Obedience is Liberty!
    War is Peace!
    (And the favorite)Ignorance is Strength

  13. 3) They had the perfect finale right there and they had to go and add that episode.

    But that was at another con, and besides, the pixel is scrolled.

  14. (8) An offer from the real IMF would expire in a matter of seconds and would be disavowed anyway.

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