Pixel Scroll 6/13/22 Life’s Like A Pixel; Scroll Your Own Ending

(1) NOT QUIET ON THE BOOKSTORE FRONT. Sergej Sumlenny tweeted a long thread about “How [the] Russian book market prepared Russians for a full-scale war against Ukraine, NATO, the West, and promoted stalinism and nazism, and how this was ignored by the West.” Thread starts here. Some excerpts:

(2) THE BUZZ. Sam Stone returns an enthusiastic verdict on “Pixar’s Lightyear” at CBR.com. If it has a fault, it’s that the movie doesn’t swing for the fences as hard as it should.

… The animation team similarly pulls out all the stops to make Lightyear a memorable sci-fi film, with a visual style that feels very much its own thing compared with the Toy Story movies while retaining that sense of familiarity. Drawing from a whole line of sci-fi influences, Lightyear evokes the sensibilities of classic ’80s sci-fi cinema, from the Space Rangers’ tech and vehicles to the creepy extraterrestrials prowling the planet where Buzz and his friends have crashed. With its time-bending concepts and a genuine sense of heart, Lightyear earns its place among that pantheon of great science fiction….

(3) WHO LEFT THE GRAVITY TURNED ON? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I’m up to February 2019 in my New Yorkers (you may report me to the magazine control board!) but I thought this Talk Of The Town piece was interesting: “When ‘Spaceman’ Came Crashing Down to Earth”.

… On February 22nd of last year, “Spaceman” made its début at the Wild Project, an eighty-nine-seat theatre in the East Village. The set was a room-size contraption made of welded steel and Plexiglas, fitted with buzzers and keyboards and a chair that spins on a truss. The production simulated zero gravity using low-light effects and a puppeteer. After the show, Treadway, feeling good about the performance, came out for a bow in her spacesuit. As she walked off the stage, she tripped over a speaker. She broke her fall with her arms, then popped back up and made a “clumsy old me” face.

“Then I walked backstage and was, like, whoa,” she recalled. “I realized I couldn’t even take my costume off.” Stevens helped her change clothes, and they took an Uber to a clinic in Red Hook. The doctor informed Treadway that she had broken both elbows and her left wrist. (“The woman at physical therapy said it’s an injury that a lot of break dancers have,” she said.) She would need hard casts for a week, and then splints. They would have to cancel the entire three-week run. Stevens recalled, “The next morning, I’m drafting an e-mail to everybody telling them the news, and I’m looking through all these e-mails from people saying, ‘Break a leg!’ ” He laughed ruefully. “I never want to hear that phrase again.”…

(4) THE DOOR INTO MUMMER. FirstShowing.net introduces a “Fun Trailer for Aliens vs Swordsmen Epic Sci-Fi ‘Alienoid’ from Korea”.

“How long do we have to stay on Earth?” CJ Entertainment in Korea has revealed the first international trailer for an epic sci-fi movie called Alienoid. Actually it’s two movies! This “Part 1” will be out in July in Korea, though no US date is set yet. During the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), Taoists try to take a mysterious holy sword. Meanwhile in present day (in 2022), aliens appear on Earth. A time door soon connects the late Goryeo period and the present day. The two parties cross paths when a time-traveling portal opens, causing chaos and confusion…. 

(5) AIYEE! SYFY Wire promises these are “The Star Trek movies’ 12 most disturbing moments”. First on the list:


Here’s one way to get rid of a science officer. Sonak is a Vulcan prepped to take the place of Spock at the start of the first Star Trek movie. His tenure in the position is quite short. Thanks to a random transporter malfunction, he (and the person he transports over to the Enterprise with) dies a gruesome death. 

Transporter malfunctions happen all the time, but this is not “The Next Phase” or “Tuvix.” These two people are dead, and it looks (and sounds) horrific. What little of them is recovered does not last long. That’s what Admiral Kirk is told, anyway. 

People make light of McCoy not wanting to use the transporter a little later in the movie, but after this? Damn right he shouldn’t use it, especially since the accident was so random and is never really addressed. It’s not a transporter, it’s a character killer. What did Sonak ever do to deserve it? Highly illogical and highly disturbing. 


1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago, a rather charming film premiered in syndication this evening as produced by Paramount. The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything was based on the novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald who of course did the Travis McGee series. I know it watched it and I know I liked even four decades on.

It was written by George Zateslo who hadn’t written anything prior to this save an episode of CHIPS. After writing this, he’d write the script for the sequel, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite

The two cast members to note here are Robert Hays as Kirby Winter and Pam Dawber as Bonny Lee Beaumont. That because the story is — SPOILER ALERT — rather a thin SF plot involving a young male who inherits a gold watch that inherits from his millionaire uncle a gold watch that has the power to stop time. A series of rather unlikely and comic adventures ensue. And yes there’s a girl involved. END OF SPOILER ALERT. 

An episode of the Twilight Zone, “A Kind of Stop Watch”, has essentially the same story as that of “The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything”. A lot of Twilight Zone fans would claim very loudly that McDonald ripped off Serling’s script. The episode, however, aired in October of 1963, the year after the publication of the novel on which the movie is based. Sigh. 

Neither film appears to streaming anywhere, nor does it appear to be available for purchase. Huh.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 13, 1893 — Dorothy Sayers. I absolutely love her mysteries. I think the Lord Peter Wimsey series are among the best mysteries ever done. And I thought that Ian Carmichael made a most excellent Lord Peter Wimsey in the Seventies Clouds of Witness series. Now to the matter at hand, ISFDB often surprises me and having her listed as writing four stories in the genre did it again. All of them were written in the Thirties and here they are: “The Cyprian Cat”, “The Cave of Ali Baba”, “Bitter Almonds” and “The Leopard Lady”. So, who here has read them and can comment on them being genre or not? (Died 1957)
  • Born June 13, 1892 — Basil Rathbone. He’s best remembered for being Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series of the same period. For films other than these, I’ll single out The Adventures of Robin Hood (after all Robin Hood is fantasy), Son of Frankenstein and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. (Died 1967.)
  • Born June 13, 1903 — Frederick Stephani. Screenwriter and film director who is best remembered for co-writing and directing the 13-chapter Flash Gordon serial in 1936. He directed Johnny Weissmuller‘s Tarzan’s New York Adventure (aka Tarzan Against the World). He was also an uncredited writer on 1932’s Dracula. (Died 1962.)
  • Born June 13, 1929 — Ralph McQuarrie. Conceptual designer and illustrator. He worked on the original Star Wars trilogy, the first Battlestar GalacticaStar Wars Holiday Special (well somebody had to, didn’t they?), CocoonRaiders of the Lost Ark, Nightbreed, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home andE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialAll of his work is quite stellar. Literally. Pun fully intended. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell, 79. My favorite role for him was Mr. Roarke on the second rebooted Fantasy Island. (Still haven’t seen either of the recent versions.) Of course, his most infamous role was Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Scary film that was and yes, I saw it in the theater. His characterization of H. G. Wells in Time After Time was I thought rather spot on. And I’d like to single out his voicing Arcady Duvall in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Remember the truly awful Will Smith starred Wild Wild West film? Of course you do unfortunately. Here is the same premise with Jonah Hex involved instead as written by Joe R. Lansdale. Go watch it as it is a stellar script and of course everything is perfect. 
  • Born June 13, 1949 — Simon Callow, 73. English actor, musician, writer, and theatre director. So what’s he doing here? Well he got to be Charles Dickens twice on Doctor Who, the first being in “The Unquiet Dead” during the time of the Ninth Doctor and then later during “The Wedding of River Song”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’d also appear, though not as Dickens, on The Sarah Jane Adventures as the voice of Tree Blathereen in “The Gift” episode. I’ve not watched the series. How is this series? He was also The Duke of Sandringham in the first season of Outlander. And he did have a role in Shakespeare in Love which I claim is genre. As of late, he’s been on Hawkeye as Armand Duquesne III in the pilot episode.
  • Born June 13, 1953 — Tim Allen, 69. Jason Nesmith in the much beloved Galaxy Quest. (Which of course won a much deserved Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon 2000.) He actually had a big hit several years previously voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story which would be the first in what would become a long-running film franchise.
  • Born June 13, 1963 — Audrey Niffenegger, 59. Her first novel was The Time Traveler’s Wife. She has stated in interviews that she will not see the film or the series as only the characters in the novels are hers. Good for her. (I’ve stated before that I don’t watch films or the series based on novels that I really like.)  Raven Girl, her third novel about a couple whose child is a raven trapped in a human body, was turned into performance at the Royal Opera House. Oh, and her Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories is, well, chillingly delicious.


(9) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? “Taika Waititi’s Star Wars Script Is Still Not Finished” he tells CBR.com.

Taika Waititi has revealed that he is still hard at work finishing the script for his upcoming Star Wars movie.

In an interview with Screen Rant, Waititi explained where he’s currently at in the writing process for his untitled film and how he approached tying his script into the wider Star Wars universe. “That’s yet to be seen. I don’t know. I’m still writing. I’m still coming up with the ideas and storylining it and just wanted to make sure that it feels like a Star Wars film,” he said. “Because, I could say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll just write any old thing and set in space and then put Star Wars on the front.’ But it wouldn’t be a Star Wars film without certain elements and a certain treatment, so I’ve just got to make sure that it stays within that wheelhouse.”…

(10) UTTERLY MADE UP. GameRant walks us through the development of the alien tongue: “Star Trek: The Klingon Language, Explained”. Dr. Marc Okrand’s 1985 book The Klingon Dictionary sold over 300,000 copies.

The Klingons have been a steady part of Star Trek right from the beginning, starting out as the main antagonists in The Original Series and progressing to tentative friends in series to follow. Roddenberry took a leaf out of Tolkien’s book, and created the Klingon language to flesh out the culture. In doing so, he was able to add a depth of realism to his fictional race that’s not often seen even today (with a few exceptions). Instead of a bare-bones array of random sounds, the language has its own vocabulary and grammar, even its own regional dialects. The language was not always present in its fullest form, and developed slowly alongside the show. The first Klingons during the main TV series simply spoke in English, with the audience first hearing their guttural tones during the Star Trek: The Motion Picture film in 1979….

(11) SO MANY TITLES. What should File 770’s headline be for Science Alert’s story “A Hitchhiking Rock Has Traveled With The Perseverance Rover For More Than 120 Days”? Mike Kennedy couldn’t decide on one, so he sent them all.

  • Rock and Roll, OR
  • (The) Rolling Stone, OR
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned, OR
  • (Just) Along For The Ride, OR
  • Pet Rock, OR
  • Moss-free, OR
  • Stone Cold, OR
  • The Stones Must Roll, OR
  • probably dozens more

Roaming Mars is a lonely existence for NASA’s Perseverance, but the exploratory rover now has a traveling companion: a hitchhiking “pet rock” that got stuck in one of its wheels.

Luckily, the Martian stone won’t impact the rover’s science mission and is only a minor inconvenience  – like having a pebble stuck in your shoe. 

Perseverance’s front-left wheel accidentally picked up the pet rock on Feb. 4, or Sol 341 – the 341st Martian day of the Martian year, according to a statement by NASA.

The rock has periodically photobombed images taken by the rover’s front-left Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam).

Recent images show that the rock is still tumbling along with Perseverance 126 days (123 sols) after it first hitched a ride. (A sol, or Martian day, is just 37 minutes longer than an Earth day.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

26 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/13/22 Life’s Like A Pixel; Scroll Your Own Ending

  1. Can it be? Yes! Another subscriber notification went out for a Scroll. I’m going to appertain a Diet Mountain Dew to celebrate!

  2. Thanks for the title credit!

    (6) Spider Robinson (an avid John D. MacDonald fan) used a Watch like this one in one of his Lady Sally stories (in the Lady Slings the Booze collection as I recall).

  3. Time After Time, with Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen, and David Warner’s amazing genuinely scary, realistic crazy (not movie crazy) is still one of my favorite films.

    Galaxy Quest: I was one of the hosts at the Hugo Losers’ party, and met the director and scriptwriter. Among the things they said was that they always felt out of place in Hollywood… and for the first time, they felt like they belonged in fandom, at Worldcon. Saw them in the Mpls in ’73 party, around 03:00, so they really meant it.

  4. mark: At the Chicon 2000 Hugo nominees reception I sat down with Glen Boettcher and Nancy Mildebrandt. Glen was buoyant because Jeff Walker had designated him to accept the Hugo if The Matrix, Iron Giant or Sixth Sense won. Ten seconds after he explained that to me word passed through the room that the script writer and producer of Galaxy Quest had arrived in person, and Glen started to worry that pair would beat his three aces.

    And that’s what happened. Galaxy Quest defeated the box office champions to win the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. Writer Robert Gordon and director Dean Parisot accepted the award. Gordon spoke for what felt like five minutes – saying all the right things – before leaving the floor to Parisot who simply remarked, “This is the oddest but most entertaining event I’ve ever been to”, then walked offstage leaving the Hugo on the podium. I’m convinced that was a deliberate bit of humorous improvisation on his part. Either way, after allowing the audience to roar for a moment he came back and reclaimed his hardware.

  5. I absolutely loathe what Okrand did to the Klingon language. He ignored everything about Klingon words that the original series had established and changed it to fit his own personal taste (he specifically ranted about hard K sounds being a linguistic stereotype for a villainous language). If he didn’t like what had been established about the language in canon, then maybe he should have chosen to pass on that project.

  6. Can y’all talk to me about Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon series? I will readily admit that I’ve not partaken of it and am curious if I should. What are your opinions about it?

  7. @Troyce
    I hate what they’ve done with Vulcan and Romulan language, also. (And the written language! Do they not realize that characters aren’t just pretty markings?)

    Before anyone hits me about human writing: I can recognize, if not read, a lot of human scripts. I have trouble telling the south and southeast Asian ones apart, though I can tell they’re not alike, but I live in a county where some public stuff comes in 20 languages.

  8. Mike – Gordon told Parisot they were up for a Hugo, and that they should go. And Gordon told me the group bow at the end, showing that they all had grown, was something Parisot decided should happen, and they were both appreciative when I told them I, and most folks I knew, thought it was perfect.

  9. Cat – Callahan’s is very good. His use of puns isn’t overwhelming, as Piers Anthony’s was, and his touch is right.

  10. I thought the TV movie version of The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything was pretty flaccid compared to the sharpness of the John D. MacDonald novel.

    Don Rosa did a great Donald Duck comic book version of this called “On Stolen Time” — without even knowing about the novel.

  11. Cat–I’m somewhat afraid to revisit the Callahan stories. They were uproaringly fun when I read them as a teen in the ’70s; but I have a strong feeling that the Suck Fairy might have appeared nowadays. They were a bit…um…sexist, as I now recall.

  12. Dorothy Sayers and genre… think I’ve done this before…. “Cyprian Cat” is genre, “Cave of Ali Baba” is questionably genre (if you think of the voice-recognition lock on the vault as being an SF gadget, although it’s explained with strictly mundane technology), “Leopard Lady” involves faking supernatural elements in a non-genre way, “Bitter Almonds” is flat-out not genre (the cyanide-flavoured liqueur involved is absolutely real, and the dangers of taking the first glass from an old bottle are perfectly genuine.)

  13. @Cat: I read one of them maybe 20-ish years ago and came out of it vowing to never read another Spider Robinson book ever again.

  14. Jake says I read one of them maybe 20-ish years ago and came out of it vowing to never read another Spider Robinson book ever again.

    Ok, now I’m really curious. Why so?

    I do have a bar based novel i bounced off hard but it’s not one of his.

  15. 6) The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything: I recall reading the book as part of a John D. MacDonald omnibus from the SF Book Club, and enjoying it. Then James Nicoll came along and pointed out how the ending takes gang rape and plays it for comedy, and that kind of spoiled it.

    7) Dorothy Sayers: Ian Carmichael played Lord Peter Wimsey in quite a few audio adaptations of the books as well, including Clouds of Witness. I recall them as being very good indeed.

    When I was in my teens and twenties, I was a big fan of Callahan’s. As the series progressed, the stories got progressively more self-indulgent: no, I don’t need to read several pages about the magnificent automatic Irish Coffee-maker that is the best thing ever because everyone in the world adores Irish Coffee, thank you very much.

    And even the original stuff hasn’t aged wonderfully. One that sticks with me from the very first volume is the story which is a fantasy of exculpation in which humanity turns out not to be responsible for the Holocaust…which story itself, in this process, becomes a textbook example of precisely the kind of thinking which caused the Holocaust. A tour de force if Robinson did that deliberately, but I find it hard to convince myself that he did.

  16. @Cat: Time has fogged the details but I do remember a lot of unpleasant sex stuff (checking some reviews reminds me most or all of it was the nonconsensual kind) and an awful lot of ‘look how clever I the author am’ smuggery.

  17. Ok, y’all have convinced that I will likely skip the Callahan’s Bar stories. It’s not as if I don’t have a very long list anyways. (He glances at that list and pales.) I keep trying to convince myself to start Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody mystery series. Anyone read these?

    Still listening to Halting State which is holding up quite well.

  18. Charlie Stross did a really good job writing second person PoV & did the same for its sequel Rule 34. And there are in-narrative reasons for the PoV in both. It’s not easy to pull it off.

    Sadly there aren’t any more planned in that setting, real world politics are so volatile as to make trying to write anything set in the near-future futile (unless we’re prepared to consider them all alternate reality takes).

  19. Appropos of nothing: While checking some old history I came across this note about the 1978 Westercon film program which tickled me:

    TOBOR THE GREAT will not appear because the copy was sent to the Hotel COD and naturally was refused and sent back. In its place we have the classic in the Budget Films catalogue which hasn’t been decided on yet.

  20. Soon Lee says Sadly there aren’t any more planned in that setting, real world politics are so volatile as to make trying to write anything set in the near-future futile (unless we’re prepared to consider them all alternate reality takes).

    But they are set in an alternate reality given that Scotland has become independent some decade in the past as the story begins. So real-world politics has nothing to do with them, do they?

  21. (1) There seem to be some twitterish simplifications or errors in Mr Sumlenny’s English and Russian: “popadantsy” aren’t so much “literally ‘appearers'” as “fallen-through”; perhaps a truly idiomatic translation would be timeslippers. I see there’s already a Wikipedia entry, somewhat unexpectedly at “Accidental_travel” but with interesting links.

    (6) As mentioned recently, I love MacDonald. Still, I somehow got bogged in The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything rather soon and put it aside. Should try again someday…

    As for Callahan’s, in my twenties I tried some early ones, or now I think I came across a relatively late one in a magazine and was all the more confused. I can enjoy Spider Robinson and didn’t get to the problematic topics, but hate puns, self-indulgence and look-how-clever-I-am, so steered clear from further ones.

    (7) Oh, you meant TV! This “series based on books” got me confused for a while.

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