Pixel Scroll 6/21/18 It’s A World Of Fiction, A World Of Smiles, It’s A World Of Pixels In Daily Files

(1) THE FRUITS OF VICTORY. Mark Lawrence posted a photo of the award being sent to the winner of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: “Where Loyalties Lie wins the PRESTIGIOUS SPFBO Selfie Stick!”

Yes, that time has come again. Following Where Loyalties Lies’ defeat of 299 other fantasy books in SPFBO 2017, it remained only for me to commission the fabled craftspeople of somewhere with low labour costs to fashion the third SPFBO Selfie Stick award.

This exquisite award, carved by hand from finest polymer resin has no association whatsoever with any wizarding school. So shut up.

(2) MORE SPFBO FUN. David H. introduced Filers to the “SPFBO title generator” in a comment:

My favorite titles generated were “The Legacy Shadow of the Legacy Shipwreck” and “The Brutal Raven of the Last Faces.” Someone got “The Foolish Oath of the Necromancer,” which sounds great, too.

I gave it a whirl and got The Spinning Kingdom of the Rise

(3) SFF IN TURKEY. The Economist explores “Why Turkish students are turning to speculative fiction”.

…In this difficult climate, speculative fiction has thrived as students turn to magical worlds to understand the grimness of the real one. A hundred books in the genre are being published in the country each year. Fantasy Fiction clubs continue to grow as students gather together to wage good against evil in unfettered realms. Istanbul University Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (BKFK), resurrected in the autumn of 2016, now claims more than 150 members. Fantasy has so far avoided the censors’ displeasure, though two men were indicted for “publicly denigrating” president Recep Tayyip Erdogan by likening him to Gollum, a character in “The Lord of the Rings” (one has since been acquitted).

“Despite what the name suggests, this genre is very interconnected with life,” writes Asli, the editor of Siginak, a fantasy-fiction magazine run by students (throughout this piece we refer to students only by their first names in the interests of their safety). In her story, titled “R-09 and Pluto”, two artificially intelligent robots contemplate the limits of their brains. Humans, the bots agree, are afraid of their creation’s potential power, so rules are designed to limit the use of their full intellect and to keep them from questioning authority. What could happen, one bot suggests, if they broke those rules and freed their minds?

(4) DANGEROUS VISIONS. Jonathan Cowie draws attention to BBC Radio 4’s new season of Dangerous Visions SF dramas: “Dangerous Visions: back… with a difference!” They include –

  • A 5-part drama (45 minute episodes) called First World Problems in which Britain fractures into civil war and a family with a Down’s syndrome teenager has to make some tough decisions.
  • A one-off 45 minute play called Freedom.

Marian has always told her son, Jamie, that it is fine to be gay, fine to be who you really are and that, in years to come, of course it will be possible for him to marry another man or adopt children.

All this changes when a newly elected coalition government decides political correctness has got out of hand and passes a Freedom Law that licenses both the freedom to say whatever you like, however hateful, and the right not to be offended. Now Jamie has to decide how to be true to himself in a society where intolerance has become acceptable, and Marian confronts what she might need to do to keep him safe.

An absorbing play about the political becoming personal and how an apparently liberal society can threaten those who don’t conform.

  • A one-off 45 minute play called Speak.

Lucian has a vocabulary that is limited to a core 1500 words, but Clara wants to teach him those that are forbidden. A dystopian love story about the power of words, set in a near future where the language spoken is Globish – a reduced version of English.

The OED lists 171,476 English words in current use. The average adult native English speaker has an active vocabulary of about 35,000 – 50,000 words. But studies suggest our vocabularies are shrinking.

Globish is a real international business language, developed in 2004, made up of the most common 1500 English words. It is designed to promote international communication in the global economy. ‘Speak’ imagines a future in which Globish has become the official language.

A gripping two-hander about the power of words; how words – and even more, the absence of words – can control, confine, leach emotion and trap minds.

(5) INKLINGS BEGINS. Brenton Dickieson recounts a bit of literary history with the help of a Lewis biographer: “The First Meeting of the Inklings, with George Sayer”.

For years no regular event delighted Jack more than the Thursday evening meetings of the little group of friends called the Inklings. His was the second group to use this name. Its predecessor was founded in about 1930 by a University College undergraduate named Tangye Lean. Members met in each other’s rooms to read aloud their poems and other work. There would be discussion, criticism, encouragement, and frivolity, all washed down with wine or beer. Lean’s group consisted mainly of students, but a few sympathetic dons were invited to join, including Tolkien and Jack, who may have been Lean’s tutor. Lean graduated in June 1933, and that autumn Jack first used the name the Inklings to describe the group that had already begun to meet in his rooms.

It was always utterly informal. There were no rules, no officers, and certainly no agenda. To become a member, one had to be invited, usually by Jack. Nearly all members were his friends.

(6) BABY’S BIRTHDAY. BBC recalls “The ‘Baby’ that ushered in modern computer age”.

A machine that took up an entire room at a laboratory in Manchester University ran its first programme at 11am on 21 June 1948.

The prototype completed the task in 52 minutes, having run through 3.5 million calculations.

The Manchester Baby, known formally as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, was the world’s first stored-program computer.

(7) GOLDEN AGE. Steven H Silver celebrates an author’s natal day in “Birthday Reviews: Cleve Cartmill’s ‘Huge Beast’” at Black Gate.

Cleve Cartmill was born on June 21, 1908 and died on February 11, 1964. Cartmill also used the name Michael Corbin when he had two stories appearing in the same issue of Unknown Worlds in 1943.

He is perhaps best known for his story “Deadline,” which appeared in the March 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. The story was discussed at Los Alamos, where Edward Teller noted that Cartmill had described aspects of their research in detail. The discussion led to an FBI investigation into Cartmill, Campbell, and some other science fiction authors. Cartmill is said to have had a low opinion of the story, himself.

(8) OCTAVIA BUTLER GOOGLE DOODLE. Google is honoring Octavia Butler’s birthday, June 22, with this artwork:

(9) IN THE BACK YARD. Jeff VanderMeer is not a gardener’s typical customer:

(10) OUT OF THE TOOLBOX. Nancy Kress shared these humorous highlights from the Taos Toolbox critiques:

At Taos Toolbox, Carrie Vaughn gave a great talk on goal setting and handling a long series. We also had two lectures, Walter’s and mine, and critiqued four manuscripts — a long day. Memorable quote from the critiques:

“I love when she stuffs the alien pterodactyl shell down her bra.”

“Space seems to have been colonized only by Germans.”

“You can’t really hide a pulsar.”

“It needs to be clearer that the starfish and the librarians are different species.”

“I love that she gave away Mars.”

“WTF did I just read — in a good way!”

“It’s Guardians of the Galaxy meets House of Usher.”

“There are too few bicycles in fantasy. Gandalf would have ridden a Cannondale.”

“You might want to put some people on the planet who aren’t dumb as stumps.”

(11) THE SKY’S NOT THE ONLY LIMIT. Multiple record-holding astronaut Peggy Whitson is retiring from NASA, in large part because she’s been in space so long (over several missions) that she’s hit her lifetime radiation limit. Among other things, Whitson, holds the U.S. record for the most cumulative time in space. She’s been the oldest female astronaut in space (57), the oldest female spacewalker, and has the record for the most spacewalks by a woman (10). She was also the first female chief of the Astronaut Office—she stepped down from that in 2012 so she could fly more missions.

SYFY Wire says “Everyone should know Peggy Whitson’s name”.

This doesn’t come as a huge shock; there’s actually a very good, practical reason that Whitson stepped down. Anyone that is outside the protection of the Earth’s atmosphere is exposed to higher levels of radiation. There are yearly exposure limits, as well as lifetime limits, established by NASA. Whitson is so well-traveled that this has become a problem. “I have hit my radiation limit,” she told Business Insider. As a result, she can no longer fly in space through NASA

A BBC News video story about what she had to overcome — “100 Women: Astronaut Peggy Whitson on being told she’d never go to space”.

Quoting the NASA press release, “Record-Setting NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires”:

“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”

Whitson, a native of Beaconsfield, Iowa, first came to NASA in 1986 as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She served in a number of scientific roles, including project scientist for the Shuttle-Mir Program and co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group, before her selection to the astronaut corps in 1996.

“It has been the utmost honor to have Peggy Whitson represent our entire NASA Flight Operations team,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson. “She set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe. Godspeed, Peg.”

As an astronaut, Whitson completed three long-duration missions to the International Space Station, setting records on each. She made her first trip in 2002 as part of Expedition 5, during which she took part in 21 science investigations and became NASA’s first space station science officer. In 2008, Whitson returned on Expedition 16 and became the first female commander of the space station.

During her most recent mission, spanning Expeditions 50, 51 and 52 from November 2016 to September 2017, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station twice (Expedition 51). She also claimed the title for most spacewalks by a woman – 10 spacewalks totaling 60 hours and 21 minutes – and set the record for most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut at 665 days.

(12) RETURN OF SARAH CONNOR. Any dedicated Terminator fans in the house? You guys have your own website!

TheTerminatorFans.com has pictures from the set of the upcoming Terminator movie showing Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor: “Exclusive First Look at Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator (2019)”.

(13) MASS DEFECT. Today’s issue of Nature reports some (just some) of the universe’s missing mass seems to have been found.

(14) SEA LEVEL. Another Nature comment paper (open access) assesses whether “Sea-level rise could overwhelm coral reefs” [PDF file]. Research paper abstract here, also behind a paywall if you’re not a Nature subscriber.

(15) LAST JEDI REMAKERS. ULTRAGOTHA asks: “Have you seen this? Some, er, I can’t actually call them fans, are evidently attempting to raise money to re-make a DISNEY property. Presumably to get rid of POC and Girl Cooties. Or maybe they’re not raising money and some ‘Producers’ have pledged to pay for this?  What producer in his right mind would think he could get away with meddling with a Disney property, or that Disney would agree to this?”

Chuck Wendig has some questions for them in this Twitter thread.


Travis Clark, in “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson taunted a campaign to remake the movie” on Business Insider, says somebody on Twitter using the account Remake The Last Jedi claims to have enough money to remake Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a claim mocked by many, including Rian Johnson:

(16) GENRE BLENDING. “Hong Kong sci-fi film mixes robots and Chinese opera” (video).

Featuring flying warrior robots and guitar-toting opera singers, Hong Kong animation Dragon’s Delusion aims to break stereotypes of Chinese culture.

Its producers are now making a feature-length film after a successful crowdfunding exercise.

[Thanks to rob_matic, John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Lurkertype, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, and David H. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

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80 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/21/18 It’s A World Of Fiction, A World Of Smiles, It’s A World Of Pixels In Daily Files

  1. (10) Looks at those comments.
    Looks at her own incomplete outline/synopsis for NaNoWriMo

    (15) Hmmm
    Tosses out crappy outline/synopsis thingie.
    Pens screenplay for Rose: A Star Wars Story

    In your face Last Jedi Haters. When the Rose movie gets made I’m going to take hundreds of pictures of cats sleeping on the bluray case, so there!

  2. (2) I got The Foolish Feeding of the Foolish Cave. I’m not sure if feeding the cave is foolish because giving food to geographical features is silly or because it’s some kind of living eldritch abomination deal and it’s a bad idea to encourage it.

    Either way, I am wondering if Franziska von Karma chose this title.

  3. (2) I got The Scrolling Pixel of the Pixel Scroll.


    (15) Chuck Wendig is a delight.

    (11) Total badass. Yes, everybody should know who she is and I’m glad I know a little of what she’s done now.

  4. (15) It’s a little-known rule — well, it’s well-known on Broadway, where it originates, but it’s very seldom invoked in film: Script changes within one year of release actually go back and supersede the original material, erasing it from existence and memory almost entirely. So it’s possible, but they’re gonna need to hurry.

    In fact, the only known previous occurrence was when they decided to overwrite the Sinbad genie movie with Shaquille O’Neil.

  5. Happy midsummer everyone! Today I shall be celebrating our national day by tenting alone in the rain.

  6. @Hampus Eckerman Err, if that’s how you like to celebrate I’ll not judge. Just gotta ask though, have you tried maybe pizza, beer, and not being out in the rain?

  7. @Iphinome, Hampus:

    I’ll take the pizza, but if I’m going to get caught in the rain, I prefer piña coladas to beer.

  8. @rochrist: I LOL’d, but OTOH, I’m always kind of heartbroken by the Star Wars Kid meme. It’s just… straight-up cruel. And bringing it back for this is just… nope.

  9. ” Err, if that’s how you like to celebrate I’ll not judge. Just gotta ask though, have you tried maybe pizza, beer, and not being out in the rain?”

    Yes, but it is traditional to be outside in the rain on midsummer. It is also traditional to complain about the rain. Brings out the nostalgia of other happy rainy midsummers.

    And on midsummer, we do aquavit.

  10. An excellent observation by @definitelyvita on Twitter:

    *whispers* they could just write fanfiction like the thousands of women/poc/queer ppl who are traditionally completely ignored by mainstream fiction narratives but know better than to throw ridiculous public tantrums…

  11. Haha, thanks for picking up my comment for a File 770 item, I feel honored! However, I realized that I didn’t properly credit my friend who made it, /u/improperly_paranoid, who posted it to this Reddit thread here. It was something she threw together late at night, hence some potential code ugliness. And the word repeats are intended, as I found when I got the title “The Gang of Gang.”

  12. It’s midwinter down here but we still celebrate with beer… but then Australians tend to celebrate a lot of things with beer.

  13. Swiped this ancient Egyptian quote from an Alice Brook whilst perusing the Wombats twitter feed

    “A scroll is more useful than a pinted stela, than a solid wall. (Books) erect temples and pyramids in the heart of him who speaks of their name” – Papyrus C. B. IV

  14. 15) Our team of producers is offering to cover the budget for a remake of 2017 in order to save the world. Share this and…

    @Hampus: Don’t forget to pick seven pixels to put under your pillow, so you’ll dream of your one true scroll.

  15. Pinted is not in Webster’s, might be a typo. I was hoping I had learned a new word.

  16. Morning? Probably. There seems to be bright light outside, anyway.

    (15) Of course people are crazy, but these people are stupid, too.

  17. Pinted is not in Webster’s, might be a typo.

    The Ancient Egyptians did like their beer….

  18. (2) The generated title, The Truth of Bile, is likely available if the people in (15) have trouble getting permission to use Jedi.

  19. Earwormed!

    15) Saw that this morning, just before Chuck did (or before he tweeted about it anyway). Johnson’s trolling of it is rather masterful. Such misguided energy and thought. I got into a twitter discussion with Charles Stross about the whole thing and he pointed out a fair amount of his fans were upset with THE ANNIHILATION SCORE because he really shook up the status quo and underlying assumptions of his verse as TLJ does.

  20. @2, I really like The Careful Chaos of the Foolish Maker. It’s so evocative. Evocative of what, I have no idea….

  21. (3)

    In her story, titled “R-09 and Pluto”, two artificially intelligent robots contemplate the limits of their brains.

    It’s good to see the comeback of Plutonic Dialog.

    (6) Ah! Another first for Man U.

    (9) These are all worthy considerations. I have an area in back on the hillside that stays shaggy in the hopes that it will nurture some lightning bugs. (Not working so far.)

  22. Apropos of nothing prior, my dream last night could be best summed up as dinosaur apocalypse. As in, like a zombie apocalypse but with the sudden (and not in this case human-caused) reappearance of carnivorous dinosaurs everywhere, but not of prey species. Not my area of SF but I did think the general concept would have commercial appeal if someone could determine why the dinos reappeared.

    Although it’s quite notable that when I ended up on the front lines of assessing people as to whether we could let them into our huge house/safe area, I was utterly clear that whole families would be judged as a unit and all accepted, period, end of sentence.

  23. Hampus, you want to know where the rain is? Chicago. *sigh* You may have it back if you’d like.

  24. Life is Strange 2 has a release date. *Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

  25. @10:

    You might want to put some people on the planet who aren’t dumb as stumps.

    partner’s reaction: “What, and interfere with major plot points?” (A late friend used to speak of “idiot plots”, which collapse from novels to short stories if one of the characters is changed to a not-idiot.)

    @Hampus Eckerman: is rain on Midsummer so common, or is it just that people remember the gloomy times (not just in Sweden but generally)? I tend to expect wet weather later in north-temperate climates (e.g., rain most of the length of Norway in the middle of August); I’ve spent a few very scattered weeks in Sweden (mid-July and beginning of September) and seen some overcast but little rain.

    @Lis Carey: (15) Of course people are crazy, but these people are stupid, too. So why should they be different from other puppy travelers?

  26. @Mister Dalliard

    but then Australians tend to celebrate a lot of things with beer

    Being Australian for starters.

  27. I don’t see any link or quote in 9) . Huh, looking at the code, the HTML for the link is
    <fb:post href=”https://www.facebook.com/jeff.vandermeer/posts/10155837553334195″ data-width=”552″><fb:post>

    and of course Chrome isn’t recognizing fb:post. Further digging says the fbembed script isn’t working for me.

  28. @Mister Dalliard: at least you can have beer; the BBC reports that there’s a CO2 supply shortage in Europe, (video) pinching Heineken and Smith’s among others. (When I visited Tuborg many years ago, they said the excess CO2 from fermenting carbonated a bottle of soda for each ~5 bottles of beer — but it seems that the demand for delivered CO2 for many applications is high.) I also saw a report that Russia was running out of lager due to the World Cup but haven’t refound that link.

  29. Clip Hitchcock:

    ” is rain on Midsummer so common, or is it just that people remember the gloomy times (not just in Sweden but generally)?”

    I guess it is most common with mixed weather. Mostly cloudy, some showers and then a bit of sun. Just so there will always be an argument between those who want to sit outside and those who demand to go inside. But in this case, we have had high summer since beginning of May with a predicted rain coming exactly at midsummer, then leaving again.

    Mid-July is start of the good weather, lasting a bit into September.

  30. @Hampus:
    You want to know where rain is
    You want us to show you
    You want to file where rain is
    You know we can show you

    With apologies to Foreigner. And Hampus.

  31. (2) Ha! Some great titles. The Foolish Oath of the Necromancer for some reason sounds like something from Vance’s Dying Earth. Also digging The Bastard Bastard of the Bastard from the thread David H. posted in comments.

    (15) These weird, reactionary fans have become self-parodying. We’re well into Poe’s Law territory now.

    Hugo reading progress: I’ve voted on all shorter fiction categories. Half the novels have been read. Currently reading Provenance and New York 2140. I was intending to go back and forth between them, but once I got used to the pronouns (which read like some sort of cockney or other British accent in my head) in Provenance, I got stuck in it. I’m enjoying it, though it’s not nearly as impressive, so far, as the first or third books in the Ancillary series. 2140 so far is a bit of a slog, with too many switches between characters for me, throwing me out of the plot too frequently. I tend to enjoy that structure more once I’ve passed the halfway mark in a book, though, and I’m only a bit over 10% through it yet. Still have Jemisin’s to read – I’m looking forward to it, but also not sure how high on my list it will, be as it is pretty much certainly not a good read as a stand-alone.

    Not sure whether to approach the TBR mini-mountain that is the Series category next, or to hit up the YA category.

  32. Another recent-thread followup: Showcase Cinemas (~northeast US chain) announces Sensory Sensitive Screenings; the shows will have no trailers (too frenetic) and be otherwise easier for people who have problems in standard showings — but one of the first films shown will be Incredibles 2. I bet that will work just wonderfully. ISTM that reducing the intensity of the troublesome scenes should not be hard (since it’s all computer animation), but I see no indication in the story that this will be done; I’m also suspicious about the effect of the end credits if they’re anything like the original.

    Note: this is a local newspaper story, not a relay from a national service. It should be free to everyone now (although they tend to gulp bandwidth with ads), but may be paywalled by the time some people get to it. I know someone (not sure it was here) was able to provide a link that went around the paywall; any hints on how to do this will be saved in case they’re useful later.

  33. Hampus, I’d love to be your friend on Pokemon Go. I’ll give you a nice Tauros, if you like. Once I can figure out how to do it, anyway….

    My pokemon go number is 0500 8956 3773 (“Cascatching”)

    (Are you “nat korpin” or something like that? Or did I send it to the wrong person?)

  34. Meredith Moment – Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon (US).

  35. (Actually, I seem to be Ground Zero for Tauroses (Tauri?) recently, so if any European, Asian, or Antipodian Filers want one, feel free to hit me up; I have several spares and I’ll work on caching more. I’ll cheerfully take your region-specific pokemon in return…)

    Edit to add: Oh, damn. Sorry; it seems like we have to be actually physically next to each other to trade pokemon. Sorry. I guess I can’t give away my extra Taurii after all…

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