Pixel Scroll 6/23/24 Raise High The Shadow Squares, RingWorld Carpenters

(1) AGENT BAILS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA. Hilary Harwell of kt literary deleted her X.com account today after a wave of negative response to this tweet.

Steve Hill’s dry reaction was: “To those who are out there querying and receiving their fair share of rejections, take solace in the knowledge that an agent may like your concept enough to request another author to write it.”

A more typical response was this one:

(2) DOCTOR WHO FINALE. The British press is disappointed with the season-ending episode of Doctor Who. Spoilers, naturally.

Evening Standard: “Doctor Who – The Empire of Death on BBC One review: after all that, this is the reveal we get?”

The Independent: “Doctor Who episode 8 review: After all the hype and hoopla, this finale is a big let-down”.

Which isn’t to say they don’t simply adore the Doctor. From the Guardian: “Radiant charm, scene-stealing tears and steamy kisses – Ncuti Gatwa is the new golden age of Doctor Who”.

As his first series as the Time Lord draws to a close, it would be possible to write an entire piece about Ncuti Gatwa that was just a plea for his skincare regimen because, truly, it may be the most miraculous thing that has appeared on any season of Doctor Who. But this outing has also showcased deep wells of charm and talent that radiate from within. It feels fitting that Gatwa first came to the screen via David Tennant – as the series harks back to his fellow Scot’s pitch-perfect debut, which saw that superb combination of pathos and infectious enthusiasm….

(3) AI TREK. “The Roddenberry Foundation Announces Launch of $1-Million Roddenberry Prize for Early-Stage AI Ventures” – behind an LA Times paywall.

To boldly go where no man has gone before.

That’s the mission of the USS Enterprise — and arguably the aim of a $1-million prize being offered through a foundation created to honor the father of the “Star Trek” franchise.

The Roddenberry Foundation — named for Gene Roddenberry — said Tuesday that this year’s biennial award would focus on artificial intelligence that benefits humanity.

Lior Ipp, chief executive of the foundation, told The Times there’s a growing recognition that AI is becoming more ubiquitous and will affect all aspects of our lives.

“We are trying to … catalyze folks to think about what AI looks like if it’s used for good,” Ipp said, “and what it means to use AI responsibly, ethically and toward solving some of the thorny global challenges that exist in the world.”

The Roddenberry Prize is open to early-stage ventures — including nonprofits and for-profits — across the globe.

Each cycle, the focal point of the award changes. The spotlight on AI and machine learning arrives as recent strides in the technology have sparked excitement as well as fear.

Concerns abound that AI threatens privacy, intellectual property and jobs, including the work performed by this reporter. Although it can automate busywork, it may also replicate the harmful biases of the people who created it….

(4) MEDIEVAL TECH SUPPORT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Wired magazine uses their “tech support” YouTube channel to answer questions about medieval times. Includes analysis of historical events that may have been woven into Game of Thrones. “Medievalist Professor Answers Medieval Questions From Twitter”.

(5) VISION OF FASCISM. “How Does Democracy Die? Maybe by Laser Vision” — link bypasses New York Times paywall.

What would fascism look like in America? A quote long misattributed to Sinclair Lewis says that it would come “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” The comedian George Carlin said that it would come not “with jackboots” but “Nike sneakers and smiley shirts.”

“The Boys,” Amazon Prime Video’s blood-spattered, dystopian superhero satire, has another proposal: It would be handsome, jut-jawed and blond. It would wear a cape. And it would shoot lasers out of its eyes….


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 23, 1976 Logan’s Run. Logan’s Run premiered forty-eight years ago on this date in the States though it wouldn’t have a British release until the last day of September. 

It was based off the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, published nine years before the film came out. 

Nolan would write two more novels in this continuity, and of course you know him for other genre writings such as the Sam Space series and his non-fiction work on Ray Bradbury such as The Ray Bradbury Index and Nolan On Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction. 

George Clayton Johnson wrote scripts for The Twilight Zone (including “A Game of Pool”, “Kick the Can” and “A Penny for Your Thoughts”) and Star Trek’s “The Man Trap”, the premiere episode. 

Though the film uses two elements from the novels which are that everyone must die at a set age, and that Logan and his companion Jessica attempt to escape while being chased by another Sandman named Francis, the fact that everyone must die at thirty is not what the novel says, where the age is 21:

The man looked at his palm. The flower bloomed red, then black, then red. “Did you ever wonder if the Thinker makes mistakes, the same as people do? Because it doesn’t seem like I’ve turned twenty-one. It really doesn’t. It seems I turned fourteen maybe five years ago. That would make me just nineteen.” He said this without conviction. “I remember the day, when my flower changed and I was fourteen. I was in Japan, and it was the first time I’d visited Fujiyama. Wonderful mountain! Inspiring! Ever see it?

Undoubtedly it was a matter of not wanting to cast every performer as having to be in their teens, a wise decision, I think.  They also created the Carrousel for eliminating individuals.

The script was by David Zelag Goodman whose script of Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely is splendid indeed. He’s also did some scripts to the rather good Untouchables whose lead was Robert Stock as Eliot Ness. 

I should note that this is not the first time that the film was attempted to be produced. MGM’s first attempt to adapt the book led to development hell. In particular as George Pal’s attempt was troubled seven years earlier by bitterly clashing views of what the film’s story should be. 

So Pal told the studio that it would come out too late to enjoy the success off that of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes a year earlier. That wasn’t the concern of the studio however who thought his production would cost them far above what was budgeted. So they cancelled his in pre-production. 

The producer, David Saul, had an unusual history having worked at Bantam Books, starting as a publisher’s reader then advancing to editorial director and editor in chief. David left Bantam to work for Columbia Pictures , Warner Brothers and so on before ending up at MGM who produced this.

It starred Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, and Peter Ustinov. Michael York was our Sandman, Logan 5 with Jenny Agutter as Jessica 6. As is my standard here, I don’t do spoilers. There might be at one Filer who hasn’t seen it. Queen Air and Darkness knows why, but let’s pretend that, ok? 

Now critical reception ranged from completely negative coming from Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune who gave the film zero stars out of four and says was  it “unquestionably the worst major motion picture I’ve seen this year” to, well I wouldn’t call it an ringing endorsement, Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times who says that “its visual razzle-dazzle  propels Logan’s Run past some foolish concocting, indifferent acting, slow pacing and uncertain toning.” 

It was a box office success making at least twenty-five million dollars on a budget of just eight million and is considered to have saved MGM from financial ruin. 

It was nominated at SunCon, the year in which no film was awarded a Hugo.  

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a mediocre fifty- five percent rating. 

As you know, it became a series. CBS and the production company, MGM Television this time, paid Nolan nine million for the television rights for that series, Logan’s Run, starred Gregory Harrison as Logan. Poor ratings meant it lasted but fourteen episodes.


(8) STILL WAKES THE DEEP. “Cosmic Horror Awaits Aboard a Perilous Oil Rig” – a video game review in the New York Times.

Christmas, 1975: an oil rig off the east coast of Scotland. Inside over breakfast, the chatter of possible strikes and crew members wolfing down baked beans, fried eggs and mugs of tea. Outside, the briny tang of windswept sea air, the North Sea swirling tempestuously below.

The teetering rig of the first-person horror game Still Wakes the Deep, which releases on Tuesday for the PC, PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X|S, is another delightfully offbeat and beautifully realized locale from The Chinese Room, a British studio.

Dear Esther, released in 2012, saw players exploring a moonlit Hebridean island, tromping through purple heather. Three years later, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture whisked them off to a quaint fictional village in the west of England, zigzagging through arable fields and well-ordered front gardens.

“It’s rare, still, for video games to venture away from generic-looking alien planets, abandoned spaceships or the trenches of past wars as settings for their stories,” said Simon Parkin, author of “Death by Video Game: Tales of Obsession From the Virtual Frontline.”

The towering metal architecture and claustrophobic halls of Still Wakes the Deep are less naturalistic than the studio’s previous game worlds, but certainly no less evocative. John McCormack, the game’s creative director, possesses an instinctual familiarity with the era.

“I can remember the texture of the carpets and the thin line of cigarette smoke that hovers halfway up a room, my granny’s slippers, what the ashtrays look like, how people talk — the slang of the time,” said McCormack, a Scot and a child of the 1970s.

At the game’s outset, the calm before the unleashing of a cosmic horror storm, the player explores homely cabins littered with the paraphernalia of private lives: comforting trinkets, family photos. Your colleagues have nuanced back stories and speak with the lilt and twang of the regions they grew up in (Barnsley, Belfast, Edinburgh).

(9) GOTH GARDENING ADVICE. NPR tells listeners “How to grow a goth garden”. They admit the first tip is rather obvious.

Trend watchers have pounced on goth gardening. Google searches for “goth garden” more than doubled over the past five years — with a pronounced spike after the heroine of the Netflix hit series Wednesday started finding comfort in a creepy conservatory filled with ghost orchids and carnivorous plants.

Want to make an atmospheric goth garden of your own? We have some tips.

Use dark plants (duh)…

(10) DON’T BE UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. [Verse by Mike Kennedy.]

Space junk keeps falling’ on my head
And that means that NASA‘s eyes will soon be turnin’ red
Th’lawsuit is from me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the junk by complainin’
What’s this I see?
NASA counter-sued me…

No counter-suit yet, but “A Florida family is suing NASA after a piece of space debris crashed through their home” at NPR.

A Florida family is suing NASA after a piece of metallic space debris belonging to the agency fell to Earth and tore through their Naples home earlier this year, leaving a hole in the roof.

The March incident was a startling rare instance of man-made material from orbit making its way back to our planet’s surface intact and landing in a populated area, and it raised questions about who is responsible when space debris causes damage on Earth….

…“NASA remains committed to responsibly operating in low Earth orbit, and mitigating as much risk as possible to protect people on Earth when space hardware must be released,” the agency said in April.

Worthy said NASA would be held responsible for damage caused by its space debris in any other country under the international agreement known as the Space Liability Convention.

But space law expert Mark Sundahl told NPR in April that the law is less clear when material belonging to NASA lands on U.S. soil, making it a domestic legal issue.

(11) FLAT EARTHERS VS. REALITY (TV). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Gizmodo reports “Flat Earthers Are Getting Their Own Reality TV Show”. Will it expand their horizons?

…IndieWire reports that a new reality TV show is in the works that will pay conspiracy theorists money to pursue their beliefs that the Earth is shaped like a frisbee-like disc rather than the sphere that it is. The show, which is described as a “part docuseries, part competition show,” will supply conspiracy theorists with “$50,000 worth of resources” to conduct “research.” Ultimately, the contestants will present their findings to a panel of scientists, theologians, and cartographers. If they can convince a majority of the judges that the Earth is, indeed, flat, they will win a cash prize (they won’t)…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Another new Pitch Meeting about an old movie. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Pitch Meeting”.

PS:  RG had mentioned a while back he was stockpiling PMs to make his schedule a bit easier as he welcomed an expected new child. Or at least that’s my fuzzy recollection.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven Green, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “J.D.” Dern.]

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24 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/23/24 Raise High The Shadow Squares, RingWorld Carpenters

  1. (6) Logan’s Run was both fun and appalling.

    (10) Just don’t stand in the drop path, people. Is that too much to expect?

  2. (10) SpaceX has dropped some hefty debris, too. A farmer in Canada found some. Fortunately it was in a field…

    (6) I remember being in line, on a very warm afternoon, when they came down the line giving out red-dot stickers for our hands. “You let us into that air-conditioned theater, and we’ll do it”.

  3. (1) Obviously, she flunked agenting.
    (4) Um, er, perhaps she should go back to her undergrad classes? Let’s see: live how long? From what I’ve read, marriage, in general, lasted about seven years, before the woman died in childbirth, or from related illnesses. And then there were these pesky things calls “wars”, and bandits, and mercenaries (often with little difference between those last two). And bad harvests. And…
    From yesterday:(1) Obviously, she flunked agenting.
    (4) Um, er, perhaps she should go back to her undergrad classes? Let’s see: live how long? From what I’ve read, marriage, in general, lasted about seven years, before the woman died in childbirth, or from related illnesses. And then there were these pesky things calls “wars”, and bandits, and mercenaries (often with little difference between those last two). And bad harvests. And…
    *****From yesterday, which I couldn’t post (the website didn’t like me):
    (3) Didn’t listen, read the Guardian piece. No, not everyone in the world is a dickhead, and I object to all my famliy and friends are. Further, the entire concept of NFTs is a pure castles-in-the-air get rich quick scheme. EVERYONE that bought was hoping to sell and get rich…
    (5) I just emailed the author, and told him I don’t want to buy him a drink, I want to know what his favorite drink is, and if I can afford it, where do I ship him a bottle. EVERY WORD HE SAYS IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE. This is literally a rehash of the Internet Bubble that crashed in 2000/2001, and gave us the Bush Recession. There is zero difference.
    (11) It’s another war game. War games go back at least to Hellwig, and is used as a teaching tool, to teach future officers how to run wars. As the author of COPD explains it, all wars are utterly dependent on supplies. I was happy my kids got into D&D – it’s still a teaching tool, if not a dungeon crawl. This is another. We need games like this, and where are the online simulations like them? (Oh, that’s right, chatbots can’t run them correctly.)

  4. 11 – Isn’t a reality show for flat-earthers a rather oxymoronic proposition?

  5. 6) The series had some familiar writers working on it, including D. C. Fontana, David Gerrold (credited as Noah Ward, so apparently not happy with the final production), and Harlan Ellison™ (not credited as Cordwainer Bird.

  6. I guess based on the reviews, I never had any interest is seeing Logan’s Run, Jenny Agutter or no Jenny Agutter. So, yes, Cat, there’s at least one filer who hasn’t seen it. But I wouldn’t care if you spoiled it, because I don’t expect it will ever show up on my tv.

  7. (11) Maybe they should get Universal Pictures to produce the flat-earthers reality TV show.

    (See here for the studio logo which explains why I suggest that.)

  8. (11) Seems like a surReality show.

    In spite of my Hugo reading needs, a book from deep in the to-read stack jumped in front of my eyes this weekend – currently reading (among other things) Charles Stross’ Scratch Monkey

  9. 6) I have seen Logan’s Run several times, and while I enjoy watching, it is definitely not a great movie.

    That being said, I enjoy quoting Box, the scenery-chewing cold-storage cyborg. “Overwhelming, am I not? Are you, too, startled? Am I too removed from your ken?” is a great way to welcome new people to our project teams.

  10. 1) I feel for Hilary Harwell because that concept sounds fascinating and I would also love to read this book. All she wanted was a well-written book on this idea! I wonder now if some aspiring author will actually try and deliver on it, now that they know there’s some interest in it.

  11. I also have not seen Logan’s Run. But I did read the book, back in the day. It was mildly amusing, but did not fill me with a great desire to see a movie version.

  12. @Ha Nguyen
    We only have her word that the book wasn’t “well-written.” Agents pass on “well-written” books all the time. If she really liked that idea, she could have made suggestions and asked the author for revisions.

    Many marginalized authors have said that this sort of thing happens to them all the time. They’ll send a query and get a rejection. And then the agent or publisher sends the idea to a “status quo” author. They might use an excuse like “I couldn’t relate to the original author’s voice” or “It’s harder to sell a book by a marginalized author.”

    When I first started reading “how to write” books and articles, the experts would do everything they could to reassure aspiring writers that no agent or publisher is going to steal your idea. So that’s why this comes as a kick in the pants. And maybe it’s not as rare as we were told.

  13. Ann Marble: I don’t feel for her. What she did, publicly, in her role as agent, was completely unprofessional.

  14. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 6/24/24 Doctor Who and the Scrolls of Pixeldon | File 770

  15. @Anne Marble: Yeah. You can find the “agents aren’t going to steal your ideas” advice everywhere – and then this happens

  16. Ha Nguyen wrote:

    1) I feel for Hilary Harwell because that concept sounds fascinating and I would also love to read this book. All she wanted was a well-written book on this idea! I wonder now if some aspiring author will actually try and deliver on it, now that they know there’s some interest in it.

    You know who I actually feel for, the author querying an employed-by-actual-company-writer’s-agent who unprofessionally publically stated the original idea by that author(which the agent paraphrased but still, copyright law states that ideas are not copyrightable, only unique expressions). Thereby depriving that author of the exclusive right to exploit their original idea. Exclusive in Bold(if it were published/bought and edited that’s different)

    It’s like Zack Snyder meeting George Lucas at Lucas’ suggestion/invitation, giving a spiel for Rebel Moon and Lucas/LucasFilm saying, I don’t think you’re the right guy to direct it/write/edit/produce it; but we would like to exploit/do it ourselves through our own hired hands/work for hire creatives(legally it would be Disney’s/Lucas’/LucasFilm’s property thereby).

    This brings to mind something similar(to my hypothetical) happening in comics before, George RR Martin proposed an idea-it was rejected and then given to/made by Bill Willingham and some artists. I don’t know if Martin was compensated and it’s known he originated the idea(alone or with others). But since then AFAIK he has not proposed ideas to major comics publishers.

  17. (1) Most of the writers I follow on line, even the small names, are “Do Not Tell Me Your Ideas”.

  18. @MixMat “Thereby depriving that author of the exclusive right to exploit their original idea.”
    Authors have never had an exclusive right to exploit their original ideas.

  19. bill wrote:

    @MixMat “Thereby depriving that author of the exclusive right to exploit their original idea.”
    Authors have never had an exclusive right to exploit their original ideas.

    Then what is the purpose of copyright?

  20. The purpose of copyright is to allow authors the exclusive right to their own expression of an idea.

    Someone (Jack Cole?) had an original idea for a super hero who could stretch himself.


    John Broome and Carmine Infantino thought it was a good idea, and also exploited it:


    and so did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby


    And Brad Bird


    No one had the exclusive right to exploit the idea, but each creator got to put his own unique spin on it.

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