Pixel Scroll 6/28/18 Stay Scrolled, Pixelboy… Stay Scrolled…

(1) FUTURE TENSE. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and the Assistant Director, Future Tense, forwards the latest entry in the Future Tense Fiction series: “A Brief and Fearful Star” by Carmen Maria Machado.

Mama did not talk about her journey west very much; the circumstances had to be right. When she did—in the electric moments before rainfall, if a rabbit crossed clockwise against our path, if she found me flipping through the battered almanac from the year of my birth—she described it like a painting she was viewing through a fever.

“The light,” she said once, when we encountered a set of twigs that had fallen into the shape of a cross. “It was like being underwater, all blue and soft and bright.”

It was published along with a response essay, “Could the Experiences of Our Ancestors Be “Seared Into Our Cells”?” by science journalist Erika Hayasaki.

Our memories are made up of the stories we come to believe about our past, about how we got here and who we are, a running inner-narrative of scenes, summary, and anecdotes colored with bits of truth and speculation. We tend to define our lives through largely made-up memories, to decipher what makes us resilient, or what makes us weak.

There’s something seductive in believing we could also inherit memories in a biological sense, too. An ancestor passing down the experience of endurance or trauma, for example, transmitting traces of a distant past that does not belong to us and yet might be built into us before we are born. A coding that primes decedents to fear, to cope with, to prepare for, or to survive through the same perils. It makes for an uncomfortable solace, thinking that the memories of generations before may reside within our genes. It gives us explanations….

(2) FUTURE LAW. The Institute for Information Law at the Universiteit van Amsterdam invites English-language entries in the inaugural “’Science Fiction & Information Law’ Essay Competition”. The deadline is December 15.

We welcome essays that reflect on our possible data-driven future, where data has been firmly established as an economic asset and new, data-driven smart technologies can change the way we live, work, love, think and vote. How will AI change politics, democracy or the future of the media? What will life be like with robot judges and digital professors? What is the future of transportation in the wake of drones, the autonomous car and perfect matching of transportation needs? Is there a life beyond the ubiquity of social media: Is there bound to be an anti-thesis and if so, what will the synthesis look like? What will happen when social media corporations start fully-fledged co-operation with the police? Or unleash the power of public engagement to solve or prevent crime by themselves? How would crime respond to all this? What could be the true implications of the ‘data economy’ and if we really can pay our bills with our data? How will future information law look like in the age of AI?

The authors of the best five essays will compete for the IViR Science Fiction & Information Law Award. The award will be granted by an independent jury, and the five authors will be invited to Amsterdam for a public symposium…..

We welcome essays between 5000-8000 words in English. We encourage contributions from sci-fi authors but also from all scholars, thinkers, lay-philosophers, bloggers and interested citizens who like to think about technology and society, and maybe have been toying with the idea of writing something for quite some time but never did. This is your opportunity!
Please send your essay to [email protected] by 15 December 2018.

(3) NEEDLE FOUND AT LAST. The Portalist asks Robert Silverberg about the forthcoming film adaptation of one of his short stories: “Interview: Sci-Fi Great Robert Silverberg Talks Time Travel”.

The director, John Ridley, is best known for the movie Three Kings, for which he wrote the story, and 12 Years a Slave, which earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Do you know what attracted him to “Needle in a Timestack”? 

He read it in Playboy long ago—it was published there in 1983—and said, “I want to make a movie out of that.” But once he got into a position to do that he couldn’t, because it had been optioned and later bought outright by Miramax. So it was tied up, and he was not a Miramax person, so it was in limbo for years. Vince Gerardis, my lovely Hollywood agent, managed to get the rights back. At that point John had had a huge success with 12 Years and Miramax asked him, is there anything else you want to do, and he said, “Needle in a Timestack.” So they optioned it the second time, hired Ridley, and then let the option run out. But he was hooked, and went and found another producer, who is now producing. He’s deeply attached to the project—not just in the Hollywood sense, he really loves it. He wrote the screenplay and apparently the screenplay is quite faithful to the story.

(4) YEARS AGO AT DRAGON CON. Two days ago, SF/F author K. T. Katzmann tweeted, “Also, I once watched one of the most famous SF/fantasy authors in the world pull off an act of conspiracy to commit murder over their microphone in a convention panel, but my lips are sealed until they die.”

That author was Harlan Ellison. Now that he has died, Katzmann tells the whole story in this thread:

(5) APPEAL. File 770 commenter Lurkertype could use some help after getting medical help for a cat:

One of my credentials had surgery this morning, and it’s going to cost $7,000.

Seven. Thousand. Dollars.

Which we don’t have — that’s over 2 months’ total living expenses — and we’re living off (premature, thus heavily taxed) IRA withdrawals. We get the credit to pay our Obamacare premiums, which… who knows if that will continue? Basically we are poor, and as you know, it’s not a swell time to be poor.

So I am begging for money.

You can send it to my PayPal account, which is under lurkertype (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Any amount, no matter how small, will be deliriously accepted.

I promise to send a photo of him on some SF. He is a handsome tuxedo beastie of 17 pounds. I don’t know if he’ll have a cone of shame or not.

I know many of you don’t have any spare money, but I know how much File 770 loves cats, so any kind thoughts towards him or me, prayers to your favorite deity, or just grumpy thoughts towards the universe to shape up for once are also accepted.


  • Born June 28 – Mel Brooks, 92. Writer, actor and producer in, and this is a very selective listing, Get Smart, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs and Spaceballs: The Animated Series, the Hotel Transylvania animated films and Blazing Saddles.
  • Born June 28 – Kathy Bates, 70. Performer, among many genre roles,  in Dick Tracy, The Stand, Hansel and Gretel, The Golden CompassDolores Claiborne and the American Horror Story series.
  • Born June 28 – Felicia Day, 39. Performer in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,  Eureka, Supernatural, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and LARPs which is not a complete accounting. Also writer and theme song singer (!) for Mystery Science Theater 3000. 
  • Born June 28 – Jon Watts, 37. Director of Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man Homecoming, screenplay of latter as well


  • Lise Andreasen sends the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip “Evolution” with the cryptic recommendation, “I like ‘’I like big butts and cannot lie’ and cannot lie.” I have the cryptographic section working on this….
  • On the other hand, JJ’s Incidental Comics pick “Books are….” will be readily understood by every Filer.

(8) ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT FROM DC. Io9 shares DC’s plan: “The New DC Universe Streaming Service Will Bundle Superhero Comics and TV Shows All in One Place”.

As more and more people have begun reading comics digitally, DC’s fans have been wondering when (if ever) the publisher was going to get in on the all-you-can-read subscription service game much in the same way that Marvel has. As it turns out, that time is now.

Today, DC Comics and Warner Bros. announced the impending arrival of DC Universe, the new, fan-oriented platform where many of company’s upcoming shows like Young Justice: Outsiders, Titans, and Harley Quinn will live alongside a deep back catalog of curated DC comic books, TV shows, and films.

(9) GRIM FATE. Comics artist Warrick Wong has been producing fan art of the somewhat grim future of The Incredibles and posting on his Instagram feed. Gizmodo’s io9 has taken note (“Artist Envisions The Incredibles’ Future, and It’s Powerfully Bleak”). He’s gone into the future a decade or more where “Violet has taken over as the matriarch of the Parr family following the death of their parents [with] a facial scar and full-body tattoos” or “Dash [is] a reckless and rebellious teenager, while Jack-Jack explores his powers as a polymorph, figuring out how to control all of his abilities.” He’s also looked in the nearer term where “Old Man Incredible” has “a bitching beard” and “some awesome tattoos,” but is locked on “a path of vengeance after Mrs. Incredible was supposedly killed.”

(10) A VISIT FROM VESTA. Mike Kennedy felt this news deserved a dramatic introduction: “Aaaaaaah! We must be dooooooomed! A massive asteroid is so close to Earth you can see it with the naked eye!”

After he calmed down, Kennedy continued — “Well, closer than it’s been in a number of years… but close is a relative term here. Vesta (full name “4 Vesta”) is the second largest asteroid in the main belt and is currently in approximate opposition to Earth and about 106 million miles from our planet. That makes it bright enough to be seen with the naked eye for the next couple of weeks if you have excellent viewing conditions (such as having clear skies and being well away from a city or other source of light pollution).

“Of course, being in the main belt it’s in a nearly circular orbit (its eccentricity is only 0.08874) and isn’t going to pose any threat to Earth in the foreseeable future… not that that a lack of a threat will stop some people from trying to whip up a panic.

Newsweek reports “Vesta: Asteroid the Width of Arizona Makes Close Approach to Earth—And It’s Visible With the Naked Eye”.

Stargazers will be able to view it in both the northern and southern hemispheres until about July 16 or 17 “but only as a point of light, and only in dark skies,” Massey said. For optimum viewing, binoculars or telescopes are recommended.

Vesta will appear near the constellation Sagittarius until June 28, after which it will move into the vicinity of the constellation Ophiuchus.

The asteroid is so large, that it accounts for nearly 9 percent of the total mass of all asteroids in the asteroid belt, with only the dwarf planet Ceres being more massive, according to NASA.

Inverse says “Massive 4 Vesta Asteroid Is Zooming by Earth — Here’s How You Can Spot It”.

You can see 4 Vesta every night until July 16 or 17, which means you’ve got just weeks left to catch a glimpse of the asteroid this close to Earth until after the year 2040.

(11) CATASTROPHE AVERTED. Business Insider invites us to remember when “NASA literally saved us from a planet-wide apocalypse”. In the 1980’s NASA was one of the leading organizations that pushed to sharply reduce chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) use because of the damage to the ozone layer that could have led to ecological collapse due to doubling of the UV radiation reaching the ground. Dr. Susan Strahan (Senior Research Scientist with the Universities Space Research Association/NASA Goddard) is featured in a video that helps explain the problem. Because politicians listened to scientists (an almost unimaginable thing in some parts of the world today) the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987 and production of CFCs was curtailed and eliminated entirely in developed countries.

Quoting the article’s conclusion:

By 1996, CFCs were banned completely in developed countries. And today, Now satellite data indicates that the ozone hole is on the mend. And if we keep it up, it could be completely healed by the end of this century.

So it looks like the world won’t crumble by 2065 anymore. Well, at least not from a depleted ozone layer.

However, some evidence has surfaced semi-recently that someone is cheating on the Montreal Protocol and producing/releasing CFCs. See The Japan Times’ article “Scientists detect probable cheating on ozone treaty as drop in key CFC slows”.

The decline in the atmosphere of an ozone-depleting chemical banned by the Montreal Protocol has recently slowed by half, suggesting a serious violation of the 196-nation treaty, researchers revealed Wednesday.

Measurements at remote sites — including the government-run Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii — of the chemical, known as CFC-11, point to East Asia as the source or renewed production.

“We show that the rate of decline of atmospheric CFC-11 was constant from 2002 to 2012, and then slowed by about 50 percent after 2012,” an international team of scientists concluded in a study.

“This evidence strongly suggests increased CFC-11 emissions from eastern Asia after 2012.”

(12) IT’S TIME. Jack Black’s next flick — The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural). Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.


[Thanks to rcade, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Nicholas Whyte, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

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29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/28/18 Stay Scrolled, Pixelboy… Stay Scrolled…

  1. 12) Jack Black is hit or miss for me, but that looks like it could be good.

  2. I also like the idea of @12, but will wait to see what comes out of the mill — especially since the book setting feels like 60 years ago. (I remember The Dark Is Rising, however much I wish I didn’t.) I’d love to see The Face in the Frost, but that doesn’t have a kid for a producer to hang an audience on and is too subtle for today’s genre movies not aimed at kids.

  3. Posting one last time, honest, since I came in at the end of yesterday’s Pixel Scroll:


    One of my credentials had surgery this morning, and it’s going to cost $7,000.

    Seven. Thousand. Dollars.

    Which we don’t have — that’s over 2 months’ total living expenses — and we’re living off (premature, thus heavily taxed) IRA withdrawals. We get the credit to pay our Obamacare premiums, which… who knows if that will continue? Basically we are poor, and as you know, it’s not a swell time to be poor.

    So I am begging for money.

    You can send it to my PayPal account, which is under lurkertype (at) yahoo (dot) com.

    Any amount, no matter how small, will be deliriously accepted.

    I promise to send a photo of him on some SF. He is a handsome tuxedo beastie of 17 pounds. I don’t know if he’ll have a cone of shame or not.

    I know many of you don’t have any spare money, but I know how much File 770 loves cats, so any kind thoughts towards him or me, prayers to your favorite deity, or just grumpy thoughts towards the universe to shape up for once are also accepted.

    Beastie comes home tomorrow afternoon, we’ve been told.

    Ooh, accidental Fifth. I’ll take that as a good sign.

  4. (1) Kind of personal, but … I have lots of widespread biological relatives whom I’ve never met, and lately we and our extended families have been finding each other through 23andMe and Ancestry and GEDmatch. We have all kinds of weird themes in common, and I’m convinced genetic memory is a thing.

  5. Lurkertype, Mike has made you part of today’s Scroll… as item five.

    Coincidence? I THINK NOT. 😀

  6. JJ on June 28, 2018 at 11:47 pm said:
    Lurkertype, Mike has made you part of today’s Scroll… as item five.
    Coincidence? I THINK NOT. ?

    It’s Deep File at work in mysterious ways.

  7. (oops. Thanks Mike! Feel free to delete my above repeat!)

    (5) At the moment, Filers have contributed about $1000 to the credential repair fund, and I thank you all. 7 grand is way more than the little bastard is worth, honestly, esp. in our current situation, but… well, now we’re out a little under 6 grand, which is still more than he’s worth, but.

    Meanwhile, the BFFs have new tiny kittons, with the bat ears and the needle claws and the falling over their own little feets and the tiny mews and the inaudible purrs, which was all very cheering to play with tonight.

    (4) If you haven’t seen the video of Harlan telling the dead gopher story at LA Worldcon 2006, look it up on YouTube. He tells some other good tales, but this is the fullest version available of the gopher, from why he was angry, to shooting the gopher himself, mailing it, and all. Did he exaggerate? Probably not much. But you will LOL. It’s a fine way to remember him, I think.

    (8) This is relevant to my interests.

  8. 11) I can remember when concern about CFCs was considered a ridiculous hippy notion by the usual SF suspects – but also, oddly, by Robert Sheckley, who had a running “joke” about Earth being destroyed by a catastrophe involving aerosol cans in one of his later novels. I wonder if the double blow of watching a government agency prove the hippies were right had any long-term effect on the Libertarian space enthusiasts?

  9. @Ghost Bird: depressingly, I doubt it… as with the Y2K bug thing, the fact that a disaster didn’t happen (because of organization, forethought and a hell of a lot of work to prevent it), seems to be proof – to a certain mindset – that it never would have happened (so all that organization, forethought and work was obviously a waste of time.)

  10. @Lurkertype. Yikes. I can give my best thoughts, prayers and hopes for your credential, and see how the spice will flow after next payday.

  11. (10) I have seen both Ceres and Vesta with binoculars, but the only way to be sure you are looking at them is to study the correct patch of sky for several nights and see them move.

    On any given night, they look like any visible unimpressive star.

  12. @Steve Wright

    I was more wondering if it hardened their anti-NASA stance.Though there was always tension between the desire to blame “government inefficiency(*)” and the desire to blame the Democrats.

    (*) A concept most popular with those who’ve never worked for a big corporation, or talked to someone who has.

  13. Jack Black’s next flick — The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

    Looks more action-adventury than I recall, but …

    I may have to see that.

  14. (10) It’s a shame we’ve only got a few hours of twilight and no real night sky here right now.

    (11) I think I’ve seen something newer on the “mysterious” emissions mentioned in the scroll item, IIRC someone had tracked it to an area in China where factory owners pretty much admittted to using cheap but illegal gases to make insulation foam. Now that there where international attention, authorities had started to crack down.

    Eta: I found the link https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/world/asia/china-ozone-cfc.html

    I remember my republican mom buying ALL THE HAIRSPRAY so she’d still be able to kill the ozone layer for years to come.
    Good times (not).

  16. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano

    Jack Black is a dubious choice. He was good in KING KONG and JUMANJI because he wasn’t allowed to mug endlessly.

    That really comes down to the director and editor, doesn’t it? I mean … Jack Black is going to mug, but it’s up to the director to shoot and reshoot and reshoot until they get mug-free takes. And then the editor gets to try to assemble a coherent film from those takes.

    Difficult, but not impossible.

  17. @Eric Franklin: In other words, reversing Kubrick’s strategy for directing George C. Scott in Strangelove!

  18. Credential update:

    He’s home! Shaved from sternum to tail on the underside, and wearing the Giant Size Cone of Shame.

    The vet and techs report he was an absolute bastid with the claws and teeth, as I expected. He said GRRRRR all the way home in the car, and then the last dose of painkillers kicked in and he’s passed out in the closet and refusing to have anything to do with us.

    So it’s going to be a while before I can get the promised photo. Also, he has some meds once a day, some twice a day, and some 2-3 times a day, anywhere from 3 days to 14 days. I shall need much sympathy till then. The other credential is literally pissed that he’s back.

    In good news, it “only” cost $6,000. $1100 has been donated by Filers, to whom I am Most Humbly Grateful, regardless of amount. The messages were very cheering as well. You are Good People and I hope to see many of you at Worldcon.

    @lauowolf (re 11): Mine did the same, but only a year’s worth. Then she found out the new formulation was fine.

    (12) I’ve never read or even heard of the book(s), but it does look like an excuse for Jack Black to mug and chew the scenery. The Clock may be revealed through Jack’s gnawing through Its Walls. IIRC, director Eli Roth doesn’t DO subtle either.

  19. @Lurkertype–I’m delighted to hear that the credential is home, and feeling well enough to swear and fight.

    I’m very sad that you have not been blessed with the opportunity to enjoy the works of John Bellairs. He was a delightful gentleman who wrote delightful books, mostly for children. The House With the Clock in Its Walls is a children’s book. The face in the Frost is…not. At all.

    He taught English literature for a year at the Catholic women’s college I attended, and was not happy there. It wasn’t the right setting for him. He was quite surprised to learn that members of the history department remembered him fondly and would ask how he was doing from time to time.

  20. Belatedly–for some reason I get two Pixel Scrolls’ at a time in my RSS feed–the story linked in the first item is really, really good.

  21. @Lurkertype — so much for my hopes of not seeing another The Dark Is Rising? We’ll see…. (and +1 to Lis’s encouragement to read Bellairs. Much of it starts with a sleepy-New-England-in-the-1950’s sense, until something very quietly and effectively intrudes; IIRC the female characters are less prominent, but not cartoons as in many books featuring boys in that period. And The Face in the Frost is still a great fantasy — darkish, odd, and built around two people coping with something larger than they ever expected to have to deal with.

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