Pixel Scroll 6/29/18 My Pixel’s Back, It’s Going To Save My Reputation, If I Were You, I’d Take An Internet Vacation

(1) ‘TIS THE SEASON. It’s time now for yard signs to sprout on neighborhood lawns as Brianna Wu’s campaign stands up for the September 4 primary.

(2) SMALL PLEASURES. N.K. Jemisin is right about that —

(3) MATTHEW KRESSEL. Scott Edelman entreats you to share BBQ brosket with Matthew Kressel in episode 70 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

This episode’s guest is Matthew Kressel, whose short story “The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” was one of the finalists this year. He was a previous finalist twice before in the same category for “The Sounds of Old Earth” in 2014 and “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” in 2015. His short stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Analog, Interzone, and many others, as well as in anthologies such as Mad Hatters and March Hares, Cyber World, The People of the Book, and more. His novel, King of Shards, was praised by NPR as being “majestic, resonant, reality-twisting madness.”

He was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award for his work editing the speculative fiction magazine Sybil’s Garage, and is the co-host—along with former Eating the Fantastic guest Ellen Datlow—of the Fantastic Fiction reading series held at the KGB Bar.

Our dinner Friday night that weekend was at Pork & Beans, which has been voted best BBQ in Pittsburgh.

We discussed the story of his accepted by an editor within an hour and then praised by Joyce Carol Oates, the ways in which famed editor Alice Turner was the catalyst which helped turn him into a writer, why after publishing only short stories for 10 years he eventually published a novel, how comments from his Altered Fluid writing workshop helped make his Nebula-nominated “The Sounds of Old Earth” a better story, why a writing self-help book made him swear off those kinds of self-help books, the secrets to having a happy, heathy writing career, why he’s grown to be OK with reading bad reviews, what he learned from reading slush at Sybil’s Garage, and much more

(4) FINNEGAN BEGIN AGAIN. Fatherly tells how “You Can Now Get Drunk Like Captain Kirk From ‘Star Trek’”.

This week, Silver Screen Bottling Co. announced an “official” James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey. You can’t order this in a bar, yet, but you can pre-order a bottle right here, where they’re also selling signature glasses, and showing the whiskey next to cigars, even though Kirk never really smoked. (Except for that one time he was in a space prison in Star Trek VI.)

If you don’t want to order Star Trek whiskey online, the James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey will also be on sale at San Diego Comic-Con, starting on July 19. At that point, Silver Screen Bottling Co. will announce other Star Trek-themed spirits.

(5) GORTON OBIT. Bob Gorton, former chairman of Pulpcon, passed away on May 31. Mike Chomko wrote a brief tribute.

A retired mathematics professor at the University of Dayton, Bob was known for his dry sense of humor. He served as an important bridge between the lengthy term of Rusty Hevelin as Pulpcon chairman and the founding of PulpFest in 2009. A quiet man, Bob was the winner of the Lamont Award in 2002, presented at Pulpcon 31 in Dayton, Ohio. He will be missed.


  • June 29, 1979 Moonraker premiered on this day theatrically


  • Born June 29 – Sharon Lawrence, 57. Amelia Earhart in Star Trek: Voyager, Maxima in the animated Superman series, and Vivian Cates in Wolf Lake, a short lived werewolves among us series.
  • Born June 29, 1920 – Ray Harryhausen.

Ray and Diana Harryhausen with Steve Vertlieb in 1990.

Steve Vertlieb invites you to hop over to The Thunder Child and read his “Ray Harryhausen Tribute”.

Ray Harryhausen remains one of the most revered figures in fantasy/sci-fi motion picture history. Born June 29th, 1920, Ray was not only a childhood hero, but became a dear and cherished friend of nearly fifty years duration. His work in films inspired and influenced generations of film makers, and garnered him a special Academy Award, presented by Tom Hanks, for a lifetime of cinematic achievement. Steven Spielberg joyously proclaimed that his own inspiration for directing “Jurassic Park” was the pioneering special effects work of Harryhausen. Published after his death several years ago, here is a celebration and loving remembrance of the life and work of cinematic master, and special effects genius, Ray Harryhausen. It is also the tender story of a very special man, as well as an often remarkable personal friendship. I love you, Ray. You filled my dreams, my life, and my world with your wondrous creatures.

Ray would have turned 98 years young had he lived. In remembrance of this wonderful soul, here is my affectionate tribute to my friend of nearly fifty years, and boyhood hero of interminable recollection and duration…the incomparable Stop Motion genius, and Oscar honored special effects pioneer, Ray Harryhausen. Journey with me now to a “Land Beyond Beyond” where dreams were born, Cyclopian creatures thundered across a primeval landscape, mythological dragons roared in awe struck wonder, and magical stallions ascended above the clouds…Once Upon A Time.


(9) FARCE FIELD. Steven Levy in WIRED profiles Palmer Luckey, founder of Anduril Technologies, which aims to install a virtual surveillance system on the U.S.-Mexico border. “Inside Palmer Luckey’s Bid to Build a Border Wall”.

…Palmer Luckey—yes, that Palmer Luckey, the 25-year-old entrepreneur who founded the virtual reality company Oculus, sold it to Facebook, and then left Facebook in a haze of political controversy—hands me a Samsung Gear VR headset. Slipping it over my eyes, I am instantly immersed in a digital world that simulates the exact view I had just been enjoying in real life. In the virtual valley below is a glowing green square with text that reads PERSON 98%. Luckey directs me to tilt my head downward, toward the box, and suddenly an image pops up over the VR rendering. A human is making his way through the rugged sagebrush, a scene captured by cameras on a tower behind me. To his right I see another green box, this one labeled ANIMAL 86%. Zooming in on it brings up a photo of a calf, grazing a bit outside its usual range.

The system I’m trying out is Luckey’s solution to how the US should detect unauthorized border crossings. It merges VR with surveillance tools to create a digital wall that is not a barrier so much as a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees. Luckey’s company, Anduril Industries, is pitching its technology to the Department of Homeland Security as a complement to—or substitute for—much of President Trump’s promised physical wall along the border with Mexico.

Anduril is barely a year old, and the trespassing I’d witnessed was part of an informal test on a rancher’s private land. The company has installed three portable, 32-foot towers packed with radar, communications antennae, and a laser-­enhanced camera—the first implementation of a system Anduril is calling Lattice. It can detect and identify motion within about a 2-mile radius. The person I saw in my headset was an Anduril technician dispatched to the valley via ATV to demonstrate how the system works; he was about a mile away….

…Middle-earth buffs will recognize Anduril as the enchanted blade that was Aragorn’s go-to lethal weapon…”All of us are Lord of the Rings fans, so it was a pretty fun name,’ Luckey says. ‘Also, I have Anduril the sword hanging on my wall.  (Luckey procured a collector’s version, not the original movie prop.)…

Another fannish connection:  Anduril Industries has hired former MythBusters co-host Jamie Hyneman to develop an “autonomous firefighting machine’ called Sentry designed to put out California wildfires.  Hyneman, Levy reports, ‘built one of the fiercest battlebots in Robot Wars history.”

(10) THE STARS HIS DESTINATION. His facial expression is disturbingly like that of  Autopilot in the movie Airplane! — “Floating robot Cimon sent to International Space Station”.

An experimental robot with an animated cartoon face has been sent to the International Space Station (ISS) on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Dubbed Cimon (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), the device is intended as an “an AI-based assistant for astronauts”.

Cimon weighs 5kg but in zero gravity it will float move around thanks to 14 internal fans.

It is an attempt to find out whether robots and astronauts can collaborate.

To this end, Cimon is equipped with microphones and cameras that help it recognise Alexander Gerst, the German astronaut with whom it will work.

(11) SAFETY FIRST. Adweek tells why “This Lovable Aardman Animation Is a Cautionary Tale and a ‘Dam’ Good Lesson”.

Dammy, a Canadian beaver, learns vital safety lessons in this tuneful Aardman-animated video from Ontario Power Generation.

Our anthropomorphized hero—his big, flat tail jutting out from the seat of his pants—loves to fish from a rowboat, and dreams of landing “the big one.” Alas, his quest takes him perilously near a massive hydroelectric dam.

“Don’t ignore that warning sign, your life could be on the line,” croons Canadian folk and bluegrass singer Ken Whiteley on the campfire-song soundtrack he helped compose.

Hey, listen to the lyrics and steer clear of those turbines because the fur could really fly! Of course, Dammy dodges the whammy by the skin of his teeth.


(12) OUR FOREFATHERS, AND FOREMOTHERS. “Partaaaaay like it’s the 60’s. The 1860s, that is,” says Mike Kennedy. “This is cosplay like you’ve never seen before.”

An episode of the Vice video series, American Conventions, takes you inside the annual meeting of the Association of Lincoln Presenters in Freeport IL—which features more than a score of Abraham Lincolns, over a dozen Mary Todd Lincolns, and multiple other period costumers. Each of them seems dedicated to not just dressing the part, but being the part. The 12 minute video is interrupted by two short commercial breaks, but may should be worth your time. And, the ghods know we could use more people in this world with the ethics of Honest Abe (or at least those of his best nature; all people are flawed in some way). The video host—Darlene Demorizi—even gets into the spirit as she dresses as Lincoln and makes a heartfelt toast to the gathered crowd.

(13) ORGANIC INVENTORY OF ENCELADUS. Behind the paywall at Nature: “Macromolecular organic compounds from the depths of Enceladus”.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbours a global water ocean1, which lies under an ice crust and above a rocky core2. Through warm cracks in the crust3 a cryo-volcanic plume ejects ice grains and vapour into space4,5,6,7 that contain materials originating from the ocean8,9. Hydrothermal activity is suspected to occur deep inside the porous core10,11,12, powered by tidal dissipation13. So far, only simple organic compounds with molecular masses mostly below 50 atomic mass units have been observed in plume material6,14,15. Here we report observations of emitted ice grains containing concentrated and complex macromolecular organic material with molecular masses above 200 atomic mass units. The data constrain the macromolecular structure of organics detected in the ice grains and suggest the presence of a thin organic-rich film on top of the oceanic water table, where organic nucleation cores generated by the bursting of bubbles allow the probing of Enceladus’ organic inventory in enhanced concentrations.

The popular science version of this story is free on BBC: “Saturn moon a step closer to hosting life”.

Scientists have found complex carbon-based molecules in the waters of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Compounds like this have only previously been found on Earth, and in some meteorites.

They are thought to have formed in reactions between water and warm rock at the base of the moon’s subsurface ocean.

Though not a sign of life, their presence suggests Enceladus could play host to living organisms.

The discovery came from data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft….

(14) A WORLDWIDE REACH. Jeff VanderMeer shares his appreciation for “The International Covers of The Southern Reach Trilogy”. See the images at the link.

Ever since FSG Originals came out with the now-classic Southern Reach covers, there has been what seems like an ongoing competition to create amazing original art and design for other editions, from the somber grace of the original UK hardcovers to, well, the neon color of the UK paperbacks, which riffed off of FSG’s gutsy X hardcover design. An incredible amount of creativity has gone into these other editions. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the Turkish, South Korean, and Spanish covers (Pablo Delcan!) are right up there. Not to mention the lovely Hungarian cut-out covers and a Ukrainian Brutalist Rubic’s Cube with a tiny cute bunny clinging to one of its levels.

(15) YOUTH WANTS TO KNOW. Yahoo! Entertainment listens in while “Mark Hamill and Chris Evans Discuss Whether a Lightsaber Could Break Captain America’s Shield”.

Mark Hamill and Chris Evans have answered a question that kids everywhere want to know: if Luke Skywalker and Captain America got into a fight, could Luke’s lightsaber break through Cap’s vibranium shield?

(16) INFINITY WAR IMPROVED. Carl Slaughter declares this is “Probably the best How It Should Have Ended episode yet.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jonathan Cowie, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Allan Maurer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

42 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/29/18 My Pixel’s Back, It’s Going To Save My Reputation, If I Were You, I’d Take An Internet Vacation

  1. 2) Indeed

    13) This makes me even more wondering about contamination of Enceladus by any probes we land there. How DO we ensure we can find life when the life we find we might bring? (which dovetails into my recent read/listen of AURORA)

  2. I just want to say how much I appreciate the work that goes into doing these great newsbite round-ups every day. I don’t always comment but I am always the most dedicated of lurkers. You do a wonderful job of producing for and maintaining this site, Mike.

  3. I always liked Aardman’s work, so I enjoyed the 90 seconds from Ontario Power Generation.

    With the Lincoln presenters: I recommend Andrew Ferguson’s LAND OF LINCOLN, an excellent book on Lincoln fandom which includes a report on the Association of Lincoln Presenters convention.

  4. Credential update:

    He’s home, in the Cone of Shame. Hiding in the closet, so it’s going to be a while before I can get the promised photo. Simultaneously stoned and angry.

    Filers have contributed $1500 (!) so far, and it “only” came to a little over $6K, so that helps a LOT. <3

    Update on friend's new baby credential: diaper rash! With no diaper, but same area — he just had his bits removed.

  5. @10: My first reaction on seeing that face was “Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with!”. (From memory — if anyone can authoritatively cite the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation description of their product, feel free.) And I wonder whether anyone on the ISS would get the reference.


    I can see no way whatsoever in which this can possibly go wrong. 😀

  7. (9) Oh sure, there’s nothing creepy about an all-seeing surveillance system being run by an unsocialized alt-right techbro who was too much of a sleaze for Facebook to employ. What could possibly go wrong?!

    (10) I think you mean “Airplane!” Mike. A bit like the ‘bot in “Moon” as well. I’ll appertain myself some of (4).

    (11) “Canada: Even Our Utility Ads Are Nice.”

    (12) I met an association of Santas once.

    (15) awwwww.

  8. @Chip: Let’s just hope it can’t read Gerst’s lips and sing “Bicycle Built For Two”.

    NASA would get all the references; the astronauts probably know most of them.

  9. 13) I’ve never been too worried about the issue of contaminating an alien biosphere. If the environment is so friendly to life that a random selection of our stowaways can thrive, then life is certainly already present. And any present life is going to be better adapted to its environment than anything we introduce, and in any case any stowaways are not going to stop us from studying an entire biosphere.

  10. Ryan H re 13: Note anything we introduce will have gone through thorough pre-selection for hardiness i.e. decontamination procedures.

  11. Other June 29 birthdays:
    Bernard Herrmann (1911)
    Gary Busey (1944 – Predator 2, Silver Bullet)
    Amanda Donahoe (1962 – Lair of the White Worm)
    Slim Pickens (1919 – Dr. Strangelove)
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900 – aviator and author
    The Little Prince)
    astronomer George Hale (1868), founder of observatories Mt Wilson, Palomar, Yerkes

  12. @Errolwi
    Sure, but the venn diagram for decontamination and “can thrive on Enceladus” is far from a circle. And if conditions are that good, there is almost certainly lost of things there already adapted to compete.

  13. 10) I saw a news report about Cimon some time ago. Before I saw the name spelled out, I assumed that he was named after Simon Wright, the scientist turned floating brain in Edmund Hamilton’s Captain Future stories. Because Cimon with a C looks a bit like Simon with an S from the 1970s Captain Future anime, which everybody who was a kid in late 1970s/early 1980s Germany has seen, including Alexander Gerst (we know he is a big fan of Die Sendung mit der Maus, but he probably watched Captain Future as well) and any German developers involved.

  14. 4) The one thing the website won’t tell you is how much it costs.

    9) Fighting wildfires is one of the areas where robots can usefully replace humans. If this works in California, look for it to spread to other states that get wildfire problems.

  15. (2) Milo wants to be the new Harlan so bad he can taste it. Unfortunately for him, he’s hampered by (among other things) a dearth of empathy and a total lack of talent. Okay, maybe not total, but by comparison to Ellison? Might as well be.

    (15) If the thick blast doors in Episode 1 were tough for lightsabers to cut through, and the stormtroopers’ sticks in Episode 7 could completely parry them, I’m willing to at least grant the possibility that Cap’s shield could also block them. It’s really up to whoever’s writing the encounter, though. (If it were me, I’d probably go for a deep cut and say that vibranium or the shield’s alloy is just another name for beskar. We already know vibranium’s an alien metal; maybe it came from a galaxy far, far away.)

    (16) Heh. I am getting a bit tired of the HISHE “everybody joins Superman and Batman in the coffee shop at the end” bit, but the five solutions check out for me.

  16. Lee says 4) The one thing the website won’t tell you is how much it costs.

    Over at the One More Dram site, they say it’ll be sixty dollars a bottle. Not bad for this sort of thing which tends to be overpriced for what you get.

  17. 1) I showed that picture to Adrian, who spends time in Wu’s district, says she doesn’t really seem to be campaigning. (This may mean that Wu is spending her money on television, or carefully targeted Facebook ads, but Adrian has seen a lot more evidence of Flynn’s campaign in South Boston.)

    13) The “popular science version” at the BBC links to an un-paywalled version of the Nature article. The URL for that is five lines in the reply window here, so I made a TinyURL version.

  18. 4
    I’d think that bourbon would be McCoy’s drink of choice, and Kirk would go for whiskey (Scotch or Irish).

  19. @ Rev. Bob: Ellison had enough talent to get away with the Known Asshole Defense (“Oh, that’s just Harlan, you know how he is”) — and that’s on us as much as it is on him. But MY doesn’t even approach that, and apparently he also doesn’t have the ability to turn on the charm when needed, so the “selective memory” thing doesn’t get a chance to kick in.

    @ Cat: Thanks! That’s just about the upper limit of what I’d be willing to pay for what (for me) would be an untouched collector’s item. I’ll think about it.

  20. @Lurkertype: NASA would get all the references; the astronauts probably know most of them. Even English humor? I get that neither the astronaut corps nor NASA as a whole are nearly as buttoned down as they were when my grade-school class was ignoring the teacher to listen to a Mercury launch on somebody’s transistor radio, but I figure they have a wide assortment of reading/hearing experiences. (IIRC the movie didn’t have that line.)

  21. 4) I thought Kirk’s drink of choice would be Romulan Ale. In spite of its illegality.

  22. Agreed that bourbon is a McCoy thing.

    The credential passed a quiet night (and a lot of pee — yay). He’s a Houdini in getting out of the Cone of Shame, so he’s confined to the bedroom. He slept at my feet part of the night, when he was sure I was settled in and not going to grab him for meds. He’s not eating, which is worrisome, but have now tempted him with baby food and soon, Greenies treats.

    We are not his favorite hoomans right now. He’s living in the back end of the closet.

    Have I mentioned how grateful I am for Filers? Even here in 3953.

  23. Lurkertype, I always feel bad about medicating pets, and taking them to the vet, because they can’t understand why we’re doing it. It’s one of the sad parts of being a pet family. They seem to cope, in the end.

    I am also glad he is vigorous enough to object! And eating baby food is a good sign.

  24. 13) NASA and other space agencies are in fact EXTREMELY concerned about possible contamination of Enceladus. That’s why proposed missions (e.g. Enceladus Life Finder) do not involve sending a probe to the surface. That’s also why the Cassini probe was deliberately crashed into Saturn: to make absolutely certain that it would never hit Enceladus.

    As we’ve learned more about the extreme conditions bacteria can survive on Earth, scientists have become less certain they can guarantee the sterility of interplanetary probes.

  25. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading the retro-Hugo nominees, the first time I’ve done this.

    Being able to get the stories from archive.org is great, but whatever system they use to generate PDFs is *terrible*. Letters are blurred and often swapped (especially “b” and “h”).

    It’s fascinating to read the stories in context: I’d read most of the short fiction already, but never in the original magazines.

    I never noticed before the “Waldo” includes this:

    The same war [earlier called “the War of the Fourties] brought atomic energy. The physicists working for the United States army–the United States of North America had its own army then–failed to produce either a super-explosive or a satisfactory power source from Uranium235;

  26. 13) the bottom line is we want to find out if there’s life in other places, not transport it there. Earth bacteria could invalidate any life seeking experiment.

    Given that bacteria have been found on the outside of the ISS, an actual landing probe on Enceladus is going to need extreme decontamination protocols.

  27. @Chip:

    Wait, you’re calling the Mercury astronauts a “buttoned-down” group? The same bunch that included notorious prankster Wally Schirra?

  28. Regarding the Retro-Hugo packet, I noticed a few minor differences between the magazine version of “The Sunken Land” and the version published in Swords Against Death.

  29. @Lurkertype
    Agreed that bourbon is a McCoy thing.

    Depending on how far back in the hills McCoy is from, he may prefer corn likker (“aged on the way to town”).

  30. @Rev. Bob: perhaps I should have said “all-American squares”, based on (inter alia) Alan Shepard’s reported tomcatting, or another astronaut (acting as CapCom) reportedly asking his contact “Are you a turtle?” But AFAICT all of this was within very narrow bounds; can you imagine the answers if you’d asked the seven “read any good books lately?”

  31. There is an episode of ST:tOS where McCoy punches someone out while holding a mint julep in his off-hand and it’s amazing.

  32. @Chip: “or another astronaut (acting as CapCom) reportedly asking his contact “Are you a turtle?””

    I have recorded my answer. 😉

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