Pixel Scroll 6/23/17 Fifth Scroll And Seven Pixels Ago

(1) ASK LOVECRAFT OUT AT YOUTUBE. Ask Lovecraft has been taken down by YouTube for reasons that are unclear. The channel itself is unsearchable, and peoples’ playlists of the episodes now read “This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.”

The Ask Lovecraft outpost on Facebook is no more enlightening about the reasons:

We apologize for the inconvenience but in the midst of our travels, we discovered that our YouTube channel has been temporarily suspended and are working to restore it.

Thank you for your patience.

(2) FUSSIN’ AND FEUDIN’. Entertainment Weekly reveals the new series will make a change in Trek’s culture: “Star Trek: Discovery to ditch a long frustrating Trek rule”.

in “Star Trek:  Discovery Throws Out Long-Standing Trek Rule” on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, James Hibberd says that the showrunners for Star Trek:  Discovery have thrown out the rule that crew members can’t fight each other or be portrayed negatively.

As part of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s utopian vision of the future (and one that Trek franchise executive producer Rick Berman carried on after Roddenberry’s death in 1991), writers on Trek shows were urged to avoid having Starfleet crew members in significant conflict with one another (unless a crew member is, say, possessed by an alien force), or from being shown in any seriously negative way.

This guideline wasn’t strictly followed across all 700 previous franchise episodes, of course (there are especially some notable exceptions in The Original Series). But in an aspirational effort to make the future more idyllic, Starfleet crew members typically weren’t supposed to demonstrate baser human flaws. For writers on Trek shows, the restriction has been a point of behind-the-scenes contention (one TNG and Voyager writer, Michael Piller, famously dubbed it “Roddenberry’s Box”). Drama is conflict, after all, and if all the conflict stems from non-Starfleet members on a show whose regular cast consists almost entirely of Starfleet officers, it hugely limits the types of stories that can be told.

So for the CBS All Access series coming Sept. 24, that restriction has been lifted and the writers are allowed to tell types of stories that were discouraged for decades….

(3) TECHNICAL CORRECTION. When I checked NerdConHQ’s poll “Con of the Year 2016 – FAN Votes”, leading the voting was Cyprus Comic Con in Nicosia on the island of Cyprus. Either that’s one hell of a con, or somebody is doing to this poll what the Plokta cabal did to a Scifi Channel poll back in the dawn of the internet.

(4) WISE CRACKS. In Episode 41 of Eating the Fantastic, Scott Edelman invites listeners to “Crack open fortune cookies with Dennis Etchison”.

Dennis is a writer and editor who’s a three-time World Fantasy Award winner and a three-time British Fantasy Award winner. His 1982 debut short story collection, The Dark Country, is one of the best horror short story collections ever. And you don’t have to take my word for how good he is—some guy named Stephen King has called him “one hell of a fiction writer.”

We discussed how Philip K. Dick staged scenes as he wrote his stories, Ray Bradbury’s baffling advice which helped Etchison make his first fiction sale, whether he’d still have become a writer had he not been an only child, why most writing workshops don’t work, how he came to write his best-selling Halloween novel for John Carpenter in six weeks, the speech he really wanted to give when he received his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, and more.

(5) FROM THE TOP OF THE STACK. In “Recent Reading”, Ann Leckie shares her thoughts about The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata, All Systems Red by Martha Wells, and Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns.

(6) SO SUMO. Who doesn’t love fighting robots, right? The Verge has video: “These autonomous sumo wrestling bots are freakishly fast”.

If you haven’t seen robot sumo wrestling before, then you’re in for a treat. Trust me. Most robot versions of human sports are underwhelming, but as this video compilation shows, the mechanical take on Japan’s national sport is very fast and very furious. And why? Because engineers aren’t trying to copy human performance. Instead, they concentrate on the qualities that robots excel at: namely lightning-fast decision-making and insane turns of speed.


  • Typewriter Day

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

There’s a sound we all know, even if we don’t quite recall it. It’s the mechanical clatter of a typewriter in action. It is reminiscent in the soulless tapping of keys on modern keyboards and recalled in the sounds of the elite of the keyboard world, the mechanical keyboard. But none of them quite reach the splendor and grandeur of a typewriter in action. Typewriter Day celebrates this humble device and the amazing pieces of literature it’s brought to us over the decades.


  • June 23, 1956 — Abbott & Costello met the Mummy
  • June 23, 1976 — Dystopic sci-fi classic Logan’s Run races into theaters
  • June 23, 1989 — Tim Burton’s blockbuster Batman opens to huge crowds


We commend to C.S. Lewis fans’ attention Rhymes With Orange for June 21.

(10) BRILLIANT CASTING. David Thayer picked up what he likes to call his Retro-Hugo Nominee pin — a little, Flash Gordon-esque rocket — at Jim Clift’s lapel pin site. Clift has created quite a few interesting items, for example, his collection of science lapel pins.

(11) ELECTRICAL CONDUCTOR. The orchestra that recorded Star Wars used modern tech for advertising: processed motion capture of Simon Rattle as poster backgrounds. “Watch Conductor Simon Rattle Turn Into A High-Tech Tangle Of Spaghetti” advertises London Symphony Orchestra.

Now here’s a creative way to promote your upcoming symphony season and up your brand: Strap your conductor in a motion capture suit, switch on a dozen high-tech cameras, and get an artist to translate the data into kaleidoscopic shapes and colors.

Then sit back and watch as Simon Rattle, who takes over the storied London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) this fall, morphs into an oozing blob, a twisting tower of metallic rods and, rather deliciously, a tangle of angel hair pasta. (Well, that’s what it looks like to me.)


Chip Hitchcock adds, “And Disney would plotz if he could see some of the web advertising from the same tech: web advertising from the same tech.”

(12) WHAT WOULD SCOTTY THINK? Entertainment Weekly teases more images from Star Trek: Discovery.

Here’s a first look one of the transporter rooms (yes, there are more than one) featured in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery. Above we see Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) preparing to beam down to … somewhere.

You’ll notice they’re wearing body armor (another interesting addition) and have old school The Original Series phasers at the ready. In the foreground on the left is the back of Lt. Saru (Doug Jones) a new form of alien in the Trek universe who plays a key role.

This particular transporter bay is aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou and it’s unlike any that Trek fans have ever seen before. So if you love this new design, great, it’s in the show. If you don’t, hold that thought, because the transporter bay in the U.S.S. Discovery is very different from this one (and has not yet been seen).

Star: Trek Discovery is a prequel set 10 years before the events in The Original Series and focuses on two Starships, the Discovery and the Shenzhou. The Discovery is a newer vessel while the Shenzhou is an older model. The bridge scenes in the trailer are also aboard the Shenzhou rather than the Discovery.


(13) RELIC OF WAR. My benighted boast about my site traffic is destined to live on in the annals of humor unto the second fifth generation. Someone screencapped this hack of File 770’s Wikipedia entry. The punchline at the end of the second paragraph made me laugh.

(14) PLANETARY AWARD. Your 2016 Planetary Award winners are:

  • Best Short Story: “Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom (Thune’s Vision)
  • Best Novel: Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright

Any book blogger, podcaster, or “booktuber” is eligible to nominate for the award. This year’s nominators included Jeffro Johnson, Jon del Arroz, Brian Niemeier and The Injustice Gamer.

(15) APPROACHING THE FINNISH LINE. SFWA broadcasts Sylvia Spruck Wrigley’s “Ten Tips For First-Time Travelers to Helsinki”.

WorldCon in Helsinki is THE social event of the year, and we’re all really looking forward to it. However, for many people, it might be the first time traveling to a country where English is not the native language. This can be nerve-wracking because it is impossible to know what to expect. In a vague attempt to help, I’ve created this ten-point list of how to cope.

1) Research before you go. Read articles. Pick up a travel book. If you are comfortable with Reddit, browse through https://www.reddit.com/r/helsinki/ or even take part in https://www.reddit.com/r/Worldcon75/ and get to know people before you even arrive. Use Google Street View to explore your neighborhood. Look up the address and phone number of the American consulate. Install Duolingo and practice five minutes of Finnish a day for four weeks.

[Thanks to JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belong to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

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85 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/23/17 Fifth Scroll And Seven Pixels Ago

  1. 2) While I’m happy that ST writers can now tell interpersonal conflict stories, I’m expecting a rash of soap opera style plot lines.
    Please tell me I’m too cynical.

  2. @C.A. Collins:

    I am even more cynical, and I expect a rash of characters who are assholes for the sake of being assholes. But I will not be watching, so I will only be troubled by the faint wailing of my friends on my FB feed.

  3. In other news, I desire advice from the File 770 hive mind. I started reading KUSHIEL’S DART this week, and I am flummoxed. How can a book with this much sex and political plotting be so dull? Is it ever going to get exciting? I”m about 25% in, and Phrede has just gotten her disapproving body guard*. Are things ever going to pick up and get interesting, or should this go into the “not for me” pile?

    *Given that at their first meeting he apparently despises her and she thinks he’s hot, I’m guessing romance will blossom between the the two, because of course it does.

  4. @Nancy Sauer
    I have similar worries. Plus, the fact that apparently Star Trek: Discovery will be a serial and not have standalone eps like the earlier Star Trek also don’t fill me with confidence. Frankly, I fear that this will be the Star Trek equivalent of the new Battlestar Galactica. Though the trailer/preview clip shown a while back looked more promising than I would have thought.

  5. (1) Eaten by something squamous and rugose, no doubt.

    (2) Like Spock and McCoy always used to bicker?

    (3) What did Plokta do? I can’t remember, though I should.

    (7) Ooh, we were ahead of our time, having that discussion earlier in the week!

    (10) Nice lapel pins (which might also be tie tacks), earrings, and magnets.

    @Nancy Sauer: I too think this will be an excuse for assholery in the Federation. We’ll be lucky if it’s only soap opera.

  6. (2) As one who dwelt in Roddenberry’s Box, I can but shout “BE FREE, NEW-TREK WRITERS!” and wish them all well. Ain’t no drama in perfect characters.

  7. 2) Another reason not to watch the new Star Trek. It’s like nobody at the studio knows what made the star trek universe so appealing.
    @ Nancy Saeur. No, Kusheil Dart doesn’t get any more exciting – more stuff happens in the second half, but if you are finding the sex dull now, you will continue to find it dull later and that takes out a chunk of the book.

  8. Hugo reading update:

    The reread of “The Ballad of Black Tom” has caused it to rocket up my ballot. It will now duke it out with “Penric and the Shaman” for third place.

    I really enjoyed All the Birds in the Sky, and it is sitting in the top position waiting for me to read Ninefox Gambit. Which I start tomorrow.

  9. Lurkertype: (3) What did Plokta do? I can’t remember, though I should.

    For years afterwards you could still visit Scifi.com’s poll of the 2003 Hugo nominees and see where Plokta outpolled Emerald City in the Best Fanzine category, 10,186 to 643. (Never mind that the eventual 2003 winner was Mimosa.)

  10. Oh, right, I remember now! I… might have participated in that. But 2003 wasn’t the dawn of the internet. Not even the web. Thus my confusion.

    @Mart: yeah, it’s a shame that the best of the sequel serieses gets no respect. There was some straight-up hatin’ going on on DS9.

  11. (9) COMIC SECTION. Hehehe. Very cute!

    (10) BRILLIANT CASTING. Brontosaurus and stegosaurus, yay. The tornado one makes me think of fantasy (The Wizard of Oz), though, not science. 😉

    @lurkertype: I hadn’t thought of using those as tie tacks; hmm! Thanks for the idea.

    @Nancy Sauer: Some of the characters in Star Trek are already jerks, so will much really change? 😉

    – – – – –

    Interesting article here about twin astronauts and one aspect of how they may age differently in space, related to telomeres (though it doesn’t actually sound like it’s related to being in space exactly). There’s a video talking about it at the end of the article, though it seems to have been taped before or during the study, and before the article summarizing the findings.

  12. Kushiel’s Dart is one of my favourite books, both because of the language and because of the sex. But if you find it dull at the start, you will most likely continue to find it dull. But there will be more action and things will be shaken up a bit more. Give it 25% more and decide then.

  13. (13) RELIC OF WAR.
    It’s still up at Infogalactic, where the revision history claims it was “edited to match a recent update at Wikipedia”.

  14. @hampus I agree with Hampus. If you do find it dull from the start, that is not likely to improve.

    It took me a few books in the series before I decided I had had enough of the world and stopped reading them but I did enjoy the first few books all right.

  15. So I’m reading my Hugo Voter’s edition of Death’s End, and there’s something that’s bothering me. I’m maybe 2/3 of the way through it, and I’ve encountered five or six apparent footnotes or endnotes… and I don’t see the corresponding note. Anyone else notice this? Do other editions have the notes? And can anyone tell me why I’m still slogging through the infodumps….?

  16. @Nancy Sauer – Even though I quite liked Kushiel’s Dart, I have to disagree with Hampus. The things Carey is good at remain good, but she doesn’t up her game at any point. So, yes, things do happen (so many things, some of them in the vein of “I can top this”), but if you’re bored now, that probably won’t change. Also, the book is much shorter if you skip the sex.

    (5) FROM THE TOP OF THE STACK – I was already looking forward to reading two of the novels Leckie recommends, but now I think I want the Stearns as well. I’m using Linda Nagata’s new book as additional incentive to finally read The Obelisk Gate, which I’ve had since it came out and have been avoiding.

  17. @Cassy B: my Kindle edition definitely has footnotes, and they’re, well, there. I haven’t really checked the one from the Hugo packet, though.

    As for the infodumps, I have no sympathy at all, I’m afraid. They’re traditional! Isaac Asimov had infodumps! Besides, I am currently slogging through the J. Mulrooney epic for the Campbell Award, and I would love the comparative literary brilliance of some good infodumping. Embrace the infodumps!

  18. @Steve Wright

    How long is the Mulrooney? I’m not looking forward to trying it tbh, but forewarned is forearmed, etc.

  19. @6: looks like we don’t need to worry about our robot overlords pushing us out of the ring just yet, considering the number of bots than ran out of the ring right after their oppponents.

    @7: not a unique source for that quote, but possibly the oldest and certainly appropriate; I overheard a radio comment ~yesterday about Hemingway’s papers containing 46 endings for The Sun Also Rises.

    @15: clever and funny, although I take exception with her closing “Worldcon is extremely biased towards the US.” Among other counters, I think* this will be the first time that a credible non-NorthAmerican bid will have been voted on at a non-NA Worldcon, which (based on typical membership figures) suggests that a lot of NA fans will pick (or stand aside for) a non-NA Worldcon. (Yes, Helsinki lost a previous bid — after seeing what they felt were weak competitors and jumping in late.)

    @Soon Lee: for those not wanting to wait for tons of loading, the dodge is shown in a separate clip (~4th video). I have this earworm of the winner saying “What a depressingly stupid machine.”

    @lurkertype re @2: that’s just old-style male bonding ;-). (Remember, Roddenberry pitched the show as “Wagon Train in space”.)

    (*) There are plenty of listings of past Worldcons, but my feeble excuse for web-fu doesn’t find a comprehensive listing of bids that made it to the ballot. Zagreb in 1993 is the only ballot case I can think of, and they had … issues.

  20. @Nancy Sauer: A stroke book is a stroke book, no matter its pretensions. It’s designed to do a small number of things well and the rest, if there is any, is just gravy.

  21. @Mark: The status bar says I am on page 401 of 500 right now… so, in terms of pages, 500. In terms of weariness of the spirit… I’ll have to get back to you.

  22. So far, the Seth Mcfarlin (sp?) version looks like the better of the two new Treks.

  23. @Cassy B. My Hugo packet copy of ‘Death’s End’ has the footnotes right at the very end, after the notes about the author, translator and a Tor.com spruik. I had to check. Was so relieved to be finished that I scrolled no further than the last page of the novel.

  24. Yay, Hugo reading! I just finished Ninefox Gambit, which was quite good, though it probably won’t take the top spot from The Obelisk Gate. “Ninefox” is absurdly labelled Hard Science Fiction at Amazon.com; there’s little science, if any, and none of it hard science (most of it seems to be tied into calendrical magic). To me, it was fantasy with spaceships, and that’s fine – again, I enjoyed it! I’ve enjoyed a few other F-SF meldings before (e.g., A.C. Crispin’s Storms of Destiny), though usually I prefer things to be fish or fowl – not both.* But this worked fine for me. I’m just rolling my eyes at calling “Ninefox” “hard science fiction.” 😛

    * ObStarWars: Star Wars is SF to me, despite the Force. Most of the SF bits are bog-standard and don’t run on the Force, whereas most of the SF in “Ninefox” runs on calendrical magic. Again that’s fine – but it makes it tough for me to read it as SF. BTW I like SF and F pretty equally.

    Now I’m concerned because the description of book 2 sounds an awful lot like book 1. I hope Lee continues and doesn’t just repeat the first book.

    But the Hugos keep calling my name, so I’m putting off Raven Stratagem a while.

    Hmm, it sounds like All the Birds in the Sky is also SF+F, and that’s probably next on my list (or trying to get back into A Close and Common Orbit, which hopefully picks up [ETA: i.e., hopefully gets more interesting] right after when I paused my reading).


  25. Now I’m concerned because the description of book 2 sounds an awful lot like book 1. I hope Lee continues and doesn’t just repeat the first book.

    Raven Stratagem is much more people and much less magic/calendrical whatever. It’s a lot easier to read.

  26. (2) There were ALWAYS characters who disliked each other, usually they got stuck together somewhere and were forced to work together (which often was cheesy, but their were some good ones as well).
    In DS9 there were also some questionable characters like Garak or Quark (at least in the earlier seasons). Kira was no shining hero. Sisko did release bioweapons on a planet just to catch…whatwashisname? Not to forget the episode In the pale moonlight. .
    So, I dont think that much will change…

  27. @P J Evans: Cool, thanks. To clarify – I’m fine with the magic stuff, but the plot sounded suspiciously similar.

  28. Re #2: I did always find it odd that everyone in Starfleet was good and noble until they reached the rank of Admiral, and then, suddenly, about half of them turned out to be villains. 🙂 (I assume Admirals don’t count as “crew members.)

    Isn’t it a pixel? Isn’t it a scroll?
    How we break each other’s hearts, and post only to troll?

  29. I am currently enjoying A Close and Common Orbit. I wasn’t going to read it at all because I bounced off of the first one, too many introductions and not enough explosions. Plus she does a lot of body swapping, and I’ve got a personal prejudice against that. BUT, several Filers mentioned it was optimistic and life-affirming, which is a trend I try to support.

    (2) This is the element that put ST into Uncanny Valley for me. Too much unrealistic camaraderie, with all the conflict resulting from interaction with less evolved beings.

    (15) My Facebook feed informs me there is a Finnish metal band for children called Hevisaurus, made up of band members who dress up as dinosaurs. If anybody has a chance to catch them live during Worldcon, please post pics.

  30. @Charon D.: Wut? ::searches:: ::clicks:: Woah! 😀 LOL, are they going to be at Worldcon?! If so, must see and must take pix. I mean, I’m not into metal, but that’s adorably bizarre!

  31. Speaking of evil Starfleet Admirals, what ever happened to all those Starfleet Admirals infected with the brain parasite at the end of season 1?

  32. John A Arkansawyer: Love or hate Kushiel’s Dart (I’m middling), it’s not intended as a stroke book. Not every book with a lot of sex is about sex for the sake of getting the reader off.

  33. Kendall on June 24, 2017 at 11:32 am said:

    Yay, Hugo reading! I just finished Ninefox Gambit, which was quite good, though it probably won’t take the top spot from The Obelisk Gate. “Ninefox” is absurdly labelled Hard Science Fiction at Amazon.com; there’s little science, if any, and none of it hard science (most of it seems to be tied into calendrical magic).

    What do you mean not hard science?? It says maths *right there*.

    Also Worldcon 75 has posted their opening hours. And, as promised, the Hugos are on Friday night.

    Dear Worldcon 76, would you also consider having the Hugos on Friday, pretty please? As long as the Business Meeting has Hugo-related business to dig through, having that extra day really helps.
    A Business Meeting Wonk

  34. @Cat Rambo: Thanks for the link and congrats to the winners.


  35. BOOK UPDATE: I gave Kushiel’s Dart another chance and slogged through a few more chapters. Nope. I am unable to care if any of the characters live or die. I can sorta see what others might like about it, but I’m bouncing hard.

    Recommended for those who like really, really slow-moving political thrillers.

    John A Arkansawyer: Do not read for its sexual content, unless you find pedantry a turn-on.

  36. I’m really surprised that Death’s End won. While an argument could be made that with all of its Hugo rivals for Best Novel either in other Locus Awards categories, or failing to make the top 10 in any category, it had a much better chance of winning, I’m still stuck back at the starting line of thinking it’s not that good a book, so why would it win an award?

  37. @Steve Wright / Mark: I put the Mulrooney to one side once it had provided sufficient evidence that I could put the author beneath No Award with a clear conscience (which did not take anywhere near 400 pages). One thing I will say for it, though: it also gave me all the evidence I needed that its editor also belongs below No Award.

  38. @Peter J: I agree. Being a morbid completist, I slogged my way through to the end (or, at least, to the point where Mulrooney also got bored with it and gave up.) It’s a mess on almost every level, but I think even a half-decent editor could have pulled it into some sort of shape. But, alas….

  39. @Mike Glyer –…I’m still stuck back at the starting line of thinking it’s not that good a book, so why would it win an award?

    And Rendezvous with Rama won a Hugo. There is clearly a market for books with fascinating ideas, wooden characters, and leaden prose, plus damp squibs for endings, even if some of us are baffled.

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