Pixel Scroll 7/2/19 Just A Pixel Scroll, Filing Is Our Only Goal

(1) OVERVIEW. Neil Clarke’s “A State of the Short SF Field in 2018” from The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 4 can be read by clicking Amazon’s “Look Inside the Book” feature here. The free preview contains the whole of Neil’s summary of the short SF field. Gardner Dozois used to write something similar in his annual anthologies, and it’s nice to see Neil stepping up here. Plenty of interesting analysis and opinions.

(2) KNITTING TOGETHER A COMMUNITY. “The Raksura Colony Tree” is a project to be presented at Dublin 2019, inspired by Martha Wells’ previously Hugo-nominated series Books of the Raksura.

If you’re coming to Dublin to join in the fun and are interested in creating things with needle and thread, this is your chance to be an active part in a community art project.

Cora Buhlert recently posted something she was inspired to do:

There are examples of many different types of foliage that people have come up with here.

(3) WARTS AND ALL. James Davis Nicoll rises to the defense of “Ten Favorite Flawed Books That Are Always Worth Rereading” at Tor.com. Here’s one of them —

The eponymous station in Richard C. Meredith’s We All Died At Breakaway Station is a vital link in humanity’s communications network. It’s the facility through which hard-won information about the genocidal alien Jillies must pass. Therefore, the Jillies plan to destroy it. Absalom Bracer’s convoy is determined to defend it, despite the notable disadvantage that said convoy consists of a hospital ship and two escorts crewed by the walking wounded. The prose goes beyond purple into ultraviolet, but the novel delivers on its title with grand explosions and heroic sacrifices.

(4) BY ANY OTHER NAME. Futurism explains how “This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like ‘Ass Federation’ And ‘Hot Pie’ Because Robots Can Be Weird Too”

Ship Shape

Scottish author Iain M. Banks populated his sci-fi Culture book series with humanoid robots, alien races, and artificially intelligent spaceships that chose their own names.

So: Research scientist Janelle Shane thought it would be fun to use those ship names to train a real neural network to — what else? — conjure up new names for self-aware spaceships. The results? Hilarious. Puzzling. Generally? Great.

(5) SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE. The kickoff event of the Speculative Collective Salon on July 11 will feature best-selling authors Jennifer Brody, Rachel A. Marks, and Neo Edmund.

Join us to launch the SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE Salon, a new quarterly gathering of SoCal’s growing speculative fiction community. The program will include a reading and conversation with best-selling authors Jennifer Brody, Rachel A. Marks, and Neo Edmund. The authors will have books to sell and sign, and time will be set aside to network and chat with likeminded fans of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. The event will take place at 1888 Center, 115 N. Orange St., Orange, CA. Admission is free. Come early to enjoy the venue’s art gallery and bookstore or pick up something to drink from the in-house Contra Coffee & Tea shop.

Their next event is:

October 10, 2019: The SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE Salon, featuring USA Today best-selling author Russell Nohelty, YA science fiction author Merrie Destefano, and Dr. David Sandner, an English professor at California State University, Fullerton, who also publishes speculative fiction and non-fiction.

(6) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in our Future Tense Fiction series is “Space Leek,” by Chen Qiufan/Stanley Chen.

I blinked. The walls and floors of the cabin vibrated as the spaceship adjusted its docking position, waking me up from my nap. My partner, Jing, was busily checking the dashboard.

“Are we there yet?” I mumbled.

“Look, it’s the Roast Garlic. Your favorite.” She pointed to the porthole.

The floating Yutu-3 space station gradually enlarged in my sight as I gazed out the porthole. I smiled. This was my third time up here, yet my eyes still widened when I saw it.

“Roast Garlic” was the nickname I had given the space station….

There’s a response essay, “What Will Humans Really Need in Space?”, by architecture professor and space settlements expert Fred Scharmen.

…The 1975 study was on the design of large-scale space settlements. These would be located, like the Yutu-3 space station in Chen Qiufan’s story, at the Earth-moon Lagrangian points where gravity between these two bodies allows for stable orbits. Unlike the Yutu-3 (or as the characters in the story call it, the Roast Garlic), these were not intended to be purely research stations. They would be home to about 10,000 people engaged in the work of building solar-powered satellites.

The team realized that these people would need to bring, or make, all of the things they needed themselves….


  • July 2, 1939 — The first Worldcon begins in New York, continuing to July 4. Attendance is approximately 200.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 2, 1914 Hannes Bok. He’s a writer,  artist and illustrator who created nearly one hundred and fifty covers for various detective, fantasy and sf fiction magazines. He shared one of the inaugural 1953 Hugo Awards for science fiction achievement for Best Cover Artist with Ed Emshwiller. He also wrote a handful of novels, the best known being The Sorcerer’s Ship,  The Blue Flamingo and Beyond the Golden Stair. (Died 1964.)
  • Born July 2, 1933 Gloria Castillo. She first shows up in a genre role in Invasion of the Saucer Men (which also bore the title of Invasion of the Hell Creatures). Later she would be in Teenage Monster, and had an appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1978.)
  • Born July 2, 1948 Saul Rubinek, 71. Primarily of interest for being on Warehouse 13  as Artie Nielsen, but he does show rather often else on genre series and films including going on EurekaMasters of Horror, Person of InterestBeauty & the BeastStargate SG-1The Outer Limits and Star Trek: The Next GenerationMemory Run and Death Ship are seeming to be his only only genre films. 
  • Born July 2, 1950 Stephen R. Lawhead, 69. I personally think that The Pendragon Cycle is by far his best work though the King Raven Trilogy with its revisionist take on Robin Hood is intriguing. And I read the first two of the Bright Empires series which very much worth reading.
  • Born July 2, 1951 Elisabeth Brooks. She is no doubt best remembered for her role as the evil, leather-clad siren Marsha Quist in The Howling. Her other genre appearances included Deep SpaceThe Six Million Dollar ManKolchak: The Night Stalker and The Forgotten One. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 2, 1956 Kay Kenyon, 63. Writer of the truly awesome The Entire and the Rose series which I enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read her Dark Talents series, so opinions please.
  • Born July 2, 1965 Jerry Hall, 54. She seems to wandered into a number of films down the years such as Alicia in Batman and Newswoman in Freejack, not to Woman in Park in Vampire in Brooklyn. Not real roles, just there. 
  • Born July 2, 1970 Yancy Butler, 49. Detective Sara Pezzini on the Witchblade series which would’ve been awesome with current CGI. She was later Avedon Hammond in Ravager, Captain Kate Roebuck in Doomsday Man, Angie D’Amico in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Reba in Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, Officer Hart in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (also known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel and the 420 Witch) (given the latter, a career low for her) and Alexis Hamilton in Death Race 2050. Series work other than Witchblade wasa recurring role as Sgt. Eve Edison in Mann & Machine inher first genre role.
  • Born July 2, 1990 Margot Robbie, 29. Harley Quinn in what I consider the second best Suicide Squad film, the best being the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which also has a better Harley Quinn in it. Just saying. She both acting and producing the forthcoming Birds of Prey film. She has since played Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan, and voiced Flopsy Rabbit in Peter Rabbit


(10) SAD STORY. Rachel Weiner in the Washington Post reports that Pankaj Bashin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in his murder of Bradford Jackson.  Bashin claimed that Jackson was turning into a werewolf and had to be killed to “save 99 percent of the moon and planets.” “Man who thought he killed werewolf in Alexandria pleads not guilty by reason of insanity”.

(11) PHONE SURVEILLANCE IN CHINA. Vice / Motherboard reports  “China Is Forcing Tourists to Install Text-Stealing Malware at its Border”. Tagline: “The malware downloads a tourist’s text messages, calendar entries, and phone logs, as well as scans the device for over 70,000 different files.”

Foreigners crossing certain Chinese borders into the Xinjiang region, where authorities are conducting a massive campaign of surveillance and oppression against the local Muslim population, are being forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities, a collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the German public broadcaster NDR has found.

(12) HEART OF DARKNESS. Not that we don’t have problems of our own — Vice / Motherboard covered that story, too: “How Amazon and the Cops Set Up an Elaborate Sting Operation That Accomplished Nothing” Tagline: “Behind-the-scenes emails show how Amazon and Ring worked with police in Aurora, Colorado to make people scared of each other.”

For Amazon, fear is good for business.

If customers fear their neighbors, and fear they might steal a package, customers are less likely to be mad at Amazon if they don’t get a package they ordered. They’re also more likely to buy an Amazon-owned Ring doorbell camera, which is marketed as way of surveilling your stoop for package deliveries and package thieves—especially on Neighbors, the Ring-owned “neighborhood watch” app.

(13) DEEP DIVE. Doris V. Sutherland has a set of “2019 Hugo Award Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics. Here’s an excerpt from the review of Brooke Bolander’s story:

Parts of The Only Harmless Great Thing are written from the perspective of elephant-kind. These are framed as tales told by a mother elephant to her calves, recalling certain sequences from Bolander’s other Hugo finalist of the year, “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” – as with that story there is a distinct Kipling influence, complete with the occasional “best beloved”. Storytelling is important to elephants, we are told: “Without stories there is no past, no future, not We. There is Death. There is Nothing, a night without moon or stars.”

(14) INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. “Scientists ‘speechless’ at Arctic fox’s epic trek” – BBC has the story.

A young Arctic fox has walked across the ice from Norway’s Svalbard islands to northern Canada in an epic journey, covering 3,506 km (2,176 miles) in 76 days.

“The fox’s journey has left scientists speechless,” according to Greenland’s Sermitsiaq newspaper.

Researchers at Norway’s Polar Institute fitted the young female with a GPS tracking device and freed her into the wild in late March last year on the east coast of Spitsbergen, the Svalbard archipelago’s main island.

The fox was under a year old when she set off west in search of food, reaching Greenland just 21 days later – a journey of 1,512 km – before trudging forward on the second leg of her trek.

She was tracked to Canada’s Ellesmere Island, nearly 2,000 km further, just 76 days after leaving Svalbard.

What amazed the researchers was not so much the length of the journey as the speed with which the fox had covered it – averaging just over 46 km (28.5 miles) a day and sometimes reaching 155 km.

(15) ALIEN TERRAIN. BBC will explain “How Iceland helped humans reach the moon”— photos and essay.

Fifty years after the first moon landing, a small Icelandic town celebrates its pivotal role in propelling humankind into space.

…Yet few people realise that this triumphant leap for mankind was propelled in part from an unlikely place: Iceland. In the years preceding the Apollo 11 mission, Nasa believed it was essential for its astronauts to prepare for their intragalactic journey by training in the most otherworldly terrain on Earth. After scouring the globe, officials determined that the moon’s lunar landscape was strikingly similar to that just outside Húsavík, a quiet 2,300-person fishing community on Iceland’s northern coast. Nasa sent 32 astronauts to train in its crater-filled terrain in 1965 and 1967. Incredibly, of the 12 humans who have ever walked on the moon, nine first touched down in Húsavík – including Armstrong himself.

…Next stop: Mars

For several years, Nasa has been studying geothermal sites in Iceland as a way to prepare for its ambitious plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020. According to planetary scientists, Iceland’s glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs are eerily similar to how Mars looked billions of years ago, and by studying subtle marks in Iceland’s iron-rich rocks, scientists are able to detect clues indicating where water once flowed.

“The Apollo astronauts I have met have told me that Iceland [is] an even better place to train astronauts to visit Mars than it was for the Moon,” Örlygsson said. “We know a lot about the geology of Mars because rovers have been studying the surface of Mars for some time. What they have discovered is that there are many more similarities between the geology here in Iceland and the geology of Mars.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Wet Book Rescue” on YouTube offers practical advice on rescuing wet books from the Syracuse University Libraries.

[Thanks to James Davis Nicoll, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Darrah Chavey, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]

35 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/2/19 Just A Pixel Scroll, Filing Is Our Only Goal

  1. (16) I cringe at the sight of such a badly water-damaged book.

    “Will the real Pixel Scroll please stand up?”

  2. Saw the new Spider-Man movie and I generally enjoyed it. Your socks will stay on for the most part, but it is solid entertainment. There are two bumps and both are worth watching.

  3. “We Scroll So You Don’t Have To!”

    [Sorry, no avatar. For some reason, auto-fill insisted–repeatedly–on putting in the address that doesn’t link to Gravatar. “Something there is that doesn’t link a Gravatar,” as the bard says.]

  4. @4: a cute idea, but another proof that AI has a way to go; the names are word-saladish rather than suggesting something intelligent enough to have a sense of humor.

    @11 is unsurprising (the BBC recently ran film taken in a “re-education” center); @12 is appalling, but not as surprising as it ought to be.

    @16: excellent work displayed; I hope I’ll never have to try it.

    @Rob Thornton (et al): the local reviewer gave it three of four stars: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is a wholesome teen comedy disguised as a superhero movie (may be paywalled shortly)

    Tech fun: Robobee is now flying without an external power source

    edit: Fifth!

  5. (15) It is of course technically accurate to call the trip from Earth to the Moon “intragalactic,” but it also seems very odd.

    (11) and (12) I would call them both appalling but not surprising.

  6. (16) thanks! I have a bookshelf under a widow that leaked during a cloudburst. Could have used these techniques for the books that got wet.

  7. 2) Thanks for the plug, Mike. If any Filers are crafty and have some yarn lying around, consider joining in and contributing something to the project. It doesn’t have to be a whole tree, we also need vines, shrubs and particularly ground covering.

    Also, Filers going to Dublin should feel free to drop by and join in. The tree won’t be finished, so we can always use extra hands. We’ll have needles, yarn, knitting spools, etc… on site. Donations of leftover yarn are also appreciated.

    8) Regarding Kay Kenyon’s Dark Talents series, I translated the German dialogue for the books.

  8. 6) Read and enjoyed the “Space Leek” story.

    But… when the page came up,it was with one of those “We see you’re using an ad-blocker” pop-ups over the page. I clicked on the pop-up’s “x”-box, and it went away, allowing me to read the story.

    But… there were blocks of white space that interrupted the story, spaces where I assume ads would have appeared if I’d turned off my ad-blocker like the pop-up had wanted. TWENTY-THREE blocks of white space.

    Does anyone, ever, actually turn off their ad-blockers? And why the hell would they?

  9. I do like that although Avatar’s trees have come and gone, Raksura Colony Trees are a thing.

    I remember reading THE CLOUD ROADS back in the day, happy that after a number of years of quiet, Martha Wells was back on the scene again.

  10. @Paul Weimer
    It’s a pity you won’t be able to see the tree in person in Dublin, but I’ll take lots of photos so you can enjoy it remotely.

  11. @Bruce Arthurs: it’s possible some people are affected by the whinging, which probably had a 1–coder-hour one-time cost on the grounds that it-just-might-work. Others may react to a counterblock: I’ve walked away from at least one Pixel link that refused to show me anything unless I turned off blocking. I would be much more likely to whitelist sites if they would promise not to use dynamic ads, which appear to eat large fractions of my computer (when I read the BBC, which the current blocker doesn’t touch).

  12. July 2 was also the birthday for Herman Hesse author of The Glass Bead Game. Can someone be described as a retro Hugo finalist?

    Also Cyril Kornbluth, author and Futurian. Wikipedia says he gets mentioned in one of the Lemony Snicket books. And I probably best know his works from one that was adapted for an episode of The Night Gallery.

    File found in a Chinese Fortune Pixel

  13. Amusingly, Saul Rubinek’s role in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION is as a collector. Role training?

  14. C.M.Kornbluth’s “The Little Black Bag” has been adapted for television three times, in : “Tales of Tomorrow”, “Out of the Unknown’ and “Night Gallery”.

  15. Robert Whitaker Sirignano notes Amusingly, Saul Rubinek’s role in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION is as a collector. Role training?

    Certainly it was appropriate given his Warehouse role.

  16. Arte Johnson also had a minor role in an episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Whole Truth”), had a role on Lost in Space, voiced Weerd on the 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo cartoons, was Renfield in Love at First Bight, and was a cousin to Samantha Stephens on Bewitched.

    By the time I get to Pixel, she’ll be scrolling

  17. @Soon Lee

    That potential scroll title hits me right —-> <3 <—- there. Great choice.

    TANSTAAFL/TINSTAAFL/TNSTAAFL – Truth no matter how you slice it.

  18. While Saul Rubinek did appear in Eureka, I don’t think it counts as a separate role, since it was a cross-over with Warehouse 13. A cross-over that implicitly eliminated any lingering doubts anyone might have had about whether Eureka was science fiction or science fantasy. 🙂

  19. Xtifr says While Saul Rubinek did appear in Eureka, I don’t think it counts as a separate role, since it was a cross-over with Warehouse 13. A cross-over that implicitly eliminated any lingering doubts anyone might have had about whether Eureka was science fiction or science fantasy. ?

    Is there any meaningful difference between science fiction or science fantasy? So much of science fiction uses premises that are science fantasy as they simply aren’t possible given current physics, ie Niven’s teleportation booths. Eureka I treated as science fiction and Warehouse 13 with its heavy folklore usage as science fantasy. So two places existing in the same multiverse on different places on the spectrum.

  20. @Cat Elridge

    Is there any meaningful difference between science fiction or science fantasy?

    Well, that’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms. Leave out “meaningful”, and I’d answer yes. Leave it in, and I’d answer no. 🙂

    But yes, Eureka was already looking a lot like science fantasy, which is why I mentioned “lingering doubts”.

    So two places existing in the same multiverse on different places on the spectrum.

    Except that they weren’t just in the same multiverse. All of a sudden, they were in the same universe, same planet, same time. You could drive from Warehouse 13 (the place, not the show) to Eureka (tp,nts). All of a sudden, all the ghosts and magic artifacts that were part of the Warehouse 13 ‘verse were part of the Eureka ‘verse as well, because there was only one ‘verse between the two shows.

    They were more tightly linked than some parts of the Arrowverse. 🙂

  21. Warehouse 13 and Eureka can fit together fairly well – in fact, it makes a fair amount of sense to think of the superscience of Eureka to have come from the effects of Warehouse 13 artifacts hidden somewhere near the town of Eureka (this would explain why advances in science developed in the town of Eureka don’t seem to spread out into the country at large very quickly (because they won’t work far from Eureka and its artifacts).

    Now the character crossover that ties Alphas with Warehouse13/Eureka is harder to accept, since the tone of Alphas is considerably different from the tone of Warehouse/Eureka.

  22. Re: the distinction between science fiction and science fantasy, the general impression I get is that science fantasy settings have setting elements typically associated with science fiction (space travel, strong AI, etc.) but also have magic. I’ve seen Star Wars referred to as science fantasy because the Force is treated as something mystical rather than a scientific phenomenon like electromagnetic fields. In Star Trek, by contrast, some beings have abilities that seem like magic (such as Q’s various shenanigans), but the narrative always treats these as either “sufficiently advanced technology” or “natural abilities that evolved in the same way as a Klingon’s forehead ridges.” (Q even says in one episode that humans could eventually evolve to have abilities on par with his own.) So the distinction seems, to me, to be not so much in whether the phenomena shown are scientifically plausible, but in whether they’re treated by the narrative as naturalistic vs mystical phenomena.

  23. (3) WARTS AND ALL. Nice article, but I have to highlight a comment linking to Sci-Fi Women in Tubes. Yes, it’s all artwork the blogger found with women . . . in . . . tubes! Also some men, actually. Probably some aliens or other things. But primarily, bizarre (mostly very old) SFF artwork of women in tubes. Wacky!

    (12) HEART OF DARKNESS. People there should sue. And return their Rings.

  24. IIRC, the character Saul Rubinek played in Eureka was not the character Saul Rubinek played in Warehouse 13.

    More obvious of “same world” is that Neil Grayston plays Douglas Fargo in both, and that Alison Scagliotti plays Claudia Donovan in both (and the firs Warehouse 13 episode that Douglas Fargo appears in, he’s been sent from Global Dynamics to do something to the Warehouse computer system).

  25. Arte Johnson was also responsible for a 1977 Saturday Morning cartoon Baggy Pants and the Nitwits (at least the ‘Nitwits’ part of it) in which he reprised his dirty old man character ‘Tyrone’ from Laugh-In as an aged superhero being pulled out of retirement, along with Ruth Buzzi reprising Gladys as his wife with a bottomless purse.

    (That was one of the first things I heard of when I heard the news, because that was the first show I saw him in… I was a little too young at the time to be familiar with him from Laugh-In at the time that aired, and didn’t connect the dots until later.)

  26. Ingvar saysIIRC, the character Saul Rubinek played in Eureka was not the character Saul Rubinek played in Warehouse 13.

    You’re right. It’s a different character. Is this episode where Warehouse 13 is connected to Eureka? The episode guide I found doesn’t indicate so.

  27. @Ingvar: I stand corrected regarding Rubinek, thanks. It does seem like Grayston and Scagliotti were the only major actors involved in the crossovers.

    More trivia: in sort of mirror to Rubinek’s non-crossover appearance on Eureka, Erica Cerra, who played Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka also appeared on Warehouse 13 as an unrelated character. Lots of dopplegangers wandering around that universe, apparently. 😀

  28. @Xtifr

    Lots of dopplegangers wandering around that universe, apparently.

    The “Boston Legal”/”The Practice” has a similar situation. Though one series is theoretically a sequel to the other, there are several examples of an actor playing a major role (sometimes recurring) in one series, and then playing a different (sometimes recurring) character in a different series (I could argue that the changes between “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” in the characteristics of major characters imply that the series take place in slightly different parallel universes, in fact).

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