Pixel Scroll 7/27/20 Sir! I’ve Isolated The Reverse Pixel Flux Coupling!

(1) CAN VIRTUAL CONS BE MADE BETTER? In “What Lessons Can Future Conventions Learn From Virtual San Diego Comic-Con?”, Io9 staffers Beth Elderkin, Jill Pantozzi, Cheryl Eddy, James Whitbrook, Charles Pulliam-Moore, and Germain Lussier assess what didn’t work about SDCC 2020, “from a lack of support for the artists and vendors who would usually be on the show floor, to the lack of fan involvement, to how to create a sense of energy that the convention’s swath of ‘family Zoom call’ style pre-recorded panels were lacking.” 

(2) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. HBO showed its Lovecraft Country trailer to San Diego Comic-Con’s @Home audience.

(3) TRAILER PARK. Ars Technica offers “An Ars roundup of the many trailers unveiled this weekend during Comic-Con@Home” where you can see all the others.

People might not be able to flock to San Diego Comic Con this year in person, but the virtual convention, Comic-Con@Home, has been running all weekend, with countless panels, sneak peeks, and teasers and trailers for upcoming TV shows—but not many films, because let’s be honest: it’s not looking so good for major theatrical film releases in the fall. On Thursday alone, we got the full trailer for Bill and Ted Face the Music, a teaser for the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost horror comedy Truth Seekers, and the first trailer for S2 of HBO’s His Dark Materials. Rather than continue to cover each individually, we decided to compile the remaining trailers of interest into a single roundup post.

(4) A CAUTIONARY TALE. Linda D. Addison offers her experience with Covid-19 as a warning in this public Facebook post.

I’m sharing what my life has been like since June 8 because I’ve seen too many people not taking Covid-19 serious. This virus is real. If sharing this wakes even one person up, it’s worth it.

I’ve been as safe as possible, going to the supermarket every two weeks for supplies, wearing a mask, sanitizing everything, however, 7 weeks ago I got very sick for 9 days with symptoms of mild coronavirus, talked to my doctor and stayed in self isolation for more than 2 weeks. I was fortunate that my temp never went high enough or my breathing bad enough that I had to go to the hospital. Since then, I’ve lived with continued cough, fatigue, shortness of breath (using inhaler from doctor helps).

This is happening to many people in recovery (look up Covid Long Haulers). So I’m sleeping a lot, healing will come, but this is so new there’s not much the medical field can do at this point. I’m ok. My friend, Jill, lives around the corner and has been helping by dropping off stuff.

PLEASE, wear a mask (if not for yourself, for anyone who crosses your path)!

(5) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Vulture’s Mark Harris, in “The Neverending Story of Those Neverappearing Avatar Sequels”, contends that although James Cameron says Avatar 2 has been delayed because of the coronavirus, the guy is suh a perfectionist that it’s highlyunlikely we will see Avatar 3,4, or 5.

…The wait for more Avatar has become something of a running joke, so much so that a Twitter thread I started when it was already a running joke is now well into its sixth year. The first sequel was originally announced almost a decade ago, in October 2010, with a projected release date of December 2014. Since then, its opening date has, at regular intervals, been moved back one year at a time — except once, in 2017, when it moved back two years. But the film has also morphed from a two-sequel series into a four-sequel series, with a lingering sense that the mountain was being made bigger as a way of justifying the length of the climb. 


  • July 27, 1997 Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime where it would run for its first five seasons. The show which was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. It’s based rather loosely off the Stargate film. The initial core cast was Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge.  It would run for a decade with the last five years being on Sci Fi. Two spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis which would run five seasons, and Stargate Universe which would last two seasons. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a stellar 91% rating. (CE)


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 27, 1870 – Hilaire Belloc.  Orator, poet,correspondent,sailor, satirist, soldier, activist.  Cautionary Tales for Children includes “Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion” and “Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably”; 1907 readers would quickly recognize the parody.  A hundred fifty books; we can claim half a dozen novels (illustrated by G.K.Chesterton!), as many shorter stories.  (Died 1953) [JH] 
  • Born July 27, 1874 Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940.  The serials themselves were Flash GordonFlash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.) (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1891 – Ruth Plumly Thompson.  Following Frank Baum’s death, she wrote two dozen Oz books.  Three other novels, six dozen shorter stories, ten dozen poems.  Also wrote for The Smart SetThe Saturday Evening PostLadies Home JournalJack and Jill.  Many regard her as a worthy successor.  (Died 1976) [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1908 – W.I. Van der Poel, Jr.  Art director for Galaxy 1950-1960.  A score of covers – but not, it seems, appearing there.  He is however on this famous 1952 Emshwiller cover – see the key here.  Look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.  (Died 1987) [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1927 – Mel Hunter.  A hundred book and magazine covers, eight dozen interiors.  Here is the May 53 Galaxy.  Here is The End of Eternity.  Here is Double Star – the Great Lorenzo at right.  Here is the Jun 58 If.  Here is the Mar 61 F & SF.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1938 Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best-known for co-creating  Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost-beyond-counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1939 Sydney J. van Scyoc, 81. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format. (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1948 Juliet Marillier, 72. She’s a New Zealand born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
  • Born July 27, 1949 – Cora Lee Healy, 71.  Fanartist, has done some pro work.  Here is a cover for Algol.  Here is “Starward”.  Here is another astronomical.  She has been in Energumen and Granfalloon; she did the Ace of Cups in the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see this review by a Tarot collector; although the reviewer says the Deck is out of print; copies can still be obtained; if all else fails, ask me, John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057).  [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1950 Simon Jones, 70. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of LifeBrazil and 12 Monkeys as well.  (CE) 
  • Born July 27, 1952 – Bud Webster.  Our Gracious Host has done better than I could.  (Died 2016) [JH] 
  • Born July 27, 1958 – Kate Elliott, 62.  Two dozen novels (some under another name), a dozen shorter stories; interviewed in ApexLightspeedLocusMindsparks.  “The Sword of Heaven [in two parts, An Earthly Crown and His Conquering Sword] I call my Mozart novel because of the speed it flowed out of me….  my Beethoven novel The Law of Becoming was like hacking through the jungle into unknown country….  Being a parent has made me a better writer.”  Unconquerable Sun just released this month.  Mills College woman.  [JH]
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 52. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which is up for a Hugo next week. Her work Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. (CE)
  • Born July 27, 1979 – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, 41. Three dozen short stories; poems; essays, reviews, interviews, in AnalogClarkesworldFoundationNY Review of SFStrange Horizons.  Anthology (with Robert Silverberg), When the Blue Shift Comes.  Traveler of Worlds, conversations with Silverberg.  Good moderator of the Asimov centenary panel at Loscon 46.
  • Born July 27, 1984 – Hao Jingfang, Ph.D., 36.  Vagabonds just appeared in English and Spanish this year.  A score of shorter stories; Best-Novelette Hugo for “Folding Beijing”, first won by a Chinese woman.  Translated into English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish.  Interviewed in LightspeedMonde chinois (in French).  [JH]


(9) NEW TUNES TOON. SYFY Wire’s points out you can watch the new cartoon as part of this Comic-Con@Home video panel: “Boo! Looney Tunes Cartoons Debuts New Porky And Daffy Short At Comic-Con@Home”,

“We wanted to tap into the zany energy of the 1940s stuff,” added supervising producer Alex Kirwan. “That was our favorite era of the shorts and we just wanted more of that. We didn’t want to set out to reinvent it and we didn’t want to set out to put new sensibilities on it … What we love about the shorts is that they’re wonderful slapstick humor and we just wanted to get back to [that] and be really true to the way they paired the characters and the way they built comedy dynamics.”

(10) WATCH ALEX ROSS AT WORK. Over the last two months, Marvel has revealed 28 “Timeless” variant covers created by Alex Ross, which will begin to hit local comic shops in September. See Ross craft his iconic painted covers, and see how his timeless imagery was made into a magnificent mural in Marvel’s NYC offices in this video.

(11) FROM BACK STORY TO NO STORY. “Peter Shinkoda says Marvel exec claimed ‘nobody cares’ about Asian people” – BBC has the story.

Daredevil actor Peter Shinkoda says his storyline was cut after a Marvel executive said “nobody cares about” Asian characters.

Shinkoda played Nobu in the Marvel Netflix series, which was cancelled at the end of 2018.

But he says his character’s “back story was dropped” on orders from former Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb.

“I’m kind of reluctant to say this, but… I’m going to take this moment,” Shinkoda said during a virtual talk.

“Jeph Loeb told the writers’ room not to write for Nobu and Gao – and this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and show runners – that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people,” he alleged.

The Canadian actor, who was taking part in a #SaveDaredevil roundtable discussion with actors from the show, said a storyline about Nobu’s journey to America ended up being dropped.

(12) THE SUN SHINES ON EVERYBODY. And some take more advantage of that than others:“What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power”

If you have ever doubted whether solar power can be a transformative technology, read on.

This is a story about how it has proved its worth in the toughest environment possible.

The market I’m talking about is perhaps the purest example of capitalism on the planet.

There are no subsidies here. Nobody is thinking about climate change – or any other ethical consideration, for that matter.

This is about small-scale entrepreneurs trying to make a profit.

It is the story of how Afghan opium growers have switched to solar power, and significantly increased the world supply of heroin.

(13) RETURN TO SENDER. “Nasa Mars rover: Meteorite to head home to Red Planet”.

A small chunk of Mars will be heading home when the US space agency launches its latest rover mission on Thursday.

Nasa’s Perseverance robot will carry with it a meteorite that originated on the Red Planet and which, until now, has been lodged in the collection of London’s Natural History Museum (NHM).

The rock’s known properties will act as a calibration target to benchmark the workings of a rover instrument.

It will give added confidence to any discoveries the robot might make.

This will be particularly important if Perseverance stumbles across something that hints at the presence of past life on the planet – one of the mission’s great quests.

“This little rock’s got quite a life story,” explained Prof Caroline Smith, head of Earth sciences collections at the NHM and a member of the Perseverance science team.

“It formed about 450 million years ago, got blasted off Mars by an asteroid or comet roughly 600,000-700,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth; we don’t know precisely when but perhaps 1,000 years ago. And now it’s going back to Mars,” she told BBC News.

(14) I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING. NPR reports “Lottery Winner In Jamaica Avoids The Spotlight Dressed As Darth Vader”.

It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to want to avoid the spotlight, right? But showing up dressed as Darth Vader to collect your check is a new one. It happened in a galaxy not so far away, in May Pen, Jamaica, when a man claimed his $95 million prize in a dark lord of the Sith costume. 

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Saruman is spinning Gandalf around, he “forces Gandalf to learn breakdancing against his will.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

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22 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/27/20 Sir! I’ve Isolated The Reverse Pixel Flux Coupling!

  1. (7) I was just thinking of Sydney J. van Scyoc earlier today (Rediscovery time?). She wrote some stories for Asimov’s magazine in the early 80s – it was a long time before I figured out she wasn’t a brand new author breaking in there, but a long-standing one.

  2. @7 (Healy): I am … somethinged … to hear that copies of the FSTarot are still available. That was such a mess to produce….

    @9: where in those 40+ minutes is the ‘toon?

    @14: is “Fath” a typo, or an obscure reference to island culture?

    So I finally got to the head of the library queue for Recursion, and I have a question for Contrarius (and anyone else who read it): isn’t the ending a cheat? ISTM ur whzcf onpx gb n cbvag gung pbhyq rkvfg va nal bs (n) gur he-gvzryvar, (o) gur svefg nygrerq yvar (jurer gur svefg fhowrpg jnf obhaprq onpx ohg Fynqr vf fgvyy n abobql), (p) gur frpbaq yvar (va juvpu Fynqr vf evpu naq unf uverq Uryran, ohg abobql orfvqrf Fynqr naq gur svefg fhowrpg unir tbar onpx), be (q) guebhtu kkk, pbagnvavat rnpu bs gur nygrengvbaf orsber gur bar gung perngrq gur fhvpvqr ur snvyf gb fgbc va gur svefg fprar; ner jr fhccbfrq gb oryvrir gung fvzcyl jvfuvat vg fb cvpxf gur pbeerpg bar, orlbaq gur fgngrq zvenpyr bs trggvat gb n phg-bss yvar ng nyy? Nyfb, hayrff gurer jnf n whzc V zvffrq, Uryran tbrf ba gur ynz nsgre ure svefg whzc onpx — nccneragyl erylvat ba vairfgzrag xabjyrqtr gb yrirentr zbfg bs ure fnivatf qrfcvgr gur snpg gung fur jnfa’g jngpuvat gur znexrgf (ps Fynqr’f OggS-ersreragvny zrzbevmngvbaf fubja va gur crahygvzngr fprar). Naq vfa’g gur ynfg fprar (va juvpu ur pbzrf ba gb n jbea-bhg arne-snvyher jub unf ab xabjyrqtr bs gurve yvirf gbtrgure) n ovg perrcl?

    V nyfb jbaqre jurgure Pebhpu ernyvmrq gung Oehaare pnzr hc jvgu guvf fbyhgvba bire unys n praghel ntb; V znl whfg or orvat veevgnoyr, ohg vg srryf yvxr Pebhpu guvaxf guvf vf fbzr fghaavat vairagvba.

  3. And some COVID news:
    * NPR reports the start of a large-scale vaccine test — just in case any Filers are feeling physically up to this. (At age 67, I’m likely to pass.) I note with amusement that this is a smaller firm, rather than the one the Cheetoh gave $1.6 billion to.
    * Harvard researchers report that smell/taste loss isn’t in nerve cells, which means that those senses have a better chance of recovering. No guarantee (as noted in a local story about someone checking a smelly cheese every day hoping to sense it), but the cells responsible are more likely to regenerate than nerve cells.

  4. 1) While I’m not sure this tool is up to SDCC levels of user load, smaller conventions might also be interested in this tool I just found called Online Town, which is really deliberately trying to simulate the experience of walking around: https://theonline.town/

    4) I was never tested, but I had COVID-like symptoms at the end of March and my lungs still aren’t right– I’m otherwise fine but if I do very much by way of exercise or walking around it’s noticeable. It is improving, but very, very slowly.

  5. Worldcon CoNZealand starts (officially*) in less than a day. Any plans for a File770 meetup?

    The CoNZealand Discord server is already up & running and open to members.

  6. Kit Harding: Our household had a “weird flu” go thru in February that had me off work for a week and a lingering cough for about a month. I’d wondered if it might have been COVID-19.

    BUT…I donated blood in early June, and received notification from Vitalant (formerly United Blood Services) a few weeks later that a CV-19 antibody test had been included among the blood tests, and results could be retrieved from their website. My test came back as negative. So, I guess the weird flu was actually…just weird flu?

    (Trying to second-guess any health symptoms that pop up is even more frustrating than normal when the possible stakes are higher.)

  7. (13) Calibration? Like this isn’t the missing piece that will make the whole mechanism unlock and release whatever nameless horror was locked up in the centre of the planet by the last Martians.

  8. My test came back as negative.

    I think there’s a possibility that you had Covid, but were tested long enough afterwards that you no longer had a detectably high level of antibodies. Which in turn doesn’t necessarily mean lost immunity, T-cell immunity can outlast detectable antibodies.

    (Sorry, that’s quite a pile of supposition.)

  9. James Moar says

    I think there’s a possibility that you had Covid, but were tested long enough afterwards that you no longer had a detectably high level of antibodies. Which in turn doesn’t necessarily mean lost immunity, T-cell immunity can outlast detectable antibodies.

    (Sorry, that’s quite a pile of supposition.)

    That’s a lot of dangerous suppositions. The only sane thing to do is assume that you’ve no immunity what-so-ever and continue practicing all the proper practices to prevent getting it.

    I’ve had four Covid-19 tests. Never did anyone suggest here at the hospitals that I might have immunity despite always testing negative. So my mask goes on whenever anyone knocks on the door of my private room before they enter it and stays on until they leave. And when I leave the room, I’m wearing it.

  10. I cast my vote in the 2022 site selection process. (Thanks JJ for your help!) of course I voted for Chicago. The other proposal was weak even setting aside the social and political aspects of it.

  11. @Cat Eldridge: Given the error rates we know about for the antibody tests, people shouldn’t be assuming they’re immune even with a positive test, but antibody tests mean significantly less than the tests for current infection you’re getting– like, to the point of “basically a coin flip that means nothing“. Getting an antibody test isn’t actually a data point because their accuracy is so horrible.

    So, how many virtual cons have been held to date? I only know of Amazing Con, which I missed, but which I understand is going to wind up on YouTube. ComicCon is way too much a creature of Corporate America and its marketing stooges to really be a good model for SFF Fandom. – K

  13. Kit Harding says Given the error rates we know about for the antibody tests, people shouldn’t be assuming they’re immune even with a positive test, but antibody tests mean significantly less than the tests for current infection you’re getting– like, to the point of “basically a coin flip that means nothing“. Getting an antibody test isn’t actually a data point because their accuracy is so horrible.

    Most of the tests have an unacceptably large error rate. I’m reasonably sure that I’m Covid-19 free as my tests were done in-hospital where they were using a test that a low error rate. I’m approaching forty days in-hospital with at least two to three weeks more to go, so I’m very happy that Maine Med practices all the proper protocols.

  14. @Bill Burns: interesting to re-see that story, in more detail than I remember. (Pared-down parts of it are in the leaflet that comes with the deck.) I note that it’s dated before production got seriously started — although IIRC the serious possibility of production (after he was announced as 1980 Worldcon FGoH in late 1978) got him to push for the last few cards (along with the remarks about it being the first time he was playing with a full deck). The production was … sloppy; several of us spent hours checking all of the delivered decks (some had gone to a tarot dealer and others were still at the printer) after buyers found runs of missing and/or extra cards

    @Bruce Arthurs: after people had time to look at the data a little, there were reports that anosmia (cf my previous comment) presented so frequently (and so early, IIRC) that it should be considered part of the diagnosis. The sum of what I’ve seen suggests that unless some large fraction of the people taken ill in your group lost all sense of taste and smell for weeks (maybe months), the odds of having had COVID-19 are very small.

  15. (12) I love stories like this. It’s good for the locals, good for business, good for the planet. Make the desert bloom!

  16. @Chip —

    In re: Recursion, it’s been long enough since I read it that I couldn’t usefully pick those sorts of nits without doing a partial reread.

    But as to your final comment:

    V nyfb jbaqre jurgure Pebhpu ernyvmrq gung Oehaare pnzr hc jvgu guvf fbyhgvba bire unys n praghel ntb; V znl whfg or orvat veevgnoyr, ohg vg srryf yvxr Pebhpu guvaxf guvf vf fbzr fghaavat vairagvba.

    I’d say that’s an incredibly common phenomenon across the sff spectrum. For just one example, I’ve been side-eyeing the supposedly ground-breaking book Docile for months now. 😉

  17. @Contrarius: the phenomenon of a mundane author believing they’ve been stunningly original in SF for coming up with something that’s been around for a long while is certainly common. I got the impression from somewhere that Crouch had some experience in the field, but may have been mistaken.

  18. Crouch wrote the genre Wayward Pines series, so he did have some SF experience, but perhaps not very deep roots.

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