Pixel Scroll 7/30/23 No Country For Old Pixels

(1) SURVIVAL ISSUES FOR ACTORS. Bleeding Cool quotes Wil Wheaton’s statement supporting the strike: “Star Trek Residuals ‘Kept Me Afloat For Two Decades’: Wil Wheaton”.

…In 1960, SAG and WGA struck to force management to adapt to the new technology of television. Without that strike and the agreement it birthed, residual use payments would not exist.

My parents stole nearly all of my salary from my entire childhood. My Star Trek residuals were all I had, and they kept me afloat for two decades while I rebuilt my life. I have healthcare and a pension because of my union. The AMPTP billionaires want to take all that security away so they can give CEOs even more grotesque wealth at the expense of the people who make our industry run.

To give some sense of what is at stake: There are actors who star in massively successful, profitable, critically acclaimed shows that are all on streaming services. You see them all the time. They are famous, A-list celebrities. Nearly all of those actors don’t earn enough to qualify for health insurance, because the studios forced them to accept a buyout for all their residuals (decade of reuse, at the least) that is less than I earned for one week on TNG. And I was the lowest paid cast member in 1988. They want to do this while studio profits and CEO compensation are at historic highs…

(2) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. The above item made me curious about Wil Wheaton’s The Ready Room. Here’s the most recent episode, “On A Healing Journey With Babs Olusanmokun And Melissa Navia” at Paramount+. Beware spoilers.

(3) CADWELL TURNBULL STORY. Sunday Morning Transport posted their last free story of July, “A Tech Mage Comes to Visit” by Cadwell Turnbull about a “stunning new world, and the characters who have strange powers over the machines there.” Editors Julian Yap and Fran Wilde encourage fans to read it and subscribe.

(4) ALASTAIR REYNOLDS STORY. Auki Labs has posted a short story, “End User” by Alastair Reynolds.

The following is a short story by renowned sci-fi author Alastair Reynolds, commissioned by Auki Labs. It is the third short story published on our Medium about the future of Augmented Reality….

Alastair Reynolds’ “End User” is a chilling reminder, if one could call a vision of the future that, of why it is important for us as a society to reject surveillance capitalism and think critically about how AR will be delivered to us. We should never allow corporations to see through our eyes….

(5) ON THE COVER. These are pretty damn cute. Especially the one of the TARDIS. “Iconic Sci-Fi Vehicles Reimagined in the Cool Vintage Art Style of Modern Mechanix Magazine” at GeekTyrant.

Illustrator Chet Phillips has reimagined six iconic fictional sci-fi vehicles in as front covers in the vintage style of Modern Mechanix magazine. The magazine is known for its wildly cool and exaggerated illustrations, and was popular in the early to mid part of the 20th Century….

(6) AUREALIS AWARDS TAKING ENTRIES. The 2023 Aurealis Awards are open for entry from now until December 14.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023.

We strongly encourage publishers and authors to enter all works published already this year by September 30, 2023, then subsequent publications as they are released; our judges appreciate having time to consider each entry carefully.

Read the Aurealis Awards Rules and the FAQ at the links.

(7) COURT PUTS BRAKES TO ARKANSAS BOOK LAW. “Judge halts Arkansas ban on librarians giving kids ‘harmful’ books” reports the Washington Post.

A federal judge in Arkansas temporarily blocked a state law that would have made it a crime for librarians and booksellers to give minors materials deemed “harmful” to them — a move celebrated by free-speech advocates, who had decried the law as a violation of individual liberties.

Act 372 would have taken effect Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks issued a preliminary injunction Saturday, siding with bookstores, libraries and patrons in the state thatargued in a lawsuit filed last month that parts of the law were unconstitutional.

Section 1 would have made it a criminal offense to knowingly provide a minor with any material deemed “harmful” — a term defined by state law as containing nudity or sexual content, appealing to a “prurient interest in sex,” lacking “serious literary, scientific, medical, artistic, or political value for minors” or deemed “inappropriate for minors” under current community standards.

Plaintiffs also challenged Section 5, which would have allowed anyone “affected by” material in a particular county or municipal library to challenge the “appropriateness” of the material.

The plaintiffs argued that the law would force librarians and booksellers to make an impossible choice: Remove books that some might deem offensive to young readers from their shelves; create secure, adult-only spaces for those books; ban minors from their facilities altogether; or expose themselves to criminal charges or fines.

In his injunction, Brooks said the law “would permit, if not encourage, library committees and local governmental bodies to make censorship decisions based on content or viewpoint,” in violation of the right to free speech under the First Amendment. He agreed with the plaintiffs that the state’s definition of “harmful” materials was overly vague….

(8) SHELLEY BELSKY (1955-2023). Shelley Adrienne Mimi Belsky, a New York City fan, died July 25 at the age of 68.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s tribute says: “Shelley was a transwoman known for her knowledge and love of science fiction literature and hearty laugh in east coast con suites in the late ’70s to ’80s before she married and moved to Canada. After a decade she returned to the US and resided in the Milwaukee area. She often attended Balticon….. May her memory be a blessing.”


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 30, 1911 Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course, most of us do. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 30, 1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, 76. Terminator franchise, of course, as well as Running ManConan the Barbarian and Conan the DestroyerTales from the Crypt and True Lies.  
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 75. I remember him best as the gong-ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film though I’ve seen it twice. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen. 
  • Born July 30, 1947 John E. Stith, 76. Winner of two HOMer Awards, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe, for Redshift Rendezvous and Naught for Hire. The former would be nominated for a Nebula as well. The HOMer Awards ended in about 2000. 
  • Born July 30, 1961 Laurence Fishburne, 63. Morpheus in The Matrix films. My favorite role by him was Dr. Raymond Langston on CSI. (Not genre, though the forensic science there is SF.) His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones on the other hand is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man.
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 57. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he also wrote fiction ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 48. Her Southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series is a refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these?  She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.


(11) HOW MANY STEPS TO MORDOR? Literary Hub invites you to “Read W. H. Auden’s 1954 review of The Fellowship of the Ring”. He liked it! I was particularly interested in this measure of praise:

… The first thing that one asks is that the adventure should be various and exciting; in this respect Mr. Tolkien’s invention is unflagging, and, on the primitive level of wanting to know what happens next, The Fellowship of the Ring is at least as good as The Thirty-Nine Steps….

He refers to John Buchan’s 1915 “shocker”, beloved by readers of popular fiction a century ago. Their experience can’t really be recovered by reading the book now (or even several decades ago when I looked it up due to its reputation.) However, Auden’s comparison was a ringing endorsement in 1954.

(12) ANIME EXPLORATIONS. The new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up – covering the conclusion of this year’s Summer of Jojo with the end of Stardust Crusaders. Episode 10 “JoJo Part 3 – Stardust Crusaders (Battle in Egypt Arc)”.

(13) T. HEE? “The Twilight Zone Needed A Favor From A Disney Great To Make The Dummy Work” at Slashfilm.

…Rod Serling and his crew didn’t have anyone on staff that could handle that, so they ended up recruiting for an unlikely source: Walt Disney Animation. 

As the story goes (at least according to 1992’s “The Twilight Zone Companion” written by Marc Scott Zicree), “Twilight Zone” makeup effects artist, William Tuttle was hard up for ways to pull off the effect in a way that would please Serling, who was determined that the gag only works if the audience can recognize Robertson in the dummy at the end. It still had to look like a real ventriloquist’s dummy, but have enough of the actor’s features so nobody walked away from the episode confused…

The rest of the story is at the link.

(14) BERLITZKRIEG. Very clever.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Epic Spaceman helps us visualize our home galaxy:“The scale of The Milky Way – why is the galaxy bigger than we think?”

I love the Milky Way, this crazy, giant whirlpool of stars that’s our home. And I remember being blown away learning that the cloudy line in the sky was something we’re actually inside, something that really confused me at first. So this video is really my attempt to bring a little more appreciation and clarity to our oasis in the Universe. Making it has really helped me get to grips with some of the scale of things and I might well do another shorter video showing the size and location of some other things in the Milky Way on the ‘US’ scale. I also tried to address that existential dread that can creep in when getting to grips with the scale of things like this. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, our galaxy makes a long walk down to the chemist’s look like peanuts so I’ve tried to temper that with a quick reminder of the scale of the really small stuff. I do personally like to remind myself that I’m actually huge when the cosmos gets a little too big for its boots and starts melting my brain.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Tom Boswell, Alexander Case, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day brnkn117.]

35 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/30/23 No Country For Old Pixels

  1. I was sorting through my books here when I came upon my arc of de Lint’s The Mystery of Grace, and you can see my review here.

    The most fascinating thing, other than it is a great read and that it was his last novel for Tor, is that the original artwork, the bottom image, was deemed too dark by the powers that be at the time at Tor.

    So the top image was the one used for the hardcover edition. To quote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s mostly harmless. And it is accurate to the novel.

  2. Oh, I love The Mystery of Grace. Wonderful book.

    The heat and humidity have been too much for me, yet, like Richard, I liveth yet.

  3. (9) Cherie Priest
    I am not a major fantasy or horror fan, but I adored her Booking Agents series (2 out so far). The first, Grave Reservations, has the description: “A psychic travel agent and a Seattle PD detective solve a murder in this quirky mystery in the vein of Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files and Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series.” She first talked about it on her blog, and I waited two years for it to come out. The sequel, Flight Risk, was just as good, maybe better. I wrote brief reviews on Goodreads for both:

    Grave Reservations: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3982060505
    Flight Risk: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4734714878

  4. (11) I’m having some kind of Mandela Effect moment because I know I read a comic adaptation of “The Thirty-Nine Steps”, and I’m pretty sure it was by Jason, but I can not for the life of me find any evidence that it ever existed.

  5. 11) I recently saw the stage play “The 39 Steps” and it was a fun, comic (often slapstick, at least in this staging) melodrama, where four actors play dozens of different characters. The action goes from London to Scotland and back. (I could not tell you whether it is a longer journey from London to Scotland, or from the Shire to Mordor, but I suspect the latter is more grueling. Especially since in “The 39 Steps” the hero takes a train much of the way….

    Of course, I don’t know how accurate the play is to the book…

  6. RE: Actor’s and Writer’s Strike:
    If it came down to it, creators such as actors and writers can create their own content and be independent of the old system, if/when it collapses. In the meantime, the studio heads will try their darndest to cling to the old system.

    There was a time in England when the peasants revolted, and it brought the country to its knees, which resulted in more equality and rights for the people. I never thought I’d see the day where we needed to do that here in the US.

    RE: book laws:
    Who gets to decide what is harmful and what is not? IF it comes to it, as Bradbury points out, WE ARE THE BOOKS!

  7. (1) Whenever I hear someone complaining about how actors are rich, it’s all I can do to avoid yelling at them. I can understand believing that when you’re really young. But once you become an adult, you should know better. You should have seen enough reports about actors struggling to make a living — yes, even the ones you see all the time.

    (7) Good. That sounds like yet another bad (and badly written) law. What is a “harmful” book? Who decides whether something is “prurient” or “of value”? Why do people trust other parents (and politicians) to decide that for their kids?

    (9) I wore out a copy of “The Craft of Science Fiction: A Symposium on Writing Science Fiction and Science Fantasy” (edited by Reginald Bretnor). It would be fun to look at that again and see how it holds up. (One of the articles was by Katherine MacLean!)

  8. Just to put in a word for The Thirty-Nine Steps, the book and its two sequels are all excellent reads. Although, like everything by Buchan, there are no women at all in them. Which, now that I think about it, does somewhat resemble LOTR.

    P.S. In one of them, I forget which, one of the characters says something like “funny how every political movement now seems to involve fancy haberdashery”. Written in the 1930s.

  9. Laurence Fishburne was also in ‘Event Horizon’, which, even chopped into dogmeat by the studio as it was, is still an underrated gem, like ‘Dark City.’ Speaking of underrated genre films, ‘Equilibrium’ is another good example. It was released within a year or two of ‘The Matrix’ and, in my opinion, has held up better.

    I dunno, as someone who is a huge fan of Haggard’s work (and Victorian adventure/pulp literature in general) I much prefer Sean Connery’s embittered yet still duty bound cynic to Moore’s decrepit geriatric junkie.

  10. I read both Cheshire Red books. The first, Bloodshot seemed a promising start. The second didn’t really live up to the promise, and to the best of my knowledge there hasn’t been a third. It looks to me like an attempt at a long running series which didn’t work out.

  11. Ok, what do you consider the best space operas ever done?

    My short list has the Dune sequence, The Culture, The Expanse, The Machineries of Empire, Imperial Radch, Inhibitors and whatever Martine’s series is called

  12. C.J. Cherryh’s Union/Alliance books — in particular, Downbelow Station and the Chanur novels — are at the top of my list.

    Dune is an interesting case, being almost entirely planet-bound, and almost all of that on a single planet, but yes, it’d make my list as well.

  13. @Cassy B.: From what I can find online, the Shire to Mordor is about four times the distance from London to Edinburgh.

  14. The best (and by ‘best’ I mean ‘most fun/entertaining/memorable) space operas ever done?

    Books: Dune, Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker series, The Man-Kzin Wars, John Ringo and David Weber’s Prince Roger series, Honor Harrington, Keith Laumer’s Retief stories

    Movies: Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Ice Pirates, Fifth Element, Battle Beyond The Stars.

  15. The Alliance-Union series and the Vorkosigan Saga may be borderline Space Opera but they’re probably my favorites, with The Culture not far behind. On the more humorous side, I have a definite fondness for Walter Jon Williams’s Drake Maijstral series. And in the category of underrated and not mentioned often enough, I’ll nominate K B Wagers’ Indranan War series.

    I could list a lot more that I love but that’ll do for a start!

    (I will add that while I love Dune, I am much more ambivalent about the rest of the series.)

  16. Odd (to me anyway) to see Dune on a list of space operas, though I’ve only read the first three or four, and maybe the series gets more, um, expansive when out of Frank Herbert’s control. But then, I’m both a taxonomy nerd and skeptic, since literary-categorical systems all leak like sieves. Dune, though, I would place closer to “planetary romance,” which is in many ways a planet-bound version of space opera. (Taxonomic details available on receipt of stamped, self-addressed envelope and two Wheaties boxtops. Sturdy all-plastic construction. Your name here in gold. No salesman will call. Price slightly higher east of the Mississippi.)

  17. Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire deserves to be on the list.

    So does Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep

    Honourable Mentions to
    Kate Elliott’s Unconquerable Sun and Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Universe

    In older works, the Lensman series may be dated but it’s still readable and very influential. Foundation suffers a bit more for its age (but I don’t regret a recent reread), and I would personally exclude it from the greatest, while still recognising it’s influence.

  18. @Paul King: I would consider the Foundation series to be anti-Space Opera particularly before the Mule turns up: Hardin takes actions that he himself contrasts with the typical actions by space-operatic heroes, the Foundation agents worried about Bel Riose learn that their actions were completely irrelevant, etc. Even after the Mule shows up, Bayta figures out what’s going on, partially because things are happening as if she’s in a space opera – which she notes are not realistic, giving her the clue as to what’s really going on.

    In addition to the others mentioned, Brin’s Uplift is a fun space opera universe, and much of Reynolds’ work is great space opera as well.

  19. Space Opera, now we’re talking my language. Cherryh is at the top of the list for me.
    Anderson with Flandry, van Rijn and Falkayn. Laumer with Retief, and with co-writer Rosel Brown the excellent example Earthblood. W.J.Williams with Majistral and the underrated Angel Station.
    Bujold, Leckie, Martine, Moon, Clayton, and Wagers are all on my list.
    Andre Norton started my love of Space Opera. I still want to be a Free Trader when I grow up.
    For me A.Bertram Chandler’s John Grimes personifies the Space Operatic Starship Captain

  20. Xtifr says I will add that while I love Dune, I am much more ambivalent about the rest of the series

    I’ve read and like very much Dune and Dune Messiah. I tried reading the latter works but found them turgid at best and virtually unreadable at worst.

    I can understand why our Dune Director is stopping with the latter book.

  21. I’m responding now, because the power just came on around 10:30 this morning… having gone out during the storm, around 16:30 on Saturday.

    Hot, sweating, and miserable describes the weekend.

    Birthdays: Reginald Brentnor – Feghoot wasn’t a comic character – he always had the Answer. (For those who don’t know, they were short, a page or so, and were always build-ups to the Bad Joke.

    Definitions…. at Pemmicon, I found a good number of folks who agreed with me that not every story set in space was space opera. I wouldn’t have considered the Cherryh’s Alliance/Union universe space opera, for example.

    ARGH!!! I was about to post… and the power went off again. This time, it was only for 19 min, so either they needed to cut it, to make a connection, or someone screwed up and broke a line. Now, I need a pic of me with the spading fork and Ellen with the tiki torch to send to the electric company….

  22. I don’t think every Alliance/Union novel can be considered space opera, but (as I mentioned before) I think Downbelow Station and the Chanur books definitely make the mark.

    Also, Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy, if that qualifies.

    And Baxter’s Xeelee, and his Time Ships, as I’m thinking about it.

  23. @Anne Marble: “Why do people trust other parents (and politicians) to decide that for their kids?”

    I think its more that some parents want to be the ones deciding that for other people’s kids.

  24. Please note that The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies, the third novel, Machine Vendetta, is coming out in January.

    It was originally coming out in October but Reynolds says on his most excellent blog that the publisher made the decision to release it at the same time here and in the United Kingdom.

    It is, I think, my favorite sort of space opera.

  25. @Cat
    I agree with you on Dune – and I have read the later ones that Herbert actually wrote. I consider them to be in a different universe – it makes life easier when reading them.

  26. My favorite space operas? Brian Daley’s Floyt/FitzHugh books, and I will go to the mulching chamber sore he wrote only three. Daniel Keys Moran’s The Last Dancer, and I hope I will be able to read his latest very soon [1]. Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth books, although they became unreadable post-2005 or so. (Not objectionable, just bad.) And an odd pick: David Zindell’s SF, as badly as he misunderstands mathematics (and as bollocks as holism is).

    And, of course, Traveller. But only the versions with no Rebellion, no Empress Wave, and absolutely no bloody Virus.

    [1] Judecca will thaw before I buy a Kindle book or make a PayPal account.

  27. Wow! I do not like Dune Messiah, but I do think that Children of Dune is pretty decent. In fact, it’s the only other book in the series I actually sort of like.

    (Some of the others may rise to the level of mediocrity, but I do not think Dune Messiah is good enough to deserve that appellation.)

    Ah well, if we were all the same, how boring life would be! 🙂

  28. Reginald Bretnor was, in addition to everything else, accomplished in the care and polishing of swords.
    I don’t mean tacky ornamental swords, I mean the really high class ones with history and value.
    Once, at his house, in company with Poul Anderson and (I forget who else), Reg showed us a genuine ‘hungry’ sword. He cautioned us to be very careful in holding it, and to keep our hands strictly on the hilt. When my turn came I felt that powerful urge to test the edge with my finger, but kept my hands away. All the other people in the room felt the same urge. Had I touched it, the sharpness would have drawn blood, no doubt about it. Only time I ever encountered a genuine ‘mythical/mystical’ weapon, but we all agreed it was the real thing. –And Poul was no pushover to psychological effects.
    Reg also wrote a wonderful story called “Small God,” I think, which you should all look up.
    My wife, Diana L. Paxson, was a student at Mills College. Her mentor was Dr. Elizabeth Pope, who I believe was Dean of English. Dr. Pope wrote a couple of excellent fantasy novels, which you might enjoy reading.
    When W. H. Auden visited the college all the staff was excited to meet him and they all wanted to talk about poetry and the like. But Auden quickly gravitated to Dr. Pope and they spent the whole time talking about Tolkien. Seems Dr. Pope was the only person at the college who had read Tolkien, and, as the post points out, Auden was a genuine enthusiast. –Mind you, this was all when the books were fairly new, and when most of the lit-fic establishment still though they were juveniles because they didn’t contain enough sex.

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