Pixel Scroll 7/5/24 Shhhh, The Pixels Are Resting Right Now, Let’s Not Disturb Them

(1) SHERYL BIRKHEAD’S FANZINE COLLECTION. [Item by Rich Lynch.] I’m sad to report that my friend Sheryl Birkhead unfortunately is now in the midst of severe vascular dementia.  This is resulting in her being relocated from her house into an assisted living situation.  As a result, her house (in Montgomery County, MD) will be put up for sale soon, and in the near future there will need to be a disposition of her extensive collection of fanzines, many of which are historically valuable.

So, on her behalf, I am looking for indications of interest from university libraries which have existing collections of fanzines.  Sheryl’s collection will be a significant and valuable addition to one of these library collections.

If you have a contact with a university library fanzine collection curator, please pass this information on to him/her. I am the point of contact and I can be reached at [email protected]

Your assistance is appreciated in helping to preserve this valuable collection.

(2) FRANKENSTEIN AND BILBO COMMAND BIG BUCKS. A first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein sold for $843,000, and a first edition presentation copy of The Hobbit went for $300,000 in Heritage Auctions’ The William A. Strutz Library, Part I, Rare Books Signature® Auction yesterday. “One For the Books: Inaugural Auction Featuring Selections from William Strutz’s Celebrated Library”.

Frankenstein was published in three volumes on January 1, 1818, by a small London publishing house, Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, with a small print run of 500 copies. The first edition appeared anonymously, and featured an unsigned preface by Percy Shelley, and a dedication to Mary’s father, philosopher William Godwin. Mary Shelley didn’t publicly claim her novel until four years later, when her novel was adapted into a popular play.


…what is now the most valuable Hobbit in the world, a presentation copy of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel that realized $300,000.

Bidders also fought over a first edition presentation copy of Tolkien’s 1937 The Hobbit, featuring a dust jacket — likewise the creation of Tolkien — so brilliant-bright its snow-capped mountains seem to burst out of its famously verdant landscape. Tolkien gifted this copy to dear friends, writing inside, “Charles & Dorothy Moore / from. / J.R.R.T / with love / September 1937.”

(3) THE SOUNDEST BITES. The Big Think excerpts Guy P. Harrison’s Damn You, Entropy! 1,001 of the Greatest Science Fiction Quotes: “31 genius sci-fi quotes that offer real-world wisdom”.

…Science is our most effective tool or process for discovering and understanding reality. It also enables us to create technologies with godlike powers. Unfortunately, this comes with the risk of placing too much trust in scientists and too much reliance on technology. The question of who gets to control and benefit most from deadly, invasive, or dehumanizing technology is a common science-fiction theme. 

“When a population is dependent on a machine, they are hostages of the men who tend the machines.” — Robert A. Heinlein, “The Roads Must Roll,” 1940 short story

“Aren’t these the people who taught us how to annihilate ourselves? I tell you, my friends, science is too important to be left to the scientists.” — Carl Sagan, Contact, 1985 novel

“It has undoubtedly occurred to you, as to all thinking people of your day, that the scientists have done a particularly abominable job of dispensing the tools they have devised. Like careless and indifferent workmen they have tossed the products of their craft to gibbering apes and baboons.”  — Raymond F. Jones, This Island Earth, 1952 novel

On the other hand, prominent astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote a science-fiction novel in the 1950s that contained the suggestion that scientists don’t have enough power. 

“Has it ever occurred to you, Geoff, that in spite of all the changes wrought by science—by our control over inanimate energy, that is to say—we still preserve the same old social order of precedence? Politicians at the top, then the military, and the real brains at the bottom.” — Fred Hoyle, The Black Cloud, 1957 novel…

(4) SCAM I AM. Victoria Strauss investigates “The Curious Case of Fullers Library and Its Deceptive Link Requests” at Writer Beware.

…All of the websites targeted for Fullers’ link suggestions include resource pages or otherwise offer lists of outbound links, and each suggested link is seeded across multiple recipient sites: for example, a websearch on the rain garden article yields six pages of results, with many different “student” names supposedly responsible for recommending it. The articles are, for the most part, like Nora’s: superficial but not overtly bogus, just the kind of thing that you could believe an enthusiastic young student might find helpful.

As for the sites to which the suggested links direct, in some cases they are a semi-plausible match for the articles they host (for example, an article on paper bag crafts hosted at a printing company, and an article on pickleball hosted at a playground equipment vendor), but more often it’s like the examples above: the article has zero relevance to its host, and isn’t accessible from the host menu. Many of these hosts–some of which are pretty shady-seeming–are home to multiple Fullers-recommended articles.

In other words, Fullers is running a link building scam….

(5) SFF AUDIO DRAMA. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The BBC’s Radio 4 (formerly the Home Service) airs some excellent audio dramas with some solid SF in the mix.  The latest such offering is The Skies Are Watching.

Heather Haskins went missing two years ago. Discovered aboard a flight without a ticket or identification, she now believes she’s a woman named Coral Goran, it’s 1938, and that she was abducted on the night of Orson Welles’ infamous</I> War of the Worlds <I>broadcast. Her family struggles to come to terms with this turn of events while searching for answers…

Episode 1 airs Friday, July 5 and can for a month be accessed here.



[Written by Paul Weimer.]

July 5, 1957 Jody Lynn Nye, 67. 

By Paul Weimer. I mainly know the work of Nye as a collaborator and facilitator, working with other people’s work.  Sure, she has written a slew of short stories, and several novels of her own. But when I think of her work, I don’t think of those as much as I should.  Instead, I think of her work with Robert Asprin, and Anne McCaffrey. 

Neither is a surprise. One of the strong arrows in Nye’s quiver is humor, and collaboration with Asprin on some of the later works in the MYTH series must have seemed natural to both of them when they decided to do it. Both engage in both broad humor and subtle wordplay, laugh out loud at the moment, and later poleaxing bits of humor as profound as they are funny. And coming in as she did late in the series, it provided a fresh infusion of ideas for the MYTH series at the time and helped extend the series into the 2000s. 

Jody Lynn Nye

And then there is Anne McCaffrey. The first thing I read by Nye is not her standalone novels, or MYTH, but rather her guide to Pern. Even then, intensely interested in worldbuilding, of COURSE I had to pick this one up (it would be one of several I picked up, including one on Julian May’s Pliocene exile, the Visual Guide to Castle Amber, et cetera).  I only in retrospect realized that the Nye who wrote this would be the one who collaborated with McCaffrey in the other arena McCaffrey is known more: The Ship Who Sang. That original novella, way back in the 1960’s led to Nye and McCaffrey collaborating on more stories and novels about a sentient spaceship. Nye also continued the series on her own, as did other authors like S M Stirling.  (In point of fact, Nye seems to like to do that, to continue on series. She did it with MYTH and with some other series as well, extending and building them outward. 

And then there is the odd collaborative/shared world Exiled Claw, which is an alternate earth where intelligent bipedal cats (think Kzinti but not as stupidly aggressive ) take on intelligent dinosaurs in a bronze age/early iron age technology verse.  Nye shows off yet another arrow in her quiver in those two volumes. Pity they stopped after two volumes and not even Nye has had the opportunity to write any more. Alas!

It would be a Mythstake, indeed, to discount Nye’s work in the SFF field as “merely” being collaborative. (She also teaches at DragonCon every year, too).  Collaborations and working in other people’s sandboxes is hard, not easier, than original ideas, and Nye has a talent (and clearly, a proclivity) for it.


(9) SCIENCE EXHIBITION IN LONDON. [Item by Steven French.] If anyone happens to be in London over the weekend, there’s some neat stuff going on at the Royal Society: “Summer Science Exhibition 2024”.

Discover cutting-edge research and innovation at the Royal Society’s unmissable Summer Science Exhibition, taking place from 2 – 7 July 2024, an interactive experience open to everyone with a curious mind. This is a free event and no ticket is required. 

This year, visitors can get hands-on with personal brain scanners, hear real ice core samples from Antarctica, marvel at a chandelier made from a waste product, or learn how stem cells are revealing secrets of the embryo. Find out more about the 14 main exhibits and plan your visit.

One of the exhibits is about “DUNE: The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment”.

DUNE, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, is a cutting-edge experiment developed by the international neutrino physics community to study a broad range of science, including neutrino oscillations, neutrinos from nearby supernovae, and proton decays.

The Near Detector of the experiment will be hosted by Fermilab, IL, USA, with its Far Detector 1300 km away in South Dakota at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). Surprisingly, no tunnel is needed for the neutrinos to travel through because these ghostly particles pass easily through soil and rock as they rarely interact with matter. The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LNBF) at Fermilab will deliver a neutrino beam of unprecedented power, which is needed for the detailed measurements DUNE is due to take of such elusive particles.

Probably the most well-known goal of the experiment is to study neutrino oscillations. This has driven the large-scale design of the experiment as neutrinos need to travel a large distance for oscillation to take place. This will help solve some fundamental questions, such as why the Universe is made of matter and not antimatter, and provide more information about the masses and nature of neutrinos….

(10) CHINA SMASH! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not satisfied, one supposes, with the NASA effort to redirect asteroids in the DART mission, China claims they will one up that by “smashing“ a 30-meter asteroid by 2030. (It might be noted that the smaller asteroid, (Dimorphos) of the double asteroid NASA targeted—the one actually impacted—was ~170-meters and thus much more massive than China’s target.)

All that said, having two nations working on planetary defense is much better than having only a single nation doing so. “China Planning to Smash Asteroid in Planetary Defense Test” at Futurism.

China is planning to launch a spacecraft with the aim of smashing a nearby asteroid, in an impact designed to test the feasibility of protecting against any Earth-threatening asteroids like the one that killed off the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.

Researchers outlined their plans in a recent paper published in the Journal of Deep Space Exploration and spotted by The Planetary Societysaying that a test mission should happen before 2030 and that an asteroid with a diameter of about 30 meters will be the target….

(11) A BOON FROM ARES. The LAist gets a scientist to explain to us “Why a new method of growing food on Mars matters more on Earth”.

That led to a career in space agriculture, figuring out how to grow food on other planets. She credits time later spent living among the Kambeba, an Indigenous tribe in the Amazon rainforest she is descended from, for her conviction that it is essential that she do more than explore distant worlds. She wants to preserve this one, too.

“It’s a very conscientious topic within the world of space agriculture science,” said Gonçalves, noting that “every single piece of research that we produce must have direct benefits to Earth.”

That ideal makes her latest research particularly timely. She and a team at the Wageningen University & Research Centre for Crop System Analysis found that an ancient Maya farming technique called intercropping works surprisingly well in the dry, rocky terrain of Mars.

Their findings, published last month in the journal PLOS One, have obvious implications for the possibility of exploring or even settling that distant planet. But understanding how to grow crops in the extraordinarily harsh conditions on other planets does more than ensure those colonizing them can feed themselves. It helps those here at home continue to do the same as the world warms.

“People don’t really realize [this], because it seems far away, but actually our priority is to develop this for the benefit of Earth,” said Gonçalves. “Earth is beautiful, and it’s unique, and it’s rare, and it’s fragile. And it needs our help.”…

Intercropping, or growing different crops in close proximity to one another to increase the size and nutritional value of yields, requires less land and water than monocropping, or the practice of continuously planting just one thing. Although common among small farmers, particularly across Latin America, Africa, and China, intercropping remains a novelty in much of the world. This is partly because of the complexity of managing such systems and largely unfounded concerns about yield loss and pest susceptibility. Modern plant breeding programs also tend to focus on individual species and a general trend toward less diversity in the field….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Host David Agranoff is joined by Alec Nevala-Lee and Seth Heasley on Postcards From A Dying World #148 to discuss “SF Hall of Fame #6 Nightfall by Isaac Asimov”.

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

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13 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/5/24 Shhhh, The Pixels Are Resting Right Now, Let’s Not Disturb Them

  1. mark: Thuffering thuccotash! Can’t we make our mistakes anyway we want?

  2. MIkeG: I own my domain, 5-cent.us. Ever wonder why I chose it? Well, you see, when I was still working, I had a “business” website under it: 24.5-cent.us. As in (you know what’s coming) Duck Dodgers, in the 24.5th Century! (And once people heard the joke, they’d remember, and be able to find me.)

  3. Jody Lynn Nye is a regular guest of Windycon in Chicago in November. And she’s a very nice person.

  4. Very sorry to hear of Sheryl Birkhead’s health troubles. She was a frequent letter-of-comment writer back in my ink-&-paper fanzine publishing days, and contributed occasional illos for my fanzines.

  5. (1) I reached out to some people I know at institutions I’ve been affiliated with — hoping for a good home for those fanzines!

  6. Regarding Sheryl: aw, shit. She was always so generous with giving out her cartoons to any neo who asked (including me when I was one, fifty-odd years ago).

    As always, I certainly hope people step up to help preserve her invaluable fanzine collection!

    Would that I could do something myself.

  7. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 7/9/24 We Also Also Walk Cats (But Not Through Walls) | File 770

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