Pixel Scroll 7/20/16 Eats, Scrolls, Leaves

(1) BATTLE STATIONS. Reason.tv profiles “Axanar: The $1 Million Star Trek Fan Film CBS Wants to Stop”

Fan-created stories, comic books, and art soon evolved into fan-made film and video productions. There was the carpet layer from Michigan who spent $2,000 to build a replica of the Starship Enterprise bridge and produced Paragon’s Paragon, one of the first serious Star Trek fan films, in 1974. In 1985, a fan convinced George Takei, who played Sulu on the original series, to reprise the role in Yorktown: A Time to Heal. In subsequent years, putting original cast members in fan production became increasingly common, with Walter Koenig (“Chekov”) and Nichelle Nichols (“Uhura”) starring in the 2007 feature length film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.

“The fan films were just getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger,” says Jonathan Lane, creator of the Fan Film Factor, a blog dedicated to analyzing and promoting Star Trek fan films.

And the whole time, Paramount and CBS, the Star Trek rights holders, took a tolerant, hands-off approach so long as the films didn’t portray Star Trek in a negative or obscene light. That all changed with Prelude to Axanara professionally shot, produced, and acted short fan film that received almost 2.5 million views on YouTube. The success of Prelude to Axanar allowed writer-producer Alec Peters to raise more than $1 million through crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They snagged Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo in the orginal Battlestar Galactica, to play their antagonist. Suddenly, Axanar looked less like a benign fan film and more like competition.

 

(2) LE GUIN. With Comic-Con starting this week, Ursula K. Le Guin was interviewed by Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison. I have to admit, it’s not an association I’d have made!

When you see the popularity of events like Comic-Con, and television and films with alternative fiction, it seems like it’s mainstream — it’s not a genre apart anymore.

Right, the barrier finally fell. I will take a little credit because I spent about 40 years saying, why isn’t imaginative literature literature? Why do you say you know this stuff is for kids and all that? There’s so much good imaginative literature that has been written that to deny that it was literature I think seems ridiculous to most people, to readers and to critics and to teachers. There are still some holdouts. Some people just don’t like imaginative literature. They just want realism and nonfiction.

I think what has brought imaginative fiction, imaginative literature, back into central centrality is that so much of it is very good, and so much of it is kind of needed because of the fact that it sort of opens doors to other possibilities — and that it gives the imagination exercise. The imagination is a very important human faculty and it needs to be exercised…..

As we’re having these national discussions about transgender issues, your book “The Left Hand of Darkness” really set a tone for saying you don’t have to be one thing or another.

That is exactly where the use — the social and psychological usefulness of imaginative fiction — can operate. I pulled a trick in my “Earthsea” books: Almost all of the people are people of color, including the hero, but you don’t realize. I don’t say anything about it for quite a while.

And all the fantasy novels at that point were all white, everybody was pure, lily white, and it was a way, it was almost tricking the reader into identifying with young Sparrowhawk and then finding out that he was not a white man! OK, it is a kind of trick. It’s a useful one — you know, it worked!

(3) NO REASON TO BE IMPRESSED BY TWITTER. John Scalzi penned “A Note On a Jackass Getting Booted From Twitter”.

  1. It’s good that Twitter punted Yiannopoulos, but let’s not pretend that it doesn’t look like Twitter did some celebrity calculus there. Yiannopoulos and pals had a nice long run pointing themselves at all other manner of people they didn’t like, for whatever reason, and essentially Twitter didn’t say “boo” about it. But then they harass a movie star with movie star friends, many of whom are Twitter users with large numbers of followers, and whose complaints about Twitter and the harassment of their friend get play in major news outlets, and Twitter finally boots the ringleader of that shitty little circus.

So the math there at least appears pretty obvious from the outside. You can punch down on Twitter and get away with it, but don’t punch up, and punch up enough to make Twitter look bad, or you’ll get in trouble (after more than a day). Is this actually the way it works? I’m not at Twitter so I can’t say. I can say I do know enough women of all sorts who have gotten all manner of shit by creeps on Twitter, but who weren’t in a movie and had movie star friends or got press play for their harassment. And they basically had to suck it up. So, yeah, from the outside it looks like Twitter made their decision on this based on optics rather than the general well-being of their users.

(4) AS MILO WAS SAYING JUST THE OTHER DAY. Milo Yiannopoulos, former Twitter account holder, predicted the trend he has been fulfilling in this article for The Kernel in 2012. (Link to Internet Archive.)

What’s disturbing about this new trend, in which commenters are posting what would previously have been left anonymously, is that these trolls seem not to mind that their real names, and sometimes even their occupations, appear clamped to their vile words. It’s as if a psychological norm is being established whereby comments left online are part of a video game and not real life. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten that there’s a real person on the other end, reading and being hurt by our vitriol. That’s as close to the definition of sociopath as one needs to get for an armchair diagnosis, though of course many other typical sociopathic traits are also being encouraged by social media.

(5) MORK AND MINDY CREATOR DIES. Garry Marshall, who wrote for, produced and created many successful TV shows has died July 19 the age of 81.

Garry Marshall, who created some of the 1970s’ most iconic sitcoms including “Happy Days,” “The Odd Couple,” “Laverne and Shirley” and “Mork and Mindy” and went on to direct hit movies including “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia. He was 81. The news was first reported by Access Hollywood.

Marshall went from being TV writer to creating sitcoms that touched the funny bones of the 1970s generation and directing films that were watched over and over: “Happy Days” helped start a nostalgia craze that has arguably never abated, while “Mork and Mindy” had a psychedelically goofy quality that catapulted Robin Williams to fame and made rainbow suspenders an icon of their era. “Pretty Woman” likewise cemented Julia Roberts’ stardom, while “The Princess Diaries” made Anne Hathaway a teen favorite.

(6) SPACE OF HIS OWN. August Derleth, author and Arkham House publisher, has been recognized by a Wisconsin library — “Derleth Center offers dedicated space for author’s archives”

….A ribbon cutting was held July 9 for the new August Derleth Center, fittingly located at the entrance to Derleth Park on Water Street in Sauk City.

Walden Derleth, son of August Derleth, spoke about his father’s legacy and his appreciation for the Society’s diligence in maintaining the archives.

…He said one summer day an IBM Selectric electronic typewriter salesman came to his home to sell his father a typewriter. Derleth typed his manuscripts on an Olympia manual typewriter to which he was very attached. “It wasn’t very long that salesman was running out the door,” Walden said…..

…Heron said once the Derleth Center is organized and made operational in the coming months, it will serve as a place for writers’ workshops, a book store, museum and a starting point for tours of the trails in areas Derleth wrote about.

(7) ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA AWARDS. The RWA announced its award winners July 16 in San Diego. A couple were of genre interest.

RITA Award

The RITA recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. The Paranormal Romance category winner was Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles.

 

The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts. The Paranormal Romance winner was Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets.

(8) AMERICAN (IN SPACE) GRAFFITI. The Smithsonian tells about the discovery of graffiti written by astronauts inside the Apollo 11 command module – which apparently has never been reported before.

So it looks like landing on the moon wasn’t the only thing the crew were doing inside the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia in July of 1969. Staff from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian’s 3D Digitization Program have discovered writing on the interior walls of the command module?something that was previously unknown to the Smithsonian. The astronaut graffiti, unseen for almost 50 years, includes notes, figures and a calendar presumably written by the crew during their historic flight to the moon.

The writing gives a unique look into the first mission to land on the moon, crewed by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins between July 16 and 24, 1969. The discovery of this “space graffiti” will enable the museum’s curators to compile a more complete account of how the missions were conducted….

The curators at the National Air and Space Museum have been working with the Smithsonian’s 3D Digitization Program to scan the command module in 3D to create a high resolution interactive model of the entire spacecraft.

(9) AIRLESS MAIL. It’s official – “Spacefaring Stamp Sets World Record”.

However you phrase it, a 29-cent stamp has boldly reached Pluto and then some, making it the farthest-traveling postage stamp, according to the Guinness World Records organization.

NASA scientists included the 1991 “Pluto: Not Yet Explored” stamp — fitting cargo, right? — among other items on the New Horizons space probe when it launched in 2006. The probe conducted its closest flyby to Pluto in July of last year, and its mission has been extended to take it deeper into the Kuiper belt, the region of the solar system beyond the planet Neptune.

In all, the space probe has surpassed 3 billion miles sending back the most detailed pictures of Pluto to date, as well as offering a giant rebuke to the stamp’s assertion.

(10) THIRTEEN. The BBC says there could have been women astronauts from the beginning, if passing the tests had been the only consideration — “The Mercury 13: Women with the ‘right stuff’”.

In the early 60s, 13 women undertook secret tests at Nasa to see if they could become astronauts. Were it not for rules which prevented them from flying missions, the first woman in space could have been an American.

When Nasa astronaut Kate Rubins recently became the 60th woman to go into space, Wally Funk was watching.

There are two televisions in her Texas living room. One is tuned permanently to Nasa TV.

Space is one of her passions. The other is flying. Funk was America’s first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and it was her skills as a pilot that, in 1961, led her to become one of 13 women who passed secret medical tests to become an astronaut.

The Mercury 13, as they are now known, undertook the same tough mental and physical tests as the famous silver-suited Mercury 7.

(11) NOVEL NOMINEES. The book Jonathan Edelstein ranked below the event horizon may not be the one you’d predict.

This year’s short list of novels, like the novella category, is a strong one, and like the novellas, the novels have a clear winner and a clear loser….

(12) CULTURAL DIVIDE. Ashley R. Pollard on C.P. Snow in “[July 20, 1961] A Cultural Divide (A UK Fandom Report)” at Galactic Journey.

I have previously mentioned that London science fiction fandom is engaged in a feud that started three years ago, but which hasn’t stopped us from all meeting up at the pub once or twice a month for a drink and a chat. The feud is rather boring and has become increasingly tedious with disputes and tempers flaring over trivial things like membership cards — who needs membership cards anyway?

I mention this again apropos of this month’s title: A Cultural Divide.

For those who don’t know me, I’m a psychologist, and therefore people interest me, and understanding their behaviours is all part and parcel of my job.  Still, I’m amazed at what I see happening within fandom when quarrels break out.  Given science fiction fans have a lot in common with each other you might think that a sense of community would lessen divisions rather than stir them up.

Still, there’s always a Gin & Tonic with ice and a slice for when things get too hot and bothered in the pub.  Besides, as a woman, my opinions are rarely sought by the men who are arguing away over the various trivialities that consume them.

Our perennial fannish storm in a teapot proved a fine backdrop for the larger one described in C. P. Snow’s famous 1959 Rede Lecture The Two Cultures, which transcript I was able to recently secure, and which I read with great interest in a quieter corner of the pub….

(13) GAME OF THRONES SEASON 7. The Hollywood Reporter has the vital statistics for the next season of Game of Thrones.

HBO on Monday released details of the upcoming seventh season of Game of Thrones, including an episode count and filming locations. Season seven will consist of seven episodes, down from its standard 10. The series will launch in summer 2017—a delay from its typical March/April frame. The summer premiere means that Game Of Thrones’ seventh season will not be eligible for the 2017 Emmys. An average 25.1 million viewers tuned into the 10-episode sixth season of Thrones. That includes linear plays on the pay cable network and its sister channels, DVR, on-demand and streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now. The new number, which easily ranks as the most-watched series in modern HBO history, is up from the 23.3 million reported earlier in the season. It’s also up significantly from the fifth season’s average of 20.2 million viewers per episode.

(14) SHATNER OPENS MOUTH, INSERTS FOOT. Shatner, Kate Mulgrew and Brent Spiner were at a con in Montreal. The Mary Sue covered their interaction.

Thousands of fans turned out for Montreal Comic-Con July 8-10, many to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Overall, the mood was positive, forward-looking, and particularly supportive of diversity in the franchise. But then William Shatner opened his mouth, and took us all back in time (not in a fun Voyage Home way) with a string of sexist jokes.

“Check out Brent Spiner’s face in the picture at the top of the article,” recommends Dawn Incognito. “I think Shatner was trying to make a joke, but if so…I don’t get it.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dawn Incognito, Aziz Poonawalla, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

70 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/20/16 Eats, Scrolls, Leaves

  1. (11) NOVEL NOMINEES.

    I’m very sad for Jonathan Edelstein that the Ancillary novels just don’t “do it” for him. I would have hated to miss out on the joy and wonder and humor that they brought me. But every time someone posts a review of any book, we see how very individual SFF tastes can be.

  2. @2. Ursula has, these past several years, been a very strong voice for the genre community.

    However, I don’t really think the popular appeal she references extends to the literature. We don’t see a genre novel touted on billboards or television commercials (that’s James Patterson); what we see are appropriated concepts from genre literature put through the ‘pop’ grinder to come out as films, television shows and games, where, for the vast majority, the real concepts, the meaty stuff that Ursula mentions in her interview, are lost behind the explosions, frenetically cut action sequences and nonsensical dialogue.

    IF there were some meaningful connection between these popular, empty, entertainments and the literature (say, the credits roll on Avatar and it says something like “This film was inspired by science fiction literature; works drawn upon include Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest, the Strugatsky Brother’s The World of Noon, Anderson’s Call Me Joe; reading these works will provide you with a much better understanding of the concepts, conflicts and insight that science fiction can provide. For a complete list and information on where to obtain these stories, please visit AvatarLitSources.com”. (Never happen, of course).
    Or “This film borrowed its title from an influential short story collection by Isaac Asimov….)

    What Ursula is referencing as finally breaking through the barrier is anything but: it’s actually total and utter cultural appropriation: Sure, some of the concepts are reaching a wider audience, but no credit is accruing to those who originated them (and certainly no dollars either).

    This is, unfortunately, what happens to every single “new art form” that develops in a creative ghetto: it seeks its own destruction through commercialization, because, of necessity, commercialization waters down and homogenizes the art in order to reach less sophisticated consumers.

  3. Now, I scroll me down to sleep
    Ooh, I just can’t find a beat
    Pixel light (ohh, I will never dance!)

  4. 3) Haven’t desired to be on Twitter even after I read up on it and explained it to myself. There’s more than enough to distract me and limited myself to a block of words sounded like an interesting discipline, but no. This scroll is good enough.

  5. [checkbox selected]

    “I tasted the pixels in the scroll of the universe, and I was not offended….”

  6. 2) inflammatory and controversial comments generate attention which generates ad revenue. It’s not just twitter, it’s a general problem

  7. @ JJ:

    I’m very sad for Jonathan Edelstein that the Ancillary novels just don’t “do it” for him. I would have hated to miss out on the joy and wonder and humor that they brought me. But every time someone posts a review of any book, we see how very individual SFF tastes can be.

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve sometimes felt the same way myself. There have been a few times when I’ve considered the concepts at play in the Ancillary series and thought, “I should like this. It should push my buttons.” But there’s something about Leckie’s writing that is, to me, opaque and hard to follow – I’ve reacted that way to her short stories too. Maybe I’ll pick the books up again in a few years and see if I like them better, though I’m past the age where that happens easily.

    (Also, mannered societies like the Radchaai tend to leave me cold, but I’ve read plenty of other books where I found the setting unlikable but interesting, so that’s not it.)

  8. Amazon UK’s Kindle Daily Deal has four of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books at £1.99 apiece (The Last Witch, Sword of Destiny, Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire)

  9. @11/JJ: I am also surprised at Edelstein’s reaction, especially since I found The Fifth Season more opaque — and ~equally worthwhile. And (sim @Edelstein) I’m usually not fond of mannered societies either; perhaps I like the Ancillaries because they’re where manners meet reality (of several kinds, e.g. covering up vile behavior and breaking down in conflicts).

    @steve davidson: consider

    I often wonder what the vintners buy
    One-half so precious as the stuff they sell.

    Many people don’t have time/energy for high-concept — but (unlike economics) stfnal ideas can trickle down. And most SF is based on uncredited synthesis — notice that (e.g.) “Call Me Joe” (1957) doesn’t acknowledge “Desertion” (1944) — so I’m not convinced that Avatar deserves scorn for not crediting all of its threads. (It has enough other flaws….)

  10. (4) Irony, thy name is Milo Y.

    From the last paragraph of the article:

    So perhaps what’s needed now is a bolder form of censure after all, because the internet is not a universal human right. If people cannot be trusted to treat one another with respect, dignity and consideration, perhaps they deserve to have their online freedoms curtailed. For sure, the best we could ever hope for is a smattering of unpopular show trials. But if the internet, ubiquitous as it now is, proves too dangerous in the hands of the psychologically fragile, perhaps access to it ought to be restricted. We ban drunks from driving because they’re a danger to others. Isn’t it time we did the same to trolls?

    And now he’s complaining about what he used to advocate for? What a jackass.

    In nicer news: Graphic Novel Rec–I just finished the first volume of Marjorie Liu’s Monstress. Liu is also the author of the urban fantasy series Hunter Kiss, which for my money is one of the most interesting UF series out there–it eschews the usual urban fantasy cliches and develops its own unique mythology. Monstress vol. 1: Awakening treads along similar lines, with a rich backstory and mythos (and a far better depiction of intelligent talking cats than Jim Butcher). This is a fascinating story of monsters within and without, fear of the Other, and ancient terrors coming to life. The art, by Sana Takeda, is a muted palette of grays/browns/blacks that nonetheless grows on the reader, and is a perfect complement to the story. Check it out.

  11. I think the kind of thing Le Guin and others have been pushing for, getting imaginative literature recognised as literature, has actually happened to an appreciable degree: but that’s not the same as reaching the mainstream, because ‘literature’ – the kind of thing critics take seriously – is also a minority interest. What’s being discussed here is something different.

    And as for the thing that is being discussed here, I’m very doubtful about how new it really is. Star Trek and Doctor Who, from the start, had enormous audiences, and some aspects of them, like Daleks and ‘beaming up’, were well-known cultural reference-points. But being a fan of these things, having an obsessive interest in them, was a minority thing. And fewer people read books than watch films and TV, and so being a fan of books was a doubly minority thing. But science fiction itself was never cut off from the wider world.

  12. Failing to resist my urge to gawp at the inmates at the Bedlam, I found myself looking at Jack C. Wrong’s website. Looks like he (and it implies Teddy) are telling their acolytes exactly what order they should vote things in.

  13. @ Chip Hitchcock:

    And (sim @Edelstein) I’m usually not fond of mannered societies either; perhaps I like the Ancillaries because they’re where manners meet reality (of several kinds, e.g. covering up vile behavior and breaking down in conflicts).

    Mannered societies usually use custom to cover up vile behavior and paper over differences, and conflict is the usual result when such societies change beyond the capacity of manners to mediate. Stories about mannered societies often ignore these things as much as the societies themselves. Leckie, to her credit, didn’t – her work is all about laying bare the underbelly. But perhaps the subject matter lends itself to a style of mannered storytelling (which if anything is even more evident in some of Leckie’s short fiction) which just doesn’t work for me.

    We’re well into de gustibus territory at this point, so I’ll leave it at that.

  14. Lunatic graffiti: this only reinforces the need to document the markings left on the interiors or the LEM ascent stages.

  15. So perhaps what’s needed now is a bolder form of censure…
    I think what happened here is that he was calling for large rocks to be thrown on people he disagrees with, but accidentally left out the “u”.

    Just Say Scroll!

  16. (10) I remember reading about the Mercury 13 in the 1980’s when books about the study were beginning to appear. Amy Teitel spoke about this at a panel at CONvergence this year and some of the excuses as to why women weren’t accepted as astronauts at the time were really weak.

  17. re: Moon landing nostalgia

    I loved seeing the occasional time-shifted moon landing live-tweets in my feed yesterday. But it brings into focus a curious contrast between the history we experience and the history we’re told we’ve experienced.

    When it comes to early spaceflight memories, my clearest one was John Glenn’s flight, for which I was a few months short of 4 years old. My parents did a number of things that were able to fix that experience in my memory: we bought our first tv set specifically to watch it, and my older brother and I both got space-themed toys that we played with for years afterward. I have this photographic memory-snapshot of sitting in the basement “family room” where the tv was, wearing my space helmet, and watching the news.

    You’d think that the moon landing coverage would be even clearer in my mind. I was 11 then. And I’ve been told detailed surrounding circumstances of when I must have watched the tv coverage. You see, we were living in Prague that year, and it happened that we had the only tv set in the entire 8-story apartment building, so I’ve been told that all sorts of neighbors came knocking on the door to ask to watch with us. But I have no clear experiential memory of it.

    I suspect part of the reason may be the lack of a repetitive social context. No constant drumming up of excitement from everyday media — the everyday media was in Czech, which I had essentially no ability in. No discussions at school or from friends — I was being homeschooled and had no local friends. Or maybe the significance of the moon landing was just swamped with my other experiences of global politics at the time.

    You see, it was Prague. In 1969. The year after the “Prague Spring” political movement. (We’d arrived just on the heels of it being quashed. There were still a few Russian tanks on the streets when we arrived.) I was quite aware of the world events that were literally in my face that year; but U.S. events…not so much. There were other U.S. events in ’69 that I experienced in very attenuated form, just as entries in a history book.

    Memory is a curious thing, and experience even more so.

  18. Now if Robert Whitaker Sirignano, in his professional capacity, had handled “New Horizons,” that would’ve been the best NASA cancellation ever.

    But I suppose you don’t get as far on a 29-cent stamp these days.

  19. Robert Arthur wrote a short story (part of his Murchison Morks series, maybe?) about some stamps that physically conveyed mail to and from some unreachable other place. The protagonist finally took creative steps and proved you can get farther on some stamps than others.

    The story was in one of the Hitchcock collections Arthur edited. Did I ask before if there was such a thing as a collection of those off-kilter stories of his? I rather liked them.

  20. I’m sure –because there was Fortean Times article about it–there have bits of mail dropped into black holes, since they re appeared over fifty years later and were delivered. I think one letter took 105 years.

    In 1969, a first class stamp was six cents.

  21. Robert Arthur, Jr. wrote the early volumes of the Three Investigators series which were my juvenile book series of choice. (The first nine books plus the 11th.) Still would like to have a hide out that was hidden amidst the various piles of a junkyard.

    threeinvestigatorsbooks.com says that he had a number of stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Solve-Them-Yourself-Mysteries. I had this book when I was younger, but I honestly don’t remember any of the stories. The site has some useful links.

  22. I always liked the Three Investigators books. Shame they’re not available electronically.

  23. Thanks for that! Yes, the Three Investigators, as a series, sent me into strange libraries when I was on trips into other states. I have most or all of the Robert Arthur ones now, and have read them to Sarah (at her request, after the first) at a number of bedtimes. She doesn’t know who Hitchcock is, but believes I do a good one.

  24. Yes, Three Investigators! Read a lot of them as a kid, I think we were six guys in our class that used to trade them between us. Not sure if I have anyone left. To have a HQ as theirs is still a dream.

  25. The Three Investigators is one of those things that I got started with because of the Scholastic books which we were discussing a while back. Oddly, it was The Mystery of the Green Ghost which was usually offered and that was the fourth book in the series. Maybe there were a lot of fans of the old Green Ghost boardgame.

  26. Lunatic graffiti: this only reinforces the need to document the markings left on the interiors or the LEM ascent stages.

    Step 1: Find a lot of people who like assembling very difficult 3d jigsaws…

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