Pixel Scroll 7/29/17 So What’s It Gonna Be, Kid? Calendrical Rot Or Diachronic Shear?

(1) TWEETS OF GENIUS. The winner of the internet today begins here –

(2) NEXT CHIANG ADAPTATION. A Ted Chiang story will be the basis for this new AMC show: “AMC is developing a sci-fi show from the writers behind Arrival”.

During the Television Critics Association press tour, AMC announced a slate of eight new shows that it’s putting into development, according to Deadline, which includes a project based on a story by Ted Chiang, whose novella Story of Your Life was the basis for Denis Villeneuve’s movie Arrival.

Liking What You See is being developed by Arrival’s screenwriter, Eric Heisserer, with Chiang as a consultant. It’ll be based on Liking What You See: A Documentary, which Chiang published in his collection, Stories of Your Life and Others in 2002. The story is set in the near future where members of a community called Saybrook undergo a procedure called calliagnosia, which prevents them from perceiving beauty. The story plays out like a documentary, and its characters discuss the pros and cons of this procedure in a media-saturated world.

(3) ALTSPACEVR CROAKS. A social media pioneer ran out of money, as they do – The Verge has the story: “The most famous VR social network is abruptly shutting down”.

AltspaceVR, the virtual reality social network that has hosted everything from stand-up comedy to presidential debate-watching parties, is shutting down next week. The community announced “with heavy hearts” last night that AltspaceVR would be closing August 3rd at 10pm ET, after “unforeseen financial difficulty.”

Spokesperson Gerard Gottheil provided more detail in an email to The Verge and other outlets. “We had a supportive group of investors that last gave us money in 2015. It looked like we had a deal for our next round of funding, and it fell through,” he said. “Some combination of this deal falling through and the general slowness of VR market growth made most of our investors reluctant to fund us further. We’ve been out fundraising but have run out of time and money.”

Currently, AltSpaceVR has around 35,000 active monthly users, who spend an average of around 35 minutes a day on the free platform.

(4) FUTURE FORESEEN. UploadVR says “Here’s A Look Back at How Sci-Fi Literature Predicted the Rise of Modern Virtual Reality”. Sure, but did sci-fi predict it would go broke?

With the introduction of top-end devices such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive as well as the simple ones such as Google Cardboard, Virtual Reality is the next digital frontier. While it’s a world that can now be practically realized, it’s not a new idea: Science Fiction has long been imagining virtual worlds within imagined ones.

From the early 1950s, authors had begun to experiment with stories involving simulated worlds. Ray Bradbury’s 1951 story The Veldt dealt with a pair of children and a virtual nursery, while Fredric Pohl’s 1955 short story The Tunnel Under the World told the story of a man who relived the same day over and over, only to discover that he was trapped in a cruel marketing simulation…..

(5) FAMOUS SF SERIES CONTINUES. C.J. Cherryh  announced in a public Facebook post that she and Jane Fancher are currently completing a new Alliance-Union book (titled Alliance Rising). It is set early in the universe’s timeline. At the moment, the book is being edited by Fancher and Cherryh has finished her edit.

It takes two people of similar style (check) and egos both strong enough and pliable enough (check) to see something you thought brilliant as fluid and changeable. In a profession as solitary as writing can be, it’s downright fun to sit down for a brainstorming session on the shared story. We’re already thinking about ‘next…’

(6) PRESTO. Camestros Felapton’s latest hilarious invention is the “Genre Shifter”.

Turns a single paragraph into different genres via the miracle of science!

(7) MORE MEMORIES OF JORDIN KARE. Bill Higgins of Fermilab recalls the science panels he did with Jordin Kare in their personas Fizz and Fuse.


  • July 29, 1988 – George A. Romero’s Monkey Shines opens.
  • July 29, 1970 — The 1965-produced Invasion of the Astro-Monster finally found its way to a theatrical release in the United States.
  • July 29, 2002 Signs premieres in theaters.
  • July 29, 2011 — Director Jon Favreau spawned Cowboys & Aliens on this day in 2011.


  • Born July 29, 1972 – Wil Wheaton

(10) COMIC SECTION R.I.P. The July 24 Financial Times has an article on D C Thomson, the Scottish publisher of “The Beano,” Briitain’s oldest comic (founded 1938), as they try to invent apps and short animations for tablets to keep kids interested an avoid the fate of another DC Thomson comic, “The Dandy” which died in 2012 after its circulation fell from 2 million in the 1950s to 7,500.  (“The Dandy” was supposed to move online, but hasn’t.)

(11) TIME TRAVEL. If you weren’t present in 1962 when Galactic Journey held its second tele-conference, thank goodness you have the means to go back in time whenever you want to watch Gideon Marcus and company present their predictions for the 1962 Hugo Science Fiction Awards.

(12) CONFEDERATE. The Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg, in “HBO’s Casey Bloys Defends Slave Drama From ‘Game of Thrones’ Creators: ‘It’s a Risk Worth Taking'”, says that Bloys spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour and said Confederate was “weapons-grade material” but “If you can get it right, there is real opportunity to advance the racial discussion in America.”

If you can draw a line between what we’re seeing in the country today with voter suppression, mass incarceration, lack of access to public education and healthcare and draw the line to our past and shared history, that’s an important line to draw and a conversation worth having. [The producers] acknowledge this has a high degree of difficulty. It’s a risk worth taking.

(13) LATE SHOW. JJ admires these reviews by James Reid and wishes they’d been posted earlier so they could have been included in our roundup here. “I thought that the Campbell was the best eval (possibly the only one) for that category I’ve seen.”

Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, writen by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze

Wakanda is beset by internal strife, and it’s king is overwhelmed.

How does a good king rule when they’ve failed their kingdom, and how do they fight a rebellion that philosophically might be right?  Wakanda has been devastated by war, their elite warriors have become vigilantes and rebels, and a woman flames fear in the populous and drives them to rebellion using mystical powers.  What is most interesting in this book is the sympathy that Coates shows those rising up, rather than assume that because Black Panther tries to be a good ruler he should rule, it looks at the consequences of his actions, and the role of kings.  As a book, Black Panther lacks in neither action nor thought, but unfortunately, as merely the first volume in a longer arc never has a chance to answer the questions it poses.  This is a series that demands further reading, but as a volume is all set up.

As art, the landscapes and cities are evocative, creating a technocratic eden in the jungle.  In contrast the characters are highly stylised and angular, better in motion than standing still.

A good introduction to what promises to be a well thought out look at leadership and governance combined with superhero action.

(14) COVER STORY. Shorpy is back with another old newsstand photo from around November 1938. For this one you don’t even need to squint to see the science fictional goodies. Bill says he sees these stories:

The Astounding has stories by Hubbard and Simak, and a letter from Asimov. The Amazing Stories has “I Robot” by Eando Binder. The Weird Tales has a Kull poem by REH, and stories by August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner. The Startling Stories has a novel (“The Black Flame”) by Stanley Weinbaum. The Argosy has a reprinted installment of “The Ship of Ishtar” by Merritt. The issue of Adventure Comics contains stories and art by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Siegel and Shuster, and Sheldon Moldoff.

Although I think for some of these identifications, Bill must be using x-ray vision.

(15) I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. We all scream… No, this isn’t a horror story, it’s a lyric: “Scoop! This Woman Tastes Ice Cream For A Living”.

Fast Company: How did you land that job, really?

Molly Hammel: It was a competitive process with dozens of applicants, but I’m not sure exactly how many people applied for this job.

One thing that really helped me stand out during the interview process was that I was on the dairy judging team in college. To participate in the team, I went through extensive training on how to judge dairy products (ice cream included). I came in second overall in the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest in 2014 so that definitely helped as well. During my interviews, I also mentioned that I made up silly songs and walked around the office singing to get panelists to attend panels at my last internship. A couple of associates mentioned my songs to me after I was hired, so I think that helped me stand out.

(16) TIPPING THE SCALES. Only one can win! “Finalists to gather for Miss Mermaid United Kingdom pageant”.

The top mermaids in Great Britain will gather this weekend to determine who will earn the title of Miss Mermaid U.K.

Women from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were invited to compete in regional pageants and the finalists will gather at Billing Aquadrome in Northampton on Saturday.

The winner will be adorned with a special crown and receive the opportunity to compete in the Miss Mermaid International final in Egypt in November.

Participants in the pageant are required to be females between 18 and 32-years-old who live in the U.K. and have strong swimming skills.

(17) SHAKE IT FAR, FAR AWAY. Eclectic Method has created Star Wars video you can dance to, using only sounds from the 8 Star Wars Movies, no added sugars or samples.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Bill, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, and Cat Rambo for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

55 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/29/17 So What’s It Gonna Be, Kid? Calendrical Rot Or Diachronic Shear?

  1. Heh. Team Calendrical Rot for the win!

    (13) I’m pretty sure Ada Palmer will get the Campbell, too. I didn’t much care for Too Like the Lightning, but I respect her ideas and the skill it took to tell that story.

  2. Like Cory Doctorow, I’ve oddly never been a huge fan of Stephenson, so give me the Calendrical Rot.

    What authors do you or do others expect you’d love, but you have found to be not so much in your experience. (A third in this list for me is the late Iain Banks, maybe because I bounced off the first quasi Culture novel I read. I did like Transition, though)

  3. Calendrical Rot!

    It’s already happened; I posted this from 6902! Shoggoth… is that you?

    Also, Fifth.

  4. @Paul Weimer: Jonathan Carroll. Based on blurbs from authors whose books I liked and the recommendations of other people whose tastes I’ve found generally compatible, I read Bones of the Moon, a book I hated with the white-hot fire of a thousand suns. My reaction was so negative that I’ve never tried anything else by him, even though it’s now the year 7008.

    @lurkertype: Clearly you’re using a heretical calendar!

  5. (1) Genius, and should be published in an online magazine with the same format.

    (2) Correction to the PR: they can still perceive beauty, it’s just that they can’t tell how good-looking other humans or themselves are. So they aren’t affected by advertising and care about people for their personalities.

    (3) Call me when ALL the lag between me moving and the image changing is gone — VR still makes me nauseous. I’ve heard for like 30 years, “No, really, this one works!” and nope.

    (6) I liked the steampunk one the best. The font and color changes are good.

    (7) Good panels.

    (11) Man, today I’ve been from 1962 to 2017 to (checks) 6951. Gonna get chrono-lag. It was a good chat; I was able to get connected to Telstar this time.

    (14) Quick! Fire up the time machine and go back and buy some of those!
    a) There was a magazine called “Ken”? b) The Atlantic is using the same typeface.

    (17) There are only 5 movies…

  6. And now it’s 8488 — soon I’ll be looking at a deflated thing flapping feebly on a deserted beach…

  7. 11) Oh, I forgot this was on. Will have to rewatch and to see the 1962 Hugo predictions.

    14) Like lurkertype, these photos always make me want to go back in time and just splurge on magazines.

    Calendrical rot has deposited me in 7484. Where is Shuos Jedao, when you need him?

  8. In other news, I cast my votes for the WSFA Small Press Award today. Most of the stories were really good. I’m looking forward to knowing who wrote them when the nominees are announced to the public in a week or so. (The voters read the stories and vote on them without knowing who the authors are).

  9. Best wishes to today’s birthday boy, from the year 407! – why is there a legion of Goths on the front lawn?

  10. Here in the year 9003 you can spend hours fixing metadata in Calibre and your ultra space kindle will still ignore it. 🙁

  11. @Iphinome

    Oh dear. Here in (*checks*) 2902 Calibre has a funky VR interface, but organising your metadata is still a chore.


    Uhh, remind me never to be alone in a room with those two.


    *Incoherent squeeing noises*

    (13) LATE SHOW.

    JJ is right, that’s some good fan reviewing.

  12. 8) I misread that as gene shifter initially and thought Timothy had been up to no good again.

    Posted from the year 4522

  13. (1) Why yes, indeed!!

    (13) May as well drop my thoughts on the novel, graphic story, and fancast categories here. FWIW.

    The good news is that since voting closed, I’ve been able to plow through the capstone to Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series; Tyrant’s Throne. Thus far, he has never failed to satisfy. It’s gotta be tough on a protagonist to discover that they are the final obstacle to ending tyranny. He has a new YA series out (Spellslinger) and just signed a 10 book deal.

    Now on to the end of Emma Newman’s fantastic A Little Knowledge series; All Good Things. It wisely dropped near the end of Hugo voting, IMO. Then we will have the end of Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle (The Core) dropping in October.

    On the side, I’ve also bee working through WJ Lundy’s The Darkness. It is a zombie/military novel. His writing continues to improve over his first couple of books. Not great, but pretty good.


  14. 2) Correction: callignosia is not the name of the procedure, but the result of it — the inability to have esthetic reactions to faces. It’s like a limited form of face-blindness; you can still recognize people, but the term “good-looking” loses its meaning for you. The procedure is proposed as a solution for “lookism”, which is the well-documented phenomenon that physically-attractive people have a distinct advantage in everything from job interviews to interactions with waitstaff. This was my favorite story in Chiang’s collection; it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

    12) I’d be a lot less leery of this if I were hearing that kind of enthusiasm for it out of PoC. Even better would be if they spent any time on the way certain factions of Christianity basically rewrote the religion to support slavery. As it is, I fully expect another round of Confederacy apologia.

  15. @Paul Weimer
    Ian Banks so far. But that mght ge because my best friend in college keeps on gushing about him and the two books Ive read, I was disappointed. Which again might have been the translators fault (didnt read engish back then).
    Im a Stephenson fan though, so shear it is. From a distance though (supposingly quite the spectacle).

    Never Scroll between a pixel and his File!

  16. Speaking from my vantage point in 8393, it took me a while to get into Iain Banks. My first book was Excision (I think that’s the title) and I didn’t really know what was going on, knowing nothing about The Culture at that point. But it engaged me enough to read more, and now I’m a big fan. Dammit that he’s gone.

    So, any suggestions about good stuff? I haven’t found much this year that’s really knocked my socks off. I liked Ninefox Gambit and have the next one on my Kindle, along with the newest Jason Hough. Currently reading The Deaths of Tao, which is kind of slow-moving (halfway through it) and although I like the series generally, I have issues with the aliens’ treatment of humans—even the “good” guys.

  17. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Jo Clayton’s Diadem From The Stars (Book 1 of the Diadem series) is currently on sale for $1.99 at the usual outlets.

    Author Disappointment: Joe Abercrombie, who is very competent but IMHO he takes “grimdark” to new extremes. I can deal with the Black Company series and the Malazan books, but I can’t go where Abercrombie goes.

  18. New Alliance-Union! Who’d have though an entire galaxy spanning series of space operas could come out of a conflict over the best word to use for a bunch of people hanging out together. It is a pity Space Club got wiped out by the other two so so early on in the conflict, I was Team Space Club, though only after Space Club had ruthlessly annexed Team Space Team.

  19. (14) And one of the Western mags has a story called “Witchery on the Range.” Intriguing.

  20. Heh, great job, Camestros! Though I can’t quite bring myself to call the font and color choices good. But they were certainly appropriate. And fitting. 🙂

    Oooh, new Alliance/Union novel! Can’t wait. I hope the time away from the series has refreshed her, though, rather than a case of her being dragged, kicking and screaming, back to the money-maker.
    Hype Backlash is definitely a thing. I enjoy Stephenson and Banks, but I’ve never quite been able to bring myself to finish Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy.

  21. @Paul Weimer Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair didn’t work for me though it sounded like the sort of thing I might really like.

  22. PJ Evans,
    Are they Goths, or Shog-Goths?
    Besides isn’t it the year 4193?

    Re:Iain M. Banks
    It took me two goes, but once it took, I was hooked. (I still haven’t managed to get more than 100 pages into Crowley’s “Little, Big” though.)

  23. Packing for Worldcon and have come to the depressing conclusion that there is a limit to how much stuff I can fit into a car with a roof top box.

    So now we are down to the agonizing choices of what not not to bring. How many different types of skulls? How many masks? How many laughing skeletons? How many scary dolls? How many halloween props? And how much will fit into the two glass cabinets?


  24. Banks’s Surface Detail was one of the books (along with McDonald’s The Dervish House and a few others) that turned me back into an enthusiastic sf reader 6 or 7 years ago.

  25. I spent much of this past March absorbed in the Mars trilogy. I started reading Robinson with Forty Signs of Rain and will continue to seek out his older work.

  26. I’m going to have to read some Banks soon, M or otherwise. Haven’t for some time as it was too soon after his passing, but I can see a great re-read happening soon.

    Consider Phlebas, Rimrunners, Shards of Honor and Hardwired all turned up in my local Library just as I was migrating from YA and Fantasy to more Sci Fi and have shaped my reading since. With a bit of Drake and Haldeman too.

    Things I found disappointing? Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. For reasons I can’t quite fully express.

  27. Hampus Eckerman: So now we are down to the agonizing choices of what not not to bring. How many different types of skulls?

    Wow — this is a whole new frontier in convention packing! That’s definitely something you can’t count on picking up after you arrive….

  28. @Soon Lee
    The were goths then. But they might be shoggoths in disguise, seeing as it’s now 6395.

  29. I’m another one who’s had problems getting into the works of Iain Banks and Kim Stanley Robinson.

    With Banks, I suspect the reason is that I’d already developed a general fatigue of the whole New British space opera movement by the time I got to Banks. So maybe I’ll give him another try. Kim Stanley Robinson, meanwhile, simply is not for me.

    In other news, I wound up volunteering to moderate a panel at WorldCon. And the persistent calendrical rot has deposited me in 6826.

  30. Iain Banks. I read Player of Games on strong recommendation of Banks from someone whose taste was usually a good guide–and really liked it.

    And then bounced hard off every Banks I tried after that, till I gave up.

    Here in 9238, I am dreaming of ice cream and shoggoths.

  31. If anyone wants to buy a (online) bookstore, Conrad and Jane Larsen of Lady Jayne’s Books are retiring:


    Lady Jaynes Books has been in business since 1980 in Portland and then Tacoma as a brick & mortar store and at sf conventions. We switched to online sales only after the turn of the century

    Now, at age 81 and 4 cardiac hospitalizations, it is time to liquidate.

    We have about 15,000 titles, around 3,000 hardbacks and trade paperbacks–the balance mass market books.

    Our speciality has been Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror but the inventory has expanded into a sampling of all genres.

    Most of our inventory is listed on either Amazon or Half.com under ladyjaynesbooks2.

    We would like to dispose of the inventory in bulk either to a single buyer or 2 or 3 large chunks. Special attention given to authors we have emphasized and also to other booksellers.

    Please contact us with offers and enquiries. Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested.

    Conrad & Jane
    [email protected]
    253-970-3380 & 253-970-3379

    They were regulars at Portland (and other Pacific NW locales) for decades.

  32. How many different types of skulls? How many masks?

    I hear Chuck Wendig is availble to help with questions like these.

  33. @Xtifr: I doubt Cherryh had to be dragged back to Alliance/Union proper; she seems to have an endless flow of ideas for Foreigner, despite its narrower compass. Her core A/U books were mostly complete in themselves, so she may have been waiting for a new idea that was worth a book.
    And I’m another who doesn’t think much of Robinson; I finished the Mars trilogy, but it was heavy going (although not as bad as Years of Rice and Salt). On the lighter side, neither Fforde nor Charlaine Harris appealed (until the Midnight TX trilogy — I may watch for new works now that she may be wrapping up Sookie.) I’ve liked every Banks I’ve read (including some of the mundane ones) except for bouncing off the unorthodox orthography of Feersum Endjinn — it may be something about the combination of serious consequences and serious attitude.

  34. @Xtifr:

    I’ve never quite been able to bring myself to finish Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy.

    I loved the first two, just inhaled them. That was how long ago? And the third one still sits there unread. I liked where the story ended after the second one. I’m scared to go on.


    McDonald’s The Dervish House

    I was thrilled by that one right after Brasyl blew me away. Then I couldn’t get into River of Gods at all.

  35. @4: it’s arguable whether Tron “visualize[d] the idea of entering a digital world” first; “True Names” came out the year before, although it focused more on digital-amusement constructs rather than visualizing ~real data-on-computers as in the quoted passage.

  36. Oh yes, “True Names” is a brilliant and frequently overlooked classic which, I’m pretty sure, would have cemented Vinge’s reputation if more people had any idea what he was talking about. Unfortunately, the personal computer was still too new a thing at that time, so his ideas went over a lot of people’s heads.

  37. @Paul Weimer: A number of people that I know, respect, and even love really admire Philip K. Dick’s work. I’ve read a fair amount of it, but don’t find it to my taste. (I find most of his characters get on my nerves.)

    @John A Arkansawyer: If you feel that Batman / Elmer Fudd is worthy of the award, and you are in the group that can nominate, I for one see nothing stopping you. Why do you think it wouldn’t be eligible?

  38. That’s definitely something you can’t count on picking up after you arrive….

    They’re generally quite easy to find, but people get a bit cross when you try to extract them.

  39. @Paul Weimer: Cory Doctorow and Douglas Coupland are the two big ones, although Robert J. Sawyer is up there as well (only read one of his, although people pushed him on me for ages, and I felt very strongly from the experience that his work would have felt more appropriate to 1950 than to today).

  40. Brian Aldiss. Back when I was a teen, his name often came up in conversations about some of my favorite authors (Delany, Moorcock, etc.). So I grabbed some, and completely bounced. I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about his Helliconia books, but after that early experience, I just haven’t had the courage to give it a try.

    Gregory Benford. Of the “Three B’s”, he’s the only one I’ve never managed to get into, despite repeated attempts. Brin and Bear are close to being automatic-buys for me, but I just don’t understand why Benford gets lumped in with those two–aside from the fact that they’re all friends.

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