Pixel Scroll 7/7/16 Where the Filed Things Are

(1) STAR TREK CATCHES UP WITH THE PRESENT. The BBC story “Star Trek character Hikaru Sulu revealed as gay” says the Star Trek Beyond development is a salute to actor George Takei.

One of Star Trek’s best known characters, Hikaru Sulu, has been revealed as gay.

The character, played by John Cho in the current franchise, will be shown as having a same sex partner in the forthcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Cho told the Herald Sun the move was a nod to George Takei, the gay actor who played the character in the original 1960s television series.

The decision was taken by British star Simon Pegg, who wrote the screenplay.

(2) TAKEI UNIMPRESSED. Takei himself is not enthusiastic about the idea, he told The Hollywood Reporter.

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Gene Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

He explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.


George Takei with Buzz Aldrin

George Takei with Buzz Aldrin

(3) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HETEROSEXUAL FRONTIER. In the link above, Takei also discusses the Kirk/Uhura kiss, to which the BBC devoted several paragraphs in an article about classic Star Trek’s handling of black/white race issues.

In 1968, US television broadcast what many claim was the first interracial kiss on American airwaves. It occurred between two of the sexiest characters alive: Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura, on Star Trek. According to Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, “We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk, and many to him from guys wondering the same thing about me.

(4) THE IDEA FOR FOLDING. The author of “Folding Beijing”, “Hugo-nominated Chinese author Hao Jingfang talks sci-fi, inner journeys and inequality” with the South China Morning Post.

For me it was heartbreaking to read about how people in different “spaces” had different amounts of time when they had access to daylight. That sounds like the most basic thing. How did you think about illustrating those discrepancies?

We always think that time is the only thing we share equally. So if time is divided unequally by social status, then inequality is complete. For me it was artistically striking to create this setting.

The other reason is perhaps economic because unemployment is always a problem in the US, in Europe, as well as in China. The Chinese government is afraid of unemployment, so sometimes it will maintain a plant or a factory to avoid huge unemployment. But in the future as technology develops, how will people deal with unemployment? Perhaps the easiest and cruellest method is to limit the time (they are awake), and then they will not create problems. So this setting provides an extreme solution to a social problem. I hope that we can find better solutions in real life, but in stories you can just push things to the extreme.

(5) MORE HUGO REVIEWS. Doris V. Sutherland, having completed her long series comparing the 2014 and 2015 Hugo nominees, moves on to discuss this year’s contenders – “2016 Hugo Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

(6) SF ART IN SCOTLAND. The Adventures in Time and Space exhibit runs July 7-October 2 at The Lighthouse in Glasgow.

Science fiction films exert a powerful grip on the human imagination. This innovative exhibition, curated by Berlin based leading Scots designer, Jon Jardine and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland will offer insights into the architecture of science fiction. It will compare the ideas of architectural visionaries with startling representations of buildings and cities from the birth of cinema to the present day.

Over 180 new works of art have been specially commisioned by Artists Ian Stuart Campbell, Douglas Prince, Ciana Pullen and Piotr Sell for the exhibition.

The Festival of Architecture 2016 is a year-long, Scotland-wide celebration of design, creativity and the built environment, led by The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.


July 7, 1907 – Robert Anson Heinlein would have been 109 years old today.

Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein


According to Spider Robinson, the closing quotation for today’s edition of the emailed morning headline-summary The Economist Espresso is by Robert Heinlein: “Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

(9) ABSTAIN. At Mad Genius Club, Kate Paulk looks over the nominees in the two editor categories —  “Hugo Category Highlights – The Finalists – Best Editor, Short Form and Long Form”. She finds only Jerry Pournelle worthy of consideration in Short Form, and as for Long Form:

I think I’m going to have to sit out this category. There simply isn’t enough in it that’s caught my attention over the year for me to make a judgment, and I personally refuse to simply say “Oh, X is a good person and they’ve done a lot of good over the years”. That’s not what the award is for.

That’s pretty amazing, to think Paulk invested a whole year promoting the Sad Puppy cause while being bored by the output of nine of its ten Hugo-nominated editors.

(10) HUGOGAMI. Lisa Goldstein weighs in on Hugo nominated Novelette: “Folding Beijing” at inferior4+1.

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu, is on the Rabid Puppies slate, but it also seems to be a popular story in its own right.  There are other popular stories on the slate as well, in an attempt, I think, to confuse Hugo voters.  Apparently we’re supposed to react like Harcourt Mudd’s robots in Star Trek: — “But it’s a Puppy choice! — But I like it! — But it’s a Puppy choice!” — and then our logic circuits overheat and our brains shut down.

(11) 2016 SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. “Gardner Dozois reviews Short Fiction, June 2016” at Locus Online.

He covers Asimov’s 4-5/16, Tor.com 1/6/16 – 4/13/16, Lightspeed 4/16, and Slate 4/26/16.

(12) WORLDCON NEWS. MidAmeriCon II has released several updates.

Fan Tables – deadline for reserving is July 15.

Worldcons traditionally offer complimentary Fan Tables to non-profit groups organized by members of a particular science fiction/fantasy fandom or convention. Fan Tables are an opportunity for attendees to get information about other fan groups and for fan groups to introduce themselves to fans from around the world. MidAmeriCon II has a limited number of tables available for fan groups to promote themselves and to sell memberships or club paraphernalia. (If you would like to sell more than memberships and T-shirts, please investigate the Creators Alley or Dealers Room).

The following conventions, convention bids, clubs, and societies have already reserved or are expected to reserve a Fan Table at MidAmeriCon II: …


Please remember that your $60 child membership comes with 5 FREE hours of childcare, the earlier you book those hours the better to ensure we still have enough space. At the door convention rates for children are: Wed $15, Thurs-Sat each day $25, and $15 for Sunday. Onsite childcare, if there is still room, will be $15 per hour (pre-reg is $10 online).

We are thrilled to be working with KiddieCorp as the professional childcare provider for MidAmeriCon II. KiddieCorp has worked regularly with Worldcon in recent years ­including in Spokane, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Denver, Montreal, Reno, and Chicago ­and have an excellent understanding of our needs and interests. Childcare will be held in the Kansas City Marriott which is close to the convention center and also connected to it via underground tunnel. More information about our hotels and room bookings can be found on our hotel information page.

Children’s Programming

Our children’s program is for children aged 6 to 12 and also their parents. Some items are suitable for older kids and teenagers who are also welcome. We plan to have a program for the full weekend involving crafts, games, toys, mini-projects, books, comics, and a bit of space for children to enjoy. We want to create a room where there is always something to do, where science and engineering meet fiction, film, books, comics, and the fantastic, and where kids will enjoy themselves and have fun!

YA Programming

MidAmeriCon II will also have some great YA programming including workshops, panels, and more for the young and young at heart. From steampunk to romance, action, and film, our YA programming explores the fun in fiction while also tackling some tough questions about ethics, love, and nontraditional families.

Panelists include Guest of Honor Tamora Pierce, Gail Carriger, Stina Leicht, Rebecca Moesta, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Greg van Eekhout, and other fabulous authors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more.

(13) ALWAYS. From The Guardian: “Tesla driver killed while using autopilot was watching Harry Potter, witness says”

The Tesla driver killed in the first known fatal crash involving a self-driving car may have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the collision in Florida, according to a truck driver involved in the crash.

The truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, told the Associated Press that the Tesla driver Joshua Brown, 40, was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” during the collision and was driving so fast that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him”.

The disclosure raises further questions about the 7 May crash in Williston, Florida, which occurred after Brown put his Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is able to control a car while it’s driving on the highway.

The fatal crash, which federal highway safety regulators are now investigating, is a significant setback and a public relations disaster for the growing autonomous vehicle industry.

(14) FAILED PREDICTIONS ABOUT REAL TECHNOLOGIES. The BBC ginned up a five-things article about transportation technologies that never became centerpieces of a glorious future.

WITH EVERY JULES VERNE NOVEL, James Bond film or World’s Fair came new, fantastical ways of getting around. They packed our near-future with science-fiction promises: walkways that did the walking for us, pod cars built for one, jet-powered backpacks that let humans fly. Today, although these things exist, they’re hardly commonplace. Why did these transportation moonshots fall by the wayside, and short of their pledges to revolutionise the world? ….


Then: There is likely no discarded transportation relic that sums up the past’s vision of the future better than the monorail. Inventors had been toying with the idea of an elevated, single rail line since the 1800s, and by 1956, Houston, Texas saw the first trial run of a monorail in the US, in all its shiny, glass-fibre glory. The otherworldly, curvy carriages that zoomed high above the ground popped up piecemeal around the world in places like Japan, but the turn of the century’s rise of the automobile proved too much for the sky high train of tomorrow.

Now: Today, monorails are chiefly the chariots of airport terminals and amusement parks. Disney World in Florida has a monorail system that shuttles Mickey lovers from car park to theme park — including a line that runs directly through the soaring lobby of Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel.

(15) AVOIDING THE OBVIOUS ANSWER. They’re pretty sure Tunguska was a meteorite, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying these other interesting theories.

Some suggested the Tunguska event could have been the result of matter and antimatter colliding. When this happens, the particles annihilate and emit intense bursts of energy.

Another proposal was that a nuclear explosion caused the blast. An even more outlandish suggestion was that an alien spaceship crashed at the site on its search for the fresh water of Lake Baikal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Spider Robinson, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Lisa Goldstein, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

68 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/7/16 Where the Filed Things Are

  1. (9) ABSTAIN — It was nice that there was a lot more material to form an opinion on this year’s nominees in the editor categories.

    In best editor, short form, Pournelle came in dead last for me. I assumed that the stories from There Will Be War nominated this year were representative (or the highlights) of the collection overall, and without exception, I found them terrible. At their best, they read like novelizations of 8-bit video games, and at their worst, they featured some truly vile material.

    Pournelle deserves a Hugo for this about as much as he deserves a Turing Award for his Chaos Manor columns.

  2. @microtherion

    Pournelle deserves a Hugo for this about as much as he deserves a Turing Award for his Chaos Manor columns.

    I know, right? Stack There Will Be War up against all the wonderful stories from Clarkesworld last year….there’s no contest.

  3. (1-2) Well, Pegg’s too cute, smug, arch, and self-satisfied by half in his response, and as someone in the comments pointed out “so why didn’t he make himself/Scotty gay, eh?” But he eventually got to the heart of it and said what most of us thought: nuTrek has changed so damn much from TOS that making nuSulu gay instead of straight is a very very small change indeed. Compared to blowing up Vulcan, it’s peanuts. Edit: Or, y’know, what Laura Resnick said, much gooder than me.

    (9) That woman’s just been completely beaten down and demoralized. I’d feel sorry for her, but she’s a Puppy. Lie down with Puppies, get up with depression.
    (Unless she has actual clinical depression and ran out of spoons, in which case self-care is much more important than adherence to a spent project. If she’s just bummed out, nope, no sympathy. She knew the job was dangerous when she took it.)

  4. 5) I still seem to be in the minority for liking “And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead” a whole lot. It’s definitely in my number 1 slot with “Folding Beijing” and “Obits” duking it out for number 2.

    Sure, the plot is predictable and the worldbuilding isn’t that great, but what really made “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead” work for me were the characters and their relationship. The swearing doesn’t bother me either (and indeed complaints about excessive swearing remind me of debates about swearing on German TV that were quaint even in the early 1980s) and besides it is appropriate for the character.

    8) This quote reminds me of the legend of the Seven Lazy Brothers (summed up here in the context of a Wikipedia article about an architectural interpretation of the legend), an alleged local folktale that was really penned by one Friedrich Wagenfeld in the mid 19th century.

    Now I wonder if Heinlein knew the story, since he had German ancestry.

  5. @Sean O’Hara
    I’d hoped the earlier interracial kiss of 1968 would involve Harry Belafonte (my Mom’s a huge fan), but alas, it was not to be.

    Though it’s interesting that in spite of popular legend, the Star Trek kiss was not the first interracial kiss on US television.

    BTW: Tony Stark being replaced by Riri Williams as Iron Man even made the culture pages of my local newspaper today. The reporter wondered whether they would continue to refer to her as Iron Man.

  6. @Cora, I join you in the minority (along with enough Nebula voters to make their shortlist), because I had And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead on my ballot. I liked the relationship too, but what I really admired was the kind of whacked out artistry that lets a character’s soft, gooey center ooze out through a wall of pretty much nonstop profanity. Anyone can do profanity and predictable plots, but not everyone can walk the high wire of characterization that is mostly interstitial to the story but still manages to make sense and seem pretty complete. Plus there’s a kind of percussiveness to the language that works for me.

    People who don’t like it just don’t like it and that’s fine (although I’m sure they’re wrong ;-)).

    I think Folding Beijing will ultimately be my second place choice, but I also quite liked Obits.

  7. Looks like Riri isn’t the only new Iron Man. Don’t think this particular character will work, but….

    I kinda like that Marvel’s doing some interesting stuff at the moment with their characters (when they’re not too busy with the whatever the latest Event is and it’s general stupidity). They’re putting up “legacy” or new characters, while still playing it safe and keeping their old/ normal characters around – ie, two Captain Americas, two Spider-men, multiple (3?) Spider-women Thor and Odinsson, Ms Marvel/ Captain Marvel, whatever the hell the core X-men are doing. Look forward to seeing how the Iron Men play out

  8. snowcrash, wait, Doctor Doom is a good guy now? (Getting your ass whupped by Squirrel Girl leads to reconsideration of one’s lifestyle choices, or something?) And, I gather, he’s had a facelift or something recently?

    I guess following what’s happening in comics I used to read by what I hear second or third or fourth hand from other people’s mentions isn’t the most efficient method….

  9. @Bruce

    Near as I can follow, something happened with Doom after the end of the Secret War event last year, and that resulted in a rethink of his life choices.

    He also looks a little different now. (This is another thing Marvel’s going for in a big way now – major changes to characters that “will be explained later” – ie Doom, Cyclops, Thor Odinsson current situations)

  10. @Cheryl
    So now we’re a minority of two (plus Nebula voters/nominators).

    I agree, I also loved how Rhye’s vulnerability and her soft gooey centre was visible through all the profanity and tough facade. I also enjoyed how Rack loves her anyway, even though Rhye isn’t the easiest person to love. So yeah, the characters and their relationship make this one.

  11. I’d hoped the earlier interracial kiss of 1968 would involve Harry Belafonte (my Mom’s a huge fan), but alas, it was not to be.

    Well it’s not Belafonte, but there is an earlier example with Nancy Sinatra kissing Sammy Davis, Jr.

    Though it’s interesting that in spite of popular legend, the Star Trek kiss was not the first interracial kiss on US television.

    There are a number of Trek fans dedicated to demythologizing the series, and this myth in particular has been subject to a lot of research. Nobody’s been able to track down any contemporaneous references to the kiss being groundbreaking. The earliest references come from Roddenberry around the time The Motion Picture came out.

    Sadly Nichelle Nichol’s story about Martin Luther King probably falls in the same category. A number of old school fans say the story has evolved over the years, with the original version just being her thinking to herself, “What would Dr. King do?” and then becoming a phone call, and then a personal meeting. But since the early versions were told at conventions, nobody’s been able to find a recording. Supposedly there’s a PBS special from the ’70s with the original story, but nobody’s been able to convince PBS to dig the tape out of storage. Mainly there’s just circumstantial evidence — in interviews from the ’70s where she discusses Star Trek and race, she doesn’t mention MLK.

  12. What Laura said, and

    I kind of think its funny when the professionals play with their toys and get it all wrong, when the fans have been getting it right for years.

    JJA – your “alternate reality” sucks.

  13. Sean O’Hara: Imagine, a Hollywood actress embellishing her biography!

  14. I’m still not sure where I sit on the Takei/Sulu/Pegg/Roddenberry/Beyond/Legacy/50th anniversary thing.

    I tend towards George’s view, but George isn’t the writer/creator/director whatever for the abomination that is now being referred to as NuTrek. If those who do have those positions want to take the property in new directions, ones that they believe are positive ones, then they ought to be free to do so.

    On the other hand, between this and the Axanar stuff, I’m seeing what one might call a clash of generations. Those who were around for the original (and still the greatest) Star Trek:TOS, are now watching a younger generation taking that vision and screwing it up. It may have to be screwed up in order to have commercial appeal for younger audiences…maybe…(or maybe that’s just a belief system on the part of the bean counters). Other than Roddenberry himself, his wife Majel, who other than the actors and writers would have the best grasp on what Trek is, is about and should be?
    So I think I’m eventually going to come down on George’s side of the argument. Pegg’s script writing decision was a ham-handed effort at trying to do the right thing, supported, probably, by a bunch of other johnny-come-clueless-latelies who are destroying the wonderful thing they’ve been allowed to play with, out of the best of intentions.

  15. @Steve Davidson

    Those who were around for the original (and still the greatest) Star Trek:TOS, are now watching a younger generation taking that vision and screwing it up.

    TOS = The Only Series…..amiright? **chuckle**


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