Pixel Scroll 7/7/17 Oh I Get Scrolled With A Little Help From My Friends

(1) BY KLONO’S BRAZEN BALLS. I remember how 30s space opera authors invented colorful gods for characters to swear by. Taking advantage of today’s freer speech, Book View Café’s Marie Brennan advises writers to give characters language to swear with: “New Worlds: Gestures of Contempt”.

In fiction, you can sell just about anything as contemptuous so long as the characters react to it appropriately. You can give it a cultural underpinning if you want; the story about longbows and the V-sign may not be true in reality, but in a story something along those lines could be a great touch of historical depth. In many cases, though, trying to explain why the gesture is offensive would probably turn into an unnecessary infodump. Instead it can just be like the line from Shakespeare: “Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?” We don’t need to know why biting the thumb is an insult for it to work in the scene. We just need to know whether this is a mild way of saying “screw you” or something to fight a duel over, whether it’s just vulgar or a sign that the other person is placing a curse. The intent and the reaction will tell us all that’s necessary.

(2) JOANN KAISER. The GoFundMe for JoAnn Kaiser has blown past its goal and has raised over $14,000 as of today. She is the widow of fan and bookdealer Dwain Kaiser, who was killed earlier this week.

(3) SMALL PRESS. The Washington Posts’s Michael Dirda says “These small presses can help you think big about summer reading”. He plugs the Haffner Press, and gives a shout-out to Darrell Schweitzer (even using his book cover as art.)

Haffner Press . If you have any interest in pulp fiction, this is the publisher for you. Stephen Haffner issues substantial hardback volumes devoted to the magazine stories of Edmond Hamilton (creator of Captain Future); the crime fiction of Fredric Brown; the early work of Leigh Brackett (whose later credits include the screenplay for “The Empire Strikes Back”); and the occult detective stories of Manly Wade Wellman. One recent title, “The Watcher at the Door,” is the second volume in an ongoing series devoted to the weird tales of the versatile Henry Kuttner. Its foreword is by Robert A. Madle, a Rockville, Md., book and magazine dealer, who may be the oldest living person to have attended the first World Science Fiction Convention, held in 1939…..

Wildside Press . While its books aren’t fancy, this Washington-area publisher maintains an enormous backlist of classic, contemporary and off-trail works of fantasy, science fiction, adventure and horror. Wildside also issues new works of criticism focused on these genres, most recently Darrell Schweitzer’s “The Threshold of Forever.” In these easygoing and astute essays, Schweitzer reflects on the comic side of Robert Bloch (best known for his novel “Psycho”), Randall Garrett’s “The Queen Bee,” often regarded as the most sexist short story in the history of science fiction, and the work of idiosyncratic horror writers such as James Hogg, William Beckford and Sarban.

(4) OH NOES. Gizmodo fears “Mars Might Not Be The Potato Utopia We Hoped”.

In Andy Weir’s novel-turned-Matt-Damon-movie The Martian, the protagonist endures the harsh terrain of Mars by using his own shit to grow potatoes. The idea isn’t that outlandish—over the last few years, a NASA-backed project has been attempting to simulate Martian potato farming by growing taters in the Peruvian desert. While early results were promising, new research suggests that survival of any life on Mars—much less potato-growing humans—might be more difficult than we thought. I blame Matt Damon.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh tested how the bacteria Bacillus subtilis would react to perchlorates, which were first discovered in Martian soil back in 2008. Perchlorates are naturally-occurring (and sometimes, man-made) chemicals that are toxic to humans, but they’re not always so bad for microbes. In fact, in the Atacama Desert in Chile, some microbes use perchlorates in the soil as an energy source. On Mars, perchlorates allow water to exist in a briny liquid form despite the planet’s low atmospheric pressure.

However, when the researchers put B. subtilis in a bath of magnesium perchlorate solution similar to the concentrations found on Mars, and exposed the microbes to similar levels of UV radiation, the bacteria died within 30 seconds.

(5) WAFFLE TEST PATTERN. Scott Edelman invites the internet to chow down on chicken and waffles with Nancy Holder in Episode 42 of Eating the Fantastic. The encounter was recorded during StokerCon weekend.

Luckily, my guest this episode was not a skeptic, and enthusiastically accompanied me for the greasy goodness. Five-time Bram Stoker Award winning-writer Nancy Holder had been the Toastmaster during the previous night’s ceremony, is the author of the young adult horror series Possessions, and has written many tie-in works set in such universes as Teen Wolf, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AngelSmallville, and Wonder Woman.

We discussed her somewhat secret origin as a romance novelist, why her first horror convention made her burst into tears, how she got off on the wrong foot with acclaimed editor Charles L. Grant, what caused her Edgar Allan Poe obsession to begin, why she was a fan of DC Comics instead of Marvel as a kid, what Ed Bryant might have meant when he called her “the first splatterpunk to chew with her mouth closed,” and more.

(6) HAWKEYE BOO-BOO. Actor “Jeremy Renner Broke Both Arms in Stunt Accident on Set of ‘Tag'”.

Jeremy Renner has broken both his arms in a stunt that went wrong while filming, the actor, who is currently working on Avengers: Infinity War, said Friday.

Speaking before a Karlovy Vary film festival screening of Taylor Sheridan‘s Wind River, in which Renner plays a federal wildlife officer drafted to help solve a murder on a Native American reservation in Wyoming, Renner said the injuries would not affect his ability to do his job.

“It won’t stop things that I need to do. I heal fast and am doing everything I can to heal faster,” he said.

(7) MISSING IN ACTION. Massacres like this are usually reserved for Game of Thrones. Ben Lee of Digital Spy, in “Once Upon a Time season 7 adds five stars including this Poldark actor”, notes that season 7 of Once Upon a Time has started production and no less than seven members of the cast have been booted:  Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jack Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Emile de Raven, and Rebecca Mader.

(8) JOAN LEE OBIT. Deadline’s Patrick Hipes, in “Joan Lee Dies:  Wife of Comics Icon Was 93”,  notes her passing on July 4.  IMDB shows she had parts in X-Men Apocalypse and the TV versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Fantastic Four. She and Stan Lee had been married for 69 years.


Lon Chaney Jr. is the only actor to portray four major Universal Monsters; the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy (Kharis), and Count Dracula.


  • July 7, 1955 — The Science Fiction radio serial X Minus One aired “The Green Hills Of Earth.” As John King Tarpinian says, this probably wasn’t a coincidence.
  • July 7, 2006Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, an adventure film starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley


  • Born July 7, 1907 — Robert A. Heinlein

(12) MEDICAL NEWS. Spreading cancer caught on film.

The way in which every single cancer cell spreads around the body has been captured in videos by a team in Japan.

The normal body tissues show up as green, while the cancer comes out as intense red spots.

The team, at the University of Tokyo and the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center, says the technology will help explain the deadly process.

The research is on mice so far, but it is hoped the method could one day help with treatment too.

(13) NOT INCLUDED. Tesla to build the world’s largest battery.

The battery will protect South Australia from the kind of energy crisis which famously blacked out the state, Premier Jay Weatherill said.

Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed a much-publicised promise to build it within 100 days, or do it for free.

The 100-megawatt (129 megawatt hour) battery should be ready this year.

“There is certainly some risk, because this will be largest battery installation in the world by a significant margin,” Mr Musk said in Adelaide on Friday.

He added that “the next biggest battery in the world is 30 megawatts”.

The Tesla-built battery, paired with a Neoen wind farm, will operate around the clock and be capable of providing additional power during emergencies, the government said.

(14) HUGO REVIEWS. Natalie Luhrs shares her evaluations in “2017 Hugo Reading: Novelettes”.

I think the novelette finalists are a bit more of a mixed bag. Some of them I think are outstanding, one fell flat for me, and then there’s that other one. You know the one….

This is her review of one she rates as outstanding:

“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld)

This novelette opens with Avery getting a call offering her a job transporting an alien from the DC area to St. Louis. The aliens had appeared overnight, large domes across the country and until this one decided they wanted a tour of the country, what they wanted and their motives for coming to Earth were unclear. Their motives are still not very clear at the outset of the journey, but by the end–well.

The alien comes aboard the bus in crates and is accompanied by his human translator, Lionel. Each alien has a human translator, someone who was abducted as a child from a family that didn’t care for them, a child no one would miss (how horrible is that?) Avery starts driving and as they make their way across the US, she gets to know Lionel and through Lionel, the alien.

Avery’s a sympathetic narrator and she is genuinely curious about the aliens and willing to acquiesce to most of Lionel’s requests on the alien’s behalf. There is a lot about what it means to have consciousness—the aliens are not conscious—and what value, if any, that brings to existence. I found the ending to be both a surprise and quite endearing. Gilman is an easy prose stylist and Avery’s conversational and self-reflective voice is exactly what this story requires.

(15) ANOTHER TAKE. Speaking of “the one,” it’s given an actual review as part of Doris V. Sutherland’s “2017 Hugo Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex is, of course, the Rabid Puppy pick for Best Novelette. It is here as a result of Vox Day rather lazily repeating his prank from last year when he got Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion on the ballot as a dig at Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”

Some have dismissed Stix Hiscock (who, despite her masculine choice of pseudonym, is a woman) as a mere Chuck Tingle imitator. This would be unfair. After all, Chuck Tingle was not the first author to write weird dinosaur erotica, and Ms. Hiscock has as much right as he does to try her hand at the genre.

Taken on its own terms, Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex is a solid but undistinguished specimen of its kind….

(16) SUMMER TV. Glenn Garvin on reason.com reviews Salvation, an end-of-the-world show in the vein of When Worlds Collide coming to CBS starting on July 12: “Salvation Will Have You Hoping for the World’s End”.

He concludes that “Salvation strongly resembles recent congressional budget debates, punctuated by occasional kidnappings, car chases, and gunplay by an unidentified gang of thugs that want the world to end.”

(17) MORE THAN A MEMORY. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson, in “Review of The Mindwarpers by Eric Frank Russell”, revisits the work of someone once regarded as among sf’s more thought-provoking writers.

One of the interesting aspects of science fiction is that it is a form sometimes used to criticize science, or more precisely the application of science, rather than glorify it.  From Barry Malzberg to J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury to Pat Cadigan, Tom McCarthy to James Morrow—these and other writers in the field have in some way expressed a wariness at technological change and its impact, intended and unintended, on people and society.  The quantity of such fiction dropping since the days vast and quick technological change first threatened, change has almost become the norm.  Getting more outdated with each day, Eric Frank Russell’s 1965 The Mindwarpers is one such book.  Republished as an ebook in 2017 by Dover Publications, the message at its heart, however, transcends time.

(18) MANY A TRUTH IS SAID IN TWEET. Wax on. Wax off.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Isotype from Henning M. Lederer is a soothing kaleidoscope-type animation with music from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

79 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/7/17 Oh I Get Scrolled With A Little Help From My Friends

  1. Salvation is supposed to have characters who are a tech billionaire, MIT grad student, and aspiring SF writer. Given that I have a passing familiarity with real versions of those, I’m fully expecting my “No, that’s not right” buffer to overflow in the first 15 minutes of the show.

  2. (3) Might Madle be the last living person who attended the first Worldcon? I guess not, but how many of the guys are left? And where did he get to sit? 🙂

    (6) All his quotes seem to have been translated into another language and then back into English. I’m pretty sure Jeremy Renner doesn’t say “shall” and knows how to use contractions.

    (7) Glad I gave up on it a couple years ago.

    (16) Extremely not interested, even in the summer doldrums.

    (18) Hee.

  3. @James Davis Nicoll

    The EFR is part of this week’s incredible cavalcade of arcs

    For a second there, my eyes read “incredible calvary of orcs”…

  4. Salvation: “a Randian madman who believes the entire human race can be reconstituted from 160 survivors of the impending collision”

    Which is still 153 more than Seveneves started with.

  5. Jamoche: Which is still 153 more than Seveneves started with.

    Oh gods, now you’re going to get Doctor Science going again… 😉

  6. (1) I find that most of my swear words nowadays are Washington State place names. There’s just so many good sounding places that make for excellent interjections.

    (6) ouch.

    (13) I welcome the day when batteries can smooth the power grid enough to avoid outages. The tech just cannot develop fast enough for me.

    And lastly, I kind of want to see this incredible cavalry of orcs now. Or calvary. Whichever is funniest.

  7. If Seveneves had 7 (technically 8, I think) less I’d have liked it more as it’d have ended sooner 🙂

  8. Chris S: If Seveneves had 7 (technically 8, I think) less I’d have liked it more as it’d have ended sooner.


    Yeah, that was one book which would have benefited greatly from an editor with a chainsaw AND the fortitude of character to use it on a book written by the great Neal Stephenson. I gave it the “Let Us Pretend That This Abomination Never Existed, And Never Speak Of It Again Award” and ranked it below No Award on my ballot. 😀

  9. Spider film, spider film
    I just went to see a new spider film,
    Was it good? Listen bub.
    It didn’t recap the story of how he got radioactive blood.
    Watch out, its a quite good spider film

    Spider theme, spider theme,
    Movie starts with the spider theme,
    Yes, you know that classic song
    But without the words to sing along
    Watch out, earworm spider theme

    Keaton film, Keaton film,
    Not Buster but a Michael Keaton film,
    Ha, ha yes he’s Birdman again
    But with less acting angst and a bad guys den
    Watch out, its a Michael Keaton film

    Avengers films, Avengers films
    Continuity with all the Avengers films
    Lighthearted tone, not really dark,
    But too much cameo from Tony Stark
    Watch out, its a sort of Iron Man film

    Nerdy kids, nerdy kids
    Sympathetic portrayal of nerdy kids
    Do they play with Star Wars toys?
    Of course, they do (but just the boys)
    Watch out, even Flash Thompson is a nerdy kid

    Spiderman, Spiderman,
    Yet another film of Spiderman,
    Can this time they make it last?
    Maybe with this diverse cast,
    Watch out, an enjoyable Spiderman

  10. @David Langford: is Delany’s “Empire Star” not worth a mention, given that it has an actual theory of obscenity described in it? (This is where “bleb” comes from – “It’s what the girls at Miss Perrypicker’s Academy pick!“)

  11. @Camestros…thanks Bud, that was brilliant!

    Unfortunately, I will now watch that movie with your version of the song playing in my head and, no doubt will snicker involuntarily every time Downey shows up….

  12. I’ll add:
    New Aunt May, new Aunt May
    Played adeptly by Marisa Tomei
    Is she young, for the look?
    Not really, just ignore the comic book

    Thing was, yes, obviously, she isn’t the age of the Aunt May from the comic books but…how did that ever make much sense anyway? The character in the movie is a plausible age for the sister of one of Peter Parker’s parents, and it’s a good role and a great character in the film.

  13. @9: four monsters doesn’t seem like much for the man whose biopic was Man of a Thousand Faces — even assuming Hollywood’s usual exaggeration.

  14. Steve Wright on July 8, 2017 at 3:52 am said: (ticks off “overwork Langford” on his to-do list.)

    You fiend, you fiend! But can the F770 Group Mind help with another term of contempt that currently eludes my memory? It’s something like “fraki” in Citizen of the Galaxy, applied I think to humans in general, and a member of the alien race that uses it mentions that it was the name of some revolting creature which is now extinct so the term was “free to be bestowed again”. Or some similar wording.

  15. Met a fellow filer at my Convergence Panel last night. Hello BruceA!

    And dang, we didn’t realize on the panel last night that it was in fact Heinlein’s birthday…

  16. @David Langford: Very close, but not quite. It’s a human term used by the Traders about non-Traders. I think the part about extinct isn’t right. Let me thumb a book and be sure.

  17. Well, pee. I can’t find a copy of Citizen of the Galaxy, which means I need to assemble more bookshelves and shelve and unbox more books.

    But I’m sure it was a human Trader term of difference and/or contempt (depending on context and speaker) derived from an alien rat-like creature. Traders applied it to non-Traders of all species. It seemed most potent used against non-Trader humans. I’m almost but not quite certain the part about being extinct isn’t so.

  18. (tunnels through piles of books, muttering “I have a copy of Citizen of the Galaxy around here somewhere, I know I do, where the hell is it?”)

    (suddenly stops, overwhelmed by a vision of a satanically-laughing Langford ticking off “overwork Steve Wright” on his to-do list.)

  19. (7) MISSING IN ACTION. Once Upon a Time is one of those tv shows that every time I hear it mentioned, I realize that somewhere in the back of my head, I assumed it was cancelled years ago. It’s still on? My wife used to watch it devotedly but gave up around Season 3.

  20. @John A Arkansawyer No: I’m looking for a term like, i.e. resembling, “fraki” – but from a book other than Citizen of the Galaxy, which I know well enough. I can almost see the shape of the paragraph on the page but am failing to remember the book, which I repeat is not Citizen of the Galaxy.

  21. @David Langford: Ah! I wondered how you might not know that. And I had one of those “see the page but can’t read the text” moments yesterday myself.

  22. (1) Back in the wild and wooly days of alt.atheism, several of the uptight fundamentalists who plagued the group tried to claim that using common English exclamations like “Jesus Christ!” and “for the love of God!” meant we were really Christians.

    In response, I developed an entire range of exclamations and invective based around Rob Halford, frontman of Judas Priest, known to metalheads everywhere as the Metal God.

    So by Halford’s Shiny Head, I wish you all a good weekend!

  23. (1) not to forget “By Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged!”

  24. @Camestros Felapton

    Well my mother is 14 years older then her sister and if my aunt had had a child when she was 37 ,like my mother had me, mom would be at least 66 by the time they were in High school. Also Aunt May was always in poor health which can make a person look older then they are.

  25. (4) OH NOES

    Welp, I won’t be moving to Mars, then. A world without chips… *shudder*

  26. @ Chip Hitchcock,
    (9) refers to Chaney JR. The biopic Man of a Thousand Faces was the story of his dad, best known ’round these parts for the silent movie versions of Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

    As to playing “classic” monsters, surely Christopher Lee beats out Chaney,Jr. Lee played Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy, plus a pile of others —
    hmm — but maybe no Werewolf…?

  27. Take a look at the spaceman
    Beating up the bug eye
    Wonder if he’ll ever know
    The Campbell’s not a Hugo
    Are there chips on Mars?

  28. Magewolf on July 8, 2017 at 7:48 am said:
    @Camestros Felapton
    Well my mother is 14 years older then her sister and if my aunt had had a child when she was 37 ,like my mother had me, mom would be at least 66 by the time they were in High school. Also Aunt May was always in poor health which can make a person look older then they are.

    My dad was an unexpected late baby (1910, fourteen years younger than his youngest sister.).
    The oldest of his six sisters was born 1882.
    When I graduated from high school my youngest aunt was already in her seventies, and the rest of them older.
    Aunt May always looked perfectly reasonable to me.

  29. Did they ever actually canonically establish the relationship between Peter & Uncle Ben/Aunt May back in the day? Maybe she was actually a great aunt or something?

  30. My first boyfriend was in the same class as his uncle. My roommate’s little sister is 18 years younger than she is. Honestly, I always thought Aunt May and Uncle Ben were his great aunt and uncle. Being old and on fixed incomes was part of the reason that Peter is poor and overwhelmed with a sense of personal responsibility IIRC from the comics I read back in the early seventies, the last time I actually read the comic.

  31. 1) My personal profanisaurus is polluted with SciFi swears from Farscape int particular: frell, dren, yotz, mivonks, et al. Plus zarking fardwarks from Hitchhikers.

  32. (19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I could stare at this for hours…zzzzzz….

    @Camestros Felapton: Hahaha, that was wonderful! I’m looking forward to the movie, despite feeling like they really need to stop redoing origin stories goddammitplease.

    @John A Arkansawyer: Great comic; thanks for the link!

  33. Kendall says Hahaha, that was wonderful! I’m looking forward to the movie, despite feeling like they really need to stop redoing origin stories goddammitplease.

    The worst offender of this must be the live film makers at Warner who feel obligated to give us the Batman origin story over and over. In contrast the Warner Animated folks rarely do this preferring to think (correctly) that most watchers know that already.

    Oh and if you think Suicide Squad was a mess, do yourself a favor and watch the animate film Batman: Assault on Arkham which is far superior in every was to that film including Kevin Conroy doing his usual role.

  34. Cam! An earworm filk AND an actual review! You’ve outdone yourself.

    Marisa Tomei is certainly old enough to be a teenager’s aunt. IMDB says she’s 52 (!), meaning she was in her 30’s when Peter was born. She’s Zoe Kravitz’ godmother, and of course Tony hitting on her in the last Avengers movie is a nod to the fact that she and RDJ dated for several years.

    I know a guy who’s actually older than his uncle by a few years thanks to his dad’s remarrying and respawning.

    @David Langford: “Farscape” also had “dren” as a substitute for “shit”. All consonant-y. There were also some good words in the TV “Alien Nation” IIRC.

    I occasionally say “frack” and of course, as a trufan, “Ghu” is useful. I’d kinda like to bring back “Klono’s (metal) (anatomical part)” at least in fandom.

  35. Thing was, yes, obviously, she isn’t the age of the Aunt May from the comic books but…how did that ever make much sense anyway? The character in the movie is a plausible age for the sister of one of Peter Parker’s parents, and it’s a good role and a great character in the film.

    She’s not the sister of one of his parents — Uncle Ben was his father Richard’s older brother.

    It would have made sense for Ben and May to have been Peter’s grandparents, but considering that when Spider-Man was created, Peter would have been born in 1947, so Richard could have been born in 1917, we’re talking about a different era of family expectations. Ben could have been quite a bit older than Richard, and it would have been considered normal. And May wasn’t originally presented as ancient, but as sickly. So if she was, say, 15 years older than Richard, she’d have been 60 when Peter got his powers, but she’d have lived through a flu epidemic, two world wars and a depression before getting handed a kid to raise — she didn’t come through all that robust and healthy.

    The question I’d have is — what happened to all the siblings between Ben and Richard? It’d be unusual (not impossible, but unusual) for a family to go that long between kids.

    But then, kill a bunch of them off in the flu epidemic, kill a couple more in WWII, and that could cover it. And that’d be a story I’d like to see — it’d deepen Peter’s determination to try never to do anything to pile more grief on May, because of what she’d lived through.

    Of course, Marvel time makes that impossible — and movie-Peter is younger than comics-Peter, so he was born in 2002. As such, even if his father was 30 when he was born, that’d put him being born in 1972, so the Parker/Reilly families grew up in a time when fewer kids, closer together, and better medical care were a thing. So the frail, prematurely-elderly aunt who’s much older than the parents rings less true.

    But it’s not out of the question for the original story. And just as Ditko’s ideas of fashion and hairstyle were a throwback to the 1950s, Stan’s idea of family life among the Gentiles seems to have largely come from movies and radio plays of the 1930s and 1940s, when elderly aunts were stock characters.

  36. Meredith Moment: Today “Libriomancer” by Jim C. Hines is $1.99, as is “Galactic Empires”, an anthology edited by Neil Clarke, with lots of Big Names.

  37. movies and radio plays of the 1930s and 1940s, when elderly aunts were stock characters.
    I grew up knowing aunts and uncles who were in my grandparents’ generation, as well as those in my parent’s generation; one was one of my grandmother’s older sisters, and my brother was born on her 80th birthday. (My parents and grandparents did the same; it’s a little odd talking about an aunt or an uncle who could be in any one of three generations.) The age spread in my parents’ generation is enough (more than 20 years from one end to the other) that I have cousins aged from mid-70s to mid-40s, and the next generation is even more spread out in time.

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