Pixel Scroll 8/18/22 I’ve Been Scrolling On The Fileroad, All The Pixelled Day

(1) TOLKIEN MANUSCRIPT EXHIBIT. [Item by Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey.] “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” opens August 19 in Milwaukee, with material not just from Marquette University’s collection but items on loan from England which will probably not be seen again in North America in our lifetimes. The exhibit runs through December 23. Ticket information here.

Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries and the Haggerty Museum of Art collaboratively present this exhibition focused on the work of celebrated author and artist J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), best known for his literary classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The exhibition considers Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that Tolkien studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his collected writings on Middle-earth. Professor Tolkien was deeply immersed in the complexities of manuscripts, and this exhibition will illustrate how different aspects of the manuscript tradition found expression within Tolkien’s scholarly life and in his creative writing. Founded on Marquette’s J.R.R. Tolkien Collection, the exhibition also includes items borrowed from other repositories, including a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. Many of the 147 items in the exhibition have not previously been exhibited or published. 

(2) CROWDFUNDING FOR DE LINT AND HARRIS. Charles de Lint had to step down as Chicon 8 GoH last fall after his wife contracted a severe illness. And for reasons explained below, a family friend now has launched a “Fundraiser for Charles de Lint” on Gofundme. (De Lint has also opened a Patreon: “Charles de Lint is creating stories, music, art”.)

MaryAnn Harris has been in the hospital since September 6, 2021. She is recovering from Powassan virus, an extremely rare tick-bourne illness, but is still dependent on a ventilator to breathe, and paralyzed except for a toe. In order to make a full recovery and go home (which her doctor believes is possible), she needs significantly more therapy than the Canadian healthcare system can provide. In addition, due to the severity and long term nature of her condition, Charles & MaryAnn will start being assessed a co-pay for MaryAnn’s room and board that could be as high as $4k per month, an impossible figure at this time. Charles & MaryAnn have spent their lives reaching out to all of us through words and music and conversation and acts of kindness, through their creativity and heart, their generous spirits, and their dedication to putting light out into the world. Together we can help build the resources needed to help MaryAnn make a full recovery and to bring her home. Thank you.

(3) DREAM INTERRUPTED. Suffering a heartbreaking disappointment, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was denied a visa to attend Chicon 8. His appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Lagos was this morning, and he now has distilled his Twitter thread about what happened into a Facebook post. (See also File 770’s post and the comments: “US Embassy in Nigeria Denies Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Visa Application; Won’t Get to Attend Worldcon”.)

… If I had been considered & denied I wouldn’t even have worried as much. But I don’t feel I was even considered at all. It didn’t look like. Despite all I did (seperate from being ultra excellent at what I do.

After I undertook to attend the Hugo, I did a GoFundMe drive ran for me by Jason Sanford l. We raised over $7000 in a day. I started trying to get a visa interview appointment. Nigerians reading this know how nerve wracking that is.

This was in June. Btw then and August, like 2 months, I got an interview date. I battered my soul to pieces for that. Nigerians understand. Immigration firm I went to refused to talk to me. Said no one was going to US from Nigeria now cuz no dates. Everyone said it was impossible. But I got it.

That’s how many layers of impossible I have had to beat. How many miracles. But this is Nigeria. Everything needs a miracle. The most basic ish. Miracle after miracle till you are one short….

(4) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 64 of the Octothorpe podcast, “John Coxon is crying, Alison Scott is lounging, and Liz Batty is crocheting. We go through our entire Hugo Award ballots in 30% the time it took us to go through one category, before talking about our schedules for Chicon 8 and then doing some picks.”

Listen here — “Best Commemorative Plate”.

(5) OCTOPUS. Nautilus takes readers down “Another Path to Intelligence”, with help along the way from Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of Children of Time.

It turns out there are many ways of “doing” intelligence, and this is evident even in the apes and monkeys who perch close to us on the evolutionary tree. This awareness takes on a whole new character when we think about those non-human intelligences which are very different to us. Because there are other highly evolved, intelligent, and boisterous creatures on this planet that are so distant and so different from us that researchers consider them to be the closest things to aliens we have ever encountered: cephalopods.

Cephalopods—the family of creatures which contains octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish—are one of nature’s most intriguing creations. They are all soft-­bodied, containing no skeleton, only a hardened beak. They are aquatic, although they can survive for some time in the air; some are even capable of short flight, propelled by the same jets of water that move them through the ocean. They do strange things with their limbs. And they are highly intelligent, easily the most intel­ligent of the invertebrates, by any measure.

… Perhaps one of the fullest expressions of this difference is to be found, not in the work of scientists, but in a novel. In his book Children of Time, science-fiction writer Adrien Tchaikovsky conceptualizes octopus intelligence as a kind of multi­threaded processing system. For the space­faring octopuses in Children of Time, their awareness—their consciousness—is tripartite. Their higher functions, which Tchaikovsky calls the “crown,” are embedded in their head-­brain, but their “reach,” the “arm­-driven undermind,” is capable of solving prob­lems independently—sourcing food, opening locks, fighting, or fleeing from danger. Meanwhile, a third mode of thinking and communicat­ing, the “guise,” controls the strobing and spotting of the octopuses’ “skin, ‘the chalkboard of the brain,’” where it doodles its thoughts from moment to moment. In this way, the octopuses freewheel through space, constructing ships, habitats, and whole societies which owe as much to bursts of emotion, flights of fancy, acts of curiosity and bore­dom, as they do to conscious intent. Tchaikovsky’s octopuses are lively, frantic, bored, creative, distracted, and poetic—all at the same time: a product of the constant dialogue and conflict within their own nervous systems. As Tchaikovsky tells it, octopuses are multiple intel­ligences in singular bodies….

(6) AND THEN THERE ARE VIRTUAL TENTACLES. Steve Davidson contemplates “The Coming Death of Commercialized Art” at the hands (figuratively speaking) of artificial intelligence in a post for Amazing Stories.

…Eventually, things will sort themselves out (if global warming doesn’t get us first) and commercial art will become the province of AI programs:  Need some paintings for your hotel lobby?  An AI will no doubt already have tens of thousands of possibilities available at relatively low cost (maybe large corporations will simply buy an art-enabled AI outright, for ALL of their commercial art needs – report covers, company retreat t-shirt designs, product illustrations, etc.).  Amazon will no doubt be the first to offer “get the story you want to read” services…completely custom fiction (written in the style of – and boy, won’t that “style copyfight” be an interesting one);  franchises will become perpetual, versions can be offered for different reading ages, the saga need never end….

Human beings will NOT be able to compete effectively in those environments.  They need food and water and shelter, sleep, physical exercise and can’t memorize the writing styles or painting styles of any artist or author who ever produced something.

We’re not talking about the “death of artistic expression”, but we are almost certainly talking about the death of the midlist author and the commercial graphic artist….

(7) CALL IT A FANACALENDAR. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of Project 1946 at Chicon 8 tracks “A Year in Fandom: 1946” practically day-by-day.

What was it like to be a science fiction fan in 1946?

There was a lot of new material to read. With the end of the war, Science fiction and fantasy pulps had proliferated. Classics genre novels from pulps of prior years were issued in book form. Just keeping up was a challenge.

Fan activity was also resurgent. The club scene remained most active in Los Angeles and New York, but fans from other corners also made their voices heard. Several clubs formed prior to the war resumed meeting in 1946, often attracting a mix of old and new members.

The timeline presented here is drawn from a variety of sources. Primary among them is Joe Kennedy’s 1946-1947 Fantasy Review, the second in his series of yearbooks covering the field. Eleven pages were dedicated to the doings of fans….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1950 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-two years ago on this date, Destination Moon, produced by George Pal and an uncredited Walter Lantz premiered in the United Kingdom. 

It was directed by Irving Pichel from the screenplay by Alford Van Ronkel and Robert A. Heinlein and James O’Hanlon. It’s based off Robert A. Heinlein‘s Rocketship Galileo novel. 

It starred John Archer, Warner Anderson, Erin O’Brien-Moore, Tom Powers and Dick Wesson. 

Mainstream critics were mixed with a Bob Thomas of the Associated Press saying, “Destination Moon is good hocus-pocus stuff about interplanetary travel.” Asimov meanwhile not surprisingly said in In Memory Yet Green that it was “the first intelligent science-fiction movie made.”  

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 48% rating. It however did rather well at the box office returning ten times its half million-dollar production budget. 

It would be voted a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Millennium Philcon. 

It is not in the public domain, but the trailers are and here is one for you.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 18, 1925 Brian Aldiss. I’ll single out his Helliconia series, Hothouse and The Malacia Tapestry as my favorites. He won a Hugo at Chicon III for “The Long Afternoon of The Earth”, another at Conspiracy ’87 for Trillion Year Spree which he co-authored with David Wingrove. He’s edited far too many collections to know which one to single out, but I’m sure that the collective wisdom here can make recommendations. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 18, 1929 Joan Taylor. Her first genre role was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers as Carol Marvin, and she followed that with 20 Million Miles to Earth as Marisa Leonardo. Her last genre role was as Carol Gordon in Men into Space, a late Fifties series about a USAF attempt to explore and develop outer space. She retired from acting in the early Sixties. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 18, 1932 Grant Williams. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Scott Carey in The Incredible Shrinking Man though he will have the role of the psychopathic killer in Robert Bloch’s The Couch. Of course, he shows in Outer Limits, he plays Major Douglas McKinnon in “The Brain of Colonel Barham”.  And he’s Major Kurt Mason in The Doomsday Machine. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 18, 1934 Michael de Larrabeiti. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy which is noted by several sources online as being an influence by writers in the New Weird movement. Ok folks, I’ve not read so please explain how The Borrible Trilogy influences that literary movement. And while you’re at it, explain what the New Weird movement was as I never quite did figure that out. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 18, 1954 Russell Blackford, 68. Writer resident in Australia for awhile but now in Wales. Author of Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles, and editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he wrote Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction. And he wrote Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics.
  • Born August 18, 1958 Madeleine Stowe, 64. She’s in the Twelve Monkeys film as Kathryn Railly, and she’s in the Twelve Monkeys series as Lillian in the “Memory of Tomorrow” episode. Her only other genre work was a one-off in The Amazing Spider-Man which ran for thirteen episodes nearly forty years ago. She was Maria Calderon in “Escort to Danger” in that series, and she also played Mia Olham in Impostor which was scripted off Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor” story.
  • Born August 18, 1966 Alison Goodman, 56. Australian writer who’s won three Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Speculative Fiction for Singing the Dogstar BluesThe Two Pearls of Wisdom and Lady Helen and the Dark Days PactThe Two Pearls of Wisdom was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 
  • Born August 18, 1967 Brian Michael Bendis, 55. He’s both writer and artist, a still uncommon occurrence. Did you know he’s garnered five Eisner Awards for both his creator-owned work and Marvel Comics? Very impressive! He’s the primary force behind the creation of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, launching Ultimate Spider-Man which is an amazing series which I read on the Marvel Unlimited app. 

(10) COMIC SECTION.

  • Ordinarily, I wouldn’t expect to hear a character in Funky Winkerbean holding forth about psychohistory.

(11) PUBLIC SERVICE MESSAGE. N. K. Jemisin tweeted a reminder.

(12) SOYLENT GREEN IS BALONEY! This being the year in which the movie is hypothetically set, Slate’s Andrew Maynard could not resist pointing out “Why Soylent Green got 2022 so wrong”.

All of this may have remained as a footnote in the annals of dystopian 1970’s sci-fi movies, were it not for the fact that Soylent Green was set in a year we’re all very familiar with: 2022. Predictably, there’s been a flurry of journalistic interest this year in what was predicted back in 1973, and how it compares to where we are now. The good news is that we haven’t yet resorted to eating people (although based on recent trends in fiction we may be closer than we think!). But this isn’t the only thing that the film gets wrong.

Despite being underpinned by very real issues, the extrapolated future that Soylent Green portrays is deeply out of step with present-day reality. Overpopulation is not the issue it was perceived to be in the 1970s—rather, the prospect of static and declining populations is now raising concerns. The productivity of agricultural systems has been vastly extended through technologies ranging from high yield crops and advances in irrigation techniques, to innovations in agrochemicals and genetic engineering. And rather than the dystopic single-noted social, political, and culinary narratives portrayed in the film, many—including me—would argue that the world we live in has never been more diverse and full of potential (even if some of us do have a tendency to reject this in favor of our own manufactured monotoned bubbles)….

(13) DOES THIS RING TRUE FOR YOU? Here’s a compilation of anecdotes in support of Tolkien’s reputation as a funny guy: “JRR Tolkien: academic, philologist – and prankster extraordinaire”.

…Humphrey Carpenter put it well in his authorised biography of Tolkien: “He could laugh at anybody, but most of all at himself, and his complete lack of any sense of dignity could and often did make him behave like a riotous schoolboy.” He catalogues incidents where Tolkien dressed up as a polar bear in sheepskin rug, as an Anglo-Saxon axeman (he chased a neighbour down the street), and gave shopkeepers his false teeth in a handful of change.

But it was the late Hugh Brogan, eminent professor of history at the University of East Anglia, who showed me the lengths Tolkien would go to in his quest for a laugh. As a child, Brogan lived in a late Regency house with a tall, elegant, winding staircase. Tolkien, visiting the family, “went up to the first-floor landing and fell all the way down quite spectacularly – about a dozen steps, I guess – arms and legs splaying about in all directions, and an immense clatter. We were literally breathtaken.” The elderly Brogan regretted that he couldn’t remember for sure whether Tolkien gave an encore….

(14) HEAVY METAL NEWS. [Item by Dann.] Heavy Metal Entertainment is taking another plunge into the video market. Its studio division, Heavy Metal Studios, will produce live-action video content from Heavy Metal’s library of properties. (TaarnaCold Dead War, Dark Wing, Arena Mode, etc.)

A sizzle reel accompanied the announcement at this year’s San Diego Comic-Contm. Curiously, the sizzle reel includes snippets from movies that have already been released. (I swore that the rhinos came from Jumanji. There were others.)

“Just as Heavy Metal Magazine changed the way the world looked at comic books, and how the ‘81 animated film Heavy Metal changed animation forever, Heavy Metal Studios is about to take the reins on live action content and push it far past its current stagnation and into new heights. Things will never be the same again, again,” said Tommy Coriale, Heavy Metal’s President and Head of Studio.

(15) JUMP ABOARD. Marc Scott Zicree is “Riding Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Carousel!”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Games Trailers:  Madison,” Fandom Games says “Madison,” even though it appears to be named after a really annoying Valley Girl, delivers an oldschool horror experience:  so old-school messages come on cassette tapes and clues come from snapping Polaroids. But can you take enough Polaroids to find the ghosts?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Bonnie McDaniel, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John Coxon, Dann, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]

25 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/18/22 I’ve Been Scrolling On The Fileroad, All The Pixelled Day

  1. (8)

    Asimov meanwhile not surprisingly said in In Memory Yet Green that it was “the first intelligent science-fiction movie made.”

    Though as I recall Asimov was incensed about the comic relief New Yorker with the inauthentic accent in the movie.

  2. 12: Disagree. This planet is vastly overpopulated. The food situation is not good for a lot of the world (the industrialized world is a fraction of that population), and esp. with climate change, including drought and flood, with the overfishing of the seas… The food situation is unsustainable. So are the energy requirements… and at least half or two-thirds of the population of the planet would like electricity at least 20 hours a day, thank you.

    The real problem with finally shrinking populations is capitalism, esp. the end-stage that we’re in, which requires continually increasing markets.

    On the other hand…. https://soylent.com/collections/all-drinks/complete-meal and yes, they do have Soylent Green….

  3. (15) Coincidentally, I showed my younger daughter (age 24) “Walking Distance” last night. Until then she’d only seen intact two episodes, “Time Enough at Last” (as part of a high-school class) and “To Serve Man”. She’d had no idea the show had ever presented a story that was elegiac.

  4. RE #12, I agree with Mark.

    I’ve done my part, and never had kids. Lower population = less strain on resources.

    I’d also like to say that there was a study of unsustainable growth in rat populations. In a confined space, they let rats breed with no controls. The rats ended up killing each other. I never thought men were so much like rats!

    As an aside, on the issue of freedom of speech, a Texas school library banned books that met certain guidelines regarding sex, violence, and gay/trans/alphabet soup subjects. It turns out the Bible met the criteria, and was pulled, as well. Isn’t THAT a shining example of “what goes around, comes around?”

  5. 9) Favorite Aldiss anthologies for me are easily the two volumes of Galactic Empires, which had some great stuff, including R.A. Lafferty’s Been a Long, Long Time and Alfred Coppel’s Rebel of Valkyr.

  6. @Colin Kuskie; Galaxy, December 1951

    Destination Moon is, however, available for download at Archive.org in at least quasi-legal form.

    (If a website claims to enforce copyright laws, and to remove illegal content, then any content they do make available must be legal, right? Especially if that content persists for years.) (Yes, this is a comment on Archive’s loosey-goosey interpretation of IP laws.)

  7. @Joe H

    I’d forgotten about those – definitely some great stuff. You can’t beat Rebel of Valkyr for sheer pulp energy.

    I seem to remember Evil Earths, in the same series, wasn’t bad. And I think there may have been one other, unless the two volumes of Galactic Empires are confusing me?

  8. #12 — Fun Fact™… Harry Harrison’s 1966 novel, “Make Room, Make Room” (the basis for Soylent Green) was set in 1999, with the ending chapter taking place on New Year’s Eve in a very crowded Times Square as the year 2000 came about.

    At the end of the novel, the United States had a population of 344 million.

    Currently, the U.S. stands at 329 million. Not quite there yet…

  9. There’s no solution to overpopulation that isn’t eugenics or genocide, and most “the world is overpopulated” discussions blame the developing countries because of their higher birth rate when the problems blatantly come from developed countries with low birth rate but very high pollution rates and waste.

    Tread very carefully if you want to discuss population trends as an issue.

  10. (5) Non-fiction: Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. An amazing and wonderful book by a scuba-diving philosopher.

  11. @mark

    The real problem with finally shrinking populations is capitalism, esp. the end-stage that we’re in, which requires continually increasing markets.

    Is there another economic system which would work better? There aren’t any that have been more successful in providing food on a large scale than capitalism.

    @Carl

    As an aside, on the issue of freedom of speech, a Texas school library banned books that met certain guidelines regarding sex, violence, and gay/trans/alphabet soup subjects. It turns out the Bible met the criteria, and was pulled, as well. Isn’t THAT a shining example of “what goes around, comes around?”

    This is such a poor statement of events.
    Last school year, the Bible was one of a number of books challenged by parents as inappropriate for school use in the Keller, Texas school district. Three weeks after it was challenged, the parent withdrew the challenge — it was never banned.

    The only reasons to remove books are that they are “pervasively vulgar” or are inappropriate for instruction — sexual, gay, and violent content in and of themselves are not sufficient to remove the books. A number of last year’s challenged books survived the challenge despite having such content.

    This year, the Keller ISD instituted new challenge review polices in response to new Texas laws and a model policy from the Texas Education Agency for how districts should deal with challenges. As part of how that policy is implemented, last year’s challenged books are undergoing a pro forma review. The Bible survived last year’s challenge, and the district Superintendent has said that he expects it to be quickly re-reviewed and put back on library shelves. In the meantime, it is being held (along with all of the other challenged books) in a “Parental Consent Area”, where it may be accessed by students with their parent’s consent. Again, not a ban.

    Note that the Keller ISD recognizes the First Amendment rights of students during the review procedure in the checklist used by the reviewers.

  12. 3.) This whole situation is abhorrent and appalling. I keep hoping that someone, SOMEWHERE, has a connection that will rectify this situation. If not, then damn it, we need to figure a way around these limitations. I’m not usually a DO SOMETHING table-pounder, but in this case…DO SOMETHING.

    13.) In light of this account, it’s pretty clear that the party invitation for Christopher Tolkien’s coming-of-age that’s circulating around Facebook/Twitter is pretty much legit. Not surprising–I’ve read some things that have suggested all along that JRRT had a strong fun-loving side.

    Population issues–yow. That is such a fricking minefield. That said, I will note that there is a strong correlation between improved health care access (including reproductive management, i.e. birth control) and reduced family sizes.

    Most of “the world is overpopulated” arguments and the “rewilding” arguments have significant if not closely examined problems that are…somewhat biased toward certain colonial perspectives. The definition of “wilderness” in the US is firmly based on a European colonial mentality that the only human presence that matters is of European descent, and ignores the reality that there were people living there before Europeans showed up.

    (Don’t get me started on people who think all big trees=old growth!)

  13. @Sophie Jane — Yes, there were two others in that set — Evil Earths and Perilous Planets. (Which I never read because the public library didn’t have them when I was growing up; although I do have copies sitting unread on my shelves. Someday.) Love the covers of the Avon paperbacks from the 70s.

    And there was another, unrelated, anthology he edited called Space Opera that I also used to check out from the library and read, and which had some great stuff in it. (And it had a companion volume called Space Odysseys that I also never encountered back then, but I also have sitting unread on my shelf now.)

  14. @Joe H

    Perilous Planets, of course! Space Opera was mostly extracts of longer works, iirc, and didn’t work very well for me. And while I think I read Space Odysseys – possibly I even had a copy – I don’t remember anything about it

    Aldiss also edited the Penguin Science Fiction anthologies which I remember as a bit stolid but creditable. They were what got my mother into reading SF, resulting in shelves full of paperbacks that I used to browse when I was a kid, and my own interest in SF

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