Pixel Scroll 8/7/2023 Ow, My Scroll!

(1) STOP DRAGON THAT STUFF IN HERE. “Dungeons & Dragons tells illustrators to stop using AI to generate artwork” reports AP News.

The Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game franchise says it won’t allow artists to use artificial intelligence technology to draw its cast of sorcerers, druids and other characters and scenery.

D&D art is supposed to be fanciful. But at least one ax-wielding giant seemed too weird for some fans, leading them to take to social media to question if it was human-made.

Hasbro-owned D&D Beyond, which makes online tools and other companion content for the franchise, said it didn’t know until Saturday that an illustrator it has worked with for nearly a decade used AI to create commissioned artwork for an upcoming book. The franchise, run by the Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, said in a statement that it has talked to that artist and is clarifying its rules.

“He will not use AI for Wizards’ work moving forward,” said a post from D&D Beyond’s account on X, formerly Twitter. “We are revising our process and updating our artist guidelines to make clear that artists must refrain from using AI art generation as part of their art creation process for developing D&D.”…

(2) WALK RIGHT IN, FALL RIGHT DOWN. Cora Buhlert’s new Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre story is “The Uninvited Guest”.

Zodac has always been one of the strangest Masters of the Universe characters. He was there from the very beginning, one of the first eight figures to come out in 1982. Zodac bears a lot of similarities to Metron from Jack Kirby’s New Gods, but then the early Masters of the Universe designs were partly inspired by Jack Kirby’s Fourth Worldbecause Mattel was apparently working on a Fourth World toyline in the late 1970s that never went into production, so a lot of ideas were reused for Masters of the Universe….

(3) TUBE VERSUS TOK. No matter what you may have read — like in yesterday’s Scroll — the Guardian says a “Report finds YouTube more popular than TikTok for young book buyers”. (But wait, it was the Guardian’s own article about BookTok we linked to!)

YouTube trumps TikTok as the most popular online platform for young people to discover new books, according to a report by Nielsen BookData.

Nielsen, which provides data for the Bookseller’s UK Bestsellers chart, conducted a survey in November 2022 that revealed 34% of people aged between 14 and 25 find new reads using the video platform YouTube.

TikTok and Instagram were used by 32% and 27% of participants respectively, and online book retailer websites were visited by 33% of respondents. This data comes after reports that “BookTok” – the corner of TikTok in which creators share book recommendations – is driving sales of particular authors and genres that are popular on the platform. Its YouTube counterpart, BookTube, similarly features videos of users discussing their favourite titles and “hauls” of books they have recently bought….

(4) BEST EVER. ScreenRant picked the “10 Greatest Anthology TV Shows Of All Time, Ranked” and despite the list not being restricted to genre, there are seven sff and horror shows on it. The Twilight Zone is ranked number one.

Although most television series follow a single story over the course of several seasons, there are some shows called anthologies that change up the plot from episode to episode or season to season, and these can be some of the most successful series to date. Anthologies may not be the most popular form of television, but they certainly stand out for their distinct format and ever-changing stories. In fact, some of the most popular and lauded television series from the past to now are anthology series.

The following list offers ten of the best anthology television series to ever appear on-screen. This is a particularly diverse bunch of shows that range in release date, genre, and form. Though they each have the anthology structure in common, each show offers their own unique take on the concept, and more than that, their own important story. Whether it’s a silly comedy, a gruesome horror, or peek into true crime, each of these anthology series is popular in its own right and for good reason. For those interested in diving into anthologies, this is the ultimate place to start.

(5) HISTORY OF THE TOMORROW PEOPLE. It’s hard to imagine a showrunner envying the “big” effects budget of Seventies Doctor Who, but theirs was even smaller: “’It’s hard to keep a straight face opposite a Dalek on Viagra’: how we made The Tomorrow People” in the Guardian.

Roger Price, creator and writer

Working for the BBC in the early 70s, I made a Junior Points of View episode in which kids said they thought most BBC children’s programmes were patronising rubbish. Soon after I was at a get-together for TV people where Monica Sims, the head of BBC children’s programmes, challenged me to do better. I said: “Give me a time slot and budget, and I will.” Lewis Rudd, the Independent Television equivalent, overheard and asked: “Did you mean that?”

We had lunch and he said: “We need an answer to Doctor Who.” Twenty years earlier, I’d been enrolled at a boarding school full of German kids. We were all the best of friends, and knowing that only seven or eight years earlier our fathers would have been trying to kill each other in the second world war made me think that we must be the next stage of human evolution. That was the inspiration for the idea I pitched to Lewis – kids who had special powers, but who were unable to use them to kill or do harm.

These “Tomorrow People” were telepathic and telekinetic, and could teleport or “jaunt” from one place to another via hyperspace. They became aware of their abilities after “breaking out” – deliberate shorthand for puberty. I wanted kids watching at home to feel that they too might be a Tomorrow Person, and that it was OK to feel different….

Nicholas Young, played John

…Some of the spacecraft looked quite good even though they were built out of plastic cups from the canteen painted silver. But the aliens were often ridiculous. It’s difficult to act with a straight face against a puppet with an aerial on its head or something that looked like a Dalek on Viagra.

In the early days, when Tomorrow People were seen floating in hyperspace, we’d be standing on one foot in front of a yellow screen – then the yellow would be electronically overlaid with a star field or psychedelic effects. Later, we were hung on wires which could clearly be seen on TV. We looked like Thunderbirds puppets. I said: “Why don’t you paint the wires yellow?” Someone covered them with yellow gaffer tape and bingo! They disappeared….

(6) BOARDGAME OF THE YEAR. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Spiel des Jahres (Boardgame of the Year) is a huge deal in the boardgame world and the 2023 winners were just announced.

The 2023 Spiel des Jahres is Dorfromantik: Das Brettspiel (Romantic village: The boardgame) by Lukas Zach and Michael Palm, published by Pegasus Spiele.

The 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Boardgame of the Year) is Mysterium Kids by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld.

Radio Bremen interviews of one the winners, Lukas Zach who is a local. (They were not interested in interviewing Germany’s first ever Hugo winner, who also happens to be a local…)

(7) ROBERT OSBAND DIES. The American Space museum announced that long-time volunteer Robert “Ozzie” Osband, a fixture at Space View Park rocket launches for four decades, died August 6 at the age of 72.

 He was quite a character, and Osband’s adventures inspired Bill Higgins’ article “Two Vain Guys Named Robert”.

…In 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.

In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.

Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…

(8) WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (1935-2023). [Item by Dann.] William Friedkin died August 7 of heart failure and pneumonia. He was 87.  The director’s most noteworthy genre work was The Exorcist.  Other works include an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an episode of The Twilight Zone, an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and horror movies The Guardian and Bug.  Friedkin also directed The French Connection for which he won an Oscar.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 7, 1933 Jerry Pournelle, 1933 – 2017. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about an SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called, errrr, Moties. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand was. His best novel is of course The Mote in God’s Eye which he wrote with Niven. And yes, I’ve read a lot of his military space opera when I was a lot younger. At that age, I liked it. I expect the Suck Fairy with her steel toe boots wouldn’t be kind to it now if I read any of it, so I won’t. He had a number of Hugo nominations starting at Torcon II for “The Mercenary” novella followed by a nomination at DisCon II for his “He Fell into a Dark Hole” novelette. The next year at the first Aussiecon, The Mote in God’s Eye got nominated and his Extreme Prejudice novel also got a nod. MidAmericaCon saw Inferno by him and Niven get nominated and his “Tinker” novelette also was on the ballot. Lucifer’s Hammer with Niven got on the ballot at IgunaCon II and his final nomination was at ConFederation for Footfall with Niven. Oh and at MidAmericaCon II, he got a nomination for Best Editor, Short Form. And yes, I was a devoted reader of his Byte column. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 7, 1936 Richard L. Tierney. A Lovecraftian scholar. Coauthored with David C. Smith, a series of Red Sonja novels which have Boris Vallejo cover art. Some of his standalone novels riff off the Cthulhu Mythos. Unless you read German like Cora does, he’s not available digitally on at the usual suspects. (Died 2022.)
  • Born August 7, 1957 Paul Dini, 66. First, he is largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: The Animated SeriesThe New Batman/Superman AdventuresBatman Beyond, and yes Duck Dodgers And Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it. If you see it, see the R rated version. 
  • Born August 7, 1957 — Lis Carey, 66. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)
  • Born August 7, 1960 Melissa Scott, 63. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver


  • Eek! shows an unexpected fan of a well known sff movie franchise.
  • Speed Bump is there when a librarian fields a controversial request.
  • Tom Gauld knows the corporate mindset very well.

(11) MASS QUANTITIES. The New York Times looks into “The Complicated Estates of Obsessive Collectors”. “When collectors die, their families face a lot of decisions, including what to do with a hundred Superman figurines.” Some familiar names quoted here.

“More times than I can remember, a spouse or child has said to me, ‘If he wasn’t dead, I’d kill him all over again for leaving me with this mess,’” said Greg Rohan, the president of Heritage Auctions.

Most people tend to know what to do with traditional investments after someone dies, he said, but when it comes to baseball cards, first-edition books, coins and other collectibles, the loved ones dealing with the estate can be stumped (and annoyed).

If some collectors of, say, vinyl figurines, seem to have a gene that spurs them to dedicate entire rooms of their home to inanimate rubbery friends, they are also, in many ways, just like everyone else. “People don’t want to think about dying,” said Maggie Thompson, 80, a former senior editor of Comic Buyer’s Guide, which was a newsmagazine that covered the comic book industry. “I realize as I look around my rooms, my family is not going to know what things are.”…

(12) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a story called “Rest My Weary Bones” in the July 2023 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. 

It seems I’ve barely rested at all when the call comes… again. 

Rise and shine, sunshine. Time for battle, time for war, time to smite the enemy and hear the lamentations of their women… if I could still hear properly, that is. ‘Cause hearing doesn’t work very well, when you’re essentially a skeleton.

For that’s exactly what I am these days: A skeleton….

(13) IT’S IN THE BAG. Geek Grind Coffee is another outfit that tempts fans to buy its products on the strength of its clever and intriguing genre packaging. But that’s not the only recommendation:

…More than 600 women involved in the cooperative are leaders of their own farms, heads of households or in managegment with our organiztion. Geek Grind is strongly focused on promoting women in leadership, ownership and success in coffee. We do this because of the need….

(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Item by John King Tarpinian.]

Truman Capote is at the same cemetery as Ray.  

Non-genre trivia is that the crypt that Truman is in was originally for Johnny Carson. In his final years Truman Capote lived at the Malibu home of Joanne Carson who was one of Johnny’s ex-wives.  

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A fan video from Andrew Loves Sci-Fi — Friends intro but it’s Star Trek. [Click the link to see it.]

What if the original Star Trek was a comedy? Or, better yet, what if the intro for this comedy was set to the theme song to Friends? This intro re-imagines one of the world’s top science-fiction shows as one of the hottest comedies on television. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy will always be there for you!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Dann, Peer, Bill Higgins, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/7/2023 Ow, My Scroll!

  1. (7) Dress for the autograph you want to get (better Have Spacesuit” than Operation Suntan in *Puppet Masters)

  2. (7) I wound up relocating to the Space Coast the beginning of ’03. I’d no idea that the 321 area code was that recent. And I relocated from 312….

  3. (9) I feel bad about offering a correction on my own birthday, but was born in 1957. Far from being a mere 65 years old, I have attained the great and venerable age of 66.

    My apologies for the correction, and many thanks for the happy birthday wish.

    Cider thanks you for recognizing the validity of her feline ancestry, even though some, who are obviously neither sf fans nor Chinese Crested dog people, dare to dispute it. Totally makes up for getting my birth year wrong, she assures me.

  4. (1) “STOP DRAGON THAT STUFF IN HERE” is one of the best item titles…

    (4) There are some great choices. But… “The Outer Limits” is #9? No Playhouse 90? No Thriller? 😉 (I know there’s only so much room in those lists… But Playhouse 90!!!)

    (9a) I read and liked “Janissaries” back in the day. I don’t know how it would hold up.

    (9b) The Red Sonja novel I read back in the day was pretty cool. Even the villainess was well-written. I wish the rights issues could be untangled so that those could be reissued.

    (9c) Happy birthday Lis Carey!

  5. Anne Marble says I read and liked “Janissaries” back in the day. I don’t know how it would hold up.

    My personal Suck Fairy who has red hair, favors black leather and is a fan of Richard Thompson says it really sucks. I must say that she isn’t wrong.

  6. (5) I remember “The Tomorrow People” fondly from my youth in the 1970s and 1980s (re-runs on early Nickelodeon).

    I feel like it survived The Suck Fairy … but like much media of the time, has been visited by The Slow Pacing Fairy.

    (Same problem when I revisited “Dangermouse” recently)

  7. Re: 5, I tried looking at the list, but I was overwhelmed with ads. Hard to read when commercials keep popping up. My favorites weren’t on the list. They’re still my favorites.

    Re: 11, I have collections, but I keep an inventory, and for those items that are particularly valuable, I have specific instructions in my will. Forewarned is forearmed!

    To Liz Carey, I gave up having birthdays. That way, no one knows how old I am. Besides, it’s better to have Unbirthdays than birthdays, at least according to Lewis Carroll.

  8. Anne Marble: I suppose a true anthology show has a different cast of characters in every episode. But then I think of Wagon Train which had a kind of family of characters– wagonmaster, assistant, scout, cook — but every episode revolved around the story carried by a guest star or two. It was a hybrid anthology show. Actually that was a common formula for series in early TV.

  9. (4) @Anne Marble: There are some great choices. But… “The Outer Limits” is #9? No Playhouse 90? No Thriller?
    Yeah, overall that’s a fairly ridiculous list.

    (9) I have fond memories of Pournelle’s King David’s Spaceship (the serialization title of A Spaceship for the King was better), which I plan on retaining by not re-reading it.

    (13) Am I the only one who thinks the coffee label looks like a wildly over-caffeinated Grogu?

  10. Happy birthday, Lis!

    11) The comments on that article by people who gleefully dream about throwing their loved ones’ belongings in the trash after their death are depressing.

    Also, in what world are Hummel figurines or Galle vases not worth anything? New Hummel figurines go for upwards of a 100 Euros and genuine Galle vases go for hundreds, if not thousands of Euros.

  11. That said, I do have some sympathy for the heirs, because my grandma was an enthusiastic photographer in pre-digital times and left behind boxes full of travel and nature photos that no one wanted after her death.

    From my other grandmother, I inherited a bunch photo albums and boxes full of loose photos from the early 20th century up to the 1950s. So now I have a stack of photo albums of random people I don’t recognise (Grandma wasn’t good at labelling photos and mostly took photos of her friends, not of her family) and lots of photos from sports events and tournaments in the early 20th century. I should probably check if the sports club my grandpa was a member of still exists and if they want the photos, because I would feel really bad about throwing them out.

  12. Cora:
    It could be worse. I used to do photo lab work in Long Beach, and the local library came in with some 8″x10″ negatives that were donated to them, depicting historical scenes of Long Beach at and before the turn of the 20th century. They only kept the ones in which they recognized historically significant locations, and destroyed the rest. Among those destroyed were countless photos of people in period costumes from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I implored them to consider local historical societies and costume archives as potential recipients of such a gold mine of visual data in future. They hadn’t considered that. (Of course not!)

    With regard to family photos, my mom was good about labeling them (though sometimes incorrectly). I still don’t know who some of them were, or what relation they may have had to my family. I’m in the (seemingly) never-ending process of taking all of the family photos and digitizing for the next generation.

    One of my cousins was the family archivist for historical data, which was uploaded to Ancestry.com, so I was able to reconstruct some of it. It’s surprising how easily history can slip through our fingers. In two or more generations, it’s likely much of our lives will be lost to time.

  13. 5) It probably says something about me that I knew at once which aliens Nicholas Young was talking about…. And not anything good, I fear.

    (The Sorsons, from the last story, “War of the Empires” – or, as I have been known to call it, “Invasion of the One-Armed Plastic Dildo People”.)

  14. (6) The Spiel des Jahres jury also chose Challengers! from Johannes Krenner, Markus Slawitscheck, and 1 More Time Games and Z-Man Games as the 2023 Kennerspiel des Jahres (KedJ) over nominees Iki and Planet Unknown. (The “Kennerspiel” awards an “enthusiast’s game”, that is, a game appropriate for those familiar with SdJ-level games.)

  15. @OGH

    But then I think of Wagon Train which had a kind of family of characters– wagonmaster, assistant, scout, cook — but every episode revolved around the story carried by a guest star or two.

    I think that’s what Roddenberry meant by “Wagon Train to the Stars” – not that Star Trek would be a western, but that it would have a regular cast (Kirk and company) dealing with the problems of interesting guest stars each.

  16. @PhilRM

    An over-caffeinated Grogu? That was my first thought as well.

    Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

  17. I watched all of The Tomorrow People, for my sins.

    It has its moments, but unfortunately the bit in the very first episode where they unlock some kid’s mind was the very best thing they ever did; nothing else lived up to the weirdness of that moment. The story where we learn Hitler was an alien is risible; so is the one where Peter Davison is a singing space cowboy.

    That said, it did teach me the expression, “There is one law for rich and poor alike, which prevents them equally from stealing bread and sleeping under bridges.”

  18. (5) The original series of The Tomorrow People ran from 1973-79, but there was a sequel (1992-95) which featured Christopher Lee in five episodes, plus a short-lived US version (2013-14). Price obviously lifted the term ‘jaunting’ from Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956), as did Stephen King for his 1981 short story ‘The Jaunt’.

  19. @Lawrax
    Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my story.

    @Carl Andor
    Yes, it’s a pity how much history, both things like photos but also material objects, is being lost. Which is also why I did not throw out those photo albums of my grandma, even though I have no idea who half those people are and in one case – where grandma labeled the photos with a full name – was very worried about a family with a young kid in the 1920s who might have been Jewish.

    And a studio portrait of my two uncles in the mid 1930s now hangs on my wall.

  20. @Steve Mollmann: The original is from Anatole France: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

    I must confess that I also first encountered it through a genre work, though. It appeared in the Illuminatus trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

  21. And I, too, first heard that ironic maxim about the law from literature; it was quoted in a Jo Walton book. (Can’t recall which one off-hand; possibly Farthing.)

  22. 4 my favorite anthology show is The Hulk.

    Friedkins best film is Sorcerer. Like Ciminos truly great Heavens Gate, sadly savaged by an uncouth film culture.

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