Pixel Scroll 9/1/22 It’s Not A Pixel Scroll, It’s A Flamin’ Platypus

(1) PHOTO FROM THURSDAY’S FILE 770 MEETUP AT CHICON 8. The first File 770 meetup organized by Hampus Eckerman happened this morning – here’s a photo of some of the fans who made it. From left to right, Nicole, Martin and Kendall.

Meanwhile, Hampus has shifted the location for the Friday meetup to get away from the Jazz Festival happening in the area he planned before. Check the details here: Update Filers Meetup for Worldcon.

(2) PASSED MASTER. It’s a big advantage if you can skip taking a plane. “I will astral project myself to Worldcon” says Camestros Felapton. Expect to smell, er, see him there!

(3) MAGICAL THINKING. Xiran Jay Zhao, author of Iron Widow, cut loose with this video a few days ago:  

They have since traveled to Chicago. Where someone turned on the TV.

(4) CHICON 8 HITS A COUPLE OF BUMPS. The 2022 Worldcon began today, and a few problems with the con’s virtual edition prompted Chair Helen Montgomery to issue this “Virtual Access Apology”.

We apologize for the impact that accessibility issues within Airmeet, our platform for Virtual Chicon 8, have had on our members.

Thank you to people who have reached out to us about these issues as we launched this week.

The short version of our reply is that you are correct. There are definitely accessibility issues within Airmeet. Some issues we knew about and planned for, some issues are things we recently discovered, and some are things we simply didn’t think through all the way.

We knew that whatever platform we chose would have problems. We chose a platform that several of our staff have used before. We had a broad team working on Virtual C8, representing multiple divisions and areas, including our Accessibility Services team. Nonetheless, despite our best efforts, we still missed some pieces.

We are continuing to work on various workarounds for known issues. You can see our updated Accessibility Guide here (under the Virtual C8 menu tab) which is everything we know about Accessibility at this moment. We will continue to update it as we learn more.

If you need help, we have our live text chat service located at the bottom of the Virtual C8 page. You can also email us at virtual@chicon.org for assistance.

Hugo Administrator Kat Jones also apologized for some errors in the Souvenir Book: “Astounding Award Finalists: An Apology”.

We apologize for errors that have appeared in the official Chicon 8 Souvenir Book on page 98, in the listing of previous Astounding Award winners. 

When constructing the list of previous winners, the team mistakenly took the first name (ordered alphabetically) from this year’s Astounding Award ballot and listed it for the 2022 Astounding Award. We will correct this in the electronic version of the Souvenir Book. The team working on the Souvenir Book does not have visibility into the results of this year’s voting, and this error does not reflect anything other than the alphabetical ordering of the ballot.

We also apologize for the misspelling of Emily Tesh’s name as the 2021 Astounding Award winner, and the misspelling of Jeannette Ng’s name as the 2019 Astounding Award winner. These will also be corrected in the electronic version of the Souvenir Book.

We are very sorry for these mistakes.

(5) THE LINEAGE OF BATMAN. SF2 Concatenation has tweeted an advance post ahead of its autumnal edition: “Batman – Cinematic portrayals, or how The Dark Knight has maintained his comic book hero franchise”.

With the latest film in the collection just been to the cinema (eventually!) and now available on DVD, Bluray and on the usual platforms as The Batman, Mark Yon thought he would look at the rather long and complicated past of Batman in the cinema (with a couple of nods to comics and television as well!)…

(6) FENCON COPES WITH HOTEL OVERBOOKING MISTAKE. FenCon XVIII, which will be held in Irving, Texas from September 16-18, was handed the short end of the stick when their hotel “had a glitch” and got oversold by 150 rooms. The problem is being solved by switching a number of fans to nearby hotel, setting up continuous shuttles, and giving the displaced fans a $20 a day voucher. The committee told Facebook readers that anyone with an assisted reservation was kept on the property. Here is the statement from the convention’s website:

From the FenCon Staff to all of our members and guests: 

In mid-August, the Sheraton DFW hotel notified us that, due to a major computer glitch, they have oversold by over 150 rooms on FenCon weekend. The only way to manage their room inventory is to relocate many of our attendees to their sister property across the street, the DoubleTree DFW North. 

As a part of the concessions which the hotel is making to our convention, they will: 

* run a continuous shuttle between the two hotels during convention hours

* provide a $20 food voucher per day for each relocated guestroom for the DoubleTree restaurant

* the Hotel will be contacting attendees individually if their room is one of those being moved

The hotel has assured us that everyone who booked an accessible room will stay at the Sheraton.

Obviously this situation will be inconvenient, but Fencon was faced with the choice of working with the hotel to manage the situation, or canceling the convention, which we certainly did not want!

We hope the meal vouchers will help, and the shuttle should be a convenient way to move between the hotels. We do ask that you please not drive between hotels, as the parking spaces at the Sheraton will be nearly at capacity already.

We appreciate your understanding about the issue, and ask that you respect the staff at the various hotels – it isn’t their fault, and they are working hard to accommodate our needs. 

(7) SANFORD’S GRAPEVINE.  Jason Sanford posted a free issue of his “Genre Grapevine” sff news column on Patreon. It features many strong segments, such as “Twitter and the Normalization of Online Harassment and Attacks” which concludes:

…Sadly, I think it’s too late for Twitter and many of the original social media platforms, which enabled and profited off the worst aspects of humanity. As Annalee Newitz explained in this must-read post, Twitter is rapidly becoming a lost city. The result of all this will likely accelerate people moving to new platforms that don’t support and enable this hate and harassment, including siloed systems like personal newsletters. (For more on why authors should consider starting their own newsletter, see this excellent thread from K Tempest Bradford.)

All of this is a shame, because as Premee Mohamed explained, there are benefits and connections you can only find on a public platform like Twitter.

(8) EISNER TUNING UP FOR BROADWAY. Will Eisner’s “’A Contract With God’ Being Adapted Into Broadway Musical With TEG+” reports Variety.

TEG+ has acquired the stage rights to Will Eisner’s graphic novel “A Contract With God” and is adapting it into a Broadway musical, with new and original songs written by Sam Hollander, Lisa Loeb, Matisyahu, Ryan Miller and Jill Sobule.

“A Contract With God,” first published in 1978, is commonly recognized as the very first graphic novel in history. The novel consists of four interweaving stories revolving around the lives of a group of New Yorkers who live in a fictional tenement house, many of whom are Jewish and/or immigrants. For the musical, all of the members of the songwriting team are Jewish musicians and composers. Writing and recording sessions on the musical will commence soon, with Hollander serving as music producer.

(9) WHAT, AND LEAVE THAT MONEY ON THE TABLE? Dr. Michael D.C. Drout, a professor of English at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and co-editor of the journal Tolkien Studies, says in an opinion piece for the New York Times, “Please Don’t Make a Tolkien Cinematic Universe”.

…“The Rings of Power,” which will come out weekly after its two-episode premiere, is based primarily on only a few dozen pages in one of the historical appendices to “The Lord of the Rings,” meaning that almost the entire plot of the show has been created by Amazon Studios’ writers and showrunners. And there’s a huge gulf between Tolkien’s originality, moral sophistication and narrative subtlety and the culture of Hollywood in 2022 — the groupthink produced by the contemporary ecosystem of writers’ rooms, Twitter threads and focus groups. The writing that this dynamic is particularly good at producing — witty banter, arch references to contemporary issues, graphic and often sexualized violence, self-righteousness — is poorly suited to Middle-earth, a world with a multilayered history that eschews both tidy morality plays and blockbuster gore.

Is it fair to the legacies of writers like Tolkien to build franchises from their works without their knowledge or permission? Tolkien, who died in 1973, was fiercely protective of the world he created in his novels. He harshly rejected the spec screenplays of “The Lord of the Rings” he read and once asserted that the work was not appropriate for film. (He sold the film rights in 1969 only in order to help pay a tax bill; the television rights were sold to Amazon by his heirs.)…

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1955 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, the Hugo Awards returned as an official part of Worldcon. They had been skipped by the SFCon (1954) committee after being created by the Philcon II (1953) committee. They have been presented every year since.

The thirteenth Worldcon was held from the September 1-5, 1955. Nick Falasca and Noreen Falasca (Shaw) were the Chairs with the guests being Isaac Asimov (pro) and Sam Moskowitz (mystery GoH). The identity of the Special Mystery Guest was not revealed (even to the honoree) until the first night of the convention. The Program book noted that “Mr. Boucher [the Toastmaster] will make the presentation of the Achievement Awards and identify the Mystery Guest.” Anthony Boucher was Toastmaster. It was held at the Manger Hotel in Cleveland.  They would be known as Clevention. 

The Hugos were short enough that I feel comfortable listing them here.

  • Best Novel: They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley [Astounding Aug,Sep,Oct,Nov 1954]
  • Best Novelette: “The Darfsteller” by Walter M. Miller, Jr. [Astounding Jan 1955] 
  • Best Short Story: “Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell [Astounding May 1955]
  • Best Professional Magazine: Astounding Science Fiction ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • Best Professional Artist: Frank Kelly Freas 
  • Best Fanzine: Fantasy Times ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr. and Ray Van Houten

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Ray Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Not that I’d necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. A statement some of you will argue with strongly. (Died 1950.)
  • Born September 1, 1926 Gene Colan. He co-created with Stan Lee the Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics. He created Carol Danvers, who would become Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, and was featured in Captain Marvel. With Marv Wolfman, he created Blade. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 1, 1942 C. J. Cherryh, 80. I certainly think the Hugo Award winning Downbelow Station at Chicon IV and Cyteen at Noreascon 3 are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners.
  • Born September 1, 1943 Erwin Strauss, 79. A noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician who born in Washington, D.C. He frequently is known by the nickname Filthy Pierre. He’s the creator of the Voodoo message board system once used at cons such as Worldcon, WisCon and Arisia. 
  • Born September 1, 1951 Donald G. Keller, 71.  He co-edited The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman which I highly recommend. He is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and he’s member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies
  • Born September 1, 1964 Martha Wells, 58. She’s has won two Nebulas, four Locus Awards, and four Hugo Awards. Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Dairies are amazing.
  • Born September 1, 1967 Steve Pemberton, 55. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in Gormenghast and Harmony in Good Omens.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! reveals another victim of a digital currency surprise.
  • The Duplex tells why they think Marvel is running out of ideas.

(13) FIFTY YEARS OF LUKE CAGE. Throughout the last year, superstar artist J. Scott Campbell has helped Marvel Comics honor the milestone anniversaries of some of comic book’s greatest icons including Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man. Up next will be a cover for October’s Daredevil #4 featuring Luke Cage who’s celebrating 50 years of defending the streets of the Marvel Universe as a solo fighter, a Hero for Hire, and an Avenger. The artwork depicts Luke in his iconic Power Man costume

(14) CHENGDU LOCKDOWN. “China Locks Down Major Southern City of Chengdu” – the New York Times reports what’s happening this weekend in the city that will host next year’s Worldcon.  

China has locked down Chengdu, one of its biggest and economically important cities, as it turns once again to its Covid strategy of restricting people’s movements to stop outbreaks.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, residents in the city of more than 21 million were no longer allowed to leave their homes without special permission, in the most drastic move to stop an outbreak since Shanghai went into a damaging two-month lockdown in April. Authorities also began citywide mass testing that they said would continue through the weekend. Chengdu reported 157 cases on Wednesday and more than 700 cases since Aug. 25.

China is the last major country in the world to pursue a policy of eradicating the virus, and it uses citywide lockdowns and mass testing to root out pockets of outbreaks. But the approach is adding to the pressures facing the local authorities in Sichuan, the southern province whose capital is Chengdu. A record-setting drought and a punishing heat wave have devastated the region’s power supply, and emergency responders battled quick-moving wildfires around the city of Chongqing until late last week.

Officials in Chengdu gave no indication of how long the lockdown might last, but it is expected to deal another economic blow to China at a challenging moment. The city is home to the manufacturing and assembly plants of several multinational automakers and technology firms including Intel, VW and Toyota, and its economic growth in 2021 accounted for 1.7 percent of China’s overall gross domestic product.

Chengdu and other cities across China have ordered measures like postponing the start of school and shutting down businesses to try to stamp out stubborn outbreaks in recent days….

(15) BIG MESS HALL. “H.P. Lovecraft Writes Olive Garden’s Dinner Menu” at McSweeney’s. A 2021 article – did we link last year? Well, it will still be news to someone.

Fried Calamari

Tendrils crusted in grit assail my palate. Begotten of the sea, yet containing the essence of a carnival. Fried and without end. At once I feel refined and base, but melancholy grips me when I spy the dressings within which this dismembered cephalopod is to dip. …

(16) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon is a computer and Alison Scott and Liz Batty are talking to him very slowly in episode 65 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Action Castle 2”.

John, Alison, and Liz play a game because they’re all away at Chicon 8 this week. Normal service will resume shortly. Listen here!

(17) JUSTWATCH. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 viewing lists for August 2022.

(18) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “A massive planet circles a huge star doomed to explode” reports today’s Nature.

Confirmation of a second planet around the star μ2 Scorpii would indicate the first planetary system at a supernova-in-waiting.

A planet, and an object likely to be a planet, orbit a heavyweight star so massive that it will end its life in a spectacular explosion. The pair could comprise the first planetary system yet to be discovered around a star destined to form a supernova1.

Most of the 5,000-plus known planets beyond the Solar System circle relatively lightweight stars, no more than roughly twice the mass of the Sun. Whether planets can form and survive around stars big enough to go supernova remains relatively unexplored.

A team led by Vito Squicciarini at the University of Padua in Italy has been using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to search for planets around 85 young, massive stars. Around the star μ2 Scorpii, which is about 9 times the mass of the Sun, the astronomers spotted a planet that’s roughly 14 times the mass of Jupiter.

There are also hints of a second object, roughly 18 times the mass of Jupiter and closer to the star than the first one. The presence of two planets around such a massive star suggests that large stars circled by large planets might be more common than expected.

Original primary research article (open access) here.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Not sff, just amazing. Watch artist Devon Rodriguez at work in the NYC subways on Facebook.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Angela Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

22 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/1/22 It’s Not A Pixel Scroll, It’s A Flamin’ Platypus

  1. Whoa, I do not remember suggesting that Pixel Scroll title. It must have been an alternate universe me. Nonetheless, I shall take credit anyway. Thank you.

  2. 12) Wow. That’s a rather arrogant and high-handed criticism from someone who hasn’t even seen the show yet. It reminds me of the religious types who protested “The Life of Brian” before it even came out.

  3. “I Scrolled it from Isaac, he Scrolled it from Jim. We all agree it must have Boulle who Scrolled it to him.”

  4. 11) Downbelow Station is my favorite SF novel, full stop.

    Burroughs was formative for me (though admittedly I’d find him much harder to recommend these days); and Martha Wells is, well, need I say more?

    Also born today: Harold Lamb (September 1, 1892), who wrote little if any actual out-and-out genre fiction (one kind of unfortunate lost race novel called Marching Sands that I’m aware of), but his historical adventure stories, particularly those set in the Crusades and his stories about a Cossack named Khlit somewhere around the year 1600, were hugely influential on Robert E. Howard, amongst others.

  5. Is anyone aware of somebody who is liveblogging the Business Meeting? Or writing a post about the day’s activities?

  6. Cyteen is my favorite Cherryh, and Cherryh is, overall, one of my very favorite writers, but I have to confess that I’m not a fan of Downbelow Station. I actually re-read it again just last year, to see if my opinion might have improved with age, and the answer is no. (Though unlike many works from that era, it hasn’t gotten any worse. And it is a sign of how much I like Cherryh that I was even willing to try.) No knock on those who do like it, but it just never clicked for me.

  7. (1) PHOTO FROM THURSDAY’S FILE 770 MEETUP AT CHICON 8. Why did I agree to be photographed. 😉 I look goofy and appear to be grimacing instead of grinning. Well, they both start with “gri”. . . . (I should’ve worn my mask!)

    Great to see & meet the folks who were there, and I hope to make it to another meetup!

    (6) FENCON COPES WITH HOTEL OVERBOOKING MISTAKE. Aw, man, what a nightmare for the con and the hotel and the attendees! How can something like that even happen?!

    (19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Way cool! And some of the tattoo’d people do look SFal. 🙂

  8. 3) If I ever start going to places where TVs are again, I will invest in a Telezapper.

    9) Watched the first two episodes. They don’t bear a hell of a lot of resemblance to the source material.

  9. 9:

    s it fair to the legacies of writers like Tolkien to build franchises from their works without their knowledge or permission?

    It doesn’t matter, franchising and wrenching creative control from the hands of the originators (presumably those wo both know the subject best and care for it as an artistic endeavour) precisely so that they can do whatever they want to with that property to A: make money and B: keep anyone else from playing in that sandbox without their making even more money (or keeping to themselves just because they can – and also so that no one more artistically inclined/creative can show them up by doing better).

    This is the “commodification of art” that St. Le Guin went to great – and apparently futile – pains to warn us about.

    It’s like everyone was at the local swimming hole when Ursula pointed and said “Look! Sharks in the water!” and everyone on the beach dropped whatever they were doing and ran in until they were chest deep. Heads are now disappearing beneath the waves and everyone else is wondering how and why?

    (Keep an eye out, the LANDsharks are coming.)

  10. Mike: I’m detailed to send summaries to the Newsletter. I will write something about it on my DW journal. And I’ll be uploading the video as soon as I can after the meeting. I will not be live blogging it, though; I’m too busy as Assistant Videographer supporting Lisa Hayes, who is frantically trying to adjust to a major change in conditions.

    We have a significant issue with the recordings. Despite repeated reassurances, the hotel has changed the rules on us on the day. The better camera (better video, better sound pickup) is forbidden by the Union because apparently a camera that requires it be plugged into power is a Union Job and may not be operated by mere mortals like the Videographer. Only battery operated cameras are permitted, although they magnanimously allow us to put it on a tripod. The better camera does not have enough battery life to last for multiple hours. Therefore, Lisa Hayes is being forced to fall back to the much smaller camera (last used for the 2014 Business Meeting) for which she rigged an external pack that is powered by 3 “D” batteries and will last several hours. That small camera’s sound input isn’t that great. It works, but will likely result in complaints after our work for the past eight years to improve the quality of the recordings.

    Again, this is not Chicon’s decision. The WSFS division management tried to get what we needed. Lisa was working within what we were told we could do, which was to set up the better camera on the tripod, turn it on, and not touch it other than to change memory cartridges. When we got here, we found that there was no power connections, and when the convention asked, were told that we could not have them. We couldn’t even run an extension cord from the power connections at the head table. It’s all a Union requirement, and it’s apparently changing the rules in the middle of the game.

    We’ve done recordings in facilities with significant union oversight, such as San Jose in 2018, but the only place we’ve ever encountered this level of unions saying “only Union people can run cameras” is this one Hyatt. Back at Chicon 7, Lisa was allowed to record the Business Meeting on this same camera, but she was not allowed to be listed on the convention’s staff list because they had to maintain a fiction that she was just a random convention member recording things on her own. (Lisa is listed in the official WSFS records of past Business Meeting staff as Videographer, however.)

    Lisa says that had she known of this oddball “no electricity, but battery-operated gear is okay” ruling in advance, she could have probably kludged something together; however, having it dropped on her head with about twelve hours’ notice was not something for which we could have planned. It’s something of a miracle that we had any backup equipment at all. The small camera was in our kit for taking still photos; it can record video up to 30 minutes at a time before having to change memory cartridges. It will only work for long periods because Lisa built that outboard battery pack and because we can run over to CVS and buy more batteries for each day.

    Lisa says, “We made every effort to get a professional HD camera to do these recordings, and now I have to fall back on an seventeen-year-old SD camera. I apologize for not being able to do more.” It’s not her fault. Please don’t blame her when you see the recordings. And if anyone coming to the meeting wants to try and take their own recordings, feel free to do so, but remember that connecting to ground power is expressly forbidden, and not even possible anyway in that room due to the kinds of power outlets they have.

  11. 9) I don’t think it’s fair to say the rights were ‘wrenched’, since they were bought without duress. But I agree the seemingly inevitable Tolkien cinematic universe will be unfortunate. (Although why is this bad and transformative works good – just the amount of money involved?)

    Nevertheless, I watched the first two episodes last night. Looked great of course (my old colleagues at ILM had a hand in this). But the author of the Times piece is certainly right about the lack of moral complexity. The elves sail back to Middle Earth to fight Morgoth, but no mention of Feanor’s oath, the kin-slaying etc etc.

  12. @Kendall: Let me assure you that chez moi your “goofy” in that photo is the charming kind.

  13. Kendall, next time you take the photo and send to Mike. Easiest way to avoid being in it. 😉

  14. @xfltr, count me n as another one who isn’t a fan of Downbelow Station. There is plenty of Cherryh I do like – the Chanur trilogy (i.e. the three books following The Pride of Chanur) Hellburner, and yes, Cyteen are all examples. But Downbelow Station is just OK, I suppose,

  15. Cliff asks Although why is this bad and transformative works good – just the amount of money involved?

    I wouldn’t say it’s bad or wrong exactly, only curiously seeming to miss an essential aspect of the original story. Like taking Romeo and Juliet and giving it a happy ending, or turning Sherlock Holmes into an action hero, or deciding that what King Lear really needs is more tanks and machine guns. All of which has of course been done, with degrees of success we can argue about. And to be clear, I would love to hear that my worries are groundless and they absolutely nailed it.

    What I do think is bad is the estate using its bank balance to shut down works that are both interesting and possibly truer to the spirit of the original works.

  16. So much sympathy and appreciation to Kevin and Lisa as they navigate an AV situation that got changed out from under them at the last minute.

    (1) Obligatory warning: Filer in photo (and skates) is not quite as tall (when not in skates) as she may appear.

    I am unlikely to make today’s meeting, but having made two already, I’m pleased to have finally had the chance to meet some Filers in person. It has been lovely and Hampus has particular gone above and beyond with organization and hospitality. Thank you!

    Also: You can stop holding your breath, EPH has been re-ratified.

    (This post was composed during a live WFSF meeting.)

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