Pixel Scroll 9/13/23 Scroll Your Pixels Well

(1) LE GUIN ON HER ILLEGAL ABORTION IN 1950. Arwen Curry told Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Kickstarter backers that a “New Ursula K. Le Guin short film series starts today on LitHub!”

The Journey That Matters, a series of six short films about Ursula K. Le Guin’s life and work that will be serialized on Literary Hub, based on outtakes from the feature documentary you all helped me to create. Spending time with Ursula meant having access to her warm, wise perceptions about all kinds of questions in literature and life. With these little films, I hope to share some more of that abundance.

It starts today with “What it Was Like,” in which Ursula reads her powerful essay about the illegal abortion she had as a senior at Radcliffe in 1950, which she credits with allowing her to pursue her career as a writer and to build her family. It’s a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost since Roe fell — and how women’s success and happiness is predicated on our bodily autonomy….

See the first video in the series on Literary Hub: “Ursula K. Le Guin on Her Illegal Abortion in 1950” introduced by Elisabeth Le Guin and Caroline Le Guin:

As young women growing up under the protection of Roe, we never really talked with our mother about her abortion. Elisabeth [Le Guin] learned that it had occurred when she went through several abortions of her own in the 1980s; but what we know about the story of Ursula’s necessarily different experience comes to us through her written words, as it does to you.  “The Princess” was her keynote address to NARAL Pro-Choice America in 1982 when Roe was not even a decade old, and this piece, “What It Was Like,” was a talk for Oregon’s NARAL chapter in 2004. These stories are public statements, performances of Ursula’s own life material as a means to inspire and transform. The second of them, which you are about to hear, is also a rather extraordinary public love letter to her own family.

This is a hard essay to read or listen to, and it’s meant to be. Clearly, it was hard to write; watching Ursula in her 80s read her own words aloud, more than a decade after she wrote them, the emotion is palpable—and that shy little shrug at the end, that letting go. For us, it’s hard to watch. It’s a hard thing to think about your mother having an abortion, and an illegal one at that—to do so takes you to an exquisitely painful, vulnerable place, imagining what she went through: the shame, the grief, the sense of loss she must have experienced, the lingering, corrosive doubt. A hard thought exercise, but necessary to fully honor the fact that she could later choose to carry you to term, bring you into the world, into her world, to love and mother you the way she wanted to mother….

(2) NEW SFWA PROGRAM SEEKS INTERNS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support a new program they’re launching: Publishing Taught Me. This program will be shepherded by Nisi Shawl, an accomplished and multiple award-winning author, editor, instructor, and Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award recipient. It will take place over the coming year. And the press release adds that “Publishing Taught Me Launches with an Intern Search”.

…Publishing Taught Me will produce an online essay series, to be collated into an anthology, and a symposium aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. This will be done by inviting publishing professionals of color to describe their journeys and to provide advice and motivation to writers entering the field via their essays and participation in a Publishing Taught Me symposium. These goals will be accomplished with the support of two paid interns, who will serve as assistant editors for the essay series, symposium, and resultant anthology.

As managing editor for the project, Shawl will oversee the operational aspects of putting together an online essay series and anthology, and will work with SFWA staff to coordinate and execute their publication and the associated events. They will also provide mentorship to the two assistant editor interns, who should be early in their professional publishing careers.

We are now recruiting for the assistant editor internship positions for this program. Interested individuals must be at least at 18 years of age, and should have at least three months previous editing experience, preferably within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres, and a firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing people of color in the current publishing environment. Familiarity with Google Docs, Zoom, WordPress, and Canva is a plus.

Responsibilities include soliciting and editing project essays, overseeing contributor agreement completion, assisting with arranging the essays within the final publication, helping to establish and supporting project participant communication protocols, and preparing marketing materials for the project. The term “editing” includes developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting.

The editorial assistants’ work on the project begins November 1, 2023 and will be completed in November 2024. Hours worked will vary from week to week, but the anticipated time commitment will be up to 50 hours per month per person. A flat $2,000 stipend will be provided to each intern for their participation in the program.

If you are interested in applying, please complete the application here by September 30, 2023. We encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone who qualifies and would benefit from learning about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing industry as they fill this important role.

…This program will deliver invaluable insight into our industry that will benefit current and future genre storytellers, and we’re excited to bring it into existence. For questions about Publishing Taught Me, please contact [email protected]

(3) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM NEXT WEEK. Katie Conrad, Interim Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction shared the schedule for the Second Annual Sturgeon Symposium being held at the University of Kansas from September 20-22. Full details at the link.  

The Symposium theme this year, “Fantastic Worlds, Fraught Futures,” was inspired by this year’s KU Common Book, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The festivities start Tuesday night (9/19) with a co-sponsored Feminist Futures Forum, and continue through Friday (9/20-9/22) with a three-day academic conference open to all and events including a zine workshop (Wednesday afternoon), an open-to-all young adult creative writing workshop with YA author L.L. McKinney (Thursday afternoon), the reception and presentation of the annual Sturgeon Award with a reading by author Samantha Mills (Thursday evening), a closing reception in the gallery with the KU Common Work of Art (Friday afternoon), and a free showing of the movie The Host (Friday evening).  

(4) WHAT LIES IN STORE FOR SIMON & SCHUSTER? The Atlantic warns about the potential consequences of KKR’s purchase of Simon & Schuster in “Private Equity Comes for Book Publishing”.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice blocked Penguin Random House, owned by the German media giant Bertelsmann, from acquiring Simon & Schuster. The big five publishers—HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—already control about 80 percent of the book market. The literary class was relieved.

Less than a year later, the private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced that it would buy Simon & Schuster. Because the firm doesn’t already own a competing publisher, the deal is unlikely to trigger another antitrust probe. But KKR, infamous as Wall Street’s “barbarians at the gate” since the 1980s, may leave Simon & Schuster employees and authors yearning for a third choice beyond a multinational conglomerate or a powerful financial firm.

“It may be a stay of execution, but we should all be worried about how things will look at Simon & Schuster in five years,” says Ellen Adler, the publisher at the New Press, a nonprofit focused on public-interest books….

…In their recent book about private equity, These Are the Plunderers, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner recount maddening stories about KKR: how it bankrupted Toys “R” Us; gouged residents of Bayonne, New Jersey, for water and sewage; and, very recently, ran a vital provider of emergency services into the ground. If KKR’s latest deal follows a similar trajectory, Morgenson and Rosner might have a harder time documenting it. Their publisher is Simon & Schuster….

(5) DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE 2023. Noah Hawley’s Anthem is a work of genre interest among the six fiction finalists for the 2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Given for both fiction and nonfiction, the prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.

2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists

Anthem by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)

Something grave is happening to teenagers across America. Recovering from his sister’s tragic passing, Simon breaks out of a treatment facility to join a man called “The Prophet” on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Their journey becomes a rescue mission when they set off to save a woman being held captive by a man who goes by “The Wizard” in this freewheeling adventure that finds unquenchable light in the dark corners of society.

Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company)

A trans woman, Carlotta Mercedes, reenters life on the outside after more than twenty years in a men’s prison. Set over the course of a whirlwind Fourth of July weekend, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta follows her struggles to reconcile with the son she left behind, to reunite with a family reluctant to accept her true identity, and to avoid anything that might send her back to lockup.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Mecca by Susan Straight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

From the National Book Award finalist Susan Straight, Mecca is a stunning epic tracing the intertwined lives of native Californians fighting for life and land. The author crafts an unforgettable American epic, examining race, history, family, and destiny. With sensitivity, furor, and a cinematic scope that captures California in all its injustice, history, and glory, she tells a story of the American West through the eyes of the people who built it—and continue to sustain it.

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (W. W. Norton & Company)

In an Indian village in the 1950s, a precocious child is born into a family of Dalit coconut farmers. King Rao will grow up to be the world’s most accomplished tech CEO and lead a global corporate government. King’s daughter, Athena, must reckon with his legacy—literally, for he has given her access to his memories. The Immortal King Rao obliterates the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historical and the dystopian, to confront our age of technological capitalism.

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Grand Central Publishing)

As devastating weather patterns wreak gradual havoc on Florida’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Wanda, named for the terrible storm she was born into, grows up in a landscape abandoned by civilization. Moving from childhood to adulthood, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

(6) ONLINE EVENT WILL DRAW ATTENTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST UYGHURS. “World Uyghur Congress announces #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign to coincide with World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Chengdu, China”. The complete press release is at the link.

The World Uyghur Congress will host an online panel discussion featuring several award-winning and bestselling authors on Tuesday, October 17th, 2023. The date, one day before the opening of the Worldcon science fiction convention in Chengdu, China, was selected deliberately in order to draw attention to ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan. The United States, along with 11 parliaments and senates around the world and the independent Uyghur Tribunal have officially recognized the abuses as a genocide and a crime against humanity. 

This marks the first year that Worldcon, the largest science fiction convention and the bestower of the prestigious Hugo Awards, will be hosted in China. The decision to hold the event in China has prompted concern from a wide range of science fiction fans, journalists, and authors, many of whom have called for a boycott. Making matters worse, the organization has invited Liu Cixin and Sergei Lukyanenko to attend as “guests of honor.” Both writers have been outspoken in favor of genocidal policies, with Liu saying that the genocidal policies are a justifiable form of “economic development” and Lukyanenko calling for Ukrainian children to be drowned

“The Chinese government wants to use Worldcon as a sort of Potemkin Village in order to showcase how futuristic and technologically advanced the country has become,” said Andrew Gillsmith, author of the bestselling novel Our Lady of the Artilects and organizer of the #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign. “Meanwhile, they are interning people in concentration camps, forcibly separating children from their families, conscripting Uyghurs into slave labour schemes, and implementing the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated surveillance regime in history. Science fiction writers and fans have a longstanding tradition of standing for human rights. This is in the spirit of that tradition.”

The event in October will broadcast live worldwide and is expected to last 90 minutes….

“We are grateful for this support from the science fiction and literary communities,” said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress. “Our goal is not to disrupt Worldcon but to ensure that coverage of the event includes the facts about an ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the host country.”… 

(7) ALAN MOORE NOW SENDING HIS DC ROYALTIES TO BLM. Variety reports “Alan Moore Donates Film and TV Money to Black Lives Matter”.

Alan Moore, the comic book visionary best known for writing such revered works as “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “Batman: The Killing Joke,” revealed to The Telegraph that he is longer accepting royalty checks from DC Comics for films and television series based on his works. He’s asked the company to instead reroute these checks to Black Lives Matter.

The Telegraph asked Moore if reports were true about him taking all of the money he makes from film and TV series and dividing it among the writers and other creatives, to which the writer answered: “I no longer wish it to even be shared with them. I don’t really feel, with the recent films, that they have stood by what I assumed were their original principles. So I asked for DC Comics to send all of the money from any future TV series or films to Black Lives Matter.”…

(8) SPACE:1999 SPACECRAFT GETS DOCUMENTARY. “’Space: 1999′ documentary to focus on the iconic Eagle spacecraft” at Space.com.

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise funds for a dedicated documentary focusing specifically on the design and development of the iconic Eagle transport spacecraft from the epic 70s sci-fi TV show “Space: 1999.” The documentary feature is called “The Eagle Has Landed” and will showcase never-before-seen archival footage. It’s set to be released in time for the 50th Anniversary of “Space: 1999” in 2025. 

“‘Space: 1999’ appeared on TV a few short years after the world watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. The show’s unforgettable Eagle inspired a generation to envision a future in space and is still doing so decades later. The question we explore is why?” said writer, director Jeffrey Morris and founder FutureDude Entertainment, the production company behind the project….

The Kickstarter link is here: “The Eagle Has Landed – Sci-Fi Documentary by Jeffrey Morris”. The appeal has raised $27,000 of the $500,000 goal on the first day.

…The Eagle Has Landed explores a passionate and ongoing nostalgia for a future that never happened. This intriguing feature-length documentary follows Jeffrey Morris—a Minnesota-based filmmaker and lifelong science-fiction aficionado—as he examines the fascinating connections between art, science, culture, and the iconic Eagle spacecraft. …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s talk about the publishing of Keith Laumer’s A Plague of Demons which is our Beginning this time as it’s fascinating.  Especially when it got entangled with Baen Books later on.

It first was published in If in the November and December 1964 issues as The Hounds of Hells. This is not the later version known as A Plague of Demons but a shorter version.  

It got its first book publication as a paperback from Berkley Medallion the next year. The cover illustration is by Richard Powers. 

Penguin, Paperback Library and then Warner Paperback Library (yes Warner bought Paperback Library), then Warner Books (such for Paperback Library) and finally Pocket Books before we get to Baen Books.

And there’s Baen Books. They did three paperback editions of it and then printed it as part of A Plague of Demons and Other Stories which collected a lot of his shorter fiction, mostly novelettes. It was then offered up as part of the Baen Free Library. ISFDB says it was included as part of The 1634: The Baltic War Disk and The 1635: The Eastern Front CD-ROMs. 

Now let’s not overlook as you see in a few moments that A Plague of Demons is a most amazing novel. I’ve only included the first paragraph but it’s all you need as it’s most excellent. 

So here is it. Do enjoy it.

It was ten minutes past high noon when I paid off my helicab, ducked under the air blast from the caged high-speed rotors as they whined back to speed, and looked around at the sun-scalded, dust-white, mob-noisy bazaar of the trucial camp-city of Tamboula, Republic of Free Algeria. Merchants’ stalls were a slash of garish fabrics, the pastels of heaped fruit, the glitter of oriental gold thread and beadwork, the glint of polished Japanese lenses and finely-machined Swiss chromalloy, the subtle gleam of hand-rubbed wood, the brittle complexity of Hong Kong plastic – islands in the tide of humanity that elbowed, sauntered, bargained with shrill voices and waving hands, or stood idly in patches of black shadow under rigged awnings all across the wide square. I made my way through the press, shouted at by hucksters, solicited by whining beggars and tattooed drabs, jostled by UN Security Police escorting officials of a dozen nations.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1931 — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, 92. An American author. Anthropologist, author of both fiction and non-fiction books on animal behavior, Paleolithic life, and the !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. She was written three works of fiction two genre, Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife and one, Certain Poor Shepherds: A Christmas Tale, a Christmas story, a folk tale and therefore at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born September 13, 1933 Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 13, 1947 Mike Grell, 76. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green ArrowThe Warlord, and Jon Sable FreelanceThe Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. It would be adapted by Matt Wayne for Justice League Unlimited’s “Chaos at the Earth’s Core”. 
  • Born September 13, 1960 Bob Eggleton, 63. He’s has been honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist eight times! He was guest of honor at Chicon 2000. There’s a reasonably up to date look at his artwork, Primal Darkness: The Gothic & Horror Art of Bob Eggleton which he put together in 2010 and was published by Cartouche Press.
  • Born September 13, 1961 Tom Holt, 62. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, deeply into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. His only two Awards are a pair of World Fantasy Awards, both for novellas, “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” and “Let’s Maps to Others”. And yes, I know that he also publishes under the K. J. Parker name as well but I won’t go into the works he publishes here. 
  • Born September 13, 1974 Fiona Avery, 49. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with three spin-offs of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb RaiderSpider-ManX-Men and Witchblade as well. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) CHENGDU WORLDCON NEWS. A three-part news release primarily devoted to a name for the Chengdu Worldcon mascot and its slogan – “Meet The Future! Slogan and Mascot’s Name for 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Announced” – included this segment publicizing some of the guests and programs, from which Sergey Lukianenko’s name is conspicuously absent.

…This year, the Committee has invited famous sci-fi activists such as Ben Yalow and Dave McCarty, as well as sci-fi litterateurs such as Robert Sawyer and Liu Cixin to bring a sci-fi literature feast to sci-fi fans. Meanwhile, Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop founder, who has won five Oscars for Best Visual Effects, and prominent figures in the Chinese sci-fi industry such as directors Guo Fan and Yang Lei, will attend the convention. They will engage in in-depth discussions on topics related to the fusion and development of science and technology innovation, culture, cultural tourism, and cultural creativity.

According to Liang Xiaolan, the full-time chairman of the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon and the vice president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Association, the convention will hold about 260 themed salons and parties, which are divided into eight categories: Science Fiction and Literature, Science Fiction and Art, Science Fiction and Film and TV, Science Fiction and Games (Animation), Science Fiction and Academics, Science Fiction and Technology, Science Fiction and Future, and Science Fiction and Industry. “For example, in the Science Fiction and literature section, there will be salons like Liu Cixin’s ‘A Sci-fi Reunion After 10 Years’, and Robert Sawyer’s ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Science Fiction’; In the Science Fiction and Technology section, we will discuss ‘How Far Are We From Space Travel?’ In the Science Fiction and Film and TV section, there will be a ’Sci-fi Film Special Effects Summit’; In the Science Fiction and Art section, there will be a ‘Three-Body Themed Concert’; In the Science Fiction and Games section, we will release the International Sci-fi Gaming Ranking,” Liang said….

(13) NANCY AND ZIPPY. “Bill Griffith on Love, Loss and the Lives of Ernie Bushmiller and Diane Noomin” at the Comics Journal – “Long and moving,” says Andrew Porter.

There are scenes in both Three Rocks and The Buildings are Barking that converge for me. Toward the end of the Diane book, there’s a haunting scene where she appears to you on a sort of “ghost ferry,” and she’s beckoning to you, in a dream sequence, to come join her. It’s very powerful, very sad, very beautifully rendered, and it’s heartbreaking. And toward the end of Three Rocks you have Ernie—toward the end of his life—snoozing on his chair, and Nancy, in another dream sequence, is in some ways doing the same thing to Ernie. Calling on him to follow her.

So that’s me recognizing that parallel– or, under the reality that we’re all experiencing together, there is another reality. It’s just there. It’s there to find. Or create. In that dream sequence in Three Rocks, the conceit is that Nancy is doing this. I’m not doing this. Ernie is not. Nancy is doing this. So, I am saying something that I have said throughout the book, which is that Nancy is a powerful figure. She both represents and controls the world she is in. And Ernie’s world as well. Some people thought she was a child that Ernie and Abbie never had. That’s a little sentimentalized, but possible. And before that dream sequence, I’ve used Nancy in these transitional sections throughout the book where Nancy is taking you from the previous chapter, in effect, to the next chapter. Once again, it’s Nancy, physically, the drawing. Yes, I’m writing it, but it’s Nancy [who is doing it].

In the dream sequence, she’s just pure Nancy. To me, because there’s no writing going on until the very end. It came out of a conversation I had with [Nancy collector and producer/writer for The Simpsons] Tom Gammill, and I’ve also heard the same thing from Mark [Newgarden]. That Ernie would always say that he’s looking for “the perfect gag.” There’s always a more perfect gag that he can’t quite find. The most perfect gag ever. [Laughs] Which I think is a little bit… romanticizing. Either people who heard Ernie say it, or they themselves, romanticized it. It seems a little bit like false humility. In other words, “I’m not all that funny, I’m still looking for the perfect gag. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know.” It’s like a way of deflecting, that he’s a great cartoonist or a funny guy….

(14) BEAMS CHOICE. “The Influence of Star Trek and Science Fiction on Real Science” at Smithsonian Magazine, an excerpt from Reality Ahead of Schedule: How Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact

…To trace the roots of Star Trek’s replicator, it is necessary to understand that it is essentially a repurposed form of the transporter—the teleportation or matter transmission device that “beams” the crew between starship and planet surface. According to legend, the transporter was invented only because the original series lacked the budget to film special, effect-heavy scenes of planetary landing shuttles, but Star Trek did not invent the concept of matter transmission. Its first appearance in science fiction dates back at least as far as 1877, in Edward Page Mitchell’s story “The Man Without a Body,” which prefigures George Langelaan’s much better-known 1957 story “The Fly,” by having a scientist experience a teleportation mishap when his batteries die while he is only partway through a transmission, so that only his head rematerializes.

The replicator uses the same basic principle as the transporter, in which the atomic structure of a physical object is scanned and the information is used to reconstruct the object at the “receiving” end through energy-matter conversion. In practice, all transporters are replicators and matter “transmission” is a misnomer, because matter itself is not transmitted, only information. Every time Captain Kirk steps out of the transporter having “beamed up” from a planet’s surface, it is, in fact, a copy of him—the original has been disintegrated during the initial phase of the operation.

This was precisely the mechanism of teleportation explored in one of the earliest stories on this theme. In Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1910 story “Remote Projection,” an inventor finds that his teleporter is actually a replicator and ends up with 841 identical copies of himself scattered around the world. This idea anticipated the well-known Teletransporter philosophy thought experiment by British philosopher Derek Parfit, which explored questions of continuity of identity. If a transporter is actually a replicator, is the Captain Kirk that steps off the transporter pad the same as the one that was “beamed up” from the planet? If the planet-side Kirk is not disintegrated in the process, and survives the process, which of the two Kirks is the “real” one? Star Trek TNG explored this precise scenario as an ongoing story line, after an episode (“Second Chances,” 1993) featuring a transporter malfunction that results in two copies of the character Will Riker—one who materializes on board his ship and the other who is stranded on a planet. The planet-side copy eventually chooses to be known as Tom Riker….

(15) BID ARAGORN REMEMBER. Far Out Magazine counts this as “The movie with the largest battle scene of all time”.

…However, the formula for creating monumental battle scenes saw a paradigm shift as we moved into the digital age. It was no longer just about recruiting an army of extras and meticulously planning every combat move. Instead, the magic started happening in the digital realm, thanks to pioneering technology developed by New Zealand-based Weta Digital.

Enter Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. With the assistance of Weta Digital’s specialised crowd-simulation software, the movies shattered all previous records by featuring battles with an unprecedented 200,000 characters. The program, sensibly named Massive, fused digital animation with early artificial intelligence to govern individual character interactions, creating a spectacle of unparalleled scale and complexity.

What sets Massive apart is its innovative use of AI, allowing each digitally-created soldier to act and react in ways that mimic real-life human behaviour – not just this, but to do it ‘independently’. By allowing the program to govern the movements, animators were spared from tailoring the movements of each of the 200,000 figures. This leap in technology generated battle scenes that were vast in scale and eerily realistic. The technology altered the very foundations of what directors considered possible, raising the bar for epic cinema to an entirely new level….

(16) A SIGNATURE OF LIFE? Mashable reports an intriguing James Webb Space Telescope discovery: “Webb finds a molecule made by microbial life in another world”.

While the James Webb Space Telescope observed the atmosphere of an alien world 120 light-years away, it picked up hints of a substance only made by living things — at least, that is, on Earth.

This molecule, known as dimethyl sulfide, is primarily produced by phytoplankton, microscopic plant-like organisms in salty seas as well as freshwater.

The detection by Webb, a powerful infrared telescope in space run by NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies, is part of a new investigation into K2-18 b, an exoplanet almost nine times Earth’s mass in the constellation Leo. The study also found an abundance of carbon-bearing molecules, such as methane and carbon dioxide. This discovery bolsters previous work suggesting the distant world has a hydrogen-rich atmosphere hanging over an ocean.

Such planets believed to exist in the universe are called Hycean, combining the words “hydrogen” and “ocean.”

“This (dimethyl sulfide) molecule is unique to life on Earth: There is no other way this molecule is produced on Earth,” said astronomer Nikku Madhusudhan in a University of Cambridge video. “So it has been predicted to be a very good biosignature in exoplanets and habitable exoplanets, including Hycean worlds.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The new miniseries of Star Trek: Very Short Treks continues with “Holiday Party” about a “blooper reel” that’s mostly not actually funny, which is the point.

It’s a First Contact Day celebration and Spock is in charge of the entertainment.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, JJ, Lise Andreasen, Mark Roth-Whitroth, Andrew Gillsmith, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lou.]

28 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/13/23 Scroll Your Pixels Well

  1. (1) That sounds very powerful. I’m going to set time aside to look at it. (I know it might make some people angry toward Ursula K. Le Guin, but they can go… mumble.)

    (4) Clenches teeth

    (10a) From what I have heard of the plots, I think the Destroyer is at least genre-adjacent.

    (10b) I’ve picked up some “The Warlord” back issues lately whenever possible. I wish they could be reprinted in a gorgeous collection, and I’m sure there is some reason that hasn’t happened (such as rights disputes).

    (12) This is getting odd…

  2. (14) Typical: for once, I was placed to leave the first comment, and the broadband I’m using crashed. Anyway, I was about to tecommend the excellent Canadian cartoon ‘To Be’ (1990), which explores teleportation as a mechanism for absolution of mortal sin.

  3. (8) And today is the 24th anniversary of the day our beloved Moon and Moonbase were lost.

  4. (14) ISTR there was one episode of TOS where Kirk’s mind switches with an ex-GF’s in beaming.
    And Duane postulated incomplete transports as a storage method for things like coffee beans.

  5. (9) Second para, you’ve got a plaque of demons.
    (14) Makes me glad I have food printers….
    (15) Boy, I’m glad I refused to see that. Mammoths were never that big, and where the hell are Aragorn’s guards (no leader is without a team around him), and 200,000? Really? There’s what, 10,000 Rohirrim, and no, sorry, about a quarter of that’s more reasonable.

  6. “Turnabout Intruder” – but that had nothing to do with the transporter – it was a different device. Kirk was split into two duplicates by the transporter once, so that happened.

  7. 10) Tom Holt’s best novels are the diptych GOAT SONG and THE WALLED ORCHARD (later published in one volume under the latter title) — this is a true masterpiece both in the old sense (it proved he was a “master novelist”) and in the newer sense (a special work, a great work). I got everyone on the old usenet newsgroup alt.books.tom-hot mad at me when I suggested that, until Holt himself showed up to calm everyone down. But, really — read them — they are utterly brilliant, comedy of the very blackest sort, and tragedy as well. Set in Ancient Greece, not fantasy except that the characters really believe in things we consider mythological now. He wrote some other books in the same mode, nowadays published as by “Thomas Holt”.

    I wrote in Locus once that one of his K. J. Parker novellas reminded me of nothing so much as THE WALLED ORCHARD and we had to ask Holt for permission to say as much — this was before the pseudonym was revealed. (He didn’t mind, and while I was somewhat sure that Holt was Parker (due to voice, mostly, but also a certain way his work treats the relationship of men and women), I didn’t really know until I heard that response.)

    Anyway, a great writer. The comic fantasies are plenty of fun, but they are the least of his work. The best K. J. Parker stories are also truly great — THE ENGINEER’S TRILOGY and “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” perhaps the best.

  8. P J Evans: “ (14) ISTR there was one episode of TOS where Kirk’s mind switches with an ex-GF’s in beaming.”

    Not quite. It’s the final episode of the original series, ‘Turnabout Intruder’, and involves an alien mind exchange device rather than the transporter.

  9. Anne Marble says I’ve picked up some “The Warlord” back issues lately whenever possible. I wish they could be reprinted in a gorgeous collection, and I’m sure there is some reason that hasn’t happened (such as rights disputes).

    A lot of his story runs have been collected such as Starslsyer and Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters but I looked though Apple Books Kindle and Kobo for that story and it’s not been collected yet.

  10. (6) Should be mentioned that Noah Hawley is also the creator and scriptwriter of the TV series Fargo, which we know from its second season is genre. I’ve read that the 5th and possibly final season is coming in November.

  11. Rich Lynch says Should be mentioned that Noah Hawley is also the creator and scriptwriter of the TV series Fargo, which we know from its second season is genre. I’ve read that the 5th and possibly final season is coming in November.

    What an ddd airing history it has — three seasons between 2014 and 2016, one in 2020 and yes there will a ten episode fifth season slated to start on the 21st of November this year. And the showrunner did say this season will wrap everything up.

  12. I saw Barbara Bain and Martin Laudau on a talk show pitching the series. “Of course, we’ll pick up the “Star Trek” fans. (Strike one, very bad assumption that Star Trek fans will automatically drift to any SF show, no matter the approach, production quality, writing, direction, or acting–and I did not have any affinity with either Bain or Landau.)

    I saw one episode of “Space: 1999” but tuned out at the first audible explosion in space. (Strike 2, ignoring science altogether is not a good think of you want science fiction fans to follow a series. Ignorance of physics and space science is not conducive to believability.)

    I didn’t wait for Strike 3. I never watched it after the first example. I have never regretted it.

  13. (12) So, the non-Chinese members of the committee have made the Chinese members understand that Lukyanenko is an embarrassment?

    (6) Of course it’s going to be a Potemkin village. I’ve never thought there was the slightest chance they wouldn’t celebrate Liu Cixin. I suspect that unlike the Russian genocide supporter, they can’t even de-emphasize him, even if they wanted to.

    (8) I have no idea why we need a documentary on the Space:1999 spaceship. But then, I saw only a few episodes, and none of them made sense to me.

    Am I being cranky? Probably very cranky. I drove to my favorite bookstore, which is over an hour away. It was a great visit, but I’m not used to driving that long these days, and my legs aren’t what they used to be even a few weeks ago. Then for supper I discovered the travesty that is Aloha chicken.

    And I am beginning to believe that my legs will tolerate only a very few positions.

  14. I’ve got a lot of time for Space: 1999 – the first season, at least, with the innovative set designs, high production values, and weirdly ambitious scripts. (The second and final season – produced by Fred Freiberger, who was evidently the guy to call when you wanted to add “and final” to a genre TV show – was a cheaply made and woefully written travesty that is sadly too bad to be completely forgettable.)

    But that first season was, as I said, weirdly ambitious. It was an attempt to show the wonder and the mystery – and, quite often, the terror – of space, with the hapless crew of Moonbase Alpha encountering things they didn’t, and maybe couldn’t, understand. Of course, being so ambitious, it often overreached itself and fell flat on its face – but when it worked, it was amazing. The best episode, for me at least, was “The Restless Spirit”, a genuinely scary ghost story which also epitomized the show’s main concept – it’s clear that there’s some scientific explanation for what happens, it’s just that their science isn’t advanced enough to find it.

    It didn’t help that the show was released on the 1970s ITV commercial network(s), which is to say, piecemeal and with the episodes in any order. If you get a DVD box set and watch them in the intended order… well, it’s still not a show to watch if you are serious about physics, but it starts to make a little more sense, and you can see an arc to it (and even some long-term character arcs, too.) The first episode shows a mission to a rogue planet at the fringes of the solar system in the final stages of preparation, only for it to be rudely interrupted by the massive explosion that hurls the moon into deep space. The second shows the moonbase crew meeting cosmic high weirdness on that rogue planet. The third sees the moon sucked through a black hole, and spat out again in a region of space where the stars are much closer together than they are in our solar system’s neck of the woods. This is explicitly happening under the guidance of a Higher Power (God, or a Sufficiently Advanced alien? Who knows?) whose purpose – reviving the dead world of Arkadia – is made clear in the final episode.

    So… It’s all more coherent than it looks, honestly. And, though some bits of it are bad enough to make you weep, there are enough good bits that it qualifies as a flawed classic rather than a dud. (The first season, that is. The second season, featuring cheap sets, silly plastic-head-on-a-gorilla-suit monsters, a planet named after a town in Bedfordshire, and the galaxy endangered by a tango-dancing android, can go stuff itself as far as I’m concerned.)

  15. (6) Adam Hochschild is a real “get” for this event. King Leopold’s Ghost is an unflinching (and necessary) condemnation of an atrocity that I can’t recommend more highly.

  16. Congratulations to Andrew Gillsmith on taking a principled stand.

    The promise of huge perks for naming the con’s mascot shows yet again that the Chengdu Worldcon is not a normal fan-run convention. I’ve tried to temper my criticism of Ben Yalow because of all he’s done for fandom, but really, at this point he should just walk away from the con if he has any integrity. SMOFs should not lend their name to this travesty.

  17. 8) When it first aired, I was at just about the right age for Space: 1999 (about 7); sadly, these days I am not the right age for it.

    Having said which, the Eagle remains one of my favorite fictional ship designs (It’s such an industrial design for a workhorse ship), and I vividly remember one episode (Dragon’s Domain) scaring the pants off of me when I first saw it.

  18. (6) Kudos to Andrew Gillsmith.
    (12) At this point about all I have left to say is that Robert Sawyer should be ashamed of himself.

  19. Hi all. What I’m going to link further down has no relevance to today’s file, and no direct relevance to SFF, but I thought it might be of interest, particularly to those of us involved in conrunning. Mike, if you think otherwise, feel free to strike this post – it’s your blog.

    I’ve been a con-goer since Novacon 8 in 1978, involved in conrunning from gopher to committee member, and will be attending BristolCon next month and WorldCon next year. I’m also a fan of YouTube reaction videos, including those of the roadie, guitar tech and tour manager ‘TankTheTech’.

    The parallels between SFF conventions, Beer Festivals (which I’ve also staffed and committeed) and Rock Festivals are, I hope, obvious. Tank has just posted a 37min video about his experience as Tour Manager for Electric Callboy (formerly Eskimo Callboy), a German comedy ‘electronicore’ band, at the very recent Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Virginia. Here’s the link:

    I think the Conrunning community can pride itself that, despite being amateur and volunteer, it very rarely fouls up as badly as this professionally run event. At the same time, it points to an organisational interface from which such a foul-up can potentially arise.

  20. If, like me, your attention span is too short to watch a 30 minute video without being pretty sure you’ll be interested in it, here’s a TL;DR summary.

  21. 12) My first thought is to wonder if there is a difference between the English and Chinese versions of this announcement? I’m getting too cynical.

  22. (9) I loved A Plague of Demons when I read it all those years ago. From what I remember, it had a well-done sense of paranoia and the quick pace was a delight. I think it was a little (only a little!) less enjoyable when it [spoiler]became some sort of tie-in to the BOLO series[/spoiler] toward the end.
    Does the shorter version have that in it?

    (sorry. not certain how to spoilerise things)

  23. @Markle Sparkle: That’s exactly my remembrance of A Plague of Demons, also. Parts of it were really quite effectively creepy, but it’s not quite the same after the .

    To avoid spoilers, you can use rot13, which is a simple alphabetic shift to make text unreadable without running it through rot13. It produces text like this: Gur ynfg cneg bs gur abiry, nsgre gur cebgntbavfg trgf xvyyrq naq uvf oenva erzbirq naq vafgnyyrq va n onggyr-gnax, whfg qbrfa’g zngpu hc gb gur erfg bs vg. (Well, it’s unreadable unless you spend way too much time around here. ;))

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