Pixel Scroll 9/17/18 Rossum’s Universal Robocallers

(1) MEET THE PASSENGER. Musk’s moonbound ticket buyer was introduced on a SpaceX webcast this evening. “Here’s What Elon Musk Is Charging Tourists to Fly Around the Moon”.

One thing is almost certain: the unknown passenger is ridiculously wealthy. The price for a single seat on the 100-person rocket intended to explore the moon is estimated to cost in excess of $35 million. For the inaugural passenger, it’s a massive price to pay for an adventure with no definite launch date yet.

(2) A MODEST PROPOSAL. The Washington Examiner has a series of suggestions on how the new Picard-led Trek series could please the audience (“Capt. Jean-Luc Picard is back! Here’s how to keep ‘Star Trek’ fans happy“).

  1. Pay homage to “Star Trek IV” by having Picard visit modern-day San Francisco.
  2. Reveal that every “Star Trek” movie after 1996 was actually just an elaborate Holodeck simulation.
  3. Limit the amount of mysterious energy beings to 3 per season, tops.
  4. Have Picard finally make Q shut up for, like, 20 seconds.
  5. Bring back Whoopi Goldberg. Then continue the time-honored “Next Generation” tradition of having Guinan solve everything.
  6. Actually, you know what? Picard’s back. The entire series could just be episodes of Patrick Stewart wailing on the Ressikan flute and we’d still be happy.

(3) PROTAG TIP. Ann Leckie tells readers a way to learn something about themselves.

(4) TIPTREE ON STAGE. The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man runs at Los Angeles’ Son of Semele venue from October 17-November 17.

She dared…

Part fact, part fever dream, this captivating new work opens with Alice B. Sheldon – better known to sci-fi aficionados as author James Tiptree, Jr. – contemplating suicide. Dodging in and out of reality, the play investigates gender, longing and creativity as self-exploration through one of the Science Fiction world’s greatest literary tricksters. Directed by Maureen Huskey; music by Yuval Ron.

Broadway World profiled the play in May:

The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man – Part fact, part fever dream, and part musical, this captivating new work opens with Alice B. Sheldon – better known to sci-fi aficionados as author James Tiptree, Jr. – contemplating suicide. Dodging in and out of reality, the play, with a bold musical score from award-winning world music artist Yuval Ron, investigates gender, longing and creativity as self-exploration through one of Science Fiction world’s greatest literary tricksters. Sheldon was most notable for breaking down the barriers between writing perceived as inherently ‘male’ or ‘female’. It was not publicly known until 1977 that Tiptree was, in fact, a woman. Inspired by the biography ‘James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon‘ by Julie Phillips along with ‘With Delicate Mad Hands’ by James Tiptree, Jr., Maureen Huskey wrote and directs the first production of The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man, opening October 27 and running through November 17, at Son of Semele Theater in Los Angeles.

…The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man takes imaginary license whereby Sheldon is visited by an unexpected stranger – an extraterrestrial “star caller” from one of Tiptree’s stories – who leads her on an episodic, emotional journey through the shadows of her past where, despite her life’s accomplishments, buried pain and unmet desires reside. She encounters her younger selves, her repressed lesbian love, a domineering mother, and the incarnation of her male alter-ego: James Tiptree, Jr. The play locates unexpected links between gender orientation, creative expression and mental health, and shows how science fiction became the answer to Sheldon’s struggles as a woman

Son of Semele Theater 3301 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles Los Angeles California 90004.

(5) MEXICANX ANTHOLOGY. A reader asked how to get a copy of Una realidad más amplia: Historias desde la periferia bicultural, the anthology showcasing a sampling of MexicanX talent which was funded by a Kickstarter.

Julia Rios says —

There are no print copies available because it was a very limited print run, but we will be releasing the ebook for free to the general public. The ebook will go out to backers first, and they’ll have it for a few weeks before the public gets it, but my understanding is that all of this should be happening pretty soon!

(6) NOT YOUR TYPICAL SF WRITER. Kat Hooper reviews YouTuber Hank Green’s sf novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing at Fantasy Literature.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (2018) is a delightful science fiction story with diverse characters and a fun and clever mystery to solve. The entire world is involved in trying to find clues and piece them together to figure out what the Carls want from us. On the surface, the book appears to be about our relationship with these aliens, but it’s really about our relationships with each other….

(7) HISTORY OUT LOUD. Thanks to Fanac.org you can listen to these speeches from L.A.con II, the 1984 Worldcon, by guests of honor Gordon R. Dickson and Dick Eney.

L.A.con II, the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Anaheim, CA in 1984. Introduced by Jerry Pournelle, here are the Guest of Honor speeches by Fan Guest Dick Eney and Professional Guest Gordon R. Dickson. Dick talks about his life “after” fandom, with fascinating anecdotes about foreign service. Gordy tells the story of his life and his writing. If you enjoy Gordy’s Childe saga, here’s an opportunity to hear about its origins. The end of Gordy’s talk feels chillingly appropriate for today. Thanks to the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI) for this recording.


(8) A PAINFUL JOURNEY BACK IN TIME. This post leads with a news bulletin from 1963 about the horrific church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, before Galactic Journey’s Traveler seeks solace in a new issue of F&SF: “[September 17, 1963] Places of refuge (October 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.

Deluge, by Zenna Henderson
(poetic sting by Jeanette Nichols)

Now we come to the part I was most looking forward to, the return of Zenna Henderson’s The People.  This episode of the saga is chronologically the first, showing what caused a family of humanoid espers to depart from Home and take refuge in the ruralities of America.


  • September 17, 1978 — The original Battlestar Galactica premiered on television on this date


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17 — Cassandra Peterson, age 67 best known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Where she, and I quote Wiki here, “gained fame on Los Angeles television station KHJ-TV wearing a revealing, black, gothic, cleavage-enhancing gown as host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation.”  That show evolved into similar shows down the decades.

She also has appeared in a lot of films, only a few as starring roles. In 1989, she would get a  Raspberry for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark which scored a 47% with critics at Rotten Tomato, proving neither group was the target audience.

Everything from films, action figures, trading cards, pinball machines, Halloween decor, model kits, calendars, perfume and comic books to high end statues has followed down the decades. She is genre, mostly on the comic side of things.

Now who’s birthday did I miss?

Steven H Silver’s answer would be Irene Radford, judging by today’s entry in his birthday series: “Birthday Reviews: Irene Radford’s ‘Little Red in the ‘Hood’”

…Radford has published numerous series, many of them through DAW Books, including the Dragon Nimbus, Stargods, Tess Noncoiré, and Merlin’s Descendants. She is one of the founders of Book View Café, a cooperative publisher. She has also collaborated with Bob Brown and as an editor with Deborah J. Ross, Laura Ann Gilman, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, and Brenda Clough….


(12) STAR WARS COMICS. Marvel will run all-new stories from all three Star Wars trilogies, starting in December. Here’s the promo art —

For more information, be sure to check out the Disney-Lucasfilm Publishing panel at New York Comic Con on Friday, October 5th at 3pm E.T. in Room 1A10!

(13) SEAT DANCING. Washington Post dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman interviews Fortnite players who tell her that in order to be really good at Fortnite you have to practice your virtual dance moves and good Fortnite players are good virtual dancers — “The dances in ‘Fortnite’ have become nearly as contagious as the game”.

In our increasingly impatient, data-driven society, where matters of style and aesthetics are largely seen as a waste, art for art’s sake is thriving in an unusual place — the massively popular video game “Fortnite: Battle Royale.”

The goal in “Fortnite,” as in most multiplayer shooter games, is to blow your enemies to shreds. It follows a typical “battle royale” format, where 100 players brawl until there’s only one survivor. Though it costs nothing to play, “Fortnite” is raking in higher monthly sales — $126 million, for example, in February — than its nearest competition, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.” How does “Fortnite” do this? By getting players to buy “skins” — avatar costumes — and avatar dances.


(14) STRANGE HORIZONS. Charles Payseur keeps an eye on the latest short sff in “Quick Sips – Strange Horizons 09/03/2018 & 09/10/2018″.

Strange Horizons opens September with two new short stories and poems. And the feel of these pieces very much faces the bleak and desolate for me. People who are struggling against a world that seems like a hostile waste, where they can’t find connection, where those people they care about don’t seem to stick around, don’t seem to really understand. Where they are pulled by ghosts, of those they have lost and by the ghosts of their past selves, toward ends that mean destruction or worse. It’s a rather rending month of short SFF, so let’s steel ourselves and get to the reviews!

(15) LEGO LOTR. A post from 2013 but it’s news to me — “Mind-Blowing LEGO Recreation of LOTR’s Helm’s Deep Battle”.

We’ve all seen some incredible LEGO builds before, but this one, by Rich-K & Big J, takes the cake as one of the most impressive pop culture recreations of all time! About 150,000 LEGO bricks and 1,700 mini-figures were used to recreate the Helm’s Deep battle scene from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. It took the duo about four months to construct the 160 pound, ping-pong table size creation.

Look closely and you’ll notice the small details like the catapults, ladders and towering walls.

(16) A LEAF FROM THE LIFE OF TOLKIEN. Not only Tolkien, but Dostoevsky and General Maximus from Gladiator weigh in on this lesson: “Life Echoes in Eternity: On J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Leaf by Niggle’” in Crisis Magazine.

…It was thoughts of this kind that inspired Tolkien’s doctrine of sub-creation; the artist creates because he is an imago Dei, and that of which he is an image (God) also creates. The artist’s creation has some sort of being in eternity, because God knows the artist’s work. In eternity, though, it is perfected, for God knows what it was intended to be, and what it ought to have been….

(17) FLAG. Mikayla Burns, in “‘First Man’ author, Auburn professor speaks on controversy surrounding upcoming film” in the Auburn Plainsman, interviews Auburn emeritus professor James. R. Hansen, whose biography First Man is the basis for the movie.  Hansen says the controversy surrounding the flag on the moon scene is overblown and that he has a lot of respect for Ryan Gosling’s performance as Neil Armstrong.

Hansen understands why people could receive word of the omission and think it is odd, but he said there was a lot of thought put into that decision. When viewers see the movie, they will understand the decision, Hansen said.

“I lived and breathed the production of this movie, and I understand why (it was omitted),” Hansen said. “But people just hear this one thing, and they don’t understand why it was done the way it was done and how other elements of the movie are unbelievably patriotic and American.”

(18) HOMAGE TO HARRY. At Yesterday’s Papers, “A Crowded Life in Comics – Harry Hershfield”.

On the walls were inscribed photos of Hershfield with Einstein; Hershfield with Chaplin; Hershfield with FDR; etc. One day, talking about old comics as we were, he picked up the phone and called Sylvan Byck, Comics Editor at King Features Syndicate. “I’ve got a young boy here who likes the old timers, believe it or not,” he explained. “Can you send him some old drawings?”

A week later in the mail I received a package with vintage original artwork by Herriman, Segar, Swinnerton, Opper, Jimmy Murphy, Chic Young, McManus, Alex Raymond, Westover, TAD, Hershfield himself, and others. Can someone hum, “Those Were the Days, My Friends”?

(19) ANOTHER DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. The good news is that people are still watching the recording of the Hugo ceremony. The bad news is….

(20) OXFORD. Amy Pay regales Lonely Planet readers about “Literary Oxford – a book lover’s guide to the city of dreaming spires”.

As the home of a world-renowned university, Oxford is famous as being a place for readers, writers and thinkers. It’s little wonder then that the city has spawned some of the biggest names in literature and has inspired many famous works of fiction. From JRR Tolkien and Philip Pullman to CS Lewis and Lewis Carroll, Oxford has long been the stomping ground of the literary elite, with footsteps left for visitors to trace.

(21) WHEN PUNDAY FALLS ON MONDAY. John Scalzi’s puns, quoted in yesterday’s Scroll, set off a pun epidemic in comments – and also produced this verse from regular Filer — and this really is his handle — Peer.

Now I feel pressure inside the mountain
I feel pressure, burning the peers
And I feel pressure, hollowing souls
And I feel pressure, filing the peer
And I hope you remember thee

Oh, should my pixels scroll
Then surely I’ll do the same
Confined in ticked boxes
We got too close to the Baen
Calling out Ray hold fast and we will
Watch the books burn on and on the martian side
Dandelion comes upon the wine

(With pressure from Ed Sheeran)

(22) SECRET AGENT REX. Would you buy a home from a dinosaur? Yahoo has a feature (“Jurassic Lark: Real estate agent dresses as 7-foot dinosaur to sell homes”) about a Nebraska real estate agent who dresses as a T. rex to push properties. The shower brush must really help with those short arms…

This real estate agent really had a Jurassic lark attempting to sell one of her most recent properties — by dressing in a 7-foot dinosaur costume. Realtor Bambi Chase dressed as the comedic T. rex for the home’s showcase shots, peeking out of the family abode’s shower, cooking up a storm in the kitchen and drinking a glass of wine in the garden. Chase, who works for Nebraska Realty, said she had seen a number of T. rex-costume gimmicks floating around the internet and  decided such an approach would be perfect for the real estate market.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/17/18 Rossum’s Universal Robocallers

  1. I don’t know whether it was Tanya Huff or someone else who put her “A Choice of Endings” to music and made it into an operetta… but I saw it performed live at Worldcon in 2011 and it was amazing. Seanan McGuire was the narrator, as I recall, and Bill Roper was the antagonist.

  2. To be fair, the Hugos have approximately the same ratio of musical numbers compared to the Oscars as written SF in general does to movies. 🙂

    (I’m not counting poetry–even poetry described as being set to music–here. I’m counting actual music written on the page.)

  3. I for one am very glad the Hugos don’t have musical numbers, because the musical numbers are by far the worst thing about the Oscars.

    Frankly, the nominated songs are usually not to my taste anyway and the live performance are at best forgettable and at worst utterly embarrassing like Björk and the dead swan, Robin Williams singing “Blame Canada”, while Mounties stomp across the stage, or the young man who performed the title song for one of the Daniel Craig Bond movies and failed to hit pretty much every single note.

    Good musical numbers at the Oscars are vanishingly rare. The only ones I can recall are Hugh Jackman’s opening number, where he sang “I am Wolverine”, which of course pleased the geek in me, and Pharell Williams jumping off the stage while performing “Happy” and asking the audience members, including several Oscar nominated actresses, to dance, until there were plenty of people dancing in the aisles and haute couture gowns were whirling and flying in ways never intended, revealing underwear or lack thereof. And in the end, he still lost out to “Let It Go.”

    When the Academy revealed their plans to shorten the ceremony and declared that the would no longer broadcast awarding of the technical Oscars live, I basically screamed, “Get rid of the bloody musical numbers first, cause I actually care about who wins best sound editing.”

  4. Joe H. writes: (I liked the opening sections, up to and including the attack, the assembly of the fleet, and the flight, but was kind of unimpressed with the casino planet they found.)

    OMG, BSG is the original TLJ!

  5. 22) It’s been several years since I’ve had to deal with real estate agents, but I could believe that one of my last ones was really a T-Rex or raptor… or something else cold-blooded.

    “David, I know you don’t like this house because of all the traffic in the street… but don’t worry. As soon as the city tears down the School for the Deaf nearby and builds its thoroughfare, all those cars will go away…”

    Just file your pixels in scrolls,
    And scroll your pixels away.

  6. FWIW, I hung in for quite a while. Ingray as a character didn’t really connect with me. But I was willing to hold on to see where things were going.

    She had “reasons” for trying to accomplish something. Sure.

    Her plans were half-baked. There were no serious consequences when they failed.

    I did find a couple of the secondary characters to be interesting, but the story wasn’t about them.

    What flipped it for me was a pbhcyr bs punenpgref gung qvq guvatf gung jrer ernyyl vapbafvfgrag. Gur fcnprfuvc pncgnva pbasrffrq gb univat fgbyra uvf fuvc nsgre n ovt gb-qb jurer ur pynvzrq vaabprapr naq cebqhprq qbphzragf gb whfgvsl uvf pynvzf. Gurer jnf ab ernfba sbe uvz gb pbasrff uvf frperg. Ure xabjyrqtr bs uvf frperg pna bayl qb uvz unez.

    Gura gur thl fur oebxr bhg bs cevfba qravrq ur jnf gur crefba fur unq fbhtug, raqrq hc geniryvat jvgu ure qrfcvgr bgure bcgvbaf, naq riraghnyyl pbasvezvat uvf rkvfgrapr nf gur crefba fur unq fbhtug naq raqrq hc va wnvy nf n erfhyg. Uvf frys cerfreingvba jbhyq unir orra orggre freirq ol whfg jnyxvat njnl ng nal bs gur zhygvcyr bccbeghavgvrf gung ur unq cevbe gb gung cbvag.

    Fb jura gur fcnprfuvc pncgnva naq cevfbare fubjrq dhrfgvbanoyr pbzcrgrapr, vg znqr zr dhrfgvba gur ragver senzrjbex sbe gur fgbel.

    Gura V ybbxrq onpx ba Vatenl’f zbgvingvbaf naq gur jubyr guvat sryy ncneg. Fur unq fhssvpvrag cevivyrqtr naq cbfvgvba gb qb/or nalguvat gung fur jnagrq nfvqr sebz cbyvgvpf. Fur xarj ure nqbcgvir oebgure jnf orggre ng cbyvgvpny vagevthr. Fur pbhyq unir jnyxrq njnl sebz gung nfcrpg bs yvsr naq qbar cerggl zhpu nalguvat ryfr.

    Vafgrnq fur tbrf va sbe unys-onxrq fpurzrf gung fur ynpxf gur xabjyrqtr naq novyvgl gb chyy bss. Naq vafgrnq bs gurer orvat frevbhf pbafrdhraprf, fur’f serr gb pbzr hc jvgu gur arkg unys-onxrq fpurzr.

    I would have continued on if she was the only person of questionable competence and if her failures had led to serious consequences. Instead, Dorothy Parker rose from the grave.


    When the Academy revealed their plans to shorten the ceremony and declared that the would no longer broadcast awarding of the technical Oscars live, I basically screamed, “Get rid of the bloody musical numbers first, cause I actually care about who wins best sound editing.”

    They could further cut back on the speeches and make it more watchable as well. Aside from Best Actor, Best Actress, and Lifetime Achievement, just thank some folks and move on down the road.

    “Too often … we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John F. Kennedy

  7. 5 days late to say:

    @Daniel Dern & @Mike Glyer: Great scroll title! Now how do I stop these RURs???

    @Colleen: That was a truly quite lovely comment about “Battlestar Galactica” and what it meant to you! Thank you so much for posting it; reading it made me happy.

    @Cora Buhlert: Likewise, thank you for posting about your early history with “Battlestar Galactica”! BTW my spouse & I didn’t remember Rick Springfield being in (and dieing in) the first episode, wow! I don’t remember if I saw the season opener at the time and was just clueless (or have a bad memory; yes…), or didn’t see it till years later and didn’t pick up on who it was.

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