Pixel Scroll 9/17/19 Lady Scrollhill’s Rosebud Pixlet

(1) HEADHUNTING. LAD Bible previews a project coming to YouTube on September 25: “A Mockumentary Has Been Made About Star Wars’ Most Famous Blooper”.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… a stormtrooper smashed their head on a door in the Death Star – and people have been wanting to know who it was ever since.

The scene occurs in Star Wars: A New Hope and has become a cult moment for Warsies (that’s what Star Wars fans call themselves apparently). Now, a filmmaker has taken it upon himself to make a mockumentary about the blunder, entitled The Empire Strikes Door.

(2) YOUR BEDTIME IT IS. The Disney Bedtime Hotline is back online. Polygon tells how “You can now call Yoda to wish you a good night”.

Good news to all the insomniacs out there. Disney’s Bedtime Hotline returns from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30. The hotline which debuted last August, gave fans a chance to hear bedtime messages from the core Disney cast of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, or Goofy.

The hotline returns for the next two weeks, this time with a lineup taking advantage of Disney’s full trove of IP. In addition to Mickey, callers can also get messages from Woody, Jasmine, and Elsa and Anna, as well as as some unexpected choices from Disney properties. Specifically Yoda and Spider-Man.

That’s right, Yoda is a Disney character and now he tells you about the importance of sleep as you curl up for the night.

Calling 1-877-7-MICKEY — toll free!

(3) FULL FATHOM FIVE. In The Guardian’s weekly segment on “Jumping The Shark,” Ben Gazur contends this is “How Babylon 5 went from space opera to space junk”.

Babylon 5 was a show that should never have been commissioned. Five seasons of the United Nations set in space, anyone? Well, set your phasers to stunned because while Star Trek gets all the glory – what with its big-name actors, great special effects and lasting cultural cachet – it was Babylon 5 that became every true sci-fi fan’s secret favourite.

(4) PREVIEWS OF MOUNT TBR. NPR’s Caitlyn Paxson reports on “3 Crackling Young Adult Reads To Welcome Fall”, two of which are genre works.

In Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, angels have rid the city of Lucille of all its monsters. That’s what Jam has been taught, and she has no reason to doubt it, as she lives a happy life surrounded by her loving parents and her best friend, Redemption. No reason, until a strange and frightening creature crawls out of one of her mother’s paintings, intent on hunt down a monster hiding in their midst. The creature is called Pet, and it tells Jam that her duty is to help search out the evil that has taken root in Redemption’s house. Jam isn’t sure she’s the right person for the task — but what choice does she have, when no one else will even admit that there may still be monsters lurking in the shadows?

…After making her entrance last year with The Light Between Worlds, which asked what happens to the children cast out of portal fantasies once the adventure is over, Laura Weymouth returns with A Treason of Thorns, a full-on alternate history fantasy that imagines an England that is home to Great Houses — sentient buildings that enrich or destroy their regions depending on how well they are managed by their human Caretaker.

(5) JANIS IAN DONATES COLLECTION. Brown University Library announced the acquisition: “Network of Women Writers and Readers Crux of John Hay Library’s Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy”.

The John Hay Library is now home to renowned recording artist, writer, and activist Janis Ian’s collection of personally inscribed works of science fiction and fantasy, many by women and LGBTQ authors. 

The John Hay Library at Brown University is delighted to announce the acquisition of Janis Ian’s personal library, including collections of books of contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors inscribed to her. Among these authors are Anne McCaffrey, George R. R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Diane Duane, and many others. In all, the Library received approximately 200 volumes from Ms. Ian’s collection.

(6) STALLMAN GONE. “Richard Stallman Resigns from MIT”Slashdot has the story.He’s also resigned as President from the Free Software Foundation.

Multiple Slashdotters are reporting the unfortunate news that famed free software advocate and computer scientist Richard Stallman has resigned from MIT. Slashdot reader iamacat writes:

Following outrage over his remarks about Jefferey Epstein’s victims, Richard Stallman has resigned from his position in MIT, effective immediately.

Stallman wrote in an email,

I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.

CSAIL is MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

(7) MESSAGE FROM PTERRY? “‘Grim reaper’ stolen from Russian street” – he was gone in sixty seconds.

The Russian city of Arkhangelsk caused a stir by putting up a statue of the Grim Reaper on a roadside to put motorists off speeding, only for thieves to steal it later in the day….

The black-shrouded figure, made to order by a craftsman from local pine, was meant to “discourage drivers from speeding up on that stretch of road since it’s been repaired”, spokeswoman Tatyana Simindei told the site.


  • September 17, 1964Mothra Vs. Godzilla premiered in the U.S.
  • September 17, 1976 — NASA named its first Space Shuttle after a starship from some sci-fi TV show – Enterprise.
  • September 17, 1978 — The original Battlestar Galactica premiered on television. It would last but a single season.
  • September 17, 1982 The Powers of Matthew Star first aired. It ran one season. Harve Bennett (Trek films II–V) was one of its creators and Leonard Nimoy directed the “Triangle” episode while Walter Koenig wrote the “Mother” episode. The original pilot, “ Starr Knight” as written by Steven E. de Souza, writer of The Running Man aired as the final episode. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17, 1908 John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. I’ve not read them, so how are they as SF?  None of these appear to be available from iBooks but they’re available from Kindle. 
  • Born September 17, 1917 Art Widner. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created  Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed  look at him here. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 17, 1920 Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. (Died 2012.)   
  • Born September 17, 1920 Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 17, 1939 Sandra Gimpel, 80. Performer and stunt woman. Though you’ll literally not recognize her, she was the salt monster aka the M-113 creature (as it was called in the credits) in “The Man Trap” episode of the original Trek. In “The Cage” episode, she played a Talosian. As a stunt woman, she’s been on genre shows ranging from Lost in Space to Lucifer and even appeared on films like Escape from New York
  • Born September 17, 1951 Cassandra Peterson,68. Definitely better known as Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, a character she’s played on TV and in movies, becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation in LA in 1981. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
  • Born September 17, 1962 Paul Feig, 56. I see that he and Katie Dippold were nominated but didn’t win a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation for their Ghostbusters film. How did it do in the actual voting? 
  • Born September 17, 1965 Bryan Singer, 54. Director of such genre film as including X-MenSuperman ReturnsX-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse
  • Born September 17, 1973 Jonathan Morris, 46. SFF television series are fertile grounds for creating spinoff book series and Doctor Who is no exception. This writer has only written four such novels to date but oh, the number of Big Finish audiobooks that he’s written scripts for now numbers in the high forties if I include the Companions and the Jago & Lightfoot series as well. 

(10) LEGO’S NEW GLOBAL CAMPAIGN. From behind a paywall at The Drum:

…The result is ‘Rebuild the World’, Lego’s most significant global brand campaign since the 90s, which was created by BETC in collaboration with The Lego Agency.

Ultimately, the push seeks to position the toy as something that can strengthen creative resilience and problem-solving capabilities in kids – an idea originally floated by BETC in a world where children are more likely to pick up an iPad than open a toybox.

Underpinned by bold, playful creative that will run across TV, online, OOH and cinema, Marcelli describes the campaign as “a new, modern expression of the true, deep foundations” of the brand, and the “perfect interpretation” of its mission to inspire future generations.

At the heart of the drive is a film directed by Traktor Creative, a duo who have previously worked with The Prodigy and Madonna, which shows what the world would look like if it obeyed the rules of Lego play.

(11) DON’T LESNERIZE. “Common cold stopped by experimental approach” reports BBC.

Scientists think they have found a way to stop the common cold and closely related viruses which can cause paralysis.

Instead of trying to attack them directly, the researchers targeted an essential protein inside our cells which the viruses need to replicate.

The approach gave “complete protection” in experiments on mice and human lung cells.

However, the US-based researchers are not ready for trials in people.

(12) THE BUZZ. You are invited to “Meet The Nuclear-Powered Self-Driving Drone NASA Is Sending To A Moon Of Saturn” — includes video simulation.

On the face of it, NASA’s newest probe sounds incredible. Known as Dragonfly, it is a dual-rotor quadcopter (technically an octocopter, even more technically an X8 octocopter); it’s roughly the size of a compact car; it’s completely autonomous; it’s nuclear powered; and it will hover above the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

…”Almost everyone who gets exposed to Dragonfly has a similar thought process. The first time you see it, you think: ‘You gotta be kidding, that’s crazy,’ ” says Doug Adams, the mission’s spacecraft systems engineer. But, he says, “eventually, you come to realize that this is a highly executable mission.”

NASA reached that conclusion when, after a lot of careful study, it gave Dragonfly the green light earlier this summer. “This revolutionary mission would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said when the roughly $1 billion project was selected in June. “A great nation does great things.”

For Shannon MacKenzie, a postdoc on the mission, there’s no destination that could be greater than Titan. The largest moon of Saturn, it has dunes, mountains, gullies and even rivers and lakes — though on Titan, it’s so cold the lakes are filled with liquid methane, not water.

“It is this complete package,” she says. “It’s this really unique place in the solar system where all of these different processes are coming together in a very Earthlike way.”

(13) NOT-SO-HOT BOTS. BBC asks, “Russia and robots: Steel junk or a brave new world?”

Russia likes to boast of its robots – but at the same time it seems to have a somewhat troubled relationship with them.

It has endured a series of very public robotic mishaps, but all is not lost.

Amid much fanfare and praise for the Roscosmos space agency, Russian robot Fedor was launched into space on board a Soyuz 14 spacecraft in August.

Fedor made history as the first such robot ever to be sent into space by Russia, and within moments he was reporting on his progress and all was apparently going to plan.But then, mission control in Houston broke the news that Fedor’s attempt to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) had to be aborted because of a technical problem.

Before his spaceflight, Fedor had been busy impressing observers with his activities. State TV showed him driving a car, firing guns and doing push-ups – but sceptics were critical. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was scathing in a post on Twitter.

“This Fedor the robot is what the Putin regime is all about. The PR idiots at Roscosmos came up with the idea, and engineers had to send a hundred kilos of useless steel junk into orbit,” Navalny wrote…

Alyosha, Boris and Igoryok

Last year, a robot called Boris made an appearance on national television. He announced that he was good at mathematics, but added that he would like to learn how to compose music. He also danced.

Before Boris, Russian TV also reported excitedly about another robot, a huge steel thing called Igoryok, but nobody’s seen it move – or even do anything….

(14) FATHER AND SON HORROR. Netflix has released a trailer for In the Tall Grass, a film based on a novella by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. It becomes available October 4.  

Some places have a mind of their own. Based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, when siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

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50 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/17/19 Lady Scrollhill’s Rosebud Pixlet

  1. (9) Bryan Singer didn’t direct Star Trek Nemesis; Stuart Baird did (and hasn’t directed a feature since).

  2. 3) I mean, the Hugos are one thing, but who wants to argue about the last season of Babylon 5? I would put forward that despite it’s terrible terrible pacing, that the series is truly incomplete without the conclusion of Londo and G’Kar’s plot, which were some of the most powerful emotional moments of the show, and I actually really liked Lochley.

    5) Janis Ian’s SF nerdery never fails to make me d’awwwwwww.

    12) That’s unbelievably cool.

  3. 8) Battlestar Galactica didn’t get a second season under its own name, but it was retooled as Galactica 1980, a show that, even at the age of REDACTED, I could tell was dire (excepting one episode that was really damn good).

  4. (3) I am that guy who for whatever reason still hasn’t seen Babylon 5. And after reading that article… I now know exactly as much about Babylon 5 as I did before. It reads like a placeholder for a piece of criticism someone was planning to write but never actually got around to writing.

  5. @ Muccamukk:

    Having recently re-watched all five seasons (again), the fifth season is… flawed. It is mostly flawed from the uncertainty about its funding, causing most of hte meat to be shoved into season 4. However, there’s also a lot of things in season 5 that are among the things that I remember fondly about the series.

    I think I would like to see the seasons 4 & 5 that would’ve been, had season 5 been funded very early in season 4. But, as is, I am happy we have the season 5 htat we have, and it is by no means a bad season. All in all, I’d probably rate it higher than season 1.

  6. @Eli: Watch Babylon 5 for the bracing antidote to Trek-established certainties that the protagonists are going to be OK and prevail, that morals are easy to sort out, that upsetting things will reset to normal, and that humans are automatically the good guys. Watch it for the many good speeches that may be far more articulate than real people would ever be, but are nonetheless damned fine.

    Watch it for the ‘Oh no!’ season-ending episodes, especially season 3’s.

    Watch it for the amazement of realising that the pleasant, neatly dressed man who suddenly shows up on-station wanting to help people, asking only ‘What do you want?’, and always tells the plain truth, is the most dangerous and twisty person there.

    Watch it for the relationship between Ambassador Londo Mollari and Ambassador G’Kar, where two great character actors used those roles to great effect.

    And watch it for any number of great lines. And of course Zathras and his brothers Zathras, Zathras, Zathras, Zathras, Zathras, Zathras, Zathras, Zathras, and Zathras. (Search YouTube for the Zathras scenes.)

  7. I’m Zathras. This is my brother Zathras, and this is my other brother Zathras.

    (Come to think of it, there are a surprising number of parallels between Babylon 5 and Newhart.)

  8. 8) What I remember about the Battlestar Galactica premiere: Having to watch it on the little black & white TV because the rest of the family wanted to watch Wonderful World of Disney on the color TV in the living room. And being absolutely INCENSED when they interrupted the pilot for a news conference about the signing of the Camp David peace accords.

  9. @Muccamukk: Agreed about the end of Londo and G’Kar’s arcs, as well as Vir’s.

    (6) “unfortunate news” pfeh. What’s “unfortunate” is how his attitudes and behaviors led to him creeping on women and contributing to driving them from the field. What’s even more “unfortunate” is MIT and others, including Slashdot, enabling him.

  10. @Andrew: Yep.

    There’s an episode they had planned but never got to make that was a take on the Book of Enoch. It looks like it would have been gloriously weird.

  11. Books read:
    Jade War – Fonda Lee. I liked this second book even more than the first. While there are many SFF books featuring criminal gangs, none of the other ones has the feel of Godfather, halfway through the books the protagonists switch from regular crime to saving the world. That hasn’t happened in this series.

    An Unkindness of Magicians – Kat Howard
    Its the time of the turning, when magicians lay secret plans and duel for power. Fascinating world building and characters. The ending wasn’t quite satisfying though.

    The Outside – Ada Hoffman
    Set in a far future galaxy ruled by AI ‘gods’. A brilliant scientist who has never wanted to have anything to do with the gods nevertheless gets drawn into their affairs after an experiment goes disastrously wrong. But what is the right thing to do and who should she trust? This book has great world building and engaging characters. But somehow I kept expecting more revelations about the true nature of things that never came – for the most part, what we are told initially is the way things really are. I’ve never had such a weird mismatch with expectations before and I don’t know what caused it.

  12. (12) “The Menace From Titan” (my title)… the text leaves out, or at least, ahem, drives around, this piece (from the NPR article cited):

    Titan has one more feature that’s worth noting: Although its mainly nitrogen atmosphere is denser than Earth’s, its gravity is far lower. That makes it the perfect place to take to the skies.

    “The conditions on Titan make it easier to fly there than on Earth,” says Peter Bedini, the Dragonfly project manager…

    When I heard the segment on NPR earlier this morning, it brought to mind Heinlein’s moon-based story, “The Menace From Earth,” with the pressurized area where residents (and tourists) could don lightweight wings and fly. (That’s not the plot, tho.)
    That said, given the drone is “roughly the size of a compact car,” I hope they name it Lola (after Shield agent Phil Coulsen’s flying car, which, says https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/S.H.I.E.L.D._Flying_Car, was named after his ex-fiancee and also stands for Low-Orbit Liftoff Automobile).

  13. I gave up on B5 after season 4.

    It reminded me a lot of a style of bad roleplaying game.
    You know the one where the GM has put vast amounts of work into the background, but none of the players are THAT into it?
    Where the climatic session is mainly the GM having an argument between two NPCs (both with distinctly throat destroying silly voices) while the PCs watch.
    The one where the GM unexpectedly pulls between sessions and then has to power up a minor NPC so that his new girlfriend can be part of the game, and amazingly, it turns out her upgunned character is suddenly the most important character in the game.
    Where occasionally the infodumps become so much that the GM has to drone on for an entire session while the characters, and eventually the players are in a trance.

    Now I’m not the best GM. I’m pretty sure I’ve done all those things. But not in the same game.

  14. @Stephen Granade: Him who? Stillman has not, to the best of my knowledge, been accused of “creeping on women”.

    But I could be wrong about that, or wrong that you mean Stillman. Would you mind clarifying?

  15. John, the Slashdot piece was rather sparse, and was written by someone who was upfront about not being neutral, so I went looking for more information.

    His early apologism for pedophilia was disturbing — especially in light of his later Minsky comments — but unless there’s more to it than was found by the WIRED reporter, it doesn’t sound as though he himself was dabbling in young girls.

    He just sounds like someone with very outdated ideas about women who never got himself enlightened — which, when his job involved interaction with a lot of women in a professional context, I think is a problem. I’ve worked with guys like that, and their attitudes create a hostile, unpleasant, and demeaning workplace for women even if the guy doesn’t realize that’s what he is doing or have any deliberate intention of doing so.

  16. (3) While the first half of B5 Season Five has some serious pacing issues – largely because most of the stuff that was meant to be in it got shoved into Season Four due to what seemed to be imminent cancellation – it’s not without its charms. Both The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari and Day of the Dead are among the best individual episodes, in my opinion. The telepath arc is not good, but at least it brings Bester to the station, which is never a bad thing.

    I don’t think there’s much of anything wrong with the back half of the season that wasn’t wrong with the show as a whole. In fact, it’s one of my favourite parts of the story, and contains my single favourite scene in any television series ever. Five whole seasons worth of plot and subplot connect up, Londo Mollari finally meets his fate, and then we’re treated to one of the most perfect finales in television history.

  17. (9) My favorite Roddy McDowell genre performances are (1) the evil nephew Jeremy Evans in the first episode of the Night Gallery pilot (1969), (2) the traumatized psychic Ben Fischer in The Legend of Hell House (1973), which is a good adaptation of Matheson’s novel, and (3) washed-up TV horror-movie host Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).

  18. @8: and soon after the naming of the shuttle Enterprise, people were pointing out that the Trekfen had spent their effort on a device that would never fly. (They could have talked about “falling stylishly”, but that meme was two decades in the future.) OTOH, Wikipedia says there had been a plan to retrofit it to fly — which I don’t remember being brought up at the time. OTGH, having the Enterprise go up/down in flames (as two of the five flying shuttles did) would have been its own kind of hurt. I visited Enterprise while it was at the Smithsonian; has anyone seen it in the Intrepid museum, and if so is it well-displayed? (Much of that museum was outdoors when I saw it ~30 years ago.)

    @9: the two Palfrey works that I read were contemporary in setting, rather like Crichton but much stodgier. IIRC they were gifts, and did not inspire me to read others when I had the chance.

    I knew Stallman years before he was ~famous. He was strange and individual* even then; it’s disappointing but not surprising that his particular brand of libertarianism never got around to realizing that some people (regardless of gender) in some situations aren’t free actors and that other people should see this rather than assuming that a ~transaction is free. (It’s unclear to me that this involves attitudes about women specifically, rather than people in general.) He could just have kept his mouth shut — but he wouldn’t have been RMS if he had.
    *I suspect “unempathetic” would be fair, but that’s not a judgment I can make.

  19. I will shamefacedly admit that I never did much like Babylon 5. Sorry!

    @James —

    Meredith moment: Madeline Miller’s Circe for 99p on Amazon UK today.

    Oooo, ahhh. I’m still bitter that this book didn’t get more awards love.

  20. @John A Arkansawyer Stallman’s hit on women, specifically MIT students, in various non-okay ways, for decades. One example, given in a recent roundup on Medium, is of him telling a freshman that he was miserable and might kill himself if she didn’t go out with him. He’s been a known missing stair in the open source community for a long time.

  21. John Hertz reponds by carrier pigeon:

    When I teach Regency dancing at SF cons, my usual invitation says “Come in costume or come as you are.” All kinds of folk show up. People in street clothes of course. People in Regency clothes. Imperial storm troopers. Elves. For years there was a large orange shaggy dog.

    One evening while Babylon 5 was on the air here came Londo Mollari. He shoved a wad of Centauri paper currency into my hand and muttered “Keep it simple, kid.”

  22. @Contrarius

    My theory, after watching a reasonable amount of Babylon 5 in the company of fans, is that it needed to be re-done as an anime, with all the drama crammed one quarter the length. Which is to say, I suppose, that I can see what people like about it but it doesn’t really work for me, either.

  23. @Stephen Granade: I skimmed that Medium article and got caught on the detail about the mattress in his office. My understanding is that he literally lived in his office.

    I also got caught by the “tell him you’re a vi user” (as am I). That’s not evidence he hit on women; that’s evidence people know he’s irrational about emacs.

    I’ll read it more carefully when I have time, but when the first two anecdotes are that weak, I have my doubts there’s much there there.

  24. Spraking of TV shows I never was that much into: Battlestar Galactica is getting a… new season? Sequel? Time warp? Something?

  25. Peer on September 18, 2019 at 10:15 am said:
    Spraking of TV shows I never was that much into: Battlestar Galactica is getting a… new season? Sequel? Time warp? Something?

    A series focusing on Battlestar Bellerophon or Battlestar Acropolis? A wacky comedy series set on the casino ship Rising Star as seen in the original series?

  26. Babylon 5 is one of my heart shows.

    Yes, season 5 is a mess, which was partly due to the lack of certainty there would BE a fifth season.

    Yes, Season 1 is weak, but it does build up the series so that seasons 2-4 really just jam.

    And yes, some of the effects these days aren’t great looking.

    But still, fight me. Or better yet listen to me on the S&F podcast as Mike Underwood and I guide newbie Shaun Duke through the series. 🙂

  27. Paul Weimer on September 18, 2019 at 1:07 pm said:
    Babylon 5 is one of my heart shows.

    Amanda and I just finished listening to JMS’ autobiography on audiobook. The book is excellent, and has inspired us to return to B5. I was a rabid fan in its heyday, while she’s never seen it.

    There’s so much richness in B5’s first season that I’m really appreciating more with the benefit of hindsight. Amanda’s surprised at how good it is.

  28. You can bet STEM women talk to each other. Stallman has had a malevolent outsized metastasizing unmaking effect on women in STEM for a very long time.

  29. (9) Since you asked, and since that was one of my years, I can tell you that Ghostbusters placed 6th for the 2017 BDP(L) Hugo, behind Arrival (the winner), Hidden Figures, Rogue One, Stranger Things (Season One), and Deadpool, in that order.

  30. That B5 article is definitely not a good one. Considering the behind the scenes happenings (Claudia Christian’s last minute departure, a hotel maid throwing out Joe’s season 5 notes, lower budget, etc.), the 5th season still holds up for the most part with some interesting episodes and a good build up to the season finale.

    I didn’t warm up to Byron and knew his fate to begin with (having visited the set the day they were filming the torch scene), but it serves as a nice coda to the series.

    Also, if you haven’t read Straczynski’s biography, do so.

    In regards to the BSG spinoff (or whatever it actually is), I hope it does well and helps to convince Warner Bros. that more can be done in the Babylon 5 universe as part of their streaming service.

  31. 9) Regarding John Creasey’s Dr Palfrey series, I happen to have 5 of the 34 titles. (Some years ago I acquired from a charity shop a few dozen Creasey and “Gordon Ashe” paperbacks, old but in new condition, which I believe came from Creasey’s own library – he lived quite locally to me, and one of them has undergone extensive editing/cutting for a planned US edition and contains a holograph note from him to a copy typist.)

    Of these 5:
    * Sons of Satan (1948) features a cult with ambitions for world control, headed by a ‘New Messiah’ named Jimmy Carter(!), but no actual occult events seem to transpire – not genre so far as I can tell;

    The Mists of Fear (1955) includes artificial life manifesting as humanoids or a mysterious mist that confers invunerability and can be used (by another globally ambitious cult) to kill – definitely genre;
    The Flood (1956) describes worldwide flooding caused by water-vomiting crablike creatures bred by a mad scientist who wants to be the new Noah – genre;
    The Drought (1959), by way of contrast, has the world’s water disappearing (perhaps as a result of nuclear bomb tests), humanity’s remnants surviving on high mountains, and a plant scientist who discovers a mutated cactus that can sequester enough water to aid our survival – genre reminiscent of John Wyndham and John Christopher;
    The Blight (1968) sees a (secretly curable) plant infection used by would-be eugenicists to (reversibly) destroy the world’s forests as blackmail to get a monopoly on wood and food plants and thereby selectively reduce the world population – genre.

    So 4 out of 5 of the sample I have are genre. Z5 seems to be a sort of UN version of the Doomwatch agency, mostly dealing with international-scale criminals utilising new, often science fictional, inventions but occasionally only mundane methods. The SF Encyclopedia also invokes The Man from U.N.C.L.E., suggesting that Z5 inspired it, and details genre credentials for various other (non-Z5) works.

  32. (3) Apparently, I’m not a “true sci-fi fan”, because I bounced off of B5 after multiple attempts. Just not my cuppa. Very pretty, though.

    (6) As someone who has greatly benefited from Stallman’s work over the years, I am…entirely unsurprised at this development. The crank factor, which has always been present, seems to have been steadily increasing in recent years.

  33. Xtifr: Apparently, I’m not a “true sci-fi fan”…

    Happens to the best of us. Remind me to send you a “Get Out Of Mundania Free” card.

  34. What I remember about the original Battlestar Galactica was piling into the basement TV room with a lot of my fellow nerds, thrilled that there was a new sci fi show.

    The enthusiasm lasted about five minutes. The tipping point for me was “We’re only N microns from the moon,” to which I shouted “Nobody inhale!”

  35. Oh, the “microns” in BS Galactica – that was where I bailed, too. What were they, germs?

  36. @JJ RMS’s sex-creep ways have been one of those open secrets in the community for many years now, among faculty, staff, colleagues, and contemporaries. At this point it seems like the only high-profile software guru of that era that isn’t a milkshake duck is the Woz. It’s a bit ghoulish, I know, but if I ever see Woz trending on twitter I sincerely hope it’s because he died.

  37. Oh, for goodness sake.

    Yes, Stallman has damn well creeped on women for years. And has been a problem in the community in other ways.

    Have fun reading all about it.

    But women warning each other about him for 20+ years, and giving each other tips on how to ward off his advances (the vi thing, the plants thing, the mattress thing, etc, etc), is by no means “evidence” of anything other than that women are paranoid and lie a lot, right? *facepalm*

  38. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: I said only that the vi thing isn’t evidence of being a creeper and that was an overstatement. I’ll put it differently: If I were going to make up a joke mocking Stallman for being obsessive about emacs, that is the sort of joke I would make up. But it could also be evidence that he was a creeper. It’s just not the only possibility.

    I met him once, with my wife on our honeymoon at OCSON in 2002, the year he and Lessig keynoted. We chatted for a while, then he invited us to dinner with him. We couldn’t go. He was definitely odd. He heckled Tim O’Reilly and the CEO of RealNetworks during an interview, then went to a panel on open source in government and both heckled and offered the support of the open source community for any sort of defense project that needed its help. (I think I have that last right–the rest was memorable with or without detail.) His keynote was pretty good (though Lessig’s was maybe the most remarkable presentation I’ve ever seen).

    He’s said things I wouldn’t defend. I’m not keeping up with the case–though I sure read about it when I heard about it!–and it’s possible some act he committed has come out which is worse than anything specific I’ve heard. So although there is more that I could say, I think I’ll leave it at that.

  39. I’m certainly not planning to give up Emacs–cold dead hands, and all that. (And if I did, vi would be very near the bottom of the list of potential replacements I’d be looking at.) But in any case, Stallman hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day maintenance of, well, anything Gnu-related in a while. And from what I’ve been hearing recently, the absence of his influence may well be a net benefit to both emacs and gcc.

    (Mainly, though, I’m just hoping that Stallman’s fall from grace doesn’t make Eric Raymond think it’s his turn to shine. The last thing the Free Software world needs is more influence from people who can use the word “snowflake” unironically.)

  40. John A Arkansawyer said

    I said only that the vi thing isn’t evidence of being a creeper and that was an overstatement. I’ll put it differently: If I were going to make up a joke mocking Stallman for being obsessive about emacs, that is the sort of joke I would make up.

    If I wanted to make a joke about someone being an emac obsessive I can’t imagine putting it into a context of hitting on students. There’s no connection between those two things. But let’s go with it anyway and take a closer look at its underlying structure (“If RMS hits on you, just say ‘I’m a vi user’.”). The structure is: if [name of person] does [first thing], do [other thing] and [name of person] will stop doing [first thing]. The structure of a joke like this requires (1) that [first thing] is something unwanted, (2) that [first thing] be plausible – something that could be expected to happen – and (3) the [other thing] must be something unexpected as a response. So you’re still left with the assumption that Stallman would plausibly hit on a freshman student, let me repeat that a freshman student. And that’s just not acceptable behavior from a faculty/staff member. I see no problem with describing that behavior as being a creeper.

    And then, of course, there’s the fact that the woman giving the quote was not saying ‘here’s a joke I was told about Stallman’ but was instead relating what she clearly felt was a warning about him. I see no reason to doubt her interpretation of her experience. I’m really not sure why you’re working so hard to doubt her.

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