Pixel Scroll 9/3/18 That Was The Scroll That Was

(1) CINERAMA. GeekWire’s Frank Catalano writes, “I thought you might like to know that I went behind the scenes at Seattle Cinerama, one of only three movie theaters left in the world that can show Cinerama-formatted films, and one of only two which still uses the ‘Cinerama’ name (the other one is in Hollywood)” — “Behind the scenes at Cinerama: Landmark movie house becomes an international pop culture draw”

“Seattle’s Cinerama has gone deeply into science fiction and fantasy pop culture, becoming something of a hub for new releases, including encouraging cosplay at premieres. Perhaps not a surprise, it’s owned by Paul Allen, former Microsoft co-founder and longtime science-fiction fan. The link above is to both my story, and a half-hour podcast walk-through of Seattle Cinerama with its manager.”

Walk into the theater with its wide curved screen, reclining red seats and star field-like ceiling panels and it, “just looks like a spaceship,” Caldwell said. “It truly does. You look at our screen when the curtains open and I like to think of it as the window looking out of the spaceship.” (You can take a virtual Google Maps tour here.)

But Cinerama has more than one screen. The one you see for most movies hides a second screen behind it, a deeply curved, two-thousand strip louvered Cinerama screen.

“We last brought it out in 2013,” Caldwell said. “It’s quite the undertaking actually. We have to tear down the existing screen, tear down the sound wall, and then erect the three panels of the 146-degree curved screen. And the sound wall for that curved screen.”

(2) WORLDBUILDING NEAR THE PRIMARY. Juliette Wade has an interview with Mimi Mondal at Dive into Worldbuilding. You can watch it on video, and read the synopsis:

…In 2013, Mimi wrote a self-contained story in the circus. She calls it her “most accepted story,” because it was published by Podcastle, and got her into Clarion West and into an MFA program.

I asked Mimi about the intersection between her stories and the science fiction/fantasy genre. The connection is actually quite fascinating. Mimi says she reads a lot of history and likes it. There was a big flourishing circus scene in India from the 1890’s to the 1930’s. Circus as a form was developing all over the world. In India, it took in many traditional performers. It has a Steampunk aesthetic to some degree, but is later than the Victorian period, because the values of the Victorians trickled into the colonies later. Mimi describes the circus as a very interesting social space, breaking traditional structures. There is space for mystery, and she uses it to explore Indian folklore. There are nonhumans here, pretending to be human. In the circus environment, you don’t ask questions because no one else is normal either. If you worked in an office, you would need paperwork, but the circus is not even grounded in one place because it travels. She started writing a long sequence of events, “chunk by chunk.” Her focus is on using parts of Indian mythology that are not well known. While she was writing these pieces, she was learning craft skills and working on her awareness of gaze….


(3) RADIO 4. Listen to the new Dangerous Visions drama on BBC Radio 4:

Resistance (3-part BBC radio play on BBC Radio 4)

Just broadcast this week and available on BBC i-Player for a month is a three-part radio play about antibiotic resistance.

Starting at a music festival with many from all over the globe, craft sausages from pigs fed with antibiotic growth promoters also contain more than anyone thought.

When a mysterious bacterial infection starts to spread, and then mutate, it becomes unstoppable.  When the deaths top a million, politicians start to worry…


SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says, “This mini-series used a microbiologist endorsed by the Wellcome Trust (the world’s largest medical research funding charity) for its science. Scary.”

(4) A KIND OF GAS STATION ON MARS. A Yahoo! columnist says “NASA will pay you up to $750,000 to come up with a way to turn CO2 into other molecules on Mars”.

Missions to Mars will need to be as lean as possible, meaning that using any available resources on the Red Planet will be of utmost importance. With that in mind, NASA just announced the CO2 Conversion Challenge, which asks teams of scientists and inventors to come up with a way to turn CO2 into molecules that can be used to produce all manner of things. And there’s big prize money on the line.

To start, NASA is asking teams to focus on converting CO2 to Glucose, but the language of the challenge suggests you can approach that goal from any angle you wish:

Help us discover ways to develop novel synthesis technologies that use carbon dioxide (CO2) as the sole carbon source to generate molecules that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, including “substrates” for use in microbial bioreactors.

Because CO2 is readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere, such technologies will translate into in-situ manufacturing of products to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet, and also be implemented on Earth by using both waste and atmospheric CO2 as a resource.

(5) REMAKING IT SO. The Star Trek: TNG cast had a reunion over the weekend:

(6) NIMBY. It won’t be coming in for a landing after all — “Plans for U.F.O.-Like Home in Norway Are Rejected” reports the New York Times.

Controversial plans by the Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaardand the renowned architecture firm Snohetta to build a U.F.O-like home in the suburbs of Oslo have been rejected by the local authorities.

The project, which was generally known as “A House to Die In” and represented an ambitious attempt to turn expressive sketches by Mr. Melgaard into architecture, had aroused condemnation because of its location, near the former winter studio of Edvard Munch. Artists and preservationists had spoken out against the project, arguing that it represents a threat to the legacy of Munch, Norway’s best-known artist and the painter of “The Scream.”

The project had already been approved by local and national preservation authorities, but on Aug. 20, municipal lawmakers from several parties announced they would support a proposal to scuttle the plans, effectively dooming the project. A final vote by the Oslo City Council will be held next Wednesday….


  • September 3, 1953Cat-Women of the Moon premiered


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1849 – Sarah Orne Jewett. Maine author whose fiction reflected her lifelong fascination with the supernatural. Ash-Tree Press in 1998 collected much of her short work together in Lady Ferry and Other Uncanny People.
  • Born September 3 – Alison Lurie, 92. Editor of the Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, and has written to date a number of fantasy stories such as “Counting Sheep”, “Another Halloween” and “Something Borrowed, Something Blue”. Also wrote the excellent Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: Subversive Children’s Literature.
  • Born September 3 – Faren Miller, 68. Writer of one novel, The Illusionist, she worked full-time for Locus from 1981 to 2000, and continues to review genre fiction to this day for Locus
  • Born September 3 – John Picacio, 49. Illustrator of many a genre work. Need I say that great cover art enhances any genre work? Among the works I’ve by him that are graced by his work arête 2003 Edition of Effinger’s Budayeen Nights, the 2004 edition of Pohl’s Gateways and Bowes’ From the Files of the Time Rangers. Much of his work is gathered in Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio.

(9) DRAGON AWARDS IN PERSPECTIVE. Doris V. Sutherland covers the third round of the award in “2018 Dragon Awards: Big-Name Winners and Little Controversy” at Women Write About Comics.

One noticeable thing about this year’s Dragon Awards is just how quiet they were. The awards made their debut in 2016, in the shadow of the right-wing Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies campaigns that had occurred at the Hugos. In their first two years, the Dragon Awards were something of a battlefield, with the Puppy campaigns inspiring multiple splinters and imitators—including the Red Panda Fraction, a left-wing group which, controversially, adopted the same tactics as the right-wing Puppies. Over time, however, the aftershocks from the Puppy campaigns quietened down, something that can be seen simply by comparing the ballots. The pro-Puppy authors John C. Wright, Brian Niemeier, and Declan Finn were finalists in both 2016 (when Wright and Niemeier won in their respective categories) and in 2017; and yet they are all missing from the ballot in 2018, despite each having at least one eligible novel.

This is not to say that pro-Puppy authors were completely absent this year. Most obviously Sarah A. Hoyt, a former leader of the Sad Puppies campaign, was amongst the winners. Also notable is that one of the Best Graphic Novel finalists, Brandon Fiadino and Djibril Morissette’s Chicago Typewriter: The Red Ribbon, was published by Rabid Puppies founder Vox Day. Day is one of the creators to have eagerly jumped aboard the current “Comicsgate” bandwagon—lending definite symbolic value to the female Thor’s victory in Best Comic Book.

In Sutherland’s view —

There is no reason for the Hugos and the Dragons to exist as rivals. They are different awards that utilise different systems. The Dragon Awards are looser and flashier, but this should not be a deal-breaker to anyone who approaches a science fiction and fantasy award as just a bit of fun.

(10) WORLDCON 76 INSIGHTS. Michael Lee’s thorough Worldcon 76 report, “In Spite of Setbacks, San Jose Comes Through for Worldcon 76”, ends with this paragraph:

Worldcon is the one convention where it’s not at all unusual to be at a stoplight with George R. R. Martin and an actual astronaut who has been in space. More than any other convention, this is one that gives you the excuse to travel to new places and meet people that you might not meet any other way, and it never really is the same convention twice. (Next year’s convention will be in Dublin, Ireland, and the year after that in New Zealand.) I enjoyed Worldcon 76, as it was a chance to connect and reconnect with friends and fans from around the world, and a chance to visit the Bay Area of California.

(11) MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE. New James Bond novels are still coming out in 1963, and Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard grabbed the latest.

With the success of last year’s film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Dr. No., I continue to predict that the next James Bond film, From Russia With Love, which is coming this October, will further raise the public’s interest in the heady delights of techno-thrillers featuring spies. So far all I’ve seen are a couple of stills from the set, so it’s hard to make any judgment on the adaptation of the story by the filmmakers.

But until the film arrives on the big screen we have a new Bond novel to sate our appetites.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the tenth James Bond novel, a sequel to the previous novel (once removed), Thunderball. I was lucky to get hold of a copy of OHMSS when it came out at the beginning of April, because both the first and second print runs, totaling over 60,000 copies, sold out in the first month. This should give readers some insight into how popular James Bond has become in Britain.

…As is usual in an Ian Fleming novel, real places are used to add verisimilitude to the narrative, though some of the names are changed. In this case, the description of Piz Gloria makes clear that it is based on the Nazi German eugenic research facility Schloss Mittersill….

(12) RADIO ACTIVITY. The Book Smugglers features a talk with the creators of Dead Air, Gwenda Bond, Rachel Caine and Carrie Ryan: “Dead Air: Serialised Fiction, Podcast and Murder”.

Gwenda Bond: I’ll start us off! The process of creating Dead Air has been a fun whirlwind, a lot of work, and different than any other project I’ve done — even the collaborative ones. I originally came up with the idea of Macy (better known as Mackenzie to podcast listeners) as a character coping with a recent loss by indulging her interest in true crime on the radio, but who then gets drawn into an investigation that gets more and more personal. From the start, she was going to be a character with a lot of room to grow over the course of the story, and the radio show/podcast would be the driving force of that growth. I wanted to use Kentucky as a setting and immediately thought the thoroughbred horse-racing community would be a great backdrop for the old murder she ends up looking into.

(13) QUIRK FACTOR. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky reports on crowdfunded comics that are out there: “From A Read-Along Record To A Profane Tarot: The Year’s Quirkiest Crowdfunded Comics”.

There’s something about crowdfunding and comics: They just taste great together. Maybe that’s because, as Iron Circus Comics publisher Spike Trotman points out, artists were crowdfunding before it was even called that. “It was something cartoonists had been doing for years: Taking our lives in our hands and asking people to PayPal us enough money to print the book,” she says. Kickstarter’s Senior Director of Publishing Margot Atwell calls comics “small but mighty,” noting that comics campaigns on the platform succeed at a 20 percent higher rate than average. This year has seen some spectacular crowdfunding efforts, like the Trogdor!! The Board Game Kickstarter, which racked up an eye-popping $1,421,903 in pledges.

(14) SMALL ROYALTY. Being stark doesn’t pay: “Richard Madden ‘not paid much’ for Game of Thrones role”.

Richard Madden has revealed he wasn’t paid that much for his role as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones.

Not that he feels hard done by, as he admits he had nothing on his CV that deserved big money as a 22-year-old.

Despite that, he explained fans often thought he was rich anyway.

(15) THANOS EFFECTS. Weta Digital’s VFX supervisor Matt Aitken narrates an account of making VFX for Thanos’s home world (and the disintegration effect): “Avengers: Infinity War – How we made the VFX for Titan”

In Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel superheroes fight to stop the villain Thanos from wiping out half of all life.

Visual effects company Weta Digital worked on the scenes which take place on Thanos’s home planet, Titan.

BBC Click speaks to VFX supervisor Matt Aitken to find out more.

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

37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/3/18 That Was The Scroll That Was

  1. Posting from Phoenix, where Cokocon has just wound down, my third con in three weekends. I need a vacation to recover from all this vacationing.

  2. 9) “There is no reason for the Hugos and the Dragons to exist as rivals. They are different awards that utilise different systems.”

    IAWTC. In addition, they have different priorities. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Isn’t that why File 770 tracks the announcements of eleventy-gazillion different awards relating to genre fiction in the first place?

  3. I slept most of Saturday and Sunday, as I am wont to have to do from time to time, and so missed the Dragon Awards ceremony, which I had semi-planned to attend (as always, at Dragon*Con, there are at least five things worth doing happening at any given time, so nothing is certain). I don’t recall why I didn’t go last year, after documenting the initial ceremony live on Twitter the year before. Probably something to do with those constant multitude of other options I mentioned.

  4. Lee: 9) “There is no reason for the Hugos and the Dragons to exist as rivals. They are different awards that utilise different systems.” IAWTC.

    I’ve just been over on Twitter laughing hilariously at all the Pupbros who keep insisting that the Hugo are TOTALLY worthless, NOBODY pays attention to them any more, NOBODY is participating in them, and EVERYBODY has gone over to the Dragons now.

    I don’t think those grapes could possibly get any more sour. 😀

  5. My plea to SFF podcasters:

    I’ve just had to close the browser tab on a 4th podcast which I accessed from a 4th tweet promising a Worldcon 76 wrap-up, because there’s no transcript.

    Seriously, if you would like me, and people like me, to nominate and vote for your podcast in the Hugos, then consider adding Transcripts to your work. Because that’s the only way I will be able to access them. It grieves me to know that there are probably fantastic ‘casts I am missing because they don’t have transcripts.


  6. I saw “Inglorius Basterds” at the Seattle Cinerama, a fine cinema (not on the fancy cinerama screen, obviously). I was very surprised to see the familiar Cinerama sign as I was walking about.

    Dublin used to have a Cinerama cinema once (with the same sign), I remember seeing an extremely knackered print of 2001 there in 1979 or so.

  7. Our Cinerama theatre closed sometime in the 1980s and now houses a supermarket. I think I saw Disney’s The Sword in the Stone there in the late 1970s, though I’m not sure. And my parents have fond memories of watching the Windjammer Cinerama film there in the 1960s.

  8. 5. I’m very happy that the Jane Foster Thor won the Dragon Award. I really enjoyed it. Those idiot Puppies are so annoying. As if Jane Foster was going to be Thor forever. But here’s something interesting. For years Natalie Portman said that she never wanted to be in a Thor movie again, hence the breakup between Jane and Thor. But lately, she’s reported to have been saying that she now wouldn’t mind being in a Thor movie again. Hmmm. I wonder what role she would want to play.

  9. (1) I’ve only been there (Seattle Cinerama) once, and the only thing I remember is that it had the most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever had the misfortune to have to sit in through a movie. I can’t even remember what movie we were seeing, just that it was an “event” movie. But the seats were so awful I nearly had to leave.

  10. @JJ
    Preferably a transcription, and not auto-miscaption, which is all-too-common because it’s relatively cheap and easy, even for stuff where a transcription (or speech text that can be edited to match) is available.
    SFGate gets black marks from me for having NO captions on their videos, which are mostly from outside sources. (And a pop-up player that can’t easily be blocked.)

  11. (1) Last broke out in 2013? I wonder if that’s the time I took my significantly better half to see Blade Runner there.

    The last time I was at the location was during the “Last Unicorn Tour,” where it was a real pleasure to shake Peter S. Beagle’s hand and thank him for his writings.

  12. UK residents: Of possible interest, there’s a showing of a 1967 documentary about robots presented by Isaac Asimov tonight, at 1am on BBC Four, as part of their AI mini-season. Presumably it will be available afterwards on iPlayer.

  13. Crossed fingers for our credential, please. Bentham had a biopsy on a growth under his tongue today. To be honest, it’s not looking good, but we can hope…

  14. @Andrew :: Inspired by the James Davis Nicoll column, I found a Meredith Moment.

    Katherine MacLean, MISSING MAN (novel) and THE DIPLOIDS (shorts), $2.99 each on Kindle.

  15. @Ken
    Also, at least at Kobo, both “Silverlock” and “The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter”, along with a number of other interesting titles, in the $4.99-and-under list.

  16. Re podcasts, I third JJ and P J Evans. I’m hard of hearing and can’t access videos without captions. Audios without transcripts are even worse, because there’s no chance of lip-reading.

    Simon Bisson, I hope the news will be good about Bentham, and that if it is not, that the rest of their life will be comfortable and comforted.

  17. @Bisson —

    Crossed fingers for our credential, please. Bentham had a biopsy on a growth under his tongue today. To be honest, it’s not looking good, but we can hope…

    So sorry for Bentham. OTOH I am chuckling just a little bit, because I used to have a cat named John Stuart. 🙂

  18. @Laura – is it possible you visited Cinerama prior to the 2014 renovation? I went many times after that and found the seats very comfortable indeed. My favourite cinema in Seattle, other than the one that served martinis :).

  19. An observation from the podcasting side:

    I have a weekly podcast. (Not an SFF one except by occasional tangential overlap, so not directly relevant regarding SFF award nominations.) The episodes rotate through 4 formats, two of them scripted and two involving interviews. (When there’s a 5th show in the month, it’s also scripted.) The scripted ones get transcripts…though it would be more accurate to say that the script gets posted. (I do go through and edit the script against what actually got recorded, because sometimes I edit on the fly.) But the interview shows don’t get transcripts because I simply don’t have the time to do so.

    Based on rare occasions when I have transcribed interview segments that were included in the scripted shows, I’d guess that we’d be talking a minimum of 5 hours of transcription work per month, though possibly more if I decided to edit the recording more heavily so that the transcript was closer to regular prose, or even simply worked to edit the transcript to do so. (You can follow a lot of fragmentary and repetitive speech when you hear it live that would be incomprehensible in a raw transcript.) Sure, I could hire out the transcription work. But then I’d be out of pocket a substantial amount of money for a project that’s already a negative income for me.

    Yes, the interview shows would be accessible to people who currently can’t enjoy them if I paid to have them transcribed. But that isn’t really an option. The option for those shows is to have them in audio only or to not have them. And if I didn’t use interviews for half my shows, I’d have to drop my frequency, because I don’t have the time to write a scripted show every week. Not if I want to write fiction and write my history blog and do pretty much anything else outside of my day job.

    I really do understand that I’m blocking access by a certain demographic because of this dynamic. But I’m already pouring significant amounts of time and money into the podcast for it to exist at all. If it were a subscription service, sure. If it were supported by grants, absolutely. If I were being paid a living wage to create it, no problem. But it isn’t and I’m not. I don’t even get the dream that someday maybe someone might nominate my podcast for an award, because I’m working in a genre that doesn’t do podcast awards.

  20. Seconding HRJ while fourthing JJ…

    A good transcription is a lot of work. I still remember the hours I put in to transcribe an interview with Bruce Sterling back in early 2000 – back when the tools at my command were a microcassette recorder and PalmPilot for the interview and a PC to type it up. (Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to ask about a couple of spelling issues while flipping the tape.) Today, I’d probably still record the interview whike taking notes, but I’d try my iPad’s voice recognition system as a first run at making text out of it.

    I’m not sure I’d post the audio, though. Didn’t then, probably wouldn’t now. I’m stingy when it comes to bandwidth, plus I greatly prefer reading transcripts over listening to podcasts or watching talking-head opinion videos. I read pretty quickly, and audio always seems unbearably slow to me – why spend an hour listening when I could just read it? (This isn’t just true for entertainment. I would much rather write a post or send a text than talk on the phone, particularly when the goal is to absorb detailed information.)

    All of which is to say that I absolutely love subtitles for most applications, and sometimes I get actively annoyed when they’re unavailable. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t made much progress with Farscape over the past couple of weeks: the combination of a loud sometimes-on dehumidifier nearby, sci-fi jargon in the dialogue, varying sound levels, and no subtitles makes watching the show more work than I would prefer.

    So, yes – I know subtitles and transcription take a good deal of effort. I also know that their absence plays a significant role in me shunning an entire type of entertainment.

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