Pixel Scroll 9/24 Do Not Feed The Scrolls!

(1) San Diego Rocket Race 2015 happens October 17. Entry fee is $40 per team (of two to four). The theme is —


The Rocket Race is an urban adventure competition where teams of up to four will be using their brains to solve science fiction themed clues that lead them by car and on foot all around the San Diego area. The theme for the 2015 race is Post-Apocalypse Now!

…The San Diego Rocket Race is a day-long adventure race for teams of two to four players, made up of two components:

In the first half of the race, teams will solve a clue that will lead them somewhere around San Diego, where they will pick up their next clue. When that clue is solved, it will lead to a new location, and the next clue will be given to the team, leading them to the next location, and eventually they will reach the midpoint of the race and a mandatory lunch break.

In the second half of the race, the game changes to a photo scavenger hunt. Teams will receive a checklist of clues and will have until the end of the race day to find as many places in the photo scavenger hunt checklist as possible and reach the finish line before the race deadline.

(2) Find out about “The Most Advanced Human Brain-to-Brain Interface Ever Made” at Motherboard.

Scientists at the University of Washington have successfully completed what is believed to be the most complex human brain-to-brain communication experiment ever. It allowed two people located a mile apart to play a game of “20 Questions” using only their brainwaves, a nearly imperceptible flash of light, and an internet connection to communicate.

Brain-to-brain interfaces have gotten much more complex over the last several years. Miguel Nicolelis, a researcher at Duke University, has even created “organic computers” by connecting the brains of several rats and chimps together.

But in humans, the technology remains pretty basic, primarily because the most advanced brain-to-brain interfaces require direct access to the brain. We’re not exactly willing to saw open a person’s skull in the name of performing some rudimentary tasks for science.

Using two well-known technologies, electroencephalography EEG and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), Andrea Stocco and Chantel Prat were able to increase the complexity of a human brain to brain interface.

(3) I’ve fallen behind in my coverage of the George R.R. Martin Deluxe Talking Plush toy. You can now listen to an audio sample from Factory Entertainment, and buy a copy for $29.99.

Dressed in his trademark fisherman’s cap and suspenders, our Deluxe Talking Plush features 10 exclusively recorded audio quotes delivered directly by Mr. Martin himself!


(4) I spent a random minute watching the opening sequence from The Prisoner on YouTube because I wanted to hear the music.

As any Prisoner fan knows after watching the opening a thousand times, the license plate on McGoohan’s Lotus is KAR 120C. And if you Google the plate number you get lots of Prisoner-related hits.

When the black limo that’s following him pulls up to the curb outside his home, there is also a good view of its license plate — TLH 658. I Googled that number, but what I mainly got were hits on The Lutheran Hymnal where TLH 658 is “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Make of that what you will.

(5) Speaking of conspiracies, a couple of weeks ago I fearlessly investigated the never-before-asked question: What determines who pops up as the “featured member” in the SFWA Blog sidebar?

I wanted to know because Lou Antonelli popped up when I logged on that day.

I asked the President of SFWA, “Is this based on paid advertising? Some algorithim that detects I just read about Antonelli on FB? Something else?”

Cat Rambo replied —

The sfnal answer would be that SFWA’s orbital mind control lasers determined made you look at it right then.

Unfortunately, though, it’s random.

(6) Leading up to the 40th anniversary theatrical re-release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, co-director Terry Jones introduces lost footage and outtakes from the movie.

(7) Steve Davidson is up to “1941 Retro Hugo Awards (Part 6: Fanzines)”. It’s one of the more heavily populated categories, and Davidson warns —

This is, of course, an incomplete list.  Even in 1939/1940, those attempting to index the fanzines published up till then despaired of ever being able to compile a complete list.  And, of course, getting a hold of even a tiny fraction of what is listed here is nigh on impossible these days, making the selection of nominees for Best Fanzine of 1940 a particularly problematic task.

(8) In 1941 LASFS was still meeting at Clifton’s Cafeteria, which is about to experience an architectural rebirth of its glory days. The Thrillist has some great photos previewing the restored (and in some spots, remodeled) interior.

First off — and this alone would probably set Clifton’s apart from every other restaurant in LA — the space now features a three-story atrium that’s stacked around a massive redwood tree in the middle of the restaurant. But wait, there’s more.

(9) Shockingly, an award given by a convention that has only twice thrice been held in a non-English-speaking country has in every case been voted to fiction published in the English language. Lynn E. O’Connacht has exposed the numbers in “Hugo Award Nominations by Country”.

So, initially, when the Hugos were announced I was thrilled along with everyone else. I am still thrilled because it is a great thing worthy of celebration. Diversity creates strength and fosters innovation. But something in the back of my mind was niggling at me. There was something about the celebration that felt off to me. Something about translated works and English-language awards and voting. Something that, as far as I can tell, no one has mentioned in any of their articles. Something that I expect most people wouldn’t even think to check. Either because they’re too thrilled that ‘one of their own’ won a prestigious foreign award or because they just don’t see that there might be something to look at.

It’s fairly common knowledge that, despite claims to the contrary, the Hugo Awards are a predominantly American award. But is it? After all, despite the slate voting this year saw a lot of diversity and it still won the awards. That’s what was niggling me: how completely different that focus is from my experience. Were the Hugos more nationally diverse than my gut was telling me? Was I wrong in thinking about the Hugos as an American award? Was I wrong to think of it as an award only native speakers of English stood a chance at winning?

(10) Wouldn’t people be more willing to see Victor Frankenstein if the actors traded the leading roles? Find out when the movie reaches theaters on November 25.

James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in a dynamic and thrilling twist on a legendary tale. Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences. Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.


[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Fin Fahey.]

269 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/24 Do Not Feed The Scrolls!

  1. Ian

    One reason I liked Kil’n People was it did a great job of exploring an interesting premise in a light hearted, exciting, and fun way. I finished wanting more but happy to think about the implications of the tech he introduced and the world he created that we got just a glimpse of. I am pretty much over PIs in SF genre fiction(they all read the same) but this one I come back to.

    The problems with Existence are many and varied. Firstly and most to his discredit is the book is littered with people and philosophies he has a personal beef with and are in the book so he can take a swing at them. People who don’t read his blog will probably miss these but for those that don’t such petty behaviour leaves a really sour taste.

    Next is the reuse in the last third of the short story Lungfish. That was written in 1987 and I have the book it was collected into(The River of Time) so I don’t need to read it again without substantial changes* in a new book.

    And the final nail in the coffin is Brin fails to complete a single one of the stories he tells in the book. Because he jumps from perspective to perspective, it took me a while to catch on, but it looks like each time; he got to the cliff hanger moment, got stuck on where to go, and just skipped ahead to the aftermath. This is most egregious in the Lungfish section, since it already finished in a cliffhanger, which fit well when it was a solo work, but is a complete cop-out when it is turned into a novel.

    If the Puppies had pointed at Existence when complaining about bad message-fic, I would have understood perfectly.

    *One of the minor changes to Lungfish is something that could produce a whole nother rant. But I am ranted out.

  2. Meredith: I’ve read six of those and I have another three or four (I lost count) on the already-bought TBR pile (and another two or three that I’d already marked for future buying due to File770). Oh dear. I didn’t think the difference between my fantasy and sci fi reading was quite that marked.

    Kurt Busiek: I’ve read 14 (maybe 15) of JJ’s list. More than I’d have thought

    Mike Glyer: Hm. I’ve only read 13. I guess those multiple rereadings of the entire Aubrey/Maturin series and the First Man in Rome series took more time than I thought

    Before anyone gets the idea they might not be well-read by looking at my list, bear in mind that I’ve read approximately 230 books published from 2000 to 2015, and I’ve only read 48 of the books on my list (about 38%). For 15 of the authors on that list, I’ve read a total of 23 books — but none of them were the book I put on the list.

    This is because I tried to come up with a list of the 128 “best” books from the last 15 years by looking at award nominees and reader’s choice awards, as a way to counter my own personal biases. Some of the 48 books on that list which I have read, I would never personally nominate for a Hugo — but I have to recognize that other people would (and often did).

    For 27 of those books I have read, I’ve read an additional 130 books published between 2000-2015 by those same authors — because when I find an author I enjoy, I will generally go out and read as many of their other works I can get, either from my library or on e-book. In other words, almost 70% of the books I’ve read which were published in the last 15 years are by a total of only 27 authors.

    It’s not a “check how well-read you are in SF” list. It’s an “I’m trying to cover the preferences of a lot of people, even those who like things very different from what I like” list.

  3. Here are my nominations.

    Balance of Trade, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, (2009)
    Hammerfall, CJ Cherryh, (2001)
    Passage, Connie Willis (2001)
    Alien Taste, Wen Spencer, (2001)
    Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon, (2003)
    The Martian, Andy Weir, (2013?)
    Darwin’s Radio, Greg Bear (2002?)
    Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey, (2011)
    Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold, (2002)
    Kiln People, David Brin, (2002)
    Fledgling, Octavia Butler (2005)
    Ancillary Justice, Anne Leckie (2012)

    Plus ::ticky::

  4. Matt Y, I understand what you mean. Possibly I’ve got Connie Willis syndrome. I’m also victim of my own unreasonably high expectations, since I had been so looking forward to this year’s crop of novels after reading only two last year (Gibson and Watts) that really stood out, but my high hopes for NS and KSR were dashed on the rocks and I sought comfort in Simmons. It is working for me so far, but I’ve got a ways to go and sure, if he doesn’t tie it all together I’ll be disappointed too.

    Andrew M, I’d call the fantastical element in TFH “understated.” Historical SFF needs to be shaken up. We’ve had too much “what if X historical event had had Y,” where Y=steam-powered computers, vampire hunters, Connecticut Yankees, what have you. That’s getting old, so I appreciate Simmons doing something a bit subtle. Call it psychological science fiction interrogating William James’s theory of the self. I just admire his craft.

  5. I’m trying to branch out in other directions too. I started Red Girls by Kazuki Sakuraba on the recommendation of our favorite best editor long form. It is going well so far. I’ll report back.

  6. @Tintinaus: I have read Lungfish but I lost my copy of Rivers of Time in a house move over 10 years ago, so I’d forgotten the details. I’ve also only read his blog a couple of times – it bored me. I’d have no issue with him using a book to continue arguments from outside – he’d hardly be the first author to do that – but it has to at least be interesting…

  7. Enhhhh. There were certain aspects of The Windup Girl that I bounced off reaaaaaalllllly hard, mainly because they struck a little too close to home. I’ve liked the rest of the authors works, but that one…nope.

  8. Tasha Turner on September 27, 2015 at 6:01 pm said:
    Ticky box

    Okay, I have to ask.
    What is this ticky box thing anyway?

  9. @Lauowolf

    The little “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” ticky box under the comment box. “Ticky box” “god stalk” and “gvpxl obk” are all things people use when they don’t have something to say, roundabout the point where the thread seems to be slowing down enough they don’t want to keep the tab open/regularly check the thread, but they don’t want to miss any remaining comments either, so they’re ticking the box. 🙂

  10. An infestation in a handy package.

    Also completely accurate, as anyone misguided enough (or is Mike Glyer, who has to read all the comments no matter how annoying people are being, and we probably all owe him drinks and/or meals by now) to click the ticky box at the beginning of a thread that turns out to be well over a thousand comments knows.

    *pets poor innocent email inbox*

  11. Re: Simmons, A Winter’s Haunting gets my vote for How Not To Write A Sequel.

    Look, we get it, Summer of Night was your stab at writing It and you were really hoping people would notice, but they didn’t, it was a mediocre kids in small town uncover unspeakable horror story, and the sequel sucked any virtue out of the first one and squirted it into tedium.

  12. It is a really interesting phenomenon how a later cruddy book can render an earlier, at least borderline, work unreadable.
    It can be downright unsettling how your mind shifts from one reading to the next.

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