Pixel Scroll 11/30/17 Go Not To The Filers For Counsel, For They Will Say Both Scroll And Pixel

(1) IT GETS WORSE. Amal El-Mohtar tweeted about her horrendous experience at the hands of TSA while trying to enter the U.S. to attend a retreat. Begins here —

She missed her flight, needed to get rebooked, had to go through Customs a second time (another bad experience), and spent long hours at the airport waiting for the next flight. Here are a couple of the tweets from that thread:

There was an outpouring of sympathy, support, and indignation, for example:

(2) BEWARE. David Gerrold shared this warning on Facebook:

A friend has sent me a cautionary note not to do business with Atomic Network. (I wouldn’t anyway, I’m currently involved in a much more promising effort.) But the advice is appreciated. I won’t repeat the long explanatory message here, the language is a little blunt and might cross a couple lines, but the evidence presented is damning enough on its own merits. The point is that SF content creators and investors would probably not be happy with the track record of the CEO and his previous ventures. Consider this a Writer Beware warning.

I believe this is the website for Atomic Network.

(3) MORE CON TRADEMARK LITIGATION. Two Boston anime conventions are going to court: “Anime Boston sues to block similarly named event in Hanover”.

The New England Anime Society of Somerville, which puts on the annual Anime Boston show at the Hynes, this week sued two of its former volunteers, who are using the phrase “Boston Anime Fest” to promote their own show at the Hanover Mall, which is somewhere south of Boston.

In addition to trying to stop the organizers from associating themselves with the show that’s actually in Boston, in a trademark lawsuit filed in US District Court, New England Anime has filed a request for a temporary restraining order to try to block the Hanover show, schedule for Dec. 8 and 9.

Although the main name of the Hanover show is the Boston SouthCoast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza, its Web site, with a URL of www.bostonanimefest.com, prominently features a Boston Anime Fest logo.

New England Anime says the branding is likely to confuse anime fans into thinking it has something to do with the Hanover show, which it does not. That the new show’s organizers, Fantastic Gatherings, Inc. – founded by the two former Anime Boston volunteers – and Interactive Meet and Greet Entertainment, initially linked their social-media accounts to Boston Anime, is also an issue.

(4) BOOKSELLERS LOVE IT. Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage has been named the Waterstones book of the yearThe Guardian has the story.

Pullman pronounced himself delighted to have won an award chosen by booksellers, which he called “the most important channel between the publishers and the public”.

“Writers are at one end of a complicated network that includes editors, reviewers, designers, printers, and many other real people – as well as phantoms such as the writer the readers imagine and the readers the book seems to expect,” he said. “Part of this great living network or ecology of the book world is the ancient and distinguished profession of bookselling, which I respect and value very much.”

(5) BEST SFF OF 2017. And The Guardian thinks it none too soon for Adam Roberts to tell his picks for “The best science fiction and fantasy of 2017”.

A year ago, Amitav Ghosh usefully stirred things up with his rebuke to “realist” modes of writing. Where, he asked, is all the fiction about climate change? Well, it turns out that the answer is science fiction. Genre writing has been exploring the possible futures of climate change for many years, and 2017’s three best novels engage in powerful and varied ways with precisely that subject. Kim Stanley Robinson is the unofficial laureate of future climatology, and his prodigious New York 2140 (Orbit), a multilayered novel set in a flooded Big Apple, is by any standard an enormous achievement. It is as much a reflection on how we might fit climate change into fiction as it is a detailed, scientifically literate representation of its possible consequences.

Just as rich, though much tighter in narrative focus, is Paul McAuley’s superb Austral (Gollancz), set in a powerfully realised near?future Antarctica transformed by global warming. Jeff VanderMeer’s vividly weird Borne (4th Estate) takes a different, neo-surrealist approach to the topic. You won’t soon forget its star turn, a flying bear as big as a cathedral rampaging through wastelands….

(6) NABORS OBIT. Actor and singer Jim Nabors (1930-2017), best known for playing Gomer Pyle on two TV series, died November 30. I didn’t know he had any genre-related connections beyond his character’s tendency to say “Shazam!” in place of an expletive, however, SF Site News notes that his credits include

…the Saturday morning children’s show The Lost Saucer with Ruth Buzzi. He also made appearances in an episode of Knight Rider and provided voicework for Off to See the Wizard.



  • Born November 30, 1937 – Ridley Scott
  • Born November 30, 1985 — Kaley Cuoco

(8) CAPTAINS OUTRAGEOUS. You’ll all be thrilled to know — “William Shatner ends Star Trek feud, unblocks Jason Isaacs on Twitter”.  According to Entertainment Weekly:

Shatner never publicly said why he blocked the Star Trek: Discovery star in the first place, but we’re pretty sure it had something to do with an interview that arguably mischaracterized Isaacs as saying he would never want Shatner to be a guest star on the new series

(9) SIR JULIUS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) declares that nominations for the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel awards are open.

Nominations for the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel awards are now being accepted. The nomination period will close at 8.00 pm on 2 February 2018.  The awards recognise excellence and achievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2017 calendar year.

…Anyone can make a nomination and it is free! To make a nomination, go to http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwards.shtml  and fill out the web-based nomination form.

Get busy reading NZ authors and watching NZ movies to find work to nominate. We have a list of New Zealand works that may be eligible for nomination here.

(10) LE GUIN. Arwen Curry, who’s making a Kickstarter-funded documentary about the writer, worried that Ursula K. Le Guin’s home might have been threatened by the recent Northern California fires. All is well, writes Curry: “In Thanks for Houses”.

We were also worried for Kish, Ursula K. Le Guin’s family ranch in the Napa Valley. Thankfully, it was spared. After the air cleared, we drove up to capture some of our film’s final images, of the land where she spent the long summers of her childhood, and the setting for her 1985 masterwork, Always Coming Home. We filmed the buzzards circling, the wild oaks, the river beginning to swell, the sunset-colored vineyards, “the blue hills on the left and the blue hills on the right.”

(11) LIVE-ACTION MULAN MOVIE. The Guardian tells how Disney has avoided controversy with a Mulan casting decision: “Liu Yifei gets starring role in Mulan, as tide turns against ‘whitewashing'”.

A Chinese actor will play the title role in a live-action remake of Disney’s Mulan, a move seen as a victory for Asian actors in Hollywood after repeated controversies over “whitewashing”.

Liu Yifei, who also uses the name Crystal Liu, was picked to star in the film after a worldwide search that screened nearly 1,000 candidates. The 30-year-old actor has appeared in more than a dozen films in China and began her career in television.

The decision to cast a Chinese actress was widely praised on social media after a series of controversies over whitewashing and follows Beyoncé’s casting in the upcoming Lion King remake.

Hollywood has attracted widespread criticism for casting white actors to play Asian characters. Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone have all played characters who were Asian in the source material.

(12) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. The Los Angeles Times speculates whether The Shape of Water will earn Guillermo del Toro an Academy Award. Video at the link.

Is this the year that Guillermo del Toro — close friends with Cuarón and Iñárritu since the ’90s and, like them, one of Mexico’s most acclaimed and successful filmmakers — wins his Oscar?

Del Toro stands as a strong contender for directing “The Shape of Water,” a lavish, deeply felt love story involving a pair of outsiders — a mute cleaning woman (Sally Hawkins) and an Amazonian water creature (frequent Del Toro collaborator Doug Jones).

(13) CAN I GET A WITNESS? NPR reports “Arkansas Prosecutors Drop Murder Case That Hinged On Evidence From Amazon Echo”.

Arkansas prosecutors have dropped their case against James Bates, whom they had charged with first-degree murder partly with the help of evidence collected by an Amazon Echo smart speaker. On Wednesday, a circuit court judge granted their request to have the charges of murder and tampering with evidence dismissed.

The prosecutors declared nolle prosequi, stating that the evidence could support more than one reasonable explanation.

The move marks a curious end to a still more curious case, which had revolved around the role played by a personal assistant device that’s supposed to begin recording as soon as someone says its wake word — “Alexa,” in this case — in its presence.

… At the time of Victor Collins’ death, the Echo had been out on the market in the U.S. for only several months, and the search warrant issued for the device’s recordings prompted some fears that the new technology was opening another battlefield over personal privacy protections.

(14) FETCH! From NPR — “Scientists Train Bacteria To Build Unnatural Proteins”:

One feature of this new system is that these germs need to be fed the precursors for the X and Y components, as well as synthetic amino acids, which are the building blocks for the artificial proteins.

“There’s actually an advantage of having to do it this way,” he says, and that’s safety.

“I think synthetic biology by its very nature scares a lot of people, because you’re sort of playing with life and trying to optimize it to do new things. And people say, ‘Hey, wait a minute — that could be dangerous. What if they escape into nature?’ And I think that’s a significant concern. I think people should be worried about that kind of thing.”

But because his organisms need to be fed man-made starting materials, they can’t survive outside the lab, he says.

(15) CROWDSOURCED SCIENCE. Sometimes you do need a weatherman…. The BBC tells about the “Huge weather rescue project under way”.

It is shaping up to be a mammoth citizen science project.

Volunteers are wanted to digitise early 20th Century weather records covering the UK and other parts of Europe.

The temperature, pressure, rainfall and wind observations are in handwritten tables and need to be converted to a form that computers can analyse.

The data comes from the Met Office’s “Daily Weather Reports”, which were started by Robert FitzRoy shortly after the agency was founded in 1854.

If this old information is recovered, it can then be used to reconstruct past conditions.

That will put more context around some of the changes now occurring in our atmosphere, says Prof Ed Hawkins, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Reading University.

“Whenever we have big weather events today we need to ask ourselves, have we seen them before? And if we go further and further back in time and don’t recognise such big storms or such heavy rainfall, then we can be more confident that the changes we’re seeing today really are the result of shifts in the climate system,” he told BBC News.

(16) DIAGNOSING NARRATIVE DISORDER. Malka Older’s Null States, sequel to Infomocracy, inspires a discussion of the writer’s imagined society: “’Patchwork Futures’: Sci-fi meets the political thriller” in Harvard Magazine.

In the future imagined by Malka Older ’99, author of Infomocracy and its new sequel, Null States, the inability to distinguish narrative from reality has become a medical diagnosis, officially codified as “narrative disorder.” Older describes the condition as a rewiring of the mind in a world shaped by shared narratives. “On the one hand, there’s an addiction to narrative content, to wanting to distract ourselves with stories,” she says. “But this is also changing how our brains work. We’re changing our expectations of what’s going to happen and the way people act and the kinds of characters we’re likely to meet, and by changing those expectations we end up changing reality, because people act on those expectations.”

(17) THE VILLAIN’S RIDE. “Epic Star Wars Build Test: Colin Furze x X Robots” comes courtesy of British eBay, and features Colin Furze who decided to build a full-size fighter of the sort Kylo Ren uses, and then tested it in front of some kids from the Peterborough Star Wars Club.  The kids are happy and there are lots of fireworks.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark Hepworth, Steven H Silver, David K.M .Klaus, Darnell Coleman, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, NickPheas, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

40 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/30/17 Go Not To The Filers For Counsel, For They Will Say Both Scroll And Pixel

  1. OMG the shoggoth in the File 770 time machine has finally eaten the Pixel Scroll dates.

    I guess that ends the argument on MM/DD/YY versus DD/MM/YYYY. 😜

  2. (6): I didn’t need to play the video to get earwormed by the Lost Saucer theme song. Lost Saucer featured an episode in which the characters visit a future in which humans have shrunk themselves to reduce their environmental impact, clearly prefiguring the upcoming movie “Downsizing.”

  3. 1) Amal’s story horrified me.

    9) It was a real thrill to get to go to the Award Ceremony earlier this year. That was tons of fun.

  4. Mike Glyer: What do you get when you rescue the date? 24 hours of appertainment?

    I reckon you owe me a bottle of wine and a supreme pizza. But I’ll give you a raincheck until Worldcon next August. 😉

  5. In your birthday notes, you left out Samuel Clemens, born this date in 1835 in Florida, Missouri. As he wrote a few years later…“The population of the town was 99, I made it an even 100. I had increased the size of the town by 1%. There are few men in the world who have accomplished so much.”

  6. @OGH: not exactly a typo, but a formatting issue: item 14 shows up as a continuation of item 13 (italicized & indented like the previous paragraph).

    @1: Some years ago, a now-departed fan said he was telling people he met on his outside-US travels that he was from Baja Canada — and that was before the insanity of the current government. It would be nice if El-Mohtar recorded names and could get the ACLU’s attention (e.g., to suspension of the wights involved), but I suspect it’s not a big/clear enough case for them.

  7. Steven H Silver: But that means all the people who increased Florida, Missouri’s population prior to Clemens’ birth did even better.

  8. I haven’t flown since I went to the 2014 Worldcon. Took the train to Spokane, and to Kansas City, and already have my train tickets to go to San Jose. So no nightmarish TSA experiences in my near future.

    2019? The Queen Mary 2 docks a cab ride away here in Brooklyn, NY. Might go over by boat…

  9. 1) I was also horrified by Amal El-Mohtar’s story. US customs and border control personnel have been rude and awful for a long time now (the first time a US border guard made me cry was in 1988 at Atlanta airport) and by all accounts they have gotten increasingly worse since then. For the time being, I’m not travelling to the US at all (due to my job, I have lots of contacts with foreign sounding names as well as contacts to tech companies, i.e. the sort of thing that might be considered suspicious), which means no US based WorldCons for me for the foreseeable future.

    3) I briefly got confused why a con in Boston would care about a con in Hannover, until I realised that they probably meant an American Hanover.

    4) Le Belle Sauvage looks like a likely finalist and maybe even winner for the inaugural YA Not-a-Hugo award.

    12) I’m still angry that Pan’s Labyrinth was robbed of the foreign language Oscar by the The Lives of Others, especially since I intensely dislike The Lives of Others.
    Coincidentally, Doug Jones is recognisable as Saru even sans make-up.

  10. (1) Why I won’t go to the US as long as the current regime is in power. Partly it is because I don’t care about the TSA and INS goons, but also because of solidarity with the people who are blocked from going.

    Note also the phone issue she found afterwards. I’d be seriously asking myself if the phone hasn’t been hacked or rooted. It might be innocious due to a changed network, but I’m not sure I’d trust the phone without at least a full re-install, and maybe not even then.

    (3) What is it with the media cons and the trademark game?

    (11) Will it be too much to hope for the rest of the cast to be Chinese, too?

    (14) I believe the researchers underestimate their creations. I’m not saying they should quit their research or that we should break out the pitchforks, but trusting on bacteria not being able to share and adapt strikes me as foolish.

  11. (14) Oh gee, nothing ever adapts or evolves or anything like that…

    (1) This is absolutely horrific.

  12. Meredith Moment:
    Beck Chambers ‘A Close and Common Orbit’ is a Kindle daily deal in the UK for 99p.

  13. @Steven
    And now here I regret the whole Keillor thing. His daily “Prairie Home Almanac” email would surely have mentioned Clemens as a birthday on the 30th, and now that email newsletter is ended.

  14. @Karl. Saw a retweet from Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who is on twitter’s record as saying that he can’t support any more worldcon bids in the US.

    He’s got a point. If the TSA is going to cause people to reconsider travel plans and act in such a [insert curse words Mike might edit] manner to people like Amal, Worldcons in the US are by their nature exclusionary to genre folks outside the US. That’s not right.

  15. Karl-Johan Norén:

    “(1) Why I won’t go to the US as long as the current regime is in power. Partly it is because I don’t care about the TSA and INS goons, but also because of solidarity with the people who are blocked from going.”

    Exactly this. I am not opposed to WorldCon bids, US is part of the world and there are a lot of people who can’t afford to go to other countries. And there is the issue with people who will be in trouble if they leave US and wants to get back in.

    So I’m perfectly ok with WorldCon bids in the US. It is only that I won’t visit them.

  16. Karl-Johan Norén: “(11) Will it be too much to hope for the rest of the cast to be Chinese, too?”

    Which would just continue the millennium and a half of the interesting disguises, if you will, of the Mulan story: In the original poem from c. 500 AD, Mulan was a subject of the Northern Wei dynasty of Northern China, a state founded by early Turkic peoples, the Tuoba clan (Turkic) of the Xianbei (a confederation of early Turkic and Mongolic peoples); in the poem she applies yellow face powder, which was a cultural element of Xianbei culture, and teaching women to fight was much less unknown among the steppe peoples than the Han Chinese.

    Above all, she signed up answering the call of the khan–that is, the ruler of the Northern Wei, not the emperor, which was the title of the rulers of the various states of the south ruled by Han Chinese dynasties–and thus it’s quite possible the enemy she went to fight was the Han Chinese, not invaders from the steppes. (And certainly not the Xiongnu/Huns led by the Shanyu–the title of their ruler, not a personal name–whose empire collapsed three centuries or so before the original Mulan. However, there were other steppe confederations the Northern Wei fought against, and the identity of the enemy is not stated in the poem.)

    That’s not to say Mulan was of Turkic descent, only that she lived in a state ruled by Turks and shared their culture. The whole issue of Turkic influences on Chinese culture between about 300 AD and the high point of the Tang Dynasty (which was founded by a Han Chinese family whose founder’s mother was from the ruling people of the Northern Wei) is one of many interesting aspects of Chinese social history–and it might be reflected in the fact that Chinese writers a millennium or so later moved Mulan forward about a century to the establishment of the Tang Dynasty; so is the way that Mulan was accepted in Chinese literary history as a paragon of filial piety as well as an atypical female figure, and later as a symbol of Chinese patriotism.

  17. @Ferret Bueller, thank you; I’m now one of the Lucky 10,000! I had no idea that Mulan was an actual Chinese cultural figure (and possibly an actual person!)

  18. (1) I wish these stories were rare, but sadly they aren’t. American border control has been a nightmare for a long, long time. It went from bad to terrible after 9/11, and from terrible to horrific this past January. I will not be going to the US during the current administration, but my desire to visit at all (despite a lovely trip to Manhattan a few years ago) has been on a steady decline for nearly twenty years.

  19. August: When I took the train to the 2001 World Fantasy Con (2 months after 9/11) in Montreal, we were held for several hours at the border, inside the USA, while everyone was screened by suddenly-hostile US guards, bearing long guns.

    In recent years they’ve apparently realized that people leaving the USA are probably not going to do terrorist stuff inside the USA. So there’s been a lot less border inspection on the US side for trains leaving.

    The only problem in recent years was the need to leave the train on the Canadian side of the border, in below freezing weather, to go through Canadian Customs.

    If you’re ever back in NYC, give me a call, August. My area has a constant stream of tourists from literally around the world coming through.

  20. The always fantastic…and released at a molasses pace*…Disney Story Origins podcast did a one and two part series on Mulan that compared the story with the original source material/mythos. Well worth the listen.


  21. @Cora:

    3) I briefly got confused why a con in Boston would care about a con in Hannover, until I realised that they probably meant an American Hanover.

    The US covers a lot of ground; there are huge numbers of ~western-European placenames reused (and sometimes mispronounced — BERlin, “Cayro”) here, often more than once: e.g. there are Hanovers in both Massachusetts and in next-door New Hampshire (and probably other places far enough away that Googlemaps won’t offer them to me). At least these two are relatively temperate; imagine how your ~co-nationalists must have fried in south Texas establishing Neu (now New) Braunfels, which is still the site of a major charcuterier.

    Karl-Johan Norén:

    (3) What is it with the media cons and the trademark game?

    Money. (I could go on endlessly, but IMO a word is sufficient.)

    @Ferret: I knew that Mulan was real — but not that she was not Han; TFTI. I wonder how nasty the PRC government would have been if a Turkic actress had been cast?

  22. @JJ

    OMG the shoggoth in the File 770 time machine has finally eaten the Pixel Scroll dates.

    If I could save time in a shoggoth
    The first thing that I’d like to do
    Is to sleep in R’lyeh
    ‘Til eternity passes away
    Just to spend strange aeons with you

  23. “Time In A Shoggoth”–gosh, I loved Jim Cthroce’s stuff. What about this great hit?

    Bad, Bad, Bad Dagon,
    Most indifferent god in the whole pantheon.
    Badder than the degenerate Dutch,
    Meaner than Hastur (but not by much).

  24. @Chip Hitchcock
    I actually was in New Braunsfeld once, a long time ago. I also drove through a German settled part of Ontario near Kitchener once, where they even had a German language radio station. Their music was so old-fashioned that we considered donating some CDs with more modern German music to them.

  25. @Cora: my sympathies. (You may have heard of the ?general? who said that if he owned land in both Hell and Texas he’d live in Hell and rent out Texas.)

  26. Chip: The general was Philip Sheridan, who was in charge of the military occupation in Texas during Reconstruction. Apparently he really did say that.

    (6) I liked Ansible’s elegant way of addressing Jim Nabors’ genre work: “US actor best known for credits other than The Lost Saucer (1975)”

  27. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 12/4/17 She’ll Be Scrolling Six White Pixels When She Files | File 770

  28. @Cora, Kitchener used to be called Berlin, in fact. The name was changed in 1916 due to anti-German sentiment before and during World War I. The town I live in, Hoboken, NJ, USA, also had a substantial German-descended population, which was mistreated during WWI. Nothing like what happened to Japanese-Americans in WWII, but bad enough.

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