Pixel Scroll 5/6/24 You Saved The Ringworld Old Wu, Louis

(1) TOMLINSON CRITICIZES PENGUINCON FOR CAVING TO HIS CYBERSTALKERS. In “PenguiCon 2024 Postmortem or How Not to Handle Cyberstalking”, Patrick S. Tomlinson explains how he was disinvited from a convention – one he didn’t originally apply to present at, until he was contacted by the committee about a proposal submitted by a cyberstalker.

…Now we can fast forward to this year, specifically February. I didn’t apply to attend PenguiCon in 2023 because my wife and I were traveling internationally too close to the convention to make it work logistically. So, I was surprised and happy to receive an email from the person who’d invited me in 2022 asking about scheduling for 2024. The surprise quickly turned to confusion when they asked if I’d submitted a panel suggestion Alien Crabs and Dragonpox: How STDs are depicted in SFF and why we need more sex-positive representation.”

Reader, I had not. I’m all for sex positivity, but no I didn’t want to run a panel on space herpes.

What had actually happened was a member of the stalking cult had impersonated me to abuse the convention’s unsecured panel suggestion form. I politely declined to run their panel but offered to do another presentation of my own choosing. My counteroffer was quickly accepted and a presentation “Why not Venus?” about terraforming our closest planetary neighbor was put on the official schedule. I booked my room and set to work researching, preparing, and practicing the presentation, an intermittent process which took a total of about two weeks.

Again, I need to reiterate the organizers of this convention were not only aware of the cult stalking us, but had previous experience identifying, confronting, and mitigating their criminal harassment to the benefit of all involved. I therefore approached the coming convention confident any stalker attacks would be properly wrangled, which is why what happened next caught me so completely off guard.

Two Mondays ago, just hours after putting the finishing touches on my presentation, the same person who had booked me was tasked by the PenguiCon board to inform me I’d been disinvited from the convention because the cult stalking my family had sufficiently harassed and threatened other attendees through social media and other vectors to the point I learned later a Guest of Honor was forced to withdraw out of concern for their safety….

I wanted to handle this privately, I really did. Both to try and salvage the relationships and to help everyone involved avoid embarrassment. But between the PenguiCon board ceasing all communication with me, and these libelous statements being made public by our stalkers as a result of poor OpSec on the part of at least one board member, I’ve been forced to present the facts and refute the false narrative being presented by both our stalkers AND the PenguiCon board itself, even if accidentally….

…I want to reiterate that all of this was a known issue that PenguiCon had prior experience with and had handled professionally and competently the last time around. Which is why I find the results and fallout from this year, which again I didn’t even sign up to appear at initially, so incomprehensible. I realize this means my chance of appearing at future PenguiCons now hover near absolute zero, and I’m genuinely upset about that. They have a great con with a unique blend of creators and builders from diverse disciplines that encourages conversation and cross pollination. And as someone who’s hand sold thousands of books, their co-op style bookstore for attending authors should be a model for conventions everywhere.

But for everything they do well, the way they handled cyberstalking, especially for a convention focused on sci-fi and tech, needs to be held out as an example of what not to do for other con runners and boards. Our situation is an extreme example, but when you’re working with guests who are quasi-public figures or even celebrities like authors, artists, and actors can be, you need awareness of the potential for cyberstalkers and have policies and procedures in place.

Policies which do not include victim-blaming their targets and rewarding their criminal behavior.

(2) TOMLINSON ON AGENT LESLIE VARNEY. Tomlinson today also wrote a thread on X.com — that starts here – criticizing literary agent Leslie Varney. It begins: “And now I have to deal with Leslie Varney. Again. Leslie is a literary agent representing other authors like me. Over the last 11 months, she has also made the conscious choice to closely align herself with the criminal cult stalking and SWATTing my family.”

(3) PULITZER PRIZES. The 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced today. The complete list is at the link.

The lone winner of genre interest is film critic Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times, for his writings about sff movies. The Pulitzer Prize website cites the reviews listed below. Unfortunately, you will probably find them paywalled.

(4) ON THE TRACK OF MIDWEST FURFEST GAS ATTACK. Fur and Loathing has dropped the first of six episodes in a “Furry True Crime podcast of six episodes, releasing weekly”. Connect at the link.

Dogpatch Press reminds fans what is being investigated in its post “Midwest Furfest 2014 chemical attack – new findings by Fur And Loathing podcast”.

Think you’ve heard everything about the 2014 chemical attack on Midwest Furfest? Wait until you hear this.

The intentional release of chlorine gas sent 19 people to the hospital. It was one of the largest chemical weapons terrorist attacks in American history.

Who did it? And… why?

The targets deserve to know, because they were lucky to survive. The weapon’s deadly potential was only avoided by fast response. The level of crime fell just behind the 2001 anthrax attacks, but strangely, nobody was ever charged for it. The story faded into underreporting, disrespect towards the community, murky rumors, and hopes that it won’t happen again. There’s pride in resilience — but 10 years later, justice wasn’t served. It’s the biggest cold case in furry fandom.

The case revived when investigation by Dogpatch Press drew journalist Nicky Woolf and Project Brazen to seek FBI records, identify suspects, and fly across America to interview sources. Nicky is a journalist who reports on internet culture, with stories in The Guardian, and his original podcast series Finding Q and The Sound: Mystery of the Havana Syndrome. Nicky and Brazen’s series Fur And Loathing delivers never-before reported findings to empower the community….

(5) AMAZON’S UNION-BUSTING. Cory Doctorow tells how “Amazon illegally interferes with an historic UK warehouse election” at Pluralistic.

…When it benefits Amazon, they are obsessive – “relentless” (Bezos’s original for the company) – about user friendliness. They value ease of use so highly that they even patented “one click checkout” – the incredibly obvious idea that a company that stores your shipping address and credit card could let you buy something with a single click: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click#Patent

But when it benefits Amazon to place obstacles in our way, they are even more relentless in inventing new forms of fuckery, spiteful little landmines they strew in our path. Just look at how Amazon deals with unionization efforts in its warehouses.

Amazon’s relentless union-busting spans a wide diversity of tactics. On the one hand, they cook up media narratives to smear organizers, invoking racist dog-whistles to discredit workers who want a better deal: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/02/amazon-chris-smalls-smart-articulate-leaked-memo

On the other hand, they collude with federal agencies to make workers afraid that their secret ballots will be visible to their bosses, exposing them to retaliation: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/amazon-violated-labor-law-alabama-union-election-labor-official-finds-rcna1582

They hold Cultural Revolution-style forced indoctrination meetings where they illegally threaten workers with punishment for voting in favor of their union: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/31/business/economy/amazon-union-staten-island-nlrb.html

And they fire Amazon tech workers who express solidarity with warehouse workers: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-fires-tech-employees-workers-criticism-warehouse-climate-policies/

But all this is high-touch, labor-intensive fuckery. Amazon, as we know, loves automation, and so it automates much of its union-busting: for example, it created an employee chat app that refused to deliver any message containing words like “fairness” or “grievance…

(6) CHRIS HEMSWORTH TAKES A LIE DETECTOR TEST. Vanity Fair wired up actor Chris Hemsworth and asked him some uncomfortable questions.

Vanity Fair’s May cover star Chris Hemsworth takes our infamous lie detector test. Between him and Matt Damon, who usually pays the bill? Does he think he’s fashionable enough to be a co-chair for the 2024 Met Gala? Is it true that his little brother Liam also auditioned for “Thor”?

(7) THEY’RE THE TOPS. MoovitApp ended up with a list of 30 titles as they went about “Ranking The Most Popular and Beloved Books Of All Time”. Works by Hemingway, Tolkien, Harper Lee, and Nabokov are here – would you like to guess in what order?

It’s hard to say exactly what makes a book great; they are after all, pieces of art that are just as subjective as anything else. However, there are some books that seem to endure for longer and resonate with more readers. Whether or not you’re a fan of literature, these are the stories that some might consider required reading. So, did you read all the best ones, and did your favorite make the list? Read on and see!…

(8) ROGER BOZZETTO (1937-2024). French academic and literary critic Roger Bozzetto died March 20. His passing was reported on Facebook.

The specialist in science fiction and fantastic literature was one of the most important and relevant European SF&F critics and theoreticians.

He was Professor Emeritus of general and comparative literature at the University of Provence, France.

He was also a member of CERLI (Centre d’Études et de Recherches sur les Littératures de l’Imaginaire/Center for Studies and Research on the Literatures of the Imagination, founded in 1979, the pool of great SF&F specialists of the last three decades in the French university landscape).

(9) JEANNIE EPPER (1941-2024). Stuntwoman Jeannie Epper, who worked on myriad films, many genre or genre-adjacent, died May 5 at the age of 83. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute:

Jeannie Epper, the peerless, fearless stunt performer who doubled for Lynda Carter on Wonder Woman and swung on a vine across a 350-foot gorge and propelled down an epic mudslide as Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, has died. She was 83.

Epper died Sunday night of natural causes at her home in Simi Valley, her family told The Hollywood Reporter.

Just one member of a dynasty of stunt performers that Steven Spielberg dubbed the “Flying Wallendas of Film” — starting with her father, John Epper, there have been four generations of Eppers in show business since the 1930s — she worked on 150-plus films and TV shows during an astounding 70-year career.

In 2007, Epper received the first lifetime achievement honor given to a woman at the World Taurus Awards and ranks among the greatest stuntwomen of all time.

Known for her agility, horse-riding skills and competitiveness, the 5-foot-9 Epper also stepped in for Linda Evans on the ABC shows The Big Valley in the 1960s and Dynasty in the 1980s. When Evans’ Krystle was engaged in one of those knock-down, drag-out catfights with Joan Collins’ Alexis, chances are it was Epper you saw mixing it up.

Epper also put herself in harm’s way for Kate Jackson on Charlie’s Angels, for Lindsay Wagner on The Bionic Woman, for Angie Dickinson on Police Woman, for Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me (1971), for Jill Clayburgh in Silver Streak (1976) and for Nancy Allen in RoboCop (1987).

… Epper worked for Spielberg (as director or producer) on eight films, among them Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), 1941 (1979), Poltergeist (1982), Catch Me If You Can (2002) and Minority Report (2002)….


[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born May 6, 1969 Annalee Newitz, 55. By Paul Weimer: Newitz’s work for me has been far less about their science fiction and much more about their non fiction writing. Sure, Autonomous is a solid novel with a lot of things to say about autonomy, slavery, and a heck of a lot about economics and the free market, and gender dynamics. But it is Newitz’s  journalism at i09, Gawker, Gizmodo and elsewhere, writing about society and technology that really drew my attention to their work. That would also include the podcast Our Opinions are Correct, which Newitz co-hosts with Charlie Jane Anders. While I don’t always agree with them and their opinions, I have always found Newitz’ point of view (as well as Charlie Jane’s) to be interesting, strongly reasoned and worthy of engaging in and thinking about. 

Annalee Newitz in 2023. Photo by Scott Edelman.

Newitz’s book Four Lost Cities, to date, is my favorite of their works. Strongly grounded in their journalism chops, the book looks at four cities that have fallen into decay and ruin:  Çatal höyük, one of the very first and earliest of cities, Pompeii, perhaps the most famous and well known of the four cities, Cahokia, the Mound city whose mounds still remain on the other side of the Mississippi from St. Louis, and finally, Angkor Wat.  The last, particularly, was a revelation for me, as I didn’t quite realize the hydraulic engineering that went into and kept Angkor Wat running. Given Newitz’s interest in science and engineering, Newitz is particularly interested in how and when circumstances caused that engineering to slip. And consequently, just how the city’s inhabitants had to face a slow motion collapse and apocalypse. The fall of cities due to internal and external factors definitely loom over the other three cities in the volume as well, but Angkor Wat, as their capstone, definitely is where the themes of the book, and perhaps of a lot of Newitz’s concerns in general, really come to the fore and in full flower and their full powers.


  • Eek! shows the beginnings of an eternal problem.
  • Tom Gauld teases about AI:
  • And here’s Teddy Harvia’s contribution!

(12) UNICORN. Michaele Jordan has allowed File 770 to share her latest micro story published by 50 Give or Take.

(13) VINTAGE X. The final trailer for Marvel Animation’s X-Men ’97 dropped a week ago. The series is on Disney+.

(14) STAR WARS THAT NEVER WAS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid Moidelhoff at Media Death Cult goes all alternate future with a Star Wars film that could have been… “The Star Wars Sequel That Was Never Made”.

We dive into the Star Wars sequel that could have been, Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye.The novel written by Alan Dean Foster.

(15) LEGO STAR WARS. And here’s some more Star Wars that should never be – but which Gizmodo tells us is going to get its own four-part Disney+ animation: “Darth Jar Jar Strikes in Lego’s Crazy New Star Wars Series”. (Can anything including Jar Jar really be called “intellectual property”?)

The Star Wars Universe gets turned upside down in Lego Star Wars: Rebuild the Galaxy, a fun what-if style series. When ordinary nerf-herder Sig Greebling (Gaten Matarazzo) unearths a powerful artifact from a hidden Jedi temple, the galaxy as we know completely changes.

In the four-part special debuting on Disney+ September 13, the good guys are bad, bad guys are good, and it all falls on Sig’s shoulders to become the hero the galaxy needs to put everything back together…. 

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michaele Jordan, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, and Kathy Sullivan for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern. (Daniel was inspired by this Allan Sherman parody.]