Pixel Scroll 8/22/21 Ain’t No Mount TBR High Enough

(1) RAY BRADBURY’S 101ST. John King Tarpinian commemorated Ray Bradbury’s birthday, as he does each year, with a visit to the writer’s burial place:

Left Ray some Montag typing paper & a Faber pencil.  Plus a half-bottle of Dandelion Wine & a skate key from the Chicago Roller Skate Company.

(2) CHICAGO HONORS WOLFE. The late Gene Wolfe will be among those inducted to the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on September 19.  As a former Fuller Award honoree he gained automatic induction upon his death. (Via Locus Online.)

(3) THE PLANETS OF SWEDEN. Ingvar livetweeted his latest tour of the inner planets of Sweden’s Solar System model . Ingvar’s thread starts here. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are in Stockholm. The rest of the model is spread across the country.  

(4) AUSSIE NATCON CANCELED. Conflux, the annual Canberra convention which was also designated this year’s Australian national convention, won’t be held due to COVID concerns: “Conflux 2021 Cancelled” reports SFFANZ. See the announcement at the Conflux website.

Conflux is a speculative fiction convention held annually in Canberra. Like many conventions, Conflux in 2020 and 2021 have had to be cancelled due to the global pandemic. 

We will refund all registrations in the coming weeks, and the Rydges Hotel cancellation policy includes a full refund as long as you cancel more than 24 hours in advance.

We are currently working on how we can host the Ditmars and will advise further once we have everything in place for that.

(5) TINGLE PROVES LOVE TO HUGO VOTERS. Camestros Felapton’s autopsy of the 2016 Hugo Awards includes one lively memory — “Debarkle Chapter 58: Hugos and Dragons and Puppies Again”.

…If the impact of the Puppies was more ambiguous in 2016 it was still no less visible. There had been hope that the huge numbers of people who had joined Worldcon and voted against the Puppies in 2015 would translate into overwhelming numbers at the nomination phase. However, without a coordinated slate, a large number of people voting for a wide range of different things will not necessarily out vote a much smaller number voting for a slate. Over four thousand nomination ballots had been cast and of those maybe less than 10% were people following the Rabid Puppy slate[6] but in more popular categories, Day included more “hostages” on his slate and concentrated his more controversial picks on down-ballot categories….

With the Sad Puppies largely absent from the fight and with most of the substantive arguments having already played out in 2015, the 2016 award season was less riven with feuding disputes. There was a degree of pressure on some finalist who had been on the Rabid Puppy slate to withdraw but few did. Included in those who had been asked to withdraw was erotic humorist Chuck Tingle whose short story Space Raptor Butt Invasion had been slated by Vox Day in an attempt to mock the Hugo Awards. Tingle didn’t withdraw but instead turned his attention to mocking Vox Day and rolling the whole process of being nominated into his bizarre metafictional book titles….

(6) STINKERS. Buzzfeed lists “18 Movies That Were Completely Worthless” based on a Reddit thread. Would you like to guess how many are sff? Some of them are hard to classify – like the one below.

We all know that feeling. You finish a movie, and you can’t believe you just wasted two hours of your life that you’ll never get back…

8. The Emoji Movie

“It was a soulless corporate husk of a movie built on ads. Literally, ads the movie. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about the movie. It’s morally, creatively, and ethically bankrupt. I’m actually angry remembering I wasted two hours of my life watching that fucking movie.”

(7) RAIN ON YOUR ALIEN PARADE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post Magazine, Joel Achenbach, who wrote a book (Captured By Aliens) about “the search for extraterrestrial life,” takes a deep dive into the evidence for space aliens and conclude we’re alone in the universe and should work on problems we can solve instead of daydreaming about space aliens. “It’s time to stop UFO mania”.

…I’m wary of returning to that strange universe, because anything I write is guaranteed to be unsatisfying for everyone involved. My strong suspicion is that the number of UFO sightings that involve actual alien beings, from deep space, with the tentacles and the antennae and so on, is zero. I would put the likelihood at 0.0000 and then add some more zeros, before eventually, begrudgingly — because I’m so intellectually flexible — putting in a little 1 out there somewhere to the right, a lonely sentinel, because who knows? (Yes, I’m saying there’s a chance.)

This skeptical take, however, is the boring take. A better story would be that, after all these decades as a skeptic, I’ve converted, because the recent rash of UFO sightings has persuaded me that these are, in actual fact, spaceships from somewhere else in the universe, or perhaps from the future, and could even be future humans, such as grad students getting their PhDs in paleoanthropology. Much better story.

Science journalists regularly disappoint people by refusing to confirm really cool things like UFOs, past-life recall, astral projection, telekinesis, clairvoyance and so on. When I wrote my aliens book I made a disastrous marketing mistake by not including any aliens in the story, focusing instead on people who believe in aliens. Thus it was a major disappointment for readers who bought a copy after finding it in the “Occult” section at Barnes & Noble….

(8) ELLISON ON THE AIR. J. Michael Straczynski has made available, in a now-unlocked Patreon post, a recording of one of the Harlan Ellison-hosted episodes of Hour 25 aired in 1986 by LA radio station KPFK.

Meanwhile, here’s an exclusive treat for Patrons who are/were fans of Harlan Ellison: his HOUR 25 interview with best-selling horror author Clive Barker.  (Harlan copyrighted the shows he hosted under the Kilimanjaro Corporation and I don’t believe this has been heard anywhere since its initial airing.)  It’s vastly entertaining, educational for writers, and very funny in places.  This is the broadcast exactly as it went out on at 10 p.m PST, August 30th, 1986, with roughly 90 minutes of the most engaging conversation you’re apt to hear this month.


2001 – On this day twenty years ago, the Legend series ended its very brief run on UPN. A sort of steampunk Western, it was developed by Michael Piller, who is best known for his contributions to the Star Trek franchise, and  Bill Dail who is responsible for Sliders. It really had only two primary characters in the form of Ernest Pratt / Nicodemus Legend as played by Richard Dean Anderson and Janos Bartok as played by John de Lancie. It would run for the briefest of times as I noted, just twelve episodes before being cancelled. Every critic compared it to The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., some favorably and some not. The New York Post critic called it “a gorgeous amalgam of science fiction and old-fashioned Western”.  It, like so many short run series, has no Rotten Tomatoes rating. Nor does it exist on any of the streaming services. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 22, 1907 Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek. It must be decades since I’ve seen that episode but I still remember liking it a lot, silly though it be. It’s kind of the ancestor to the holodeck, isn’t it? McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born August 22, 1919 Douglas W F Mayer. A British fan who was editor for  three issues of Amateur Science Stories published by the Science Fiction Association of Leeds, England. He was thereby the publisher of Arthur C. Clarke’s very first short story, “Travel by Wire”, which appeared in the second issue in December 1937. He would later edit the Tomorrow fanzine which would be nominated for the 1939 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo. (Died 1976.)
  • Born August 22, 1920 Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite work by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit, with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to works by him. Though he won no Hugos as his best work predated them, he’s won six Retro Hugos for a best novel, two best short stories, twice for fan writer and one for best fanzine. The Martian Chronicles film was nominated for a Hugo at Denvention Two, the year The Empire Strikes Back won; Something Wicked This Way Comes would go up against the Return of The Jedi which won at L.A. Con II. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 22, 1925 Honor Blackman. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”. Genre adjacent, she was in the film of Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary as Rita Vandemeyer. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 22, 1931 Douglas Cramer. He produced twenty-four episodes of the original Trek, and he was Executive Producer of Wonder Woman. His only writing credit was for The Cat People. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 22, 1945 David Chase, 76. He’s here today mainly because he wrote nine episodes including the “Kolchak: Demon and the Mummy” telefilm of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. He also wrote the screenplay for The Grave of The Vampire, and one for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Enough Rope fur Two”, which he also directed. And yes, he wrote many of the scripts for Northern Exposure which is at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born August 22, 1955 Will Shetterly, 66. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, which were both nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature , and his sort of biographical Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing as you’ll spot Minnesota fans in it. Emma as the Elf Queen is definitely something to behold! 
  • Born August 22, 1963 Tori Amos, 58. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams, and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman series is based on her. 

(11) TAKING THE LID OFF. The table of contents has been revealed for What One Wouldn’t Do: An Anthology on the Lengths One Might Go edited by Scott J. Moses. Comes out October 5.

With dark fiction from J.A.W. McCarthy, Avra Margariti, Marisca Pichette, Stephanie Ellis, Christina Wilder, Donna Lynch, Katie Young, Scott J. Moses, Angela Sylvaine, tom reed, Cheri Kamei, Shane Douglas Keene, J.V. Gachs, Tim McGregor, Emma E. Murray, Nick Younker, Jennifer Crow, Joanna Koch, Lex Vranick, Laurel Hightower, Eric Raglin, Eric LaRocca, Daniel Barnett, Bob Johnson, Simone le Roux, Hailey Piper, Bryson Richard, Jena Brown, and Christi Nogle.

(12) NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S ANIMATRONICS. The New York Times wants to know, “Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots?”

Not an imitation Groot conjured with video or those clunky virtual reality goggles. The Walt Disney Company’s secretive research and development division, Imagineering, had promised a walking, talking, emoting Groot, as if the arboreal “Avengers” character had jumped off the screen and was living among us.

But first I had to find him. GPS had guided me to a warehouse on a dead-end street in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb. The place seemed deserted. As soon as I parked, however, a man warily appeared from behind a jacaranda tree. Yes, I had an appointment. No, I was not hiding any recording devices. He made a phone call, and I was escorted into the warehouse through an unmarked door behind a dumpster.

In the back near a black curtain a little wrinkled hand waved hello.

It was Groot.

He was about three feet tall and ambled toward me with wide eyes, as if he had discovered a mysterious new life form. He looked me up and down and introduced himself….

…The development of Groot — code-named Project Kiwi — is the latest example. He is a prototype for a small-scale, free-roaming robotic actor that can take on the role of any similarly sized Disney character. In other words, Disney does not want a one-off. It wants a technology platform for a new class of animatronics….

(13) AS THE STEM IS BENT. NASA entices scholars with a loaded webpage: “Launch Back to School With NASA: Student and Educator Resources for the 2021-2022 School Year”.

As students across the country are saying goodbye to the summer and the new school year is kicking off, NASA is gearing up to engage students in exciting activities and thought-provoking challenges throughout the year ahead. The agency offers many resources to inspire the next generation of explorers, and help educators and students stay involved in its missions.

“Back-to-school season is a really exciting time for NASA. It represents the beginning of a new year of opportunities to connect with students, and the families and teachers who support them,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer this variety of activities and options for students from K-12 to the collegiate level, whether they’re returning to a brick-and-mortar school or a virtual classroom at home.”

Below, NASA has prepared a long list of mission-related resources and opportunities for students, educators, and families to utilize during the 2021-2022 school year. Follow NASA STEM on Twitter and Facebook social media channels using the hashtags #BacktoSchool and #NASASTEM for additional content and updates….

(14) CELEBRATE LANDSAT. At another page, “NASA Invites You to Create Landsat-Inspired Arts and Crafts”.

Share Your Earth-Inspired Art – For 50 years, Landsat satellites have collected images of Earth from space. On Sept. 16, Landsat 9 is scheduled to launch and continue this legacy. Crafters of all ages are invited to share Landsat-inspired art creations.


  1. Search the Landsat Image Gallery for an image that inspires you.
  2. Get crafting! This can be anything from watercolor paintings to knitted accessories to a tile mosaic – whatever sparks your creativity.
  3. Share your creation with us on social media using the hashtag #LandsatCraft

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In 2018, Jay Leno’s Garage did a demo of Jay driving Doc Brown’s DeLorean.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Hertz: Love That Loscon

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 965) Loscon XXXVIII was held 25-27 Nov at the L.A. Int’l Airport Marriott Hotel (local s-f con, annually on United States’ Thanksgiving weekend; hosted by the LASFS [L.A. S-F Soc.], not the unrelated if overlapping SCIFI [S. Cal. Inst. for Fan Interests]).  Author Guest of Honor, John DeChancie; Illustrator, Aldo Spadoni; Science, Col. Rick Searfoss, U.S. Air Force (ret.); Fan, me.  Chair, Arlene Satin.  Attendance 1,000; in the Art Show, sales $5,700 by 35 artists.

Searfoss had flown Columbia and Atlantis and commanded a Spacelab mission.  Spadoni won Best Amateur Astronomical in the Discon II (’74 World Science Fiction Convention) Art Show at age 17, got an M.I.T. degree, worked at Hughes and for the past twenty-five years at Northrop, meanwhile consulting on Apollo 13 (R. Howard dir. 1995) and Iron Man (J. Favreau dir. 2008, 2010) and painting Niven & Pournelle space ships, some exhibited in the Loscon Art Show.  DeChancie besides his pro career has been an active fan, serving as LASFS Secretary, making friends with the Vegrants in Las Vegas, contributing regularly to APA-L.

At Opening Ceremonies, Satin showing images of might-be flying cars had to ask if we really wanted any.  Searfoss could only come Saturday.  Spadoni modestly said he was an aerospace engineer.  DeChancie said he’d never heard of fanzines until Cantor sent him Holier Than Thou.  I, not crediting Tom Whitmore who at Denvention III (’08 Worldcon) made Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi with “Run and find out” his new inner avatar, said again Why wait to be taught?

Starting a Classics of S-F talk on Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles (1950) I asked what made it appealing today.  From the audience: it reaches everyone, the masses, the literary.  Another: it has simplicity, like Wilder’s Our Town (1938).  Another: it’s polychromatic.  Reading the first paragraph aloud, I said Chronicles attracts with beauty.  Bradbury is an act no one has followed.  Mike Glyer in the audience said, it rouses willing suspension of disbelief.  I said, or creates belief.

The s-f broadcast Hour 25 interviewed us honorees.  DeChancie said he thought Starrigger (1983) was a straightforward adventure until a review called it howlingly funny and he realized he’d put in a good line every third page.  Spadoni said engineering visualizers learned from Hollywood how handheld-camera footage looked, and built computer software accordingly.  I said I liked to share my toys with my friends.

Greg Benford had asked me to help with a talk on his Wonderful Future That Never Was (2010).  We sat on tables to be heard in a crowded room.  People suppose combining two technologies will be twice as productive; more usually it’s been half.  The quantitative is where bright ideas go wrong, like jetpacks.  NASA, he said, was a jobs program.  The ghost of F.D. Roosevelt, I answered, says that to do things you have to get votes somehow.

Heard in the Art Show, “I couldn’t find my combat boots.”  A parade, with costumes and a drum, “What do we want?”  “Flying cars!”  “When do we want them?”  “Yesterday!”  In truth the best time for them.  Benford with Naomi Fisher peeked at Regency Dancing.  Later I accosted him, “You fell for my s-f author’s illusion.”  He said “What?”  I said “You don’t really have a faster-than-light space drive.”  He said “You mean those people haven’t really been impossibly elegant all their lives.”

Jan Bender, Jerome Scott, Becky Thomson, and a host of others helped me build the Rotsler Award exhibit.  The judges (Claire Brialey, Glyer, and I; see if you like, www.scifiinc.org/rotsler.) had decided it should go to D West.  I’d spent the usual hours poring over fanzines for samples.  A kind of sticky-both-sides tape had been recommended; it kept failing; I, the Art Show staff, Glyer, and passers-by spent all week­end putting things back up.  At home a West letter waited.  He declined.  We determined there would be no 2011 Award.

Spadoni’s punctiliously detailed ships could have been contemporary.  A Rick Sternbach giclée took The Mote in God’s Eye (1974) differently, the Mote red, all else blue and white, a far viewpoint for simplicity. Selina Phanara’s “Aloha” and “Tiki” showed her mastery of cut and colored paper.  Mary Jane Jewell’s quilts were strongest in “Tropical Sun”, red and gold, its eyes askance.  I was as ever glad to see the Illustrators of the Future contest exhibiting, not least because entries are often from outside the s-f community, and the contest by nature encourages monochrome, which current fads neglect.  Of Richard Man’s monochrome photographs I much liked “Echoes of China”, his celestial eye seeing a classic landscape in the mist of Tomales Bay.

I moderated Niven and Pournelle in a twentieth-anniversary discussion of Fallen Angels.  Pournelle said “We tried to draw characters generically.  Any fandom has people like these.”  Maybe.  From the audience, “I didn’t recognize anyone, but I saw they knew things that affected their actions.”  Another: it’s funny.  Another: the big picture has changed surprisingly little.

Saturday night I circulated some after shopping for the Prime Time Party (1 a.m. Sunday to dawn each Loscon; you, dear reader, are invited) with co-hosts Thomson and Tom Veal.  Chaz Boston Baden shaved his beard leaving a mustache, and put on a bowtie and hair pomade, to help with a Kansas City for 2016 Worldcon bidding party; fliers showed Harry Truman with a newspaper headlined “Password is ‘Goats’” (the friends of Tom Pendergast 1873-1945).  We opened and closed as advertised – in fact we went till 9:30 a.m. – people coming and going in tides.

At the talk on Blish’s Jack of Eagles (1952), Jim Young in the audience said “Again Blish shows himself a stylist.”  Another: Martian Chronicles doesn’t engage with any particular person; Jack does.  Another, “I read it for the first time this morning.”  I recalling Sturgeon’s “Science fiction is knowledge fiction” said “Jack’s what-if being scientific proof of paranormal powers, look how intellectually clumsy, though powerful, are the characters who take them mystically.”  At the talk on Frank’s Alas, Babylon (1959) someone said “I still remember scenes from reading it on publication.”  Another, “It focusses on a small group.”  Another, “It’s hopeful.”  I read aloud the last nine words.  About Babylon’s treatment of race relations, and civilization, I said “Look at art – painting, singing or playing music – who’s doing it?”

At Closing Ceremonies, Spadoni in a superb gesture gave Satin one of his space ships.  I couldn’t improve on that so said again In fandom the difference is participation.