Pixel Scroll 12/31/23 The Fewer Pixels, The Less Scrolling

(1) PARENTS OF THE YEAR. Cora Buhlert has posted a wonderful pair of articles explaining her selections for two annual awards she presents.

First: “The 2023 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”.

…The cartoonishly evil parents, meanwhile, show kids that no matter how bad their relationship with their parents may be, at least their parents are not Darth Vader and don’t blow up entire star systems. But these characters also serve another purpose, namely to show kids that they need not be defined by who their parents are. They can be different, they can be more. Luke Skywalker could grow up to become a Jedi knight, even though his biological father did his utmost to exterminate them. Adora could overcome a lifetime of gaslighting to become She-Ra, the heroine she was always meant to be. Particularly to kids growing up in less than ideal circumstances, these are very powerful messages….

The winner is:

Miro of the House of Niros, High King of Eternia

Some of you may now be asking, “Who?”, while others may be wondering “Why?” Like I said, this winner will probably be a little controversial….

For the reasons Cora gives I didn’t feel much was spoiled by naming the winner here. Because now you want to go and read the post just to find out who the heck that is.

However, when it comes to the winner of “The 2023 Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award”, I don’t want to steal any thunder from the presentation:

… As for why I felt the need to introduce a companion award, depictions of parenthood in popular culture have been undergoing a paradigm shift in the past few years with more positive portrayals of supportive and loving parents and fewer utterly terrible parents. Personally, I believe that this shift is a very good thing, because the reason that I started the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in the first place is because I was annoyed by all the terrible parents in pop culture. For while most real world parents may not be perfect, at least they do their best….

(2) HONOURS LIST 2024. The UK’s New Year Honours List 2024 includes a number of celebrities, a couple of them of genre interest. In the Guardian: “Glastonbury founder and TikTok organist make new year honours list”.

…The author Kate Mosse received a CBE, which she said was a recognition of the importance of the Women’s prize for fiction, of which she is a co-founder.

The novelist, 62, whose books have been translated into 38 languages and published in more than 40 countries, is best known for the Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and The Joubert Family Chronicles – The Burning Chambers, The City Of Tears and The Ghost Ship.

She has been made a CBE for services to literature, to women and to charity.

The Women’s prize for fiction is now one of the biggest literary prizes in the world. Mosse said everybody involved in it “deserves all the accolades they could have”, as she applauded the “group effort”.

She added: “Quite often those things do get overlooked, not deliberately, but just there isn’t a system for them.

“So it does feel that although obviously this is for me, it’s very much an acknowledgment of the importance of the Women’s prize, and that it matters that women support other women.”

Elsewhere in literature, the bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith was knighted. The creator of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series as well as the 44 Scotland Street novels has been given a knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity.

In film and television, the director and producer Sir Ridley Scott, whose works include Gladiator, Alien and Napoleon, is made a Knight Grand Cross, upgrading his previous knighthood, while Game Of Thrones actor Oliver Ford Davies has said he is “honoured” to be made an OBE. The performer, 84, best known for his Shakespearean stage work, found new fans as Maester Cressen in the HBO fantasy series and as Sio Bibble in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films released in 1999, 2002 and 2005. He has been recognised for services to drama….

(3) ABDICATING IN JANUARY. “Queen Margrethe II of Denmark to Step Down” reports the New York Times. And why is that story part of today’s Scroll? Keep reading.

…Much of the queen’s popularity has been tied to her personality and artistic streak. Even after she entered the line of succession at 13, she pursued her interest in art, earning a diploma in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge and studying at Aarhus University in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.

She also produced her own artwork, including paintings shown in museums, decoupages — a type of cut-and-paste artwork — and drawings. (Her illustrations were adapted for a “Lord of the Ring” book under a pseudonym, Ingahild Grathmer; the book’s publisher approached her after she sent copies to J.R.R. Tolkien as fan mail in 1970.)

More recently, she served as the costume and production designer for “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction,” a Netflix film adapting a fairy tale, that includes wardrobes and sets based on her drawings and other artworks. “I work when I can find the time,” she told The New York Times this past year, “and I seem usually to be able to find the time.”…

(4) WHO’S TO BLAME FOR BILLIONAIRES’ PET PROJECTS. Noah Smith offers a post “In defense of science fiction” at Noahpinion.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a big fan of science fiction (see my list of favorites from last week)! So when people start bashing the genre, I tend to leap to its defense. Except this time, the people doing the bashing are some serious heavyweights themselves — Charles Stross, the celebrated award-winning sci-fi author, and Tyler Austin Harper, a professor who studies science fiction for a living. Those are certainly not the kind of opponents one takes on lightly! (And I happen to like and respect both of them.)

So yes, I’m still going to leap to science fiction’s defense, but I’m going to do it very carefully….

… Instead of billionaires mistaking well-intentioned sci-fi authors’ intentions, Stross is alleging that the billionaires are getting Gernsback and Campbell’s intentions exactly right. His problem is simply that Gernsback and Campbell were kind of right-wing, at least by modern standards, and he’s worried that their sci-fi acted as propaganda for right-wing ideas.

This is a much simpler argument, but it’s also harder to evaluate. Where does the causality lie? Do right-wing billionaires arrive at their political convictions by reading right-wing sci-fi? Or do they simply prefer literature that’s aligned with their existing values? This is really hard to know. For what it’s worth, my impulse says it’s the latter — there’s such an ideological and stylistic diversity of sci-fi out there in the world that anyone who reads it widely will encounter a very wide range of political viewpoints. For every Robert Heinlein there’s an Ursula K. LeGuin, for every Vernor Vinge there’s an Iain M. Banks. Heck, there’s even a Charles Stross….

(5) SPUFFORD ON ‘THE BOOKS OF MY LIFE’. [Item by Steven French.] “Francis Spufford: ‘It was the sorrow of my life at age 10 that there wasn’t one more Narnia book to read’” he tells the Guardian. Spufford is a prize-winning non-fiction and fiction author who gives several shout-outs to SFF works here.

(Regarding the “one more Narnia book”, according to Wikipedia, “In March 2019, it was reported that Spufford had written an unofficial novel, The Stone Table, set in the universe of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. This takes place during a gap in fictional fiction between The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Spufford distributed self-printed copies to friends. The novel was praised as a ‘seamless recreation of Lewis’s writing-style’. The author hoped to obtain permission from the C. S. Lewis estate to publish it commercially. In the absence of permission, the earliest publication date would be 2034, seventy years after Lewis’s death, when the copyright on the original books will expire in the UK.”)

My earliest reading memory
Tolkien’s The Hobbit, read around the time of my sixth birthday, when I was home from school with mumps. It turned me from a painstaking decoder of printed letters into someone flying through a new medium. Books have been portals for me ever since. Many other things too, but portals first.

My favourite book growing up
CS Lewis’s Narnia books. It was the sorrow of my life at the age of 10 that there wasn’t one more of them to read. A few years ago I found myself in a position to do something about that, at least for myself, but (cough) I am under legal obligations not to talk about it.

The book that changed me as a teenager
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, which did things I didn’t know were allowed with gender and with the shape of story, and showed me that an imagined setting, a built world, could ring as true narratively as anything observed in the rooms or the streets of this world.


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 74. I first encountered her stellar editing when I picked up the first volume of what would Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror but was then just Year’s Best Fantasy, then edited by both her and Terri Windling (who with volume two explicitly took over the the horror selection.) (From the sixteenth volume to the last one, the twenty-second,  Windling was replaced by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant.) Any volume has enough excellent fiction for many evening of great reading. 

(The packager for these told me in an email conversation that there were discussions about bring these out as epubs. Unfortunately as those rights weren’t incorporated in the original contracts with the authors, that wasn’t possible.) 

Not surprisingly, the series picked up multiple World Fantasy Awards. And a Stoker as well. 

Speaking of Awards, let’s do this now. Ellen Datlow has won the Hugo for Best Professional Editor twice, and the Hugo for Best Editor – Short Form six times. Her editing work has garnered five Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards for Best Anthology, three Shirley Jackson Awards for Best Anthology, as well as ten World Fantasy Awards. She was named recipient of the  Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention, for “outstanding contribution to the genre”. And she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association. I’m very, very impressed. 

Now back to her actual editing work. So what else should we be looking at? Well everything she’s edited is top notch but that goes with saying, so let’s narrow down just a bit by dealing with what I like the best. 

Thirty years ago, she and Terri Windling (no surprise  who her co-editor was) started out their Fairy Tale anthologies which I’m going to list all of their titles here because I adore them — Snow White, Blood RedBlack Thorn, White Rose, Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears,  Black Swan, White RavenSilver Birch, Blood Moon and Black Heart, Ivory Bones. As always their choices in stories are exquisite. 

Next for me in terms of how great they are is the Mythic Fiction anthologies, again edited with Windling. There’s four and I’ll single out The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest and The Coyote Road as the ones I like the best.

Ok, so there’s one-offs of which she’s done at least three dozen to date. My absolute favorite? Another one she edited with Windling — Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy. No theme, just great stories.  Haunted Legends edited with Nick Mamatas is themed obviously and you can tell that theme; it is deliciously scary, and the Hauntings anthology which edited by no one but herself is darker and has more of a bite to it. 

Supernatural Noir, another one of her solo efforts, is worth reading just for Caitlín R. Kiernan’s “The Maltese Unicorn”. Seriously it is. 

She’s knee deep in the blood associated with editing, sorry I couldn’t resist, her ongoing The Best Horror of The Year anthology series, now fourteen volumes long. And if you want to see what she thinks is interesting for genre books, she does that over at Cemetery Dance in The Last Ten Books I’ve Read column, the last being the March issue of this year as that publication isn’t known for its regular date of coming out. Ever.  

David G. Hartwell, left, Ellen Datlow, right, at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and © Andrew Porter.


  • Eek! covers all the monsters’ New Year’s Resolutions.  

(8) TOPICS IN ANIME. A new episode of Anime Explorations has dropped just in time to wrap up the year:: Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 15: Anime Music Videos & Arcadia of My Youth”.

This month we memorialize Leiji Matsumoto and the creator of the Anime Music Video (not necessarily in that order).

We also talked about the Macross II Kickstarter,

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mr. Sci-Fi – Marc Scott Zicree – joins a tour of Hollywood sff props in “Space Command Coolest Props Ever!!!”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Michael Burianyk, Alexander Case, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jan Vaněk Jr.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/17 Appertained Horror

(1) APPROACHES TO MILSF. Greg Hullender’s review of “Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan” for Rocket Stack Rank includes this analysis:

Make Love not War

The stories take the following attitudes toward the military:

Hate it. Soldiers are doing evil: 7

Despise it. Soldiers are wasting their lives: 3

Admire/respect it. Soldiers are heroes: 5

All of the recommended stories are from the last group, which is a little odd. It’s perfectly possible to write a great story from an anti-military point of view or with an anti-war message (e.g. Catch 22), but that’s not what we find in this volume. Perhaps it’s just a lot easier to write good military SF if you don’t actually hate the military.

(2) I SCREAM. Freddie In Space and artist Frank Browning invite you to cool down with Ben & Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream flavors. There are over two dozen like this –

(3) LET DARKNESS FALL. Coming October 10 at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:

The recent solar eclipse transfixed the world. People in the path of totality marveled at the corona and how the air temperature dropped briefly and, in some parts of the country, the cicadas began to sing as if it were night. But the eclipse also offers a world of possibilities for scientific discovery. Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, joins us at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to discuss his observations of eclipses–66 solar eclipses, including 34 total solar eclipses–and the NSF and National Geographic supported discoveries these have yielded. Dozens of cameras, including a pair of frame-transfer CCDs, were trained on the corona to isolate the specific emissions of 13-times-ionized iron (“the coronal green line”) and 9-times-ionized iron (“the coronal red line”) at high cadence, to attempt to distinguish among models for how the corona is heated to millions of degrees. Dr. Pasachoff will discuss this work and plans for future total, partial, and annular eclipse observations over the next few years, including the 2023 and 2024 American eclipses.

(4) REFORMAUTOMATION. The Babylon Bee promises “New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions”.

Dubbed the “Amazon Luther,” the new device is programmed to answer all your theology questions in the Reformer’s trademark aggressive tone and style.

An Amazon rep gave a demo at the press conference announcing the device, showing off some of its dynamic responses:

“Luther, can you tell me about the Pope?”

The Pope is a mere tormentor of conscience. The assembly of his greased and religious crew in praying is altogether like the croaking of frogs, which edifies nothing at all.

“Luther, am I a good person?”

You are a sinner, you’re dead, you’re eaten up with corruption. Every free choice of yours is evil and not good.

“Luther, is Joel Osteen a solid preacher?”

Yes, Joel is an excellent person, as skillful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp.

(5) DANIEL OBIT. Actress Jennifer Daniel (1936-2017) died August 16. Her film appearances included the Edgar Wallace Mysteries film series, Gideon’s Way and the Hammer horror films The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) and The Reptile (1966).

(6) WE LIVE IN HIS VISION OF THE FUTURE. The New York Times eulogizes architect Gin Wong, who died September 1: “Gin Wong, Who Designed Futuristic Buildings in Los Angeles, Dies at 94”. He put his creative mark on the city with CBS Television City, the Los Angeles International Airport theme building, and his 1960 design of a Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills:

— that remains one of his most beloved and enduring. With its red, swooping canopy angling toward the sky, the gas station wed the space age to the mundane task of filling up in a city devoted to cars.

Mr. Wong designed the gas station while working for his former teacher and mentor, William L. Pereira, around the time that he was also credited with creating the startling, spider-like Theme Building at the Los Angeles airport. Writing in The Los Angeles Times in 2010, the critic Bob Pool called the building “part spaceship, part flying saucer” and said that Mr. Wong had “set out to create a futuristic building that would both reflect its relationship with aviation and stand the test of time.”

…While running Mr. Pereira’s company in the late 1960s, Mr. Wong oversaw the design of the Transamerica Pyramid, the striking 853-foot-tall building that pierces the sky in San Francisco.


  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
  • September 23, 1962 The Jetsons aired its very first episode.
  • September 23, 1968 Charly premiered in theaters, based on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

(8) SFF MADE IT HAPPEN. Lezli Robyn thanks the sff community for donating to her GoFundMe appeal all the money needed for her eye surgery.

I am feeling so very overwhelmed, happy, and so very thankful. Gofundme donators have now raised the entire $8000 needed for a new and 100% successful cross-linking surgery on my eyes to halt the progression of my Keratoconus !!! I would love to thank my family and friends and the many authors, editors, publishers, artists and readers/fans of the sf/fantasy field for amazingly generous donations made to the surprise fundraiser my boss, Shahid Mahmud (who deserves the most thanks!), created to help me raise the money.

I have so many people to thank. I am especially thankful to the readers who donated—the people who, like me, might not have too much to spare, but still donated anyway. Even one of the first fans of my writing, a voracious reader, donated and left such a lovely message on my fundraiser (I’m looking at you, Jo Van Ekeren) that it moved me to tears.

In fact, I have been brought to tears several times over the amazing outpouring of generosity of the donations and the lovely messages written by those who have shared the fundraiser all over the web. And, let me tell you, it’s quite the bittersweet experience for me when I cry. My tears fill in the thinned parts of my corneas that the Keratoconus has eroded over the years, creating a more even, rounded, surface. So even if it was sadness that had caused my tears, for that split second my vision sharpens I experience a moment of wonder and surprise as I see how beautiful and vibrant the world really is, until gravity or the blink of an eye causes the tears to fall to my cheeks.

So, I thank you for the tears; I thank you for your generosity. I have always maintained that the sf/fantasy community operates a lot like a family. It might be a sometimes dysfunctional and controversial family at times, but it is a field notorious for paying it forward to the younger generation. Well, you guys have paid it forward this month to give me sight, in a field I like to think is full of vision for the future, and I can’t show my appreciation enough. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

(9) LAW LAW LAND. A new legal specialty: “An Accident On The Moon, Young Lawyers To The Rescue”.

…Boggs and her two teammates are the North American finalists for this year’s competition, and next week they’ll go up against teams from South Africa, Greece and India for the big prize.

Each team argues both sides of a case set in the future, in space. This year’s case is, in the broadest terms, about a traffic accident on the moon….

Titan believes that Perovsk’s mining operation is releasing pollution and contaminating experiments, so they send a rover to investigate.

“They collide,” says Boggs. “Now everyone’s upset.”

Perovsk sues Titan over the damaged equipment in the International Court of Justice. Titan accuses Perovsk of breaking the law by polluting the moon. It’s unclear who should pay for what, and why. Rovers don’t carry insurance, and there’s a larger question about who has the right to use, or pollute, the moon in the first place.

Boggs says the case exemplifies one of her favorite things about space law: it’s ambiguous.

“It’s sort of hard not to say anything controversial in space law because everyone has a different opinion about what space law should do,” she explains. Space law is largely based on two treaties, the Outer Space Treaty and the moon Agreement, plus more general international law applied to space. But there’s tension within the treaties about what space should be used for.

(10) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS, OF COURSE. Brian Niemeier, in “The Convergence of Science Fiction”, joined a YouTuber to share his unique insight into sff history.

YouTuber Max Kolbe recently had me on his show to explain how the SJW convergence of tradpub science fiction happened. Max is particularly interested in the sudden shift from stories that took the Christian worldview for granted to overtly atheistic, anti-religious works. We discussed how John W. Campbell ended the reign of the pulps and how the Futurians fomented a Marxist revolution in SF publishing.

The Futurians? So…. The SJW Convergence happened…before World War 2? Before Heinlein published his first story? Before the invention of the paperback? Not just before TOR books was started, but before Tom Doherty enrolled in kindergarten? Talk about reductio ad absurdum….

(11) IN VINO SFF. Paste says “Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Commemorative Wine Will Be a Thing”.

We’re used to something like a coin, a keychain or at the very least toilet paper as commemorative items—but Square Enix, along with The Wine House in Los Angeles, are taking the more classy route. The two wines offered will be limited edition, one being “a 2016 Château des Bois red wine with hints of strawberry” called “Ifrit Rouge,” named after the classic fire summon from Final Fantasy. Along with Ifrit Rogue will come its counterpart, “Shiva Blanc” (after an ice summon), “a well-balanced 2015 Château des Bois white wine.”

Both bottles will be adorned with a 30th Anniversary logo, and will be packaged in boxes featuring art of the summons the drinks are named after. Of course, you have to be of the legal drinking age of 21 to order these online, with Ifrit Rogue available online here, and Shiva Blanc here. According to The Wine House’s website, these will ship in the beginning of this November to arrive by the end of that month

(12) CLASSICAL AND NEOCLASSICAL TREK. Alex Zalben watches a succession of Star Trek series pilots/first episodes and tweets his judgments. This pair will get you into the thread.

(13) RECALL BOOK WE WILL. If this Saudi artist is never heard from again, you’ll know why:

A social studies textbook in Saudi Arabia was recalled for including a photo depicting a Star Wars character next to a king.

The black and white photo, by Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, features the small, green Jedi Yoda seated next to King Faisal as he signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945.

…Shehri, a 26-year-old artist who goes by the nickname Shaweesh, created the image as part of a series that inserts pop culture characters into historical photos and learned it had turned up in a textbook through a text from his mother.

“I am the one who designed it, but I am not the one who put it in the book,” he told the New York Times.

Shehri said he decided to insert Yoda into the photo because he reminded him of King Faisal and is the same color as the Saudi flag.

“He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,” he said. “So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king. And also Yoda and his light saber — it’s all green.”

Sure, absolutely, I don’t doubt it for a moment.

(14) THE WAY THE FUTURE WASN’T. Noah Smith in “What We Didn’t Get” in his blog Noahpinion compares the successful predictions of the cyberpunk era to the failures of 1950s sf writers to adequately foresee the future and concludes that the reason Silver Age writers didn’t adequately predict the future was that “we ran out of theoretical physics, and we ran out of energy.”

If you watch Star Trek or Star Wars, or read any of the innumerable space operas of the mid-20th century, they all depend on a bunch of fancy physics. Faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity, force fields of various kinds. In 1960, that sort of prediction might have made sense. Humanity had just experienced one of the most amazing sequences of physics advancements ever. In the space of a few short decades, humankind discovered relativity and quantum mechanics, invented the nuclear bomb and nuclear power, and created the x-ray, the laser, superconductors, radar and the space program. The early 20th century was really a physics bonanza, driven in large part by advances in fundamental theory. And in the 1950s and 1960s, those advances still seemed to be going strong, with the development of quantum field theories. Then it all came to a halt. After the Standard Model was completed in the 1970s, there were no big breakthroughs in fundamental physics.

(15) THE KID WHO NEVER STOPS INVENTING. Well, that kind of negativity won’t fly with Molly!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]