Pixel Scroll 12/19/18 The Black Hole Singularity’s A Feinman Private Place, But None, I fear, Do From There Escape

(1) DUBLIN 2019 ADDS FACILITIES. Next year’s Worldcon is branching out to accommodate a growing membership: “Dublin 2019 Expands: Announcing Dublin 2019’s New Creative Hub”. Chair James Bacon told fandom:

It is with excitement that I write to share that Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon is expanding.

We have watched as membership increases beyond our expectations, and have been working for some time now on how to ensure we can welcome and accommodate everyone.

We also want to ensure that any expansion works to improve the experience for members who come along, while taking into account that there is not a building directly next to the Convention Centre Dublin that we can expand into.

Eight hundred and fifty meters from the CCD, or just over half a mile, are a number of facilities that we have decided to hire and use at a wonderful location called The Point. Conveniently, there is a Luas stop outside the CCD and one outside our new facilities, with direct tram travel between them. The facilities include hotel function rooms for over 300 people, auditorium space in the Odeon Cinema for 1,000 people, 2,600 sq metres of extra exhibits space, and a number of bars, social spaces, and restaurants, all in one ‘Block’.

The additional space is not only desirable to accommodate our members, but also to accommodate everything we want to celebrate and bring to our members. It allows elements such as our art show to increase their footprint, it allows programme to programme more items for the 800 potential participants who have signed up already, it allows us to include an amazing installation from a featured artists, it will allow us to have more large displays, and it will allow us to increase dealers’ space and our ‘creative alley’.

The new spaces are the Odeon Cinema, The ‘Warehouse’, and the Gibson hotel.

More details at the link.

(2) MAPPING IRELAND’S MT. TSUNDOKU. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Guardian’s Jack Fennell (@JFennellAuthor), who literally wrote the book on Irish science fiction, shared his list of the “Top 10 Irish science fiction authors”. If you’re looking for some reading to get you in the mood for Dublin 2019, this might be a good place to look. It is surprising to note that he omitted mention of James White’s media tie-in novel for the TV series Earth Final Conflict

9. Sarah Maria Griffin (1988-)

Spare and Found Parts is a homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a feminist dissection of creativity and interpersonal relationships, and a dystopian critique of Irish society. Set in a disease-ravaged future Dublin, the story follows Nell Crane, a talented roboticist who decides to construct a companion for herself out of items she salvages from a nearby beach. Griffin refers to herself as a “spec”(speculative) writer, rather than declaring allegiance to any one genre, but her appreciation for sci-fi, horror and fantasy bleeds through all her work.

(3) NO NINE WORLDS IN 2019? Former committee member Steve Lacey casts doubt on the chances of there being a Nine Worlds next year. Thread starts here. (The London convention Nine Worlds announced in August that they are “beginning a process of reconstitution”.)

(4) HELLBOY TRAILER. In theaters April 12, 2019.

(5) UNALLOYED PLEASURE. Steve Carper revisits a comic that fascinated me as a kid in “Elementary, My Dear Metal Men” at Black Gate.

It’s 1962. You are Irwin Donenfeld, executive vice president for DC Comics, the 800-pound gorilla of superhero comics. You are riding high on the Silver Age of comics, having revived superhero comics from their near-death experience at the hands of Fredric Wertham, the New York District Attorney, and Congress itself. A dozen new versions of 1940s legends have poured from your offices since 1956 along with brand-new successes. The secret? Showcase, a comic invented purely to give tryouts to comic concepts and get the fans, the readers, the buyers to write in insisting that one or another of them be given their own titles. The Barry Allen Flash emerged from Showcase #4, The Challengers of the Unknown in #6, Lois Lane in #8, Green Lantern in #22, Aquaman in #30, the Atom in #34.

(6) WHAT HORROR WRITERS EAT. The “Winners of the 2018 Cookbook Contest” have been announced by the Horror Writers Association. They’ll publish the winning recipes and photos in their January newsletter.

1st Place

  • Owl Goingback – Indian Pumpkin Fry Bread

2nd Place – Tie

  • Dan Rabarts – Slow-Cooked Minotaur Shanks
  • Kelly Robinson – Blue Hubbard Squash Tarts & Cemetery Quiche

3rd Place – Tie

  • Frank Coffman – Hungry for man Goulish
  • Bruce Boston – WASP Pizza (with story)

(7) IN TRANSLATION. At Speculative Fiction in Translation, Rachel S. Cordasco is assembling a list of sff in translation due out in 2019.  See the spreadsheet for complete information [Google Docs].

(8) IT CAN GET WORSE. That’s Phoebe Wagner’s takeaway: “Microreview [Book] Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias”at Nerds of a Feather.

…Ten years ago when Ink first hit shelves, it would have been a difficult read. Now, the images of tattoos, GPS trackers, internment camps, border dumps are all too mainstream. Just like Twitter in the novel, these stories fill my timeline. This past weekend, a brief discussion popped up on my timeline regarding good speculative fiction: it’s not meant to predict the future but warn against a type of future…

(9) WHERE DID UNIONS GO IN SFF? Olav Rokne begins a short series about “Imagining the future of organized labour (part one of two)” at the Hugo Award Book Club.

At their peak in 1954, unions represented almost a third of workers in the United States, and it was easy to take their existence — and their action as a counterbalance to the power of capital — for granted. Even employees in non-union workplaces enjoyed gains because employers had to keep up with union shops to retain and recruit labour.

But despite their prevalence in society, labour unions were largely absent from science fictional narratives during the Golden Age, and their few portrayals in the genre are usually either comedic or antagonistic.

As labour activist and science fiction author Eric Flint pointed out atWorldCon76, the major contributors to the development of science fiction — from the dawn of the Golden Age of Science Fiction through this era of union organizing and stability — were largely drawn from academic circles or the upper middle class. Despite working for a living, these authors and editors did not see themselves as part of the proletariat, and thus based their narratives on assumptions that their privileged working relationships allowed them to hold.

(10) BOWDLERIZING HARLAN. Amazing Stories’ SF Trivia Context #3 poses this question:

True or False:

Harlan Ellison once stated that the “hideous neologism”…”SciFi”…“sounds like grasshoppers f***ing”.

I know the answer – though I’m curious about the attempt to clean up the quote.


The late Penny Marshall was the first-ever guest star on The Simpsons.


  • December 19, 1918 — Marylou Tousignant in the Washington Post notes that Robert Ripley started the comic strip that, re-named, became “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” in December 1918.
  • December 19, 1958 — The first known radio broadcast from outer space was transmitted when President Eisenhower’s recorded voice issued a holiday greeting for the whole world from the Atlas satellite which was launched the previous day.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke:The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Chief Rabbit In Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh my he had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 58. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which consists of Europe in Autumn, Europe at Midnight, Europe in Winter and Europe at Dawn. Great reading! He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into that yet.
  • Born December 19, 1969 Kristy Swanson, 49. Her first starring genre film role was in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend, but no doubt her best known genre role was as the original Buffy. She also shows up in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe PhantomNot Quite Human and The Black Hole. For the record, I like her version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! 
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano, 46. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre, an excellent animated short.
  • Born December 19, 1975 Brandon Sanderson, 43.Best known for the Mistborn series . He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time .OK I’m going to freely admit I’ve not read either of these series. Opinions please. 
  • Born December 19, 1979Robin Sloan, 39. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it  is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to me consider reviewing,  Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person as well. 
  • Born December 19, 1980 Jake Gyllenhaal, 38. First genre role was the lead in Donnie Darko. Later roles have included The Day After TomorrowPrince of Persia: The Sands of TimeSource Code and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home

(14) THE SOUND OF M.R. JAMES. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie recommends these Christmas short audio ghost stories from the BBC and M.R. James (grandmaster of horror). “They are only 14 minutes long and perfect to bring a delightful shiver to the festive season.  Yesterday’s was this one –“

“Casting the Runes” by the master of the ghost story, M.R. James. The tale of a curse passed on by a curiously inscribed slip of paper.

This story inspired the film Night of the Demon (1957). You can hear it online for the next 28 days.

(15) READING BY GASLIGHT.Did somebody hack JDA’s blog? There’s a new post, “On Bullying And ComicsGate” [Internet Archive ink], which begins —

One of my main principles is I’m anti-bullying…. 

(16) SAD PUPPY DNA. Gizmodo says “Don’t Take the DNA Test You’ll Probably Get for Christmas”.

… there’s no guarantee that the results you get back from a DNA-testing company are particularly meaningful or even accurate. Earlier this year, a company called Orig3n, which claims to offer fitness and lifestyle advice based on your genes, failed to note that a sample of submitted DNA actually came from a Labrador retriever.

(17) EXPLAINING THAT FLOPPEROO. Looper would be delighted to have you watch their video explaining why Mortal Engines tanked, although by the time you’ve read the “hook” you may already know all they have to say:

Mortal Engines was a massive flop at the box office. What was the reason that this potential series builder bombed so hard at the box office, really? There’s a lot to unpack with this movie – which potentially just killed a franchise. Despite a $100 million budget, and a marketing budget of more than $120 million, Mortal Engines pulled in a measly $7.5 million domestic in its opening weekend – only good enough for fifth place. What went wrong exactly? Well, we can start by looking at the marketing. Despite a lot of cash and ads, unless you were familiar with the 2001 Philip Reeve book (and books after), the idea of cities on wheels that roll around and gobble up smaller cities sounds… well… silly. The ads didn’t do a very good job explaining what exactly was going on. Another issue was the presentation: Is this a drama? An action movie? Is it a teen drama? If you went with teen drama for Mortal Engines you’d be correct, and we are at a time when teen/young adult dramas are flopping left and right; the timing was rather poor. Then Mortal Engines had the misfortune of opening against Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and The Mule – which eliminated two major age groups from seeing it. Add in a surprise exclusive showing of Aquaman via Amazon Prime and holdovers like Ralph Breaks The Internet, it’s not a surprise at all that the city on wheels movie never got rolling.

(18) GENIE-US. ScienceFiction.com liberated Entertainment Weekly’s photo gallery so that you can “Get Your First Look At Will Smith And The Cast Of ‘Aladdin’”.

In May of next year, Will Smith is hoping to enchant audiences with his depiction of the Genie in the latest live action remake of a classic Disney animated film, ‘Aladdin’.  This project is directed by Guy Ritchie (‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) and also stars Mena Massoud (‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’) as Aladdin, Naomi Scott (‘Power Rangers’) as Princess Jasmine, and Marwan Kenzari (‘Murder on the Orient Express’) as the villainous Jafar, as well as Numan Acar, Billy Magnussen, Navid Negahban, and Nasim Pedrad.

To prepare you for your trip to Agrabah, Disney has released a series of first-look photos from the film…

(19) CLEAR ETHER. BBC assures everyone “Nasa’s New Horizons probe on course for historic flyby”.

The American space agency’s New Horizons probe remains on course for its daring flyby of Ultima Thule…

When the mission sweeps past the 30km wide object on New Year’s Day, it will be making the most distant ever visit to a Solar System body – at some 6.5 billion km from Earth.

Mission planners decided at the weekend to forego a possible trajectory change.

It means the probe will get to fly 3,500km from icy Ultima’s surface to take aseries of photos and other data.

There had been some concern that the object might be surrounded by large debris particles which could destroy the probe if it were to run into them. But nothing of the sort has been detected and so a wider, safer pass will not be needed.

(20) WHICH CAME FIRST? Maybe neither the chicken nor the egg – it may have been the feathers: “Pterosaurs: Fur flies over feathery fossils”.

Two exceptionally well preserved fossils give a new picture of the pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived at the time of the dinosaurs.

Scientists believe the creatures may have had feathers, and looked something like brown bats with fuzzy wings.

The surprise discovery suggests feathers evolved not in birds, nor dinosaurs, but in more distant times.

Pterosaurs were the closest relatives of dinosaurs, sharing a common ancestor about 250 million years ago.

“We would suggest – tentatively – that it would be worth considering that feathers originated much earlier than we thought,” Prof Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol, told BBC News.

(21) THE CONQUEROR BEFORE WILLIAM. “Hastings dinosaur footprints exposed by cliff erosion”. “Yes, technically the conqueror before William was Claudius,” admits Chip Hitchcock, who sent the link, “but he didn’t land at Hastings.”

Dozens of well-preserved dinosaur footprints from at least 100 million years ago have been uncovered in East Sussex.

At least seven different species were identified by University of Cambridge researchers during the past four winters following coastal erosion along the cliffs near Hastings.

They range in size from less than 2cm to more than 60cm across, and are so well-preserved that even the skin, scales and claws are easily visible.

There are more than 85 markings, all of which date from the early Cretaceous period.

(22) WHAT’S UP, DOCS? The American Chemical Society sent out a story about how “Rabbit gene helps house plant detoxify indoor air.”

A genetically modified houseplant can efficiently remove toxins from the air.

Our homes are supposed to be safe havens from the outside world. However, studies have shown that household air is more polluted than either office or school air, exposing children and home workers to higher levels of carcinogens than the general population. Now, researchers have made a genetically modified houseplant that can efficiently remove at least two toxins from the air. They report their results in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Indoor air often contains volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene and chloroform. These toxins come from many sources, including cooking, showering, furniture and smoking. House plants can remove some toxins from the air, but they aren’t very efficient: A homeowner would need more than 20 plants to remove formaldehyde from a typical room, researchers estimate. Stuart Strand and colleagues wondered if introducing a mammalian gene called CYP2E1 to a common houseplant, pothos ivy (Epipremnum aureum), would boost the plant’s detoxifying potential. his gene encodes cytochrome P450 2E1, an enzyme that breaks down a wide range of volatile organic compounds found in the home.

The team introduced rabbit CYP2E1 to the ivy’s genome and injected benzene or chloroform gas into closed vials that contained growing plants. After 3 days, the concentrations of these compounds in the vials had dropped dramatically, and by 8 days, chloroform was barely detectable. In contrast, the compounds’ concentrations in vials containing unmodified ivy or no plants did not change. The researchers estimate that a hypothetical biofilter made of the genetically modified plants would deliver clean air at rates comparable to commercial home particulate filters.

(23) MORE SEASONAL VERSE. Submitted by Anna Nimmhaus, inspired by item 14 in the December 17 Pixel Scroll. (Apologies for the formatting — I have not yet conquered the WordPress 5.0 update of a week ago.)

Pixel scroll, pixel scroll,

Pixels all the way.

Oh, what fun it is to rhyme

With Camestros today.

Scrolling pixels through

With Camestros today,

Internets we view,

Laughing all the way.

Trolls will fail to sting,

Making spirits bright.

Camestros and we shall sing

A scrolling song tonight.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ. John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, Anna Nimmhaus, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

88 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/19/18 The Black Hole Singularity’s A Feinman Private Place, But None, I fear, Do From There Escape

  1. (2) I chatted briefly with Jack Fennell today about the upcoming Dublin Worldcon, and he intends to be there, possibly participating in programming. Seems like an interesting academic.

  2. (16) I can’t speak to the accuracy of these tests in terms of health stuff or ethnic background, but I can say that they recently made it possible for my mother to find her birth family after many, many years of looking. This has changed her life, at the age of 78.

  3. @OGH: A point of vulgar curiosity: why is it that the post before a Scroll generally doesn’t have a link to the Scroll for 15-30 minutes after I get the email that the Scroll exists? (This could be true of other posts, but I’m frequently online when a Scroll goes up and have noticed this.) Does the supporting software not do this automatically?

    @5: I remember that cover — although not the story; the first plot I remember (probably the immediate sequel) was the human trying to make a new set of Metal Men, finding them incompetent, then concluding that he’d be better off retrieving and restoring the old ones. Long-gone days….

    @13: has it been that long since Time Bandits came out? Yeesh.

    @16: the local newspaper’s Sunday magazine theme last weekend was medicine; it took a couple of pages to rip these tests up, down, and sideways, reporting that many were unreliable at finding the claimed marker and that knowing the state of the marker typically wasn’t useful, especially in isolation. I’m not surprised that a test didn’t recognize dog DNA; at that price each test is probably focused on a very precise region, and will simply fail instead of yelling GIGO.

  4. DNA tests are very, very reliable for parentage and close biological relationships.

    The more additional information they’re claiming to provide, the more skeptical you should be. The cheaper they are, the more skeptical you should be.

    Cheap tests that promise all sorts of detailed health, lifestyle, and deep ancestry information? Straight in the trash.

  5. Chip Hitchcock: @OGH: A point of vulgar curiosity: why is it that the post before a Scroll generally doesn’t have a link to the Scroll for 15-30 minutes after I get the email that the Scroll exists? (This could be true of other posts, but I’m frequently online when a Scroll goes up and have noticed this.) Does the supporting software not do this automatically?

    Just trying to be clear — are you talking about the previous/next link, or something else. Whatever, it has to be automatic because I don’t have to write it.

  6. 5) Point of clarification: The Black Hole that Kristy Swanson starred in was not the beloved (by me, at least) 1979 Disney film, but a 2006 SciFi original, which, well …

    In St. Louis, the scientists Dr. William Hauser, Shannon Muir and Kent accidentally create a black hole during an experiment. While investigating the phenomenon, Dr. Hauser and Kent die and the army comes to their laboratory under the command of General Ryker. Shannon tries to call the prominent Dr. Eric Bryce, but the scientist does not answer the phone since he misses his daughter Kayley after the divorce to his ex-wife Elizabeth. When he is contacted, he comes to the laboratory and soon he finds that the experiment has also unleashed a creature that feeds off energy. The Powers That Be wants a nuclear attack against the creature, but Eric warns that the action will increase the black hole. He also believes that the creature may be destroyed and the black hole closed if they are attracted to each other. However, only General Ryker supports his theory while General Tate wants to bomb the location.

    I love Time Bandits even more than I love The Black Hole.

  7. 5) I’ve always been a huge fan of The Metal Men, ever since their first appearance, and Chemo was a great villain.

    (But then, I do have a degree in chemistry…)

  8. Oh yes, the metal men! I loved their different personalities and their constant bickering. I think my favourite issue was the one where Dr. Magnus (weirdly?) turned into a robot and started to create Gas Men. And I’ve always loved shapechanging heroes

  9. @Eli that’s a wonderful story about your mother. Congratulations to her.

    I’m also an adoptee and have been in 23andMe since its inception. Recently I also linked up with Ancestry and GEDmatch. For me it’s been nothing but good things. I’ve found a bunch of relatives from 8th cousins to half-siblings, and I’m in contact with a bunch of them on Facebook. I traced my ancestors back to the 1300s and now, after several decades of life, I finally feel like I have an actual place in history. And I found an African-American cousin, and there’s a character on one of my book covers who looks an awful lot like her.

    The companies focus on different areas. 23andMe is into health conditions while Ancestry is all about geneology and GEDmatch is free open source that you can do after being sequenced by another company. It all has drawbacks. I posted a graphic on my blog showing my different “ethnicity” results from all these companies so you can get a sense of how they differ. The health info is speculation and shows your chances of having various things, not the actuality — lots of people with a high chance of having some dire condition in fact do not.

    I am aware of the backlash, and that there are people who feel DNA is an insignificant part of us, and one shouldn’t oughta want to know, and Gattaca, and etc. I disagree with them and am having a great time being a guinea pig for all of this.

  10. Oh, Eli, that’s great, about your mom. And yes, that’s exactly what these tests are best at, finding your relatives. I’m very happy your mom was able to make such a positive connection

  11. Yeah, Metal Men was definitely a favorite of mine, back when I was a sprout. I don’t remember many details, but I do remember liking them a whole lot, and wishing there were more comics featuring them.

    I also liked the original Buffy movie, even though it had little or nothing to do with the more-famous show of the same name. The show was better, but the movie was pretty entertaining in its own way.

    As far as unions go, Allen Steele did some decidedly blue-collar Sf in his early days, starting with Orbital Decay and Clarke County, Space, and I’m pretty sure there were at least some passing mentions of unions, but it’s been a while since I read them, so I’m fuzzy on the details.

  12. (1) This looks fun! People wanting to travel between the CCD and The Point should know it’s an easy 5 minute tram ride on the Luas Red Line (adult single fare €2.10, return €3.70, child fare €1/€1.90).

    Depending on where and how long one is staying in Dublin, visitors may be interested in the Leap Visitor Card which gives unlimited travel on the Luas, Dublin Bus, and Irish Rail in Dublin City and county for €10 (24 hours), €19.50 (72 hours) or €40 (168 hours) – the time period starts from first use, and the card is valid for a year from purchase, which is why I’ve already bought mine 🙂 If you click the “click here to buy online” link on that page you’ll probably get a transaction timeout message, but just click “Buy” on the top and use the drop-down options – it took 3-4 days for it to be delivered to me in the UK.

  13. Best known for the Mistborn series . He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time .OK I’m going to freely admit I’ve not read either of these series. Opinions please.

    I quite like the Mistborn series. Those who like <Wheel of Time assures me it’s a splendid series, but I found that the series really is not a good match for me.

  14. Joe H. says Point of clarification: The Black Hole that Kristy Swanson starred in was not the beloved (by me, at least) 1979 Disney film, but a 2006 SciFi original, which, well …

    Figured that went without need of clarifying since she’d been ten years old if she’d been in that film. Were there any performers that young in it?

  15. @Arwel

    Cheers. It is also valid for the airport bus (which is normally about €6 I think) and will eliminate the hassle of queuing for a ticket machine, or making sure you have the right amount (in coins) to pay the driver. It looks to be good value if you are doing a bit of sight-seeing.

  16. (17) well, I liked. Mortal Engines. So did the 12 year old step kid.
    The cinema though obviously had decided it was a flip before it opened. The first week it was on they were doing only daytime showings, generally the last starting at 16:00, which is naff all use for a kid’s movie on a schoolday.
    It’s not high art, but it looks great.

  17. 2) He’s mixed up the plots of those two Fitz-James O’Brien stories – perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s “The Diamond Lens” which is the one about the obsessed microscopist. (The protagonist gets the diamond for that lens by murdering the original owner. The story sort of implies that he thinks that’s OK because the original owner was Jewish. I think I actually lost all sympathy for the protagonist before that point, which says something about what a git he is.)

    Nice to see some writers on that list who are still breathing. Especially Jo Zebedee – I recall Inish Carraig being pretty good stuff.

  18. Re Brandon Sanderson: Shouldn’t The Emperror’s Soul for which he got a Hugo should get a mention?
    The Wheel of Time is good for its time and Brandon did a imho good job in finishing it (it wasn’t easy needed a lot of rewrites)
    He also has a great output, if someone doesn’t want to start on a series there is short fiction mentioned above and he has written enjoyable young adultfiction (Alcatraz for example)

  19. @Cat — It did send me scurrying to IMDB to verify that she wasn’t the one woman in the entire cast of the original Disney Black Hole. (It was Yvette Mimieux.)

  20. As much as I have a soft spot for THe Black Hole, the lack of women in the cast (*one* as Joe points out), I think a remake of the film could and would do better.

    And while people decry the endless parade of remakes, there are movies that I would *want* a second bite at the apple for, to try and do better, even if I have a soft spot for the original. The Black Hole is one of mine.

  21. I read “The Diamond Lens” recently. It isn’t science fiction. More like occult fantasy, as the narrator gets his inspiration from the father of microscope invention at a seance. And there’s a rather frank description about a visit to a drug den.

  22. @Charon: Perhaps tangential, but I like your definition of family as people you’d cry for for more than one day if they died suddenly.

    @Chip: The linked article notes that most of the DNA testing companies said the dog DNA was unreadable–entirely reasonable, I wouldn’t expect them to think “maybe it’s a dog, let’s see what we have about dogs.” But there was one that either couldn’t tell dog DNA from human, or possibly wasn’t honest enough to say “unreadable” and instead sent something made out of whole cloth that they thought would make the customer feel good.

  23. I think I read “The Diamond Lens” a couple of years ago, too – the plot description sounds awfully familiar (and I know I had been digging deep into Project Gutenberg at that time).

  24. I haven’t read the WHEEL OF TIME because in hardcover, it would weigh more than I do. And I’m not waiting for a one volume edition, either.

  25. 13) Star Lord’s ship in Guardians of the Galaxy was named after Alyssa Milano. Unless it was the other way around. With the Time Stone in play, anything is possible.

    15) HA HA HA no.

  26. StefanB says Re Brandon Sanderson: Shouldn’t The Emperror’s Soul for which he got a Hugo should get a mention?

    Yes. And so you did. I am not going to spend a lot of time digging out Award histories so if you feel I overlooked something important, mention it here. I’m a reader, not a history buff generally when it comes to the genre.

    Generally speaking, authors get approached from the viewpoint of what they’ve written, ie Brunner would see me excited about Shockwave Rider and The Sheep Look Up but I am really not one who cares about what he won for Awards. Now if you care, that’s fine.

  27. 10. “cleaning up” the Harlan quote was done in support of the general “family friendly” orientation of the website, not as part of the quote’s inherent truthiness or falsity.

    The contest runs for one week and two winners are selected, each winning a 1 year digital subscription to the magazine. One winner – first correct response, the other drawn randomly from respondents.

    5) The Metal Men was always one of my faves, and I particularly admired “Tin” – he was always faced with problems beyond his abilities, yet he never stopped trying. Good role model for the kid I was when I read those comics.

    16) I’m adopted as well and normal search methods (even unto finding the disbarred attorney who arranged things – he denies any knowledge) have produced no results other than the distinct certainty that I was a gray market baby, if not a black market baby. (quasi legal – my adopted parents were told to pick me up at the hospital where I was born and then “get out of the state as quickly as possible” – or totally illegal).

    On my desk sits a DNA test kit from ancestry.com. I’ve had it for over a month but have not yet determined if my reluctance to send it in owes more to my anxiety over once again “finding out nothing” or my concerns over data being shared with law enforcement, insurance companies and my refusal to believe that EULAs are actually followed behind the scenes, seeing as how there’s plentyy of evidence that they aren’t.

    FYI: most of the operators of “reunion” sites I’m signed on to all say “do the test, its led to so many reunions”; none of them show any concern for data privacy.

  28. 21) Technically speaking, wasn’t Canute the conqueror (of England) immediately before William? Since Harald Hardrada wasn’t successful.

  29. (16) A few years back, I worked for a DNA testing company that provided a variety of services that were mostly for medical purposes. I 100 per cent guarantee that we would have identified dog DNA if it had been sent to us. Sounds to me like this company wasn’t doing the tests, and just sending generic results to people.

    IMHO, some DNA tests are worthwhile, but they’re very specific ones. DNA tests for Warfarin sensitivity can help determine the appropriate dosage of blood thinners with a fair degree of accuracy. If your family has a history of hemochromatosis, then having knowledge of your susceptibility can help you avoid symptoms.

    But there are a lot of bogus tests, and a lot of genes that are less deterministic, or are less well understood than the SNPs that are tested for in those particular instances.

    @Cliff – Thank you, brother!

  30. @Vicki That part is very personal. I recently lost a friend – just a friend with whom I’d occasionally go out to dinner, not a lover or roommate or business partner – that I had know for several decades, and I’m struggling with the grieving process. He was actually the top dedication in my novel-in-progress, then he went and died when it was halfway written. I’ve cried a lot of tears for him compared to some of the others I’ve lost.

    @steve I very much recommend it. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the identity revision that happens once you unravel old secrets can be overwhelming in good, bad and earthshaking ways. Even narrowing down the geographic region where your people lived can be enlightening.

  31. steve Davidson: 10. “cleaning up” the Harlan quote was done in support of the general “family friendly” orientation of the website, not as part of the quote’s inherent truthiness or falsity.

    While I thought that was likely to be your reason, I sensed a certain gap in the logic of picking a quote that would still depend on everyone who “got it” knowing the word that had been obscured.

  32. StefanB says Re Brandon Sanderson: Shouldn’t The Emperror’s Soul for which he got a Hugo should get a mention?

    Cat Eldridge wrote: Yes. And so you did. I am not going to spend a lot of time digging out Award histories so if you feel I overlooked something important, mention it here. I’m a reader, not a history buff generally when it comes to the genre.

    Generally speaking, authors get approached from the viewpoint of what they’ve written, ie Brunner would see me excited about Shockwave Rider and The Sheep Look Up but I am really not one who cares about what he won for Awards. Now if you care, that’s fine.

    Sorry, my post was not aknolodging the hard work you do everyday with the birthdays, which you diserve a big thankyou for and a lot of respects.

    Awards: I think that deppends on the writer, for Lois McMaster Bujold I would not even try to start listening her awards. In Sandersons case here I found it interesting because it is shorter instead of the epics you mentioned above. For someone who wants to test Sanderson but doesn’t want to start with an epic shorter work is a good alternetive.

    I hope that didn’t come of as stupid as my first post.

  33. Xtifr: the workers who build the stations in ORBITAL DECAY are members of the Machinists, and call upon their union as necessary when stuff goes bad. As president of AFSCME Local 91, I notice these things.

    (I was Allen’s DM when he was a teen; I like to think I was a good influence.)


    I got a big laugh out of that one. I posted a copy of his old trolling quote to his blog, but of course he blocked it. He can’t be letting his readers get reminded of the truth about him, after all.

    In re genetics testing — several months ago I submitted a sample to 23andMe, because I noticed they had started testing for alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency — which is the condition my brother died of a couple of years ago. I had been meaning to get tested, and going through this commercial testing actually seemed cheaper than going through a regular medical lab, in addition to providing lots of other info. And since I was submitting to 23andMe, I also sent a sample to Ancestry.com for a double-check on the ancestry stuff.

    I gotta say the results have been fun. I’m even more white-bread than I thought — 82% England/Wales/Northwestern Europe, 18% Ireland/Scotland. My grandparents had already done a lot of genealogical research, but Ancestry has been very helpful in adding to it; in fact, their pre-existing info plus what I’ve found on Ancestry have confirmed that the most **recent** immigrant to the US in my entire family tree was from 1830 — most came in the 1600s and 1700s. I am basically what the white nationalists dream of, if they only knew! ;-D

    Both companies also alerted me to the existence of a mystery relative, who unfortunately seems to have abandoned both websites — I haven’t been able to get in touch with them. This is a person linked to either my paternal grandfather or my grandfather’s brother, and it appears to indicate some hanky-panky — a child out of wedlock. I am dying to know more. And also, although I had never been aware of it, it turns out that my father has always worried that his father wasn’t really his father, simply because he was born less than 9 months after his parents’ marriage — so it was nice to tell him that I (and therefore he) am definitely connected to his father’s side of the family through DNA!

    And yes, I’m conflicted about the privacy issues. I don’t know where the best answer lies on that, but I’m happy to have all this extra info nonetheless.

  35. @Orange Mike: Yeah, I thought there was something like that, but I wasn’t sure enough of my vague memories to commit to saying so publicly. I really should re-read that one. Some of its sequels ended up getting a bit too silly for me, but overall, I still enjoyed the series.

    Some of the most blue-collar Blue Collar SF I’ve read.

  36. Today I spotted something in Eric Frank Russell’s Allamagoosa that had slipped past me before – I suppose I didn’t know French then:

    “You got a certificate from the International Hotels School of Cookery. You got a certificate from the Cordon Bleu College of Cuisine. You got a certificate with three credits from the Space-Navy Feeding Center,” McNaught pointed out. “All that—and you don’t know what an offog is.
    “Nom d’un chien!” ejaculated Blanchard, waving his arms around.

    “Nom d’un chien!”, indeed.

  37. The Metal Men issues of “Showcase” are what got me reading on my own. My dad couldn’t always read them to me, so I decided I just needed to do it on my own.

    It was always one of my favorites.

    And my dear (and missed) friend, Len Wein, wrote me into an issue of his limited series a few years ago. He even sent the artist a copy of my headshot, so he had a reference to work with.

    I was honored.

  38. Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey on December 20, 2018 at 9:40 am said:
    Xtifr: the workers who build the stations in ORBITAL DECAY are members of the Machinists, and call upon their union as necessary when stuff goes bad.

    Sweet! I really quite like Allen Steele’s work, but haven’t read that one! Thank you for alerting me to it. I’ll add it to my ongoing list of labour unions in SF, and will try to read it in the next week or so, while working on the “modern era” blog post.

    As president of AFSCME Local 91, I notice these things.

    As a former labour union staffer, so do I. #Solidarity, brother.

  39. Oh, I meant to mention — current reading:

    I finished European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman yesterday. I had fun with it. It did seem to drag just a bit in the middle, but I didn’t think it was bloated in general despite being much longer than book 1. I was pleased that several times I thought something was going to happen, but something else happened instead. And I’m still waiting for a werewolf to show up! Oh, also — this series is narrated by Kate Reading, who is one of the best in the business. She does a great job with all the different accents; a native might say that some of the accents aren’t completely correct for the region, but they are always convincing.

    I also started Planetside by Michael Mammay yesterday. I’m enjoying it so far, and the narrator (RC Bray) is doing a good job. The setup seems to be a version of a locked-room mystery, in the context of mil-sf, with a somewhat world-weary colonel as the MC and lead investigator.

  40. (9) There are trade union mentions (the employee has “trade-union protection” and later the trade-union district supervisor is threatening a strike) in James White’s “The Apprentice”.

  41. Kathryn Sullivan on December 20, 2018 at 10:24 am said:
    (9) There are trade union mentions (the employee has “trade-union protection” and later the trade-union district supervisor is threatening a strike) in James White’s “The Apprentice”.

    Cool. I’ll have to track that down — I had never heard of that story.

  42. @Contrarius – your father shouldn’t have been too concerned, my genealogical research has shown that “Victorian values” seem to have been honoured in the breach more than the observance in my family. My parents got married about 7 months before my eldest brother arrived in 1945, my dad’s parents cut things really fine, getting married in 1918, eleven days before my oldest uncle arrived, and my maternal grandfathers brother got married in the summer of 1912, a month later they were on a ship out of Liverpool heading for New York and eventually ended up in Iowa where their baby arrived six months later (seems rather a long way to run away, too….).

    I did the test with ancestry.com, and they reckon I’m 44% Irish/Scottish/Welsh, 10% “Great Britain”, 26% Scandinavian, 18% Iberian, 1% South Asian, 1% South European (Italy/Greece), and less than 1% West European (France/Benelux/Germany/Switzerland). Then I uploaded the same data to MyHeritage.com for a second opinion, and they reckon I’m 93.9% Irish/Scottish/Welsh, 3.1% Italian, 2% North African, and 1% Nigerian (!). As far as I know, my ancestry is exclusively Welsh…

  43. Re Sanderson: I rarely read Fantasy these days, because Im a bit tired of the standard „Low person/High stakes“-;formula, but Mistborn I liked, especially the first two books and the later wax and wayne parts. They are smaller in scale and he has an interesting magic system, so Id recommend.

    Thanks for mentioning Robin Sloan, really love his books, they are weird and original.

  44. StefanB says hopefully I hope that didn’t come of as stupid as my first post..

    You certainly didn’t say anything near stupid there. I just don’t generally do Awards, and my knowledge of an author is frankly idiosyncratic in the extreme at times so I will overlook things like what you rightfully brought to our attention here.

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