Pixel Scroll 1/21/19 I Don’ Wanna File, I Wanna Bang On The Pixel All Day

(1) A DOG STORY. The Verge has released the latest installment in its multimedia science fiction project about hope, Better Worlds. Don’t tell me – John Scalzi wrote a story about a Sad Puppy?

Today, we published one of the original short stories that we’re most excited about, “A Model Dog,” from prolific science fiction writer and Hugo Award-winner John Scalzi. Scalzi is a familiar name to most science fiction readers, best known for his novels Old Man’s War, Redshirts, The Collapsing Empire, and, most recently, The Consuming Fire.

In Scalzi’s hilarious new story story “A Model Dog” and the video adaptation from animator Joel Plosz, an eccentric tech billionaire’s frivolous project to “engineer a solution” to a dying dog takes a surprising and heartwarming turn.

There’s also a Q&A — “John Scalzi on machine learning and remembering our favorite pets”.

It does seem like this type of experimentation would have a downstream effect. I know Neil deGrasse Tyson is fond of saying that going to space brought with it a number of other things you wouldn’t expect.

Absolutely. It’s the whole Velcro effect. You go into space, so you had to invent Velcro. It’s weird when you think about it. I’m not necessarily a proponent of the idea that you do a big thing because you get a few small, ancillary things out of it because it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get anything out of it. But it’s certainly not wrong. Anything you do is going to have failures and spinoffs and dead ends. But those failures, spinoffs, and dead ends aren’t necessarily things that are going to be bad or useless. It might be an unexpected thing. You do see this. A guy wanting to make a more powerful adhesive ended up creating the sticky note at 3M. Even if something doesn’t work the way you expect it to, you still get something beneficial out of it. And, to some extent, that’s what this story also nets: they aimed for one thing, and they ended up getting another.

(2) NUSSBAUM STATUS REPORT. Winner of the 2017 Best Fan Writer Hugo, Abigail Nussbaum, took herself out of contention in 2018. I asked what her plans were for 2019. She replied —  

I really hadn’t thought about the issue this year.  I suppose my feeling is that one year of telling people what to do with their vote is enough.  I’m not officially taking myself out of the running, but I don’t expect to be nominated again.  If it does come up, I’ll decide what to do then.

(3) AMERICAN GODS. The epic war of the gods begins when American Gods premieres March 10 on STARZ.

(4) ROSWELL AWARD. The submission deadline for The Roswell Award sci-fi writing competition is Monday, January 28.

The UCLA Extension Writer’s Program is sponsoring a free 10-week or shorter online class for the 1st Place winner with the option of three (3) UCLA credits.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place Roswell Award prizes!

Special prizes awarded for the Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award feminist sci-fi story and the Best Translated Sci-Fi Story Award.

Full details and guidelines here.

(5) FREE READ. A story by Kary English made the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot and she’s made it available as a free read in a Facebook public post — “Cold, Silent, and Dark” from Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath.

Here’s the story in its entirety. Please enjoy it while I have a sip of port and a bite of chocolate to celebrate. The chocolate, like the story, is deliciously dark.

(6) HALL OF FAME CALLS TROY L. WIGGINS. The Darrell Awards jury has chosen the next inductee to the Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame:

It gives us great pleasure to announce that the winner is TROY L. WIGGINS, who was chosen for his outstanding contributions to Midsouth literacy, both as a writer of SF/F/H short stories and for his role in founding Fiyah Lit Mag, a relatively-new SF/F/H magazine (now in its third year).

Mr. Wiggins joins 16 previous inductees, including Nancy Collins, Eric Flint, Justin Cronin, Howard Waldrop, and a dozen more worthies.

There’s more information on the Coger Memorial Hall of Fame here.

(7) THE BEST POLICY. Virgin Money wants people to pay attention to their life insurance offerings so they’ve increased the scope of their coverage. ScienceFiction.com has the story — “Insurance Company Will Cover Wacky Deaths, Including Death By Dalek”.

Here is the entire list of what Virgin Money will cover:

  1. Engulfed by a sharknado
  2. Attacked by a 100 ft tall Stay Puft marshmallow man
  3. Dalek invasion
  4. Attack by a world terraforming engine (ie: Superman)
  5. Injury caused being pursued by a Giant from a cloud-based castle
  6. Getting trampled by Godzilla
  7. Attack by Decepticon (ie: Transformers)
  8. Attack by heat ray from Martian tripods
  9. Attack by the Loch Ness monster
  10. Being given the cruciatus curse by Lord Voldemort


January 21, 1972 — NYC hosted the first Star Trek Convention.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthGunner CadeOutpost Mars and The Tomorrow People of which the last three were with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote twenty six stories which can be found in The Best of Judith Merril. She was an editor as well of both anthologies and magazines. Her magazine editorship was as Judy Zissman and was Science*Fiction in 1946 and Temper! In 1945 and 1947. May I comment that ISFDB notes Temper! has a header of The Magazine of Social Protest which given its date may make it the earliest SJW citation known in our genre? Oh and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also a much lauded Books Editor there at the same time. Yes, I know she had a complicated personal life but that’s not for here. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1924  — Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 63. Academic whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She has a number of published works to date with two of interest to us, Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings and The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community.  The third in case you’re wondering is Clay in the Potter’s Hands.
  • Born January 21, 1956 Geena Davis, 63. Her first genre was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife In The Fly  followed by her by widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail In Earth Girls Are Easy. She next plays Morgan Adams in the theatrical bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise.  She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten episode FOX sequel to the film. 
  • Born January 21, 1958 Michael Wincott, 61. Guy of Gisbourne In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was his first genre role. Oh well. He did much better playing the truly evil Top Dollar in The Crow next, and his Comte de Rochefort in the 1993 The Three Musketeers wasn’t that bad. He played Philo Grant in Strange Days, and was Captain Frank Elgyn In Alien Resurrection. His latest film role was as Dr. Osmond In Ghost in the Shell. He shows up as the Old Bill character in the “The Original” and “Contrapasso” episodes of Westworld
  • Born January 21, 1970 Ken Leung, 49. Best known for playing Miles Straume in Lost, Admiral Statura in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Kid Omega in X-Men: The Last Stand. His latest role is as  Karnak, a member of the Inhumans on the series Inhumans. His first genre appearance was I think was as Syatyoo-Sama in A.I. and he later has a recurring role on Person of Interest, a show where AIs play a prominent role.


  • The problems of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Graduated: Rhymes With Orange.
  • For Over the Hedge’s RJ, there’s just too much good stuff on TV.
  • Lucas could have made a fortune with custom editions if he’d followed the advice implicit in this classic FoxTrot.

(11) REACTIONARY COMPS. Laura B. McGrath, in “Comping White” at LA Review of Books, makes the case that a publishing industry technique for projecting a book’s success, comp titles, is biased against people of color, and further, tends to neutralize the effect of having more people of color working behind the scenes.

…Instead, I decided to study the most important data that no one outside of publishing has ever heard of: Comp Titles. “Comps are king in this business,” an editor told me. (She works for a major house, and spoke under the condition of anonymity.) Comps, short for “comparable” or “comparative” titles, are the basis of all acquisitions. By predicting profits and losses, comps help editors determine if they should acquire a book or not. Comps are a sort of gatekeeper, determining what — and who — gets access to the marketplace.

The logic is straightforward: Book A (a new title) is similar to Book B (an already published title). Because Book B sold so many copies and made so much money, we can assume that Book A will also sell so many copies and make so much money. Based on these projections, editors determine if they should pre-empt, bid, or pass on a title, and how much they should pay in an author advance. Above all, comps are conservative. They manage expectations, and are designed to predict as safe a bet as possible. They are built on the idea that if it worked before, it will work again…

And if there’s no comp to be found? If a book hasn’t ever “worked” because it hasn’t ever happened? If the target audience for a book isn’t considered big or significant enough to warrant the investment? “If you can’t find any comps,” one editor explained, grimacing, “It’s not a good sign.” While intended to be an instructive description (“this book is like that book”), some editors suggested that comps have become prescriptive (“this book should be like that book”) and restrictive (“…or we can’t publish it”). 

(12) DISCO VOLANTE. Motherboard thinks “Mysterious ‘Planet Nine’ Might Actually Be a Gigantic Disk of Space Objects”.

The mysterious “Planet Nine,” which is theorized to be 10 times larger than Earth and lies somewhere in the outer reaches of our solar system, might not be a planet at all, says a new study.

It may really be a gigantic disk made up of smaller objects lying just beyond Neptune exerting the same gravitational force as a super-Earth-sized planet, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge and the American University of Beirut.

(13) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED A MARTIAN COLONIST. Dwayne Day reviews season 2 of National Geographic’s Mars in “Mars: Bringer of ennui (Part 1)” at The Space Review.

The first season, consisting of six episodes, featured some excellent and insightful documentary segments and commentary, but the drama segments, which were closely tied to the documentary stories, were grim and depressing. Now, two years later, season two has aired. Unfortunately, that same dynamic was repeated: often stunning documentary segments and intelligent commentary interspersed with tedious and uninspiring drama. If National Geographic has a message about the human exploration of Mars, it is that nobody will have any fun.

(14) UNEXPECTED HOMECOMING. A piece of history will go on display: “Black Arrow: UK space rocket returns home from Australia”.

The UK’s only rocket to successfully launch a satellite into orbit is to be unveiled in Scotland after a 10,000-mile journey back home.

The Black Arrow projectile had lain at its crash landing site in the South Australian outback for 48 years.

Over time it was damaged by extreme weather and vandalism before space technology firm Skyrora stepped in.

The historic rocket is set to go on display in Penicuik, Midlothian, later this month.

Daniel Smith, director at Skyrora, said: “This is quite feasibly the most important artefact linked to the UK’s space history.

“While our engineers have been working on our own launches, our STEM ambassadors have been arranging all of this in the background.”

(15) SHOWBOATING. “He Jiankui: China condemns ‘baby gene editing’ scientist”.

China says the scientist who claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies last year acted illegally and in pursuit of fame and fortune, state media report.

He Jiankui’s claim to have altered twin girls’ genes so they could not get HIV was met with scepticism and outrage.

Investigators say the researcher faces serious punishment after acting on his own and forging ethical review papers.

Professor He, who is reportedly under house arrest, has defended his work.

In November, he told a genome summit in Hong Kong he was “proud” of his gene-editing work, a practice which is banned in most countries, including China.

His announcement was met with condemnation from hundreds of Chinese and international scientists, who said any application of gene editing on human embryos for reproductive purposes was unethical

(16) ANOTHER PIECE OF HISTORY. “How migration formed the English language”

The interconnectedness of Europe has a long history, as we’re reminded when we explore the roots of the English language – roots that stretch back to the 5th Century. Anglo-Saxon England “was connected to the world beyond its shores through a lively exchange of books, goods, ideas,” argues the Medieval historian Mary Wellesley, describing a new exhibition at the British Library in London – Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – that charts the genesis of England.

“Something like 80% of all surviving Old English verse survives in four physical books… for the first time in recorded history they are all together,” she tells BBC Culture. “The period that is represented by Old English is about 600 years, which is like between us and back to Chaucer… imagine if there were only four physical books that survived from that period, what would that say about our literature?”

(17) CRETACEOUS PERAMBULATOR. (Well before that era, actually, but I couldn’t resist the Barfield reference.) A recent issue of Nature tells how “SF/F cinematic and scientific techniques combine to show how a long-extinct creature moved”.

The trolls and orcs in The Lord of the Rings films aren’t real. The dragons and dire wolves on the hit television show Game of Thrones are simulated. The dinosaurs that rampaged through a string of Jurassic Park films don’t exist outside a computer. Or do they?

These days, it can be hard to tell from the screen, given that computer-generated characters in films and video games now seem so realistic down to every tooth and claw. The realism comes from the long and fruitful interaction between science and the cinema that can be traced back to the pioneering work more than a century ago of the photographer Eadweard Muybridge (the eccentric spelling of his first name was a deliberate homage to Anglo-Saxon style).

The blending of cinematic and scientific techniques continues today. In a paper in this week’s Nature, researchers describe how they used animation techniques to reconstruct the motion of a long-extinct animal….

(18) LOOKING FOR A LAIR. A new trailer for SHAZAM! — in theaters April 5.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Liptak, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

60 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/21/19 I Don’ Wanna File, I Wanna Bang On The Pixel All Day


    I found this piece highly disturbing, not just for the grievous racial implications of entrenched publishing practices, but for the fact that it documents the way the publishing industry punishes or dismisses innovation, and rewards imitation and mimicry. 😐

  2. Re: 14) Unexpected Homecoming

    I wish the BBC article had explained WHY the rocket was being displayed in Penicuik (a small town (10 miles south of Edinburgh), where I lived from spring 1957 to spring 1967. When we moved there (I was just short of four years old) it was little more than a village – around 4,000 inhabitants. Nowadays it’s a small town, of somewhere around 16,000). The article says the firm’s headquarters and workshop are in Edinburgh – so why Penicuik? Discerning Scots, SF fans and space enthusiasts need to know.

  3. Owen Whiteoak: I wish the BBC article had explained WHY the rocket was being displayed in Penicuik

    Here ya go:
    Now space technology firm Skyrora has brought the rocket home and is to display it in Penicuik, Midlothian where the company is based.

    Some of those 16,000 people will be Skyrora’s employees and their families.

    Skyrora Ventures Limited

  4. (8) My then-future wife Cathy was at that convention, and performed in the costume contest as one of The Android Sisters, singing “Be-yond the rim of the starlight…” And off in far-away Colorado, I was reading about the event in a short-lived tabloid whose title I’ve forgotten and thinking, Wow! How cool is that?

    (16) This is neato with neato sauce on it and no sprinkles (because they’re not neato). Soon as I finish writing this comment, I’m off to read the article in detail, and see if the books are available online. (With these copyright laws, you never know.) [Back to say that I did see the Lindisfarne Gospels when we were there in ’97. Would have gone to Lindisfarne itself, but it would have meant getting up early on our first morning there, so as not to be trapped there by the tide, and we were too pooped to get out of bed and get back on that bus.]

    dill pixels

  5. Thanks, JJ.

    However, in the Telegraph article, although it says “Now space technology firm Skyrora has brought the rocket home and is to display it in Penicuik, Midlothian where the company is based.”, a company director later on says ““We’ll be unveiling it in Penicuik later this month, not far from our headquarters and workshop in Edinburgh.”.

    In the link to the Skykora company details, it notes:

    “24 Oct 2018 Registered office address changed from 43 Woodside Drive Penicuik Midlothian EH26 8BQ to 108 Princes Street Floor 2 Edinburgh EH2 3AA

    “10 May 2018 Registered office address changed from 62 Mountcastle Wynd Kilwinning KA13 6DH United Kingdom to 43 Woodside Drive Penicuik Midlothian EH26 8BQ”

    So the company was registered in Penicuik for what, four-and-a-half months? Kilwinning is in Ayrshire, away on the west coast (bank of the Firth of Clyde). The link to Penicuik seems pretty tenuous.

    If anything, I’m even more confused…

  6. (11) Um.

    We knew this, right? It’s a drag on doing new things in any creative field? Which means it’s harder for people with genuinely new perspectives to break in, which makes it harder for [women, nonwhites, trans people, anyone perceived as different in a variety of ways] to break through.

    Which means at least the early ones need to be not just good, but stunningly good–and that fight may need to be re-fought every couple of decades or so, being optimistic.

    Okay, now I’m depressing myself, and that’s not good. I’ll stop now.

  7. @9: I don’t have the words to properly describe Merril’s anthologies without sounding ridiculous — but I can say they stretched my young mind a lot wider when I read them, in a few cases not long after they’d come out. Is there any anthologist today who has a similarly wide reach in what they call SF?

    @12: At least somebody in that story admits how unlikely it is that a bunch of loose objects would stay close enough together long enough to affect observable orbits.

    @Owen Whiteoak: perhaps the company is like Boeing, with a headquarters placed to meet other suits and a working facility set where it can be afforded?

  8. @Chip
    I was thinking the same thing: small(ish) objects in orbit, even close together, tend to not be as effective gravitational masses as actual Large Solid(ish) Objects. (Or the Lagrange points would have more influence on stuff.)

  9. Chip Hitchcock: Owen Whiteoak: perhaps the company is like Boeing, with a headquarters placed to meet other suits and a working facility set where it can be afforded?

    Yeah, the 2nd floor of 108 Princes Street is a rented office space, and there won’t be any manufacturing, testing, or experimenting going on there. They likely have some owned property in Penicuik where they’re going to plant and display Black Arrow.

    It’s not clear how much of their business is sourced from 3rd-party manufacturers (probably a lot, if not most of it), but as they employ engineers of their own (including a Propulsion Engineer and a Health & Safety Engineer), I would imagine those people do more than just sit at a desk and theorize — and they would need someplace outside the Business District to do it, as I suspect the Edinburgh Council would look askance at propulsion tests in the city.

  10. Capsule review of the movie GLASS: Similar in spirit to the two movies it’s a sequel to, but more elaborate and less focused. Decently filmed, poorly written, some fun performances. Worth seeing if you really like Shyamalan, otherwise not. Also pretty annoying if you’re an alt-comics fan, but what can you do.

  11. 11) Doesn’t seem that surprising. Isn’t that what happened to the pop music industry? I saw it happen in the games industry in the 90s after the 80s’ blaze of creativity, and was horrified to hear a senior Microsoft exec at the announcement of the Xbox 360 say that this heralded the console generation of the franchise. He wasn’t wrong.

  12. Andrew on January 21, 2019 at 6:41 pm said:

    (7) I need to call my insurance guy (Johnny Dollar, actually).

    Just make sure you double-check his expense reports.

  13. JJ / Chip H… Thanks for your interest.

    Other interesting wrinkles in the mystery are that the Companies House site says this:

    “24 Jan 2018 Incorporation
    Statement of capital on 2018-01-24”

    and the Telegraph article says this:

    “The Black Arrow was developed on the Isle of Wight and launched in 1971 from Woomera, Australia, delivering the Prospero satellite, but the programme was shut down soon after, with the money diverted to build Concorde.”

    So, this is a company incorporated in Jan 2018, registered in Killwinning, but moved to Penicuik in May of that year – for just a few months before moving to Edinburgh…

    and back in 1971 the rocket itself was built on the Isle of Wight (some 450 miles or so south).

    Skyrora seems to be a modern company currently developing a small-rocket launch facility in Sutherland (far north of Scotland), with no obvious connection to the original Black Arrow programme (other than a PR one of reviving interest in British rocketry – Arthur C Clarke and the rest of the BIS would be proud).

    None of the other links I could find give any more info than the Telegraph story. Penicuik doesn’t seem to be in any sense the rocket debris’s natural home.

    Maybe the CEO grew up on Woodside Drive and is feeling nostalgic.

  14. 16) The Anglo-Saxons exhibition is very good, by the way, if anyone’s in a position to see it. Lots of beautiful illuminated manuscripts, some nice dry asides in the captioning (the modern location of a particular centre of the early Church “has never been identified, though not for lack of trying”), and significantly more stuff in general than I was expecting. They even have the Beowulf manuscript, tucked away in a dark corner where it’s easily missed.

  15. @JJ: I suspect the Edinburgh Council would look askance at propulsion tests in the city. awwww… they could call it a (pre?)historical recreation; the tourist guide I read said the rock the castle sits on is the remains of a volcano.

  16. Chip H.

    Castle Rock is indeed an ancient volcanic plug – Arthur’s Seat, the hill overlooking the city, Queen’s Park and Hollyrood Palace, is part of the same volcanic formation.

  17. I’ve had to face it: we’re not going to make it to Worldcon this year. Two people I have to take care of ALREADY have surgeries scheduled, others have health that can’t be relied on (my parents are both alive in their 90s), some expensive house projects have to be done. SIGH.

    Currently our place is FULL of books to read, but almost all of them are fantasy. I just started Ball Lightning, but what I really yearn for is SPACE.

    Do you-all have 2018 SF in SPACE to recommend that I might not have read? (note: have to re-read Murderbots to add reviews, refine star ratings)

  18. @Doctor Science: I found David Pedreira’s Gunpowder Moon, Rob Boffard’s Adrift and Tim Pratt’s The Dreaming Stars to be enjoyable. The last one is a sequel to The Wrong Stars but I think it can be read on its own without starting with the first one. That said, I thought The Wrong Stars was more enjoyable (but not a 2018 book). Not my cup of tea, but others seem to like, is Noumenon Infinity by Marina Lostetter. It’s also a later book in a series but can stand alone.

    How do you feel about colonies on other planets? Because then I’d highly recommend Semiosis by Sue Burke. It’s on my Hugo nominating ballot. And Emma Newman’s Before Mars is also good (it’s set on Mars, mostly).

  19. Doctor Science: Taking the 2018/space specification seriously, these from my own titles list–they’re not all the same kind of “space” books, but then, space is big, innit.

    Elysium Fire, Alastair Reynolds
    The Long Sunset, Jack McDevitt
    Neal Asher, The Soldier
    The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Peter Watts

    (I see from your list that you’re keeping up with The Expanse–Tiamat’s Wrath will tear you up. And watch for Reynolds’ Shadow Captain.)

  20. I should add a warning for Semiosis though. It’s pretty grim in the beginning (and there’s a rape scene) but in the end, I thought it achieved a good balance. I wouldn’t classify it as grimdark as there are optimistic parts to it. But I know that’s very subjective, so I thought it worth mentioning.

  21. So on January first, we lost my father in law to a heart attack — not totally out of the blue (he was scheduled to have stents put in on the SECOND after a much less severe attack and was in fact in the hospital when it happened) but still very sudden as he’d been in good spirits and entertaining visitors about a quarter hour before. (My mother in law had been making jokes that the hardest part was going to be keeping him from talking, as talking was dropping his oxygen levels, but my father-in-law was the textbook definition of personable extrovert.)

    The memorial is this coming weekend (Among other reasons, because Saturday is his birthday and they had out of town guests flying in already). My husband is flying out but we decided, right or wrong, that taking the kids was likely to be too much work for too little reward. So I was already prepping for a week of solo parenting and sorrow both.

    Now we lost one of our credentials, Irina (16 3/4), a calico with grey and brown patches on white (instead of the more usual black and ginger). She’s been having a rough couple of months and was clearly not in the best health (both diabetic, and scratching her face to the point of leaving semi-permanent scabs at her mouth and in front of her ears – meaning occasionally suffering the indignity of a cone and a soothing cream as well), but today was nonetheless sudden; a blood clot in her leg and a rapidly dropping body temperature. I called my brother so he could be there for her as she was his cat first.

    We adopted her as a leggy kitten segueing into teenagerhood back in 2002, when my brother and I shared an apartment. My relatively newly adopted cat, Élise was showing definite signs of being lonely and missing her own kittens. Jeff had some gamers over (Not one of our usual groups, and not people who returned much afterwards…) and they saw a glossy healthy 2 year old tortoiseshell being well treated, in a surprisingly large apartment, and they said they knew a family who had tried to adopt a kitten – only to have someone in the house turn out allergic. So the kitten (whom they had dubbed Capone) had been living basically in a bathroom for the last few months because they wanted to pass her on to another, not back to the Humane Society.

    Élise was pleased, after the few bumpy days of intro, and Irina was delighted; she had so much ROOOM, and two humans and another cat who was clearly doing the big sister routine with her rather than the mommy routine. Élise and Irina were close all their life.

    Irina really did consider Jeff more her person than me at first, but when I got married AND he was moving to Houston, we decided separating the cats and trying to transport her across a country border was worse than splitting her from one of her humans. And while he moved back to the city and got to come and give her regular scritches, he couldn’t take her in (or them – if he’d had a suitable apartment, we’d have given him both cats. Elderly cats and young kids is not an ideal combo from cat perspective.)

    Élise continues in good health despite being the elder, and right now I am REALLY praying that continues for a while yet. (With our cats before these two, we lost one in late November at 17 1/2 and one the first of February at 18 3/4, and it was extra hard because of that proximity.)

    I brought her the towel Irina had been lying on when the vet gave her the injection, and she sniffed that and my hands with great intent. I think I successfully passed the news along in their language. She got lots of petting, too.

    I don’t know yet if I want to fire 2019 or just January.

  22. Lenora Rose, I’m sorry your year had to start off this way. (Also, am I right in guessing that Élise was named for that Beethoven piece, and her first name is implicitly Für?)

  23. Oh, Lenora, what a sad way for the year to start for you.

    My condolences on loss of your loved ones; may your good memories lighten grief.

  24. @Doctor Science
    Seconding Paul’s recommendation for Embers of War.

    Other good space-based SF of 2018:
    The Dreaming Stars by Tim Pratt
    Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Barry
    Mutiny at Vesta by R.E. Stearns
    Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
    One Way by S.J. Morden
    Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente.
    There Before the Chaos by K.B. Wagers (though you’ll probably have to read the first three books in the series to understand this one)

  25. Doctor Science, I am very sad that I won’t get to see you and Doctor Science Jr. at Worldcon this year.

    I’m still working on my 2018 Novel Reading mini-reviews, but here are the space adventures I’ve read and enjoyed (I know you’ve already read some of these):

    Big Space Adventures in SPAAAAAAACE
    The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts (enhanced by reading the other Sunflowers stories, but they are not required)
    Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall (I enjoyed this so much that I am going to have to check out their Linesman novels)
    The Long Sunset by Jack McDevitt (this is about good people doing good things, and will appeal to fans of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer novels, and possibly to those who loved The Goblin Emperor)
    Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson (this is serious SF with a big humorous element, but without the heavy-handedness of Hitchhiker’s Guide)
    There Before the Chaos by K.B. Wagers (prerequisite the 3 Indranan War novels)
    Searching for the Fleet by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (prerequisite the Diving Universe novels
    The Hidden World by Melinda Snodgrass (prerequisite The High Ground and In Evil Times)
    Memory’s Blade by Spencer Ellsworth (prerequisite A Red Peace and Shadow Sun Seven)
    The Dreaming Stars by Tim Pratt (prerequisite The Wrong Stars)
    The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams (prerequisite the 3 Praxis novels; Investments and Impersonations also recommended reading before this one)
    Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

    Big Space Adventures: planet-based*
    Quietus/ Terminus by Tristan Palmgren (these take place on Earth, but have a Big Space element to them, and are really good)
    From Darkest Skies/ From Distant Stars by Sam Peters (takes place mostly on a colony planet)
    Before Mars by Emma Newman (takes place on Mars)
    Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds (takes place on a planet)
    The Calculating Stars/ The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal (takes place on Earth and the Moon, as well as some space time)
    The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi (prerequisite The Collapsing Empire) (takes place on a planet)
    Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon (prerequisite the 5 Vatta’s War novels and Cold Welcome) (takes place on a planet)
    Semiosis by Sue Burke (takes place on a colony planet)
    Rejoice by Steven Erikson (takes place on Earth)
    The Anomaly by Michael Rutger (takes place on Earth; may play havoc with suspension of disbelief due to your biological science background, but I really enjoyed it)

    * and when I say “planet”, I mean planet, moon, asteroid, whatever, don’t give me any lip

  26. @Lenora Rose —

    Let us pass a resolution declaring that January 2019 definitely sucks. May you have plenty of support from family and friends while you go through yours.

  27. @Doctor Science —

    I will -1 Record of a Spaceborn Few — I didn’t care enough about the characters to even finish the book. But if you liked book 1, you’ll probably like it.

    +1 to Before Mars, though I was disappointed by the ending. Most of the book was agreeably twisty.

    Ehhh, +1/2 to The Calculating Stars. I liked the idea. My appreciation of the execution was hampered because Kowal’s narration (audio version) of any book invariably gives me hives, and it was too obviously a “wow, Hidden Figures went over great, what else can we do with that idea?” sort of book.

    +0 to The Consuming Fire. I’m just finishing this one. There is thankfully less snarking than in book 1, and there are suitable twisty turns in the plot, but again I find myself not caring much. Too many characters and too cardboard for me to get very attached to. To me, very much a sufferer of second-book syndrome.

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned Children of Time yet, which you may or may not count as a 2018 book. Lots of space involved, and in my eyes the best worldbuilding of any I’ve mentioned. Not a perfect book by any means, but not a dull moment. And hey, space spiders!

    Oh, P.S. —

    +2 to Space Opera, which I loved to death, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a space adventure. Space seemed kinda beside the point.

  28. @Dr. Science again —

    Oh, also +1 for Gunpowder Moon, which I see you have mentioned on your GR account. I liked the characters, and the ending was intriguing. I’ll definitely be reading the next book. Not so much out in space, though, just elsewhere than Earth.

    Nevermind, nevermind! I am confusing this one with a different book. This one was rather formulaic, but not a bad beach read.

  29. Jeez, I’m posting a whole thread worth of comments just because I’m being so disorganized this evening —

    The book I was thinking of in the post above was actually Planetside by Michael Mammay. I liked it, and will definitely read book 2. Raises some interesting questions.

  30. Russell Letson: Tiamat’s Wrath will tear you up

    Yeah, you know, we don’t get access to that for a couple of months yet, so quit taunting us.

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