Pixel Scroll 11/28 Sympathy For The Devil’s Arithmetic

(1) Connor Johnston opens a different doorway into the commonplace activity of reviewing Doctor Who episodes by “Ranking the Writing Debuts of the Capaldi Era” at Doctor Who TV.

Doctor Who is home to some of the greatest and most confident writers in the history of television, who have each been responsible for some of the most riveting storylines of the last 52 years,  and every great writer must start somewhere. So far in Capaldi’s era, five ambitious personalities have made their first contribution to the show, expanding the already respected list of accomplished Who alumni significantly. With Sarah Dollard’s “Face the Raven” having aired last weekend, she has become the final new addition for the show’s ninth series, as such making this the perfect time to reflect on the newer talent we’ve seen grace our imaginations in the last two years.

(2) Passengers are go! “Airbus proposes new drop-in airplane ‘cabin modules’ to speed up boarding” at ars technical UK.

Today, Airbus has been granted a patent (US 9,193,460) on a method that essentially turns an airplane into an articulated truck. The plane, instead of being a single, contiguous hull, would have a huge hole in the middle where the passengers and luggage would normally be. Instead of boarding the plane directly, passengers and luggage would be loaded into a separate “cabin module.” Then, when the module is ready to go, it’s simply dropped into the airplane. If you ever watched Thunderbirds as a kid, it’s a lot like Thunderbird 2.

The post comes with diagrams.

(3) Sam Weller’s “Where the Hills Are Fog and the Rivers Are Mist” in The Paris Review.

Ray Bradbury’s The October Country turns sixty.

“The Dubliners of American Gothic”—that’s how Stephen King referred to Ray Bradbury’s first book, the little-known 1947 short-story collection, Dark Carnival. There’s good reason few readers, even those well versed in Bradbury’s work, are unfamiliar with Dark Carnival: Arkham House, a small press out of Sauk City, Wisconsin, published the book in a modest run of 3,112 copies; the book went out of print just a few years later. Besides a pricey limited-edition reprint in 2001, Dark Carnival exists as a literary apparition.

And yet many people have read some of Dark Carnival without knowing it

(4) Ryan Britt has a daring demand in “The Ghost of Hayden Christensen: Why Anakin MUST Appear in Episode VII” at Tor.com.

The nice thing about Anakin is that he gets to redeem himself in Return of the Jedi—which, if you’re a kid experiencing the Star Wars movies in the Lucas-order, is a pretty neat arc. Also for contemporary kids, Anakin is the focus of more hours of Star Wars than really any other character, thanks to The Clone Wars. So for better or worse, the prequel-era Anakin defines Star Wars for a big chunk of the viewing public.

If all the actors from the classic trilogy are reprising their roles, the giant space elephant in the room is how old everyone has gotten. Let’s get real, the focus of these new films will doubtlessly be on new characters, but it would be nice to have some existing Star Wars characters in there too, particularly ones who don’t look super old. Luckily, you don’t have to do any Tron: Legacy de-aging CG action on Hayden. He looks good!

(5) N K Jeminsin made the New York Times “100 Notable Books of 2015”. Interestingly, it’s in Fiction. The list does not put sf/fantasy in a separate section.

THE FIFTH SEASON. The Broken Earth: Book One. By N.K. Jemisin. (Orbit, paper, $15.99.) In Jemisin’s fantasy novel, ­civilization faces destruction and the earth itself is a monstrous enemy.

(6) Michael Damien Thomas will work on accessibility at SFWA’s big annual event —

(7) With Carrie Fisher returning in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this 2011 comedy video has a new lease on life —

Kaley Cuoco addresses an important issue affecting cosplay girls across the globe: Slave Leia fatigue. With so many choices available to women who cosplay, there’s no reason everyone needs to be Slave Leia.

 

(8) “Seed bombing to save the bees” at Interesting Engineering.

Seed bombs began as a fun and friendly tactic for greening abandoned lots in urban spaces, but are still a developing idea to be done in large scale. It involves throwing small seed ‘bombs’ from planes onto deserted areas that have suffered deforestation, to gradually begin to recover the ecosystem. This method not only allows the growth of more trees and plants, but helps combat the extinction of bees, indispensable beings for the reproduction of life on Earth….

Each seed capsule is made from biodegradable plastic and functions as a small greenhouse where the seeds grow at first. When they reach the ground, the capsule disintegrates without polluting the environment until it disappears completely, allowing the plant growth to take its natural course.

seed bombs

(9) At Examined Worlds, a philosophical Ethan Mills claims “I’m Thankful For My Regrets”.

Yesterday we celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States.  One popular tradition is to enumerate what you’re thankful for.  I’m thankful for lots of things.  Of course, I’m thankful for my family and friends and my cats.  I’m thankful that I have a fulfilling career and no major health issues.  I’m thankful that I have neither the greed nor the need to go “Black Friday” shopping today.  I’m thankful that the new Star Wars movie is coming out soon!

Also, I’m thankful for my regrets.  Like most people, I have plenty.  I regret that I haven’t done more international travel and that I haven’t done more charitable giving and volunteering.  I regret never figuring out this whole physical fitness thing.  I regret that I saw Star Wars: Episode I seven times in the theater.  I regret voting for Ralph Nader in 2000.  I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my mom.

I don’t think regrets have to be the soul-crushing thing they’re made out to be; you don’t have to exterminate them entirely to have a healthy life. I also don’t think you need to go in the direction of some Nietzscheans and existentialists to say that you have to take ownership of regrets and affirm them, because they’ve made you who you are.  There is, as Buddhists would say, a middle way between these extremes.

(10) There’s an app for the Battleship Iowa?

The Battleship IOWA experience is at your fingertips – you’re all aboard for adventure! You will never look at the Navy the same way. The Battleship IOWA Interactive Tour will let you experience, first hand, what it was like to live and serve on this historic ship. You’ll be part of the adventure!

You’ll see and hear the fascinating stories behind the ship, its crew, and the part it played in shaping our world and our country. It is virtually impossible to get a feel for the service and spirit of this historic shp by simply reading a sign or placard. The Battleship IOWA Interactive Tour puts you in control of your experience. Dive deep into the content of the ship and explore the areas that intrigue you most. You’ll find crewmember stories, fun facts, ship service records, videos of her in action all in the palm of your hand. Enjoy content that isn’t available anywhere else in the museum.

 

Mike Glyer and Sierra visit the USS Iowa in 2013.

Mike Glyer and Sierra visit the USS Iowa in 2013.

(11) Tom Knighton’s “Review of Jessica Jones Season 1”:

…The show stars Kristen Ritter as Jones, a private investigator who got super powers after an auto accident that killed her family.  She’s not the typical hero.  An encounter prior to the show with a mind controller named Kilgrave (played by David Tennant) leaves her with a healthy dose of PTSD and a penchant for whiskey.

Early on, she meets a bar owner who she’s been following for a reason explained later in the series.  The bar owner is a large black man named Luke Cage.

Yeah, baby.

Ritter is solid as Jones, nailing the smart mouth and feigned apathy the script called for.  Her natural thinness might not normally fit a super strong hero, but personally I think it fits the character nicely.  Not only does it make it more impressive when she lifts a car’s back wheels without straining, but it fits the alcoholic aspect of the character pretty well….

(12) Den of Geek’s spoiler-filled review of Jessica Jones focuses on the question, “Is Kilgrave Marvel’s Creepiest Villain?”

The casting of David Tennant makes Kilgrave’s grim demands seem ever more shocking, and this must be deliberate from the showrunners. At points, when Kilgrave’s enthusiasm levels rise a little, he really does resemble a twisted version of the Tenth Doctor. His charisma – combined with his creepiness and callousness – makes for unsettling viewing.

(13) Black Gate’s John ONeill knows why it continually costs more to be a fan who’s passionate about “Collecting Philip K. Dick”.

I have a lot of experience selling vintage paperbacks at conventions and other places, and nobody — but nobody — has skyrocketed in value like Philip K. Dick. The only authors who even come close are George R.R. Martin, James Tiptree, Jr, Robert E. Howard, and maybe Samuel R. Delany.

A big part of the reason, of course, is that virtually all of Dick’s novels were originally published in paperback, which means that — nearly unique among highly collectible authors — the coveted first editions of his novels are all paperbacks.

(14) Not all of CheatSheet’s “10 Sci-Fi Cult Classics That Everyone Should See” are as surprising as Snowpiercer (at #4) – who knew it had been around long enough to be a classic? Some might even agree with its strong preference for remakes — John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly (#10) and Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (#5).

  1. The Thing

Audiences in 1982 were more interested in cuddly aliens like Steven Spielberg’s ET than they were in monstrous, shape-shifting ones, which explains the critical and commercial failure of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Thankfully, viewers have rediscovered the film, which stands as one of the greatest horror films and one of the greatest science fiction films. An Antarctic outpost of men struggles to identify and destroy an alien that can assume the form and personality of any living thing it consumes. The men, led by a never-better Kurt Russell, act competently in facing the threat, making it all the more terrifying when they can’t stop it. There’s mounds of existential tension and paranoid distrust to go around in the icy and isolated setting. Carpenter knows how to play off the tension brilliantly, using some of the most tactile and creatively terrifying practical effects in cinema history, courtesy of Rob Bottin.

(15) How Attack of the Clones Should Have Ended!

(16) After reading about Ridley Scott’s plans for more Prometheus movies I look forward to a future video series telling How It Should Have Begun.

Ridley Scott has confirmed that ‘Alien: Covenant’ will be the first of three films that will then link up to the story from the original 1979 ‘Alien’.

The second movie in his ‘Prometheus’ series is in its pre-production stage in Sydney, Australia, at the moment, where Scott confirmed the plans in a press conference.

He said that the newly-named ‘Covenant’ and the next two films will answer the ‘very basic questions posed in Alien: why the alien, who might have made it and where did it come from?’.

Covenant will tell the story of the crew of a colony ship which discovers what it believes to be an ‘uncharted paradise’ world, but is in fact a ‘dark and dangerous’ place, inhabited solely by David, Michael Fassbender’s android character from the first ‘Prometheus’ movie.

 [Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

151 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/28 Sympathy For The Devil’s Arithmetic

  1. @RedWombat: That’s interesting — the vague impression I had of how daikon-remediation works was that it was a multi-year plan, and the basis of the idea was to plant the daikon and not harvest them. So in the first year, they’d grow and bolt and hopefully reseed themselves around the parent plants. Then in the next year, the parent plants would rot/compost themselves in the ground where they were, while the child seedlings rooted and grew. Repeat for a couple of years, then start digging under the existing vegetable matter and stop letting them reseed.

    As I mentioned, this is all intellectual knowledge for me. I grew up with parents who gardened, but I’ve lived in apartments for decades and have itchy fingers that are not being satisfied by houseplants. *sigh*

  2. Thanks @redwombat

    For those with bad soil and worse water, I have a term of art: ‘Darwinian xeriscaping’
    If you tel people you are doing Darwinian xeriscaping they will go away and not bother you.

    I live on a ridge near Boulder Colorado with clay soil, thunderstorms all summer that drop fishtank-gravel sized hail, and well water that makes good oven cleaner straight out of the tap.

    One thing I have found is that disturbing the soil is deadly: I had part of the yard dug up 5 years ago to put power lines underground, and some other digging two years ago after the great Boulder flood, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do about the thistles and other invasives that popped up.

    This year I also had a lot of mullein doing strange sculptural things in the yard, which hasn’t happened before in the past 30 years, but I suspect that was due to a combination of recently disturbed soil and weird rain patterns we had this year. If they come back next year, maybe I’ll see how they like the well water (insert evil laugh. Is there such a thing as watering with malice aforethought?).

  3. @Lexica – That may absolutely be a method people use! (Lord knows, what I know about gardening will never be even a percent of what there is to know…)

    I haven’t done it, and I’d think you’d still need the sort of climate where daikons flourish long enough to get the big impressive roots, but it seems like an interesting method to try if you’ve got heavy soil and time, without churning up too many weed seeds. The Minowase daikon (if I’m remembering it correctly) is supposed to get a two foot root, and I imagine a couple of those could do some impressive work.

  4. Our patch of cilantro has been going for over twenty years after tossing out coriander seeds. It self-seeds pretty well without being too invasive (unlike the arugula).

    parsley does that, too.
    We also had tomatoes and zucchini self-sow. (The volunteer zucchini had skins that even the food grinder couldn’t go through.)

  5. (The volunteer zucchini had skins that even the food grinder couldn’t go through.)

    Possibly reverting to a wilder type? I just read an article a few days ago that said pre-domesticated cucurbits were too hard and bitter for humans to eat, but the seeds have been found in mastodon droppings.

    So maybe you needed a mastodon-spec food grinder. 🙂

  6. Possibly reverting to a wilder type? I just read an article a few days ago that said pre-domesticated cucurbits were too hard and bitter for humans to eat, but the seeds have been found in mastodon droppings.

    So maybe you needed a mastodon-spec food grinder. 🙂

    I feel like someone needs to write a story… Or maybe a Kickstarter

  7. I don’t know. We turned them into zucchini bread, where it didn’t matter if we didn’t have the skins (although with thin-skinned zucchini, you get those pretty green bits).

  8. @RedWombat: Thanks! It all sounds rather ambitious to me, except I think I can do the pickle buckets and mini-composts. I really only need decent soil around the fence to a width of about 1.5-2′ so small circles are fine.

    Compost is easier than people think, BTW. We used to pile up our grass clippings and kitchen waste into literally just a pile until it hit angle of repose. Someone would vaguely stick a shovel in and haphazardly turn it over once a month or so when it wasn’t winter. It turned into nice compost anyway. There might have been some newspaper. Anyway, the thing was never more than a foot high but we still got enough to plant things in after we’d used the posthole digger to make the hole.

    I had to kill self-seeding tomato plants for a couple of years after we’d decided against tomatoes. I have enough savvy to never have planted zucchini.

  9. BGHilton on November 29, 2015 at 4:22 pm said:

    With ‘Who Goes There’ and its two film adaptions, I think an interesting thing is watching its central theme of paranoia, and the way that changes between 1938 and 1951, and between 1951 and between 1951 and 1982. Or to put it another way, between the lead up to WWII, to the early Cold War to the Post-Detente Reaganite escalation of the Cold War.

    One possible source for the paranoia, of “who goes there?” might be this:

    “His mother, Dorothy (née Strahern) was warm but changeable of character and had an identical twin who visited them often and who disliked young John. John was unable to tell them apart and was frequently coldly rebuffed by the person he took to be his mother.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_W._Campbell

  10. Cucurbits are notoriously promiscuous, so if there was a squash or something within in range, might have cross-pollinated. Volunteers in the squash family can be plant roulette. If the inside tasted good, that’s a win!

    I’m doing Gem Squash next year and I have so few seeds that I’ve got to save as many as possible from what I grow, so I’m not doing anything BUT Gems. And praying the pickleworms hold off…

  11. @JJ: “The Things” was very good; it was second on my final Hugo ballot that year. FYI, it did not win the Hugo; but it did win the 2010 Shirley Jackson Award, it looks like. Anyway, agreed – the folks talking about the original and the movies should read this. 🙂

  12. Cucurbits are notoriously promiscuous, so if there was a squash or something within in range, might have cross-pollinated.

    As far as I know, there weren’t any others within a quarter mile. No, really: out in the country, and that’s how far it was to the neighbors in both directions on the road. The usual crops were corn and cotton; there was a 10-acre vineyard between us and the house to the north.

  13. @emgrasso —

    We had zucchini sneak a vine into the tall grass on the other side of the garden fence when I was a kid. The results looked like melted Dr. Seuss bats and the pigs couldn’t eat them; couldn’t get their jaws around them. (There were looks of porcine betrayal.)

    Once split into quarters with an axe, all was well but the pigs still left the rinds.

    So I think it’s not entirely domestication so much as it’s picking early when they’re small and tender.

  14. My mother once served us “apple crisp” for dessert. We thought the apples were kind of weirdly floppy and seedy until, to our horror, we realized it was actually zucchini crisp.

    The psychological scars remain to this day.

  15. Soil research is typically interdisciplinary, and well, the more I discover about soil, the more I think that people, especially SF writers, are severely underestimating the scope of the terraforming challenge.

    Correct.

  16. @Joe H: Not as bad as Campbell’s mom and her evil twin (literally!), but certainly scarring mother behavior.

    “Cucurbits are notoriously promiscuous” isn’t a sentence you hear every day. They do get tougher as they get bigger, which would easily lead to “porcine betrayal” (also a phrase not often seen). Said promiscuity would seem to mean the volunteers could easily revert to some off-breed kind.

  17. Elon Musk: “I’d like to die on Mars, quaffing a Pinot Noir engineered for the slopes of Olympus Mons.”

  18. lurkertype: “Cucurbits are notoriously promiscuous” isn’t a sentence you hear every day. They do get tougher as they get bigger, which would easily lead to “porcine betrayal” (also a phrase not often seen).

    I sense an alien horror story coming on. I’ve got this EPIC idea. I just need someone to write it for me. 😉

  19. Joe H. on November 29, 2015 at 9:50 pm said:
    My mother once served us “apple crisp” for dessert. We thought the apples were kind of weirdly floppy and seedy until, to our horror, we realized it was actually zucchini crisp.

    The psychological scars remain to this day.

    That was evil. And foolhardy. One wonders if the youngsters whose parents bought the recent crop of “sneak vegetable slurry into all your recipes” cookbooks will one day have similar stories to tell.

  20. (The volunteer zucchini had skins that even the food grinder couldn’t go through.)

    Possibly reverting to a wilder type? I just read an article a few days ago that said pre-domesticated cucurbits were too hard and bitter for humans to eat, but the seeds have been found in mastodon droppings.

    So maybe you needed a mastodon-spec food grinder. 🙂

    Fairly recently I read about a chap in Germany being killed by eating the fruit of a volunteer/seed-saved cucurbit. (The bitter-tasting chemicals in cucurbits are toxic.)

  21. lurkertype on November 29, 2015 at 10:29 pm said:
    “Cucurbits are notoriously promiscuous” isn’t a sentence you hear every day.

    In gardening it might be. It’s almost an aphorism, something gardeners swap rueful stories about.

    I think whoever first domesticated and differentiated edible pumpkins, squash, melons, cucumbers, and zucchini from each other performed a heroic service.

    (Just glanced at some genealogical information and it turns out that pumpkins, zucchini, acorn squash and marrows are all the same *species*.

    It hardly seems fair to call them “promiscuous” when cross-pollination is no more remarkable than that a great dane can breed with a chihuahua.)

  22. @iphinome
    Being in extreme pantser mode with the story mostly in control (I still don’t know where that octopus guy came from) I treated the daily wordcount bit as “keep daily wordcount average above 1667”

    (Hit 67007 just before midnight and 67033 just after. I should be somewhere around 69K at the deadline. Yesterday’s work was a backfill pass, so about 2/3 of it has been checked for spelling and has sentences that are sentencing, can’t swear to the rest yet.)

  23. @emgrasso People who can pants impress me. When I try it I get good stuff, I also get tons of useless words and fumbling around in between. I start with an insufficient outline*, as I go I fill in what I did and I fill in new ideas as they come to me but when I come up against a blank spot I panic.

    *Starting outline length this year 5421 words(I compulsively save old drafts even of outlines, yay scrivener snapshots.) Current length 11459 words, will probably come in somewhere around 15k.

  24. @emgrasso & @iphinome

    I’ve learned so much about my writing style during this past month. I started with just a handful of characters and a general direction I wanted the story to unfold. As I wrote a truly terrible rough draft I realized that this was okay. I’m just exploring the story. When I finish (roughly 2 chapters left), I’m going back to the beginning and writing a detailed outline. Then I’ll start again (picking out the good parts from the rough draft), but this time I’ll have a much better idea of the characters and story (both of which have surprised me greatly this month).

    I’m currently at 66,000 words hoping to hit 70K by end of the day. (That is if I can tear myself away from file 770 and get to work).

  25. Peace is My Middle Name: I can’t swear to all the “Sneak vegetable slurry into…” recipes, but I can say that I know kids who genuinely love the homemade mac and cheese (And cauliflower) their mom makes. And she’s fighting real pickiness issues.

    I’m just delighted I have a boy who eats carrots and sweet potato, corn and (sometimes) peas willingly (And tomato and spinach and onion in sauces, though not fresh). He won’t touch leafy greens, though, and he’s eaten cucumber and bell peppers just once or twice, I swear to psyche us out.

    Doing zucchini crisp is just evil treachery, though. I can understand the desperation of the mother, but I think it’s a few steps too far.

  26. Lisbet on November 30, 2015 at 7:01 am said:

    @emgrasso & @iphinome

    I’ve learned so much about my writing style during this past month. I started with just a handful of characters and a general direction I wanted the story to unfold.

    I started with a picture and let things go where they wanted to for most of it and then the last quarter got hyper-difficult because I had to tie the mess up somehow.

    I don’t know how it reads, but I found switching writing the style of text regularly helped – e.g. regular chapter followed by a diary entry, followed by a police report, followed by a regular chapter, followed by a transcript of an interview.

  27. @iphinome @lisbetI have found in the past that trying to outline kills the story deader than Marley’s ghost (cue Dickensian meditations on door nails and coffin nails). I have to write the story to find out what happens and once I know what happens I can’t write it. It’s weird.
    I sort of subvocalize as I write, so there is a level at which I am literally telling the story to myself.
    How that interacts with going back to tweak things is complicated. I do huge amounts of tweaking when I write, which somehow doesn’t kill the story: I am amazed (and a little appalled) by people who talk about not even fixing typos during NaNoWriMo.
    When I need to write and things aren’t cooperating, I go back to an earlier section I was not entirely happy with and fiddle (word count doesn’t all need ot be added at the end) to get my mind back into the story.

  28. #2 “Passengers are go!”:

    Um, what does the Ars article mean about the replaceable cabin making an airplane “like an articulated truck,” anyway? I assume that this is the “lorry” sense of “truck,” but I thought that an articulated one (under either name) was one that bends in the middle, to go around corners more easily. Not exactly a useful feature in an airframe.

  29. @Camestros Felapton

    I also found switching things up helped a lot. Usually I when I found myself in a scene that never wanted to end I would switch pov to another character. I’m not even worried about how it reads since a good percentage will get tossed or rewritten.

    I am curious about how others have handled infodumps? After reading Seveneves, I’ve developed a phobia about writing infodumps.

  30. Doing zucchini crisp is just evil treachery, though. I can understand the desperation of the mother, but I think it’s a few steps too far.

    With seasonings like cinnamon and cloves, it might pass. We always treated it as a veggie, though, when it wasn’t in bread. (Goes well with dips, especially with a little curry powder in.)

  31. @emgrasso– I do huge amounts of tweaking when I write, which somehow doesn’t kill the story: I am amazed (and a little appalled) by people who talk about not even fixing typos during NaNoWriMo.

    This is how I used to write, and for me it was also part of the reason I never finished anything. Determined to successfully complete my first NaNoWriMo, I decided to change old habits and decided not to 1. Read what I’ve already wrote and 2. Not to fix typos unless it was the kind of typo I knew I would miss catching later. I managed to do it but those red squiggly lines made my eye twitch for the first half of the month.

  32. I always wondered about the old “mock apple pie” recipe that showed up on old boxes of Ritz Crackers.

    It was, as I recall, made of Ritz crackers flavored with lemon juice and sugar.

    I wonder what sort of terrible apple pies people were used to that that might seem an acceptable ersatz version.

  33. Here is an article where a sensory psychologist is asked to opine on why many people are willing to think that a pie with a gelatinous texture and a flavor of lemons, butter, and cinnamon tastes like apple pie.

  34. As someone who will likely never garden, I just want to chime in and say I read the two RedWombat rants with interest, as well as the how-to-do-it-right post.

    And another vote for Kyra’s mini-reviews. Same as Lexica, my ever-growing TBR mountain (range?) has a lot of Filer recommendations on it, though I also can’t remember who rec’d what 3/4 of the time.

  35. Lisbet on November 30, 2015 at 11:04 am said:

    I am curious about how others have handled infodumps? After reading Seveneves, I’ve developed a phobia about writing infodumps.

    My title character was pedantic person who liked to explain things socratically. Mind you, I like infodumps.

  36. @Lowell Gilbert

    An articulated lorry in the UK is a US semi, so the article is referencing the idea of being able to hitch up/drop in a pre-prepared cargo.

  37. @Peace: Mock apple pie is only appropriate at church pot-lucks* in the basement of the church, accompanied by the following conversation:

    Wife 1: Why, Glenda, this is delicious!
    Wife 2: Oh, isn’t it. It tastes just like apples!
    Wife 1: Indeed it does. Just like apples. You mean it’s not apples?
    Wife 2: Oh, no. You just won’t guess. Go ahead and guess.
    Wife 1: Oh, it must be apples!. It’s so good!
    Wife 2: It’s Ritz Crackers!
    Wife 1: Amazing! I would never have guessed, Wilma.
    Wife 2: I know. It’s this lovely recipe on the box! So economical, too!
    Wife 1: I just don’t believe it!

    Repeat for as long as you can stand. Believe me, they will go on longer than that. Meantime, I suggest you go snarf the last of Edna Field’s pecan pie, because it’s spectacular.

    *In my church, “pot providence” because there is no such thing as luck. No really, I was raised by these people. Wolves might have been preferable.

  38. I just read an article a few days ago that said pre-domesticated cucurbits were too hard and bitter for humans to eat, but the seeds have been found in mastodon droppings.

    Book recommendation time: The Ghosts of Evolution–Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms by Connie Barlow.

    About planting vegetables, I just recently discovered the existence of glass gem corn. Wow. (Google it for amazing images.) Apparently, it is tough-skinned and mostly appropriate for banged grains and for grinding. Too bad, it would make awesome “corn on the cob.”

  39. @ Lisbet et al. Re: infodumps

    I visualize infodumps as lying toward one end of a sliding scale of explicit versus implicit information. Even farther toward that end of the scale lie technical descriptions, and at the opposite end are prose that assumes a complete overlap between the knowledge-backgrounds of author and audience, such that nothing need be explained.

    There will never be a solution to the infodump problem because people’s preferences fall across the entire spectrum of the scale. Some readers hate having things explained to them, others prefer it. My own preference both as a writer and reader is for the necessary information to be presented via consequence rather than cause, as if they author were assuming that the audience already knows the underlying details and only has to describe the inevitable result of those underlying details.

    The two ends of the scale (and all the middle bits as well) are suited to different types of stories, as well as to different flavors of point of view. So there’s no “right” way to do it, only ways that work better or worse for a particular story and audience.

  40. Yay for mini-reviews, and for longer ones, too.

    And for RedWombat’s rants. If you ever want to do the one about invasive species, I have a neighbor who thinks running moth vine up her walls (and on to my trees) is a good idea (because no gardening). It’s also called CRUEL vine, for a reason.

    About “sneaking” greens into foods, I think the problem may be the sneaking part. Not just because it’s sneaky, though that’s bad enough.

    I told my daughter upfront about the zucchini in the chocolate cake (you grate it and you cannot taste it, or nobody I know can, and sometimes there’s too much zuchini), while making many gross-out faces, and therefore, she loves it more than any other chocolate cake. And she gets to tell other kids about her weird mom (At six, this is still a plus, I’m hoping to make it stick).

    @Darren: Glass gem corn is completely WOW. Thanks!

  41. Glass Gem Corn is so amazing! Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a whole article about how it was developed by one guy who was breeding colorful corn varieties. I wish I had room for it in my yard…

  42. Lisbet asked:

    I am curious about how others have handled infodumps? After reading Seveneves, I’ve developed a phobia about writing infodumps.

    Read some of Jo Clayton’s later work, like the Drinker of Souls or Skeen series, to cure that phobia! Clayton was a master of telling the reader only exactly as much as they need to know. There are infodumps sometimes, but they always happen at precisely the right moment and provide you exactly as much as you need to know and no more.

  43. Darren Garrison said:

    About planting vegetables, I just recently discovered the existence of glass gem corn. Wow. (Google it for amazing images.) Apparently, it is tough-skinned and mostly appropriate for banged grains and for grinding.

    Aha, so that’s the variety they’re showing at the end of the closing credits of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. I’ve seen variegated “Indian” corn before, but it definitely didn’t look anything like that. This looks like a reasonable match. Thanks!

    Incidentally, the Gundam image suggests that someone could punch tiny holes in the kernels and use them to make beaded jewelry. A quick search doesn’t turn up any confirmation that anyone actually does that.

  44. SO, on being shown the glass gem corn pictures: “It’s like someone crossbred corn with jelly beans.”

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