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. Adam Rakunas, a newer writer, has two books out in which the heroine is a union shop steward. They are Windswept and Like a Boss, published by Angry Robot.

  2. Kathryn Sullivan on December 20, 2018 at 11:31 am said:
    Olav, if it helps any, here’s a link to a summary and publication history:

    That does help, thank you! I very much enjoyed the Sector General novels that I’ve read (though it’s been ages since I read one) — and have just ordered a copy of “Monsters and Medics” (the Del Ray edition) off ABE.

    The people I’m co-authoring these labour posts with and I are interested in any labour union representation in SF.

  3. Xtifr says 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.

    I’d contend that the series is different rather than better. The movie is spot on in what is was intending to do. There are points in the series I thought that definitely cried out for a serious rewrite.

  4. @Arwel —

    @Contrarius – your father shouldn’t have been too concerned

    You know that, and I know that, and everyone else here knows that — but my dad specializes in finding things to be anxious about. He’s just that kinda guy. 😉

    I did the test with ancestry.com….

    Yeah, the results can really vary — I think in part because the different companies are checking different DNA regions, in part because they are considering different time frames (for example, all ancestors came from Africa if you look back far enough), and so on. That’s one reason I wanted to submit to both Ancestry and 23andMe — to check one against the other — but it turns out that my ancestry is so boring there wasn’t anything for them to disagree about!

  5. Re: the Buffy Movie: Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay, but didn’t like what the directors did to it. The movie is fine, but doesn’t bear much comparison to the show, which tells the Buffy story the way Whedon presumably intended/

  6. (16) BBC Newshour had a report this morning on unintended results from DNA tests, largely people finding out that one of their parents wasn’t their parent. Apparently most involved haven’t taken it well.

    For me, finding out that my Labrador wasn’t my brother wouldn’t be distressing at all. Finding out he was my brother might have been interesting. I’m sure we could have made a killing selling the story to the tabloids.

  7. On using DNA to determine general ancestry: my understanding is that it’s based on where those genes are most common now, and that isn’t going to tell you where they were N centuries ago. (Beyond about 400 or 500 years back, DNA tests aren’t reliable at all. Databases going back much further than that aren’t entirely reliable, none of them are based on DNA – and at that point you’re talking about as much as a million descendants of any given couple.)

    (I’ve been doing genealogy for about 40 years. It’s an interesting exercise in historical research.)

  8. There should really be a crossover of Metal Men and Doom Patrol, if only to have Robotman be dissed as a whiner by the MM.

  9. John M. Cowan says Re: the Buffy Movie: Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay, but didn’t like what the directors did to it. The movie is fine, but doesn’t bear much comparison to the show, which tells the Buffy story the way Whedon presumably intended

    To me, they really two separate realities. Series by their very nature are different than a movie is in terms of fleshing our characters and creating a narrative. I much prefer the animated Guardians of the Galaxy series which is now I believe five seasons long to the two films as it’s actually got a continuous narrative to it. Same goes for the various Star Wars animated series such as Star Wars Rebels.

  10. Steve Simmons ponders that There should really be a crossover of Metal Men and Doom Patrol, if only to have Robotman be dissed as a whiner by the MM.

    A quick check of the DCU database The Doom Patrol has had but two crossovers: one with the Challengers of the Unknown and one with Flash, not sure which one. I’ve seen every animated series and movie that DC has done at least once and there’s never been a crossover there either though both groups have made an appearance at least once.

  11. There’s still hope that the Doom Patrol TV series will do crossovers. If they’re going to be doing Danny the Street/Planet, I don’t see why they can’t do Metal Men.

    Beelzebub has a pixel put aside for me, for me, for me.

  12. Cross-over-wise, etc., in the paper comics side, Metal Men and Batman. Also possibly & Superman, maybe also and Justice League. I’m not sure I could look it up, but I could ask Tom Galloway, etc. I think I just watched a MM short animated on the DC Universe site (yes, OGH, I still owe you a review of the service, etc).

    And (also in the comics) Doc Magnus, at least, has had some cameos in Doom Patrol… notably, making a new (and, claims D/M) better body for RobotMan. Was that in Grant Morrison’s run? That, at least, i could look up, offline, by recoursing to that box o’comics (or it may be in the trade reprint collections, on the shelf).

    Probably one of these x-over plots involved Amazo (seen briefly in the most recent CW “arrowverse” seasonal cross-over, mini-review also in progress), involving heisted Responsometers.
    Speaking of cross-overs we (well, I) would like to see, Kid Amazo, Machine Man, and Viv Vision.

  13. 13)
    Ralph Richardson also had a leading role in the 1936 movie Things To Come, screenplay by H.G. Wells based on his book The Shape of Things To Come.
    He played The Boss — and he was!

  14. RDaggle says Ralph Richardson also had a leading role in the 1936 movie Things To Come, screenplay by H.G. Wells based on his book The Shape of Things To Come.
    He played The Boss — and he was!

    H’h. Missed that one. Prolly the title made me skip past it. My bad.

  15. Didn’t see this mentioned, so the animated movie, Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015), featured a version of Dr. Magnus and the Metal Men as villains fighting a vampiric Batman. The Metal Men were one of my favourite comics too. Like Astro Boy, there was a deep pathos in the difference between acting like (and often better than) humans and being human.

  16. [edit]: @OGH: yes, I was referring to the “Next” link (right side just below the ~colophon). Sorry I wasn’t clear; didn’t think to uncompress. But now I’m curious why creating the link takes so long; maybe I’ll monitor to make sure I’m not hallucinating.

    rating Sanderson: I found Mistborn sometimes interesting, and sometimes too mechanical — e.g., the magic system was extensive/systemic enough to get in the way of the story. (IMO, Tepper barely got away with having tables of magic types in the back of the True Game books; I tend to consider that an indication that the story is about gaming instead of people.) I’ve read one of his subsequent novels, and passed on others. Some of his shorter work (e.g. at least one Hugo-nominated novella) seemed to have the fire that was missing or very weak in the novels.

    @9: 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. I’d like to see this quantified; ISTM that academic circles had nothing to do with early SF (regarding it as unclean), and that few of the people involved in forming early SF could be called “upper middle class”, but my knowledge of that era is not encyclopedic. I note that even people of limited economic background (e.g. Pohl, who dropped out of high school) tended to write about individual responses to economic malfeasance rather than specifically about unions. (It’s possible that US SF of that period concentrated on individual achievement, however improbable.) And the discussion of “Strikebreaker” ignores the conclusion, which I read (long before I knew much about labor movements) as suggesting that breaking the strike was a mistake.

    @David Shallcross: Wikipedia says that Canute didn’t conquer all of England directly; there was a treaty making him his opponent’s successor for London and points south. I suppose it could be argued either way.

    @steve Simmons (re tabloids): <snort>

  17. Daniel P Dern:


    “Cross-over-wise, etc., in the paper comics side, Metal Men and Batman. “

    Yeah, was it in The Brave and The Bold? The Metal Men helping Batman fighting terrorists who held a hostage or something like that.

    I also remember a Metal Men where they were fighting the Justice League villain Eclipso. That one was really cool.

  18. @ Contarious
    I’ve read that DNA results vary because of the less than rigorous way the companies define the baseline. They will find five people who claim their ancestors have lived in Wales for 200 years and whatever DNA they have in common is defined as being 100% Welsh. When you consider how many people get DNA results showing their parent is not their parent, the flaw in this methodology becomes apparent. Not to mention the small sample size.

    Mistborn: I picked up this series at a point where I was tired of grim dark and this was recommended as being a non-dark series. And then a few million people die. I haven’t been able to get over that and judge the series fairly.
    This did remind me of Mark Lawrence’s argument that his books aren’t dark because when you count up the deaths and rapes in his books they are less than most books. I didn’t think much of his argument at the time- it’s all about tone. But now I do look at books differently and count how many unnamed background characters die. And if the author takes their deaths seriously or is just adding more deaths for no reason. Like Africa in Man in a High Castle which gets most of its population wiped out just to remind us the Nazis are still evil – that’s a strike against the book in my opinion.

  19. When my husband and I first put our DNA samples up on Ancestry.com, the results in terms of ethnicity were really off in terms of what we knew about where our ancestors were from. Ancestry then redid their formulas or databases or something, maybe a month ago, maybe two, and the results are MUCH more accurate. I am not one who believes that I am a different person based on some arbitrary boundary line drawn well after my ancestors left (you know, like the guy in the Ancestry commercial buying lederhosen) but I do find it interesting to have some idea where they came from when and what their lives might have been like. Our general conclusions were that they were way underestimating German (or Western Europe) and Scandinavian genes, and estimating too much British when we first got there, and the new formula is a lot better. 23andMe is slightly different, but fairly close to being on the money, too. What we’ve found interesting about 23andMe is the chromosome segment comparisons, but it doesn’t have the records and family trees that help you figure out how people might be related to you. Oh, and if you belong to a population that tended to marry and procreate within its own community—Ashkenazi Jews, for example, or Mennonites—your results will tend to be a bit more reliable in terms of identifying that you do belong to that group, because there is a discrete group to compare to, but less reliable in terms of the degree of relationship, because you may not be this person’s third cousin, for example, but a fourth cousin on one side and a fifth on the other, if that makes sense. I’ve read two articles about Ashkenazi Jews getting results that say they have 7,000 fourth cousins, when the reality is just that somewhere a lot farther back, there are multiple connections.

    The closer the relationship, the more cMs and SNPs you have in common and the more and longer the segments you have in common, the more you can rely on the info. But you really need to combine family records, obituaries and birth announcements from newspapers, Find-a-Grave, government records and other people’s family trees with the DNA to get the most out of it. I still have a couple of second cousins I don’t know how I’m related to. It’s not like I’m going for some massive family reunion, anyway. Or crime solving. But I like a mystery and I want to solve these details. Oh, and I did find a missing branch on the family tree. That was pretty cool.

  20. I absolutely loved The Emperor’s Soul, really enjoyed the Mistborn trilogy, and thought that Sanderson himself should have gotten a Hugo for the way that he managed to tie up a massive number of Jordan’s worldbuilding details and plot threads into a really satisfying finish for The Wheel of Time series. But I found Perfect State, Snapshot, and the first Wax and Wayne novel to be very formulaic, and with the exception of the female character, I thought that Oathbringer was really tedious and bloated.

    My take on Sanderson’s fiction is that it’s very much informed by RPG-type worldbuilding, mage-battling, and wargaming — which is where much of his large fanbase seems to reside. His characterizations seem to me to be very flat and two dimensional, which I can overlook if the worldbuilding is amazing as it was in Soul, but the formulaic nature of his more recent works doesn’t make it over that hurdle for me.

  21. 17) The writing in Mortal Engines is a disastrous mass of cribbed cliches. There is not a shred of originality or life in the story. The movie has glorious visuals, but that’s not enough. I very nearly walked out in the middle.

    This movie is very properly failing because it is a bad movie, all on its own.

  22. Thinking about it a bit more, I think I really liked Mistborn because it has an interesting magic system (metals with defined properties is kinda interesting, and the second axis of the three types of magic you can do with them is fascinating).

  23. I don’t mind Sanderson having thoroughly worked-out magic systems, but I do mind him trying to explain the entire damn thing to me while I’m just trying to enjoy the magical assassination scene. It didn’t even come up again for half the book, it could’ve waited.

  24. I tried to watch a few Buffy episodes and found the series filled with too much coincidence, wore its heart on its sleeve and had bad special effects.

  25. And the discussion of “Strikebreaker” ignores the conclusion, which I read (long before I knew much about labor movements) as suggesting that breaking the strike was a mistake.

    Hmmm … that’s not the interpretation I get from the ending. It’s certainly a downer ending, and the person conducting the labour action is shown to have a point to his complaints, but Asimov takes an incrementalist view, suggesting that the unclean caste might see change “in time,” and that should be good enough.

    The hero of the story is the guy who breaks the strike, and he does it for the good of the colony. At no point is it really suggested that he should have not gotten involved.

    “In my son’s time,” said Ragusnik, his cheeks sagging. “I might have had it now. Well, I lose. I’ll go back to the job.”

    In a blog post of 1,800+ words, there wasn’t room for a full deep dive into that one story.

    Here’s a link to the full text of the story: http://www.angelfire.com/ultra/savvy/story9.html

  26. I didn’t recall “Strikebreaker” at all, and I thought I knew my Asimov. I’m not going to say this is not an anti-union story, but I will say I think it’s not the main thrust of it.

    @Olav Rokne: I looked over your list, and I think John Barnes’ Orbital Resonance might be more on point than Candle. I haven’t re-read Candle in a while and I probably should–I’m still not quite sure how to take the ending–but I do know Orbital Resonance really well.

  27. John A Arkansawyer on December 21, 2018 at 9:06 am said:
    I didn’t recall “Strikebreaker” at all, and I thought I knew my Asimov. I’m not going to say this is not an anti-union story, but I will say I think it’s not the main thrust of it.

    There’s an interesting anecdote about how Asimov actually wrote the story because of a transit strike, and he was surprised at how few people could bring down a system.

    @Olav Rokne: I looked over your list, and I think John Barnes’ Orbital Resonance might be more on point than Candle. I haven’t re-read Candle in a while and I probably should–I’m still not quite sure how to take the ending–but I do know Orbital Resonance really well.

    I’ve not read Orbital Resonance. I’m amenable to adding it to the list, if you think it should be there.

  28. @Olav Rokne: I would add it, if it were my list. There’s one particular passage in the book where a father is talking to his son and his son’s date about his union:

    “Management works for the employer, and at least in the short run your employer’s interests are exactly opposite yours. No matter how nice a guy your manager is, he’s paid to be your enemy.
    “But that’s not the whole story. Otherwise, I suppose they’d just make slaves of us or we’d kill them. The fact is, they don’t dare win–because if they destroy the worker, who will make the product or buy it? The union limits how much management can win. So in a sense, the union looks after the long run. Or justice, which might be the same thing.”

    Kind of splits the difference as he goes from the solidarity union theory to the business union theory, doesn’t he? It’s not the only mention of the union in the book and the relationship between workers and the management corporados is part of the deeper plot.

    Of course, if you agree with me that this story (like most of Barnes’ first-person fiction) is told by a very unreliable narrator, that explains a bit of the softness in the argument.

  29. I liked the Metal Men too, comic book “science” and all. Part of me would like to see them get a comic (or backup series) again, but every time DC tried them in a feature, it was with all the enthusiasm of a company only interested in maintaining their trade mark.

    Oh, and Hampus? You’re thinking of the Gas Gang. A sinister bunch gets a sinister name.

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