Pixel Scroll 4/16/17 Illudium Q-36 Explosive File Moderator

(1) SOUL SURVIVOR. Peter Jones testifies: “Westboro Wannabees Picket Norwescon”

So, I’m in my hotel room at Norwescon. I don’t have a dealer table, and my panel appearances are kinda limited, so I’m making the best of it by getting a much done on Black Powder Goddess as I can. I’m deep into revisionland when all of a sudden a load, distorted voice from a megaphone starts shouting at me to repent my sins.

Now, understand something; I am on the tenth floor of the hotel. So this megaphone is putting out some serious decibels, if not clarity. I step out onto my balcony, and see that there are people with massive signs bouncing them up and down in front of the con hotel as megaphone-preacher predicts a future of eternal fire for me.

I admit, my first thoughts were of irritation. After all, I’m just trying to get some work done, here. Now I’ve got to listen to this moron shouting at me while I try to fix this little bit of dialogue, or that paragraph structure.

But other people begin to emerge onto their own balconies as well, and now we’re looking at each other. Occasionally, someone shouts something rude back at the preacher. One dude starts up a chant of “Live in sin” over and over again. There are catcalls, people fly the horns, etc. But even that starts to die down in the face of what appears to be a never-ending barrage of scripture.

And I’m thinking to myself; what the hell good can they possibly imagine this is doing?

I mean, is anyone going to say “Whelp, I was going to hit up a room party, drink like Bacchus, and compare various forms of magic and demons to one another, but now that someone I don’t know has yelled Bible verses at me through a megaphone I think I’m going to church instead?” No. That is a phrase said by nobody, ever.

Video of the protestors here.

(2) TRICORDER DESIGN WINS X-PRIZE. The Harris brothers — mentioned here a couple of weeks ago — beat nine other finalists, including some heavily-funded competition. IFL Science has the story — “Star Trek’s Tricorder Now Officially Exists Thanks To A Global Competition”.

Star Trek’s all-purpose medical device, the Tricorder, has also inspired a fair few people to recreate its near-magical ability to instantly diagnose a patient. As it happens, the non-profit X-Prize Foundation were so keen to get one invented that they started a global competition to see if any mavericks would succeed.

Rather remarkably, one team has emerged victorious in their endeavor. A family-led team from Pennsylvania, appropriately named Final Frontier Medical Devices, have bagged themselves a sum of $2.5 million, with a second-place prize of $1 million going to the Taiwan-based Dynamical Biomarkers Group.

The objective of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition was to create a lightweight, non-invasive, handheld device that can identify 13 health conditions (12 diseases, and the very absence of disease) in 90 minutes to 24 hours with no additional help or counsel from medical professionals. Five vital health metrics, like heartbeat and respiratory function, were also required to be constantly monitored.

Beginning in 2012, 10 teams originally made the cut from an original starting point of 312 groups from 38 countries. Two finalists were announced last December, and six total were honored at the prize-giving ceremony in Los Angeles.

The team behind the winning design was headed by brothers Dr Basil Harris, an emergency physician, and George Harris, a network engineer. They came up with “DxtER,” a device infused with artificial intelligence, entire funded by themselves and two other siblings of theirs.

Concluding that one device alone was not sufficient to accurately and quickly diagnose various medical conditions in a patient, the team realized that they needed to link it up to a wealth of medical data….

(3) MORE POTTERCABULARY ON COURSE FOR THE DICTIONARY. Priya Joshi, in an International Business Times piece called “’Quidditch’ and ‘Potterhead’ could make their way into the Oxford English Dictionary”, says that the OED is considering these terms as well as “wrock,” which is short for “wizard rock.”  However, “muggle” was added to the OED years ago.

“Potterhead”, which is a term used to describe a Harry Potter super-fan, is in the running, as is “Wrock” [short for Wizard Rock] a genre of music favoured by the pupils of Hogwarts. “Bellatrix” the name of one of Rowling’s characters, may also make it into the OED.

While it is rare for made-up words to find their way into the Oxford dictionary, they have to be in circulation for 10 years to be considered for this authoritative record of the English language.

(4) TODAY’S 3000. In the opinion of The Verge’s Megan Farokhmanesh, “Mystery Science Theater 3000 perfectly dunks on Stranger Things.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back, and the first thing on its hit list is Stranger Things. Netflix has released a short MST3K crossover teaser that features the cast of the revival version of the show taking a break from their movie-centric entertainment to riff on the opening of Netflix’s breakout science-fiction thriller. Although the actual show is focused on questionable movies rather than viral-hit TV, the clip is still a brilliant bit of marketing.


(5) CROSSED SIGNALS. But wait, another writer for The Verge, Noel Murray, says the first episode is a sendup of the movie Reptilicus. Which The Verge also likes.

But Netflix’s revival version grasps something that most of the copycats miss: Mystery Science Theater was never just about sneering. The new Jonah Ray version of the series recaptures the original version’s handmade, “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” charm. The sets and effects look fussed-over and intricately detailed, but also inexpensive enough that any diligent, gifted community-theater tech could’ve pulled them off. During the first break in Reptilicus, Ray and the ’bots launch into a Hamilton-esque rap (penned by nerdcore songwriting duo Paul Sabourin and Storm DiCostanzo) about giant monsters around the world. In that song, Ray, Yount, and Vaughn hit every tricky, rapid-fire aural cue, but also knock over props and sing like spirited amateurs. The presentation throughout the first new episode is smart and energetic, but not always slick.

The main thing the Netflix MST3K gets right is the original’s giddy media deconstruction. During Reptilicus, there are jokes about the movie’s slow pace (“Feel free to begin the scene any time, guys”), and about the stock characters and casual sexism (“Brigadier General Military Industrial Complex, this is Miss Doctor Woman”). Ray and the ’bots have some fun with the poor quality of the source material itself (“Either this print is in really bad shape, or it’s raining tar”), and the movie’s distinctly Danish setting (“Protect the parfumerie!”).

(6) THAT OTHER TURING TEST. Emilio Lizardo never met the renowned codebreaker, but somehow Turing got interested in this saurian puzzler — “Color-shifting lizard’s skin morphs just as Alan Turing predicted”.

At least, when you take John von Neumann’s math into account…

There’s a particular type of lizard that changes the color of its spots as it ages — and researchers have just discovered the mathematical rules that govern this peculiar metamorphosis.

Meet the ocellated lizard, a 30-to-35 inch reptile that lives Europe. These lizards are born with unimpressive brown and white polka dots. But as they grow, they develop this beautiful, labyrinthine green and black pattern across their bodies. We don’t know exactly why this happens, but now, we know a little more about how. The lizard scales might be changing according to a particular mathematical model, reports a study published this week in Nature. The weird thing is, this model is somewhat different from the one that scientists have long believed to determine how animals get dots and stripes.

In fact, one overarching theory of how biological patterns form comes from an unlikely place: codebreaker Alan Turing. About 65 years ago, he proposed that stripes, spots, and even appendages like fingers may emerge from a series of chemical interactions between two hypothetical substances: an activator and an inhibitor. As both substances spread across a canvas like an animal’s skin at different paces, they compete with one another to give rise to patterns….

(7) TAYLOR OBIT. Robert Taylor, a pioneer of modern computing and the internet, died April 13 at the age of 85.

In the 1960s, Taylor was a researcher at the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, where his frustration with what he saw as inefficient communication led him to envision an interconnected computer network.

At ARPA, Taylor had three separate computer terminals in his office to communicate with his colleagues across Berkeley, MIT, UCLA and Stanford. Each terminal connected to a different computer in a different part of the country, he told Raz.

“To get in touch with someone in Santa Monica through the computer, I’d sit in front of one terminal, but to do the same thing with someone in Massachusetts, I would have to get up and move over to another terminal,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to look at this very long to realize this is silly. This is stupid. So I decided, OK, I want to build a network that connects all of these.”

That shared network, ARPANET, evolved into what would become the internet. To build it, Taylor assembled a group of smart people, like Bill Duvall at Stanford, Len Kleinrock at UCLA and the 21-year-old programmer Charley Kline.

(8) EFFECTS.Ghost in the Shell Reel” on Vimeo is a demonstration of work by Ash Thorp about work he did for the 2017 movie.

(9) COUNTING EXERCISE. Lettie Prell and a white-hot adding machine tell about “Women Writers Winning Hugo Awards: A History”.

In sum, this analysis documents the large increase in Hugos going to women writers, from zero to a sweep of all four major fiction categories in 2016. I could have selected another award, or gathered other data, and documented the same upward trajectory, because what we’re really documenting here is the achievement of the broader women’s movement, which has been just one of the groups who’ve been working for a more inclusive culture. As for me, I’ve come to expect diverse voices, and I hunger for them as another dimension of the mind-expanding fare I’ve craved since high school.

(10) RATING YOUR UBER DRIVER. Buzzfeed fears that the Uber driver rating system gets people unjustly canned.

In a San Francisco Lyft car, there’s a chart taped to the back of the front passenger seat: “The Rating System Explained.” It details — in exaggerated terms — what Lyft’s one- to five-star rating scale really means to drivers.

Beginning at five stars — “got me where I needed to go” — the explanations quickly descend into parodic paranoia. Four stars: “This driver sucks, fire him slowly … Too many of these and I may end up homeless.” Three stars: “This driver sucks so bad I never want to see him again.” Two stars: “maybe the car had something dangerously wrong with it or he was doing 120 in a 40 mile zone.”

One star? “Threats or acts of violence possibly made, perhaps a callous disregard for his own safety.”

Though tongue-in-cheek, this rating system explainer touches on an essential truth of the gig economy: When companies like Lyft, Uber, and Postmates penalize workers who have low ratings, anything less than five stars feels like a rebuke….

(11) I GET AROUND. No beach for these boys, but plenty of sand — “’Star Wars’ Exclusive Sneak Peek: Hasbro’s Deluxe Luke Skywalker-Landspeeder Set”.

Luke Skywalker is all set to head down to Tosche Station for a rendezvous with Biggs, Windy, Deak, and Fixer in this exclusive first look at the latest addition to Hasbro’s premium Black Series line. The young moisture farmer can cruise the dunes of the twin-sunned planet, from Anchorhead to Mos Eisley, in his X-34 landspeeder.

(12) POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT. Blastr brings the good word — “Story by legendary sci-fi author Robert Silverberg being made into film”.

One of sci-fi’s greatest living legends is finally getting some love from Hollywood.

According to Deadline, John Ridley is set to write and direct a film for Miramax called Needle in a Timestack, based on a short story by Robert Silverberg. The story focuses on a man who sets out to save his marriage after it is destroyed by a rival using time travel to alter the course of history.

The involvement of Ridley, whose credits include writing and directing the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, as well as creating the acclaimed TV series American Crime and a new Showtime project called Guerrilla (he’s also still attached to write a mystery Marvel TV project), means it’s more likely to move forward than get stuck in development hell.

(13) SLEEPWALKING TO THE BANK. According to Looper’s Time Karan, “Upcoming Stephen King novel Sleeping Beauties already being developed for TV”.

It’s a scary great time to be Stephen King.

According to Empire, his upcoming novel Sleeping Beauties–which he wrote with his son Owen King–is already being developed into a TV series. The book is slated to arrive in September from Scribner. The TV series will be produced by The OA’s Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta.

The novel is reportedly set in the relatively near future at a women’s prison in an Appalachian town. Here’s the official synopsis: “Something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep, they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain?”

(14) HUGH JACKMAN SINGS THE MUSIC MAN. David K.M. Klaus supplies the introduction to this 2012 Tonight Show clip:

He still had it memorized from when he was 14, doing eight voices in rapid succession, the opening scene on a train.  It’s a hoot! It shows that you can’t just walk in from somewhere and do superhero films — this is part of why he could master a role like Wolverine, through training as an actor and dancer. The opposite illustration of this would be Shaquille O’Neil playing Steel, from the Superman comics, and being an awkward disaster.


[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JohnFromGR.]

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93 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/16/17 Illudium Q-36 Explosive File Moderator

  1. @Chip Hitchcock: I believe that the airports were allowed to restrict solicitations in the terminal by a Supreme Court decision in 1992, International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee.

  2. @ Cheryl. Well, the book gets more complex and gradually raises the stakes from one person’s fate to the future of humanity. And everything introduced here does turn out to be relevant later on. But the writing style remains the same throughout, IMO, if you’re not liking it now, that won’t change later..
    If you are a reader who likes character development more, you might try skipping ahead and reading Nemesis Games.

  3. @Cheryl S.

    I may be the wrong person to pep talk Leviathan Wakes. Hopefully someone that loves it answers too.

    I found the book kind of meh myself. That said: I think the detective subplot was more engaging than the spacer subplot. At 60 pages in I can’t recall if you’ve hit that part of the storyline or not. So maybe a kind of hope?

    I’m also told the series really hits it’s stride around book 3. Mount TBR hasn’t shrunk enough for me to bother finding out.

    Tying back to the ratings discussion: 3 stars. Nothing discreditable but nothing to really rave about either. (YMMV etc.)

  4. Ultragotha, Cheryl S.: Thanks!

    Three stars are still above average methinks. I use it for overall Good books with shortcomings to big to ignore or entertaining books with too many boring parts to justify four stars.
    Overall boring or meh-books only recieve two stars. If there is nothing good, I give one star as well as up. But luckily that rarely happens.
    Good books get four stats, great books five.
    But ratings are not hard science, There often is a “On another day I could have given a point more/less”-faktor to it. Just gave ER Masons Deep crosding three stars, because of glaring pacing problems, despite having been entertained. So I wonder if Im too hard-but the first book pf the series was just so much better, that I had to give a point less…

  5. I skipped Leviathan Wakes as I’d already seen half of it in the TV series and will hopefully see the second half soon, and I’d heard book one was a bit clunky. I started at book two instead and found it very enjoyable, and have headed straight into book three. There’s definitely an escalating plot in operation – book three has upped the stakes quite dramatically – and I liked the secondary characters brought in for the book, not least because Holden is a bit of an ass and I’m not sure I could follow a whole story just with him.

  6. Ratings – I’ve been told by construction workers and house cleaners that anything less than a five star rating from the customer is considered a problem.

    I’ve gotten that too from places–I think the shop where I got my car worked on recently said they’d send me a survey and anything below a 10/10 would be considered a failing grade. Which is nuts. If only perfection is acceptable then there’s something seriously wrong with your rating system.

    Yep. If I’m responding to a consumer survey, and I don’t want to get the employees in trouble, I’ll either give all top scores or I won’t bother responding. Because it doesn’t matter if I mean “It was quite an enjoyable experience” with a 4 or “I had no strong opinion at all” with a 3, their boss is going to treat it as “You fucked up and it’s going to affect your pay/review/bonus.”

    I can’t say “Well, they’re choosing to misinterpret it,” because they’re going to use it to punish someone I had no problem with.

    Sadly, I had one guy get furious at me on Twitter when I said I don’t want to answer these things if I can’t answer them honestly — he said that even refusing to answer them can get the employee in trouble.

    And yes, there’s something seriously wrong with that rating system. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people whose livelihood is harmed by it, and they’re not the ones who implemented it.

    [On Amazon, which is a whole different rating system, I take 3.5 stars as the minimum positive rating. So many people toss out 5s left and right that if a book can only muster a 3, that isn’t a sign of “perfectly adequate,” it’s a sign of “unenthusiastic audience, probably middling genre writing.”]

  7. “Being generous I would assume having passion they don’t understand the true impact of their actions.”

    In the case of folks like the Westboro cult and the campus “shame” preachers, most of them are quite intentionally trying to provoke their audience into behaving badly.

    The reason they’re doing that may vary. The Westboro cult, for instance, includes a number of members who are lawyers, ready to file suit (and collect settlements) if someone crosses the line they carefully stay just on the other side of, and assaults them or otherwise infringes on their civil rights.

    And “Brother Jed”, the first “you’re all going to hell!” campus preacher I’m aware of to get his own Usenet group, wrote a book where, if I remember correctly, he basically said his goal was to get people to behave horribly back at him, then later on reflect on what they did, realize they’d behaved horribly, and in response repent and follow Jesus. He calls this technique “confrontational evangelism”.

    From all that I can tell, the Brother-Jed strategy has an extremely low conversion rate (and a considerably higher rate of pushing people in the other direction). But I suspect the conversion rate in his direction might also be slightly above zero, and I also suspect that, given his rather twisted (and actually unorthodox) theology, that’s good enough for him.

  8. My personal book ratings:
    5 Stars: What else is there by this author? Need to get it all, right now.
    4 Stars: What else is there by this author? Hmm…. this one sounds interesting.
    3 Stars: Ok, fine. What’s next on TBR?
    2 Stars: Do I keep it or give it away?
    1 Star: Do I give it away or throw it away?

  9. @Cheryl: (Leviathan Wakes)

    I’m a couple hundred pages in at present, and thoroughly enjoying the plots that have just converged. In fact, I’m somewhat amazed at the pace with which events have escalated!

    One bit that has me scratching my head, though, is the description in Chapter 21 of a “big, intimidating” office, with an old desk and room to pace, as “easily two and a half square meters.” I can’t figure out whether the intent is to drive home the idea that “compartments are tiny, so a five foot by five foot room is considered big” or if they meant 2.5 meters square (a bit more than eight feet square) instead. Both are still Earth-small, but I have trouble understanding how one can physically fit a desk, a visitor, and room to pace into a five-by-five space. I’ve seen a couple of other lexical slip-ups (like “script” for “scrip”), but otherwise the text is fairly sound, so that doesn’t really help matters…

  10. … although I don’t know whether he and Leno discussed it beforehand, giving him time for a quick brushup …

    I don’t think there’s much spontaneity on late-night shows.

    On that song, the band ends its playing at the same time Hugh Jackman does without either one talking about that beforehand. I think they rehearsed.

  11. Chip Hitchcock:

    I’m surprised the hotel didn’t throw them out for trespassing; is the lot publicly owned, or do Washington laws not support it, or did they not get enough complaints from paying customers?

    I never saw them in the parking lot, only on the sidewalk. I suspect that any group this dedicated is quite careful to stay where they can’t be chased off.

  12. I’m looking for a reviewer for The Strange Case of theAlchemist’s Daughter, the forthcoming novel by Theodora Goss. It’s a riff in a similar vein as Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as the characters here include Mary Jeckell and Catherine Moreau.

    It also has the characters discussing the novel itself and other things that make sure no one takes Things Too Seriously.

    If interested, email me here.

  13. Rev. Bob on April 17, 2017 at 3:35 pm said:
    I’d guess they meant 2.5 meters square (which is still pretty small for an office). It’s a fairly common error.
    A cubicle that’s about 2 meters square has room for a desk and a visitor’s chair (barely), but if you’re going to be pacing, you’re probably not going to be doing it in the cubicle. And if it’s like the cubicle I had, with a long ell from the desk taking all the second side of the cubicle, you can forget the visitor’s chair as well. (The file drawers were under that side.)

  14. @PJ:

    That was pretty much my take. When I was in college, my room occupied what was planned as an elevator shaft. It was a little more than twice the width of my door and maybe a third again the length of the bed – so, maybe 6×8 feet, which at 48 square feet is substantially bigger than 2.5 square meters.

    For the curious, the desk-and-dresser unit fit under a loft bed, and the closet took up the rest of that half of the room. I had room for one visitor, unless one or two people sat on the bed. Pacing the floor would have been a laughable concept at best.

  15. @Rev Bob I am now put in mind of the ever-smaller apartments in J.G. Ballard’s “Billennium”

  16. @Cheryl S: I remember liking Leviathan Wakes even though it took time to lay out all the threads enough that they made sense going forward.

    @rcade: I’ll take your word for the lack of spontaneity — it doesn’t surprise me — but the cutoff is not evidence; I’m just a serious amateur musician, and I can usually signal a cutoff well enough for another serious amateur to catch.

  17. Thank you to everyone who replied to my plea. You were all very helpful. I can read significantly faster than I can watch, so I’ll keep plugging at Leviathan Wakes, and at least two of its sequels, for the sake of fairness.

  18. @JJ: “He appertained so much that he turned into a beer?” – ::snort::

    @Paul Weimer: Oh yeah, the Sheryl Crow song! 🙂

    @Various: Rating inflation, ugh. I get really ticked off when someone browbeats me about how he or she just has to get a 5-star rating (or 10/10 or whatever) or else blah blah blah. That’s a horrible way to get a top rating out of me. But I’m with @Rob; clearly the rating system is super-flawed if that’s the case. And I rarely believe the line about if it’s less than 10, they’ll get in trouble or whatever the couple of people who’ve tried that line on me have been such a PITA about it, and they really didn’t sound sincere – more like they were trying to game the system. (shrug) I’m no mind reader, of course. Anyway, usually I’m filling out online surveys for “how was your visit to our store” and they’re very impersonal, so I doubt I’ve cost anyone their job.

    @GiantPanda: My ties are for second place in Short Story (Wong or Vaughn) and first place in Novelette (Wong or Gilman, though after things percolate, maybe all my ratings will rearrange).

    @Hugh Jackman Fans: We saw him in “The Boy From Oz,” but that’s his only musical stuff I’ve seen/heard. But IIRC he was quite good; at least an 7 or 8, I’m sure.

    @Cheryl S. & @Various: ::taking notes on what people have said:: 😉

  19. @Kendall: Careful, with ratings that low you might destroy Jackman’s career!

    But in all seriousness: ratings inflation: for stuff like Uber I’ll basically give people a 5 unless something goes disastrously wrong. I generally only use it in South-East Asia anyway and it’s more reliable/better priced than the alternatives (especially in Thailand) so that seems fair to me (also I don’t want to potentially be responsible for someone losing a job). Books/movies/other media, I’m a lot more judgemental and it takes more than “I finished the book” for me to give it a 5. In fact, finishing the book isn’t even a guarantee that I’ll give it as high a rating as 2.

  20. I, too, am wondering about Leviathan Wakes. I am about half way through, and I think something may be changing at this point; until now it struck me as a political thriller that just happened to be set in space; now it is perhaps revealing its more deeply science-fictional nature. But I may be wrong.

    I guess my question is this: Is there a central concept, a Thing which you can say the story is about? Or is it only possible to explain what it is about by rehearsing the plot, at length?

  21. Andrew M, I don’t know exactly how to put it without being really spoilery.

    Um. Two words. Gray goo.

  22. Cassy B: Well, I wasn’t asking people to tell me what it’s about, just if it’s about something. But, OK, gray goo. I know about that: it’s mentioned in the prologue. And it’s still about gray goo six books later? That’s – comforting, in a way.

  23. I just finished reading Leviathan Wakes this weekend and found it fairly enjoyable, although it didn’t really do anything innovative with the genre. The core-periphery structure between the inner worlds of Mars and Earth as opposed to the outer planets wasn’t new, and the novel doesn’t radically change anything about the genre. The use noir themes was fun, but nothing innovative, and the tensions between the characters were also nothing new. However, it used those conventions productively, and I found myself engaged in the books. I’m looking forward to taking a look at the sequel. Oddly enough, it fits the Torgersen Nutty Nuggets category far more than any of the Sad Puppies nominees ever did.

  24. I’m only watching the show, but if the grey goo is the blue goo in the tv show, it definitely gets INTERESTING. And SFnal.

  25. Andrew M on April 18, 2017 at 10:11 am said:

    I, too, am wondering about Leviathan Wakes. I am about half way through, and I think something may be changing at this point; until now it struck me as a political thriller that just happened to be set in space; now it is perhaps revealing its more deeply science-fictional nature. But I may be wrong.

    The series wanders between the two and when it works well (SF events having a real social-political impact) it finds an original place to be.

  26. I checked on LW in my local library system and all the copies are either checked out or on hold. I guess the TV show is having an impact. (Also, local branch is remarkably light on SF.)

  27. Lenora Rose, I have the TV show queued up on my TIVO but haven’t gotten to it yet. I was using “gray goo” in the generic SFnal sense; it amuses me to hear that there is actual blue goo in the TV show…

  28. @Robert Wood – Oddly enough, it fits the Torgersen Nutty Nuggets category far more than any of the Sad Puppies nominees ever did.

    I quite like Nutty Nuggets and you’ve reminded me how annoyed I was when the Puppy putsch produced crap instead of the promised overlooked works of genius. Actually, I’m still annoyed.

    Also annoying are sprawling books that would benefit from the kind of editing that is no longer common. Halfway through Leviathan Wakes and I’m convinced 20% of it is padding.

  29. My ratings on Goodreads changed after hanging out on a number of groups and learning how people were rating books. I changed from most books getting a 3 to giving them a 4. It’s rare for me to give a book a 5. I’ve done a few 1 or 2 ratings but over time I learned to DNF books & add them to my DNF shelf instead of rating them.

  30. Re Leviathan Wakes The first two books felt a little redundant to me – like book two was just the first book rewritten to move the plot a little further along. They are both gray goo stories. The third book is more of a big dumb object story. I thought it really took off about 1/4 through book three. I really loved the first book, as well, once I got through the intro to each separate story thread (as someone mentioned up-thread). I find the captain dude insanely annoying as a person, not a character – he’s almost a parody of the popular idea of Captain Kirk, but minus all the bits that Futurama used for Zapp Brannigan.

    @Cheryl S – I agree on the Puppy nuggets. I was hoping to find some great, fun stories but mostly got a bunch of angry rants and half-edited amateur writing.

    @Tasha – Nice to see you again! Seems like you’ve been gone a while.

  31. I finished Abaddon’s Gate (#3) and the plot seems to have shifted partially to some Big Idea SF. I’m not convinced the hybrid was 100% successful, but it’s keeping my interest.
    I don’t think I liked it as much as #2, probably because I didn’t like the new PoV characters in #3 quite as much.
    My theory with best series is to read until either I definitely don’t like it, or I’m fairly sure it’s not going to disturb my current top picks. The Expanse is clearly something I’m going to enjoy reading but it’s not jumping right to the head of the queue either, so I suspect I’ll leave it there for now, and perhaps try to fit another book in later depending on time and packet contents.

    ETA: waves at Tasha

  32. Andrew M: Well, I wasn’t asking people to tell me what it’s about, just if it’s about something. But, OK, gray goo. I know about that: it’s mentioned in the prologue. And it’s still about gray goo six books later? That’s – comforting, in a way.

    But one of the great parts of the series is that the gray goo also gets its own character development arc over the series of novels.

    Hi Tasha!

  33. The goo turns out to be very SF. And mind-boggling.

    LW is like a little one-set play (okay, two) but then they open the back of the set up and WHOOP there’s a whole world out there.

  34. @Cassy B: Glowing blue goo.

    @Mark: I quite liked the Methodist minister, but otherwise I agree that the POV characters in AG aren’t particularly engaging.

    Somehow, I don’t think the Pups would agree that that Methodist minister is a true person of faith.

  35. What? Just because I just came into two other recent threads and admitted accidentally unsubscribing to them in a fit of housecleaning, I can’t be here because I just like being here?
    Oh, and tickybox.

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