• physics blackboard

    In Defense of Physics

    Every once in a while, when discussing the phenomena of movie nitpicking, someone brings up the argument that “how can you believe in the giant spiders, talking lions, and semi-magic telekinesis but not that who’s-his-face survived that explosion?” John Scalzi has written about this topic before (“The Flying Snowman” Part 1 and Part 2) landing on the side of “if you can accept these implausible things from the science fiction, why can’t you accept this implausible thing?” (even though he contradicts statements made here) But I was mostly instigated by this trending GIF from Conan’s Comic-Con interview with the cast of Game of Thrones. Also, Maisie Williams’s expressions are priceless…

  • nerdcon stories convention logo

    I’m Going to NerdCon: Stories

    This Friday, Hank Green announced NerdCon: Stories, a convention for storytellers of many mediums, would be coming to Minneapolis in October. This Saturday, I registered for it. I’ve been feeling that now is the time to go to a new convention. We all know Convergence didn’t work out, but I think that’s because it was an all-encompassing sci-fi crowd. Diverse interests with subject matter plus an established history means its something that needs to be enjoyed with friends. And young people have friends — friends who aren’t married or have kids, friends who can drop life for a weekend, friends with plenty of disposable income (and time). I’d been thinking…

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    The Books I Read: September – October 2014

    I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching #4) by Terry Pratchett The last of the Tiffany Aching books and an excellent ending to the series. Besides the first, I think this might be my favorite book of the four. Tiffany has finished her “apprenticeship” and is now the resident witch of her hometown. This means she’s taking care of the community the way true witches do — helping the sick who have no one to take care of them, easing the elderly to the next stage of life, fixing domestic disputes so no one knows she’s really doing it. She’s confronting anti-witches and land-grabbers and old fundamentalist ladies who simply don’t…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2014

    vN by Madeline Ashby In the first chapter, a five-year-old child robot eats her estranged grandmother, python-style, and goes from kindergartner to adult in an instant from the additional biomass. Good opening, and there are some interesting WTF circumstances (like robots were created to fill out the Earth after the rapture) but the rest stagnates. Once again, it’s a book where the robots don’t act like robots. They act like people. The only difference is they know they were artificially created. But other than that, they eat, they fall in love, they procreate. You can’t tell the difference. The interesting things are just background — they don’t come into play…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2013

    The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta Acosta I had high expectations for this book — a novel about a superheroine who usually doesn’t make it past the comic books. I was hoping that, since Jennifer Walters is a lawyer, the book would be about some courtroom drama, a la John Grisham, but with the added complication of superheroes. Despite it being The She-Hulk Diaries, She-Hulk is barely in it. It’s more about Jennifer Walters, her human form, and her “girl problems”. The crux of the story is Jennifer tooling around, talking to her friend, and trying to get a job. She spends way too much time obsessing over boyfriends — past,…

  • hugo movie poster

    The 2013 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

    BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words) • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it • Blackout by Mira Grant (Excerpt) Thumbs Up! • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Excerpt) Either way • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Excerpt) Thumbs Up! WINNER! • Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (Excerpt) Either way BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words) • “After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall” by Nancy Kress (Amazon Excerpt) Either way • “The Emperor’s Soul” by Brandon Sanderson (Excerpt) Either way WINNER! • “On a Red Station, Drifting” by Aliette de Bodard (Excerpt) Skip it • “San Diego 2014:…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2012

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline I was really looking forward to this one. I kept hearing all these tales about how it’s made for my generation and persona type, the geek who grew up in the 1980’s. It is not a grand epic book with grand themes. It is meant for a specific audience and never deviates from that. But if you are in that audience, you will love this book. Unfortunately for me, I found out I am juuuuust a bit outside that audience because I was born in 1981, and most of the nostalgia is too early for me. Video games are Atari and arcade cabinets, not…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2012

    Columbine by Dave Cullen I don’t know what you can say about a book like this. Columbine was the word poised on the lips of any high schooler. Everyone asked themselves if they were a potential victim. It got to the point where my sociology professors refused to read any papers about Columbine because they had read so many. Everyone spent the next 2-3 years asking why, how, and what can we do to prevent it from happening again. No one got any answers. And now it seems like everyone’s almost forgotten about the small-town tragedy. It’s especially important to me because it happened in my senior year of high…

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    A Video Gamer’s Take on Lowest Difficulty Setting

    I don’t think I need to introduce Scalzi’s “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting“. You know it, I know it, the American people know it. I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t been said. Jim C. Hines made a great post of backing facts. This person re-emphasized the point with “driving a smooth road and not even knowing it”. And Dr. Sheila Addison helpfully gives us things you can do about it. And it’s not like this is news. Remember that episode of The Simpsons, where Grampa is sitting at the kitchen table saying “It’s rotten being old, no one listens to you.” Lisa says “It’s awful being…

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    The Books I Read: March – April 2012

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot A non-fiction book that’s basically two different narratives. One is about a breed of cervical cancer cells sampled that are able to thrive in culture — which has been a tremendous boon to scientists. With a constant supply of unchanging cells, research has opened for developing commercial drugs, IVF, and vaccines. This part also brings up issues of medical ethics and who owns your cells. Because the other part is about Henrietta Lacks, the person from whom those cells were “donated”. Also her family, and the author’s journey to find out about her. Henrietta Lacks died shortly after her cells were…