Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thoughts on "The Great Wall"

I haven't gone to see a shameless monster flick in a while - and this looked like it would be a fun one.

It was - with even a little more depth of characterization than I was expecting. For those who haven't seen it, be warned: The Chinese dialogue is subtitled not dubbed. I know some people have issues with that. I personally prefer it. There was one oops where a bit of the English dialogue was subtitled, so I suspect they were also saving money by doing only one soundtrack for the domestic Chinese release and the international release.

(The movie was a partnership between a Chinese director and some people from Hollywood).


One very bad bit of horse action at the start. I talked about that on my horse blog.

Boobplates. Please, stop with the boobplates. And these didn't even look like they were actually where boobs are supposed to be, ya know.

I wasn't sure about the actual monster design from a feasibility/evolutionary standpoint.

Doors in the bottom of the Great Wall that open by moving blocks. No. Sorry, but no.

Good bits:

Tian Jing. I want to see so much more of her! Brilliantly talented, attractive...and I just IMDB'd her.

Seems I will be seeing more of her - she's in Pacific Rim: Uprising! Woot! I don't think it's a huge part, but...this lady deserves all the work she can get.

Lu Han - what a talented actor. Hard to believe he's actually a singer.

Amazing visuals and aesthetics.

Oh, and for those of you wondering how they got a fantasy movie past the Chinese censors and their current kick of "not promoting superstition." They didn't.

Believe it or not, "The Great Wall" is actually...science fiction.

Monday, February 27, 2017


So, it took 8 decades for scientists to finally make metallic hydrogen...

...and the only sample has now mysterious vanished.

They don't know whether it was misplaced from its safe, ultra cold storage, whether it spontaneously degraded, or whether it was stolen by a supervillain.

(I'm inventing the last, but I suppose theft is one explanation...)

Most likely, it wasn't long term stable and turned back into gas...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Redcaps are real?

Well, the Brazilian version anyway, which is not nearly as creepy as the bloodthirsty European gnomes who dye their caps in the blood of their enemies. This one only uses its cap to disappear.

They're called saci and they're now "real" - because some scientist has named a small, rather elusive opossom with a red head after them.

Check out the cute.

And read more here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Seven earths?

(As opposed to Neal Stephenson's Seveneves which, sorry Neal, I didn't like that much). The Trappist system is now up to seven "earth-like" planets - by which we mean rockballs about the same size as Earth, not necessarily habitable. Although several are in the habitable zone.

One has to wonder how different the development of a species would be if there were other habitable planets in the same system. Or better yet, inhabited...

How would we react to Mars if the canals had been real?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Upcoming Release

"Letting Go" will be released in audio form by Centropic Oracle on March 3 - they said they're very pleased with the recording. I can't wait to hear it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Farpoint Roundup

Awesome convention! (Except for the hot water issues, which the hotel was scrambling to fix, so I can forgive. Oh, and the fire alarm. What is it with me and fire alarms at conventions? At least it wasn't single digits when I had to go outside in a not-particularly-warm costume).

Highlights, let's see.

Kathleen David was in a rather, shall we say, difficult situation on the Doctor Who panel - I'd like to give her a shout out for being a good sport about it.

I only made it to one science panel, but it was a good one about microscopy and astrobiology.

Enver Gjokaj, you are absolutely hilarious and awesome.

Thanks to everyone who swung by my signing table and said hi, even if you didn't buy anything (At one point I was buried behind Keith DeCandido's bears...).

Oh, and some truly awesome costumes too.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Off To Farpoint

Leaving a bit later today - if anyone's there a day early, you'll probably be able to find me in the bar (where else) this evening.

I'll be back some time on Monday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Does God...

...play dice with the universe? You decide. Some people think this asteroid looks like a D20. I'm not so sure...


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Citizen Science Alert

The Carnegie Institute just released a database of 61,000 doppler measurements of 1,600 nearby stars. And there's an app to let you take a look at them - and possibly find your very own exoplanet.

If that sounds like fun go here to check it out.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Aggressive AIs?

So, today's breaking news - neural net AIs become more aggressive and start fighting each other if resources are too slim.

So, in other words, they act like, well, any other animal. And don't worry, if you tell them they have to cooperate to win the game they will.

Just like, well. Kids.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cosplaying Skiers?

Olympic athletes often rely on sponsors - and some deals put the entire of a team in, say, a particular brand of running shoes.

Spyder will be providing ski suits to the US team for the Winter Olympics. Nothing weird about that - they're a high performance brand.

Well, except that they're apparently dressing the US men as Captain America and the women as Captain Marvel...

This has to be the ultimate Jock/Nerd crossover.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pad 39A is active

The pad that sent us to the moon is now being readied for a SpaceX rocket test, which could be as soon as today. This will be a static fire test prior to a Feb 18 launch - the payload is supplies for the ISS.

(Please don't blow up...)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

RIP Richard Hatch

Confession: I liked both Battlestar Galacticas - the corny original and the much deeper and more philosophical remake. They were very different shows (The remake might have been better had it been an original show not a remake).

So, apparently, did Richard Hatch. The actor, who starred as Apollo alongside Dirk Benedict's Starbuck in the original came back for the 2003 remake as a very different character, Tom Zarek, a populist leader who was a constant thorn in the side of the government.

Hatch died yesterday at the age of 71 - he was also involved in the "fan made" Trek movie Axanar (which might not go forward after Paramount basically told them to file off the serial numbers - this is another blow to the project).

He will be missed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Amazon Earthworks

In more evidence that the Amazon rainforest is not, in fact, pristine wilderness, archaeologists have mapped over 450 ancient earthworks. These earthworks, which resemble ones found in Europe, appear to have been ritual sites - although as we all should know by now "ritual purposes" is often archaeology for "We have no clue." Most of these sites are under "mature" rainforest.

(Not saying we aren't screwing up the rainforest, but we're screwing up something delicately managed by indigenous people for centuries).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Two Billion Year Eruptions?

A meteorite from Mars indicates that it's possible a volcano on Mars - most likely Olympus Mons - erupted constantly for two billion years.

This apparently ridiculous fact is possible because Mars has little to no tectonic activity, meaning hotspots under the crust don't move. (Which is also why Olympus Mons is ridiculously huge but not very steep).

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale Series

It's going to be a Hulu original, but I'm hoping to get my hands on it at some point so I can compare it with both the book and the 1990 movie. The latter ruined the ending pretty badly - I'm hoping Hulu does a better job.

It's a hugely dystopian story...I'd call it a classic feminist dystopia (It's honestly the only Atwood book I've been able to read - her style is very literary and, as fair warning, if you get the book, it's told out of sequence/order).

The bad news about the new show: Somebody who worked on the movie is involved. Which does not give me much hope, sadly. The good news is that Atwood is consulting - and the book's complexity lends itself better to a series (10 episodes) than a movie.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Want to do...

...some archaeology?

The initial launch of GlobalXplorer covers Peru and allows citizen scientists to study random tiles of satellite photos (with no location information so it can't be used by treasure hunters) to find archaeological sites or spot looting. The reward is access to archaeological information about Peru. (They're going to expand to other areas as time goes on).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tentative Farpoint Schedule

As always with convention schedules, this is open to change

Friday 3pm - Chesapeake 1 - How Much Science Should A Science Fiction Author Know?
Friday 4pm - Atrium - Signing
Friday 7pm - Chesapeake 1 - Myths and Legends in Fantasy
Friday 10pm - Dulaney 1-2 - Farpoint Book Fair
Saturday Noon - Chesapeake 2 - Coming Into Our Own (Female leads in science fiction/fantasy media)
Saturday 1pm - Chesapeake 3-6 - Reading
Saturday 2pm - Chesapeake 2 - Bigger On The Inside (Doctor Who)
Saturday 4pm - Atrium - Signing
Saturday 9pm - Chesapeake 1 - It IS You: Beating Back Imposter Syndrome

I will have limited print copies of Transpecial, The Silent Years and Falling Dusk for sale during the book fair and signing sessions. I will be at the con on Sunday, it just so happens they didn't schedule me for anything that day.

Again, as always, schedule is subject to change.