Sunday Roundup

The first in a series of varying regularity, wherein I point at things I’ve read on the internet. Some sci, some fi, some fantasy, some very random.

First up, the wonderfully titled ‘Middle-earth Cage Match: Bill the Pony vs. Shadowfax‘ over at Tor.com. The author has really put some work in to first articulate what in the heck the difference between a horse and a pony really is, anyway, and then who would win in a cross-discipline matchup between sturdy Bill and coiffed glamour boy Shadowfax.

Pound for pound, too, a pony can be stronger than a horse. Shetlands can carry a grown man with ease, though his feet may drag on the ground. Horses will lose weight-bearing capability as they get larger; a very large horse is challenged enough to carry his own weight around without also carrying a heavy rider. A really big horse is not what you want to carry your very heavy rider, especially if he’s in armor. You want a cob, a stocky, sturdily built animal in the mid rage between pony and horse—14.2 to 15.2 hands. The Welsh Cob is a great example, as is the Lipizzaner. Forlong the Fat, in my head, is riding a largeish Welsh Cob, and the Cob is rocking it.

Great stuff.

Also at Tor, a lovely retrospective on Gattaca, and why it ranks high in the sci-fi movie pantheon Worth a rewatch–it’s not on Netflix, unfortunately, but you can rent it HD from Amazon Video for a few dollars.

At io9, Tom Hiddlestone is surprised Loki hasn’t been offed yet. I’m not, given he’s the best character in the MCU in my humble opinion. As the author points out:

He manages to bring a dashing chaos to Loki, like James Bond doing a Joker impression.

(Time to dust off those Hiddlestone-replaces-Craig-as-Bond rumors, too.)

Oh my word. Adam at The Wertzone appears to have written at least a hundred thousands words ‘summarizing’ the history of Middle-earth in ten parts so far. Impressive, albeit intimidating. Warm up, stretch and hydrate before attempting.

Back in the MCU (kind of – MTU?), the trailer for the upcoming Punisher Netflix show dropped. And Frank… well, Frank is angry.

I’m very excited to see this, as John Bernthal is fantastic and his Frank Castle was the best part of a… let’s say uneven season two of Daredevil. I’ve a little catching up to do first though, as I’ve yet to finish Luke Cage (excellent), Iron Fist (slog) or even start The Defenders. Of the latter, I’ve heard good things, but apparently people aren’t watching it–perhaps more viewers than just me are struggling to keep up with all the other good TV on. (We’ve only just started Stranger Things and season two starts next month!)

Apparently there’s a TV adaption of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series in the works. The writers have decent resumes:

Writers David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman will be transforming the novels for the small screen. Goyer’s credits include Ghost Rider and Blade, while Friedman’s projects include the War of the worlds remake and Terminator: the Sarah Connor chronicles.

I’ve read all of the Foundation novels, and as well as being wonderful science fiction novels they’re all to an extent treatises on philosophy, psychology, sociology and politics. Whether that depth can be adequately transferred to a TV version is debatable–but I’m sure plenty of A Song of Ice and Fire fans were convinced that was unadaptable too.

Finally, in natural science news, ‘Sexual rivals can influence the size of a duck’s penis‘:

As study author Patricia Brennan, a visiting lecturer of biological sciences at the institution, told National Geographic earlier this week, she didn’t even realize until near the end of her graduate school work that birds could even have penises. In fact, 97% of them do not, she explained.

Male ducks are one of the exceptions, and unlike most species, they grow a new one each year. Most of the time, they are hidden, but you can convince a duck into showing you his by turning him over onto his back and applying pressure to his belly, Brennan noted. “If you know exactly where to press, you can pop the penis out. They’re quite cooperative.”

zlwzx

‘They grow a new one each year.’

Have a good week, folks.

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Scientists Thought They’d Proved Einstein Wrong, Hadn’t

Over at Gizmodo:

[Researchers] found instances where moving (but not stationary) atoms spitting out packets of light energy would bring into existence a tiny force that acted like friction, and published research on it earlier this year. A force that exists when an object is moving, but not when it is stationary, violates the core principles of Einstein’s (and Galileo’s) laws of relativity—there isn’t anything special about the laws of physics when something is moving at constant velocity versus when it’s at rest. So, had they accidentally spotted a tiny hole in the most well-accepted theories of physics?

Nah.

But the researchers thought, well, what if they redo all of the physics of this situation, but allow the mass of the atom to change, too?

This, it turns out, resolves the paradox—the moving atom loses a tiny amount of mass through the emission of energy, eliminating the requirement for a velocity-dependent frictional force. Essentially, they came across Einstein’s most famous equation, E=mc^2, demonstrating that energy and mass are proportional using the basic laws of physics.

Einstein: still the undisputed champ at all levels of mass or energy.

einstein_laughing

‘Nice try.’

Self-Publishing Master-free

Just a quick one, via industry guru David Gaughran:

Iain Rob Wright has done something pretty amazing. He has created a pretty damn comprehensive course on self-publishing and marketing – over 50 hours of HD Video – and he has made it all free. Not the first bit free. Not free for a limited time. Not free if you also buy this, or agreed to be assailed by that.

The course is called ‘Self-Publishing Mastery’, hence the VERY CLEVER PUN above. I’ve signed up, mostly hoping for a quick and easy refresher on the state of the industry since I was last paying close attention. Having watched the first few sessions, the quality is very good, and Iain delivers the content in a straightforward and easy-to-understand manner. Also it turns out that yes, Amazon is still very much in business.

Worth a look for any aspiring author considering taking the plunge into self-publishing. Or lapsed authors emerging from hibernation, blinking blearily in the sunlight and asking passers-by what year it is.

Read more at David’s blog, or jump straight in here.

Hello Stranger

Hello, stranger
(ooh) It seems so good to see you back again
How long has it been?
(ooh, seems like a mighty long time)
(shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby, ooh)
It seems like a mighty long time

Shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby, ooh, indeed. It has been a mighty long time since I was last here. But now I’m–

“Oh my god we thought you were dead!”

Oh, hi! Well, no, I was just–

“Deep undercover inside the Yakuza?”

Not quite–

“Trapped in a well?”

Very pre-Batman Bruce Wayne, but no–

“Frozen in carbonite in Jabba’s Palace?”

I don’t think carbonite’s real–

“Letting life get in the way of writing, what with moving across the country twice, and changing jobs twice, and travelling a lot, and spending your precious leisure hours watching endless HGTV shows or playing video games instead of writing?”

No, that’s–oh. Yes. That last one.

tenor

Back in (gulp) November 2014, when I last posted, Mrs. Dan and I were still living in Washington, D.C. In early 2015 we moved to Kansas City for her new job, where we spent a thoroughly enjoyable two and a half years, made some wonderful friends, and ate several farmyards’ worth of barbecue. (Amazing. Do your tastebuds a favour and visit.)

Just three weeks ago we relocated again to Boston where Mrs. Dan is starting a PhD. Fancy! I’ve changed roles at work a couple of times too, which has been good and fun and challenging… and nothing you have any reason to be interested in.

WHERE IS THE NEXT BOOK, DAN. GIVE US THE BOOK. YOU CAN’T WRITE TWO OF THEM AND THEN JUST STOP.

giphy

(That’s actual footage of one of my more intense readers, by the way.)

With sincere apologies for the hiatus, I’m here to let you know that I’m back. Back again. Dan is back. Tell a friend. I’ve reinstalled Scrivener, reread ASCENSION POINT and VENUS RISING to remind myself where we’ve got to, figuratively dusted off the two-thirds written work-in-progress – CAUSAL NEXUS, coming to a digital bookshelf near you in early 2018! – and I’m back at it.

I’ll also be posting here more regularly with my usual mixture of superhero movie waffle and self-publishing thoughts – the latter as I try to catch up with what’s been happening in the industry in the last three years. (Are Amazon still in business? I should check.)

See you soon!

Every Movie Is A Superhero Movie

I just don’t know any more. Even a casual reader of this blog, one as casual as I am a writer of it, will know that I GODDAMN LOVE SUPERHERO MOVIES. They’re literally the best, Batman. But…but…

Seriously, guys?

Credit: Comicsalliance.com

That’s just so many films. When DC announced their slate of movies in some shareholder meeting or a Forbes article or whatever it was, I said to myself: Cool, I look forward to Justice League and Shazam has The Rock, so that’s good, and also ugh Aquaman and Green Lantern.

However, I’ve always had a lot more love for the Lee/Kirby side of the fence, so when Marvel dropped the entire remaining Marvel Cinematic Universe release calendar I immediately memorised the order and what month and year they’re all due to come out. Because…because that’s important information.

But I look at that combined calendar above, with not just DCU and MCU movies but your X-Men and Fantastic Four titles from Fox and your increasingly terrible Spiderman franchise from Sony and I think: Am I really going to go to the cinema and watch TEN superhero movies in 2017? Even if one of them is Lego Batman? (Though Female Lead Spider-Man Spin-Off has always been one of my favourite comics.)

I suspect that come April 3rd 2020 we’ll all still be so full superhero-stuffed from ten months prior–having watched Avengers: Infinity War 2 AND Justice League 2 in the space of six weeks–that we’ll be at saturation point. “No thank you, Mr. Cyborg. I’m done. I couldn’t eat another bite. Even if it is wafer-thin. And if you think I’m watching another Green Lantern movie you’re more gullible than those people who thought Marvel would actually kill off Chris Hemsworth and replace him with a female Thor”.

Still, Age of Ultron looks badass. Definitely excited about that.

Nuclear Fusion in Ten Years, Say Lockheed Martin

A bold claim, as reported in io9. The company’s own website has more detail including a compelling timeline that has fusion powering small cities in fifteen years and providing inexpensive power to the developing world in twenty.

This is a development worth keeping an eye on, as io9 point out:

Harnessing fusion has been the Holy Grail of physics, a game-changing solution that could provide a virtually unlimited source of cheap energy.

LM also rolled out this cheery guy to explain what the heck nuclear fusion is in case anyone’s forgotten.

I’m disappointed that only the intro had a dramatic dubstep soundtrack, though.