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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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.

My Books Now on Scribd. Netflix for Ebooks, They Say

Scribd. Never heard of it? Nor had I until a few days ago. For $8.99 per month you get allegedly unlimited access to allegedly over 400,000 books–which sounds like a heck of a bargain if you read even just a few books a month. You can also buy books outright, if you want to keep them.

Anyway. Thanks to the fabulous folks at Draft2Digital–the distributors through which my books reach iTunes and Barnes and Noble–both Ascension Point and Venus Rising are live on the site. Payment terms are pretty reasonable: the author gets paid for any sale as you’d expect, but also for any subscription read where the reader got past the 30% mark. Which is pretty neat. They even count ten 10-30% reads as one sale too, which is a little bonus.

Plus, the Scribd site is SWANK.

scribd

Just look at that. Mmm. Shiny.

I’ve added Scribd to the store links for both books in the bar on the left, so head on over and check it out.

Anyone Watching Arrow? You Should Be Watching Arrow

Ah, The CW. Bizarrely-named TV network, home of Dan and Mrs. Dan’s cheesy favourites The Vampire Diaries and its Bayou-based spinoff The Originals. Mrs. Dan also watches Reign, the Mary Queen of Scots historical soap where apparently everyone’s speaking French but it’s in English and it’s set in Scotland but who cares they have nice outfits.

I’ve got off topic.

The CW. Right. Where every commercial break is home to at least one trailer for another show on the network, from the excruciatingly titled The Tomorrow People to ‘how is this show still going’ Supernatural. And, of course, Arrow, based on the somewhat famous DC comics character, Green Arrow.

This guy.

Based on the clips I’d seen, it looked pretty mediocre. Probably kind of fun and fairly entertaining, but hey – there’s a lot of TV to watch and only so much time. But then I started coming across extremely positive reviews of episodes in the current (or rather, just finished) season two, and it seemed like it was time to give it a shot.

So I slowly worked my way through season one, and it was indeed kind of fun, quite uneven, some good episodes, some pretty bad, but still solid TV. Enough to make me want to stick with it for season two.

Which I just watched in a week.

Holy crap did it get good. I don’t know what changed behind the scenes, or if it was just a case of the writers hitting their stride, but season two starts strong and only gets better. The second half of the season is probably the most consistently excellent TV I’ve seen from a show that isn’t one of the critics’ darlings (Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Americans). Well paced, exciting, funny, believable characterisation, explosions, people in masks beating the crap out of each other–what more could you want?

Ridiculously buff shirtless guys working out, you say?

Yup.