3 min read

Wolmania - Friday, August 27, 2021

Hello, gentle reader. How are you? I'm doing pretty well, considering.

Been reading a bunch of old Thor comic books lately - he has some very retrograde ideas about how to treat women and leans a bit on the crutch of smashing people in the face with a giant hammer, but you have to admire his self-confidence. I do think maybe he should take a break from all the mead but you know what, everyone has their problems and who am I to judge?

Let's move on to the #content.

Welcome to Nestflix

Welcome to Nestflix

A platform for fictional films and shows within other films and shows. More information about this fun art project may be found here.

Item 2: a list

Some fun games, and also Letter Boxed

New York Times "More Games", ranked and annotated:

  1. Spelling Bee (undisputed champ)
  2. Vertex (soothing but the interface is fiddly)
  3. Sudoku (classic)
  4. Tiles (looks nice but is way too easy)
  5. Letter Boxed (not fun)

Item 3: a media recommendation

Some good hard sci-fi books, unranked

A friend of mine (hi Susan!) recently asked for "hard sci-fi" book recommendations. “Hard” sci-fi is basically sci-fi that doesn’t lean too heavily on technology that is essentially magic.* It tends to be very expository and feature detailed descriptions of how technology works (it’s also not unusual to find elaborate explanations of quantum physics or wormholes or whatever).

Here’s a list of hard sci-fi books that I have read and enjoyed:

  • The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (what if a galactic humanoid/machine symbiotic society?)
  • The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (what if we made contact with aliens?)
  • Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (what if jellyfish-like Medusae attacked Binti's spaceship?) (this is not hard sci-fi at all but it’s really good)
  • House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (what if… I dunno how to explain this one. There are “shatterlings” in it, that will either make you want to read it or run away screaming)
  • The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (what if Sherlock Holmes in space, and it’s not really hard sci-fi?)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (what if a pandemic?) (maybe not a great one to read right now)
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (what if the moon exploded?!?)
  • Children of Time by Adrien Tchaikovsky (what if really smart octopuses?)
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (what if someone spent a lot of time coming up with a plausible approach to interstellar voyaging without faster-than-light travel)
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts (what if really smart computer brains, but also vampires?)
  • The Martian by Andy Weir (what if a guy got stranded on Mars and had a pretty annoying, somewhat misogynist, inner monologue?)

Bonus rec: Cryptonomicon (also by Neal Stephenson) is basically historical hard sci-fi, with the bulk of the action taking place during WWII, focused on the Allies’ code-breaking efforts.

* I haven’t bothered to look up the actual definition of "hard sci-fi", so my summary might be off, but this is how I think about it. I’m also sure that it’s a real no true Scotsman situation where whatever you call hard sci-fi, some nerd will pop up to explain to you how it’s not really hard sci-fi. Whatever. These are some good books that I liked, is the real point.

Item 4: a photograph

Mount Merapi - by Gunarto Song

Per My Modern Met, this is a long exposure of a shooting star appearing to fall into Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia (it likely landed or disintegrated in midair miles behind the volcano). The photographer has an extremely suspicious number of incredible photos on his Instagram page.

Thanks for reading! Please try not to plummet into an active volcano before next Friday.