Mighty one, we have lost us another

2018 is turning out to be a bad year for writers. Author of wuxia (Chinese martial arts stories) novels Jin Yong / Louis Cha has passed on at the age of 94 after a long period of declining health.

He was one of the best-selling Chinese authors, with more than 300 million copies of his works sold worldwide.

He wrote a lot of books, and many of them were adapted to the screen. My personal favorite (and gateway drug) was the 1982 Shaw Brothers’ movie Sword Stained With Royal Blood. 

Everybody else in the room dies within ten minutes of kung-fu action.
Guess which one is female. No, go on, guess. You’re 100% guaranteed to do better than our hero.

Cha’s works were largely set in the world of the jianghu, a pugilistic society where martial arts exponents travel China trading blows, teaching skills and upholding a strict code of honour.

My understanding of the genre is limited, but he seems to have been the Wuxia equivalent of Louis L’Amour–someone who produced vast amounts of stories set in a specific and nostalgically recognizable era, and who was instrumental in defining the genre to later authors and readers.



Let none of the rites be spared. One of the highest has fallen this day.

Snuck is also acceptable

Curiosity, always high, was nearly at the breaking point a month before the wedding. No more information about the bride to be had been discovered except a tendency to moonlit walks, usually performed without the benefit of guards, lanterns, companions, or shoes. (Something of an uproar had occurred when the first absence was discovered; the household guards had been reamed and then replaced, and the guardposts thoroughly examined and reinforced. If asked, the Steward was prepared to maintain his duty to defend the household. Maivor had overriden the changes without giving him the chance, and the midnight wanderings continued. The servants watched from a distance and the Steward held his tongue.) She had once stolen into Maivor’s rooms in the dead of night; somewhat disappointingly, he had sneaked her back less than an hour later.


A new Dresden Files TV show has been (after several weeks of evasion and handwaving) confirmed by the Butcher himself.

In a competitive situation, Fox21 Television Studios has optioned the rights to The Dresden Files, the long-running New York Times bestselling series of contemporary fantasy novels written by Jim Butcher for series development.

Ileen Maisel, who is under a first-look deal with Fox 21, is producing the project with Temple Hill Entertainment.  John Fischer and Julie Waters are overseeing the project for Temple Hill.

I’m sure that would mean something if I watched television.

So. Hm. I don’t think it’s going to turn out all that great. I really don’t; but on the other hand, this isn’t making me automatically howl with pain and seething rage. Jim Butcher is still alive (unlike Zelazny and the rumored Chronicles of Amber adaptation) and has considerable more pull now than he did as a little-known author whose books were just taking off. Furthermore, after the success of Game of Thrones, producers are going to be more willing to trust audiences’ intelligence and patience for long-running book series with dense plots and complex characters.

Who knows? It might, at the worst, produce some more readers for the series.

But I seriously doubt it’ll do the books justice. I mean:

Not to mention:

In the meanwhile, you might consider checking out my casting suggestions…

Alert Alert Alert

File under: WAY COOL STUFF.

An expanded first draft to John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? has been discovered and the Kickstarter is still up for another month! I am only slightly disconcerted by the attachment of John Gregory Betancourt’s name to the project (the guy from those awful, awful, awful Dawn of Amber prequels.)

If you are a science fiction illiterate who does not know who John W. Campbell is, or have never watched the hit 1950s scifi movie The Thing From Another World, or have never watched the cult 1980s scifi movie The Thing, or are especially illiterate and have watched the 2011 audiovisual performance recording The Thing: he was one of the guys who codified science fiction as we know it. Campbell was primarily an editor, but Who Goes There? is the most-memorable sample of his writing.

It’s a novella; short version, a group of Arctic (which became Antarctic in the later films) researchers find a flying saucer and an alien frozen in the ice. But the alien isn’t dead… it’s angry.

The novella is best enjoyed (or at least I originally did) when read by candlelight, during an ice storm that has knocked out the power to one’s house for the past two days, while the menfolk and dogs are out of the house.

The 1950s movie, which while remaining faithful to the Arctic location, added women and comic relief, downplaying the horror in favor of a 50’s-era pulp scifi tone. It’s a good little movie with a square-jawed hero, a really spectacular inferno scene, and some great line delveries (“Watch the skies. Keep on watching the skies!”). The 1980s version has Kurt Russell, existential horror, tight plotting, excellent special effects, a really, really good dog actor, and bucketloads of gore. It’s a great movie, and a good adaptation, but requires a strong stomach.

Anyhow. So, yes. Way cool news.

Profiling snippet

The voices that came through the door were the slightly raised yet relaxed tones of a chronic wrangle which had just found a new source of entertaining dispute. Kaymer was saying, “–is completely useless, anyway.”
“The Unibomber case was able to compile a highly accurate profile, which they used.”
“–Which they didn’t use. The Unibomber was identified by his own family members.”
Valentine maintained, “The profile was still accurate.”
“But not useful.” Kaymer smirked.
“…You think you’re smart, don’t you.”
“I think I’m very smart. But you know, I’ll retract my statement, because I’ve just thought of a better one. Wanna hear it?”
“I can hardly wait.”
“Heh, okay, it’s: profiling is accurate, when ‘human being’ is one of your main categories.”

The Smoking Gnu

Wildebeest biologists make new discoveries about muscle efficiency.

On average, Curtin found that the muscles converted 63 percent of their energy into work—i.e., physical movement. For comparison, the equivalent figures are 42 percent for cows, 34 percent for mice, and 27 percent for rabbits. Higher efficiencies have only ever been recorded from tortoises—animals that are synonymous with slow and steady walking.

Horses, if I remember my exercise physiology section correctly, have something like 20-25% efficiency. The rest goes into heat production, for which they compensate by sweating. Horses sweat more than almost any other animal except humans–which makes them able to travel longer distances than most animals–but, this would be a problem for the gnu:

The wildebeests could stay away from water for up to five days.
Very cool.