Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More on Human-Neanderthal Hybridization

Just read two articles concerning Human-Neanderthal hybridization.

The first was in Discovery News about remains they've found in China with a mix of baseline human and neanderthal features.

The second more amusing article in Scientific American is about Ozzy Osbourne's genomes containing Neanderthal hints of DNA.

Monday, October 25, 2010

House of Suns

Can't read as much as I used to and my book queue is getting longer. I was going to start Consider Phlebas but someone checked it out the second it hit the shelf... Bastards!

I loved Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series so when my library got House of Suns, I jumped on it. I'm so glad I picked this up. What a fantastic read. It is one of my new favorites.
The characters are all interesting, likeable and real people (yeah, even the robots.) and the ideas and adventure are just massive, on insane timescales. I loved it and I want more.
I finished the first draft of my Man-Kzin story and I'm pretty proud of how it came out. What a fun universe to play in.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Just when I thought I was done with Larry Niven and his Known Space universe, I managed to track down his short story, Fly-by-Night, highlighting the planet Sheathclaws. whose scant mentions teased me while reading Ringworld's Children.

The Kzin tend to be pretty one dimensional, like the Klingons in Star Trek, but the titular character, Fly-by-Night, is totally rounded and interesting. A latent(?) Kzin telepath born and raised on a remote planet where humans and Kzin live in peace (and play video games and go hand gliding) have given him the best of both worlds. He's got all the temper and cultural quirks of a Kzintosh, but he cracks jokes and sips cappuccinos. My one gripe with this story is the poor handling of population genetics (which Niven treats well in the Ringworld series) I mean Sheathclaws was populated by one male Kzin and six females (the humans are out of the equation because they can't interbreed), seven individuals does not make a viable population! A few generations of inbreeding would give Fly-by-Night all sorts of health problems. Trust me, as a Floridian, I'm all too aware of what a tiny population can do to big cats! It would've been easier if instead of picking up a Jotoki slave on Fafnir, Fly-by-Night would've been trying to either pick up more females or adopt young Kzinti to boost the gene pool on Sheathclaws and then transport them aboard Odysseus frozen like Shaffer's family.

Anyway, far from sating my curiosity about Sheathclaws this story has made me want to read more about this damned boondocks planet! I found out this is sort of a sequel to Hal Colebatch's Telepath's Dance, which deals with Fly-by-Night's ancestor Shadow and the events that led to the founding of this odd world. So I'll probably track that down, but seriously Larry Niven and Hal Colebatch should get together and write a novel exploring this weird corner of Known Space a little further. It's much too cool to go to waste.


I finally got to read the superb Telepath's Dance and it has inspired me to write a Man-Kzin story of my own. Should be fun.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ringworld Series

Just finished Larry Niven's Ringworld series and I enjoyed most of it quite a lot. The two high points for me were Ringworld Engineers and Ringworld's Children (the latter being my favorite). I beleive both these books did the best job of forwarding the mythos while telling complete and interesting stories. The third book The Ringworld Throne was disappointing and the main characters are reduced to minor roles and the book becomes way too concerned with rishathra (inter-species sex). Over all, a fun read and I loved Niven's huge brilliant ideas. Also, even though he's not given any credit for 3D characters, I grew to love Louis Wu. He's the most un-action hero protagonist I've ever read. His passive role is almost zen-like and over the course of the series it makes you wonder if isn't him, and not Teela Brown, that's been bred for luck.

I have to also mention that as much as I like the Kzin (humanoid warrior tigers from space) the Perison's Puppeteers have to be the most original alien species I've come across in fiction.

I'm really glad I visited Nevin's classic Known Space Universe through the Ringworld series and although I probably won't track down and read every book and short story set in this vast and complex universe... I've been left intrigued by mentions of the planet Sheathclaws, a colony of human and Kinti telepaths. So if I find a novel or short story showcasing this world I'll definitely pick it up.