AI: Bug Naked (the book)

AI: Bug Naked (the book)

Over at the Bug Blog, I occasionally review books. Thought I would share this one as an AI about willing suspension of disbelief in fiction.

Book Title:  Bug, Naked (Author: Jackson Williams)

Basic plot: Mad scientist wants to alter humans to insect size to save the planet. He trolls singles bars to find the right experimental subject. They have sex and then he shrinks her to 4 inches tall via “genetic engineering”. Mini-bimbo falls out a window, so mad scientist sends a dragonfly to “sting” her and give her the next sequence of gene alterations so she can grow wings and develop some very strange groin issues.  Bug-girl meets 17yr old boy. They have a lot of really improbable sex.

Because most of the rest of this is NSFW, I will hide my review of the book below the fold. But you know you want to look.

The book has this cover blurb:

“Paula Sterlington has an average life and an average job that she enjoys until one night in a bar she meets a handsome, dark-haired mystery man who sweeps her off her feet and takes her back to his place. The next thing…….she is buck-naked, only four inches tall, homeless, and begins sprouting bug parts, like dragonfly wings, spider-web shooters and an appendage that spits acid out her ass. All this is enough to freak a girl seriously out.

Then she meets her savior in the person of Michael Henderson, a tall science geek who is only seventeen years old, but who understands her better than any man her own age.”

I am a curious person. And I had to know–what the heck is this all about?  So…I plonked down my $2.99 in the Kindle shop.   And oh my, what a massive collection of WTFery this book is.

Interestingly, every review of this book has given it 5 stars, on Amazon and elsewhere. I found it to be not very titillating. Or Sexy. And the reason for this was two-fold. First, one of the main characters is not an adult, and the book reads like the fantasy of a boy that is wayyyy too into sexual imaginings about Tinkerbell for his own mental health. The purpose of erotica is to be fantasy, though, so while it’s not my thing, I’m sure it works for other folks, and that’s ok.

The second problem I had with the book was that I could not muster up any willing suspension of disbelief, because I was too often pulled out of the story by bad science and bad physics.  And yeah, the acid-spewing butt, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

I get distracted from enjoying fiction when there is a glaring biological error.  If this story took place whilst jetting about in robocars in a sci-fi future setting, I could maybe buy it. But a contemporary story of clandestine genetic engineering out of your downtown condo is just not gonna work.

Here’s how the “science” of the change in size is described:

“There was a divergence in the red-shift spectrum, exactly the one he had found was necessary for his continued experimentation; the experimentation that included altering her DNA sequencing so it was able to merge into different genetic chains besides human, more specifically for her, insect genetics….

 Manipulating the human metabolism along with skeletal refractory so it was able to compact upon itself and cause a person to effectively shrink in size. Genius!”

Ok. So, let’s assume that this collection of completely random science gibberish describes a way you could, theoretically, induce a change in size and genetics like this.  (Hint: It doesn’t.  If it was that easy to change your genes, I would look like Xena, Warrior Princess.)   Where did all the mass that previously made up our heroine go?  There should be about 100lbs of girly goop on the mad scientist’s floor after this transformation–matter is conserved.

There are also lots of differences between the exoskeletons of arthropod physiology and human internal endoskeletons. What were those wings made out of? Chitin? Which….humans don’t have enzymes to produce?  And how did the wings interact with her mini-skeleton and musculature?

You can see here why I tend to harsh everyone’s mellow when discussing science fiction.  But I’m fun at parties! Really!
Ahem. Anyway.
Another issue is that the main female character is… Well. Here:

“She recalled while in her Organic Chemistry class that there had been things about DNA and genetics and molecules and so many strange and exotic things”

Yeah.  Brainbox a bit rattly, there.

It also turns out that she can glow like a firefly, when she’s angry she grows an appendage out her butt crack that sprays acid, and can shoot out spider webbing (!?) from her vagina.  Granted, a spiderweb-shooting vulva would have made the Spiderman franchise FAR more interesting, but it seems more of a bug than a feature to me.

In fact, poor Paula’s hooha seems to be some sort of multi-talented inter-dimensional portal, since even though she is 4 inches tall, she can still accomodate a 17 yr-old boy’s penis.  And she describes that to us in great detail, which I found alternately LOL- and squick-worthy.  I mean, deciding to let someone come inside you when the physics and size difference should pretty much pop you like a balloon. Yuck.
Fortunately, Paula’s interdimensional pussy portal again saves the day, and there is a happy ending to the “happy ending”, rather than a horrible anticlimax.

So, for me, it was very much NOT a sexy story.
YMMV: Your mileage may vary.

How about you? Do you get sidetracked by errors of biology or physics in your fiction? Why or why not?

Avatar of bug_girl
Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

56 Comments

  1. Avatar of dino

    Amazon is legendary for their inflated reviews, as well as paid reviews, and their “grammar bot” that fixes bad English. I notice the truly stellar ones are always the first seen. Live and learn; I pretty much never read them.

  2. Avatar of spurge

    “She recalled while in her Organic Chemistry class that there had been things about DNA and genetics and molecules and so many strange and exotic things”

    You don’t study DNA or genetics in Organic Chemistry class.

    I can get side tracked by bad science when an author states things that are patently not true that serve no purpose in the story.

    You have to get your facts straight when you can if you want to twist science to serve the story.

    • Avatar of Buzz Parsec

      Also, I don’t think many people take Organic Chemistry who have only a vague idea of what DNA is before they start the class. Didn’t she ever read a Scientific American article on the subject? (BTW, didn’t the author?) But even if she didn’t have to know about DNA and genes to pass O. Chem, I’m pretty sure they covered molecules and a few other strange and exotic things.

      But there are unstated major premises here: that she passed Organic Chemistry, or at least stayed past the 1st half of the 1st lecture, and that she took and passed the prerequisite P. Chem course, or passed an AP high school Chem class.

      Maybe she did know all this sciency stuff once, but lost so many neurons when her brain shrank that it was all gone. Bug, was she thinking this before or after the /shrinkage?

      • Avatar of bug_girl

        The whole story is post-shrinkage for the girl.

        And the boy, for what it’s worth, is described as well hung, which makes it a good thing she has a magic vagina.

  3. Avatar of weatherwax

    I might be able to look past a few things, right up until it turns into a teen sex fantasy.

    Would you have had a more positive reaction if the science had been described a little more plausibly.

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      I was really put off by the teenager as sexual savior thing.

      I think you could actually write a really FUN book using an interdimensional pussy portal. This was not that book.

      • Avatar of missiletowe

        For a short story of an interdimensional portal with a tiny woman constructed around it, try to find Piers Anthony’s story, The Bridge. He makes it work pretty well. Also, the sex between the narrator and his mini-girl partner has no acid or webbing involved.

  4. Avatar of Buzz Parsec

    I don’t get why everyone is dissing this potentially prize-winning novel. Maybe the boy was hanging* with a 4″ insect (shouldn’t it be 10cm in proper Scifi?) was that he was, ahem, really, really small?

    I abhor gratuitous scientific nonsense in both science and mainstream fiction, unless it is for deliberate comic effect and is actually funny. E.G. Discworld. It makes it unreadable, and I want to do stabby things to the author.

    [*] Okay, I’ll stop now.

  5. Avatar of Brian G

    Before I read the rest of the article, I need to know; Is that the actual cover of the book? That can’t be real, can it? My… my eyes…

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      Yes. It is the actual cover.

      • Avatar of Brian G

        Woooooow… I am simultaneously amazed and saddened. I thought it might have been a silly Photoshop mashup made from the description of the book.

        As for the question: Yes I tend to get pulled out of a story by bad science. My wife just loves it when we watch a movie and I have to pause it and say something like “Wait a sec. Why did they have to… ?”.
        And by ‘loves’ I mean ‘punches me in the face’.
        But seriously, most mistakes can pull me out of a story. I remember years ago watching ’200 Cigarettes’ (first mistake) which takes place in 1981, but was made in 1999. It was so jarring to see modern cars ALL over the place in that movie.

        • Avatar of rlquinn1980

          Go to any sci-fi/fantasy writers convention, Brian G, and you will see many, many more covers like this. Small press sells best at these venues, and it allows many authors whose works stray from the conventional (and are therefore hard to market in the mainstream) to publish, publicize, and start earning royalty (if that particular publisher provides it).

          Unfortunately, as they are small presses (and even medium ones are minuscule next to bigwigs like Tor), they don’t readily have fantastic artists on hand at for every publication. In this case, it’s not the art that needs work nearly as much as the text and layout. The text on the front completely drowns the image, not to mention that no typesetter or cover designer worth her salt would use . . . *shudder* . . . Papyrus. I apologize for the digression. I’ve done layout and typesetting for a couple of books, and seeing it done so poorly makes me twitch.

          Knowledge of science pulls you out of the book? Knowledge of design won’t let me in!

  6. Avatar of ZenPoseur

    As bad as the science is, I’m more offended by that tedious, choppy prose. How in the hell can crap like this get good reviews when I can’t even get published?

    Oh yeah, the freaky sex thing.

    Stupid humans.

    • Avatar of ponderingturtle

      It was likely self published as it is easy to self publish ebooks. So while this opens up new markets for authors it also means you can find crap that would never have been on amazon but instead on various online erotica sites until recently.

  7. Avatar of pieterb

    Yes, bad science pops me right out of disbelief, especially science as bad as you quoted.

    And when it comes to sex with arthropod Paula, all I can think of is an insult from my youth, “NDBF” – Needle-Dick the Bug-Fucker.

  8. Avatar of Laika

    Bad science, tasteless art, and horrific writing. You’ve hit the crappy literature trifecta! Wouldn’t even make good toilet paper.

  9. Avatar of pzmyers

    I think you could actually write a really FUN book using an interdimensional pussy portal.

    This is your challenge. Write that book. I’d buy it!

    Although…have you read Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes? It’s got ‘em. And a few other things. But nothing about insect-sized women.

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      The reviews on house of holes have been so mixed, I figured I’d wait to pick up a used copy cheap.

      Although….maybe I don’t WANT a *used* copy. Hmm.

  10. Avatar of Laika

    But to answer you question, I am willing to let the science bend a little for a good story or good characters in pop science fiction. It’s part of the fun for my husband and me to pick out the inconsistencies For instance, we recently watched Jurassic Park again. Of course there were tons of scientific stretches and outright mistakes, but we ate popcorn and drank wine and had a blast!

  11. Avatar of utakata

    Sounds like the author is MRA type who read too much into Midori Days. :(

  12. Avatar of Alfarr Hotei

    I do tend to get sidetracked a bit sometimes. But it depends on how blatant it is and what it is used for.

    I.e., if a bit of techno-babble is used to explain the abilities, rules and restrictions of a fictional technology, then I don’t mind if the science sounds a bit iffy. The main point is that the author is actually explaining some of the rules that the story has to follow. I’m not a physicist, so if you tell me your technology works “because of quantum”, I’m quite happy to accept that, so long as you don’t seem to violate physics too blatantly.

    But if the author uses it to pull a problem resolution out of their ass, I get annoyed.

    It’s one of the reasons I don’t watch much Sci-Fi on television. I know they’re constrained by budgets and convenience. And they rarely if ever have the time, space or inclination to explain and keep the rules of their universe consistent. And this is exacerbated by the fact that there are often different writers on different episodes.

    So I get most of my Sci-Fi fix through novels. The good authors do not trivialize the issues and implications of the fictional science and technologies they come up with. And there tends to be some clearly defined rules for how they work.

    Unfortunately, though I am not a physicist, I _am_ a computer scientist. So I get annoyed a bit easier on certain other subjects:
    - “No! For the umpteenth time, there is not, and there will never be such thing as ‘military’- or ‘high’-grade cracking software that will crack the security of most computer systems.”
    - “And no! I don’t care if you have a planet-sized computer with 24th century technology. You are still going to have an inordinately difficult time brute-forcing yourself into any decently secure encryption of the time. Especially if the existence of your computer is known.”
    I’d actually love to hear suggestions for good Sci-Fi novels with a little more respect for computer science than I usually see :)

  13. Avatar of Natalie

    Yeah, suspension of disbelief is a tricky thing. It can sometimes ruin an otherwise fun story. But it varies from genre to genre like crazy, and that’s mostly an issue of reader expectations. If your story is explicitly set in an outer space future, you’re going to be a lot more forgiving about teleporters and holodecks than if it were a nostalgic coming of age tale set in 1986 Worcestershire.

    The average reader of something like this has pretty much only one expectation, and that is to have their particular weird, kinky, totally impossible sexual fantasy consummated in prose. Everything else is just a set-up. So, while I’m sure most of those people giving the five star reviews know that genetic engineering and physics don’t work like that, they were too turned on to care.

    I mean, a nice, much less squicky WTF-ish version is good old fashioned Hollywood sex. No clumsiness. No “ow! you’re on my hair!”. No “do you have a condom?” or “are you on birth control?”. No having to fumble around for a minute to actually get things to fit where you want them. No having to use your hands or guide one another. No weird faces. No laughing. Clothes are incredibly easy to remove. And of course: ABSOLUTELY NO TALKING. Or agreeing on what to do. Or setting boundaries. Or explicit consent. Or telling each other what you want. Or anything.

    But we let all that slide. It’s a movie! Let’s get to the sexy! We expect things to be nice and simple so we accept those breaks from reality.

    And when all the “science” in your book is essentially just part of the (supposed) sexy-times, the readers don’t really have very high expectations that it be truly realistic. In fact, they’d probably be frustrated if their weird tiny insect girl miniaturization transformation fetishy fantasy were interrupted by a bunch of technical exposition on how the magical physics defying vagina actually works.

  14. Avatar of whitechalk

    As disturbing as the bad science is, I as well am even more bothered by the awful prose. I’ve read Twilight fanfiction that was better… The bad sentence structure, the way he spends two pages describing her climbing a wall, his obsession with her breasts that he has to mention at least once every two pages… I could go on.

    There is, however, an easy answer to the question “who the fuck published this?” As far as I can see he’s published it himself, and I don’t think there is a printed edition.

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      I really wanted to add an aside to the author suggesting that his prose needed 30% more periods and 30% fewer commas. Oy, some sentences in that novel that would be worthy of academia!

  15. Avatar of Tortorific

    I am a physicist, my speciality is radioactive materials and I enjoy comic books. You get desensitised after a while. Maybe you just need to read more insect porn?

  16. Avatar of weatherwax

    I have enjoyed some sci fi where I didn’t understand the science, like Delanys ‘Stars in my pocket like grains of sand.’ But I think the science was more over my head than bad.

    And ‘Dhalgren’, where there was alot I didn’t understand.

  17. Avatar of winterwind

    Jurassic Park is one of my favourite movies. I first watched it when I was six years old and I was really looking forward to seeing the dinosaurs. The first real shot of a dinosaur was that of a brachiosaurid grazing majestically on a tree. My little heart almost exploded with excitement – until the dinosaur reared up on its hind legs.

    Me: WHAT???

    Mum: What’s wrong?

    Me: Brachiosaurs didn’t stand on their hind legs. Their front legs were longer than their hind ones! I can’t watch this movie now, my suspension of disbelief is ruined.

    Mum: Well, why don’t you write to Steven Spielberg and tell him he got it wrong?

    I managed to watch the rest of the movie and I’m glad I did, because I loved the T-rex and the Velociraptors. But I never forgot how my six-year-old self was shattered by the inaccurate portrayal of the Brachiosaurus.

    And that Bug book sounds… just gross. Even if the science wasn’t flawed, it sounds like the product of a disturbed mind.

  18. Avatar of Rei Malebario

    As awful as it sounds, I now want to read that book if it isn’t too long! But then, I also enjoyed the hell out of the movie Battlefield Earth (I haven’t read the book).

    I’m also shocked, shocked, to hear you heavily imply that you don’t look like Xena, Warrior Princess! There goes my mental image.

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      The teal blue thing tends to put a lot of potential suitors off. And, you know, the extra legs.

      • Avatar of Rei Malebario

        People can be so shallow.

        I think I’ll get the book for my iPad when I get home. I bet it’s actually brilliant if you’re not reading it from the pov of a professional entomologist! :~P

  19. Avatar of Bjornar

    That sounds like it would break my suspension of disbelief. Better to leave explanations out completely than to make them nonsense.

    And yes, wrong science, or even ordinary wrong gives me problems. Like when Kim Harrison persist in refering to her heroine witch in ferret form as a rodent in one book. Each instance made me groan. So it’s a magical world with different rules than ours, but ferrets are still not rodents!

  20. Avatar of arkady

    I get annoyed when people try to manipulate known science to make their story work, and fail.

    In fact, even when people have got a good, workable scientific explanation for what’s going on, I still get annoyed because I want the writer to get on with the plot. Yes, writer, you’re very clever coming up with that but I bought a fiction book, not a textbook. Stick it in a footnote or an appendix, or something.

    I think the best attitude a sci-fi author can take – especially those without a science degree – is invent a phenomenon completely unknown to science, use it to explain all the technobabble bits of your story (or better yet, don’t, let the engineers reading the book figure it out and actually invent the thing later making you look like a genius because everyone will think you invented it) and then give it the properties you need to tell your story. Great example of this is Douglas Adams’ “Infinite Improbability Drive”.

  21. Avatar of BeardofPants

    I am perfectly willing to suspend disbelief (otherwise why watch eureka?), but it HAS to be a compelling story. Shit science AND shit story just doesn’t work for me. I can overlook a LOT if the story is compelling. Horny 17 yo male sex fetishes doesn’t sound like it for me. Besides, vagina web twanging? Ergh.

    • Avatar of schleprock

      Thanks for mentioning ‘Eureka’! My wife & I love that show! It’s also a perfect illustration of how my willingness to suspend disbelief has evolved over the past (ahem!)decades. I used to be quite pedantic when it came to science (particularly physics) in TV shows/movies (“Wait! Explosions don’t go boom in a vacuum! And those are supposed to be laser beams?! They’re moving awfully slowly; I can see discrete laser bolts tracking across the screen – plus they’re in space; what are the photons scattering off of to reach my eyes?!”). Yes, I was great fun at parties.
      My low point was watching an episode of ST:TNG (with friends) in which Geordi was trapped somewhere on a planet (with a Romulan IIRC, sort of an “Enemy Mine” deal), so they beamed a “stationary neutrino source” to the surface, knowing Geordi would see the neutrinos with his visor(!). You even got to see the beam of neutrinos from Geordi’s point of view, scattering off of the atmosphere (!!!) at 90 deg. into Geordi’s visor! For a physics grad student (at the time) that was an epic physics fail, and I couldn’t my mouth shut about it.
      But now that I’m much older (if not wiser)I can throroughly enjoy a show like “Eureka” that routinely incorporates howlers at least as unlikely as the Geordi neutrino visor incident (not to mention the overarching unlikelihood that the “DoD” would continue to fund a company that threatens to destroy the entire town, if not the world, on a weekly basis). I can suspend my disbelief because it’s entertaining, engaging, well written (if not from a science standpoint) and well acted; so to pick at the scientific inaccuracies would be quite beside the point.

  22. Avatar of Reverend Kel

    “Bug Naked (The Book)” is the cruelest bait-and-switch subject for an AI ever. I thought you were PUBLISHING a book.
    I have, for no known reason, a peeve about people being unable to comprehend how the phases of the moon work. Can’t even tell you how many times I’ve yelled out loud when an author will describe the full moon rising at midnight.

  23. Avatar of Rei Malebario

    “By then she had orgasmed more times in that one night than she could remember orgasming in the best previous several months of her life, which had ben with a professor she had taken Organic Chemistry from in her third year of college.”

    Rolls right off the tongue!

    • Avatar of Natalie

      “orgasmed”?! Really?!

      You know what? I’m sorry, but I no longer have sympathy for all you sciencey folks being upset by the bad science. As an English major, I doubt all the poorly-researched sci-fi in the world could cause you as much pain as that sentence just caused me. ;)

      • Avatar of bug_girl

        As a scientist that loves words, believe me, it was painful on MANY levels.

  24. Avatar of species8472

    “There should be about 100lbs of girly goop on the mad scientist’s floor after this transformation–matter is conserved.”

    Well, matter isn’t necessarily conserved, but converting 45 kilograms of matter into energy would leave a somewhat gaping hole in place of whatever city they were in. A 1000 megaton detonation.

    … but yeah, minor details.

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      A huge explosion would have greatly improved the book.

      So, if the flesh was just carved off and not converted to energy, that *would* leave a big blob of goop behind?
      Or am I off on that too? :)

      • Avatar of Reverend Kel

        Ray Palmer (The Atom) used to shrink to 6 inches tall, or even sub-atomic size, without leaving behind piles of stuff that even the Scottish wouldn’t eat. Something about a piece of white dwarf star that he had in his belt buckle (really!) He was even able to adjust his weight so he could weigh 180 lbs. long enough to hit someone with more than the force of a TickleMeElmo doll. It’s Science! Or a reasonable facsimile. In the real world, though, you would think that all that mass has to go *somewhere.* Maybe *that’s* what’s shooting out of her ass.

      • Avatar of mrmisconception

        Well that would depend, perhaps there is a way that the space between the molecules in her body could be reduced therefore shrinking her down, this explanation would create an extremely dense young woman…
        Wait, I may be on to something.

      • Avatar of species8472

        No, you’re right, there would have to be a big blob of goo on the floor. The only other way I can think of is increase gravity to a point where ordinary atoms “collapse” into neutrons. Wouldn’t make much of a living organism, and she’d be very dense indeed. Alastair Reynolds do this a few times in his books, but then, he’s an astrophysicist writing scifi and knows what is right and wrong even if he gets creative at times.

        So yeah, shrinking without reducing mass is possible. But increasing in density would highly affect flight so that’s not the solution either. As well as chemistry would probably break down in that kind of dense matter. Not that I’m much of a bio-chemist though. Chemistry is however basically just quantum mechanics, which I do know, and you can’t just remove the space in and between atoms and expect everything to work normally, that makes no sense. :)

        I’m still more in favour of the 4 exajoule (4*10^18 J) explosion though!
        bada-big-boom …

        • Avatar of bug_girl

          Thanks! I would hate to make a big physics error in the middle of a rant :)

  25. Avatar of Cabbageman

    I really love science fiction. Godzilla was my imaginary friend, growing up. The theme to Jurassic Park still plays in my head whenever I see a helicopter. The Fly was an AMAZING movie (pick one version and I probably loved it… Jeff Goldblum is a total hunk, btw).

    As much as I love dragons and Godzilla and The Fly, it is very clear that all of these things are unrealistic. There are a long list of things that threaten to destroy our cities and a fire-breathing dinosaur awakened by nuclear testing is not one of them. In movies like these, I find it pretty easy to suspend my disbelief.

    BUT that is only because they tend to give you VERY little to pick away at. The best sci-fi gives little explanation as to why or how monster, ghoul, dinosaur or calamity came to be. That is good. I don’t want a documentary, I want a cool monster wrecking downtown Tokyo (or any equivalent metropolis).

    The same goes for books. In The Lost World, I was never asking HOW these dinosaurs had managed to survive the mass extinction or how they had managed to remain EXACTLY the same as their ancestors (while natural selection and evolution had chugged on as usual), I just read and found the discrepancy (between reality and the work) easy to ignore because they didn’t bring it up.

    My advice to anybody writing anything to do with science (in any fictional genre) would be to avoid drawing more attention to the errors in your scientific explanation than absolutely necessary. That way, people like myself can set the inaccuracies aside for a little while and finish the story.

    That’s all I have to say about that. (If you got that reference, good on you!)

    • Avatar of Cabbageman

      I lump books and movies together. Anything that tells a story, I think, applies to this AI. I am pretty sure of it, at least.

  26. Avatar of sidhe3141

    I’ve been meaning to add a “Bad Fiction” folder to my bookmarks, and now this inspired me to. Now to add a bit of the “cannot unread”-level erotica I’ve found.

    Oh, and yes. I spent half of Avatar unable to have a mental rant about the story because my inner biologist wouldn’t shut up about “seriously, how is this even possible”.

  27. Avatar of surgoshan

    Before I say anything of substance (which might not happen anyway), I want to point out that Neil Gaiman included a magic pussy portal in _American Gods_. And that book is awesome.

    I can’t stand bad science in sci fi. It pulls me out and bugs the shit out of me. Why? Because the bad science is being offered as an explanation and *it’s not*. Basically, the author is stupid and ignorant and expects the same of us. Okay, maybe not stupid.

    Oddly, I can accept almost anything of a fantasy novel. Except for the occasional author who seriously believes in the woo he’s pitching, good fantasy authors just like to stay consistent and then weave a story around the world they’ve made.

    Now, how is it that I’m a fan of Doctor Who, in spite of some of the appalling science it puts out? 1) Good writing. 2) It’s 99% not science fiction. It’s science fantasy. It doesn’t even pretend to be realistic; it calls itself science and then makes things up and only rarely does it use actual science words. 3) Even when it does, the result can still be awesome (Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink, and you’re dead.)

  28. Avatar of latsot

    Despite what surprisingly many people tell me, often at length, sometimes with a powerpoint presentation and an online poll, I actually *am* able to suspend my disbelief, even in the face of glaring scientific error.

    What I *really* can’t abide is laziness in an author. The ‘scientific’ claims of this book look like laziness to me. If a supposedly scientific passage in a story looks like Deepak Chopra wrote it, it’s fairly safe to assume that little in the way of thought or research was involved.

    And that’s what annoys me. I roll my eyes at the stupidity, of course, but it’s the fact that the author seems to think that reading a pop science article is beneath him, but that he nevertheless qualified to write about scientific things that especially boils my piss, rather than the stupidity itself.

    I have the same reaction with historical errors (although I’m far less qualified to spot them), with plot holes and continuity errors and with deus ex machina.

  29. Avatar of pyrion

    Ha, you need an explanation where the 45 kg of mass went? Modern physics makes it easy. It just converted to dark matter, not interacting with the world anymore. See? Problem solved.

    And the problem with a 4 inch girl having intercourse with a 17 year old boy? Did you ever see a small snake eat a really big egg? You all just lack imagination, that’s all :o).

    • Avatar of bug_girl

      I have had quite a few snakes as pets, and there is nothing more UNsexy than watching a snake eat a rat.

    • Avatar of Buzz Parsec

      That retcon won’t work. Dark matter doesn’t interact with normal (“baryonic“) matter in any way except gravitationally. That’s why we know* it exists: due to its gravitational influence on the structure and dynamics of galaxies.

      [*] for small values of “know”.

      • Avatar of Buzz Parsec

        On second thought, I think it just might work after all. A very sensitive balance might detect its presence, but since the Earth’s gravity would pull it down, and the electrostatic forces of the atoms and molecules in the lab floor would not push it up, the girly goop dark matter would fall to the center of the Earth.

        This is a classic freshman physics problem, but usually involves ignoring the Earth’s rotation, assuming the Earth is spherically symmetric and having an evacuated tunnel extending all the way through the Earth and out the opposite side. For a 45Kg lump of dark matter, the non-rotation and tunnel aren’t needed, so this is a much more realistic problem. The answer, by the way, is the object would perpetually oscillate, falling all the way to the center, picking up speed as it falls, then climbing all the way back to the surface, slowing down all the way, until it stops and falls back again, eventually reaching the original lab (except the Earth would have rotated away by then), and then the whole process repeats. The period (there and back again) is the same as the period of a circular orbit at the same altitude as the initial point, about 84 minutes at sea level. In the GGDM (girly goop dark matter) case, we are letting the Earth rotate, so the dark matter would initially have the Earth’s horizontal rotational velocity (about 1250Km/hr at 40° latitude), so it be more complicated than a simple straight line up and down. My instinct is it would trace out a figure-8 pattern with the same period, but that’s just a guess. I’m too lazy to solve it, and anyway it’s been a very long time since I was a freshman. Or you could build your secret bug transfiguration lab at the north or south pole, so rotation would have no effect. Secret polar labs are always cool*!

        [*] Literally.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          Secret polar labs are always cool*!

          We won’t go into the coolness of the physicists stationed there. ;)

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