Allegiant Wins Goodreads 2013 YA Fantasy of the Year Award

It may have disappointed many fans, but Allegiant still racked up enough votes to win Goodreads’ Young Adult Fantasy book of the year award.

Top 10 Reasons You Will like the Catching Fire Movie better than the Original.

I think we’ve hit that ever-so-rare Wrath of Khan phenomenon, where the sequel to a movie far surpasses the original. And, though I know our Headmaster had his issues with it, the Hunger Games franchise certainly did not start from as low a point as Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I hit the 8:30 showing with my seventeen-year-old daughter and two of her friends last night, breaking my usual rule of no post 10-PM activities on a school night.  And, I am glad I did because I think this will go down as a memory my daughter and I will treasure. There was a unanimous consensus that this movie was a better and more faithful adaptation of the book.  Personally, I have always thought Catching Fire, though quite good, was the weakest of the trilogy.  It would not surprise me if the movie turns out to be the strongest.

So, without further ado, and appropriate spoiler warnings, here are the top  10 reasons you will like this movie better.

[Read more…]

Professor Trelawney forgives Bellatrix for Affair with Lockhart

Somewhere, out there on the internet, there is undoubtedly a fan-fiction that parallels this real-life story.  But then, once Ginny Weasley got engaged to, then broke up with Grindelwald, anything is possible.

Did Roth miss the Epigenetic Boat?

This post is a follow-up to Chana McCarthy’s keen insights in her guest post.  Allegiant was not the book I expected; and I must admit it is not love at first sight. But, having read the bombshell ending yesterday, and with a little recovery time I am liking it more and more. I am eager to go back for a re-read, so I can’t hate it too much.  I’ll come back with a post about what I did like later.

Right.

But, like Chana, I was most disappointed in the science of it, particularly when the psychology and neuroscience were so well handled in Divergent and Insurgent. The “genetic engineering study gone bad” is simply not believable on any level, even from the basic test they do in the lab. Helllooooo? If you need to do a genetic test on someone, it is far easier to take a cotton swab and scrape out some cheek cells than it is to inject your subject with some sort of micro-computer-packed serum.

Wrong.

I’m quite sure that the technology of basic cheek cell harvesting, of the type practiced in 9th grade biology classes all over, is not going to be lost over the next 300 years, no matter how many Purity Wars we have. The compound scientists may be reasonably well off financially, but there is no need for them to waste resources on a complicated serum when a Q-tip will do.

Second, if you have the technology to go in and “knock out” certain genes (for cowardice, low intelligence or whatever) it stands to reason that you would have the technology to reinsert the original sequences. It’s done with mice all the time. A basic understanding of DNA replication should make it clear that there is no reasonable mechanism for “healing” genes over time… the only way to “heal” a mutation is to rewrite the DNA sequence to get the original gene back: not something to be done one step at a time, over generations.  In fact, assuming the “experiments” started out with a population of diverse broken genes (some intelligence, some courage, etc) the last thing you want to do is isolate them and let them interbreed with each other for generations.  You are just as likely to wind up with people carrying multiple mutations that they inherited from different parents as you are to see people “healed.”  There is only one good reason for isolating genetic undesirables together: to make it easier to exterminate them all.

Interestingly, there is one hot new area of science that could have been used to make a bit more sense out of this storyline: epigenetics. Which is, in a nutshell, modifying not the DNA itself, but how it is packaged, to make certain genes more or less expressed or silenced entirely. [Read more…]

Shared text: Real-life tracker-jackers?

I have heard more than one media outlet refer to these things as tracker-jackers.  Where are Rue and her leaves when we need them?