Five Things #22

Domesticated by Timothy Bastek is a zombie story that reminds me of the fact that I never got around to seeing Fido.

Denzil delves into the strange history of Neutral Moresnet.

Tremors recently turned 30. Jennifer Ouellette celebrates the most perfect B movie creature feature ever made.

First it was wolves, now it is otters. Thirty years after they were declared extinct in Flanders, the animals have started to make a comeback. There’s still a long way to go, but things are looking positive.

Jamie Foster and Christopher H. Hendon explain how to make the perfect cup of coffee – with a little help from science.

Five Things #21

KT Bryski provides a very different take on the story of Red Riding Hood in The Path of Pins, the Path of Needles.

In 2008 Rian Dundon spent 9 months on the road with Fan Bingbing, China’s biggest movie star, and gained a firsthand look at the country’s celebrity-industrial complex.

There are exactly two wolves in the wild in Flanders at present. Pups could be on the way.

Nick Tyrone discusses three things the left gets wrong. Repeatedly.

Ben Orlin presents The Game of Snakes. All you need is a pen and a bit of paper.

Five Things #19

Shades of H. P. Lovecraft in Nesters by Siobhan Carroll.

Was it just luck that Earth has plenty of oxygen? Lewis Alcott and Benjamin J. W. Mills suggest that breathable atmospheres may be more common in the universe than we first thought.

Luke at Start Your Meeples examines the enduring popularity of Carcassonne.

Ryan Billingsley suggests that if you want your kids to read, you should let them read whatever they want. This is a view I can wholeheartedly endorse.

And James Parker considers the joy of being middle aged.

Five Things #18

In Dislocation Space by Garth Nix a Soviet political prisoner is ordered to use her unique talents to explore a strange scientific phenomenon. It could be a trap…or a way out.

With this second decade of the 21st Century coming to a close, Den of Geek has compiled a list of the top 20 movies of the decade. I’ve seen exactly half of them.

J Oliver Conroy claims to have found the seven most terrifying Christmas traditions around the world.

Carsten Welsch stretches his definitions a bit in order to talk about whether the science of Star Wars holds up. Short answer: it doesn’t, but look at this slightly similar stuff that is much more interesting.

Tom Jolliffe looks at the weirder wonders of cinema.

Five Things #17

With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfsbane Seeds by Seanan McGuire is a wonderfully unnerving tale of Halloween, haunted houses, and the consequences of entering perfectly preserved buildings.

Batteries are not a panacea and in What Green Costs, Thea Riofrancos examines the social and environmental costs of lithium mining.

With the release date of No Time to Die confirmed for April 2020, JJ Bona looks back at five of James Bond’s best moments.

Most voters, planners and politicians in Brussels agree that the city should become less clogged by cars and more friendly to pedestrians. Gareth Harding suggests 10 Brussels squares that should be car-free.

Ian Sample reports on the Neolithic chewing gum that helped recreate image of an ancient Dane.

Five Things #16

The Hidden Girl by Ken Liu is a tale of magic and morality set in eighth century China, a time when rivalry among military governors —- the jiedushi —- was often violent and bloody.

“By studying rats in a smarter way, scientists are finally learning something useful about why some drinkers become addicted and others don’t.” Ed Yong on a landmark study on the origins of alcoholism.

George Nash looks back at Gremlins, and the timely return of Joe Dante’s controversial creatures.

Nick Tyrone rediscovers football after a ten year absence and wonders if the gentrification of the sport has gone too far.

Simon Brew salutes 2019’s most underrated –- and finest -– blockbuster movie villain

Five Things #15

Alex Irvine’s Black Friday is set in a dark future America where consumerism and gun culture are unchecked, and follows a young family as they team up up to celebrate the first shopping day of the Christmas season in the most patriotic way possible.

The Guardian investigates the network of radical right wing think tanks that have hijacked Brexit and reshaped the Conservative party.

Jörg Schindler travels Northern England to explore Ground Zero of the Brexit Class War.

Mark Harrison considers the past and probable future of Aardman Animations feature length output.

In light of a recent study which suggested that establishing a trillion new trees around the world could turn back the climate clock to the 1970s, Mitch Anderson decided to take a look at some examples of resilient reforestation efforts and why they worked.

Five Things #14

Precious Little Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a prequel to the magical novella Made Things, which has just been published. It’s so good that I now have the novella.

Chris Grey asks what ‘getting Brexit done‘ actually means. There are some nasty surprises in store for anyone who thinks that Britain leaving the UK in January will be the end of it.

Robert McCrum remembers Clive James, who died last week.

Jennie Rigg points to what the phrase ‘poisoning of political discourse‘ means for real people.

And finally, here’s Wumo on Black Friday:

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Five Things #13

The Devil Buys Us Cheap and the Devil Buys in Bulk by M. Bennardo is a morality tale about unearned money.

Helen Claire Hart argues that we should lift the ban on asylum seekers seeking work.

Kieren McCarthy at The Register looks at the creative accounting that helps Apple get away with charging an unjustifiable mark-up on repairs while also claiming to make a loss.

Funk’s House of Geekery looks back at Tank Girl, the movie.

Susan D’Agostino talks to Barbara Liskov, the architect of modern algorithms.

Five Things #11

In The Fish of Lijiang by Chen Qiufan a workaholic office worker is diagnosed with a stress-induced illness and sent to the rehabilitation center in Lijiang. The city isn’t as he remembers it, though, and then the story takes the sort of left turn that you would expect from someone like Philip K. Dick.

Dr Beth Singler discusses Blade Runner, Zhora, her snake, and the ethics of sexbots and slavery.

Simon Brew argues that obsessing over box office receipts puts us in danger here of giving movie studios even more excuses to avoid risks in favour of staying within the boundaries of mainstream fare.

Nnedi Okorafor defines Africanfuturism.

Denzil at Discovering Belgium visits the Menin Gate for the Last Post.