Hey, at least I’m in really good company…
With Special Opening Act, Tony Smith!
What do Dune, The Road, Blindsight,Anathem, and I Am Legend all have in common? Together, they compriseThe Five Worst SF Books EVER, as compiled by my buddy, Tony Smith over at Starship Sofa. Of course, this is hardly the first time Blindsight has been so honored— but when a winner of both the Hugo and whatever award is represented by that weird forties-era-Popular-Mechanics-airplane-thingy-in-front-of-his-fridge-at-the-lower-left-there weighs in, well, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.
Thanks a lot, Tony. You owe me a brewery.
The BUG and I were hanging out the other day with a friend I’ve known for thirty years. Debbie and I attended grad school together; but while I devolved into an SF writer, Debbie jumped onto the tenure track and rode it to the University of Toronto, where she’s been doing odd things with fish for a couple of decades now. One thing I always take away from my time with her is a harsh reminder of how far past my best-before date I
am as any kind of biologist (she pointed out a couple of pretty significant flaws in that genetic-recoding paper I was salivating over a while back, for example).
Friday. Over wine and cheese and salmon (and a horde of cats who’d once again hit the jackpot), the subject turned to this nifty little piece of research in which
a certain hormone, injected into an anatomically-female rat, turned it behaviorally male. (This is unlikely to come as welcome news to those on the whole defense-of-traditional-binary-marriage side of things, but that’s reality’s well-known leftist bias for you.) It was Debbie, typically, who saw the immediate potential for kids’ movies.
“There’s this question I put on my exams,” she said. “I ask my students what would havereally happened in Finding Nemo, after Nemo’s mom got eaten by the barracuda.”
Let me just take a moment here to admit how much I loved Finding Nemo. I think I saw it at least three times in the theater— years before I even had step-pones as an excuse— once with an honest-to-God rocket scientist who also loved it. (I belted out “The Zones of the Sea” in the shower for weeks afterward.) Plus I used to be an actual marine biologist. And yet it wasn’t until Debbie brought up her question that the obvious answer hit me in the nose:
Nemo’s dad would’ve turned female.
That’s what clownfish do, after all. (Also wrasses. Also a bunch of others I’ve forgotten.) When the dominant female disappears from the scene, the next male in line switches sexes and fills the vacancy, becoming a fully reproductive female in her own right. So Marlin would’ve become Marlene— and while that might mean no more than a couple of bonus points to some UT undergrad (you can see why Debbie has a fistful of teaching awards), the ramifications reach all the way down to Hollywood.
We live in an age of reboots and sequels, you see. And In A World where even the
Might Morphin Power Rangers get a dark and gritty update, what possible excuse could there be for not slipping a little real-world biology into a Nemo reboot? You wouldn’t even have to change the story significantly (although you’d need a new voice actor for Marlene— I nominate Amy Poehler). And talk about a positive sympathetic role model for transgender kids! Aren’t we long overdue for one of those? (Can’t you just imagine the drives home after Sunday school? “But Dad, if Marlin can change…”)
You listening, Disney?