July 13, 2010: This blog goes to the dogs! Again! Some House of Suns discussion! And the mailbag!

Well, today was the day Jelly finally went in for that stem cell procedure I’m hoping will help her deteriorated hips and arthritic elbows.  At eleven, the poor gal can barely get around anymore, limping to and from her food bowl every morning and night, requiring my assistance to negotiate stairs, couches, and that lofty perch atop by bedroom pillow from where she surveys all the action.  For several years now she’s been taking glucosamine and chondroitin for her joints and metacam for the pain, and, on the advice of a fellow animal lover (thanks, Annie), I’ve special-ordered some Glyco-Flex chewables.  Still, despite the meds, she continues to stagger around stiffly like me the morning after I do lunges – so I’ve decided to try something called a “Vet-Stem regeneration cell procedure” that goes something like this:

Day 1: My vet collects a 10-50 ram sample of fat from the pet, usually from the belly area.  Fortunately for Jelly, she’s got more than enough to spare.  The fat tissue is then shipped overnight to the Vet-Stem lab in San Diego.

Day 2: The techs at Vet-Stem process the fat, extracting and concentrating the stem and regenerative cells, generally work their magic, then ship the treated cells back overnight.

Day 3: The stem and regenerative cells are injected into the problem areas – in Jelly’s case, her hips, shoulders, and elbows.

From what I’ve read, many dogs who have undergone the treatment see results within two days.  Some don’t and even if that turns out to be the case for Jelly, at least I’ll know I tried.  I’m not looking for a miraculous turn-around and certainly don’t expect to see her bounding up and down the stairs in a couple of weeks, but I am hoping she’ll be a lot more comfortable.

Jelly being comfortable.

Bubba getting into the laundry.

Bubba and Maximus (above), all smiles after a day at the spa.

Jelly, also all smiles as opposed to crabby Lulu...


Maximus's "WTF's your problem?" look.

Bubba settles in all nice and comfy and then, when he hears the clatter of is dog dish, charges out to the kitchen, unplugging the laptops and bringing the router crashing to the floor.

Jelly this morning, enroute. She suspects something's up!

Yep, it's confirmed. Something IS up. She wasn't very happy when we got to the animal hospital.

Five minutes into my discussion with one of the techs, Jelly

casually ambles over the entrance as if to say “Okay, I’m ready

to go now.”

Definitely having trouble getting around.  Note the drag in her right hind paw…

Anyway, the harvesting of fat cells was done under general anesthesia this morning and it apparently went well.  They’ll keep her their overnight and then I’ll pick her up tomorrow afternoon.  She’ll spend the night at home and then, Thursday, she’s back (Oh, she’ll be thrilled to recognize that entranceway!) for the injections.

It will be interesting to chart her progress, if any.

Alastair Reynolds has already started on your questions.  If you go ’em, post ’em!  You have until Thursday after which you’ll have to live life resigned to not knowing the answer to that burning question!

And some House of Suns discussion:

bytehead writes: “I figured it was going to be some kind of mystery, but that certainly wasn’t the climax, so I really wouldn’t say the novel is a sci-fi mystery.”

Answer: I don’t know if I would call it a sci-fi mystery either, but the mystery element certainly drives the story as Campion and Purslane try to figure out who wants them dead and why.  In fact, the answer to both is a huge revelation, one that left me conflicted.  I could sympathize with the House of Suns, regardless of the extreme measures they deemed necessary to guard their secret.  And, believe it or not, I could also understand Cadence and Cascade’s desire for vengeance.

bytehead also writes: “As I was reading up to the climax (it is hard to actually claim what the climax is, but I think it would be opening up the star dam), I really didn’t understand where this book was going. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but I usually like to have an idea of at least the direction we’re going.”

Answer: The climax was certainly the opening of the star dam and subsequent encounter with the First Machines.  It was like two young siblings arguing, then trying to outrun each other to be the first one’s to tell dad their version of the story – only it turns out dad isn’t interested in their squabble and sends them on their way.  As for not understanding where the book was going, I thought it was pretty clear.  Campion and Purslane were able work out where the robots were headed and, eventually, why.

RebbbecaH writes: “I have to point out that it’s “Gentian”, not “Gentean”. Gentian is a flower, which explains why the Gentian Line is called the House of Flowers, and every cloned member has a plant name. That was the second thing that struck me. The first was that, at the beginning of the book, I thought it was going to be an Iain M. Banks Culture knockoff. Of course it wasn’t, though the universes are similar in some respects. Also, I believe the Line met every two hundredthousand years for the Thousand Nights of exchanging information.”

Answer: I stand corrected.

RebeccaH also writes: “It was more realistic to me that Reynolds didn’t bother to give the minor robots, ships, etc., personalities. They were merely smart robots, not sentient beings.”

Answer: And yet Hesperus had his own unique personality, one I really grew to like as the story progressed.


Susan the Tartan Turtle writes: “So – Jamil has an outrageous wardrobe ? Are there any piccies available?”

Answer: How ’bout this one –

ytimynona writes: “I’ve been trying to find the Very Keller Mailbag you did (the whole post about how Jewel is frakking awesome)… it was so snarky and amazing and I was telling my friend about it today and now I can’t find it to link her to it… can anyone else find it?”

Answer: Elminster was kind enough to point you in this direction:


Dodoalda writes: “Where’s the next part of “pineapple diaries”?”

Answer: I’ll hold back on a couple because they contain spoilers for season two.  A few more are on the way and I’ll continue the interview format with Louis once he’s back from vacation.  We’ve got a lot of questions to cover…

Kymm writes: “I saw on CNN today that Paul (yes the octopus), is getting all kinds of offers for endorsements etc.”

Answer: I know.  I just saw him do a spot for the new Arby’s Jr. Deluxe.

susiekew writes: “best of luck to jelly! are you going to get her a little pug walker whilst she rehabs?”

Answer: Fondy picked her up a stroller a couple of years back.  It’s still sitting in the garage.  Hopefully it won’t come to that (ie. me turning into “the crazy dog guy” – although my writing partner, Paul, thinks I’m already there.).

Quade writes: “Joe, I don’t really want to get involved in the SG-movies debate, but you always reference the poor DVD sales. Has there been any discussion about theatrical releases for either?”

Answer: I don’t believe that’s an option.

Joseph writes: “Joe, I know you’re leaving after SGU, but are there any of the current writers who are interested or likely to stay on for a fourth Stargate series, if that happens?”

Answer: Believe it or not, the topic of a fourth Stargate series has never come up – and I don’t see it coming up anytime in the foreseeable future.

imadaman writes: “Joe, apparently Todd’s name in the upcoming Stargate Atlantis: Legacy book series from Fandemonium is “Guide”.
Can I ask your opinion on this: Do you like the name?”

Answer: I prefer “Todd”.

chevron7 writes: “@Kymm – I get that you were trying to be funny but I didn’t find that amusing at all.”

Answer: ???  I don’t see what was offensive about her comment.