The coolest Star Trek reboot you’re probably not watching. How come I did not know about this until now? Of course, only the original is the original but this looks, possibly, not bad. (I know, glowing review, right? “Not bad”) Unfortunately, due to our primitive Internet situation we have to limit the amount of video we watch but I might try an episode one day when I’m not planning on doing anything else online for the whole day.
Captain Worf? Looks like it’s only in the talking stages now. Nothing is certain. I was never a huge fan of Worf or the Klingon civilization. There are other Next Generation characters that I would rather see at the center of a new show but if it happens I’ll watch it. After all, it is science fiction.
Or is it just another April Fools joke like Rosetta Stone: Klingon?.
The last two books I read were both by Neal Asher and both were sequels. I always hate trying to “review” Asher’s books. I don’t ever quite know what to say because I feel like anything I can say will make the uninitiated go, “Huh? What?” And there’s always so much going on in his books that I just don’t know how to give a good idea of what they’re about. But if you have never read anything by Neal Asher and you’re interested I recommend that you start with Gridlinked. At first you may find it rather shocking but once you get into it it’s great fun. Anyway… on to my two most recent reads.
The Voyage of the Sable Keech is a sequel to The Skinner. I have been wanting to read this for several years and I have a sort of funny confession to make. For all those years I thought the title was The Voyage of Sable Keech. Do you see what I did? I missed the second “the” and totally changed the meaning of the title. I didn’t realize my mistake until sometime after I had the book and started reading it. Sable Keech was a character in The Skinner and in the sequel it is an ocean going ship named after that character. Both books are very good. The setting is an ocean planet with lots of huge, hungry, very dangerous sea creatures, as well as some insane humans and AI’s of varying levels of sanity, but mostly more sane than the humans.
The Technician is a sequel to Line of Polity. That book deals with an evil Theocracy and, as in most of Asher’s books, a lot of large hungry, very dangerous creatures. In the sequel, a former member of the Theocracy has a secret to what happened to the original inhabitants of the planet Masada locked up in his brain. People who formerly would have been trying to kill him now have to protect him from other people who are still trying to kill him. This might be my favorite of Asher’s novels. In addition to the usual kind of action, it contains a lot of insight into human nature and a number of very quotable lines, a couple of which I have already quoted.
And now I have started reading something entirely different, which I will tell you about eventually.
These are both from The Technician, by Neal Asher.
“I think, Shree, that you’ve lost sight of what we were fighting for.”
I haven’t, it’s freedom.”
An airy concept often used by people who are really saying: I’m fighting for the freedom to tell you what to do.”
Too true in the real world. Then there’s this one, my favorite of the two, although I do somewhat understand the appeal of mysticism.
“That everything can be analysed, catalogued and understood does not destroy its value. Mysticism is the function of a mind looking for alternatives to reality.”
A few days ago I finished Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber. Some time in the distant future, human civilization is destroyed by vicious alien invaders who will not negotiate, nor even communicate. A group of humans escape to a world they name Safehold. To insure they will not attract the attention of the aliens, they establish a low-tech civilization and to insure it will stay that way the leaders establish a religion in which progress is a sin. Fast forward almost 900 years and a survivor of the war, a cybernetic avatar awakens and sets out to change things.
I liked the book, did not love it. It’s an interesting enough story once you finally get past the “introductory” stuff. Fully two thirds of the book was primarily conversations about politics. Some of this is necessary to establish the political situation but I would have preferred to get to the main action much sooner. That action, when we finally get to it, is mostly an old style naval battle. A familiarity with sailing terminology would have been useful but, lacking that, I still found it interesting.
My biggest complaint, even worse than the several hundred pages of politics, is that the characters are not particularly well-developed. Mostly there are generic good guys and generic bad guys. The main characters are almost interesting but what little the author gives me about them just frustrates me and makes me want more. Even with all its faults though, I think I might read at least one more in the series because it’s really not all bad.
And a pretty darn good and useful list: The Top 101 Science Fiction Adventures. These start with very early science fiction and are listed chronologically. Not surprisingly, I have read very few of these. Here are the ones I have read:
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. – Edgar Allan Poe – This one is bizarre and quite interesting, especially the part about Antarctica. It makes you realize that at that time in history Antarctica seemed as far away as Mars.
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells – After having seen two movies based on this, I have to admit that the book was a bit of a disappointment.
The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs – I need to read the rest of the Mars books.
At the Earth’s Core – Edgar Rice Burroughs
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
1984 – George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Stranger in a Strange Land(?) – Robert A. Heinlein – I think I read this one but I’m not sure. I really don’t care much for Heinlein except for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress so the other books of his that I’ve read all just sort of blend into one thing that I think of simply as “Heinlein”.
Dune – Frank Herbert – The first three books in this series are awesome beyond my ability to describe. The later books became tiresome.
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. LeGuin – Meh. Not one of my favorites by this author, who is not one of my favorite authors though there was a time when I really wanted to like her work.
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. LeGuin – Sort of interesting even though very dreary.
The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. LeGuin – Probably my favorite of LeGuin’s novels.
Lucifer’s Hammer – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – Loved it.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams – I read at least part of it. I can’t remember if I finished it.
So that’s 16 or 17 out of 101. Could be worse, I suppose. I want to read more of the books on the list and not just so I can say I read them. Some are old enough to be on Project Gutenberg, which makes it easy.
My books! They’re here! (As I mentioned before these are both by Neal Asher.) And there were two surprises. These are both used books and I would have sworn the seller was in Florida but they came from the UK! Which explains why they took so long to get here. Actually it wasn’t long at all considering how far they had to travel. That was the first surprise. The second is that The Technician is a hardback. Either I had thought it was a paperback or I just forgot.
Anyway, both books are in very good condition, just as advertised. I am so tempted to start The Voyage of Sable Keach even though I’m only about a third of the way through Off Armageddon Reef (David Weber). Number Two Son is in the middle of Anathem (Neal Stephenson) and it looks like he will finish that before I finish OAR.
HUMAN: Ugh! Gagh! I don’t see how you guys can eat that stuff. Even dead it’s gross but you eat it while it’s still alive! Still moving!
KLINGON: Really? Do you really want to go there? You humans eat tiny, helpless creatures that are having sex.
Uh oh. That was two cat posts in a row. We are in danger of being overwhelmed by the cute. So let’s just babble incoherently for a while. Or something.
So it’s November. The last couple of days have been rainy and cool but not really cold. It’s not bad. I prefer warm weather but this isn’t bad. It feels right for November. The fall colors peaked late. Until just a few days ago trees were still mostly green but now they’ve changed and leaves are falling rapidly. This colorful part of fall comes and goes so fast.
We watched the Face Off (SyFy) season finale was last night. This was the first time I had watched an entire season of it. I normally avoid any kind of elimination competition show like a flesh eating virus but my son got us into this one and I actually enjoyed it. All of the competitors got along with each other very well and mostly had excellent attitudes. There were a couple of whiny women that I kept wanting to slap, or shake or something, but compared to most such shows this was a very pleasant group of people. And it was interesting to see their creations. The guy I was sort of rooting for (Tate, from Tulsa) did not win but I wasn’t dissatisfied with the outcome. The final three (of which Tate was one) really were the best three. I’ll probably watch this show again when it returns in January.
I have recorded two episodes of Naked Vegas, which was heavily advertised during Face Off. The rest of the family doesn’t seem to be very interested in it and I’m not sure when we will get around to watching it. We have quite a backlog of recorded shows to watch. That’s okay though. So far we are keeping up enough that we haven’t filled up the recorder and we will have a few shows to watch later when football is over and “Oh No There’s Nothing On TV” season starts.
It seems like most of the shows we’re watching (or recording) right now are on CBS: Elementary, Person of Interest, NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI and Big Bang Theory. Besides those, we watch Castle (ABC) and Grimm (NBC) And I think that’s just about all on the “Big Four”. We have nearly an entire season of Hell on Wheels (AMC) on the recorder and several episodes of Torchwood. (BBCA) Our former favorite cable/satellite channels (Discovery, History, Animal Planet, Nat Geo, Science) are mostly showing crap and re-runs right now. Of course HGTV and DIY are still my Saturday morning TV. Like a kid and cartoons, I can’t miss my Saturday morning home remodeling shows but most of the good shows are gone and the few that are left mostly show the same six episodes over and over and over and over and over.
Yes, I have been sewing and have a few things I want to show off but getting out the camera and setting up the tripod seems like such an ordeal for the lousy pictures I always get. But I will get around to it sometime.
I decided to try reading Andre Norton’s Witch World series again. I read the first two books years ago and lost interest with the third. I just finished the third book, Three Against the Witch World yesterday and I do intend to read them all (or at least all that I have) but I want to read something else now. I have ordered two more books by Neal Asher, which should arrive today or tomorrow so I want to wait and read one of those but I hate to not be reading anything. Because of the TV show, Grimm, I decided a while back to download Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I’ve been reading those, just one once in a while and I read another one last night to fill in the time between books.
Via The Middle Stage, an infrequently updated blog about Indian literature, I learned about This Is Not That Dawn, which looks very interesting to me. Since I discovered The Middle Stage, years ago, I have wanted to read an Indian novel simply because I haven’t ever read one, but it’s been very much a back-burner want and I had no book or books in mind. Well, this is the one. I plan to download it soon because the Kindle version is waaaay less expensive.
Oh, almost forgot… I also ordered the first book in David Weber’s Safehold series, thanks to this conversation. I was actually going to start This Is Not That Dawn next but then the linked discussion prompted me to order a few books and now I’m eager for those so I’ll probably read all three of them before I get around to TINTD. Or maybe I’ll try reading two books at once. I know some people do that but I never have.
UPDATE: I received Weber’s Off Armageddon Reef this afternoon but not the two Neal Asher books. (The latter are used.) I was planning to read The Voyage of Sable Keach first (kinda wanted to get to it before Number Two Son) but since OAR is here and I need something to read now, I started that one. You know… there is something extremely pleasing about being the first to read a brand new paperback – the unbroken spine, the clean, untouched pages, that new feeling. But used books are fine too. It’s what’s printed on the pages that counts.
I have been seeing TV commercials for the new Ender’s Game movie and I have to admit, the first time I saw one I kind of groaned a little and thought, “Why that book?” But after seeing a few more of the commercials I’m starting to think it does look good.
It’s strange… I had actually forgotten that I liked Ender’s Game. (the first book) I read, I think, the first four books in the series and I think maybe I should have quit with just one, or maybe two. Right now I can’t even remember much about the later books but I have this impression in my mind of them being overwhelmingly dreary and that’s what I thought of when I first learned about the movie.
By the way, I know some people have such a problem with Orson Scott Card’s politics that they won’t read his books. That sort of thing usually doesn’t bother me. As long as the politics doesn’t completely overwhelm the story I don’t much care what goes on in the author’s mind. Sometimes I would rather not know but talent is not limited to those we agree with.
Anyway, this movie – I do want to see it but it is far from being the first movie I would have chosen if it had been up to me to decide, “Which science fiction book should we make a movie of next?” When this subject comes up between my sons and I Neal Asher’s books are at the top of our list, along with Larry Niven’s Ringworld. I understand there has been talk of a Ringworld movie for decades. Now it looks like there might be a Mini-series on SyFy but I am inclined to be skeptical until I actually see it.
I’m not sure though, whether any of those would be my first choice if I really thought about it. I don’t normally read a good book and think, “This needs to be a movie.” I’m perfectly happy with books being books, but it’s true that some books have the potential to be great movies. Looking at my bookshelves, Lucifer’s Hammer sort of leaps out at me. Then I think of Ben Bova’s Grand Tour novels. (some of which are better than others) And Jack Chalker’s Well World books could be a great, quirky TV series. It seems too much for just a movie.
So, science fiction fans, what book(s) would you like to see as movies?
Daniel Rocal has a very nice photostream, which includes some artwork as well as photos. I love Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy. He has turned off sharing and I understand. I really do. You want to make money with your art and you don’t want random people posting it all over the Internet. But it’s disappointing. It’s kinda like when you’re a little kid and you point to a person who’s dressed funny and say, “Look!” and your mom just says, “It’s not polite to point,” and you’re all hurt and offended because you weren’t doing anything wrong, you just wanted to show her something interesting. It feels a lot like that when someone won’t let you share their stuff on the Internet. (See update below)
Anyway, I wanted to post a picture so here’s something totally unrelated except that it also came up when I searched for “science fiction” on Flickr.
Lots more on Subarunio’s Photostream
UPDATE: (11/19/13) Apparently there was some kind of technical problem at the time I posted this. In fact, Mr. Rocal’s pictures are sharable.
I suppose this is evidence that nobody cares about blogs anymore: You can share that picture on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google Plus but the old-fashioned embed code is not provided. Of course I could hotlink but that seems rude since they don’t offer the option. Even though I think not offering the option, since they do offer those more modern options, is rude.
This is very neat. Starship comparison chart. Lots and lots and lots of starships from Star Trek, Star Wars and more, including video games as well as TV and movies. The thing that strikes me is how small the Star Trek’s Enterprise and other ships are in comparison with many of the others. There are some really huge ships out there in the various fictional universes.
Last night I saw Katee Sackhoff in my dreams. Or maybe it was Starbuck. She was drunk and getting in the way in my kitchen. Yeah, that was definitely Starbuck.
eQuilter has Star Trek fabric!!! There are several more but that one is my favorite. I love that it’s Original Series. Of course I could put them all together in a quilt since it is quilting fabric but it’s the thought of wearing it that’s tempting me. But I don’t know… Give me time; I’m still thinking.
This is a very brief review of Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale. There are no major spoilers but maybe a hint so if you don’t want any hints you might want to stop reading this now.
I don’t read “graphic novels” (I think I might have more respect for them if they would just call them comic books.) but when I found out that there was a “graphic novel” By Joss and Zack Whedon that reveals the secrets of Shepherd Book’s past I had to get it.
I am a little bit disappointed. It all makes sense. It’s perfectly logical. There’s no, “Oh wow! So that’s who he really is!” It’s more like, “Oh. Okay. That makes sense.” This was really just a brief overview of the pivotal moments in Book’s life and I’m not entirely satisfied that everything has been explained. If Firefly had lasted a few seasons and this had all been revealed bit by bit throughout the course of those seasons I’m sure it would have been more interesting. But still, I’m not sorry I bought the book.
Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is good old-fashioned science fiction. It has many of the familiar sci-fi tropes: FTL, an evil empire, a spoiled and out of touch nobility, wild frontier planets with disgruntled colonists, weird, serene aliens with impressive mental powers, and a secret plan to win independence. If you are into cutting edge “SF” you might consider this book “predictable” but it’s the writing and the details that make it worth reading.
A defeated General Adolphus is exiled to a “Deep Zone” planet with environmental conditions so bad it has been nicknamed “Hellhole”. The interstellar government, called The Constellation, controls the “stringline” system, an even faster FTL, which depends on a natural substance called iperion, of which there is only one known source. But another source is discovered on one of the Deep Zone worlds and about a dozen Deep Zone leaders, led by General Adolphus secretly plan to build their own stringline system and declare independence from the Constellation. Meanwhile, a few survivors of Hellhole’s original civilization are discovered and re-awakened. Complicating matters even more, there are political plots, murders, betrayals, and an illicit romance.
I wish I was better at writing reviews because Hellhole is much better than I’m making it sound. It’s a fast moving story that’s more about people, politics and adventure than it is about science. If that’s your sort of thing, as it is mine, I’m sure you’ll love it.
Hellhole is the first in a trilogy and the story does not conclude in this book so you might as well go ahead and buy all three. I highly recommend it.
I hate when I have to sign something. My signature never looks the same twice so I’m always a little worried that someone is going to have a problem with it. Like, “We can’t accept this. This isn’t really your signature.” Using signatures seems rather primitive but I guess there’s no secure and practical alternative yet. The Mythbusters showed how easy it is to defeat a fingerprint lock.
But anyway, I was thinking about this and since I was watching Through the Wormhole yesterday (and because this is just how my mind works) I thought of this. Suppose something like this happened:
We finally meet extraterrestrials and they’re friendly and want to do business with us. But they think our habit of signing everything is primitive and hilarious. They have devices that can instantly scan and identify DNA in saliva so they “sign” documents by spitting on them. Humans being the way we are, some people find this amusing, some people think it’s unsanitary, gross, and offensive, some people consider anything involving DNA a violation of their privacy, but about 80% of the people are just like, “Alright, whatever.”
As usual, the people who are offended make the most noise. There are protests, people carrying signs and writing blog posts and the mainstream media “analyze” it from every possible angle and continue to find new ways to say things they’ve already said so as to keep stirring the pot. Our alien friends had been willing to give us all the time we needed to catch up but, seeing all this uproar, they decide that we are a weird, primitive culture and that it would be in their best interest to limit contact with us.
The Earth is devastated. In the short time since first contact we have already become used to their advanced products. Everyone blames the U.S. government. Congress, missing the point as usual, quickly passes a law making spit signing the standard way of signing documents. This sets off a fresh round of protests. Meanwhile the EU is going through a similar process but the media spin the story to make Europe seem more civilized and sophisticated. The exact same Americans who were outraged about spit signing because they thought it was unsanitary and offensive ask, “Why can’t we be more like Europe.” Japan makes the switch to spit signing with little fuss. China refuses to even talk about it. North Korea threatens to launch a nuclear weapon at the U.S.
Congress passes an emergency amendment to the spit signing law making it legal to use old fashioned signatures in all dealings with China and other nations that find spit signing incompatible with their cultures. There is outrage across the U.S. “Why should we make concessions for China?!” Boycotts of all products from China are called for but most people find it impossible because almost everything is made in China.
The aliens are even more convinced that they don’t want to have anything to do with us. After a cooling off period of several months they open secret talks with Japan.
Yeah… I think that’s pretty much how it would go.
I recently finished two short books by Neal Asher. The Parasite is apparently out of print and used copies of it start at well over $100 at Amazon.com. You don’t want to know what new copies of it cost. Fortunately there’s a Kindle version. It’s a must read for fans of Asher’s Polity universe, though it is not a Polity story. It seems to be pre-Polity. At least it has some of the same elements you see in the Polity stories. And I hope I’m not giving too much away when I say that I loved the ending.
Africa Zero contains two related stories about a future Africa filled with all sorts of genetically engineered creatures. It was a fun, quick read with a lot of interesting ideas. Of course, “fun” and “a lot of interesting ideas” pretty much describes every Neal Asher book I’ve ever read.
If anyone reading this is considering reading Asher on my recommendation, because everyone has different tastes in entertainment I feel I must warn you that Neal Asher’s stories have extraordinarily high body counts. Lots of humans and aliens die quite messily. If they made movies of these books and aired them on TV they would start with the familiar warning: “Some images may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.” If you’re interested I would recommend starting with either Gridlinked (which is the one I started with) or The Skinner.