Number 6
22 February 2014 @ 04:45 pm
Not much has been happening to me, in the middle of the winter blahs, made even blah-ier because of the Olympics. I'm doing my usual competitive "watch as little as possible of Olympic footage" (I'm still holding strong at 0 seconds, at least of actual footage... coverage I'm doing less well at!), and a lot of other shows are taking time off. I've also finished up watching Leverage, which I'd been getting into over the last several months. But now it's gone. Oh, Leverage, I'll miss you, Parker with your adorable awkwardness, Hardison with your age-of-the-geek, and Eliot with your improbably recognition of organizations (it's a very distinctive reference!). Plus random Doctor Who references (and other geek stuff).

Speaking of Doctor Who, I now apparently own a TARDIS hoodie. My stepmother went to the states and that was her gift for me. Which is nice of her, since I probably wouldn't have bought one myself.

Otherwise, TV's rather sucked with the exception of the return of the Walking Dead, and GoT is coming soon. So that's something to look forward to.

In movies, I watched Catching Fire, which I enjoyed, and it mostly kept to then novel, Ender's Game (don't worry, I got it through magic, rather than paying anything for it!), which aside from having a few all-too short scenes in the Battle Room really seemed to miss the point in a lot of ways. I was expecting some changes to make it a movie, but most of them were awful. It was okay, but if they're going to make a movie of that in the first place the least they could have done is a better one! Anyway, there are other books by better and less-problematic authors to ruin with a movie adaptation! Also watched Thor 2, which was decently enjoyable. Guardians of the Galaxy also looks pretty good from the trailer recently released (though I'll have Hooked on a Feeling running through my head for a while), and it gives me a bit of a Farscape vibe, in a good way.

And upcoming movies also includes the Veronica Mars movie, which will be released worldwide not just in select theatres but in various on demand services to everyone, not just backers, on March 14th. That's pretty unusual. I'll be getting a free copy because of my Kickstarter contribution and won't be going to theatres due to my hermit tendencies and not liking to be around people.

We'll end up with Book Foo. I read the whole Newsflesh series by Mira Grant, spoilers for the first book should really be avoided, so, what I'll do is review the first book in order and then save the other two, which contain spoilers for the first, at the end (even though I've read a couple books since), so anyone who may be reading these that doesn't want those spoilers can just skip that. As usual all book reviews will only contain very minor spoilers, usually on the level of back of the book descriptions, and sometimes the feel of a book/ending which might be indirectly spoilery, but unless stated otherwise, that's it. And mostly the reviews are copy-and-pasted from Goodreads. (As to comments, I can't speak to the level of spoilers that may come there...)

Finished: Briarpatch, by Tim Pratt

Darrin's life's been going downhill since his girlfriend Bridget left him for no reason. Six month later, he sees her again... right as she jumps to her death off a bridge. Trying to make sense of this tragedy, Darrin begins to discover there's more gong on... not just in his life, but in his relationship and the whole world. There are pathways people can learn to see that lead to other worlds, fantastic, improbable, and occasionally dangerous. Some people call it the Briarpatch. And what happened to Bridget is wrapped up in it... as is, potentially, a chance to find her again.

I'm generally more of a science fiction guy than a fantasy, but when I do like fantasy, this is one of the types I like. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Feed, by Mira Grant (Newsflesh, Book 1)

It's been over 25 years since the zombies rose, and humanity has survived. So have the zombies. Large areas of the country are written off as unreclaimable due to zombie infestation. But the threat isn't just still out there... it's in every living person. When they die, they will rise, hungry for flesh and kick off a whole new apocalypse. But people can get used to almost anything, and, with stringent precautions and regular small-scale outbreaks, life goes on. Georgia and Shaun Mason, two orphans of the original Rising, were raised as adoptive brother and sister, and now medium-sized players in the new, post-Rising news media, largely dominated by independent bloggers. They, along with their technical expert nicknamed 'Buffy', have just been chosen for a great honor... to be the only bloggers on the campaign trail of leading young candidate Peter Ryman. But as they follow the campaign, tragedy begins to strike, and the group uncovers a conspiracy.

I'd heard good things about this series from others, and judging by this first book, I can see why. Read more...Collapse )Highly recommended for zombie fans, and maybe even if you're not.

Finished: vN: The First Machine Dynasty, by Madeline Ashby

Amy Peterson is a vN, an intelligent robotic life form that looks human, but isn't. They can't eat the same food, they are much stronger and faster, and, when they consume enough, they automatically reproduce. vN might be a terrifying plague, if not for one fact... they suffer extreme pain and even die if they even witness a human being hurt. It's a failsafe. Except, when Amy's grandmother appears, she's violent enough to kill a human child without remorse, and Amy has to eat her to save her mother. And then Amy realizes that she doesn't have a failsafe either, which means humanity wants to study or destroy her. And her evil grandmother is now living inside her head.

I instantly liked the book as I began. Read more...Collapse ) Flaws aside, I did really like it... it's probably on the low end of 4 stars, but it qualifies nonetheless, and I do want to see more, so I definitely plan to check out the sequel, iD.

Finished: Nexus, by Ramez Naam

It's 2040, and there's a new club drug making the rounds... it allows those who take it to share short-range telepathic experiences with other Nexus users. But it's not a chemical, it's nanotechnological. And technology can be hacked, improved on. That's what Kade Lane has been doing with some colleagues... he's found a way to make the Nexus effect permanently, and extend it, providing an interface to the human brain.

To the US government, such tinkering is highly illegal, because they're afraid of where the technology can go. But when they bust Lane, they offer him a deal... the charges against him and his friends can be reduced, if he helps them take down a Chinese scientist working in similar areas... with potentially much more catastrophic results. But things aren't so simple, and Kade must find his own path through a dangerous situation that could affect billions of lives. Read more...Collapse )I'll be rereading the book for the ideas, over the story or characters... but I'm sure I WILL be rereading it, because I really enjoyed it. I'll also be checking out the sequel, Crux.

Finished: Deception Well, by Linda Nagata
The city of Silk hangs in the sky 200 miles above the planet Deception Well, a planet full of biological complexity believed to be fatal to anybody who descends the space elevator. And yet the citizens of Silk can't got anywhere else, stranded there for generations.

Lot is the son of a charismatic prophet who went down to Deception Well, hoping to find communion there rather than death, and many of his followers still believe he's down there and will return. Lot doesn't know what he believes... but he does know that he has the same ability to influence minds and that something needs to be done.

This is set in the same universe as The Bohr Maker, although a significant amount of time later, and you can read it alone if you wish to, although it may help to understand a few of the concepts, and the ending has a little more resonance having read the earlier book. I also didn't like this as much as The Bohr Maker, so maybe it'd be a good idea to start there for that reason alone. Read more...Collapse ) I will be continuing to the next book in the series, Vast, eventually, which I've heard is much better.

Finished: Deadline, by Mira Grant (Newsflesh, Book 2)

Cut entirely for spoilers of previous book. Short version: Liked it a lot but not as much as the first.
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Finished: Blackout, by Mira Grant (Newsflesh, Book 3)

Cut entirely for spoilers of previous two books. Short version: Not as good as the previous two, but still worth reading.
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Started: Coyote, by Allen Steele
Started: Limit of Vision, by Linda Nagata

And that's all!
 
 
Number 6
18 February 2014 @ 11:11 am
Happy Birthday angelophile!!!

Also, I know I've missed a bunch of other birthdays, and I'm sorry, but if you've had one and I didn't wish you one, well, know that I retroactively still wish you had a good one!
 
 
Number 6
31 December 2013 @ 04:36 pm
I don't really celebrate New Years (I expect to go to sleep at around 9-10pm), but it's not been the greatest of year and I'll be happy to see the end of it. Actually, it didn't start too bad, but especially this last month I got the feeling that some supernatural being had bet that 2013 was the year that I go on a killing spree, and then suddenly realized they were running out of time and so threw loads of annoying circumstances at me. But I know plenty have had it worse. Still, I beat you, hypothetical supernatural entity!

Anyway, a few last book foos to get through:

Finished: The Chronoliths, by Robert Charles Wilson (reread)

A large monument suddenly appears in Thailand, celebrating a military victory by someone named Kuin... a little over twenty years in the future. It's a curiosity, at first, considered by many an amusing hoax... until more start appearing, larger ones, with catastrophic results, in major cities. Soon, everyone believes a conqueror is coming who has the ability to manipulate time, and some start to support him without even knowing who he is, granting him more power in the future, a terrifying feedback loop that may spiral out of control. Scott Warden is not one of these supporters... he just happened to be one of the early witnesses to the first of the so-called Chronoliths, and suffered the breakdown of his family in part because of it. But he gets drawn into the mystery over the years, working with a scientist who is studying temporal phenomenon, who believes they may all be tied together by destiny. Scott doesn't believe this, he just wants to keep his family safe... but that's not so easy in the post-Chronolith world.

I read this when it first came out, and rated it, based on my memory, at 3/5 stars. Rereading it, I think I'm going to up it to four, although perhaps it's simply that I didn't have different expectations going in, and so could just enjoy the story for what it was. Read more...Collapse ) If you read one Robert Charles Wilson book, read Spin. But this is a good second choice.

Finished: The Bohr Maker, by Linda Naginata (reread, but I only read it once probably 15 years ago so I barely remembered it)

Nanotechnology has changed the world... many people live in space habitats, pollution on Earth is getting cleaned up and converted into edible food, and the rich not only live for centuries, but also can send copies of their consciousness out to tag along with other people and perform tasks. But all of that pales compared to what might be done, if the people in power weren't terrified of people straying too far from what they define as 'human', and cracking down on all but the most special, dedicated nanotechnological Makers. But there's one Maker out there, the Bohr Maker, that can give it's wielder the power to change the world, and themselves. Nikko Jiang-Tibayan is not defined as human, but rather an experiment with a mandated thirty year lifespan that is now almost up, and in a desperate bid, arranges to steal the last sample of the Bohr Maker... except, he doesn't actually receive it. Instead, it falls into the hands of Phousita, an ex-prostitute and among the poorest of the poor, living on the streets with a group of others in similar circumstances. She never asked for it, but the Bohr Maker makes her a target, and puts her on the world stage.

I read this book before. Once, probably more than fifteen years ago, shortly after it first came out. I remembered very little about it, aside from what the title referred to. I honestly can't even remember what my reaction was to it, if I liked it or just thought it was okay, just that I obviously didn't like it enough to be memorable. And yet it sat on my shelf, and I'd see it every so often and think I'd give it another chance one day. I finally did, and I'm glad. Read more...Collapse )This is why I'm so reluctant to get rid of books, even ones I didn't strongly react to... sometimes I come back to one years later and get a lot more out of it.

Finished: 11/22/63, by Stephen King

Jake Epping is a high school English teacher, leading an ordinary, quiet life... until a friendly acquaintance named Al reveals an unbelievable secret. Inside Al's unassuming diner lies a portal to 1958, and only 1958. With it, you can change the past... if you're patient and determined. Al wants to undo one of the biggest historical events of the 20th century, the Kennedy assassination, believing that thousands or millions suffered unnecessarily as a result of the ripple effects. He's already tried, but he couldn't make it to 1963... he's dying. And so he enlists Jake to finish his work, find out if Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and, if he did, stop him before he can murder a president.

Read more...Collapse ) it's a very enjoyable book, full of action, tension, and human moments. As is often the case with King, the ending doesn't entirely live up to the rest of the story, but it's not as bad as some of his other works, and these days I almost give him a pass for it. The journey makes up for it.

Started: Briarpatch, by Tim Pratt
Started: Feed, by Mira Grant

So, that makes my complete booklist for 2013...

1. Gridlinked, by Neal Asher
Read more...Collapse )53. 11/22/63, by Stephen King

That's more than one a week, on average, thanks (and I use that term loosely) due to the winter storm that knocked out our power for 2 and a half days. If not for that, I would have made 50, for sure, might have made 51, 52 at a longshot. Although it's not the most I've read in a year, I know one year I got 59. Still, 53 is a respectable number.

19 rereads (one of which I barely remembered anything about when I started), 34 new books. 7 recieved for free through Goodreads, of which only two I liked enough that I'd have felt it worth it if I purchased them myself (Ancillary Justice and Backwards... Defining Diana gets an honorable mention but it wasn't quite there).

Happy New Year!
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Number 6
31 December 2013 @ 05:29 am
Happy Birthday, liabrown!!!!!!!
 
 
Number 6
24 December 2013 @ 02:29 pm
Been without power in December for the last 60 hours. Just came back now. Everything in the freezer is ruined.

But at least hundreds of thousands of people in the city being without power for 2 days in icy winter temperatures, didn't constitute an emergency according to our illustrious mayor.

Merry Christmas to anyone that celebrates it.
 
 
Number 6
21 December 2013 @ 06:35 pm
I haven't posted anything substantive in a while. Just... meh. Nothing to say. Ever get the feeling you're the extra in a movie, and disappear the moment you're off-screen? And it's not even an exciting movie, it's like some romantic comedy or something, which is fine if you're center stage, but just disappointing if you're on of the extras.

Anyway. Christmas coming up. Done most of my shopping, because most of my shopping is gift cards. Yay for thoughtless presents! Not all of it is giftcards, though. And I bought a turkey for a needy family. Not directly, but at the grocery story they were having a 'donate a turkey' thing. The charity played dirty, though, they had kids run up to people who were in that area of the grocery store and ask if I wanted to buy a turkey for a needy family. A few of them were even dressed as turkeys. How could I say no to kids dressed as turkeys for charity? Totally not fair. But I don't mind.

Had a freaky scare with one of the cats. (cut cause perhaps TMI and disgusting details). Read more...Collapse ) But yeah, it was freaky for a while there.

TV... not much has been going on. Still watching SHIELD, although it's been a disappointment. Arrow's enjoyable. Enjoyed the Doctor Who 50th, for the most part... had a few issues, but mostly it made me smile.

I think the only new show to speak of since last time is Almost Human. Where we learn a lot about the future (minor spoiler ahoy). In the future... Read more...Collapse )

Many other examples of rather inconsistently-thought out advances in technology... but... I kid, mostly, rather than rant. I mean, these are all pretty ridiculous, but I find myself enjoying the show nonetheless.

Continuum, another show that depicts Cops in the future probably makes similar mistakes, but they're not as bad because we don't focus on that world 24/7 in every ep (since they time-travelled to modern-day Vancouver). I did catch up on S2 of that finally, and enjoyed it enough that I'll keep watching.

Walking Dead was... well, it had a good start, and then dropped the ball again with the Governor. The finale wasn't too bad, but we REALLY didn't need the two episodes before that. Still, zombies are a guilty pleasure so I'm not dropping it even if it gets really bad (and there are plenty of ridiculous bits there too).

I've also caught up a bit on watching movies that I've been overdue for. Dredd was actually rather fun. Total Recall had nice visuals but was pretty dumb. Man of Steel, meh, dragged on an I didn't like the ending. Pacific Rim turned out to be a lot better than I thought it was, particularly for the genre. Dark Knight Rises overrated. Couple other that were okay but forgettable.

Finally, books... read a lot of them. In fact, as of this writing, I've completed my goal of 50 books in 2013. Still a chance I might get another 1 or 2 (I think I got a reasonable shot at 51, 52... maybe if the weather cooperates). But I usually write my reviews, and I have been slacking off, so, here we go, all in a rush at the end of the post, if you usually skip these, you can just stop reading here. As usual, I'm mostly copy/pasting from my Goodreads reviews... minor spoilers many be behind most cuts, but I don't think there's anything that would ruin a person's enjoyment... if there's anything major I'll try to single it out for a special warning.

Finished: The World's Best SF 4, (short story collection)

The Year's Best SF books are a reliable source for entertaining and thought-provoking short stories. This edition holds stories published in 1998.

Although you can always find something to enjoy, they're usually something of a mixed bag... Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Defining Diana, by Hayden Trenholm (received for free!)

Full disclosure, I received this book free through the Goodreads First Reads program.

2043, Calgary, Canada, Frank Steele leads a group of police officers who tackle the cases that are too big or too weird for anybody else. But when they discover the body of a young girl who doesn't exist in any of the usual databases, with apparently nothing wrong with her that might cause her death, they get a mystery that may connect with some of their other open cases... and have worldwide consequences. Read more...Collapse ) All in all, I'd recommend it to fans of police procedurals, or those who find the back-of-the-book blurb interesting on their own, but it's not the kind of book I'm liable to call a favorite myself. Certainly enjoyable, but not particularly memorable.

Finished: Backwards, by Todd Mitchell (received for free!)

Full disclosure: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads program.

The story follows a disembodied spirit with no memory, who witnesses the suicide of a teenager named Dan, and finds himself drawn inside... only to wake up inside Dan's body and everything's fine. Soon he realizes that every day he lives through takes him one day further back in time, and through watching his host's actions, and the actions of his family, former friends, schoolmates, as well as the girl he seems obsessed with, the mysteries of the people around him gradually become unveiled and The Rider becomes convinced he has a purpose. He has to gain control of this body and change what happened, somehow.Read more...Collapse )I do think this is one of those teen novels that can be enjoyed by adults and teens alike (as long as those adults don't mind reading about the lives of teens).

Finished: The Star Fraction, by Ken Macleod

In the near future, the UK is divided into microstates, each with their own laws, and many independent groups vying for the future of humanity. Some are struggling to bring their vision of a communist revolution to fruition, while others fear that unregulated computer science may be bringing about the creation of an uncontrollable artificial intelligence that could threaten the world. There's also a possibility that it's already happened.

What can I say about this book? I really, really, wanted to like it. There were some great ideas, and, at times, I was engaged with the characters. But the world they inhabited didn't entirely ring true to me, and even when it did... I just didn't care about it. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Embassytown, by China Mieville
Avice Cho lives in Embassytown, a small human outpost on an alien world. She doesn't talk to the alien Hosts who are born to the world.. because they don't understand humans, except for specially trained Ambassadors. Because of a quirk of evolutionary history, the Hosts only perceive language that is spoken with two mouths, speaking different words, at the same time, with the same mind. As such, Ambassadors are specially-created clones, bred and trained from birth specifically to communicate with the Hosts, effectively being one person in two bodies. Avice isn't an Ambassador.. but she does occupy a special place in the Host's language, she's a living similie, something the Hosts compare things to. The Hosts' language is changing thanks to contact with humans, and that is changing them and their society. But when a new team of Ambassadors arrives, their use of the Language throws the world into turmoil. Short version of review: liked it, high quality, but I appreciated the quality more than I actually enjoyed it. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Postsingular, by Rudy Rucker
In Postsingular, tiny machines devour the Earth and copy everybody they eat into a simulation... luckily, one of the machine's developers also created a backdoor, and with the help of his autisitc son, they're able to reverse the situation, restoring everybody.

Soon after, another set of tiny self-replicating machines are released, which don't devour, merely reproduce until they cover every inch of the Earth, sharing information with each other and the people they're on, changing society forever as everyone can instantly access information about virtually anything.

That's all in the first fifty pages. And after that, the story starts to get REALLY weird. Read more...Collapse ) If he hadn't included the Hibrane subplot, I probably would have given it four stars. As it is, three, but a high three.

Finished: Wormholes: A Novel, by Dennis Meredith (received for free!)
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free through Goodreads "First Reads" program.

Weird events have been happening all over the world, either matter is disappearing, or appearing, and often with disastrous results for those nearby. One scientist figures out what's happening (psst, the answer's in the title), and then works to harness this power.

I'm afraid I never really got into this book. The premise is an interesting one, from a distance, but, there are just too many issues with the plot. In short, it never felt real, which is especially a shame considering how it mostly tried to stick to an Earth-based plot with scientists investigating a new phenomenon, rather than explore the wilder frontiers of SF. (slightly more spoilery than usual)Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Hylozoic, by Rudy Rucker

Putting the description behind the cut too, because it kind of spoils Postsingular's ending. Short version: some decent ideas, and enjoyed it, but didn't like it as much as Postsingular.
Read more...Collapse )

Finished: He is Legend, (short story collection)

A collection of short stories honoring Richard Matheson, legend of horror, by some other famous and not-so-famous authors. Each story is either a sequel, prequel, alternate point of view, or otherwise inspired by something in Matheson's work.

Read more...Collapse )

Finished: A book that shall not be named that I got for free
I did not like this book, and I don't want to name it for fear the author might google himself and find my LJ (though he read my review and was polite about it)... and also I don't want to further bash it connected to the name. But since I'm not naming it, I will, here, completely spoil it and one of the big issues with it: Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

A teenage boy awakens without memory, having arrived in a location called the Glade, filled with other boys who were all in the same predicament, having arrived once a month, also remembering little more than their names. Thomas, like those before him, learns that the Glade is surrounded by a maze, filled every night with monsters. By day, everyone has jobs to keep their little community going... but the elite of the group, the Maze Runners, run out and try their best to solve the mystery of the shifting walls and look for a way out so they can go home and find out who they really are. But Thomas is different from the others, he develops a growing feeling that he's been there before, and a certainty that he must become a Maze Runner. And everything changes when, shortly after he arrives, for the first time, a girl arrives in the Glade.

It's a YA novel, and, as you might expect, marketed as being a good book for fans of The Hunger Games, so it's only natural to compare them. Well, it's not nearly as good as that, but it's a solidly enjoyable read.Read more...Collapse )

Otherwise, it's an appealing book, not great, but I enjoyed it, and I might check out the movie when it comes out next year. As for the sequels? Unlike The Hunger Games, I'm not immediately eager to track down the next book and see where it goes, but I'm at least curious enough that I might pick it up down the line, especially if I see it in a used bookstore for a decent price.

Finished: Pump Six and other stories, by Paulo Bacigalupi (Short story collection)
This is a series of short stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, best known for his novel The Windup Girl. Two of the stories are set in the world of that novel.

Short story collections are usually a mixed bag of quality, themes, and styles... but when they're all by one author, they can be less varied than even a collection centered around a theme, and certainly more than a "Best Of" collection. In this case, we have a set of stories that I'd describe as well-written, and individually, I might enjoy, but when you take the collection as a whole... it gets to be too one note.Read more...Collapse ) I just don't really connect to his characters and I'm starting to think that his writing in general may not work for me.

Finished: Outcasts of Heaven's Belt, by Joan D. Vinge
A starship arrives in the Heaven system, hoping to trade, only to discover that in their years of transit, the system has suffered a severe civil war... and now their own spaceship is a prize every faction feels they need in order to survive. Short version: Bit flat and dry, some interest for fans of Vernor Vinge's "Zones of Thought" universe. Read more...Collapse )

Started: The Chronoliths, by Robert Charles Wilson (reread)
Started: The Bohr Maker, by Linda Naginata (reread, but I only read it once probably 15 years ago so I barely remember it)

That's it until next post. Merry Christmas to all that celebrate it. I'll try to post before the New Year if only to post my complete reading list, but if not, Happy New Year too.
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Number 6
21 December 2013 @ 11:44 am
Happy Birthday legionfalcon!!
 
 
Number 6
14 December 2013 @ 07:52 pm
Happy Belated Birthday lyssachan!!

Probably missed some others. bareedy, I think, too, and probably others, sorry. This has been a bit of a distracting few weeks. Not really in a good way. :P

But I hope you did have a happy birthday, regardless of my lack of timely wishes!
 
 
Number 6
09 December 2013 @ 03:23 pm
Happy Birthday iamrman82!!!!
 
 
Number 6
28 September 2013 @ 08:02 pm
Happy Birthday argaud!!!!

And to anybody else who had a birthday in the past couple months that I may have missed, sorry, happy belated. :(.
 
 
Number 6
26 September 2013 @ 01:27 pm
So, I haven't posted since the con, as it turns out. What have I been doing since then? Not much. First I got an annoying dose of Con Flu, but thankfully, that's worn off, I think. I rooted my phone, mostly to remove some of the annoying bloatware apps (I don't need a separate app for Google Magazine and Google Movies and Google whatever, especially since I can get all of them through the app store). I also changed the start screen, so instead of an ad for the phone carrier I got the phone from, I get a shot of the TARDIS flying through the Time Vortex while I boot up.

I considered doing some kind of stargate-gate-dialing animation but I couldn't find any I liked. I also had a crazy idea that I don't think's already implemented and too lazy to do myself, but... wouldn't it be awesome if, instead of entering a pin, you had to dial a gate address on the Stargate? Sure, you'd have to use more digits than most people use, but it'd just be cool. ;). In other phone news, I've started reading books on it more actively, but I still prefer paper books, so I do it in two circumstances: first, when I'm walking to work and it's too dark to read normally, it's easy to read on my phone. Eventually it'll probably get too cold to do that, but for a while, it means more reading time. And secondly, of course, when I finish a book but am still on-the-go, I automatically have a backup. Before I realized how easy it was to read in the dark with it, I spent a few too-dark-to-read walks listening to audioplays... the Neverwhere adaptation, and the adaptation of Iain M. Banks' "The State of the Art", both quite enjoyable. There are also some short stories I can get readings of online for free I'm going to load on them.

Anyway, beyond that, I'm still alive. Not much changes in my life, but I consume media, so let's see the results of my digestion... wait, that sounds inappropriately icky. Strike that. Something else.

Thanks to st_aurafina, I've discovered an amusing weekly webcomic, Monster of the Week, which is basically... a (usually) comedic take on every episode of X-Files, as a (usually) 12-panel comic, from the beginning, in order. They just did "War of the Coprophages" which is here, but if you want to start from the beginning, click here.

New TV season has started, but on the whole I'm not too excited about it. So far I've only checked out two, SHIELD, and Sleepy Hollow.

Let's start with the good.

How about you guess which one that is?

Did anybody guess Sleepy Hollow? Then you're not a good guesser. SHIELD was pretty good... a little rough, and, because of the ubiquitous promos, all the best bits fell a little flat, since we'd seen them so many times. As Whedon pilot episodes go, it's probably on the low end, but that still means a watchable show with some great moments, and I look forward to seeing where they go with it. Also, surprise Ron Glass! (Well, a surprise to me!) Hopefully he's recurring. Maybe now that he's got two big SFTV credits, he'll be more likely to be recruited for cons. :)

Now Sleepy Hollow... I guess it's not outrageously BAD, the actors have mostly been good, and once in a while there's an interesting moment of friction between attitudes of the past and present, but... it's not nearly good enough to get past the silliness of the premise of Ichabod Crane teaming up with a modern day police officer to solve crimes (magic crimes!). Every time they do something to make Ichabod surprisingly useful in the modern day, or find some way to allow him to continue to help, I feel the beams straining under the weight of the sillyness. Honestly, I can't imagine how it got approved to the pilot stage, much less a full series. But maybe it'll surprise me and be a success... apparently the first couple episodes got decent ratings, but.. meh, I might watch as long as nothing else airs at the same time, but I would not bother to download if I missed an episode or something else started airing in that space.

I have no faith in the quality of the long-term plot either... prepare to have nothing in the series mean anything or make any sense, because Sleepy Hollow is done by the same people that did the recent Trek Movies, so, I guess that's as good a time as any to Segue into talking about movies (I also need to talk about cartoons a bit, but it's a shame to waste a good segue, so let's do that a little later).

I saw Star Trek Into the Darkness. You may or may not recall that I was not at all impressed with the original remake, it was just full of stupid, and this... this is more of the same. The only thing these movies have going for it are some good actors and a good flashy look, it is practically completely brainless, plotholes up the wazoo. And, annoyingly, the writers treat Starfleet... well, they pretty much treat it like it's Hollywood: Where even if you haven't paid your dues or have in fact $!$@ed up spectacularly in the past, you can get control of a flagship based on a lucky success or somebody liking you personally. (Longer complaints below, some spoilers) Read more...Collapse )

I also watched World War Z, and... another meh. In this case, the movie itself's not bad... there are even a few good ideas here, some decent action moments. But it wasn't a World War Z movie. As I expected, it was a "Brad Pitt is awesome and fights zombies and beats impossible odds and saves the world" movie. And ANY movie could have done that, but a World War Z movie could at least have done something different that matched the book. I've mentioned this before, but I actually read (and have on my HD) what was allegedly an early script by J. Michael Straczynski where Read more...Collapse )

Now let's dart back to the small screen, for cartoons. Legend of Korra is back for season 2, finally, and it's good so far, although some of the manipulation is pretty obvious to everybody but Korra and I kind of want to take her aside and shake her by the shoulders to point out some of the stupidity. But it's nicely animated and got some funny moments.

Beware the Batman is the new Batman series, featuring a military-grade Alfred and Katana as a sidekick, all done in CGI. It's actually not too bad, mostly owing to the (frankly, brilliant) commitment to use obscure Bat villains instead of the classics, so we don't have to face the 30th Poison Ivy origin story, or the 30,000th Joker story. I just kind of wish they didn't go with Katana as a side kick and instead went with Cassandra Cain, or used a Stephanie Brown Robin or something. And, the animation... it's too clean and stiff. I feel like I'm watching plastic toys walking around in a plastic world. That's a risk in lots of CGI, but I've not only simply seen it done better as a whole, but it also stands out much more because Batman should be... grittier. But the stories are generally keeping my interest.

Now I have a bunch of Book Foo to get through, most of the reviews will be copypasted from Goodreads as usual, with maybe a few additional comments.

Finished: The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross

It's after the singularity, and much of humanity has uploaded into digital consciousness out in the solar system, but there are plenty left on Earth, trying to live the old way. One of these is Huw, a technophobic Welshman who signs up for a special kind of jury duty, to evaluate a piece of new technology sent to Earth by the occasionally incomprehensible cloud, and decide whether it should be allowed among the public. Huw plans to vote no on general principle, and maybe use it as an excuse to rant about the cloud in general, but instead gets wrapped up in events that will not just change him, but potentially the whole world.

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Short version: It's a solid book, fast-paced, fun... probably not going to be one of my favorites, but worth-reading.

Finished: Hyperion by Dan Simmons (reread)

A war is brewing around the distant planet of Hyperion, between two factions of the descendents of old Earth, but what happens on the planet itself might affect the universe more. Read more...Collapse )

It was a pleasure coming back to the universe, even if it doesn't capture quite the sense of wonder as it gave me the first time I read it, and I notice a few more flaws, I still think it's a great book.

Throughout the Hyperion series there have been occasional quotes that strongly reflect my values, or I just really like, and I believe I've posted them before, but I feel like quoting again, so, I'll do that. It's non-spoilery so I'll leave it uncut:

Sol wanted to know how any ethical system--much less a religion so indomitable that it survived every evil mankind could throw at it--could flow from a command from God for a man to slaughter his son. It did not matter to Sol that the command had been rescinded at the last moment. It did not matter that the command was a test of obedience. In fact, the idea that it was the obedience of Abraham which allowed him to become the father of all the tribes of Israel was precisely what drove Sol into fits of fury.

After fifty-five years of dedicating his life and work to the study of ethical systems, Sol Weintraub had come to a single, unshakable conclusion: any allegience to a deity or concept or universal principle which put obedience above decent behavior towards an innocent human being was evil.


Finished: The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (reread)

As interstellar war threatens the human Hegemony, a poet dreams of the planet of Hyperion and the quest of several pilgrims for the time-bending Shrike... events that are actually occurring, and may decide the fate of all of humanity. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (received for free!)

Full disclosure, I read an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book through Goodreads' First Reads program.

The Justice of Toren was an artificially intelligent starship serving the Radch, a galactic empire, controlling both the ship itself and many ancillaries... soldier bodies that were once human, their minds replaced entirely by the AI. But that was before... now all that's left of the Justice is Breq, one of those Ancillaries, carrying on the ship's memories and a futile quest for revenge on the Radch Emperor.

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Short version: Quite good, I enjoyed it all the way and wanted more, has an interesting approach to gender for those who might not read the full review but are interested in such things.

Finished: I Am Legend (and other stories) by Richard Matheson (reread)

Robert Neville is possibly the last uninfected man on Earth after a plague has killed billions... and returned to life as monstrous beings that stalk the night looking for fresh blood. Every day he renews his supplies or researches the phenomenon, while by night all he can do is hole up in his home and hope the defenses hold.

This is it, the granddaddy of the zombie apocalypse tale, Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Endymion by Dan Simmons (reread)

Hundreds of years after the fall of the human Hegemony, a man named Endymion is rescued from execution and given a task... to intercept and protect a young girl named Aenea, expected to appear out of a portal from the past and walk into an army of soldiers controlled by the now corrupt and ruling Catholic Church, so that she may fulfill her destiny. Read more...Collapse )

As I recall, the last book has more problems, but this one is one of the better books in the series.

And a quote:
"Entropy is a bitch," I said.
"Now, now," said Aenea from where she was leaning on the terrace wall. "Entropy can be our friend."
"When?" I said.
She turned around so that she was leaning back on her elbows. The building behind her was a dark rectangle, serving to highlight the glow of her sunburned skin. "It wears down empires," she said. "And does in despotisms."


Finished: The Mothership by Stephen Renneberg (received for free!)

Full disclosure, I received a copy of this book through Goodreads' First Reads program.

The Mothership tells the tale of a spaceship craft in a remote part of Australian. A US military team is sent in to investigate and retrieve any alien technology they can find, and destroy it if it becomes a threat, and a few locals are also caught up in the alien crash.

This book unfortunately left me cold, (some more-than-usual spoilers ahoy)Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (reread)

This novel concludes the Hyperion Cantos and the tale of Raul Endymion, as he stands by the messiah figure Aenea's side (or, occasionally, is forced to leave her) against the dangers of the corrupt Catholic Church who, in league with the parasitic AIs of the TechnoCore, not only want her dead, but are also about to launch a new crusade throughout the galaxy to destroy all of humanity who won't submit to their rule and the resurrection-providing cruciforms.

It serves as a pretty good conclusion, overall, Read more...Collapse )
Finished: Blindsight by Peter Watts (reread)

I've probably reviewed this book on LJ several times already so I won't even bother with an introduction before the cut. Read more...Collapse )

I'm not the kind of person to choose just one favorite book... but this would absolutely be in my top ten.

Started: The World's Best SF 4 (short story collection)
Started: Defining Diana by Hayden Trenholm (received for free!)

So, yeah, that's about all I think I have to say.
 
 
Number 6
26 August 2013 @ 03:19 pm
So yeah, behind the cut, photos. And a video. They may be big, sorry.

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Edit: Hopefully fixed the deleted other half of the post, grr LJ.
 
 
Number 6
25 August 2013 @ 08:29 pm
The main reason for not being full is the lack of photos, which I haven't gotten out of my phone. I'll probably do a photo only post. I don't know how good they'll be, and there probably won't be many, so often I saw something I wanted to photograph but the moment I got the camera out and on (even just awakening from sleep mode takes a few seconds... probably should have extended the time in sleep mode before needing a password for the con, too), the moment past. And a little more infuriatingly, the camera quality was pretty good in the viewfinder (still haven't seen how it all turned out) MOSTLY, but sometimes it would be blurry for 10-20 seconds before suddenly clarifying, and in that time the photo I wanted to get disappeared. Also, it kept reverting my settings on zoom and stuff every time it went to sleep. Poor program design. And occasionally I accidentally hit the 'record video' button and didn't realize it and was stuck just recording random travelings for a while until I caught myself. Anyway, I think my best days as a shutterbug lie in the future where I wear Google-Glass type things that just record everything I see into one video that I can snip out individual shots at will. Still, I'm glad I got the phone.

I'm still exhausted today (of course, I worked today, so that may be a big factor in extending it), but we'll see how it goes.

I'll give the long semi-linear story behind the cut, and maybe a bullet-point list of edited highlights at the end.

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Number 6
24 August 2013 @ 09:28 pm
That took way more time and energy than it should have. But I'm too tired for a full report, so maybe tomorrow.
 
 
Number 6
23 August 2013 @ 02:32 pm
If you don't hear from me ever again, I possibly died from crowds + exhaustion. But that's unlikely.

Anyway, because checklists make everything easier:

Dust off Firefly DVD boxed set for getting signatures - Check
Find a book stuff inside DVD case so I don't have to lug DVDs around and yet the box won't get crushed - Check (went with Old Man's War by John Scalzi... my other choices were too big)
Get a book to read in lines/bus (has to be a comfort book, one I've read many times so I could theoretically explain it if somebody engaged me in conversation about it, and also so that even if I skim past whole chapters due to anxieties or people talking I don't get annoyed) - Check (went with Blindsight, by Peter Watts)
Make sure Blue Sun T-shirt is clean, still fits, and has no holes - Check
Contact Runaways artist Adrian Alphona and arrange in advance a commission - Surpisingly check! (I mailed him a month or so ago and I'd kind of given up on hearing back, but he just replied this morning, but it's all arranged)
Find binder to protect commission once I get it: Check
Add pen to bag so I don't need to borrow one like I had to in previous years - Check!
Add ziploc baggies to bag in case of unexpected rain for emergency waterproofing of phone - Check!
Have phone, in operation, with camera, and fully charged - Check!
Get floorplan and schedule downloaded to phone so I have them even if I have no net access - Check!
Figure out exactly how I'm getting there considering my closest subway station is closed for renovations this week - Check (I think).
Futilely and obsessively try to anticipate and prepare for every possible conversation I might engage in during the event no matter how useless I know that planning is because I'll never say what I planned to anyway - In progress! And it will never be completed, only made irrelevant.
Plan my experience and which panels I might go to and such - Not done, dunno if I'll manage it, the whole 'taking place in two different but connected buildings this year' plan is really throwing me off. I have no idea where everything is in relation to each other. So I might just wing it.
Get tic tacs or some other similar type stuff - Try to remember tomorrow on the way.
Become master of all time and space so that I can remake the universe in my image and also not have to wait in lines so much - Working on it. (I have discovered a truly remarkable proof but it is too big for the margins of this LJ post.)
Final Shave, Shower, and Dressing (remember, pants!) - Tomorrow before I leave

I think that's all I can think of that I need to do, if I think of more I'll add them later.
 
 
Number 6
04 August 2013 @ 05:10 am
Happy Birthday foxfyre!!!!!!
 
 
Number 6
20 July 2013 @ 01:32 pm
And not any good reason, just been sort of meh and not had much to say that felt worthy of a post on its own. But there have been a few things building up that, maybe collectively, work.

First, OMG Heat Wave of death these last couple days, but it's finally over. Not as cool as I might like, but at least it's reasonably comfortable. I suppose in the end it wasn't all that bad, I'd suffered through worse and longer (as have others), but it was at the point where I couldn't do much beyond lie back and blerg.

Secondly, I got my first smartphone! Which also happens to be my first cell phone. Except, aside from receiving a couple spam text messages, I haven't yet used as a cell phone, despite having to buy 3 months service to get the phone (it was discounted a fair bit though so, in the end, I came out ahead). Heck, nobody even asked for my number. But really, all I wanted it for was so that I could be out and about and access free wifi, and for the 13mp camera that I can use when going to Toronto Fan Expo. I'll get to that in a moment, but for the record, it's a Sony Xperia T, that they're selling as the James Bond phone because apparently he used it in Skyfall. So therefore I assume it can also be made to explode or let out a smokescreen or shoot tranquilizer darts, but I haven't pressed all the buttons yet. Otherwise, it's nice, takes a little getting used to the interface, and typing can be an annoying chore, but I'm getting better at it. I've already loaded a few free SF books on it so I have something to read on hand whenever I carry it, and a few free games and a police scanner so I can figure out if they're closing in on me! Well, actually, every time I've tried the scanner in my area, it doesn't seem to get anything (the transit police and fire department ones work), and I don't believe the police want me for anything, so I'm good. Actually, I haven't really taken it 'out in the wild' yet, since I first set it up, the farthest I've gone with it is the laundry room. That's because I want to ensure it survives, unwet and undamaged by the rigors of work, and unstolen, at least until the end of August. I'll take it out on baby steps (once I get some kind of waterproof container in case of rain), maybe when I visit my grandmother this week, but I'm taking it slow. I also plan to root my phone (for many reasons, but not the least of it is to delete the annoying bloatware apps I never plan to use but are by default undeleteable), but again, not until after August. Why then?

Toronto Fan Expo, of course. Yeah, I'm planning on going this year. After all, Nathan Fillion AND Gina Torres will be there. How could I not? (Morena Baccarin will also be there but I already have her signature on my Firefly boxed set, so, she's not enough, on her own, to go). A number of other cool people too, but I doubt I'll be collecting any other signatures... they cost so much these days, so I save it for the ones I really like. I do also hope to hook up with Adrian Alphona (err, not in the romantic sense, although I DO like his art an awful lot and it might be hard to say no if he asked! ;)), and see if I can get a commission done, because he's one of the few artists I would be willing to pay for. But I think the only way it'll work is if I can contact him in advance and just pick it up at the con.

I will not be wearing a costume (aside from my usual Blue Sun shirt)... still haven't thought of any I could pull off, much less assembled one. But I will enjoy seeing all the other costumes and, with my phone, hopefully will have a camera better able to capture some of them!

That's about all the big personal news I have (lame as it is), so let's move on to the 'discussing other media' portion of my post! This time I'll leave the Book Foo to the end. First, since it's relatively fresh news, let's talk Veronica Mars. At the SDCC, they released the first look at the movie footage! You can see it here! It's pretty much finished filming already, and really, I'm astounded not just at the fact that they managed to get it kickstarted, but also how many people from the original series they got back to make appearances. I mean, virtually everybody I wanted to see (who was still alive when the series ended), they got, with maybe one exception (and he was, though not dead, written out pretty definitively, and, with these people, might even still be coming as a surprise). And a lot of the actors seem super eager to be back, and have been recording thank you messages. The best of all of them, was indubitably Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas)'s awesome video where he clearly spent a lot of time and effort in it (and pulled in guest stars!). Seriously, you gotta watch. Well, you don't gotta, but it's fun.

Other news? Game of Thrones is over, good season... Falling Skies is ongoing, enjoying it, but not wowed. Defiance got a little better... also not wowed, but it was watchable, at least. Still waiting on Korra season 2, and beyond that, it's pretty much just the fall season I have to look forward to (well, I still gotta watch S2 of Continuum but I've been slacking). Oh, and Under the Dome, which was... disappointing. Not for the changes, I actually like MOST of them, but... I dunno, it feels too episodic (like 'ZOMG PLAGUE!' episode that gets comes up and gets resolved in that episode) and at times doesn't really treat the premise with the seriousness it deserves (for the most part everybody seems to be just going about their business as normal... and as I read somewhere else... they've been Domed for how many days now and they haven't had a big town meeting to discuss the issue and the possibilities?). It just makes for a big lack of tension. I'm still watching, but it hasn't met my hopes, and my hopes weren't all that high.

Movies? Nothing really new, though I did watch the Evil Dead remake (okay, bit too gory for my tastes, but even there I appreciate the effort that went into making that look good), Oz The Great and Powerful (reasonably cute), Superman Unbound (decent but kind of forgettable, except for one awesome Lois scene... really needed Nathan Fillion though, since it had two other Castle stars!), Jack the Giant Slayer (also decent-but-forgettable), John Dies at the End (funny at times, decent plot ideas, didn't think it came together completely, but I'd be willing to see a sequel). Oh, and Justice League, New Frontier... which I liked mostly (and I'm kinda surprised how occasionally explicit DC's willing to be in these animated movies... maybe not compared to other action movies, but at least far more than in TV cartoons. But I approve.)

And I guess that leaves us with books. As usual, mostly just cut and pasting my reviews from Goodreads.

Finished: The Living Dead, (short story collection)

A collection of zombie tales, with a variety of tones and even a variety of types of zombies. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge (reread)

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Finished: A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge (reread)
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Finished: Vortex, by Robert Charles Wilson

Vortex is the third book in the series that started with Spin. Spin was a great work of science fiction, seamlessly weaving incredible science fiction concepts with believable human drama, and it ended with a tease for wonder-inspiring stories to come. (More behind the cut, spoiler-free version: Okay, disappointing as a followup to Spin, but less so than the previous sequel)
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Finished: The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, by Vernor Vinge

Short version: A few great stories, but the collection as a whole is probably worth it only for superfans.
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Finished: Crypto-Punk, by George Traikovich (received free!
A sinister force is changing some of the kids at Bixby Elementary school, but as a new fad called "Crypto-Punk" takes hold at the same time, only a few ten-year-olds notice any problem, and have to act to stop it.

Full disclosure: I received this book for free through Goodreads' First Reads program. When I signed up to receive the book, it wasn't entirely clear what age-group it was targeted towards... the fact that it was set at an Elementary school suggested it skewed young, but not every book about kids is geared towards them, and Elementary school covers a wide range of ages. But upon reading it, it's pretty clear this is targeted towards preteens and early teens, at about the same level as the first Harry Potter book. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
This is an acclaimed Japanese SF novel (read in translation), about a common soldier fighting on the front lines against alien invaders who've ravaged much of the Earth. It's his very first battle, and despite the technological Jacket he wears and the weaponry he carries, he dies... only to wake up 30 hours earlier, before the battle starts. And then it happens again.

It's basically a "Groundhog Day" plot, grafted on to an action SF plot about fighting a swarm of aggressive aliens with no personality. He uses his loops to get better but somehow can't avoid dying and returning back to the start. Read more...Collapse )
So, on the whole, I'm pleased. I have a feeling it's probably going to be more enjoyable than the inevitable Tom Cruise movie adaptation (that's not a random slam, there literally is one on the way).

Finished: Children of the Sky, by Vernor Vinge (reread)
This is the long-awaited sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, set about a dozen years later, with Ravna Bergsndot and what were once the children of a science lab that caused a galactic disaster, trapped on the world of the Tines, a species based on small hive-minds made up of four or more dog-like creatures that, only collectively, make up people. Ravna's doing her best to advance the world's technology level, for she fears that a monstrous evil is still on its way to destroy them all, decades in the future... only she discovers that the greatest threats might be closer to home.

The first time I read this, I was probably too excited about finally having it to really evaluate it objectively. On this, my second read through... I'm probably still too excited, but it's easier to notice and admit the flaws.Read more...Collapse )

Started: The Rapture of the Nerds, by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow
Started: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons (reread)

Okay, 6 out!
 
 
Number 6
11 July 2013 @ 01:42 pm
Happy birthday fiddlersgreen!!!!!!!!
 
 
Number 6
08 July 2013 @ 06:51 am
Happy birthday lizrocks!!
 
 
Number 6
04 July 2013 @ 09:18 pm
Happy birthday djinni!

Also, Happy Bithday USA.
 
 
Number 6
01 July 2013 @ 05:03 pm
Happy birthday prim_rose_etta!

Also, Happy Bithday Canada.

I have a feeling I may have missed a few birthdays in the past couple weeks... if you were one, I apologize, and wish you had a happy one...
 
 
Number 6
07 June 2013 @ 06:13 pm
Happy Birthday tonkssunshine!!!
 
 
Number 6
15 May 2013 @ 01:21 pm
Happy Birthday hayzil, wherever you are!
 
 
Number 6
13 May 2013 @ 03:22 pm
Been a while since I posted one of these..

Finished: Queen of Candesce, by Karl Schroeder (Virga, book 2) (reread)

Already read and reviewed here but I'll cut and paste my Goodreads review (as I've done for pretty much all of these). Read more...Collapse )

I think it may be the weakest of the series, but it's still enjoyable and well worth reading.

Finished: To Challenge Chaos, by Brian Stableford

To Challenge Chaos tells the story of a world, Chaos X, which is half in our universe and half in another, a dimension where people can survive bodily death, and where one man has set up his own kingdom. Several travelers take the trip to this other dimension, each for their own reasons. Short version: mostly forgettable, but a few good qualities worthy of note.Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Pirate Sun, by Karl Schroeder (Virga, book 3) (reread)

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Finished: The City and the City, by China Miéville

A police procedural set in two fictitious European cities with a bizarre relationship. They exist in the same spot, with some areas being entirely in one city, and others being entirely in another, and some shared... however, by an extreme cultural taboo that is also law, it is illegal to interact with, cross over to, or even give any attention to the neighboring city or anybody declared to be inside it, even if they're right in front of you, except through one designated border. But when a murder victim turns out, and evidence suggests they may have been killed in the other city, Inspector Tyador Borlu has find justice for the victim... even if that means a journey across the border.

It's a bit of a weird book, and hard to classify, Read more...Collapse )

A bit of an addendum to this review just for LJ... I could see Mieville being a good guest writer for Doctor Who, and in fact, in some alternate universe, this particular setting (maybe set on an alien planet) could have made a great one for a Doctor Who ep, with 'Breach' being the episode's bogeymen (which may not be all bad). But yeah, I think he might have the right kind of creative mind to both do a good story and introduce some truly weird novel concepts.

Finished: Bios, by Robert Charles Wilson

Short version: Meh.

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Finished: The Sunless Countries, by Karl Schroeder (Virga, book 4) (reread)

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Finished: Time Spike, by Eric Flint and Marilyn Kosmatka
A mysterious event catapults an Illinois prison back to the age of the dinosaurs... along with scattered groups of others in the area throughout history. With no idea how they got there and no way back, the group must survive all the dangers both outside of the prison... and within.

This is part of a specific subgenre of SF... I'm not even sure if it has a name. I go back and forth between calling them Cut-and-Paste Settings and Patchwork Fiction... the idea is that some large area is taken out of its normal setting and then pasted onto another, like you were patching a pair of jeans, usually a different time but it could just as easily be another world or dimension. Sometimes multiple patches are taken from multiple places. Usually the displaced area constitutes a particular community of people, maybe a particular military group or a small town, or, in this case, a prison full of dangerous criminals. Usually the how is unimportant: the story is all about what happens next, suddenly cut off from the world they know and interacting in a new one. Short version: Mildly enjoyable as a brainless adventure, but too simplistic to be called 'good'.
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Finished: Ashes of Candesce, by Karl Schroeder (Virga, book 5 (conclusion))
Leal Maspeth returns to Virga carrying a message, an offer of alliance against the forces that have been trying to infiltrate and destroy her home. But that assumes that it's not merely another trick by those same forces, as the alliance against her is claiming the same thing. Ultimately, Leal and many of the heroes of earlier in the series must make their choices and take their stands to decide the fate of Virga.

This book is intended as a conclusion to the entire series, so it has a lot to live up to. I think it does a pretty good job, Read more...Collapse )

Started: The Living Dead, (short story collection)
Started: A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge (reread)

Okay, now that's done...

Outside of books... well, enjoying Game of Thrones. Doctor Who... not so much, it's been a little bland. Even Gaiman's episode fell pretty flat (although it's pretty clear a lot was cut out... maybe they should have just made it a two-parter, heaven knows we have a lot of useless we could have cut this year!) I really think there needs to be a change in the showrunners, just for new blood's sake. And if not...

I think they need to change how they do things. For one, stop with the big mysteries. They never really live up to the hype, and, lately, they're getting in the way of the stories themselves. Just have great adventures... no huge foreshadowing, either... great adventures and a great finale that doesn't just answer the question "What's the big deal with all that foreshadowing?" but where something big and dramatic actually happens. And companions that are interesting for their own merits (maybe being from another time or planet) rather than trying to make them interesting because they're a "mystery".

Because, there are two big mysteries teased this season. The mystery of Clara, and the Doctor's Name. And the truth is, I don't really care about either of them. Clara, okay, slightly, but I bet it'll be overcomplicated and not make much sense. The Doctor's name... should just have been left alone. If you'd just dropped it in, in one episode as a surprise revelation, okay, that'd be one thing, but to constantly tease it and make the "Doctor Who?" joke and make a whole religion devoted to the question not being answered and foreshadowing a point where it will be... there's no way you can live up to that and make it anything worthwhile. Either it's something silly to take the piss and make the whole exercise into a little bit of a joke, it's a name that means nothing to us and it feels self-important and indulgent to make such a big deal with it, or it's some kind of name with meaning (Rassilion or something connected to him) that needlessly complicates his story. Or they drag back that "Half Human" thing again and reveal that his name actually is I.M. Foreman, not a Time Lord name at all. None of them sound appealing to me, and they should have realized that in advance.

Oh, and apparently the BBC screwed up and shipped out the dvd sets of the last half of this season early... INCLUDING the finale. So some random people have already seen it. I know nothing about it so far, but if you're especially spoilerphobic you might want to avoid looking at stuff for a while. Or you might find out too early that Clara is made of chocolate.

Networks have announced some of their new shows... Agents of SHIELD is the only 'must watch', although there's a "android/human buddy cop" series called Almost Human that might be worth a look (I just wish it wasn't by JJ Abrahms), and a couple others that I'll at least check out the first episode for.
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Number 6
13 May 2013 @ 02:46 pm
Happy Birthday locker_monster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have a good one!
 
 
Number 6
01 May 2013 @ 12:13 pm
Happy Birthday to 80sfiend!!!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Number 6
26 April 2013 @ 05:41 am
Happy Birthday to anomilygrace and donna_c_punk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Number 6
24 April 2013 @ 02:02 pm
Happy birthday celisnebula and, happy belated birthday to gaymuffin!

I might have missed a couple others, sorry, I've been a little bleh and disconnected lately.
 
 
Number 6
18 April 2013 @ 11:58 am
Just a roundup of some recent-ish TV-related thoughts I've been saving up.

Walking Dead ended... it was pretty good, but (major spoilers ahoy if you haven't seen it) Read more...Collapse )

Game of Thrones started... not much to say on it, but still really enjoying it.

Supernatural's still in the hack writing mockworthy stage, but I have to especially mock something in the latest new episode (spoilers... it's the Sam's second "trial" one) Read more...Collapse )

Doctor Who... I don't know. I like Clara so far, although I wish we got one of the other versions we saw rather than the one we did. First episode was okay, second started great but they blew the ending (more later), and third episode I mostly liked.

My main problem right now is with the writing for the character itself. And it's not a new problem, it's been going for a long time, it's just starting to grate on me more and more the more they continue it.

1) The Doctor as know-it-all tour guide.
I love that he's a smart character.

But a thousand years old is not enough to see a whole universe, particularly when you've got not just all of time, but time and space. Which means that for him to know everything about every race he comes across... he's gotta be revisiting the places he knows well a lot. And that bears it up, I looked up past episodes, and was hard pressed to find one where the Doctor and his companions visit somewhere he's never been, just for the hell of it. There were a few times where circumstances, accidents or distress calls have dragged them to places they've never been before (but usually with a familiar threat), but most of the time, they're trying to get to places he knows. There might have been two-three cases in the entire New Who era where he's got a goal other than that. They're always visiting places he's either been at some other time, or heard a lot about, and so the Doctor can point out all the alien races and know their particular quirks. And of course, Earth, but that's part of the show and you're never going to get rid of that, but I'd like the episodes where they're away from Earth to break that mold. That's my problem, the doctor is no longer an EXPLORER. He's a tour guide.

I want a companion, when asked where they want to go, to say, "I want to go someplace you've never been, a place you've barely even heard of, where you don't already know everything about what's going on." But mostly I want the Doctor to WANT to go to new places. Because as it is, he doesn't so much have to rely on being clever, he has to rely on already knowing the right thing. He doesn't have to figure out what an alien creature's motives and desires are, he just has to know that particular alien race so he can point it out to the audience and companion and explain what they want. And that's easier to write, because it's the LAZY way to do it.

This attitude seems to creep into writing in other ways, a sort of laziness I noticed, which brings me to Episode 2 of the new half-series, the Rings of Akhenaten. It started out okay, except of course, Doctor was playing know-it-all tour guide AGAIN, but the ending combined two of my least favorite and laziest endings. Spoilers, ahoy, both for it and "The Cold War", which I use to contrast. Read more...Collapse )

Anyway, that's enough of that, let's move on...

And the newest of the SF series to debut is "Defiance", created by Rockne S. O'Bannon, who was behind Farscape. And you can see some Farscape influences here... made-up swear words, a set of well-designed alien races, as humanoid ones go, anyway, (except the white haired ones look a little too much like bad costumes), a female heroine who isn't particularly "nice" and "approachable".. it's almost like they were trying to catch lightning in a bottle and create "Farscape set on a future Earth". And I do like the alien races (and the alien Doctor is kind of my favorite character so far, despite only having a handful of lines). But the whole thing feels a little... the word that keeps jumping to mind is "stilted". Awkward, artificial... it doesn't feel like a real world, like Farscape usually managed, it feel like... well, it feels like a video game world brought to life, which in some ways it is. Too many plot points I called in advance and dialogue that I too often cringed at. But, pilots are sometimes pretty weak, often the weakest outings of the series, and I'll give it a little time to find its legs. Right now, though, I'm not confident.

Syfy did announce recently a slate of new SF series, some of which sound like they have potential, but, with that channel, I don't have my expectations that high. (They also announced minis based on Ringworld and Childhood's End, which I'd love to see but have little confidence in)

Cartoons... now that Young Justice is cancelled, nothing really to look forward to until Korra S2 premieres, I guess. Are there any other good cartoons on that I'm missing?

Oh, and Continuum S2 starts this Sunday, so I guess that's worth a look.
 
 
Number 6
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/matt-smith-announces-leaving.html


Matt Smith leaves Doctor Who, next Doctor chosen by reality competition
March 31, 2013

Matt Smith to give up famous role, BBC commissions reality show to choose replacement

Just one day after the return of Doctor Who, the BBC has today confirmed long-standing rumors by announcing that Matt Smith will be leaving the hit show after the next series, leaving behind the newest companion Jenna-Louise Coleman.

But the surprise announcement didn't end there... for the first time ever, fans will be given the chance to help chart the direction of the show, with the debut of the new reality competition "Who's Who?" which will give excited hopefuls the chance to audition to play the twelfth regeneration of the iconic character of the Doctor.

"Playing the Doctor is, and I suspect always will be, the greatest thing to ever happen to my career." Smith told BBC Radio 3. But with that honor comes a great responsibility, that of passing the torch, and really, I can't think of a more exciting way to do it."

Smith will continue through the 50th Anniversary special, and this year's Christmas special, but plans to leave some time in series 8. Starting in May, auditions will begin to replace him... but, instead of the usual closed-door sessions, they'll be open and on camera. Following the mold of successful shows like How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do, and Over The Rainbow, the role will be chosen as part of an interactive reality competition. Thousands are expected to apply, and the panel of judges will select only a few dozen to move on and, over the course of two hour-long episodes, winnow the list down to a top ten. "I'm going to be one of the judges," Smith confirmed, "Along with Stephen [Moffat], and Jenna[-Louise Coleman] of course, because she'll have to work with them. And we're hoping to get past Doctors and companions involved, but that's really up to Stephen."

Stephen Moffat will executive produce the new competition, as well as judge, and was also the one to pitch the idea to BBC One. "I first had the idea to do this with casting a companion," Moffat revealed, "until Jenna came around and blew us all away. But when you think about it, the Doctor is the ideal choice for this type of show. Some of the best Doctors were previously relatively unknown, and, unlike a completely new character, you have something to work with. You can always recognize the Doctor-ness in somebody, and yet at the same time, he's always subtly different. Usually it's the producers who decide what the next Doctor will be like, but why not let fans help chart the course of the show they love so much? Who better than the viewers to answer my favorite question, 'Doctor Who?' for the next generation."

Hopefuls who make it past the first auditions will be subjected to a series of challenges, including designing their own unique look for the Doctor, and performing in special Doctor Who webisodes filmed on the TARDIS and written specifically for the competition.

"This really is open to everybody," Moffat promised. "Any race, any gender, any age, any type of personality, as long as you can act, you have a shot and it will be the fans who ultimately decide... Who's Who."

Over the next week, a selection of sample speeches will be posted to the BBC's Doctor Who site for those hoping to audition. Anyone auditioning will be expected to pick one and perform it in front of the judges, from memory. The first one is presented here:

"People are always so afraid of being wrong. And of course we want to be right, but if you're right all the time, there are no surprises, no discoveries. I'd rather be clever than right. If you're clever, you can be wrong twenty times a day and everything still turns out okay, because you're always learning. If you turn out to be wrog, made to look the fool, so what? I'm telling you, April, fools are the best!"


I'm going to miss Smith more than I did Tennant, but change is always nice. I don't know about the whole competition thing though... interesting, I guess?