Thursday, September 30, 2010

Converting WHAT to 3D !!?

Oh Tim, tell me it ain't so!!!

In the "urp I think I am going to lose my cookies" department, Tim Sayell sends me a link to a Yahoo entertainment article. From George Lucas himself - Lucasfilm is going to convert all six "Star Wars" films into 3D format. George plans on starting with The Phantom menace and then release another film once a year until the whole series is complete. This is to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original "Star Wars" release. Though there hasn't been an exact release date for each movie.

My question is and has to be WHY? We have seen what the results have been when it comes to spur of the moment conversions. Offerings that are for all intents unwatchable! The last airbender didn't teach anyone anything?! How many times is Lucas going to squeeze this grape? Even in original release, the movie's audience shrank and the subsequent re-releases have done little to grown a substantial fan base. (now dont get me wrong, Star Wars fans are among the most loyal (flinch flinch) but it is a core group that has to admit that isn't growing at such a phenomenal rate that would make this project viable) The Avatar 3d project failed to wow me. It never for an instant convinced me that I was "IN" a real environment. I can't imagine an add on after the fact effect being worth the outlay.

Nope, I will pass here.

Yahoo article

Goldilocks Planet! Just Right!

You have to figure that when Tim and Dan both find this article exciting, you have to pay attention.
Here is what is going on:

Astronomers, first time, have spotted a planet that circles a star called Gliese 581. It's about 120 trillion miles away. This planet is the first to be uncovered that orbits its' primary in the "life" zone. This zone allows for conditions that would support life as we know it. Not too far from its star, not too close. So it could contain liquid water. The planet itself is neither too big nor too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere.

From the Yahoo article:
  • (the planet) is about three times the mass of Earth, slightly larger in width and much closer to its star — 14 million miles away versus 93 million. It's so close to its version of the sun that it orbits every 37 days. And it doesn't rotate much, so one side is almost always bright, the other dark. Temperatures can be as hot as 160 degrees or as frigid as 25 degrees below zero, but in between — in the land of constant sunrise — it would be "shirt-sleeve weather..
This is not the first time we have heard of Gliese 581. It seems that six other planets have been found orbiting the star. Very solar indeed huh?

Read complete areticle here Yahoo article:
Wikipedia article on the Goldilocks zone

The Power of Poop

Now I know that in one form or another you are all familiar with gasification of waste products to generate electricity or for that matter, drawing of methane from landfills to do the same. So it seems to be a bit redundant to talk about the technology. But when Dan passed me this AP article in the BDN, I knew at the very least I would get a chance to do some lame poop jokes or something else scatological.

Artist Matthew Mazzotta, has an installation in a Cambridge MA dog park consisting of two steel, 500-gallon oil tanks painted a golden yellow, connected by black piping and attached to an old gaslight style street light. Yes, it's a poop converter called the "Park Spark".

The poop powered park presence is not meant to be a test bed of any sort. No it's goal is a bit more sublime. Mazzotta hopes the Park Spark will get people thinking about not wasting waste. Visitors and pet owners visiting the park say that they are seeing poop in a new light......

Poochie poop power projects themselves are nothing new. Several California cities tried to float poop projects of their own several years ago But in all instances the projects fizzled.

Mazzotta's poop project which is funded by a grant from MIT runs for a month

Huffingtonpost article

Oxygen - like you've never even considered it!

Virgin Galactic 18 months away from first flight

According to France24 via Boing Boing: Richard Branson has gone on record recently as saying that Virgin Galactic is on track to offer commercial space travel within 18 months, and that space hotels are next on the drawing board.

Galactic has already collected 45 million dollars in deposits from more than 330 people who have reserved seats aboard the six-person craft. You will recall that full ticket prices start at 200k.

Of course Branson doesn't stop at just space hotels. From the France24 article
  • "We are looking at hotels in space. We love the moon," the tycoon said, adding that he was also interested in launching "small satellites into space" for the benefit of schools and universities.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lost Apollo 11 footage found!!!

Everyone is familiar with the images of Neal Armstrong exiting the Eagle LEM. Mostly dark and blurry almost unrecognizable except for the bulky humanoid on the screen. The really disappointing fact about the first few moments of Armstrong's excursion was that it didn't HAVE to be that bad. During that short segment, NASA was panicking. The picture should have been much clearer. NASA was receiving the Luna images through the Goldstone tracking facility. Unfortunately Goldstone's settings were wrong leading to a badly degraded signal. To make matters worse, by the time the error was discovered, Armstrong had decided to start the historic walk early, leaving the United States receivers below the horizon.

These blurry images were thought to be the only images surviving of the historic walk. In Australia however, radio telescopes were being used to pickup and forward the signals to the States. Recordings were made but the film was lost in archives for many years and was badly damaged when found. What the rediscovered footage uncovers though in a few short minutes is much much clearer images that many are saying are some of the best footage of the walk. Historians and astronomers that have viewed the films said the unseen minutes were the "best quality of Armstrong descending the ladder."

Discovery News article
Boing Boing article

Driving Fast....fountain of youth?

Dan just turned me on to an article that is a real fun way to look at Einstein's predictions on relativity. The funny thing is in this discussion is I often made these same observations, when I was much younger, on time dilation, mainly from observing common occurrences while riding in a car. Relativity of course says that two object traveling at different speeds relative to each other will experience time differently. Today it is widely accepted that an object traveling at a substantial fraction of the speed of light will experience time much more slowly, relative to someone or something that is stationary (relatively speaking)

Even though a speeding car will not slow time down by much, the observational example can, however, still be very striking. This is how I would explain it. You're sitting in a car and a friend is standing outside the car and neither is moving. Time is experienced by the both of you the same. Now your friend starts walking and walks for an hour (at a normal pace he should now be about 2.5 miles ahead) Now for both, 1 hour has passed and you both have experienced it but at slightly different frames of reference. Now you accelerate your car to 60mph. You will cover the same distance in 2 minutes 30 seconds. You now continue to drive for an hour. Your friend has managed to now cover 5 miles and you 60. Speed relative to each other was vastly different, but this is where I would loose people. When you catch up to your friend at the end of that first hour you both start listening to a song that is four minutes long. At the end of the song your friend has covered roughly 900 feet. In your car, after the same 4 minutes you have covered 21120 feet or 4 four miles. Relative to your friend (or at least observationally) time would appear to be going 23 times slower (of course it isnt really, but relativity uses basically the same thought experiments ) If you put speakers outside your car, your friend would hear the sound being stretched to a lower / slower frequency which is much the same as what happens to light at the vast speeds needed to make relativity's time dilation work.

The story Dan brought me from the Los Angeles Time was the fact that even small changes have a dilation effect. Clocks at sea level run slower than counterparts on top of mountains which proves out Einstein's theory that gravity fields affect time and it has been documented since the Apollo age that clocks on high speed rockets run slower than fixed clocks.

Of course astrophysicists have long seen the effects of gravity on light and time. They have been using the gravity of suns or whole galaxies to slow time and therefor bend light allowing them to see further into the universe.

Is there really any uses past thought experiments that these effects can be useful towards? Mostly likely not in the near future. However as data streams become vastly more dense and complex, timing will become even more crucial in the future. Knowing that time runs faster off planet and slower in high speed craft could be very important to maintaining accurate timing of data streams etc.

wikipedia article on time dilation

Wikipedia article on Special Relativity

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wolverine's skeleton! " you too can have one!"

Well, not adamantium indestructible skeleton is still a bit out of reach, other research advancements have put us all a bit closer.

At present, medical implants are made of solid metal, most often titanium. This material is used for many reasons. It is strong and doesn't often reacts with a body's immune system. However I myself can attest to one of the major drawbacks. These implants are amazingly stiff even under a great deal of torque. this means that the implants being so much stronger can withstand much more loading which wears natural bone at the interface. This leads to damage of the overall repair or replacement which calls for additional surgery.

Materials engineer Yuyuan Zhao says that Titanium foam could be a a very real alternative to letting bones grow and heal naturally or using solid metal replacements. Titanium foam, being porous, would allow natural bone to grow into the voids in the metal reducing the stress on both the original bone and the implant and making the overall skeleton stronger.

According to the IO9 article:
  • The titanium foam, which is made by combining polyurethane foam with titanium powder, could be most useful in reconnecting long gaps in broken bones. It hasn't yet been approved for use in humans, but its designers are currently consulting with physicians...
There is every indication though that once approved, new titanium foam could revolutionize repairs to the human skeleton.

IO9 post

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: The Sky Crawlers

The Sky Crawlers amine movie was based on s a Japanese novel series by Hiroshi Mori. spanning five books. It follows a group of young fighter pilots involved in dogfight warfare, and is set during an alternate historical period.
Though it seems to be set in Europe possibly during WWII, it’s somewhat clear that there has been a divergence event somewhere in the early 20th or possibly earlier because land masses are not easily identifiable. Also there has been several technological advancement in places like aeronautics and medicine / DNA. In planes, many of the designs that were abandoned in our time line exist right along side what we consider more conventional airframes.

>The strangest and the part of the movie that is danced around the most is the pilots themselves. They appear to be little more than children...mid to late teens. They do not appear to age but apparently can be “killed “ in combat. Something very strange is happening to the pilots. As the movie proceeds, it becomes clearer to you if not the pilots themselves.
Next there is this war. There are hints throughout that this conflict has been going on for some time . There is an enemy named but its never anything more than that.

The overall effect is one of quiet desperation and fatalism.

The blu-ray format is somewhat wasted on this animated selection. The the detail is sharp and the colors accurate one has to hope that the extras live up to the billing. There are many many short of the making of virtually every part of the movie. One really big surprise was that the sound design came from Skywalker Ranch and it shows, some of the music and of course the Sony BD Live which again is so totally wasted. LONG load times, minimal content unless your a wide eyed collector and love to catalog you disk...this feature needs to be stripped and rethought or pass off into digital heaven.

I am not a great fan of the alternate what if genre but I am not going to base my review on taste. The movie is slow and melancholy but if you are into planes, the detail is stunning. I loved seeing the pusher prop, swept forward wings and front canard planes fly. so I will give the movie a 8 and as for extras...waste of time for the most part 5 so that gives us a somewhat high 6 which is a bit harsh, but it means, if you like the alternate type stories, go for it, might want to pass. But I can tell you to not bomb out on the movie at the credits. I did the first time through and when I re-watched the last part of the movie and credits, I gave the movie another point just for thinking it through to the end. Yes it IS an alternate reality movie but there is a strong science fiction element past this.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Comment: Banned Book Week

I think that one of the most fundamental reasons I consider reading one of my major hobbies is the freedom I have enjoyed since I started reading in earnest way back in the 60s. Not that my reading habits changed all that much during that period, I still read mostly for entertainment, but what before was satisfied by comics now required a bit more meat. Mainly I suspect it was something to do with attention span. I wanted material that would take me away for longer periods of time.

My parents never really put limits on what I read. It wasn't until much later when it came to me that not being serious readers they may have never considered books anything more than what they were fundamentally. That very likely worked in my favor, for had I been told that I must read this, I would have looked upon reading as a chore.

So I spent my formative years and early adulthood exploring the trials of the dustbowl years, the fate of indentured or otherwise in the civil war years, Idealized Polynesian society, small town social / economic strife in a small new England town in the 60s, wild adventures along the Mississippi frightening political upheaval during the 30s and 40s. It was all open to me.

Then in the 70s I discover science and science fiction. Now the past present and the future were my playgrounds. I was free to read whatever I wanted....or so I thought.

Yes, I am talking about that horror called banned books. Dan brought me some pages this week to the September 2010 issue of the AARP Bulletin. On page 39 they list some of the books banned by American schools and libraries. Even this list is astounding and frightening. There is just something inherently ugly and evil about banning books. It should be so easy, if you choose to object to and not read something fine but what gives you the right to tell me that I must adhere to your choices.

I am not going to go through the whole list. Find a copy and read the article. It is truly unbelievable. But here are some of the books that I think are well within the venue of BMU.

Animal Farm George Orwell, 1945
1984 George Orwell, 1949
Brave New World Aldous Huxley 1932
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1954
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess 1962
Slaughter House Five Kurt Vonnegut 1969

Some that might span the gap so to speak would be books like

Cujo, Stephen King 1981
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl 1961
Harry Potter books J.K. Rowlings 1997 - 2007
Lord of the Rings J.R.R. tolkien 1954

One of the most egregious occurrences has to be Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 which according to the article Ballantine sanitized editions sold to schools from 1967 to 1973 and went so far as to SELL ONLY the sanitized editions from 1973 to 1979. You have to ask why would Mr. Bradbury
allow one of his most memorable novels be butchered? Ballantine carried out this campaign without telling or asking Mr. Bradbury! Now that takes a pair right there....

Stay vigilant. I can guarantee that no matter what your political or religious views, the books that you consider as your RIGHT to have own and read are on someone else's ban list. Before you take the easy route and believe that certain people should never have access to certain books, consider your most important book and have someone take it away from you and possibly imprison you for owning it. Don't say that it can't happen because it already has, countless times. If you can justify any banning of books then you are a breath away from agreeing with them all.

September 25th to October 2nd is the American Library Association's annual Banned Books Week

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Astronaut's Fingernails - NASA's "dirty" little secret

According to an article I just read in Boing Boing, NASA has some what of a dirty secret when it come to astronauts in fact and fingernails in particular. There is no question when we consider astronauts to be a cut above. Their job is dangerous to be sure, but it is the little inconveniences that go without saying that would put most of us off.

One astronaut activity is the dream of everyone that has ever considered going into the last big frontier. That activity is extra-vehicular activity the much vaunted E.V.A. Well if diapers and caths don't put you off, it seems there is another casualty - your finger nails. Yep, extended time in a pressure suit doing eva will make your fingernails fall off. The problem is so bad that many astronauts that know that they will be doing extended EVAs will go so far as to pull their own nails off, just to get the pain and discomfort over and done with. It also appears that suit jocks with large hands suffer the most.

From the boing boing article:
  • In several cases, sustained pressure on the fingertips during EVAs caused intense pain and led to the astronauts' nails detaching from their nailbeds, a condition called fingernail delamination.
Those of us who have been paying attention remember that a couple of years ago NASA started a competition for the next generation of Suit Gloves. Now we know why!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age, or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer."

Amanda, of Books of Amanda Land blog, sends us a link for her review of Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age, or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer."
  • Have you ever wondered what it might be like to glimpse hundreds of years into the future? Would our race still be kicking or will we have completely destroyed each other? What kind of technology would we have to make life easier or even deadlier?
  • Neal Stephenson must have asked himself some of these very question when conceptualizing the world created for the novel "Diamond Age, or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer." Think you might like to check it out? Visit Books of Amanda Land at for a detailed review of "Diamond Age" and various other novels. It's absolutely mind altering.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fan made Transformer short!

Fan made movies are seriously off the hook! When home made films are taken as the real thing or backroom productions rival the multi-million dollar "pros", you just got to know that film making far from being dead is entering a somewhat second childhood. There is definitely a wild wild west feel to some of these shorts.

Take for example this Transformers fan movie. Alexander Semenov has created what he titled Transformers test film 1. The basic plot line seems to be that two eastern European gents have a bit of a transformer throw down. But twists being what they are, the addage never bring a knife to a gun fight applies. Make sure you watch the production animations at the end.

Transformers from repey815 on Vimeo.

"Alien" prequel still moving ahead

From 's blog PopWatch comes news of the ongoing prequel to the movie "Alien"

Rumor has it that Gemma Arterton, of Prince of Persia fame, might be Ridley Scott’s choice for the heroine in his latest project in the Alien franchise.

A rep from the Arterton camp is claiming though that there was no truth to the rumor. BUUUUUUUUUT EW reports that when they talked to Gemma directly, she didn't rule out the possibility.

From the article :
  • (Arterton said) “The honest truth is that Ridley Scott has approached me to meet with him about something in the next few weeks,”

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stasis from Filmmaker Christian Swegal

Wow you have got to check out this short film from Filmmaker Christian Swegal that I found on IO9 called Stasis. On the surface it appears to be a soldier with a major case of PTSD played by Reshad Strik who is terribly injured on an ice planet must live through the horrific events over and over until he remembers what really happened. His therapist is portrayed by Beau Bridges. It's science fiction thru and thru even if some of the plot lines may have been used before,and nothing is as it first appears, Swegal does a masterful reweaving of the age old questions.

IO9 says that Swegal wrote then saying that Stasis was done almost entirely with volunteer labor and donated props.

Fyi here is the VIMEO link

STASIS from Christian Swegal on Vimeo.

Books of Amanda Land reviews Stephenson's Diamond Age

Hey here is something neat. I just had a comment pop up from another blogger who does book reviews. The note said that she had a new review of Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age.

The blog is Books of Amanda Land ( and there other subjects, but the book reviews are interesting. If you haven't read Diamond Age yet, the review might prove pretty damn useful.

Abandoned Towers Magazine #6 now available!

I was just reading on the Abandoned Towers blog that issue six of the Abandoned Towers Magazine is now available! What really caught my interest is the featured story is from none other than Cat Rambo! The description from the blog is enough to peak anyone's interest. Here is the description from the bl0g:
  • Issue #6 features a marvelous story from Cat Rambo called Magnificent pigs. A heart-warming story of a small girl dying of cancer and her big brother.
Unless you're made of stone, you got to admit that it sounds interesting.

You can find the print magazine's page here

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Animation of a 300 mile asteroid hitting Earth

I know, I always seem to gravitate to these type of disaster videos. I have to say that this is one of the better that I first found on Pink Tentacle. It is a simulation of what it would be like should a 300 mile wide asteroid hit Earth. The PT article says that this video was "produced by NHK Japan and the National Film Board of Canada..." It's from a longer piece, but this 10 minute selection makes you nostalgic for the good ole days of global warming!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review: Escape Clause Edited by Clélie Rich

Review Escape Clause
Edited by Clélie Rich
pb 277pp

Escape Clause is labeled "A Speculative Fiction Anthology" and though I might take issue with anthology, it IS Speculative Fiction in the truest sense. Editor Rich has done a commendable job of straddling the gap seperating fantasy and science fiction. She has done so with thought provoking fiction and poetry from some unquestionably capable writers.

The volume contains 26 entries of poetry and short to medium short stories. The stories seem to be cleverly chosen to be read one or two at a setting time permitting. Perfect for the commute or just before dropping off for the night. I know some might consider this candy where the real meal is in the novel but from my own experience I get to experience a wider variety of talent in a shorter time. Now I could drop greats like "The world's best SF" edited by Asimov or Dangerous Visions by Ellison to really put the worth of the short story collection in perspective, but that really misses the point here - because even though it might not be in that league of collection, it holds true to the exact same premise and does it with panache.

I think everyone will recognize at least someone in this volume. It IS that well edited. I became interested when I discovered that David Kopaska-Merkel's work was going to appear and since we had run a few of his poems, which were wonderfully dark and I was curious as to what he submitted in Escape Clause. I wasn't disapointed. Another author that I had read was Leslie Brown. His Eppur Si Muove which is a classic SF tale of a machine gaining forbidden fruit, so to speak. Other tales like Phil Voyd's Mr. Bronze or Mary E. Choo's "The Drowning Poles" are very much science fiction but clearly allowed some wiggle room to bring other elements deftly into the mix but still be true to the form. Now you take Beth Dodzinski's Munsil and the Minotaur are clearly fantasy based, but given enough room to let the modern world and people mix in with it a deeply moving friendship and again you have a story that drifts back and forth over the line.

There are ghost stories, horror laced tales and others. But its the added play or elements that you start to understand speculative fiction if it were ever in doubt. The Drowning Poles is certainly a worthy example a horror and science fiction mix, but its the stories without a clear genre that I think demonstrates the "speculative" coda....Tina Connlly "On Glicker Street: A Seasonal Quartet" is an excellent example. Fantasy and Science fiction woven tightly together.

I could continue on, probably should because each story deserves to showcase it's wares. But I think you get the point. If you're curious about the genre that refuses to be classified or better still enjoy the different elements thrown together to see how they blend, then I suspect you will enjoy Escape Clause. I know I did.

Ink Oink Art Inc website

Real Life Tractor Beams!

Ok, before you start to fantasize about Star Trek gleaming beams able to pull huge ships from even more amazing distances, we are talking about something on a much smaller scale. Like microscopic least until recently.

From the article:
  • Researchers from the Australian National University have announced that they have built a device that can move small particles a meter and a half using only the power of light.
But lets put this in perspective. Up until recently, researchers could only move tiny particles over minuscule distances. By comparison, the power of A.N.U.'s device is thousands of times more powerful.

And how they accomplish this feat is in itself awe inspiring itself! A.N.U. starts with a hollow laser beam. Yes I said hollow. This hollow beam is focused around a glass bead. As the bead drifts closer to the walls of the laser, heat is produced forcing the bead back towards the center. The air in the darker center is also heated by the laser forcing the bead down the center of the beam. To force the bead back in the other direction, the team simply focuses another laser into the dark center in front of the bead, controlling it's x y and z axis and over much larger distances!

Read complete physorg article here

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Review: Kick Ass blu-ray

Kick Ass
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Matthew Vaughn Jane Goldman
Starring Aaron Johnson Christopher Mintz-Plasse Chloë Grace Moretz Nicolas Cage
Mark Strong

Let’s talk about this schizophrenic little movie for a moment.

The main theme of the movie is that of a masked vigilante. Now you’re thinking, this is hardly science fiction, but if I will review a Batman movie, this one is fair game as well. Plus there is some tech, ending mostly, that is clearly above and beyond what we have at present. Anyway, a nerdy high school student is tired of bullying, beating and muggings that seem to happen to him and others on a regular basis. He finally tries to do something about it ala Batman and winds up knifed and run over by a car for his troubles. Not to be deterred, after healing, he dons his outfit again and once again finds himself in a situation well over his head, only to be rescued by a duo that seems to be the real deal in the form of a tiny girl called Hit Girl and a Batman clone called Big Daddy. The pair are bloody violence on PCP, slicing and dicing in over the top mayhem. Kick Ass, though wildly popular, finds himself wildly outclassed, but is mistaken by the local crime boss, as the perpetrator of the deaths in his organization, vowing to put Kick ass’ head on a platter.

The schizophrenic portion of the movie comes from the director that anguished that if he made it too attractive to don a suit and fight crime, to some youngster, they might indeed do just that, So he made a point of showing the main character pummeled, knifed and run over, etc. Also the director in his commentary said that Big Daddy had brainwashed his daughter Hit Girl to think that she was just playing comic book characters, which until I heard his say it, had never seen that indication. I did get that daddy is a bit around the end because of betrayal and false imprisonment and the loss of his wife, but from Hit Girl I got the clear impression that she idolized her farther and wanted nothing more than his affection and to be acknowledged by him. That for fun they test out how effective their bullet proof armor in a rather unusual way was in my mind a manifestation of daddy’s mania. At this there is no one better than Nick Cage.

But in the end the opposing forces of the director’s reluctance to give the movie it’s head and the moments when the movie slips it’s leash and becomes wildly violent, instead of being entertaining, manage to cancel each other out. The wire work that Hit Girl does is probably the highest moments in the movie. But its not enough to make the movie even remotely memorable. Though I think the first few moments when we see Big Daddy and Hit Girl (in fact just daddy and Mindy in civies) training together with Nick Cage delivering the line “You’ll be fine Baby Doll!” in his own maniacal manner is wildly inappropriate and probably the only time you will EVER see anything close to this scene in another move, will stay with you for some time. The one thing that bothered me was the throw away role by Yancy Butler. (Witchblade & Mann & Machine) basically onscreen for less than a minutes and has what...1 line?! What a shame.

The extras on the blu ray are something to talk about though. commentaries, deleted scenes, artwork and blu ray specific extras, tells me that a LOT of effort went in to using the blu ray format and giving the renter or purchaser some excellent value added material. So I would give the extras on this disk a solid 10. If you liked the movie, then you are going to REALLY like the blu-ray. Though the movie in my mind is just not that good. Yes it was well cast and acted. The special effects were good without stealing the show. So that makes it a much better film that say Hot Tub Time Machine. However I really just didn’t have any solid reaction to Kick Ass. Nerdy guys is tired for being the brunt of all that is wrong in his world, decides to do something about it and fails in spectacular fashion, but manages to grow a pair in the last 15 know the drill. I would be hard pressed to give it any more than 6....maybe 7 so that makes the movie an overall 8 or 8.5...... yeah that works for me. If you liked the movie in the theater, the blu-ray is for you. If you gave it a pass in the theater, do the same here.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Issue 147 of AntipodeanSF now online

The editor of Antipodean online flash fiction magazine writes to tell us that
  • Issue 147 of AntipodeanSF, the premier online down-under speculative flash fiction magazine is now online.
  • You can find AntipodeanSF at the usual URL:
Thanks Ion. Here is a list of this month's titles that you can fine at the site:

Hope's Last Cigar Jake Wickenhofer
The Day The Artists Left David Gray
Starry Eyed Trio: Space Twins David Kernot
Machined Lust Benjamin Hayes
Sane Planet Rob Bleckly
Uncertainty Shaun A. Saunders
The Fisherman Wayne Marshall
Redcord MacroNanoEngine in Error State Sean Monaghan
Hayseed And I Wes Parish
The Steal PM Freestone

10 Science Fiction Themes you find Over & Over

Good, bad or indifferent - there are themes in science fiction that one kindly might observe are recurring. I found this list on IO9 and it did get me thinking. I think this is a good starting point. I did like the way they broke out the themes. The basic "first time" an idea was put into play. This list is by no means definitive and I am sure that any and all of us could add articles or expand on alternatives to what is already listed. However the list here is certainly thought provoking, even though many of us might have issue with some of the inclusions. Like in #10 I would think Dr. Manhattan would be a good modern twist huh?

1. Robots:
The Forerunner: Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
The Iconic: Isaac Asimov Positronic Robot
The Modern Twist Bladrunner Nexus

2. Interstellar Travel:
The Forerunner: Lensman by E.E. "Doc" Smith
The Iconic: The Iconic: George Lucas's Star Wars.
The Modern Twist anything Stargate

3. Time Travel:
The Forerunner Hg wells Time Machine
The Iconic "—All You Zombies—" by Robert Heinlein.
The Modern Twist: Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future

4. Superpowers:
The Forerunner: Superman by Joel Siegel and Joe Schuster.
The Iconic: Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
The Modern Twist: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

5. Bodily Transformation:
The Forerunner: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Iconic: The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
The Modern Twist: David Cronenberg's The Fly.

6. Parallel Universe:
The Forerunner: Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott.
The Iconic: "Mirror, Mirror", Star Trek. The classic 1967 episode.
The Modern Twist: Fringe.

7. Alien Invasion:
The Forerunner: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
The Iconic: Every Doctor Who episode, 1970 through 1974.
The Modern Twist: Neill Blomkamp's District 9.

8. Immortality:
The Forerunner: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
The Iconic: "Long Live Walter Jameson", The Twilight Zone.
The Modern Twist: The Highlander franchise.

9. The Post-Apocalyptic World:
The Forerunner: Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon.
The Iconic: George Miller's The Road Warrior.
The Modern Twist: The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

10. Godlike Aliens:
The Forerunner: H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos
The Iconic: 2001, Rendezvous with Rama, & Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.
The Modern Twist: Doctor Who 2005-2010.

There is quite a bit of discussion in the article. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Review: Burning Skies by David J. Williams

Burning Skies by David J. Williams
Spectra / Ballantine trade pb 401pp

The first thing I should say about Burning Skies is that it is part two of a trilogy. I honestly didn't know that until I read the author page at the back. The book has been written to accommodate those readers that didn't get the first episode. I can't say that it is rife with flashbacks as you would expect. Burning Skies stands on it's own very well indeed.

The next thing I have to say is that Burning Skies is almost impossible to lay down! Why? Because it quite literally is crammed with non stop action! Just as the speed of the tale slows a bit, Williams shifts perspective and point of view and the reader is off once more at frenetic speed.

The novel is filled with political intrigue, military maneuvering, absolutely stunning rolling gun battles and there is still time for some dialogue! You would think with all this action that one would be left with cardboard cut out characters, and though they might not be “complete” (and there may very well be a reason for that....) Williams has done a credible job of rounding out the players.

If you go by the book cover you would almost expect that it's all a “one person show” when in fact this mysterious player Haskell seems to be playing from the shadows, in truth most of the perspective is from ground pounders though there are hints early on that they may be more to several of them than we are lead to believe early on.

The plot is easy enough to get a grip on. An insurgent / terrorist group called Autumn Rain wants to put mankind under their control. To that end they have disrupted or destroyed the net and assassination of the president. From there they work on the destruction of the Europa Platform. Huge asteroid based habitats.

How Williams keeps all the players and action under control is a mystery to me, but he does it and the hat trick produced from all this plate spinning is The Burning Skies. This isn't a space opera and neither is it a take of introspection. But don't think you have this book figured out in the first hundred or so pages. Williams plays some cards very close. So close in fact that I have had to revisit sections of the tale for those “oh yeah! Ok, I see it now” moments.

I honestly think that if I can say running gun battles and your pulse goes up, that you will enjoy this book. Or political intrigue played by a master gets you will enjoy the book. There are no larger than life people here, just a bunch of people that honestly believe in what they are doing...even if what they are doing or believe in was someone else's invention.... Check it won't be disappointed.