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Pointless Pre-Labor Day post

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Because I’ve been on a sci-fi/fantasy kick all summer and am bored, here’s a meme from Tor.com, via Good Math, Bad Math. The last three genre books purchased.

As it happens, I bought four at once just about a month ago and since I’ve only finished two of them, I’ll mention all four. That evens out to three, right?

  1. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. I read Old Man’s War earlier this summer and thought it was decent entertainment. Mostly because his blog is so entertaining, I bought this, even though Old Man’s War wasn’t good enough for me to be really excited about a sequel. It’s military SF, standard colonization of space type stuff. Old people can sign up for service with the Colonial Defense Force and get their consciousness transferred to a new body. The CDF also engineers people specifically to be soldiers, using the consciousness of those who didn’t quite make it to the transfer part (hence the name “ghost brigades”). TGB follows one of those soldiers. It’s not as good as Old Man’s War, but it still qualifies as decent entertainment. The universe is explained a little more and some of it is interesting, but the book really drags. I liked the end, though. So it’s a book I’m not enthusiastic about, but it’s a quick, enjoyable read.
  2. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. I love this book. The planet is put inside a sort of cosmic sphere where time is massively slowed down. This leads to all manner of reactions, which are all fascinating. As are the characters. Wilson’s writing is superb and the answers to the mysteries of the “spin” are suitably mind-blowing. I’ve not read anything like this, but my exposure to genre sci-fi is relatively small. It’s easily on the list of my favorite books and makes a strong case for the top spot (it’ll have to fight 1984 for it). There’s apparently a sequel (called Axis), which I’m too scared to read, lest it sully my enjoyment of this book. I’ll get to it eventually.
  3. Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod. Maybe it was because I had just finished Spin, but I only made it through a third of this. There are two main storylines, one of which is a near future that deals with first contact with an alien race and the other a far future that has space travel and castles. The near future one was vaguely interesting, though the name dropping of “legacy” software was grating for some reason (I know exactly what he’s talking about, so it’s not that I don’t understand it). The far future storyline/world was just really unappealing. It was also confusing, mostly because I didn’t care enough to pay attention after a certain point. The writing is decent enough and I suppose if you find the world engaging you’ll like it, but it apparently isn’t for me and I decided to not waste my time on it.
  4. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. I’m not very far in this one (couple hundred pages), but it’s good so far. It’s more space opera and has an odd structure, with a few storylines that aren’t necessarily happening at the same time. It’s strange, but it’s working well enough. I haven’t really been pulled into it yet, but it’s engaging enough to keep me reading. Unlike Cosmonaut Keep.

Are these books “comfortable” together? Well, given that all but one is space opera, I’d have to say yes. I don’t know why I bought a bunch of space opera, but there you go.

Categories: Culture

To the Moon!

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Tor has lots of posts with various sci-fi types remembering the Moon landing. Recommended.

With all this comes people advocating a manned Mars mission.

I don’t know. I don’t think getting all starry-eyed when remembering the Moon landing is a reason to go to Mars. The space program is a good thing, but putting a man on Mars? Meh. I can’t bring myself to advocate for policies based on a sense of wonder.

Categories: Culture, Science

Random thought

May 19, 2009 3 comments

The number of movies I’ve seen based on Philip K. Dick books makes it difficult to find an unsullied PKD reading experience.

On the plus side, the A Scanner Darkly movie made little sense to me, so maybe that’s the way to go.

I heard Obama gave a speech at Notre Dame. How’d that go?

I’m going on vacation tomorrow to the land of the wood paneled K-Mart. I will hopefully have a report on the continuing struggle of the immigrant proletariat against the bourgeoisie’s corrupt tourist economy.

Needless to say, serious thoughts are scarce.

Categories: Culture

Helmets…for seals

May 16, 2009 Leave a comment

You knew that, but this is still strange, even for them. In response to Joystiq’s request for their thoughts about a seal-clubbing minigame for Overlord II, they said this:

In real life, seals don’t have helmets and can’t fight back, but perhaps you’ll soon see PETA-made helmets for baby seals in Canada.

I think PETA have finally reached the pinnacle of absurdity: a statement so ridiculous that it can’t be mocked. It’s almost a perfect representation of their lunacy, only missing their trademark offensiveness (holocaust on a plate, anyone?).

Bravo, PETA.

Categories: Culture, Silliness

Star Trek

May 10, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m not much of a Star Trek guy. I’ve seen a few of the more recent movies (First Contact being the good one I’ve seen) and a smattering of TNG and DS9 episodes. This is due mostly to laziness, not any dislike of the universe. With that out of the way, the movie was fantastic. It’s not particularly deep (which I’ve seen complaints about), but it was thoroughly entertaining. There’s very little in the way of plot (we must stop evil bad guy from reaching Earth!), so it’s essentially a story about the characters. It’s amazing to me how much I know about these characters simply from pop culture. I’ve seen just a part of one episode of TOS and I rarely felt lost when the ST fans in the audience laughed or applauded the references to the series.

Now that they’ve started things off with a bang, I’m looking forward to where they go next (assuming sequels).

Other assorted thoughts: Nokia! Dr. Cameron is Kirk’s mom! Carson Beckett somehow managed to sneak into Starfleet’s barracks. Sticking Scotty in some kind of water tube contraption was dumb.

Categories: Culture

Twitter is indefensible

April 28, 2009 2 comments

Matt Yglesias tries to defend using Twitter for political commentary. Is it just me, or is “blame the user, not the medium” pretty weak? No medium can make a bad commentator good, but it can certainly be ill-suited to a task. No one is tweeting investigative journalism.

Claire McCaskill claims she uses it to “drive thought and discussion.” I dare you to reconcile that with what’s there right now. There are comments about her schedule, personal comments, and approximately four comments that you could claim drive discussion. One of them is a one word comment on Specter (“Wow”) and another is a generic statement of support for Kathleen Sebelius. So I see two defensible comments. Out of twenty.

McCaskill also claim it’s a way of staying “connected.” That’s dubious and has a significant downside: her followers are more connected to her. Personally connected, given the contents of her feed. That makes them less objective when it comes to evaluating her job performance, which means she can get away with more. Maybe it’s a small effect, but being connected isn’t necessarily a plus for rational evaluation.

I don’t really care if members of Congress want to use Twitter. I have a (seldom used) Twitter account. It’s amusing. But let’s not pretend it’s a useful source of information from politicians or political commentators.

Categories: Congress, Culture, Tech

Random stuff

February 27, 2009 Leave a comment

I realize I’m like a month late, but I just got around to reading Dirk Benedict’s rant about the current BSG. You can’t not love an article with a line like this:

Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Hans Solo as Hans Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women “hand out” babies. And thus the world for thousands of years has gone’ round.

Lots more craziness. It’s great.

If you’ve run into the Internet “movie” by the name of Zeitgeist, you should give this a read. It’s a take down of the first, anti-Christianity, half of the film, where the creator tries to claim Christianity is some kind of astrological cult. It’s almost as silly as the rest of the film, but I hadn’t seen a good rebuttal until now.

Categories: Culture, Religion

Brazil? Really?

February 9, 2009 5 comments

The Corner is counting down the top 25 “conservative” movies. Number twenty two is Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

Labeling a movie conservative for depicting a totalitarian society seems like a pretty broad use of the term. Which is fine, but it give me an excuse to note that Terry Gilliam renounced his American citizenship because of no-longer-President Bush. So the director of one of the top conservative movies is apparently anti-American. Silly people.

Categories: Culture, The Right

Video games are so gay

December 4, 2008 1 comment

What? If you can’t trust conservative Christian investment firms commenting on video games, who can you trust? This is what the Timothy Plan says about Army of Two:

Gay & Lesbian: Homosexual Themes: Although never spoken of, undertones of homosexuality are present. Weaponry in the game can be decorated to be anything from diamond encrusted to gold plated. You share a parachute, and the riot shield system allows one player to use a shield or car door as portable cover while the other cuddles up close behind and dispenses “lead” from his “iron”

Sounds like an open and shut case to me. As we all know, heterosexual males are required to stand 3 feet away from each other at all times. Those who violate this rule have their membership card revoked and become vulnerable to catching the gay.

This is what happens when you lock fundamentalists in a room with a bunch of video games and tell them to find the gay ones. It just doesn’t end well.

Categories: Culture, Religion

There's a chart for everything

September 15, 2008 2 comments

This is greatly amusing. There are charts rating U.S. states by personality traits.

Montana ranks at the bottom (lowest quintile, at lease) in extraversion and agreeableness and towards the top in openness. We’re middle of the road regarding neuroticism and conscientiousness.

I don’t quite understand how we’re open but introverted; seems like those should be correlated at least weakly.

In any case, give us your poor, huddled, quiet contrarians, yearning to be left the hell alone. It’s just like the Northeast, except without the inconsiderate neurotics.

Categories: Culture
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