5.17.2015

Childhood's End and (finally) The Expanse get airdates

And in the case of The Expanse, it's about time! The bad news is that we've got quite a while longer to wait before either series graces the small screen - December. It's more than a bit odd that The Expanse is being set so late in the year, especially given that they released the trailer back in January. On the plus side, they're already writing the second season.

h/t The Wertzone.

5.13.2015

The Ares from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars

Artist: Don Dixon (via MangalaWiki)
So I'm reading Red Mars because I'm grooving for some hard-scifi at the moment and I thought the Ares, the U.S. and Russian built spacecraft that carries the first colonists to Mars was worth a post. I'm fascinated by the construction of the ship:
The ship was constructed in Earth orbit by assembling empty external fuel tanks from American and Russian space shuttles, which would also serve as landing ships, thus cutting costs compared to constructing a ship entirely out of dedicated parts. This and the repetitive nature of this construction method allowed the Ares to be completed in less than two years.
An immense ship for early 21st century standards, its primary living space was composed of eight hexagons, and each hexagon composed of six connected hollow cylinders, which previously were the fuel tanks. These eight toruses, ranging from Torus A to H, were speared down the middle by a central hub shaft. At the aft end of the shaft were the fuel tanks and main propulsion system. The front end led to a section with a bubble window, which permitted views of the stars and a partial view of the ship behind.
As a whole, the ship slowly rotated around the axis of the central shaft, providing about .38 of Earth's gravity (or Martian gravity) to the toruses.
The entire ship's living space equated to about the living area of a large city hotel. Each torus was filled with different systems: dining halls, living quarters, a farm, and even a strolling garden.
Using the external fuel tanks from space shuttles to build a ship? In real life, the tanks were disposable, jettisoned by the shuttle and left the burn up as it fell back to Earth, so the idea of repurposing them to build a ship is interesting, clever, and brilliant. Unfortunately, this option is no longer available to us since the Russians have no shuttles (except never used Buron) and NASA retired all of theirs. Still, maybe the design of the Ares could still be used if the United States and/or the rest of the world ever got off its asses and decided to go to Mars and colonize it.

4.14.2015

Yeoman Leslie Thompson holds a rather unfortunate place in Trek history

 That place? As the only female redshirt to be killed during the entire run of The Original Series. Thompson was killed in the episode "By Any Other Name" when the Kelvan Hanar turns her and another redshirt into "dehydrated porous cuboctahedron solids", which look suspiciously like sponges filled with dust or something.

Then the leader of the Kelvans, Rojan, crushes her sponge form and that's the end of Yeoman Thompson. I'm surprised that no other redshirt women were killed off in TOS. Then again, I don't think a lot of women were killed on that show. Probably didn't sit well with studio execs and censors.

Pictures via Memory Alpha.

3.31.2015

My Star Wars novel collection

Because I'm bored.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: The Paradise Snare - A.C. Crispin
  • The Lando Calrissian Adventures - L. Neil Smith
  • Death Star - Michael Reeves and Steve Perry
  • The Exploits of Han Solo: Han Solo At Stars End, Han Solo's Revenge, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy - Brian Daley
  • Shadows of the Empire - Steve Perry
  • Tales from Jabba's Palace - Various authors, edited by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Truce at Bakura - Kathy Tyers
  • X-Wing series (Rogue Squadron - Starfighters of Adumar) - Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia - Dave Wolverton
  • Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising - Timothy Zahn
  • Dark Apprentice - Kevin J. Anderson
  • I, Jedi - Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Crystal Star - Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Black Fleet Crisis: Before the Storm, Shield of Lies, and Tyrant's Nest - Michael P. Kube-McDowell
  • The New Rebellion - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Corellian Trilogy: Ambush at Corellia, Assault at Selonia, and Showdown at Centerpoint - Roger Macbride Allen
It's very incomplete, but I honestly don't think I'm going to expand it much further, except to buy The Last Command, Mercy Kill, and The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy.

Next time, my Star Trek collection.

3.27.2015

Well so much for that rumor about a new Star Trek series in the works

I was just reading an article on The Nerdist about a rumor that CBS might be developing the first new Trek TV show in over a decade and I was really hyped for it...right until I got to the end and saw that the info came from Latino Review.

Here's the thing: Latino Review isn't even remotely a reliable source. They're one of those clickbait websites that manufactures rumors in order to get pageviews. Comicbookmovie.com is much the same way.

The article did remind me about how much I pine for a new Trek show. Ten years is way too damn long. Preferably, I'd like one set in the original timeline. If the J. J. Abrams movies hadn't happened, then I'd have been keen on a TOS TV reboot. Since that won't work now, I'd also be keen on a show based in the TOS era, but focused on a different crew and ship.

3.25.2015

You know what would be freaking awesome? A picture of either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Luke Skywalker fighting a dragon!

I had that pop into my head just now and holy crap, what badassery that would be! Had I the money, not only would I commission someone to draw it, but I'd also have it airbrushed on the side of a van. The one I have now has "Free Candy" spray painted on the side and while I have no idea who this Candy person is and why they need to be freed, I keep getting weird looks from the neighbors, so I should probably cover it up.*



*That was a joke, obviously. I don't own a van, just a broken down YT-3000 freighter. She's a bit old, but she can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

2.24.2015

Leonard Nimoy hospitalized with severe chest pains

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

He also has COPD, so double FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

I didn't get into Star Trek through The Original Series like a lot of Trekkies; TNG was my gateway drug, but I LOVE the movies with the TOS cast way more than the TNG ones. I think The Motion Picture is under-appreciated and still get hit hard when Spock dies in The Wrath of Khan. His acting in The Voyage Home is one of the best things about that movie. Really, Leonard Nimoy defined what a Vulcan is and set the standard that pretty much every actor who has ever donned the pointy ears has to try and emulate to some degree.

This really just drives home hard the reality that the original cast is growing older and that their time on this Earth is coming to a close a lot sooner than anybody wants. I'm hoping against hope that this isn't anything super serious and he makes a speedy recovery, but man, it is going to be a cold harsh day when we finally lose Leonard Nimoy.

2.01.2015

Man, Syfy is really going full bore on the science fiction

I've already mentioned that they're doing adaptions of 12 Monkeys, The Expanse, and more, but now they're going even further by adding two more series: an adaption of Robert Charles Wilson's novel, Spin, and a show called Krypton. You can guess what the latter is about.

I read Spin back in the summer of 2011, during my fantasy reading binge (it and a few other scifi novels got sucked in there) and I really enjoyed it. Couldn't get into the sequel, Vortex, but that happens. Here's the blurb for the novel:
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.

The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk—a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world's artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they'd been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside—more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.

Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who's forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.

Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth's probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun—and report back on what they find.

Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
Spin seems more suited for television than a movie. The latter would just condense the plot too much and cut character development or other important things for the sake of running time. I can't wait to watch this once production gets underway.

Krypton is equally, if not more interesting. As you can guess by the name, it's Superman-related, but is a prequel focused on the planet before it exploded and Earth ended up with a Man of Steel, with Kal-El's grandfather as the main character. On one hand, I'm jived for this, since Kryptonian society has always been depicted as being highly advanced and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of tech the writers will conjure up. On the other hand, there's another prequel series based on an equally popular DC Comics character already on TV and that one didn't particularly connect to me. Of course, that's because Gotham felt too Batman-centric, even though it was supposed to be about Jim Gordon and Gotham City before the Dark Knight. Hopefully, the folks behind Krypton won't try and shoehorn Superman or his entire rogue's gallery into the show.

Overall, it's nice to see Syfy return to its roots and move away from it's previous trend of shitty paranormal crap shows. I think all these shows will go a long, long way towards reconciling with scifi fans.

Tip of the hat to Aidan Moher's A Dribble of Ink for posting about these two shows first.
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