8.27.2014

Last Saturday's episode of Doctor Who was okay, I guess (spoilers)

It didn't knock my socks off and felt a bit underwhelming until the end. I enjoyed Madame Vastra calling Clara out on her bullshit, as well as her relationship with her wife Jenny. Why isn't there a spinoff starring those two? Eleven calling Clara and asking her to stay with Twelve, along with Peter Capaldi's performance, and the aforementioned Vastra and Jenny saved this episode from sucking.

8.20.2014

Ever hear of a wargame called StarForce: Alpha Centuri?

This came across my dash on Tumblr this morning.

http://70sscifiart.tumblr.com/post/95288514209/starforce-alpha-centauri
I found the Wikipedia article for Simulation Publications, Inc. via Google. The company was founded in 1969, folded in 1982 with TSR acquiring its assets the following year. The company made all sorts of wargames and even tried to compete with TSR in the RPG market. StarForce was one of the companies first scifi-based games and here's what its Wikipedia article says:
StarForce described a future history of humanity reaching out into local interstellar space, and making first contact (and war) with a number of alien species. FTL (faster than light) travel was based on "telesthetic" (teleportation) powers enhanced by artificial intelligence, both from on-board crew members and with the assistance of fixed Star Gate installations. Space combat was relatively non-violent, mostly based on telepathic disruption of the enemy's crews. The space volume on the map represented real astronomical data, designed to allow players to become familiar with the layout of nearby stars.
----
Unlike most board games, StarForce used both pre-plotted simultaneous movement, and a 3D playspace covering a radius of approximately 20 light years from Sol. "Semi-hidden" movement allowed players to display their horizontal location while keeping their vertical position concealed.
 Another point of interest is that 80s new wave band, The Human League, took their name from one of the game's factions.

So anybody ever hear of StarForce? Anybody play it?

8.06.2014

Syfy turning John Scalzi's Old Man's War into a series!

 Via Hollywood Reporter:
The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has put into development Ghost Brigades, a drama based on John Scalzi's Hugo-nominated Old Man's War universe book series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The NeverEnding Story's Wolfgang Petersen will oversee development on the project alongside Scott Stuber (Safe House), with Jake Thornton and Ben Lustig (Winter's Knight) on board to pen the first script. The drama hails from Universal Cable Productions, Petersen's Radiant Productions and Stuber's Bluegrass Films.
Excellent. Old Man's War is one of my favorite scifi novels and the rest of the series is pretty damn good too. To give you an idea of how good OMW is, I started re-reading the thing like ten minutes after I finished it. I was probably fifteen pages in before I stopped myself. That has never happened before or since.

The premise is (and spoiler warning, folks) that the John Perry enlists with the Colonial Defense Force, the military arm of the interstellar government that manages human colonies, the Colonial Union. The catch? Perry is 75 years old and the CDF's entire military force is based around geriatrics. The spoiler bit is how they make use of people who would likely break a hip just matching - genetically engineered bodies created from each person's DNA, but mostly comprised of non-human material. The CDF transfers each person's mind into one of these new bodies, then transfers them into brand spanking new cloned human bodies after their term of service is completed.

The book is military science fiction, but mixed with a good bit of humor and wit. The title of the TV show is interesting, as Ghost Brigades is the title of the second book in the series and doesn't really feature Perry at all. The series itself is going to be a mix of the entire series, rather than a straight adaption of just the first book. The name change makes even more sense, then. I mean, having a show called "Old Man's War" isn't going to attract a ton of viewers.

John Scalzi has a series of posts over on his blog about the new series. This isn't his only work getting the TV treatment. FX is turning one of his other books, Redshirts, into a miniseries. Interestingly, Syfy is also turning James S. A. Corey's Expanse series into a show. Looks like the channel is finally shifting away from reality shows and back towards science fiction.

Just gonna leave this here

http://www.listoid.com/list/140/page2
"Mom, dad, why can't you just accept us for what we are? I know Johnny is a giant robot and society will scorn us, but our love is real. It's real."

7.24.2014

I really like this Rogue Trader picture

(via Lexicanum)
I dig the Age of Sail/pirate vibe with their outfits. The old fashioned (treasure?) map is a nice touch too.

6.25.2014

Finished: Star Trek Vanguard: Harbinger (spoilers)

(via Memory Alpha)
It was pretty good, but felt more like a pilot episode than a novel. What I mean is, the book mostly established multiple plot threads for the rest of series and didn't really resolve anything except for the destruction of the Bombay by the Tholians.

Can we just talk about for a second? A pre-refit, TOS era (Harbinger is set just after the events of Where No Man Has Gone Before) Miranda-class took on six Tholian heavy cruisers and destroyed four of them out before being destroyed herself. Damn, son! No wonder the Reliant kicked the Enterprise's ass in Wrath of Khan!
What a pre-refit Miranda might have looked like.
(via Memory Beta)

Anyways, back to the book. The premise for the Vanguard series is pretty cool: The USS Constellation (you might have heard of it) discovers something called a meta-genome in a sample of mold that they were transporting back from a planet called Ravanar in the Tarsus Reach, a far off sector of space outside Federation territory. Yup, outside Feddie territory and right between the Klingon Empire and Tholian Assembly. What could possibly go wrong? The meta-genome proves to be important because it contains a lot of information; too much, in fact, to be anything but artificial. So, Starfleet fast-tracks the construction of Vanguard, a watch-tower class starbase in Tarsus Reach. They also assign three starships to the base: the already mentioned Bombay, the Constitution-class Endeavor, and the Archer-class Sagittarius. The Archer is a small scout ship that was created specifically for the series and has appeared outside of it as well.

Like I said, there are multiple plot threads established in Harbinger. One is that a member of the Federation diplomatic staff on Vanguard, Anna Sandesjo, is actually a Klingon spy and the lover of the station's intelligence officer, T'Prynn. There's another plot thread with the latter. T'Prynn had a very dramatic experience during Pon Farr. Her mate was a physically abusive dickhole of a Vulcan named Sten, who she killed during kal-if-fee (remember that fight between Spock and Kirk in Amok Time?) and well, it did not end well for her. Sten forced his katra into her mind and it can't be removed with it destroying hers in the process. So, she faces a daily mental battle with his katra assaulting her mind until she submits. There's also a secret relationship ongoing between Commodore Diego Reyes, the commander of Vanguard and his JAG officer, Captain Rana Desai.

Then there's Cervantes Quinn and Tim Pennington. Not in a romantic relationship, but their lives are connected throughout the novel. Quinn a smuggler/man for hire working for an Orion crime boss based out of Vanguard. Pennington is a reporting working for the Federation News Service. Quinn is responsible for the destruction of the Bombay when he accidentally destroys the sensor screen (while trying to steal it) that a team of Starfleet engineers and scientists were using to hide their top secret project on Ravanar. The Bombay was sent to rush a new sensor screen to the planet. Pennington's girlfriend was a bridge officer on the Bombay. Their separate threads connect throughout the novel until the very end when they become entangled. Presumably, because I don't know if Pennington and Quinn are even in the rest of the series. Honestly, it took a while for me to warm up to Quinn and Pennington branches of the plot and even then, I didn't like them much. Pennington brought the Federation close to the brink of war with the Tholians with his expose on the latter's destruction of the Bombay because he wanted to bring justice for Oriana, his girlfriend. Quinn just didn't wow me. He mostly just slunk around, got drunk, got beat up, and then got even more drunk.

The ending and the introduction of the Sheddai, which apparently is some sort of ancient advanced alien species was intriguing, but nothing new. It piqued my interest nonetheless.

Overall, I liked Harbinger regardless of its faults. Every book is going to have them. I like the way David Mack handled Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise in the story. They were there and helped move the plot along without overshadowing the book's cast of characters.

Rating 8/10. Recommended.

6.09.2014

The Decker-class was one ugly FASA ship

From the front, it looks fine. From the top and the side, it looks whoever at FASA designed it was really hitting the bottle. Here's the description from Memory Beta:
The Decker-class was a Federation class X destroyer starship in Starfleet service in the 23rd century, becoming active on reference stardate 2/7502.
The Decker-class vessels crewed 200 officers and crew, with room for up to 10 passengers and about 100 Starfleet Marines. Additionally, the Decker could carry 10,000 metric tons of cargo, rated at 200 SCU (standard cargo units). The vessels weighed 140,603 metric tons, measured 288 meters in length, 120 meters in width and 52 meters in height. The Decker had four standard (6 person) personnel transporters, four 12-person escape transporter stages and four cargo transporters, two for large scale cargo and two for small scale cargo. The control computer of the Decker vessels was of the M-6A type.
The Decker had warp engines of the FTWC-2 type, rated, in original cochrane unit scales, to cruise at warp factor 12 and max out at warp factor 14. The Decker impulse engines were of the FIF-2 type. The Decker weapons had five FH-11 phaser banks, with forward port, forward starboard and aft firing arcs. The vessels had three FP-4 photon torpedo launchers with forward port starboard and aft firing arcs and was defended by FSM model deflector shields.
The commissioning of the prototype USS Matthew Decker marked a new use of advancements in technology and ship-mounted weaponry that were originally fielded in Starfleet's Excelsior-class, but in a lighter, more maneuverable destroyer vessel designed for patrol, escort and deep space combat. The class ran into initial delays as advanced technology required redesign to fit into the compact spaceframe. Most of these problems were solved by the introduction of Daystrom Duotronics' M-6A/M-9A computers, integrating synoptic duotronics with artificial intelligence. The Marine contingents frequently refer to these vessels as "Damn Fine Deckers" because of their quality as a fighting ship.
The destroyer class was named for Matthew Decker, namesake of the first ship of the class, as well as other members of his family who had given their lives in Fleet service. Other ships in the class are also named after Starfleet officers that had given their life or otherwise sacrificed in the line of duty. By 2364, of the 40 Decker vessels that had been constructed, 20 remained in active service, with an additional two used by Star Fleet Training Command as training vessels, and the rest listed as missing, scrapped or destroyed.
They may have been a "damn fine" ships, but they're never going to win any beauty contests.
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