RIP Carrie Fisher

I just wish this godawful year of hell would end. We've lost too many talented people.


Get in nerds, we're going to run blades in 2049

Oh right, they made a sequel to Blade Runner. Forgot about that. Here's the trailer.

I bet everybody's initial reaction to this trailer is going to be "Rick Deckard wasn't a Replicant?!" Might have to go and watch this next October.


Boy, my science fiction reading has been lackluster this year

Boy howdy, 2016 has not been a good year for science fiction reading. Out of the 24 books I’ve read so far, only eight were sci-fi. That’s only three more than what I read last year.

The list:

Kris Longknife: Mutineer - Mike Shepherd
Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach
Legion of the Damned - William C. Dietz
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
Hunting Party - Elizabeth Moon
Sporting Chance - Elizabeth Moon
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

It’s not like I don’t have good sci-fi books to read; I have an entire bookcase of them! The local public library has some good ones too, but I’ve been unmotivated to read any of them beyond the eight I already have.

I've always been more of a fantasy reader since I became a serious reader back in 2011. No idea why given that I have always heavily favored science fiction in other media. I think it's just because I'm a very picky reader in general and that makes it more difficult to find sci-fi books that I want to read. I know that there are tons of books out there that are widely acclaimed and "must-reads" but if I'm not into the story, I can't even force myself to read them. Add to it reading slump I'm currently in and I don't think this year is going to end well for the sci-fi side of things.

What I think I might do is pull any science fiction from the shelves that piques my interest even a little, then go through each one until I find one that hooks my attention. On the plus side, I did pick up a number of books recently that look like they might be good reads, so there's hope if not for this year, then the next.


Books, books, books

It's been a while, hasn't it? I didn't intend not to post for over two months, but it happens. I was in a bit of a sci-fi hole for a while and had shifted focus to fantasy for a bit. But I've read two science fiction (though I'd sooner count one of them as speculative fiction) books this month and bought loads more before that. We'll start with the latter first. I hit the local Good Will last month and struck a surprisingly generous vein.

Fourteen books in all. Nine of them sci-fi and of those, eight were by David Weber because clearly I didn't have enough of his books already! A run down:

The Webers:

Worlds of Honor, Changer of Worlds, and More Than Honor (anthologies)
Dahak Trilogy: Mutineer’s Moon, Heirs of Empire, and The Armageddon Inheritance
Path of the Fury
The War God's Own

Everything else:

The Ecologic Secession and The Ecolitan Enigma - L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Thief’s Gamble - Juliet E. McKenna
The Wizard Lord - Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Phoenix Guards - Steven Brust
The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

The two Modesitts apparently are no longer in print as individual books, but are available as part of omnibuses. Same deal with Path of the Fury which was reissued with a prequel as In Fury Born.

So yeah, I added greatly to my Weber collection and I'm planning on taking a picture of the whole mess at some point. I'm probably going to have to replace at least one of the Dahak books because it's starting to come apart at the spine.

But I didn't stop there and several days after buying that box of books, I made a trip to Barnes and Noble for still more books. I restricted myself to just sci-fi for this trip and made away with four tomes.

Archform was an impulse buy because I didn't even know the book was back in print. Honestly? The title has always intrigued me for some reason. I decided after reading Legion of the Damned that I wanted Andromeda's Fall. The First Casualty was another impulse buy and should tide me over until I can get the second Kris Longknife book. Great North Road caught my attention when it was first released years ago and I finally bought it after passing it over last year.

Moving on, I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I read two sci-fi/speculative fiction books this month - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. I'm going to write reviews for both, but I thought I would jabber about them a little. Ender's Game was my second read through of the classic and I'm glad that I did. For however controversial Card is, no one can deny that he's a damned fine writer and Ender's Game is one of the greatest works of science fiction of all time.

Parable of the Sower is an odd bird because while it has aspects of post-apocalyptic fiction, it doesn't quite fit within that genre because while society is without question collapsing in the story, it still largely exists. It's more like a prelude to the post-apocalypse. It also doesn't fit in the science fiction genre as a whole because there's nothing science fictional about it. Because of that, I feel like it's more speculative fiction. I generally liked it, but the Earthseed religion that the main character creates and develops throughout the novel was one of my least favorite and weakest aspects of the plot.

I also read The Veldt from Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and I plan on reading more of his works next month. I've neglected the man and his stories for way too long.

So, see anything you like? Have you guys read any of these books before?


For those bent out of shape over Sulu being gay

So it was recently announced that Hikaru Sulu, played by John Cho, would be revealed as gay in Star Trek: Beyond. Apparently, there are people who have reacted negatively to this revelation and this is the only response I can come up with:

Seriously, folks, get over yourselves. It's 2016 and LGBT have been around since the dawn of time and are never, ever going way. They're human beings like you and me and deserve to be able to live their lives like everybody else gets to. Plus, one of the central messages of Trek has always been unity is strength, that we're stronger together than we are divided. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

And if the Preparation H doesn't do anything for you, then try a fence post.


RIP Anton Yelchin

What an unfathomable tragedy. When I first found out that Anton Yelchin had died, I thought it was a hoax because of the reports that he was killed by his own vehicle in a horrific mishap. Unfortunately, it proved to be a sad reality and we've lost one of the bright points in the rebooted Star Trek. Aside from the 2009 Trek movie, I've only ever one other movie starring Yelchin and that was Charlie Bartlett. It was a pretty good movie, better because of Yelchin's performance and it made me want to see his other movies, which I never got around to.

Rest in Peace.


Is it obvious that I like the Honor Harrington series?

The local library does a big book sale twice a year and while I normally wait until their bag sale on the weekend before buying a lot of their books, I decided to see what they had to offer last Wednesday and boy, am I glad I did.

I didn't know it until I checked the Honorverse Wiki, but I now have almost the entire main and the Saganami Island series (so far). I only need Flag in Exile and A Rising Thunder for the main, and whatever the third Saganami book is. I'm pretty well committed to this franchise now.


Rogue One

Looks interesting. It's nice to see that the trend towards kickass female protagonists in movies is still a thing. Hopefully none of the main characters will disappear in the first ten minutes of the movie, only to reappear 40 minutes later with little to no explanation of where they were and what they were doing all that time.


Current reads: Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein (SPOILERS, maybe)

(via Penguin)
The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins—an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect—and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.
I picked up Saturn Run from the library the other day because it looked like it would be a fun read and the sort of hard sci-fi that I like. I'm not a fan of the variety that relies on quantum mechanics or a PHD in theoretical physics. I like the kind where the characters are forced to push themselves and their technology to their limits in order to survive and achieve their goals. That's why I want to read The Martian, Red Mars (and the trilogy in general), and similar stories.

I like how this alien starship was discovered by accident, Basically, the orbital telescope that spots it receives a camera upgrade and as part of the process, takes a bunch of pictures of Saturn to test them out and make sure everything is running correctly. This Caltech intern who is a total rich boy slacker makes the discovery while going through the pictures. Oh and it turns out that he's not just some richie rich slacker, but a black ops soldier who is in hiding because of a $15 million bounty on his head. Given that Saturn Run is co-written by a thriller/suspense writer, this shouldn't be a huge surprise.

The tech shown so far is interesting, but not spectacular. Self-driving cars appear to be as common as regular cars are now, but that's predictable. Electronic implants seem to be a thing too, so it seems cybernetics is a thing, but again, not a far reach. The story is set in 2066, so the emerging technology of today has a commonplace feel in this not so distant future.

What is interesting is how the United States plans to send a team to this mysterious alien starship. They don't have time to build a ship from scratch, so they instead opt to convert their space station (no idea why the U.S. has its own station or what happened to the ISS) into a spaceship. It's a neat idea and logical, given that the station already has most of what the American crew will need for the journey. All they have to do is swap out modules they don't need for ones that they do and add engines and fuel tanks. Not too keen on the station/ship being rechristened the Richard M. Nixon, though. The name change is largely part of the ruse that the U.S. is attempting, since at this point they're the only country that knows about the alien vessel. The idea is to do the conversion out in the open under the pretense that the United States has suddenly decided to send a ship to Mars to accompany and lend aid to China's planned manned mission (and secret colonization) to the red planet. Going by the above plot summary, the Chinese must find out about the alien ship anyways.

It's good so far.


The officer's quarters on the Constitution refit look nice

That couch or bed thing looks comfy, but the lighting could be better. That half-glass wall and partition is a tripping hazard if I ever saw one. Still, if I was in Starfleet and got assigned to a Connie, I wouldn't be disappointed by the accommodations.

Picture via Memory Alpha.


Commodore Stone from TOS "The Court Martial"

Played by Percy Rodriguez.
Commodore Stone was the portmaster of Starbase 11 and oversaw the court martial of James Kirk over the death of Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Finney after the latter faked his death during an ion storm and altered the Enterprise's logs to show that Kirk had jettisoned the ion pod Finney was "in" prematurely. Interestingly, Stone didn't want to convene a court martial against Kirk at first. Instead, he offered to sweep the incident under the rug, but only if Kirk gave up starship command and accepted what amounted to a desk job in return. Jim Kirk refused, obviously and the court martial was convened to either clear or damn his name. Naturally, the end result was the former.

What I think is amazing about Commodore Stone is that he was black and outranked Jim Kirk. "The Court Martial" originally aired in 1967, so having a white character being subordinate to a person of color was pretty damn bold for the time.

This episode was also notable for featuring an Indian or South Asian Starfleet captain named Chandra, but that's another post for another day.

Picture via Memory Alpha.


Legion of the Damned wasn't a bad book

I finished it last month, but just kept forgetting to post about it. I went into this thing not having even medium hopes for it, but was pleasantly surprised. Legion of the Damned wasn't a great book, but it was one of the better military sci-fi novels I've read. I liked some of the characters, like Villain and Salazar, but I thought others (like the Emperor) were poorly constructed. Overall, I'd give it a 7/10 and a recommendation.



PSA: Google's giving away 2 extra gigs of storage for doing a security check on your Google account

Google did this last year and it's a ridiculously easy way of adding extra space if you use Drive, Picasa, or Photos. Basically, all you need to do is go to your account, scroll down to Security Checkup and click on Get Started. Once you finish the checkup (which takes all of a few seconds), the 2 gigs are added automatically.



On a related note, I just checked to see how much space I have now and I'm currently using all of 118 megabytes (or 0.61%) out of 19 gigabytes. Clearly, I needed that extra 2 gigabytes. :P


Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach: An interesting premise that never gets off the ground

Fortune's Pawn is the first book in Rachel Bach's (real name, Rachel Aaron) Paradox Trilogy.
Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.
This premise caught my interest because I've never read a military sci-fi novel about a merc serving on a ship before, cargo or otherwise. Typically, when I do read mil SF, its about soldiers or naval officers, so I was willing to give this book a read and before I even finished it, I wish I hadn't. While the idea of a tough female merc serving as a guard on a cargo ship that acts as a magnet for trouble was intriguing, the plot itself was a major letdown.


This is one beat to hell book

Gotta admire how libraries will hold on to books longer than they probably should.

Not a bad book, by the way. There's plenty of cheese here and there, but so far it's better than the lackluster Fortune's Pawn. I picked it up because I'm planning on buying Andromeda's Fall later this year, so I figured I may as well dip into the series proper.


Just finished Fortune's Pawn

I'll write a longer post about it later, but as it stands, it was average at best. The romance bits of the plot between the main character, Devi, and Rupert, the ship's cook dragged the story down and the ending was meh. I'd probably rate it a 5 or 6 out of 10.


2015 in reading and plans for 2016

I meant to do this sooner, but hey, better late than never. 2015 was a pretty good year for me in terms of reading (and given the way Grim Reaper was cutting through beloved celebrities like Leonard Nimoy, it was the only good thing about that year!). I managed to pack away twelve books which in of itself is great, but it was pretty dismal on the sci-fi front, as only four of the twelve were science fiction:

Four books and half of them were Star Trek. I wasn't joking when I said Treklit is my crack. Anyways, I was tempted to count This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams, since I found it in the SFF section of the local library, but I think it was only shelved there because the rest of the Dagmar Shaw series does veer into sci-fi territory, while this one doesn't. I was also tempted to count Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro because it features human cloning, but otherwise lacks any other elements of science fiction.

And that makes 100,000 hits

Thanks, everybody!


The twelve actors who might play a young Han Solo + one who should

The Guardian (and several other websites) has an article out about the dozen young actors shortlisted to be Han Solo in one of the myriad of Star Wars spin-offs. Let's go now to Disapproving Otter for my take on this.

Well put, Disapproving Otter. Anyways, I had to google all of the names because I'm not a teenage girl and I wasn't familiar with any of them, except for Dave Franco and Logan Lerman's. The problem is that almost all of these guys look like wimps! I'm not talking about some hyper-masculine macho "alpha male/beta-male" bullshit that parts of the internet go on and on about. I mean they look about as intimidating as Haley Joel-Osment. I grok that they'll be playing a younger version of the scruffy looking nerf-herder, but they should cast someone who at least looks like they've met puberty. The only ones on that list that don't look like they're still in high school are Franco, Scott Eastwood, and Jack Reynor.

So who do I think should be cast? Anthony Ingruber. Honestly, I never even heard of the guy until today, but he's certainly a better choice than most of the others.

He even has a passing resemblance to Harrison Ford and speaking of which, he even co-starred in a movie last year with our favorite scoundrel, playing a younger version of Ford's character.

And yet, this guy isn't even in the running to play Han? Hollywood logic: Don't cast the guy who played a younger version of Han Solo in a movie about a young Han Solo.


U.S. Postal Service is releasing Star Trek stamps this year!

(via Space.com)

No idea if they're out now or what, because even the USPS website is mum on it. I'll go to the local post office tomorrow or Monday to check.

Like Tears in Rain: Happy Birthday, Roy Batty

According to Blade Runner, Roy Batty was "born" on January 8, 2016, so of course I'm going to post his famous "Tears in Rain" speech, because it is so good.

A person's memories, their entire life experience ceasing to exist when they die is actually a horrifying realization and is an inevitability for us all and that's what makes the monologue so haunting and timeless.
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