Netflix to adapt John Scalzi's Old Man's War

Great, now I have to get Netflix, I guess. Ugh. The book series (one of my personal favorites) was grabbed up by Syfy back in 2014, but as such things go, nothing happened with them and the rights reverted back to Scalzi. Hopefully, the same won't happen with Netflix because the books really are quite good and it would be interesting to see them adapted to screen.


I think the bigger story here is that CompuServe still exists

File 770 has a post up about the imminent demise of CompuServe's SF forums and while the loss will suck as such things do, I'm more shocked that CompuServe is even still around. I mean, they've been owned by America Online (another relic) since 2003, but the fact that survived that long is amazing.

But on a more serious note, this sucks. While I didn't know these forums exist until today, it still sucks because internet forums are a major source of fannish activity. I used to hang out at SF forums back in the late 90s and early to mid-00s, talking about Star Trek, the then new Battlestar Galactica, and whatever was going on with the now former Star Wars Expanded Universe. Good times.


Recent reads: Spinneret and A Call to Duty

I've been meaning to post about the science fiction novels I've read since my last roundup and wow, is it ever slim.

 First up is Spinneret by Timothy Zahn. It was an interesting book, but didn't really wow me. The story is about humanity finally making it to the stars, only to discover that all the planets in this part of the galaxy have already been spoken for and there's no sharing.

Well, almost all of the planets. There's one, whose name I can't remember, that is habitable, but not inhabited. The United States (there's no world government in this story and the Soviet Union still exists) leases the planet in what the rest of the world regards as a boondoggle.

Why has this planet gone uncolonized? Because it's completely devoid of metals. As you can guess, the plot revolves around why and the attempts of the main characters to protect the colony once the secret is revealed. It's not a spoiler since it's included in the summary on the dust jacket, but the planet's big secret is that an ancient alien civilization built a huge machine that absorbs metals through the ground and converts them into huge cables that it then launches into space. The cables are invulnerable, have a highly adhesive surface and other properties that make them highly desirable.

A big reason why I read it was because of the cover, which reminded me of one of those 4x strategy games, like Master of Orion. Like I said, Spinneret is good but not great. It's worth reading, but don't expect to be bowled over.

Next is A Call of Duty by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Tom Pope, who's name isn't on the cover but is credited in the foreword. Weber and Zahn explain in the foreword that the reason Pope's name wasn't included was for marketing reasons. There was concern that having three people's names on the cover would make potential readers think that A Call to Duty was a short story anthology and not everybody likes reading those. They also point out that Pope's name would appear on the covers of the sequels and it has.

So anyways, A Call to Duty is the first book in the Manticore Ascendant series that acts as a prequel to the rest of the Honorverse. I'm debating doing a separate post about this book later on, so I'll keep it brief here. The story follows three plotlines. The first is about Timothy Uriah Long, a young man who craves order and discipline in his life, so he joins the Royal Manticore Navy. The second plotline follows the attempts by a group of politicians to get rid of the RMN in favor of the interests of their leader, Lord Breakwater. This is still the relative early days of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, when they were still a single system entity and had yet to discover the wormhole junction that would make them a major power.

The third plotline and the one that ties the other two together revolves around a group of mercenaries who are planning to steal two warships from a major ship sale that the Republic of Haven holds later on in the book.

All kinds of shenanigans and hijinks ensue that make A Call to Duty a fun and exciting book to read. I recommend it.


There's ch-ch-changes coming to Rayguns and Space Suits

Via Wookieepedia.
So I've been meaning to post this for a while and just hadn't gotten around to it just now. After five years and not enough posts, I've decided to bring about major changes to this blog. I've been feeling lately that while RSS is a science fiction blog, it hasn't really been science fiction blog. Oh sure, I'll post a trailer for an upcoming movie or a picture of something sci-fi related, but there's been no true focus on the genre in a long time, if ever, so that's why I've decided to refocus Rayguns and Space Suits as a fanzine dedicated to talking about and covering the science fiction genre to the best of my abilities. With that, comes a major change: No more Star Trek. I created a fan blog for the series last month called Strange New Worlds where all future Star Trek content will go. I did this largely because it felt like RSS was in danger of becoming a de facto fan blog, which is something I didn't want.

So what will you see on here? broadly, anything that is science fiction but isn't Star Trek. More specifically, I plan on writing about sci-fi books I'm reading, thoughts on the different subgenres, news, and more. I know that Rayguns and Space Suits will never match the stature of other, much more famous fanzines like File 770, but I still feel like it's something worth doing.

If anybody has any thoughts or suggestions, then please leave them in the comments below.


RIP Jerry Pournelle

It's always a tragedy when we lose a great of science fiction, especially one who, but all accounts, never let politics or disagreements with others stop him from giving a helping hand it was needed.

I'm not going to pretend that I read any of his books or that I'm going to add any to my TBR pile just because he died (personally, I never liked the idea of reading an author's books just because they died, too ghoulish), but that's not going to stop me from raising a glass to his memory and his contributions to the genre we all love.

Rest in peace, sir.


Here's a video of new Doctor Jodie Whittaker reacting to 13th Doctor cosplayers

Because we haven't even seen what the new Doc is going to be wearing and she was just announced less than a month ago, but of course there are already people cosplaying her. Gotta love the fandom.

(via Tor.com)


Women dominate the Hugo Awards

You can see all of the nominees and winners here, but suffice to say, goddamn.

Best Novel: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin.
Best Novella: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.
Best Novelette: The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon.
Best Short Story: Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar.
Best Series: The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Ada Palmer.

Overall, women won 15 out of the 17 categories and counting Palmer netting the Campbell (which is award at the Hugos but isn't a Hugo), they won 16 altogether. Not a bad performance and well deserved. Oh, I'm sure there will be grumblings and teeth gnashing from a certain segment of the fandom over this, but I'll say here what I said on my Tumblr:
Write better. The success of women and writers of color at the Hugos and other SFF lit awards has nothing to do with their ethnicity or identity and everything to do with them just being better writers, editors, etc.
Being white, straight, and/or identifying with your assigned gender (because let's not overlook the fact that these groups include women) does not automatically mean you win awards.

Unless you create your own or manipulate a poorly planned one. *coughcoughDragonAwardscoughcough*

In any case, congrats to all of the winners and nominees.


The Most Interesting Captain in Starfleet

"I don't always drink tea. But when I do, it's Earl Grey, hot."

(It's a parody of those Dos Equis commercials)


I'll just be over here, gathering up my quarters

Retroist's FB.
You better believe that if I ever won the lottery I'd hunt down and buy one of these babies. The game could be hot shit, but it's Star Trek, so I'd still want it.


I wouldn't reserve your tickets for the Han Solo movie just yet...

(via io9)
I have a post up on my other blog, Nerd Trash, about how the Han Solo film is like a train chug-chugging its way to disaster. In brief, Lucasfilm fired the original two directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller because of the direction they were steering the movie in. Basically, Lord and Miller are known almost exclusively for doing comedies, some of their best known work being The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, and somehow, Lucasfilm was surprised when the duo tried to turn the Solo movie into a comedy. When they refused to, you know, not do that, Lucasfilm fired them and hired Ron Howard the finish the production.

But my friends, this train has only just left the station and we're not even halfway to the wreck. There's also reports that Lucasfilm isn't happy with the performance that their lead actor, Alden Ehrenreich is turning in. So much so that they hired an acting coach for him.

And yet, somehow, Lucasfilm and Disney expect the Han Solo movie to make its scheduled release date of May 2018. Yeeeah, that probably isn't going to happen. I figure that what the studio already has will be scrapped and they'll start over from square one. If that happens, then it'll be up in the air whether they retain Ron Howard or go with another director. I would be surprised if they didn't take the chance and recast Han with someone who can act. Needless to say, if that happens, then the release date gets pushed back.


Update on my reading progress

Because it's been nearly three months since I last posted a tally and two months since I did any kind of update, and I know you folks have just been dying to know what I've been reading. :P

So in the last update, I mentioned reading Phule's Company, followed by the first two books in Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series - Trading in Danger and Marque and Reprisal - with Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor sandwiched in between, Since then, I've put three more Vorkosigan tales under my belt: Barrayar, Warrior's Apprentice, and the novella The Mountains of Mourning. That brings me up to twelve science fiction books (I'm counting MoM since novellas have been published on their own as books before) this year so far, which is more than last year's total.

I hoped to add The Vor Game to that list, but I'm taking a much needed break from the Vorkosigan Saga. I plan on reading at least half the series this year, if I can. Great series, highly recommend it. Right now I'm reading Clive Cussler's The Mediterranean Caper to give my thinkbox a break before coming back around to the genre. His books aren't terrible, but they're definitely more of a palate cleanser than anything else.


Just a good ol' country doctor

Better than a hologram and was never racist against androids.

Pictures from Memory Alpha.


I can't believe I have to wait a year for John Scalzi's next book, Head On

Entertainment Weekly did an exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt for the sequel to Lock In, but they watermarked it for some reason, so here's Tor.com's.

On the plus side, the book comes out a day before my birthday, so there's a present covered.


The William Thomas Riker School of Chair Sitting

This is why he was a commander for almost twenty years - Starfleet doesn't promote weirdos who sit in chairs like that.


So that happened

Yesterday, I decided to do some book shelf reorganization, moving all of my mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels to the bookcase formerly occupied by my fantasy fiction. Today, I tackled the bookcase with all of my science fiction and things happened. Like with the fantasy, I decided to go through and box up any books that I don't plan on reading for the foreseeable future. I'll get around to them sooner or later, but until then there's no point in their taking up valuable shelf space. So then while putting the remaining books back up, I had a thought: I read military science fiction a lot more than I do anything else, so why not put all of them together, then have the rest of the sci-fi follow after? I mean, certainly the mil-sf couldn't take up all that much space, right?

All but four of them are Honor Harrington.

Ha ha ha, yeah...the David Webers took up an entire shelf on their own. I uh...I didn't realize that I had that many. Yikes. The worst part is I'm only on the fifth book, Flag in Exile. 😬 Terrible, I know.

The mil-sf ended up taking two shelves, but it's worth it. Like I said, I read more of that than any other type of SF, so having them all together makes more sense than having them mixed with the regular stuff. I definitely need to buy more cases this year.


I'm a Phule for Phule's Company by Robert Asprin (spoilers)

You know that old saying "never judge a book by its cover"? Well, I think Phule's Company is a good example. I came across this at the local library last week and checked it out on a whim. I never expected to blow through it in less than a week and enjoy it to boot.

So the premise is that the protagonist, Willard Phule is court-martialed by the Space Legion (think the French Foreign Legion in space) for ordering a strafing run during the signing of a treaty at a peace conference. He pleads guilty but the Legion has a bit of a problem when it comes to sentencing: you see, Phule is the son and heir of Phule-Proof Munitions which is not only one of the biggest weapons producers in the galaxy but is also the Space Legion's primary supplier. So needless to say, throwing him in prison is not an option. Neither is drumming him out the service because the Legion's own doesn't allow for that. So instead he's promoted, has his Legion name changed¹ and is given command of what's known as an omega company. This is an illegal unit that acts as a dumping ground for the misfits and losers who don't fit in anywhere else in the Legion. Given that the Legion has a reputation for scrapping the bottom of the barrel for recruits, that's saying something. Omega companies are, like I said, illegal and are normally disbanded when Legion HQ discovers them. In this case, they decide to give one to Phule in the hopes that it will drive him out of the service.

The rest of the book is that plan blowing up in their faces. It's also what caught me completely by surprise and made me a fan of this book and possibly the whole series. At the beginning of Phule's Company, Phule acts like an absolute idiot by trying to defend and justify his actions to his butler, Beeker. Ah yes, Beeker. Great character and obviously based on Jeeves from the Wodehouse stories. Every chapter is prefaced with a journal entry written by Beeker (in the context of keeping records for an eventual biography of his employer) which provides context for the goings on in that chapter.

Well, it had to end some time

I was on a mighty good reading streak going on but like all good things, it had to end sometime.  Still, it was an impressive run of nine sci-fi books in a row, out of twelve books in total so far this year. I bested the number of sci-fi I read last year, which is nice. Not bad at all, if I do say so myself (and I do!).

The last time I did a run down on my reading, I had finished Dragonflight and was on Phule's Company (which I have a post about saved in drafts that I'm planning on finishing today). Obviously, I finished that and added three more since then: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon, Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Marque and Reprisal also by Moon. I highly recommend them all. I plan on writing up a post about the Moon's Vatta's War series because I enjoyed them so much.

So what ended the streak? Shotgun Saturday Night by Bill Crider. The book is short enough that I figured that I would give it a shot. I also needed a short respite before continuing my SF adventures. After reading it and maybe another of Crider's books, I might pick up Barrayar or Engaging the Enemy.


They're still making them Star Wars movies?

I would have figured that they'd have given up after the first one flopped.

Hoping we get to see more of Finn in the next several trailers. Poe too.


By George, I think he's got it!

Artist: Earl Norem.
I wonder if The Doctor saved the city?

(via browsethestacks)

Rainn Wilson is Mudd

Rainn Wilson picture from: Matt Hoyle/Phoenix New Times
Harry Mudd picture from: Memory Alpha
Here's an unexpected bit of news: Rain Wilson (Dwight Schrute from The Office) has been cast as that infamous scoundrel ("Entrepreneur!" He'd say) Harry Mudd in Star Trek: Discovery. Yay? I can't really see him playing Mudd with the same presence as Roger Carmel did. Personally, I'd have gone with someone closer to Carmel's body type and appearance, but I'm going to assume that Wilson will be putting on some serious poundage for the role (a quick check on Memory Alpha shows that Mudd weighed 240lbs). I think this is more about name recognition than anything else because at this point, the show's cast doesn't have much of it beyond Jason Isaacs, Michelle Yeoh, and James Frain. Even Anthony Rapp is probably not that well known outside of musical theater, being famous for starring in Rent.

I freely admit that I'm guilty of bias against Star Trek: Discovery, so that's probably clouding my judgement of this casting choice.

What do you guys and gals think about Rainn Wilson playing Harry Mudd?


I'm on one hell of a sci-fi kick

Remember how I lamented last year about not reading enough science fiction compared to fantasy and everything else I read? Well, looks like I won't be doing any bellyaching this year. So far, I've read five books in a row. Actually didn't intend to do that, it just sort of happened.

Hey, by the way, did you know that Dragonriders of Pern is classified as science fiction? I sure as heck didn't until I was halfway through Dragonflight. Anyways, here's the five:

A re-read that was long overdue. I thoroughly enjoyed OMW the first time I read it seven or more years ago and I've always meant to re-read it, but I could never get the show on the road until last month.
Another re-read and one that was better served by it. I didn't dislike The Ghost Brigades the first time I read it, but I didn't exactly fall head over heels for it either. A second run through was much better since I knew what to expect.
This was the odd bird. I've had Night Train for years and years now (I can't even remember where or when I bought it) and up until last month, it was doing nothing but collecting dust and moving from shelf to box to shelf. I can't explain why I all of a sudden decided to read Night Train, but I did and I regret not doing it sooner. It didn't exactly knock my socks off, but it wasn't a waste of my time either. It might be one of those books (like above) that gets better during a second run through.

The third in the Old Man's War series. I really enjoyed this one because it was not what I expected. I can't really explain why I liked this book without spoiling the plot, but suffice to say that if you like brinkmanship, interstellar politics, plot twists, and the kind of behind the scenes throatcutting that would make the Lannisters from Game of Thrones proud, this might be a book worth checking out.
Now, you would think that a series featuring a quasi-medieval society, dragons, and the men and women who ride them would make Dragonriders of Pern firmly of the fantasy genre...and you, good sirs and madams, would be wrong. The origins and lost technology of Pernese society, as well as old standbys such as teleportation and time travel put the series in science fiction territory.

I liked Dragonflight, but you can tell that it is a product of 1960s fantasy. The characters are always really dramatic when they talk or do anything. The romance between F'lar and Lessa was like out of a soap opera or something. And yeah, all the dragonmen (because dragonriders wasn't manly enough?) have those cliche fantasy names with an apostrophe between the first and second letters.

I'm pleased as punch with my progress. Not least of which is because I've never read five books from the same genre in a row before. Last year I read them in groups of three, but never five.

I plan on keeping this trend up with Robert Asprin's Phule's Company, maybe followed by Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. After that, I think I might read the first Stainless Steel Rat or Riverworld. I'm in a classic sci-fi kind of mood.


The post-Battle of Wolf 359 sh*tstorm

To say Wolf 359 was a disaster is like saying the Battle of Tsushima was a misstep for the Russian Empire.
(via Memory Alpha)
I was thinking about Star Trek: TNG the other day as one does and my mind went to the famous battle/massacre that was Wolf 359 and the fallout that must have happened after the Borg cube was finally defeated. After all, there had to be a huge shitstorm in the aftermath, right? I mean, you can't lose 39 ships and nearly eleven thousand people without there being massive public outrage and such. So I started thinking about it more and more, creating in my noggin what that must have been like.

I can imagine that there would be a inquiry into how exactly the massacre happened. You'd figure that 40 ships would be more than enough to take down even an all-powerful Borg cube. Memory Alpha's article on the battle says that the Federation fleet attacked in small groups instead of one all-out mass assault and that allowed the Borg to destroy the fleet in short order. I see the inquiry having one of two outcomes:


"Jesse, we have to make more monsters!"

Credit: Lloyd Birmingham.
On the next Breaking Bad...Walter White continues his work on creating better blue skinned monsters while Jesse Pinkman just shouts "science, bitch!" for the entire hour for no reason at all.

(via scificovers)


"Let's redesign the Klingons" said no one ever.

But alas, it looks like the Star Trek: Discovery showrunners might have done just that. The Wertzone has a post up about a leaked photograph showing Klingons that have been significantly redesigned. Check it out.

I say supposedly because according to io9, the picture was originally posted by a extra working on the set then subsequently deleted. There's no confirmation or denial that the picture is legit, but as io9 points out, the costumes match those in another picture that was officially leaked last year.

So there's a very good chance that the first picture is legit and this is what the Klingons look like now. My thoughts? Bleh. Just bleh. First off, they look kind of like the Xindi-Reptilians from Star Trek: Enterprise. Does that mean the Klingons are reptilian now? Second, why? Why would the Klingons need such a radical redesign? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Third, this is problematic for continuity. Discovery is set a decade before The Original Series, so wouldn't the Klingons of this era be the smooth forehead variety? It's also strange that this variant (assuming that this is what they represent and not a massive retcon) was never mentioned in any of the other shows.

Honestly though, I can't say that I'm too surprised by this. Star Trek: Discovery has been a trainwreck from the get-go. Personally, I think that's the reason Bryan Fuller dropped out as showrunner - the show was going to be such a disaster that he didn't want his name directly attached to it.

So what do you guys think? Like the Klingons' new look or hate it? Is Discovery going to be a disaster or a success?
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