BSG – 3 down, 8 to go

January 31, 2009

Is Adama dead?!?!?!  (And Tigh)  That is, of course, the question everyone was left with after last night’s episode of Galactica.  We all knew he wouldn’t leave his ship, but I like the way they did it, having him make his stand defending Roslin’s shuttle as she leaves the ship.

There are other pertinent questions too.  I assume Roslin was headed for the base ship, since I can’t think of any other place that would be safe for her.  And Baltar is along for the ride, to what purpose I can’t possibly guess right now beyond the obvious just trying to get off Galactica.  (Something self serving probably.)  What will their next move be?  Will the Cylons attack Galactica under Roslin’s command?  And what will happen to the prisoners on Galactica?  The Cylons won’t sit still for any of their Five being slaughtered, not to mention the pregnant Caprica 6, Athena, and Hera.  (I don’t think they really care about Helo.)  And what is Tyrol doing?  Is he going to be leading Baltar’s followers while Baltar is on the bay ship?  Will Baltar still have followers when (if) he returns?

That’s just what I came up with off the top of my head.  After I read everyone else’s posts I bet I’ll have more questions, and probably fewer answers.

Take note Atlantis – THIS is the way a show should go out!

Xenogenesis – Octavia Butler

January 30, 2009

Xenogenesis (also published as Lilith’s Brood) is a now out of print combination of three books published as one novel – Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago.  These three stories together tell of an alien race, the Oankali, who find Earth almost unlivable after humanity has attempted to destroy itself with another world war, and of how the Oankali interact with the few humans still alive.  It is told over several generations by different members of a single family, starting with Lilith Iyapo.

Lilith wakes up in an isolation cell with no memory of how she got there and no idea who is holding her captive.  Her captors talk to her as disembodied voices from above, asking her questions, testing her.  Eventually they show themselves and she realizes they are alien.  She is told that over 250 years have passed, and that she has spent much of that time in suspended animation, and has in fact only aged 2 years.  The Oankali have used that time to repair the Earth, making it livable again.  Lilith is told that she has been chosen to prepare other humans to return to Earth and make new homes there alongside the Oankali.  But there is a price for this gift.  Humans are expected to combine with the Oankali in what they call ‘the trade’, an exchange of genetic information that will make the next generation human-Oankali hybrids.  No pure humans will be permitted.  Essentially the human race will be destroyed in one generation.

This is an extremely nuanced story, and a thoughtful exploration of a people/culture struggling to survive.  Both the races are well developed, as are individual characters, allowing the reader to see multiple perspectives on the same dilemma.  Xenogenesis doesn’t shy away from the dark side of human nature and the problems it causes, but it shows our good side as well.  It is an excellent story, and features one of the few strong black female characters in sci fi.  I will certainly be reading more by Ms. Butler.

I was unable to locate a cover shot for this book, so if anyone has it please post.

Organic Robots

January 29, 2009

Pink Tentacle has an article about scientists who are developing organic robots as a way to better explore and understand artificial life.  They plan to put the robots in a ‘law of the jungle’ setting where they will have to develop hunting and survival skills to make it.  The theory is that such skills would make them more useful for many tasks, including security and exploration of new planets.  I think building organic robots adn teaching them to adapt and develop hunting and survival skills sounds like a disaster waiting to happen (and, once again, a lot like a book I read once…I mean, don’t these people read?  I know sci fi authors make stuff up, but it has to be based on something, right?).

The Future of the Written Word?

January 28, 2009

Per an article on Galley Cat – reading is on the rise in Japan among 10-20 year old girls (normally one of the least likely groups to actually read) due to a new format: the cell phone novel.

Yes, really.  Short novels are being written in 70 word installments available for download on cell phones, which of course every girl in that age group has.  And apparently these things are selling in the millions.  I’m guessing the installments come as text messages, but I could be wrong.

I must be getting old.  I can’t imagine reading a book that way.

What’s Authonomy good for, anyway?

January 27, 2009

Oh, right!  Getting publishing deals!

Author Miranda Dickinson was one of 3 authors who have put their work on Authonomy to get a book deal from a real live publishing company.  She wrote (is writing?) Travels With My Teapot, Or Tea Ladies Arise!, a wonderfully British sci fi comedy a la Douglas Adams (but more feminine).  Congratulations, and I can’t wait to see it in print so I can read the whole thing!

More Free Fiction

January 27, 2009

Loads of good stuff!  Lots of authors!  Come one, come all, get your free spec fic today!

Science Fiction to Science Fact

January 27, 2009

Check out this list from New Scientist of 10 sci fi technologies/gadgets that may soon be real.  And thanks to Futurismic for pointing it out.  I want the gills!

Top 100 Science Fiction Blogs

January 27, 2009

This is a list put together by Jessica Merritt at Distance Learning Net.  I personally have several faves which are not on the list, including The Crotchety Old Fan, Whatever, and File 770 – but I’m on it, so it can’t be too bad, right?  And it has introduced me to a few new sites too.


January 26, 2009

Ok, this has absolutely nothing to do with science fiction.  But it’s fun, so I’m sharing it anyway.  UpDown is a site where you get a fake $1 million dollar trading account to try your hand at the stock market.  The site tracks real-time prices so you can pretend you’re a real daytrader or whatever you want to be, with no risk to you.  And if you’re good at it you can win contests on the site that pay actual money as the prizes.  So I’m adding a link to UpDown to my site for a while.  Go try it!

The Android’s Dream – John Scalzi

January 26, 2009

After Scalzi mentioned this book on his blog, I decided to read it.  So off I went to my favorite establishment in the world, The Public Library.  (Sorry, man, cash is tight and bookshelves are full, no buying books for a while.)  This is the first of Scalzi’s novels I’ve read, but I have been following his blog for a while and find it entertaining, so I expected the same from the book.  I was not disappointed.

The Android’s Dream (title and one of the main characters in the book are indeed nods to Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is set in the indeterminate future, at a time when Earth has made contact with many alien species and is a youngish member of the Common Confederation, an interplanetary governing body.  Earth’s closest allies are the Nidu, who are fairly low ranking in the CC but still higher than Earth.  The Nidu leader dies and, due a weird government system, the heir apparent has to follow a coronation ceremony precisely to become the new leader.  Well, the leader who just died happened to take power not long after humans met the Nidu, and to make the coronation ceremony special the Nidu clan taking power had humans create a unique genetically engineered sheep species that has electric blue wool that has a critical part in the ceremony.  Said species being The Android’s Dream. The auf-Getag clan (the current leadership) has ownership of the only samples of this species.

Now, another Nidu clan is trying to wrest power from the current leadership, and to prevent the auf-Getags from completing their coronation ceremony they start killing every Android’s Dream sheep in the galaxy.  Of course there is political intrigue and cloak and dagger stuff, and then a very special Android’s Dream is found on Earth.  To tell you any more would ruin one of the big surprises in the book.

The Android’s Dream was clever, funny on several levels (everything from fart jokes to bad puns to good puns to actual witty conversation).  It also introduced a new idea for me – the idea of a church that exists to make its prophecies come about through its own actions.  And it has most of the bedrocks of sci fi: aliens, space travel, big ships with big guns, genetic engineering, hybrids, and artificial intelligence.  I think the only one he missed was time travel.  I definitely recommend this book, and I will be checking out more of his stuff soon (probably Zoe’s Tale next…after the big pile already sitting in my living room staring at me of course).



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