30 December 2016 ~ 0 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath is a Star Wars franchise tie-in novel written by Chuck Wendig and published in September 2015 by Del Rey. Since Disney decided to declare all of the pre-2014 novelizations as a separate timeline from The Force Awakens movie in 2015, Aftermath is one of the few novels in the current movie timeline.

Aftermath picks up shortly after the original movie trilogy. The second Death Star has been destroyed. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are dead. The Empire is shaken and leaderless, but not gone (keep in mind that this book was published before The Force Awakens hit theaters, so we hadn’t yet met Kylo Ren and the First Order yet). The Rebel Alliance has become the New Republic, trying to restore as much order as possible in the wake of the conflict with the Empire.

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16 December 2016 ~ 1 Comment

MOVIE REVIEW: Arrival

Arrival is a science fiction first contact movie released in November 2016, which is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang.  The movie stars Amy Adams, with Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner.

The movie begins shortly after 12 gigantic alien aircraft suddenly appear over various places around the globe, including one in the United States in an isolated spot in Montana.  Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), struggling with memories of a lost daughter, is recruited by Army Colonel Weber (Whitaker) to find out why the aliens have come and what they want.  Louise leads the team alongside Ian Donnelly, a theoretical physicist aiming to use science as the medium of communication.  It’s a race against time, because the other 11 eleven alien vessels are communicating with the governments and militaries of other countries.  Do they mean us harm?  Are they willing to share their technology?  Will they share weapons?  What if they share weapons with all those they are in contact with? What if they share weapons with only some of them?  What if the aliens support one country against another. The Army has set up protocols for the meetings, about what exact topics may be spoken of, and exactly how the aliens can be approached, but Louise is willing to take big risks to try to make a breakthrough happen.  Meanwhile, as Louise becomes more and more fatigued from overworking, she struggles with memories of the loss of her daughter, coming to mind at odd moments.

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02 December 2016 ~ 1 Comment

DP Fiction #22: “The Schismatic Element Aboard Continental Drift” by Lee Budar-Danoff

“Captain, we have a situation. I’ve been investigating a potential religious sect.”

Captain Madeleine Salim of the generation ship Continental Drift set down her vitamin soup bottle. Instead of spending the start of her shift in contemplation of the new planet below, part of the anti-agoraphobia program mandated by the ship-to-shore landing process, she faced the lieutenant. Ronald Chin resembled the noble eagle from their histories, with short wavy hair, sharp nose and piercing eyes. Salim returned his salute.

“Why wasn’t this brought to my attention immediately?”

Chin stiffened. “I couldn’t report gossip. Rumors of religion crop up during every new generation. In the past, they turned out to be student groups prepping for exams, or thought experiments. I had to rule out those possibilities.” His proper military posture tired Salim, who waved him to a seat.

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02 September 2016 ~ 1 Comment

DP Fiction #19: “Do Not Question the University” by PC Keeler

“History,” spoke The University. Albert had no interest in History. Nor had he interest in Mathematics, Science, Language, Art, or any of the other schools of The University. But one did not question The University, let alone defy it. Tales skittered among the Uneducated about Accepted Candidates thrown back from the gates for a single […]

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01 August 2016 ~ 1 Comment

DP Fiction #18: “Sustaining Memory” by Coral Moore

The Archivist held the three remaining beads in her left hand. Images flickered across her visual cortex: an unknown woman’s face, a sunset on a planet she couldn’t name, the dazzling color of a sea she no longer had the words to express. The beads felt cool and impersonal in her fingers, though what they contained was neither. She had only these few memories left and she no longer remembered if they were hers or someone else’s.

Around her, the machine chugged and whirred. The metal tubing that encased her pod vibrated. The glowing core rose in front of her, spinning slowly around its vertical axis.

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17 June 2016 ~ 2 Comments

Hugo Short Story Review: “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer

“Cat Pictures Please” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the short story category this year. It was published by Clarkesworld Magazine, and you can read it here in its entirety or listen to it in audio.

The protagonist of “Cat Pictures Please” is an AI written as the core of a search engine algorithm. As the story points out, an AI isn’t needed to find things that people search for, but it is needed to find what people need. The search engine knows a lot about people, including things they will not share with each other.

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01 June 2016 ~ 1 Comment

DP Fiction #16: “The Weight of Kanzashi” by Joshua Gage

In order to prevent contamination on the space station, all the members of the shuttle crew have to be thoroughly sterilized. This means systematically cleansing themselves and their skin of all potential contaminates, including their hair. All crew members have to be completely shaved and waxed before launch. Despite this being her seventeenth mission, Yukino Kojima is always stunned at how easily her hair falls away beneath the barber’s clippers, gathering around her ankles like strands of silver fog and leaving a gray fuzz to be waxed off.

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28 March 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Ray Bradbury Award Review 2016

The Ray Bradbury Award is given out every year with the Nebula Awards but is not a Nebula Award in itself. Like the Nebula Awards, the final ballot and the eventual winner are decided by votes from members of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (which despite the name has an international membership).

I like to use the award every year as a sampler of well-loved science fiction and fantasy movies from the previous year. I have been very happy with this tactic, and this year is no exception. I try to watch every movie on the ballot that I can find by rental (usually via RedBox, or occasionally from Comcast On Demand) and review them all within the voting period.

This year, on the ballot but not on this list is the episode of the TV show Jessica Jones titled “AKA Smile”. Since I haven’t seen any episode of the series, even if I could get a copy to watch I didn’t feel it would be fair to review a single episode of a show I’m not familiar with.

At the time I am writing this preliminary post, I haven’t yet rented The Martian, but I intend to.

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02 March 2016 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #13: “One’s Company” by Davian Aw

He finds a forest clearing on a planet of perpetual night in the two hours out of a thousand years that stars spread twinkling across its sky. It’s pure luck that he lands there on his random planet sampling. It’s the most beautiful, peaceful, ethereal place that he has ever seen.

There are no people on this planet. It will never be inhabited. Life evolved to little more than trees (if they are trees, those branching things) that get their food from the soil beneath and what sun that struggles through the clouds. Rocky outcrops ring the clearing in sharp relief against the sky. Beneath the starlight, he forgets about his life and loneliness.

He’s still alone here, but it’s different in the fresh unsullied alien air that fills his lungs as he rests between untrodden grass and unwitnessed skies, different from spending each evening alone in a busy, crowded city, full of strangers he’s too shy to talk to and too scared to try and understand.

Clouds crowd back across the gap, shrouding starlight behind their familiar shield. Darkness falls to rule the clearing. Peter knows it’s time to leave.

He logs the coordinates on his device.

This place would be perfect.

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01 February 2016 ~ 3 Comments

DP FICTION #12: “May Dreams Shelter Us” by Kate O’Connor

The air screams around their ship, the atmosphere burning and clawing at the heat shield. The cabin is dark and too hot after the long, cold quiet of space. Their hands find each other and twine together. I’m here, their interlaced fingers say. I’m with you. It doesn’t matter if they make it through. That they have come this far is victory enough.

***

Raia let go of the controls. The radiation storm had passed. Her hands ached and her eyes burned. The images were already fading from her mind. She scrubbed at her forehead, dislodging the webbed crown of sensors. Her skin tingled and flamed as though she herself had been the ship, slicing through the thickening atmosphere as she hurtled down towards a new world.

She staggered to her feet, drowning in the quiet emptiness of the med bay. Around her, the children slept. Bone weary, she checked the displays. All was well. They had heard her and calmed. No more would be lost today. She sent Jessi the all clear.

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