Monday Book Pick: Grey Lensman

Grey Lensman by E.E. Smith, PhD.

Part of the classic Lensman series, from which all Space Opera springs. It’s the story of Kim Kinnison, the result of thousands of years of selective breeding by an ancient race, to save civilization from the forces of tyranny. It has massive space battles, planet destroying weapons, intrigue, aliens, battles of the mind, and true love.

Let’s not forget the space axe. Space Armor is proof against bullets and death rays, so the heroes use a specialized 30 pound axe to kill their foes.

A ripping good yarn from the Golden Age of Pulp. SciFi Grandmaster Robert Heinlein considered Smith a mentor, and echos of the Lensman series can be found in Heinlein’s work as well as Ringo, Weber, Halderman, and many others.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: I love you Alice B. Toklas

I Love You Alice B. Toklas
Setting the Wayback Machine to 1968 for this Peter Sellers film. He plays an uptight lawyer, what the kids called a “Square” back then. He manages to get a hippy girlfriend, who whips up some pot laced brownies, a favorite recipe of a close and personal friend of Gertrude Stein. Sellers’ character eats them and decides “drop out” and become a hippy. A definite period piece comedy.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Doctor Detroit

Doctor Detroit
Setting the Wayback Machine to 1983 for this Dan Aykroyd comedy gem. You might recognize Howard Hesseman and Fran Drescher. Drescher plays one of four high end “Ladies of the Evening” run by pimp Howard Hesseman. He gets into trouble for not paying off the local crime boss, Mom. He cons Aykroyd, who plays a young college professor, into taking over his job. He creates the persona of “Doctor Detroit” to save the day. Light fun, with decidedly adult humor.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Hunter Killers

The Hunter Killers by Dan Hampton
A well researched look at the creation of the “Wild Weasel” program by the US Air Force during the Vietnam war. The effective SAM (Surface to Air Missile) was a new thing, and the Russians were providing them to the communists in North Vietnam. So the Air Force put radar tracking equipment in planes, along with an Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), to track down the SAM sites and take them out before they could take out the attacking aircraft.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: A Night in the Lonesome October

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Once again going to the classic by the late Grandmaster Roger Zelazny. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack’s involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it’s hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called “The Count” and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, a broom flying witch named Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Detective and his sidekick; Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelazny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahan Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Sunday SciFi: Stargate Atlantis – Vegas

I’ve got one episode to go in order to finish all five seasons of Stargate Atlantis.

I have already watched all ten seasons of Stargate SG1. Just two seasons of Stargate Universe and I’ll have caught up on all the movies and TV series for this franchise. Except for Stargate Origins, which is worth it’s own post.

The last episode I watched (second to last in season 5), entitled Vegas, is one of my favorites from the Stargate Atlantis series.  It’s one of their alternate universe stories (SG1 had some good ones).  In this universe, John Sheppard made a really bad decision while on a combat tour, which ended his military career.  He ends up as a police detective in Las Vegas. He’s working a serial killer case, where the victims are shriveled up corpses with a handprint in the chest.  It’s a Wraith, crash landed on Earth after Rodney Mckay’s team from Atlantis destroyed the Hive ship attacking Earth.  The show is shot in CSI style, I think.  I’ve only seen one CSI episode, and that was the one written by the writers of Two and Half Men.  (Which is owrth checking out. It’s funny and clearly some wish fulfillment by the series creator from another series he worked on.)  In this episode, Rodney tells John Sheppard was is really going on. Aliens, space travel,  and the time he met another  John Sheppard in another universe.  One where Sheppard was a planet saving hero.  Rodney is betting that fundamentally, the two John Sheppards are the same.

Throw in some cool Johnny Cash songs and you have one fine episode.  If you have been paying attention, John Sheppard is a Johnny Cash fan.  The same poster hangs in the dective’s office as another John Sheppard has in his quarters in Atlantis.

 

Monday Book Pick: Black Chamber

Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling
In this book, he is starting yet another alternate history series. The change in history is that President Taft dies of a heart attack, right before the Republican convention in 1912. This allows Theodore Roosevelt to win the nomination, and then go on to beat Woodrow Wilson like a rented mule in the general election. This puts a progressive the the White House with a history of getting things done! Things like nationalizing the railroads, and then extending that federalized transportation to airships. Creating a Federal Bureau of Security that weeds out those who don’t agree with the course of America as defined by the “Progressive Republican” party. Charges of anti-American activities get you 30 years of hard labor building roads and working on national parks. The problem of Mexican bandits crossing the border and raiding Americans was solved by invading Mexico and turning it into an American protectorate. Any Mexicans who objected to that were tracked down by the Army, the Federal Bureau of Security, and the members of the Black Chamber, Roosevelt’s personal black ops group run as part of the Secret Service. But this story really isn’t about all of that. It’s an adventure story. World War I, or as it was known at the time, “The Great War”, was in full swing, and Roosevelt didn’t’ declare War when the US wasn’t ready to fight it like Wilson did. America is going to fight, but when it is well prepared with trained troops with good equipment. The Germans know this too, and have a plan to stop it. Enter Black Chamber operative Luz O’Malley Arostequi. Daughter of a former Rough Rider and a Cuban aristocrat. She boards a airship bound for Europe under cover as a Mexican resistance fighter. She is to link up with a German agent code named “Imperial Sword”, and find out what the German’s plans are, and how to stop them. A dashing good adventure story, as defined by someone else being in a lot of trouble very far away. A good read both as an adventure story, and for S.M. Stirling’s observations into history. This includes the observation that Theodore Roosevelt was a compassionate moderate compared to his daughter Alice.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Quote of the Day

You may go play video games if you wish.

Remember this: Walk away now and you walk away from your interest in history, your ability to tell a good story, your ability to translate dreams into reality; leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, unimaginative first-person shooters, online quasi-historical strategy games, yet another multiplayer NFL game, violence-laden driving simulations, and mindless revisions of innumerable cute Japanese animations. Depart now and you forever separate yourselves from the vital gaming legacies of James Dunnigan, Steve Jackson, Gary Gygax, Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, Frank Chadwick, Andrew Keith, William Keith, John Harshman, Professor Barker, and Richard Tucholka.Turn your backs now and you snuff out the fragile candles of Board Gaming, Miniatures, Fantasy and Science Fiction Roleplaying, and when those flames flicker and expire, the light of the world is extinguished because the creative thought which has moved mankind through the decades leading to the millennium will wither and die on the vine of abandonment and neglect.

— John Kwon on the Traveller Mailing List