Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review: Maria+Holic Episode 1

My Thoughts
As usual, I'll grab first episodes of anime series to see if they're interesting, and with the start of the new year, we're getting the start of the new anime season. The first that I stumbled across is Maria+Holic.

And I've got to admit that I'm truly underwhelmed. The premise here is there's a student at an all-girl's school who, for whatever reason, is a male that's going there dressed as a girl. Enter a new transfer student who discovers the secret and the usual hijinks are supposed to occur.

Frankly, I find the entire setup to be less than thought out. It's one thing to do this scenario if the students in question were junior high kids, but senior? That's pushing my suspension of disbelief just a bit too far.

Of course, if you're just looking at this as a vehicle for the yuri subtext (and by subtext, I mean overt, slap you in the face, yuri) of the main POV character (not the boy, but the transfer student) then you'd probably happy with it.

The artwork is pretty, but it's not on a KyoAni level, and it's nowhere near as good as last year's True Tears. Of course, pretty artwork is often the case for the first episode which gets a bit extra TLC put into it. The amazing thing is when a company keeps the same level of artwork up for every episode.

Anyhow, as said, I was underwhelmed, and it doesn't generate a valid reason for me to suspend my disbelief enough for the hook to work. So, in the end I'm going to have to pass on continueing to watch this one.

Episode Summary
The episode starts out with Kanako Miyame arriving at the girl's school where her parents met. We're then given a whrilwind tour in which all the other girls of the harem are introduced. After all the primary introductions were taken care of, we are then given the prime conflict on which the entire series hinges.

Really, that's all that happens here. Sure, there's a bit of talking, but most of it was them standing around chatting while the background made like this was an ef Memories episode with the bright, abstract patterns behind a siloutte of the focus character. I wasn't that fond of the effect in ef and it's even more annoying here.

Best Of 2008 - Star Wars

The culmination of my "Best of..." series is the Best of 2008 for the Star Wars franchise. Now, Star Wars has had a number of things put out. The long-awaited The Force Unleashed whimpered into our living rooms and libraries via a video game (with slightly divergent game play & story per system), graphic novel and novelization. Legacy of The Force, the 9 book series set a decade after the NJO continued the dark, dreary and depressing Beyond the Saga era. Legacy the comic, and Knights of the Old Republic comics also continued and also continued to excel.

Of course what probably disappointed me the most in the franchise this year was the Coruscant Nights series. It had such potential as the pre-publishing blurbs, and the cover all had a distinctly noir feel to them; a feel which the story itself forgot to utilize.

But again, this is about what was the best thing for Star Wars in 2008, not the stuff that disappointed me, and what was the best thing in Star Wars for 2008 was not a book, it was not the television show (not even the pilot episode on the big screen), and it wasn't even a comic. No, the best thing for 2008 was Hasbro's new Millenium Falcon toy.

THIS is the toy that the original should have been back in '77. This thing at nearly 3 feet long is closer to on-screen accuracy than any Falcon not labeled a prop replica has gotten.

It features a huge list of THINGS TO DO even without the need to put batteries in, and when you do, you get lights, sounds and dialog. Sure, they took a liberty or two (after all, the Falcon doesn't sport a little fighter craft in canon), but the sheer amount of things that they got right negates that.

Here's what Hasbro has to say about the thing:

Best known as the fastest ship in the Star Wars galaxy, piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, this detailed replica of the rebel spacecraft packs powerful secrets and special modifications – inside and out. Measuring more than two-and-a-half feet long, the Millennium Falcon’s uniquely circular style is ready to “blast off” with light-up headlights and loads of electronic vehicle and weapon sounds, including engine boost, cruise mode, fly-by, firing cannons and much more. Open the light-up cockpit and fit up to four figures inside. The vehicles comes with Han Solo and Chewbacca figures and can hold up to 16 more (each sold separately) inside its secret smuggling compartments, pivoting gunner station or missile-firing mini-fighter vehicle. Remove the outer panels to access the ship’s interior. Then, head for the medical bay to “treat” wounded troops. Activate deployment sounds and landing lights with the auto-opening boarding ramp. Or plan your attack against the Empire with a pivoting gunner station, rotating laser turret and 3-missile launcher, with plenty of realistic blasting sounds and projectiles to keep enemies at bay. A pivoting training probe makes lightsaber and movement sounds for those who wish to practice their Force fighting skills. Trigger more than 20 authentic movie phrases and sounds from the voices of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, Chewbacca and R2-D2.Light up the hyperdrive engine lights and fly your imagination into the next constellation – or the other end of your playroom. Add this impressive vehicle to your collection and recreate your favorite battle scenes, or strategize your own endless action adventures. Unassembled vehicle comes with 7 projectiles, mini-fighter vehicle, Han Solo and Chewbacca action figures and instructions.
Truthfully, the only real drawback I see to this toy is the fact that at 2.5 feet long, it would be nigh upon impossible for a 6-7 year old to pick it up and fly it around the house the way I did my old Falcon back in the '80's. But the sheer awesomeness of this thing, makes that almost a negligible concern.

2008 Resolutions Recap

About this time last year I wrote out 10 New Years Resolutions, an action (as described on my blog) which was effectively the first time I had ever done such a thing. Well, that particular page on my website got a hit on it for the first time in months (~11.5 months to be exact) so I thought that since it is time to be creating new ones that I should review those and see just how well I did on them.

  1. Get back into drawing. I know that I've been telling myself this one for years, but it's something that I really want to get back into. My goal is that for this time next year, I'll have the start of a web-comic in place. This got ignored. Flat out, I didn't even pick up a drawing pencil they way I wanted to.
  2. Original Fic. I will finish my original fiction story. Another thing ignored. Jeez, I'm not exactly on a role here. But at least on this one I did add a few hundred words before promptly forgetting it.
  3. Lose 30 lbs. I'm nearing 200lbs these days. Sitting at a desk, being happily married, such things are anathema to maintaining ones weight. Somehow, I will find the time to lose that weight. Which means I'll probably have to get up at 5:30 or some similar God forsaken hour and go running. While this did not get ignored, I didn't lose the 30 lbs. What happened is I actually hit the 205 lbs mark, and then started working out (at the forsaken hour of 6am) and got back down to 193 lbs before the freezing temperature made getting out of bed too much trouble.
  4. Write more for my other blogs. I need to produce more content for both my programming blog and the KrashPAD, and I need to do so without sacrificing content that is generated for No Krakana. Either that or fold everything into one blog. That was something I really had not wanted to do, as I like the thematic separation which distinct blogs provides. Well, I wrote a little bit, but in the end my word count for 2008 across all my blogs was less than the previous year. Hopefully, this is changing now. Still, I'm not folding everything into a single blog, though I'm considering some type of meta-site type concept which would give all my blogs a unified look and feel as well as top level links to one another...
  5. Read the NJO in order from the beginning. Does one really need to explain Star Wars? This I did
  6. Get a pay raise. What can I say, I like money. I did this one as well.
  7. Finish unpacking. We still have boxes hanging out in the garage. I need all of those things out of there, so I can start parking in there, and so we can get a deep freezer. I'm parking in the garage, but we're still not done.
  8. Convince my wife of the need to have a Star Wars ForceFX Lightsaber for the mantle. Yes, I know that I'm dreaming of this one, but hey, I can resolve myself to try, right? My lovely, beautiful, smart and incredibly clever wife did get me one of these things for Christmas this year. Still haven't convinced her that the mantle is the correct place for it though...
  9. Finish my programming project. This one means a lot to me, I have got to get this done, which means I need to focus time to it. Actually, this got put off, as the man with the business knowledge that it was related to realized that he had some fundamental flaw in his concepts and was not able to rectify the issues.
  10. Find a trustworthy baby sitter. I can admit that we're a bit... protective of our kids. Regardless of that, we need to find ourselves someone's teenage daughter that we trust enough to watch our monsters so we can have the occasional night out. How else am I going to get to see all those SF movies that are appearing in theaters over the next year. Well, it wasn't a teenage daughter that showed up, but rather my Mother-in-law got stationed at DHQ here in Jackson, so I guess that counts as a success.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Of 2008 - Comic

What comic series that was produced this year could top this chart? And believe me there's a bunch of good comics out there; especially if I include manga and manwha in this list. But in my opinion, there's one that just outshines all the others. Of course I'm talking about All Star Superman.

This was a series created by Morrison & Quitely, and started back in January of 2006 and finishing its 12 issue run in October of this year.

And that length of time was needed to provide a visually stunning, and well-written comic series. And the hardcover trade (at least for volume 1) is beautiful as well.

Overall, this is the best comic I've read in years, and definitely the best Superhero comic I've read in years.. I firmly believe it's up there with (if not surpassing) such great storylines as The Dark Phoenix Saga, The Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns.

Consider, since All-Star is not bound by the standard DC continuity mess, so it's inherently easy for new readers to pick up without having to worry about decades of history. Couple that with Morrisson's simple understanding of the character--down to little things like the fact that he would have the coolest stuff in the universe (things like Kandor and a zoo hiding up in his fortress), and you got the possibility for a great story; a possibility which Morrisson picks up and runs with to good results.

If you've not gotten around to reading this series, I cannot encourage you to do so enough. Go to Amazon get Volume 1 (it's only $20) and go ahead and pre-order Volume 2. I firmly believe that you'll be happy to have done so.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Of 2008 - Movie

Continuing my "Best of..." series I now turn my focus onto the movies that were released in 2008. And what a fun year for genre movies this one turned out to be. Such gems as The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Wall-E, City of Ember and Speed Racer were all released this year; which is not to say that there was not a decent amount of drek. Because for every Iron Man there was a Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, and for every Wall-E there was a The Happening. Additionally there were the movies that weren't great and they weren't that bad either, forgettable is probably the best way to describe them and a good example of that would be the Hulk movie.

But this is talking about the Best of the year, and while a large number of folks out there would pick The Dark Knight or Iron Man I have to choose Speed Racer.

Surprise!

Now, I know everyone is probably thinking "What the..." or some similar concept, but bear with me. First off, it's a visually stunning piece of cinematography. It's bright, colorful and full of pretty people--it is after all based on an anime.

Taking a step further beyond that, it also has a good plot, with surprisingly serious subject matters being tackled especially as "morals" to the story. In the overt, there is the simple fact of "Cheaters never win." And if that was the only moral hiding in it, then I'd be ecstatic to continue letting my kids watch it on a nearly daily basis (which believe me, they do).

But it's not. There's also the whole subplot of underdogs who believe in themselves, and practice hard at getting good at something can achieve success. And even beyond that there's the whole thought of doing what is right and good, despite what everyone else is saying.

In truth, I'm amazed that the Academy didn't nominate this movie for an Academy in the Special Effects category. I mean the lackluster effects of Crystal Skull and Hancock managed to get nods, and this one didn't; it's an utter travesty.

So, we have a movie that's visually stunning and teaches a good moral lesson, and it's just great genre in general. Sure, the critics panned it, the elderly were confused and loads of folks laughed it off.

Yet my two sons love it. It sparks their imagination, and they'll both go running about the house pretending to be in the Grand Prix or some other race. And let's be honest, most of us geeks would not be so if there was not a movie, or boook or something out there that grabbed a hold of our imaginations and just would not let go of it.

And it does all of this while being fun and lighthearted. Which is something that you just can't say about nihilistic vehicles such as The Dark Knight.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Best of 2008 - Television

This time around, there was a clear, simple, hands-down winner. We're talking no-contest territory here. Despite my love for Sanctuary, the Middleman has it beat every which way and twice on Sundays.

The Middleman & Wendy WatsonSure, it started its life out as a comic book, but truthfully that just made it all the better. It was a smart, funny, and fun series. Sure, the effects were a bit daft at times but ultimately that didn't much matter. After all, the absurdity, comedy and just flat out great writing of the show begged you to suspend your disbelief in that regard.

Now here's the thing about the Middleman, it was a good enough show to get me to remind my wife that it was time to watch an episode. That alone tells pretty much anyone who knows me just how good I think this show is.

And to put it into perspective, I DVR episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and sometimes leave them waiting there for days (or in the case of the Jar-Jar episode two weeks). Sanctuary does get watched the week it airs, but I usually need to be reminded about it by my beautiful wife.

Now, the bad news about this is that they're not certain if they are going to get the green light to produce a second season. Which utterly flummoxed me, and makes me wonder just what the folks over at ABC Family are thinking. I mean, it's supposed to be Fox's thing to destroy wonderful geek-fare on TV.

Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if they did something stupid like base it on sales of the DVD--if that even gets produced. Sometimes, the things they do to us that like genre items makes me wonder why I couldn't geek out about one of those odd sports things...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Best of 2008 - Anime

As stated earlier, I'm forcing myself to go back and review everything geek that was put out this year. A hard job I know, but I suffer for my readers--even if I don't post nearly as often as I should. The first in this series will be Anime.

There were a number of animes that I adored this year, and for a number of different reasons. Shugo Chara, Macross Frontier, Eve No Jikan, and Soul Eater to name a few. But the anime that I enjoyed above all the others, the one which made me go "wow" the most this year would have to be True Tears.

It's a great story between a guy and three girls, and more importantly it touches on so many other subtexts. Things about freedom and the difference between those that inspire us and those that we love.

It also doesn't hurt that one of the main characters just flat-out reminds me of my wife. It's a mixture of the character design and the character herself, but Noe reminds me of her. Noe was a bright, cheerful innocent type character--and she was eclectic. All of which are traits she shares with my beloved (naming the school's chickens is something I could see my wife doing).

Speaking of characters, they were all beautiful here. As were the backgrounds, and quite frankly all aspects of the animation. One technique involved here, which I really enjoyed, was how the backgrounds were painted scenes which the animated characters were in front of. In my opinion that add quite a bit to the scenery.

Now, I feel the need to point out that the title True Tears started out as a Visual Novel. A Visual Novel which I've never viewed, nor will I have a chance to unless they decide to translate it. This anime has nothing to do with that, despite them sharing the same title. The visual novel features different characters and a different plotline all together.

Anyways, in the anime there were 5 primary characters: the main protagonist Shinichirō, his friend Miyokichi , and then the three girls, Noe, Hiromi and Aiko. The story itself revolves around the relationships between these 5 characters.

Additionally, it brings to the front such concepts as growing up, living with your choices, liberation and the loss of innocence. These things are pushed, not overtly, but through subtext and makes the viewer think.

But above all, it was fun. I haven't enjoyed a anime this much since Sōkō no Strain. Which is saying quite a bit, because that is my favorite mecha show ever (it slapped down the previous place holder in that category, Voltron, like so much useless junk it's not even funny).

If you've not seen it, I highly recommend it. Additionally, if it ever does get released here in the States it's one of the shows which I do wish to add to my collection. For now, just watch the opening:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Best of 2008 - Books

There were a lot of books that were released this year. Looking at my shelves, I see quite a few Star Wars novels, and then a good handful of other books which managed to make it into my buy stack that appeared over the last year.

And that's not counting the ones I read from the library, while sitting in the bookstore or just plain never got to read.

Unfortunately, I cant' talk about them all, and this is a BEST OF... series, so of course that means I can only pick one. Out of all these things I've written, this had to have been my hardest choice. After all, books is one of the main reasons I created this blogs. Literature (and yes, genre novels are literature) is one of my biggest passions. I love the stuff. I love the feel of books, their smell, and just reading the things.

As an aside, I can admit that a secondary reason for my hesitance in adopting an e-book reader is the fact that I would no longer have a physical copy of the book. Oddly, I think that's the main reason my wife wants me to get one.

Digression aside, there were 3 books which I ultimately narrowed it down to: Zoe's Tale, Little Brother and By Schism Rent Asunder. What's odd is that two of those are classified as "young adult novels."

While looking for random reasons to cull two of these, I cut By Schism Rent Asunder from the running because it's a sequel novel. So that was one down. The other two were both great, and fun reads. Good stories with good characters.

It was hard to choose.

And I don't like hard. So I got a quarter and flipped it.

Random, I know.

Fortunately, I'm joking. The story I chose to represent the best book from 2008 was Little Brother. After all, Mr. Doctorow's novel had something which Zoe's Tale lacked. Little Brother scared me. Sure that fear was because I can SEE Little Brother happening, but it was still there.

And while I have much love for Mr. Scalzi's novels, Doctorow just won hands down this time out. Earlier this year I had this to say about the book:

This is a novel that combines technology with common, daily events, and then shove them out until you reach their ultimate conclusion. The fact that Big Brother is watching you. Using everything from wifi sniffing to Bayesian statistics, Mr. Doctorow spins a story about the DHS and its crackdown on the civil rights, all in the name of security, in the setting of San Fransisco.
I'm still terrified that it's going to come to pass. It scares me on a fundamental level, and that's probably made worse because we're getting another Big Government/Socialist President in office come January.

If you've not read this book yet, buy it. If you don't have the budget to buy a hard copy, or you've never read a Doctorow novel and want to try it first, then go here and download it. Mr. Doctorow has a tendency to give out free electronic versions of his books. He's just that internet savvy that way.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Of 2008 - Overview

Over the next few days I'll be posting up a series of entries on what I saw as the best of the various geek-doms which this blog caters to, and were put out this year.

This is a hard, hard task for me, as it means that I've got to pick through all this stuff that I love and adore and find just that item that slams me and says "THIS ONE!" But, easy isn't for Jedi and I'm more than willing to suffer this particular treachery in order to provide this service.

As I put up the articles, I'll add links back to here. Now, without further ado, the categories:

  • Books
  • Anime
  • Television
  • Movie
  • Comics
  • Star Wars

Christmas 2008

The child in me, like in most of us, loves Christmas. I mean it's a time of the year that just appeals to those base natures we all hold within us: greed, gluttony, sloth, & envy. The adult in me rails against it emphasizing the other components of the season (joy, generosity, caring, & fellowship), because I know that without that counterpoint, that's half the 7 deadly sins right there bundled into a nice, little holiday package (complete with blinking lights).

But as I said, the child in me loves it.

And I fear that my beloved wife encourages it.

After all, she gives me the best gifts out there. Case in point, this year's gift: the ForceFX Lightsaber. I've got to admit that this was a "sqeee" worthy gift.

Now, if only she hadn't made me go on a treasure hunt to find it. But that's okay, I'm patient and creative, so I'll come up with some fun way to return that particular favor.

As it stands, I'm happy about the gift. Okay, I'm really, really, happy about the gift. And every time I turn it on and it lights up both my boys come running to see it as well.

Gotta love raising up two brand, spanking new Geeks.

Which brings me to what the boys got for Christmas. The eldest received a Rancor, Jedi Secura's starfighter and then a host of other figures. The younger got a number of the Galactic Heroes, including Vader's Tie-Advanced, and a Jabba play set (it's odd to see a cute representation of the "vile gangster" Jabba the Hutt).

What we did give to the both of them though were the Christmas stocking stuffer versions of the Galactic Heroes figures. This is the cuteness of the figures coupled with adorable Christmas motifs attached--when I first saw I knew I must provide them to my children.

I love being a parent, especially at Christmas. After all it means I can get my boys all these geek toys and then play with them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dystopia Abounds!

I've got to admit that I enjoy the odd dystopic vision of the future. Judge Dredd, Children of Men, even that silly dragon movie with Christian Bale. But that's what they should be: movies, and books and comics. And of course, that love even extends to some of Mr. King's novels. The one I'm thinking of is The Running Man. This is one of his "Bachman books" and the 1999 mass market paperback edition has the following as a back-cover blurb:

The runaway bestseller about the ultimate reality show

The year is 2025. The Running Man is America's favorite television game show. Ben Richards is the program's latest contestant-and the Hunters' latest target in a rigged game of death...
It's a good blurb and concept for a story set in a dystopian future. About a runner, being chased by hunters, on national television.

Now, imagine my shock and surprise when I saw it advertised on television. And no, I'm not talking about the silly mid-eighties movie. I'm talking about Cha$e.
My jaw about fell to the ground when I saw this ad. The about page describes the show as thus:
Cha$e is an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat reality-competition show that pits a group of contestants against each other in the quest for cash prizes, while being stalked by relentless "hunters." The action takes place in real time over 60 minutes throughout various Los Angeles landmark locations including San Pedro Harbor, Universal Theme Park and Descanso Gardens.

As the clock counts down, the competition gets harder as more hunters appear on the "game board," the perimeter changes, and tasks are assigned that test fraying nerves. Contestants earn money for every second they "stay alive." If they are overrun by a hunter, they lose everything. Once the exit point is revealed, the first person to find the location wins up to $50,000.

Cha$e is executive-produced by Rick Telles for Buena Vista Productions, Realand Productions and Fujisanke. Telles was the co-executive producer on Who Wants to Be a Superhero? for SCI FI and producer on MTV's Fear.

Allison Chase Coleman serves as co-executive producer, and was recently the supervising producer on The Amazing Race.
Sure, it's not quite the same as the Running Man televison show in the novel of the same name, but it's nigh upon the same (I wonder if they just couldn't get the licensing rights while brainstorming names for this game show).

As I said, I love my dystopian futures, but that doesn't mean I want to live in one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Review: The Dark Knight

Eek, I was looking through my Google Docs the other day and discovered that I had yet to post this review. So, without further ado, here's my review of The Dark Knight (with a few modifications).


I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight, and the overriding, simplest concept that I feel is: yipppie! Much like Anakin in TPM, I was just floored by the sheer fun of this particular ride. Was there drawbacks? Sure, I can always nitpick SOMETHING, but overall it was a great film: both for the comic geek in me, and the more standard SF geek which is my beautiful wife.

Anyways, the plot for this movie goes something like this (taken from IMDB.com):

Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker.
Now, anyone stumbling across this blog of mine, is going to know about that--after all, there's a high likelihood that you too are a geek. And as a geek, you more thank likely saw this movie: after all, everyone else saw this movie. It raked in record setting amounts of money; and it did it for good reason.

Those reasons are:
  1. A Great Story
  2. Wonderfully dynamic characters
  3. Awesome explosions
And in that order.

The story, despite my proclivities towards escapism, was dark, and gritty as only a batman story can or should be. It's an incredibly "Batman" concept that at what is his greatest hour, in the eyes of the city he loves, he becomes the proverbial dark knight; a counterpoint to the white knights of the GPD and the other public servants.

This was Batman; doing what he needs to in order to both be himself and to save Gotham City.

Of course, what's a story without characters?

And here we have a wealth of primary characters, and an assortment of secondary ones. The primary characters are of course, Batman, the Joker and Harvey Dent. They are a triumvirate of the concepts which are fundamentally at the core of the Batman concept: revenge, insanity, and justice.

Of course, the big question then becomes which one is which? Is Batman revenge or justice? Or is he insane? After all, he's a grown man running around dressed as a bat beating people up. The thing is that all three of these characters are all three (as all good characters have multiple aspects to themselves) but each of them also has a driving force behind them.

Batman is driven by his need for vengeance, the same way that The Joker is driven by his insanity and the need for justice pushes Dent into his role as Two-Face.

Despite the fact that Batman is the titular character, he's actually the least interesting in this film of the franchise. Also, despite the sheer amount of marketing love given to the Joker's character (and that whole "why so serious?" viral campaign) The Joker doesn't really float my boat either.

The thing is that we KNOW what they're about. We know that the Batman is going to do what's right. We know that the Joker is utterly insane, and will do pretty much anything (especially if he thinks it'll get Batman to laugh).

No, the character that I thought had the most to offer here was Harvey Dent. The things that drive him, the forces which push him through out this film are real, and vibrant.

What's more they aren't really the manic insanity which drives either the Batman or the Joker. Sure, as Two-Face he's nutters, but that's because he simply cracked. You can't say the same about the other two characters.

But, enough about that. Let's talk about what's really important now. After all, this is a Batman movie, and if you take away all the detective mojo and the world-class martial arts moves, you're given what makes Batman rock: the gadgets.

After all, what's Batman without his utility belt? The Immortal Iron Fist? How boring is that...

Anyways, in Batman Begins, we were given the Tumbler: and we loved it. This time out, we were given the batpod, and while much love has to be given to motorcycles, I'm less than thrilled by the thing.

Why? Because it has guns.

This is BATMAN, he don't need no stinking guns. Plus guns are what killed his parents. Part of his whole shtick is that he didn't use guns.

But that's not the most interesting technology that they pioneer in this film. That title goes to their extrapolation of the echo-location, GPS, and report-back capabilities of cellular and other smart devices. You know those little doohickeys which we all carry around with us everywhere we go these days. It actually kind of scares me because I see how the technology is possible.

After all, a decade ago, my boss wrote the software which would pinpoint a cell phone's location within a few meters by utilizing tower triangulation.

That was a decade ago. Before our phones were more powerful than my first home computer. Before our phones came standard with faster internet access than a good portion of my extended family uses for home access.

Scary huh--and I think it's a good time to plug Doctorow's Little Brother again here.

Anyways, to sum things up, this movie rocked. It had an awesome story, great characters and nifty, but scary, techno-babble. I for one, can't wait for this to come to DVD (which is scheduled for December ninth) just so I can watch it again.

I give this a 4 out of 4.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

ToraDora Episode 2

My Thoughts
I'm still a tad hesitant about this show, as it's shaping up to be a fairly formulaic romantic-comedy. Nothing that we haven't seen before. But what gets this one the most points is the simple fact that it is funny.

Yes, I can admit I actually laughed at this episode. Out loud.

So, from that simple thing (that it made me laugh) I think I'll continue watching. Plus it should be interesting to see who ends up with who at the end. Which is why these things keep getting made.

Episode Summary

The episode starts out with the classic misunderstanding when Minori sees Taiga and Ryūji walking to school together. Later on, the two begin their plan to get Taiga and Kitamura together, and their first effort involves Ryūji beaning Kitamura's gym partner wtih a ball.

Which doesn't go well.

Their next bit is cookiees.

Which again doesn't go well.

So, while Taiga is being all emo over these failures, Ryūji cheers her up. An action which has the unforeseen consequences of the class coming to the conclusion that they're dating now.

Once that rumor gets into play, Taiga tells Ryūji that she'd confess in the morning, and that they no longer have to be friends. An action which depresses Ryūji's mom, and bothers Ryūji himself. The next day at school, Taiga takes the initiative and fusses at everyone for the rumor, then goes to Minori to tell her that the rumor wasn't true before finding Kitamura and confessing to him.

Ryūji happens to overhear the confession, and the resulting turn down from Kitamura--mainly because Kitamura also sees what everyone in their class BUT Ryūji and Taiga see. The episode ends with those two skipping school so that Ryūji can make Taiga a meal.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tora Dora! Episode 1

My Thoughts
As far as first episodes goes, it does a great job of setting things up. Ryūji's character is really well-defined. It's hammered in quite nicely his issues with the fact that everyone around thinks him a delinquent--despite his actions to the contrary.

And Taiga's surliness goes a long way to defining her character as well.

Now, here's hoping there's more to her than a typical tsundere character. Not that I'm really expecting much beyond that, but it would be nice for something new on occasion.

Anyways, this promises to be a decent romantic comedy anime, so I'll see where it goes from here.

One thing that I am a tad hesitant about is the artwork. It reminds me a lot of the art from Code E and Mission E (I admit that it's the lack of a nose on Ryūji that brings up that comparison). But this is the same studio that produced Sky Girls so I expect it to pick up at least somewaht.

The final thing that caught my attent is: What exactly is up with Ryūji's mom?

Her first appearance she's drunk on the floor, and she acts more like a older sister than a mother. I'm actually wondering if that'll be something that gets "discovered" later on in the anime. But hey, she does support the family, even if it's by working at a hostess-bar.

Episode Summary
Ryūji Takasu who is frustrated at trying to look his best as he enters his second year of high school. Despite his gentle personality, his eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent so he does not have many close friends.

Ryūji goes to school and is happy to find that he gets to be in the same class as his best friend Yūsaku Kitamura and the girl he's crushing on, Minori Kushieda. However, it is then that he unexpectedly runs into "the school's most dangerous animal of the highest risk level" — Taiga Aisaka — who just happens to also be in his class, and is a good friend of Minori.

Ryūji has a teacher conference, and when he goes back to his classroom to retrieve his bag discovers that Taiga's still there. He grabs his back, an action which Taiga tries to stop, and once she storms off, he cleans up the mess they had made.

That night, Taiga sneaks into his house in an attempt to steal back the bag, which contains a love letter to Kitamura. Once again, Ryūji and Taiga fight, with the end result that Ryūji makes Taiga a meal.

The next morning, he goes to her apartment (conviently next door) and cleans up her apartment for her.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shhhh, Don't tell anyone I'm posting again...

Well, after way too long between actively blogging, I'm back, with renewed commitment to actually putting more words out there on the internet.

Because we all know that there's not enough folks with superiority complexes exclaiming the rightness of their own viewpoint on the internet.

And in case you happen to be wondering just what it has been that I've been doing with my mounds and mounds of free time, I present to you, the flowchart which I apparently live my life by.

No, seriously.

Anyways, I've once more have gotten on the SF bandwagon, and feel that I know have time to actually write interesting, to me at least, articles on things that... well interest me.

Now, before I get any further into this, I've got a confession to make. It's something so dark, dreary and despicable, I'm almost ashamed that I done it in the first place.

I've read Twilight.

I know, hard to believe, but yes, I've actually managed to snicker through read all 4 novels.

I mean, it's like the worst FanFic written by 14 year old girls out there--all over the top mush with no true bearing on reality or relationships in general.

And that's even BEFORE I get started on the climatic battle at the end of the fourth, and final, novel of the series.

This is one of those things that one wishes they could unread. Which is saying something, because I didn't feel that way about Where the Heart Is or any random Nicholas Sparks novels I've read through the years.

Oh well. In other book news, I've read the second of that unalterably boring book series, Coruscant Knights, and will try to generate a review when that portion of my brain finally wakes up.

Then my brother-in-law was kind enough to hand me over his entire set of the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest and the new novel, Brisinger). The lucky dog got a Kindle--though I'm still not certain that I'd want one just due to the DRM involved. You'd think that Amazon, and their DRM-Free music store, would sell DRM free eBooks that would work on any eBook Reader out there, alas though.

But that's off-topic, or at least a rant for another day.

On the proverbial idiot box, we get the first of the Clone Wars cartoon episodes this Friday. I'm still hesitant over these, as the movie really, really reeked. Then that's coupled with the whole thing that we already know what's going to happen and it's a nice recipe for absolutely no danger for the characters.

Of more importance, is the new SciFi series Sanctuary. This I'm somewhat excited about--but then again, I was kind of excited about Fringe as well, and was left really underwhelmed by that series. For those who don't know Sanctuary stars SG-1's Amanda Tapping, and started life as a web-based episodic video series. Which is utterly cool on just the geek principle involved.

Anyways, that's enough rambling for one evening. It's time to go watch some anime.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amuri in Star Ocean Episode 1

I've stumbled upon what has to be the oddest SF series I've ever watched. I can admit that I pulled this down just because it was a #1. I had no idea what it was about, or even that it was a SF series.

It's definitely an odd beast, and the hook at the start pulled me in right away. I mean how many other series start off with blowing the narrator out into space. Now, ignoring the gross... disobedience to physics, There was one thing that really impressed me.

The sheer number of explosions.

I mean every time you turned around, there was another one. A big boom. It was great. Explosions at the beginning, explosions through out the middle, and even bigger ones at the end.

From my guess, that's what this whole OVA is about. Pretty explosions.

Well, either that or silly outfits.

It's kind of a toss up at this point.

And yes, that is a snorkel. Well, it's a mixture of a snorkel and a PEZ dispenser.

Y'know, the more I write about this, the sadder that I am that I watched all of it.

Anyways here's the plot synopsis from ANN's Encyclopedia:

In the year 01 of the new age, the sun began to radiate increased amounts of radiation. A few years later, very strong children with unique abilities were born. Amuri Kakyoin is a 13 year old girl born with a special 'Allergy', called 'Repultion'. This ability keeps her from actually touching most of her environment, but also protects her from harm. During a trip to space station Pink Coral, unknown enemies from the junk planet Galapagos attack and destroy the entire space station. Amuri survives being launched into space because of her 'Allergy', but is picked up by the attackers. When the machines of Galapagos attempt to destroy her, a girl named Suzu Ling Yunque shows up with a kimono-like space suit designed from Amuri's DNA. The suit lets her use her 'Repulsion' ability on a large scale. Amuri has lived her whole life unable to touch other people, however, this cheerful and strange girl was not Repulsed upon contact.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Review: Jedit Twilight: Coruscant Nights I

Yes, I have once more submitted myself unto the Star Wars authors in the hopes of finding a book which would enthrall, titillate and overall give me the chance to enjoy a brief bit of fantasy-escapism for about a hundred thousand words or so. This time it was Michael Reeves' latest contribution to the Expanded Universe, entitled Jedi Twilight: Coruscant Nights I (ISBN: 9780345477507). This particular novel clocked in at 350 pages, which included a 3 page preview of the next Coruscant Nights novel. Now the fact that it took me around two weeks to actually read this book should be a decent indicator of my overall feelings towards it. Especially when you consider that I've purchased three others and finished 4 books in the same time frame--but more on that later, for now let's talk about the other things.

The plot itself is fairly standard adventure stuff, despite the almost noir underpinnings of the cover and the back-cover blurb. This was actually highly disappointing. I was wanting a noir murder mystery. It would have been new and exciting, yet what we ended up with was more of the same. That aside, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the plot: it just held the promise of so much more.

As far as characters are concerned, eleven people appear on the dramatis personae, giving the impression of a reasonably-sized cast, but in my opinion, that was someone reaching a bit to make it longer. Over half of those characters barely got screen time, and one of them appeared on only a handful of pages. Of those that remained, the important ones were: Den Dhur, Jax Pavan, Nick Rostu and I5.

Of those, the only one who really grew in the story was Jax Pavan. In the end, this was Jax's story. He was the one that had a task to go through, one that related to what it means to be a Jedi and what he should be doing with his life in general in a universe that has suffered through the Jedi Purge.

The villians of the piece were some random Hutt, who didn't get in the dramatis personae, Xizor and Darth Vader. Did they grow as characters? Did we get new insights or concepts for them? No. Not really. And that was a sad thing.

Mechanics were well done, no typos, no glaring grammatical issues and in general a well wrought story. There was one issue I had with it--the author's reliance on using imaginary concepts to describe concepts both imaginary and real. The most annoying to me is probably the oddball terms coined to describe common things. For example pyrowall and conapt. Why couldn't the author have just said firewall and apartment?

But the biggest drawback I had in this novel was that I was bored. The fact that the two primary antagonists of this novel were known to have survived (because they appear in later stories) ensured that I had no sense of danger. Sadly, I fear that this will be a problem with all books set in the Dark Times, and even the Force Unleashed video game. They can't kill Vader because he has to be around for the OT.

This boredom is the problem with this novel. There was no sense of adventure--something that Reaves could have generated by just having the primary antagonists be different people.

Overall, it was an all right book. If someone were to read all the Star Wars novels in chronological order, without knowing about the Original Trilogy, then, that person could be thrilled by this novel. It's a well-written book. But it's not a noir murder mystery set in the Star Wars universe, and by having the antagonists be Darth Vader and Xizor well, you just know that the protagonists just aren't going to win.

In the end, I'm giving this a 1.8 out of 3. Which is sad, because it had the potential to be a great book.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Taking Collecting to a Whole New Level

I'm a collector. I like having things. Legos, action figures, glasses, statuettes, prop replicas, trading cards--there's all sorts of things that fall into my purview of "stuff I want."

Ultimately, it's an aspect of being a fan. No matter the fandom, there's collectibles attached to it. And if there's not collectibles attached to it, then that means it's solely a literary work (there's just no love for the book-fans).

That said, I fear that this urge to get stuff related to our beloved fandom has extending out past the insane and have taken us squarely into the "what are people thinking??" realm.

Need proof? Then go take a look at this article regarding collecting on StarWars.com. I'll wait.

Back? Did you read it all?

Good.

Interesting huh? That's the Official Star Wars site, endorsing people to basically create a brand new branch of Star Wars collecting. Consider this paragraph:

But collecting Star Wars theatrical tickets is just the beginning. Star Wars has offered all sorts of extracurricular activities throughout the past -- countless conventions, scores of concerts, theme park rides, and museum exhibits around the world. Tickets to these events make fascinating mementos for fans to take away, and can also be conveniently displayed in frames or scrapbooks.

Recently, sports fans and rock-and-roll enthusiasts have started paying attention to the actual tickets purchased at specific games or concerts, since they represent a significant event in the career of a player or artist. With Star Wars firmly meshed into our social fabric, all events associated with it may become historically relevant to anyone studying the effects and influence of this iconic saga on modern culture.


Trading card collectors appear to be the forward thinkers in this relatively new hobby for Star Wars fans, which seems a natural extension to that veteran category of Star Wars collecting. Tickets, like trading cards, are traditionally small, printed on cardstock or paper, and feature a unique item of information, be it text or imagery. But tickets can appeal to other Star Wars collectors as well, such as those interested in theater-related paraphernalia or cast and crew items.


He's basically creating a guide book to this entire new branch of collecting. It's an incredibly meta-mind bending prospect. Collecting began because of love for a franchise. Geeks, the world over, saw the toys and other things and said "I must have this, because I love XYZ so much." Yet here, we have the company responsible for producing this cacophony of junk, telling us, hey, look at these things that you've not been collecting, start buying it.

Now, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal. After all, Lucas Film Licensing doesn't produce these items. They're not out there creating the actual tickets that you get when you went to see Star Wars at the theater.

Yet, it's not just about the actual items being collected. There's an entire industry built up around collectibles. Things such as guidebooks, displays, and even price guides. Not to mention the secondary markets such as eBay and collectible shops.

This is big business, and here's LFL once again telling the fans: we don't really care about you, all we want is your money, and we're not above using your collecting habits in order to separate you from it.

For other examples, see the Galactic Heroes line of figures for preschoolers. They routinely release new figures in double packs with older figures. That's torture on money-conscious collectors, especially those who want to be completists, even if it's just in a single toy-line.

I know that now that the proverbial genie has been loosed that there will now be a market for these items, but I am disturbed at the subtlety which LFL uses to push the fandom into more and more markets which they can mine for funding.

Part of me is annoyed at LFL for this. It is the part of me that rages against being used by anything or anybody.

Yet another part of me, the part that's a capitalist through and through, can't wait to see what collectible area LFL comes up with next.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another New MEME

This is coming from World in a Satin Bag, and the actual meme, can be found here: http://wisb.blogspot.com/2008/08/100-favorite-sff-authors-meme.html.

As noted on the website, the rules are fairly simple:

  • Bold the authors whose work you have read (even just one book or story).
  • Italicize authors you don't want to read.
  • Leave everyone else unmarked.
And now for my entry...

1. Terry Pratchett
2. JRR Tolkien
3. Neil Gaiman
4. Douglas Adams

5. George RR Martin

6. Isaac Asimov
7. Iain M. Banks
8. Philip K. Dick
9. HG Wells
10. Robert Rankin
11. Ursula K. LeGuin
12. David Gemmell
13. Peter F. Hamilton
14. Frank Herbert

15. Robert Heinlein

16. JK Rowling

17. Robert Jordan

18. Arthur C. Clarke

19. Ray Bradbury

20. Stephen King
21. Robin Hobb
22. Philip Pullman
23. John Wyndham
24. Diana Wynne Jones
25. CS Lewis
26. Guy Gavriel Kay
27. William Gibson
28. Steven Erikson
29. Anne McCaffrey
30. Roger Zelazny
31. Lois McMaster Bujold
32. Raymond E. Feist
33. China Mieville
34. Gene Wolfe
35. Stephen Donaldson
36. Orson Scott Card

37. Alan Moore

38. David Eddings

39. Michael Moorcock
40. Trudi Canavan
41. Kurt Vonnegut
42. Tad Williams
43. Jim Butcher
44. Clive Barker
45. Neal Stephenson

46. Alastair Reynolds

47. Jules Verne
48. Mervyn Peake
49. H.P. Lovecraft
50. Sherri S. Tepper
51. Robert E. Howard
52. J.G. Ballard
53. Octavia Butler
54. Jasper Fforde
55. Harlan Ellison
56. CJ Cherryh
57. Mercedes Lackey
58. Jennifer Fallon
59. Stephen Baxter
60. Richard Morgan
61. Terry Brooks
62. Elizabeth Haydon
63. Dan Simmons
64. Richard Matheson
65. Marion Zimmer Bradley
66. Harry Harrison
67. Jack Vance
68. Katharine Kerr
69. Alfred Bester
70. Larry Niven
71. Stanislaw Lem
72. Susanna Clarke
73. Robert Silverberg
74. Edgar Rice Burroughs
75. Julian May
76. Charles de Lint
77. Samuel R. Delany
78. George Orwell
79. Simon Clark
80. Joe Haldeman
81. Joe Abercrombie
82. J.V. Jones
83. Theodore Sturgeon
84. Kim Stanley Robinson
85. Jacqueline Carey
86. M. John Harrison
87. David Weber
88. Scott Lynch
89. Jonathan Carroll
90. Christopher Priest
91. Jon Courtney Grimwood
92. Michael Marshall Smith
93. Olaf Stapledon
94. Ken MacLeod
95. Brian W. Aldiss
96. Terry Goodkind
97. Charles Stross
98. Sara Douglass
99. Gwyneth Jones
100. James Herbert

Wow, 35 authors that I've read (at least that I can definitively say that I've read, I'm uncertain about Priest, MacLeod, de Lint and Fiest. I'm also pondering the lack of some SF/F authors from the list. Consider, where are Bova and L'Engle? While, yes, King does have some Fantasy novels to his name, either of those two would make a bit more sense than him--at least in my opinion.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coasting on the beach

I've spent the last week at the beach. It's had its moments (such as the jetskis) but it was primarily a working retreat. Many, many hours of dealing with problems and other such things. What's this got to do with SF? Who knows, that's not really that important.

But I have watched a few movies this week. The closest that could be called SF would have to be the new WarGames movie. Which was basically the plot of the original with a few twists and turns in an effort to make it a brand new movie. It wasn't bad, just... it has the potential to create a franchise of these movies that could become formulaic. Basically if a WarGames 3 comes out and it's uses the exact same plot device to solve the problems, then they've got a problem on their hands.

Alas, it's all fun and good until they stop producing good SF.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rambling, Just a Day Late

Well, maybe more than a day, as it's been an incredibly long time since I last updated.

Of course, as always I have that nice "I'm busy" excuse on hand, but sooner or later my life is going to have to settle down enough that I can actually resume blogging on a consistent basis. At least for this blog, the KrashPAD and A Programmer's Dream I'll probably always be more hit and miss on updates for those as they're somewhat specialized.

Anyways, my life has been somewhat hectic. A decent number of work projects, and all the joy which accompanies those. PLUS I get to meet with one of our clients in a few days, and will have to showcase the software I've been building.

Lucky me, huh?

Anyways, I've yet to see The Dark Knight, though I have seen Wall*E and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I did enjoy both quite a lot, and my wife was highly amused by the fact that this was the first 3d movie that I had ever seen (and if you see that movie, try your best to see it in 3d).

In book news I've got a decent number of items awaiting reviews, and I should be posting up the review for Jedi Twilight sometime very soon. Also I hope to get the reviews for Hal Spacejock 2, Lisey's Story, By Schism Rent Asunder and the latest Tremaire novel done in some sort of short order.

On the boob-tube, I'm still dearly loving The MiddleMan and of course, I've been really enjoying How I Met Your Mother. If you've not yet begun watching The MiddleMan, you've no idea what you're missing. It's smart, funny, and has tons of geek-cred going on for it.

Anyways, I am now off in an effort to get caught up on my anime viewing. I've not watched any of my series since sometime around last Thursday, and while that doesn't bother me quite as much as my profound lack of blogging (as I've not missed as much anime as I have skimped out on the blogging), it is still a bit irksome.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rambling Thoughts of an Archaic Mind

I think I like that title--maybe it's time for a new subtitle for this particular site. Anyways, onto the rambling of my mind for this lovely Monday morn.

First, I should probably apologize for neglecting things. I had all sorts of good intentions on blogging, and while I've put up a couple over at KrashPAD I've not really written anything in general. Call it a slump, or whatever, but there's just so many things pulling for attention--and in the case of my nearly 2 year old son, I mean that literally--that I've just not felt the urge to write.

Which is kind of sad as this has been a great summer for geeks. I mean it started out with Iron Man, whimpered through that Hulk movie, then we also got Hancock, The Dark Knight, Wall*E, Hellboy II and the summer is going to end with Star Wars: Clone Wars. And then there's the books. Noami Novak has released her first hard cover Tremaire novel (and it was a wonderful) Legacy of the Force has whimpered to a close, so Star Wars EU fans can once again hope for fantasy stories, and Cory Doctorow released Little Brother, which if you've not read you need to go do so right now.

Of course, that's not to say that everything is good. The aforementioned Hulk movie is one sign of ails amongst the Hollywood powers and the fact that they really have a hard time making decent movies. Then of course, there's things like Jedi Twilight. I'm still struggling through this book so I don't have a review yet, but quite frankly, the only thing I can think is "yawn."

But I'll get more on that once I finish the book.

Speaking of books, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist often runs contests where Patrick gives books away. Well, when he runs a contest for a book that I don't have, I'll enter it. Imagine my joy on Saturday while I was walking through my RSS feeds and saw that I had won a copy of By Schism Rent Asunder, the sequel to David Weber's Off Armaggedon Reef.

Which really made my day, as I was supposed to go see The Dark Knight, but didn't plan ahead and when I had arrived, they had sold out of tickets. Yet another reason to not go to a movie on opening weekend.

The final bit of news from my weekend was the Jackson Comiccon. A memorbilia and comic show which is effectively in its infancy. They had a decent turn out, a few 501st in costume, about 8 vendors (including 1 or 2 sketch artists) and the price was great at only a dollar. What they did lack though is a website. I had a hard time finding information about this, and if the Mandalorians hadn't had the information on their site, I wouldn't have known.

Oh well. Tonight I plan on watching Jumper, and then I'll be going to get the rest of season 1 of How I Met Your Mother. I can't believe that I haven't been watching that show for the past three years--as it's a great, great comedy.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Crash and Burned...

Life travels at you fast. Too fast for me sometimes.

I've had something of a cough for the past week & and half; due to allergies--sinuses draining always gives me a cough.

Well, despite my best efforts to keep the sinuses from draining my cough has gotten worse and worse, until today I feel it necessary to go to the doctor's office. I fear that I have a sinus infection at least.

Which kinds of bites, as me and the wife had planned on going to see the new Indiana Jones movie last night. Yet, I was too miserable to crawl from my comfortable chair long enough to do it. Plus, I didn't think the other people at the movie would have appreciated my hacking cough throughout Indiana's whip-play.

Which effectively means that there are just that many more movies that I feel the need to view soon. That list includes:

  • Indiana Jones
  • The Happening
  • Wall*E
And of course Hancock when it comes out next week.

I lack time so bad.

Then there's the next Star Wars novel that was released on a few days ago. I have to admit, I'm less than thrilled over the current crop of Star Wars novels. They lack that fantasy aspect which I enjoyed so much. Additionally, I'm... hesitant about the somewhat navel-gazing aspect of the Dark Times stories. I mean, we've been there, done that. We know what happens a few years down the line during the Original Trilogy (i.e. the best part of the franchise). Can't we get something new?

Oh well. Maybe it's the cold talking, but maybe I'll manage to make it through Jedi Twilight within the next week or so.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

100 SF/F Novels Meme

Found a new meme from The World in the Satin Bag.

Here's how it works:

Grab the list from here.

Bold all the titles you have read, italicize the titles you hope to read or have seen the movie for (since many of these have been turned into movies) and try to make a distinction between the two, and just mark ones you've never heard of somehow (preferably with a parenthesis of some sort).

As an aside, I marked items with an asterisk at the beginning for those things I had never heard of.


1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. *The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny (all ten are now available in an Omnibus)

3. The Ender Quartet by Orson Scott Card

4. Neuromancer by William Gibson *(want to read)

5. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson (6 Books total) (I've not read the entire series yet)

6. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (6 Books total)

7. Dune by Frank Herbert

8. *Elric by Michael Moorcock (available in omnibus editions)

9. The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick

10. 1984 by George Orwell

11. Hyperion by Dan Simmons (four books) *(want to read)

12. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester *(want to read)

13. *Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

14. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

15. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick (aka Bladerunner)

16. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

17. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

18. Lightning by Dean Koontz

19. The Uplift Trilogy by David Brin

20. Ringworld by Larry Niven

21. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

22. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber (complete series)

23. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

25. The Stand by Stephen King

26. Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory

27. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

28. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

29. Watership Down by Richard Adams

30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

31. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

32. Helliconia by Brain Aldiss (three books)

33. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (five books)

34. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift

35. Mindkiller by Spider Robinson (novella in book Deathkiller)

36. Blood Music by Greg Bear *(want to read)

37. The Green Mile by Stephen King

38. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

39. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

40. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (seven books)

41. The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

42. Watchers by Dean Koontz

43. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

44. Emphyrio by Jack Vance

45. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum (first book only)

46. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

47. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

48. Animal Farm by George Orwell

49. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

50. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (complete series)

51. It by Stephen King

52. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

53. Timescape by Gregory Benford

54. Pern by Anne McCaffery (complete series)

55. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

56. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

57. *Fionavar by Guy Gavriel Kay (three books)

58. Earthsea “trilogy” by Ursula K. LeGuin

59. 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke (four books)

60. *Xenogenesis by Octavia Butler (three books)

61. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

62. Conan by Robert E. Howard

63. *Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

64. Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker

65. A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthoy

66. The Gap by Stephen R. Donaldson (five books)

67. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

68. *Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

69. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

70. Dark Elf series by R. A. Salvatore

71. West of Eden by Harry Harrison

72. A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

73. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

74. Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg *(want to read)

75. Dragonlance by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

76. Lensman by E.E. “Doc” Smith (six books)

77. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

78. The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle *(want to read)

79. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

80. Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

81. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

82. Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

83. Lyonesse by Jack Vance (three books)

84. Catspaw by Joan Vinge

85. *Crystal Express by Bruce Stirling

86. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

87. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Phillip Jose Farmer

88. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

89. *Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

90. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

91. The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

92. “The Four Lords of the Diamond” by Jack Chalker

93. Swords by Fred Saberhagen

94. Way Station by Clifford Simak

95. *The Kraken Wakes by John Wydham

96. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

97. The High Crusade by Paul Anderson

98. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

99. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

100. The Postman by David Brin

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday morning wishlist

Well, well, it's another fine Monday morning--which once again finds me huddled in my truck seat crying like a little child as every muscle rebels at the torture which the YMCA lovingly calls "exercise."

Yet this past weekend did hold an interesting set of SF related things. First is that I watched The Middleman series premier finally. That will be something that gets added to my DVR record list.

The second thing was that I was shown, the new Death Star Lego set. This thing is a major undertaking. At nearly 4,000 pieces this particular set will set me back nearly $400.

If I can convince my loving, beautiful, smart, pretty, intelligent, sexy, kind, generous, *grabs thesaurus* angelic, attractive, belle, blithe, bonny, charming, choice, cute, delicate, elegant, elite, exquisite, fair, fine, freely, gorgeous, graceful, handsome, lovely, poetic, pretty, radiant, ravishing, splendid, stunning wife that I desperately need this new Lego set.

I mean, how can one NOT need it? It's 4,000 pieces of Lego AND Star Wars goodness in a fully armed and operational Battle Station format.

Follow these links for additional images:

Anyways, I'm happy about this product, but there is one thing that... confounded me. And that's the mini-figures that come with it. The one that I'm left pondering over is the Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper outfit.

It's just.... odd. And kind of ugly too.

But he looks like a girl. So, I'm thinking, why does it bother me so much?

And that's when I realized why.

The reason is, that it's not Luke.

That's Prince Valium.

The one from Space Balls.

At that point, all was right with my world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Middleman

I have a new love.

It's irreverent. It's fun. It's chock full of geeky references to classic SF and comic books, and it's on TV.

What is it that is filled with geek knowledge and makes me excited about sitting in front of that particular box for nigh upon an hour at a time?

It's the new ABC Family series: The Middleman.

The Middleman is a series which focuses on the adventures of Wendy Watson as she trains to become the next in a long line of Middleman.

This, is the type of television show which makes me have faith in the medium. It's this type of show which makes me think: hey, we're not going to be given shows like I Love New York or Rock of Love every season.

I'm so happy that I set my DVR to grab this.

*glee*

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Soul Eater Episode 11

Frankly, I've been doing quite a bit of anime watching. What I've not been doing is reviewing it. I know that I stopped at the end of the last season, and it's something of a hassle to get started back up again.

Yet, here I am trying.

Anyways, Soul Eater 11 was the lucky series that I managed to watch this evening. It's the second part of a Tsubaki storyline dealing with her fight with the fey blade.

For those who don't know Soul Eater is a story about a school where weapons for Death (the embodiment, not the act) are trained. These weapons spend most of their time in their human form.

Anyways, I found myself really enjoying this episode. It was filled with, and dealt with the concepts of relationships. Specifically the relationship between Tsubaki and Black Star and Tsubaki and the Fey Blade (who happens to be her older brother).

The fun in this episode is quite frankly how Tsubaki deals with and interacts with each.

And boy, does she have a set of "angry eyes."

Anyways, that sense of relationship extends not only to Black Star and the Fey Blade but also goes on to deal with how Tsubaki and Black Star also interact and relate to the rest of the protagonists and cast.

For a shounen series which I've seen described as a mixture of Bleach and Dragon Ball this series has taken a decidedly shojou turn in its focus on relationships.

Good times, if one asks me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I have arrived!

Somehow, I feel like I've arrived.

For those of you who somehow just don't know (despite Hallmark's and Wal-Marts best efforts) Sunday was Father's Day.

Now, I personally feel no need to get rewarded with gifts or other such things on Father's Day as I am a Father because I want to be--not because I expect some reward. I know that over all it's a thankless job and that my kids will come to think me foolish and out of touch in a decade.

After all, they are way to much like me to NOT do so.

Yet, receiving a tie for the day just has so many... connections (thought I was gonna say 'ties' didn't you?) to the traditional concept of Father's Day. In fact, if you Google for "traditional Father's Day gifts" all the search results talk about ties. I guess this is made especially poignant after my high score in the "30's Husband" poll from my last post.

Like I said, somehow I feel like I have arrived.

Yet, because it is Father's Day there was a number of posts concerning dads. One that attracted my Beloved Wife's eye though was one which referenced both Star Wars and a cartoon (The Simpson's to be precise). The article Homer Simpson or Darth Vader - what kind of dad are you? discusses politics and then has a poll which tries to take a humorous look at fathers. The answers give you a ranking between a British politician (David Cameron) and the Dark Lord of the Sith. Sadly, I can't see that much difference between a politician and Darth Vader, but that may be my own libertine proclivities coming to the fore.

Finally, on June 24 Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight goes on sale. This particular trilogy has been pushed off a number of times, and I for one have high hopes for it. Anyways, the back-cover text has been released and reads thus:

With the dark ascension of the Empire, and the Jedi Knights virtually wiped out, one Jedi who escaped the massacre is slated for a date with destiny–and a confrontation with Darth Vader.

Jax Pavan is one of the few Jedi Knights who miraculously survived the slaughter that followed Palpatine’s ruthless Order 66. Now, deep in Coruscant’s Blackpit Slums, Jax ekes out a living as a private investigator, trying to help people in need while concealing his Jedi identity and staying one step ahead of the killers out for Jedi blood. And they’re not the only ones in search of the elusive Jax. Hard-boiled reporter Den Dhur and his buddy, the highly unorthodox droid I-5YQ, have shocking news to bring Jax–about the father he never knew.

But when Jax learns that his old Jedi Master has been killed, leaving behind the request that Jax finish a mission critical to the resistance, Jax has no choice but to emerge from hiding–and risk detection by Darth Vader–to fulfill his Master’s dying wish.

Don’t miss the continuing adventures in the Coruscant Nights series, coming this Fall!

...
All I've got to say is that I've read better back cover blurbs. But it is great to see a non-Skywalker take center-stage for a novel series again. Now, if only it wasn't set during the Dark Times, but rather post-Return of the Jedi. Alas.

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