November 2011

Alan Moore: Inspiring Dystopia

It seems like every year or so, another Alan Moore graphic novel gets turned into a movie.  Some of them, such as V for Vendetta or Watchmen, turn out pretty good (at least in my humble opinion) while others, such as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, emerge as piles of steaming crap.

Alan Moore has his own tirade about the conversion of his literary works into movies, not much of it positive, but that’s another post entirely.  Sorry about your copyrights, Alan, but I still love the movies.

I Heart Richard Matheson

The "I Am Legend" Author is a True Master of Horror

Having been a lifelong horror, fantasy, and science fiction fan, I don’t know how I’ve gone all of this time without having read a Richard Matheson novel. It seems like I had heard about him when I saw the brilliant, stick-with-you film I Am Legend, but never really checked out his written work. I finally read the book version of the previously mentioned film, along with several short stories by the author, and I am officially hooked.

Why Frank Herbert Should Have Stopped After Dune

One of the joys of being a writer is being able to build an entire world (or an entire universe) out of thin air and then having the unrestricted freedom to play in it for as long as you wish.  Frank Herbert did this adeptly with his Dune series.  His universe is an alternate reality that many people have used (and abused) to create their own stories.  The very fact that it refuses to go away is testament to its undying quality.

Despite all this, I am going to take a perhaps unpopular viewpoint here and say that Frank Herbert should have stopped after the first book.  I will attempt to explain my twisted reasoning.

What is Steampunk?

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

This month, the selection for the sci-fi/fantasy book club my husband and I belong to was Cherie Priest's Boneshaker, a steampunk novel set in Civil War-era Seattle.  Of course, since it's steampunk, it's a very different Seattle than anyone of that era would have known -- not only is Priest not totally true to the city's history (which is fine with me; it's fantasy and revisionist history, after all), but the novel also has all the kinds of things we love to see in good steampunk -- interesting weapons, steam-powered mechanical wonders, and even (in this one) zombies.

Zombie steampunk.  Really, how much better can you get than that?

This month my mom read the book and came to the meeting, but since she'd never read any steampunk before, she had a lot of questions about what steampunk is.  If you haven't read any before either, here is what we told her.

Science Fiction Characters: Jake Cardigan

I have always been a fan of William Shatner. While most people are aware of his screen credit, few probably realize that he is an author as well. This past couple of weeks one of my billion television stations has been airing the TekWar movies. They starred Greg Evigan as future detective and former Tek addict Jake Cardigan.

Shatner wrote a series of books in the TekWar series, made several made-for-tv movies and even had a series on USA. Shatner had a role as Walk Bascom the owner of the detective agency and the person that brought Jake out of the freezer.

Cardigan was a great character because he was a good guy, but just got in over his head. He got addicted a the drug Tek, much like the modern day equivalent of heroin, and was framed for murder. He was locked up in a cryogenic unit for a few years before Bascom got him out.

Sci-Fi Author Beats NASA To "Life On Europa"

Jeff Carlson's "Frozen Sky" novella describes first-contact with extraterrestrial life below Europa's icy surface.

There’s been some recent news on the celestial front: the discovery of ice-locked lakes beneath one of Jupiter’s moons. Europa, which has been a major focal point of NASA investigations ever since the Galileo space probe began observing it in the 1990’s, is one of Jupiter’s many moons. It’s covered in thick sheets of ice that are cracked and scored all along its surface by enormous world-spanning oceans beneath. However, the discovery of lakes locked in the ice sheets and causing greater upheaval on the Europan surface, got me thinking about a sci-fi e-Book that I read several months ago by Jeff Carlson, entitled Frozen Sky.

Sci-Fi Characters: Captain James T. Kirk

 

I don't think there has been a character in science fiction more talked about than Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Kirk was the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise after Christopher Pike in the Star Trek Universe. Kirk was the youngest captain in Starfleet history and was as brash as he was charismatic.

In the books and television show, the young Kirk wasn't afraid to take chances and bend... if not completely break... the rules. Captains like Jean-Luc Picard and Ben Sisko were much more methodical and straight arrow than the adventurous Kirk. Age matured the adventurous captain and while he was still a risk taker, he understood the impact the decisions had on everyone around him.

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

Neuromancer was William Gibson’s big entry into the world of literary fiction, an entry that has shaped a genre, influenced the way people think and was the origin of much of the jargon that we use every day when speaking about the internet. The first of what came to be known as the “Sprawl Trilogy”, Neuromancer was one of the birthplaces of Cyberpunk – a sub-genre that many have attempted to write in but few have succeeded.

What was Your First Sci-Fi?

Earliest Memories of the Genre

Like first loves, most of us can recall the first sci-fi books we read, the ones that introduced us to the genre.  For me, it was the Star Trek: The Next Generation novels that I read in the early 90s.  I don't remember all of them -- good heavens, I read so many! -- but one of them that I still remember the title to, 20 years later, is Vendetta.  I can't remember much about the story -- my memory isn't that good -- but I remember that the woman in the book, the one whose vendetta the story is all about, really made an impression on me.

Science Fiction: Getting There

 

One of the most interesting parts of a science fiction novels that require some sort of transportation from one place to another. This is especially true if you plan on going faster than light. Einstein's theory of relativity states that if a person where to travel at or near the speed of light, they would experience a time shift.

This is classically expressed in the twin paradox. One twin stays on Earth and the other goes in an faster than light vehicle. While the twin in the ship only travels 10 days, more than a year has passed on Earth. So one twin, is almost a year older.

Star Trek created the most well known type of transportation: warp drive. The engine create a warp bubble around the ship that allows it to travel many times the speed of light, but is separate from the time distortion. In essence, the ship isn't is moving, but everything around it is.

Sci-Fi for Everyone

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

When I get tired of hearing everyone talk smack about Twilight, I often recommend The Host.  I may not be a rabid Twilight fan, but neither do I think it deserves the bad rap it gets.  It's no better or worse than most fiction out there, and I personally thought it was compelling escapist fiction.

In any case, The Host is by far Stephenie Meyer's best work.  I seem to remember her being quoted somewhere as calling it "science fiction for people who don't like science fiction," and I suppose that's correct because the story is really fantastic.  It's part Star Trek, part invasion sci-fi -- it makes me think of movies like The Faculty.  But I think making it sound like it's for people who don't like science fiction is actually selling it short, because I am an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and I really loved this book.  Perhaps calling it "sci-fi for everyone" would be more appropriate.