- Firefly soundtrack, by Greg Edmondson
- Serenity soundtrack, by David Newman
- Stargate soundtrack, by David Arnold
- Best of Stargate SG-1, by Joel Goldsmith
"We're still flyin'. It's enough."
An attempt to do a big science fiction war movie. For Australia, it's very ambitious.
What works: Special effects and explosive squibs are competent. The actors are mostly good, though the hero's a doofus. I didn't hate anyone or anything, though it falls far short of respect.
What doesn't: Almost everything else. It's like the writer saw Independence Day, but didn't have the skill to produce all the intertwined plots, and really didn't have the budget, so it's just the grubby resistance in a single forest. Despite a high female cast, I'm not sure it ever passes the Bechdel test; a male character calls the female Army leader a ball-buster, and Strine misogyny isn't subtle throughout. There are several Asian characters who are treated well, but rather blatantly no Aborigines, who you'd expect would survive well in this environment; but they may be on the side of the invaders since the white fuckers are finally getting what's coming to them.
15 minutes of Australian hooligans doing road work, dating, and playing sportsball, before spaceships with searchlights fly over and shoot up everything. Yee-haw. Then alien infantry who look just like Humans in armor march around with plastic toy rifles shooting buildings. They're completely inaccurate, which is weird for beings that can cross interstellar distances. A dozen local idiots, the protagonists, escape in a camper van, which should be an obvious target for the aliens, but they never seem to be able to hit it. Finally the Strine Air Force manage to shoot an alien down, which again seems implausible for advanced aliens.
There's some ludicrously dramatic "pose as a team" scenes, and a lot of whining and sniping at each other, I think intended to make them feel like a team coming together.
The alien infantry don't have thermal sensors, and are all but blind, they just walk past people hiding in tin shacks and under blankets like children. The armor isn't totally useless, for once, but their guns aren't security-locked, so any monkey can grab one and shoot it. They walk into hostile-occupied buildings and just wander around alone so a group of monkeys can overwhelm them. These idiots are incompetent. The US military is better equipped and trained.
What follows is a training and war montage based on Ewoks vs Stormtroopers, except the Stormtroopers here are even worse idiots. And the Ewoks are so dumb they throw phones containing explosive batteries into a fire (but the filmmakers don't understand the consequences).
The Strine military finally shows up again, which ends the insurgency. I don't believe any of these people could have survived, the military doesn't know how to hide, and does stupid standup fights. While the aliens have shown no cunning or skill, they have apparently endless forces and better weapons.
Of course there's an explanation at last, and it's stupid: The aliens devastated their planet, and we're polluters, so they'll take Earth. But if they already have interstellar ships, they don't need planets, and anyway could've just bought Australia for a few spaceships.
The happy ending is so out of place and not how things work, I dunno what the writer was on.
I'm not unamused by the film, but it's a trainwreck.
This is hard to talk about without spoilers, but I'll be vague enough to be useless without watching. Go watch it first, if you liked S1-2.
Every ep is resolving something from S1-2, there's almost no "new missions" as such. Everything has gone very wrong with the Faction taking over people, but that's more or less cleaned up, all the bystanders get mind-wiped and mostly don't recover their memories initially… But there's now Traveler conspiracy/support groups meeting. The boy from S1E3 returns, and I don't think a day of hanging out with a cop is gonna make a sociopath not 'path. Amanda Tapping as 001 returns, briefly, but then she's someone else again.
An AI that's been utterly useless so far gets upgraded, and the messengers aren't as safe as previously thought. Philip and the historians get a showcase episode, which mostly involves interrogating a dead man. The Trevor episode is somewhat annoying: If consciousness transfer works the way it has been described, the problem described can't happen, he'd be in a nice fresh brain every time.
In the only actual two-episode plot of the season, nuclear terrorism and data archives in the silliest possible storage medium, and a Wrath of Khan type ending for someone.
Protocol Omega somewhat contradicts previous explanations of how the Traveler program works, but some of the pieces from the season are assembled to get a hard reset.
I dunno if they're going to do a season 4. They sort of pushed parts together for it, and the last scene with Marcy & David suggests someone made changes already. But I could see them dropping it now and it's at some kind of a stopping point. I don't want another season like this, I want more of S1-S2 when it had plots.
Couldn't remember a story reference, so collecting a few of these to make finding them again easier.
There's a new PFH book, Salvation, I'd like to get to reading. Before that, I have a tsundoku in iBooks. So now's the time to read the Dreaming Void trilogy; these are sequels of sorts to Pandora's Star (excellent book about a really horrible alien, read long ago), and Judas Unchained (remember less than nothing about it; did I even read it? Maybe I was drinking a lot).
But there comes the rub: You can't just read a PFH doorstop. No, you need to study it, and take notes like a college class, because the concept of focusing on one protagonist and telling a linear story isn't his thing. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to read, is his philosophy.
At 17% through The Dreaming Void, I have the following notes (in Apple Notes so I can edit them anywhere); probably SPOILER, but a good example of my process. For dead tree books I made longer notes on everyone, with page refs, but since you can search iBooks there's no need anymore.
Dreaming Void Places, Reality Centurion Station: Near the Void Ellezelin: Living Dream planet, Makkathran2 city. Arevalo: Central Commonwealth planet, Higher. Daroca city. Far Away: Base of the Starflyer Lytham: Central world far from Earth Oronsay: External world 100LY from Central Fandola: Places, Void Querencia: Void planet Makkathran: Main city Ashwell: Smaller city Species Human: Higher, Advancer, Natural Prime, Starflyer: Mind-controlling aliens Anomine: Trapped the Prime Golant: Humanoid Ticoth: Predators, herds of prey Suline: Aquatic Ethox: ? Forleene: ? Kandra: ? Jadradesh: ? Raiel: Ancient, discovered the Void Ocisen: BEM. Opposed to Pilgrimage Hancher: Protected by Humans, enemies of Ocisen Groups Commonwealth: ANA: "Advanced Neural Activity", mind pool of dead Highers Free Market: External: People, Reality Ozzie & Nigel: wormhole inventors Inigo: First Dreamer LionWalker Eyre: director of Centurion Station Aaron: Blank on Makkathran2 Ethan: Conservator of Living Dream Lady, Bad News: ? Chief Cleric Phelim: Ethan's secretary Corrie-Lyn: Inigo's former lover Marius: ANA representative Troblum: Starflyer fanboy, Higher Mykala: Eoin: Yehudi: Kazimir Burnelli: First Admiral Delivery Man: Justine Burnelli: ANA representative Gore Burnelli: ANA, old boss Nelson Sheldon: ANA, security, Gore's co-conspirator Araminta: Waitress, Niks, Colwyn City People, Void Waterwalker: Entered the Void Skylord: ? Akeem: Eggshaper Edeard: Eggshaper apprentice Salrana: Priestess
While the page count is about the same as the previous two novellas, this one feels really short and thin, largely because there's only a very short and mostly uneventful ship ride and then a single main story of hijinks, and for most of that Murderbot is an observer.
The facility where most of the time is spent is given only a desultory description, often I have to piece together how it looks and fits together when something is introduced, like windows along the service tunnels. I still have very little idea of what the planet surface is like. There's some "haunted spaceship" atmosphere for a bit, and then reality sets in and Murderbot just has to solve problems, i.e. do some hacking and then very destructive combat.
A bot named Miki is somewhat interesting, as the exact opposite of Murderbot in every way. The humans in this are, as always, dumb, slow, and annoying, whether helpful or antagonistic. It's the reverse of how most SF treats robotics, where the people are interesting and the bots are all the same.
But I can't say this one's that great, full price is excessive on a novella that doesn't deliver. ★★★½☆
Next novella should finish this story, and I'd hope after that Martha writes full novels in the setting.
Truthfully, "God Emperor of Dune" is the best book in the series, but you have to read the second and third books to get to it. And they are… They are just the worst.
This is completely true. We can theorize about how Chapterhouse: Dune or the final book might've been the best if Frank hadn't been dying, but certainly the abominations perpetrated by Kevin J. Anderson (worst writer in the world) and Frank's incompetent son Brian were not that.
But the Dune series isn't Frank Herbert's best work. I'd put at least Destination: Void, Whipping Star, Dosadi Experiment, Hellstrom's Hive, and Eyes of Heisenberg above it, both for scope of ideas, character development, and pacing.
Dune most of the time meanders aimlessly through the desert, eventually coming up with a memorable scene, and Dune Meshuggeneh (#2) and Super-Babies of Dune (#3) are the least interesting books Herbert ever wrote. The others are all far more tightly written.
His short story collections, mostly about the ConSentiency setting (I want a chairdog!), are fantastic. And for sequels, the Bill Ransom co-authored Jesus Incident, Lazarus Effect, Ascension Factor are good stories of Humans under a deranged AI that thinks it's a god: Good lessons for the coming times.
What I'm Watching: Extinction
Extraordinarily dull first 20 minutes of a working stiff having bad dreams of war against space invaders. Then a pretty solid chase/urban combat arc. Then the plot flips, which I did not see coming, a rare pleasure.
Go watch this on Netflix and come back so we can talk about it.
SPOILERS: Please see the movie first. So copy this text and view it in advanced rot13 encryption
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But the reveal and resolution is great, this is a perfectly fine actual-science fiction movie.
In which art is not blamed for the problems of the world:
A man in a controlled, music-less dystopia finds a guitar, learns to play, and feels joy. The priests of Syrinx who rule the system in the name of "average" (a la Harrison Bergeron) crush him. The ancients of rock who created the guitar return and liberate the system with a prog rock concert.
Our world could use this beauty
Just think what we might do
Listen to my music
And hear what it can do
There's something here that's as strong as life
I know that it will reach you
Don't annoy us further!
Oh, we have our work to do
Just think about the average
What use have they for you?
Another toy that helped destroy
The elder race of man
Forget about your silly whim
It doesn't fit the plan!
A game designer dude lives in exile above his arcade, robbed by evil AI & corporate suit. His ex and her dork boyfriend let him into the building, and he goes into the computer world, which the evil AI & corporate suit rule as well. The ancient soul of the machine gives the dork's program access and lets it play Breakout against the AI, and the game designer sacrifices himself, liberating the inner world, deleting the evil AI & firing the corporate suit, restoring the game designer to power in the real world.
A too-young, too-uptight student works for an evil professor, but makes friends with other weirdo students and loosens up. The evil professor and the military trick the weirdos and make a death ray from their work. The ancient student in the closet emerges and the weirdos hack the death ray and turn the evil professor's house into popcorn.
All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world
A boy in a crapsack world, literally in a trailer home on top of trailer homes, finds solace in ancient movies and games from a book by an ancient nerd. The corporation which rules the world and the virtual world crushes him and his friends. The ancient nerd's program runs, and gives the boy power and he liberates the virtual world and the real one.
After a long silence she asked, "So what happens now?"
These stories, they're just stories of their time.
2112 didn't end the "Moral Majority" or censors. The PMRC of Syrinx was founded 6 years later to destroy rock 'n roll and rap; the PMRC is gone but Tipper Gore still lives and hates, and music is still censored; remember Fuck You, by CeeLo Green? You probably only heard the censored radio version "Forget You".
TRON didn't end centralized computing, AI, or thieving corporate assholes. Today EA has ruined large gaming, and Google & Amazon make AIs that will probably kill us all.
Real Genius didn't end all CIA/military weapons. Today the babykillers have unmanned drones that can fly anywhere and assassinate anyone (and any bystanders/witnesses).
Ready Player One didn't make the real Internet a "safe space". Facebook, Twitter, or Google can still track you, filter what you see, and give Nazis access to harass you.
This is not a failing of art, it exists for fun or catharsis, and to give you coping strategies. It is not a magic spell to fix everything.
So, you can do something inspired by art; make art yourself; or, if you are completely useless, just whine unreasonably about art and be held in contempt.