30 April 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 52

Since this is the last day of April and we are only halfway through Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, both the readalong and the theme In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog will take over as much of May as necessary. (That's actually a happy thought.)

It's nice to be reading another book with multiple covers, but now I find I've used what would have been the perfect cover for this post in my earlier one, and that no other cover I've found comes half as close to capturing Heinlein's vision of futuristic armour.

The suit has feedback which causes it to match any motion you make exactly--but with great force.

Controlled force . . . force controlled without your having to think about it. You jump, that heavy suit jumps, but higher than you can jump in your skin. Jump really hard and the suit's jets cut in, amplifying what the suit's leg "muscles" did, giving you a three-jet shove, the axis of pressure of which passes through your centre of mass. So you jump over that house next door. Which makes you come down as fast as you went up . . . which your suit notes through your proximity and & closing gear (a sort of simple-minded radar resembling a proximity fuse) and therefore cuts the jets again just the right amount to cushion your landing without you having to think about it.

And that is the beauty of a powered suit: you don't have to think about it . . .

Wearing the suit sounds very much like having superpowers. (Or do I think so merely because I saw Iron Man 3 a few nights ago?) But note that the military believes that just having a suit isn't enough. As Sergeant Zim explains to the precocious trainee Ted Hendrick, "There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men."

27 April 2013


Locus Focus: Take Ninety!

Welcome to Outer Space Day: The Movie Edition!

Now that I think about it, I probably should've blended this Outer Space theme with May at the Movies, because all the space settings I know best came from the world of cinema rather than the world of books. While April had a strong opening with a Martian setting from a classic novel, the next two loci of a spaceship and a habitable asteroid kind of took the science out of Science Fiction. =P

Still, I don't think I did too shabbily. This strange collection of space settings still make the point that outer space is often a vehicle for dreams, for satire, and for allegory. Today we see that it is also a great vehicle for horror. So at last, to fulfill the promise that In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, I present one of my favourite cinematic settings of all time.

25 April 2013


Character Connection 40

When I first dared myself to do as many Character Connection posts as possible that fit this month's theme of In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, I imagined that I'd be focussing on non-humanoid aliens. That was the very reason I picked up the book I'm featuring today--and I think that if I were stricter about following through on my original objectives, I'd have a fantastic post toward that end today. But it was another character who made me sit up and take notice, and so this character profile is credited toward my "Girls and Adventures" theme instead.

23 April 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 51

Blogging, like reading, does not happen in a vacuum. Two months ago, I had dinner with a good friend and she mentioned that one of her favourite people in the world (an elite group which of course includes your cheesy blogger) had said that his favourite novel of all time was Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. But while her first instinct was to give it a try as well, she admitted that she was having a hard time even wrapping her mind around the idea that something with a title like Starship Troopers could be anyone's favourite novel. (LOL!)

So I told her, "I want to do a space-themed month on my blog. If Starship Troopers wins the readalong poll, then I'll read it with you, so at least you won't be alone." =P

But I'll confess that the first chapter was pretty rough to get through . . .

. . . Presently, [Sergeant] Jelal stepped out in front of us, looked us over, and shook his head sadly. "What a gang of apes," he growled. "Maybe if you'd all buy it this drop, they could start over and build the kind of outfit the Lieutenant expected you to be. But probably not--with the sort of recruits we get these days." He suddenly straightened up, shouted, "I just want to remind you apes that every one of you has cost the gov'ment, counting weapons, armour, ammo, instrumentation, and training, everything, including the way you overeat, has cost, on the hoof, better'n half a million. Add in the thirty cents you are actually worth and that runs to quite a sum." He glared at us. "So bring it back! We can spare you, but we can't spare that fancy suit you're wearing. I don't want any heroes in this outfit; the Lieutenant wouldn't like it. You got a job to do, you go down, you do it, you keep your ears open for recall, you show up for retrieval on the bounce and by the numbers. Get me?"

I've just quoted a passage from Heinlein. With a week to go in April, it finally feels legitimate to remind everyone that In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog.

22 April 2013


McFly Monday: Star Girl

In honour of McFly, we rewrite April's theme, just for one day, to read In Space, Dougie Can Hear You Blog. And we feature their single Star Girl, a song about an earth boy falling in love with an alien girl. Inspired by a dream which songwriter Tom Fletcher had one night, it is therefore akin to both Paul McCartney's Yesterday and my own Are You Afraid of the Dark? Fan Fiction. (Yes, I just had to say that.)

The space-themed McFly hit went straight to #1 in 2006 and was actually played in space by NASA soon after.

And if you're wondering who Dougie is and why he can hear us all blog from space, the original video should clear everything up . . .

21 April 2013


Bad Page 5

Apparently, my subconscious mind has no idea that this month's theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog. But how can I complain when I have a new Are You Afraid of the Dark? FF for you today?

It's linked to the classic Season 1 episode The Tale of the Pinball Wizard--which is, of course, one of Gary's stories. =P If you have about twenty-four minutes to spare, you can give it a watch now, too! And if you have only a minute and a half, that's still enough time for a classic Midnight Society intro . . .

Now, just how convenient is it that the Midnight Society members should be arguing over a video game right before Gary tells a story about an arcade game with a sinister secret? LOL! Now, I love this framing device to bits, but sometimes it is too obviously a framing device. We get a much better set up in Gary's first story, The Tale of the Super Specs, which tells us that everything he writes is inspired by his parents' magic store.

But as anyone who has ever written fiction can attest, it takes more than one thread to weave the tapestry of a single tale. (This is the part when I pause meaningfully and everyone else exchanges intrigued looks.) Submitted for the approval of Midnight Society fans, I call this story . . .

20 April 2013


Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Nine!

This month's theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, and so far, we've visited another planet (if only in our dreams) and felt claustrophobic in a space ark.

Today's setting is from the novel that pretty much all my friends named when I asked each of them: "Can you name a book with an outer space setting?" We're clearly not the biggest readers of SF in the world . . .

19 April 2013


These Dreams: Beyond Midnight

Did you know that if you type "Midnight Society Gary" into the Google Image search, one of the first ten results will be an image of Aldous Huxley? LOL! I feel a little proud of that. =)

As much as I wish I could say I've been waking up from nightmares in which I scream soundlessly in outer space, all I've been having these nights are Are You Afraid of the Dark? Fan Fiction dreams. Because, you know, Gary.

So let's just say that After Midnight, No One Can Hear You Blog either . . .

17 April 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 50

Our April theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, and our April novel is . . .

A Princess of Mars = 4 votes
Starship Troopers = 6 votes

Thanks to everyone who voted! I hope to get the first readalong post up early next week. =)

Image Source: Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

13 April 2013


Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Eight!

We are at the most auspicious post we will ever have! Chinese numerology says so! =P Our only hope of toping this is to get to a Take Eight Hundred Eighty-Eight, but even I am not that crazily ambitious. (In fact, I've been thinking about retiring Locus Focus after Take Ninety-Nine . . . but I'm not  absolutely certain yet, so I'm throwing that out to be a tease.)

Our April theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, and last week I featured a space setting from a great SF classic, which is as timeless as it is dated. This week, I take my setting from a book which I predict will be out of print in about twenty years.

12 April 2013


Character Connection 39

Ever since Sully brought up the matter of non-humanoid aliens, I've been trying to find them in fiction--but in the fiction I've already read. It's partly to make things a bit easier on myself . . . and partly because I think we're always richer than we think we are. Although I was stumped when the issue came up, a quick scan of my bookshelves the other night showed me that I've come across a few more than I had realised!

So in honour of the April theme In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, I feature an extraterrestrial character from one of the first SF books I ever read. 

11 April 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 49

As you know--and as I will insufferably remind you as often as possible--Shredded Cheddar's April 2013 theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog. This is why the two contenders for our next Book Club pick are practically kings of the SF canon.

Vote! Vote! Vote!!!

Aren't those covers beautiful?!?! Having to choose one of these novels and not the other will be the most heartbreaking literary duty I have ever done.

The polls will be open for a week. You may let me know your choice through Twitter. You know you want to make Meeting 50 epic with me! ;-)

Image Sources: a) A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, b) Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

09 April 2013


To Be . . . Harvested?

This post may not be about books, but it is another challenge I am doing in the spirit of my TBR Promise and because of my commitment to close as many things as I can this year. You may remember that my bookcase does not just hold books to be read, but also some seeds to be planted.

I blame Sheila. =P It is frankly irresponsible to encourage people to start gardening by comparing it to gambling. They might, you know, plant seeds or something. Especially if you tell them that all the geography they need is a south-facing window.

What I have is a south-facing "ledge," pictured here at around 11:00 am--and snapped at that crazy angle for a reason.

I wanted to show off not just how much sun it gets but also how high up my family's apartment is. The bottom of the picture shows the waist-high rail on the inner wall, which keeps us from stepping too close to the outer wall. The very rail I had to climb over when my attempts to set my rectangular "pot" on the floor of the "ledge" resulted in half the soil spilling out of it.

Apparently, I can resist the crowded gaming tables and the noisy slot machines, but turn into a dopamine junkie when it comes to taking risks for seeds.

08 April 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 48

This is the last readalong post for what has been our most challenging Book Club pick: Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week by Pope Benedict XVI. It may seem odd to have a work of theology overlapping with the SF fantasies in a month whose theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, but believe it or not, the epilogue includes this choice passage:

Christ, at the Father's right hand, is not far away from us. At most we are far away from him, but the path that joins us to one another is open. And this path is not a matter of space travel of a cosmic-geographical nature: it is the "space travel" of the heart, from the dimension of self-enclosed isolation to the new dimension of world-embracing divine love.

Last month, Pope Benedict gave me a new excuse (not that I'm ever in need of one) to bring up time travel. This month, right on schedule, he himself brings up space travel. Was this ever the right book at the right time, or what? =D

06 April 2013


Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Seven!

Welcome to Outer Space Day!

Finally, I can make the official announcement that April's theme is . . . In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog! I will be reading, watching and thinking about a lot of space-set Science Fiction this month--and I'd like to invite you to come along for the ride. =)

For the first three weekends of April, I will be featuring settings from books; on the last week, I'll have a "movie edition"! If you'd like to write your own Locus Focus post about an outer space setting, please feel free to grab the badge on the sidebar and leave me a link to your blog in the combox so that I and others can read it, too.

Our first setting is from the very first book I thought of when I started considering this theme.

05 April 2013


Blank Page 2

Just in case someone has been wondering about my Lenten commitment to write more Are You Afraid of the Dark? Fan Fiction, this post should provide some closure. There are quite a few "bad pages" in the notebook I always carry around, so I did make some effort to write a story--the very one I had to drop last December. Which you already know about.

But what you don't know about yet is the other story . . . the one which successfully dislocated my hip every time I tried to wrestle it into submission. Let me tell you about it from the beginning, which in this case, is Season 3. That's the Season 3 cast on the right . . .

And the little guy on the far right is Gary's younger brother Tucker, who only gets voted in as a member because Gary's mother threatens to bar her older son from meetings unless Tuck gets to be there, too. (This is also how Tucker got to make a tiny cameo in my FF Before Midnight. His mother tracked me down and said that Gary wouldn't be allowed to make an appearance unless I wrote both her boys into the story. Incredible.)

The pretty girl on the left is Sam--but store that away for now.

Last Are You Afraid of November?, when I was scraping together as much "research" as I could on the Midnight Society canon, I came across a fan profile of Tucker which included the line: "takes over the Midnight Society after the older members start having sex." Which is both exactly what happened and exactly what didn't happen.

04 April 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 47

Let me begin with a confession. While it is true that I've been very busy with work these days, there is another reason it has taken me forever to write this latest readalong post. One of the things I gave up last Lent was Cracked.com. So ever since Easter Sunday, I've been treating it like chocolate and gorging appropriately. And believe it or not, it takes a lot of time to get through endless articles. =P

Anyway, if you were abstaining from Shredded Cheddar all Lent and are joining the readalong of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week at this late point, don't worry about it! =) We're at the part where most of the world got to hear the Gospel for the first time (and where most of the early ones started figuring it all out), so it's decent timing. And in any case, you're earlier than St. Paul. LOL!