Category Archives: SciFi and Fantasy

Puzzle Nation

I don’t think anyone starts a family with a mind to create specific traditions. Those just arise on their own as time passes. It looks like family puzzle building has become one of our family traditions. My wife has always liked putting puzzles together, but at our old home, it just never caught on with anyone else.

Maybe it was the ages of the kids, or perhaps the layout of the space. In our new place, the dining room lies between the living room and the kitchen. A couple of months ago, my wife brought back a puzzle from a Scrabble party and started building it on the dining room table. We just left the pieces there and with nary a word, people would occasionally stop to put some of the pieces together.

Everyone took part in the puzzle building activity. From the 10 year old who loves rules, up to the 17 year old who is generally too cool to spend much time with the rest of us! The puzzle became a place of pause and fun, a new family hub. Through interruptions for hot pot dinners and school projects, eventually the puzzle was completed.

Without even thinking about it, I brought out a new puzzle. I wanted to see if what I had witnessed was just a fluke, or if this was some fun we could continue to enjoy. I had received a Star Trek themed puzzle as a gift years ago, and had never really gotten started on it. Now seemed like a good time to tackle it and test if the puzzle bug had really taken hold.

After a slow start, the magic struck again! Once more everyone engaged in the puzzle building! From youngest to oldest once more joined forces to vanquish yet another foe! And as I write this, puzzle number 3 is already underway. So I think it is safe to say that puzzle building is well on its way to establishing itself as one of our family traditions!

 

Star Trek TOS Puzzle
Star Trek Puzzle Vanquished!

Rolled Up Dimensionality Available for Kindle!

My 2nd ebook, Rolled Up Dimensionality: Short stories from a forgotten life, is now available for the Kindle ebook reader! Rolled Up Dimensionality is a string of 5 Sci-Fi short stories and a collection of Japanese haiku inspired SF poetry. Bug eyed monsters, a half-naked tied up Asian girl, and a time traveling ninja open the collection in the farcical “Gracie Under Pressure.” Later stories include out of body vacationing, deadly training exercises, and the angst of the void.

I wrote these back in college and have updated them all for this release. It was a lot of fun revisiting and retooling the ideas behind these stories. I hope everyone reading them will have at least as much fun as I did writing them!

The Dimensionality Project

Soon my first book, Anime Aftershocks, will be joined by another ebook. As if cosplay and looking for a new day job weren’t enough already, I’m compiling a book of Sci-Fi short stories. I wrote these stories when I was in college and submitted them to Analog Magazine. I stumbled over them last week while looking for something else. Now I’m having fun editing and polishing them up for a new book that hopefully will be out by next week.

It’s funny, I’d forgotten all about these stories and now I’m seriously considering turning some of them into series. Analog sent them back to me with the standard rejection letter, so it’ll be doubly cool if they end up being popular now. A guy can dream right?

Materialization

Quantum physics tells us that the very act of observing perturbs the system and affects the outcome of the experiment. On the macroscopic scale of real life we this effect is negligible, and it is probably a good thing that my every thought does not become a command for the larger universe. Yesterday while browsing books in Borders I started thinking about the Catholic grade school I went to and the cute blue plaid skirts the girls wore everyday. A short time later I passed by a book that essentially had that on the cover. Mere seconds later about 10 short skirted Catholic school girls passed me by. What a wonderful sight!^_^

Goodbye Gary

Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons passed away last week. I never played D&D as a kid, but I knew a lot of guys who did and I had more than one occasion to peruse the stacks of D&D books they never seemed to be without. I was fascinated by the color and detail of it all, and ultimately it was only the lack of time that kept me from getting in on the action. I was more of a Starfleet Battles man, and heavens knows how much time that game took per move!

Nevertheless, I owe a great debt to Gygax because the fantasy worlds I’ve come to inhabit later in life, such as Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft, are based on the role playing game paradigm that he helped create. And to a great extent videogames in general. So thanks Gary, and I think I’ll skip the obligatory saving throw joke! Here’s an xkcd tribute instead!

Star Trek: The Menagerie Remastered, Reborn!

When I initially planned to go see Star Trek: The Menagerie in high definition on the big screen, I assumed that it was just going to be a really good looking version of my familiar Star Trek. Star Trek was my first religion, and I was mainly looking forward to “worshipping” with a lot of like minded people. To my pleasant surprise, I got a lot more than just that!

Not only was the episode better looking than ever before, all of the exterior/background special effects had been redone using modern technology! Oh my god! The planets look like real planets and the space flight effects are gorgeous. You even see stars moving through the captain’s cabin window. At first glance, one might think that Star Trek has been given the sometimes reviled, Star Wars Special Edition treatment. But that would be unfair to say because the improvements/reimaginings have been applied with the kind of restraint that George Lucas has not quite mastered. The intent was to make things look “like they should have looked” in the first place.

Star Trek: The Menagerie

Absolute, don’t change anything, purists will hate this. But I for one am very excited and looking forward to seeing more of the remastered and enhanced episodes. This theatrical release is also great martketing because I had no idea this was even coming and now I’m totally jazzed about the rerelease. It almost feels like hooking up with an old flame!

Battlestar Galactica Brings On The WTF!

Okay, this is your only warning.

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

Now let’s get this all out the way right now. Col. Tigh, the Chief, Starbuck’s husband, and the President’s Chief of Staff, are all Cylons! Damn! Didn’t see that coming. Oh, and Starbuck’s alive and is going to show them the way to Earth. Of course, I suppose that is if they manage to survive the massive Cylon surprise attack that ended the final episode of the season.

Whew, that’s a lot to pack into the last episode, but it is all soooo deliciously cool. I haven’t had this kind of excitement since the cliffhangers of Babylon 5. Sadly, we won’t see how things turn out until 2008. I’m glad that, for the moment at least, it appears that Starbuck is alive and in the flesh, not in someone’s head. And I would even say, that maybe, just maybe her appearance with the Cylons is not just a coincidence. Maybe she brought them, and maybe they aren’t there to attack. And with 4 or the final 5 Cylons revealed, will the final one really turn out to be Admiral Adama, perhaps activated upon reaching Earth? Nah, that would be too easy.

Click here to join the fun in the Battlestar Galactica forums!

Damn! They Killed Starbuck!

They killed Starbuck! Those bastards! T_T I’m still a little bit in shock because while I’d heard that a major Battlestar Galactica character was going to die this season, I hadn’t expected it to be Starbuck, at least not yet. Normally, I might be a bit pissed at having a favorite character killed, but if I’ve learned anything watching the new Battlestar Galactica, it’s that even dead characters have a way of sticking around. I’m sure we’ll see Starbuck making visits to people’s heads in the future, Caprica (aka Number Six) style. I’m guessing she may be taking up residence in Apollo’s head for a while.

I actually hope I’m wrong about that though, because the whole, people in my head thing, is getting a bit over used. Given all of the hints at a special destiny for Starbuck, I’m hoping we’ll see something more imaginative and perhaps more dramatic, maybe a Cylon aided resurrection or something. However it’s handled, I doubt that we’ve seen the last of Kara Thrace.

Biting Firefly Fans

Once again proving that no good deed goes unpunished, those stupid dogs at Universal Studios are biting the fans that feed it. Universal has sicced its lawyers on Firefly fans demanding that they stop promoting the show and even retroactively billing them for licensing fees.

Now I don’t have a problem with a company protecting its property and trademarks, but handling your fans/customers in such a tactless fashion is not a way to encourage future sales. If some fan is selling unlicensed t-shirts, for example, there are better ways of handling it than releasing the hounds of law. But since the lawyers get paid regardless of the ill-will and bad PR they generate, then they have no incentive to help matters.

I’ve never watched a complete episode of Firefly, but I’ve heard it was a good show. It’s too bad the studio isn’t using the fan support they seem to be hell bent on crushing, to instead build Firefly into one of the great money making franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars are for their owners. There’s no secret to making money, you have to find/make something and sell it to a lot of people. Universal Studios has the something, and there seem to be a lot of people interested in it. So what’s their problem?

A New Hope At Last!

Well despite a lot of moaning and complaining over on Slashdot about the quality of the original version of Star Wars: A New Hope on the newly released limited edition, I went ahead and bought them anyway. I have the original trilogy on VHS, but I can’t even remember the last time I used the VCR and I have no plans to pull the thing out again either. So I finally have the originals (more or less) on DVDs that I got for $20USD per episode at Borders (less 10%, w00t!), which I consider to be a good deal. Yeah yeah, some people want everything absolutely perfect for $5/movie, but life is short and I was tired of waiting. So if the original trilogy is ever digitally remastered, then I’ll pick it up again. Ka-ching for George Lucas!

All of that said, this is a bit like a dream come true. I never got to see the original in theatres. I still remember being in line as a kid only to have the show sell out with just 5 or 6 more people in front of us. Later I’d watch it many times on HBO, but on a TV that had really wonky color. I even recorded it from the TV onto audio cassette tapes which also got quite a work out. So fast forward to now and widescreen edition DVDs with a boatload of extras and you’ve got one happy fanboy.

Star Trek at 40: It’s About the Biiiig Bucks!

Forty years ago today, Star Trek began airing on NBC. I grew up watching Star Trek in syndication. I learned the episodes by heart and much of my outlook on life was influenced by that show. So I always get a kick out of people poking fun at it, especially when the people doing it are William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as they do in this hilarious interview with CNN. Yep, it’s about the biiig bucks!

Shatner and Nimoy on 40 years of Star Trek

Battlestar Galactica Mini-Fix

Today Battlestar Galactica “webisodes” began on Sci Fi channel’s website. These short 4 minute snippets tell the story of the budding resistance on New Caprica in advance of the season 3 premiere on October 6. But Firefox users need not apply, the first webisode at least would only play in Internet Explorer on my Windows XP box. If you’re as hungry for the new season as I am, these little snacks should satisfy. I only wish I could download them to my PSP.

Oh strike that Firefox remark, after I ran it in IE, it worked in Firefox. I don’t know if this is a real browser issue, or if my box is just wonky.

Mudd’s Women, How Quaint

Over the weekend I caught an episode of Star Trek on G4. It was Mudd’s Women from the original Star Trek series. In this episode, we meet instellar rogue Harry Mudd who, it turns out, is essentially selling women to be the wives of rich men. This is an old favorite of mine because Mudd is an interesting scoundrel and the episode is dripping with 60’s-ish sex appeal, provided you see the uncut episode. I’ve seen this one probably dozens of times, but this weekend’s showing presented me with something new to think about.

It suddenly occured to me that the episode was framing marriage as a way to claim ownership of women. The thought struck me in the scene where Kirk tells one the miners that his buddies have already married the two other women, who it turns out are a lot more fun than Eve, the one he just rescued. He’s actually pissed for two reasons, one the women’s looks are fake, the result of an illegal drug, and two, his buddies have already claimed the best ones! Marriage as a way to claim women is such an old fashioned and quaint notion, that I can’t help but wonder if this was a part of the original script. I mean really, would a bunch of coarse, wealthy dilithium miners in the boonies really think it necessary to marry a bunch of obvious gold diggers in order to have a good time with them? Probably not. But was this something that the network censors forced on them, or was it really part of the message of the episode concerning the plight of women in contemporary times. All of the women came from relatively desperate situations, but surely 300 years from now there would be better options than marrying wealthly men. In the present time, nearly 40 years removed from the original broadcast of Mudd’s Women, things are better for women in the developed countries, but in much of the world opportunities for women continue to be elusive. And in many societies, including the U.S., the debate continues over exactly what rights women should have at all. Something as fundamental as women’s rights should not be the subject of debate, nevertheless from abortion and contraception, to breast ironing and declining birthrates in Europe and Japan, the story is not yet over.

Trek 2.0 Back To The Future!

I watched Star Trek last night on G4 in the new Trek 2.0 format and am still trying to recover from the headrush of nostalgia it brought on. Purists may be annoyed to have the show in a box surrounded by panels with various bits of information, but if you’ve been using the web for the last few years, you’re already used to seeing things this way. The style has also been adopted by most news channels as well, so presenting classic Star Trek this way is not such a shock. With trivia scrolling across the top and chat across the bottom, it was almost like watching the show at a Star Trek convention. The left panel featured episode stats such as number of redshirts killed, while the right panel had price quotes for the Spock Market. I didn’t really get the the Spock Market which I tried out at the computer during a commercial break. The market is a share trading game, but I really didn’t quite get the point. I wanted to try chat out too, but it wasn’t working in Firefox at least. I’ll play around with it a little later in IE.

All in all, Trek 2.0 is a curious way to enjoy an old favorite and perhaps a good excuse for using a computer in the living room. I think the logical thing to do is to make further observations before formulating a final analysis.