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ultrawave Touchdown - Subscribe
Airlocks sealed...pressure powered up.

Welcome to the new home of my blog dedicated to science fiction, anime, space jams, science news, kaiju, and table-top gaming.

I've set up home in E-Stat A-55, one of those small, unmanned asteroid stations the Space Patrol set up to to help spacers in need of emergency supplies or repairs. I'm still getting settled in here, but so far all systems are go. So set your ultrawave transceivers to the regular frequency and stand by for future messages.
Mood: ducky

ultrawave Meanwhile, in the future... Feb 11th, 2012 10:22:27 am - Subscribe

Yvette knew that capturing the arkplete would finally get her that degree in advanced para-dimensional physics.
Mood: vindicated

ultrawave Word of the day Feb 12th, 2012 10:51:03 am - Subscribe
Today's word of the day over at sure rings a bell.

plutodemocracy n

A deceptive pseudodemocracy government that is in fact a hopeless hypercapitalist plutocracy.
Mood: alienated

ultrawave danse macabre Feb 13th, 2012 12:20:43 pm - Subscribe
The Walking Dead TV show got going again last night, literally picking up right where the last episode ended. Before that they ran a marathon of the first season, which I watched with the sound down while listening to the Messer Chups on my mp3 player. It was spooky how often it synched up.

The bad pun, aftershow rundown, The Talking Dead,was pretty interesting as well. Last night it was rocker Dave Navarro giving a piece of his mind to one of the show's producers. He was speaking for a lot of the show's fans in expressing his frustration that there haven't been enough zombie kills lately. It really underscored what I see as the trap the show puts its creators in.

TWD is a variation on the post-holocaust genre, substituting ravenous ghouls for the more typical nuclear war or virulent plague. All the tropes of the genre are in play. The breakdown of civilization, people driven to extremes, protagonists taking morally questionable measures to survive, etc. The focus is usually on the toll all of this takes on the characters' humanity. But whereas most entries into the genre feature a naturalist disaster -- an atomic blast, a pandemic, a meteor strike, etc. -- TWD adopts the fantastic premise of rapacious undead hordes. And that creates a catch 22.

The catch is that zombie shows primarily appeal to gorehounds who tune in to see people getting dismembered and the undead getting their heads blown off. Unless each episode is a blood drenched shoot-em-up they're going to loose interest and the show's going to tank. So the very premise of the show which leads to its popularity -- the "zombie apocalypse" -- paradoxically hinders it from becoming something more than a shallow splatfest.

Fans like Dave Navarro could care less about characterization and moral dilemmas. They want dead butch types like Shane blowing away zombies -- and anyone else that gets in the way.

Exactly how the show's creators resolve this tension will determine whether it lives up to its potential to be a substantive drama or degenerates into a sadomasochistic gorefest.
Mood: intrigued

ultrawave Vitamin Love Feb 14th, 2012 7:26:01 am - Subscribe

How about something sweet for Valentine's Day? They even played a little bit of this song by Yuko Ogura on American Dad the other night.

UPDATE: しまった! Looks like this blog's BBCode doesn't support youtube vids. This has put me off V. Day altogether. I'm going to listen to Rev Susie the Floozie's show "Love Sucks -- and HOW!" over on instead.
Mood: peeved

ultrawave The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown Feb 15th, 2012 7:17:03 pm - Subscribe
Paul Malmont's most recent book, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown (2011) isn't a science fiction book, it's a book about science fiction. Specifically it's about three of the most famous Golden Age sf authors, Robert A. Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and L. Ron Hubbard. A mixture of fact and fiction, Malmont's novel is an adventurous and dramatic portrait of pulp sf days that might have been.

The narrative revolves around Heinlein and Asimov's joint stint, along with fellow sf luminary L. Sprague de Camp, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard during WWII.
Their work there on classified military projects soon puts them on the scent of a possible super-weapon developed by none other than the eccentric genius, Nikola Tesla. Also drawn into the web of intrigue that soon surrounds our protagonists is fellow pulp author Hubbard, fresh from difficulties with the Naval brass as well as a dalliance with Jack Parsons, rocket researcher and acolyte of Aleister Crowley. As events unfold they soon find themselves in the company of other notable pulp authors of the day. William Walter Gibson, Lester Dent, and Norvell Page all take part. Before they know it they're all involved in adventures to rival those of the pulp magazines they write.

Malmont capably handles the story and creates vivid characters from these historical figures. Each one seems to personally embody some aspect of the fiction they were later famous for. So Asimov at times imagines himself being as dissociated as his posotronic robots and Hubbard has experiences that prefigure the theology of Scientology. Malmont is especially convincing when it comes to the female characters in this unusual period piece. We get to see Ginny Gerstenfeld working along side Bob in the Navy lab, and witness Sarah Northrup take part in one of Parsons rituals. By far the most sensitively handled character is Gertrude Asimov. Her personal struggles as she tries to adjust to married life with Issac are genuinely moving. They help to ground this otherwise intentionally pulpy thriller.

If Malmont has a fault as a writer it's that the narrative occasionally bogs down in exposition as we're informed about the Futurians, GhuGhuism, the War of Currents, etc. Maybe that's unavoidable in a work of historical fiction. The characters also use the term "sci-fi" with regularity, even though Forrest J. Ackerman wouldn't coin the term until the 1950's. (Forry himself has a cameo, as do several other sf notables of the era.) And personally I was a bit irked by the inclusion of the "Philadelphia Experiment" urban legend as a major plot point. There seems to be a common misconception that being a sf fan means you believe in bigfoot, ghosts, and UFOs. The opposite is more often the case as most sf fans tend to be of a skeptical bent. So including such a notorious hoax in the book slightly bugged me, although I understand why he did it and must admit he provides a clever rationalization for the (alleged) occurrence.

The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown is an entertaining chance to see some of sf's most famous writers take center stage in the thrills. It offers an intriguing take on well known figures, bringing them to fictional life and putting them in the middle of the action. It's a gripping and well written story that anyone with a fondness for the pulps and the Golden Age of SF will enjoy.

UPDATE: Obviously it should be Walter Gibson, not William. ごめん.
Mood: fulfilled

ultrawave The Mercury 13 Feb 20th, 2012 2:17:14 pm - Subscribe
Today the US celebrates John Glenn's second place finish in the space race. Yuri Gagarin may have been the first human in space, but he suffered from the inconvenient condition of not being American. Since Glenn is not similarly afflicted he's the one getting press coverage today. I guess we should change that old saying to "Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and Cold Wars."

I prefer to spend the day remembering the Mercury 13. They were the thirteen female pilots who underwent the rigorous training to become astronauts but who were denied the opportunity to fly into space. It wouldn't be until twenty years later that Sally Ride was allowed onto the space shuttle, long after Valentina Tereshkova had become become the first woman in space. No points for guessing which of those two the US will commemorate when the time comes.
Mood: disillusioned