I’ve been snooping through the web trying to figure out what is new in the Science Fiction world – books, movies, etc – and what I have found is…not much. And at the same time, a lot. We have known for some time that HBO is making a show based on Asimov‘s science fiction classic, Foundation series, but as of today, there is no release date. The same goes for other books that are thought to be in pre-production to be brought to the small screen such John Scalzi‘s Old Man‘s War and Redshirts, Frederik Pohl‘s Gateway, and Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary Justice. Although, the Old Man’s War television series does seem to have a show name of The Ghost Brigades after the second book in that series. The only thing we do know is that 3001 by Arthur C. Clarke does seem to have a tentative release date of 2017, which is good because I’m currently reading 2061 and will move onto 3001 when I’m done. New additions to the list of soon-to-be T.V. shows are Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Dark Tower by Stephen King (which has actually been thrown around for several years as possible T.V. show), Lock In by John Scalzi, and Hyperion by Dan Simmons. So…yeah, a lot happening without much of anything happening, all at the same time. Being a huge Old Man’s War fan, though, I can’t wait to see that story being told on television. So I guess stay tuned. As for movies, well…apparently re-bootes for both The Mummy and Interview with a Vampire are in the works. And Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed.
Every year I come up with a list of books that I would like to read. This year is a little different as I have finally put pen to paper and organized which books are at the top of my list. The list is rather large, but I least I have all these books together and which format the books are in so they are easy to reference when it comes time to start reading a new book.
For example, I have been meaning to read the Foundation trilogy for a while now, and with the series/Movie looming on the horizon, this is the year to start. For those books on my list I have organized them in which order they should be read and in which format I have them – nook, Kindle, Hardback, Paperback, etc.
This list also helps me keep a list of not only which books are in a series and how that series should be read, but I know which books in said series I have already read. Sounds silly, I know, I mean everyone should know which books they have already read, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. Take my Jack McDevitt books for example. The first book of his that I read was Chindi even though The Engines of God and Deepsix came first in that series. But that was several years ago. The book Omega of his is next on my list to read. Also with McDevitt books, you have two character series that he writes in: The Priscilla Hutchins and the Alex Benedict series.
This makes things easier for me as I find it difficult to keep track of what I would like to read next, since my house is filled with books making is distracting; but also, since Science Fiction and Fantasy books all seem to come in trilogies or larger, it’s easy to sometimes forget where I am in my reading.
What I am reading at the moment is The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, neither Science Fiction or Fantasy, but still a book that I have heard nothing but good things about and have been trying to find the time to read for years. Another reason for the list. Also on the list of things to at least try and read this year are A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin; The Shining and The Dead Zone by Stephen King; Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey; and Write-A-Thon by Rochelle Melander.
There will be more to that list as I also like reading history and true crime books as well, but for now that’s what I’ve been up to and/or ready.
I am also trying to make an effort to finish books that I have started reading. There have been more than a few books that I have started in the past few years – last year especially – that I have started and then not finished, and thus have to start again. The Sword of Shannara is one such book that springs to mine, which is a shame because it was a book I got about 150 pages into and really enjoyed, but then got side tracked with other life emergencies.
I’ve had Leviathan Wakes for a while, as well as some of its sequels, for a while. I held off starting the series, however, since there were (and still are) other science fiction series that I want to either start and/or finish. The fact that this is being made into a new series on the Syfy channel pushed me into reading at least the first book before the series begins. I’m assuming that this series will be a lot like A Game of Thrones in that each season will correspond to a single book, and in the case of Leviathan Wakes, I don’t see why it shouldn’t. The book is huge and covers a lot, and I still have a little more than one hundred pages left to go in the book. I do plan on reading its sequel, Caliban’s War, around this time next year before season two of The Expanse starts. Assuming there is a season two.
Now that I have finished reading The Martian (coming to a theater near you in October), I have moved onto reading Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.
I have been on a “read ’em before the movie/television show comes out” kick lately, hence The Martian and now Childhood’s End which is being made into a show and premiering on the Syfy channel this December. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always had Childhood’s End in my library and have always wanted to read it, so the fact that it is being made into a television show isn’t the only reason why I’m reading it, but it has certainly lit a fire under my ass to get it read before the premier. Having said that, Foundation by Issac Asmiov is next on the list because that looks like it will be a T.V. show/series premiering sometime in the near future on HBO. After that will be Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, since that is another show premiering on the Syfy channel this December. After that my schedule is open, but at the rate I read these next books will take me probably to the end of the year.
Just as a side not, I have also been reading a history book on Mark Anthony and Cleopatra which is very interesting so far, even though I am only fifty pages or so into the book. And I am also reading a how-to book on writing and revising and editing, the title escapes me no, but it’s not as boring as I thought it would be and I am actually enjoying it and the suggestions it is giving me to be a better writer. So there you have it!
With the New Horizons space probe making it’s flyby of Pluto, it’s interesting to note that everything we thought we new about the planet is quickly being re-thought. For example, many suspected that Pluto was like the Moon or other dwarf and/or minor planets, in that it was grey and pock marked by craters, but had little else in the way of “character” that the real planets do. But as we get closer, and learn more, we see that this is far from the truth. Pluto is red…ish, not grey like the Moon. And far from being riddle with impact craters, Pluto has what appeared to be sand dunes(?), just like Mars, the largest of which is in the shape of a heart. There are also hints that Pluto may have at one time had an active geology, but still there is a lot to learn and interpret about the dwarf Planet. This is all kind of fitting since I just started reading The Martian, which is soon to be hitting theaters in movie form this October. Maybe some day somebody will right a book about going to and exploring Pluto?
Even though Pluto has been downgraded from planet to dwarf planet, Pluto has nothing but love for the New Horizons space probe as it makes its flyby.
I’ve been a fan of Ben Bova since I was in High School and have read many of his books including Mars and Jupiter, but it’s been a while since I have read any other of his works. I decided to jump back Bova‘s Grand Tour series after reading the description for the Farside novel. I’m three quarters of the way through the book of the story that follower a group of scientists trying to build a large telescope on the far side of the Moon in order to get the first images of a Earth-like planet discovered around a distant star and the challenges that are standing in the way of them accomplishing their goal. One thing that I love about Bova‘s works is that his stories are easy to read, as well as well written and thought out. Farside may not be as good as Mars was all those years ago, but I am enjoying what I have read so far. I am also looking forward to reading New Earth, Titan, Saturn, and Venus at some point in the future.
More details are being learned about that 2018 movie in pre-production. It is now know that this film will be a anthology film based around the Han Solo character. What’s interesting about this is that means that in the next four years we will see three new Star Wars films. Furthermore, if you go to the Star Wars Wikipedia page there is a hint that a film anthology centered around Boba Fett’s character is also in the works.
Looking back at just the previous year in space exploration and news, it is amazing how far we have come. In the past year we have landed a probe on a comet and now we are about to get the first look at Pluto, a planet that everybody knows exists but has thus far been nothing more than a distant planet with unknown features and geology (and I don’t care who disagrees with me, Pluto is still a planet in my mind). But having said that, it baffles me how far we could have been but aren’t. Forty-six year ago we landed a man on the Moon, and while I was still almost a decade away from being born at that point, I think many felt that it was only a matter of time before he had Moon bases, and/or permanent humans settles on either the Moon or in space, and, who knows, maybe even a man expedition to Mars. Looking back, almost half a century later, almost none of that has happened. So really, should we be amazed by how far we have come, or should we be amazed by far we could have been if we applied ourselves properly? Or maybe we should be amazed by how far we still have yet to go?
I almost wrote this entry several weeks ago, but life happened…you know how it goes. But what I wanted to address was Game of Thrones and more specifically, the Unbowed, unbent, and unbroken episode. Most already know, that this was the episode where Sansa Stark marries and is later raped by Ramsey Bolton. Now, it shouldn’t have to be said, but for the sake of argument I will say it here: rape is never a good thing. Luckily for us, Game of Throne is a fictitious show and not real. Kind of sad, but I shouldn’t have to point that out either, and yet here I am doing exactly that. And yet, after the episode aired many took to social media claiming that they were never watching the show again and how Sansa‘s rape in no way added to the plot of the character nor the storyline. As for me, I love the show and will continue to watch as I saw nothing wrong with the episode in question or any other episodes. You see, people often forget that television is not only about entertainment, it is also about exploring and bringing to light aspects of our society that we feel need to be addressed, talked about, explored and in general, torn apart in order to gain a better understanding of it. I’m not saying that is what happened here, but rape has been a buzz word in the media lately – especially in the last election – so it is not out of the realm of possibility that this is what was going on. Secondly, we don’t know that this horrible act didn’t add anything to the character, that will be determined later on down the line as the show continues and the character grows. And lastly, the books, in George R. R. Martins own words, “[R]eflect a patriarchal society based on the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were not a time of sexual egalitarianism. It was very classist, dividing people into three classes. And they had strong ideas about the roles of women.” In his books Martin has made several of the main characters women, giving them a tremendous amount of influence power in the goings-on of the story. That’s saying a lot since many women in history had tremendous sway and power in their day – the Mistress Diane De Poitiers of Henry II, comes to mind – but many of them only had that power behind the scenes and through a man, they rarely had the opportunity to get up and speak their mind. So in that sense, while Martin, I believe, is trying to mesh together a little history in his fiction, the role of women in his books aren’t historically accurate. They have power, they’re outspoken, and they openly challenge the men that get in their way. Lastly, for the second time, there is plenty of violence against men in this show as well. Jamie gets his hand cut off; Joffrey is poisoned; many other men were burned to death at the hands of Stannis, and yet I have said nothing about that. Why? Because it’s fiction. Now if the producers of the show had created a scene where Sansa was raped and they tried to make the scene lighthearted or comical, I might have had a problem with that, but everything in that one scene shouted this is bad, even the music was somber.
As for me, I have continued to watch the show and love it as much today as I did when I started watching it. And, I plan on buying this latest season on blu-ray when it comes out.