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Even though I think the question Enrico Fermi asked his colleges that day in the lunch room while working on the Manhattan Project was a rhetorical one, the Fermi Paradox is one of my favorite topics of discussion and makes for great science fiction ideas. Here are some video that I have come across in recent weeks that do a good job of tackling these subjects.
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.
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.
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?
Are we alone? Is there life elsewhere in the universe? I don’t know, but it’s very possible that within our lifetime we could answer both those questions. Even more surprising still is the fact that we might not have to search very far away in order to find it.
Even for a generation-x’er such as myself, I grew up and idolized Arthur C. Clarke, especially the 2001 series of books, which is why I was somewhat intrigued when I read that the Syfy channel was not only making a mini-series out of 3001, but also making a movie(?) out of Childhood’s End. I say intrigued because the Syfy channel has been batting a thousand lately in putting out crap in terms of both movies and television shows. So it remains to be seen if either of these projects will see the light of day, especially since the Syfy channel has pledged to put out more science fiction related content but has yet to really act on that promise.
More than two years ago now, the Syfy channel canceled one of the best shows, I feel, on TV at the time, Stargate: Universe. Since then, the Syfy channel has partaken in nothing but meaningless drivel in regards to their programming (i.e. Sharknado). Also since that time, Cable television has gone a long way to save the art and quality of the TV age. To see this look no further than The Game of Thrones, Black Sails, The Walking Dead, Vikings, Breaking Bad, and Dexter, just to name a few. However, even with all these shows and the various cable networks that have produced them, the Syfy channel has been left out and produced nothing, or at the very least, very little, in the way of quality programming (in my opinion, anyways). Looking at cables counterpart, Hollywood, we see an endless stream of crap in the form of Superhero movies and, well, more Superhero movies. Again, just my opinion.
I bring this up because this morning I’m reading that the Syfy channel has put in an order for 13 episodes of a zombie show called Z Nation. From the description is sounds pretty good. This is disturbing for me because I love Zombie and post-Apocalyptic themed movies, books and television shows. With the Syfy channel coming out with this new show it has a fifty-fifty chance of being half way decent, but also almost a 100% of the Syfy canceling the show just as it’s getting good, because that’s what they do. Which leaves me with a delima: do I watch or don’t I? Because, more than likely, in the end I’m probably going to be disappointed one way or the other. All I ask from the Syfy channel is that they give this show at least a chance of being successful. Don’t move around the night and time when the show is on, like they did with Stargate: Universe, that is a show killer! Don’t make it stupid! I’m sorry but Sharknado is stupid! Sure everybody was talking about it and a sequel is even being made, but my God man, talk about brainless television. And lastly, when producing this show, don’t behave like the Syfy channel, because, like I have already said, you have a propensity of producing crap or killing shows altogether when they are good, and simply making bad decisions.
Okay, I’m done ranting.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and place were the late, great Carl Sagan was still alive and the show Cosmos was filling the next generate, such as myself, with ah and wonder. I remember being in middle school and even high school and coming to class only to find out that the teacher was sick. Most of us geered because many thought this meant we could leave. And sometimes that’s exactly what happened. But every once in awhile, instead a TV monitor would be roled in and an episode of Cosmos would be shown instead. Many complained, saying they would rather ditch class and hang-out with friends. I was exactly the opposite and looked forward to watching Carl explain the mysteries of the universe. That journey continued when I read Carl Sagan‘s Contact and I knew that while I may never be an Astronomer or space explorer, I would always wonder and have a keen interest in space and the universe, an interest whose seeds were planted by Carl Sagan and Cosmos.
Last night Neil deGrasse Tyson rebooted the show Cosmos and with it my interest to explore the wonders of the universe. The most touching part was Tyson’s tribute to Sagan where he retold of a story of about the first time he met the late, great scientist and how he treated him – a nobody high school kid from Brooklyn – like he was the center of the universe.
I never got the chance to thank Carl Sagan for the things he taught and showed me – all of us, really – and how he set me on a path to always want to learn and know more. I do, however, I have the chance to say thank you to Neil. Thank you. Thank you for carring the torch and inspiring a whole new generation.