February 23, 2018

Greenings Thirders

We were returning from the Oort cloud and as we drifted past the orbit of Mars, Klaarg called us to come look at the car in our way.  Now, Klaarg sometimes spends way too much time at the back end of the ram scoop so we are used to his seeing the odd thing here or there.  But, true enough, when we got to the viewing area, there was a car, with a spaceman driving.  While it is true that in space no one can hear you spin the wheels (this is because of the lack of friction), it is also true that space will have a bigger negative impact on your wheels than road salt.  Just like no one wants to buy a sports car that has been driven in a snowy climate, no one will want to buy a car that was driven in space.  Ah well, at least there is plenty of parking up here.  We ended up giving the thing a wide berth because who knows how this spaceman got his car into space in the first place and we just had the ship detailed.

Thunderbird, Jack McDevitt, Ace,  ISBN 978-0-425-27919-9 $26.95, 369 pgs.

We liked this one.  It’s about native peoples.  You know, the ones you try to kill off first thing when you get to a new place.  When we say you, we mean you, not the global you, but the Earthling you.  Any case, these native peoples have discovered an artifact thThunderbirdat allows travel between places.  They are unclear where, exactly, these places are, other than that one is in space, one is on a different planet and one seems to be just outside a city and there are a lot more.  All of them are, evidently, inhabited.  This creates a number of problems, not the least of which is a demand for the artifact to be used to cull resources from these places (apparently regardless of the beings who may already be there), but that’s just you all over again.  There are, of course, any number of issues that could come up in a situation like this and many of them are brought to the fore, both the positive and the negative.  And, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference for what is positive now may be negative tomorrow.  The resolution is a somewhat unique one.  Like we said at the beginning, we liked this.  You will no doubt like it as well.

Kill All Angels, Robert Brockway, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7970-2, $29.99, 315 pgs.

This is the third entry in the Vicious Circuit series.  We think it is the weakest of the three which we find a bit disturbing.  It is almost like Brockway ran out of good stuff and just Kill all angelsneeded to stumble to the end.  Then we remembered that he also wrote for Cracked which is not really known for its lengthy pieces.  We actually were a bit of a ways in before we even realized what series this one was connected to.  This is too bad because we enjoyed the first two.  We did.  You can go look.  Go ahead.  We’ll wait. We’ve got things to do anyway.  Okay now that you are back, and what, did you stop for pizza or something?  We do that some times and it always causes friction because Klaarg likes strange things on his pie.  In any case, the characters are all together again unless you consider their destructive self behavior to be not so much together.  One is a drunk, another is probably crazy, a third is an Empty One, and the rest are hanging on by their fingernails.  The other thing missing from this volume is humor.  It’s supposed to be funny but it’s really not so much.  We got through to the end.  You might be able to as well.

Waking Gods, Sylvain Neuvel, Del Rey ISBN 978-1-101-88674-8, $16.00, 336 pgs.

We talkwaking godsed about this one a few cycles ago but for those of you too cheap to buy a longer lasting version, it is now out in a more self destructible form.  We liked this one a lot.  Klaarg hated it.  But then it has giant robots and if there is one kind of robots that Klaarg hates most, it is giant ones.  Sure he really hates Roombas but for entirely different reasons.  If you have not gone out and found this yet now is the best of times.

Sci-Fi, A Movie Top Score Game, Lawrence King Publishing ISBN 978-1-78627-123-5, $9.99

With illustrations by Giordano Poloni, text by Aidan Onn and design by Elsa Benoldi, this scificard game is simple to play and can provide some amusement (and maybe a little argument) for those who consider themselves movie buffs.  Each card has a film on it with six items: Budget, Tech Spec, Cult Status, Future Foresight, etc.  Each item has a score.  The starting player selects an item, once cards are dealt out, and the player with the highest score for that item wins all the cards played that round.  That player then repeats and the game goes on until a single player has all the cards.  Or until Klaarg catches sight of the Forbidden Planet card with an illustration of Robby and destroys the deck.  It was fun until then.  Check it out if you will but don’t invite Klaarg over for a game.

 Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff, Henry Holt, ISBN 978-1-250-15806-2, $30.00, 321 pgs.

This is one of your alternate histories.  In it, a celebrity simpleton managesfire and fury to be elected president of one of your countries and hilarity ensues.  Kind of, sort of.  Frankly we found it very far fetched.  But, if you can imagine elephants building spaceships who are we to talk about fetched.  This is full of just eye opening wonder and we had moments when even our credulity refused to go along but we continued on anyway, right until the end. Which, we should note, does not happen here as this is not a complete story.  Surely there will be a sequel or perhaps two.  We would suggest Insane Clown Posse for the title of the next one but we understand that is already taken.  And by the way, why did they put a Klingon on the cover?

Here we are and you have, yet again, squandered your time.  Think, you could have been cooking something wonderful or baking bread.  Instead here you are.  Ah well, everything cycles and you will too.  Eventually.  Keep the door unlocked for us.  Let’s face it, if you are selected for a probing the last thing you want to do is return home to a broken door.



December 23, 2017

Greenings Thirders

We have been struggling to try to figure out which of your holidays we should embrace.  Purely as a study opportunity of course, and, after a great deal of discussion and no small amount of agitation (Klaarg was very vocal that International Robot day was not an option), we decided on 4.  They all take place during this time period since selecting a holiday 8 cycles from now to celebrate seemed counterproductive.  Two have passed and we submit that we succeeded quite successfully in our celebrations and two more are coming up.  While it is most likely quite obvious which ones we selected, given that we most likely selected those which are also your favorites, in the name of science we feel obligated to full disclosure.  Thus, it was that we participated in National Plan your Epitaph day as well as King Tut day.  And we are planning big celebrations for Cremation Day (for when probing goes horribly wrong) and National Cupcake Day.   We almost chose World Kindness day but why be hypocritical on a holiday.  Next year we may select 4 different ones depending on which way the winds of choice and culture seem to be blowing.  National Monkey Day looks pretty good from here.

The Man in the Tree, Sage Walker, Tor,  ISBN 978-0-7653-7992-4 $26.99, 381 pgs.

We liked this one even though it kept putting us to sleep.  Seems there has been a murder on a spaceship. We’re not really sure where this ship is. It’s either in orbit around your planet, on the way to Saturn, or heading off somewhere else.  References to all three are throughout the text and confused us. But this is not the point.  The main person here isman in horny Incident Analyst Helt Borresen who is tasked with figuring out why the dead man was killed and who did it. The ship is full of cameras, unfortunately the murder took place at a time when all the cameras were down for an hour.  You would think someone would have anticipated this but evidently not.  Anycase, Helt starts gathering facts and people and working his way through his process.  We actually liked the writing of this a lot.  It is very well written, expertly so–jJust not very exciting.  It’s like a police procedural but done as a real police procedural so you get to see them filing papers, and moving documents and writing things down.  Klaarg was captivated but we think it was more because of the robot free future than anything else.  We recommend it for the writing but the plot needs a few more dead humans.

A Lot Like Christmas, Connie Willis, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-18234-1, $17.00, 519 pgs.

At first we looked at this and thought, eh.  Then we relooked at it and wondered if it might not be a valuable way to gain insight into your species apparent fascination with lot likeholidays and time off from being productive.  Then we looked again and realized that Willis was not actually the editor but the constructor of the entire thing, and we thought, “Now that is indeed a fixation”.  Sure everyone probably has a holiday story to tell, maybe two, maybe even something with robots in it or sentient trees or dangling balls that do unexpected things.  But to produce enough content to fill this many pages?  We read, we enjoyed, we still wondered about the fixation though.  Still, if you are looking for something holiday like to make you drift from your reality, then this might be the perfect option.  We suppose it could have been worse.  Could have been arbor day.

The Waking Land, Callie Bates, Del Rey ISBN 978-0-425-28402-5, $27.00, 388 pgs.

We kept seeing this title as “The Walking Land” which we thought would be interesting but completely different.  This is one of those coming of age things and you do have to keep reminding yourself that this is about pre-humans (13 to 18) and not humans waking landthemselves so you have to give some leeway.  It is about Lady Elanna, who, for some reason, is devoted to the man who wrested her from her family and kept her hostage.  But, when she is accused of his murder, things change and she is forced to flee back to her homeland and her family, whom she seems to hate.  Once there she discovers she has powers and is betrothed to a king from another land who has no clue about ruling, and is also being touted as the savior of her land and people.  Um, she is not the clueless king.  All she wants to do is go to university and study plants.  While it is not noted anywhere, this is not a complete story but the first of????  We found it interesting enough, although we did have to keep reminding ourselves about the age of the people involved here.  If this is your kind of thing you will like it.  If it is not you won’t.  We can’t get any clearer than that.

The Book of Swords, Gardner Dozois, Bantam ISBN 978-0-399-59376-5, $30.00, 525 pgs.

We like swords, they hark back to a simpler time, when men were barbarians and women were , well, generally not well thought of.  Looking at American politics it is book of swordsamazing how little has changed.  Anyway, this is a collection of wonderful tales from sixteen fantasists.  We have to say we were involved from the first page through the last.  There is even a Game of Thrones tale (although seriously, what collection these days does not have one of those?)  We like these.  We like them a lot.  We have liked them ever since we stumbled across that Leiber fellow.  These are as good, in some cases even better.  And Klaarg likes to note there’s not a single robot in the entire thing.  The contents page reads like a who’s who of current and recent stars.  There is not a doubt that you will like this.  Will you like it as much as we do?  Hard to say.  We like it a lot.  Especially the Matthew Hughes, Ken Liu, and Garth Nix pieces, although the works by Scott Lynch, Walter John Williams, and Elizabeth Bear were close behind.  Did we mention already that these are all original pieces?  Go out right now and get a copy before it is too late.  Too late for what?  Hard to say but if it becomes too late you will be angry with yourself so go now.

Well, once again you’ve squandered your time here instead of putting the finishing touches on that fusion reactor.  The Earth cycles and we need to be off once more.  Watch out for that asteroid that’s dipping into your system.  It’s not actually coming that close but there is a planet killer and it’s out there, as we remind you over and over.  Keep a light on for us. Not that we need it, the ship’s got great headlights, but it’s the thought that counts.


March 27, 2017

Greenings Thirders

Welcome to the eyes of March.  We understand they are smiling.  We’re not sure why.  This is one of those periods that is just packed full of cultural significance.  There are murders, parades, ashes, green beer, bunnies, cross hangings, little  people with pots of gold, resurrections, and lots of chocolate eggs.  We honestly have no idea how all these things are connected although we are sure they are.  Sometimes we wish you would just go back to the old festivals as things were much easier to understand then.  The other thing is that, evidently, this period comes in like a liar and goes out on the lam.  While that sort of makes sense we don’t see the social relevance.   Frankly, we are looking forward to April, a time period where you celebrate weather and what it does.

Killing Pretty, Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager, ISBN 978-0-06-23731-06, $25.99, 387 pgs.

We’ve noticed a trend in that your species spends a great deal of time writing about hell and other places where you believe you will be sent to be punished for leading a less than pure life while actually on the planet.  And, yet, the lives you lead while on the planet are not even close to adhering to the tenets that would keep you from being sent to such places.  And no one killing prettyembodies this more than Sandman Slim, an individual who was cast into hell, fought in the hellish arena, killed to get out, killed once out, killed until he became the ruler of Hell, killed to get out of that, killed one of the manifestations of Gods, possibly killed Elder Gods, and definitely killed any number of vampires, ghouls, ghosts, demons, witches, warlocks, and assorted bad guys, including a few insurance salesmen.   We like Sandman Slim.  We think he is the best thing to come to civilization since the quantum disintegrator.  And remember, just because we say a thing does not mean it can be a thing.  Think of Romulan Ale.  The only thing better than the Sandman are his friends and he seems to have a lot of them and most of them are not human. We’ve been to LA a few times but never when the stuff that is going on in these books seems to be taking place.  Still, we like it as well.  We’d say more but that would be telling.  Go out and buy yourself a copy or two.  You will thank us.

The Perdition Score, Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager. ISBN 978-0-06-237326-7, $25.99, 375 pgs.

Okay, we’re telling.  This is more in the way of Sandman Slim.  This time though he’s got Angels perditionon his hands.  And not happy Angels but the pissed off kind.  We’ve never seen an Angel although we are pretty sure we’ve come through Heaven once or twice on the way here.   So, this is a complicated one, involving, black liquid, powerful sorcerers, goons, a group that bets on everything, insurance for the dead or about to be dead, vampires, and personal intrigue related to romance.  We still liked it.  This Kadrey fellow, who looks like he just barely missed the cut in a hell’s angels movie, has a way with words.  We’re not sure we’re believing that he’s had all these experiences though.  We believe that he is conflating his own and many other’s experiences and labeling than all as Sandman Slim’s.  This is fine. Less people to keep track of.  Especially since so many of them die.  We enjoyed the whole thing and would like to have more.  We think you will agree.

Cold Welcome, Elizabeth Moon, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-10-18873-18, $28.00, 431 pgs.

You write about a lot of planetary systems we have never heard of.  Sure you call things funny names but we’ve been checking the star positions and there’s not much there where you say things should be.  Maybe you are just off.  It does not take much we understand.  Any hows,cold this is all about the planet Slotter Key (see what we mean by the name thing?) Slotter Key is the home of the Vattas.  This is important because Space-fleet commander Kylar Varra is returning home to do some family business.  Unfortunately, she is sold out and the shuttle she is on crashes into the cold ocean near a continent that is uninhabited for apparently mythical reasons.  She survives, along with most of the crew and passengers of the shuttle and manages to make landfall.  But, the question is, are those who set up her crash still with her?  And what about the secret base they discover?  Sure, it keeps them alive but those who built it could return at any moment. And, while she is a commander, she is a space commander and not necessarily a land commander.  The intrigue all plays out as the group tries to stay alive in the hostile environment.  We liked it.  We like most of this Moon person’s work.  You will probably like it too.

A Night Without Stars, Peter Hamilton, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-345-54722-4, $32.00, 702 pgs.

Hey, there are a lot of pages in this one.  Purely on a page per penny cost ratio it’s a steal.  Of course if you steal it the ratio goes way down.  This is a novel of the Commonwealth.  No, not Massachusetts, but the one in space. It was a while before we figured this out for ourselves so we give you this now so you won’t have to go through the wondering.  The Commonwealth is evidently a big place.  And yet it is a place we are not familiar with.  But, the universe is large night without starsand we have not seen all of it.  The action this time is set on the planet of Bienvenido.  Not that it matters since everyone who finds a planet gives it a different name.  Except for the Zilph who just number everything.  Somehow, this planet, which has been inside the Void, has been expelled and is now roaming the universe on its own.  This has not changed the conflict between the two inhabitants of the planet however—the humans and the Faller.  The Faller are trying to get rid of the humans and can mimic pretty much any living organic creature, which comes in handy when you are trying to infiltrate a species.  The humans do what they do best—destroy things.  Into all of this comes a baby.  But not a normal baby.  This baby grows at an incredible rate and contains much of the knowledge of the Commonwealth.  The humans who have her believe she will lead them to victory against the Fallers.  The humans fighting the Fallers believe she must be destroyed as she endangers their way of life. Since she is human, more or less, the Fallers want her dead.   Just another day on Bienvenido evidently.  We have liked this Commonwealth stuff and would like to see Hamilton’s original notes so we could go visit a lot of these places.  You probably would like that too.  In the meantime you can read about it and yearn.

The Final Day, William R. Forstchen, Forge, ISBN 978-0-7653-7673-2, $36.99, 348 pgs.

The world is a mess thanks to an EMP that has laid waste to most of the elthe final dayectronics on the planet.  Initially we scoffed at this since any race soon out of the electronic box learns to protect against this very thing since if you don’t any wandering electromagnetic space whale can burp in your vicinity and take you right out.  But, we discovered that all of your electronics are not shielded in any way.  Oh well.  This is obviously a cautionary history since we can travel the planet and see that none of this is actually happening.  That being the case we forgive the few things that did not really ring true to us.  Then again a lot of your behavior does not really ring true so who are we to say anything about that.  We enjoyed the premise and we think it is a foreboding warning about a potential future for you.  A grim future.  Just the kind you seem to enjoy.  It is also a follow up on a previous work that detailed the immediate effect of the aftermath of the EMP.  We liked that one too.


Welcomings for Inputs

September 14, 2010
Teddy bears lifted to 30,085 metres above sea ...

Image via Wikipedia

If we had known that so many of you would have responded to our previous report we might have taken more care to not say as much as we did. Too many instants have passed since then and the laws of temporal dynamics forbid us from rectifying it. Klaarg is still on probation for the last time we broke those laws and, even though we are stuck way out here in the spiral arm and probably safe from any interventions, we do not feel it is worth it to take a chance. They are out there you know. So, since we can not return in time to take another stance let us instead work to resolve some of your Earther issues.
*First, we know nothing about black helicopters. We have a Mark IV mothership and use the shuttles when we need transport. We would not even know which buttons to push to close the doors of these black helicopters never mind find the ones to make them move.
*Second, we thank all of you who volunteered for probing but we are finished with that arm of our research. We were only allowed to probe a very specific number of Earthers as part of our studies and those had to be limited to very specific parameters concerning intelligence and geography. So, please, read our communication membranes: No New Probing.
*Third, we need to remind you that we know nothing of robots.  We can not tell you about robots from your future, robots from your past, robots who may have been vice presidents, or robots that are currently working in the fashion industry and need to be stopped.  Klaarg would like us to remind you that the only good robot is a non-existent robot.
*Fourth, we know nothing about Area 51.  We did spend some time in Area 52, which was nice and kind of vacationey, and we did spend a few hours at District 9, and two days in Section 11, subsection 4, but this Area 51 you continually yammer about is unknown to us.  Fifth, we are here to study human behavior and not affect human behavior.  It is part of the extra-solar policies to  personnel, sort of a main directive if you will.  And it is a real one, not like that silly thing in those Star Trek Diaries where they blather on and on for twenty minutes about how important it is and then immediately turn around a break it with no consequences.  Trust us, there are serious consequences when you interfere with primitive civilizations.  And we should know.

In any case, now that we have fixed you all about this, we can move on to more important issues.  Videos we have watched!!

We have always been huge fans of planetary bombardment and collision.  So, when we saw Starcrash we knew we had to watch it. We were disappointed on a number of levels. First, there were no stars crashing, or even careening, just some woman in a skin-tight space suit cavorting with a fuzzy haired man and a robot. (And boy was Klaarg upset about that. It took us two days to get him to come out of the pre-sentient storage bay.) We are also pretty sure that bikinis in space are a bad idea. Then again, you Earthers really know nothing of space so you will perhaps find this out for yourself, assuming you survive the coming ice age.

No sooner did we get Klaarg seated and full of popcorn than we put in Bladerunner. Who knew that when they spoke of replicants they meant robots. We’re not sure where Klaarg went this time and we think it might be best to wait until we are finished with movie night to go look for him as he will not be a happy camper. In any case, to return to our work, we found this documentary somewhat fascinating. We believe we have seen it before but we were captivated anyway. We liked the way you continue to see your future as dark and despairing, albeit most of you seemed to have survived the cataclysms. We are also beginning to think that your fascination with robots is as unhealthy as Klaarg’s fear of them. Why do you constantly envision futures that are so full of them–and usually they are going wrong? Either learn to build good robots or just utilize genetic manipulation.

We, like many of you we bet, just love a good prison movie. This is why we picked up Convict 762. Unfortunately, the way we get our videos precludes their coming to us in boxes or cases so we almost never get a visual clue about what we are about to watch. This is usually a good thing since most of your movie documentaries are really not all that well done and your marketing ability often surpasses your creative ability. We mention this because Klaarg had managed to stuff himself into the research arena and heard us talking about the title and managed to actually do a subliminal authenticity search based on the name and thus managed to see the box cover–which, much to our embarrassment and chagrin–contained a cyborg, or, as Klaarg likes to scream out, a ROBOT! We just hope we have nowhere to go for the next month or so because Klaarg is the navigator and we think it will take him that long to come out of hiding. The movie was also pretty bad, a bunch of Earther young women flying around space, making bad choices and ending up on a penal colony, looking for rocket fuel. We think they though the penal colony meant something else. It is the only real answer for why they would go there. After a bunch of other bad decisions, due mostly, we think, to bad writing and lack of imagination, and a lot of deaths, one of the young woman manages to leave the colony with two penals aboard and everyone is happy. Or are they? It is unclear exactly what is going on at the end even though it involved a robot and that usually bodes ill for organics in your future imaginings.

Well, we have to go and look for Klaarg. We don’t expect to find him but he gets really upset if we don’t look. Until next time we remind you that Spooze is best served at room temperature, unless, of course, you are from a vulcan planet, in which case you should refrigerate.