Sunday, November 28, 2010

Short-Run Sci-Fi

Another link from io9: This one is a list of 10 short-lived but entertaining science-fiction series that you could watch in a weekend. Having seen and enjoyed 6 of the entries on this list,* I'm interested in checking out the others.

* Firefly, the Battlestar Galactica mini-series, Torchwood: Children of Earth, Jekyll, Life on Mars, and Cowboy Bebop.


Here's a fun video I found. It's a montage of 93 anime series' opening sequence, showing that some elements are not just pervasive, but nearly ubiquitous in anime.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Buffy De-Whedoned

In what can only be described as a travesty in the making, the rumored Whedon-less remake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is apparently going forward. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of fanboys, male and female, around the world making whatever sound is the opposite of "Squee!"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: The Dark Deeps

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

The Setup

The Dark Deeps: The Hunchback Assignments 2 is Arthur Slade's sequel to---you guessed it---The Hunchback Assignments. The novel follows the further adventures of the hunchbacked chameleon Modo on his further adventures protecting the Victorian British Empire from various steampunktastic threats.

Much of what I said in my review of the first volume applies to this story, as well.

What I Liked
  • The setup is compelling.
  • The plot is exciting and moves quickly.
  • The protagonist is sympathetic.
  • Some of the steampunkery is fun.
  • There's just a hint of a love triangle.

What I Disliked
  • Most of the technology in the book isn't too unbelievable, even if it's almost a century ahead of its time. This is steampunk, after all. There is one piece of "tech" that is more fantasy than science fiction, and its presence annoyed me.
  • The narrator is just as whiny as she was last time around.
  • Once again, the antagonists' actions don't seem sufficiently motivated.
  • This book feels more like a a kid's book than some of the other YA fiction I've read recently.
The Bottom Line

Overall, I give The Dark Deeps 7.0 out of 10. It's entertaining, but far from great.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Most Ridiculous

The most ridiculous new food product I've come across recently: individually wrapped prunes.

Monday, November 15, 2010


As my reviews may indicate, China MiƩville is perhaps my favorite recently discovered author. A pair of synopses of his upcoming novel, Embassytown, have hit the internet. As a lover of well-developed extraterrestrials, I think it sounds very intriguing. How about you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Here. Have some (de)motivational posters. Now with science-fiction themes.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Movie Review: Pretty in Pink

I just finished watching Pretty in Pink in its entirety for the first time. My considered opinion is very much meh. 5.0 out of 10.

Lucky Number 13

The latest issue (volume 1, issue 5) of the online magazine Miata Journal---a scholarly publication with a readership rivaling that of Nature or Science---features an article I wrote about Zelda. A few copy errors were introduced during the online publishing process, but it's otherwise very close to what I wrote. To read it, go here, register, click on "Contents," then click on "134 Lucky Number 13."

Audiobook Review: The Hunchback Assignments

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

The Setup

The Hunchback Assignments is a young-adult steampunk adventure that follows Modo, a deformed orphan with some extranormal abilities, as he is raised and pressed into the service of Queen and country. The story combines elements of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

What I Liked
  • The story is fun and fast-paced.
  • The protagonist is very relatable.
  • Some of the ideas in the story are very compelling.

What I Disliked
  • Some of the technology is rather ridiculous. Yes, this is a steampunk story, but the "regular" steampunkery doesn't seem as well-grounded as in, say, the stories of theClockwork Century or the Leviathan trilogy. In addition, there is some mystical "life force" or some such, which might be at home in a fantasy novel, but seems out of place here.
  • Several of the characters---Mr. Socrates and Dr Hyde, especially---are very stereotypical.
  • The actions of the antagonists seem poorly motivated.,
  • Of the young-adult novels I've read recently, this one feels the most like a kid's book. Somehow, the factors I mentioned above combine to give that impression.
  • The narrator, Jayne Entwistle, does a good job of making the characters' voices distinct, but her own voice is rather whiny and annoying.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I give The Hunchback Assignments 7.0 out of 10. It's entertaining, but a little juvenile.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Audiobook Review: Fast Times at Fairmont High

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

The Setup

This novella by one of my favorite authors, Vernor Vinge, explores life in a near-future junior high school where the abilities to adapt and to work in a team are emphasized over the more traditional accumulation of knowledge.

What I Liked

  • This story contains a very realistic and believable near-future society.
  • Several interesting technologies and societal developments are investigated.
What I Disliked

  • Some major plot elements are left unresolved.

The Bottom Line

I give Fast Times at Fairmont High 8.0 out of 10. It's far from my favorite of Vinge's work, but it is still an entertaining and thought-provoking story.