Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This and That

So far its been a rather dull week. Slowly working my way through the massive story that is River of Gods. The multiple character perspectives add to the plot, but other than Mr. Nandha, the plot advances slowly. Haven't picked a favorite character yet, but leaning towards Lull. We discussed the characters during the first part of class, but I'm wondering who is everyone's favorite character?
Also, just finished South Park tonight, and I have to say I'm impressed once again. Two weeks ago they aired an episode based on Inception, and tonight they brought in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. There is even a scene where Cartman interacts with Cthulhu, and it is directly based on a scene from the fantasy animated film My Neighbor Totoro.
On a final note Skyline opens this Friday. It appears to be similar to Independence Day, and focuses on a lot of action scenes. Seems entertaining enough. I've rambled enough, so until next week...

100 Year Starship

The largest problem with sending men to Mars is how hard it is to get them back. This thorny problem has a rather obvious solution, if one is sufficiently ruthless with problem solving: don't bring them back. Which is precisely what DARPA and NASA have recently proposed with the 100 year starship initiative. The idea of the initiative is to send an expedition to Mars that will remain there for the duration of the participant's lives. The title contains a link to an article about the initiative. Quite an intriguing SciFi concept.


One thing I'm loving about River of Gods is the juxtaposition of so many different sci-fi memes. We have genetic manipulation, artificial intelligence, alternate realities, multiple universes, and aliens. I especially like that they're all introduced in separate story lines and are starting to gradually come together. I've obviously not finished the book yet, but it seems to be very skillfully done so far.

River of Awesome

River of Gods is one of my favorite books from this class's reading list. It has a few issues with pacing, and I don't like all of the characters enough to trouble through all of their sections (in particular, I find Tal insufferable), but I really enjoy it. It is not a harder read than The Windup Girl, I think, which was a relief. I really enjoy the continued theme of ancient and future meshing together; it is very cliché in works about Eastern cultures, but it is still fascinating. The theme of divinity is very interesting, too. I have an acknowledged god-complex, so it speaks to me. Is anyone else enjoying it so far?

Also, apropos of nothing, I want Mr. Nandha to have a sticker on his gun that says "Indra take the trigger", so I'm ~imagining it this way.

Star ships and Drum and Bass.

First I am a huge nerd when it comes to anything dealing with space travel. When I read about how NASA conducts launches in the not too far off year of 2047, I geeked out a little. McDonald seems to be combining these two launch systems. For those in a hurry, the first uses an array of lasers to push a payload to orbit. The second is rather more violent, it involves placing a ten megaton nuke under a salt dome underground and perching the payload on top of it at the bottom of a tunnel and then detonating the device. Oh, and by "rather more violent" I mean that the acceleration loads would turn you into greasy, chunky salsa. While on the subject, I wonder if Ian McDonald had either of these propulsion systems in mind when working on this novel? Yes they are similar, but I think they are different enough to count as different systems.

Okay, switching gears. Did anyone else picture Drum and Bass when they heard the description of the music Tal listens to? If you're curious just go to Pandora and listen to the Drum and Bass station there.

On another note, I think I may have my next paper topic.

November is....

National Novel Writing Month! (NaNoWriMo for short)
The idea for NaNoWriMo came about in 1998 when a program encouraging children to write began putting on this "contest." The idea is to write an entire novel in the month of November. Even if you don't finish the whole novel, the goal is to reach 50,000 words.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo last year, and I tried my hand at it. When you sign up on the web site (it's free!) at, you can set your home region if you like, and connect with other writers in your area. Every day you can post your word count to show others how far you've gotten.

NaNo encourages its participants to just write, and don't stop writing. Even if you hate what you wrote, they tell you to just take a new turn with your plot and keep writing. Anything to get to that 50,000!

Well, as I learned last year, it's easier said than done. I tried to write a historical fiction and I absolutely hated what I was writing. I was bored with my work, and got busy with school, and I gave up.

But not this year! I'm going strong so far, and I'm actually writing a science fiction piece, which is of course much more up my alley! So far it includes a band of aliens (though that hasn't been revealed yet in the story) who are kidnapping my protagonist and enlisting him to help them steal something. Little does he know that something is in an alternate universe. DUN DUN DUNNNN.

Is anyone else participating?? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and encourage you to join if you're interested. It's not too late to start writing and still have plenty of time to get to 50,000 by the 31st!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eternal Sunshine Reality?

So I was just looking around the internet and I came upon this article that seemed pretty interesting... and a little creepy.
Apparently, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to completely erase traumatic events from a person's memory. They're claiming that this could lead to drugs that will help those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The article compares it to the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which is a very sci-fi-esque film. I know this story is more science than science fiction, but I thought it was really interesting and it shows how a lot of times, what we perceive as science fiction one day may be reality the next. It seems like there a lot of examples of this and that this is just the latest.
The article is the title for those that are interested. Any thoughts on this? Creepy or Awesome? Both?

Star Wars

Hey. I know we have to have some gamers in our class and I just wanted to say that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 was released last week. The first game was awesome and I wrote a review on I have a link to the review on the blog post.

Harry Potter

As I'm sure the majority of you know, the new Harry Potter movie is coming out on November 19th. Midnight tickets are already on sale for November 18th at the Cobb on Fandango.

As Harry Potter is very near and dear to my heart, I thought I would include the newest trailer in this post to encourage you all to go and get super excited! I know its not science fiction and that its fantasy... but as one of the largest phenomenons of our generation, I thought it could possibly be excused. ;)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Verdict on the Walking Dead

So after weeks of waiting I must say I really enjoyed the first show. However, I watched it with several other zombie enthusiasts and we had some critiques. First of all, he did not seem nearly as surprised about the whole everyone is a zombie thing as he should have been. I mean, he was quite scared in the hospital. But then when he saw the crawler at the park he just looked a bit concerned before riding away on his bike (well I guess it's a bit hard to flee in terror on a bike in a hospital gown, but still....) Maybe this plays into what previous posters were talking about with the prior knowledge thing. Perhaps he did know a little something about zombies, at least enough to not freak out completely.

Also, we noticed several scenes from the show that look like they might have been copied from other movies. 28 Weeks Later is the obvious one with the entire hospital scene. Also that scene seemed to borrow a bit from the Resident Evil series. Then, during the previews for the season, it looked (and I might be wrong about this) like they were sitting on the roof of a mall, which would be from Dawn of the Dead. Did anyone else notice this?

Section Titles

I've been making my way through River of Gods ok, and the glossary in the back has been immensely helpful on most of the Hindi terms, but I've had some trouble figuring out what the section titles mean (Ganga Mata, Sat Chid Ekam Brahma, etc.) I've only been able to find partial meanings for them online and such. Maybe I am just missing something, but I havent been able to find the full meaning. I can kinda guess what they mean, but I'd love to know for sure! Has anyone been able to find out?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Zombie Surprise

So I'm watching The Walking Dead premier right now, and I will say it is pretty good. We aren't far in yet, but so far the acting, setting, effects, etc. are all solid. A few issues with details here and there, but nothing big. So far, think 28 Days Later, but in the US rather than the UK. I know it doesn't sound like a big difference, but we have guns (kind of changes the game. you know, just a little).

Right, but the real reason for the post: the main character wakes up in the middle of a zombie outbreak, sees a bunch of dead people, then sees one corpse that had been ripped in half that starts moaning a crawling towards him. He runs away (understandable), but then, later, he sees another guy with gray skin silently shambling down the middle of the road. Now lets think... There is surely some serious shock associated with waking up in the middle of armageddon, but you've already seen that some corpses have the ability to come after you, and, if nothing else, everything you've seen is dead, so this guy shouldn't be so calm. Now why, oh why, would you think its a good idea to flag this strange, shambling man down (as our foolish protagonist did)?

Why does it seem that every zombie movie/show (at least every one I can think of) starts with the "Oh shit, zombies! But I've never heard of a zombie!" moment? Every zombie universe seems to include the general ignorance of the population as to what a zombie is and how to deal with them. What would happen if there was a zombie story set in the world where we live, where people are well aware of the zombie mythology, and many even have plans in place for a zombie-scenario. Hell, I own a book called the Zombie Survival Guide. Has fantasy/sci-fi in these slightly different universes just glossed over the living dead, thus leaving their citizens hopelessly unprepared? How would prior understanding of zombies change the way zombie stories go?