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Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World

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Walter Cronkite

Information Apocalypse – Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World

The New Orleans Time-Picayne, the newspaper that won Pulitzer prizes for its coverage during Hurricane Katrina, and which managed to continue publishing daily during the hurricane and its recovery, announced in mid-June that it has laid off 600 people and reduced the number of days it would put out a print edition from seven to three.

A hobo living on Canal Street quickly spoke up, volunteering to fill the void with blog articles and tweets about what he saw while pushing his shopping cart down the street. This, of course, would be accompanied by the requisite Facebook status updates, Instagram photos and You Tube videos taken from the mobile camera strategic mounted on his cart.

The ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (politically nicknamed “ObamaCare”, a name most likely supported by both Democrats and Republicans depending on which way the winds of public opinion are blowing) comes out of the Supreme Court on June 28, ruling 4-3 that the Act is constitutional with a 65-page discussion.

Immediately everyone on Facebook and Twitter becomes a Constitutional expert, without reading either the Act (which is over 900 pages) or the Court’s response, and turning what could be a discussion to improve the Healthcare of the country into YARIB (Yet Another Raucous and Immature Debate).

When turning on the local six o’clock news, a viewer is presented with ten minutes of who shot whom, while the so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, China’s first manned space docking with a space station and other important events for humanity get less than 30 seconds or no coverage at all.

The Information Apocalypse is upon us (see the Introductory Article on the Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World, and the article on Technological Apocalypse for background). We no longer have authoritative experts, but, in their place to fill the void are a clambering mass of obnoxious bloggers (guilty!), wildly liberal/conservative Facebook users and tweeps of all shapes, sizes, colors and questionable religious denominations.

In the good old days, we had people you could trust. People like Walter Cronkite. Used to be that if you heard something from Walter Cronkite, that was it…it was gospel, law, carved in stone. I mean, the dude cried when men landed on the moon, thereby putting all of the conspiracy theorists claiming the landing was “staged” in a bad light (Cronkite wouldn’t cry if it  were a staged event, right? Buzz Aldin wouldn’t punch anyone if it was a staged event, right?). (more…)

movrev: Twilight

Twilight, Percy Jackson and Harry Potter: the young adult novel series are outselling “adult” books, and the movies are following suit.

I’ve read and written notes on all the books in the series, so a short note about the movie.

The movie, unlike some screen adaptations, does not stray AT ALL from the novel. The screenwriter (Melissa Rosenberg) knew that legions of Stephenie Meyer’s fans would descend upon this film. So even the dialog was lifted directly from the pages of the book.

Guys, have no doubt: even though there are vampires here, this is definitely the chick flick of the year (yes, say what you will, I took my wife). The book was aimed at teenage girls, and the movie follow suit. There is some action, some interesting sequences…but for the most part this is a film about a teenage girl in love with a vampire that looks teenaged (but like all vamps is much older).

Pros:

  • It doesn’t stray far from the book;
  • The baseball playing sequence is excellent (gotta play during a thunderstorm because their bats are load);
  • The scenery is gorgeous, the cinematographer is to be congratulated. Beautiful shots of the Washington state area;
  • The scene were Edward take Bella to meet his family is quite funny, and quite well done (they watch the cooking channel, they’ve never used the kitchen, she ate before she got there because she knew they didn’t eat).

Cons:

  • Some of the acting is painful, particularly the other high school kids. C’mon, I know high schoolers are awkward (my son is one) but the ones I know are not nearly this goofy. Maybe I am lucky?
  • Parts of the movie, like parts of the book, were just downright boring. Might be different for teenage girls…
  • In the book, the Cullens were supposed to be drop-dead gorgeous; in the movie, not so much. Rosalie looked like a two-bit hooker, not the ravishing beauty that the book describes.
  • Quite a bit of overacting throughout, not just with Bella’s high school friends, but with Bella and Edward in some scenes as well.

Bottom line: if you liked the book, you will like the movie.

My review of The Host at SF Signal

My review of The Host at SF Signal

My review of Stephenie Meyer’s non-YA novel, The Host, has just been posted at SF Signal. Click the link, and comment there if you like. My synopsis (in the wonderful SF Signal style):

REVIEW SUMMARY: More a romance fantasy than science fiction, the bestselling author of the young adult Twilight vampire/werewolf series puts a slightly original romantic angle on the highly unoriginal sci-fi vehicle of a parasite taking over human hosts.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A kinder, gentler version of a Stargate Goa’uld, (millions of them) take over Earth forcing human survivors into hiding. One of the more experienced parasites can hear the memory of the body she is inhabiting, empathizes with it and in listening to it creates a love triangle (or maybe quadrangle?) in a hidden human settlement.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Well written; believable characters; quick read.
CONS: Unoriginal parasitic invasion of Earth; no science in the “other species” they have conquered.
BOTTOM LINE: For Stargate fans who want to read about a world where the parasites actually won (and are “nice”), or for Romance fans who like a like a little bit of fantasy and don’t mind the lack of science fact in their aliens. Definitely for Meyer’s army of Twilight fans. For the rest: it is a “beach read”.

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

bookrev: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and supposedly concluding book in the Twilight series bBreaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyery Stephanie Meyer. The book still provides the same mix of teenage lust and supernatural suspense, but this time sex, marriage, blood and gore are added into the mix. Though there are some twists, the fact that there is a fairy tale ending is somewhat predictable. But the back story of the supernatural world grows large and interesting, in spite of some convenient plot twists.

I’ve read through all four of the books in this series in short order, in a little over two weeks (and managed to read the very funny Boomsday and several short stories in a forthcoming John Joseph Adams edited anthology). And though I did skim in places where the teenage angst and lust was obviously aimed at readers 30 years younger and female, I enjoyed the different and non-sex-drenched take (until this novel) on the vampire-werewolf (shapshifter) myths.

I’ll be guest reviewing her adult novel, The Host, for my friends at SFSignal soon.

But I was somewhat disappointed in the Disney-esque ending…though with a novel and series clearly aimed at teenage girls, that was to be expected. (more…)

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer

bookrev: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse, the third book in Ms. Meyer’s Twilight series, escalates the human-vampire-Eclipse by Stephanie Meyerwerewolf triangle, and provides deeper background on the werewolf legends, vampire armies and the ever-present threats of Victoria and the Volturi. As with the previous volumes, this one is a mix of a teenage love story and the supernatural, both well-paced and well written. Even though I skimmed the love story pieces (with apologies to Ms. Meyer and my wife (who cried at the end of this book…and no, Bob&John, I continued to show my insensitive side by not)) as with the previous books, I enjoyed the unique back-story she provides with her created world/history on vampires and werewolves. (more…)

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

bookrev: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

The second book in Ms. Meyer’s Twilight series, New Moon brings the werNew Moon by Stephanie Meyerewolves into the storyline, and expands the world of the vampires, while extending the relationship of Bella and Edward to include Jacob, old family friend and new werewolf. The triangle mirrors that of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake / Jean Claude / Richard human-vampire-werewolf relationship, but without the gratuitous sex.

Fresh from an encounter with a stalker vampire who nearly killed her, Bella (a “danger magnet”) is thrown into harms way again by innocently cutting her finger on wrapping paper around a birthday present at a party thrown by the Cullens, Edward’s family (of vampires). The blood from the paper cut throws Jasper Cullen into a blood frenzy, with Edward once again saving her in the nick of time. (more…)

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

bookrev: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight is the first of four books by Stephanie Meyer telling the story of Isabelle (Bella) Twilight by Stephanie MeyerSwan, who encounters vampires and werewolves in Washington State. The book is very much targeted at Young Adults; the similarities to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series are numerous, with the main difference being the lack of sex scenes (which are numerous in Ms. Hamilton’s series, and overbearing in later books) and limited violence.

But there is lots and lots of teenage lust! (more…)

Roomba

Technology Apocalypse-Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World

Read the introduction article here. Roomba

As we pass the anniversary of Y2K, a techno-phobe’s thoughts turn to the many other ways in which technology could accelerate the end of the world. Even though our mass of old computer programs did not rise up and crash on 1/1/2000, that does not mean that robots, AI, nanotechnology and the like are not worrisome for our future.

Some of you (and you know who you are) are thinking: the three laws will protect us. (more…)

I Am Legend - London

The Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World

With the end of the Mayan calendar looming in a scant five years (December 21, 2012 give or take), there is a seemingI Am Legend - London increase of talk, movies, articles and general water cooler chatter about the end of the world these days. Most of it I find quite entertaining, some of it ridiculous, and other parts simply in need of a good thrashing. And the public at large believes more of what they see in a Will Smith I Am Legend movie than what they should be able to think through with their own brains (I will admit that whatever Mr. Smith says is alright by me, but, let’s face it, he’s no George Clooney).

A lot of people are thinking about the end of the world (we know that every human wants to think that something BIG is going to happen during their lifetime, that NOW is the most important time to be alive…it’s part of our genetic makeup, I suppose). Some are even thinking about avoiding it. But the vast majority are so busy that unless we send them a message on their Blackberry’s or iPhones, I’m quite certain they might miss it.

In spite of being politely asked to leave the Boy Scouts (or the WeBlows) at an early age, I do believe in being prepared. We’ve got five years to plan and prepare so might as well get a head start, right?

So, in doing my part, I present this compendium; (more…)

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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