Book Review – Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Summary

JOIN THE ARMY AND SEE THE UNIVERSE!

In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest book camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most alarming enemy!

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Starship Troopers is a 1959 military science fiction novel written by Robert A. Heinlein, following Juan “Johnny” Rico through his military career in the Mobile Infantry (M.I.) of the Terran Federation, set against backdrop of an interplanetary war between humanity and a species of intelligent “pseudo-arachnids,” or simply “Bugs.” This is the first Heinlein book I’ve ever read, and the only one I’ve ever been compelled to pick up thus far. He is among other science fiction authors, such as Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, whom I always remember as important but don’t really go out of my way to read. Admittedly what drew me to this book was my history with the 1997 film adaptation of the same name directed by Paul Verhoeven. Having been released nearly four decades after the book, I wanted to see where it came from.
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Movie Review – Blade Runner 2049

IMDB Summary

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

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Blade Runner 2049 is a newly released neo-noir science fiction film, directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Ryan Gosling as Officer K and Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard from the original 1982 film. I’ve grown to enjoy and appreciate the original Blade Runner in my adult life more and more, so the idea of a sequel coming out left me instantly curious, yet cautious. On the one hand, the idea of a new sequel to a popular or well-known film long after the original frequently doesn’t bode well. I could not help but think that the decision was motivated by “brand recognition.” On the other hand, I do have a hard time imagining the general movie-going public clamouring at the mere notion of a sequel to this particular film — reactions not being something I usually go out of my way to look for lately, so I hadn’t seen this either.Read More »

Movie Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

IMDB Summary

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a 2017 French science fiction action/adventure film, written and directed by Luc Besson. It stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline. It is based on the French comic book series Valérian and Laureline, which was first published in 1967, with a final installment released in 2010. A decorated and influential series in European pop culture, its impact can be felt here as well, where echoes of the series’ ideas can apparently be found in other science fiction films and franchises such as Star Wars.Read More »

Dissecting my Feelings on Rogue One

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a highly-anticipated film, and its plain to see why. It works hard to recapture the look and feel of the original trilogy, being set just before the events of A New Hope, and it promised a grittier, more war-torn take on the franchise. Force-users and the Jedi are largely absent, instead giving us a better look at everyday combatants in the Rebellion and the insurmountable tasks they had to accomplish against a vast Empire.Read More »

Movie Review – Arrival

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Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is a 2016 science fiction film based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. Twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear in seemingly random places across the globe. Louise Banks (Adams), a linguist, is asked by US Army Colonel Weber (Whitaker) to join a team at the site of a craft’s landing in the middle of rural Montana to determine what it is these alien beings want. Accompanied by theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner), Louise makes contact with two of the beings on their ship and begins the arduous task of deciphering their written language.Read More »

Mighty Thursday #17

Aliens: Salvation

By Dave Gibbons (Writer), Mike Mignola (Artist), Kevin Nowlan (Inker), Matt Hollingsworth (Colourist), & Clem Robins (Letterer); Dark Horse Comics; 2015

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Summary

When the God-fearing Selkirk is forced by his insane captain to abandon the space freighter Nova Maru, he finds himself marooned on an inhospitable and remote world. Faced with starvation and madness, Selkirk believes that his salvation lies in the Maru’s planet-fallen payload, but uncovering the cargo could unleash hell itself…Read More »

Book Review – The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

Summary from Goodreads

The Chrysalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, always on the alert for any deviation from the norm of God’s creation. Abnormal plants are publicly burned, with much singing of hymns. Abnormal humans (who are not really human) are also condemned to destruction—unless they succeed in fleeing to the Fringes, that Wild Country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work. David grows up ringed by admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT. At first he does not question. Then, however, he realizes that the he too is out of the ordinary, in possession of a power that could doom him to death or introduce him to a new, hitherto unimagined world of freedom.

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The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is a book that has sat at the fringes of my interest for a long time, neither forgotten nor explored, even before I read and enjoyed The Day of the Triffids. I first heard about the novel from my older brother many years ago when he was reading it for a high school English class. While I distinctly remember him saying he found it boring, the idea of religious extremism directed at physical mutation and/or deformity in a post-apocalyptic world left a lasting impression on me.Read More »

Short Story Review – Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was by Paul McAuley

Summary

“Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was” by Paul McAuley is a complex sf story about politics and xenophobia when human colonists on an Earth-like planet are faced with the possibility of reaching out to alien cultures, especially when a big organization that has previously done harm is in charge of the operation.

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While a little long-winded, I have to admit it was the title of this story that grabbed me more than anything else. While I was aware it was a science fiction story, I love the more terrifying implications of a title like this. I love obscurity I can wrack my brain over, even if I won’t get clear answers. This is easier said than done, however, and unfortunately this story did not quite hit the mark.Read More »

Book Review – Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction by David Seed

Summary from the inside cover:

Science Fiction has proved notoriously difficult to define, but has emerged as one of the most popular genres of our times; not only in literature, but also in drama, poetry, and film. David Seed explores this often unconventional genre in relation to themes such as science and technology, space, aliens, utopias, gender, and its relation to time past, present, and future.

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Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction by David Seed is part of the extensive Very Short Introductions collection published by Oxford University Press, containing nearly 400 volumes on a wide array of different subjects. This volume — 271 — discusses the science fiction genre, focusing on its key trappings, such as voyages into space, technology, and alien encounters.Read More »

Book Review – Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K. Dick

From the back cover:

Sometimes even gods need help. In Galactic Pot-Healer that god is an alien creature known as the Glimmung, which looks alternately like a flaming wheel, a teenage girl, and a swirling mass of ocean life. In order to raise a sunken city, he summons beings from across the galaxy to Plowman’s Planet. Joe Fernwright is one of those summoned, needed for his skills at pot-healing — repairing broken ceramics. But from the moment Joe arrives on Plowman’s Planet, things start to go awry. Is the Glimmung good or evil? Are Joe and his friends helping to save Plowman’s Planet or destroy it?

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Galactic Pot-Healer is a strange novel. From what I understand of Philip K. Dick that is not an unusual way to feel about his writing, but the novel struck me in this way more than I had anticipated — primarily because the summary above makes the story sound a lot more straightforward than it really is. The narrative, while following along the general path laid out above, plays out in a much different way than the description suggests.Read More »