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Monday, October 13th, 2014


12:30 am - Book: A Choice of Catastrophes

In A Choice of Catastrophes, Kirk, Spock and company in a pair of shuttles to explore planet Mu Arigulon while Sulu takes the Enterprise to a space station to deliver medical supplies. Starfleet regulartions require Dr. McCoy to personally oversee the process, so he remains on board rather than joining the away team. On the way to My Arigulon to meet up with the shuttles, the Enterprise encounters an area filled with spatial distortions. In addition to navigational difficulties, crew members are startng to go into comas one by one. Can Dr. McCoy figure out what's going on before there is no crew left to fly the ship?

On Mu Arigulon, meanwhile, the shuttles encounter weather patterns that are as severe as they are unusual. They also detect an energy signature and decide to investigate, hoping that there's a connection between it and the hostile weather. What they discover is surprising.

This was probably not the right book for me to read at this particular point in time, but it had its plusses toward the end. I also seem to have a thing for books where McCoy takes center stage, which surprises me.

A Choice of Catastrophes was written by Steve Mollmann and Michael Schuster.

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Monday, September 29th, 2014


10:28 pm - Book: The Human Division

Deception! Diplomacy! Churros!

Following the events of The Last Colony, we now have two sets of humans: the ones on Earth, and all the other ones. Earth isn't very happy with the Colonial Union and Colonial Defense Forces and, understandably, is not sending them any more people. This has forced the CU and CDF to take a more diplomatic approach to interspecies relations, to minimize the killing of people who can't be so easily replaced now. But when a top diplomat, her team, and their ship disappear without a trace, it's up to the so-called B-Team to step in and keep things from falling apart. They eventually become a sort of expendable diplomatic SWAT team, putting out fires wherever they can.

The Human Division comprises thirteen "episodes." Each episode can be read on its own, but if you read them all, you might notice events from one story appear in the background of another. I'm sure I've said this before, but I love this universe. I had some concerns about leaving behind characters I was familiar with, but the principal members of the B-Team are terrific. I'm looking forward to the next book, which will probably not be called Human Division 2: The Divisioning.

Quotes:

  • Jefferson grinned. "You strike me as a 'glass is half-empty' kind of guy, sir," he said.

    "I'm a 'the glass is half-empty and filled with poison' kind of guy, actually," Wilson said.

  • Tobias positioned the scanner, activated it and after a couple of seconds looked up at the display.

    "What the hell?" she asked, after a moment,

    "Lovely," Wilson said, looking at the display. "And by 'lovely,' I mean 'Oh, crap.'"


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Monday, September 15th, 2014


12:50 pm - Book: Paradox Lost

Between the title Paradox Lost and the cover art, I thought ths would by another Weeping Angels story. But this story, by George Mann, is more like Dracula meets I, Robot and they have tea with time travel.

I'm not into vampire stories, so early on I came close to stopping, but I persevered and ended up finding the story to be okay by the end. It's not the best story I've read, but it's better than I thought it was when I started out.

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Saturday, September 13th, 2014


03:23 pm - SGU quasi-redux

I did something I didn't think I'd ever do: I finished watching Stargate: Universe. I thought I had missed only the last half-dozen episodes, but it turns out that I had missed about 90% of the second season. And having waited so long to catch up, I started from the beginning.

When it first aired, I couldn't let go of how different it was from previous Stargate offerings, and I think that was part of why I didn't finish the series. But now that some time has passed, I can evaluate the series on its own merits. I think it also helped that I was watching them closer together rather than a week apart. Yeah, it's a bit dark, but it also has some very intriguing episodes, almost all of which occur after the point I stopped watching.

The ending of season two is much like that of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. As a season finale, it signals a huge shift, but as a series finale, it brings things full circle.

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03:18 pm - It kind of makes you THINK...

Once again, T-Rex brings order to chaos.

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Monday, September 1st, 2014


10:07 pm - Book: Brimstone

In David Niall Wilson & Patricia Lee Macomber's Brimstone, the Atlantis expedition notices a moon headed on a direct course for a nearby sun. Before you can say "That's no moon...", they discover that it has a stargate and an Ancient city just like Atlantis.

They send a team over to see if there are any people in need of assistance, and see if they can prevent the collision from happening. What they discover is Admah, sister city of Atlantis. There's a definite "What happens in Admah stays in Admah" vibe going on, and not just because Admah's DHD has been reconfigured to prevent it from connecting with any stargate more than once; like, you know, so people can't leave. On any other day, this would be an inconvenience. But on "Hurtle Toward the Sun" day, it borders on rude. Saul, leader of the people of Admah, explains that long ago they decided to focus on pleasure rather than ascension. But it's been a very long time and they've run out of novel ways to entertain themselves, so Saul decided the city and its people should go out with a bang.

Sheppard's team is understandably not up for this. Saul gives them the standard choice all visitors receive: become one of the people and enjoy the entertainment, or become the entertainment by fighting genetically engineered creatures to the death. But since this is "Hurtle Toward the Sun" day, the choice is a red herring. Everybody's going to fight to the death ... or die. (?!?)

The end of the book puts it best: these are not Ancients at their finest but, rather, flawed people. It's something one doesn't see a whole lot. Overall, it was an okay story.

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Thursday, August 21st, 2014


10:41 pm - Book: Walk Like a Buddha

Lodro Rinzler wrote the book The Buddha Walks Into a Bar, which I liked. So, when I saw his next book, Walk Like a Buddha, I got a copy. The format of this book is different. A handful of chapters divide life into a set of broad categories. Each chapter begins with an introduction followed by questions and answers. I'm not usually big on the Q&A format, but it worked well here and makes a nice complement to the first book.

Rinzler has another book coming out in a couple of weeks focusing on the workplace. I look forward to reading it.

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Sunday, August 17th, 2014


12:36 am - Book: CHildren of the Storm

Kirsten Beyer's Children of the Storm concerns a fleet of Federation ships on a mission that has little chance of succeeding. In a previous book, a Federation ship encountred the so-called "Children of the Storm," a race of beings so powerful that they destroyed thousand of Borg vessels without breaking a sweat. Yet somehow, the message "Go away and never come back" has been reimagined as "Come again as soon as possible. Also, bring even more ships. We totally won't destroy them." Call me crazy, but pissing off people who consider your worst nightmare a mere annoyance seems like a bad idea.

With one ship destroyed, and another nearly so, the fate of the fleet, and possibly the Federation, rests in the hands of a tortured genius whose appointment to captain is questioned by many. However, as one person puts it, no one was fully qualified for this particular mission.

This was an okay story. Many ships meant many characters, and I had trouble keeping them all straight at times. Captain O'Donnell is an interesting person. While his personality seems utterly unsuited to being a captain, his philosophy is quite admirable. I would normally question how he got the assignment, but given pseudo-spoiler-y things going on, perhaps it was intentional. But, humanity or no humanity, having Seven do the "I hate you, and that turns me on" thing was, for me, a turn-off. Sam and Diane did it better on Cheers.

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Friday, August 1st, 2014


07:29 am - Movie: Lucy

Lucy is the story of a woman who is transporting inside of her a pouch containing a highly concentrated drug. When the pouch ruptures, she receives a crazy big dose. But instead of killing her, the drug unlocks parts of her brain that humans typically don't have access to. How does enhanced awareness of the universe affect someone?

Lucy is part nature documentary, part 2001 and part The Matrix. The beginning of the movie is rather intense, though, pushing my limits a little. I mention this mostly because I don't recall seeing any of that material in the trailer. Beyond that, the movie raises some interesting questions.

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014


10:36 pm - Mxing things up a bit, on purpose

You may have noticed a change in my reading pattern. Until this year, I had been grouping books by series; for example, reading a bunch of Star Trek books followed by a batch of Stargate books. The logic at the time was that once I was in a universe, it was easier to stay there.

But last year I was reading a Star Trek book and I realized that it had been close to a year since I had read one, and that felt odd. So, this year I've been flittering from one universe to another, which is closer to the way I'd be reading the books if had I read them as they came out. So far, no significant downsides.

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