Posts Tagged ‘ sci-fi ’

Next on my reading list

That is, what  book do I buy next?

Do I go the U/F route with the new release of Kelly Meding’s As I Lie Dead?

I recently read Changes and it was good, as was Meding’s first book, Three Days to Dead. Maybe it will kick start the stalled Revision/Revising on my on U/F tittle.

On the other hand I pulled an all-nighter just to finish Sanderson’s second book of the Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension, I haven’t done that in years which should tell you how good the book is (review to be posted soon on SuD) so getting The Hero of Ages should cure my epic fantasy itch.

And last but not least there is David Weber’s Honor Harrington series.  A Short Victorious War would certainly put me in a space warfare kind of mood which is the perfect mood to be in when you’re writing the outline(s) for your own space sci-fi trilogy (yes, my head is that big, I’m not surprised you noticed).

Any suggestions?

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Talking epic sci-fi as well as media premiere’s (Kelly’s book as well as the subject of the clip below debut today!) I leave you with this video from Starcraft 2-Wings of Liberty.

Awesom Sauce!

On Basilisk Station-A Review

On Basilisk Station is the first novel in David Weber’s Honor Harrignton series. I dove right in after finishing Elantris. This is military sci-fi with a strong flavor of Horatio Hornblower (the similarity to C.S. Forrester character is not accidental). It has a strong combination of modern military fiction while crafting a universe with a nice mix of hard sci-fi and technobable that enables for the kind of manuvers and combat not seen since the age of sail.  The pace is quick, if not downright brutal and the tension (and stakes) remains high through out the story.

Weber writes with a strong self-assured voice that allows the reader to accept the technical parts of the story with ease.  You don’t get reams of world building exposition until the very end, and by that time you are so deep into the story, it hardly deters you from finishing it. He also uses the third person omniscient POV which  comes up as a bit jumpy for someone who (like me)i s used to either 1st person or 3rd person close. It also means that there are few surprises, but Weber doesn’t hang his narrative on ephemeral twists instead concentrating on outcomes.

You also can’t help but feel passionately about most of the cast, which explodes exponentially as the story goes. It can be a bit bewildering to be confronted with so many characters, but the action still rotates around Honor and her crew for the most part, so it is not much of a problem. In fact it reminded me off my days reading techno-thrillers with their mirad of characters.

Two things that bug me a little about this otherwise excellent book; the fast cut away from one scene to the next and the ways the “natives” are treated.  With so many characters to juggle and an omniscient 3rd person POV the action seems to bounce from one situation to the next with a bit of choppiness which can be confusing.

As for the aliens (Medusans/Stilties) Weber avoids most of the sci-fi cliches surrounding alien species such as the rubber forehead aliens, the humanoid alien or sentient animal species, we don’t see any part of the story though their eyes which smacks a bit of cultural imperialism. Then again, the human characters either treat the Medusans as primitives to be condescendingly protected from outside influence (in the noble savage kind of way) or as a resources to be exploited. Then again this might be more of a reflection of the human characters (however well meaning) than the aliens themselves. It also mirror current and past attitudes (especially during the 17th-early 20th century) by Imperial/Western governments about aborigines societies, so it may not be a total loss. Having said that, the only other alien in the books, Nimitz (Honor’s treecat or in this case Honor is Nimitz human) gets far more attention than the Medusans, probably because of its close relationship with the main character.

Overall, this is a well written, tightly crafted and fast paced book. A must for any fan of military science fiction.

Hardening Sci-Fi without turning it into a fossil

Sci-fi is all the rage these days. Made a sneaky comeback (or not) with Star Trek: NextGen and grew in popularity during the 90s until today. However, it is, by enlarge, on the soft side of the scale (downright mushy if you ask me). In the beginning (somewhere in the middle of of the 19th century) science fiction was truly speculative  fiction. New scientific discoveries accelerated the pace of technological advancement. They in turn opened up a universe of possibilities for adventure in far away places, like Venus, Mars, or the moons of Saturn. When man managed to reach earth orbit, hard science fiction became popular and distinct from the softer fluff of pulp fiction, which came to be known as space opera (as in soap opera).

The authors like Arthur C. Clarke took a hard look at the science in front of them and extrapolated entire universes bound by the laws of physics.  Overtime the science became a straight jacket to story telling and confined sci-fi to a sub-class of hardcore fans. Meanwhile franchises like Start Trek and Star Wars (who turned the concept of space opera upside down) went the other way and opened up the genre to millions of fans worldwide. Yet even after they encouraged a new generation of scientist and technologist to go farther in their fields, they still scratched their heads, “But that doesn’t work that way!

Hollywood sci-fi has gotten so fluffy that all it takes to call something sci-fi is for the producers to declare,  “X IN SPACE” or “Y IN THE FUTURE“. Now not all shows or movies trend that way (recent SW and ST movies not withstanding). A few examples show that you can have a enough science to spice up your narrative without being strap down to a table for a extended session of electroshock therapy at the hands of astrophysicist screaming “THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE!”

Examples include: Firefly (no sound in space, not FTL), BSG/B5 (Newtonian Physics which makes for some cool space dogfights) and a few others (feel free to insert your own examples). By adding a few bits of real science you can break the mold and make your show cool again. Doesn’t mean you have to jettison all the softer parts (artificial gravity, FTL, space dogfights),  especially if you need them to make the story work for you. Just be careful that you keep it consistent and don’t abuse the applied phlebotinum.

In other words, you can still use science to wow your audience without pretending you care for the actual science.

By way of example, look at this short video. If that is not a gorgeous sight perfect for any sci-fi (or even fantasy) story, I don’t know what is:

NaNo Update: Things Coming Together and Blowing Apart

Now the story feels like it they are coming together. The key players are coming online and the action is moving forward. Still behind the curve at about 10k to 15k words but I can live with that as long as I keep writing. I’ll see how many more words I can produce before I hit the sack tonight.

Web Tools for Your RPG Campaing- Obsidian Portal

I found (via the Penny Arcade news page) a new web based site for tracking and keeping notes about pencil-and-paper RPG campaigns. Its called Obsidian Portal. According to their home page:

Obsidian Portal allows you to create Dungeons and Dragons campaign websites and other tabletop role-playing games. Rather than trying to automate the playing of the game, Obsidian Portal provides tools to help facilitate the storytelling. Every campaign gets a shared blog/wiki to showcase their story, as well as integrated tools to help track NPCs, locations, treasure, and all the other minutae that makes up an RPG. Check out this video for more details.

Basically you can upload background information, maps (in jpeg format) and all the minutia of your current campaign. It need not be a D&D campaign or for that matter an RPG at all (great for fantasy/sci-fi world building) and the service is free (although if you want to use the full features you need to “upgrade”). So far I found it useful if nothing else a backup for my own files in case the worse happens. For example, I uploaded this map of one of the locations for my upcoming campaign (made with the Neverwinter Nights 1 Aurora engine, however my copy of NVW went kaput, so I lost the ability to create more 3D maps!). Feel free check out my campaign page here.

 

And now for some over the top anime action!

Flash Fiction Friday: Once More Into the Breach

Haven’t updated in awhile. It seems that Flash Fiction Friday is not as popular as I thought it would be. No worries, you live and learn. This is another story set in the Galaxy Command RPG setting.

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Argus stared at the screen over the bar through bleary red eyes. Someone sat on the stool to his left, “How are you buddy?”

Argus drained his glass with one long pull. “What parts of no you don’t understand Gary, the N or the O?” he spat at the new comer.

“The part where you’re broke or the part where you still have nine months on your reserve status, I can’t decide which part that may be Argus,” said Gary.

“And what are you going to do about it?” Argus looked around him, “I don’t see a security squad with you and you’re not stupid enough to try to drag me back to the brig all by yourself so what do you want?”

“I’m putting a new team together and I need someone like you. Technically I could order you back, but I don’t want it to go down that way.”

Argus made a slicing motion across his throat to the bartender. “Technically I could give three shits about what you want or your orders.”

“I’ll take care of that,” said Gary to the bartender. He took the data pad and sign in his own name. “Still drinking scotch I see, all three bottles worth.”

Argus shrugged, “You done?”

“Yeah. There should be something waiting for you in your room. Think of it as your severance package.”

Argus got up from his chair and made his way across the casino. Little old ladies played the coin machines. Lights and sounds blasted through his dulled senses. Inside his room, he stumbled in the dark. “Ouch! Damn it!” A small table toppled over. The pain emanating from the stubbed toe pierced through the alcohol induced mental fog. “Lights!” A black box lay on the ground.  It came to life the moment he touched it.

WE ARE D’VOR

Startled by the ominous voice Argus put the box down on the bed. Gary’ holographic face appeared before him, “Argus this is part of a transmission we received from Eden about a week ago. You heard the rumors about what happened. We still don’t have all the facts and I can’t say more without compromising security. I need someone to whip up a new team to investigate this. Training contract, good pay, expunged record. Can’t give you back your old rank, but you never stood on rank anyway. Meet me at the starport at 11:45hrs. If you don’t show up, I won’t hold it against you. Hope to see you there.” The image winked out.

Argus shook his head and flopped back to be. He would be crazy to return to Galaxy Command. Not after the Koha Maru, not after what happened to Ryan.

Then again… he thought, but sleep took over.

First Post: An Introduction and a Movie

Hello folks.

Yeah, I have ANOTHER blog.

Expect a large dose of all things games,gaming, and sci-fi.

I have a bunch of shorts ready for your perusal which I will post this Friday (a continuation of Flash Fiction Fridays).

But right now enjoy this “trailer” I put together for an upcoming RPG campaign our group is gearing up to play: