Archive for the ‘aliens’ Tag

[50/50] Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book #15: “Gateway”

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Science Fiction or Fantasy Book #15: “Gateway”—Frederick Pohl (1977)

gatewaynovelIn Good News/Bad News news this week, it was announced that “Gateway,” Frederick Pohl’s bleak ’70s masterpiece, has been optioned for development as a TV series. Considering how dark and full of existential dread television has gotten in the last decade, Pohl’s novel of desperate humans on an abandoned alien starbase will fit right in. On the flip side, the production team that snagged the rights is one half De Laurentiis and one half the people who brought us the awful wild west mess “Hell on Wheels.”

Which is a shame. If any novel is well suited to episodic TV, it would be “Gateway” — but only if it was done right. Set years after the discovery of an asteroid full of alien ships is found orbiting the sun, the book chronicles the horrible living conditions humans endure on Gateway, all in the slim hope they might strike it rich. Unable to control, dismantle or decipher the pre-programmed ships, people gamble their lives by climbing in the alien vehicles and hitting the launch button. Most of the time the ships never return, and when they do the crew is frequently dead — on rare occasions, however, someone returns with an alien artifact or other great discovery, one that sets them up for life. Crossing a gold rush with Russian Roulette, the novel is, according to this reviewer, “coated in dread.”

While the core of the book is the unpacking of the mystery of what happened to the protagonist — and the slow unraveling of his post-traumatic stress — the most powerful parts of “Gateway” are the one-page ephemera that divide chapters. Official mission reports that detail the fates of random prospectors, made all the more horrific by the memo’s cold and bureaucratic language, bolstered by snippets of classifieds from Gateway’s newspaper of people reaching out for a connection — any connection — in an uncaring universe.

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[50/50] Genre Movie #5: “Aliens”

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

alienshicksGenre Movie #5: “Aliens” (1986)

“That’s it man, game over man, game over!” The movie that proved that not only can a sequel be different than the original, it can be just as good.

[50/50] Computer Game #9: “Starcraft”

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Computer Game #9: “Starcraft” (1998)

Blizzard didn’t invent the Real Time Strategy (RTS) game, but they perfected it with Starcraft. Set in the far future, humans and two very different alien races battled for control of the galaxy. You could run any of the three races (each with their own unique strategies) and play against up to 8 other gamers, in teams or individually, over LANs or on the Internet. Find resources, build factories, create armies and launch attacks against your opponent, while they tried to do the same to you.

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With Starcraft you could build and control hundreds of units, all with different abilities, sending them in battle or ordering them to lie in wait to ambush your buddies. Like every other game, ever, it was best when played against friends, talking trash in text or in person (although the Koreans apparently took it to a whole nuther level with professional teams.)

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[50/50] Short Story #16: “They’re Made Out of Meat”

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Short Story #16: “They’re Made Out of Meat” —Terry Bisson (1990)

StarryNightBacon-thumb-500x363You think you’re existential? This snappy kick-to-the-gut will leave you cold and reeling. Comprised solely of dialog between 2 characters, “They’re Made of Meat” has a twisted Twilight Zone vibe that would have made Rod Serling proud. Which is pretty impressive considering this short short story is essentially a humor piece. Black, black gallows humor, to be sure, but still. I’d say more singing its praises, but then I’d run the risk of writing a commentary longer than the original. Just go read it:

http://www.terrybisson.com/page6/page6.html

“Bacon Starry Night” courtesy of instructables.   See the rest of the countdown here.