Welcome to the Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club blog!
“Live long and prosper!” G. Roddenberry
“Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.” J.R.R. Tolkien
“By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!” Dr. Lazarus of Tev’Meck
Jamie Anderson, a director of audio dramas for Big Finish Productions, took a line out of a recent Dr. Who adventure, The Order of the Daleks, and commissioned a stained-glass version of every sf fan’s favorite “pepperpot” villains:
Artist/designer Chris Thompson discusses his ideas about building “Dalek Stainley” on Mr. Anderson’s blog.
For the scary month of October, home of Hallowe’en, the Beamers like to pick a book that can shock and frighten. Or at least try to. This month, we went back for a classic of the 1970s American Horror Renaissance, Ghost Story by Peter Straub. Coming out just after Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, it tells of another isolated town, Milburn NY, that is suddenly fallen prey to a ghost or ghoul out of its past. For the Beamers, the trip to the past of the 1970s was as enjoyable as the trip to the past of the members of the Chowder Society who rose to fight for their homes. Continue reading
Tilt-shift photography relies on the neat effects of moving the lens of the instrument to capture the whole of a subject without the distortion of perspective lines, which leads to a 3-D effect of seeing a photo subject as a miniature that can be “moved” around in the photo field of focus.
While we lack such tilt-shift lenses in space, digital post-processing can mimic this effect, and give us a sense of cosmic objects like the Horsehead Nebula or the Andromeda Galaxy as “miniatures” that we can manipulate. Some find this miniaturization of the Universe comforting; I find it makes the object more “real” and embraceable as actual structures. To each, his/her own, in this cosmos.
On a steamy September evening, the Beamers hitched up their literary packs and loaded their reading protocols to take a classic sf hill, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Long acclaimed as a classic of the military sf sub-genre, would this 40-year-old book stand up to the withering fire of Beamer criticisms and critiques, or would it fold under pressure like a human collapsar outpost crawling with Taurans? Continue reading
Stardate 70120.6: Science Officer Personal Log
Our continuing mission continues. We ventured across the tidal estuary know as Hudson, rode a great escalator and arrived in the Center of Javits. There we encountered this native of the northern lands.No longer telling fans “To get a life!”
On a sultry August evening, the thunderstorms threatened outside and inside as the Beamers tried to wrestle a meaning out of our latest book, Central Station by Lavie Tidhar, a short work that seemed overly long on ideas but not on plot. Continue reading
Natalie Zutter on Tor.com reports on a stage adaptation of Ciuxin Liu’s first Trisolaran novel, The Three-Body Problem. Produced by the Shanghai-based Lotus Lee Drama Studio, the work features new and old stage technology such as holographic displays as well as shadow projections and drone-driven floating scenery to astound audiences with a tale of a doomed planet under three suns whose inhabitants seek to flee to (and conquer) Earth.Director Liu Fangqi stated that the adaptation was intended to be faithful to the (rather long) novel: “We only made slight changes of the original novel; about 85% was completely original. But we have reinforced the personality of the characters and played down the science parts.” (Seems like Shanghai has been talking to Hollywood!) The author, Ciuxin Liu, is pleased with the results, though, and a 20-city tour for the production is planned. Director Liu is also at work on a second stage adaptation from the trilogy, presumably from the second novel, The Dark Forest.
Stardate 70060.5: Science Officer Personal Log
As part of our continuing mission, we journeyed deep into territory controlled by Stephen King, author of the Beamer’s June 2016 book. There we discovered this strange creature in the not-so-horrific environs of Penobscot Bay.I’m a pillow, not an action figure!
Being a Review of My Real Children by Jo Walton.
[Note: A version of this review appears in the June 2016 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction, #334. Many thanks to them for their kind support of my writing.]
Snakes in the Garden
The snake of Uncertainty starts to take up residence in the epistemological Garden when Immanuel Kant ponders the unknowability of “the thing in itself” (Ding an sich), splitting away the crisp “objective” Truth from our more vague “subjective” understanding of a world that is mediated by our perception. Try as we might, no St. Patrick has arisen to banish the snake from Science or from Literature. Continue reading