Daily Archives: May 5th, 2007

Saturday Sci-Fi

I went to bed early last night (early for a Friday anyway) so I didn’t see the Star Gates (SG-1 and Atlantis), so no commentary on them.  But in this time of constant re-runs, I’ll catch ’em on the rebound.

On SciFi.com this week, they’re going ga-ga over Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunsts’ new Spiderman movie. I’ve seen the first two, but I’ve yet to pay to see one at the theater. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen any movie at the theater. I usually wait until they come out on DVD or for rent on the DVR. Call me cheap. Or lazy. Or whatever.

The book review in SciFi Weekly this week is a collection of post-singularity stories written by David Marusek titled Getting To Know You. Stories about the post-singularity world fascinates me now-a-days and after reading the review by Paul Di Philippo, I just might go out on Amazon.com or eBay and look for his novel Counting Heads. Marusek even has his own website and I even tracked down a short story online I’m posting an excerpt from which might appeal to my politically inclined blog brothers and sisters:

Osama Phone Home

We arrived by rental car and parked next to a delivery van in the lot closest to the freeway on-ramp. The van hid us from the security cam atop a nearby light pole. We were early, traffic being lighter than expected. As we waited, we touched up our disguises. At 09:55, we left the car singly and proceeded to our target site by separate mall entrances. I rode the escalators to the food court on the third level, while G, C, and B quickly reconned the lower floors, where shops were just opening their grates.

I started at the burger stand and ordered a breakfast sandwich. The girl behind the counter was pretty, mid-20s, talking on her cell. She snapped it shut and asked, without making eye contact, if I wanted something to drink with that. She looked as if she’d been crying. I said no thanks, and she rang up and assembled my order. As she did so, I ticked off the mental checklist we had memorized: slurring of speech–negative; loss of balance or coördination–negative. About two dozen data points in all.

When my receipt printed out, she tore it off with a deft flick of her wrist and glanced up at me. Apparently that was all it took, because she said, “I’m only working here to kill my mother.”

I made no reply, as per instructions, and fresh tears welled in her eyes. “Oh, it’s true!” she declared. “I’m a spiteful daughter who only lives to torment her mother. I admit it! I have a freakin’ master’s degree in marketing from NYU, and I was a founding owner of Toodle-Do.biz. I practically ran Toodle-Do from my bedroom. Sixteen hours a day! But did she care? No! She was all, ‘Why don’t you find a real job?’ She couldn’t even comprehend what Toodle-Do was. I mean, I could tie her to a chair and put a fucking laptop in her fucking lap and use her own finger to point at the screen, and still she can’t see it. I mean, what do I have to do?”

Once she was rolling, the young woman’s confession built up momentum and volume, and her coworkers glanced nervously at us. “I’ll tell you what I did! I sold my shares in Toodle-Do and took the most demeaning, most mindless ‘real job’ I could find!” She gestured to take in the whole burger stand. “See that?” She pointed at the deep-fat fryers, where a pimply boy was racking baskets of fries. “I stand next to boiling grease all day. When I go home, I don’t even have to open my mouth. No way! It’s in my hair. It’s in my clothes. It’s in my skin.” She raised both wrists to her nose and inhaled. “I smell like a freakin’ exhaust fan, and it drives her mad! Oh, it pushes her right over the edge! My grandmother died of a stroke when she was only in her 50s, and every night I pray to God to give my mother one too!”

I just glossed over this and I didn’t read the entire story, there are lots of 1, 2, 3, 4, … links to this. I’ll bookmark it for later when I have more time to read it. I’ll understand if nobody has the patience to click through the pages, online stories can be torturous to read. If anybody manages to read the story before I do, let me know.

My classic novel I want to talk about is actually two; The Farthest Star and Wall Around A Star, continuing on the Dyson Sphere theme from Orbitsville and the “Nibiru” Sumerian myth. These were written in collaberation by Fred Pohl and Jack Williamson in the mid-1970s. It was also originally serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction.

The brief synopsis of the books is that a galactic federation in which humans are a junior member of discovers that a super-large object is approaching the galaxy at a significant percent of light-speed. A team of expendable beings are sent toward the object to drop off a tachyon matter reassembler so that a permanent base could be built using faster-than-light matter replication technology. You see, only messages and patterns can be sent faster than light, not material objects. The replicator reassembles the patterns into matter when it catches them (building materials and beings). The beings name the object “Cuckoo” or “Cloud Cuckooland” because by the known laws of physics, the thing shouldn’t exist! The real surprise comes when the expedition discovers that Cuckoo is inhabited by a sampling of known races of the Federation! And the object came from outside of the galaxy!

The stories never got a good review from the critics, but I liked them and in fact, I read these before I did the Orbitsville stories! The science is somewhat dated (tachyons are proven not to exist, but “quantum entanglement” has replaced them) but the slower than light tech is right on, if not a little behind, even for the 1970s.

These are going to be some of my “re-reads” this summer (Lord willin’ and the ‘crick’ don’t rise). Finding them isn’t a problem because I already linked to Amazon!

Have a foil of a good day folks! I’m outta here for most of the day because of family outtings, gotta do the real Dad duties! Ciao.