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OneBookTwo reviews ASCENDANCE

Posted Thursday by John Birmingham

We last caught up with the ladies when they were pondering the first titles in the Dave Saga. I loved the format of their review, with two critics tossing ideas back and forth. I think I may have said at the time that felt the format revealed the subjective nature of reviewing, without conceding anything in terms of the review's insight or usefulness.

I wish mainstream publications would do something similar.

Again, I loved these sorts of exchanges:

Ivana: "Okay, Nell. I told you Dave Hooper gets his slap-upside-the-head in Book 3. Do you agree?"

Nell: "I do agree. I feel less frustrated with Dave this time around. I am not sure that it will “stick”, because in my experience people rarely change."

Ivana: "Sometimes they do, especially in fiction. What did you think about the “big reveal” about Dave’s past? I don’t want to give anything away, but wow, huh?"

Nell: "The reveal was so totally on the money. The explanation rang true and with Dave’s background, southern upraising, father that was disrespectful to his wife and sons as well as abusive. Dave is not only fighting himself with how he feels in his heart, he’s fighting what he was taught by his no good, rotten excuse for a man that is supposed to be a moral compass."

Ivana Whoa. "You have some daddy issues, don’t you, Nell?"

You can read the whole thing here. There are many, many spoilers, so beware if you are not yet done reading.

17 Responses to ‘OneBookTwo reviews ASCENDANCE’

AllyOops is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday

I havent started reading it yet so forgive me if I hijack this thread. <span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:EN-AU"><o:p></o:p>

I have been on a noble quest to find a particular book and I hope you can help. <o:p></o:p>

It was the late 80s I had a Saturday job at the Port Macquarie library I shelved books while I nursed an underage hangover. Often I would pick up a book and skim over it to decide if I wanted to read it later. One Saturday I got engrossed in the book lost track of time while hiding up the back of the library. When I realised I was supposed to be actually working I put the book down planning to come back and get it again later. The book went missing someone bloody borrowed it. The hide! <o:p></o:p>

Anyway no problem I can get it another time except I had forgotten the Author and the title. Over years I have described what I do recall with no luck. Then the interwebs got invented so I search every now and then. Still nothing. Well its been nearly 30years and this is what I still vividly recall. <o:p></o:p>

Its an alternate history book where the Axis wins world war II and a group of resistance fighters based in North Africa are planning to time travel back to a meeting with Chamberlain and Co where they meet and decide to leave Poland (?) to Hitler. They arrive in a locked room and begin to talk the Allies out of appeasement. <o:p></o:p>

The lead character is a black man who has had his skin bleached and had plastic surgery, the book was hard cover and the dust jacket was a pale purpley blue and it must have been published by the end of 1988...<o:p></o:p>

I've read a heap of synopses about alternate endings to WWII but havent found one that adds in time travel can anyone solve this mystery? <o:p></o:p>

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday

Is this the alternative ending youre looking for?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Proteus_Operation

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GhostSwirv mumbles...

Posted Thursday

JB Ivana & Nell are smoking - I'd love to hear and/or see them discuss The Dave and The Monsters but I'm guessing their reveiws are blog discussions only.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted Thursday

'I am sad we didn't get to see any more of Professor Boylan. Boylan is a great character. NOTE: I didn't say "hilarious" or "funny", or anything that implies humour. Okay, Paul? Surely, "great" is okay. You can get behind "great", can't you Paul?'

The Prof's fan club grows. Shoulda made him drink more in Sydney.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted Thursday
Yeah, you should have. But it would only have lead to Bedak and me engaging in fisticuffs over a foolish artistic dispute. No one wants that. Especially me. Simon outweighs me - and his artistic tastes are admittedly superior to mine.

Therbs puts forth...

Posted Friday
That always happens when you mention Miro at the pub. Kandinsky fans just love a bar brawl.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted Friday
Kandinsky is a wanker. And his paintings are crap.

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WT Gator reckons...

Posted Thursday
Wait ... Book THREE is out? I was so busy trying to overthrow the Abbfart gummint that I missed it. Thanks FSM it's payday!

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted Thursday
Totally off topic but are you doing a book signing for #3 JB? Or could I buy an analogue copy and post it to you for signing to complete my booknerd collection? Ta :)

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted Friday

JB, she_jedi is totally on the money - when oh when are you venturing out of Fortress BrisVegas to partake in some ink disbursement?

Those of us down south, current temp. a balmy 11.3 degrees, would love to buy ya a beer or two in exchange for signature or three.

Any chance of cross-country #TheDave Literary Pub Tour?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted Yesterday
A cross country pub tour is a great idea. If it happens, consider the following:

Monster Kitchen and Bar, Canberra, ACT
The Green Dragon Hotel Pub, Adelaide, SA
Kambalda Hotel Bar, WA (owned by Davyd Hooper)
The Hotel Radnor Pub and Laundromat, Blackbutt, QLD (for the ambience)

GhostSwirv mumbles...

Posted 20 hours ago
You've really been giving this a lot of thought ... haven't you?

GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 17 hours ago

Jest asking for a friend.

PS - nothing suitable south of the border?

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted 17 hours ago
PPS PNB

Serenity NOW!

I mean I have the house to myself so its time for a little misbehaving with Serenity.

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Patrick Johnopolos reckons...

Posted Friday
I love all three of the books. I searched for 30 mi,s to find a way to email or contact you. I don't have a smart phone so not twitter. I have a suggestion for book 5. This time when you addd a new "Hero" make it a priest or minister. They can fight and complain about the language and sex. A charactor adding "Diety" could expand the twists and tension with the suits also.

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Halwes asserts...

Posted 19 hours ago

Great books. Hate the ending. Another trilogy in the works? I hated Boylan which was good. I'm sure he isn't that big a prick in real life but we all need a lawyer sometimes. I loved the Russian which was also good. The international intrigue in the face of a threat to the whole of humanity was a great interest. The ease with which society would be radically impacted is not very far from the truth. I winced when the scenes of cattle abuse tore into me with visions of the harsh reality of an abbotoir conjured up. I thought there was a whisper of the old testament running through the series. I didn't think Dave was that much of an anti hero. A hero for sure but his general behaviour / demeanor / attitudes seem pretty normal Aussie bloke to me.

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JB's Apple Watch review

Posted Wednesday into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Yes. Today is Apple Music Day. But I want to play with that for a bit before writing something. And at least I got to the Watch review quicker than I got to Firefly.

So. Sure. It’s just a watch. I've worn them before. They're convenient, more so than hauling a phone out of your pocket. But they aren't so convenient that I ever got into the habit of regular watch wearing, even after buying a couple I quite liked while in the US a few years ago.

Still, I ordered my 38mm Sports at 5.02pm on Launch day. Two minutes after preorders went live. I wasted those two minutes faffing around on the website. It was much quicker to order through the Apple Store app. That small delay cost me dearly in delivery lag, but I’ve had my space grey beauty for a month now and feel I'm familiar enough with it to write up some thoughts.

Timekeeping.

So. It’s a watch. A couple of times a day I do appreciate the convenience of just looking at my wrist to check the time. Usually when I’m rushed, needing to get kids somewhere. The sensors and software work well and it's rare for me to have to raise my wrist more than once to bring up the watch face.

After starting out with Modular I settled on the Utility face as my daily wear. It has a nice simple analogue clock face and four complications; a second time zone - New York for me; the date; outside temp; and a detailed Activity Readout (actual stats on calories burned, minutes of exercise performed and hours stood, rather than rather than the simple Activity Rings icon).

The other watch faces are nice, beautiful in some cases, and I will sometimes swap another in on the weekend. Usually Solar or Astronomy. But when the working week restarts I go back to my working face.

Would this be enough to drop five hundred bucks on?

Not just no, but hell no.

It's nice having a time piece that keeps perfect time, but we all have that with our smart phones, from the most expensive iPhone to the cheapest, nastiest Android. And you could just wear a Swatch if you really liked the convenience.

Fitness.

There's gotta be something else then, and for some of us that's going to be fitness tracking. This is not a killer use case, though. A lot of people simply aren't interested in that stuff. Others are obssesive on the topic. Neither group are going to find anything in the Apple Watch's fitness tracking and Healthkit for them. Cyclists and mad keen runners will probably stick with their big-arse Garmin GPS units. Swimmers, like my wife, have long been served by specialist waterproof watches to track laps and strokes. Apple's watch is very, very water resistant. You can wear it in the bath if you're a bit strange. But I doubt it'd stand up to thousands of laps over the course of a year or so.

That leaves those of us with some interest in fitness and health, but no overriding commitment to specialist pursuits like running or cycling which are already well served with mature technologies.

I wore a Fitbit for a couple of years. Wore a few of them actually, because they kept bricking themselves or getting lost or broken. I liked the Fitbit and still have a fond regard for it. It helped keep me on track when I needed to repair some pastry-related damage. The Apple Watch buries it, and probably leaves most other generalist fitness trackers behind too - simply because of the depth of additional functionality it brings to a wearable. I have mine synced to MyFitnessPal, mostly because of MFP’s excellent calorie tracking software.

Controlling your calorie intake is about 80% of losing wight and maintaining the loss. Especially if you’re like me and suffer from a debilitating love of baked goods and night time wines. Fitbit has a comprehensive site loaded with a lot more functionality than a simple meal tracker. But their meal tracker was mostly useful for US subscribers. It had very little Australian content, such as pre-loaded restaurant meals. And meals eaten out are the bane of calorie tracking. The first time I used MyFitnessPal to log a YouFoodz chicken salad I bought at a local grocer I was stunned to see it was already in the database with the nutritional breakdown verified by the site. I’ve been sold on it ever since.

The Watch sits on my wrists quietly logging my activity, or lack of activity during the work day, but it really shines during work outs, especially at the gym. Apple has done a lot of work loading the watch with specific routines such as elliptical workouts, which I use a lot. I’m confident that the calorie burn measurement is accurate enough to be useful. The other major advantage over my old Fitbit then, lies elsewhere – say, in the control it offers me over the music or podcasts I listen to while exercising. This is a small thing - but it eases a lot of friction during a workout and anything which makes exercise easier and more pleasant can only be good.

Again, I got no doubt there are Android watches offering the same functions for half the price (and half the battery life, BADDABOOM!). But the Watch is deeply embedded in the ecosystem to which I’ve already committed. Apple’s HealthKit App is a treasure trove of data for metrics nerds and anyone who doubts the utility of measurement should read Jim Dalrymple’s Apple Watch review. This is less a tech spec run down than a heartfelt cry of thanks to the fruit company for saving his life. Dalrymple, boss hog at The Loop, used to be morbidly obese. Now he’s not. He does’t attribute that entirely to the Watch, but he does credit the encouragement offered by Apple’s health tracking software and hardware.

From The Loop:

This is where the review gets very personal for me. This is how I lost over 40 pounds using HealthKit and Apple Watch.

I am overweight. Not just a little, but a lot. I smoke, and have for most of my life, I drink, I eat every food that is bad for me, and I just didn’t care. I think a better way to put it is that I didn’t see a way out.

Apple does a very good job of promoting Apple Watch to marathon runners and other athletes that want to stay fit and maintain their perfectly sculptured bodies. I look at that and know I will never be them, so I move on. There are millions of people in my situation that have done the same thing.

About 10 months ago I went out for a walk. That started a transformation for me that I will never forget. A simple walk.

During one of these walks, I was thinking about life, listening to music and I just kept walking. I walked a long time, at least for me, and it felt good. It wasn’t strenuous really, just a walk—turns out it was a three mile walk and I started doing it every single day.

One day, I weighed myself and I had lost five pounds. I was shocked—I ate the same, but yet I’m losing weight.

Then I remembered this technology on my iPhone called HealthKit. It could track my steps, distance, weight and other information about my body. I started using HealthKit every day to see how different things would affect my weight loss and generally how I felt. Did I lose more weight walking in the morning or the afternoon? What foods made me gain weight? Should I skip meals and hope that helps with weight loss?1

I hesitate to say I became obsessed, but I did become more aware of what I did and how it affected me, both physically and mentally.

The whole thing is worth reading because it’s a solid, no bullshit review of the Watch by a guy who knows what he’s doing, but who ends up writing a deeply personal piece rather than just a tech rundown.

My reading? If you’re inclined to take control of your health and fitness the Watch will help. More than most devices. Less than some.

Communications.

The third major element of the Apple watch are the comms functions, which range from quirky, though frustrating and useless, to great. Working your way backwards, the Dick Tracey wrist phone thing? It’s surprisingly useful. Not for long conversations, and not in public, but definitely at home or in your office when your phone is just out of reach or even missing. (Slightly off topic, but one of my favourite things about the Watch is the way it can ping your phone when you’re not sure where you put it. I use this A Lot).

Certain people in my life have an unerring sense of when I’ve begun to exercise. That’s when they like to call me. With the Watch I just hit my wrist, take the call on my bluetooth headphones. A couple of minutes of my panting and puffing and they'll usually give up. Alternately I can just cut the call before answering. So too if I’m cooking, and a call comes in, I can answer it on the wrist, hand off to the phone if needed, and keep going. It’s another small convenience, but they begin to pile up. Dozens of them. Maybe hundreds.

Getting texts on your wrist and replying with Siri or the pre-canned responses, is simple and expedient. I probably manage 80% of my messages this way now. I also get 100% of my calls because the phone taps me on the wrist as they come in. Previously if I was in a noisy street or mall I’d probably miss them.

The useless? The frustrating? It’s the prominence given in the User Interface to your ‘special friends'. They get the only dedicated hardware button besides the digital crown, and I don’t know of anybody who uses it. The biometric stuff, exchanging heart beats, is super creepy with anyone outside your DNA pool. And the doodle thing might work for Picasso, but not for me or anyone else I know. Dan Moren, of Six Colors, suggested retasking the hardware button to bring up a wheel of Glances – the micro apps which let you take a quick peek at say, the weather or your bank balance. A brilliant idea and way more useful than Apple’s design choice.

Bottom line, as a communications device it is oddly useful and useless depending on the tasks you expect it to perform.

Apps.

There are of course thousands of tasks you can potentially ‘hire’ the Watch to perform. It launched with 3000 apps. But I think we’re a year away from developers and users understanding the platform deeply enough to build and use apps properly. Some, such as Marco Arment's podcast app, Overcast, or Shazam's spooky song ID app, are brilliant. Most are not. Maybe that will change when native apps drop later this years, but expecting the Watch to somehow replace your phone misunderstands its nature. It does not replace. It complements.

The Watch is not your phone. It doesn’t want to be the centre of your attention. It wants to triage the never ending calls on your attention, letting you decide which ones are worth your time. Most of the apps you have running on your phone should never be ported across to your wrist.

Having said that though, if you have a lazy five hundred lying around, and two of the three tentpole features (time keeping, communications, fitness) interest you, it’s not a bad investment.

13 Responses to ‘JB's Apple Watch review’

WarDog asserts...

Posted Wednesday
"and half the battery life" - nice bait ;-)
It's true my Moto 360 only lasts a day and a half, but the LG G is still kicking well into day 3. But then they are both more than 12 months old, and were freebies courtesy of elGoog.
Hardware specs are *roughly* similar for all werables (until Project Soli adds in-built radar). It's the software that provides the usfulness.

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Rob puts forth...

Posted Wednesday

Is it normal to get chest pain reading Apple reviews? I get such a sense of anxiety and dread from tech reviews now. I have no idea why. I keep thinking it might be that I already have all these new 'things' that I cant possibly fit any more technology into to my crowded interior life.

My favourite watch is one I bought at Auckland airport on the way home for $50, a solid chunk of silver and black. It screams 'man' in every way. Still hasnt lost time, battery hasn't failed. However its just for looking at I use my phone for figuring out the actual time.

My fitness pal is a great application, I lost 8 kilos using it and it helped me cure my interest in eating all the time.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
"Is it normal to get chest pain reading Apple reviews?"

No. Seek an immediate cardiac evaluation. Or download the appropriate cardiac health evaluation app to your Apple Watch. It provides a fairly good diagnosis.

Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
that made me smile. Its OK I patted a boston terrier on my lunch break, all anxiety evaporated at that point.

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beeso is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
Yep. Not bad for a gem one product, but if apple lets a little bit loose on the data it collects, like heart rate, then the apps will start to outstrip apples and fill the niches people want.

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
One day all this health data will be sold to the insurance industry and be used to decide who gets covered

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
Why do you hate commerce, Lobes?

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w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
Maybe there'll be an app that can tell us when we need to go wee-wees.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted Thursday
Not yet. But there is one that keeps track of when you've gone.

dweeze mutters...

Posted Thursday
So, marrying up the data from when you've gone with your GPS coords @ pee time, you could create your own piss trail maps. Woohoo...I think.

Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
There's probably a geo-game there, waiting to be written. mark your territory and it's yours!

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Neil is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
iOS 9 and Watch OS 2 open up the heart rate monitor on the watch to third party apps, that's not exceptionally far away now. What bamboozles me most is the lack of trust people put in Apple when it comes to this data. Tim Cook (head honcho at Apple) has repeatedly stalked the companies claim to being pro privacy. iOS 9 gives you a new metric to track... sexual activity - it is even bold enough to enquire if your activity was with or without protection. It's entirely in Apple's best interest to not have this data breached. As it stands the data is held in the secure section of the iPhone - the same place they hold your fingerprint and ApplePay details. If this was Google I'd not trust it an inch.

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JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 14 hours ago
I've got an Apple MacAir Book and an iPhone, but I'm not interested in the Apple watch. I don't care to be permanently online. I've grown to enjoy being unwired most of the time these past few months. Besides, I'm happy with my Garmin Forerunner 620 sports watch - the best running watch. Sometimes I use it with the HRM belt, but often I don't. The Garmin will suit me fine for my second full marathon tomorrow. Fitbit was good for me a couple of years ago to get me back into exercise, but I progressed to the Garmin watch. It details everything running related. I love it.Joanna

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The Guardian auditions for Top Gear

Posted Tuesday by John Birmingham

Just for Doc Yobbo.

4 Responses to ‘The Guardian auditions for Top Gear’

Halwes mumbles...

Posted Tuesday

I'm getting the BMW I 8 for the little woman

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JBtoo asserts...

Posted Tuesday
Love it. The only thing they missed was hitting someone.

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GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
When I first saw this thread I misread it and thought it was about auditions for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Was slightly disappointed when I realised this was not the intent ... although on second thoughts I reckon having Rocket and Groot test drive the latest latest fastest thing would be very entertaining especially if they were racing Chris Pratt and his posse of Raptors.

Of course everything has to explode in the end, where would Top Gear be without a steaming pile of debris?

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted Tuesday
Either a good piss take or surprisingly self aware

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Firefly/Serenity

Posted Tuesday into Telly by John Birmingham

A couple years ago – to be truthful, probably a whole passle o' years ago now – I bought me the DVD of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. There was only one series made before it was shit-canned by Fox and I’d wanted to watch it when it first went to air. Whedon’s first outing post Buffy/Angel and spaced based sci-fi western to boot. What’s not to love?

The ratings, apparently.

That disc sat in my pile o’ shame for years, however, and it sits there still. Unopened. I was waiting for Jane to watch it with me, but gave up and caught the whole series on Netflix recently, finishing up with Serenity on the weekend. The step up in production values from TV to cinema was obvious, and very obviously established by Whedon in a cheeky tracking shot early in the film which flows through the entire body of the ship. Not a point of view you ever saw on the television show which made do with much more modest sets.

Bottom line. I came to love this series and would have happily paid good folding money to watch more. I enjoyed the transference of the Old West myths to an interplanetary canvas and did’t have to work too hard to suspend my disbelief at the idea that frontier cultural forms would reappear on this new frontier.

The framing of the wider narrative promised an expansive story world to explore over years, rather than the fourteen episodes Lord Rupert left us with. On the upside, the film was a fitting send off to a great concept. iO9 ran a long extract from a bio of Whedon, which devoted a chapter to Firefly. The extract came with some interesting background deets I didn’t know of. The series was apparently inspired by a Pulitzer Prize winning historical novel of the American Civil War, The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. Whedon read it while on holiday in London and was taken by the minutiae of detail Shaara crammed into the work.

The director said he "wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier. Not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on—the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization.” Firefly/Serenity is not the story of Jedi Council or the Federation’s celebrity starship captains, he said. It’s the story of the guys who cleaned out the trash compactor on the Death Star. Or the redshirts who jumped ship to escape their inevitable and anonymous fate as Klingon disruptor fodder.

There’s been a lot written about the debt it owes to John Ford’s Stage Coach, with some characters making the hyper space jump from old West to new almost intact. They’re archetypes too. however, with familiar character traits from Buffy, and possibly even the Avengers, finding fresh purchase here.


From i09:

Firefly's cast of characters is filled with the archetypes that pop up in much of Joss's work: the loner with a distinct sense of justice, although his sense of right and wrong may not mesh with society's; the stalwart and dependable comrade, who may question the hero but will always have his back; the stuffy, book-learned one who finds that real life often does not adhere to the facts he was taught; the one with faith, who has left an organized group but still works to apply its tenets for the benefit of those around him; the mercenary who's always up for a fight; the confident one who is often just trying to get through the day in the most pleasant way possible; the well-trained one whose strength is not fully understood until she is pushed; and, of course, the young woman coming to terms with her new power and the responsibility that it entails.

The movie, Serenity, could be enjoyed without investing a dozen or so hours in the TV series, but you’d find it a much richer experience for that first investment. I don’t know whether Whedon was always heading towards the resolution he laid out on the big screen, especially as regards the origin of the Reavers, who do sterling narrative duty as space zombies. Fast space zombies. Given the lack of telegraphing I doubt it.


I won’t give away any spoilers in case there are other slackers, like me, who’ve gone the better part of decade without catching this series. But if you haven’t, and you’re inclined to sample Netflix’s free trial period, you could do worse than spend a wet weekend on the High Frontier with Captain Mal Reynolds.

33 Responses to ‘Firefly/Serenity’

Spanner mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
I loved Firefly. I've watched the series several times. It's one I can go back to over an over again. The crew of the Serenity are a bit like Easy company from Band of Brothers or crew of the rebooted Galactica in that I care about them. Yeah I get that in Serenity and even Galactica there are tropes and that Easy was real people.
Do the characters carry the narative?
In Firefly and Galactica they certainly do.
*puts on thinking hat and goes to think some more.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
Serenity is high in my top ten bet films of all time.

NBlob reckons...

Posted Tuesday
I don't remember a bet?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted Tuesday
Bet = best

Fucking jet lag.

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beeso ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
Pretty sure the Netflix listing is the TV one which is out of order. So watch them in this order if you do use the streamSerenity (parts 1 & 2)

beeso puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
I will modify that. If you might be an early adopter and using the US version of Netflix you will get this problem. Oz has the DVD version it seems.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
Unfortunately, if you actually know anything about the American Civil War then trying to watch Firefly is akin to a brigade of cats clawing away at a chalkboard.

It is the show I wanted to like, but man, I just can't. In fact, Whedon's only offerings to date that I have been able to sort of buy has been his Avengers outings.

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Aaron has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
I watched serenity first having heard about firefly. Great stand alone flick and better when paired with the show. I wish they would open up the universe as it had so much more light and shade to offer. The current trend of dark and even darker we seeIn game if thrones and walking dead is getting too much. Theoriginal cast was great but why not relaunch with new faces the right age.

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Peter Bradley ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
Not having a historical perspective to it I just watched it for what it was when it came out. Engaging and at times a little bit thinky but like Buffy there were some great one liners;
Kaylee - "ain't nothin' touched my nethers for a year that weren't battery run
Jayne - "I'll be in my bunk"
Wash - " I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar"

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
I was late to the series, having finally watched it last year, and loved it! I have Serenity sitting on my hard drive half watched...I got interrupted and haven't finished it. That was definitely a show with promise, and a great shame it got canned by bean counters. My wife was quite a fan of Castle there for a while...they managed to toss the odd Firefly reference into that show too!

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TheWah reckons...

Posted Tuesday
Has anybody watched the new series "Dark Matter"? I get the feeling they are trying to capture the Firefly vibe. Firefly mixed with Farscape.Not as good as either, imo

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
Thanks ComicBook Guy.

TheWah puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
We can't all have your "Ten years past the zeitgeist" level of cool. :)

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted Tuesday
No. No you cannot.

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coriolisdave is gonna tell you...

Posted Tuesday
I've also heard not-great things about Dark Matter, but a similar show that's just kicked off is "Killjoys" - I get a similar firefly vibe from it, remains to be seen if they can keep it up

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted Tuesday

Watched it often, and even to this day if I turn on the TV and Serenity is on I'll watch it again.

In one of the pieces I read Whedon said TV is about questions where as movies are about answers. Never was that more clear than that the differences in the stories between the series and the movie particularly regarding the Reavers.

Zoe's "She's torn up plenty, but she'll fly true" still brings a tear to my eye.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
I really do love this film. There are many really great lines and bits of dialogue. But for me the best is what Joss Whedon describes as Mal's “St Crispin's Day speech”:

"Y'all got on this boat for different reasons, but y'all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday

and the delivery. Nathan Fillion either has a natural rhythm or he was directed by Whedon but that speech.

swing back to the belief that they can make people... better.

that beat between people and better, conveyed so much


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
My wife and I discuss that kind of thing all the time. A good actor makes good choices. A great actor makes the perfect choice. I think the pause you describe was a perfect choice.

GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted Thursday

Nathan Fillion is a fine actor and his range of dramatic delivery is typical of many North American actors.

Writing and direction is key ... the clearest difference between entertainment media content of the USA, UK and Oz is how the Americans deliver the dramatic world of the story, particularly in TV, it might be overly melodramatic at times - but more often than not it serves the dramatic intent and heart of the story, ... mostly a considered beat is all it takes.


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted Thursday
Thank you for recognizing that. The world loves to slam American media by focusing in on its worst examples. Much of it is excellent by any standard.

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Surtac has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday

Yeah. Have to admit that Serenity is definitely one of my all-time favourite movies and I rewatch it often -- it has got to the point where I've found myself quoting its' dialogue in seemingly (to me) appropriate situations both at work and home.

So it goes.

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nhamilton has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
Watched it years ago with my daughter. It now comes out every school holidays along with Lord of the Rings trilogy and Veronica Mars series when she wants to lie around and watch movies. High praise indeed.

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GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted Tuesday
I love Firefly and Serenity ... I've owned and watched the DVDs since they were first released, over and over again.

Captain Mal is up there in my opinion almost on the same level with Captain Kirk, and like PNB I feel that ... "I aim to misbehave" is one of the best inspirational speeches I've ever heard, I'd sign on in a heartbeat.

It's as good as ... "I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you".

If ever a show needed a rebirth, reboot its Firefly - plenty would have happened to the crew of Serenity since we last flew with them and I'd love to journey with Mal once more.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted Wednesday
I am informed by confidential sources that part of the discussions surrounding the film involved the original cast's concerns about the film inspiring a reboot of the series - something many of the original cast wanted to avoid. If the series comes back - which I personally would welcome - it would be with different cast set in the same universe.

Blake mumbles...

Posted Wednesday
I am not much of a twitter user, but i do follow Nathan Fillion - the interplay between he and William Shatner is pretty cool. The fictional likeness you mentioned crosses over into a real life one with the way in which the communities sprung up around them, and their canadian heritage etc

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David Bofinger ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
I know fans scream at George RR Martin when he does anything other than finish their series. I guess John Birmingham needs to have a similar work ethic. But leaving Firefly on the shelf for ten years is amazingly dedicated and I salute you for it.

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Steve would have you know...

Posted Tuesday
Fun fact: Serenity makes an appearance in the first episode of Galactica. There's a scene where Laura Roslin is in an office building, and you see the reflection of Serenity in the building across the road.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted Wednesday
I am so going to the first episode to check this out. I so want it to be true.

Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
The AN/UGC-74A makes an appearance as well in Galactica's CIC, but no one cares.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
Very cool. The Galactica was supposed to be low tech, and the AN/UGC-74A is certainly low tech for that civilization.

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted Friday

Its cool too how they've incorporated obsolete Westinghouse military tech into the art direction - if I'm not mistaken, just to the right is of the AN/UGS-74A is a WTO1010B/W.

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sweet jane says asserts...

Posted Friday
Um... Yeah... I saw both series and film, each a few times, in their respective decades.

This is a report on why I like dinosaurs.

J.

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Which is more likely, Star Trek or Mad Max?

Posted Monday by John Birmingham

The LA Review of Books has a neat little essay about the econmics of our contending SF futures. Will join the Federation with holodeck nookie and replicator mac-n-cheese for all. Or does out future lie in the hellish, yet somewhat more entertaining dustopocalypse of Mad Max?

WE HAVE TWO OPPOSING VISIONS of the future. In one, technology has advanced so far it seems almost magic. We blithely teleport ourselves around the planet and explore distant galaxies. We manufacture iPhones and steak dinners out of thin air, just from their component molecules. Scientific knowledge has unraveled the structure of the universe, technology allows all our needs and desires to be met with a minimum of effort.

The second is more dramatic and less idyllic. Desperate and hungry gangs of thugs roam a post apocalyptic landscape littered with the detritus of our decadent civilization, battling over the last tanker load of gasoline. In the aftermath of ecological disaster, all legitimate authority collapses and anarchy reigns. The dream we can call Star Trek, the nightmare Mad Max.

Behold, the future.

The writer, Tom Streithorst, tends to come down on the side of optimism, but the essay reminds me of William Gibson's quip that the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. Elelmetns of both futures probably lie in wait, depemnding on your credit rating.

There are some great factoids in the piece. For instance: Your family and mine alone consume as much energy as all of humanity put together did during the Middle Ages.

Mind blowing if true. I so hope it's true. And yet, if it is, we might well be doomed. One thing conservatives seem to understand more than progressives, modern civilisatiopn is less about the distribution of capital than it is about the generation of energy. All you have to do to shut down any intelligent climate change policy is let the average punter have a taste of two bucks a litre at the petrol pump. (I always liked this aspect of the Mad Max story - the idea of energy as commodity, currency and irreducible minimum of existence).

Anyway, the essay is cool. Worth a read over lunch.

25 Responses to ‘Which is more likely, Star Trek or Mad Max?’

Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted Monday
I think the energy to mass conversion issue of replicator technology ensures that we are unlikely to have a Handwavium based pure socialist society anytime soon. Conversely, short an apocalyptic disaster of unpreventable proportions, say an asteroid strike, I don't see a Mad Max future coming down the pike either.

Human developmental history is, for the most part, a patchy series of progressions followed by deviations into dark ages for sustained periods of time. Each part of the globe and each culture goes through such patches and I don't believe that will change anytime soon either.
The likely future we face is one with a series of spurts and stutterings towards a more progressively improved human society. Granted, there will be the ever so often disaster, war, famine, pestilence, human insanity to one degree or another. But I think we are angling toward something better.

What will it be? Well, no one to date has done a very good job in actually predicting the future. The best we can do is extrapolate based on current trends.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Rob mumbles...

Posted Monday

I read a Cracked article about the star trek future, funnily it talked about how everyone in the Star Trek future didnt need money and was given a job etc. So this was great if you were made a starship captain, not so much if you were a red shirt. The point he made was who was working at the grimy bar while the space navy guys got drunk and started fights? Were they happy with their station in life? or was it part of a life long dream of 'lets open a bar, totally, I've always wanted to run a bar'

Rob would have you know...

Posted Monday
oh and how I love this line 'In 1900, transportation in Manhattan was based on horse and carriage. Authorities predicted that by 1930, horse manure would fill the streets three stories high. The rise of the car has created its own problems, but it certainly solved the horseshit crisis.'

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted Monday
Yeah, that was a great line. Made me laugh out loud.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Monday
Isn't there still a horseshit problem?

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted Monday
A few families using as much energy as the entire of humanity in C1400?

I dont know about that... Sure we use a hell of a lot of energy these days but the whole of humanity... I made a few assumptions for a modern family over one year and got

Home (mostly electricity) 140000h
Transport (mostly petrol) 8700 kWh
Work (office) 2000 kWh

Thats about 150'000 kilowatt hours per annum, a large amount to be sure but more than humanity?? Where it gets tricky is at what point do you stop counting energy; Do you count the embedded energy used to build a modern house? Do you count the energy used to build the car that carries the pizza that you ordered for dinner?

Same same for mediaeval times; Do you count the energy in the waterwheel that grinds the feed that nourishes the horses that carried Tamerlanes army across Mesopotamia? Do you count the energy in the fires that were lit to raze Colchester during the English Civil War?

Comparing modern and historical times is fraught with difficulty and this is no exception.


John Birmingham mutters...

Posted Monday
Yeah, I agree. But what an attention grabbing metric. I did wonder how it was measured. Like, how do measure the amount of wind power captured by all the world's sailing ships in those days?

Quokka puts forth...

Posted Monday
I've seen that somewhere & I think it's measured on manufacture/transport costs of consumables.That was in nutrition class 30 years ago talking about how much energy it takes to produce a bag of lentils v. an equivalent weight of protein from beef.I remember reading similar figures when we were considering environment-friendly flooring for the extension at Casa Q. We went for bamboo, because it grows so quickly & is so easy to replace, but the costs of transport & production meant it was less environment friendly than plantation timber.Think about how much plastic your kids use, starting with nappies, bags of bread, cartons of milk, and the production of all the consumables in the weekly grocery shop - much less building costs - and it starts to add up.

damian ducks in to say...

Posted Monday
That's kind of the point though. There really are people who've thought about this stuff a lot, and generally if they were conservatives before they started, the exercise cured them.

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Simon has opinions thus...

Posted Monday
Surely Neill Blomkamp hits closer to the truth with his dystopian near futures? I consider myself to have a pretty active imagination but sometimes thinking about what the future might contain 100 to 200 years down the track my brain hits an impenetrable glossy black wall and i get despondent not being able to slide around it.
Best guess is more of the same - people at the top through a combination of hard work and luck (or on the flip side through inheritance and someones else's hard work and luck) ruling it over the rest. (this of course describes the malign as well as the benevolent).
There will always be poverty and exploitation - seems to be humans modus operandi. In the long run the 13.8%ers (to take an arbitrary figure less associated with the billionaire 1%) help out more people than it probably squashed under its heel but that is little consolation for those poor stuffers being oppressed at the time.
Its a good exercise to think about the future to reflect on the present - rail against the injustice of third world poverty and turn off the big screen tv when the ads get a bit too much

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted Monday
I think it's going to get a little Mad Max before getting a little Star Trek. The human population is out of control, and there will be some unavoidable catastrophe that will serve to reduce the population to a level that can become sustainable. Then we can begin the Star Trek life.

Shifty Tourist would have you know...

Posted Monday

If I remember my Trek-lore sufficiently, things do go a bit Mad Max before they go Star Trek.

If I remember correctly there is a Nuclear war which destroys society, including marauding gangs (like Khans mob) going inquisition on folks. Eventually Cockran (?) electrical tapes a Warp capable ship together, catching the attention of the Vulcans. From then out its all reversing polarities, and romancing green skinned aliens.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted Monday
Star Trek requires FTL travel. Mad Max just requires shit to keep going wrong.

Simon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Monday
Don't forget using heaps of oil to find oil . . . . . .

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted Monday
I think you are correct, Gibson said it pithier.

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Sudragon mutters...

Posted Monday
I'd rather have the Firefly version, it seems to contain the best bits of both.

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Blarkon asserts...

Posted Monday
You could of course solve this by writing your 6 volume thinky space opera opus "Bio Of A Space Lizard". Wif big FKN spaceships on every cover.
You want to write books with spaceships on the covers right?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Monday
But of course. The Lizards get their scaly arses kicked though.

Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted Monday
Better to die the villain due to massive star collapsing splosions in a multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winning series of books than to limp on as the hero.

NBlob reckons...

Posted Monday
Psst Mr Rhino. I think he's talking about you.

Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
Yes, yes, the Lizard's ugly jealousy gets the better of him on most days.

Blarkon asserts...

Posted Tuesday
Ugly Sexy Jealousy

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damian mumbles...

Posted Monday
I think the picture that progressive science has brought us since the mid-80s or so is that in as much as humanity has a future, it will be one with less and much more restrained per capita energy use. Infinite energy has always been very much a conservative myth, Shirley.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted Monday
I see bad days coming. All our easy accessible resources have been consumed. The stock materials through which the green revolution went global have been used. There are no more archipelagos of guano. We've misused the fruits of our intellect, carbon fuel, antibiotics pesticides and now face a future starting 2 steps behind where we were. There are glimmers of hope; new PV watt for watt cheaper than coal, unravelling GM. But extrapolating from past performance I'd offer 5:2 that we fk it up.

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WarDog would have you know...

Posted Monday
IMHO it depends on whether we get through the evaporation of most jobs over the next 25 years. If we can reposition society to accept the economic reality that most people won't be able to out compete machines for a steadily growing range of jobs and that a living wage is a necessity then we get StarTrek.
Otherwise 21st C version of the french revolution and MadMax.
Either way, we live in interesting times.

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Fear and Loathing Comix

Posted Sunday into Comics by John Birmingham

I have already pre-ordered this bad boy. A graphic novel of the good doctor's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Seems odd at first, given the integral role of Ralph Steadman's drug fucked illustrations to the original text, and the twisted beauty of Hunter S. Thompson's prose. How could it work.

I dunno. But I'm willing to take a small plunge on finding out.

5 Responses to ‘Fear and Loathing Comix’

dweeze asserts...

Posted Sunday
Back when JB was penning Felafel, and I was conducting parallel research into out there share house living, this was my number one tome. I reckon that I've had more than a dozen copies over the years but I keep giving them away to enlighten the unenlightened. Like The Princess Bride, I can pretty much quote it verbatim. Sad, I know. It took me many years to brave the Depp / Gilliam film version and I was pleasantly surprised. Here's hoping that the graphic novel maintains the rage in its own special way...

"...there's nothing more depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge." Ne'er a truer truth been told.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted Sunday
You remind me I am long past overdue to replace my last copy.

Therbs puts forth...

Posted Monday
Buggered if I know what happened to my last copy of F&L. Those things get nabbed faster than an outrage storm swampsTwitter.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted Monday
Theres a sequel to Fight Club that's come out as a comic book (or graphic novel if you want to be a grown up.) But I'm waiting to get it as a complete book, its a little too pricey to buy monthly. I bought this a few months back its a book called Punk Rock Jesus , a very entertaining read.

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Halwes mutters...

Posted Tuesday

I just finished reading Hell's Angels. I'd avoided it for years because I thought it may have been a celebration of idiots, and I was never very happy with the way that the Angels lined up with the right over Vietnam, however it was a pretty truthful account of the times. I only picked it up because there was a 3 penguins for $20 sale in Dymocks in Sydney. I also got The Trial by Kafka which I'd been meaning to read for years and I'm halfway through now. Next one is The Grapes of Wrath. Not bad for $20 bucks

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