Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Buffy Bloopers

I didn’t realize these bloopers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer were online. Charisma Carpenter has a genuine-sounding laugh.

Stop hitting Giles!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Magic: The Gathering—at the Mall

I sometimes hang out in malls to write. If I stay at home, I end up thinking about what I should do to clean things up.

This past weekend, I went to a mall in the Eastside suburbs of Seattle and saw that part of it was dominated by gamers.

Yes, those tables go all the way down

When I asked a guy there what it was, he said it was card-trading for Magic the Gathering.

What’s really interesting is that if you look at this picture close enough, you’ll see a girl sitting there among the guys.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Best Covers of 2014

Completely subjective, of course. My choice for best science fiction cover is Upgraded, art by Julie Dillon.

This cover is endlessly fascinating. I especially like how the arm is drawn in break-apart schematic style, only the arm really is breaking apart under the influence of the metal rings. (Or maybe it’s coming together?) The cyborg herself looks very relaxed during this.

Upgraded is an anthology of cyborg short stories. I haven’t read it myself. The stories seemed too avant-garde or new wave or something.

For best fantasy cover, my choice is Night Owls, art by Dan Sipley.

This cover captured the contrast between the two female leads. There’s a great deal of subtlety here, and you can see how claw-like the crouching woman’s nails are.

Night Owls is an interesting New Adult novel about occult forces invading a college campus. Facing off against them is a mismatched group of people who really don’t trust each other, but who will have to work together. Believe it or not, though I liked the plot and characters, I didn’t finish it because I didn’t like the casual swearing in one viewpoint character’s narrative.

Best runner up is Peacemaker, art by Joey Hi-Fi.

You have to give this artist points for being different. This definitely attracted my eye to it on the bookshelf.

Set in the future, the character on the cover is a tough ranger in the world’s largest nature reserve, set on a coast near a megacity in Australia. I did read Peacemaker and enjoyed it. Then I was shocked to see it described as fantasy. I thought of it as science fiction, and the cover reinforces that.

But she does have an animal companion who is invisible to others. So does the hunky U.S. Ranger who barges into her life, whom she resents at first. And she’s attacked by things that don’t show up on recordings. Oh. It’s an urban fantasy, set in the future. So this is the best cross-genre cover. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Space Needle Drone Flight

If you’re having a bad day, watch this: A skilled drone pilot launched a drone that buzzed the space needle.

I don’t know if this is the same flight where the police tracked down the hotel room the drone emerged from and had a good talking to with the owner, as mentioned in my previous blog post. There are the usual concerns: I remember the scene in the movie 1984 where a helicopter operated by the Thought Police looked in the window of Winston Smith’s apartment. And this makes it easy for a terrorist, whether domestic or foreign, to drop poison in a city’s water supply.

But see the beauty of this shot. Also, consider how this can revolutionize search and rescue. The common use of some drones will also make a dividing line between stories.

I watched a rerun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which a couple of her friends were kidnapped. When she saw they were missing from the library, she thought they might be out looking for someone. I thought, “Why doesn’t she call them?” Then I realized the Buffy series was before cell phones were in common use.

This is an enormous divide in movies and TV shows: pre-cell phone and cell phone. (I know that smart phones also make a divide, but not as drastic.) The same is true for novels. And in the near future, novels will be viewed as pre-drone or drone. If some child is lost in a city or a wilderness, readers will puzzle over why no drone was sent out. To spy on someone who is sunbathing or unloading supplies from a ship, readers will wonder why a satellite had to be co-opted rather than just use a joystick and drone.

And for novels set in the future, 3-D printers will manufacture military drones for the battlefield or exploration drones to send out from spaceships that have landed on planets. Drones are the wave of the future, or perhaps I should say waves of drones are the future. 


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