Category Archives: Science Fiction

Posts in/about the science fiction genre. We have some more specific science fiction focuses, check those out!

Book Review – Childhood’s End by Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's End CoverRecommended to me a few years ago during, of all things, a job interview, I recently finished reading Childhood’s End (1953) by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. In the same set of recommendations as A Case of Conscience, the book that got my whole Science Fiction and Religion series going. As this might be considered the formal end to that series, maybe it’s fitting.

One of the most interesting things, in my edition at least, is the introduction by the author written in 2000. An interesting year for Clarke, given that his great saga began in 2001… Anyway, he focuses on two interesting things in the introduction. One is that he felt like the movie Independence Day owed a lot to him, and his opening chapter. An alien invasion arrives, and pulls into the sky over all the major cities of the world all at once, trailing their reentry burn. I think that Clarke might have had a better mental image than what he put on the page… because I wasn’t seeing the similarity other than the base concept.

The second was that he was apologetic about the plot content of the story… but didn’t feel that it overpowered the book. That’s probably true, but we can get to that… The story ends up, however, in a very supernatural place, as an explanation of why the invading aliens end up not aggressive, but peaceful. That leads me to the story, so let’s start there!

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The World’s Changing Around Us…

We’ve written a bit about politics of late, as it’s quite the year for it. Of course, our original thought was about how crazy politics in the United States is going… but then we got topped. I mean, when there was the Scottish independence referendum, it was an exciting shakeup of the status quo just that it happened, but it didn’t pass, and the world moved on…

And then Brexit.

And it’s painful to see that immediately after the vote already passed… after the Prime Minister resigned… that’s when people were looking up the question “what is the EU?” A backslide from the movement towards any idea of larger post-nation world government, the sort of science fiction thing I write about…

It’s a new world we’re moving into. It will be interesting to see what this means – for England, a country that I love; for the European Union, if this precedent is only the beginning; for Scotland, which seems to be thinking about independence again; for global economies and the way things are now.

What it means when the U.S. votes in November.

A united thought between this vote and the presidential one is immigration. I just looked up the world population… 7.4 billion. People moving and running into those that aren’t like them, that seems like something that’s just going to happen more. Science fiction talked about overpopulation and xenophobia and overcrowding plenty. We unfortunately may be hitting that point in human history – and science fiction rarely predicted that it went well.

So… yeah. This is going to all get interesting.

Voltron Legendary Defender Kicks Giant Robot Reboot Ass

voltron-legendary-defender-08

Last week, Netflix released the latest iteration of the Voltron franchise. I’ve been cautiously optimistic about the new series, Voltron: Legendary Defender, since I heard about the project. The more I saw animation clips from Dreamworks and interviews with showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, the more torn I became. Legendary Defenders looked amazing. It sounded like the folks involved were on the money and trying to create a show that both old and new Voltron fans could enjoy. Still, I couldn’t let myself get too excited. I’ve been burned by too many lackluster reboots and updates, and Voltron is important to me. I don’t think I would’ve made it through fourth grade without Voltron. I debated whether I should tune in on June 10, and after much angst, I decided I would watch the first three episodes. I ended up watching the whole series. This post is not so much a review but a reaction. I’ll have reviews and more indepth commentary in upcoming weeks, once Comparative Geeks makes its move to self-hosted.

voltron legendary defender blue lion cave

Editor’s Note: post includes a few excited expletives. 

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The Benefits of Escapism

Sometimes, the world really sucks. It’s beginning to feel like every time we start to heal and move on from one tragedy or disaster, another strikes. Last week I was dealing with flooding in our area, and the persistent threat of tornadoes, but all of that faded into the background with what happened in Orlando.

This is by no means a post rehashing the news, or remarking on the politics now surrounding it. I’m in dire need of a break from it all, just as I’m sure you all are, no matter your personal affiliations. It’s times like these that I really do marvel at the beauty of literature, music, and films to take one’s mind off of things. This is when I’m most in need of all guilty pleasures, no matter how small. Red wine and some cookie dough ice cream while watching Netflix? Yep, I’m there.

One of my personal favorite guilty pleasures is historical romance novels. For a bit of light reading full of lush clothing and descriptive language, it can be interesting enough to keep my attention and absorb me so that I forget the awfulness of the world around me. Plus, it has the benefit of being comfortingly predictable; as a reader, you know exactly where the story is heading. Love will triumph and the hero and heroine will ride off into the sunset together. It’s incredibly reassuring and serves its purpose wonderfully: escapism.

Everyone has their own form of escapism. Literature is a fantastic one, because you can honestly imagine yourself in the shoes of a heroine and lose yourself in a new world that you create in your mind. Geek culture is full of ways to indulge in escapism. Science fiction and fantasy novels can be brilliant, richly detailed escapism. The multitude of geek-central television shows we currently have, whether presently airing or available on Netflix (Firefly, anyone?) are a fantastic source of comfort right now. Plus with all of the great movies coming out this year, there has to be one or another that you can check out in the weeks to come.

The Nine Alignments of Firefly

Editor: There we go. Firefly, Good, and Evil, all in one image.

I’ve talked before about how I use the phrase “popcorn movie” as a positive phrase because there is something so deliciously wonderful about being able to absorb myself in a film for two hours, whether or not the movie is full of substance. Popcorn movies are perfect for times like these, when all we really want is to munch some popcorn in a dark theatre and “ooo” and “ahhh” over some really cool graphics and Good vs. Evil stories. Especially because popcorn movies, like historical romance novels, give us the sense that good/love can and will win.

So I say make sure to indulge in some escapism this weekend, in whatever awesomely geeky way you want. And then Monday, pick yourself back up and face the world and do your best to emulate the heroes in the fandom you indulged in and try to make sure that good will win, even in our presently sucky world. Whether by speaking out against hate, donating time, money, or blood, writing to your lawmakers or voting, or even reaching out to your friends and family and letting them know you love them. Use your geeky escapism to bolster your spirits and refresh yourself so that you can help tackle the problems we all face.

The Flash – Recap and Review

First off, it might have been a week or two, but – whoa – the finale rocked my world. It most certainly made my head spin. Let’s deal with the awesomeness that is John Wesley Shipp donning the suit as ‘the’ Jay Garrick. A little trippy, but way cool. For those who missed the earlier television series (90s), John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen. Maybe you saw it coming, all the hints at the man behind the iron mask, but I certainly didn’t expect to see a version of Barry’s father – The Flash in his own reality/dimension.

Jay Garrick - the Flash

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