Last night, after midnight, I took a drive out to a dark country road. It was a moonless night: perfect for astrophotography.
Gutenberg is the new big thing coming from and for WordPress. It’s a brand-new, radically-different editor for posts.
It’s slated to be included in WordPress version 5.0.0. Currently, as I write this, WordPress is at 4.9.7. So it’s coming very very soon—possibly as soon as August of this year (ie, 2018).
It’s available as a plugin in advance, so you can try it and see what you think. So far… so far I’m liking it.
I stopped in at Co-op to get some groceries, and got in the shortest line I could find. The guy in front of me, man, he was a story.
He had a thin beard, grey eyes, and wore a basketball tank-top and a ball cap. His arms were tattooed with numbers and designs: a 12 on his left forearm, an ankh on one wrist, the word SATAN’S crawling down the inside of his right forearm.
He had a 2-litre bottle of store-brand cream soda, violently pink, and four packages of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He paid his bill—$7.86—with a double fistful of dimes, and got 15¢ change back.
He’s got a story to tell. Probably quite a few of them, really. I just have no idea if I’m tough enough to hear them.
Last weekend, Kathleen and I were in the city. We caught one of Julian’s* baseball games.
* Along with his team, the Bonvital Gold Sox.
- Sleeping Giants
- Waking Gods
- Only Human
As a young girl, Rose Franklin falls into a hole and discovers a giant mechanical hand. As an adult, she goes to work on what has now been named Themis: a giant robot of alien origin, which, for unknown reasons, traveled to Earth sometime in the distant past, only to be disassembled and scattered around the globe.
Along the way she teams up with a couple of military pilots, a man who claims he’s descended more or less directly from aliens, a rogue geneticist, and a mysterious stranger who wields more power than literally anyone else on Earth.
But no one’s ready for what happens when the robot builders show up. Or what happens when a handful of people are transported to the builders’ homeworld.
Turns out an invulnerable giant robot can have a profound effect on the geopolitical landscape.
The novels are epistolary, told in the form of transcripted interviews, news broadcasts, personal journals, letters, and the like. Sylvain Neuvel is a master of propulsive storytelling—I read books 2 and 3 in a couple of days apiece (normally it takes me between a week and a month to read a book), and the story itself had me laughing more than once. I especially enjoyed the tone of the Mysterious Stranger’s dialogue, even though he was sometimes not a very nice person. (There are no shortage of not very nice people here, and everyone’s flawed, just like the real world.)
The story examines the consequences of discovering that, not only are we not alone in the universe, but there exist aliens quite capable of wiping out the entire human race without breaking a sweat. How do you fight against a threat like that? And what happens when flawed human beings get access to that technology?
Well, you’ll have to read the trilogy to find out. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Highly recommended, especially if you’re into first-contact yarns, sardonic humour, giant robots, or geopolitics. Oh, and linguistics.
My story’s elevator pitch is “ET, with a retired farmer with dementia in the role of Elliott”.
Once I have more details about how & where to order, launches, etc, I’ll be sure to post them.
On the weekend I finally watched Disney’s Tomorrowland. I sort-of remembered its theatre run, which was underwhelming (apparently it lost over $100 million dollars, based on its production and marketing costs vs. its box-office take).
The story in a nutshell: As a boy, Frank Walker goes to live in a retro-future paradise, till he’s booted out for some crime that remains unspecified until nearly the end of the movie. He grows up into a bitter, bitter man (played by George Clooney). Meanwhile, Casey (Britt Robertson) might be the key to Frank’s return to Tomorrowland, and also the key to, you know, staving off the seemingly inevitable end of the world. Facing off against them is Nix (Hugh Laurie) and his army of
skinjobs Audio-Animatronic robots.
I thought it was a decent movie, worth a watch, even if it was unsubtle. The scene in the Texas collectibles store (Blast From the Past), where Casey squares off against evil AA ’bots Hugo* and Ursula, was chockablock with reminders that Disney bought Star Wars. Some of the AAs were pretty creepy, especially the manically-grinning leader of the Men-in-Black–styled “Secret Service” squad.
In a world that seems to prefer its entertainment on the grim & gritty side, optimistic SF is a hard sell. It has a tendency to come off preachy or heavy-handed, and this movie didn’t manage to evade those pitfalls. I’m still glad I watched it, though.
It’s an interesting companion to Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays, which I read a few months ago, in that both explore the idea of alternate futures, especially the sorts of futures we seemed to expect in the 1950s (flying cars! shining towers! personal jetpacks!).
* Hugo Gernsback, because of course.
My Michael Swanwick chapbooks have arrived.
And they’re both great.
I discovered on the track today that this song (“Superbeast”, by Rob Zombie) perfectly matches my running* pace.
It’s extra funny when you consider that, as I was leaving the house this morning, my wife said, “Enjoy running… for your life!”
* Fine, jogging pace.
I shot this photo from my deck, on a chilly night at the end of March 2018. Then I went inside and ordered Michael Swanwick’s chapbook/objet d’art Blue Moon, helping to ensure it would sell out instead of being burned.