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Baseball action

Julian pitching

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.

The Themis Files review

Only Human image (from thethemisfiles.com)

Thanks to my local library, I read Syl­vain Neu­v­el’s The Themis Files tril­o­gy:

  • 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.

Parallel Prairies

Parallel Prairies cover

Update: The book now appears on the publisher’s site.

Some­time this fall, my short sto­ry “Vin­cent and Char­lie” will appear in Great Plains Pub­li­ca­tions’ new anthol­o­gy Par­al­lel Prairies edit­ed by Dar­ren Ridge­ly and Adam Petrash.

My story’s ele­va­tor pitch is “ET, with a retired farmer with demen­tia in the role of Elliott”.

Pre-order from: McNal­ly Robin­son | Amazon.ca

Once I have more details about how & where to order, launch­es, etc, I’ll be sure to post them.

Tomorrowland

Still from Tomorrowland

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.

Superbeast

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.

 

Sabotage (Memories of JJ, #8)

Dad loved cop shows from the ’70s and ’80s. He wasn’t a big fan of ’80s and ’90s music, though. So imag­ine my sur­prise, one day, when, home for a week­end, I heard the dul­cet tones of the Beast­ie Boys com­ing from the TV that he was watch­ing. It was such an odd occur­rence, in fact, that it took me a moment to rec­og­nize what I was hear­ing.

Then it clicked: it was the break­down in “Sab­o­tage”.

I came out of my room just in time for the lyrics to start up again, and Dad, real­iz­ing he’d been tricked, switched the chan­nel.

I get it, though. It sure does look like an ’80s cop show.