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Posts Tagged ‘Arthur C. Clarke’

High Justice” (1974©) — book review
Today’s review is for an “old” science fiction collection of short stories written by Jerry Pournelle.  Most of the stories were originally published in “Analog: Science Fiction And Fact” magazine.  Analog has been around since the 1930’s and has published a whole lot of “pulp” SciFi over the years.
Pournelle (and his partner – in many other works – Larry Niven) is one of the “greats” of SciFi.  I have my standard of SciFi “demi-gods”: Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clark and Isaac Asimov.  Pournelle (and Niven) rate just below this level.  He is definitely amongst the historically significant writers in SciFi from the last century.
Pournelle is considered a “polymath”, that is, a person who is accomplished in more than one scientific / technical field.  After many years in the aerospace field, he changed career and concentrated on writing.  He created a number of SciFi (actually military / paramilitary SciFi) novel series which I’ve enjoyed over the years.  The series I have most enjoyed (of his) was his “John Christian Falkenberg” series.  I purchased this book thinking it might be a prequel to that series.  It isn’t.  Well, it kind of is, but not really.
(The Falkenberg series is a similar vein to the “Hammer’s Slammers” military SciFi series by David Drake which I also like.  But that’s for another post…)
Anyway, this set of stories is not “really” about military SciFi.  It’s more or less a precursor book to what has come to be know as Pournelle’s “CoDominium Future History” series.
Pournelle’s personal politics leans to what is known as “paleoconservative” and this is reflected in this anthology.  Basically, think Ayn Rand “lite”: government’s are welfare traps, society is going to hell in a hand-basket, corporations will save the world (if we get out of the way and let them), and, (of course) unions are bad.
Putting aside the politics, Pournelle has some insightful views of where the world is headed over the “next” 50 to 100 years – basically, where we are now.  Or, where we soon could be.  (Remember, these stories were written back in the 1970’s.)
The stories deal with clean power, corporate greed, political corruption, increasing food production, space based manufacturing (and asteroid mining), and rights and laws in space, in general.
So, are the stories any good?  Yes!  Once I finally got the hang of his theme, I quite enjoyed all of the stories.  Pournelle is considered a “hard” science SciFi writer. This means he goes into some detail about the science behind the technology discussed in each story.  If you lean more to the fantasy (“horror, dragons or magic”) SciFi, you may not care for his writing.  I found the technology being proposed (like using icebergs to get fresh drinking water) interesting.  They are definitely BIG engineering ideas which would take governments or very large corporations to fund.
Final recommendation: Strong to Highly recommended.  Not the “action” SciFi I normally prefer, but I enjoyed it and look forward to looking back at more of his future histories.
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On This Day In:
2018 True Measures
2017 Hoping For Tapes
In It Now
2016 On Viewing This Mudball
2015 It Takes A Village
2014 In God’s Eyes
2013 We Root For Ourselves
2012 Like A Shark
2011 Discernible Virtue

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  —  Arthur C. Clarke
Transformers: The Last Knight  —  movie review
T:TLK (2017) is another push by Hasbro to sell its action figures to kids using mass-media marketing i.e. a Sci-Fi / Special Effects extravaganza.  This episode is the fifth in the series.  The movie has Mark Wahlberg in a T:4 role reprisal as Cade Yeager,  Anthony Hopkins is introduced as Yoda, I mean as Sir Edmund Burton – the last in a line of knights from the Round Table, Josh Duhamel (who has appeared in all of the “T” movies) again as Lt. Col. Lennox,  Laura Haddock as Vivian Wembley – the last descendent of Merlin the Magician – and Cade’s new love interest, and Isabela Moner as Izabella – who has no real role in the movie – just a young girl who is supposed to have a flair for fixing machines (like broken “T’s”).  The movie was very poorly reviewed and received: both professionally (15%) and by the general audience (46%).  When more than half of your paying viewers don’t give the movie a good rating, the series is in “it” deep.
So, what did I think?  Actors: I like Wahlberg in the role.  I thought he was decent in T:4 and he is even better in this sequel.  No, he’s not a great actor and, no, this isn’t a great role.  But, I like him in it.  He brings the right amount of comedy, physicality and easy-going charm which suits the role.  I would add, though, that Mark is starting to show his age and really needs to get into some more mature acting roles sooner rather than later.  Hopkins is meant to bring a certain amount of gravitas to the film.  He does, and humor too.  Duhamel has had the same role since the beginning and it’s basically “fit, military looking male of appropriate age”.  He’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.  Haddock is basically a Megan Fox (“T1” and “T2”) look-alike without having to pay for Megan.  Having said that, Haddock is better in the role.  Not that the bar was set very high by Fox, but Haddock has a few funny lines and a few disdainful glances which she manages to pull off.  I’ve not seen her in anything else (I haven’t yet looked her up), but again, she was okay.  Moner rounds out the major actors with screen time and, as near as I can tell, is only present to try to convey a “family” theme which runs through all of the prior “T” films.  I guess the writers felt one-way calls between Cade and his daughter (who is away at college), didn’t get the message across enough.  Deep down though, I have a feeling Moner’s role is a shallow attempt to get young female “SMART’s” to buy “T” toys.
Plot: Wow!  So much, so wrong…  It’s hard to know where to begin.  I won’t bother.  The movie doesn’t make sense.  The movie doesn’t really follow prior continuity and doesn’t really have continuity within itself.  Worst of all, the movie tries to squeeze in so much it “feels” long.  I don’t know if there is a much more damming comment you can give an action movie than: “It feels long…”
Special Effects:  Nothing really jumped out at me as “new” or “wow”.  That doesn’t mean the f/x weren’t any good.  They were.  It really is just more of the same.  Chases, explosions, lots of ammunition, folks tossed around, etc; but nobody (human) really gets injured or killed – except for a few of the spare “T’s” in the movie.
Final recommendation:  This is NOT the worst “T” movie.  It is actually quite watchable as long as you are approaching it in the spirit it’s intended: chases, explosions, lots of ammunition, folks tossed around, etc; but nobody (human) really gets injured or killed AND a light sprinkling of humor every 10-15 minutes.  (Okay, someone is gonna say: “What about Hopkins?”  Yes, his character dies, but even that is handled gracefully with a good-bye from his butler.)  If you’ve spent 8+ hours of your life watching the other four “T” movies in this series, another 2+ hours watching this one is probably not going to hurt too bad.  I give it a moderate recommendation based only on watchability and humor.  A final note: this is clearly a lead in to at least one more sequel.  If director Michael Bay doesn’t step up his game and get better writers, hopefully, the next will be the last, cause while this isn’t the worst in the series, it’s not a very good movie – stand-alone or in the series.
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On This Day In:
2016 Rare Competition
2015 Now Where Did I Put That Thing?
2014 Reckoning
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2013 Trying To Capture Serenity
2012 Above The Vaulted Sky
2011 Active Learning

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Science fiction is held in low regard as a branch of literature, and perhaps it deserves this critical contempt.  But if we view it as a kind of sociology of the future, rather than as literature, science fiction has immense value as a mind-stretching force for the creation of the habit of anticipation.  Our children should be studying Arthur C. Clarke, William Tenn, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley, not because these writers can tell them about rocket ships and time machines but, more important, because they can lead young minds through an imaginative exploration of the jungle of political, social, psychological, and ethical issues that will confront these children as adults.
 —  Alvin Toffler
From his book: “Future Shock
[I would add they should be read because they are (were) great writers!  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 1010
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2011 Not Enough Time

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Yet perhaps the most important result of such contacts [with extraterrestrials] might be the simple proof that other intelligent races do exist.  Even if our cosmic conversations never rise above the “Me Tarzan – You Jane” level, we would no longer feel so alone in an apparently hostile universe.  And, above all, knowledge that other beings had safely passed their nuclear crisis would give us renewed hope for our own future.  It would help to dispel present nagging doubts about the survival value of intelligence.  We have, as yet, no definite proof that too much brain, like too much armor, is not one of those unfortunate evolutionary accidents that lead to the annihilation of its possessors.
 

—  Arthur C. Clark
From his “Report On Planet Three And Other Speculations
 

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They will have time enough, in those endless aeons, to attempt all things, and to gather all knowledge.  They will not be like gods, because no gods imagined by our minds have ever possessed the powers they will command.  But for all that, they may envy us, basking in the bright afterglow of Creation; for we knew the universe when it was young.
  —  Arthur C. Clarke
From his book: “Profiles of the Future
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The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.

—  Arthur C. Clarke

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