Kate Beckinsale’s UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS surprisingly watchable

I delayed watching Kate Beckinsale’s UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS till I could get it cheaply. I thought the series was played out and the latest episode might be barely watchable. I wasn’t willing to spend the time and money going to the theater. Or buying it to stream. When it was available to cheaply rent to stream I finally watched it.

I was pleasantly surprised. It has several surprising twists and turns, double- and even triple-crosses, plenty of action, and the always watchable Kate Beckinsale. I was very satisfied that I’d finally stepped up to watch it.

Available from Amazon.com.

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I want what SEVEN OF NINE had!

Recently people have started having radio ID chips surgically implanted. Stupid. You have to undergo surgery, which is dangerous even at its most innocuous. To upgrade you need more surgery. To fix problems yet more surgery. Worst, you can be tracked and hacked by hostile people.

Much better would be something had by Seven of Nine of Star Trek: Voyager, played by Jeri Ryan. SevenOfNine had a jewel-like device pasted above an eyebrow, another near an ear, and a chic semi-glove worn on one hand. As I remember it (perhaps wrongly) the eye jewel talked to her optic nerves, the ear jewel to her aural nerves, and the glove to all sorts of devices, including the two she wore.

image credit: FanPop
Jeri Ryan page on Internet Movie Database

Star Trek: Voyager
1997 Gallery/ Season 4
#774
Photo By:
Julie Dennis

(Julie Dennis Brothers is an award-winning photographer who is still very much active. For more info see this article and her web site.)

The advantage of these devices is that they can be pasted on via a weak glue like that on Post-it notes, and easily removed and replaced. They can also be made decorative. The woman (and man) of the near future might have several sets for different occasions.

The only problem? The non-surgical neural links haven’t been invented yet!

Still, we already have all the tech we need for a modern version. Earbuds are old hat. So are datagloves, used mostly by gamers. Google Glasses and their imitators are here, and coming down to a price many of us can afford. The only thing which remains is some company to combine all three into a system tied together by Bluetooth. (And made cheap, convenient, and attractive enough to be fashionable.)

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2017 HUGO AWARDS FINALISTS

Mike Glyer’s FILE770 is my goto fanzine. It has just published a page containing the 2017 Hugo SF Awards finalists.

It was created, seemingly, by “JJ.” Whoever s/he is has done a great job. Each work has a CLICKABLE link to that work, and the longer works have links to a SAMPLE!!!!!!!!!

I’ve already sampled several and bought two books: The Geek Feminist Revolution, and Ms. Marvel #5. I’ll likely buy more books when I’ve finished sampling.

Several aspects of this year’s list please me.

  • Inclusion of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric and the Shaman in the Best Novella category, and her The Vorkosigan Saga in Best Series.
  • The inclusion of Stranger Things in Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).
  • And inclusion of Hidden Figures in the same category.
  • The great depth and breadth of the works in the Best Related Work category.
  • The diversity in the Best Graphics Story.

Stranger Things was a delightful surprise to me when it came out, in its evocative homage to the ’80s, and its expert handling of the evolution of the character of budding superhero, Eleven, played by surprisingly adept 12-year-old actress Millie Bobby Brown. (The series creators say she will have a prominent role in the second season, on which they are already working.)

I was also happy with the inclusion of Hidden Figures. It might seem strange to include a historical and nearly-contemporary movie in the category of science fiction. But it felt perfectly natural me. It WAS fiction, it’s about science, and about the glory and costs of the exploration of space.

It also felt absolutely authentic. I was an aerospace software and systems engineer at NASA during the space shuttle era, and later worked at Boeing in the same job. I know the environment well.

Happily during my 25+ years at those two places I found the diversity situation better in both sexes and races in science and engineering jobs over the earlier years of the aerospace industry. The situation still needs much improving, but the fact that is much improved is heartening.

Netflix

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Amazon Video

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Great animated films MOANA and PIPER now available

Disney has long been the leader of the feature animation field, but until the late 1980s its productions were not huge moneymakers. That was when its production system was updated by Pixar, who began integrating computer production techniques with traditional animation. This allowed relatively quick production, on the order of one to two years instead of four or five. The system did this by letting computers do more and more of the routine work and letting animators focus on the creative side of films.

The creative side included not only imagery but more importantly story values. This included characters and plots which were enormously appealing, not only to children who were their primary viewers but also to adults. It also included using world-class composers and musicians for films incorporating music, which was smoothly integrated into the stories rather than being seemingly arbitrarily injected into them.

The first two very successful films produced this way were The Little Mermaid then Beauty and the Beast, released in 1989 and in 1991.

Today there are two animated films which recently became available fairly inexpensively for you to enjoy. They are Moana and the short film, Piper, which won the Academy Award this year for short animation.

RedBox

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Amazon Video

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SUPERHERO BELLE from Beauty and the Beast

I am eagerly awaiting the live action Beauty and the Beast this Friday, March 17th. Meanwhile, I revisited Disney’s 1991 animated version. It was even more magical than I remembered. I suggest you also watch it. It’s available from several sources.

Amazon Apple Google Vudu YouTube

For fun I created a superhero picture of Belle. Click on it to see the trailer for the animated film.

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PERILOUS WAIF – great military SF

In a far future Alice Long is a 14-year-old orphan on jungle planet Gaia. Her nun-like Matrons would disapprove of the body-mods she has if they knew about them. An accident reveals some, plus the fact that the brain-washing they gave her didn’t make her a docile naturist.

Escaping a heavier brain washing, she travels 2000 miles through dangerous jungle to the planet’s spaceport and manages to get off planet by rescuing the pilot of a space shuttle from would-be kidnappers.

So begins adventures among the stars in Perilous Waif, in a Star-Wars-like future. Almost all humans are modified, and they share ships and worlds with AIs with human and humanoid bodies. Alice makes friends and discovers more about herself and the mystery of where she came from. There’s plenty of action, including a few space battles, but the people are what makes this story special. And me want to recommend to you.

Preview ebook paperback

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ELL DONSAII stories, a fun series by Laurance Dahner

I just finished reading a delightful series by Laurance Dahners. Thirteen books in all (so far) it tells of the adventure of Ell Donsaii, a scientist and athlete of near-superhuman abilities. Unlike much of SF, integral to it is the science and the detective work involved in science.

It’s available in hardback, but I read it by downloading the ebooks. One great feature of Kindle editions is that you can go back and forth (as I did) between my mini iPad and my smartphone. Books stay synchronized in the Kindle apps on all devices.

Incidentally, I chose a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 over later versions because you can replace the battery and upgrade the memory, features not in the so-called “latest and greatest” Note smartphones.

Preview Amz

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W. E. B. GRIFFIN – great author of military fiction

I took off a few weeks post-holidays to deal with some personal issues. Took advantage of that time to re-acquaint myself with my favorite writer of military fiction: W. E. B. Griffin.

I highly recommend him. I suggest you start with the first book in his The Brotherhood of War series. It shows the evolution of the U. S. Army from the Second World War through the Vietnam War, as viewed through the experiences of four soldiers, beginning with them as lieutenants in the last years of WWII.

He also wrote the highly acclaimed Badge of Honor series, about the Philadelphia Police Department. As with all his books, he also tells of the interdepartmental conflicts in military and police organizations which are as dangerous in their own way as the physical action and perils his characters endure.

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

 

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Great TV miniseries STRANGER THINGS

I much enjoyed Netflix’s miniseries “Stranger Things.” The 8 episodes are the length of three or four feature films so buying a month of Netflix for $ 8/10 was well worth it.

The series has been described as Spielbergian. I agree: it reminds me most of ET, with its not-quite-teen main characters of four boys and a girl who is something of a fledgling superhero. Adults and teens do have important roles.

The characters seem real and fully realized, especially the sub-teens, and the 80s era is unostentatiously done well. I suggest you save the last two episodes to watch at once. They make up a very enjoyable finale, rounding off the story arc in a satisfying way but leaving two or three hints that a sequel was planned. The nine-episode season 2 is shooting now for release later this year.

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Latest & greatest WONDER WOMAN preview

The latest Wonder Woman trailer is out & it’s a doozy. I definitely will be in the theater the first hour of the first day when it comes out in June 2017.

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