GIFTED – wonderful movie about a seven-year old genius

Stories about super-smart kids (or adults) all-too-often portray them unrealistically. As eccentric in some way: socially inept, physically awkward, or downright ugly. The truth is that they are typically pretty much like everyone else. And like most of us have both ordinary and extraordinary needs and problems.

(For more about what very-smart people are really like see my post: REAL GENIUSES: What are they Like.)

The preview below lays out the basic problem the two main characters are faced with: how to bring up a genius.

Frank (played very convincingly by Chris Evans) fears a repeat of what happened to his sister, who killed herself shortly after giving birth to Mary (very believably acted by Mckenna Grace). Grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan in a nuanced performance) fears Mary will be denied her potential by Frank’s insistence that his niece have a normal childhood instead of the intensely intellectual one his sister had.

How the two good people battle to a solution is a compelling story. I was impressed at the many subtle reveals and grace notes of the script by Tom Flynn and the realization by director Marc Webb. Grace also makes an adorable child, good hearted but in some ways too smart and strong-willed for her own good.

Gifted is available as a Blu-ray and DVD discs and streamed.

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Latest VORKOSIGAN SAGA book now in paperback

The 17th and latest volume of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Vorkosigan Saga is now available in the conveniently sized mass market paperback: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

In this latest chapter of the Saga Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, Vicereine of the planet Sergyar, returns home to the planet. Greeting her is Sergyar Fleet commander Admiral Oliver Jole, an old friend of her and her deceased husband. He finds she has plans in which he may have a part – plans which may send his own plans for the future in unexpected ways.

Miles Vorkisigan, Emperor Gregor’s galactic troubleshooter, learns of those plans and launches himself and his wife and kids on a mission of investigation. To disturbing and comic effect.

For the first few chapters click the image.

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THE BIG SICK engrossing film

My lady friend and I watched The Big Sick this weekend. She suggested it, I was mildly interested. But as I watched it I became really engrossed in the story and the people in it.

There are no beautiful people saving the world from horrible villains or events. No big events, in fact, beyond the main event, which is the main character’s love getting so sick her doctors induce a coma to let her body better fight it. Just ordinary people dealing with several related problems.

The main character, for instance, is a citizen whose family left Pakistan decades ago for a better life. They feel what’s best for the MC is to arrange a marriage with a Paki woman. His love’s parents are horrified to discover she was in love with a foreigner, even though having only known life in the US his values and tastes are wholly American. How he and she and the two families cope with the situations are what make the story. It’s a small story, but I suspect you will have as good a time experiencing it as I did.

The Big Sick is still in theaters but is now available as a disc to rent or buy or stream.

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WONDER WOMAN Blu-ray disc available & news

Wonder Woman director Parry Jenkins has been signed to direct the sequel (for a Dec 13th 2019 release). According to the Hollywood Reporter story she gets oodles of money upfront & box office gross (better than BO net, which with studio accounting can be zero).

In related news the Wonder Woman Blu-ray & DVD discs are available starting today, Tuesday the 19th, in outlets such as Target, Best Buy, and Amazon. According to a review in Batman-news the disc has lots of extras.

To publicize the disc availability Warner Bros. had a 300-drone display light up the Los Angeles early night sky with Wonder Woman images. See the following for the show.

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Here’s the first draft of an interior illustration for my Shapechanger book, The Super Olympian: Mystic Warrior. In it my heroine is asked to help an old friend who’s been captured by terrorists. The baddies are hiding in a jungle, so she changes her skin to blend in with the greenery and dons green clothing and selects a rifle with a camouflage stock.

Why is she showing so much skin? Isn’t that something I’ve knocked comics about? Because I came up a good reason for when bare skin is not silly after all. She has skin which is as hard as rubber when struck by a knife or pistol bullet. Still has to avoid rifle and machine-gun bullets, partly by stealth and partly by having supersenses and super-accurate return fire.

Click the image for an expanded view, and more of my superheroine images, including Katy Perry as superheroine Snow White.


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GIANT ROCKETS – a new generation

Space exploration and exploitation is now big business, no longer the private playpen of governments. As witness the several new launch vehicles being used and in the works, an example being the Falcon Heavy which SpaceX is expected to launch this year, to take over some of the duties of its workhorse Falcon 9.

A recent report in the LA Times gives details. To read the article click the following image.

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New ERIC FLINT book available – The Alexander Inheritance

I’ve bought this. As I autobuy all of Eric Flint’s alt-history books. His first book was 1632, which has developed into an entire series of books. Lately he’s branched out into books based on the cosmic cataclysm at the root of the 1632 series.

From Baen Books: “Twice before, mysterious cosmic catastrophes have sent portions of the Earth across space and back in time—first, with the Grantville Disaster in West Virginia, and then again with a maximum security prison in southern Illinois.

Now, the planet is struck with yet another such cataclysm, whose direct impact falls upon the Queen of the Sea, a cruise ship in the Caribbean. When the convulsions subside, the crew and passengers of the ship discover that they have arrived in a new and frightening world.

They are in the Mediterranean now, not the Caribbean. Still worse, they discover that the disaster has sent them more than two thousand years back in time. Following the advice of an historian among the passengers, Marie Easley, they sail to Egypt—or, at least, where they hope Egypt will be.”

Click the image to read the first few chapters of each book. Click the list Baen supplied for The Alexander Inheritance to find your bookstore.

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WORLD’S LARGEST AIRCRAFT to launch spacecraft

Remember all those suggestions for two-stage-to-orbit space vehicles where the first stage was reusable?

One suggestion was for the first stage to be a rocket which returned and landed by backing down a rocket exhaust. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made that real with their Reusable Launch System.

Another suggestion was for the first stage to be an aircraft of some kind. Now that too is real with Stratolaunch SystemsSystem Carrier made for them by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company. Each of the two approaches have advantages over the other. Time will tell whether we see both used, which is what I’d guess.

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X-37B MINI SPACE SHUTTLE drone lands

This last May another X-37B mini spaceplane landed after almost two years in orbit. It did so under remote and mostly autopilot control. During the time in orbit it performed a number of experiments and jobs, some of them classified.

There are currently two of these spaceplanes, each of which has done two long-term space missions. A larger variant which could carry humans into orbit has been proposed but so far only conceptual studies have been done.

Click the image for more info on the mission and its ending. There is also a useful X-37 Wikipedia entry.

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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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