Category Archives: SciFi

Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod and H. G. Wells

Ken MacLeod speaks with Stephen Baxter on his new book The Massacre of Mankind. The despairing title comes from a phrase in The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. This is the sequel. It’s not the only sequel, as the first book (from 1897) has long since passed into public domain. But it’s the only one authorized by the Wells estate.

I’ll wait on buying it until my own forthcoming book is ready, and then until the price comes down.

The premise of the book is that the martians return after having studied what went wrong the first time. The British have learned a few things, too, with all those martian war machines left by the first invaders. Baxter studied the science that was understood at the time, and remained faithful to that.

The discussion is good listening if you’re an H.G. Wells fan. I’m tempted to say more, but a character in my next book talks about Wells and I don’t want to say anything best left for that.

Baxter also wrote an accompanying novelette, The Martian in the Wood (also available free at Tor.com).

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation coming to TV (maybe)

That is, if we’re lucky. Contracts have not yet been signed.

Via David Brin, linking to an article on SyFy (which is not necessarly where the show would appear):

Screenwriter/showrunner David S. Goyer (the Dark Knight films and the upcoming Krypton TV series) will work with Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) to attempt to wrangle Foundation into something filmable — a task at which a number of others have failed.

Let’s hope this one works.

BBC Radio did a radio version of Foundation in 1973, now available here. I don’t remember ever having listened to it, but it’s now on my list. It should go without saying that I’ve read the books.

Podkayne of Mars

Christopher Nuttall reviews Robert A. Heinlein’s Podkayne Of Mars. He goes into the story behind the story, where the original publisher required that Heinlein revise the ending. Baen later included both endings in its reprint. (Do read the review: There’s a lot more to it.)

I’ve read most of Heinlein’s works, and probably all of his short stories. I know this book to be in one of the few gaps. I will need to revisit Heinlein at some point. After reading this review, I expect to start with this one.

Rimworld: Into the Green


With Glenn Reynolds giving me that much-needed plug, it’s a great time for me to turn around and give one to OldNFO Jim Curtis’s new book: Rimworld: Into the Green, which he announced earlier today.

This is far future military science fiction by a fellow member of the P-3 community. It’s not his first book. An earlier novelette in the series, Rimworld: Stranded, is available here, although I don’t yet know that the reading order matters in this one. His other earlier works are in the adventure genre. He’s been around, knows his stuff, and it shows.

Addendum: The novelette Rimworld: Stranded will be free through Saturday.

Instapundit book plug!

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for an unexpected book plug! I saw that he wrote last week about going back over some of his earlier finds. I honestly didn’t dare hope that mine would be one of them.

Yes, I realize that I am very late in putting out another sequel. There are reasons for this, but not very good ones. I’ll explain this better one day. For now, I’ll just say I am very sorry.

And I should say that The Time Bridge At Orion was never meant to be THE sequel. It was partly an experiment in how to do a battle scene in space. But at the same time, I didn’t want to mess up the events that need to happen for the actual sequel. That is why Time Bridge was set entirely in space.

The upcoming book will absolutely be ready this year — and I don’t mean next Winter. I have a date in mind but won’t announce it because that would jinx it. It takes up where Time Bridge left off. You will see WWII in its end, and then a future Reich. The same characters will be back to deal with the mess. This will include some things that actually happened in history, but which look differently without a victory behind us.

Why they burn

Berlin book burning May 10, 1933 — (from image in U.S. public domain)

Berlin book burning May 10, 1933

Do you remember why Ray Bradbury’s firemen burned books? I thought of this again when I saw that the free speech advocates over the pond at English PEN were screening the movie version of Fahrenheit 451.

I confess to being skeptical whether they’ll get to the original reason, but maybe they will. Their announcement quotes from the book:

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it.” — Ray Bradbury

Like most people, I’d forgotten Bradbury’s reason until The Observer’s Ryan Holiday reminded us of the real reason we need to stop trying to protect everyone’s feelings:

If you’d asked me what it was about before last week, I would have told you: “Firemen who burn books.”

And if you’d asked me why on earth they did that, I would have answered just as confidently: “Because a tyrannical government wanted them to.”

There is a trend afoot to conveniently remember the works of authors like Ray Bradbury and Aldous Huxley as warnings against distant totalitarianism and control. But this only scratches the surface of what these books are about.

Note that he said “conveniently remember.” That trend has only gotten worse. Or better, depending on your point-of-view.

Bradbury’s society did not burn books because of the government. Holiday quotes the book:

“You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? … Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, to the incinerator.”

It’s the people rioting in the streets that want your books burned. Perhaps it’s not so much that Bradbury saw this coming but that it has often been this way.

It was the German Student Union that organized burning books with the SA brownshirts in Nazi Germany.

Raumpatrouille: 1960s German SF

Raumpatrouille (Space Patrol) was a seven-episode German science fiction show in the ’60s. The style was somewhat reminiscent of the movie Forbidden Planet.

YouTuber Rewboss gives a short but thorough explanation for English speakers:

The show is well worth a look. The first episode is here. Be sure to turn on the subtitles for a translation.

This is what people in the ’60s thought the future would be like. Expect more than a few scenes to be unintentionally funny. The dancing in the background reminds me of SNL’s Sprockets, which adds to the charm.

All seven episodes are available on YouTube. Some videos don’t have the English subtitles, but there is an alternative if you look around.

Axanar is Go

But it’s in pieces. Little pieces.

As I explained last year, Star Trek’s powers-that-be had decided that the fan film Axanar needed to be axed after more than a few warp-factors too many. Several unwritten lines had been crossed, forcing Paramount to write it all down in ink. As Engadget reports:

Although the full list of changes hasn’t been made public yet, it has been announced that the film will need to abide by at least some of the official fan film guidelines. Specifically, the production can only be 30 minutes long in total, and even then it has to be split into two parts. The Axanar film also can’t have “Star Trek” in the title, cannot use public crowd-funding and may not compensate any of the professional talent for their work.

The 30-minute length is a big loss for what was intended to be a feature-length movie. The only big break I see is that they’re allowing Gary Graham to appear as Soval the Vulcan, seen in this teaser:

My first post on Axanar is here. It links to the original promo, which was already longer than each section is to be permitted.

I always understood the reasons for these positions. Still, this is a major loss for the production, and for us fans. But it’s better than nothing.