Sunday, September 12, 2010

Starship Sofa Episodes 111, 112, and 113

Episode #111
Brief Intro by Tony, and a brief outro by Larry Santoro discussing his writing process, his inspiration for the story, and his love of throwing in puns, anachronisms, and subtle pop culture references. Actually this is pretty interesting.
But the bulk of the episode is just Part 1 of Lord Dickens's Declaration.

Episode #112
Poem: Safe in Their Cryogenic Chambers by Lyn C.A. Gardner
An SF take on Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers by Emily Dickinson, the resurrection they are waiting for here is to wake from cold sleep on arriving at the destination of their presumably slower-than-light spaceship. It's only okay in a vacuum, but the correlation with the Dickinson poem definitely adds something, at least for me. If you are going to listen to this episode, and haven't already, I'd read the poem linked above, and think about it for a bit before listening to Gardner' s version. You'll definitely appreciate it more that way. It wasn't written to stand alone, and it's frankly better when Dickinson is there to supplement, but this is a good tribute.
The Sofanaut Awards by Mark Bormann
Announcing the shortlist for the 2009 awards, and a bit about the voting process.
Looking Back At SF History by Amy H. Sturgis - Captain Nemo
A long look at one of the first proto-steampunk protagonists, Jules Verne's Captain Nemo is "A classic Byronic hero ... mad, bad, and dangerous to know... an early emo-boy, action hero, and scientific genius." Perhaps too much time is given to a list of all the actors who've portrayed him, movies, TV episodes, and musical tributes, but this is an enthusiastic, loving tribute to Captain Nemo and a pretty good analysis of his character. It was interesting to learn that He was changed (for the better, in my opinion) after the first draft so as to sell more books in Russia, a funny motivation for a good decision, and a nice bit of trivia. I'd urge everyone to read (for free) the two books in which he appears: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and The Mysterious Island.
Recap of Part I by Lawrence Santoro
Thank Larry for this recap, I missed about half of this on my listenthrough of last episode.
Lord Dickens's Declaration Part II
Update by Spider Robinson
An update on the health of his wife Jeannie and their financial status. Sad but thankful.
Fact Article IPv4 by Simon Hildebrandt
A fascinating article about how we assign our current 32-bit IP addresses, which we're expected to run out of in the next few years. IPv4, our current plan, can only have 6 billion addresses, while IPv6 could assign 10 to every single molecule on the face of the planet. We currently just keep going using a bunch of tricks and stopgap measures, but it will not be enough. We have the technology to fix the problem right now, and most software and hardware is set up to deal with the changes we'll need to make, but countries and large companies are too slow and unlikely to address the issue until serious problems have already happened. The solution is IPv6, and it's something we'll all need to adopt in the next few years. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and router manufacturers know this, as do the Internet protocol guys, but countries aren't getting the hint yet. Hildebrandt gives us a look at the way the system works, the changes that will have to be made, the need to encourage early adoption, and the fact that it probably won't happen fast enough. Great stuff. Rating: A
Film Talk by Rod Barnett - The Box
Barnett opens with a discussion of Richard Kelly's first two films, before he directed The Box. Kelly made a name for himself with Donnie Darko, a film I loved, and Barnett felt he should have loved, but just didn't. Many years later, he followed up with Southland Tales, an unholy abomination of a movie. Which puts the pressure on him for The Box, his third film: does it indicate a comeback from a sophomore slump, or another failure in a likely one-hit wonder career?

The Box is based on Button Button by Richard Matheson, but of course, being a big Hollywood movie, completely screws it up. It's the classic idea of "If you press this button, you'll get a million dollars, but someone you don't know will die." It isn't hard to find negative reviews of "The Box", but I think most of them miss some of the points Barnett gets, possibly due to his awareness of SF tropes and literature. The problem isn't in the initial idea, it is that, in order to stretch it out long enough, Kelly comes up with a bunch of surreal bullshit that isn't in any way relevant. He doesn't add any depth to the plot or the themes or the central moral dilemma, he just throws a bunch of random, unconnected things at the wall in an attempt to give an illusion of depth. I find too many reviewers are unwilling to call people out on this sort of thing, and just attribute their hatred of the movie to other things besides it not making any sense. Barnett's ability to call out this bullshit endears him to me, this is a good review. Although I'm disappointed he can't get behind my Donnie Darko apologetics, I rather have Rod Barnett than Roger Ebert.
Recap of Parts I & II by Lawrence Santoro
Wrap Up by Lawrence Santoro

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