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L’enfant Terrible February 24, 2009

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Music, Uncategorizable, Video.
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This juicy video is part of this young lady’s attempt to gain entry to the Evil League of Evil, the dastardly organization bent on (what else?) World Domination and the desire of Dr. Horrible himself, Doogie Howser, MD.  She was accepted and will appear on the DVD.

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The Nano song…with puppets February 24, 2009

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorized.
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I suppose it wasn’t really necessary to put the puppets in there, but Sesame Street needs to have a science show, in  my opinion.  Maybe they will take the hint.

John Varley February 11, 2009

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books.
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John Varley is possibly my favorite science fiction writer thanks to two of his (many) amazing books, The Golden Globe and Steel Beach.  Steel Beach is set in a future where humanity, expelled from the Earth by aliens who sympathize with whales and dolphins have kicked humanity off the planet, almost exterminating them in the process, lives in weirdly luxurious colonies on the Moon and the moons of other planets (and on Mars). Nobody needs to work since machines manage everything…so people look for things to do; people change their faces and/or gender with ease… But all is not well in this odd paradise. The protagonist, a celebrity-reporter for a tabloid (or is it reporter-celebrity), attempts suicide, and soon learns that he’s not the only one who has tried. The central computer has the blues, and is also in charge of the habitat…that’s not good.

The Golden Globe follows Steel Beach and shares Varley’s Eight Worlds universe.  It follows the frantic efforts of an actor evading a murder charge by running around these colonies and not succeeding very well.  It’s exhilarating.

It’s very difficult for me to put into words just what I liked about these books.  The fact that a protagonist changes sexes halfway through the book whacked me in the side of the head, and the strangeness of the Eight Worlds universe is oddly appealing also.  But mostly it’s the non-stop narration by clever protagonists threading their way through the weirdest mental landscape I have had the pleasure of reading in quite some time.

John Varley is mostly famous for his Gaia trilogy, and for the wretched abortion of his best book, Millenium, at the hands of Hollywood butchers.

The Blue Nowhere February 5, 2009

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books.
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“When a sadistic hacker, code-named Phate, sets his sights on Silicon Valley, his victims never know what hit them. He infiltrates their computers, invades their lives, and lures them to their deaths. To Phate, each murder is like a big, challenging computer hack: every time he succeeds, he must challenge himself anew— by taking his methodology to a higher level, and aiming at bigger targets.”

Okay—I stole that from Jeffery Deaver’s The Blue Nowhere site.  The gist of The Blue Nowhere is that this murderous madman has to be stopped by an unlikely team: a jailed hacker, a homicide detective and a few geeky cops (set in Silicon Valley, you would think it possible to have geeky cops.  No comment about the likeliness of that scenario).  Sounds formulaic, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  For one thing, it is technically utterly accurate without over-explaining tech stuff.  For another, the plot is so full of twists and turns that I can’t remember being able to successfully predict where the plot was going.

Honestly, I haven’t been able to say that very often in the last twenty years.

The combination of page-turning suspense, believable characters and a technical story that could conceivably be real is so unusual I would have to recommend it to anyone who reads fiction of any kind.  As a case in point, I myself prefer science fiction, history and comedy.  I don’t tend to read mysteries at all, since Raymond Chandler died.  I don’t think I ever read a police story before.

Jeffery Deaver also wrote The Bone Collector (A Lincoln Rhyme Novel) which is probably his most famous work, since it got a movie treatment (The Bone Collector [HD DVD]).

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