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Posts from the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Starbuck & The Rest of Season 3 (Spoilers)

Yeah, I guess putting “spoilers” after that title doesn’t help much, does it?

I was moved to post on the topic based on Elliot’s comment on my original post on a possible end to the series. After all, if Elliot cares, then maybe other people do too?

So the quick recap:

On March 5th (yesterday), the Battlestar Galactica episode “Maelstrom” aired. At the very end, Starbuck dies.

There is a nice interview with Katee Sackhoff, the actress who plays (played?) Starbuck on TheSciFiWorld. Katee has been pretty pissy about Battlestar Galactica all season, and she has frequently commented about how she didn’t like the love triangle set up around her character this season.

Personally, I found the episode tiring. So many predictions and allusions to Starbuck’s life having meaning & purpose. The vague references to finding out what lies between life & death.

Right now, the only options are:

  1. Starbuck is dead. Finito. No mystery, just a girl in Viper who went suicidal.
  2. Starbuck escaped. Some lame last-minute rescue or eject, picked up by a Cylon before dying.
  3. Starbuck is a Cylon. She wakes up in Season 4, resurrected, as one of the final Five, and becomes the fleet’s worst enemy because she knows them inside and out.

#3 is not the worst twist in the world. That would be my guess, assuming the writers don’t have the guts to just have her be dead.

There are only three more episodes in the season. BuddyTV has some additional spoilers here. It sounds like the last two episodes focus on the trial of Baltar, where we will learn the identity of one of the last five Cylons, and where Baltar will eventually go free.

Do you have a guess as to the Cylon? Based on the penchant for this writing team to go after the unexpected, my prediction would be for President Roslyn to actually turn out to be a Cylon. True, she went through that bout of cancer. But, Adama can’t be a Cylon, since his history is public and pre-dates the humanoid Cylons. I also like feeding on the suspicion that Roslyn somehow escaped the destruction of New Caprica on purpose, rather than on accident.

Unlikely, maybe. But if it’s some other character, will we really care?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Update (3/20/2007):  Check out my new post on the Final Five Spoilers for the Season 3 Finale.

Book Review: Empire, by Orson Scott Card

Does the idea of a book about a near future American civil war between conservatives and liberals sound interesting to you? Complete, of course, with a George Soros-clone turned militant leader, and mechanical robots policing New York and EMP laser weapons taking down F-16s?

Before I get into reviewing this book, let me just say that I’ve been an Orson Scott Card fan since I was 12. I’ve read almost every book he has published, even the way-far-out-there LDS material. Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books of all time.

This book, unfortunately, left a bad taste in my mouth, the same way that all of Michael Crighton’s books have since somewhere around Disclosure. It’s blunt, predictable, and seems written more for screenplay or a video game than as a full fledged novel.

There have been a lot of flame wars about this novel online, mostly from people who haven’t read the full book. Orson Scott Card has, for the past decade, developed a habit of sharing early chapters of books, for free, online, to solicit opinion and feedback from his fans. I think it’s safe to say that most science fiction fans, who skew to the left, didn’t take to kindly to a world where a “Progressive Restoration” raised its own army to “liberate” New York from the false US Government in power since 2000.

You can check out the fun at Amazon.com, in their book reviews. Liberal blogs like Lean Left skewer Card for his conservative mentality, although it turns out he’s a registered Democrat (My favorite part of that one is the fact that the author had not actually read the book. Sigh.) Here is a Podcast of an interview with Orson Scott Card. More interesting, here is an interview with Card about the state of video games on Wired.

Back to the book.

There are some redeeming elements worth noting.

First, maybe I’m just in a “Rome” state of mind these days, thanks to the HBO series, but I liked the idea that the United States of America is not currently comparable to the end days of the Roman Empire. Instead, the book posits that America today is like the last days of the Roman republic, in the immediate years before Octavian rose to power, quelled civil discontent, and established an Imperial line as Augustus Caeser.

Second, most critics haven’t read Orson Scott Card’s afterward to the novel, which really seems to make a heartfelt entreaty to move past the currrently hyper-partisan atmosphere. There is no doubt that Card skews conservative, but he states that there are dangerous extremists on both the left and the right, and that too many issues have been arbitrarily grouped together (abortion & global warming?) in order to villify and divide people as “red” or “blue”. This book is a clumsy expression of these sentiments, meant to highlight the dangers of such radical polarization, but it seems earnest.

As a side note, Card begins each chapter with quotes from one of his characters, a historian turned proto-dictator. Some of them are pretty neat:

If you always behave rationally, then reason becomes the leash by which your enemy pulls you. Yet if you knowingly make irrational decisions, have you not betrayed your own ability?

It is possible to be too much smarter than your opponent. If you give him credit for more subtlety than he has, he can achieve tactical surprise by doing the obvious.

In war planning, you must anticipate the actions of the enemy. Be careful lest your preventative measures teach the enemy which of his possible actions you most fear.

My prediction? Card uses these to write the next great trendy business leadership book, based on these pseudo-Sun-Tzu dictates… :)

In all seriousness, Orson Scott Card’s novels have become caricatures of his original style. Maybe it’s the price of success and insolation, maybe it’s just lowest common denominator publishing. I don’t know. I’m not unhappy that I read this book, but it felt about as deep and impactful as a reality show… within weeks I expect that I’ll have forgotten most of it.

Summary: If you like Orson Scott Card, reading this book isn’t worse than reading any of his other most recent novels. But you’d probably be better off going back and re-reading Ender’s Game again.

Satin Tights No Longer: Joss Whedon is Not Working on Wonder Woman Anymore

Just caught this news tidbit tonight, and had to post.

One of the most anticipated upcoming comic book movies was the new adaptation of Wonder Woman, which was being written by Joss Whedon. Whedon is a cult favorite for shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the more recent western/sci-fi series “Firefly” and the following movie “Serenity“.

As Joss Whedon reported on his own blog, Whedonesque:

“You (hopefully) heard it here first: I’m no longer slated to make Wonder Woman,” Whedon wrote. “What? But how? It’s pretty complicated, so bear with me. I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked. Hey, not that complicated.”

It’s surprising news, especially given the initial optimism that Whedon would be able to take Wonder Woman to production, after a number of failed attempts.  He also made comments to the effect that he had never established an idea for a lead actress, likely the number one challenge with a character like Wonder Woman.

You can read more on the SyFy Portal.

Star Trek XI: Return of Kirk & Spock & Scottie?

With new actors, of course. Thank goodness.

Just a quick post tonight – I’ve been busy this weekend celebrating my birthday. I promise to write up more about that later.

However, since I was on a movie kick yesterday, I thought I’d post this juicy news tidbit. They are, in fact, working on a new Star Trek movie, currently known as Star Trek XI, and our friend William Shatner seems to have leaked some details.

From the SyFyPortal:

The man best known as the Capt. James T. Kirk says the rumors on the Web have been right all along: J.J. Abrams is working on a story for “Star Trek XI” that will bring Kirk and Spock back to the franchise with much younger actors. And if Shatner has his way, he’ll have some part in the whole thing.

This sounds fairly interesting to me, since it seems that pseudo-retro revisits to the original storylines have been fairly popular with other franchises, why not Star Trek? We’ll see how well this does, but it’s an interesting development. I had always kind-of assumed they would end up making either a Deep Space Nine or Enterprise movie (they kind of capped off Voyager completely). But in truth, going back to the original series might be the most likely success story for Star Trek.

Apparently, the new movie will also feature a young Scottie, and Captain Pike. Interesting.

Hot Movies for 2007: Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Transformers & More

Not my typical blog post, but I have been a movie vacuum for the past few months, after the birth of my second son.

All of a sudden, I found a reference on one blog to the new Transformers movie coming out this summer.  While I was never an action-figure fan, I loved the Transformers when I was growing up, and so I am extremely excited to see this movie come to the big screen.  I was nervous when I heard that it was going to be live-action, and not animated, but the trailer looks pretty good.

If you missed the 1980s, and need to read up on the Transformers, I continue to be amazed at the quality of the information on Wikipedia.  A friend of mine at eBay, Michael Morgan, has a feedback score of almost 2000 now selling & collecting GI Joe & Transformer action figures.   I know he must be excited about this one.

Since I’ve been in such a movie void that I missed this big movie, I decided to poke around and find out what other big movies are planned for 2007.   I’m delighted to share here a few of the movies that caught my eye for release this year:

(Dates borrowed from the blog, Cinematical)

Clearly, this list of movies tells you a little too much about my taste in blockbusters.  But please note, for the record, that after the living hell that was sitting through Pirates of the Carribean 2, I have already stockpiled at least 10 excuses on why I won’t be able to see #3 when it debuts this summer.   And as much as I liked Die Hard when it came out, I’m not sure I’m excited to see Bruce Willis reprise the role again this year.

A couple notes on the movies above, since a few might be unfamiliar to you:

  • Evan Almighty is a sequel to Bruce Almighty, but focused on the Steve Carrell character.  Since right now, I’m liking every show & movie Steve Carrell makes, I’m assuming this will be worth seeing.
  • Ratatouille is the new Pixar movie.  The movie focuses on a rat, living in Paris, who dreams of opening his own restaurant.  Did I mention it’s the new Pixar movie?

I am particularly excited about the new Spider-Man movie, and the new Harry Potter movie, both of which promise to be more complex and rich than the previous sequels.

Some people lament the current sequel-happy culture in Hollywood.  I have to admit, there are far too many self-serving, vapid sequels like Ocean’s Twelve (and now, this year, Ocean’s Thirteen) floating around for my taste.  Evan Almighty has the potential to be weak in this regard as well.

Still, it is so wonderful to get strong sequels to great franchises, like Spider-Man, I’d rather they spend more time on the next Spider-Man and Superman, and less time making movies about marginal superheroes like Daredevil, Elektra, and coming soon, Iron Man.

One movie not cited above for 2007 is the planned Wonder Woman movie, by Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire and Serenity fame.  This promises to be a great one, but although IMDB says 2007, since they haven’t even cast the part yet, it feels like this will be 2008 at best.

Enjoy!

Battlestar Galactica: Spoilers for the Rest of Season 3

Too good to pass up.

Here and here.

Come on, you know you want to know.

The second link is a very long and in depth interview with Ron Moore and David Eick on the series, the rest of Season 3, rumors about Season 3, the made-for-DVD movie in the works, and the cliffhanger before Season 4.

Update (3/20/2007):  Check out my new post on the Final Five Spoilers for the Season 3 Finale.

Battlestar Galactica: Renewal for Season 4 (but new spin-off Caprica struggling?)

A quick news tidbit from a new blog – SyFy Portal.  Yes, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I read it.

The good news is that it looks like the SCI FI channel is ready to announce support for another season of Battlestar Galactica, probably my favorite drama right now that isn’t on HBO.  Season 3 is about to start up again after the mid-season cliffhanger on January 21st, with a move to Sunday nights.  If you are not Tivo’ing this or catching it on iTunes, it’s never too late.

The bad news is that the new spin-off show proposed by the creators of Battlestar Galactica, “Caprica”, may be having some trouble.  The article suggests that the new show is unlikely for 2007.  That might be a good thing, since the spin-off doesn’t sound that compelling, and might represent a real “jump the shark” moment for the series.

In any case, you can read more about it here.

The Benefits of Misspelling on eBay & Blogs

It has been a funny couple of days for my blog.

Remember the incredible volume of page views I saw when I posted my theories on the likely ending to the new series, Battlestar Galactica?  Well, let me tell you, posting the expected title of the new Harry Potter book has spiked my blog again to one of the fastest growing.

Interestingly, I found out, after about 1,000 page views and a dozen comments, that I had gotten the title wrong.   I had posted the title as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” instead of the correct title, “Hallows”.

Apparently, however, it is a common mistake.  So common, in fact, that the original news story that I had quoted had also made it.

In fact, it has been so common that literally thousands of people have been typing “Harry Potter Hallows” into Google & Yahoo, and my blog has reaped the benefit.   No doubt, the post is popular because it reflects, through indexing, a common mistake that people make.  The competition for the misspelled version is less, and my post is right there, indexed perfectly for it.

Misspelling has to be one of the most common “predictably wrong” things that people do in the modern world of internet search.  And yet, despite years of technology and focus on the area, it still can be an incredible source of value.

On eBay, for example, it has been a long-standing trick of experienced buyers to search for common mis-spellings of their favorite items.   Since most buyers don’t search for the mis-spellings, they often find great deals from unwitting sellers who don’t realize their mistake.

Similarly, I’ve seen eBay sellers take advantage of common mis-spellings by offering listings that feature mis-spelled words in their titles!  Less competition, since most sellers spell their titles correctly.

Of course, eBay is always working to upgrade its search engine with common mis-spellings, since its goal is to make the marketplace as efficient as possible.

Still, new mis-spellings crop up all the time.  In the blogging world, it looks like I inadvertantly contributed to a new problem, and reaped an unfair reward.

I have now updated my blog to include the correct spelling and a note, but I notice that my blog article URL is permanently indexed to the wrong spelling.

Oh well.  It’s always fun to have your blog page views look like this:

Harry Potter, Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (not Hollows)

Google News is citing over 383 articles about this topic already, but there is nothing wrong with posting #384.

The title for the “last” Harry Potter book has been revealed, it is: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

As of February 1st, you can now pre-order the standard version or deluxe version for delivery on July 21st:

Here is the Forbes article, which at least has well written coverage.

Rowling’s U.S. publisher, Scholastic (nasdaq: SCHL – news – people ), Inc., released a brief statement Thursday announcing the name of the world’s most anticipated children’s book, the finale to her phenomenally popular fantasy series.

No publication date or other details were offered. Rowling is still working on the book, she wrote on her Web site in an entry posted early Thursday.

“I’m now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more,” she wrote. “I don’t think anyone who has not been in a similar situation can possibly know how this feels: I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don’t want, to finish this book (don’t worry, I will.)”

You’ll notice I put the word “last” in quotations. That is because, while I like the Harry Potter series very much, they are anything but original in character development and plot. As a result, I also expect J.K. Rowling to follow the well-trod path of other series writers, who claim that a given book is the “final” one of the series, only to publish some new version of the story or characters years later, after a suitable break. It might be 10 years later, but it will happen.

I’m very excited to see if Book 7 resolves itself in the same way I think it will. Book 6 definitely followed the expected path, and sets up some very well-known character models for betrayal, defeat and victory. We’ll see what happens.

Update (12/23/06): I have changed the title to “Hallows”, since that seems to be the consensus, although the search for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows turns up a lot of news clippings as well. Thoughts?

Update (12/26/06): See my new post on how mis-spellings can help your popularity! It seems that my blog is a big hit with the people who want it to be “hollows”.

Update (02/01/07): See my new post on the release date for Harry Potter 7: July 21, 2007. There is also a link to pre-order the book for delivery on July 21st.

Battlestar Galactica & The Simpsons Cartoons

Sorry, I know I’ve been posting a lot of random stuff lately, but I couldn’t resist this one.

Someone has put together a set of images of all the Battlestar Galactica characters as Simpsons characters.

battlesimpsons-parents.gif

Thanks to Scott Kleper for forwarding this to me.

Battlestar Galactica: The Passage Screws Up (Jupiter vs. Zeus)

Drat.

I really like Battlestar Galactica. It has been one of my favorite shows for the past couple of years.

I don’t want to criticize it. I don’t want to be annoyed by it.

But long before I liked Battlestar Galactica, I loved Greek & Roman mythology. And they are making really stupid mistakes.

In this last episode, the writers have clearly gotten confused as to whether the religion of the humans is based on Greek or Roman mythology.

Baltar, in this episode, is decoding some pseudo-prophecy from one of the Baseship hybrids. He decodes a reference to cow eyes as Hera, as she is sometimes referred to as “cow-eyed” in Greek mythology. So far, so good.

He then jumps to her husband, “Jupiter,” and maps this to the location of the artifact they are looking for as they search for Earth.

This might be nit-picking, but Jupiter is the Roman name for Zeus. Zeus & Hera are the Greek names. Jupiter & Juno are the Roman names.

This has been annoying me since I watched the episode on Tivo. It’s such an easy detail to get right, and they are really messing it up. Everything else is Greek. Athena, not Minerva. Apollo, of course, has the same name in both Greek and Roman.

Drat. Small detail, maybe, but they are even calling the final episode next week “The Eye of Jupiter”. Drat.

Battlestar Galactica: The Eye of Jupiter (Mid-Season Finale)

I haven’t posted a lot this week due to late nights and early mornings for work. However, I had to share this tidbit while it was still timely.

First, I hated the last episode of Battlestar Galactica, “Unfinished Business”. I found this post on the Table of Malcontents that sums up my feelings:

It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to confront the possibility that the once-great show Battlestar Galactica may be heading to fraktown. After Friday’s head-clutchingly bad episode, which combined boxing scenes with barfy romantic flashbacks, my sense of foreboding has escalated into franchise panic. Will our beloved show go Star Trek:TNG season 7 on us? Or, worse, Buffy season 6? Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Read on for the ten signs that Battlestar Galactica is turning a dangerous corner . . .

The article goes on to list the 10 signs that the show might be close to jumping the shark. We’ll see. Truth be told, I’m pretty easy going on science fiction that I like, and I even likes Star Trek TNG season 7. (I even liked the last season of Enterprise, so there.)

In any case, in all places, the Lucy Lawless (yes, Xena Warrior Princess is on Battlestar Galactica now) fan site has a spoiler for the upcoming mid-season finale, “The Eye of Jupiter”.

Check it out here.

Kind of neat that you can go see it on the big screen. I’m hopeful that there are several more good seasons of Battlestar Galactica left before I have to go fishing for a new sci-fi series.

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix Trailer

So, if you’ve been reading my blog for the past few months, you’ve already figured out I’m a geek. As a result, it should come as no surprise that I have read all of the Harry Potter novels, and that I’ve seen all the movies.

The movie for the fifth book, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, is coming out July 2007. I’ve seen the trailer in the theater, but it isn’t posted online… or is it?

Sure, there are low-quality DV & cell phone videos of the theater version on Youtube. But I’m spoiled. I depend on the Apple Quicktime Trailers site for high quality trailers.

The US Harry Potter site still seems to be featuring the DVD for Harry Potter 4. Lame.

The wonders of the blogosphere have granted me the trailer, however. I found it linked off a French blog, which links to the UK Harry Potter website.

So here it is:

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix Trailer

Psychohistory is a Top Blog… For Today

Wow. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here are the daily visits to my blog over the last 30 days:

As some of you know, I decided a few months ago to give blogging a try. Over the past two months, I’ve written about ninety posts, on a wide variety of topics.

Until today, my most popular post was:
VMware Fusion Goes Beta & Virtualization for Mac OS X Goes Pro

This was a post that got a lot of hits for a couple of days, most likely because the Mac has a pretty intense fanbase, and the news was pretty timely.

Today was the first day for a new post I made last night on one of my favorite TV shows, Battlestar Galactica:
My Theory on How Battlestar Galactica Will End

Here are the latest stats on the top posts for my blog over the last 30 days now:

All those visits in about 24 hours. It’s exciting, largely because unlike other posts, this one was something purely driven by personal interest, and less about “what people want to read”. It also is a more frivolous topic.

What really happened is this: someone found the post, and started a thread on the SCI FI channel website chat boards for Battlestar Galactica. So, it’s kind of like I was SlashDot’ed, but at one millionth the scale. :)

But success breeds success, so I’m happy to announce that today, for the first time, my blog is actually ranking well across all WordPress.com blogs!

My post is currently the 8th most popular post on WordPress.com today!

My blog is rated 22nd for the fastest growing blogs on WordPress.com:

And, as I mentioned, it is now in the Top 100 ranked blogs on WordPress.com (#41):

It’s possible that the fifteen minutes of fame for this blog have started counting right now. In the end, the goal of this blog was not to become any sort of popular site or property. At eBay, we typically measure success in the millions, if not billions, of page views.  It’s funny to think that 600 page views is significant.

But it is kind of a kick to see the numbers jump like this, even if in absolute terms they are small. I continue to learn a lot about blogging through this process – I’m just glad that people are interested and enjoying my writing for the time being.

It’s also definitely fun to watch people debate my little theory on a potential ending for Battlestar Galactica.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to posts about personal finance and growing tomatoes.

My Theory on How Battlestar Galactica Will End

A lot of pop-culture posts today, but time for just one more.

I’ve been a big fan of the new Battlestar Galactica series since it first launched a few years ago. It’s one of the television highlights for me these days for a lot of reasons, some of which have to do with the quality of the show, and some of which have to do with the propensity for the networks to cancel other shows I like.

I’ve read some coverage of the series in Entertainment Weekly, and it sounds like the show is written in an incredibly open style. Some fiction know the ending of their stories from the beginning, but not necessarily the path. Orson Scott Card writes like that, as does J. K. Rowling. From the press, it sounds like the Battlestar team is incredibly open about where the series will end up. They say they haven’t decided on an ending yet, and are taking the story season-to-season.

To me, however, the ending looks painfully obvious. So, I thought I’d share it here, and see if people agree. I’ve been searching online, and I’ve found just a few posts on the subject, but there are clearly a couple people who see the same thing I do.

Here’s what we know, from the new series:

  • 3,000 years ago, humanity split into 13 colonies to settle. 12 that were close together in one system, and one remote planet. This journey was captured in religious text that is part history, part prophecy.
  • The one remote planet is Earth
  • The 12 colonies have a polytheistic culture that matches Greek mythology exactly. Even the pilots have call signs like “Apollo”.
  • The 12 colony locations match the Greek names for common constellations, like Gemini.
  • 40 years ago, the Cylons (which are the robots built by the 12 colonies) revolted. There was a war, and they retreated. Now, they have come back and literally obliterated the 12 colonies, to the point where only 41K or so humans survived and are now searching for Earth.
  • The Cylons have made themselves in their creator’s image (human), and have developed a powerful monotheistic culture. They are also aspiring to breed the next step in their evolution – a human/cylon hybrid.

So, how does it end?

I see two possibilities:

  1. The series takes place in modern times, or the near future. It turns out that the original 13th colony ended up founding Atlantis, approximately 1000 BC, which they will posit was the basis for Greek culture, etc. The humans connect with modern humanity on Earth, and somehow the Cylon problem “goes away” – either through victory, or via the Cyclons deciding that humanity deserves their respite on Earth.
  2. The series actually takes place in the past. When Battlestar Galactica and fleet get to Earth, it is roughly 2000 BC. They discover that the previous colony lost its technology, and has regressed to primitive status. They fight off the Cylons in one final battle, and settle on an island in the Mediterranean called Atlantis. They reach out to their distant brethren in nearby Greece, and start re-educating them in math, philosophy, democracy, and of course, religion with the Olympian gods. Meanwhile, in a teaser/ending, one of the last Cylons lands in the desert across the sea, and speaks to a nomad named Abram, and convinces him that there really is only one true god. There is an implication that the Cyclons are somehow the progenitors of the Judeo-Christian faith, maybe even extending to some concept that they are still around somehow.

In case you think I’m off the deep end here, consider the original speech that Patrick Macnee used to give as part of the opening narration of the original series. I never watched the original series, but it stands to reason that this does integrate into the vision for the end of the new series.

“There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. They may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens…”

I love ancient mythology and history, so I’m clearly rooting for (2) as the potential ending. Would love to hear what other fans of the show think.

Update (11/14/2006): My blog traffic is up nearly 100% due to this post. It looks like people are discussing this post on the boards. I’m seeing a lot of links to this blog from this thread on the Sci Fi Channel Forums. Thanks for reading!

Update (1/8/2007): A new post is up on the potential spoilers for the fifth and final unknown cylon.  Season 4 is almost here.

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