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Does anyone remember a short story called "Fusion"? [Apr. 21st, 2015|04:57 am]
Science Fiction Community

langkard
Originally posted by langkard at Does anyone remember a short story called "Fusion"?
I doubt anyone will ever read this, but I'm tossing it out there just in case.

I was thinking recently (after my previous post) about the stories I remember reading in the magazines Galaxy and If in the early 1970's. One story from that time was called "Fusion" and I recall it quite vividly. Sadly, I don't remember the name of the author or the publication date or even which of the two magazines had the story, although I assume the story was in Galaxy because it was definitely in the science fiction category.

It had to have been published prior to the Summer of 1973, because I know I read it while on vacation then. The story was about a popular auto race in which different types of cars competed against each other, with the winner being chosen for production (I think that was the prize, but it may have been that the audience purchased the winner's type of car). The race itself was a no-holds-barred, almost demolition derby event in which the drivers were often killed. The protagonists of the story drove a fusion-powered car. Thus the title.

It was a very entertaining little story and I'd like to find it again, but I donated my old Galaxy and If magazines to the local library when joined the Navy. I can find no lists on the internet of the old publications. I can also find no reference to a short story with that title.
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Television Review: Doctor Who, Death in Heaven [Nov. 12th, 2014|12:52 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Dissing Death in Heaven

Image: Clara walks among gravestones.

Almost there. With only a Christmas "special" still to dread, the 2014 slog that was Doctor Who's 8th revived series has, mercifully, nearly come to a close (if not to a merciful close).

An an honest critic must give Steven Moffat his due. From Danny Pink's classroom tears in his introductory episode, to a payoff for television's Least Convincing Romance Ever, to the Doctor's query, "Am I a good man?", with which the series opened, at least this year, Moffat didn't drop any of the major plot points he raised during the series. (Well. Maybe one. Time will tell.) The answers were neither clever nor convincing, but at least they were provided.

Yes, that's faint praise; and probably too generous. For along with the answers, "Death in Heaven" slaps us with un-foreshadowed plot twists out of sketch-comedy satire, blatant emotional manipulation, a debate on moral philosophy whose sophistication would shame a class of 12 year-olds, and an entirely unwelcome appearance by a Magical Negro.

But tell us what you really think! I hear you cry. Of plots and themes and lies and agonies. Spoilers and cussing as usual. I think most of you know the drill by now.

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Television Review: Doctor Who, Dark Water [Nov. 6th, 2014|02:02 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Throwing out the Doctor with the Dark Water

Image: Clara has regrets

"Dark Water," the 11th entry in a 12 episode series, trundles along with a certain amount of professional competence, but is very far from being good drama.

The episode bears almost all the flaws we have come to expect from Steven Moffat's latter oeuvre. A story with the density of rotten sea-ice that groans along at a glacial pace and tedious swaths of explanations that don't, actually, explain much at all.

The upside includes excellent performances by Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman and, especially, from Michelle Gomez as the mysterious Missy.

Want more? Throwing out the Doctor with the dark water includes spoilers as per usual, including a couple of Big Reveals; click at your own risk if you haven't seen it yet.

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Television Review: Doctor Who, In the Forest of the Night [Oct. 27th, 2014|04:18 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

In the Forest of the Blight

Image: The Doctor and Clara look out from the Tardis as it floats in space. Screenshot from "In the Forest of the Night".

Here we go again: interrupted for a couple of weeks by an influx of competence, Steven Moffat's Doctor Who is once more circling the black hole of creative bankruptcy. Moffat's name isn't on "In the Forest of the Night" — the official blame goes to one Frank Cottrell-Boyce — but his fingerprints are all over it.

Child in peril? Yup. Magic child in peril? Yes and yes.

Lots of expository dialogue? Oh, yes.

Completely implausible reactions to extraordinary events? You know it.

Magic Reverso-Babble TM to ensure story has no lasting consequences? Why not? We're in Moffat-land!

Truth is, there is so much wrong with "In the Forest of the Night" it's hard to know where to start — or where to stop. I made every effort to be parsimonious in my critique, to prune away the dying limbs the better to reach the rotten heart of the tale, but did I succeed?

You can judge for yourself by reading In the Forest of the Blight. Snark, spoilers and baffled vitriol behind the link, as usual.

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Review: Doctor Who, Flatline [Oct. 24th, 2014|03:35 am]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Flatline falls short

Image: The Doctor looks out through a tiny Tardis door. Screenshot from "Flatline".

I did it again. Made the mistake of watching a recent episode of Doctor Who a second time.

I really enjoyed "Flatline" the first time around. I barked delighted laughter and might even have gasped in surprise a time or two. I found Rigsy charming and Clara on her own a small revelation.

But when I queued up the story for a second go-through, things were not so good. Not terrible, but too obvious by half and derivative without improving on the inspiration.

My full review, as always, includes spoilers along with my keen analysis (or so I like to believe) and charming nervous exhaustion. This time, there's also a poll! Click here for the full story.

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Television Review: Doctor Who, Mummy on the Orient Express [Oct. 19th, 2014|09:05 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Doctor Who takes the A-Minus Train

Image: Clara raises a glass to the last hurrah. Screenshot from "Mummy on the Orient Express".

I know, I know. This series' ninth episode aired yesterday and here I am, posting about the 8th. I have no excuses, except that of "Life got in the way."

To those who'd wondered where I'd gone (and missed me) I say, "Mea culpa and that I'll try to do better with 'Flatline'." To those who'd wondered where I'd gone (and hoped I'd stay away), I say only, "You can't get rid of me that easily! But if it's any consolation, my reappearance comes with a surprise: I quite liked 'Mummy on the Orient Express'!"

What a difference a good script makes.

I was all-too-ready to dislike "Mummy On the Orient Express" as much as I did last week's "Kill the Moon".

MOOE's title suggested only another tired homage to, or rip-off of, someone else's creation. But what do you know! MOOE was funny and intriguing (if poorly-directed), with a believable interpersonal drama and Peter Capaldi's best performance yet.

In just 45 minutes, Jamie Mathieson managed what Steven Moffat and his previous collaborators could not in seven episodes: to make Clara's doubts about the Doctor believable.

Was "Mummy on the Orient Express" a perfect episode? Not quite. But it was better than most and a lot better than we have become accustomed to in recent years.

As usual, my full review is spoilery. Not so usual, it is hardly angry at all (which might help to explain why I am so late in its delivery). Also not so usual, this might be the first time I find myself in fundamental disagreement with Patches365. Which kind of makes me wonder if I'm wrong.

Click here for Clara's Choice.

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Television Review: Doctor Who, Kill the Moon [Oct. 8th, 2014|08:06 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Abort the moon!

Image: Screenshot of spiders - or is that giant bacteria? - on the moon? Screenshot from "Kill the Moon".

If Steven Moffat isn't trying to abort the program he has had under his control since 2010, at the very least it's clear that he doesn't care what happens to it once it grows up and moves out of his house.

"Kill the Moon" could be watched as a personal drama about the Doctor and Clara Oswald; it might be viewed as a girls' own adventure, with trouble-maker Courtney Woods finally given her chance to shine; or seen as a feminist fable, with three women — maiden, teacher, crone — deciding the fate of all humankind. Could. Might.

Other interpretations will no doubt be constructed; there are among Doctor Who's fandom those as creative as they are forgiving.

 

Transcripts R Us!


For those interested in the program's thematic debate, I confess I went to the trouble of transcribing the key minutes.
I don't know whether to apologize or to brag, but it is here if you want it.

I am not part of that wing. I don't want to "fix" the program with fanfic nor weave intricately-constructed academic analyses to fill in plot-holes and justify self-contradictions of character and story. All I want are stories that don't insult my intelligence.

Is that really so much to ask?

Apparently so. "Kill the Moon" offers as the basis of its plot a "physics" whose idiocy would have appalled Newton — or even Douglas Adams. To add insult to insult, "Kill the Moon" is an unsubtle morality tale pushing a political agenda that adds a kiloton of fuel to the idea that Steven Moffat is not exactly, shall we say, a feminist-friendly thinker.

In other words, Won't somebody think of the embryo?!? Angry words and spoilers — they all live behind the cut.

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Television Review: Doctor Who: The Caretaker [Sep. 30th, 2014|01:03 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Little care from The Caretaker

Image: The Doctor with sign reading "GO AWAY HUMANS". Screenshot from "The Caretaker".

The short version?

I really enjoyed "The Caretaker" when I watched it late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

I'd been awake almost 20 hours when I hit Play, had worked 11 of those hours at the day-job and spent nearly two more riding to and from there on my bicycle.

I was tired, and I admit cracked a beer or three as I live-tweeted my first reactions.

To my regret, those tweets were an enthusiastic tailings pond spill I wish I could take back. But they do represent as "real" a reaction as my subsequent re-evaluation. And since I don't believe in censoring reality, they will stay on my Twitter timeline and live on also as a sidebar — pre-commentary, if you like — to my review.

The short version is that I thought the episode pretty awful when I watched it by sunlight. To paraphrase the blogger Patches365, it was a mean-spirited "tragedy of blunders" built on — not one — nor two, or even three — but four idiot plots. And it was an episode that tossed aside its best performer in favour of the cheapest of cheap laffs.

The long version? The long version lives on my site, of course, along with spite, spoilers and some thoughts on patterns as we reach the half-way point of what we can only hope will be Steven Moffat's farewell turn as Captain of the foundering ship Doctor Who.

Click here for Little Care — Take Two. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Television Review (of sorts): Doctor Who, Time Heist [Sep. 22nd, 2014|05:43 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Feels like a contractual obligation

Image: Clara looks resplendent in suit and tie.

No real rant, certainly no rave.

I had a busy weekend, back at soccer on Sunday and entertaining (and being entertained by) an old friend come to town after far too long.

Still managed to check in on the latest episode of Doctor Who, but I almost wish I hadn't. I know I'm sorry I watched the episode a second time.

But I've made a commitment and I'm not breaking it. I live-tweeted the episode on Sunday morning and have added a few thoughts now. For the record, and probably for Geoffrey Dow completists only (dare I dream such folk exist?), click here for Time Waste.

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Television Review: Doctor Who: Listen (redux) [Sep. 16th, 2014|02:04 pm]
Science Fiction Community

ed_rex

Watching "Listen" (again)

Image: Detail of the Doctor at the new Tardis control console. Screenshot from "Listen".

The first time I watched "Listen", home after an 11-hour shift that followed an early rise, I wrote, "I definitely enjoyed it, definitely want to watch it again." I also wrote, "It sounds silly when I type it out, but [the story] gave me the shivers ..."

Well, hell. I did watch it again and now it seemed silly when I watched as well. There were no shivers to be found.

What was there was a mixed bag of an episode, combining Steven Moffat's still-effective skills at atmospheric scenes, with a show-runner's determined but mis-guided need to further place his singular stamp upon Doctor Who's cannon of mythology and back-story, and proof (as if any more were needed) that as a writer, he gives not a single damn for story-logic.

You don't have to read my review if you don't want your fun spoiled, you know. You really don't. Spoilers (in both senses of the term) ahoy!

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