June 21st, 2008


Sounds familiar

This is an article about visiting an asteroid, which somewhat reminds me of Mary Doria Russel's The Sparrow. But what caught my eye was Boing Boing's quote, which included this:

An asteroid-bound crew would therefore need to “bring mission control on board,” says Korsmeyer, in the form of highly automated decision-making software. “When something bad happens, which tends to happen quickly, the crew and systems will have to manage it on their own. This is something humanity hasn’t done yet.

And I thought, "Huh?" One of Russel's points in writing The Sparrow was that she was replicating the first-contact scenario from the first Europeans making it to America and fucking things up - because they were on their own. As it happens, dealing with the consequences of Things Going Wrong, while isolated in a wholely hostile and unforgiving environment, with nothing to help you except what you thought to bring with you, is exactly the scenario faced by humanity for almost all of its sea-faring period.

And while the problems humanity faces in space might be different from those of, say, a merchant sailing vessel halfway across the Atlantic, or a nuclear submarine maintaining radio silence beneath the North Pole, I'm pretty sure that humanity's probably going to be better equipped to face them without the help of automated decision-making software...
  • Current Mood
    No Tech Support in space
tardis oldschool

It's the end of the world. Again.

There's been a certain post-apocalyptic feel to my reading and viewing lately.

The biggest clue has been Survivors, of which katlinel and I have just watched Season One. And jolly good it was, too. Considerably less gloomy than I'd expected (my old-school expectations being coloured, as they are, by fuzzy memories of Threads), and entertainly. Particularly with Tom Price being played by Zathras. Not that fussed on seeing more, though, given that the cast-interviews on the disc revealed that Abby's not in it any more, and she was the core (it was getting increasingly annoying to see Greg turn into Action Man).

Then there's Warren Ellis's FreakAngels, a free weekly comic that comes out each Friday (computer failures permitting). Set in a flooded future London, it's following a group of teenagers with mind-powers who are, it seems, responsibly for the whole fucking mess. Good characters and dialogue, but there's not a lot that's happened, yet, and the six-pages-each-week format seems to be irrespective of story beats. That's your six pages this week, moving on. Who cares whether this is a good place to pause? Well, me...

Pride of Baghdad is a one-off comic book by Brian K. Vaughan, following four lions who escape from Baghdad Zoo during Desert Storm. Entertaining and heart-breaking, but brief. Nice art. Would make a nice movie, but it's too short.

Vaughan's also the writer behind Y: The Last Man, a long-running series about life after something wipes out the entire XY-portion of primates, with the exceptions of Yorick, a not-that-great escape artist, and his pet monkey Ampersand. I've read volume 1 a couple of times, and enjoyed it. Need to find somewhere that's stocking volume 2 - most places have higher volumes.

And then there's Buffy Season 8. The first volume was scripted by Whedon directly, but volume 2 is by that man again, Brian K. Vaughan. Not that you'd notice - the dialogue's spot on, with Faith coming back into the mix too, and a nice, dark line from Giles. Xander's adapting well to life running a military operation with five hundred slayers from a castle in Scotland, and the Bad is nicely oppressive. God, you think, I've missed these characters. Unfortunately, each volume has about as much story as an episode. There's a lot of characters to juggle, lots of pipe laid, and lots of great dialogue, but they go by very quickly. I know there are quite a few issues to make up one episode, so having someone surprisingly teleported out of the castle might not seem that repetitious issue-on-issue, but in TV terms, that's twice in two weeks. Hmm.
  • Current Music
    Earworm: R.E.M. Guess which.
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