Monday, February 28, 2011

Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne



I just finished Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne last night. I've gotta say, it's a mess.

The world just does not track true to me. No justification is given for the levels of technology that suddenly appear and would have been useful just pages before (or even afterwards in different applications). What powers the Robots? They are never depicted 'eating', fueling up, or recharging. Why would you bother collecting bauxite ore if you think Aluminum is mythical? How can you develop nuclear reactors if you don't even understand the role that oxygen can play in chemistry or metallurgy? Why is the main weapon of the Robots an awl (as opposed to a stiletto or rondel)?

I even found a major typo!

At least the philosophical issues are interesting and the action fast paced. The narrative is, in fact, quite addictive. I can hardly wait for the next book in the Penrose series!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven


I thought that Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven fit in very well with the series. It is a little short, and a bit too concise, but that probably helped the pacing.

It is a thoroughly entertaining continuation and, perhaps, conclusion to the series.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Tron: Legacy in IMAX 3D

So, a couple of weeks back I went to watch Tron: Legacy. I admit that I entered the theatre with trepidation. Not only was this the first movie that I would be seeing in Imax 3D, but the movie itself represented a new chapter in one of my favourite childhood stories and sequels are rarely any good, let alone one that comes out 28 years after the original.

But I loved it!

Sure it messes with many of the conventions of the original (upgrades perhaps?) and it raises more questions than it answers, but it is quite lush both visually and sonically. And it's just great fun.

The soundtrack/score by Daft Punk is absolutely perfect for this movie. It is electric, moody, and atmospheric without ever being intrusive.

My one wish would have been that they not do the de-aging entirely through CG. It looked so fake to me, although my sister couldn't tell. NCIS did the de-aging much better through practical effects, although admittedly they did not have to take as many years off of Rocky Carroll's face.


I was quite impressed with the 3D IMAX. It was clearer than the 3D on a regular screen. The only negative was the glasses. They re-use these glasses so they will be scratched to some extent. Also, my nose and ears hurt when I took the glasses off.

Surprisingly, only part of the movie is in 3D. It's an interesting choice.

Now I know that the Imax screen is physically 4:3, but they letter-boxed the projection of Tron: Legacy to it's native widescreen . . . mostly. I thought it was strange that it would switch back and forth between aspect ratios until I read this.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Dragon Book


I have just finished reading The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. I thouroghly enjoyed it; not a single story failed to entertain!

As a fan of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, I'll admit that the main reason I purchased this book was for her story, Vici. I was not dissapointed.

I was, however, pleasantly suprised that the other stories in the book also held my interest. There is some great variation represented by this collection in both setting and type of type of dragon(s) encountered. For instance, one story may take you to Tsarist Russia where winged terrors are hatched from firery eggs while another takes you to a 195o's nuclear testing site in Nevada where an ancient alien dragon curse comes to light.

While each story has it's own weaknesses, and some stories are weaker than others, the collection as a whole was excellent.

My favorite stories were:

  • Humane Killer by Diana Gabaldon and Samuel Sykes
  • A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad Williams
  • None So Blind by Harry Turtledove
  • The War That Winter Is by Tanith Lee
  • The Dragon's Tale by Tamora Pierce
  • Dragon Storm by Mary Rosenblum

Oh, and don't let John Jude Palencar's destinctive cover image fool you - the book does not contain a story by Christopher Paolini.