The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Favorite Episode of Firefly...

If you have never seen Firefly, you cannot know what your are missing.  What a series, even though it was short-lived.  Firefly is a sci-fi show that is set in the future, about 500 years distant, and depicts events that might take place once the people of the Earth begin to populate the known galaxy, or as the characters in the show put it, "the 'verse," Short for universe.  As humans move into the frontier of space, Firefly's people begin to take up cowboy types of personalities in many cases. 

The series aired in 2002 and it was a huge disappointment to fans when the Fox network decided to cancel it.

My favorite episode was entitled, "Out of Gas," the eighth episode of the series.  Now notice I said 'my favorite' and not the best.  Actually, in my humble opinion, there were no bad episodes of Firefly, all fourteen episodes are great and a testament to the show's creator, Joss Whedon.

Nathan Fillion as Mal
Firefly Class ship Serenity
"Out of Gas" opens with Serenty's captain, Malcom (Mal) Reynolds lying on the deck, bleeding from a stomach wound.  The ship has been abandoned by the rest of the crew because of a failed engine part that was important to the production of air on board.  The episode flashes back and forth between the past, showing how Mal acquired the ship, and how he chose his crew, and forward to show the circumstances leading to Mal's predicament.  When the show gets to the point where Mal is lying injured on the deck, it progresses forward showing his attempt to repair his ship so he can call his crew back.

The reason that this episode is my favorite is because of the back story that is revealed.  As with all episodes of Firefly, there are some very intense moments, and some very humorous ones.  If you have never seen this series and you are a sci-fi fan, or a fan of westerns, or both, this is a must see.  You can get the entire series on DVD or BluRay DVD for a very reasonable price and is widely available.

   Serenity crew: Front Zoe (first officer), Mal, and Kaylee (engineer),  Back: Shepherd Book, River, "Wash," Jayne, Simon, and Inara.  Book, River and Simon joined the crew in the first episode.

It is too bad that this show was cancelled by Fox before it had a chance to really get going, as with so many quality shows on Fox, it seems that if the profits from the show are not immediate, the show Peter is dropped prematurely.  This especially seems to happen with shows in the sci-fi genre.

My other favorite was an episode called "Jaynestown."  I'll save that one for another time.

Other Sci-Fi Activity I have been engaged in...

Along with my re-watch of Firefly, I have also been continuing to watch Fringe.  I am currently in the second season of Fringe and am loving it more than ever.  The second season seems to be revolving around Peter and his back-story.  There are some really great episodes that give a lot of insight to Walter, Peter, and Olivia, and the circumstances of how they came to be who they are.  Great series.

I have also gotten caught up in Continuum on Syfy.  This is a great high-tech look into the old theme of cops and robbers with some very interesting plot twists and turns.  So far, this show is proving to be quite unpredictable which is helping to keep my interest.  I was forced to miss the 5th episode doe to circumstances involving family obligations, but will be streaming it from Amazon as soon as I finish writing this blogpost.

The circumstances of which I speak afforded me the time to listen to several podcasts about Continuum, and I was also able to listen to several audiobooks during the long drive to Green Bay, Wisconsin, about twelve hours from here.  The audiobooks I listened to were all by Peter David, were also abridged, and not bad listening on the drive.  I will add these titles to my audiobook list on the right side of the page in a day or two.

I was also able to read a lot.  There was quite a bit of downtime for me so I finished reading Star Trek: New Frontier - Treason and Blind man's Bluff (read this in two days), both by Peter David.  This completes my reading of the New Frontier series until a new story is released.  Well worth the time.  I also read ST: DS9: Wrath of the Prophets (which I will blog about later) and am now in the middle of ST: Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances.  That last one is turning out to be one hell of a story that I have a hard time putting down (pardon the cliche) by Keith R.A. DiCandido, Peter David, and Sarah Shaw.  I will also blog about the latter at some future date.

I would also direct you to listen to the Scifi Diner Conversations episode 74.  Listen for my comments on a few subjects there, as well as some stimulating conversation between the hosts and other comments from listeners.

That about catches you up on what I have been up to lately.

So, there it is...

I remain,



Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Dark Side of the Moon Race...

Walter Cronkite
I remember the early days of the space program.  My dad would wake me up in the wee hours of the morning whenever there was a launch on television.  We would watch and listen to Walter Cronkite as he and usually an astronaut would comment on mission details and would hang on every word as Jack King gave updates on the specifics on the condition of the space craft and astronauts aboard.  I remember how I viewed everyone at NASA.  In my mind, they were all a very large group of Boy Scouts who were above scandal, just as NASA, Life Magazine, and the television media would have us believe.  After I watched the movie, The Right Stuff, and read Tom Wolfe's book of the same title, my views grew up and I began to understand that the people at NASA were just as flawed as the rest of humanity.

I have just recently finished reading another book that has further shed some light into the wheelings and dealings that took place in landing men on the moon.  The Man Who Ran The Moon: James E. Webb and the Secret History of Project Apollo by Piers Bizony outlines the activities that took place during the tenure of Jim Webb, NASA Director from 1961 to 1968.

From humble beginnings growing up in North Carolina, Webb rose to become the second director of our nation's space agency.  When President John F. Kennedy declared in a speech that it was a goal of the United States to land a man on the moon and return him safely back to the earth before the end of the decade (1960's), Webb made it his personal mission to make it happen.  So began the dealings that chose where elements of the space agency were to be located, and what contractors would be chosen to build the machines.  It is really about the politics that surrounded the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.  This book tells the story of how congressmen, senators, and presidents jockeyed  to get NASA centers located in their states to aid their positive images for their constituents.  Most of what took place during Webb's time went unnoticed by the general public until the Apollo 1 fire that claimed the lives of astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffe.  After a microscopic investigation of that disaster, many of the back-room dealings were exposed and Webb was compelled to resign his position before the results of his work came to fruition.

Piers Bizony
Webb was was not painted as a shady character in Bizony's book, but rather as a man who was determined to make sure the job got done while facing impossible odds; especially the challenges of getting the program funded.  

Bizony wrote this book in a "just the facts" style, including an index and foot notes annotating his sources of information.  I wouldn't call this a very exciting read, but indeed very interesting for students of NASA history.  If you, like I did, have the "Boy Scout" image of the workings of NASA during the 1960's, and would like to preserve this image, you wouldn't want to read it.  It is a deep look into the behind-the-scenes workings of NASA.

Podcast News...
Recently I have listened to editions of the Scifi Diner Podcast episode #162.  In this episode, Scott and Miles discuss what they are watching and enjoying and include a very nice story about Stan Lee's efforts to help a young man keep his spirits up as he recovers from injury.

I also listened to Wayne Henderson's latest episode of LOSTcasting with Wayne and Dan as they discuss and play listener feedback on the lasting influence of Lost three years after the show was cancelled.  I never got to watch lost while it was on and have only watched the pilot episode, but that was a few years ago.  This episode has piqued my interest and I do intend to give this series a look, when and if I ever have time.

My Current Sci-Fi Acivity...
I have begun reading Peter David's ST: New Frontier series novel, Treason.  I also am continuing to stream Fringe from Amazon and am currently watching Firefly on Blue Ray.  I am getting into watching Continuum on the SyFy Channel and am really grateful that they are actually showing some sci-fi for a change.

Well, there it is...