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Sci-Fi Classic: Farnham’s Freehold By Robert Heinlein

farnham.jpg I’ve always been a major fan of Robert Heinlein. Actually, scratch that. I’ve always been a major fan of Robert Heinlein’s early work. Old age did not do well by Bob H, and as he got older his biting, pointed writing became bitter and the sexual freedom he espoused in his work turned into the mad ravings of a crazy old man who was clearly, despite his age, still very very horny. His early and mid-career work is genius though, and he’s one of the original fathers of meaningful, modern science fiction. He’s also written a lot of books, forty plus years of material actually, and even though I’m something of a Heinlein superfan there’s still some of his stuff I’ve missed. Stuff like “Farnham’s Freehold”.

“Farnham’s Freehold” fell into my lap courtesy of my brother in-law, who’s blind and therefore has awesome access to all kinds of free reading material online. He has access to thousands of books in plain text format, which he then plugs into a voice program to read it back to him. He had “Farnham’s Freehold” sitting on his computer, and when I saw Heinlein’s name on it I demanded he hand it over. So I spent the next few nights squinting into my Treo, where I’d dumped the text of the novel in a blatant act of literary piracy. Hey, give me a break here. It’s not like you can walk into a bookstore and find it on a shelf. I read whatever I can get my hands on.

As a Heinlein fan I know how hit or miss he can be as an author, but it only took a few pages before I knew “Farnham” was a hit. The book instantly sucked me in, with its Cold War era tale of a family hiding inside a home constructed bomb shelter when the doomsday clock strikes eleven and nuclear war lands right on top of them. The interesting thing about Heinlein’s writing, perhaps here more than in anything else he’s ever done, is the way in which he manages to convey such a vivid picture of what’s happening… but without bothering with actual visual descriptions of the environment in which he thrusts his characters. Rather than describing the way his world looks, Heinlein chooses instead to describe the way his characters react to it, and through them his readers not only get the picture, but sometimes a deeper understanding than you’d get had he described simple surface knowledge.

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Never Name Your Terminator

sarahconnor.jpgI’ve given it a few episodes now, and I think I’m ready to declare Terminator: The Sarah Chronicles good. Really good.

Against all odds they’ve managed to retain the gritty, hard-edged action style of the movies while at the same time adding a more thoughtful, dramatic side to cater to the limited effects budgets and multiple episode requirements of television.

A lot of the credit for it working has to go to Lena Headey, who, I wish had been playing the character all along. No offense to Linda Hamilton, it’s just that unlike Arnold as the Terminator, her performances in the movies simply haven’t aged well.

I do have one question though. Are the scenes with the cops scripted by a different writing team? They seem entirely out of step with the rest of the series, and worse they’re incredibly clumsy. How many times do we have to watch Agent Ellison make some perfectly logical, intelligent point only to be shouted down by the gang of adolescent teens that serve as his colleagues? I’m getting a little sick of that dynamic. We get it, Ellison is on his own. No one believes in him. Now someone feed that blonde chick to this week’s Terminator.

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Iron Man’s Super Bowl Performance

The Iron Man movie got an awesome new trailer tonight. Everything I see from this movie leaves me speechless… and I don’t even really like the character. This trailer, like every other Iron Man trailer, will blow your little sci-fi geek mind. Watch it:

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Dear JJ Abrams: Star Trek Fans Need A Hug

Star Trek movie Dear Mr. Abrams,

I’d like to talk to you for a moment as a Star Trek fan. It stopped being fun to be a Star Trek fan some time in the 90s (probably when Voyager got lost on television), but hey we’re still around. We do other things these days, we watch romantic comedies with our wife, and when she’s not looking we get excited about Battlestar Galactica; but for a lot of the people who have recently been waiting in line for movies like Star Wars and The Matrix, it’s Star Trek that’s their first love. The old girl just hasn’t been treated properly in awhile. We have high hopes that you’ll be treating her better.

Except some of us were wondering, do you know what you have your hands on here? I ask, because so far your efforts to bring a new Star Trek movie to the screen have been shrouded in absolute secrecy. I understand that you might not want to spoil the entire plot and that you can’t exactly announce cast members until they’ve been hired (I’m warming up to John Cho as Sulu by the way), but that’s not what I’m talking about here. The problem you see, is that this is not Cloverfield or Mission Impossible. Those properties don’t have decades worth of dedicated fans and history behind them. This is Star Trek. It’s been around since the 60s, and the eyes of millions upon millions of devoted followers are upon you around the world.

I question whether or not you’re aware of Star Trek’s fan base, because so far you’ve been treating your project as if it’s Cloverfield, when in fact it is not. I’ve heard you mention us, your film’s fan base, in several of your interviews; but simply mentioning us doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything. You’re playing your cards awfully close to your vest. As with Cloverfield, we’re not even entirely sure what you’re calling this new Trek adventure, let alone what this movie is about. With Cloverfield it’s exciting, because you’re producing something brand new and unknown. With Star Trek, well I have to be honest, it’s making us Star Trek fans pretty uneasy.

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Up Close And Personal With The New Captain Kirk

p1193044.JPGIf there’s one thing we Star Trek fans may want to get our hands on more than a decent picture of the new Enterprise, it’s a good look at the new guy who thinks he’s going to play Captain Kirk.

His name is Chris Pine, and unless you’re willing to go out and rent the awful movie he made with Lindsay Lohan a few years ago (and trust me, it’s not worth it), then your first place to get a feel for what he’s all about will be in the upcoming movie Bottle Shock. In it, he plays the son of Bill Pullman, a California wine maker. Pine sports long, flowing locks and spends much of the movie getting drunk, smoking pot, and looking damned pretty.

Our friends over at Cinema Blend got a chance to meet Chris up close and personal at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Their assessment: A nice guy who inexplicably wore a belly shirt. No really. The guy’s t-shirt, for some reason, didn’t cover his belly button. Maybe if my belly button was that chiseled I’d want to show it off too.