Archive for the ‘star wars’ Category
Some of you live in a permanent state of it. Some of you don’t know what the fuss is all about.
I get it every few years.
It’s called Dune Fever.
And I go fucking crazy.
So crazy I start to think the series actually lives up to its promise in the later books.
Actually, my view of the Dune franchise falls somewhere in between (a) those people on the one hand who think the first book ruled and the rest was just a giant drone-on, and (b) those people on the other hand who will buy and read anything as long as it has a sandworm and at least half of Frank Herbert’s name on it. Specifically, I think DUNE MESSIAH is every bit as good as DUNE — I could talk all day about how it’s, frankly, the best sequel ever written.
But then cometh the Fall.
CHILDREN OF DUNE.
Where Herbert’s editors gave up. And I’m tempted to as well.
But I stumble on, like the dying Planetologist Kynes staggering through the desert . . I reach GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE, and it all comes back to me in one awesome rush that lasts until . . . oh, about the hundred page mark of HERETICS OF DUNE. Which I finally finished three years back, in the midst of a business trip abroad where I literally had no other reading and no other excuses.
Now I’ve bought CHAPTERHOUSE DUNE and will be reading it on the plane to Norwescon this weekend. Stay tuned.
(And no, I don’t think I’m ready to deal with the Anderson/Herbert collaboration yet. For now, I refer you to my esteemed colleague David Louis Edelman, who’s said it all better than I could.)
“Predicting anything’s hard, especially when it involves the future.” —Yogi Berra
Vernor Vinge and I tag-teamed “science fiction hour” at the National Research Council in D.C. yesterday; he was calling in from his home in California while I foolishly biked ten blocks through the humidity over to the National Academies of Science. Under the chairmanship of Gilman Louie, the NRC is doing some really interesting stuff, drawing on more than just the usual Inside the Beltway perspectives in taking stock of what’s to come. My contribution can be found here: a series of slides that start by outlining the current realities of 4G warfare, and then sketch out a vision of what future 5G space/net-centric warfare might look like.
And for another vision of what such warfare might look like, check out BURNING SKIES!
Along with Vernor Vinge (!), I’ll be presenting on Forecasting Future Disruptive Technologies in downtown D.C. at 1 p.m. at the National Research Council/Air Force Studies Board (The whole day looks to be very interesting; I gather Vernor and I each have 15 minutes, and then there’ll be a half hour of discussion. As to the address:
Keck Center, National Academies
500 5th Street, NW
Washington D.C. 20001
Did I mention that BURNING SKIES is available on Amazon and all sorts of other cool places?
Boeing has fired its airborne laser in the first comprehensive end-to-end test of the world’s most pimped-up 747. Next year’s follow-up test will feature an attempt to shoot down a real missile; after that, the ABL will be cleared for operational status, assuming Obama doesn’t scrap the whole thing. The new president will have to decide fairly early on how he intends to play the missile defense card; particularly now that he’s picked Gates, he’ll be under enormous pressure from the Pentagon to keep (if not accelerate) BMD.
The logical culmination of all this, of course, is weaponry in space. It’s doubtful that’ll occur or reach maturity on Obama’s watch, but space-based lasers capable of hitting missiles in their booster phase would constitute the crown jewel of any missile defense architecture that’s worth the name. But the public is skittish about weapons sailing over their heads several times a day, so for now all the focus has been on surface- and air-based hardware. The advocates of the current generation of missile defense learned their lesson well from SDI: don’t propose everything at once, and don’t talk about space until you have to. That’s why they’ve made far more progress than SDI ever did. The fact that the technology has come a long way doesn’t hurt either.
I’ll be reading at Flights of Fantasy Books in Albany, NY tonight at 7 p.m. If you’re local, stop on by!
And on an unrelated note: I was watching STAR WARS Episode One again last night, and realized something about it. Which is: the first ten minutes are pretty much perfect. The Jedi diplomatic mission, the double-cross, the frenetic pursuit through the corridors of the trade federation ship . . . that stuff ROCKS. In fact, the movie continues to rock until they invade the planet and we encounter Jar-Jar. I know a lot has been said about that guy, and believe me, I’m not going to offer any incredibly insightful revisionism re his role. You’ll find no new interpretations here. In fact, I’m a staunch traditionalist on this front: because if I’m right about the first ten minutes of PHANTOM MENACE, then Jar-Jar didn’t just wreck the movie. He wrecked an awesome movie.